Chapter 1: In Which Keith Thinks He Can Do It
The sky was only starting to grow lighter. Pinks and oranges were becoming vivid as the sun began to very slowly rise. This was either a time Keith was about to fall asleep or was already passed out soundly in his bed. Five in the morning was not a kind time for him. So, naturally, he didn't sleep at all. He grumbled lowly under his breath as he dragged his two suitcases over the threshold of the front door. Gentle bird chirps could be heard and Keith cursed at them in his mind, wishing their noise would stop.
He paused on the first step, staring at the man in front of him. Hands on his hips, head tilted back and enjoying the slight breeze in the air. A strong scent of strong cologne hit Keith's nose and burned slightly. He wrinkled his nose up in disgust. Lance went too heavy on it again.
How could his roommate be up and alive this early in the morning? Lance wasn't necessarily a morning person, but he did wake up earlier than Keith normally. He slowly turned around to look at Keith, a bright, white smile plastered on his face. Lance's skin was practically glowing. Perhaps he got up an extra hour earlier than Keith to prep his skin. Keith was almost positive one of Lance's bags was all skin care. Keith was almost positive on this road trip everyone would be subjected to a face mask or two.
"Good morning, Keith! Don't you look... chipper," Lance snickered, placed his hand over his mouth, trying to hide his smirk. Keith rolled his eyes at him, slamming down the handle of his suitcase. All Keith was bringing was two smaller suitcases. He didn't have much to begin with. But Lance on the other hand, looked like he was packed to stay months out on the road.
"Feeling chipper, Lance. Feeling it," Keith said with a little yawn at the end. He stretched his arms above his head, his tank top lifting with him. Lance was dressed in nice jeans, a cute shirt. Keith on the other hand, decided sweats and a tank top were perfectly fine. Later on is when he decided he would get dressed, but he planned on going right back to bed when they got picked up.
Lance's smile faltered for a moment. Keith could feel the tone in the air grow more serious in a quick moment. Great. Here it comes. Lance was going to try and talk to him about it. As if thinking about this entire situation didn't make Keith's skin crawl.
"Keith, really, if you don't think you can handle this road trip stay home. If I was in your situation and I had to spend like, two weeks trapped in a RV with my ex-boyfriend, I wouldn't go."
"I'll be fine. I'm doing this for Pidge. Besides, you're going with us now. I feel... a lot better with you with me. Shiro's going to be driving most of the time anyway. I can just... hide in the back with you. Or something. I'll... I'll be okay. I promise."
He wasn't going to be okay. It's only been two weeks since he broke up with Shiro, his boyfriend of four years. And now he was going to be spending the next two weeks in an RV with him and all of their friends.
It was nearing the end of summer. Pidge was going off to her first year of college, all the way in Houston, Texas. She was leaving Massachusetts, leaving her friends behind. So, as one last hurrah together as a group, Pidge and Matts' parents rented out a pretty incredible motorhome for them to take her to her move in day. They were going to see some sights, like D.C. or even Myrtle Beach! Anything they had time for. It was supposed to be a couple of weeks together as a group, to send Pidge off.
But Keith had to go and ruin everyone's fun.
It's not as if he actually wanted to end his relationship with Shiro. Hell, Keith was incredibly in love with that man. He had dedicated years of his life to him, even more than the actual duration of their relationship. He was positive Shiro was supposed to be his soulmate. But Keith couldn't give him what he wanted, that solid commitment. So, before Shiro could leave him and absolutely destroy Keith, Keith left him.
For two weeks Keith ignored every phone call, every text he received from Shiro. And even a few from Matt, his friend and Shiro's best friend. Keith didn't want to see his face again, worried he would give in to his weak heart and beg for Shiro's forgiveness. But there was the group road trip. Keith had to see him one last time. After this, he could slip out of their lives, and truly be the basement dweller he was.
Literally, Keith lived in the basement of Lance's family home. They had taken him in when he was younger and Keith appreciated it. He paid rent to them, even if Lance's mom refused it. She would always tell him 'family doesn’t need to pay rent'. But he found ways.
This was going to be the longest two weeks of his life.
"Keith, I can literally see on your face you're gonna fall apart."
Damn Lance. Damn him for being one of Keith's close friends and knowing him too well.
"I can do this, really. We're both adults. I'm sure he's totally okay. I know he'd been thinking of breaking up with me in the first place anyway," Keith said, rubbing the back of his neck. His voice cracked with that last sentence. He felt his heart drop to his feet, all of his insecurities creeping back.
"Yeah, I still think that's a load of horse shit. But whatever. There was no stopping you that day. You're too fucking stubborn. Do you know that, Keith? But we're all here for you. We love you, man," Lance said, stepping closer to Keith. Keith was busy staring at the grass below, watching it sway in the wind. He didn't even seen Lance place a comforting hand on his shoulder. A small gasp escaped his lips as he looked up at him. Lance truly had one of the warmest smiles he had ever seen. And in that moment, he was thankful he was going on the trip with him.
It wasn't long after that as the huge motor home rolled up in front of Lance's house. Keith didn't realize the thing was that huge. The Holts really went all out for their little girl. Lance started scooping up his bags as the door opened up and two people came running out. Mops of messy, warm toned brown hair, crooked smiles and lightly dusted freckles. The Holt Siblings.
"Morning guys! Who's ready to tackle the first leg of our journey?!" shouted Matt as he ran over to Lance and Keith. Trailing right behind him, was a near carbon copy of himself. Pidge.
"Usually, I'm totally against being up this early. But honestly? I'm way too excited to get on the road to care," Pidge said, her fists clenched up at her chest. Matt rest his arm on top of her head, leaning on her and flattening some of her poofy hair. She playfully shoved him off, which made Matt laugh, echoing over the quiet lawn.
"Same here! I could barely sleep! So, catch me sleeping for these first eight hours. Wake me up when we get to D.C," Lance said, pumping a fist into the air.
"Yeah, that'll probably be me. Oh! I forgot! We gotta discuss sleeping arrangements. I'll show you guys when we get in there!" Pidge said. She was practically buzzing out of her skin with excitement. Her smile was so genuine, eyes full of excitement. Keith could only smile back at her. She was the reason he was doing this, that smile. After these two weeks, who knew when the next time he would see that smile would be? Keith ruffled her hair, his heart warm and happy. He could do this.
"Hey, need any help?" called that deep, buttery voice Keith knew all too well from the RV.
He couldn't do this.
The moment he heard his voice, it felt like his whole world was falling apart. Every nerve in his body craved it, craved to hear it say his name again. But he couldn't fall weak to it; Keith had to stick to his decision. For his own good.
Everyone's heads turned toward the voice, Keith's eyes slowly trailing up. He leaned against the RV, thick arms crossed against his chest. The corner of his mouth was turned upwards in a small smile. The breeze was moving that small forelock of white hair. His black roots were slowly overtaking that faded white. It was a stylistic choice that Keith adored, even if white hair upkeep was atrocious. His forelock seemed longer, fluffier even. It had only been two weeks since he had seen him in person, but it's been ages since Keith's really looked at him. It had begun to be too painful to stare at him like he used to.
Keith's chest tightened and he sucked in his cheeks. His heart thumped loudly in his ears and he prayed it would stop. He wanted it all to stop. Keith could turn back right then and hide in Lance's basement forever. But Pidge grabbed his wrist and pulled him forward, meaning there was no turning back now.
"Matt, Shiro, can you two get their shit? I'm gonna give them the grand tour. I'm telling you guys, I must be the favorite child. For Matt's high school graduation, Dad gave him a pat on the back. Me? I get a cool ass RV and a road trip with my friends. Plus, spending money!" Pidge said, pulling Keith and Lance towards the RV.
"Man, must be nice having a super cool scientist dad guy. Thing. Man, it's too early to function," Lance said, trying to articulate his words and... failing. Keith rolled his eyes with a smile at them. He allowed himself to be dragged by this five-foot two creature because well, he loved her. And this trip was for her.
But Shiro was fast approaching. He was walking towards Matt as the three of them swooped past. Shiro's beautiful stormy grey eyes met Keith's briefly, but it was enough to kick his heart into overdrive. He felt his cheeks heat up as he looked away from Shiro. Did he see him blush? He hated how Shiro made him feel that way.
The stairs up to the RV were pretty wide, definitely not like anything he's seen before. Pidge had already bolted up the stairs, standing proudly inside. Keith and Lance made their way in, jaws dropped just slightly. It wasn't necessarily luxurious, but it was still a little bit swanky. Hard wood flooring, leather seats, and it was huge. Definitely the most space Keith had ever seen for an RV. He took a step in, just in mild disbelief. This was going to be their home for the next two-ish weeks.
"Okay so this is the main section. Got a pretty big dining area. It technically fits like, four people, but Shiro and his muscles count as like two and a half people. Which is totally fine cause like, we have this cool sofa. And guys, look at all this freaking counter space. Lance, you totally have to cook us like, good food. There's so much storage here, it's kinda unreal!" Pidge said, waving her arms all around.
Cupboards and cabinets were quite literally everywhere. Keith ran his fingers over the smooth counter top, nodding to himself. Lance and Matt were pretty good cooks, so hopefully they all didn't have to resort to just stove top ramen and microwavable meals all the time. There was even a large refrigerator. Keith knew they were going grocery shopping after people were settled in before hitting the road. So that was going to be something to say the least.
"Follow me, there's a bunch more to see. Also, check out that flat screen. Matt brought his PS4 and I have a crap ton of movies ripped to my computer. Plus, he has a bag of just DVDs. We're gonna be totally set for entertainment. Okay, so here's the shower. It's huge which is great for you giants. And behind this door is the bathroom. Lance, you are not allowed to take over the counter space. You get one little cupboard. We all get one little cupboard," Pidge warned, waggling a finger at Lance. Lance stared back at her with dramatic shock spread on his face.
"Lance, I'll share a cupboard with you. I don't have a lot of things. So you can spread out your things," Keith shrugged.
"Keith you're such an enabler and I love you for it. You know how to make me happy," Lance said, awkwardly wrapping an arm around Keith's shoulders. The space was tight, but Lance managed to make it work.
"So is there a door or are we just gonna be able to see who's showering?" Keith asked, arching a brow at Pidge.
"Sliding doors dude, sliding doors," she said, tapping at the frame. Lance and Keith nodded at her, following her into the back bedroom. This was quite a large bedroom, even for an RV. There was another flat screen television mounted across from a king-sized bed. There was plenty of storage space. Good because Lance surely brought a lot of stuff.
"Ugh please tell me I'm sleeping in here!" Lance said, throwing himself onto the bed. He stretched his arms out to his side with a yawn.
"Nice try. You're not driving. Lance you're sleeping on the pullout sofa out there. I'm on the lowering bed above the cockpit. Keith, you and Shiro are—oh. Shit. No, Keith you're sharing the pullout with Lance. Matt and Shiro are sharing this bed. Sorry," Pidge said, immediately catching herself. Keith stiffened up when she mentioned his name. Lance snapped up, looking up at Keith with worried eyes. Keith just waved him off.
He really threw them all off balancing by breaking up with Shiro. Pidge was about to carry on like nothing ever happened. But Keith ruined it all. He ruined the flow of the group. And he felt horrible about it, but not nearly as horrible as he did about leaving him. No pain will ever beat that.
"It's fine Pidge. It's only been two weeks. It's—It's still an adjustment for everyone. It's an adjustment for me. But it's fine," Keith said softly, clutching his fist at his side.
"I hope you're okay, man. You know if you need anything I have your back," Pidge said, giving him a thumb up and a big smile. Keith forced a small smile back at her.
"If you're in the bedroom watch out! We're coming in with Lance's crap! He's gotta go through it, put some away and then the rest goes under the damn coach!" Matt shouted as the other two came bursting through the door. Keith's body tightened up, incredibly anxious.
"God Lance, I'm the one moving to Texas not you!" Pidge groaned, stepping towards the back wall. Lance and Keith followed suit, allowing Matt and Shiro to drag Lance's four bags into the room. Matt tossed them onto the bed without a care, but Shiro was nicer and gently set his things down.
"I'm gonna go back and grab Keith's things. Lance, let me know when you're done so I can put your stuff below. Then one more stop and we can officially hit the road!" Shiro smiled, pointing a thumb over his shoulder. He quickly left the room as Matt and Lance were having a quiet stare down. Keith finally let out the tension in his body after Shiro left.
"Matt what the fuck. If you broke anything I swear to God you're going to pay!" Lance hissed.
"Quiet down, Princess. I didn't break anything! Dude, why did you bring so much shit?!" Matt replied, his eyes narrowing. Lance gasped when he called him princess, looking taken aback by it. Keith and Pidge just stared at the two in silence.
"I like to be prepared! Who knows what could happen?" Lance said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Nothing, literally nothing will happen!" Matt said.
"Lance has always been an over packer. Once, when we went on a family vacation, he had like five suitcases and his mom and dad got so mad we left hours late because they made him put back like three of them. I had a duffle bag that wasn't even full," Keith shrugged.
"Don't come crying to me Matt when you spill something on your clothes and have no spares!" Lance said, sticking his tongue out at him. Matt tossed his hands into the air, mumbling under his breath. He turned and walked out of the bedroom, moving towards the cockpit.
"Hey Keith! Could you come here for a moment?" shouted his voice from the front. Pidge and Lances' faces immediately snapped to Keith. His lower lip quivered as he tried to think of any excuse to not go talk to Shiro.
"Keith?" Lance whispered to him, gently touching his arm. Keith pulled his arm away and started walking towards the front of the coach. He could feel their eyes glaring at the back of his head. Keith wanted to stop moving, to ignore him, but his legs moved on their own. Traitorous bastards. No doubt this was his heart's work, not his logical mind.
He stood there, waiting for him by the door. His dark sweatpants hung low on his hips, just the smallest amount of pale skin peeking between them and the black tee shirt he wore. Keith gulped, remembering quick again why he adored Shiro in sweatpants. He tried to keep his eyes up, but staring at his face only hurt him further. So, he opted for his... neck.
"Come out here for a sec. Then you can put your stuff away and we can get going. Once Lance finishes back there too!" Shiro said, shouting his last sentence past Keith. One could almost hear the 'fuck you' in Lance's loud groan. Keith practically smiled at that. Shiro shook his head with a smile before starting down the stairs that led outside. Keith followed behind him, keeping his head down.
Shiro held his hand up for Keith, hitting the grass first. Keith stared at his hand for a moment, hesitating. His mind screamed at him to not grab his hand, but the rest of his body longed for his touch too much. He slipped his hand into his as Shiro helped him down. Even the smallest touch from him still sent electricity throughout his body. Each touch always felt like the first time.
They walked out onto Lance's lawn a bit before stopping to awkwardly stare at each other. Keith kept his arms crossed against his chest, his body language defensive and anxious. Shiro swayed on his feet, as if he was swaying back and forth about what to say.
"H-How have you been?" Shiro asked after the silence began to get uncomfortably awkward. Keith could only give him a look that read are-you-serious.
"Really? You brought me out here to ask how I've been?" Keith asked, placing a hand on his hip and cocking it out to the side.
"No! Well, yes and no. I haven't heard from you in weeks. I've been worried."
"Great. I'm managing. Like I do."
"Look Shiro, do you want me to stand here and cry? Cry about how these last two weeks have been the worst two weeks of my life? Do you want me to break down in front of you and whine about how much I miss you? How I regret so much? Too bad. You aren't getting that from me, Shiro," Keith snapped. Instantly, he felt bad for it. Shiro didn't deserve that. Keith had no idea what was going on in his head. Keith left Shiro, not the other way around. Keith had no reason to be so mean to him.
"I'm not asking for that. I don't know how much of that is true either. I just... Keith I miss you. No matter what I'll always care about you. Just because you aren't my boyfriend anymore doesn’t mean I stop wanting you in my life. You were my best friend first," Shiro said, holding his hand out to the side.
"I just really can't do this. I'm on this trip for Pidge. If it wasn't for her... you wouldn't see me ever again."
"Is that what's gonna happen? After this trip... are you going to walk out of my life? Our lives?"
Keith shifted uncomfortably, staring at the grass. He didn't really have an answer to that question. Really, he didn't want to leave them. But he had to. Before he could get hurt.
"Keith, I can't let you do that."
His head snapped up. Let him? Shiro didn't own Keith. It wasn't up to him whether Keith stayed in his life or not. It would always be Keith's decision. That sentence right there ignited an angry fire in him. His upper lip twisted in a small snarl.
"What the fuck does that mean? I'm not your boyfriend. I'm not your property. You don't tell me what to do like—like some kind of fucking commander. So what if I never see any of you again? No one would miss me," Keith turned around on his heel, heading back for the stairs.
"That's not true! I would! Keith, please would you stay out here and talk to me? Or at least hear what I have to say? God, just stop running away from me! You didn't let me speak before. You told me you wanted us to be over and you fucking hung up on me," Shiro said coldly. There was this mild authoritative tone in his voice. It was rugged and sharp and it was hot. Keith froze in his tracks.
"Whatever you say to me Shiro won't change my decision. I don't--I don't want to be with you anymore. It's just going to be like that," Keith said, his voice tight. Each time he said that it was another knife in his heart. He couldn't bear see his face. Keith was a coward for the first time in his life the first time he said that. He didn't even have the courage to break up with him in person. Keith simply called him and never let Shiro reply.
