Lance was lazily stirring his cup of iced caramel macchiato, thin lips forced into a frown. Today was one of the colder days of the month, and it only ruined his mood even more. Burying himself deeper into his coat, he whined.
“I haaate my life.”
Even though he was surrounded by good friends, they all stopped paying attention to his cries hours ago. Matt was pretending he was serving a new customer, Coran was writing something behind the counter, Allura was nowhere to be seen. Only Hunk, with a heart as big as the universe, offered him an encouraging smile.
“You alright, buddy?” Hunk said, followed by a loud groan from Matt.
“He’s not. I know that, you know that, he knows that. I don’t want to listen to his sob story for the 32nd time.” Matt yelled, receiving a lot of stares from the nearby customers at his sudden outburst. He looked at the woman to his left who was very obviously scoffing, and raised his arms up into the air. “What?” Paying no mind, Lance rambled on.
“No, but really. Am I that horrible? That ugly? There’s no way I’m that ugly. Hunk, was It because I’m ugly?”
“You’re pretty handsome, Lance. I doubt it was because of that.” Lance starred him down, looking for any signs of a lie. But instead, all he got was a gentle smile from Hunk, his eyes pooling with warmth. He might be feeling a little guilty for ever doubting him.
“Maybe it was just your horrible personality?” Matt grinned, passing him by on his way to the counter, the notepad he held filled with new orders. Lance audibly gasped, hand tightly held against his chest.
“Rude! I’ll let you know, that isn’t even a possibility. Can’t be. Nuh-uh. I refuse.” He stood up, macchiato in his hand, and dragged himself to the counter. He leaned against it, begrudgingly drinking his already cold drink. He forgot to sip on it between all of his pathetic rants. Great. Lately, no matter who he tried to woo, to charm with his amazing pick up lines, he always failed. Today was especially bad. There he was, all happy and bouncy, arriving at Paladins’ Coffee, and seeing this angel, a blessing. As soon as he stepped in, he saw her. His goddess. His inspiration. Tan skin, long red hair, and beautiful blue eyes. All confident, he strutted towards her, a smirk gracing his lips. A pick up line he can’t even remember left his mouth, and she laughed. Pointed at him, even. Called him pathetic, took her drink and left him standing there, bathing in his embarrassment. Lance sighed. Truly the highlight bad day of his recent bad days. Just as he was about to start whining again, the doors to the café slammed open.
At the entrance stood a guy, probably his age. Pale skin, dark eyes and a disgrace of a hairstyle. He was hunched over, breathing hard. The guy was visibly shaking, and even from this distance, Lance could tell he was bathed in sweat. His eyes scanned the room, before locking on Lance’s. Without missing a beat, he ran towards him. Lance quickly glanced behind him, and noticed he’s alone. No signs of Matt, Hunk and Coran. They all must’ve left back to work when he started reminiscing about the good ol’ bad times.
“Do you work here?” The guy said, seemingly in a hurry. Like if he didn’t say it right there and then, he couldn’t say it ever again. And it was such a trivial question, too. Alas, Lance was taken aback by his raspy voice. It was like the guy was running for ten hours straight with his mouth open or something. Or maybe he just woke up and needed a cup of coffee real bad. Lance could relate.
“Sorry, I’m on a break.” He could see the guy get more impatient, so close to crossing an edge Lance couldn’t see. Damn caffeine addict. The druggest drug of all. Lance smirked at his poor state, and winked. “If you’re really so coffee depraved, I guess I could make you s-“
“Super iced coffee with Natural syrups.” The guy interrupted, his voice breaking at the end. It was so small and quiet, yet full of hope. Lance was frozen. He couldn’t move. He only stared at the guy, and the guy stared back. Did Lance hear him correctly? He swore minutes passed. The guy’s brows furrowed, edging him on. With a shaky voice, Lance replied.
“Here or take-out?”
