'Well,' Keith said, and when he did everyone stopped and turned and paid attention. It was the first thing he'd said since he'd been thrown into the cell nearly three…well, they were calling it days but, really, it could have been weeks or hours for all Lance knew. There was no real time, here in the cells, where the only light was the ever-flickering torches outside the tiny barred window set into the door. The guards called out the dormant periods at irregular hours -- usually whenever they wanted to bugger off and do whatever it was Doomies did when they weren't killing or invading planets -- because it guaranteed that the prisoners would be quiet and still and not cause any trouble. Slaves in the cells were given personal demonstrations about what happened to those who were active when they were supposed to be asleep; nobody ever needed to be shown twice. There was no sun, down here, no moon or wind or -- and this was the worst part of being on Doom and being down here -- stars. The cells were dark, damp and smelled of blood and piss and worse things. Lance had lived long enough, mostly on the streets of Crystal City, to know what death smelled like, and this was somehow worse.
The point was, the new guy said something and since the only other thing to do down here was count the number of bricks in the wall (1,576), or think about life outside the four damp walls, or go crazy, it was easy enough to pay attention to the new guy. Especially now that it seemed like he had some life in him and wasn't a drone who was brain-fragged from bad powder, like Lance had pegged him that first day, when he'd been thrown into the cell and just lay there with dead eyes. He just blinked a couple of times when Hunk had tried to talk to him, and didn't flinch when Hunk pulled him upright, or leaned in when Lance whispered soft, comforting words. And then he just sat there, staring at nothing. Even Lance gave up around day two, and Lance was a stubborn bastard; he'd managed to get Sven to talk, after all, and Sven was notoriously close-lipped.
But that was apparently all Keith was going to say. So Lance went back to watching Hunk draw obscene things in the algae on the walls. Lance liked Hunk. He was big and he didn't mind listening to Lance talk -- unlike Sven, who was kind of scary and probably did kill that poor sod just like they'd said -- and he hadn't forgotten what sunshine felt like. So far as Lance could tell, Hunk was just a guy who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time; kind of like him. Except, of course, for the fact that Hunk actually was an innocent, while Lance was an idiot who'd taken his salvage ship into the Neutral Zone. It wasn't the brightest thing he could have done, but did it really warrant capture, interrogation and imprisonment by the damn Doomies? Lance didn't think so.
'Well,' Keith said again, and then, 'so.' He paused for a moment and then said, 'Well' yet again.
'Just spit it out, already,' Sven growled and Keith jerked, slightly, and blinked.
'Sorry?' Keith said, honestly surprised. He looked like he hadn't even realized that he'd spoken.
'Whatever it is that you're trying to say, just say it.' Sven stood up, pushing himself off of the wall, and glared at Keith. 'I'm not going to spend the rest of my life stuck here listening to you hem and haw and mumble. So, speak or shut up. Because if you keep, “welling”, I'm going to hurt you.'
It was the calm, matter-of-fact way that Sven said this that was really frightening. Because he would hurt a man for something as insignificant as thinking out loud.
'Sorry. I just.' Keith looked around, and Lance realized he was still in the denial phase. He must have just been taken. A month, maybe less, probably hadn't spent a lot of time in the mines, sucking in the foul air until he choked. He still had hope of a rescue. 'I don't think I belong here.'
Hunk laughed at that, the slow, menacing laugh that used to get him extra food rations before he was put in the cell. Sven took his cue and loomed over Keith, eyes painfully sane. Lance knew him well enough to know that he was enjoying himself; he hadn't really needed a lot of encouragement to be intimidating. 'And you think the rest of us do?'
'No! No. It's just. I'm a citizen of Earth. I know my rights. They can't do this to me.'
Hunk laughed again, but this time it was calmer, softer, less hostile. He sighed and Sven backed down. 'Yeah. Me too.' Hunk shrugged and turned back to the wall. 'Welcome to Doom. If you're lucky, you'll die quick. If you're not. . . ' Hunk glanced over at Sven and raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. 'Well. So far, none of us have been very lucky.'
Keith shuddered at that, obviously thinking about what Hunk had said, and Lance took another look at the new guy, mostly out of boredom. He'd already memorized the curve of Keith's cheek, the way his hair still had the bones of deliberate style and not just the shag of a homemade haircut. He'd known Keith was pretty, still plump from a life of three meals a day and no forced labor; he looked too soft and kind to last long in the mines. But now there was intelligence in Keith's eyes, with the denial fading, the same sort of intelligence that Lance had seen in schemers and plotters Outside. Charisma and insanity and that cold-blooded pragmatism that was the mark of a good leader stared back at Lance from the depths of Keith's black-hole eyes.
