It could have been any other Saturday morning. The sun streamed in through the soft white curtains in Keith’s small apartment and the smell of coffee lingered in the air while the familiar sounds of Morrissey filtered through cheap speakers.
On a normal Saturday morning, Keith would have been pouring a bowl of cereal or sitting down with a good book. Saturdays were his slow days, and he liked them that way, but today was different; his friend needed him today.
Keith checked his gear for the third time that morning. With the renewed assurance that he had charged all of his batteries and packed all of his memory cards, he quickly ducked into the bathroom to look himself over before it was time to go. He didn’t own very many fancy items of clothing, so he hoped that he would look professional enough if he stuck to wearing all black. His black button down was a bit snug in the shoulders, but he told himself nobody would notice. He raked a hand through his black hair one last time and sucked in a deep breath. In his back pocket, his phone buzzed.
Keith didn’t bother replying, he quickly stuffed his phone back into his pocket and rushed out to grab his bag from the living room floor. He resisted the urge to check everything again, although he couldn’t help but mentally run through his list again while he turned off the light and locked his apartment door behind him.
This was only his third time working with Shiro, and his nerves were a jittery mess even though the last three weddings had been a success. He knew, of course, that Shiro had been running a successful photography business for years without him, and could easily handle a wedding on his own - but that didn’t stop Keith from worrying that he would somehow ruin everything, or at the very least least disappoint his friend.
Keith set his bag in the back seat of Shiro’s car next to all of Shiro’s gear, then slid into the front seat. Shiro gave him a wide smile. “You ready?”
Keith swallowed, and when that wasn’t enough to clear his voice for speaking, he simply nodded.
“Relax, man. You’re doing great!” Shiro reached over to clamp a hand over his shoulder. “I was actually ready to ask if you’d be interested in doing this regularly! Allura’s taking on more responsibility at her other job, and it’s getting to be too much for her to commit to working so many weekends, too. We think you’d be great at this! That is, if you wanted it.”
Excitement and nerves warred in Keith’s stomach. Part of him wanted to say, “Of course!” while part of him couldn’t stop imagining everything that could go wrong. Still, as he said, “I’ll, uh - I’ll think about it,” he found himself nodding. A smile threatened to escape. Photography was his dream, after all, and working with Shiro was an incredible learning experience. He knew it was a rare thing when one’s passion lined up with one’s career, and this could be the best chance he would get for a while.
Shiro smiled knowingly as they drove through the city. He had known Keith for years, and knew everything there was to know about the younger man’s talent, hard work, and indefatigable self-doubt. He hoped silently that after a few months of working together in a professional setting, Keith would start to see his work for what it was: beautiful.
“Lance, come on, you’re going to make us late!” Pidge grumbled as Hunk pounded a fist on the bathroom door.
“What do you care? It’s my cousin’s wedding!” Lance threw open the door. “Now help!! I can’t go looking like this!” It was true, Lance’s hair looked as wild and frantic as his face. This was going to require a team effort. Pidge and Hunk crowded into the tiny bathroom and got to work.
Five minutes later, they emerged with a triumphant high five. Their masterpiece followed, looking significantly more confident in his appearance. “Are you sure this outfit looks good?” Lance smoothed his slim blue button up over his chest and spun slowly for his friends, who only rolled their eyes at each other. “Now you just want to hear us compliment you. You
you look good.”
Lance shot them a sparkling wink, complete with finger guns. “Hell, yeah, I do! Now what are we waiting for, let’s go!”
Okay, so maybe Shiro’s confidence in him wasn’t entirely baseless, Keith thought to himself after they had made it through the first few hours of the day. Those first few hours were always the most fast-paced, with Shiro and Keith working quickly as a team to capture details, getting ready shots, and bridal party portraits in the midst of the pre-wedding chaos. Thankfully, it had all gone off without a hitch. Photographing the ceremony had been uneventful, and there had been plenty of empty time during the Catholic mass for Keith to allow himself to breathe.
Afterwards, photographing bride and groom’s families together had taken a good bit of teamwork from the both of them, considering the size of each family. Although it had felt like chaos while it was happening - with Keith calling out family member’s names left and right and wrangling everyone into what felt like hundreds of combinations for Shiro to photograph - all in all, it had been a success and they were still on track with the timeline for the day. Keith felt a little bit proud of himself for how he had managed to keep his cool and direct so many people with confidence. Maybe he could do this every weekend.
