“I cannot believe neither of you asked me to be your partner. I thought we were friends.” Lance whines, dramatically leaning back and draping his body across Pidge, tilting them in the process until they’re pushed up against Hunk’s arm. Lance rests his head on Hunk’s shoulder.
“Lance, you hate dancing duos.” Pidge says flatly. “Would you even have said yes if we had asked?”
Lance scrunches up his face, nose wrinkling as his lip curls. “That’s beside the point, Pidge.”
“My point is perfectly valid and shouldn’t be ignored.” They’re all sitting sat cross legged in the middle of Pidge and Hunk’s practice room, gathered in front of Pidge’s laptop. A youtube playlist is pulled up on the screen, and they’re idly scrolling through it.
“Your point sucks. Huuuunk,” He tilts his head back to look up at him, eyes wide and lips in a pout. “You would’ve danced with me, right, buddy?”
Hunk glances at him sideways, then looks back down to the computer screen. “Yeaaah, no. Sorry, Lance, we love you and all, but you’re a huge pain in the ass to work with.”
Lance sits up straight, turning to face them. He throws his arms up in the air. “I am not!”
“You are,” Pidge agrees. “You are literally the worst to choreograph dances with. We’ve tried before, Lance. Never again.”
Hunk nods. “Amen.”
Lance crosses his arms over his chest, shoulders slumping. He looks away with a huff. “Some friends you are.”
“You’re just going to audition for a solo spot anyway, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but—“
“So I don’t see the problem. Moving on, please.” They roll their eyes, somehow managing to get their whole body in on the motion.
“The point is I’m offended!”
“That’s great, buddy, but can you like… be quietly offended? We’ve only got this room for an hour and we need to decide on music for our audition.”
Lance sighs, slouching once again against Pidge. He rests his cheek atop their head, arms still crossed stubbornly over his chest. “Fiiiine.”
“What about this one?” Pidge asks.
Hunk scrunches up his face in thought. “Didn’t the third place winners do that one last year?”
Pidge hums. “Yeah, I think you’re right.”
“Oh! Oh! What about—“
Pidge slaps Hunk’s hand away. “Don’t touch the screen.”
Hunk’s shoulders hunch as he rubs his hand. “Hey, I need that hand if you wanna dance with me!”
Pidge rolls their eyes again, clicking another song on the list. “Shiro doesn’t.”
“Okay, touché… Still, I’d rather keep both my hands.”
“Then don’t touch my screen. "
"Now dancing without a leg, that would be difficult." Lance says.
Pidge ignores him. "What about this one?”
“Didn’t you guys do that one two years ago?” Lance asks.
They exchange a look.
“I don’t really remember?”
Lance snorts. “You did. You didn’t win anything, but you definitely did. Hunk spun so fast he nearly hurled on stage.”
“Alright, so not that one.”
“What about a mix of these two? They kinda have a nice vibe and we could like, use both of our styles, I think.”
“Uuuuugh, not this song.” Lance whines, reaching forward to click on the next button. Pidge promptly slaps his hand, and he yanks it back against his chest. Sitting up straight, he cradles it against his chest, glaring down at Pidge. “Jesus, are you sure those are hands? Aren’t hands supposed to be, I don’t know, soft or something?”
Pidge looks up at him, giving him that exasperated look he knows so well. “Lance, not everyone uses as much moisturizer and lotion as you do.”
“Yeah, but your hands are like, hard and sharp.”
“I know, right?” Hunk meets his eyes over Pidge’s head, holding up his own hand and making a jabbing motion. “And how are they that fast?”
Lance leans away from Pidge, eyes narrowing. “Are you some kind of robot?”
“If it’ll keep you from touching my stuff, believe what you want.” They gesture back to their computer. “So why not this song?”
“Uh, maybe because I got dumped on Valentines Day?”
“And what does that have to do with this song?”
“It was playing on the radio in the coffee shop!”
Pidge breathes deeply, crossing one arm over their chest and using the other hand to pinch the bridge of their nose. “You seriously don’t want us to use this song, which is, might I add, a good song—“
“That works very good with our styles.”
“—Thank you, Hunk. Because a girl dumped you while it was playing?”
“Yes! It was Valentine’s Day, Pidge! Who does that?!”
“How long had you been dating?”
“Well, that was, um, our first date, but still— PIdge, stop laughing! This isn’t funny!”
Pidge uses their hand to stifle their laugh, but they can’t quite hide their smile. “Lance, if we vetoed every song that was playing when you had a bad date experience, we’d be limited to old jazz and nursery rhymes.”
