The first time it rained after the Paladins came back to Earth, they were still confined to their hospital beds. Lance roused to the sound of pitter patter and, still half asleep, simply smiled before turning onto his other side. He only came to his senses after hearing the chatter of his family members. It then hit him that he was home, and that the war was over, and he jolted into a sitting position, only to regret it immediately after, because, fuck, his head hurt.
But when he turned, and looked at the window to see it covered in water droplets? When he saw the grey clouds outside, and heard the rain hitting the ground? His pain wholly dissipated, and he was filled with a lightness instead.
“You should see the grin on your face right now,” Luis teased. “Man, Lisa never even looked at me like that.” Lance rolled his eyes at him, but otherwise didn’t try to contain or hide his happiness. Seeing the Garrison and reuniting with his family had been one thing, but having it rain was the last event Lance needed to confirm he was really back on Earth.
“We were waiting for you to wake up,” Lance’s mother said warmly, “we knew you’d be excited.”
“Yeah,” Lance nodded, looking back out the window, “I really am.”
He wished he could go out and see it, feel it on his skin, breathe in the fresh air, but the doctor said it’d be at least a couple more days before he could go anywhere. Lance decided he was okay with it, though. Today was just the first rain; there’d be plenty more to come, and he would be here for them all.
Lance had always loved the rain. It comforted him, but he also understood why people hated it. Why it brought down their emotions, and why it was stereotypically used for certain kinds of scenes in movies and tv shows.
They held a memorial service for Adam today, and it poured. They were going to have it on the roof of the Garrison, because apparently Shiro and Adam had spent a lot of time up there when they were younger, but it had been raining since early morning, so they moved it inside.
Shiro hadn’t had an opportunity to properly mourn Adam’s passing when they first got back, being in the middle of a war and all, but the fact that he couldn’t even do it the way he wanted to now made Lance angry. He thought this, as he watched Shiro speak, when he noticed the first tears fall. He looked around them, where it was dim and unwelcoming, and wanted to ask the universe, hadn’t you taken enough from him?
When the ceremony concluded, they went to the cafeteria for the reception. Lance talked with Shiro for a bit, but when more people started to arrive, he took his leave and stood on the outskirts. After a while, he went out into the hallway, sat with his back against the wall, closed his eyes, and listened to the rain.
“They were going to get married.”
“What?” Lance turned his head to find Keith sitting beside him. When he had gotten here, Lance wouldn’t know. The guy moved silently, Lance gave him that. He looked down to see that Keith had placed a plate of food between them, too.
“Shiro and Adam. They were engaged. They had plans for a wedding. And then… Well, you know the rest.” Even though Lance was looking at Keith, the former Red Paladin only gazed in front of them. Lance didn’t know the details about Keith’s upbringing, but he inferred that if Shiro raised him, Adam must’ve been a part of the picture as well. There was no way the news wasn’t hard for him either.
“Oh.” Lance didn’t know what to say. Keith spoke with melancholy, and he looked beautiful. There was no other word to describe it. There were no rough edges; no anger, no frustration; just pure, raw beauty. Lance found himself lost in the sight, only finding his words again after his mouth went dry. “I’m sorry.” It was the only thing Lance could offer, and he was sorry for that too.
Keith finally faced Lance then, giving a small, but tender, smile. It sent Lance’s heart beating fast, and he had no doubt he was blushing. Keith, darn him, noticed, and smirked in response.
“I’m fine. I have to head back, but you take care too, okay? Also, you should try the naan, it’s good.” He gave Lance a pat on the shoulder, and was gone before he could say anything.
Lance stared after him, and then rested his head against the wall again, sighing. A moment later, he picked up the piece of bread Keith recommended. While looking at it, the thought that Keith specifically brought it for him came to mind, making his cheeks heat up. He cursed at himself, but still ate the bread all the same, and by the time he was done, the rain had let up.
Having missed out on being in the rain twice, Lance thought the third time would be the charm. He was wrong. He was confined to a bed, once again, and he was pissed.
