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Text Me in the Morning

Chapter Text


We danced a tango 'till our heads got dizzy

I felt your body heat: a damsel in distress


Lance fucked up. Lance royally fucked up. Lance fucked up so royally that he wholeheartedly believed that he would never recover from his fuck up, and if he did, it would be best for him to be excommunicated from everyone he knew. 


Now of course, Lance didn't mean to make such an ass of himself. Earlier that day, Lance had been rejected on three separate occasions. He may have been used to rejection, but come on, not even one person could've given him their number? Even if he was used to it, expecting it, even, Lance still felt the sting of being pushed aside, and he didn't like it. On particularly rough days, Lance would call up his friends, Pidge and/or Hunk, and on rare occasions, Keith, to get so drunk he couldn't see straight, igniting any feelings of self doubt with the burn of alcohol. Self destructive? Maybe. A logical solution, hell no. A momentary fix to a problem Lance didn't feel like dealing with? Definitely. 


This is where things started to go wrong, like a doomed rollercoaster leaving the boarding platform. 


Lance texted Hunk first, but he was cramming for a final in engineering. Then he texted Pidge, but they didn't reply, probably sleeping, considering their sleep schedule was irregular and if they slept more than twenty-one hours in a week, it was a feat of nature. Obviously, Lance tapped on his conversation with "Mullet Man" and tapped out: "meet me at the Lion Club at 9" and received a thumbs up in reply. That gave him about an hour to get ready and thirty minutes to get to the club. 


Lance began his normal "going out" routine, which included a shower, applying cologne and aftershave, and donning his signature nice outfit: a light blue button up rolled up to his elbows, a loose vest left unbuttoned, cuffed khaki pants, and brown ankle boots. He ran gelled hands through his hair, smirking and winking at himself in the mirror before applying concealer to the dark circles under his eyes, swiping on some chapstick, and gliding clear mascara over his lashes, all the while blasting Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Kesha, and of course, Lady Gaga's "Born this Way." He sang along as he got ready in his horribly messy bathroom, skin care and dirty clothes strewn about like someone had assigned a toddler to clean the bathroom but the toddler got distracted and only made a bigger mess, which wasn't actually that far from the truth. 


After shooting himself finger guns in his full-length mirror, trying to psych himself up and snagging his keys, Lance was out the door and on his way in an Uber. When he arrived at the Lion Club there was a short line out the door, and in that line, Lance spotted Keith. A thought flashed through Lance's mind, and in that exact moment, the rollercoaster crested the summit and hesitated, suspense growing before the plummet down. One thought was all that was necessary. One small, unimportant idea that flashed through Lance's synapses as he scanned Keith quickly. One word, even. 




Lance hopped out of the car, thanking the driver, then started toward Keith, once again taking in Keith's appearance. 


Hot damn. 


Keith was wearing a plain white, long sleeved t-shirt under a red blazer, the sleeves of both rolled up to his elbows. His black jeans were tight and fitted him nicely and tucked into a pair of loosely laced Doc Martin boots. His hair was swept off his forehead and to one side, which he kept messing with, showing off the watch on his right wrist and various friendship bracelets on his left. Lance could see at least two that he had made Keith a few summers ago. Various rings glittered on various fingers, and Lance was pretty sure he had never seen Keith wear that much jewelry at one time. Lance was also pretty sure that it was really hot, but of course, anything Keith did was hot, Lance had been pining after him for years. If he was being honest with himself, Lance would be very embarrassed that of all the people he flirted with, they never meant anything, at least, not like Keith did. This was probably because Lance didn't want to mess up the friendship they had, but since when was that a valid excuse? He hit on Allura all the time, and she was engaged to Shiro!


Sighing, Lance pushed a hand through his hair a final time, then slapped a grin on his face, greeting Keith with a cheerful: "Hey!" 


"Oh, hey," Keith responded, slipping his phone into his pocket. "I was just about to text you. What's the occasion this time, did you drop your ice cream cone?" Keith sighed, obviously teasing. 


"No!" Lance retorted indignantly, then haughtily explained: "I'll have you know I was rejected three times today." 


Keith put a hand on his chest and shook his head in mock sympathy. "You poor, poor baby." 


"Oh shut up," Lance laughed, swatting Keith's shoulder, trying to brush away the internal turmoil that was beginning to fester. 


Keith chuckled, then slipped his hands into his pockets. They stood in silence for a minute, crawling through the line. Lance wanted to say something to break the silence, his constant chatter a safe thing to fall back on in case someone was uncomfortable. Even so, Lance was slowly learning that sometimes companionable silence was okay. Good, even. He stayed quiet, sneaking glances at Keith every so often. He didn't notice, only absently observed the other people in line, occasionally nudging Lance and pointing out this person's hair color or that person's tattoo, saying little things like "that's cool," or "I like that color a lot." 


When they made it inside, all of Lance's senses were instantly assulted. Lights flased overhead, sending waves of neon color over the swirling, pulsing mass of bodies. The bar was pushed against the left wall, and concoctions of bright, toxic looking alcohol were passed from bartender to customer, the contents drained, then the empty glass passed back again. Couples were scattered around tables, walls, in the middle of the dance floor, interlocked and moving as one, ignoring the people and the noise and the lights. The smell of bodies and alcohol wafted around him, and the heat of the room made him feel like he had just crossed over the equator. Taking a deep breath in, Lance smiled. This was exactly what he needed; the perfect distraction. 


Grabbing Keith by the wrist, (right, judging by the watchface that dug into his palm,) Lance dragged him over the bar, ordering a Blue Sun for himself, (whatever the fuck that was) and a whiskey on the rocks for Keith. When the drinks came, Lance downed his quickly, then ordered three shots of tequila. 


"Really going for it tonight, huh?" Keith shouted over the noise. 


"I want to get wasted and I want to do it now," Lance yelled, throwing back the three shots and savoring the trail of fire that was left burning in his throat. The pain was a welcome jolt that pulled him from all the feelings clouding his head. The rejection, the stupidly attractive guy sitting next to him that Lance knew he could never have, and the feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him something was wrong. 


Another shot of tequila and that feeling vanished. 


At this point, the rollercoaster began its precarious dive toward the ground, where the tracks ceased and the cars would crash into the ground. 


Lance was getting very, very drunk. He could feel the buzz coursing through his veins, prompting him to dance. But he wasn't one to dance alone. No, not Lance. So he grabbed Keith by the elbow, pulled him to the center of the dance floor, and did what any drunk person would do. 


He danced. 


Keith looked confused and lost, or at least, Lance thought he did, but honestly colors were beginning to blur and expressions on people's faces were starting to lose meaning. Trying to help, Lance grabbed Keith's hips and started to dance with him without hesitation. It took a minute, but Keith's arms soon found their way around Lance's neck. 


Colors were beginning to melt together faster, his heart pounded harder, and Lance began to feel wobbly on his feet, like he was trying to get his land legs back after being at sea for a long, long time. Sure, it was what he should be comfortable doing, but he hadn't been this drunk, this... carefree, in such a long time that Lance forgot what it was like. 


It was fun. And freeing.


Laughter filtered into Lance's brain over the loud music, and Lance was fairly certain it wasn't his. It was Keith's. The bass thumped and pounded and made the tempo of Lance's heart speed up. Or maybe that was Keith being so close. 


"...ance? Lance?" Keith's voice sounded far away. 


"Hm?" Lance hummed, not understanding why Keith sounded so distant, he was right there in front of him. He was pressed against him. When did that happen? 