"I understand that. And I know better than maybe even you that you'll stick with your word. But—please. Give me just this. My final words on this and then we can put it behind us. So it's not weird and tense the whole trip. For our friends' sakes. For our own sakes," Shiro said, his voice much softer. He was almost pleading with Keith and he could hear the hurt in his voice. Keith sighed and turned around, shutting the door again. He stood in front of Shiro once more and gestured for him to start.
"While I don't understand why you wanted to leave me, I respect your choice. But please understand that these past two weeks have been truly hell for me. Most of it has been a black out mess, I won't lie to you. Keith Kogane, I'm in love with you. And that's not going to stop. I understand you don't want to be with me anymore, but I don't think I could handle losing you completely. My most trusted confidant, my best friend. Don't just—just leave my life completely. Please," Shiro said. He was vulnerable. He was expressing his feelings outwardly again. Something Keith always noticed was reserved for just him.
If Keith weren't in his life, would Shiro be okay? Keith always knew they had a relationship much different than anyone else's. Even before they became a couple. Their best friend relationship was vastly different than Shiro and Matt's or even his own with Lance. Shiro had always been his better half.
Which is why saying this to Shiro hurt even more.
"I can't promise you anything. This—This is just too painful for me. To be around you. I had to leave you for my own sake. And—And being around you all the time isn't going to help me get over you, Shiro. I really need to get over you. And you need to get over me," Keith replied curtly. Shiro looked defeated, his head lowering. Keith could see the pain on his face and it felt like someone had ripped out his own heart and threw it away. It pained him so bad to see Shiro like this.
"Understood. Thank you for speaking with me Keith."
But what could he say? The damage had been done. If Keith could go back in time and fix everything he would. But magic and time travel weren't real. And he was stuck in reality.
He wanted to scream at him that he loved him. To beg him to take him back and that breaking up with him was a huge mistake. Why in the world did he have to fear commitment so much? If he could just take that extra step for Shiro's sake, they wouldn't be in this position. They would be happy and together still. But Keith couldn't do it. And he couldn’t necessarily allow Shiro to leave him first. No, his stronger fears of abandonment and rejection took over. He had to leave him first.
It was a moment of dead air. But eventually Shiro lifted his head up, a false smile plastered on his face. Keith knew him too well, he could see the real pain hiding in his eyes. But Shiro could never show anyone, but him how he really felt. Things would go on as if their conversation didn't happen.
"Shall we get on the road then? If we wanna hit our stops and still get Pidge to school by move in day, we gotta get going!" Shiro grinned.
"C'mon Keith! I'm sure Lance has to be good by now. This thing has a lot of storage, did you know that? Like, a lot, a lot. It's pretty awesome actually!" Shiro said, walking past Keith, their shoulders brushing. He stomped up the steps, each another knife in Keith's heart.
"Shiro, Lance is trying to take our bed over. I'm not having this!" Matt whined as Keith followed Shiro inside.
"Sorry Lance, the drivers get the big bed. C'mon, sharing a bed with Keith isn't that bad. Trust me, I've been doing it for years. Err, did it for years," Shiro said with a light laugh at the end. Ouch.
"But—But—ugh! I think we should bed swap at some nights. Cause, like, this bed is so freaking comfy," Lance said, pouting his lips. Keith rolled his eyes at him.
"Lance makes a fair point," Pidge said.
"Shut it small fry. You're the lightest so you're sleeping on the bed above the seats. And you're stuck there," Matt said, waggling a finger at Pidge. She groaned and stomped her little feet. Pidge had something about her which always let her get her way, but Keith was sure they wouldn't budge on this.
"Actually, no I agree with Pidge. The four of us can bed swap. That way everyone gets a chance to sleep in the big bed. Except Pidge. Sorry, Matt's still right with that. We can't chance one of us bigger guys accidentally breaking the bed. Sam may actually kill us," Shiro said, rubbing the back of his neck.
Lance pumped a fist into the air and cheered, "Hell yes!"
"Ugh, fine, but Shiro and I get the bed first!" Matt said.
"Well, naturally I figured we would. Tonight, he and I can sleep in it. Tomorrow, Lance and I. Then he and Lance. Then Lance and Keith. Then Keith and... I," Shiro said. He trailed off towards the end. Keith knew it probably pained him to say that. Keith would honestly end up opting out of sharing a bed with Shiro. For his own damned sanity.
"Sounds like a plan! Okay, let's get Lance's extra shit down below and head off to a grocery store. It's getting past five thirty and we gotta be on the road to D.C as soon as possible!" Matt said.
Everyone dispersed after that. Keith began putting away some of his things in spare drawers throughout the back bedroom. Lance really did take over a bunch of space, but there were plenty of drawers and cupboards. Shiro and Matt took empty suitcase and stored them away under the coach. Shiro didn't say another word to Keith. And he wasn't sure if that hurt more or not.
But finally, everyone was situated and they were ready to roll. Shiro assumed his spot at the driver's seat, Matt at the passenger side. Pidge had set up her computer and sprawled out over the dinette's table. Lance and Keith were sitting on the sofa. Lance was mindlessly chatting at Keith, while Keith traced circles onto his thigh, not really paying attention.
"First stop, grocery store. Now, Dad gave Pidge and I a small grocery budget. So—mostly we'll cover like, actual food. But everyone buys their own snacks and drinks. Sound cool?" Matt said, turning to face everyone else as Shiro started to pull away from Lance's house.
"That sounds fair honestly. Dude, straight up bless your parents for this. They're covering pretty much everything!" Lance said, leaning back on the sofa. The sound of his skin squeaked against the leather.
"Well it was either this or a boring grad party. I chose this. Family members had mailed me my grad money though. So—thank God for that!" Pidge said, adjusting her glasses with a smirk. Matt mocked her, rolling his eyes as hard as he could.
"Alright everyone, let's get going!" cheered Shiro from the driver's seat. And they were off.
"Lance oh my God, would you stop running into me with your fucking cart?" Matt said, spinning around on his heels to snarl at Lance. Lance stuck out his tongue at him like a child.
Twenty bucks says they're gonna fuck, Keith smirked in his head. Normally, he would share aloud these kind of thoughts with Shiro, but that wouldn't happen anymore. Instead, Keith sulked behind everyone, watching Shiro push the other cart. He watched his shoulder blades move as he walked and pushed the cart. Keith wished he could walk beside him, but that wouldn't happen anymore. None of it will happen anymore.
"Okay, I can't take you two anymore. We're splitting up! I'm taking Matt with Lance's cart. Since it's empty anyway. Lance, you're staying with Shiro and Keith. You three get your own snacks and shit. We'll get real food," Pidge snapped, stopping in front of them. The carts skidded to a halt and everyone was quiet. She was definitely small and very fierce.
Pidge stomped away, pulling Lance's cart from his hands. Matt gave Lance the middle finger and Lance gasped. Yeah, Keith was positive they were going to sleep together before the trip was over. He just hoped he wouldn't be around to hear it.
"Matt is such a child! God, Shiro, how are you friends with him?!" Lance huffed, hands on his hips. Shiro gave him a smile with a little shrug.
"I don't know Lance. I wonder the same thing with you and Keith. How on Earth could Keith be friends with you?" Shiro teased.
"Okay, first of all, ouch. Second of all, you're so right. Keith, Keith my man, how do you put up with me?" Lance said, falling dramatically against Keith. Keith rolled his eyes and gently shoved him off him.
"I don't put up with you. You're always a menace. But I manage," Keith said. Lance gasped and stormed off ahead of them. He was always such a drama queen. But that was something about him Keith found endearing.
But he really wished he didn't get so far ahead. That left Keith walking side by side with Shiro. He could feel the hairs on his arm standing up just being a smidge close to him. Should he say something? Would Shiro even respond to him?
"So. Lance sure is—well, Lance," Shiro said softly. Well, at least Keith didn't have to start the conversation. At least they could have a conversation.
"He's dramatic. Love the guy though. Matt on the other hand—he's extra cranky today," Keith said.
"To be fair, he hasn't had coffee yet and neither have I. We're both a little out of it. I'll be buying a cup before we head out though. Sure would suck if I fell asleep at the wheel," Shiro chuckled. Certain death usually does suck, yes.
"I feel like there might be something budding between those two."
"Oh? Care to explain your reasoning?"
"Okay, hear me out. Remember when Lance had that crush on me? And he did everything in his power to annoy the ever-loving shit out of me?"
"As opposed to him now?"
"Okay, but this is different. He's being childish. Sticking his tongue out, hitting him with the cart. Dumb come backs. I think Lance might have a thing for Matt and doesn't know it just yet. So, I have a theory that they're gonna fuck before we get home," Keith said. Shiro stopped the cart to turn and looked down at Keith. He was smirking again, this time it touching his eyes. Keith bit down on his bottom lip, chewing on the loose dead skin there. God, how he had missed that look of his.
"Really? You have a theory, Mister Conspiracy Theorist? I think I know Matt well enough to know when he likes someone. And the guy isn't into men. I can tell you that," Shiro laughed. Another real laugh that was gentle and warm. It truly was music in Keith's ears.
"I don't know Shiro. I used to notice the way he would look at you. And we're all aware you're probably the most attractive man on the planet," Keith grinned.
"Nah, sorry Keith. That's definitely you. By a landslide."
His heart thrummed in his chest. How could they be this casual? Keith was literally thinking how things would never be the same, but this felt so natural. It was like nothing between them happened. He hated this because he knew he would slip into old habits. He couldn't let himself break down.
"C'mon Shiro. Don't start this again. You know how this always ends."
"True, but I don't think that'll happen anymore. Not that I don't want to, but you did end it."
Right. It always ended with them kissing. Fighting for dominance, with the first to break away being the loser of their argument. Keith had to watch what he said around Shiro. Unless he wanted to feel the pain behind each word over and over.
"H-Hey, are there any snacks you see you wanna throw in the cart?" Keith said, desperately trying to change the subject.
"Hmm, well I see that Lance has quite the handful. I dunno, you know I'm not a big snack eater."
"Alright that's a lie. You could eat an entire box of zebra cakes in a matter of two minutes. And I swear to God I've seen you snort the leftover salt after you've finished off a bag of pretzels. Don't lie to me Shiro! I know you best," Keith laughed, lightly shoving into his arm.
"Okay you got me. Grab me what you think I'll eat then. And I'll grab snacks I think you like. We'll see who knows each other better," Shiro suggested.
"Oh you're so on, Shiro."
Thus, began a good two minute race between the two, tossing in odd snacks as they ran up and down the aisle. Lance dumped his own things in the cart, watching them in a confused awe. Keith was positive he knew Shiro the best. He grabbed things he was positive he's seen him eat before. It was a mix of severely unhealthy snacks to heart healthy granola bars.
"I don't know Keith. You really think I'll eat Rice Krispie Treats?"
"Oh I don't think—I know."
They were grinning at each other from opposite sides of the cart. Keith's eyes stared down those cloudy greys. Lance looked between the two of them, face a mix of confusion and worry. For two people who were recovering from a break up they sure did look fine in that grocery store.
"You did a pretty good job Keith. Gotta say I'm impressed. But I think I won."
"Don't be so confident Shiro," Keith started, reaching down and grabbing the box of strawberry Poptarts sitting in the cart, "I hate strawberry."
"Well good thing they aren't yours! And I wasn't gonna share anyway!" Lance said, snatching the box from Keith, his eyes narrowed.
"I guess it's a tie then Shiro. We know each other's taste in snacks."
"After four years of dating and years of friendship I would hope we did. At the very least."
Great. Now it felt awkward. Keith stepped away from the cart, crossing his arms again and just sinking into himself. Shiro nodded to himself and grabbed the cart, pushing it away from them. Lance stared at Keith, his face only worried now.
"I'm going to head to the frozen section now. I'll meet you guys there?" Shiro called behind him. But he didn't give them time to answer, he just zoomed right out of the aisle.
"Keith, what the hell was that? You were like, being civil with him," Lance asked, poking Keith's bicep.
"I don't know. I get too comfortable around him. He's dangerous," Keith huffed.
"This whole situation is dangerous. I don't think you should have come on the trip."
"And miss seeing Mothman's hometown in person? Yeah, I don't think so."
"Dude, I would have taken you to see your precious Mothman hometown another time."
"Nope. Shiro promised me we'd stop there on the way home. And I'm too excited to stop that."
Lance rolled his eyes at Keith and wrapped his long arm around his shoulders. He crushed him against his side and dragged him down the aisle.
"Let's just finish shopping so we can take a nap. I'm currently dying to take one."
Shopping didn't take much longer after that. The bill was pretty hefty so Matt warned everyone to not pig out while on the road. No one could disagree with that. Putting away the food took no time at all with four people in the kitchen and one Pidge commanding everyone from the sofa. It was around seven when they officially hit the road.
Lance and Keith had taken over the bed in the back bedroom. Keith was falling in and out of consciousness as Lance played some random movie he took from Matt's DVD collection. He didn't pay any mind to it. He desperately wanted to sleep.
"Keith, I love you," cooed that velvety voiced. He loved the way his mouth moved with the 'oo' sound. Keith adored the way Shiro said his name. It always got his heart racing.
He spun around to see Shiro standing behind him. There was a smile on his face, as beautiful as an overcast day with a slight breeze that ruffled one's hair just right. Keith's favorite weather. Keith's favorite smile. He was overwhelmed with emotions, love, happiness, confusion, acceptance, passion and more. Keith ran towards Shiro who held his arms open for him.
Every part of Keith craved to be embraced by him again, wrapped safe and sound in those muscly arms. His happy place was always with Shiro. And he was going to get there again. Keith held his own arms out, ready to grab onto Shiro.
"Shiro!" Keith shouted, nearly jumping into his arms. But as Keith tried to wrap his arms around Shiro, he phased right through him. The mood shifted suddenly. That beautiful, warm dream glow disappeared. He was left with a dark and gloomy anxious feeling. Keith's heart was racing and he felt sick to his stomach. Slowly turning around after going through Shiro, he could see the smile he loved most was replaced with the most horrifying frown he had seen in his life. There was no color in Shiro's eyes, they looked absolutely dead. This wasn't his Shiro.
"I don't want to see you again, Keith. I don't love you. You'll never be able to give me what I want. You aren't worth it," Shiro said, his voice monotonous and cold. His knees trembled, bottom lip slightly ajar. Keith dropped to the ground. Those were the words he couldn't bear to hear Shiro ever say to him. His very fears presented right in front of him. Tears streaked down his cheeks, the only warm thing in this cool, empty room.
"Please don't say that. Shiro, I need you!" he whispered. Keith reached up an arm at Shiro, but the man took a step back from Keith.
"Don't speak to me. How can you say you need me when you're the one who ripped out my fucking heart? You make me sick," Shiro asked. He spit in Keith's general direction, causing Keith to fall back on his hands. This wasn't Shiro. This was his twisted mind trying to scare him. But some part of him actually believed this is how Shiro truly felt about him now. Would it be unjust if he did? Keith was horrible and Shiro deserved much better.
"Shiro, I love you!"
Keith's eyes snapped open. And for the first time in two weeks, he actually cried.
Chapter 2: Connected by the Stars
"It's not like I'm looking for a new relationship anyway. You see, my ex boyfriend is quite the catch. It's gonna be pretty hard to beat him," Shiro smiled, nudging him.
"Really? I heard your ex is a total coward. A real grade A asshole."
"Yeah, maybe a little. But the guy could make me laugh."
The gang arrives at their first camp stop. They couldn't be more excited to hit the pool and make memories. There, they meet the enchanting princess of the camp. Invited to a 2000s themed party they are sure they'll never forget, Keith is absolutely sure he's made everything in his life worse and much more confusing.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Squealing breaks were definitely a horrific sound. And definitely not something one should have as their wake up call.
Keith had immediately jumped off the sofa, eyes already on alert. Everyone else was definitely shaken up by it, but no one had assumed a defensive position like him. Worried glances were exchanged back and forth as they tried to figure out what happened in a matter of a few seconds.
"Sorry! Not as good at driving this monster as Shiro!" Matt called from the driver's seat, waving his hand in the air. Keith let out a small sigh of relief, rejoining Lance on the sofa.
"Christ Matt, maybe Shiro should just drive the whole time then. And we just take more breaks. Because that's not good. Dad will kill you if you scratch this thing," Pidge groaned, rubbing her temples.
"Well, we'll probably be dead if he does it again. Or if he actually hits a car next time, they might be dead. And I don't think pretty boy Matt will fare well in prison," Lance said, tapping a finger to his chin.
"I don't know Lance, the scar kinda makes him look tough," Shiro grinned.
"Yes, because the story of the two of you getting into a fight when you were freshmen is totally badass," Lance rolled his eyes.
"Hey! Matt tried to take me down. To be fair, when I was in ninth grade I was still pretty—pretty ripped," Shiro smirked, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Can confirm. Shiro has always been a fucking beef cake," Pidge said, not even looking up from her computer. Shiro could only shrug as a response.
