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keith/klancetober 2020

Chapter Text

“…Keith? Is that you?”

Keith jumps from his place hovering next to Lance’s bed, startled out of his nervous contemplation. Lance has lifted his eyemask—a charitable action, for sure—and is blinking blearily up at him, eyebrows furrowed in tired confusion. Shit. He wasn’t supposed to wake up before Keith was ready.

Swallowing the embarrassment creeping in the back of his throat, Keith nods once and then, realizing that it’s dark and maybe Lance can’t see him, says, “Yes.”

There’s a beat of silence. For Keith, it’s unbearable.

“Um…Why’re you in my room right now?” Lance asks in a voice thick with sleep. He’s having trouble keeping his eyes open and focused right now, something Keith would find adorable if he wasn’t so busy scolding himself for coming here in the first place.

He has to suck it up, though. Or he’ll never get what he came here for—what he spent half an hour pacing outside of Lance’s room, sneaking in as silently as he could, and then flittering about nervously around Lance’s bed for another fifteen minutes for. Now or never. Lance is inviting him to state his case.

So he does.

“I’m cold,” Keith says. And then, when Lance offers no immediate response, adds, “My room. It’s cold. And the blanket—it’s not helping.”

Despite Lance’s sleepy state, something seems to click in his mind (and this scenario is perhaps a good testament to why the rest of the team sometimes calls Lance “the Keith whisperer”, but whatever) and he nods before falling back into bed. Keith has a moment of panic when he thinks Lance is just going to completely ignore him, but he’s saved when, instead of turning around and closing the conversation, Lance wordlessly opens the blanket and shuffles slightly over to make room next time.

Keith’s heart flutters. Success.

Perhaps a little too eagerly, Keith climbs in and settles on his back, though this seems to dissatisfy Lance, who huffs a little and nudges him insistently when he does.

“Move over,” he mumbles, cheek pressed into the pillow. “I’ll spoon you.”

If Keith’s heart was flutter before, now it is pounding, throbbing in his chest like it wants to break out. Despite this, Keith manages a nod and does what Lance says, turning so his back is to him and pillowing his head in his hands.

A moment later Lance’s arms tug him in, and he lets out a gasp as he’s pulled into Lance’s warm embrace.

“Comfy?” Lance asks. His voice cracks a little.

Keith swallows. “Y-Yeah. Very.”

Lance nods, seemingly satisfied, and drops his head back down onto his pillow. All nonchalant, like this isn’t giving Keith about twelve crises right now. Amidst even all of those, though, Keith can’t quite help but notice the chill in his body melting away, replaced with the sweet warmth that is Lance McClain, all golden light and fluffed pillows and clean, almondy scent. It’s…wonderful. It has Keith’s mind slowing and eyes dropping far quicker than any meditation, music, or staring at the ceiling ever could.

Keith snuggles in, slotting his body more comfortable into Lance’s arc. Warm.

As Keith drifts off, nestled and content, there’s only one word on his mind.

Cozy.

Chapter Text

“You—You’re joking, right?” Keith sputters, utterly dumbfounded. If Allura didn’t know how to fix this, then…? “Well—What the fuck am I supposed to do?”

The suspiciously sentient cloud grew larger around Keith’s person as he said that, and now it’s cheerfully pouring rain in a circle about five feet in diameter. Awesome.

“Language, Keith,” Shiro cuts in, but even this is muddled with pity. Keith will allow it, this time; he’s even pitying himself right now.

“What you’re supposed to do, Keith, is simply wait while Coran and I begin to research,” Allura says, voice hardened around the edge at Keith’s comment. Keith looks down to the ground, moody. “Until we can find the…antidote to this cloud, you will have to try your best to understand it and see if you can control it.” 

“I’m not sure that’s possible, Princess,” Pidge pipes up from her place seated calmly on top of the table. Everyone turns to her with raised brows. Keith’s surprised that she hasn’t said anything until now, but then, that probably means she was just observing.

“Why not?” Allura asks, surprised. Keith mirrors her reaction.

“Because the cloud—well, it’s reacting to everything Keith does, or something.” Pidge hops down from the table and approaches Keith, who regards her with growing wariness. “Like, I think it’s connected to his emotions somehow? Look—”

Pidge reaches Keith and stands in front of him contemplatively. Keith is beyond suspicious and on guard, eyeing Pidge like she’s a deranged goose coming for his skin rather than his friend.

The two face off for a moment, completely still, before Pidge’s arm extends rapidly into Keith’s personal bubble and she pinches him.

Ow, what the hell, Pidge?” Keith hisses, hands flying to cover the new sting on his side. His cloud produces a loud crack of lightning and a deafening boom of thunder that actually manages to shake some of the knick-knacks in the room.

Pidge looks far too satisfied. Keith glares at her angrily.

“See?” she says, voice steady and calm, with a clear lilt of amusement. “It gets worse when he’s pissed off, or something like that. And I bet…” She pauses, pondering for a moment, before dramatically whirling around and pointing a finger at Lance, who jumps.

“Lance. Compliment Keith.”

Lance looks at Pidge like she’s lost her mind. “What? Why, what, I don’t—”

“Dude, just do it, I want to see if my hypothesis is right,” Pidge interrupts, sounding distracted. She’s back to staring intently at Keith, who is getting more and more uncomfortable by the second. He now understands the pain that fish in aquariums go through, and he vows to never press his face against a fish tank again.

“Um…Okay…” Lance turns to Keith, eyes sweeping his body searchingly, and Keith rewrites his vow to ban himself from even stepping into an aquarium at all, or maybe even making eye contact with any living thing ever. That sounds about right.

“Keith, you, uh… You’re pretty smart? And a genius at flying, obviously.”

To Keith’s utter horror, his cloud noticeably changes, and Keith has absolutely no control over it; the ashy color lightens to silver, and the downpour thins to a light rain. Even the thunder and lightning has disappeared altogether.

Pidge’s grin is matched in intensity only by Lance’s wide-eyed look of awe and wonderment, which Keith steadfastly avoids by fixing his eyes on the damp ground and reminding himself that he does not have a thing for Lance and he will punch anyone who implies otherwise, including himself.

Keith understands the conclusion before Pidge even says it.

“I knew it! The cloud reacts to Keith’s emotions!” Pidge says gleefully, as if this revelation didn’t just cause Keith an insurmountable number of unsolvable problems. “The storm gets more intense when Keith’s experiencing negative emotions, like if he gets pinched, and it gets calmer when he’s experiencing positive emotions, like if Lance compliments him.”

Great, now that we know that, am I seriously just supposed to live with this for the next who-knows-how-long?” Keith interjects, growling and still embarrassed that his cloud calmed as much as it did just from a forced compliment from Lance. But, it’s already back to a downpour now, so whatever.

“I think that might be your only choice, Keith,” Shiro says, laying a hand on Keith’s shoulder and then hastily withdrawing it when the cloud apparently takes that as permission to pass fully over Shiro’s head as well.

Apparently, anybody who touches him has to endure the cloud’s wrath, too. Nice.

“But—but how am I supposed to do anything when I’m being rained on all the time?” Keith cries, imploring the strangely relaxed group around him to, like, actually do something maybe?! Show some concern? Anything?

“You’ll just carry on as normal,” Allura replies, waving a nonchalant hand in his direction. “It’s just a little water, Keith, and if you keep your temper under control then I’m sure it will be fine.”

At this comment, Keith hears several disbelieving snorts—and he’s pretty sure that one of them is literally from Shiro, the traitor—and lets out an anguished sigh.

“I hate this,” he says to nobody in particular. Only Shiro gives him a sympathetic nod; the rest are either too busy ogling his cloud (Allura, Coran, and Pidge) or futilely trying to hide giggles (Lance and Hunk). Keith is sick of the lot of them.

“Fine!” he bursts out, whirling around towards the door. “I’m leaving. Tell me when you’ve figured out the cure.” He then promptly marches out of the room, an action made all the more dramatic by the black, thundering cloud following him like a Sims diamond.

As soon as the door swings shut, Lance turns to the rest of the group.

“I give it a half hour until we’re all drowning in Keith’s angst-rain.”

The rest nod morosely.

Chapter Text

“Shut up, you’re so annoying,” Lance laughs, throwing pieces of his snack at the screen. Keith smiles, nestling his tablet more firmly in his arms. It almost feels like he’s with Lance again; like everything’s okay, they’re together, no issues or problems. But that’s not true, and only being able to see Lance through a screen is a reminder of that. 

Truthfully, Keith never thought he’d be in this position again; he’d left the Blade for a reason, and he hadn’t intended to come back, ever. Ever. But here he was, back with them, back with the toxic knowledge or death, you are only valuable if you are useful culture, back to choosing one side of himself over the other, back to abandoning his team. 

Well, that’s what it felt like, anyway. Realistically speaking, Keith wasn’t abandoning his team this time; he was here on their orders, working with the Blade to get some information crucial to protecting the eastern side of the universe from the empire, or whatever. Basically, he’s here on Voltron’s orders, because the Blade has resources and reach Voltron never could. He’d left willingly and on good terms with his team, this time, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still sacrificing something to return. Of course he is. 

Lance’s smile starts to fade, as if he’s noticed Keith’s turn of mood, and he sits back from where he’d had his legs propped up, serious now. 

“Hey, you okay?” he asks, gently as ever. Keith sighs, irritated with himself for bringing the tone of their conversation down, but Lance doesn’t like him hiding his emotions.

So he responds truthfully. “I’m...struggling, a little. It’s just hard being away from you guys and back...here. When I thought I wouldn’t ever be back.” 

Lance nods, radiating concern and understanding. Keith’s heart gives a painful tug. 

“It’s different now, though,” he says, leaning up towards the camera. “Worlds different, you know? You’ll be back soon. You--You’re still talking to us, checking in, you haven’t disappeared. And...” Lance clears his throat, casting his eyes away from the screen. “Well, I hope you know that you’re worth so much just as a person, now, and that we all love you. I love you. Not just, like, your cool knife.” 

Keith chuckles, warmed by Lance’s words, as he always is. “I know. Talking with you guys helps. Especially you.”

Lance smiles, looking back at the screen again, eyes soft and adoring and wow, Keith really got this lucky, didn’t he? It’s overwhelming. 

“I love you too,” he breathes, voice quiet and crackling a little from how low he’s speaking. He presses the tablet into his fingers, wanting to touch Lance but knowing he can’t. 

“God, don’t say it like that,” Lance cries, startling Keith out of his tenderness. Lance is blushing. Hard. “You’re so emo, I hate you, I thought we were gonna have cyber sex or something, not write love letters to each other.” 

“Don’t you like love letters?” Keith returns with a smirk. “Guess I’ll never try to be romantic again, then.” 

“I didn’t say that,” Lance mumbles, and then sticks his tongue out childishly. Keith does the same back at him. 

“I’m not sure how to have cyber sex, anyway,” Keith continues, raising his eyebrows meaningfully at Lance. “Show me?”

Lance sputters, back at full embarrassment, and Keith just smiles and smiles, amused by his antics and endeared by the flush he can barely see through the camera covering his body. 

Yeah. Things are different now. So, so much better. 

(Keith does end up learning how to have cyber sex, later. He thinks it’s only so fun because it’s Lance teaching him.)

Chapter Text

“Here, kitty, kitty...” Keith mumbles, holding his hand out, palm up, towards the black cat skulking a few feet away, looking at him with wide, yellow eyes. Keith’s been crouching in this same spot for about ten minutes now, having a face-off with this cat (whom he’s dubbed Kuro, because that’s black in Japanese and sounds slightly cooler than just calling them “black”), trying to get it to come closer and being met only with lanterned eyes in return. 

Seriously, he’s tried everything; he’s stood still, he’s walked toward it, he’s clicked his mouth, he even meowed at it once and he swears it snorted a little with laughter at that. Keith’s regarding it as a personal insult that this cat won’t just come up and let him pet it, goddamn it, why do you hate me Kuro--

Keith?”

Keith jumps and whirls around, but fails to get his footing as he does, resulting in him yelping and falling backwards, head landing (painfully) just in front of the black cat. The cat sniffs a little and then walks past Keith, toward whoever called his name. 

Brimming with embarrassment, Keith slowly raises his body and looks to see who it is.

Lance? Lance McClain? 

What are you doing here,” Keith asks flatly, trying to ignore how Lance is shaking with barely suppressed laughter right in front of him. 

Um, I live here?” Lance responds once he’s calmed down a little, raising his eyebrows. “Other people live here besides you, mullet.” 

“Don’t call me that,” Keith says automatically, but there’s not much heart in it; Keith and Lance have been in the same science class for two semesters now, and they somehow always end up paired together, so he’s gotten used to the nicknames. 

Maybe too used to them, if the pleased flutter in his chest is anything to go by.

So preoccupied was Keith with sussing out why Lance was there (and why he felt so much lighter upon seeing him), Keith doesn’t notice until now that the cat has disappeared, and he jumps to his feet and looks around, panicked, before he sees it. 

No. Way. 

Fuck you,” Keith hisses, pointed to that cat--that cat, who’s purring and swirling itself around Lance’s ankles, rubbing against him like they’re the best of friends and they’ve teamed up to torment Keith in the worst way possible, jesus christ. 

“Woah, Keith, what?” Lance says, alarmed, raising his hands as Keith glares, seething with fury, at Kuro, who has now settled, belly-up in front of Lance’s feet, purring loudly. 

Kuro!” Keith cries by way of response, but all this incites from Lance is a few confused blinks. “The--The, the, the cat!” Keith’s having trouble getting words out right now, he’s so angry. 

Bemused, Lance looks down and, seemingly for the first time, registers the purring black bundle below him. He smiles, leans down and gives it a pet, and then faces Keith again. 

“Um, yeah?”

“I’ve--I’ve been trying to get them to come near me for, like, fifteen minutes,” Keith says morosely, putting his head in his hands. “Wouldn’t do it. But then you come, and they immediately go to you! That’s not fair!” 

“Awww, Keith!” Lance croons, stepping deftly over the kitty to gather Keith in his arms. This action shocks the anger right out of Keith, and he can do nothing but still and let himself be hugged, feeling warmth seep through him and smelling Lance’s smell. It’s good. Of course it is. 

“You’re adorable, Keithers,” Lance says, finally letting him go but keeping a hold on his shoulders. Keith feels his sadness at the cat wash back, and he slumps.

“Why does it hate me?” he says, hanging his head. Lance’s mouth trembles, and Keith can tell he’s being mocked again. He throws Lance a scowl. 

“It doesn’t hate you, oh my god,” Lance replies gently. “Look--animals like me, I don’t know, maybe it saw your grumpy face and thought you wanted to be left alone. But, here--” Lance lets Keith’s shoulders go and crouches down, hand out. Kuro trots up to him happily and allows themself to be scratched behind the ears. 

“C’mon, mullet, get down here,” Lance says, waggling his eyebrows. Skeptical but willing, Keith does, lowering himself to Lance’s level and weakly holding his hand out as well.

Lance shakes his head. “No, I’ll bring them to you. Just wait.” 

Frowning, Keith retracts his hand, hoping Lance isn’t trolling him--or worse, that the cat hates him and will only allow Keith to touch them if Lance makes them. 

Slowly, though, Lance uses his other hand to grab Keith’s and lift it, continuing to pet Kuro the entire time. Keith lets himself be guided, torn between wondering what Lance is doing and thinking about how warm Lance’s hand is, how good he smells, sweet and warm and cute--

Oh,” Keith breathes suddenly, when Lance deftly replaces his own petting hand with Keith’s. Kuro stays calm, seemingly not noticing the change, and Keith’s eyes light up. Kuro’s fur is soft, feather-light, and he strokes their body happily, feeling tears spring to his eyes when not only does the cat continue purring, but transfers its affection from Lance to Keith, rubbing up against him and even giving him a tiny lick to the knee. 

“You’re magic,” Keith whispers, staring up at Lance with awe and wonderment. Lance laughs, though his cheeks are tinged with red, and he stands with his hands in his pockets. 

“Just takes a little convincing with you types,” he says, making Keith roll his eyes. “I’m willing to help you pick up cats anytime, though, Kogane. Just text.”

Keith snorts and joins Lance, adjusting the scarf around his neck. Suddenly emboldened, perhaps from the success of petting a street cat or maybe because Lance looks adorable blushing, Keith asks in a rush, “Are you busy right now? You can come over to my apartment, if you want. As a thank you for this. I have hot chocolate.” 

Keith doesn’t know what he expected, but Lance’s radiant smile and happy bounce certainly isn’t it. “Well, you do owe me,” Lance says, but the affect is ruined by his sparkling eyes. It makes Keith’s heart beat quicker. “Lead the way, samurai.” 

Keith rolls his eyes and nods, taking Lance’s hand and pulling him forward. Neither of them notice Kuro trotting along with them, content to observe. Keith gives them a little cat nip as an apology later, though.

Chapter Text

Keith whines, pleasure thrumming through his body, and bends forward slightly to press his forehead into Lance’s.

Lance,” he croons, thighs shaking where they’re wrapped around Lance’s waist, struggling to hold him up even with the sturdy support of the table he’s sitting on and Lance’s warm hands making sure he doesn’t fall. “You feel good, you’re so good, fuck--” 

“Keith,” Lance hisses, the name long and drawn out with a note of warning even as he continues to push into Keith over and over, gripping his thighs hard. “Be quiet, I--I love hearing you, but we’re gonna get caught, this is already dangerous--”

“Yeah, yeah, got it.” Keith lifts his hips, forcing Lance deeper, and they both pull together with sharp gasps and choked moans. “Fuck me.” 

In hindsight, Keith would probably admit that this wasn’t one of his best ideas; he’d practically ambushed Lance and pulled him into a nearby closet on the castle, acting entirely on impulse and his body’s demands without any other considerations. However, in Keith’s defense, Lance had responded more than enthusiastically, tonguing into his mouth the moment he understood what Keith was doing (wanting) and lifting him hastily onto the table the first chance he got. 

This was a two-player game, Keith will say. Not just his fault. His impulse might’ve started it, yeah, but it was not the only thing that continued it. 