“Wow, okay, first of all: rude?” He holds up one finger, then adds a second. “Second of all, there was this one time—“
“Oh my god.” Pidge rolls their eyes so dramatically that they tilt over and fall against Hunk. They slap their hands over their face before leaning their head back, gazing up at Hunk through their fingers. “Hunk, our child is pathetic. Where did we go wrong?”
“Hey!” Lance snaps. “Must I repeat: rude?”
Hunk pats Pidge’s head, shaking his own. “There, there, Pidge. We did our best. It’s not our fault he’s a little pathetic.”
“Okay, maybe a lot.”
Hunk grins at him over Pidge’s head for a second before it falls. “Seriously, though, dude. You don’t really have veto power over our setlist.”
“Um, like hell, I don’t! I’m gonna have to suffer through whatever songs you pick for months. I deserve to have a veto vote.”
Pidge lets their hands slip further down their face. Their eyes are crinkled at the edges by a smirk. “So does that mean we get to veto your setlist?”
Lance feels his face drop, and he looks away, shoulders slumping. “Point taken.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Don’t you have your own practice to do, anyway?” Hunk asks, one eyebrow raised.
Lance sits up straight, eyes widening. “Shit, you’re right.” His arms drop to his sides as he pats his pockets for his phone. “What time is it?”
Pidge glances at their computer screen. “A couple minutes past one.”
“Well, then!” Lance pushes himself to his feet, stretching his arms over his head and leaning back slightly. “I have a date with a practice room.” He takes one step back, placing his right foot behind his left, and bows deeply, gesturing to the side with his arms. “Later, nerds.” He says, giving them a mock salute and wink as he straightens and grabs his bag, spinning on his heel and striding off toward the door.
“You may not have given us veto powers, but if you choose Brittany Spears again, I’m terminating our friendship!” Pidge calls out behind him.
Lance flips them off over his shoulder as he leaves the room.
His own practice room is on the floor above. Good old room 4C. The first time he had gotten the room, it had been out of spite.
When they had first started getting into competitions, they had started signing up for separate practices rooms. Pidge and Hunk in one, Lance in another. Of course they had signed up for rooms next to each other. Why wouldn’t they? They were bffs! Bros for life! But then Pidge had started making fun of Lance’s music selection, so of course he started playing his music just a little extra loud, so Pidge could really appreciate it in the next room. And, well… the feud had gotten a little out of hand.
Once Pidge and Hunk even tried to mess with the speakers in Lance’s room, so in retaliation, Lance had sung Justin Bieber’s Baby at the top of his lungs until they conceded and fixed the speakers. It had taken ten minutes.
After that, Pidge and Hunk started choosing a room, specifically room 3C, that was always booked on both sides. Lance, rightfully seeing this as a challenge, chose good old room 4C, so he could not only blast his music, but also stop on the floor above them.
This only lasted a couple of weeks before they all grew tired of it, but by then Lance was already attached to that room. It’s his room. Well, yeah, other people use it, too. But Lance always signs up for that room. He’s a creature of habit, alright? He likes to have a familiar space to practice in. Even if the auxiliary cable in that room is a little buggy, and sometimes the speakers crackle when they get too loud, and there’s a couple warped floorboards that he sometimes trips on, and one of the mirrors is smudged to hell. The room has character.
As he climbs the stairs, he pulls out his phone, idly flipping through his playlists. He hasn’t really decided on a setlist for this year, let alone an audition song. He usually doesn’t ahead of time. He kinda just lets his music go through on shuffle until something really speaks to him. Until it feels right.
The fourth floor is pretty much deserted when he gets there. It’s the middle of the day, and none of the actual dance lessons start until late afternoon, when most schools are out. The only people who are around at this time of day are people like him (those who don’t go to school and don’t have a set nine to five job) and people like Pidge and Hunk (college students with oddly timed classes). It’s a great time to practice, to be honest. No kids running around, the whole fourth floor to himself, peace and—
Why does he hear music?
And not the muffled dull beats that can usually be heard from downstairs or upstairs. This is like… loud, clear music. Music coming from this floor. Lance looks up, scanning the line of doors. They’re all closed except for one. One that’s cracked. One that has music and light spilling from it. Who the hell even practices on the forth floor? There isn’t enough people around at this time of day to warrant anyone besides him coming all the way up here. The second and third floor have plenty of practice rooms to choose from.
And is that… is that room 4C?
Oh. Hell. NO.
Shoving his phone into his pocket, Lance stomps over to the room. Ugh, what is even playing? Some kinda pop, yeah, whatever, most of them danced to pop. But this is like… not even top 40’s. Lance isn’t sure he’s even heard this song before. And he isn’t about to sit around to listen to it. He has business to attend to. And by business, he means barging in on the asshole who’s stolen his room.
