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Everything hurts while he’s trying to save the universe, Keith supposes that’s why he didn’t notice before.

But now the war is over, Earth is saved, everyone has lived to see the glory of a peaceful, if chaotic, universe. They’re in the period of healing. Their bodies, their minds, and all of the universe really.

Weeks in though Keith just still… hurts. It’s in his joints, in his back, and radiating up the spine to his neck. It’s a constant pain that sticks with him no matter how he rests.

Worst of all is his upper right arm, near the shoulder. It feels tender, but not to the touch. It’s something deeper, in his bones.

Keith goes dutifully to the doctor. They scan him for everything, check his blood and genes, and when they find nothing wrong they write him a chiropractor script. Keith sighs and takes it.

The adjustments help. Kind of. They feel good in the moment, his body relaxing under the hard hands that move and press at him. Admittedly he hasn’t gotten a lot of physical contact recently, so it’s also just nice to have that. Nice to be touched.

But when he gets up to leave, he knows that the root of the problem hasn’t been solved. The adjustments had been deep and at times painful, but the relief that followed wasn’t enough. Keith can still feel that pain behind the relaxed pleasure. It was deeper still, settled into the core of him.

He tries to deal with the pain. He imagines maybe it’s just in his head, a psychic pain from all that he’d put his body through. He knows he got through the war pretty well intact, but he’s not invincible. He still shakes awake from nightmares, still jumps when someone appears too suddenly in his peripheral. He still sleeps with his blade beneath his pillow.

So maybe the pain is just that, his body making the wounds in him something physical.

It’s shitty.

Keith presses on though. He does the meetings, the clean ups, the hangs out with the paladins. He tries to ignore the way his body just aches all the time.

And then Shiro asks him to spar.

“Think we’re well enough for that?” Keith teases as they walk the hallway toward the gym.

“I’ve got a clean bill of health,” Shiro says. When Keith gives him a look, Shiro has enough shame to look chagrinned. “Relatively. Enough for this.”

Keith laughs and bumps his shoulder into Shiro’s. “Alright, but if you throw out your hip that’s not on me.”

Shiro bumps him back. “I’m not that old, you.”

They change facing away from each other in the locker room, and then head to the mat.

“Don’t go easy on me now,” Shiro says when they face off. Keith scoffs.

It starts fine. They’re a little rusty having done a truly excessive amount of sitting since the war ended, but Keith falls into the rhythm soon enough and he sees it click similarly for Shiro. At first they do more parrying, tagging and blocking each other’s blows than actual fighting. Keith’s glad for it as their first time back, it’s fun and he hasn’t been having enough of that.

Shiro grins at Keith’s next retreat, and follows trying to get under the block Keith throws up. Keith dances out of reach with the speed of his Galra nature, and throws taunts after him.

They cover a lot ground on the mat, going round and round each other, and building up a sweat. Keith’s heart thumps in exertion for the first time this week that doesn’t have to do with a nightmare, and it feels good.

Then they start landing their blows.

None of the contact is terribly hard. It’s friendly, half-pulled punches and soft kicks. There’s more than a few bumps that are more about knocking each other off balance than trying to win. It’s friendly and mostly harmless.

Except that Keith begins to really feel it. At first he assumes it’s just his own tiredness because he hasn’t been keeping up with exercise recently, and surely this amount of activity is a lot.

But then they’re still moving around each other easily, and Keith’s body just begins to hurt too much. His muscles ache and throb, and his shoulder is a hot pulse of pain with every movement. Shiro barely connects with him, in fact Keith is dealing far more blows than he takes, but his body begins to scream at him with the pain of it.

In response Keith’s reactions slow and slow, and then at one attack from Shiro he stumbles. It’s almost an elbow to his stomach for the mistake, except that Shiro catches his slip and pulls back immediately. Keith nearly collapses down onto the mat, his whole body throbbing.

“Keith? Shit, did I—“

Keith’s already shaking his head. “No, no you’re fine. Just outta shape.” He forces his head up and puts a smile on it. “As it turns out I’m the tired old man of the two of us.”

