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Post Cards from Port Aransas

Chapter Text

Lance hung his arm out the window of the 1967 El Camino, the vehicle’s bright aqua paint shimmering in the new morning light.

 

Old, from a different time period all together, something that came far before either one of the young souls it hosted in its’ leather seats. She had seen many miles, had many different hands on her steering wheel. She had many memories beneath her hood and spread out across her backseat. But the girl was a sealed envelope; she wouldn’t go spreading tales of her secrets.

 

She wasn’t the kind to kiss and tell.

 

The young man allowed his hand to cut the easy breeze, moving his palm across the air as it rushed through the open window. The sound of the tires on the highway intertwined with Allura's playlist that was soothing through the stereo speakers.

 

Something gentle, and slow. Neither one of them feeling the need for anything too upbeat just yet. The break of morning called for the easy melodies that just barely puffed against the eardrums.

 

Allura’s long cascade of white dyed hair was blown back gently by the wind, the locks being so casually teased.

 

She looked like something from a travel commercial on daytime television, the young woman clad in her cropped band t-shirt and her high waist shorts.

 

They were situated with two large fountain drinks safely tucked in the cup holders, and some gas station tacos, Allura still working on hers’ as she focused on the road.

 

She'd scoffed at Lance's simple bacon egg and cheese taco, scrutinizing it and saying that wasn't even worthy of being called a breakfast taco.

 

But Lance would defend the plain and simple choice of nourishment to his grave.

 

The day was already warm, even with the sun just barely having crept into the beautiful sky.

 

They had been up before it, racing the sunrise to make it out of the city before it really awoke. They were settled in for the long haul all the way from Dallas down to the warm, sleepy little ocean town of Port A. Allura's parents had a vacation home there that they had offered up to them. Which was either incredibly kind of them or incredibly stupid with the trouble Lance and Allura were notorious for getting themselves into.

 

The journey was a little exciting and a little bittersweet. Their last spring break in college. Their last long drive down to their favorite retreat for the week-long event together before they both entered the big new world outside the classroom walls.

 

Lance's gaze crossed that center console peering through dark aviator glasses.

 

He smiled wide and full of peevish nature.

 

"I hope that weird guy that gave you the love letter is there again this year." Lance teased and Allura made a gagging noise.

 

"Lance why would you even say that. Shut up dude!" She scoffed with a groan.

 

Lance just loved bringing that story up. Allura had kissed a guy at a bonfire their second night there and the dude had begged her for a date the rest of the week, even writing her a heartfelt letter. She had regretted that kiss quite a lot after that whole mess. Lance sneered.

 

It was a rarity for and Alpha and Omega to become so close without crossing any lines.

 

But Allura was different, a less sensitive Alpha as most her family was. She and Lance had grown up next door to each other. She'd known Lance since he was still eating grass out if the front lawn. They were inseparable. The thought of the next chapter in their lives brought an unsettling heat to Lance's chest. They'd gone to high school together. Then college. They'd roomed together. They still did. He wasn't quite sure how he was going to operate with her if they ended up with too many miles between them.

 

The novel they had been writing was about to have its’ pages turned and Lance didn't know how he felt with the looming threat of the new installation. There would be so many new words scrawled over blank pages. There would be change. He didn't want their story to alter. He liked the way it read as it was.

 

He sighed and leaned back against the seat.

 

The world was the author and it would do what it wished with them. They were but characters in the greatness of it all.

 

His marble orbs looked to Allura.

 

Maybe the next chapter didn't matter so much. They were still in the midst of typing this one, he shouldn't get so caught up in words not yet written.

 

Lance's legs were stiff and his ass was long since asleep by the time they pulled into the driveway of the vibrant, painted blue beach house. It was just a five minute walk from the ocean, sitting in a pristine little neighborhood full of brightly colored Easter egg houses. All yellow and blue and pink. All the lawns a stupidly vibrant green.

 

Lance always loved the change of scenery as they entered the town. Going from the bustling city, to the endless rows of crops, to the slow little community full of gift shops and seafood eateries. Almost every car had a surfboard strapped to the top and each driveway at least had some kind of boat or kayak settled there.

 

The house was like an old friend, welcoming him back, offering passages to old memories and the chance to make new ones. Stepping in the front door, smelling the coconut air freshener and pinesol, it was the same as every year he’d been here before...but yet it was different.

 

This was the last time...

 

The last time they would be here as carefree animals wild and untamed.

 

This was the last time his paws were free to hit the sand, to let go, to turn loose. After the spring graduation, they would be clutching degrees and scrambling to figure the world out.

 

He smiled and hauled his bags into his usual room upstairs. Allura always claimed the master bedroom on the first floor, and he wasn't about to argue. He dropped his luggage and hurried back outside to help Allura unload their boards.

 

She always chose a short board while Lance was a little more traditional in the sense that he preferred a longboard. A big heavy thing that his father had given him. Lance hefted his board out of the back of the old car and brought it in the front door, leaning the two things in the front hall.

 

"Matt just texted me and said there's a big party happening tonight down by Bob Hall!" Allura giggled as she floated through the living room, twirling to the fridge, which was stocked with all the necessary items to concoct a couple of mimosas.

 

Lance plopped himself down in one of the barstools and watched as Allura made them both drinks. She gracefully handed Lance his glass and he grinned.

 

"Why thank you my lovely lady" Lance smiled.

 

Allura giggled.

 

She clinked the rim of her glass against Lance's.

 

"Cheers. To one last hoorah." She smiled.

 

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

Lance tilted his head back, the stars were spilled salt across the endless clear sky. The stereo sound hummed in his ears while six beers warmed his gut. He was fading into the silky feeling of a drunken high, far passed buzzed, he let the night consume him. It dripped down over him like molasses, sweet and black.

 

Allura was next to him, dancing with beads around her slender neck, waterfalls of hair flowing as she moved barefoot across the sand.

 

The huddle of swaying bodies made the hot night just that much more tepid. They careened like shadows in the firelight, brought to life by the warm midnight air. There was the hum of conversation, shared drunken laughter, moonlight creatures crawling out of the sea to play along the shore. There were couples kissing in the dark, others having retreated to the back seats of vehicles as if it wasn't known what their intentions were.

 

Lance's skin prickled with sweat, adorned in nothing but his short swim trunks and an array of multicolored beads of his own around his neck. The clack of plastic was music in his eardrums. He was smiling so wide, laughing so hard, trying not to spill his freshly replenished solo cup full of some cheap beer that was filling the cooler in the back of Matt's truck.

 

Matt was their longtime friend who attended college at the Island University. They’d met their first spring break here, over a game of beer pong they’d lost miserably at. The three always re-connected when they came together like this. Just one more animal to join the pack.

 

There was a commotion behind them, the crowd egging on a kegstand, cheering and hollering into the night.

 

So many animals.

 

All of them howling at the moon and barking at the stars.

 

And then suddenly a wide body collided with Lance's, knocking his cup right out of his hands and into the sand.

 

Lance grimaced.

 

That was a new drink! What a fucking party foul.

 

Lance turned, balling up his fists, preparing to lay into whatever big idiot had crashed into him.

 

"Hey, watch it!!" Lance barked as he turned.

 

And then blue collided with storm cloud grey, glistening in the headlights from a truck passing them by on the sandy road just next to the dunes. Lance felt his stomach nearly drop right down to his bare toes.

 

The guy was beautiful.

 

In fact...Lance was pretty sure he'd never seen someone so attractive.

 

Jet black hair falling in a wispy sweep across his forehead, his eyes wide and a hint of flush across his cheeks. His jaw was strong, perfectly matching the rest of him. Built on a wide frame he was all muscle and with his shirtless state, Lance was allowed to roam his eyes all over him.

 

The young man stuttered, rubbing the back of his head, hurrying to snag the spilled cup up off the ground.

 

"Aw jeez I'm sorry." He rambled laughing a little.

 

Lance finally found his ability to speak.

 

"Oh uh it's ok... sorry I kind of snapped at you." Lance said quickly.

 

"I'll get you a new one. What were you drinking?" The guy said, seeming to relax a little, offering Lance a gentle, if not goofy, smile.

 

Lance snickered.

 

"I'll drink whatever you bring me, big guy." Lance grinned, his smile full of venom.

 

The other man cocked a lopsided, giddy little grin.

 

"I'm Shiro." The big man said and it was clear he was operating on a pretty heavy buzz himself.

 

"Lance."

 

"I like that." Shiro laughed.

 

“I mean, it’s a nice name...uh...congrats on the cool name…” Shiro babbled, realizing how weird it sounded to keep rambling about the other man’s name.

 

He was very drunk.

 

Very, very drunk.

 

Lance smiled wide, he supposed he would save the poor guy from his embarrassed muttering.

 

"Thanks. Now, don't you owe me a drink?" Lance said smoothly.

 

Shiro's mouth snapped closed.

 

“Oh, yeah. Right. Right!” He laughed sheepishly.

 

Shiro nodded and Lance followed him, the two men weaving through the spans of drunken bodies. Shiro hauled himself up into the tailbed of one of the trucks lining the sand and popped open an old beat up Wal-Mart brand cooler. He rummaged for a beer at the bottom, hissing at the cold as he yanked the beverage out and gently handed it to Lance.

 

Their fingers brushed as the exchange was made and Lance felt himself freeze, heart pounding like a big bass drum behind his ribs. He was certain it had to be louder than the music at this point. Shiro’s fingertips were so cold from his exploration into the ice water...but the interaction had set Lance's senses alight with fire. The other man seemed to stop for a moment too.

 

Lance dared look up, meeting those blustery day orbs, glistening with warm orange from the campfire behind Lance's back.

