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Soulmates and Stardust

Chapter Text

The waves were calm as they lapped against the shore. The moonlight turned the water white and milky and flushed the colour from Keith’s skin. The sand held onto the warmth of the long gone sun, Keith dug his hands into the coarse ground and let the grains trickle through his fingers.

Sand was one of the things Keith hadn’t realised he liked until he was a million miles away from every last grain. He buried his hands deep, letting the lingering heat warm his skin. He closed his eyes and let the quiet thrum of the ocean lull him into the state between awake and asleep.

Keith didn’t know how many minutes passed while he listened, but he noticed the subtle sound of sand being disrupted by footsteps. It surprised him, that he could still recognise the footsteps. When they had first arrived back on Earth Keith had been stunned by just how much noise there was. The sound of car engines and the buzz of cell phones and the faint collisions of music from headphones. He hadn’t realised how quiet space had been until he was back on solid ground.

He opened his eyes as the footsteps stopped. Lance shone silver in the moonlight, his eyes averted towards the waves. Lance’s fingers fidgeted with the material of his pyjama pants and Keith reached up to catch his fingers and intertwine them with his own.

Lance looked down and let a soft smile cover his face as Keith tugged gently on his arm. Lance sat down, careful to leave space between them.

The inches between them were foreign. In space they had known what they meant to one another, down on Earth, with a million more choices, things weren’t as sure.

Lance’s grip was unforgivingly tight as their fingers clung to one another and their palms pressed together. Keith pressed back with identical resolve. After a moment both boys relaxed, their shoulders meeting as the inches disappeared once more.

Lance’s voice broke the silence.

“There was a time when I believed that we’d never get to have this back,” he whispered.

Keith frowned. “Peace?” he asked.

“Normalcy. Being able to hold the hand of the man I love and watch the ocean.” Lance paused. “Humanity”

Keith didn’t ask him what he meant. Humans weren’t designed to spend years drifting through space, separated from the Earth. Humans were supposed to feel dirt between their fingers and water lapping at their thighs. Humans were supposed to have people to come home to at the end of the day.

If there was one positive thing that had come out of their extended trip, it was that. Keith had found someone to come home to, whether it be in the middle of space or in the overcrowded house by the ocean on the tiny green and blue planet.

Leaning closer, Keith rested his head against Lance’s shoulder and closed his eyes. The quiet splash of the waves was drowned out by the subtle continuity of Lance’s heartbeat.

Chapter Text

Katie Holt shivered against the cold night air. She pulled the sleeves of the borrowed hoodie down to cover her fingers and adjusted the focus on the telescope in front of her. Thousands of millions of glittering suns burst to life before her eyes. It was enough to take her breath away.

After a moment of hesitation Katie tilted the telescope towards the moon. The sphere glowed white against the black backdrop of space. From her position she could just barely make out the crater-speckled surface.

The sight brought both comfort and distress.

The warm hand that landed on her shoulder didn’t jolt her, instead as she looked up a smile spread across her face. Matt smiled back, his forehead crinkling identically to hers. He sat heavily beside her, draping his arm across her shoulder and nudging her to the side so as to peer through the lens.

“Beautiful tonight,” he remarked.

Katie gazed up at the moon, her shoulders slumped and mouth drooped. “Yeah, I guess,” she muttered.

“Hey.” Matt pulled away from her and caught her eye. “It’s only a year.”

Katie evaded his gaze, tracing the space logo of the oversized jumper. The moonlight turned the lettering silver and reflective. Matt caught her hand.

“This is the part where you’re supposed to be excited for your big bro,” he prompted.

“I am, I’m so proud. It’s just… What if something goes wrong? Like, what if you have an engine malfunction mid take-off or… or…”

Matt cut her off. “You’re worried.”

Katie threw up her hands, her expression exasperated. “Of course I am!”

The siblings were silent for a moment, each staring up at the moon. Unbeknownst to them they each wished on a star for the same thing. The air fogged their breaths and sent goosebumps along the expanse of Katie’s arms where the jacket’s sleeves had ridden up.

“You’re worried that I won’t come home,” Matt whispered. Katie tensed, but he continued nevertheless. “I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m worried that I’ll want to come home, that it’ll be the exact opposite of what I expected.”

“You will though?” Katie whispered. “Come home?”

“Always.” Matt grinned and pulled her closer. “Who else is going to annoy you to death through your teenage years?”

Katie laughed, the noise echoed across the rooftop before it was consumed by the void of space. Matt ran a hand through his sister’s hair, pulling the long strands forward to cover her face. Katie slapped at him blindly, tugging at a strand of hair that had twisted around the arm of her glasses. She wished she'd worn her contacts instead.

When she freed herself and looked back at Matt his face had grown sober. She set her glasses back on the bridge of her nose and waited for him to speak.

“Look after mum for me,” he said eventually. “She’s not… I know this is hard for her, I watched her break the first time dad left. To lose both dad and I at the same time… I know you don’t get along great, but you’ll be all she has for a while. I want you to remember that.”

Katie leaned into his side, drawing comfort from the steady warmth of her older brother’s shoulder. “I will,” she promised.

The two sat in comfortable silence, huddled close for warmth, until the sky began to lighten. As the sun crept along the horizon Katie closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.

“What if… What if I’m not Katie when you get back?” she asked. “What if I’m… different?”

To her surprise Matt didn’t even flinch at the question. “It doesn’t matter who you are,” he said. “You’ll always be my annoying, ridiculously intelligent younger sibling.”

“Yeah?” she wondered.

“Yeah.”

 

A year later Matt’s ship landed back on Earth, with her father and brother nowhere to be found.

And Katie Holt disappeared.

Chapter Text

When Shiro panicked it was a subtle thing. It was the little things that gave him away. The way his fingers shook. How his eyes watered from prolonged periods between blinks. The creases in his clothing from being ruined over and over, only to be perfected again. The way his metal arm gleamed from excess polish. The hitch of his breathing.

Shiro was panicking.

It was Pidge who noticed first, the second they walked through the door they called for Keith. Keith had come running, of course. And where Keith was, Lance was sure to follow. Hunk had found his way over not long after.

The room was overcrowded and Shiro. Was. Panicking.

Shiro could tell that they were trying to be helpful, were trying to pay him back for all the nights that he had spent consoling them. But there was only one person that he wanted by his side and that wasn’t possible.

“Shiro.” It was Keith, eyes wide with worry – worry for him – who spoke. “Everything is going to be fine.”

“Yeah,” Lance said from beside Keith. “Get a grip man. She’s just a girl.”

Shiro knew that was his way of comforting him. But he still winced at the words. “That’s the thing,” he said. “Allura… She’s not just a girl. She’s never been just a girl. And what am I? Some space junkie who doesn’t even have two arms to offer.”

Shiro tugged at his tie, pulling it loose and fidgeting with it. Lance’s laugher boomed through the cramped room.

“And she’s so special? She’s a Princess, sure, but what does that even matter without anyone to rule over?” Lance remarked. Keith dug his elbow into his boyfriend’s side but Lance knocked it away. “No, listen, listen. Shiro, there’s a reason she chose you, that you chose her. Individually you are both completely fucked up. Stop it, Keith. Together, though? Together there may just be enough of you both left to make up for what’s missing.”

Keith pulled his elbow away from Lance’s ribs and threaded their hands together instead. Surprisingly, Lance’s words had calmed Shiro’s nerves. Not entirely, but just enough to let him breathe easily once more.

“Thank you,” he said. “I, can I just…”

“Of course. Take all the time you need. Allura waited 10,000 years, she can wait five more minutes,” Keith answered. He pulled lance along with him as he headed to the door and was quickly followed by Hunk.

Shiro turned to Pidge and sighed. Pidge sent him a determined glare as they stepped forward and urged Shiro to sit down. Carefully they fixed the black tie into place, silently sliding it up to rest against Shiro’s throat.

“Allura’s great. Matt… Matt would have liked her,” Pidge whispered. “You know he would have loved to be here.”

“I know,” Shiro replied. “Thank you for being here. You’re important to me too, you know. As you, not just as Matt’s sibling.”

“I know,” Pidge echoed. They straightened his tie and smiled, stepping back and taking in the whole picture. “You, Sir, are officially ready.”

“No backing out now, I guess.”

Pidge rolled their eyes. “Shut up. We both know you want this more than anything else in the world.”

“Yeah.” Shiro smiled. “I do.”

“Great, now go downstairs and say that again and you’re good to go.”

Chapter Text

The fair had popped up unexpectedly, a last minute carnival for a charity that neither of them cared enough about to look into for the details. They’d only found out about it when Shiro had sent a picture to the group chat of Pidge holding a teddy bear larger than themself.

Lance had grinned at the mention of the carnival but Keith – Keith had lit up. In a move that had shocked Lance, Keith had stood up from the table, packed away their study notes and dragged his boyfriend out of the library as fast as he could.

 

Keith’s fingers were interwoven with Lance’s as they made their way through the maze of carnival games and food stalls. The fair was overwhelming – the bright, glittering lights blinded Keith as he squinted through the crowd. Keith led them forward as quickly as he could without knocking people over. Lance sent him a concerned look and tugged on his boyfriend’s hand to stop him in his tracks.

“What’s gotten into you?” Lance questioned. “It’s just a fair.”

Keith blushed, the discolouration travelling from his cheeks to the tips of his ears. “Sorry. It’s just… growing up in the system meant missing out on a lot. But there was a fair in my area, every year, and I always was allowed to go.” He brought his free hand up and used it to cover his reddened face. “It’s silly, I know.”

“It’s not.” Lance squeezed his hand and sent a soft smile towards the shorter boy. Lance leant forward and peeled Keith’s hand away from his face, Lance pressed a kiss against his nose and pulled him towards the rollercoaster.

When they finally reached the front of the line Lance pulled them towards the very front of carriage. Their hands remained tightly interwoven as they climbed in and the safety bar was secured.

Lance sent a playful smile towards Keith. “You’re not going to throw up on me after this, are you?” he asked.

“In your dreams, Mcclain.”

Lance’s laughter was quickly replaced with a squeal as the carriage lurched forward and made its way along the track. Lance’s grip on Keith’s hand was deathlike but a smile was spread wide across his face.

 

They exited the rollercoaster windblown and overjoyed. Lance leant into Keith’s side and giggled, it took all of Keith’s self control not to cover his boyfriend in kisses right there in the middle of the fair. Instead he led Lance towards a pink stand.

The line was short when compared to the queues for the rides, but there were still six people ahead of them. Lance peered around the man in front of them and frowned.

“Fairy floss?” His nose crinkled in disgust.

“You can’t tell me you hate fairy floss? It’s literally just sugar, that’s like ninety percent of your daily diet,” Keith reasoned.

Lance shrugged, turning to face Keith. “Don’t know. I’ve never tried it.”

“What?” Keith gaped.

“I don’t know, I just… It never really came up? There were so many sweets at home, I never saw the point in trying it.” The woman at the front of the line walked past and Lance’s eyes followed the fluffy pink wisp of spun sugar.

“Even I’ve had fairy floss, and I hate most treats.” Keith shook his head and stepped forward as the line lessened once more. “Well, we’ll fix that today.”

“Alright I still don’t see what the big deal is though.”

When it was their turn Keith ordered two sticks of fairy floss and Lance leant forward to watch as the sugar was spun into the light cotton-like candy. Keith exchanged a few dollars for the treats and handed one to Lance.

Lance frowned as he switched the stick into his other hand and rubbed his fingers together. “It’s sticky,” he said.

Keith plucked a strand of the pastel candy off of the side of Lance’s treat and stuck it in his mouth. It melted on his tongue and Keith grinned at Lance’s shriek of outrage. The taller boy used his sticky hand to cover the majority of his fairy floss.

“Go on,” Keith urged. “Try it.”

Hesitantly Lance pulled at the mass of pink candy, a strand came away between his fingers and he stuffed it into his mouth. Instantly his eyes widened.

Oh,” lance whispered.