It started off as a sore throat. Lance noticed right away and took precautions, drinking plenty of water, staying away from things he thought might worsen it. Then he developed a fever. He could feel himself burning up, his body sweating, but he didn’t realise how bad it was until Hunk took his temperature.
“Dude,” he said, “you gotta go rest, now. I’ll bring a medic so they can check you out.”
Lance groaned. It wasn’t as if he had big plans, but the idea of lying in bed doing nothing wasn’t appealing at all. He considered fighting Hunk on it, which he was punished for with another bout of dizziness, and ultimately conceded it would be for the best. He had started trudging back to his room, when Hunk spoke again.
“I’ll make you some soup too!” Lance turned back around immediately, and beamed at his friend.
Apparently, he had contracted a bacterial infection. He was given antibiotics to treat it, and paracetamol for the fever. He was told to drink plenty of water as well, but other than that, all he could do was wait it out.
It wasn’t that bad at first. Hunk came over with his delicious soup, and they chatted. Or, well, Hunk talked about some new developments with his projects, and Lance listened. After he left, Lance got out his phone to text his family. It wasn’t something he would’ve done a few years ago, the sickness would go away in due time after all, but ever since the whole Voltron thing, and going to space, he’s made sure to check in with his parents on the daily. He didn’t want to potentially put them through something like that again. In fact, they almost didn’t want to move out of the Garrison and into their new home, but after reassuring them again and again, and making countless promises, they could finally relax.
Towards the end of the next day was when things started to go downhill. Lance became restless, because there was nothing for him to do, and he didn’t want to leave the room in fear of spreading the infection. Hunk came over again though, with Pidge this time, and that helped, but it still wasn’t enough. Then it started to rain. And that was the final straw.
Lance decided he was done with the whole situation. He was tired of feeling bored; he was tired of being cooped up in this room; he was tired of how hot his body was feeling. He was tired of this stupid infection, and he wanted out. He got up to his feet, which surprised his friends, and managed to get one foot out the door before Hunk grabbed his arm.
“What are you doing?”
“I want,” Lance grit out, “to see the fucking rain! I want to feel it on my skin!”
“Are you insane?” Pidge looked astounded. “You’re still recovering, that’s going to make things worse!”
“I don’t care! I don’t care if it kills me, I want to go outside!” Lance tried to take a step forwards, but Hunk got a hold of him and manhandled him back to his bed. That didn’t stop him from trying to twist his way out of his grasp, though.
“Whoa, what’s happening? Is he going crazy?” Pidge was whisper-yelling at Hunk, as if Lance wasn’t just there. Although, Lance wasn’t really aware of it, he was too preoccupied with struggling.
“I don’t know,” Hunk grimaced, “god, he’s determined. I’m guessing it’s the fever.”
“I’ve never seen a fever make someone do this. What should we do?”
“Do you wanna…”
“Unless you think we can calm him down, then yeah. You should go get him.”
When Lance noticed Pidge was gone, he paused. Slowly, he turned to face Hunk, and felt, more than heard, him heave a massive sigh. Before he could ask what was going on though, his door opened. And there was Keith. They just stared at each other, Lance in Hunk’s arms, Keith with a hand holding the door frame. For a moment everything froze, and Lance would’ve thought it was comical, and maybe he would’ve even cracked a laugh, were it not for how embarrassed he was. He jumped out of Hunk’s grip, back into his bed, and pulled his covers up over his knees and head. He held this position, until he heard the shuffling of movement, and Keith’s voice bidding Hunk and Pidge farewell. He slowly let his head peak out, and found Keith sitting across from him on a chair.
“Hey. Heard you threw a hissy fit.”
Lance pouted; he was the victim here. “They were trying to keep me from my love.”
“And who would that be?” Keith’s expression was a mixture between curiosity and amusement.
“The rain.” He held up a hand and pressed it against the window for emphasis.
“I’m sure you’ll reunite someday.” There was a hint of a smile playing on Keith’s lips, and Lance was awestruck.
