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Lion at my Side

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Keith sits in Kolivan’s office. It’s an orderly space, that feels too clean to be used. No personal items or photos sit on his boss’ desk, which makes Keith feel even more uneasy somehow. His new suit is ironed and his hair is brushed. Keith had received an email the previous afternoon to come in at 9am this morning promptly for a meeting, but the email failed to elaborate on why Kolivan wanted to see him. Whether this is a good meeting or a …. you-are-immediately-fired kind of meeting.

 

Keith has worked for the agency for two years now, working odd security jobs, extra muscle for events or additional eyes for those high profile clients. He first got the job thanks to Shiro putting in a good word for him, but Keith hopes that he has lived up to expectations. He’s never had a client complain about him. Paparazzi, sure, because he’s good at his job. Of course they complain because he blocks their shots… but that was a good thing? Right?

 

Keith’s knee bounces nervously and he fiddles with the button on his jacket’s cuff. Kolivan finally looks up from the file in front of him and clears his throat.

 

“Keith Kogane,” His voice is as low and commanding as ever.

“Sir!” Keith nods, a little too enthusiastically. In high stress situations like this, it’s easy for him to slip back into his military cadet persona. A defence mechanism that developed quickly after months of abuse at the academy. 

 

“Calm down, son.” Kolivan holds up a hand. He does not smile… but his expression looks fond. Keith relaxes. 

“You applied for a position here two years ago, and I took you on because one of our most skilled guards was your reference and practically begged me.”

“I remember.” Keith nods.

“I took a risk on you.”

Keith winces. He braces himself for the incoming storm. His fingers grip his armrest.

 

“And I am pleased to say that I do not regret it.”

“Sir?”

What? Keith keeps his taut posture, like a spring waiting to fly, but his face moves from composed to confused. 

“You have shown great promise and I am offering you a long-term, permanent contract with a dedicated client.” Kolivan folds his hands over on his desk, awaiting Keith’s answer. He watches the smaller boy blink back owlishly.

 

“E…excuse me?” Keith tries to process what his boss has just said. A permanent contract? Really?

“Do I need to repeat myself?” Kolivan asks with a deadpan expression.

“No! No… I’m just…” Keith squints. “I thought I wouldn’t be offered a contract until I had been here for at least five years?”

Kolivan shrugs.

“A client needed one. I think you’re up for it. Am I wrong?”

“No! No nononononono.” Keith beams. “So Is this… is this like Shiro’s contract with Allura?”

“Almost exactly the same. Yes.”

 

Keith’s chest clenches. He is thrilled. Thrilled to have proved himself in such a small amount of time. Thrilled to have honoured Shiro’s promise and faith in him. 

 

“I recommended you, and a few others, but the client specifically chose and approved of you. So now it’s just up to you to-“

“I accept!”

 

Kolivan exhales in a way that might be mistaken for a laugh. Keith is trying to remain professional, but his mouth keeps sliding into a dopey grin. Kolivan smirks. He slides a file across his desk.

“Brilliant. Well your first task will be to escort Lance McClain to his press conference tonight, and then I’ll send his schedule-“

“Wait!”

 

Kolivan arches an eyebrow.

 

“L-Lance McClain?”

“Yes. That’s your new client.”

 

Keith casts his eyes down at the file in front of him, and sure enough, Lance’s unmistakable tan skin and award-winning smile grins up at him. Keith’s stomach turns icy.

 

“Is there a problem?”

 

Yes. Huge. 

 

“Uhhhh isn’t uh…. isn’t Hunk assigned to Mr McClain?” Keith’s voice trembles.

“Hunk now doubles as a guard and tutor to the Holt siblings. He’s been moved to them permanently as Katie Holt has entered senior schooling and is focusing on applying for scholarships.”

“Oh.”

 

Curse Hunk and his big brain. 

 

“This is a great offer, Keith. Are you having second thoughts?”

 

Keith knows that this is a fantastic offer. With a client like Lance McClain, Keith will not just be attending occasional busy events, but will be involved in every facet of Lance’s life. Home security, chauffeur, publicity events, even just following him around to do his shopping. Lance McClain is the kind of famous client that bodyguards dream of. They get paid the most, have access to the coolest gadgets, and often get to travel with the client to exotic locations. Keith should be thrilled.

 

There’s just one problem.

 

Keith cannot stand Lance McClain. Ok sure, he didn’t know him super personally, but he had run into him and watched how he interacted with people at events enough to have formed some kind of an opinion on him. And that opinion is not favourable. Lance is loud and arrogant. He seemed to be almost a stereotype of the Hollywood playboy, with how he relentlessly flirted with every cute girl in the room, and his right arm was a revolving door of whatever flavour-of-the-month model he had decided to date. He was vapid and shallow. He made horrifically catchy pop-music, but had now launched into superstardom with a good collection of saccharine romantic comedies under his belt. He would even have a huge blockbuster action movie premiering in the next week.

 

Lance McClain was the most famous person Keith had ever seen.

 

And he hated him. 

 

“No, sir.” Keith swallows. 

“Good. I’ll need you to look over the contract and sign it asap. Shiro is in the office today. Go over Mr McClain’s schedule with him and listen to his recommendations. Remember, you have that press conference tonight.” Kolivan stands, signalling the end of the meeting. Keith rises and moves to the door.

“Baptism by fire?” Keith smirks.

“And this is one of Mr McClain’s slowest days.” Kolivan hums. The statement fills Keith with dread.

 

“I can’t…. fucking believe I got Lance.” Keith groans. Shiro hands over a steaming mug of coffee with a sympathetic smile.

“At least it’s not Lotor.”

 

And Keith has to agree. Alright, so this contract could be a lot worse.

 

“Alright, we need to plan these routes.” He sighs. Shiro punches Lance’s address into his map software and the two begin to discuss the best roads to take. 

 

 

Keith dresses in a clean suit for the evening and runs his fingers through his messy hair. He may dislike Lance McClain, but he still wants to make a good impression. If he does well on this contract, maybe he will be able to apply for a transfer? Or a promotion?

 

If he makes nice, Lance McClain would make an excellent reference. Keith smirks to himself as he imagines his praises falling from Lance’s self-centred lips. Keith loses himself in his fantasy as he drives past the expertly manicured lawns of Beverly Hills.

 

When Keith reaches Lance’s apartment building his good mood has vanished and left a cold feeling of anxiety in its place. His heart thrums manically in his chest. He walks up to the front door and examines his shoes one last time, before he raises a shaky hand to the buzzer. 

 

“Yeah?” A male, fuzzy voice comes through the intercom.

“Mr McClain? This-“

“Oh yeah! Come up!”

 

And Keith stares dumbly as the intercom shuts off and the door is unlocked. He squints in disbelief, testing the door. Sure enough it swings freely and he steps inside.