This wedding just kept getting better and better for Lance. First, he got to spend the day with his family, which always made him a special kind of happy. Second, he got to spend the day with his two best friends, which he did almost every day, but he still loved every minute with them. Third, the photographers for this thing were hot . He hadn’t noticed them until after the ceremony when the taller one announced that all extended family would need to stick around for a few family portraits. He had realized with excitement that he was extended family, and he nudged his friends. “How do I look?”
“Sexy as ever!” Hunk patted him reassuringly on the shoulder. Pidge huffed, “Stop enabling!” and jabbed her elbow into Hunk’s stomach. They faded out into background noise as Lance let his attention drift back to the two men now organizing the bride and groom with immediate family members at the front of the church. The taller one was clearly the leader. It was evident in the way he carried his broad shoulders and confidently spoke to the bride and groom with an easy smile. The taller man’s black undercut with a shock of white hair at the front was so interesting that it held Lance’s attention for a full minute before his eyes finally slid over to the younger man, but once he focused on him, it was hard to tear his eyes away. If he had thought the taller one’s hair had been interesting, this boy’s hair left him speechless - and he wasn’t even sure why. Technically it should have been a mullet, so why did it look so… good? Messy pieces of black hair seemed to know exactly how to look effortlessly cool, falling carelessly over the boy’s eyes and the collar of his black shirt. Damn, that shirt-
“Lance McClain!” A new voice broke him out of his trance, and with a start, he realized Mullet Boy was calling his name . “Lance?” Louder this time. A blush crept up the back of Lance’s neck as he savored the sound of his name on such a sexy voice. Damn it, how is his voice sexy, too! At this point, Lance wasn’t even sure if the feeling growing in the pit of his stomach was attraction or jealousy - it was entirely possible that it was both. Then he heard his family shouting, “Lance, get up here, hurry up!” and he realized that literally everyone was waiting on him. He sprinted up to the front of the church and tried to act natural - an attempt that failed horribly as he stumbled over his own sister when he took his place next to her on the steps. From up close, Mullet Boy wore an expression that simultaneously read intense focus and casual disinterest as his eyes scanned their group. When he scanned past Lance with no discernable shift in his expression, Lance felt a stab of disappointment. A few flashes of a camera later, and they were being shuffled away. Lance couldn’t help but feel like he had missed his chance to impress the mysteriously sexy mullet boy.
A few moments later, he found his friends again, and they quickly swept away his worries with the promise of cocktail hour.
Hours later, after dinner had been served and toasts had been made, it was finally Keith’s favorite part of every wedding so far (that is, as long as he was attending as a photographer and not a guest). He was certainly not someone who danced for fun, but he had to admit, there was something enjoyable about watching people let loose and celebrate under the flashing lights and pounding music. It was probably cocktail hour’s fault, but everyone always looked so carefree and happy out on the dance floor, and while Keith usually thought people looked pretty silly while dancing, he admired their ability to not care.
He circled the perimeter of the dance floor slowly and his shoulders relaxed for the first time that day. He knew he was practically invisible now, blending into the darkness while everybody’s senses were dulled with alcohol and loud music. The pressure of the day was almost completely gone, now that his final job was to simply capture a handful of fun dancing shots in the next hour. He watched carefully for particularly cute or funny moments; small children dancing, couples in love, and the inevitable group of extra-drunk young adults whose dance moves would only get more wild as the night went on.
Halfway around the dance floor, one person in particular caught his attention. There he was again, the tall, skinny boy from earlier in the day, the one who had held up family photos despite Keith calling out his name several times. Lance. Keith had been annoyed at first, but when the boy had finally made his way over to the group, Keith could see that he was embarrassed - his cheeks were flushed, and he stumbled over his feet when Keith had directed him to his spot in the photo. It was hard not to find it endearing. In fact, it was hard not to stare at the guy. Once Lance had settled into his spot, his embarrassment was quickly replaced with a breezy confidence that Keith found frustrating. That didn’t make it any easier to look away, but he tried to focus on making sure the rest of the group looked okay for the pictures Shiro was taking. He schooled his face into what he hoped was a disinterested expression, and allowed himself one more look at Lance. The mess of hair falling over his perfect tan skin revealed stunning blue eyes and an endearing grin that made Keith’s stomach do a flip. He quickly moved on.
