Lance was really starting to get tired of waiting out here.
Honestly, it was completely unfair that he had been the one chosen to keep watch while the others got to explore the cool cave on the cool, abandoned planet (okay, it was pretty much just one huge desert and really not that cool at all, but Lance was still bitter about it). Allura had told the group that she wanted them to look for any signs of life while they were there, just in case anything had survived from the Galra's attack, and the huge cave smack in the middle of the desert had seemed like a good place to start.
But, of course, Shiro, ever sensible, had said someone needed to keep watch outside of the cave. Lance had not volunteered, okay. For some reason, his teammates had all betrayed him and volunteered for him. They had said something about him being too loud and possibly scaring off any form of life that might've been in the cave.
Lance resented that statement, but the four of them had been off before he could even dispute it.
So now, for the past fifteen minutes (at least, Lance was pretty sure it had been around fifteen minutes. There was no way to tell for sure), Lance had been looking left and right, left and right, and he was seriously starting to get bored.
Right when he was debating sitting down, hot sand on his butt be damned, a blur of white, red, and black came rushing out of the cave. It didn't take long for Lance to realize that it was Keith, and he quickly reached out, slowing him down with two hands on his shoulders.
"Whoa, whoa, what's going on?" Lance asked, and Keith met his eyes, his breathing still a little heavy from jetting out of the cave.
"There was — there was a witch," he said, shrugging out of Lance's touch, which. Ouch.
"Was it Haggar?" Lance asked, his nose scrunching in distaste. He really did not feel like having an encounter with the old hag today.
"No, some other one. She didn't seem to be Galra, but she was still hostile against us. I think she was mad that we barged into her home."
Keith was being seriously vague here. He had to give Lance a little more to work with.
"Okay," Lance prompted, "And then what happened?"
"She blasted us," Keith said, completely nonchalantly, as if the words didn't make Lance's stomach feel like it was about to fall out. Keith must have noticed Lance's shock, because he quickly shook his head, letting out a breath. "We're fine, it didn't hurt us. In fact, it didn't hurt me at all, but...it had an alternate effect on the others."
Lance narrowed his eyes at Keith. "What kind of alternate effect?"
To Lance's surprise, Keith actually looked embarrassed. He scratched at his neck and refused to meet Lance's eyes as he answered.
"That's the thing, I came out here to tell you that you should probably get a head's start to the castle," Keith suggested, finally meeting Lance's eyes.
Now Lance was definitely suspicious. "What aren't you telling me?" He asked, and Keith was automatically defensive, both of his hands going up to the sky.
"God, Lance, can you not just trust me for once? I swear, I'm doing this in your best interest, okay? You'll see soon enough just how...strange this whole thing is," Keith said, sounding more than just a little huffy. Lance would never stop being surprised by just how quickly Keith could snap.
"Okay, okay," Lance relented, because even if Keith was being super weird right now, he was still his teammate, and Lance did trust him. If Keith said this was in his best interest, then Lance had to believe that it was. "I'll meet you back at the castle?" He asked Keith, who blinked, looking like he had been a little distracted.
"Yeah, sure, I'll — see you," he said, and then he was walking back into the cave without another word.
Still, Lance walked the short distance over to his lion, and she immediately opened up for him. Lance greeted her warmly as he sat down in his pilot's seat and then they were off, back to the castle.
Lance wondered just about the entire way back what exactly had happened in that cave.
It wasn't much longer before the other paladins arrived back at the castle, too. Lance had said his hello's to Coran and Allura, sat down in the den, and then the other paladins had all but burst into the room.
Or, at least, they tried to.
Lance whipped his head around to look at them, curious to see what exactly was going on, and immediately saw that something wasn't right. They all looked frantic, desperate, almost, as they tried to get inside of the room. Currently they were stuck in the doorway as they shoved at each other, each one trying to be the one who could break through.
Keith was the only one exempted from the madness. He had walked through the door before the other three had and was watching the scene disinterestedly.
"Are they trying to get to me?" Lance squeaked out.
"Yes," Keith said.
"Do they want to hurt me?" Lance asked, unsure why Keith seemed so nonchalant about this. Maybe Lance dying would be viewed as a positive occurrence to Keith.
Keith snorted. "More like the opposite."
What was the opposite of wanting to hurt someone? Wanting to...cuddle someone? Kiss someone?
He spared a glance at the paladins. They did not look very cuddly at the moment.
Lance didn't have much more time to dwell on the thought, because then Pidge was breaking free and it all suddenly made sense, somehow.
Because Pidge didn't just walk over to Lance. Oh, no, Pidge sauntered over to Lance, hands on her hips, her eyes lowered in what Lance could only describe as bedroom eyes.
Lance almost blanched, though he thankfully held it back. He didn't want to offend Pidge, but he couldn't help being taken aback. This was completely out of character for her. Pidge cared way more about cool tech and gadgets than she did about flirting.
