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call me, beep me

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(16/09/2016)

(22:03) TOMORROW

(22:03) TOMORROW

(22:03) Are you actually quoting Annie?

(22:03) I LOVE YA

(22:04) TOMORROW

(22:04) You are.

(22:04) YOU'RE ALWAYS

(22:04) A DAY

(22:05) AWAY

(22:05) Finished?

(22:06) Would you like an encore?

(22:07) Please, no.

(22:09) Okay good, because the guys in the room next door to us just came to complain about the noise.

(22:09) I don't think they can handle anymore.

(22:10) What a shame.

(22:11) Mmhm. But yeah

(22:11) Tomorrow...

(22:12) Tomorrow.

(22:14) On a scale of one to ten, how nervous are you?

(22:15) 11.

(22:16) Aahahaha, same.

(22:16) Maybe 12.

(22:16) Maybe 20.

(22:18) Good to know I'm not the only one who's nervous.

(22:19) Definitely not.

(22:19) Are we doing anything tomorrow, or just going with the flow?

(22:21) Mostly going with the flow, I think?

(22:21) Uh.

(22:21) I do want to take you somewhere, though.

(22:24) What?

(22:24) Where???

(22:27) Secret.

(22:27) Keeeiiiithhhhh.

(22:28) :)

(22:29) Gimme a hint.

(22:31) Nope.

(22:31) My lips are sealed.

(22:33) Wow. Rude.

(22:33) I'm not good with secrets.

(22:34) I'm sure you'll survive.

(22:35) I literally won't.

(22:35) I'll spend the whole night laying in bed thinking about it

(22:35) And then I won't get any sleep, and I'll look like hell tomorrow.

(22:36) Is that what you want, Keith?

(22:36) IS IT?

(22:38) I don't think you could 'look like hell'

(22:38) But sure, I can work with that.

(22:40) Can't tell if there's a subtle compliment in there or not...

(22:42) Oh.

(22:42) Not intentionally, but yeah.

(22:44) Hm :)

(22:44) Tell me where you're taking me.

(22:46) Nope.

(22:46) PLEASE.

(22:48) Alright.

(22:48) Really?

(22:49) No.

(22:51) You're the worst.

(22:51) Has anyone ever told you that?

(22:54) I've heard it once or twice.

(22:55) Can I just have the tiniest hint?

(22:56) No.

(22:57) KEITTTTH.

(22:58) Go to sleep, Lance.

(23:01) How am I supposed to sleep

(23:01) With this hanging over my head?

(23:03) You close your eyes...

(23:03) And sleep.

(23:03) Pretty simple, I thought.

(23:04) THE

(23:04) WORST.


"Blue?" Lance asks, holding up a slightly creased shirt in front of his chest. "Or—" He drops the first shirt and pulls out another, almost identical one from behind his back to hold in front of himself. "Or maybe the slightly darker blue?"

"Lance," Hunk sighs heavily, forearm draped over his tightly shut eyes as he fumbles blindly for his blanket with his free hand. "Is this really necessary?"

"You're right, you're right," Lance nods, subtly tugging the blanket just out of reach, forcing Hunk to sit upright in a pointless attempt to try and yank it back over his head. "I'm wasting my time with the blue. Maybe I should wear red instead. It is his favourite colour, and I'm pretty sure I have a shirt here somewhere..." He trails off, humming thoughtfully as he swivels around on the spot to resume sifting through the mountain of clothes piled high on top of his bed, searching for that one red shirt he's fairly certain he owns.

"Lance," Hunk tries again, irritation seeping slightly into his tone this time, and Lance doesn't need to glance behind him to know there's a pretty fierce glare being levelled in his direction right now. "Do you know what time it is?" Hunk asks, yawning a little as if to emphasise his point as he watches Lance continue to sort through the mess on his bed.

A twinge of guilt surges through him, and Lance makes a mental note to make this up to Hunk sometime soon. "Just gone seven?"

"On a Saturday," Hunk says with a sharp nod, still staring at Lance through slightly narrowed eyes. Though, if Lance is being completely honest, the whole 'I'm Very Annoyed With You Right Now, And You Should Fear Me!' shtick Hunk is going for doesn't really work when he's wearing his old Pikachu pyjamas and matching slippers, but Lance can appreciate the attempt for what it is so he fixes what he hopes is a repentant look on to his face and smiles weakly over at him. "Seven on a Saturday," Hunk continues, still glaring at Lance accusingly. "And you've decided to— What're you even doing?" He eyes the ever-growing pile of clothes on Lance's bed with a wary frown. "Spring cleaning?"

"No," Lance snorts, scrunching an old vest up into a ball so he can lob it towards the reject pile. Though, considering just how big the pile is slowly getting, Lance reasons that maybe having a spring clean sometime soon wouldn't be the worst idea he's ever had. He files the thought away for later - for a time when he's not preoccupied with more pressing issues - and turns his attention back to Hunk. "I'm looking for something to wear."

Hunk lets his gaze slide pointedly towards the mountain of clothes before he drags it back to meet Lance's own gaze, one eyebrow raised in a silent, 'huh?'

"Something nice," Lance clarifies, frowning a little as he picks up a pink t-shirt with the words 'My Parents Went To France And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt' printed across the front in rainbow coloured letters. As far as he knows, his parents have never actually been so France, so he's not entirely sure just where the shirt has come from (or who he's accidentally stolen it from somehow), but it does help to reinforce the idea in his mind that he definitely needs to do a clean out soon.

"Something nice?" Hunk echoes. "Oh." His eyes widen slightly and his mildly pissed off look morphs into something a little more sly. "Today's Saturday."

"Didn't we already establish that?" Lance mumbles, holding up a pair of slightly stained (ketchup, he thinks) black jeans. He inspects them for a few seconds before sighing and tossing them towards the reject pile, adding a much-needed laundry day to his quickly growing list of things to do soon.

"Saturday is Keith Day," Hunk continues, putting particular emphasis on the word Keith. "You've got a date. You know," Hunk hums, dropping his chin into the palm of his hands as he leans forwards and fixes Lance with a soft smile. "I've never seen you put this much effort into a date before."

Lance sticks his tongue out and does the best he can to ignore the warm sensation he can feel slowly crawling up his neck. "I always put this much effort into my dates," Lance sniffs, trying not to dwell too much on the fact that Hunk might - might - have a point there. "You clearly haven't been paying attention. And you call yourself my best friend?"

"Hmmmm," Hunk pretends to ponder the accusation for a second or two before he dramatically shrugs and shakes his head. "Nope. I definitely would've remembered you waking up at seve— Hey!" Hunk yelps, narrowly dodging the pillow Lance halfheartedly chucks in his direction. "I'm just saying," he says pointedly, tossing the pillow back towards Lance, laughing a little when it hits him square in the chest and sends him stumbling backwards a few steps. He gestures to the pile of clothes on Lance's bed. "You're putting a lot of effort in here."

And Lance can't really disagree with him there; not when it's seven am on a Saturday and he's wide awake (and has been for a good hour already - not that Hunk needs to know that; Hunk never needs to know that) with about three-quarters of his wardrobe tipped out on his bed so he can rifle through his clothes to try and find something to wear that makes him look at least semi-decent.

He groans loudly before shuffling across the room to flop dramatically on top of Hunk's bed, burying his face in the sheets as soon as his head touches the soft fabric. Hunk laughs, leaning backwards to pat him sympathetically. "I don't think I've ever seen you so into someone before."

Lance groans again, because, once again, Hunk is right. That's the problem with spending practically every waking moment with your best friend - there's no room for secrets between you.

"I don't want to mess this up," Lance mutters, pausing for a moment or two before flipping over onto his back so he's staring up at the ceiling. He figures he doesn't really need to add that the reason he's suddenly so worried about messing this - this being The Epic Romance of Keith and Lance - up, is because he spent most of the night running through worse case scenario after worse case scenario until the very thought of actually meeting Keith is enough to cause an anxious knot to flare up and start twisting almost painfully in his stomach. Because that's another weird perk to spending so much time with your best friend; after a while, they start to know you better than you know yourself, and if there's anyone who knows Lance, it's Hunk.

"You're not gonna mess up," Hunk sighs, shifting a little on the bed so he can lean backwards and prod Lance lightly in the side. "Stop thinking about whatever it is you're thinking."

"What if—" Lance begins, but Hunk cuts him off almost immediately with another prod to the side.

"No."

"But—"

Another prod. "No."

"But, just listen—"

Two prods this time. "Stop it," Hunk says, peering down at Lance sternly - or, as sternly as someone with terrible bed hair, dressed in a Pikachu shirt and matching slippers can manage. "You aren't going to mess up. Just relax."

"I'm trying," Lance whines, pouting up at Hunk. "I just—" He drops his gaze and fiddles absentmindedly with Hunk's blankets. "I really like him, man."

"Really?" Hunk laughs, shooting Lance an exasperatedly fond glance. "I never would've guessed. In fact, I was sure you hated him."

"Shut up," Lance grumbles, settling for jabbing Hunk in the thigh with his foot when he realises there's not a pillow in immediate reach for him to toss at him. "What if it's awkward?"

"Oh, it'll definitely be awkward," Hunk says cheerfully, earning himself another sharp jab courtesy of Lance's big toe. "But that's part of the whole 'first date' experience, right?"

"I guess," Lance says reluctantly, squinting a little as he thinks back on his (fairly limited) dating experience so far. Embarrassingly awkward hugs and stilted conversation do feature prominently in his memories, but— "I don't want it to be awkward," he says stubbornly, startling Hunk as he sits upright suddenly. "I want us to hit it off straight away and..." He trails off, gesturing randomly into the space between them. "You know."

"I really don't." But Hunk's lips are twitching upwards into a grin, and Lance knows Hunk knows exactly what he means.

"Don't make me say it."

"Say what?"

"It."

"Lance," Hunk says, not even bothering to hide his grin now. "I don't know what it is. I can't read your mind."

Except, he can - Lance is sure of this. Why else would he be grinning at him like that? "I want us to hit it off straight away and maybe go out—" He pauses ad hikes the collar of his pyjama shirt a little higher up his neck, trying to hide the red flush he can feel creeping up on him. "Like, not just as friends."

"As boyfriends?" Hunk helpfully supplies, still grinning when Lance lets out an odd little squeak before burying his face in his hands. "Why didn't you just say that?"

"Are you enjoying this?" Lance asks, scowling at Hunk through the gaps between his fingers.

"Very much," Hunk snorts, grin softening a little. "It's nice."

Despite himself - despite the feelings of nerves that have been bubbling unpleasantly in the pit of his stomach since waking - Lance can't stop the smile he feels tugging at the corners of his lips at the prospect of actually meeting Keith. "Yeah," he agrees, "it's nice. Now," he says dramatically before Hunk can tease him anymore, flinging himself out of the bed so he can pad towards his own half of the room. He roots around his pile of clothes for a few seconds before he stands upright and turns to face Hunk again. "Blue," he holds up the blue shirt from earlier and pretends like he doesn't hear the way Hunk loudly groans. "Or—" he drops the first shirt to hold up another. "Slightly darker blue?"


(11:58) So

(11:58) I just left.

(11:58) As in

(11:59) I'm on my way to the station right now.

(12:01) Oh wow.

(12:01) Cool.

(12:02) This is happening.

(12:04) Yep.

(12:04) My train comes in 10 mins, so I'll be at your station in like half an hour?

(12:06) Cool. Message me when you're 10 mins away and I'll leave to meet you.

(12:07) Cool.

(12:08) Cooool.

(12:09) You're nervous.

(12:10) Yeah, well

(12:10) So are you.

(12:12) True.

(12:12) Excited, though.

