Chapter 1: Swimmers, Get Ready...
Keith swallowed and bent over, his eyes fluttering closed and every nerve in his body was aching to launch himself over the block and into the cool water. But he held perfectly still and gave no sign of the eagerness and the adrenaline pulsing through his veins.
"Swimmers, take your mark." His coach, Coran, calls out to the two swimmers perched on the blocks. He bites back a groan at the long pause and tightens his grip on the block and the swimmer next to him twitches slightly. "Wait!" Suddenly the swimmer next to him lurches forward,but catches himself from accidently diving into the water. Keith, however, toppled in with zero grace and slammed against the water with a loud splash. When he surfaces, he glares daggers at Lance who was standing up on the block and smiling down on him.
"Keith! You've been disqualified, you're chances at Nationals have slimmed!" Coran yells to him and he flings himself dramatically to the wall behind him, the stopwatch slipping from his hands to swing around his neck. Keith rolls his eyes and pulls himself out of the water, sitting on the side.
"I would've caught myself if someone ," he pauses to shoot a look at Lance. "Wasn't so twitchy on the blocks. Shouldn't he also be disqualified for moving on the block?" Lance scoffs and crosses his arms, still standing high on the block.
"Don't take out your embarrassment on me just because you fell into the pool, that was on you." Lance says. Keith's stomach boiled in annoyance. Keith stands up and looks directly at him with a deep scowl.
"Hey I at least I can manage to keep my twitching under control." Keith fires back, it was a weak retort but Keith was far too tired to deal with Lance. Swim practice was going late tonight and Keith had a fucking novel to study for his English test tomorrow morning. Lance hops down from the block and jabs his finger into Keith's pale chest.
"At least I don't swim with a stick up my as-"
"Guys," Pidge groans from behind Keith, her frog swim cap clenched tightly in her hand. "Can we just get these 25's done? You know Coran's never going to let us go home unless we finish this." Keith sighs and turns back to Lance, sliding his goggles over his eyes and steps back on the block with Lance mimicking his actions.
Coran smiles. "Take your mark," Keith tucks his chin to his chest and eyes the still water in front of him. "Go!"
Keith leaps off, cutting into the water smoothly and pumps his legs quickly before surfacing and propelling himself through the cold water. Keith loses himself for a moment and listens to the water rushing past his ears and becomes aware of the water all around him, it was peaceful until Keith's lungs started to burn for air. Keith turns his head to the side and quickly gulps in air before dunking back underwater. He glances at the lane next to him and sees Lance moving past him with ease causing Keith to kick into racing mode, his heart hammering and his remaining energy spiking, as he pulls ahead of Lance, slamming his hand into the tiled wall first. Keith rips off his cap and goggles with an easy smirk on his face.
Lance hits the wall a second after him and lifts his head to look at him with a glare. "It wasn't a race Keith." Keith shrugs and runs his fingers through his wet hair.
" It wasn't a race Keith." He mimics him with a low, slow voice. "Sounds like you didn't like losing a 25 to me." Keith says. Lance splashes him and climbs out.
"Shut it! It was supposed to be an easy 25, not race with the person next to you!" Lance objectifies and gathers his stuff. Keith climbs out after him and walks towards the bleachers where three backpacks sat.
"Like I said before: You just don't like losing to me." He says and rubs his black hair with a towel. Lance didn't respond to Keith's poking, he just turned on his phone and absentmindedly flipped through his Snapchat. Ah, yes. Lance's infamous silent treatment, known to be quite annoying since he keeps it up until there's an apology. Keith rolls his eyes at Pidge who was approaching them with wet brown hair. It was only the three of them tonight, four if you count Coran, and it was nice since everyone had their own lane and didn't need to worry about the person swimming behind them.
Pidge sits down on the bleachers and wraps herself in her towel. "Why wasn't Shiro here to deal with you guys?" Pidge complains.