Lance watched painful acceptance bloom and he wanted to do a happy dance because denial killed faster than a cave-in and Keith was suddenly too interesting to die so soon. But it had been so long since he'd actually been happy -- truly happy and not just a little less uncaring than normal -- that he didn't remember quite how to do it. Besides, all that the loss of denial meant was that you'd have to accept the truth of your life now. And Lance wouldn't wish this life on anybody, not even Bobby McCrane, who'd been bigger and stronger and meaner than all the other street kids, which meant that he was the leader of the most powerful Pack back on Ganymede. Lance had always been scrawny and nice, which didn't lead to an easy childhood on the streets.
He had always been too nice. He'd always cared just a little too much.
He really shouldn't have wondered what it would be like to be Keith's friend.
'Ignore them. They've been here too long. I'm Lance. That's Hunk and Sven.'
Hunk waved. Sven rolled his eyes and went back to his wall. He sat down and tucked his head into his chest. Lance sat down next to Keith and smiled his best smile, because this was prison, after all, and everybody knew that it was okay to sleep with other guys in prison -- hell, it was practically expected. Although, even if they'd been somewhere that wasn't here, Lance was pretty sure that he would have smiled at Keith anyway, because Keith was really quite attractive. And he was pretty sure that he could have run faster than Keith, so there was no chance of a black-eye if Keith hadn't been as amenable to his proposition as Lance thought. 'What's your name?'
'Keith. Keith Nakamura.' Keith smiled back, tentatively, and relaxed a little. He rubbed the tip of his nose and licked his lips. One hand idly scratched the inside of his wrist; the raw slave brand was just visible beneath the frayed edge of his shirt cuff.
'Keith.' Lance rolled the name in his mouth and decided that it felt nice. He wondered if what they said about Earth boys was true. He wondered if Keith would be the quiet type in bed, his eyes like bottomless abysses that sucked in sound and light and his partner in glorious, dark perfection.
'How long have you been here?'
Lance shrugged. 'Dunno. Time loses meaning after a while. Long enough, anyway.' He leaned back onto the heels of his hands and watched Keith out of the corner of his eye. 'Still. Beats the work detail. No chains, no whips. It's not the Plaza, but there's worse places t'be.'
'So. How'd a nice boy,' Lance put arm behind Keith and moved the grin up a notch from friendly to flirting, 'like you get thrown in here anyway?'
'I was just doing the post-graduation backpack thing. Have one last fling before I had to go and be a real person?' Keith looked up and then away and smiled a little. 'Anyway, I went to bed in a hostel and when I woke up.' Keith let it end at that and scratched his wrist again; Lance wanted to tell him to stop before he made himself bleed. But he didn't because he kind of liked seeing the little flashes of Keith's skin. There was something. . . forbidden about it, something voyeuristically erotic. The soft whiteness of Keith's flesh was a secret thing, a special thing that they could share that was just theirs and no one else's.
Or maybe Lance had been on Doom longer than he'd thought.
'So you're from Earth and a college boy too, huh? Y'know, normally I'd be giving you crap about that, but' Lance glanced at the door to their cell. He could just see the guard standing outside. 'To the Doomies we're all just warmbloods. Silver spooners and Scavengers bleed the same.'
'I've never met a Scavanger before,' Keith mumbled. He moved almost imperceptibly closer to Lance, let his arm cross behind Lance's. 'At least, not one who'd admit they were.'
'Yeah, well, I'm just a rat from Ganymede. I can't dress myself up as anything else. Anyway it's kind of appropriate. I was piloting a salvage ship when I got nicked.' Lance jerked his head over at Sven, who'd gone to sleep in his corner of the wall. 'Sven there, he actually came to Doom on purpose. Wanted to take pictures. Hunk, well.' Lance raised his voice a little, letting it carry over to where Hunk sat. 'The good Doc was on vacation.'
'You're really a doctor?' Keith turned toward Hunk, who rolled his eyes and gave him a good-natured grin.
'Nah. I'm a mechanic. I heard about some sort of new-fangled ship on Arus and I wanted to see it.' Hunk leaned back from his drawing. 'What d'you think? The breasts big enough?'
It was really quite cute.
