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The Bonds we Build

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“Lance, this will be good for you. You need some time away from the city!”

His mother’s words rung in his ear as he stood in front of the rickety old farm house. Lance didn’t think this would be good for him. He knew it wouldn’t be. His mother had got him a summer job at a small farm, helping the man who ran the small bit of land. To be truthful, Lance could use the extra money, since he had just gotten out of high school. But why did his mother think this would be the best option? He groaned a bit as he slowly dragged his suitcase and duffle bag down the long dirt driveway. He had a bag slung over his shoulder for all of his beauty and face supplies, and he gripped it tighter as he got closer to the house. He may not be at home this summer, but he would be damned if he let his skin get crusty and gross.

As he got closer he could hear sounds of animals from the barn in the back of the lot, and everything started to feel real. For the next 3 months, Lance would be staying with some stranger he didn’t know. He gulped a bit and tried to remember some things his mother had told him. She had said his name was Keith, and he was a really quiet guy who didn’t get out much. But she wouldn’t stop going on about how nice he was.

“Great,” he grumbled under his breath. “I’m probably gonna be stuck with some old redneck, while Hunk and Pidge are living it up in Hawaii. How did I get so lucky…”

He looked around. This driveway was so long and he was still only halfway there. He figured he’d play on his phone to pass time, but when he switched it on he let out a gasp. There were no service bars.

His eyes widened. “I’m going to die here.”

He quickly put the device back into his bag and looked around once again. As he got closer, he could see that there were parts lying around in random places. He was no expert but they were probably either for some sort of car or motorcycle.

Finally-- finally -- after 3 minutes of walking down the long driveway he was able to see the house up close. The worry in his gut grew at a rapid pace.

The place looked way worse in person.

The roof and siding were warped. The place looked like it needed to be condemned and he was going to be living here, for three months. He tried swallowing his anxiety but was hit with another concern. ‘What if this place doesn’t have running water? What if I have to bathe outside in a bucket like an animal?’ His mind supplied him with the possibility of his skincare routine faltering, but he was pulled from his thoughts by an unfamiliar voice.

“Lance, right?”

Lance jumped a bit at the sudden presence. He didn’t realise he’d turned away from the house, so he whirled around to the source of the voice. He looked up and saw the man standing in front of him and nearly choked.

‘Oh no, he’s hot.’

“I, uh, I’m Keith.” Keith had extended his hand to him while he was staring. He quickly drew a hand to grab it. The handshake was firm and Lance couldn’t help but stare at Keith’s arms. He felt his face burn up and quickly withdrew his hand. He needed to control his thoughts. He was here to work.

Keith cleared his throat, breaking the awkward silence, and gestured to the bags and suitcase Lance had been lugging around. “I can take your things if you’d like?”

Lance nodded, still not able to think properly. He followed Keith -- he was lifting Lance’s belongings like they barely weighed a feather this is not fair -- into the house. If his face was red before, it was on fire now. Keith was easily one of the most attractive men he had even met. He could feel his heart racing. He needed to calm down, he was being irrational he didn’t even know this guy.

All thoughts disappeared when they entered the house.

Unlike Lance’s house, there were no family photos or little placeholders. This place didn’t even look like someone had lived in it. It was almost... sad. He furrowed his eyebrows at one of the one picture frames that was turned downwards.

Before he could even think about it, Keith was calling him from the top of the stairs.

“Did you wanna see your room or not?” Lance could hear a sort of snark in his voice. His eyes widened in surprise. “Because I don’t have all day.”

“What happened to the gentleman that was happily taking my bags?” Lance’s eyebrows rose when he ran up to meet the man.

“Yeah, well, you were slow.” Keith gestured to the room next to the corridor.

Lance rolled his eyes and staggered slowly into it, taking in the sight. The bed was kinda saggy, and the blues on the walls looked kinda dull as if it was painted a long time ago. Lance made a face at the room, though he thought that it could’ve been worse since it looked like it was well kept. It wasn’t much bigger than his bedroom back home, too, so maybe it wasn’t that bad.

Speaking of home, how was he gonna call his family?

Lance paused. Nope. Not gonna dwell on that. He shook his head and began to unpack his things, trying to keep busy.

When he dumped his bag of skin care products onto the bed, he heard a snort. Lance turned and saw Keith leaning against the door with a smirk plastered on to his face. Lance simply narrowed his eyes at him and went back to concentrating on his products. He liked to keep them organised, so what?

“Can I help you?” Lance finally demanded, words spoken more like a statement than a question. He looked up to Keith with a glare, who in turn just snorted. He turned to Keith fully, hands on hips. “Don’t hate because I have clear skin, sorry you like to be crusty.”

“I do have really smooth skin for your information” Keith teased. “Besides, don’t you think that’s a bit much?” He gestured to the bottles on the bed. “There’s like at least 20 bottles there? What do you even need all that for?”

“I like to have options,” Lance stated matter of factly, picking through the pile and picking up a few bottles with expert hands. “These are my exfoliators. I like to have a few different scents, because, you know, variety.” Lance put those down and picked for more. “These are my scrubs! I like to use sugar some days and salt on other days, and then,” Lance held up 7 different tubes in his hand's all different colours, “here are my face masks.” He started ranting, noticing the small smile on Keith, nodding, like he was actually waiting for him to continue.

Usually, when Lance explained this stuff to people, he was ridiculed or told he was less of man. But Keith just stayed quiet. It was kinda nice to not be told what he liked to do was wrong.

“I think one day I’ll have to give you a spa treatment,” Lance said finally, then gave a sly smile. “I can see how gross your pores are from here.”

“Hm, nice idea. But I think I’ll pass.” Lance watched the smile on Keith’s face grow wider. ‘I am doomed.’ “Anyway, I’ll be right back with your clothes. I should probably show you around the place and give you an idea of what you will be doing later.”

Lance nodded and gave a small wave when Keith left. He felt himself smile as he looked back down to all of his products, strewn all over the bed. He was already gaining some unwanted butterflies.

‘These 3 months are gonna be painful.’

Something smacked the side of his face. He let out a yelp and hastily swatted it off his head, sending the man responsible a death glare. Keith had a hand over his mouth, trying to suppress his laughter before tossing a pair of boots into the room and walked out of sight.

Lance brought a hand to his chest and furrowed his eyebrows. This wasn’t good. Oh god. His face was on fire and it had only been an hour.

Lance wasted no time on getting changed. Keith had given him a dark grey shirt and work jeans, along with a pair of large work boots. Lance assumed that his mother had given Keith all of his clothing and shoe sizes since they all seemed to fit extremely well. He studied himself in the mirror.

He slicked his hair back and shot finger guns at his reflection, giving himself his signature Finger Guns, smirking. “Lookin’ good.”

He heard another snort from the corridor. He turned to the doorway again, which was currently occupied with Keith and his dumb amused face.

“Ehm.”

Keith smirked. “You done?”

Lance squawked in frustration (and maybe a little embarrassment. Just a little.). “Get out!”

Keith walked back into the corridor. “You’re too slow. I need to give you the run downs since it’s your first day.” He heard heavier footsteps. Keith was heading downstairs. “Meet me in the barn!”

Lance paused. He had assumed Keith was gonna let him get comfortable with the house since it was his first day. When Keith said… what he said, he then assumed he would be working for a few hours before settling down for the night. It was his first day after all. Keith, the kind beautiful caring considerate man, was at least going to let him go easy. Right?

Wrong.

When Lance had gotten down to meet with Keith, Keith was already telling him what to do about everything. And maybe it would have been fine if Keith wasn’t so picky.

“You aren’t doing it right.” Lance groaned loudly. Keith staring at him with his arms crossed with an annoyed look on his face.

“All I’m doing is spreading hay onto the ground?” Lance sad in exasperation, arms going slack. “How would I do it wrong?”

“You're not spreading enough of it.” Lance stared at Keith retreating figure in disbelief. His face was now going red for a different reason. He couldn’t believe someone could be this frustrating.

Lance let out a grumble and got back to work. He’d been given a few simple tasks, but apparently, according to a certain someone, he was messing every single one of them up. He took everything back. Keith was a jerk -- a hot jerk, but a jerk nonetheless.

After a few hours, he was finally done with the tasks that Keith had given him. He groaned in frustration at the amount of sweat pooling around his forehead. All he could think about was getting into the shower for a nice refreshing bath to clean the dirt off of him. He could feel his face yelling at him to clean it.

“So much for a good first day,” he muttered. Rubbing the back of his neck, he walked out of the barn and ran into Keith. Literally. They headbutted each other and doubled back in pain.

“Watch it!” Keith growled, rubbing his head.

“You watch it, Mullet Head!” Lance cried back, scrunching his face up in pain. (In the back of his mind, he was thinking how weird and dumb that nickname was. Mullet Head? Really, Lance?)

“Wha - don’t call me that.” Lance pouted and turned his head away. Lance hadn’t expected his first day to go like this. He was hoping this job would be at least a tad bit more enjoyable, but instead, he was stuck with a boss who would make his life hell for the next three months.

“Whatever, I finished what you asked.” Lance extended his hands toward the farm dramatically. “Ya happy?”

Keith rolled his eyes and walked past him. He sighed, frustrated and followed the man back into the barn.

Keith looked around for a moment. With a sense of finality, he shook his head. “Nope.”

‘I will punch you.’

“You’re kidding right?” He had spent so much time doing whatever he was supposed to do and Keith still wasn’t happy. How would he survive 3 months of this? He could barely survive a few hours.

He was gonna die. This was the end. Say goodbye to his family for him.

“I’m not. You clearly rushed.” Keith deadpanned as he picked up a shovel and handed it back to Lance. “Go back through them all, and take. Your. Time. I can still see some hay in some of the stalls.”

Lance was about to protest, but Keith just groaned again, grabbing another shovel and shovelling out some of the stalls.

“What are you doing?” Lance shifted a little to take a peek at Keith. He flinched at the hard stare Keith gave him.

“Well, someone doesn’t know how to shovel hay, so I guess I need to show them how to do it properly.” He turned back, focusing on his task. “I want to eat and I can’t do that if this isn’t done.”

Lance sighed and walked closer, observing Keith and his familiar movements. He had to admit the technique was way better and faster, but, of course, he would never admit that out loud. When he figured everything out he tried copying Keith’s movements, albeit a little sloppily.

After another hour of working in silence, everything was eventually wrapped up. As they walked out Lance noticed that Keith was lagging a bit behind. He turned, about to make a sly remark, but then he could see Keith nuzzling one of the horses and he died on the spot.

“Okay, I’m gonna pretend like that wasn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,” Lance mumbled to himself, walking back to the house as Keith closed up the barn doors. His face was burning up now and he couldn’t stop the silly smile from appearing on his face.

‘Wow, Lance,’ he thought, mentally slapping himself, ‘I can’t believe you’re so deep in sappy feelings already. Stop.’

He got to the door and heard barking. Body tensing, he slowly turned around.

‘What the heck.’ The sight that he was met with shot him right through the heart.

Keith was a few leashes, all attached to the four dogs trailing beside him. They were wagging their tails and prancing around Keith like he was some sort of angel, and the sight was just so cute.

You couldn’t really blame him when Lance gasped out loud and whispered, “Puppies.”

Ears perking up, all four pairs of eyes turned to him. In a split second, they all ran to him, and he braced himself for impact when one of the larger breeds jumped onto him. He fell back nonetheless, surprised by the sheer weight of the dog, and landed on his back, laughing and cooing as all of the dogs started licking his face.

“Who’s a good boy?” he cooed, petting and scratching the scruffs of their ears as he nosed into their fur. “You are. You all are!”

One of the dogs put its paw on his chest and pushed him back, slobbering his face up. As weird as it was, Lance couldn’t help giggling as they continued fighting his attempts to get them to stop. “Beautiful--okay, stay down--oh my god you’re so cute--”

“Alright guys, that’s enough.” He felt the weight being pulled off of him and he sat up, using his arm to wipe the slobber off of his face, another hand for support because oh god, his stomach hurt from laughing too much. He looked up at Keith who was holding the dog by his side. He extended a hand to Lance, very clearly trying to suppress a laugh, but to no avail. Lance shook his head a little before taking it and standing up. Dusting himself off a bit.

“Were you hiding these little guys from me?” Lance laughed, looking up at Keith as he bent down to pet one of the tinier dogs. The one that had knocked him down was recognisable as a Mastiff, or some sort of mix while the other three had the looks of a labrador.

“They kinda just do their own thing during the day? Then they come back at night.” Keith admitted, patting the Mastiff at his side. “This big guy here has been here for the longest, his name is Fluffy.”

“Fluffy?” Lance couldn’t help but snort.

“Listen, I named him when I was really young.” Keith pouted, a small smile on his face. He pointed to the other dogs. “Anyway, the others are Daisy, Pumpkin, and Floofy.”

Floofy. Just. Wow. “You are not allowed to name any more dogs, Keith.” Lance chuckled lightly, opening the door. The dogs ran into the house and disappeared from his sight a second later.

“Energetic bunch, aren’t they?”

Keith hummed, following him into the house.

They settled themselves in the living room--small, occupied by a couch and a tiny old fashioned television. Lance stood at the side, since he didn’t have a place among the dogs that were currently rubbing themselves on Keith.

He looked out the window, breathing slowly. The sun was setting, light staining the clouds in pink and orange. He could almost see the stars blinking slowly in the darkening sky. The sight of it instantly took his breath away. He’d never seen anything so beautiful before.

‘Well,’ Lance thought again, turning to Keith. ‘Not really.’

Lance finally plopped himself on the couch. “So, what’s to eat? I’m hungry.” Man, he missed Hunk’s cooking. Hunk in general, actually. He wondered if he could call his best friend later.

“I could…” Lance saw Keith twiddling his thumb, “...make some spaghetti?”

Lance squinted at the hesitation in his voice but dismissed it when he felt the need to yawn. “Okay.” Lance stretched his lanky body, yawning. “I’m gonna go shower. Tell me when you’re done.” He sluggishly made his way up the stairs, body aching, so he was excited to be able to feel the hot water.

Lance entered his bedroom. Everything was exactly where he left it, so he went over to his suitcase and brought out hoodie and jeans. He picked up his towel and beauty products then made his way to the bathroom, bracing himself for possible dirtiness.

He opened the door. “Holy crow, this is cleaner than my bathroom back at home.”

He gingerly stepped into the bathroom, feeling the dry floor. He set everything down and checked the walls, pleased to find a water heater.

Soon enough, he was grinning ear to ear as the lukewarm water ran down his body. His body relaxed, and he sighed, content. He scrubbed away the dirt from his body and hummed lightly, spending a few minutes washing his hair. Washing away the foam, he stood in front of the mirror and narrowed his eyes at his own reflection.

He grinned. “Time to get beautiful.”

He poured some of the product into his palm, ready to start his much-needed skin care routine, but just when his hands raised to his face, a loud ear-piercing beeping invaded his ears.

“Shit--” He flinched, nearly falling due to the slippery ground, his face scrunching up at the sound. “What the heck is that?” He paused. Hold on. Isn’t that the fire alarm? Why was the fire alarm activated?

Unless… “God dammit Keith,” he muttered through gritted teeth, turning off the water and throwing his clothes on. He didn’t have enough time to dry himself off, so the fabric felt icky and stuck to his skin, but he would rather be soaked and alive, than dry and dead, thank you very much.

He ran, long leg skipping stairs. Heavy black smoke was pouring out from the kitchen, and his heart rate increased by a mile. Was Keith okay? What happened anyway? He barrelled into the kitchen, trying to see Keith through the thick smoke. “Keith--”

Keith had been cursing and waving a kitchen towel around, trying his hardest to disperse the smoke. He turned over, face in a scowl, but then he saw Lance and his face burnt up in embarrassment. Lance sighed, relieved, before noticing the stove was still on and ran over to turn it off.

“What,” Lance started. “Exactly happened, when I was gone?”

“Ehm,” Keith spoke, deciding to stop there. Helpful.

Lance shot an unimpressed gaze at him before turning his attention to the pot. He picked up a table cloth and lifted the lid, coughing when a burnt smell invaded his nose.

“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” Lance muttered. The noodles were charred black. There wasn’t even any water in the pot. He looked up to say something to Keith but stopped, focusing instead on opening the windows and fanning the smoke out. From the corner of his eye, he could see that Keith was frozen in place, staring at him, and wondered why Keith would offer to cook, considering he clearly doesn’t know how.

“Are you just gonna, ya know,” Lance gestured at whatever Keith was doing, “Stand there and look pretty or something?”

Keith shrieked, which definitely caught Lance off guard. “What?”

Lance looked at him weirdly. “Dude, you almost burnt your kitchen down. Your fire alarm is still ringing. Fan out the smoke or something.”

Finally, the ringing ceased. They leant against the wall, trying to relax. Lance looked down and realised his clothes were soaking wet and sticking to his skin, which was definitely uncomfortable. ‘And it stinks like smoke, which is an added bonus. I hate my life.’

“Oh god,” Lance cringed, pulling at the fabric. He turned to Keith, but he was looking everywhere but him. “Jeez, at least thank me or something. I can’t believe you almost killed yourself because you can’t cook.”

Keith’s mouth twitched slightly, and he turned to Lance with an amused expression, face still red. “Well,” he started, voice slightly higher, “thanks for not leaving me to die, I guess.”

Lance let a smile reach his face. “Pleasure’s mine.” He walked to the stove and carried the pot to the sink, throwing out the charred insides and washing it. Filling it with some more water, he placed the pot onto the element and turned to Keith. “Grab me the noodles.”

Keith shook his head out of his trance. “Uh, yeah, sure.” He went back to the cupboard and took out the box, walking back and handing it to Lance, who, after a few minutes, put them into the boiling water and stirred.

Keith was peaking over his shoulder, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

“You have to boil the noodles,” Lance explained. “With water,” he added helpfully.

Keith visibly deflated next to him. “I… may not know how to cook,” Keith admitted, his voice small.

Lance turned to him, and the embarrassment on his face was very easy to read. “I figured,” Lance teased, stirring the noodles until they were softer and fully submerged into the pot. He closed the lid to let the noodles simmer and placed the spatula on top, rubbing his hands. “But that’s okay! I can teach you.” He turned to Keith gave him a reassuring smile. “We do have three months. All the time we need to kill your bad cooking habits, really.”

Keith’s eyes widened, then softened. A small smile crept onto the other man's face. Nodding, he turned back to the pot and watched the noodles through the glass lid.

Lance quickly looked back down to the food he was cooking, blushing furiously. That smile, oh god, it was going to be the death of him.

Silence had eventually stretched between them. It felt comfortable to him, minus his clothes still clinging to his skin. He wasn’t sure about how Keith felt about it, though.

Lance pursed his lips. He wanted to believe he could have a chance with Keith, and with the way he had acted around Lance, maybe he did have a chance. He could let himself hope, right?

He shook his head, chuckling softly. Keith looked up to him with curious violet eyes, but Lance dismissed it. Who was he kidding? Keith was gorgeous -- too gorgeous, and way out of Lance’s league. Even if the feeling was mutual, Lance didn’t deserve a guy like him.

Besides, he didn’t even know if Keith was into guys anyway. He didn’t want to risk getting fired because he got mixed signals. It would be best to just shove down these feelings. Yea, he could do that.

He was the best at doing that.

Chapter Text

A week had passed. Things weren’t really any different from the way they were before. The days would be long and tedious, Keith would bicker at him, and then Lance would make dinner. Because Keith had proven to be no use in the kitchen. Slowly Lance was starting to show Keith some tips and techniques so that he wouldn’t nearly burn the house down again. Lance could only wonder what Keith had been eating before Lance had shown up.

“How do you not know how to cook?” Lance asked one day while the two of them were wrapping things up for the night. “Where are your parents, anyway? You must be around the same age as me or something.”

Immediately, Keith’s face fell. Lance saw an undecipherable expression on his face--sadness? Guilt? Longing?-- before it turned to its normal stoic look. “They’re not here.”

Lance tilted his head. “What do you--”

Keith turned to him suddenly, sharp glare deadly with gritted teeth. “I said they’re not here.” He turned back and continued where he left off. “Could you just... drop it, please?”

Lance blinked at Keith’s back several times, confused, and maybe a bit scared. Just maybe. He tilted his head. Okay, so family was a touchy subject for Keith, which was kind of odd to him because normally family was Lance’s ice breaker topics.

“Uh,” Lance tried again, “What about siblings? Older brother? Sister? Little devils to make your life hell?”

Another astonishing thing occurred-- Keith’s gaze turned soft and thoughtful. “Yeah,” he murmured. He lowered his head. “He’s not here either though.”

Something tells Lance he hasn’t been here for a long time.

‘Well, this is so awkward.’ Lance thought to himself. Usually he prided himself at being a great conversationalist, being able to chat up even the introvert nephew that normally sits in the corner of the room during family gatherings -- man, he missed that kid -- but Keith was apparently a special case. A very special one.

Lance wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the reason behind Keith’s sullen face.

“Anyway,” Keith spoke out loud, like he was actually trying to break the awkward silence (which would actually be an accomplishment for the socially awkward boy), “we’re done here. Let’s go back to the house.”

Lance noted at the use of ‘house’ instead of ‘home’. Interesting.

He quickened his pace to catch up to Keith and matched his stride, craning his neck to pop his joints. “Man, I’m beat! Who’s cooking today?”

Keith suddenly stopped walking.

Lance turned to Keith, eyebrows raised. “Uh, dude? Is that you bailing or something?”

Keith blinked a few times and looked up to Lance. “Oh. Uh. No. Sure I’ll cook.” He shook his head, smiling a little sadly. Why does he look sad? “I was surprised by how domestic that sounds.”

Lance ran into the pillar at the porch.

Hands were on him in a moment’s notice. “Lance! You okay?” He felt Keith pulling him up gently by the arm, as if he was trying to be considerate. ‘I should really stop assuming things like that.’ “Watch where you’re going next time. You almost got me a heart attack.”

Lance tried ignoring his racing heartbeat and grinned up at Keith. “Aww, so Mullet Head does care!”

Keith frowned. “Of course I care? We’ve been living with each other for a week. You’re at least my friend now.” He frowned more, genuinely confused. “Right?”

‘Oh my god he says we’re friends now what did I do in my past life to deserve this.’

“Heh.” Lance looked away and removed himself from Keith, immediately missing the warmth of it. He dusted his pants off and walked into the house into the living room, where he plopped himself on his designated spot for the past week on the sofa. “Well, since you so kindly offered to cook, Imma just chillax right now.”

“What’s chilla-- never mind.” Keith walked past the sofa behind him, presumably going into the kitchen to prepare ingredients.

“Remember what I taught you, Keithy boy!” Lance called out from the living room. “Don’t let the practice during the past week go to waste!”

Keith flipped a finger at him in response before going back to what he was doing.

Lance laughed, then reached for his phone, before remembering he couldn’t do anything with it anyway.

“Say, how do you stay in contact with people around here?” Lance asked, looking from his phone to Keith who was carefully preparing for dinner. Cute. “I don’t have any service,”

“Well, I don’t really need it.” Keith admitted, which set Lance off a bit. What did he mean by that? Didn’t he have any friends? And even if family was a touchy subject, he’d admitted to having a brother -- where was he, anyway? Lance was starting to see Keith as a locked book, one that he was really tempted to open. “We have a landline though, you can call people through that.”

“A what?”

“A land line?” Keith turned to Lance with a funny expression. “You don’t know what a land line is? You’re joking, right?”

Lance shrugged.

Keith stopped what he was doing. He walked over and gestured to the older looking phone machine hanging on the wall. “That thing?”

“Uh.” Lance smiled sheepishly, flushing.“I thought that was decoration?”

Keith laughed, rubbing a hand down his face. He leaned his side against the wall, looking at Lance with a grin. “You know, if you like wanna go back home ever I could just drive you?”

“Wait, really?” Lance nearly jumped up from his seat, excitement taking over him before he realized. He tried cooling himself down, clearing his throat and sitting back down. “I mean, that would be cool.”

“Why are you so surprised?” Keith smiled, expression going soft. “You seem really close to your family, or, well, at least that’s how it seemed to be when your mom talked to me about you working here.”

“Oh god, that’s so embarrassing.” Lance recalled his mother beaming at him on that day. She had told him she got him a job and boasted on and on about how nice Keith was. He chuckled at the memory. If only his mother knew how Keith really was. “Like, geez, mom, I’m 18, you shouldn’t be getting me a job.”

“I think it’s nice.”

Lance hummed. “My mom is pretty great,” Lance said, grinning, before noticing how Keith’s smile dimmed. He quickly backtracked, “She wouldn’t stop saying how much she likes you.”

Keith perked up at the words very obviously, face lighting up like a Christmas tree, and Lance felt his face heat up once again. ‘This man is going to be the death of me, I just know it.’ “That’s -- That’s cool.”

They heard beeping and turned to the source of the sound. The oven had finished preheating.

“Alrighty, less talk.” Lance finally spoke. “Go throw the roast in the oven. Do you remember how long it needs to be on for?”

Keith blinked. “Uh…”

Lance stood up from his spot on the couch and stretched before walking into the kitchen. It seemed like he would need to take over from here if he wanted the house to stay fire free. He patted Keith’s shoulder -- damn those muscles -- signaling him to come join, and walked as Keith followed him to the kitchen counter.

“Okay. So did you mixed everything? “ Lance asked, looked around until his face was met with a bowl of plain ground beef. He sighed, and looked back to Keith who was fidgeting.

“I forgot what you said to put in it.” Keith admitted, not meeting his gaze. Lance couldn't help but laugh as he opened the fridge, grabbing the ingredients. Before Lance started working here, Keith’s fridge was empty, and Lance was so appalled he wrote out a grocery list for Keith.

He mentally snorted when he remembered how Keith had to call him every few minutes. Lance eventually sit down and made Keith stay on the phone with him. He learned that day that he hated land lines -- he also learned that Keith had an old Nokia cellphone. Lance almost keeled over when he saw it. It was like an ancient relic.

(“Oh my god---You use--a freaking Nokia?”

“What’s wrong with the brand?”

“Please tell me you didn’t buy it because people said it’s made of titanium because oh my god that would be so funny--”

“Wait.” Pause. “Are you saying it’s not?”

Cue hysterical laughter from Lance and scowls from Keith.)

Lance started mixing the ground beef in with the other ingredients. He personally loved spicy food, but he refrained from using too much cilli. The last thing he wanted to do was to see a red faced Keith gulping gallons of milk in desperation.

‘That would be really funny though.”

“Are we gonna make side dishes?” Keith spoke, peeking over Lance’s shoulder to see what he was doing. “I was thinking I could fry potatoes or something.”

“While that is a good idea, frankly I do NOT trust you with hot oil.” Lance recalled all the times Keith had almost burnt himself in the last week -- he cringed internally. While both might be hot, oil and Keith do not mix.

“Fine. I cut you fry.”

“Deal.”

Dinner was made, and, shockingly, no one got hurt. Over the last week there’d been little cuts and burns, which means Keith really was learning.

They set up dinner in the dining room. Lance looked over to Keith who was already digging into his dinner. Eyes wide, Keith brought his head back to let out a long moan.

Lance felt his face flush. ‘FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK’

“How the hell did you learn to cook this well?” Lance could feel the heat in his face rising and he had to clear his throat a little before answering.

“My Mama is always cooking,” Lance admitted, a small smile reaching his face. “She’s been the chef of the house my whole life. I always like watching her cook. And then I met Hunk and we started to cook meals together whenever we hung out. It got me used to the kitchen, so yea. It’s really cool.”

Lance had been eyeing his food while he spoke, trying to keep his smile at bay. He really hoped Hunk and Pidge were having fun in Hawaii. The two of them were going off to engineering school and then they’d probably be swamped with work by then. The thought of them being away for so long made him feel a little sick, but he was happy for them. He knew they would always keep in contact -- the bond he had with both of them would be hard to break.

He finally looked up from his food. Keith was looking at him with his mouth full, an eyebrow raised, expression expectant. He realized that Keith might’ve just said something to him.

“Oh shit, did you say something?” He felt slightly guilty. “What did you say?”

“Oh, uh.. Nevermind.” Lance could see that Keith’s cheeks were heating up and a sly smile grew onto his face.

“Nuh-uh Mullet!” Lance teased, amusement in his voice. “I’m not letting you off that easily.”

“Nope.”

“Keeeffff!” Lance whined, putting his fork down. “Don’t leave me hanging. I thought we bonded!”

“Nuh-uh.”

Lance gave him puppy eyes.

“Don’t look at me like that.”

Lance leaned in closer from across the table.

“Fine!” Keith huffed. “I just... wanted to know who Hunk was.” Keith finally out, glaring at his food. “He seems really close to you.”

“Oh, Hunk?” That was what he wanted to ask? A little weird why Keith would take a harmless question back at first, but he let it slide. “He’s my best friend! We’ve been friends since childhood. He and Pidge -- gremlin ascended from the depths of hell, a.k.a. my other best friend -- they’re in Hawaii right now.”

“Why are their names so…?”

“Weird?”

“...Special.”

Lance laughed. “They’re just nicknames. I like giving nicknames to people I like. You should know that by know,” he grinned, “Mullet.”

A smile graced Lance with their appearance. “Hey, now. I didn’t approve of this, ah, nickname.”

Lance propped his elbow on the table and leaned his chin against his palm. “Too bad, Mullet -- that’s all you’re gonna get.”

Keith laughed. He’d been smiling and laughing a lot more this week. But this one -- it was different. A small smile paired with soft violet eyes -- it was almost too much for Lance’s heart to bear. He quietly admired Keith while he dug into the food as if it was the food of the gods themselves, lips curling into a smile.

He’s way too good for you.

Not this again.

He looked down at his food, away from Keith, trying to shoo away the thoughts intruding his mind. ‘Not right now,’ he thought, trying to keep a straight face when Keith tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, you okay?”

You don’t deserve him.

“Oh, uh, yeah.” Lance tried faking a smile. He didn’t want to make Keith worry with his own stupid thoughts anyway. No use for someone to worry about him when he isn’t even that worth it. “Just not feeling it.”

Keith frowned. “You were complaining about how hungry you were literally two seconds ago.”

“That’s definitely an exaggeration. ‘Sides, it’s time for my skin care routine.” Mustering the best smirk he could manage, he quickly dumped it his leftovers in a container and put it in the fridge. He glanced over his shoulder and gave Keith a two finger salute. “Hasta la later, Keith.”

He skipped steps to the top floor. Keith’s eyes on were following him the whole time and it really didn’t help the situation.

You actually think he’s worried of you? Pathetic.

He was gonna be sick.

Lance closed the bedroom door and leaned his back against it for support. He put a hand on his chest, feeling his racing heartbeat, trying to calm himself. Tears prickled at the corner of his eyes and streamed down his cheeks. Trying to wipe them dry with the sleeves of his hoodie frantically, he tried to breathe.

He needed to just -- ‘calm down you stupid piece of shit.’

What did Hunk always tell him to do? ‘In 4, out 3.’ Without Hunk’s calming presence or Pidge’s ability to make everything seem normal, it’s just -- so hard. He felt his legs give out, and he slid to the floor, sniffling. ‘Clear your head. Please.’

A knock on his door. “Lance, what’s going on? Is everything okay?”

It was Keith.

This is really really bad. Keith sounded so concerned it just made him feel worse. He needed to get his shit together before Keith realizes what’s going on. He didn’t want anyone to feel bad because of him--

You don’t deserve anyone.

Lance mustered up all the courage he had and took a shaky breathe. He knew it wasn’t gonna be convincing, but it was better than nothing.

“I’m fine, Mullet.” Oh god, his voice sounded so watery. “Think I’m a little sick,” -- sick in the head -- “so I think I’m gonna rest for the night in here. That okay?”

“Oh. yeah, sure. I hope you feel better soon.” Lance inhaled. ‘Oh my god I can’t believe he bought that.’ “Goodnight, I guess.”

Lance heard footsteps leaving. Okay. This is fine.

Another knock. Lance tensed. “Lance?” Keith cleared his throat. Lance could almost imagine Keith rubbing his neck, uncomfortable, and chuckled despite himself. “If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask me for help, okay?”

Lance blinked, processing the words. “...okay.”

He held his breath until he was sure Keith left, and exhaled. Okay. He can do this. ‘Just--stop. Crying.’ He closed his eyes. ‘My eyes are gonna get puffy tomorrow please stop.’