It’s going to be over soon, though.

God, Keith,” Lance breathes, pausing his movements for a moment to lean forward and drop his head onto Keith’s shoulder. He presses a kiss there, light and sweet, and it makes Keith’s body shudder in an entirely different, wonderful way. He continues, “You’re gorgeous. So pretty, you’re really red right now and it’s hot and pretty and Jesus--” 

Keith buries his head into Lance’s neck in embarrassment, breaths coming in heaving bursts because he, like, still has a dick deep inside of him touching his prostate, but he’ll never turn down the chance to be all feelsy with Lance. It’s one of his favorite parts of their relationship. 

“Glad you’re not mad at me for dragging you into a closet to have sex,” Keith responds in a breathy voice, squirming a little. Lance keens at the movement, but his smile is gentle when he finally lifts his head and turns to face Keith again.

“‘Course I’m not. But you are so irresponsible,” he reprimands, and then slowly picks his movements back up again. Keith can’t really respond, doesn’t think he has any, so instead he just tilts his head back and tries to be quiet as the boxes and miscellaneous objects around them creak and tingle together in tandem with Lance’s rhythm. 

Ah--!!” With a sharp cry, Keith realizes that Lance is speeding up, breathing fast and hard and pounding into him, just the way he knows Keith likes, and Keith has to slap a hand over his mouth to muffle the cacophony of noises escaping him, though that seems to spur Lance on further. 

“You sound so good, baby,” Lance whispers, voice strained, as he fucks into Keith. Keith only whines in response. “I’m gonna--I’m gonna come soon, is it okay if I--”

Yes,” Keith interrupts, dropping his hand from his mouth to make sure Lance hears him. “God, yes, don’t pull out.” 

Lance flushes, if possible, even darker, and nods wordlessly before moving his hands to Keith’s ass, keeping him still. 

The little noises Keith is making every time Lance goes in are momentarily drowned by Lance’s sharp gasp and loud cry, before he’s biting into Keith’s collarbone to quiet himself as he comes. Keith moans out as quietly as he can, feeling warmth spill inside of him, and seconds later he’s squeezing his legs and coming too--slightly louder than Lance, but still at an acceptable level, he thinks. 

It’s silent for a few moments except for their shared breathing. Keith is just starting to feel uncomfortably sticky when Lance says, “Guess I’m not very good at the impulse control thing, am I?” 

Keith huffs out a laugh. Lance’s dick is still buried in him, so it’s a little difficult to focus on what Lance is saying, but he gets the gist. “That’s, like, a Voltron thing. When it comes to this, I’d rather you weren’t good at it.” 

Shaking his head, Lance replies with a smile, “Not sure that’s good either. But it’s hard to say no to you.” He leans forward, then, and kisses Keith, long and slow and deep like their sex hadn’t been able to be, impromptu and secret as it was. Keith drinks it up like he’s dying of thirst, and when they both pull away he feels drowsy and sated and happy. 

Lance seems to notice this, because his next words are, “Come to bed with me? If you ever wanna leave this closet, anyway.”

“I’d love to,” Keith says, pushing their noses gently together. “We should probably figure out how to leave without...drawing attention to ourselves, though.”

They both look down and the sticky mess on their stomachs, clothes, and some of the closet objects, and cringe. 

Maybe bed will have to wait until after they get their hands on cleaning supplies. 

Chapter Text

Keith leans back on his space bike, laughing, appreciating the sand whooshing up behind him and Lance’s tight grip around his waist. 

“Scared, McClain?” Keith taunts, turning to grin behind him as they near the edge of a cliff. Lance meets his look with an icy glare, but that doesn’t last long; a second later he’s shrieking and burying his head in the crook of Keith’s shoulder as they’re suddenly airborne. Keith feels exhilarated, it’s just like flying, and Lance’s warm body pressed tightly up against him adds a whole new dimension to that familiar feeling. 

He’s not alone anymore, taking joyrides through the desert to find fleeting moments of adrenaline-soaked happiness in the midst of hours and days and months of nothing but sleepless nights and tireless planning in the middle of nowhere and with no one. 

Now, as Keith soars through the sky, deftly handling the controls on the piece of technology beneath him to ensure that he and Lance don’t crash-land into the desert rocks, he’s thinking about the fact that his friends are waiting for him back at the little diner they’d promised to meet at--his friends, he has friends, a whole group of them that he loves and cares about. And Lance--Lance is here, invading (once again) his personal activity, insisting he come with Keith because he “wants a do-over of the first time,” and Keith never thought he’d be so happy to let somebody else engage with something he holds so close to himself, something he never thought would be anybody but him. 

“Keith, you’re insane, pull UP pull up pull up pull up ohmyGOD--” Lance wails in his ear, making Keith laugh again, and he revs the engine before pulling back, swooping them upward and catapulting them into the reddish sky. 

“Don’t you trust me?” Keith asks, cheeky, and Lance slaps his side but doesn’t comment. Keith glances behind him to make sure he’s okay and finds that he’s staring, wide-eyed, around him, and oh, this is his first time seeing things like this, isn’t it? He looks awe-inspired, something Keith can relate to. 

God, he’s pretty. Keith’s heart swells with love. 

Choosing not to say anything and ruin the moment, Keith pulls to the side and tilts the bike downward, leading them back to the ground. Lance seems to snap out of his reverie, and Keith notes with some satisfaction that he’s not clutching onto him for dear life anymore--yeah, that experience tends to calm him too.

Keith guides them back towards the sandy, solid ground off the edge of the cliff, and they come to a floating stop, sand swirling around them. 

After swinging his legs over the side of the bike and hopping off, Keith turns to Lance and extends his hand, tiny smirk playing on his lips and eyes alight. Lance rolls his eyes but takes it, wobbling down off the bike. 

“You’re insane for enjoying that so much,” Lance says, dusting sand off of his clothes. “I feel so unprotected; if we crash, we’re dead!” 

“That’s why it’s fun,” Keith replies, mockingly playing up his impulsive image. “Danger. It’s sexy.” 

Lance stares at Keith for a second, blinking, and then bursts out laughing. Startled but pleased, Keith joins, and a moment later Lance has his arms around him, hugging tight. 

“Dork,” he says fondly, breaking away and thumbing Keith’s cheek. “Thanks for taking me. It was fun.” 

Keith smiles, happy that Lance actually did like it, and slips his hands into Lance’s. “Anytime. You’re fun to ride with.” 

At this, Lance waggles his eyebrows suggestively, and Keith scoffs, hitting his arm. “Oh, shut up,” he says, sidestepping Lance and moving towards his bike, ready to close her up for the day.

“Hurry up,” Lance says, leaning back onto the bike and getting in Keith’s way. “We can’t keep the others waiting, they’ll think we’re off having sex or something.”

Keith laughs, but the thought of others waiting for him--for them, for him and Lance, his boyfriend--warms him more than he’ll admit. 

“Yeah,” he says, finishing up the last few buckles. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

“Keith, did you let someone draw on you?”

Keith sighs, sending a silent curse up to god before turning around in the front door, rubbing at his arm self-consciously in the face of Shiro’s bemused and slightly alarmed expression.

“Um,” he says, “yes?”

Shiro stares at him for a good thirty seconds, which just makes Keith equal parts embarrassed and annoyed. What’s the big deal?

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Keith finally snaps, narrowing his eyes. “Is there some innuendo that I’m not aware of?”

“What—” Shiro shakes his head, seeming to clear it. “No, there isn’t, I just...” Shiro trails off, and Keith allows himself a moment to feel relieved that this whole thing isn’t a big coded-joke that he wasn’t in on. But then Shiro is talking again.

“I just...You know, you just don’t seem like the type of person to let someone do that to you. I’m just surprised, that’s all.”

“...Oh.” Keith shifts where he stands, suddenly feeling awkward, because Shiro had hit it a little too on the nose for his liking.

“Can I...ask who the artist is?” Shiro’s voice is carefully polite and only a little curious, but Keith can tell that he’s absolutely dying to know who it is that Keith has apparently formed such a connection to. Keith would be exasperated—well, is exasperated—but Shiro has been with him through a lot, and Keith would do anything to try to assuage some of the worry about him that he knows Shiro carries around all the time.

So, he decides to give him this one. It’s not like Shiro will ever actually meet him anyway.

“It’s, um...this boy named Lance. He sits in front of me in Calculus.” And we’ve studied together after school a few times. And he invited me over to sit with him at lunch. And he never agrees with me but now he always smiles whenever we talk. And he smiles like the sun. And I really, really like him.

“Lance, huh?” Shiro grins, and Keith doesn’t miss the relief in his eyes. “I’ll keep that name on tab, then, shall I?”

“Shut up,” Keith says easily, shoving lightly at Shiro while he passes him, finally deeming the conversation light enough to carry on elsewhere. “He’s just a friend.”

“I’m glad that he’s a friend,” Shiro replies. Keith hears the unspoken, “I’m glad that you have a friend” clearly.

He mutters a quiet, “So am I,” but he doesn’t think Shiro hears it. That’s okay. He doesn’t have to.

Chapter Text

Mmh--AH!” Lance yelps, yanking his neck away from Keith’s mouth and slapping a hand over it, wide-eyed. Keith looks panicked, and while Lance is definitely just a little alarmed at the sharp pain that just coursed through his throat, he doesn’t want Keith to feel bad or anything, so he hurriedly moves his hands to Keith’s shoulders and tries to look calm. 

“What--What? What happened? Wait, oh my god--” Keith cuts himself off, eyes bulging, and raises his hands to his mouth in disbelief. “You--You’re bleeding.” 

Lance, thrown once again, slowly moves one hand back to his neck, dabbing tenderly, and discovers that, yes, there’s definitely a wetness there that isn’t saliva. When he pulls his hand back and sees the red, he feels a little dizzy. 

“Did--Did you bite me that hard?” Lance whispers, a little in awe. Keith still has his hands covering his mouth, looking striken. He doesn’t respond. He kind of looks like he’s about to cry. 

“Woah, hey,” Lance says gently, pushing himself back up and circling his arms around Keith. “I’m fine, it’s not that bad, I’m just, like, shocked.”

“I didn’t think I was biting that hard,” Keith breathes.

“I didn’t think you were either.” Lance hums a little, vaguely bemused, and absently rubs at his neck, trying to stem the blood flow. It seems like it was just a prick, because his neck already feels dryer, and his fingers don’t come back tainted with as much blood as they had before. Keith had just pricked him? How...? 

“Keith?” Lance says slowly, suddenly remembering that he’s dating a half-alien. A half-alien whose alien side is weirdly...catlike. “Can I, uh, see your teeth?”

Keith stares. “My teeth?” 

Lance nods sheepishly.

Seeming incredibly suspicious and self-conscious, Keith leans forward and, after a brief pause, opens his mouth for Lance’s view. Lance wastes no time, peering into it, and immediately finds what he’s looking for--in his top row of teeth, nestled in between other normal teeth, are a set of fangs, pearly-white and pointed. 

Fangs. Keith has fangs. 

You, uh...” Lance shakes his head a little in disbelief, kind of wanting to laugh. “You have fangs.”

Keith gasps and slams his mouth shut, covering it with his hands again. “I h--I have fangs?” 

Yeah,” Lance exhales, brushing Keith’s hands aside and touching his lips. “Do you always have them? I haven’t noticed before.”

“I--I--” Keith stutters, and Lance notices that he’s flushed dark red, splotched and pretty and he has fangs, jesus christ. “I mean--I get Galra characteristics when I’m feeling strongly, I think--like, people said my eyes turned yellow when I was doing the Blade test, so maybe that’s why...”

“You’re feeling that strongly?” Lance smiles, stroking a piece of Keith’s hair behind his ear. He feels warmed, and excited, because he turns Keith on enough that he goes a little Galra. That’s a lot to take in. 

Keith flushes, if possible, even darker. “Shut up! I can’t control it, this is so embarrassing--”

“No it’s not, cariño,” Lance purrs, nuzzling up against Keith and nipping a little at his ear. Keith gasps. “It’s--It’s kind of flattering. And kind of hot. And really cool.” 

Keith huffs out a laugh, and Lance is pleased to hear the note of relief in his voice as he does. He doesn’t want Keith to feel ashamed for anything, ever--especially not something as hot as this. 

Wow, Lance is kind of into this, huh? You learn something new every day. 

“You’re so weird,” Keith says, but then he swipes his tongue across his fangs, mocking and newly confident, and Lance’s stomach swoops. 

“I’m just into you, Kogane,” he responds, leaning forward and capturing Keith’s lips, licking into his mouth and tonguing over his sharp teeth, and wooooow, that’s a new sensation. So he does it again. And again. And again. 

The next morning, Lance wakes up with a plethora of lovebites and cuts all over his body, already mottling purple on his neck and thighs. He turns over, only wincing a little, and carefully peers into Keith’s mouth to to examine his teeth. No fangs to be seen. Keith is sleeping peacefully. 

Chuckling, Lance lays back down, thinking of all the things he can do that might get those sharp teeth back on his body. He’s got a few ideas to test out. 

Chapter Text

sometimes i think that my life is color coded. i don’t think that’s that weird, because i was like, destined to be the pilot of the red lion or whatever so fate is clearly a thing, but it’s weird to think back on all the times that Red specifically has been in my life. not sure if i’m just adding significance to something because of all that’s happening now, but it seems too coincidental to not mean something.

like, when i was seven or whatever, i had this pencil case and it was my favorite. out of all the pencil cases, that one was the one i always used, no matter how many times dad bought me a new one after seeing the red one falling apart. it was just this cylindrical, sort of japanese-style pencil case, nothing special, but it was mine and i loved it. and it was red.

and after dad died (which was in a FIRE, does that have something to do with me being a paladin? does Everything have something to do with me being a fucking paladin?) and i was in the foster system, it felt like every house i went to had one area that was safe, and that area always had something red in it. at the jones’ it was a red loveseat. at the deltoro’s it was red curtains. i think even the ngyuen’s had a red pillow that i become attached to. red red red.

after shiro i obviously had the red jacket. two red jackets if you count after the kerberos mission. lance makes fun of it a lot, which is fair i guess, but also it looks good and it’s cooler than his stupid jacket so maybe he should shut up actually. anyway it was those. more Red!

and like. i was wearing that red bandanna when i rescued shiro, and when i first saw lance. maybe i’m just being gay and cringe but that might mean something? i guess it’s kind of a weak connection. i guess we’ll see if he ever likes me back.

…not likely.

anyway, i guess red is my color. it kind of has to be my favorite; it represents ME now, all these different parts of my life, and now i have my lion and shes great and we’re so cool together. maybe i just have stockholm syndrome with the color red. wouldn’t be surprised at this point.

i just think the universe could’ve been a little subtler. like you were kinda on the nose with the whole “red string of fate” thing. try harder.

ugh anyway i’m really bad at this so i’m leaving now, bye.

ok wait this is a few months later and we had to switch lions and lance got red. what the fuck what the fuck what the FUCK

Chapter Text

“...so, I don’t know what to do. And he’s clueless. And I’m, like, reaching my limit,” Keith finishes, looking up nervously at Hunk’s (rather bemused but still understanding) face. He’d come to him because, well, they’re friends, and Hunk is great, and Hunk gets Lance, and he wants to talk to someone about this that is actually his age and not too old or too young. 

And Hunk is great. Did Keith already mention that? It bears repeating: Hunk is great. 

Well, Keith, I, uh...” Why does he look like he’s trying not to laugh? “How should I put this? I think the two of you have more in common than you think.”

Keith blinks. “I guess? We’re both good at fighting, and, uh...We’re paladins?” This wasn’t the conversation Keith had been planning. Yeah, they had things in common; so what? How did that help Keith tell Lance he likes him? 

Hunk huffs out a laugh, shaking his head. “Yeah, no, I--Okay, different route. You know Lance isn’t straight, right?”

Keith nods. 

“Okay. Well. You know how he likes to flirt with people? Like, constantly? To a possible-compensating-for-something kind of degree?”

“Yeah,” Keith responds a little crossly, folding his arms. “It’s annoying. Like, why do you want to date everyone? You barely even know those people.”

“Right, right, yeah.” Hunk sounds tired. “Okay, but like--have you noticed what his flirting is? Cheesy pick-up lines, mostly, not meant for anything permanent. It’s--it’s joking, you know? Not serious.” 

Well, that’s some new information, at least. It does kind of comfort Keith, to know that maybe Lance’s flirting doesn’t really mean anything, that he’s just a flirt by nature and nothing else. But then why is he so fixated on Allura...? 

“What I’m trying to say,” Hunk continues, “is that that type of flirting? Not real. But, in all the years I’ve known Lance, there’s one thing he tends to fall back on when he wants to flirt but doesn’t think he can, or doesn’t know how.”

Keith raises his eyebrows. “Okay...”

“He makes fun of them! Competes with them. Shows off in front of them. Pretends to dislike them but always stands next to them, always talks to them, always talks about them, maybe even makes a rivalry--do you see what I’m getting at?” 

Hunk is looking very imploringly at Keith right now, eyes big and round and full of are you getting this? please tell me you’re getting this energy, but Keith doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. What’s not to get?

“So who is his rival?” Keith asks, crestfallen and a little frustrated. There’s an audible slap as Hunk’s palm connects to his face. 

“Keith, you’re joking right now, right?” Hunk asks, seeming completely genuine. 

Keith shakes his head. 

“Oh my god--Okay, Keith, do you remember what Lance said to you when you first met?” Hunk tries again, talking very slowly this time. 

Yeah, Keith has to think for a moment on that one; that entire day was just a blur. 

“’Nonononono, I’m rescuing Shiro,’ or something,” Keith parrots. His Lance impression is actually pretty spot on, he thinks, annoying cadence and all. 

Hunk snorts. “After that?”

After thinking for a moment, Keith says, “’I’m a pilot’?” 

There’s a beat of silence. 

After that?” Hunk presses, eyes once again pleading, pleading Keith to understand something, but what? What is Keith not getting? 

Uh, ‘Lance and Keith, neck and neck, rivals’?” he tries, voice hitching high in question. 