Lance let out a fast chain of Spanish curse words before he could stop himself. He shut his eyes and buried his hand into his hair, a habit he had developed to cope up with his nervousness. He didn’t know what to do. This wasn’t the job for him, not right now. He was on a break. He wasn’t supposed to deal with this again. Damn it.
“Uh, Blue Paladin?” he heard the guy quietly say. He opened his eyes and noticed the former’s gaze on his name tag, reading his stupid code name.
“Call me just Blue for now.” Lance sighed, taking the last sip of his coffee before throwing it in a trash can nearby. He took a good look at the guy. He was fit, his black skinny jeans protectively hugging his legs, with a grey v neck t-shirt draping over his torso. In his right hand he held what seemed to be a red leather jacket, some keys and oh god. Are those fingerless gloves? Lame. He tried to decide what’s worse, his gloves or the bad mullet he was sporting, but after some tough thinking he decided to settle on both. But, his face wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was quite attractive. With those brooding lips, thick eyebrows and dark eyes that tried to burn a hole through Lance’s head. Lance sighed.
“Look, Keith, I’m on a break. And while I’m sure your case is very important, I’m still on a break. All I can do is contact the other staff while you wait by the door, or something. You’re scaring the other customers with your bad hair choices.”
Keith let out a small laugh that, for one, didn’t reach his eyes, and for two, sounded like something straight out of a horror movie. Before Lance could dwell on it more, Keith’s hand grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close, their noses only inches apart.
“Look, Periwinkle. My brother was kidnapped by some big shadowy shit and for all I know, every second matters. I don’t have time for your shit.” He angrily spat, before releasing Lance and taking a step back, visibly shaking from all the anger he felt. Big shadowy shit?
Lance groaned before taking Keith by his wrist, and leading him behind the counter. He could feel him tense under his touch, but he didn’t protest.
“Don’t talk about stuff like that in the open.” He mumbled, unlocking a door that read Staff Only and pushing Keith inside. It was a simple room. The walls were painted grey, and the only things in the room were two benches, a bunch of their stuff, and another door with a big lock on it. He locked the door behind them, and pointed to the bench, indicating for Keith to sit there. He obliged, and Lance closed his eyes and took a moment to think. No signs of his friends here either. He was alone, and on a well needed break. Should he really be the one dealing with this situation? He shouldn’t.
“Look, I really didn’t lie when I said I was on a break. Would you mind waiting here while I go get the working staff?” He opened his eyes, and that was his biggest mistake of the day. The guy was looking straight at him, eyes filled with unnamed emotions. He could see him tense, unconsciously playing with his fingers. It looked like he was fighting an internal fight with himself. The guy was clearly in some kind of distress and probably shouldn’t be left alone. Lance sighed yet again, pushing away Matt’s stuff that was in the way before sitting down beside him.
“I’ll just text them instead.” He murmured, more for himself than for the guy. He really didn’t enjoy the tense silence they shared.
Groupchat “MINIMUM WAGERS”
Participants: MustacheLuver, ma(t)2, Chunk, viva lance vida, Allura
viva lance vida: gUYS
viva lance vida: where u @
viva lance vida: i have a situation!
viva lance vida: SN SITUATION!!
viva lance vida: we’re n the staff room
viva lance vida: pls hurry
viva lance vida: pls
He stared at his phone, hoping for an instant reply. Nothing. Not even two minutes later. Or five. He would know, the only thing he did was stare at his phone, while the guy next to him tried to calm down and catch his breath. They sat like that for ten minutes. Six hundred seconds. In complete silence, and Lance couldn’t take that anymore. He spared a quick glance at Keith, who was leaning against the wall, his eyes closed and hands on his lap. He only now noticed how tired the latter was.
Crossing out the conversation, his only option left was music. He unlocked his phone and scrolled through his playlist. Settling for a decent choice, he pressed play. Suddenly, the whole room boomed with Shakira’s Whenever Wherever. A classic. He could feel the grove with his whole body, head bobbing with the beat. The body next to him let out a load groan.
“Excuse me? This is clearly Shakira.” First he grabs him by the collar, then yells at him, and then insults his muse? Now that was clearly crossing the line.
