1) Lance had a surprisingly open mind about some things.
"So, you're Galra, huh?"
Keith looked at Lance suspiciously, waiting for a caustic remark, or for him to say something hurtful. It wouldn't be new for Lance to express his disapproval of Keith, unlike the cold behavior of Allura.
"Yes," Keith answered, not delving into the topic further.
Keith blinked. "What?"
"I'm not always an idiot," Lance noted, raising an eyebrow. "I'm not going to assume all Galra are 'dicks out for Zarkon' and shit like that. With a totalitarian regime, you'll always have your dissenters and your rebels. Besides, it's not like you were raised in the Empire or shit like that, so you wouldn't grow up thinking like that."
Keith was still silent in surprise.
"I love Allura," Lance fully admitted, "and I understand part of her trouble. She lost everyone to the Galra Empire and I'm pretty sure she has PTSD. But she needs to realize that you being partially Galra doesn't change your beliefs. Come on, you are the only person here who didn't need any motivation to dedicate yourself to this cause. Once she manages to look past your heritage and realize you haven't changed, she'll get through it. Right now, we just have to be patient."
That was...surprisingly kind. Lance was not cruel by any means, but the way he had acted around Keith before had made him believe that he would attack him the most out of any of them for this. This was new territory, Lance being nice without a bonding session with the team or a major battle involved.
"Thanks," Keith said, a smile making his way to his face. "I really appreciate it.
2) Lance was incredibly insecure (and it was partially his fault).
Keith was really fucking pissed. Amazingly fucking pissed. And Lance was only a fraction of the problem.
Keith had lost Shiro, his surrogate brother and closest friend, and he could be dead for all Keith knew. Zarkon's heir, Prince Lotor, was being located by the Empire giving the team only a short amount of time to deal with the loss of Shiro and adjust to the giant shift in the team dynamic, as Keith and Lance shifted and Allura was added.
Keith was torn from Red and his position as the team's impulsive and instinct-reliant one to leader, where he had to constantly keep himself in check and bottle shit up. It wasn't healthy, but he couldn't let his temper get the better of him. Shiro wouldn't want that.
And now there was every indication that Lance was pouting in his room instead of training when a fucking war was going on, and Keith was running out of fucking patience.
So here he was, about to knock when the door slid open. Lance donned his civilian clothes, a bag slung over his shoulder. He scowled at the sight of Keith.
Keith instantly realized what was happening.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he asked, doing his best to stay calm like a good leader was supposed to.
Lance raised an eyebrow, asking, "What does it look like?"
"You can't leave," Keith began, keeping his voice down as best as he could through his anger. "Without you, we can't form Voltron. We won't have-"
"You can't form Voltron with me here!" Lance shouted, surprising Keith. "The Red Lion rejected me, Keith! Allura is already bonded with the Blue Lion! I can't pilot the Castle or do maintenance like Allura and Coran did before! I'm dead weight!" He adjusted his bag. "At least if I'm not here, I won't be a liability."
"If this has anything to do with your unreasonable hatred towards me-"
"Unreasonable?!" Lance scoffed.
"Yes, unreasonable!" Keith shouted, reaching the end of his patience. "I never did anything to you! Any time I think we're close to becoming friends, you push me away! I'm trying to be friends, but all you want to do is fight! I don't want this stupid fucking rivalry, Lance! I don't want any of this! I don't want to constantly have to fight you every step of the way!"
Lance's expression turned into a cold glare, one so unlike Lance it made Keith almost nervous.
"You want to know my problem with you?" Lance asked. "It's because you are everything I can never achieve, and no one has ever let me forget it."
"At the Garrison, even after you left, you were inescapable," Lance continued. "'Keith would have done that maneuver perfectly.' 'Keith wouldn't have made that dumb mistake.' 'Be more like Keith.' 'You'll never be as good as Keith, so you might as well give up now.' No one could remind me enough how inadequate I was.