He puts a hand on the door, intent on shoving it open, but right as he does, the music changes. He may not know the song, but he knows enough to realize that the sudden and abrupt stop isn’t part of it. He hesitates at the sudden stop, and a new song starts up. This one he recognizes: Bastille’s Pompeii.
Huh, so maybe the asshole’s music isn’t all bad.
He considers his curiosity piqued.
As the opening vocals start, Lance slowly pushes the door open just a little wider, peeking through the crack.
Alright, so it’s a dude. A dude wearing tight black pants, a well fitting black shirt, and a long sleeved red flannel tied around his waist. He’s just finished putting his dark hair up in a small ponytail, exposing a pale, slender neck. And he’s wearing black, fingerless gloves. A little different, but hey, it doesn’t look bad. Lance can dig it.
Okay, so the asshole is hot as fuck. At least from behind. Maaaaaybe Lance can forgive him for taking his room. Maybe. Hell, maybe they can share the room?
The guy bounces on the balls of his feet for several beats, and then as soon as the lyrics start, he’s in motion. Quick to jerk his body into position, one foot steps to the side, knee bent, corresponding arm lifting and angling. Then there’s a slow move, arm rising and crossing his body, feet twisting as his weight turns to the other foot. Hand to his chest, other arm extended as his feet come together.
The way he moves is… beautiful. Perfectly timed to the song, he alternates between quick jerks and slow, graceful movements, moving his arms and legs with such extreme precision before letting them flow smoothly with the song’s lyrics.
The way he can quickly shift his body, throwing it into a new position and stopping with pinpoint precision as if hitting a mold for that exact pose, reminds him a lot of Pidge’s preferred style. But the way his limbs roll gracefully after, shifting and expressing, is similar to Allura. It was an amazing combination.
Even as the beat picks up and everything moves quickly, there’re still those moments where he suddenly stops and flows before his limbs are once again quick and jagged. There’s even a jump in there and is it even possible to jump in slow motion like that? Or maybe that’s just Lance’s perception…
He’s kind of in a daze, completely transfixed by this guy’s dancing. It’s so coordinated, so calculated, and yet there’s a beauty in the way he knows and trusts his body to move just as he wants it to.
Then the guy turns, and Lance catches sight of his face, and he nearly chokes— fuck, it’s Keith?! As in Keith Kogane?!
He may have made a strangled sound, but if he did, it was drowned out by the music.
Alright, back to his original statement: Oh. Hell. NO.
Keith doesn’t seem to have noticed Lance. Good, he wants the element of surprise.
Just as the song reaches the chorus, Lance pulls the door shut slightly, before stepping back and kicking it open. Aw yes, dramatic flair, Lance McClain style.
He steps into the room, reveling in the way Keith’s movements stutter, nearly falling over as he loses his balance for a second. Then he recovers and whips around to stare at Lance, eyes wide and mouth agape. Yeah, it feels good to have the upper hand.
“You!” Lance snaps, throwing up an arm to point at him. “You’re in my practice room!”
Keith stares at him for a moment longer before his mouth snaps shut and he straightens, brow furrowing.
Lance blames the ponytail. The stupid, stupid ponytail that had hidden the guy’s signature mullet. If he had seen that he would have known right away and wouldn’t have wasted time oogling him. He isn’t worth his oogles.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Lance puts both hands on his hips, cocking them to the side as he leans forward slightly. He raises an eyebrow. “Uhh, I’m talking about you being in my practice room? Hello? Is all that mullet getting in the way of your hearing?”
Keith’s chin tilts down a fraction, and his arms cross over his chest. He looks Lance up and down, and his back straightens under Keith’s scrutinizing gaze. His eyes hover on his t-shirt for a fraction of a second before moving on to stare at the colorful bracelets on his wrists. He feels warmth start to crawl up his neck, and he squashes down the strange mix of embarrassment and offense.
His ‘Getting Bi’ shirt is one of his favorites, okay? A little cheesy, yeah, but he loves it. Pidge had gotten it for him as a joke. He had gotten Pidge one that says ’Non-Binary Day’ with the N and B larger and more accented. And the bracelets had been made my his siblings and niblings, and he will literally fight Keith if he says anything about them.
He does his best not to fidget. Finally, Keith’s eyes return to his face. “Who are you?”
Lance’s jaw drops. Is he… is he serious? “Who am I? Uhh, the name’s Lance?” Keith blinks, staring at him blankly. Lance tries again. “We were in a dance class together last year? I’m like… always hanging around this place? I practically live here, come on!”