"He's at some college tour with Allura." Keith responds and tugs a red t-shirt over his head.
"Ugh, are they really planning on going to the same college?" Pidge groans and Keith shrugs.
He feels eyes dig into him and he turns to Lance who was staring up at him. "Can I help you sir?" Keith asks. Lance turns away and throws his towel over his shoulder before walking out of the pool doors.
"Meet me in the car Pidge!" He calls to her over his shoulder. Keith rolls his eyes at his back, leave it to Lance to walk out shirtless in the cooling fall air.
"'Kay!" She calls back before turning to Keith. "How much of a dick would I be if I called Matt to come pick me up?" Keith snorts and pulls his bag onto his shoulder.
"A pretty huge one," He says, Pidge grins and lifts her phone to her ear with an evil glint in her eye. Keith waves her goodbye and says goodnight to Coran before he pushes through the doors and walks out into the parking lot and to Shiro's car.
Keith drives, limbs heavy with exhaustion and music pumping softly through the speakers.
Before any assumptions can be made, Keith doesn't hate Lance. He just... strongly dislikes him. Lance is a cocky, loud and annoying and Keith is amazed by people's patience with him but Keith can't help by feel pity for the guy, it must be a lot of work embarrassing himself everyday. Keith's grip tightened on the steering wheel a bit when a car behind him honks, forcing Keith to look up at the bright green light above him.
He and Lance actually used to be somewhat friends so what happened to them? That's right, this stupid rivalry.
It started back in sixth grade when Keith first moved here. He and Pidge were pretty much instant friends but Lance took a while to warm up to him, it was only when Lance found out that Keith swims is when he finally called Keith a friend. Everything was cool for a few months, they were in a new school with new friends and they felt comfortable. Hunk transferred back to the school after only spending fifth grade across town at a new school and they became their own friend group.
Until Hunk walked Keith to the library during lunch.
Lance ended up coming back to find Pidge typing away under the lunch table at her new phone and his childhood friend gone with his new friend. When they came back from the library, a UFO book in Keith's hand, laughing with Hunk that sparked something between him and Lance. It's funny now, looking back on it. It was something so small that shouldn't have started anything but it did, all thanks to Lance's overdramatic attitude.
"Oh, so now you're taking my best friend away from me too?" Lance sniffed as Keith sat down.
Pidge snapped her head up. "Okay, rude ." She says but her voice had a humorous edge to it.
"Don't you 'What?' me! First you begin to hang out with Pidge without me and Hunk-" Lance starts, his tiny hands balling into fists.
"We live across the street from one another!" Keith protests, sensing Lance's distress. Pidge sinks lower into the chair and Hunk looks at his lap, ashamed. Keith could see that people around them were looking but Lance was all that he could focus on.
"-then you go off with my best friend! What do you want Keith? To take my friends?" Lance yells and hits the table. Keith jumps back and feels his anger build up.
"It was to the stupid library! We were gone five minutes and then came back and you couldn't go since you were in the lunch line and-" Keith stops his rambling and takes a deep breath. "Calm down Lance, they're my friends too." Keith finishes. Lance glares daggers and him and snatches Keith's book. "Hey-!"
"No, I won't calm down! I already have to compete for attention in my house and now I have to compete with you for my friends?!" Lance says, his voice was calmer than before but had a sharp edge. "Not to mention how we always one up each other in science class-"
"I thought we were having fun Lance!" Keith cries, his voice cracking. This was far from fair, he was being accused of something so small and Lance had his book. "Give me my book!"
Lance looks at the cover. "UFO's huh? You know those don't exist right?"
"Yes they do! There's evidence to prove it!" Keith fires back and reaches for it. Seeing Keith's reaction, Lance grins and holds it up.
"Hey guys! Keith believes in aliens!" Lance hollers to the cafeteria. That earned him a few snickers and whispers but no one really payed attention or cared, but in Keith's mind the entire middle school laughed and mocked him. Keith's face flamed and he tackled Lance, slamming them into the table.