 

He dropped his eyes, trying to focus on literally anything but Shiro's intense stare. He settled on the left truck tire, that would do, and then shifted his attention to his new drink.

 

He cracked the tab with a little hiss.

 

Something about that beer just tasted so much better than anything he'd ever downed before. Like an entire expansion of heaven in an aluminum can.

 

Shiro clumsily jumped out of the tailbed, nearly stumbling, Lance reaching out an arm to steady him out of habit. The two paused, ending up nearly nose to nose, not breathing, not blinking just...stopping for a moment.

 

Their slow smiles were drunk and silly.

 

Even this drunk Lance could smell the guy was an Alpha.

 

His scent was sharp and heavy, laced with sweat and salt and sand and it was everything Lance could ever want out of some beautiful idiot he'd met on the beach at spring break.

 

Shiro looked like his next one night stand.

 

Or maybe weeklong stand.

 

Lance hadn't decided just yet.

 

_____________________________________________

 

Lance wasn't sure what time it was.

 

He'd lost track of Allura.

 

But none of that mattered.

 

The cool water licked at his slender legs, waves lapping at him gently, the moonlight reflecting in the calm ocean.

 

There were big hands around his waist; some of the beads that had hung around Lance's neck had ended up around Shiro's shoulders. Both of their throats ringed in all the colors of the rainbow.

 

Shiro's breath smelled stale and hoppy as it cascaded down Lance's neck, his bare chest pressed to Lance's back.

 

They danced sloppily to the music, captivated in each other's drunken giggles.

 

The tune tiptoed through them, droning down across the sandy shore and providing them with all the rhythm they needed.

 

Lance turned…and crashed his mouth into the Alpha.

 

He tasted like booze and bad choices and Lance was instantly drowning in an ocean that was composed of the other man.

 

He was a strong swimmer, but there was no keeping his head above water with this.

 

Shiro tugged him closer, hold insistent, the two wobbling a little.

 

Lance pushed into the kiss harder, hands buried in ebony hair, mouths easing against one another, teeth clacking when Shiro moved and Lance came forward, both coming apart laughing.

 

Shiro made to pick Lance up and spin him around but it just resulted in both men falling over into the salt water.

 

They were both laughing hysterically, wet, but still determined to kiss like they needed it to breathe.

 

"You want to come back to my place?" Lance slurred, sitting up in the shallow water.

 

The Alpha grinned wide, he was no longer just drunk on the shitty beer, he was hammered on the smell of the Omegas skin, the sound of his voice, the touch of his perfect hands.

 

"Yeah. Can we walk there...mm I can't drive." Shiro giggled stupidly.

 

Lance nodded.

 

"It's like five minutes away. C'mon." Lance insisted as he hauled himself up, trying to tug Shiro upward, the big man stumbling on unsteady legs, shuffling through the water and into the warm sand.

 

The white grains clung to Lance's ankles as he kicked through the pillow soft beach, Shiro’s fingers were tightly interlaced within Lance's with no intentions of letting go.

 

The dunes rolled out before them, bathed in moonlight, seagrass whispering with the gentle breeze.

 

Lance urged Shiro to the beginning of the street, feet slapping asphalt still warm from a day's worth of merciless sunshine.

 

"You're so pretty." Shiro babbled with a laugh.

 

Lance looked at his very drunk partner.

 

"I know." Lance laughed loudly.

 

They wandered in and out of the old street lights, stifling their giggles as they passed a group of other people heading in the opposite direction, only to burst out in more laughter once the moment had passed. Everything was just so light, so easy, so viciously...real.

 

Shiro yanked Lance toward him.

 

"Mmm I can't wait to have you hanging off my knot." Shiro huffed into the shell of Lance's ear.

 

Lance felt himself all but melt down onto the sidewalk.

 

"Oh don't be so eager, you better last long enough for me to enjoy myself. No five minutes and done kind of crap.” Lance smirked meanly.

 

Shiro rumbled out a deep laugh, ending in a hiccup.

 

"I mean you are fucking gorgeous can you blame me if I blow early?" Shiro muttered, slinging his arm across Lance's shoulders as they walked at a mismatched pace, stumbly and uncoordinated.

 

Lance searched through the garden as they got to the home, front porch light still on.

 

There were no signs of life in the structure though.

 

He supposed Allura was still out roaming.

 

Animals like them could easily have been considered nocturnal. Rarely seen once they'd taken flight into the evening.

 

He was sure there was an extra key under one of the many cement frog garden ornaments, but he just couldn't seem to find it in his drunken haze. The stupid frogs were mocking him with their cheeky little smiles.

 

He huffed in defeat.

 

They always kept the back window unlocked. That was looking like his best bet at this point.

 

Lance crunched through the plant life beneath the window, Shiro following loyally on his heels. The skinnier man shimmied into the window, tumbling to the wood ground, Shiro coming behind him just as clumsily.

 

Lance tried to pull him in for a kiss and only ended up head butting him there on the kitchen floor.

 

Shiro laughed and groaned pressing a palm to his forehead.

 

“Sorry, sorry." Lance hiccupped hissing.

 

“Don't worry, I'm hard headed.” Shiro teased with a snort.

 

Lance peeked his head into Allura's room, the bed was still made and the lights were off.

 

Perfect.

 

Then he wouldn't get his ear chewed off the next morning about being too loud.

 

The two men, still dripping with water, trailed little puddles over the hardwood as they teetered through the home.

 

Shiro shuffled his foot into the leg of a corner table in the living room and knocked the lamp right off its stand.

 

The crash caused both men to jump.

 

“Shit. Sorry.” Shiro snarled giving Lance a grimace.

 

Lance barked out a half hiccup, half laugh.

 

“Fuck it. Just leave it.” Lance sneered.

 

Shiro grinned sloppily.

 

“I'd rather fuck you.” He laughed.

 

Lance rolled his eyes. He hated to admit how stupidly charming the Alpha’s cheesy humor was.

 

Lance tugged Shiro's hand as they navigated the stairs, laughing far too loud.

 

As they made it to the bedroom Shiro grabbed Lance up, slamming him into the wall, kissing into Lance with a vicious hunger that had the Omega’s toes curling.

 

Shiro wasn't beating around the bush with what he wanted, his hands already tugging down the hem of Lance's swim trunks.

 

"You want my fucking cock?" Shiro snarled, mouth ravaging Lance's neck far too eagerly.

 

Lance nodded feverishly, clawing at Shiro's bare back, perfectly manicured nails drawing out a roadmap of pleasure along the pale skin.

 

He could hardly breathe as Shiro threw him on to the mattress, the lanky Omega bouncing slightly.

 

They were all elbows and teeth as they went at each other, smelling like the sea and alcohol, neither really in any shape to be delving into sex of any sort.

 

Shiro's arousal was outlined in his swim trunks, cock pressing against the still wet clothing.

 

Lance purred, pressing his sand covered foot against Shiro's thick erection, earning him a rough sound from his partner.

 

They should have rinsed their feet off, Lance would never get all the sand out of the sheets.

 

He struggled to rid himself of the sopping material, erection coming free, the Alpha growling low and deep.

 

Shiro wasted little time spreading Lance open, the Omega drunk and wanting, whimpering and moaning, body in desperate need of immediate attention.

 

Lance's eyes rolled, hips jerking backward as Shiro prepared him slowly, stretching him, working thick fingers into Lance's entrance, hiccupping into Lance's neck.

 

The Alpha’s heavy cock quickly replaced his fingers, Lance protesting the loss of his partner’s digits for the split second they were pulled from him.

 

Shiro stretched him wide, pressing in with clumsy hips and a loud, satisfied groan.

 

Lance was tight and beautiful, shimmering with sweat and sand. He smelled like coconut and sunscreen and everything Shiro had ever wanted.

 

He was perfect.

 

Fuck he was.

 

Shiro kissed the young man's chest, lips colliding with suntanned flesh over and over again.

 

His skin was the color of coffee mixed with just the right amount of creamer and it tasted so much sweeter. Tears collected in the corners of the Omega’s tragically beautiful baby blues, brought by the sheer pleasure he was being offered.

 

It was too fast and too hard, Shiro's teeth sank into his shoulder.

 

They were so sharp.

 

They felt disgustingly right.

 

The bed frame thumped against the wall behind them and Lance should have been worried about knocking dents into it...but he couldn't be bothered with that.

 

Shiro huffed stagnant, beer laced breath against Lance's lips, cock buried deep, Lance's slick oozing down onto the bed in lazy ribbons.

 

The space between his thighs was so fucking sloppy.

 

The sick squelch of liquid sounding between them, the wet slap of bodies, Shiro's bad case of the hiccups...it all came together in the strangest symphony to ever hit Lance's ears.

 

"Oh fuck I'm gunna...I'm gunna cum." Shiro grunted.

 

Lance wrapped his legs around Shiro's hips.

 

He wanted the Alpha’s thick knot.

 

Fuck, he wanted it so badly.

 

He paid no mind to the condoms that were still tucked in his luggage, right next to his toothpaste. He'd not even thought about making Shiro use one. Both boys were far too gone for that.

 

Lance wrapped his own fingers around his cock, stroking much too meanly, rocking into Shiro's thrusts, seconds from spilling his hot finish.

 

He screamed when he came, arching and bellowing Shiro's name.

 

It was the best thing to ever tumble over his lips. It was sweet and mean and fantastic.

 

Shiro chased his partners orgasm, shoving his cock in, pressing flush to Lance, shuddering as his knot inflated, finish painting Lance's insides warmly.

 

He ground his hips into every expulsion, riding the waves of his end. All he could see were stars behind his eyelids, bursting like fireworks against a dark sky.