Now, as the music pulsed around them, it was apparent that Lance’s dorky confidence was his default setting, and the embarrassment Keith had witnessed earlier had just been some sort of glitch. Lance was currently out on the dance floor like it was his own personal stage and he didn’t care who was watching - or like he knew they were and he liked it. Surrounded by his friends and family members, all singing, laughing and dancing wildly together, he looked so at home and happy that, for a moment, Keith identified the ache in his chest as jealousy. He tried to ignore the fact that under the flashing lights, with that carefree laugh bubbling out of him, Lance was beautiful. Jealousy. Just jealousy, that’s all. He needed to keep walking and do his job.
The dancing crowd made the room feel uncomfortably warm, and Keith pulled his hair back into a ponytail for some relief. A slow song started playing, and the crowd on the dance floor thinned out enough for Keith to weave his way between slow dancing couples for those romantic shots Shiro always wanted for the newlywed’s gallery. He focused on his work and let the thoughts of Lance slip away.
By the time cocktail hour had ended, Lance had completely forgotten about the mysteriously attractive photographer that he had made a fool of himself in front of earlier. He was enjoying his drinks, enjoying his friends, and enjoying being at a massive party with lots of food and incredibly danceable music.
His friends had dragged him away from the dance floor once a slow song had started playing, insisting that they needed a break, and that no, they would not slow dance with him. He took the opportunity to get another drink. It was starting to get hot on the dance floor and he found himself wiping beads of sweat off of his forehead as he headed back towards his friends. Pidge and Hunk sat at their table looking out of breath, Pidge with an adorably small cup of punch, and Hunk with his third dessert of the evening.
“Lance, buddy, how long are you wanting to stay, man?” Hunk said around a mouthful of cupcake.
“I’m ready to head home and watch some Netflix before bed,” Pidge offered hopefully.
“Are you kidding me!? This party is just getting started!” Lance slammed his drink down on the table, sloshing half of it out. Pidge and Hunk groaned, but they had known what they had been getting into when they’d agreed to go with Lance in the first place. If there was booze, music, and dancing, Lance would stay until he got kicked out. Still, they couldn’t help but try to make a deal with Lance. “If you let us leave in the next half hour, we’ll… we’ll…” Pidge hesitated, trying to think of something that would motivate Lance without inconveniencing herself. Hunk interjected, “We’ll buy you donuts every morning for a week!” Lance’s eyebrow shot up, and he ran a thumb over his bottom lip as if he was actually considering it. “We leave after an hour, and make it two weeks, and you’ve got yourself a deal.” The three of them shook on it. Just as Pidge checked her watch to mark the beginning of their hour, the music overhead shifted to a loud, pulsing beat, and Lance’s face lit up. “This is my SONG! You guys have to come dance with me!” He left no time for his friends to complain, he just grabbed their arms and pulled them back towards the dance floor. This was going to be the best hour of his life.
As the music went on, Keith knew he had taken enough good photos for the gallery and if he continued shooting just to stay busy, Shiro would hate him later when it was time to sort through all of the photos he had taken. He forced himself to start being more selective, only taking a photo if the moment was just right.
He circled the dance floor for what felt like the hundredth time as a loud and decidedly dirty song filled the room. The sensual beat had him looking for someone before he even knew what he was doing, and then - yep, there was Lance, having the time of his life moving his body to the music. Jesus, how did he move like that? Keith normally found reception dances entertaining because people looked silly while dancing, but Lance… even though he was being silly, he knew what he was doing and it showed. Keith was abruptly thankful that it was his job to watch the dance floor. This time he didn’t even try to look away. The other boy was mesmerizing. He still had that carefree, complete happiness about him, but with every roll of his hips, the way his hands slid over his body, it was clear that he knew how to move.
Keith forgot everything but watching Lance - something that would have been totally fine, except that towards the end of the song, Keith’s eyes followed Lance’s hands up his body, and then - shit! Lance looked right at him! Keith turned away as fast as he could, his face on fire. He couldn’t have known I was staring. Just be cool. He lifted his camera to his face and snapped several photos of random party guests without thinking. He tried to calm his racing heart and pretend that nothing had happened. Maybe nothing had happened. So what, he was watching the guests dance. That was his job! He took a deep breath and dared to look back at Lance. His heart immediately started pounding out of his chest, and blood rushed in his ears. Lance was standing completely still in the middle of the dance floor, face red, staring directly at Keith.