" Give me the fucking book, Lance!" He screams, not realizing what he just said. Lance pauses with wide eyes at the word 'fuck' but keeps a firm grip on the book and manages to keep the shorter boy away from it for a few seconds. It wasn't until a pair of hands yanked Keith away from him and he came face to face with the principal that Keith finally stopped. Keith drops his gaze and gets off Lance and was handed the book.
"You two, my office, now. " The principle growls, his face turning red. The two boys walk to the office like puppies with their tails tucked between their legs.
"This is all your fault," Lance snarls at him.
Keith looks at him, the fire in his belly lighting back up. "Um, I'm not the one who accused someone for doing nothing then took their book and embarrassed him in front of the middle school." Keith fires back. Lance stiffens and scoffs, sinking lower into his chair.
"I hate you, Keith." Lance mutters. Something stabs at Keith's heart but he tightens his grip on the chair and faces forward.
"I hate you, Lance."
A week of detention for saying the word 'fuck'. Never mind the fight, never mind Lance who prompted the fight. It was Keith's fault because we was ‘troubled’. When he returned home to an angry mom waving her hands in the air, lecturing her son about 'language' and asking 'where he even learned that fucking word'. After a few hours, the excitement in the house fell and Shiro no longer knocked on his door asking how the book was every hour and his mom no longer mumbled curses under her breath. Keith skipped dinner and went straight to bed despite the pang in his stomach, but Keith just wanted to sleep and ignore the guilt clawing at his heart. Instead he turned over on his back and looked up at his glowing stars, thinking about how he was going to put Lance in his place.
Keith stopped the car and sat there for a moment in the driveway, the memory burned into his mind. He knew Lance didn't mean his words but then over the years, Lance grew into the complete opposite of Keith and left him with the thought that maybe it would be better to stay away from him.
Light's flashed behind him and he sees Allura's silver car pulled into the driveway and Shiro stepping out of the car, and waving Allura goodbye.
"Hey," Shiro says to him. "How was practice?"
"Fan-fucking-tastic." Keith says and unlocks the door.
Shiro hums. "I'm guessing you and Lance had a flare up again?"
"It wasn't even that bad! I was playing along with this stupid game of his, now I'm on silent treatment." Keith says, throwing his hands up.
"Things have been a bit rough for him lately, I'm not surprised at his reaction." Shiro says, hopping up on the counter. Keith rolls his eyes.
"Oh please, what could he possibly be going through?" Keith asks, followed by a frustrated sigh.
"He's a human Keith, he has to deal with his family and school issues too." Shiro explains. "Anyways, the college tour Allura and I went on was crazy."
"Oh, yeah. Why was it crazy?" Keith asks, cracking open a Sprite and handing one to Shiro.
"Weird people, our tour guide kept making these...these glances at Allura. Plus the school didn't look very clean and it was far away from any town." Shiro says and rubs his face before taking a long sip at the soda.
"Oh, so you didn't like the tour guide for looking up Allura." Keith smirked.
"Well, she's a lady and deserves respect." Shiro claims, a bright blush spreading on his cheeks causing his pink scar to stand out.
"Uh huh, sure." Keith rolls his eyes. "You're talking about the Allura, who punched you after you scared her? You're talking about the Allura who can practically bench press Pidge? You're talking about the Allura who tells off any guy that attempts to hit on her?" Keith says, remembering how Lance spent most of freshman year trying to get with Allura but ended up with an ear full. It was annoying and made Keith want to slam his head against the wall, so when Lance came back to school with defeated eyes, Keith silently rejoiced.
"Don't pull that stuff on me, Keith." Shiro says, putting his soda down with a clink . "Let's talk about how you can Lance can't seem to go a day without going at eachothers throats."
Keith chokes on his soda.
"You remember what happened in sixth grade, he hasn't been able to let it go!" Shiro shakes his head.