 

Panic: Gone. Annoyance: Increasing. His shoes clack on the marble floor of the lobby and he practically stabs the elevator button with his index finger. It begins to move to the top floor. The Penthouse. Of course. 

 

When the elevator doors ding and open, Keith has to admit that he is surprised at the sight of the Penthouse. It is large and picturesque, with beautiful fittings and expensive mouldings, but it is furnished…modestly? There are no fountains or opulent glass statues like he had been expecting. He walks past a casio piano, a solid wood dining room table and…. is that an IKEA bookshelf? 

 

Loud quick footsteps announce Lance’s arrival. He hurries from the kitchen into the entryway. He’s tucking his shirt into his ironed slacks, and there’s an easy smile playing on his lips. Keith does not usually get starstruck, and he’s not, of course he’s not. It’s not Lance’s fame that has Keith swallowing thickly. It’s how damn attractive he looks in person. 

 

“Sorry! I expected you to come through to the living area. Hi I’m-“

“Mr McClain,” Keith cuts him short with his clipped tone. “You are supposed to ask for visitor’s names and use your cameras to verify their identity before you buzz anyone into the building.”

Lance’s feet skid to a halt on the marble floor. He stands there staring at Keith with a slightly scandalised expression.

 

“I’m sorry, but it’s for your own safety. You should be more cautious.”

 

Lance slips into a curious grin. He crosses his arms over his chest and chuckles.

“So serious.”

 

Keith blinks. He then moves forward with his hand outstretched.

“Sorry about the unpleasantness, but it’s my job to keep you safe. I’m Keith Kogane, from Marmora security services.”

“Lance McClain.”

They shake hands and Keith lets himself relax. A small smile slides onto his lips. At the sight of his grin, Lance visibly perks up. He begins to roll his sleeves up to his elbows and laughs nervously. 

 

“Sorry, I’m running a bit late.”

“It’s alright we don’t have to be at the car for another…” Keith looks at his watch. “Two minutes. Can I assist you in any way?”

“No! No!” Lance scurries into the spacious lounge room. His socked feet cause him to slide clumsily around the place as he quickly shuffles around plush recliners and sofas.

“Just gotta find my shoes.” He moves behind the entertainment system and lets out a victorious “Hey!” before emerging on the other side, hopping on one foot and slipping a leather loafer onto the other. He stumbles into his shoes and jogs up to where Keith stands by the door. 

 

“Hang on,” Lance laughs as he pats his own ass and hips. He beams and shoots Keith a thumbs up. “Got everything.”

“Do you often forget your butt, Mr McClain?” Keith arches his eyebrow.

Lance turns to him, eyes wide and mouth a little slack. Keith worries that he may have overstepped some boundary. Surely that was in the file? Do not discuss your client’s ass? Do not sass your client at the first meeting?

 

But then Lance tosses back his head and laughs loudly. He claps Keith on the shoulder.

“No, no, but I forget my wallet and phone a lot.” His hand trails down Keith’s arm. “Now c’mon, we’re gonna be late.”

Keith smirks.

“We have 30 seconds Mr McClain.” But he follows and presses the down arrow on the elevator.

“You can just call me Lance.”

“Of course, Mr McClain.” Keith keeps his eyes forward, but he swears he sees Lance’s eyes narrow at him. 

 

 

They move into the black, Mercedes (it’s nice, but discreet) and Keith begins the drive to the hotel that the conference will be held at. He glances at his GPS occasionally and informs Lance that his phone has already been synced if he would like to play his own music. Lance hums in agreement, then plays some instrumental guitar music that has Keith a bit surprised. He was sure that Lance would play some pop song, or maybe even be arrogant enough to play his own music. Instead, Keith finds himself enjoying the soothing instrumental music and relaxes deeper into his leather seat.

 

“Mr McClain?” Keith looks into the rearview mirror to check on his client 30 minutes into the drive. Lance is lightly dozing, but easily roused.

“Sorry to disturb you, but I need to run over the agenda for this evening.”

“Ok. Go ahead.” Lance sleepily rubs his eyes. Keith nods.

 

“We will drive into the back entrance of the hotel, where we will be escorted by the event planner and security to the conference room where you will meet with the press. Hotel security will man all the entrances, but I will be just behind you on stage.” Keith takes a left turn. The highway turns into a residential area. 

“You will answer questions for one hour along with your manager. When the conference concludes we will be let out of the room before press, so that we have enough time to exit through the back entrance again.”

Keith turns onto a small road that goes past several strip malls and parks.

“Do you have any questions, sir?”

“Uhhh…” Lance looks out the window with concern. 

“Yeah. Where the hell are we? I don’t recognise this area.”

“I have planned your route to avoid any busy and traffic prone areas. It is unsafe for you to be recognised whilst travelling. And I would not want you to be disturbed.”

Lance leans back in his seat with a smug expression. He nods, looking pleased. 

“How professional of you, Mr Kogane.”

 

They arrive on schedule and Keith is happy to see events unfold exactly as he had reported they would. He parks at the rear of the hotel and they are quickly met by security personnel and a woman in a pencil skirt with a clipboard. They hurry them into the building, through several hallways until they reach the conference room, with Lance surrounded by several beefy guards the whole time. 

 

They are shown the stage, which Lance climbs onto with long strides. He reaches the top and is swept up by his manager, Coran, prattling excitedly about dos and do nots. He straightens Lance’s blazer collar and shows him to his seat. Keith assumes his position for the evening at the rear of the stage, looking pensively out into the auditorium which will soon be filled with nosy reporters. 

 

“Alright, and if anyone asks about his criminal records you don’t know anything!” Coran whispers.

“Whoa, Coran what? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Fantastic! Just like that! They’ll definitely believe…” Coran moves his eyes around the stage, his moustache twitching like a sixth sense is emanating from it. His eyes pass over Keith several times.

 

“Where’s Hunk?” He asks. Keith winces at the name.

“Oh uh, Hunk is now with Pidge full time.” Lance explains. Keith steps forward in preparation.

“This is my new bodyguard, Keith.” Lance introduces. Coran takes Keith’s outstretched hand with a smile. 

“Hi, Keith Kogane, I’ve worked under Takashi a few times.” He smiles. 

“Takashi?” Coran ponders. “Oh Shiro! Yes, yes, we love Shiro. Fine man he is. Tell him I say hello.”

“Of course.”

 

Keith steps back to his place as the woman with the clipboard hurries onto the stage. 

“We’re letting the press in now if that’s alright. Can we get you anything to drink?”

“Water please.” Lance smiles. 

The woman grins in reply before hurrying away.

 

Press soon begins to fill the room and a glass of water makes its way in front of Lance. Cameras flash and a buzz emerges from the audience. Coran clears his throat and introduces himself and how the evening will run. His distinctive accent pierces through the microphone. Hundreds of hands raise into the air as Coran begins to select ones to ask their questions.