Keith was abruptly sweating with discomfort. No matter where he looked, he could feel Lance’s stare burning through him. Even as he took several steps to the right, the stare followed. He swallowed. This time when he looked back at the boy on the dance floor, Lance was walking straight towards him.
Shit shit shit.
Lance stopped directly in front of Keith, face red with embarrassment and anger. Keith cowered, supremely uncomfortable, and wondered how unprofessional it would be to run out of the wedding early. And then Lance spoke. “How does it feel, being stared at?”
Keith’s eyes widened, and he tried to stutter out a response, but Lance interrupted, “Do you think something’s funny about the way I dance, huh? Think you’re better than me? Listen, buddy, I came out to have a good time and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now! If you have a problem with my dancing, let’s settle it on the dance floor!”
Keith couldn’t believe his ears. “What the hell?” he sputtered, “I wasn’t judging you! You-” he faltered, knowing his only options were honesty, which was embarrassing, and going along with Lance’s impression, which was also embarrassing. He decided he didn’t have much to lose by being honest, so he continued, rubbing a nervous hand over the back of his blushing neck, “You’re really good. I was enjoying watching you dance. I’m sorry that I made you feel uncomfortable... you looked like you were having a good time.”
Lance’s eyes scanned Keith’s face suspiciously for what felt like an eternity. Finally, finding nothing but honesty, the anger fell from his expression and was replaced with an extra dose of embarrassment. The two boys faced each other with fidgeting hands and equally pink blushes, neither one knowing what to say to make the situation less awkward. Eventually, Lance seemed to get a hold on his emotions, because his confidence was trickling back in as he grinned at Keith and said, “I’ve been enjoying watching you too. Sooo, wanna dance with me?”
Keith sputtered. How could he say I’m working right now and I don’t dance ever and I definitely want to dance with you at the same time? Lance seemed to enjoy making Keith blush, because he took a small step closer and gave Keith a look that said, Well?
Just as Keith opened his mouth to respond, Shiro came up behind him and clapped him on the shoulder, nearly making him jump out of his own skin. “Hey man, we’re free to go now!” Shiro seemed to see that he had interrupted something, and he immediately turned apologetic. “I’m so sorry! Who’s your friend?”
Keith scrambled to get back some semblance of mental clarity before he completely embarrassed himself in front of Shiro today, too. He gestured to each boy respectively as he said, “Shiro, this is Lance. Lance, this is Shiro.”
“Lance, this is Shiro.” Lance’s face grew warm. It was so not fair that this guy knew his name and kept using it in that irritatingly sexy voice and Lance still had no idea what to call him! He had just been introduced as this guy’s friend, though, so he didn’t feel like he could just ask what his name was now - that would probably not help ease any of the tension surrounding the whole situation.
He had just made up his mind to catch the guy alone later so he could learn his name, when the main photographer, Shiro, turned back to the other boy and reminded him, “We’re good to go now, you can start packing up your stuff.” He offered a polite smile in Lance’s direction. “Lance, it was nice to meet you.” Lance nodded dumbly. Go away so I can get his name!
Then something horrible happened. Mullet boy, who had at some point started rocking an infuriatingly attractive ponytail, offered one last adorably apologetic smile at Lance, and then turned and walked away with Shiro.
The next day, Keith was sprawled out on the couch in his apartment with a bowl of cereal resting precariously on his stomach. He had slept in and was eating breakfast for lunch. Beside him, his phone vibrated.
[Shiro] You did a great job yesterday! Looking through your photos now. Don’t know why you worry so much.
Keith couldn’t help the smile that spread over his face as he typed his reply. Thanks! I had a good time. I’ve been thinking about it, and I think I’d like to take you up on your offer if it still stands!
A moment later, another message appeared.
[Shiro] That’s great! I was hoping you’d say that! Only one thing…
[Shiro] You might need to work on having some more… diversity in your reception shots?
[Shiro] Most of these photos are of that Lance kid. He looks like he’s got some moves! I can see why you were so flustered last night! ;)
Keith covered his face with his hands and groaned. His cereal slid off the side of his stomach - he grabbed it before it spilled on the couch and set it aside. How much more obvious could he have been? Apparently he had been far more focused on Lance than he had realized, and now Shiro would never let him hear the end of it.