Shiro doesn’t buy it. He frowns, looking troubled, and walks over to help Keith back up onto his feet.

“Do you need the medic?”

Keith shakes his head. He knows they won’t find anything. They’d been so, so thorough. There hadn’t been anything inside him to cause such a problem. Maybe he really was just this out of shape. “I’m okay. I think I’m just not used to it. Fuck,” he can’t help then but to reach for his right shoulder and rub where the pain is red hot.

“Shoulder hurts?”

“Yeah. I’ve already gotten it checked. I think it’s just… bad sleeping, overexertion.” He gives a self-deprecating laugh.

Shiro doesn’t look convinced, but he doesn’t pry further. He’s always known when he wasn’t getting further with Keith, and Keith really appreciates that. He appreciates when Shiro knows to let things sit.

When Keith catches his breath, and the pain settles down into a tolerable level, they move back to the locker room. “I want to do this again,” Keith says as he’s pulling his change of clothing out of his locker for the showers. “I know that was kind of a bust but, we should do it again. Get back into shape.”

Shiro gives him a close look that says something Keith can’t decipher. Then he nods. “If you’re sure. I don’t want you to push yourself too much.”

“I won’t. It’ll be with you. We’ll just be more careful, right?”

“Okay,” Shiro says. They part to shower.

##

It gets better in some ways after that. Keith gets back into the flow of exercising. He stretches in the morning, makes sure his meals are nutrient filled and appropriate for his activity levels. He gets smoother in sparring, picking up that muscle memory where he left off.

The pain does not go away though. It’s manageable when he stretches, manageable when he does sit ups and push-ups and even some light cardio. The second he starts sparring though, the intense kind of pain comes roaring right back.

He doesn’t know what it is about sparring, but the second he and Shiro start it’s like an uphill battle against his own body not to collapse beneath the spiking pain.

And maybe that’s the worst part. Keith has known enough pain in his life to know what he can handle, but this is… something else. It’s something he can’t seem to manage, and it’s difficult in the middle of sparring to shield Shiro from seeing it. He doesn’t want Shiro to worry or fuss over him, but they’ll be five minutes in and Keith will land a hit on Shiro and feel like his entire body is quivering in pain.

On more than one occasion Keith has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from crying out at how it twists sharp and poker hot inside him.

“Stop,” Shiro clips, catching a grimace Keith can’t cover fast enough. “This is… you’re clearly in pain.”

Keith’s got a hand on the wall nearest him and is trying to pretend he’s just winded from his last attack when he’s really trying to get a clear head from the spiraling pain.

“I’m fine.”

Shiro snorts, rubbing his own shoulder. “I’m not stupid.”

Keith deflates immediately, his body too loud in all its small and large agonies for him to fight with Shiro. It’s a relief to slide down and sit himself against that wall.

Shiro walks over and sits down beside him.

“Where’s it hurt?” Shiro asks.

It’s too much to say everywhere, so Keith says, “Back.”

Carefully, Shiro turns him and puts his hands on Keith’s sweaty back. “Specifically?”

“Between the shoulder blades.”

Shiro hums. “Ah, yeah. I get that a lot. Here.”

He proceeds then to dig his hands in, doing a very close reproduction of what the physical therapist did. It works just as well, a temporary relief that somehow doesn’t reach deep enough. Keith closes his eyes and tries not to let the fear up out of his throat. Shiro would understand, even had a body once with a degenerative condition, he would be the first person to understand the fear that’s started growing in Keith’s belly.

But Keith can’t bear to put words to it yet. He’s afraid of something being wrong with him that even sophisticated Galran and Altean medical equipment can’t pick up. He’s afraid it’s some kind of human-Galra thing that no one even knows about.

His life has been full of strange things, this wouldn’t even be that much of a stretch.  

Shiro works his hands into Keith’s muscles for a few minutes, and Keith just closes his eyes and breathes through it. It feels good in some ways, the superficial relaxing of his muscles, the buzzy energy of his nerves just from Shiro touching him. He wishes he was brave enough just to turn and bury himself in Shiro’s arms. Just to sink into the man’s strong chest and rest. Find relief. Anything.

