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honey never rots

Chapter Text

Keith and Lance had never…talked.

The two were on opposite sides on the spectrum in ways that they didn’t know about themselves. Lance was captain of every damn team you could think to say and tried his best to be president of every club he could wiggle himself into. He didn’t have a favorite season, because his wardrobe was amazing year round everyone liked it or not. He was the kind of popular that if anyone else wore some of the shit he’d bought, they’d be shunned for life and would never marry. Lance McClain was probably the only guy in school that everyone wouldn’t mind marrying.

Lance McClain was the kind of guy that chose to wear the crop top of the girls’ cheerleading team, the kind of guy to order one because none of the other girls would. He wore it under his football jersey with such ease that everyone thought it was meant to be joke. Lance McClain took it so far as to piercing his belly button for the hell of it. Boys “jokingly” flirted with him, pretending as if he wasn’t the best damn thing that ever walked the planet.

Keith was good at pretending that too.

Keith was also good at pretending as if Lance McClain going missing had zero effect on him whatsoever. He didn’t worry about it at first, at least not a lot. He remembers it was another shitty Tuesday where Lance was supposed to be glaring at him from his locker across the hallway long after the late bell rang and the halls became empty. Keith would awkwardly glare back from his spot next to his locker. They’d both look away and smile and acted as if the other never saw it before walking their separate ways. That was their relationship and they were never meant to be more than that, so to say Keith ignored his slight sadness on that first day in exchange of believing Lance was sick. That Lance had just missed a day of school. That’s what everyone had said.

The next day was a Wednesday that was arguably just as shitty.

In retrospect, Keith doesn’t remember a lot of this Wednesday on the third week of September. He doesn’t remember how gloomy the hallways looked that day or how un-funny everything seemed to feel. Or how red Lance’s mom’s eyes were, because she was too strong to cry in front of children, but weak enough to nearly collapse in the doorway when she knew no one had seen him. He doesn’t remember the way Lance’s sister, the black belt, the should-be model, the girl known to never cry or show her emotions in front of others, fought back tears as she asked him specifically at the end of that shitty third Wednesday in September, right next to Lance’s locker if he’d seen him. And then again under his tree on the outskirts of their mini-city.

It was quite the scene. If Keith remembers it.

But he doesn’t.

Without Lance, the town didn’t seem quite right. The football team never lost a game, and Keith (the skeptic that he was) could only blame in on the idea that Lance (or Lance's spirit or whatever the hell) was in the crowd somewhere or that maybe they started every away game with various pictures of Lance on the TV screens.

If he were honest, he was a bit jealous. He doesn’t think anyone would have really done that for him. Not because no one cared about him, he’s sure someone would look for him. Not because he was Keith Kogane, but because he also wasn’t Lance McClain.

Keith Kogane was the registered Goth of the school that they mostly used for projects involving any type of art at all as if he knew fucking anything about film or sculpture or crafting. He wasn’t a loner, just stuck to himself in a way that made people kind of avoid him. They’d include him in conversations and he’d give them a laugh or a smile, something to say that he was there. That he wanted to be there. And “they” was kind of always Lance McClain. He’d joked and smiled at Keith like he was his daily pleasure. Keith remembers the one day he passed by him in the hallway and told him he was too good for his eyelashes. Not to be nasty or mean, but just to joke around. Lance had passed him before he got to tell him he felt the same way about his. On another day, Keith told Lance life was far too boring to have shit eyelashes and Lance was too stunned to say anything. The shorter teen walks away, afraid his joke didn’t make it through before hearing Lance’s howling laughter from homeroom. Lance McClain was too good for the world. No one’s bones or skin or hair had been richer than Lance’s; no one’s had been richer than honey. But Lance’s was.

Keyword being was.

Was was was was was.

Was.

Keith Kogane can only think about how Lance was everything good in this shithole of a town as Lance (what was Lance) laid there under Keith’s tree in the middle of the woods. His body broken, just barely not in two and but enough to make his skull look concave. His blue eyes glassed over and what perhaps had been tears were now bloodied like the rest of his face. Magots crawled across Lance's skin and up his face while flies danced around him. It only reminded Keith of the ugly smell radiating off of him. The bone of Lance’s right arm splintered out of his flesh. His leg lay twisted an awful way and his insides spilled out of him as if they’d been staged. As if this is a horrible school play.

