Alcohol. I needed alcohol. I didn’t care how cheap and nasty. I just needed it now. And the bar down the street was calling my name.
Work at the record shop had done my head in. People had been testing my patience all day, and then the computers went and crashed, and the delivery we were expecting got pushed back until Monday, so I had to deal with ringing pissy customers.
I checked myself in the mirror. I wore my staple black fingerless biker gloves, and a loose black crop top, which showed off my abs if I moved just right. And I KNEW how to move just right. Tight black ratty jeans, paired with heeled Dr Martens emphasized my toned legs and made them look so much longer. I grinned as I leant in to check my eyeliner. I straightened my septum piercing, and put my hair up in a loose bun. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.
I checked my pockets: keys, wallet, phone. I was set to go.
I sent a quick text to my brother Shiro - ‘Can’t wait. Heading to Blade. Meet u there’ - and walked out the door.
I fidgeted with the keys in my pocket as I walked. My body was buzzing with this energy that I never knew how to describe. I was in a mood. I wanted to move. I needed to move. But I also knew if I didn’t tread carefully, this mood could come crashing down around me.
The Blade was my second home. I didn’t drink often, but I was a regular at the bar. It had good energy and friendly staff, and I would go down just to get out of the house.
As I walked in, my ears were filled with a familiar twang that echoed from the speakers. I looked over and saw my friend Acxa belting out “Friends in Low Places” while the rest of the crowd practically ignored her.
‘Dammit!’ I cursed to myself, ‘I didn’t even think! Of course, it’s the second Saturday of the month!’
And the second Saturday of the month meant karaoke.
Normally, karaoke wasn’t that bad. Most of the regulars sang alright, and, apart from Acxa’s obsession with this song, most of the song choices were a little more upbeat, and the DJ usually put on a good mix between songs.
But I was in a mood. And karaoke night usually meant… I scanned the room… and, yep, there he was. Sitting with his group of friends in a booth on the other side of the bar was the most obnoxious, annoying, irritating man I had ever met.
They were regulars, we were regulars. We had talked a few times, and shared a drink or two, but his personality tended to grate on me, so I avoided all of them.
I contemplated leaving. But I was already here, there was alcohol, and the closest bar was another 20-minute walk away, and that was cutting into good drinking time if you asked me. Plus, Shiro and Allura would be here soon, hopefully, and I’d soon have so much alcohol in my system, I wouldn’t even mind.
I shot Shiro another quick text - ‘Karaoke night. Pls Hurry.’
I rolled my eyes, and walked over to the bar, as Mr Obnoxious let out a booming laugh, loud enough to drown out the closing line of Acxa’s favourite song.
“Two shots of tequila for me, please Coran, and one for Acxa,” I asked, sliding into my regular stool.
“Coming right up!” Coran replied, shooting me a smile, and getting three shot glasses from under the bar.
My phone pinged, so I pulled it out of my pocket to check it.
It was Shiro - ‘Ur boyfriend there?’
I shot back - ‘Fuck you’
Shiro - ‘About to leave A’s, b there soon’
Shiro had driven Allura home after work, so she could get changed, and they could have a few drinks before walking to the bar.
Shiro and Allura worked together at Shiro’s salon. Allura had been with him from the start. They had met at school, and she was his star colourist. Clients trusted her, and she had a bubbly personality and gave great head massages, so everybody loved her.
Shiro was a master of the cut. He could barely grow a hair on his face, the best he could manage was a light stubble, but he was well known in the area as a beardologist. He blended and sold his own oils, and was an expert at shaping beards, and cutting intricate designs into shaved hair.
Coran placed the shots in front of me, and I slid some money across the bar.
“A Canadian Club, two vodka raspberries, and a glass of coke, please!” A voice came from next to me. I didn’t even have to look up, the shiver that went down my spine was enough to know who it was.
“What are you drinking, Keefers?” the man asked. For some stupid reason, Shiro and Allura had decided it would be funny to tell him my name. But the idiot would never actually call me by it. It was always ‘Keef’, ‘Keefers’, or his seemingly favourite ‘Beefy Keefy’.
“Tequila, Lance. It’s probably a little too grown up for you. I assume the vodka raspberry was your order?” I turned to look at him. He was standing there in blue jeans, a firm fitting white t-shirt, and an olive green jacket. My eyes hovered over his stomach, before making their way up to his face.
“Ooof, that stung, K-baby!” he said, with a wink. That was a new name. It did something funny to my chest. “Tell you what? How about you give me one of your shots, and we’ll see if I’m man enough?” he raised his eyebrow as he slid me the glass.
“Fine,” I replied, sliding him a tequila, and picking up mine, “You ready?”
“Okay. One, Two,” and he slammed the tequila back.
“Yummy,” he said licking up the liquid he had dripped out the side of his mouth. “Looks like I CAN handle my tequila like a big boy,” he laughed.
I stared at him blinking. Probably for a little too long.
He turned back to the bar and picked up the tray of drinks he had ordered. “Thanks, Coran,” he smiled and walked away. I signal to Coran for another shot so I could have one with Acxa.
“We currently have no requests in, so we’re gonna pump up the jams for a while!” Romelle, one of the staff, said over the microphone from the DJ booth, “A reminder that there are songbooks in each booth, a couple on the bar, and I’ve got some spare up here with me, just come up and make a request! Let’s take it back with a little old school on this Saturday night, and get Fresh with the Prince, and a little DJ Jazzy Jeff!”
As ‘Boom, Shake the Room!’ starts to play, Acxa walked up beside me. She had purple shoulder length hair and was wearing shorts, lace-up boots, and a black oversized Jareth t-shirt, just long enough to be a dress.
“Starting without me, samurai?” she accused.
“Like you haven’t already started!” I said, giving her a questioning look.
“Touche,” she laughed, and picked up her glass, “Cheers, fucker!” she said, as we clinked our glasses, and threw them back. “We being losers at the bar tonight, or am I actually getting you on the floor?”
“I need to move!” I said through my teeth.