'So. Sven's a photographer?' Keith seemed to rally around this bit of information, as if it could save him from staring at Hunk's drawing in embarrassed fascination. 'Where's he from? Earth?' His voice broke, slightly, and Lance felt Keith begin to tremble as the truth of the rest of his life really began to sink in. Keith couldn't ignore what had happened anymore, not now in the quiet, dark, stillness of the cell, where Earth was even more of a dream than out in the mines. In the mines, at least, the mind was too tired to think about never going home.
'Dunno. You don't ask Sven questions. Not if you know what's good for your health.' Lance leaned into Keith a little more and was rewarded with Keith pushing ever so slightly back. Lance took it as a sign of encouragement. 'Listen,' he said, low and kindly. 'We've all been through this. It's tough. So, if you want to cry. Or, whatever. I'm here.'
'Thanks.' Keith sniffed, turned in slightly until his forehead was almost touching Lance's. He let Lance tighten his embrace, snaked his own hand around until it touched Lance's hip. 'This isn't so bad,' Keith mumbled, mostly to himself. 'I think. I think that if I had this then maybe life here wouldn't be so bad?'
Lance wanted to say something. He really did. He wanted to be witty and charming -- or, barring that, to say something that wasn't completely crazy sounding. But all he could think about was the fact that he was actually going to get laid. Fortunately, he was saved from having to reroute his blood back to his brain by the guard, who hit the door with his spear and growled something in heavily accented Common. Lance pulled Keith down to the floor, rolled close enough that his breath just danced across Keith's face.
'Lance?' Keith tensed, slightly, and his voice was too loud.
'Shh. It's the dormant period. If we're lying down, the guards won't punish us for talking. But keep it down.' Lance pulled Keith closer and shivered at the flush of heat that ran through his body.
'Okay.' Keith ducked his head just slightly and it fit perfectly into the little crook of Lance's arm.
'What're you in for?' Lance whispered.
'Yeah. This is where the Doomies throw the 'undesirables', the guys that disrupt the work but don't do anything bad enough that they should be killed. Doomies don't kill humans casually; if we all died then they'd have to go to the mines. So. What made you undesirable?'
'Oh. Uh. I, uh, I wouldn't.' Lance could feel the heat of Keith's blush against his skin. 'I wouldn't. With a guard.' Keith took a couple of deep breaths and Lance waited for him to compose himself. 'So. What're you in here for?'
'I tried to escape. There're old caves and tunnels everywhere and I thought I could get into one without being noticed. Hunk pretty much went crazy. Right Hunk?' Lance raised his voice just enough for Hunk to hear. 'You're completely mad.'
'Yup,' Hunk said. 'Madder'n a bull with a piece of horseradish shoved up the unmentionable.'
He eyed the door and then picked slime out from underneath his fingernails. He winked at Lance, and his wink had all of the overtone of a knowing leer, a jab in the ribs and the 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more eh?' skit. He turned away with more noise than was truly necessary. Lance grinned.
'Sven killed another prisoner.' Lance continued, voice sinking lower and lower, pulling Keith in closer. He wormed a hand under Keith's shirt as he talked, wanting to feel the soft warmth of Keith's skin. He kissed the side of Keith's head and stroked the tangles out of Keith's hair. And then he moved his mouth lower, caressed Keith's lips with his. 'So you wouldn't with a guard. Would you with me?'
Keith moaned, a little, and bit his lip. Lance took that as a yes to keep doing what he was doing.
'Won't they mind?' Keith whispered -- panted -- a little bit later.
'Does it matter?' Lance said.
The guards came for Keith the next day and Lance didn't see him again for a while. The guards fed them three times between Keith's leaving and his return, but that didn't mean anything. The guards weren't exactly regular when it came to meals.
When Keith was first taken, struggling feebly in the grip of two hulking Doomies, Lance thought that it was because they were going to make Keith an example for the other poor sods. Or maybe he was being sent back to the mines, since he wasn't a brain-fragged drone but a healthy, able body. Most likely, though, the guards had seen him and Keith getting too friendly and they'd moved Keith into another cell. The guards didn't mind if prisoners talked; but getting pelvic meant they were getting too comfortable, finding some escape from the endless boredom of staring at the same four walls with the same three people, day after day after day.