(12:13) Same.

(12:13) Excited to watch you realise Muffin is as horrible as I say she is.

(12:14) I meant excited to see you but aLRIGHT.

(12:14) Yeah, that too.

(12:15) :)

(12:15) K, my train is here. I'll message you when I'm near.

(12:16) Cool.


Keith hasn't bitten his nails in nearly five years. He manages to kick the habit not long after his twelfth birthday after his mother makes him try a gross tasting solution that stains his taste buds for hours if his tongue so much as grazes one of his nails. It's a disgusting method that sees him gulping down glass of water after glass of water in an attempt to rid his mouth of the bitter taste whenever he absentmindedly sticks a finger in his mouth, but it works.

Until today.

He scowls at his reflection in the window in front of him, dropping his hand quickly from his mouth as he tries not to think about how he's managed to ruin five years of self-control by successfully chewing three out of five nails down to literal stubs in less than two minutes. Nervous, he thinks, stuffing both hands into the front pocket of his jumper to stop him from making a start on his other nails. Nervous is an understatement right now.

He doesn't know what to call the feeling he can sense creeping up on him, but he figures it's a lot more than nervousness. It just doesn't feel real; knowing that in a matter of minutes Lance is going to walk out of the station doors and put an end to what feels like an eternity - but in reality, has been less than two months - of surprisingly easily conversation and flirting and— And a friendship Keith never expected to get out of a wrong number messaging him one afternoon.

His scowl softens slightly, that slightly-more-than-just-nerves feeling ebbing away a little to make way for something he can only describe as an odd sense of calm. He can still feel the earlier unease and beginnings of anxiety still hovering near his periphery, threatening to engulf him entirely if given the chance, but it's like the thought of meeting Lance has forcibly squashed it down to make way for something more pleasant.

"You really like him, huh?"

Keith flushes as his earlier phone conversation with Shiro rears itself in his mind again. Though, in hindsight, calling Shiro to panic-ask him for some advice really wasn't one of his better ideas as it ended in five minutes of Keith listening to Shiro and Matt fight over the phone - Shiro wins, but Matt spends the rest of the conversation (un)helpfully yelling advice at him anyway, so it feels like Keith's loss in the end.

"Ignore him," Shiro had said, voice sounding slightly strained (Keith is sure Shiro ends up having to sit on top of Matt to stop him from reaching for the phone), when Matt starts yelling something about choosing the right aftershave. "He hasn't had a date in months."

There's an indignant squawk at that and then a muffled sounding, "only because I was too busy playing wingman for yo—" before Shiro hastily cuts him off.

"Just act natural," Shiro had told him. "He already likes you, it's not like you have to worry about that."

And, okay yeah, Shiro is right there. He doesn't have to spend hours wondering if the feelings he has for Lance are mutual because he knows they are, but there's a difference between knowing there's chemistry between two people and actually having to act on it.

Over the phone, it's easy for Keith to make jokes and give Lance compliments and flirt back with him, but in person? 'Acting natural' isn't really an option when he has no idea what 'natural' is for them. Because Lance isn't Shiro or Pidge or even Matt, he's someone entirely new and Keith's not sure what to expect with him.

His phone buzzes in his pocket suddenly and Keith feels his heart leap into his throat as he quickly fumbles for it. He only realises just how sweaty his hands are when he nearly drops it twice as he pulls it out to read the message from Lance that's currently flashing across his screen. He's here. Keith quickly taps out a reply telling him where to meet him, before he stuffs his phone back into his pocket and tries to focus on remembering how to breathe.

Holy shit, he's here.

He counts back from ten to try and steady himself. Tries to clear his mind and himself that this really isn't a big deal. That they're just two friends going out for the day. Nice and simple. He does it with Pidge all the time, and their outings never reduce him to a sweaty and anxious replica of himself, so -logically - neither should this. He can do this. It's not hard.

Except it is.

It's very, very hard, and each passing second has Keith inching backwards, slowly making his way towards his bike. Maybe if he's fast enough, he can hightail it home and pretend like he was never here. He'll have to change his phone number of course and somehow convince Pidge never to go back to the Garrison again. And then live with the guilt of having messed up what feels like one of the most genuine friendships Keith has formed in years, but—

The doors to the station are thrown open and Keith watches as a large group of people begin to exit. It takes him less than ten seconds to spot Lance amongst the crowd.

He's taller than Keith remembered, towering over most of the crowd as he allows them to guide him down the small flight of stairs and into the car park area. Keith watches, too afraid to move, tucked safely out of sight behind a large car as Lance peers around for a few seconds before he leans against a wall and exhales a deep breath.

Even from their relative distance apart, Keith can spot the faint pink blush that stains his cheeks and he takes some solace in the fact that Lance is apparently just as nervous as he is.

Good. That makes things a little easier. Not by much, mind you, (the fight or flight response part of Keith is still very much in flight mode, right now) but by enough to convince Keith to take a step out from his impromptu hiding place and begin making his way towards Lance.

His heart thuds loudly and almost painfully in his chest as he gets closer, and he doesn't even want to think about how sweaty his palms are right now. The only thing he can focus on is Lance - Lance standing just a few metres away; Lance, the person he's spent the last two months messaging day in, day out, Lance, the person that's gotten closer to him than any other person since Pidge. Just— Lance.

He clears his throat as he approaches, willing his vocal chords not to fail him now. "Hi." He winces a little at the way his voice seems to crack slightly, stretching the word over two syllables. Fuck you, vocal chords.

Lance glances up from his phone, eyes widening just a fraction as his gaze briefly sweeps Keith up and down. Keith watches, ready to bolt at any moment, as Lance's lips curve upwards into a shy little smile before he pushes himself off the wall and takes a step forwards. "Hey."

"Uh—" Keith swallows. "Hi?" Smooth Keith, super smooth.

Something between a snort and a laugh slips between Lance's lips as he takes another step forwards. "Are we just gonna keep going round in circles, or..."

"Right. No. Uh—" Keith swallows again, willing away the lump that's begun to form in his throat. "I'm just— Um. Do you want—" He turns around and gestures to the carpark, nodding towards the corner where he's parked his bike. "Do you want to get out of here?"

It happens so quickly, Keith wonders if he's imagining it, but he's fairly certain Lance's lips drop downwards into an almost disappointed pout before that shy smile is back again.

"Sure. Lead the way."

Keith hesitates for a moment, unable to shake the feeling that something is off with Lance, but before he can dwell on it much longer Lance is taking another step towards him, gently bumping their shoulders together.

"Which way to your bike?" Lance asks as they begin to make their way across the carpark, and either he's painfully unaware of their close proximity or he just doesn't care because they're walking close enough to each other that the backs of their palms brush against the other with each swing of the arm. For a moment or two, Keith entertains the idea of just reaching out and wrapping his fingers around Lance's. It would be so easy, so simple, so natural - he'd barely even have to move.

"Just a little further," Keith mutters, trying to subtly widen his steps so there's a bigger gap between them. Annoyingly, Lance keeps up with ease, effortlessly adapting his strides to match Keith's whenever he tries to put some space between them.

"Oh cool," Lance hums, and Keith finds himself fighting back a twinge of irritation. How is this so easy for him? Why isn't he a stammering mess? Why hasn't he spent the last two minutes arguing with himself about whether he should just take the plunge and reach out to grab his hand? Why isn't this affecting him the same way it is Keith? "Did you really build it yourself?"

Keith blinks. "Huh?"

"The bike?" Lance says slowly, turning his head to glance at him. Their gazes meet for the briefest of seconds before Lance quickly turns away, the tips of his ears looking slightly pinker than before. "Like, I never really got what you meant by that."

"Meant by what?"

"You know," Lance gestures towards the area of the carpark where Keith had indicated his bike was. "How does it work? Do you build it from scratch or is there like, I dunno, a Build-A-Bike workshop somewhere, or what?"

Keith frowns. "Build— Build-A-Bike workshop?"

Lance turns to face him again, a bright grin plastered across his face stretching from cheek to cheek. "Like the Build-A-Bear workshop, but for bikes?"

At that, Keith snorts. He can feel some of his unease and nervousness peeling away from him, replaced by a sense of familiarity and he finds himself shooting Lance a grateful smile. Bikes are a good topic - a safe topic - something Keith can talk about for hours on end without fear of boring someone or slipping into awkward silences.

Keith wonders if it's all a coincidence, if Lance has just picked out the first thought in his mind and decided to run with it for easy conversation, or if there's something more behind it, if he's purposely picked the one topic he knew would set Keith at ease. He spares Lance a sideways glance and nearly stumbles over his own feet when he realises Lance is peeking over at him as well.

"Uh," Keith begins, hastily looking away because he really doesn't need to be focusing on just how nice Lance's smile is right now, or how it's the kind of smile that reaches his eyes and softens his whole expression. Nope, definitely not. "There's no Build-A-Bike workshop."

"That you know of."

Keith feels his lips twitch upwards slightly. "That know of," he agrees, smile widening a little when Lance lets out a quiet chuckle. "I get most of my parts from the internet. Different stores," he adds quickly, already sensing Lance's next question. "Some parts are harder to find than others, which is why it takes so long."

"Yeah," Lance says, hand still brushing stubbornly against Keith's. "I mean, like, how do you build it? Is there a manual, or a guide, or what?"

"There are rough guides on the internet, but a lot of it ends up being trial and error because you're building it from scratch. But you learn as you go. Ah," he pauses and comes to an abrupt halt. "This is, uh, this is it."

Lance whistles lowly, and Keith can't help the surge of pride that courses through his veins as he watches Lance openly ogle his bike.

"You made this?" Lance asks, eyes wide as he scootches a little closer towards the bike. "Like, from scratch? With your own two hands? You didn't just buy it like this at the store?"

Keith isn't the bragging type, but damn it, he's proud of his bike. It's the end result of months and months of hard work and scouring the internet for rare parts and haggling with asses on eBay and spending hours at the bottom of his garden tweaking and twisting until his jeans are permanently stained with grease marks and his fingers are left almost permanently calloused and blistered. So he decides he can allow himself the smug grin that tugs at his lips at Lance's awestruck questions. "Yep."

"Dude," Lance breathes, glancing away from the bike to stare at Keith. "That's amazing. What the hell? How long did it take?"

Keith's not sure if it's the praise in general or if it's because the praise is coming from Lance specifically, but he feels his cheeks grow warmer with each passing second. "A few months," he mutters, ducking his head to surreptitiously run a hand down his face to check if he feels as hot as he probably looks (he does). "Didn't take me as long as it took me to finish my first one, though."

"This isn't your first one?" Lance sounds incredulous like he's sure Keith is pulling his strings and someone is about to jump out from behind one of the parked cars near them with a camera crew in tow. "For real?"

Keith nods, not trusting his voice, as he steps closer to the bike. "This is the first one that's passed my dad's 'Keith Won't Die If He Rides It' test, though."

"Oh," Lance's excited grin drops from his face in an instance, replaced with something slightly more wary. "So— So, it's safe, yeah?"

"I'm still alive aren't I?" Keith asks, grabbing both helmets slung around the front of the bike before he settles himself on the seat. He can feel Lance's gaze on him as he tugs his helmet over his head. "Are you coming, or not?"

"And you're sure—"

"Lance," Keith says patiently, tipping his helmet slightly so he can meet his gaze. "It's safe. I swear."

Lance hesitates for a second or two before he nods and inches a little closer. "Fine, but if I die—"

Keith rolls his eyes. "You're not going to die, Lance."

"If I die," Lance continues, pointedly raising his voice over Keith's. "Just know that Hunk will avenge me."

"Avenge...you?"