"Lance, you need to sit down." 


"'m fine," Lance slurred, holding on to Keith tighter as the world started to spin. He's warm, some distant part of Lance's brain stated, an unwelcome reminder. "Shut up," Lance muttered. 




"Nothiiiiinggggg," Lance sang, stumbling to the side. Keith's hands dug into Lance's shoulders, keeping him rooted to the ground. 


"That's it. We're going home," Keith ordered, taking Lance's wrist and beginning to drag him away. 


"Wait!" Lance cried. "I still wanna dance with you..." The words coming from his mouth registered too late. He shouldn't of said that. Or... Maybe he should have? He didn't know. Noises and sounds and colors were bombarding his everything and Keith was here and his fingers were on Lance's wrist but his arms still felt like they were around Lance's neck? 


Keith froze, his grip tightening around around Lance's wrist. "You... You what?" 


"I," Lance paused, swaying on his feet, "want," he leaned closer to Keith, "to," his hand crept to Keith's hip, "dance," Lance straightened, pulling Keith closer, "with you." 


Keith visibly froze, his eyes going wide. "N-No you don't, you're drunk, Lance. I... I'm drunk too, we need to--" 


"Shhhhhh," Lance shushed, pressing a finger to Keith's lips. 


"We're going home. Now." Keith pulled from Lance's grip and dragged him out of the club were Lance promptly vomitted on the sidewalk. 


He felt the burn again. The burn of alcohol but now it was a cocktail of tequila and stomach acid and that burn was liberating. It hurt and it tasted terrible but it was what he deserved. It was what he came out here to do. To get drunk. To forget. Because he wouldn't remember this in the morning. 


Someone was pulling him away and pushing him into a car. He didn't know who. He didn't care. 


He wanted to go home. 








Chapter Text

 My daddy warned me not to get so busy

 And suddenly I'm watching you take off your dress

I couldn't stick around


Lance's head hurt. When he woke up he didn't know where he was, what day it was, or why he wasn't wearing his usual silk pajamas. Opening his eyes, he stared up at a blank white ceiling. Where was he? Where as the Navy blue ceiling with glow stars stuck to it? Where were his clothes? He was wearing his underwear, but what about the rest of what he was wearing? When he sat up, his head throbbed, so he paused and clutched his head with his eyes closed. As he cracked them open a bit, he slammed his eyelids closed again, the light piercing his retinas. 


He was definitely hungover. 


Slowly easing himself out of bed, he glanced around the room cautiously. It was fairly empty, just a the bed, a black nightstand with a lamp resting on top, a black dresser, and a desk that was cluttered with paper. Where was he? Did he have a drunken one night stand? He wouldn't be surprised, it had happened before. Shuffling out of the bedroom, he wandered into the hall, seeing the bathroom on the left and the living room straight ahead.


The living room looked oddly familiar. The grey carpet, the tidiness, like it hadn't been lived in, except for the wall of pictures... Wait. He knew this living room. He knew that bathroom was messy and had hair gel lying on the counter along with an open contact case and wet towels on the floor. He knew the kitchen that was normally clean except for a few dishes in the sink. He knew that one of the couch cushions had been flipped over because Lance has spilled half a can of beer on it while laughing at some shitty rom-com. 


This was Keith's apartment. 


Lance froze in the hallway. Keith must've brought him back to his apartment, Lance must've been so smashed that he didn't remember. That's fine, that was Keith being a good friend. But that didn't explain why Lance was sleeping in Keith's bed, or why there weren't any traces of Keith being there.


And good God, where were his clothes


They hadn't... Shit. They were both drunk. Lance knew that, Keith had said he was drunk himself. What if Lance had done something stupid because of his feelings and the tequila and, God, he had really fucked up. 


That was when Lance realized that the rollercoaster has crashed sometime last night and he didn't remember it. He should remember. He shouldn't have gotten so drunk; shouldn't have had that last shot of tequila, but Keith was there, and he was beautiful, and he would never see Lance like that. That was okay. Lance didn't blame Keith for not liking him, not many people did. 


But if Keith wasn't as drunk as Lance was and he remembered what Lance had drunkenly admitted, not to mention the hours of nothing in Lance's memory when literally anything could have happened... Lance screwed up his face and dragged a heavy hand through his hair. Letting out a breath, he straightened, and continued walking forward into the living room. There, thrown on the couch was his vest, and over there, crumpled in a heap by the couch, his pants. His shirt, his socks, his shoes, all scattered around the living room. Slipping on his rumpled clothes, he patted his pockets, looking for his phone. It wasn't there. Back tracking through the apartment, Lance found his phone on the charger on the nightstand. There was only one thing missing, now. 




Clicking on his phone, Lance looked at numerous texts from Pidge, Hunk, and even Shiro. None from Keith. Hastily unlocking his phone, Lance typed out messages to his friends, and assured them he was alright, considering it was nearly noon and all of them had texted at some point last night. After sliding his phone in his pocket, Lance once again walked back into the living room, looking for a note or something to indicate why Keith wasn't there. Nada. Pulling out his phone, Lance stared at the most recent conversation with "Mullet Man." 


Lance: meet me at the Lion Club at 9


Mullet Man: *thumbs up emoji* 


Mullet Man: hey where are you


Lance tapped on the last message: sent 9:05 pm. 


What had Lance done? 


Lance called an Uber to take him home, and when it got there, he sat in pensive silence on the ride home. Wracking his brain for something about what had happened, he only pulled up blanks. The last thing he remembered was vomitting outside the Lion Club. Beyond that, the world could've ended and he wouldn't have known.


Nothing, nothing, nothing. 


When he got back to his apartment, Lance collapsed on his bed. He should be studying for his finals, or cleaning, or doing anything other than have a pity party for himself on his bed, but he couldn't face functioning. He felt empty. Like he had ripped a piece of himself off and left it at the club. Again, Lance stared at his phone deliberating whether or not he should text Keith. Instead, he texted Shiro. Shiro would know what to do, right? 


Lance: hey shiro


TakiHOTTIE Shirogane: Yes, lance? 


Lance: has keith said anything to you recently? 


TakaHOTTIE Shirogane: Not about anything important. Why?


Lance: i uh


Lance: last night we went to the Lion Club together


Lance: and i dont remember anything


Lance: but i woke up at his place so i just thought


TakaHOTTIE Shirogane: Lance, are you okay?


Lance thought for a moment, deliberating what to say. He wasn't okay. He was freaking out and stressed and no amount of skin care would help the inevitable stress acne that would pop up on his forehead. 


Lance: not really


Lance: but ill be alright


TakaHOTTIE Shirogane: Lance, listen, I don't know what happened, but know that Keith wouldn't hurt you.


Lance: i know but what if i hurt him


TakaHOTTIE Shirogane: I know you, and I also know you wouldn't hurt a fly. I'm sure if something was wrong, he would tell you. 


Lance: but what if hes doing that thing where he isolates himself


TakaHOTTIE Shirogane: I don't know. But everything will work out, okay?


Lance: yeah


Lance turned off his phone and threw it on the bed. Keith was comfortable enough to come to him, right? He didn't know. He didn't know. He didn't know. 


He wanted to know. Lance would give anything, anything, to do something but... he couldn't. Because what if Keith remembered? What if he dropped their friendship like it meant nothing to him? What if everyone else found out and left him too? 


There were tears on Lance's face. They slipped down his face and died on the bedspread, leaving tiny wet circles to indicate their existence. Rather than wipe the damp tracks away, Lance left them. He was a mess. Let his face show it, just this once. 