Still, Lance didn't mope, exactly, because he'd only really known Keith for a night -- biblically and literally -- but he did think about Keith. He thought about Keith a lot, partially because he had liked Keith, but mostly because there wasn't anything else to do. And he'd talked about Keith -- about what he'd done with Keith -- with Hunk and Sven, because sometimes having a bit of a communal toss was the only way to forget about the hunger. But he told them about other things too, about what Keith had said about himself, because it was something new to discuss. So it wasn't moping exactly, and it wasn't like he was obsessed with Keith or anything. It was just that Keith had been the most exciting -- good-exciting, that is, he'd had plenty of bad-exciting things happen -- thing to happen to Lance since he'd been taken to this planet. So Keith was on his mind a lot.
He didn't miss Keith, not in the traditional sense. But when Keith came back Lance wasn't unhappy to see him.
Only, this time, when the guards shoved a rumpled, bleeding Keith into the cell a kid with a bloody nose and a blackening eye followed him. The kid glared balefully about until the guards shut the door and then he began to laugh, high and wild.
Oh great, Lance thought. Another nutter. And then he started to get a bit jealous because Keith was laughing with this kid and slinging his arm around the boy's shoulders in a sort of manly half-hug. Which was stupid, because they were obviously friends. They had to be, because they looked like they were in a fight and the Doomies never put rivals in the same cell.
'You're back,' Lance said, and he moved slightly closer to Keith than might have been considered appropriate.
'Yeah.' Keith took a step back and pulled the kid forward. 'This is Pidge. He's going to help us get out of here.'
''lo,' Pidge said and he smiled like a little kid.
'This kid is going to get us out?' Sven snorted and narrowed his eyes. 'You're crazier than I am. There is no out. There's only death.'
'Not true. There're tunnels that even the Lizards don't know about. Tunnels that go everywhere -- 'cept for parts of the new palace -- an' I know 'em better than any of the other Tunnelers. 'S how I avoided being captured for so long.' Pidge stared defiantly at the other men and Lance was reminded of those little mongrels he'd seen on the street back in his youth; tiny lap dogs that had run away and would take on Dobermans and Boarhounds with the mad certainty that they were going to win -- largely because they had the same amount of fight as the bigger dogs, it was just condensed into a smaller package.
''Tunnelers'?' Sven snorted. 'Why are you bringing us myths, Keith? The only humans on Doom are the slaves.'
'They aren't a myth. There really are humans that were born on Doom.' Keith clapped Pidge on the back. 'Guys like Pidge here. Humans that are free.'
'Well, not free as such,' Pidge said. 'Not in your, y'know, technical sense. Don't think you can rightly call anything 'round here free. We're just humans who don't have collars, humans that got away.' He didn't exactly lean forward, but he bounced up onto his toes and his eyes sparkled. 'Hey, hey. Is it true? About the sky being blue?'
Sven rolled his eyes. 'Great. We're going to be led to freedom by a kid who got caught. Pardon me if I don't sound particularly enthusiastic about our prospects. And anyway, even if we do get out how are we going to get off this rock?'
'We're going to take one of their ships.' Keith pulled something from his waistband, a small piece of paper that had molded itself to the curve of his body. 'A contact gave me access codes and the patrol's time-table.'
'A contact?' Sven didn't quite laugh, but it was near enough to cause Keith to bristle. 'What are you? Some sort of secret agent man?'
'Yes. I am.' Keith straightened up, and some of the innocence that had surrounded him fell away. 'The G.G sent me here to get you out, Sven. They want to know what you've learned about the Doomies. I wasn't in that hostel by accident. Although, I have to admit, I was ready to give up looking for you when the guards put me in here.' Keith smiled a bit wryly. 'I still didn't believe that you were the one I was looking for. I had to ask around first. Still,' Keith clapped his hands together in a businesslike manner, 'better late than never, right? We'll escape during the dormant period.'
It sounded too good to be true, so it probably was. Keith was probably delusional, been hit on the head with something and gone sick in the brain. It happened often enough, down here. The kid was most likely a Doomie plant, because nobody who had grown up here could look that innocent, could still have eyes that sparkled with childish delight. He didn't doubt that the kid could get them out of here, but he was sure that if they followed they'd end up somewhere worse. Zarkon's throne room, for example. Or the Pit of Skulls. The cell might be small and dank and they might not get fed all that often, but like he'd told Keith there were places that made this cell look like an all-expenses paid trip to Sin City.
