Chapter 1: Rent Free Roommates
Keith lives in a haunted house.
Not the "ha-ha toy skeletons drop from the ceiling" kind of haunted house, it’s the "weird sounds in the attic and things moving on their own" kind of haunted.
At first, Keith tried to play off the weird noises with excuses of rusty pipes and just misplacing his things; but once he saw his keys thrown across the room from their spot by the front door to behind the living room couch, he was convinced the place was haunted.
He tried to bring up the topic of ghosts to his landlord casually, just to gauge his reaction. His landlord started to visibly sweat, laughed, then quickly changed the subject. Well, no wonder rent was two hundred less than anywhere else in the neighborhood.
It left Keith with two options: move, or stay and deal with it.
After a few weeks of living in the house of horrors, Keith realized that it wasn’t so much 'horrors' as it was 'mildly annoying inconveniences'. There were noises in the attic at night; loud bangs that would wake him up, and that got worse if it was hot outside. The downstairs bathroom would occasionally flood; Keith hadn't figured out the trigger for that one yet. Any personal items he left on the table by the door would get thrown across the room, but decorations were fine. There was definitely something in the basement, but whatever it was just liked to go through Keith's unpacked boxes. One spirit liked to make the classic 'rattling chains' noise in the dining room. All of the entities left his bedroom alone, which Keith appreciated.
So Keith learned to deal with sharing his space. He no longer leaves his wallet or keys by the front door, he got a white noise machine to block out the wails and rattling at night, and he leaves the board games he isn't using in the basement, along with a note telling whatever is down there to repack what it goes through. The person who lived there before him had the flooding bathroom floor sealed with a small drain in the corner for easy clean up; Keith will be eternally grateful that problem was solved for him.
All in all, it isn't so bad. Keith works, goes to school, and doesn't have anyone over to his house.
Until it doesn't.
"Alright guys, I'm going to school, don't break anything while I'm gone." Keith calls out to his empty home. He pats his pockets to check for his keys and wallet; no keys. He could have sworn he left them on the front table last... oh.
Keith walks over to the couch and fishes into the cushions until he feels the cool metal of his keys. Sighing, he glares in the general direction of the hall table, "Do you think I could leave one thing on that table without it ending up in the couch?" Shaking his head knowing he won't get an answer, Keith leaves for school.
Walking into his English class, Keith sees that his desk partner Pidge is already at their table near the back of the room. They wave at him, then turn back to the conversation they were having with the table partners that sit behind them. One of the boys glances up and locks eyes with Keith, a flirty smile lighting up his face.
"Hey Mullet! Ready to get your ass kicked at literature for the third day in a row?"
"Hey Lance, ready to figure out that class isn't a competition?" Keith snarks back, holding his dead pan stare.
Lance doesn't let that phase him, "We'll see. I think we're getting last week's test back today, so we can compare scores; definitively proving that I'm the best at iambic pentameter." He smirks, arching an eyebrow trying to bait Keith.
"What if I don't show you my score?" Keith retaliates.
"What if you two stopped flirting for two seconds and started paying attention?" Pidge mutters under their breath, earning a snicker from Lance's partner and best friend Hunk. Class had started while the two boys were talking.
Professor Coran did end up handing back their tests. Keith quickly flips his over after glancing at the perfect score marked at the top in green ink.
Something (Lance) pokes him in the back, "Keith, what'd you get?" Lance whispers.
Keith just shrugs, keeping his attention on Coran who is starting to tell the class about their next project.
The exuberant mustached man claps his hands together and addresses the class, "Alright! For the next assignment I want to mix it up. You lot are going to pair up, but not with your table partners; no! You're going to be working with the person sitting behind you on a take home project, the details of which are on the handout being passed around now." The red haired man seems overly cheerful about his newest plan as he continues, "You have six weeks to put together a presentation on your choice of one the topics listed at the top of the sheet in relation to one of Shakespeare's works. That gives you time to read the play, collaborate on ideas, and put together a truly stunning presentation."
Keith freezes, his mind stalling on the idea of having to work with Lance for six weeks. Part, if not most, of that time outside of class. Possibly at his house. No. Library. Lance can't come over to his house; no one can. Not to mention they are always bickering and rarely get along long enough to have a normal conversation.
Coran keeps talking, bouncing around the room and telling them about the time they have to work in class and what else they will be working on besides the project. Because one assignment at a time just isn't enough apparently.
Then Coran gives them the okay to start talking to their new partners and Keith feels another jab at his back.
Sighing he turns around.
"So partner, looks like it's just us for the next six weeks," Lance's expectant grin is all the forewarning Keith needs to know that nothing good is going to come of this.
Chapter 2: Banned For Life
This chapter is less focused on the ghosts and more about the set up of getting Lance to Keith's house and them getting to know each other. Don't worry though, next chapter will get back to the haunted house. Also, apologies in advance because I don't speak any Spanish but Lance is Cuban and you bet I'm gonna have him speaking it in this fic with his family. Translations (or at least what I'm trying to have him say) are at the bottom.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chat: Fearsome Threesome
Lancelot >> Hunkules, Pidgeotto
Lancelot >> guys, im totally boned
Pidgeotto >> gross. tmi
Hunkules >> whats wrong?
Lancelot >> not like that Pidge
Lancelot >> i have to work with Keith? and he hates me?? how am I not boned?
Pidgeotto >> he doesn't hate you tho? he just thinks ur competitiveness is hella extra
Pidgeotto >> cause it kinda is
Hunkules >> you do get kinda weird around him bro
Lancelot >> i do not??
Pidgeotto >> ya ur constantly trying to one up him. thats like... the definition of extra competitiveness, especially since he almost never takes ur bait
Lancelot >> …
Lancelot >> i see ur point, but im gonna be willfully blind
Hunkules >> i bet if you challenged him less he wouldn’t ignore you
Lancelot >> that sounds crazy enough that it just might work
Lancelot >> plus I gotta work with him for like 6 weeks, so i should prolly try to keep him from hating me
Pidgeotto >> good plan
Pidgeotto >> oh, and btw he got 100% on the test, I saw it before he flipped it over
Lancelot >> WTF WHY DOES HE HAVE TO BE SO PERFECT
Hunkules >> so perfect?
Pidgeotto >> so perfect
Lancelot >> shut up
New Chat: English Project
Lancelot >> I owe Shiro $15
Lancelot >> hey so when do you want to meet up to pick a play?
Lancelot >> also, why do you owe Shiro $15?
I owe Shiro $15 >> my dumb ass brother won a bet
I owe Shiro $15 changed his name to FireLord
Lancelot >> nice
Lancelot >> what was the bet??
FireLord >> i bet him that he wouldnt let me taser him
Lancelot >> … what... the actual fuck?
FireLord >> you asked
FireLord >> so what play do you want to read
Lancelot >> you tasered... ur own brother... living the dream honestly
Lancelot >> how bout Much Ado About Nothing? heard it’s a fun read
FireLord >> sure sounds good to me
FireLord >> (and I kno right? He had it coming)
Lancelot >> where should we meet first? my house can get p loud cause my roommate is a loud jackass
FireLord >> that sucks
Lancelot >> yeah, hes "in a band"
Lancelot >> does your house work?
FireLord >> no.
Lancelot >> okay...
Lancelot >> then how about the library?
FireLord >> that works
FireLord >> tomorrow at 3?
Lancelot >> sure
Lancelot >> welp i gtg, im at my moms house and Izzy needs hw help
Lancelot >> ~water tribe out~
Lancelot is offline
"How on Earth did you manage to get a life-time BAN from the library."
Keith is furious.
Things were going so well until Lance disappeared for a few minutes, mumbling something about the bathroom, and the next minute Keith watched as he was escorted from the building by one of the librarians. Keith packed up both of their bags and went to find Lance sitting on the steps of the library, when he walked up, Lance gave him a guilty grin.
Now they are walking back to the parking lot as Lance explains why he was kicked out.
"So last year I was here studying with Hunk and Pidge, right? And you know I'm not always the most, uh, focused person when it comes to long hours of reading textbooks." Keith snorts a laugh at the understatement, earning a glare from Lance. "ANYWAY. I went for a quick walk around the library, just for a break, and that’s how I met Nyma. I started flirting with her, naturally," Lance waves his hand through the air as if gesturing to the obvious conclusion, "But I may have gone a little overboard. Which wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, if her boyfriend Rolo hadn't been working too." They make it to Lance's car where he stops and makes a nervous gesture of running a hand through his short hair and rubs at the back of his neck, "I got a lifetime ban that really only lasts about a month at a time. I can go back after a while, but if Rolo catches me talking to Nyma, he kicks me out again."
Keith raises an unimpressed eyebrow, "You keep going back to flirt with her even though her boyfriend works at the library too?" Who does that kind of shit?
Lance frowns, looking offended. "Dude, of course not. I didn't know she was taken the first time or I wouldn't have hit on her. I ran into her again at the Starbucks down the street and we got to talking; we're friends now, but Rolo can be a jealous asshole so if he sees me talking to her at work he kicks me out."
"Well that's better than you being an insensitive dick bag, but you're still banned from this place; where are we going to study now?" Keith hopes Lance doesn’t suggest his place again, and thank god for small miracles because he doesn't. Lance suggest something possibly worse.
"Well my roomie has band practice right now," Lance rolls his eyes, "But we could go to my moms' house? They'd probably feed us dinner too, mamá's a great cook." The Cuban boy lights up when he talks about his home, a soft warm smile that makes Keith curious about what kind of family produces a boy like this.
"Really?" Lance scrunches up his nose, "I thought I was going to have to try a lot harder to convince you."
"Free food? I'm sold. I'd need a ride though, I walked here."
"Yeah man, for sure." Lance reaches over and opens the back door of his blue Mazda, "Toss your stuff back here and we can get going."
The ride to Lance's childhood home isn't long, and Lance plays a mix of pop top-40 hits and some songs in Spanish from his phone on the way there, singing along to everything that comes on. Keith does not find it endearing; not at all. Especially not the small dance moves that Lance seems to be throwing in subconsciously. And the songs that he sings in Spanish? Nope. Not hot at all.
When Lance shoots him a wink as they pull into the driveway of a modest house outside of town, Keith curses his weak gay heart; and Lance's charming smile for good measure.
"Alright! Welcome to the McClain-Sanchez household. Watch out for the children, they go for the ankles." And with that, Lance jumps out of the car, opening the back door to grab their things.
Keith gets out, after taking a calming breath. As they walk up to the door, Lance glances back and says, "Hope you're ready." Then he flings open the front door and calls out to the house, "Tu hijo favorito está en casa!"
"Lance!" A young girl's voice calls out from behind a couch, an excited face popping up over the top. She darts out and runs to wrap her arms around Lance's legs; how he stays up is a mystery to Keith.
When the girl spots Keith standing awkwardly behind the siblings, she gets the same little wrinkle between her eyes that Lance does when he's confused. "Quién es ese?"
"Abbi, this is Keith, he's here cause we gotta do some homework together." Lance smiles up at Keith, the warm smile from before is back, "Keith this is my youngest sister Abbi, she's three-years-old." His smile is more teasing by the end of the introduction.
"Laaaaaaance!" Abbi whines, "I'm six, and you know it!" She puts on an impressive fake pout; yeah, those two are definitely related.
"¿Qué está pasando aquí?" A tall, caramel skinned, older woman pokes her head out of the kitchen, "Oh! Mijo! No sabía que ibas a volver." She walks over to give her son a hug when she too sees Keith, "And you brought a friend, wonderful! Ya es hora de que encuentres a un amante." Lance blushes bright red and sputters, unable to get words out to respond to whatever his mother just said. She turns to Keith and asks, "Will you be staying for dinner?"
"Mamá, this is Keith. Keith, this is my Mamá, Carmen. Y no es mi novio." Lance mutters that last part to his mom, and Keith assumes he's telling her that they know each other from school or something because a look of understanding crosses Carmen's face before she's smiling and shaking Keith's hand.
