When Lance woke up way too early with a raging headache, blurry vision, a pounding heartbeat, and some random girl’s arm slung over his waist, it was all he could do not to cry.
He was hungover -- wait, no, actually it was possible that he was still drunk from the night before, because everything around him was still blurry and distorted. He checked his arm for his watch (which wasn’t there) and reached down to pull blankets over his face (which, also, weren’t there). With a loud, exasperated sigh, Lance rolled out of the twin bed and kicked around the floor for his clothes.
He threw his forearm over his eyes and hissed in pain as a ray of light crossed his face. Everything was too bright and too loud and too much. All he wanted to do was curl up on the floor, groan, and maybe brush his teeth, but he couldn’t, at that was the worst.
He wanted to talk to someone, too.
The girl was still asleep and snoring loudly, wound up in a mountain of blankets, and Lance didn’t want to talk to her sober. Not after the night before. He shuddered -- especially not after the night before. He’d had some weird sex, but that was likely the weirdest.
Lance stood up, stomped his feet a bit to release some childish energy, and eyed the floor with his brow and nose furrowed. He toed at a square of blue fabric that looked familiar and discovered that it was his own, plus a bit of bodily fluids. His shirt had some...questionable stains all over the front. Lance decided to forgo it entirely. He crossed his arms over his chest and peered up at the blurry ceiling. There was no other option. Unless he wanted to steal one of the girl’s shirts, he would have to go shirtless.
Frustration bubbled up in his stomach as he stared at the door to the girl’s dorm. He couldn’t remember what building he was in -- yes, he was that drunk -- or how far away it was from his own. For all he knew, he was going to have to trek across campus with nothing on but a pair of sweaty black shorts and a half-hearted smile. Stifling yet another sigh of frustration, Lance bit at his bottom lip and took a moment to steal himself. This isn’t that bad. You’ve had worse morning.
He stepped through the small hallway and opened the door.
One could imagine his surprise as he stepped out into the dorm hallway, directly across from another man doing the same.
Lance froze in place halfway through the processes of stepping outside. His eyes were already locked with the other man’s. There was no chance of avoiding eye contact now, or attempting to go unseen or unnoticed. No, the other man met his eyes with a furrowed brow and an indignant expression, seemingly just a perturbed as he was. He peered down at Lance’s bare chest and frowned.
The man was wearing a loose grey tank-top with some type of black Under Armour under it, loose black skinny jeans, and a beat up pair of red vans. His hair was pulled back in a small ponytail at the base of his neck. In other words, he was incredibly attractive, and lance was incredibly embarrassed. He could feel his own face grow warm as the other man eyed Lance up and down.
Does he live here? Can he tell what’s going on? Oh god I hope he can’t..
Then Lance saw the impressive chain of hickeys that led from the back of his ear and down to his exposed collarbone, the rumpled clothes, the hair falling out of his half-hearted ponytail, and determined that it was possible this man was in the same position he was.
So he did what he did best. Lance put up two finger guns, lifted his shoulders and gave him his best winning smile. “Walk ‘o shame?”
The other man sighed sheepishly and lifted his arm to rub at the back of his neck. “How bad do I look?”
Lance gave him a generous shrug. “Like you were mutilated by a werewolf.”
“That’s what it felt like, too.” he said with a huff. He tilted his head to the side so he could run his palm over the marks on his neck
Lance winced. “That bad, huh?”
“He was….mediocre at best. Hot, but the dick --” The man shrugged.
The look on his face was enough explanation for Lance. The kid had justshrugged… jeeze, he felt bad for him. At least his night was a bit better than mediocre, if admittedly embarrassing.
“That sucks, man.”
He raised an eyebrow. “What, you can relate?”
Lance shrugged, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and began to hop from one foot to the other. His nerves were being exchanged for extra energy and lack of focus as he spoke. “I’ve definitely had some mediocre dick before. You know, I’ve probably been some mediocre dick, but… that’s not for here.”