Two hours later, Lance had to work. He was tempted to call in sick, but instead, he got up, changed his clothes, sprayed on some deodarant, and walked out the door while popping a Tylenol. Considering he worked at Starbucks, he could sneak some coffee and hope for the best. When he got there, he tied on his apron, plastered a smile on his face, and took his place behind the cash register. Everything was fine. He would get through this shitty work day and go home and eat a lot of ice cream and cry while watching Titanic. 


He was fine. 






Chapter Text



So text me in the morning

Tell me you still love me

I don't believe a single word


The following morning, Lance woke up to the sound of his phone buzzing. Groaning, he rolled over, smashed his pillow over his ears, and fell back asleep. His phone continued to buzz, vibrating it's way to the edge and falling to the ground with a thump. 


"Shit," Lance muttered, sitting up and grabbing his phone. 


After inspecting the screen for cracks and fining none, he clicked it on. The display read: (1) missed call from "TakaHOTTIE Shirogane" (1) voicemail received from "TakaHOTTIE Shirogane". Shiro had tried to call him then, why? 


Tapping on the voicemail, Lance half-listened to Shiro's message which said something along the lines of: "Hey, I'm worried about you, call me back when you get the chance!" 


Lance. was. fine. 


Tossing his phone behind him, Lance stood and took the longest shower he could manage without taking a cold shower, made a lavish breakfast of a microwave breakfast sandwich, then watched reruns of The Ellen Show for two hours. When he finally picked up his phone, he had three texts from Hunk, and one from Keith. 


His heart stopped. He stared at the screen for what felt like forever, but time was twisting and swirling around him, stretching and contracting and Lance didn't know how long he was standing there. 


Mullet Man: hey, you haven't sent any of your usual annoying messages, you okay? 


No, he wasn't, he was freaking out because he could not remember what he needed to. He ran a tired hand across his face before tapping on the notification. 


Lance: yeah! just been super busy


Mullet Man: that's never stopped you before. what's up? 


Lance: nothing, really, just stressing about finals. 


Lies, lies, lies. When would he stop? Nobody knows. 


Mullet Man: okay


Lance stopped replying. He didn't know what to say or what to do or how to act. 


Keith hadn't said anything about that night. Maybe Keith didn't hate him after all. But Lance couldn't wrap his head around it. 


Regardless, he still had work today, which meant that he had to pretend to like people for five hours and come home smelling like coffee and teenagers' Instagram posts. Getting up, he got dressed and headed to Starbucks, otherwise known as God's caramel macchiato scented asshole. 


When he got there, his co-worker Matt, who happened to be Pidge's older brother, was being the register, and Lotor, Lance's favorite person, was making drinks with their manager, Coran. 


"Hey, guys," Lance greeted, slipping behind the counter and washing his hands. 


"Glad you finally showed up," Lotor muttered. Lance tensed, wanting to argue in some way, but he had put up with enough shit these past couple days. He didn't need to add to it. 


Instead, Lance only walked over to Matt, snatched the most recent order out of his hand and started making it. Soon, he found a rhythm, darting from the coffee machine to the blender to the flavor pumps and back again. He stopped thinking, stopped stressing, only made coffee. He wasn't on register at all, so all he had to do was make coffee, and on days like this, he didn't mind his job. He could drown out anything with the sound of the blender. 


All was well. 


Lotor left about an hour into Lance's shift and he was replaced by a blonde girl Lance hadn't worked with much. Her name was Nyma, and Lance had to admit, she was pretty. Her features were sharp and looked almost like a super model's, the brooding, superior stare a fixture of her face. She was the type of girl Lance would've flirted with before he met... before he met Keith. 


Lance had met Keith three years ago, give or take. They went to the same college, and on the first day, Lance had spilled his hot coffee all over Keith. In Lance's defense, it was eight in the morning and he hadn't gone to bed until five that morning, so he was running on adrenaline and Red Bull. Keith's face went red, and he yelled. He hollered at Lance telling him off about how he should "watch where he was fucking going," and "the get the hell away." Despite his profuse apologies, Keith was not having it. He refused to talk to Lance for the entire first quarter. 


Lance, of course, thought that was absolute B.S., so after midterms, he brought an extra cup of coffee to class. He would doodle on the cup, then set it in Keith's spot, then go back to his own spot. The first time, Keith pushed it away. When Lance deliberately wrote "for Keith" on it, he started drinking it. Soon, they were greeting each other in the hallway. Then they would chat before and after class. Sometime before the semester ended, Lance moved to the empty spot beside Keith. 


On the last day before finals, they exchanged phone numbers. 


Lance could even remember the first text he had ever sent to Keith. 


Lance: hey this is the most beautiful person in your english class


Coffee Guy: ha ha very funny. 


Back then, Lance hadn't yet dubbed Keith as "Mullet Man," so he was "Coffee Guy" instead. The day Keith was dubbed "Mullet Man" was a milestone in their friendship. Keith had worn his hair down and made some stupid comment about how his hair, though it had grown out, was business in the front and party in the back. 


"Wait, wait, wait," Lance had interrupted. "Like a mullet?" 


"Definitely not a mullet," Keith had protested. 


"Now that I'm looking at it..." Lance teased, poking at the longer hair in the back. "Definitely a mullet." 


"It is not."


"It is." 


"Is not." 


"Is so." 






"Dammit, Lance!" Keith yelled, grabbing a pair of nearby scissors. "I'll cut it," he threatened. 


"You wouldn't," Lance replied. 


"I will!" Keith repeated grabbing a handful of hair at the base of his neck. 


Lance feigned a gasp, putting a hand over his mouth to add to the dramatics. 


After a few seconds of a silent, intense staring contest, Keith snorted, causing Lance to laugh. They both were howling then, cheeks and stomachs hurting from the hilarity. 


"Fine, keep your stupid haircut," Lance wheezed. "But I get to call you Mullet Man." 


Keith could only nod, unable to stop laughing. 


When they finally stopped, Lance remembered looking over at Keith, with his flushed face, bright, violet-blue eyes, and hair falling in his face, and Lance thought to himself: Wow. That was the first moment, six months after meeting him, that Lance recognized his feelings for Keith. That he was beautiful and sure, he was a total asshat sometimes, but he was human and present and so determined, Lance couldn't help himself. 


Now Keith was slipping through his fingers, like Lance was grabbing at steam. Lance was lying to him left and right and he didn't know where he stood and it was so difficult. He couldn't even talk to one of his best friends. 


After work, Lance went home and collapsed on the couch, grabbing the nearest blanket and burrowing in it. He should be going out, see his friends, flirt with some random person, possibly hook up, go to sleep, then wake up and go to class. Instead, he was moping on the couch like a loser. 


Great plan, Lance, great plan. 







Chapter Text




You tell me you're tipsy; I tell you you're pretty

We could spend the night if you're still sure

But text me in the morning


The next week went by as uneventfully as it could, considering Lance was shutting himself in and refusing to talk to his friends, even though he knew it was self destructive. He finished his finals, he turned in his books, and he was relieved to finally be on winter break. He'd go home to his family for Christmas, (he was supposed to leave the next day,) and then he'd only have one more semester left. 


A total of two weeks since the night at the Lion Club passed before Lance started to get snippets of that night. A laugh ringing in his ear, a word or phrase, the smell of alcohol. It was like putting together the framework of a puzzle, piece by piece, until there is a vauge idea of what the puzzle is supposed to look like. Except, in Lance's case, once the frame was made, more and more pieces of the puzzle began to fill themselves in until he could assume the missing parts into existence. 