Keith laughed and stole another piece of Lance’s fairy floss. Lance pulled off a piece of Keith’s treat in retaliation. Lance’s face lit up as he ate the stolen candy.

One day Keith would tire of being right, but that day had yet to arrive.

Lance sunk his teeth into his own treat, the fairy floss darkening where it met his mouth, and tore off a large chunk. He laughed around the mouthful and proceeded to finish the entire stick in under a minute.

Keith watched, wide eyed as the treat disappeared in front of his eyes. Lance reached into his pocket, brought out his wallet and, before Keith could process what was happening, walked over to purchase more.

When he walked back over it was with two bags of multi-coloured fairy floss, one tucked under his arm, the other already open with a significant proportion missing.

“Fairy floss,” Lance announced, “is the best thing to have ever been invented. Ever.”

“Oh my God,” Keith muttered. “I’ve created a monster.”

Lance laughed, he grabbed Keith’s stick of fairy floss and stuck it in the open bag before he folded it closed and tucked it under his arm with the other bag. Keith blinked but as he went to complain Lance’s mouth captured his.

Lance’s lips were sticky against Keith’s. Keith used his newly freed hands to wind them into lance’s hair and pull him closer. Lance sighed into Keith’s mouth and Keith took the opportunity to deepen the kiss.

Lance’s mouth was sickly sweet, which, honestly, was not at all unusual. But this time it was different, because he tasted of long days spent exploring the summer festival, he tasted like sunshine and laughter and freedom. He tasted like everything Keith had ever wanted. He tasted like home.

When they pulled apart, their breaths out of synch and their eyes wide, Keith pressed their foreheads together. The look in their eyes said more than words ever could.

After a moment, Lance reached up to untangle Keith’s hands from his hair. He skimmed his fingers down Keith’s arm and intertwined their fingers when he reached his hand. With a grin he dragged Keith towards the carnival games.

“You have to win me a lion, okay. Even bigger than that stupid bear Pidge got,” Lance declared.

The taste of fairy floss lingered on Keith’s tongue.

 

 

I don’t know if Mcclain is his real last name but my Voltron expert is asleep (I know, HOW DARE) because it is 3:52am (do not judge me Kiara) and this is what Tumblr told me sooooo…

Chapter Text

Lance was five seconds away from finding the security warning system and blasting it out of existence. A swarm of Galra ships had surrounded them in the middle of the night, the castle walls had been breached, he had gotten separated from his teammates, communications were down and the alarm siren had been resounding through the fortress for the better part of half an hour.

It was enough to drive any man to insanity, and Lance had significant less patience than most men. Not only had the incessant ringing caused a sharp pain to seep into the crevasse behind his eyes, it also erased any chance Lance had of hearing an attacker approach.

The lighting had dulled as a result of the emergency power reduction that had automatically commenced when the outer walls of the castle had been damaged. Lance strained his eyes as he crept around the corner of the hallway, pressing his body as close to the wall as possible.

The lights flickered off and Lance cursed at the sudden blindness. His fingers tightened across the handle of his blaster. Lance stepped forward, careful to keep his back pressed against the wall. Footsteps echoed through the narrow hallway.

But they didn’t belong to Lance.

He held his weapon up steadily as his eyes slowly adjusted to the change in lighting. At the end of the hallway stood a silhouette, taller and broader than Lance, which slowly crept closer to him.

Lance tensed, he took a deep breath and let it slowly leak through his teeth. The shadow turned at the noise, just as the lights flickered. The room lit up, only for a moment. But the flash of rich purple skin said enough. Lance shifted into a fighting stance, his feet spread apart and his fingers unlocked the safety on his gun.

The Galra seemed to have a similar thought. A flash of silver shone through the darkness and Lance’s spine loosened.

A knife. Good. They’d trained for close contact fighting.

Lance moved his gun to the side just as the Galra lunged. Lance blocked the attack with the smooth muscle of his forearm before snaking closer to the enemy. Within his new, closer position Lance captured the Galra’s wrists and twisted in an attempt to disarm him.

It was difficult to determine who had the advantage with the shroud of darkness obscuring both opponents’ vision. As they fought with hand-to-hand combat, Lance found himself being backed into a corner. He struggled to escape the hold of the Galra soldier only to flinch back against the wall, losing any leverage he had, when his cheek was split open.

The Galra laughed, his voice low and rough as cold metal pressed against Lance’s throat. Lance’s hands trembled, he fumbled for something, anything, and almost jumped as he realised that his gun had swung loose during the fight and was now resting snug against the Galra’s chest.

His opponent hadn’t seemed to even register the weapon and with a start, Lance realised that the Galra had yet to realise that Lance had a weapon, much less one pressed against his heart.

“Are you prepared to die, human?” the Galra soldier snarled.

The knife at Lance’s throat pressed against his skin, drawing blood. The Galra’s breath fanned across Lance’s face, warm and moist. Lance’s hands shook. The blade dug deeper into lances flesh – and then he was free.

Lance was sprawled out on the floor, his legs folded awkwardly beneath him. Across the hallway the Galra lay slumped at an unnatural angle. Lance’s ears rang so loud that he could no longer hear the piercing siren.

His blaster was warm beneath his fingers.

The lights flickered back on and Lance winced, shielding his eyes against the blinding light. Blue tinted his peripheral vision and, without thought, he turned towards the unusual colouring.

A dark, sickly blue was splattered across the walls and was quickly forming around the fallen Galra soldier. Lance dropped his gun and crawled across the room, a thick churning occurring deep in his stomach.

When he reached the soldier he gagged, turning his head and heaving as he vomited onto the blue splatted floor. The Galra soldier laid still, and where skin and flesh and life should have been, there was only a gaping hole.

Unexpectedly, right as it became the least of his problems, the siren shut off.

Lance reached out and pressed his shaking hands against the wound. He pressed down and blue seeped through the gaps between his fingers. Tears fell steadily down Lance’s face and diluted the blue blood like watercolour paint.

“You’re okay,” Lance stuttered. “You’re going to be okay. We just need to, to stop the bleeding.”

Lance continued muttering reassurances under his breath as he held his palms firmly against the hole. He startled when warm, familiar fingers pried his hands away and pulling away, attempted to press back down on the wound.

“Lance. Lance, he’s dead. Lance.

Lance flinched and glanced up, his eyes glassy. He blinked until the blurred, watery image solidified into Keith.

“He’s dead, Lance,” Keith repeated.

Lance turned to the Galra soldier and absorbed the still muscles, the wide, unseeing eyes. He pulled his hands away from the hole in the dead man’s chest and allowed Keith to pull him onto his feet.

Keith pulled Lance into his arms and it wasn’t until Keith held him still that Lance realised how badly his body was shaking. In the warm, steady embrace, his stiff body loosened and he curled into Keith’s neck. A wail ripped through the air and it took Lance a moment to realise that it had come from his own throat.

“I fucked up. I fucked up. I fucked up,” Lance uttered the words into the wet skin of Keith’s neck. Keith was quiet, he ran his hand slowly along Lance’s back as Lance collapsed against him.

It was only when Lance’s breathing had stabilized that Keith spoke. “Was it self defence?”

“I, yes but–”

“Then you did nothing wrong.”

“But Shiro said–”

Keith tightened his grip on Lance. “I don’t give a fuck about what Shiro said. It was him or you – you did the right thing.”

Lance’s shoulders dropped, and his hands finally began to steady. He leaned back and looked Keith in the eyes. Lance searched for any sign that he was lying, that Keith thought that Lance was disgusting and had done the wrong thing, but all he found was love, acceptance and protection within the blue irises.

“When Shiro and the others find out…” Lance whispered.

“They won’t find out. I’ll take care of it.” Keith’s gaze was determined and steady as he met Lance’s eyes.

Lance gripped Keith’s jacket and pressed his mouth against Keith’s. The kiss was bruising, their teeth clashed and their eyes remained locked together. Lance pulled away after only a few seconds and prayed that Keith understood that it was as much of a thank you that he could manage at the moment.

Keith leaned forward and pressed his forehead against Lance’s for a moment before he pulled away and grabbed one arm of the fallen Galra soldier.

“Go,” he told Lance, and pulled the body away and around the corner.

Chapter Text

Keith’s nose scrunched up. “No,” he said.

Lance blinked at him with wide eyes, fluttering his eyelashes in an overdramatic attempt to sway Keith’s answer. “Please? Pretty please?”

In Lance’s arms the tiny orange kitten yawned and snuggled into his elbow. Lance glanced down at the faint sound and his eyes softened into a genuine look of affection. Using a finger from his spare hand Lance gently stroked the kitten’s furred head.

Keith sighed. He knew that despite what he said he had lost the second Lance spotted the abandoned feline.

And so, their apartment officially gained a third resident.

 

At first it didn’t really make a difference to their daily lives, Lance took care of keeping the kitten, dubbed Luna by Lance, fed and cleaned her litter box with minimal fuss.

Luna took to curling up on Keith’s pillow during the day and even Keith reluctantly admitted that the sleeping kitten was cute. With her vibrant fur and habit of tucking her fluffed tail under her head in a pillow-like manner it was no surprise that Lance was completely infatuated with the kitten.

Everything was great – except for the sneezing.

Keith’s nose had been blocked up for weeks, his sinuses were swollen and his throat itched like it was being attacked by a group of fire ants. He had, more than once, woken up in coughing fits and his body was suffering from the continuous torment and lack of a full nights sleep.

It was only when Keith woke up one day in a coughing fit, and found Luna watching him from her spot on Lance’s pillow, that he realised what the problem was. Or rather, who the problem was.

Luna innocently stood, stretching her legs and arching her back, and walked over to rub her nose against Keith’s jaw. Keith’s nose twitched and he turned his face into his elbow as he sneezed. The kitten purred and curled up on his lap comfortably.

Not wanting to disturb her as she began to fall asleep, Keith reached over and grabbed his phone from the bedside table. It flashed with a notification and, unlocking it, a message from Lance opened. Lance had sent six kiss-blowing emojis and a good morning along with a text explaining that Pidge had asked him over for brunch to help them with an assignment. Quickly texting him back, minus the overuse of emojis, Keith opened up a new tab in his internet app.

He glanced down at the sleeping kitten, Luna’s tail rested between her head and Keith’s leg. Keith’s stomach churned as he typed in his question and searched through the results. The outcome was unanimous.

Keith was allergic to cats.

 

Keith paced across the room, Luna followed at his heels. Logically Keith should have locked the ginger kitten in another room, but he was a stubborn man and Lance loved Luna. The only way to completely fix the problem was to take away the cause, but getting rid of her was out of the question.

Lance had adopted the kitten as a faux child – it would be cruel to take her away from him. Of course, if Keith explained the problem Lance would give the kitten away in a heartbeat and never complain to Keith about her absence. But Lance had given him a home – he wasn’t about to rip Luna away from hers.

Keith groaned and collapsed onto the lounge. Luna jumped up beside him and curled up, resting her tiny head on his thigh. The kitten released a loud purr as Keith reached down and ran a finger across her head.

 

Over the next few weeks, Keith tried every anti-allergy medication he could buy over the counter at his local chemist. Some worked better than others, but even the most efficient ones left his throat burning and his eyes watering at the almost constant exposure to Luna.

It had gotten so bad that, in a fit of desperation, Keith had began to search the internet for people in want of a kitten. It was just as he finished reading an adoptee’s profile, which met all of his standards, that he stumbled upon the solution.

At the bottom of the computer screen blinked an advertisement for the local medical centre. In pulsing lights the sign claimed that their experienced physicians could cure everything from allergies to chronic illness.

Which, sure, was certainly an exaggeration, but it was worth a try.

 

Keith fidgeted with his jacket zipper as he waited. When his name was called he walked into the doctor’s office with little hope.

When he walked out, it was with a prescription for a strong antihistamine and a smile on his face.

 

The effect was momentous. Within a week his nose dried up and the itching of his throat dulled. His mornings quickly developed a new routine. Rather than pushing her away when he woke to find Luna curled up next to his head, Keith was able to lounge around and let both himself and the kitten enjoy the extra few hours of sleep.

