Hey Red! I’ve been following you for a while now and I’m always amazed at how flawless and beautiful you look. Do you have any makeup recommendations? What’s your favorite product?
Oh thanks! I’m sure most of it is due to good lighting and talented photographers though.
My favorite product is my maybeline master precise eyeliner. Shiro gave it to me and I haven’t looked back. I also really like the body shop’s blush and bronzer.
Hi Red, ah sorry I’m pretty new to cosplay and I was just wondering how you dealt with long wigs? I have so much trouble, but your hair always looks so smooth and natural.
Get some horse man and tail detangler. … I’m serious. It’s the best for preventing your wigs from tangling. If you go to your local saddler the store clerks should be able to tell you which brand is their favorite.
…maybe don’t tell them it’s for wigs though.
Hey Red, sorry I may have just stalked your blog a bit, but I notice you and Tay of “TheTailorCosplays” live in the same town and often go to the same cons. It looks like you’ve competed against each other several times too. Are you guys friends at all? If you are, you guys should totally cosplay together sometime. I think you’d look great together.
… I have no idea who you’re talking about.
“No idea!” Lance shrieks. It startles Hunk next to him and the car swerves violently.
“WHAT WHAT?!” Hunk exclaims.
“Sorry! Sorry, not you.” Lance calms his friend before their car goes careening off the road. Lance looks down at his phone again. He stares at the tumblr post glaring up at him. I have no idea who you’re talking about. The small letters cut through him.
“I just…. I cannot believe…”
“What is it?”
“Someone just asked Red-Lioness-Cosplay about me. Like if we were friends?!”
Pidge perks up in the back seat at the sound of Red’s name. Anytime she was brought up in a conversation, Lance would crumble into a seething, horny rage.
“Oh?” Pidge adjusts her glasses.
“And she said, AND I QUOTE, ‘I have no idea who you’re talking about’. NO IDEA?!” Lance throws his arms up. His hands whack against the roof of the car.
“Whoa, whoa, slow down there. Who’s this girl?” Hunk dodges his lanky limbs.
“Red!” Lance exclaims, like the name… or colour, should awaken some memory within Hunk. Pidge leans forward, resting on the center console.
“Red is that really hot cosplayer that keeps beating Lance to a pulp in competitions.” She smirks.
“She does not beat me to a pulp. She scrapes a few extra points in the craftsmanship area. That’s all.” Lance crosses his arms and pouts. Hunk scowls. He wracks his brain for some mention of this person, when his eyes light up.
“OH! The Samus incident?!”
The Samus incident. That’s what the trio had called it.
Just last year, Lance had entered a cosplay competition. He went as Vergil in his devil trigger mode from the video game DMC, which was slightly unusual for Lance, who usually prefered big armour builds. But this time he had chosen to focus more on his sewing skills. His jacket was lined, hand dyed, hand embroidered, and true to his online username, excellently tailored to his body. He’d spent days cos-testing and trying to figure out the best method to create Vergil’s demon makeup, and standing on stage, he had looked like he had been lifted straight from the game. Lance was a performer. No doubt about it. His skits were always the best, and he usually won the audience’s approval easily. Even if he couldn’t grab the coveted first prize, Lance had won more audience choice awards than anyone else in the cosplay community. He was charming, charismatic, and moved with ease on stage. He had the audience loudly cheering during this competition. He had first prize in the bag.
That’s when Red walked out as Samus from the Metroid video games. Lance had been mildly impressed. She was in the Varia suit, which definitely was a difficult build, but Lance had seen stuff like this before. Well done, but pretty standard fare. And it looked difficult to move around in. Her movements were clunky and looked nothing like the fast moving bounty hunter she was supposed to be. Lance had chuckled to himself side of stage. Finally he was going to beat her. This was a long time coming.
Until she stepped into the middle of the stage. With a few clicks and a whir, the Varia suit opened up. The huge armour parted in the middle, and with a removal of her helmet and a tossing of her long, blonde wig, Red stepped out in Samus’ zero suit.
“TWO COSPLAYS!” Lance had hissed. One character. Two costumes. Perfectly executed. Red was stunning in the zero suit that glistened under the bright lights. It was so tight on her body that it was sinful, and even though Lance was pretty sure Red was a brunette, hot damn did she look good blonde. He didn’t know whether he wanted to punch her or propose to her.
This was it. He couldn’t beat this.
And he didn’t.
“Yes, yes. Red was that Samus cosplayer.” Lance continues to pout in the front seat of the car.
“We were all very impressed. She actually deserved to beat me that time.”
“I dunno. She trashed your Owain from Fire Emblem when she was Queen Serenity from Sailor moon pretty damn well.” Pidge chuckles.
“SAILOR MOON IS BASIC BITCH COSPLAY AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT.” Lance seethes. Hunk scoffs next to him.
“No it’s not.” He laughs.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure she had an eight foot train. And I think she made a lot of the lace herself…. You told me she looked like an angel.” Pidge teases.
“Nope, nope. Did not. Don’t remember.” Lance shakes his head.
“You told me you were going to marry her. That your oldest son was going to be named Miguel.” Pidge states. Much to Lance’s annoyance, her incredible memory didn’t just soak up complex formulas and facts. She had a knack for filing away all the ridiculous things Lance spouted, to hold them against him at a later date.
“So what’s the big deal? She doesn’t know you. You’re not friends.” Hunk shrugs.
“Oh ho ho, it’s not friendship that Lance wants.” Pidge giggles. Lance blushes up to his ears.
“Look! My feelings for Red are very complicated, but the one thing I do know is that I am very insulted she doesn’t know me. We compete against each other all the time! I remember her!” Lance slumps down in his seat. He’s being dramatic, but Hunk can tell that this has genuinely hurt him. Despite their rivalry, it’s clear that Lance has a lot of respect for what Red does. It’s not unusual for Pidge to wake up to a text at 2am from Lance with a link to one of her latest photoshoots and a message exclaiming “Look at what this chick just pulled off!”.
Lance sighs. His words are quiet.
“I just figured she would know me by now.” He purses his lips. The car engine thrums.
“Well… you have another con coming up. Maybe you could confront her there?” Hunk offers. “Just you know, introduce yourself. Maybe show her some photos of the two of you standing next to each other?” His words are sweet and supportive, but Lance only focuses on two of them. Confront her.
“Yeaaaaahhhh,” Lance’s eyes widen. He sits up. “This weekend. I’ll destroy her this weekend!” He crows.
“You’re not even competing this weekend.” Pidge drawls. Lance turns around and stares at her with wide eyes.
“Oh I’m always competing, Pidge.” He starts to whisper. “In this game called life.”
“Oh my god.” Pidge throws herself across the seat.
Hunk parks in their school’s student parking lot and they begin to make their way to their classes. Pidge, being the year below, heads in the opposite direction to her chemistry class, whilst Hunk and Lance walk towards physics.
Lance hates physics. The material is dry. It’s a lot of reading and memorization and rope learning, which Lance has found does not suit the way his brain works at all. Hunk has taken it upon himself to tutor him, which has helped greatly, but it doesn’t make the subject any more interesting. It just means that Lance can now sit in class and actually understand what his teacher tells them.
They file into their classroom, lit up by the early morning sun, and begin to pile into their assigned seats. Their teacher stands at the front of the class with an enthusiastic smile.