"Hey, Lance," she said, stopping once she was stood on Lance's right, "Long time no see."
It had been less than an hour. That wasn't exactly considered a long time in Lance's book, but before he could say anything on the matter, Hunk was walking up to his left.
"Hey, buddy," he greeted, and reached out to run a hand through Lance's hair. Normally, Lance would have been fine with it, but this wasn't the Hunk he knew. This Hunk was giving him the same exact eyes Pidge was, so Lance shied away from the touch, more than a little uncomfortable.
"Let's get out of here," Hunk offered, not seeming to take his rejected touch too seriously.
He was grinning. Lance sighed as he looked at it. Hunk had a nice smile: it was a shame Lance was only seeing it because of some whack love spell a hermit-witch had cast on his friends.
"Obviously if Lance is leaving here with anyone, it's me," Pidge interjected, her hands on her hips as she glared at Hunk.
"That's not true, he's my best friend, he'd want to be with me," Hunk argued.
Lance opened his mouth to speak for the first time, and he really was about to lightly turn the both of them down when suddenly there was someone standing in front of him, only a coffee table blocking the two of them.
Oh god. Shiro.
Lance muttered a quick prayer to whichever god would listen that the spell hadn't worked on him, like it hadn't worked on Keith.
"Actually," Shiro said, and Lance waited with bated breath, "If he's going to be leaving with anyone, I think it's me."
"Oh yeah? And why is that?" Pidge asked angrily.
"Lance needs a man to take care of him," Shiro said, and not so subtly flexed one of his biceps.
Meanwhile, Lance was spluttering at Shiro's words, his mouth opening and his cheeks more than a little red.
"Actually," Lance said, mocking what Shiro had first said to him, "I am very much bisexual, which you all know, so the fact that Pidge is a girl isn't a problem to me."
"So you do want to be with me?" Pidge asked, her eyes sparkling hopefully, and Lance...Lance felt awful, but he figured he might as well shut this down now.
"Pidge, you're like twelve," he told her bluntly.
Pidge actually stomped one of her feet. If she was trying to seem older, that wasn't exactly helping her case.
"I'm fifteen!" She exclaimed.
"Um, yeah. Exactly."
"See," Shiro said, and Lance begrudgingly turned his gaze away from Pidge, not looking forward to what he had to say, "Lance wants someone who's older and more...experienced."
Lance couldn't hold back his blanch this time. He did not want to hear about Shiro's "experience". In fact, that was the last thing he wanted to hear about.
He looked over at Keith and saw that he similarly cringing. At least Lance wasn't the only one who could see how cringeworthy this whole thing was.
"Okay, yes, I want someone older than Pidge, but that doesn't mean I want you," Lance said frustratedly. "You're like...like a Dad!"
"A Dad?" Shiro asked, his face twisting in confusion as he thought over this.
Lance heard a cheer come from his left and looked over, seeing that it was Hunk with his fist in the air.
"So I'm clearly the best choice!" Hunk declared excitedly, and okay, he wasn't wrong, but. Lance still wasn't about to "be" with Hunk in the way that the love spell made him want to be.
"You're not wrong," Lance said weakly, "But, dude, you're my best friend, you know that, and it'd be...it'd be weird for me, because, um, I don't feel that way for you..."
Lance was pretty sure he was blushing. God, he hated this. He'd just had to turn down three of his closest friends down in less than ten minutes (probably). No person should ever have to go through that!
"Wait a sec," Pidge said, her eyes narrowing, "If you don't want any of us, than who do you want?"
Lance's cheeks got even warmer. He let out a "pffttt" sound and waved the idea away with his hand.
"I don't want anyone," he said out loud.
Don't look at Keith, he said in his mind.
Apparently he didn't have to, because three other pairs of eyes were looking at him instead.
"Do you want him?" Hunk asked, sounding the definition of outraged.
Lance spared a very, very brief look over at Keith and saw that he was suddenly incredibly intent on staring at his shoes.
"What? Him? Pffftt, no, that is — so wrong, on so many levels, honestly," Lance stammered, giving himself a mental pat on the back for completely and smoothly shutting that idea down.
He had known about his feelings towards Keith for a while now. He'd been teasing him one day when it had just kind of hit him that he wasn't even doing it to make fun of him anymore. Upon further investigation, Lance had realized that he just liked gauging a reaction out of Keith, and after that, he'd realized that the thrill he got every time Keith reacted to him probably wasn't exactly normal.
After that, everything had just sort of spiraled. Lance had started noticing the outline of his chest through his tight t-shirts as the two of them trained, and he'd started keeping just a bit of a closer eye on him whenever they were in certain danger.
It wasn't a big deal. Lance was good at keeping his feelings under wraps, and it wasn't like any of the other paladins knew, so he was fine.
Lance quickly looked over at Hunk and saw that he looked to be deep in thought.
"You know, I feel like I remember you saying—" Hunk started.
Lance did the only thing he could think of.