He blinks again, and something seems to click. “Oh, wait, I remember you. You auditioned for one of the regional spots last year.”
Lance is, honestly, a little relieved. He gestures at Keith with one hand, the other one firmly placed on his cocked hip. “Yes! We were like rivals! You know, Lance and Keith, neck and neck.”
“I didn’t think you got one of the spots?” There’s some annoyance in his voice, which has been steadily growing since recovering from his surprise. Under normal circumstances, Lance would say he can’t really blame him. But because this is Keith, Lance can and will totally blame him. He deserved to be interrupted! He’s in Lance’s room! Lance signed up for it and everything! Not to mention he is severely disrespecting him right now.
Lance frowns, trying his best to keep it from turning into a pout as he glares at Keith. “Yeah, well I got in, thanks to you dropping out.”
That seems to almost surprise him. He raises one curious eyebrow. “Did you win?”
“Yes! I did… sort of.” Lance fidgets, crossing his arms over his chest and raising his chin. He refuses to be the first to look away from this glare fest. “I got third place.” Okay, so not the most impressive, and he didn’t get to go to nationals, but still, he won something and that has to count, right?
“Well, congratulations.” Keith says dryly, and it grates on Lance’s nerves.
He clenches his teeth, hands curling into tight fists. “Thanks.” He says, voice dripping in bitter sarcasm. He steps to the side, further into the room, and half bows, gesturing widely to the door. “Now if you don’t mind, this is my practice room, and I gotta start getting ready for auditions.”
There goes Keith’s eyebrow again, raising up to disappear beneath his bangs. “This isn’t your practice room.”
“Yes, it is!” Lance nearly shouts in his agitation. Straightening, he stomps over to where Keith is standing. He stops right in front of him and jabs at his chest with one finger. “Listen, buddy. This is my practice room. I always sign up for this room. Hell, they should put a big sign on the door that says ‘Lance’s room, no mullets allowed’.”
Keith’s brows furrow and he slaps Lance’s hand away. “Look, I don’t know what your problem is—“
Lance throws his arms up in the air. “My problem is you!”
“—but I signed up for this room. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to practice alone.”
“I do mind, because as I’ve said several times now, this is my room.”
Keith groans, putting a hand to his face and shaking his head before it slides off to hang at his side. He tilts his head slightly, still glaring at Lance from under furrowed brows. “Look, my name is even on the schedule outside the door. If you would just—“
“I don’t need to look!” Lance snaps, gesturing behind him to the door. “The list is probably wrong. There’s been some kind of mix up. Now sorry to inconvenience you, but get out.”
Keith doesn’t move. “Why can’t you just go to one of the other rooms? There’s literally ten rooms on this floor and no one is ever here at this time.”
Lance sputters, putting a hand to his chest. “Why can’t I— alright, buddy, let me explain to you a thing.” He spins on his heel and throws his arms up, gesturing to the whole room. “This here room and I, we’ve got history. She and I go waaaay back.”
“Shush!” Lance snaps, sending a glare over his shoulder. Is it just him… or does Keith look a little amused? No, he must be seeing things. Keith’s sour expression just has layers upon layers. “Anyway, where was I?”
“Ah yes, we have history. A history rooted in friendship and determination. Our first meeting was by chance, but the bond we formed was special, and now she is my home and I am hers.”
“Are you always like this?”
Lance ignores him, and instead starts off in a wide circle, hands on his hips as his gaze sweeps around the room. “Sure, she’s not the prettiest thing to look at, and sometimes it gets too hot up here, but she’s got character. Take, for instance, these floor boards.” He comes to a stop where he knows the squeaky floorboards are, but when he steps on them, there’s no sound. He frowns slightly. “They must not be feeling squeaky today.” He mumbles, before turning and dramatically pointing. “Or those warped—“ He stops when he realizes that the spot he pointed at was entirely flat. “Or the smudges on the—“ He snaps his head up, but the mirror panel, the one that’s been scratched and smudged and cracked since he started coming here, is in fact whole and clean and pristine.
His frown deepens as he stands up straight, both hands hanging at his sides. “Huh,” He says, mostly to himself. His eyes wander the room. Now that he’s looking at it… Wasn’t there a different poster on the walls in his room? And he always made sure the chairs were stacked in a different corner…
Pompeii ends and another song starts up in it’s place, all the while Lance is silent, and Keith is staring at him.
Scratching the back of his neck with one hand, Lance avoids making eye contact. “I don’t suppose you had any trouble with the auxiliary cable?”
He glances sideways in time to see Keith shake his head once. “Nope.”
“Huh,” Lance repeats, cause that’s all he can really think to say as his stomach drops. He may… have made a mistake. Maybe. “What room is this?”