Once he was able to spend more than a few minutes with Luna without being overwhelmed by a coughing or sneezing fit, Keith found that he quite enjoyed being around the kitten.

Luna would often curl up on his lap while he read and the rhythmic vibration of her purring set Keith’s mind at ease. Keith had woken up more than once to find his book discarded and the kitten fast asleep on his lap.

For all his comments about Lance being in love with her, it was Keith that Luna had running at her every meow.

 

Keith paused by the front door as he caught Lance’s voice drifting down the hallway.

“I love you, oh yes I do. Oh yes I do.” Keith’s lips twitched into a smile as he registered the high-pitched voice reserved only for infants and animals. “You silly little sleepy kitty.”

Keith dropped the grocery bags in the kitchen and quietly walked into the living room. Lance was sitting on the couch with Luna sprawled out on his lap. He sat down and sent a smile to Lance before leaning over to press their lips together.

When they broke apart Lance glanced down at their laps and let out a quiet laugh. Luna had migrated from Lance’s lap to Keith’s, her chest rose and fell softly as she slept.

Keith smiled fondly down at the sleeping kitten. “I can’t believe I almost gave you away,” he whispered.

Lance jolted and turned to stare at Keith. “You what?”

Keith moved to shrug but stopped as Luna shifted in his lap.

“I was really allergic at first, but I sorted it out.” Keith ran a hand down Luna’s back and she snuggled closer to his knee.

“You what?”

Keith grinned at his boyfriend and pulled him in for another soft kiss to shut him up.

Chapter Text

“I didn’t do it, I swear. I can, I’ll–”

“I’m sorry, Keith. But this is for the best.”

Keith’s pouted lips trembled, he blinked and tightened his grip on his backpack. He had told himself not to cry, but the second the car pulled up to the familiar building tears bubbled over and ran down his cheeks. He clutched his backpack to his chest in lieu of the fluffy red lion that had been gifted to him on his arrival to his most recent home.

His forever home, they had called it. And, despite his past experience with forever homes, Keith’s naïve young heart had grown attached to the idea.

But as he sat there, in the shadow of the orphanage, he felt the familiar ache of heartbreak once more.

 

It had started out so well, he had been accepted into the family with open arms and friendly smiles. For almost an entire month he had been content to acquaint himself to his new home and, for a time, he actually felt comfortable within the neatly decorated walls.

He wasn’t the only child of the household, though, and his new brother could be overwhelming at times. At eight years old, the other boy was an entire year older than Keith. His new brother didn’t seem to appreciate having his role as youngest and only child stolen from him.

Keith was a quiet child, preferring to curl up in a dark corner and read rather than follow in his newest sibling’s footsteps and wreak havoc around the house. Of course, Keith could have adjusted had it not been for the incidents.

Keith’s adoptive mother was heavily pregnant. Keith’s new parents had adopted him in the hope that a new playmate would relieve the anxiety their oldest child would experience with the arrival of the baby.

When the baby arrived, Keith’s new brother wasn’t pleased. At his first chance, the boy defaced the glistening white crib, scribbling the word Die across the paint over and over until there was no bare patch of wood left. Keith watched, aware that what his new brother was doing was wrong, but unsure of how to stop him.

When his parents discovered the mess, Keith was blamed.

When the baby’s new toys were found mutilated in the rubbish bin, Keith was blamed.

When his new brother crept out of bed in the middle of the night and held a pillow to his baby sister’s face Keith rushed forward and pulled the pillow away. He was still holding it when their parents walked in. Keith was blamed.

After that, his adoptive parents began to whisper to one another when they thought he was out of hearing range.

“Almost killed her … a safety risk … not compatible …”

Keith knew enough about the world to know that big words like compatible always meant trouble.

 

Keith stepped out of the car without complaint – he knew that any chance of being allowed to stay had evaporated the moment they drove up to the orphanage. This was not the time for second guesses. He watched, expressionless, as yet another parent drove away, leaving him behind.

 

One day Keith would meet a boy who was outgoing where he was reserved, reckless where he was calculated, blue where he was red. People would throw around words like ‘incompatible’ and instead of provoking the heavy dread that settled deep in his stomach now, the word would lift him up and encourage Keith to prove them wrong. Keith would discover that you don’t always have to fit in perfectly to be loved.

And oh, how he would be loved.

Keith would one day be so overwhelmed by the sensation of being loved – of being wanted – and he would finally be able to give a little bit of that love back. The journey would be slow and cautious, but he would get there in the end, to that place that he had started to believe didn’t exist for boys like him.

But until then, Keith curled his knees into his chest, buried his face in the tattered fabric of his backpack, and he wept.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t a crush.

Keith just had an eye for beautiful things, and Lance may have been one of the most antagonising people he had ever met, but God was he beautiful.

Sure, all the men of Voltron were attractive, hunk with his warm smiles and kind eyes, and Shiro with his gently tussled hair and muscles that strained the seams of his shirts. But Lance was the one that had caught Keith’s attention.

Not that that was always a good thing.

Keith swore as Shiro’s elbow collided with his jaw. Shiro looked like he wanted to reprimand the younger man for his choice of language but lunged forward to grab him instead. Keith twisted out of Shiro’s range and managed to get his fist through the opening exposing Shiro’s ribs.

“Come on, Shiro. You gonna let him do that?” Lance bellowed from the outskirts of the training room.

The man in question laughed and landed a jab to Keith’s side. Keith groaned and attempted a hit to Shiro’s chest only to have his wrist encircled by the cold metal fingers of a prosthetic arm. Shiro pulled Keith closer, ensnaring his other hand, and kicked out his legs. With his wrists bound by Shiro’s fingers, Keith’s body sagged and he found himself flat on his back. Shiro straddled Keith’s chest and pinned his hands down.

“I concede,” Keith muttered.

“What was that, Keithy boy?”

Keith rolled his eyes at Lance’s provocation and accepted the hand Shiro offered down to him. Shiro pulled him to his feet and clapped a hand on his back.

“You’re improving,” Shiro remarked. “However, you need to focus on your concentration.” Shiro’s eyes darted behind Keith pointedly.

The tips of Keith’s ears reddened. “Of course. Won’t happen again.”

Allura passed Keith a cloth as he stepped off the training ground. He nodded his thanks and collapsed onto the bench that had been set up on the edge of the room. Shiro wrapped his arm around Allura’s waist and pressed a kiss into her hairline as they made their way out of the room.

Keith pressed the cloth against his damp forehead. In the centre of the room Lance reached back and caught the tip of his foot, he pulled it close to his back. He repeated it with the other leg, laughing at something Hunk said.

Hunk and Lance circled one another dramatically, each waiting for the other to make the first move. It was Lance who lunged forward first – he was slim but quick on his feet and his punch landed against Hunk’s side.

Lance’s mouth twitched, the hint of a smile shining through. His stance remained steady, though. Casual yet deadly, Lance stood with his body slumped but his feet centred. Keith had watched him go from carefree to combat-ready in a split second.

Lance fighting was a wonderful thing to watch. His long limbs turned graceful and, under the intensity of battle, his moves were as fluid as water.

Lance dodged a blow from Hunk, ducking down and using Hunk’s bigger size as a tool against him as he darted around. Lance’s eyes gleamed as he moved, bright with excitement and adrenaline. Keith dropped the cloth into his lap and leaned forward to watch.

Hunk dove forward, his fist collided with Lance’s forearm as the slimmer man blocked the hit. Keith fumbled with the cloth, scrunching the material between his fingers. Lance glanced towards him and their gazes locked, Lance’s lips twitched into a half smirk. Keith blinked and the moment was gone, Lance’s mouth was set in a firm line as he eyed Hunk’s posture.

Lance remained on the defence as Hunk repeatedly attempted to land a blow. It was almost half an hour later when Hunk waved his hand and declared that a water break was needed unless Lance was willing to carry his limp body back to their sleeping quarters.

The men made their way over to Keith. Hunk sat heavily beside Keith as he snatched up the water bottles – one yellow, one blue – next to the wall. Lance reached his hands up into the air and arched his back. The groan that left his mouth as his shoulders stretched sucked the moisture from Keith’s mouth.

Lance reached behind him and grabbed hold of the neck of his shirt before pulling it from his body. He reached a hand out and Hunk passed him the blue water bottle. Keith’s throat ached as he tried to swallow.

Holding the bottle up to his lips, Lance took greedy gulps of water. Keith’s eyes tracked a drop as it missed his mouth and rolled down his body, before mixing with the thin layer of perspiration coating Lance’s bare chest.

Keith blinked and tore his eyes from the excess of skin in front of him. He met Lance’s gaze and held it. Lance sucked his lip into his mouth, removing a water drop that had been left behind. He released the lip with a grin before heading back over onto the training ground.

Keith’s not crush was turning into a problem.

Chapter Text

Lance was in love.

Well, maybe he wasn’t in love, but he was definitely in pretty intense like. Of course, Lance had said the same thing almost a dozen times over the last month but this was different.

Keith was different.

Keith was gorgeous, obviously, but he was also sarcastic and sharp-tongued and fiercely loyal. He was Lance’s equal – hell, he was lance’s superior more often than not – and Lance had always appreciated having someone to compete with.

Keith was also fast sleep.

Lance had been confused when Shiro had gripped his shoulder and told him to behave. They stood at the entrance of the common room, Shiro exiting, Lance about to step inside. Lance had conceded, despite being clueless, as was usually the best answer when dealing with Shiro’s instructions.

When he’d spotted Keith curled up to one side of the lounge his first instinct hadn’t been to misbehave – at least not in the way Shiro had imagined when he’d issued the warning.

All Lance wanted to do was drape himself between Keith and the back of the lounge and pull the other boy closer. He wanted to feel the warmth of Keith’s body pressed against his and let their heartbeats fall into synch. He wanted to bury his face in the soft mess of Keith’s hair and breathe in his scent until it overwhelmed his senses.

Which he couldn’t do.

Instead he sat in the armchair closest to the lounge and settled in, content to watch. Keith’s eyelashes cast shadows across his cheeks. The delicate dark lashes fluttered as Keith slept, they curled down and brushed against the skin of his cheeks. Lance was tempted to count them like the cheesy romantic he was. A lock of his hair – that stupid mullet that Lance loved hated – had fallen across his forehead. Lance’s fingers twitched, he would have paid anything to be allowed to reach out and gently sweep the strands to the side.

On the edge of Keith’s jaw a bruise was blossoming. Deep purple and almost perfectly round, it was a result of Keith and Shiro’s sparring session earlier that day. Lance longed to press his lips against it, so so softly, just a whisper of a kiss against the damaged skin.

Another part of Lance wanted to bite it, wanted to suck the pale skin into his mouth and scrape his teeth across Keith’s throat. He wanted to leave trails of bruises across his body. He wanted to hear his name hissed through Keith’s teeth, his voice rough and low like when Keith let curses slip when he thought no one was listening.

He wanted to hear Keith’s voice catch and make him loose his breath. He wanted to watch him writhe underneath him.

He… really needed to stop thinking about things like that while in the common room where literally any one of his friends could walk in.

Keith’s lips parted and his shoulders slumped as a sigh left his mouth. He shifted his body and turned his face away from the soft material of the lounge to face the roof. Lance tensed, praying to whoever would listen for Keith to remain asleep. When he did, Lance leant forward and allowed his eyes to linger over Keith’s face, committing the delicate features to memory.

His eyes hesitated on Keith’s lips. He’d had dreams about those lips, both PG and R rated. He’d watched, restless, as Keith had scraped his teeth across his bottom lip, unconscious to the fact that it was driving Lance insane. Probably unconscious to the fact that he was doing it in the first place.

He could probably spend eons kissing Keith – it certainly felt like he’d already spent at least half that much time just thinking about it.

But, surprisingly, it was his cheekbones that messed with Lance’s head the most. The elegant slope of Keith’s cheeks was mesmerising to Lance, he had spent hours daydreaming about running the pad of his thumb along the curve of Keith’s cheekbone.