Yes!” Hunk says happily, grinning wide and clapping his hands together. “You see?” 

They stare at each other. 

“Huh,” Keith says. Hunk lets out an anguished wail and covers his face again. 

The rival thing? And how that’s his way of showing that he likes people sometimes?” he says, voice strained with held-back laughter and a certain kind of amazement. Keith has no idea what’s going on. 

“We aren’t real rivals. That was just a dumbass thing Lance said to make me mad,” Keith says, waving his hand dismissively. 

Hunk lifts his head and stares. And stares. And stares. 

“You’re not joking with me?” he finally asks, voice weak and resigned for some reason. Okay, Keith is getting a little sick of this; he feels like they’re talking in circles for no reason. 

“Hunk, I really wish you’d just say what you want to say instead of making me figure out weird smart-people codes that I don’t understand. I’m not Pidge,” Keith says crossly, narrowing his eyes a little. Hunk actually laughs. 

“You’re hopeless.” Hunk strides over and claps his hands onto Keith’s shoulders, looking him firmly in the eyes. “I am only going to say this once, because I’m already risking my life to do it if Lance ever finds out--god, Lance, I’m sorry, but you’re both idiots--and you need to listen close.”

Then, leaning his head close, so close that their noses are pressing together, Hunk shakes the bemused Keith a little and says, in a voice loud and clear, “Lance likes you. You. Keith Kogane. Lance McClain likes Keith Kogane. Okay?” 

Keith blinks, a calm little smile unfolding and playing on his face. Hunk watches closely, unnerved. 

And then Keith opens his mouth and shouts, “HE WHAT?!!” 

Hunk breathes a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank god.

Chapter Text

“Are you--Are you sure Red’s off?” Lance whispers harshly, still kissing and biting at Keith’s neck, and Keith lets out a frustrated noise, tilting his head away from Lance’s prying mouth and glaring.

“For the hundredth time,” Keith starts in a clipped but still rather ragged voice, “I would know if she’s on, I can feel it, she’s not on.”

“I’m just paranoid!” Lance replies defensively. He shifts a little on the pilot’s chair, making Keith hiss in pleasure and wriggle on his lap, which sufficiently gets back at Lance for the movement.

“Be more paranoid about timing,” Keith says, already fumbling with the buttons and zipper on Lance’s belt. “C’mon, c’mon, I want you.”

Lance laughs, and it’s full of marveling disbelief. “So eager,” he teases, but he helps Keith along, and they’re both undressed within a minute. 

“So pretty,” Lance hums, skating his hands across Keith’s skin, making him shiver. He’s already cold from the control panel pressing into his back, this is not helping. 

Flushed with embarrassment, Keith just shudders under the attention and climbs back into Lance’s lap. They both sigh when their bodies connect, dark skin against pale, and Keith hums in appreciation at the hard, velvet heat pressed against his thigh. 

“Already?” he asks playfully, trailing a single finger across Lance’s jawline. Lance huffs, but Keith doesn’t miss how he colors red. 

“Aren’t we supposed to be rushing?” he asks instead of responding, lifting his hips up suggestively. Keith moves his own in a slow, tight circle, grinding down on top of Lance in answer. 

“Mmm, maybe.” 

Their lips connect again, and it doesn’t take long for the kiss to turn hot and needy; their tongues slide across each other in sloppy, slick motions, and Keith keeps moving and grinding into Lance’s lap, turning him on and feeling him harder underneath him. He knows he’s in the same place in no time. 

“Wanna--?”

Yes.” 

Keith lifts his ass, breaths coming in heavy bursts tinged with desperation as he watches, transfixed, Lance’s hand wrap around his own dick and position it squarely below him, thick and hard and leaking. Lance is resolutely looking away, dark skin hued red, but when Keith starts to settle back on top of him he gasps and his eyes shoot downward, gazing intensely as Keith takes him in. Keith’s eyes flutter shut and he sighs out a quiet moan, falling forward and ducking his head into Lance’s shoulder when he’s done. 

“Feel okay, baby?” Lance murmurs, the breathy quality of his voice betraying his excitement. Keith nods, feeling full, feeling connected, feeling Lance. 

“You feel good,” Keith slurs, leaning back and wincing at the wave of pleasure his motion causes. Once he’s recovered, he bounces a little, an action which has Lance clapping a hand over his mouth and thrusting upward in an aborted, tiny movement, as if he’s trying to control himself. 

Fuck,” he swears, and Keith nods, feeling a little dizzy himself. He does it again, a wet slap of a motion, and Lance grabs his shoulders so hard that Keith thinks it might leave bruises, and asks, “C-Can I--fuck, can I, like...?”

He thrusts upward again, into Keith, drawing a yelp quickly followed by a moan and vigorous nodding. Lance exhales shakily and nods, hips coming up again, and Keith meets him, bobbing up and down on his dick in quick, fast motions, pulling them together even more. It feels slick and hot, sliding against him in and out but never fully out, because Keith is sitting on him, so Keith never really gets the sensory break being truly fucked would give him and it starts to make him dizzy, dizzy, dizzy. 

Feeling a little unstable, Keith grapples the controls beside him, slipping his hands over buttons and switches to try to find something to hold onto, gasping and moaning all the while as Lance’s arms circle around his waist and he pushes deeper, hitting Keith’s prostate, and god if that doesn’t make Keith’s head spin. 

His hand falls away from the controls, which make a plethora of sad beeping noises as it does, and Lance chuckles, leaning forward to nibble at the red shell of Keith’s ear. 

“You can hold on to me,” he offers cheekily, and then pushes in particularly insistently, all but forcing Keith to cry out and grab onto his shoulders. 

“Shut up, shut up,” he hisses, flushed both from embarrassment and the feeling of Lance sliding against his walls, dripping come inside of him and he’s so big and Keith feels so, so full--

“You’re so good, baby, fuck,” Lance says, grip on Keith’s waist tightening as he starts fucking into him as best he can. The wet slap against his ass every time Lance goes in, hard and intense, fills the room, every second loud and intense and matched only by Keith’s whining as he bounces and keens into Lance. 

“More, more, more harder harder harder, Lance--” Keith mewls insistently, needing to feel Lance inside of him as much as he can, slamming himself downward and crying out when he feels his body connect with Lance’s hips. He stops moving, letting out a tiny oh and sways a little. Lance, who had gasped sharply and now has a hand resolutely covering his mouth, lets out a low, broken moan. 

“Holy shit, Keith,” he says--well, whines is more like it--finally retracting his hand and staring at Keith with wide, dark eyes. “Are you--Are you okay? Is everything okay?” 

Yes,” Keith breathes, moving experimentally and feeling a jolt of hot arousal course through his body when he feels Lance up into his pelvis. “Perfect, yes, keep going--” And Keith starts pumping his body on Lance’s dick again, moaning every time Lance goes in, and it feels so good to be so full, so full of Lance, and he’s slamming his body down, making Lance fuck into him hard and fast, and Lance is a blur of dark skin and rambling words, pushing in in in and filling him so good-- 

“Keith,” Lance moans, but it sounds more urgent, so Keith briefly tunes back in to hear what he’s saying. “Keith, I’m gonna--I’m gonna come.”

“Okay,” Keith responds immediately, doing his best to keep his movements going even as they talk. “Don’t leave, don’t, just come in me, I don’t care--” 

Before Keith is even finished talking Lance is already tipping over the edge, grabbing Keith’s hips and holding him still as he fucks into him one, two, three more times, and with a broken, breathy cry Keith feels him come, wet and hot, into him. As he does, Keith wraps a hand around his own dick, knowing he’s close, and strokes it fast and tight, and that in combination with the feeling of Lance’s come filling him up, spilling out and around the dick that’s still up his ass--yeah. Keith comes within about ten seconds. 

There’s a moment of silence except for their shared breathing. Keith still has Lance inside of him, so he’s having trouble calming down; he taps Lance’s shoulder lightly and, flushed and sweaty, looks pointedly down. 

“Oh!” Lance says, snapping to attention. “Right, yeah, sorry--” 

He shifts to the side and allows Keith to raise a little for him to pull out, which he does gently, but Keith still whines as it happens and gasps at the wet pop signaling it’s done. 

“Thanks,” Keith says in a small voice, awkwardly settling back on Lance’s lap despite the sticky mess they’ve both made there. 

And on the controls. 

And on the pilots chair. 

“Jesus,” Lance says into the silence. Keith nods warily. But then, surprising Keith, Lance pulls him close into a truly ridiculous hug, dicks still out and everything. Keith must really be gone for him if the happy butterflies in his chest are still erupting even from that. 

“Love you,” Lance murmurs into Keith’s neck, sounding sated and happy. Keith sags against him and hugs back. 

“Love you too, idiot,” he responds, nuzzling against him. Lance chuckles and squeezes him just slightly before letting go and looking around them. 

“...We probably need to clean this up, don’t we?” 

Keith snorts. “Yeah, I’d rather not have to operate come-soaked controls the next time I have to fly,” he replies in a deadpan voice. Lance looks scandalized. 

“Keith!” he cries, voice high-pitched. “You can’t--Don’t just say things like that, oh my god, you’re so embarrassing.” 

Keith shrugs, a tiny smile playing on his lips, and slowly climbs off of Lance’s lap. To his credit, he’s only a little wobbly. 

“C’mon, loverboy,” he says, shucking his pants back up. “Let’s clean.” 

Lance lets out a resigned sigh and a whiny, “why can’t we just pillow talk after sex like normal people?”, but follows closely behind. 

Red watches them go with deadly, deadly precision. This is what she gets for choosing the gay impulsive one, isn’t it? 

She’s definitely forcing Keith into a deep dive the next time he tries to fly her. 

Chapter Text

Enamored. 

Lance learned the word in sixth grade. “To be filled with a feeling of love for,” the dictionary says it means. Lance thought the word was cool--big and romantic and dazzling, in his sixth grade mind--but never really found the chance to use it, even in high school when he started dating. “Enamored” was never the word he would’ve chosen with those girls or boys. Infatuated, maybe. Interested, sure. But enamored? Never. 

However, there is one person that Lance has been enamored with since Freshman year. 

Keith Kogane. Of course it is. 

Now, Lance will admit that he’s tweaked the definition a bit in the past to suit his particular tastes. It’s not his fault that the first time he was faced with Keith and his unparalleled excellence at school that his brain immediately flashed the word “enamored” in front of his eyes. Lance decided that, in this instance, enamored meant “fascinated by.” He was fascinated by Keith because he had swept in, stolen lance’s chances at being top of the class, and hasn’t let up since. 

So, yes. He’s been enamored on that level since Freshman year. But, near the middle of the second semester of Sophomore year, Lance tweaked the definition again. 

He got paired up with Keith for some English problem--create a presentation about Jekyll and Hyde, or something like that. Lance was originally hotly dissatisfied with this, and greeted Keith with a not-altogether-friendly disposition. Keith looked bemused, but brushed it off easily at first, and Lance was too startled to ask about it.

They worked on the project at Lance’s house, and that’s when Lance realized he had to change his definition. Watching Keith interact with his younger siblings was almost as adorable as it was surprising--Keith was actually really good with kids, despite claiming vehemently that he didn’t like them. He was a nice balance of quiet to their loudness, understood their wish to do things now, and was subtly gentle enough to keep them satisfied and in line. It was sort of amazing to watch. 

Lance might have started liking Keith at that point, if only because he realized that this dark, brooding, mysterious cryptid of a boy actually had a normal, kind of soft side. 

And then they got down to the academic side of things. And Lance was, honestly, amazed. 

Keith kind of deserved top spot with the way he was working. Diligent, efficient, determined, and utterly focused; Lance began to understand why he was so good at school. It wasn’t that he was smart; it’s that he was ten times more concentrated than everyone else. He wasn’t perfect, of course--he got frustrated too easily, wanted to give up if he wasn’t immediately good at something, and didn’t save much room in his thoughts for things like creativity--but Lance could see the perceptive skill in the way he went about things. It made him...almost admirable. 

So, Lance changed his definition to fit that. “Having a liking or admiration for” is what he settled on. He still hated Keith and fought with him constantly, of course, but he was pretty good at multitasking--he became very good at hating and admiring Keith at the same time.

And then came Senior year. 

They sat next to each other in study hall, where you had to be quiet, or you would get yelled at. This gave Lance the opportunity to really study the person he’d been so focused on throughout his high school career--study how Keith’s hair, however cringeworthy it was, fell impossibly perfectly into his face; how his fashion sense alternated between edgy reds and blacks to somber grays; how he mouthed words to himself while working on his foreign language homework. 

Little things. Little things that humanized Keith even more than his interaction with Lance’s siblings ever had, things that made him seem like less than a homework machine. Lance began to find himself staring at Keith more and more often, filing away these little habits and characteristics, and was foolish enough to think that Keith wouldn’t notice. 

He was wrong. Of course he was. 

He got an email one day on his school email, from none other than keith.kogane@lisd.gmail.com.” His heart sped up, and he clicked it more excitedly than he should have. 

keith.kogane: why are you always staring at me?

Lance licks his lips. Well, he was going to do this eventually. Might as well do it now. 

lance.mcclain: can’t i stare at someone i’m interested in? 

keith.kogane: ...interested?

lance.mcclain: 

in·ter·est·ed

ˈintrəstəd,ˈin(t)ərəstəd/

adjective

adjective: interested

     1.showing curiosity or concern about something or someone

lance.mcclain: but i’m sure you already knew the definition, mr. “i’m-number-one-nobody-can-touch-me.”

keith.kogane: ….you’re curious about me?

lance.mcclain: yes. i am. 

lance.mcclain: want to go to the mall after school? 

Keith suddenly sits up straight next to him, and Lance grins, choking back a laugh along with his own buzzing nerves. Is Keith even gay? What will he say? Is this weird? They’re kind of rivals, aren’t they? What if Keith doesn’t want--

keith.kogane: sure. let’s meet there by 4.

Lance’s smile isn’t impossibly wide or excited. It’s smaller, but more genuine, softer, and his eyes--though nobody can see them--are bright with happiness.

lance.mcclain: okay!! i can’t wait :) maybe you can share some study tips with me so i can finally beat you. 

keith.kogane: shut up, idiot.

The date goes wonderfully. Better than Lance had thought it would in a million years. Their arguments dissolve into banter, and over time, into genuine feeling and compliments. They team up on more projects, go on more dates. Lance’s mom begins to automatically set and extra plate out for Keith at dinner, since he’s constantly there. 

They get well acquainted with each other’s rooms, and in them, with each other. Lance is so deliriously happy, he thinks maybe god is setting him up for something horrible. Turning your rival into your friend shouldn’t be this easy, right?

But, it appears it was. And Lance realizes--one fall day when nothing particularly special is happening, when they’re just sitting in Keith’s small room and Keith is doing homework on his school computer--that he doesn’t just “like and admire” Keith Kogane anymore. 

He’s officially found someone to fit the original definition of enamored.

keith kogane, Lance declares over his school email that very second, i am enamored with you. 

Keith startles slightly at the ping! that sounds on his laptop, and goes to check his email. He looks at who it’s from, turns to Lance with a raised eyebrow, and proceeds to open it. Lance is resting his chin on his hands the whole time, smiling smugly and softly, and laughs when Keith begins blinking a lot and turning red. Flustered. Adorable. 

Keith primly types out a response and sends it before closing the browser and going back to his original homework. Lance shakes his head and returns to his laptop screen. 

you’re so cheesy. and embarrassing. i don’t know why i’m enamored with you too.

Lance feels warmth blossom in his chest, probably heating his cheeks in a similar way to Keith’s, and thinks to himself that, even if it took him four years and three separate definitions to arrive to this point, he’s glad that he finally proved the dictionary right.

Chapter Text

It doesn’t make any sense. 

Lance peers across the room at Keith, narrowing his eyes, gaze zeroed in on his stupid mullet. A mullet that, if Lance is remembering correctly, is the exact same length as it was when they entered space. 

Like. The exact. Same. Length.

Lance sidles over to Pidge, who is working on her computer on the couch. “Hey,” he says in a hushed voice, leaning towards her conspiratorially. “Does Keith’s hair ever change? Like...it looks the same as it did at the beginning. I never see him cut it.”

Pidge blinks and, for once humoring Lance, peeks over her computer and stares at Keith for a minute. 

She raises her eyebrows. “Huh. Yeah, you’re right. It’s exactly the same.”

Right?!” Lance says, emphatically nodding. “But he never cuts it. What’s up with that?” 

“Hey, Keith?” Pidge calls, and Keith starts and looks over. Lance gasps and jumps away from Pidge, glaring at her murderously. She wasn’t supposed to say anything! 

Pidge continues, unabashed, “Can you come over here for a second? I wanna see something.” 

Looking bemused and vaguely suspicious, Keith slowly stands and walks over. Lance’s eyes follow him the whole time. 

Keith comes to a stop in front of Pidge, folding his arms. “What?” 

“No, turn around,” Pidge instructs, waving her hand in a circle to indicate what Keith must do. Keith blinks three times but, apparently unable to think of anything truly sinister that him turning around could be a part of, turns his back on them. 

Pidge leans in close, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose. Lance joins her warily because, hey, if Keith’s here, why not inspect further and maybe get some answers? 

Weird,” Pidge says, brushing one of her fingers lightly on the edges of Keith’s hair. This, of course, causes Keith to whirl around, looking alarmed.

“What--What? What are you doing?” he asks, sounding nettled. Pidge soundly ignores him and turns to Lance instead. 

“There are no, like, cuts,” Pidge says, eyes shining. “Like. It looks like its never been cut. The edges aren’t sharp or anything.” 

What the fuck,” Lance replies with feeling, and they both turn again to stare critically at Keith. He looks unnerved. 

“What are you guys--” Keith begins, but Pidge cuts him off with a sudden, “Oh, wait! I’ve got it!” 

Both Lance and Keith watch, intrigued, as Pidge starts rummaging around in her bag, and a few seconds later she produces a roll of measuring tape. 