“How’s that?” Shiro says when he finishes.

“Better,” Keith says. The word is sour, but it has enough truth to it that Shiro doesn’t call him on it.

##

The next strange thing that Keith notices is at dinner nearly a week later. Hunk had told him at lunch that he was making the spicy Yow-yu dish that Keith liked for the group for their weekly dinner. Keith loves spicy, has always loved it ever since he was a boy and his father would take him around to the hole in the wall cafe that served authentic Mexican.

He knows most of the team will tap out quickly from the dish, but Hunk tries to rotate who he makes food for specifically. This week is clearly for Keith and Lance.

As soon as the dish is presented Keith spots the nervous look on Pidge and Shiro’s faces. That’s almost part of the fun too, when it’s not someone’s thing. There’s always food goo as a backup of course, but for most of their meals everyone just tries to hang in. It’s family time in that way.

They all start eating, though, and immediately Keith knows something is wrong with him. Instead of being able to take the heat in stride, it starts blooming larger and larger in his mouth and down his throat. It’s hot, hotter than hot.

He coughs discreetly and reaches for his drink.

Pidge and Shiro are already gulping down their own drinks, making sounds of pain.

Keith forces the cup down and tries again. It’s… less than the first few bites, but he’s still feeling the heat from before.

“Oh c’mon guys, you don’t want Hunk to feel unappreciated do you?” Lance taunts at Shiro and Pidge. Both give back unamused looks, but Shiro valiantly picks up his fork.

Keith’s been shoveling it in while the heat has leveled off, eager to finish, but then the next bite does him dirty. Suddenly his mouth is on fire, pain like food has never given him before. It’s worse, so much worse than those first few bites. Whatever is used for the spice Keith must have just consumed a mouthful.

He clumsily grabs his glass and finishes it, eyes tearing up. Across the table Pidge has refused to touch her food, but Shiro has been picking at his own and is likewise suffering.

The attention turns toward to Keith though, Shiro isn’t known for keeping up on spicy dishes like Keith is.

“Hey,” Hunk frowns, reaching over to rub Keith’s back. “You okay?”

The water is gone, but then Hunk is offering his own glass, and Keith’s in too much pain to refuse.

“Is it that bad?” Hunk aims this question at Lance who Keith can see shake his head.

“No dude, same as always.”

“Huh.”

Keith finishes the second water, but it’s barely helped. He’s sweating, and he knows his face is red like Shiro’s is.

“Really spicy,” Shiro pants. Lance snorts.

 Keith swallows around the intense burn. It feels like he’s breathing fire. “Just think I got a bad bite. Fuck.”

Hunk doesn’t look much satisfied by that answer, and Keith doesn’t really feel it either. He’s never ever had this kind of reaction to a dish, and this is a dish he’s had several times before. He knows Hunk wouldn’t mess it up. Hunk and Lance are almost finished with their plates, and by the look of it neither of them had any problems.

Keith doesn’t want to draw a conclusion, doesn’t want to connect it to the pain he’s been feeling in general and more specifically during sparring, but it’s hard not to. It’s hard not to see a little difference in himself now and not think that it a symptom.

He fears it’s a symptom.

Of what, he hasn’t the faintest idea. That’s the worst kind of fear.

##

The burn on his mouth eventually does fade, but when Keith wakes up the next morning he feels like absolute garbage. By all accounts he slept enough, well over eight hours because he’d retired early following the disastrous dinner.

He wakes though feeling like he hasn’t slept at all. His body feels heavy, sluggish, and his eyes burn as if he spent the night staring up at the ceiling. Keith rubs at his eyes on his way to the bathroom, but getting a look at himself in the mirror doesn’t reveal anything unusual. Outwardly at least nothing is wrong.

He grumbles through a shower and breakfast, and then goes half-dressed to the door when there’s a familiar knock.

Shiro standing on the other side actually does physically reflect how Keith feels. The man groans, dragging himself into Keith’s apartment and then face planting onto the couch.

“Good morning to you too,” Keith says. There’s a muffled sound from the lump that is Shiro. “Didn’t sleep well?”