From the rare instances when skin-to-skin contact was made, Lance knew that Keith’s skin was as silky as a flower petal. He was positive that his cheek would be even softer.

His mind flashed with images of fingertips trailing down pale skin, tracing the outline of ribs and muscle, learning every curve and bump…

Dios.

Lance was in love and it was becoming a problem.

Chapter Text

“Twenty on them confessing by the end of the week,” Hunk declared.

Pidge scoffed. “They’re blind. Twenty on one of us having to lock them in a room together.”

Keith and Lance sat across the room, very obviously not looking at one another. Keith held a roughly drawn map, courtesy of Coran, and was tracing his finger over the lines, attempting to plot the smoothest route to their next destination.

Lance sat opposite him, fidgeting with a round, glittering item. He had found it earlier that morning and was trying to figure it out without the Alteans' input. Allura had stopped beside Hunk and Pidge earlier to mention that what Lance was currently playing with was, in fact, a lavatory cleaner.

Keith was the first the break, he held the map up to eye height and peered over the top of the paper, his eyes lingers on the movement of Lance’s hands. He lowered the paper, allowing his view to expand.

Lance shifted his body on the lounge and Keith’s eyes darted back to the map, raising it up to completely obscure his face.

Lance’s fingers stilled as his eyes flickered over to Keith’s hidden face. He huffed, his chest rising and falling dramatically, as his eyes met the back of the map rather than the elegant lines of Keith’s face.

Keith shook the map as the paper began to fall forward and Lance startled, fumbling with the object between his fingers. A dull thud sounded as the glittering ball made contact with the ground. Keith lowered the paper and looked towards Lance, who was crouched half off of the lounge in his attempt to retrieve the item without leaving his spot.

Their eyes met, neither boy blinked. Hunk motioned towards Pidge and they began the timer. At twenty-eight seconds, a blush travelled across Keith’s cheeks and the tips of Lance’s ears reddened. Their gazes remained locked.

As the timer hit forty-seven seconds Keith scraped his teeth over his bottom lip. Lance’s eyes flicked down for a moment before returning to stare into Keith’s.

The map slipped through Keith’s fingers at fifty-three seconds and both boys blinked. They ripped their gazes apart and quickly retreated back to their own tasks, Keith reached out to snatch up the map mid-air while Lance stretched down to grab the glitter ball.

“Damn,” Pidge muttered. “So close. Who bet the next one would be under a minute?”

“Allura.” Hunk shook his head. He should have known better than to pick three minutes, but he was hopeless around the two of them. He wanted the relationship to happen probably just as much and Keith and Lance did.

Across the room Keith and Lance sat with red tinted faces. Pidge typed something into the tablet they held, the special purple one they had dedicated to Keith and Lance’s relationship – which Hunk had affectionately dubbed ‘Klance’. Allura’s triumphant cry travelled in from the other room.

A few minutes later, when both of the boys’ skin had faded back to natural colouring, Lance shifted his gaze over to Keith’s face and the game began once more.

Shiro stood, startling Hunk and Pidge, who hadn’t realised that he was in the room. He tucked the book he’d been reading under his arm and made his way to the door.

The tablet on Pidge’s lap vibrated as a message from Allura came through, the elder man paused in his stride.

Shiro stepped up to loom over Hunk and Pidge, his height made it almost impossible for him to do anything but loom when approaching someone of Pidge’s stature. Pidge slowly pushed the tablet underneath their leg and let an innocent smile creep over their face. Hunk was not quite as subtle. His grin was manic and overdone, he smiled with every one of his teeth showing, his cheeks ached with the strain it caused.

“Hey, Shiro.” Hunk drew the words out, his voice a higher pitch than usual.

Shiro sent him a look. Hunk was overcome by the uncomfortable, yet familiar, sensation of being scolded by a parent. Pidge fidgeted with their glasses, their eyes wide and childlike as they stared up at Shiro. Both waited the moment that Shiro would call them out on their meddling.

Instead, Shiro grinned.

“Twenty on one of them exposing their feelings by accident,” he said.

Chapter Text

The knock came just as the clock on Shiro’s bedside table ticked over to two am. The faintest thud of knuckles against wood, Shiro could have easily missed it. But Shiro had been expecting it all night.

Shiro opened the door and Matt blinked at the sudden light that fell across his face. Shiro reached across and flicked the light off, and the hallway quickly fell back into darkness.

Matt’s hand was damp with sweat when Shiro sought it out, the familiar intertwining of their fingers released some of the tension from both of their shoulders. Shiro tugged Matt along behind him as he made his way across the hall. He led them up a staircase and pushed open the heavy steel door in their way.

The rooftop was chilled, Shiro made sure to keep Matt close to his side as they walked to the edge and sat down. Above their heads millions of stars twinkled, crystal clear in the unpolluted sky.

Matt brought their intertwined hands into his lap and used his spare hand to trace patterns into Shiro’s skin. Shiro was quiet, happy to watch as Matt sorted out his thoughts. Crinkles formed at the corners of Matt’s eyes as he stared down at their hands. The moon turned Matt’s face silver and his hair shone nearly blonde.

After a long moment, Matt tightened his grip on Shiro’s hand. “What if I fail?” His voice was weak as he spoke, not looking at the other boy.

A fond smile crept onto Shiro’s face. “You have the highest grade in the program, you’re going to completely ace the exam.”

“Yeah, but,” Matt peeked at Shiro from the corner of his eyes, “I’m dead last for the practical assessments. There’s not much point in sending me to space if I’m only useful theoretically.”

“We’ll figure it out.” Shiro’s voice was absolute.

“But–”

“We’ll make it, Matt, I promise. We’ll travel across the universe and see things that everyone else told us was impossible. We’ll witness the birth and death of stars and go down in history.” Shiro’s grin was manic with possibility. “Together,” he vowed.

Matt’s eyes widened and Shiro realised that at some point their foreheads had come together, only a breath of space left between their skin.

“Together?” Matt’s voice was stolen by the night air so quickly that Shiro almost missed the whispered question.

The stars reflected back at him through Matt’s eyes. Shiro gently ran his fingertips across Matt’s cheek, Matt leaned into the touch, his eyes half fluttering closed. Shiro’s tongue darted out and wetted his wind-chapped lips.
Matt leaned forward, their foreheads touched and their noses brushed against each other. Warm air covered Shiro’s lips as Matt breathed out through his mouth.

Shiro closed the distance.

Matt’s mouth was warm and pliant against his, his body melted against Shiro’s as Shiro moved his fingers against Matt’s cheek to cup his jaw. Matt’s hands snaked around to the back of Shiro’s head and grasped at the baby hairs at the nape of his neck. Shiro slid his spare hand down to curve around Matt’s waist and pulled the other boy closer.

He carefully parted Matt’s lips and ran the tip of his tongue along his bottom lip. Matt moaned into his mouth and dug his fingers into the back of Shiro’s neck. Shiro kissed him slowly, letting his fingers canvas Matt’s face and his tongue trace the silky soft interior of Matt’s mouth.

When they pulled back, red faced from lack of breath and nervousness, their breaths left huffs of fog lingering in the air. Matt leaned forward to press their foreheads together again, neither ready to part further.

Shiro ran a fingertip softly along Matt’s jawline. “Together,” he repeated, the words carrying the promise of forever.

 

Together…

The constellations were different, but the stars still comforted Shiro at the dead of night when sleep evaded him. He flexed his fingers, a convolution of foreign metal where soft skin once was, and attempted to find patterns amongst the stars.

Somewhere out there, Matt was alive. Shiro knew it in his bones.

He would find him, even if it took years of scouring the universe to do so.

Even if it killed him.

Chapter Text

Keith honestly had no idea how he had ended up where he had.

One minute he’d been happily having lunch with Shiro and the next he was being pressured into taking Allura to the local shopping centre to browse for a new eye shadow or foundation or something.

All because he just happened to mention that he had a few things to buy.

Of course he understood why his best friend would want him to get along with his girlfriend, but now what would have been a ten-minute shopping trip had turned into almost an hour.

Allura was talking to one of the makeup artists at the store, her hand gestures growing more animated by the second. The woman helping her was holding a range of bottles that resembled Allura’s skin tone as well as what appeared to be at least five different containers of glitter.

By the look of it, the outing wasn’t ending anytime soon.

Keith slumped against the wall closest to the exit. He pulled out his phone and typed a message to Shiro, then reread the message, decided that it was too harsh and deleted it.

“God, the things I could do to you,” a sultry voice drawled out. Looking up, Keith was met with an expanse of golden skin that literally seemed to glow.

The man standing before him grinned shamelessly. His eyes were lined with ink, dark streaks trailing from the outer corners of his eyes before ending in a point. When he blinked Keith noticed that glitter covered his eyelids. Keith had seen a decent amount of makeup in his life, but never on a man before.

Keith tucked his phone away. “Hello.”

“I’m Lance.” The man held out a hand.

Keith took it hesitantly. “Keith.”

Lance’s hand was warm against Keith’s skin – his fingernails were a vibrant blue. An island was painted on his ring fingernail.

“Has anyone ever told you that you have a great face?” Lance asked.

Keith blinked, pulling his hand back from Lance’s. “I, no?”

"Well you do. With a face like yours I would wear winged liner everyday.”

Keith didn’t point out that Lance was very clearly already wearing eyeliner. “I wouldn’t even know where to start.” Keith shrugged.

Lance jumped back, his hand flying to rest over his heart. A strand of his hair dropped across his forehead. “Blasphemy! What do you mean you can't do winged eyeliner? With a face like yours it'd be a crime not to!"

Lance wrapped an arm around Keith’s shoulders and led him to one of the stools. Keith glanced over at Allura, wide eyed and pleading, but her eyes were closed as the makeup artist carefully spread glitter over her eyelids.

Lance noticed his gaze and scoffed. “You're only here to wait for your friend? I don't think so, buddy. Sit your ass down in my chair so I can teach you the ways of contouring.”

Keith sat.

Lance reached up to fix the strand of hair and Keith realised that the deep blue of his nails matched the colour of his eyes exactly. He leaned forward, bracing one hand on the table in a way that emphasized the muscle of his bicep, and began pulling out bottles and brushes.

“Ivory?” Lance pulled out a bottle of foundation and frowned. “No. Porcelain?” He held a different bottle up to Keith’s cheek and nodded. “Yes. Your skin is so pale, it’d be difficult to find anything in your range at a lesser store.”

Keith wasn’t sure how to respond to the comment – he hadn’t ever encountered the problem before and doubted he ever would in the future. Lance smeared a blob of the paint-like substance onto a pink sponge and Keith stiffened as he pressed it to Keith’s cheek.

It was strangely relaxing, having his face repeatedly caressed by the soft sponge. Keith closed his eyes and allowed Lance to tilt his head gently as he applied the foundation.

From Allura’s direction someone laughed. “Don’t go overboard with the highlighter, not everyone wants to look like they fell in a bucketful of the stuff,” a feminine voice called.

Lance scoffed. “I am a radiant Goddess, thank you very much.”

The sponge was pulled away and, after moment, replaced with Lance’s warm fingers. He smeared cream across Keith’s cheeks, forehead, nose and chin before the sponge returned to blend it in. A few creams later Keith opened his eyes to find someone that he didn’t quite recognise as himself looking back at him from the mirror.

His face was slimmer, somehow, and his cheekbones were accentuated. Keith blinked and turned back to face Lance. The makeup artist was holding an impossible amount of containers, Keith swore that at least half of them were glitter.

“Now,” Lance announced, “onto the fun part.”

 

All in all, being doted on by an attractive man with zero boundaries wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened to Keith. And if it took him an hour to get the makeup off that night, the phone number on his hand more than made up for it.

Chapter Text

When Keith opened the door to find Lance on the other side, he was tempted to slam it closed. Lance’s face was almost impossible to make out behind the soft pink flowers sprouting out from the box in his hands, but Keith didn’t need to see his mouth to know that he was smiling that big cheery grin he had brought with him every time he had shown up at Keith’s door.