"KEITH!" He yelled, at the top of his lungs, and watched with only a tiny bit of amusement as the other boy turned to face him so quickly that he stumbled and nearly lost his footing.
He looked worried for about half of a second, and then he was glaring at Lance, his mouth twisted downwards in anger.
"What, Lance?! What would possibly provoke you to yell my name like that?" He exclaimed.
Lance could think of many other scenarios where he was yelling Keith's name, all much better than this one, but. Now wasn't the time.
Luckily, Hunk had cut off what he'd been about to say, and was instead glaring at Keith over Lance's shoulder.
"Do not give me that look," Lance chastised, pointing his finger in Keith's general direction. "I am not the one just standing there while his dear friend and teammate continues to get hit on by his lovesick other teammates—"
"I tried, okay?" Keith interrupted. He was frowning so hard that Lance was concerned his mouth was going to get stuck like that. "Back in the cave, when they kept asking about you, I tried to get them to stay back because of, um, your safety, obviously, and they nearly killed me."
Lance gaped. "They tried to kill you?" He asked in disbelief. Then, before he could stop himself, his lips twisted into a smile. "Do it again. I want to see."
If Lance wasn't currently being swarmed by Pidge, Hunk, and Shiro, he had a feeling Keith would've reached over and smacked him. He looked like he really wanted to.
"You want me to get myself killed?!" He yelled.
Lance snorted. Now who was the one yelling?
"Not killed, just, you know, roughed up a little. I'm having an off day, as I'm sure you can see. I could use some laughter."
Keith flared his nostrils angrily but then, to Lance's complete disbelief, he actually did what Lance asked of him. Lance could only watch, stunned, as he snuck around the back of the couch and then jumped on Hunk's back, forcing him to stumble backwards and away from Lance.
Lance honestly wasn't sure what Keith's plan had been, but it backfired pretty quickly. Hunk reached behind him and all but slammed Keith down onto the ground, keeping all of his body weight on him so that Keith couldn't even attempt to get up.
"You happy?" Keith croaked out, looking up at Lance from where he was sprawled out on the floor.
If Keith hadn't thought his plan out very well, then Lance hadn't thought his own out at all. Instead of being amused by the display, Lance had felt a chill run down his spine and he'd wanted immediately to crouch down and make sure that Keith was alright.
Damn it. He was in way too deep.
"Okay, that's enough of that," Lance said with weak laugh, trying to come off as amused even though his stomach was still in knots.
"He obviously wants you, too," Hunk said, "I think it'd be for the best to get rid of him."
"I do not!" Keith groaned at the same time Lance said, "No!"
He looked over at Pidge and Shiro and saw that they seemed just as thrilled at the idea of killing Keith as Hunk was.
Why had Keith even listened to him? He never listened to him, but of course he had to when it was Lance's stupidest idea yet.
"I'm sure we can work something else out," Lance said nervously, and he sat down, slipping his hands into Hunk's so that he would let go of Keith.
It worked for a couple of seconds, but then Hunk seemed to catch on, and he let go of Lance's hands.
"You guys hold onto him with me," Hunk said, nodding his head in Keith's direction.
Pidge and Shiro were then walking over to Keith, who looked less than enthused but not necessarily concerned for his life. Maybe it was because he trusted that Lance wouldn't let anything happen to him, although Lance wasn't sure why he would think that. Lance was the one, after all, who had gotten him into this situation.
"Wait," Lance said, holding up both of his hands. He looked down at Keith and saw that he was looking right back up at him, intent on seeing what Lance was about to do. "If you guys don't kill Keith, I'll give you all a kiss."
There were three "What's?!" followed by a "No!" from none other than Keith himself.
Lance crossed his arms over his chest and huffed. "You don't get to say no. I'm trying to save your life here!"
"It's not a good idea to kiss them, Lance," Keith said, his eyes wide. He looked more nervous now than he had when his life had been on the line. What was with this guy?
"Oh yeah? Why not? Because right now it's just sounding like you're jealous—"
"I'm not jealous!" Keith shouted, squirming from under Hunk's hold. "It's just—"
"Keith is right," said another voice, and Lance turned around, seeing that it was none other than Allura. Coran was standing right next to her, too, as they walked into the room. "We don't know what kind of love spell this is. There is a possibility that if you progress things...physically, even with just a kiss, that it could deepen it. Or, worse, make it become permanent."
"Told you so," Keith said without a moment's hesitation.
"There is no way you could have known that!" Lance disagreed.
But Keith didn't respond (except for a snarl that Lance found very unattractive. Like, it was ugly. In no way did he think it was hot, despite what the chill that ran down Lance's spine might have suggested).
Right. Back to Keith. Allura had temporarily distracted Hunk and the other paladins, so Keith had used the opportunity to elbow Hunk's stomach and give him a harsh shove, successfully rolling out from underneath of him. He ran over to Coran and Allura and stood behind them, looking like a child hiding behind both of his parents.