"Also wait, can we rewind back to when Lance called me a pretty boy?" Matt said. He was too focused on handling the RV to contribute to the conversation. Thankfully.
"Yeah, I was waiting for someone to say something," Keith yawned, pressing his hand to his mouth. He glanced over to Lance whose cheeks were a light pink now. Got him. Keith was pretty sure Lance had a thing for Matt because he used to get called pretty boy when Lance liked him. All he could give Lance was an all knowing shit eating grin.
"Matt is subjectively pretty, I think we can all agree on that," Shiro said.
"Don't you mean conventionally?" Matt asked.
"Nope," grinned Shiro.
"Fucking roasted," Lance laughed. His laugh bounced off the walls as his whole body shook. The joke wasn't even that funny.
"Alright, alright, leave me alone. Hey, we're gonna be entering D.C in a few. We'll find a place to park and stretch our legs. Maybe go get some food," Matt said.
"It's almost five, so I'd be down for some food," Keith nodded.
"Well, it's about forty minutes to the campsite. We definitely want to get there before it gets dark. We got here a couple hours later than I wanted. So, our time here's gonna be super short," Shiro said, with a small sigh.
"Oh darn. Cause I was really looking forward to seeing the Washington monument," Lance said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Hey! We're going to Myrtle Beach for you! Shiro and Matt wanted to go to Washington D.C. That's what they wanted!" Keith scolded.
"It's fine. Maybe we can make a quick stop here on our way home...?" Matt said, glancing over at Shiro. Shiro gave him a little shrug, unsure of what they could do.
"I'll be okay if I don't get to tour D.C. I just—really want to park and relax at this point," Shiro said, stretching his arms above his head.
"Why don't we stay a couple extra days in D.C then? I'm sure we can find some cheap motels at some point. I know we only have the camp spot for tonight—so what about it? I'd be down to chip in. I know how excited Shiro was to come here," Keith suggested.
"That's not a bad idea. We can just... back pedal a bit? If everyone's okay with that. I volunteer to drive the extra eighty minutes total," Matt said. Everyone nodded in agreement. Keith caught Shiro's eyes, seeing his smile touch his eyes. He mouthed a thank you to him and Keith looked away, suddenly embarrassed.
"Okay! Why don't we go to camp then? I'm sure Matt and I could whip together some good food!" Lance said.
"I think that's a great idea! Matt, let me plug in the campground's address. There might be some tight turns on the grounds. Think you can handle it?" Shiro asked, grabbing Matt's phone off the mount and changing the address.
"Oh, I can totally handle it. By the end of this trip, I'm gonna be a real pro at driving this bad boy. What's the name of it again?" Matt asked.
"Thor!" Pidge chimed in excitedly.
Keith and Lance looked at each other for a moment before they erupted in laughter. What an absurd and yet oddly fitting name for this behemoth of a RV. They were all riding Thor—well in Thor at least.
Keith came down from his laugh high, running a hand through his hair. He could feel Shiro's eyes on him and he slowly turned his head. Shiro was giving him a gentle smile, peering over the passenger seat. Keith felt his cheeks heat up and he turned away again.
"I've missed hearing that," Shiro said softly. If Keith's cheeks weren't red before they certainly were now.
"God, me too Shiro. I know, my laugh is just the best," Lance praised, smirking at him. Keith silently thanked Lance for making it less serious. Even if he really didn't do it for Keith.
"I beg to differ. I think you sound like a dying seal," Matt said.
"Shut it up there! Or I swear to God you're sleeping outside," Lance hissed.
"All of you will sleep outside. Just watch," Pidge grumbled.
"You guys are so annoying. I'm gonna go take a nap," Keith said, stretching his arms above his head as he stood up.
"Keith you just took a nap. And before that nap, you slept for, like, five hours," Lance said. Keith stared down at him, his face completely serious.
"I'm taking. A fucking. Nap."
And no one argued with him after that.
Keith crawled on top of the big bed, sprawling his arms out to his side. He stared up at the ceiling, letting out a loud sigh. Things were getting too overwhelming with everyone in there. He just wanted a little break to himself. No one around to interrupt his thoughts—
"Hey, knock, knock," called Shiro from the door. Keith immediately bolted up right on his elbows. His eyes were locked on Shiro, untrusting. Shiro slid the door closed behind him and stood at the end of the bed.
"Overwhelmed? I could tell. I... wanted to check in on you. Make sure you're okay," he said gently. Shiro gestured to the bed, silently asking if he could sit. Keith drew his legs up to his chest and nodded. Shiro climbed on the bed, sitting cross legged across from Keith. His body language was relaxed, very soft. It made Keith feel a bit more at ease as he slowly slid his legs down a little. He scanned his face, trying to find ulterior motives. But, of course, he couldn't find any.
"If you knew I was overwhelmed, then you know I like being left alone," Keith challenged.
"That's true, but I was always your exception. Surely, things haven’t changed that much. Please, I'm just really worried about you," Shiro said.
"There's nothing to worry about. I'm super fucking tired, so I got overwhelmed quickly. Shit happens. I'm fine. I'm not that fragile," Keith said.
"Yeah, I know you're not. Doesn't mean I still don't worry about you like, always."
"Keith, please. I'm trying to be civil here."
"Yeah? So am I."
"You're being short with me."
"Cause you're making things awkward."
Shiro rubbed his temple, looking down at his lap. Keith watched him curiously, resting his chin on his knee. They sat in silence for a few moments. The only sounds were the idle chatter up front and the sounds of the RV going down the road. And of course, Keith's thumping heart in his ears.
"I don't want to make things awkward. I'm trying to be your friend. To keep you in my life," he whispered, not looking up at Keith. Keith bit down on his bottom lip. He wanted to reach over and physically comfort him. Keith was never the best at words, so he grew to be very good at comforting Shiro physically. He could see he was hurting, but there was nothing he could do. He caused this and he had to suffer the consequences.
"Shiro, I want more than anything to—to have you in my life. But I just can't."
"And why not, Keith? Please, tell me what I did wrong."
"See, that's the thing! You didn't do anything wrong. It's me. I'm not right for you."
"That's bullshit and you know it. God, Keith, I haven't been able to sleep in ages. Because I didn't know if you were safe. Because you weren't lying beside me. You've been my rock for years. I—I don't know how to react without you beside me," Shiro groaned. Keith chewed on the inside of his cheek, unable to think of what to say next.
"I can't give you what you want. You deserve someone who will give you everything," Keith mumbled, pulling his knees tight against his chest. Shiro tossed his arms into the air, saying words, but Keith wasn't able to understand what he said.
"What the fuck does that even mean? I feel like we're just going to have the same conversation over and over again. You have to talk to me, Keith. Like you used to," Shiro said. He was tearing up. Keith could see a tear in his eye, ready to roll down. His face was desperate and up close, he could see the damage. His eye bags were heavy, dark circles looking sickly. Shiro was pale, paler than usual. He didn't look healthy at all. So, he wasn't sleeping. And he mentioned earlier he was a blackout mess. Was he drinking too much again?
Keith remembered the last time that happened. Shiro's dad had passed away back home in New York and he wasn't there for him his last few days alive. It completely destroyed Shiro. For a week, he was completely hammered and there was nothing Keith could do or say to help him. It wasn't until they were completely out of liquor that Shiro finally stopped.
He remembered crying every night with Shiro.
Keith stared at Shiro, really stared at him. He could see how much he had neglected his hair care, the white in his hair a faded mess. The whites of his eyes were near blood shot, puffy and exhausted. His lips were chapped, dry and flaking. Shiro had a bit of scruff growing now and Keith hate to admit that actually looked really good on him. But now was not the time. He looked lifeless in every aspect. It pained Keith to see him in this state.
His bottom lip trembled as he thought of the time Shiro's father passed away, the time Keith dropped out of college, their very first fight and every time the two of them were raw, and truly vulnerable in front of each other. They had been through so much together and always managed to come out on top. Keith wished they could do that again, but he was sure he had damaged them far too much. It was for their own sakes they weren't together anymore. That's what he had to keep telling himself.
"Shiro...," Keith breathed, his name sitting on the tip of his tongue. He crawled towards him, trying not to jostle him too much. Shiro continued to stare down at his calloused hands, fidgeting with his fingers. Keith hesitated in front of him, unsure of what he was actually doing. He slipped his hand up the side of his jaw, pulling Shiro's head up.
His hand froze on his face. Keith was leaned in so close to Shiro, as if he was ready to kiss him. What in the world was he doing? This was definitely not to help either of them get over each other. Keith scrambled back, slamming his hands in his lap, biting his lip.
"I—I—don't know what just came over me. It's an instinct. I don't know... how to comfort you," Keith frantically apologized. Shiro laughed lowly, shaking his head. Keith watched as a tear finally fell down his tired cheek.
"You do know how to comfort me. But there's no comforting me right now. I know better than to try and change your mind. But I'll be damned if I don't try. I want to keep fighting for us, Keith. For you. I just—love you so much," Shiro said. His voice was shaky, ready to break at any moment again. Keith wanted to pull him against him, let him rest his head on his chest. He wanted to rub his back softly, letting him relax for once.
But he couldn't.
"Shiro, please. I don't want you to hurt over me anymore. I'm not worth it."
"You're worth every damn star in the universe and every peanut butter M&M in my bag. Don't you ever forget that Keith Kogane."
Keith let out a laugh, remembering that stupid thing Shiro said to him before. How he loved him more than every peanut butter M&M he ate as he ate them. It was a cute moment. They were watching a cheesy documentary in Keith's basement. Shiro was tossing the candy into his mouth one at a time. After a while, Shiro turned to him and whispered that he loved him more than them. And Keith thought it was so stupid and still the best thing ever. And Shiro never gave him one, even though Keith kept asking for one.
Silence. They had been slipping into silences often now. It was incredibly unnerving. Keith fidgeted in his seat, unsure of what to say.
"Y'know... I did come in here to actually nap. Did—Did you want to join me? I mean, there's plenty of room on the bed. And you look like you could use a little rest," Keith asked. Shiro stared at Keith for a moment before he smiled. Keith nodded, laying back on the pillow. Shiro crawled up next to him, but still giving him a decent amount of space.
Keith laid on his stomach, staring over at Shiro. Shiro laid on his side, also looking at Keith. This was always Keith's favorite part about sharing a bed with Shiro. He was always the best thing to see before he fell asleep. Shiro's face always brought him comfort.
He placed his hand near Shiro, as a peace offering. Keith gulped, immediately regretting this as he watched Shiro's hand slip over his. Their fingers locked together, perfect as always. Soft, tired, sad eyes looked into his and it sent his heart into overdrive. He truly had it bad for Shiro.
"Sleep well Shiro."
He closed his eyes, but he couldn't sleep. Instead, he listened to Shiro's breathing. He waited for it to slow and be much steadier before he could allow himself to sleep. Keith wanted to make sure Shiro was fast asleep and safe before he could slip away himself. This was definitely his favorite way to sleep.
Why couldn't he just work on things with Shiro? Why didn't Keith just talk to him? They always had pretty good communication skills and Keith was happy about that. But with this Keith just wanted to stay silent. This stupid situation he felt as if he was suffering alone in. He couldn't reach out to Shiro like he always did.
But at least he had Lance by his side.
Lance, with his shimmering smile and kind eyes. His heart of gold and quick mouth. Keith was so thankful he met him in his sophomore year of high school. He had recently moved to Boston from Dallas, Texas and literally had no friends. But in his first period math class, he met the class clown when he was seated next to him. Lance would crack jokes and annoy the ever-loving shit out of their teacher. Keith found him annoying at first and paid no mind to him.
But it seemed the two always ended up pitted against each other. Debates in history class, opposing teams in gym and so on. He couldn't get rid of that blue eyed dweeb. Lance was competitive and took things too far, but it did keep Keith entertained. After a while, Keith really saw Lance as a good friend versus just a simple annoyance. It wasn't until they had a project to do together in history half way through sophomore year that they really became friends.
And their friendship only continued to grow from there. But it was the end of Keith's senior year that really tested their friendship. Keith's dad wanted to move back to Dallas and Keith wanted nothing to do with Texas or his dad. He and his dad always had a bit of a strained relationship, but this is where Keith drew the line. His dad wanted to take away the first good thing in his life away.
But Lance's mom, who already saw Keith as her other son, asked Keith to move in with them so he didn't have to move back to Texas. And from that April of his senior year, he became Lance's basement dweller. And Keith hasn't really spoken to his father since. He had the occasional phone call around birthdays and holidays and what not, but their relationship was never the same.
Somehow Lance was even able to convince Keith to go to the same college as him. And it was a good thing he did because otherwise he would have never met Matt or Pidge, or especially Shiro. He would have never met the man of his dreams in that photography class if Lance hadn't convinced him photography was neat.
Shiro brought Matt and then eventually Pidge into his life. He saw Pidge as the kid sister he always wanted and was happy to see her grow up and finally graduate. Matt was on the same level as Lance and Keith adored him all the same. Matt was to Shiro as Lance was to Keith and it definitely helped the group dynamic. Matt and Lance may argue a bit, but at the end of the day they were all best friends. Things were perfect. Emphasis on were.
About six years of a wonderful group dynamic was flipped upside down and Keith hated himself for that. What he would give to have every go back to normal. What he would give to have his life go right for once.
But he'll always have Lance at least.
Why couldn't he fall for Lance? He was nice at least. Lance had a heart of pure gold and Keith loved watching him interact with his kids at the day care he worked at. He was probably the sweetest, most loving person when it came to those kids. Whether they were babies or toddlers, each kid adored Lance. Lance was quite the natural. He would be a good father someday, should he ever want to.
But the question still stood. Why not Lance? With the laugh that was incredibly infectious and a man with such a way with words. Lance could have been someone he could have ended up with. At least they were already living together and there would be no fear of Keith having to make that commitment. He was comfortable with Lance. Why couldn't it be Lance?
Seeing the sun casting beautiful shadows across Shiro's chiseled face was putting things into perspective for one. Hearing his heavy voice ring through his ears, making his body feel alive like no one else could. Keith could stare into his grey eyes for hours, studying each detail.
But those were just his physical aspects after all. Shiro was so much more than that.
He was the man who would give you his coat if you didn't have one, even in freezing weather. Shiro was always the one to lead everyone to greater things. He would be the only one to answer at three in the morning when you had a full on break down. He always wanted to be the first to crack a witty one liner, but watching him physically restrain himself was the best. Shiro was mature, wise beyond his years and led a wonderful life. There were so many reasons why it would always be Shiro and not Lance.
It was as if the two of them were cosmically connected. Keith felt like he had known Shiro for ages, for multiple lives even. It would always be Shiro. So, staring at him as they drove down the highway truly hurt him deep down. Because even though it will always be him, he couldn't have him again.
"Campgrounds! Woo! Okay Matt, it's a little tight here, think you can handle it?" Shiro cheered, all smiles. Keith was snapped out of his train of thought by the sound of his voice. His body jolted up right, hands slamming flat against the dinette's table. Pidge nearly jumped ten feet in the air next to him.
"Jesus Keith! Maybe you needed a longer nap," Pidge gasped, adjusting her glasses as she settled back down.
"Sorry! Sorry, I'm just weirdly jittery right now," Keith apologized, rubbing the side of his neck sheepishly. Lance had arched an eyebrow at him from the sofa, curious. But he was not who Keith was concerned with. It was the worried look on Shiro's face that captured his full attention. Keith gave him a small smile, nodding at him. Shiro slowly turned back around, eyes not leaving Keith's until the very end. Keith sunk down in his seat, exhaling heavily.
"Okay, wow not as packed as I would have thought the place to be. So, I think our spot is over this way? Yeah, that sign says we're going the right way. Fuck—Matt watch out for kids," Shiro said, his voice much louder at the end.
"God Matt where'd you learn to drive? The back of a cereal box?" smirked Lance.
"The back of a cereal box, mer, mer, ha, ha. Oh, shut it McClain," Matt mocked. Matt definitely sounded a little pissed off, but granted there were hordes of children jumping out onto the road in his way. And Lance being, well, Lance was not easing his tension.
"Jeez, I'm sorry Matt. No, seriously, dude you're doing great. I'm just being a brat," Lance said, his voice much softer this time.
"Learning from your kids? Two year olds are the true brats," Pidge said, adjusting her glasses with her pinky.
"No, sweet, sweet Pidgeon, you are the true brat," Lance cooed, batting his eyelashes at her.
"You're all brats," Keith said with an eyeroll.
"I'm just saying, I was a huge brat when I was two," Pidge shrugged.
"Can confirm! Terrible twos!" Matt chimed in.
"Yeah and I would literally die for my kids. Brats or not," Lance said, narrowing his eyes.
"You would quote, unquote, literally die for anyone in this RV," Matt said.
"Not you!" Lance teased.
"No, you would die twice for Matt. He's a pretty boy, after all," Keith snickered. Lance turned to shoot daggers at Keith with his eyes. Ooh, struck a nerve. Keith was sure his theory about Lance having a thing for Matt was true. Keith blew a playful kiss at Lance, who caught the kiss in the air and tossed it away. Keith placed the back of his hand on his forehead, feigning betrayal dramatically.
