Early sunlight streams through the blinds and curtains in Keith’s room, hitting Lance squarely in the eyes. He squints when he opens them, and screws his eyes shut again so he’s not blinded. He tries to turn over, only to find that somewhere in the middle of the night, Keith began spooning him.
Despite the sun in his face, Lance smiles, relaxes, and shuts his eyes again. Keith’s got his face pressed against the back of Lance’s neck, his arms around Lance’s chest, one leg hooked on top of both of Lance’s and the other lost somewhere among the blankets. Lance is at ease here, and almost forgets that it’s a Monday morning, and that regular decisions for Arus University have gone out.
Oh Dios mío—
Lance stretches as far as he can and swipes his phone off of the nightstand next to the bed, disabling the alarms so he doesn’t disturb Keith when he finds that they’ve got a good twenty minutes to kill before they need to get moving. He swipes through the various notifications he’s gotten just within the last hour, until his eyes land on the one they’re searching for.
1 New Email: email@example.com
Admissions Decisions Now Posted On Applicant Link
This, he can’t let Keith sleep through.
“Babe,” Lance says, and reaches for one of Keith’s hands. “Baby, wake up. Keith. Come on, Sleeping Beauty, open your eyes.”
Keith raises his head. Lance turns; Keith blinks blearily at him, and despite the anxiety trying to invade his system and force a shutdown, Lance smiles at the sight of his boyfriend and his bedhead.
“Buenos días,” Lance murmurs, and Keith slowly untangles himself from Lance, and props himself up on one arm, finally allowing Lance to face him fully.
“Morning,” Keith mumbles sleepily, eyes already drooping again.
He leans in, one hand seeking out Lance’s cheek, and Lance meets him halfway, like they’ve done it a thousand times. Their lips brush lightly, as Keith winds his other arm around the back of Lance’s neck and pulls him closer, and Lance braces his arms against the bed.
“Decisions are out, you know,” Lance says against Keith’s mouth, at some point, and Keith freezes, then draws back.
“Wha—oh shit, it’s the 19th,” Keith mutters, and tries to sit up. Lance moves off of him, until they’re side-by-side again.
Keith drags a hand through his mussed hair and shakes it out. “Hand me my phone?”
Lance grabs the red-cased phone with the alien popsocket from the nightstand and hands it off. Keith unlocks it, and opens the shortcut he’s saved to the Arus University applicant link.
“Have you looked yet?” Keith asks.
Lance purses his lips and shakes his head, and stares down at his own phone as the page loads on his screen.
“I’m...kinda afraid to,” Lance says quietly. “I...what if I didn’t get in?”
Keith frowns, eyes flitting from Lance’s face to his phone, and then to the phone in his own hand. Then he reaches for Lance’s phone, and gives Lance his.
“I’ll look for you, and you look for me,” Keith says. “We’ll look at the same time. Alright?”
Lance nods, gaze drifting toward the Admissions Status link on the page. He glances over, and sees Keith staring at the same link. Then he shifts his eyes down, to Keith’s hand. He takes it in his, and Keith laces their fingers together like he expected this.
“On the count of three,” Keith says, voice high.
“One,” Lance says.
A sharp inhale from both of them, and they breathe out the three at the same time and tap on the link.
The page loads at a normal speed, but this time, it feels like an eternity passes while Lance stares at the tiny spinning icon. Keith squeezes his hand out of nowhere, hard and fast, and Lance squeezes back while he scans over the words on the screen.
Dear Keith, Congratulations!
“Lance?” Keith asks tentatively.
“Keith,” Lance says, and his voice shakes, “you did it. Y-You—you got in.”
There was no doubt in Lance’s mind that Keith, class valedictorian, would have any trouble getting into their dream school. His stomach turns, waiting for Keith to inevitably break the bad news that he didn’t have the same luck.
But Keith gives one laugh, breathless, incredulous, and then says, “You did too.”
Lance’s voice cracks.