Yup, okay, so he’s definitely made a mistake. And totally made an ass out of himself in the process. But is he going to own up to it? Nope. No way in hell.
“Alriiiight.” He says slowly, lacing his hands behind his head. “Since you’ve already started your practice, and I’m such a good guy, I’m gonna let you keep this room. I’ll just… go find another one.” He kicks out his foot, letting his weight fall slowly before he’s walking quickly toward the door. He really hopes he turned away before Keith could see the flush creeping up his face.
Keith speaks up as he reaches the door, and this time there is definitely amusement in his smug ass voice. “You’re in the wrong room, aren’t you?”
“No!” Lance snaps, grabbing the doorknob on his way out. He doesn’t turn around as he pulls the door shut behind him a little harder than necessary.
He leans against the door next to Keith’s room, trying to steady his breath and suppress some of the adrenaline that spiked through his system. Glancing sideways, he sees that the door does, in fact, say 4D. Very clearly. In giant, chipped, gold paint. God fuck why didn’t he see that before he made an ass of himself? Well if Keith didn’t remember him before, he’s sure going to remember him now. But it isn’t at all how Lance wants to be remembered. Maybe as cool, handsome, charming, and a devilishly good dancer. Definitely not as an idiot who barged into his practice room thinking it was his own.
He hears the music pause before switching back to Pompeii, and in that silence, he swears he can hear soft laughter.
God, what an ass.
Pushing off the wall, Lance stomps to his own practice room. The actual room 4C. Which is, unfortunately, only one room over. It was an easy mistake, alright?
He slams the door shut with perhaps a little too much force. He casts a glare at the mirrored wall, through which he can hear Pompeii still playing. For just a moment, his mind is filled with the memory of Keith dancing, how smooth and precise his movements were, how hypnotizing… but then the moment is gone and Lance is throwing his bag on the floor before stomping across to the auxiliary cable.
He jams it into his phone before pulling up his playlist once again. He hits it on shuffle and, not surprisingly, nothing but a loud crackle comes out of the speakers. He sets his phone down on the table, turning it just so, and draping the cable gently in just the right way. And suddenly the smooth opening lyrics to Glad You Came comes in clear, followed by the opening beat. Nodding his head in time, body already bouncing along, he digs his bluetooth remote from his pocket. Honestly, the best twenty bucks he’s ever spent.
Turning up the volume to effectively drown out, and maybe overpower, the music next door, Lance shuffle steps his way out to the middle of the floor, turning on his heel and giving himself a spin, arms up. He stops, facing the mirror, and flashes himself a bright smile. Then the lyrics pick up and he’s moving.
His eyes drift closed and he moves, arms and legs, his whole body. Each step, each gesture, each roll of his hips is in time with the music. Nothing is precise and calculated like Pidge’s dancing. It’s not all jarring big movements like Hunk’s, or smooth and elaborate like Shiro and Allura’s. Hell, it’s not even as energetic as Coran’s. But it’s real. Lance has always let the music just flow through him, and his body moves on it’s own. Sure, he learns moves and styles, but when it comes right down to it, he just does what feels right.
He bounces on the ball of one foot, his other foot shifting him around in a circle with small, quick steps. His arms are held out wide and angled as he spins. Then he points the remote at his phone and switches to the next song. It only lasted less than a minute.
He throws back his head and laughs as Push It starts playing. His dance style changes immediately to match. That classic lasts only thirty seconds before he’s already switching to the next.
In the pause between songs, he can hear that Pompeii has ended in the other room and a new song is playing. One he doesn’t recognize. But it’s soon drowned out by Ke$ha. He can’t help himself. He sings along to TiK ToK as his feet shuffle across the floor and he gestures to himself in the mirror.
That song lasts much longer. Nearly a whole minute before he’s switching to the next one. Club Can’t Handle Me. His movements get more smooth, more flowing, but he still retains a jump in his step.
And this is how it goes. This is Lance’s beloved process. It drives Pidge up a wall, and they refuse to be in the same room as Lance when he does it. Hell, he’s mildly surprised they’re not texting him to stop it right now. They can no doubt hear him in the room below. When looking for the perfect song to choose to dance to, everyone has to do a little shuffling. But while Pidge does it at their computer, actually looking through their songs, Lance does it like this. He sets his whole library to shuffle and actually feels out each song, hitting the next button on his bluetooth remote.
Some songs last nearly a minute, and some last only five seconds. Most average out at around thirty. He hasn’t found anything yet, and he’s not sure what he’s looking for. But when he knows, he’ll know. He trusts his instincts. It’s worked for him so far.
