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Basically American

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“Mama… I think I’ve made a mistake.”

Lance felt a warm hand fall on his shoulder as he looked up at the huge board looming above them, spelling out arrivals and departure times of various planes. His heart was pounding wildly in his chest. He felt so small next to his luggage – which quite frankly was bigger than he was. He knew he was small for only eleven, but really. There was no need to rub it in.

“No, mi cielo. You haven’t.” His mother said and turned him around so he was facing her. She knelt, taking his face in her hands and smiled “You’re just a little frightened, but don’t worry. Fear goes away after awhile.” She promised, kissing his forehead.

Lance’s heart slowed a bit at the reassurance. He melted a bit into her touch, finding himself a bit steadier when he heard a scoff.

“Honestly, Sophia. What kind of garbage advice is that?”

His mother closed her eyes a sighed.

Mom-” She began, but Lance’s grandmother was already speaking again, waving her daughter away from him so she could grab his hands in hers.

“Alejandro,” She said “It is not you who has made a mistake. It is them.” She said bluntly and Lance heard his mother make a choking noise at that “Trust me, mi vida. They are not prepared for how brightly you’ll shine.” She promised. “You will crush those Americans so that-”

“Okay, thank you for that.” His mother interrupted and his abuela shrugged. “Baby, you are going to have so much fun. You’ll make lots of friends and learn about space and-”

“And you’ll see guns!” Luis shouted, running up to Lance.

“Guns?” He squeaked as his brother gripped his arms and shook him a bit with excitement.

“Yeah! This girl in my class said she went to America and they all had guns! So you have to watch your back and make sure they don’t shoot you when you aren’t looking.”

Luis McClain!” His mother yelled. Lance stood there, absolutely paralyzed with terror. His grandmother was nodding in agreement.

“He’s right, Sophia. He should look out for the guns.”

“Oh my – mom!” His mother yelled and Lance jumped when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Hey, you alright?” Marco asked and Lance launched onto his older brother’s leg.

“I changed my mind! Don’t make me go!” He said, clinging onto him with a bit of desperation. Lance figured since Marco turned nineteen last month he was probably his most reliable sibling in terms of helping him out with stuff like this. Luis was only fourteen and Veronica sixteen. His brother chuckled and pried him away.

“Alejandro.” He scolded gently “You don’t mean that.”

“I do! Luis says they’re going to shoot me… And abuela says I have to crush Americans. I don’t want to crush anybody!” He said, voice bordering hysteria “I don’t even know how to crush people! What if I do it wrong?” He said, heaving in long breaths. “Veronica says I’m small for my age – what if I’m not big enough to crush people?!”

“Whoa. Okay, okay.” Marco said and knelt in front of him so they were eye level “You have a lot going on in that head of yours.” He told him “Alejandro, what did we talk about when speaking English?”

“To… Not take things literal all the time.”

“Yep.” He agreed “So when abuela says you’re going to crush Americans – do you think that could be a figure of speech?” He asked and Lance paused. He supposed that did make more sense. He nodded. Marco smiled “She just means you are going to get better grades then them, bobo.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh.” Marco snorted “And yes, some people will have guns… But I don’t think they are going to go around trying to shoot you, alright?”

“How do you know?”

“Call it a big brother instinct.” He said and Lance nodded again. He could go with that. Marco knew practically everything. “America is going to be a little different, but it isn’t a different planet or anything. You’ll be heading to those later, right?” He said, giving a sly wink. Lance felt a small smile tug at his lips. He supposed if he wanted to go to Jupiter he would have to learn how to travel around on Earth first.

“Here,” Marco said and shrugged off his jacket “Why don’t you take this with you?” He asked and Lance felt his eyes widened as Marco tossed the coat over him. It was huge on him – with the sleeves almost dragging to the ground, but it was warm and smelled like his brother.

“It’s too big.”

“You’ll grow into it.” He promised and ruffled his hair.

“Ay. Alejandro.” His grandmother called “If we’re giving presents, I have one for you.” She said and gestured him over. Lance ran to her – almost tripping on Marco’s coat. He held out his hands, but abuela only laughed. “Mi cielo, I would not send you away with something as silly as a trinket.” She told him “I will give you wisdom for your travels… You know, people used to come all over the world to hear my advice.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Because I love you I will give it you for free this one time.” She said, shaking her finger at him “Just promise you won’t tell your mother.”

“I promise.”

“And if she finds out, who do you blame?”

“Luis.”

“Very good!” She beamed and sat down in one of the airport’s blue chairs. Lance sat in the one next to her, leaning in a bit so he could be sure to catch every word. “So you know how we’ve been practicing your English for the past six months, right?” She asked and Lance nodded. “Well, there are a few extra words you should know.”

More vocabulary? Lance felt his heart sink. There was already so much. English in general confused him without adding in so many words.

“These are words you only say if you have very strong emotions, understand?” She said “They may get you in some trouble, so use them wisely.” She warned and then leaned over to whisper in his ear.


“Make sure you call us as soon as you land!” His mother reminded him “Oh, I should have booked a ticket to go with you.” She fretted and Veronica rolled her eyes.

“Alejandro, tell mama she’s being silly.”

“No. She should have.” Lance muttered and Veronica snorted.

“Don’t be a jerk.” She told him “You have your passport?”

“Yes.”

“Books?”

“Yes.”

“Snacks?”

“Yes.”

“Brain?”

“Yep.”

“Liar.” She told him and he pouted. His sister laughed and gave him a quick kiss on the nose, ushering him towards security. “Remember to watch your mouth, Alejandro! Don’t be smart!”

“But isn't that why I got into this school?” He called back, panicking a bit. His mother groaned and he heard his grandmother laugh.

"Oh my sweet grandson... They will eat him alive."

“Mom, I am going to put you in a nursing home if you don't stop freaking him out!"

"You can try, Sophia. Alejandro has strict instructions to break me out though."

"Why do you think I'm sending him to America?" He heard his mother growl before the security guard gesture him forward.


“Are you going to pick a bed or not?”

Lance jumped, muttering in Spanish as he jolted back at the voice behind him. He turned to see a redhead kid standing in his room’s doorway with an eyebrow raised and bag slung over his shoulder.

“Sorry. Just… Taking it all in, I guess.” He shrugged and the boy scoffed.

“What? The empty room?”

