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Shiro was the one who made sure Keith always had flowers in his hospital room.

Keith woke up to sunflowers, tulips, carnations – and many more he doesn’t know the name of. On one notable occasion, Shiro slipped a purple rose into the bouquet.

“Lavender,” Shiro had told him.

Now, Keith feels odd to be leaving the hospital. He’s the last one to leave. They kept him a little longer due to his many new scars and a worry that they may not heal properly – or prettily.

Keith spits his toothpaste in the sink, wipes his mouth and regards the scar Shiro had pressed into his face. He doesn’t mind keeping it. He’s never minded scars, really – they remind him where he’s come from, who he’s been and who he is. In the case of this one, it reminds him just how many obstacles he and Shiro have overcome, and how deep their connection runs. Keith’s never found home in any other person.

Shiro’s waiting for him at the front desk, beaming from ear to ear and holding an obnoxiously large teddy bear and a silver balloon.

“You’re ridiculous,” Keith tells him. He’s signed all his paperwork and it feels odd to walk freely out of the hospital. The Garrison’s putting them up for now in a series of basic residences, on-site but far enough away that it doesn’t feel like living on campus.

Someone’s there to drive them to the houses, and Shiro retrieves a key from his pocket and unlocks the door numbered 2. “I’m just around the corner,” he says as they step inside, passing Keith the key. “Do you know when Krolia gets back?”

“Couple hours,” Keith says, looking around. It’s to be his and Krolia’s home for the next few weeks at least, and he smiles to see the beginnings of a personal touch. Krolia had said she’d been out to the shack and Keith sees the evidence of that now: a frame containing a picture of his dad, some polaroids on the fridge of him and Shiro when Shiro’s hair and ears were still coal-black. When he peeks into one of the bedrooms, Krolia’s blade is on her bedside table.

She hasn’t brought Keith’s pinboard of theories, and Keith is grateful. It belongs in a past where Shiro was lost to him.

Shiro hovers in the doorway as Keith pokes around. “What do you think?”

“It’s nice,” Keith says. He’ll like it better when Krolia comes back. The bungalows are small; close enough together that it feels like a community, but far enough apart for privacy.

When she comes back, Keith’s midway through making dinner. The cupboards are stocked and he contents himself with bolognese, reasoning that if his mother had the ingredients, she’ll probably enjoy it. Keith wonders who shopped for her, who picked out penne and apples and brown bread, but he can guess.

“Keith,” Krolia says, setting a messenger bag on the table and coming over to give him a hug. Keith buries his face in her neck and holds on tight. “Finally free, huh?”

“Finally,” Keith says, drawing back and smiling at her. He’d seen her close to every day, too, but it feels different to have their own home – something Keith had never dared to hope for.

“What’s for dinner?”

“Spaghetti bolognese,” Keith says nervously. It’s been years since he had to cook for himself, in truth, and it feels odd that this is the first proper meal he and Krolia will share at a dinner table. He was a decent cook – a far cry from some of the omegas his age, already boasting culinary skills enough to cater for dozens, but good enough. Shiro always liked his cooking.

“Is that the long pasta?” Krolia asks, nose wrinkling as she peers into the pot, and Keith laughs and shakes his head. “I find that impossible to eat. Your father liked it.”

Keith feels stung, but the ache passes. Despite their years away, it’s still difficult to recognise that he has someone to remember his father with. Back on Earth, there'll be even more to remind them of him. Keith and his mother lived wildly different lives with him, but Keith recognises the same man in both their memories.

He drains the pasta in the sink. Krolia hovers, seemingly overwhelmed at Keith’s presence in what was just her house, until now, so Keith hands her cutlery and asks where she keeps the plates.

“Any plans now you’re out of hospital?” Krolia asks as she sets the table.

“Just seeing what the next move is, I guess.” Allura and Coran have the hard jobs; all the rest of them can do is wait for what’s next with diplomacy and technology. “I’ll ask around, see if there’s anything I can do.”

“You are on leave, you know.”

“Yeah,” Keith says absently. It’s hard to remember what being on leave is like; Keith gets restless doing nothing, but with the MFE pilots being the prized pigs, the Voltron paladins get to kick back. For now.