Lance vividly remembered trying to dance with Keith the second time. 


"I," Lance paused, swaying on his feet, "want," he leaned closer to Keith, "to," his hand crept to Keith's hip, "dance," Lance straightened, pulling Keith closer, "with you," Lance recalled.



 Keith visibly froze, his eyes going wide. "N-No you don't, you're drunk, Lance. I... I'm drunk too, we need to--" 


"Shhhhhh," Lance shushed, pressing a finger to Keith's lips. 


Anything after that was swirly and couldn't be trusted, at least, not fully. After he had puked on the sidewalk, Keith had pulled him into an Uber, Lance was sure, and it made sense, considering he was in Keith's bed the following morning. He knew they made it back to the apartment, but he had no recollection of what happened in the car, except for a streaky, blurry memory of Keith blushing. 


What he did remember was what occurred sometime before Lance fell asleep, and though he had wanted to relive this moment for a week, the second it started to trickle back to his recollection, Lance regretted it. 


A door being closed gently, the click of a lock. Grey walls, mostly bare, except for a wall of pictures. There was... There was a hand in Lance's with lots of rings and bracelets on the hand's wrist. Keith's wrist.


"Lance," a voice whispered, close to Lance's right ear. "You need to rest, seriously. We're both very, very drunk."


Lance turned his head slowly, gazing down at a very, very pretty boy. It was Keith, of course, but the way the moonlight caught in his eyes and how soft his hair looked was overwhelming. Lance really, really wanted to touch Keith's hair.


So he did.


He reached out and tucked a few strands behind Keith's ear. "Does it matter, really, if we're drunk?" Lance heard his voice say. "I've wanted to do this for a lot longer than I've been drunk." He was so serious, and Lance wasn't entirely sure why. 


"You wanted to--" Keith began.


"Wanted to kiss you," Lance finished confidently, as if he were asking the time or announcing the current temperature. 


Keith's face looked darker now, he was... Blushing? 


"Then do it," Keith answered, looking shy, but still somehow managing to come off as determined. 


Lance brought his other hand up to cradle Keith's face. They were inching closer, closer, closer. "You're so pretty," Lance whispered. 


Then their lips were touching, gentle and soft at first, but turning firey and desperate very quickly. Lance tasted alcohol on Keith's lips. 


Lance couldn't take it. He remembered, he remembered, he remembered and it was awful. He could practically feel the kiss, the need, the want they both had for each other. Despite this, Lance knew something wasn't right. They had been drunk, very, very drunk. Lance was lonely that day and between the multiple shots of tequila and his broken, pining heart, everything he did, everything he said that night was up for speculation. As for Keith... Lance wasn't sure. His brain could be playing tricks on him, giving him the memories he wanted and not the ones he needed.  


He needed to talk to Keith. 


He debated texting him for maybe twenty minutes, going back and forth like the pendulum of a clock. Finally, Lance typed out a message, and before he could change his mind, jammed his finger on the send button. 


Lance: we need to talk


It was a terrible way to start a conversation, Lance knew. He needed a reply, and he needed it now. He was tired of hiding and stressing, he wanted to get it over with. 


Mullet Man: what about? 


Lance: what happened at the Lion Club


Mullet Man: can you meet me at Starbucks in twenty minutes?


Lance: yeah ill be there


Lance idled in his apartment for another ten minutes, fiddling with his hair, his clothes, anything to keep him distracted, then he left. When he arrived, Keith was already seated at a table, sipping some kind of warm drink. He was wearing a black beanie, his fingerless leather gloves, and a red, leather jacket, and he looked good, which Lance decided was totally unfair. Lance looked and felt like shit, but here was Keith, glowing and looking like he walked out of a fashion magazine.


Definitely not fair. 


Skipping coffee, Lance slid into the seat across from Keith, shooting him a grin. 


"Hey, man, how's it going?" 


"Okay, I guess," Keith answered, looking down at his cup. 


They sat in silence for a minute, looking anywhere but each other. Both looked up, opened their mouths to say something, then closed them, staring at each other. 


"Look," Lance began, fidgeting with an abandoned coffee stirrer. 


"Lance, wait," Keith interrupted. "Let me explain." 


"Explain what?" Lance questioned, almost angrily, looking Keith in the eye. "Because I don't remember most of what happened." 


"I... Okay. What's the last thing you remember?"


"Vomiting outside the club, then getting in an Uber, I think? With you?" Keith nodded, confirming Lance's words. "Then I'm not one-hundered percent sure, but I... I have some pieces, I think." 


Keith paused for a split second, his cup halfway to his face, then he took a long, slow sip. He set his cup down again, unable to meet Lance's eyes. "I... You..." He rubbed a tired hand across half of his face. "I... We kissed. After I brought you home, we kissed. We walked in the door and..." Keith's voice peetered out. His gaze flicked up to Lance's for a second, then darted away. "But we didn't do anything else. You took off your clothes because you were hot or something, I don't... I don't know." 


"I... I thought so," Lance replied simply, looking at the table. "Look, Keith," Lance started, moving his gaze back to Keith. "I don't want this to change anything between us. We... were drunk. It didn't mean anything." Despite what he said, Lance knew it did mean something, to him at least. 


"Y-Yeah, obviously," Keith sighed. "I'm not going to throw away our friendship over a drunken mistake." 


Mistake. The word pounded in Lance's head. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake. 


"Duh," Lance tried, his voice falling flat. Silence reigned again, and like before, neither could look the other in the eye. 


"I have to go," Keith and Lance announced at the same time, standing. 


"Uh, yeah. I'll... I'll see you around," Lance murmured. 


"Yeah, see you," Keith answered, turning away from Lance and to the other exit. 


As Lance began his walk home, a he could see was Keith's face, refusing to look at him, and the work "mistake" bouncing through his brain synapses. It had been a mistake. A terrible, stupid, drunken, idiotic mistake. 


Lance pushed the memory of how beautiful Keith had looked that night and the warm tingling that buzzed on his lips away. It didn't matter. It wouldn't happen again. Ever. 






Chapter Text


Woke up all soaking wet from last night's fever

Smelling like cigarettes and broken promises


Lance got home and decided that because it was the last night he would be in town for the year, he was going out again, by himself this time. He wouldn't drink as much as he did last time, but enough to feel light and tipsy. Enough to find some hot person to dance with, mess around a little, then go home. 


Lance began his "going out" routine again, the shower, the aftershave, the makeup, and the clothes, and finished in roughly an hour. Tonight, he was going to a club called The Empire, it had just been remodeled, and apparently it was the best club on his side of town. 


Lance was going to find this out for himself. 


When he got there, he saw that the line stretched out and down the sidewalk, but Lance didn't care. He'd wait. Popping in the line, Lance tried to shove any thoughts of Keith and his stupid mullet and his stupid pretty eyes out of his head. Tonight was Lance's night, and some asshole with a beautiful smile and stunning violet eyes wasn't going to change that. After about thirty minutes, Lance made it inside the club. The lighting was entirely purple and red, there was a balcony that wrapped around the room near the ceiling, and clear cylinders were scattered around the area, near the bar, the corners of the dance floor, and flanking the entrance, all huge and filled with water and sharks. The dance floor itself was made of thick acrylic, and beneath it was water that glowed red. 


So basically, this place was really fucking cool. 