"Alright, changing the topic. Say Lance, how are things going with Sunny Side? Were they okay with this last minute request time off? I know a lot of kids will miss you," Shiro asked, clearing his throat loudly.
"Oh, yeah they were totally cool with it. I literally never request time off or call in. They were practically forcing me out the door. Things have been a little slow, with some kids being pulled out. I just know that if I miss Lil Johnny saying my name before Debbie's I'll fucking riot," Lance said, suddenly serious.
"Here, I'll reenact it for you," Pidge started, and finishing in a creepily accurate baby voice, "W-Wance! W-Wance, I wuv you!"
"Ew, okay, never do that again," Lance said, his face twisted in disgust.
"I second that. That was just—horrifying," Matt shuddered.
"Oh, so it's fine when others do it, but when I do it, it's a problem?" Pidge huffed.
"Only because you're, actually, like, a baby," Lance said, tapping a finger to his chin.
"Fuck you, first of all, I'm legally an adult now. Eighteen," Pidge said.
"Nah, Pidge, you're literally a baby. I remember driving you to your middle school dance. Aw, my little sister is so cute," Keith teased, pinching her cheeks and laughing. Pidge swatted his hands away, holding her hands up defensively when he pulled away.
"You mean my—actually, no you're right. You're pretty much her other older brother," Matt said.
"We're all her older brothers. And we would die for our baby sister," Lance grinned.
"He's right, you know," Shiro said with a wink.
"Ooh! Here! I'll park! Fucking finally, my legs were cramping up," Matt groaned.
"Alright, I'll get things hooked up and I'll probably have to flush out the system," Shiro started.
"Blah, blah, RV talk. Spare me the boring details, Shiro," Lance yawned, cutting him off effectively. Shiro sighed, sliding out of the passenger seat as Matt parked the RV.
"C'mon Matt. We'll get everything all settled. Seeing as how—we're probably the only ones who know how," Shiro said, motioning for him to follow.
"I'm getting fresh air!" Lance said, standing up and stretching his arms over his head.
Keith kept his eyes on Shiro as the larger man slid out of the RV, Matt following him close behind. Shiro had such a graceful walk. Smooth and elegant, one couldn't take their eyes off him. Who would want to do that anyway? Keith could stare at him all day.
No. This wasn't going to help him get over him. Really, none of this was helping poor Keith's heart. It would be way easier when he isolated himself away from everyone. Soon enough he could be at peace. Hopefully.
"Keith, come outside with me!" Lance said, hovering by the door. Pidge nudged Keith, silently telling him to go.
"Right, yeah. Fresh air," Keith said, his voice a little strained. He slid out of his seat and followed Lance out the door. Lance reached outwards the blinding sun, sighing contentedly. Keith stretched his arms across his chest, then bent over to touch his toes. It felt amazing to not be cooped up in the RV.
"Alright boo, how are you feeling? And what in the fresh hell are you thinking?" Lance asked, spinning around to glare at Keith. It took him a bit by surprise, as he was unable to answer him at first.
"What do you mean? I didn't do any—."
"—Skrr. Stop right there, Kogane. I know you and Shiro napped together. And I saw you two holding hands. That's not how fresh exes act!"
"Oh come on, it's simple hand holding. And napping. Lance, we've done that before. Platonic napping is a staple in our friendship."
"Yeah, our friendship. You and Shiro were dating. You're not now. Ain't nothing platonic between you two yet!"
"I'm sure it meant noth—okay, yeah it meant something. Meant that I'm a fucking idiot. Lance, literally I'm weak to him. It's not my fault. Seeing him like that totally fucked me up. I miss him, okay?" Keith huffed. Lance placed his hands on Keith's shoulders, staring him down intensely.
"You're not an idiot for being in love. This break up is fresh. I'm still like ninety percent sure you didn't even want this break up to happen," Lance said, giving him a firm squeeze.
"I didn't. I really didn't, but what's done is done. And I'm just not right for him. I can't give him what he wants."
"I swear to God Keith. If you weren't my best friend I would slap the crap out of you. No, I should still knock some sense into you. Literally, I've never seen a couple more meant for each other than you and Shiro. You lucky assholes found your other halves and I'm still searching for mine. Keith, don't take this shit for granted. You two need to have a long talk. See if this break up is really what's best," Lance said.
"Don't worry Lance, you met your half. We all know you have a thing for Matt," Keith teased with a little smirk.
"Fuck off, no I don't. He's gross and mean. Anyway, don't change the subject. Will you promise me you'll talk to Shiro at some point? Like, really talk to him. Not skirt around things?"
"I promise, Lance," lied Keith. Yeah, as if he could do that. The look Lance gave Keith just made him think he was on to him. Keith didn't want to meet his eyes, staring down at the grass.
"Oh, there you two are. Hey, Lance wanna help me in the kitchen? Shiro kicked me off of RV maintenance because I made a poop joke," Matt said, coming around the side of the RV. Keith froze up completely. Shit, that was right. They were just on the other side of the RV. Did they hear the two of them? Is that why Matt just so happened to drop in then and ask for Lance? Man, Keith really was a fucking idiot.
"Yeah, we'll get dinner going. Quickly, because I saw a pool while we were driving. And I want to swim," Lance said, his eyes lighting up as he clutched his hands to his chest.
Matt and Lance then ran up the stairs, chattering about what to cook for dinner quickly. Keith took that opportunity to run inside and into the bathroom. Just in case Shiro and Matt did hear them and he could avoid talking to him. You know, like a coward.
"Cannonball!" screamed Lance as he tucked his legs in to his chest, leaping into the pool.
"Woohoo!" Pidge yelled after him, diving in right after. Despite both of their smaller sizes, they had managed to make a sizeable splash, resulting in Matt shaking his fist at them and insulting them. Much like an older gentleman yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. Shiro simply shook his head and smiled at the others as he lay back on his lawn chair. Keith sat on the one next to him, white towel hung around his neck as he rolled his eyes at Matt and Lance, who were now bickering at the side of the pool.
It was growing later so the pool wasn't as busy. There were the few younger children that splashed around. Lance grew immediately attached and somehow got the whole pool, including Pidge, playing Marco Polo. Truly, Lance was amazing with kids.
"It's nice here, isn't it?" Shiro commented. Keith was a bit startled by him, whipping his head over to him, taking his attention away from the pool.
Shiro in a swimsuit should honestly be illegal. Perfectly sculpted body and face, a dazzling smile. It should be a law he was required to wear a shirt at all times. For Keith's heart's sake at least. Keith licked his lips subconsciously as he gave his ex boyfriend a solid look over. Shiro had pulled his aviator shades just down to the tip of his nose, his eyes peeking over them. His smile was small, but positively sweet.
"Y-Yeah, it really is. S'cute."
"Cute? Maybe not the word I'd use. But, it works," Shiro smiled. He sat up a bit, stretching his arms over his head. Keith silently gulped, watching his body stretch and twist. A God among men. This wasn't fair. None of this was fair.
Keith just nodded in response, which only made Shiro purse his lips at him.
"I'm not going to try and—make you talk. About that. But I would think small talk would be okay," Shiro said, sliding down his seat to be closer to Keith. Keith felt the hairs on his legs stand up right as he got closer. His body was starting to heat up. He couldn't look at him directly, afraid his cheeks would be a traitorous light pinkish hue.
"Small talk is okay. Small talk is... cute?" Keith said, trying to plan his sentence ahead in his mind, but ultimately failing. But at least he was able to get a small laugh out of Shiro with that. It went straight to his heart.
"Look how happy they all are. Matt is too much of a wuss to actually get in. Think I should toss him in?" Shiro asked with a smirk. Keith blinked his eyes before replying. But his mind only thought of Shiro picking him up and chucking him across the room. Definitely had been a fantasy of his for a while and he was sure Shiro could actually do it.
"Matt will totally hate you if you do," Keith laughed.
"I think I can handle that. Hey, record it with my phone. I'm gonna do it," Shiro said, grabbing his cell phone from beside him. He placed it in Keith's hands and shot up. Shiro had this wild look about him, eyes full of excitement. It was the first time in this whole trip he had seen life reach his eyes again.
"You know my passcode. I haven't changed it yet," Shiro said, giving Keith a thumbs up.
"Ten, twenty-four. Our anniversary," Keith said softly to himself. As expected, it unlocked. The little yet Shiro added onto that sentence definitely stung a little. Okay, maybe a lot. Keith bit down on his bottom lip tightly as he saw Shiro's home screen. It was a picture of the two of them. Keith was placing a kiss on Shiro's cheek, squishing his face in his hands as well. Shiro had the widest smile on his face. There was a bit of frosting smeared on his opposite cheek. Shiro had a crooked purple birthday hat with the strap slipping up on his face. This was taken at Shiro's birthday party this year.
He and Shiro were smearing cake frosting all over each other's faces. And stealing little kisses and licks to clean up. It wasn't visible in the picture, but Lance was in the background making a disgusted face at the two of them. Keith couldn't believe this was only five months ago. Five months ago, when everything was normal and there was happiness in Shiro's eyes. He felt truly awful, thinking about how much he had hurt him.
"Keith! C'mon!" Shiro said, holding his hand out towards Keith. Keith was too fixated on his background to notice that Shiro was already walking towards Matt. He looked up at Shiro with a forced smile before turning back to the phone to open the camera. Keith quickly swiped the little tear that he had unknowingly dripped onto his phone on his trunks.
"Coming!" he said, walking over to Shiro, already recording.
Shiro gave a little wink to the camera, walking ahead of Keith now. He stopped behind Matt who was too busy ogling someone to even notice. Shiro signaled the camera with an OK sign before slipping his hands underneath Matt's arms. Matt shrieked as he was hoisted into the air. Kids in the water were cheering as Shiro lifted him up as high as he could and then chucked him into the water where no one was around. Pidge was hooting and hollering, absolutely dying of laughter. Shiro had his arms wrapped around his sides, unable to control himself. Keith zoomed in on his face, full of smiles. It warmed his heart seeing him like this.
"Shiro you jerk!" Lance laughed, totally not serious. He swam over to Matt's landing spot to make sure he was okay. Matt was pouting as he floated to the surface. His hair clung to his face, completely flat now. Lance placed a hand on his back in support.
"Dude! Totally uncalled for! I wasn't ready!" Matt huffed.
"Too bad, Holt. Should've got in the water!" Shiro grinned.
"Alright Shirogane, you get in the water!" Matt said.
"Maybe later!" Shiro said, giving him a little salute. Matt splashed up at Shiro, who could only laugh and step aside.
But it seems Matt's bitterness quickly subsided as his attention was captured by something—or rather someone new. Not only did this person steal his interest quickly, but Lance's eyes were locked on and his mouth hung slightly open. In fact, a lot of the male gaze in attendance seemed to turn their heads to the new arrival.
She was radiant, she was stunning. A vision in baby pink. Her suit was pastel, contrasting to her dark skin, and the front cut was low with a lace trim. It was a one piece and it accentuated her curves nicely. A sheer, white cover up was loose on her arms and her thin strappy sandals made a sound as she crossed the concrete floor. Her white hair was pulled up in a tight bun, messy and yet perfect. Large framed sunglasses stayed low on her nose as she made her way in.
Lance and Matt swam close to the edge where she walked, her gait incredibly graceful. She looked all around the pool area, a gentle smile spread on her face. Keith turned around, camera still rolling as he accidentally panned on her. Quickly realizing his mistake, he shut off Shiro's phone.
"Allura! Is your dad coming down too?" asked one of the children's mother's. Allura paused her strut to turn to the woman.
"Yes! Father had some free time today so he'll be joining me in a few moments!" She replied. Her voice was heavy with an accent couldn't quite place, but he found it suited her well. The older woman seemed to enjoy her answer immensely by the look on her face. So, Keith could assume she must be someone who spent a lot of time at this campsite. He remembered Shiro talking before about how some people simply owned property on this site, so it was entirely possible she was one of them.
Keith looked down to see Lance and Matt looking absolutely smitten with this poor woman. He honestly felt bad for her. No doubt, one or both of them were going to try and hit on her. Keith rolled his eyes at the thought.
Allura finished her brief conversation with the woman before continuing to look around again. Her eyes seemed to wander until she found something she seemed to enjoy. Keith watched her eyes lock on something, giving off a look Lance usually did. He followed her gaze to see who she could possibly be looking at—oh hell no.
As if on cue as he realized who she was looking at, she started walking towards Shiro. Shiro was too busy knelt over, talking to Pidge in the water. Keith followed her with his eyes as she ghosted by him, the soft smell of roses tickling his nose. Instinctively, Keith rushed towards Shiro, standing just off to the side of him.
"Hello there," she said, her voice soft and smooth like silk. She cocked her hip out to the side, holding her sunglasses with her fingers. Shiro looked up from Pidge, giving her a quick once over before standing up.
"Hello! Can I help you with something?" Shiro asked. Keith had to physically restrain himself from slapping his forehead. Sometimes, Shiro could be a little too oblivious. Allura gave him a small, flirtatious giggle.
"Well, no. I just see that you're new here. Definitely would have recognized a face like yours before," she smiled, her fingers running down the side of his bicep lightly. Keith felt his entire body tense up, his eyes never leaving her hand. But honestly, what right did he have being defensive over Shiro? Shiro was hot and single and could honestly have whoever he wanted.
"Ah, yes! We're here for the night actually. You can call me Shiro! This little one down here is Pidge and the brooding one behind me is Keith!" Shiro introduced, his friendly smile out on display.
"I'm Allura. Daughter of Alfor," she said with a wink.
"Oh! Your dad's Alfor! He's the man I spoke to about renting the space for the night. He's the owner, right?" Shiro said, making idle chat.
"Yes! That's the one! Father surely decided well on letting you stay on our grounds," Allura said. Keith watched her bite playfully on her plump, pink lip and he felt jealousy course through his whole body. Thankfully, the cavalry was on their way.
Matt and Lance quite literally were racing over to them, shoving each other out of the way. Lance pushed Keith out of the way to place an arm on Shiro's shoulder, Matt coming up on his other side. Lance instantly sunk into his flirtatious, suave side. Eyes half closed, a crooked smile and a voice deep and velvety.
"Did I overhear that your father is Alfor? The owner of this whole joint? Heh, guess that kind of makes you like the princess of the camp. You must be a princess, because girl, you are Cinder-hella-fine. The name's Lance, gorgeous. And you are?" Lance said in his most charming voice possible. Keith felt physically sick hearing that God awful line. But Matt definitely made it worse.
"A princess? Is that what you're going with? Because she's much more like a campfire. Totally hot and I want s'more. I'm Matt, pleasure to meet you," Matt winked, holding out his hand for her. Allura looked between the two boys, a bit of confusion on her face. Shiro covered his face with his hand, shaking his head side to side.
"Oh my God. You two are actually the worst. I apologize for my brother and my friend," Pidge groaned from the water. This seemed to make Allura laugh though. Her giggles were light and she covered her mouth as she laughed. Matt and Lance seemed to positively swoon at that.
"Well, you guys are quite the crowd. But I think I'd rather be called princess than campfire," she smiled. Lance silently cheered and Matt looked completely dejected.
"Well, does said princess have a name?" Lance asked, taking her hand in his. Allura placed a hand over his and leaned in close.
"You might just have to find out later now," she winked. Lance's cheeks flared up and he pulled back from her, holding his face in his hands.
"In fact, I invite you all. I was actually coming over to invite the lovely Shiro here, but you all seem like characters to say the least. Even you, the quiet one," Allura started, nodding at Keith, "and so I would love it if you guys came to my little... party tonight. Only stipulation is it's twenty-one and up."
Pidge quite literally started pouting in the pool. Matt stuck his tongue out at her. She then splashed at him, sticking her tongue out back at him.
"It's a big bonfire out by the main lodge. Early 2000s kind of themed. Lots of drinking and fun times! There's surprisingly a lot of people our age here. It's gonna be mostly us. My parties are usually fun. And you all definitely should go. You too, Shiro," Allura said, addressing them all, but her eyes were locked on Shiro. Keith clenched a fist to his side.
"I think it'll be fun! I'd feel bad about leaving poor Pidge alone, but—," Shiro started.
Pidge sighed, "No it's fine. You guys have fun. I'll just get some extra sleep. Maybe watch a movie or two. I can have fun alone."
"Then it's settled! We'll see you tonight, princess," Lance cooed. Allura cheered with enthusiasm, excited for the night.
"Wonderful! I'll see you tonight," Allura said, walking past them. She let her fingers slide over Shiro's upper arm again as she walked by, giving him a wink as she did.
When Allura was well out of ear shot, Lance turned to Matt and said, "Dude, she's totally into me."
Was Keith surrounded by dense idiots?
"Okay before you assholes go to get shitfaced, let's hammer out this road trip plan," Pidge said, cracking her knuckles.
"We're staying in D.C. an extra night in whatever motel we can find. Spending the day in D.C. tomorrow. So, Sunday we're leaving for Myrtle Beach. That's a six hour drive. So, we should be at the beach on Sunday," Matt said, resting his chin on his hands, completely serious.
"We're at Myrtle Beach until the ninth. Then, we head to Houston!" Lance said excitedly.