“Great! More shots, please Coran, and then we might slow it down a bit by ruining some perfectly good whiskey with some cola!” she laughed, “Can’t have you too smashed too soon!”
“Make mine a gin and grapefruit, please Coran.” Acxa rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“I’ve been meaning to ask,” I said, as Coran poured our drinks, “What’s with that song?”
“Come on, Texas, we both grew up on Garth Brooks?” she laughed, “You can’t tell me you don’t get the urge to belt him out now and then? Plus it really annoys everybody!”
“Maybe?” I hissed, “But ixnay on the exastay!”
“HA!” she laughed, “That’s it, I’m getting you up next month!”
“Over my dead body!” I replied.
“That can be arranged!” she said, picking up the shots Coran slid to us, wiggling her eyebrows as she handed me mine.
We downed our shots and picked up our other drinks. She took my free hand and dragged me out onto the dancefloor.
I was still trying to get Keith out of my head as I placed the tray on the table and began handing the drinks out.
“Coke for my main man, and Vodka raspberry for the Gremlins,” I said, placing each of their drinks in front of them.
“Thanks, Lance,” Pidge said, before turning back to Matt, “So remember, he thinks he’s all that. He’ll try these pathetic moves, he’ll try all the lines, he’ll most likely get up there and sing that stupid song,” she says, rolling her eyes, and sharing a look with Hunk, “So be aware, if he chooses to go after you, don’t fall for his stupid lines!”
“That’s cute of you to be warning your big brother,” Matt laughed, “but I’m pretty sure I can look after myself.”
“Many strong men have fallen before you!” Hunk warned.
“Hey, Shiro’s not that bad,” I argued, “He’s never come after me or Hunk!”
“Hunk is very clearly taken, he brings Shay around all the time” Pidge countered, “and you are basically claimed territory.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking ‘bout,” I raised an eyebrow at her questioningly, “I haven’t even come close to hooking up with anyone in months.”
“Exactly, buddy, you’re gone,” Hunk laughed, “So, yeah, don’t touch Keith either,” Hunk said, turning back to Matt, “Not that you’d have any chance. He may be small, but he is terrifying!”
“Wow, you guys really don’t have faith in me at all do you?” he replied, “Who says I can’t get this Shiro guy hooked with MY lines?”
We all burst out laughing, as Hunk slid out of the booth.
“I’m going to go make my request, anybody want me to do theirs while I’m up?” he asked. We all shook our heads. “Okay, I’ll be back in a few.”
Pidge and I went back to teasing Matt as Hunk walked away.
Acxa and I stayed on the floor and Romelle played a few more songs before she got on the mic again.
“We have our second request for the night! Regulars will recognise the angel behind this voice, newcomers, prepare for magic! His voice is like sweet, smooth, honey, just like him, let’s give it up for Hunk!”
The muscular Samoan that always sat with Lance had made his way to the front, and I could see the blush on his dark skin. He looked like a bundle of nerves as he walked on to the stage, and gave a small “Thanks ‘Melle.”
But then he stepped up to the mic, and that first note played, and you could see the change come over him. He became strong and powerful, and it was clear he was made for the stage.
“Regrets collect like old friends,
Here to relive your darkest moments,
I can see no way, I can see no way...”
Man, if anyone could pull off Florence + The Machine, it was this guy. The notes flowed effortlessly of his tongue, the crowd was lost in his amazing voice, and everyone was on their feet to sing the chorus with him.
He didn’t move much at all, but the raw emotion that rolled off him as he stood there in his cargo pants, and baggy yellow shirt, his performance building with every verse, had everyone entranced.
“Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well, what the hell, I'm gonna let it happen to me, yeah...”
The crowd held their collective breath as he hit that long note and then went wild singing the chorus for him.
“Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa”
The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he stepped away from the mic, and become a bundle of nerves again. They were still clapping as he walked off the stage, and returned to his seat, while Romelle began playing another song.
Acxa and I returned to the bar, to order another round, as Shiro and Allura walked in.
“Hey, losers,” Shiro greeted. He had the top half of his hair braided back, and was wearing a leather jacket over a loose grey tank top, and black pants.
“Good to see you out, ‘Lura,” I said turning to hug her. “How you doing?”
She had her pastel pink hair braided back into two buns, wearing a high waisted black skirt, a lacey black bralette, and a cropped denim jacket.
“Better,” she replied, “It’s good to be out! I’ve already let that ass take up too much of my time,” she pouted.
“Good! You could do so much better than…”
She cut me off, pointing a finger at me, “That named is banned!” she then smiled, “I don’t want to talk about him. I’m here to have fun, and get very, VERY drunk!”
I chuckled at her. It was clear she had already been drinking.
We all gave a loud shout in celebration as Coran handed us our shots.
“Who’s that over there with Lance?” Shiro asked, looking over my shoulder to scan the room as the girls chatted next to us.
“I don’t know,” I said, not looking over, “Hank and Bridgette, or something. You know their names better than me.”
“Hunk and Pidge,” he said, shaking his head, “It’s not that hard to remember. But, look, there’s someone else.”
I looked over and see there was, in fact, someone else sitting with Lance and his friends.
“I don’t think I’ve drunk that much, but there’s two Pidge’s over there,” I said turning back to Shiro.
“Hmmm, no offence to Pidge, but he’s much hotter,” Shiro said, not taking his eyes off the man in Lance’s booth.
“They’re the same person,” I argued.
“He’s got longer and lighter hair, and his face is different,” He replied, “and you can’t tell me you can’t see he works out.”
“No, I’m not staring at him like he’s something you can devour.”
“Nope,” he said, lightly punching me, “That would be you staring at Lance.”
“Shut the fuck up. Lance is a pretentious asshole.”
“Doesn’t mean you don’t think he’s hot,” Shiro shrugged, “and you don’t even know him. Most of that,” he said gesturing over to the booth, “is an act. Lance is actually a really nice guy.”