"And you haven't been able to let it go either." Shiro points out. Keith groans, knowing exactly what Shiro’s point is. "Maybe if you just drop the rivalry? Don't take Lance's bait anymore and grow up past it. You guys are seriously starting to piss off the team and you know how much it takes to annoy Hunk and Shay."
"I- it's- argh! " Keith hated how he couldn't put his thoughts into words. "It's Lance that's why! He's annoying, obnoxious and he lets things go to his head. He started it!"
Shiro laughs. "You said the exact same thing when you were in sixth grade. It was five years ago, both of you have matured-"
Keith snorts and Shiro grits his teeth and moves on.
"-and grown in different directions. You two just need to become good again and please try to do it before Nationals? I heard they're trying to do a team relay." Shiro finishes and hops off of the counter. Keith flopped on to the couch and flipped through his English novel, only skimming the pages before closing it shut.
Shiro had a point and Keith had to admit it, but no way is he patching things up with Lance. Things were ruined between them and if Lance was refusing to see that it was his fault then why should he even put in the effort to apologize for something that wasn't his doing. But god, Shiro had a point and making it to Nationals has been a huge accomplishment to the entire swim team and he didn't want to ruin it just because of some petty fight that happened five years ago. He rubbed his eyes and stared up at the ceiling, feeling conflicted.
Nationals was in six months. It would be a challenge for Keith, considering that he's terrible with people, but he loves a challenge.
Keith sets his jaw and ponders at the plan forming in his head.
Keith has sixth months to make him and Lance on neutral terms. It wouldn't be sudden so it wasn't suspicious and he could really take his time. What's the rush? This is Lance, he's talking about. All he had to do was buy him Starbucks for a week and then it'll be enough to at least it a 'Hey' in the halls.
Keith unlocks his phone and sets s reminder that says:
March 23rd: Solve whatever you and Lance have to win Nationals.
Keith stares at it before he shuts his phone off and sits back into the old, grey couch.
Chapter 2: Take your Mark..
Keith's challenge begins.
okay ao3 was giving me a hard time posting this by pulling the 'YoU NEed To haVe MorE ThaN 10 CharAcTErS' shit but I got it.
It's supposed to be an activity to help build people's relationships with their teammates but everyone, besides Shiro and Allura who were the ones to come up with the idea, views it as a waste of a lazy Saturday afternoon. Keith doesn't mind team bonding but he doesn't get the point of traveling some place to spend the day with the people he spends after school with for most of the year. He had mixed feelings for it.
Keith knew it was team bonding day too since Allura always came to his house an hour before they left, and Keith could hear Allura's laughter chime in the kitchen. Keith moaned softly into his pillow and pulled the covers over his head and prayed that Shiro forgot about him and left him be. This was one of the few times Keith didn't mind Shiro flirting with Allura.
But not a minute later, Shiro burst through his door and yanks up his blinds and Keith snuggles deeper into his bed with a whine.
"Wake up sunshine, team bonding day!" Shiro sings and wrestles the covers from Keith's tight grasp.
"Can you fuck off?" Keith whines but Shiro smacks him with a stray pillow on Keith's floor. Keith grabs it from him before rubbing his eyes open, staring up at the ceiling.
"Nope," Shiro says, popping the 'p'. "It's time for you to get up anyways, I let you sleep in longer this time."
"Five fucking minutes isn't sleeping in," Keith groans but sits up, tugging his t-shirt over his head and running his fingers through his bed head. Allura comes prancing in with a coffee mug and she hands it to Keith with a kind smile.
"Yes, but it's fine more minutes of energy to use for mini golfing today!" He takes the mug from her as she stands next to Shiro. He takes a sip and looks at the two of them.
"Mini golfing, hm? I think we already did that." Keith hums into the cup.
"Yes but we thought we would do it in teams to add some spice to it." Shiro suggests.