"Nice to meet you Keith." Carmen directs her attention then to Abbi who's still clinging to Lance's leg. "Go tell your mom that Lance brought a friend home for dinner. We're not having anything fancy tonight, just picadillo, beans and rice." The last part was said to Lance and Keith. And with a kiss to Lance's cheek, she disappeared back into the kitchen.
"So that was my Mamá, you'll meet my mom at dinner; she's probably working in the office right now." When Lance see's Keith's confused look, he frowns, "Yeah, and I have two moms; if that's a problem for you then," Keith cuts him off with a laugh, making Lance's frown deeper.
"Lance, I'd be a pretty shitty gay dude if I had a problem with a lesbian couple that have obviously created a happy family here. I just didn't know you had two moms and it threw me for a second."
Lance visibly relaxes at Keith's acceptance. "Yeah I guess I forgot that we don't know a lot about each other." He gestures toward the stairs, "Come on, we can talk in my room and get more work done before dinner."
They walk up the stair and down the hall. Another girl's head pokes out from behind a yellow door, she's older than the girl from downstairs but still younger than Lance. "Lance, can you help me with my algebra homework?" Her eyes track to where Keith is standing. "Who's that?"
Lance sighs, he's going to get questions from everyone in his family apparently, "Izzy, this is Keith, Keith, Izzy. And I gotta work on my own homework with Keith, so it'll be a while before I can help you, okay?"
"Okay." Izzy turns to Keith and asks bluntly, "So are you dating my brother?" Both boys choke on air trying to sputter out answers.
"What? N-no! Why would you think I am?"
"Izzy! You can't just ask that!"
She put a hand on her hip, "Why not?"
"Because its rude to assume Izzy." Lance goes to grab Keith's hand to drag him to his room, but thinks better of it and ends up grabbing his wrist instead. "Come on."
As Keith is dragged by he says, "Nice to meet you?" And catches a mischievous look on her face before he's pulled through a blue door.
On the other side, he is faced with a blue room, but you couldn't tell with all of the NASA and band posters, or the full wall of photos showing the smiling faces of Lance's family and friends. On the ceiling there are plastic glow-in-the-dark stars that look like they've been put up in specific patterns; the constellations if Keith has to guess. As he takes it all in, Lance lets go of his wrist, and moves deeper into the room. He sits on the edge of the bed that's tucked in the right corner of the space across from a desk that's centered under the window on the left wall. A bookcase half filled with books and half filled with knick-knacks stands to the left of the desk. In the small space between the shelves and the wall, Keith spies a surfboard, something that seems out of place this far from the ocean. He's about to ask about it when Lance interrupts his thoughts.
"Sorry about my family, they're super nosey," Lance scrunches up his nose as he apologizes.
"Oh, don't worry about it. My brother would be equally as nosey," Keith reassures him.
"Your parents wouldn't go down the whole twenty questions route?" Lance's open expression and light smile tell Keith that he doesn't know yet.
"I wouldn't know. They died when I was six." Keith tries to play off the statement as something that's no big deal, but Lance's horrified expression lets him know it doesn’t work.
"What? Dude, I'm—I'm so sorry. I had no idea or I wouldn't have asked! Dios mio, I sound like an insensitive asshole right now." Lance rubs a hand down his face looking like he just kicked a kitten.
Keith sighs and goes to sit in the desk chair across from him. "Lance, stop. It's okay, you didn't know. They died in a car accident, my mom and step-dad, Takashi's dad, got hit head on. Tashi and I bounced around the foster system until he aged out and was able to adopt me." Keith takes a deep breath, he rarely talks about this to anyone, but Lance seems like a decent enough guy and he's easy to talk to. "To be honest, I barely remember them. It's been sixteen years and Tashi feels like the closest thing to a parent I've ever had. But I feel like I've had a pretty good life so far, considering. So no pity, or I'll punch you." Keith adds for good measure.
"Okay, that's fair, keep your fists to yourself." Lance gives him a weak grin, "Your brother sounds interesting though. He practically raises you, but still lets you taser him on a bet?"
"Well, he is my brother." Keith smiles, glad that they are back to a lighter tone of conversation.
Lance is about to say something when he pauses, the confused wrinkle forming between his eyes, "Wait. Takashi, but your messenger name was 'I owe Shiro $15'. Is your brother Takashi Shirogane? The golden child of Garrison University? Rising start of NASA's exploration program? Boyfriend of Pidge's brother, Matt?"
"DUDE!" Lance jumps up from his seat on the bed and starts pacing the room, "Your brother is like... my idol; he's an openly bisexual man who's the best in his field. He's everything I always wanted to be when I grew up."
"And he let himself get tasered for fifteen dollars." Keith deadpans.
Lance stops his circuit around the room, "This changes everything."
"Yeah, sorry for breaking the illusion. He also eats like shit; I'm talking ramen for dinner at least four times a week. And Matt got him hooked on memes a few years back, so now he's just a walking shitpost." Keith rolls his eyes.
Lance turns to Keith with a dead look in his eyes, "Holy shit, my role model is an idiot."
"That's what I've been trying to tell everyone, but no one believes that golden boy Shiro is actually a human being. Now can we please get some work done? We should pick the themes we're going to focus on for the project so we can annotate as we read."
Keith reaches for the assignment in his bag, and after a few moments Lance snaps out of whatever state he's in and gets his out too.
"Alright, so I was thinking pride as one of our main themes," Lance starts off as he opens his notebook.
When Keith gets home from working at Lance's house, he closes the front door and leans back against it, pausing to take stock of the night.
Dinner with the Sanchez-McClain's had been refreshing; it's been ages since Keith sat down to a family meal. Lance bickered with his sisters, and Keith learned that he has one other sibling, an older sister who lives in New York. They ate and talked; Lance's mothers asked Keith questions about school and work like parents do in the movies. It felt real, and normal.
Keith almost forgot what his real life is like.
He eyes the table by the door, wondering if the idea he had earlier might work.
Keith hold the keys still in his hand out, like he's about to toss them onto the table.
He takes a deep breath and addresses the empty room, "Alright guys, yes or no: if I wanted to have a friend over to study and have dinner, is it possible for you all to keep quiet for one night so he doesn't freak out? I'm going to put my keys on the table; if you think you can handle that, don’t knock them off. If it goes against your ghostly code or whatever, throw them across the room like you usually do."
Keith pauses for a moment, letting the question sink in for his housemates before he walks forward and sets down the keys.
He holds his breath as a minute goes by, but the keys stay where they are on the wooden surface.
A slow smile takes over his face as he waits one more minute to be sure. His eyes never leaving the key ring.
Finally, he can accept what the ghosts are telling him; they'll behave long enough for him to invite over Lance.
"Thanks, you guys! I'll make sure to let you know what night it'll be at least a day in advance." Keith smiles around the room at nothing in particular, just happy his house is cooperating with him long enough to do something normal for a change.
A minute later, the keys still fly across the room, but Keith has his answer. Tomorrow he'll ask Lance if they want to have their next study session at his house.
Spanish Translations (courtesy of Google):
Tu hijo favorito está en casa -- Your favorite son is home
Quién es ese? -- Who is that?
Qué está pasando aquí? -- What's going on in here?
Oh! Mijo! No sabía que ibas a volver! Ya es hora de que encuentres a un amante. -- Oh! Son! I didn't know you were coming back! It's about time you found a lover.
Y no es mi novio. -- And he is not my boyfriend
Dios mio -- oh my god
So if I butchered the Spanish (and I'm sure I did) please let me know in the comments with what it SHOULD be and I will change it as soon as possible.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it! I loooove online chat dialogue, but it's kind of a bitch to write. Oh well, its worth it.
EXTA SPECIAL THANKS TO AquarolinaCC for the help with the Spanish in this chapter. YOU ROCK!
Chapter 3: Braids
Keith invites Lance over to "study" and Coran tells ridiculous stories.
This chapter is shorter because if I didn't cut it off there, it would have been SO LONG. And I wanted you guys to get a chapter sooner rather than later. I promise the next one will have Lance and ghosts in the SAME CHAPTER.
ALSO: I edited the name of this fic. I liked it better as Just a Little Haunted, rather than It's Just a Little Haunted.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Keith sits at his desk tapping an anxious beat against the fake wooden top. His plan for the day is to ask Lance over to work at his house tomorrow night instead of going back to his mothers’ home.
“What’s got your panties in a twist Kogane?” Pidge asks, resting her hand on his to stop his fidgeting.
“Huh? Oh nothing.” Keith lies.
She gives him a look like she already knows what’s happening in his head, “Lance is a little late today.” She remarks in an offhand tone.
Keith gets ready to lie some more, say he hadn’t noticed, when Lance bursts through the door panting. He stops, takes a deep breath, then walks calmly to his seat; handing his tardy slip to Coran as he passes.
“Hey guys, miss me?” Lance winks at Keith.
“Keith did.” Pidge chimes in cheerfully.
“Why are you late?” Hunk asks, distracting Lance from what Pidge said.
“Well Izzy wanted me to braid her hair for school, and then Abbi saw it and wanted her hair braided, and I couldn’t just say no, so I spent like 40 minutes doing their hair this morning.” Lance explains.
“Aw, that’s really sweet.” Hunk croons.
Pidge gets a devious look in her eye, “Can you braid Keith’s hair?” She asks.
Lance grins, “Of course, I’m a master hair stylist.”
Keith blushes bright red at the thought of Lance with his hands in his hair, “Uh, please no?”
“Oh, come on! It’ll be fun.” Lance says.
“I have some hair ties!” Pidge adds, that little gremlin.
“Yeah! Come on Keith, if you let Lance braid your hair, I’ll let him do me next.” Hunk bargains.
Everyone looks at him expectantly, but the slight blush on Lance’s cheeks is what sells Keith on the plan.
“Yeah!!” The three cheer.
“Alright Mullet, sit up straight and tilt your head back a bit. Pidge, hair tie please.” Keith does as he’s told and Lance moves to stand behind him. Once he has the hair tie securely around his wrist, Lance starts running his hands through his hair, combing it back with lithe fingers.
“Oh, wow, your hair is a lot softer that I imagined.” Lance remarks.
Pidge snorts then laughs, “ha, that’s pretty gay dude.”
Lance’s cheeks go scarlet but he doesn’t let his embarrassment affect his voice, “No, it’s pretty Bi, thank you very much.”
Hunk chuckles, “whatever dude, I’m next. Hey Pidge, you preorder that new game yet?” And with that, Hunk and Pidge launch into a conversation about video games, leaving Lance and Keith in a strangely intimate bubble.
Lance tugs lightly at Keith’s hair as he weaves it expertly into a French braid. It’s more relaxing than Keith cares to admit.
“So you think my hair is soft?” Why. Why is that the first thing Keith’s brain allows him to say.
Luckily, Lance just laughs, “Yeah man, what conditioner do you use?”
“Uh, I don’t use any?”
Lance sighs, “So unfair…”
They lull back into a moment of silence. But Keith has a mission today.
“Hey, so tomorrow do you want to work on the project at my place?” He tries to sound casual, but he can’t tell if he’s succeeded.
“Sure. Although, not gonna lie, you made it seem like your house wasn’t an option the other day.”
“Yeah, um, I have some weird roommates but they won’t be around tomorrow.” Keith lies.
“I thought you lived alone?” Lance asks.
“It’s complicated.” That was the truth.
Lance ties off the end of Keith new braid, “I get it dude. And TaDa! You’re done.” Lance pulls out his phone and snaps some quick photos of the back of Keith’s head to show him. When Keith turns around Lance pauses, his face heating up, “You uh, look good with your hair pulled back,” and Lance snaps one more quick photo of an unsuspecting Keith; that photo for himself.
“Oh you’re done? My turn!” Hunk pops the bubble Lance and Keith had been existing in, Lance tears his eyes away from Keith, shooting Hunk a somewhat fake looking smile.
“Yeah man, let me get another hair tie.”
Keith can’t stop playing with the end of his braid. He likes the feeling of his bangs pulled back, and Lance says it looks good, so that’s also a plus.