Krolia shrugs off her jacket and goes to hang it up, her back to Keith as she says, “You can start a life, here. On Earth. You’ll have a job, and – you could meet someone.”

“Mom,” Keith says, scandalised.

“Haven’t you thought about it?” Krolia asks. Her tone is indeterminable, but her eyes are kind.

Keith forces a laugh. “No,” he lies.

He’s always thought about it.

From the tender age of 16, when he’d presented as omega and obtained all the accompanying hormones and emotions and expectations, Keith had thought about Shiro, whom he’d met barely a month later. Everyone has the one that got away, Keith reassures himself. Even if he’d never had Shiro, really. Shiro had had Adam and then he had Kerberos and all Keith had was a handful of dog tags and the kind of devotion that inspires legends.

He pours it into their friendship, into having Shiro’s back at every turn, into keeping Shiro close and pushing down that rebellious part of him that whispers “What if?” because that isn’t what Shiro wants and Keith grew out of it long ago.

“Keith?” Krolia asks. Her hands cover his where they’re shaking on the plates. “Sweetheart?”

“I’m just not looking for anyone,” Keith says, starting to dish up.

“You’re handsome enough,” Krolia says, and Keith ducks as she goes to ruffle his hair. “Even if your ears are just as fluffy as when you were a kit.”

Keith pats them self-consciously. “Shiro likes them.”

“Does he, now,” Krolia says, amused.

“Maybe in the future,” Keith says to appease her. Her surprised look prompts him to explain, “Looking for a mate. I just… I’m busy.” Busy with what, he doesn’t elaborate on. “I’ll let you know if anyone magically appears."

“It could be someone you already know.”

“Yeah, right,” Keith says, laughing. He catches the tail end of Krolia’s disappointed expression before she covers it with a smile.



Their bad blood is water under the bridge, but Keith still finds it nigh impossible to sit through one of Iverson’s lectures. It doesn’t help that Lance and Allura are playing footsie and Lance keeps kicking him by mistake. When Keith gives up shooting dirty looks and kicks Lance in the shin instead, Shiro’s reprimanding glance makes him feel ashamed.

Not ashamed enough to apologise to Lance when Shiro gently suggests it, but suitably chastised.

There are biscuits and tea and coffee on a cart in the meeting room afterwards, and Keith makes the appropriate small talk. Their roles as paladins seem insanely hands-off but he tries not to chafe at the lack of responsibility, producing a passable laugh every time someone jokes that he must be ‘dying for a holiday’.

Shiro rescues him after a while. “You looked like you were floundering,” he says.

“It’s weird to be in formal social situations again,” Keith says. Their circle had been so small for so long – Keith’s a little wider due to working with the Blades – that it’s difficult to ease back into society and interact with dozens of people a day.

“I like it,” Shiro says hesitantly. “Piloting Atlas – it’s given me purpose again.”

Keith’s heart hurts. He wants to tell Shiro he’s always been important, always been destined for great things, but what he says is, “I’m glad to hear it, Shiro.”

“Shirogane,” someone interrupts, shaking Shiro’s hand. Lance is by their side, looking as uncomfortable as Keith feels. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about that remarkable feat of engineering.”

“Oh, it was all Coran,” Shiro says modestly. He gives Keith a small smile.

“This is Lieutenant Jefferson,” Lance says. Jefferson’s an alpha, Keith subtly determines, but the way she’s sizing Shiro up speaks of desire, not competition. The eye she casts over Keith is judgemental and would send a lesser omega cowering.

Keith straightens his spine and meets her gaze.

It’s enough to know that Shiro would never be interested in her anyway, but Keith can’t resist twisting the knife.

“I’ll see you later, Shiro,” he says, infusing his tone with the warmth of familiarity and friendship. He directs an unmistakeable glance towards Jefferson, whose expression has soured, and moves to slip away.

Shiro catches his arm. “Come over for dinner tonight?” he asks. “We haven’t had a chance yet.”

“Is six okay?”

Shiro nods. “It’s a date,” he says uncertainly.

Keith smiles at him, forgetting to look for Jefferson’s reaction. “Sure.”