“Good morning class!” Coran’s ginger moustache bounces on his lip. Lance likes Coran a lot. He speaks to Lance in hushed tones because he knows he is self conscious about not understanding the material, and Coran always tries to explain things in terms that he knows Lance will understand. It’s just a shame that he teaches such a buuuuullshit subject.
“Today I am going to introduce to you your latest assignment! It’s a real doozy, so I’ve given you two months to complete it.”
There’s a communal groan throughout the class.
“Now, now don’t be like that. I think you guys are gonna have a lot of fun with this one.” Coran taps his computer and flicks up the assignment criteria sheet, which is projected onto the whiteboard at the front of the class.
“Using what we’ve learnt about forces and engineering over the past few months, you guys are going to design and build a bridge! And to keep things interesting we are going to make it a competition.” Coran claps his hands proudly.
“The bridge that weighs the least, but is able to support the most, wins!”
“What do we win?” Lance drawls. Coran beams.
“The respect and adoration of your peers!” He announces. “…and maybe a king sized snickers.”
There’s a weak cheer.
“Also you will be completing this in partners…”
Lance’s head almost whips off his neck with the speed he turns to face Hunk. Their eyes meet. Hunk waggles his eyebrows coyly at him. Lance blows a kiss and Hunk pretends to catch it, before sighing dreamily.
“…and I will be assigning them to you.” Coran continues.
Lance turns cold. Nooooo. Group and partner assignments break him. Despite his easy-going nature, school is important to him. He needs good grades to get where he wants to be after school, so he can’t afford teammates who slack off or do poorly. Because Lance knows he can’t compensate for them. He can’t be that kid who ends up doing the whole project himself and getting an A+ for everyone involved. He needs the help. Hunk is usually that help. He waits and preys that Coran is merciful. He knows Hunk and Lance are usually a team, and they produce good work.
Pleeeease, Coran. Lance tries to telepathically communicate with his teacher. This is Laaaaaaance. Put me with Huuuuuuuunk.
Coran makes his way around the room. He reads off kids names from his notepad. He’s thought about this. He’s not just drawing names out of a hat like other teachers.
“Lance!” He calls out. Lance makes his best puppy dog eyes. You knoooow what I waaaant Coraaaan. Coran seems to chuckle.
“I think you’d do well with Keith for this one.” He states, then moves on to the next student. He walks away before Lance can sputter and argue.
KEITH?! His chest clenches. Lance has had very little exposure to Keith, but all of his encounters have been unpleasant. So far he has formed the opinion that Keith is two things:
- An arrogant butt.
He speaks to Lance with clipped, terse words, like he doesn’t have the time to spare to talk to him. He keeps to himself and seems to sigh a lot.
He laughed when Lance got a problem wrong on the board.
That had been the nail in the coffin. Lance’s fingers were already shaking with nervousness. He could barely read his smudgy handwriting on the whiteboard, and when he had chosen the incorrect coeffiecient and Keith’s laugh rang out? He’d never felt more worthless in his life. He wanted the ground to swallow him. It took every fiber in his body to not burst into tears. Hunk had had to give him an extra big hug after that class.
Keith was an asshole. Lance was sure of it. But he had the second highest grades in the class, after Hunk, so at least Lance wouldn’t have to pull him along. Lance tries to not think about him struggling with calculations. He tries not to think about Keith sniggering at him as he has to erase something, or flick open his text book for help. He isn’t sure he can emotionally handle this. His heart beats in his throat.
“L…Lance?” He snaps up at the sound of his name. Everyone around him is packing up there things and Keith is standing in front of him. Oh god, had he worried away the whole lesson? He doesn’t even remember what it was about! Crap. He’ll have to get Hunk over for another tutoring session.
“Um… I was thinking we should probably… exchange numbers. So we can talk about the assignment?” Keith nervously scratches his arm. Lance narrows his eyes. What did he have to be anxious about? He must be furious he’s gotten partnered with a dunce like Lance.
“Yeah. Guess you’re right.” Lance sighs. He fishes in his pocket and pulls out his phone, then hands it over to Keith.
“Just put your number in.”
“Mmm, you too.” Keith hands his over. Lance almost smiles at the Evangelion charm that hangs from it.
“When did you uh… did you want to meet up sometime outside of school to work on this?” Keith takes his phone back.
“Yeah. I’m busy this weekend though. I have a…” Oh god, Keith does not need to know Lance goes to conventions. He’s sure he’d really laugh at that. And if he knew he cosplayed? Lance’s reputation would be ruined. Lanky Hispanic kid likes to play dress up. He can already hear the taunts.
“A…thing.” Lance finishes.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve got a thing too.” Keith sighs. “Monday afternoon? After school?”
Lance mentally flips through his schedule. The convention would be over and he didn’t have any pressing assignments due the next day.
“Ok.” Lance nods. He packs his untouched books into his bag. “Text me if you have any genius ideas throughout the week.”.
And he shuffles past Keith and out the door.
Keith falls into his room and collapses on his bed. School has a way of zapping all the energy out of him with all the continuous noise and forced social interaction. His parents are still at work, so he’s thankful that the house is currently silent. He shimmies his backpack off of his shoulders and rolls over. His back cracks as he stretches out on the bed. He closes his eyes. Taking slow breaths, he reaches his hand into his pocket and pulls out his phone. He unlocks it to see that Lance’s contact information is the last thing still open. He smiles at that. He’d have to give Coran a good review at the end of semester. Maybe his stares across the class had been less subtle than he thought.
He presses the home button and Lance’s info disappears. He flicks between apps on his phone checking messages (a text from Shiro asking about an upcoming convention), reading emails, and scrolling idly through facebook. He’s finished reading all of the important messages when he decides to open up his tumblr app. He’s planning on just flipping through his dashboard, maybe liking a few cosplays and videos of shiba inus, when he sees the bright red number staring aggressively at him from the corner of the app’s icon.
He had 37 messages.
“Whaaaaaat?” He drawls. It was pretty common for him to get messages. Usually they were people asking for cosplay tips, or maybe even the rare fan linking him to some fanart they did, but 37?! That was an unusually high number.
Oh god, what’s happened? He breathes to himself. He tentatively opens the app and begins to read.
Whoa, what? What do you mean you don’t know Tailor? I swear I’ve seen you guys together in convention photos before? Have you never properly introduced yourselves?
SHUT YOUR ASS. What do you mean you don’t know Tay??!!
DUDE. DUDE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Go check out Tailor right now, because he’s super cute, and wow I could stalk his blog all day, but he’s also hella talented. Seriously, go.
HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW TAY?! His Eren Jaeger went viral. He’s basically canon now. Also his Spike Spiegel is the thing dreams are made of.
All of Keith’s messages are like this. All of them. He’s so overwhelmed he can’t even begin to reply to any. What were they even talking about?! Why was he being attacked like this? … WHO THE HELL WAS TAY? And why was he such a big deal?
Keith looks through his previous asks, thinking someone must have asked him about it. And sure enough there it is. An innocent question and a username that Keith had previously brushed off. TheTailorCosplays. Thinking that he has to appease the masses somehow, he clicks the link.
Keith had no idea what his name was, or even that he had a tumblr or a decent following, but yes. Keith absolutely remembers this guy. He had just been calling him “That really hot Hispanic cosplayer” in his head. He was definitely talented. Enough so that Keith really thought he was going to beat him a few times in competition, but he hadn’t quite managed it yet.