The man let out a rough laugh, his head tipping back and exposing the pale column of his neck (plus the myriad of hickeys, which were beginning to look more like sickly yellow bruises at this point). He folded his arms in front of his chest and shrunk in on himself. His shoulder shook a bit, but his face betrayed no more laughter. Hm. Lance cocked his head to the side. If he worked just a bit harder, he bet that he could get a real laugh out of him.
When he finished collecting himself, the man stuck out a pale hand. “I’m Keith,” he murmured.
“Lance.” Now or never, dude. “So, uh, I have to get back to my dorm so I can put a shirt on, but do you want to walk to Joe’s? I could use a cup of coffee.”
If he squinted, he could see a tiny smile at the corner of Keith’s mouth. Keith shrugged, rolling his shoulder. “Sounds good to me.”
It took a lot of effort for Lance to not bounce on the balls of his feet and whoop.
They walked side by side until they arrived downstairs in the lobby. It was deserted except for a security guard who couldn’t be bothered, but after that came a set of glass doors that led out into the parking lot. Lance recognized this part of campus. Around the corner should be a very busy street lined with shops, parlors, and more importantly, lots of people.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Keith asked.
“Wh -- I don’t even have a shirt on! It’s freezing outside, not to mention crowded!”
Keith didn’t listen. He grinned, grabbed both of Lance’s hands, and tugged him forward. “C’mon!”
Lance squeezed his eyes shut. There was the initial rush of cold air over his skin as he stepped outside with Keith gripping his hands, and then everything was cold and he was pretty sure he was yelling.
Wait, no, that was both of them. Keith tugged him over the main road and around a collection of outside tables, cheering for him at the top of his lungs. Lance’s face burned, and not from the cold. He usually wasn’t embarrassed about how he looked shirtless -- he had an okay stomach and broad shoulders from swimming for years -- but this just felt ridiculous. The waistband of his boxer briefs stuck out from beneath his shorts a few inches, and he was almost certain that his nipples were hard from the cold. Plus there was the fact that he must look utterly and completely fucking ridiculous half-streaking through campus at six-thirty am with another boy holding his hand and laughing like a maniac.
If there was any plus side to going fast instead of discreetly, it was that when they arrived at his dorm, Keith had a warm flush to his cheeks and a genuine smile on his face.
They snuck up the stairwell and into Lance’s room without another person seeing them. When they finally arrived in his dorm, Keith bent over and panted, both of his arms braced over his head as he tried to regain some airflow.
Lance flung open his closet and grabbed the softest t-shirt within reach and tugged it over his head. Step one: down. Now he just needed to brush his teeth and stop feeling disgusting. He disappeared into his bathroom as Keith trudged through the little room and looked as awkward as possible.
At the taste of mint in his mouth, Lance groaned in pleasure. He tipped his head back and vigorously scrubbed at his teeth -- he could still taste the alcohol (and regret) inside his mouth all morning.
At the sound of his groan, Lance heard a soft “what the fuck?” from inside his room. He decided to let Keith wonder.
When he finally emerged with glasses on, fully dressed, teeth brushed, and as clean as he could manage, he found Keith spread eagled on his comforter with both of his feet dangling off of the end.
Lance busied himself at his little pantry and mini fridge. There wasn’t enough food left for him to eat a decent homemade breakfast, but he did find a cold bottle of Powerade in the back. He twisted the top off and took a swig.
He leaned back against the wall and looked at Keith. “Having fun?”
Instead of answering, Keith nodded at Lance’s clenched hand. “What’s that?” he asked from Lance’s bed.
Lance held up his hand to show Keith the pill. “I have ADHD. It’s my meds”
Keith fell back against the sheets, seemingly uninterested. He frowned up at the ceiling. Lance peered up as well and looked at the little green glow stars his mom helped him glue up at the beginning of the year. They reminded him of his bedroom at home.
“Oh. Cool.” he muttered.
Lance smirked. “Most people don’t react that way, you know.”