Lance, whose silence has been somewhat ominous, slaps Shiro on the shoulder. “Don’t give up,” he says, tone obviously meant to be reassuring.

Keith wants to ask Don’t give up on what? but the conversation’s already begun and Shiro’s expression is a little too downtrodden for Keith to poke at.

He’s a little early to dinner, which earns him the sight of Shiro in an apron with a tea towel slung over his shoulder and oven gloves on one hand.

“You’re early,” Shiro says with a smile, but it’s not a reprimand and Keith laughs.

“Mom practically shoved me out of the door,” he admits, shrugging out of his jacket. Shiro’s little bungalow is warm from the oven, and Keith takes a long inhale and determines that Shiro’s making chilli con carne. He spots the chilli powder on the counter and grabs it. “I’ll be needing this.”

“I won’t,” Shiro says sheepishly. “Since you’re here, I’ll put you to work.”

Keith takes the plates and cutlery. Shiro’s table has only two chairs – unlike his and Krolia’s, which has four – and Keith’s glad he doesn’t have to choose their places, gratefully settling into the chair opposite Shiro’s. Shiro puts the bowls of chilli and rice between them and it feels cosy, the table small enough that they’ve filled it and their feet knocking underneath.

“Hope you like it,” Shiro says. He lets Keith serve himself first and watches anxiously as Keith lifts the fork to his lips.

“It’s delicious,” Keith says, smiling at Shiro’s breath of relief – as if he’d say anything different. Shiro can’t cook the basics to save his life, but the dishes he’s mastered are always fantastic. “Thank you for cooking.”

He feels awkward as he says it, though he has done dozens of times, and thinks maybe because it’s too similar to thanking an alpha for providing, for caring for their omega. Keith’s always conscious of the way he speaks to and thinks of Shiro; one slip wouldn’t bring their friendship crashing down, but Keith prefers to save himself embarrassment whenever possible.

This is born of his Garrison days, when he’d spent a lot of nights with Shiro and Adam and felt insurmountable guilt for his enormous crush and pitiful thoughts of Shiro being his alpha just because they were sharing a meal. Especially with Shiro’s omega, his partner, sitting right there.

“It’s okay,” Shiro says, snapping Keith back to the present. “I like to.”

Keith’s chest feels tight, and he takes another forkful to avoid finding a response. Something about being on Earth with Shiro again, with time and space and opportunity to grow, is making his dormant crush rear its ridiculous head.

It’s a good meal. It’s nice to be able to eat real food and sit across from Shiro and talk, after weeks of Keith sitting up in bed with a tray of soup and hospital jelly on his lap, while Shiro sat in the unrelenting visitors’ chair.

Shiro asks him a lot of questions, attentive as always, and Keith tells him about the novelty of buying books to read, of having time to tinker with electronics as he always liked to do back in his dad’s cabin.

“What are you going to do now?” Shiro asks, but it doesn’t feel as invasive as Krolia’s enquiries into his future plans. It’s probably a mom thing.

“I don’t know,” Keith says truthfully. Meeting Shiro’s gaze, he says, “Guess I’ll see what you’re up to, first,” and Shiro’s cheeks colour.

They retire to the sofa after dinner, piling the washing up in the sink for now. Keith looks around Shiro’s home for the first time, noting the relative lack of personal effects in comparison to how Krolia had decorated their own residence. One thing he does notice is what looks like a model ship. When Shiro sees him looking, he stands and fetches it from the shelf.

“I thought you’d notice this,” he says, sitting down and passing it to Keith. Keith turns it over in his hands: it’s the IGF-Atlas. “It’s for you.”

“For me?” Keith rubs his fingers over the brilliant white casing, the black highlights, the lights inside. It’s not powered, but the paint glows. “It’s beautiful, Shiro.”

“I had it made for you,” Shiro says nervously.

“You didn’t have to,” Keith says. It’s an obligatory response: in truth, he’s astounded and deeply appreciative of the thoughtfulness of the gift, and all too excited to display it on a shelf at home.

“I wanted to,” Shiro says. “It’s a gift.”