Lance just stood there, gawking at his surroundings, until someone came and pushed him aside, spewing obscenities. Scowling in the person's direction, Lance walked further into the club, trying to stay focused on where he was going--the bar. He pulled his shoulders back, lifted his chin just a smidge, and slid next to a girl in a tight, strapless blue dress and long blonde hair that was slicked back into a ponytail. He pretended to pay her no mind, though she seemed somehow familiar. Instead, he watched the bartender pour soda into a glass and slide it to the blonde. 


She grinned, then turned away, glancing at Lance breifly, before stopping and proclaiming: "Lance! Hi!" 


Nyma. From Starbucks. "Hi... Nyma. Fancy seeing you here!" 


"Yeah! I heard that this club was the absolute shit, and I had to check it out." 


"Right? The decor is amazing... The sharks? Such a nice touch." 


Nyma seemed to be inching gradually closer as they talked, her purple eyes shining in the dim lighting. Those had to be contacts, unlike Keith's blue-violet eyes. Lance stopped himself. No Keith, the whole point of going out was to not think about him. Nyma was here, gorgeous with her glossy lips and high cheekbones. Forget Keith. 


"Could I... buy you a drink?" Lance asked, looking Nyma in the eye. 


"Only if I'm not drinking alone," she answered, a playful smirk dancing on her lips. 


"Well of course you aren't." Lance waved over the bartender over and ordered a whiskey on the rocks for himself, and glancing once at Nyma, an Amaretto Sour. 


Leaning over to him, she murmured in his ear: "My favorite, how'd you know?" 


A shiver ran down Lance's spine. 


He looked back at her, shrugged, then laughed. "Let's just say I know you have good taste." 


"And how's that?"


"You let me buy you a drink, didn't you?" 


Nyma giggled. "I suppose you're right." 


The bartender handed Nyma her Amaretto Sour and Lance his whiskey. He took a sip, and all he could taste was Keith and his lips during that stupid, drunken mistake. Lance quickly downed the rest. 


When Nyma had finished, Lance shot her look, and she stared quizically back. 


"Shots?" Lance suggested. 


"Fuck yeah," Nyma agreed. 


Lance didn't know what he ordered, but he know three shot glasses were lined up in front of both of them, and they each downed them quickly. As soon Lance slammed his last glass down, he took Nyma's hand and led her to the dance floor. He felt light, everything blurring just a little, enough alcohol in his system to loosen make him loosen up; make it seem like he was moving a lot more than he really was. 


Nyma's arms were around his neck, Lance had his hands on her hips. She was beautiful, really, her arched eyebrows framing her face, her smile flirtatious and sweet. She was the one that would make Lance forget. She wasn't alcohol. She was better. 


Their faces were inches apart and something in Lance's chest ached and he wanted to push it aside, forget, drown in something that wasn't his fuck up or some idiot's blue-violet eyes. He kissed her, her lip gloss sticky and sweet against his lips. She tasted like the shots, vodka and cranberry and she smelled like cigarettes, sweat, and a floral perfume to hide the first two scents. Her hands were sliding down his chest, his hands were sliding down her back. The air felt hot and thick and it was perfect. 


Lance pulled away just long enough to ask: "My place?" before Nyma was devouring his lips again, clinging to him so tightly that Lance felt her fingernails through his shirt. 


She detatched their lips and looked him in the eye. "Please." 


Lance was herding her out the door before she could say anything else. 


When they got back to Lance's apartment, Lance had trouble fitting his key into the lock, his hands were shaking and Nyma's lips were on his neck leaving syrupy marks. The door finally busted open, and Lance pressed her against the hallway wall, his lips attaching to hers easily. Her fingers were undoing the buttons of his shirt. His fingers were working at the zipper of her dress. 


"Wait," Lance breathed, the top four buttons of his shirt unbuttoned and revealing his bare chest.


"What?" Nyma sighed, eyes closed.


"Are you sure?" 


She opened her eyes slowly. "Of course." 


"Just... just checking," Lance muttered. 


Nyma brushed her lips against his gently. "You're sweet, Lance." 


He kissed her again, harder, in reply. He finished unzipping her dress and pushed it to floor. She kicked it aside, never disconnecting her lips from Lance's skin. His lips found her jaw, her neck, her sternum, and Lance forgot him, for just a second. 


As they moved against each other in Lance's bed, Lance remembered him again. The sliver of moonlight that made it through the crack in his curtains and illuminated a swath of pale skin shot him back to that night two weeks ago, and the moon shining on Keith's face. The purple eyes that were clouded with lust contrasted with the pure innocence Keith's eyes held. The alcohol on her lips was too artificial in comparison to the rich taste of whiskey on Keith's lips. 


Lance didn't stop. He kept kissing and touching and needing and wanting but it was not who he wanted to kiss, who he wanted to touch, who he wanted to need. Who he wanted to want him. 


Lance woke up alone. He smelled like cigarettes and floral perfume and he felt dirty. He dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets, clutching his head and trying not to cry. There was nothing to cry about! He had just had amazing sex with a beautiful woman! He had felt great last night! He wasn't terribly hungover! That didn't stop the hurt that throbbed somewhere between his sternum and his spine, didn't stop the guilt that settled into his stomach. 


He felt like he had broken something, something fragile, even though there was nothing between Keith and him. He wanted there to be. But there wasn't. He shouldn't be guilty. He shouldn't feel this destroyed by a one night stand with a co-worker. Tears trickled down his face. Ignoring them, he swung his feet out of bed, shimmied into his boxers and sweatpants, then began tearing the sheets off his bed. 


Lance wanted her gone. Wanted her fake smell and smile out of his sight, his home, his memory. He shoved the dirty sheets into a garbage bag, stormed down the stairs, and threw it into the dumpster. 


Fuck Nyma and her saccarine lips. Fuck Keith and his gorgeous smile, dimples, eyes, hands, hair, everything. 


Fuck everything. 









Chapter Text




Your mother said: 'Don't be an overachiever.'

I please her, oh please girl, I never did believe her


Lance was packing to leave for his parents' house when he saw the slip of paper on his nightstand. It looked like it had been torn off the end of a receipt, and the handwriting on it was tall and loopy, the letters all squashed together like four people sitting on a bus seat that was clearly meant for two. "Call me! :)" It read, then a number was scrawled beneath. 


Nyma's number. 


Lance picked up the note. His fingers itched to crumple it, rip it to shreds, burn it. Tearing it in half, then quaters, then eights, then sixteenths, he ripped it until he was holding a pile of white confetti that he unceremoniously dumped in the garbage can. 


He finished packing, then loaded his suitcase into the car. Climbing in, he plugged the auxillary cord into his phone and opened Spotify. He put some music on, but as he was driving, he stopped listening about fifteen minutes in. He still had about seven hours until he reached home, which left him about six and a half hours too much to think. 


Keith's face flashed in his memory. He was haunting Lance, a ghost that reminded him of his previous idiocity. Lance should be honest with Keith, honest about his feelings, his wants, but he couldn't bring himself to, not after Keith had told Lance, point blank, that they had made a mistake. Was Lance really willing to sacrifice his friendship? Was having Keith in his life, as a friend, enough? 


By the time Lance reached his home on the outskirts of Tuscon, Arizona, he had thought himself in circles. He hadn't made up his mind, he couldn't make up his mind, and he had two whole weeks away from everyone. It was just his family. That was what he needed. 