“What time are you done with class tomorrow?” Keith asks.
“I’m done at 4, you?” Lance answers.
“3:30. I can hang out for a while and give you a ride if you want.”
"Sounds good. Pizza for dinner?"
"Actually, I was going to cook."
Lance raises an eyebrow, "Can you cook?"
"Yeah, I had to learn or else Shiro and I would have died of malnourishment. He’s a fucking disaster.” Keith rolls his eyes remembering when Shiro failed at making ramen.
“Takashi Shirogane?” Hunk asks, eyebrows raised.
“Yeah, he’s Keith’s brother, and mullet here is shattering the illusion that Shiro’s a functional adult.” Lance explains with a chuckle.
“That’s how we met,” Pidge pipes in, “Matt brought Shiro home for Christmas two years ago and Shiro brought Keith.” They smile fondly, “We bonded over mocking those love-struck idiots.”
Keith laughs, “they’re still idiots.”
"Good morning you lot!" The loud voice startles their group, Lance almost loses his grip on the end of Hunk's braid when Hunk jumps violently at the surprise. Coran is standing near them, having snuck up while they talked. "I see you're all making good use of this valuable class time to work on your group projects." He gives them a knowing look, eyeing Keith's hair and Lance tying off the end of Hunk's now finished braid.
"Yeah, we were just discussing..." Pidge starts to try and dig them out of trouble when Coran titters.
"Ah, ah, ah. While I agree that Mr. Shirogane and Mr. Holt are a handsome couple, I would prefer you spent this time analyzing the relationships brought to life by Shakespeare." Their teacher got a fond, faraway look in his eye; a familiar sign that meant a story was coming, "Why, I remember a time when I was your age. We had just come in from break where we had been wrestling a rather vicious Cassowary that..."
Keith, Lance, Hunk, and Pidge settle in to hear the newest riveting tale. Pidge pulls their notepad closer, discretely writing down key words to look up later. They have a running debate over whether or not Coran's stories are remotely possible. When he starts telling of how he and his old friend Alfor wrangled the "deadly beast" Keith chances a glance at Lance. The Cuban boy is barely containing his laughter, and when their eyes meet, they both have to look away before they burst out laughing.
For as much as they fight, Keith thinks that he and Lance are pretty good friends.
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Chapter 4: Dinner For Two
Lance goes from Wooed to Booed.
Lance sees a ghost and its sPooKy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Keith is pacing around the front entrance of the science building as he waits for Lance to finish his class. A horrible churning feeling fills his stomach reminding him that this is the first person he’s had over to his house since Shiro helped him move in. God, what am I doing? I live in a haunted house.
No. They promised to behave while Lance is over. It’ll be fine.
Keith takes a deep breath and stops pacing. Okay, but what if they aren’t actually coherent enough to make promises? Keith goes back to pacing and worrying.
"Hey! Space cadet!" Lance calls to him from two feet away, stopping Keith in his tracks. He obviously missed the first couple of things Lance said. "You look pretty stressed out, are you sure it's okay to go to your house?" Lance is standing with crossed arms and an eyebrow raised.
"Yeah," Keith runs a hand through his hair, "Yeah, sorry I was just thinking about some other school stuff," he lies.
"Alright, whatever Mullet." Lance gives him one more look before turning toward the parking lot, "Let's go; where are you parked?"
"Right up front actually." Keith heads toward his bike parked in the designated motorcycle area, "There's always plenty of good spots when I bring Red."
Lance stalls when he sees where Keith is heading. "You, uh, brought a motorcycle?" His voice is an octave or two higher than normal.
"Yeah, is that okay?" Keith asks as he unclips two helmets from the helmet lock.
"Uh-huh, sure, I've just never been on one before." Lance rubs the back of his neck as he takes one helmet from Keith's hand.
"Oh, well we aren't going far, you just have to hold on, and lean a bit when I tell you to." Keith looks at the backpack Lance is wearing. "Do you mind carrying both backpacks though?"
"Naw, here let me take yours," Keith hands Lance his bag. As Lance gets the bags situated, Keith puts on his helmet then straddles Red and starts the engine.
Bracing the bike with his feet Keith indicates to Lance it's time to get on, "Alright, just put your foot on that bar there, then swing your other leg over," Lance puts on his helmet and does as Keith says, "Good, now hold on."
Lance wraps his arms around Keith's middle, bringing his whole body flush to Keith's back. Heat rises in Keith's cheeks at the closeness, and he's glad they're both wearing helmets.
He kicks off and send the bike shooting forward into the break in traffic, chuckling at the terrified screech Lance makes at the sudden take off. As they move through the small town toward Keith's house, he can feel Lance relaxing, and he thinks he hears some breathless laughter when they take a sharp corner.
When they reach the house, Keith brings the bike to a stop in the driveway. Bracing the bike again, he tells Lance to get off the same way he got on.
Lance pulls off his helmet with a chuckle, "Okay dude, that was way more fun that I thought it would be. I always thought it would be super uncomfortable but that wasn't bad at all. And that turn you took on Abbot? Way too fast. I think I felt my soul leave my body. "
Keith takes a moment to drink in the sight of Lance windswept and beaming an exhilarated smile; a smile he put there. "I'm glad you had fun. Red is my pride and joy, but I don’t take people on her very often."
"Well that's a shame, it's fun riding with you." Lance turns his bright smile toward Keith and, dear Lord, he was not ready to be the subject of the boy's joy; it felt like being too close to the Sun.
"Uh, yeah, well... Um, why don’t we, go inside?" Keith stutters out, gesturing over his shoulder.
Lance's smile gets a little wider, "Sure dude."
They walk up to the house and Keith unlocks the front door.
Keith holds his breath as he opens the door. Sometimes, on the really bad days, the front hall ghost will throw one of the decorations at his head as he walks in the door. He passes over the threshold, eyeing the table for movement. He sees everything in its place, and lets out his breath. Lance walks in after him, looking around the front room.
"Quiznak dude, this is a nice house! How the hell do you afford it as a student?" Lance asks.
"I got a great deal on rent." Keith replies ruefully.
"Well I'm jealous. My apartment is balls compared to this and I have to pay two thirds of the rent 'cause Lotor is a cheap motherfucker." Lance rolls his eyes and goes to set the backpacks next to the hall table.
"OH! Uh, why don’t you put the bags in the living room? That's where I was thinking we could work." Lance lifts the bags again, moving them over to the sofa. "And two thirds rent? Sucks dude."
"You're telling me." Lance sticks his hands in his pockets, "So what's for dinner Ramsey?"
Keith walks into the kitchen, flipping on the lights, "I was thinking hot pockets and ramen, what do you think?" He asks, keeping his face deadpan and he watches Lance's expression turn into something horrified and slightly disgusted.
"Dude. What happened to, 'I can cook, Shiro would be dead without me'?"
The incredulous tone in Lance's voice is too much for Keith, and his façade falters; a grin taking over his face and laughter bubbling up.
"I'm joking, idiot." Keith laughs again, Lance blushes, "I was going to do a stir-fry and some fish."
"Oh, well that sounds good." Lance chuckles along with him.
"Come on, you can help chop." Keith pulls out a large cutting board and knife, setting them on the island of the kitchen. Then he pulls out the vegetables and a bowl, "Toss all the chopped vegetables in the bowl."
"Ay, ay, Captain!" Lance salutes and then takes up his station at the cutting board. Keith rolls his eyes and goes to start the rice.
Cooking together was not what Lance had expected. He loves helping Hunk in the kitchen, and he firmly believes that it's an activity that helps you bond with others; it's just not what he expected from his evening with Keith. Or maybe he just expected it to be more awkward than it was; but he and Keith worked surprisingly well together. They never crowded each other, or got in each other's way. Keith would notice when he was almost done with a task and give him the next instruction. They worked almost seamlessly. And it was fun; Lance started a game of tossing food for Keith to catch in his mouth, Keith would pelt Lance with the ones he missed and Lance would try to cut them in half as they were in the air, yelling, “veggie ninja!” Whenever he got one.
They ate in the living room, Keith said he ‘never eats in the dining room’ and refused to explain further. Weird, but whatever, people do that.
After they finish dinner, Lance figures it’s time to start working on their project.
“Good meal Samurai,” Lance had seen the decorative swords in the hall and immediately started calling Keith that.
"Thanks," Keith stretches out over the back of the couch, his shirt pulling up and revealing a sliver of his stomach; Lance's eyes are drawn to it like a magnet, making him blush.
"Hey uh, where's your bathroom down here?" Lance asks, trying to flee the room to cool down for a second.
Keith gets a strange, panicked look in his eye for a second before his expression goes back to something closer to neutral, "It's down the hall, second door on the right. If there's water on the floor, let me know. That bathroom has some plumbing issues."
"Will do." Lance gets up and walks to the bathroom. When he opens the door, he checks the floor for water; luckily its dry. "The floor's dry!" He calls out to Keith in the living room so he doesn't worry.
Closing the door, Lance sits on the side of the tub and checks the messages on his phone. He has one from Hunk.
Hunkules >> Hey how's dinner going?
Lance smiles, he had been a little nervous about coming over for dinner. He had never spent this kind of one on one time with Keith. Last time they had been at the library and his parents' house. Now, it's really just the two of them.
Lancelot >> its going fine, hes actually a pretty good cook. you'd be impressed XD
Distracted by his phone, Lance doesn't notice when the faucet first turns on. Slowly, the knob keeps twisting, increasing the pressure that the water hits the basin until drops are spraying out and hitting him in the face.
"What the fuck?" Lance stares at the sink until he sees the stopper for the drain slowly press down on its own.
"WHAT THE FUCK." Lance's eyes go wide and jumps up. "KEITH. KEITH GET THE FUCK IN HERE." He swings open the door of the bathroom and Keith is standing right outside. "Your sink just turned on, ON ITS OWN."
Keith's eyes are glaring at the sink, but they don't look surprised; a fact that freaks Lance out. He marches over and tries to twist off the tap, but the knob won't turn. When it won't turn off, he sighs and faces Lance, "Why don’t you go wait in the other room. This happens and it takes a bit to get it turned off." The tight smile on his face doesn't fool Lance. Keith looks pissed.
"Yeah man, sure." Lance hesitates for a second before going back to get his books out. He can hear Keith muttering angrily to himself from the next room, but he can't make out the words.
Lance has his books out when Keith walks back in. "Sorry about that," he says sheepishly, "That's one of the reasons I got this place so cheap. There're a couple weird issues."
"You could'a warned me dude," Lance says, chiding him lightly.
"Yeah, I've never actually seen it turn on like that," Keith admits. "It's off by the time I see the water, I always figured there was a leak from the base that I couldn't find." And that was true, Keith had never actually seen how the water gets on the floor, he just knows it gets there when no one ever uses that bathroom.
"That's..." Lance doesn't actually have a response to that.
"Let's just work on the project." Keith suggests.
"Sure," Lance agrees, but he still feels a little shaken by the water incident. Every few minutes he can't help but look over toward the hall, worried he's going to see something come out of it.
In fact, now he's starting to get a creepy feeling on the back of his neck. While they work, he looks at Keith to see if he feels it too. Lance can't remember if he always gets this concentrated on his work, or if he's working to ignore the sense of being watched.
An hour goes by and they are getting good work done. Lance even starts to relax and gets used to the 'watched' feeling. He's leaning toward Keith, showing him some lines he'd marked the night before, when something flies over his head.
First, he looks what was thrown, a little ceramic candle holder that he had seen on the table by the door. Then he looks at the table, expecting to see someone, a burglar, one of Keith's roommates, anyone. But there's no one there.
Last, he turns to Keith. Lance isn't sure what he expected to see. Maybe, Keith's eyes filled with fear looking back at him or the table. Hell, even surprise would have been better than the emotion he finds on Keith's face.
Keith is just looking down at his hands, his eyes sad and mouth set in an angry line. Like he's resigned to what's happening.
"Keith?" Lance whispers in a shaky voice.
Another decoration is flung past them.