And Lance, as always, is the star of the show.

“Holy shit,” Keith whispers aloud. The wind whistles back holy shit is right but Lance is looking right at him. Or Lance’s eyes are staring right him, his mouth open what was probably surprise.

And then Lance’s eyes were not glassed over.

And they aren’t looking at Keith anymore.

“Holy fucking shit!”

Lance, the demon holy shit what the absolute fuck is that, twitches his—it’s—arm and yelps in agony. It groans and cringes at the snap crackle pop of Lance’s leg correcting itself. His head turns back to Keith and it looks almost as if his skull was never bashed in in the first place. Newly placed tear smear his own blood down his cheeks as he gasps like the wind was knocked out of him. He doesn’t even want to know what happened to his used-to-be spilled insides.

“Help,” he wheezes. “Please,” he asks again.

Keith realizes that everything he’s learned about the fight or flight response is complete bullshit.

“What the fuck?” he whisper yells. “Fuck. Fuck—fuck that. Why would I do that? So you can possess me instead? What, you gotta boyfriend that needs a body to possess too? McClain not enough for you?” Keith pulls out his pocketknife.

Lance sputters and gives an annoyed look. “Mullet,” he growls.

“Everyone knows he’s called me that before.”

Lance’s eyes tear up. The demon’s acting skills are on point. “Eyelashes.”

Keith skids down the hill, slipping on dead leaves surrounding them. “Shit, Lance!”

“Yeah! Shit, Lance!

The shorter teen helps Lance off the ground and does his best to not get any of his blood on his jacket. He let Lance use him as a crutch, knowing that he didn’t really need it because his entire body just rejuvenated itself right before his eyes.

“What the fuck happened to you?”

What the fuck happened to me? What the hell do you think happened to me? Some asshole tried to fucking take me out and failed.”

Keith’s eyes widen and he shakes his head. “No. No, he took you out. He took you the fuck out, Lance. You were dead, you were so dead.”

“But I’m here!”

Keith gasps in realization.

“What?” Lance whines.

“You’re someone’s boss battle.”

“What the f—”

“Just hear me out, okay?” Keith stutters out, still in disbelief. “Someone murdered you, they murdered you good, Lance. You were—you were—”

A pair eyes glare at Keith in denial, eyes as blue as the river. “I am alive. My heart is beating. I think.” Lance puts a hand over his chest and turns his head in confusion.

Keith ignores it. “Yeah, you were alive. Then you were dead. And now you are alive. It's like at the end of a game and you think you've won but you can't see that measly 0.5% on their health bar! How do you not remember dying?”

“Most people don’t remember things that haven’t happened, Mullet. The only thing I remember is walking home from school and waking up in this shitty spot.”

“Shitty spot? Of course, you could never understand the importance of scenery when it comes to—did you say you walked home?”

The taller teen scoffs and smirks. “Yeah, that’s what I said. I was walking home from school. The sun was just barely starting to set. But I bet, everyone’s been dying to see me.”

Keith doesn’t want to tell him that he’s been missing for two months or that his mother had a grey streak in her dark hair that she didn’t have before, or that there wasn’t a single lead as to where he could’ve gone. He doesn’t tell him how grey his skin was, or how it hadn’t rained in days and that the blood next to him was dry. So he doesn’t. “Uh, yeah everyone kind of misses you.” A pang of jealousy catches the words in Keith’s throat. “But you can’t see them.”

What?”

Keith looks him in his eyes with a glare that isn’t as playful as Lance had been used to. “You do realize that whoever did…that to you must still be around, right? I mean, they didn’t even bother to cover up your body. They’re expecting you to be found. Or their going to come back to watch you rot. Or they’re going to come back and fucking decimate your body again, Lance.”

“You watch too much TV, for all I know you could be my killer!” Lance jerks away like Keith’s eyes burned him. “For all I know you’re the reason for the dried blood on the ground! This is your tree, isn’t it? You know this area better than everyone else—mm!”

Keith run forward and put a hand over his mouth before whispering calmly into his ear. “Yes, which means I know that sound carries out here, pretty boy. And if I was your killer, why the hell would I allow you to still be standing after watching you resurrect yourself!”

Lance licks his hand out of spite. “I didn’t know you were so…”

“Smart?”

“Creepy. But it doesn’t matter. I’m going to find my family. They’re probably worried about me.”