On day one of being home, Lance settled back in to his old life like putting on an old favorite t-shirt that was at the bottom of the drawer; worn, familiar, yet foreign at the same time. His siblings were all estatic to see him, prodding him with questions about college and being an astronaut, (Lance had firmly told them that he wasn't an astronaut yet,) and if Lance had a significant other yet. Lance avoided the last question as best he could. His Mamá and Padré looked tired, what, with seven kids in the house, but happy and content. They embraced him easily, and it was exactly what Lance needed in the moment. 


Days two through four were spent prepping for Christmas Eve, which was a big deal in the McClain house. Decorations were put up, presents wrapped and the tree trimmed. ("Because Mamá, we can't put up the tree without Lance!" Sebastian insisted.) 


Day five was baking day. 


Now that may sound happy, easy, and like a fun time, but in the McClain house, baking day meant business. Lance was rolled out of bed at exactly six a.m., shoved into the shower, then told to report in the kitchen at six-fifteen sharp. 


Lance loved baking day, despite being awake at an ungodly hour and being on his feet all day. He loved how the kitchen smelled like cookies and warmth, how his Mamá, his siblings, and himself always ended up covered in flower. He loved the clear memories of laughter. 


That is why when Lance slid into the kitchen at six-sixteen and received a firm scolding, Lance looked pensive but slapped a smile on his face anyway. He was home with his family, with his older sister Elora, and his younger siblings, the twins, Milo and Felix, then Ina, Otis, Aria, Dinah, and the youngest, Sebastian. He loved them all dearly and with all nine of the piled in the kitchen, Lance knew that this was what home really felt like. 


As Lance rolled out cookie dough, cracked eggs, and threw a few handfuls of flour at Milo and Felix when Mamá wasn't looking, Lance's thoughts began to drift. He thought about his friends' families, and their complexity. 


Hunk's family was from Samoa, and immigrated to America back in the 1920s. Hunk's dad, Paulo, often visited Samoa even today, when he wasn't busy working as a mechanic in Washington state. Hunk's mom, Sadie, stayed at home mostly, but she made the best food Lance had ever tasted. She cooked food from every culture; from fried chicken to escargot, and all of it was incredible, even the snails. Lance firmly believed that Hunk had inherited both of his parents' best attributes, and it showed in how he always changed Lance's oil if he needed it, or had everyone over for dinner. 


Then there was the Holt family. Pidge, Matt, and Colleen, Pidge and Matt's mom. Their dad had dad had gone missing and was presumably dead after a retrieval mission in the Air Force. Matt, Shiro, and Sam had all been captured; Matt and Shiro made it home, Sam had not. Pidge had taken the news hard; spent all hours of every day hacking into servers and websites tracking down any piece of information they could. When Shiro had somehow made it home, it only fueled Pidge's desperation. They eventually found Matt, hunkering down with some resistance and was buying time to get home. They couldn't find Sam. 


The Shirogane's, Shiro's family, were some of the nicest people Lance had ever had the honor of meeting. Haia, Shiro's mom, was a geography teacher at a college in Oregon, and Shiro's dad, Kyosuke, was an astrophysicist. Both of them were born in the U.S. but felt a strong connection to their Japanese roots. Takashi Shirogane, or Shiro, as everyone in high school had dubbed him, enrolled in the military as soon as he graduated from high school. When he was captured, his captors began performing surgeries and experiment on him, which caused him to lose his arm. Now he had a prothesis that was pretty cool, in Lance's opinion. It didn't have super powers or anything, but it did have these super awesome parts that glowed purple. 


Allura's family, the Alteas, were from England, and everyone but Allura lived there still. Her father, Alfor Altea, was the CEO of a company that specialized in technology. It was no Apple, but it was definitely an up and coming competitor. Allura's mom, Serilda, was the Vice President of Altea Tech, and seemed to be very supportive of Allura and her occupation. She also loved Shiro to pieces. Lance hadn't met Allura's family personally, except Allura's eccentric uncle Coran, but he had heard that were all of them were amazing, and he knew he'd get to meet them at Shiro and Allura's wedding. 


Then... Lance's thoughts strayed to where they always ended up; Keith's family. Except... Keith didn't really have a family, other than his dad. Though honestly, Lance didn't think Keith's dad really counted, considering he was a drunk and let Keith be put into foster care when he was five. He was never adopted. Apparently, one of the dozen older foster sisters that Keith encountered told him to keep his head down, don't too much, or else that's what they'll expect, even when you have a bad day, and don't do too little, or you won't ever find a home. 


Lance thought that was bullshit, and that if you were spectacular all the time, (and Keith was without even trying,) then a family who really loved you would understand if you had a bad day. 


Keith didn't agree. He thought that what he did was right, that it was probably for the best. Because if something happened to him, no one would care. Lance had tried to argue, but Keith didn't listen. 


What was Keith doing for Christmas? Anything? Nothing? 


Chapter Text



And I'll never tell you why

Oh, I'll never tell a lie


Christmas Eve morning began early, with Sebastian, Dinah, and Aria running through the hallway, yelling: "Merry Christmas!!!" and shrieking about wanting to open their stockings. The rest of the day flew by, filled with so many things to do before Lance's extended family arrived. Lance was so preoccupied that he didn't have time to think about anything, let alone mope around the house because of that unrequited love bullshit. 


When Lance's extended family arrived, things relaxed for a bit. Dinner was eaten, dessert served, and cookie trays scattered around the house. They all gathered around the Christmas tree and passed sorted gifts, the shredding of paper beginning as soon as Sebastian was handed a gift. Lance himself stood off to the side, watching fondly as his brothers and younger cousins radiated joy. After a little while, Elora approached Lance where he was leaning against the wall. 


"Is everything okay?" She asked, her brows furrowed. 


"Yeah! Yeah, everything's fine."


"Don't think I can't tell when you're lying, Lance." 


Sighing, Lance looked over at her. "Really, I'm okay."


"I don't believe you," Elora stated. 


"Then how can I make you believe me?" Lance questioned. 


"By calling whoever you're pining over and talking about whatever happened."


Lance opened his mouth to reassure her that he was fine, then stopped. "Wait, what?" 


"I know that look. That's the 'theres this cute girl that I accidentally confessed to, and she doesn't feel the same way' look." 


Lance's face fell. "Boy, actually. Cute boy." 


Elora didn't flinch. "Cute boy then. You should talk to him." 


"I can't. I... Elora, he's... he's so perfect and beautiful and... I... We... He..." Lance scrambled for words. "I kissed him," he finally managed, his voice dropping. "I was drunk and he was drunk and we kissed and he said it was a mistake." 


Elora paused. "Do you think it was a mistake?" 


Lance stopped, thinking. He was glad he kissed Keith, he supposed, but the rift that had formed since was awful. 


"Yes," he finally answered. 


"Then you need to apologize." 


"'re right," he conceeded. 


"When everyone leaves, you're going to call this boy and you're going to set thing right, you hear me?" 


"Elora, you're only four years older than me," Lance complained. "You shouldn't--" 


"You hear me?" 


"...yes ma'am." 


When his family left, Lance crept up the stairs and pulled out his phone. He had a few texts from all of his friends, Pidge, Hunk, Shiro, even Allura. None from Keith. Typing a quick message, he asked: 


Lance: hey, can i call/ft you? 


Then he put his phone on the nightstand of his old room, and went to get ready for bed. He came back after washing his face, and checked his notifications. 


Mullet Man: uh, yeah, you can facetime, is everything okay?