Lance snorted at the thought, quietly glad that Keith had been able to get to safety. He half expected the others to try and go after Keith, because they were clearly displeased, but that's...not what happened. Of course it wasn't.
Instead, they all just sort of tackled Lance.
Lance yelped, not expecting it, and let out a "Guys! Help!"
"Lance!" He heard Keith's voice say (he couldn't actually see him because he was currently being buried under three other bodies, which was not as fun as it sounded).
Luckily, Lance had been able to shield his face to prevent any smooching action from happening. Although the paladins didn't really seem like they were trying to pull anything. Mostly they were just grabbing Lance's arms and shirt to try and be the one who ended up with him.
So, basically, they were quite literally fighting over him.
It got a little brighter behind Lance's eyes and he opened them to see that Keith was holding Pidge back, her wrists being bound together with handcuffs that Allura or Coran must have provided.
"Let go of me, you asshole!" She screeched, trying to kick him, but Keith swooped her up in a bridal style and carried her away, probably to a room by herself.
Lance hated himself for feeling a sting of jealousy in his throat. A part of him wished that Keith would carry him like that, and then he immediately felt pathetic.
Allura and Coran came over next to help him with Hunk and Shiro. Much to Lance's amusement (and, let's be honest, delight), Allura threw herself on top of Lance, effectively cutting off Hunk and Shiro's grabby hands.
"You wouldn't hit a woman, would you?" She asked, her crystal blue eyes going wide.
Shiro coughed. Hunk scratched at his neck.
"Um. No," Shiro said decisively.
Allura smiled, equally mischievous as it was sweet. "Didn't think so," she said, and then she was locking Shiro's wrists together in handcuffs.
Unfortunately, she removed herself from Lance right after that, but he still appreciated her helping him out with Shiro. She had locked a second pair of handcuffs to one of Shiro's ankles, and the other was on one of the legs of the coffee table so he couldn't break free. Shiro looked...humiliated.
"This really isn't necessary, I'll be good, I promise," Shiro pleaded.
Allura and Lance both gave him a "like shit you'll be good" look, and Shiro seemed to accept his fate with a noisy sigh.
Lance looked over to his left to see how Coran was doing with Hunk, and saw that he had managed to lock one of Hunk's wrists to the coffee table. His free arm was still determinedly trying to reach out for Lance.
Lance shook his head, letting out a shaky breath, and stood up from the ground. He shook any possible dirt from his pants and observed the sight in front of him.
"Well, this was definitely not how I imagined my day going," he huffed out. He moved so that he was standing behind the couch, not wanting to be anywhere near Hunk or Shiro.
"You did get yourself into quite a pickle," Coran agreed, "How did this happen again?"
"Well, it all started when—" Lance abruptly cut off. "Wait, you guys have pickles in space?!"
It was at this moment that Keith walked back into the room, looking between Hunk and Shiro with thinly veiled amusement.
"Lance, please continue," Allura scolded lightly, "I need to know as much as I can if I'm going to help you get rid of this spell."
"Right, right. Uh, you know, you should actually ask Keith. He was the one who was there, not me," Lance said.
Keith flushed slightly when three pairs of eyes turned to him. "Oh. Okay. It's really rather simple. We were investigating a cave on that desert planet you sent us to, we saw a witch who got angry that we were in her cave, and then she cast the spell on us."
Allura's mouth dropped open slightly at the last word Keith had said, though she regained her composure almost immediately afterwards.
"You said 'us'? Don't you mean 'them'?" She asked, gesturing to Hunk and Shiro.
Keith shook his head. "No, I was hit, too. I was thinking it had something to do with the fact that I'm half Galra."
"A good guess, but an incorrect one," Coran let him know. "A love spell can affect any species."
"So then why didn't it work on him?" Lance rushed out before he could stop himself. His cheeks flushed when Keith glared over at him, but Lance didn't take his question back. He wasn't sure what he had been telling himself up until now as to why it hadn't worked on Keith. He had just assumed that it hadn't, and that was that, but from the look on Allura's face, it seemed that his assumption had been incorrect.
"I've heard of this happening before, but I've never actually seen it in person," Allura said, staring at Keith as if he were the most fascinating thing she'd ever seen before.
Keith's face twisted as if he'd just smelled something less than pleasant. He looked like the last thing he wanted was for Allura's undivided attention to be on him.
"Can we just get on with it?" Keith gritted out.
"Well," Allura started, "When an individual has strong feelings for the one the spell is being cast towards, the spell can't overcome those emotions. I'm guessing the spell didn't work on Keith because he already has strong feelings for you, Lance."
Lance looked at Allura, who was smiling brightly, and then at Keith, who was very pointedly not looking back at him.
"So what you're telling me," Lance said, hating the way his heart felt like it was breaking into a thousand tiny pieces, "Is that Keith hates me so strongly that the spell didn't have an effect on him?"
"What?" Keith cried. "You think I hate you?"
