A creature of stone sits under a tree, raindrops slide over his skin and flatten his hair against the obsidian mask resting against his cheeks. The ground gives under his heels slowly, pushing further and further into the soft earth the longer he sits slumped against the cold tree bark. All around him are the soft pastel lights of the fairy gathering, yet he has found the one area hidden in the unforgiving darkness of the forest. The one marred spot of the forest that the festivities haven’t reached, just like him. He waits and watches as the fairies dance and feast, their voices of song reaching out beyond the treetops above, willing those who should not enter to ignore their instincts and join. A few enchanted humans had already wandered into the clearing, though the glazed look in their eyes showed they were no threat. So the stoic spriggan looked away and let them foolishly seal their own fates.
He held his guard up, as he was not the only creature ignoring the festivities of the night. He was, however, the only one allowed into this party of chaos out of the monsters that lurked outside of the jolly lights. There were two footfalls sounding outside of his field of vision. The spriggan narrowed his eyes, focusing on what he couldn’t yet see. The mask he wore painted his whole vision purple, the eye holes cut to fit multiple amethyst geodes. The murky crystals would have been impossible to see out of, but the court spriggans had been carefully bred and taught to have extra sharp eyes and even sharper hearing. Like an animal, they relied more on hearing and smell to navigate the world over sight. The world tonight was bathed in speckled bright purple flecks of light and dark black shadows. One of the footsteps grew closer.
Without a second thought, the spriggan grabbed the copper blades hanging from his thighs and threw the first towards the noise. Jumping in a motion to follow the trajectory of the thrown knife, he pushed the second blade between the eyes of a twisting creature with short patches of fur covering a scab ridden body. The hilt of the knife dug into the blood soaked cap upon it's head. Murderous bottom feeders, come to steal away with some of the humans wandering around the forest. The fairy song draws all to them, pests included. He would have ignored them, they weren’t even planning on entering the festival, just dragging off a stray fleshling, but the man behind him now had forced him to act.
A low voice tickled against his ear, mixing with the soft sound of lips running over the hard stone of his mask. “I love the way you handle so many blades at once, always nice to see a man who knows how to keep his hands full.”
“You keep my hands full.” The spriggan sighed.
He turned to see the blue fairy’s huge grin, pleased to continue this banter the fae always found so amusing. “I do try but you always turn down my advances, so what am I left to do but try and find an outlet for my newfound frustrations.”
“By making me kill redcaps.” He deadpanned. The fairy lad could already picture the pouting grimace he just knew fell hidden behind that mask.
“I rather like the humans.” He smiles, raising a brow. “Not as much as I like you, rest assured.”
“Never once did I worry about that.” He sighed, cleaning off his blades and putting them back into their holders. He hadn’t gotten them fully cleaned, and gore trailed down his pant legs. The fairy scrunched up his nose in obvious disgust but said nothing.
“Say-” He began, a faint blue glow tinting his pointed ears. “Why do you wear that mask all the time. Even the other spriggan have taken theirs off to join in the festivities.”
“As you can see, I’m still doing my job. If they want to slack off and you’re just fine with that, then they can do whatever they want.”
“Jeez! You’re impossible!” He huffed, crossing his arms and sitting where his body guard had been sitting before. “Can’t you ever just relax, Keith?” Hearing his name, the spriggan jolted. The fairy stared sullenly at him. “Yes, I know your name. You really aren’t as observant as you think you are, and I’m much more observant than I pretend to be.”
“I’m observant.” Keith growled. “I knew you were here the whole time. And don’t pout, if you wanted me to say your name then just tell me you want me to say it.”
“No.” Lance sighed, looking away from the fuming spirit. “You’ll know the exact moment you need to say my name, and I won’t even need to ask.”
“I doubt it.” Keith sighed, refusing to sit down in his old spot now that his lord sat there. “I assume you’re here because you’re bored.”
“Absolutely.” Lance finally looked back at him. “Will you accompany me?”
“I assume I have no choice?”
“Sure you do, I’d love to sit here bothering you all night.” Lance winked at Keith. The spriggan didn’t notice the way the fairy’s smile faltered as he scoffed.
“Lets go, at least then I won’t have to talk to you when you have other people to catch your attention.”
“Hmm.” Lance noncommittally hummed. “Only the most interesting people ever catch my attention.”
“I’ve been your assigned guard since I took the post, my lord. Everyone catches your attention.”
“Hmm.” Lance repeated as he held out a hand.
Keith ignored it, walking towards the lights of the festival. “I’m here to keep you alive, not on your feet.”
“Good, cause you keep sweeping me off of them.”
“I literally never did that?” Keith looks back, confused.
“Nevermind. Walk me to the bonfire, spriggan.” Lance grumbled, getting up and following the guardian creature.