“Still sucks.” Keith deadpanned.
“Listen, Mullet. You’re here on my territory and under my roof, so you better behave yourself.” With every accented word, he poked Keith’s chest. More like tried to stab him with his finger, if he was honest. Keith bit his lip, opening his eyes and before he knew it, Lance was sucked into the vortex of those beautiful eyes with no signs of escape.
“Your territory sucks too.”
“That how you wanna play, huh?” Lance stood up, his honour on the line. He’s going to show him who’s in charge here and he’s gonna like it. Before Keith could even react, Lance grabbed his phone, put volume on the max and stared Keith down hard. With the tilt of his lips, he pressed play and his speaker blasted Despacito by Luis Fonsi. Keith was on his legs in no time, trying to wrestle the phone out of his hand. Lance just laughed, putting his hand up as high as he could. He only now noticed he was taller than Keith a few inches, and he greatly enjoyed it.
“Don’t make me listen to that mainstream trash or I’ll swear I’ll-“
The doors slammed open, and both of them froze in their places. Lance with both of his arms in the air, and Keith on his toes, dangerously close, with one hand on Lance’s chest and the other trying to catch his hand. When did his hand get there?
“What is going on here?” Allura demanded, standing at the entrance with her hand still around the door handle.
Keith felt stupid. He quickly backed away from Blue, his gaze on the floor. He tugged at his glove, embarrassment growing in him.
“Pink! Haha! Nothing. At all. Just showing our visitor here what good taste sounds like.” Blue tilted his head in Keith’s direction, voice traced with accusation. Keith groaned.
“Can we just get to the problem? I don’t have time to waste.”
Pink nodded and then turned to Blue.
“Find Purple and tell him to tend after the shop. Also, bring Yellow here. We need him too, but I do not know where he went.”
“And Green?” Blue asked. Keith tried to focus on their conversation but that’s too many colours.
“Green’s here, reportin’ for duty.” A familiar voice said, squeezing beside Pink to get into the room. Green was a small boy, with messy hazel hair and oversized round glasses. He was wearing the same work uniform as Pink, shirt and pants in their designated colours with black accents and a white long apron on top, their Paladins’ Coffee logo stitched on. They all had their nametags on, Blue who wasn’t in his work uniform as well. Even though Pink, with her long white hair tied in a bun, tan skin, striking blue eyes and overall beautiful looks, was emitting a powerful aura, Green didn’t seem to mind. Cutting straight through it, his eyes on the gameboy he held, voice nonchalant. “What’s up?”
“What’s up? What do you mean what’s up? I sent you all a message hours ago and only now you appear? What’s up indeed!” Blue spat, his arms making absurd motions while he spoke.
“It has been only fifteen minutes, Blue. Go find the other paladins.” Pink said, her hands on his shoulder while she pushed him towards the door. “This will not happen again, I promise.”
At that, Blue nodded and left the room leaving them in silence. No one seemed to notice Blue never stopped the music, until now. Pink sighed and sat down on the bench, legs gracefully crossed.
“I am sorry about Blue. He means well.”
Keith scoffed. Yeah, sure. He sat down on his previous place, eyes stuck watching Green. He seemed so familiar.
“What is troubling you?” Pink reached over, placing her hand over Keith’s gently.
“My brother was kidnapped by something, something big and, formless? Like a black shadow.”
At this, Green’s eyes shot straight up, hands dropping the now forgotten gameboy.
“Keith?” Green said shakily, stuck in place.
Keith looked up at him, and suddenly everything clicked.
Matt opened his mouth to say something, before quickly closing it and sitting down beside Keith, worry in his eyes. “Shiro was kidnapped?”
When Keith nodded, Matt quickly turned around to face Pink. “We need to help him, Allura!”
Pink/Allura sighed, standing up and pinching Matt’s cheek harshly, before smiling at Keith. “Nice to meet you, I am Allura. And,” she paused, glancing at Matt again. “We will help.”