He frowns. “Hardly,” Keith lies. He sees the Lance’s wince and swears to himself. “But, oh, yes. Perfect. Just spontaneously show back up to school and pretend like everything’s over. Your face has been plastered all over every billboard across the damn state. Lance, you’ll hit national news.”

“What’s so bad about that?”

“Have you never watched a crime show…like ever? There’re gonna publicize you. And that’s gonna make you easier for your killer to find.”

“So what the hell do you want me to do, Mullet? Never talk to anyone ever again?”

“That’s what I do! You’ll do just fine! Now if you’ll excuse me—”

“You’ve gotta help me.” Keith begins to speak again, an obvious NO on the tip of his tongue, but he’s interrupted again. “Let's assume that I was murdered and I somehow came back to life. I can't see my family. I can't see my friends. All I have is you or your shitty hair and your dumb eyelashes. Come on, you’ve got nothing better to do! It’s not like you can come back to this spot if my killer is going to come back. You’re dead meat if you do. And this is the only place you like to be.”

It’s true. This tree is the only thing peaceful place in town, the only place with the right lighting and the right lack of anyone fucking else where he could actually get work down. It’s place right past a steep hill. Close enough to see the beach but distant enough for no one to see him. His older brother took him to this spot before he left for overseas. He’s right but…

“How do you know that?”

“Just a gut feeling.”

There’s a silent pleading in Lance’s eyes. They are pulling in Keith and he knows it. The beach waves are quiet and droning against his ears. He keeps the dried blood in his peripheral vision because he’s too afraid to look at it head on. Lance’s not-so-glassed- over blue eyes are no better. He rolls his eyes and decides he has nothing better to do.

“I need you to help me solve my murder.”

Keith promptly laughs in his face. “You’re really annoying. I should kill you for real, right here!”

Lance’s smile is coy, but goofy. “So you’ll help me then?”

Keith shrugs in a poor attempt to seem indifferent. “Hell, you’re the least boring thing in this shithole.”

Keith throws his black leather jacket over Lance’s shoulders and throws a pair of shades over his eyes. “I know a place we can go.”

“The city?”

“No.” Keith gives what’s supposed to be a smile. “My house.”

Chapter Text

Hunk Garret was the gentlest of souls. One of the softest of bodies. The handsomest of faces. Football jock that was unnaturally good at mechanics and chemistry, tutored every kid on every block of New Varadero in every useless subject anyone could think of. He gave hugs to strangers and had a knack for getting insurance money out of assholes and tailgaters. He worked well under pressure despite how much lunch he vomits. He’s riddled with anxiety but if you threatened Lance’s football play, he’d destroy you without a second thought, but with three or four. Sure he knocked you down at the word but he at least made sure you were okay. His odd passion for people, cooking, and his amazing, magnificent, flowy black hair plus his family’s reputation put him as one of the friendliest kids in school. Perhaps even the deadliest to someone’s social life if he found out they were a piece of shit.

And he always found out if they were a piece of shit.

He works at his parents’ bakery across from Lance’s family’s makeshift food/surfing shop where Lance works. Where Lance worked.

Lance.

Hunk Garret remembers the first day like it was yesterday and dispels it from his mind like it never happened at all. He remembers the look of shock on Lance’s mother’s face when he asked where Lance had been. His brain won’t let him forget the grief lacing Mrs. McClain’s voice as she shouts to the upper levels of their business. He hates the way his shoulders shake at the memory of the second the oldest brother runs across the street to ask in a panicked voice, “What do you mean he wasn’t at school?”

He chooses to remember that one time Lance was in bed sick for a week back in their little league football games because Coach Sendak made them play in the rain. He remembers how he wouldn’t leave Lance’s side even if Lance had let him and how he was sick the week Lance went back to school. He thinks about how Lance tried to run away to the city and made it about as far as his bedroom window because his mother would kill him if he even thought of trying.

The first week following Lance’s disappearance admittedly felt like a fucking joke that Lance had taken way too far. Hunk replayed Lance’s wave to him as the sun set and the orange of the sky bounced off his football jacket, a reliable baseball bat hanging over his shoulder, and a smile stretching across his face. That’s the last time he’d seen Lance McClain.

And if it would be the last time he ever saw Lance, then he wouldn’t take the scene for granted.