“This is the fourth time this week.” Keith groaned. “Can’t you just keep them?”

Lance rolled his eyes and held out the bouquet, one of the pale flowers fluttered down to land on his shirt. “You’re grumpy today. If anyone should be complaining it’s me, why do you live on such a goddamn hill?”

Keith took the flowers reluctantly – the flowers ranged from tiny pink wildflowers to magnificent pink and white speckled roses.

Lance motioned towards the back of the bouquet, where a pale pink note sat nestled in amongst the flowers. “Another secret admirer?” Lance asked.

Keith plucked out the note and read it before tossing it to Lance. “The same admirer,” Keith announced.

Lance’s face softened as he read it, he gently slipped the card back into the nest of flowers. “I think it’s sweet,” Lance remarked.

“I think it’s annoying,” Keith replied.

Lance laughed and ran a hand through his hair. He leaned against the doorframe and smiled at Keith.

“So,” he said, “how’s that essay going?”

Keith groaned and buried his head in the flowers. “Please don’t remind me.”

Lance laughed harder. Keith peeked out from between the flowers to watch as Lance’s face lit up, he hid his grin amongst the wildflowers.

 

Keith watched Lance walk back down the street – which he supposed could be called a hill – to his delivery bike before he closed the door. He walked into his living room and set the pink flowers next to three other almost identical boxes, one red, one white and one blue. Each overflowed with flowers of that colour, beautiful but confusing.

Each note said the same few words: I hope this brings you happiness.

 

Two days later Keith opened the door to the familiar sound of Lance’s knuckles against the door. In his hands was a purple box bursting with vivid purple flowers.

Keith took the box and smiled at Lance, leaning against the doorframe. Lance’s eyes swept over Keith’s body and he grinned, far too cheerful for that early in the morning.

“You’ve slept, I see,” Lance commented.

The sound that escaped Keith’s throat was almost a laugh. “Yeah, I finished the essay. I’m free from courses for the next month and a half, thank God.”

Lance laughed, the sound was so boisterous and alive that Keith swore he could feel it against his skin. He turned his face towards the bouquet in his hands as a distraction and waited for his heartbeat to slow.

The sweet scent of the flowers perfumed the air. Keith’s nostrils flared. “Does this have lavender?” he asked.

Lance had pulled out his order form. He looked up at Keith’s words and shrugged. “Probably. Why?”

Keith held the flowers out to Lance, his spare hand moved to cover his nose and mouth. “I’m allergic to lavender. Take it back.”

Lance grabbed the flowers, only to blink and try to hand them back a second later. “Wait, no. You have to take them, it’s my job!”

“I can’t.” Keith folded his hands across his chest.

“Goddammit, pretty boy.” Lance groaned and held the flowers right under the other boy’s nose. “Take the freaking flowers!”

Keith blinked. Lance blinked.

Red crept up Lance’s neck and across his cheeks.

Keith’s heart fluttered in his chest.

 

Shiro ran a fingertip across the silky underside of a sunflower petal, at the counter Allura took money from an older man in exchange for a dozen red roses. The man nodded towards Shiro as he departed the floristry.

“Thinking of choosing yellow next?” Allura asked.

Shiro chuckled. “Maybe. If they don’t figure it out soon I may run out of colours.”

Allura laughed, as soft and beautiful as the flowers surrounding them.

 

Across the city Keith clutched a purple card to his chest. On one side it read: I hope this brings you happiness.

On the other, in messy scribble, was Lance’s phone number.

Chapter Text

The rhythmic thud of footsteps rushing through the corridor woke Keith. He reached over for his phone and groaned, blinded by the backlit screen. When his eyes recovered he groaned again, for an entirely different reason.

It was three minutes past midnight.

Keith kicked away the blankets and pulled a shirt and pants on. He stumbled to his door and pulled it open, ready to cuss out whomever it was that had decided that midnight was the appropriate time to do laps in the hallway.

The corridor was filled with young adults. It seemed that everyone in the building was awake. Keith reached out and stopped one girl.

“What’s going on?” Keith asked. “I didn’t hear an alarm.”

The girl shook her head as laughter bubbled up from her throat. “It’s not a fire. Some idiot is outside reciting poetry.”

Keith blinked. “It’s midnight. On a Tuesday.”

“Tell him that.”

She rushed forward to catch up with her friends and Keith let the crowd pull him towards the second–floor balcony.

Please don’t let it be my idiot, Keith thought.

The balcony was bursting with people. Keith was almost elbowed in the face twice as he struggled to make his way to the front. A familiar voice travelled up from the ground.

“Your hair is a disaster,
that Goddamn awful mullet,
I mock and tease and pester,
but I secretly quite love it.

Oh, you may not have remembered me,
my love with eyes of blue,
but at some point I found somehow,
my heart belonged to you.”

Keith pushed through to stand at the front and grimaced. Lance was in the centre of the garden, standing on an old tree stump as he screamed his poetry at the crowd. In his hands were, Keith could only assume, multiple pages worth of poetry.

“I know– Babe!” Lance’s face lit up as he spotted Keith amongst the crowd. He fumbled with the pages in his hands. “You’re here, wait I’ll start from the beginning again.” The crowd, as a collective, made a loud sound of discontent.

“What are you doing?” Keith called down. The crowd around him rustled with sound as Keith revealed himself as the subject of the poems.

Lance grinned. “I’m winning you back, of course. If the poems aren’t working I have songs here too.”

“No! No. Just…” Keith pinched the bridge of his nose. “Just come inside so we all can go back to sleep.”

“Does this mean you’re taking me back?”

“Yes, idiot. Just come inside.” Keith turned, red creeping up his throat, and addressed the crowd. “I’m sorry for the disturbance.”

The crowd began to depart, breaking off in chunks as people drifted towards their own floors. One of the girls beside him leaned forward, the edge of her mouth twitching into a smirk as if what she was going to tell him was a secret.

“Keep him,” she whispered. “He’s head-over-heels for you.”

 

Lance’s feet were cold against Keith’s bare legs. They lay facing the ceiling, Lance pressed as close to Keith’s side as physically possible, with their legs tangled.

You’re an idiot,” Keith mumbled. “I hate you.”

Lance turned his head and laughed into Keith’s neck. He settled moments later, his breath warm against Keith’s neck. “But not really, right?” Lance whispered.

“No, not really,” Keith replied. “Although, I hope you realise that there are easier ways to reconcile after a fight.”

Lance smiled. “I know.” They lay in silence for a while, their breaths slowly falling into synch. Keith had just begun to drift back to sleep when Lance continued. “I don’t want us to become boring. I don’t want us to get bored of one another.”

Keith reached over and ran his fingers through Lance’s hair. “We won’t,” he promised.

Lance’s body relaxed into Keith’s side.

Keith’s eyes fluttered shut once more, his breathing smoothed out as he drifted in the hazy middle ground between consciousness and unconsciousness.

“’Mullet’ and ‘Love it’ don’t really rhyme. I wonder if they noticed.”

Keith yanked the pillow out from under Lance’s head and pressed it down against the other boy’s face.

Chapter Text

The door flew open with a deafening thud as Lance raced into Pidge’s room. Hunk followed behind him at a calmer pace, he carefully closed the door behind him.

Pidge sat on their bed, earphones plugged into their ears with a bottle of green nail polish in their hand. Pidge didn’t even flinch at the two boy’s entrance, instead they carefully painted a stripe down the middle of their largest toenail.

Lance could hear the loud beat of the music coming through Pidge’s earphones from across the small room. He watched as Pidge dipped the brush in the bottle and painted the sides of their toenail in two clean strokes.

“Pidge,” Lance whined after a moment. “Pidge, come on. You’ve gotta be curious, right?”

Pidge sighed and closed the nail polish, setting it beside them on their bedside table. They pressed a button on their iPod and pulled their earphones out.

“What?” Pidge grumbled.

Lance grinned. “We’re ditching detention. You have to hide us.”

“This wasn’t my idea, by the way,” Hunk interjected. Lance sent him a betrayed look.

Pidge scrunched their face up. “No.”

“It’s in the friendship contact, you’ve gotta.”

“Ugh. Fine.” Pidge rolled their eyes and picked the green nail polish back up, shaking the bottle gently. “But don’t bump me, I just cleaned these sheets.”

Lance flopped onto the bed, stealing one of Pidge’s pillows and propping it under his chin. Hunk sat carefully on the bed, tucking his feet under him – he leaned forward to watch as Pidge painted a seventh toenail.

“Would it be rude to ask…” Hunk questioned.

Pidge shrugged, painting an eighth nail. “I like to feel pretty sometimes. Back when I was Katie this was a good way to do that. It’s a habit I kept, even after realising I was nonbinary.”

The boys were silent as Pidge finished painting the last two toenails. Pidge’s nails gleamed a deep forest green that stood out against their pale skin. Pidge searched through a box beside their bed and exchanged the green polish for a clear bottle filled with glitter.

As Pidge painted the glitter onto the driest nail Lance leaned forward.

“Glitter nails, that’s the coolest thing ever,” Lance announced.

Pidge carefully continued to cover their toenails with the glitter. “I could paint yours for you if you want,” they offered. “I paint Keith’s for him sometimes.”

A competitive glint shone in Lance’s eyes. “What colour did he get?”

“Red.”

“What’s the opposite of red?” Lance asked.

“Blue,” Hunk answered, leaning forward to admire Pidge’s nails.

“Actually–” Pidge began.

“I want blue.”

Lance reached over and picked up the box beside Pidge, it was filled with a rainbow of colours. He dug through and found a clear royal blue polish. Pidge sighed and painted the last of their toenails.

Hunk reached for the box and pulled out a few different colours, holding them out next to his fingernails as if comparing them.

Pidge took the blue polish from Lance and shook it. “Give me your hand,” they commanded.

Lance obeyed, laying his hand down on Pidge’s leg. Pidge began to carefully apply the nail polish to Lance’s nails, starting with a stripe down the centre and filling in the sides with neat strokes.

The repetitive movement of the brush against Lance’s nails was surprisingly relaxing. Lance closed his eyes, setting his other hand beside the first for later. Pidge painted quickly, they moved onto his second hand only a few minutes after beginning the first. After a short while Pidge announced that they were finished.

The blue nail polish was startling bright when paired with Lance’s tan skin.

Lance loved it.

“If you want glitter you’re going to have to wait a few minutes for the paint to dry,” Pidge explained. “Don’t touch it.”

Pidge turned to hunk and raised an eyebrow. Hunk flushed with colour as he shyly held out a bottle of sunshine yellow polish.

Lance watched as Pidge painted Hunk’s nails. Pidge’s hands were as steady painting as they were whilst working with advanced technology and it was almost mesmerising to watch. It took Pidge three confident strokes of the brush to turn each of Hunk’s nails yellow.

The colour was much brighter than Lance’s, but Lance thought that it reflected Hunk’s caring attitude well.

When Hunk was finished, and admiring his own nails with a grin, Pidge turned back to Lance and grabbed the bottle of glitter polish from beside them. The glitter came sporadically, clumping in some places and only scattering in others.

Lance held his fingers up once Pidge was finished.

The glitter made Lance’s fingernails look like they were made of galaxies.

Chapter Text

They had found him. Matt had been shipped across the galaxy to a remote mining planet and he had worried that he would never see his family again, that he would never see Shiro again.

But they had found him and he and the other prisoners – the ones that had mocked him for never giving up hope – had been saved.

He’d expected Shiro, always more than willing to put himself in danger to save somebody he cared about, but not Katie. Not Pidge.

Gone was the delicate little sister he was used to, instead the person who had stood before him was strong and brave and confident. They had led the prisoners to safety flawlessly, never once faltering.

But later, when the flying castle had made it out of the danger zone, it had been his younger sibling who had wrapped their arms around him and held on as tight as they could. They were family, no matter which name or gender they went by.