“We are going to live here for awhile.” He said with what he hoped was a small, friendly smile. “Are you my roommate?” He asked and the kid shrugged and threw his stuff on one of the beds. He looked Lance up and down critically, seemingly assessing him for a moment before nodding his approval. He supposed he should be pleased by that, but the movement was done with such calculation that it made him a little nervous.

Maybe that was normal here?

“Um, I’m Alejandro.” He said and the kid hummed. Oh. Maybe that was too formal. Were Americans more informal people? He should have gone with his nickname – what an idiot. “Uh, I mean Lance. My friends call me Lance.” He corrected himself.

“Alejandro is fine.”

Ouch. Okay. His sister had assured him that people in America were usually pretty friendly – either he had bad luck or she lied. He wasn’t sure which was more likely…

Or maybe he had done something wrong? Was there a handshake or something he was supposed to greet with?

“What’s your name?” He asked weakly and the boy flipped open his bag (which was twice as big as Lance’s which meant it was three times bigger than Lance himself).

“Bishop.” He answered, words snipped and cold “Daniel Bishop.”

Oh. Oh. Lance had seen 007. He didn’t realize the way James Bond greeted himself was a custom thing. Wasn’t James Bond from England though…? Well maybe it was just something about the language itself.

McClain. Lance McClain. He could say that. It would be fine. Totally. Definitely.

…No, actually, he wasn’t fine. He was so out of his depth here. He bit his lip, trying to think of a good conversation starter. The room was completely empty so far to give him any good topics. Desperately he looked outside their door and – Bingo.

“So like…What’s with all the flags?” Lance asked. Bishop glanced over at him with a frown.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s just… So many flags.” He frowned, gesturing to the red, white, and blue just outside their room. “Why? Do you guys forget what country you’re in or something?”

He didn’t mean for it to come out as snippy – it was a genuine question. America was so big and he had been reassured that there were plenty of immigrants there. It wasn’t entirely out of the question to assume they forgot where they were sometimes.

“Hey,” Bishop said sharply “Don’t be disrespectful.”

Oh. Okay. So that wasn’t a good question then… Fair, he supposed. Quickly, he tried to think of something more polite to recover. He tried to think of a safe topic. He thought of the bowl of jolly ranchers set outside the dorm rooms to welcome students and grasped at what little he had experienced from the country so far.

“Grape flavored things don’t really taste like grapes here. Or maybe your grapes just taste different.” He tried and was greeted with silence “I…Uh, guess I haven’t had American grapes yet. Do you think they taste the same?”

This was a mess. Such a mess. The kid tilted his head.

“I… Love grapes.” Lance told him weakly.

“Yeah. Yeah, I kind of got that.”

Somebody needed to kill him. They needed to kill him right now.


So in case anyone was wondering it turned out greeting people like James Bond was not customary. He learned this quite quickly the next day when classes started. At least people thought he was funny…

God, he wanted to go home.

“Hot chocolate?” A barista called and Lance miserably slammed down some of the ugly green money that Americans used. Pesos were much prettier. The woman handed him back some change and Lance frowned at it. While the bills had numbers on it, he had no idea how to handle the coin situation. He figured he should just accept the fact she probably robbed him and stuffed them in his pocket, not bothering to count.

“Huh. You don’t seem gay. Are you – where are you going?”

Lance tilted his head. That sounded like one of the teachers… Iverson? Sure enough, he saw the familiar gray uniform behind him. Another man was sliding out of the booth who also looked vaguely familiar. It was hard to tell since he was currently gulping down a latte like his life depended on it. Lance took him in. He looked a bit of a mess with his shirt rumpled and sunglasses clearly hiding a hangover (Lance's abuela had told him early on what hungover people looked like so he knew to speak loudly or quietly depending on how much he liked them). He didn't answer Iverson's question as he walked out - with shoes that Lance were pretty positive did not match.

“Shirogane!” Iverson called, clearly irritated, but the man had already exited the shop without so much as looking at the other man “Takashi get back here!”

Lance walked towards the front of the shop, watching the man's back retreat. He tripped once and then got into a car.

“Wow.” He murmured. Maybe he should give America one more chance…

Because that man was his hero.


“I have a salsa emergency.” Hunk said, slamming down his book. Lance looked up slowly. He had become friends with the boy early into his Garrison days and honestly it was the best decision he had made since coming to this country.

Lance pressed a button on his phone and soon guitar strumming filled the room.

“You came to the right place.” He promised and Hunk rolled his eyes, straightening himself up.

“The condiment, Lance.”

“I have never been more disappointed in you.”

“I listened Celia Cruz and didn’t like her.” Hunk countered. Lance dropped his pencil in shock.

“I stand corrected.” He sniffed and pointed “Get out of here you monster.”

“Wait. No, I-”

“If you do not stan the goddess Celia Cruz, God rest her soul, then you do not truly deserve salsa.”

“Lance, please-”

Out, torpe. I can’t believe the disrespect brought into my own home…”

“This is my room!”


“Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

Lance looked up from his knees to see coffee shop guy standing in front of him. Inwardly, Lance groaned. Of course he would be caught crying in front of his newly found hero.

Coffee guy’s eyes were wide and terrified at the sight of Lance curled up on the floor, sobbing almost hysterically in front of him. He knelt down slowly, eyes searching for an immediate signs of injury.

“I… Why are you crying?” He asked, voice going soft and soothing. It did nothing to hide the panic in his expression, but Lance sniffled his answer anyways.

“I shouldn’t be here,” He whispered “I… I can’t believe nobody told me.”

“Oh God,” Coffee guy blinked and hesitantly put a hand on his arm “Okay. Alright, um… Nobody told you what?” He asked and Lance closed his eyes.

“They… You don’t have ropa vieja here.” He said, trying to hold back tears “Why can’t anybody cook? I thought America was the land of opportunity. Has nobody had an opportunity to follow a recipe?” He asked and there was a long beat of silence.

“You’re…Crying over…Food?” He asked and Lance frowned.

“Have you tried the food here?”

“…You would get along great with my boyfriend.”

“Does your boyfriend know how to season food?”


“Shit this.”

“I really don’t think that you used that word correctly.”

Lance slammed his head into his locker, swearing in Spanish. The teacher standing beside him rose an eyebrow, questioningly, but didn’t comment as he continued to hit the locker in frustration. Seriously what was even the deal with lockers? As far as Lance knew, America was literally the only place that had little tombs for people’s stuff at schools. It was weird. Really, really weird. Why couldn’t they just like… Carry a bag? It didn’t make sense.

