Finding out that Lance is Deadpool is hard, and not just for the obvious reasons. The ones like, his boyfriend has been keeping a massive secret from him for three years. That, he can forgive. Has already forgiven—after all, he thought he was keeping a similar secret from Lance.
Turns out, Lance is more observant than Keith gives him credit for. He’s known about the spiderweb ziplining hobby since their second date.
No. God, Keith wishes that were the only problem.
Keith sits bolt upright on the couch, sweat staining his shirt and face even paler than usual. He’s breathing too hard, too fast, and he presses his fist to his mouth in an attempt to mute the noise. He would squeeze his eyes shut, but he’s worried the nightmare—the memory—will come surging back if he gives it half a chance. Instead he fists his hand in the too-soft blanket Hunk gave them as a housewarming present.
He knows he’s failed to silence his breathing when he hears soft shuffling from the bedroom, and then Lance is poking his head out and blinking slowly. There are dark circles under his eyes, and he swipes a hand across them as they search blearily for Keith.
“...Babe?” Lance says, and Keith hates the hesitant softness in his voice. Because Lance thinks he’s done something wrong, doesn’t know Keith has forgiven him, and Keith is too chickenshit to tell him what the real problem is. What’s really keeping him from joining Lance in their bedroom every night. “You all right?”
“Bad dream,” Keith says, and his voice is clipped. “I’m fine. You can… You can go back to bed.”
But now the apprehension on Lance’s face has bloomed, has been replaced by open concern, and he’s stepping further into the room. “Was it Venom, or…?”
Keith doesn’t say anything. Clamps his jaw so tight he hears his teeth creak.
Lance stills, one foot shifting back as though he’s considering retreating to the bedroom again. “You don’t have to tell me. I was just worried, I’ll--”
“It was you.”
This time Lance doesn’t just still, he freezes. No longer human, a stone carving of a man in his long blue robe. He stays like that for the space of a breath, then two, not quite looking at Keith. Then, “Oh.”
Suddenly Lance is in motion again, waving his hand as though he can fan away whatever words are about to come out of Keith’s mouth. “No, it’s fine, I-- I can see how that might happen. After everything, I mean. I betrayed your trust and I-- It’s okay Keith, I understand.” He smiles, and it’s a mask thicker than the red-and-black Keith is so used to seeing. “Talking to me probably won’t do much good in that case, so I’ll just...”
He’s backing away, one foot already through the door when Keith lurches unsteadily to his feet. “Don’t go,” he manages, pushing the words past aching teeth as his hand clutches the back of the couch for support he didn’t know he needed. “Please. It wasn’t what you think.”
Lance still looks as though he might bolt, but he moves slowly back into the room. Walks to the end of the couch opposite Keith. Sits. He watches Keith the whole time, like a man who isn’t sure if an animal is going to bolt or settle.
Keith does neither. Now that he’s standing he can’t seem to make himself fold back onto the couch. Instead he paces away a few steps, then moves closer again, uncertain of his own mooring. “It wasn’t what you think,” he says again. “It was. It was about the Angelface mission.”
Lance thinks for a moment, then nods. “I remember. She hypnotized you, right?”
Of course. Of course that’s the part Lance remembers. “Yeah.” He swallows. “And she shot Deadpool-- She shot you in the head.”
Lightly, like an afterthought, Lance’s fingers flutter up to touch the place just behind his jaw. The place where the bullet had pierced Deadpool’s mask. Keith feels his stomach lurch. “Yeah, I guess she did.” Lance glances up at Keith, waiting for him to continue. Like there must be something else, like that isn’t horrible enough to inspire a whole cavalcade of nightmares by itself.
But now that Keith has started, it’s difficult to stop. “And the guy with the chainsaw, Lumbermill. He-- Your side--”
Again, like a shadow, Lance’s fingers go to his ribs and then fall away.
“And that lunatic with the machete, he cut off your arm, and Janus slit your throat once, I saw it on the news, and Bearbaiter tore you open and--”
He’s talking too fast. His feet are carrying him in tight circles, and one hand is on his stomach to ease the mounting nausea. He’s about to keep going when he feels a hand rest firmly on his elbow.
He spins, and looks up into baffled blue eyes. Lance is standing there with a mixture of confusion and worry on his face and Keith wants to scream.
“Keith, is this what-- Were you dreaming about me getting hurt?”
Lance says it like it’s outlandish, ridiculous, bizarre. Keith almost chokes on his tongue. “Yes!” he barks. “Yes, god, of course! How can I not have nightmares about seeing my boyfriend get gored while I just-- While I just stood there and did nothing!”