Keith jumps up and turns toward the table, "Stop it!"
Keith's sudden movement, sparks something in Lance. He feels his fear creep up into his throat, choking his breath.
"Keith, dios mio, what...?" Lance can't finish his question because a third item, the other candle holder, narrowly misses his head.
A sick feeling of dread fills his stomach. Lance stands, grabs his bag leaving some books on the table, and runs to the door. Opening it, he looks back to Keith who hasn't followed him, "Lo siento. I have to go."
Keith just nods, eyes sadder than Lance has ever seen them.
Once he's on the other side of the door, Lance breaks into a sprint toward the school. His fear bleeding out with each step he takes into the safety of the night.
Keith walks slowly to the door. Closing it softly, and turning the dead bolt.
"Well, are you happy?" He asks the now empty room.
He can feel the angry tears pricking at his eyes. Of course this had to happen. He should have taken the fucking hint when the bathroom flooded, but he just had to push his luck.
Keith lets out a feral scream of rage, rushing to that god forsaken table and throwing it as far as he could. It crashes into the far wall, shattering the long mirror hanging there.
With his reflection fractured and scattered around him, Keith crumples to the ground, tears flowing freely down his face.
GUYS. I was like, wait why aren't they eating in the dinning room? And I went back and found out I PUT A GHOST IN THERE. God, I love when I set myself up like that, aka PERFECTLY.
Also, Lance is totally spooked and Keith is sad, but don't worry. If everything went right there wouldn't be a story.
Edit: whoops, I guess I can't have Rolo kick Lance out of the library for hitting on Nyma and then also make him Lance's roommate. I guess Lotor is going to be the asshole in a band.
His band's name is Lotor and the Lady Generals.
Lance hates it when they practice, but gets along really well with Ezor, the guitarist.
Chapter 5: The Mystery Gang™
"Hey Pidge, can these tell if someone's been dead on the inside for years?" Lance asks holding up his EMF reader to Keith's face.
lol who reads and edits their stuff before posting anymore?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lance can hear his heartbeat ringing in his ears and feel the jolt of his feet hitting the pavement with every step he takes as he runs back toward the school. Keith lives nearby, so it only takes a few minutes to make it there in a dead sprint.
Slowing once he sees the lot where his car is parked, Lance pulls out his keys and locks himself in. Surrounded by the familiarity of his own car, Lance lets himself breath.
Holy fucking shit. What was THAT?
Going over what had happened Lance could only conclude one thing. Keith's house is haunted. Who the fuck willingly lives in a haunted house? Who invite people over to their haunted house? Maybe he doesn't actually know that it's haunted. But Keith didn't seem surprised when things started flying off the table, so he must know something is off in that house.
Lance will have to confront Keith about it tomorrow.
Keith does not want to see Lance today. He doesn’t want to have to look into his eyes and see the fear, or loathing, or disgust that he's sure Lance is feeling. Keith had been trying so hard to be his friend; to get Lance to give up their stupid "rivalry" so they could act like normal people around each other. It had been working, he thinks, remembering back to the last week of class when Lance hadn't called him as many names or tried to force Keith to compare grades. Fuck, he had even braided his hair! Keith really thought he had managed to get in Lance's good graces.
That was all ruined now.
He was so stupid to think that the ghosts would actually stop their haunting activities for a night just so Keith could have a boy over. That's not something ghosts do. The movies have never portrayed a ghost as being kind or understanding; and there was a reason for that. He let himself get drawn into his own delusion of being able to live normally for a night.
Now he's pacing outside of their classroom, waiting for the class before them to let out so he can run in, drop off the books Lance left at his house, and run far, far away. It's college; students ditch all the time. He'll just quickly explain to Coran that he has an appointment or something and he only stopped by to give Lance his textbooks. He hears chairs start to move inside the room; a few more minutes for them to clear out and he's home free.
"Hey Keith, you're early today." Pidge's voice comes from behind him. Keith startles and turns toward his friend.
"Hey Pidge, Hunk," Keith greets the two walking up to him.
"How'd it go with Lance last night?" Hunk asks innocently, wiggling his eyebrows.
Keith pales, remembering the fear in Lance's eyes as he ran from his house. "It went fine. Why? Did he say something?" Hunk frowns at Keith's hurried response.
"Not really, he texted once last night saying dinner was good, but didn't text me when he got home." Hunk's forehead wrinkles with concern, "Did something happen after dinner?"
"Wow, that was really convincing," Pidge deadpans.
They walk into the new empty classroom together, Keith setting the books he's carrying at Lance's usual spot.
"Why did Lance leave his books at your place?" Hunk asks.
"Oh, he just forgot them I guess." Keith lies. He turns back toward the door; he needs to leave soon or else risk running into Lance.
"Where are you going young man?" Coran calls out from behind his desk.
He's prepared for this question, his answer rolling smoothly off his tongue, "I have an appointment this morning Professor. I was just dropping off some books Lance forgot at my house last night."
"Alright lad, make sure to get the notes later from one of your classmates then." Coran nods and turns back to his computer.
"An appointment? Really?" Pidge sounds unimpressed with his weak excuse.
"YEP. BYE." Keith bolts out the door. He looks down the hall toward the main exit and sees a familiar head of soft brown hair coming his way. Guess he's going out the back then.
Keith speed walks down the hall and pushes through the emergency exit, counting his blessings when no alarms go off; not that he would have stopped if he had tripped one. Once he's safely out the door he stops to catch his breath. Shame washes over him as he stands there, knowing avoiding the problem will only make it worse.
Sighing, he starts toward the library to work on the material he's currently missing; his feet dragging with the weight of his guilt.
Lance catches a glimpse of the mullet turning the corner toward the emergency exit. Frowning he walks into the classroom and his suspicion is confirmed when he sees the books sitting at his desk and Keith nowhere to be found.
"Hey guys," his usual cheer gone from his voice.
"Alright. What the quiznack happened last night?" Pidge asks, turning to him with a deep confused frown on her face.
"Well, it's kind of a long story."
"Try us," Hunk prompts him.
Sighing, Lance slouches down in his chair, "So it was going good, right? We made dinner together, and it was delicious! We bonded. But then weird shit started happening."
"Like too much eye contact and a queasy feeling in your stomach?" Hunk interjects, Pidge smirking at the insinuation.
"No! Well... yes; but that wasn't the weird part! Would you just let me tell the story?" Lance pouts.
"Okay, okay, continue." Pidge says, nodding toward him while sitting up straighter with her hands in her lap.
"Thank you Pidge." Lance smiles and nods back. "Okay, so it started when I went to the bathroom to text Hunk. I was sitting on the side of the tub when the sink faucet turned on by itself. Like, not just a few drips; it turned on full blast then the stopper pushed down on its own. It was so fucking creepy! Water was splashing out onto the floor and almost flooded the room."
Hunk stops biting his nails for a moment to ask in a shaking voice, "What did you do then?"
"Well I scre... yelled for Keith to get his mulleted ass in there and fix it. What's weird though is that he didn't look scared at all. Like he expected something like this to happen."
"What did he say exactly?" Pidge asks.
"He said something like 'this bathroom floods all the time, don’t worry about it' but he also said he had never seen the faucet turn on by itself before? He said he figured that there was just a leak at the base that he couldn’t find." Lance rolls his eyes.
"Sounds fake but okay." Pidge adds.
"Agreed. Anyway, that’s not even the scariest part." Lance continues.
"THERE'S A SCARIER PART?!" Hunk shouts.
"Yes, now let him tell it!" Pidge hits him in the arm.
"Okay, so we finally get to studying in the living room, right? And I have this weird feeling like I'm being watched, but Keith doesn't look like anything is bothering him, so I ignore it. Then, after like an hour of being creeped out, something's thrown right past my head! I look over to the table by the door where it came from and there's no one there."
"What?" Hunk gasps as the same time Pidge asks, "Excuse me?"
"I know!" Lance throws his arms up, "And then, and then, another f-ing thing is thrown at me! I watched it just float up and then fly toward my head!"
"What did Keith do?" Pidge asks.
"He didn't even look scared!" Lance laments, "He just jumped up and yelled at the table to 'stop it' like it happens all the fucking time! Then the table threw another candle thingy at him and I was fucking done. I grabbed my bag and booked it back to the school."
"That's a smart move buddy," Hunk is nodding furiously, "I woulda been out of there after the water thing."
"So that's why Keith left your books this morning," Pidge realizes.
"Yeah, and then he bailed on me. Couldn't even show his face to apologize or explain what happened, not that I couldn't figure it out on my own."
"And what exactly did you figure out?" Pidge asks.
"Well his house is obviously haunted. I'd say at least two ghosts, I'd bet there's at least one more in the basement, and Keith was pretty squirrely about his dining room," Lance states.
"Good we’re on the same page," Pidge starts when Hunk interrupts them.
"Woah, woah, slow down. You guys seriously think it's haunted? As in ghosts." He asks skeptically.
"Duh, Hunk. Keep up."
"Guys... Ghosts aren't real," Hunk says.
"Then what threw that ceramic candle holder at my head?" Lance asks.
"Fair point, but..."
"There's really only one way to settle this." Pidge injects.
"Oh yeah? What's that smarty pants?" Lance arches an eyebrow at his friends.
"We go ghost hunting," they say with a sly smirk.
Lance laughs, "Hell yeah Pidge! I like your style."
Keith still feels bad about avoiding Lance today, but really what else could he have done? Maybe tomorrow he'll come up with a better excuse for why shit was flying around his house on its own.
He's just finishing up the dishes, dancing around the kitchen listening to the newest Panic! At the Disco album when he hears the knocking at his door. Confused, he goes to answer it.
He opens the door to reveal a grinning Lance, Hunk, and Pidge whose arms are full of weird tech.
"Hey Keith! Guess who's here to solve all of your problems," Lance greets him, smoothly walking past him into the house.
"Hey Keith, nice boxers," Hunk follows Lance into the house. Keith realizes he just answered the door to three of his classmates wearing only a loose black crop-top and boxers with a green alien heads pattern.
"Hold these," Pidge dumps half of their junk into Keith's arms, then follows the others.
"Uh, what?" Keith turns slowly to look at the others, closing the door behind him.
"Oh man, I knew you were emo, but Panic? Really?" Lance comments, a teasing grimace on his face.
"Dude, you love 'Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time' don’t even lie," Hunk throws back at Lance.
"Why can't you just let me tease Keith in peace Hunk?" Lance pouts.
"Guys! Focus! We're here on a mission," Pidge reels them back in.
Keith has had enough. "HOLD UP." The trio quiets down and looks at him. "Okay, not that I don’t like you guys, but what the fuck are you doing here?"
Lance breaks out in a Cheshire grin and walks over to sling an arm over Keith's shoulders, "Like I said, we're here to solve all your problems. More specifically, your ghost problem."
Keith blanks at that simple statement. Lance knows about the ghosts? They all do? And they're here?
What comes out of his mouth though is, "I don’t have a ghost problem."
Lance frowns at that, "Uh, yeah you do dude. They flooded your bathroom last night and threw shit at my head. Could'a warned a guy by the way. They freaked me the fuck out."
"Yeah man, you gotta warn people about that shit before you have people over," Hunk agrees.
"And that's why we're here," Pidge adds, "We're going to find all the ghosts so you can be prepared." They start passing out small black devices that look like a remote with only one button and lights along the top. "Okay, everyone take an EMF reader. Keith hand me that stuff," They take the equipment out of Keith's arms which include a set of headphones that attack to a handheld camera with a cone attached.
Lance and Hunk start messing around with the EMF readers immediately. Lance hold his up to Keith and asks, "Hey Pidge, can these tell if someone's been dead on the inside for years?" He snickers.
"Ha, ha. Fuck off." Keith pushes the device away from himself, the corner of his mouth ticking up in a small smile he tries to fight. "But seriously you guys, I don’t have an issue here."
"Seriously Keith?" Pidge looks unimpressed, then holds out their EMF reader to the table by the front door. The thing lights up and starts beeping like crazy.