Another grunt. Keith can’t help but smile and take a seat beside his head. He runs his hand over Shiro’s buzzed hair. It feels nice under his fingers, and somehow it soothes away some of his own grumpiness.

“Me either, I was dragging myself out of bed.”

Shiro’s head turns just enough that he can speak, and it gives Keith more access to the other side of his hair.

“Can we just call out today?”

Keith scritches across Shiro’s scalp, and he feels his own nerves shiver in pleasure. It’s a novelty, touching Shiro like this. Keith wishes he got to do it more often. He wishes—

“I’d love to,” Keith says.

Shiro hums, tilting his head against Keith’s leg. “So why don’t we?”

The reasons are on Keith’s tongue immediately, but then another soft wave of pleasure runs through him. They’re always, always responsible and maybe…

It’s almost funny that it’s Shiro’s suggestion to play hooky, and Keith is the one waffling. When did he become such a stiff?

“Okay,” he says instead of any of the reasons why they shouldn’t.

There’s a pause, and then Shiro’s head tilts to look up at him. “What, really?”

He’s smiling, even with the worn circles under his eyes. It makes something bloom big and bright in Keith’s own chest.

“Yeah, why not? Surely this place can do without us for a day.” He looks out at the apartment, an idea beginning to take shape. “And we could have a lazy day. Chill on the couch, watch some movies. Maybe if we’re rested by the evening, we could take the bikes out.”

The idea sprawls large in Keith’s mind’s eye. He wants it suddenly with an intense covetness he isn’t used to. He wants… them, here. He wants to rest and watch something dumb on the telescreen with his best friend and not have to think about any of the numerous things he should be worrying about.

“Sounds perfect,” Shiro says.

The emails go out one behind the other. They both request a personal day because Shiro isn’t about to say that they’re both sick. It will be obvious to anyone looking at these, noticing they’re both out, but that idea gives Keith it’s own bit of pleasure.

When the business is done, Shiro shuffles back down on the couch, practically dumping his head in Keith’s lap. Keith’s still on his datapad, wordlessly ordering lunch for later so he won’t have to think about it. He hands the telescreen remote to Shiro.

“Pick something.”

For once the morning passes without a peep from either of their devices. Shiro stays in Keith’s lap and lets Keith card through his hair while they watch nature documentaries one after another. There’s idle comments about some of the more alien creatures, both otherwise they settle into silence.

The tiredness doesn’t just go away, but Keith does feel a certain kind of pleasure playing with Shiro’s hair, cocooned in their own little space. Some niggling anxiety he didn’t even know was there fades away, and he slowly but surely relaxes into the couch cushion.

Lunch comes at some point, and when Keith brings it back to the coffee table Shiro is seated upright with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He’s so big the blanket barely covers his breadth, and it’s stupidly charming.

They eat lunch shoulder to shoulder watching some pitrrew from the planet Quitly go about their day savaging. They’re cute little things, sort of like birds or bats, but they make sounds like wind chimes. They debate whether they’re more like birds or bats while idly working their way through the food.

“Your turn,” Shiro says when they’ve stuffed themselves to bursting. Keith turns to look, and the man is patting his lap. He has a soft smile aimed at Keith.

Keith feels himself flush, but he turns away and lays down, head in Shiro’s lap. “If you insist.”

There’s a whuff of a laugh from Shiro, and then hand settle in Keith’s hair. “I do.”

Keith takes a steadying breath at the first intense pet of pleasure that spreads through him. It radiates down from his skull and through his whole body. He swears his own fingers tingle.

He focuses on the show, but finds more than once his eyes start slipping closed from how good it feels. Shiro’s careful but meticulous as he works through his hair. He untangles a few knots near the back gently one at a time, and then skims nails across the back of Keith’s neck. It’s all Keith can do not to croon at the sensation.

It goes on and on, and before long Keith’s eyes really are falling shut and his mind is sinking. He’s warm, bundled now in Shiro’s blanket with the rhythmic petting of Shiro’s hand through his hair. It’s so absolutely perfect he doesn’t even really notice when he slips off to sleep.