 

The two panted into the tepid air, hard, over and over again.

 

Shiro brushed his fingers through Lance's sweaty, caramel locks.

 

All the motion, all the beers, all the...everything, it had Lance's gut dancing. His body was done with the entire night and every last one of his bad choices.

 

He felt his stomach churn.

 

Oh no.

 

Before he could have a prayer of stopping it, he turned sideways and puked onto the sheets.

 

Lance shivered and huffed.

 

He'd never been so goddamned embarrassed.

 

He was suddenly that drunk guy who'd puked while Shiro was still tightly stuffed inside of him.

 

And yet...Shiro didn't seem phased.

 

"Shit...shit I'm sorry." Lance sobbed.

 

Shiro only chuckled and very gently lifted Lance up, unable to disconnect from him just yet, his knot tying them tightly together.

 

"Don't worry. I'm a nursing student. I've been puked on more times than I can count." Shiro hiccupped, still far too drunk for all of this.

 

"I'm gunna take you to the shower." Shiro said looking to Lance kindly.

 

Lance nodded in embarrassment.

Chapter Text

Lance's eyes rolled open.

 

His mouth was so fucking dry.

 

Everything hurt.

 

His head was pounding.

 

He groaned and curled in on himself. He was instantly aware he wasn't in bed. He had slept on the familiar couch enough times to instantly recognize it.

 

He touched the blankets over him. He was cocooned with bedding and a pillow...it was quite a nice setup actually... But how did he get here?

 

Lance shot upward.

 

Way too fast and he instantly clutched his head in pain.

 

The guy he met at the beach…

 

Shiro.

 

Shiro laughing with him as they’d wandered, Shiro coming back to the house with him, Shiro pressing him into the mattress....Lance puking...it all came rushing back to him in one vivid tidal wave.

 

"Oh fuck." Lance groaned.

 

"Good morning princess." Came a sing song voice from across the room.

 

Lance's eyes darted over to the open kitchen, gaze falling on a grinning Allura.

 

And...and Shiro?

 

The two were huddled around the kitchen island, the marble-top decorated with bright yellow food wrappers, the smell of a freshly unwrapped Whataburger breakfast wafting through the air.

 

Lance’s cheeks deepened by about four shades of red.

 

Allura grinned wider.

 

"Sooooo your friend is really nice Lancey poo." Allura teased further.

 

Lance wished he'd just drop dead right there.

 

He had kind of hoped Shiro might have just left afterward. Save Lance the embarrassment maybe. That didn't seem to be the case. Of course he wouldn’t be spared like that.

 

Allura's grin was far too cheeky.

 

"You want some orange juice my hungover little drunky pants." Allura cooed shaking a little container of juice cheerily.

 

“And we got you some breakfast, if you promise not to puke it up on either one of us.” Allura snickered, Shiro joining in with her laughter.

 

Lance’s jaw slackened, looking to the two with absolute betrayal in his eyes.

 

Lance frowned.

 

Yes, yes he did want orange juice...and his stomach did feel incredibly empty.

 

Lance dragged himself off the furniture and grimaced at the two other parties in the room.

 

"I uh...hey..." Lance said sheepishly, looking at Shiro who looked way too chipper for how drunk he seemed last night.

 

Lance was increasingly annoyed with just how perfect the other man was, looking well rested and not a hair out of place...whereas Lance was pretty sure he looked like he’d dragged himself out of the gutter.

 

"Hey." Shiro laughed, sliding the beverage to the new company in the kitchen.

 

"I put all your bedding in the washer. Hope that's ok." Shiro shrugged.

 

Allura smirked and giggled.

 

"It would have been funnier if you had puked on him." Allura giggled.

 

“Well it seems like you two have had a lot to talk about this morning.” Lance grumbled as he deposited himself down heavily in the kitchen stool and dragged his breakfast toward him.

 

Shiro shrugged his shoulders up with an adorable little grin.

 

Fuck he was just as attractive the morning after.

 

Lance couldn't help but to laugh along with the other two in the room. His hangover was calmed just slightly by the presentation of food. He still felt like a drowned cat, but he was licking his wounds at least.

 

Allura was off to the races, telling some wild story of her nighttime activity and Shiro leaned on the countertop listening, though...his gaze was not trained on the young woman.

 

Shiro's eyes never strayed from Lance, following along with him, enamored with his every movement. His every breath.

 

Lance smiled shyly when their eyes caught, in the middle of Allura’s tale, Shiro not looking away.

 

The big man was something else entirely. Even more so now that he wasn't stumbling drunk. He was about to graduate with his nursing degree from UT. He was funny and charming and Lance found himself hanging on his every single word.

 

Lance was notorious for bringing home strays, he had a file folder full of one night stands to his name. They were casual, usually. But there was something in Shiro’s bright smile that had Lance tripping over his own two shoes. Lance was normally done with the entire interaction by sunrise. He was either slinking out of a stranger's bed, or kicking them out of his...wild animals weren’t meant to be kept captive.

 

And yet, here he was, begging to be tamed.

 

He wanted more of Shiro’s voice. More of his laugh. More of his big hand gently squeezing Lance’s thigh beneath the countertop.

 

He wanted more of that especially.

______________________________________________________________

 

Lance reached across the counter, taking the freshly scooped mint chocolate chip ice cream from the cheery, short little woman on the other side.

 

Shiro had insisted that rocky road was the better option but Lance stood by his loyal favorite.

 

The two retreated to the small patio outside the sun bleached little building, the sign faded, it’s colors once as bright as a new rainbow. But the weather had aged it gracefully, it was proof the establishment had been here for many years, serving cool sweets to plenty of customers. Lance had insisted this was the best ice cream place in town and Shiro hadn’t argued.

 

He didn’t really care if it was the best or the worst, as long as he got to spend the afternoon in Lance's company.

 

Lance plopped himself down in one of the old metal chairs, giggling as Shiro still tried to defend his choice in flavors. Shiro eyed the array of different sized chairs decorating the front, the two of them being the only ones on the small patio. The big man nodded toward the small plastic kiddie chair next to Lance.

 

“I bet I could fit in that.” Shiro giggled teasingly.

 

Lance snorted out a laugh.

 

“Your big ass? No way.” Lance smirked.

 

Shiro pouted playfully.

 

“You’re hurting my feelings, I’m not that big.” He grinned playfully.

 

“I’m gunna sit in it.” Shiro laughed.

 

Lance shook his head.

 

“Do not! Oh my gosh you are going to break that little chair!” Lance argued, laughing harder as Shiro defied his pleading and did his best to plant himself in the tiny blue chair.

 

The Alpha looked comical scrunched in the toy chair, like a giant hunched over the seat.

 

And suddenly...CRACK!!

 

The flimsy leg gave way and Shiro barely saved himself from tilting backward and most likely dumping his cone on the floor. Lance was in hysterics at that point, grabbing Shiro’s wrist and urging him to run.

 

“C’mon! C’mon! We’ve gotta leave the scene of the crime!!” Lance yelled as they took off down the street.

 

Lance could hardly catch his breath, his elbow hooked in Shiro’s laughing so hard his side hurt.

 

“You killed that poor chair.” Lance snickered wiping at his eye, trying to calm his wild giggle fit.

 

Shiro snorted, walking in time with Lance.

 

“Ok maybe I’m a little heavier than I thought.” Shiro admitted.

 

Lance paused at the corner of the intersection, his bare feet calloused enough to withstand even the summer heat that had soaked into the concrete. He turned his hand sideways, dragging his tongue up the side of the cone clutched in his hand, the frozen treat beginning to melt and run in slow little rivers, some traveling to the underside of his wrist and over his knuckles.

 

“That’s very attractive.” Shiro chuckled, indulging in his own ice cream, watching as Lance clumsily tried to catch the dripping sweet.

 

Lance shot him a deadpan expression.

 

“Shut up.” Lance huffed with a smile.

 

Lance lifted up on the tips of his toes to lean into the Alpha’s ear.

 

“You wouldn’t be making fun of me if it was your dick I was doing this to.” Lance sneered.

 

Shiro gave a defeated groan.

 

“Oh that’s just mean.” Shiro complained.

 

“You’re imagining it now aren’t you?” Lance sung as they waited for the light to change and the crosswalk sign to illuminate.

 

“Yes. Yes I am and you are not playing fair.” Shiro huffed.

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

Lance leaned back into the weather worn cushions of the old patio furniture.

 

Shiro’s fingers were warmly tangled in his own, his thumb tracing across the climb and dip of each one of Lance’s knuckles. The sound of the evening was a soundtrack Lance could listen to on repeat for all his days alive. The soft trickle of the pool jets, the low thrum of music from several streets over, the rustle of the palm fronds brushing against one another.

 

Allura had long since gone to bed. A day in the sun and the water was the world’s most pungent sleeping pill. Lance was fighting his own lethargy, not wanting to waste a moment such as this. The night was too perfect and he wasn’t ready to let go of it just yet.

 

Lance sat leaned against the other man. Shiro turned, resting his chin on Lance’s shoulder, the young man adorned in a soft shirt with faded letters printed on the back, the neck stretched out and mangled.

 

He looked gorgeous in just his boxers and the worn clothing.

 

Something birthed from the ocean waves and made to walk on land.

 

“So why nursing?” Lance asked suddenly.

 

Shiro smiled.

 

“I want to help people.” Shiro said simply.

 

Lance sighed.

 

“Please, stop being so perfect, it’s really getting ridiculous.” Lance chuckled.

 

Shiro kissed his cheek.

 

“I’ll try to tone it down a little.” Shiro assured.

 

___________________________________________________

 

Lance shuddered and braced his hands against the tile wall shakily.