“Keith, turn around again,” she says, unfurling it and snapping it straight. Keith actually takes a step back, gazing with distress at the measuring tape. 

“What the fuck is going on--” 

“Just do it!” Pidge interrupts, and Keith is definitely not one to push Pidge over the edge when she’s determined about something, so he complies. Lance can relate. 

“Okay,” Pidge says eagerly, raising the tape to Keith’s head. “Let’s measure it and write it down, and then a few months later, we can measure it again and see if anything’s changed!” 

“Measure--my hair?” Keith says, incredulous, but gets no response. 

“That’s a great idea!” Lance supplies eagerly, clapping his hands together. “How long is it?” 

“Around 10.7 inches,” Pidge answers. She leans away from Keith, allowing him to turn around in all his annoyed, emo glory. 

“We’re watching you, mullet man,” Lance says seriously, pointing two fingers at his eyes and then at Keith. Pidge nods vigorously next to him. 

Keith stares at them both, utterly nonplussed. 

What?!” 


Two month pass, and Lance would like to say that the mullet problem left his mind during that time, but that wouldn’t be entirely truthful...or, truthful at all. Every time Lance looks at Keith, he tries to mentally calculate how much his hair has grown, and anything that makes Lance McClain do math by his choice has got to be weighing on his mind. Especially because, every time this happens, Lance’s results are inconclusive; he sometimes thinks he can see it lengthening a little, but every time upon closer inspection he doubles back and thinks no, it’s the same, and he goes on and on in circles like this, longing for the day when they can just measure it again and get it over with. 

Besides, Keith seems to be noticing Lance flitting about him, staring at his hair (even more than usual), and Lance doesn’t really want to deal with any weird gay-subtext confrontation that could result from that. 

So, when the day finally arrives to continue their experiment, Lance practically  bounces up to Pidge and drags her to Keith’s vicinity, which happens to be his room this time. 

“Keithers!” Lance calls, banging loudly on his door, Pidge snickering next to him. Keith appears a moment later, looking surprised and weirdly sleep--was he napping? 

Cute! Lance’s brain supplies. Lance tells his brain to fuck off. They have business to do. 

“Wait!” 

Lance, Pidge, and Keith turn to look down the hallway at the sudden call, and lo and behold, there’s Hunk, running quickly up to them. They watch silently as, panting, he catches up to them. 

Hands on his knees, he holds up one finger, signalling for them to wait a minute while he catches his breath. They all do, because Hunk is great, and they can be patient for him. 

Letting out a final sigh, Hunk raises up again. “Phew. Sorry, had to run from, like, the whole other side of the castle to get here in time. Anyway, Pidge told me about your hair experiment, and I wanted in. This has been bothering me for months.” 

“Me too!” Lance bursts out, shining, and hugs Hunk. “I knew we were born to be best friends. You get me.” 

Hunk laughs and ruffles Lance’s hair fondly while Pidge rolls her eyes. Keith is looking at all of them like they’ve lost their minds which, to be fair, maybe they have. 

“Alright, gang, let’s go in,” Lance declares, marching into Keith’s room without another word. Pidge follows and then Hunk, who does at least deign Keith with a sympathetic look. 

Keith is left standing in his own doorway, having just woken up from a well-deserved nap, wondering why the fuck his teammates are so goddamn weird. 


Fast forward a few minutes and some haggling, Pidge is holding the measuring tape up to Keith’s head again, Hunk and Lance crowded around and staring intently at it. 

Pidge lets the tape flutter down in disbelief. 

“10.7 inches,” she announces in a small voice. The effect is immediate. 

What!? You’re joking--” 

There is no way it’s the same--”

“What the fuck are you guys talking about?” 

Keith cuts them both off and everyone falls silent, turning to face him, seemingly having forgotten that he was even there. He looks like he’s at the end of his rope, which is fair. 

“Your hair,” Lance replies, exasperated. “Keep up.” 

“What about my hair?” Keith presses, looking glad to finally be getting some answers. 

“It, like, never changes,” Lance explains, shaking his head, because honestly, how is Keith this slow? “It’s the same length now as it was two months ago. Two months! Do you cut it? What gives?” 

Everyone stares at Keith expectantly, waiting for an explanation. He’s silent for a moment, thinking, and then, slowly, a smirk unfurls on his face. 

“Ohh, that makes sense. Okay,” he says simply, sitting down on his bed and stretching. Lance begins to feel helpless. 

“So... What gives?” Hunk repeats Lance’s words, looking around at both him and Pidge. The knowledge is slowly dawning on all of them. 

Keith is not going to help them solve this mystery. 

“What gives what?” Keith asks elusively, stretching back on his bed, arms behind his head. He’s still smirking. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. My hair is just my hair.” 

“Fuck you,” Pidge says with genuine vitriol. She points at him. “We’re gonna figure this out. I’ll be watching you like a hawk, even more than Lance does. We will answer this.”

“Yeah!” Lance says. And then, “Wait, I don’t watch him that mu--” 

“I’ll watch too!” Hunk adds, looking resolute. Keith is snickering. 

“Good luck with that,” Keith tells them, and then turns around, pulling out his Altean tablet. Lance feels enraged, and bested, and confused, because how the fuck does his hair stay the same for so long oh my GOD--

Watching you,” Lance says, walking backwards towards the door. Pidge and Hunk follow. “Every second of every day. Watching you.”

“Gay,” Keith replies, deadpan. Lance feels murderous. 

“Watching you!” 

With that, he whisks out the door, slamming it shut behind them. 

Someday, this mystery will be solved. 


“Hey, Keith, can you help me with--”

Lance stops dead. So does the figure standing in front of the fogged mirror, towel around his waist, droplets glistening across his skin, knife raised in front of a strand of hair.

Knife raised in front of a strand of hair. 

Knife raised in front of a strand of hair. 

Lance takes a deep breath and points magnificently at Keith. “YOU--!!” he gets out, but he doesn’t have time to say anything else, because the next second he’s being charged by an angry wet catboy holding a knife, and he shrieks and runs, trying to get out so he can tell the truth, the world needs to know--

You’re dead, McClain!” Keith shouts, chasing him down the hall away from the bathrooms, and Lance laughs, feeling exhilarated. 

Finally. He has proven that Keith Kogane is just a normal person like the rest of them. Now all he has to do is live long enough to get that information to the world.

"Catch me if you can, mullet!"

Oh, it's good to be right.

Chapter Text

“Oh, Lance, look at that one!” 

Keith rushes over to an ornate tombstone dressed up with gothic architecture and two black-marble spikes on either side of it. Lance shakes his head, amused, and follows more slowly, content to simply watch and appreciate his boyfriend’s excitement. 

“Lance, the stakes are black marble!” Keith says eagerly, pointing at the spikes. Lance climbs up the small hill leading to the tombstone, careful to avoid the...well, body definitely buried in front of it, and examines the spikes. They are, admittedly, pretty stellar; jet black stakes shooting from the ground, pointed high in the sky, taller than even the tombstone. Lance cradles his hot chocolate and admires them.

“Really cool,” he says genuinely, and Keith turns to him and nods vigorously in agreement, eyes shining. Lance chuckles. “I’ve never seen someone get so excited about tombstones like you do, mullet.” 

“Shut up,” Keith replies good-naturedly, sticking his tongue out. “Me and dad used to go to graveyards for fun and just walk around. They’re interesting. Like, look--”

Keith crosses the field over to a different tombstone and crouches down next to it. “’I told you I was sick,’” he reads out. Lance feels a small chill cross his body. “See? You don’t get stuff like that everywhere. It’s...meaningful.”

Standing and brushing aside the mottled orange and red leaves covering his pants, Keith finally returns to Lance, who’d been standing off to the side to watch. 

“What kind of dad takes their kid to a graveyard for fun?” Lance chuckles, setting his hot chocolate down and circling his arms around Keith. “That’s a little fucked up.” 

Keith rolls his eyes. “They’re just cool,” he says, and then stands on his tip-toes to reach up and give Lance a short peck. He licks his lips afterwards. “You taste like chocolate.” 

“I wonder why,” Lance mocks, looking pointedly at his hot chocolate. Keith swipes it from the ground and takes a long drought. “Hey!” 

Couples share,” Keith says cheekily. He hands the cup back to Lance. “C’mon.” 

They continue walking, staring around at the tombstones scattered like neighborhoods atop the leaf-covered ground and, silently and sturdy and just a little haunting. 

“Always so many crosses,” Keith remarks. He side-eyes Lance. “Weren’t you, like, Catholic? Any thoughts about this?” 

The question catches Lance off guard, so he just coughs out a bemused laugh at first. “Me having been Catholic doesn’t mean I have intense opinions on graveyards, Keith,” he says.

Keith rolls his eyes. “Not what I meant. Graveyards have something to do with death! Isn’t that religion is all about.” 

Marveling, Lance replies, “God, having an atheist upbringing must’ve been wild.” 

I wasn’t constantly in, like, an atheist house,” Keith mutters, kicking at some leaves. “Some of my foster parents tried to get me to go to church. Didn’t really work out, though.”

“I can imagine,” Lance says wryly. He puts an arm around Keith and pulls him close. “I don’t think about death much. We went through a war, I’m sick of death. I’d rather think about living.”

Keith just nods, giving Lance a tiny smile, and presses into him, folding an arm around him and squeezing tightly before letting go. He looks a little emotional.

“C’mon, back to spooky vibes,” Lance instructs, sliding his hand down Keith’s arm until he can entangle their hands. “I think I see a crypt over there. Wanna see if it’s unlocked?” 

Keith’s face brightens almost immediately and then he’s off, pulling Lance along and talking about how rich you have to be to get a crypt, how it’s wild that dead bodies are just out like that, how they look like something straight from Halloweentown or something, and Lance lets him, lets himself be pulled along. 

Going on a “graveyard date” had never quite been Lance’s idea of romance, or something he ever planned on doing, but if it got Keith this excited? He’d go as much as Keith wanted. 

He’s never staying the night, though. Hell no. 

Chapter Text

The first time Keith met Lance, he wasn’t sure what to make of him. 

It was, of course, not the most opportune time to meet, but part of that was Lance’s fault for barging in (where he wasn’t wanted) on Keith’s rescue attempt. Though he learned later from Pidge that the reason Lance had rushed in was, actually, because he saw Keith and not because he had a personal interest in saving Shiro, it still left him feeling a little nettled and searing. That couldn’t last long, though, considering the whirlwind of all that happened next, of the Blue Lion, of the aliens, of Voltron. 

Even so, Keith will never forget the first few seconds when Lance forced--literally--himself into Keith’s life, or the brazen boldness with which he did, and the indignation when Keith didn’t remember him. It stays in the back of his mind probably longer than it should. 

(They might have met. Not in any real way, though, Keith will stand by that. But Keith had met a lot of people that he didn’t pay attention to and didn’t remember, because he didn’t care. He was too wrapped up in himself and his own problems and rapidly changing life to pay attention to anyone who might’ve introduced themselves, even if they were Lance McClain. Keith will question, later, how he could have forgotten someone like that, but the damage was done.)

Things progressed much more quickly after that--Lance seemed utterly determined to hate him, and he dragged and spun Keith along with him partially against his will and partially with his consent, because Lance was kind of easy to be annoyed at. It was fiery and passionate and completely unnecessary, and it kept Keith teetering on the edge for a long, long time. 

Sometimes it was fun. It was fun to have somebody challenge him when nobody had before, at the Garrison, and he was all brooding and skilled and untouchable (or so Pidge tells him). 

Sometimes, though, all it was was exhausting, and irritating, and a little bit depressing. It made Keith feel like he’d done something wrong, like he’d fucked up just by existing, because why else would someone as bright and friendly and genuinely kind as Lance McClain hate him so much

Keith was no stranger to those feelings, to feeling like he’d fucked up just by existing. It was how he’d felt for most of his life, being shoved through the foster care system from family to family who only wanted him for the government benefits and who got tired of him after a week. But at least Keith hadn’t cared about what they thought, beyond how a kid usually cares about what adults think of them. With Lance, though, it was different. Keith started to care about what he thought. 

It happened incrementally, and completely by accident. The more Keith watched Lance interact with people who weren’t him, the more he began to like him--like, really like him. He was sweet, and friendly, and teasing, and so, so bright that Keith honestly had trouble looking sometimes, it affected him that much. It wasn’t just admiration that anyone could actually act like that, though; it was envy that Lance would never shine his kindness on Keith, that he would never be on the receiving end of something like that. Not from Lance. 

He flirted, and danced, and was actually a pretty stellar diplomat simply by virtue of being so damn charismatic and sparkling all the time. Keith knew that the universe kind of fell in love with Lance, the dorky loverboy that kissed girls’ hands and winked covertly at cameras when they were around. Where aliens were connected and new about Voltron, Lance had fan clubs and posters galore--Keith knew because he kept tabs on them, just to see what they were saying. He was well-liked, which made Keith moody and frustrated. 

Keith couldn’t blame Lance entirely for all of this, though. He reciprocated and encouraged his behavior, rising to Lance’s bait every time and engaging with every competitive whim he had, even when it was clearly tinged with real dislike.

Keith wasn’t going to back down until Lance did and, lucky for him, eventually Lance actually...did.

It felt like it happened slowly, but in retrospect, it was probably pretty quick. They were forced to work together more and more often, which meant they were with each other more and more often, getting to know each other and each other’s bodies and how they moved and interacted. There were times when Keith was fighting with Lance and he’d get lost in it, unable to think anything except we’re such a good team, we work so well together, we’re so good together, we’re untouchableover and over until his mind and body ached from being on such an intense adrenaline-high for so long. Then they’d stop and grin at each other, another success under their belts, another win, and every time it would make Keith feel like no matter where or who he was he was destined to meet this person, this brilliantly complex individual with the sun in his eyes and deadly power in his hands, bright as a star. 

Lance must have felt something like that too; Keith was sure of it, because the looks Lance would give him after a powerful, vivid move were wrought with an emotion Keith couldn’t quite put his finger on but what he knew wasn’t the haughty dislike he was used to. It bled into Lance’s behavior off the battlefield as well; they increasingly found themselves seeking each other out, eating together, standing next to each other, practicing as a team. Keith and Lance, Blue and Red, the right side of team Voltron. 

It was at this point that Keith began to understand a little why Lance had seemed so determined to hate him at first. They’d be sitting in the castle-ship’s shared living space, not really doing anything but mindless activities, when Lance would suddenly speak--always with a note of apprehension, always about the Garrison. And the questions he’d ask did more than any direct statements to clue Keith in to what was going on; they were all centered around why Keith made the decisions he did--or, more specifically, why he’d made the decision to throw away his life as a Garrison pilot to become a mysterious rogue dropout, leaving the school with the same blaze of fire that he’d arrived with. Why he’d chosen not to speak to anyone, make any friends, remember anyone’s name. Why. Why, why, why

Keith doesn’t think he’d ever had a real answer for any of these questions. He’d find himself stumbling into unknown, uncomfortably introspective territory every time, trying to explain how he’d done everything for Shiro, because of Shiro, because of the one person in the world who had deigned to think of him as more than a degenerate destined for a life of vagabond crime and meaninglessness, a person everybody was just waiting on to die so they could collect whatever insurance they had on him. He tried to explain how everything was just fucked after Shiro disappeared, how it felt like Keith had had not one but two parents taken from him, an absurd trick of the God that is not, proof of a world designed as nothing but something that takes and takes and takes and takes

He tried to explain the walls he had up in words he didn’t know how to use. How this view of the world, as something that just takes, had made him unable or unwilling to try and connect with anyone. How he’s sorry that he didn’t care, that he didn’t remember Lance’s name or any of their interactions and he knows it was shitty and awful and it keeps him up at night, how he’d treated other people as invisible and insignificant and not good enough. It had ruined how he interacted with everyone and it will keep ruining it for as long as Keith lives; no matter how hard he tries to make it stop it’s always going to be there, a ghost of his failure at being a person, holding him back, messing him up, making him broken. 

Eventually, Lance stops asking these types of questions. Keith isn’t sure if it’s because the answers he’s given are satisfying (that Lance might actually get it), or if it’s because Lance doesn’t want to keep dealing with Keith crying. Keith hopes it’s the former. Perhaps the biggest testament to how kind Lance McClain is, to how their relationship had changed, is Keith actually believing that it was more likely to be the former and not the latter. 

Besides, Keith learned a lot about Lance during those conversations as well. He learned that Lance had a big family with older siblings he’s always trying to surpass and younger siblings he’s always trying to be good for. He learned that Lance isn’t the only member of the McClain family to be in the Garrison, but he is the first to be a pilot, and that his family collected all the extra money they had to throw him a small party to celebrate that fact.

He learned that the only reason Lance was able to become a pilot is because Keith dropped out--that he’d been good enough, but not as good as Keith, and Keith had gotten the priority. 

It’s weird to think that Keith’s choice to drop out--because no matter how much he wants to tell himself that it was an impulsive mistake and that he didn’t actually mean to do it, it was a choice--could impact anyone to such a huge extent. It makes Keith feel kind of guilty for taking his position for granted. 

He learned, also, that Lance is bisexual and his dad isn’t happy about it. This alone is enough to shock Keith into stillness--Lance only ever flirted with girls, but he’s not straight?!--but then one night Lance confesses that he’s actually been with a guy, a fellow cargo pilot with dark hair, blue eyes, and an edgy streak whose name is Caden. Keith grimaces so much at the description of this guy that Lance actually asks if something is wrong.

Keith doesn’t like thinking about Lance with anyone else, but especially not with a guy. There’s a lot to unpack there that Keith decides never to engage with. 

Of course, Lance’s confession had led to Keith telling him that he’s gay too--that he’s always, for as long as he can remember, wanted to kiss boys. It makes Keith feel a little better about his own reaction when Lance responds with equal levels of shock, though he insists that his is because he’d thought Keith wasn’t interested at all in sex and not because Keith acted particularly hetero. 

Keith is glad of that. He’d have to majorly reexamine his personality if he came across as straight

But, yeah. These conversations happened, and they were...nice. Really nice. Keith-had-trouble-not-thinking-about-them-all-the-time nice. He really liked knowing Lance, liked being able to trust him and be trusted in turn. 