Lance let out an angry huff. Why was Keith even bothering to argue with him anymore? He knew the truth now. Keith, the one person who Lance would've actually wanted to reciprocate his feelings, hated him so much that even an all powerful love spell couldn't make him love Lance.
"Obviously!" Lance yelled, watching as Keith's expression morphed from one of embarrassment to pure anger. Lance wasn't sure why he was so angry. If anyone deserved to be angry, it was himself. "Why else would this stupid love spell have not worked on you?"
Keith walked so that he was stood right in front of Lance. His eyes were wide and they were staring smack into Lance's own, causing Lance's breath to hitch in anticipation. He honestly wasn't sure if Keith was going to kiss him or hit him.
He didn't do either.
"I cannot believe you," he told Lance, his voice latent with...some kind of emotion, and then he was gone, stalking out of the room.
Lance stared after him until he couldn't make him out anymore, and it was only then that he remembered to breathe.
It was dead silent in the room, until both Coran and Allura cleared their throats at the same time. Lance dazedly turned to look at them, feeling both heartbroken and as if he were missing something important here.
"So how do we get rid of this thing?" Lance asked the two of them, rubbing a hand over his face to try and rid himself from his daze.
"I, um, I am not actually sure," Allura said, fretting with a strand of silvery hair.
"You don't know?!" Lance whined, because he wanted this love spell gone, like, yesterday. He was tired of the only reason people felt any type of romantic feelings towards him being because of a love spell. Plus, the spell had also brought to light Keith's true feelings for him, which clearly wasn't a good thing.
Maybe Lance was just unlovable.
"We have to figure out some sort of solution," Lance said. "I mean, we're practically defenseless. I doubt Pidge, Hunk or Shiro would be able to focus enough to pilot their lions, which means we won't be able to form Voltron."
Lance had decided to take the logical approach on why they needed to get rid of the love spell. He figured it would appeal to Allura more than "this spell makes me sad so I want it gone".
"I do have an idea, but I am not certain that it will work," Allura said with a frown.
"I'll try anything," Lance responded, hating how desperate his voice sounded.
Allura shared a look with Coran and then focused back on Lance. "If you go to the cave and find the witch who cast the spell, there is a good chance that she will be able to uncast the spell."
"Of course, witches can be quite temperamental, I remember one time I—"
"I'll do it," Lance stated, abruptly cutting off what was most likely the beginning of one of Coran's long spiels. "I'll get suited up, grab my lion, and go."
He was just about to leave to do exactly that when Coran, of all people, stopped him with a hand to his shoulder.
"You know, you should take Keith with you," he said, obviously aiming for nonchalant.
Lance rolled his eyes. "Why would I do that? Keith hates me. I'm pretty sure the last thing he wants is to go on a mission with me."
"Personal feelings aside, I believe Coran has a good idea," Allura agreed, because of course she did. "I would not feel right sending you by yourself against a witch whose powers we do not know the extent of."
Lance let out a sigh. Allura made a good point, but he didn't want to accept that.
"What about you or Coran? Couldn't one of you two go with me?"
"Until the love spell's been removed, it'd be best for us to stay with and defend the castle, if need be," Coran said.
Lance's shoulders slumped. So, it was official. He was going with Keith.
He really could not wait.
"You two are telling him," he said to Coran and Allura, jabbing two fingers at the both of them. "I'm going to go get ready."
And with that, he finally walked out of the room, his stomach filling with dread at what was yet to come.
Lance waited in his lion until he heard Keith's voice coming through his helmet, asking if he was ready. Lance may or may not have jumped at the sound, but no one had seen it except for Blue so...there was no proof.
The flight to the desert planet was...quiet. Keith didn't say anything, and Lance didn't speak to him, either. He told himself he was fine with it, but in actuality he missed the sound of Keith's voice. He wanted to tease him about something, anything, just to get a reaction out of him, but he knew now wasn't the time.
He'd probably just mess things up further between them, since apparently all Lance could do today was stick his own foot in his mouth.
He didn't like the quiet, never had, and right now wasn't an exception. A part of him wished that Blue had a radio so he could fill the silence up with some music, but then it hit him that he wouldn't even know the songs playing, if Blue did have a radio.
Lance was in space. There was no pop or Latin music for him to belt his heart out to.
He missed Earth's music, and the realization, as well as everything else that had happened today, had his bottom lip trembling.
Before anything else could happen, he bit down harshly on his bottom lip. Now was not the time to get emotional. The reason he and Keith were even doing this was to get rid of the love spell: that was the top priority right now. Lance couldn't just go up to the witch and start crying.
He was actually relieved when the both of them landed on the planet. He told Blue a hasty goodbye and then hurried outside, just wanting to be in the company of another person (even if that person happened to hate him).
Keith was already waiting outside, leaning against Red, and when Lance glanced over at him, he saw that Keith was looking right back at him.