Keith snorts and throws the covers back. "Why? Golfing under a plastic dinosaur not 'spicy' enough for you?" Shiro laughs and ruffles Keith's hair, making Keith bat Shiro's metal hand away from him. "Wait, there's more to this isn't there?"
"Well," Allura starts. "It has come to our attention that you and Lance have some difficulties-"
"So we thought doing something that has you two actually work together would help give you a push in the right direction." Shiro finishes for her and Keith sighs.
"Look, I'm...I'm working on it." Keith says and puts down his mug, losing interest in the coffee.
"Keith, you haven't looked at him in two days ." Shiro points out. "But yet, you still manage to rise to Lance's bait, and don't think that I don't notice your subtle races and competitions during practice." Shiro crosses his arms at his brother and Keith looks at Allura. She throws her hands up in defense.
"I think this will be a shove to help you guys at least respect each other." Allura tries, twisting her long hair into a messy bun with strands fluttering around her face. "We aren't asking you to be friends with him again, Keith." Keith eyes them, thinking heavily about what they were doing.
On one hand, this could actually work since he knew that him and Lance both shared the need to win.
On the other hand, their rivalry could turn them against each other and end up competing with each other, even when they're on the same team.
"Fine," Keith huffs and shoves them out the door. "Get out so I can get changed."
Thirty minutes later, Keith stood in front of a large plastic volcano with a ripped jeans and an attitude. Keith was a bit upset that they weren't going to go back to the dinosaur one, he liked the plastic dinosaurs looking down at him while he kicked Pidge's ass in golf and he had a small attachment to the blue triceratops at the entrance.
"Alright, Pidge says they're inside and ready to play. We just need to grab our stuff," Shiro explains, looking down at his phone which showed a text from Pidge. Allura steps out of the car and tightens on her head.
"Hunk must've dragged them to come early," Allura says. The three teens walk their way up to the entrance and greet the rest of the swim team who were standing around a claw machine with focus.
"C'mon Lance!" Pidge chants, her hands balled into fists out of excitement. "All most there..." Allura walks over to them and peers over Lance's shoulder.
"How much money did you spend on this?" Shiro asks him, following behind Allura with curiosity. Lance was was staring at the silver claw, which held a small red lion in its grasp, and had a tight grip on the joystick. Keith silently watches, a part of him actually wanted Lance to beat the machine that ate up countless of dollars during Keith's childhood.
"Yes!" Lance cries, pumping a fist in the air. He had the claw poised perfectly over the shoot and Pidge, bursting with impatience, slams her tiny fist down on the red button. The red lion drops and Lance scoops it up, beaming. "Finally, that thing stole at least ten bucks from me."
Pidge high fives him and while Hunk smiles down on his friends. Shiro scoffs at Lance's waste of money but had a small smile while Allura clapped her hands together.
"Good job," Keith says dryly, if they were going to be on a team together might as start it off on the right foot. Lance looks at him crookedly and tucks the lion into his sweatshirt pocket, it's nose peeking out.
"Thanks," He returns with equal disinterest. The team stands there, the excitement slowly draining out of the room until a girl with short brown hair and freckles enters behind the counter with an arm full of golf clubs.
"Oh," she blinks before smiling and turning to Hunk. "I see you brought more friends. Hello, will you guys be joining him?" She greets them. Her personality was as warm as Hunk's and Keith felt at ease before looking at Hunk for an explanation.
"Ah, yes they will be." Hunk's cheeks going red against his dark skin. He turns to him and Shiro with a bashful look. "Guys, this is Shay. She swims but for a different school." He explains. Pidge grabs a club and leans out from behind him.
"She's also his girlfriend," she sings. Shay giggles while Hunk shoots Pidge a dirty look but that's all Keith needs to confirm it. Keith grabs a club and elbows Pidge, which ended up with just nudging her shoulder.
"How long did it take for them to be together?" He whispers with a light laugh.
Pidge sighs and grabs a green ball. "Too long, Keith. Too long." Lance comes up behind them, tossing a blue ball between his hands.