He liked him. That was the thing, wasn’t it? Keith liked Lance, a lot. 

The thing was, Keith was pretty sure--very sure--that Lance didn’t like him back. How could someone who hated him for a good portion of their time together suddenly do a 180 and like him? It made no sense. 

...Or so Keith thought. 

See, the thing was, once Lance had come out to Keith and once he’d found out Keith was gay, he started acting...different. Not in an altogether bad way? He seemed to be avoiding him a bit more, which was troubling, but Keith didn’t let that happen for long; they’d just gotten to a good place as friends, as close friends, even, and Keith wasn’t going to let Lance being weird about their sexuality get in the way of things. But even after Keith put his foot down, he found Lance staring at him a lot, getting flustered, trying and failing to flirt (yes, Keith noticed, though he needed some help from Shiro to fully understand), going out of his way to be with him. 

None of this was completely abnormal, especially for a guy like Lance, but it was definitely new. And Keith hadn’t known what to make of it--hadn’t been sure if Lance was just figuring something out, if their relationship had changed and he hadn’t noticed, or what--until one day, while they were hanging in their usual spot just relaxing, Lance kissed him. 

Yeah. It happened that suddenly. 

In that moment, Keith felt the entire universe tilt and push him towards Lance as it whispered go on, you love him, and all Keith could do was sing yes, i do in his mind and kiss back with everything he had, surprising Lance (who had probably just been going for an awkward peck, the dork) with the intensity with which he went about it, toppling them both over. 

When they’d come up for air, Keith had tears in his eyes. Lance took one look at him and surged forward for a tight hug, saying over and over, “Keith, Keith, Keith,” and all Keith could do was nod and cry and feel himself be encircled with home, with his person, with love.

It was Lance. It would always be Lance. 

Now, looking back on all of this, sprawled out on the couch of their shared apartment with his head resting on Lance’s lap while he played with his hair in between bouts of homework, Keith finds that he knows exactly who Lance is and what to make of him. 

“Hey,” he says, lifting his gaze to Lance. “I love you.” 

Without missing a beat, Lance smiles and replies, “I love you too.” He thumbs the corner of Keith’s mouth.

If this is the end result, Keith would go through the twists and turns again and again and again, and he’d choose Lance, again and again and again. 

It’s good to know exactly where he stands.

Chapter Text

“Catch it--Catch it! No, not there, just--oh my god, Lance, you are so bad at this!” 

Keith collapses into another fit of laughter for what feels like the hundredth time, because jesus christ, how can anyone be so bad at catching a stray moth in a tiny apartment?

“If I had a laser gun I’d be able to aim at and just kill it!” Lance responds crossly, jumping up, empty cup in outstretched hand, and falling flat on his face. 

Snickering intermittently, Keith cheers Lance on as he rises again, seemingly undaunted, and locates the errant moth once more. It’s fluttering, completely unperturbed, up near one of their lamps again, drawn to the light. Keith’s about to open his mouth and say something when Lance shoots an urgent look at him, waving his hands frantically and making shushing motions. 

Keith obediently keeps his mouth shut, trying to hold his amused laughter at how seriously Lance is taking this. 

Clearly being careful about the weight he puts on each foot, Lance hovers closer to the moth, tongue cutely between his teeth as he does. His cheeks are all scrunched up, freckles pronounced, and he’s so focused--god, Lance McClain is just fucking adorable, isn’t he? Keith is so lucky. 

That thought is only exacerbated the next moment when, in a shocking turn of events, Lance springs forward and slams the cup down onto the lamp, trapping the moth inside of it. 

Yes!” he shouts, jumping up and down and letting out a whoop while Keith claps and claps, unabashedly proud of his boyfriend. 

Lance turns to Keith with a winning smile. “I did it!”

“I knew you could do it,” Keith says fondly. Lance is glowing. 

Behind him, the lamp wobbles, and then tips over. Lance screeches and jumps back, dropping the cup in his moment of shock.

They both watch as the moth flutters out and into the kitchen, searching for the next light. 

Lance looks at Keith. “Fuck.”

Keith is able to match his serious tone only for a few seconds before his face splits into a wide grin and he steps over to fall, laughing, into his boyfriend’s arms. Probably entirely by instinct, Lance’s arms encircle him. Even he looks amused. 

“God, don’t be so cute,” Lance admonishes, but he’s smiling. Keith is still giggling uncontrollably in his arms. “It makes me feel like I should keep failing.”

“Oh, shut up. You hate losing too much.” Keith bats at Lance’s shoulders, finally rising up enough to press their noses together. “C’mon, you still have a moth to catch.”

Lance groans but sullenly follows as Keith tugs him into the kitchen by his hand. 

“I’ll, ah, reward you if you manage to catch it within five minutes,” Keith offers suggestively, voice tipping downward just as his eyes trail across Lance’s body. Lance flushes a little and nods vigorously. 

He catches it in three. Keith has them both in the bed, laughing and kissing, in the next two. 

Chapter Text

It’s cold. Cold rain is falling outside of the dormroom, and Keith can sense Lance’s huffy attitude about that gloomy weather. Keith’s told him (fairly patiently, in his opinion) many times that it’s October now, which is a chill and rainy season, and mother nature doesn’t exactly care about which month it is, but Lance had refused to accept that and had continued being irritated with wet, cloudy outdoors.

He really is more of a warm, sunshine boy. Keith, however, is in his element, and he can tell that Lance secretly appreciates the rain simply because it makes Keith feel so much better. The thought, ironically, warms Keith.

Right now, they’re curled up together under a large quilt that Lance’s mom had sent to them (along with a basket of gingerbread cookies--Keith’s favorite--with a note admonishing Keith to eat more; Lance has stolen most of the gingerbread by now). It’s calm but still heated, their legs intertwined in a soft pile of sweatpants and fuzzy socks, and lance has his arm wrapped loosely around Keith’s shoulders. Keith’s not quite leaning into the crook of Lance’s neck--he wouldn’t be caught dead doing that, honestly--but he’s hovering close enough that both of their breaths are intermingling. The touch of Lance’s skin is hot from the proximity.

Keith can’t remember what they were watching. He’s pretty sure it was something stupid, like one of those dumb Hallmark movies about baking and pumpkins, but it hardly matters now. Lance’s arm has slowly extended a little and curled higher up on keith’s shoulders, and Keith stays carefully motionless as he feels lance’s fingers brush lightly against his neck, like a spider. Goosebumps would erupt on Keith if he wasn’t so warm. 

“What are you doing? You know I’m not ticklish,” Keith says quietly, sighing out a breath when Lance ceases the spindly touches and lightly presses his palm against Keith’s neck.

“I’m not tickling you,” Lance murmurs, shifting his legs and leaning even further into Keith’s space, head dipping so that his lips are nearly touching Keith’s neck. Keith can feel the light touches with every word lance speaks, and subtly tilts his head to the side in appreciation. “I’m propositioning you.”

Keith laughs a little, a fond, crooked smile quirking his lips up in genuine amusement. “Hmmmm,” he says, craning his neck back further and appreciating fully how lance takes the motion as permission to wrap his other hand around keith’s waist, lips fully closing on his neck. “I don’t know. You’re a bit annoying.” 

Lance lets out an amused breath, leaving Keith’s neck in favor of obnoxiously rubbing his nose against Keith’s cheek in an exaggerated sort of butterfly kiss. “So are you. We’d be good together.” 

“Yeah,” keith replies, twisting around so that he can finally loop his hands around lance’s neck and touch his heated skin. “I think we would.”

Chapter Text

the gay one (not shiro): hey. have you seen lance? trying to figure out where he is -_-

me: I don’t think I have, sorry. Where did you last see him?

the gay one (not shiro): he was at home this morning idk

the gay one (not shiro): left early for smth

the gay one (not shiro): wouldn’t tell me what

me: Ah. Sounds quite suspicious, doesn’t it?

the gay one (not shiro): very. 

me: Any reason you’re searching for him?

me: Are you finally going to confess? 

the gay one (not shiro): oh my GOD stop

the gay one (not shiro): no, that’s not why

me: Keith, you’ve been living with him for months now. I really think you ought to get a move on.

the gay one (not shiro): im working on it

the gay one (not shiro): since we’re on the subject, have you confessed to romelle yet then?

me: That was not the subject we were on! 

me: ...But no. 

the gay one (not shiro): you’re no better than me! hypocrite 

me: Unfortunately, I’m not. 

me: Sigh. 

the gay one (not shiro): we’re kinda sad, huh

me: We don’t have to be! Let’s make a deal. 

the gay one (not shiro): ?

me: It’s been long enough. If I promise to tell Romelle how I feel the next time I talk to her, will you promise to do the same with Lance? 

the gay one (not shiro): that’s...really sudden

me: We need to break out of this somehow, don’t we?

the gay one (not shiro): ...i guess. 

the gay one (not shiro): fine. i’ll do it. 

me: Excellent! 

the gay one (not shiro): if i ever find him, that is

me: Oh! That reminds me. I have great news for you, Keith.

the gay one (not shiro): what?

me: I know where Lance is. He’s sitting next to me!

the gay one (not shiro): i

the gay one (not shiro): WHAT

me: He’s going to send a quick text! 

the gay one (not shiro): wait allura don’t give him the phone DONT GIVE HIM IT

me: heya keithers, what’s up? why’re you asking around about me? miss me that much?

the gay one (not shiro): lance give allura the phone back RIGHT NOW

me: Hello. I’m back. 

the gay one (not shiro): you’re dead to me allura

the gay one (not shiro): dead. to. me. 

me: That counts as speaking to him, does it not? Here, I’ll have him call you. 

the gay one (not shiro): allura NO

“....hello?”

“Hi, Keith! What’s up? Allura said you had something to tell me?”

Chapter Text

“A...scarf?” Keith holds up the article of clothing in question, inspecting it curiously. It’s plain red, kind of the same color as his bandana, but it’s got tiny black stars peppered all over it, giving it texture and detail. 

He rubs it in his hands. It’s soft. 

Lance’s smile falters a little as he replies, “Uh, yeah, a scarf. It’s, um, homemade--well, my mom made it, because I asked her to.” 

“You asked her to make me a scarf?” Keith says, still shifting the scarf between his fingers, feeling the smooth warmth of the fabric and the pleasant, dotted texture of the stars. His heart is beating fast. 

“I, uh, yeah.” Lance shifts from foot to foot. “Sorry, is it not enough? I just thought, you know, I never see you wearing one, and it gets so cold here in the winter, and you always complain about being cold and your cheeks get really pink and I thought, well, I can fix that, so I asked mom to make you one, but if it’s not enough I can go out and buy another present--” 

Lance gets cut off with a gasp as Keith rushes into him, arms encircling his waist tightly. Surprised, Lance tentatively returns the hug, patting Keith awkwardly on the back twice. 

“Thank you,” Keith whispers. His voice, quiet and breathy and cracking a little, makes Lance’s heart skip a beat. “It’s perfect. I’ve never had my own scarf before.” 

“Oh my god,” Lance groans, fully tightening his hug now. “Shut up, you’re too cute, I can’t handle it.” 

Smiling a little, Keith steps back from the hug, making no reply. He’s still clutching the red scarf in his hands, tight and protective, like it’s something valuable, like it’s precious. 

“We can make scarves for you anytime you want,” Lance responds, causing Keith to laugh. He flushes red. “I-I mean--look, Rosa McClain clothes are awesome and hard to come by, I’m just saying, you’re lucky I’m even making the offer--” 

“I am,” Keith cuts in. He’s wrapping the scarf around his neck now; it’s clumsy because his hands aren’t practiced in the action, so it ends up just falling all across his shoulders and twisting in weird angles. He gives Lance a proud look. “Thank you, Lance.” 

Lance sighs. He’s so gone, isn’t he? 

“Anytime, Keith,” he says, taking a step forward into Keith’s space. “You didn’t put it on right, though. C’mon, I’ll show you.” 

After about five minutes of laughter and Lance tugging at the newly-minted scarf, they emerge into the cool air, Keith sparkling and smiling and rubbing his cheek intermittently against the soft fabric, and Lance doing everything he can to avoid thinking about how unbearably adorable that is and failing miserably. 

Rosa’s definitely going to be having more Keith-sized clothing requests in the near future, if they make Keith this happy. 

Chapter Text

The lighter ignites, producing a tiny flame that wobbles as Keith looks at it, unstable but unable to go out, waving briskly in the night air, forced to stay alive even as it tips and shakes, every element fighting against it. Keith keeps pressing down the trigger, keeping the flame alight, as he walks, eyes reflecting its brightness in the dark. 

It’s been a while since he’s taken a walk at night. 

Extinguishing the flame, Keith tosses the lighter once and catches it before stowing it away in his pocket, stuffing his hands in soon after. He trudges across the pavement, kicking stray pebbles and appreciating the cool night air on his face. It’s cloudy tonight, so there are no stars for him to look at; that’s okay, though. Keith’s seen enough stars to last him a lifetime. 

This trail is well-trod for Keith, since he’s been through this path so many times, and he walks it without paying much attention. He fingers the lighter in his pocket. 

“Hey, Keith.” 

Keith starts and looks up, searching for the source of the low, gravelly voice. Once he finds it, he breaks into a smile and jogs forward, into the fluorescent light pouring out of the 7-Eleven, bluish gray and illuminating the rather large figure of Dave, the gas station manager. 

“Wow,” Keith exhales upon arrival, coming to a stop in front of the towering man. “Been a while.” 

“Sure has, cowboy,” Dave responds with a wink, clasping one of Keith’s hands in his own. “Still wearing those gloves, I see.” 

“I like the habit,” Keith says with a smile. “How are things?” 

Dave gives a noncommittal shrug. “Same ol’, same ol’. Business picked up a little now that you Garrison kids are back in school, so that’s good.” 

“Not a Garrison kid anymore, old man,” Keith corrects him, grin widening. “I graduated. Full credentials and everything.” Because I was in a space war, Keith adds, but doesn’t mention that out loud. 

Dave, however, looks overjoyed. Keith thinks he can even detect a small tear in one of his eyes. “You’re joking! I always knew you’d get back in and knock ‘em dead, kid, and here you are! Full credentials!”

Then comes the crushing hug that Keith had been expected. He breathes out a laugh, hugging back loosely. “Thanks, Dave.” 

Dave releases him, eyes still twinkling. “Boy, you’ve grown far from that little rascal with a bone to pick with the world. What happened? Get yourself a boyfriend, eh?” 

Keith laughs, though his cheeks tinge a little red. “Yeah, actually, but I’m not gonna give him credit for me ‘growing up.’”

“What’s his name?” Dave asks, sounding surprised yet excited. 

“Lance,” Keith says. Just saying his name makes Keith warm a little. Dave must notice the effect it has, because his eyes soften, and he lifts a hand to squeeze Keith’s shoulder. 

“Like Lancelot, eh? King Arthur?” Dave says jokingly. Keith can’t contain the laugh that breaks out of him. “Hah. Well, bring ‘im around sometime. I’d love to meet up.” 

“You’d like him, I think,” Keith says, recovering from his laughing fit. “Haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like him, actually.” 

“He sounds wonderful, my boy.” Dave looks swelled with pride, and it’s making Keith a little embarrassed. He supposes it’s understandable, though; he’d gotten to know Dave at one of the darkest points of his life, taking walks in the dead of night just to get away from the maps and the desert and the claustrophobia of being alone, alone, alone

But this gas station had always been there. Keith eventually passed it so much that Dave called him in, gave him a coffee, and asked him to spill his story. And Keith did. 

Dave always listened. And Keith always left with a free drink or snack, no matter how much he tried to deny it. Because Dave was just kind like that. 

“I was awful worried when you disappeared, kiddo,” Dave continues, his smile fading a little. “Thought you’d done somethin’ stupid.” 

Keith nods, somber. He can understand why Dave might’ve thought that. “I’m good. I had some adventures, I guess, but I’m back now. I plan to stick around.”

“Well, I’m proud.” Dave smiles, patting Keith on the shoulder. “I can see things’ve changed in you for the better. Hey, don’t be a stranger, okay? Bring that boyfriend of yours, I’ll give ya both a treat for your time.” 

“I’ll bring him tomorrow,” Keith promises, thinking of how pleased Lance will be to meet one of Keith’s old friends. He’ll turn up the charm high, but Keith thinks Dave will be able to handle it--hell, he’ll probably have the time of his life joking with Lance, poking through his bravado. 

Smiling, Dave reaches into one of his large jacket pockets and pulls out a bottle of orange juice. He hands it to Keith. “Got this for you before I ran out. I remember it was your favorite.” 

Keith takes the bottle, feeling emotional. He sniffs a little, willing himself not to do something stupid like cry. “It’s still my favorite. Thank you.” 

“Anytime, cowboy.” Dave gives him an encouraging nod. “I’ll be waiting tomorrow! Remember, I’m a hugger. Lance better be prepared.” 

“He’s one too, don’t worry,” Keith says, putting the juice carefully into one of his pouches. He starts to back away. “I’ll see you, Dave.”

“Be careful getting back, now,” Dave calls as Keith leaves, waving a hand vigorously in the air. Keith returns the gesture, grinning, and starts back to Shiro’s, where everyone’s staying. 

He toys with the lighter again, then takes it out and flicks it open. The flame bursts into existence, still shuddering, but still there, a tiny dancing light amidst the darkness, warm and real and undeterred by the elements. 

Keith’s eyes reflect the light. He smiles, and walks home. 

Chapter Text

Keith sighs heavily, twisting around distastefully as he looks at himself in the full-body mirror. He had some event that he was meant to go to later with Shiro, a fancy dinner with Shiro’s world peace agency (or whatever) that his name had somehow gotten dragged into. In honor of the event, Shiro had even bought Keith a new outfit.

“You need to look classy and presentable,” Shiro had said sternly one morning, while Keith simmered at the assumption that his normal style apparently wasn’t presentable enough for this dinner. “So, I bought you this.”