Keith sighs. "Okay, yeah. The house is haunted, but it's not a problem."
"That kinda sounds like the definition of a problem buddy," Hunk says.
"No, really. I know where all the ghosts are and what they do, and I know how to handle it." Keith gestures at the table, "On this floor: table ghost throws anything you set on it that isn't a decoration, bathroom ghost floods the bathroom, and dining room ghost makes the classic 'rattling chains' noise." Keith points at the ceiling ignoring the looks of surprise on his friends' faces. "There's one in the attic that makes banging noises at night; they get louder when it's hot outside. And then obviously the basement ghost, but that one's my favorite; they just like to play my old board games. Last month I actually set up chess board and played a full game with them." Keith chuckles, "When I got them in checkmate, I came back to a flipped board. Figures a ghost would be a sore loser."
"So, see? I got it under control." Keith takes a breath and looks at his classmates. They look a little shocked to be honest, but that's to be expected when you explain how you've willingly been living in a haunted house for months.
"Dude..." Hunk looks like he has no other words to add to his statement; luckily Lance is there to fill in the gaps.
"Well that’s just plain fucked up." Lance puts his hands on his hips. "But there's a problem with your story, table ghost threw the decorations at me last night; you said they don’t throw those, only the extra stuff."
"Huh, you're right. They've never done that before." Keith bites back a smile, "Maybe they just don’t like you."
"Rude. Also: table ghost is an awful name, we gotta find out who these spirits were before they died."
"We could try an Ouija board." Pidge offers.
"Do we have to? Aren't those like, gateways for bad spirits?" Hunk asks.
Lance slings an arm around Hunk's shoulder, "Hunk, buddy, the spirits are already here. And I think they would appreciate being addressed by their actual names."
"Hey Keith, is it okay if I go around with my recorder and try to pick up shadow images of your ghosts?" Pidge asks, pointing their device toward the table.
"Uh, yeah sure." Keith shrugs.
"Here, turn it on!" Lance pulls his keys out of his pocket. "Ready?"
"Yeah," Pidge is recording the entryway table with a focused set to their face.
Lance sets his keys on the center of the table. They all watch as the keys float up and then fling toward the far couch, hitting the wall and sliding down behind seat.
"Woah!" Pidge shouts.
"Holy shit, you weren't making it up." Hunk looks a little green as he looses that last little bit of hope that this was all an elaborate ruse.
Keith sighs, "Alright, well you guys can explore the house. Ghosts are in the basement, dining room, first floor bathroom, and attic. There's a pull-down ladder in the hall outside the guest room upstairs. And uh, if you could leave my room alone, that would be great; it's kind of a mess right now. I'm going to finish the dishes."
"Come on Hunk!" Pidge gestures toward the stairs to the basement.
Keith turns back toward the kitchen to pick up where he left off scrubbing and rinsing the dishes. After a minute Lance appears next to him with a towel.
"You rinse, I dry." He grabs the first plate on the drying rack and gets to work. They stay like that, working quietly together for a few minutes before Lance breaks the silence again.
"You know, you could have talked to me about this, or told me before I came over." Lance says, trying to sound casual.
"Could I though? Would you have honestly believed me if I told you before?" Keith asks skeptically, handing him another plate without looking at him.
"Okay, fair point. But you could have told me this morning in class. Kinda left me hanging Buddy."
Keith sighs, handing Lance the last cup and turning off the water. "I know. I guess I didn't know what to tell you. How do you just come out and tell someone your house is haunted?" He asks rhetorically, "And I guess I was worried about how you would react. You were so freaked out when you left, I didn't want to see you and have you look at me like that again, or tell me we couldn't be friends because I'm a freak who willingly lives with ghosts. God, I was trying so hard to be your fucking friend and I ruined it." Keith cut himself off, blinking furiously to stave off the tears he could feel pricking at his eyes.
"Hey man," Lance's soothing voice washes over Keith and he feels a hand on his shoulder. "Look at me." Keith turns and looks Lance in the eye. Where he feared to find disgust or loathing he only found a soft look of understanding. "You didn't ruin it. Would I be here with an EMF reader trying to track down ghosts if we weren't friends?" Lance chuckles, "You know our stupid rivalry?"
"The stupid rivalry that you started?" Keith reminds him.
"Yeah, the one I started; that was my way of trying to be your friend too. I guess I thought trying to beat you in stupid competitions was the best way to get your attention."
"You already had my attention." Keith says without thinking.
Lance arches an eyebrow, "Oh yeah? I'm just too attractive and funny to be ignored, huh?"
Yeah, pretty much. "Nope, you're just kinda loud and always right behind me." Keith snarks back with a smile.
"Ugh, rude! Well I couldn't take my eyes off your mullet if I tried. It's like a train wreak too terrible to look away from."
"Please, you secretly love my hair." Keith's smile grows as he watches Lance's eyes go wide at being called out. He also notices that they're standing a lot closer together than they had been when they started. Lance's hand that had been on his shoulder had traveled down to rest lightly on his waist at some point when Keith wasn't paying attention.
Now that hand came back up to tuck part of his hair back behind his ear, "Maybe, but like you said, that's a secret." Lance says in a low voice. He's so close now, Keith can feel the puff of his breath on his cheek, and his brain short-circuiting at the closeness.
Keith doesn't know what was about to happen, and he may never find out, because the next thing he knows there's a voice clearing from the entry to the kitchen and he and Lance are jumping away from each other to opposite sides of the kitchen.
"No making out in the kitchen you guys." Pidge smirks at them. (Keith grumbles under his breath, "It's my kitchen," but he doesn't think anyone hears him.) "We got some super high readings around your house Keith in all the spots you mentioned. Both bedrooms are clear, we just stood outside your door; and we think the basement ghost followed us around because the reading stayed high the entire time we were down there, or there are more than one." She shrugs at that.
"Makes sense. Who would want to play board games alone?" Lance adds.
"True. We won't know for sure until we can get an Ouija board in here though." Pidge says.
"Well you guys want to come over Saturday night? We can order pizza and hang out with some ghosts." Keith offers, smiling again. (It's the first time he's invited over friends who know about the ghosts, kind of a milestone for him.)
"Yeah for sure." Lance agrees right away. "Hunk, you should make those garlic knots that are mind-numbingly good."
"I don't know man, those are lot of work..." Hunk says.
"But Huuuuunk," Lance whines, "My best bro, love of my life, husband if you'd have me, Keith hasn't had the delight, the honor, of trying them yet! And they'd go so well with the pizza!"
"And they're your favorite food," Pidge adds helpfully.
"And they're my FAVORITE FOOD." Lance gives Hunk his best puppy-eyes, putting on a big fake pout.
Hunk sighs, "Alright. But you're coming over Saturday morning to help me make them."
"Yes! Of course! I will be the shoe-chef of your dreams." Lance throws himself at Hunk for a hug.
"It's sous-chef you idiot." Pidge corrects him with a laugh. Keith joins her in laughter as Lance grumbles about 'semantics'.
It's probably the happiest he's ever been in his haunted house.
Also, check out my friend Raz's fanfiction! They’re a great writer.
And if you want to check out my tumblr, I'm here.
Can you spell "Sexual tension"?
*Everyone yelling from the audience* JUST KISS ALREADY
No. Not yet.
Big shout out to my work: Thanks for being hella slow so I have time to work on my fanfiction. I know I'm supposed to be cleaning a boat right now, but I just don't give a fuck tbh.
Chapter 6: Wake the Dead
It's pizza and séance night at Keith's house. Time to talk to some fricking ghosts!
Okay so this chapter gets a little heavy at the end. Keith is working through his abandonment issues, and it gets sad. I upped the rating on the fic because of this chapter, there's a not too graphic depiction of how the ghosts died.
Otherwise, get ready to finally meet the ghosts! It's a long chapter, and I would say the update delay is because it took a long time to write, but that would be a lie. I wrote the whole thing yesterday and edited today. I've just been busy with school and trying to have a social life.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Keith throws his tired body down on the couch. He just spent the entire afternoon cleaning his house so that it looks respectable for his friends that should be arriving shortly. Earlier while he was lounging in his room thinking about tonight, Keith had a strange sort of epiphany: he was having friends over that not only knew about the ghosts, but also still wanted to be there to help him. This revelation sent him into a blind panic that his house wasn't ready for guests.
Now as he lay on his couch, he thinks back to earlier and the idea that this is the first time since Shiro that anyone's stuck around. He had always pushed away anyone that he thought was getting too close to him for fear that when they go too close, when they actually knew him, they would leave. But somehow, these three people flew under his radar. Pidge started it, really. They had been practically forced together because of their brothers' relationship; Keith had tried to be distant, but they just kept working their way into his life, not letting him be, "a surly emo idiot" as Pidge had put it the first time they dragged him out to see the midnight release of a horror film. They opened the gate to others, namely Hunk and Lance. No matter how many times he declines their invitations to hang out, they keep inviting him. Then they took it a step further when they literally invited themselves over to hunt ghosts in his house.
And then there was that moment in his kitchen with Lance. What was that? Had they been about to kiss? It sure felt like they had been about to. Not that Keith would have minded, hell, his stomach still does flips when he remembers it; Lance's fingers tucking his hair behind his ear, his other hand on his bare waist, the warmth of how close they were... Fuck. Heat rushes to Keith's face, and below his belt. Wouldn't do to pop a boner right before Lance and the others are about to show up. Whatever is happening between them, Keith can't get himself to want it to stop, it feels too nice to actually have someone want to be close to him, even after knowing some of the weirder and sadder stuff about his life. Lance snuck in, got to know him, and before Keith had a chance to push him away, he stayed; effectively nullifying his fear that anyone who knew him would want to leave.
They all did it; Shiro, Pidge, Lance, even Hunk. Maybe Keith would have to rethink his stance on not letting people get close enough to know him. Maybe.
Banging on the door interrupts his internal reevaluation of his life choices.
"Hey Samuri! Open up! We got some dope ass garlic knots and the pizza guy pulled up behind us!" Lance's voice comes through the door.
Keth smiles at the nickname, he's never had so many before he met Lance. Jumping up, he goes to open the door, pausing to glare at the hall table before swinging open the door to reveal a smiling Lance holding a covered baking tray.
"What's cookin' good lookin'?" Lance winks at him as he walks into the house, Hunk follows him in carrying a laptop, and Pidge right behind him holding the Ouija board. "Did you preheat the oven like I asked?" Lance shouts from the kitchen.
"Yeah, it should be ready," Keith calls back, then turns to the pizza delivery guy walking up to his door.
"Hey, I have a large Hawaiian and a large Supreme for Keith?" Keith nods. "Cool, sign here."
"I'll grab those," Hunk says, walking up behind Keith. He grabs the pizza while Keith figures out what to tip and takes them to the kitchen.
Keith follows him into the kitchen where he finds Pidge sitting up on the counter, Hunk setting the pizzas on the island, and Lance grabbing plates from the cupboard. Keith gives them a rueful smile, "Make yourselves at home guys."
"Done and done!" Pidge chirps.
"Anything I can help with?" Keith asks.
"Naw, knots are warming up in the oven, pizza's already cut, let's eat!" Lance hands him a plate and they dish up.
"I can't believe you heathens ordered pineapple pizza," Pidge says, making a face at the slices Hunk and Lance grab.
"Pineapple pizza is a delicacy few can appreciate. Right Keith?" Lance grins at him.
"Actually..." Keith just grabs a slice of the meat and veggie pizza.
"At least one of you has some taste." Pidge smirks.
"Well, I've never tried it," Keith admits. "It always just sounded gross."
"What! Okay, you gotta try a bite. Here!" Lance hold up his slice to Keith's face expectantly. Keith frowns, but takes a bite and chews thoughtfully. "So?"
Lance rolls his eyes, "Yes, that's the point; but do you like it?"
"I don't know! Here, give me another bite."
Lance hold up the slice again for Keith to take a bite. "Dude, if you're taking a second bite that means you like it."
"Yeah, now get your own slice so we don't have to keep watching Lance feed you." Pidge snarks at them.