“Yeah, whatever,” I brushed him off. I couldn’t argue. I had thought Lance was attractive from the moment I first saw him. Then he opened his mouth. Every time I thought he might actually be a decent guy, he’d say something that would prove otherwise.
“Wingman for me?” Shiro asked.
“You don’t even know if he likes guys,” I replied.
“I will soon enough,” he smirked.
“You’re going to peacock, aren’t you?”
“Oh, I’m definitely going to peacock!” he laughed and stood up.
He gestured over to Romy and gained her attention. She nodded, and he made his way to the stage as the current song finished. We all followed him out onto the dance floor.
“Okay, you heathens!” Romy called over the mic. “The night is about to kick off, we’ve got the requests coming in, and you guys are in for a treat!” she paused to let the crowd cheer, “But first, I want everybody up off their seats, coz Shiro’s got a point to prove!”
The song begun, and the regulars gave a shout. They knew it was Shiro’s go-to request and those that weren’t already up jumped to their feet as the lyrics started.
“Stop making the eyes at me,
I’ll stop making the eyes at you,
And what it is that surprises me,
Is that I don’t really want you to…”
Shiro owned the stage and the crowd. They went crazy, bodies moved, heads banged, and the regulars sung out the backing vocals.
I didn’t know what he actually needed us for, because he had this down to an art, as he looked up and locked eyes with the new guy right as the chorus started.
“I bet that you look good on the dance floor,
I don’t know if you’re looking for romance or,
I don’t know what you’re looking for,
I said I bet that you look good on the dancefloor,
Dancing to electro-pop like a robot from 1984,
The new guy gave Shiro a smirk and dragged Lance, Pidge and Hunk to dance closer to the stage.
Allura, Acxa and I continued to dance, bodies pressed together, and I closed my eyes as we lost ourselves to the music, bodies jumping, hips moving, heads swaying, shoulders rolling, my hands occasionally pushing my hair out of my face.
“Don’t look now,” Acxa whispered in my ear, “but you’ve got an audience.”
“What?” My eyes shot open, and I turned, just in time to see Lance quickly looking away. “What is his problem?” I asked, and Allura and Acxa just giggled.
“Ugh!” I let out in frustration, “I’m going to go get Shiro’s flirt shots,” I snapped, and stormed off. I could still hear the girls, now full on cackling, as I walked away.
Okay. So MAYBE they were right. MAYBE I was gone. But only slightly.
But seeing him dance, pushing his bangs out of his eyes, in that loose black crop top, with the hint of his stomach showing. And those tight black pants. And yes, those Dr Martens had fucking heels, which made his legs… and his ass…
But never mind that. Because his beautiful gloved hand had accidentally lifted the bottom of his shirt. And. I. Wanted. To. Touch.
Gone. Definitely gone.
I didn’t know how long I had stared, but I realised his friend's eyes were on me. Busted. She leant in to whisper in his ear, and I quickly turned away to hide my blush, and found myself chest to face with Satan herself.
“Whatcha looking at Lancey?” Pidge asked, with an evil grin on her face, “You look a little flustered there?” And with that, Hunk turned around and chuckled.
“You okay there, buddy?” he asked.
“I’m FINE!” I snapped, and stomped back to the table, as the others laughed behind me.
I met Shiro as he was coming down off the stage, carrying a tray with 8 shot glasses on it. He took it from me, and lead the way over to the new guy's booth. I followed begrudgingly.
“I’m Shiro,” he said with a big grin, handing him a shot, “And this is Keith, Allura, and Acxa.”
“Nice to meet you, Shiro,” he replied, with a look of indifference on his face. “I’m Matt, this is my sister, Pidge, and her friends, Hunk and Lance. But you probably already know that.”
Shiro handed out the rest of the shots, his smile dropping, while Pidge giggled.
“This is your last shot, you devil!” Lance scolded her, and she just giggled more.
“So, um…” Hunk said, trying to ease the situation, “to new friends?” he said.
“To new friends!” we all said loudly before throwing back our shots.
“Pidge and I are going to dance,” he said, “but you guys can sit here for a while if you want, you know… be friendly…” he said, giving Lance a look.
Hunk and Pidge slid out, and Shiro slid in next to Matt. Allura slid in next to Lance, and I sat next to her, perching myself on the very edge of the seat, ready to make a quick getaway.
“My shout!” Acxa said, “what’s everyone drinking?”
“Coke,” Matt and Lance both answered.
“Tequila sunrise!” Allura said, giving her a wink.
“A Canadian please Acxa,” Shiro replied.
“The usual,” I said, “do you need a hand?”
“No, all good, I’ll manage,” she said and walked off to the bar.
Allura engaged in conversation with Lance, and Shiro tried to talk to Matt, but he was practically ignored.
“So YOU’RE Keith?” Matt asked, reaching across the table, to poke me in the arm.
“Ah, yeah?” I answered, not sure of the intention behind his words.
“Interesting,” he chuckled and leaned back into the booth, turning to Shiro. “I want to dance, want to come with me…” he ran his hand down Shiro’s bicep, “sorry, I’ve forgotten…”
“Ah, Shiro!” he said, perking up, “Sure, let's go!” he slid out, and reached back for Matt’s hand, but Matt refused, sliding out by himself, and pushing past. Shiro followed him willingly.
“That son of a -!” Lance said loudly from behind Allura.
We both turned to look at him.
“That bastard is beating Shiro at his own game!” he explained, “He’s ignoring all his moves, and he’s got Shiro chasing like a puppy!”
We turned to watch the two on the dance floor. It looked like Matt had lost himself in the music, and Shiro seemed to be doing anything to make Matt look at him.
“Oh, this is going to be fun!” Allura giggled.
We chatted for a bit while continuing to watch Matt and Shiro, until Acxa came back with the drinks and sat down across from us.
“What are you guys so enthralled by?” she asked.
“Shiro making an idiot of himself,” Allura replied.
“It’s quite pathetic,” I said.
“Oh,” she said, turning to watch him as well, “You want to go join them?” she asked.
“I think I’ll stay here, you know, mind the drinks,” Lance replied, but you guys go ahead.
