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seeing him for the first time (again)

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Okay, eat the cracker,” Lance sing-songed, plastic wrapper crinkling in his hands as he passed off a Saltine to his boyfriend on the gurney.

Keith groaned, cracking his dark eyes open– and they immediately shot wide, wider, to an almost comical extent. Keith took the cracker from Lance’s extended hand, but his eyes never left the taller boy’s form.

“Did the doctor send you?” Keith asked reverently, mouth agape and cracker already forgotten. His voice was hoarse. “Are… Are you a model?”

Lance immediately started to laugh, tucking one of his legs under his chin and settling back into the creaky hospital chair. “No, no,” he chuckled, nerves being replaced with entertainment for now.

“Woah,” Keith said slowly, more breath than word. He was still for almost a full minute, eyes just roving over an increasingly uncomfortable Lance. He was about to call the doctor in and make sure everything was alright when Keith whispered, still wonderstruck: “You are the prettiest man i’ve ever seen.”

Lance felt the urge to laugh again but nothing came out. He just smiled, trying to calm him down, and said, “Keith, please eat the cracker… You’re waking up.”

“Who are you?” Keith demanded, excitedly putting his free hand to his cheek. “What’s your name?”

“Eat the cracker, Keith.”

“Did god send you? Are you an angel?” Keith didn’t look very frightened as this concept of being dead worked its way out of him. Lance ran a hand through his own hair, smiling wryly.

“Please, eat the cracker, Keith.”

“What’s your name?” Keith’s voice cracked, desperately, excitedly. “Please. Who are you?”

“My name is Lance,” Lance paused, nerves sitting uncomfortably in the bottom of his stomach– deep, in the part he never searched. He licked his lips and ran a hand through his unwashed hair. “I’m, um, I’m your fiancé.”

Keith shot up, eyes widening more than Lance even thought possible. He tried to sit up but only made it onto his elbows, and shook his head violently.

“You’re my fiancé ?” he almost yelled, wonderstruck, eyes hopeful and the corners of his mouth quirking up. “We're getting married? Holy shit. No way.”

Lance laughed quietly, shaking his head too. “I know what you mean, buddy.”

“Damn,” Keith whispered, settling down a little now, but his expression didn’t waver. “How long?”

“Just eat the cracker, Keith. You’re waking up,” Lance said patiently, fingers running up and down his thighs, rubbing the fabric, antsy.

But Keith was nothing if not stubborn. He set his jaw dramatically and urged Lance again: “How long?”

“Three years, Keith,” and Lance leaned forward to tuck a strand of Keith’s dark hair back behind the stretchy headband he had on. Lance couldn’t help but to smile as Keith’s look of awe continued to somehow grow.

“Three years. No way,” Keith said, breath tickling Lance’s face. Lance continued to comb through his hair. “No way. You wouldn’t, not with me… For three years.”

Lance sat in silence, his mouth now hanging open in surprise. He tried to wind up a response but Keith– ever-chatty Keith– interrupted.

“Man,” he said slowly, a small smile teasing the corners of his mouth up. “Have we kissed yet?”

Lance snorted, half entertained and half regretful that he wasn’t recording all of this.

“Keep eating your cracker, Keith,” was all he said. Keith struggled, taking a tiny nibble out of the Saltine before complaining again

“Aw, man. It’s so hard, baby, it’s hard,” and then Keith’s eyes shot wide open again and he looked at Lance with a renewed curiosity. “Wait. Do we call each other baby?”

“You never do,” Lance scoffed fondly, smiling and shaking his head.

“Oh,” Keith settled down again. “I should.”

“What?” Now it was Lance’s turn to sit up a little straighter.

“I should call you baby,” Keith was mumbling, head lolling from side to side. His focus kept switching from Lance to the cracker. “I don’t… I wanna hold on to you.”

“It’s okay, Keith, I’m not going anywhere,” Lance scooted a little closer, hand going back to Keith’s hair just for a moment, carding through it gently.

“You don’t understand,” Keith pouted, and a blush started creeping up his neck. He was insistent: “I hit the jackpot. You’re… Oh my god, you’re so beautiful.”

“Keith, please, just eat your cracker,” Lance’s voice was tender.

“Let me see your face,” Keith demanded.