And if they ever found Lance, or what was supposed to be Lance but wasn’t Lance and couldn’t be Lance anymore or ever again then he didn’t want to have anything to do with it or whatever lifelessness it would hold. It wouldn’t be someone he knew anyway. Even if he tears up at the thought.

“Hunk,” a voice whispers. It’s Katie Holt with her brother’s glasses hanging from the center of her t-shirt like they always do. He’s too afraid to look at her so she speaks again. Her voice has always been loud and jarring for him, even more so against the roar of the bustling lunchroom.

“Hunk, do you want to leave? You wanna go somewhere else?”

Katie rises to leave before he gets the chance to say a “no” or an “I’m fine.” The hallway is largely empty. They tread away from the sound of white noise and dirty shoes on a used-to-be-clean floor to Katie’s locker in a darker corner of the school. He can feel his lips quivering as he desperately tries fight back tears. “It just feels like everyone’s acting like he doesn’t exist anymore,” he grinds out.

“Hunk, you know that’s not true.”

“Yeah, I do, but it feels like it. Lance is popular; he’s had creeps around him before. And the police are useless, Pidge. Useless. You know they don’t really care about Lance and never have.”

It was true. From what Katie knew, it was true, hell—everyone knew it was true and they still looked towards the sheriff to help find their friend. The town had a terrible knack for giving the police the benefit of the doubt.

“I thought everyone liked Lance?”

Hunk scoffed. “Lance is just as good at making enemies as he is at making friends. Lance has—had—has—I don’t know, Katie—a brother that had a run-in with the cops. Lance doesn’t like to talk about it, and I don’t think he’d want me to either. Plus, everyone knows the sheriff’s son is a stalker. I mean, except you.”

Katie Holt is the garden fresh, rosy cheeked, and hip resident of the inner-outskirts of New Varadero. The first day her and Hunk met a senior had been eyeing her and before Hunk got the chance to defend her, she’d already Kill Bill’d him down the hallway. Hunk swears he heard the sirens. She immediately told him that the New England city life was causing too much strain on her father for one reason or the other and so her mother decided to move them to the edge of the county, away from the beach but also the city lights, so that they could have a wine farm but they somehow got stuck with tomatoes. Katie’s parents were from Italy so they couldn’t be happier.

In a weird way, Hunk found Katie’s newfound farming hobby compared with her intellect and her endearing way of destroying teenager predators adorable. When he voiced his thoughts aloud, he’d nearly ended up the same as that senior boy and they’d been friends ever since.

Katie Holt is not a piece of shit.

“Yeah, except me.”

Hunk heaves a heavy sigh and his eyes turn weary. “I just—I think the people are starting to give up, ya know? Like people are coming up with absolute bullshit theories like Lance running away and—”

“But, you don’t think there’s a possibility Lance could have run away or—”

His anger flares and disgusts bubbles in the put of his stomach. His burly fists clench without his permission. “No way in hell! He’s too afraid of his mother to do something that dumb. Lance is smart. Too smart. Smarter than what people give him credit for and the fact that the cops are trying to sweep it under the rug.”

Katie nervously pats Hunk’s shoulder and feels him relax under her awkward touch. “I’m sorry, Hunk.”

“I’m sorry, too. I just…miss him a lot.”

She knows the feeling better than she’d like to admit. “I know.”

“I wanna go to the arcade.”

Katie Holt smiles and puts her glasses on, the gleam of the hallway lights making her look more intimidating than she needed to be. She runs down the hallway. “Grab Shay, get your skateboard, and come on then!”


 

“Keith?”

“Yeah?”

“Where the fuck are we?”

Keith 100% thought that the car ride from Cliffside would be quiet and awkward. He didn’t know how to talk to someone who came back to life right before his eyes. He didn’t know how to talk to Lance when he was alive the first time and he sure as hell didn’t know how to talk to him now. Lance’s mouth is moving but he feels like nothing of substance is coming out. He tries not to think about how distant his voice gets with every passing MISSING poster. Keith steals a glance at Lance’s bloodied and torn shirt and tries not to think about the lack of a scar there. And in the back of his mind, it feels like he's taking the situation harder than Lance.

“The leaves have fallen off the trees already, huh.” The voice is somber, tired, and almost-distraught in a way that doesn’t fit Lance’s body. “I’ve been gone for awhile, haven’t I?