Lance didn't even bother with typing a reply. He tapped the FaceTime button right away, despite the faceask that was now beginning to harden on his face, and waited. 


A very tired looking Keith appeared a second later. His eyes were half closed, one hand propping up his chin, his black hair touseled and messy. He had dark circles under his eyes. Despite all this, he still looked stunning. 


"Hey," Lance began.


Keith flinched, his eyes shooting open and his eyebrows flying upward. "Lance!" he yelped. "Hi!" 


"You okay there, bud?" Lance laughed. 


"Mm? Oh, yeah, yeah, I'm just tired."


"You can go to bed, Keith, it's alr--"


"No, no, I'm fine, really," Keith insisted, his voice slipping into something deep and gravelley. "Are you okay?" 


"Yeah, I just..." Lance stopped, taking a breath. "I want to apologize." 


"For what?" Keith asked sleepily. 


"For... For the other night." 


"Lance, there's nothing to apologize for," Keith murmured. "We both fucked up." 


"But now everything feels... wrong." 


"We'll get over it, Lance." 


"I... I guess." 


"See? Problem solved. Now, I'm going to--" 


"Wait!" Lance interrupted, not really sure what he was going to say. "...uh... how is your... Christmas going so far?" The words were slow and choppy coming out of Lance's mouth. 


"Good, good. Just me in my apartment, really. How's yours?" 


"Pretty good, chaos though. Sebastian, Dinah, and Aria woke us all up at like... five because they wanted to open stockings. Then Aunt Deborah..." Lance started to ramble, telling Keith all about his family and their weird quirks. When Lance looked back at his phone, Keith was sleeping, his mouth hanging open and his hand propped against his cheek. 


"Keith?" Lance said quietly. 


Keith kept sleeping, a small snore coming through the screen. 


"Night, buddy." 


Lance ended the call, then leaned over to the nightstand and connected his phone to his charger. Settling into bed, he stared up at the ceiling and counted the spots where he had peeled the glow-stars off the ceiling and the adhesive took the paint off. 


He fell asleep somewhere between fifteen and infinity. 


The next morning he had a text from Keith, which was a profuse apology about falling asleep while FaceTiming. 


Lance: dude dont stress it


Mullet Man: it was a long day yesterday, y'know? 


Lance: need to talk about it?


Mullet Man: not really


Mullet Man: unless you wanna hear about it


Lance: sure. fire away


Mullet Man: welllllllll.... 


Mullet Man: shiro asked me to be his best man


Mullet Man: now because I'm incompetent sometimes


Mullet Man: instead of being normal and saying "yeah totally" 


Mullet Man: I just sorta stared at him 


Mullet Man: and he took it as a no


Lance: oooooooooooh shit


Mullet Man: yeah no kidding


Mullet Man: so basically, I spent all of yesterday apologizing to shiro and hoping that he would forgive me


Lance: damn


Lance: did you get it sorted out?


Mullet Man: yeah, yeah. but on top of that I had to work and as cool as working at a record store is, people can be so pretensious about their music 


Mullet Man: like, okay, I'm sorry, but considering the record you want is used, I can't really change the fact that the cover is a bit worn


Lance: people actually do that


Lance: stupid


Mullet Man: yeah so that was my day


Lance: at least you got to see my smiling face to cheer you up


Mullet Man: you didn't do a very good job, I fell asleep, didn't I? 


Lance: hey now


Lance: no need to be rude


Keith stopped replying. 


The rest of Lance's time spent with his family was busy, and loud, and exactly what Lance needed. When he was packing his suitcase to go home, he was happy. The smiling-just-because, bounce-in-your-step, sunshine-shooting-out-your-ass happy that is borderline annoying. Between the memories made with family and all other moments stolen by texting Keith and FaceTiming him at night, Lance was pretty sure the glow he carried wasn't from just strategically placed highlighter. 


Throwing his bags in the car, Lance waved a final time to him family, who were all gathered on the front porch. Then he plugged his phone in, turned on the radio, and pulled out of the driveway. 


Back to his apartment, his school, his friends, and Keith, who had told him that they needed to hang out soon. Which was totally fine with Lance, but even just thinking about it made Lance antsy. He still liked Keith, as much as he didn't want to. Would he do something stupid when he was sober? He could. He has. It was just hanging out. With a beautiful boy. Just two bros, chilling. 













Chapter Text


So text me in the morning

Tell me you still love me

I don't believe a single word


The second Lance got home, he threw his suitcase in his room, took a shower, then collapsed in bed. The next morning was supposed to be when Keith and Lance would meet at this little bookstore across town; Keith apparently had some books there he wanted and he promised Lance free coffee after. Besides, Lance liked books and bookstores, something about the atmosphere relaxed him. 


Despite the promised calm that the bookstore offered, Lance had trouble getting to sleep. What would it be like? It would be the first time the two of them had seen each other since getting coffee to discuss what happened at the Lion Club. Would it be awkward? Would Lance do something stupid again?


Groaning, Lance buried his face in his pillow. He could worry about it tomorrow, he told himself. Just focus on the now. 


He fell asleep thinking about that night, a month ago, in Keith's apartment.  


His alarm went off at eight, and Lance shot out of bed, and looked anxiously through his closet. He was determined to look nice today, because today it really counted. Finally picking out an outfit that consisted of medium wash, ripped jeans, a black, long sleeved t-shirt, and a long, tan jacket, he was mildly pleased. Throwing the jacket on the bed, Lance slid into the bathroom and started fussing with his hair. There was this one stubborn piece of hair that would not stay, and as Lance fussed with it, his arms beginning to burn. Exasperated, he gave up and decided to wear a wide brimmed hat instead. After carefully dabbing highlighter in the corner of his eyes, cheekbones, and Cupid's bow, Lance felt that he was ready to go. He slipped on the jacket, shoved his phone in his pocket, and was halfway out the door before he realized he forgot to put shoes on. Cussing under his breath, he jammed a pair of black boots on, then began the trip to the bookstore. 


He grabbed his keys, then hopped in his car, plugging the name of the bookstore, Balmera Books, into his GPS. It would take about twenty minutes with traffic, at least, that's what Maps said. Donning his favorite pair of sunglasses, he jammed his thumb on the "navigate" button and started the car. 


The twenty minutes to the bookstore were simultaneously the longest and shortest twenty minutes he had ever lived. The thoughts bouncing around his grey matter refused to slow down, despite his best efforts. He was so distracted, he didn't notice that he nearly ran a red light, not once, but twice. By the time he got there, Lance was convinced he had just committed at least three driving violations. 


After parking, Lance walked across the street, then stopped in front of Balmera Books. He checked his phone for any texts from Keith, (there were none,) then stepped inside. A bell tinkled above his head, singnaling his entrance. Off to the left side, a tall girl with a blunt bob and huge hoop earrings looked up. 


"Welcome to Balmera Books! If you need any help, let me know!" Her voice was soft and timid and her white teeth contrasted beautifully with her dark complexion. 


"Oh! Thanks," Lance grinned, then began wondering through the eisles of books. 


From what he could tell, they sold all kinds of books here, not just new ones, but used and antique books too. They were sorted accordingly, all the new books on wooden shelves that smelled of lemon furniture polish, used books displayed on tables in boxes with yard sale stickers displaying their price, and the antique books locked in glass display cases in the back corner. It was a beautiful shop, clean and quiet, and with a few arm chairs scattered around for reading. 


It was peaceful and exactly what Lance needed to calm his nerves. 