But his costumes weren’t what pulled Keith in. It was the way his smile charmed everyone around him, and how he moved with confident self assurance. His laugh could be heard tinkling like bells in the convention halls, and he was always warm and welcoming to anyone who approached him. Nothing like Keith. Keith was beautiful, but distant. He couldn’t have animated, passionate conversations with strangers the way this guy could. God… how many times had he wanted to congratulate him or say hello, but he had always chickened out?
Keith spends the next two hours drooling over his blog.
Hunk waits outside the teeming exhibition center. Saturday has finally rolled around, and he waits anxiously to see what Lance and Pidge are going to pull off this time. Lance has been surprisingly quiet about it. Hunk doesn’t cosplay, but he certainly admires the idea of it, and he loves that his best friend has found something that makes him this happy.
Hunk: You guys almost here?
Pidge: Literally just walking around the corner.
Hunk: Which corner?
Lance: Look up dumbass.
Hunk’s head whips up and he quickly spies Pidge and…
“Ohhhhhhh myyyy gooooood!” His booming laugh carries throughout the courtyard. Lance’s smile beams from underneath his blue helmet. His bulky, bright, blue armour stands out strikingly in the crowd, and he waves the shovel he carries around dramatically.
“You’re Shovel Knight?!” Hunk cackles. The two of them had played the co-op of the game until 3am one night during the summer holidays, and it held a special place in their hearts.
“Yeah man!” Lance is just as enthusiastic to show Hunk. He’s been sitting on this secret for months.
“Oh my god,” Hunk is still catching his breath from laughing so hard. “I love it. I love it so much. Oh my god…”
Lance claps him on the shoulder and holds his phone out.
“Here I’ve gotta get a photo with you…” He starts.
“No no! Take it with my phone!” Hunk clumsily takes his phone out of his pocket and switches the camera on. He wraps an arm around Lance’s bulky middle.
“I’m making this my phone background, so look nice.” He warns. Lance chuckles.
“I always look nice.”
There’s a click and Hunk pulls down the phone to inspect the photo. His smile grows wider.
“You look amazing, dude.” He shakes his head in disbelief.
“You glad I kept it a secret?” Lance teases.
“Oh absolutely.” And true to his word, Hunk sets the photo as his phone’s background. That’s when he finally looks up to see Pidge. She’s dressed in jeans and a green tank top. Casual wear. Hunk arches an eyebrow.
“Lance didn’t need a shota sidekick this time?”
“No.” pidge crosses her arms. “Thank god.”
“Aw c’mon, we have fun together.” Lance prods her in the side with the handle of his shovel. She bats it away.
“You have fun. Girls come up to you and tell you how handsome you are, while I spend all day being told that I’m adorable and cute.” She hisses.
“You are cute!” Lance exclaims. His voice echoes in his large helmet. Pidge’s eyes narrow.
“I would cut you in your sleep and not even think twice about it.”
“Shovel knight never sleeps. He is a warrior for all.” Lance prods her with his shovel again and she hits it away more aggressively.
“Alright, I’ve had enough of this. Hunk we’re going to be late.”
Hunk looks at his watch and makes a noise of affirmation.
“Oh yeah! We’ll see you later, man.”
“Whoa, whoa! Where you going?” Lance calls after his friends as they begin to walk away.
“There’s an animatronics and 3d printing panel. You can come too!”
“Ugh, I’ll pass. You nerds go have fun. I’ll be in the dealer’s hall.”
“kay!” and Hunk jogs after Pidge.
Lance tries to move about the dealer’s hall and artist alley, but it’s difficult with how large he is, and how frequently he’s stopped for photos. He’s particularly thrilled when little kids recognize him, and he always lets them hold the shovel in photos and thanks their parents for bringing them to the convention. He remembers his mum chauffeuring him around with all his gear when he was younger, and what a pain it must have been for her. But she never complained.
A huge group of jock looking guys yell at him from across the hall, and he ends up spending about 15 minutes with them taking ridiculous photos and laughing at their enthusiasm and expressions. Several people even recognize him, not only as Shovel Knight, but as Tay. He hears the name called out, and at first he doesn’t notice it. Tay is an online alias. The online world never met the real world, yet here these girls were. Yelling out his username and running over to him. They got photos and gushed about their favorite cosplays of his, and he could have probably spent all day with those girls, when someone caught his eye. A flash of red hair and black leather.
“Girls, I am so sorry, but I’ve just seen someone I really need to talk to. If you could just… excuse…”
He starts to walk through their group as cries of “Oh sure!” and “Go right ahead!” follow him.
Their voices are faint to him now though. His eyes are locked on the Batwoman cosplayer across the hall… because he would recognize that ass anywhere.
‘Hey! Red!” He barks. The cosplayer spins around at the name. Her red curls bounce lightly against her shoulders, and beneath her mask, Lance can just make out her eyes widening.
Keith’s eyes land on the huge Shovel Knight cosplayer immediately. He’d be impressed and ask for a photo, if he weren’t barreling towards him intimidatingly.
“Red Lioness, right?” Shovel Knight snaps.
Oh god. What did he do?
“Y…yes?” He stammers. He can barely breathe past his waist cincher. His ankles ache from his heels and he’s sweating underneath three layers of padding, undergarments, and pleather. He does not need this right now.
“Sooooo, we’ve been competing against each other for years. I win a bunch of audience choices over you, and you don’t even know who I am?”
“Tailorcosplays?” He sighs.
“Oh good, so now you’ve figured it out!” Shovel Knight scoffs.
“I… I know who you are.” God, this was not how Keith wanted to introduce himself.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’re name. But I definitely know who you are.” Keith speaks very quietly. Almost sheepishly. Shovel Knight’s rage is immediately gone.
“Yeah. Your Owain definitely should have beat my Serenity. You did all that leather work by hand, yeah?”
Lance is very thankful that he’s wearing a helmet, because he knows he’s turned bright red.
“Y…yeah.” He sighs. Red nervously bites her lip. “Look, I’m sorry. I was just really hurt that you seemed to not know who I was.”
“You follow my blog?” Red asks, looking surprised.
“Well…well yeah. I need to see what my rival is up to.”
And even though Keith can’t see it, he knows what kind of wide grin Tay wears under his helmet.
“I’m very flattered.” She smiles. “And I’m sorry too. God if I had known what a big deal it was gonna be…”
“I swear to god I didn’t send those people to harass you.”
“I know you didn’t, and it’s ok. They kind of had a point.” Red laughs.
“So… Tailor?” Red holds out a hand. Lance smiles and shakes it.
“Tay is fine. Red?”
And she nods. They let go of each other and Lance doesn’t miss the once over Red gives him.
“I’m very impressed. But is the shovel really necessary? It must get annoying.”
Lance balks at the question.
“What… Excuse…?! … What kind of weak ass Shovel Knight would I be…”
“Okay, okay!” Red laughs. It makes Lance’s stomach flutter. He’s never seen Red show any other kind of expression besides “ethereally beautiful” and “murderous”. It’s thrilling to hear her voice and see her smile like a regular person.
“Do you uh… think I could get a photo?”
“YES.” Lance answers all too eagerly. “I… I mean of course. I’d really like that.” He clears his throat. Red pulls out her phone and waves for Lance to come over.
“You’re gonna have to squat a bit. I can’t get us both in frame.” She chuckles.