The word gift from Shiro’s mouth makes something inside Keith trip over, his heart skipping a beat. He ignores it.

“I love it,” he says, awed. “Thank you, Shiro.”

They’re not in the habit of spontaneous hugs but, Keith thinks, this one is richly deserved. He hugs Shiro tightly, a little overwhelmed by the alpha scent of him, reminding Keith of warmth and love and home. Shiro’s hand is on the nape of his neck, unconsciously stroking the skin there, and Keith can’t help his shiver when Shiro’s fingers brush through his hair.

Shiro insists on walking him home, despite it being a two minute walk. They pause at Keith’s door and Keith hugs him again, mindful of the Atlas replica in his hands.

“Thank you for dinner,” he says. Despite his time away and how much he’s grown, it still gives him a little thrill to have to look up at Shiro, their height difference still sizeable.

“You’re welcome,” Shiro says. Then, quick enough that Keith doesn’t realise until it’s over, Shiro leans down and kisses him on the cheek. “Have a good night.”

“You too,” Keith says automatically, heart beginning to thud. Shiro’s cheeks are pink and Keith wishes he didn’t have to leave even as he steps backwards. “Hey – you wanna say hi to my mom for a minute?”

“Sure,” Shiro says, returning to Keith’s side as he opens the door. Krolia’s on the sofa but she stands up as they come in, putting her book aside.

“Hey, you,” she says, coming closer. Keith can tell she wants to ruffle his hair, but refrains for Shiro’s sake. Small mercies.

“Commander,” Shiro says.

She laughs. “Krolia, please. I think you've earned that much.”

“Mom,” Keith groans.

“You taking good care of my son?” Krolia asks Shiro, an edge to her voice, and Keith blushes.

“Yes, ma’am,” Shiro says, smiling and clasping his hands in front of him. “Back by nine, like you said.”

Keith’s eyes narrow. “Like you said?” he repeats, looking between them. His mother is smirking.

“I’d better be going,” Shiro says hurriedly. “Nice to see you, Krolia.”

Keith thinks hugging him again would be a little overkill. Shiro pauses on the doorstep and says, “See you tomorrow?”

“Yeah,” Keith says. “Night.” He watches at the door until Shiro’s out of sight, trying his best to hide his stupid smile at the happiness blooming in his chest.

When he closes and locks the door, Krolia pats the sofa beside her. Keith sits down and she ruffles his hair. “How was dinner?”


“No details?”

Keith laughs. “There aren’t any details. Shiro made chilli.”

“What happened before you left?” Krolia asks, and Keith thinks she’s joking before he sees the look on her face.

“He gave me this,” he says, showing her the Atlas.

She takes it and looks it over, impressed. “This is beautiful, Keith.”

Keith nods, pride in his voice as he says, “He had it made for me.”

He thinks he’s escaped her interrogation, but she puts the Atlas to one side and fixes him with a steely gaze. “Anything else?”

“No!” Keith says, too quickly, and then, “He kissed me on the cheek.”

Krolia’s eyebrows raise. “He’s a good friend, huh?”

“The best,” Keith says uneasily. Krolia pinches the bridge of her nose. “What, Mom?”

“Keith,” she says. Her tone is gentle, as though she were calming a frightened animal. “Sweetheart. Shiro’s courting you.”


“Or, at least, he’s trying to.”

“No,” Keith says, but she’s made him uncertain. He thinks again of the flowers, the gifts, Shiro making him dinner. It can’t be. What would Shiro want with… him?

“It took me years to realise I was dating your father,” Krolia says conversationally. Keith rubs his eyes, as though this is a dream he’ll wake up from. “I did appreciate everything he did for me, but I assumed humans were just very friendly.”

Keith stares into the space ahead of him, disbelieving, turning thoughts over and over in his head. “I’ve known him for so long,” is all he can manage.

Krolia shifts, putting an arm around Keith and tugging him close to her side. “Maybe this is the right time,” she says quietly. “For both of you.”

She’s right, Keith realises. With dwindling responsibilities, an expanse of free time, and freedom to be themselves, this would be the designated courting period.

