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Even before Lance had come barging into his room at the ass crack of dawn, Keith was having a shit week. He had failed his language test, had gotten a call from Shiro telling him that his dog, Cosmo, was sick, he nearly got run over by a car (how unfortunate ) and had been working the late shift at work, meaning he was sleep deprived and the bags under his eyes and his levels of grumpiness were getting out of hand.

Stupid Garrison University. Stupid moment I decided to study astrophysics and wanted to become a fighter pilot.

He had just gotten out of the shower, getting rid of the smell of alcohol, smoke and sweat. He hated working at bars, but it got the bills paid. He had just fallen into his bed when Lance burst in.

"I need your help!" Lance threw the door open so hard, it smacked against the wall with a loud thud.

Keith would have winced if he wasn't so tired. "What do you want, Lance?" His tone implied he was done with his entire life already.

"I need you to be my pretend boyfriend."

Keith blinked at Lance before turning the other way. "I can't deal with this now. Come back when I'm functioning properly."

"But we have class later and won't be able to talk until tonight."

"Exactly." He brought the blanket closer to himself. He felt Lance staring a hole into his head. His eyebrow twitched before he flung the blanket off in annoyance and turned to face Lance. "What?" He glared at Lance as the latter walked in and lied on the bed.

"Don't be such a grump." Lance pouted.

Keith could see him clearly due to the light from the lamp post filtering in through a crack in the blinds. His hair was fluffy and he looked soft in his over-worn baseball tee and boxers. Lance's eyes were hopeful as he began to speak. "Well. You know it's, like Christmas break soon and I was wondering if you were up to be my fake boyfriend."

Keith groaned. "What did you do now?" He rubbed an eye, managing to keep the other open to look at Lance.

"Everyone was asking if I had someone and well I said yes. Veronica asked me who and well, I said you."

"You what ?"

"I panicked! I'm sorry!"

Keith took a deep breath to calm the irritation bubbling in his chest. "Why would you say me? Of all people."

Lance looked sheepish as he spoke, fiddling with the blanket. "I don't know. I guess it's because you're the most realistic choice. Pidge isn't into anyone, they all know Matt isn't my type and Hunk's my best friend and has a girlfriend. And Shiro and Adam are just a no for obvious reasons."

"What about Allura?"

Lance laughed at that. "Are you insane? My family wouldn't believe that for a second." He let out a sigh. "Please, Keith. They know you. You know them. No awkward introductions. And you're comfortable around them!"

Keith felt his eyebrow twitch again. "Fuck. Fine. Just let me fucking sleep." He turned away from Lance.

"Thank you, Keith." Lance sighed, content.

Keith didn't feel Lance get off the bed. "If you're going to stay, you better not snore." He managed to slur out, sleep already starting to envelop him.

Lance scoffed, offended. "I don't snore." He grumbled, casually slinging an arm around Keith as he got under the blanket.

Keith felt his heart stutter in his chest. He hoped Lance didn't feel that. He felt like he was going to have a hard time during the stay at Lance's home.

Keith had developed feelings for Lance sometime around their high school days. It was during their sophomore year when Lance was with his then girlfriend Nyma that Keith felt something bubbling in his stomach. He'd brushed it off, telling himself it was stupid. He knew it wasn't something good, but he pushed it to the back of his mind every single time it happened. He thought it was stupid how irritated he was feeling.

It wasn't until one day that Lance had blown off Keith for the third time in a row that he snapped. He had yelled at Lance, asking if Nyma was more important than their friendship of years. Lance had yelled that maybe she was.

Keith had seen the pure regret in Lance's eyes the moment the words slipped out of his mouth. The blue-eyed teen had tried to apologize, but Keith had held up a hand, stopping him. He had looked Lance straight in the eye and said, 'when she does something to you, don't come crying to me.'

Keith didn't regret it at the moment. He was mad at Lance and wanted to hurt him as much as Lance hurt him. He realized he missed Lance and the ache in his chest wouldn't minimize. It would grow the more he would see Lance in class and the hallways. Especially with Nyma.

Pidge tried to comfort Keith because ' some friendships don't last forever. ' It hurt a lot more than Keith thought.

Keith knew it wasn't just friendship at that point. He hadn't cared about anyone as much as Lance (except for Shiro.)

"It isn't just friendship, Pidge."

Pidge looked confused as they looked at Keith from their workbook, glasses slightly askew. "What do you mean?" They questioned, curiosity in their voice.

Keith pondered over this one too many times. "I like him, Pidge." He confessed, a blush appearing on his cheeks. " Like, like him."

Pidge was unamused. "You're so dumb. Everyone could tell just by looking at you looking at him. He's just too dumb to notice it. You're both stupid."

Keith had sputtered out a reply, but it was too incoherent to understand. It wasn't until a month later that Lance walked into Keith's room and flopped on him, apologizing profusely for everything.

"I'm so sorry, Keith. I was such an asshole to you, I didn't realize. I'm so sorry."

Keith felt Lance's shoulders shaking from the concealed sobs, but the wet feeling on his shirt gave Lance away. Keith had to admit that he was still upset about the whole thing, but he knew he was able to forgive Lance in time.

Now, Keith didn't know what to feel because Lance hadn't been with someone since Plaxum, his other ex-girlfriend that he dated during senior year up until freshman year. Keith wondered if Lance was sparing his feelings. He shook his head, those were stupid thoughts. His best friend didn't know how he felt.

He willed away the upsetting thoughts from the past and turned to face Lance who was already asleep. He decided to indulge himself and cuddled closer to Lance. They had cuddled many times before, but Keith would feel his heart stutter in his chest whenever Lance would cuddle closer or tighten his arm. It felt nice. He felt safe and warm. Like nothing could hurt or touch him. He thought it was a stupid thing to feel because he could protect himself. But having Lance curled around him made him feel some type of way.

He wished it was like that every night, but he knew it was like asking Lance to stop being so gorgeous. Or for his eyes to stop being so blue. Or for his smiles to stop being so bright because they always blinded Keith in the best way.

He needed to get some sleep.

When he woke up, it was a little past ten. A solid six hours was better than he expected. He had an essay to hand in, so he washed his face and brushed his teeth before sitting in front of his laptop for a solid three hours. He was prone to procrastinate a little.

He hadn't noticed how much time had passed until he heard Lance opening the front door and talking with someone. He was 200 words away, so he got up to greet Lance and whoever was with him. He needed to leave soon because he had class in an hour and a half.

Lance was talking vividly (like always) with a girl with long blonde hair and, strange enough, purple eyes. She was soft looking, but her eyes could tear down worlds with a look. Much like Allura. If Keith was honest, she radiated lesbian aura.

"Keith!" Lance smiled when he saw his sleep deprived friend. "This is Romelle. She's my partner for my new biology project. Romelle, this emo is Keith."

"Fuck you, Lance." He huffed and turned to Romelle, look softer. "Hi, Romelle."

She smiled at him politely. "Hi, Keith."

Instead of engaging in conversation like any other human being (read: Shiro), Keith grabbed the cereal box from the pantry and went back to his room. Lance was protesting because that wasn't lunch.

"I just need to survive, Lance." Keith deadpanned and shut the door. He was bullshitting his way through college and he gave absolutely no fucks. Especially with literature. He had no time to read Romeo and Juliet all over again. Once in high school was enough. (He didn't read it.)

Classes came and went. He had to re-print his essay at the library because their old-as-fuck printer jammed. He wasn't amused. Seven dollars for an essay? Fuck that.

Lance was sitting on the couch, reading from his textbook when Keith was back. "Dinner's on the stove." He informed without looking up. Keith thought he looked very cute and intelectual with his glasses on. He didn't know why Lance always opted for his contacts when his glasses made him look so much cuter.

He shook his head. He was hungry, as he hadn't eaten anything aside from the cereal he had for 'lunch.' He ate quietly at the table, watching Lance stress himself out. He plopped on the couch next to Lance after finishing. He didn't think twice when Lance patted his thigh. He plopped his head on it.

"I'm so tired." He mumbled. "I don't feel like a human."

Lance snorted. "You're not human anyways."

"Fuck you, Lance."

Lance grinned. "I get we're going to fake date, but we aren't going that far."

Keith, in his sleep deprived daze, had forgotten about that. He sat up straight to face his friend. "I need the intel on that."

"Ugh. You always make it sound like it's some mission or something." Lance turned to face Keith, resting the side of his body on the back rest. "It's just for ten days for Christmas back home."

"Home as in Florida? Or home as in Cuba?"

"Cuba. We always throw big parties for the holidays. It's awesome!" He looked wistful as he spoke. "Mom said they would pay for your ticket and everything."

"What? No!" Keith protested. "I'm not letting your mom pay."

Lance rolled his blue eyes. "You know she's not going to let you pay, right? I said I would pay but she said she would disown me if I did."

"Can I at least pay for half? I have enough saved."

Lance slowly raised his left eyebrow.

"Fuck fine." Keith grumbled, crossing his arms. "I need to tell Shiro. He and Adam were expecting me."

"Already taken care of. Said they're going to spend it with Adam's family."

Keith frowned. "He didn't tell me anything."

"Have you checked your phone?"