"Even out here I can't escape your fucking shadow. Because even with all your flaws, they respect you more. And Shiro was the worst about it! Just...Jesus Christ! I didn't need even more of a reminder of how fucking useless I am! But then you became leader, and now everyone has decided I needed to leave behind the only one who didn't find me useless and go fly the Red Lion. Well guess what! She very much agrees with everyone else! I'm never going to be as good as you! She told me as much!"
Keith stood there, watching as Lance slowly broke down in front of him.
"I'm just...useless. The only reason I was worth keeping around before was to help form Voltron. But now that I can't fly...there is no point to me anymore."
Shit, he was crying. Fuck, Keith wasn't good at this! Shiro was good at this.
"Shiro was wrong."
Lance's gaze snapped back to Keith.
"He was wrong to think I'd make a good leader," Keith continued. "I don't know what to do. I don't know how to fix the problems everyone has. I can't talk with Pidge when she misses her family or help Hunk get through his anxiety."
He looked at Lance, continuing, "But, I can tell you something Shiro didn't. And that is that you should never compare yourself to me. You are your own person, and you aren't useless. You are our best shot, you are the person who actually knows what to do when Hunk is overwhelmed, you are a damn good friend, and you are worth so much more than we give you credit for. I'm just a piece of shit who doesn't think before he acts and can't connect with people well. You fucking liberated an entire species from a monster!"
"Hunk also told me he was hypnotized most of the time and was practically useless in the water. You are so much better than any of us bothered to give you credit for, and that is on us. We made the mistake of not letting you know how important you are."
Lance wiped his face, mumbling a thank you, and Keith made a decision in that moment.
He hugged Lance.
"If we have to rearrange things so you can stay, we will," Keith promised. "So don't go, okay?"
Lance stiffened at the hug, before relaxing and returning the gesture.
They stayed like that for a moment before Keith admitted, "I don't do this often and I just realized why. This is really awkward."
"Oh good I didn't want to say anything," Lance agreed, and the two released each other.
3) Lance was pretty perceptive.
Keith was a little bit cautious of the prince, who was staring at him fairly intensely. Keith definitely thought he was attractive, but he was unnerved by the unceasing gaze of his.
Allura didn't seem to notice as she talked to the king, taking her duties as temporary Black Paladin very seriously. Keith thought the switch worked out much better than the original plan. Red had made it clear she only wanted Keith, Allura was definitely Black Paladin material, and Lance needed to be with the Blue Lion.
Sometimes he worried that Shiro would be disappointed in him, but the others would remind him often that Shiro wanted Keith to be happy more than for him to be the leader.
The prince had not stopped staring. Allura was still talking to the king, Pidge and Hunk were geeking out over some technology that Keith didn't understand, and Lance was flirting with the princess, who seemed unmoved by his "charm" yet entertained.
Keith didn't know why there was a painful little lurch in his chest at the sight, but he turned away from it to focus on something else.
Right, prince staring at him. Solve that.
Sharpening his knife was hit or miss. Some people got freaked out, but others, who Lance explained probably liked "bad boys," apparently thought that made him sexier. He didn't want to risk the prince being one of them.
Pretend to get a call on his communicator? No, everyone was here. No person he could reasonably claim contacted him.
Go search for a bathroom? No, if the prince was a less than savory character, going off on his own was probably the worst idea ever.
He was surprised out of his thoughts by Lance clapping a hand on his shoulder.
"Sup?" he began cheerfully. "So yeah, Princess Westia is not into dudes. I'm glad she accepted my apology. It was pretty awkward."
Keith held back a sigh of relief, not wanting to admit anything.
"Had to happen eventually," Keith pointed out with a smirk.
"Yeah, it actually happened pretty often at home. Reactions ranged from being bluntly told they were lesbians to getting kicked in the balls. That only happened once, thank god."
"Maybe you shouldn't flirt with every girl you meet then. I'm pretty sure you've gotten plenty of evidence that not every girl wants to date you."