 

“AH!! Ahh fuck Shiro!! H-hold on shift your hips that kinda hurts!” Lance huffed, letting his head sag just slightly, looking to his partner behind him.

 

Shiro’s palm spread out over the small of Lance’s back, gently adjusting his hips as he tried to hold his partner upright.

 

“Better?” Shiro asked lowly, eyes hooded as he pressed back up into the Omega.

 

Lance nodded.

 

The Omega gave a soft, desperate sound and twitched his hips backward into the Alpha. Lance grit his teeth as Shiro pumped into him, his legs shaking dangerously, threatening to go out at any second. The position was uncanny to say the very least.

 

Lance tried to adjust his footing, he really didn’t account for how slick the shower floor was.

 

“Shit!” Lance exclaimed.

 

Shiro did his best to grab Lance, trying to keep the young man from falling forward, only successfully causing the both of them to tumble backward.

 

Shiro saved Lance from the brunt of it, his ass taking the full force of the fall. Shiro grimaced and groaned.

 

“Jeez are you ok??” Lance asked turning to Shiro.

 

The Alpha nodded, one eye still scrunched closed in discomfort.

 

“Pretty sure I’m going to have a bruised ass cheek, but yeah I’m fine.” He laughed.

 

“Movies make this look so much easier.” Lance huffed as he sat across Shiro’s lap, the two still sitting on the floor.

 

Shiro chuckled.

 

“How about you just take a seat, we might be safer doing this on the floor.” Shiro giggled.

 

Lance kissed the Alpha hard and deep, smiling into the display of affection. Shiro allowed his head to thud back against the wall as Lance skillfully lifted his tragically beautiful hips and sunk down on Shiro's need. Lance gave him a sultry look from behind long lashes and Shiro was instantly captured in Lance's gravitational pull.

 

___________________________________________________________

 

Lance was falling.

 

He didn't have a parachute either.

 

He knew he would smack into the earth afterward but he couldn't stop himself from taking the leap. When he and Shiro sat in the water by the massive pier, waiting for a wave to catch, teetering like ducks on the gentle sway of the ocean... Lance fell harder. When they went to dinner at fins and Shiro stole shrimp off his plate...Lance fell some more. When Shiro fell asleep with his head on Lance's lap as they watched The Endless Summer...Lance was hopelessly plummeting.

 

Shiro had the softest smile, the most genuine laugh. The most gentle touch. He always opened doors for Lance. He kissed him softly behind the ear. Lance had never felt more young or more stupid or...more in love.

 

The end of the fall had to come eventually though.

 

The car sat all packed in the driveway.

 

Lance had kissed Shiro far too many times, not really wanting for any of them to be the last one.

 

They'd exchanged numbers.

 

Dallas wasn't that far from Austin. Shiro had already told Lance all the best spots to eat in Austin. He went on and on about how he would take Lance to each and every one of them. He smiled and spoke to Lance about how he'd show him the campus, he lived right next to it.

 

He promised he would visit as soon as he had a free weekend.

 

Lance buried his face in Shiro's shirt. He didn't want to look stupid, he didn't want to cry...but tears were threatening to fall.

 

They would see downtown Dallas. They would go to the art museums. Lance would take him to the Dallas Zoo. Shiro liked that idea the most.

 

Lance believed his every word. However stupid it was.

 

He kissed Shiro again, deep, so deep.

 

Shiro handed him a little bundle of cloth.

 

“Here, I think you’d look pretty good in burnt orange.” Shiro chuckled.

 

Lance held out the shirt, grinning at the bold printed letters across the front.

 

“Texas Nursing” the material read, with the signature longhorn beneath the text.

 

Lance snorted.

 

“You are making me into a UNT traitor.” Lance smiled.

 

Shiro nodded.

 

“I know. Just a little something to remind you of me.” Shiro smiled.

 

He leaned in to whisper softly to the Omega.

“And this way you can take me to bed with you every night.” Shiro teased.

 

Lance shoved the Alpha’s chest playfully.

 

Lance stopped.

 

The words sat lodged in the back of his throat. He wanted to let them loose. But he dared not.

 

How was one supposed to tell someone they had only known for a week...that they had fallen in love with them?

 

Lance didn't know where to begin. So he didn't.

 

Lance was quiet on the drive home, his mind wandering back to the beach town. To all the memories he'd left behind in the sand. He closed his eyes and Shiro's smile was there to greet him.

 

Allura's hand reaching across the seat to hold his woke Lance from his thoughts.

 

She smiled gently at the Omega.

 

"Don't worry. He will call. I mean did you see the way the guy looks at you? Like the sun shines out your ass." She teased lightly.

 

Lance snorted.

 

Yeah. She was right.

 

Allura looked at the GPS leaned on the dash and harrumphed.

 

"Traffic in Austin looks awful. Bet there was an accident or something. We will take the toll road. Stop looking so sad! If we stop for snacks will that make you feel better?" Allura laughed.

 

Lance nodded.

 

 

Chapter Text

Stepping back into their shared apartment was eerie. It wasn't the same. There was no Shiro here.

 

He'd become so used to Shiro spending every night with him that this felt...wrong.

 

Empty.

 

Lance unpacked. And checked his phone.

 

Nothing.

 

He tossed it onto the bed. He was sure Shiro was busy. But Lance had texted Shiro several times. He'd taken a goofy picture at the gas station with some heart sunglasses and sent it. Now he felt stupid for that as he sat with no reply to the dumb picture.

 

After his shower that night he checked his phone.

 

Nothing.

 

He put it on the charger and crawled onto his mattress.

 

It had been a long drive. Shiro probably went to bed early. Lance fed himself another excuse and closed his eyes.

 

The next day came and went.

 

Lance's phone never lit up with the one name he wanted more than anything to see. He tried to make up reasons. Reasons as to why Shiro wasn't answering. They'd connected. They'd....they'd fallen in love.

 

Lance had thought so anyway.

 

Maybe he was the only one...

 

A week went by. Two weeks went by.

 

And then three.

 

Nothing.

 

Lance was long passed trying to form excuses. He knew better than that. He was a spring break mistake...and that fact settled so hard in his stomach that it burned like hot grease.

 

He cried into his pillow, he cried and cried and cried.

 

Everything had been so perfect.

 

He wished it could have lasted forever. He missed the smell of the ocean. He missed Shiro telling him stories of his patients he'd had. He missed breakfast sitting with Shiro on the back patio. He missed Shiro trying to mimic seagull noises.

 

He cried and cried and cried.

 

Allura had choice words of course.

 

Fuck that guy he's a dumbass, He wasn't worth the tears. He didn't deserve Lance.

 

Lance knew she meant well but it didn't help.

 

Nothing helped.

 

He was just going through the motions.

 

Going to class but not really...being there.

 

Lance sat before the computer screen, the light too bright, it hurt his eyes to look at it anymore.

 

Suddenly there was the touch of a hand on his shoulder.

 

Lance startled, whirring in the direction the action had come from.

 

“Jeez didn’t mean to scare you man…” Hunk said in a hushed whisper.

 

Lance breathed out, shoulders falling.

 

His friend gave Lance a worried expression. He hadn’t really explained it all to Hunk, he’d just fed him small enough tidbits for the other man to not pry. Lance couldn’t handle telling the tale all over again.

 

“Lance...are you ok? You’ve been really out of it…” Hunk asked softly, his dark eyes glistening with concern.

 

Lance nodded.

 

He looked up to his project.

 

It looked like shit. The blue background just reminded him of the ocean water, the stars in the typography just brought him back to those late evenings...everything reminded him of it. He’d left his heart back in Port Aransas, somewhere right along the side of the road and he was sure it had been run into the ground by truck tires by now.

 

Lance saved his work irritably and began gathering his things.

 

Class wasn’t over, but his professor was lenient and Lance couldn’t stand the silence of the Graphic design lab for another second.

 

“I’m fine.” Lance answered Hunk’s question quickly and tossed his bag over his shoulder.

 

There was a poster on the door, of a beach and in bold white writing it displayed some stupid motivational words.

 

“The choices we make, not the chances we take, make our destiny.”

 

Lance had made all the wrong choices, every last one of them.

 

What a load of bullshit.

 

Lance couldn’t will his legs fast enough, he passed other students quickly, trying not to meet eyes with them, he just wanted to disappear.

 

He shoved the bathroom door open, checking for feet beneath the stalls before he locked himself in the last one, only comforted by the fact that he was alone.

 

So very, very alone.

 

He kneeled downward, dumping his backpack onto the tile floor next to him and curled himself over his legs. The sobs wracked through him like an earthquake, opening the fresh wounds and he was bleeding all over the bathroom floor. His fingers buried in the material of his shorts, crippled by the weight of it all. The dark thing looming over him was ever so heavy. It clung to his back, big and ugly...sneering with rows and rows of pearly fangs.

 

Like a vulture that just couldn’t wait for him to die, it was already picking off pieces from him.

 

There wouldn’t be anything left soon.

 

Lance sucked in a raspy, broken breath, tears falling down on the skin of his kneecaps, rolling down slender legs.

 

The young man rummaged through the front pocket of his abandoned bag, pulling out his cellphone. He pressed the home button and the innocent little thing lit up in all its brilliance. He had a text from Allura; she was bringing home Chinese food tonight. There were notifications lining the top of his screen, from Instagram and Twitter, a few emails speckled in-between.

 

But that was it. That was all the phone ever had to offer.

 

He let go of a sharp sound, a defeated, ashamed sound that came from somewhere deep, deep down.

 

He was so stupid.