Lance looked at Hunk and Sven, ready to share an eye roll at the naivety of the kid, thinking he could fool them with this obvious trick, and almost had to do a double take. Because while Hunk looked, well, confused and skeptical, Sven. Sven's eyes were burning with fierce hope, a quiet, desperate belief that he was going to go home. He looked like a man who'd been lost in the wood and had just been found. There might have even been tears shining in the corners of his eyes. It was a frightening reaction from a man who had killed with his bare-hands without flinching, who had communicated mostly through grunts and growled threats of violence. Lance might have been able to blow Keith off as delusional but not Sven. He knew Sven -- or at least, he thought he did. He wouldn't have pegged Sven as a Garrison spy, not with his violent tendencies and cavalier attitude towards the Alliance.
He wanted to confront Sven -- carefully, of course -- wanted to ask him why he lied. But even as he felt the anger -- the betrayal -- he understood. If he were a Garrison spy he wouldn't let anybody know that either. There were Doom plants everywhere.
Which brought him back to the kid and this too perfect escape plan. He wanted out just as much as the others, but there was out and then there was death.
As the only person who'd actually had a conversation with Keith, it fell to him to explain the perils of following this Doom spy to a fate decidedly worse than death.
'Keith--' Lance began and then stopped with Keith shot him a look, and if looks could kill Keith would have been facing twenty-five to life with no possibility of parole.
Lance could take a blatant suggestion as well as the next bloke, so he shied away from Keith and sat down in the farthest corner. He stared at the wall and thought about how much he missed the streets of Crystal City. At least if he was hungry there he'd only had to put on his best 'Oliver Twist' face and he could count on a couple of pennies from the nobs who went slumming; a couple of pennies could buy a lot of food for an industrious -- and above all undiscriminating -- lad.
Hunk ambled over and squatted down next to him. 'So,' he began.
'Shove it,' Lance said.
'I was just--'
'You were just being a nosey parker, that's what you were doing.' Lance pushed his hair out of his eyes. It was longer than he liked, but there wasn't much that he could do about it now. 'It was just a night, Hunk. It didn't mean anything. I don't need to talk about it, so you can take your advice and sod off.'
Hunk shrugged and launched into a discussion about sports. They'd had this one before -- many times before -- so Lance could say his lines without really thinking about what he said. He thought, instead about that night and about Keith and mostly about how stupid and daft he was being, because he was stupid. He was beyond stupid. He was mooning over a boy with whom he'd had just one night of semi-carnality. That they'd felt each other up didn't mean anything, here. Especially since Lance couldn't even offer Keith protection from guys who were bigger and meaner and knew how to take. Lance had never really learned how to take, only how to ask. So it was really a non-issue because nothing could have come from it and anyway Lance had been pretty sure that he'd never see Keith again.
But that didn't mean that it didn't hurt when Keith avoided his eyes and did his best to stay as far away from Lance as the little cell would allow.
The escape -- because, as it turned out, Pidge wasn't a plant leading them all to their certain painful torture -- was surprisingly easy. Pidge really did know his way around the tunnels beneath Doom, and apparently one of them began in their cell. The kid had pushed one brick and a whole section had swung silently inward, bringing with it a breath of musty air. Lance was sure that he'd pushed that brick before, because one of the things that they all had done when they'd first been thrown into the cell was check for secret passages, but he apparently hadn't done it the right way because no door had ever opened up for him.
But there was an escape route and Keith's contact hadn't been kidding around with the timetable and there had, in fact, been a spacecraft waiting for them. Lance had taken the helm because he was the most experienced pilot of the lot and despite what some people said it was not his fault that they crashed on Arus. It couldn't possibly have been his fault because there had been a bleedin' fleet between their craft -- which, incidentally had been completely and totally lacking in the arms department -- and Earth, and Arus had been the closet planet that could support humanoid life that wasn't occupied by Doom troops and so it wasn't his fault. It just wasn't.
Keith, apparently, didn't care about such insignificant details as a Doom fleet. He didn't come right out and say it, but Lance felt that Keith was blaming him, mostly because Keith had barely spoken three words to Lance since they'd crashed. The fact that he was getting along like a house on fire with the others just made Lance feel even more like a pariah. He had to have a chaperone just to get Keith to be in the same room with him. Which was why Hunk was there, reading the Arusian newspaper. Arus might not have an infrastructure or, y'know, towns, but they had a newspaper. That said a lot about the Arusians and it wasn't all complimentary.