“You’re pretty.” Wow, okay, apparently Lance was losing it. He was just saying anything that came to mind now. What happened? He was perfectly fine before, entirely lucid, and now he was acting like someone waking up from anaesthesia. He never should’ve tried to escape. That way he wouldn’t have made a fool of himself in front of Keith.
“Yeah?” Keith chuckled, head tilting slightly, eyes softening.
“Your mullet isn’t that bad either.” As a matter of fact, in recent times Lance has caught himself on multiple occasions fantasising what it would be like to run his fingers through it.
Keith faked a gasp. “Oh my, what did I just hear? Lance,” he leaned forwards, staring intently into Lance’s eyes, “is this really you?”
Lance giggled. He didn’t know Keith could crack jokes. “You’re funny.”
“Thanks.” Keith sat back, and gave an easy grin.
“Can I tell you a secret?” Lance was overcome with emotions, and in this state, he was ready to let them all out.
“I’m all ears.”
Lance opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly felt incredibly sleepy, eyelids getting heavier as the seconds went by. He couldn’t collect his train of thought. He forced his eyes open, and saw Keith watching him. He then recalled how Keith showed up after his temper tantrum, and that he had been here a while. He made Lance feel warm all over, and it wasn’t because of the fever. His presence was comforting. Like the rain. Lance liked the rain, and… Oh. He remembered now.
“I like you.”
If Keith’s eyes widened, Lance wouldn’t know. He finally let his eyes close, and headed off to dreamland, with the sound of rain as his lullaby. He thought he felt someone brush his bangs aside and place a kiss to his forehead, but he wasn’t sure. He may have already fallen asleep by then. He tried to chase the dream, but it was just out of grasp, and he was too weak to reach any further.
People stared at Lance as he stormed past them, but he didn’t care. He was a man on a mission, and his destination? The Garrison training grounds, where a certain ex-Paladin was currently spending his time.
Lance stewed over this for days; he consulted Hunk about it, he even went to Shiro for his opinion. Lance hadn’t seen Keith since the day he was sick. That was a little over a week ago. He woke up the next day, feeling somewhat better, and then he remembered the conversation that occurred the previous night. He had confessed, then promptly fell asleep, and… Nothing. It was as if nothing happened. Keith didn't show up that day like Lance anticipated, and even after Lance recovered, there was no sign of the guy. Lance would’ve thought he made up the whole thing, but he got Shiro to admit, albeit begrudgingly, that Keith told him about it. So, Lance was going to get some answers, because he’s had enough.
Keith didn’t appear particularly surprised when Lance entered the space. He actually continued with training, barely sparing Lance a second glance, aside from a brief nod of acknowledgement. This annoyed Lance, but he didn’t want to start this in an irritated mood, so he just sat down, and waited for him to finish.
It didn’t take long, and soon Keith was standing in front of Lance. “Hello.”
“Where’ve you been?” Lance flinched. He didn’t mean for it to sound so accusatory.
“Here and there,” Keith shrugged, “I’ve been moving around a lot.”
“Really? Because it feels like you’ve been avoiding me. We don’t even see each other anymore.” And it was true. Even before Lance confessed, it would’ve been considered abnormal to run into Keith more than three times a week. It was a drastic change from seeing him every single day.
“Yeah, I, uh, guess things have been busy lately. And we’re not really working in the same kinds of spaces, so.”
“Bullshit.” Lance’s tone made Keith jerk up. “You and Hunk have lunch together all the time, and I know the shit you’re doing couldn’t be more different. Why are you lying?”
Lance closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. In the silence, he could hear that it had started raining.
“I confessed to you the other day,” Keith froze, “why didn’t you say anything?”
“I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant.”
“What? What part of “I like you” is ambiguous? We’re past the age of the whole ‘like like’ thing, dude.”
“Okay, I wasn’t sure if you meant it.”
“What?” The rain was getting stronger. “Stop talking in circles.”
“You were sick! You had a fever, and you literally blacked out afterwards. How was I supposed to take anything as truth?”