Keith didn't respond. It was answer enough.

Lance had not been lying when he said it was going to be hot in Cuba. Keith wasn't used to weather this, so he was already sweating. Yes, it was hot in Florida but not as hot as Cuba. He was just glad they got through the immigration progress. It was annoying. He was tired as they had to take two planes and the wait between flights was of three hours. He was very annoyed.

During that period of time, Lance had explained how they were to deal with the situation. Cheek kisses, hugging, cuddling and hand holding were okay. Neither were too sure about actual kissing, so they vetoed that idea. Keith was also nervous that he would let his feelings show through the kiss. It was a big no from him, personally.

The airport was crowded, and Keith had just enough height to only see the back of other people's head. He could stand on toes, but he didn't feel like it. Besides, Lance was already doing it. He was about to ask Lance if he saw any of his family members when a tug on his hand answered him.

"Vero!" Lance exclaimed and nearly tackled his older sister to the floor.

Keith remembered her vaguely as she had moved to different places as her husband was in the Army. She had changed a lot. She looked much more mature than Keith remembered. Her brown hair was shorter but her brown eyes were as bright as ever.

He looked away, feeling like he was prying into a private moment.

"Keith?"

He looked up and saw Veronica with opened arms. He smiled sheepishly and hugged her. "How've you been?" She asked, hands on his shoulders.

"I've been good."

"You're still as cute as ever." She grinned making him blush. "And I'm still Lance's cooler older sister." Her grin turned into a mischievous one. She held Lance in a headlock and gave him a good noogie making Keith grin.

The ride to the house was shorter than Keith expected. Or maybe it wasn't as he was distracted with the scenery. It was so different from middle of fucking nowhere Arizona. So much greenery and beaches. The azure color of the ocean had Keith mesmerized.

When they arrived at the house, Keith knew he was going to feel right at home. It was a white, two story house with toys and bikes scattered outside on the lawn. At the door were four children that started to run towards the car the moment Veronica parked.

Keith let out a rather unattractive snort as Lance was tackled onto his ass by his three nephews and niece. They were all yelling something different in a mix of English and Spanish that Keith did not understand a word of.

"Welcome to Cuba." Veronica chuckled. "Can you four please let him breathe. There's a guest."

All four kids looked up, eyes falling on Keith.

"Keith!" They shrieked and nearly tackled him to the floor as well. He grinned as he hugged Carlos, Manuel, Mariana and Miguel. They bombarded him with questions as to why he was there in the motherland, how did he get there, how he was doing.

"Are you really tío Lance's boyfriend?!"

Keith chuckled and nodded, ruffling Mariana's hair. "Yes, I am. And I'm here to celebrate Christmas with all of you."

The four kids cheered before hugging Keith again. If Keith was honest, he missed them. He watched them grow until he and Lance moved to university and being able to see them again was fulfilling. Veronica ushered the kids inside, letting Lance and Keith take their things inside.

"There's going to be a full house soon. Marco and Luis haven't arrived yet." Lance warned. "If you feel overwhelmed, let me know, okay?" He had a hand on Keith's shoulder, reassuringly.

Keith nodded. "Thank you, Lance."

Keith had gotten overwhelmed one time while celebrating Lance's 8th birthday. Lance had asked to stay in Florida, so Keith could be there to celebrate it. The house was kind of full and Keith had gotten so overwhelmed he started crying. Shiro had to go and pick him up.

If there was one thing Keith loved about Lance was how caring he was. It didn't matter if it was a complete stranger, he would be caring towards anything and anyone. It always made Keith feel warm whenever he saw Lance be so gentle and caring. Even more if it involved kids.

They went inside only for Lance to receive the same treatment minus being tackled to the ground by his mother. Laura nearly crushed his bones and looked at him lovingly. Skype calls and FaceTime were no justice and not enough.

" Te extrañé, mijo ."

Lance smiled at his mom, eyes watery. " Yo también , ma."

"Keith." She smiled warmly and hugged him as tightly as she had Lance. "How have you been?" Her accent was thick and it made Keith want to tear up because he missed her as much as Lance had. She had been there in the absence of his mother. This woman was like a mother to him and he loved her so much it hurt.

"I'm good. Feels nice to finally have a break. Thank you for having me."

"Ay, don't worry about that. We're glad you're here. Aunque , Lance told me Shiro was a little reluctant."

Keith huffed. "He was. But he's with Adam's family this year."

Laura asked about how Adam, Matt, Pidge, Hunk and Allura were doing. After talking for a little, Lance pulled Keith to his room so they could could relax a little. (They didn't.) They showered and went to the living room where everyone was. Lance plopped on the couch and pulled Keith to sit on the arm rest as the other chairs were occupied. It wasn't the most comfortable position he was in but it was worth it.

Keith felt warmth bloom on his lower back when Lance placed his hand there, rubbing it absentmindedly. At least, Keith thought it was absentmindedly. Lance had a tendency of showing affection in many ways. A hug, a squeeze on the shoulder or arm, a pat on the head, a ruffle of the hair, sometimes rather loud and obnoxious kisses on the cheek that left the other person laughing and pushing his face away.

Keith was the only person who didn't push him away. Everyone thought it was because they had been best friends since forever but he, Pidge, Matt, Adam and Shiro knew otherwise.

It wasn't long until Keith was on Lance's lap. It was a little awkward for him but the squeeze on his hip was reassurance enough.

Before dinner, Laura asked if Lance could help. Keith butted in, saying he would help as well. He always helped when he went to Lance's house back in Florida and now that they were in Cuba wouldn't change it.

Preparation was filled with chatter. Keith updated Laura on Shiro's research at the lab he worked in alongside Matt.

"You were serious when you said you'd help, huh?" Lance tugged on the apron Keith was wearing, smile on his face.

Keith nodded as he stirred the beans. "I always loved cooking with your mom." He leaned against the island and watched as Mariana colored. She was careful around the edges, tongue sticking out in concentration.

"Do you want to color?" She asked, offering Keith a purple crayon when she noticed him staring.

"Of course." He took the crayon and started to color the starfish on the other page. He asked her how she was, what was her favorite color (she always changed), who her best friend was and if she liked school. Her face was answer enough. "Who's your favorite uncle?" He flashed a mischievous grin at Lance.

Mariana seemed to ponder, tapping her crayon against her chin. She pointed at Lance who cheered.

"She says the same about Marco." Veronica said as she raided the fridge. "Don't feel so special." Her tone was in jest as she looked at Lance.

"He's special to me." Keith turned pink the second he said that. He wanted the ground to open and swallow him whole. He hated the fact that his impulse control was little to none.

"Aw, Keith." Lance pinched his cheek and wrapped his arms around him in a side hug.

"Shut up." Keith grumbled and continued to color, cheeks as pink as the crayon in Mariana's hand.

The next morning, Keith woke up to someone jumping on the bed. He grumbled at Manuel's voice. "We're going to the beach!"

Keith really wanted to keep sleeping but Lance sitting up suddenly jolted him enough to fall flat on his back on the floor. He landed with a thud and a groan. "Seriously, Lance. So much space and you just had to hog the bed."

"Sorry." Lance said sheepishly.

It was a full-sized bed. It wasn't the most comfortable fit, but it worked enough for them. If there was one con of sleeping with Lance, was that he was a real bed and blanket hogger.

After getting ready, they headed to the kitchen for breakfast. Keith liked being in the same space as the McClain's. There was always chatter, and it made him feel at home. The house was a short five-minute walk to the beach, so cars weren't necessary. Laura literally covered Keith in sunscreen.

"We don't want a repeat of the day at the pool."

Veronica and Lance snickered. Keith's face flushed in embarrassment. "I thought everyone forgot about that." He mumbled.

"Dude, you were literally the color of a tomato for almost two weeks. And then peeled for another." Lance chuckled, putting sunscreen on his face. He would tan, Keith knew, but Lance hated peeling. Especially his face. And he was careful of the sun's UV rays or whatever it was.

"Lance. It's not nice to call your boyfriend dude." Laura chastised with a frown.

"He doesn't mind." Lance smirked, arm around Keith's shoulders. "Right, baby?"

Keith flicked his forehead. "Shut up, asshat."

Lance exclaimed indignantly, as the children laughed. "Ma!"

Laura raised her arms in defeat. "I do suggest keeping the swear words to a minimum."

Keith grinned cockily at Lance who was glaring at him.

At the shore, Keith watched as Lance rough housed with his nephews. It was a sight he wanted ingrained in his brain. The waves weren't high, so he sat down, letting the water lick at his legs.

"Not going in?"

Keith looked up at Veronica who handed him a pouch and a hat. "Later. Just want to enjoy the sun a bit."

"Be careful. Re-apply, okay? And I'm not joking."

He nodded and took a sip of the drink in the pouch. It most definitely wasn't juice. The amount of alcohol in that small pouch was like a smack to Keith's face. Veronica chuckled and went to join the others in the water.

Lance joined Keith after who knows how long. He plopped next to Keith who was on his third pouch of Palo Viejo and second layer of sunscreen.

"How are you liking it?"

Keith hummed. "It's beautiful here. The water's great." He wiggled his toes into the sand. "Might get in the water later. It's nice just sitting here."