 

He hated that he couldn't stop checking his phone and he hated Shiro and his stupid voice and his stupid face and his stupid kisses and he hated him so much.

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

Lance hugged the toilet bowl miserably, his whole body wrenching hard, determined to rid itself of everything he’d eaten the night previous. He shuddered, sitting there still in his boxers and night shirt.

 

The burnt orange material hung down nearly to his knees.

 

The clothing was far too big, made for someone of much larger stature...because it wasn’t his.

 

It was Shiro’s.

 

It smelled like the Alpha still, like freshly cut wood...like earth and coffee.

 

It was stupid of him to even wear it. It only hurt more to do so, but he couldn’t stop his hands from taking it from his drawer every night and sliding it over his shoulders.

 

He hated himself so much.

 

He was utterly pathetic.

 

The Omega spit shakily and reached up to flush his mess down. This was the third time he’d been woken by his stomach turning itself inside out this week.

 

He blamed it on the heartbreak.

 

He was hurting, as was his body. The constant state of disarray had most likely left him vulnerable to whatever bugs were currently floating around the campus. He had run through the possibilities. Maybe it was the rec center food he’d downed between classes? Maybe it was the lettuce he’d left in the fridge a little too long?

 

Now he was sure it had to be the flu.

 

The young man brushed his teeth, ridding himself of the taste of vomit and dragged his sorry carcass back to his bedroom.

 

He called the university clinic and reluctantly made an appointment.

 

He couldn't handle this string of bad luck. He didn't deserve this. This...mess.

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

“When did you last have unprotected sex?” The doctor asked.

 

Lance felt like he could throw up again.

 

He sat on the table unmoving, his weight crinkling the butchers paper.

 

“Almost two months ago.” Lance whispered.

The doctor made an understanding noise.

 

Lance had given her a urine sample like she had asked.

 

She breathed in.

 

“It appears you are in fact pregnant.” She explained looking down at her clipboard.

 

Lance couldn’t look at her. His eyes were trained on the medical posters lining the walls, specifically the one that showed a diagram of fetus growth.

 

The doctor was an Alpha, Lance could smell her as soon as he’d walked into the room. She looked to Lance with kind, understanding eyes that had seen just about everything under the sun. She’d had students like Lance sit right where he was now, many times over. The hollow expression hung on his face told her everything she needed to know about the situation.

 

She wrote something down.

 

“Now, I want you to know that there are options. You don’t have to decide anything right away, but I have some pamphlets for you to look over. I want you to come back next month for an appointment.” She stated very softly.

 

Lance didn't answer.

 

What was there to say anyway?

 

He took the collection of glossy printed booklets from the doctor. She was saying more things to him but he couldn’t hear. He was so far underwater and she was talking down to him from the surface. He was drowning and he didn’t even care. Let the deep water have him.

 

The walk through the waiting room was the longest trek he’d ever taken. He felt like everyone occupying those little green office chairs suddenly knew just what had happened in that room. In his head they were whispering about him, sharing harsh words about the stupid little Omega who’d fallen in love with a man as transparent as a dream. He was never really real to begin with.

 

Lance shoved the doors open, he had to get away from that horrid place, he couldn’t stand the chill of the clinic or the smell of cleaning solutions a minute more. The warm day welcomed him into it, instantly soothing his skin with the balmy glow. He teetered down the concrete steps, clinging to the handrail with shaking fingers.

 

He could feel himself sinking down onto the last step but he couldn’t stop the descent.

 

He'd never felt more sick with himself as he sat there on the ground, the clinic to his back.

 

A couple of students passed him by, they looked to him like he was a crumpled piece of garbage left behind by some careless person. They didn’t dare speak to him.

 

He curled over himself, with a hole in his chest the size of the Grand canyon.

 

He knew, of course.

 

Who's it was.

 

He hadn't slept with anybody else around that time anyway.

 

There wasn't any way for him to make himself believe it could be anybody else's.

 

He dared to look down at the small pamphlets still in his fingers.

 

They were clustered with text about the stages of growth, of abortion, of therapy for young parents to be. He felt his chest tighten hard enough to wring the life right from him.

 

He shoved the pages into his backpack and buried his head in his hands.

 

With the sound of cheery little birds chirping and fluttering through the trees he fell to pieces.

 

________________________________________________________________

 

Lance sat on the edge of his bed.

 

His phone was pressed to his ear.

 

It rang. And rang. And rang.

 

And finally...finally there was the same voicemail Lance had listened to so many fucking times.

 

"It's Shiro! Sorry ya missed me, leave me a message!" Lance cringed at the sound of his voice.

 

It was soft and light and beautiful and Lance was just propelled right back into that bedroom, in the dark, when Shiro had kissed his neck and laughed as he told some ridiculous story to Lance.

 

Lance could feel the hot slide of tears down his cheeks.

 

Just once. Just for long enough to tell him, he wished the coward would fucking answer.

 

Just once.

 

This time Lance waited for the tone.

 

"Shiro. It's Lance...look...we need to talk. I....I... Just...just please answer ok." Lance whispered into the phone.

 

And hung up.

 

He couldn’t get the words to come forth. They burned in his stomach. If he said them, then suddenly everything became real and he couldn’t run from it anymore. He’d be trapped in his reality and all the parts that came along with it.

 

He had never felt so hollow.

 

He had to say it. He had to.

 

Lance walked a circle around the room, pressing his palm to his mouth, trying to stifle the defeated, woeful sounds trying to make their way through his teeth.

 

He called again.

 

He waited through the torture of Shiro’s voice.

 

“Shiro I’m pregnant.” He said, voice shaking and cracking.

 

Lance pressed the end call button and stood in the center of his small bedroom.

 

_________________________________________________________________

 

Lance counted the days.

 

Four.

 

Four days.

 

And that was his limit.

 

He called again. He listened to that fucking voicemail.

 

"Look you fucking coward, I don't give a shit if you want this or don't ok. I didn't ask for this either but I don't get to run from it!!!! I don't care if you don't want to be in my life or the kid’s life but at least have the decency to fucking talk to me!!!" Lance screamed into the phone.

 

Lance breathed into the silence, rough and ragged.

 

I don’t care if you don’t want to be in the kid’s life.

 

The sentence clawed through him. What had he even meant by that? He’d looked at the booklets the doctor had given him for days, reading and hiding them in his desk drawer to ensure Allura didn’t find them.

 

He would tell her, just not now. Not until he’d made a choice.

 

Maybe he’d already made it and just didn’t know it until that very second.

 

He very slowly pressed his palm to his stomach and breathed in deep.

 

He was so scared.

 

He was so angry.

 

He tossed his phone across the room with all his strength.

 

He slid down onto the floor, tears hot and body shaking.

 

It took him an hour to retrieve the little device.

 

The screen was cracked.

 

Just like his heart.

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

Lance sat on the couch next to Allura, there were leftovers from dinner spread across the coffee table, their favorite reality show droning in the Cuban man’s ears.

 

Allura smiled as she watched the show, still munching on the crust of her pizza.

 

Lance sucked in a breath.

 

“Allura…” Lance said suddenly.

 

She turned to him, offering her best friend her full attention.

 

“I’m pregnant.” Lance breathed, allowing the sentence to drop out of the air like a two ton piece of steel.

 

Allura grabbed the remote and clicked the television off immediately.

 

“Lance...what?” She hissed looking to him very sternly.

 

Lance pressed the pads of his thumbs together and looked to the floor.

 

“I found out a week ago.” He whispered.

 

Allura sucked in a soundless breath, gaze searching over the young man diligently as she allowed his words to soak down into her.

 

“Is it…his?” She whispered as she scooted closer to Lance, arms coming out for him without hesitation.

 

Lance nodded very slowly as the circle of Allura’s embrace wrapped around him tightly.

 

“Oh Lance, oh Lance I’m so, so sorry.” She soothed as her delicate fingers stroked through Lance’s unbrushed locks.

 

“I’m going to keep it...I think.” Lance said softly.

 

Allura nodded and turned Lance’s head to press their foreheads together.

 

“Then I’m right here with you every step of the way.” She said firmly.

 

Lance choked out a broken sob and slung his arms around the young woman.

Chapter Text

 "Lance I don't know if this is such a good idea." Allura tried to offer kindly.

 

It had been three months.

 

Enough time for Lance to watch his stomach grow just the slightest bit and the silence from Shiro to burn him all the way down.

 

He was just ashes left.

 

The remains of a structure engulfed in flames and charred down to the bones. Lance was just the ruins, the proof that there had once been something more.

 

He wasn't going to let him just disappear from this.

 

Lance would raise their baby all by himself and he at least wanted the satisfaction of confronting the fucking piece of shit. He wanted him to know how badly it hurt. It wasn’t healthy, to be so spiteful, but Lance didn’t care.

 

He'd researched.

 

He'd called and asked and dug until he'd come up with a little address that might or might not be Shiro's and nothing could keep him from this journey. He didn't know what was driving him anymore.

 

Hate. Heartbreak. Anger. Maybe all three.

 

Lance didn't answer for a long time.

 

"I have to Allura." Lance snarled.

 

Something wasn't allowing him to let go of this and so he would hold on for the ride...as nasty and awful as it was.

 

Allura sighed heavily. She knew there would be no talking Lance out of this.

 

“Do you want me to go with you?” She asked giving him a caring expression.

 

Lance shook his head.

 

He needed to do this alone. He wouldn’t subject Allura to this disaster.

 

Allura nodded and reached out to squeeze Lance’s hand gently.

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

Lance's fingers were white on the wheel.

 

He'd talked himself out of getting out of the vehicle several times over.

 

It was a nice townhome.

 

Lance could see the college campus from where he was parked. The big oak trees shaded him from the vicious sunrays.