It’s still a surprise, still makes Keith’s heart stutter with the possibility that Krolia is wrong, but it does make sense. He’s still surprised about it when he wakes up the next morning, warm with the fact that he’s the one who holds Shiro’s attention, the one Shiro wants.

Armed with new knowledge, Keith feels more at peace. He doesn’t define anyone by their status, of course, but it feels nice to be courted, to have an alpha’s attention. Particularly because that alpha is Shiro, and Keith’s carried a torch for him for a long, long time.

He worries about how to act, now he knows, but when it comes to it, being with Shiro is as easy as breathing.

Hearing a knock, Keith opens the door. It’s Shiro, bearing a bouquet. Lavender roses again.

“You’re courting me,” Keith blurts out.

Shiro rubs the back of his neck, a smile tugging at his lips. “Yeah,” he says. He gestures with the bouquet. “I mean, if the flowers didn’t make it obvious, nothing would.”

Keith thinks about pretending it was the flowers that made him realise, but opts for the truth. “Actually,” he says, “my mom had to tell me.”

“Oh my God,” Shiro says, laughing. “All this time, you…”

Keith nods. “Come in,” he says, suddenly glad Krolia’s out and won’t be back till late.

“Have you got a vase?”

“Hopefully.” They hunt in the cupboards and the vase produced is more of a tall glass, but the flowers look beautiful in it and Keith sets them on the kitchen table. “Thank you, Shiro,” he says genuinely, feeling bowled over by Shiro’s smile.

“You’re welcome,” Shiro says.

Keith isn’t sure who moves first. All he knows is that after all these years of wishing and hoping and longing, he’s finally kissing Shiro.

Shiro’s lips are warm and the arms looping around Keith are warmer, pressing him close and Keith fists his hands in Shiro’s shirt, unwilling to let go. They pull back to breathe and Shiro’s hands move under Keith’s shirt, spreading over his back and Keith’s heart is thumping so loudly he worries Shiro can hear it.

It’s Keith who kisses him again, hands sliding down to Shiro’s waist. Shiro’s tongue swipes over Keith’s bottom lip and he opens his mouth, letting Shiro lick into him.

Then Shiro pulls back and Keith wants to complain but Shiro kisses along his jaw, noses down to his neck and inhales. Keith shivers and has to suppress a laugh, thrilled at the thought of Shiro scenting him.

“What?” Shiro murmurs, presumably feeling the reverberation of it. Keith says nothing, looking at Shiro’s ears – white now, like the rest of his hair – and thinking how much he wants to touch them. “Wanted to scent you for ages,” Shiro says against Keith’s neck, breathing in again. “Not very subtle, is it?”

“Maybe not,” Keith says. He indulges himself, running his hand up Shiro’s back and into his hair, rubbing over one of his ears. The noise that escapes Shiro before he bites his lip is a little too similar to a moan. They exchange one heated look before Keith kisses him hard, sucking Shiro’s lip into his mouth and biting down gently, relishing the way Shiro’s hand slides into his hair and rubs at the nape of his neck.

Shiro’s other hand moves down and grabs a handful of Keith’s ass and Keith can’t help his sigh then, lurching forward and steadying himself against Shiro’s chest. Every kiss is full of teeth and tongue and they come together again and again, pulling at each other to get closer. Keith presses Shiro forward until his back hits the wall and kisses his neck, sucking lightly then harder when Shiro moans for it, leaving a mark dark enough to tell everyone Shiro’s off-limits.

“Do you think we’re going a little fast?” Shiro pants.

“No,” Keith says, pushing Shiro’s shirt up and indulgently running his hands over the muscles there. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted you.”

“Keith,” Shiro says, shocked and pleased and Keith smirks.

The smirk is wiped off his face when Shiro gets hold of his thighs and lifts him up, making it plain how hard they both are when the movement rocks them together. Keith clutches at Shiro’s broad shoulders, biting his lip against a moan.

“Not to be too forward,” Shiro says ironically, “but – bedroom?”

“Yes,” Keith says, wrapping his legs tighter around Shiro’s waist. He’s overwhelmed all over again at Shiro’s strength, at the power of his alpha, and it’s a heady feeling to be carried into his bedroom and deposited on the bed roughly enough that he bounces.