"So Pidge, my lane partner, my best girl friend-" Lance says with a charming smile. "Care to be my partner for golfing?"
"I heard Shiro's picking teams, dude." Pidge responds with a glance at Keith. Ah, so Pidge was in on it. Great.
"Ugh! You know he's just doing it to get Allura to himself." Lance whines. Keith bursts out laughing and earns a narrowed glance from Lance.
"Sorry, it's true though." Keith says with a shrug and Lance's expression loosens a bit.
"Okay, so for the teams." Shiro starts, shooting Keith a quick look and he rolls his eyes. Yeah, yeah he's got it. Work with Lance (despite how he acts) and get through an hour of mini golfing. Keith could do it, it was already going somewhat smoothly so the rest should be fine. "Allura and I will be on one," Keith feels a sharp poke in his shoulder blade and turns to find Lance with an 'I told you so' expression. That's a step forward.
"Pidge and Hunk on one, then Keith and Lance on the last." Shiro says as he scribbles down the names. Lance groans and Keith felt his fingers tighten on his club with annoyance. Here goes Lance.
"Come on, Shiro-" Lance begins, leaning against his golf club.
"Just for today, I promise Keith won't be difficult. Right Keith?" Shiro says but directs the question with a sharp tone. Keith scowls and nods.
"Fine but I'm picking the team name," Lance huffs before following Pidge and Hunk out onto the course. Keith grits his teeth but follows.
"Sounds great," he chokes out after him, grabbing a red ball and turning to Shiro. "But if this makes things worse you aren't allowed to 'help' anymore. Got it?" Keith hisses and shoves through the glass doors. Since it was the end of summer and fall was right around the corner, no one else was at the golf course which made it less stressful to Keith. Something about people ganging up on the golf courses when he was a few holes in front of them, made him feel like he was being rushed. Keith tugs his sleeves down over his hands and stands off to the side, watching Hunk hit his yellow ball and it rolling just inches away from the hole.
"So I was thinking maybe 'Freezer Burn' for a name?" Lance says, walking up next to him. Keith gives him a side glance, wondering what the fuck that had to do with them. "You have a red ball which is, like, fiery? And then my ball is blue which is cool, like me." He explains with a smirk, clearly happy with throwing in a compliment towards himself. Keith shrugs his shoulders.
"Sure, doesn't affect me." Keith says and walks along the brick lining of the course before dropping his ball at the start.
"Lance says don't fuck it up!" Pidge calls to him and Keith snaps his head up at her and gave them a careful look. He could see that Lance had his arms crossed with a raised eyebrow, challenging Keith to fire something back. But Keith looks at him dead in the eyes before wacking the ball and it rolls, stopping a few centimeters from the hole. Both of Lance's shoot up and his mouth falls open but then relaxes to a grin. Keith smiles back and steps off. He wasn’t bad at golfing so he didn’t know why Lance thought he was going to drag them down.
"Stop gawking, it's your turn." Keith says. Lance shoves past him and sets his ball at his feet, hovering the head of his club behind it and wiggles his hips. He closes one eye and pulls his arms back before hitting the ball with a surprising small amount of force. The extras steps were...well a bit extra in Keith’s opinion but the ball spins into Keith's ball, knocking it into the hole and Lance's ball circling around before eventually falling in.
"Hell yeah!" Lance cheers while everyone else, besides Keith of course, groans.
"Nice hit, man." Keith says as Shiro trades places with him. Lance grins and pops one arm up on the club, a lazy but confident look on his face.
"Yeah, I know. It's a talent I have." Lance says. Keith rolls his eyes at him and turns back to Shiro, but Allura's blue eyes were locked on Keith.
" Told you so, " She mouths to him with a cocky grin. Keith crosses his arms and looks away from her.