Pidge was furiously typing away at her computer, trying to come up with an itinerary for their trip. Keith was incredibly bored of this, his head just lying in Lance's lap as he lay on the sofa. Matt was sitting next to Pidge at the table, Shiro across from them. Matt and Shiro stole a few knowing glances at each other, but no one seemed to pay attention to them.
"Then, after a few days in Houston, we head for Point Pleasant. So we can take Keith to Mothman's origin site," Shiro smirked.
"Yeah, that's still bullshit I'll be missing that," Pidge huffed.
"You won't be missing much, Pidge," Lance scoffed. Keith thumped him in the chest. Lance rubbed where he was hit, frowning down at Keith who just shrugged at him.
"Okay, that sounds like a solid road trip itinerary! Alright losers, go have fun. Make smart choices. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Lance, Matt, don't drool over the pretty girl too much," Pidge said, shutting her laptop. Everyone leapt up on their feet, already feeling the party vibe.
"A party is definitely something we need right now," Matt said, placing a hand on Shiro's shoulder.
"A good drink is something I need right now," Lance sighed, opening the door. Everyone followed him out. Lance and Matt took the lead, following the trail up to the main lodge. Shiro and Keith trailed behind, walking side by side as they usually did.
"Keith, do you think Allura was flirting with me?" Shiro asked.
"Wh—Are you serious? You didn't notice?" Keith asked, nearly stopping in his tracks. Was he surprised? No.
"Well, I wasn't entirely sure. I'm not exactly the best at reading signals. Take us for an example, it took me ages to realize you were flirting with me. Matt had to knock the sense into me," Shiro chuckled nervously.
"Granted, I'm not the best example. I don't flirt as hard as Matt and Lance do. They're on their own level and I kind of just fumble around. Like some kind of confused and awkward gay millennial," Keith smirked.
"That's honestly the best description of you ever. But also, it describes me pretty well. As we can see. I don't know, maybe I'm just out of practice. It's not like I'm looking for a new relationship anyway. You see, my ex boyfriend is quite the catch. It's gonna be pretty hard to beat him," Shiro smiled, nudging him.
"Really? I heard your ex is a total coward. A real grade A asshole."
"Yeah, maybe a little. But the guy could make me laugh."
Keith paused in his tracks to narrow his eyes at Shiro. Shiro stopped to turn around and laugh at him. He placed his hands on Keith's shoulders. Keith's eyes trailed off to his large, callused hands that gripped him. He felt warm, almost too warm.
"Keith, I'm only messing with you. You're not a coward, and you're not an asshole. But you are definitely a catch. And I don't think there's anyone who can compete with you," Shiro praised.
"I dunno. Allura is definitely beautiful. And you're beautiful. You'd make beautiful babies," Keith shrugged. Shiro raised a judging eyebrow at him.
"You think she's my type?"
"I mean, to be fair I don't know your type. In the two years before we started dating, you didn't date anyone. Guy or girl."
"That's because I had eyes on one guy from the start."
"No, Keith, I'm serious. It's always been you. I'm telling you, there's always been this pull to you. Like we're—what would Lance say? Connected by the stars? It's like the universe wanted us to be together," Shiro explained.
"Yeah? Well the universe is full of shit. The stars we see are already dead. Look how we turned out," Keith said coldly, shoving past Shiro.
"Keith, c'mon, wait up!"
Keith froze up, his fists clenched at his sides. He was getting upset, furious even. But his anger was not directed towards Shiro. It was directed at himself. He was causing this rift between them. He ruined them. And Shiro was talking bullshit about how the stars were for them or something. It was stupid. Everything was stupid and Keith just wanted to stay mad about it.
"Shiro, please. I can't keep doing this. This whole trip was a mistake. I thought I could do this with you here, but apparently I can't!" Keith said, not turning around to meet him. He felt his body stop behind him. Shiro radiated heat and he could feel that heat going over his whole body. He didn't dare turn around.
"Why? Why can't you do it Keith?"
"You know why."
"Because you still love me."
Silence. It was almost their trademark thing at this point. Keith hated it. And why did Shiro have to say it so—so confidently? It's not like Keith really gave him an answer as to why they broke up. For all he knew it could have been because he fell out of love.
Yeah, as if he could ever stop loving him.
"Can we drop this? Let's just have fun at this party. Make sure Lance and Matt don't get in trouble."
"Can we talk later?"
"You know what? I'll take maybe."
Shiro didn't say another word to Keith after that. They caught up to Lance and Matt quickly. The others didn't ask them anything. They just knew. Matt dragged Shiro forward, discussing his plans to woo Allura. Lance tagged back with Keith, silent but understanding. Keith leaned a little into him for support, just really thankful his best friend was there for him.
It was literally felt like Keith was back in middle school with these song choices. It was definitely 2000s era music for sure. And Allura was right, everyone looked roughly around their age. It wasn't an absolute rager, but there was quite the group to say the least. The bonfire itself was rather huge. People sat around in chairs or on blankets. Everyone was drinking or already solidly drunk. Keith felt like he had to catch up with everyone to really feel the party vibe.
But his conversation with Shiro put him in a pretty low mood. They've felt so out of character lately. Shiro was someone who he could rely on, could say anything to. But lately he felt like he couldn't get out more than a few words to the man.
Keith shouldn't continue to dwell on it. Lance was glued to his side, a Mike's in his hand he occasionally sipped at. He knew Lance was just standing with him to make sure he was okay and he felt bad. He didn't want to ruin the party for Lance. No, he wanted to enjoy himself too. After all, he took off two weeks of work for this vacation. He was planning on enjoying it.
"Lance, c'mon. We’re gonna have fun," Keith said, grabbing his wrist and dragging him to the drink table. Lance wrapped his lips around his bottle, drinking as he was pulled away.
Keith halted in front of the table, examining everything. He didn't care what he put down, but he wanted to feel it quick. Cracking his knuckles, he grabbed a classic red solo cup and began filling it with various liquids that didn't smell super unappetizing.
"Look, Keith, glad you're in the party spirit, but like, do you know how to make a drink?" Lance asked, observing him with a judging eye.
"Nope. I just want something that might kill me," Keith replied nonchalantly. Lance placed a hand over his cup before he could take a sip of whatever the hell he made.
"Yeah, not happening. I'm your babysitter tonight. You can let loose and have fun, but you are not killing yourself," Lance said, taking the cup away.
"I'm not entirely serious."
"Full stop, Kogane. Full stop. Here, take my Mike's. Let's start you slow first, okay?"
Keith begrudgingly took the bottle from Lance, taking a quick swig from it. Lance shook his head and poured himself a cup of soda. Keith pouted, swirling the bottle around. Lance rolled his eyes at him.
"Don't look so pathetic Keith. I'm gonna mingle and you're gonna stay a solid ten feet away from the table until I find you again. Got it?" Lance said, pressing his finger on Keith's nose.
"Fine. But don't be gone too long. I'm gonna go chill by the fire," Keith sighed. Lance leaned in and quickly pecked his friend's cheek before running off. Keith sluggishly made his way over to the roaring fire. He flopped down in the grass, watching the flames dance. He hadn't seen Shiro since they ran into Allura when they arrived. She whisked him and Matt away quickly. Resting his arms on his knees, he stared into the fire, not really paying attention.
"Mind if I join you?" called a voice, snapping Keith out of his little trance. He wasn't sure how long he was out of it, but when he looked up to see who was talking to him was Matt.
"Yeah, of course man," Keith said, patting the grass beside him. Matt plopped down with a defeated sigh. Keith turned to him with a comforting half grin.
"Yeah, she seemed way more interested in Shiro. Lucky dude. But he's totally not into her. Poor Allura, I feel bad," Matt sighed, drinking from his own cup. He looked at Keith with his soft brown eyes, tilting his cup at him, a silent offer. Keith shrugged and took the cup, tossing a little back. The solid burn felt good, but he realized it was just straight vodka in his cup. Keith made a little face as he handed it back to Matt.
"I mean, it's not like he's strictly into men," Keith said.
"Yeah, but Keith, he's definitely into someone right now."
"Right, yeah. Me."
"Keith, we haven't been able to talk just the two of us since the breakup. So, tell me, why did you cut my best friend's heart out with a knife and stomp all over it? I mean that in the kindest, I-love-you-too-my-other-best-friend kind of way," Matt asked, arching a messy eyebrow at him. Ouch. But Matt was right and had every right to call him out.
"Well, it's not like I actually wanted to do that to him!"
"Alright, so why do it?"
"I don't know."
"Keith, we both know that's bullshit," Matt said, rolling his eyes.
"You sound like Lance," Keith said, blowing a puff of air up, shifting his bangs. He rested his chin on his hand, staring at the fire.
"Because I'm sure Lance wants to know the same thing as all of us—why? Keith, are you okay? Like, your mental health. And I'm not asking like, you must be insane to breakup with Shiro. Which, I mean, you are. But I really am worried you're not okay and you're trying to cut us all off," Matt asked.
"I'm fine, really. Shiro and I just ran our course."
"So, it has nothing to do with the fact Shiro mentioned briefly living together in the future?"
Matt was smart. Too smart. He picked up better than his own ex-boyfriend did. Keith slowly turned to look at him, eyes wide and sad. Matt nodded, understanding.
"I'm—just not ready for that yet. I'm not ready for that solid commitment!" Keith said.
"Did you tell Shiro that?"
"And so, instead of talking to him about your worries like you two usually do, you broke up with him?"
"Y-Yes and no. Matt, stop reading me like a book; its making me uncomfortable. Usually no one can understand me. No one except—."
"—Yeah, no one except Shiro. Well, this time it's me who knows what's going on. I mean, I really just connected the dots. Made my own hypothesis. And when I asked you and you responded like that—well, my theory was proven true. Shiro says he's considering moving in together. You distance yourself from him for like weeks. Then, you break up with him over the phone. Without saying why. Keith, you two had been together for four years. How the fuck are you not ready to marry that Adonis of a man yet?" Matt said.
Keith shrugged. That kind of conversation was not one he could easily have with Matt. He couldn't even have it with Shiro! Sometimes Keith couldn't even understand his own feelings. It's been a lot of internal issues he had been dealing with since a young age.
"He loves you, you know," Matt stated.
"I know," Keith replied softly.
"No, I mean really loves you. I've known this guy since we were kids. I've never seen him be this way with anyone, but you. I'm not trying to force you to change your mind because I don't know exactly what's going on in your head, but, uh. Just... think about it. I know you still care about him too, maybe even love him. At least make things right between the two of you if you're officially done. Don't leave bad blood. And Keith?"
"Your friends. Me, Lance, Pidge. We still love you. And we support you no matter what you chose to do. Please, don't shut us out, okay? We don't want to lose you. You're family, Keith," Matt said, wrapping an arm around Keith's shoulders. Keith leaned into his friend, his nose sniffling. He would not cry, but he definitely was feeling emotional.
Keith let Matt hold him for a little while longer. It felt nice, honestly. He loved how supportive Matt was of him. He wouldn't be surprised if Matt hated him for hurting Shiro like that. Those two were best friends. He wouldn't be shocked if Matt wanted his head on a stick for this. But no. Matt was supportive and tried to show Keith he did love him. They were still friends. And that was such an overwhelmingly good feeling.
"What's up my dude?"
"What are your intentions with Lance?"
He felt Matt's body tense against his. Boom.
"Ew, dude. Gross. Lance is annoying and gross. And I like women."
"Sure Matt. I won't tell him."
"Fuck you. C'mon, let's go get a drink. I'm sure you need one," Matt said, standing up and stretching his arms over his head.
"Lance said I'm not allowed ten feet near the drink table unless he's there. I apparently need a babysitter," Keith said, standing up with him, dusting his pants off.
"I'm your babysitter now and I say we're getting fucking wrecked," Matt snorted, pulling Keith in a headlock. Keith easily shoved him off him and the two laughed their way back to the drink table.
"Toss a shot back with me, Holt," Keith said, already grabbing two plastic shot glasses.
"Deal, pick your poison. I'll do whatever," Matt grinned cheekily.
Keith grabbed a bottle of tequila and quickly poured two messy shots for them. He snatched his up quickly, smiling at Matt. Matt gave him a curt nod and the two tossed them back. Definitely not the smoothest tequila he's ever had, but it wasn't half bad. Keith's face twisted in some odd emotion as he felt it hit him a little. Tequila would usually put him on his ass, which made it become his drink of choice at this point.
"I'm going again. Wanna join?" Keith asked, already pouring himself another.
"Nah, not the biggest tequila fan. It makes me a slutty drunk," Matt snickered, opting for a mixed drink instead. Keith shrugged and drank his next shot. It burned just as much as the first, but he loved it. But, he followed Matt this time and made a normal drink. He was a little heavy handed when pouring, but what Lance doesn't know won't hurt him.
"Yo! I love this song! Hey! alright now! alright now, fellas!" Matt shouted, cupping his hand around the side of his mouth.
"Yeah!" chorused back a few people.
"Now what's cooler than being cool?" Matt said.
"Ice cold!" Keith replied.
"Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright!" chimed way too many drunk people, including Matt and Keith.
"Truly a classic song! Although, you are not supposed to shake a polaroid picture. It's bad for it or some crap," Matt stated. Keith rolled his eyes, but smiled at him. He was really such a dork, but then again Keith sure did join in the chorus for Hey Ya.
"Matt! Keith! Hey, there you guys are!" called his voice. Keith's calm immediately disappeared and instantly anxiety took over. Keith took a gulp of his drink, praying it would calm his nerves.
"Shiro! Where have you been? And with the lovely Allura wrapped around your arm. Nice," Matt said, giving him a nod of approval. Keith shot him a cold glare. Wasn't he the one to say moments ago to give it ago with Shiro again?
Keith slowly turned to look over at Allura and Shiro. She was a giggly mess, holding onto his arm for support. It looked like she had just a little bit too much to drink. Shiro's cheeks were a light red and he was full of smiles and laughter.
"Allura was showing me around the main lodge, in and out. This place is huge! It's quite amazing honestly," Shiro said.
"Mhm! We even ran into Father and they seemed to hit it off well!" Allura smiled.
"Alfor is a kind man. It was great chatting with him," Shiro nodded.
"Oh! But that's not what we wanted to come and find you guys for!" Allura gasped, having a sudden realization. Keith drank a lot more of his drink, desperately wanting the effects of alcohol to kick in already.
"Yes! Allura had an interesting idea," Shiro said.
"A few people are already down to play. Lance, for one, wants to play. We're going to play spin the bottle! How can this be a throwback party if we don't play cheesy high school and middle school games?" Allura said.
"And I said, I'm going to be twenty-nine. There's no way I can play this childish game unless I got my friends to play with me. And I had another beer or two," Shiro nodded.
"Which is why we're here. To recruit you two and to get beer."
"Spin the bottle? With the lovely Allura? I'm sold," Matt said. Shiro and Matt high fived and then turned to stare Keith down.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not the kissy kind of guy," Keith said, swirling his drink around uncomfortably.
"I'm not either, but I'm playing. It's a party. C'mon, Keith. For me? Please, Key?" Shiro said, staring Keith down with those pretty eyes of his. His nickname and puppy dog eyes? How was that any kinds of fair? Keith groaned and gave in to them. They all cheered and then raided the drink table and coolers. Keith chugged the rest of his drink before setting himself up another shot. There was no way he was going to be sober for this event.
He didn't even want to remember it.
"Alright! The rules of spin the bottle I'm sure everyone knows. And you have to kiss whoever it lands on. Whether it's another boy or another girl. Everyone's gotta kiss!" Allura said with a smile. She had a hint of authority in her tone. It was strong, confident. Keith admired that a little, it reminded him of Shiro.
Allura sat across from Shiro, possibly trying to get better odds of it landing on him, Keith was sure of it. Lance was beside Shiro, more than likely trying to get Allura. Matt and Keith sat next to each other in between some decently attractive strangers. They were chit chatting with them while they waited for the game to start. Their names were Rolo and Nyma and they were travelers. That's about all Keith got out of them.
Allura didn't go first, but allowed the girl next to her to spin. She got Rolo and their kiss was actually relatively cute. The bottle never landed on Keith as it made its way around the circle. Instead, he just continued to sip his drink, his head definitely swirling. He was feeling his few shots now and was incredibly thankful for it. Once he was done with this game, Keith was probably going to head back to the RV.
It was Lance's turn. Lance rubbed his hands eagerly together before he picked up the bottle. He said a silent little prayer, probably wishing for Allura or possibly Matt. Keith hoped it would be Matt, purely because it would be the funniest thing he would ever see.
"Hey, what do you know. Maybe wishes come true," Keith said as he watched the bottle stop dead at Matt. Lance and Matt both looked down at the bottle and then up at each other. Both made horrified faces at each other, which made Shiro and Keith completely lose their minds. Matt awkwardly got up, stood in front of Lance, refusing to meet his eyes.
"Kiss already, assholes," Keith called out, grinning from ear to ear. Lance shot him a middle finger and Keith sent one back as he drank more.
Lance and Matt leaned in, lips puckered out. He quickly pecked each other quickly before pulling away in disgust.
"Boo! That's no fun! Make it a real kiss like the rest of us!" Allura laughed. Lance and Matt sighed at each other. Matt slid his hand up the side of Lance's jaw, other hand on his lower back.