“Um…” The teacher said and Lance whipped around, eyes alight with anger.

“No. No I am not saying a single word in English today.” He snapped out in Spanish “And I am not hearing a single word in English today. I’ve had enough. This country is a disaster. I’m going to go to my room and sleep until summer. So unless you can speak Spanish, get out of my face.” He growled and hit the locker one more time.

The teacher blinked.

“Well… I’m afraid I can’t let you leave.” He answered back. Lance reeled back because shit he spoke Spanish. Which definitely meant he understood Lance’s rant. “But, uh. It is time for lunch and my boyfriend ditched me to spend time with this random kid he stole so if you really don’t want to hear any English you can come with me.”

Lance stared.

Huh. He really hadn’t expected the situation to go like this.

“Yeah, okay.” He shrugged and grabbed his bag. He left the locker unlocked because he was not going through this entire hassle again. Besides, there were only his textbooks in there and who would steal textbooks?

“Right… So out of curiosity who told you the proper way to curse was ‘shit this’?” the teacher asked "Because that is atrocious."

"First of all, how dare you? People used to come from all over the world for my abuela's wisdom-"


“Mr. McClain where is your textbook?”

Lance sighed. He was too tired for this.

“They… Kind of got stolen, sir….” He grumbled. Who got their textbooks stolen? He did apparently. He did because his life just sucked that freaking much. He was officially going to start blaming America literally for everything that went wrong from now on. He wasn’t sure how, but that was going to be the solution.

After dealing with the class snickering at his stupidity, he dragged himself out of the room to find a store where he could buy another book that he probably couldn't afford anyways.

"Here."

Lance jumped, having not noticed the teacher from earlier standing outside the room, leaning against the wall. He blinked. A copy of each of his missing textbooks were in his hands, brand new by the looks of them.

"For...Me?" He asked "Why?"

"I'm feeling charitable today." The man shrugged "You have the same look on your face my boyfriend gets whenever we play Monopoly. That's not a good place to be in, kid." He said and Lance tilted his head.

"Monopoly? I've never played." He admitted. He had heard of the game, but his family was more into card games and Wii. "Uh, please don't shoot me." He added. The man frowned.

"Why would I shoot you for not having played Monopoly?"

"I don't know. Americans say a weird chant to a flag every morning, so I'm not really sure about anything." He admitted. The teacher's smile widened a fraction of an inch.

"Yeah... I still don't know what that's about. Pledging our allegiance to a flag? I know it's supposed to be symbolic for the country, but it feels a bit like brainwashing to me."

"Right?!" Lance yelled. The last time he had said that, Iverson had yelled at him. The teacher crossed his arms, gesturing for Lance to take the books.

"You know… I never did get your name. I'm Mr. Frasier, who are you?" He asked and Lance decided even if it wasn’t customary…Well. Introducing themselves like James Bond was pretty cool.

"McClain. Lance McClain."

“Dear God. Don’t ever do that again.”

“Why not?”

“Because you have way too much gel in your hair to be cool, my friend.”

"...My grandmother would have a real issue with you."


“I have a salsa emergency.”

“Hunk, I already gave you my mother’s recipe-”

“I meant the dance.”

Lance froze. He slowly reached for his phone. After a few seconds of silence, the strumming of guitars filled the room. Hunk rolled his eyes. Lance wasn’t entirely for sure why Hunk needed to learn to dance the salsa, but he wasn’t one to question gifts.

“I have never been more proud.”

“I gave Celia Cruz another try… She is an underappreciated musical genius.”

There was a pause.

“I stand corrected. Come on in, amigo. I see there is fire in your eyes. It must be from the passion you have about learning to salsa.”

“Actually, I just finished crying.”

Dude, me too!”


“Can you like…Tone down the Spanish, please?” Bishop asked, lying on his bed. Lance had just hung up the phone after talking to his sister, which had consisted of…80% yelling and 20% laughing. He supposed he was being kind of loud, but he was also pretty sure Bishop’s phrasing was definitely not polite.

“I… I’m pretty sure that’s racist.” Lance said blankly. He wasn’t an expert on racism by any means, but he was pretty sure the comment that was just made definitely wasn’t one a typical educated person should say.

“What? No it isn’t. Trust me, I’m familiar with racism.” Bishop informed. Lance nodded slowly. He shouldn’t make assumptions, he supposed. He didn’t really see many redheads wandering around Cuba, but maybe in other Hispanic countries they existed. Who knew?

“Oh…. Sorry. Are you Hispanic?”

“Uh… No. Why?”

Well. There went that logic.

“…then I am very confused.” He said and paused “Do… Do you even know what country I’m from?”

“Mexico.”

Dude. Holy – He had to make sure to tell Mr. Frasier about this bullshit later.

“No. Cuba.”

“You don’t look Cuban.”

“Yeah, well, you look like a little bitch.”

“Are…all Cubans as dramatic as you?”

“I feel like to prevent stereotypes I should say no… but I also want you to be afraid of the power my country holds so I’m going to say yes.”


Lance trusted his brother. He really, really did… But he also wasn’t over the whole gun thing.

Even though he was fourteen now, the idea that people could just…Have guns scared the shit out of him. He had even seen them just strapped to people. Sometimes he swore he saw people just flinging them about even though Bishop said it was just paranoia.

The uneasiness of the situation was finally pressed to the limit when someone dropped their books in the hallways and Lance screamed. The entire hallways turned to him, but before he could dignify his actions with a response a hand landed on his shoulder, spinning him away from the crowd.

“This is starting to be a problem,” Mr. Frasier said, dragging him down the hallway “You're going to have toget over this” He said and Lance frowned. He didn’t know Mr. Frasier well – or really much about him other than there were rumors he was dating Mr. Shirogane (aka coffee guy)… but he trusted him.

At least more than those other snakes in the school... @DanielBishop specifically. Lance knew it was him who stole his shampoo. Worst. Roommate. Ever.

He was also suspicious that the guy was a serial killer, but that was a whole other situation that felt less important than the shampoo thing.

“I need you to do me favor, Alejandro.” Mr. Frasier said, leading him through a series of doors and hallways (some of which needed access keys) “Do you know who Takashi Shirogane is?”