Shiro strips his shirt off before joining Keith and Keith fumbles with his own hem, grateful when Shiro pulls it off for him and splays huge hands over the newly exposed skin.

Keith makes a noise of complaint when Shiro pauses, glancing over his shoulder as he says, “Your mom – is she back soon?”

“No,” Keith breathes, thrilled when Shiro’s pupils dilate a little more. “I’m all yours.”

“Damn right,” Shiro says. Keith waits with bated breath to be touched but Shiro leans in and kisses him again, one hand keeping himself balanced and the other moving up to touch Keith’s ears. He just strokes at first, alternating between them, but Keith knows he’s in trouble when Shiro starts rubbing, pinching the skin between his fingers and toying with the fluff surrounding them.

“Shiro,” he chokes out.

“Baby,” Shiro says in response, rolling his hips down and Keith moans, back arching as he tries to lean into both movements. “Feel good?”

Yes,” Keith manages and he feels useless, wanting to do something with his hands other than clutch at Shiro but it feels so good, completely at Shiro’s mercy. When he does reach up, Shiro grabs his hands and pins them above his head and grinds his hips down in one swift movement and they both moan, this time, and it’s the best noise Keith’s ever heard.

He wants to hear it again.

He’s wet already, steadily leaking into his boxers, and says helplessly, “I want your fingers.”

Shiro swears under his breath, backing off enough to undo his fly and then they both struggle out of their jeans, laughing at the awkwardness of it all. Keith stops laughing when Shiro crawls over him again, skin to skin and Shiro’s cock sliding against his own.

Shiro’s big, and Keith didn’t expect anything different but he’s overwhelmed, the thought of taking Shiro’s cock enough to make his mouth water.

“You’re so wet,” Shiro says in awe, one finger rubbing at Keith’s hole, and Keith’s thighs tense involuntarily. He can’t close his legs on reflex, however, because Shiro’s between them, body looming over Keith’s. “Have you got lube?”

“In the drawer,” Keith says.

He feels new levels of anticipation watching Shiro coat his fingers in lube and shift down the bed, hand sliding between Keith’s legs and Keith opens readily for him this time, consciously untensing his muscles. He wants this to be easy, to be good – something this long-awaited is bound to fall short of Keith’s fantasies, but honestly, the fact that they’re here at all has exceeded his expectations.

Shiro doesn't go slow, doesn’t make Keith ask for it: he rubs steadily at Keith’s hole until he can push one finger inside, circular motions making it effortless. Keith bites his lip and forces himself to relax, and in no time at all Shiro’s sliding a second finger in beside the first. The sensation crosses the line from tolerable to pleasurable and Keith moans, intoxicated by the darkening of Shiro’s eyes and the pretty blush spreading over his cheeks and down his neck.

“Feel good?” Shiro asks again and he combines the question with the curling of his fingers, seeking out Keith’s prostate and smirking when he finds it and Keith cries out.

Yes,” he manages, torn between cussing Shiro out and wanting to show him the kind of appreciation that'd put Keith on his knees. He settles for clenching around Shiro’s fingers, producing that gorgeous moan Keith wants to hear for the rest of his life.

Shiro’s third finger burns and when Keith whimpers, he goes slower. Shiro’s fingers are so big, bigger than Keith’s and Keith tries his best to relax, knowing Shiro’s cock will be even bigger and wanting to feel it all. The prep is electrifying enough, but it isn’t Shiro’s fingers that Keith’s been dreaming about all these years.

It feels better after a minute, after Shiro pushes and scissors and curls his fingers experimentally until Keith’s able to tell him, “I’m ready, I can take it,” and Shiro brushes a last exhilarating touch over his prostate.

Keith holds his breath as Shiro surrounds him again, nudging Keith’s legs apart that little bit wider and leaning down to kiss him.

“Condom?” Keith asks and Shiro swears, descending gracefully from the bed and rummaging in his jeans. “How presumptuous of you,” Keith says, biting his lip against a laugh. Shiro’s grin is wide and cheeky and makes Keith’s heart skip a beat.