Shiro waited on the outskirts of the room. Matt swore that he could almost feel Shiro’s gaze as he reunited with Pidge. It was only when Pidge was called away to help the Princess with a set of ancient translation devices that Matt noticed that Shiro had slipped away.

Matt made his way through a door at the edge of the room and rested his back against the cool wall. He closed his eyes and breathed, pressing his fingers over his heart and waiting for the erratic beating to slow.

Matt had never been great at parties, people overwhelmed him easily when he was left without a familiar face to centre him. He knew, logically, that the sight of the man so important to Pidge intrigued Pidge’s teammates. But all the curious eyes only served to remind Matt of the gladiator arena that had claimed the lives of so many prisoners.

Once his heart relaxed, Matt wandered down the corridor to where a familiar silhouette stood. The corridor opened onto the night sky, millions upon millions of stars shone over a balcony. Shiro stood at the edge of the balcony – he stiffened at Matt’s approach.

Matt leaned beside him, resting his elbows against the polished metal of the railing. Shiro picked at his gloves, removing invisible threads from the material.

“I like the hair.” Matt grinned. “Make’s you look wise.”

Shiro snorted, his eyes focused on the vast shimmering velvet of space.

Matt’s smile fell. “Why won’t you look at me?” he asked.

Shiro winced. “I am looking at you.” To prove his point his eyes flickered to meet Matt’s for a brief moment.

“Shiro, if you’ve found someone else, if you’ve moved on…” Matt’s sentence trailed off. He didn’t want to think about a world without Shiro.

“No,” Shiro whispered, his voice hoarse. “No, it’s not… I could never… You’re it for me.” He turned to Matt with wide eyes.

“Then why are you so far away?” Matt’s voice broke in the middle of his sentence. He closed his eyes tightly for a second as he attempted to pull himself together.

Shiro shifted on his feet. “Things are different now. I’m different now.” He glanced down at his hands, fiddling with his gloves. “I’m not sure you’ll still want this – me.”

“Did you suddenly decide to stop putting 110% of your energy into everything you do? Did you suddenly stop caring more than anyone else I know? Did you wake up one day and decide that you weren’t going to help those less fortunate than you?”

“No.” Shiro frowned, he opened his mouth to continue but Matt cut him off.

“I fell in love with the man who looked out at the stars and said that he was going to make a difference. The man who said that he wasn’t going to stop until he had made sure that everybody had a place to call home and feel safe.” Matt held Shiro’s gaze as he spoke. “I don’t care how different you are, I care about whether or not you still are that man.”

“I am.”

“Then I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Shiro pulled the glove off of his right hand. Rather than the pale skin Matt was used to, gleaming metal was revealed. Shiro curled his metal fingers into his palm, avoiding Matt’s eyes.

“I don’t remember much, but when I landed back on Earth it was there,” Shiro explained.

Matt reached over and gently pried the metal fingers apart. Shiro attempted to jerk out of his grip but Matt slid his hand against the metal and intertwined their fingers.

Shiro stared down at their joined hands.

“You’re it for me.” A smile crept across Shiro’s face as Matt echoed his earlier words back at him.

Chapter Text

Allura crumpled to the floor, pressing her back against her bedroom door and scrunching her eyes closed.

It was a great day, really. The paladins were working well as a team, the Galra hadn’t found them and were nowhere close, and Coran had made Allura’s favourite food for breakfast.

But Allura ached. It felt like the air had been torn from her lungs. Every breath was agony, like razors tearing at her throat. She curled into herself, bending her knees and bringing them to her chest.

Sometimes being strong and wise and brave just wasn’t enough.

She was supposed to be young and carefree – happy. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that she had to wake up every morning to the knowledge that she was never going to see anyone she loved ever again. Her whole world was gone, and she couldn’t bring it back, not her father, not the flowers she loved, nothing.

The pain – the longing – would hit her unexpectedly. Her mind would get so wrapped up in training the new paladins that just for a moment she would forget what happened. And later, it would all come rushing back like a hit to the chest that managed to crush every single one of her ribs.

She was alone.

Some days she would lock herself away in one of the many storage rooms, engage the soundproof system, and scream until her body collapsed.

There were times when she hated the human friends she had made. If they had never come she would have been able to stay asleep, to stay oblivious. If they had never come she would never have grown attached to them. No matter how long they lived, a human life span would never be anything more than a brief moment to an Altean.

Coran was over six hundred years old. By the time Allura reached that age every last one of her paladins would be no more than dust.

It was so easy for her to forget that they were different. As much as Allura wished and dreamed, she and Coran were the last Alteans. She had been trained to lead, but what was the point of being a ruler if you had no one left to rule.

Allura reached up and twisted her fingers into her hair. She pulled the strands, revelling in the pain as her mind focused on the physical rather than the emotional.

All she wanted was to go home.

She knew she wasn’t the only one, Lance wanted to return home, Pidge wanted to find the people that were their home, Coran…

Coran was the only other person who knew what it felt like to long for a place that no longer existed. She never discussed it with him, but Allura knew that losing her father’s artificial Intelligence had loosened something inside of the other Altean. They both had too little of their home left, losing King Alfor had shocked them into reality.

Her father was gone. Everyone, everything, was gone.

No matter how hard she screamed, no matter how many times she punched and kicked and cried, it was never going to be enough to bring Altea back.

Allura didn’t know how to live with that. The knowledge settled deep in her chest and weighed her down.

She wasn’t old enough to deal with everything.

She feared she never would be.

Chapter Text

Fire blossomed in the distance. The thunderous sound of manmade explosions ricocheted through the air. The blasts sent goosebumps across Keith’s arms, despite the warm interior of his jacket sleeves.

The Garrison officials hurried to their trucks, rounding up all available security and speeding towards the blast zone. Keith started his vehicle – a modified motorbike that operated in ways similar to a small aircraft – and flew to the opposite side of the base. He landed silently and made his way to the main setup.

The doctors surrounding the patient were easy targets. Unprepared to defend themselves, they fell limp with a few well-aimed hits. Keith reached out and tilted the unconscious man’s face towards him and felt his heart sink into his stomach.

Shiro. It was Shiro.

He didn’t allow his mind to react to the startling discover. He couldn’t, it wouldn’t take long for the guards to recognise the diversion for what it was. Keith checked over his shoulder as he gently lifted Shiro from the table, pulling one of the older man’s arms across his shoulder.

“Nope. No, no, no, no, no. Nope.”

Keith looked towards the door and stiffened.

In front of him, flanked by two others, stood Lance McClain. His tan skin was dulled under the florescent lighting and his hair was windblown but his eyes were wide and so blue and Keith never forgot a face. Lance McClain was arrogant and clumsy and stubborn, they’d clashed back when Keith still attended the academy.

Lance McClain was also the man Keith had been crushing on for years.

“No you don’t.” Lance stepped forward and slid his body under Shiro’s other arm, mirroring Keith’s position. “I’m saving Shiro.”

There hadn’t been an abundance of face-to-face communication between the two of them at the academy, with Lance being in a different pilot rank than Keith. Up close Lance’s eyes were framed by think black lashes. Keith struggled with words for a moment. He wanted to talk to the pretty boy he’d admired from afar for so long, wanted to say something smart and suave and memorable.

Instead Keith said, “Who are you?”

Keith wanted to bash his head against a brick wall. His first instinct when faced with an uncomfortable situation had always been to run, or distance himself in any way he could.

Pain gleamed in Lance’s eyes. It passed through the blue irises so quickly that had he blinked, Keith would have missed it entirely.

“Who am I? Uh, the name’s Lance,” Lance drawled, his voice carried an easy tone of offence. “We were in the same class at the Garrison.”

“Really, are you an engineer?”

“No, I’m a pilot. We were like rivals.” Lance leaned closer to Keith, causing Shiro’s weight to shift between them. “You know, Lance and Keith, neck and neck.”

“Oh wait, I remember you,” Keith announced, letting his eyes roam over Lance’s face as if he were remembering the other man. Lance’s cheekbones stood out elegantly as he smiled. Lance’s grin dropped at Keith’s next words. “You were a cargo pilot.”

“Well not anymore, I’m fighter class thanks to you washing out,” Lance snapped. A rush of pride coursed through Keith’s bloodstream. He had always known the other man had potential, he had seen it during Lance’s first flight simulation. Lance acted on instinct, rather than logic. It was one of Keith’s favourite things about him.

“Well, congratulations,” Keith replied, and meant it.

The sharp note of a siren cut through the silence, and was quickly joined by many more. Keith didn’t need to exchange a look with Lance to know that they need to go, now.

As quickly as they could manage with Shiro’s bulk between their bodies, Keith and Lance headed towards the rock that Keith had stashed his bike behind. Lance’s two companions caught up to them, the larger of the two – Hunk, Keith recalled – seemed to be doing everything in his power not to force them to go any faster than they were.

They arrived at Keith’s bike and carefully secured Shiro in place. Keith couldn’t help but stare at the man he considered a brother. Everybody had said that Shiro was dead, so much so that even Keith had begun to question the possibility of it being true. Seeing Shiro alive lifted the weight that had melded to Keith’s body like a second skin.

“Uh, do you mind if we catch a ride with you?” Keith blinked and turned his gaze to the group beside him at Hunk’s words.

Lance was so close, if Keith were to reach out… He forced his eyes to focus on Lance’s companions instead.

Hunk he recognised from his time in the academy, even back then the larger man had stuck to Lance’s side like glue. The younger member though, was familiar to Keith in a different way. Keith recognised Lance’s other friend in the vague, haze-filled way that usually meant that he didn’t know their face directly but rather, was familiar with a relative of theirs.

The ground trembled as the Garrison soldiers advanced towards the five of them.

Keith’s eyes made their way back to Lance without Keith’s consent. His mouth moved before he could process what he was saying.

He told the group to climb onto the bike.

Chapter Text

Lance hauled the tray of cupcakes up from the bottom layer of the fridge. He brought it out to the display case and slid it in towards the top of the shelves. The cupcakes fit in nicely amongst the chocolate croissants and blueberry scones.

Vanilla cupcakes with white buttercream icing – they didn’t seem like much, but delicate fondant flowers in a range of bright colours topped them. The flowers were made individually by hand, each petal carefully crafted in the kitchen of the small bakery.

The cupcakes were the star of the bakery.

Matt brought out the second tray of cupcakes and set them carefully beside the first. He bumped Lance out of the way with his hip as he moved over to unlock the front door and switch the sign from closed to open.

Lance’s noise crinkled when Matt returned to his side. “Are you wearing cologne?” Lance asked.

“No. Of course not,” Matt spluttered.

“Of course not, what?” Pidge questioned as they walked down from the apartment above the bakery.

“Your brother is wearing cologne.”

A smirk crept across Pidge’s face. “He didn’t tell you? While you were off sick we gained a couple new customers. Matt here has a crush on one of them.”

Matt leaped forward and secured a hand across Pidge’s mouth, but the damage was already done. Matt’s cheeks burned red as he stuttered out a denial.

“A crush, huh? And he didn’t even tell me.” Lance grinned. “Tell me everything, gender, hair colour, eye colour, do they have a nice ass?”

“Shut up, Lance,” Matt pleaded. Pidge wriggled under their sibling’s grip and Matt jumped away, wiping his palm against Pidge’s sleeve. “How many times have I told you not to lick me?”

Pidge laughed and dashed towards the front of the shop, as they exited they sent a meaningful look back towards the two men.

Matt sighed. “How you manage to survive with so many younger siblings astounds me, Lance.”

“Oh no. Don’t change the subject, tell me about this cru–”

Lance groaned and bent forward as Matt’s arm collided with his stomach. The bell over the doorway chimed and Lance stood, expecting to find Pidge on the other side of the counter – Pidge was well known for forgetting school supplies.

Instead Lance’s eyes were blessed with the sight of the two hottest men he had ever seen.