His mind was racing with thoughts he didn’t need, things he didn’t even wanna think about. Lance staggered to his bed and fell onto it, face on the soft pillow. Why was he so affected anyway? Was it because of Keith? Of his own insecurities?

He exhaled slowly, fabric of the pillow now damp. He didn’t want these thoughts. He wanted to feel better, happy, considering how close he and Keith had gotten in the week. This is just a stupid fucking crush anyway -- they could just be friends after all this.

So why did he still feel so shitty?

“Fucking hell,” Lance muttered, smothering his face into the pillow.

Okay. He can do this. Just -- shove these feelings down into the depths of his brain so he doesn’t need to feel this anymore (at least, until he’s ready to face this anyway.)

Lance didn’t realize how much time has passed, but he was laying in bed, tears still streaming down his face. His rough sobs had stopped, and his mind was clearer now, so he was feeling… a lot better, at least. His mind told him he was weak for crying so much, but he’s convinced crying was healthy. Usually when he cried his mind would be clear again. It was one of the things that helped him the most. It helped his release his emotions, especially when he was away from his sister. If he was home right now he could guarantee that he would be in his sister’s arms.

He thought about her fingers going through his hair. It had taken a lot of time for him to open up to his sister about how he was feeling, but it was the best thing that had ever happened to him. She would always listen to him, and offer hugs when needed. She didn’t care when he cried in front of her, and when he did she would simply wipe them away. Mari and him were so close and being here made him miss her more, but he could manage.

He heard a soft voice through the walls. Lance perked up his his bed, still hugging his pillow, and furrowed his eyebrows. He glared at the wall and could hear water running as well.

“Keith is... singing in the shower.” Lance’s eyes widened at this point and, before he realized, he was pressing his ear against the wall trying to hear it. His heart was beating in his ear, and he just wanted it to stop so he could hear the boy sing. And then--

“I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
Well you're far away dreaming”

His heart stopped. That had to be what happened. He pressed himself to the wall harder and the louder his voice got, the faster his heart raced. Keith’s voice was so incredible. He finally eased up and sat against the wall. He pulled his head back and smiled softly. This guy really was something else, so you really couldn’t blame Lance if he was falling hard.

“I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
And just stay here lost in this moment forever
Well, every moment spent with you
Is a moment I treasure.”

His face was getting redder with every word. Despite himself, he let his eyes close and, as the singing continued, Lance found himself softly singing along.

“I don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you, babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing.”

Keith’s voice was getting louder now, and more confident. He imagined Keith holding his shampoo bottle to his mouth, face scrunched up with emotion as he sung, and Lance snorted at the mental image. He brought a hand to his face and slowly ran it down. He really needed to get a grip or he would confess his feelings to Keith the second he saw him in the morning. And that probably was a bad idea. Probably.

“Lying close to you
Feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
Then I kiss your eyes and thank God we're together
And I just wanna stay with you
Just stay in this moment forever, forever and ever.”

Keith’s voice was softer. Lance found himself clinging to the wall again, struggling to hear his voice. The lyrics and Keith’s voice made his whole face and neck flush. It sounded so… intimate.

Lance wanted Keith would sing like that to him. For him. He wanted to be on the receiving end of those lyrics. He closed his eyes, ears straining to hear the soft melody, and his mind supplied him with a Keith in front of him. His eyes widened when Keith took a step forward and cupped his cheeks. He was singing the same song, eyes crinkling at the corners with the smile on his face. Softly, tenderly, he brought his face closer to Lance’s. Lance gulped, body still, and suddenly they were just an inch apart and he could feel Keith’s breaths from parted lips fanning on his skin and then he--

There was a knock on the door and -- oh god he was fantasizing about kissing Keith -- Lance’s eyes opened so fast he saw stars. Face flushed, he scrambled to the door, and when he finally opened it he could feel his soul leaving his body.

“Sorry if I woke you up.” Keith. Was. Half naked. He was half naked. With only a towel wrapped around his waist, standing at Lance’s door. Lance quickly averted his eyes -- oh god he didn’t need this right now -- and his face was probably the shade of a tomato. Thank the lord for dim lighting.

“S’fine.” Lance spoke, still a little out of it. “‘Sup?”

“I just... wanted to make sure you were okay?” Keith’s eyes were bursting with concern and Lance found himself trying to avoid the gaze at all costs. “You didn’t finish your dinner, you left in a hurry, and you... I thought I heard crying?” The last sentence was more of a question than a statement and Lance could hear the hesitation.

He really couldn’t deny this, but he could try.

“You know, I snore kinda loud.” Lance let out an empty laugh. “That might have been what you heard.”

He’d gotten good at lying, huh.

“Oh,” Keith muttered, and then -- he smirked. “Such grace, much poise.”

Lance’s face flushed despite his statement being a blatant lie. “Excuse me!” He pouted. “Even the most perfect people have flaws, okay?”

“Well then. I guess I’ll have to let you off to your beauty sleep, since you’re so perfect,” Keith teased. A small smile rose to his face and Lance couldn’t help but mimic it. He was suddenly reminded of the day dream he had had, and he could feel his face starting to heat up once again, and his eyes met with Keith’s. His eyes looked nearly the same as his daydream and the smile fell from his face as he felt his heart racing. Lance could feel the urge to kiss Keith--

He slammed the door in Keith’s face.

“What the hell?!” Lance slipped down the door to sit on his butt. ‘Get a grip Lance.’

“Sorry.” Lance spoke a little hesitant. “I just -- I’m a little tired.” Lance had no good excuse for this one. He probably seemed weird.

Wait.

Did Keith reference a meme. ‘I can’t--’

“Keith. Did you just referenced to the doge meme--”

He could hear Keith running away laughing. “Glad you’re feeling better!”

He laughed, head falling back to rest on the door. Oh god, he was probably going to fall in love with this boy.

He closed his eyes. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to get his heart broken though.

Chapter Text

A few days passed since the door incident, and Lance still got flustered when he thought about it. But Keith didn’t seem to bring it up -- he didn’t even seem mad. Which, granted, Lance was thankful for, considering the last thing he wanted was for his boss/housemate to dislike him.

He liked Keith. All feelings aside, he was a good person and Lance honestly enjoyed being in his company. He’d started to open up to Lance, and smiling much more too.

It made him happy that he was the cause of the smiles.

“Okay, so I need you to get the hay off of that platform.” Lance looked up at the platform that oversaw the barn and nodded, a determined look on his face. “They aren’t too heavy, but if you need help be sure to call for me.”

“Psh.” Lance brought up his arms and flexed, wiggling his eyebrows. “With guns like these, who’d need help? I got this.” Keith rolled his eyes at Lance’s theatrical performance and chuckled. Even when Keith was annoyed, Lance could still get him to laugh and smile. Awesome.

“Okay, I got a few things I need to do. There’s a farmer’s market in a few days, and it’s the first in the season so I want to be prepared.” He patted Lance on the shoulder. “Good luck.” With that, he left the barn.

Lance looked back up to the platform. He could do this. It would be easy peasy.

Haha no.

Keith had to have been a weight lifter in his previous life, because holy hell this thing is heavy. He tried to lift it, but it just wouldn’t budge. He tried using the pitchfork too, but all he was doing was stabbing the thing.

‘Why does he need so much hay anyway?’ He glanced at the clock. He’d been at this for at least half an hour. ‘Goddamn.’

He looked around, trying to see if he could use something to help him with this simple task that was making his life difficult, when he saw a black horse.

Keith had told Lance that this horse has been with him his whole life. It was totally justified that he laughed when he learned that the name of the horse was Neighly. It sounded like a name a 4 year old would give a horse. Lance gave her a little scratch on the top of the nose -- she nickered at him that’s so cute -- then spotted some rope hanging by her wall.

‘Ah hah. Perfect.’

He grabbed the rope and brought it back up the ladder to the bail of hay. If he could pull the hay down from the bottom the whole thing would be a lot easier. He tied the rope around the wire that would holding the hay together and made sure it was tight before he hopped down the ladder and yanked hard.

‘Yes!’ he thought, when the hay tipped over the platform.

‘Oh no,’ he thought, when the hay fell and landed right on him.

He pushed it off and groaned when he stood up, thankful that he had at least not gotten a concussion. He stood up and winced in pain. Glancing down, he noticed the blood pouring out and running down his arm.

This was bad.

He quickly pulled off his shirt and tied it around the wound wincing. It stung like hell. He didn’t think it would need stitches, but the blood was flowing pretty fast and he could feel himself getting dizzy. He looked around and saw the blood staining on the floor, and quickly shoved hay over them. He didn’t want Keith to know this happened. It was a simple job, so he should have been able to do it with ease and now here he was bleeding profusely from his arm. He gasped in pain as he made his way back to the house.

He felt fur at his side. It was nudging at his side as he walked. He looked back and chuckled.

“Hey Fluffy, it’s okay.” Lance cooed in a small voice as he opened the door, letting the dog in behind him. “I just got a little banged up is all.” The fabric shifted on his arm, slightly reopening the wound, and Lance hissed, pulling the cloth tighter.

Fluffy whimpered. The dog looked clearly distressed and wouldn’t let Lance enter the bathroom by himself. Which made it a little hard to move around, but he wasn’t going to complain.

“Well,” Lance looked down at the dog. “At least somebody’s worried about me.”

He unwrapped the cloth on his arm, trying not to cry. The pain was getting worse, the loss of blood was making him dizzy, and the thought of cleaning the wound made him feel sick. He threw the shirt he had around the cut into the sink, and turned the water on, feeling it with his good hand to make sure it wasn’t too cold or hot. He braced himself and, taking a deep breathe, put his arm under the water.

“Fuck,” he hissed, Fluffy nudging his leg beside him. With his good arm, he brought a hand down to pet the dog to give him reassurance. The small lick he got before he pulled away was a little comforting. He looked back to the cut and sighed in relief that it looked much smaller without the blood. The blood still wasn’t stopping though, so he’d have to wrap it up. He opened the medicine cabinet and was relieved when a first aid kit was in plain sight. He carefully pulled it out and placed it beside him before going back in for the peroxide.

He let the bottle hover over his hand. This wasn’t going to be fun.

The moment the liquid touched his wound he clenched the sink so hard that his knuckles started to go white. He bit the inside of his cheek, and felt tears roll down his face as he poured a little bit more on to cover the rest of the cut. He placed the bottle down before rubbing his good hand down his face. He was nearly out of breath and could see the cut throbbing, the skin around it pulsing white every few seconds. He felt another nudge to his side and looked back down at Fluffy. He ruffled his head. Having the dog there made it a bit easier.

He finally patched up the cut and stuck his arm out and twisted it both directions to see if any blood was leaking out. When there was none, he exhaled, relief, and turned to look at the bloody mess in the sink and on the floor.

“Looks like a murder scene.” Lance sighed, trying to wipe the droplets off the floor before they became permanently stained. Wouldn’t want the pristine Keith to complain to him.

“Lance, you in there?” Speak of the devil. Lance flinched at the voice and his head collided right with the sink.

“Fuck!” He rubbed at his head with the bad arm on instinct, causing another spike of pain. He wasn’t having the best luck today. ‘Keith must never know. Maybe he needs to pee or something.’

“I went to go see how you were doing in the barn, and I saw blood on the metal of the hay bail? I should’ve told you they’re a bit sharp.” Lance inhaled sharply. “Shit, Lance, please say something?”

Keith’s voice was laced with pure concern, which made Lance flush. But he didn’t want Keith to worry about him though.

“Oh, that?” Lance spoke, his voice a bit strained. “Just cut my arm. Minor injury.” He looked into the sink where it looked like he had chopped his arm off. “Everything’s absolutely peachy.” No big deal that it’s such a blatant lie. He just hoped Keith wouldn’t open the bathroom door, because then Lance would just die of embarrassment on the spot.

‘Should’ve cleaned the bloody blood off,’ Lance thought, cursing silently.

A pause. Then, “I’m coming in.”

Lance yelped and pushed his body against the door. “No no no, you are not getting in here--”

“I am coming in.” Keith shoved against the door, almost with no effort at all, and entered the bathroom to see a bleeding Lance and an excited Fluffy. Keith’s eyes went wide when they landed on the bloodied sink, then shifted to Lance’s bandaged arm.

Fluffy was beside Lance, nudging his leg when he averted his gaze. His face going all shades of red -- he felt embarrassment flood his whole body. Keith probably would laugh at him for fucking up so bad. Or get really really mad for dirtying his bathroom.

“Lance…” Keith’s voice was small, barely a whisper. It caught Lance off guard. He felt a gentle touch on his bad arm and felt Keith lifting it up gently. Lance turned to Keith -- his eyebrows were furrowed as he inspected at the wound, and it just confused Lance.

Keith looked up into Lance’s eyes. He’d never seen Keith with such a pained expression again.

“It’s really not as bad as it looks, I promise,” Lance managed, looking down again. “I guess I should have gotten your help, huh? I’m sorry I didn’t get the job done.” Lance huffed a laugh, attempting to lighten the mood.

A hand caressed his cheek and his mind went blank.

His breathing stopped for a moment. Keith’s hands were in his normal fingerless gloves, but his fingers felt soft to the touch. Lance braced himself and looked up. His eyes landed on Keith’s and he stopped breathing.

Keith’s eyes were hard and he looked a bit mad, but in those eyes -- with what he hoped wasn’t wishful thinking -- he could see genuine concern. The hand that was on Lance’s wrist was tugged him closer, and he waited for Keith to speak, his breath caught in his lungs.

“Listen to me, Lance.” His voice was low and angry, but the way he was holding Lance said something else entirely. “I don’t give a shit about the job. I saw blood and got really worried. I didn’t know if you had cut your face or something and it scared me. Why you’d try to hide it is beyond me. But.” Lance gulped, Keith looked like he was getting closer. “That could’ve been way worse. I’m glad you’re okay.”

Lance tried to speak, but nothing came out. He was just in a state of shock, because Keith was being so caring and gentle, and the genuine concern in his voice was piercing. Lance felt like he was suffocating.

“Thank you...” Lance whispered. He looked back to the sink and sighed. He felt bad for the mess.

“Don’t thank me, stupid.” Keith was back to his normal self. Lance’s eye twitched. “Go put a shirt on, I’ll clean this.”

“Are you sure?” Lance was hesitant to let Keith clean, since it was his mess and all.

“Yes, I’m sure. Besides, you shouldn’t move your arm too much. It’ll bleed more.” Keith pushed him out the bathroom and dragged Lance into his bedroom. “Your mother is going to kill me if she hears what happened,” Keith muttered.

Lance couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Nah, she won’t. She’s basically in love with you anyway.”

“Yea, yea, whatever.” Keith walked out of the room, probably back to the bathroom to clean the mess.

Lance smiled. His arm was still aching but that didn’t matter. He sat on the floor in front f his reflection, sighing contented.

Why would he like you? You’re nothing special.

Lance shook his head. Nope. Not tonight. He was gonna be happy about what just happened, and that’s final. He brought a hand to his face and felt the spot that Keith had been caressing before. His face heated up at the thought of it becoming a daily occurrence.

“Ugh.”

He put his face into his palms and shook his head a few times. He was in too deep -- at this rate there would be no turning back.

****

Two days had passed. Lance was helping Keith load up his pickup truck with various fruits and veggie crates. Apparently Keith had a garden beside the barn and it produced quite a lot so he often would bring the food to farmers markets. That’s how he made his money, and he did pretty well for himself. If he didn’t sell it all it wasn’t the end of the world because then he could just feed it to his animals he had at home.

Lance had to give Keith credit, before Lance had shown up he had to do all this himself. He couldn’t even imagine how hard that would be to do, even if he only has a tiny farm.

Lance and Keith had been discussing the payment he would be receiving and Lance was shocked when Keith had told him he could take half of the farmers market earning. Lance tried to fight him on it, but then again, the stubborn guy wouldn’t budge.

“You know you could stay back?” Keith finally spoke, wiping his sweaty forehead. “Your arm is still in a pretty bad condition.”

“You’re only right at the pretty part.” Lance’s arm was throbbing in dull pain due to the activity, but he wanted to help Keith, so what’s wrong with a little pain? “I’ll be fine. These things aren’t that heavy anyway.”

Just as he was about to pick up another crate, Keith pulled it from his hands. “Look, I can see you’re in pain. You look constipated.”

“I do not.”

“Yea you do.”

“Do not.”

“Do too.”

Lance narrowed his eyes at Keith. “Well if I look constipated then--”

Keith leveled at him with an unimpressed look.

Lance pouted and turned away. As much as he hated to admit it, Keith was right. He shouldn’t be using his arm so much since it was still healing, but he felt wrong if Keith did all the work. “Whatever, Mullet.”

“Stop calling me that.”

He stuck his tongue out at Keith childishly. “Make me.”

Keith furrowed his eyebrows at him but said nothing.

After a few minutes they both hopped into the truck and made their way to the market. The radio was playing some country song softly. Lance was quick to roll his window down and take a look at the scenery. The sun was just rising, and he could see the clouds were a pinkish blue. The yellow grass glowed yellow over the horizon. He leaned his head on his hand and smiled as they drove down the empty road.

It was plain, but it was breathtaking.

“Y’know, I think my favourite thing about living out here is the sunrise.” Lance turned to the voice and watched him, his mouth parting when he saw the smile on Keith’s face. It was soft, and tender and his eyes were half lidded. Lance’s heart skipped a beat. “It’s so peaceful and quiet, and there’s nothing else you need to worry about. I really enjoy silence; it brings me peace.”

Lance stared at him with a warm smile. “Really.” His heart was swelling with affection at the sight of Keith talking about something that was passionate to him. “That’s nice.” He looked back to the road, waiting for Keith to continue -- he didn’t. It was a nice silence though. Lance couldn’t keep the smile off his face, and at one point he saw Keith's eyes on him.

“Eyes off the masterpiece and on the road, Mullet.” Lance had no real malice in his tone as he spoke, a small laugh escaping him. Keith’s head snap back to the road, face flushing as he muttered a small apology.

Lance stared at him. Had Lance made him… Blush? He shook his head. Nah, he must be seeing things. Lance turned away and leading his hand into his hand. His face was a darker shade now and his heart was racing. But what else was new.

They made it to the small farmer's market -- Lance instantly fell in love. There were tiny stalls filled with veggie and fruit lined up side by side. They made their way past the stalls and he smiled at everyone he saw. Most of the people there were old, and they all seemed so sweet. Keith waved at a few people as they drove to their designated spot.

Lance got out of the car, stretching and yawning. It was only 7am and they’d probably be here all day depending on how well they sell, so he was hoping he could stay awake. The cut on his arm still ached, but since Keith had banned him from all heavy lifting it was starting to ease up.

“Interesting. Nice to meet you, my boy.” Lance turned at the unfamiliar voice. He was met with a nice looking old man with orange hair and an orange mustache. ‘Interesting indeed.’

Lance laughed. “Yeah. Mullet Head over here finally decided he needed a little help around the barn,” Lance joked, offering his hand in a handshake. He could see the old man eyeing his arm and waved him off dismissively. “Ah. Hay bail incident. Lesson: don’t be reckless around a hay bail with metal wiring around them.”

They chatted while Keith unloaded the truck. The man introduced himself as Coran, and when Lance had let it slip that he found the name weird, Coran just laughed and agreed with him. ‘What a nice man.’

When Keith had finally put everything he brought on display, he came over. Coran wrapped him in a hug almost instantly. Keith looked like he was trying to act annoyed, though Lance could see a tiny smile on his lips.

“I see you have a new farm hand!” Coran exclaimed, patting Keith on the shoulder and gesturing to Lance. Lance tried suppressing his laughter at how uncomfortable Keith seemed to be with the casual touching. “He seems like a keeper -- he seems to really like it with you.”

Lance froze. He look to Keith, who had an eyebrow raised, and prayed to whatever god was listening to strike him with a lightning bolt right then and there. He knew he shouldn’t have gushed so much to the old man.

“Is that so?” Keith teased, nudging Lance’s arm. “Never knew you’d like to be with me.”

Lance laughed awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck, then looked away. His face was on fire and from the corner of his eye he could see Coran giving him a look.

He knew what that look meant. Hunk would have given him the same look if he was here right now. He screamed internally.

“Don’t get too cocky there, Mullet,” Lance teased back, escaping to behind the stand to take a seat. He saw Coran bidding Keith goodbye and noticed how Coran ruffled his hair before leaving.

The day went by slowly, and Lance wanted to whine and complain about how bored he was -- the farmer’s market didn’t have any signal either, which was disappointing, since Lance had been wanting to call Hunk and Pidge -- but he refrained from doing so. He didn’t want Keith to smack him in annoyance.

Keith had just sold one of the crates they had when Lance saw a group of girls. He perked up. He had a brilliant idea.

“Hello ladies.” Lance slid up to them, smiling and ignoring the weird look he got from Keith. The group of girls turned to him, curious. “May I interest you in some beauty tips? Not like you need any, but still.” They giggled at the compliment, a chorus of “Oh you”s and “You know your stuff”s chiming. “I’ve got this great DIY tomato face mask recipe, and it does wonders for the skin. For proof, voila.” Lance pointed dramatically to himself and let the girls touch his arms and face. “And to pair off with the face mask, why not buy some cucumbers? Keep your eyes fresh for the day. You can also snack on them as much as you want to too; they have low calories.” The girls were getting interested, so he tried steering the conversation into the right direction and started to spill some of his beauty secrets with them, dropping a few flirty remarks here and there.

He could feel Keith’s annoyance without even looking at him, but when he had gotten the girls to bye a full crates worth of vegetables and fruits for face masks -- they were lovely people, really -- he looked at Lance like he had grown two heads.

“How did you do that?” Keith demanded, closing the tin he had for the money they had made.

“It’s all charisma, Keith. Not that you have any,” Lance teased, leaning back in his seat. He could see Keith roll his eyes, gone back to reading his book, and smirked. He wondered if he could make Keith jealous by flirting with some more people. There was no harm in it. Besides, if it got them business, it was well worth it.

The whole day was spent with Lance flirting with people who passed by giving them cooking tips and beauty tips and he even chatted up a few guys. But Keith didn’t even take his eyes off the book he was reading. Lance pouted a bit, but he couldn’t help but feel accomplished it was nearing the end of the day and they had sold almost their whole load. There was only one basket let. He was chatting up a group of girls when he saw someone walk up to the booth, and he couldn’t help but listen in on the conversation.

“Wow, there isn’t much left,” The mysterious man cooed, grinning at Keith. “Mind if I take you home instead?” Lance at that point had stopped talking to the girls and let them walk away, straining his ear to hear the conversation. He turned to get a good look at the situation. Keith had looked up from his book and his face was flushed as the man handed him what looked to be a paper with his number on it.

Lance felt his heart sink.

He’s probably better than you in every single way.
You are replaceable anyways, Keith doesn’t need you
No one needs you.

Lance once again shoved the thoughts down. Keith was his friend. If he got a boyfriend, he would be happy for him, even if it’d tear him up inside.

“What’s that?” he asked with an easy smile, gesturing to the note.

“Some guy gave me his number. I’m not too interested though,” Keith admitted, shrugging, tossing it onto the table. “He started off with some pickup line you would use, and it was an immediate no from me.” Lance could see the grin on his face and he himself felt a smile come over him.

“Yeah, well, he seemed like a real tool anyway. Someone like you could do way better.” Lance averted his gaze and rubbed his neck, face flushing.

The sun was setting. Lance looked over to Keith, basked in sunlight. He looked gorgeous. He had a playful grin and he rolled his eyes before looking away.

“Like who?”

Not me.

Lance pushed the nagging thought down and started to blush more. He had just dug himself a hole, that’s for sure. He sputtered, but thankfully a familiar face came by to interrupt.

“So it looks like you boys did good today!” Coran beamed, his arms crossed at his chest. “It seems that having Lance here really helped you out with sales. Doesn’t it?”

“Wait, really?” Lance nearly shot up from his chair. He was way too excited for this information. But it made him happy. He wanted to help Keith, even if it was just something simple like this. “But I mean, you know. It was just because I wanted to flirt with people,” Lance tried backtracking, but he knew he didn’t convince either of them when they both gave him a knowing smirk.

“Yeah, actually I’ve never sold everything before,” Keith admitted. “Having Lance here was really good for sales. I think I might just have to bring him around here more often.”

Lance tried to contain his smile, but he failed. He was beaming. It felt nice to be praised. It felt nice to be praised by Keith.

“Either way boys, I’m glad you had a good night. I’ll see you in a few weeks, yeah?” Lance looked at Keith who was already nodding and smiled. Coran turned to him snapped Lance to his attention. “And you, Lance. Take good care of Keith for me, will ya?” Lance’s eyes widened, cheeks darkening.

He smiled none the less. “Yeah, I can do that.”

*****

Lance had offered to drive home. Regrets were made.

The drive wasn’t very long. Probably only an hour, but that didn’t stop him from getting bored and tired. The sky had turned to a dark blue and the sun was already mostly set. The moon was shining above as Lance drove, turning to see that Keith had his head against the window, fast asleep.

Lance smiled fondly, then made a mental note to avoid any bumps in the road. The road was barren anyway, so it wasn’t hard. To ease some of his boredom he decided to kick on the radio, just barely above a whisper. Anything to break the silence.

The songs that played were all songs Lance had heard a million times, though he still felt comforted by the noise. He found himself humming and eventually softly singing to some of them. At one point, he noticed Keith shift and continued to sing with a small smile on his face.

He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but the first signs of love were sprouting. Quickly.

Chapter Text

“Fuck.”

That was all Lance said when he turned to his clock beside his bed and read the time.

He had tried to sleep. He had his eye mask and his headphones on. Those usually always helped, but not last night. He groaned again, frustrated, before shifting to sit on the edge of the bed, trying to psyche himself to get ready for the day.

It had been a week since the farmer’s market. Nothing really spectacular had happened since then, but his arm apparently had gotten infected, so Keith had taken it upon himself to clean and repatch the cut everyday.

Oh yeah. He was also falling in love with Keith, but that was something he didn’t want to think about.

1:28am

He pushed himself off his bed with a small whine and stretched. He was wide awake and his thoughts wouldn’t stop running rampant out of his control. It was embarrassing to admit, but Keith was what mainly occupied his mind nowadays.

He would still think about his family and Hunk and Pidge, of course. But Keith. He was there all the time. Lance would unconsciously think about his smile or his laugh or the face he made whenever he said something snarky.

It wasn’t like he was in love though. This was just a crush. Nothing more, nothing less. He could easily just stop thinking about Keith if he wanted. He was sure of it.

The real question -- did he want to?

When he thought about Keith, sometimes annoyance would swell up inside of him because of some of things Keith did. But now it seemed that that feeling had manifested into something more. Some kind of adoration. Love.

Nope, Lance thought, flopping back on his bed. He refused to believe it.

Lance, after a while of internal debate, realized just how dry his throat was and decided he could go for some water. Maybe even sneak in a midnight snack. He opened his door slowly, trying to make less noise, and looked out to see the dark hallway. Lance could see that Keith’s door was closed next to his, and he breathed a sigh of relief. Keith always got mad when Lance had midnight snacks. Something about it being “unhealthy”?

Lance chuckled softly. What did Keith know? He could eat whenever he wanted. Time wasn’t real anyway.

He slowly made his way down the stairs and when he got halfway down he started to hear a muffled sound. It sounded like crying. Lance furrowed his eyebrows and crept downstairs quietly. He found Keith on the couch, with a bottle of alcohol on the table. He couldn’t see the label due to the dim lighting, but he could smell it. He shifted a little and saw Keith turn to face him. He had tears streaming down his face, and a little bit of snot running from his nose. He had to hold back a chuckle when Keith wiped the snot onto his arm, giving it a gross look afterwards.

“What are you doing?” Keith asked, words slurring, as Lance went into the kitchen and grabbed some paper towels.

“Well, since you’re drunk and I’m the only responsible adult here, I gotta make sure you don’t die.” Lance had no malice in his voice. The times his older siblings had to call him for a ride home when they were drunk were uncountable, so he wasn’t unfamiliar with this behaviour.

“I’m not drunk,” Keith whined, not sounding very convincing. “I’m just a lil tipsy.”

Lance could tell Keith wasn’t completely hammered, but Keith probably had enough to where he’d have a hangover the next morning. Lance was already thinking of which pancake recipe he would use, since he was used to making hangover breakfasts for his older siblings. He walked over to Keith and picked up the bottle. He didn’t know how much there was before Keith started to drink, but the bottle felt light. He placed it back down and grabbed Keith’s arm, slowly lifting him up.

“Noooo,” Keith whined. “Let me be sad, I wanna wallow in self pity.”

Lance couldn’t help but laugh when Keith flopped back down onto the couch. Okay, so maybe Keith was a little bit more drunk than he thought.

“Okay, okay, tone it down edge lord.” Lance laughed, giving in and sitting beside him now. “What’s got you down?”

“Everything,” Keith whined. “My parents are dead and my brother doesn’t want to see me because of this damn house.”

Lance froze, not knowing how to handle the information he had just been told. This felt way too personal. He knew this was stuff he probably wasn’t supposed to know. If Sober Keith hadn’t told him, then this was off limits info, so he opted to stopping Keith before he could go any further.

“And the guy of my dreams seems to have no feelings at all for me!” Keith continued, tears starting up again. Lance’s eyes widened.

He was about to be very selfish.

“And who exactly...” Lance started hesitantly, “is this dream guy?”

“You, stupid! You’re so pretty,” Keith hiccuped between words, eyes lidded. That wasn’t the answer Lance was expecting, so he was surprised to say the least.

But Keith was drunk. Drunk people say things they don’t mean when they’re drunk.

Of course he has to be drunk to think of you as a dream guy. Have you seen yourself? The way you act? Why would you be anyone’s dream guy?

“Hah, good one,” Lance spoke, fake cheeriness in his voice. He hated this. He hated that he had asked. “You should get some sleep though, Mullet.”

“No, I really mean it! You’re my dream guy,” Keith murmured, falling onto Lance, and if this happened at literally any other time he would be blushing and happy, but now he was just upset. He swiftly brought Keith into his lap, using his arms to support Keith, and stood up. Keith froze in his arms.

“Enough with the jokes,” Lance whispered, keeping his voice soft, unable to keep out the hint of sadness. He made his way to the stairs, trying to keep Keith in his arms.

He looked down. Keith’s face was a dark red, his eyes wide, his lips parted. It would be so so easy to just kiss Keith. Maybe he would even get over him if he did. But he couldn’t, not when he was drunk. Not when Lance couldn’t trust the words he was saying.

He thought back to what Keith had said when he confronted Keith. He felt a shiver go down his spine. It was clear that Keith had a lot of emotional trauma, and Lance would be there for all of it if he needed to be.

Getting Keith into bed was a struggle.

“C’mon, you don’t have to leave,” Keith pouted, drawing out his words. He was lightly tugging at Lance’s shirt. “Stay with me.”

Lance wanted to. He wanted to so bad. Heck, he’d been thinking about cuddling Keith since he had arrived.

“A a matter of fact, I do have to leave.” Lance laughed, brushing some of the hair out of Keith’s eyes. “Wouldn’t wanna be the first to get hit when you barf.”

Keith whined, trying to pull Lance down. Lance simply laughed and pulled Keith’s hand away from his shirt. He noticed Keith deflate and slowly leaned down, kissing his forehead. He pulled away, the flush on Keith’s face prominent, and started to realize what he had done.

He was so fucked.

“Listen mullet, as much as I want to cuddle, I would rather do it when you are sober.” Lance sighed and stood up from his seated position on the side of the bed. Keith was bundling himself up with blankets like a cocoon and Lance wanted to die. This was going to honestly kill him. He needed to leave now, before he could do anything he may regret. Sure, cuddling might not be that bad, but he has to stay for 3 months. He’d rather keep the awkward encounters to a minimum.

He walked out of the room, then turned back just for one last look. Keith was snoring softly, breathing silent and sleeping soundly.

He smiled softly. “‘Night, Keith.”

When Lance got back to his room, he took a glance at the clock and groaned. There was no way he was getting any sleep now, so he decided to head back down for a midnight snack. He made his way downstairs and yawned, rubbing his tummy and strutting to the kitchen. And then he stopped at the sight of the dogs.

The four dogs were all huddled together. All of the dogs were either on top of or wrapped around Fluffy, who was constantly moving, so they were tumbling down over and over again, before climbing back on top of Fluffy. Lance snorted at the pure cuteness. He had a dog when he was younger, but living in the city made it hard. He remembered that when his dog died, his parents had told him the dog ran away, but he wasn’t gullible. He knew what it meant.