As they walk, Lance constantly makes idle chatter with those they pass. He never pauses his pace, keeping up with Keith perfectly, but never comes off as rude and starts and ends conversations so naturally that even Keith can’t help but admire his annoying charge. It wasn’t his first time in the middle of a moonlit fairy party, but Keith knew that if he wasn’t marching Lance to a set destination, he would be horribly anxious and tense. He already is, but he’d be even more so. Their eyes met for a moment, Lance not even trying to hide the wink he sends towards Keith. Keith notices the prolonged look the small green fey is giving him, and he turns away from her gaze. His fingers slide over the smooth copper of his knives to calm himself.
“My lord, we’re here.” Keith sighs when the bonfire is within sight. “I will leave you to dance and resume my post-”
“No, you will dance with me.”
“No, I really won’t.” He instantly deadpans, crossing his arms.
Lance doesn’t seem taken aback, he had to know it was coming. “Why not?”
“No one wants a spriggan dancing at their festivities, my lord.” Keith sighed, rolling his eyes. He knew Lance couldn’t see the action, but by the way the fey’s lips pulled back into a deep frown, he assumed Lance got the action from his tone.
“I want you dancing. With me. Say, if only to cure my curiosity.” Normally Keith would have immediately denied the impulsive lord a reaction. As it happened, today was still a normal day for Keith. “Fine. You be boring over here, I’m going to have fun at least.”
“Please, for both our sakes, do.”
“You’re impossible sometimes.” Lance pouted as he walked up to the nearest fey, a bright yellow fey with long hair tied with copper beads. Nyma, Lance’s constant fling in the court. Keith watched them dance, eyes hazing over with boredom as his gaze followed the elegant sweeping motions of their bodies. It wasn’t until Nyma pulled Lance closer, their chests not even far enough apart to fit a finger between them at most points, that Keith frowned and looked away. The fairy court were flirtatious and didn’t know boundaries. That’s why his charge acted that way towards him. That’s why Keith kept his distance, making sure Lance never got close enough to understand how much those words managed to get under his skin. Those sweet words only Lance would whisper to him.
Suddenly a hand tugged on his own, causing Keith to jump. It was the green fey from before. “Let's dance.”
“Was that a question?”
“Exactly, come on.” The tiny fairy in no way outmatched Keith in strength, but he appreciated her straightforward way of speaking. Even though Keith was taller and the man, the younger fey led the dance. It was awkward and more than once Keith had to stop to regain his composure before he snapped at the little fey. “I know, I’m terrible. I’m not really the dancing type. I normally stay closer to the food than the bonfire.”
“Then why force me to dance?”
“I didn’t force you. You could have continued to refuse me like you did Lance, but you caved in almost instantly. Why do you resist so much with him? He’s always sad when you ignore him. Then me and Hunk have to sit and listen to him whine for hours. I figure all that community service pays in information. It’s time to pay your share of the bill.”
“He talks about me?” Keith whispers, nervous. “What does he say?”
“Ask him yourself, guard dog. You master realized I’d let you off the leash for a moment.” The fey gave him an enigmatic grin before walking away. Keith turned to see Lance with a dark expression on his face stomping towards him.
“Get back here Pidge! What sort of bewitchment did you place on my guard? Pidge!” Keith’s mouth fell slightly open in shock at the anger in the normally calm fairy, especially when it was turned onto him. “So you’ll dance with a stranger but not with me?”
“You don’t know she’s a stranger to me.”
“She is literally one of my best friends. Yes I do, indeed, know.”
“She seemed to know me pretty well.” Keith crossed his arms, since Lance wouldn’t be able to tell by his facial expression that he wasn’t taking the fey’s obvious lies.
“Uh, okay. No.” Lance couldn’t hide the panicked expression on his face fast enough for Keith to not catch it. “Why-” He looked down, for once refusing to keep eye contact with his guard while they talked. “Why would you dance with her and not me?”
“She’s cuter?” Keith joked, though his voice lacked humor to give away his intentions.
“Oh.” Keith expected some banter, some self-praise coming from Lance. Instead, the fey gave him a confusing look and walked towards the edge of the clearing. Stupefied, Keith followed him.
“Are you really that mad I didn’t want to dance with you? You could barely call what we were doing dancing. She was terrible.”
“You were probably terrible.”
“She refused to let me lead. I have no evidence I am bad or good.” Lance still refused to look at Keith, who shift from foot to foot. “What I mean is-” He coughed, biting his lip before continuing. “There is nothing that bothers me more than not knowing my limitations. That told me nothing.”
“It told you you’re a terrible dancer. Good thing I didn’t have to force myself to dance with you.”
Keith felt his face go hot with anger. “Will you stop pouting! I’m saying I’ll dance with you, you idiot!” He shoved his hand out towards Lance, silently demanding he take it.