“Sure, sure.” Lance looks up at the phone’s screen and tries to position himself as best he can. He flashes up a peace sign when the camera clicks. Red brings it down and smiles at it. Lance quickly stands up before his legs give out under him. A silence yawns between them, but he doesn’t want to leave just yet. Not when he’s so close to maybe actually striking up some kind of friendship with this girl.
“So! Uhhh….” He struggles for a conversation topic. “Batwoman huh? You… You a fan?”
“Well we have a lot in common,” Red sighs.
“We both wear an unhealthy amount of red and black, and we’re both very very gay.” She laughs.
Lance’s heart drops to his stomach. Of course… of course he had never expected any kind of relationship with Red… but he couldn’t deny his attraction to her. She was stunning, talented, and looked like she could bite out a man’s jugular. All thing’s Lance found imperative in a woman. He knew he could never have anything with Red. She was grossly out of his league, but to have his hopes dashed so swiftly… it felt like a punch in the gut.
“Oh?” He squeaks.
“I thought it was obvious.” Red smirks.
“I don’t uh… I don’t know anything about you besides what you like to dress up as.” Lance chuckles. “But you must have a lot of disappointed fans.”
Red just shrugs.
“But then I also have a lot of followers that would be really excited about that.”
“Yeah, I bet that’s true.” Lance nods.
“You can’t please everyone.” Red laughs breathily. “I mean you seem to have a fairly strong following. I bet your orientation disappoints half of your fans.”
“Oh well…” Lance leans forward on his shovel. “I’m bi…. So actually no. Everyone has a chance.”
Keith swears he can hear Tay’s eyebrows waggling.
“Oh.” He states. “Everyone?”
“I am a man of varied tastes.”
And Keith can just make out Tay’s white teeth smiling from underneath his helmet.
“You’re a nerd. You’re at an anime convention. Just remember that.” Keith replies snarkily. Tay laughs loudly at that.
“Oh I know. You don’t have to remind me.”
Something loudly buzzes in Lance’s bag. He fossicks around until he grabs his phone, and pulls off a glove to unlock it. A message from Pidge blinks on the screen.
Pidge: Yo our panel’s finished. You up for food?
Lance’s stomach growls appreciatively. He hasn’t eaten at all in the rush to get costumed up and out the door.
“Ah, I’m really sorry…”
“You gotta go?” Red smiles. Lance nods sadly.
“It’s cool. I’m just glad I could finally put a face to a name…” Red squints at Lance’s all eclipsing helmet. “…Well kind of anyway.”
“Me too.” Lance hums. “But uh, Comiccon is in a fortnight. I know it’s a bit close but…”
“I’ll be there.” Red smiles and tucks a strand of her red wig away.
“What are you cosplaying as?”
Lance’s eyes twinkle.
“Ahhhhh, that is a surprise. But hopefully something more transportable than this.” Lance shrugs and the huge weight of his armour shifts.
“What are you going as?”
“Well if you’re not telling, I’m not telling.” Red grins. God her smile is sexy.
Lance’s phone buzzes angrily.
Pidge: YO! EATS!
“Just go, it’s fine.” Red waves him off. Lance waves back and starts to jog away.
“Try to recognize me at the next con!” He laughs.
“I’ll follow your blog!” Red yells back.
“Please don’t! I really don’t need you stealing my secrets.”
“Your secrets are hot glue and duct tape. I see through you.”
Red’s words should be insulting, but the way she chuckles afterwards makes Lance feels lighthearted.
After a long shower, Lance collapses into his bed. His feet ache from wandering around the convention all day, but he got a lot of great photos out of it. And Pidge and Hunk seemed to have a good time at whatever nerd speaker they listened to. Lance lays in his boxers and begins to flip through his phone. Guiltily, he starts to go through Red’s blog. Sure enough, there’s a bunch of photos of her as Batwoman with a swarm of fans and other cosplayers. There’s also a few self indulgent selfies that Lance recognizes had to have been taken in the convention’s bathroom. Ok, so she was totally out of his league and a lesbian, but that didn’t stop Lance from scanning through every new photo and post with intense focus.
That’s when he sees it. The selfie Red had taken with him, with her beaming widely and Lance flashing up his peace fingers. You can’t see it, but Lance remembers how widely he had been smiling at that time. His chest flutters when he reads the caption underneath.
Before any more of you send me any more angry messages, I met TheTailorCosplays today, and yes I DID remember him, I just had no idea what his name was. He seemed to laugh the whole thing off, even though I felt terrible. He’s very talented and I expect a lot of great things from him.
Lance pulls his knees up to his chest and giggles like a little girl. He’d be more embarrassed if he weren’t too busy feeling absolutely elated. A notification flashes up for just a moment.
Red-Lioness-Cosplay started following you.
Damn. He’d have to stop posting as many memes now.
Keith: Uh hey. It’s Keith.
Keith: So we said we’d meet up tomorrow afternoon, but we never said where.
Keith: I’d offer my place, but I think my mom has her book club over.
Lance: My place then? You can just come back with me after school. I can drop you back home or get my dad to when we’ve finished.
Keith: you sure?
Lance: yeah it’s easy
Keith: Cool. See ya then.
Lance: *thumbs up emoji*
“Ohhhhh man.” Keith presses his hands to his burning cheeks. Lance’s house. Lance’s house. Lance’s… bedroom? Is that where they would be working?
Lance was loud, obnoxious, kind of skinny, and untactful. Keith knew all of these things. He’d repeat them to himself over and over. But everyday he was still entranced with Lance’s smile. The way he effortlessly made other people laugh and feel at ease. He was bright, and warm, and his nose turned upwards in the cutest way when…
Keith shakes himself back into focus. This is his chance. To finally make friend’s with Lance the way literally everyone else in their cohort had. Keith would be a good partner, and he would be nice. Not weird and standoffish. Not cold and unintentionally rude like he always was. Not moody and broody. Nice dammit. Keith claps his hands against his cheeks with determination.
You can do it!
Monday afternoon arrives and the drive to Lance’s house is fairly quiet. He politely asks how Keith’s weekend was, and what he got up to, and Keith replies in short sentences. He’s too afraid he’ll say something embarrassing (well I walked around in heels, a padded bra and a leather bodysuit all Saturday) or rude, which he has a tendency for. Keith isn’t rude or mean, he’s just terrified. Lance is in the seat right next to him. Keith going to his house. Butterflies lurch violently in his stomach and he keeps his mouth shut as a defence against vomiting everywhere.
They pull up into Lance’s driveway and Keith is surprised at the level of debris outside the house. It’s not… messy. “Organised Chaos” his mother might call it. A pile of bikes have been tossed in the corner of the yard. There’s a classic white picket fence around the large property, and Keith has to step over several dog toys that hide in the long grass. They reach the front door and Keith is frightened of the shouting inside. What the hell was happening?
“You have siblings?” Lance asks. His hand hesitates on the door nob.
“Oh jeez. Brace yourself.” Lance warns. They push inside and Keith winces at the noise. Two people are shouting at each other from across the hall, but there’s oddly no malice to it.
“I need my hoodie, Lisa!” A male voice yells out.
“I don’t have your hoodie! I gave it back!”
“Nooooo, then I would have it!”
“Jesus, I left it right on your…” A girl comes stomping out of a bedroom. Her mass of brown curls has been pulled into a messy bun on top of her head, and there’s still some baby fat around her face. She looks about 14. She’s heavier than Lance, but has the same tight mouth when she grimaces. Her eyes dart up and spy the two boys. They widen when they land on Keith.