Except when the bell jingled above the door, Lance instantly tensed. Looking in the direction of the entrance, Lance saw Keith running a hand through his hair, waving to the cashier, who he called Shay. A leather jacket was thrown over a grey hoodie, and black jeans gave way to maroon Vans. Once again, Keith looked effortlessly flawless, and Lance started to feel self conscious about his wide brimmed hat and long coat. He was over dressed, wasn't he? 


He was fidgeting with his jacket pockets when he heard a light: "Hey, Lance!" 


Lance jerked his head up. "H-Hi, Keith." Pull it together, he told himself. 


"Shay has my book behind the counter, so I can just grab it and go, unless you want to look around?" 


Lance began to relax, just a bit. "I kinda wanna shop for a bit, is that okay?" 


"Yeah, yeah, totally." Keith walked closer, a small smile on his face. "You look nice," he offered. 


"Thanks," Lance breathed, adjusting his collar. "You don't look too bad yourself, Mullet Man." 


Keith's smile widened. "Thanks, man." He paused a second. "Can I make a suggestion?" 


"About what?" 


"Shopping here." 


"Yeah, shoot." 


"Start in the used books. It might look like a lot, but there's some awesome books in there. I found a signed copy of The Hobbit, once." 


"No way," Lance protested. 


"I promise," Keith swore. 


"Well now you've got my hopes up," Lance teased, beginning to feel more himself  as he turned toward the tables of books. 


Keith walked to the other side of the table, saying: "You've always got your hopes up." 


Lance chuckled, then began rummaging through the books. He pulled out a worn, hardcover copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and inspected it. The cover's edges proudly displayed wear, corners of cardboard peeking out through worn linen. The binding itself still seemed strong though, so Lance tucked it under his arm and kept looking. Truth be told, Lance wasn't much of a reader, despite how much he liked the concept of reading. Maybe he would get into it now that he discovered this tiny nook of heaven tucked away in the corners of the city. 


Lance found a few more books, then glanced at Keith, who didn't seem to be looking at books at all. Instead, when Lance looked up at him, he was smiling at Lance. Lance could feel his stomach flip. This wasn't fair. Keith was toying with him like a cat played with its prey before murdering it and leaving a headless carcass on an unsuspecting owner's doorstep. 


After another fifteen minutes, Lance and Keith bought their books, then left to go to the coffee shop. Keith, apparently, had decided that it was going to rain, so he took an Uber instead of his motorcycle. ("C'mon man, there's like... one cloud in the sky." "Lance, the meteorologist said--" "Whatever, just get in the damn car.") Because of this, Keith was now sitting in the passenger seat of Lance's blue clunker that smelled faintly of Lance's cologne and French fries. Sitting there, looking out the window as Lance tinkered with the radio, he looked stunning, all angles except the soft slope of his nose. His eyes moved quickly, following buildings and cars, observing everything. Keith seemed anxious, his fingers drumming against his leg. Lance wanted to say something, but instead he drove in silence, sneaking looks at Keith when he could. 


Lance parked on the street opposite the coffee shop, then hopped out of the car, almost running into oncoming traffic. Lance stumbled back, running into his car. Laughing at himself, he then started across the street, Keith following close behind. When they entered, the coffee shop engulfed them both with the aroma of coffee and fresh pastries. Lance could feel himself relax, a pleasent tingle spreading down his spine as he inhaled the scent. 


Keith nudged him with his elbow, pointing to an empty booth tucked in a corner surrounded by black and white photographs. "Grab our seat?" 


"Yeah, can you get me a lavender mocha?" 


"Yeah, of course. Now go before somebody steals it," Keith admonished. 


"Okay, okay, I'm going," Lance defended, his hands in the air. 


Sliding into the booth, Lance examined the photographs, taking off his hat and putting it on the table. There were a lot of smiling people in the pictures, all holding coffee mugs, and a few sporting latte foam mustaches. Lance grinned. He didn't know who these people were, but they looked happy and content. 


A few minutes later, Keith reappeared with two coffee mugs on saucers, a napkin sandwiched between the cup and the plate. He gingerly placed them both on the table, then slid one of the mugs to Lance. 


"One lavender mocha," Keith stated, sitting down. 


"Thank you," Lance sang, picking up his coffee and savoring a long sip. 


They sat and chatted for about an hour, their coffee drank and empty mugs pushed aside. Eventually, Lance stood and grabbed Keith's mug and saucer to put in the bin of dirty dishes. He stacked Keith's dishes, the plate in one stack, the mug in another, then threw the napkin away. Next, he put his coffee cup in the stack, but when he went to stack his saucer, something caught his eye. His napkin had writing on it. Picking it up, he examined it for a second, seeing: "Did you fall from Tennessee cause you're the only Heaven I see," and Lance almost choked. 


That was what Lance had claimed Keith would say when he was trying to flirt. 


Lance, unsure of what to do, shoved the napkin in his coat pocket, pasted on a grin, and walked back to the table. 


"You ready to go?" 


"Yup!" Keith answered brightly, standing up quickly, and scratching the back of his neck. 


As Lance drove Keith back to his apartment, he could feel the electricity crackling in the air between them. For a while Lance thought that he was imagining it, but between the stolen glances and the note stuffed in his pocket, he knew this wasn't some figment of his imagination. 


Once Lance parked his car in the apartment's parking lot, Keith looked over at him, a slight pink glowing on his cheeks and the tips of his ears. "You uh... want to come in for a bit?" 


"I can't, I've got work in an hour," Lance sighed. Keith's face fell. "But I should at least walk you to the door," Lance offered. 


Keith grinned, then stepped out of the car. Lance followed suit, then fell in step with Keith. Their hands brushed together, and cautiously, Lance wove his fingers through Keith's. He expected him to jerk away, but instead, Keith's grip tightened. They held hands as Keith unlocked the main door, up the stairs to the third floor, and as the came to a stop in front of Keith's door. 


"Well, this is my stop," Keith breathed, looking at Lance. 


Lance could feel his heart pounding against his ribs. He was holding hands with Keith and here they were, at Keith's doorstep, and Lance should really be saying goodbye, thanks for the coffee, but he couldn't. Keith was so beautiful standing there, his hand in Lance's, staring up at him with such peace. 


"I, I uh..." Lance swallowed thickly. "I should go?" 


"Yeah, yeah, you've got work, and I need to get my textbooks, and--" 


"Can I kiss you?" Lance blurted. He was mortified. You can't just say things like that! Sure, writing cute shit on a napkin and holding hands were one thing, but... Shit. Fuck. Lance fucked up again. 


"I... What?" Keith stammered, instantly letting go of Lance's hand. 


"I... Nevermind, I... it was stupid, I fucked up, I shou--" 


Lance tried to finished his sentence but lips were on his and they were warm and soft and nothing else mattered anymore. 


Lance melted. Keith started to pull away, his hands beginning to slide away from Lance's face, but Lance grabbed his waist and pulled him closer again. Their lips melded together easily, like fitting a key to a lock, and Lance soon forgot where he stopped and Keith started. There were only touches and hums and stolen breaths. When they pulled away, their faces were still close, their breath mingling in a space that was simultaneously too small and too large. 


"I really should go," Lance whispered. 


"I know," Keith replied quietly, his thumbs brushing Lance's cheekbones. "Just... don't go M.I.A. like last time we kissed, okay?" 


Lance smiled. "I won't." 


He pressed his lips to Keith's one more time before finally gaining the self control to let Keith go and turn around toward his car, lips tingling.