Lance nodded. "Do you think we're doing a good job? At, you know."

Keith shrugged. He had been in relationships before, but they weren't very touchy feely. "I think so?"

"That's not convincing." Lance grinned, knocking their shoulders together lightly.

"It might be if you get me another of these." Keith held up the empty pouch, a pout on his face.

Lance stared at him before groaning. "Stupid puppy face." He grumbled under his breath as he took the pouch from Keith's hand.

Keith chuckled because a pouting Lance was a fucking cute Lance.

When Lance handed Keith his drink, the former sat behind the latter, spreading his legs so Keith was between his legs. The raven-haired man got comfortable as he drank. Keith enjoyed sitting with Lance, even more with his back pressed against Lance's chest. It was new, but he liked it. They decided to join the rest in the water.

Keith was beginning to feel the buzz of alcohol in his veins, so he cut himself off. He was an honest drunk and he really didn't that. Getting tipsy was how Shiro and Adam found out he was head over heels for Lance. He would have either confessed to Lance or told the entire family they weren't really dating. It wasn't going to go well.

Even with all of the layers of sunscreen, Keith still managed to burn himself. Not a lot, but still. His shoulder and the bridge of his nose were red. He had taken a shower and could feel the heat radiating off his skin. It was uncomfortable, and he wished he wore more sunscreen or took refuge in the shade for a while. He was having trouble with putting on his shirt and thought 'fuck it' before walking out of the bathroom shirtless. It wasn't like anyone hadn't seen him without it before.

Lance was waiting for him on the bed, aloe gel in his hands.

"Please don't laugh." He muttered as he sat on the bed, his back to Lance.

Lance gave no warning of pouring the gel on Keith's shoulder. The latter swore.

"Fuck, Lance. Can't you give a guy a warning."

Lance chuckled. "Sorry, sorry."

Keith was blissed out, the gel cooling his heated shoulders. Lance was a good massager, so he shut his eyes, close to falling asleep.

"You should sleep before dinner." Lance advised as he stood.

"I'm fine." Keith mumbled, eyelids heavy. He liked the way Lance looked. He was tanner and made his eyes looks bluer and smile brighter.

"Sure, you are." Lance turned on the overhead fan and watched Keith fall face first into a pillow. He was already knocked out.

Keith didn't know at what time he woke up. It was already dark out and he could see the nightlife bustling about from the window.

"Keith?"

He turned towards the door where Mariana was poking her head in.

"Dinner's ready. Tío is coming with the thing for your back." She spoke carefully, not wanting to mess up her sentence.

"Thank you." He stood from the bed and searched for a tank top. Finding nothing, he grabbed one form Lance's suitcase and ever so carefully slid it on. He was hungry and couldn't wait to eat so instead of waiting, he walked out. He wasn't expecting Lance to be rounding the corner to the stairs, so they bumped into each other. Literally.

Lance lost his balance, grabbing onto the first thing he could: Keith's shoulder. He cried out in pain, accidentally letting Lance fall to the ground as he jerked away.

"Shit. Lance. Are you okay?" He asked, quickly helping Lance up.

"Yeah, I'm okay." Lance assured. "Sorry for grabbing your shoulder."

Keith swallowed at their proximity. Their chests were almost touching, hands still tangled. "It's... it's fine." His eyes flickered to Lance's mouth so quick, the latter missed it.

Lance smiled and brushed away Keith's bangs form his forehead before kissing it. Keith was grateful he was burned because he was sure his cheeks would've been the same color because of the blush creeping up on his cheeks. Lance stroked Keith's cheek with his thumb but pulled away when Veronica came up behind him.

"What were you doing?"

"Nothing!" He sounded panicked and ushered Keith up the stairs and to his room. Keith was snickering as Lance closed the door.

"Relax, man." Keith sat on the bed. "That's what they're expecting from us."

Lance mumbled something under his breath and sat on the bed. Keith took off his shirt enough for Lance to put on the gel. His thoughts drifted somewhere else. He was thinking what it would be like if Lance used his hands on his back in a completely different context that wasn't rubbing gel onto his sunburned shoulders. Maybe, sinking onto his chest as Lance rode him, or pulling on his hair as he sucked Lance's dick.

He had to remind himself that Lance was right fucking there and needed to stop being the gutter. Because his mind wasn't in the gutter, oh no. It was the gutter.

"Done."

"Thanks."

Keith followed Lance out of the room, trying to hide the fact that his dick was half way to hard already. He was glad he could hide it underneath the table because that would have been fucking horrible if someone noticed it.

As Lance and Keith were doing the dishes, someone screamed out "Papi!" Lance froze from cleaning a dish and looked towards the living room. Luis, the eldest son, had walked in. Keith gently took the plate from Lance's hand telling him to go. Lance smacked a grateful kiss on Keith's cheek before running to his brother.

If Keith was honest, doing the dishes calmed him. It was methodical. Nothing changed. Wipe, rinse, put on the rack, repeat.

"Keith!"

Keith almost dropped the glass in his hand. He turned to glare at Lance who smiled sheepishly.

"Luis is asking for you." Lance looked at his brother, eyes sparkling with happiness.

Keith dried his hands and went to hug Lance's brother. They talked briefly as Luis was tired from traveling. He had been traveling all day from California. Keith went back to finishing the dishes, listening to the upbeat chatter from the living room. It was a little overwhelming but nothing he couldn't handle. He knew more people were coming. Luis's wife was currently at her parent's home but would soon join the McClain's and Marco and his wife were to arrive the next day.

He leaned on the counter, trying to get his breathing under control.

"Keith?"

Lance's worried voice filled his ears. He turned to face his crush. The worried look in his eyes made Keith's heart drop. He hated seeing Lance worry about him. "I'm okay. Just a little overwhelmed, but I'll be fine."

Lance stepped in front of him. "Are you sure? We can go around town. It isn't too late. Show you around a bit."

"I'm fine, Lance. Don't worry, okay?" He could tell Lance wasn't convinced.

Lance took his hand and pulled him to the backyard. The terrace wasn't long like the one at home, it was smaller, but the yard was a little bigger. Lance guided him to the hammock hanging between two trees. They sat down, swinging it softly, almost absentmindedly.

Keith could feel his heart relax a little. He was never good with so many people. It wasn't that he hadn't seen all of these people in one room before it just had been a while since it happened.

"Thank you." Keith played with the hem of the hammock, eyes meeting Lance's.

"I know you, Keith. You were literally lying straight through your teeth. I know what you're feeling just by looking at you, man."

Keith smiled weakly. If only Lance knew how he truly felt about him.

Luis's wife, Marco and his wife arrived the next day around noon. Keith got the same treatment from them as he had from Luis. He was grateful for that.

The day was filled with playing with the nephews and niece, food and playing dominoes. Eldest brother versus Keith and Lance. Keith and Lance were way too strategic and won every game. During the night, they decided to go to a local restaurant owned by Laura's friend. It was local food, so Keith was enjoying it. The flavors exploded in his mouth and it was taking everything in him not to moan in delight.

"Someone's enjoying it." Veronica grinned at Keith.

Keith nodded and wiped at his mouth with a napkin. "It's really good!" His dark eyes were bright in glee. He hadn't felt this happy all semester. He was happy he came along for this trip. A whole new experience he wanted to cherish.

Lance's brothers asked them how college was going and how they had gotten together. On the plane they had made an entire story that Lance had realized his "feelings" for Keith during a night out with friends and asked him out the next day without even planning anything. Luis and Marco joked that he really wanted to go out with Keith as soon as possible because he didn't plan anything big like he had with Nyma and Plaxum. Lance pouted at that while Keith was chuckling. Keith patted his thigh in faux pity. It was true. Lance had planned how to ask Nyma and Plaxum out for a few days before doing so. Keith had been his wingman every time.

Keith couldn't sleep that night. He was trying very hard not to toss and turn but it was impossible. He didn't want to wake Lance so he carefully stood from the bed and grabbed his phone before sneaking downstairs and out to the backyard. He lied on the hammock, reading a book in his phone. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was quickly becoming his favorite. He had read three chapters when the door opened. He glanced at it and saw Lance looking sleepy, hair sticking out in odd angles.

"Why are you here?" He mumbled, dragging his feet towards Keith.

"I couldn't sleep. Why are you here?" He moved to make space for Lance who lied next to Keith.

"Woke up to use the bathroom. You weren't there." Lance rested his head on Keith's bicep, arm slung around his waist. "Why can't you sleep?"

"I don't know." The dark eyed man shrugged his shoulders and continued to read, hand in Lance's hair as he swung them the tiniest bit. He wished they could stay like that forever, but Keith knew it was only for ten days. This was going to break his heart to pieces, but he didn't care.

Christmas shopping for 11 people was messy. Lance and Keith had went to the stores near the house, but he didn't know what to get anyone. He already had Lance's gift which he was surprised Lance hadn't seen it. Lance told him he didn't need to buy them anything but he was stubborn and Lance could not change his mind. Christmas Day was four days away so the stores were all packed.

Luckily, he found everyone something - after a solid hour - and could leave quickly. He wasn't very fond of shopping. He either shopped online or when he really needed something.