It’s only when he wakes overwarm that he realizes he’s dozed off. He blinks his eyes open to his own living room. There’s another show on, and the light through the far window is vastly different. When Keith turns his head to look up he spies Shiro, also asleep, head tilted up against the cushion. He looks half content, but seeing the angle of his neck makes Keith’s own neck ache. He reaches up and tugs gently at Shiro’s shirt.

“Hey. Wake up.”

“Hmm?” Shiro’s voice is soft, kind of gruff. Keith smiles to hear it.

“Your neck.”

“Ah,” Shiro rubs at it, “Yeah. Thanks.”

Keith pushes himself up out of Shiro’s lap, rubbing at his own neck that’s a bit stiff too. “This was a good idea,” he says stretching, “I feel way better.” He does, surprisingly. That nap seemingly has done more for his exhaustion than the eight hours he’d gotten last night.

“Yeah,” Shiro says. “Me too, surprisingly.”

Keith turns to look at the lighting on the floor, and deciding that it’s definitely late evening. When he looks back at Shiro the man already has a look of expectation.

“Hover bikes?” Keith asks.

“Hover bikes,” Shiro says with a smile.

##

It’s… a little better after that. Keith doesn’t know why, maybe he really did need the break, but the following week he feels almost buoyant. He sleeps through the night, runs into no food problems, and stays away from sparring just so he won’t ruin the streak. He missed feeling this good, and he’s afraid it’s only a temporary respite.

Still, James finds him at the end of that week since he’d been skipping out of not only the gym but the cadet flight classes they both assist with. That wasn’t intentional on Keith’s part, just a conflict of meeting times.

“A personal day?” James sidles up beside him as Keith’s walking to the chow hall.

“Uh huh.”

“Dude you left me with Berkins. He’s impossible, and I had absolutely no backup when he started on about his dad, and my dad told me you’re supposed to do it this way.”

Keith chuckles. Berkins has been a problem student for them for the whole quarter. “Can’t handle one cadet for a day without me?”

James huffs. “Multiple days now. And you know he doesn’t respect me. He only listens to you because you’re a paladin,” James makes air quotes at the last word.

“Sorry man, I think I’m back on Monday. This week the meetings have been back to back so all the negotiations could get done before the Jurian Festival.”

James waves him off. “Still. Sucked.” They walk into the chow hall, and James stays with him, getting into the food line. “You gonna make it up to me?”

Keith casts him a side glance to find that James is wagging his eyebrows.

“Nope.”

“Aww come on!” The line moves fast, and they each pick off items and add them to their tray.

“Come on what? I’m busy enough as it is.” Keith offers his badge at the end of the line and it pings as his food is tallied and charged. James does the same and follows Keith to a table.

“Dinner,” James says sliding in across from Keith. “You said—“

“No, you said I owed you dinner. I disagreed.”

“It’s one dinner, come on. How do you know if you won’t give me a chance?”

Keith’s eyes flicker up to James. “I know.”

“Keeeiiiith.”

“I’m busy.”

“You have to eat!”

“I’m eating right now,” Keith says digging into his food.

“Dinner. One dinner. C’mon you owe me,” James reaches across the table and puts a hand on Keith’s. Keith looks up, but James’ eyes have already moved on from him and to up over Keith’s shoulder.

“Owe you what?” Comes Shiro’s clipped tone.

Keith feels the heat of that tone. The food in Keith’s mouth tastes suddenly bitter. The hand on his pulls away, and Keith feels an intense annoyance follow.

“Uh, nothing.”

Shiro’s hand lands on Keith’s shoulder. “Keith?”

Keith swallows, but it doesn’t help. There’s anger creeping up his throat, and he can’t figure out exactly why. “Nothing. James was just being annoying.”

“He pressuring you?”

Keith almost, almost rolls his eyes. The compulsion is shocking, he wasn’t this upset just a minute ago. Now every nerve in him is buzzing. “He is not.”

“Nope! Just—ah, work stuff.”

“Over dinner?” Shiro asks. His tone is deeply unfriendly, and Keith has a front row seat to see how it hits James dead on.