 

Keith barely listens, too busy looking out into the audience at hands and faces, looking for any suspicious behaviour. At least that’s what he’s trying to do, but even he struggles not to focus on Lance and how he charms his audience. 

 

“Are you excited about your new movie coming out? It’s your first action movie, so how was that a different experience?” A reporter rushes to get her whole question out. 

“I’m very excited!” Lance laughs. “I’m always excited when I have a movie out, but I’m definitely a bit more nervous about this one. Because it is action, I worry that people will compare me to all the other amazing actors in that genre. There’s a big expectation.” He glances nervously down at his hands.

“But I had so much fun making this movie. The props department will tell you I had way too much fun pointing my blaster all around the place.” He chuckles and the audience laughs with him.

“They ended up having to confiscate it from me until I absolutely needed it for a scene!” He laments and the audience laughs harder.

 

Keith is impressed at how engrossed the reporters seem to be, especially since this press conference is just for Lance McClain. It’s not him and his co-stars, or him and several recording artists. It is just him. Which shows just how focussed the media is on him at this time.

 

“When is your next album out? Do you still want to do music?” Another reporter asks. Several people nod in agreement.

“Of course!” Lance exclaims. “Don’t worry, I will never abandon my music. I think after this movie though, I’m going to take a break for a little while, have a little holiday, then come back refreshed and ready to work on my next album.”

A rehearsed answer, Keith notes. 

 

“Lance you’ve had an eclectic dating history.”

Coran hones in on the reporter, ready to cancel this question at the slightest inappropriate comment.

“You’ve dated Nyma, Plaxum, is there a certain quality in a girl that you find attractive?”

 

Nyma! That was the name of the model Lance had dated for a good length of time. It had been on the tip of Keith’s tongue all day. She also flew under Keith’s radar at events, famous… but he wasn’t sure what for. She was statuesque, ethereally beautiful, and could murder a man with her collarbones. Her and Lance seemed like an extreme power couple. He was charming and handsome, she was beautiful and intimidating. What could go wrong?

 

Keith recognises the other name, Plaxum, immediately. He had even met her a few times. She was a young actress, just branching out after a few years of being considered a child actor. She had grown into a nice girl-next-door type, so of course she had fallen head over heels for Lance on the set of some cheesy romance movie. Keith remembers that one. Lance was like a stable boy or something? Anyway he wore a lot of tank tops and always had hay in his hair, and honestly he always felt bad for Plaxum. She never stood a chance. 

 

“Uh nice?” Lance serves his trademark grin. The reporters eat it up.

“Honestly, I just like girls who can have a real conversation with me. Who I think are kind and interesting. I don’t really have a type.”

“You’ve been seen a lot with Allura. Is there anything there?”

 

Keith tries hard not to snort. Allura is wildly out of Lance’s league, and he hopes he knows it. Allura, while extremely gorgeous, was also known for her humanitarian work and graduating from an Ivy League school. She is the heiress to one of the world’s largest companies, but has used her funds to open technical colleges for girls in troubled neighbourhoods and water purification sites in rural towns. She is untouchable and incredibly kind. No. No way in hell would she ever date Lance. 

 

“Oh uh,” Lance rapidly shakes his head. “Allura and I are good friends. That’s it.”

“Are you currently interested in anyone?”

“No.” Lance replies quickly.

“I think that’s enough questions about my boy’s romantic interests.” Coran interrupts, clapping Lance on the back. They both laugh, but the message to the reporters is clear: new topic please. 

 

“Mr McClain! There was a rumour that you disliked working with Lotor on your most recent film!”

A brash reporter states.

 

And for once… for one tiny moment… Keith sees Lance’s facade crack. It’s minuscule, but there is a flicker of distaste in his expression. Before he puts himself back together and laughs.

“What?!” He gasps. “Lotor just has a little cameo, I barely even saw him.” 

He crosses his arms and scrunches his eyebrows, visibly thinking. 

“Althooough…” He taps his chin. “I do know that he stole the last macaron at the catering table and I have never forgiven him for that” He drawls with a smirk. The reporters laugh and seem to buy it.

 

An expert play. 

 

The reporters ask several more inane questions before Coran wraps up the evening. Lance blows a kiss, waves, then stands. Keith flies protectively to his side and they make their way from the stage. More security personnel appear from the sides and flank them until they have safely reached their parked car. Keith opens the door for Lance who slides in with a grin. Keith thanks security for their efforts, then begins to pull out of the parking lot.

 

 

The drive back to Lance’s apartment is quiet. Lance closes his eyes and drifts off to the sound of rhythmic guitar music. When they arrive, they move quietly up to the penthouse. Keith pauses in the entryway. 

 

“Mr McClain, I’ll need to go over a few things with you. Where would be most comfortable for you?”

“Things?” Lance shirks off his blazer. “I guess the living room?”

 

Keith follows him into the living area and sits on the couch. He immediately begins rummaging around in his black shoulder bag. Lance sits next to him and kicks off his shoes. He rubs his face.

 

“Mr McClain, do you know what this is?” Keith holds out a very small, rectangular device, no bigger than a pack of gum. There’s a small button in the middle of it. Lance shakes his head. 

“This is a panic button. You need to keep this on you at all times. If you hit it, I will receive a direct message to your location and come and find you.”

Keith hands over the device. Lance turns it carefully over in his hands.

“Why can’t i just call you?”

“Because you might not have your phone on you. Or you may want to call for help more… discreetly.” 

“If I don’t have my phone on me, how would I have this?” 

“Use your imagination.” Keith drawls. He wears a serious expression, but he can see Lance begin to smirk.

“What are you implying, Keith?” He winks. Keith rolls his eyes, which just makes Lance laugh harder. 

 

He then sighs and sinks deeply into his leather couch. The cushions swallow his narrow hips. 

“Do press conferences tire you out?” Keith asks, his curiosity getting the better of him.

“They’re draining. I’m always terrified I’ll say the wrong thing.”

“Like that you hate Lotor?”

Lance’s eyes widen and he beams. He looks manic almost.

“FUCK. LOTOR.” He leans far forward and laughs. 

 

Keith finally crumbles and laughs with him. He tries to hide it behind his fist, but Lance catches him.

“So you can smile.” He grins triumphantly. “Do you share my opinion then?”

“It would be unprofessional of me to say.” Keith chuckles. He sighs, then begins to pack up his bag.

 

“I should leave you to your evening.” He stands. Lance does as well.

“Oh uh,” He steps forward. “Do you want to stay for a bit? We could hang out… play video games or something?”

The young man bounces from foot to foot and his hands flutter at his side. Keith eyes Lance skeptically, but his request seems genuine. His expression softens. He smiles gently. 