At the house, he and Lance had to sprint up the stairs to avoid anyone seeing the things they bought. They hid them around Lance's room where the kids couldn't reach or climb on something. They had just hidden the last gift when the door burst open.

"Tío!"

" Dios mío, Carlos. No grites ." Lance scowled.

"Papi's looking for you." Carlos grinned and scurried off.

"He's a loud one." Keith chuckled, closing the closet. "You should head down. I'll clean up." He started to clean the mess of bags and receipts they left in their hurry of putting everything away. He reached under the bed to grab a wayward receipt when he felt something scratch is hand. He let out a yelp and retracted his hand. Four thin lines were on his hand, bleeding the tiniest bit. He popped his head and saw a cat. Three days he had been there and had not seen it.

"What the fuck?"

It was a gray cat with darker spots all around its body, a blue collar around its neck. Its eyes were slits and Keith could tell it was in high alert.

"What are you doing?"

Keith didn't have to look to know it was Lance. "You have a fucking cat and didn't tell me."

"I thought you knew. Vero takes care of her for me." Lance looked under the bed. "Hey, Blue. Come here girl." He reached his hand out and Keith watched as Blue rubbed her head against Lance's hand. "She's harmless."

"She scratched me!" Keith held up his hand, showing Lance the thin scratches.

"Everyone knows not to stick their hand under my bed but me, Keith."

"I didn't get the memo." Keith mumbled. "I'm gonna go wash my hand." Once done, Lance was waiting outside the bathroom with Blue in his arms.

"She's here to apologize." He held her up as if she was Simba, her body looking longer than it normally would be.

Blue was staring at Keith with a blank look, tail swishing side to side. She let out a little mew that melted Keith.

"Fine. I guess you're cute." She scratched the top of her head and felt her purr. "I can't believe I never noticed her." She clung to him by the bracelet he wore.

"Aw, she likes you!" Lance placed her in Keith's arm who was suddenly stiff.

"Uh, Lance."

"God, you really don't know how to deal with cats do you?"

"That's why I have a dog." Keith glared at Lance, but it melted when Blue rubbed her head against his chin. They went to the living room where mostly everyone was. Keith wasn't ignoring anyone, really. He just liked Blue and the way she purred when he scratched her chin and cuddled up to him. She was even ignoring Manuel who's her favorite other than Lance. Keith was content with her. It made him miss Cosmo. He couldn't wait to go home and see him. Of course, whenever he and Shiro would FaceTime, he would see Cosmo, but it wasn't the same.

Keith rested his head on Lance's knee as he was on the floor. He let out sigh when he felt Lance's fingers rubbing his scalp. He tried very hard not to start falling asleep, yet it seemed impossible with Lance stroking the spot right behind his ear.

"Are you falling asleep?" Lance asked incredulously.

"No."

" Dios mío . Come on." He plucked Blue out of Keith's lap and guided a sleepy Keith to his room. "Do you even sleep at night?"

"Yes." Keith grumbled, rubbing his eyes. "Lack of sleep is catching up."

Lance huffed out a breath and guided Keith to lie on the bed. He was about to leave when Keith tightened his hold.

"Stay?" Keith's eyes were sleepy yet hopeful for a few cuddles. He watched as Lance gave in and climbed in beside Keith. "You're a sucker for cuddles, don't complain."

"Shut up, mullet."

"Fuck you." Keith rested his head on Lance's chest.

" Keith ." Lance faked gasped, wrapping his arm around him and fingers tangled with dark hair strands. "There are children outside. Have some decency."

Keith was too tired to laugh so all that came out was a snort. "You're disgusting." It was too hot to cuddle but having Lance pressed so close to him was worth it.

During the evening, the adults stayed in the house to start wrapping presents while Lance and Keith went to town with the kids. It wasn't easy. They were all running around and almost screaming like children did.

"I can't believe we got stuck on babysitter duties." Lance huffed.

"You love them, Lance. Why are you lying to yourself?"

Lance, having his arm around Keith's shoulders, flicked his ear making Keith wince. Keith retaliated with a pinch on his waist, receiving a yelp from Lance. They continued their walk, eyes on the kids.

Keith wasn't complaining. It felt so domestic. So natural that Keith had to bring himself back down from cloud nine. This wasn't real. The next time Lance's family would ask about him, Lance would tell them they broke up but were still best friends. (Which was usually impossible.)

Music filled Keith's ears and before he knew it, Lance was pulling him along and calling out to the kids.

"You owe me a dance, mullet." He grinned over his shoulder.

"What? No, I-" Keith almost yelped as Lance pulled him closer.

"Oh, come on." Lance whined, blue eyes pleading. "Just one song."

Keith huffed annoyed. He hated the fact that Shiro let it spill that Keith used to take dance classes for five years but dropped out due to lack of money. Keith was still upset about it because he liked to dance. He still danced whenever he could.

"Fine. One song. No more."

Lance grinned, and they joined the couples who were dancing near the speakers. It was a small band that was playing covers, guitar case open in front of them for tips. The next song that started to play was salsa and if Keith was honest he was good at it. "I'm leading." He told Lance who grinned. Keith preferred to lead than follow.

"If you say so."

Keith was amazed by how fluent Lance was. He knew he would be because he'd seen him dance before but Lance was always the one who lead, never followed. It felt like they had always danced together. Their steps were quick yet graceful and Lance would laugh, loud and bright, every time Keith spun him around. The song ended, and Keith dipped Lance for the dramatics. Another burst of laughter escaped Lance's lips. Once standing properly, they gave a round of applause to the musicians.

They went on their way, Carlos asking Keith for dance classes.

"But I'm your uncle!" Lance protested.

"But Keith is a professional." Carlos deadpanned.

Keith tried - and failed - to hide his laughter. "I'll teach you what little I know." He watched Carlos's brown eyes brighten before the little boy ran off to join his brothers and cousin.

When the sun set, they decided it was time to head back. And they were hungry as well.

Laura had six plates ready for them when they arrived. She was a literal angel.

Keith felt like he was being watched so he took a quick glance up and froze. "Uh, Lance."

Lance made a questioning noise, looking at Keith. He turned his head, following Keith's line of sight and dropped his fork. "Papi?"

Lance's father was standing in the hallway in his full military uniform. Lance scrambled up from his seat. Keith heard the moment Lance crashed against his father, shoulders shaking. Oscar, like Veronica's husband, was a military man. He had been deported to Afghanistan two years ago. No one knew when he would be coming back. He had missed many things due to being away, but no one blamed him. He was on active duty and it was his obligation as a soldier to do so. Keith had spent many nights with Lance curled up next to him, worrying if his father was even alive when they went months without any sort of communication.

The kids had joined in the hug, so Keith decided to clear the table while they had their moment. He knew what it was like to have family far away. Shiro had been in the military as well before he lost his arm and was in a coma for six months. It was a tough year for he and Shiro. Keith nearly dropped out of school because his grades had dropped way below average, but Lance had been there for him and helped him get his grades to where they needed to be. Lance was his rock for a very long time. That was why he couldn't risk confessing his feelings.

"I heard you got yourself a boyfriend?"

Keith felt his cheeks heat up. He turned to face Oscar, extending his hand. "It's nice to see you again, sir."

Oscar laughed at his formality. "No need for that, Keith." He hugged Keith briefly and patted his shoulder. "It's nice to see you again, son."

Oscar turned back to his family and Keith took that as his cue to finish the dishes. Laura had shooed him from it, but he shooed her away telling her to enjoy time with her husband. She smiled at him, patting his cheek fondly.

Discreetly, Keith snuck onto the backyard. He was on the hammock again, Blue on his chest almost asleep. It was starting to be his favorite place. He was idly scrolling through his group chat conversation with Hunk, Pidge, Lance, Allura, Shiro, Adam and Matt. They had all been keeping each other updated during the past few days. Keith was glad that Cosmo was doing okay. He wouldn't show it, but he worried.

The door opened and Keith looked up to see Manuel. "Can I talk to you?"

Keith carefully sat up, placing Blue on the floor and patted the space next to him. "What's up? Everything okay?" He asked.

Manuel was usually as open about his feelings like Lance, but he seemed closed off. Like he was trying to hide something. "How did you know you liked boys?"

Keith pondered of how to answer the question. "Well, if I'm honest, I knew I didn't like girls because I thought guys were more fun to be around. But not in the friends kind of way and if I did find a girl pretty they had short hair and were boy-ish. I then realized that I didn't actually like girls. I just thought they were cute because they kind of looked like guys. I was in shock for a while, having an existential crisis and all. Cause, y'know, people being all homophobic." He rolled his eyes. "But I realized that I really liked guys because I thought they were cute or pretty. Or hot. Or attractive. But mostly hot. I guess, I always knew."

"How did you know you liked tío?" Manuel rested his cheek against Keith's shoulder. He was tall for a thirteen-year-old because he and Lance were the size of a peanut when they were thirteen.