Keith almost growls but settles for a glare instead. “We aren’t that far out from New Varadero, we’re still in the county, and we’re almost there so shut up, Zombie Boy.”

“Zombie Boy, huh? Cute. Almost clever.”

“Lance.”

“So what’s your new pet name then?”

“Lance,” he says, voice laced in warning.

The passenger leans in close to Keith’s face and he can feel Lance’s uncomfortably cool skin radiating next to his face. “Pouty lips?”

The car skids off the road just enough for Lance stop his teasing and Keith blames his racing heart their near-accident.

“Whoa, watch the road, Mullet!”

“Mullet is just fine, but I’d much rather have you call me by my name.”

“You didn’t tell me I was gone through the summer, Keith.”

His foot nearly smashed the break at the sudden change of tone. One side of his brain told him he needed to reveal everything later and the other screamed at him to rip the bandage off because that’s what he was good at. Keith focuses his eyes on the abnormally quiet road.

“What month is it?”

He wanted to keep a secret in hopes that it’d hurt less. “November,” the driver replies quietly.

I’ve been dead for two months?

The other teen actually does slam on the breaks this time, watching as Lance’s body jerks from behind the seatbelt.

“You’ve finally accepting you’re dead?” Keith asks without a glance his way making sure he sounded like he raised his eyebrow.

There. Consider the Band-Aid ripped.

Lance sucks in a breath through his teeth. He clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “Well, I’m not gonna say dead. Just a… really bad How to Get Away with Murder plot hole, ya know?”

The joke is in poor taste so Keith crumples up his laugh like paper and throws it out the window. “I mean…you couldn’t have been that long or you’d’ve been a skeleton or something. So…not dead.”

“Well I’m not either if you haven’t noticed.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s fair."

The car pulls off the side of the road and the calming feeling of the tires against the paved road makes Lance looks out to the fall ruby trees falling in the wind. Lance’s leg shakes in his seat and he steals glance after glance of the boy driving. His eyes fall on his hair and the way it waves under what little wind was allowed into the car. He relishes in the way leaves push up against the windshield and the highlight of the lights against the road. He squints angrily at the car behind them with their brights on, but says nothing. Lance realizes the sun had set hours ago and that this drive was long.

“You house is all the way out here? We’ve been driving for hours!”

“No we haven’t. You just missed Daylight, Zombie Boy. It’s dark by like 5:00 o’clock now. Relax. About fifteen minutes. Of silence preferably. Can you give me that?”

“Yeah, whatever, just make sure this truck gets in front of you. They’ve been behind us for like hours.

“We haven’t been driving for more than twenty minutes, and for God’s sake Lance there isn’t anyone trailing us.”

“What the hell do you mean no one’s trailing us? That’s a pretty nice Honda Civic trying to ride your ass!”

Keith stops the car again and pulls over on the side of the road. He turns his head back. “Oh!” Keith says.

The taller teen smirks in victory and begins to turn his head. “Hah! See! I told you, Mull—”

He undid his seatbelt and slowed turned his front towards the back of the car. There were no headlights. No Honda Civic. No nothing. The road was abnormally empty and as much as he wanted to believe Keith Kogane, New Varadero’s own registered Goth that Lance is finding out is nice but kind of creepy if not paranoid, had something to do with it—he knew that he couldn’t have.

“There’s no Honda Civic riding my ass, Zombie Boy.”

Lance’s anxiety flares, but he mutters an “okay” and a “sorry”. He ignores Kogane’s kind of worried side-glances and is quiet for the rest of the ride.

Until they pull up to what Lance was call a mansion.

He takes in the almost Southern architecture, the white are those pillars and the silhouettes moving in and out of the windows. If Lance were being true to himself, it wasn’t a mansion but it did have the potential to be one.

“Don’t drool on yourself, McClain. It’s a house.”

“Yeah a beautiful one.”

Keith rolls his eyes and puts the car in park. “Come on, and keep your head and voice down. I do have neighbors. And people live here so do not make noise. Do not wander. Do not speak louder than I am right now,” he whispers.

Blue eyes can only stare at the land. Lance gives a distant “uh huh” and ignores Keith’s (shaky?) hand on his wrist pulling him inside the house.

Lance draws in a deep breath. “Woah—”

“What did I say?” Keith whisper yells.