 

“Bodyguards are friendly, but never familiar, Mr McClain.” His voice is quiet. Lance leans back, sinking his hands into his pockets. He nods with understanding.

“I get it. At least let me walk you out.”

“Of course.” Keith politely nods.

 

They walk back into the entryway where Keith waits for the elevator. The doors soon ding and swing open.

“Goodnight Mr McClain.”

“Goodnight, Keith.”

 

Keith backs into the elevator. The doors start to slip closed. but for some reason Keith is shoving his arms between them, preventing himself from leaving just yet.

 

He’s just as surprised in himself as Lance seems to be. They stare at each other dumbly, Keith’s mouth moving silently. 

“S…sorry, and excuse me if this comes off as rude I was just…” The questions thrums from the back of his mind where it has lay in waiting all day and it is now rocketing towards the tip of his tongue. 

“Mr McClain, why did you approve of me as your new bodyguard?” He forces out. Lance blinks owlishly. Then playfully shrugs and smiles.

 

“You’re hot.”

“Wha-?” Keith gasps.

“You were the only bodyguard who worked with my image. I can’t be photographed next to any duds.”

 

And the doors close between the two as Keith is too shocked and horrified to move.

 

He rides the elevator down, and as he descends, his hatred rises. He finally emerges in the parking lot fuming. He aggressively throws open his car door and tosses his bag onto the passenger seat. He sits with a loud thud and slams the door shut.

 

“Idiot.” He hisses.

 

Of course he had been chosen for such a shallow reason. It had nothing to do with his skill set. Lance just wanted him as a prop, another accessory at his side.

 

Why had Keith honestly expected anything different?

 

 

Keith wakes up the next morning before the sun rise. He immediately opens his email where he retrieves Lance’s schedule for the day. He pours over it with a piping hot cup of coffee, unsweetened and dark. He is miffed to see that he will essentially be a personal assistant for the day, taking Lance shopping until the premier of his action movie that night. 

 

Premiers are difficult because of how close the public is allowed to get, but they can be fun and exciting. At least Keith will get the chance to work with several of his friends throughout the evening. 

 

Keith sighs and finishes his coffee before showering. He dresses in his standard black suit, then makes his way back to Lance’s apartment. 

 

 

Keith presses the buzzer and waits.

“Yeah?”

“Morning-“

“Come on up!”

 

Keith groans. He stomps through the lobby and punches the button in the elevator.

 

When the doors ding open, Lance is lazily walking towards Keith, eating a bowl of cereal.

 

“Hey-“

“Mr McClain, what did I tell you about checking the cameras before letting anyone in?” Keith lectures.

 

Lance chews once… twice… three times.

“Oops.” 

 

Keith rolls his eyes.

“Our appointment with your tailor is in an hour. We should leave soon. Will you be ready?”

“I’ll eat fast.” Lance nods and wolfs down the rest of his cereal. 

“Have a seat!” He yells back as he moves to the kitchen. “I’ve just gotta clean this up and get changed!”

 

Keith moves to the living room and waits patiently. Thankfully, he’s used to early mornings, but it still feels nice to have a moment of peace before he is launched into a full day of listening to Lance mouth off and schmooze other celebrities. He closes his eyes and leans back in the recliner, fingers folded over his chest.

 

“Should I leave you to your nap?” A soft voice fans over his face. Keith cracks open an eye to see Lance leering over him. He’s wearing a pair of fitted, worn, pale blue jeans and a knit tank top. There’s a scarf looped around his neck, and his slender wrists are decorated with a few beaded bracelets. Large sunglasses sit on the end of his nose.

 

“Is this you trying to look inconspicuous?” Keith smirks.

“No this is me trying to look hot.” Lance grins. “Is it working?”

“We should get going, sir.” Keith stands and makes his way to the elevator. A thrill rushes through him when he glances Lance’s pouting expression.

 

 

They arrive at the expensive menswear store, and Keith has to admit that he is intimidated. The entire space has been closed just for their visit, so Keith is left to gawk at the expansive range of luxury clothing. Racks filled with woven silks, wool and cashmere. Brands that Keith could only dream of touching cover entire walls. A crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and beautifully upholstered sofas collect in a viewing area around the change rooms. 

 

A man dressed entirely in velvet greets them when they enter, and moves about the shop excitedly. 

 

“Lance McClain! Perfectly on schedule! I will run and get your suit.” He calls over his shoulder.

 

He soon returns with a suit bag draped delicately over his arms. He hooks the hangar onto the door of a fitting room and unzips the bag, letting Lance examine the suit inside. It’s a dark navy colour, with narrow lapels and silver buttons. Lance coos over it and lets his fingers move over the fine fabric.

 

“You should try it on. Just to test the fit.” The shop assistant offers. Lance nods and takes the suit into a fitting room. It takes several minutes, and while Keith waits, he allows himself to inspect a jacket next to him. It’s black, but covered in floral embroidery. Beautiful, but too ostentatious for Keith’s style. His finger grazes the price tag.

 

He chokes on his own spit when he sees the ungodly large number. 

 

“How does it look?” Lance emerges from the fitting rooms pulling at the cuffs of his jacket. 

He looks…. excellent. Keith’s gay heart begrudgingly admits. The suit is tailored beautifully to his body, nipping in his narrow waist and making his legs look impossibly longer. His chest looks broad and it’s emphasised by the slim red and blue tie that hangs from his neck.

 

“Oh wonderful!” The sales assistant runs over and begins to smooth out the material along Lance’s chest and arms.

“Just like we discussed. Is it comfortable?”

“Yeah, seems to be.” Lance twists and turns to test his range of movement. He smiles and looks up towards where Keith waits.

“What do you think?”

 

Keith is surprised that Lance would want his opinion. But he regains his composure and nods towards the jewellery case.

“Do you have some matching cuff links already?”

“Ooooh.” Lance giddily skips over to the case. He presses his hands against the top glass and begins to scan over all the sparkling accessories. He’s immediately drawn to the silver cufflinks, which will match his suit’s buttons. Keith approaches and looks into the case.

 

Again he is floored by just how extravagant some of the accessories are. His eyes glaze over the Rolex watches and chunky rings before he joins Lance’s side. His gaze catches on a pair of silver cufflinks with a blue topaz inlay. He moves a bit closer.

 

“Something catch your eye?” Lance slides over.

“I just thought these were nice.” Keith taps above the cufflinks he's admiring. Lance hums in agreement.

“They match your eyes.” Keith notes. Out loud. Oops.

Lance sighs and leans forward on the case with a cocky grin.

“Do you spend a lot of time looking at my eyes, Keith?”

“I need to know in case I have to file a missing person’s report.” Keith states with a bored expression. It does nothing to falter Lance’s smile.