“What? No,” Lance immediately scooted back a little, both confused and opposed to the request before he realized– he had a hat on. And drugged up Keith probably equated that with being… blind?

Man, anesthesia is a trip.

“Let me see your face,” Keith asked again, nodding his head on every word. He looked so excited, so hopeful that Lance couldn’t help but oblige.

The snapback came off to reveal unwashed, mussy hair that smelled like dry shampoo and KFC. Lance realized he hadn’t brushed his teeth since getting Keith to the hospital twelve hours ago and he could already feel the zits forming under his skin. He prickled under Keith’s unwavering stare, dark eyes roving his body, and then suddenly Keith threw his arm out and started searching for Lance’s hand.

“Your, you–” he was stuttering until he finally found Lance’s lap, and clutched at the tan hand sitting there. “Your eyes… You’re the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen.”

“I need to call a doctor, I think they might have fucked you up,” Lance laughed awkwardly, fondly, blushing darkly and casting his eyes down to the speckled tile floor.

Keith followed his eyes down, but was distracted halfway. “Hey, Lance… turn around for me.”

“What?” Now Lance just started to laugh, smile coming more naturally now. That boy sure liked his legs and ass. “Keith, no.”

“We’re dating?” Keith asked incredulously, softly, reverently.

“Engaged, babe,” Lance corrected gently.

“Wow,” Lance realized this was how Keith looked when he flew. Prayerful, eyes wide and full of wonder and hope, and god, it terrified him how happy this made him. Lance soaked in every awed sigh and devoted stare and he kept all these things in his heart.

“Did I get you that ring?” Keith interrupted Lance’s train of thought yet again with a whisper.

Lance smiled down at their intertwined hands, and at the simple white-gold band glinting up at him. “You did,” he said just as tenderly.

“It’s not good enough,” Keith said firmly, tugging Lance’s hand. “For you. It should be prettier.”

“Keith, no,” Lance was firm now, and let go of Keith’s hand so he could pick up his chair and move right next to Keith’s hospital bed. He was insistent now, patience be damned. “It’s perfect. It’s from you, and it’s perfect.”

Lance gently kissed Keith’s forehead, rubbing his thumb over the spot after. And if Lance thought Keith couldn’t have looked happier or more in awe– he stood corrected. Keith smiled up at him, the corners of his eyes crinkling.

“Do that again, please,” he whispered. Lance obliged, staying a little longer this time and reveling in Keith’s smooth skin and soft hair and, god, even though he smelled like rubbing alcohol and sweat, Lance couldn’t remember being more in love with him.

“Lance,” Keith said, staring up at him with wide and loving eyes. “Can I hold your hand?”

“Of course, Keithy,” and Lance’s smile felt like it was going to rip his face in two. He brought their hands together again, this time weaving their fingers and squeezing tightly.

“Lance,” Keith’s eyes were drooping and he seemed to be muttering to himself. “Lance. That’s… the most perfect name.”

“I’m not perfect, Keith,” Lance couldn’t help but to say lowly. He could feel Keith’s heartbeat, slow and steady.

“You have to be,” Keith replied earnestly, trying to reclaim some of the zealous energy from earlier. “You have to be perfect. You’re so beautiful.”

“There’s more to people than just being beautiful, Keithy, you know that,” Lance chided teasingly, gently, maybe a little bitterly.

“You kiss me,” Keith was completely serious now, not a hint of a smile on his face but plenty of hope in his eyes. “That… That makes you perfect.”

Lance had nothing to say. But god, he smiled down at the perfect man laying on the off-white knit blanket, unshowered and greasy and connected to too many wires but still somehow flawless.

“Lance,” Keith breathed. “Can... you do that again?” And Lance does happily, tenderly putting his lips to Keith’s forehead again, brushing his dark hair back and running a thumb down his cheek.

And Keith just smiles so softly and so purely and so perfectly that Lance doesn’t think anything will ever be as beautiful or as bright. The sun has nothing on this boy.

“You’re an angel,” Keith whispered, before closing his eyes and slipping back into a restful sleep. Lance just squeezed his hand, tempted to let his eyes flutter shut as well. He hummed softly, singing the way he knows Keith likes but hates to admit.

“And love is all that I need,” he breathed, rubbing his thumb over Keith’s in time to the music in his head. “And I found it there in your heart...

It isn't too hard to see we're in heaven.”