When Shiro opens his eyes, Keith is watching him.
The sun rising behind them hits Keith's hair and makes it shine almost red, almost like clay, covers his face in shadow and blinds Shiro for a moment, but he can see the glint in Keith's eyes, the hint of a smile on his lips.
Shiro glances around, and in the distance he sees Hunk and Shay watching the sunrise over the Balmera's cliffs. Pidge and Lance are still sleeping a few steps over, huddled for warmth near the embers of the dying fire.
"Sleep well?" Keith asks him, brushing Shiro's bangs out of his eyes. "You weren't thrashing as much last night."
Shiro imagines he must look sheepish when he nods, still drowsy from sleep, because it earns him a half grin and a head tilt from Keith, who he can see now, looks as tired as he feels. Between the thousand-eyed Robeast and the backup of the Galra fleet, the battle yesterday did a number on them all.
"You were right," he mutters, cradling his cheek in Keith's hand and fighting the urge to close his eyes and go back to sleep. "Sleeping outside the ship feels nice, for a change."
It was Keith's notion to camp near the castle ship when the Balmerans decided to return to the caves, after it was all said and done. They would come back up and try to adjust to living topside, in their own time, but for now their whole lives were down there -as were a number of Galra facilities that needed raiding for supplies, and then shutting down.
Coran had taken Allura back to the castle for rest and healing, and that left the rest of them with not much direction, until Keith suggested they make camp right there and spend the night out in the open air. Watch the stars, catch some sunrise in the morning. Anything but going back to the ship right away.
Shiro stretches his legs a bit, watching the sunlight playing on Keith's hair as it rises, touching the tip of his ears, making his pale skin look golden. Keith's hand traces down the length of his arm until it nestles in his, their fingers entwining. He brings their joined hands to his lips and breathes against the back of Shiro's hand.
Keith was never good at staying confined in closed spaces for too long. He wasn't good at staying in his quarters at the Garrison, and he isn't good at staying inside the ship for too long before he needs to take Red for a spin. Shiro used to find that half-charming, half-annoying about him back then, but after spending what feels like a lifetime locked in dark cells and bright labs, he understands. He's not one to stay too long between four walls anymore either, if he can help it, and this -lying here over sand and solid rock, with only Keith's jacket under his head for a pillow, nothing above or around them but the stars fading into the morning and the sun warming their skin- this feels nice.
Behind him, Pidge shifts in her sleep and Lance mutters something in return, and it stirs Shiro as if from a dream, but they don’t wake up yet. Shiro relaxes again, resting his forehead against Keith’s and brushing his lips against the back of Keith’s hand too.
“Can we stay like this a little longer?” Shiro asks, but his eyes are already closing and he feels sleep washing as warm as the sun over him as Keith’s voice echoes around him, from somewhere both too distant and impossibly close.
“Sure,” it says, chuckling low and throaty into his ears as Shiro falls under Keith’s watch again. “We can stay here as long as you want.”