“Just, you know, if Keith was interested.”

“He’s not.”

“I’m not.”

They say it simultaneously. The blistering anger in Keith’s gut makes him want to stand and fight or flee, but why he doesn’t know. Shiro’s hand on him is the only grounding force, so he tries to focus on that and breathe.  

The acidic heat solidifies then. Keith knows, with a strange sudden clarity what he wants. He wants James to leave. Now.

This is fortunate because already James is picking up his tray and babbling. “Right, um yeah, so I just remembered I have a lab. I should go—“

Neither of them offer him the slightest bit of rescue. James gets up and flees. Keith’s sure when he’s not so full of inexplicable rage that he’ll feel bad about it. For now it’s satisfying to watch him run. Shiro settles into the seat beside him.

“What was that all about?” Shiro asks him.

Keith shakes his head. “He’s gotten it into his head if I go to dinner with him, I’ll realize we have secret untapped chemistry.” Keith says it offhanded because that’s how it’s meant to be, something silly and meaningless.

But the words when they come out have anxiety spiking up through him. The wild swing of his mood almost makes him sick.

“Oh.”

“It’s not a thing,” Keith says.

“You sure?”

Keith turns to look at Shiro, and the man’s face is intentionally blank. “Uh yeah. It’s James. There’s no secret anything, I think mostly he just does it to be annoying at this point.”

Shiro turns away then. “Alright. Just didn’t want him bothering you.”

At this Keith snorts. “I had it handled Shiro,” he says, “But thanks for the intimidation, it was kind of funny to watch him stumble over himself to escape.”

The blankness falls away and then Shiro’s smiling somewhat bashfully. “Sorry that was probably… too much.”

Keith grins. “Maybe. But ludicrously effective.”

Shiro laughs. “…I should apologize later.”

“Maybe,” Keith pushes his tray away. The feelings aren’t so close they’re choking him anymore, but they’ve definitely put him off his food. “But anyway, wanna get out of here? I’ve got a free evening.”

“No dinner with Griffin?”

Keith elbows him before getting up. “No, so I think that means you owe me a free meal.”

Something bright and sparkly lights up Shiro’s face then. “Yeah! Of course. Dinner’s on me.”

Keith dumps his food and they exit together, that same bright spark making its way into Keith’s chest.

##

Keith rolls over in bed. There’s a niggling heat that has him restless, which is annoying after the long day he’s had. He needs to sleep for the early meeting.

But every time he closes his eyes he starts to feel…

Horny if he’s honest with himself. It’s been… maybe a little too long since he’s gotten a hand on himself. There’s been work and the weird pain in his body. Even now his right shoulder is like a constantly radiating pain. It hasn’t made him particularly in the mood.

Except right now though his body clearly has other ideas. There’s arousal like a buzz just under his skin. He knows if he reached down he’d be half hard in his sleep pants.

Still he doesn’t really want to go through the effort. He tosses and turns, but there doesn’t seem to be relief. If anything it seems to be growing. He might now have a choice if he wants to sleep.

Keith sighs and turns onto his back, pushing the sheets halfway down. His fingers fiddle with the hem of his pants, and even that is turning him on. It’s kind of like the pain when he spars, but turned in the opposite direction. Instead of his body tuned into pain, his nerves are sliding the other way, filling with pleasure.

His hand slides up his stomach, and he almost gasps at how good it feels. He’s sensitive, so sensitive.

He closes his eyes and lets himself sink into it. He hasn’t wanted to tune into his body when it was pain he was feeling, had had even tried his best to actively block it out, but this—

Keith trails his fingers up his chest, bypassing his nipples as first. He touches his collarbone and then throat. He doesn't know why he does, other than it feels right. There’s something that guides him up to touching the length of his throat, then the sharpness of his own jaw. When his fingers slide across his own lips he does gasp. Then those fingers dip inside, pressing down on his tongue.

It’s strange, almost lewd to do it to himself. He pulls his fingers out and lets them trail saliva across his cheek.