He goes through songs decades old and new hits, everything and anything he’s got on his phone. He loses track of time and how many songs he goes through. Five minutes? Ten? Thirty?
He’s in the middle of Bulletproof, and singing along to it of course, when he hears a banging. He stops in the middle of spinning on his heel, nearly toppling over. He glares at the floor, expecting to hear Pidge’s shout. What he hears, however, is another banging on the wall and Keith’s voice.
“Just pick a song already!”
Lance’s head whips up to stare at the mirrored wall. His eyes narrow at his own reflection. “It’s my process!” He shouts, clicking the button. Immediately whistling starts up from Moves Like Jagger.
“Your process sucks!”
“I can’t hear you!” He yells back, whistling along with the tune as he clasps his hands behind his back and struts around with stutter steps.
“Then turn your music down!”
Lance moves around the room, sliding dramatically and spinning in wide, slow arcs that get his whole body into it. He sings the first few lines before responding. “No can do, mullet boy! Then I’d have to listen to your terrible music taste, and I’m not about that life.”
“How do you think I feel? You’re forcing me to listen to your voice!”
Lance sputters, tripping over his feet as he stomps over to the mirror. “Excuse! My voice is a blessing!” He shouts, coming to stand right in front of the mirror and glaring up at the wall.
“More like a curse.” His voice isn’t a shout, but it’s definitely loud enough to be heard through the wall.
Lance bristles. “You mean like your mullet?”
“What’s your problem?”
“My problem? Well, first of all, you trick me into thinking you had my room!” He didn’t but… you know, semantics. “And secondly, you’re interrupting my dance process!”
And thirdly, he’s still hella embarrassed after barging in on Keith and making a scene. Not to mention checking him out. Ugh. He can feel his face heating up just thinking about it. He’s never going to live this down. He has to find a way to impress Keith with his dancing or he’ll forever be remembered as the idiot who barged in on him.
He isn’t going to think too hard about why he’s concerned about how Keith remembers him. Maybe because Keith apparently didn’t before and Lance sure as hell remembers him, so… yeah, he’s a little offended.
“And we’re back to the whole your process sucks point.”
Lance holds out a hand, tapping the next button. This song isn’t doing it for him anymore. The sound of computerized cymbals and a familiar beat come over his speakers. He grins to himself, his bad mood already starting to subside. Oh yes, nothing a little T-Swift can’t help him with.
“I stay out too late,” He sings, stepping away from the mirror with exaggerated movements, snapping his fingers low. “Got nothing in my brain.”
He hears a loud, bark of a laugh from the other room. “I’ll say!”
Lance’s head jerks around to glare at the wall, then sticks his nose up in the air and continues his jazz into the center of the room, singing perhaps just a fraction louder. “That’s what people say, mm mm, that’s what people say.”
He continues to move, closing his eyes and doing his best to block out all the noise from the other room. It isn’t quite working. This song doesn’t have enough back volume and he can clearly hear the muffled sound of Keith’s music. He vaguely recognizes it as a Panic! at the Disco song. As his own song reaches the chorus, he holds out the remote, turning up the volume.
And while he’s at it, he hits the next button.
Through the opening beats of Danza Kuduro, he can hear the volume of Keith’s music rising, and it’s disrupting his flow. Instinctually, Lance raises his own volume to max, singing along in Spanish and rolling his hips as the music blasts from his speakers. But he just hears Keith’s volume rise to match his.
Oh, so that’s how they’re going to play it. Alright, Lance can dig it. He’s got a lot of experience in this department.
In retaliation, lance hits the next button, counts to ten, and hits it again. Rinse and repeat. The whole time he doesn’t stop moving. The change in rhythms are drastic, clashing, and he barely has time to adjust before he’s changing it. But it’s all worth it because he’s savoring the idea of annoying Keith. So he dances with noncommittal moves, bouncing on the balls of his feet, kicking out his legs, rotating his arms, spinning on his heel before sliding or hopping to the side, rolling his hips.
He goes through around twenty songs like this before he hears the shout from the other room.
“You know, if you want to audition for regionals, you actually need to pick a song instead of shuffling through them every five seconds.”
“Excuse you, I’m waiting TEN seconds.” He should know. He’s counting. Through the particularly soft opening to the song he stopped on, he can hear familiar guitar rifts coming through the wall, along with a very distinct voice. “How about you pick a song from this century!” He’s going to ignore the fact that Dancing With Myself is actually kind of fitting. He’s also going to ignore the fact that he’s a fan.