Lance waves a flippant hand, like announcing that your best friend with avenge your (unlikely) and untimely death is the most natural thing in the world. "We have an agreement."

"...Do I want to know?"

Lance hums for a few seconds, like he's actually pondering the question, before he shoots Keith another grin - and Keith is quickly learning that Lance's grins are lethal in the best kind of way. "It's a long story."

"Of course it is," Keith deadpans before nodding to the space on the bike behind him. "Are you getting on?"

"Ah," Lance visibly swallows - Keith watches the gentle bob of his Adam's apple before glancing away, cheeks hot. "Do I— Do I just—"

"Just hold on," Keith says, leaning forwards to toss Lance the spare helmet.

Lance nods, fiddling with the helmet in his hands before he takes a step forwards and swings a leg over the bike, settling the helmet between his thighs. "Like this?"

Keith's breath hitches in his throat as Lance's arm come up to his sides and rest gently against his waist. He's only holding on loosely, fingers barely brushing against the fabric of his jumper, but it sends Keith's heart racing.

"Uh—" He clears his throat, absentmindedly fiddling with the keys in his hands to try and distract himself from the heat he can feel spreading all over. "Tighter," he manages to rasp out. "You— You need to hold on tighter."

"-Right."

Keith holds his breath as Lance shuffles forwards in his seat, arms tightening around his waist as his chest presses up against Keith's back. "Is this—?"

"Yeah," Keith says quickly, suddenly very thankful they're not facing each other. "That's good."

"Cool," Lance says, and Keith tries not to think about the way his breath fans across the nape of his neck.

"Put your helmet on and we can go."

The arms around his waist disappear and Keith allows himself a deep exhale. A million and one things are running through his mind right now; Does he smell? Is he wearing enough deodorant? When was the last time he washed this jumper? Is he sweating too much? Is—

The hands are back around his waist again, squeezing a little confidently this time. A chin drops onto his shoulder and Keith finds himself saying a silent prayer of thanks for the helmets between them because he's not entirely sure he can handle Lance's breath fanning across his neck with every exhale. "Ready?"

"You'll be safe, right?"

Keith chuckles and responds by revving the engine. "Just hold on."

The thing is, Keith likes speed; he loves it, actually. He loves the adrenaline rush he gets when he's hurtling down a clear road, the wind lashing and curving around his body as he speeds along, but he's also a fairly considerate person. He understands the most people don't enjoy rocketing down a road at just about legal speeds, and he's learnt (after being yelled at by Shiro for about five minutes after one particularly speedy trip) to adjust his limits when he's riding with a passenger.

("It's just polite," Shiro had said, skin visibly paler and clammier than usual when he'd stumbled off the bike to rest against a nearby tree trunk. "You're riding a bike, not a rollercoaster."

"Kei—" Whatever Lance had been about to say is forgotten in favour of an ear-piercing shriek, as Keith (quite slowly in his opinion) begins making his way out of the carpark and onto the main road. His arms, already clinging pretty tightly to Keith's waist, wrap around even tighter still until he's holding onto Keith in an almost vice like grip, chest pressed infinitely close against Keith's back.

"Relax," Keith calls, voice louder than usual so Lance can hear it over the rumble of the engine. "It's fine."

"This—" Lance screeches, ducking his head into the crook of Keith's neck while his fingers fumble at the front of Keith's jumper for something to cling on to, "This is not fine! This is—" He cuts off again, shrieking dramatically when Keith turns a corner and begins to pick up the speed. "Keith," Lance whines, and Keith suddenly finds himself very aware of the fact that if they weren't wearing helmets, Lance would be breathing into his neck right now.

Oh.

He takes the speed down a notch - still going well below his usual speed levels - as they turn another corner, and begin slowly weaving between cars to get ahead of the traffic. "You alright?"

Lance lets out a shaky laugh, still clinging to Keith's waist like it's the only thing keeping him upright. "Pretty sure my heart stopped working about two turns ago. Also," he shifts a little in the seat, pressing himself closer against Keith's back. "I can't feel my legs."

"Yeah," Keith laughs, subconsciously leaning backwards into Lance's tight embrace. "That's normal. You get used to it." The light turns amber and Keith starts getting ready to jet forwards again. "You ready?"

Keith feels Lance nod against his neck just in time for the light to turn green.

He's a little quieter this time as they hurtle forwards. Keith can still feel the tension in his body by the way he holds on to him for dear life (though, Keith isn't complaining about that), but he doesn't shriek and shout as much as time. Keith hears the odd whimper or two slip out whenever he takes a particularly sharp corner or when the road gets a little bumpy, but otherwise, he's remarkably silent.

"Are you alright?" Keith calls over the engine, frowning a little when he realises he hasn't heard a peep out of Lance in at least thirty seconds. He glances down quickly, checking Lance's hands are still wrapped around his midsection and he hasn't accidentally been thrown off at some point.

"M' fine," Lance calls. "It's— It's good."

Keith hums. There's never much room for talking when you're riding a bike - the noise from the engine and the wind whipping around you constantly pretty much eradicates any chance of that - but Keith thinks he can hear a change in Lance's tone. He sounds less terrified and more like he's actually enjoying himself. He increases the speed by a fraction or two, testing the waters. He listens out carefully for another screech from Lance, but nothing comes. Instead, he thinks he can hear him laughing - he's letting out little whoops every couple of seconds, and it makes Keith laugh too.

"Man," Lance laughs, another whoop slipping from his lips. "This is— This is amazing?"

Something warm blooms in Keith's chest as he listens to Lance laugh behind him. He's enjoying himself, Keith thinks, turning onto a blissfully empty road. He's having fun.

They continue riding for ten more minutes. Keith specifically takes the scenic route to their destination, trying to prolong their close proximity - Lance's arms around his waist while he laughs and cheers in his ear - for as long as possible. Eventually, he comes to a stop, parking the bike outside a familiar row of stores.

"Um," Keith says quietly, glancing down to see Lance's arms still wrapped around him. "We're here."

Lance clings onto him for a beat longer than necessary before he drops his arms and quickly climbs off the bike.

"How was that?" Keith asks as he hops off himself, tugging his helmet away from his head and shaking his hair free. "Was it al—" His words get stuck in his throat as he takes in Lance's expression as he pulls his own helmet off his head.

His hair is a mess, sticking up in every direction possible, his face flushed, eyes wide and— And a smile so bright Keith thinks it wouldn't be out of place in the night sky.

His heart thuds almost painfully in his chest.

Lance's voice comes out sounding winded. "That was amazing."

Keith grins over at him, reaching out for his helmet so he can lock them both to the bike. "Fun?"

"The best," Lance breathes, too-bright grin still fixed across his face. "I mean, I was sure you were going to kill me at first, and then I'd have to spend the afterlife haunting you—"

"What?"

"But then I got used to it," Lance continues, either ignoring Keith's amused interruption or completely oblivious to it. "And it was like, whooooosh. You know?"

And, even though he's making exactly zero sense (what the hell is whooooosh anyway?), Keith finds himself nodding in agreement because he does know how it feels. He remembers his first time on a bike, remembers that sense of freedom that surged through him once he'd stumbled off it, legs like jelly, remembers how he'd been hooked from that moment onwards.

"Yeah," Keith grins. "I get it."

"So," Lance asks, peering around the street they're on. "What're we doing?"

"Remember I said I wanted to take you somewhere?" Keith asks, gesturing for Lance to follow him down the street. Lance catches up to him in seconds, pushing into his personal space so they're doing that thing where the backs of their hands brush effortlessly against each other. Once again Keith swallows down the urge to reach forwards and hold Lance's hand in his own. He clears his throat and turns his attention back on to actually remembering where they're supposed to be going. "Have you eaten?"

Lance shakes his head, a curious glint in his eyes. "I had breakfast a while ago, but I'm good to go again."

"Cool," Keith says, smirking as he signals for Lance to stop walking and enter the restaurant they're standing in front of. "You'll like this then."


As first dates go, Lance likes to think this is one of his better ones. It's not like he has much of a back catalogue to compare it to (can you really count the girlfriend you had when you were five-years-old?), but it feels like it's going well.

It's a little awkward at first, though Lance reasons that's bound to be expected, and his subtle hints that he'd maybe like to try and hold Keith's hand go completely unnoticed - which, for the record, Lance is a little annoyed at because how many times he need to 'accidentally' brush Keith's hand with his own before he gets the message? But they get there eventually.

His heart is still racing from the bike ride, though he's not entirely sure he can blame that solely on the adrenaline rush. Not when he's spent the last fifteen minutes with his arms wrapped tightly around Keith's waist, their bodies pressed flush against each other while Keith rides. It's— It's definitely something. Lance flushes as he remembers the way Keith felt underneath his grip, all warm and soft and right, like holding him in his arms is the most natural thing in the world.

The difference in Keith's attitude is tangible after the ride as well. There's a confidence in his smile that wasn't there when they'd first met, and he actually meets his gaze for more than half a second before he glances away, cheeks gaining a suspicious pink dusting. 

So yeah, as first dates go this one isn't that bad. They've managed to climb over the whole 'awkward first meeting' hurdle and are now moving onto bigger and better things. So why - why - is Keith ruining it all by taking him here?

"No," Lance says emphatically, folding his arms tightly across his chest as he glares at the menu placed in front of him. "No way."

Keith is doing a terrible job of hiding his smirk and Lance tries to ignore the fact that it's actually kind of cute, in an annoyingly irritating kind of way. "What's wrong, Lance?"

"Don't give me that innocent 'what's wrong, Lance'," Lance sniffs, grabbing a fork to brandish in Keith's direction. "You know exactly what's wrong."

Keith hums, propping one arm on the table to drop his chin into the palm of his hands. "Do I?"

And, ugh— Lance wants to scowl at him but there's a glint of amusement in Keith's eyes that makes Lance's heart flutter. Unfair, very unfair.

"I'm not eating it."

"Eating what?"

"It," Lance hisses stabbing at the menu where it reads 'Pineapple Pizza' with his fork. "I know what you're planning, and the answer is no."

Keith laughs openly at that, and at this close distance, Lance can really get a good look at him. He's hit with the sudden realisation that Keith has a nice smile - a ridiculously nice smile - and he can't help but think it's downright unfair how nice his smile is. He has the kind of smile that crinkles his eyes at the corners while his nose scrunches up, birthing two tiny dimples on either cheek as he folds in on himself a little.

His smile rests easily on his lips as he stares at Lance, head cocked innocently to the side as he takes him in. "You're the one who told me to take you here one day, remember?"

"Oh," Lance mutters, feeling his face heat up as he drops his gaze. "I didn't think you'd remember that." He glances back up at Keith and isn't particularly surprised to see his face looks as red as his own one feels.

"I—" Keith begins, avoiding looking up at Lance by staring determinedly at the menu in his hands. "I— Is that weird?"

Lance shakes his head, sliding forwards in his seat so he can bump his knee against Keith's to try and get his attention. It works and Lance suddenly finds himself staring directly into Keith's eyes. "No," Lance says slowly, a soft smile tugging at the corners of his lips. "It's— It's cute."

"Cute?" Keith repeats like he's testing the word on his tongue.

"Mhmm," Lance hums, enjoying watching the way Keith's blush deepens with each passing second. "Very."

"Um," Keith swallows, dropping his gaze again to stare at the menu. "I—"

"Am I embarrassing you?" Lance asks, leaning back into his seat with a grin. Keith looks like he's about five seconds away from sinking into his seat and melting.

"No," Keith says, stubbornly looking up again to meet Lance's eye. He juts his bottom lip out slightly into an almost pout and Lance nearly falls off his own chair because, no. Too adorable. Off limits. Out of bounds.

"Damn. I'm not trying hard enough then."