 

“Thomas, can I get these topaz cufflinks please?” Lance calls. The sales associate takes them out of the case and fastens them to Lance’s cuffs for him. He flashes his wrists with a pleased grin as they sparkle.

“Yes these will do nicely. Thank you.” He hands his wrist back over to Thomas, who removes the cufflinks, then places them in a velvet lined box.

 

Lance disappears back into the fitting room and emerges several minutes later back in his casual clothes. He hands his suit to Thomas, who begins to repack it into the bag for him. Lance moves over to several of the clothing racks and flips through several different suits. His fingers hesitate on a collection of deep charcoal jackets as he rubs the fabric between his fingers. He finds one that he likes the look of and holds it in front of himself. It’s another slim fit suit, with narrow lapels. It is a very dark grey, that almost looks black in shadow. Lance raises it to eye-level, smiles, then places it back on the rack. He continues to browse before he picks up a knee-length, black, overcoat with a giddy sparkle in his eyes.

 

“Sir, you have excellent taste, but I think those jackets you’re looking at might be a bit too big for you. Would you like me to find one of those coats in your size?” Thomas emerges after carefully hanging Lance’s suit on the fitting room door.

“Oh!” Lance bashfully turns back to the coat in his hands. “No, no, I wasn’t looking for myself. This is for him.”

And Lance cocks his head in Keith’s direction.

 

Keith actually looks behind himself. Surely Lance can’t mean him. And yet, no one else is there. He stares at Lance in confusion, then hesitantly points at himself.

“Yes, Keith. Get over here.” Lance tosses the coat onto Thomas as he begins to fully submerge himself in black suits. 

“S-Sir!” Keith rushes over. “I don’t need anything. I assure you my current uniform is just fine.” He rushes out in a hushed tone, desperate to get Lance to stop. Lance scoffs.

“Thomas,” He rolls his eyes along with the sales associate who seems to be in on some inside joke. Thomas reaches out and rubs Keith’s shoulder between his fingers. He grimaces.

“Ugh, polyester.”

“It’s fine!” Keith reassures. 

“It’s cheap.”

Keith glares at Thomas who visibly tenses. He then moves to Lance’s other side and speaks quietly, so just the two of them hear.

 

“Mr McClain, I can’t afford any of the clothes here. I’m sorry if you don’t like what I’m currently wearing but-“

“Keith, I’m paying for your clothes obviously.” Lance waves off his concerns like they are insignificant.

 

Keith balks. Lance smirks over his shoulder as he hands several more suits onto Thomas’ outstretched arms. He then begins to march purposefully to the casual clothing section. Thomas stumbles behind him dutifully.

 

“Sir, I cannot possibly allow you to buy me anything. I can’t accept-“

“I’m sorry!” Lance slams down the collared shirt he had been looking at. He turns to Keith with a determined expression and his hands fly to his hips. 

“I’m a bit confused about our current standing. Are you not supposed to keep me happy? Am I not your boss?” Lance asks indignantly.

Keith stews silently. He knows he’s been backed into a corner. Lance knows he has him beat. He grins widely and grabs the suit on top of Thomas’ pile. He shoves it into Keith’s chest.

“And what would make me happy is if my bodyguard had some decent clothes.” His voice becomes quiet. The two men glare at each other for a heavy, uneasy moment.

 

“Brat,” Keith grabs the suit and sulks towards the fitting room. Lance claps loudly and follows him, skipping.

“Now sing out if you need any help.” He lifts onto his tip toes and cranes his neck over the fitting room door.

“Get out!”

He staggers back as Keith’s old jacket is thrown into his face.

 

Keith spends the next hour being dressed up like a doll. Whenever he’s made it through one pile, Thomas comes in with a brand new pile. He tries on suits, t-shirts, collared shirts, wool coats, jeans, silk trousers, even new shoes. And after every outfit he walks out of the fitting room and is met with Lance clapping and giggling excitedly to himself. He showers Keith with compliments and tosses the outfit onto the ‘definitely’, ‘maybe’ or ‘no thank you’ pile. 

 

Thomas chimes in with advice and is, of course, not missing a single opportunity to add on extra sales. 

“Oh sir, don’t you think he needs some brown shoes for this suit?”

“Of course! Every man needs brown shoes.”

This adds another five minutes to Keith’s torture.

 

Eventually Keith is down to what he is sure is his final outfit. It’s the first suit Lance initially picked out, a very dark grey wool blend with slim lapels. Keith slips into it and is surprised at how well it seems to fit. He has a hard time with suits because he’s skinny, but with broad shoulders and not very tall. But this suit hits his shoulders, wrists and feet in exactly the right places. It feels soft to touch and is pleasantly light. Keith actually smiles when he sees himself. There is still a trace of it when he steps out of the fitting room.

 

“Oh,” Lance’s eyes twinkle. 

“Oh we like this one.” He beams. There’s a playfulness in how his eyes crinkle with a smile. He ducks his head, trying to catch Keith’s downcast eyes.

“And I can tell you like it too.” 

Keith hates how heat rushes to his cheeks. He lets out a small puff of laughter.

“It’s very nice.” He admits.

“I’m glad you like it.” Lance’s eyes roam over Keith’s body. He’s fingers move to his waist and if his fingers graze Keith’s stomach as he checks the fit of the jacket, Keith doesn’t say anything. 

 

“We should get going. Your hair appointment is coming up.” Keith checks his watch. He had thrown a fit when Lance offered to buy him a new one, but Thomas had actually commented that Keith’s watch was very expensive and probably needed for his job. 

 

“Wear the checkered shirt with the brown suede coat! Oh! And the dark trousers!” Lance suggests.

“I don’t know if they’ll let me wear items out.” Keith hopefully offers.

“Oh no, sweetheart. You can wear it. It’s no problem.” Thomas insists.

Keith forces a smile.

“Oh good.”

 

He changes into the suggested outfit and meets Lance at the registers, who is poised to slice his credit card in the machine. Thomas is practically vibrating with every new item he scans. The numbers on the register jump higher and higher. Keith’s stomach sinks.

 

“Sir, if you’d like, I can organise with payroll to dock my pay check to pay you back-“

“What?” Lance gasps. “No, no I don’t want you to pay me back. Let me be my generous self!” He exclaims and he slices his card through the machine with a triumphant flourish. 

 

 

Keith feels sheepish and out of place somehow as he walks next to Lance McClain to a luxury spa down the road. He isn’t sure whether he should say thank you? When he had never wanted the new clothes in the first place? But it made Lance happy, so he supposes that it was worth it. 