Lance nodded.

“Good. Right. Tell him nothing about this.” Mr. Frasier said and Lance felt the first stab of worry at that. His concerned were immediately heightened when he realized where they were.

“I’m going to die.” He said blankly, staring at the shooting range. "I knew it would be you who killed me... Tell my family I love them and that this is their fault entirely."

Mr. Frasier scoffed.

“You're not going to die. You’re going to learn to shoot a gun so you can stop being such a baby about it.” He said and led Lance over to a counter. “I always come here when I need some time to think. You’ll be surprised how relaxing it is to shoot something. Especially when you picture it having the face of someone who has annoyed you.”

“Are… Are you okay?”

“How sweet of you to ask... No, I'm not.” Mr. Frasier told him “Come on, I’ll show you what to do.”

"No thanks. Shit this." Lance said and started to walk away. Mr. Frasier grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

"Please stop saying that."

"No. It's my catchphrase now."

"I cannot even express how upset that makes me." Adam sighed and gently nudged him towards the gun "Come on... Think of how cool you'll look."

Lance paused. He thought of James Bond again.

"I mean...Okay, fine."

How could he argue with those quality debate skills?

"I should be more concerned that it was the coolness factor that convinced you, but I'll take it." Adam said.

Exactly three hours later he had gotten pretty good with shooting… It wasn’t as scary when you were the one shooting as it turned out… And Mr. Frasier wasn’t the worst teacher. Lance found himself grinning wildly at him after he nearly his a perfect bullseye.

“Wow. First time and you’re already shooting like a pro.” He said, giving a low whistle and Lance felt himself blush a bit at that “Nice work, sharpshooter.”

Huh. Sharpshooter. Kind of catchy.


Good news: Lance was fifteen and now had an allowance to buy more than the occasional cup of hot chocolate.

More good news: Lance now knew how to count American coins.

Bad news: the cashier clearly did not.

“It’s… How are we not getting this right?” Lance demanded “$12.47? Why is it such a specific amount?! I bought one pack of coffee is $10. Where is this $2.47 coming from?” He demanded. He was doing the math right. He knew he was. The cashier was adamant though.

“Look, I just ring you up. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“But…” He trailed off “But it says $10 on the box.” Lance told him. It wasn’t so much that he minded paying an extra $2.47 – it’s just he felt like he should know why it was happening. He looked around the empty store. “I don’t understand.” He murmured.

Wait. Was this a porn thing?

Was the guy trying to jack up his price so he had to pay with sex or something? Really, that was flattering. Lance didn’t realize that happened in outside of…adult movies.

“I can’t take the sales tax off, sir.” The cashier sighed and Lance paused.

“Sales…tax?” He asked “Wait, wait, wait. Are you telling me that the tax wasn’t already included in the price on the box?” He demanded. Seriously. He wished it had been a sex thing. At least that made more sense. The cashier blinked and slowly nodded. “What the fuck? Why would you do that?”

“I mean… It wasn’t really a personal decision.”

“So everyone does this?”

“Well, like, the government yeah. It varies by state-”

“Oh great. Now we’re back to the government!” He yelled “What are they doing over there?! Why would you not do something as simple as adding in the sales tax to the price?!”

“Well… I think it has something to do with the fact-”

“Not now George!” Lance shouted, pointing at the cashier. “This is ridiculous. Your country is in shambles and you are letting this happen?!”

“It’s kind of always been this way.”

“Just because that is how it’s always been does not give us the right to ignore evil in the road, George.” Lance said and maybe it was because he was working off of three hours of sleep, but he was not willing to let this go “No. You have to a stand. You have to wake up each morning and look at yourself in the mirror and think ‘what kind of person will I be today?’ before facing the life that was given to you! You have to decide what you’ll fight for, George. What you are willing to die for!” He yelled, slamming his hand down on the belt “And you know what? This isn’t right! This is injustice. I should be able to go the goddamn store, see some shitty coffee, and be able to buy it at the price it says without worrying about factoring in some nonsense numbers!” He let out a deep breath. “We deserve better.”

George blinked slowly. Once. Twice.

“So… Cash or card?”

"Listen here-"


Lance really liked Mr. Frasier.

Mostly for the fact he had dirt on everyone in the school and he could speak Spanish, but he supposed as general person he was alright too.

“You are a hero. A true hero.” Adam told him as he set down some food “I hope I get you in my class this semester.” He hummed and Lance quickly snatched a bagel from him.

“Hey, the raisin ones are mine.” He told him, switching over to Spanish. Adam stared at him. For a second Lance thought he had done something wrong.

“Why couldn’t Shiro have chosen you?” He asked, choking up a little.

“What?”

“Keith hates raisins.” Adam pouted and Lance nodded. Keith. Right. Lance knew more about Keith Kogane than he thought possible. The kid was technically in the same program as him, but they hadn’t ever officially met. Still, Lance knew plenty about him through Adam’s consistent complaints.

The situation was apparently this: Shiro decided to take Keith in and was his legal guardian… which was fine except for the fact that the guy (and this is a direct quote from Adam himself) ‘has ruined my already tragic life’.

“That’s upsetting.”

“I know.” Adam muttered and took a bite of the bagel. “Ohhh… I have to tell you about Elena.”

“Elena?”

“Her and Andrew broke up.”

“Are you serious?” Lance choked "Shit that!" Adam nodded eagerly. Unlike Lance he did not like Elena as much on the account it took her a long time to realize him and Takashi were dating (and she flirted with Mr. Shirogane during that time a lot).

“Oh yeah. Andrew dumped her in the pet aisle on Wal-Mart.” He clicked his tongue “Who does that? You couldn’t have picked a better location?”

“Was it maybe a spur of a moment type thing?” Lance suggested and they continued on this road for a good twenty minutes, only stopping when someone walked in.

“Uh… Sorry, Mr. Frasier.” A girl frowned “I didn’t realize you were with somebody. Is, uh. Mr. Shirogane around?” She asked and Adam hummed, gesturing her towards his classroom. As soon as she left, he turned towards Lance.

“Gay.”

“No way. How do you know?”

“She came to talk to me and then her follow-up person to talk to was my boyfriend. She definitely is going through a gay crisis. My guess is she has a teacher-crush on Elena and doesn’t know how to deal with it.”

