Keith was never good at expressing his feelings.
In fact, this was probably the understatement of the century. Keith has always been really bad at expressing his feelings. Many therapy sessions served as proof of that.
But he was good at one thing: writing. It took him a while to get it right — he made Shiro promise to never mention the time when he tried to write poetry — but he found himself in music. Everything that was too much to talk about? He wrote. It was simple... and he had plenty of stuff to write about.
One of those things was Lance McClain. He had lost count of how many sleepless nights he spent staring at his notebook, obsessing over every little detail because nothing felt right. Nothing felt enough. Lance was a lot of things, but mostly, he was a lot. Keith didn't know how to put a presence as great and devastating as Lance into words, but he was nothing if not persistent, so he kept trying.
❛Someone said they left together
I ran out the door to get him
He was holding hands with Heather
Not the greatest feeling ever ❜
When Keith said he wanted inspiration to write about Lance, that was not what he wanted. He didn't want the feeling of his heart breaking into pieces. He didn't want tears wrinkling the pages of his notebook in the middle of the night. He didn't want to relive that night with every new word he wrote.
But he didn't know any other way to express himself, so he kept going.
❛Said, pull yourself together
You should try your luck with Trevor
Then I heard they slept together
Oh, the less I know the better❜
He always knew that Lance didn't belong to him. That they were just friends. That Lance only had eyes for Allura. That he didn't know how important he was to Keith. So he put everything on the pages of his notebook.
And if he couldn't tell Lance how he felt, then he was going to tell the rest of the world.
The next day, Shiro found his brother sleeping with his head on the table, surrounded by torn paper balls and a new song ready. For the first time, he said nothing after reading one of Keith's compositions.
“Keith Kogane! It is an honor to welcome you back to my show after your new release!”
Talk shows were usually a nightmare for the boy. They had all the hard parts of social interactions that Keith tried his best to avoid, only with three times the pressure. He had started training himself to answer most questions automatically, hoping that no one would notice his lack of energy if he acted the same way in every interview.
While he recited yet another one of his memorized answers about his new song, he paid attention to everything else: the sweat covering the palms of his hands, the bright lights from the reflectors, the whispers from the crew, the piercing sensation of eyes over him, the way his heart was beating too fast and too slow at the same time. He blinked his eyes forcefully, trying to break the trance and focus on the interviewer's voice, but his brain seemed to be processing everything at the speed of light.
“... want to know, did you write this song about someone?” That question was enough to finally break the trance, removing all the unnecessary buzz from his brain, leaving him with nothing. No rehearsed answers this time.
“I- uhmm-” He blushed. The interviewer laughed, amused by his sudden shyness. “Yeah, I wrote this song about someone.”
“Someone special? I'm sure a lot of fans are heartbroken right now.”
“This is one of the most personal and sincere songs I've ever written.” He forced a smile. “It’s a story that’s hard to be told in any other way.”
“So how about you sing the song for us?” The interviewer smiled broadly, gesturing to the stage. Okay, Keith got up, it’s easier this way.
❛Oh my love, can't you see yourself by my side
No surprise when you're on her shoulder like every night
Oh my love, can't you see that you're on my mind
Don't suppose we could convince your lover to change her mind
“So you’re not even going to tell me where we’re going?” Lance raised an eyebrow, a little concerned about his friend’s the sudden secrecy.
“Does it matter if I tell you or not?” Pidge replied, not taking her eyes off her phone.
“Probably! If you’re not gonna tell me!”
Getting the truth out of Pidge was a difficult job that Lance didn't have enough time to try, but just one look in Hunk's direction was enough to notice that he was barely holding on.
“Huuuuunk,” he whimpered, leaning on his best friend, “you need to tell me! If it’s something important, I need to be ready!”
“I don't know, Lance...” he mumbled, looking away.
“I can't believe my best friend is keeping secrets from me.” He put a hand on his chest, pretending to feel pain. Hunk's expression grew more uneasy, but it still wasn't enough. “Oh, how it hurts! The betrayal by those you trust the most.”
Pidge murmured something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like “drama queen”, but he could see the exact moment that guilt flashed in Hunk's eyes.
“We're going to see a show.”
“Hunk!” Pidge cried out in disappointment. Hunk sobbed softly, covering his face with his hands.