"If we're making this real, we're giving them a show," Matt shrugged.
"Dude, what the hell are you—," Lance started, but Matt cut him right off. Their lips were crushed together in the most awkward way. Lance's hands shot up for a moment, but he melted into the kiss, his arms draping over his shoulders and around his neck.
"Finally, holy shit," Shiro cheered. The rest of the crowed erupted into little cheers of their own as Matt and Lance definitely put on a show. Keith clapped for his friends, literally dying of laughter at this point. The two finally broke apart, cheeks as red as tomatoes. They covered their mouths and ran back to their seats. Everyone was clapping for them, laughing as hard as they could.
"Hell yeah, Matt! You finally kissed Lance," Keith smirked, clapping him on the back.
"Oh, fuck off. I can't believe I just did that," Matt said, gripping his head in his hands.
"I can. And I believe it's gonna happen again," Keith said, peering down at him over the rim of his cup. Matt playfully shoved him, a little of Keith's drink spilling on his shirt.
"Hey! Hey! Watch the drink, Mister," Keith mumbled.
"I think you've had enough anyway," Matt said, reaching for Keith's cup. But before he could take it away, Keith finished off the rest of it with a devilish smirk. Oh boy was he feeling it now. He felt absolutely light and carefree. Literally nothing could bother him at that moment.
"Oh! Shiro, that's on me! My lucky day," Allura gasped.
All eyes were on them except for two. The crowd was silent. Keith could literally feel Matt and Lance's glances bore into his skin, but he couldn't look away. He knew how much it was going to hurt and he still couldn't look away. Shiro stood in front of Allura sheepishly, that adorable smile on his face. Allura tucked a loose curl behind her ear. Shiro took one of her hands in his and leaned in for the kiss. Their lips brushed together briefly, soft and gentle. There was a chorus of aw's, but Keith felt his heart being crushed.
And he quite literally felt it snap in two when Allura swooped in and stole another kiss from him, his hand sliding into her hair this time. Hoots and hollers. Everyone was excited for them. It was a cute moment. But for Keith it was truly hell. No one wanted to see the one they loved kiss another person. He shouldn't have ever agreed to this stupid game.
Keith sat quietly in his seat, just kind of spacing out at this point. Matt didn't take his eyes off him, placing a supportive hand on his knee.
"Well, I guess we did have to top Lance and Matt after all," Shiro said, his cheeks pink.
"He's a fantastic kisser everyone. Better hope you get him," Allura winked, fanning herself as she sat back down.
Keith prayed no one ever got Shiro again.
So many thoughts were racing in his mind at once. He had zero right to be jealous of Allura. He and Shiro were no longer together. Shiro was free to kiss whoever he wanted. And Keith had to suck it up like a grown up and deal with his mistakes.
His mind was wandering so much, he didn't even realize it was his turn until Rolo was poking at him. Keith shook his head, slowly coming back to reality. Everyone was staring at him and it was quiet. It made him feel so uncomfortable and with his head spinning from the alcohol and the moment that just happened, he didn't quite feel okay.
All he had to do was get through with this, show everyone he was okay with what just happened and leave. If he kissed someone else in front of Shiro, he should be okay. And hey, maybe he would make Shiro jealous in the process.
Keith made his way to the bottle, stumbling over his own two feet a little. He cleared his throat before spinning it, watching it go around and around closely. He was getting dizzy himself, feeling a bit sick. But thankfully, it finally stopped. He followed the neck of the bottle, meeting eyes with who he was supposed to kiss.
And he was met with beautiful foggy grey eyes he loved so dearly.
Keith didn't even give Shiro time to meet him in the circle. No, he was going to make this the most show stopping kiss of the night. Keith wanted to outdo Allura. He was desperate for it. He simply ran over to him, straddled his lap and gripped his face tightly in his hands. Keith flipped his hair out of his way, in a way he prayed was mildly seducing. He ran his thumb over Shiro's bottom lip once before leaning in for an intense, passionate kiss.
Their lips melded together as they usually did. There was no stumbling, no awkward first kisses. Keith knew what Shiro liked and Shiro knew what Keith liked. Shiro's hands were immediately gripped Keith's hips like he depended on it. Keith threw his whole damn soul in this kiss, as if this one kiss would win Shiro back and make him forget all about Allura, all about the breakup, all about Keith's foolish mistakes.
Lance, who was literally sitting directly next to Shiro, stared at them, mouth complete agape. But Keith didn't care. Everyone was completely silent, staring at them intensely. But Keith didn't care. The only thing he cared about was the man he held in his hands and the magic way their lips collided against each other. Each touch set off fireworks as if it were their first time experiencing this passion and love.
Keith finally pulled himself off Shiro, his lips hovering over his for a moment. He felt like his whole body was lit on fire. Keith trembled under Shiro's grip, unsure what to do now. He just jumped on his ex boyfriend's lap and passionately kissed him in front of mostly strangers.
"I, uh, shit," Keith said, hoping off Shiro's lap. There were no cheers as Keith stood above Shiro, staring down at him with the most intense blush of his life. Shiro stared up at Keith, his face completely shocked and unmoving.
Then the cheers began. Everyone was going wild for the two of them. They sure as hell put on the greatest display of the night. Everyone was freaking out except for Shiro, Matt, Lance and Allura. Those four had matching expressions of shock on their faces. Keith glanced around the circle a few times, his fight or flight instincts kicking in. He wasn't sure what he really wanted to do, his stomach felt too queasy to fight. So, flight it was, and he bolted the hell out of there.
"Keith, wait!" Shiro called after him, but he was already gone. Keith was running, and he wasn't going to stop. He had zero idea what took him over there, why his jealousy had gotten the best of him. It just did, and it probably made everything a hell of a lot more worse and confusing.
Finally, he needed to catch his breath. Keith stopped to lean against a tree next to the path, panting like crazy. He felt sick to his stomach. High quantities of embarrassment, alcohol, and running? Yeah, he could blow at any second. Keith wiped the sweat from his forehead, trying to get his head to come back down.
"Keith!" shouted Shiro.
Oh you have got to be fucking kidding.
"Keith! Where are you?"
"Sh-Shiro! Over here!"
Way to go Keith. That's not running away from him at all.
He could see Shiro jogging over to him, a water bottle in hand. Shiro had his phone flashlight on, nearly blinding Keith when he ran it over his face. Keith shielded his eyes from the light and Shiro lowered it.
"What were you thinking?" Shiro asked sternly.
"God, Shiro, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have kissed you like that. No, I shouldn't have kissed you at all. But when I saw you with Allura—I wasn't myself! I'm still not myself. Lance was supposed to be my babysitter and he did a shit job at that. I'm still way too drunk at this point. And I'm so sorry. Shiro, don't be mad at me. But I was so jealous and—and now I'm rambling," Keith rushed out, tossing his hands in the air.
"Wait, Keith no. I'm not mad at you!" Shiro said, holding up a hand to stop him.
"God, no. I could never be mad at you for that. We'll—touch back on that in a second though. I mean, what do you think you're doing running blindly in an unknown forest at night?!" Shiro asked. His voice was thick with concern and it made Keith's heart flutter in his chest.
"I-I.... Shiro the path's right there. I was going back to the RV," Keith said, gesturing to the path next to them.
"...Y-You're right, but even still. Seeing you take off like that freaked me the hell out. And I know you're way too drunk. I could taste the tequila when you kissed me. You know that fucks you up quick, Keith. How much have you had?" Shiro asked. Keith could only shrug. Shiro sighed and uncapped the water bottle for him, handing it to him. Keith thanked him quietly and sipped at it.
"I didn't mean to make you worried. I panicked! I thought I was going to puke in front of everyone," Keith mumbled, pressing against the tree. Shiro took a few more steps towards him, casting a shadow over Keith from the moonlight.
"Jesus, Key. You're going to be the death of me," Shiro said. He gave him a dry, humorless chuckle as he ran his hand through his hair. Shiro simply pointed to the bottle and Keith made a show of it to prove he was drinking.
"I'm sorry, Shiro."
"There's nothing to be sorry about, Key. Now... what's this about jealousy?"
Keith felt his cheeks heat up again. His stomach gurgled as well, and he grew more and more worried he was going to vomit. He silently begged Shiro not to dwell on it too much. Drunk Keith was a whole other kind of bitch. One Keith didn't like to think about.
"Nothing. Nothing at all."
Shiro took another step to Keith, this time his knee was just grazing in between his legs and he was so close Keith could smell his foul beer breath. Shiro placed a hand on his hip.
"I'm sure you definitely said something. Jealous of... Allura? Why? Because I kissed her?" Shiro teased. His voice grew low, gentler.
"Yes... wait no. I'm not jealous. We're broken up. You can kiss whoever you want," Keith said, trying to move his chin away from Shiro.
"But I don’t know Keith. The way you kissed me in front of everyone? Looked like you were trying to show off to everyone what's yours," he smirked. How a man could make his voice sound like that astounded Keith. His deep voice sent a shiver down his spine as he felt his lips get closer to his skin. This was dangerous. Very dangerous.
"You're not mine Shiro. We're single. It was a show kiss. You know, cause Lance and I have that rivalry thing going on," Keith said, sipping his water.
"I don't think that's it Keith. I think you were dying to kiss me, just like I've been dying to kiss you. Like how I'm dying to kiss you now," Shiro said, his breath hot and heavy along the underside of Keith's jaw. Keith audibly gulped, his knees growing weak.
"God, Shiro, I want to kiss you more than anything," he breathed out helplessly.
"That's what I wanted to hear," Shiro cooed, grabbing Keith's jaw and pressing their lips together. This one was different. This kiss wasn't Keith trying to prove anything or show up anyone. It was just the two of them now, and it wasn't a surprise kiss. It was the two of them, finally getting something they wanted.
Keith wrapped his arms around Shiro's neck, nibbling on his bottom lip. That always elicited the softest moan from Shiro, one of Keith's favorite things to hear. This felt completely natural and he felt his whole body feeling alive from it. Shiro was addicting. Even with a kiss that tasted of beer and cheese doodles, it was everything Keith desired. He craved Shiro's kisses and knew when this was over, he would want even more from him. But he couldn't.
"Shiro, Shiro we have to stop," Keith panted in between kisses. Shiro had moved his mouth from Keith's to focus on Keith's neck. Keith bit down on his bottom lip as his neck received attention. It's not fair that Shiro knew that's where he was incredibly sensitive. He held back the little whimper that desperately wanted to escape.
"Key, I love you so much," Shiro breathed against the sensitive skin of his neck. His breath was hot, and it sent flames throughout Keith's body. He desperately wanted to say it back to him, his body ached to return the love.
"Shiro, please," Keith whined. His stomach gurgled once more and Keith's eyes snapped open. Oh, Shiro really had to stop now. "Shiro, I'm serious. I'm gonna be sick."
At least that got his attention. Shiro pulled away from Keith, with great timing because Keith literally turned to hurl against the tree. Shiro's face scrunched up from the smell, but he leaned into hold Keith's long hair back and rub his back soothingly. Keith felt another round coming up and he was thankful he had Shiro with him. And extra thankful Shiro brought water with him.
"I'm so sorry Shi—."
But Keith got cut off.
"It's okay Key. Get it out. I'll take you home, baby."
The pain was back. He hadn't heard him call him that in a long time now. And while he puked this time, Keith sobbed. He sobbed because he was just going to keep hurting the man he loved most.
"Keith! Shiro!" called out Lance and Matt.
Man, everyone was having impeccable timing tonight. Shiro waved the two others over just as Keith finally finished. Shiro pulled Keith against him, still rubbing his back as he murmured for him to drink more water. Keith honestly felt too ill to argue with him or push away at this point. He'd definitely hear it from Lance tomorrow though.
"Aw, Keith, Keith my man. You look like shit," Matt snickered, pressing his hands together and pointing at Keith. Lance smacked him in the arm, shooting him daggers with his eyes.
"Keith drank way too much. I heard he was supposed to have a babysitter," Shiro said, raising a brow at Lance.
"Oh, don't look at me like that. He's literally in his mid-twenties, he doesn't need a babysitter," Lance huffed.
"Yeah, but granted you offered to be my babysitter," Keith laughed. Shiro looked down at him, not even saying a word and Keith just quietly placed the bottle against his lips.
"Matt, I know we're supposed to share the big bed tonight, but given Keith's circumstance, I'd rather he shared the bed with me. So, I can keep an eye on him for the rest of the night," Shiro said, that leader tone sneaking into his voice again.
"No, Shiro, I can take care of my best friend just fine. He's sleeping with me. I don't think it's a good idea for the two of you to share a bed right now," Lance said, reaching out for Keith.
"Well, considering he's clinging onto me right now, I think I can handle him," Shiro said, more authority in his voice. Keith hated how hot he found that.
"First of all, as Lance so kindly pointed out, I'm literally in my twenties. I don't need to be fucking babied. I'm a grown man who did not drink responsibly. And therefore, will suffer the consequences. Shiro, you and Matt are sharing the big bed. That's what we agreed on. Now, I wanna get back to the fucking RV before I puke again so I can start getting water and crackers in me," Keith said, shoving Shiro's arms off him.
"Fine," Shiro and Lance said in sync.
Tomorrow was going to be an incredibly long day.
I'm literally uploading this three hours before season 6 drops because I'm about to be radio silent on social media until I can finally watch the new season. Unfortuntely, I'll be working all day tomorrow so I probably can't watch until way later. I'm super anxious about this new season. Bet it's gonna destroy us all.
This was a meaty chapter and my beta suffered through it with me. Having IRL meetings with your beta is honestly a blessing. Hope you all enjoyed the pain and second hand embarrassment we did.
Thanks to my super amazing beta Chey!!!
Chapter 3: Supernova
"So. We need to talk," was all he said.
"We do. But I don't know how much of this it's going to solve," Keith said. He didn't have to look up at Shiro to know what look he was giving him.
"Really? Because I think communication will help us tremendously. It might not help us get back together, but it could help our friendship," Shiro said.
Inhale. Exhale. He could do this.
"What is it that you want out of this, Shiro?"
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"If that's a fucking hickey I swear to God I'm taking you back to Boston right now," Lance scolded, yanking Keith to a halt. Keith's hand quickly went to the mark he had discovered this morning from Shiro last night. They've been wandering D.C. for a few hours now and he was just now noticing it?
"Okay, fine, it's not a hickey," Keith said. He gave Lance a sheepish smile and a nervous laugh, but Lance wasn't having it. He pulled Keith's hand away from his neck, observing the small dark mark close to the underside of his jaw. Lance let out a dramatic gasp and glared at Keith. Keith peeked in front of them, seeing that Pidge, Matt and Shiro were too busy observing the reflection pool to notice them.
"Keith fucking Kogane, I can't believe this," Lance hissed quietly. "Did you two do something when you ran off?"
Keith shrugged, "We kind of... kissed a little. A little! And then I threw up, so it definitely ruined the mood. Look, it's really none of your business."
Lance seemed to be a little offended by that comment, but Keith was completely right after all. Keith didn't really have to tell Lance anything, he just chose which information to give him. And he and Shiro making out against a tree drunk was to be his own personal memory.
"I'm just worried about you. And Shiro. Keith, you can't be toying with him. That's just not fair," Lance said softly.
"I know! Don't you think I feel awful about it? I was drunk, he was hot and, I just wanted him so bad. Lance, I love him," Keith replied, rubbing his temples.
"If you love him, why aren't you guys back together?"
"It's not that simple, Lance. It won't be the same."
"It was literally the first night of our road trip and he left a hickey on you."
"Alright, you got me there. But there's been too much damage done!"
"That's why you two need to talk, like adults."
"I'm older than you. Don't tell me what to do."
"Don't be childish."
"No. I'm gonna be as childish as I want. Cause I'm a grown ass man. Ugh! Why do you do this with me all the time?"
"Because it's what best friends do."
Lance grinned and wrapped an arm around Keith's shoulders, giving him a tight squeeze. Keith's face might read as incredible discomfort, but he actually loved when Lance hugged him like that.
"Alright, if we're talking about last night's kisses... how did you feel when Matt kissed you like that?" Keith teased, shoving Lance off him. Lance stumbled on his feet, cheeks blazing hot. He tripped over his words, trying to figure out what to say to Keith, but honestly that was only further proving Keith's theory.
"It was nothing! He was being stupid," Lance said.
"Sure. It definitely looked like you were kissing him back though."
"I definitely wasn't. He tasted like vodka and it was gross."
"You like vodka. And Matt."
"I like neither of things. Jeez, and you call yourself my best friend?"
Keith rolled his eyes at Lance, shoving his hands in his pockets and walking forward to join the others. Lance chased after him, still trying to defend the fact he totally, definitely did not have a crush on Matt Holt. Keith was positive he did.
"Where did you two go?" Shiro asked as he snapped pictures with his phone.
"They're always doing that. Having private conversations. Secrets don't make friends!" Matt said, waggling a finger at them.
"Too bad we're already friends," Keith snorted.
"Yeah, that's definitely a too bad moment," Pidge said. Keith elbowed her and she let out a gentle laugh.