The question caught him off guard, but he answered in the most honest way he knew. "I always wanted to be around him. He makes me happy and at ease. Makes me want to be a better person. He pushes my buttons a lot but I don't get angry at him like I do with others. Sometimes he pushes 

too much and I snap but it’s normal. He… makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. Is that how he makes you feel?” And every word that came out of Keith’s mouth was the truth. Lance did make him feel like he was on top of the world but he would never tell the Cuban if it mean fucking up what they had.

Manuel nodded sheepishly, hands nervously playing with the hem of his shirt. “ They do.” His voice was quiet, unsure if that was the right answer, but affirming Manuel’s friend’s gender identity. “They have the physical appearance of a boy but they go as they/them.”

Keith thought it was cute how defensive Manuel was about them. “Mind telling me about them?” He wanted to approach the topic with tactic. He wanted Manuel to talk about it without feeling pressured to do so. He knew the kid was unsure but he wanted Manuel to be sure about himself before Keith said anything else.

Manuel started a rant about his friend back in Florida. Their name was Sam but he called them Sammy and they were in the baseball team. They have been classmates since first grade and had been friends since third grade. They knew everything there was to know about each other and would hang out all the time.

“Do you think you’ll tell them?”

Manuel shook his head. “I don’t know if they like boys. I’m afraid it’ll ruin our friendship.”

Keith placed his hand on Manuel’s head. “I thought the same about Lance until he randomly showed up one day at my door and screeched about how hot Chris Hemsworth was and how he wanted to touch his face.”

Manuel giggled. “Tío is a little too much sometimes.” He grinned up at Keith. “But I love him anyways. Thank you, Keith.” Manuel hugged him tightly.

“You’re welcome. And hey, if you need any advice, let me know, okay? I’m here for you.” He wrapped his arms around Manuel just as tightly. “Everything will be okay. I promise.”

Manuel nodded and let go before running inside. “Tío! Keith is awesome.”

Keith let out a chuckle as Lance opened the door. “What was that about?”

“Nothing. How’s your dad doing? Sorry I’m not inside.”

“Too much?” Lance asked as he took Manuel’s spot.

Keith nodded. “I’ll try to work it out. Don’t worry.”

Lance hummed. “Dad’s fine. He arrived this morning. It feels good to have him back. I missed him. I missed everyone.”

“But mostly him.”

“Yeah.” Lance’s smile was small as he looked at the sky. The moonlight made his eyes look so beautiful, Keith was entranced. The five o’clock shadow he sometimes had was completely gone and his skin was looking healthier than Keith could have imagined. It was like Cuba gave him life. He was so tan, Keith wanted to run his fingers along his jaw just for a feel at the light stubble that was there.

Keith forced himself to look away because who knows what would have happened if he didn’t.

They sat in silence, the leaves of the trees ruffling in the breeze.

Keith’s phone ringing broke the silence. It was Shiro with a video call. Keith answered it. Shiro’s and Adam’s faces were blurry at first but then it focused. They had pink cheeks and eyes were slightly blown.

“Are you drunk?”

“Maybe.” Shiro grinned and laughed when Adam tripped, his glasses askew.

“Where are you?” Lance inquired, eyebrow raised. “Is it even safe?”

“Oh, yeah.” Adam waved them off. “We’re at my parent’s house. Just outside.”

“Okay… And to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”

“We’re getting married!”

Keith stared at his brother and Adam with wide eyes. “Wait. You’re what?! How?! When?! What the fuck?”

“Shiro just dropped down on one knee like twenty minutes ago!” Adam exclaimed, throwing his arms around Shiro. He was so drunk.

“I’m happy for you.” Lance smiled, chin resting on Keith’s shoulder.

Keith glared at his brother through the screen. “And you didn’t tell me? What the hell, Shiro?”

“It wasn’t planned!” Shiro said defensively. “Adam doesn’t even have a ring. And thank you, Lance. Oh, and Cosmo’s doing fine, Keith. He’s back to his big, old, fluffy self.”

Keith felt relief wash over him. “Thank god. I was scared.” He admitted. They talked back and forth for a while, asking how things were going. After talking for a solid hour, they hung up, Keith groaning into his hands. “I can’t believe he asked Adam so impulsively.”

“Must be in the genes.”

Keith looked up at Lance and deadpanned. “I’m adopted.”

The two friends were in Lance’s room wrapping presents most of the morning. Keith was already finished while Lance was in the last ones when Lance told him they needed to do kissing practice.

“Kissing practice.” Keith said slowly.

“Yeah. We need to be a bit more convincing, y’know.” Lance shrugged so nonchalantly it hurt. “Like, at least a peck once in a while. Everyone knows I’m affectionate with my significant others.”

“But, I’m not.” Keith frowned as he sat on the bed. He watched Lance carefully. The Cuban was carefully wrapping Manuel’s gift in bright red paper. “Like, yeah, you’re open with it but I’m not. I’m sure your family isn’t suspicious about it.”

Lance looked at Keith and said, “And they know I’m the exception for you being all touchy.”

Keith pouted. Lance was right. He groaned and flopped back on the bed. He really didn’t want to do that.

“What are we supposed to do when the clock strikes twelve during New Year’s? A kiss on the cheek? That’s ludicrous.”

“Look at you, using big words.” Keith yelped as Lance smacked him with the roll of wrapping paper.

“Asshole. But I’m correct, right?”

Keith sighed, propping himself on his elbows. “Yes, Lance. But, wouldn’t it be, like, awkward? For us?” For you?

Lance shrugged. “I’m okay with it. It’s not the first time either of us have kissed a guy.”

“Okay yeah. But, we have never kissed before.”

Lance looked up from the gift. “You have a but for everything don’t you?”

Keith shrugged. “I guess so.” He watched as Lance rolled his eyes and put the gift aside before standing and walking to the bed. Keith watched as he got closer to him and not the bed itself. “Uh, Lance?” He questioned as Lance started to crawl above him. “What are you doing?”

“Practicing.” Lance grinned.

Keith rolled his eyes and pushed him off. “That’s not practicing. That’s being a weirdo.” He sat against the wall and eyed Lance who was frowning. “Are we doing it or not?”

“Okay. Okay.” Lance sat in front of Keith and pressed their knees together. “You ready?”

They sat in a position like they were ready to play a game. And that game was Keith’s heart.

Keith nodded and winced as Lance’s cold fingers made contact with this cheek. “Were you eating ice again?”

“We’re not talking about my life choices right now, Keith. Now shut up.” He leaned closer, Keith watching his every move. His heart was beating so loud, he was afraid Lance could hear it.

Keith couldn’t wait any longer, so he pressed their lips together, eyes shut tightly. It was a little awkward as neither of them moved but Lance shifted a little and tilted his head to the side. Keith followed. Only because he didn’t know how far Lance would go and he needed to control himself. As if Lance could read his mind, he swiped his tongue along Keith’s bottom lip. It was so quick Keith thought he had imagined it, but it happened again. And Keith, not in his right mind, opened his mouth. He let out a little gasp as Lance’s tongue swiped the roof of his mouth. Keith nipped at his bottom lip as he curled his fingers in Lance’s hair. Lance let out a small moan, fingers tightening a fraction on Keith’s neck.

Keith pulled back abruptly. “Don’t.” He swallowed the lump in his throat. “Don’t touch my neck.” Lance tilted his head to the side as if to ask ‘what?’ “Don’t touch my neck. It’s all I ask.”

Realization dawned on Lance. “Is it one of your spots?”

Keith looked away embarrassed, a blush creeping up his neck.

“It is!”

“Shut up.” Keith groaned, pushing away Lance’s face. Lance had a huge grin on his face as if he had hit the jackpot. “I’m going to sleep.”

“Aw, come on, Keith!”

Keith could hear the grin on Lance’s face and he shoved Lance aside to get under the blanket. “Good night, Lance.”

Lance snorted and followed suit, wrapping his arm around Keith. “Good night, mullet.”

He elbowed Lance right on his stomach.

Keith didn’t know what compelled him to do it. He just did. He didn’t know how Lance would react. Or anyone for that matter. When he and Oscar (he wanted to have some alone time with Keith to talk) arrived at the house it fell silent when they looked at Keith. He was rubbing his arm self-consciously.

“What the fuck?” Lance was coming down the stairs and he froze half way down. He was staring at Keith like he had grown two extra heads. “Holy -”

Lance .”

“Sorry!” He called to his mom before grabbing Keith’s hand and dragging him up the stairs.

“No funny business under my roof!” Laura yelled, making everyone groan.

Lance shut the door once inside and grabbed Keith’s head. “Where is your mullet?”

“What?”

“Where’s you mullet, Keith?!” Lance almost screeched. “You got an undercut after 20 years of having a mullet .”

Keith chuckled. “Yeah. It feels kind of weird, if I’m honest.” He ran a hand over the short hairs on the back of his head. It did feel weird. He hadn’t cut his hair so short in his life. Lance was looking at him weirdly. “What? Do I look that weird?” He frowned.

“What? No!” Lance shook his head. “Just… trying to take it in.” He raked his eyes over Keith’s face, not even trying to hide it. “You look good, man.”

“Thanks.” He grinned at Lance who grinned back. “Should we get going? Your family probably thinks we’re like, making out or something.”

Lance shrugged and walked to the bed. “Let them. It’s what we’re going for, right?”

Keith nodded. Lance was right about that.