She walked over to the door with an enormous lock on it, leaving behind a grinning Matt and a relieved Keith. When she unlocked the door, she motioned for them to go in first. Matt happily obliged, taking Keith’s hand and leading them inside. What he thought was just a room at first, was actually a disguised elevator. Allura stepped in, punching a sequence of numbers that let out satisfied beeps, and before he knew it, they were going down.
“Are you sure that’s what the demon looked like?” Matt tugged on his arm, a strange spark in his eyes.
“Yea, pretty sure.”
Matt let out a satisfied hum, just as the doors opened. They walked out and damn, Keith was in awe. The room was huge. Every single wall was covered in antique looking posters, newspaper articles and stained pages ripped from books about mythology and demons, he assumed. There was even a big corkboard, with pictures attached and red yarn strings connecting them. In the middle of the room, was a big round table with eight chairs and various papers scattered across it. In the middle of it, there were two glass jugs with labels on them. One read “Regular Water”, and the other “Holy Water” with a DO NOT DRINK scribbled on top of it in red. There was a small bowl of salt next to it, and a dozen glass cups. From the ceiling hung rows and rows of gems attached to strings, and the floor was covered in odd runes and symbols. He noticed the room smelled weird, and now he could blame the lit candles scattered all across the room for it. Against the walls were shelves full of books, a radio that currently played some foreign music, and a single landline phone. The room was full, and even if there were a couple of spaces where it could be considered somewhat empty, it was stuffed with plants. A lot of plants.
“Plants are for the oxygen.” Matt said, sitting down in one of the chairs. Keith bit down his smile, he felt excited. He felt like he was in a secret base, and if not for his reason to come here, he would laugh in joy. He knew it was all real. Take that, society.
He sat down next to Matt, while Allura was rummaging through the shelves. She smiled victoriously and pulled out a fat book. It had at least a thousand pages, and was old just as much. The leather cover of it was faded and full of scratches and scuffs. She made her way towards them, dropping the book right in front of Keith. With a drop, it released a ton of nasty dust, making all three of them cough harmoniously. The book had some tabs sticking out, and Allura opened it to the first marked page. On it was a black creature with horns and harsh red eyes. It was big and slouching, long arms reaching below its knees. Next to it was what he assumed was its name and description, written in a language he couldn’t understand.
“Is that what it looked like?” Allura said, hand pointing at the illustration. He could feel Matt staring at him expectedly, so he looked over the black creature again.
“It’s not.” He murmured, and Matt cracked a small smile.
“Alright, how about this one?” Allura said, and found the next tab, flipping the pages to show a new black creature.
“No, that neither.”
They kept going through all the tabs, and with his every decline, Matt’s smile grew bigger. He could tell Matt was trying to hide it, but it wasn’t very successful. He couldn’t remember Matt liking mysteries and adventures, but now he sure looked like it. On the contrary, Allura’s lips kept stretching in various degrees of a frown. She kept occasionally glancing at Matt as well, eyes filled with growing worry. They went through all the tabs, and Allura sighed. Closing the book with more force than necessary, she sat down in the chair next to Keith.
“I offer my apologies, Keith. But if it is not one of those demons, I am afraid we can not help you much.” Before Keith could react, Matt pitched in.
“We could go after it!” he stood up, hands slamming against the table. “Allura, please. That thing just keeps causing more and more trouble, we need to go after it. It’s our job!”
“It is not that easy. Going after something unknown can take months, years even! Now sit down, we had this conversation before.” Allura demanded.
Keith was expecting Matt to sit down, but instead he just yelled louder, more determined.
“No. This is our chance, Allura. And I’m not missing it.”
Allura sighed, crossing her arms and closing her eyes. They were left in silence. Matt was about to fight again, but Allura interrupted him.
“Fine. We will try.”
Matt grinned and let out a loud whoop, hand triumphantly raised in the air. He sat back down, the smile stretching from ear to ear.