"Hey! Everyone circle up. I wanna take a group selfie!" Lance said, waving his phone in the air. Lance immediately grabbed Keith, crushing him to his side. Matt flocked to Lance's other side and Pidge slid up in front of Lance. Shiro stood behind everyone, but hovering a bit too close to Keith for comfort. Keith awkwardly shifted as close to Lance as he could, trying not to touch Shiro.
Matt stuck up a peace sign, his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Pidge placed her fingers on the side of her glasses, smirking up at the camera. Keith was... never the best when it came to selfies. He let his face fall natural, hoping it didn't look constipated. Lance flashed his cockiest grin and Shiro... looked the prettiest of them all. His smile came so naturally, so perfect. Keith had to force himself to look away from the camera so he didn't focus on Shiro. And probably lose it completely.
"Say cheese!" Lance said, clicking the button. Literally no one said that anymore.
"Okay, I totally got my fill of D.C. Checked that off my bucket list! Shiro, what about you?" Matt grinned, standing proud.
"Definitely! I'm really happy we decided to stay this extra day. It really means a lot to me and Matt," Shiro said. Keith smiled up at him, his heart thumping in his chest.
"Awesome! Let's get some food then before we figure out what to do for the night," Lance said, stretching his arms over his head.
"Denny's! Denny's! Denny's!" Pidge chanted, fists clenched tightly at her chest. She was practically vibrating out of her skin.
"No Pidge, you don't go to Denny's. You end up at Denny's," Matt said, resting his arm on her head. Everyone nodded in agreement.
"Alright, but it's my turn to pick dinner. Therefore, I'm picking Denny's. I'm dying for a Moon Over My Hammy right now," Pidge said, shoving Matt off her. That got everyone around her to groan because unfortunately she had the final say. So now they all had to pile into the RV to go to Denny's. Keith recalled that he had never been to a Denny's sober. So, this was going to be quite the experience.
Much to Keith's disappointment, Denny's while sober was incredibly underwhelming. He was so used to it being his sweet, sweet salvation when he and his friends would go out and drink just a little too much. His greasy haven. Nothing exciting even happened. Other than Lance being completely glued to his phone. Matt had already cracked the joke that all of Lance's friends were together, who could he be texting.
And that's when he dropped some good news.
"Looks like Mr. Shirogane left quite the impression on Alfor. Allura and I were texting, yeah Matt be jealous I got her number, and she told me her dad offered us a spot at camp to crash for the night! They had the extra room and Shiro is a 'fine lad who he feels he can trust'. Shiro, you saved us a solid like hundred dollars or something. 'Cause I'm definitely not ready to stay at a crappy motel just yet," Lance said, while typing away at his phone.
"Huh? You were texting Allura? If I made the impression on Alfor, you'd think she'd be texting me! Oh—wait. She did. I'm not used to texting people that aren't Keith, whoops," Shiro said, scrolling through his phone. Keith felt his chest tighten sharply. He got Allura's number and clearly talked to her dad enough to leave a lasting impression. Keith felt his heart sink lower and lower as he watched Shiro reply to Allura.
"You both chummed up to her real quick," Keith mumbled.
"Well, we hung out with her all night. What do you expect? Then, she and I have been texting like, all day. She's really sweet honestly. I like her!" Lance said, smiling at his phone.
"Allura is very charming. That's for sure," Shiro grinned as he took the check from the waitress. He scanned over the bill quickly and before anyone could take it, stashed the receipt away.
"So that's pretty cool. We're gonna stay at the camp another night," Pidge nodded.
"Hey, are we going to ignore that Shiro just hid the bill because I'm sure he's planning on paying for all of it?" Matt asked, pointing at Shiro.
"What? Matt, I would never," Shiro winked. Keith gulped, licking his lips a little desperately. Cruel, unfair.
"C'mon Shiro, don't front the whole thing," Pidge said, pursing her lips.
"You guys can cover a solid tip for her then, eh?" Shiro asked, already standing up. Honestly, there was no use arguing with him. Shiro was too good of a guy to let them win. The others groaned and got together enough to cash to give her a pretty good tip. After all, this group was definitely a handful.
"Allura says she's excited to see us one more time before we leave for good. Considering she didn't get a proper goodbye due to last night's... events," Lance said, eyes flitting between Shiro and Keith. Keith elbowed him in the ribs, silencing him with a cold glare.
"I did sort of run off in the middle of her game. But I was worried about Keith," Shiro shrugged. He really needed to stop saying stuff like that. It would put Keith in an early grave.
The forty minute drive back to camp went by quickly. Keith just laid on the sofa, staring up at the ceiling, listening to music and tuning out the rest of them. Shiro was driving so he didn't have to worry about the stolen glances between the two of them. But he did have to worry about Lance and Matt bickering about what movies to watch tonight. Which made him eternally grateful for headphones.
Allura said in a text that their spot from last night was available for them. Keith was a little appreciative of her getting this for them. He wondered what she and Lance were talking about for her to do this. As they rolled in and parked, Keith sat up, his earbuds dropping from his ears.
"Hey! What do you know, it's Allura!"
Of course it was.
"I'm letting her up. Shiro, are you gonna go get us all plugged in and what not?" Matt asked, sliding out of his passenger seat.
"Yeah, I figured I'd do that. Again, we're literally the only ones who know how. And I know you're about to focus all your energy in wooing that poor girl," Shiro said with a little laugh. Cute. Matt was too busy getting the door for Allura to answer him. He opened the door, said some stupid greeting that Keith didn't pay attention to, and held Allura's hand as she stepped inside.
"Hello everyone! Wonderful to see you all again," she smiled sweetly, giving everyone a small wave. Everyone but Keith chorused in delighted hellos, but he did give her a curt nod. It was better than nothing.
"I’ll be right back! Be nice to her," Shiro warned, stepping outside.
"This place is quite amazing! Father used to own one of similar quality before we settled here. Luxurious and yet homely! " Allura complimented, looking all around. Her mouth formed a near perfect 'o' shape as she batted her eyelashes. Lance slid out from the table next to Pidge to stand next to Allura.
"You're welcome to hang out with us. Please, we'd all love it! It's the least we can do," Lance said, taking her hand in his. Keith could literally see Matt glaring at Lance's hand, probably wishing his hand would fall off.
"I would not want to intrude on your night. I simply wanted to do my new friends a favor," she said, placing a dainty hand on her cheek. Everything about this girl was graceful, so graceful it was goddess-like. Keith could see why the others would be so attracted to her.
"Nah, you're not intruding. You're a friend!" Matt said, giving her a sly wink.
"Plus, it gives me a chance to hang out with you too. And find out why these boys are drooling over you so hard," Pidge snickered.
"I would love that! Pidgeon was it?" Allura said.
"Pidge," Matt corrected. One could almost hear how hard Pidge rolled her eyes.
"Here, Allura, come sit with Pidge and I!" Lance said, leading her over to the table. Keith stretched out his legs on the sofa, letting them know it wasn't an option. He was being a bitter, jealous jerk and he hated himself for it. She was a kind girl who just wanted to be their friend. And he was being unreasonable.
"So, Allura, why don't you tell us about yourself?" Pidge asked.
"Well, I am not sure there is much to tell," she started. She slid in the booth, right next to Pidge. Lance and Matt slid in across from her, completely enamored.
"I'm sure there's plenty," Lance said.
"I assure you there is not much to me! I live here with my father and mother when I am not in school. I am a late start medical student. I wish to become a doctor one day and help save lives. I am not too far in my schooling. My family moves around too much for me to decide on a college. I wanted to be close to my family. But my father recent bought this place and well, now I can settle. Ah, my apologies. I truly do not know what to say. I am trained in mixed martial arts. And that is pretty much all I can say," she said. Mixed martial arts? Allura didn't look the type, but Keith should know better than to judge a book by its cover.
"Martial arts? So, you're really strong? Could you kick my ass in a fight?" Matt asked, completely serious. Allura's eyes narrowed as she smirked at him.
"I could probably kick both yours and Lance's asses quite easily," she said, her voice low.
"Hot," Lance squeaked out. Lance loved girls who could easily destroy him.
"I would pay good money to see you slaughter Matt and Lance. It would be so funny," Pidge laughed. Keith had to admit, he'd love to see that too.
"I would pay you to slaughter me," Matt said, holding her hands in his.
"Matt, I said to behave," came Shiro's voice from the doorway, low and vaguely threatening.
"No, you said to be nice. And I am being nice! I'm offering money in exchange for a service," Matt said. Allura's face scrunched into a weird face.
"That is such an odd sentence," she said.
Keith snickered at them, stretching his legs out on the sofa. But Shiro wasn't having that. Shiro picked up Keith's legs, despite his protests, and sat down, letting him rest his legs on his lap. Keith sat up straighter, glaring at Shiro. Shiro placed his elbow on Keith's leg, resting his face on his hand and giving him a smug look that read go-ahead-try-me. Keith rolled his eyes, laying back down where he was comfortable, but did not move his legs from Shiro's lap. Shiro then began to lightly trail his fingertips up and down Keith's bare shin. Keith licked his lips, trying to ignore the sensation.
"Okay, so, movie night. Matt and I literally can't decide between what genres we want. He wants sci-fi and I'm totally down for a," Lance started, leaning close to Allura, "romantic comedy."
"Is horror a viable option?" Allura asked, tapping a finger to her chin.
"Now that's what I'm talking about," Pidge nodded.
"I'd watch a horror movie," Shiro said.
"Well I don't! Most horror movies involve camping and I don't need to have nightmares. Allura, there's no psychopath living here is there?" Lance said, crossing his arms over his chest and pouting.
"Nope, probably just you," Matt said. Lance elbowed him sharply and the boys bickered between themselves before Pidge shut them up with a glare.
"How about Matt and Lance watch a movie in the bedroom? Then, the rest of us can watch a horror movie out here? I figured out how to get the table to change into a bed last night while everyone was partying without me. So Allura and I can be a little more comfortable for this," Pidge offered.
"Yeah, I'd rather watch a scary movie than a rom com," Keith said.
"Matt and Lance are effectively booted out of movie night," Pidge grinned.
"How is that any kind of fair? What kind of democracy is this?" whined Lance.
"It's not democracy; it's dictatorship. And I'm in charge. Now, you two, get out," Pidge said, pointing. Matt and Lance grumbled as they slid out of the booth. Pidge shook her head at the two of them, eyes narrowed slightly. The two of them sulked to the bedroom, slamming the sliding door shut as hard as they could. Aw, poor babies.
"And then there were four. Hey, squeeze out a second Allura. I'll push this into the bed. Keith, Shiro, did you guys wanna pull out the sofa bed?" Pidge said.
"Yeah, we can do that. C'mon Keith, get off me," Shiro said, poking his calf. Keith peered down at him, an eyebrow raised. Shiro silently tiled his head at him, slightly frowning. Keith groaned and dramatically got to his feet.
"Actually, I am going to head back to my lodge to grab a few things. I was not expecting to join your movie night adventure! Would anyone like to accompany me?" Allura asked, batting her eyelashes at Shiro. Shiro was truly a little too oblivious to notice.
"I'll go," offered Keith immediately. But, Allura's response was not one he was expecting. Her hands clasped together and her smile seemed genuine.
"Wonderful! It will be great to get a chance to chat with you on our walk. We did not get to properly hang out last night. And rosé cider tends to make me very out of control," she giggled. Keith nodded, lips drawn in a tight line. He slipped his flip flops on quickly, hands immediately in his pockets of his shorts.
"Be careful. It got pretty dark pretty fast," Pidge said, staring out the window.
"The woods do that. It's a bit intimidating, but you learn to love it," shrugged Allura. She walked past Keith, hovering on the steps with her hand on the door handle. "Are you ready, Keith?"
"Wait, Keith," Shiro said, his voice hard. He felt fingers loosely grip his wrist, but it was enough to completely stop him.
"What?" asked Keith.
"Please be safe, please. It's very dark out and we have literally zero service out here. Watch out for Allura as well. Come home quickly," Shiro said. It was almost like he was commanding him with that tone of voice. It sent chills down Keith's spine as he loved it when Shiro commanded him. Whether in simple tasks or other ways. But the way his lips wrapped around the word home caused Keith's heart to flutter. Home. This RV wasn't home. Keith's basement was home. Shiro was home.
That's when it hit him. Shiro really did mean to come back to him. Or at least that's what his love filled heart was telling him. What it wished he meant.
"Do not worry, Shiro. I am quite positive Keith and I can handle ourselves should anything happen. Based on what you have told me about him—Keith can certainly handle things even if he was alone. But he has me with him," she winked. Shiro talked about him to her? That definitely made Keith feel a little better. A small smile threatened to break out over his face, hearing that he talked about him gave him extreme satisfaction.
"We'll be good, man. Don't sweat," Keith said, pulling his hand away from Shiro's. He turned to look at Shiro one last time before they left. What was usually sharp and chiseled features looked soft and delicate. Concern touched Shiro's eyes with his bottom lip hung slightly open. Keith desperately wanted to trace his thumb over that lip, give him a kiss to assure him that things would be okay. Shiro was always worried about him. It was both a curse and a blessing.
"We're picking out the movie and getting snacks ready while you're gone!" Pidge called out after them. Keith waved her off, closing the door behind them.
The summer night air was heavy, thick from the humidity. He definitely hated stepping outside when his air-conditioned RV was right behind him. Damn his jealousy for immediately volunteering for this walk with her. Keith kept his head low, hands in his pockets and just followed close behind. Allura hummed to herself, hands behind her back as they walked. She held herself up high with dignity and grace. Keith could respect that about her.
"You know, it was my plan all along to walk with you," she admitted after a bit of walking in silence. Keith squinted his eyes at her, curious as to what game she was playing.
"I figured if I bat my pretty little eyes at Shiro a little more you would walk with me. So, there was no chance of me walking alone with your Shiro," Allura said, not turning to look back at Keith.
"He's not my Shiro," Keith said flatly.
"Ah, but you are certainly his Keith. I figured it out eventually. None of my flirting was getting through to him and all he wanted to talk about was, well, you. It is quite charming honestly. I believe he loves you a lot," said Allura. Really? Now an outsider was going to make comments about his awkward relationship with Shiro? She had zero place to say anything to Keith about this. She wasn't his friend and she was barely Shiro's. She had only cared about flirting with him.
"And I bet you love him a lot in return. I mean, that was rather obvious with last night's display. You mounted the man in front of everyone. It was pretty funny actually," she laughed. Her laughter was soft and it echoed in the open air. Keith felt his cheeks blaze hot, remembering last night's incident. How he made a fool of himself in front of his friends and a bunch of strangers.
"You know, you could have been like, hey Keith. Mind if we chat privately? Instead of flirting with Shiro," Keith said bitterly, imitating her accent terribly. That seemed to get her to stop in place and really laugh. As in, she gripped her sides and doubled over in laughter. Her laughter was actually beautiful, her real laughter. Not the fake flirtatious crap he had been hearing. No, her real laughter was bells and music. He was taken aback by her laugh, finding it to be really nice actually.
Allura turned to face Keith, wiping a tear from her eye and saying, "Truly, I have never met a person so against me! Keith, my quest for Shiro is long gone. It is rather clear he wants you. Last night put things into perspective for me. Which is fine, I am a stranger intruding on your dynamic. I apologize for my behavior. I do not understand your relationship with Shiro, but I respect that it is there. Really, Keith, there is no reason to unjustly hate me. I find you to be quite interesting. In fact, I have just decided that I actually adore you and your... antics. All of you, really. I did not quite expect to bond with you all as easily as I did. Perhaps it was destiny pulling some strings to make sure we all met."
Great. How could he stay mad at her if she was this kind? Keith hated that. But he admired that she apologized for flirting with Shiro. When really, she shouldn't have. He wasn't dating Shiro anymore and his heart really needed to get a good grasp on that. Keith paused a few moments to process everything, but gave her a genuine smile.
"Thanks, Allura. I'm—really sorry I acted like a brat. Shiro is super important to me. All of my friends are! Our lives have been pretty crazy lately and I haven't been able to—uh, I dunno. Process anything properly. Or whatever. But you're really cool," Keith said, nodding to himself.
"Wonderful! I'm glad we had this talk then and cleared the air," Allura said, sliding her arm through Keith's.
"Me too. Everyone else seems to really like you. You kept Lance pretty busy most of the day," Keith said.
"He's very talkative and I love his energy. Even through text! We've bonded pretty well too," Allura nodded.
"Good, he needs good people in his life."
But that twinge of jealousy was still there. Lance was still his best friend. But, Keith had much better control of his jealousy after talking with Allura. He figured they could actually get along pretty well.
Blood splatter and gore never really bothered Keith. Which is why he was able to handle horror movies so well. Shiro on the other hand, had a bit of a weak stomach. It wasn't horrible for him, just making him uneasy for the most part. Keith and Shiro didn't watch a lot of horror movies or gore porn ones specifically for that reason. But Pidge, being the monster she is, chose the Final Destination series. Keith found them to be incredibly cheesy, and Shiro said he did too. But Keith could see him clench his hands a little at the particularly graphic scenes.
Allura and Pidge had comfortably both fit on the table bed. They even still had room to squeeze a popcorn bowl in between the two of them. Matt and Lance had not bothered them at all and Keith even speculated if they were making out or not. He genuinely wouldn't be surprised if they were at this point.