“Jeez, could you guys keep it down. I’ve got someone over to work on an assignment.” Lance sighs.
“Keith, this is my sister, Lisa. Lisa, Keith.” Lance quickly introduces them. Lisa gives Keith another once over with a smirk.
“School assignment?” She asks. Lance hums.
“Shame. He’s pretty cute. I thought you’d finally gotten a boy…”
“OK LEAVING NOW!” Lance forcibly shoves Keith past. With a hard push and a tumble, Keith finds himself in Lance’s bedroom with the door being slammed behind him. He pulls himself up and readjusts his messed up uniform.
“What was that?!” He breathes.
“Nothing. Never mind. She’s just a brat. We getting started or what?” Lance throws his backpack on the bed and begins to rummage through it to pull out his physics books.
“Uh yeah… ok.” Keith looks on in confusion, but follows Lance’s example all the same.
They sprawl out on Lance’s floor. Papers and textbooks are scattered around them, and Lance has provided cushions for them to lean on. They’re trying to brainstorm what materials they could make their bridge out of, and what style of bridge they should go for, but Keith is getting distracted by the contents of Lance’s room. It’s organized chaos, just like the rest of the house, but Keith smiles at all the knick knacks and posters he can identify on the walls. There’s several printed out photos of Lance, Pidge, and Hunk in silly poses pinned by the bed’s headboard. It looks like the photos were taken in one of those novelty photo booths.
A cup of empty ramen noodles sits on his desk, as well as several empty cans of Sprite. A couple of little league trophies sit high on a dusty shelf, and there’s a pile of spider man comics on the floor next to Lance’s bedside.
“What about an arch bridge?” Lance asks out loud. Keith pulls himself back into the conversation.
“For the type of bridge. Did you have a preference? Arch through bridge seems easy.”
“Oh… like Sydney harbor bridge style?” Keith offers. He flicks through his notes about bridges, and the advantages and disadvantages of each style.
“Suspension is always reliable. And probably easiest to do calculations for.” Keith looks up, but Lance has glazed over. He’s looking at nothing in particular, and Keith notices the bags under his eyes.
“Dude,” Keith says sharply. Lance comes back into focus.
“Sorry, sorry. I’m just…”
Lance is exhausted. Conventions always fool around with his energy levels for a few days. The stress of the night before, the adrenaline of putting everything on the morning of, and then running around excitedly for the whole weekend. He’s struggling to stay awake, even when Keith’s glare is right in front of him.
“I’m sorry, I just had a big weekend.” He rubs his eyes tiredly. “It’s been difficult to stay focused today.”
Boy, did Keith know how that felt. He had practically slept all of Sunday and he was only just returning to normal today. The balls of his feet still ached occasionally from his heels. And his sleep schedule barely had time to recover after the several late nights he had pulled to finish off his costume.
“Yeah, yeah me too.” Keith slumps forwards onto his elbows. He winces a bit.
“Sorry, can I use your bathroom?” He mumbles. Lance wakes up a bit at that.
“Oh yeah, sure thing.” He stands and opens the door. Luckily his siblings have quieted down significantly. Keith begins to walk down the hall.
“Just the second door on the left.” Lance directs. Keith pauses. Second from the start of the hall? Or second from where he is now? He begins to move towards a battered looking door, which is second from the start of the hall. It looks like paint covered fingers have touched it recently. Blue paint.
“This one?” He begins to turn the handle.
“NO!” Lance abruptly pops up in between him and the door. “That one!” Lance nods towards the next door down.
“That’s the bathroom. Not this one.” Lance forces a smile. His heart thunders in his chest. He hopes that Keith will just turn away without any further questions. How could he possibly explain his sewing room full of styled wigs, half sewn tunics and a disheveled Shovel Knight costume in the corner? He could try to blame it on his sister. Say she was in drama and had to make theatre costumes. Except there were tonnes of photos of very obviously Lance in different cosplays, pinned to the walls as souvenirs from each convention.
Keith eyes him suspiciously, but doesn’t press forward. He shrugs and moves towards the bathroom. Lance exhales loudly when the door closes.
“Don’t want him to know about your fortress of solitude?” Lisa pokes her head out of her room. Lance starts.
“How long have you been there for?”
“Long enough to see you practically launch the poor boy into the sun. What’s the big deal?” She shrugs.
“I just… It’s weird ok. It’s an odd thing for a guy my age to do, and I just don’t want to explain it.” Lance sighs. “We’re just doing an assignment. Keith doesn’t need to know everything about me.”
“Well… I think it’s pretty cool.”
Lance deflates, but there’s a small smile on his lips.
They start to do some calculations for how long their materials need to be. What kind of strength they can expect from them, and how to maximize the weight the materials can hold. Lance grimaces over his calculations. He’s had to erase his latest answer several times. He knows something’s off, but he can’t bear to ask Keith for help. Keith notices the pained look on his face.
“You want a hand?
“No, no. I’ll get it. I know I can.” Lance gnaws on his pencil. “I know I’m stupid, but I’m working on it.”
Keith blinks at that. Lance’s words hurt something in his chest.
“You’re… you’re not stupid.” He states, softly.
“You seem to think I am.” Lance glares at the paper in front of him. He’s finally getting a chance to have this confrontation, but he knows he’ll chicken out the moment he sees Keith’s dark eyes and fine features. He knows he has a problem standing up for himself against pretty people. Keith takes a sharp intake of air.
“What?” He gasps.
“You laughed at me. When I got the question wrong on watts in a circuit.” Lance pouts. Keith wracks his brain. He knows he would never laugh at another student struggling, let alone Lance. He had seen how hard Lance had worked in this course and how he smiled extra wide and clutched his test paper to his chest every time he got a higher ranking in the class. When would Keith have ever laughed at…
Keith sighs. Oh god, clearly that had been terribly timed. He remembers Lance at the board, and an uncharacteristic bark of laughter coming from himself, but not for the reason Lance thinks.
“Lance,” And the way he says his name so softly and sweetly makes Lance look up. He meets Keith’s eyes and immediately regrets ever bringing this up. God he was weak. Especially when Keith’s navy eyes are wide and sad.
“I… I didn’t laugh at you messing up the question.” Keith glances to the floor. A faint blush creeps on his cheeks. “You… you uh… picked a seat that some art students were working on before.” He scratches his cheek nervously and continues to avoid Lance’s eyes.
“There… There was chalk on your butt. It kind of looked like a smiley face.” Keith mumbles. He wants Lance to know that he wasn’t laughing at his mistake, but he also doesn’t want Lance to know that he was staring at his ass.
“There… there was…” Lance blinks. “Are you serious?!” he throws his arms out wide. So much anxiety and tears over nothing. Chalk on his butt? That’s what made Keith snigger so loudly??!!
“I’m sorry!” Keith holds his hands up innocently. “It just made me laugh! Little chalk smiley, just having a nice time on your butt!”
“Oh my god!” Lance collapses forwards. He buries his head in his hands. He doesn’t know whether to start giggling like an idiot, or scream towards his ceiling. But something still doesn’t sit right with Keith.
“You thought… I thought you were stupid?” he whispers. Lance just shrugs, like he’s used to it.
“Well yeah. Why not?”
“Cuz you’re not!”
Lance purses his lips. A sad laugh rises from his chest.