Of course, it would work. Keith didn't have any doubt but he hated when she rubbed it in with that smug ass look. So what if it was a simple shove to get Keith's plan rolling, he would've gotten to work on it once he found a reason and opportunity to. Keith was the type of guy that preferred it when things came to him and let things work themselves out, having to force something to happen felt weird to him.
Allura’s pink ball slams into the black one and both of the balls stop short of the hole, making Allura groan in frustration.
The golf competition continued like that for the rest of the time. Hunk and Pidge falling behind due to Hunk's over thinking about his shots while Pidge whacked the ball has hard as she could, and Shiro and Allura were neck and neck with Lance and Keith, their hunger to win bonding them a bit closer after each hole as the team quickly reaching the last hole.
"Okay Keith," Lance whispers and he keeps his eyes on Shiro who was leaning over the small wooden bridge, laughing at something with Allura and looking down at the dyed red water. "Allura and I are tied and it's you and Shiro that determine the win."
"Jeez, no pressure." Keith whispers back, his voice dripping with sarcasm and he felt doubtfulness curl into his stomach.
Lance places a hand on Keith's shoulder for the first time in years. "You got this, we somehow managed to work together for the last ten holes so this one is no different. Don't think about it man, just hit it." Keith relaxes a bit and shrugs off his hand and it falls limply back at Lance’s side. Lance shoves him towards the start where Pidge and Hunk, who were fully aware that they were losing and were just fucking around by this point, were sitting on the bench. Keith teeters on the brick lining, looking back at the red water a few feet behind him, before placing his ball at his feet to get the right angle. If he could hit the golf ball in the right spot at the right strength, it could go in.
Don't think about it, just hit it. Lance's voice cut through Keith's mind. He takes a deep breath and swings his club back and hits his ball with a solid wack . At first, it rolls quickly down the slope and gains speed. Too much speed to be exact and it over shoots the hole and bounces off the bricks. Keith's heart sinks, so much for winning.
Keith turns back to Lance, who looked disappointed but he seemed to hold back on being a wise ass which was pretty surprising but also nice. Keith lets out a shaky breath and begins to walk back to Lance who was watching the red ball like a hawk. His expression twists into a bright grin and Keith turns back around to find his golf ball rolling steadily toward the hole and it dips in.
"Keith holy shit!" Lance whoops and he crosses the course, squatting down by the hole, digging his hand in and pulls out the ball. Keith stares at in in shock for a moment and he feels himself break out into a huge grin. Keith pumps his fist in the air, jumping up on his toes and drowns in relief before he feels his footing slip from the brick. He begins to fall backward and hears the water below him, streaming loudly while the huge volcano behind him rumbles. Keith's hands desperately try to grab on to something- anything - to get back his balance and he does, thankfully. He latches on to an arm and feels it pull him back up right and away from the water with another arm wrapping around his waist. Keith stands there a minute trying to process what the fuck just happened before he looks up at Lance, who's slender arm was wrapped tightly against Keith's waist. Keith looks down at his hands that were white against his blue sweatshirt and yanks them away with a blush threatening to creep up to his cheeks. Lance stares at him for a second and drops his arms from Keith, stepping away from him.
"Sorry," he mumbles and Keith swore he saw his cheeks pink a bit but instead he turned to Shiro and Allura, who were looking back at them with matching 'What did we just miss?' faces. Hunk and Pidge just stared at them.
"Are we done here? I'm getting hungry," Hunk breaks the silence.
Lance relaxes immediately. "Yeah, I could go for a victory lunch. You guys coming along?" Lance looks past Keith and looks at the two seniors on the bridge. Keith pulls his sleeves over his hands again.
"What do you mean 'victory'?!" Allura says and whips her heads towards Shiro, her bun flopping against her head. "How many times did you hit the ball Shiro?!"
"Um.. like three times?" Shiro says and shrinks back a bit from Allura's oncoming wrath. Allura can be scary when she gets in her competitive mode which is why she's amazing on the swim team. She turns to Keith with her splintery gaze.