“Fine. That’s fair. I’ll tell you again then. I like you, Keith. Is that clear enough? I like like you.” Lance’s face heated up from saying it, he felt vulnerable after laying himself bare. Last time he had an out, because he was feverish, but now it was really out there in the open. He faced away, not wanting to meet Keith’s eyes, but when all he received was silence, he looked up again. Keith appeared more out of place than he did, as if he was the one who confessed. He wasn’t saying a word, and this made Lance angry.
“Nothing? You have nothing to say to that?”
“What do you want me to say, Lance?” Keith sounded resigned, which only infuriated Lance more.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, ‘I like you too’? Or if you don’t, an ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t feel the same way’ would suffice. Hell, I would even take ‘thanks’.” Lance was getting really worked up over this, his volume rising. Keith remained silent for a moment longer, during which Lance glared at him, before finally opening his mouth.
“I,” Keith paused. “I like you too.”
This honestly shocked Lance. It wasn’t as if he expected a rejection, but with the way Keith was acting, he didn’t think the feelings would be mutual.
“Why do you sound so defeated saying that?” It seemed like Keith wasn’t happy with the fact he liked Lance, and that hurt.
“Because this wouldn’t be a good idea.” Keith’s voice was suddenly small, and it confused Lance.
“Huh? What’s ‘this’?”
“Us. A relationship. Everything.”
“Why not? I like you, you like me, what’s the issue? Do you not want to label it or anything? Because I’m fine with that, but I don’t get why you’re against us being together.”
“It’s just…” Keith shook his head, “We shouldn't.”
Lance was pissed again. He couldn’t believe this. After years of pining, after years of wanting to be with Keith, after finally mustering up the courage to tell him, he got this? The worst thing was that Keith liked him back! He just didn’t understand.
“What are you so afraid of?” Lance enunciated each word, and after he finished, the first crack of thunder came. Lance snorted at the coincidence. He didn’t think it was funny anymore when Keith responded to him.
“I’m afraid that I will lose you! I’m afraid that you will leave me!” Keith’s voice cracked, and he choked back a sob.
“You won’t! I won’t!” Lance shouted back, it was getting hard to hear over the rain.
“You don’t know that! You can’t promise that!”
Perhaps most painful was the fact that Keith sounded like he’d thought about all of this before. He thought about it, and came to this conclusion. That it wouldn’t even be worth a try.
“That doesn’t mean you don’t get to give me a chance; give us a chance! Keith, you can’t run from every single thing in your life! I want this! And I know you want this too!”
For a moment they both just stared at each other, out of breath, chests heaving. And then suddenly Lance had a mouth full of Keith. He toppled over, back hitting the ground, but he didn’t feel it, because all he could think about was Keith, and how Keith had kissed him, and how that led to them making out on the floor of the Garrison training room.
Lance roped a hand behind Keith’s neck, tangled his fingers through Keith’s mullet, finally, and pulled him closer. Eventually, the heat from their argument evaporated, and their kisses became more relaxed; they were slower, more intimate, and when they broke apart, they were breathless again. Lance let his head fall back against the ground, and laid an arm across his face, suddenly feeling shy. He couldn’t believe that just happened. He bit his lip to keep from grinning.
Lance opened his eyes, and saw that Keith had already stood up, holding a hand out for him to take. He latched onto it, but tugged Keith down instead, so he was against the ground and Lance could straddle his waist.
“Don’t give up on us so early. I know you’re scared, but we can work through it together. We’re a team, you know?” Lance pleaded, threading their fingers together. Although Keith acted, he still hadn’t said anything yet, and after that… it would shatter Lance if he said no.
“Okay.” It was barely more than a whisper, but Lance heard it loud and clear, even over all the rain. He brushed aside Keith’s hair and let his hand linger on his cheek. When Keith leaned into it, he thought his heart might burst. It was so full. Keith beckoned for him to come closer, so he leaned down, and Keith said into his ear, “But only if you admit you remember the bonding moment.”