“It’s ok. One of the downsides of hanging out with two geniuses all the time.” He shrugs. “I must look like a toddler compared to those two.”
“I’m sure people don’t compare you.” Keith states quietly. Lance raises a skeptical eyebrow.
“People always compare. C’mon who do you hang out with? I’m sure they’ve got a slight inferiority complex.” Lance laughs. Keith doesn’t. He drops his gaze back to the numbers on his page and chews the inside of his cheek. Lance waits expectantly.
“C’mon man. Who’s in your squad? Are they all as mysterious as you?” Lance chuckles. Keith purses his lips harder. His pencil digs into his page a little deeper. A thought bubbles in Lance’s mind. No. No way.
Saying his name makes Keith look up. His eyes lock with Lance’s, which are crinkled with concern.
“Who are your friends?” He asks quietly. Keith wrings his shirt in his hands and tears his gaze away. He scratches the side of his face anxiously. Lance swallows.
“Keith…” He breathes sadly. Keith’s stomach drops.
“I…. uh I… don’t really hang out with anyone. At school I mean.” He swallows. “I have friends!” He declares, almost defensively. “B…but they’re older than me, so I don’t get to see them as much.”
Lance’s look of pity hurts. Keith knows it’s pathetic. That he doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch times, or to work on group projects with. He’s seen the way people flock around Lance, and his stalking gaze burns with jealousy and admiration.
“You… you could hang out with us.” Lance shakily offers.
“I’m sure Hunk and Pidge would like someone to talk to physics about…that actually might understand what they’re saying.” He smiles kindly. Keith’s eyes widen.
“But…” Keith isn’t the most socially savvy, but he’s seen the glares Lance sends him. He’s noticed the way Lance exuberantly greets everyone each morning in class, when all Keith gets is a quiet “Hey.”
“You…you don’t like me.”
“Yeah,” Lance scoffs. “Because you don’t like me. But I can put that aside if you’re …”
“What?” Keith balks. “I…I like you fine.”
Now it was Lance’s turn to be speechless. His cheeks heat up at the minute confession. He’d always assumed Keith had found him irritating and obnoxious.
“You… you do?”
“Oh… well then.” Lance claps his hands together. “Then I like you fine too.” He beams. “I’m willing to promote you to friend.”
Keith feels like he’s going to pass out. Lance’s smile is blinding, and his words ignite fireworks under his skin. Friends. Friends with Lance.
“I um…” He clears his throat. “Ok.”
Lance sighs and mentally congratulates himself.
“So there you go. Now you have a friend at school.”
They continue working, but Keith has a hard time reading his equations from how much his hands shake with happiness.
“Hey man, how’d your play date go?” Hunk’s tinny voice sounds through Lance’s phone. Lance sighs, but continues working.
“Fine, fine. By the way, Keith might be hanging out with us from now on. So hope you don’t hate him or anything.” Lance feeds the fabric through his sewing machine. The thrumming of the needle is almost hypnotic to him now.
“I…I don’t. But… don’t you?” Hunk asks cautiously. He’s glad that Lance seems to be getting over his grudge, but he doesn’t want him to push himself.
“Eh,” Lance answers. “I think he’s ok. There was a bit of a misunderstanding, but get this! He doesn’t have any friends at school!”
“What? No, dude, he’s gotta…”
“No! I asked! He said he has no friends! Like not even people that hang around him just to stare at his pretty face all day. Not even fake friends who just want in his pants!” Lance shakes his head. He pulls the fabric from underneath the foot of his machine and cuts the thread.
“…Are you in that category, Lance?” Hunk sniggers.
“Hey man, I am many things, but blind is not one of them.” Lance changes his bobbin and begins to sew a new piece of fabric. “I’m just saying, if the opportunity arose, no strings attached, Keith offered me his ass? Yes…. Yes I would gladly take a bite.”
“What? He’s hot! You’ve seen him! As long as he doesn’t open his mouth or look at me with contempt, I think we’d have a good time!”
“Jesus, dude.” Hunk sighs. “So you’ve just invited him to hang out so you can ogle him?”
“No, no.” Lance sighs. “I genuinely want him to have somebody. Who knows. Maybe he and Pidge will hit it off?” Lance hits a thick seam, and his machine has to work harder to get the needle through. It thrums loudly.
“Alright, well I’m glad you offered….” Hunk hesitates. “Bro, are you sewing right now?”
“Oh my god! Do your homework!”
“I only have a fortnight to finish this!” Lance shrieks and he begins to sew more feverishly.
“My priorities are fine, thank you.” Lance drawls. He’s pulls his fabric out and fiddles with the seam. It puckers more than he would like. He frowns at it.
“Are you doing all this to woo the fair Red?” Hunk sings. Lance barks with laughter.
“Impress Red. I’m trying to impress her. Sadly she told me that she was gay, so there will be no wooing.” Lance moves to his ironing board.
“Aw, no chance at all.”
“None at all. My fantasies are dashed. She only likes girls.” Lance presses a seam. Steam rises from where the iron contacts the dampened fabric.
“Huh…” Hunk ponders. “Does she now?”
“Pidge, we are late! Now pull on your damn tights!” Lance pushes a pair of black and white stockings into Pidge’s chest. Despite her face being covered in makeup already, and her fake ears glued down, she’s still reluctant to finish getting ready.
“Whyyyyy….whyyyyyy? Can’t you go by yourself?” She collapses on the edge of Lance’s bed. Lance moves around feverishly as the adrenaline of a convention morning has fully kicked in. He’s lining his eyes skillfully, changing their shape so that they look bigger and more youthful. His bright blue contacts almost completely change his face. With a satisfied nod, he finishes the touches to his eyes and begins to pull on his blonde wig. He coughs around the fibres that always seem to find their way into his mouth.
“No! I need you! Link has a companion in every game. I can’t be alone.” He scoffs.
“But why Midna? Why am I always your fairy or gremlin sidekick?”
“Because you refused Zelda! You had the opportunity to be my partner! My equal!” Lance adjusts the wig around his prosthetic ears. “I honestly don’t get it.”
Pidge groans. That’s right. She remembers why they had settled on Midna from Twilight Princess. She was one of the few companions that didn’t annoy the shit out of Pidge when she had played The Legend of Zelda games, and even though she was small, she wasn’t the classic fairy archetype. So at least she would avoid all glitter and wings for the weekend. But most importantly, Midna was in no way romantically inclined towards Link. So Pidge wouldn’t be asked to take photos with Lance making googly eyes at him, or him carrying her princess style. The thought of even pretending to be in love with Lance had made her gag. No thank you.
“Alright, alright.” Pidge pulls on her stockings and begins to arrange her huge headdress. Lance pins the trademark green cap to his wig. He walks up to Pidge, gently clinking as the chain mail under his tunic shifts, and claps his hands together.
“Alright! Let’s wreck this con!”
They walk towards the convention center and are immediately grabbed by a barrage of photographers. It’s flattering, and Lance welcomes the compliments and camera flashes with a smile and wave, while Pidge stands and glowers. It’s too hot and she’s so close to getting inside actual air conditioning. Couldn’t they take photos in the foyer?
They pose together, pulling off the silly stances they thought up on the drive over. At one point Lance ends up piggy-backing Pidge, while she points forwards as if to say “Onward my steed!”. They gradually edge their way over to the glass doors. The cool breeze from inside beckons them, and Pidge is about to bolt inside when a young boy with a camera around his neck bigger than his head catches them.