 

They walk into the spa and Lance is greeted by his first name. He kisses the girl on the cheek, European style, and she leads them into a private room. Lance slips out of his shirt like he’s used to this routine. The room is dimly lit and smells heavily of mint, jasmine and salt. Ocean sounds play over a speaker and candles are lit in a corner. Keith sits awkwardly in a corner. He watches with some interest as Lance is given a facial. He’s surprisingly quiet through the whole process. His skin is lathered up with various different soaps, covered in masks and wrapped in towels. The cosmetologist compliments his skin frequently, but he just replies with a polite “Thank you”. 

 

The facial finally ends and they are shown into the salon. Lance is again passed from specialist to specialist as his hair is washed, scalp massaged, and finally his hair is cut. 

 

“You really should let me give you an undercut.” His stylist pouts. Lance laughs.

“Sorry. Studio says I can’t make too many drastic changes for a few years.”

His mouth twists into a smirk.

“But do you think you could do something about my bodyguard’s mullet?” He sighs.

“Don’t you even think about it.” Keith growls. Lance laughs loudly, which earns him a flick behind the ear by his hairdresser.

“No moving. I might cut you.”

 

 

When Lance is perfumed and blow dried, there is just enough time for Keith to drive them back to his apartment to get changed and meet Lance’s date. Keith pulls Lance’s new suit from the car, but Lance also has his arms full of Keith’s new clothes.

“You need to wear your new suit too!” He laughs.

 

They make their way into the apartment and Lance shows Keith into the guest room to get changed. Keith puts on the wool suit, the one he had been so fond of, and he hates how it makes him smile. Even if he has to wear it with overpriced, too-pointy shoes. 

 

Lance waits impatiently on the other side of the door. An expert in formal wear, he is already in his new suit, trimmed with the topaz cufflinks and red and blue striped tie. 

“Here I have the final touches.” Lance hands over a burgundy coloured tie. 

“Do you like red?”

“My favourite colour.” Keith shyly smiles. He slips the tie over his neck and ties it with deft fingers. Lance helps lay his collar flat.

“And last, but not least.” Lance hands over a dark box. Keith eyes him suspiciously at how familiar it looks. He pops it open to reveal slim, silver cufflinks, but with a black onyx inlay. Keith shakes his head.

“I don’t know how to put these on.” He sighs. 

“Oh! Here, then.” Lance takes the cufflinks from the box and threads them through Keith’s cuffs. His long, tan fingers are warm as they brush against Keith’s wrist. 

“There we are.” Lance sighs. Keith smirks at his gleaming wrists.

 

Lance smiles down on him with a fond expression. He places his hands on Keith’s shoulders and beams.

“So handsome.” His eyes linger on Keith’s chest as his hands move slowly down his arms. The contact lingers for slightly longer than Keith expects.

“I have fantastic taste.” Lance snaps out of his trance to shoot Keith a wink. Keith scoffs.

“C’mon, you know you look good.” Lance sings. He straightens Keith’s tie. “And it’s nice to see you finally smile”.

“Smiling isn’t my job.”

“I know, but i want you to like your job.” Lance bats his lashes. Despite himself, Keith chuckles.

“There we go.”

 

A sharp buzz rings out and Keith snaps to attention. His eyebrows lower into a serious scowl and he marches towards the entry way.

“Ah, back in professional mode.” Lance laments sadly behind him. 

Keith pulls up the security panel and presses the camera button. A live feed comes to life, showing the entry to the apartment building.

 

In grey footage, Keith recognises Shiro, standing up straight in his black suit and black tie, dark sunglasses making him look more intimidating than the softie he really is. Allura stands next to him, soft, long hair fastened into a tight bun and ringlets framing her face. Her slip dress cascades onto the ground at her feet. 

“Come up.” Keith speaks into the mic and lets them in.

 

He and Lance step away from the elevator to wait for their guests. Allura is the first one out, with a brilliant smile and long arms that sweep Lance into a tight embrace.

“Lance! It’s been too long!” They laugh. “Oh and this suit! It’s so nice, but you always look fantastic in a suit. I hate you. You make it look so easy.” She lightly slaps him on the arm.

“Allura, you are as radiant as ever. Love the dress.”

“Oh this old thing?” But she twirls all the same. “I’m wearing two pairs of Spanx so it better look good.”

“You really don’t need them.” Lance assures.

“Oh stop it, you’re always saying-“ 

 

Her bright eyes finally take in the other person in the room. Her smile lights up with mischief.

“Oh, Lance,” She stage whispers. “You haven’t introduced me to your friend.” She is quick to move over to Keith, who’s eyes widen with nervousness.

“He’s so handsome! Oh I love your tie, it works great with your complexion. You must be a model right? Your hair is so chic, very European music scene.” Her compliments come out with such rapid enthusiasm, that Keith can only blink in terror. She touches his shoulders and tie as she compliments each one.

“Allura, please stop pawing over my bodyguard.”

 

Allura’s face pales. She steps back and clears her throat. All the fun and frivolity in her voice has vanished as she takes on a more professional persona. 

“I’m so sorry, please excuse me.”

“It’s alright.” Keith breathes. Shiro is sniggering in the corner.

“I’m Allura D’Altea I hope… I hope I haven’t acted too inappropriately or made you feel uncomfortable.”

Keith takes her delicate hand. 

“Not at all. I’m Keith Kogane, Mr McClain’s new bodyguard.”

 

“Keith worked under me for several years at the agency, but he’s all grown up now.” Shiro finally makes his way over to the group.

“Oh how lovely.” Allura softens. “But I hate to ask…. have you replaced Hunk then?”

“Ah Hunk has unfortunately been moved to be Matthew and Katie Holt’s full time guard and tutor. He’s particularly talented in advanced mathematics and sciences.” Keith explains, though he worries that Allura is disappointed to have lost a familiar face. He now wonders if Lance feels that way too. Had he been good friends with Hunk? 

 

Did Lance wish he could have his old guard back?

 

Keith pushes the negative thoughts away and plasters on his best professional smile. 

“Well that’s unfortunate, but it’s nice to meet you, Keith. Lance and I are good friends, so I hope we’ll see more of each other.” Allura smiles.

“Of course.”

“We should get going.” Shiro checks his watch. They all nod and pile into the elevator. It feels crowded when the doors close. 

 

“Now Lance,” Allura narrows her gaze on the younger man. “You have to promise me no after parties tonight.”

“Aw Allura, it’s only a party if I show up.”

“No!” She hits him with her clutch. “I have an early flight in the morning! I can’t be out all night eating carbs!”

“Fine, fine.” Lance bats her attacks away. “We’ll have an early night!”

“Good.”

 

 

Shiro drives the car this time. Keith sits next to him in the passenger seat, while Lance and Allura ride in the back. They chat pleasantly with each other, whilst Shiro and Keith speak in hushed tones. 

 

“Here’s your ear-piece. All the guys from the agency are on channel 3. We have several plants in the crowd to help keep an eye on things as well.” 