Keith quirks a brow, looking genuinely confused. "You want to embarrass me?"

"Remember," Lance shrugs, "'Make Keith Blush' is my number one objective for today."

"Yeah, well," Keith snorts, confused look disappearing to make way for another one of those smiles that sets Lance's heart racing. "You've already done that."

"True," Lance agrees, watching out of the corner of his eye as he spots a waiter beginning to make his way towards their table. "But I didn't say how many times I wanted to do it."

Keith rolls his eyes, but he's spared from having to try and respond to Lance by the waiter that approaches their table with a notepad and a too bright smile stretched across their face. Lance barely listens as the waiter goes through the usual spiel ('How are you doing today? Can I get you any drinks? Are you ready to order? Blah, blah, blah?') for them, and instead focuses his attention of taking in all of Keith without having to worry about getting caught staring.

Lance watches as Keith's brows knit in the middle as he points something out for the waiter, bottom lip jutting out into that almost pout that sets his heart racing again. It's a strange feeling, being so enamoured with someone, but Lance thinks it's not wholly unpleasant. Strange, yes, but also weirdly nice. It's nice knowing that Keith's smile has this effect on him and, if he's not horribly - horribly - mistaken, he's pretty sure he's having the same effect on Keith. Lance has caught him sneaking a glance at him more than once, face flushing the second he realises Lance is on to him, and he's fairly certain the look of embarrassment that spasms across his face whenever he hastily looks away is probably the same look that's mirrored across Lance's.

Keith laughs politely at something the waiter says before glancing up to meet Lance's gaze again. "So, about that pizza..."

Lance grimaces. "Do I have to?"

"Yes."

"I don't even get a say in it?"

Keith shakes his head, looking almost irritatingly smug as he swipes Lance's menu away from him and hands it back to the waiter. "Two pineapple pizza's please." The waiter shoots them both a confused look, possibly perplexed by the wounded noise Lance makes, before he gives them a little nod and disappears back towards the kitchen to put their order through.

"I can't believe you want to ruin a perfectly good date by making me puke," Lance grumbles, slouching forwards in his seat to shoot Keith his best glare - though, it probably comes out a little halfhearted given the circumstances.

Keith mirrors Lance's movements and leans forwards, chin still resting lazily in his open palm. "You don't think you can hack it?"

"No," Lance sniffs, pretending to be offended by the assumption he might not be able to finish a meal. "I'll eat it, I just won't enjoy it."

"You will," Keith says confidently. "But, um," his gaze flits away for a fraction of a second before it's back again and Lance finds himself staring into dark blue eyes. "Just now—" He pauses again, like's struggling with the words. "Just now you said I'd ruin a perfectly good date—"

"I was kidding, Keith," Lance says quickly, wondering if he's imagining the hint of insecurity that flashes across Keith's eyes briefly. "It's not going to ru—"

"It's good?" Keith asks, pulling his bottom lip inwards to chew on nervously. "The date, I mean? You're— You're having a good time?"

Oh

Lance swallows, scratching nervously at the back of his neck. "I mean- Yeah?" He sees the relief wash across Keith's face and feels himself relax. "It's fun, right?"

"Yeah," Keith agrees, lips curving upwards into a small smile. "I'm having fun. I was just— Just, worried?"

"Worried?"

Keith nods, and Lance wonders if he's imagining the way he seems to lean a little closer into his personal space - the gap between them does seem a little smaller than when they'd starting talking.

"That you'd be bored? Or that you weren't enjoying yourself or—" Keith pauses, voice sounding a little strangled as he trails off and stares down at the table.

Lance was right, the gap between them is smaller than before. It's so small now that their hands are brushing against each other in the middle, with Keith resting ever-so-slightly on top of Lance's.

"Sorry," Keith says quickly, jolting backwards to yank his hands away. "I—"

"Keith," Lance says firmly, reaching forwards to grab for Keith's hand and keep it firmly on the table. He hesitates for a second before he threads Keith's fingers between his own and gives him a light squeeze. "This is— This is good," he glances up at Keith and loosens his hold on him. "This is fine, right?"

Keith nods, swallowing thickly as he copies Lance's earlier move and gives his hand a quick squeeze. "Yeah."

"Cool."

"Yeah," Keith says again, still staring at their entwined hands. "Very cool."

Keith's hand fits nicely in his own, all warm and slightly calloused and Lance finds himself thinking he never wants to let go. Lance isn't sure how long they sit there with their hands clasped together on top of the table, both shyly laughing and glancing away every time they meet the other's gaze, but it's nice - really nice. So nice, he actually grumbles a little when their pizzas arrive and they're forced to let go to make room on the table for their food.

Lance watches warily as their waiter places two pizzas in front of them, two pineapple pizzas.

"I'm suddenly regretting everything," he says, eyeing the yellow slices that mar his otherwise perfectly deliciously looking pizza. "Can I just pick them off?"

Keith shoots him an unimpressed look, already reaching forwards to tug a slice towards himself. "You have to eat it all."

"All?" Lance squeaks. "It's bigger than my head. It's bigger than two of my heads."

Keith shrugs, mouth too full of pizza to say anything. Lance watches as he chews a few times, a soft hum of pleasure rippling from the base of his throat as he devours his first slice in a matter of seconds. "S'good," he says, grinning widely at the semi-disgusted look Lance is wearing. "Eat."

"But pineapples," Lance whines, glaring at the offending fruit on his pizza as if's responsible for everything wrong in the world, from the sinking of the Titanic to the bees disappearing. "And there's not even any ham to try and mask the taste, it's just— Pineapples."

Keith nudges Lance under the table with his knee, the unimpressed look from earlier making a reappearance. "It's nice."

"But—"

"Do you need me to feed you?"

It's an innocent question, meant to be teasingly taunting than anything else, but it makes Lance choke on his words all the same. "I— You— What?"

Keith raises a brow, seemingly oblivious to the effect his words are having on Lance. "If you can't eat it yourself, I can feed you, if you want?"

"Don't— Shut up," Lance splutters, reaching for a slice to stop from drawing attention to the deep red flush that's quickly creeping up the back of his neck and spreading across his face. Because now it's been said, he can't help but think it would be nice to have Keith feed him. Not pizza, of course, because that's just too messy and sloppy and not pineapple pizza anyway, because yuck, but maybe something a little more romantic.

Lance's vision flashes with images of him lying on top of a plush bed with Keith hovering over him, hand feeding him grapes and strawberries and— Yeah, nope. He shakes his head to end that train of thought as quickly as possible and refocuses his attention on the slice of pizza in his hands. "This better be nice."

"Just eat it, Lance," Keith says, sounding more amused than exasperated as he watches Lance take a tentative nibble. "Eat it properly."

Lance sticks his tongue out at him, enjoying the way Keith's eyes widen fractionally at that gesture before he takes the plunge and takes a real bite of the slice. He chews experimentally for a few seconds, getting used to the unfamiliar texture on his tongue.

"Well," Keith prompts, watching as Lance goes in for a second bite, and then a third, and then a fourth, and then there's only crust left. "You like it, right?"

Lance pulls a face, even as he reaches for his second slice, because damn it, it tastes delicious. Where has pineapple pizza been all his life? Why has he been so adamantly against it? Does Hunk know how good it tastes? He makes a mental note to write an ode to pineapple pizza and recite it to Hunk as soon as he gets back to school. "It's alright," Lance says, shrugging casually as he chews on his second slice. "Nothing to scream and shout about."

Keith snorts. "You're smiling."

Damn it.

"Am I not allowed to smile?" Lance asks, feeling the grin that's tugging at his lips as he reaches for his third slice.

"Well," Keith hums thoughtfully, cocking his head a little to side like he's really contemplating something. "Some warning would be nice."

"I— What?"

Keith flushes and ducks his head for a second or two before bringing it back up again to greet Lance with a soft smile. "Before you smile like that. You could warn me."

"Why?"

Keith quirks a brow again, like Lance is being purposely obtuse. He doesn't answer right away, instead reaching for another slice and taking two big bites out of it before he turns his attention back to Lance. "You have a really nice smile, Lance." He says it quietly, like he can't believe he's saying it out loud, and avoids all eye contact. "Like, really nice."

Lance bumps his knee against Keith's under the table twice until he looks up. "That," he says loudly, wagging his floppy pizza slice in Keith's face sternly. "That is really rich coming from you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Lance scoffs through a mouthful of pizza, shooting Keith his own version of a highly unimpressed look. "Don't give me that Mr 'My Smile Would Probably Put The Sun To Shame'."

"I—" Keith breaks off, hands reflexively coming up to hide his mouth as his lips split into another wide grin. "I've never heard that before."

"Yeah, well," Lance shrugs, reaching for another slice (he only has two left on his plate and he's not entirely opposed to stealing another from Keith's plate when he runs out). "It's the truth. You should come with a warning label, like: 'beware: smile is kind of blinding, consider wearing sunglasses when around him.'"

"Stop," Keith half groans, half laughs, dragging a hand down his face before he peeks up at Lance through the gaps between his fingers. "Please stop."

Lance grins, sliding his (now completely empty) plate to the side so he can lean across the table a little better. "I forgot you're weird with compliments."

"I'm not weird," Keith insists, sounding weirdly offended. "I'm just—"

"You're not used to them?" Lance supplies, remembering the brief conversation they'd had about this a while back. "Well," Lance says once Keith nods reluctantly in agreement, voice falsely saccharine. "I'll try and tone it down if you want, but—"

"But what?" Keith asks, eyeing Lance warily.

"You're cute," Lance shrugs, ignoring the way his own heart begins pounding furiously in his chest at the vocal admission in favour of trying to school his expression into something effortlessly calm.

Keith opens and closes his mouth once or twice, fumbling for the right words. "You're— You're cute too."

A strangled noise falls from Lance's lips at the compliment. "I—"

"See," Keith says smugly, the tip of his nose still noticeably pinker than the rest of the face. "You can't take it either."

"No, no," Lance says quickly, never one to be outdone, "I can. I just— You just caught me off guard, is all."

"Right," Keith drawls, picking up one of the two slices left on his plate. "Why don't we agree to chill with the compliments for a bit, before—"

"Before one of us goes so red, we explode?"

"I mean, I wouldn't put it like that," Keith laughs through a mouthful of pizza - and this, Lance decides, this is the moment where Lance realises he's maybe a little too far gone with this boy, because someone shouldn't look this attractive laughing with food in their mouth, and yet— "But sure," Keith continues once he's swallowed the mouthful. "Sound good?"

"Yeah," Lance smiles across the table at him. "Sounds great."

They spend another forty minutes in the restaurant - Lance learns Keith is a painfully slow eater - and with each passing second it stops feeling like it's the first time they've met, and starts to feel more like they've been friends for years and going out for pizza is the norm for them. Their conversation flows easily - they talk about everything from weird pizza recipes they've heard of (Keith is strangely passionate about mayonnaise based pizza) to brainstorming new names for the kittens ('I'm not letting Shiro call her Cupcake, Keith, I refuse!!!') - and the few silences they do have between topics aren't awkward in the slightest. Instead of fumbling around for something new to say, they're both seemingly content with simply basking in the other's presence, like old friends.

By the time they eventually leave, Lance feels confident enough to reach for Keith's hand when they stand up and begin making their way back to the bike. Keith stiffens slightly when Lance's fingers wrap around his own, but that only last for half a second before he relaxes into the touch, lips twitching upwards at the corners.

"What now?" Lance asks as they make their way down the street, both determinedly avoiding eye contact with the other. He doesn't want to be too premature, but this is easily the best date he's ever had, and he's not entirely sure how they're going to top it. They approach Keith's bike and, after a beat longer than necessary, let go of each other's hands.