Keith scoffed at him. “Shut up. It’s not like it’s a bad trait.”
With a shrug, Lance threw the pill back and swallowed it dry. He picked up the blue Powerade, and downed the entire thing in one go. “I guess you’re right,” he breathed out, a bit out of breath after drinking so much. “Most people don’t think of it that way. A lot of people just think it’s annoying.”
Keith shrugged and gave him a sly grin. “You’re annoying, but that’s unrelated to your hyperactivity.”
Lance shook his head. “Fuckin’ wrecked, my dude.”
His hangover was getting a bit better, but all he wanted was some food and a better drink. The florescent lights on the ceiling of his dorm were killing him. He could practically taste a chocolate croissant and a bowl of oatmeal.
His thoughts were interrupted by the loud grumble of his stomach.
Keith lifted his head from Lance’s pillow. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah.” Lance stuffed his hands in his pocket. “No time like the present”
It was then that Lance admitted that he’d been fronting when he mentioned coffee. He couldn’t drink coffee, not after he discovered in his freshman year of high school that his ADHD meds clashed horribly with significant amounts of caffeine. Keith didn’t seem shocked.
The cafe was a quaint joint, with nice tables with kushy chairs and couches, lots of windows that filtered in sunlight and fresh air from inside. Because of this, and their supreme frappes, Joe’s was the campus’ most popular cafe, and sunday morning rush was in effect.
It was full to the brim with tired students. Many of whom were probably in the same position as them. Lance had to grab onto the back of Keith’s tank top in order to keep track of him in the crowd -- at least, that’s what he told himself. He also quite enjoyed placing his palm between Keith’s shoulder blades. Warmth radiated off of his skin. His hair smelled nice.
Lance tried to stay focused on other things as Keith shoved their way through the crowd towards the line. They managed to get to the front after a few minutes of waiting. Lance forced his eyes to stop staring at the freckles on the nape of Keith’s neck. He ordered something sweet and vanilla that was caffeine free and incredibly sugary, along with a few breakfast items. Keith made a face and ordered a single large black coffee.
Lance stood to the side as they waited for their order to pop up over the counter. He shot Keith a smirk.
“What?” Keith elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
“Oh please, I bet you’re one of those guys who drinks black coffee because you think it’ll make you look cool.”
With a roll of his eyes, Keith crossed his arms over his chest. He had quite a nice chest -- Lance couldn’t tell much about him from his loose clothes, but the Under Armour beneath his tank top was spread tight over muscle.
In some miracle, they managed to find a cramped table in the corner that would fit all of their food. Lance situated the chairs so that they would have space, but the situation was so tight that regardless, they would have to share legroom. Lance wasn’t necessarily opposed to that idea.
Keith plopped into his chair, downed half of his coffee in one go, and started to rub at his chest with one palm. “Jesus christ, my ribs hurt.”
Lance shot straight up in shock. “What happened? Did he hurt you? Did he suck that bad?”
Keith snorted and rolled his shoulders. He relaxed back into his chair, but his back was still bent at an odd angle and he looked very uncomfortable. “No, I know the significance of sucking. Unfortunately, he’s the one who didn’t.”
Lance choked on his croissant.
“Yeah, er -- to put make it pg-13, he took an unpleasant and unsatisfactory amount of time to finish, so I fell asleep right after. I was tired, you know? And, eh,” Keith waved vaguely at his chest. “I fell asleep in my binder.”
“Your…” Lance’s voice dropped off. What?
There was a flush of color high on Keith’s cheeks. He shrugged, shrinking in on himself again. “You know, it’s a compression shirt. Kind of.” He winced at his own words.
Lance raised an eyebrow.
Keith made a brief strangled noise in the back of his throat. He planted both hands on the table in front of them. “I’m trans?” he said. His voice high and strained, and he spoke as if he were asking a question.
“Oh, thank god,” Lance murmured. Keith looked a bit shell shocked.