The taller boy hunches his shoulders and tries again, quieter this time. “Woah…what do you parents do—”

“Lance, it’s an ordinary—just go up the stairs and skip the third one from the top; it creaks.”

The zombie-demon-supernatural whatever teen tip-toed quietly up the stairs, making sure to skip the third one from the top just as he said. He turns around with his mouth agape when he hears Keith’s stairs creak.

He makes sure to whisper yell. “I thought you said—”

“I live here; I can make the stairs creak if I want to!”

Lance mouths “ohhh” and stands at the top of the stairs. Keith gets in front of him and waves a hand over his head, signaling that they were moving in. Lance makes sure to remember that Keith’s door was the second on the left.

Keith sighs. “This is where you’ll be staying until we figure something out.”

The door opens and it’s exactly as Lance had imagined his room to be, not that he imagined or dreamed of what his room would look like or anything because that’d make him the creep.

The room was a midnight blue that Lance would probably appreciate more in the daylight. Art pieces, originals based on the repeated style, hanging on the wall. A mass collection of CDs is that MCR standing on a nightstand near the bed and what looked like a Spiderman blanket hanging off the bed. His laptop sat on a desk, covered in what was probably bumper stickers and a black leather chair with wrinkles and tears due to age. It felt like a home.

And part of Lance hated that.

“I always eat dinner up here and I almost never finish it. We eat out a lot so I can always bring you something. There’s a mini-fridge next to the closet that I can restock and—”

“I never thanked you.”

Keith’s caught off guard but he hopes Lance didn’t see his mouth fall open and surprise. He recovers with a coy smile. “You don’t have to. Anyone would have offered you into their home.”

“No, not anyone would.”

“Hunk would.”

“Hunk isn’t just anyone,” Lance says, his tone screaming offense. “I can’t believe you would even allude that Hunk, my precious linebacker slash best friend is just anyone.”

Keith looks away and pretends that pang of jealousy sitting neatly in his chest isn’t there. “His misses you. He’s good at not crying…most of the time.”

“Oh.”

“You don’t have to thank me.”

Lance chuckles lightly. “And I won’t.”

A growl bubbles in Keith’s throat. “Ungrateful.”

The jock laughs chest first, smile radiant in the cold moonlight. “I’ll thank you when you solve my murder since you’re keeping me from everyone I know and love.”

The Goth winces and looks away guiltily. “Your family doesn’t hate you. I don’t know why I said that.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why either, but I’m assuming it’s to keep me in your evil, Goth clutches.”

Keith tries to laugh. “I think emo would best describe me. But yeah, something like that, I guess.”

“You’re a creep.”

“No, I’m joking,” Keith explains indignantly. “I just…knew you’d try and go back to them, because if I was in your position I’d want to go back to my family too.”

“Speaking of your family…”

Four quiet but somehow harsh knocks resound on Keith’s door. The two freeze and Keith waves his hands at Lance in an “you need to hide!” kind of way. The taller boy manages to squeeze himself under the bed.

“Keith? Do you have someone in there with you?”

God, he’s such a bad liar and everyone in the house know it. The walls of Keith’s room know it and his sister knows it too. “No, Allura!”

“Allura!” Lance whisper shouts for under the bed.

“Well, Coran said he’s coming home late! What kinda pizza do you want?” she shouts through the door.

“Coran!” Lance whisper yells louder this time.

Lance swears Keith’s voice rises in pitch. “Combination meats is fine!”

The door slowly slides open and Keith rushes to sit on the bed.

“Ugh, Keith you always get—why are you sitting like that?”

Keith pretends as if his legs aren’t crossed and his fingers aren’t interlaced on top of them. He smiles and Allura ignores his screaming eyes. “Sitting like what?”

Allura, fully enters the room and the smell of her shampoo follows her. “Sitting not-like Keith Kogane.”

“I’m trying something new?”

Allura King is a domineering person with a dominating personality and her standing over a lying Keith Kogane is perhaps the worst thing Lance has ever felt in his life. Especially now that he’s hiding under a bed in her house is currently trying to keep himself from hyperventilating while wishing he’d sink into the carpet.

He wonders how Keith is handling it.

“You’re oddly nervous,” she observes. “And no annoying back talk or banter with me today? That’s odd.”