“H…Hi! Wow you guys look really great.” He starts. Lance beams and arches an eyebrow cockily.
“Thanks, we’re pretty happy with how they turned out.”
“I was just wondering…” The boy continues. He dances around his question and Pidge’s glare is vicious. C’moooooon just snap the photo and let’s go!
“There’s a really awesome Twilight Princess Zelda here, and I was hoping I could get a photo with all three of you?” He asks meekly.
“Oh yeah, sure man. Absolutely.” Lance, ever the people pleaser, obliges. “Where is she?”
“She’s just inside here.”
“Oh thank god. Yes, we’ll do it.” Pidge barges past and through the glass doors. The soothing cool air takes the edge off her mood immediately. She breathes a sigh of relief. Thank god she set her body paint properly, otherwise it would have melted off an hour ago. Lance follows behind with a chuckle.
“Much. Apparently I am part amphibian and breathe through my skin. This body paint is killing me.” Pidge sighs.
Lance scans the foyer for the Zelda cosplayer. It’s crowded and there’s even more cosplayers and photographers inside, taking moody portraits pressed up against the windows and looking out onto the grounds wistfully.
“She’s over there,” The photographer points at a small crowd by a window in the corner. Sure enough, there’s a remarkably beautiful Zelda against the window, encircled on the outside by a couple of photographers and onlookers. Lance puts on his most charming smile and hesitantly approaches the cosplayer. He doesn’t want to rudely crash her shoot. The group of people ooh and ah as he and Pidge get closer. One of them yells out “Princess, your hero is here!”.
The girl turns to finally see them. Lance shyly waves. Pidge’s eyes widen. Oh… of course.
The girl’s eyes narrow and she gives Lance a hard once over.
“Tay?” She nervously asks. Lance balks.
“Oh man, Red?” Red nods enthusiastically. Lance recognizes her now, the slant of her nose, her small chin. Her shy smile sends butterflies to his stomach.
“What are the odds?” She laughs and walks over to them. Her chiffon dress billows elegantly behind her.
“I know right! I had no idea…”
“Me neither.” Lance and Red both giggle. Pidge wants to vomit.
“Do you think we could get some photos with you?” Lance asks. The photographers nod enthusiastically behind him.
“…We?” And that’s when Red finally notices Pidge. She throws up a wave.
“Oh! Sorry, I didn’t….” She starts to apologise. Pidge shakes her head.
“It’s fine, it’s fine.”
“You look really amazing though. Very cute.”
Pidge’s eye twitches. Lance notices. He place’s a gentle hand on Red’s shoulder to push her out of Pidge’s line of fire.
“You look stunning. I almost didn’t recognize you.”
Keith’s gone. He wants to melt under the hand on his shoulder. He hopes he has enough makeup on that Tay can’t see him blush. How can this boy say something so embarrassing so sincerely? Stunning, Keith repeats in his head.
“Th….Thanks…” He stammers. “You look really…” Handsome. Sexy. Hot. Beautiful. Can I take nude photos of you where you leave the wig on?
“Accurate.” He settles on. Not exactly the most seductive of compliments, but it’s a decent one for a cosplayer.
“Alright, alright, how do you two want to do this?” Pidge gets in between the two of them before they can make more bedroom eyes at each other.
They’re stuck in that foyer for an hour. For Keith it passes in a blink and blur of smiles and laughter at Tay’s ridiculous expressions and the jokes he cracks with the Midna cosplayer next to him. Keith never did catch her name. Tay lets Keith hold his sword in several photos, and lets him pose like the hero while he comically swoons in the background. Midna very kindly offers to pick up his skirt and toss it in several photos so it looks like the wind is gently blowing it. His feet ache and he’s starting to sweat under the layers of makeup he has on, but he finds it hard to complain when Tay is next to him, cheerily answering any questions directed at the both of them and greeting any fans that may recognize them. It puts Keith at ease. He feels like he doesn’t have to force himself to interact.
There’s a lull finally in the people coming up and asking for photos. Keith sighs.
“I better let you guys get back to your plans. I don’t want to hijack your morning.”
He begins to step back. Tay looks at him with a puzzled expression.
“I’ll see you around, yeah?” Keith turns. A hand quickly grabs his wrist.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, no way. Do you know how badly I’ve wanted to cosplay Link with a Zelda?” Tay chuckles.
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’re not getting rid of me today. Now what did you have planned, beautiful? I’ll go wherever you lead.”
Keith almost swallows his tongue. He’d usually bristle and growl at being called pet names, but the way Tay smiles when he says it, the earnestness behind it, knocks the wind out of him. He’s a man who has a designated closet for his heels, but he’s never felt more like a flustered teenage girl than in this moment.
“Oh…. Okay.” His voice cracks.
They stay together throughout the dealer’s hall and Lance notes that Red spends an unusually large amount of time in the artist alley. She enthusiastically coos over custom phone charms and gets excited by a set of mech bookmarks. She doesn’t buy much, saying that cosplay zaps away most of her money. Lance nods at that. She does purchase a plush Link though, saying she’ll keep it as a souvenir. Lance lights up at that. He offers to sew little clothes for it so she can dress it up in his different cosplays. Red laughs.
It’s early afternoon when Pidge hits her breaking point.
“Hey man, you doing okay?” Lance hands her a water bottle. She gulps it down gratefully.
“Sorry. I just think I need to get this paint off.”
“Aw man, you wanna go to the bathroom and take it off?” Lance kneels down in front of where Pidge sits on the ground. He carefully takes off her huge headdress, which is probably trapping in a bunch of heat.
“I’ve got some wet wipes if you want them.” Red offers. Pidge waves off her offer.
“I think I might just head home. My feet are killing me.”
“Oh.” Lance sighs a bit. “Ok, I guess we can…”
“I’ll get Hunk to pick me up, idiot.” Pidge smirks. “Wouldn’t want to ruin your day.” She knowingly glances at Red. Red looks down at her blankly. Lance punches Pidge in the arm, knowing what she’s hinting at. She chuckles. Lance helps her to her feet. She gathers her bags and begins to make her way to the convention entrance.
“Have fun you two!” She calls and disappears through the doors.
“I feel bad. Should we have gone with her?” Red asks.
“No, no it’s ok. She’ll be fine.” Lance stands and brushes off his knees.
“Where next, Princess?” He sighs. Red blushes up to her ears. Lance silently claps himself on the back for that.
“Th…there’s a panel on uh…I was interested…”
“Sounds great.” He laughs. “Lead the way.”
They don’t make it to their panel. They end up outside in the courtyard taking photos again, because Tay is too nice to say no, and Keith is drawn in by him so easily. The sun is lower in the sky, meaning that the lighting is ideal for photos. They start off with basic poses, and start to get silly, but the atmosphere shifts when some girls come up.
“Hey could we get some photos too?” They beam.
“Yeah, of course.” Tay starts to pull out his sword and raise his shield when he notices one of the girls open and close her mouth silently.
“This uh…. This not okay?” He asks. The girl doesn’t meet his eyes.
“Sorry, sorry. I just really like Link and Zelda. I was kinda hoping I might be able to get a photo of you two like… more together?”
Keith’s eyes widen.
“It’s ok if you’re not comfortable with that! I’d take you guys just standing…” The girl begins to apologise.