“Did you show everyone?”

“Not yet.” He sat on the bed, legs crossed.

“Sweet.” Lance held up his phone. “Smile, mullet.”

Keith pouted. “I don’t have one anymore.”

“You’re stuck with it. Now smile for the love of whatever.”

Keith did as instructed, sticking out the tip of his tongue on another one, showing the snake eyes he got impulsively a year ago.

“Oh, man. They’re going to freak .” Lance sounded as excited as a five-year-old as he sent the picture to the group chat. Five minutes passed, and no one said anything.

“Did they all read it?” Keith was watching his own phone, just waiting.

“Yeah. It’s weird they-“ He got cut off with both of their phones buzzing in their hands repeatedly.

Gremlin: WHAT THE FUCK KEITH?! WHERE IS YOUR MULLTET???

Gremlin: MULLET*

Sunshine Boi: Wow Keith!!!! You look great!!! But weird. In a good way!!!!

Dad™️: You look nice Keith! Call me when you can.

Dad #2™️: You look good, Keith. Shiro choked up.

Dad™️: I did not!!

Mom™️: You finally cut that mullet huh? It was about time!!! You look great

It’s Ya Boi: sorry idk who this is whAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH KEITH BRING HIM BACK YOU IMPOSTERER

It’s Ya Boi: KEITH??? ARE YOU THERE?!?!?!

Samurai: ffs Matt relax it’s just a haircut

It’s Ya Boi: SOMETIMES I CAN STILL READ HIS TEXTS

Gremlin: okay but seriously what compelled you to do it?

Samurai: I’d been thinking about it for a while and it’s hot as hell here so I just did should’ve seen Lance’s face lol

Sharpshooter: shut up, mullet

Keith looked up from his phone to stare at Lance. “I literally payed a barber to cut it off but you’re still going to call me that?”

Lance grinned. “Yes.” He turned back to his phone.

Keith deliberately ignored the conversation and went to the mirror on Lance’s wall. It was going to get some time in getting used to looking at himself or not playing with the ends in concentration. “Do I really look that weird?” He frowned, pushing off the longer strands away from his forehead. He liked it long in the front.

“It’s until we get used to it I guess. We’re used to seeing you with a mullet. Not an undercut.”

Keith saw Lance shrug on the reflection of the mirror, eyes still glued on the phone. He let out a sigh. Not even cutting his hair drastically made Lance see him. He kept the frown from forming. He wanted Christmas to be over already.

During the night of Christmas Eve, they had a dinner party, Lance’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins joining the festivities. Keith met Lance’s entire family which was a lot to his standards. Nearly 50 people. They were all nice towards him, welcoming him to the family. Some of them spoke only Spanish which Lance had to translate for him.

They ate, sang classic Christmas music, drank, played dominoes and had a good time in general. When the clock struck twelve, everyone started to wish each other a Merry Christmas even if to Keith it didn’t feel like it yet. Lance had warned him that they were to kiss but Keith didn’t mind. Instead of Lance initiating, Keith did. He kissed Lance softly, just a peck on the lips.

“Merry Christmas, Lance.”

“Merry Christmas, Keith.”

Christmas Day was a big deal in the McClain household. Lance had woken Keith up to help with breakfast and bring the gifts down. Once all under the tree, they proceeded to make breakfast. It was quiet as no one else was awake yet and it was rather early still. They cooked in silence, aside from the sizzling pan and the radio playing old Hispanic Christmas music which was Lance’s favorite.

The salsa rendition of Feliz Navidad started to play and Keith was not prepared when Lance pulled him close.

“Dance with me, mullet.”

“Lance, the food’s going to burn.”

Keith let out one of his ‘eugh’ sounds as Lance decided to pull him along. He could do nothing but go along with Lance’s leading. Lance was making exaggerated moves, laughter bubbling up Keith’s throat. The song ended, and they were both breathless from laughter and dancing (it was more jumping around than anything.) Their laughter died, foreheads pressed together.

“Morning.”

The two boys pulled away from one another, cheeks tinted pink. Veronica was raising her eyebrow at them skeptically. “I think something’s burning.”

“Shit!”

Luckily, it was only the toast that was charred. Lance gave the two slices to Blue as a Christmas present. (He still bought her a laser pen. He couldn’t wait to see how that went.) The family of 13 managed to squeeze into the table to eat. The kids were buzzing to know what they got, eating hurriedly. Laura chastised them because they would give themselves stomach aches. They all left the dishes in the sink and filtered to the living room.

Everyone took their turns in giving the kids their presents first. All four of them yelled in unison when they opened the gift from Lance and Keith. They decided to split that one because it was an entire set of Nerf water guns. Of course, they wrapped them separately for effect. They didn’t waste time in opening them and running outside.

Lance and Keith were smug as everyone glared at them. “Kids will be kids.” Lance shrugged, innocently.

They continue with the present exchange, Keith getting a little something from them all. He and Lance decided to be the last ones to exchange for one reason or another. It was a small, flat box, wrapped in bright red wrapping paper with a blue bow on it.

“Blue isn’t even a Christmas color.”

“It’s the sentiment!”

Keith huffed out a laugh and started to open the gift. It was a brown box and when he opened it, he saw an envelope inside. He took out and opened it. Inside were two tickets for Panic! At The Disco’s concert the following year. Which was sold out . He tackled Lance into a hug, nearly knocking them off the couch. “How did you know?”

“You leave your tabs open all the time. I beat you to the sale.”

Keith gave him a look. “You’re a creep. And I was in class. I was very upset. Thank you, Lance. Anyways, here.” He handed Lance a box wrapped in red paper with little Christmas trees on it. He watched as Lance opened it carefully, nimble fingers not tearing the paper. Lance stared at his present in shock. “So… do you like it?”

He blinked at the box then at Keith then back at the box. It was a purple box with a lilac slip with the word Tatcha and little symbol of the company. “I’ve been wanting to buy this for ages.” Lance put the box aside and squeezed the air out of Keith, a string of thank you’s slipping past his lips.

“Glad you like it. But I can’t breathe.”

Lance let go only to kiss Keith. Keith felt himself tense up but relaxed when he felt Lance rub his cheeks with his thumbs. His heart fluttered in his chest, yet he reminded himself that this wasn’t real. This was all pretend. It would be over in a few days. Someone cleared their throat and they pulled back, looking at everyone else sheepishly. Keith more than Lance.

They cleaned up the mess of paper and went upstairs. “Was that too much?” Lance asked, eyes worried.

“I think the occasion called for it.” Keith shrugged, acting nonchalant and raided Lance’s closet for their own water guns. “Ready to kick ass?” He grinned holding them up.

Lance smirked. “Let’s do it.”

Mariana was the first to see them. “Tío and Keith are going to attack!” She screamed, alerting her cousins.

Lance turned to Keith. “Kiss for good luck.”

“You wish.” Keith scoffed. “Attack!”

Bursts of laughter and giggles could be heard around the house. The four kids teamed up against Lance and Keith who were hiding to strategize. “You get Manuel and Mariana. You’re their favorite. I got Carlos and Miguel.” Keith nodded along. “Or I can distract them and you go around and get them. Got it?”

“Got it.” Keith brushed his bang out of his face. “Let’s go.”

A quick peck was shared between them, Keith feeling like it was too normal to be fake anymore. He shook his head, ridding himself of those thoughts.

Lance distracted the kids, setting himself up as bait while Keith snuck around them, hiding in the small bushes. With a battle cry, Keith soaked all four of them to the point where their hairs were dripping, and clothes stuck to their bodies. They were shrieking with joy as Lance joined.

“Okay! That’s enough!” They all turned to the terrace. Marco was looking at all of them, hands on his hips. “You need to shower. We’re going to abuela’s soon.”

The kids reluctantly put their water guns away and went inside, towels wrapped around them. Lance and Keith plopped on the floor, drying themselves as much as possible.

“That was some well invested money.” Lance grinned, drying his hair with the towel.

“Agreed.” Keith slung the towel over his head making Lance chuckle.

“You look like a nun.”

“And you look like a-”

The back door opened, interrupting Keith. Manuel had an exasperated look on his face as he shoved his phone in Keith’s face. Keith took it and read the message. It was from his friend Sammy.

Merry Christmas, Manny! Hope you’re having fun in Cuba! Purple heart emoji included.

“Aw, he calls you Manny!” Lance teased.

Manuel either ignored him or didn’t hear him. “What do I say?! He even put it in my favorite color!”

“Send the same back! But, with his favorite color.” Keith advised.

“It’s red!”

“Oh, no! Nope. Not red. Second favorite?”

“Yellow.”

“Jesus Christ.” Lance huffed. “Just send it red. He sent it purple for a reason, right? And he’s obviously gay. Dudes don’t send each other hearts and call each other nicknames unless someone else does.”

Keith and Manuel stared at Lance before staring at one another. Keith shrugged, and Manuel groaned, sitting between them.

“Excuse you!”

Lance .”

Lance huffed and decided to peer at Manuel’s phone. Keith did the same and when he put his hand down, his fingers landed over Lance’s. Neither of them minded. They watched as Manuel typed out the response and waited for Sammy’s reply. It was a simple purple heart and kissy emoji.