“Well I think, for starters, usually you were fighting crime. So, that’s not nothing.”
“But I didn’t help you! I didn’t protect you, I saw you get shot and stabbed and I didn’t--”
“Because I heal, Keith. I regenerate. Getting hurt is kind of my only superpower.”
For a moment the nausea is so overpowering that Keith really thinks he might throw up. “That,” he manages, “Does not make it any better. You still feel it, you still--”
A memory surfaces, and Keith backs away so quickly his back slams into their bookcase.
“Shit,” Lance hisses, diving forward to rescue a picture Pidge took of them on their one-year anniversary. He sets it gingerly back on the shelf. “Keith, seriously, what--”
“I pushed you off a roof.”
Anyone who didn’t know Lance would have missed the tiny shudder that passes through him, then. The minute stutter in his oh-so-fluid movement. But Keith, Keith knows—thought he knew—every twitch and gesture in Lance’s arsenal. And he sees.
“...I don’t think so,” Lance lies, and Keith almost shakes him.
“Lance,” he says, his voice desperate. “Please!”
Lance’s eyes flicker up to meet his, and Keith sees him cave. “...Keith. You didn’t know. And I was being an ass--”
“You were being yourself! You were joking and teasing--”
“I was out of line--”
“So, what? So you deserved to fall ten stories? I didn’t even check to see if you were all right! I just walked away!”
“You knew about my powers, you didn’t have any reason to think I wouldn’t be fine.”
“And were you? You knew who I was, how could you possibly be fine with knowing your boyfriend had just pushed you off a roof!”
Lance is quiet for a moment, and Keith catches the way his eyes flicker to the picture on the shelf. The picture that was taken, Keith realizes now, the day after the should-have-been-fatal fall. And while Lance might have saved the glass in the frame from cracking, Keith watches as Lance cracks instead.
His face crumples, shoulders hunching as he wraps his arms around himself. “Keith,” he says, and his voice is small. “Keith, I know you wouldn’t-- I know--”
Keith lurches forward to catch him before his knees hit the carpet, easing them both down until they’re kneeling at the foot of the bookcase. Lance is trembling, not quite crying yet. Keith holds his elbows, wanting to pull Lance into his arms but unsure if he has the right. If it will help, or make things so much worse.
But Lance is trembling so much now that Keith worries he might shake apart, so he draws him close and wraps his arms around Lance’s narrow shoulders. Sweeps his thumbs mindlessly over the dark satin of Lance’s robe.
When Lance finally speaks, his voice is muffled by Keith’s shirt.
“I always thought,” he says haltingly, “That it would stop hurting. You know? That if I got hurt enough, sooner or later I just wouldn’t feel it anymore. But...” He trails off, and Keith’s hand flickers down to touch Lance’s lower back, feather-light, where he knows Bearbaiter tore into him. The blood and bone had seemed so… pedestrian, by then. Just a part of working with Deadpool. And afterward, he’d helped the other hero to his feet and Deadpool had-- Lance, had joked about needing to regrow part of his spine.
Part of his spine. Fuck. And how much worse had it been, after a ten-story fall? How many bones had he needed to regrow? How many damaged organs? Keith realized now that he’d made the same assumptions as Lance, that Deadpool was more or less numb to the pain of his injuries. How could he not be, the way he shrugged them off? The way he took machetes and bullets and hammers to the head and just kept coming?
But Keith has seen Lance in pain. Has seen him cut himself cooking, and stub his toes, and smack his head on cabinets. Has seen him bleed and swear and stumble to the freezer for ice packs. Lance feels everything, and feels it deeply.
Eventually, Lance stops shaking. His body is still tense, still stiff in Keith’s arms, but at least the trembling has eased. His face is pressed into Keith’s shoulder, the dampness against Keith’s neck betraying the handful of tears that managed to escape.
Keith knows now. And it seems suddenly, desperately important that Lance know something else.
“I will never,” Keith rasps, his voice barely a whisper against Lance’s cropped hair, “Hurt you again. I swear, Lance. God. If I could-- If there was anything I could--”
But then Lance is kissing him, hard, lips crushing against Keith’s and fingers curled tight in the front of his shirt. And when Keith opens his eyes Lance is staring up at him with so much trust in his eyes that Keith’s heart beats a bruise against his ribs.
“I know,” Lance says, and in the low light the tear tracks glow on his cheeks. “I know.”
Superheroes are famous for breaking promises. But this one, this one Keith knows he can keep.
"And if Wolverine ever punches you again," Keith adds with a dark growl, "I'm webbing his face until he suffocates."
"Babe," Lance says with a wet laugh, "Homicide is my thing."