 

There was a car in the driveway. A Subaru suv of some sort. The Crosstrek he thought? Maybe the Outback. He guessed it didn’t matter that much. Was that what he drove? It was a warm khaki color with dark rims. It looked like it hadn't been washed in far too long. Where had that car taken him lately? To class? Camping possibly? On dates with someone else.

 

Maybe there had always been a someone else and Lance was just the little something that had happened in a faraway place, in a beach city hours away.

 

Lance was a postcard from Port Aransas, about to show up in the other man's mailbox.

 

Lance spread wide fingers across the soft of his belly. He breathed in deep. He let the warmth spread up through him.

 

He had to do this. He had to know... he had to. He couldn't raise this baby not having done this.

 

"This is for you." Lance breathed.

 

Since when had he started talking to the thing? It was still a thing. A mistake. A memory he hadn't asked for. A reminder of how stupid he'd been. He hadn't quite allowed it to become a person in his head just yet. It was still just an idea.

 

Lance popped the door open and crossed the street.

 

The neighborhood was so quiet. For being in the heart of the city it seemed so...peaceful.

 

He approached the curb. The trashcan settled there was full to the brim, with boxes set out to the side. Was someone moving?

 

Lance pinched his brows together.

 

He crossed the lawn. He took note of its unkempt state. It needed desperately to be mowed and edged. His footsteps echoed across the little porch, one after the other, thunder in his heart and anger bubbling in his depths.

 

He hated him, he hated him, he hated him.

 

How dare he do this? Run while Lance was left trapped in the ridiculous situation.

 

He'd be crossing the fucking stage to get his hard earned Graphic Design degree with a goddamned baby bump beneath his graduation robe. He hated that image.

His thumb jabbed into the little doorbell hard and he heard the cheery chime dance through the home. There was a long, long pause before Lance was gifted with the sound of footsteps.

 

The doorknob turned and the old oak door came wide.

 

Lance felt his heart racing. He was warm with rage. He'd never been so mad in all his life. The screen pushed open with a loud screech of elderly springs and the man taking up the space of the threshold stared at him with hard, curious eyes.

 

Lance shook, standing there before him. Actually seeing him. Right there like some bad dream come back to haunt him.

 

Lance's eyes roamed the man's face. He had a scar across his nose. That wasn't there before. Part of him wanted to ask what had happened. Part of him didn't care. The delicate, pink scar tissue was nothing compared to the one scrawled across Lance’s heart.

 

He was looking at Lance the way someone might look at a stray dog that had come begging for food.

 

"Can I help you?" Shiro grunted.

 

The words were dry, barren like being left out in desert.

 

Everything in Lance snapped.

 

Like a pot boiled over he was running all over the stove and the kitchen floor and he was going to scald everything he touched.

 

"YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!!!" Lance screamed.

 

The sound didn't even feel like he'd made it. It was so loud and brave and mean.

 

The bigger man took a step back, eyebrows shooting up in shock.

 

Lance stormed toward him shoving his finger into Shiro's chest as hard as he could. The man stepped back.

 

"Dude what the fuck is wrong with you??" Shiro growled.

 

Lance let loose of a crazed laugh

 

"What's wrong with ME??? What's wrong with YOU?? I called. And called. And you just let me FUCKING ROT WITH THIS!!!" Lance hollered.

 

The tears were heavy and he wished he was strong enough not to cry. But he couldn't contain them...and so they rolled.

 

Shiro shook his head, stepping away from Lance.

 

Lance bullied him through the door, giving himself entrance. He figured Shiro at least owed him that if nothing more. The big man looked absolutely confused, dishearteningly so.

 

Lance felt sick.

 

There wasn't any remorse in Shiro's eyes. No recognition. No glimmer or spark when he looked at Lance. Lance felt like his insides were being raked out with a shovel and thrown on the floor at their feet.

 

"Did...did you not even listen to my messages?????" Lance bellowed.

 

His voice cracked with the high sobs.

 

The other man's mouth bobbed open and closed, Lance didn't let him gather the words.

 

"I’m not here to make you come back. I didn't come to ask you to be present in this. I just came...because I needed to do this for me." Lance hissed.

 

"I'm pregnant Shiro. I'm fucking pregnant. Now I'll just...I'll go. Since it's obvious you don't want me or this. I get it. Spring break mistake. I won't ask for support. I just wanted you to know." Lance breathed.

 

He felt deflated, with the words all thrown out there.

 

The other man froze at the sentences. He stumbled forward, gripping Lance's shoulders, eyes wide and terrified. They were wet with moisture having not yet fallen.

 

"What did you just call me?" He asked.

 

Lance was confused by the question. What fucking stupid game was he playing? Lance shoved his brows together.

 

"Shiro....?" Lance repeated.

 

The name brought sincere pain to the man's face and suddenly Lance was so very aware of the fact that something here was really, really wrong.

 

"Y-you’re...you’re pregnant? It's...it's Shiro's??" The man asked, his cheeks streaming with tears.

 

Lance wanted to pull away. This was a cruel joke. He didn't want to be a part of it anymore.

 

"This isn’t funny." Lance snarled yanking out of the man's grip.

 

His face dropped. He suddenly seemed to become aware of just how absurd the interaction seemed.

 

"I'm not Shiro. My name is Kuro. Shiro's...Shiro was...he's...my twin brother." The man stuttered.

 

Lance felt all the air leave him in one shallow breath.

 

"What?" Lance whispered.

 

Lance's eyes roamed the spans of Shiro's... Kuro's face.

 

They were identical. Save for the scar across his nose and a little more honey in his eyes. Lance was only then so aware that his scent wasn't the same. Just slightly off. He hadn't noticed it coming in the door. They stood there, staring at each other for a handful of moments. The air in the room heavy, both men looking tragically confused, scared to ask what came next.

 

Both had stories and neither really knew if they wanted to hear them.

 

"Where is he?" Lance finally blurted the words.

 

They dropped like marbles to the floor, rolling under all of the furniture and scattering away. Kuro tensed. He looked to Lance with eyes full of tears, the expression so pained and somehow so thankful. He watched Lance as if a miracle had walked in off the porch.

 

The man’s mouth was but a tight line.

 

He was trying so hard to will the words to come forth. Part of Lance didn't want to listen anymore. Part of him knew. Maybe all of him knew.

 

Kuro grit his teeth, wiping furiously at his eyes with the heel of his hand.

 

"He's...he's not here. Anymore." Kuro forced out, voice small and broken.

 

Lance was stone.

 

"Where...where is he? Where did he go?" Lance refused to let the sentence be what it was.

 

Shiro had run, or moved, he was in a different country, new city. That had to be it. Kuro shook his head.

 

"He's...gone. He...passed away. I'm...I'm so sorry." Kuro choked out.

 

Lance was hardly aware as his legs gave out and he sunk down onto the floor in a folded heap.

 

The words tore through him, entering his heart and shredding his innards as they made their exit out his back. Kuro's voice faded to white noise. He sounded like Shiro. He wasn't Shiro. Shiro was gone.

 

Lance stared down at his shaking palms. He hardly registered hands on him, the warm embrace of arms around him.

 

He couldn't feel.

 

Everything was so slow. Nothing was real. The room was spinning. He couldn't remember the day of the week. Everything just. Stopped.

____________________________________________________________________

 

Lance sat at the dining room table. It felt like a foreign island, surrounded by miles of waves and he was left abandoned there. His eyes traced across the lines of the wood, following them as they journeyed over the rectangular table.

 

He'd cried so much he just…couldn't anymore. And so he sat. Silent, thinking of how this must have been the table Shiro had sat at for many breakfast, lunches and dinners. Was he a good cook? Or would there have been many burned meals splayed out on the hardwood? The fact that Lance didn’t even know that just made his heart feel even more empty. He hadn’t really known Shiro at all. He’d only just brushed the very surface with the tips of his fingers.

 

He'd lived here, Lance had gathered.

 

This was Shiro's home. Lance wished he could have visited when it was warmer. Instead here he was in the wake of a great tragedy. Watching the pieces of a life he hardly knew flutter into the wind. He was just following the breadcrumb trail.

 

Kuro sat across the table from him, silent, fingers tapping the side of the glass of water set there. He'd offered Lance some. Lance had refused.

 

Lance’s throat was far too tight to even attempt to get anything down. He wasn’t thirsty, he wasn’t hungry...

 

"How many months?" Kuro whispered.

 

Lance didn't answer for a long time.

 

"Three." Lance said flatly.

 

The silence continued on, rolling out like a decorative rug.

 

"How...long has he been gone..." Lance dared to ask.

 

Kuro's eyes settled on Lance's face.

 

"Almost three months." He breathed.

 

Lance burst into more hot, unbridled tears, he didn’t know where they came from, he’d thought he’d had none left to give. These were different, coming from somewhere within him that had never been touched before now.

 

He'd thought Shiro had just left him. He could have dealt with him skipping out on him. He could have dealt with Shiro breaking his heart and never speaking to him again. He could have dealt with telling the story of the asshole that he’d fallen in love with over spring break.

 

But this...he couldn't deal with this.

 

All those nights he'd thought he'd just been a stupid kid and there had been nothing there. All those hours he’d spent lying awake chasing ghosts, reeling from the ache of a heart torn in two. All of that seemed to pale in comparison to this...

 

"I thought...I thought he'd just...regretted me. He never answered. I just..." Lance sobbed.

 

 Kuro laughed through his tears.

 

"Shiro? Not call someone back? No. Not Shiro. Not if he liked you. Trust me...he had every intention of tailing you like some love-struck idiot. He texted me. He told me about you. I just...I never expected to meet you..." Kuro sniffed.