“That sounds great! Whose show it is?”
“Hunk, don't you dare...”
“Keith’s.” Hunk interrupted, voice muffled behind his hands. Lance stopped walking abruptly, a pained expression on his face.
Keith had stopped talking to Lance a few months ago, Lance didn't know how many anymore, he decided to stop counting after the third. He still didn't know exactly when or why they started to drift apart, only that Keith stopped showing up for their group meetups, stopped responding to text messages… stopped looking directly into Lance's eyes before completely disappearing from his life.
He missed him more than he could put into words, and he had tried to put it into words several times in all those nights he spent awake, revisiting every moment they had together and looking for what he could have done wrong. After a while, he just stopped trying, but that didn't make it hurt any less.
But thanks to his friends, he was now at one of the brunette's shows, with VIP passes and access to dressing rooms. Did Keith even know that he was there?
If he still had any doubts that Keith knew he was there, it disappeared the moment Keith fixed his eyes on Lance’s, his voice resonating through the speakers:
“I think this is one of the favorites.” The band behind him started playing the first chords of the song, but Keith's eyes stayed fixed on him. Lance felt his blood boil, the boy's attention fueling the fire burning inside him. “This one’s really important to me, so I hope you like it.”
He finally looked away from him when he started singing, but Lance felt empty without the weight of Keith's attention. He wanted more. He needed more.
Don't make me wait forever… don't make me wait forever...
He... knew this song. Even after Keith stopped talking to him, Lance continued to follow his career. His voice had an effect on Lance that always left him disoriented, but he chased that sensation every time. And he was sure had heard this song before, the anguish consuming the lyrics along with the audience's reaction made him remember the first time he had heard it. Just before Keith started acting weird around him, distancing himself.
He was lying awake in bed. For the first time in a long time, Keith hadn't invited everyone over to his house to listen to the song together at the premiere, but that didn't stop Shiro from sending the link to their group chat. Out of everyone, Lance was the only one who had not yet sent the congratulations for the new release, he wanted to wait until he was alone to be able to hear the song properly, but also... Keith was acting strange in the last few days and just the idea of sending one message was enough to make Lance anxious.
That night he was too distracted to pay attention to the lyrics, despite the silence. He lost himself in the melody, letting his thoughts fly away until he fell asleep with the song playing on repeat.
But now, despite the noise of the crowd mixed with the loud sound of the speakers surrounding him and hammering inside his head, the lyrics were the focus of his attention, and they brought back memories of a party. Of a kiss. Of a confession.
He swallowed, thinking of Keith's intense gaze just before the song started.
This song was about him.
❛He said, "It's not now or never
Wait ten years, we'll be together"
I said, "Better late than never
Just don't make me wait forever"
Don't make me wait forever❜
Pidge and Hunk tried to take him to the dressing room after the show, but he pretended to be sick so he could go home. Hunk gave him a ride home, being the best friend in the world as usual, while Pidge decided to stay. She made sure they didn't wait for her, saying that Keith would take her home later. Lance thanked the universe for taking pity on him this time.
He spent the night listening to that song and researching it, reading every analysis and theory made by fans, watching all the interviews. The next day, he had come to some conclusions:
1) This song was definitely about the last party that he and Keith went to together. The same party where he had confessed to Allura and kissed her for the first time.
2) He had officially lost all his chances of getting Keith back.
He remembered that night as if it were yesterday. He remembered the euphoria and how he couldn't keep the smile off his face during the whole party. He remembered happiness, but also the feeling that something was still wrong, as if the world suddenly tilted a little off its axis and only he had noticed it. He remembered how he had dismissed that feeling, because “this is how he should feel”, because it was normal to feel lost right after kissing the girl he was in love with. (That’s normal... right?)
(He remembered how he had spent that entire night trying to assure himself that he would never be able to choose between the two people who owned his heart. The truth is: he didn't want to. He wasn't ready yet.)
It took a few weeks for them to realize that it wasn't going to work. He and Allura were never officially in a relationship before agreeing that they would be better off as friends; before Lance realized he was in love with someone else. And by the time he realized it was too late, and Keith would not answer any of his calls.
To make things worse, apparently Keith also had feelings for him.