“In order to find it, we will need to go after it. Follow its trails, which I pray, it has left. Due to our limited numbers, only one paladin would be allowed to go, taking Keith along. It will be extremely dangerous, as we do not know anything about the demon.” She sighed, seemingly stalling. “We need to send our best, or no one at all.”
“We both know he’s not ready, Allura. I’ll go instead.” Matt replied dryly, raising one of his arms as to motion he’s volunteering.
“I will not allow that.” Allura spat through her gritted teeth, surprising Keith. He didn’t think she was capable of channelling that much fury. “I am not risking your life again, Matt. We just got you back. Please.”
“So you’d rather risk his life instead? He’s not ready yet!”
“He is our only chance.” Allura said harshly, indicating that this was the end of their conversation. She stood up, taking the book to return it. Matt groaned, arms raised in frustration. Keith stayed quiet this whole time, letting Matt fight for him. But he was curious.
“Who’s the best?”
Uuuuuuuuugh. Lance forgot he never paused his music, which resulted in him walking out in a crowded café, blasting Despacito. Great. He shut off his phone, glancing around. He couldn’t see Coran or Hunk, which resulted in another loud groan. He went around, asking various customers if they saw the other staff, but to no avail. At least he was out of the room that used to be his place of peace, but was now only chocking him until he couldn’t breathe or think anymore. He spotted a smudge of yellow in one of the café’s windows, and smirked. Gotcha.
“Yeeeeeeeeellow. Yeeeellow.” He yelled, running towards the entrance. Hunk turned around, just in time to catch Lance who jumped on top of him.
“Where were you when I needed you the most.” Lance whined, wrapping his arms tightly around his neck. “Prepare to die, traitor.”
“Woa, buddy. What happened?” Hunk asked, trying to turn around to look at Lance. Lance sighed and jumped off, shooting daggers with his eyes.
“I was faced with an emergency and an asshole, and you didn’t even reply to my texts!”
“Sorry, bud. I was out and my phone battery died.” Hunk raised his hand, gesturing to a plastic bag full of dark coffee beans in it.
“Allura needs you down in the castle. Also, have you seen Coran?” Lance followed Hunk back into the café and to the counter. The latter put the beans away and mused.
“He’s having his own emergency”, Hunk whispered, pointing to the bathroom.
They snickered slyly, before Lance walked over to the bathroom door and knocked.
“Your next duty is watching over the shop, soldier.” Lance saluted even though Coran wasn’t able to see him, and returned to Hunk who was now preparing four drinks.
“Get it? Because he’s now on poop duty?” Lance grinned, waiting for Hunk’s reaction. Hunk just smiled and handed him two of the drinks.
“Help me bring this down.” Hunk grabbed the rest and headed towards the elevator. Lance just grunted in response and followed. He doesn’t want to go back there. Hunk’s taking him just because he knows Lance is curious and was planning on asking him a billion questions about it later. Sneaky. They locked the staff door, before hoping in the elevator and typing in the sequence of numbers. Lance could never remember it, so he just let Hunk do it. He was good with numbers. Just as the doors opened, he heard someone saying Blue. Blue. He stormed out, brows furrowed.
“Are you gossiping about me?” He demanded, glancing across the room. He could feel Allura’s gaze on him, as he walked towards the table, putting down his drinks. “Well, Green?” He said, venomous gaze directed at Matt.
“Allura’s sending you out.” He said, crossing his arms over his chest.
What. What. Whatwhatwhat. He could feel his heart beating faster, his breathing getting harder, his hands shaking manically. “What.” Matt had his lips pursed into a frown, looking anywhere but him. Keith was studying the posters on the walls, or pretending to. Hunk was frozen standing just in front of the elevator with drinks still in his hands. And Allura was still staring at him, gaze unmoving.
“I am giving you another chance.”
“A chance at what? Losing my mind even more?” Lance scoffed, foot idly taping the ground.
“No. A chance at saving a-“ He groaned, pointing at Keith who flinched the moment attention was on him.
“Can we not do this in front of him?”