All in all, it was nice to be around animals again. They were almost like siblings, but less talkative and annoying. He chuckled at that thought. Not much like his own siblings, really. They were always a rambunctious bunch, full of life and happiness and whatnot.

He wondered how long it had been since he had felt real happiness. He had gotten really good at faking, that’s one thing he knew. When he was with Hunk and Pidge, he was more or less happy, but there was always this voice in the back of his head. Telling him they hated him, or just tolerated him at best. He’d learned to ignore those thoughts when it came to Pidge and Hunk though. They were his best friends, and he didn’t want to doubt them. He had gotten pretty good at ignoring the thoughts.

But now they were on full blast.

It was probably because of Keith. Lance knew full well the feelings he harbored for Keith were immense. There wasn’t a point to try deny it anymore. When Keith had told Lance he was Keith’s dream guy, his heart was racing and his stomach was flipping. He wanted to believe it, and for a second he did, before his mind came along.

He was good at ignoring it at first, but with Keith it was just so hard. He genuinely believed Keith was too good for him. Besides, he was only here for three months anyway. It was likely that after this three months they’d never see each other again. Keith would be busy with the farm, and Lance would have to start thinking about college.

His heart sank. He didn’t want to believe it, but he knew this was how it would be. They would part ways and that would be it. Lance should have been okay with that? They were friends, and he could live with that. Right?

He would have to.

Lance carefully tip toed over the dogs and, after petting each of them lightly on the head, got his snacks. He looked out the kitchen window, munching on the sandwich he had made, fascinated with the sky, and the stars, and the stories behind them.

Ever since he was a kid, he would look out his bedroom window and wish he could up there with them. He wanted to explore the universe, just like every other kid had wanted. Not anymore though. Those dreams, he left them behind from a long time ago.

A smile crept up onto his face and he slowly opened the door, leaving the kitchen. The cold air was quick to surround him, and he shivered, regretting not bringing out his jacket. He took a step down the porch onto the grass, damp from the dew collecting, and inhaled the scent of it all. The sky was still dark, but he could see the pink of the coming sunrise seeping into the clouds in the sky. He leaned backwards and opened his eyes, met with a sky that was full of stars. It was incredibly breathtaking and beautiful.

At that moment, he felt truly at peace.

Lance didn’t know how long he’d been outside, but when he finally went back in, his toes and fingers hurt from the transition of being cold to warm. He shivered, breathing slowly.

“I’m still hungry,” he said out loud to the empty room.

Keith would probably wake up soon (his alarm is set really early in the morning). Lance knew that with how much alcohol Keith had there was a chance he would be feeling terrible.

Lance decided on pancakes and started to get to work. Cooking always gave him good memories. He thought back to all the times Keith almost burnt down the kitchen and chuckled lightly. He had to admit Keith was at least improving, able to make meals without causing bodily harm, which Lance was proud of.

He could hear Keith trudging down the stairs just as he started making it, and when he saw the boy he couldn’t help but laugh. Keith’s hair was messed up and, probably because he lost his pants sometime in the middle of the night, he stood at the door with a drool stained T-shirt and a pair of boxers that had dogs on them.

Lance almost choked on his own spit, but restrained himself. Not in love. He was not in love. That was all he could keep saying in his mind.

“What are you making?” Keith voice was low and husky from sleep and Lance took a moment to compose himself.

“Just some pancakes. Somebody decided to do a little drinking last night, so I assumed you’d want something for the hangover.” It was probably for the best if he left out details.

Keith looked confused.

“How did you know that?” was all Keith managed. He sat down by the table, running a hand down his face.

“I brought you to bed at like 1am,” Lance said, looking down at the food he was making.

“Wait… you.. You what?” Lance could hear the panic in Keith’s voice. His face heated up at the poor choice of words and quickly turned to Keith to explain the situation.

Things turned sour real fast.

“Wait, no! I didn’t mean--” Lance hadn’t realized he’d knocked the pan off the element before it was too late. The hot pan hit his leg, and if that wasn’t bad enough the hot batter had splattered onto his leg. He let out a cry at the searing pain and jerked back on instinct, shutting his eyes tight and braced for impact.

It never came. He felt a strong arm around his back, opening his eyes to see Keith, who was currently holding him. His breath caught in his throat and tried regaining his footing, pushing himself away from Keith, but the burn caused him to fall forward.

“Woah, woah, take it easy,” Keith spoke softly, two hands gripping Lance’s shoulders. “That burn looks... pretty bad, so just…. Just sit down here. I’ll get something for it.”

Keith gently brought Lance to the table and sat him down. He watched Keith step over the mess he made and turn off the element before running upstairs.

Lance’s eyes were drawn back to the mess when he was alone. Why did this always happen? Could he ever do anything right?

He couldn’t help but start crying. He was so frustrated with himself. He heard Keith make his way down the stairs and tried to wipe the tears away, but it was no use. Keith had already noticed.

“Hey, it’s okay.” Keith set the kit on the table. “It won’t hurt as much when I put the ointment.”

“It’s not that.” Lance hated this. He looked away and more tears came.”I just -- I made another mess. And you have to bandage me up. Again. I’m so stupid.”

“Lance, it’s fine.” The sincerity in Keith’s voice made Lance look at him. Keith had a small smile on his face as he cleaned off the batter. “Besides, you’re not stupid. You’re just clumsy.”

Lance chuckled, feeling only slightly better, but the tears wouldn’t stop falling. A tear hit Keith’s leg and got him to look up at Lance. Lance tried to wipe them away again, bringing his hand up to his face, but Keith gripped his wrist lightly. He sniffled, embarrassed, and tried to look away.

Keith’s other hand rose and stayed on his cheek. His thumb was gently rubbing away at the tears, but the action only made it worse. Lance lowered his head, a small sob escaping him. The hand on his wrist held him a little tighter and the thumb on his cheek was pushing a little harder.

“I just feel so useless.” Lance didn’t like where this was going. He didn’t like to share his feelings, only really sharing them with his sister. It was so hard to open up to others. He feared rejection. Especially from Keith. “It feels like no matter what I do, I’ll never be worth anything. There’s always this voice in my head--”

Lance stopped abruptly, pursing his lips. He got his point across. A soft pressure pushed against his forehead, and when he looked up, his eyes met with Keith’s a soft stare. He tried to look away but Keith put both hands on his cheeks and held his face there.

“This might not help but -- having you here has helped me, in ways I can’t even describe. You are worth so much.” The words were so genuine that Lance couldn’t help but feel his face heat up. “Everyone messes up. It’s okay for things like this to happen. It doesn’t make you any less valuable.”

Lance chuckled.“Who knew you had such a way with words, huh?” Tears still streamed down his face, but he smiled, nonetheless. His chest was fluttering and he leaned into Keith’s forehead.

“I just don’t want you to feel worthless,” Keith whispered. “I haven’t even known you that long, but I know for a fact you’re a really great person to be around.”

“Aww, of course I am.” Lance moved away, still smiling. He brought a hand up and ran it through his hair, but all he was met with was a small sigh and an eye roll. He giggled, though the tears staining his face weren’t helping him with his act.

Keith moved down and applied the ointment on the burn. The pain had died down through the whole exchange, though it still stung. When the ointment went on he hissed, flinching away from Keith’s hands. Keith looked up to him with worried eyes. Lance, with a stronger resolve, slowly moved his leg back and bit his lip. Keith dabbed at the wound again, this time lightly, and small whine escaped him, but he dealt with the pain, clenching his fists tightly.

He couldn’t help notice how gentle Keith was being and his heart sped up. He was being so precise with every move like Lance was glass and it made him feel special.

Finally the bandage was around his leg. Lancee stood up, and his leg ached and the burn hurt but at least it felt better. He stretched, groaning, and went to clean the mess, but was stopped by Keith.

“I’ll clean this up, you heat up the pancakes you made.” Lance nodded, smiling, and stepped over the mess grabbing the plate of now room temperature pancakes. He threw them into the microwave and waited as he watched Keith clean the mess.

He’d be lying if he said his eyes hadn’t wanted to stare at Keith’s butt.

They sat down at the dining table, breakfast made. It was a comfortable silence, but Lance noticed Keith was playing with his food. He wanted to ask what was wrong, but Keith spoke before he could.

“Uh, so... what did I say… when I was drunk.” He seemed a bit worried. Lance thought back to the information that slipped out of Keith, and decided to conveniently leave that part out and keep the conversation lighthearted.

“Oh, just about how I’m your dream guy.” Lance grinned, words spoken in a joking tone, or a trying one anyway.

The look on Keith’s face was utter mortification. Somehow, Lance had expected this. He tried not to let his his ego take too much of a hit. “R.. really?”

“Nah, I’m just kidding dude.” Lance knew this was better. He didn’t want to be rejected by Keith, and the last thing he wanted was a pity confession just because he cried his eyes out over a little spilled batter and a burn.

“Oh, okay, good.” Lance laughed at the clear relief in Keith’s voice. He wasn’t used to seeing Keith so worried about something. He assumed it was because Keith didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. He was about to respond when Keith cut him off.

“I was thinking, when you are all healed up… I wanna teach you how to ride Red.” Lance’s eyes went wide. Keith wanted to teach him how to ride a horse. He couldn’t help but remember every romance movie ever written that included the main couple bonding over riding a horse. “Red is a little bit temperamental, but I bet she’d like you.”

“You think so?” Lance was still fantasizing about the movies. “I feel like she would throw me off in a second.”

“Nah.” Keith laughed. “She’s not that mean, she might just not move with you on her. But you have her energy so it should be fine. Besides, how can you live on a farm and not know how to ride a horse?”

“Well Mullet, I’m only here for 3 months so I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I can’t exactly ride a horse back in the city.” Lance laughed at his own comment, but when he noticed the hurt expression on Keith’s face he decided he would try to lighten up the mood. “Besides, being a hot cowboy is your thing, not mine.”

“You think I’m hot?”

Lance choked. A piece of pancake flew out of his mouth and onto the plate he had before him. Had he really said that outloud.

“W-Well, as hot as a guy can be with a mullet, I guess.” Lance noticed the smiling creeping back onto Keith’s lips and sighed. He loved to see his smile; it always seemed to ease his stress.

“I can’t believe The Lance McClain thinks I’m hot.” Keith was giggling now and Lance groaned. Keith would hold this over him forever.

“I take it back!” Lance yelled, throwing a piece of pancake at Keith. “You’re super ugly, and your mullet is stupid!”

“Mhmm, sure.” Keith laughed, getting up and putting his plate in the sink. Lance noticed how he rubbed at his temple and had almost forgot he probably had a hangover.

“Are you sure you are gonna be okay to work today?” Lance asked. “I mean, I can’t do much heavy lifting but I could do some other stuff. Besides, I haven’t been doing as much as work as I should be.”

“You’re injured.” Lance sighed. All it was was a cut and a burn. Nothing crazy.

“I can do stuff.” Lance insisted, ignoring the burn in his arm. “Give me a list! I’ll get it all done.”

“Lance…”

“Give me a list.” Lance was persistent. He would work regardless of the pain. Besides the wound could only get better right?

“...Fine.”

****

As the day dragged on, the weather got hotter. Lance could feel his hair sticking to his forehead as he worked. Keith hadn’t given him a lot to do, but it proved to be a lot tougher than he thought. He’d been working for 6 hours already and when he thought of Keith doing this everyday he no longer had to wonder how he looked hot. He felt his face heat up, and for a minute he had to stop himself. He liked Keith so much.

Fuck.

After a few more hours has passed he could feel his shirt sticking to his body, and before he could even think he pulled it off and threw it on his shoulder. His arm was starting to sting now due to the sweat, but he ignored it. His last job of the day was to put more hay into the barn, and it was already warm enough without the weather. When he finally finished, he rubbed his forearm across his face.The sweat was like a thick sheet. He’d need to put on a face mask tonight.

When he finally headed towards the door into the kitchen he could hear music, and when he peeked in his heart stopped. Keith was cooking, and he had a face mask on and he was humming to the music that was playing. Lance could see that Keith’s bangs were pinned back and he literally had to back away from the door. He couldn’t get rid of the smile on his face. He had to mentally prepare himself to enter the house now. He thought about all those movies he had seen where the one person was cooking and the other came in from behind for a hug. He blushed and put his face into his hands. Stop thinking about those things! He wasn’t even dating Keith.

After a few minutes of composing himself, he finally entered and when Keith turned to him Lance was confused by his wide eyes. Did he have something in his hair?

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Lance asked, leaning forward a bit, causing Keith to cough a little bit before looking back to the food. Lance had a sly grin. Was he making Keith flustered? “What’s wrong, Mullet?”

“Nothing. I just think all the sweat is gross.” Lance chuckled and patted Keith on the shoulder before making his way upstairs. He couldn’t help but have the last word.

“Next time you use my face mask, do ask. I have certain ones for ugly faces like yours.” Lance cackled when he heard Keith groan and made his way to the shower. He tried really hard to ignore the twisting of his stomach and the heat that was creeping onto his cheeks.

Chapter Text

It was almost the end of June, and Lance could feel the homesickness creeping up on him. He called home every few days but it wasn’t the same. He wanted to see them. He wanted to eat his mother’s cooking, and get tackled by his younger siblings. It wasn’t fun to feel lonely. He knew he had Keith, but it wasn’t the same as his family. He and Keith still had a long way before they were close, which Lance was okay with, but he was a social person. He was used to movie nights, and spa days, and random sing offs.

Keith had been a little distant lately. Lance didn’t exactly know why either. They’d talk fine while they worked, but after Keith seemed to eat and head straight to his room. He assumed Keith was just getting more tired lately, so he didn’t bring it up, but it still hurt. There was no internet out here, or cell service. He didn’t exactly have any options.

Lance thought back to the facemask Keith had been wearing and he nearly got whiplash from how quickly he stood up. Lance grabbed his face product and ran to Keith’s room. He knocked, and before Keith could even fully open the door Lance was dragging him out. Keith tried to break free and ask what Lance was doing but soon he stopped and gave up. The two of them ended up plopped on the couch and Lance wordlessly pulled out all of his beauty products, movements borderline frantic.

“I’m gonna give you a spa night!” Lance beamed, giving Keith a toothy grin. “You’ve been a little distant lately, so I decided you should relax a little, mullet.”

“Wait what?” was all Keith could muster.

“Well, you’ve just been eating and going to your room.” Lance admitted now looking at his hands where he fiddled with a tube. “So I think we should have, like, a bonding moment, y’know.”

“A bonding moment?”

“Y’know, where we do something and it makes us closer? A bonding moment?” Lance was looking up at Keith now and he gave a small shrug, a smile growing on his face.

“Fine, what do you have planned?” Lance beamed and jumped again, grabbing Keith’s arm and running to the kitchen, rummaging cupboard until he could find a blender. He cleaned out the dust and placed in on the counter, a large grin on his face. He turned to the fridge and grabbed out any fruits he could find -- strawberries, apples, anything -- and then he opened the freezer and pulled out the chocolate ice-cream he practically begged Keith to buy for him.

He started to cut everything up and he could feel Keith hovering behind him. At one point, his arm rested on Lance’s shoulder, causing Lance to flinch a bit. He sighed in relief because he had nearly cut himself when Keith placed his hand on him. God, he was in so deep.

After everything was cut, he put it all into the blender along with a scoop of ice-cream and pressed blend. But when nothing happened, he visibly deflated. He could hear Keith laughing behind him and turned to glare at him, but stopped when he saw the smile and the way his eyes wrinkled at the sides. His eyes widened and he felt his soul leave his body, once again.

“W - what?” was all he could manage.

“You don’t have it plugged in, idiot.” Lance sighed and plugged in the blender, finally pressing the button and watching everything get mixed together. He looked back to Keith and stuck his tongue out.

“I knew that, mullet.” Lance growled, no real malice in his voice. He watched as Keith laughed again, but turned away before it could make its mark on him. He was in love with Keith. No doubt.

Finally, he poured the smoothies and handed one to Keith. He watched the boy take a sip and the way his eyes widened made Lance feel accomplished.

“Holy shit.”

“Good?”

“Holy fucking shit.” Lance let out a laugh and watched as Keith drank more. He was practically chugging the thing before he pulled it out of his hands and held it away from him.

“You gotta savour it man, what the hell, Keith.” Lance held the smoothie up and since he was taller than Keith he had no problem holding the drink over his head. He giggled as Keith jumped, but the giggles stopped when the smoothie fell from his hands and got all over his hands and face.

Lance shrieked. “Oh fu--!” He noticed Keith stop and place his hands over his mouth. The fucker was laughing.

Lance grinned and looked at his own drink before drinking as much of it as he could and poured the rest on Keith. Sure he could have poured the whole glass, but he wanted to taste his masterpiece first. He grinned as Keith gasped and wiped away the smoothie from his face. Lance giggled and backed away, but Keith didn’t waste any time running to him and smearing the smoothie he had left on his hand into Lance’s face.

Lance held his wrists, but Keith was stronger than him and before they knew it they ended up on the ground. Keith was on top of Lance with his legs straddling Lance’s waist and, sure, he was flustered, but the whole situation was so funny he couldn’t help but laugh. When he finally looked up Keith’s eyes were wide and his mouth was parted. He smiled and raised his hand to Keith’s cheek, but instead of moving the smoothie from his face, he just rubbing more onto his face. Keith tried to pull away, but Lance was quick and switched their positions. Lance was on top of Keith with one arm on the ground and his other on Keith’s face. Keith had wide eyes once again, and Lance could feel the heat rising in his face. As well as his pants.

With that the two separated and Lance let out an awkward cough. God, he felt stupid. What if Keith thought he was weird?

“We should probably clean this up,” Keith finally spoke, a small grin on his face. The smile eased Lance and he started to help Keith clean, starting to realise that maybe getting smoothie ALL over the kitchen was a bad idea. When they finally finished, they both headed to the washroom. They both looked at each other, and then back to the single shower. Lance spoke first.

“You can go first. I think you have more on you.”

“No. I really think you should go first, Lance. You’re the guest here.”

“No. I. Think. You. Should. Go.” Lance was gritting his teeth now and pushing Keith into the shower, but Keith was strong so it was easy for him to pull Lance along, it was lucky they hadn’t tripped. Now they were both standing in the shower, but Lance felt at ease. At least they were fully clothed.

Wait, Keith was taking his shirt off. Lance watched with wide eyes and he wanted to die.

“Uh, are you not gotta get clean?” Lance jumped and quickly took off his shirt. Keith turned the water on and Lance literally felt like he was watching some sort of angel. He eventually looked away but was brought back to Keith when he felt a hot stream of water hit his face. He coughed a bit because some of the water got into his mouth and looked to Keith who was grinning. He tried to grab the shower head, but Keith was good at evading him. Lance laughed and in the heat of the moment he grabbed both of Keith’s wrists and pushed him against the wall. They were inches apart and their chests were touching. Lance let his smile fall and he found himself staring at keith. He noticed Keith’s eyes widen, but in a split second they were lidded and he was looking down. Lance felt himself heat up and he wanted to act on it, but before he could he felt a soft pair of lips on his own.

Keith was kissing him. Shirtless. In the shower.

Lance’s eyes shot wide open, and he felt like his face was on fire. But before he could even kiss back he was being pushed away. He looked at Keith who looked scared almost. His eyebrows were furrowed and he has a hand over his mouth. Lance felt his heart drop

Of course he would think this is a mistake. Why would he want to kiss you? You are so stupid for even thinking you had a chance.

Lance watched as Keith pushed past him and Lance didn’t even turn around. He just stood there. He closed his eyes and cleaned the rest of the smoothie off. He was glad the water was running because he was probably crying. Part of him wanted to believe he had a chance with Keith, but it was clear now that that was just some silly fantasy.

Finally, he turned the water off and took his pants off and grabbed a towel. He looked at the water trail from Keith and sighed. But noticed it didn’t go to his room like he had thought it would. Lance quickly got dressed into dry clothes and looked out and saw that there were droplets and water marks going down the stairs. He followed them and as he did he thought back to the kiss, and just all the times Keith was there for him. It hurt to find out Keith didn’t like him, but he’s used to it. He can handle the rejection. After all, he was only going to be with him for 2 more months. If that.

Lance felt his heart race up. What if Keith made him leave? He knew that even if Keith didn’t feel the same way he wanted to be around him and make him happy. Keith had told Lance that him being there helped. He wondered if that was a lie now.

When Lance noticed that the tracks went outside, he sighed and ran upstairs again and grabbed a sweater and a towel. It was nighttime, and if Keith was outside soaking then he’d freeze. As he stepped out into the cold, he shivered, and, noticing the open barn doors, he slowly made his way to the barn.

The water path continued and stopped at the ladder to the second loft. He slowly climbed up, making sure to hold onto the sweater and blanket. When he was up he saw the one and only Keith.

But... this wasn’t the Keith he knew.

The Keith he knew was constantly smirking, if not scowling. He was strong. Confident. Eyes filled with burning passion and determination.

This Keith was shivering. He had his face hidden in his hands. His body was wrecked up in sobs, and Lance realised he was crying.

This wasn’t like him. Lance wanted to never see Keith like this again.

“Hey.” Lance kept his voice soft, crouching in front of Keith, movement as quiet and slow as he could possibly manage -- he didn’t want to scare him. “I brought you a towel and a sweater. You’re gonna freeze the way you are.”

“I’m sorry,” was all Lance heard, muffled with the position he was in. “I don’t know why I did that. I think I just feel like this because I’ve been alone for so long. I’m sorry.”

Lance felt his heart sink, but nonetheless, he tried to ignore his thoughts. He wanted to help Keith. This wasn’t about him.

He just got desperate, and you happened to be here. He could never love you. Not with how selfish you are.

Lance shook his head and placed the towel over Keith’s head. He scooted beside the boy but kept his distance. He didn’t want to make Keith uncomfortable.

“I knew it was a bad idea to bring someone near me like this.” Keith finally spoke again. “I probably made you uncomfortable. We are -- were friends and I probably just ruined that.”

“I can forget about it.” Lance finally spoke, trying to keep his voice steady. “I can act like it didn’t happen. You really don’t have to worry.”

“...Really?”

“I’m positive.” Lance got out, feeling his chest grow tighter. He wanted to cry, to tell Keith that he didn’t want to forget. But he knew Keith didn’t really like him like that. He was just someone who was here. Convenient.

Lance was used to never being the first choice for anything. He could handle this.

“Besides, I only see you as a friend as well. So it’s no big deal.”

It hurt Lance to lie.

Just bottle everything up. It’s what you do best. He told himself, almost chanting it in his mind.

“Let’s get you inside, yea? You really might freeze -- your face is going all purple.” Lance finally found the courage to break the silence, and stood up offering Keith a hand. He pulled the boy up and frowned at the way he was shaking. “Also, put this on, you’re shivering.”

Lance turned away quickly and didn’t hear Keith follow him for a few seconds but he didn’t look back. He didn’t want to admit it but he was holding back tears. He had never really faced true rejection. Not from someone he really liked. Sure he had crushes, but with Keith it was different. They had been together for a month and he already wanted to do everything in his power to make him the happiest guy alive.

When they finally got inside Lance just made his way right to his room. He nodded to Keith before he finally closed the door. He felt a lump in his throat and he just wanted to sleep. But he had a headache now, due to the stress of this whole situation. And his arm was acting up again. It had been three weeks and the cut was still gross and it had started to leak of puss. Lance wasn’t very good at taking care of himself. He supposed he should tell Keith what was happening. He had made it seem like it was getting better, but really it had only gotten worse. Probably from all the farm work. He decided he would just clean it up and hope for the best.

****

The best didn’t come.

Lance woke up to a searing pain in his arm, and when he sat up he felt dizzy. This wasn’t good. He slowly made his way up to his mirror and he groaned. His skin was clammy and pale and he felt like he was dying. He really couldn’t get a break, could he?

“Hey, rise and shine, sleeping beauty.” Lance groaned at the sound of Keith’s voice. His head was throbbing and he just wanted silence. He walked to the door and slowly opened it, revealing his state to Keith.

“Holy shit, what attacked you last night?”

“Very funny.” Lance groaned. “I feel like I’m dying. I think this farm is trying to kill me, heck, maybe you are.”

‘As much as this sucks, at least it’s not awkward.’ Lance was glad the incident wasn’t affecting their friendship. Sure, the rejection hurt, but he still wanted to be friends with Keith.

“Just stay in bed today then. I’ll be back later to check on you.” Lance nodded and went back to flop on his bed. He pulled away the bandage he had put on last night and it stuck to his wound a little and he hissed. His eyes widened when he saw how bad it had gotten overnight. He went to clean it again and realized that he should probably tell Keith. But when he went back to his room he felt tired, and all he could do was sleep.

“Hey, Lance!” Lance fluttered his eyes open and was met with the concerned gaze of Keith. “Are you okay? You’re burning up.”

Lance tried to sit up, but when he did a pain shot through his arm and he let out a loud hiss. Keith quickly sat down on the bed and placed a supportive hand on Lance’s shoulder, which seemed to ease the pain a bit almost.

“Woah, you look really pale. Why didn’t you tell me you felt this sick?” Lance gritted his teeth and flopped back down onto the bed. Keith’s hand was now gently squeezing his shoulder. It was nice, domestic even.

Too bad it was platonic. Lance almost laughed at this.

“I was going too, but I fell asleep.” Lance opened his eyes a sliver and now Keith was fixated on his arm. He wanted to pull away but before he could the bandage was already being ripped off and he yelped a bit, sitting up and gripping his forearm tightly. He looked to Keith who was frozen. He looked scared, but it was different from the night before he looked like he has seen a ghost and his face went pale. Lance assumed Keith might be a little squeamish.

“Lance, this is… This is really serious.” Lance looked away and sighed. He knew it was, but the last thing he wanted to do was bother Keith. “How long has it been this bad?”

“I don’t know,” Lance said sheepishly, “maybe… a week?”

“Lance!” Keith sounded angry now which made Lance flinch a little. He knew he fucked up. He should have just told Keith to begin with, this wouldn’t be happening right now. “This is super bad, I’m gonna call my brother. He’s a doctor, okay?”

“I really don’t wanna bother him, you can just take me…” Lance tried to stop Keith, but he was cut off and it took him back a little when he sounded panicked.

“Just -- shut up, I’m calling him.” Lance did what he was told and looked down at his arm. It did look worse than before and it hurt much more than it had earlier.

‘Think happy thoughts.’

He wondered what Keith’s brother would be like. At least that distracted him.

“Shiro.” Lance listened to the conversation as Keith paced the room and the concern he had made Lance blush a little. He wanted to hate Keith, he wanted to lose feelings for him, but he knew that wouldn’t happen, even with rejection. He would just be stuck pining until he went back home, and hopefully, he’d find someone new. Or a distraction. Lance could hear Keith finally end the call and he looks relieved. “He says it looks bad but really all we need to do is douse it in peroxide and it should heal. How often have you used it?”

“Uh, only the first time I cleaned it.” Lance shrunk in on himself when he noticed the anger rise up in Keith’s features again.

“What the fuck Lance!” Keith almost yelled. “If this was worse you could have, like, lost your arm or something!” He groaned, clearly frustrated. “You know where I put the medicine, why didn’t you use it?”

Lance sighed, he knew why. He just felt dumb admitting it.

“It hurt too much.” Lance whispered, avoiding Keith’s gaze.

A sigh. “Come here.” Lance was being dragged out of the bed by Keith before he could even ask why. He was dragged to the bathroom and when Keith sat Lance down he quickly grabbed the first aid kit and opened it. “If you won’t clean it, I will, and I know it’s gonna hurt but it will hurt more if you need to get your arm. Godammit, Lance, you could’ve lost your arm. Stuff like this is serious.”

“Okay, fine, just… tell me when you are gonna pour it, okay?” Lance looked at Keith finally and his face softened. Lance remembered that his lips had been on his own not even 24 hours ago and he looked away again.

He wished Keith was even remotely hateable.

“Okay, I’ll poor in - Three. Two -.” Lance was struck with pain and let out a loud groan as the liquid went into the cut and bubbled up. He looked at Keith, who was grinning a little as he looked down at the cut. What a little fucker.

“That was low, even for you.” Lance groaned, watching as Keith pulled out a pair of tweezers and some cotton balls. Lance flinched when Keith started to rub away at the cut. It was already looking better, but he couldn’t ignore the pain. He bit on his cheek and a few times he almost drew blood. He noticed that Keith being very gentle. It was so shocking to Lance that someone like Keith could be this tender. He held Lance’s arm with no pressure at all and as he worked away on the dirt on the cut he made sure not to press too hard and if he did he looked up at Lance making sure he had the okay to go on. God Lance hated how easy it was to love this weird, socially stupid, mullet head.

“Why didn’t you tell me it got this bad?” Keith finally broke and silence, and Lance kept his head down. He wasn’t going to let his emotions spill again. Not like this.

“Lance.”

“It just felt stupid.” Lance sighed, a little louder than he had wanted. “Listen, I just figured you had more important things to deal with. Besides I didn’t even think it was this bad. So would you just lay off?”

“Fine.” Keith didn’t talk for a few seconds, and Lance was thankful that he had dropped the topic, but soon enough Keith broke the silence once again. “It’s not stupid, just tell me these things, okay?” Lance looked up and was met with an intense gaze. Keith meant business.

“Fine.” Lance groaned, clearly showing his annoyance at this whole exchange even though he was hiding a blush.

“You have to promise.”

“What do you want to pinky swear on it? Jesus Chri -.” Lance looked back to Keith and his hand was outstretched with his pinky out.

“Yes, pinky promise.” Lance tried to hold in his smile, but there was no way that was happening. Not after he just witnessed the edge lord that is Keith Kogane stick out his pinky for a pinky promise like a 5 year old making a promise on the school playground during recess.

Lance grinned as he linked his pinky with Keith’s shaking his head a bit. “Pinky promise. Are you happy now?”

“Yes, now stop moving,” Keith grinned, bringing Lance’s arm back to him. Lance was giggling, but it was soon replaced with a hiss when Keith continued to clean the cut. After a few minutes, Lance started to notice it already looked better, but it was definitely infected. Lance watched as Keith put antibacterial cream onto the gauze and laughed.

“This isn’t rocket science, mullet. You don’t have to be so precise.” Lance watched as a blush grew on Keith’s face and he smirked, he loved to get those kinds of reactions. Finally, the bandage was on his arm and he stretched it out a bit to look at Keith's handy work. “You’re way too good at this.” Lance laughed, looking back to Keith who was now wearing a frown, that made Lance’s heart hurt.

“When you’re alone for as long as I’ve been alone you gotta pick this kinda stuff up.” Lance’s felt his heart ache as Keith tried to force a smile. He was clearly not okay, and Lance knew it wasn’t right to bottle things in, even if he was the king of it.

“Well, you got me now.” Lance spoke, watching as Keith’s eyes widened. “I know I’m only here for three months,. But we are tight. Best Buds, Pals. I’ll visit you all the time!”

Lance turned his head to see a small smile forming onto Keith’s lips. He felt relieved almost, because this one wasn’t fake.

“Thanks Lance.” Lance felt his heart swell at the sincerity of the words.

“Okay, now.” Lance wanted to lighten up this situation. “How about we go and eat, knowing you you probably haven’t eaten yet, and I’m starved”

“I could eat right about now, what are you making me?” Keith laughed finally pulling away from Lance. He would have been lying if he said he didn’t miss the warmth.

“I’m wounded!” Lance shrieked as he watched Keith leave. “Besides you need to practice cooking more! What will you do after I leave.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage.” Keith grinned as he looked back at Lance. Lance grinned and finally followed him back down to the kitchen.

“Yeah right, you literally can’t pour yourself a bowl of cereal without help.” Lance closed his eyes and crossed his arms feeling proud of myself, but as he opened his eyes Keith was spitefully pouring a bowl of cereal. He rolled his eyes before pouring himself a bowl. “Okay, point proven. But what about actual cooking? You can’t live off take out! I can’t believe you get on my case for midnight eating when you probably survived on cup noodles and take out chinese.”

“Well, actually I think I’ll be okay I wrote down the recipes you’ve showed me.” Keith admitted nonchalantly making Lance’s eyes go wide.

“Wait really?” Lance didn’t really expect Keith to do something like that. But sure enough, Keith was up and reaching into one of the top shelves above the fridge. Lance suppressed a laugh when he had to jump a little to reach, why did Keith put it all the way up there?

