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Inside Joke

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After Pidge made a habit of climbing on tall people, and the three tallest paladins did nothing but enable her to no end, Keith barely batted an eyelid as the door to the kitchen burst open and Lance barreled into the room in a Naruto-run, the green paladin perched precariously on his shoulders with a spoon to her mouth like a microphone.  

"And here we have known gay alien Keith Kogane in his natural habitat, consuming some delicious and nutritious food goo harvested from organic mush," Pidge called out in her best announcer voice.  

Keith glanced up, hiding an irrepressible smile behind a spoonful of goo.  

"Hey, I'm only half—" 

"PIDGE!!!" The smaller paladin almost toppled headfirst over Lance as he stopped abruptly in his tracks, then actually did slip off as Lance hunched down and pushed her off by the armpits.  

"What?" Pidge turned to face Lance in confusion, cocking her head to the side. Keith furrowed his brow, as baffled as she was.  

Lance crossed his arms, puffing his chest out and looking stern.  

"You don't call someone gay as an insult, Pidge."  

Keith choked on his goo.  

Lance threw him a quick glance before continuing his lecture. "Seriously, Pidge! It's like, homophobic and shit. Plus I get we're not kids anymore but like, that shit can hurt, y'know?" 

Keith and Pidge stared at Lance for a solid five seconds before simultaneously turning to look at one another, Keith's mouth still full of goo. After a moment Keith finally sputtered, his laugh muffled the specks of goo shooting across the table and the quick fist he raised to press into his lips. Pidge's eyes were wide as saucers and her lips were half-curled in a tentative smile, but she was too amazed to actually laugh.  

"Oh my god," Keith finally managed to whisper after swallowing his mouthful of goo and wiping his sleeve across the table to clear away goo specks.  

Lance turned to face him, eyes curious.  

"Huh?" he asked. There was some genuine confusion in his expression—he really didn't expect this reaction from either of them. What had he expected, a solemn apology from Pidge and a dramatic statement of appreciation from Keith? 

Well...kinda. More than whatever this was, anyway.  

"Oh, I just didn't know you cared so much, Lance," Keith said quickly. When he finally met Lance's gaze, he looked completely dizzy with amusement. "That's really, really cool of you."  

Pidge snorted.  

Lance narrowed his eyes.  

"Well, yeah," he finally replied with a shrug. "I mean, if you wanna insult someone, it should be something that isn't totally uncalled for like that, and it should be something that's like, actually there to be insulted. Like your dumb mullet."  

Pidge wheezed.  

Keith rolled his eyes, but Lance could still see some amusement there.  

Lance wasn't stupid. There was something here, and he wasn't in on the joke. Unless... 

"Wait," he said slowly. "Is this like...some kind of in-joke for both of you?" 

Pidge finally recovered from laughing, and Keith cocked his head to the side innocently.  

"What do you mean?" He asked.  

Lance bristled.  

"Like, ragging on each other, calling the other gay. Is that a joke to you guys?"  

Again Keith and Pidge glanced at one another. Lance's voice was strained, and the amusement of their situation was starting to wane a little.  

"I mean, I thought that was like, a jock thing or something," Lance continued. "I thought, like, we're all paladins of Voltron. We should be better than that, right? What would Shiro think?" 

The amusement was back with a vengeance—Keith nearly doubled over, clutching his sides, as he finally lost his composure. Pidge was biting her lip, a smile straining to burst free.  

"Oh my god," Keith gasped, his face red with laughter. "Please, Lance—don't tell Shiro I'm a homophobe. I literally will not be able to handle it, fuck—Pidge, tell him, I can't...."  

Lance was growing more confused by the minute.  

"Keith, I am not about to rush through the happiest moment of my life to this point," Pidge said firmly.  

"This is all a big joke," Lance muttered. "My sister, would you think she'd be a joke, then?"  

Keith's laughter sputtered to a halt, and Pidge raised an eyebrow.  

"Huh?" 

"My twin sister's gay," Lance continued. "And she—would you just laugh about that, in front of her?" 

Keith and Pidge stared at Lance. Everything had gone from innocent fun to exhausting frustration in a couple of sentences, and an offhanded 'Yeah, probably, and she'd laugh too,' wasn't gonna be an acceptable response at this point without some serious clarification.  

Pidge moved first, groaning and smacking herself in the face, only to push her hand up through her bangs tiredly.  