"Only one way to find the ones who do though."
Keith shook his head, though the smile on his face gave him away.
Lance leaned in a bit closer and asked quietly, "Has that guy been bothering you?"
Keith blinked, realizing Lance had noticed the prince, and answered, "Nothing more than staring. A bit unnerving, but otherwise it's cool."
"Alright. Let me know if I need to do something."
"Thanks, Lance. I've got it under control."
Lance nodded, before continuing, "Now, did I ever tell you about the time this one girl started flirting with me first."
"Can't take what you dish out?"
4) Lance always puts what others need before himself (even when it hurts him).
"Keith? Buddy? Where are you?"
Keith couldn't move. He was trapped, he definitely had a broken leg, and breathing hurt. He could taste blood in his mouth. Fuck. He didn't have the strength to pull himself from the pile.
"Keith, what's your status?" Allura asked, sounding a little desperate. "Keith?"
"He didn't go to the cave, did he?" Pidge asked, concerned.
Yep, Keith was an idiot. He was told, 'Don't go to the cave, because it tricks you in thinking your loved ones are in there and then you never come back.' And what did he do?
He should have known Shiro wouldn't be there. Just...some part of him had been so utterly convinced. Low level mind control?
"We have to go check it out," Hunk observed, sounding worried.
"None of us are good options," Pidge noted. "We all have loved ones. If Keith could fall for it, we all are susceptible. We need to find a way to block the effect of the cave before we go in."
"...Lance? Aren't you going to argue with us? ...Lance?"
"Shit! He must have already went that direction! He probably turned off his communicator so we wouldn't try and convince him otherwise!"
"Dammit Lance! He's the most susceptible!"
Keith winced. Fuck.
"Lance? Come here, Lance?"
That was an unfamiliar woman's voice. One that he hadn't heard before. Was someone else in the cave?
"Come here, Lance. I missed you, mijo."
Mandatory Spanish lessons were the only reason he knew what that meant. Whatever had drawn him in was using Lance's mother's voice now. Fuck. Fuck everything.
"Lance!" Now a young child's voice. "Come on, let's go play! Don't you want to play with me?"
Soon it was a chorus of various voices of varying ages, switching between English and Spanish, and Keith realized that this was Lance's family, whose voices he hadn't heard in months, whose voices he might never hear again. And he definitely wouldn't if this cave killed him.
"L-Lance!" Keith's shout was forced out. "Don't come in! Get out of here!" He began coughing, blood filling his mouth. He was fucked, and he may have just brought Lance down with him.
Suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up to see Lance, grinning at him. The way it was forced...it must be affecting him more than he was trying to let on.
"Okay, Keith, I'm going to pull you out. If it makes the pain worse, let me know, okay?"
Keith nodded, and Lance carefully grabbed his arms and pulled him from his place under the rocks. He winced as his ribs were jostled, but otherwise he was safely removed.
"Alright man, let's get you out of here." He picked up Keith carefully and started walking out of the cave.
They were just outside the cave when a young child voice said, "Please don't leave us again."
Lance stopped, and Keith worried for a moment that he'd go back inside, that he'd succumb to the temptation of the voices. But Lance took a shaky breath and continued his walk away from the cave.
Now that he was out of danger and so was Lance, Keith began to lose consciousness. The last thing he remembered was being passed to Allura and seeing Lance hug Hunk and sob.
It was three months after Shiro vanished when someone found him.
Allura woke them up after a sleep cycle to inform them that a rebel organization had contacted her and informed her that they had recovered the Black Paladin. He had drifted in and out of consciousness since they found him floating in space, but they had confirmation that his name was Takashi Shirogane.
To retrieve him, they had to go to a music club that acted as a front for the organization, the Crystal Stage. To Lance's disappointment, the club was not a modern Earth club. According to Hunk's observations, it was more like a more inclusive Cotton Club from the 1920s. Basically people sat around and listened to music.