Keith nods, smiling with a brightness that could outshine the sun, eyes glistening with unshed tears, and thrusts Lance’s phone screen in his face. There, almost the same message that Lance just read off of Keith’s phone, with a different name attached:
Dear Lance, Congratulations!
Lance raises his eyes from the phone, and dammit, Keith is still wearing that smile. Lance mirrors it, hands trembling as he sets down Keith’s phone, and Keith sets down his.
“Holy shit,” Lance says, and then again, “holy shit.”
Keith takes Lance’s face in his hands, and Lance grasps Keith’s wrists. There’s a lump in his throat, one he can’t swallow back, but Keith speaks for him.
“We’re going to college,” Keith says, his voice wobbling, and the first tears break free. “Lance—we’re going to college. Together.”
And then he shouts it.
“We’re going to college!”
Lance isn’t quite sure who surges forward, just knows that their hug is fierce, both of them digging fingers into the other’s back, burying their faces in the other’s neck.
“We’re gonna be roommates,” Keith goes on, and Lance can’t help but add, “And they were roommates.”
That earns a choked laugh from Keith that quickly turns into a sob.
“Oh, nononono, don’t cry, you ass,” Lance says. “Keith, you’re gonna make me cry—”
“Comfort me, you dick,” Keith fires back.
So Lance does, cradling the back of Keith’s head, threading fingers through Keith’s hair, while Keith rubs Lance’s back.
“We’re going to college,” Lance repeats tearfully. “I’m going to college with my baby.”
“I had no doubt about it,” Keith says, and kisses the skin of Lance’s neck. “I knew you could.”
“Come on, you can kiss me better than that,” Lance laughs, and pulls back.
“You’re on,” Keith responds, and cradles Lance’s face. They mean to kiss each other hard, but it their kiss rapidly devolves into a sloppy mess of laughter and clacking teeth. Lance wraps his legs around Keith’s waist and rolls onto his back, and Keith squeals as they go down.
“We’re going to college! We’re going to college!”
Lance presses his forehead against Keith’s, arms tight around Keith’s neck. He can’t stop freaking smiling, and it’s damn contagious.
“Next step in our lives,” Keith breathes, “and we get to do it together.”
“And the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that. And one of those things better end in I do!” Lance declares. “I swear to God, I’m going to marry the shit out of you, Keith Kogane!”
Keith kisses Lance again, softer than before. Lance tries to help him, to form his mouth properly, but the smiles keep coming.
“You’re so happy,” Keith says, pulling back slightly. “This is amazing.”
He takes in Lance’s face; his eyes sparkling with joy, his mouth set in that perpetual grin, the slant of his eyebrows.
Lance laughs, and Keith’s heart misses a beat. “I’m so relieved, I’m excited, just...dude, we’re going to college together. I don’t have to spend the next four years trying to figure out my life by myself, I’m going with my boyfriend and my best friend and his girlfriend, and just...we’re going to college!”
Lance lets go of Keith and flops back, limbs sprawling out on the bed, while Keith rolls over and ends up next to him, the two of them staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars they stuck up on the ceiling over the summer.
The day is clear in Lance’s mind. They’d been dating for a year and a couple months, still entirely smitten with each other, screwing around in a craft store when they found the bag of stars. The buy was impulsive, but they both had a thing for space and astronomy and physics, Keith especially, and couldn’t say no.
That afternoon, the window was open, warm breeze blowing into the room as they balanced on Keith’s bed, and on his chair, and even on his desk and dresser, spreading the stars as far as they could. It was the same afternoon where they collapsed on the mattress side-by-side when they were finished. The same afternoon where they joked about engagement rings, neither of them aware that the other was only half-joking.
That August afternoon is still one of Lance’s favorites.
“Part of me feels like I’m still dreaming,” Lance says quietly, while Keith takes his hand. “Like, I’m gonna wake up and find out I got rejected.”
“Nope,” Keith says, and lifts Lance’s hand to his lips, and kisses the back of it softly. “This is real. We’re going to college together.”
Lance rubs his eyes with his free hand.
“This...dude, I gotta tell my mom. Let’s FaceTime her. Right now.”