 

"It's Lance...right?" Kuro asked and Lance hated the sound of his name said in that voice that was Shiro's but not.

 

His heart raced as the memories swam through his form. The sound of Shiro groaning his name through his teeth, their fingers laced together like silk ribbon. He remembered Shiro saying his name so soft and needy over and over again.

 

Lance leaned forward, cupping his fingers over his ears.

 

"It's not fair." Lance whispered.

 

Kuro looked down into his water, as if it might hold all the answers.

 

"A week wasn't long enough. It's not fair." Lance choked.

 

"I said such horrible things. And...and...he was gone the whole time. He's gone...." Lance yelled as he leaned his head into his hands.

 

Kuro was up out of his chair in mere seconds. His sneakers slapped the kitchen tile. Shiro's caring nature was reflected in the other man and it only made Lance's heart hurt more.

 

"You didn't know." Kuro soothed.

 

It didn’t matter that he didn’t know. He knew now. Shiro was gone and Lance was alone and it hurt worse than anything he’d prepared for on the drive down. Kuro’s arms were big and warm and Lance allowed himself to be pulled into them. He was too weak to try and protest. They felt like home and if he closed his eyes for just long enough...it was Shiro holding him so tightly.

 

“I’m sorry...I’m so sorry.” Lance wailed, clinging to Kuro.

 

He didn’t know who he was talking to really…

 

Maybe it was Kuro. Maybe it was Shiro. Maybe it was nobody in particular.

 

_________________________________________________________________

 

Kuro asked him if he wanted to stay. And so he did. In a house owned by a man he now realized he loved and he could never have. Kuro got them burgers but Lance couldn't eat.

 

The other man just seemed...thankful to have the company. To have someone. Someone who had known Shiro too. Loved Shiro too. Even if Lance's was for a much shorter amount of time.

 

Kuro had been boxing up Shiro's belongings, going through the home and cleaning it. Their mother couldn't do it. And so Kuro was here.

 

Lance sat on the couch where Kuro had made a bed for him. Kuro had offered the guest bedroom to him but Lance didn’t want that. The couch felt safer, less intrusive he supposed. The couch was close enough to the door that if he wanted to run he had easy access. Pieces of him just wanted to go in the middle of the night and leave everything behind. But he knew he couldn’t, not even if he tried.

 

The home held him in it’s palms and he couldn’t go...not just yet.

 

The young man’s face was bathed in light from the small screen of his phone. Kuro had said it was an accident, it had happened the day they had left Port Aransas. Lance had told himself not to pry further, but in the young, fragile hours of the morning, sitting in the dark, in the silence he couldn’t stop himself. The words were too heavy and too bold, the white page of the news site was assaulting to the eyes.

 

Three car crash involving one eighteen wheeler on I-37 near Austin leaves one dead and three injured…

 

Lance blinked rapidly; it didn’t feel real, reading the words. They were so barren, like bones, so void of life.

 

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene…

 

Lance exited out of the article. He couldn’t read it; his vision was blurry with tears anyway. Shiro had been all alone. A sharp cry ripped from Lance’s throat. He’d been alone and Lance hadn’t been there.

 

He hated the taste the article left on his tongue…talking of Shiro as if he was just another accident victim. He was so much more than that. He was kind and funny and...and he was the father of Lance’s child. He would never see their birth. He would never hold Lance again. He would never laugh into Lance’s neck again. They would never go to the Dallas Zoo.

 

Lance dropped his phone on the floor and didn’t pick it up.

 

He curled into his makeshift bedding, hand pressed to his stomach, the wracking sobs keeping him company once again.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

Lance stood in the middle of the highway.

 

His bare feet were flat on the asphalt.

 

He didn’t know why, but he was walking forward, passing by the motionless cars on either side of him. There were no drivers within the unmoving vehicles, no passengers...no people at all. Everything was so overwhelmingly silent.

 

He continued to walk, slow, steady, eyes focused forward.

 

Suddenly he was in the shadow of the eighteen wheeler, the mass of the trailer sideways across the road. There was a car crushed between the truck and the median. Or what looked like a car...it more resembled a crumpled piece of paper, metal mangled and curled. Lance couldn’t really make out what was once the front end.

 

There was blood on the pale concrete of the highway.

 

It was so red against the road. It set Lance’s heart to racing.

 

Someone was calling his name.

 

He couldn’t move.

 

His name grew louder, and louder.

 

Shiro was calling his name.

 

There was so much blood.

 

Lance reared off the couch, and tumbled to the floor, screaming and frantically searching around the room. He wasn’t on the highway anymore, but he still didn’t know where he was. This wasn’t familiar, he was so scared. The sound of quick footsteps came rushing down the hallway.

 

“Lance! Lance are you ok?”

 

Lance looked up from the floor, he was still settled firmly with one foot in his dreamscape and one foot in reality.

 

“Shiro?” Lance wailed looking to the new company in the room.

 

Kuro didn’t answer. He simply helped Lance up off the hardwood and gently lead him to the guest bedroom. The bigger man did not say a word as he tucked Lance into the sheets and stiffly laid down next to him.

 

In the morning he just felt tired.

 

Kuro was up before he was, leaving behind a wrinkled shape on the opposite side of the bed. Lance laid there for what he assumed was hours, even after he’d woken. He could hear the rustle of items, the shuffle of feet…

 

When he finally dragged himself from the bed, he and Kuro met in the hallway.

 

Kuro looked just as tired, his eyes ringed dark with lack of sleep.

 

Lance didn’t know why he continued to stay...but he did.

 

He sat on Shiro’s bedroom floor as Kuro rummaged through the evidence of a life that had existed but now was gone. Lance cradled the pictures plucked from the desk as Kuro handed them to him. Shiro was little in them. Small. And gentle. And new to the world. Lance's hand went to his stomach. Just like his...their...baby would be.

 

Kuro told him stories. Stories that made Lance laugh, stories that made him cry. Kuro offered lance a little window into a world he might have gotten to see had the universe not been so cruel.

 

"He would have been over the moon. Just so you know....about the baby. He always wanted to be a dad." Kuro laughed slightly as he sat down next to lance, handing him another photo album.

 

Lance looked to Kuro with big, watery eyes.

 

"I thought he would have been angry. We...were really drunk." Lance giggled sadly.

 

Kuro smiled.

 

"No. He would have been so happy. You would have never gotten rid of him." Kuro chuckled.

 

Lance huffed out a sad sigh. Lance stayed longer. He didn't remember how many days. It didn't really matter. Allura was worried. He sent her a text to let her know he was ok. He didn't have the energy to explain further.

 

The house stood empty. The pieces stored away in the back of Kuro's vehicle. The two men stood on the porch. There were words to be said but neither knew how to say them.

 

 "Look, I'm pretty sure Shiro is going to come back from the dead and kill me if I just let you go. I know...this is...weird and maybe too much right now. But. You aren't in this alone. I'm here. If you ever need me. And my mom...Lance my mom would love to meet you." Kuro whispered, outreaching a tender hand to grip Lance's.

 

Lance sucked in a sharp breath.

 

 "The guy her son had a spring break fling with and knocked up..." Lance said sadly.

 

 "I didn't even make it into the boyfriend arena." Lance said looking to the ground.

 

"We don't have to tell her that exactly. But. You are the man Shiro fell for. I know. I had to listen to him blabber about you. And you are carrying his baby and as far as I'm concerned you are a part of this family. If you want to be." Kuro said squeezing Lance’s palm.

 

Lance smiled, the action so small it could have been easily missed.

 

Chapter Text

Lance was numb as he pulled into his and Allura's shared home. He told her and they cried. They just came rolling down heavy and new and raw. She told him it would be ok. But those were just words people said to comfort one another. They were all just words. All of it. Nothing was ok. Everything was broken. Lance had gone in so angry and had come out so very broken.

 

He wished Shiro had just wanted nothing to do with him. Then at least Shiro would be alive. He'd be happy. He'd have graduated. He'd have helped so many people.

 

Lance buried his face in Allura's neck. He felt so robbed. Having found something and it being so new and beautiful and now it was gone.

 

It took Lance another month and a half to realize that no, Shiro wasn’t really gone...well…not completely.

 

The transition was slow. As Lance began to consider the life growing in his soft stomach as more than just...a far off thought. The little flutter of a heartbeat became a piece of Shiro. One of the last ones left for Lance to cling to. And slowly. Lance fell in love with that piece.

 

It was a boy. And Lance fell in love some more. Kuro and Allura had both come to find out with him. He felt. Happy. The doctor had congratulated him this time...he felt like that was appropriate.

 

His name would be August. Like Robert August. Only reminding Lance of the night he and Shiro had watched The Endless Summer and fallen asleep on the couch.

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

Lance had avoided this for far too long. He stood on the doorstep of his childhood home, wearing a simple t-shirt that did not do well to conceal his gained weight. That was ok. He was here because of that anyway. He’d avoided telling his mama and he felt increasingly guilty for that.

 

He knew his younger siblings would be at school and his father was at work. He’d timed it that way. He just needed his mama in that moment. He loved them all, but he just needed her for a small second. He needed here smile and her soft words...and her comfort.

 

He was so scared.

 

The door came open and Lance’s mother made a squeal of excitement as she threw her arms around her middle son. She rambled about how long it had been since he’d called and that she’d been worried. She ushered him inside and instantly Lance was met with the alluring scent of her home cooking.

 

Lance stood in the mouth of the kitchen.

 

“Baby, you look like you are eating healthier! I’m so proud, finally not so much skin and bones, I worry about your diet at that college. They don’t feed you poor things like they should.” She huffed as she took a container of tortillas off the countertop and offered it to Lance.