“Maybe she had a question about… I don’t know, your class?” Lance suggested, amusement flickering over his expression. Adam chewed on his bagel thoughtfully for a moment before shaking his head.

“No way. Why would she come to me first? I might be an amazing gay, but I’m a terrible teacher.” He dismissed “Takashi is a terrible gay, but an amazing teacher… If she had an academic question she would go to him first.” He reasoned. Lance shrugged. Fair point. Even Commander Iverson said Mr. Shirogane didn’t ‘look gay’ which the man appeared to take pretty personally.

“Anyways,” Adam continued “Back to Elena and Andrew. It sounds like he was a total hoe.”

"Same."

"You're like fifteen, Lance."


“I am not a terrible gay!” Shiro spluttered. Lance shrugged. He was just the messenger. “And Adam never mentioned that he knew you.” The paladin frowned. Lance bit his lip a little nervously as he glanced towards the room where everyone was currently sleeping. He got the feeling he was about the throw his friend under the bus here… But he also couldn’t lie to Shiro.

“Yeah, well, we were conspiring against you and Keith most of the time. I doubt that was something he wanted to bring up over dinner.” He admitted, running a hand through his hair. Shiro blinked at the admission.

Conspiring against us?” He repeated suspiciously and Lance laughed nervously. Oh boy.

“Well… Yeah.” He shrugged and took a sip of his hot chocolate to avoid eye contact. “So…Do you remember what I said before? About how the whole thing between Keith and I started because I mistranslated something?” He said and Shiro narrowed his eyes.

“Yes…”

“Well. The funny thing is… The person I went to advise me on the situation was-”

“Adam.”

Shiro looked livid. Lance felt an immediate need to rectify the situation. The poor guy was probably fast asleep a few feet away – not realizing he was in mortal peril.

“Well, yes. I think it was after… No, no before he bailed me out jail-”

“Before he what?”

“You knew I got arrested!”

“I didn’t know my boyfriend was the one breaking you out!”

“Let me finish my story.” Lance scowled and crossed his arms. Shiro groaned.

Chapter Text

“Your step-brother is a dick.” Lance scowled as he stormed into the room, throwing his bag down. Adam paused in eating his noodles to look up at Lance’s scowl. He nodded.

“He’s not really my step-brother since we aren’t married yet, but I see your point.” He agreed. Lance should feel better that Adam was agreeing with him… But he also wasn’t done being mad. Adam seemed to sense this because he gestured for him to sit down. “I didn’t realize you two had even met.” He said slowly and Lance buried his face in his hands.

“Well we met today.” He spat out. Sure, Keith and Lance technically had known each other for years now. Lance had occasionally thrown some snide comments his way because the guy was kind of annoying, but it wasn't until they both ended up in Shiro's class that they spent extended amount of time near one another. Shiro had decided to move Lance next to Keith - which had been fine up until an hour ago. He growled out a few swears. At some point he had switched to Spanish, his anger making him lose focus on what language he was speaking. Adam hummed, not fazed by the transition. “He totally set me up!” He groaned and Adam frowned at that.

“He… Did?” He asked “Huh. Keith isn’t… Really… I don’t know, the kid isn’t that manipulative usually.” He said and a touch of fondness hinted in his eyes “I must be rubbing off on him!”

No.” Lance snarled and reached into his bag to wave his maracas (long story, don't ask) around. Adam scowled. He knew the story behind the maracas, of course, but was of the firm belief that Lance's idea was stupid. Lance just thought he was upset that he hadn't thought of it first.

“That comment didn't warrant the maracas, Lance. How did he set you up?” He asked and Lance took a deep breath before launching into the story. Essentially what had happened was this:

Lance was sick yesterday. He kind of freaked out because Lance was known to miss everything, but class. He was a good student – his family dished out enough money for him to be here that he definitely wasn’t going to mess around with his grades. So he came in early this morning and surprise! Kogane was already in his seat (probably because Mr. Shirogane brought the poor guy with him).

Because Lance was a naïve, trusting moron he asked Keith what the reading had been yesterday since he knew they had a quiz today. Keith had told him and Lance went to his seat to do the reading before class started.

Yeah. Lance had failed the quiz.

The prick gave him the wrong one. Honestly, who does that? Who purposely gives someone the wrong information when you don’t even know each other? Lance was absolutely livid. He had been ranting for about twenty minutes when he noticed Adam staring at him strangely.

“What?”

“Um…” Adam frowned and leaned forward. He switched to English, which was a little weird for them, but Lance didn’t mind. “Can you repeat to me what you asked Keith in English?” He asked and Lance frowned.

“I asked him for the lecture.”

Adam winced.

“I see what the problem is.” He said slowly and sighed “So Keith isn’t manipulative after all.” He muttered and Lance wasn’t entirely sure why he looked so disappointed with that. “Lectura and lecture aren’t the same, Lance. Lecture means…Like…lección.” He suggested, trying to come up with a good Spanish equivalent. “You asked Keith what you were talking about in class. Not what the reading was.”

Lance froze.

Well. This was incredibly awkward. He opened his mouth for a moment and then snapped it shut, unsure of how to proceed. Adam seemed to see the distress in his face and patted his arm.

“Um… So I might have been in the wrong to tell him we were now rivals and I was going to kick his ass in class from now on?” He asked. This was so embarrassing. Adam clicked his tongue.

“Did you really make it rhyme?”

“Of course I did, who do you think I am?”

“Sorry,” He snorted and shook his head “You might have messed up, but we can figure this out.”

“Should I like…Apologize or something?” He asked. God, his pride was going to crumble into nothingness. He was almost relieved when Adam immediately shook his head.

“You can’t apologize!” He told him, thrumming his fingers on the desk. “Something similar happened when Takashi and I met… He apologized and we ended up dating.” He said. Lance thought to Keith. His nonchalant attitude, lack of passion, and air of boredom.

“Yikes,” He grumbled. Sure, Keith was pretty, but Lance wasn’t even into guys. “I do not want to date Keith.”

“Well Keith probably doesn’t want to date you either unless you got a trust fund hidden somewhere.” Adam informed him... It also appeared that Keith was a gold digger. Another point lost there. Lance could be the only gold digger in a relationship.

“Well what do I do?”

“Well… Takashi did put you guys next to one another so you could inspire him to get better grades.” He said slowly “I guess you could just go with it.”

“So what? I really just kick his ass in class?”