"Dude, it's not how you think," she started, but Lance wasn't done.  

"And I mean—I'm not gay, but like..." His voice shrank meekly. "I mean...I'm not really straight either, or else I'm kinda...both?" He swallowed a lump in his throat. "So like...is that what you think?" 

Pidge realized abruptly that from this point forward, she would almost certainly need to do all the talking, as Keith.exe has stopped working. She could practically hear the dial-up modems wailing in his head as his eyes glazed over, and while they'd discussed the concept together in-depth she was very glad there was no such thing as gay telepathy because she did not want to deal with all of the internal screaming currently happening inside Keith's skull.  

"Oh my god, Lance," she finally murmured, her voice softer, more soothing than she'd ever managed before. Damn sisterly affection for her dorky adopted brothers.  

She took a step forward, extending her arms for a hug. Lance had never refused her a hug, and he wasn't about to start today. His hands were shaking, but he held her tighter than he usually did, clutching her desperately to his chest.  

"I don't want you to be like that," he whispered. "You're family, Pidge, and...yeah, some families are like that, but mine never was and I don't want this one to be, either."  

"I'm not like that, Lance," Pidge promised, burying her head into his shoulder. "Neither of us are. Lance, thank you so much for trusting us to share with us, and...Keith?" 

"Just tell him," Keith croaked. Pidge couldn't see him, but his voice was muted as though he was speaking into hands pressed against his face. He was probably both reeling from shock and aggressively attempting to hide an intense blush.  

"Yeah," Pidge murmured, drawing out the sound as she considered how to broach the subject to an incredibly emotional Lance. Well, the subject was kinda already there, and Pidge just had to continue moving the conversation forward.  

"So, um...we're gay."  

At first Lance tensed, as though he thought this was just another part of the cruel joke rearing its ugly head. Then his grip loosened, and he pulled back from Pidge, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.  

"Wha?" 

Pidge swallowed, rolling her eyes. "We're—okay, so like, I like girls..." 

"Uh..." 

"And the lump over there likes boys." 

Lance looked over Pidge's shoulder to Keith, who kept his gaze buried in one hand but raised the other in a halfhearted thumbs-up. He returned his gaze to Pidge, having found no adequate answers.  

"Uh...how?" 

Pidge snorted. "Dude, you know how cute girls are. And, well, I guess you think boys are cute too, so." Keith made some sort of sound that couldn't quite qualify as language. "So, that's kinda how, y'know?" 

Lance processed this for a moment. This was definitely not where he expected the conversation to go, not in the least, but it was...alright? He still didn't understand everything, however. 

"And so you guys make jokes like this, because...?" 

Pidge chuckled before shrugging. "I mean, I kinda thought everybody who's not straight did this kinda thing. You're a total memelord, I'm surprised you never got in on it back on Earth. Honestly, half the fun of not being straight is all the memes. 'Gay alien' is basically its own meme, dude. Having gay friends in real life just makes things easier, y'know, so we make up fun in-jokes that I guess sound a little too edgy for people outside the loop?" 

Lance was silent again, long enough that Keith finally glanced up at him. His eyes were narrowed in thought as he stared into space, before his eyes finally flicked to Keith, holding his gaze for a moment. He glanced away when he started to blush, muttering softly.  

"Well...I guess I don't really get it 'cause...I still thought I was just straight, until...uh...first day at the Garrison?" 

Pidge clapped a hand to her lips and shrieked into her palm, eyes wide. Keith's barstool toppled behind him as he stood, fight-or-flight instincts kicking in. He raised an index finger as if asking the world to pause for a moment for him to address the situation, but when the world didn't obey, he lurched to the side and vaulted from the room.  

"Keith?" Lance called, his own blush deepening.  

"He's fine," Pidge assured him, stepping back and heading to the door herself. "And he'll be back. He wants to, and I quote, 'suck that cocky-ass grin off your stupid pretty face'. For the sake of my own sanity, I'm gonna pretend that's all he wants to suck." 

As she left, aside from a healthy dose of excitement at Keith's apparent aspirations, Lance couldn't help feeling a rush of warmth bubbling in his chest. He wondered if his sister had the same feeling when she came out to the family, or if Pidge or Keith felt like this when they came out to him.  

Nah, he finally decided. This was a competition, and he was gonna win it.  

This is the best feeling anybody has ever felt ever, and things are only gonna go up from here.