Then he threw several garments at Keith’s face, topping them off with a pair of shoes and—Keith raised an eyebrow—a new pair of earrings. He had thrown Shiro a questioning look, but the man was already off to work, calling over his shoulder, “I won’t be home till late tonight, but I expect you to have tried these on by the time I am!”

And that is why Keith is now standing in front of a mirror, assessing himself critically not twenty minutes after school had let out. He’d even delayed his homework for this!

The outfit fits fine, because one of Shiro’s many talents is picking perfect sizes for people on the first try. And, Keith must admit, it does fit into his stylistic aesthetic—only amped up a few notches and sprinkled with a suitable layer of sophistication. He stretches out and angles his neck for a better look, allowing the embroidered pattern of red roses draped across his throat and shoulders to be thrown into the light, accentuating the paleness of his skin and slope of his torso. He fidgets slightly, folding his arms and pulling the black fabric taught against his skin—the shirt is already tighter than he’s used to.

Keith sort of thinks he looks like a shadow in this thing. Shiro seems to have granted him permission to wear his usual attire of black skinny jeans, as that’s what he’d bought, though they perhaps fit a little better than his usual pair; the shoes are sleek noir as well, but nothing special. They clack against the ground like heels when Keith gives them an experimental scuff, which he finds delight in for some reason.

The earrings, however—those are different. They’re vines, solid black and shiny, snaking from his piercing towards the top of his ear; Keith isn’t sure where Shiro got the idea that these were classy, as they make him feel more like some sort of goth prince more than anything. Maybe Shiro’s just gay, though.

But, all in all, he likes it. The looks isn’t bad, and he can deal with the vague discomfort that comes with clingy clothes. Nodding to himself, Keith begins to untuck his shirt from his skinny jeans.

“Hey, Keith!” A voice floats from outside of his room. “Are you done? I wanna see this outfit too!”

Oh, right. Lance is here.

He’d basically invited himself over after school, unattaching himself from his usual group of friends to run over to Keith, who’d just been trying to get into his car unbothered. And then he’d flung an arm around Keith’s shoulder, smiling wide and warm, and asked something that Keith hadn’t actually heard but automatically said yes to.

When Lance proceeded to jump into the passenger side of his car, Keith had been a little confused. But he’d rolled with it, and now he has his friend-slash-crush-slash-rival(?) at his house while he tries on clothes.

And, of course, Lance wants to see Keith in them.

“It’s really nothing special,” Keith calls back, keeping his arms tentatively on his still-tucked shirt, just in case Lance buys into what he’s saying and lets it go.

“Aw, anything you wear is special, baby,” comes Lance’s simpering, sweet voice, and Keith drops his forehead against the mirror in an effort to avoid seeing himself blush. Then he remembers that he’s leaning against a mirror, and turns around abruptly, hand covering his face.

“Fuck off,” he answers, but the highness of his voice kills any bite the response would’ve had. He hears Lance’s laughter through the door and an unbidden smile stretches across his face. He rolls his eyes. Fine. Lance wants to be disappointed by Keith’s clothes? Sure. Keith will let him be.

“I’m coming out.”

Lance’s laughter dies down into expectant silence, and Keith opens the door and steps out, spreading his arms in an almost-playful gesture of dress-up. He doesn’t look at Lance for the first few seconds, but when the mocking he was expecting doesn’t come, he chances a glance at the couch where he’s sitting.

Lance is red. There’s a hot blush coloring his cheeks and neck prettily, and his lips are parted in a small “o” that makes Keith both excited and confused. His eyes are sweeping up and down Keith’s form, catching in certain spots (Keith makes a list: shoes, thighs, shoulders, neck, earrings, lips?) and then stuttering shakily away.

“Wow,” he says, and Keith nearly stumbles back at the sheer breathlessness of his voice. “That—really suits you.”

“You think?” Keith turns around experimentally and hears a sharp intake of breath from Lance. He ignores it. “I think it’s a bit much—”

“It’s definitely a bit much,” Lance echoes, but he sounds faint and it doesn’t come across as an insult, or with the same meaning as when Keith had said it. Keith turns back around and is nearly startled into silence at the greedy, unadulterated look of hunger that Lance is giving him—that is, for the few seconds that he can see it, because the moment they’re fully facing each other again Lance seems to make a conscious effort to wipe his face clean of emotion.

The way he’s fidgeting and his still-red cheeks, though, give him away.

“Hey...” Keith begins, slowly advancing towards Lance without even thinking about whether he should or not. He’s still stuck on that look Lance was giving him. “Are—Are you okay?”

“I—” Lance swallows, crossing his legs tightly as Keith comes closer (and wincing, Keith notes with interest, gears turning in his head). “Y-Yeah, I’m fine, just, ah—you look really nice in that.”

“Do I?” Keith’s voice is quieter now, his words floating into the air and staying still between the two of them. He’s standing right in front of Lance now, less than a foot away from him. Lance is pressing himself almost desperately back into the couch, looking anywhere but at Keith’s form hovering in front of him.

“Yeah—alright, look—” Suddenly and with all the grace of a jack-in-the-box, Lance springs up from the couch, nearly plowing straight into Keith as he does. Keith catches himself, though, and manages to stay put, essentially putting them chest-to-chest. Keith has no idea why he’s doing this, why he hasn’t fled from the awkwardness yet, but the air feels heated, buzzing with electricity, and Lance looks almost painfully wired through the roof. And if Keith’s rapidly forming conclusion is correct, then Lance…Well, he shouldn’t necessarily mind being this close.

“Keith.” Lance licks his lips, a gesture Keith’s eyes latch onto and follow, quickly building heat in his own tingly body. Lance’s eyes are darting around anxiously, and he’s still got his legs bent awkwardly even though he’s standing, and Keith’s not brave enough to try looking down—thinks he might get hit if he so much as tries—but he’s pretty sure, almost certain that if he did, he’d find all the proof that he needs of his hypothesis.

“Keith, I—if you don’t let me go soon then we’re going to be dealing with a very fucking awkward situation. Please move,” Lance says, shifting from one leg to the other, and Keith may not be the most perceptive person in the world but god damn if porn hasn’t taught him anything about these signs.

He raises his hands and places them gently on Lance’s shoulders, causing the other boy to snap his head up and give Keith a quizzical, panicked look.

“You’re—You’re turned on, aren’t you?” Keith says quietly, but his voice still seems to reverberate through the empty house. Lance’s breathing gets substantially heavier, and Keith finally deems it necessary to look down, and—

Keith breathes in and out through his mouth, eyes widening. “You are.”

Fuck,” Lance swears, shaking his head rapidly. “I—fuck, look, I’m sorry, just—sometimes this just happens and I didn’t mean to make things awkward, I’m sorry—”

Keith silences him with a light push to his shoulders, nudging him somewhat forcefully back onto the couch. Lance, albeit looking more flabbergasted with each passing second, allows himself to be moved.

Then, Keith settles himself onto Lance’s lap and Lance curses again, loudly, and the sound curls itself into Keith’s belly and stays there, exciting every nerve around it.

“Wh—What are you doing?” Lance asks, voice meek and marred with panic.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Keith keeps eye contact with Lance as he starts to grind down, ever so slowly, causing Lance to hiss and his head to fall back against the couch.

“It looks like you’re—fuck, Kogane, if this is a fucking joke—”

“It’s not,” Keith says honestly, and he means it. He reaches forward and grabs Lance’s hands, placing them against his hips and then rolling them purposefully. Lance’s eyes are blown black by now, dilated almost into darkness, and Keith has never felt so insatiable in his life—the heat building in his belly, in his pelvis, in his dick is like fire, simmering low and hot for now but just on the border of uncontrollable. He’s also never felt hotter—if someone like Lance can become this unraveled just by seeing him in a nice outfit, then god, he can’t be that bad off, can he?

“Don’t you like it?”

Lance lets out a hoarse, harsh laugh, gripping at Keith’s hips with shaking fingers. “No, of course not, I hate having a gorgeous guy grinding down on my lap, it’s my least favorite thing—” Lance cuts himself off again with a breathy little noise as Keith pushes forward in an exceptionally forceful way, and Keith grins, leaning in closer.

“I like it too,” he says, in a voice tuned low and quiet. Lance stares at him with dark, misty eyes, hardly blinking. “You can touch me, Lance. I want you to touch me. Don’t you want to touch me in these clothes?”

Lance stares at him a second longer and then, with a noise of frustration, tears his hands from Keith’s hips and presses them against his collar bones, against the roses painted onto his clothes, and then pushes his hips up into Keith, causing Keith to cry out in surprise and grapple for a hold around Lance. From there, though, Lance doesn’t hold back; he pulls and tugs at Keith’s shirt just long enough for Keith to get worried that he might tear it, and then he’s suddenly pulling the buttons apart, exposing Keith’s skin to the cold air. Keith lets out a breathless noise and presses closer into Lance, seeking warmth, but Lance surprises him by encouraging the movement, looping his hands around Keith’s waist and helping him further into his lap.

Oh,” Keith says when Lance presses the palms of his hands onto his now-bare chest, rubbing across his skin and thumbing briefly at his nipples. Keith keens and moves his hips again, suddenly desperate for some sort of friction, sensation, anything—he’s got the same problem as Lance does, now.

“You’re really hot,” Lance says, leaning forward and up, mouth closing around Keith’s neck. Keith moans, and Lance exhales sharply against him. “You sound hot.”

“Lance,” is all Keith can say, rocking on his lap, and Lance answers with a low whine and starts kissing up his neck, to his jawline, nipping at his ear.

“H-Hey, stop me if I’m going too far, yeah?” Lance lets his head fall back into the crook of Keith’s neck and he focuses on his collarbone, now, kissing and tonguing across the skin and then—

Keith gasps and then lets out a loud noise, nails digging into Lance’s shirt, because holy shit, he’s biting and sucking now, sucking so hard it hurts, and he’s going to leave a mark—

Fuck,” Keith swears, tilting his head the opposite direction to give Lance more access, which he takes hungrily.

“As much as I love you in these clothes, Kogane,” Lance starts, voice thick and harsh with arousal, as he gives Keith a hooded look, “I think you’re wearing too much right now.”

“I think so too,” Keith responds immediately, moving his hands quickly to his zipper. He looks up at Lance. “Y-You too, though. If you want. If that’s okay.”

“Uh, yeah.” Lance nods vigorously and starts pulling his shirt off. “I have Keith Kogane on my lap, there’s no way I’m letting this pass—”

“Keith! Tadaima.”

Fuck.

Keith whips his head around and, yep, that’s definitely Shiro’s shadow, if he needed any confirmation other than the Japanese greeting. He turns back to Lance, eyes wide, and they both stay frozen like that for two, three seconds, and then they split.

O-Okairi!” Keith yelps hastily as he jumps and falls off of Lance, and then cringes, because that did not sound as calm and collected as he thought it would. He’s on the floor now, though, so there’s not much he can do about that; he quickly scrambles to standing position, only wobbling a little, and hurries to straighten his clothes and look as normal as possible before Shiro inevitably enters the room.

Turning back to check on Lance, Keith groans internally; he’s struggling with getting his shirt back on from the half-shed state it was in, and his body does not seem to be getting the memo that they’re done. Swearing under his breath, Keith stumbles quickly back to Lance, grabbing the other side of his shirt in an effort to help.

“Get off, I’ve got it—”

“You clearly don’t got it, McClain, I swear to god—”

“Uh…Keith? Who’s this?”

Both boys freeze. Keith does a quick survey of the position they’re in, matched with the rosy tone to their skin and ruffles clothes, and concludes that it is very, very suggestive. Turning to face Shiro feels like the hardest thing in the world right now, but Keith bravely straightens and does so anyway.

“He’s Lance.”

Lance, finally (too late, Keith thinks bitterly) getting his shirt back on, fluffs out his hair and then peeks out at Shiro from behind Keith. He raises an embarrassed hand in greeting. “H-Hi.”

Shiro looks like he’s trying to hold back laughter. Keith hates him. “Nice to meet you, Lance. Are you one of Keith’s…friends?”

That hesitance before he said the word “friends” is going to be listed as the cause of Shiro’s death in a second here, because Keith is going to kill him.

Lance’s gaze flits, unsure, back to Keith, who answers evasively, “Kinda. I wanted a second opinion on my outfit.”

Shiro nods slowly, still smiling. “Of course. Seems like he had a very good opinion of it?”

Keith turns bright red again, but not for the reason he wishes he was. “I—Shut up! Shut up, I think he liked it, shut up—”

“Uh huh, I hear you.” Shiro saunters over to them, looking like he’s having the time of his life. “Well, just so you know, we’re leaving in about three hours.” He ruffles Keith’s hair. “Why doesn’t Lance stick around until then, eh? I’d love to get to know your friends.”

“Thank you, sir,” Lance says in a small voice. Shiro looks exhilarated. Keith wants to throw himself into space.

“Go on, change before you ruin your clothes, and we can play some get-to-know-you games.”

Feeling sullen and bitter that he just got cock-blocked by his own brother, Keith doesn’t say another word before turning around and stalking back towards his bedroom. After a moment of hesitation and an unsure smile at Shiro, Lance gets up and follows.

“Oh, you guys?”

Keith and Lance turn back, pausing in front of the doorway to Keith’s room.

Shiro smiles brightly. “Door open, please.”

The door slams shut behind them.

Chapter Text

For Keith, the desert represents very different things. 

The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the sweeping vistas between layers of tall, hard rock; the whisp of sand rushing underneath him as he runs or rides on his space bike, quiet and taken up by the wind; a hot sun beating down on him, giving him a sunburnt neck but still helping keep him alive. All of those things are what Keith loves about the desert--it’s freedom, it’s atmosphere, it’s sameness. 

He’s never really had sameness in his life before. 

Looking beyond the literal physical characteristics of the desert, though--and Keith will be the first to admit that that kind of thinking is kind of difficult for him to do--the desert also carries with it a specific time of his life, memories and thoughts and sensations available to him only when he thinks about heat and sand and red rock. 

Passing out in the dead of night with no way to tell time, panicked and scared and lost amidst the plethora of discarded paper surrounding him and the ever-present pull towards something, always just out of the corner of his eye, of his reality, but never going away. 

Nights spent crying and raging and wrecking his home, the only home he had left, before curling into a ball to sob himself to unconsciousness, confident in the fact that, out here, there’s no way people would’ve heard him. 

Finding tiny lizards and snacks on state roads passing through and hurriedly picking them up and moving them to safety before they can be harmed. 

Picking up a small cactus with a pretty pink flower, taking it home, naming it Midori, the Japanese word for “green”, because that’s what he hopes it will be able to become someday. Keith keeps Midori for a while, watering her once a week without fail, and sometimes she’s the only thing keeping him tethered to civilization and sanity. 

All of this, these snapshots of his life, are confined to the desert--not just the place, but the concept, the imagination of it, the memory. They’re bittersweet, all of them; nowadays they’re colored more by a sense of pride that he made it, that he was able to get out of that place with (most of) his sanity intact. Midori rests safely next to his and Lance’s bed, now, and sometimes Lance will take it upon himself to water her for him. It’s such a jarring break from everything he’d lived before that the first time Lance does this, Keith drops his bags and breaks down crying. 

She’s a piece of the desert that Keith wouldn’t give up for the world. And the amount of little creatures he potentially saved comforts him, too.

And if he hadn’t gone to the desert--hadn’t followed that weird, insistent energy, that feeling that made him think he was well and truly lost to reality--he wouldn’t have found Shiro, wouldn’t have become a Paladin, wouldn’t have saved the universe, wouldn’t have met his friends. His lover. His family. 

Keith thinks he would live all of those hard nights spent pacing and crying and tasting blood from dried lips again if it means he’ll end up right where he’s at now. 

Maybe they’ll all take a trip to the desert someday. Keith would love to show them around. 

Chapter Text

The cake hits his face, and Keith freezes. 

Lance, who’d been the one to splatter the cake on him, drops his broad smile and leans quickly back, looking nervous. He shakes the leftover bits of cake off of his hand and averts his eyes with a high-pitched laugh. 

“Sorry,” he starts, still looking anywhere but at Keith. “I just--I saw some of your old pictures pictures, and I thought you might like it, but I get it if I was being, like, presumptuous or whatever--” 

Lance’s words are interrupted with a yelp as cake is slammed into his face as well, icing and chocolate and everything, falling off and around his face just enough that he can see Keith’s grinning face in front of him. 

The next second, he’s being crushed in a hug. Somehow it doesn’t matter that they’re getting cake all over each other by doing it. 

“I haven’t--” Keith swallows thickly, and Lance realizes that he sounds like he’s about to cry. “I haven’t done that since--well, since the birthday before dad died. I can’t believe you found out about it, I...” Keith releases Lance but doesn’t step back, instead raising a (messy, cake-covered) hand to wipe at his (messy, cake-covered) nose. 

Then he raises his eyes, and the look he gives Lance is enough to level buildings and towns with its intensity, and pull up the sun with its glowing happiness. It takes Lance’s breath away. 

“Thank you,” Keith says, heartfelt and genuine, and Lance has to hug him again. 

“Thank god you liked it,” he says into Keith’s hair, trying to turn the subject lest they both break down crying. “Your reaction scared me, Keith. I thought I’d majorly fucked up.” 

“No.” Keith shakes his head and squeezes Lance’s middle. “I’m--happy. I’m happy. I love it.” 

“I’m glad,” Lance murmurs, and then, stepping out of Keith’s embrace, he raises his fingers to his mouth and whistles. “Because there’s more where that came from!” 

From behind the wall appear five other people--Shiro, Pidge, Hunk, Allura, and Coran--all holding handfuls of cake, all grinning wickedly. Keith barely has time to screech before they’ve descended on him, laughing and shoving cake in his face (and, probably not purposefully, into each other’s faces), a crowd of people intent on getting Keith as messy as possible.

And Keith is loving it. He’s laughing to tears, something he never seems to do, and grappling to get his hands on some of the cake so he can attempt to return the favor. The pile-on doesn’t last long before they’ve run out of cake, though, and they all collapse onto the floor amidst the sugary mess they’ve made. 