Keith blushes a deep red. The oven timer goes off, saving him from having to comment on the fact that Lance had been feeding him.
"Garlic knots are ready!" Lance practically shouts. "You'll love these, they're the best food this world has to offer."
"Yeah, they're pretty amazing," Pidge agrees. "Or maybe it's just Hunk's culinary genius."
"Aw, Pidge! That's the nicest thing you've said all week!" Hunk coos.
"Yep, and I hit my limit. One nice thing a week is all you pineapple loving hooligans get."
"That sounds about right," Keith says, taking a garlic knot from the plate Lance offers. He takes a bite, and the buttery, garlicy dough melts in his mouth. "Hunk, these are fucking delicious," Keith compliments after he finishes the mouthful.
"I told you!" Lance crows, taking his own piece.
"I totally get why these are your favorite food. If I didn't love ramen so much, this might just win."
"Seriously? Ramen? I had more faith in you Keith," Hunk chides.
"Not like, stove-top ramen," Keith corrects himself, "The good stuff you get at restaurants with chashu pork and egg. There's usually some onion and menma too."
"That... character from the Naruto movie?" Pidge asks skeptically. Lance snorts, covering his mouth trying not to laugh and lose the food he just took a bite of.
Keith huffs a laugh too, "No, it's fermented bamboo shoots, and they're delicious."
"Okay, that does sound a lot better than the ramen I was thinking of," Hunk concedes.
"Yeah that does sound pretty good, we should go sometime." Lance says.
"Sure, my favorite place is downtown on 2nd and Pine, you guys want to check it out some night this week?" Keith asks.
"Hell yeah!" Lance smiles.
Hunk starts to say something when he's cut off by Pidge giving him a pointed look, "Hunk and I have a project we need to work on for our robotics lab, but let us know how it is and we can all go another time."
"Oh yeah, that's a big project, twenty percent of our final grade. You guys go this week and next week we can all check it out together." Hunk smiles at the both of them.
"Okaaaay," Keith is a little confused by their quick refusal when they hadn't even picked a day yet, but he shakes it off and turns to Lance, who's glaring at their friends behind his back, "So does Wednesday night work for you?"
Lance immediately stops glaring at Pidge and Hunk when he notices Keith's attention back on him, "Yeah that works for me."
"Cool, you're done with class at three, right? How about I pick you up at seven?" And OH. Now he gets it. It'll just be him and Lance at dinner. He's picking Lance up. It's like a date.
"Yep, cool. Cool, cool, cool. Totally cool." Lance stuffs a garlic knot in his mouth to shut himself up.
Pidge snickers from their perch on the counter. After a few seconds of awkward silence once everyone knows what's going on, Pidge finally takes mercy on them, "So, who's ready to contact some mother fucking ghosts!"
"Pidge, language!" Lance scolds them, going to cover Hunk's ears. Keith laughs at the face Hunk makes.
"Dude, what the fuck?" Hunk chuckles.
"PIDGE. LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE." Lance glares at them, "You've corrupted him!" Which just makes Keith laugh harder. Trying to catch his breath, Keith doesn't see the soft, fond look Lance gives him; but Hunk does.
"Alright, alright," Hunk says, pushing Lance out of his personal space and giving him a teasing look, "Let's go get set up in the living room."
They take their slices of pizza and garlic knots out with them, Keith grabs the pitcher of juice from the fridge and some cups then follows them out.
"Is that orange juice?" Pidge asks.
"Sunny-D." Keith sets it down on a side table by the couch next to where Lance is sitting.
"Sweet, the good stuff." Lance leans over and pours himself a cup. "Okay, so who's done this before? I'm assuming you Pidge, 'cause you already had an Ouija board at your house."
"Yeah, I bought it to freak out Matt," Pidge confirms taking a seat across from Lance on the other couch.
"I want no part in touching that thing, so I'm going to man the computer looking up names, dates, and deaths," Hunk says, settling down in the spot next to Pidge.
Keith takes the last seat next to Lance, their legs press together so they can both be close enough to the board Pidge is setting up. "I've never done this before, what do I do?" He asks.
Lance is the one to answer, "It's pretty simple, I looked it up on WikiHow last night. So, we all put our pointer fingers on the indicator thing, then we pick a 'medium' to officially ask the spirits our questions; I nominate Pidge."
"Cool, then the spirits move the indicator around the board and answer our questions. The instructions said to start off with easy questions, and don't ask anything too difficult or rude. When we're done, we have to remember to 'intentionally move the indicator to "goodbye"' or else it opens a gateway for more spirits." Lance explains.
"Sounds easy enough." Keith shrugs and moves to put his fingers on the plastic pointer.
"It's called a planchette, Lance." Pidge says, rolling her eyes. They put their fingers next to Keith's, then Lance follows suit. "Let's get started." They say with a devious smirk.
"Hey demons, it's me, ya boi, Lance."
"LANCE." Pidge glares at him.
"Sorry, couldn't help myself," Lance says with a self-satisfied grin.
"Oh my god. Okay." Pidge rolls their eyes, then focuses on the board. "Hello spirits of Keith's house. We're trying to officially introduce ourselves and get to know you, since Keith is going to be living here for a while. We thought it would be nice to know each other's names, even though you probably already know ours." They look up at Keith, "So what do you want to know first?"
"Uh, how about hall table ghost's name?" Keith suggests, they're the one that gives him the most trouble.
"Okay, ghost that throws stuff off the hall table; if you wouldn't mind telling us, what is your name?"
They all wait, holding their breath until the planchette actually starts to move. Keith feels a chill run down his spine. He didn't know what to expect, but all this spirit stuff is starting to feel oddly real. They watch as the planchette moves slowly to spell out K-A-R-E-N. Karen. Seriously? That sounds like a suburban white soccer-mom more than a ghost haunting his house.
"Alright Karen, nice to meet you. I'm Pidge, this is Hunk, Lance, and Keith is the one who lives here. Keith," they direct back to him, "next question."
"Why do you throw anything I set down on the hall table." The obvious second question.
"Okay, well that's where I want to set my keys."
Lance busts out laughing, "Oh my god Karen, you're my new favorite."
Keith frowns, "Okay, rude. What if I get a dish or something to hold the keys so they have a spot."
There's a long pause before the planchette moves again. F-I-N-E
"Thank you, Karen," Lance sing-songs.
"Okay, it was nice to meet you Karen, but if you don't mind, I'd like to ask the names of the other spirits here," Pidge redirects the conversation.
Hunk laughs, "Looks like you made a friend, buddy."
"Bye Karen, it was nice to meet you," Lance says, winking toward the hall table.
"Lance, quit flirting with the dead," Pidge scolds him.
"You could say I'm... flirting with death," Lance jokes, wiggling his eyebrows.
Pidge rolls her eyes. "Okay, so who wants to introduces themselves next."
The planchette moves to "Hello" then pauses.
"Sup ghost, who're we talking to?" Lance asks, sounding like a radio show host.
"Hi, Harold. What part of the house do you live in?" Pidge asks.
"Cool, you make that rattling chains noise, right? Why is that?" they ask.
"Seriously, dude?" Keith almost lets go of the planchette to throws his hands up, he's getting seriously tired of the ghosts living in his house turning out to be assholes.
"Okay, that's a little messed up Harry, even for a ghost." Lance agrees.
Pidge asks, "Does it bother you when Keith uses the dining room?" The indicator moves to NO. "Well, there you go Keith, you can use your dining room again," they say cheerfully. "Thanks so much Harry. Send the next ghost up if you would."
"Pidge why are you never that nice to us?" Lance asks.
"Because you won't haunt my ass if I'm mean to you." They say without hesitating.
"Okay who's next?" Pidge asks the board.
"Is Bertie a nickname for anything?" Hunk asks, startling Keith. He's been so quiet up until then taking his notes, he didn't expect him to say anything; and from the way Lance jumps, he didn't expect Hunk's question either.
"Woah, you've been pretty quiet over there Hunky. What're you working on?" Lance asks.
"I'm looking up all these people so we can learn more about their lives." Hunk explains.
"Cool, thanks Bertie!" Hunk says.
"So Bertie, what's your room?" Pidge asks.
"Do you do that banging thing when it gets too hot?" Keith asks.
"Called it." He smirks. "I'll see what I can do about that."
"Anything else to add?" Lance asks.
"Oh, the roof is leaking into the attic? Thanks for letting me know," Keith says gratefully. Damn, maybe contacting the ghosts was a good idea after all.
"Okay so that just leaves the ghost or ghosts in the basement. Anyone wanna step up and say hi?" Pidge asks.
"Oh, I like this one." Lance says with a grin.
"Oh hell yeah," Pidge laughs, "Sup basement ghost, what's your name?"
"Short for Robert?" Hunk asks.
"Can I call you Bobert?" Lance jokes.
"Fair enough, dude."
"Is there anyone else down in the basement?" Keith asks.
"Do they want to introduce themselves?" Pidge asks.
"Why not? Are they evil?" Hunk looks nervously around himself.
"Can you tell us their name?" Lance tries.
"Oh, your sister Heather? I guess that makes sense," Hunk says.
"What does that mean?" Pidge shoots him a look.
"I'll explain later," he says cryptically.
"Fine. Any more questions Keith?"
"Yeah, do you guys want any other board games down there?"
"Okay, I got it man. I'll see what I can get." Keith chuckles.
The planchette shudders under their touch and then starts to move again.
"I'm guessing that's Heather," Pidge guesses. "What kind of books do you want? I can grab some from my house."
"Hey! I have books," Keith objects.
"What was that again, Keith?" Pidge asks with a hint of smugness.
"I have sci-fi books!"
"Keith, I know for a fact the last book you read was about the loch-ness monster," they sass.
"Couldn't have said it better myself, Bobert." Lance nudges Keith with his knee that's still pressed up against Keith's. He'd forgotten how close they were sitting. Nope, focus on the ghosts.
"Alright, fine. Hey, I actually have one more question," Keith turns the conversation back to the original purpose. "Can you guys move around the house, or are you stuck in your rooms?"
"Ooh, good question Keith!" Lance encourages him.
"Does she make you stay in certain places?" Pidge asks.
"Hey, be nice to Karen!" Lance objects.
"Alright, no fighting." Pidge reels them in, "Thanks for talking you guys, but we have one more ghost to talk to. Who's been flooding the bathroom?"
"Yeah, you really freaked me out dude." Lance pouts.
"Okay, first of all, rude." Lance frowns at the board, "Was that you Robbie?"
"Dude, why?" Keith doesn't understand, the guy has games down there! What would drive him to floor the bathroom?
"Yeah, but it also bugs me," Keith points out. "And you scared Lance."
"Heather won't play... Oh, so you flood the bathroom when you're bored," Pidge surmises.
"If I put a video game down there will you please stop?" Keith asks.
"Cool. I'll do that soon," Keith promises.
"I think it's time to wrap this up. Thanks for talking to us you guys!" Lance says to the room at large, then nods to Pidge.
"Yes, thank you for your time. I'll bring some good books for you Heather. And if any of you want to ask Keith something, I'm going to leave a note pad in the dining room for you to leave messages on. Sound good?"
"Alright then, talk to you later." Pidge pushes the planchette to the big 'Goodbye' on the board, then lifts her hands off of the plastic piece. "Congratulations guys, we successfully talked to some mother fuckin' GHOSTS!!!!" They fling their arms in the air and jump up, "That was the coolest thing I've ever done!"
"Dios mio, I can't believe we just did that. My mama would kill me if she knew I messed with the spirits," Lance laughs, leaning back into the couch, settling in next to Keith.
"I feel like the spirits messed with you more than the other way around," Keith points out. "It's kind of nice to have names for all of my ghosts now though."
"Yeah, you can stop calling Karen 'table ghost' now," Lance says.
"Speaking of Karen," Pidge smirks at Lance, "I think she likes you," they sing-song.
"Of course, what's not to like." Lance gestures broadly up and down his body. Keith can't really argue, not that he'll admit that out loud.