Lance quickly looked away. "So what's the plan?" He asked, starting a brisk walk over to the cave. He only delighted a little bit when he saw Keith running over to catch up with him.
"I don't really have one. I mean, I was dragged into this mission by Coran and Allura and not given a choice on the matter, so it wasn't like I had much time to think about one."
Lance's mouth dropped open, and he stopped walking, staring at Keith in absolute disbelief.
"Are you kidding me?" He exclaimed. "You know that this doesn't just affect me, right? This affects the entire team! Just because you were immune to this stupid thing doesn't mean—"
"Lance!" Keith interrupted, his eyes wide at Lance's outburst. "I was kidding. It was a joke."
Lance spluttered. He tried to think of a response, but couldn't. Of all the times for Keith to actually try and have a sense of humor...
"Well, it wasn't funny," Lance settled on, and continued walking.
He heard a huff beside him, but he purposely didn't look over at Keith.
"What is your problem?" Keith asked him.
"Seriously?" Lance asked, and okay, he had to look over at Keith now. He wanted him to see the full extent of Lance's anger. "You want to know what my problem is?"
"That's why I asked, genius."
Lance scowled. "My problem is that I found out today that one of my teammates hates me. Sorry if I'm just a little bit upset."
"Really, Lance? You're still on about that?"
"Yes, I am 'still on about that', as you so nicely put it," Lance said, walking over to Keith until he was jabbing him in the chest with his pointer finger. "If it were you, and you found out one of the other members of team Voltron hated you, I imagine you'd be pretty damn upset, too. So don't even try and tell me how I should feel," he told Keith lowly.
He watched as Keith's mouth dropped open, all pretty and pink, before Lance backed away from him, picking up his pace so he was just a little bit ahead of Keith. He didn't want to see his infuriatingly pretty face.
"Lance, wait, I didn't mean it like that," Keith murmured.
Lance was shocked to hear the blatant emotion in his voice. Still, he didn't turn around.
"Let's just find this witch, have her break this godawful curse, and then get back to the castle," Lance said, "We don't even have to talk to do that, which I'm sure you're delighted to hear."
Keith didn't respond to him, probably already taking Lance's words about not talking to heart.
Lance wrapped his arms around his chest as he continued his walk to the cave, still just a little ahead of Keith. Good. He didn't feel like talking to him, anyway.
Surprisingly, it really wasn't all too hard finding the witch once the two of them entered the cave. In fact, she was right where she was last time, roasting what looked like blue hot dogs over an open flame (Lance was incredibly curious. Who knew that space had blue hotdogs? He was definitely going to ask Coran to pick some up when he went on their next food run, because holy shit).
When the witch looked up from her dinner and saw both Keith and Lance, her mouth twitched up into a wide smile.
"I'm assuming you came to thank me?" She asked, batting her eyes expectantly up at Lance.
She actually was not nearly as ugly as Lance had imagined, save for the truly ragged black robe she had on and her unkempt black hair (which was pretty bad, honestly). She didn't have any wrinkles on her pale skin, or any gross warts, and she wasn't even super old like Lance had pictured her. She looked...kinda young.
Still, the fact that the witch looked only a few years older than Lance himself meant nothing to him. Nothing could take away from how truly pissed he was.
"Thank you?" He asked. "I've come to ask you to undo this stupid spell. It's caused nothing but problems between me and my friends, as I'm sure you can imagine."
The smile was gone in an instance.
"Oh, I see," the witch said, fretfully looking between Lance and Keith, "You haven't figured it out yet."
Lance was starting to grow impatient. "Figured what out?"
"That's a shame. The spell won't be broken until you do."
"Please, I don't know what you mean. If you could just explain, that'd be—"
And then, before Lance could even finish speaking, the witch was quite literally disappearing into midair, cutting off any chances of what exactly she had been talking about.
"No!" Lance yelled, reaching forward to try and grab at the witch. Unfortunately, he hadn't taken the fire into account before doing this, and the result was him nearly falling face first into the middle of the flames.
But he didn't. Because suddenly there were two, strong arms wrapping around his waist and steadying him.
Lance met Keith's dark blue, almost purple eyes with his own. And then he started punching frantically at his chest.
"Let go of me!" He cried. "We're never going to find her now, and I'll be stuck with this stupid love spell for the rest of my life, and it'll be my fault that Voltron broke up, and—"
"Lance," Keith breathed into Lance's ear, his hands moving to wrap around Lance's wrists to stop the punching, and Lance...Lance immediately stopped talking.
It hadn't dawned on him how close they were until Keith's lips were brushing against his ear, their bodies pressed so close together that they were practically sharing body heat.
"It's going to be okay," Keith whispered, "We'll figure this out. Together."
Lance let out a shaky breath. He wasn't sure if it was from the close proximity, or if it was because he really was about to cry.
Extremely hesitantly, Lance backed away, knowing that there was no use reveling in being so close to Keith.