But that left he and Shiro sharing the sofa bed. Keith was laying on his side, head resting on his propped hand. Shiro had set up some pillows and was laying against those. Keith idly tossed popcorn from his little bowl into his mouth ever so often. Shiro claimed he wasn't hungry.
Much to Keith's surprise, being in this close proximity to Shiro was not an issue. Perhaps it was because they relieved some tension last night.
No, it was because this felt so natural to Keith. This is all they would do when Shiro would come over to his and Lance's. They'd lounge around in Keith's basement, watching whatever they thought was suitable that day. Sometimes they'd even just nap together before Shiro went home. This was what he always did with Shiro and that's why he wasn't anxious or anything being around him.
It was the middle of the second movie at this point. This was the scene where the pipe would impale Kat in the movie. Keith had seen this movie a few too many times and this scene was particularly cheesy. But he stole a quick glance at Shiro upon impact. His face contorted as his body shrunk in on itself. Keith furrowed his brows together, frowning.
"Hey, look at me," whispered Keith. Shiro opened his closed eye and turned to look down at him. Keith gave him a reassuring him and took his hand in his. Shiro looked down at their hands, giving Keith's a little squeeze.
"Wanna go join Matt and Lance?" Keith asked. Shiro silently nodded. Keith slid off the bed and peeked over the side. Pidge was lightly snoring next to Allura who stopped tossing popcorn in her mouth to look up at Keith.
"We're gonna go check on Matt and Lance. Shiro isn't the biggest fan of this one. Kinda dumb if you ask me," Keith murmured with a little shrug.
"We can honestly turn this off if you much prefer. I find these movies to be stupid. Perhaps we can see if Matt and Lance wish to join us?" Allura offered.
"I can put her on her bed. We lowered it before you guys came back. Keith, grab the other two?" Shiro said. Keith gave him a thumb up and made his way to the back bedroom. He slid open the door, slipping into the room quietly.
"Hey what are you two—oh my fucking God," Keith started. But upon seeing the sight before him, he immediately whipped his phone out of his pocket. Keith covered his mouth, stifling his laughter as he stole a few photos of Matt and Lance. He ran back to the others, really forcing himself to not laugh out loud. Shiro had just set Pidge in her bed as Allura took her spot back on the table bed.
"What is it Keith? Are they asleep?"
"Check this out. I'm using this as blackmail," Keith snickered, showing Allura and Shiro the photos. Lance was curled up on Matt's chest and Matt had his arms wrapped around Lance tightly. They were cuddling each other. Whether they had been doing that the whole time or were just cuddling in their sleep Keith wasn't sure. But he found it to be the funniest thing he had ever seen.
"Alright Keith, I might have to believe your theory about those two. I swear, Matt is aggressively straight but the last two nights are testing that," Shiro said, giving a little snort for a laugh.
"I'm telling you, Shiro. Those two are going to hook up. Maybe our break up accelerated those two getting together," Keith laughed, flipping through the photos. He looked up at Shiro to see the mild hurt on his face from his careless sentence. Ouch. He really didn't mean it like that, but it was still hurtful to say.
"I think it might be time for me to head home," Allura said, awkwardly looking between the two who had slipped into yet another uncomfortable silence.
"No, it's really late Allura. You're more than welcome to sleep there. Keith and I can share the sofa bed," Shiro said, sighing a little.
"Really, I wouldn't want to intrude," she said.
"You're not," Shiro and Keith replied in sync. They exchanged a quick glance between each other uncomfortably.
"Very well. It is kind of you to let me stay. I will just use the bathroom quickly and give you two some time to talk out whatever awkward energy you just created. Then, we can pick a movie to fall asleep to. Sound like a plan? Great! It's settled!" Allura said, quickly scrambling for the bathroom before they could object.
"We're disturbing everyone around us," Keith sighed, rubbing his temples.
"She's right you know. They're all right. We need to talk," Shiro said, placing a hand on his shoulder. Keith sharply shrugged away from him, glaring up at him.
"I don't want to talk. I'm not ready for talking, Shiro. And I don't think I'll ever be," Keith said coldly.
"Keith, about last night—."
"—Drop it right now. Last night was a drunk mistake. We can't let that happen again."
"Then let's make a sober mistake."
Shit. Keith had to admit that was a little smooth. He covered his lower half of his face with his hand, only leaving his glaring eyes visible for Shiro.
"Please, talk with me. Just a little bit. We can take this slow. But let's do it outside. Under the stars. Like we do—did," Shiro said. Another favorite thing to do with Shiro. Neither of them had the easiest time sleeping at night. So, when they were both wide awake at three in the morning, Shiro would meet at Keith's and lay out on a blanket, just looking at the stars. They would talk about anything and everything for hours until either fell asleep. Keith nodded at Shiro. He could possibly do this.
"Grab a blanket. I'll meet you outside in a second. I'll go tell Allura to start a movie without us," Keith replied. Shiro looked into his eyes wordlessly for a moment before scooping up a blanket and rushing outside. Keith needed a few moments to collect himself before this happened.
He paced back and forth briefly, rubbing his hands together. His mind was racing, unable to think of safe topics to bring up with Shiro. Keith knew he would be unable to convey his feelings properly like this. But was he sure he really wanted to tell Shiro? That had been his fear all along. He didn't want Shiro to find out about his crushing fears of abandonment and commitment. He didn't want Shiro to run away from him. That's why he got them in this mess in the first place.
"Shit," he whispered. Keith choked down the tears that were slowly rising. Now was not the time to cry. He was certain it might happen later, but it was too early. He had to calm himself down. Keith turned on the kitchen sink, splashing cold water on his face. It felt refreshing against his feverish skin.
"Keith, where is Shiro?" Allura asked, peeking out from the bathroom. Keith snapped his head to her.
"Right, yeah. We're gonna, uh, hang around outside for a bit. Start a movie without us. We'll be back," Keith said, slowly backing away for the door. Allura seemed to give him an all-knowing smile. Keith wrapped his fingers around the handle, inhaled deeply and exhaled as he pushed open the door into the night.
Shiro was already laying down on the grass, hands behind his head. Crickets could be heard echoing throughout the grass, among other noises of the forest. It was incredibly dark outside, save the RV's outside motion light and the light of Shiro's phone as he scrolled. The door closed behind Keith and Shiro turned around to look at him.
"H-Hey," Keith whispered. Shiro sat up right, crossing his legs and patting the spot on the blanket next to him. Keith ghosted over to him, sitting down quickly. He didn't say anything at first, just fidgeting with his hands. Shiro continued to scroll on his phone until soft music started playing. He turned the volume down a little more before locking his phone and setting it between them.
"So. We need to talk," was all he said.
"We do. But I don't know how much of this it's going to solve," Keith said. He didn't have to look up at Shiro to know what look he was giving him.
"Really? Because I think communication will help us tremendously. It might not help us get back together, but it could help our friendship," Shiro said.
Inhale. Exhale. He could do this.
"What is it that you want out of this, Shiro?"
"Selfishly? To keep your friendship. A little more selfishly? To get back together with you. Selflessly? To help you overcome whatever anxieties and problems that are going on in your head. Because you mean the world to me, Keith. And I'm so worried about your mental health," Shiro said. Keith's head snapped up, eyes boring into Shiro's.
"My mental health? What about yours? You mentioned being black out. Were you drinking again? Shiro, you were doing so much better from the last time. We got you help after your dad so that wouldn't happen again," Keith said. Shiro simply waved his hands at him.
"I wasn't drinking. But I do have holes in my memory. Dissociation and depression and what not. It was pretty much like being black out drunk without the drinking. But I'm okay right now," Shiro shrugged.
"No, I know what you mean. It's happened before. See, that's really bad."
"But I'm better. It was a terrible episode, but you know I get out of those. And I didn't drink because I had your voice in the back of my head. You were warning me not to do it."
"So, you'll listen to imaginary me?"
"I'd listen to real you any day of the week."
"Alright, alright. Let's talk. I don't want to make you talk about anything you aren't ready to. Do you want to say something first then?"
Keith paused, biting on his bottom lip. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say, really. So many things came to mind, but he couldn't seem to put them into coherent sentences. He rubbed at the back of his neck nervously.
"I guess I could properly explain to you why I broke up with you. You deserve an explanation. God, after all we've been through together I shouldn't have even broken up with you like that. But I was being a fucking coward. I'm still being a coward because I'm scared of getting hurt," Keith said. Shiro didn't say anything, but he took Keith's hand in his hands. Shiro stared into his eyes, face still.
"Shiro, before I continue... just know I—I still love you with all of my heart. Okay? That I never really wanted t-to do this, but I had to do this. For both of our sakes."
"Keith, I love you too."
"I can't marry you. Or move in with you. Or any of that. I can't do it. And I don't think I can ever do it. Maybe. I don't know."
One could actually pinpoint the exact moment of heartbreak in Shiro's eyes.
That's something Keith had been worried about. He never wanted to break up with him in person for this exact reason. He could see the physical pain on Shiro's face and in his eyes. Keith's heart sunk and his chest ached. That queasy feeling was coming back strong.
"What do you mean you can't marry me?"
"I mean exactly that. I just—physically cannot make that commitment. There's something that makes me like that. I can't explain it. It's because of my mom and dad. Really, it is. Mom left dad and dad wasn't exactly his best after that. I'm so scared of letting that happen to either of us. Dad was destroyed when she left and it damaged our relationship so bad. I was six years old, Shiro. Six when she walked out on him! I can't let that happen to us. Marriage is fucking stupid and scary."
Keith felt Shiro's hands trembling around his hand. He wasn't crying, but Keith wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
"God, Keith, we've been together for four years. I feel like we should have talked about this so much sooner. So we wouldn't have gotten so fucking invested in each other! I feel like I should have known," Shiro said, laughing a bit hysterically. This was something else he was worried about. Those exact words. They were literally knives in Keith's heart. It was pretty much Shiro saying they should have talked about it sooner so they could have broken up before they got 'too invested'. The exact reason why Keith had to leave him first before Shiro could abandon him.
"That's why I had to break up with you. You wouldn't want me."
"See, that's where you're wrong. You tell me now you won't ever marry me and yet I still would give my right arm to be with you. Shit Keith, even if you had told me years ago I still wouldn't leave you. I've been in love with you since the start. Even if you'll never be my husband or live with me, I still just want you. The very basis of you. Nothing else matters."
Fuck. This hurt more than he thought it ever would. Neither of them were crying, but Keith could feel himself close to his breaking point. Shiro was saying all the right words for Keith to take him back, but deep down he just couldn't believe him.
How could he believe in love when the two people he had loved most fell apart? His mother and father were perfect, happy, and in love. But even they ended. His mother abandoned he and his father. Keith didn't want that to happen with him and Shiro, but it seems that's exactly what they were doomed to do. Love was fake and it only hurt people.
But he could believe in love. With every tender kiss Shiro gave him. Every soft moment between the two. Every time he could count on Shiro to be his right hand man. With every laugh that came from that man's mouth that sent electric currents throughout his body. All the butterflies in his stomach he still felt six years later from their first meeting. He could believe in love with Shiro. But every damned instinct of his told him to run before he got hurt.
But was it worth hurting Shiro?
This was something they actually had brought up throughout their relationship. Shiro would casually bring up their future together, possibly trying to see Keith's reaction, but Keith would brush it off. Shiro would mention their place and Keith would switch the topic. Only a handful of times would Shiro bring it up seriously, but that only led to Keith distancing himself a bit from Shiro. Not the healthiest way to handle things, but it had worked until recently.
Shiro was talking about rings. About homes with cats and a dog for Keith, should he want one. About wedding bells and how Matt would obviously be his best man. It was all happening so quickly that Keith kept pushing further and further away until he just... did it.
"You deserve someone who wants to—to get cats with you. And let Matt be your best man. Someone who can give you the future you want," Keith stumbled, his anxiety high.
"The future I want is with you in it."
He hated how much he loved this man in this moment. He always knew the right things to say to Keith, to make him feel better. Keith's hands bunched up on his thighs, eyes glued to the ground. He wouldn't dare look at Shiro right now, afraid of what he might see.
“Shiro, I want to be in your future, but it’s not fair. You need someone who will give you that level of commitment you want and I just can’t give that to you! I don’t think I ever can. Not with—with my mom and dad. And everything,” Keith huffed, rubbing his eyes with the bottoms of his palms. He was trying to stop the tears before they came. And it gave him an excuse to not look at Shiro.
“I don’t care about that. Why don’t you get that? You’ve always been there for me. You’ve been my rock. If you don’t have a ring on your finger and I still just visit you in your basement then so be it. You will always be my future, Key,” Shiro cried out, his voice pleading. Keith had to see him. He had to move his hands and see what his face looked like.
God was that a fucking mistake.
The rims of his eyes were red, water already collecting along the bottom. His hands trembled, lips quivering. Shiro looked like a mess and Keith was doing that to him. To them. Why couldn’t he just accept Shiro’s words? Shiro was promising to never leave him even if he never wanted to get married.
But could Keith really trust that?
It was that nagging anxiety in the back of his mind that told him Shiro would leave him. He would leave him in every reality because Keith wasn’t what he wanted or needed. Keith instinctively reached out to touch Shiro’s cheek to wipe a stray tear away. But Shiro nudged his hand away and that was a knife in Keith’s heart.
“Don’t, Key. Don’t do that if nothing is meant behind it.”
Of course, there was meaning behind it. Keith was utterly in love with Shiro and he wanted nothing more than to comfort the love of his life. He wanted to never see a tear fall on his cheek like that again. But this was his doing and he had to accept the consequences. Shiro’s head dropped to look at his lap.
“Shiro, I love you.”
Shiro didn’t even look at him.
“Please look at me. Please.”
“Why, Keith? Every time I look at you, all I see is your brilliant light. You were my sun and I revolved around you. But now I’m a dead planet and you’re a supernova. But, god, Key, you’re still so beautiful. I would die a thousand deaths if it meant I could revolve around you again,” Shiro said, his voice tight and cold. His tone didn’t match the beautiful words he was saying at all. And that’s what killed Keith. That, and the heart wrenching look Shiro finally gave him when his head snapped back up.
“I wish things could be different.”
“You and me both, Keith.”
The song Shiro had left playing in the background was much too soft and sad for either of their liking. Shiro paused their conversation to change the song. Keith recognized both of them. They were both on Shiro’s Starlight playlist. The playlist Shiro had made for the two of them when they just laid out under the stars. How fitting.
Shiro's words resonated within him. Keith really was a supernova or black hole. He had exploded and felt like all around him was collapsing. His life was collapsing around him, shaking him to the core. He wished it could be a Big Bang sort of deal where everything could restart. But everything was dead around him.
“I don’t want you out of my life,” said Keith softly. Alright, that was a little bit of a lie. In reality, he truly wanted to cut ties with Shiro completely after this trip. He couldn’t remain his friend, given how the last couple of days have went already. Keith didn’t think he’d be able to stomach seeing that expression on Shiro again.
“I don’t want to lose you either Keith. Which, even though this conversation brought to light painful truths... I’m glad we had it. I—honestly—I feel a little better. I’m so thankful you finally told me the truth on how you feel. I wish we could work on it—together. But I understand. I know who you are as a person. And I could never make you do anything you didn’t want to do,” Shiro replied gently.
But that’s the thing. Keith wanted more than anything to get back together with him and fix this. It was just that god damn anxiety that kept Keith suffering inside. He just couldn’t find the words to convey that. Keith crawled over to Shiro, holding his face in his hands. Shiro inhaled a sharp breath and tensed under Keith’s touch. This was a sober mistake, but Keith wanted it more than anything.
He leaned in and gently pressed his lips to Shiro’s. Keith was on his knees, holding Shiro’s face, and pushing into the kiss a little. Shiro’s left hand found Keith’s lower back, warm skin touching his own cool skin. It was such a shock to Keith’s body that he melted against him. A real, warm, loving kiss that wasn’t because of the alcohol coursing through their veins. Keith’s hand slid down to Shiro’s chest as he crawled closer, never breaking their lips. But Shiro’s hand caught his wandering wrist. He was the one who pulled away from him.
Keith nodded and sat back down, but stayed close to Shiro. He placed his one hand on his lap, while Shiro held the other. Shiro’s lips pressed into the underside of his wrist, his nose nuzzling it after. It was a kind gesture that set Keith’s skin on fire. This was the man he loved so god damn much.
“Let’s do what we always do. Let’s just... look at the stars,” Shiro whispered. Keith nodded and Shiro let go of his wrist much to Keith’s displeasure. Shiro slid down onto his back, one arm comfortably behind his head. Keith laid down, not on Shiro as he usually would, but close by.
“You can lay on my chest. It’s fine.”
Well, that’s all the consent Keith needed. He immediately took his place under his arm, cheek on his chest. Shiro’s warm arm wrapped around him protectively and Keith snuggled up to him. He took a small whiff of that familiar and calming scent of his. It always brought Keith back to Earth when he needed it most.
“Okay, Keith. What do you see? I see—a hero. There he is, with his sword and shield. He’s an icon all over the galaxy! What do you see? A... fish? Okay, he can definitely be the hero’s sidekick. What’s their story...?”