“Oh, he’s gay alright.”

Keith was looking at himself in the mirror, fixing the short sleeves of his red shirt. Lance walked in, blue shirt hugging him in all the right places. Keith had to stop himself from staring so openly because Lance looked fucking fine all dressed up.

“Does my hair look weird?” He asked to distract himself from ogling. He messed with it a little for emphasis.

“Maybe mess it up a little more? Or no? Hold on.”

He watched as Lance looked through the top drawer of his dresser. Keith took that time to appreciate him. He looked very good in those dark jeans that made his legs look longer than they were. The shirt he wore was so tight, Keith could see the muscles working as Lance rummaged around. His hair was still damp, sticking up a little in certain places. Keith wanted to run his hands through it, just to get a feel. (He’d been wanting to get a feel for a long time now.) Just to know what it was like to feel his hair between his fingers in a not so friendly manner.

Lance’s cheer snapped him out of the trance he was in. He had hair wax in his hands, opening it as he walked closer to Keith. He took a decent amount into his fingers and rubbed it in his hands. Keith imagined other things he could do exactly like that.

Snap out of it, Keith.

He closed his eyes as Lance did his hair. He didn’t care what he looked like, he was enjoying the feeling of Lance’s fingers in his hair.

“Done.” Lance murmured.

Keith opened his eyes and Lance was much closer than he anticipated. For a brief moment, his eyes darted down to Lance’s lips. He clenched his hands, taking deep breaths. Self-control was everything right now. He could not mess this up. Not now. Not ever.

“Time to go!”

Luis’s call snapped them out of their small trance and they hurried to put on their shoes. Keith’s face was red when they joined Veronica in the car.

“You okay there, Keith?” She teased.

He shot her a heated glare before turning to look out the window.

Christmas dinner was nice. The food was amazing and it was even more crowded than Christmas Eve. Keith was starting to get overwhelmed, but he was thankful at least one McClain was with him at all times. He wondered how Shiro was spending it with Adam’s family. He wished he had his brother there with him to celebrate. Shiro would love Lance’s family.

Too bad it’s all fake.

Keith hated his brain sometimes.

On the ride back, Lance was a little more than drunk from all the rum he had. He was slurring incomprehensible words into Keith’s neck, breath hot and reeking of alcohol.

“Keeeeeiiiiiiith. You’re so pretty.” He hiccuped. “I really like your hair. But the mullet was better. More pull-able.”

Lance .” Keith hissed, cheeks turning a dark red.

Veronica burst out laughing. “ Dios mío, Señor santo . What do you guys get up to?”

“Nothing.” Keith covered Lance’s mouth and glared. “One more word and I’ll kill you.” He threatened.

Lance wiggled his eyebrows as much as he could in his drunken daze. Keith kept his hand over Lance’s mouth until they arrived at house. Keith was cursing him out in his head as Lance almost made them fall going up the stairs. Lance flopped face first on the bed. Keith rubbed his forehead in annoyance. He wasn’t ready for Lance’s whining the next morning. With a loud sigh, he undressed Lance down to his boxers and smothered on the face mask he always used while he slept. He got ready himself and did the same as Lance: he flopped on the bed face first. He was exhausted from all of the socializing he did.

He wasn’t trying to be creepy, really, but he physically couldn’t stop watching Lance. Just a few more days and this would be a painful memory in his head. A beautifully, painful memory he would love forever. It was one of the few times he felt truly happy. Like nothing could burst the bubble he was in.

Keith couldn’t handle it any more so he stood and grabbed his phone. Everyone was asleep so he snuck outside to call Shiro.

“Keith? Is everything okay?” His concerned voice made a lump form in his throat.

“It hurts.” He managed to whisper. “It hurts so much.” He clutched his shirt, not being able to stop his heart from hurting. “I love him, and I don’t know what to do. I can’t take it anymore, Shiro.” A sob escaped his mouth, quickly covering it to hide them. “I just can’t anymore.”

“Keith, hey, calm down. It’s going to be okay. Mind telling me what happened?”

Keith tried to control his breathing, taking deep breaths and holding them for a few seconds before releasing them. “We kissed. And it was just for practice, but it didn’t feel like that. It was different. It wasn’t just a kiss for me. I don’t know what to do.”

“Hey, I’m sure everything will work out.”

“We aren’t you and Adam, Shiro.” He spat. He didn’t mean it. Really. He was just sick of others comparing their relationships with his and Lance’s. They were totally different.

Shirt sighed. “I am not comparing you two to us. I’m just positive things will work out, okay? Want me to talk about today?”

“I’m not ten, Shiro.” He grumbled, brows furrowed. Shiro used to talk to him about his day whenever Keith wasn’t feeling himself and it always worked. Keith was only in denial that it would still calm him down.

“If you say so.” He could just imagine Shiro shrugging.

“I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Okay, bud. Be careful okay?”

“I will.” Keith hung up, staring at his background. It was of him and Lance the night prior. Laura demanded they take pictures together and they did. He stared at it for a long while, heart clenching in his chest. Lance had his arm around Keith’s shoulders, laughing and Keith had his arm around Lance’s waist, grinning at the Cuban. It was an accidental picture but it was quickly becoming his favorite.

He pressed his phone to his forehead and sighed shakily. He was going to get through this. No matter how difficult, no matter how many times his heart clenched in his chest, no matter how much it hurt. He would do this without fucking up.

Keith fucked up. Big time. It was New Year’s Eve and the countdown had started. He and Lance had their arms around each other, waiting for the fireworks to start. Just as everyone screamed Feliz año nuevo!, Keith grabbed Lance by the cheeks and brought him in for a kiss. Pretty normal, it’s what people always did with their significant others. Until it wasn’t.

“I love you, Lance.”

Lance looked slightly confused before laughing and said “I love you, too, man” before turning to hug his mom.

Keith’s heart and stomach pummeled to his feet before he recovered and hugged everyone else. He excused himself to call Shiro. He needed to talk to him. ASAP. With shaky fingers he pressed Shiro’s contact and pressed it to his ear.

“Keith!”

“I fucked up.”

“Wait. What? What do you mean?”

“I fucked up, Shiro. I told him I love him, and he brushed it off.” Tears were pooling in his eyes, blurring his vision. “He called me man right after I said I love you. I literally got rejected. What a way to start the year.” His laugh was desperate. He wanted to be back home. In his bed with Cosmo like previous New Year’s because he preferred to be alone than a full house. He just wanted to be alone. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t even look at him, Shiro.”

“Keith, listen to me. Breathe.” Shiro counted the seconds while Keith took deep breaths. “Listen, I know he’s your best friend, and I know you two aren’t Adam and I, but things will be okay. I promise. You have to keep it in mind. I won’t say it’ll be easy to overcome this situation, but I promise it’ll be okay. Understood?”

“Yeah.” Keith croaked out. “Happy new year.” He mumbled, even if he was an hour ahead.

“Happy new year, Keith. Now wash your face. You get red when you cry.”

Keith huffed out annoyed and bid his brother good-bye. He ran his hands over his face and hurried to the bathroom before anyone caught him. He made sure he was calm enough and his face wasn’t as blotchy before he walked back to the backyard.

“Hey, I was looking for you.” Lance grinned.

“Oh, I was talking to Shiro.” He was subconsciously curling in on himself and was avoiding eye contact. He hated how he immediately shut anyone out when he got hurt. It was something he needed to stop but never could.

“Are you okay?” Lance placed his hand on Keith’s shoulder.

The touch felt like it was burning him. “I’m fine. Just tired. I think I’m going to bed.”

“I’ll go with you.”

Lance started to walk to the door, but Keith stopped him. “It’s fine, Lance. Spend time with your family. You don’t get to see them often.”

Lance was looking at him unsure and it took everything in Keith not to press his thumb onto the wrinkle on his forehead. He hated when Lance looked like that. Worried and overthinking it was probably his fault. It always unsettled him.

“I’ll be fine.” With great ache in his chest, he pecked Lance’s cheek and squeezed his arm. He warily went inside and up to Lance’s room. He shut the door and let the tears fall. Keith was a quiet cryer, but not this time. Sobs racked his body as he pressed his forehead against the cool door. He took off his shirt, feeling like he couldn’t breathe. He had nothing to comfort him. All there was were the blankets and pillows but Keith needed something else. Something that was there to actually comfort him.

He gasped when he felt something rubbing against his leg.

Blue.

Keith bent and picked her up. “Hey, girl.” He murmured, scratching her chin. His nose was clogged and throat raw. He sat on the bed with Blue in his arms. Her purring called him down a little. Whoever thought animals didn’t know what was happening around them was a fucking idiot.

“I don’t know what to do, Blue. I love him so much, but he doesn’t feel the same. No one in their right mind would ever love me. I’m a mess.” He lied on the bed, Blue curling next to him. “Everyone I dated left because I’m closed off and never show emotions. I am now. I mean, I fucking confessed to him and he just laughed it off thinking I was being platonic. Can you believe?” He let out a laugh that was closer to maniacal than disbelieving. “And he just thought I was being a friend. Pidge was right. He’s kind of dumb. I love him. Despite his dumb ass.” Keith was looking at Blue, pouting. “I really wish you could give me some advice.” He let out a breath, wiping his cheeks. He needed to wash his face, but he was exhausted. He didn’t want to get up. He wanted to stay in bed and continue talking, but another lump was forming in his throat.