“He has raw talent, but you work a lot harder. You two are basically neck in neck.” Adam shrugged “Don’t worry. Colluding against my boyfriend’s adopted brother is basically a dream of mine. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about annoying him.” He smiled and folded his hands together. Lance leaned in.

“Go on.”


So America was full of weird, weird things. Like…The streets were obnoxiously wide to start off. Why did cars need so much room? He certainly didn’t know. They also gave out free refills, which was bizarre. Lance would go to a restaurant and the waitress just kept putting more of the drink in his cup and he was never expected to pay… Even if he drank four cups of soda, they just made him pay for the one. He also still wasn’t over the sales tax, but at least that was something he could get used to that to some extent. This? He would never get used to.

There was just so many…options. Lance couldn’t just go to the store to pick up a few things. No. He was going on a quest that was fraught with peril and anxiety. It was with this in mind that landed him in the position he was now.

“Lance, just pick one.”

“Pick one?” Lance scoffed and shook his head “How? What does half of this stuff mean?” He asked and picked up two boxes and thrusting them at Hunk “Crest or Colgate? What’s the difference?” He demanded. Sure, he was familiar with both brands, but why did they need both as the same store? He picked up another box “This Aquafresh apparently has whitening stuff in it, but this one has… Flouride?” He asked, a little bewildered.

He understood why hair and skin products might vary. People had lots of different hair types or skin types. Lance actually appreciated that as someone who consistently maintained beautiful skin and hair… But did people’s teeth vary so much that there needed to be an entire aisle dedicated to toothpaste?

“Flouride makes your teeth stronger.” Hunk shrugged “I doubt you need it. There’s already fluoride in the water so-”

What?” Lance spluttered, dropping the toothpaste “There’s something in the water? Like the water I drink?”

“It doesn’t hurt you, buddy. Like I said, it just makes your teeth – Lance?” He called when he dropped the toothpaste and walked away.

“No. Nope. Shit this.” He grumbled, marching across the stores “I’m buying bottled water. No freaking flour-ade or whatever in that.” He muttered and paused. He stared.

Come on.

He groaned and from next to him, a girl in a pink dress tilted her head.

“Are you…Alright?” She asked, him. He glanced at her, taking in long, dirty blonde hair and large eyes that were assessing him with curiosity.

“How many brands of bottled water do you need?” He scowled “It’s…Water.”

“We usually get the store brand.” She shrugged “It’s the cheapest.”

“Does…It have flour…Uh, fluoride in it?” He asked, trying to remember whatever word Hunk had thrown at him. The girl furrowed her brows.

“I mean, I think so. Why wouldn’t it have- Okay, bye.” She said, a bit bewildered as Lance walked away. That was it. He was going to have to grow his own food and collect rain water from now on. No way was he trusting whatever these people put into their food and drinks. Nope. No, no, no. He was too beautiful for this.

“Fluoride is good for you!” Hunk tried as he jogged after him, but Lance was not having it. “No, Lance, please don’t – I still don’t get the maraca thing.” He groaned. Lance ignored him and reached into his bag to pull out the instruments. They weren’t the nice kind or anything – Lance doubted that there were any nice maracas in the middle of Arizona – but they got the job done.

…Not that anyone really knew what the job was… Except for Bishop. That son of a bitch knew why he was carrying around maracas. In answer to Hunk’s question he shook them, letting the rattling noise drown out the sales tax and discussion of fluoride water.


“Hi.”

“Lance…? It’s like three in the morning.” Adam’s voice came from the other end of the phone, slightly groggy. Lance looked around and shifted a bit uneasily.

“I… Kind of need your help.”

“What? Right now? Ask me tomorrow. I’m going back to sleep-”

“No, no!” Lance said quickly “I only get one phone call!” There was a pause on the other end of the line and he could hear a long sigh.

“You only get…” There was some more silence and then the sound of Adam counting backward from ten “Lance… Please tell me you did not get arrested.”

“I really, really wish I could.” Lance muttered and there was shuffling on the other end before a string of cursing in Spanish. “I’m sorry,” He winced “I just didn’t know who else to call and-”

“What did you even do?!” Adam demanded and Lance went silent “I’m not getting you until I know.”

Oh boy. He tried to tell himself that explaining the situation to Adam would be so much better than explaining it to his mother… Then again, his mother usually knew what the Hell he did before he even did it so growing up he never really had to explain his actions that much.

“I… It’s a long story…” He started and when he received no answer, sighed “So… Apparently the drinking laws are much stricter here-” He started, wrinkling his nose. Twenty-one? Really?

You know what – Lance could even accept twenty-one as the legal age of drinking. Fine. Whatever… But the idea that it is actually enforced? He figured maybe it was a bigger deal since Americans drove so much… But still. It felt silly.

“Really? They arrested you for that?” Adam asked, annoyance rising. Perhaps he had similar thoughts on the drinking laws… Or maybe he was irritated with Lance.

“I…Wasn’t finished.”

“Oh God.”

“I might have stolen a dog.” He sighed, hitting his head against the wall as he spoke. Stupid, stupid, stupid. “Okay… It was more like three dogs.”

They were cute and he was drunk. Sue him for wanting to give them a better home, alright?

“I…You stole three dogs while drunk. Right. Okay.” Adam said from the other end “I guess that isn’t… Terrible. I kind of want to know where the dogs came from though.”

“I’m still not finished.”

Alejandro!”

“I’m sorry!” Lance groaned “Well… the police found me and they told me they had to take me back to my dorm and notify the school I had been drinking, right?” He said and there was a hum of acknowledgement “Well… They also said I had to return the dogs and Drunk Lance didn’t really like that idea so…” He trailed off and Adam cleared his throat. Waiting. “So I tried to get away with the dogs. In a police car.”

“You stole a police car…”

“I’m still not finished.”

Seriously? What more could you do?”

“Adam…” He groaned, hitting his head against the wall in front of him. There was a noise of apology and Lance continued “So I took the police car and I… I kind of realized I didn’t know how to drive about thirty seconds later and panicked.”

“So you calmly parked the car and allowed them to arrest you.”

“Well. I parked the car by crashing it into a tree, yeah.”

There was a pause.

“…Is… Is that it?”