“I was kinda embarrassed at first, but you are a huge dork so I figured you wouldn’t laugh at me.” Keith placed the book on the table and slid it over to Lance. Lance opened it and was met with the worst writing he had ever seen. He didn’t even know how Keith could read this. He went through the pages and his eyes caught a few little doodles of food and he giggled a bit, until he was met with a particular page that made him almost spit his milk out. Littered all over the page was little hearts and his name. His heart fluttered, but he couldn’t help but laugh. What even was Keith, he had no clue, but the guy surprised him everyday.

“Ooo what is this page?” Lance cooed, showing it to keith. Lance grinned at the sheer fear that showed in Keith’s eyes. Lance stood up as Keith looked ready to pounce. He held the book up and they both stood on one end of the circle table.

“That… That was… Give me the book, Lance.” Keith groaned. “It’s a… different Lance.”

“Hmm, you know I would believe that if we weren’t literally living together.” Lance sent a devilish grin to Keith as he backed away from the table. Looking through the book again. “I wonder if there are any more.” Lance snickered as he went through the pages trying to find more pages like that, but it was short lived when he saw Keith coming for him. He instantly raised the book up and watched as Keith pouted. It was cute. “Wow Keith, first you kiss me and now this.” Lance grinned looking down at Keith. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were hopelessly in love with me.”

“You said you would forget that you dick!” Keith groaned, still trying to reach the book. “Can you just give me the book back?”

“Hmm, nope.” Lance grinned. “Not until you admit you are in love with me.” Lance was clearly kidding with his tone, but the way Keith started to sulk made Lance bring the book down. He instantly felt bad, he didn’t want to make Keith upset.

“Can I just have the book back.” Keith looked defeated and Lance instantly felt his heart sink. He lowered the book, but didn’t give it back. Looking through the other pages.

“You know I actually think it’s kinda cute.” Lance wasn’t fully telling the truth. It was the cutest fucking thing he had ever seen and he wanted to kiss Keith right there and then.

Wait… Really?” Keith asked looking a bit shocked.

“Yeah… who knew edge lord, Keith had such a soft side.” Lance grinned going back to his cereal.

“Says the guy who cried when we watched the notebook.”

“That movie is so good, and you teared up too. Don’t even deny it.”

“Exactly, now shouldn’t you be getting some work done?” Lance smirked, handing the book back to Keith. “I don’t think you’ll let me help much today so I’ll probably take some well needed me time.”

“Isn’t that everyday?” Keith bounced back fast it seemed. Lance couldn’t help but smile. He was glad Keith was no longer sulking.

“Shut up, edge lord.” Lance winked as Keith headed out

When Keith had finally made his way outside Lance took a seat on the couch and sighed. He thought back to the book and a small smile rose to his face. He quickly pushed his face into his hands and let out a long groan. Why was it so hard to not like Keith? Lance brought his head up and looked around. This place was a mess. That’s all he could think as he looked at the dust that littered almost everything. Lance decided since he couldn’t work outside he would help in other ways. He figured he would start by dusting. The main living area wasn’t disgusting but it didn’t look lived in. Lance coming had fixed that and it started to show of life, but it was still really depressing.

Lance grabbed any cleaning products he could and got to work. By the time he was done the place looked brand new. It was still a little depressing but nothing was littered in dust anymore. He turned towards the kitchen to put all of the products away and he was stuck with a familiar sight. There was a frame that was turned down on one of the cabinets. Lance looked around and walked over, hesitating before he lifted the picture. The frame was shattered and it had jagged edges so he put extra care into handling the frame. When he finally took in the picture he was met with a happy family. He figured Keith was the younger boy and a smile made it’s way to his face, he had the biggest, more innocent smile. He looked to the brother and he saw the arm that snaked around his shoulder. They looked happy, perfect even. Lance remembered the night where Keith was drunk and his heart fell. He understood now why things weren’t all smiles, Lance couldn’t imagine what Keith was going through, but he knew it wasn’t easy.

Lance stared at the picture for a long time, just admiring how happy Keith used to be. But he was soon pulled from the trance when he heard a yell. It was muffled at first, but soon it grew to a scream and Lance looked out and realized it was Keith.

He was in shock for a moment but then he heard his name.

Keith was yelling for him.

Lance put the picture back, and ran. His heart was beating in his chest but the sheer terror in Keith’s yell made his mind almost muddy.

He was running on pure adrenaline.

Chapter Text

When Lance had gotten outside he was met with a gruesome sight. There was a stray dog practically attached to Keith’s arm. Keith was kicking at the dog, but it was larger so it wasn’t budging. With every move, more blood poured from the wound and Lance was quick to grab a shovel that was rested on the side of the house. He ran over and as much as it hurt him to hurt the animal he had to think of Keith. He hit the animal in the back and when that didn’t work he tried again harder.

The animal growled and Lance started to panic, more than he already was. He looked at Keith who had his face scrunched up. He was on the ground with the dog on top of him and he was kicking but nothing seemed to be working, so Lance tried harder again, and at least this time he got a whine. But the dog was still latched on and shaking his head. Keith let out another yell and Lance grew more scared. This dog wasn’t gonna let go, and if he did he would go directly for Keith’s face. Lance was about to try another method when Fluff came and started to attack the dog. Fluffy was a large mastiff so the second he was on top of the stray dog there was no way the smaller dog would win.

Keith was finally let go of and he fell back and gripped his arm tightly. He needed to go to a hospital, Lance almost puked when he could see his bone through all the blood, but he had to keep it down. This was no time to be squeamish. He quickly made his way to Keith's side and picked him, without a second thought. He needed to get Keith away from the fight.

“Oh my god, Lance, he’s going to hurt Fluffy.” Keith got out, out of breath from the pain. “I have to.. I have to…”

“Keith, you need to go to a hospital, I’ll take care of the dogs you need to be away for now though.” Lance placed him on the couch and ignored the blood that practically soaked his shirt. He ran back out and saw that the bigger dog was gone, but Fluffy was limping. He ran over and saw a small gash in his leg and sighed, it could have been worse. But now he didn’t know what to do Keith needed to go to the hospital, but Lance knew Keith would never forgive him if he let Fluffy walk around like this. He led the big dog inside and as soon as the other dogs saw him they all huddle and Lance figured the big dog would be okay for a little while. His older brother was a vet, so if the dog really did need vet attention Lance knew how to get it easily.

“How is fluffy?” Keith asked, as Lance picked him up again and brought him out and into the pickup. He was still soaked in blood and tried to ignore the scent.

“He’s fine, don’t worry, okay?” Lance spoke, finally pulling away and onto the road. He sped the whole way to the hospital and he was praying to every god he knew he wouldn’t get stopped. You know leave it to Lance to find out that the guy he likes actually has feelings for him, and then have this happen. He had a feeling it wasn’t going to be that serious, Keith wouldn’t lose his arm or anything but this was still bad his arm was mangled pretty bad and Keith looked pale from the blood loss, the dog had basically taken a chunk out of his arm. Not to mention the area around it that was littered with dark tooth marks.

Lance still had a headache from earlier, but he was less clammy and felt better for the most part. He was thanking every god for how quickly he has started to feel better because if he hadn’t felt better this situation would have been way worse, he was also mainly thanking adrenaline for this as well. As they pulled up to the hospital Lance quickly threw the truck into park outside the main doors and ran around the side. Keith was already starting to get out, but Lance was quick to scoop him up into his arms. Sure Keith could probably walk Lance just knew he would feel better if he was carrying Keith. Without a second thought, he brought the boy inside and everyone gave him shocked looks. Lance had no idea what he looked like, but he could only imagine he probably looked like a serial killer. His clothes were soaked in blood and he had started to get some blood on his arm and face. He probably looked crazy.

“Name.” The nurse asked, already on the phone to page a doctor.

“Keith, Keith Kogane.” Lance pulled Keith closer to his chest when the boy shivered, but when he saw a doctor run up he started to feel more comfortable. That doctor, however, looked more concerned than Lance was and his hope seemed to fade. The doctor had an undercut with black hair and his face had a long scar just over his nose. He was fitted with a prosthetic arm and Lance couldn’t help but wonder how that all had happened, but he was soon being spoken to and pulled back to reality.

“What happened to him?” The doctor sounded angry and Lance flinched a bit, but Keith broke the heavy silence.

“Shiro, there was a stray dog. It takes more than that to take me down.” Keith’s voice was a little raspy but his words seemed to ease the doctor, even only a little bit. Lance remembered the name, and a sudden realization came to him. This was Keith’s brother. The doctor.

“I was about to head out, but that’s not happening.” Shiro sounded tired, but he was quick to start heading back down the hall, motioning for Lance to follow.

“Shiro, you work overtime every day.” Keith spoke.”Let another doctor take care of this, and go rest.” Lance looked at Keith then back to Shiro and he couldn’t help but smile. This was an exchange he would have had with his own brother too.

“I wouldn’t be leaving anyways.” Shiro sighed. “So I might as well fix you up, I kinda like you, as shocking as that sounds. and this is pretty serious so it can’t exactly wait. There is a piece of your arm gone. Trust me. Not fun.”

Lance could feel Keith chuckling in his arms and pulled him closer. The fact that Keith was laughing and talking made him a little less worried. When they finally got to the room Lance set him down onto the hospital bed, He backed away slowly and looked down at all the blood that covered him and Keith. Shiro was already scrubbing his hands down and putting gloves on when he finally acknowledged Lance.

“This is one hell of a way to meet.” Shiro chuckled a bit as he pulled out some medical supplies. “I’m Shiro, Keith called me about your arm this morning. I’ll take a look at this after I stitch up this idiot.” Lance could see Keith give Shiro a small glare and a small smile made its way onto his face. “I swear he probably provoked the dog.”

“I didn’t!” Keith protested, wincing a bit. “It came out of nowhere.”

“Alright, don’t work yourself up.” Shiro sighed, pushing Keith back down onto the bed. You have a decent amount of blood loss, but it’s nothing too serious.”

Lance watched as Shiro started to clean the area and after a few moments he pulled up a chair and grabbed Keith's other hand. He ignored the small smile that appeared on Shiro’s face when he had noticed. He lightly squeezed his hand a few times and eventually resorted to rubbing his thumb along his hand. After what felt like forever Shiro excused himself from the room for a minute and Lance moved closer to Keith, brushing some hair out of his face. His brow was lined with sweat and he looked more pained than before.

“How are you holding up?” Lance asked softly, trying to be as gentle as possible.

“I’m just peachy, I’m still worried about fluffy. You saw him, how was he?”

“Just a small gash on his leg. Nothing a good vet can’t fix up. He was only limping a little.” Lance didn’t need to lie to Keith the dog was lucky to be fairly unscathed after the fight he had gone through. “My brother is a vet, so I’m gonna call him after you are all done, okay?”

“Yeah.” Keith looked relieved and Lance let a smile rest on his face. “Thank you.”

Lance just continued to brush hair out of the boy's face, but when he heard the door open he was quick to withdraw his hand. If Shiro saw he didn’t say anything.

“Okay, so I need to give you this rabies shot before I can put you under and start stitching.” Shiro spoke, “This is probably gonna hurt the most because I need to be as close to the wound as possible.”

Lance held onto Keith's hand tighter and watched as Keith closed his eyes, waiting for the shot to be given. When it was he bit his lip and a whine escaped him. Lance could see tears leaking from his eyes and brought a hand over to wipe them away.

“Hey, it’s over now.” Lance cooed, ignoring Shiro now and only focusing on Keith. “You took it like a champ.” Lance let himself chuckle and a few seconds later Keith had a small smile on his face. He looked so tired and Lance wished he could just take all of his pain away. When Shiro put on the mask and started to give Keith the anesthetic Lance still held onto his hand and talked to him until he was asleep. He was probably scared and in pain, so he wanted to make it as easy as he could for him.

“Wow, I’ve never seen this much pining in my life.” Lance looked over to Shiro who was getting the tools he needed to stitch up Keith, and a blush swept across his face.

“Wha - me?” Lance laughed. “I’m not, you got it all wrong.”

“Mhmm.” Was all Shiro could muster before he sat back down. “I know what it looks like when someone is in love.” Shiro finally continuing and eyeing Lance. Shiro had a mask on now so Lance could only see his eyes, but he could tell he was smiling.

Lance took one look at Keith and sighed. He was so in love it hurt. It hurt more knowing Keith was repressing his own feelings.

“He’s just so great.” Lance sighed. “It’s hard not to love him, y’know.”

“Thank you for being so patient with him.” Shiro finally spoke. “He’s been through a lot, and he is still trying to heal. He has a hard time showing feelings and getting attached. Everyone important has left him, even I did.”

Lance looked back to Keith and sighed. He didn’t want to leave him. He wouldn’t if Keith would accept him, and let him in. He thought back to the kiss and how Keith ran, and it started to make sense. He probably thought he had ruined their friendship and was scared Lance would leave. It almost made Lance laugh because Keith had no idea how much Lance wanted to be with him. He would just have to do everything in his power to make Keith know he wasn’t going anywhere. Hell, he would stay with Keith forever he would let him.

“I’m not going anywhere, so that won’t be a problem” Lance admitted, keeping his eyes on Keith who finally looked peaceful. Lance watched as Shiro further prepared the wound and winces a little when he started to stitch it up. It shocked him how easily Shiro was doing everything with the prosthetic arm. He assumed he must have gotten used to it after a while.

“I’m sure children in here must love you.” Lance joked, gesturing to the arm.

“I always tell them I’m a superhero and it has special powers, it really brings a smile to their faces. Sometimes I get kids that are scared of me. But all it takes is a cool story and instead of being afraid they want to touch my arm and scar.” Lance chuckled a bit and the silence grew. He was sure Shiro knew what he wanted to ask. But he didn’t just want to blurt it out. It felt rude.

“It was a car accident.” Lance looked back to the man and noticed he was focusing intently on the stitching. “We were so lucky to be alive. The doctors told me that if I hadn’t moved I wouldn’t have lost my arm. But I didn’t regret it because if I hadn’t lost my arm Keith wouldn’t be alive.”

Lance didn’t really know what to say, so he didn’t speak at all. He figured it helped Shiro to talk about these things once in awhile. Even if it was with someone who didn’t know him. The silence stayed until Shiro had finished the stitches. But Lance wasn’t really paying that much attention. He was just happy to stroke his hands through Keith’s hair and rub little circles into his palms. Shiro finally wrapped the cut and signed before taking off his gloves and mask. He looked tired, and Lance could tell he was probably barely awake.

“You know, I’m sure you won’t go home but go take a nap or something,” Lance spoke, turning in his seat to face Shiro. “I’ll be here when he wakes up and if you want I can come and find you, but you look like you’re gonna pass out.”

“Yeah, I probably should sleep. Keith would be mad if I don’t,” Shiro chuckled a bit, starting to make his leave from the room. “I’ll check on your arm before he is all set to leave. I want to make sure it’s not getting worse. How are you feeling?”

“I feel better, but right now I’m probably more stressed than anything,” Lance admitted.

“Understandable. Thank you for helping him and bringing him here. If he wakes up please come wake me.” Lance nodded and knew he would just let Shiro sleep. The poor guy looked like he needed it.

For about 30 minutes Lance just sat there and rested his head on the side of the bed as he stroked through Keith’s hair. He felt so at peace even if this was a stressful situation. He wondered what else bad could happen this summer. First he cut himself, then he burnt his leg. This was like the icing on a really shitty piece of cake that was made so poorly nobody wanted it. Lance felt himself drifting off to sleep because it was starting to get late in the day. But when he heard a small groan he sat up and grabbed Keith’s hands. He wanted it to be known that he was here and Keith wasn’t alone.

“Hey, sleeping beauty. How are you holding up?” Lance kept his voice soft, and lightly held his hand as the other gained his bearings.

“My arm hurts.” Keith groaned. “Also I’m tired.”

“Yeah well, a dog attack will do that to you.” Lance laughed, still keeping his voice low. “I’m glad you’re okay though. Shiro already stitched up your arm. I told him to go take a nap or something. He looked like he was going to pass out.”

“Yeah.” Keith groaned, turning towards Lance. “He never sleeps, thanks for making him step away, even if it’s only for a little while.” Lance smiled a bit, but it fell when Keith winced and grabbed his bad arm. He turned back onto his back and let out a long sigh.

“I’ll do anything I can to help you, okay?” Lance could already feel himself blushing when he was met with Keith’s wide eyes. “I want to make this whole thing a bit easier on you.”

“Okay.” Keith turned his head away and didn’t talk to or look at Lance for a while. He wanted to think everything was okay, but he knew it wasn’t. He decided he would just stay quiet. Keith was probably stressed. Not only did he literally get attacked, he was seeing his brother for the first time in a while. He assumed that was the case because Lance didn’t even know Keith had a brother until this morning. Keith didn’t talk about Shiro at all, and from what Lance could gather Shiro was the only family he had left. It was a sad thought. He wondered what had happened between them.

After a few hours of silence, Shiro walked back into the room and wiped at his eyes, letting out a yawn. Lance was happy that he was able to get some shut eye at least, the black circles under his eyes were atrocious.

“How are you feeling?” Shiro asked as he sat down on the other side of Keith. Lance could see the concern in his eyes and it reminded him of his own older brother when he had broken his leg a few years back.

“I’m just ready to go home.” Keith deadpanned as he was already starting to make his way out of the bed.

“Are you sure?” Shiro asked, placing a supportive hand on his shoulder. “You could stay overnight, I would feel better if I was able to check on the stitches later.”

“You need to go home and sleep,” Keith spoke harshly. “Just let me go home, I’ve already bothered you enough.”

Lance watched the exchange and he felt the air grow heavy when Keith stormed out. Shiro simply sighed and wiped a hand down his face. He just looked mentally tired.

“I’m sorry, we aren’t really on the best terms right now.” Shiro finally admitted. “Or well, Keith doesn’t think we are.”

“It’s okay.” Lance finally spoke. “I can tell that you are a really good brother, and I know Keith knows that too. I’m gonna go try to find him, he might not talk but I don’t want him to be alone. We can take a rain check on my arm, I know Keith won’t let me go another day without cleaning it, so it should heal fine.”

“Thank you.”

Lance gave Shiro a nod before exiting the small room. He looked down the hall and saw a familiar mullet walking towards the front entrance of the hospital. When he finally caught up Keith was already outside looking for the truck. Lance walked over and placed a hand on Keith’s shoulder but when he did Keith simply shrugged it off and started to walk in another direction.

“Keith, I know you are upset. But I’m your ride home.” At that Keith let Lance guide the way and before long they were both seated in the pickup truck. Lance was now finally aware of his state and let himself cringe. It wasn’t nice to be covered in your crushes blood.

As they drove it was silent and Lance wanted to speak but he didn’t know what to say. This was going to be a long car drive.

“Why are you doing this?” Keith asked, his eyes fixated on the dark scenery out the truck window. He looked troubled and Lance could tell he had a lot on his mind, just from the quick glance he made

“What do you mean?” Lance decided to pry a bit, and fake ignorance for a little bit. He knew what Keith meant but he wanted him to open more, even if only a little.

“Why are you helping me?” His voice rose a bit and Lance could see he was shaking a bit. He was holding onto his bad arm like a vice grip. “Why are you being so kind and nice, I just don’t understand. You barely know me.”

Because I’m in love with you. That’s what Lance wanted to say.

“That’s what friends do Keith. They help each other. I would have helped you if you were a stranger off the street.” Lance admitted. “You are worthy of kindness, and compassion you know that right?”

“You know, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.” Lance felt his heart break, and let out a sigh. He was going to drill the fact that he was worthy of love into his head if it was the last thing he ever did.

“Well you are, and I know that doesn’t change the way you think, but I’m not going to let you go another day thinking you don’t deserve love and compassion. Because you do.” Lance’s voice was serious now and when he looked over to Keith he could see a stream of tears falling from his eyes.

“I, uh.” Lance could see Keith looking back to the window and quickly rubbing his face. “Sorry, I just… It’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone say that.”

“I’ll say it every day if I have to.”

The ride home stayed silent but Lance’s heart was beating in his chest the whole ride back. It had been such a stressful day. He just wanted it to end. When they finally got back it was almost pitch dark and Lance found himself protectively walking in front of Keith all the way until the front door. When the two walked in it wasn’t long before they were bombarded with dogs. Lance tried to keep them away from Keith, but when Fluffy came towards them Keith pushed past and threw his arms around the large dog, nuzzling into his side. He pulled away and started gushing to the dog.

“I love you so much!!” Keith cooed in a dorky voice before he noticed the small gash that was in Fluffy’s leg. “Poor baby, the big bad dog hurt you didn’t he??”

Lance simply watched in awe as Keith cooed to the dog and nuzzled against him. He felt a smile grow on his face, but it faded when his eyes caught the blood stained couch. He suddenly looked down and realized he was still covered in blood. He probably looked like a psycho at the hospital.

He sneaked upstairs while Keith was getting the supplies to patch up Fluffy and when he finally got into the washroom he was taken aback by the image in the mirror. His shirt was covered in dry blood, and he had smears on his arms and face that had faded. He was too stressed at the hospital to go to the washroom and clean up. He thought back to the incident and this time he felt his food from earlier that day make a comeback. He quickly crouched in front of the toilet and tried to keep the sounds to a minimum, as his food came back up. He heaved and struggled to take in any air and when he finally felt like he was done he let himself relax a little as he tried to catch his breath. His nose and throat stung, and he could still feel some of it stuck in his nose. That alone almost made him puke again.

As he stood up and grabbed the toilet paper to blow his nose, he didn’t even realize Keith had opened the door and made his way beside him until a steady arm was rubbing his back. He didn’t complain and just let it happen while he tried to clear his throat out. He felt gross and his eyes were puffy and watery, and he just wanted to sleep for the rest of his life. The day had been such a wild ride, and he wondered if the two of them could just have a normal day for once.

“Are you okay?” Keith asked, his voice low.

“Yeah, sorry I just saw all this blood and I… I don’t know it just brought the whole scene back into my head. I probably won’t be sleeping too well tonight.” Lance laughed, his throat still sore.

“I probably won’t either.” Keith chuckled a bit, rubbing the side of his face. “Get cleaned up though, and maybe we can like watch a movie or something. I’m just gonna try to clean up using the sink I don’t think I can shower.” Lance gave a small nod and watched as Keith left the room. When the door had been closed he instantly removed the bloody clothes and started to run himself a shower. He felt the water run down his hand and when it got hot enough he stepped in and sighed. He watched as the water turned a slight pink and instantly felt a little better. He removed his bandage and ran water over the cut. It stung but he bit his lip and dealt with it. He looked over and saw his exfoliator and a smile grew onto his face. He was going to go full out tonight.

When Lance finally finished his shower he felt clean, and that alone was enough for him to be eased completely. He dried himself off a bit before stepping out and grabbed the first aid kit for his arm. He dried the wound first and cringed when he poured the peroxide on it. But when he finally got the gauze and bandage on he felt a bit better. He put the kit back and stared at himself in the mirror for a little while. His skin was darker from the sun he had endured for the past month and his freckles were more prominent than before. He had noticeable bags under his eyes and he could see that the lack of sleep he had been getting along with the stress of the day had really taken a toll on him. He sighed, but he let a smile rise to his face. He was going to put on a facemask and try to enjoy the night if it killed him. Keith was okay, and that’s all that mattered.

Lance went through his beauty routine and ended with a facemask. He thought back to when Keith had his hair up with the facemask and blushed. He remembered Keith telling him he would pass on wearing a facemask and chuckled. He knew he would get the boy to crack, even if Lance didn’t even have to do anything.

When he finished he smiled at himself proudly in the mirror and headed to his room, and grabbed a pair of pajama pants. They had little cat faces on them and when he stood in front of his mirror he chuckled a little. His mom always teased him for wearing these, since he was an adult now. But he didn’t care, they were fuzzy and cute, and he loved them. Before he left his room he brought a hand up to his hair that was dried now. He usually straightened it after showering and tried to hide his curly hair. But he was too tired to even bother.

He finally made his way downstairs, and when he did he noticed how it smelled much better than before. Keith had probably sprayed something, just to get rid of the faint smell of blood. The parts of the couch had been scrubbed down, and Lance could see a towel covering the parts that were wet. The couch was old it wasn’t like it mattered much, but it was kinda unsettling to have large blood stains all over your couch. When he sat down he looked at Keith who was holding a picture frame, the cracked one with his family picture in it. He had never really noticed but Keith had a small bracelet on his arm. It had a few beads and it was pink and blue. It looked handmade and old, and he could see that the rope was a little pink, probably from the blood. He wondered how long Keith had had that bracelet for.

“You know, I feel like I deserved this.” Lance immediately looked at Keith and furrowed his brow. How could Keith think he deserved this?

“If it wasn’t for me Shiro’s parents would be alive, and he would have his arm. I ruined his life.” Lance could see tears forming in his eyes, and he felt his chest tighten. None of what he was saying was true. Shiro had even told Lance he had no regrets over what he had done.

“This picture was the day I moved in. They knew I was a problem kid, and they still decided to take me in. Shiro was so nice to me and made me feel like I was his brother. I was used to being thrown around and neglected. It really felt like I was part of a family.”

“Keith, you can’t blame yourself for this.” Lance placed a hand on Keith’s shoulder, but he pulled away harshly.

“If I had just shut up, and stopped talking they wouldn’t have been distracted. The crash wouldn’t have happened. Shiro would still have his arm.” Lance could see that Keith was starting to panic now. His eyes were wide, and he was a shaking a bit. His breathing was getting faster so he slowly slung an arm around him and pulled him to his side. He kept this grip loose in case he wanted to pull away again, but he didn’t. It was silent for a while, but eventually Lance broke the silence.

“When I was 10 my brother got hit by a car. It wasn’t serious. He was lucky to only walk away with a broken arm and a few bumps and bruises. But I felt so responsible, I had thrown his ball across the street as a joke for a long time I blamed myself. I always thought ‘what if it had been worse’. I thought he hated me.” Lance stopped and looked to Keith who still looking at the picture, He was stroking the frame with his thumb and Lance wondered if they could find a new frame, so that the old one could be replaced.

“Lance, I know you’re trying to help but this is different.” Lance nodded, but he decided to continue anyways.

“I know it’s different, but it might help you. For a long time I thought he hated me, he had to stop playing basketball because of me, because his arm hurt too much after the break. He was mad for a while, but at the end of the day he was my brother, and even though that happened he loved me. He didn’t see me as any less of a brother. I know that Shiro doesn’t blame you. He loves you, to him you aren’t just an adopted sibling. To him, you are his brother. You can’t blame yourself for this, it could have happened regardless. Shiro doesn’t regret what he did. I know I wouldn’t.”

“You think so?” Keith asked, his breathing was a little more at ease now.

“I know so. If I had to choose between the life of my brother or sister and my arm I wouldn’t even have to think. A family isn’t bound by blood, Shiro will never not see you as a brother. I really think you should talk to him about this. It would help.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know I just have been in this mindset for a long time. When he left for university it was hard. He told me to move to an apartment or something, but I just couldn’t leave. This was the first home I had ever had, and I didn’t... I couldn’t leave. I was too attached to the memories, and the animals. I was afraid to leave.”

Lance smiled a bit and pulled Keith closer. He just wanted Keith to be happy.

“I started to get really lonely too. I like solitude, but sometimes animals don’t cut it. Shiro told me to hire someone to help around, but I had no clue where to start. I rejected the idea for a long time. If you couldn’t tell I’m not exactly the best with people.” Lance let himself chuckle and he felt Keith laugh a little under his arm. He rubbed his arm a bit. “I kinda laugh when I remember how your mom and I started talking.”

“You know I always wondered how she got in contact with you. She just came home one day and yelled that I had a summer job and that I should be thanking her for getting me a job with someone so cute and nice She wouldn’t shut up about you, I seriously thought you were an old man.”

“What?” Keith was laughing now, and Lance felt his heart flutter. “You seriously thought I was some old man?”

“Yes! My mom was boasting about you like you were some cute 40 year old. My dad died a few years ago, and I thought she was tryna get back into the game, god.” Lance watched as Keith’s smile faltered a bit.

“Oh, I… I’m sorry about your dad.” Lance shrugged a bit.

“It was really hard, for a long time. He had cancer, and there wasn’t anything they could do to reverse it. He had a good few months with him though before he died. Having a big family really helped me. My mom was really strong through it all. I’m sure having 5 kids helped though. We were all there to help, and kinda pick up the pieces.” Lance let a smile grow on his face. “But, enough about my sob story. How did you and my mom even start talking.” Lance figured the best way to help Keith, was to distract him a bit.

“Well, sometimes I need to go into town and grab motorcycle parts. I’ve been trying to fix the one I have. So whenever I have enough cash saved up I’ll go buy a part.” Lance stopped Keith right there. He had seen all of the parts in the yard numerous times. But he had no clue that Keith could actually ride a motorcycle. He assumed he just liked to collect the parts or something.

“Wait, you can ride a motorcycle?” Lance pulled away a little from Keith and turned his head to get a good look at Keith’s face.

“Yeah? Why did you think I have so many parts outside. I dunno I like to mess with parts. I try to find parts in scrap yards to save some cash, and I’ve found some good ones, but usually, they are just useless pieces of metal.”

“Woah, I need to see this bike sometime,” Lance smirked, watching as Keith’s face went a little red. He felt his chest flutter but tried to push it down.

“It’s not that great, it’s kind of a beater. It was Shiro's old bike, and he let me have it to fix it up.” Lance’s jaw dropped again.

“Holy shit is there more hot bikers in your family, you’re telling me your hot doctor brother can ride a bike too?” Lance fell back and he could see the glare that Keith was giving him.

“Don’t call Shiro hot oh my god, it’s weird,” Lance smirked and sat back up on the couch. He wondered if Keith was jealous.

Probably not.

Lance pushed his thoughts down. He wasn’t gonna let them invade this time.

“What can I say, guys who can ride motorcycles are hot!”

“You think I’m hot?” Lance laughed. It was already obvious Lance had already mentioned this.

“Do I need to spell it out to you, you aren’t a bad looking guy, annnd neither is your brother.” He watched as Keith turned away with a sigh. He seemed annoyed and Lance let himself believe that Keith was jealous.

“Shut up. So anyways sometimes I go out for motorcycle parts and on my way home I passed the farmers market and I decided to drop by and see Coran.I dropped in since he goes every week, while I go every two weeks and your mom was there. She was talking to him, and when I showed up Coran brought me right into the conversation. He was the one that brought up that I was hiring and looking for help since I had talked to him about it. She was so quick to offer you to work. It was kinda funny.”

“Of course she was. God the second I told her I didn’t know what I wanted to go to university for she started ranting about how I would need a job until I figured it out.”

“Do you have any ideas yet?” Lance shifted a bit. He had no idea.

“Not really, I just…. I can’t make up my mind, there is so much I want to do, but some things are more out of reach than others.” Lance sighed.

“Well, I kinda wanna be a mechanic.” Lance looked at Keith who was smiling a bit and his heart started to beat in his chest. He looked so cute when he was passionate about something. “But just thinking of going to college and the debt makes me think again about it.”

“That’s so attainable, I bet you could do it too! You’re fixing your motorcycle by yourself. I don’t know shit about mechanical stuff, I’m kinda more creative. I never really excelled in academic studies. I was okay, but I was always behind everyone else. I was never good enough.” Lance looked away when he said that. He really didn’t like to pour his heart out to others. But Keith made it so easy. “So I started to try more creative things. I found I was more into that, painting and stuff. It’s not really ideal for making money, but I’m passionate about it, even if I’m pretty bad at it”

“You don’t have to be a scientist Lance, something in the arts is valid and you should strive for it.” Lance smiled and felt his face heat up. Keith looked so determined. “You could be an art teacher! Or.. or you could sell your art. I bet you are great, I haven’t seen your art, but I feel like you are some god with a paintbrush and you just aren’t telling me.”

Lance smiled and he wanted to die right there. Could the guy stop being so perfect? He was falling harder and harder every day. His mother was supportive of him, but it wasn’t uncommon for his other family members like his aunts or uncles to tell him he should rethink his plans. It was nice to hear someone tell him he could do it. He kinda wanted to paint in that moment, he regretted leaving his paints at home.

‘Thanks.” Lance watched as Keith returned his smile and grabbed the remote for the TV. He turned it on and leaned back on the couch. Keith did the same and they scrolled through the channels before landing on a soap opera that was marathoning all night. Lance turned out the lights and laid on the couch. After the first two episodes, the two were invested and Keith's head was resting on Lance’s lap. At first, Lance had been tense but now he was totally focused on the show.