Keith heard footsteps running up the stairs and he sat up, wiping his face and making it look as normal as possible. He hoped his eyes weren’t red.

The door opened so fast, Lance tripped and nearly fell face first.

“Lance! Are you okay?” Keith’s eyes were wide in panic.

“Dude, look!” He shoved his phone in Keith’s face.

Keith took it and furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. There was a picture of Allura kissing someone under a mistletoe. It was a girl with familiar blonde hair. “Is that Romelle?”

“Yes! Romelle and I were at the café Allura works in and introduced them. Who knew they would end up together.”

Keith hummed and handed Lance his phone. “They look cute together.” He flinched when he felt Lance’s cool fingers on his chin. He was made to look Lance’s way, swallowing that annoying lump in his throat. The look of confusion in Lance’s face when he confessed and what he said the way he said it was ingrained in his brain. He wanted to blink the tears back but having Lance so close was making it difficult.

“Were you crying?”

Yes .

“No.”

Lance scowled. “Don’t lie to me. I hate it.”

Keith felt anger bubbling in his chest. It was hot and red, and he knew he would explode. “Yes. I was!” He snapped. “You’re such an idiot, you can’t see what’s right in front of you!”

He stood from the bed and stormed out of the room. If he didn’t, he knew he would say things he would regret. What he did say wasn’t even a quarter of what he wanted to. He wanted to scream at Lance that he loved him and his family. That he regretted the moment he said yes to this stupid deal. How he regretted kissing Lance if it meant nothing. He wanted to tell Lance to stop looking at him like that to just put on a show for his family, to stop being so touchy, even if Keith loved Lance’s soft touches. To stop holding his hand if it was so void emotion. To stop lying to his family and tell them that they weren’t really dating, and Lance panicked and lied instead of being truthful.

Keith stormed out of the front door, slamming it behind him and ignoring the calls from whoever it was. His mind supplied him that it was Laura. He was walking with no sense of direction. It was all unfamiliar to him. He just hoped not to get lost. He wanted to go home. But also, not really because Lance would be there, and he wouldn’t have time to get over the situation. He wanted to go home to Shiro and Adam and Cosmo. He wanted to have a long talk with Pidge saying how right they were. How dumb both of them were, but not for the right reasons.

“Keith! Wait!”

His heart fluttered in his chest because Lance came after him. He knew Lance would go after the people he cared, but Keith thought he wouldn’t after that outburst in the room. “Leave me alone, Lance.” His voice cracked, and he cursed himself for it.

“Dude!” 

Keith was abruptly stopped by Lance’s hand on his shoulder. He pulled away, curling in on himself. Goosebumps appeared on his arms and he just realized he was shirtless. His eyes were glued to the sidewalk, hugging himself, protecting himself from the chill and Lance’s sharp gaze.

“Hey,” Lance’s voice was soft. “Here.” He held up a shirt.

Keith reached out hesitantly and slipped it on. It smelled like Lance and Keith felt the familiar burn in his eyes. “Thank you.” He murmured.

“Mind telling me what happened back there? Because I don’t think I can help if you don’t tell me.” Lance had his hands in his pockets and Keith knew he would wait as long as he needed to. Lance was like that. He would understand if Keith didn’t wish to talk about it, but Keith could also see the tenseness in his shoulders, as if expecting Keith to talk.

“You’re an idiot, Lance McClain.” Without a second to overthink, Keith grabbed Lance by the collar of his shirt and pressed their lips together. He really needed impulse control, but that impulse control was standing right in front of him, looking so beautiful in that tight dark grey shirt. Keith pulled away and murmured, “I’m sorry. I just had to do it one last time.” He let go, the heaviness in his chest lifting just a little.

Keith let out a gasp, feeling Lance cup his cheeks and stroking Keith’s cheekbones. Lance was looking at him like that again and Keith’s heart constricted in his chest. He felt tears pooling his eyes and he failed to blink them back. “Please, don’t. Don’t look at me like that.” His voice caught in his throat as his shoulders began to shake. He sobbed so loudly he thought the entire family at the house must have heard him. And the other houses as well.

Lance hugged him tightly. He buried his face between Lance’s shoulder and neck. He sobbed for god knows how long. Lance’s hug hurt, but he didn’t mind. He felt like he was going to break apart if Lance let go. He wished to never let go. Lance was soothing him with murmured words and back and scalps rubs. Keith’s hands hurt with how hard he was clutching onto Lance’s shirt, afraid of letting him go. He was going to hear Lance bitch about ruining his shirt but she didn’t care.

“Keith, look at me.”

Keith stubbornly shook his head, grip tightening even more.

Keith .” Lance’s tone made Keith tense up. He sounded mad, something he never usually was. “Please look at me.” With lots of hesitation, Keith managed to look at Lance. “Did you mean it? When you said you love me?”

Keith wanted to curl into himself, but his friend’s grip on his arms didn’t let him. He nodded meekly. “Yes.” He was looking at Lance through dark eyelashes. He was tired of pretending. Tired of pretending not to love Lance romantically and say he was only his best friend.

Lance sighed and smiled softly at him. Everything was soft about Lance. Even in the fake, orange lighting of the nearby lamp post. He looked beautiful and Keith wanted to look at him forever if he could. He couldn’t focus his eyes on just one thing, he had to take in everything. Lance’s freckles, face structure, eyelashes, carefully manicured eyebrows, the little scar at the top of his left eyebrow he got when trying to climb a tree, his lips - especially the cupid’s bow - and finally, his eyes. The blue eyes that always expressed so much when words just weren’t enough

“I love you, Keith.”

Before Keith could get a word in, Lance was kissing him. It was soft, just a press of lips against lips. Keith hugged Lance closer, chests flushed together. He opened his mouth, Lance following suit. They kissed until they were breathless and lips were numb.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Lance asked once they were in bed. His tone wasn’t accusatory, just curious. They were lying down on their sides facing one another after watching the sun rise. (Not really, they were more focused on each other’s faces.) They had been unable to sleep after the events that happened earlier.

Keith scoffed. “Do you know how many times I tried? Whenever I had the guts to tell you, I chickened out because you were with someone or getting to know someone else. That’s why I dated Bryan and Richard.” He traced random figures on Lance’s bare chest. “I wanted to move on, but I never managed to. You were right there every day. It’s like karma playing a cruel joke on me for laughing the day you fell on your ass ice skating.”

Lance chuckled, eyes glinting. He had his fingertips on Keith’s jaw, touching the little stubble there. He kind of liked the shadow on Keith’s face. “Do you know why I asked you to come with me?”

“Because no one else could or your family wouldn’t believe you. And you panicked.” Keith rolled his dark eyes and lightly pinched Lance’s side.

Lance shook his head. “No, it wasn’t that. I just told them that you and I were dating when they asked. I didn’t panic.”

Keith was very confused now. “Why would you-“

“Because I love you, dumbass.” Lance rolled his eyes. “Pidge is right. You are kind of dumb while I’m smartest one of us.”

Keith scoffed. “Are you joking? I was pinning after your ass for years and you never noticed.”

Lance’s face broke out into a smile before he kissed Keith. “Can’t believe you were pinning after me.”

Keith sighed. He was definitely inflating Lance’s ego. “Shut up, asshole.” He slipped his hand in Lance’s hair and gave it a firm but playful tug. Lance gasped, grabbing Keith’s shoulder. Keith’s eyes widened. “Do you have a hair kink?!” He whispered. He wanted to yell it but he was considerate of the other people on the house. He was pretty sure they were the only ones awake as it was nearing six in the morning. The others were fueling up their energy to continue the party later on.

“So what if I do?!” Lance whisper-shouted, scowl on his face.

Keith snorted. “That’ll come in handy.” With the hand in Lance’s hair, he pulled his head back, angling it so his neck was exposed.

Lance let out a sigh as Keith peppered his neck with feather light kisses. Keith wasn’t sure how far he could go so he stopped at Lance’s collar bone. He gave it a light nip before pulling away. He moaned when Lance pressed their mouths together and ran his fingertips along Keith’s neck, goosebumps appearing on his arms.

The kiss was verging towards desperate, breaths heavy. Keith shivered when Lance ran his hands over the shorter hairs on his head. It was a very welcomed feeling. Luckily for Keith, they didn’t go further. Luckily because he knew he wouldn’t let Lance go to sleep unless they were both satisfied and Keith wouldn’t be satisfied with just one round. He waited too long for this.

Lance pulled away first, hands in Keith’s hair and foreheads pressed together.

“You’re beautiful, Lance.” Keith wasn’t sure what compelled him to say that but he didn’t care. He was being truthful and his New Year’s resolution was to be as truthful as possible to Lance.

“You’re pretty gorgeous yourself.” Lance’s cheeks were tinted pink, lips a little swollen.

Keith thought he looked better than ever.

Guess fake dating your crush of years could actually lead to something other than heartbreak. Keith thought.