“I also happen to match the description of a famous prostitute around here so they need someone to confirm my identity. Apparently my school ID isn’t enough... I also didn’t know prostitution was illegal in America? That was my back-up plan if the piloting thing didn’t work out…”

“Mine too. I’ll come get you - can you give the officer the phone for a second?” Adam asked him dryly. Lance sighed in relief before handing the phone to the officer. He had been a little worried he was going to have to wait however long before he could leave.

The officer grabbed the phone, listening for a few seconds before snorting.

“Yeah, he had his bag with him. I’ll take care of that.” The policeman said and Lance tilted his head as he set the phone down and turned to a lady signing off on forms. He whispered something to her and she scoffed before disappearing.

What was happening?

“The guy on the phone said you had a piloting exam tomorrow.” The officer said, turning back to Lance. “He’ll come and get you after you finish studying for it.” He said and the lady came back and dumped his textbook in his arms.

“Why is there a set of maracas in your book bag?” She asked curiously. Lance might have charmingly told her what the story was there if he hadn’t been so concerned with the officer’s previous statement.

“I – he’s going to get me when?” Lance asked, but wasn’t answered as he was ushered back into the holding cell, books in hand.

That son of a bitch.

Sitting down in the shared cell he looked around. There were three other people in there with him that looked varying degrees of terrifying. The girl with the full sleeve of tattoos was kind of hot. He would flirt with her, but… She was terrifying and he was literally holding a textbook. Not to mention his answer for ‘what did you do?’ was ‘grand theft auto with some canine sidekicks after a couple shots of rum’.

A man with biceps the size of Lance’s head looked him up and down and he found himself smiling nervously.

“Uh, come here often?” He asked weakly and the man snorted.

“How old are you, kid?”

“Sixteen.” He answered, voice going a little small. The man shook his head.

“Make this a one time thing, alright?” He told him and Lance felt his shoulders relax a little at the scolding. He gave a sheepish smile and nodded.

“Why are you here?”

“Smuggled some coke into the state.” He shrugged “Well. They say I did.” He smiled a bit to himself “They won’t be able to prove anything. Ten bucks says that I’ll get out of here within the hour.”

“I don’t gamble.”

“Good boy.” The man nodded approvingly. Lance laughed. Now that they were in a conversation, the guy didn’t seem nearly as intimidating as he first thought. Lance tilted his head, deep in thought.

“So… You’re good at smuggling then?” He said slowly and the man shrugged “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about Little Tuna, would you?” He asked and the man rose an eyebrow at him.

He supposed it was a little bewildering for a skinny Cuban kid who had been crying earlier to suddenly bring up Little Tuna.

“Are you talking about that new mob boss running around the space school?” He asked and Lance nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard a thing or two. Why?”

Lance grinned. The hot girl from earlier turned to him, her ears perking up at the mob boss’ name. He couldn’t believe he didn’t think of this before – he literally knew the coolest criminal. He leaned forward a little, a smirk playing at his lips.

“Wanna work for him?”


 “Your ride is here, McClain!”

Lance glanced up from the cell, scrambling to stand as he saw Adam’s face on the other side of the bars. The officer stood beside him looking both amused and exhausted.

“Hey!” He said brightly “Thanks for coming to get me.” Lance smiled sheepishly. Adam stared at him. He noted idly that there was an envelope labeled Keith’s Bail Money in his hand and wondered if he should be proud or upset that he got arrested before his rival did. “Uh… Good news though!” He said brightly and flourished a piece of paper “That girl in there gave me her number! She’s a senior at the high school a few miles –hey!” He objected when Adam plucked the paper out of his hands.

“Yeah, I don’t know how straight people do things, but there is no way I’m letting your future wife be some chick you met in a holding cell.”

“That’s a bit judgmental, don’t you think?”

“Alejandro, I am a judgmental person.” Adam snipped at him. Lance kept his mouth shut. Usually Adam stuck to calling him Lance unless he was really annoyed or really serious. He supposed since he was forced out of bed early in the morning to get him out of jail… Yeah, that was understandable.

“Did you at least study?” He asked, rubbing his temples. Lance frowned.

“You were serious about that?” He asked and Adam immediately turned away “Wait – fuck. No!” He called, reaching between the bars to stop him “I’ll do it while you filling out the paperwork. Promise!” He said desperately. Adam scowled, but nodded at the officer.

...And Adam said he was a terrible teacher. Lance was willing to bet Shiro didn’t make Keith study whenever he got locked up in jail. Ridiculous.

Exactly an hour later Lance was released. He wasn’t entirely sure how Adam managed to haggle down the crimes so that he didn’t have to show up to court, but was extremely grateful. He knew drinking could be left off with a warning – but theft of animals and destruction of a police car? Maybe not so much.

“Um… So I don’t know what they told you on the dog situation, but I had to return them to the pet store. The owner did say that he would give me a discount if I -”

“Get in the car.”

“Cool, cool. On it.”


“I don’t care who did all the work. Everyone in the group gets the same grade.”

Lance stared. He looked over at his group members who were all busy talking to each other and then at the project in front of him. Mr. Shirogane stared back him, unrelenting.

“But-”

“Same grade.” He said and Lance narrowed his eyes. He knew that the jerk was simply too lazy to grade everyone separately, but was also not sure he wanted to call him out on it. Next to him, Kogane tapped his pen idly. He didn’t have to work with anyone it seemed. Which, well, Lance felt like he was in a similar position, but at least Kogane wasn’t pulling along dead weight. He looked at his bag... He wondered how Shiro would react if Lance took out his maracas and waved them at him.

“I thought America was against communism, but whatever.” He muttered as soon as Shiro’s back was turned. He made mental note to complain to Adam about this when Shiro made a spluttering noise.

Did he say that too loudly? Whoops.

Shiro didn’t look…Upset though. On the contrary he looked almost… Amused? It quickly turned stern.

Interesting. Perhaps he could win his teacher over with his stunning sense of humor. Lance felt his smirk grow and his gaze slipped to Keith. Maybe… Just maybe he could kill two birds with one stone here… Annoying Keith and making his teacher die of laughter? Glorious. Magnificent. Beautiful.

“Hey,” He called out “Would you say an octopus is essentially a wet spider?”

Shiro choked on his coffee. Keith gave a long sigh from beside him, closing his eyes.

“What kind of moronic reasoning-”

“Mr. McClain please focus on your work.” Shiro cut him off, but he could see the man still recovering from the statement. He smirked and went back to their… ‘group’ work.