The guiding force then has his hand skimming back down, stopping to touch his ears and then throat again. His body shifts in the sheets as he teases himself around his nipples, not touching yet, but the promise of it is electric. It’s never felt like this, like him and not him at the same time.

It’s so disorienting he doesn’t even notice when his thumb moved to catch across his nipple. He moans, full throated into the darkness, body arching up as his nerves light up. It feels so good, so much more intense than it should. His fingers pinch then at the bud, and his hips thrust his now hard cock against the fabric. He wants so badly just to take a hand to himself, to stroke himself to a fast and intense finish, but his hands don’t do that. It feels… out of his control. Or maybe it’s just hotter to think that. Hotter to follow this ghost sensation through his body.

Next he plays with the other nipple until it peaks, making sounds he can’t possibly contain.

“Fuck,” he whispers when his hand finally starts to move back down. When it hits the sleep pants, he lifts up and easily the fabric slips off.

His cock bounces up against his belly, the wet tip oozing against his hot skin. Keith doesn’t even look, his eyes are still closed but it’s clear as day in his head.

Beautiful. It’s a voice in his ear, whispered.

Keith gasps as his hand slides down and circles the base of him. He squirms a little at how bad he wants it, at how his whole body buzzes with potential.

And then finally, finally, his hand wraps around his cock.

“Sh—“ He cuts off the word, but the damage has been done. In his mind everything shifts. And then Shiro’s there with him. He’s so clear in Keith’s mind, Keith can feel the hand around him is not his anymore, but Shiro’s.

And its Shiro’s voice that says, let me.

The first stroke has Keith moaning at how it washes over him. He feels in in his whole body, and he moves with it, fucking up into the fist.

There’s a clever twist of the hand at his tip. Keith curses, and then the hand does it again and again. The other hand moves down further and touches his balls. Keith pants at the way it all blurs and burns inside him.

You like that, Shiro’s voice says. Its low, like it’s been spoken right into his ear.

“Yes,” Keith says.

On the next stroke the hand stops at the tip to thumb over the wetness, smearing it down beneath the head where he’s most sensitive.

Look at you, dripping for me.

“P-please!”

The hand slides back down, jerking him off with slow but steady pressure. The other hand slips further under, and Keith immediately widens his legs. He’s burning, stifled under the pleasure but he doesn’t want it to stop. The finger touches between his legs, the little bit of skin there, and Keith’s whole body shivers.

Oh, baby.

Keith fucks into the next stroke and the other finger finally dips low enough to touch his rim.

Would you like that?

Keith swallows a gasp, stretched thin between the sensations. Everything is so much and yet—

He wants. He can’t imagine what it would feel like when he’s like this, but he wants.

“Plea— fuck— ah—“

There’s a low, amused hum, and the hand on him speeds up. Maybe next time…

And then Keith is arching, gasping at the tight and slick grip on his cock. His orgasm crests all at once and it’s a spangled, white thing. He moans as it crashes into him, wave after wave. It feels resplendent, filling up his whole body. He can hear Shiro as he comes, soft words and curses.

Keith fucks his fist, spilling messy gobs of come across his belly, dripping down his fist. It’s everywhere, but he’s so floored by the pleasure thrumming through him he can’t even think about it.

He’s never had an orgasm that intense. Never felt anything, really, like that.

When he comes down he just lies there in the sheets unmoving. His heart is battering, lungs burning for air. Every bit of him is sticky either in come or sweat.

Fuck.

When he finally opens his eyes to the darkened room, he’s alone. There is no Shiro.

It was just—

Keith groans.

It’s one thing to have feelings for Shiro, and another entirely to do… that. Fantasies happen, but what he’d just done had felt like so much more. He’d imagined Shiro was here, that Shiro—

The worst part is that it had felt so real. Uncomfortably real.

Fuck.

Keith hauls himself up out of the bed and heads for the shower. He tries not to think about what he just did in the shower, but beneath the hot water he can almost feel that ghost sensation traveling down his body, washing him just as thoroughly as Keith’s own hands do.

And as the ache in his shoulder steadily begins to return, he considers… another doctor’s appointment.