 

“They’re still warm.” She said with a smile.

Lance laughed and meandered over to where his mother stood fiddling over the stove like a buzzing bee.

 

He gently opened the old, worn tortilla warmer and brought the hearty thing to his lips.

 

He sighed.

 

“Mama, I have to tell you something.” Lance whispered.

 

She immediately stopped her fussing over the various pots and pans and looked to her son with beautiful coco eyes.

 

Lance looked down to his stomach, a palm resting there. He drew in a deep breath.

 

“Mama, I’m pregnant.” Lance said with a small smile.

 

The older woman looked to Lance and then to his stomach, then back to his blue eyes.

 

“It’s a long story.” Lance said with a light laugh.

 

He and his mother sat on the living room couch, laughing as Lance explained how hard he’d fallen for Shiro, explaining all of his little quirks, how soft and caring he was. Lance went on and on about him, telling her how Shiro was a nursing student and how he loved to help people. He told her of what a kind soul he was.

 

Lance’s mother held his hand tight as Lance then went on to tell her how Shiro had passed away, taken too young and too sudden. She looked to him with glassy eyes, tears cutting her slightly wrinkled cheeks, the skin riddled with crows feet and laugh lines...the moisture catching there.

 

“Oh my baby. My baby.” She whispered as she stroked Lance’s hair.

 

They stayed that way for such a long time, Lance taking in the scent of her laundry detergent, feeling her warmth. He’d been away from home for far too long.

 

“I don’t know what I’m doing mama.” Lance whispered shakily.

 

She wiped at her eyes and gave Lance a smile.

 

“Nobody really does, baby. That’s half the beauty of it.” She reassured.

 _____________________________________________________________________________

 

The lights bore down on him with a brightness that lit up every corner of his being. He hadn’t expected to be this nervous, but his heart refused to be calmed no-matter how he tried. Hunk stood next to him, their last names close enough for them to end up in line together and Lance was thankful to have his friend nearby.

 

He’d waited so long for this.

 

He’d worked so hard.

 

He was barely aware as his feet were put in motion, following the others in his graduating class as they rose from their seats and were ushered toward the stage. The announcer read the names one after another, the line inching just that much closer. Until Lance stood at the lip of the stage, watching as Hunk’s name was uttered and he proudly made his own walk.

 

Lance closed his eyes.

 

For a moment...just for a second...he could have sworn he heard Shiro’s voice. It was faint, sitting there behind Lance’s ear...soft and familiar.

 

Lance squeezed his lids tighter, he wanted to grasp onto the sound forever.

 

Lance breathed out, looking down to the slight pudge beneath his black robes. He smiled very gently.

 

It was otherworldly as his feet met with the dark wood stage. He gripped the little cardboard tube tightly, smiling at the dean, shaking his hand. Lance could hear the faroff yells and hollering from his entire family and he giggled, looking up to them and waving.

 

He’d made it.

 

__________________________________________________________________


He was six months along before he agreed to go with Kuro to meet his mom.

 

She was so fragile looking. With the softest eyes and the brightest smile. She hugged Lance and he never wanted her to let go. She pressed weathered palms against his stomach and felt the kick of a small foot and she cried soft tears that made Lance ache.

 

But she smiled so much that day. She talked of Shiro and Lance wanted to listen forever. He was falling deeper in love with the man he'd known for such a short second. He got to see his well lived life through the eyes of others. He wanted every detail every moment.

 

August came in the middle of the night. And Lance was pretty sure he'd never been in such pain. He was so tired when the small, crying child was placed in his arms, after hours of labor, little lungs protesting his entrance into the world. Lance hushed him softly.

 

He was wailing so hard his little body was shaking.

 

"Please don't cry. I'm here. I'm here." Lance hushed rocking the small infant.

 

And the little one had settled. Lance could have sworn he felt Shiro in that hospital room. Warm, gentle...happy. He was so happy. Lance sobbed softly as he cradled the last gift Shiro had left behind in this world.

______________________________________________________________

 

Lance stood by the passenger side door, waiting, watching as the bell rang and many tiny feet came out of the school building, teachers very carefully watching the little ones with hawks eyes.

 

Lance scanned the crowd, searching diligently. And then his gaze collided with those bright, grey eyes, the small boy gripping his bright red backpack, lighting up as he saw Lance.

 

"Daddy, daddy, daddy!" He hollered scampering towards Lance excitedly.

 

Lance leaned down to scoop the small boy up into his arms and spun him around.

 

"Hey buddy, soooo how was the first day?" Lance asked as he peppered the small child's face in kisses.

 

"Good. I like my teacher she's nice. And I made three friends." August declared proudly.

 

"That's my little champ. I'm glad you had a good day." Lance smiled as he strapped August into the backseat carefully.

 

The little one smiled. He had Shiro's smile. So bright. So genuine. So beautiful. Lance saw Shiro in the little one everyday. In his kind nature, in his little giggle. In his curious hands and silly faces.

 

Lance rounded to the driver’s side and put on their favorite radio station as he pulled away from the front of the school.

 

_____________________________________________________________

 

Lance marched down the hallway.

 

They were going to be cripplingly late for school.

 

August was forced to have Lance drive him to class after he'd gotten yet another ticket. And Lance had ripped those keys away.

 

Lance shoved the door open, only to get a holler of protest, the teenager scrambling to cover his nude form.

 

"Dad! Knock!!!" He bellowed and Lance rolled his eyes and closed the door.

 

"Ain't like it's nothing I haven't seen. I gave birth to you remember?" Lance huffed from the hallway.

 

"DAD!" August groaned.

 

"C'mon get some clothes on kiddo we are going to be seriously late." Lance grumbled.

 

Lance folded his arms.

 

"Your son is a pain in the ass Shiro." Lance muttered under his breath.

 

He hoped Shiro was listening.

 

The bedroom door opened and slammed closed. August giving Lance a deadpan expression. Lance pointed to the front door.

 

"Get going, buddy." Lance instructed.

 

The teenager looked even more like Shiro, big frame, steely eyes, ebony hair. Lance was a little jealous sometimes that about the only thing August had gotten from him was his attitude.

 

"I could have taken the bus." August argued.

 

Lance chuckled.

 

"Nope. That's not nearly embarrassing enough." Lance grinned as he grabbed his keys.

 

___________________________________________________________________

 

Lance sat at the kitchen table shoveling another forkful of the homemade spaghetti into his mouth. He looked across the dining room table to August, who was sitting cross legged in the chair, multitasking between eating and clacking away at his laptop.

 

“August…” Lance sighed.

 

The young man looked over at his father and gave a sheepish smile.

 

He was a mirror image of Shiro, in his senior year of highschool he was shedding his boyish charm and Lance wanted to slow it all down. It seemed like just yesterday he was taking that same little boy to kindergarten and helping him with coloring projects.

 

“I know, I know I’m almost done I promise.” August smiled.

 

Lance cocked an eyebrow.

 

“It’s for an application.” August reassured.

 

Lance smiled.

 

“Oh? Another college?” Lance questioned.

 

August nodded.

 

The teenager was silent for a long moment.

 

“I applied to the University of Texas.” August said looking to Lance.

 

Lance didn’t say anything, he looked at the young man with soft eyes, a little more aged and wise.

 

“I want to be a nurse. Like dad was going to be.” August continued.

 

Lance scooted his seat backward and came around the table. He wrapped his arms around his son and buried his face in his neck. August hugged him back with a small laugh.

 

“Aw c’mon Dad don’t cry.” He giggled.

 

Lance laughed, trying to choke back the giddy sobs.

_____________________________________________________________

 

Lance sat watching the stage. It felt like just yesterday that he was down there on that arena flooring, wearing robes of his own. How the years had flown, on silent beautiful wings.

 

His heart was so full of love as the announcer called out August's name. It seemed like Lance was still right there at their kitchen table where August had told him his career path. And now four years later, he'd done it.

 

Lance felt his heart swell. Lance smiled softly.

 

"We did good Shiro." He whispered to himself as he watched August cross the stage.

 

A stage Shiro had never gotten the chance to set foot on. In a way, it felt like August was finishing what his father had started.

 

Afterward Lance hugged August for so long, in his cap and gown, the day warm and bright.

 

"I'm so proud of you." Lance sobbed with a smile.

 

"You think dad's proud too?" August asked softly.

 

"Yeah. I know he is bud." Lance smiled.

 

_________________________________________________________________

 

All Lance knew is that he was tired.

 

So so tired. His eyes were heavy, drifting in and out of a half sleep.

 

The monitor beep was a steady sound in the silence. He could feel August squeezing his withered, frail hand. It didn't feel like his hand. Just something borrowed. All life was just lent anyway. And at some point everyone had to give it all back. Just a coat to wear for a while, eventually it had to be hung back in the hall closet.

 

His eyes opened just slightly, taking in August's bleary eyes, his cheeks wet.

 

"Dad...you remember that first time you took me to the beach?" August asked softly.

 

Lance smiled tiredly, wrinkled face breaking in the soft expression.

 

"Of course." Lance rasped.

 

"I was scared of the waves." August laughed.

 

Lance giggled, coughing slightly.

 

"But you talked me into going toward the water. I felt so brave with you there holding my hands. Like I could take on the world." August smiled shaking his head.

 

"Were you scared...when you found out you were having me?" August asked shakily.

 

Lance rubbed his thumb across his son's knuckles.

 

"I was. But...when I saw your little face for the first time. I knew I could do it." Lance laughed.

 

August sniffled and nodded.

 

"I love you so much Dad." August whispered.

 

"I love you too bud." Lance said softly voice so small and weak.