Lance pulled back to stare at Keith. They maintained eye contact for a moment, then Lance burst into laughter. Keith smiled too, squeezing his hand.
“Is that all it would’ve taken?” Lance joked. “Man, I would’ve never pretended it didn’t happen then.” He lowered his face so it was directly above Keith’s, and pecked his lips. “Here is an official admission that I, Lance, do in fact remember the bonding moment.”
“Well then,” Keith pulled Lance down, “I guess it’s final.”
They ended up just making out again, falling into a comfortable pace, learning the ridges and curves of each other’s mouths. They had no intention of stopping, but paused when a flash of lightning caused the lights to go out. They didn’t want to be there when someone came to check it out, so they escaped to Keith’s room. When Shiro walked in the next day and found them together, he backed out incredibly slowly, and Keith poked fun at Lance’s mortified expression for the rest of the morning, and for days afterwards.
The only time Lance didn’t exactly like the rain, was when hail fell with it. Keith thought this was hilarious. He asked what difference it made, and laughed when Lance snarled that it was evil.
“You did not do that!” Keith exclaimed after Lance explained why.
“Totally did. I thought it was snow, so I ran outside all excited, and was pelted by pieces of ice.”
“I still don’t think that’s enough reason to despise it. It’s not as if the same pieces could come attack you again.”
“See! You said ‘attack’! Even if you don’t think I should hate it, you acknowledged the fact that they were on the offensive. Besides, it hurt.” Lance pouted at the memory.
“Aw,” Keith cooed mockingly, “too bad I wasn’t there to kiss your boo-boos better.”
“Well, you could make up for that now,” Lance shrugged casually, more focused on the screen in front of him. His character went around the bend, and crossed the finish line, leaving Keith’s in the dust. He jumped up and whooped. As good as Keith was at piloting, he sucked with a game controller, and Lance enjoyed obliterating him. He abruptly stopped his celebration when he caught sight of his boyfriend, though. Keith was frozen; he looked deep in thought.
“You alright?” Lance’s voice was laced with concern.
“You can’t just say shit like that!” Keith suddenly turned to him, spluttering.
“Huh? You mean that quip about you making up for it? I wasn’t being serious, you know.” He honestly meant nothing by it. Keith furrowed his eyebrows, and mumbled something Lance couldn’t hear. He asked him to repeat it.
“I said,” Keith spoke through clenched teeth, “maybe I want to.”
Lance stared at Keith, then tackled him against the bed. He planted a loud kiss against his cheek. “You don’t have to be so bashful about it. I’m all yours.” That made Keith shy away from Lance; he covered his face with his hands, but Lance pried them away. “Come on, you were so confident around me before! Where did that go?”
“It’s different because I know you like me back now,” Keith whined, although he sat up to kiss Lance anyways. “By the way, I’m not counting that last win of yours. You distracted me. Probably on purpose.”
It was Lance’s turn to complain. “No way! You gotta know how to tune them out, my man. Also, I doubt you would’ve beaten me if we continued.”
“Yeah,” Keith pulled Lance against his chest and rested his chin on his shoulder, “you’re probably right. But really? You wouldn’t have just let me win on purpose even once?”
“Nah,” Lance held onto Keith’s hands, and wrapped them tighter around his own waist, “you’re not going to take the crown from me that easily.”
For the rest of the afternoon, they didn’t really do much. Lance believed Keith may have fallen asleep at some point. He was looking out the window, where the hail and rain had stopped. Everything was covered in white, and it really did seem fresh snow. It made him think of winter, and he found himself looking forward to it, to the fun he could have with Keith.
Lance carefully twisted around so he could see Keith, who was in fact sleeping. He looked tranquil; at peace; relaxed. Lance was glad he had the opportunity to see him like this. After all the hardships he’d been through, he deserved it. And Lance lied, earlier. He reckoned he would give Keith anything, if he asked.