"That's easy for you to say. You're not the one who has his best friends and teammates all loaded up on fake love towards him," Lance said self-depreciatingly.
"Oh," Keith said, and when Lance looked over at him, he saw that something seemed to have clicked into place, "I think I get it now."
Lance's eyes widened. "Get what? How to break the spell? Because if that's it you better tell me or I swear—"
"Yes, that's what I meant." Keith fiddled with a stray piece of hair and then sat down, his back against the wall of the cave.
Lance didn't even think about it before going to sit down next to him.
"First off, I think I should tell you that I don't hate you," Keith told him quietly, "I never did, and I — I don't think I ever could."
Keith was staring in front of him at the fire, but Lance was staring at him, trying to figure out if he meant what he was saying.
"And it really..." Keith continued. "It hurt when you said that you thought I hated you. I know I'm not the best at expressing my emotions, or whatever, but I didn't — after everything we'd been through together — I didn't think you would truly believe I hated you. That's why I didn't tell you until now that I don't."
Lance shook his head. "Okay, so you don't hate me. That's...that's good." And he meant it, he did. He could feel the happiness slowly creeping into his chest, but he willed it down, telling himself that he needed to concentrate. "But I still don't understand why the spell didn't work on you. Or what this has to do with the spell in the first place."
Keith finally looked over at him, his eyes flickering up and down his face, and then he was burying his head in his knees and groaning.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life," he told Lance.
Lance was still confused, but he decided to play along. "Ever? Really?"
Keith tilted his head up as if he was thinking about it. "Hm. Well, maybe there are some things that top it."
Lance giggled, couldn't help himself, and felt his heart flutter in his chest when Keith smiled over at him. He had such a nice smile. Lance wanted to see it more, preferably directed at him.
"When you said something about fake love," Keith started again, his fingers tapping on his knee. He really did seem nervous, although Lance didn't know why. "It made me realize that maybe it took real love to break the spell."
"Oh," Lance breathed, because that...made sense, actually. "Like a Disney princess movie. 'True love's kiss will save the day' and all that."
"Huh?" Keith asked, looking completely lost but also kind of red in the face.
Lance gaped at Keith, his eyes going wide. "No, come on, you've had to have seen at least one Disney princess movie with true love's kiss. Snow White? Sleeping Beauty?"
Keith was staring at him as if he were speaking another language.
"Fine, fine, you haven't seen any Disney princess movies. I'm not sure why I'm surprised," Lance huffed out. He then felt his heart sink as he considered Keith's words.
Someone who really loved him could break the spell...but who would that be for Lance? He didn't have anyone who loved him. Not like that.
"Even if that is the way to break the spell, it's not like that helps me. I don't have anyone who loves me," Lance murmured. He curled in on himself as he thought about it. Of course him being unlovable would end up destroying the team.
He felt terrible about it, but then there was a loud, indignant sound from next to him, and he looked to see that Keith looked personally offended.
Lance couldn't imagine why.
"Really? No one who loves you?" Keith asked.
Lance squirmed a bit. It felt like Keith was just rubbing salt into the wound. "Yes, really. Why do you look like I just insulted your entire family and you're thinking about decking me because of it?"
"Lance, you're not understanding," he said, his voice surprisingly soft, "The spell didn't work on me because I have strong feelings for you; feelings that are not hate."
Lance continued to stare blankly at him. Was something supposed to be clicking for him, or?
Keith threw his hands up in the air. "Oh my god, Lance, I'm in love with you!" He yelled.
"You're what?" Lance yelled back.
Keith flushed deeply, his breath coming out ragged as he refused to meet Lance's eyes. "Look, you obviously don't have to feel the same way about me. I know you don't, but I just thought...maybe if I opened up to you about how I felt, it'd be enough to break the spell."
Lance was still sitting frozen in place. He was pretty sure Keith had broken him. "Holy shit," he said, very eloquently, "You love me."
Keith let out a surprised laugh, shaking his head at Lance. "Yeah, I do," he said softly, and it was amazing how much Lance started to notice as soon as he had confessed.
The fondness in his eyes when he gazed at Lance, the softness in his voice when he talked to him. It made Lance's breath hitch in his throat, because this? This was real. Keith loved him.
It hit him suddenly that he hadn't exactly done much to reassure Keith of his own feelings (okay, so he hadn't really done anything, but he had been in shock), and it was with that thought that Lance reached over, gently taking Keith's hands into his own.
Keith looked down at their joined hands, his lips twitching up into a small smile at the sight.
"Do you know why I was so upset at the thought of you hating me?" Lance asked quietly.
"You would've been upset about any of us hating you," Keith responded, which. Okay, true, he did have a point there, but.
"Well, why I was even more upset about you hating me in particular."
Keith shook his head.
"Because I..." Lance trailed off, letting out a nervous breath. The word 'love' remained stuck on his tongue, so close but not quite there yet. He knew he cared about Keith, so much, but he wanted to keep that word to himself for just a while longer.