“Karen, HE LOVES YOU,” Lance shouted, throwing his hands up as Karen proceeded to leave the male main in the street. “You’re joking why are straight people like this.” Lance looked down and had to fight the urge to comb through Keith’s hair.

“I dunno, but if Karen doesn’t get back with him by the next episode I’m done.” Lance laughed and leaned back onto the couch once again. This was super domestic and he felt his cheeks heat up. After 5 episodes Lance was still watching, but Keith had fallen asleep on his lap. He could see his breathing was slower and his eyes were clothes fully when he leaned over to check. His head was still on Lance’s lap so he let a hand fall to his head and started to stroke his hair. Keith made a small noise and Lance smirked a bit before leaning back onto the couch. He didn’t want to wake Keith so he decided to just lean back onto the couch and hope he could sleep that way.

He continued to stroke Keith’s hair and when he dozed off he felt completely at peace with everything. His mind was calm and he was happy. He could stay like this forever.

Chapter Text

Since the whole dog incident not much went on with Keith and Lance they would do the bare minimum of work to keep the farm going. Since both of them were trying to keep their wounds clean, and Keith could barely lift anything with his bad arm. A little bit of time had passed and when Lance woke up and looked at the time on the clock he saw the calendar on the wall, and he realized it was his birthday. He smiled and his first thought was that he and Keith should do something tonight. It was the beginning of July and if Lance wasn’t mistaken there was a summer festival that took place in the city. He always went with his family, but this year he wanted to take Kieth. He wondered if Keith had ever gone.

When he sat up and stretched his arm, he no longer felt any pain. Everyday him and Keith cleaned their wounds, and they did it together so that the other wouldn’t forget or slack on it. It had become a daily routine. Lance had realized that they had a lot of routines. They would wake each other up in the morning, and have breakfast together. They would brush their teeth together. He always smiled when he thought about how domestic they had become. He liked how close he was to Keith he had become, but there was still distance. With this newfound closeness he found that they bickered a lot more. There was no malice. But it seemed to be the only thing they ever did. He could only wonder if that was Keith starting to not like Lance. He knew there was no malice behind his words, but sometimes with Keith he wondered. He finally made his way downstairs, yawning a bit.

“You seriously put the empty carton of milk in the fridge again?” Keith groaned as he pulled it out and help it up in display. “I swear to god, you irritate me so much, it’s not a hard task.” Lance sent him a middle finger as he sat at the dining room table. This is what they had become, something like an old married couple. But sometimes Lance wondered if he really did irritate Keith that much. He wondered if he had been irritating him the whole time, and now Keith just wasn’t too shy to tell the truth. He sighed and rubbed a hand down his face. It was his birthday, he should not be thinking about this stuff. He wondered if he could tell Keith it was his birthday in conversation, but he didn’t want Keith to think he had to get him something. He would be happy just spending time with him.

“You know, there is this festival this weekend. It’s in town.” Lance finally spoke, he watched as Keith leaned back from the kitchen counter and sent him a raised eyebrow. Lance didn’t think about the possibility of Keith saying no. “And I was thinking maybe we could go, if you want.” Lance’s voice kinda got smaller as he spoke, and he had averted his eyes halfway through but when he looked back Keith had wide eyes, like he was in shock. He could see a blush on the boys face, and his heart fluttered.

“I mean, I’ll go if you want to go.” Keith admitted, quickly looking back to the bowl of cereal he was pouring. “I think it would be fun.”

“Really!?” Lance lit up, but quickly repressed it, a blush rising to his face. “I mean… Yeah it would be pretty fun, huh.” Lance could see a small smile on Keith’s face and he let one fall onto his face as well. He couldn’t help but smile, Keith was gorgeous. Whenever he woke up he always had his hair up in a messy pony tail, and he always had cute patterned boxers on. Lance’s chest always tightened up at the site. He was just so pretty, and Lance was fucked. He wondered if he had the same effect on Keith?

Whenever he wondered about that kinda stuff his mind always gave him the same answer. Why would he think you are anything special. You’re looks are average compared to his, you think he’s impressed? Lance had started to try and ignore those thoughts when it came to Keith, and when he started to ignore those, the other negative thoughts that swam around in his head weren’t as loud either. Lance found that he was feeling more energized, happier. All because he was around Keith. He figured it was because he was using Keith as a distraction, but he couldn’t deny that it was because He genuinely loved his company and talking to him. He found that he was always happier with other people around him. He enjoyed being surrounded by people, it always lessened the thoughts. But of course that didn’t mean they were gone. He would still wake up some days and wonder what the point was. He would just want to sleep the day away, but he found those days were much less often now. He smiled thinking about it. It felt nice to finally feel something other than emptiness. He had Keith to thank for that, because at the moment he was a strong reason for that.

“I’ve never been to a festival before so yeah, I think it would be cool to go.” Lance was brought back to reality and he almost jumped out of his seat, he slammed his first on the table and Keith snapped his head over, jumping a bit. He looked annoyed when he realized it was only Lance that had made the sound.

“You’ve never been to the summer festival? Have you ever been to a festival? Jamboree? Anything?” Lance couldn’t believe it. His family had taken him every year when he was younger, and after a while he started to go with Hunk and Pidge. He had so many good memories from previous years.

“Well, when your parents die and you have no friends it’s not as fun.” Keith was clearly trying to make some sort of joke, by the tone of his voice, but all it did was make Lance a little sad.

“Well, we are gonna go and have fun! Try and wear something nice. Do you even own anything other than baggy work jeans and black t-shirts?” Keith was silent and Lance almost laughed. “You’re kidding.”

“I have other stuff!” Keith snapped, finally coming to sit with Lance, placing a bowl of cereal in front of Lance as well. “I’ll blow your socks off.”

Lance spent the whole day wondering what Keith would wear. He didn’t want to admit it but he was kinda excited. He wanted to see Keith dressed up nice, it would be a change from his normal work clothes that were always dusty and covered in dirt. When the evening finally came Lance had spent at least a couple hours getting ready. He had showered and cleaned his face, then did his hair. That didn’t take more than an hour, the rest of the time was finding an outfit. He had his whole wardrobe on his bed, trying to decide what would look best. He wanted to wow keith, it was kinda dumb and he blushed but he felt like this was some kind of date. He wondered if Keith was thinking the same thing. He could only hope.

In the end Lance had clothes thrown all over the room, but when he looked in the mirror he was satisfied. His hair was straight and his face was practically glowing. He almost felt kinda nervous. He had to remind himself this wasn’t a real date. He had picked some regular black jeans, and a large blue sweater. To top it off he added a large yellow scarf and he decided he would bring his bag with him as well. It was a brown faux leather and it had a long strap. It felt like such a long time since he had dressed up like this. The last time he had done this was a date with some girl he really didn’t even want to go on. This was different. Lance’s heart was racing and his throat felt dry. He wanted this night to be fun for the both of them, and he hoped nothing would ruin it. He looked out his window and saw that the sun was going to set soon. He wanted to leave a little early, he was hoping he could catch the fireworks. It was one of the prettiest sights, especially at the pier.

Finally Lance exited his room and when he got to the living room he almost died of laughter, but he kept it in. Snorting a little. Keith was standing with an 80’s jean jacket and jeans that matched the jacket. He could see the blush on Keith’s face grow brighter as he groaned and stormed back up the stairs.

“Wait!” Lance followed Keith but was met with a door in the face. He still had a smile on his face, as much as he thought Keith was a fashion disaster he looked kinda cute. “C’mon you can wear on of my sweaters. I really wanna leave now! We need to catch the fireworks tonight.”

“Fine, but for the record you are an asshole.” Lance could tell there was no malice in his voice, and as he opened the door he had to hide another laugh.

“You know, it could be worse. You look kinda cute.” Lance had a soft smile as he went into his room and grabbed a pink sweater. He handed it to Keith and he could see the red on his face. “Here, it will match your face.” Lance winked at Keith as he handed him the sweater. He walked past and when he looked over his shoulder he could see Keith bury his face into the sweater for a moment in embarrassment before sliding off his jacket and replacing it with the sweater.

When they finally got into the truck they both sat in silence while the radio played softly in the background. Lance’s heart has eased as he looked out the window,. The last time he had been in this truck was when he had taken Keith to the hospital so it was nice to just sit in the passenger seat and not have to worry about your crush possibly losing an arm or dying from blood loss. As the sky got darker Lance started to get more nervous. This really felt like a date.

“What’s this festival like anyways?” Keith asked, breaking the silence. Lance had to think about it for a moment. He had so many good memories, but most of them didn’t involve the festival itself but the people he was with.

“Well, there is really good food, games, and a huge firework show at the end of the night. It’s a weekend long festival but today is the best day to go.” Lance was beaming as he spoke and from the corner of his eye he could see Keith glancing over with a warm smile and he felt his body heat up. Maybe he could tell Keith his feelings tonight. That was be extra romantic. All Lance had to do was work up the courage to actually say ‘Keith I like you’. That of course was easier said than done.

After the long drive Lance finally started to see the festival lights and his face lit up. He sat forward in his seat and leaned onto the dash as Keith drove. The music from the festival could already be heard slightly in the distance and Lance felt giddy already, he wanted this night to be an escape for both him and Keith.

After parking a few minutes walk from the festival Lance was already practically dragging Keith to the ticket booth. He pulled out his wallet and handed the lady the money and he smiled at Keith when they had the bands put around their wrists. When they finally got in Lance watched as Keith’s mouth hung open. The street was filled with hanging pink lights and decorations everywhere and with the sun almost fully set there was a pink tinge to everything from the lights. Keith looked gorgeous, and Lance couldn’t help but smile. Keith looked blown away and that was all he could have hoped for.

“This is… wow.” Keith finally spoke looking to Lance who had a smile on his face. “I never expected it to be this beautiful.”

“This festival is known to be really beautiful I always loved it here as a kid.” Lance grinned a bit as he spoke and grabbed Keith’s hand, pulling him along. They took in the sights and eventually Lance was struck by the smell of a food truck. Most of the time he never really bought food when he came to festivals like this, but this was an exception. The cart was there every year and Lance couldn’t help but buy food from it. The cart sold all kinds of food, but the only thing he really wanted was funnel cake. The way they made it was so good, and it was a festival. You can’t go to a festival and not get funnel cake, it just doesn’t happen. Lance held Keith’s hand as they got to the food truck and let go when they neared the lineup. His hand felt a little cold when he let go, but he decided to ignore it.

“Have you ever had funnel cake?” Lance asked, waiting as the person before him took their order.

“I don’t know I might have.” Keith shrugged, laughing a bit when Lance let his jaw drop.

“You might have, oh my god that’s a no then. No one forgets the time they’ve had funnel cake. I’m getting you some.” Lance spoke, as he stepped forward and ordered the two desserts for him himself and Keith.

“Uh, what if I don’t like it? Shouldn’t be just share?” Keith asked, as Lance pulled out his money and handed it to the lady behind the risen window of the food truck.

“I don’t wanna share, and if you don’t like it I can just eat whatever you don’t eat. That’s just a sacrifice I’m willing to take.” Lance’s voice was dramatic towards the end as he stepped away and waited with Keith for the desserts. He didn’t know he practically bouncing in his spot before Keith placed a hand on his shoulder and stopped him. Lance looked over confused, and blushed when Keith was smiling at him.

“Do you always bounce on your feet when you wait for dessert?” Keith joked, taking his hand off of Lance’s shoulder. Lance felt his face heat up and he looked away for a moment. He was about to speak when Keith started again. “I think it’s cute.” Lance turned into a sputtering mess for a few seconds before the lady at the food truck called out the order. Keith was the one who ran over and when he came back Lance had finally gotten back to normal. It was official he was going to die, on his birthday too.

“Uh thanks.” Lance finally spoke, letting himself smile as he took the dessert from Keith. Lance
Looked down at the plate and everything he was flustered about went away. All he cared about in that moment was stuffing his face with funnel cake. The two sat on a bench a few feet away from the food truck and Lance had already started to dig into his when he looked at Keith who was hesitating a little bit. Lance tilted his head as Keith pushed the ice cream and whipped cream off of the dessert.

“Are you crazy?” Lance finally spoke, leaning forward to see Keith’s face. “Those are the best parts of the whole thing!! You can’t eat funnel cake with no ice cream ”

“I uh, I’m lactose intolerant. I probably should have mentioned that before you bought this for me.” Keith was almost looking a little embarrassed and Lance didn’t want that so he simply used his fork and brought the dairy products onto his own plate and gave Keith the rest of the fruit that was on his.

“More for me then.” Lance winked as he finally sat back and dug back into the dessert. “The fruit will still taste really good with the cake don’t worry.” He watched was Keith took a hesitant bite, but giggled when Keith gasped. He looked at Lance with wide eyes before going back for another bite.

“This is so good, I can’t believe I have never tried this.” Keith got out, his mouth almost full. Lance couldn’t help but laugh. Keith was still cute even when he was being gross, Lance couldn’t even believe it.

“I told you!” Lance laughed, taking another bite of his own. “Funnel cake is the only things I ever eat at these places. All of the food is so overpriced, but this is the only thing I’m willing to pay for.” Lance looked over and beamed when he saw Keith eating the funnel cake with a smile. He was really glad that he could share one of his favourite desserts with Keith. He really needed to show the boy how to bake, it was very clear that he had a sweet tooth. He could find recipes with no dairy, but actually getting Keith to bake without burning everything would be a harder task. Lance knew that Keith drank soy milk, but he always assumed it was because he was trying to be healthy. He never knew it was because he was lactose intolerant. He thought back to the time they had made smoothies and looked at Keith in confusion. He had practically downed a while smoothie full of ice cream and milk. He brought this up to Keith and for a second he simply laughed.

“I uh, I didn’t want to stop you and besides it tasted so good that the pain was sorta worth it. I just get a bad stomach ache so I wasn’t too worried about it. I just… I don’t wanna ruin tonight by feeling sick.” Lance could see the smile on Keith’s face and he felt himself light up. He loved this boy so much it hurt.

The two boys finally finished their desserts and by that time the sun was already set and the sky was a dark blue. The stars were bright, and the moon was shining and when they stood up Lance remembered one of the two things he had wanted to show Keith that night. He grabbed Keith’s hand and lightly pulled him down the street. Keith willingly followed and after a few minutes the two boys were walking side by side with their hands intertwined. Neither of them wanted to pull away so they stayed like that and when Lance neared the park he could feel Keith’s hand tighten around his own.

The park was littered with tall trees and there was a walkway that was dimly lit with pink lanterns and lights. When they walked through it Lance looked and saw the lights reflecting off of Keith’s eyes and the smile on his face, and he felt his chest tighten. He wanted to kiss the boy right then and there so bad. He wanted to just pull him aside behind the trees and kiss him, and run a hand through his hair. He just wanted to be with Keith so bad. He had to confess his feelings tonight. Not only because the mood was right, but because he wanted Keith to know so badly just how much he wanted to be with him.

“This is so beautiful.” Keith finally spoke out as he looked at the lit up trees and down the lit path. “They really go all out, huh?”

“Yeah, it really is beautiful.” Lance had his eyes glued to Keith as they walked and when he spoke he knew he had a wide smile plastered on his face. They got to the middle part of the park and when they did there was a small fountain in the middle of the circle area. Keith let go of Lance’s hand and Lance took the opportunity to pull out his phone and take a picture. When he looked at the photo Keith was looking up at the lights and he had a small smile on his face. Lance couldn’t help but smile when he looked at the photo. When Keith came back over he quickly put his phone away and made it seem like he was just admiring the lights. He would die of embarrassment if Keith knew he had taken the photo.

“I’m really glad you brought me here, this is gonna sound dumb, but this is probably the best night I’ve ever had in years.” Lance smiled as Keith took his hand again and they continued to walk down the path. The festival took up a few blocks and Lance was growing more excited because they were headed towards the games now.

When they exited out the other side of the small park Keith was the one dragging Lance now. He saw a game and the first thing he did was bring out his wallet and hand the man money. The game was just a simple tossing game, but as they got into it the two got more competative.

“If I win you pay for the next game.” Lance smirked. “Deal?”

“Deal.” Keith gave Lance a smile and as they went through the games they started to laugh more and focus less on who won or lost. As they neared the last game Lance had his eye on a blue teddy bear and as he looked at the plush Keith walked to the man running the stand and handed him some change.

“I’m going to win you that.” Keith smiled, as he picked up a dart and aimed it at the board of balloons. Lance watched as he missed a few, but he had shockingly got enough points and Lance had wide eyes as Keith handed him the bear. Lance let a large smile form on his face and he buried his face into the plush bear.

“This is the best birthday gift ever.” Lance spoke, realizing a few seconds after what he had said. Keith’s eyes were wide and Lance waited for him to say something.

“Wait. It’s your birthday?” Keith sounded shocked, and after a moment he threw his face into his hands. “You have been paying for things all night and it’s your birthday. Why didn’t you tell me!? I would have gotten you something or paid more! You’ve paid for so many things tonight and it’s your birthday urrg!”

“I just wanted to spend time with you.” Lance admitted, his face going red. “That’s why I suggested we go to this thing tonight. The best gift was just being with you so… don’t worry about it too much.” Lance’s face was already burning but now he he felt the rest of his body heat up. He had such a good opportunity to say something. All he had to do was just tell him. Tell him he liked him. Ask him to be his boyfriend, it wasn’t hard. He looked at Keith and the smile on his face was soft, and Lance had to look back to the ground for a minute. He just had to speak,

“I uh..” His voice was soft and he tried to get the words out, but as he looked up he saw that Keith was looking behind them with a little bit of a panicked face. Lance brought his gaze up and noticed a large crowd coming there way. It clicked with Lance that Keith probably didn’t like crowds so he decided to take Keith to the pier early. He figured he could tell Keith his feelings there. As they walked he could feel Keith’s grip getting softer and softer and eventually they intertwined their fingers. Lance kept a soft smile on his face as he brought Keith to the pier. No one ever watched fireworks there because everyone assumed the fireworks could not be seen. But one year while Lance was stargazing he noticed that the pier had one of the best views of the fireworks. It was a bit of a walk but when they got to the edge Lance turned around and gave Keith a big smile, almost as if he was presenting the sight to the boy.

“I figured we could watch the fireworks from here, the view is great and no one ever comes down here.” Lance looked at Keith;s face and he felt his chest tighten. He looked shocked, but his face seemed to be getting more red. He laughed a bit before pulling the boy along. It didn’t take long before they go to the end of the pier and Lance found himself already taking off his shoes and dipping his feet in the water, as the small waves rolled in Lance rolled up his jeans so they wouldn’t get as wet. He looked back and Keith was standing there awkwardly fiddling with his sweater. Lance offered the boy his hand and after a moment he hesitantly took it and sat down. Lance watched as he carefully took off his shoes and placed them beside him, and dipped his feet into the water. The weather was warm, but the chill of nighttime made Lance happy he decided to wear a sweater.

The Boys sat for what felt like forever and Lance was debating in his head. He just wanted to get the words out. Keith was looking out at the water and Lance couldn’t describe how happy he was. He loved his family and his friends but he knew that this was the best year he had ever had at the festival. In the back of his mind he wondered if they would be together long enough to come next year. Lance thought about the future a lot more now that he was with Keith. He had never really done that before. When he thought of the future he would think of a dead end job, and just unpleasant things. But now all he could picture was the future the two of them could have. It felt really silly, since he had only know the guy for a month. But Lance was already in deep. Living with someone you love kinda does that too you. Lance’s feelings were very real, and he still feared heartbreak.

Even when he knew Keith was harbouring some of the same emotions. There was always a chance that he might say no, or tell Lance it wouldn’t work. That he didn’t feel the same. Lance shuttered at the thought but even if Keith never wanted to be with him he would be okay with just being friends. He would be okay, as long as he was still able to be near Keith and joke with him, and have good times. Lance was staring out now, and suddenly he was speaking before he could even think.

“Keith… I uh. I have something to tell you.” His voice was small, and when he spoke those words Keith looked over to him, and tilted his head a bit. His eyebrows were furrowed a bit, and Lance could see the hint of worry. He wanted to kiss it away. “I… uh. I L… L…” Lance was stuttering a bit now, and he could feel his throat closing. He just needed to say it. He needed to get it over with. He opened his mouth to say the words, but as he did a large bang filled the sky and Lance felt himself falling, then a rush of cold. He brought his head up above water, and coughed a bit before looking around. He fucking fell in. He literally fell into the pier as he was about to confess. He let himself groan but when he looked up he could see Keith giggling. He had a huge smile on his face and even though he couldn’t hear the laughs he felt his chest get tighter. After a few moments Lance reached up and yanked the other boy in and for a split second he flailed in the water before Lance took a hold of his shoulders. Lance could see the panic in Keith’s face but as he brought a hand around to his back the panic started to drain from his face.

“I got you. I got you. You’re okay.” Lance said this until Keith stopped shaking and Lance knew he had fucked up. It was very clear Keith wasn’t a fan of water. He probably didn’t know how to swim that was why he was so hesitant to sit at first. Lance brought a hand up and brought the hair out of Keith’s face. He looked beautiful and Lance wanted to kiss him to bad, but his only concern was getting him out of the water, but when he tried Keith clinged to him. Lance let out a little laugh and wrapped his arm tight around the boy. He brought him to a shallow point where their feet could touch and Keith instantly relaxed.

“Fuck, I’m so sorry.” Lance spoke, his head and shoulders just breaching the surface. “God I had not idea, I feel stupid, are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Keith laughed, splashing Lance a bit. “That was kinda fun, Besides you were there so I wasn’t that scared.”

Lance smiled, but after a moment he was coughing when water hit his face. He looked at Keith who had a devilish smile and they started a splashing war. It went on for a little while, but when Keith lost his footing Lance was quick to grab him and bring him in close. They were almost nose to nose, and Lance could feel Keith shaking. He brought a hand up once again to move his hair away and when he did he felt the boy’s forehead touch his own.

“I’m not gonna let anything happen, okay?” Lance looked up and was met with dark purple eyes, it was a colour Lance had never really seen as an eye colour before. They could be mistaken for brown, but the pink lights in the distance made them stand out. He saw Keith nod and they stayed with their foreheads together for a while. Lance finally broke the silence, with a small laughter.

“I never really thought this was how the night was gonna go.” Lance had admitted. The loud boomed has stopped and now all that could be heard was the waves, and the sound of music in the distance. “I wanted this to go differently, I had… I had something to tell you.” Lance finally admitted.

“Yes?” Keith was looking up at Lance with expectant eyes and Lance felt his face heat up. He had started to get used to the feeling of his cheeks and body being warm. It was all due to Keith.

“I… uh I like you.” Lance had finally said it. “I really like you, more than a lot of things. And I… I want to be together with you for a long time, you make me really happy.” He waited for an answer, but Keith was quick to turn his head away. He had his eyebrows furrowed and Lance was waiting for rejection.

“I… I need some time.” Lance felt like a weight was lifted. It was better than what he was hoping for. “I just… I want some time to think… I’m sorry that’s probably not the answer you wanted. I’m just… I don’t wanna rush into something and… I don’t know… Hurt you.”

Lance chuckled a bit and brought a hand up to Keith’s cheek. He rubbed his thumb along the wet skin and sighed, a smile forming onto his face. He brought his lips up to Keith’s forehead and pressed a gentle kiss keeping his mouth there as he spoke. He still had an arm around Keith.

“Don’t ever apologize for that, I want you to be comfortable. I’ll wait as long as I need to and I’ll be with you no matter what you decide. I just… I couldn’t keep that in anymore. It had been harbouring for a while now, and I just thought tonight would be the best time to do it.” Lance felt himself being pulled in by two arms and suddenly Keith was burying himself into Lance’s shoulder. Lance chuckled as he wrapped his other arm around the boy. They were still in the water, but neither of them seemed to care.

“Thanks for being here for me, and being patient with me. God I just… I don’t want to hurt you, so I want to be sure I’m doing the right thing.” Lance nodded and pulled away with a smile. He could see that Keith was looking down and he brought his hand up to the boys chin and gently brought his face up.

“I’ll wait… I want you to be comfortable, and confident in whatever you choose. Don’t worry about my feelings it’s about what you want. Remember that.” Lance felt his chest tighten when a wide smile came across Keith’s face. He wanted to kiss him so badly, but he didn’t. He would wait until Keith was ready. The last thing he wanted was to make the boy uncomfortable.

After what felt like ages the two boys finally made their way out of the water. They went back down the pier to grab their shoes and when they finally headed back to the truck Lance was really happy. He had finally told Keith how he felt and it was like a large weight off of his shoulders. As they got to the car Keith threw off his sweater and rung out his sweater. Lance did the same but suddenly he remembered the stitches on Keith’s arm.

“Shit we gotta clean that when he get back, the pier water isn’t the cleanest.” Lance watched as Keith looked down to his arm and shrugged. Lance rolled his eyes playfully and when they finally rung out their shirts and tried to get the water out of their pants they got into the truck and made their way home.

Lance dozed off, and when he woke up he didn’t know how he got into his bed. But he had a pretty good idea. As he tried to get back to sleep for a few more hours his face had a permanent smile.

Chapter Text

Only a few days had passed and Lance was actually shocked. Nothing had really changed between him and Keith, and that was surprising. He assumed Keith would have started to close himself off or things may have gotten more awkward since Lance had outed his feelings. But it seemed to Lance that the opposite had happened.

“What are you doing?” Keith asked, crossing his arms as he glared down at Lance, clearly no real malice in his expression.

“Well, I wanted to see if the animals like my music.” Lance grinned as he turned it up a little louder on his phone. “Usually I have earbuds but I wanted to see if they would enjoy my music too.”

“Just keep working oh my god.” Keith couldn’t help the smile on his face and when Lance watched him exit the barn he let himself chuckle a bit and turned the music up louder. He hummed while he worked and it felt good to get his feelings off his chest. It felt even better that Keith wasn’t pushing him away, he had almost expected Keith to push him away or make things awkward but that wasn’t the case at all and Lance was over the moon. He had even started showing Keith how to bake. He swore he had gained at least 10 pounds from all the junk they had been eating lately due to all the sweets Lance had been showing Keith how to make.

Lance after a few hours had finally finished tending to the animals and when he walked outside and closed up the barn doors he looked up at the sky and smiled. The sky was orange and as he brought his arm up to wipe at the sweat on his face he felt a sudden rush of cold water on his side and yelped. He was was quick to jump away from the water but soon it was on him again and he started to run from the source. He could hear giggling and when he looked behind him he could see Keith holding some sort of water gun. Lance chuckled and stopped dead in his tracks, he felt Keith hit against his back and it threw him off balance but he turned out quickly and snatched the water gun. He grinned and let out a sly chuckle when Keith had realized what had just happened.

Lance didn’t hesitate for one minute and drenched the boy, until the water gun was empty. As he threw it to the side, out of breath from chasing Keith around the yard he felt wet arms slide around him and suddenly Keith was pressing his cold wet body onto Lance. For a second Lance was annoyed and yelped at the sudden coldness but then it set in that Keith had his arms around him. He let himself smile, and when the boy had let go he missed the content.

“There now were even. I can’t believe that backfired on me.” Keith pouted as he pulled off his shirt and rung it out. Lance let out a laugh and copied the boy. They stayed in silence for a few seconds and suddenly Lance saw Keith snap his head to the forest in the corner of his vision he looked over and tilted his head a bit. Keith looked like he was studying the forest that was off in the distance behind the house. It wasn’t too far but it was close enough for sounds to be easily heard from it like owls or animals running around.

“Uh…. what are you…” Lance looked over to the trees and nothing really was different, so he was starting to get a bit concerned, maybe Keith had seen something Lance hadn’t or the dog was back. His blood run cold at the thought of that dog being back, but in all honesty it was probably impossible for that to happen, besides Fluffy did a number on him, so there was no way that dog would be back any time soon.

“Shh Lance.” Keith’s response was quick and as he started into the forest his eyebrows drew in further. “I think tonight is the night, oh my god.” Lance was starting to get a bit scared. Maybe Keith was actually crazy, and just really good at hiding it. He looked back to the forest and back to Keith a few times before speaking again.

“Okay, you’re scaring me. What’s going on? Tonight is the night for what?” Lance suddenly felt a hand over his mouth and Keith was looking at him very seriously.

“You’re gonna scare him away, shut up. I mean tonight is the night I might actually see Mothman. I’m 90 percent sure he is in those woods. All of the farmers in the area have sighting stories.”

“Moth… man?” Lance had did a double take for a minute. Okay so Keith was actually crazy, it was confirmed now. Lance had heard Mothman stories when he was younger but most of the time they were complete bullshit. He let himself chuckle at the thought and was met with a death glare. There is absolutely no way that Keith actually bought all of the stories. Cryptids were all stories, they weren’t actually real.

“Yes Lance, Mothman.” Keith huffed, clearly annoyed now. “There has been so many sightings, so many journals. He is definitely out there.” Lance smiled and had to hold in a laugh. If Keith seriously believed that Mothman was out there he could play along even if for him it was nothing but stories.

“Okay, well what you waiting for, are we gonna go check it out or what?” Lance asked, started to head back to the house. They clearly had to dry off first, but the thought of a night adventure in the woods sounded fun. It wasn’t big enough to get lost in, but it was big enough that they could wander for a while without reaching any end. Lance smiled when Keith’s eyes lit up and the boy ran past him into the house. He was like a little kid on Christmas, it was incredible.

After drying off and changing into different clothes the two boys were set to go. They were both equipped with backpacks that held first aid kids just in case and some food, because Lance was gonna be damned if he couldn’t snack on this little adventure. He figured that they would just be walking around for 10 or 15 minutes until Keith finally gave up, but he was wrong.

Lance had no idea how long they had been walking but it was pitch dark now, and Keith was still looking around. He was started to get tired, but he still trailed behind him, trying not to get separated. As they walked Keith told Lance all about Mothman and eventually he moved onto other cryptids. He talked to Lance about Bigfoot, Chupacabra, and the Lake Worth Monster. By the time Keith had finally stopped talking about them Lance felt like an expert. He nearly lost it when Keith started to talk about aliens, but as he talked more Lance was getting more into it. He started to ask questions about all that Keith was talking about. When Keith got to the topic of mermaids Lance lit up. He had always loved the idea of mermaids and he listened intently when Keith talked about the legends and sightings.

As the night dragged on Lance looked to his phone and when he saw the time he stopped for a minute and looked around. Keith did the same, and the expression he made worried Lance. They were lost. It wasn’t a huge deal, because they could see through the trees in the daylight, but that meant that they would have to camp out. Lance was glad he had convinced Keith to bring all the supplies while he packed snacks.

“I can’t believe you got us lost… in the woods at night.” Lance finally spoke sitting down on the cold ground, he had no real frustration though these woods were pretty much harmless the only things lurking were dear and small forest animals. Oh yeah, and at one point some big rabid dog. Lance tried to push that thought down, there was no need to panic. The temperature was starting to drop as it got later into the night, but for the time being Lance was comfortable in the sweater he was wearing.

“I… I didn’t even say anything yet. We aren’t lost.” Keith didn’t even sound like he believed what he was saying and Lance chuckled a bit. Causing Keith to look away, he couldn’t be making it more obvious really.

“Yeah, well you didn’t need to say it. We can just sit until morning, or something. Then we will be able to see the barn through the trees, or anything really that will get us out of here. This area isn’t that dense.” Lance watched as Keith sat down, and as he did he pulled out some snacks from his bag. He had packed mostly sweets they had made that he had packed into baggies. He recalled Keith calling him a soccer mom when he had packed them and when he did Lance hit him across the head with the baggy full of cookies. He laughed a bit at the memory.

The boys sat and talked, but after a while the conversation ran dry. When Lance checked his phone it was only 1am, and he let out a groan. There was no way they could just sit out here all night in the dark, their snacks would only last so long between the both of them, and then they would just be stuck there in awkward silence. In the corner of his eye he saw Keith reaching into his backpack and he figured maybe the boy was grabbing some sort of blanket but instead he pulled out a pack of matches. Lance could literally kiss Keith for thinking of bringing matches, but Lance wanting to kiss Keith was nothing new.

Lance watched as Keith used his foot to make a small circle in the dirt and started to grab any twigs around him, there was a lot of dry dead leaves so Lance grabbed those too and set them into the circle. Lance was glad that Keith had brought matches because he would never admit it but he was sorta scared. It was pitch black now and the trees blocked off the moonlight, so even when his eyes adjusted he couldn’t see all that well and it made him sorta uncomfortable. As soon as the fire was lit Keith worked to get it larger and when it was a decent size he sat back and leaned against the tree, he let his eyes fall closed and Lance looked at him and let himself smile.