When Lance finally, finally, gets to be in the rain, he drags Keith out with him too. It’s the one day they’re both free, which means it already started out great, but it only gets better when Lance sees water droplets on the window as they pass by. He grasps Keith’s hand and starts running immediately, through the corridors and out the nearest exit.
The rain hits Lance, and he laughs. He tilts his head up towards the sky, spreads his arms out wide, and twirls around himself. He breathes in the fresh air, and lets the rain wet his skin. He just stands there for a while, with his eyes closed, savouring the moment. He’s missed this. He’s really, really missed this. It feels like an eternity ago, going up to space. He had been so young then, so clueless. And now he’s lived through a war, helped end it. He’s feeling the rain as a completely different person, but it still has the exact same effect on him. He lets out a huge sigh, and opens his eyes again.
He finds that Keith is looking at him with an adoring expression; he has his arms crossed, but Lance thinks that’s just his default pose, and is smiling. He doesn’t really seem bothered by the rain, although it plasters his hair to his face, however he doesn't appear to be thrilled to be in it either. Lance realises he’s happy because Lance is happy, and this makes his heart swell.
Lance takes deliberate steps towards his boyfriend, until they’re just barely touching. Keith looks at him with curiosity. He then cups Keith’s face, and leans in. Keith responds wholeheartedly to the kiss, letting his arms trail to Lance’s waist. It’s incredibly soft, and all of Lance’s fantasies about being kissed in the rain are met in this one moment. Lance’s clothes are wet after being continually rained on, and they’re feeling a bit cold because the rain has started falling harder. He doesn’t feel cold, though. The heat from Keith’s mouth spreads throughout his entire being, warming him from head to toe. He would be content with staying like this forever.
Unfortunately for him, though, the weather takes a turn for the worst, and it starts pouring. He breaks their kiss, and almost regrets it when Keith chases the movement, but he thinks Keith will thank him later when he doesn’t get a fever. Lance, for one, doesn’t want to catch a cold. So, he takes Keith’s hand, and leads them back inside.
They sprint through the hallways, dripping water everywhere they step, and they can see the dirty looks others are giving them, but they don’t stop. It actually makes them laugh. They feel like children wreaking havoc; they’re catching up on an experience they never got to have.
They end up in Lance’s room, because it’s the closest, and take some time to catch their breath. After they recover, they look at each other once, and burst out laughing again.
“Come on,” Lance says between laughs, “let’s head to the showers.”
“Well, well, well!” Keith replies with a playful tone. “I see what this is. This was a ploy, wasn’t it! You just wanted to get me naked!” He winks, and Lance throws his towel at him in retaliation. Keith, of course, catches it without issue, then sticks his tongue out at him.
“You piece of…” Lance lunges at Keith, but he dodges and zooms out the door. “Get back here!” Lance chases after him, but Keith has always been faster than him, so he’s already distances ahead. He won’t be able to catch up, but he shouts something that he knows will stop him. “I’ll tell everyone what happened the first time you came to the Garrison!” And surely enough, Keith stops dead in his tracks. He turns around quickly and stomps towards Lance.
“You swore you wouldn’t!” he yells before he reaches Lance.
When Keith is close enough to touch, Lance loops an arm around his waist, and rests the side of his head against his shoulder. It’s somewhat uncomfortable, their clothes are still wet, but he doesn’t mind. They continue walking to the showers together.
“I wouldn’t. But it still stopped you, didn’t it?” Lance smirks, and Keith can only glare at him. The scowl is gone as quickly as it came though, replaced with a wide grin Lance will never get tired of seeing.
The two of them end up in trouble, later. They’re scolded for displaying “reckless behaviour” which does not “reflect the Galaxy Garrison’s values”. They aren’t punished for it, but when they start snickering, they’re promptly suspended from all activities for two weeks. They try to remain solemn, apologising for their actions before taking leave. They try not to let it show that this is the best thing to happen to them. Seriously, two weeks? They’re going to be sick of each other by the end of it. Except, that’s really not true at all.
Because while the rain is Lance’s great big love, Keith is his one true love.