“Good.” Keith loops the earpiece around his cartilage, but doesn’t turn it on just yet. 

“I’ll hand the vehicle off to a valet when we arrive and we’ll have to escort our clients up the red carpet. Try to avoid getting in photographs.”

“Of course, Shiro. I’ve done this before.”

Shiro fondly smiles. 

“You’re right. I forget you’re not my little apprentice anymore.”

“I was never your apprentice.” Keith scoffs.

“You were in my heart,” And Shiro clutches at his chest. Keith ignores his dramatics.

 

“But I’m excited to see Pidge and Hunk again. It’ll be like the old gang, you know?” Keith hears Lance’s conversation drift up from the back of the car.

“Yeah it’ll be nice. Will Matt be there?”

“Oh yeah. I’m sure he will.”

“You know who else will be there?” Allura leans back in her seat. She raises her eyebrows with a curious smirk and crosses her legs. Lance shrugs.

“Lotor.” She answers. 

“Ugh, Jesus, fuck.” Lance groans. He rubs his face in annoyance. “Let’s hope we’re inside when he arrives.”

“I’m warning you so you don’t make a scene.”

“There won’t be a scene if he minds his business.” Lance scowls. He turns his body to glare out the window at the passing street lights.

 

Shiro and Keith exchange a glance. 

 

 

They arrive at the theatre and Keith is surprised at the chaos that greets them. Flashing lights, shouting voices and screaming fans. Keith slides his ear piece into the on position and winces at the pop. 

 

Lance opens the door for Allura like a proper gentleman, and the camera flashes increase. Shiro tosses the keys to the valet, before following behind Allura and Lance.

 

“Thace, Antok, are you in the crowd?” Keith speaks into his mic.

“I’m on your 3 o’clock.” Thace reports. Keith looks to his right and sees the familiar face in a sea of teenagers. He gives a little wave.

“Antok?” Shiro asks.

“Right in the thick of it.” A gruff voice comes through. Keith looks at the middle of the crowd. The burly man stands a full head above everyone, making him easy to spot. They lock eyes and nod.

 

Shiro and Keith, now feeling supported, begin to slowly follow their clients as they make their way up the red carpet. They wave at the fans and stop on their marks for photos. Occasionally, Lance will step forward to answer questions with his usual charm and charisma. Allura comes with him, but she knows that this is his night and is sure Lance has all the focus. She laughs at his jokes and politely steps to the side when people ask Lance for individual photos. 

 

“Nice suit by the way.” Shiro rumbles in Keith’s ear.

“God,”

“Can you ask Lance if he’ll be my sugar daddy too?”

“I will end you.”

Shirt’s laugh vibrates low in his chest.

 

Keith ignores him as he keeps his eyes peeled on the crowd. Eyes, hands, eyes, hands, eyes, hands. His gaze flits between the two points on everyone, looking for anything suspicious. 

 

“Pidgeon!”

Keith’s focus snaps to Lance as he yells out. But it’s a happy yell. He’s jogging towards a young girl, Katie Holt, with outstretched arms. They hug and laugh loudly as they collide. She’s wearing a tweed coat with an emerald green jumpsuit. It looks very adult on her small frame. Her brother stands just behind her, squeezing Allura’s arm with a smile and hello.

 

“How are you?! I’m so excited to see this thing.”

“You and me both. I might vomit.” 

“Stop. I have faith in this. It’s your action debut! Be excited!”

“Yeah, Lance, I’m always telling you you’re great.” A familiar voice booms. Lance follows the sound to a large man hanging back. His biceps strain against his black suit, but his smile is large and kind.

“Hunk! Buddy!” Lance leaps towards the other man. Hunk laughs and pulls him into a crushing hug.

“How are you? I miss you!” Lance is almost jogging on the spot with joy. 

“I’m good.” Hunk nods. 

“Hey, don’t you be stealing my bodyguard.” Pidge warns. She joins the duo at the rear of the carpet. Keith inches closer, not liking how far away Lance is getting from him. Not because he wants to eavesdrop. Definitely not. 

 

“She better be nice to you.” Lance ruffles Pidge’s hair. She pushes him off.

“The Holt’s are great. Don’t worry.” Hunk pulls Pidge away before she can kick Lance in the shins. 

“But how are you? Who did you end up getting? Do I know them?” Hunk asks. 

“Oh I got…” And Lance turns over his shoulder, looking past celebrities to find Keith just diagonal from him. Hunk follows his eye line to see.

“Oh man you got Keith! Keith!” And Hunk starts to wave. Keith decides that’s his cue to finally approach.

“Hi Hunk,” Keith smiles. Hunk grabs his arm.

“Yo dude, this guy is great!” Hunk points at Keith, like he’s trying to sell him to Lance for a second time.

“You’re so lucky! Keith is like a prodigy!”

“He’s doing alright.” Lance smiles. 

“How’s my boy treating you?” Hunk presses Keith into his side and speaks quietly. “Cuz if he’s been messing with you-“

“Hunk! I am a delight!”

“You’re also a pain in the ass!” Hunk quips back.

“He’s fine.” Keith wrestles himself away. “Mr McClain, I don’t mean to push you, but we should keep moving up. Your fans at the end will be disappointed if you have to rush past.”

“Oh yes, thank you, Keith.”

 

Keith moves forward, hoping Lance will follow him. Hunk must think he’s out of earshot.

“Whoa, he calls you Mr McClain?”

“Cute, right?”

Keith smiles. 

 

Lance does heed his advice though, and continues to walk down the carpet. Allura and the Holts stay close. He is close to the velvet ropes signing autographs when there is a fresh surge of excitement. Keith flicks his gaze over to the new arrival at the end of the carpet. 

 

A tall man emerges, with sharp features in a purple, velvet suit. His silver hair is tied in a high ponytail, but still falls to the middle of his back. He raises a manicured hand and waves. 

“Your favourite.” Shiro chuckles through the ear piece.

Lotor. The sight of him makes Keith’s stomach churn.

 

Lotor waves at the crowd and hits his first mark for photos. He begins to move towards the second, when he spies Allura further down the carpet. His eyes widen and he makes his way over to her with long strides. 

“Allura!” He calls pleasantly. Allura turns over her shoulder to see him. Her expression swiftly moves from confusion to friendly.

“Lotor, hello. How are you?”

“I’m good, good, better now.” He laughs. Lance continues signing autographs, ignoring the other man. 

“Hey Keith, watch how close your boy is getting to the ropes.” Thace warns in his ear. 

“I’ve got it.” Keith moves closer, just in case. 

 

“Anyway, I was wondering if you’d like to sit with me in the theatre?” Lotor asks. 

“Dude,” Lance looks up from signing. “She’s literally my date.”