"I got it in one," Keith smirks. Allura gasps loudly and wacks Shiro in the shoulder.
"I was counting on you!" She says with fake despair. Despite her competitiveness, she had a great team spirit and she always quickly got over losing. Shiro laughs and puts his hands up in surrender.
"Okay, okay." Shiro manages to say in between Allura's whining.
"So is that a yes?" Pidge says from the bench behind them. She swats the plants away from her face and presses her lips in a tight line. "Because these plants are pissing me the fuck off and I want to go . It’s getting way too fucking cold for this."
"We can't, Keith has a shift to work and I have to drop Allura off at her house," Shiro says apologetically. The team heads towards the exit, dropping off their equipment and saying goodbye to Shay. Hunk leans over the counter and places a quick kiss on her cheek.
"Aw!" Allura and Lance coo together with dopey expressions. Pidge made a small gagging noise and followed Keith out of the door and Keith ruffled her hair.
"Shut up, you know they're cute together." Keith says as Pidge smacks his hands away angrily, muttering string of threats under her breath. Keith shoves her towards Hunk's car and walks away from it and over to Shiro's black one. "Don't hurt yourself jumping in!" He calls to her over his shoulder.
"Go fuck yourself!" He hears Pidge's muffled reply through the car window. Keith laughs and pulls open the door as Allura and Shiro climb in.
"Keith wait!" Lance calls out to him, jogging lightly. Keith props his arms up on the car door and waits for him. "Here," Lance says as he digs into his pocket and pulls out the red lion, shoving it into Keith's hands.
"It's a small thank you gift for helping us win today and not being a dick like you usually are." Lance explains, rubbing the back of his neck. Keith looks at the small lion with yellow eyes and then up at Lance questionaly. "Don't flatter yourself, Hunk suggested I do this. You know how convincing he can be." Lance dismisses with a wave of his hand. Keith nods and pulls the lion closer to his chest.
"Thanks," he mumbles. He climbs into the car without another word and Lance's disappears in the back of Hunk's car. Keith lays his head against the window, watching the giant volcano whoosh by as his fingers dig into the lions soft fur.
Not a bad start, I guess.. Keith thought and he directed his thought towards Shiro and Allura in the front. Keith's eyes trailed down to their two hands, locked together in the middle of them and Keith smiles at the back of his brother's head. Lance's arm burns into Keith's mind and skin again, and Keith shuts his eyes for a second and hates himself for thinking about it. He was just helping Keith regain his balance but did he really need to stare at Keith like he was something fragile?
Shiro looks at Keith through the rearview mirror with concern. "You okay there? You look like you're in pain." Keith opens his eyes at his voice and he gazes at the lion again.
"I am," Keith grumbles back. Allura laughs and turns to face him, her long fingers still curled with Shiro's.
"What? Was golfing with Lance that bad? I thought you two worked together well, especially after we sacrificed our win for you two." Allura admits. Keith opened his mouth but closes it. He saw that coming and was less than surprised, it was kind of obvious they were slacking off by how many times they hit the ball since they both had a weird talent for getting things perfectly.
"I'm not surprised you guys did that, but I'm still mad." Keith states and he makes them bark out a laugh.
"Only you Keith, only you would be upset at winning." Shiro shakes his head and flicks on the blinker.
"That's because it's an unfair competition!" He moans.
Allura scoffs. "Please, it was a win win situation. You and Lance won the game and became closer, and the rest of the team got to enjoy peace and mini golf." Shiro rolls to Allura's driveway where Coran sat on the porch, flipping through a book. "Also don't act like we didn't see Lance give you that lion he won." She winks at him and climbs out, slamming the door behind her. Keith's face flushes and he groans.
"Don't worry about it Keith," Shiro says as he pulls away from her white house. "It's just a push in the right direction."
It was Keith's turn to scoff. He knew Shiro since he was four and he knew that there were going to be a lot more pushes in the future.
A lot more pushes.