"I was thinking," Keith says slowly, still not meeting Lance's gaze as he fumbles with the helmet lock. "I was thinking, you could come back to mine?"

"Oh," Lance squeaks, stumbling backwards when Keith tosses him his helmet. "Your...house?"

"Yeah. Um. To see the cats? We could, um, we could watch a movie or something, if you want?"

Lance nods, following Keith's lead as he settles himself back onto the bike and begins pulling the helmet back over his head. "Sounds good. Sounds great." He climbs onto the back of the bike, pulls his own helmet on, and then wraps his arms around Keith's waist again, maybe holding on a little tighter than is completely necessary.

There's a pause where neither of them say anything, then Keith brings his hand up to rest gently against Lance's resting against his stomach. He keeps his hand there for a good three seconds before he pulls it away and clears his throat.

"You ready?"

Lance squeezes him a little tighter, pulling himself forwards so he's pressed flush against Keith's back, chin resting on his shoulder. "Yeah, let's go, babe."

"Lance," Keith squawks, and Lance doesn't need to be able to see through his helmet to know his face is probably on fire right now. "Now is really not the time for— For that."

Lance laughs, wrapping his arms around Keith tighter still as the engine revs to life and he pulls out of their spot. Definitely, the best date he's ever had.


The ride back to his home is mostly uneventful. Lance only shrieks once or twice when Keith has to make an abrupt stop or, at one point, when he was certain Keith was about to hit a cat that was sat stubbornly in the middle of the road (he wasn't).

"So," Lance asks, detangling himself from the bike to follow Keith up the pathway to his home. "Are you parents home?" 

Keith frowns, glancing behind him to spot Lance nervously scratching the back of his neck. Is he nervous? "They're out for the day," Keith says slowly, watching as obvious relief washes over Lance's features. "It's, um, it's just us."

"And Muffin," Lance adds with a devilish grin, his earlier confidence apparently back tenfold now that he knows he doesn't have to worry about awkward introductions with his parents. "Don't forget about Muffin."

Keith rolls his eyes, fumbling around in the pockets of his jeans for his house keys. "How could I forget?" He tugs his keys free from his pocket and moves to insert them into the keyhole, freezing when something in his periphery catches his eye. He narrows his eyes slightly as he watches the living room curtains at Pidge's house twitch suddenly.

"Come on," Keith says quickly, pushing open the door and gesturing for Lance to follow him inside. The curtains twitch again and Keith makes a mental note to have a long talk with Pidge about spying or, at the very least, getting better at it before trying it. Once Lance is inside, Keith levels one last glare towards the Holt household, mentally willing Pidge to keep away, before closing the door tightly behind him.

"Oh man," Lance snorts, laughter bubbling from the base of his throat as he points at a row of photographs lining the walls in the hallway. "Keith, you were a chubby baby."

Oh no. Keith lunges forwards, dramatically shoving Lance towards the living room and far, far away from the numerous baby and childhood photos that are strung up on the walls of their hallway.

"Wait," Lance whines, twisting and turning in Keith's grasp to try and get a better look at some of the photos. "Are you wearing a dress in that one?"

"It's a Christening gown," Keith snaps, giving Lance one final shove. "They're traditional." Lance laughs again but goes pliant in Keith's hands letting him guide him towards the living room where the number of embarrassing childhood photos greatly decreases. There are a few cringeworthy school photos on top of the mantelpiece and that one photo of him shrieking as he clings to Shiro's chest in a swimming pool from some holiday years ago, but it's mostly safe. And—

"Muffin?" Lance cooes, gaze zeroing in on what can only be described as a lump settled on the armchair in the far corner of the room. Lance turns to Keith and points to the lump. "That is Muffin, right?"

Keith eyes the lump for a few seconds, waiting until he can see it softly rising and falling, signalling that the lump is in fact, Muffin, and not just a pile of clothes dumped on the chair. "Yeah, that's her."

Lance's face lights up instantly as he creeps towards the other side of the room, snapping his fingers and making weird kissy noises as he goes. "Muffin," he says in a sing-song type of voice. "Muffin, come to uncle Lance."

"I should film this," Keith calls, throwing himself into the sofa to watch the inevitable carnage happen. "So you can never deny it."

"Keith, please," Lance scoffs, pausing in his quest to glance over at him and roll his eyes. "Are you forgetting who I am?"

"The Cat Whisperer?"

"Exactly," Lance grins at him before he turns back to Muffin, gently reaching out a hand to stroke over her back. Keith watches in eager anticipation, waiting for the moment Muffin will her crack open an eye, realise someone other than Shiro is attempting to touch her, and proceed to either a) hiss angrily or b) just flat out try and claw Lance's hand off.

"Muffin," Lance cooes again, crouching down a little until he's almost eye-level with her. "It's your favourite uncle."

Keith holds his breath as Muffin shudders suddenly, back arching as she stands upright and begins to survey her surroundings. Dark green eyes zero in on Lance and, for a second or two, Keith is certain she's contemplating just leaping into the air to claw at Lance's face. But then Lance runs a hand down her back and everything goes to hell.

Because Muffin doesn't hiss at him or try and bite his fingers or even lazily try and bat his arm away with a fat paw, instead— Instead, she purrs. Loudly. She purrs and leans into Lance's touch, eyes closing in pleasure as she rubs herself against him as best she can.

"What. The. Fuck," Keith hisses, jumping to his feet and crossing the room in two quick strides. "What did you do?"

"Nothing," Lance shrugs, looking ridiculously pleased with himself. "Cats just love me."

Keith scowls, crouching down to Lance's level to get a better look at Muffin himself. Clearly there's something wrong here because Muffin doesn't just purr for strangers. She's been in the family for the last seven years and she's only just started to tolerate Keith's mother.

"Let me try," Keith mutters, gently swatting Lance's hand away so he can run a hand down Muffin's back an— "The hell?" Keith snaps, yanking his hand away when Muffin tries very earnestly to bite his thumb. "Don't laugh," he grunts, shooting Lance a half-hearted glare before he glances back down at Muffin who is glaring up at him.

"Did the mean man try and hurt you?" Lance says softly, reaching forwards to pull Muffin into his lap.

"I was trying to pet her," Keith insists, watching as Muffin gets comfortable in Lance's lap in a manner he's only ever seen her do with Shiro. "How was I trying to hurt her?"

"Clearly she can sense your evil intentions," Lance says, barely managing to smother his obvious laughter.

"You," Keith mutters, standing upright and dusting off his jeans. "You are just as bad as Shiro."

"Don't be jealous, Keith. It's not our fault you don't have the touch. Where're you going?" Lance adds, frowning a little as he watches Keith make his way towards the door.

"Gonna get a cat who doesn't hurt me," Keith tells him before disappearing through the door and entering the kitchen. He crouches as he reaches the designated Cat Area of the kitchen - a corner filled with unused toys, beds, and far too much string to be entirely safely - and feels his features soften as he stares at the kittens cuddled around each other in the bigger cat bed.

"How did you come from her?" Keith mumbles under his breath as he grabs the bed from either end and hoists it up into the air, taking care not to jostle the kittens too much as he makes his way back into the living room. When he reenters the room, the scene before him is a thousand times worse than before. Lance is lying across the floor, shirt riding up ever-so-slightly, showing off too much midriff and the briefest glimpse of boxer shorts for Keith to remember how to breathe properly, with Muffin nestled on top of him.

"Keith," Lance calls, lifting his neck a little to meet his gaze. "I think she has a crush on me."

"Impossible," Keith mutters, inching a little closer to him so he can place the kittens next to his head. "Muffin doesn't have feelings."

"Keith," Lance says, covering Muffin's ears with his hands as he sits upright suddenly. "She can hear you, you know?"

"Good," Keith sniffs, settling himself down on the floor next to Lance. He glares at Muffin, still remembering how she'd attempted to devour his thumb just minutes earlier. "I want her to hear." He ignores the disappointed noise Lance makes and instead reaches into the cat bed to tug out one of the kittens. "Meet, Red."

Lance's expression softens even further as he catches sight of the tiny kitten in Keith's hands, squirming and meowing quietly as it peers around the room curiously. "Can I—"

Keith nods as Lance gently shooes Muffin off his lap before reaching out to grab Red. He makes a weird noise, something between a laugh and an 'awwww' when Red bops her nose against his chest, sniffing curiously at him. "She's adorable."

"They all are," Keith says, lifting the other kittens out of the bed so they can have a wander around the room.

"And her name is Heinz," Lance says stubbornly, lifting the kitten up so it's on eye level with him. "Not Red."

"No."

"Yes."

"Never."

"Too late," Lance says brightly, bopping Red (Heinz?) gently on the head with the tip of his nose. "You like the name Heinz don't you, girl?"

And then, too Keith's complete and utter dismay, Red (Heinz?) actually meows in apparent agreement.

Lance turns towards him and shoots him a smug grin. "See?"

"How are you doing that?" Keith asks incredulously, absentmindedly scratching behind the ears of one of the kittens.

"Cat Whisperer, remember?" Lance says, leaning backwards until he's resting against the front of the armchair. "Cats love me. It's just my thing."

And Keith would be lying if he didn't admit he's a tiny, tiny bit jealous at that. Especially when Muffin is sitting in front of him alternating between staring up at Lance fondly and hissing angrily at Keith every few seconds.

Keith isn't sure how long they sit there playing with the kittens and, in Lance's case, with Muffin, and he finds he doesn't mind. They spend the time sat pressed up against each other, backs leaning against the front of the armchair, as they watch the kittens play and fight in front of them. Lance develops a fast bond with Blue ('Smurfette' Lance corrects him every time he calls her Blue), and declares she's going to be the one he takes home, and spends the rest of the time taking pictures of them to send to Hunk.

To Keith's relief their conversation flows just as easily as it did at the restaurant and he's never left fumbling for something to say or left sitting in an awkward silence. It's nice. It feels natural, like he's hanging out with Shiro or Pidge and not someone who, quite rightfully, should be considered a complete stranger.

They're sitting so close to each other, Keith knows it wouldn't take much for him to just reach to his side and wrap Lance's hand around his own, so he does. Lance pauses playing with the kittens for a moment to glance down at their joined hands before dragging his gaze up to meet Keith's. For a second or two, Keith lets his irrational side take over and he's certain Lance is going to yank his hand away, but then Lance's grin widens and he's shuffling even closer towards Keith's side, so there's not even an inch of space between them, and Keith feels all his worries disappear in an instance.

"So," Lance hums quietly after a few minutes of sitting in a comfortable silence, watching the kittens toss a ball of string between them. "You said something about a movie, earlier?"

Keith nods, mentally running through the movies he'd downloaded onto his laptop a couple days ago specifically for this purpose. "I didn't know if you wanted to watch some—"

The doorbell rings, once, twice, three times, four times, five times, six—

"Are they just holding down the bell?" Lance asks, frowning a little as he cranes his neck behind him to try and glance out of the window.

"I think so," Keith says. He wants to ignore the bell, wants to remain here in this little bubble with Lance where they're holding hands and telling dumb jokes and just enjoying being in each other's company, but the ringing is getting insistent down. "I should get that."

Lance sighs and reluctantly relinquishes his hold on Keith's hand. "Yeah, you probably should."

"Uh, I'll be right back," Keith tells him, scrambling to his feet to race towards the front door. He has no idea who it could be. His parents aren't due back till late, and Shiro didn't mention anything about coming home for a while. It could be a delivery man, he reasons with himself as he unlocks the door, though his parents didn't mention anything about expecting any packages soon, and he hasn't ordered anything in a while.

Still frowning he throws open the door and immediately scowls at the person he finds standing in front of him. "Pidge."