“Alright. We will not. Calm down, Blue.” Allura said quietly, her whole posture giving off how tired she felt. She leaned against the shelves, worry in her eyes. “I am sorry for putting you in this situation.”
Lance laughed dryly, sitting down a few seats away from Matt. “I still have a chance to refuse, don’t I?”
“No. You owe me.” Matt said, frustration apparent in his voice, but he was still unable to look at him.
Lance groaned, resting his arms on top of the table and burying his face into his hands. He spent a few moments thinking. He really did owe Matt a favour, but he also really didn’t want to do this.
“What’s the plan?”
Allura smiled and walked over to sit next to him, motioning for Hunk to sit down as well. Hunk finally realized he hasn’t moved an inch, so he hurriedly walked over, putting the drinks he held down in front of Matt and Keith. He smiled apologetically at Keith, whispering. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what your drink preference was so I just made a regular.” Keith murmured a thank you, and Hunk turned to sit down on the chair between Matt and Allura.
“Now, that we are all here. Keith’s brother has been taken by a demon. The demon in question is an unknown, which means we will have to hunt it down. We will have to start from the location where he was last seen and continue from there. In best case, you two will find a clue and go after it. In the worst case, you will find nothing and return to the base. Understood?” Allura glanced around the room.
“Us two?” Lance asked, lifting his head up from his palms.
“Yes. You are taking Keith with you.”
“Why him? Why me?” He groaned. What an amazing way to end this day.
“Him, because he is the only one who knows how the demon looks. And you, because you are the best we can offer. Are you in?” Allura replied. Damn it. She knew he was weak to praise.
“Please, Blue. This matters to Keith. And to me too.” Matt said, begging Lance with his gaze. He already knew this was important to him. Lance sighed.
“If Keith dies, it’s not my fault. If I die, it’s everyone’s fault. Deal?”
“Deal.” Matt stood up, a wide grin on his face. He grabbed his cup of coffee and took a long sip.
“Alright. Now that this is done, we will leave you two to discuss more of the plan.” Allura nodded, taking her drink as well before proudly patting Lance on the back and smiling at Keith. They walked towards the elevator, waiting for Hunk. Hunk just grinned at Lance.
“It’s just a trip around the country, bud. It might help you clear your mind.”
And then they were all gone, elevator taking them up. Hunk was right. They weren’t guaranteed to find the demon. If anything, it was highly unlikely. It is just a trip. He took his new cup of iced caramel macchiato that Hunk made for him, and just stared at it. He will be alright. He nodded, more for himself, and drank it all in one go. His throat and tongue were burning, and he needed just that. A sensation to ground him.
“Got a car?” He asked, looking at Keith. The latter was just silently sipping on his cup of coffee the whole time, not saying a word.
Lance groaned. He took his empty cup and threw it towards the bin across the room, only to miss. The cup rolled away from the bin, rubbing salt in Lance’s wound. But he guessed it was worth it, seeing a small smile that made its way on Keith’s face.
“We’ll be taking my babe then. But I’m not driving.”
Keith finished his cup as well, throwing it towards the bin and the cursed cup actually landed inside. He smirked.
“Yes, and you’re not allowed to scratch her even a tiny bit.” Lance stood up, and Keith followed.
“Pledge on your honour.” Lance said, suddenly determined. Keith just looked at him, accidentally starting a silent staring competition. Lance really liked his eyes. They were grey with specs of violet, and somehow, very sad. But Lance didn’t mind. Keith groaned and turned away, and Lance could’ve swore he saw tints of red on Keith’s ears. He raised his hand, pressing it against his heart.
“I pledge on my honour that I won’t scratch The babe.”
“When are we leaving?” He asked once they were in the elevator. Blue hummed, closing his stupid eyes to think. They were so blue and made Keith feel weird things.
“Tonight at midnight. Meet me in front of the café?”
Keith nodded and they were out of the elevator. Blue locked the enormous lock behind them and followed him to the door of the staff only room.
