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other times and other places

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Keith’s missing still, and it’s been fifty-three hours and counting, nevermind the quintents or ticks. She hasn’t slept and Lance hasn’t slept and his voice cracks when he asks if there’s anything he can do to help, Pidge and she just -


Pauses, then, because it sounded like he wanted to say something different, but she pauses and blinks and shakes her head and cracks the tension from her neck and finally says (because he’s fidgeting the way he does when a panic attack is soon in coming) “you could read me something” and brandishes her phone.


He blinks, and pauses, but takes it and starts scrolling through the library. “You like poetry?”

“I live for poetry” she says and laughs a little bit, because it’s almost that X-Files line about Bach, but not. “Today I’m kinda feeling e.e. cummings.”

“Sure,” he says, and scrolls further, past all of Atwood and down to Spicer (he quirks an eyebrow and she realizes with a weird salty-copper anxiety thrill that isn’t just her own that he’s seen certain old cartoons, too) to Twentieth Century Poets, A Treasury , and he doesn’t mention that she’s weird to have kept their Eng-lit texts. He kicks off the floor, then, carefully, so he ends up floating horizontal and she has to kick off the console she was floating by a little bit to make herself level with him.


Micrograv is good for cuddling, and that’s exactly what they both need, though right now neither one of them is anything but macho-butch-prickly and not able to ask for it in words. She ends up resting her head against his belly while he reads, feeling the rise and fall as he breathes and speaks. “...nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands,” he finishes, and she doesn’t know how long it’s been, but there’s a part of her that doesn’t want that to matter and she doesn’t know how to feel about that.

There’s been a weirdness between them in the past few weeks - the past sixteen months, honestly, if not the past three-ish years.

He’s kind and he’s gentle with her without being patronizing, and only when she needs it and never anytime else.

She’s always thought she liked girls, only girls, always girls, that was just there, but... he’s there, too. Or he has been. He's noodly in a weirdly elegant way, capable of being graceful and a klutz in the same breath’s span, and it isn't just that but he's starting to make her thing about things. Maybe it’s just femme people in general she likes. Allura’s honestly less careful about her makeup and skincare routine than Lance is about his, and views dressing up as a weapon of diplomatic warfare instead of a way of moving through the world as something to be admired and fought over -


And before she can figure out what it means that Lance is more femme than Allura and that the crush she had on one seems to have swerved towards the other, the console lights up and before the picture catches up with it she can hear Keith speaking.


He can hear Keith speaking, too, of course, and they both sort of flail back down towards the floor and she manages to grab the console just as he hits a tuneless “seventy-nine bottles of beer” and his voice cracks and he gives up and starts in again on “can anyone read - ”

“Yes! Yes, we read you, Black Lion, we hear you loud and clear,” she says, and behind her Lance makes a noise that’s half relieved sigh and half sob, and Keith makes an almost identical noise, only a little muffled behind the Blade of Marmora mask he’s got up. She’ll worry about why later, for now he’s home, and alive, and that’s more than perfect.


“Welcome home, man, we missed you,” Lance says, voice thick with what’s got to be a regular hurricane of tears.


She palms the switches to open the comm to the castle as a whole, not caring that they’ve got crew past the seven of them now, wanting everyone to hear that he’s back and he’s - if he isn’t already he’s going to be safe and if she’s honest she wants Green and Red and Yellow and Blue to know Mother is home and her Paladin with her, too. Keith laughs, wildly - “How long was I gone? You sound like - did you even sleep?!”

She laughs, too, then, and it seems whatever face weather Lance is having has spread because there are tears that come loose with it. “Nope. Maybe Hunk did but I think he just kept making layers of cake.” She scrubs at her face and it doesn’t seem to do anything at all. Lance drifts over and puts his arms around her shoulders and there’s a warmness in her that has nothing to do with physical contact in a big cold room. She doesn’t want to be thinking about that right now.

“Guess you gotta find someone to marry, man, he’ll be disappointed if Cake Orthanc goes to waste,” Lance drawls, and she can tell he’s grinning and then the way Keith laughs has a weird strangled tone to it and he’s got to be crying. Lord of the Rings was always his thing, wasn’t it? Trust Lance to remember that, with Hunk elsewhere and distracting himself.

She realizes with a jolt that she doesn’t want him to let go of her, and so with a suddenness that makes him twitch a little bit she reaches up and grabs his forearms. “Let’s all get married. Tell Matt I’ve got a harem or something, later, we can have a cake fight and take pictures and he’ll totally fall for it.”

She only remembers she’d thrown the comms open Castle-wide when Olia cuts in with a gleeful yelp of “I’ll officiate!”