“Billy Idol is timeless!” Keith argues. Lance can hear the irritation in his voice, and he’s reveling in it. He grins, wondering what Keith looks like when that cocky, cool attitude is shattered. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen him express anything besides indifference and boredom… and of course a little annoyance when he was in his room earlier. “Besides, you were just playing Oingo Boingo a minute ago and that is definitely not from this century!”
Lance’s grin is gone. “Dead Man’s Party is a good song with a good beat!” He’s not going to point out that he first heard it on Dance Dance Revolution, and that he can get a perfect score every time. He somehow doesn’t think that’ll impress Keith.
Keith’s song ends just as Lance is hitting the next button again, and suddenly he’s bombarded by a surround sound of Shut Up and Dance. They’re off by a second or two, but it’s very clear that it’s the same song. Lance nearly drops his remote in his haste to change the song. He will NOT admit he has the same taste in music as Keith. He feels his face burning and is extremely grateful that Keith can’t see him right now.
Keith’s song changes just moments later, and he hears the opening clapping and gentle strumming of On Top of the World before it’s drowned out by his own speakers blaring Lady Gaga.
He’s shifting his hips and rolling his body into some swift leg movements, arms moving along, when his music cuts out.
And suddenly he’s thrown into silence.
He freezes, eyes darting around. His ears are ringing, but that’s all he can hear. There’s some music playing distantly somewhere in the building, but it’s definitely not Keith. His room is eerily silent, too.
Then he hears Pidge’s shout through the floorboards, loud and annoyed. “You’re both officially cut off!”
His eyes snap down as his hands go to his hips. He stomps on the floor. “Pidge, what the hell?!”
“We’re tired of listening to your cock fight! Some of us are trying to be productive!” Their voice is still muffled through the floor, but it comes in clear.
“Huuuunk!” Lance draws out the name in a long, low whine.
“Sorry, man, but it was my idea.” He doesn’t sound the least bit sorry.
“How am I suppose to practice now?!” Lance stomps again, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Suck it up and use your headphones!” Comes Pidge’s reply.
Lance groans loudly, hoping it’ll carry through the floor. “This is all Keith’s fault!”
“Hey!” Keith snaps through the wall.
Pidge doesn’t reply, and instead he hears the muffled music from below start up. It’s much, much softer than the volume he and Keith had been using. Blowing all his air out in a long huff, Lance stomps over to where his iPhone is, making sure to be extra loud with every step. He rips the auxiliary cable form his phone and goes to his bag, pulling out his headphones. Plugging them in, he settles the headphones over his ears and starts up his music once again.
He winces as the music blasts a little too loudly and immediately turns it down. Sighing, he straightens and lets his body move once again to the beat. At least this way he can’t hear Keith’s stupid music or his stupid voice. No distractions. Just him and his music. No more thinking about Flannel McMullet.
Or his stupid ponytail.
Or the stupid way his body moves.
Or his stupid ass in those jeans.
Yeah, none of that.
As it turns out, Lance doesn’t get much done with the rest of his time. With Keith’s interruption, and Pidge and Hunk’s interruption, he’s finding it hard to really get back into it. Whenever he feels particularly grumpy and resentful, he makes sure to step extra hard so his friends down below can hear.
His phone vibrates in his hand, and he glances down to see a text from Pidge telling him that his hour is up and if he doesn’t get downstairs in the next five minutes, they’re leaving without him. Glancing at the time, he realizes he’s technically gone over his practice time by seven minutes. Luckily, there doesn’t seem to be anyone sighed up right after him. Turning his music down to a more normal volume, he gathers his stuff and heads out.
While he’s nodding his head along to Dancing Queen, he steps wide over the threshold, dragging his other foot along in a smooth slide as they sing, ”You can jiiiive.” It’s not until he hears another door shut that he glances up and realizes that Keith is staring at him.
He’s still got that red flannel wrapped around his waist instead of putting it in his bag like a normal person. And Lance will not admit that it’s a good look for him. He also totally doesn’t notice how Keith’s black shirt clings to him with sweat, or how some of his bangs are stuck to his forehead and cheeks. His backpack is thrown over one shoulder, one hand on the strap, and he’s got a set of red headphones resting around his neck. He’s staring at Lance with one eyebrow raised, and he swears he sees an amused tilt to his lips.
Lance scowls, pulling his own headphones down to rest around his neck. “What?”
Keith shakes his head, letting go of the door to his room and starting off down the hall. “Nothing.” As he passes Lance, he shoves his shoulder with his own.
Lance stumbles back a step, arms going straight down at his sides and hands curled into fists as he shouts, “Hey! Watch where you’re going!”
Keith is still walking away, but he turns to glance over his shoulder, pulling down his bottom eyelid with a middle finger as he sticks out his tongue. “Watch what room you’re entering next time.”