Lance grabs his phone from where it lies on the blankets. He and Keith make no move to sit up—if anything, Keith scoots closer to him, and Lance holds the phone high above their heads as he calls his mother.
She picks up on the fourth ring, and despite how early it is, she appears to be wide awake.
“Buenos días, Mamá,” Lance greets, and Keith raises a hand and nods.
“Buenos días, mijos,” Mrs. McClain replies, and smiles warmly at the two of them. “Isn’t it a school morning, Lance?”
“Yeah,” Lance says, “but we’ve got something to tell you.”
“Oh! Keith, did he finally propose?”
Keith can’t help the laugh that comes out of him, much louder than Lance expected. Lance, meanwhile, chokes so violently that he goes into a coughing fit, and Keith has to take the phone out of his hand so he can get his act together.
“Mamá! No! Dios mío, ¿me estás tomando el pelo?” Lance shouts.
“I wish,” is what Keith says to Mrs. McClain with a conspiratorial grin while Lance isn’t looking.
“I heard that, Mullet!”
“So what is it?” Mrs. McClain asks.
Lance settles back into place and takes his phone from Keith, while Keith snuggles closer, head close enough to Lance’s that he can lean over and kiss his cheek.
Lance swallows thickly, and blinks a few times.
“We got into the Garrison school at Arus,” Lance says, voice two seconds away from cracking again. “Both of us.” Lance drops his voice. “I’m going to college, Mamá.”
“Mijo,” Mrs. McClain says, tears welling up in her own eyes. “Oh, mi Lancito, felicitaciones. Y tú, Keith.”
“Thanks, Mrs. McClain,” Keith says, while Lance nods.
“Gracias,” he whispers.
“I’m proud of you two,” Mrs. McClain says. “Now, go get ready for school. You can’t go to college if you don’t graduate first.”
Lance nods. “Adios, Mamá. Te quiero.”
“Te quiero, mijos.”
Mrs. McClain blows a kiss to Lance and Keith and ends the FaceTime call. Lance sets his phone down and scrubs a hand over his face, in an effort to wipe the tears away.
“Hey, c’mere,” Keith murmurs.
Lance turns over to face Keith, and Keith strokes Lance’s cheeks with the pads of his thumbs.
“I’m just so happy.” Lance’s voice breaks. Keith smiles at him, holding back fresh tears of his own.
“I know, Starboy, I know. But your mom was right, we’ve gotta get ready, or else we’re gonna be late.”
Keith rolls over and swings his legs over the side of the bed, but Lance takes a few more minutes to lie in place, laughing and sniffling, letting a few sobs free. Keith keeps an eye on Lance while he changes out of his pajamas and into a fresh t-shirt and dark jeans.
“Come on, Lance,” Keith says, and throws another of his t-shirts, and hits his mark—Lance’s face—dead-on. “We’ve still gotta break the news to Shiro.”
Lance finally sits up and stretches, and Keith covers his face as Lance’s t-shirt rides up.
“Do you have to do that?” Keith asks.
Lance responds by groaning, and then winking at Keith. Keith opens the door and steps out of his room.
“Yeah, I’ll just be brushing my teeth.”
“Hey, wait for me!” Lance says indignantly, and jumps out of bed, messily shrugging off his pajamas and yanking on a pair of his own jeans and Keith’s t-shirt.
Neither Keith nor Lance make it to the bathroom. Shiro shuffles down the hallway, clutching a coffee mug, and stops when he sees the two of them.
“Any particular reason I heard shouting this morning?” he asks, yawning, cup listing dangerously to the side.
Keith and Lance glance at each other, and Keith can already see Lance’s smiling lips trembling again. So Keith wraps an arm around Lance’s waist and pulls Lance against him.
“We both got into the Garrison school at Arus,” Keith announces proudly.
Shiro drops his mug, and Keith winces as the ceramic shatters, and coffee splashes all over the rug, a mess that someone will have to clean before Black, Shiro’s demon cat from hell (according to Keith), gets to it.