“Sorry I got us lost.” Keith finally spoke, opening his eyes a bit and looking over. Lance just shrugged and brought his hands to the fire to warm them. He didn’t mind really, he liked spending time with Keith, besides he was kinda having fun. It was like impromptu camping, and he had to admit it was fun. Lately things has been a little bland. All they did was work, and watch TV, which wasn’t bad either, it was just nice to have a change.

“It’s fine, hey we might even find mothman, or like bigfoot while we are out here.” Lance laughed, watching a smile light up on Keith’s face. “That was the whole purpose of the trip right.”

“Thanks, you know, for going along with this.” Keith finally spoke. “When I was a kid I really loved the idea of these things being real, it’s still fun to pretend I guess. You probably thought I was crazy at first.”

Lance could see the smile fall from Keith’s face and instantly he wanted to see it again. He thought for a minute before speaking.

“You never know.” Lance finally broke the silence with a small grin on his face. “There are probably a lot of things that we don’t know about, and I for one will never stop believing that mermaids are real!” Lance beamed. “I’ve visited my grandmother enough times in Cuba, and have been to the sea enough to know it’s definitely hiding things in the depths.”

Lance watched as Keith’s face lit up and instantly he felt better. He loved getting a smile on Keith’s face. They sat for a moment and it was silent with the only sound being an owl in the distance and the crackling of the fire. Lance eventually pulled out the big blanket Keith had packed and threw it around his shoulders. He held the one end out with his arm closest to Keith and scooched over to wrap it around him. Keith turned his head over and when he did their noses were almost touching and Lance felt his face heat up. Both of the boys were quick to look away and Keith finally grabbed the blanket from Lance so he could retract his arm, but Lance decided against it and kept it around Keith’s shoulder.

“Is this okay?” Lance asked, looking over a bit and seeing a small smile on Keith’s face. He felt Keith lean into him a bit and instantly felt like a weight was lifted. For a while it was silent as they watched the fire, and Lance had wondered for a moment if Keith had dozed off, but soon the silence was broken.

“What’s your family like?” Lance looked over and Keith had fully rested his head on Lance’s shoulder now and he felt his heart start to race, he hadn’t even noticed. He thought about the question for a moment and sighed, before answering. He could talk for hours about his family and stories.

“Well, you met my mother.” Lance started, smiling a bit. “She is so kind hearted, but she didn’t take any shit from any of us. She would kick us all into shape the second we started to act up. She had this spoon, god this spoon and if we did something bad she would wack us on the butt with it.” Lance could feel Keith chuckle on his shoulder and he started to relax. “My older brother got it the most out of all of us, he was the real trouble maker, but now he’s a vet. So he really turned it around, he wanted to be a sports teacher or a coach, but after he had gotten hit by a car and couldn’t play anymore being around animals was his number one therapy for not being able to play, and it kinda sparked another passion. He’s a great guy I bet he would like you!”

“You think so?” Keith asked, making Lance chuckle a bit, finally speaking again.

“If my mom liked you, then my whole family would love you, I mean I put up with you, so I think they could too.”

“Oh shut up, you love me.” Keith laughed, pulling away and looking at Lance with a smile.

“Well, yeah.” Lance stuttered. His cheeks lit up and for a second Keith’s smile faltered. Lance could see his face getting red and after a few seconds he threw his face into his hands and groaned. Lance laughed a bit and leaned over to bump his shoulder. He wasn’t lying after all, but he hoped he hadn’t made Keith comfortable.

“You are such a dork.” Keith finally spoke almost coherently, peaking through the fingers of his one hand. Lance laughed and leaned back onto the tree they were sitting against.

“Yeah well you’re stuck with me.” Lance could see Keith smile at that and, he felt his heart swell. Fuck he loved this boy so much.

“Yeah well I think I can deal with that, I kinda like having you around.” Keith admitted, leaving Lance’s heart racing once again. He wondered how long before he actually would need to go to a doctor for possible heart problems. His heart around Keith was constantly beating out of his chest.

“Kinda?” Lance grinned, raising one of his eyebrows.

“Okay, a lot.” Keith laughed, leaning back into Lance. Lance threw his arm back around Keith and rubbed at his shoulder watching the fire crackle into the night. He really was happy to have met Keith, it had practically changed his life for the better. He couldn’t wait to introduce him to Hunk and Pidge, Lance was sure they would adore him. Hunk adored everyone and Pidge had a soft spot underneath all of her memes and sarcasm.

After a while the two boys dozed off, and when Lance had woken up he could feel small droplets of rain hitting his cheeks. He looked up and another few droplets fell down and after a few seconds he shook Keith a little who was nestled into his side. He shook his head a bit but Lance simply shook him a little harder.

“Keith it’s raining, I think it’s light enough to see through the trees get up.” Lance spoke softly, pushing him a little. “C’mon, get up.”

“Five more minutes.” Lance groaned and stood up, watching as Keith fell over onto the ground he sat up and rubbed his head while glaring at Lance, but as the rain picked up he finally got into action and started to pack his things. Sure enough as they looked around they could see the red barn through the trees and started to make their way. Things were silent between the two but it was comfortable, and by the time they had made it out of the forest and into the clearing of Keith’s farm is was pouring and both boys were running to the house. As they got closer to the door fluffy and the other dogs were jumping for joy and barking and all trying to run out of the dog door at once. It was a cute sight and when they had finally gotten out Lance and Keith were both nearly tackled by the dogs. They were covered in mud, so for a little while Keith and Lance just stood in the rain to try and clean off. Their clothes were dirty and they would need to be washed but the heavy rainfall did wonders to clean their skin off and make their trip inside much less messy. Keith looked annoyed as he stood in the rain, but Lance was eating it up. This was the first heavy rainfall of the summer season and he was ecstatic. He threw his hands up towards the sky and basked in the rain as it fell onto his face and when he finally opened his eyes and looked over to Keith his face ws red and his mouth was parted. He looked like he was in awe and Lance smiled, before starting to giggle. Keith looked adorable in the rain, and his hair was wet but also sticking up everywhere he couldn’t help but laugh, which caused Keith to start sputtering which was even cuter.

“What?” Keith asked, crossing his arms before looking away. “What’s so funny?”

“You look cute in the rain, your hair’s all messy.” Lance pointed out, bring a hand over to pull at some of his hair. Keith pulled away and lightly swatted at Lance’s hand, but he had a small smile on his face.

“Yeah, well what a coincidence. I was thinking the same thing.” Instantly the smile on Lance’s face faltered, but he was quick to try and compose himself. He pushed Keith away a little and finally started to walk towards the house, finally a little less muddy due to the heavy rain.

“Shut up, Mullet head.” Lance blushed, not seeing the wide smile that was very present on Keith’s face behind him.

When they both had finally dried off Lance had already put on his raincoat and rain boots so that he could go and tend to the animals in the barn, it wasn’t raining as heavily as before but it was still coming down and after Lance had changed he decided that he would actually dress for the weather. His rain boots were black and and his raincoat was blue with white polkadots. He had remembered getting this as a gift from his sister and he was shocked by how much he actually wore it out, even when it wasn’t raining. It was a nice coat, he had to take advantage of that even if the weather was nice out. As he stepped outside he could already feel himself feeling less stressed from the fresh scent of the rain. It was a smell that eased Lance, he had so many fond memories of the rain with his family and friends. As he walked to the barn his boots sunk into the mud and he started to feel that nostalgia sink in. A smile reached his face and he almost has to stop himself from taking his coat off and just letting the rain hit him again, but he had a job to do.

When Lance entered the barn he quickly took off his coat, and hung it up before doing that he did everyday. He made sure the barn was clean, and if anything needed fixing he would fix it. As he went to go feed the animals he had noticed something. When he entered Red’s stable he started to feel a wetness hit him. He looked up and a drop of rain dropped right into his eye. He quickly snapped his head down and groaned before moving over and looked again. There was a hole in the barn roof and Lance groaned. He couldn’t move Red to another stable, because there wasn’t one, and he didn’t want the horse to be stuck in a wet stable. He tried to measure the hole with his eyes and when he looked over at a piece of plywood that was leaning in the back of the barn he got an idea.

It wasn’t raining that much. So Lance figured he could just go up from the side of the barn, patch the hole and it would all be smooth sailing from there. He ran over and picked up the piece of plywood it only took a few minutes for him to cut the board and when he did he grabbed the tool belt Keith had lying around and slung it around his waist. It was a bit snug so he adjusted it before heaving out with the ladder and piece of wood. He looked up and luckily the sides of the barn weren’t that high, so it would be an easy trip to the top, but as he started to climb and made his way to the hole he noticed that it was much higher than he had imagined. He put the board down and smiled when it covered the hole perfectly, but his ease wasn’t there for long as he struggled to get the hammer and nails out of the tool belt. He had one one on the roof keeping him stable while the other was searching for nails and as he dug his hand through the pockets the wind and rain started to get heavier and a few times he almost had lost his footing. He looked around and as he he finally found a nail a loud thunder crack rang in his ears and caused him to jump a bit.

“Fuck.” Lance mouthed as he regained his footing. He started to tap away at the board as quickly as possible, and when he had finally gotten the four nails in he was happy to just be able to get down. He was really starting to regret the idea, but he figured i could only get better. But of course he was wrong.

Lance finally turned back around and when he did he looked down to see the ladder was pushed to the ground. He groaned and wondered if he could just make a jump from the lower half but when he got closer he realized it might be too high. The last thing Lance wanted was to injure himself again or break a leg, the less broken bones he had in his life, the better. He slowly inched towards the edge of the roof but as the rain got slicker he started to lose his footing and at one point he lost it all together and slid a few feet forward. He closed his eyes and was bracing for impact but he was lucky that the eavestrough was there to catch his feet and keep him on the roof. He sat there for a few seconds, in shock by what just happened and when he finally opened his eyes he saw Keith on the ground frantically getting the ladder back up. He looked panicked and Lance instantly felt guilty, when he had fallen he thought he had heard a yell, and now he knew that that had been Keith. He made him worry, because he screwed up. Again.

As he started to climb down the ladder he lost his footing a few times due to the rain, but he was able to get down safely, breathing a sigh of relief. He looked over at Keith to thank him, but he wasn’t met with the relief he was expecting. He got a glare as Keith threw the ladder down and closed the gap between them. Lance had no idea what was happening until Keith grabbed his sopping shirt collar and pulled him close baring his teeth. He looked furious and Lance instantly wanted to curl up on himself. He had messed up big time.

“ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?” Keith growled, yelling to speak over the thunder that was going on every few seconds and the pounding rain. “YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN HURT BECAUSE OF THAT STUPID MOVE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT.”

“I… I just.” Lance tried to speak but he was cut off and this time he flinched a little bit, Keith had fire in his eyes, and Lance had never seen him get like this. He really hated being yelled at, and part of him wanted to cry but mostly he was shocked. ‘

“You weren’t thinking, that’s what.” Keith spoke, venom leaking from every word. “You literally never think do you? You just do stupid things without thinking of the consequences. That could have killed you if you had landed the wrong way Lance.” Keith was still yelling but at this point Lance was just trying to will himself not to cry. He knew Keith was right, sure he was being harsh, but he was right. He just hated being yelled at. Even in elementary school he had cried every time the teacher had ever scolded him or yelled at him.

“I know..” Lance’s voice was small now and he was avoiding eye contact with Keith now. He had let go of his collar a few seconds ago but the space between them still felt like it wasn’t enough. He just wanted to get away before he couldn’t hold back his tears anymore, so that he could try and calm himself down. His heart was beating in his chest and he felt like he was going to puke.

“No, you don’t know.” The words hit Lance, and as he watched Keith storm away his eyes welled up with tears. His heart was racing and he felt sick, he slowly put the tool belt back into the barn and he looked up and while there was still a few droplets going through the wood there was no longer a steady stream of rain falling into Red’s stable. He wanted to be happy for that, but he was too on edge so he simply made his way back inside. His hands were red and sore from the roof, but he didn’t even notice, the small cuts were the least of his worries. When he kicked his shoes off he was quick to notice that the only thing in sight was the dogs all sleeping in a pile. He looked at the clock and it wasn’t even close to dinner time, so he decided he would just cook later.

He sat around for a while, letting tears stream down his face, but eventually his tears ran out and he was left feeling tired and hungry. He had laid on the couch for almost 6 hours and there was still no sign of Keith, so Lance decided he would keep his distance. Keith was probably still mad and the last thing he wanted to do was make it worse. He cooked dinner by himself, but he made two portions just in case Keith came down later. He put it into a tupperware container and when he wrote the note he let himself sigh. He wondered if Keith would even eat it. He hoped he would.

Lance looked at the clock on the wall as he ate and every few minutes he found himself looking at the stairs. Hoping Keith could come down so that they could talk. He wondered why Keith had gotten so mad, sure he could have gotten hurt, but he didn’t. So he wondered why he had gotten so mad.

Because all you ever do it mess up.

Lance sighed and rested his head against his palm as he pushed his food around. It was 8 o'clock already and he wondered why he had even made dinner. He wasn’t even that hungry and he knew this would happen. He looked at the fridge and thought back to the tupperware container full of food and it clicked. He wanted to cook for Keith to make sure if he came down later he had something good to eat. Lance wondered why he had even did that, Keith had been harsh, and it hurt to think about. He didn’t have to yell, and get angry. It was honestly uncalled for, and sure Lance might have had it coming but Keith didn’t have to play on his weak spots. He knew he was stupid and didn’t think. He didn’t need Keith to tell him that.

Lance let out a huff and picked up his place, wrapping it up and placing it in the fridge. He was just angry now, and upset so he decided he would get to bed early. It would be for the best. Lance hated to dwell on things that made him angry, because if he did then he might do something he would regret, so sometimes he would just sleep through those feelings. If he did that then he would usually wake up with a more clear head. He could talk to Keith in the morning about what had happened and hopefully he could find out why he had gotten so mad, but for now he just wanted to sleep away his anger. It made him mad that Keith had yelled at him like that, it was an honest mistake, and he had just done it to help. He groaned when he fell back onto his bed.

He laid there for a few hours with his headphones on in only his boxers, and as the clock hit around 1 am he finally decided he would sleep. He pulled out his headphones and placed them beside him, sighing as he turned to lay on his stomach. He pulled the pillow close to his face and closed his eyes, but it didn’t last long. Lance sat up when he heard a small yelp. He thought it was one of the dogs but as time passed another yelp, louder this time, made him realize it wasn’t. He got out of his bed and he heard Keith’s bed creaking. Part of him wondered if he should even bother, but when it stopped abruptly he figured he should at least see if the guy was okay. He knocked on the door and when Keith opened the door his hair was a mess, and he had sweat all over his body. His shirt was wet and he panting. Lance could see his eyes were red, and realized he had been crying. His eyebrows drew together at the sight.

“Are you okay?” Lance asked, tilting his head a bit. Keith was avoiding all eye contact and as Lance raised a hand to his face Keith slapped it away lightly. Lance instantly forgot about his previous anger when he watched more tears stream down the boys face.

“Yes, I’m fine.” Keith tried to close the door, but Lance was quick to stop it with his foot. He pushed it open and stepped in, watching as Keith glared at the floor. He wanted to help, and he knew that Keith wanted help, but the boy of course was too stubborn to admit it.

“No, you’re not. Lemme help.” Lance whispered. “I know you might still be angry with me, but I don’t want you to go through whatever this is alone. It was some sort of nightmare right.”

“I’m not mad at you.” Keith sighed looking up. “I.. I feel like such an ass, I had no right to yell at you. But I was so scared, and I saw you slip and almost fall off. I guess getting angry was my first response. You aren’t an idiot, and I shouldn’t have blown up at you.”

“It was kind of stupid.” Lance laughed. “I should have been thinking more, it wasn’t that smart. But there was a really big over Red’s stable and I wanted to fix it.” When Lance said that Keith’s eyes widened and he just groaned, throwing his face into his face into his hands.

“I’m so sorry.” Keith finally got out. Lance simply smiled and placed a hand on Keith’s face. Getting him to look up.

“Hey it’s okay, really I was mad for a little bit. But I get why you did it now. I forgive you.” Lance smiled. “Now, let’s get you out of these sweaty clothes, it’s probably uncomfortable. I’ll go make you tea, if you want.”

“You don’t have to.” Keith mumbled as he pulled his shirt over his head, Lance really only being able to see due to the moonlight shining through Keith’s window.

“I’ll be back, just get into bed I’ll bring it up. Nightmares can be tough, especially alone.” Lance headed out of the room and before heading downstairs he grabbed one of his fluffiest sweaters and pulled it out, before throwing on a t-shirt. He walked down the stairs with the sweater and made the cup of tea, he added a bit of honey to add to the taste and brought it up setting it on the nightstand. Keith was sitting in bed and Lance sat on the edge of the bed. He held out the sweater and as Keith took it his face got a little bit redder. Being in Keith’s room late at night made him a bit flustered.

“It’s really comfy, so if you wanna wear it go ahead.” Keith smiled a bit before pulling it over his head. He looked a lot better from earlier, but Lance didn’t want to leave. He hated nightmares and being alone after them.

“Thanks, if you want you can go back to bed, I should be fine now with this.” Keith smiled a bit as he picked up the mug, but Lance just stayed put.

“You know we could talk if you wanted about the nightmare.” Lance finally spoke, hoping Keith wouldn’t feel to uncomfortable by the request. They were close but not everyone could easily open up about their problems.

“I don’t know it’s kinda weird, morbid I guess.” Keith sighed, pulling up his blanket and scooching over so Lance could take a place beside him. Lance hesitated for a few seconds before moving and laying on his back beside Keith. He looked up at the ceiling that had My Chemical Romance posters, and other posters of various other artists that Lance giggled at in his head. He sat silently and waited for Keith to continue. “I guess seeing you almost fall really scared me because ever time I closed my eyes to sleep I just kept imagining it actually happening. You falling the wrong way and breaking something, or well, worse. Sorry if that’s weird.”

“Nah.” Lance admitted, keeping his eyes focused on the various posters above him. “The same thing happened to me when you that crazy dog almost killed you.” Lance paused for a moment and looked over to see Keith looking directly at him. He looked back to the ceiling and sighed. “I guess we both have hard times dealing with bad events, huh?” Lance laughed a little, but it died in his throat.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Keith finally spoke, his voice small. “I don’t know maybe I could have helped, even if it was only a little bit. I wish I would have noticed. I saw your eye bags too I just, I just never found a good time to ask.”

“It’s okay. You know me.” Lance shrugged. “I probably would have hid it anyways. I’m not exactly that good at opening up.”

“Well, I’m here for you.” Keith spoke, causing Lance’s face to heat up. “You are here for me, and I’m gonna always do the same. It’s what friends do.”

“Yeah, friends.” Lance had a smile on his face but it quickly went away. He never really thought about Keith actually rejecting him. He was so caught up in his initial answer that he forgot there was still a chance he wouldn’t want to be with Lance. He seemed to forget about this when he felt a shift in the bed and suddenly an arm was around him. He looked down and Keith was now against his chest. Lance was frozen, and after a few seconds he placed his hand on top of Keith’s head and started to stroke his hands through his hair. He was a little uncomfortable but he didn’t mind. He would take any chance he could get to cuddle Keith. Keith had even initiated it as well, he smiled a bit as his face lit up and he had to stop himself from squeaking a bit. He loved his boy so much, and it made him so happy that they were growing closer on a more intimate level.

“I uh, I hope this is okay.” Keith stuttered, tensing up a little. Lance simply hummed and continued to play with his hair. It was coarse from the rain that it had been subjected too, but Lance didn’t mind since his was the same. He lightly combed through the hair and when he had thought Keith was asleep he had tried to get up but Keith had a tight hold on him, so he simply stayed put. He didn’t know what time he had fallen asleep, but he knew that he had Keith in his chest when he did, and he had slept well because he didn’t wake up until morning.

Chapter Text

When Lance woke up he was holding something soft. He snuggled closer to the warmth, and when he opened his eyes he was met with Keith’s sleeping face, he tensed at the sight and looked down to see that he was flushed with Keith and his arm was around the boy, going under his shirt in the back. Lance kept himself frozen in place and he held his breath while he watched the boy sleep beside him. He looked to peaceful and cute, and Lance wanted to die. He stayed still for a long time, and eventually he gained the courage to try and pry Keith’s arm off of him, but when he tried Keith simply pulled him in closer. Lance tensed and after some debating he decided if he couldn’t leave he would just fall back asleep, it didn’t take him long to fall back into a peaceful sleep.

When Lance had finally woken up for the second time and looked beside him the bed was empty. He looked at the clock and noticed he had slept almost an hour before waking up and sighed as he sat up and rubbed his face. The spot on the bed beside him was still warm so he assumed that Keith had just left. It took Lance a few minutes to fully wake up but when he finally got himself out of bed he felt energized. He hadn’t slept that well in a long time, and a part of him knew it was because of Keith.

“You know, it’s a little rude to leave someone in an empty bed.” Lance grinned as he made his way into the kitchen, not mentioning how he had tried to do the same thing. He waited for a response but he got none as he watched Keith standing in front of the oven over a frying pan that was sizzling. Lance’s smile fell and as he walked over to the boy he got more concerned, but soon he started to smile once again when he saw the red that had completely taken over Keith’s face.

“Y’know I slept really well last night.” Lance teased, stepping back from the boy and taking a seat at the dining table, Lance took in all of his morning features like his messy hair and his haphazard clothes and gave a happy sigh. He could get used to a view like this for the rest of his life. His eyes wandered on the bandage that was on his arm and he looked down at his own arm that was now bandage free. There was a pretty decent sized scar on his arm, but he was happy that his bandage was finally off. It was annoying to have to clean the cut every day, and honestly, if it weren’t for Keith he probably would have put if off for far longer than he had. Luckily Keith’s arm was getting better and soon he would be able to get the stitches removed.

“Thanks for, uh, helping me last night.” Keith finally spoke, not looking over.

“Don’t mention it.” Lance smiled, leaning his head against his hand. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.” He could see a small smile show up on Keith’s face and he felt his stomach flip. He didn’t think that he would ever get over Keith’s smile, it wasn’t rare but when he smiled it was special and Lance took it in everytime like it was the last time he would ever see it. “So mullet, what are you burning today?” Lance asked, watching as the smile on Keith's face turned to a scowl.

“Well it’s bacon, but since I’m burning it I guess it’s all for me then.” Keith had turned his head back to face him and Lance’s smile fell into a look of annoyance, and when it did Keith sent him a devilish grin. Lance always forgot just how annoying Keith could be, it was true that love could be blinding, but he also knew he adored Keith when he gave him a run for his money. Someone who came back stronger was fun and it made things interesting. He wouldn’t like Keith nearly as much if they boy didn’t razz him every chance he got.

“I’ll just make my own bacon then.” Lance winked as he got up and walked over, the smell was making him nearly drool already and as he finally got beside Keith he actually noticed that he was doing a really good job. Lance knew Keith was improving, but Keith was still prone to burning food. A lot. So Lance was impressed. After a few moments, he finally went into the fridge and grabbed the carton of eggs and the soy milk. Keith continued with the bacon, while Lance worked on mixing the eggs and milk together to make omelettes. Lance still didn’t trust Keith to mix eggs because the last time he had mixed eggs Lance was covered and being covered in eggs wasn’t exactly on Lance’s list of things he desired.

After a while, the two finally sat down to eat and Lance couldn’t keep a smile off his face. Keith was ranting about their Mothman expedition from the day before, and Lance was happy to listen. Keith had even suggested they go camping in the words properly one night and Lance was quick to agree, camping was always fun and with Keith so set on finding cryptids, Lance had to admit it added so much more fun to the trip. He loved how passionate Keith was, about everything he loved. The conversation soon moved to the bike Keith was fixing up, and Lance simply listened with a small smile. Lance started to fixate on Keith’s hands as they grew more animated and he noticed the bracelet once again. Lance had remembered seeing it once before and he began to wonder what the significance of it was. Obviously, it was important if Keith was wearing it often.

“That bracelet is really beautiful, I’ve only noticed you wearing it a few times,” Lance admitted after Keith had stopped talking.

“It was my mother’s.” Keith smiled, bringing his hands to his chest and playing with the bracelet in one hand. “I don’t wear it all the time, but when I do I just feel better, almost like she’s with me I guess.”

“She would be really proud of you.” Lance finally spoke. “You grew up to be such a good person, and that’s all they could ask for.”

“Both of them would have adored you.” Keith smiled, making Lance’s heart nearly stop. Lance had never seen Keith look so adoring. He looked so full of love and happiness in that moment, and Lance was having a hard time trying to act normal.

“Me? Pssh.” Lance chuckled a bit. “I doubt it, I’m pretty obnoxious.”

“Well, that’s not exactly true. You are, but also you listened to me talk about cryptids for at least 6 hours last night. That’s not even something Shiro could put up with, I think they would admire your tolerance of me.” Keith chuckled.

“There isn’t much to tolerate if all I gotta do is put up with your cryptid talk and occasional isolation I can handle that.” Lance winked. “Besides I’m used to this kinda talk. Whenever I was little and we were in Cuba visiting she would tell us stories of these creatures and legends so that my other sibling and me would behave.”

“What kinda creatures?” The instant Keith had asked his eyes were lit up and Lance let out a laugh. He was shocked that he had gone a whole and a half with Keith and was old finding out about his cryptid obsession now. It was fun.

“Well, she told us stories of a giant Shark that roamed the waters, it was so big that the locals had called it El Monstruo De Cojimar, or basically The Beast of Cojimar. My grandmother used this story to get us to stay by the shore, and I gotta say it worked. Hearing about a shark that was big enough to be considered prehistoric really kept me and my siblings away from the deep waters for a long time. To be honest that story still makes me a little wary of deep water.” Lance laughed, noticing the smile that was on Keith’s face.

“I’ve never been to a beach, I bet it’s fun,” Keith admitted, going back to eating his food. Lance let his jaw drop and looked at the clock, the time was 9am and Lance had already decided he was going to take Keith to the beach today. Of course, they would have to feed the animals and check on the growth of the plants outside, but Lance figured they could get that all done before 12 pm if they were really efficient.

“That settles it.” Lance piped up, picking up his plate that still had a few scraps and throwing them away. “Today, me and you, the beach. We can get all the farm work done early I’ll work extra hard!”

“I don’t think... “ Keith was cut off, by Lance already pulling him up the stairs and pushing him into his room.

“Get dressed, we have some work to do! I know the July farmers market is soon, but you also you need to go to the beach. What the hell?” Lance yelled a bit to be heard through the door. He ran into his room and changed into clean clothes and when he made his way outside he wasted no time running into the barn and tending to the animals. Fluffy and the rest of the dogs followed him along as he went into each stall to clean them out. After doing it nearly every day for a month and a half Lance could clean all of the stalls with ease and nearly no time at all. He loved working with the animals and he had to admit he was a little scared of them at first. But he was quick to grow comfortable with them. He and Red had a really nice bond he thought, he wondered if Keith would still teach him to ride. He blushed a bit when he thought of Keith teaching him how to ride a horse, but quickly pushed it back. He needed to focus on the task at hand, the best beach experiences were the all day beach days. Lance figured it would be fun to let loose a little too. Lance knew Keith had a stash of alcohol and he planned on bringing some of it with them. The beach was fun, but he had to admit drinks made it a little better.

Lance had finally finished the stalls and when he had gone to grab the food he could see Keith outside already checking on the plants and the trees. The fruit on the trees was finally coming in and the smile on Keith’s face was wide. The farm consisted of a chicken coop, which Keith took care of, not trusting Lance with the eggs. Which was fair. A barn with a horse, and 3 cows. Lance had learned that the cows would be bred ever so often and Keith would sell the baby cow to another local farm and that was one way he made a lot of money quickly. The cows needed to have a calf in order to produce more milk. There was a lot of things Lance didn’t know and when Keith told him he was happy to listen and learn. The barn also had around 2 dozen trees and Lance had learned that the most of Keith’s money came from that, but they didn’t really start producing fruit until around mid-summer. The vegetable garden Keith had was a lot smaller, but Keith really did have a green thumb and really his small vegetable garden was enough to fill up his whole table and then some at the farmers market. Lance was already dreading the next farmers market, but he knew he would be doing most of the lifting, and there would be at least 2 times more crates. He didn’t mind though he had to admit he got paid decently well for what he was doing and Keith didn’t even take any of his pay away for living expenses, which Lance had tried to convince him to do.

Lance fed the cows and eventually moved his way to Red. Lance often found that he would talk to Red whenever he fed the horse. It was easy to talk to the horse, just like it was easy to talk to the dogs as well. Lance would sometimes have full conversations with the animals. He usually kept his voice down, in hopes that Keith wouldn’t find out about his weird habit but today Keith had walked in right in the middle of the one-way conversation.

“Y’know Red, I think Keith will love the beach, he’s not the best swimmer. But I can fix that.” Lance stroked Red’s soft nose fuzz as he spoke, not even realizing he had a guest listening in. “Also I get to see Keith in a bathing suit, and that will be pretty great if you know what I mean.” Lance chuckled a bit. He knew it was weird to talk about this stuff to a horse, but he couldn’t exactly call Pidge and Hunk. They were still in Hawaii, and their service was probably about as good as Lance’s was.

“Wow, who knew Lance Mcclain was the kinda guy to objectify. I am more than my body.” Keith’s playful tone made Lance jump and he nearly dropped the bucket of food he was holding for Red. His face had instantly turned red and he could feel his heart beating. Not only had Keith sneaking up on him been a little bit of a scare, but Keith had probably heard his whole one sided conversation with Red. He didn’t know what was more embarrassing being caught talking to a horse or being caught talking about your crush looking good in a swimsuit. Lance had decided it was both, considering what he was doing just then was a combination of the two.

“I… I uh.. I… um,” Lance was sputtering and after a few seconds, he just snapped his mouth shut and avoided all eye contact. He decided that the last thing he wanted to do was speak and have his voice crack or something. He didn't want to make the embarrassment more intense.

“I’m just teasing, I think the weirdest thing about this whole thing is that you are talking to a horse.” Lance kept his gaze away, but he could feel a smile coming onto his face. He was relieved. He knew Keith liked him, he had gotten verbal and physical proof. But a part of him still believed it would be so easy to make him uninterested. It would be so easy for Lance to do something wrong and make Keith lose all interest. He would never admit it, but he really feared that one day Keith would be pushed away by something obnoxious or weird Lance did.

“The horse is a much better listener than you, so are you really that surprised.” Lance easily joked back and pushed back any doubts he had in his mind and decided to just think about them at a later date, probably the next time he was alone in bed. It was easier to deal with his own thoughts of doubts alone, and without any eyes on him. Particularly Keith’s eyes. A part of him knew that Keith was a good person and would always be there for him, but another part of him was scared. He was scared of rejection, scared of pushing Keith away. Lance had a lot of doubts and some of them had to do with Keith. He figured he would call his sister soon, or even try to get a hold of Hunk. They were always the ones that kinda made him less doubtful. He just wanted reassurance that things would be okay. He always felt a lot better when someone validated his thoughts and told him everything would be okay.

“Harsh, either way. I finished, so I guess we can go to the beach. Once you are done your lovely conversation with the horse, of course.” Lance groaned at the sarcasm in his voice and continued to feed Red, but when Keith had exited the barn he instantly had a smile on his face and felt excitement well up in him. He loved the beach so much, and Keith more. So he was excited to go to the beach with Keith, he hoped it would be fun for Keith. He wanted his first beach experience to be great so he was already planning out some things they could do. The beach he was going to take them too was long and it had a lot of things to do and see in the general area. So if they did happen to get tired of the beach there was a lot of other things they could do. There were a bunch of little restaurants and shops they could visit.

About an hour later the two boys were headed off. Lance was the one driving and as they drove Lance sang along to some of the songs on the radio. He turned them up and sang loudly with them, ignoring the groans from Keith. Each boy had a backpack filled with essentials for a beach trip. Keith’s bag was much less heavy than Lance’s because Lance had to shower after going swimming at the beach. The water would make his hair all stringy and he refused to let his hair get damaged, so he had brought his shower supplies as well as some face cream. He also didn’t want the water to dry out his skin. The trip to the beach was fun and when Lance finally pulled up he smiled when he saw Keith lean forward in the seat. He looked like he was in awe. Lance pulled his truck right onto the beach through the vehicle entrance and backed the pickup up so the tailgate was facing the water. Before they had left Lance had quickly power washed the back of Keith’s truck, and Keith had given him a weird look, but it would all make sense now.

