Keith stood up slow, eyes cold. He was one of the shortest on the team, but at that moment he looked taller than even Hunk. Pidge wasn’t one to be intimidated, especially for something so innocent, but the way Keith was looking at her-- She bit her lip.
“And so you trapped him in the airlock?” Keith asked through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, but he’s perfectly safe. I made sure to take it off the grid.”
Keith made a disgusted noise in the back of his throat. Eyes fierce with cold fire, he spat each word like an attack, “You have five seconds to get that airlock open.”
Pidge knew those eyes. They were the ones Keith wore when they were in the middle of battle and bloodlust was at its highest. She never thought they would be turned on her and it made her skin prickle.
Keith spun on his heal to leave, relieving her of the weighted stare. Shakily, Pidge raised her voice, calling out to his back. “Lance is fine. I made sure. There’s no way it would--” the automatic doors slid shut “--open.”
Keith ran like his life depended on it, anger boiling up with each pounding step. How long has he been trapped in there?! Alone, where he’d almost died. Keith’s shoes screeched as he slid around the corner. What if he was overreacting? Maybe he yelled at Pidge for no reason and Lance was perfectly fine.
His mind flashed back to that day. It felt like decaphoeb since King Alfor’s corrupted spirit tried and kill them all. A lifetime since Lance was nearly sucked into space. Yet, to this day, Keith still remembered Lance’s wide eyes and shaking hands as he pulled him back to safety.
Keith sped up, propelled by dark thoughts.
No, he definitely was not fine. He had to reach Lance, now.
Lance pulled his hair as he paced the floor, the roots tugging painfully at his scalp. He took a deep breath. Everything was going to be okay. This wasn’t the same as last time. Last time it was a ghost trying to kill them; this time it was just Pidge getting revenge. One hundred percent deserved. So what if he was trapped in an airlock… and the power was cut... and he probably only had so much oxygen left…?
No, no! Lance couldn’t let himself freak out. A rapid heart rate meant more oxygen consumption; at least, Lance was pretty sure he’d heard that on TV. He didn’t think he’d actually ever need that information in real life.
Cold sweat creeped on his skin making him shiver.
Wait, doesn’t walking use more oxygen, too? He stopped himself from pacing, fear glueing his feet to the floor. How much had he already used? How much did he have left? He gasped, trying to gulp down lungfuls of air, but it only made his lungs ache for more. Was it just him, or was the air already thinning?
A logical voice in the back of his mind told him it was the latter, but a much more demanding voice yelled that he was suffocating. He clutched his chest as he sucked in the ever thinning air. His heart beat pounded in his ears, the blood pumping at an impossible speed.
“Please come back, Pidge. I’m sorry,” he whispered to himself. It wasn’t Pidge’s fault. She didn’t know that he’d had a near death experience in this exact same spot. She didn’t know that her little prank would send him spiraling into a panic attack. Heck, Lance didn’t know it would be this terrifying.
Curling into a ball, he rocked back and forth. His heart beat wildly against his chest, pounding out a rapid, erratic beat. Lance felt fevered and frozen at the same time as violent convulsions wracked his body. Trimmed fingernails cut into palms as he tried to stop himself from shaking.
Lance clenched his jaw, biting back the tears that threatened to fall down his cheeks. This was all his fault. If he hadn’t tried to get back at Pidge… Hitting his head with his fists, he mumbled, “Stupid, stupid, stupid. I’m so stupid.” The words sliced through him like knives. Who would be scared of a dumb airlock? Pidge wouldn’t actually let him die.
He chanted in his head, I’m perfectly safe. It was no use.
No matter how much he tried to rationalize his situation, flashbacks would engulf him. Dark thoughts clawed their way from the pit of his stomach to dig sharply into his heart. All he could do was paw at the slick floor as fear squeezed his throat shut.
He could feel it.
The void of space like a vice around his ankles, dragging him out and swallowing him whole. He could feel himself slowly dying from suffocation. Each time it replayed he could feel Keith’s hand slip from his, and Lance would scream--
He was screaming.
His voice echoed around the room, reverberating in on itself. Lance bit down hard on his tongue to stop the raw, animalistic wail. He winced as the copper taste of blood filled his mouth. The deafening ring of his voice ricocheted in his skull and buzzed in his ears.
“Keith,” he whispered, voice small, begging for his previous savior.
Lance felt weak and useless. Logic told him he was in no real danger. But here he was, pleading for someone to save him. He pulled his legs to his chest and squeezed his hands in his hair. His stomach felt like a bundle of knots, he wanted to throw up. He was going to throw up for sure. Fat tears fell in never ceasing rivulets as he wiped them away in fistfulls.
“Please. Keith, please.” Hiccups seized his body and shuddering breaths trembled between his words. He was blubbering now, but he didn’t care. Lance didn’t care if they found him a sniffling mess; he just wanted out.
A breeze blew through his hair as the airlock doors flew open. Lance snapped out of his head long enough to look up with glassy eyes. The fresh air cooled his burning cheeks and swept away the nausea from the pit of his stomach. It took a moment before his brain processed what he was seeing. Keith standing there, hand held out as he knelt down in front of him.
“It’s okay, Lance, you’re safe.”
Tears ran anew down his face. But these tears were different, refreshing. A baptism for his anxiety and fear. Lance reached out a sweaty, shaking hand.
Keith grasped it firmly, apparently not caring that Lance was covered in snot and sweat. He pulled Lance closer to him, supporting him around the waist. Lance leaned heavily onto his once rival, letting himself be half carried from the illusory tomb.
Out of the corner of his eye Lance saw Pidge standing to the side. She opened her mouth, hand reaching out; but she snapped it shut, hand curling into a fist as it lowered. He tried to smile, to let her know he was okay. It seemed to have the opposite effect, she cringed.
Must have been a bad smile, he thought.
“I’m sorry.” Pidge looked down to the floor, shoulders heavy.
Keith glared and opened his mouth but Lance cut him off, “I’m okay. You didn’t know. It’s not your fault.” Pidge didn’t look convinced, but Lance had no energy to console her. He barely had enough energy to stand.
Keith tugged at his waist, thumb rubbing circles in the soft fat below his ribs. “You look pretty horrible. Let’s get you cleaned up, okay?”
The laugh surprised Lance as it burst out of him. It was too loud and bordered on manic, but it sent a wave of relief through his bones. “Yeah, that sounds good.”
Lance leaned heavily on Keith as they walked. The time to console Pidge would come later, after a shower and maybe a nap. For now, the feel of Keith’s calloused hands held him together. The gentle pressure keeping his frayed edges from unraveling.
Keith was his lighthouse after the storm and Lance found safe harbor.