Lance bristles, his lips pursing into a scowl as he fights down the blush that’s creeping up his neck. But Keith isn’t looking at him anymore. He grumbles something unintelligible and partially in spanish as he shoves his hands in his pockets, hunches his shoulders, and follows after him, dragging his feet. It’s not like he wants to follow him. They’re just headed in the same direction.
He’s expecting Keith to stop in front of the elevator at the end of the hall, but instead he turns right toward the stairs. Now Lance normally takes the stairs, too. But for a moment he considers taking the elevator just to get away from Keith. That thought is quickly dashed however. There’s not way in hell he’s going to let Keith think he’s lazy. They’re at a dance studio for crying out loud. If they can’t walk a couple flights of stairs, they might as well leave.
So he follows Keith into the stairwell. Keith gets to the landing halfway halfway down to the third floor, and as he rounds it, he glanced up and makes eye contact with Lance. Lance freezes for just a moment, hesitating with a foot hovering above the next step. Then the moment has passed and Keith is looking away, continuing down the stairs.
Why does he feel so offended by that? It was probably nothing, but it feels like a brush off. He’s already embarrassed himself in front of this guy, and now he’s acting all indifferent and holier than thou, and quite frankly, it rubs him the wrong way.
Maybe he’s irrational. He probably is. But at the same time, fuck this guy.
He takes only one more step before the song coming from his headphones changes, and once again, T-Swift has got his back. Bad Blood starts playing, and the volume is just loud enough for him to hear it. His lips curve into a slow smirk, and he’s hopping down the stairs at a quick pace before he fully realizes what he’s doing.
It doesn’t take long before he passes Keith, shoving his shoulder with his own as he skips down the stairs. When he turns back to look, Keith’s brows are furrowed, lips slack in surprise. Lance cocks his head to the side, grins, and gives him a mock salute before continuing down the stairs.
It only takes Keith a couple seconds to catch up. Lance can hear his footsteps speed up behind him and immediately his heart rate picks up to match. The next thing he knows, they’re practically racing down the stairwell. He starts skipping down the steps two at a time, pulling ahead, but Keith overtakes him when they get to a landing and he grabs the corner railing, swinging his body around and bypassing the landing entirely as he jumps to the next set of stairs. Lance jumps the last four steps to the next landing, pushes off the wall, and practically flies down the steps.
As they round the last landing to the final stretch of stairs, Lance glances out of the corner of his eye to see Keith doing the same. He doesn’t have time to think about what he sees there because he’s jumping the last stretch, Keith in the air a second behind him.
His feet land a second before Keith’s.
“Aha!” He says, loud and breathless, straightening and throwing his hairs up in victory. “I win!”
Keith hunched over at his side, hands on his knees as he panted. “We weren’t… racing…” He says between breaths.
“Oh yeah?” Lance crosses his arms over his chest, cocking his hips to the side as he grins smugly down at him. “Then why were you sprinting after me?”
Keith tilts his head to glare up at him through the hair that was falling in front of his face. Is it just him, or is it suddenly very hot in this stairwell? Keith sighs and straightens, adjusting the backpack strap on his shoulder. “Whatever.” He says, rolling his shoulders before walking away, leaving Lance alone in the stairwell.
Lance isn’t sure what possess him to move, but suddenly he’s rushing out of the stairwell after him. “Hey!” He shouts, one hand on the doorframe. Keith is already several feet away and headed down the hall toward the door that leads to the back parking lot. He stops and turns, one eyebrow raised in silent question. He’s not frowning anymore, but he’s by no means smiling. Did he always look that sour? “You auditioning for regionals again this year?” He blurts out before he can lose his nerve.
Keith’s second eyebrow went up as well. He blinks, and Lance squirms in the silence. What? It was a totally innocent question. It’s not like it was hard. Keith seems to think it is though. His brows suddenly furrow and he purses his lips, looking off to the side. “I, uh… yes?”
“Good!” His eyes snap back to Lance, and Lance leans against the doorframe, other hand going to his hip as he grins. “Cause I’m gonna prove to you that I can kick your ass.”
“If you can manage to settle on a song before then.” Keith deadpans, but Lance swears he can see the guy’s lips twitching.
Lance puts a hand to his chest in, mostly, mock offense, gasping loudly for good measure. “Oh, it is on, mullet!”
Keith rolls his eyes, but as he’s turning away, Lance can definitely see his lips tilting up into a small smile. Lance watches him leave, lips quirked up into a wide grin, before going to find Pidge and Hunk.
It doesn’t take long for them to get the story out of him, and they spend the entire drive home laughing at Lance while he mumbles something about finding new friends.