“You sure?” Allura asked.
“Yeah, sure,” he replied, playing with a coaster.
“Okay, cool, because I want to dance with your funny little friend!” she giggled.
“Go for it, but be warned, she bites!”
“Oh! Good!” Allura replied, and pushed me out of the booth. Acxa shrugged and followed her out to the dancefloor. I looked back at Lance, spinning the coaster between his fingers, and decided to sit down again, sliding into the booth opposite him.”
“You good, man?” I asked.
“Yeah man, just wish I had the guts to go after people the way Shiro or Matt, or that other friend of yours, does. Or just didn’t give a fuck, like Pidge does.”
“I’m sure you could have your pick of anyone here,” I said gesturing around the room.
“Ha!” he replied, “I annoy the fuck out of everyone I try to talk to. I annoy the fuck out of you. Matt tolerates me. I don’t know how Pidge and Hunk put up with me,” he said, not looking up.
“You’re not annoying the fuck out of me now,” I shrugged, “I’m actually enjoying chatting to you.”
“Really, Keith?” He asked, peeking up from under his long eyelashes. The way he said my name, so soft and vulnerable, and those deep blue eyes, made me forget how to speak for a moment.
“Yeah,” I replied. “When you stop being a tool, and trying so hard, you’re actually a decent guy to talk to.”
“Thanks, I think,” he said with a bit of a growl.
“Look, I’m sorry,” I said, letting my guard down, and letting a bit of a drawl slip out, “I know how hard it is, putting yourself out there, but y’all just really need to turn it down, just a little.”
“Y’all?” Lance laughed, mocking my accent, “Y’all?”
“Yes, y’all!” I growled back. As few people as possible knew where I came from, and I hated to let it slip out.
“Hey, hey, calm down!” he laughed, “I think it’s hot!”
“And NOW you’re being a dick again!” I said, standing up.
“No, I’m sorry!” he said, looking down at the coaster again.
“It’s fine,” I sighed, “Just… don’t mention it… ever again…”
“But…” he started.
“Ever!” I growled, “Now, I’m going to dance. Stop sulking and come with me.”
He sighed, sculled the rest of his drink, and followed me out to the dancefloor.
Just then, Romelle stepped out of the booth, and up to the mic.
“And now, the moment I know you’ve ALL been waiting for! Put your hands together as our very own Coran, Coran, The Gorgeous Man joins me on stage!”
Coran ran past then and grabbed Acxa. She looked back and gave me a confused look as she let herself be dragged away.
He positioned her on the stage next to Romelle, and she stood there, with her hands in front of her, indicating to the crowd that she didn’t know what the hell she was doing there.
The music started, and Acxa picked up the beat straight away, quickly joining Romelle in moving like a go-go dancer.
Coran took the mic off the stand and began to dance around the stage, working the crowd before he started singing.
“If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says fifteen miles to the…”
The whole crowd yelled “Loooooooove Shaaaaaack,”
Romelle and Acxa joined in with the female vocals.
“Love Shack, yeah
I'm headed down the Atlanta highway...”
Lookin’ for the love getaway,
Headed for the love getaway...”
The song went on, and the whole crowd got into it.
Coran really knew how to work the room. He jumped down into the crowd, and shimmied and danced with some of the patrons, getting them to join in singing with him.
Towards the end of the song, Romelle and Acxa began having some kind of silent argument.
While they were singing, “Bang, bang, bang on the door baby!” they were also playing a round of rock, paper, scissors, which Acxa won. Romelle signaled that she wanted best of three. Acxa won again, and looked pleased with herself, while Romelle pouted through her singing.
As Coran yelled out “YOU’RE WHAT?!?!”
Acxa put her hands around a mouth, creating a cone, and yelled out “TIN ROOF! RUSTED!”
She looked so pleased with herself, and Romelle couldn’t help but shake her head and laugh along with the rest of the crowd.
The whole crowd finished the song with them, and both Romelle and Acxa hollered at the end of the song.
“Okay, I’m having a quick drink break,” Romelle said into the mic, “So imma hit you with some of my personal favourites for the next 10 minutes or so!” she walked over to the booth, and hit a button, and ‘I don’t feel like dancing’ by the Scissor Sisters started to play.
Acxa, Romelle and Coran ran off the stage, high-fiving everyone, until they got to our group.
“Don’t tell anyone, but this round’s on me!” Coran whispered loudly.
We all laughed, and followed him up to the bar. He started pouring our usuals without even asking.
“Just coke for me though, Coran,” Lance said.
“Righto, coming up!”
He finished handing out the drinks, and poured himself a Scotch.
“Bottoms up!” he said, and we all took a drink.
We were all standing around, having a chat and a laugh with Romelle and Coran, when we heard the door open.
“Oh HELL to the no!” Allura said loudly, and we all turned to see who had come through the door.
Lotor walked in like he owned the place, when in reality he had only been there twice. He wore suit pants, a crisp white shirt, with the top few buttons left undone, and dark sunglasses, like the self-absorbed egotist he was.
He walked up to the bar, positioning himself between Shiro and Allura, cutting her off from the rest of us, and cleared his throat to gain Coran’s attention.
I could feel Lance, Hunk, Matt and Pidge back away and move to the other end of the bar.
Coran sensed the tension between the five of us, and gave Shiro a concerned look before turning to Lotor.
“What can I get you, sir?”
“Whiskey, on the rocks,” he replied, “and a tequila sunrise for the lady,”
“I don’t need your drinks, Lotor,” Allura said, stiffly.
“You will take it,” he demanded.
“She won’t be taking anything from you ever again,” Shiro said, stepping around Lotor to stand next to her.
“She belongs to me,” Lotor growled, “and she will realise it soon enough. I hope for her sake it’s not too late.”
“I belong to no one!” she snapped at him, “It took me way too long to realise! I used to think I couldn’t live without you, that I wasn’t worthy, and nobody else would love me. But I realise now that you were only bad news. You controlled me, you kept me on a leash. But now I’m free, and I’ve never felt better!”