"Whatever Lance," Pidge rolls their eyes, "So Hunk, what did you find?"
With everyone's attention turned to Hunk, he straightens up and turns his laptop toward them. "So, turns out they all died at the same time."
"What? How?" Pidge asks.
"House fire thirty years ago," Hunk explains. "Harold and Karen were married, Robbie and Heather were his kids from his first marriage, and Bertie is Karen's father who was living with them at the time. Apparently, his ex-wife went crazy and set a fire in the middle of the night."
There's a long pause while everyone absorbs the information, until Lance breaks the silence.
"That... pretty fucked up."
"Yeah, the news article was really sad." Hunk frowns. "But there's not much we can do about that now, is there? So, let's focus on making the house a little more comfortable for them, with the added benefit of them not doing weird ghost stuff to annoy Keith."
"That would be appreciated," Keith agrees. He looks at the clock on the wall, and is surprised to see that its almost past midnight, way later than he thought it would be. "It's getting pretty late, are you guys going to head home, or do you want to sleep over? I've got the guest bedroom upstairs, and then these two couches."
"Hunk and I call dibs on the guest bed!" Pidge screeches, darting up from the couch and running up the stairs to physically claim her spot. Hunk shrugs and follows her, saying good night as he walks away.
"That gremlin." Lance pouts, "I don't want to sleep by myself down stairs! This house is haunted!"
Keith has a horrible idea. Really, it's stupid. There's no possible outcome that doesn't end in embarrassment or at the very least, an incredibly awkward situation.
"You could sleep in my room." Traitorous mouth, saying things without brain's permission.
"Seriously?" Lance quirks an eyebrow.
"No, you're right, it was a stupid suggestion. I'll grab you a pillow and some blankets for the couch." Keith stands up, his face glowing with the embarrassment he knew had been coming.
A hand grabs his, stopping him from running away, "Woah, slow down. I'd rather sleep with you than down here where Karen can watch me." Lance stands to match Keith, "Lead the way." He gestures with his free hand, the other still holding Keith's. Neither of them let go.
Keith leads Lance to his room. It's not too small; three of the walls are light gray, the fourth a deep red with the headboard of the bed centered on it. The red duvet matches the wall, but with a subtle pattern of waves sown into the fabric. The dark wood desk has a few books scattered on it, and the shelves next to the desk are packed with book and movies.
"Damn man, you got an aesthetic going on here," Lance comments on the red and gray color scheme.
"How is this any different than your ocean and sky theme?" Keith goes over to his dresser and pulls out two pairs of pajamas.
"Okay, first of all, my theme is blue-skies, I don't know where the ocean part came from." Lance catches the flannel pants Keith tosses to him, "Second, that's only my theme at my parents' house; my apartment has a similar, yet more mature theme of night-skies, or simply: space. Third, yours is way more intense."
"The room was already painted like this when I moved in, I just decorated accordingly," Keith explains, "And you had a surf board in the corner of your room; plus, the ocean is blue," he adds.
"I didn't realize you saw that." Lance starts shucking off his clothes to pull on the pajamas. If Keith doesn't turn around right now and pretend to look for something in the dresser he's going to stare like an idiot. Forcing himself to turn, Keith is able to focus on what Lance is saying. "I learned to surf in Cuba when we went to visit my Mama's family a few years ago. Now I have my own board, and whenever I go to visit my cousins in California I take it with me. It's kind of a family thing, learning to surf; only my little sisters still have to learn, since they're the youngest cousins and don't get to visit the ocean as much."
"That's really cool, Shiro and I don't have a lot of family traditions, but he did teach me to ride a motorcycle," Keith says as he changes into his pajamas. Once he's changed he turns to Lance who's folding his clothes and setting them on the desk chair. Keith smiles at Lance being so neat in his room when he knows Lance usually just throws his clothes on the ground or in a hamper at night. Keith goes to grab a pillow and a blanket off of the bed, throwing them on the ground where he's going to make his bed for the night.
"What are you doing?" Lance raises an eyebrow at the blankets on the floor.
"Uh, this is where I'm going to sleep?"
"No, dude, I can't take your bed from you!" Lance protests.
"Yes you can, see?" Keith lays down on the floor, "I'm already laying down and the bed is wide open."
"Nope, nuh uh." Lance throws himself down on top of Keith, smothering him. "See? If you're on the ground, I'm on the ground; that way it's fair."
"Well now no one is in the bed, doofus," Keith points out.
"True." Lance thinks for a minute, "What if... we share the bed? It's big enough, and then you don't have to sleep on the floor, and I don't have to feel bad that you're sleeping on the floor."
Keith didn't want to suggest it, but if Lance is the one offering to share the bed, then it's fine right? "Alright, get up then. Your crushing me."
Lance chuckles and pulls himself to his feet, then offers Keith his hand to help him up. Once he's up, Keith pulls down the covers of the bed, getting in on the far side. Lance follow suit, and soon they're lying next to each other, both facing the ceiling with their hands resting on their stomachs.
"So, what's your usual pillow talk?" Keith can hear the cheeky smile Lance is wearing with the tone his question.
"Oh my god, Lance." Keith runs a hand down his face.
"I'm just teasing!" Lance laughs softly, "So how does it feel to finally know a little bit more about the ghosts in your house?"
"Honestly? I don't know if it makes that much of a difference. I still see them as just... the ghosts I live with? I mean, now they have names, and I'll probably feel differently about them as I get to know them; but for now, they're still just the family that lived and died here before me."
"I get what you mean; and I agree that you're feelings about them will probably change as time passes. You'll just have to get to know them." Lance is quiet for a long minute, Keith almost thinks he's asleep before Lance speaks again.
"It must be sad to die with your whole family like that."
"It's probably better than being the only survivor," Keith answers without thinking. The thought had been on his mind since Hunk told them how they all died earlier.
"Keith..." Lance rolls over to face him, Keith doesn't want to look at the sad, pitying look Lance is probably giving him. "I'm so sorry, I just said that without thinking. I didn't mean to drag any bad memories up, I'm sorry."
Keith finally turns to look at Lance, who seems more worried that pitying, "It's okay Lance, I was already thinking about it."
"You shouldn't feel bad about surviving though; I don't think your parents would have wanted that." Lance frowns.
"I know, but still, sometimes I think it would have been easier if I'd've..." Keith sighs; he doesn't finish his sentence. He doesn't have to.
"Hey," Lance reaches out and takes his hand, running a soothing thumb over Keith's knuckles, "Easier and better are two different things. And what about Shiro? You aren't the only survivor; you have each other."
"He wasn't in the car, Lance. I was." Keith has never told anyone that part of the story before; only Shiro and the official police report know that information, but he just... told Lance. Laying in bed together, it makes him feel like maybe sharing this part of himself can be okay. That it's okay to not want to shoulder the weight of his guilt alone.
Lance sighs softly, and Keith understands, what are you supposed to say to that? "I can't... I can't make that feeling go away for you Keith, and I'm sorry. I know survivor's guilt is a thing, and it can be a heavy burden to carry; but I want to at least try to help. If that means just being here to listen, then I'm here." Keith's eyes prick with tears. I'm here, he says it so casually like it isn't the most meaningful thing he could have said to me. "And for the record, I'm glad you survived."
"Thanks, Lance. You've already helped more than you probably think." Keith gives his hand a light squeeze, "And for the record, I'm glad I'm here too."
"Any time, Samurai," Lance says with a sleepy yawn.
They fall asleep holding hands. As he's drifting off, Keith's last thought is that he could probably get used to having this beautiful boy by his side.
So were you sad? Tell me about it in the comments.
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Chapter 7: Evicted
It's the next morning and someone needs to find a new place to live.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Waking up, Keith is a lot warmer than he normally is in the morning. Usually, he huddles into his blanket to try and keep as much of the heat in as he can; but now he's feeling like he can't get the blankets off fast enough. Why is his bed so freaking hot?
Opening his eyes, Keith finds his head pillowed on Lance's chest, their intertwined hands resting near his face. Well... alright then. He's too tired to panic about this new development so he's just going to enjoy it while it lasts. Taking further stock, Keith finds that his leg is thrown over one of Lance's, and Lance's other arm is wrapped around his back. They're definitely cuddling, like, there's no way either of them could deny it.
Before Keith could even start to figure out what he should do about his predicament, Lance inhales deeply and starts to fidget as he wakes up. Keith feels Lance nuzzle his nose into his hair, hears him yawn and smack his lips, then feels Lance pick up his head to look at who's wrapped around him like a damn octopus. Keith steels himself before looking up to see a soft, sleep-warm, smiling Lance looking back at him.
"Morning, beautiful," Lance greets him.
Keith's face heats up, but he can't bring himself to look away from Lance's adorable smile, "Uh, good morning. Sorry about this." He gestures with their linked hands at their intertwined bodies.
"Don't worry about it; I haven't woken up this comfortable in a while," Lance says squeezing his hand lightly. Keith hides his face, tucking it into the crook of Lance's neck; noting how nice Lance smells, like warm sun, coconut, and a hint of the ocean. How is he this suave so early in the morning? How can he roll with waking up next to Keith so easily? But Lance's ease in the situation is settling his own nerves about it, so maybe it's for the best.
Someone bangs on the bedroom door, then immediately lets themselves in. It's Pidge, their phone is already out and taking a picture of the two of them cuddled in bed before Keith even realizes where the shudder sound is coming from.
"Hey guys, Hunk is making breakfast downstairs. Also, thanks for the chicken nuggets," They says before exiting as quickly as they entered.
"… What?" It's too early for this.
Keith can feel Lance chuckling beneath him, "I think Pidge won a bet." Lance unwinds his arms from around Keith to raise them above his head and stretch with a groan, then settles them back about shorter boy, hugging him lightly. "Come on, Hunk makes great French toast."
Keith doesn't want to move. Cuddling with Lance is nice, and it's warm, and it feels good. He's naturally a morning person, but being here with Lance makes him want to sleep in. The world can't be avoided though; they hear crash come from downstairs. Keith frowns, and sets about dragging himself away from the comfort of Lance's body.
They walk down the stairs to find Pidge about to set one of Keith's decorative swords on Karen's table.
"Pidge." Keith frowns at them.
They look up at him sheepishly. "I just wanted to see how she would throw it," they shrug, "javelin style, or like a throwing knife."
"Well now I'm curious," Lance says grinning at him.
Keith sighs, gesturing for Pidge to proceed in their experiment. His friends whoop in excitement, and Pidge sets the sword on Karen's table. They wait a moment and it floats up; but instead of flying across the room, it moves slowly, point down, toward where it usually hangs and is carefully put back.
Keith bursts out laughing at the look of utter disappointment on Pidge and Lance's faces. "Oh my god, thank you Karen."
"But... Karen! You threw the pocket knife!" Pidge says frustrated, throwing their arms in the air.
"You had her throw a pocket knife?" Keith raises an eyebrow at them.
"Uh, yeah?" They gesture at pocket knife resting on the far couch, next to a couple shoes and Hunk's phone.
Lance just chuckles and wraps an arm around Keith's waist, causing him to blush furiously. "Come on, let's see what Hunk's cooking."
"Y-Yeah, okay." Keith stammers out. Pidge smirks at them and follows into the kitchen, taking another photo while they're distracted. Lance's notices though.
"Pidgey, why're you taking photos of us?" He asks.
"Blackmail, or to show at your wedding. Whichever comes first." They smile wickedly as the boys sputter, but don’t pull away from each other.
"Morning guys, how did you sleep?" Hunk asks innocently.
"I slept great, thanks for asking." Lance smiles.
"You do usually sleep better when you're cuddled up with someone," Hunk comments.
"Did Pidge tell you?" Keith asks.
"Yeah, and now I owe her McNuggets for lunch every day this week," Hunk grumbles good naturedly as he fiddles with the pan on the stove.
"Wow, I can't believe you bet against me. My pride, Hunky; you've hurt it." Lance clutches a hand against his heart. Keith bites back his grin at the Cuban boy's antics as he finally snakes his way out from under Lance's arm and pulls up a seat at the island in the kitchen.