“You know how to drive, right?” He asked, sudden concern in his voice. He looked at Keith, and he couldn’t help but return the wink he received earlier that day.
And with that, he left. Blue stayed in the room, and Keith was equally parts disappointed and relieved. He didn’t want to think about why he was disappointed, so he quickly left the café. In front of the cafe was Yellow, watering flowers that decorated the entrance. Keith made his way towards him.
“Hey, how much was the coffee?” He said, reaching for his wallet, but Yellow just laughed.
“It’s on the house, buddy.” Yellow mused, scratching his neck. “I’m Hunk, by the way.”
“Keith.” He replied and Hunk firmly shook his hand with his free one.
“If Blue’s causing you any problems, feel free to call me.”
Keith nodded and left, Hunk’s big waves cheering him on. It was only six, which meant he had six hours left. He could either sit here and wait, or go and explore for a bit. He sighed, going in an unknown direction. This was his first time in San Francisco, and he really didn’t want to get lost.
It was eleven, and Lance was late. He just now got back home, after spending his whole day whining to Hunk about his sucky life and Keith’s awful eyes. He needed to take a shower, pack his stuff, and choose the best DVDs he can to prepare for the trip. He forgot to ask Keith where they were going, so he had no idea what kind of clothes to pack. He settled for some jeans, sweats, t-shirts and baseball shirts. He stuffed in some socks and underwear into his blue duffel bag and paused to look at it. What did he get himself into? He had every right to refuse, and yet. If Keith’s brother was still alive out there, which he doubted, he had to try. He knew if the positions were switched, he’d want someone looking for him. And catching this demon mattered to Matt. It was like a win-win situation, with Lance winning nothing. He sighed, and went to the bathroom. On top of the showering, he also needed to do his skincare routine. God knows when the next time he does it will be.
It was midnight. Where was Lance? Just left his bathroom in new clothes, hair still wet. He cradled a dozen of his skincare products and masks in his arms before dropping them in his still open duffel bag. Keith could wait, he seemed like a patient guy. Yea. Patience ran in his blood. Lance convinced himself while he went to search for DVDs. Keith didn’t seem like much of a talker, so he needed to bring more than usual. He stared at his impressive collection, choosing only the best. And when he ran out, he chose the second best. And then the second second best. He chose a lot. With his laptop, a couple of portable chargers and headphones, his bag was filled to the maximum capacity. One more thing and it would burst. Now, to the second bag. This one was smaller, and was mostly for the weapons and things needed for protection. His car already had some weapons in it, so he just packed a revolver and a shotgun he had left in his room. And a few packs of silver bullets. And maybe a book about demons and other supernatural stuff, just in case. And yeah, maybe a few bottles of holy water he had around. Screw it. And two packs of salt. Tarot cards. Ouija board. Wooden crosses. More salt. Some protective gems. As he was shoving the gems in the bag, he noticed a round, black one, hanging off a necklace. Black tourmaline. It shields the wearer against the surrounding energy, providing them a safe haven of solemnity. Huh. He shoved that one in his pocket. He put on his favourite green army jacket, trusty sneakers and fixed his hair in the mirror. He was ready. As much as he could be. He picked up his bags and started his trip towards the car.
It was one hour past midnight. Keith groaned for the 50th time that day. It got colder, so he ended up putting his jacket back on. After they parted, he wasted his time by checking out shops, and even visiting an arcade. With nothing left to do, he found himself in front of the Paladins’ Coffee one hour early. The shop was closed, and he had nothing else to do, so he decided to just sit down in front of it and wait for Blue to show up. He has now been waiting for two hours, sitting on the cold cemented ground, smoking a cigarette after cigarette. He smoked since his early teens. Shiro never really approved of it, but now he wasn’t here. Keith could do whatever he wanted. Just as he was about to take his lighter again and start a new cig, he saw a car approaching. Blinding him with lights in the dark of the night, he could only hope that was Blue and not some serial killer.
A blue Chevrolet Bel Air in pristine condition parked in front of him, and he could only stare in awe.