The taller of the two stepped forward. His arms and shoulders were rippled with defined muscles, ink covered the skin of his arms and it took a second glance for Lance to realise that one of the man’s arms was an artfully designed prosthetic. His dark hair was clipped short along the sides, but fell across his forehead in a tuft of pure white.

Lance’s mind spun with ideas of what he could do to a man like that.

When Lance’s eyes flicked over to the other man, his brain stopped working altogether. Where the first man had solid muscle, this man had curves. He had leaned back against the wall of the bakery to wait as his companion purchased their food. Lance admired the subtle outline of muscles showing through the man’s dark shirt before allowing his gaze to travel upwards. An eyebrow ring was half obscured by a lock of the man’s dark hair.

The man’s untamed hair framed his face and fell down to cover his neck.

Lance blinked. He rubbed a hand over his eyelids and looked again.

The man was undeniably the most attractive man Lance had ever encountered – and he had a mullet.

Matt’s laugh cut through the air and caught Lance’s attention. Matt’s elbows rested on the counter as he leaned closer to the tall customer, a paper bag sat between them. Lance watched as his friend fluttered his eyelashes and smiled up at the man.

Querido Dios, this was more than a crush. Matt was infatuated. And from the man’s wide grin, the feeling was mutual.

Almost as if he could feel Lance’s gaze the man looked over at him.

“Hey, you must be Lance. I’m Shiro,” he said, holding a hand out to Lance.

Lance smiled and shook Shiro’s hand. “Nice to meet you. Matt’s told me a lot.”

From behind Shiro’s back, Matt gaped. Lance chuckled, his eyes darting back to the other customer.

Shiro noticed. “Oh,” he said, “That’s Keith. Sorry, he’s not the most social.”

Keith rolled his eyes at Shiro’s words and held up his phone. The time flashed across the screen.

Shiro laughed and picked up the paper bag. He turned back to Matt. “I’ll see you tomorrow then?” Shiro asked.

Matt opened his mouth and gaped at the other man for a moment before flushing with colour and nodding instead. It seemed to be enough for Shiro because he sent one last smile Matt’s way and walked over to the door.

Lance’s eyes tracked Keith as he followed Shiro out onto the street.

Beside him, Matt slumped forward and smacked his head against the counter.

Chapter Text

It took almost two weeks of daily visits to the bakery for Lance to gain even a smidgen of Keith’s attention. Every morning Keith would follow Shiro in and stand stolidly against the wall while Lance tried his best to gather the courage to approach him.

Matt, however, needed no help in attracting Shiro’s attention. The tattooed man was absolutely smitten. He would spend close to half an hour some days flirting with Matt, whose face was only just beginning to remain a normal colour.

On one such morning, Lance was so absorbed in his friend’s adorable mess of a love life that he didn’t even realise Keith had stepped up to the other side of his counter until the other man spoke.

“They really need to get a room before one of them explodes,” Keith remarked.

Lance couldn’t prevent the way his body flinched at the sudden proximity. Keith lifted his eyebrow, the one with the silver ring threaded through it, at the display.

“I’m Lance,” Lance blurted out.

Keith’s face scrunched up as he sent Lance a concerned look. “I know.”

Lance’s ears burned. He couldn’t meet Keith’s gaze so his eyes scanned over the row of pastries in front of him instead. “Uh, yeah but we haven’t really been, like, officially introduced. So… hi?”

“Hi.” Keith glanced over at Shiro and let out an audible sigh.

The taller man glanced over and rolled his eyes before leaning close to Matt and saying something that made the other man blush. Shiro smiled and waved his goodbye to Lance as he made his way to the exit.

Keith stepped away from the counter and paused, turning back to Lance. “See you around, Lance.”

A grin snuck onto Lance’s face. “Looking forward to it.”

Chapter Text

The lone sock rested in the middle of the room, a bright, neon blue symbol of laziness. Keith had half a mind to throw it out, never mind the fact that somewhere in the world was its twin. He would have shrugged it off and placed it carefully in the top draw of the dresser, but the way it was left – half turned inside out with a long strand of hair stuck to the exposed sole – made it pretty clear that it wasn’t an item that had fallen from the pile of clean laundry he had folded an hour ago. Not to mention that he was certain he would remember a sock that shockingly bright.

Keys jingled as the front door unlocked and swung open. Rich, cheerful laughter echoed through the apartment. Lance was still giggling when he walked into the room, although it died off when he spotted Keith.

“Babe? What’s wrong?” Lance inquired.

Keith lifted a hand towards the sock. “Look.”

“A… sock?”

“A mess.”

Lance groaned, running a hand over his face. “Who says it’s mine?”

“It’s certainly not mine. I don’t own colourful socks. I’m, as you have stated many times, boring. Remember?”

Lance reached down and picked the sock up between two fingers before carefully placing it in the laundry bin and closing the lip tight. “Better?” He teased.

A pout tugged at the edge of Keith’s mouth. “You can’t just leave dirty laundry on the floor, something could’ve–”

Nothing happened. Everything’s fine. Honestly babe, it’s just a sock.”

Lance walked over and draped his arms around Keith, sliding his hands under Keith’s shirt and resting them against the shorter man’s lower back. Keith’s muscles relaxed as the warmth of Lance’s skin seeped into him.

Lance pressed his lips against Keith’s neck. “Go to bed,” he murmured. Keith’s face warmed at the thought and Lance laughed against his skin. “Not like that . When’s the last time you slept?”

Lance pulled away to look him in the eye. After a moment Keith glanced away and shrugged. “‘m not sure.”

Lance sent him a stern glance and opened his mouth, probably to tell him how stupid he was being, when a cry resonated through the room. Keith perked up, every ounce of exhaustion fading from his body and reached for the baby monitor, only for Lance to snatch it up before his fingers could touch it.

“No. I’ve got this, go to sleep,” Lance commanded.

Keith allowed lance to gently guide him towards their room. When Lance parted from him to go into the nursery, Keith’s eyes followed him. He crawled into bed and fell asleep to the sound of Lance’s cooing in the next room.

 

It was late when Keith finally dragged himself out of slumber and stumbled into the nursery. Someone else might have missed lance, curled up in the rocking chair with his eyes on the stars and an infant in his arms. Keith stepped up behind him, quiet as to not disturb the baby.

“How’s our little lion doing?” Keith whispered.

Lance’s mouth pulled into a smile as his eyes switched from the night sky to the face of the sleeping child. He used a fingertip to gently brush the dark hair back from the baby’s forehead. “Good. Only had to feed him twice, he slept almost as long as you.”

“I’m sorry about the sock,” Keith murmured. “I just worry that we’re going to do something wrong or… I just worry.”

“I know. I’m sorry too.”

Outside, the moon escaped from behind a cloud and light shone across their faces. For a moment, they watched the thousands of millions of stars that lit up the sky.

“Do you ever miss it?” Keith wondered.

Lance’s eyes lingered on the stars, just for a moment, but afterwards they settled on the face of their sleeping son and remained.

“Not even for a second.”

Chapter Text

“You don’t understand. This is a matter of life or death, Hunk.” Lance’s voice was muted by the music playing gently through the speakers in the back of the store but his proximity to Hunk made it impossible not to hear him.

“Then ask him out? Or at least like, talk to him?” Hunk shrugged, leaning down and squinting at the chocolate surprise cookies on display. “What’s the surprise? peanut butter?”

Matt blinked, leaning over the display. “Yeah. How did you–”

Lance gaped, waving his hands in the air. “Ask him out? Have you no tact, man? That’s not how romance works, you need to charm them first.”

“I once watched Lance put peanut butter on pizza, it’s always the surprise in his recipes,” Hunk explained to Matt before turning to Lance and rolling his eyes. “Charm him then. And for the record, I’m the only one in this room who’s in a relationship. I think Shay can confirm that my methods work.”

Matt and Lance cringed, stepping away from Hunk despite the counter between them. They exchanged a look of disgust.

“Dude,” Lance exclaimed. “We don’t want to hear about your sex life.”

Hunk’s eyes bludged and he lifted his arms, holding out his palms in surrender. “That’s not, I wasn’t– Lance.

Below the barrier of the counter Lance reached over and bumped his fist against Matt’s. Hunk turned his gaze determinedly towards the pastries, refusing to meet his friends’ gazes.

The door chimed, letting in the sound of the busy midday shoppers on the street and drawing Lance and Matt’s gazes. Shiro stood in the doorway, blushing at the attention, wearing clothes that were considerably nicer than his usual attire. Lance realised, belatedly, that Keith and Shiro were probably stopping in during their morning workouts, which explained the tight clothes and early hour. Matt grabbed onto Lance’s wrist, pulling him away from the register roughly.

“Shiro, hey.” Matt grinned. “You’re here late, what can I get you?”

Lance glanced over and caught Hunk’s eye. Lance made a discreet gesture towards Shiro’s biceps in awe and Hunk rolled his eyes.

Shiro smiled back. “Matt. I figured I’d drop in and uh, see what you guys had when it comes to lunch?”

If Matt heard the uncertainty in Shiro’s voice, he didn’t show it. Instead, he stepped forward and motioned towards the range of baked goods they had for sale. “If you’re not looking for something baked, we have sandwiches. If there aren’t any you like I could make one for you.”

Shiro made no move towards the trays of carefully wrapped sandwiches. “Whatever you recommend.”

“Oh. Well I mean, are you allergic to anything?” Matt asked, twisting his fingers together as Shiro answered with a negative. “Okay, um, well my favourite is chicken but if that’s too plain…”

“Chicken is good.” Shiro’s eyes followed Matt as he walked across and rummaged through the sandwich display.

“So, are you on your lunch break. I mean, obviously you are.” Matt’s face scrunched up in embarrassment. “Do you work nearby?”

Red blossomed across Shiro’s cheeks and spread to his ears. “Not really. I work at the Garrison.”

The Garrison was a martial arts school, a prestigious one. Lance had worked there for a bit before Matt took pity on him and gave him his current job. He didn’t like to admit that his job had been secretarial in nature. Shiro though, looked like he would fit in perfectly amongst the ranks of skilled fighters.

The Garrison, however, was at least a twenty-minute drive from the bakery.

Matt didn’t seem to know what to say to that. He stood, clutching Shiro’s chicken sandwich to his chest and gaping at the taller man. After what felt like hours to Lance and must have felt like days to him, Matt spoke.

“Oh. That’s, that’s impressive.” Matt’s voice was two pitches too high but if Shiro’s spreading blush was anything to go by, his clumsy fumbling was working.

Shiro blinked, sweeping a strand of hair away from his eyes and focusing on the sandwich display. Matt returned to the register, punching in a price much less than that of the sandwich in his other hand. He wiped his hand on his pants before reading out the total. Shiro reached into his pocket and pulled out a ten-dollar note, passing it to Matt and lingering just a moment longer than necessary when their fingers touched. Matt gave him his sandwich and his change and the two men locked eyes, neither seeming to want to break the stare.

“I should go,” Shiro spoke, not breaking Matt’s gaze.

“Yeah,” Matt replied, eyes on Shiro.

After another long moment Shiro stepped back and walked out of the shop. Matt let out a breath and slumped onto the counter. His face was flushed and the look he sent towards Lance was helpless.

“Man, you’ve got it bad,” Lance said, breaking the silence.

A half hysterical laugh escaped Matt’s throat.

Matt lifted his body up to face Lance and opened his mouth to say something when the door to the shop opened in a swift movement. Shiro stepped back into the room and marched up to Matt, his face still a vicious shade of crimson.

“I’m sorry, please correct me if I’ve read the situation wrong.” Shiro cleared his throat roughly and looked directly at Matt. “But do you want to go on a date with me?”

Matt squeaked, his eyes wide as he looked at Shiro. After a minute he spoke. “Yeah, yes. Yes, I do.”

“Okay, good. Thank God.” Shiro’s face was a mix of relief and joy as he pushed a piece of paper into Matt’s hands. “Text me. I’d, I’d really like that.”

“I will,” Matt breathed out, fingers clutching the paper so tightly his knuckles were losing colour.