“Oh hey, Lance, I didn’t even see you there.” Lotor smiles coyly. “Is Allura here with you?”

“Yes.” Lance hisses. 

“Mmmm I don’t see it. Anyway-“

“Gah!”

 

Suddenly, Lance is yanked forward violently. Someone from the crowd has grabbed his wrist, but just as quickly, the hold on him vanishes. Keith is at his side, his hand swiftly disarming the young girl’s grip on Lance. He pulls him back as Thace rushes forward to keep the crowd at bay. Keith wraps his arm around Lance’s shoulders and holds him protectively. 

“Keith!” Shiro shouts in his ear.

“I’ve got him.”

 

“You’re spending too long by the ropes. I need you to hurry inside now. It’s making me nervous.” Keith moves Lance to the centre of the carpet.

“Right. Thanks.” Lance rubs his wrist sheepishly. There’s a red mark on it.

“Lance! Are you ok?” Pidge, Matt and Allura move to his side. Allura looks particularly worried. 

“Fine! But for safety let’s go ahead and move in.” He smiles. 

 

The group moves into the theatre, abandoning Lotor on the carpet. 

 

 

Lance and the others are escorted to their seats by venue security. Keith, Shiro and the other bodyguards move to the green room where they have a kitchenette and a small live-feed of the theatre. Venue security takes over from this point onwards. And once everyone is seated in the theatre, there’s a low risk of any kind of incident. Keith of course would prefer to stay directly with his client, but sadly they cannot reserve so many seats for just bodyguards.

 

There’s a kitchenette in the green room. Some guards are making themselves coffee, while others are lounging on the couches. Keith relaxes next to Shiro, who flicks through his phone, when Hunk sits in front of them. 

“Hey guys, I made cookies. Do you want some?” Hunk holds out a tupperware container filled with homemade chocolate chip cookies. Keith smiles and takes one. Shiro excitedly takes several.

“Where were you keeping these?”

“I put them in the fridge earlier. Before everyone arrived.” Hunk explains.

“Good foresight like always.” Thace sighs as he walks over and reaches around the back of Hunk’s chair with practiced skill. He snatches a cookie and shoves it in his mouth. 

“Mmmm fantastic, Hunk.”

“Thanks!.”

Thace leans on the back of the couch munching happily, when he meets Keith’s gaze.

“How are you doing kiddo? How’s your first real contract?”

“It’s fine.” Keith shrugs. Thace frowns. He comes around to the front of the couch and crashes next to Keith.

“Seriously, how are you doing? I heard you were hesitant to take this.”

“Oh really.” Keith scowls at Shiro, the only other person who would know a detail like that. Shiro purposefully looks away.

“Is it alright?”

“It’s fine. It’s better than I thought. Lance is….” Keith struggles to find the right words. “Rambunctious?”

Shiro and Thace both laugh. 

“Is he respectful to you though? Like he treats you right, yeah?”

“Oh he treats him alright.” Shiro smirks. Keith elbows him sharply in the stomach. Thace’s eyebrows crinkle with confusion. 

“What does that…?” He chuckles, then his eyes finally land on Keith’s suit. He lets out a low whistle.

“I thought you looked more expensive somehow.” He chuckles. “What is this? Wool?” 

“Stop.” Keith tries to wave the other man off.

“Whoa! Shiro have you seen these cufflinks?” Thace snatches Keith’s wrist.

“Nice, right? Allura thought he was a model when she first saw him.”

Trace throws his head back and laughs, but it is soon interrupted by applause coming through the walls of the theatre.

 

“Sounds like the movie’s over. We should go.” Keith ignores the heat in his face as he stands. Shiro and Thace snigger behind him as they walk to collect their clients.

 

 

Shiro, Hunk and Keith collect their respective client’s at the exit of the theatre. Lance, Allura, Matt and Pidge are sandwiched protectively between them as they walk outside and to their cars waiting with the valets. Shiro picks up the keys, while Lance opens the door for Allura once more. They breathe a sigh of relief when Shiro makes it onto the highway.

 

The car is eerily silent. Lance continuously adjusts his seat and fidgets with his sleeves. Allura places a reassuring hand on his thigh. 

“Lance,” Her voice is soothing. He stops bouncing his leg. “The movie was good. You were good.”

“Yeah?” His voice is uncharacteristically shaky. He chews on his bottom lip.

“Yes. You were great. Don’t worry.” She smiles and squeezes his leg. Lance forces a weak smile, but it vanishes quickly. He stays quiet for the rest of the trip. 

 

Shiro drops them off at the front of Lance’s apartment building. Allura and Lance hug goodbye, while Shiro pats Keith on the back.

“It was lovely meeting you, Keith! I hope I get the chance to make a better impression.” Allura calls out her window.

“You don’t have to make up for anything, Miss.” Keith gives a small wave. 

 

Shiro pulls away and Keith moves Lance quickly into his building. The ride up the elevator is also conducted in silence. Lance only speaks when they are inside the apartment. His expression is pensive as he removes his jacket and tie. 

“Keith, have you ever seen any of my movies?”

“No.” Keith answers quickly. 

“Oh.” Lance frowns harder.

“Would you like me to?” Keith offers. He hopes it sounds supportive.

“No.” Lance scowls. “I doubt you’d like them. They’re mostly rom-coms.”

Keith must visibly grimace, because Lance chuckles. He sits on the couch.

“Too girly for you?”

Too heterosexual for me.

“My taste isn’t important.” Keith covers. Lance nods.

 

He resumes scowling as he unties his shoes and kicks them off. He begins untucking his shirt. For some reason, it hurts Keith to see Lance so low. A frown doesn’t suit his soft, pretty features.

 

“I… I like Look at me though.” Keith tries. Lance immediately brightens.

“You listen to my music?”

“It’s impossible to escape it.” Keith shrugs. 

“Most people don’t talk about that song much.” Lance looks down with a sad smile. “Not my most successful single.”

“Well it’s my favourite.” Keith smiles. Soft and genuine. Lance finds himself having to look away, like he’s glanced at the sun. His ears turn a soft pink. 

“Thank you.”

Keith clears his throat.

“I should be off, Mr McClain.”

“Of course!” Lance abruptly stands. There’s a renewed spring in his step as he walks Keith over to the elevator. Keith is happy to see it.

 

“Will you be here tomorrow morning?”

“It’s my day off, sir.” Keith gently reminds him. “If you need an escort anywhere, my agency will organise one for you.”

“But it won’t be you?” Lance pouts and leans on the wall.

“Do i not deserve a day off?” Keith teases. Lance groans.

“I suppose.”

The elevator doors open with a ding. Keith steps backwards into it. 

 

“Goodnight, Keith.” Lance tiredly smiles.

“Goodnight, Mr McClain.”

Keith nods as the doors close.