“You’ll be back,” he smirked, “You’ll miss that leash. Bitches like you always do.”
I squared up and turned to face Lotor.
“It’s okay, K,” Allura said, walking around Lotor, and starting to drag me away, “I think I know a way I might get my message across.”
Lotor laughed as we walked away. “Looks like you all need leashes, I’d be happy to oblige, pretty boy!”
Shiro grabbed my other arm, and Hunk, Lance and Matt stepped up to help.
They dragged me away as I glared Lotor down, daggers coming from my eyes.
Shiro, Matt, Hunk and I made our way back to the booth, sitting so we faced the stage.
Romelle, Keith and Acxa had stormed up there with Allura. They had taken Pidge up there too, and she was standing there looking awkward.
The music started, and everyone on the stage, including Romelle, started singing.
“Payback is a bad bitch, and baby, I’m the baddest!”
Then Allura stepped up and took control of the mic, and the way she was looking at the back of the room, I wouldn’t want to be on the end of that stare.
“Now I’m out here looking like revenge,
Feeling like a 10, the best I ever been,
And yeah, I know, how bad it must hurt,
To see me like this, but it gets worse…”
Everyone else was moving slightly behind her and giving her back up vocals. The second part of the first verse started, and that’s when I lost myself in Keith’s hips, because, although it was just a small movement, the way he rolled them and then popped them perfectly to the beat had me entranced.
They all started clapping as Allura sung the bridge.
“Now payback is a bad bitch, and baby I’m the baddest,
You’re fucking with a savage…”
And then they all yelled to the back of the room,
“Can’t have this! Can’t have this!”
I turned around to look at Lotor. It was hard to tell, because he was wearing sunglasses, but he didn’t look pleased.
As the song continued, Acxa, Pidge and Keith started dancing more behind Allura. Pidge kind of did this awkward bounce, which was actually pretty endearing, but Acxa and Keith really got into it, and it was clear they had had some dancing experience, as they moved their entire bodies to the beat. Looking at the two of them, you would have sworn they had been Allura’s backup dancers before.
All of a sudden, from the back of the room, came a loud shout insulting Allura, and Lotor clearly hadn’t needed a microphone to be heard.
Keith stopped dancing, and his face went hard. He jumped down from the stage, and made his way to the back of the room.
“Excuse me,” Shiro said in a stern voice, as he got up from beside Matt.
Hunk hadn’t been joking when he said Keith was tiny but terrifying. I watched as he stood on his tiptoes to square up with a guy that was clearly at least a foot taller than him.
Lotor was already backing towards the door by the time Shiro and another couple of guys got to them.
I didn’t hear what was said, but all of a sudden Keith had flown at Lotor, and Shiro had grabbed his arm to hold him back. Coran got between them, and pushed Lotor out the door.
I turned back to the stage, Allura was as fierce as all get out, staring down that door, singing her lungs out, as Pidge and Acxa danced behind her.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I need another drink!” Matt said, and I could see a flush to his face, he was clearly flustered by Shiro’s recent demonstration. “Anyone else? No? Okay!” he said, getting up and quickly walking away before anyone could answer.
We watched as he quickly made his way to the bar, not looking at anyone, and almost colliding with Keith and Shiro.
He quickly jumped to the side, as Shiro gave him a confused look, and followed him with his eyes.
The song finished, and Pidge came back to the table, while Acxa and Allura went out the back to get some air.
“That was interesting!” she sighed as she sat down, “That girl is going to be the death of me!”
“I’m going to follow Matt to the bar,” Shiro told me, after Matt had practically bowled us over.
“You know he’s playing with you, right?” I said, “You’re both in a fucking peacock competition, and somebody’s gotta lose.”
“Or both of us are gonna win,” he winked at me. “You know what I always say, ‘Patience yields dick’, my young padawan, maybe you should try it!”
“Yeah, yeah, okay,” I said, shaking my head, “I’m going to go and check on ‘Lura,” I watched him walk away, and turned and headed towards the doors.
“Nice work, princess,” a voice called as I walked past.
“Princess?” I snapped as I turned around, ready to punch someone in the face. I really didn’t need some fuckwad attacking me, not after what Lotor had said.
“Well, you do look hot wearing that crop top and heels,” Lance grinned at me.
“I’m not the one drinking a vodka raspberry,” I said mockingly, calming down slightly and eyeing the glass on the table next to him.
“I’m n...What do you have against it?” he asked standing up, “I dare you to come try some,” he said, swirling the last dregs in the glass before pouring it into his mouth.
“That would be very clever if you hadn’t just drunk it all,” I snapped shaking my head, his last few drinks had been coke, how drunk could he have been?
He stuck his rolled tongue out slightly, pressing a dribble of liquid through the tip, showing that he did, indeed, still have the drink in his mouth, before quickly slurping it back in, and raising his eyebrows.
Oh. OH! I panicked for a second before regaining my composure. So he wanted to play like this, then. I was never one to back away from a dare. And I had either wanted to punch someone, or get rid of this electricity in some other way. One side of my lip pulled up in a deadly grin, and I could see the panic in his eyes as I moved closer.
‘Oh yeah, I’m calling your bluff, loverboy’ I thought to myself.
A shiver ran through him as I placed my hands on his waist, and leaned in close.
“Careful there, princess,” I whispered, turning his name back on him, “Don’t you swallow now, I like to share.”
His eyes widened in surprise, and I gave a chuckle before taking his face in my hands.
He stood there, frozen, as I flicked my tongue against his lips, pushing him back into the table.
“Come on, baby, give it up,” I murmured, taking my face away from his for a second before kissing him.
My tongue worked for access, before I felt the warm red liquid pass between our lips and down my throat as my tongue entered his mouth. There was an energy running between us as we intertwined, my hands in his hair, and his roaming my waist.
“They’re really going for it, aren’t they?” I heard from the table behind Lance. I looked over his shoulder to see Pidge staring at us, and Hunk looking away awkwardly. I winked at her, and pulled away, running my hands down his chest.