"Hey, Keith," Pidge says brightly, apparently oblivious to the death stare Keith is sending her way - oblivious, or just highly uncaring. "What's up?"

Keith folds his arms tightly across his chest and raises a brow. "What're you doing here?"

Pidge makes a psssh sound, like she's offended Keith even has to ask, before she brandishes a bowl in his face. "My mum found one of your bowls in our cupboard and asked me to bring it back to you guys."

"Oh, uh—"

Pidge shoves the bowl into Keith's stomach with remarkable strength and takes a step forwards, effectively shoving Keith out of the way so she can step across the threshold into his home. "Yep, just doing my neighbourly duties."

"Right..." Keith says slowly, watching as Pidge shuffles a little further into house, peering in every direction like she's looking for something. "Thanks for the bowl, I'll let my mum know you br—"

"Keeeeiiiithhhhh," Lance's excited shriek echoes loudly around the otherwise silent house. "Keith! Smurfette is sleeping on me! Hurry up and come back so you can film this."

Oh God.

Pidge's expression turns devious as she swivels around to face Keith. "Oh Keith," Pidge says sweetly, in the most dramatic and downright fake stage whisper Keith has ever heard in his entire life. "I didn't know you had guests. Am I interrupting?"

"Yes," Keith hisses, taking a step backwards towards the door. "So if you could jus—"

"Keeiiiithhhh!" Lance calls again, sounding a little more desperate this time. "Keith you're missing it."

Pidge takes a step backwards towards the living room. "I should probably go and say hi, don't want to be rude, you know?"

"No you shouldn't," Keith hisses, miming swiping a finger across his throat - an action Pidge gleefully ignores as she ducks into the living room cackling loudly. Keith follows after her, an apology already on the tip of his tongue. Something like 'I'm sorry my best friend is ridiculously nosey and doesn't know when to butt out, please don't hold this against me'.

"Keith, look at— Oh," Lance breaks off, brows furrowing slightly in the middle as Pidge and Keith both burst into the room. He's still sat where Keith left him, with Muffin curled up by his feet, and Blue (Smurfette?) lying gently across his chest. "Uh. Hi?"

"Hey," Pidge says brightly, striding further into the room until she's close enough to Lance to plop herself down on the ground next to him. "You must be Lance."

Keith groans quietly under his breath as he follows Pidge further into the room, not daring to sit as close to Lance as last time.

"Yeah," Lance says, looking oddly bemused at the whole situation. "And you must be Pidge, right? The kid that's been stealing my best friend away Thursday?"

"First of all," Pidge snorts, pushing her glasses further up her face when they begin to slide down her nose. "I resent the term 'kid'. And secondly, yeah, that's me. It's nice to meet you finally. Between Hunk and this one," she nods towards Keith sat behind her, apparently still completely oblivious to the glare Keith is shooting her bacl. "I feel like I've known you for ages."

"Oh," Lance wiggles his eyebrows a bit, glancing from Pidge to Keith and back to Pidge again. "Do they talk about me?"

"Ugh," Pidge rolls her eyes. "All the time. Keith doesn't s—"

"Did you need anything, Pidge?" Keith says loudly, pointedly cutting across whatever Pidge was about to say.

"Nope," Pidge shrugs, looking effortlessly at ease in the situation. "Just wanted to hang for a bit."

Keith decides that when today is over he's going to spend the next week marathoning all of Pidge's favourite shows, just so he can spoil them all for her.

"You guys don't mind, do you?"

"Yes," Keith hisses.

"Nah, you're cool," Lance shrugs, laughing openly at the look of horror that spasms across Keith's face. "You're Matt's little sister, right?"

"The one and only."

Lance leans forwards, voice adopting a conspiratorial tone. "Tell me his greatest weakness. I need to kick his ass at table tennis the next time I see him."

Keith watches in disbelief as the two of them quickly descend into a remarkably in-depth conversation about all of the possible weaknesses Lance could potentially exploit the next time he challenges Matt and Shiro at a game of table tennis.

Eventually, he stops silently protesting this sudden friendship (though he is still planning on spoiling Pidge's favourite shows for the next month at the very least) and watches as they interact. He's not sure what it is, but there's something about watching Lance laugh at something Pidge says, or seeing Pidge dramatically explain some weird thing Matt did when they were kids, that makes him smile.

It's nice being able to watch your best friend and your— Keith frowns, gaze flitting over towards Lance. What is Lance to him? He realises, with a jolt, that he'd been about to refer to him in his mind as his boyfriend, but he's not entirely sure that's a label he can apply to Lance.

Something tugs at his heart and he realises, with another unpleasant little jolt, that it's a label he wants to be able to apply to Lance.

Oh.

"Keith?"

Keith glances up, yelping quietly when he notices Lance has moved from his spot by the armchair and is kneeling directly in front of him, frowning a little.

"Are you alright?"

Keith can feel a blush starting to creep up on him. He purposely looks away, gaze landing on a very smug looking Pidge. He shoots her another scowl before, reluctantly, turning back to stare at Lance. "I'm fine."

"You sure?" He looks genuinely concerned and like he's about five seconds away from reaching forwards to rest the back of his palm against Keith's forehead to check for his temperature. "You look kind of...weird."

"Weird?" Keith croaks out, suddenly feel more self-conscious than he's ever felt in his life. Because that's exactly what anyone wants to hear; that their crush thinks they look weird.

"Not in a bad way," Lance says hurriedly, apparently realising how his words have been interpreted. "I mean, you just got this look on your face just now. Like you sucked a lemon or something."

"That's just his thinking face," Pidge says gleefully, standing up to move to the area of the room they're in. "He gets like that when he's thinking real hard about something."

"Have I ever told you what an amazing friend you are?" Keith grumbles.

"Frequently."

"I lied."

"Rude."

Lance snorts at their little back and forth before he nudges Keith with his knee to get his attention. "You're sure you're good?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Keith sighs. "I was just— Just thinking about something." Thinking about what's the best way to ask someone if they want to date you, to be specific.

"See," Pidge says with a grin, leaning forwards to rest her arm on top of Keith's head. "I know you so well. I bet I could even guess what you were thinking about."

And the thing is, Keith knows she probably could. "Won't your mum be wondering where you are now," Keith asks hurriedly, before Pidge can reveal some of her well-educated (and probably correct) guesses. "You disappeared to give us a bowl about an hour ago."

Pidge opens her mouth, maybe to argue with him, but quickly closes it and hums instead. Her gaze flits from Keith to Lance before settling on Keith again, a knowing smirk tugging at her lips. "You're right. Don't need her calling the police to report me missing - again."

"Again?" Lance asks, voice incredulous.

"Game of hide and seek gone too far," Pidge says with a shrug. "Keith is right, I should probably head home."

"Thank you," Keith mutters under his breath, only loud enough for Pidge to hear.

"It was nice meeting you, Lance," Pidge says as she allows Keith to not-so-subtly shove her towards the front door. "I guess we'll be seeing more of each other?"

"Yeah," Lance hums, that shy smile from before tugging at his cheeks again. "Hopefully."

Keith tries not to dwell too much on what 'hopefully' could mean as he essentially frog marches Pidge down the corridor and out of the house.

"So," Pidge says innocently once she's standing on the porch. "He seems nice. Very cu—"

"Don't," Keith groans, dragging a hand down his face. "Don't. Just go home, and stop trying to spy on us through your curtains."

"You saw that?" Pidge frowns, looking genuinely disappointed at getting caught. "I thought I was being so sneaky."

"You weren't," Keith deadpans, watching as Pidge hops down from the porch and moves to climb over the fence separating their two front gardens.

"Duly noted," Pidge calls, one leg slung over the fence. "I'll remember that for next time."

"Next time?"

"Good luck with, Lance," she yells, swinging her other leg over as she shoots Keith a wicked grin. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"You're fifteen."

"Exactly!"

He waits until he sees Pidge disappear inside her own home before he closes the front door behind him and makes his way back to the living room.

"Sorry about that," Keith mutters as he reenters the room. Lance is still sitting crossed legged on the floor, with all five kittens nestled in his lap. He glances up as Keith approaches and, thankfully, he looks more amused than anything else. His lips are still curved upwards into an easy smile and he definitely doesn't look like he's reevaluting his decision to come here as a result of Keith's weird (but, ultimately well-meaning, Keith can grudgingly accept) best friend.

"I like Pidge," Lance says with a little shrug. "She seems nice. Also," he snickers quietly under his breath. "She gave me some great tips to kick Matt's ass next time he's here."

"That wasn't—" Keith pauses as he settles down next to Lance, resuming their earlier close proximity to each other. "That wasn't weird or anything?"

"Nah, Hunk probably would've done the same thing. Hell, would've done the same thing if Hunk was on a date."

"Cool," Keith mumbles, wondering if it'd be alright to reach out and hold Lance's hand again, or if the moment has gone. "Did you— Did you still want to watch something?"

Lance nods enthusiastically. "That'd be great."

"Cool," Keith is starting to feel like a parrot. "Let me put the kittens back in the kitchen and we can go?"

Lance cocks his head to the side, brows furrowing into a slight frown. "Are we going somewhere?"

"Yeah. Uh- My room."

"Your room?"

Keith wonders if he's imagining the way Lance's voice suddenly gets a little squeakier on the word 'room'. "Yeah, I download everything onto my laptop, but I have don't have a cable so we can't watch things on the TV downstairs. Is that alright?"

Lance nods, looking suspiciously redder than before. "That is—" He swallows - Keith follows the way his Adam's apple bobs up and down - and starts again. "Yeah, that's great."


Keith's room is everything Lance had expected and then some.

It's not as cluttered as Lance's room back home - there are no giant teddy bears and other animals stuffed into corners, no terrible drawings and paintings from his primary school days stuck to his walls with glue (Lance's mother is still annoyed about that), no piles and piles of laundry stacked up high on his desk chair - but it's very much a Keith room. It's not tidy exactly, more like an organised mess with thick textbooks stacked up against the walls, and shoeboxes peeking out from underneath his bed.

There are a few photographs stuck to the sides of the one mirror in his room. There are a few of Keith and Shiro at various ages during their childhood, and one Lance thinks was probably taken either last Christmas or the one before with both Keith and Shiro grinning cheesily up at the camera, dressed in identical tacky Christmas jumpers. There's one with Keith and two older adults Lance assume are his parents - Keith looks a few year younger than he does now and he's standing squashed between them wearing a suit that looks like it's a few sizes too big for him (one of Shiro's old ones maybe?). There are a couple with Pidge as well. Lance gaze zooms in on what he thinks is probably the oldest photograph tacked onto the mirror. It's more faded than the others and curls in on the edges, and is of a tiny Keith and an even tinier Pidge splashing about in garden pool. Keith is grinning up at the camera, showing off two missing front teeth, while Pidge stands behind him looking like she's about five seconds away from bursting into tears.

"Pidge hates that one," Keith says with a quiet chuckle, finally spotting what Lance is staring at.

"Why'd she look so moody?"

"Her mum wouldn't let her have another ice cream or something like that."

Lance hums, gaze dancing over the rest of the photographs stuck to the mirror before he resumes his quick once over of Keith's room. He takes in the few posters on his wall - three of what he assumes are vintage motorbikes, and one tacked over his wardrobe door of what he thinks is a blown up movie poster.

"The Loch Ness Horror?" Lance asks curiously, dropping his bag onto Keith's desk chair as he pointed at the poster. "Is that...a film?"

Keith nods eagerly, eyes lighting up just enough for Lance to notice. "It's really good."

"Your kind of 'really good' or actually really good?"

Keith snorts at that. "Actually good."

"Keith."