"Hey, I thought Keith would be smart enough not to fall for your 'lets-just-share-the-bed' routine."
Lance blushes. "He was going to sleep on the floor!"
"Oh my god, you two are disgusting." Pidge makes a gaging noise.
"Breakfast is ready, topic over!" Lance grabs the plate that Hunk just put the finished French toast on and brings it over to the island where they're going to eat.
"Did anyone make coffee?" Keith asks, also ready to change the topic.
"I did!" Pidge confirms happily. Keith is grateful he doesn’t have to wait for his caffeine, when Lance stops him from going to the coffee machine with a hand on his shoulder.
"Be careful man, Pidge's coffee will give you ulcers if you drink too high doses." Lance tries to look serious, but there's a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
"Hey, rude." Pidge frowns. "My coffee is perfect, and anything less is basically just coffee flavored water," they say, taking a sip of their own black coffee for emphasis.
Lance leans over to point at them as Keith makes his way to the machine, "Your coffee is practically just the beans ground up into a paste."
Keith pours himself a cup of coffee in his favorite red mug, "Let me be the judge of that." He takes a sip, then almost chokes at spits it out at the strong flavor.
"See! It's undrinkable!" Lance throws his noodle arms in the air for emphasis.
Keith goes to the fridge and pours a small amount of almond milk in his mug, he takes another sip. The milk softens the taste to make it bearable. "You're both right." He grins at Lance's indignant squawk and Pidge's triumphant laugh, "Pidge this is strong as fuck, what kind of dark magic are you using?"
"The same kind Shiro uses to get his winged eyeliner so perfect." They shrug with a grin.
"No Pidge, he uses good fairy magic for that. Your coffee is evil; thus, dark magic," Lance explains.
"Either way, a soul was sold," Hunk says.
"No! Don't you guys know anything about good magic?" Lance asks. Keith rolls his eyes at the ridiculous turn the conversation has taken. "Good magic is earned by being pure of heart, or doing good deeds."
"Then my brother definitely sold his soul," Keith defends Hunk's point.
"Lance." Keith pins him with a look, "Tasered for fifteen dollars."
Lance deflates. "Shit. You're right."
Pidge and Hunk lose their shit, and demand to be told Keith's side of the story; Pidge having heard Shiro's from Matt. They finish their breakfast laughing over stories of their siblings being ridiculous, Lance adding some his own, and Hunk commenting on being relieved that he's an only child.
Soon, breakfast is done and Hunk is stretching as he stands up to take his plate to the sink.
"We better head out, Pidge and I have to finish up a project for our CS lab." Hunk says.
"Ugh. Yeah, I was looking at that code on my phone last night and I think I know what was going wrong," Pidge answers also getting up to clear her plate.
"You heading out too Lance?" Keith asks.
"And leave you with all the dishes? One of us has to help clean up, and I volunteer as tribute," Lance says with a grin.
"Wow Lance, your motives are so pure and good hearted." Pidge smirks.
"When are they not Pidge?" Lance challenges them.
Pidge opens their mouth for a snarky reply, but Hunk covers her mouth with one of his large hands first, "Yes Lance, your motives are always nothing but chivalrous. We could only hope to be half the man you are." Pidge licks his hand, making him release they with a yelp.
"Anyway," Pidge rolls her eyes at Hunk now wiping his hand off on his pants, "We're going to head out."
Lance and Keith help the other two pack up Hunk's baking supplies and the Ouija board, as well as some of the left-over garlic knots for each of them to take home.
"Well see you two later," Hunk says as he walks out the door.
"And don't do anything I wouldn't do," Pidge adds with a wink.
"What does that even mean?" Keith wonders to himself.
"Eh, don’t worry about it." Lance shuts the door. "So, dishes; I wash, you dry this time?" He asks with a sunny smile that dazes Keith. Really, it's not fair that he has such a beautiful face.
"Yeah sounds good," Keith finally gets out.
They move into the kitchen and Lance starts running the water, grabbing the first plate to soap and rinse. Keith stands by with the dish towel in his hand, watching as the morning light filters in thought the window to wash Lance in gold and shine in the tips of his hair, giving him a halo of sunshine. It's so very fitting, Keith thinks.
Lance hands him the wet dish, pulling Keith back to reality.
"Hey, uh, thanks for helping out with the dishes. You didn't have to do this." Keith says, breaking their comfortable silence.
"No problem, I have to go back to my apartment after this which is always a pain; so really, you're saving me," Lance says, handing him the next plate.
"What's so bad about your apartment?"
"It’s more my roommate than my apartment." Lance rolls his eyes. "Lotor is always on my case about something stupid, like my face products taking up too much room by the sink or my shampoo smells too strong after I use it in the morning. Oh! And yesterday he literally stormed out of the dining room because I was chewing too loud. I can understand being sensitive to sound, and chewing can be kind of gross; but my mouth was closed and I was in the dining room. If I can't eat in the designated eating spot, then where am I supposed to go? Lance threw up his hands, ending his rant by sending a splatter of suds up and into his hair. This boy is a ridiculous, adorable mess.
Keith reaches up and brushes some bubbles out of his hair, "Well, the solution to your roommate problem is obvious."
"Oh really?" Lance arches an eyebrow. "Pray tell, what is the answer to all of my problems?"
Lance bursts out laughing. "Oh my god Keith. I'm not going to kill him!"
Keith smiles along with him, "Well at least kick him out. You said the other day you pay like two thirds of the rent, right? Tell him to stop complaining or start pulling his own weight, or he's out."
Lance sighs, "Ugh, I wish. The apartment is actually his though. His name is on the lease; technically I'm subletting a room from him."
"That's... kinda fucked up." Keith can't think of a nicer way to say it.
"Yeah, I should really move out but," he shrugs, "For how close it is to campus, I'm actually getting a semi-decent price. Not everyone can get the haunted house discount," Lance jokes, bumping his hip against Keith's. "And I don't want to move back in with my moms, they're amazing, but I don't think I could give up the freedom of living on my own, you know?"
"Yeah, I get that," Keith agrees. "I don't know if you would want my haunted house discount though, it does include being literally haunted," he adds a little ruefully.
"Are you kidding? Your ghosts are great! Isn't that right Karen?" Lance addresses to the room at large. A banana lifts up and is thrown straight at them and into the sink.
"Delightful," Lance concludes, holding back a laugh.
Keith can't help it, he cracks up at Lance's blasé attitude toward being the target of one of his ghosts. His laughter tips Lance over the ends until they're both gasping for breath, holding themselves upright with the counter and a hand on each other's shoulder. It takes a handful of deep breaths to calm them down enough to speak.
"Well, if you ever need a place to stay away from your crap roommate, I have an extra room," Keith offers before he thinks too hard about what he's saying, "I can't promise Karen won't watch you sleep though."
"Who can blame her? I'm adorable when I'm asleep." Lance grins and finishes up washing the last dish. "I'll keep that in mind though, Lotoreal is pretty shitty."
“He doesn’t sound amazing.” Keith dries the last dish and puts it away.
“So what do you have to do today?”
“I was going to go get something for the hall to put my keys in for Karen, and I also need to replace the mirror that, uh, broke. I was probably going to go to Target or something.” Keith shrugs. “What about you?”
“I have to head home, there’s a pile of laundry with my name on it.” A look of realization crosses Lance’s face, “Hey, uh, you wouldn’t be able to give me ride would you? I just remembered that Hunk gave me a ride here.”
Keith chuckles, “Yeah sure, no problem.”
They head upstairs to get ready for the day and Lance changes back into the day clothes he wore yesterday. Twenty minutes later they’re heading out the door with Lance calling out a goodbye to Karen and winking at the hall table.
“Thanks again for the ride, I kinda spaced this morning about Hunk driving me, although you would think that he would have remembered.”
“Yeah must have slipped his mind,” Keith comments. Probably not though, he and Pidge were definitely being weird this morning about Lance and I. He puts the car in park outside Lance’s apartment; it’s only a couple blocks East of campus, but would have been a trek from his house.
“Well, see you tomorrow!” Lance says with a cheery smile and hops out of the car. Keith watches him walk up to his front door, turn back to give a little wave, and go inside.
“Oh good, you’re finally home.” Lotor’s voice calls from the living room as Lance steps into his apartment. Lance sighs as he walks to where Lotor is sitting on the couch. “You need to move out.”
Lance gapes at his roommate who’s sitting on the couch reading a book as if what he just said was just a passing statement like ‘it’s your night for dishes,’ or ‘we should vacuum this weekend.’
“Excuse me?” Lance drops his bag to the ground.
“I’ve decided you need to move out. Some of the girls need a place that’s closer so we can have our band practice more conveniently and what’s more convenient than here? Acxa and Narti will be taking your room,” He explains not looking up from his book.
“You can’t just kick me out with no notice!” Lance crosses his arms.
“Actually, I can. The contract you signed said I only have to give you three days notice before eviction for any reason.” He closes the book and grabs the papers sitting on the coffee table Lance hadn’t paid attention to until now. It was their contract, opened to a page in the middle with small print at the bottom highlighted. It takes Lance a couple of reads to get through the jargon to find that it does in fact say he only has three days.
“Well that’s fucked up dude! What the hell!” He throws the contract back on the coffee table. “Why would you even put that in there, I won’t have any time to find a new place.”
“It’s there so I don’t have to listen to your complaining any longer than necessary. Three days is enough time to move your stuff out. To where is of no import to me.” Lotor opens his book again and starts to read, no longer paying attention to Lance standing a few feet away furious with this pompous asshole.
Instead of slapping the book out of the jackass’s hand, he goes up to his room to survey all of the stuff he now only has a few days to pack up and find a new place for. Fury is still coursing through his veins as he pulls out his suitcase and starts throwing clothes and basic necessities in; like hell he’s going to spend one more night in this fucked up environment. Fuck Lotor. He can find a new place in three days, and a better one too.
A few hours later, Lance heaves his suitcase down the stairs, his backpack with all of his school work on his back as he marches out the door to his car, not giving Lotor a second glance were he’s still reading on the couch. Once he’s around the corner he starts to think a little more calmly about where the fuck he’s actually going.
He doesn’t really want to go home to his mothers’ house; he doesn’t want them to think he’s bad at living independently and should stay home for the rest of college. Going to Hunk and Pidge’s apartment would mean sleeping on the couch until he found a new place, plus admitting he signed a shitty contract without reading it carefully enough; especially after they had offered to go over with him to make sure it was sound. That would just be embarrassing, he doesn’t need that right now.
Who does he know that also signed a shitty contract and has an extra bed?
Keith is just finishing putting up the new mirror he purchased for the hall that evening when he hears a knock at his door. Confused, he answers the door to see Lance standing sheepishly before him.
“Hey buddy, how’s it going?”
“Lance? Why are you here?” Keith looks further to see a duffle bag by his feet and Lance’s car parked on the street in front of his house.
“You know how you said earlier that I could stay here if I needed to get away from my roommate?”
“Yeah...” Keith raises an eyebrow.
“Well I just got evicted.” Lance finally explains, looking down at his feet.
Lance’s head jerks up and gives Keith an annoyed look, “Yikes? Seriously, that’s all you got?”
Keith takes a moment to really absorb the information and the dejected look in Lance’s eyes from suddenly finding himself homeless. He takes a deep, centering breath. “Well, you did choose to come to a house you know is haunted.” Keith opens the door wider and steps the side to clear a path, “But if you don’t mind some mild spiritual activity, come on in.”
Lance’s shoulders relax and he smiles, “Thanks man, I owe you one.”
Keith blushes at the sweet smile of gratitude Lance gives him as he closes the door behind him.
How bad of an idea could this really be?
Hey, sorry for such a late update. It's been a while since I worked on any of my writing because of school and mental health stuff. Thank you to everyone who has commented recently, it really encouraged me to pick this one back up! I have a one-shot I've been working on too that will probably go up in the next couple weeks, so look for that. If there are any spelling/grammar mistakes its because I don't proof-read at all.