“I thought you were wearing a corset or something. That shit’s dangerous. Or, worse, you were an athlete with a bad sense of fashion.”
Keith sighed. His face returned to its usual color, and a small smile tweaked at the corner of his mouth. “Thanks,” he said as he tore little bits off of his napkin. “But you’re not, like, weirded out?”
Lance laughed. “Oh no, my best friend is a non binary-trans girl, I’ve got info for days, dude.”
“You know Pidge too?” Keith asked, leaning up in surprise.
“Yeah, she’s in one of my engineering classes!”
Keith laughed and shook his head, then winced and reached up to hold his ribcage. The tight fabric looked like it was digging into his skin at this point. Keith reached under the binder at his side and held it away from his ribs for a moment as he sucked in a deep breath.
Lance sighed ruefully. “Dude, you need to get out of that thing.”
Keith shot him a look under his eyelashes. His brow was furrowed in discomfort, and he looked annoyed at Lance’s suggestion. “I can’t, I don’t have anything else to wear.”
“I can solve that problem.” Lance shrugged off the cargo jacket he’d picked up at his dorm. He could handle the cold if he knew that Keith wasn’t in the process of destroying his ribcage. He didn’t like to think of himself as a gushy person, but he did enjoy helping people. Plus, there was the upside that he’d be able to see a very cute boy wearing his jacket that was likely a size too large. What could he say, Lance was very very bi.
Keith took one look at his beat up cargo jacket and decided that he wasn’t having it. “Absolutely not.” he grunted, folding his arms in front of his chest and pretending that the mere movement wasn’t hurting him.
Lance dangled the jacket in front of him. “C’mon, it’s no big deal.”
“I don’t want to take your jacket!”
“Please?” Lance sighed. “For me?”
Keith took a few moments of thought to decide. The wrinkles in his forehead told another story. Lance knew he needed to get out of that binder as soon as possible. Pidge had lectured him in their spare time about all of the possible health risks of being trans (along with the daily messages the public receives from society that contributes to overall transphobia and systems of oppression -- Pidge was very smart and well read, and she could talk an ear off if she felt like it. Lance always enjoyed listening). He knew that having stiff fabric wrapped around your ribcage for longer than one’s average daytime activities could be very detrimental for one’s health. For all Lance knew, Keith could have had that binder on for over twenty-four hours, which was three times the recommended length. The thought scared him.
Finally, Keith slumped at the table. “Are you sure?” he asked. He looked defeated.
Lance clapped Keith on the shoulder. Keith’s winced and grabbed at him.
“The ribs, dumbass.”
Lance rolled his eyes. “Oh, come off it. Just take the jacket.”
With a thin begrudging smile, Keith took the jacket from his fingers.
When he returned from the restroom with Lance’s thick jacket zipped up in front of him, Lance’s voice caught in his throat.
There was one thing for certain. Lance really wanted to see him in more of him in his clothes. That scared him, but besides fear, he felt happiness and something warmer bubbling up in his stomach.
Unfortunately, Keith probably noticed the flush of color on his cheeks or the way that his eyes refused to leave him as he walked back to their table from the men’s room.
“Well, uh… I think I’ve stayed my welcome a bit too long.”
“Yeah, me too.” Lance waved absently over his shoulder. “Er… class.”
Keith didn’t move from his spot. Neither did Lance.
“So, um -- see you later?”
“Yes!” Lance replied, way too enthusiastically. He scolded himself internally. “I mean.” He shook his head to clear his mind and offered Keith his most winning smile. “I’ll see you around, good looking.”
Keith laughed at him. That was usually not a good sign, but the look on his face as he gave a genuine laugh -- Lance decided to overlook it.
He watched wistfully as the man walk out of the cafe with a new bounce to his step, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jacket. Lance’s jacket. As soon as he was out of sight, Lance fished his phone out of his short’s pocket and dialed furiously.
There were two rings before the person on the other side picked up. “Pidge? Give me Keith’s number. Now.”