[Shiro] I hope you at least got his number? He seemed like he was into you, too!
All of a sudden, Keith’s heart dropped into his stomach. He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and typed out a panicked reply. I didn’t even say goodbye! Shit, I didn’t even introduce myself! What do I do now?
A few agonizing moments later, Shiro’s reply popped up.
[Shiro] Don’t worry, we’ll think of something!
Two weeks had passed, and Lance had not been able to get the mysterious photographer out of his head. He kept replaying his memory of the blush on the boy’s face when he had asked him to dance. It had seemed like he wanted to say yes, like he was interested, but then he had simply walked away without a word. It was the most confusing rejection Lance had ever suffered.
Then one evening he got a notification on his phone. The cousin who had just gotten married had tagged him in a photo on Facebook. He hurried to click on the notification, knowing it would be a photo from the wedding. Sure enough, there he was, sweaty dress shirt clinging to his chest, head thrown back, hips rolled out sensually. Oh. So that’s what the photographer had seen. No wonder he looked so embarrassed when Lance approached him, he had probably come on way too strong after all that. Lance silently cursed himself for scaring away someone he had actually been interested in - he really hadn’t been trying to be a ridiculous flirt this time, he had just been having a good time.
Then he remembered the photographer’s voice, “You looked like you were having a good time,” and he could picture the barely there smile on the boy’s face. Damn it. Something inside Lance would not let him shake the idea that the other boy had felt something too, and Lance had just missed his chance.
Suddenly he saw it. The credit under the photograph was a link to a photography website. Lance clicked before he even took a second to read the URL. As soon as the website loaded, Lance frantically clicked through several pages hoping to find information on the photographer from his cousin’s wedding. When he got to the “About” page, the main photographer’s face smiled warmly at him. Takashi Shirogane. There were a few paragraphs about Shiro, his business, and at the end, his contact information - Lance scrolled past all of it without reading - and then he stopped. Staring back at him was the beautiful, nameless photographer from two weeks ago. Lance’s heart jumped. Keith Kogane. One short paragraph, and e-mail address, and a phone number. Keith . Lance let out a sigh of relief and smiled at his screen.
“Did he like it yet?” Keith hovered nervously over Shiro’s shoulder, peering at the computer in front of them.
“For the last time, Keith, relax. I uploaded it ten minutes ago! You’re going to have to chill out if you want me to stay here and wait with you. I can take my work home if it’s going to be too stressful for you,” Shiro teased gently.
Keith took a few steps back and flopped backwards onto his couch. What if Lance wasn’t actually interested? He had probably been embarrassed for Keith, who had definitely made an idiot of himself. Maybe it had been a pity dance invitation. But then Keith replayed Lance’s voice again, “I’ve been enjoying watching you too.” What did that even mean!? Had Lance really been watching him? He had seemed genuine at the time. Keith silently cursed himself for not turning around that night and just asking for Lance’s number, or saying, “by the way, I’m Keith,” or saying anything , for that matter. Lance probably thought he was an idiot, if he still thought about him at all. Keith knew he could find Lance easily enough online, he did know his name after all, but he was hesitant to make a fool of himself again. He had decided that they would post one of the photos he had taken of Lance, and if Lance liked it, Keith would know he hadn't been freaked out by the whole thing, and it would be safe to reach out. What he hadn't thought about was what he would do if Lance didn't show. Keith sighed and rolled over to his side just as his phone vibrated on the coffee table. Shiro was normally the only person who texted him, and Shiro was currently writing an email at his computer across the room, so Keith was immediately curious. He grabbed his phone and unlocked the screen just as his phone began vibrating with a series of incoming texts.
[unknown number] so uh…
[unknown number] i hope this isn’t creepy
[unknown number] but i got your number off your site?
[unknown number] and we didn’t really get a chance to say bye the other night…
[unknown number] or even formally meet… so i just found out your name like 5 min ago
[unknown number] keith
[unknown number] keithy boy
[unknown number] keith babe
[unknown number] oh god i’m rambling
There was a pause for a long moment. When the last message finally came through, Keith couldn’t help the happy laugh that escaped his chest and settled into what felt like a permanent smile on his face.
[unknown number] anyway. hi. it’s lance. ;)) sooo… would u maybe want to formally meet sometime?