Shiro grinned and backed towards the door. “Great. I better get back, Keith’s covering for me.”

As Shiro went Lance was left with two thoughts.

The first being that Keith covering for him meant that he wasn’t on his lunch break as he’d claimed and had come this whole way specifically to ask Matt out which was adorable.

And the second, and more prominent thought – that Keith worked at the Garrison as well.

The image of Keith in his tight fitted clothes, body slick with sweat as he fought danced through Lance’s mind for the remainder of the day.

Chapter Text

The change had come on without warning, one moment Keith was ducking a blow from the Galra soldier he was fighting and then the soldier was stumbling back, eyes wide. Adrenaline coursed through his veins, more than ever before, and when he swung his sword it was with more strength than he should’ve had.

The flat of his sword hit the Galra soldier hard enough to split the skin of his cheek. When the soldier dropped, Keith ducked down and pressed his fingers to the man’s neck to check for a heartbeat. The Galra were bad, but that didn’t mean they deserved to die.

The narrow corridor of the Galra ship was lit by dim lights, casting purple shadows across the floor, shadows the same colour as the discolouration of Keith’s skin. He swore, running his fingers over the blotches on his skin. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it was the first time he knew what it meant.

He ignored Lance’s voice in the communicator in his helmet, asking what was wrong, why he’d sworn. The corridor was empty other than the unconscious soldier at his feet so he took a moment to close his eyes and focus on the warring heritages within him.

He thought of his father’s smile, of Lance’s tan skin and Shiro’s determined eyes. He thought of humanity, and urged his body to comply. But Keith’s mind contained more negative experiences than positive when concerning the small green and blue planet he had been born on and his thoughts soon strayed.

He remembered his father’s wheezing breaths as he sickened, the pitying eyes of his foster families as they returned him again and again, and the fury in his commanders’ eyes at the Garrison as he refused to give up on Shiro.

When he opened his eyes the discolouration had overtaken his pale skin, leaving him as just another Galran soldier.

He had to tell the others, in case they mistook him for the enemy, but the words caught in his throat.

“Keith?” Lance’s voice crackled in his ear.

Keith stepped forward, tightening his grip on his sword and deliberately avoiding looking at his arms. “I’m here.”

“You good, man? You cut out for a bit there.”

Keith knew that the concern in Lance’s voice came from a good place – even if it hadn’t he had no idea that the Keith he was speaking too wasn’t the Keith he recognised – but he couldn’t shake off the thought that it was pity motivating him. He’d been pitied too much already. He refused to let his teammates do so as well.

“I’m fine. Are you guys finished with the prisoners?” Keith replied, moving up the corridor slowly.

“Yeah, we’re making our way back to Blue and Yellow now. These Galra bastards keep coming out of the walls, though.” At the audible hitch in Keith’s breathing Lance continued, speaking quickly. “I didn’t, you know I don’t think they’re all, I just meant these particular Galra I didn’t mean you. I’m sorry, that came out wrong.”

“I know. It’s, it’s okay. I get it, don’t worry about me, Lance. Just get yourself and those prisoners to safety. I– Oh.” Keith’s words dried up as Shiro rounded the corner.

It was impossible to miss the way he flinched at Keith’s appearance. It took Shiro a moment to lower his weapon and another to speak. In Keith’s ear Lance was speaking but he couldn’t hear the words.

“Keith?” Shiro’s voice was uneven, tight with fear.

Keith hated the fact that he was hurting Shiro, but he didn’t know how to switch back to human. “It’s me. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

Shiro cleared his throat and moved his eyes over Keith’s body, lingering above his head where Keith knew his ears had grown.

“If any of you run into me, look twice before shooting.” Shiro’s voice was calm, despite the anxiety in his eyes. “Keith has shifted into his Galra form.”

“Oh,” Lance’s breathless exclamation was loud in his ear, tuning out the sounds of confirmation from the others. The soft gasp felt intimate, like Lance was standing by his side rather than hundreds of meters away on the other side of the enemy ship. Keith heard the tell-tale click that meant Lance had switched to a private channel. “Are you okay?”

With a glance at Shiro, Keith pressed the button on his helmet that allowed him to talk privately to Lance. “Yeah. It’s just… unexpected, that’s all. I don’t know how to switch back,” he admitted, quietly.

“Can you still fight?” Lance asked.

“Yeah.” Keith followed Shiro as the older man made his way down the corridor.

“Focus on the battle, then. This doesn’t have to be a problem unless you let it be. It makes no difference to me, or to the others I’m sure.” Lance’s voice lowered, quiet enough that had he been human Keith would have had to strain his ears to hear. “You’re still Keith. No matter what colour your skin is.”

A commotion ahead captured Keith’s attention and he lunged forward, blocking a shot meant for Shiro. Despite the other man’s discomfort, they knew each other and worked as one unit, back to back as they fought. Keith ducked as Shiro twisted around to shoot at a soldier with his Galran arm and Shiro stayed out of range of Keith’s blade as he swung. But when the battle was over, Shiro stepped away from Keith, putting as much distance between them as he could while remaining polite.

Rather than touching his hand to Keith’s shoulder as he usually would, Shiro gave him a weak smile and a nod of gratitude. He knew the older man wasn’t trying to be rude, knew that he was trapped in his memories and that it wasn’t Keith that was making him uncomfortable, just Keith’s skin but it didn’t make the distance sting any less.

 

On the trip home, Keith heard as the others laughed and congratulated one another but kept the camera in his lion off. Lance’s name popped up on the screen more than once but Keith denied the connection. If Lance needed to tell him something important he would say it over the group communicators.

When they landed he hurried off before the others had a chance to see catch him. He refused to meet Allura’s shocked gaze and Coran’s supportive smile, wandering down to the lesser-used corridors of the castle. He wasn’t avoiding them – he just knew that seeing Shiro’s nervous smile reflected in their faces would hurt too much.

He would just stay out of sight until his body relaxed enough to go back to normal, he decided.

 

There were two problems with Keith’s plan. The first being that he hadn’t brought any food with him and was forced to sneak up to the kitchen, where he ran into Hunk, who flinched, and Pidge, who stared at him like they were considering dissecting him in the name of science.

The second problem was that it had been three days and his skin was still an alarming shade of purple. With everyone’s erratic sleep schedule and the issue of the Universe needing their help, it was only a matter of time before he ran into the rest of them.

Every time he tried to sleep, lying on the cold floor of one of the many empty rooms in the castle, his mind brought fourth the image of Shiro’s scared eyes. Despite Lance’s words of encouragement during the mission, Keith knew it made his teammates uncomfortable to see him this way. They had all been programmed to view Galra as the enemy. Seeing one waiting at the breakfast table was bound to cause some friction within the team. Even Keith couldn’t help but shift into a fighting stance every time he caught his reflection staring back at his from the castle windows. He refused to put his teammates in the same position, both for their sakes and his own.

So as the third day in his Galran form ticked over into the fourth, he snuck upstairs and pulled his meagre pile of belongings into a bag. He left his extra clothes in the wardrobe, knowing they would stand out where he was going. The only non-essential thing that he allowed himself to tuck into the bag was a black leather bracelet with five tiny gems threaded through the material – a friendship bracelet Lance had made for each of the paladins.

He traced the smooth sides of the stones; the red and blue gems were strung so close together they were practically overlapping. Keith had thought it was a mistake at first, until he caught sight of Lance’s own bracelet and saw the jewels mirrored on his.

“Keith?” He dropped the bracelet at Lance’s hushed voice and it landed between them as he spun to face the doorway. Lance’s face fell as he noticed the bag. “You’re leaving?”

“I… I can’t stay.” Keith meant to explain about how uncomfortable he was making the others, but instead what came out was, “There’s so much I don’t know, yet.”

Lance stepped forward and picked up the bracelet. “What about Red?”

“Allura is the Princess of Lions. She can pilot her.” Keith reached out and took the bracelet from Lance’s hand, letting his fingers linger for a moment longer than necessary.

Lance’s voice was a whisper. “What about me?”

And there it was, the unspoken thing that had lingered between them since the beginning. “Lance…”

“Just come back, okay.” Lance’s smile was the most beautiful thing Keith had ever seen, even edged with sadness. “I… if this is something you need to do, then I understand. But promise me that when you’re finished, you’ll come back.”

He stepped forward and pressed his forehead against Lance’s, closing his eyes for a moment and breathing in Lance’s scent. “I’ll come back,” he promised.

He moved to the door, swinging the bag over his shoulder and slipping the bracelet onto his wrist.

“Keith?” He looked back at Lance’s words. “I was telling the truth, when we spoke during the mission. You’re still you, regardless of the colour of your skin.”

Keith repeated his earlier promise. “I’ll come back.”

 

Five months later, Keith returned in the middle of the night and showed up at Lance’s door in Galran fighting leathers.

“You were right,” Keith said.

The pale light of Lance’s lamp made Keith’s purple skin glow like midnight embers as he stepped forward and kissed him.

Chapter Text

The sunlight that peeked through the thin, blue curtains of Lance’s room was just barely heated enough to warm Keith’s skin. The sunshine cast shadows across Lance’s tan skin, dappling the silhouettes of leaves across his eyelids. Lance’s eyelashes fluttered as he let out a sigh – the first sigh that he was waking up.

It was Keith’s favourite thing to witness.

In the first few moments of waking Lance’s eyes were soft, free of the guarded glint he hid so well. For once he was more physical than vocal, soft hands reaching out and pulling Keith closer, warm breath across his shoulder, eyelashes fluttering against the skin of Keith’s neck.

There were days Keith let the process stretch on for close to an hour, treasuring every extra second he could spare with the beautiful man beside him.

Today, unfortunately, couldn’t be one of those days.

Keith gently unfurled Lance’s fingers from their position on his hip, bringing them to his lips and pressing a soft kiss to each fingertip before setting them down. He carefully repositioned Lance’s head from the crook of his shoulder to the pillow. Mindful not to pull the blankets away with him, he climbed out of the bed.

Instantly, he missed the warmth of Lance’s skin against his own. He tried to ignore the chill of the morning air, stretching his arms out above his head and looking around for his shirt.

“Babe?” Lance’s arms sent shivers across Keith’s skin as they slid around his waist and pulled him back towards the bed where he lay.

“I’ve got to go,” Keith mumbled, reaching down for his t-shirt.

Instead of picking it up, he tumbled back onto the bed at Lance’s firm tug. Lance pulled him closer, moving his fingers to Keith’s sides.

“You shouldn’t go,” Lance advised, a mischievous grin spreading across his face. “You’re an excellent pillow.”

Keith was attempting to move back to the side of the bed and stand when Lance struck. His fingers moved effortlessly over Keith’s sides, flirting against the skin and sending tingles across his body.

“I…” Keith squirmed, laughing as Lance’s fingers trailed across his ribs. “I can’t stay. I have a lecture in ten minutes. I’m already going to be late.”

“If you’re already going to be late you might as well just stay in bed,” Lance reasoned, hooking his leg over Keith’s waist and pulling him closer to stop him from getting up.

Lance,” Keith’s voice was firm but his eyes were shining with laughter. He moved closer to Lance, ducking his head into the other man’s neck to hide his smile.

“It’s that shitty critical theory subject, right? I took it last year, trust me you aren’t missing anything important.” Lance laughed at Keith’s groan of discontent, his fingers switching from their ticklish motions into soft touches. “Or I could just fill you in on what you miss.”

A year ago he would have made a comment about Lance’s less than attentive attitude towards his studies, but now Keith knew him well enough to understand that despite his joking mannerisms he was a dedicated student.

He relaxed in Lance’s arms, closing his eyes and letting the warmth of his boyfriend’s skin seep back into his own and chase off the cool morning air he had collected while attempting to get up. Lance’s arms tightened around him and his warm breath hit Keith’s ear.

“Stay,” Lance murmured, his voice already regaining the huskiness of sleep. His fingers moved to trail across Keith’s back in lazy movements, tracing stars and hearts into his skin.

And, yeah, maybe this was worth losing his perfect attendance.