There's a pause before Keith huffs a breath and reluctantly mumbles, "I think it has something like a '2' on IMDB."

"Ah," Lance hums knowingly, taking a step to the side to bump his shoulder against Keith's. "So it's your kind of 'really good' then?"

"I guess," Keith laughs. He takes a couple of steps backwards and drops onto his bed, fumbling around under the sheets for a moment or two before he tugs out a laptop. "You want to watch it?"

Lance hesitates for a long moment before he follows Keith across the room and awkwardly drops onto the bed next to him. His sheets are soft and cosy, smelling entirely of Keith, and Lance feels that familiar thrumming of his heart again. "Could we maybe watch something a little better than a '2' on IMDB?"

"I mean, you're missing out on greatness," Keith says as his laptop whirrs to life and he quickly types in his password. "But sure." He settles back against his head rest and Lance mimics his actions, acutely aware of how close they are now. It feels like a different kind of closeness when compared with how they were sat in the living room, it feels more intimate somehow. The bed is more than big enough for two people to fit comfortably side by side, yet they're sat squashed up as close as they can, everything from their hips to the tips of their toes brushing against the other. It would so easy, Lance realises with startling clarity, so easy to just turn slightly on his side and have his legs tangled with Keith's, his hands resting gently on his waist.

So easy.

"-watch?"

Lance blinks, realising pretty belatedly that has Keith has been talking to him. "Uh, sorry what was that?" His face feels warm and he can only pray his cheeks don't look as pink as they feel right now.

"What do you want to watch?" Keith asks again, nodding to the open folder of downloaded movies he's pulled up on the screen.

"Um," Lance focuses his attention on the laptop, feeling grateful for the sudden distraction. It means he doesn't have to think about how warm Keith feels by his side, or how nice he feels pressed up against him. "This one?" He jabs blindly at the screen. "This one's good."

Keith frowns over at him. "Lake Placid?"

"Yeah," Lance says, still far too distracted by the way Keith's left leg is ever-so-slightly slung over his own one in this position. "Sounds good."

"It's about an old lady who accidentally raises a gigantic crocodile in a lake."

"Oh. Uh, yeah," Lance shrugs, trying to fix a confident smile onto his face. "Sounds awesome."

Keith squints at him for a second or two before he shrugs and turn back to the laptop, tapping away at the keyboard a few times until the screen turns black and the title credits start running.

The movie starts and they both reflexively sink into the bedsheets. At first, it's not so bad. Lance allows himself to lose himself in the terrible actor and special effects, and even gets weirdly into the fairly basic plot, but you can only pretend to be interested in a subpar monster horror (which may or may not also be a comedy - Lance can't quite tell) with the person you're crushing on pressed up against you for so long before your mind starts to wander.

Keith is fully focused on the movie - and Lance is annoyed at how adorable he finds that fact - eyes wide as he follows the actors on a wild goose chase for a giant bloodthirsty crocodile in some forest somewhere like it's the most fascinating thing in the world.

This , Lance thinks wryly, jumping a little when Keith laughs at something that happens on the screen. This is the part where someone's supposed to make a move. If this were one of those crappy romcoms he not-so-secretly adores, this would be the part where the main character pretends to yawns and drapes an arm around the love interests shoulder, pulling them in conveniently close for sudden kiss.

Lance's fingers twitch against his thigh at the thought. Are things like that really cliché, or do they actually work? Would Keith just laugh at him or—

"Did you see that?" Keith says suddenly, snapping Lance out of his thoughts. He glances over at him and feels his lips split into an amused smirk when he spots the look of genuine interest splayed across Lance's face. "Why didn't they run?"

"Yeah," Lance nods enthusiastically, squinting down at the screen to try and figure out what he's missed. He does a quick count of the character on the screen and frowns. He's pretty sure there were five characters the last time he looked. Now there are only three. Did two of them die?

"This isn't realistic at all," Keith continues on, apparently not noticing Lance has very little idea of what's actually happening in the film.

"Oh yeah," Lance agrees. "The movie about a giant bloodthirsty crocodile isn't realistic."

"I know right?" Keith says, the only sign he's understood Lance's sarcasm being the way he elbows him gently in the ribs before turning his attention back to the screen.

Now , Lance thinks, watching carefully as Keith's eyes widen a little as giant crocodile waddles across the screen, chasing a screaming blonde. Now's the best time to make The Move. He doesn't pretend to yawn - he's not that cheesy, no matter what Hunk says - instead he pretends to stretch. He fake groans as he swings an arm forwards and then high up above his head quickly. From the corner of his eye he can see Keith peering at him curiously, but he ignores hit in favour of sticking his arm out to the right, bending backwards slightly until it's directly behind Keith's back. Once he's sufficiently (fake) stretched, Lance tries to surreptitiously wiggle back down into his former position, subtly leaving his arm still behind Keith's back, resting gently on his shoulder.

Success.

"Did you just— Did you use The Move on me?" Keith asks, sounding like he can't decide between being very, very amused or horrified at Lance's apparent cheesiness.

"No," Lance lies quickly, tugging his arm back to rest in his own lap. "I was— I was stretching. I had a cramp."

Keith quirks a brow, blatant disbelief evident on his face. "You just tried to do The Move on me."

"Stop calling in that!" Lance grumbles, bumping Keith with his shoulder. "And I didn't. I was stretching. Stretching, Keith."

"Uh-huh," Keith still doesn't look convinced, but he shrugs anyway. "That's a shame then."

"Yeah, a real sh— Wait, what?"

Keith flushes and purposely turns away from him, bottom lip jutting out stubbornly as he forces himself to stare at the laptop screen. "I just mean— Well. I wouldn't have minded if you did, you know..."

Oh.

Oh.

Lance clears his throat, this time not bothering with any of the theatrics as he stretches his arm out to drape across Keith's shoulders. "Is this...good?"

Keith stiffens under his touch for a brief second before he relaxes into him. "Really good."

"Cool, um," he pokes Keith gently in shoulder, taking his attention away from the film. "Can I—"

There's a pause and, for a second or two, Lance is sure Keith is going to jerk backwards and maybe kick him out of the bed. But then Keith nods - he nods - almost imperceptibly tilting his head upwards. Lance inches closer, trying to ignore the almost too loud thud thud of his heart, and gently presses his lips against Keith's.

As first kisses go, it's nothing to scream and shout about. It's chaste, a soft press of their lips, lasting barely for three seconds before they both pull away, cheeks flushed and breathing heavier than a moment ago.

"Is—" Keith begins, reaching upwards to ghost his fingers over his lips. "Was that good?"

Lance hums, dropping his arm from Keith's shoulder to wrap it loosely around Keith's waist instead, fingers toying with fabric of his jumper. "I think it's the type of thing we get better with practice."

"Oh," Keith tilts his head up a little more, something glinting in his eye as he shifts in his position to get a better hold of Lance's shirt. "Do you want to?"

"Do I want to what?"

"Practice?"

Lance barely has to nod in eager agreement before Keith is craning his neck upwards to capture Lance's lips in another kiss. This kiss is different from the first. It's still tentative and mildly hesitant - the byproduct of two boys still learning each other - but there's something about it that sets Lance's heart racing.

It's not perfect either; their noses bump insistently until Lance shifts backwards a little, inadvertently pulling Keith into his lap, and, once one of them opens their mouths for the first time, elevating it from a simple brush of the lips into something a little more, their teeth clack against each other more than once. But Lance thinks that's the kind of thing that's to be expected with first kisses and besides, it's not like it deters them.

When Keith pulls back a little, Lance finds himself chasing his lips giving him barely a second to suck in a breath of air before their lips are pressed together again, lips sliding against the others in an odd sort of rhythm that seems to work for them. Keith's arms wind themselves around Lance's neck pulling himself further and further onto his lap, his fingers brushing and tugging lightly at the ends of his hair.

Eventually the second kiss turns into a third kiss, turns into a fourth kiss, turns into a Lance loses count of how many times they kiss. When they do finally pull apart Lance realises they've somehow managed to end up on their sides at some point. Keith is essentially lying underneath him, legs tangled with Lance's own, hair tousled, cheeks pink, and a shy smile tugging at his lips.

"Was that good?"

"Are you going to ask me that every time we kiss?"

"Maybe," Keith says, already leaning up again to brush his lips against Lance's again. This kiss is more reminiscent of their first one; closed-mouthed, soft and slow, but when Keith's hands reach up to cup his cheeks, deepening the kiss effortlessly, Lance feels it in his toes.

"Yeah," he breathes, pulling away from Keith marginally to bump their foreheads gently. Keith's eyes flutter open and Lance commits the slightly dazed look that dominates his features for a second or two before he before he meets Lance's gaze to memory. "It's good."

It's better than good, Lance thinks as their eyelids flutter shut once again and their lips find each other, already getting used to this dance they've got going on.


By the time Lance's alarm (Britney Spears - Toxic) blares impatiently letting them know he needs to get going so he can catch his train to get back to the Garrison, Keith has already decided that kissing Lance might just be his new favourite hobby.

There's something very relaxing about lying in bed with Lance squashed up by his side, trading lazy kisses in between conversations about anything and everything. He learns lots of little things about him as well. Like, Lance is way too ticklish, discovered when Lance's shirt accidentally hitches up a little and Keith finds his hands running along the strip of warm, bare skin on show. It's the lightest of touches, but Lance half laughs, half shrieks, curling in on himself as he stares at Keith accusingly, like he'd purposely tried to tickle him.

When they eventually agree they can't ignore the sound of Lance's alarm for any longer - though Lance does seem to enjoy singing loudly (and badly) along to chorus - Keith immediately misses the warmth of Lance's body next to his own and finds himself wondering when he's going to get the chance to experience it again. He's not a mindreader of course, but he thinks their date has gone pretty well, which would imply more dates in the future, but Keith is also very aware of the fact Lance hasn't mentioned any possibility of that happening.

Neither have you, a voice - an irritatingly rational voice - in his mind tells him as he guides Lance out of his bedroom and back downstairs.

Lance insists on hugging and kissing all the cats before he leaves, saying something that sounds a lot like 'since someone won't do it for me' before he easily swoops Muffin up in his arms and presses an exaggerated kiss against the top of her head. To Keith's dismay, Muffin doesn't immediately try to tear his tongue out with a well aimed swipe of the paw, instead she seems to actually cuddle up to him a little more.

"You have cat treats on you, don't you?" Keith asks after Lance says his goodbyes to the kittens, promising Blue (Smurfette) he'll be back for her again. "That's why she likes you so much, right? Your pockets are laced with treats, or catnip or something." 

"Are you accusing me of drugging your cat?" Lance asks, as he follows Keith down the pathway towards where he'd left his bike earlier that afternoon. "Keith, I'm offended."

Keith shrugs, unlocking the helmets and tossing the spare one to Lance before he climbs onto his bike. "It seems like the only logical conclusion."

"Yeah?" Lance snorts, easily following Keith's movements as he settles himself onto the back of the bike like it's the most natural thing in the world, and he hadn't been terrified of just the thought of riding on bike just a few hours earlier. "Sounds like someone's jealous to me," Lance hums as he wraps his arms around Keith's waist. "It's alright, babe. I'm not into Muffin like that, you've got no reason to be jealous."

"You—" Keith snorts, revving up the engine and enjoying Lance's squawk of surprise when the bike lurches forwards without any real warning. "Are an idiot."

"Well, you just spent an hour smooching an idiot, soooo," Lance laughs, and even through the helmet Keith thinks he can feel his breath on the nape of his neck - or is that just wishful thinking? "What does that say about you?"

Keith pretends to think on it for a second or two. "That I'm a very, very patient person?"