Lance comes around behind Keith, who’s leaned over trying to contain his laughter, and circles his arms around his waist. Keith cuts himself of sharply with a hiccup, making Lance grin. 

“Happy birthday, mullet,” he says. Everyone else nods vigorously. 

“That was awesome, dude,” Hunk says eagerly, wiping a bit of cake off of the bridge of his nose. “You and your dad had some great traditions.” 

Keith colors red but smiles, nodding mutely. 

“I, for one, just wanted to be able to throw cake on you. That’s the only reason I’m here,” Pidge chimes in. She’s grinning happily at Keith, though, despite the frosting smeared across her glasses, and he sticks his tongue out at her. 

“Of course,” he replies, eyes sparkling. 

“I do apologize for the ambush, Keith,” Allura offers, resting a hand gently on Keith’s shoulder. “We sent Lance in to do it first because, well, we weren’t sure how you were going to react. It seemed best to do a trial-run first, you know?” 

“Yeah, I took one for the team. As usual,” Lance pipes up with a roll of his eyes, shaking his head. “They act like I’m the Keith-whisperer around here, honestly.” 

“You are!” Coran says loudly with a flourish of his hand. He looks particularly funny with a caked mustache. Leaning in conspiratorially to Lance, he adds, “That title should make you happy, though, eh? Eh?”

“Shut up!” Lance hisses, pushing Coran’s face away and circling protectively into Keith. “Leave me alone, shouldn’t we be focusing on Keith? Birthday and all?”

“Don’t focus on me too hard. I have to shower,” Keith responds, giving a lopsided smile. His comment seems to bring to the others’ attention the soiled state they’re in, and they all murmur agreement somewhat sheepishly. 

“Yeah, that’s probably for the best,” Hunk sighs. “I worked so hard making this cake... Well, there’s still some left, I guess, so it’s okay.” 

“Really?” Keith gives them a watery look. “Wow, I--thank you. Thanks, guys. It...means a lot.” 

He gets glowing looks all around and many reassurances that they’re happy to do it, that they love him, that they’re here for him, and by the time Lance bows out dramatically and leaves just him and Shiro left in the room, he feels a little dazed from all the affection. 

Shiro makes his way over to Keith, careful to step over the worst of the cake-mucked floor. He leans down slightly and grasps Keith’s shoulder. “Have fun?” 

“Yeah,” Keith says, standing slowly. And then, “Shiro, I--”

“It’s okay,” Shiro says with a gentle smile. Keith nods and pulls into Shiro’s arms, shoving his face into his shoulder and breaking into tears. He’s trembling, and Shiro can feel it, so he rubs soothing circle’s into Keith’s back and lets him cry for as long as he needs to. 

A little later--he isn’t sure how long--Keith deems it safe enough to slowly back out of Shiro’s embrace, still sniffling and trying to dry his wet cheeks. “S-Sorry,” he says, voice smaller than usual. “I just--I’ve never, not since--” 

“I know,” Shiro interrupts lightly, nodding. “I get it. It’s okay. I just hope they’re mostly happy tears.” 

“They are,” Keith replies instantly. “I’m really happy. Really, really happy.” 

Shiro smiles, looking pleased and relieved, and ruffles up Keith’s hair. “Good. Better go wash up, then. Hunk won’t stop talking about what a magnificent cake he made.” 

Keith laughs, only hiccuping a little bit, and nods eagerly. “I’m excited. From the bit I tasted when it was coming at me from every direction, it seemed really good.” 

They both depart with a wave and Keith walks briskly to his room, ready to strip and try to remember what the best method for getting cake out of his hair was all those years ago. When he looks in the mirror, though, he finds himself startled out of his thoughts at how...happy he looks. He can’t get the smile off of his face, it seems, and it lingers there even now, when he’s far away from what had first caused it. The crinkles on his face, the redness of his cheeks, the glimmer of his eyes... When was the last time he’d seen himself like this? 

It doesn’t matter, Keith thinks, turning away from the mirror. I’m feeling good now. That’s all that matters. 

Mind on cake and the potential of getting Lance to spoon-feed some of it to him (he’s got to take advantage of this day somehow, right?), Keith rushes to the bathroom to clean himself up. 

Maybe his birthday will have to stop being one of the worst days on Keith’s calendar, now. He can thank his newfound family for that one. 

Chapter Text

Lance really, really enjoys watching Keith write in Japanese. One of his favorite positions is casually draped over Keith, resting his chin on Keith’s shoulder, watching him practice writing in Japanese. Keith is thorough in this like everything else; each character is neatly drawn using a specific (and, to Lance, utterly counterintuitive) stroke order, lined perfectly with each other. Even though is father was Japanese, Keith had never really been taught the language, which makes it that much more amazing that he can write as many characters and speak as fluently as he can. 

Lance thinks it's calming, watching Keith write these characters; he doesn't have to focus on trying to read it, or sounding out the alphabet, because he doesn't understand it. He can just watch Keith write as if he's drawing. It’s also funny how Keith will constantly be mouthing the pronunciations as he writes. It's very serene, and he knows Keith appreciates the recognition of his skill, even just in a subtle way. 

“Whatcha writing there, Kogane?” Lance asks one day, feeling a sudden inclination to figure out what Keith’s thinking about as he practices today. 

Keith glances back at him with playful huff, and brandishes the paper at him. “Samurai,” he says, accenting it the Japanese way. Lance’s eyes light up. 

“Oooh, sharp work, samurai,” he coos into Keith’s ear, rubbing his nose into his cheek. Keith snickers, rolling his eyes. 

“You remember saying that?” he asks, poking Lance with his pencil. “I’m surprised.”

It’s Lance’s turn to sigh in teasing frustration. “I remember all my failed attempts at flirting with you,” he says with a shake of his head. 

“It didn’t fail. I thought about it for weeks. Why did Lance say that? Why did he say it like THAT?” Keith laughs, ducking forward and causing Lance to lose his balance from where his arms had been resting on his shoulders. “C’mon, I’ll teach you how to write it. It’s only one character.”

Interest piqued, Lance lets Keith’s comment go, promising to return to it later and mock his boyfriend mercilessly for love-angsting over his silly samurai comment. He nods eagerly, repositioning himself and crossing his legs in front of Keith. 

“Teach me, professor,” he says in cloying, sweet tones, batting his eyelashes. Keith slaps him with his pencil. 

Shut up. Now, watch.” 

Lance leans in close, eyes trained on the gridded squares on Keith’s paper, and watches as he quickly writes out the character, stroke by stroke. Samurai - 侍. 

“That doesn’t look so complicated,” Lance says, confidently taking Keith’s pencil from him and beginning to sketch. Keith snorts the moment he makes his first stroke, murmuring something about how it’s not the right order, but Lance ignores him. With his tongue between his teeth and brows furrowed, he finishes his character and proudly turns the paper around for Keith’s inspection. 

Keith starts laughing. “Oh my god, it looks like a kid wrote it!”

“Hey!” Lance folds his arms, glaring. “That’s rude! I tried my best!” 

“I know you did,” Keith says, smiling and shaking his head. “We’ll work on it.” 

Lance sticks his tongue out at Keith and flops onto his stomach, content to once again just observe as Keith traces. “I’m not the one that needs to know how to write samurai, samurai. That’s your job.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Keith writes out the same character underneath Lance’s. It’s nearly perfect. “Just try to teach me Spanish sometime. I’m sure I’ll be bad if not worse than you were at writing this kanji.” 

“You can bet on it,” Lance replies enthusiastically. “I’d love to see you pronounce Spanish words. You can barely manage English.”

Keith doesn’t deign Lance’s nagging with a response, but that’s okay; he’s already back to his writing, switching between 侍 and 武, the latter of which looks much more complicated. Maybe Keith went easy on him by giving him samurai to write. 

“You’re pretty cool, samurai,” Lance admits, gazing tenderly up at Keith’s concentrated face. Keith’s skin rapidly flushes, and he messes up one of his characters, cursing under his breath. 

“S-Shut up,” is all he says in response, which makes Lance feel like he’s won something. And Keith looks awfully pretty blushing like that.

After this, maybe Lance can convince him to do something other than work. 

Chapter Text

Keith!” 

The next thing Keith knows, he’s being rushed by six different people, all crying out his name, and he greets them with a relieved smile, allowing himself to be drowned in a sea of outstretched arms. 

“Hi,” he says, voice breaking. “I’m back.”

“We missed you so much, dude! It’s been months. We thought you were never coming back,” Hunk says eagerly, crushing him in a big hug. Keith coughs a little as his lungs are squeezed, but he’s still smiling. 

“Keith, you must keep in better contact with us!” Allura chimes in, shaking her head with a smile. “Honestly, you could’ve been stuck in a quantum abyss for all we knew.”

Keith laughs a little, short and sweet. “No, just with the Blade. Got sent on some questionable missions, though.” 

“So you’re back? This means you’re back on the team, right?” Pidge gazes up at him with round, shining eyes. Keith’s taken aback by just how happy she is to see him, and feels a surge of emotion.

“Y-Yeah. Well, I’d like to.” Keith drops his gaze nervously to the ground. “If you’ll still have me.” 

There’s a moment of silence, wherein Keith’s anxiety ricochets up to truly heart attack-inducing proportions and he wonders if he might have truly fucked himself over with all of them after all. 

And then they’re all crashing back into him, overjoyed. 

“Of course, you rascal, you!” Coran sniffs, his voice watery and choked. 

“You always have a place here with us, Keith,” Shiro says kindly, squeezing him gently on his shoulder even as everyone else presses in and crushes him. 

Keith nods, and then keeps nodding, and before he knows it he’s crying and collapsing on the floor, a great weight lifted off of his shoulders. Everyone else, after a moment of stunned silence, join him on the ground, comforting and shushing him until he can catch his breath and wipe the worst of his tears away. 

Afterward, they all congratulate him on his return and slip away one by one until Hunk departs with a meaningful glance, leaving just two people left. 

Keith and Lance. 

Lance shoves his hands in his pockets. He’s blushing a little. 

“Hey, Keith,” he says, not looking Keith’s way. Keith swallows, nervous; Lance is the one person whose response he wasn’t sure of, considering he left suddenly and without explanation. Just when they were becoming a team. 

Just when they were becoming friends. 

Just when they were becoming a little bit more. 

“Hi, Lance,” Keith returns quietly. He takes a tentative step towards him and takes a breath. “I--I missed you. A lot.” 

Lance looks up at him so fast that Keith’s concerned that he might break his neck for a moment, but he doesn’t; however, he’s blinking a lot now, and Keith has a moment of panic where he thinks that maybe that look did mess something up with Lance’s head, and then Lance lets out a shaky breath and rushes forward and envelopes Keith in his arm. 

Shocked, Keith doesn’t respond for a moment, but his instinct kicks in and he starts hugging back, loosely at first but then tight, so tight, and Lance reciprocates. 

“We’re talking later, Kogane,” Lance murmurs, resting his head on top of Keith’s, “but for now--I’m glad you’re back. I missed you too. I missed you--” Lance swallows, voice wobbling-- “a lot.”

Keith nods, feeling tears prick at his eyes (again), and buries his face in Lance’s chest. “I’m so glad to be back.”

Home. He’s finally returned home. 

Chapter Text

Hanging out at Shiro’s house for Halloween was, in retrospect, probably not one of Keith’s smartest ideas. 

“Keith, get the door, it’s probably more kids!” Shiro calls from the kitchen, sounding stressed--and why wouldn’t he be, when he’d decided (completely on his own) that, instead of handing out store-bought branded candy to the trick-or-treaters marching to his door, he’d be super extra and just make candy from scratch

Yeah. Keith thinks he’s fucking insane.

It doesn’t help that he’d totally underestimated the amount of kids that would come knocking, resulting in him being almost entirely confined to the kitchen with Adam, rushing to replace the continuously dwindling supply of treats and sending Keith, in the meantime, to deal with the kids. 

Sigh. 

Keith makes his way reluctantly back to the door, grabbing the bucket of chocolates and gummies on his way. With a deep breath, Keith plasters a (very clearly) forced smile onto his face and opens the door. 

“Happy Hallo--”

TRICK OR TREAT!” 

Keith blinks, disoriented by the loud yell he’s been met with, but a second later he registers the voice--and with it, the face. 

Lance?!” Keith says, incredulous. “What--Why are you here?”

With a dismissive wave of his hand, Lance ignores Keith’s question and takes it upon himself to push past him and into the house, holding down the top of his witch hat (his witch hat?!) as he does. 

Nonplussed but rather unwilling to turn down the company of someone his age--ugh, fine, unwilling to turn down the company of a pretty boy he maybe-kind-of-sort-of-possibly-COULD have a crush on, Keith just nods and lets the door fall shut behind Lance. 

Once he’s standing in the light, Keith surveys him. “You’re...a witch, then?”

Lance beams and does a little twirl. “Yup!”  His velvet black cloak swishes around him, revealing his full outfit of a sleeveless blue turtleneck and checkered pants. The witch hate, which Keith notices is complete with sequined stars and a crooked point, falls off at the motion.

Keith snickers, but his cheeks are dusted pink, betraying his stronger emotion--god, Lance is cute. And in this style, he’s kind of hot. 

“Ugh.” With a frustrated huff, Lance bends down and picks the hat back up, situating it back onto his head. Keith waits patiently. “Anyway, happy Halloween! The house looks great, give Shiro kudos from me.” 

“Thanks, Lance.” Shiro’s voice floats from the kitchen, and a moment later he’s poking his head over the side of the doorframe with a smile. “Nice to see you, Lance.” 

Lance gives an awkward little laugh, raising a hand that Keith just now notices is gloved to wave at him. “Haha, you too!” 

“Why are you here?” Keith repeats, crossing over to the living room couch and propping himself on the arm of it. Lance looks wounded. 

“Can’t I just pay you a visit out of the goodness of my own heart, Kogane?” he says in simpering tones. Keith hears a laugh that sounds suspiciously like Adam come from the kitchen. 

He rolls his eyes and levels Lance with a deadpan stare and a raised eyebrow. Lance sighs. 

Fine.” He plops himself down on the sofa seat next to where Keith’s perched. “My little brother is having a Halloween party with his friends, and while I might be okay with that occasionally, it’s a bit much when there’s screaming kids both inside and outside my house.” 

“Aww, can’t take some children?” Keith mocks, leaning toward Lance with a teasing look. “Weak.” 

“Oh, shut up, you wouldn’t last ten seconds in my house,” Lance replies and, okay, fair enough.

“Well, you can hand out candy, then, extrovert,” Keith orders, stretching out and leaning back lazily against the wall and pulling his phone out. “I’m tapping out.” 

With an outraged look, Lance lets out a high-pitched “no way!” and pulls at Keith’s arm, sending him toppling into the couch and into Lance’s lap. 

“Hey--Lance!” Keith cries, scrambling to try to right himself and blushing furiously. At least Lance isn’t doing much better; he’s sputtering and pushing Keith off of him as well.

Once seated properly next to Lance instead of on top of him, Keith glares angrily. “Don’t do that!” 

“Don’t send me to do your errands!” Lance returns, poking Keith in the chest. Keith bats his hand away, annoyed. “I brought you a costume and everything, too!”

“You--” Keith stops, doubles back, and stares. “Wait. You brought me a costume?” 

Looking proud at his successful attempt at distraction, Lance nods eagerly and starts rummaging around in a black bag Keith hadn’t even known he’d had, since it blended in with his stupid cloak so well. 

A moment later, he pulls something out with a flourish, and it takes Keith a beat or two to figure out what it is--and when he does, his confusion turns to deadly chill. 

“Fuck you,” he says. Lance starts nodding, eyes gleaming. “Fuck you. If you think, for one second, that I’m putting on cat ears--”

And a tail!” Lance interrupts cheerfully, wagging it in his hand. He lifts his other, which contains a black choker, complete with a tiny little bell. “And a choker! C’mon, who could resist?”

Keith shakes his head rapidly. “No, no way, there is no way you’re getting me into a catboy costume--” 

Ten minutes later, Keith jingles down the stairs with perched ears, a hanging tail, a collar around his neck, and a gaze that would kill anyone except, apparently, Lance McClain, because he is preening. 

“Perfect,” Lance exhales, clapping his hands together. “You make such a sexy kitty, Kogane, maybe you should make this your new look!” 

“Quit flirting where we can hear you,” Adam says from the kitchen, though he sounds like he’s holding back laughter. Lance’s bravado disappears, and he lets out a nervous, high-pitched chuckle. 

“What, flirting? I’m not flirting, I’m making fun of him, can’t you tell the di--hey, Kogane, not so fast!” 

Keith, who’d turned heel and was trying to disappear back upstairs to make his escape, feels an insistent pull on his shirt, and sighs. He turns around. 

“You’re dead to me,” Keith tells Lance, narrowing his eyes. “Watch your back.” 

Lance makes an annoying “oooooooh” sound, but before he can say anything, the doorbell rings. Shiro rushes out, shoves a few more fresh candies into Keith’s hands, and points urgently at the door. 

Go.” 

Keith gives him a wide-eyed stare. “But--”

“Go!” 

Keith can hear Lance snickering. He wants to die. “Shiro, I--”

It’s too late; Shiro has disappeared back into the kitchen, leaving Keith with the candies and a guy who desperately wants to see Keith make a fool of himself. 

“C’mon, catboy, you can be my familiar,” Lance says cheekily, tapping him on the nose. Keith snaps his mouth at him, but unfortunately Lance retracts his hand too quickly. 

Just as quickly, he uses his other hand to grab Keith by the wrist and pulls him towards the door, hat turning lopsided on his head. He flings the door open, giving the gathered children a winning smile. Keith sulks next to him, arms folded, looking for all his whining like the perfect embodiment of a nettled black cat. 

“Trick-or-treat!” 

Chapter Text

Keith sighs, twirling his finger lazily and watching the fire ignite and swirl around it, simmering a deep red, like embers. 

Lance makes a tch noise from his place pressed against Keith, back-to-back. Keith throws him a glare. “Shut up.” 