“Yummy,” I said, wiping my mouth with my gloved hand, mimicking his words from earlier.
I give him another grin, before turning and walking away, but not before I heard: “You owe me a drink, you asshole. Or maybe I should hit Keith up, seeing as he finished the last of mine.”
“Shut up!” I heard him hiss at Pidge.
“Just because you wanted to make out with him didn’t give you the right to steal my drink. I’m sure he would have been happy swapping Canadian Club with you too!” she giggled.
I took a quick glance over my shoulder, to see Lance pouting as he watched me walk away. What the fuck was going on?
Almost everyone was back at the booth again.
Allura had calmed down, and was now sitting giggling with Pidge.
Hunk and Shiro were having a serious discussion about some show they had both been watching. They were having some kind of argument about what was better, a Tododeku, or a Kiribaku, whatever the hell that meant, while Keith was chuckling beside them.
“You’re both dorks,” Acxa said from across the table, “And I ship them all together, so that’s the end of that!”
With that Keith lost it, laughing so hard he almost fell out of the booth.
“You watch?” Hunk asked.
“Don’t get her started,” Keith said, righting himself, “She only reads the manga.”
“You guys are weird, and I have no idea what you’re talking about!” I said, throwing my hands up in frustration.
“You won’t escape us for long,” Keith said, his eyes dead serious, “We will absorb you into the cult soon enough, there’s always room for one more.”
From around the table came a chorus, starting with Shiro and soon all of them had joined in, “One of us, one of us, one of us!” Even Pidge stopped giggling with Allura long enough to add her voice, before they all burst out laughing.
I raised my eyebrows in confusion, and slight fear, as Romelle came over the mic again, announcing the next karaoke singer.
We all turned to the stage, and saw Matt standing up there.
As soon as the music started, Keith practically jumped from the booth in excitement. He grabbed my hand, and before I knew it, we were on the dancefloor.
Matt’s smooth voice echoed around the room, as bodies swayed on the floor.
“It’s the time of the season,
When love runs high,
And this time, give it to me easy,
And let me try with pleasured hands
To take you in the sun to promised lands
To show you every one,
It’s the time of the season for loving,”
“This is my favourite song!” Keith said loudly, “Come on! Loosen up those hips!”
He had come closer, and placed my hands on his waist. He began rolling his hips like a belly dancer, as he spun around in a circle, before looping his arms around my neck.
I had vaguely been aware of those dancing around us. I knew Allura and Pidge were somewhere to my left, and Shiro had pushed through to the front, but apart from that, I was completely lost in the vision before me.
He then began popping his hips, and letting out heavy sighs to the tune of the backing track.
As the second verse started, I had let my hands begin to roam up under his shirt, rubbing my thumbs over his tight stomach muscles, before bringing them around, and slowly running them down his spine.
“What’s your name?
Who’s your daddy?
Is he rich like me?
Has he taken, any time,
To show you what you need to live,
Tell it to me slowly,
I really want to know
It’s the time of the season for loving.”
As the third verse started, he turned again, pressing his back against me, and wrapping my arms around himself, so I had no choice but to move as he moved, rolling our hips to the music, even though my body had been begging me to stop.
When the song ended, he turned to me and winked.
“Thanks for the dance, Lance,” he grinned, and left me standing there while he went back to the booth.
I stood there for a minute, contemplating my next move. He seemed to be interested. He certainly wasn’t shy about putting his hands all over my body, or putting my hands all over his body, for that matter.
I could still feel the tingle of electricity running through my hands as I looked down at them.
His skin had felt so firm, yet soft and smooth at the same time, and I had to find a way to feel it under my fingers again.
The two groups had officially merged into one, with Shiro hooking up with Matt, and Allura and Pidge showing an interest in each other.
We sat at the booth, and the others chatted away, but I hadn’t really been paying attention. I was busy replaying the tingle of Lance, running his hands up my stomach, around my waist, down my back. I wasn’t going to lie. It had felt great, and I really wanted his large, strong, hands on me again.
The crowd had gone quiet, and Shiro nudged me.
Lance was standing centre stage, eyes closed, one hand gripping the microphone tightly, the other on his thigh. The music started, and he began tapping his thigh to the beat.
“Can’t keep my hands to myself,
No matter how hard I’m trying to you,
I want you all to myself,
Your metaphorical gin and juice”
As he sang, he had kept biting his bottom lip. He occasionally opened his eyes, but avoided looking out at the crowd, instead choosing to look up at the roof, or to the side of the stage.
“So come on give me a taste,
Of what it’s like to be next to you,
Won’t let one drop go to waste,
Your metaphorical gin and juice…”
The chorus started, and he took his hands off the microphone and his thigh, but the way he moved them, it looked like he really didn’t know what to do with them. Wringing them, playing with his clothes, running them down his body, or through his hair. He closed his eyes again, and he looked almost in pain.
The rest of the room faded away, and all I saw was this awkward man, standing in the spotlight, stripped down and vulnerable.
As the next verse started, he had brought his hand up next to his face, turning it every time he clicked the beat. His hips had begun moving more to the music, and it looked like he was letting go.
By the time the next bridge started, he was dancing with the mic stand.
Then all of a sudden he froze, both hands on the mic. Nothing moving apart from his head as he breathed into the microphone.
“Oh, I, I want it all…
I want it all...
I want it all, ohhhh...
Can’t keep my hands to myself,”
Then his eyes flew open, and he was staring right at me,
“I mean, I could, but why would I want to?”
And that was it, I was frozen, his eyes locked on mine for the rest of the song.
The sound of the crowd clapping broke me from my trance. My throat was dry, my heart was pounding.
“Are you okay?” Shiro asked, full of concern.
“I…” I started, “I need… to breathe…”
He quickly took my arm and ushered me out into the dark night. We sat on the curb, my head between my knees.
What the hell was going on? I was just playing with him. And he was just playing with me, right? He annoyed the hell out of me. He was always teasing me and trying to piss me off. He was hot. But he was also the most egotistical, obnoxious man I knew. Right?