“Kitty got your tongue?” Blue said, as he rolled down his window and stared at Keith, lips tilted in a smirk.
“You’re late.” He said, making his way to the driver’s seat as Blue shifted onto the passenger seat. Now that Keith was closer, he could see the boy was dressed more casually now. When he first saw him today, Blue was dressed like a sin. In a tight indigo coat, muted yellow skinny jeans with ripped knees, and electric blue boots up to his ankles, with a small heel. He also sported a few silver piercings in his ears and silver rings on his fingers. He looked like a model straight out a gay magazine. But now, there wasn’t a trace of those accessories. Instead, he was dressed in a simple blue and white baseball shirt, grey loose sweatpants that he rolled up, low cut white socks and some worn out sneakers. And Keith didn’t know which version he preferred more.
He got in and put his hands on the steering wheel, grasping it tightly. This was it. He started the car again, changed the gear and pressed the gas pedal.
“You smoke?” Blue asked as he grabbed his jacket that was draped across the driver’s seat and covered himself with it. He leaned his seat back and took off his shoes, bringing his knees up to his chest and snuggling back into the seat. God.
“Just don’t smoke in my babe and we’re good.” Blue mused, looking at him. “You didn’t bring any stuff with you to a trip? Risky.”
“Not everyone lives in San Fran, you kn-”
“Fuck I forgot to bring toilet paper.” Blue suddenly yelled, shooting up from his seat. Keith glanced at him, and he couldn’t help but let out a laugh.
“Oh no, such a necessity.”
“Shut up, mullet. We’ll see who’ll be the one laughing when you have to resort to wiping your ass with your stupid gloved hand.” Blue spat out angrily, plopping back into his seat and crossing his arms over his chest. “Where are we going?”
“Arizona. That’s where I’m from. And where we encountered that, demon.” Keith frowned. He always believed in supernatural, but was only now faced with a real thing, and he’s still taken aback. It was really, scary? Frightening. It was like a nightmare happening right in front of him. He gripped the wheel tighter, eyes focused on the road.
“Oh, that reminds me.” Blue said, searching his pocket for something. He fished out a necklace with a black gem attached to it. “Put this on.”
Keith stretched out his hand, taking the necklace from Blue, their fingers slightly touching. He hated that he noticed that. After some thought, he ended up putting on the necklace.
“Does the gem mean anything or is it an apology present for destroying my ears earlier today?”
Blue kept his eyes trained on the gem around his neck, playing with the waistband of his sweatpants as he let out a loud scoff.
“You wish. The gem’s there to protect you from negative energy.”
Keith was pretty sure his face was coloured in a weird shade of red. It was such a simple act of affection he simply wasn’t expecting. That’s right. Nonetheless, he hoped Blue didn’t notice it.
“Thanks.” He said earnestly, which caused Blue to smile. It was such a small smile, unlike the shit-eating grins he wore earlier.
“Do you think it’ll rain?” Blue hummed, gazing out of the window. There were some black clouds gathered across the sky, and Blue’s voice was full of hope. Keith couldn’t help himself.
“Looks like it will.”
They settled in a comfortable silence, with Blue turned towards the window, and Keith focusing on the road. They spent a few minutes like that, before he heard Blue yawn.
“I’m kinda tired. And I can only fall asleep to music lately, so I hope you won’t mind if I put something on.“ Blue said, nodding towards the stereo. Keith glanced at him, who suddenly looked so small and tired, he couldn’t help but nod in response. Blue reached over to the radio and pressed play. As he was snuggling back into his jacket and preparing to fall asleep, Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda filled the car. Keith groaned his loudest groan of the night.
“You have to be kidding me.”
Blue just chuckled, murmuring a quiet ‘Drive safely’ before falling asleep. Keith glanced at him again, and felt his heart squeeze. If he ignored the disgrace of a song playing currently on the stereo, he felt serene.
When he was sure Blue was sleeping tightly, he changed the song to MCR’s I don’t love you, and smiled in victory when Blue just groaned, but didn’t move.