There was no doubt in Lance's mind that he would tell him, and sooner rather than later, too, but that time wasn't right now.
"Because I have some strong feelings of my own for you," Lance told him earnestly, hoping that Keith understood what he was trying to say.
Based on the way his eyes lit up and his face broke into a wide smile, he had a feeling that Keith had understood.
"Really?" Keith whispered, almost sounding in disbelief.
Lance breathed out a laugh. "Yes, really."
Keith backed slightly away from him, his hands slipping out of Lance's. Lance's stomach dropped as he did, unsure of what was happening, but then Keith spoke.
"Are you just saying that to try and break the love spell?" He asked, staring up at Lance with wide, vulnerable eyes.
Vulnerable. This was Keith being vulnerable to him.
Slowly, Lance brought his hand up to cup Keith's cheek, all of the breath whooshing out of his lungs when Keith leaned right into the touch, his eyes fluttering shut so that his long, dark lashes were contrasting against his light skin.
God, he was beautiful. Lance was pretty sure his mind had momentarily blanked out at just the sight of him.
"I would never do that," Lance told him, his eyebrows crinkling, "Why are you so hesitant to believe me?"
Keith shook his head. "You thought I hated you."
"I'm an idiot," Lance answered easily, not even having to think about it, and was rewarded by Keith letting out a soft chuckle. He leaned in closer as he laughed and then they were right in front of each other, breathing the same air. Keith's eyes fluttered closed for a second time and Lance's own eyes closed as he began leaning in, as well, because he was gonna do it, he was gonna kiss Keith, and—
"I'm glad you two figured it out."
Lance jumped at the unexpected voice, springing apart from Keith, who did the exact same thing.
Currently, they were both gaping at the witch. She had popped up completely out of the blue and was watching them interestedly.
"You were right," she said, "True love's kiss, as you called it, will be enough to break the spell."
"I mean, we were just about to get to that when you interrupted," Lance claimed, before it could register in his mind that it probably wasn't a good idea to backtalk a powerful witch.
Keith was glaring at him as if he was thinking the same thing.
Still, the witch didn't look angry. If anything, she looked annoyed.
"Not in my cave, you're not!" She declared, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm just trying to eat my dinner. I don't need to see all that."
"Fine, fine," Lance said, as Keith stood up and offered his hand to Lance, pulling him up, as well.
"We'll just be leaving," Keith said, eyeing the witch cautiously.
The witch just shooed them off, looking as if she suddenly couldn't have cared less. Keith kept Lance's hand in his and then they were hurrying out of the cave, practically running so they could get out of there.
As soon as they were in the light of day, Lance felt himself being pressed against the opening of the cave, all of the air leaving his lungs when Keith was immediately right there, too. His hands were on Lance's shoulders, holding him there so that he couldn't even attempt at getting away.
Not that Lance wanted to. In fact, that was the last thing Lance wanted to do at the moment.
His hands came up to tangle into Keith's hair, a feeling of absolute delight passing through him at how soft the long, silky strands were. As much as he'd teased Keith for his 'mullet', he'd wanted nothing more than to run his fingers through it for a long, long time.
"So," Lance started, shuddering at the intensity of Keith's gaze on him, "It seems like I kind of need to be kissed to get rid of this whole love spell thing. Think you could help me out?" He asked, fluttering his eyelashes at Keith.
Keith smirked at him. Lance wanted to taste it.
"I mean, if you insist," he said, and before the words were even all of the way out, his mouth was slamming against Lance's own.
Lance felt himself let out a moan at the force of the kiss, a shared feeling of finally running through both of their minds. He tightened his hands in Keith's hair to pull him closer, their lips moving hungrily against each other, and this time, it was Keith who moaned.
Lance pulled away from the kiss, smirking when Keith made to follow his lips.
"You like that?" Lance asked, giving a little tug to Keith's hair to let him know what he was referring to.
"Shut up," Keith told him, but his cheeks were already starting to pink. He then backed away entirely from Lance, and Lance watched him do so, his lips turning down into a pout.
"What are you doing?" He asked, making grabby hands at him. "We were kissing."
Keith snorted. "I'm well aware. But you said you only needed one kiss, and I definitely gave you that, so I think I'll just be heading off."
"What?" Lance exclaimed. "We weren't—"
Before he could finish, Keith was spinning in the opposite direction and running to his lion.
Lance gaped at him. "We weren't done!" He called out, and then, because he was a mature, respectable adult, he was running right after him. "Get back here, Keith!"
He could hear Keith's laughter from where he was up ahead of him, and Lance couldn't help his smile (even though he knew he would most definitely feel like he was dying by the time they got to the lions).
Keith looked over his shoulder at Lance, his smile bright and his laughter loud, and for the first time that day, Lance didn't hate the love spell.
If it had resulted in Keith looking at him like that, then there was no way Lance could bring himself to hate it, not even a little bit.
(But like hell was he ever going to let that smug witch know that.)