“No, no, I’m sure we can do something for you.” Tay sheaths his sword. Keith’s eyes widen further.
“Oh we will?” He smirks.
“C’mon, just a little bit?” Tay shrugs. Keith looks over at the girl who smiles with polite hope. He sighs.
He steps in close and wraps his arms around Tay’s neck. He has to do it while he still has the nerve, before his brain can interject. Tay stiffens under his touch, then he smirks and relaxes into it. He places their foreheads together.
“Like this?” He smiles at the girls on the side. They look like they’re about to combust.
Tay wraps his arms around Keith’s waist. He swallows audibly.
“You ok?” Tay asks with concern.
“Fine, fine.” Keith sighs. Because wow is he not. He can smell the sweat on Tay’s skin and feel the heat from his breath.
“Hey you’re pretty tall.” Tay comments.
“Am I? I thought I was pretty short.”
“No way. I usually have to bend over much more.” Tay glances over at the girls.
“Ok, one more!” He announces. “Just for you girls.”
He lightly cups Keith’s jaw and gives him the most erotic, half lidded eyes he’s ever seen. Tay begins to lean in.
Holy shit, holy shit. He’s going to kiss me.
Keith closes his eyes and eagerly waits. But nothing happens. Just a bunch of squealing and a shutter click before his jaw is released. His eyes flutter open. Tay looks down at him with awe.
“Wow! You’re really good at posing.”
Yes…. Yes… posing. Keith calms himself. He wasn’t just 100% ready to make out with this boy for a photo. Nope. Definitely not.
“Sorry, could I get a couple of photos like that?” A shy photographer with a huge backpack and oversized glasses shuffles over. Tay looks over at Keith and rubs the back of his neck.
“Uh, it’s up to you. I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable.”
“I’M FINE WITH IT.” Keith answers too eagerly and in a weird staccato voice that isn’t quite his. Tay beams.
They pose for the next 45 minutes. Tay cupping Keith’s face in both of his hands and looking lovingly into his eyes. Hands on the small of his back. Keith’s head resting against his warm chest. The minutes pass by in a flurry of touches and caresses, and each one sears Keith’s skin. They laugh off every time someone asks if their dating, but he wishes Tay hesitated at least a little bit before answering. Just a blush or a sigh would give Keith the tiniest bit of hope that maybe Tay had thought about it. But none come. The photos stop, and so do the embraces when it becomes too dark out. Tay’s bright blue eyes glow in the last remaining bits of sunlight.
“I’ve probably gotta head off. My parents are expecting me for dinner.” He speaks quietly. It feels intimate.
“I uh…” Come on, Keith. You’ve picked fights with kids twice your size, but you’re too much of a coward for this?
“I had a fun today. I don’t usually get the chance to cosplay with people anymore.” He nervously rubs his arm. “I kind of lost my partner when he got a cosplaying girlfriend.” He rolls his eyes and laughs.
“Aw man, that sucks. Who was your partner?”
“Shiro!” Tay claps his hands to his head. “The Shiro???”
“You know him?” Keith smirks. He absolutely knew Shiro had a reputation. He was practically built like every video game protagonist and superhero released in the past decade. He’d swept up more championships than any other cosplayer, and that number had only increased since he teamed up with Allura.
“Aw man! That guy’s my hero! He complimented my Suzaku cosplay and I thought I honestly died!” Tay throws his arms out wide. Keith laughs. He’s seen Tay be incredibly charming, but his dorky side is unquestionably adorable.
“Yeah, well he taught me everything I know.”
“Jesus, that’s why you’re so good. I bet if I had Shiro helping…” But Tay stops himself. He doesn’t want to bring up their rivalry now.
“Anyway, it sucks you lost your partner.”
“Yeah, yeah. We still do a few things, but he’s got university and…” Keith fades out. Tay nods.
“Yeah, I get it.” He pauses. His eyebrows crease and he worries his lips.
“Listen, if you ever wanted to do anything with me…. Uh… I’d definitely be down for that.”
Down for that? Keith smirks. Who actually says that? But the offer sends warmth through his chest. He definitely had a lot of fun with Tay today, and the idea of spending another entire day listening to his laugh isn’t exactly repulsive.
“I’ll think about it.” He answers coolly. Tay beams.
Keith eagerly ditches his wig when he gets back to his house. His feet ache when he kicks off his shoes, and he sighs at the cool air on his skin when he wriggles out of his dress. He’s just unclasped his bra when Shiro walks in.
“Hey man,” He sighs. “I’m so sorry for bailing on you today.”
“Don’t you knock anymore?” Keith drawls. He reaches behind his back in search of the laces to his corset. Shiro watches him struggle, before moving behind him to help out. He undoes the laces and loosens them. Keith undoes the zip in the front with a gasp.
“Jesus,” He sighs and rubs his ribs. “Thanks, Shiro. And I get it. How did your emergency meeting go?”
“Ah fine. Like it was stressful, but I think Matt and I have this assignment figured out now. We’ll probably pull an all nighter tomorrow.”
“Oof, that sucks.” Keith sits on the bed in just his briefs and runs his hands through his messy hair. It’s been crumpled underneath a wig cap all day and it’s still curling in odd places.
“I still feel bad though. I hate leaving you to go to cons alone.” Shiro crosses his arms over his chest. He doesn’t miss the slight blush that appears on Keith’s cheeks.
“It…It’s ok. I actually met a Link cosplayer there, and we hung out for most of the day.” He scratches the base of his neck. Shiro smirks.
“Oh? Was he good? Was he cute?” He leans forward.
“Stop it,” Keith laughs and kicks Shiro lightly in the shin.
“I got photos though! Wanna see?” Keith rolls across the bed before Shiro has the chance to reply. He smirks at seeing his childhood friend so happy.
He takes the phone that is thrust into his chest. There’s a selfie of Keith looking amazingly convincing as Princess Zelda. Long lashes, fair skin, and long brown hair combed to perfection. But next to him is a Link with an expertly styled wig, an embroidered tunic, and smooth, tan skin. Shiro barks out a laugh. He’d recognize that face even under a bunch of eyeliner and a blonde wig.
“Tay!? Tay was your Link?” He practically cackles. Keith vibrates with excitement. Shiro may have caught him stalking Tay’s blog a few too many times, so he knows that Shiro will understand why this was a very good day for him.
Shiro flicks through the photos on the phone. He has to fight back the “aws” and giggles that are threatening to burst through his mouth at any moment. Keith never smiles like this when he’s with other people.
“You have to ask him out.” He smirks.
“No, no! Are you crazy?!” Keith hisses. “I barely know him! He probably doesn’t even like me.”
“His arm is glued to your waist in all these photos. I’d say that’s a good sign.”
Keith snatches his phone back before Shiro can get to some of the more… intimate photos that were taken of them. Keith may have hunted them down on some of the photographer’s official facebook pages.
“Besides, who wouldn’t love such a cute and pretty face.” Shiro steps forward and squishes Keith’s cheeks between both of his hands. He uses his baby talk voice. Keith snatches his face back with a groan.
“Well if you wanna know him better, you should just spend more time with him.” Shiro sighs.
“He uh…” Keith stares at the ground and idly kicks his feet. “He offered to cosplay again with me… sometime.”
Shiro’s mouth drops open into a wide smile.
“Yeah he did, you dog, you!” He lunges forward and pulls Keith into a headlock. He starts to noogie the top of his scalp. Keith screams and flails uselessly.