Shiro doesn’t seem to particularly care about the mess in that instant, though. He rushes forward and sweeps Keith and Lance into a giant hug.
“Congrats, you two,” Shiro says, while Lance and Keith each get an arm around him. “I’m proud.”
“Thanks, Shiro,” Keith says, and understands now why Lance couldn’t hold it together in front of his mom. His chest seizes, and he holds on tighter to Lance and Shiro and squeezes his eyes shut.
Keith’s not sure how long the three of them stand in the hallway before something rubs at Keith’s ankle. He draws back from the hug and looks down, and finds Black winding around his leg.
“Uh, someone should maybe clean the coffee,” Keith says. “And by someone, I mean not the two boys who are gonna be late for school if we don’t get going.”
Shiro nods and lets go of Lance and Keith. “I’ve got it covered. You two go on.”
He claps Lance on the back as Lance starts toward the bathroom. Keith lingers still, smile fading as Shiro stoops down to pick up the shards of his coffee mug. It takes a minute for Shiro to notice that Keith is still standing there, shifting back and forth on his feet.
“You’re gonna be late,” Shiro says.
“No we won’t,” Keith replies with a shake of his head. “Um. Can I—”
Keith pauses as Shiro rises to his feet, one hand dangerously cradling the shards of his mug. He puts his other hand on Keith’s shoulder, and meets Keith’s gaze.
“I already told you, don’t worry about the money. We’re going to make it work.”
Keith sighs. “I know, but—”
“No buts,” Shiro interrupts, smiling. “You’re a bright kid. You haven’t come this far to quit. Besides, you don’t even know how much you’re getting from Arus. You could end up with a full ride, for all we know. But even if you don’t, you’re going. You’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
Shiro glances over his shoulder, at the open bathroom door, where Lance’s humming filters out into the hallway. Then he looks knowingly back at Keith. Keith averts his gaze, down to the floor, and rubs his arm.
“I just don’t want to put more financial strain on you,” Keith says quietly.
“You won’t,” Shiro promises. “Don’t feel bad about this. You got into your top choice, and you get to go with Lance. Take the day to celebrate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go get the coffee out of the rug before it stains and before Black can get at it.”
Shiro pats Keith’s shoulder and starts to walk away.
“Shiro,” Keith calls after him.
Shiro stops long enough to look back. “Yeah?”
A smile passes between them, until Shiro waves him off. “Alright, go get ready. We’ve both got stuff to do.”
Keith nods once and continues on his way. He enters the bathroom, where Lance diligently brushes his teeth, and Keith knows he’s pretending like he didn’t hear the conversation in the hallway.
Keith should maybe brush his own teeth, but instead, he comes up behind Lance and wraps his arms around his waist, and buries his face in the back of Lance’s neck.
“You alright?” Lance asks through the toothpaste in his mouth, as he removes his toothbrush.
“Mmm,” Keith responds.
He stays there for more than a few minutes, and Lance never once asks him to leave as he gets through the rest of his morning routine. Every time he bends down to get something from the cabinets, or turns to get a towel, Keith moves with him. He doesn’t let go until Lance is done with his routine and stands at the counter, humming once more.
Keith’s routine is significantly shorter than Lance’s, and he’s done in less than half the time. Lance watches him the whole time, all smiles. Keith walks to him, rather than the door, and settles into his arms. They brush lips, once.
“We’re really gonna be able to do this every day next year,” Lance says. “It’s not just a hope anymore. It’s really happening.”
Keith lets himself imagine it. No more driving between houses and reluctant departures with a guilty, “I should probably go home now.” No more Keith’s room or Lance’s room, but instead, our room. No more anxious wakeups on a night alone. No more frantic texts and 3 AM sneakouts.
Everything in him yearns for it.
Everything in him yearns for nights spent studying, afternoons spent roasting teachers they may end up having together and telling wild stories of the ones they don’t. Time spent exploring the campus, hand-in-hand. Day trips to the nearby town. Mornings scrambling to make it to class because they overslept, again.
“Yeah,” Keith breathes. “It really is.”