But after so long, Keith was still writing love songs, and Lance knew how intimate these songs were to him. Keith had moved on, probably fell in love with someone else, and Lance had missed his chance. So deep in denial that he didn't realize that everything he ever wanted was by his side all along.
[“Your style has changed a lot recently, everyone keeps talking about your new songs. This album has a strong theme of romance in it, is this a confirmation that someone finally managed to charm you?”
“I don't really like having to explain the meaning of my songs, I prefer to leave it open for interpretation, but...” he stopped for a moment, pursing his lips. The interviewer leaned towards him, eyes narrowed in anticipation. “Let's say I had a lot of inspiration lately.”
“You heard it here first!” She pointed in the direction of the camera before turning back to him. “Any chance of you sharing some names with us too?”
“That would make things too easy, wouldn't it?” he dodged the question, and the interviewer laughed, a little too loudly to be genuine.
“It seems that we have a mystery in our hands, then. The case of who stole Keith Kogane's heart.”]
When Lance came home that afternoon, he found his apartment full.
“Hunk! I said the spare key was for emergencies only!” That was his first reaction, immediately setting his eyes on his best friend.
“Sorry, Lance, but this is important.”
Hunk spoke quietly, careful not to disturb the peace in the room. Lance swallowed hard and sat up, the weight of everyone's eyes on him making his legs wobbly.
“This is an intervention, Lance.” Pidge was the first person to speak, voice stern. “You and Keith need to talk.”
Before he could open his mouth to protest, Shiro sat next to him, setting a hand on his shoulder.
“He misses you, Lance.”
“And more importantly: no one can take it anymore!” Pidge exclaimed, exasperated. “Look, I don't know what happened between you two since Keith refuses to tell me, but it doesn't matter, you need to sort this out.”
“Yeah man. And it’s super weird not seeing you two together,” Hunk added, his face contorting in concern. Pidge crossed her arms beside him.
“And it’s obvious that both of you are not happy with this! Keith is not the same since you stopped talking, and apparently you feel sick just by being around him for too long.”
(Okay, he thought, maybe lying to your closest friends wasn’t that easy.)
They all looked at Lance, who sighed. His attention fell on the fifth person in the room, the only one who hadn’t said anything.
“Lance...” Allura started slowly, a faint smile on her face as a gesture of sympathy. “I know this is difficult for you, but... Keith is my friend too, and he hasn't spoken to me since. And I know that you must miss him as much as I do.”
“I understand that you are upset, but this is not my fault! I tried to talk to him, and it was Keith who ignored me in the first place!” He crossed his arms, lowering his head to avoid the eyes of his friends. “Why do I have to solve a problem that I didn't start?”
“Actually, we're giving you a choice.” Shiro squeezed his shoulder, trying to comfort him. “I talked to Keith too, and he said he wants to try and work things out, but only if you want to. No one here is going to force you into anything, I promise.”
❛Oh my love, can't you see yourself by my side?
I don't suppose you could convince your lover to change her mind
I was doing fine without you
'Til I saw your face, now I can't erase❜
Keith spent the day in front of the mirror rehearsing what he was going to say, the same way he used to do before his interviews, but now that he was face to face with Lance again, he just couldn't get anything out.
They were standing in the living room of his house for some time now, and so far neither of them had spoken a word. Lance cleared his throat, opening his mouth to say something.
“I'm sorry.” Keith blurted out before Lance could say anything. “I know you must be mad at me, and you have all the reasons to, so… I’m sorry.”
Lance let out a heavy sigh and sat on the couch, his hands running through his hair. Keith wanted to be able to do it too, fix up the mess Lance was making and stroke the boy's hair until that tired expression was gone from his face.
He took a step back and looked away. Just in case.
“The other day, at your show,” he said, his voice hesitant, “did you know I was going?”
“Shiro told me. He gave the tickets to Pidge.”
“And the song...”
He swallowed and just nodded, still unable to look directly at Lance.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Would it matter?”
“Yes, Keith! It would!” He stood up, outraged. Keith took a few steps back, but Lance crossed the distance between them.
“You were dating Allura.” He crossed his arms and straightened up, but Lance was too close, and all Keith wanted was to fall into his arms.
“My God, Keith! Allura and I only went out a few times!”