"Kei—"

Keith laughs as Lance's indignant response turns into a shout of surprise as Keith takes off down the road.

"Mean," Lance hollers over the sound of the engine, grip around Keith's waist tightening a little as if to emphasise his point.

They make it to the station with just under fifteen minutes to spare. It's less busier than earlier that afternoon, and Keith manages to find a spot to park his bike relatively near the entrance.

Lance is a little quieter when he hands Keith back the helmet and pats himself down, checking nothing has fallen out of his pockets somehow on the ride. Keith eyes him carefully, wondering if he's imagining the way he seems avoid eye-contact with him even once he's done checking he hasn't lost anything.

"Is everything alright?" Keith asks, brows knitting in the middle as he tries to remember if he'd done anything to change the mood this much since leaving his house. He did speed up a little on the drive down, but Lance hadn't screeched in protest so he'd assumed it had been alright. "Was I too fast?"

"No, no," Lance says quickly. He takes a deep breath and takes a step forwards so he's standing less than an arms length away. "The ride was great. It was fine."

"Then—"

"I like you," Lance blurts out, fiddling nervously with the hem of his shirt. "I like you a lot. And— And I'm pretty sure you like me too."

Keith lets out a nervous laugh, not entirely sure where the conversation is going. "Really? What makes you say that?"

"Well for one," Lance grins over at him, inching forwards a little. "This hickey right here," he yanks down the collar of his shirt and presses a finger against his collarbone.

"I— I didn't mean—" Keith splutters, facing turning redder with each passing second. "I didn't mean to le—" He pauses, eyes narrowing as he peers closer over at Lance. "You don't have a hickey, Lance."

"And isn't that a damn shame?" Lance laughs, and Keith can't help but laugh too because maybe it is a shame.

"Did you have a point to that?"

"Yeah," Lance meets his gaze as his grin turns softer. "I really like you, Keith. And— And I want to do this—" He gestures between them, taking another step forwards until he's crowding himself into Keith's personal space. "So, do you, maybe, want to try?"

"Try what?" Keith croaks. His throat feels dry suddenly.

"Be my boyfriend?"

"I— What?"

Hurt flashes across Lance's face and he takes a step backwards. "I mean, you don't have to answer rig—"

Keith sticks an arm out and grabs Lance tightly by the hand, pulling him back into his circle of personal space again. "Sorry, that came out really wrong."

"You think?" Lance scoffs, though he doesn't look entirely convinced.

Keith clears his throat and tugs Lance closer towards him still. "Yes."

"Yes?"

"I like you, Lance. A lot." The tips of Lance's ears are red and Keith figures his own probably aren't faring much better. "I want— I want to try and do this," he gestures between them, mimicking the move Lance had done just moments earlier. "I want to. So, yeah."

"Cool," Lance breathes, giving Keith barely any warning before he dips his head and presses his lips against Keith's - hard, purposefully, and too, too quickly - and pulls away, a satisfied grin stretching from cheek to cheek. "Cool."

"Yeah," Keith manages to croak out, still reeling from the kiss. "Yeah."

"I think I have to go now," Lance murmurs, squinting up at the clock above the doors of the entrance of the station. "My train's due to get here in about two minutes."

Keith tries to keep the disappointed look off his face, but apparently he doesn't do a very good job of it because Lance chuckles quietly as dips his head again to press their lips together almost fleetingly before he pulls away. "I'll see you soon?"

"Yeah, soon."

Lance gives him once last glimpse of that blinding smile before he turns away and begins hightailing it up the stairs into the station. Keith watches him go and makes sure he's actually inside the station before he starts making his way back to his bike.

"Keith."

He frowns, whirling around to find Lance jogging down the stairs again, fumbling through his bag as he goes. "Lance?" Keith asks in confusion. "Your train? Aren't you about to mis—" He stumbles backwards as Lance tosses a badly wrapped package into his arms before he begins jogging back the way came.

"Your present!" Lance calls, taking the steps two at a time. "I forgot to give it to you back at your place! Just— Ah, let me know what you think!" And then he's gone, hurtling through the station doors, presumably bolting to his platform to catch his train.

Keith hefts the package between his hands as he settles him onto his bike, pausing for a fraction of a second before he tears the paper (newspaper, Keith realises with a snort) apart and tugs a pair of gloves and a pair of socks free from the confines. The gloves are bright red with black lining around the edges and there's even a little white 'K' on the inner wrists of each one. But it's not the gloves that have Keith sitting in the middle of a carpark fighting back a wide grin. It's the socks.

Keith laughs to himself as he tugs the thick wooly socks free from the packaging and holds them up in front of his face. They're completely red except for a dark black patch on both socks that Keith thinks is supposed to be chubby cat. He can just about make out the ears and the nose and a scowling face staring up at him. Still laughing, Keith fishes around in his pocket for his phone and quickly brings up his chat history with Lance to type out a new message.

(19:30) Is that supposed to be Muffin on the socks?

(19:30) aHHH YOU OPENED IT ALREADY?

(19:30) And yeah, it's an artists impression of my favourite niece.

(19:30) It's terrible isn't it?

(19:31) It looks nothing like her.

(19:31) I love it.

(19:31) The gloves too.

(19:32) :3c

(19:32) No.

(19:32) </3

(19:32) <3

 


(19:35) Laaaance.

(19:35) Where are you?

(19:36) You missed dinner, Iverson was on the warpath.

(19:40) I'm on the train.

(19:40) I'll be like thirty minutes!!

(19:40) Tell him I've got like...food poisoning or something.

(19:42) I told him you have diarrhoea.

(19:43) huNK??????

(19:44) I NEEDED SOMETHING REALISTIC THAT HE WOULDN'T QUESTION, SHUT UP.

(19:44) I'm not good when he puts me on the spot.

(19:47) I can't believe...

(19:48) Yeah, yeah, I'll make it up to you.

(19:48) But moving onto bigger and more important things...

(19:48) How was Keith?

(19:50) Oh

(19:50) WELL.

(19:51) I have a lot to tell you.

(19:53) In a good way or...

(19:56) :)

(19:56) A really good way.

(19:57) Omg.

(19:57) You're going out aren't you? Like properly???

(19:57) Officially??

(20:00) :)

(20:01) LANCE.

(20:01) :)

(20:03) Wow, really?

(20:03) I'll tell you everything when I get back, but yeah

(20:03) ~Officially~

(20:04) AHHHHHHH .

(20:04) RIGHT???????

(20:05) Holy shit, you have a boyfriend.

(20:06) :)

 

(19:49) Was that your bike I just heard pulling in?

(19:49) Or are you guys being robbed by a biker gang?

(20:01) That was me.

(20:02) Phew.

(20:02) So...Lance...

(20:04) Are you really doing this?

(20:05) YES.

(20:05) HOW DID IT GO?

(20:07) Good.

(20:08) Keiiiithhhhhh.

(20:08) You've gotta give me more than that. I'm living my romantic life vicariously through you, you know?

(20:10) Really good.

(20:12) I swear to God it's like pulling teeth with you.

(20:13) We're going out.

(20:15) Like

(20:15) Like, you're going out to a restaurant sometime soon or...

(20:16) Going out as in, he's your boyfriend now?

(20:18) The second one.

(20:19) REALLY?

(20:20) Yeah.

(20:21) Omg.

(20:21) You know you have to change your Facebook relationship status now?

(20:23) ...

(20:23) No.

(20:25) Eh. I'll do it for you.

(20:26) You don't know my password.

(20:28) That's what you think.

(20:28) Also, you know that bowl I brought over?

(20:30) Yeah...

(20:31) Can you bring it back? It's not actually yours.

(20:31) I just needed a reason to come over.

(20:33) What the hell, Pidge????

(20:34) :)

 

(20:37) So, I hear congratulations are in order?

(20:39) What?

(20:40) Matt just told us.

(20:40) About you and Lance?

(20:41) The fuck?

(20:41) I literally told Pidge 10 minutes ago.

(20:41) Are they joined at the brain or something???

(20:43) I'm still trying to figure that out.

(20:44) But yeah, congrats?

(20:46) Thanks, Shiro.

(20:46) :)

(20:47) You know...

(20:47) Now you're seeing someone...the next time me and Allura are back in town...maybe...

(20:48) We are not double dating, Shiro.

(20:48) IT'D BE FUN.

(20:49) No.

(20:51) I'll ask Lance instead.

(20:54) No don't, he might say yes.

(20:54) That's exactly why I'm gonna ask him.

(20:55) Nope. You're banned from talking to my boyfriend without me there.

(20:55) Too late, I just sent him a Facebook message.

(20:58) NO.

(20:59) And he just responded.

(20:59) What did he say?

(21:00) A lot of emojis and then 'hell yeah, sounds great!!!!!' and then a lot of emojis again.

(21:02) Betrayed by my brother and my boyfriend on the same day.

(21:02) Amazing.

(21:03) Aww.

(21:04) Shiro, no.

(21:06) But it's cute!

(21:07) No.

(21:10) Just let me get one more 'aw' out and I'll never call you or Lance cute again.

(21:11) We both knows that's a lie.

(21:12) Okay, true.

(21:12) I'm gonna do it anyway, though.

(21:13) AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

(21:14) ...

(21:14) What does Allura see in you, please?

(21:18) She says it's my dashing good looks.

(21:18) And apparently I make a mean cup of coffee in the mornings.

(21:20) Yeah that sounds about right.

(21:20) The second one, not the first one.

(21:23) When did you get so mean?

(21:23) Somewhere between your second and third 'aw'

(21:25) ...

(21:25) Noted.

 

(22:01) Hi :)

(22:01) Hey :)

(22:02) According to Hunk, I haven't stopped smiling since I got home.

(22:02) So, yeah.

(22:02) That's on you.

(22:04) I'm willing to accept the blame there.

(22:04) I

(22:05) I had fun today.

(22:05) A lot of fun.

(22:06) Same.

(22:06) :)

(22:07) :)

(22:07) Also, the socks fit.

(22:08) REALLY?

(22:09) Yeah.

(22:09) [IMAGE SENT]

(22:09) [IMAGE RECEIVED]

(22:10) You're wearing them right now?????

(22:11) Yeah. They're really warm.

(22:11) Also, they smell like you and Muffin keeps sniffing my toes suspiciously.

(22:12) Don't think she can decide if she's supposed to hate me or love me.

(22:15) Aw, what an angel.

(22:16) Demons are fallen angels so I guess that's true.

(22:18) Now I've met her, I'm not tolerating your Muffin slander any longer.

(22:19) You literally saw the way she hissed at me????

(22:20) She's traumatised clearly.

(22:20) From what?????

(22:21) From that time you stepped on her tail.

(22:23) FIVE YEARS AGO.

(22:24) I mean...it's your word against hers.

(22:25) I can't believe

(22:25) My boyfriend is siding with a cat instead of me.

(22:27) Ahhhhhhhh.

(22:27) You called me your boyfriend.

(22:28) Lance.

(22:28) You are my boyfriend.

(22:29) I AM!!!!

(22:29) And you're mine.

(22:30) Yeah.

(22:31) Wow.

(22:32) Mhm.

(22:34) <3

(22:35) <3

(22:36) I'm never gonna get used to that.

(22:36) Used to what?

(22:38) You being my boyfriend.

(22:38) Holding your hand.

(22:38) Kissing you...

(22:30) Oh...

(22:30) Same.

(22:34) It was good, right?

(22:35) Yeah.

(22:35) Really good.

(22:36) We can do it again soon?

(22:36) I'd like that.

(22:37) Cool.

(22:37) Cooool.

(22:39) Keith?

(22:40) Yeah?

(22:41) I really like you.

(22:42) I really like you too.

(22:45) <3

(22:46) <3