Lance McClain now knows the Allura King is too much like her father and interrogates every person no matter the connection. He feels a pang of jealousy but he doesn’t know whom it’s toward. Meanwhile, Keith’s anxiety is sweating off the bed.

“But whatever, you’ll tell me when you’re ready.”

“I’ll tell you when I’m ready, yeah.”

“Have you gotten any word from Shiro?”

Lance is feeling increasingly awkward and is one Allura King footstep away from absolutely dying.

Well, if he could.

There’s a somber silence that Lance wishes he could break.

“No, he hasn’t called back yet. You?” She lets out tired sigh and it’s enough to end the conversation. Keith settles for a change of topic. “Shit, isn’t Nyma supposed to be coming over?”

The doorbell rings.

“Fuck,” Allura whispers as she practically runs out the room and jumps down the stairs.

“You still have you green face thingy on!”

“FUCK!” she yells. Keith laughs at her panting breaths and her heavy footsteps back up the stairs. The doorbell rings again and she can only repeat the word over and over as she nearly scrubs her face off.

The teen rises from the bed and shuts the door at the sound of Allura attempting to flirt. “I think you’re safe now, Zombie Boy.”

Lance, stunned and helpless under the bed, rises robotically. He wipes a band of sweat from his forehead. “Ya know, I think next time I’ll hide in the closet but I wouldn’t be able to hear Allura King curse as well. Is she…always like that? I mean she wears facemasks and she curses? She has friends over? What kind of movies does she like? I feel like she’d be into horror or something gruesome. Or maybe she likes RomComs? I feel like she hates RomComs, like she’s too good for RomComs. Too good for those half-way decent white men that are kinda racist but are okay since they like poetry—”

“Lance!”

“Okay, I get it. Too much. I just…I’ve wanted to be friends with her since forever! And now I’m going to be living in the same house as her? This is a great opportunity!”

Keith laughs in his face. “No the hell it’s not. You’re not allowed to go anywhere near her room or her ever! She knocks before she enters so there’s no reason for her to find you and I’ll be bringing you everything you need.”

“We don’t wear the same size clothes, Mullet.”

“I’ll go to the store or something. I have some shirts that might fit you.”

Lance leans his head back and groans. “Aw, come on. What can I do?”

“Stare out the window until we figure something out. No friends, no family, and no social media.”

“What?” he almost yells.

“Shhhh.”

The jock hunches his shoulders up again. “What?” he whispers indignantly.

“You’re missing, Lance. And supposed to be dead.”

His face goes through several expressions as he opens and closes his mouth in frustration and lack of words.

“God, I thought you’d never shut up.” Keith sighs as Lance plops himself down on the bed in exasperation. “It’s going to be hard, but we really do need to figure out a plan as to how to get your normal life back without that asshole trying to murder you again. And the police is definitely out of the question.”

Lance waves his hand to dispel the accusation. “Man, fuck the police!”

“Okay, we’re not doing that, Lance,” Keith swallows.

“Right. Sorry. But they’ve been trying to cover up Mr. King’s murder—”

“And your disappearance.”

Lance McClain sits on his bed and Keith can’t help but think about how Lance McClain is sitting on his bed. His comfy bed. No one else’s. How many people have dreamed about this?

Based on “locker room talk” and Allura’s slumber parties, a disgusting amount.

Lance McClain is sitting on his bed with his legs crossed in the same way he had his. “Of course they covered my disappearance up. I swear ever since Zarkon became sheriff, he’s been riding my dick.”

“Please never say Zarkon’s riding your dick ever again.”

Lance cringes and gags before looking at Keith with grateful eyes. “But I mean it! He’s always hauling me, asking me about recent crimes and shit! Pisses me off!”

“He’s…basically trying to get your family to give up or quiet down or something. Pressuring them to.”

Lance’s breath hitches and he can feel his chest getting tight and his eyes starting to water.

“But they won’t.”

And that’s all Lance had to hear.

They spend the rest of the night quietly whispering stupid jokes and dumb tumblr posts to each other. They choose to not talk about how his family’s been looking for him everyday or how their shop is closed half of the time. Coran comes home with semi-cold meats pizza and quizzical looks. They spend hours arguing all of the other toppings Keith could have picked. Keith ignores how every time Lance looks toward the window he gets quiet, excuses it as missing the outside world.

And Lance ignores the blinding headlights of the Honda Civic shining through the window.