Then why was my heart beating a million miles an hour? Was that moment of vulnerability I had seen earlier the real him? Was this stripped back version that was on the stage the real thing? Had Shiro been right?
“You wanna talk about it?” he asked, after I had been sitting there, breathing deeply for a few minutes.
“I’ll be okay,” I replied, “I just need a minute.” I needed to regain my composure before I went back in there.
“Should I stay or go?”
“Um, can you actually go make a request for me?” I asked, as I watched a bachelorette party climb out of a minivan.
“Ah, yeah, sure, what is it?” He questioned.
He raised his eyebrows and grinned as I gave him my answer.
“Okay, I’ll see you shortly?” He asked.
I nodded in confirmation, as he backed away. He maintained eye contact as he pushed through the door, and then he was gone. Leaving me to build up the nerve to do what I actually had planned.
I had watched him freak out as I finished. I had watched Shiro comfort him as I walked off the stage, and by the time I had gotten to where he had been standing with the group, he was gone.
I’d made an ass of myself. I thought I’d seen my chance and taken it, and he’d run a freaking mile.
I started to make my way towards the door, when Hunk grabbed my arm.
“He’s still out there with Shiro, man, you might want to wait.”
I nodded, and changed direction, not saying a word, and headed towards the beer garden out the back.
“Do you need me to come with?” Hunk called out after me. I shook my head, and marched on. “I’ll come tell you when he’s gone?” I didn’t reply.
I stormed through the first doors, and down the hall that lead outside, startling two people making out.
I made it outside, and sat at one of the picnic tables they had out there, facing the back fence.
“UGH!” I yelled out, and slammed my fist down on my thigh.
“You okay there sweetie?” someone asked. I looked up, and it was one of the people from the hall.
She had to be close to 7 feet tall, with dark skin, and a muscular build. She was covered in tattoos, and had a slightly gravelly voice. If not for the way she called me sweetie, and the look of concern in her eyes, she would have been incredibly intimidating. Her partner stood behind her, holding her hand, and peeking around her.
“Oh, just been making an ass of myself trying to impress someone, nothing I’m not used to,” I said putting my head in my hands.
“We saw,” the shorter one said, “and we couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves, hey Zeth!” she giggled.
“Ez, not helping!” the taller one scolded, “I’m sure it can’t be that bad,” she said, sitting down next to me, “I’d be flattered if anyone did that for me, whether I liked them or not. If they’re going to make a big deal about it, that’s their issue.”
“I thought he did like me…” I started.
“He?” the one named Ez asked, “He isn’t making a big deal about you being a guy, is he? Did he say something inappropriate?” she began looking around the courtyard like she was expecting someone to jump out at her.
Zeth grabbed her hand, like she was about to run, “It’s okay, baby, I got you,” she said in a soothing voice.
“It’s okay, that wasn’t it,” I said, trying to give her a calming look, it was clear she’d been through some shit, “and I don’t know what happened to you, but you’re safe here. All the staff, and more than half the crowd, are part of the community. We all look after each other, and any trouble is taken care of pretty quickly. I’m not sure if you saw what happened earlier?”
She nodded, and sat down on her partner's lap.
“So, what’s the story then?”
I went into the whole story about Keith, all the mixed emotions I’d been having for weeks, months even, and then the events of the night.
“I’d say he definitely likes you,” Zeth said, “That, or his an absolute ass, and you shouldn’t bother with someone that’s going to tease you like that.”
“Well, he’s out the front freaking out, so I beg to differ,” I sighed and dropped my head.
“Don’t worry about him,” Ez said, putting her hand under my chin, “There’s plenty more fish in the sea, and a sweetheart like you could have your pick of any of them.”
“Hmmm, maybe.” I replied, “But all I really want now is a tequila in each hand!”
“That I can help you with!” Zeth laughed, and she headed to the bar, leaving me and Ez to chat.
“Hey! Excuse me!” I called to the bachelorette party, waving them down before they walked in. The bride-to-be looked at me confused. The one in the ‘Best Bitch’ sash stared at me with daggers in her eyes, she was clearly the only sober one, and had almost had enough of keeping these girls in line.
“I’m sorry, to bother you,” I said, “But I just made an idiot of myself in there, and I’m hoping to redeem myself, and win myself back into his good books.”
There was a collective “Naaaw!” from most of the party, as they circled around me.
“And I see that y’all are wearing cowboy hats,” I continued, “And I was wondering if I could borrow one?”
“I have a whip too, do you want that?” asked the bride-to-be, digging through her handbag.
“Ah, no, just the hat would be good,” I said, with a chuckle, “Thank you anyway!”
“I like you!” she said, putting her hat on my head, “You’re cute! What’s your name?”
“Keith,” I said, returning the smile.
“And what’s loverboy’s name?” another one of the party asked,
“Ah, its Lance…”
“Keith and Lance!” the bride-to-be smiled, “Cute!”
“Can we go now?” the ‘Best Bitch’ snapped, giving the bride-to-be a push.
“Yeah, sorry for keeping you, go, have fun!”
Another one of the party put her hat on my head, and another. By the time they all made it inside I had 5 cowboy hats, and only one head. I shrugged, trying to balance them all, and walked in after them.
Pidge had been on the stage, doing a cute little dance to what sounded like elevator music.
It took me a minute to recognise the tune, but when I did I gave a gasp and looked towards the stage, just as she had started singing in French.
“Embrasse - moi, mets ton doigt dan mon cul,
Embrasse - moi, mets ton doigt dan mon cul,
Une presence ambigue,
Une presence inconnue,
Jusqu’a ce que j’en peux plus”
She really was a gremlin! Listening to the music, and watching her dance, the audience had been totally unsuspecting as to what they were listening to, bopping away to the happy little French song.
I gave a laugh, and made my way to the bathroom to freshen up and compose myself.
“Lance?” Hunk called, as he walked through the doors, “Where are you, buddy?”