Lance’s mouth fell open, his cheeks tinting a dark blue. “What?”
“Just take my hand already! This sucks.”
“Don’t force yourself.” Lance muttered, leaning further back into his seat. Keith let out a frustrated hiss and pulled the idiot to his feet and back out towards the fire.
Lance just stared emotionlessly at Keith as the spriggan tried to mimic the hand placements he’d seen Lance use so many times before. The only problem was he’d never paid attention before, dancing never interested him in the slightest. The only time he paid enough attention to memorize every movement and placement had been-
Taking a deep breath, feeling his face heat up even as he stepped closer to Lance, Keith pulled Lance into him like he’d seen Nyma do earlier. To his slight satisfaction, Lance certainly looked surprised and finally lost the angry pout he’d been sporting earlier. Keith’s adams apple bobbed as he started to move both of them along to the music, slowly at first but soon Lance had found his rhythm and pulled both of them into a fast paced jig. Keith wanted to laugh and vomit as Lance spun him around and around before pulling him straight back into his arms.
Sooner than Keith wanted it to, the song ended. Though another began immediately after, the pause had been enough to break the spell. Both boys panted and stared at each other. The stone mask made catching his breath hard, and Keith doubled over to try and calm his breathing. “Shit, that was intense. No wonder you guys stay so fit.”
“Are you okay?” Lance’s concern with tinged with a slightly mocking tone. Keith looked up to see a glimmer of laughter in his crystal blue eyes. “Sorry, didn’t mean to work your body so hard the first time.”
“Shut. Up. My. Lord.” Keith gasped, finally caving in and shifting the mask up so his mouth was open to the air. Soon his breathing returned to normal and he realized Lance had been staring at him the whole time. “What?”
“This is the second time I’ve seen your face.”
Keith’s heart dropped, anxiety filling his chest. “You’ve seen my face?”
“As much as I can see right now.”
“Why don’t you ever remove your mask? You do know no other spriggan wears them outside of court.”
“I’m never outside of court.”
“We’re outside of court right now.” Lance whispered, reaching towards the mask before Keith jerked away from his hands.
Lance threw up his hands. “Why? Why can’t I see your face?”
“Because- because-” Keith stumbled, feeling stupid even as he forced the words out. “Because I’m a monster and everyone in court is perfect and you’re going to hate my face and this is so stupid-”
“Yeah,” Lance chuckled, forcing Keith’s hands aside as he wrestled the mask off of the struggling boy. “You really are.”
With a flourish, Lance pulled away Keith’s mask to reveal bright red cheeks and panic filled purple eyes. Slightly wincing at Keith’s grip on his wrist, trying to pull the mask back onto his face, Lance tried to talk with a steady voice. “Why did I have to wait to see this again?”
“I’m hideous. Spriggan are monstrous. I tried to hard not to break court etiquette, not to show my face and offend you- why?” Keith felt frustrated tears prick at the corners of his eyes but he bit them back.
“Because you are, and always have been, the most captivating and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Only you have held my full attention since the moment we met.” Lance caught Keith around the waist and dipped him, bringing their lips together in a soft, short kiss before bringing them both back to their feet.
Lance pulled away, a soft smile on his face. Keith’s eyes matched the deep color of the crystal eyes on that mask he was always forced to look at, but Lance almost had trouble breathing as he took in the way the real things reflected in the bonfire’s light. Keith’s lips trembled as he tried and failed to form all the words his eyes were conveying to Lance, who, to his credit, patiently waited for him. He was not a patient creature, as most fey are not, yet he found the tension of waiting for those words he most wanted to hear from those flushed lips to be a very exciting game.
Keith squeezed Lance’s wrist which still held his mask within their tight grip. “Lance.” Keith whispered, leaning ever so slightly forward.
Lance let out a contented sigh. “So you do know my name.”
“Shut up, I told you I did.” Keith frowned, feeling stupid and anxious and thrilled and-
“I’d love to shut us both up.” Lance pulled Keith closer, casting him into the shadows of the burning fire. They both closed their eyes, feeling their way over each others cheeks and hair. “I knew you wanted me.” Lance chuckled.
“Lance-” Keith growled.
“Shut up. I can do that.”
“Watch me try.” For once, Keith had a smile mirroring Lance’s own. A smile Lance didn’t have to imagine or pretend was there. This was Keith’s real face, the first time he’d really seen his full true face. This time it was Keith who grabbed the collar of Lance’s very fancy and expensive court suit and pulled him in for a rough yet sweet kiss. Lance didn’t even both to tell Keith he was going to wrinkle the outfit, not that even he cared at that point. He was busy kissing the boy with blood on his clothes and crystals in his eyes.