“Didn’t want to be caught unawares,” he says lightly. When he climbs over Keith again, Keith takes the condom and rolls it on, getting wetter at the thick weight of Shiro’s cock in his hand.

Shiro lines himself up, head catching at Keith’s hole and Keith forces himself to exhale as Shiro pushes inside, slow enough for him to accommodate but fast enough they’re both panting, having to pause when Shiro’s fully seated just to compose themselves.

Keith wraps his legs around Shiro’s waist, dragging his heel idly down Shiro’s back. Shiro shudders and doesn’t move.


“One second.” Shiro’s biting his lip. His cock twitches inside Keith and Keith bites back a moan.

“Come on, alpha,” he goads and something dark pools into Shiro’s eyes at the word, his hips stuttering in a half-thrust that isn’t nearly enough. “Shiro,” Keith starts and Shiro pulls out and thrusts back in in one quick movement that makes Keith cry out, breath shocked from his lungs.

“You trying to rile me up?” Shiro says.

“Absolutely,” Keith says, but he can’t maintain a smirk as Shiro increases his pace, fucking deeper with each thrust, to the hilt every time. “Alpha,” he cries again without a trace of irony, nails curling into Shiro’s shoulders.

“Gonna fill you up,” Shiro says roughly, and he seems uncertain at first but Keith sees him gain confidence, groaning when Keith clenches around him. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes,” Keith gasps, hiccuping on a moan. It’s hard to concentrate with the endless rocking of Shiro’s hips, filling him to the brim again and again and again, and he stammers, “Breed me, alpha, I want you to – “

“Fuck, Keith.” The words are breathless, wrenched from Shiro. It’s the most primal part of him that splays a possessive hand over Keith’s hip and rumbles, “Gonna knot you for hours.”

Shiro won’t knot him, not during their first time and not with a non-heat condom – he’ll pull out before then, but the thought of it makes Keith leak slick around Shiro’s cock, imagining the stretch and burn of it, held down and knotted and owned.

“Please,” Keith begs, the word pulled from him as Shiro thrusts against his prostate and he sees stars, squeezing his eyes shut and crying, “Shiro, I can’t – “

Shiro doesn’t let up, grip tightening on Keith to the point where Keith imagines, hopes it’ll leave marks and he claws at Shiro’s back in return, incapable of more than panting for breath and moaning Shiro’s name, moaning for his alpha.

“You’d look so good heavy with my pups,” Shiro growls, and hearing the words in his voice tips Keith over the edge, stuck on the idea of having an anchor during the mindless pleasure of heat, days on end full of Shiro’s knot, being pinned and bred. He comes so hard it nearly hits his chin and the sight pushes Shiro over too, burying his face in Keith’s neck and nipping the skin there.

Shiro allows them a moment to come back to themselves and then pulls out, and Keith looks down to see his knot, mouth watering at the size of it. He’ll never be wanting during his heats, that’s for sure.

Just the thought makes Keith shudder and Shiro kisses the corner of his mouth, rubbing one hand over Keith’s ears in a soothing gesture that makes goosebumps break out over his skin.

“Back in a second,” he says quietly. Keith listens to his movements: disposing of the condom, bringing a warm cloth from the bathroom and returning to kneel beside him.

Keith reaches for the cloth but Shiro does it himself, gently wiping Keith down and making Keith squirm with self-consciousness; it feels intimate in a way he's never known.

“Thank you,” he says. Shiro rolls onto his back afterwards, one sweaty hand reaching for Keith’s and squeezing.

Their breathing syncs and Keith tries to find words, but it seems an impossible task when their joined hands do the talking for him. It’s Shiro who breaks the silence, moving onto his side so he can look at Keith as he says, “Is that a yes to my courting proposal?”

Keith laughs, loud and surprised, but he can’t bring himself to feel embarrassed when Shiro’s smile is this wide. “Can you tell me,” he asks instead, “why now?”

“I didn’t want to waste another second,” Shiro says promptly. Keith turns to look at him, at his hopelessly romantic alpha, and wishes he could tell his past self that there’s a right time for everything. “I couldn’t lose you,” Shiro adds. Keith holds his hand tighter.

“I guess I’ll give you a chance,” he replies.