I raised my hand from behind the table where I now sat on the ground talking to my new friends.
The girls had gone and got me some drinks, and I was feeling a lot calmer.
“Has he gone?” I asked, “Is it safe to come inside?”
“Uh, not exactly…” he hesitated, “but you should come inside anyway.”
“Why would he do that?” Zeth said, taking on a protective voice.
“It’s okay, Zeth,” I said, putting a hand on her shoulder, “But I am curious. Why?” I asked him.
“Shiro sent me out here to get you,” he shrugged, “He said there was something he wanted to tell you, or show you, or something.”
I twisted my face up, ready to say no.
“Hey, if I go back in there without you, Pidge is coming out.” He said, throwing up his hands, “You really want the Gremlin coming out? You know she’s going to make this a whole lot worse. She doesn’t need more emotional ammo on you. You know what she was like last time.”
I sighed, put my hands on my knees, and pushed myself up.
“You girls wanna come join us?” Hunk asked, eyeing Zeth off. He was always trying to be friendly. “There’s room in our booth, and we always like meeting new people.”
“You don’t know us. We could be crazy for all you know?” Ez said, giving Hunk a weird grin.
“Uh,” Hunk swallowed, “Well, you looked after our boy here when he was upset,” he smiled, “So, you can’t be all bad!”
“Come on!” I said, walking across the courtyard, “Join me in an adventure towards certain doom!”
When we got back to the table, Shiro and Matt had been getting cozy in the wall side of the booth, while Acxa and Allura were watching Pidge, who was finishing up on stage. She had been singing a cute little French song, and the crowd were all giving her polite applause, but she was giggling uncontrollably as she left the stage.
“This is Zeth and Ez,” Hunk said, sliding into the other side of the booth. The girls slid in after him, as everyone said hello, and I went to slide in after them.
“Wait!” Shiro said, “Lance should sit on this side!”
“Ah, okay?” Allura said, “But I want to sit next to Pidge,” she slid out.
I slid in, next to Acxa, and looked over to Shiro.
“Hunk said you wanted me?” I asked as Allura sat back down, and Pidge returned to the table, sliding in next to Allura.
“Yeah, you’ll see soon,” he replied, and turned back to Matt.
I turned my attention back to the rest of the table. I felt trapped.
“What were you singing?” Allura asked Pidge out of curiosity.
Matt came up for air in a panic, “DON’T ANSWER THAT!” he said, quite loudly.
Pidge giggled, and leaned in to whisper in Allura’s ear.
“Oh!” Allura said, blushing a bright red, “We’ll be back!” she pushed Pidge out of the booth, and took her by the hand, dragging her away.
“THAT’S MY SISTER!” he called after them, and Pidge just gave him the bird.
I stood, bouncing, in front of the mirror. Big breath in. Big breath out.
I checked my reflection, cleaned up my eyeliner, and straightened up my nose ring. I fiddled with my ear rings and bars, more out of nervous habit than anything.
I took my hair down, and shook it out. I ran my fingers through it, brushing out any little snags.
I picked the hat up from beside the basin, and placed it on my head. One more big breath in. One more out. I shook the nerves out, straightened my gloves, and pushed through the door.
Keith came from the back of the stage, walking forwards, swaying his hips and popping his shoulders to the beat.
There was no hiding who this was directed at. His eyes had met mine right from the start. Where I had been timid and vulnerable, Keith knew what he wanted, and was demanding.
He had a cowboy hat on his head, and even though I knew his secret, I was surprised at the Southern drawl he let out when he began to sing.
“We should take this back to my place,
That’s what he said right to my face,
Coz I want you bad, yeah I want you, baby,”
The way he moved, it was like a mixture of country and Latin dancing.
He took the mic from the stand and moved across the stage, part line dance, part slow samba. All hips.
“Slow, slow hands, like sweat dripping out of my dirty laundry,
No, no chance that I’m leaving here without you on me,
I, I know, yeah I already know that there ain’t no stopping,
Your plans, and those slow hands.”
He dropped low, swinging from left to right as he did so.
“I just want to take me time,”
We could do this baby, all night,”
He slowly came back up, this time making a slow lasso movement with his right arm, while holding on to the mic stand with this left. He then looked directly at me, moving his index finger, coaxing me up towards the stage.
“Coz I want you bad, yeah I want you baby”
He jumped down off the stage, and walked towards me. He took my hand and placed it on his stomach, swaying and rolling his hips as he continued singing.
“Fingertips putting on a show,
Got me now, and I can’t say no,
Want to be with you all alone,
Take me home, take me home,
Fingertips putting on a show,
Can’t you tell that I want you, baby?”
He took his hat off, and placed it on my head, before pulling me in and kissing me.
I could hear that Romelle had taken over singing the song, as a slow chant come from somewhere behind us.
“Klance! Klance! Klance! Klance!”
We pulled apart, and I turned around to see where the chanting was coming from.
Keith laughed as I noticed a group of women standing at the back of the room. They looked like a bachelorette party or something.
They let out a big “Wooo!!!” and began throwing more cowboy hats at us.
“Friends of yours?” he asked, as the next song starts.
“Are you drunk enough?
Not to judge what I'm doin’
Are you high enough?
To excuse that I'm ruined
'Cause I’m ruined”
“They helped me out of a tight situation,” I replied, “You see, I was an idiot, and let this great guy slip through my fingers,”
“Oh really?” he smirked, “then what happened?”
“Well, I think I managed to rope him back in, in the end?”
“You do have epic lasso skills.” he replied.
“I make no promises, I can't do golden rings
But I'll give you everything (tonight)
Magic is in the air, there ain’t no science here
So come get your everything (tonight)”
“I’d like to think I have some pretty epic other skills too,” I grinned.
“Oh yeah, cowboy?” he chuckled, wrapping his hands around my waist, “Prove it!”
“Cause I need your green light
Day and night, say that you're mine
'Cause I need your green light
Day and night, say that you're mine
Say that you're mine
Say that you're mine...”