“You’re drying out the air, Kogane,” Lance complains, snapping his fingers and gesturing dramatically when no water appears. “See!” 

“Relax,” Keith says, pushing back against Lance’s back and beginning to twirl his finger faster, igniting the fire even more. “What’s wrong with a little fire?” 

Lance pouts. “It kills my water. Asshole.” 

Rolling his eyes, Keith discretely blows a little on the fire, sending it dancing towards Lance, crackling and sparking as it does. Keith directs it without looking, waving his finger around and smiling a little, keeping it flitting around Lance and playfully nipping at him from time to time. 

Lance is giggling, pressing back against Keith and swatting intermittently at the flame, though his movements are aborted and marked with fear of being burned. “Hey! Leave me alone! I don’t want your fire kisses!” 

“Not even a little?” Keith teases, pulling his fire spark playfully inward, letting it singe the very ends of Lance’s hair before tapping his fingers together and extinguishing it. Lance shrieks, waving his arms frantically, and he jumps up in outrage.

“Fuck you!” he cries, pointing an accusatory finger at Keith. Laughing, Keith stands as well and steps forward, looping his arms around Lance’s warm neck. 

“Please?” he returns innocently, making Lance flush. 

“God, I can’t handle flirty Keith,” Lance mumbles, dropping his head and pressing their foreheads together. “I hate you, though.”

With a wide smile, Keith leans forward, kissing Lance slowly, savoring the taste of him and the vaguely singed smell he’s still carrying. He’s about to get lost in it, pulling their bodies together with a promise, when suddenly--

AHHHUUGH!”

He’s soaking wet. 

“You--LANCE!” Keith roars, but Lance is already on the run, laughing victoriously. The pool of water he’d been secretly melding sticks around, however, and rears back instantly, ready to douse Keith once more. Keith jumps out of the way just in time; it crashes into the wall behind him. 

Keith whips around and sees Lance’s hands from behind the corner wall, busily controlling the pool of water. 

“You’re dead, McClain,” he murmurs under his breath, pulling his power forward and letting it surge through his hands and shoot out toward Lance. It hits the wall with a sizzle just as Lance shrieks and retracts his arms quickly. 

They should really stop renting apartments if this stuff is going to keep happening. 

Chapter Text

Keith takes a sip of his hot apple cider and shudders a little, but not completely in a bad way? 

“Tastes weird,” he mumbles, slumping further into Lance’s form and curling into him, shuffling their shared blanket around a little. Lance chuckles and raises his own mug.

“We can trade if you want,” he offers, tapping the edge of the cup into Keith’s cheek. 

Keith shakes his head. “I don’t want something that sweet. And I don’t dislike this. Besides,” he leans upward a little and pecks Lance lightly on the lips, “you taste like hot chocolate. I’ll get some anyway.” 

Lance lets out a high-pitched laugh, and Keith can’t help but feel a little proud of himself when he sees that his cheeks are dusted red, accenting his freckles cutely. He snuggles up into Lance further, chasing his flustered, adorable reaction, because it is his absolute favorite

“Haha! Ha.” Lance is looking everywhere but at Keith. “That’s--That’s very presumptuous, Kogane!” 

Keith exaggerates a pout and lifts a hand under Lance’s chin, tilting his face back toward him. He kisses him again, slowly, and makes a show of licking his lips when they part. Lance’s eyes are wide, and his flush has spread down his face and into his neck, tinting all of his visible skin red. The swoop Keith feels in his stomach at the sight makes him feel a little lightheaded. 

“God, I’m way too into you,” Lance says, shaking his head. It’s Keith’s turn to blush and hide his face. “You’re going to be the end of me.”

“A good end, hopefully?” Keith asks, nudging Lance’s foot with his own. 

With a laugh, Lance says, “’Course,” and flings an arm around Keith, pulling him closer. Keith accepts this happily, laying his head on Lance’s shoulder and feeling warm with contentment. 

He licks his lips again. “You know, I’m not sure that apple cider and hot chocolate go very well together.” 

Lance snorts. “We can make anything go well together,” he says, turning to Keith and waggling his eyebrows suggestively. “Finish your drink and we can test as much as we want.” Keith feels another zing in his chest and immediately raises his cup to his lips.

Both of their drinks are gone within ten minutes. 

Chapter Text

Keith stares forward through the window, transfixed by the hanging yellow orb in the sky, surrounded by blackness and stars and the endless vastness of space. It reminds Keith of earth, of being on earth, and that carries with it a mixed bag of emotion that he doesn’t want to--can’t--explore right now.

But it’s simmering below the surface. Probably for both of them, Keith thinks, glancing sideways at Lance, who’s standing next to him and gazing at the foreign moon as well.

Keith nudges him a little, and he starts. “You okay?”

Lance laughs, but it’s kind of hollow and sad. Concerning. “Yeah--Yeah, I’m fine. Just, you know, makes me think of home. Staring at the moon and all that.”

“Did you do that often?” Keith asks kindly, hoping to make Lance feel better in any small way that he can.

“Yeah, lots.” Lance shrugs. “I always loved the stars, you know? And the moon just kinda becomes part of that after a while.” He leans forward onto the railing of the castleship, face tilted upward, smooth skin reflecting the moonlight. “This is the first time we’ve seen one that looks like the earth moon and haven’t, like, landed on it or something.” 

Keith nods, understanding. Though he has his own complicated relationship with the concept of earth, even Keith sometimes misses it, in the very corner of his mind, foggy and faded but still there, pulling at him whenever he has a spare moment. So in this, at least, Keith can relate, if only a little. “Yeah. It’s been a while. It’s--It’s really pretty, though, isn’t it?”

All Lance does is nod, and for a moment Keith thinks he’s truly fucked something up by calling the moon pretty, but then he notices that Lance’s shoulders are shaking, and he’s sniffling, and--

He’s crying. 

“Woah--” Keith starts, turning away from the moon entirely and holding his hands out to Lance. “I didn’t mean to--”

Yeah,” Lance breathes, voice thick with tears. He looks up at Keith with a tired, watery smile. “It’s pretty. It’s--It’s really pretty, Keith.” 

Keith nods slowly, barely comprehending what’s even happening but preoccupied with trying to figure out how to make Lance feel better, because he’s crying, Keith has to do something--

Lance takes a step forward and falls into Keith’s arms. Surprised, Keith takes a few seconds to blink his confusion before rapidly rebooting and tentatively wrapping his arms around Lance in turn. 

“I miss it, Keith,” Lance whispers. 

Tears begin to prick at Keith’s own eyes, too, and it shocks him. But they keep flowing, and before Keith knows it he’s nodding along, tightening his grip and burying his face in Lance’s shoulder like Lance is doing to him. 

“I know,” Keith replies, voice hiccup-y and choked. “Me too. Me too.” 

Eventually, the castleship makes its way past the lone moon, and Lance and Keith stop huddling together and watching it, finally returning to their beds. But the reflected light of the moon leaves shadows well after they do.

Maybe the next time they see one, it won’t be a stranger anymore. 

Chapter Text

Keith has had a bad fucking day. He has about fucking had it with that stupid group of public Homestuck cosplayers harassing him—the lead guy’s name is fucking Lotor. What right does he have to be making fun of Keith for being a try-hard, a recluse, a socially inept hermit, a copy of a bad 80s workout infomercial, a—well, fucking any of those! Lotor gets creative with his insults, which is rich, because Keith could reel off about 500 of his own just about the fact that Lotor unironically wears purple body paint to class in some pretentious statement about beauty standards that nobody but him understands.

But Keith doesn’t. Because he’s a nice fucking guy, thank you very much, and he is not ruled by his impulses.

Speaking of Keith being very clearly above such primal impulsivity, he’s marching rather purposefully towards the Blue Dorm right now, the obnoxious building right next to his. He is very singularly focused on a point in the distance, somewhere 5 minutes from now—dorm 508, aka, the dorm of one Lance McClain.

That fucking asshole.

Keith quickens his strides, actively working against bringing any semblance of logic in his brain, because damnit, he wants this, needs this, needs to somehow channel this coursing frustration and adrenaline into something thoughtless and carnal and maybe a little morally ambiguous—and he needs to do it now. His heart is pounding, and all he’s thinking about (with searing satisfaction) is the reaction he’s going to get when he slams open Lance’s door, grabs him by the collar of his shirt, and kisses him hard. It’ll be great, it’ll be an ego-boost, and, most importantly, it’ll be a fucking outlet.

A fucking outlet, hopefully. If all goes well.

Which, it will, because Keith is too worked up to kid himself anymore—they’re into each other. Oh, absolutely. Keith catches Lance staring at him, daydreaming, sometimes sees the flush of his cheeks when he thinks nobody is looking—yes. And Lance flirts with everybody, but he flirts almost specifically at Keith; sometimes sweet, sometimes not, sometimes fuel for Keith’s wicked 3am dreams that nobody else knows about.

Lance has to like him. Has to. And, well, if he doesn’t, then—Keith wants him to, wants to make sure, wants to try.

And he’s going to get at least one thing that he wants on his hellish day.

By now Keith’s entered the building, bypassing the elevator and marching up the stairs, because if he stops moving for even a second he’s going to start thinking about this, and he doesn’t want that. He wants release.

He reaches 508 and, drawing up short in front of the door, deigns his left-brain ( WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU IDIOT CAN YOU JUST THINK OF THE CONSEQUENCES FOR ONE FUCKING SECOND— ) a single moment of recognition ( hey, thanks for your input. Also fuck you, I do what I want, bye ) and then twists the handle harshly, barreling into the room before he even knows the door is unlocked.

Lance is laying on his bed, listening to music—clearly not that loudly, though, because he looks up when the door cracks against the back wall.

Keith is stood there, still for a millisecond, soaking in Lance’s expression of complete surprise before it morphs into something half-haughty, half-annoyed.

Oh, god. He’s going to talk, Keith thinks, sighing somewhere in the back of his mind that isn’t currently occupied with imagining pushing Lance against the wall, climbing on top of him, and leaving at least ten dark red marks across the line of his neck—

“You know, if you wanted to see me, I would’ve answered a knock—” Lance begins, craning his neck to look around Keith and make sure his wall isn’t damaged, but Keith’s not listening. He’s not really listening to anything, now, because his brain is filled with the rushing sound of blood and adrenaline, and before he even knows what he’s doing, he’s leaning halfway on the bed, hovering over Lance with both hands curled into fists centimetres away from Lance’s hips on the covers.

Lance’s voice falters.

“Um, what’re you—” he starts, but Keith’s already crashing down onto him (bringing the room with him, pulling them both into a singularity), claiming his lips with such a raw, decidedly uncensored desire that takes Lance’s breath away.

Keith surges forwards, startling Lance backwards onto his bedframe, and snakes his hands around Lance’s hips, pressing his palms into the jutting hipbones and sighing into Lance’s mouth. Lance is trembling now, but he’s kissing back enthusiastically, so Keith’s fairly certain that he has permission to keep doing whatever the fuck he’s doing right now.

He carefully slides his body onto the bed and settles himself onto Lance’s lap, not breaking contact with the kiss the entire time. Lance’s hands have been skating from Keith’s hair to his back to his waist for a while now, but the moment Keith has properly situated himself—their hips pressing together almost painfully—his kissing becomes a little more insistent, and he slips his hands under Keith’s shirt.

Keith arches into the touch— that’s cold, what the fuck —pressing forward as Lance’s fingernails dig into his back, reveling in the sharpness of the pain that coincides perfectly with the rush of intensity that he’s feeling right now.

He breaks off the kiss and switches his attention to the smooth curvature of Lance’s neck and his collarbones, which look far too perfect for something like this. He ducks his head into the area and mouths at it for a while before biting down and sucking— hard —feeling stabs of excitement and arousal when Lance sucks in a breath and his breathing becomes more laboured.

“I—fuck, I have no idea what you’re doing, Kogane, but I swear to god if you walk out on me now I will fucking kill you,” Lance pants before spilling out a series of Spanish curses as Keith rapidly kisses his way hotly back towards Lance’s mouth.

“You’re gorgeous,” Keith breathes, nipping at Lance’s ear and appreciating soundly the way it makes his hands curl against his (Keith’s) back. “And I’ve wanted you for a long fucking time.”

“Keith Kogane, honour student? Talking to me like that? Seems a bit not— shit, okay—n-not your style,” Lance replies, biting his lip as Keith finally slips his hands under Lance’s shirt, touching the warm skin in a searing, almost possessive manner.

Keith stops his incessant sucking in favour of fully looking at Lance, his eyes swallowed in dark black and lust, his hands skating across Lance’s skin and finally settling on top of his belt, tapping in a torturously teasing way that makes Lance feel powerless in a fantastic way.

“Well, better take advantage of my momentary lapse, hm?” Keith suggests, swollen lips lifting in a challenging smirk that he knows Lance won’t be able to turn down. Anger does breed confidence, after all.

“…Yes, please,” Lance nearly squeaks after a moment, hands grabbing clumsily at Keith’s top before he presses back against Keith’s mouth in a kiss that is anything but sweet and slow.

Hm. Maybe Keith should say thank you to Lotor once in a while.

Chapter Text

Keith adjusts his falling cat ears and clutches onto the bowl of popcorn he’s been stuck with, trying to keep it from toppling over as Lance and Hunk shove at him, talking to each other loudly even though Keith is literally right between them and holding something very important, but whatever. It’s their fault if popcorn gets all over the floor. 

“Hey!” Pidge barks from in front of them, turning around and glaring at the three of them. Her look lacks the bite it would’ve had she not been wrapped in an orange fluffy blanket with pumpkins all over it, or had she not been curled up next to Allura, sister-style. Also, she’s dressed in a cardboard-cutout robot costume, which is exceptionally ridiculous since their paladin armor could’ve substituted as robot costume, so that doesn’t help. “Can you shut up? The movie’s about to start!” 

We have control over the movie,” Lance says, pointing dramatically at Shiro, witch hate whipping around and landing lopsided on his head. Shiro, who is doing a couples costume with Adam where he’s the astronaut and Adam is the alien (which is kind of hilarious for numerous reasons, not least the fact that a real alien is leaning against the legs of the fake-alien right now), is sitting behind Keith with Adam and clutching the remote; he looks surprised at being spoken of. “It doesn’t start until we say so! Right, Shiro?” 

Hunk’s nodding vigorously next to him, causing his bear-ears to fall into his face for a moment, and Keith cranes to look back and see what Shiro’s response is. He’s silent for a moment, and then he slowly lifts the remote, pressing play.

The movie blinks into existence. 

Lance and Hunk let out howls of anguish and betrayal, while Pidge breaks out into peels of laughter at her victory. Even Allura is snickering in her fairy-like garb, shooting Coran an exasperated look, and he laughs too, mustache bristling and making the cowboy hat on his head even more fitting. Lance huffs audibly and slumps back into Keith’s side.

“Nobody’s on my side around here,” he bemoans, nuzzling his nose into Keith’s neck and making him feel chills. The bridge of his large hat juts into Keith’s cheek. “I know Halloween’s the time to be evil, but that was just cruel.” He turns to Keith with wide, round eyes. “You agree, right, Keith? Best boyfriend on the planet? 

Feeling butterflies of delight fluttering through his stomach at the identity, which he still hasn’t gotten used to yet, Keith raises his voice and says cheerfully, “Shiro, could you turn it up a bit?” 

Shiro complies, and Lance lurches back with dramatic hurt in his eyes. “Evil,” he says. He pokes Keith’s cat ears. “Evil catboy.” 

“Don’t be mean to him,” Hunk says protectively, pulling Keith closer to him and stroking his hair like he would a cat. Keith starts blushing, because Hunk is so nice and great and warm and he can’t help it. “We have to support people with different opinions from us. This is how world peace happens.” 

“Give me my catboy back,” Lance replies moodily, yanking Keith nearly onto his lap.

“I’m my own catboy, you know,” Keith says, but he’s smiling; being manhandled by these two isn’t exactly the worst thing in existence. 

“You’re right. I’m so sorry, catboy Keith,” Hunk says solemnly. He gives Keith a tiny pat on the head, which makes him giggle a little. 

Lance is staring at him with amused, adoring eyes. “You’re so cute,” he says, and pushes his nose back into Keith’s neck, kissing his throat lightly. 

“Lance.” Shiro’s voice comes from above, like it’s god, and he has a kind-of-not-but-probably-it-actually-is-serious note of warning in his tone. “That’s my little brother. Take it somewhere else.” 

Sticking out his tongue at Shiro (and receiving a raised eyebrow and rather unnerving stare from Adam in return), Lance finally settles down, allowing Keith to take his place leaning against him, head resting on the arm behind him. 

“I had to watch you and Adam do the same thing, hypocrite,” Keith says cooly, looking knowingly up at Shiro with a smirk. He rolls his eyes but doesn’t press it, which Keith takes as a win.

Pidge is back to shushing them, and this time Allura joins in, throwing a glare at Lance that has him anxiously averting his eyes and making a zipping motion with his fingers in front of his mouth. 

Everyone does quiet down after that, though, and they’re able to watch Halloweentown in peace, munching on candy out of pumpkin-shaped buckets amidst the light of the flickering candles. Halloween has always been Keith’s favorite holiday, but it had lost some of (most of) its magic after his dad died; nobody was around to take him trick-or-treating anymore, and he hadn’t had a neighborhood or friends to go trick-or-treating with, for the most part. 

His teenage years were spent piloting, and then fighting space war. He hasn’t had to have a normal Halloween for nearly a decade--until now, the first one after they’ve all returned, after everything’s over. 

After the best birthday Keith can remember having. Looking around him, at the group of people huddled close with blankets and popcorn and candy, at his boyfriend curled up next to him, thumbing circles and heart shapes into his wrist, Keith knows that this is the best Halloween he’ll remember having, too. 

For the first time since his dad died, Keith feels a real sense of family in the permanent way he’d thought was lost to him forever, given the foster system and Shiro’s line of work and the war. But it’s here, all around him, pulling him in close and comforting, loyal and true and his

Yeah. It’s a happy Halloween, indeed.