Keith stepped back again, but Lance took another step forward, rubbing his face in frustration.
“Why do you keep running away from me?” He asked quietly, his voice muffled by his hands covering his face. Keith didn't need to see his face to know that Lance was holding back tears.
“I thought you would be better off without me,” he confessed. He took a deep breath and uncrossed his arms, holding Lance's wrists carefully and pulling his hands away from his face. “I'm sorry.”
“All right.” He took another step forward, closing the distance between them. This time Keith did not step back, not even when Lance pulled into a hug. “I forgive you, but only if you promise that you’ll stay this time.”
“I promise,” he whispered, burying his face in the curve of the boy's neck and closing his eyes, finally relaxing in his arms. “I missed you.”
❛Giving in to all her bullshit
Is this what you want, is this who you are?
I was doing fine without you
'Til I saw your eyes turn away from mine❜
They cried in each other's arms, words and promises lost between tears and sobs, until Keith was too tired to stand. They laid down together on the couch, arms and legs intertwined, neither of them ready yet to let the other go after so long.
When Keith woke up, he was alone on the couch. His entire body shivered with the empty feeling of the lack of contact, and he began to think that maybe it had all been a dream. His mind trying to torture him again.
“So...” Lance’s voice popped the bubble of anxiety in Keith’s mind. He looked up quickly, finding the brunette standing by the kitchen door, a glass of water in his hand and a roguish smile on his face. “You wrote a song about me? I'm flattered.”
Keith groaned, throwing himself back on the cushions and burying his face in his hands. Lance laughed softly.
“Can't we just forget that?”
“Forget that you wrote an entire song about how much you loved me and then stopped talking to me for months? Not at all, I'm going to use this against you for the rest of your life, mullet.” Keith couldn't help the smile that bloomed on his face. He dropped his hands so he could look Lance in the eye.
“Does that mean you plan on staying for the rest of it?”
“If you don't try to push me away again.” Keith quickly shook his head.
Lance's smile lit up his face, taking the weight of exhaustion out of his expression. Keith decided at that moment that he would do anything to keep that smile on his face.
“And I know you're not very good at apologies but,” he said, his smile fading a little. “You should apologize to Allura too, man. She misses you.”
“I know.” Keith sighed, guilt flooding his expression. “I already talked to Shiro about it and I'm going to talk to her too, I just... wanted to talk to you first.”
Lance nodded, drinking his water and enjoying the silence for a moment. It’s been a while since he had been able to enjoy a comfortable silence between him and Keith, but even though he wanted to savor every second of it, he still had a voice in the back of his mind that didn't want to shut up.
“Actually, I have another question.”
“Yes, I wrote other songs about you,” Keith replied immediately, amused by the way Lance’s eyes widened and his face turned a shade of pink.
Lance drank another sip of his water and sat down next to Keith on the couch, shaking his head as if that would get rid of the blush on his cheeks.
“This is not what I wanted to know, but I will keep that in mind.” He pointed at Keith, eyes narrowed. It was difficult to take the threat seriously when he was trying so hard not to smile. “I wanted to know... what you wrote in the song... if you meant it.”
“About my crush on you?” He raised an eyebrow. “I thought I already made it very clear.”
“No, not that...”
❛Oh, sweet darling, where she wants you…❜
“I meant the part where you said you’d wait.”
He frowned, watching as Lance’s expression closed again, his eyes clouded. But there was something in his voice... something like hope.
“Yeah,” he replied, moving to take Lance’s hands in his, “I'll wait for you forever, if that's what you want me to. All my other songs were for you, Lance. They are yours in the same way that I am yours.”
Lance intertwined his fingers with Keith’s, placing a kiss on the back of his hand.
“I'm tired of waiting.” Lance leaned his forehead against Keith's, closing his eyes. His face was so close that Keith could feel his breath against his lips. “I could never choose anyone else, anyway. It’s always been you.”
❛… said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”❜
“I love you, Lance.”
Lance closed the distance between them for the last time, stealing the words from his lips with a kiss.
“I love you too.”
Keith pulled him close, kissing him again. He rested one hand on Lance’s chest, thinking about how he could write a million songs to try to describe everything he was feeling right now, but no melody could ever compare to the rhythm of Lance’s heartbeat.