The disguises were pretty interesting, based on images sent by the group. Pidge said they were really selling the futuristic 1920s vibe. Make up was vibrant and strange, though thankfully the only two who struggled at all were Hunk, who was jealous of Keith and Lance's talent, and Pidge, who just didn't care enough.
Keith made an observation as they worked on their make up, but he powerwashed it from his brain with reminders to not be an idiot.
They spent twenty minutes milling about the club separately, enjoying the music, before being called to the backroom to meet the leader of the group, who would lead them to Shiro.
The leader turned out to be a Galra named Desno, surprisingly enough.
"It is a pleasure to meet the rest of you," Desno respectfully told them. "I hope you will be willing to work with us in the future. Our primary goal is to rescue prisoners and reunite loved ones, though we have not been able to take as much an active role as we'd like."
"I surely will be interested in discussing an alliance once we have retrieved Shiro," Allura answered. If it bothered her that the leader was Galra, she wasn't letting it get the best of her. Character development was a wondrous thing.
"I promise he has been given the utmost care. My best hacker has refused to leave his side since he arrived, and that boy is terrifying when he is dedicated, so I doubt anyone would get away with treating as less than royalty."
Allura snorted with amusement.
The backroom had an elevator that the six, including Desno, crowded into. Keith could hear Lance quietly reminding him of breathing techniques and wondered when he had started being able to read Keith so well. The extended physical contact was uncomfortable, but Lance's breathing techniques did help.
"Let's go a few at a time back up," Lance suggested, giving a knowing wink in Keith's direction, and the thought from earlier hit him again. He shook it off, focusing on the task at hand.
Desno led them down the hallway to a room and opened the door, letting them in.
In the bed was Shiro, which was entirely expected. He was out, which, again, was expected.
What wasn't expected was the guy sitting next to Shiro's bed. A guy who looked like an older version of Pidge. A guy who squinted at Pidge and asked, confused, "Katie?"
The reunion was short and heartfelt, the two hugging each other tightly as if the other might vanish if they let them go. Keith couldn't help a small smile that managed its way to his face.
Shiro was back and safe. Pidge got her brother back. It was an amazing occasion and he was happy.
"This is amazing, right?" Lance whispered, causing Keith to turn to him. The way he smiled and laughed made Keith's stomach feel like it went skydiving and his heart pick up speed, and the thought from before didn't go away this time.
5) Lance was beautiful (so much so that it hurt).
+1) Lance was a huge flirt.
Shiro's return and Matt becoming part of the crew both relieved and added on a lot of stress.
On one hand, Shiro was back in the leader position, had promised that he wasn't mad that Keith had abandoned the position Shiro had asked him to take, and recognized he shouldn't have put that stress on Keith. Additionally, Shiro seemed to be in a better place with Matt around, and so was Pidge. So yeah, Keith had a lot less stress brought on by leadership duties and considering himself a disappointment to Shiro.
Now that void was filled with teenage pining and the stress of realizing he had fucking fallen in love with likely the most heterosexual person on this motherfucking space castle.
He had been able to ignore it for the past three months, with his focus on other things, but now that those issues had been solved, his brain had time to contemplate all the disastrous things that could happen if Lance ever found out.
He could talk to Shiro, but every free moment he tried, Shiro and Matt were cuddling or something like that. He'd be jealous that his foster brother was having his time taken up by Matt so much, but both of them have been through hell and look so happy together that he just sighed and moved along.
Hunk was best friends with Lance, leaving him out as a good option. Hunk was a great guy, but he was nosy and had a hard time with privacy. Pidge was a more private person, but she was also a little shit who'd be just as likely to reveal the secret just to see what'd happen as she would to keep it. Matt, even if he wasn't practically always with Shiro or Pidge, he didn't know well enough. Coran was also closer to Lance, and Allura would probably just encourage him to confess, the absolute worse thing to do with a guy who practically flaunted how straight he was on a daily basis.
So he kept his pining a secret and continued as if nothing changed.