Lance stepped out, and the first thing he did was breath in the view of the beach. It was gorgeous and the drive was worth it. He looked over to Keith who had a smile on his face, and Lance couldn’t help but match his expression of joy. Lance had packed a bag full of pillows and blankets and he proceeded to fill the bed of Keith’s truck with the blankets and pillows. By the time he was done the trunk looked comfy and he was proud of himself. He looked around at the beach and could see people having fun across the whole beach and he was quick to remove his shirt. He hadn’t packed his swimsuit with him when he had gone to live with Keith, but he had shorts that could double as a swimsuit due to the material. Keith was also able to find something like that for him to wear and Lance was happy, he didn’t want to swim alone. His goal today was to get Keith okay with the water.

“C’mon the water is probably beautiful.” Lance beamed as he started to walk backwards towards the water that was slowly rolling up on the beach. It wasn’t too windy so the water was calm and it was easy to see through the water and look at the sand that was underneath. He waited for Keith to catch up, but he still had his shirt on and Lance could tell he was stalling. “You know, I know the water is scary. But I promise your feet will be touching the bottom the whole time, and I’ll be right there. The last time we were in water I had you, and that wouldn’t change this time.” Lance was dead serious with his tone, and when he finally saw Keith lighten up and take off his shirt he couldn’t help but smile. Lance had urged Keith to call his brother before they left to make sure he would be fine to swim with his stitches, and luckily Keith was all good to go. The wound was almost healed so he could safely get his arm wet and not worry much about infection as long as he cleaned it up at the end of the night.

“I never really understood what was so great about the beach,” Keith admitted as he stood beside Lance looking at the water. Lance eyed him and a small smile reached his face. “But I think I’m starting to get it now, you have shown me so much amazing things in the span of a month and a half. Things I haven’t experienced. It’s really nice to finally get to do these things. Especially with you.”

Lance eyed Keith and let his eyes wander down to the boy's lips, but before he could get any idea’s he looked away back to the water. But after a split second, he was being picked up and hoisted over a shoulder. Lance yelped, but after a few seconds realised it was Keith he looked down and was instantly hit with the sight of Keith’s butt and his entire face lit up. He could see Keith enter the water and started to lightly hit his back.

“You know the beach is really fun, Lance,” Keith spoke with a devilish grin in tone. “I can get payback on you for pulling me into the water at the pier.”

“Come on buddy, pal,” Lance whined. “We had a bonding moment didn’t we, at the pier?” Lance spoke, wiggling a bit. He couldn’t believe just how strong Keith was. He was lifting him like it was nothing.

“Sorry you know, I can’t really hear you over the sound of this water. It’s just too loud.” Lance groaned and tried to wiggle some more and finally he was able to break free. He fell into the water, but he was able to pull Keith down with him and as he and Keith emerged Keith was out of breath but he was laughing harder than Lance had ever seen. Lance felt his chest tightened and decided the best thing to do was splash Keith. The splash stopped Keith’s laughing and suddenly he was in war mode. Keith spent back splashes instantly and Lance had to turn his back away to avoid the assault of water. Both boys were laughing and when the splashing stopped he turned around only to be tackled by Keith. The boys were sent underwater and when they finally resurfaced Lance was trying to catch his breath, while Keith was laughing all over again. He was happy to see Keith having fun, even if it was at his own expense.

“Your laugh is cute,” Lance spoke, covering his mouth the minute he spoke. Not intending to say it out loud. “I.. I mean.”

“You think so?” Keith asked a smile on his face still. “I was told when I was younger that it was kinda annoying.”

“I love it.” Lance smiled, avoiding eye contact. “You’re always brooding so it’s a nice change,” Lance smirked, watching as Keith’s smile fell into annoyance. Lance got more water to the face but he couldn’t help but laugh.

“I like you better when you shut up.” Keith joked. “It’s a nice change from your loud, annoying self.”

“Yeah yeah, whatever Mullet.” Lance chimed standing up, a devious smile on his lips. He reached down and pulled Keith up now lifting him over his shoulder and throwing him into the water. The two boys splashed around in the water for hours and when the sun had finally started to go down they finally were back at the truck. Lance had told Keith to pack warm clothes for the night time because being by the water at night would make it much colder so they were both sitting in the back of Keith’s truck on the blankets watching the water. It was such a nice view and Lance was at peace. The sky was a dull pink and the water was slowly rolling into the beach, and Lance could feel any worries exit him. He had such a fun day with Keith and even though his skin was all pruney now it was well worth it.

“You know, I had a lot of fun today. I am so used to going to the beach with Pidge and Hunk, or my siblings. This was a nice change.” Lance admitted. “I’m glad I could bring you to the beach for the first time, I can’t believe you’ve never been.”

“Well, my parents were always busy, and we had to help with the farm. I am happy I got to come with you though. Another bonding moment for the books.” Keith joked, nudging Lance a bit.

Lance smirked and laid back in the trunk and watched the sky for a while until the sky was dark. The lights from the shops just behind the beach were now lighting up the beach and Lance decided that he was hungry so he sat up and started to put his shoes on.

“Get up Mullet, let’s go get some food I’m starved. My treat.” Keith groaned for a moment but soon he was up and getting his shoes on. They walked up to the little street with the shops and Lance could see Keith was excited. He couldn’t lie he was too. The little street was booming with people and it was always so beautiful to look at. The theme of the small shopping and eating area was nautical so everything had a pastel look to it and had some sort of sea vibe. It was cute, and Lance loved it, he would never get tired o.f coming to the beach. Being with Keith just made the whole thing so much better.

Lance looked around and eventually was drawn to a small restaurant that looked like a tiny diner. The name of Sea Cavern and Lance was quick to drag Keith along into it. They stepped in and instantly the vibe was warm and inviting but Lance was instantly met with a familiar face he really didn’t want to see. He drew himself closer to Keith as the woman walked over, her blonde pigtails swaying as she walked.

“Hi Lance.” She chimed, getting uncomfortably close to him. “It’s been a while, you know I really haven’t seen you around anymore? I had asked your siblings when I see them around town and all they do is ignore me. They are all so mean.”

“You know, maybe it’s because I’d rather not have you know where I am.” Lance spoke, his face and tone growing darker. “It’s none of your business anyways. Now if you’ll…” Suddenly Lance was cut off by the woman, Nyma, moving over to face Keith.

“And who is this?” She asked, now unamused. “You know I knew you were feminine but I didn’t think you were actually a fag.” Lance gritted his teeth, and instantly wanted to leave. He had heard enough and didn’t know if he could hold his tongue any longer. He didn’t really wanna start a scene while people were trying to enjoy their dinners, but he also didn’t want to just take the nasty slurs she was putting out. “I can’t believe you seriously got someone this cute, I would say good job. But really I don’t think it will last long.”

Lance could feel his face heating up more, and he wanted to yell at her. To get in her face and scream at her, for what she had done to him in the past and what she was doing now. He hated her with his whole being and if he could never see her again he would be grateful. He felt his fists clench and he was sure that his knuckles were white, and just as he was about to retort back he felt a soft hand wrap around his own, and his eyes darted to Keith who looked different than Lance had ever seen him. He looked furious but also determined.

“Me and Lance are happy, so you can say whatever you want but I love him and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. You, on the other hand, are disposable, and your trash attitude is gonna keep you alone forever. So you can fuck off while me and my boyfriend enjoy our date. Elsewhere”

Lance was in shock. His eyes were wide and he wasn’t sure if he was crying but he felt like he might. Keith’s hand was still on his and soon they were walking out and as Keith walked down the road Lance slowly started to trail behind until he came to a stop. The were away from the crowds and Lance kept his face down, eyeing the hand that was in his. He felt his eyes well up and through instinct he brought his arm up to wipe away the liquid that was now running down his face.

“Thank you.” Was all Lance could say, and suddenly he felt two strong hands on his shoulders and he felt safer. Better. He wasn’t alone and he had Keith there to help him. He looked up and Keith had the same face as earlier, but it was also worried.

“You are perfect do you hear me?” Keith spoke, rubbing his hand a little bit up and down Lance’s arm as he spoke. “You are one of the nicest people I have ever met, you treat people with respect and even when things are hard you do them anyways. You are the kinda person who climbs onto a barn when it’s raining to patch a whole so that a horse stays dry. You are actually such a great person and I really don’t even feel like I deserve to call you my friend. You are always putting me first, and I cannot thank you enough for how much you have enriched my life in this last month and a half. I will not let some asshole make you believe you are less than perfect. Being bisexual is nothing to be ashamed of and she is just some close minded prick.” Lance looked a Keith and without a second thought he pulled the boy into a bone crushing hug. He sunk into the hug when Keith wrapped his arms around Lance’s neck. Lance had a death like grip on the back of Keith’s sweater and he was trembling a bit due to his cries. He felt Keith stroke his hair a bit and he was instantly more at peace. It took him a few minutes before he was finally able to subdue his soundless sobs. Lance stayed with his head in Keith’s neck for a few minutes before pulling away. He was sure that his face was red and puffy but Keith had a smile anyways and was looking at him like he was the most beautiful thing in the world regardless.

“Thank you so much.” Lance finally spoke, noticing the wet mark that was now on Keith’s shoulder. “I uh… She was my ex-girlfriend and we only dated for a few months but she was really manipulative. She would always tell me that if I didn’t take her somewhere she would just ask one of my friends. It was almost an everyday occurrence and because I thought she was the love of my life I went along with it. The last straw was when she locked me in a closet at a party as a joke. This is a little bit embarrassing but I’m claustrophobic. I got really nervous and as soon as I got out I was mad and she tried to play it down like it was nothing. I dumped her right then and there and the next day she was spreading rumours. I wished I would never see her again.”

“God you deserve so much better.” Keith sighed. He looked around and instantly saw something in the distance and started to pull Lance along. “Listen I know that this won’t change what she put you through or what just happened but I think ice cream might bring your mood up a bit. My treat.” Keith had a wide smile as he faced Lance in front of the doors and all Lance could do was nod. He was so in love with Keith. He knew in that moment that he would do nearly anything for him. They ordered their ice cream and as they made their way down the road Lance was feeling a lot better. He told Keith a little more about his life in high school and a lot of it was stories about Pidge and Hunk. He had to admit he had convinced them to do some pretty rebellious things.

“How did you sneak into a public pool after hours?” Keith asked, eating the last of his ice cream. “Aren’t there cameras?”

“Nope.” Lance beamed. “All we had to do was climb the fence, the area is so dead at night that the likelihood of getting caught is basically next to nothing.”

“Geez, I never did that kinda stuff in high school I just got into a bunch of fights,” Keith admitted rubbing the back of his neck. “A lot of people were really cruel when it came to me being adopted, it was rough. Even more so when my parents died. It was just easier to throw punches I guess, even though it really didn’t help me.”

“You came along way I gotta give you that.” Lance smiled, placing his free hand on his back and rubbing a little.

“I still have a bit of a temper but it’s more under control now I guess. I was fuming at that girl. I was really close to just yelling at her especially for the slur, but I just… I wanted to keep my cool it was a public place. So I decided a witty comment would be much better.” Keith laughed. “I wasn’t about to let her win, I needed her to believe we were the happiest couple to ever exist on this earth.”

“I gotta say, you did a good job.” Lance blushed when he truly thought back to what Keith had said. He had said he loved Lance and even called him his boyfriend. At the time Lance hadn’t really had the time or energy to think about it but now he was blushing and his stomach was churning.

“You think so? Hm you know maybe in my next life I’ll be an actor or some sort of voice actor.” Keith laughed. “I’ve always been in love with zombie television shows and I think I have a good balance of emo and badass to be a good lead in a show like that.”

“I wouldn’t give up the farmer gig, Keith.” Lance laughed, nudging Keith’s side with his own. Before they had even realized it they were back at the beach and staring at the stars again. Some of the stores were closed now and the stars were much more noticeable due to the lack of lights. They were sitting in the bed of Keith’s truck and Lance was almost asleep when he heard a gasp.

“No… no.. no no no.” Lance was sitting up in an instant due to the desperation in Keith’s voice and he was ready to attack if needed but when he finally got a good look at Keith he was simply sitting next to him. But his hand was wrapped tightly around his wrist. He was looking around frantically and he looked like he was gonna cry.

“Hey, hey calm down a little.” Lance spoke, stopping Keith from his frantic searching. “What happened?”

“My bracelet. My mother's bracelet.” Keith was crying now, and Lance’s heart shattered. “Oh my god it’s probably in the ocean now, I must have forgotten to take it off. Oh my god... I’m such a fucking idiot. I lost the one thing my mom had given me.” Lance watched with wide eyes and looked out onto the beach. Within a few moments he was removing his shoes and stepping onto the sand.

“Listen, don’t panic yet. We will look, okay? I know this is stressful and scary but we can find it I promise you.” Lance knew it was bad to promise something like that but he was determined now to find this bracelet. He started to search the shore and after a few minutes he rolled up his sweatpants and started to scan the water. He used his phone flashlight to see in the dark and after a while he was about to give up hope. But then he saw something being washed in and instantly ran to it. Lance was in utter shock when he saw Keith’s bracelet on the shore. The band was ripped and there were some beads missing but overall it was nothing Lance couldn’t fix. He picked up the pieces and quickly made his way over to Keith, who looked like he was about to break down at any moment. He had even resorted to digging in the sand.

“Hey, Mullet. I have something that you might be happy to see.” Lance smiled when Keith’s head shot up. His face was wet from tears, but when he saw Lance walking over he jolted up and ran over. Lance was met with a hug that almost took him down. He held tightly onto the string and beads to not drop them and put his arms around Keith. “It’s a little broken, but I can fix it. When you grow up with younger siblings these kinda things are like a second nature.”

“Thank you… thank you.” Keith was saying it like a mantra and eventually, Lance pulled back and handed the pieces to Keith. He looked down at the broken bracelet and closed his fist around the pieces before bringing it to this mouth. Lance simply smiled and looked down at Keith who was drenched from his waist down. While Lance had rolled up his sleeves and pants Keith was frantic and just went through the low waters on his hands and knees.

Lance and Keith both made it back to the truck and after packing everything away they finally made their way home. The stars were bright and Lance hummed along to the music. The ride was peaceful, and as they got out of the city and into the more rural areas things had gotten quiet. Lance drove and every few minutes he would look over and see Keith drifting off. After a while, they had finally reached the long stretch of road that Keith lived on and Lance could see headlights in the distance. He thought nothing of it and kept going, but as they got closer Lance started to grow uneasy the car was going much faster than the speed limit and Lance decided that he would move over a bit away from the center, but then suddenly the car swerved into their Lane, and before he could move any further or into the ditch there was a yell and a loud crash.

Everything went black.

Chapter Text

When Keith opened his eyes the first thing he felt was a pain in his head. He didn’t know exactly what happened but he was driving with Lance, and then suddenly there was a bright light.

And then darkness.

Keith groaned a bit as he tried to shift in his seat. The airbag had gone off and it was all starting to piece together. A car crash. Keith felt like he was going to puke, so he did. He leant forward in his seat and heaved a bit, feeling so many emotions rush through him. He was scared to look beside him. He was afraid of what he might see, but he took the chance and turned his head. His breath hitched at the person beside him leaning against the steering wheel. Keith’s blood ran cold and he leant forward again to release anything he still had in his stomach. After about a minute he had finally stopped throwing up and looked back to Lance. It was dark but Keith could see the small line of blood coming from his head. There was also some blood on the side of his mouth but Keith prayed that it was his gums bleeding or a missing tooth. His face was bruised and when he looked down he gave a sigh of relief, there were no other major injuries, that he could visibly see anyways. Keith finally realized he needed to contact someone, an ambulance. Anything.

Keith looked around and when he did his neck ached, but he pushed on and when he spotted Lance’s bag that was now on the floor underneath the steering wheel he groaned. Of course it had to be that far. The seat beside him was covered in shattered glass so he gently pushed it off to make a safe spot for him to support himself. He moved to get this seat belt off and luckily it wasn’t jammed. When the seatbelt was finally off he gave a sigh of relief. He was shaking, but the adrenaline of the moment was keeping him from just breaking down. Keith needed to call help, that’s all that mattered right now. He wasn’t about to lose someone else close to him.

He couldn’t.

After some time, and some pain in his ribs Keith was finally able to get the bag. He set it beside himself and searching through it for Lance’s phone and prayed that it would have some sort of service. They were far out, but all he needed was one bar. When he found the phone he switched it on and cursed when he read the battery.

4%.

Keith almost threw the phone right there, but all he had to do was call and tell them where they were, that all. He went to the emergency number screen and promptly entered the number and when the lady on the other end answered he was quick to get to the point. He was shaking more now, and when she had asked him to check Lance’s pulse he froze. He didn’t even know if Lance was still alive.

“Sir. are you there?” Keith instantly snapped out of it and reached over to Lance, playing his two fingers on the boys neck. He didn’t feel anything for a moment and he felt his blood running cold again but soon he felt a soft bump on his fingers and sighed. He asked what he should do and woman on the other end told him to stay put. There was no way to tell if either of them had internal bleeding so it would be best to just stay put. The lady told Keith she had dispatched paramedics and Keith instantly felt better, but he still felt like he was going to get sick again. There was a lot of blood everywhere, and he was brought back the day his parents died and simply shut his eyes tightly. Now was not the time. He had to make sure Lance’s heart was still beating.

The woman stayed on the phone with Keith and he asked her a few questions about Lance, specifically about the blood on his mouth and she tried to reassure him, but he was still worried. His shaking had gotten much worse, and eventually he had to take a few moments to look away from Lance. He couldn’t stand to see him like this, it hurt so much. Suddenly Keith heard the ambulance sirens and without a second thought he was out of the truck and making his way to the middle of the road to flag them down. His ribs hurt and his head was pounding, but when the paramedics rushed to him he was quick to lead them to Lance. He was the one that was still unconscious.

“Keith!!” Keith turned to a familiar voice, and he was met with Shiro, practically running to him, as the men tried to get Lance out of the vehicle and onto a gurney. Keith was about to speak but Shiro was already wrapping his arms around Keith and Keith simply melted into the hug, but it only lasted a few seconds before Shiro was being called over. Keith stayed close behind them all as they inspected him and when they got him into the ambulance he made it very clear he was going. Eventually Shiro intervened.

“I would like to check on Keith when we get to the hospital as well, so unless there is another ambulance coming he is going with us.” Shiro’s stern voice shut all of the other paramedics up and they simply went back to checking on Lance’s vitals. Keith could see Shiro eyeing him every now and again and he knew why. Shiro knew Keith was simply staying strong in the moment, and the second he was alone he would break down. Keith knew that Shiro saw that. It was easy to tell, really. Keith had never gotten over the death of his parents, and now that someone else he cared about could potentially meet the same fate as them? Keith wouldn’t be able to handle it. He could barely handle the thought of it.

As they entered the hospital Lance was wheeled into an intensive care unit and Keith was sent off with another doctor who was female and had silky grey hair pulled into a bun. She was very gentle while she examined him and as she wrote down her notes and finished off she sat down in one of the chairs in the room.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but you are Dr. Takashi’s brother. Correct?” She asked, staying professional even with the personal question.

“Well…” Keith wondered if he should say adoptive, but he knew that didn’t matter. Shiro was his brother. Blood or not. “Yes, he is my brother, why?”

“I just… I’m glad you are okay, for your sake… and his.” Suddenly the woman, Allura, according to her name tag was looking a bit worried, and sad almost. “I know what had happened to your parents, and I’m just glad you are okay. I know you don’t know me, but I am close with Shiro, and I think you should talk to him. You both seem extremely shaken up. For good reason.”

Keith simply nodded as the woman left the room. She gave him a small smile as she exited and he had to admit it did help. It was the kinda smile that made people feel better, even when things were going bad. He wondered what her relation to Shiro was, and for a few minutes it was a nice distraction but when Shiro came into his room he shot up, and groaned when he head started to spin.

“Woah there buddy.” Shiro spoke, putting a hand on Keith’s shoulder and pushing him lightly back down to a sitting position. “I need you to listen to me, because I know you. If I don’t tell you to be quiet I won’t get a word in edgewise and you will start to overthink and panic. Lance is going to be fine, he has very minimal internal bleeding, and the doctors are already working on patching it up. He will be in the hospital for a few days so he can fully recover. He is fine, nothing life threatening.”

“Shiro… I didn’t know what I was gonna do if I lost him.” Keith spoke, his voice shaking. “He’s such a positive in my life and I just… I just… I need him, a lot more than he needs me. I need him so much and when I woke up I thought he was dead. For a second I thought my whole world had died beside me.” Keith could feel his face growing wet from tears and he desperately tried to wipe them away, but they just kept coming. “I thought back to that day where Mom and Dad died, and you almost died, and I couldn’t go through that again. I can’t lose anyone else. I can’t lose any more people I love.”

“I know Keith.” Shiro spoke, sitting down beside Keith and wrapping an arm around his shoulder. He stayed silent as Keith cried and eventually Keith was in his brother’s side shaking, and gripping his shirt. Keith felt good to cry like this, to cry in his brother's shoulder. It was something he hadn't done in years and it was comforting. He cried for so long, and when he finally stopped he felt like a weight was lifted. “I know I wasn’t the best broth…”

“No, you were and still are the best brother Shiro.” Keith spoke his tone absolutely serious. “You raised me, you took care of me for years when you were still young and I have to thank you for that. You could have sent me away, like everyone else but you didn’t. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for you and your parents. You guys saved me, and I really can’t repay you.”

“They were your parents just as much as they were mine, and they loved you. I love you. You are my brother and I would never leave you behind no matter how tough it gets.” Keith was in his brother’s arm in a second. He felt his brother complete the hug and it felt like he was hugging a big protective teddy bear. Keith for so long had thought he was seen as a burden by Shiro but this had changed all that, something had shifted. Keith could actually start to work forward in forgiving himself and work forward to get rid of his guilt, and he had Shiro there to help him do it.

“Anyways Lance is going to be out for the whole night, so I want you to go home and sleep. I know you wanna stay, but you need to properly rest and you have the dogs to take care of. I already called Lance’s family so they are going to be here soon. I will call you tomorrow morning and let you know what’s going on, but I need you to be rested, and I need you to still take care of yourself. You were lucky to escape this with no serious injuries.” Keith sighed, and was ready to get up when he realised two problems.

“Uh, I don’t have a vehicle anymore… and what will Lance’s family think if they show up and I’m not here?” Keith asked, feeling like it would be wrong to leave. “They might think I don’t care, I should just stay.”

“Keith, you can take my car. I will be here all night anyways monitoring Lance, and keeping his family updated I will tell them you left because I made you leave. I’m sure you will be here before I call you anyways.” Keith finally gave in and exited the door, as he walked down the halls they passed the ICU and Keith could help but look through the windows. Most of the little rooms were closed off so that people couldn’t see inside but as he passed he saw a few people standing outside of one of the small rooms. They were lance’s family, there was no mistaking it, they looked worried, and the smallest of the group a little girl was crying. Keith’s heart clenched, he didn’t want to leave but Shiro was right, he had to rest and besides the hospital only allowed family visitors for the first 24 hours of being in the ICU.

After signing out of the hospital Keith slowly walked through the parking lot and when he got to Shiro’s car he looked at the keys as he got in and sat there for a long time. He was still having a hard time wrapping his mind around this. Lance could have died. He didn’t even want to think about it but how could he stop. When he had told Shiro that Lance was his whole world he wasn’t lying. It hurt to much so even think about this kinda thing happening to someone like Lance, and having it actually happen is another thing. Seeing Lance’s family was worse. They were sad and worried, and Keith hated it. Hated that his family had to go through this, he wished it was him that was in that room. He wished it had been him driving, just so Lance wouldn’t be in the ICU with his family huddled around worried and crying.

Finally Keith found the courage to drive home, and when he did he drove alot slower than normal. He drove in silence and thought for most of the way home. He knew he wouldn’t get much sleep tonight, but he hoped that the dogs would help ease his mind. But then he remembered Lance wouldn’t be there. He hadn’t slept alone in his house for a whole month and a half and he knew it would feel weird. What would happen when Lance had to leave. What would happen at the end of the summer. Lance would leave, and he knew they would drift apart. It made him sad, because he loved having Lance around. He loved Lance.

Keith loved Lance. It was that simple.

Yet he still tried to push it down.

Keith knew Lance’s feelings towards him, but the risk of things not working scared him more than anything. He wasn’t ready to let someone in. Wasn’t ready to love someone so openly and fully. He was afraid it wouldn’t work. He was afraid he would lose Lance. The risk for him wasn’t worth it. Lance would be gone by the end of the summer and he would be working elsewhere, or he would be painting to go to school somewhere amazing and far away. Lance had so much he could do with his life, and Keith didn’t want to hold him back. So he would be with Lance for the summer as friends, and let him leave. That would be that.

A small part of him wondered if Lance would stay, but he always pushed it down. Lance wouldn’t want to stay, when he could do so much more.

After a while of driving Keith found himself on the same stretch of road that the crash had happened on and when he passed the crash sight he went slow to take in the sight. There were people still cleaning up the mess and he could feel his knuckles tightening around the wheel. He noticed a large pickup truck in the ditch that belonged to the other driver and snarled. They had run before the ambulance had come and Keith was furious. The person who had almost killed Lance was still out there.

Keith was about to drive past but soon he pulled over and the guys who were cleaning seemed to know who he was because they stopped and let him look around a little. He could see some of the bags in the car and reached in to grab them. He froze at the sight of the blood, but he quickly turned away and thanked the men for letting him get his things.

Keith got back into the car and when he did he looked down into one of the bags and saw the broken bracelet. He smiled a bit when he thought about Lance finding it for him. Lance was always doing stuff like that for people, he thought back to the time Lance almost fell off the roof of the barn and cringed. He just had it in his nature, and Keith loved that about him. Keith finally made his way home and when he got onto the property and into the house there was an immediate difference. The dogs had all come to him but even they were a bit off put by Lance being nowhere to be seen. He threw the bags he had onto the couch and sat down. His house was dark and uninviting and he hated it already. He wanted Lance here with him, joking with him, talking with him. He just couldn’t wait for Lance to be back.

When Keith had finally walked upstairs to try and sleep he already knew it was pointless. He was worried. Shiro had told him everything was fine, but things happened sometimes. There were always complications. He looked at the clock and sighed when it read 3am. In the span of 4 hours everything had gone downhill, but at this point Keith didn’t know what he was expecting. His life had been unlucky from the start. Unlucky from the moment his birth parents dropped him off at the foster care agency. A small part of him wondered if his own bad luck was just rubbing off on Lance. He let that thought disappear as quick as it came before opening his room door, but as he did he stopped and looked over to Lance’s door. He had an idea, and part of him felt weird. Going into Lance’s room without permission. But Keith had no ill intent, he just… wanted one of Lance’s sweaters to sleep with. He had found that Lance’s sweaters were ideal to sleep in. They were warm and fuzzy and large, and they smelled like apple cinnamon. Keith had gotten away with not giving Lance back his pick sweater that he had worn to the pier, so he usually slept with that. Promptly taking it off before going downstairs so that Lance would never notice.

Keith slowly opened the door and when he did he felt a little odd. He knew it was his home, but Lance’s belongs were all over the place and it still felt like an invasion of privacy, but he was determined to get another sweater. He could feel bad later, but right now he was mainly seeking the comfort. It was like having Lance with him, but in the form of a sweater. Keith remembered how just the morning before they had woken up in bed together and he felt a heavy blush set across his face. He could still remember how his heart was racing when he woke up and saw Lance peacefully sleeping beside him. He wished he could see that for the rest of his life.

Keith slowly made his way to the dresser and when he opened it he was met with numerous sweaters of all colours and styles and some of them he had never even seen Lance wear. He smiled at how adorable some of them were and eventually came to a sweater that was bigger than the rest, but a lot less fancy. It was large and had the word “altean” on it and Keith wondered what that meant for a moment but decided it didn’t matter because this was the perfect sweater. He pulled it up to his chest and gave it a little squeeze, and was about to leave when he saw a book underneath the clothes. It was a picture book, and Keith instantly knew he was treading in dangerous territory but his curiosity got the best of him.

Keith carefully removed the book and moved himself to sit on the bed. He pulled on Lance’s sweater and instantly felt a little bit better, it was far too big for him and the warmth is gave was immense. He finally picked the picture book up and started to scroll through it. There were images of Lance’s siblings and his family and just a lot of people he had never met but assumed were related to him in some way. And eventually the pictures moved out of family to friends and underneath some of the photos there were captions.

“Camping, 2015”
“Christmas 2016
“Summer Camp 2007”
“First day of Highschool”
“Last day of Highschool”

There were so many pictures in this book that signified good times in Lance’s life and it made Keith’s smile to his ears. He felt his face heat up but it was a happy kind of heat. His heart was beaming. He ran his thumb along some of the pictures and soon he saw a small wet drop on the page. The pictures were behind a plastic film so the wetness just rolled off, but Keith was quick to feel his cheek and wipe away the stray tears. He had wished Lance had showed this to him, because he was always so interested in Lance’s life, and his family. It was so nice to watch him talk about them, you could really tell he loved his family with all of his heart. Keith had wished him and his family had taken more photos, they were always working on the farm and pictures were only meant for special occasions. Things that you wanted to remember forever, but Keith wanted to remember everything he had ever done with his family forever. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every movie night they had. He wanted those times etched in his brain, they were some of the happiest memories of his life.

Eventually as Keith got farther into this book he started to see the pictures that were very random, but beautiful. There was a lot of pictures of plants and the ocean. He had a very large fascination with plants and Keith had to admit it was cute, this whole section of the photo album was just aesthetic picture, and they were all incredible. He kept going and eventually he turned a page and was met with something that blew him away. It was a pencil sketch, of himself. Lance had drawn Keith and put it in his book. Keith looked at it for so long, he just stared until another sketch caught his eye. These were all so incredible. Lance was talented, and Keith was blown away. He had never seen any of Lance’s art till now and he was certain Lance would go places. He had a stylized art style that was semi realistic but it was fun, and it was really reminiscent of Lance. He went through the pages and most of the sketches were of the animals on the farm, and plants but every few pages he would stumble upon another portrait of himself. It was endearing, and he felt his heart race every time he saw them. Lance made him look so soft, and happy. Was this how Lance really saw him?

Keith eventually got to the last page and when he did he was met with a few pictures. Of himself. But they were photographs. Keith instantly recognized the scenery in these pictures. It was from when they had gone to the pier. Keith remembered it like it was yesterday, he had been so nervous, but Lance made it so much better. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had had that much fun. The pictures were all of him in the small wooded part in the middle of the festival, the lighting was light pink and Keith was looking up at the fountain and trees and Lance had made him look so, well, good. It was crazy to see himself in pictures like this. Keith had wondered how Lance had gotten these printed, but then he remembered that Lance had probably done it in secret while they were out doing errands one day. Keith wondered why Lance would keep this from him, he wondered if Lance was embarrassed. His talent was amazing, and Keith had to admit it made his heart flutter that Lance had taken these photos of him, they were so soft, and just the opposite of how Keith normally was.

Keith found himself going through the book several times, and when he was finally done he looked at the clock and realized it was 4am. He figured he needed to at least get some sleep before he drove all the way back to the city, but a part of him couldn’t sleep. He was more calm now, and had much more of a level head but he was still worried. Lance was still in the hospital. Keith knew that the only way he would be able to sleep is if he called Shiro, luckily Lance had a landline phone on his bedside table so he stayed put and snuggled up in Lance’s bed as he typed in the number and waited for his brother to respond.

“Keith, why are you not asleep yet?” Shiro asked, already bringing out his big brother side. “Is everything okay?” Keith looked down at the book and stroked his thumb along some of the pictures, letting a smile fall onto his face.

“Yeah, I’m fine I just… I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I called. How is he?” Keith asked, trying to calm himself down with the photobook in front of him.

“He’s still asleep, and the internal bleeding has been taken care of. But they found some cracked ribs so he will be out of commission for a while.” Keith hummed his response and let his head fall onto Lance’s pillow. “Visiting hours start at 10am, but if you want to come earlier I can probably get you into see his family. They had asked me numerous times how you were doing as well, and Lance’s mother even got mad at me for sending you home.” Keith laughed at that and sighed. He thanked Shiro and when he hung up he felt his heart drop. Lance would go home, he knew he would. Lance’s family would want him with them after this. Keith would be alone once again, and a few nights would be hard enough.