So there was Hunk, reading the newspaper and Keith sorting through old diaries and hunting down every reference to Voltron and his keys that he could find. Lance figured that Keith would appreciate any distraction at this point, but he wished that he didn't need Hunk to be there because Lance only wanted to talk to Keith and figure out who was being the bigger pillock He was pretty sure that it wasn't him.
'Keith,' he said, and he put his hands down on the Keith's book and loomed, a little. 'Keith, you know this wasn't my fault. None of it was my fault.' He leaned in closer and let his single entendre do the work of a double.
'I didn't say it was your fault.' Keith pushed Lance's hands away and didn't look up. 'But I'm still going to blame you.'
'Why! We're out of the woods! There's fresh air, there's sunshine, there's a distinct lack of whips and scaly beasties. We get meat one meal a day and as much water as we want. We can bathe. In private. I don't see the bad here.'
Keith looked up and his face was very, very calm. 'Does this look like Earth to you, Lance? Does this,' he swept his hand around the room, 'look like home?' He slammed his book shut and stood up. 'Do you know why I was sent on this mission? Because I, literally, just graduated from the Academy and I was the only one stupid enough to volunteer. I have no training, I have no experience leading people and now I'm in command? I'm not ready for command! And I can't even contact Earth or the Alliance to get backup or give them Sven's findings, which means Sven went through hell for absolutely nothing. And it's all. My. Fault. And meanwhile you're skipping about like Arus is the next Eden and we're these promised angels who're going to save Arus from Doom when we're not. We don't know how to work together, I'm the only one here who has any real combat training, and this is, quite possibly, the last crew I would have picked to save a planet. We're probably not going to be able to help the Arusians -- because, let's face it, we're never going to master the lions or form Voltron if I can't find that fucking key -- and instead of letting down just one planet, I've let down two. And, you know what? I really don't like having you making eyes at me because it was just one night. It was one stupid night and it's not going to happen again because I'm a member of the G.G and I don't. I'm not like that. I'm not like you. So, I'm pissed off because that's the bad here, and I plan on staying pissed off for a while longer.'
'Oh.' Lance backed away and looked down at the carpet. 'Um. Okay then.'
And he left.
Hunk let the room echo with Lance's absence for a while and then he stood, rolled his newspaper into a tube and smacked Keith in the head with it.
'Ow.' Keith rubbed his head and glared at Hunk. 'What was that for?'
'You,' he said, 'are a world class idiot.' He hit Keith again.
'Stop it.' Keith waved his hands above his head. 'I'm a superior officer.'
'This isn't the army.' Hunk smacked Keith once more for good measure and put his hands on his hips. 'Look. There were two people there that night. And from where I was lying, it all looked perfectly consensual. So stop blaming Lance for that stick up your ass. He doesn't deserve that. He's a good guy. He never ratted on anybody for more food, never bitched more than anybody else, never made things worse because he could. He's a good guy and he deserves better and you're a real shit to treat him like this. It's not his fault that you're here; it's not his fault that anybody is here, except maybe himself. So. Grow up and deal with whatever your problem is.' Hunk gave Keith a particularly searching look and then patted him on the shoulder. 'This isn't the army.'
Hunk ambled out of the room and Keith stared down at his books. Maybe. Maybe he had been a little mean to Lance. Keith could admit when he was wrong. And, though he'd never tell Hunk this, he could admit when something was his problem -- given enough whacks in the head. After all, it wasn't like Lance had really tried anything since they'd escaped from Doom. And, to be honest, Lance was the only reason that they were all still in one piece and not space debris. Besides, Lance really was a nice guy. And if he was going to be honest with himself, Keith had to admit that he had wanted that one night -- he had wanted more than that night.
Keith drummed his fingers on his books. Hunk was right. This wasn't the army. Things didn't have to be by the book here. Hell, half his team would have been court-martialed and given a dishonorable discharge if this had been regular army. And he was going to have to apologize to Lance, do something really nice to make up for being such an asshole. It wasn't Lance's fault that Keith freaked out about enjoying himself a bit too much.
Keith carefully marked his place and closed his book. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and thought about what he was doing, what he was throwing away. Because he knew he wouldn't be strong enough to walk away again. If he went out there, found Lance, he knew that it wouldn't be long before he was back in Lance's bed and that meant the end of his G.G career, whether the Brass found out or not. He couldn't have it both ways, couldn't keep the army and Lance. He stood up and smoothed out his uniform, brushed the hair out of his eyes.
And then he went to find Lance.