Then Lance decided to be a little shit.
They were all at dinner eating space goo when Lance asked innocently, "Hey Keith, is your mom a baker?"
"I never met my mom," Keith answered.
Pidge was coughing, Matt was snickering, and Shiro had a smile that implied he knew something. Keith was suspicious. Something was going on. Only Allura and Coran looked as confused as he did.
"Okay then. Is your dad a baker?"
"My dad's dead, Lance."
"Was your dad a baker?"
Keith shrugged. "I don't know. He died when I was four and we lived in a shack. He could have been anything from an IT guy to the President for all I knew."
Lance face planted on the table, groaning, "Never mind." Hunk pat him on the back gently while Pidge and Matt cackled.
What was going on?
The weird and random questions didn't stop. If Keith could figure why the fuck he was being asked them, that would be nice.
"Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?"
"According to most of my foster families, I'm actually hellspawn so probably not."
"Are you helicase?"
"No...what the fuck is helicase again?"
"Are you a broom?"
"...No...what the fuck Lance?"
On and on, Lance would ask a question that made almost no sense, Keith would answer to the best of his ability, and Lance would stalk off as if he was disappointed for some reason. Keith had no fucking clue what was happening.
That was, until Shiro said something. Dammit Shiro.
Lance had approached him, asking, "Hey, do you have a Band-Aid?"
Keith blinked and answered, "Oh yeah, I have a few in my pocket." He pulled one out and handed it to him. "Do Alteans not have Band-Aids or something?"
"Yeah, I guess not," Lance answered, sounding dejected. "Uh, thanks. Talk to you later." He walked off, again seeming unhappy.
Keith was confused when Shiro approached Keith.
"Keith, have you got a minute?"
"Yeah, what's up?" Keith asked, concerned. "Did something come up?"
"Listen," Shiro began. "I understand if you don't return his feelings, but you should let Lance know that you don't. He deserves to know."
Keith froze, his mind rebooting after what Shiro just said. He stood there for a solid five seconds, unable to process this new information, before his face turned bright red.
"Oh my god, how the fuck am I so stupid?!" Keith shouted, face-palming. "He's-How the-He's been flirting with me the entire time?!"
"You didn't know?!" Shiro looked just as shocked as Keith was. "Keith, it was obvious! Even Allura and Coran caught on! Damn, even Slav figured it out! Slav!"
"Shiro, shut up!"
Keith.exe stopped functioning for a good solid moment. Then he growled, his face still burning, and he shouted, "Lance!"
Shiro couldn't stop him now.
Lance was walking through the hallway, looking at his feet, when Keith slid to a stop and started barreling down the hallway.
Lance only turned around for a moment to see Keith mad and running at him, which immediately made him turn back around and book it.
"Sugar honey iced tea!" Lance shouted as he raced down the hallway.
Unfortunately, Keith was faster than Lance, and had better stamina, so it didn't take long for him to overtake Lance and grab the hood of his jacket, yanking Lance back and forcing him to stop.
"H-Hey Keith?" Lance began, nervously laughing. "W-What's going on?"
"Helicase?! Really?!" Keith shouted. Then he kissed him.
Keith didn't kiss people often. His first kiss was initiated by someone else when he was like nine. So this kiss was, in his opinion, pretty terrible, but it got the point across.
It took Lance a moment to recover before he asked, "Wait, you didn't realize I was flirting with you, did you?"
"You have to tell me these things, Lance!"
"Okay, I will. Can you stop yelling at me now?"
"Oh, sorry." Keith blushed again, this time out of embarrassment.
"And next time let me initiate the kiss. I think you broke my teeth. Geez, you're aggressive."
"Aw, you know you love me," Lance remarked, grinning at him to let him know the teasing wasn't serious. Keith couldn't help but smile back, his face getting two shades redder.
"Yeah, I do."
"Oh my god, I think you just killed me."
"Man, you really can't take what you dish out."