Keith sighed, and looked around the room. He was too tired to go back to his own room, so he stayed in Lance’s bed and put himself under the covers. He might not have been as banged up as Lance but he was still in a car accident. He had a decent amount of pain still lingering in his head and just everywhere. He was achy, and he figured most of the reason was due to stress. He drifted off soon afterwards, but it didn’t last very long.

Keith woke up gasping and out of breath, trying to regain some air in his lungs. He of course had a nightmare. He should have expected this. He could feel his face growing wet and he simple let himself go limp in the bed. He didn’t have the strength to hold himself up, so he just stayed there. In his dream Lance had died, and he couldn’t do anything about it. He felt sick to his stomach, but he had no more food in his system to expel so he just stayed in the bed, letting his tears fall. He didn’t make my noise or sobs he just layed there. It was times like this where he wished Lance was around. Keith had remembered the night prior and how Lance was so quick to calm him down. He just wanted Lance with him, he wanted the boys arms around him more than anything. It was safe.

Keith got himself up and didn’t bother changing. He knew he wouldn’t get any sleep but at least he tried. He put away Lance’s book and tried to remove all traces of his stay, he didn’t think he could handle the embarrassment if Lance had know he was sorta snooping. He finally made his way downstairs and made himself a cup of coffee before going out and feeding the animals. He did it very quickly and didn’t bother to clean the pens. He could do that when he was certain Lance was fine, right now he just wanted to get to the hospital. It was only 5am, but he knew Lance’s family would probably let him in with them. The problem was Keith didn’t know if he was prepared to see him hooked up to machines.

Keith finally got himself somewhat mentally prepared and made his way to the hospital. He wanted to be there even if what he saw would hurt him. He wanted to be there for Lance for when he woke up, if he hadn’t already.

********

“Keith!!”

Keith was instantly greeted by Lance’s family when he entered the hospital, as if they were expecting him. Lance’s mother had already run over and was fluttering around him making sure he was okay, and inspecting him. It made him flinch a bit, but soon he was relaxed with the situation.

“How are you feeling? I hope you at least got a few hours sleep last night?” Lance’s mother pried, crossing her arms. Keith laughed a bit and lied, saying he had gotten a few hours. He hoped that Lance’s perspective mother wouldn’t notice the bags under his eyes or the amount of times he had been yawning since he had entered the hospital. He watched as she gave him a questioning look, but soon they were on the move through the hospital. Lance’s family had informed him that he was still asleep and on meds since they had gone in to patch the internal bleeding, but he was stable and he would be awake within the span of the day. Keith immediately felt better, all he had to do now was wait. He just wanted to see Lance awake again, and wanted to see his blue eyes shine like they always did.

When they got to the intensive care unit Shiro was there to greet them, and the second he saw Keith he chuckled a little. Shiro knew Keith would be there bright and early, there was no way he would have waited until 10 am for the official visiting hours. They all walked into the ICU and Keith remembered this place all too well, his blood ran cold almost just by the memories he had with this building. He could feel Shiro’s hand rest on his shoulder as they stood in front of the curtain to Lance’s room. Keith was scared, and his brother had probably seen him shaking a bit.

“He is okay, there is nothing to be worried about. Okay?” Shiro spoke, trying to ease his mind. He looked around to Lance’s family who were smiling at him. They were such supportive people, and they barely knew him but they were still offering him a smile to ease his mind.

“My son is one tough kid. He can handle anything, so try not to worry so much.” Lance’s mother spoke. “From what I’ve heard Lance cared about you quite a bit, and that being said I can tell you care about him as well. You should be there for him, I’m sure he will be frantically asking for you when he wakes up anyways.”

Keith had never thought of that. Lance had simply gotten knocked out when the car had crashed, when he would wake up he would probably be wondering about how he was. Keith knew the minute the woke up from his daze the only thing that mattered to him in that moment was Lance’s safely, and now that he thought about it not being by Lance’s side to show he was alright and okay would be pretty cruel.

Keith finally after some internal debating pushed the curtain open and when he did no one followed him. He slipped in and when he saw Lance he felt his heart stop in his chest. He was hooked up to a few machines that were recording data, and he had numerous tubes going into his arm. It was hard to look at. It was hard to see Lance hooked up to this machinery, all he could do was keep telling himself that this machinery was necessary.

He slowly walked over to the side of the bed that had a chair, and when he sat down he was afraid to touch Lance so he just watched him. He could see the boy's chest rising and falling and it was calming him down, along with the steady heart monitor. He finally let on of his hands rest on Lance’s hand, it was deadly cold, but he kept his hand there. Keith brought it up to his lips and held it there for a few moments before resting it back down on the bed. He hoped he would never see Lance like this again.

Soon Lance’s family slipped in and Keith didn’t even notice until Lance’s younger sister settled beside him. She placed a hand on Keith’s arm and he turned to see her smiling at him. It was comforting.

“My brother is really strong, he will be fine! The doctors did a good job at patching him up. He will be really excited to see you here too.” Keith let himself smile and turned back to Lance. He loved him so much. Part of him wondered if he could really go the whole summer without telling him. He had already kissed Lance, and told him he had feelings for him. He knew he would slip up again.

Keith sat with Lance for hours and during these hours he was with Lance’s family and Shiro dropped in every now and again to check on Lance. The nurses had been nice as well and all of it was just really comforting. Keith was about to fall asleep in the chair he had been sitting in. Lance’s little sister in his lap nearly asleep as well and in the little time they had both kinda gotten along. Lance’s youngest sister was attached to him and every time he had to leave for some reason or another she would follow him, until Lance’s mother would pick her up and keep her in the room. Keith didn’t mind, she was adorable and she reminded him a smaller Lance. She was loud, and laughed a lot. At some point she was getting restless so Keith offered to take the 4 year old for a walk. She gripped his hand as they walked and they talked just about random things. Keith wanted to distract the little girl as much as possible. Keith had remembered being young and dealing with his parents death. Shiro was in the hospital for weeks. Keith had basically lived at the hospital and it was hard. He had no one. He was gonna do whatever he could to distract this little girl.

When Keith woke up he still had Lance’s sister on his lap. She was nestled into his chest fast asleep so he tried really hard not to move. Lance’s mother chuckled a bit as she walked over and lifted the little girl off of his chest.

“She has really taken a liking to you, huh?” Lance’s mother had asked. “Thank you for keeping her occupied, she doesn’t know much about what’s happening other than that her brother is hurting, so I’m glad she has been talking to you.”

“I don’t mind. When I was younger I had some issues with my family and it was hard for me. I guess I just wanted to make sure she is still able to be a kid even while she’s at the hospital.” Keith admitted. “She talks a lot about Lance. I bet she misses him.”

“All she does is ask when he’s coming back.” Lance’s mother had laughed. Keith hadn’t noticed until now but the room was a lot emptier than before. Lance’s older siblings had left and his two younger brothers were nowhere to be seen as well. He looked up at the clock and noticed it was around 1 pm. He had slept for a long time, which he was grateful for.

“Looks like he will be coming back sooner than later.” Keith finally spoke, trying to keep his voice even. “I know he would probably be better with you after this whole endeavor.”

“Well, it’s up to him what he decides. I know you wouldn’t overwork him. Besides just because he’s a little banged up doesn’t mean I want him in my hair.” Keith laughed at that. His parents had never really made jokes like that, so this was a nice change. Lance’s family was very playful.

“I’ll make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid if he does want to stay with me. To be honest I really enjoy having him with me.” Keith admitted.

“Is that so?” Lance’s mother asked, giving him an odd smile. Keith instantly felt like he needed to leave. His face heated up and he knew what she was getting at.

“I mean, yeah we are great friends!” Keith sputtered, trying to keep his tone even and not sound too loud. “He is a really great influence on me. I’ve done so many new things with him.”

“He’s always been like that. He’s always tried to get people out of their shells. In high school he was always tried to befriend people who were not the most popular. I’m so glad he befriended Hunk and Pidge. They are like my own kids. I’m not surprised Lance had tried to get you out more.” Lance’s mother smiled.

Keith smiled and looked back to Lance. His chest was still rising and falling and he found himself drawn to that. Like he needed to see it to be put at ease. Keith rested his head on the rail of the bed and had one of his arms crossed underneath his chin for a cushion. He brought his other arm up and absentmindedly started to brush away Lance’s hair. He was stopped when Lance’s mother cleared her throat. Keith looked back and as soon as she saw her face he pulled away and blushed.

“I guess I will leave you two alone, beside I think I should get her to eat something.” Keith watched as she exited the room and looked back to Lance. Within seconds his hand was back on Lance’s hair and when he felt dried blood he flinched a bit. There was no time for them to properly clean him up really after the accident. Keith wondered how he looked himself. He hadn’t looked in a mirror since the accident had happened, or he avoided it heavily. He was pretty sure he had a large scrape on his forehead, and a bruise over his eye and forehead from the airbag. Keith continued to stroke Lance’s hair, and after what felt like forever Lance had stirred. Keith froze, and watched as Lance slowly opened his eyes.

“Keith… mmm… what’s going on?”

Chapter Text

For a few moments Keith was frozen. He didn’t exactly know what to do. He knew he had to get a nurse, or at least say something but he was frozen. His heart was racing. Lance had finally woken up.

“Where am I?” Keith couldn’t help but laugh. He brought his face down to Lance’s hand in his and laughed. He could feel tears start to flow but he didn’t even bother to wipe them away he just kept laughing softly to himself. He was pretty sure he looked crazy. But he was just happy, overwhelmingly happy. Lance was awake, he remember who Keith was, and it seemed like he was going to be okay. Keith was overjoyed. It took him a few minutes to finally compose himself but when he did he felt better in a way. He felt calmer after letting some of his pent up emotions out, and when he finally made eye contact with Lance he could see the boy had a small smile on his face and Keith instantly felt even better. He didn’t think he could be any calmer than he was in that moment. Lance was awake and smiling, and that’s truly all he could have hoped for.

“You’re at the hospital. There was a crash. But we’re okay. God you’re okay.” Keith couldn’t help but smile and when he did Lance chuckled a bit.

“Y’know, Mullet, I didn’t think the happiest I would ever see you would be at the hospital.” Lance teased, bringing a hang up to wipe away the stray tears on Keith’s face. He instantly felt his face heat up and tried to push down the feeling he got in his stomach when Lance was near him. Keith after explaining what happened to them got himself up and alerted a nurse he was awake. The nurse came in and checked all of his vitals and as Shiro arrived Lance’s mother barrelled into the room, his little sister behind her. The were both grinning and the nurse had to practically jump out of the way when his little sister ran over to give him a hug. She jumped into the bed and Lance was quick to give a slight wince of pain, but it was gone in an instant. Keith looked to Shiro as the two had their hug and he smiled when he felt a strong familiar hand on his own shoulder. He looked beside him to see Shiro pulling him into his side and giving his hair a small ruffle. It was nice, it was something that they hadn’t done in a long time.

Keith sat in the room as Lance chatted with his mother and sister. Slowly as time went by his other family members has all arrived once again and Keith who had only had a small family had to admit it was hectic. Everyone was talking or laughing, but it was nice. They were all so good at making light of serious situations. Eventually the chatter died down when the nurse had come back in flipping through a clipboard. Everyone waited for her to speak, all eyes gravitating to the woman.

“His vitals are fine, and from what we can see he will make a full recovery. The tests showed that his internal bleeding has stopped altogether and all he has to do now is rest and take it easy for a few weeks. Some pain will be normal but if anything major happens you can always come back and we can take a look.” There was a collective sigh of relief when the nurse had left and then came the moment Keith had been dreading.

“Now, since you are okay to go home. You can either come back with us, or you can stay with Keith.” Lance’s mother spoke, her hand resting gently on his arm. Keith caught Lance’s eyes for a split second and looked away. He had a feeling he knew what Lance was going to say, and he wasn’t exactly ready for it. Of course, Lance would want to go home after this. His mother was much more capable of taking care of him, Keith couldn’t help but feel sad though. He would miss Lance.

“Well. Keith has been taking a good care of me this whole summer so far, so I think I’ll just stay there.” Lance finally spoke, causing Keith to whip his head up. He couldn’t deny that he was in shock. “Besides, I think he needs me to take care of him too. Did you know he had no idea how to cook anything until I got there?” Lance spoke, grinning when his mother whipped her head around and looked at Keith in shock. Keith felt his face heat up and sent a death glare to Lance but the boy simply smiled as his mother started to rant to Keith about his health and how it was proper to eat a healthy meal. Keith admitted he ate healthly. Sometimes.

“Well that settles it then, no one is going hungry on my watch so Lance better teach you everything he knows. You are both welcome to have dinner with us as well. I’m really glad you two have connected so well, Lance would have been so lost at home without Pidge and Hunk.” Lance mother smiled, causing Lance to groan. Soon some familiar faces came barging into the room. Lance’s older siblings has made a comeback and now that Keith was feeling a bit better he got a good look at them both. Lance’s older sister was extremely tall, probably taller than Lance and her features were very similar to Lance’s. It was almost hard to tell them apart, the only thing that really gave it away was her long hair that was pulled into a messy bun. The brother was around the same height as Lance, but he looked much older, a lot more mature. He had facial hair and strong features but he could still see the resemblance.

“God, mom called me and told me you were awake and I almost crashed my own car.” Lance’s sister laughed as she came over to envelope him into a hug. “You gave us a real scare there kiddo. I’m sorry we weren’t here when you woke up.” She spoke, guilt ridden in her voice.

“Hey, lives don’t stop because of injuries. I’m just glad you are both here now. Where are the other two brats?” Lance asked, looking around the room.

“Mason and Noah are just at a friends house, they were getting a bit restless so I thought it would be best.” Lance mother sighed. “Leah was pretty good, I think she and Keith are friends now. She was attached to him since he got here this morning.”

Keith felt at home with Lance’s family, everything was so carefree for them and it made it so easy for him to feel included. Even if he wasn’t really being talked to. It didn’t feel awkward or like they were pushing him out of their family circle.

“Say, you were in that crash too. Are you okay, you look pretty banged up too?” Lance’s sister asked, giving Keith a concerned look. He probably didn’t look too good. He knew he had bruises everywhere.,

“Yeah my brother is Dr. Shirogane. He made sure I was fine, I just got a bit banged up.” Keith knew that was an understatement. He knew he had a few large cuts on his face, and if he was wearing a short sleeved shirt he would be sporting a few good bruises. He was in pain, but he didn’t exactly have time to worry about it.

“Well, I’m glad. We were all worried about you too.” She admitted. “My mom was furious when your brother had sent you home. She threw a fit.”

“Yeah, I wanted to stay but I have dogs, and I think it was good for me to go home and rest.” Keith sighed, but part of him felt his heart swell. It was nice. He hadn’t had a mother figure in a long time, and Lance’s mother was almost filling a whole that had been empty in him for a long time.

After a few hours Lance was finally okay to be sent home. He was in a decent amount of pain, but the pain meds he was given were strong, and he would make a quick recovery. Lance family filed out one by one and Lance mother, and his youngest sister were left. They both gave him big hugs and as they left Lance mother placed a hand on Keith’s back and ran her hand up and down a few times giving him a soft and supportive smile. He wished them a safe trip home and sighed when he and Lance were left there alone.

“Man, when we get home you really gotta get some beauty rest.” Lance smiled, sitting up on the bed and waiting for Keith’s assistance. He had to be wheeled out and Keith was quick to make his way over and assist the boy in standing. He winced a little but he was back to normal when he was back into a sitting position. Keith knew Lance was gonna be out of commission for a long time. “Also, nice sweater.” Lance giggled, reaching one of his arms back and tugging at the sleeve. Keith was confused until it clicked with him that he was still in Lance’s sweater. The one he had put on the night before.

“Ah, I must have mistaken it for my own.” Keith tried to lie, feeling his face heat up. He didn’t even think to change before he came to the hospital.

“Relax, It’s a sweater I never wear anymore so if you like it that much you can keep it.” Lance laughed, making Keith feel a little bit more at ease.

“I just… it was hard at my house without you. I’m so used to you being there that this was the next best thing.” Keith finally sputtered out, turning his head away when Lance looked back in the chair.

“Well, I won’t be going anywhere for the next 6 weeks it seems so you are stuck with me.” Lance got out, a wide smile on his lips.

After that, things grew silent. Keith had so much to say, but he didn’t think it was the right time. God he didn’t know if there would ever be a right time to say all the things he wanted to say. So he started off small.

“I’m really glad you are okay, I was… You were unconscious and I had no idea if you were... “ Keith didn’t go on and by the way Lance’s head lowered he knew what Keith had meant.

After signing out of the hospital Lance and Keith were greeted outside by Shiro who was standing next to his car, Keith was glad that he had driven it over so Lance wouldn’t have to endure the bumps of the parking lot.

“I expect Keith to take good care of you Lance, and Lance I expect you to be bedridden for at least the next week and a half. Got it?” Keith looked down to see Lance nodding and within a few minutes, Keith had successfully gotten Lance into the car. It was a little difficult but Lance did really well getting into the small car despite the pain he was in. Keith closed the door and before he went to the driver's side he was stopped by Shiro, who had the keys in his hand, dangling them with a smile. “Don’t worry about a car okay?” Shiro spoke, putting the keys into Keith’s hand. Keith remembered giving them back to Shiro when he had gotten to the hospital. “I’ll see what I can find for you. I know you don’t have the money, and I want to help you out in any way, I can. You can use mine until I find something for you. Okay?” Keith was about to protest but Shiro was already pushing him away and waving to him as he walked back into the building. Keith didn’t know how he got so lucky. Shiro was always too good to him.

“I’m so sorry.” Lance nearly whispered as Keith got into the car. “I heard you and Shiro. I can help pay for you to get a new car I promise. You can stop paying me, I’ll work for free.” Keith was blown away by the sincerity in Lance’s tone.

“That's not necessary.” Keith spoke, starting to pull away. “Besides it was a piece of shit anyways. Now I guess I have to focus on fixing up my motorcycle.” Keith laughed a bit, but stopped when he saw Lance out of the corner of his eye he looked angry.

“It’s not nothing. God I have been such a burden on you this whole time, and yet you still put up with me.” Lance groaned, putting his face into his hands. “That’s all I’ve ever been.” Lance continued.

“Funny, because I don’t see it that way.” Keith spoke, his tone hard. Unwavering. “You always think so lowly of yourself, yet I think you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have never met someone so open like you, or someone so adventurous and fun. You constantly get me to try new things and I love that about our relationship. I have never seen you has a burden, and I never will.”

Keith didn’t look away from the road as he gave his speech, but he could see Lance looking at him with wide eyes in the corner of his vision. He didn’t say anything else and for a while it was silent.

“Thank you, for everything.” Lance finally spoke. Keith simply gave a small smile and kept his eyes forward. They were close to his house now and he didn’t even realize they had passed the crash sight until he saw Lance whip around in his seat to look out the window. There were still scraps of metal on the side of the road and even thinking about the whole thing made Keith nearly sick. “God, It must have been really bad.” Lance spoke his voice a bit shaky. “Do you know if the other driver got out okay?”

“To be honest I hope they died.” Keith spoke harshly, causing Lance to look over at him quickly. A confused look on his face. “Because of them I… We almost lost you, it was a drunk driver and because of their stupid choice I almost lost someone else close to me. I couldn’t take that again. Not like that.” Keith was shaking a bit now but luckily he could see the end of his driveway coming up. As he turned he felt an arm on his shoulder and looked over to Lance who was giving him a worried look. He let himself sigh and tried to put a smile on his face. Everything would be fine now, Lance was safe and he would recover and things were fine. Keith kept telling himself that as he and Lance got settled back into the house. The dogs had a fit when they arrived home and Keith had to take most of the blow for Keith so that he wouldn’t get injured by being jumped on. The dogs were smart though they knew Lance was in pain and were much tamer than usual.

Keith watched as Lance slowly made his way to the couch and as he sat down the dogs all gathered around him and cuddled to him. The smile on his face made Keith’s cheeks heat up. He looked at the clock on the wall and realized it was around dinner time, and Lance had probably not had that much to eat so he decided he would try to cook something up.

He made his way to the kitchen and tried to find the most comforting thing he could find and decided on some burgers. He remembered how happy Lance was the last time they had had burgers. It didn’t take long for Keith to get things prepped and started. He had even brought out his over the counter grill and when he made his back to the living room he saw Lance laying over fluffy, snoring softly. He smiled and walked over draping a blanket over. Lance was probably very tired and he would need all the rest he could get to feel better. Keith tried to gently position him in a way that wouldn’t hurt his neck and when he was done he slowly moved the hair from his face. His face was covered in red marks from small cuts he had gotten and he still had a patch of gauze on his forehead from a decent sized gash he had gained from the crash and slowly moved his thumb over it. Lance’s skin was still perfect all things considering and Keith had to admit it was impressive.

Keith smiled and before he made his way back to the kitchen he brought his face down and kissed Lance softly on the forehead. He blushed when Lance moved a bit and made a small noise it was adorable and Keith felt himself falling more in love with this perfect guy. He had meant every word when he had told Lance he was his dream guy. He was in every aspect.

After a while dinner was finally made so Keith had to the task of now waking Lance up. He didn’t really want to but Lance needed to eat something, so he would have to suck it up and just do it despite not wanting to interrupt the boys rest.

“Hey sleeping beauty, I made food.” Keith spoke softly as he tapped Lance’s shoulder. Fluffy had stayed on his lap the whole time and Lance slowly raised his head and looked around, rubbing his eyes and yawning. He was very groggy so Keith just waited a minute for him to respond.

“What did you make?” Lance asked with a yawn as he finally started to wake up. Keith simply walked into the kitchen and grabbed the plate he had set up for Lance ad brought it back and as soon as Lance saw the plate he was beaming. He had a smile on his face and he was already reaching for it. Keith smiled and walked back to get his own plate and came back to where Lance was sitting. Fluffy had relocated to the floor so Keith found himself beside Lance and switched on the TV, trying to find something before he started to eat his food. Lance had already started to dig in and Keith chuckled when he heard Lance groan, he was happy it tasted good at least. He had Lance to thank for that after all. He was hopeless when it came to cooking before Lance had shown up in his life.

Keith finally decided on some random drama and just like the last time the two were starting to get super into it. Keith had even shed a tear. Lance wouldn’t let him live it down.

“I can’t believe you cried when Troy died. He wasn’t even that good of a character. Have you ever even seen this show before, how did you get so attached.” Lance laughed as Keith wiped his eyes.

“He had dogs, he left dogs behind, Lance!” Keith argued back. “Who is gonna take care of them, did you ever think of that? They are not gonna be fed, they are gonna be wondering when their owner is coming back.”

Suddenly Keith watched the tears slip down Lance’s cheeks and a laugh escaped him.

“See, it’s sad. Fuck you for making fun of my tears.” Keith finally spoke, pushing Lance’s arm a bit. His tone playful.

“Keith what the fuck, don’t push your emo feelings onto me.” Lance sobbed, wiping his own eyes now. “I can’t believe this, you suck.” Lance laughed.

By the end of the episode Lance and Keith were huddled up and had a blanket draped over them. Lance had his head resting on Keith’s shoulder and Keith could feel his heart racing. He couldn’t believe he actually gained the courage to put his arm around the other boys shoulder.

Keith looked over and he felt his face heat up even more Lance was already looking at him. Lance slowly brought a hand up to his face and Keith could feel his heart beating out of his chest. Lance’s eyes scanned his face and he could feel his soft fingers run over one of his cuts he had gotten from the crash. Keith gulped a bit as Lance’s eyes lowered to his mouth with lidded eyes. Keith and Lance both started to move forward and he could feel Lance’s breath on his lips, making him shiver a bit. Lance’s hand had now moved to cup Keith’s cheek and his thumb was slowly moving up and down on his cheek going over every small scrape and bruise. Keith just wanted them to close the distance already, so he closed his eyes.

But it was short lived.

As soon as Keith closed his eyes and moved his hand to rest on the nape of Lance’s neck they were interrupted by a series of dog barks and a loud tapping sound. The two boys parted and Keith could see Lance’s face was beat red as he turned his face away covering his mouth. Keith looked away himself and felt his chest get heavy. They had been so close. He slowly got up and grabbed an umbrella just in case that was sitting by the front door before making his way to the back door. The dogs were still barking and Keith grew annoyed as he made his way over. He loved his dogs, but he couldn’t deny his aggravation. He had been so close to kissing Lance, and now things would probably be awkward, which he knew was irrational. He had already kissed Lance. He ran a hand down his face and groaned just thinking about it. Keith looked out the back window and was met with none other than a few racoons. He sighed and wanted to yell, but instead he just shooed the dogs away. Things went back to being quiet and Keith walked back to the couch plopping down beside Lance who had scooted over to another end.

“It was just some baby racoons.” Keith sighed, cursing his dogs in his head. The air was a lot more tense than it had been before. Lance was avoiding eye contact and his face was much redder than before. Keith wanted to ask what was wrong, was Lance mad that their kiss was interrupted?

“I think I’m gonna go head to bed. I don’t feel so good.” Lance spoke, standing up slowly and cringing a bit when he was finally up. Keith immediately stood up and grabbed Lance’s hand, while his other rested on Lance’s back.

“Well, lemme help you get upstairs then.” Keith insisted. Lance quickly pulled his hand away and Keith missed the warmth. He wanted to help Lance in any way he could. Keith was a bit overprotective of the people he cared about, and that was doubled for Lance. Tripled now because he was injured.

“I uh, I can uh do it myself.” Lance spoke, stuttering a bit. “You don’t have to help.”

“Lance…” Keith let out softly. “Are you okay? You were okay a few minutes ago, I’m kinda confused.”

“I don’t know, I just feel kinda stupid.” Lance admitted with a sigh. Keith could see his face already growing red once again.

“Was it what happened earlier, or well, what didn’t happen.” Keith asked, cocking his head a bit to the side. “I mean, I don’t know if you noticed but I wasn’t shying away from it.” Keith finally stuttered, his heart beating in his chest. He didn’t know why he was saying any of this. Part of him felt embarrassed for bringing it up. Maybe Lance was really just not feeling well.

“I just don’t want you to pity me.” Lance finally spoke. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to do something you don’t want to…” Keith cut him off right there. He wasn’t gonna let Lance even finish that sentence. With one smooth motion Keith brought both of his hands up and cupped both sides of Lance’s face and pulled their faces together. Lance’s lips didn’t move on his for a few seconds and the kiss was stiff but after a few seconds Keith’s hands had found their way to Keith’s waist and he was gripping onto Keith’s shirt like he was going to disappear. The kiss was sloppy and inexperienced but there was raw emotion between the two of them. There was a lot of pent up emotions being brought to the surface and it felt so good to let them go. The kiss lasted at least a minute and when the two boys pulled away they were both breathing heavily. Keith’s face was probably tomato red at this point, but it didn’t matter. Lance still had hooded eyes but soon his face transformed into a smile. Keith let himself smile and soon they were both laughing.

“You.. are a really bad kisser.” Lance giggled. “I’ll have to teach you.” Lance winked.

“Shush.” Keith laughed. Leaning into Lance a little. “You’re my first kiss. God I wish I had been a social teenager.”

“I’m the only person you have ever kissed?” Lance spoke, his mouth in an O shape. “Did you never go to highschool parties? No boyfriends or girlfriends?”

“Nah, I just never got close to anybody after my parents passed.” Keith admitted with a shrug. “Well until you showed up.” He blushed.

“I’ll have to kiss you a whole lot then to make up for all that you missed.” Lance smiled, leaning in and pressing a kiss on his forehead. Keith leaned into it and he couldn’t help the smile that was plastered onto his face. When they pulled away Keith helped Lance up the stairs. He opted to just picking Lance up instead of helping him walk, and it resulted in Keith blushing as Lance buried his face into his neck. When he got Lance into his room he placed him gently on the bed and as he backed away Lance quickly grabbed his collar and pulled him in for another kiss. Keith leaned into it and a small moan escaped him which caused Lance to giggle against his lips.

“Sorry… I’ve been wanting to kiss you for a long time. If it makes you uncom…”

“It doesn’t” Keith smiled, kissing him again softly before standing back up. “You just relax okay, the more sleep you get the better you will feel.” Keith advised, crossing his arms. “If you are up tomorrow before 11am I will personally drag you back to bed. Besides I don’t want you going down the stairs by yourself, you might fall.”

“Thanks, mom.” Lance laughed, slowly settling himself under the covers. “Goodnight, Keith.” Lance finished with a small smile. Keith couldn’t help but smile himself and when he got to the door he turned back and saw that Lance was already laying down.

“Sleep well, Lance.” he spoke softly, closing the door as he exited. Keith found himself leaning on the door once it was closed and his heart was racing. He had kissed Lance and things were definitely different between them. He wasn’t sure where their relationship would go from here but he was excited and he couldn’t help but smile. He buried his head into his hands and had to bite his hand a bit to keep from audibly voicing his excitement. He was just so overjoyed and he didn’t think anything could ruin his mood now.

Keith made his way to his room and as he got settled into bed he felt like a weight had been lifted. He and Lance had crossed a barrier he didn’t think they would cross for a while and he was so happy that he made the move. That he took the chance, because he was excited to see what the future would hold. He loved Lance more than anything and he wanted to be in his life for a long time. He hoped that even if they didn’t end up dating that he could always be in Lance’s life and stay friends. Lance made his life better and Lance made it easier for him to stay strong and keep going.

A little past 12am Keith was nearly asleep when he heard a knock on his door. He stood up and when he walked over to the door he saw Lance with a pained expression and tears in his eyes. Keith immediately led him to the bed and sat him down. Kneeling so he could see Lance’s face that was downcast.

“It hurt so much.” Lance cried, holding his stomach. “God why does it hurt this much.” Keith felt his heart break and brought a hand up to run it through his hair. Lance leaned into the touch, and Keith sighed before speaking.

“I know it hurts.” he whispered softly, keeping a hand in Lance’s hair. “I’ll go get you your pain meds okay?” Keith watched Lance nod and pressed a soft kiss on the top of his head before leaving. When he came back he had brought the pill, some water and a warm glass of milk which was something he remembered Lance loving. Keith sat beside the boy on his bed and as Lance downed the pill with the warm milk Keith rubbed circles into his back. He used slow movements and made a note to be gentle when it came to touching Lance anywhere. His body was covered in bruises.

“Do you wanna stay?” Keith asked, still rubbing his hand along Lance’s back. He wanted to comfort Lance and his overprotective side wanted Lance to be here with him if something happened. His wounds were still fresh and he was in a lot of pain. He noticed the small nod Lance gave and made a small sound of acknowledgement. “Do you want me to get you anything else?”

“No, just keep rubbing my back like this. It feels really nice.” Lance whispered letting his head rest on Keith’s shoulder. “I really hope these meds kick in fast.”

“Me too. I don’t like seeing you in pain.” Keith spoke.

“Funny. I don’t like being in pain.” Lance chuckled a bit. “Thank you though, for everything. You are so good to me and I just… I really appreciate it.”

“I guess I’m just trying to pay you back for all the good you have done for me, you really changed my life, Lance. I mean that.” Keith admitted, taking Lance’s hand in his free one. “I just want you to feel safe and happy like you’ve made me feel.”

“God you are so emo.” Lance chuckled. “I’m glad I could help you though, you are so deserving of love and people who care about you, considering the life you were given.”

“I’d say my life is pretty good. I made so many good memories with my parents, and Shiro is the best brother I could ever ask for… and I met you. So I think I’m pretty well off. It just took me a while to really realize that.”

“I can’t wait till you can meet my friends. They will love you so much. Hunk will immediately make you feel like part of the group and Pidge is usually grumpy but they will love you, they believe in cryptids and all that stuff too. I just really can’t wait for them to get to meet you.” Lance spoke, his voice a little more cheerful. The pain meds must have started to take effect.

“If they are anything like you I’ll like them too.” Keith grinned.

The two boys talked for awhile and soon they had moved to a laying position and Lance talked about things he had done with his friends and things he had done as a kid and Keith ate it up smiling at every word. The two didn’t take long to drift into a peaceful sleep and Keith remembered the last thing he did before dozing off was giving Lance a small lazy kiss and feeling a hand softly stroking his cheek.

“Goodnight I love you, Keith.”