"Hey, Kogane." He whispered and reached out to kick Keith's foot "You should know it is my moronic reasoning that will get me to that valedictorian spot instead of you." He taunted and there was a snap. Lance watched half-amused and half-concerned as the pencils in Kogane's hands broke. It wasn't quite the reaction he was expecting, but hey. It worked.

Point to Lance.


“Hello, welcome to the parent help hotline! How can I help you?”

“Hello…Uh, it’s me again.”

Why did Lance always walk into these things? He supposed it was kind of his fault. He needed to stop going to Shirogane and Fraiser for help. They were clearly not the most equipped of the Garrison teachers… But damn if they didn’t try.

Or at least Shiro did.

“I… Takashi?” The woman on the other end of the line sighed “You called this morning.”

“Well I’ve messed up again since this morning.” Shiro muttered. Lance should probably leave… but he really needed someone to explain the imperial system to him again and none of the other teachers ever explained it as well as Shiro did. It was so frustrating. How many points had he lost on exams because everything just had to be in pounds instead kilograms? Or feet instead of meters?

The rest of the world used the metric system! Why couldn’t he?

There was a long sigh from the other end of the phone and Shiro scowled down at it.

“What did he do now?”

“So he made a friend…”

“That’s great! Didn’t you want him to be more social?” The woman on the phone said. Shiro ran a hand through his hair before pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Well, yes. But he keeps hanging out with this guy named Draven who is teaching him how to sword fight and I need reassurance that I’m not I terrible guardian.” He grumbled “I’ve been preventing him from meeting up with the guy, but I caved today. Is this the beginning of the end?”

“He’s… Teaching him to sword fight.” The woman said slowly “I suppose I can see the concern…”

Lance rolled his eyes and turned away. He would come back later. Even when Lance needed help with his school work, Kogane somehow ruined it for him. Jerk.


 “So now I can’t drink milk anymore!” Adam was saying as he graded some papers. Lance hummed in acknowledgement, scribbling his homework down. “Like we can’t trust the kid to not drink a carton of milk if we buy it? I can’t have dairy in my own home because he has no self-control?”

“Believe me, I know the feeling.” Lance told him. They were both speaking in Spanish in case someone passed by, but he got the feeling there were still people around trying to eavesdrop “You should sit in our class – it’s honestly ridiculous what he gets away with.”

“Such obvious favoritism!”

“I know!” Lance complained and held out his bag of marshmallows for the teacher to take one. “I’m so glad I have someone to talk to about this. It’s been driving me crazy.” He scoffed. Adam tapped his pen on the table, looking around the room. After a few moments of silence he spoke again.

“Have you noticed he’s been a little… On edge lately?” Adam asked, chewing his marshmallow thoughtfully “That James kid is really getting to him.”

Lance hummed in agreement. While Keith was definitely a jerk, James was…Well. He was next level. Lance might even consider him Daniel Bishop level. And the guy had seemed to make it his personal mission to torture Keith. Not in the fun way either. Lance lost track of how many snide comments were made about the guy’s parents or his lack family. It almost made him want to hand Keith him maracas out of pity. Almost.

“Yeah, it’s making Keith kind of a lame enemy.” He said slowly and Adam nodded immediately. He pushed his glasses up “He doesn’t even respond to my witty insults anymore.”

“Should we…Do something about it?” He asked.

“I mean…” Lance said slowly “He is my rival. I can’t have someone else being a rival to my rival.”

“Absolutely. And he did give me his blessing to propose to Takashi without being a jerk... So I kind of owe him.”

“You needed his permission to-? Nevermind.” Lance nodded and tilted his head “So are we in agreement? Team up against James for reasons that have nothing to do with feeling bad that Keith is getting picked on?”

“Let’s do it.” Adam nodded “We’ll begin our planning tomorrow… What should we do if Keith finds out though?”

“We might need to consider sabotage. You know… Remind him that we’re enemies.”

“As your inside man I can probably poison him with milk in the mornings.”

“…I love it.


 So Lance landed himself in detention for calling Iverson a furry.

Whoops? He can’t really say he regretted it too much. He was a little surprised that he was alone with Mr. Shirogane though. He figured that even though Keith threatened to shove a textbook down Bishop’s throat that he would never get detention... But really. His other classmates were terrible too. It seemed unreal that it was just him… Or perhaps Shiro knew him well enough to know he would spend his entire detention goofing around if he was around other people. He sat down miserably, his bag rattling as he did so. Shiro looked at him from the desk. Then at his bag.

He waited. Shiro stared.

Silence.

“Can I ask about the maracas?”

Lance snorted. He knew the man was weak willed.

“Ah, yes.” He smiled and reached into the bag. He had waved them in Bishop’s face earlier, which was probably another reason why Shiro was asking “I call them my racist shakers.”

“Your what?” Shiro spluttered and Lance shrugged.

“My roommate said I didn’t look Cuban enough. I improvised.” He explained “Whenever he says something stupid I just sort of… Shake them before announcing how wrong he is. Kind of like a drum roll.” He said and put his chin in his hand “Now I kind of just use them when things annoy me in general.”

Shiro blinked. Lance smiled brightly back. He decided it was best not to go into how Bishop tried to tell him maracas were strictly a Colombian instrument... They would be there for awhile if Lance got into that rant.

“I need something like that. My boss says I don’t gay enough.” Shiro told him. Lance nodded. He had heard. A lot. From Adam.

“Is that why you’re wearing nail polish?” He asked and Shiro sighed, looking down at his nails before nodding miserably.

“I hate nail polish.” He muttered and Lance snorted. Shiro hadn’t initially struck him as the petty type, but considering who he was dating. Well… He shouldn’t be surprised.

“At least it looks nice.” He told him, eyeing over his nails “Maybe you should carry around a pride flag everywhere…And whenever people say homophobic things you can just wave it in their faces.”

“That doesn’t sound nearly as catchy as racist shakers.” Shiro informed him and Lance bit back a grin.

“It makes Bishop so mad.” He said. The guy really wasn’t a fan of Lance’s maracas. Sad.

Shiro snorted.

“You remind me of my boyfriend.”

…If only he knew. Lance debated about telling him, but shook it off.


  “ADAM FRASIER!”

Lance slapped his hand over his ears, wincing at Shiro’s yell. Shiro looked livid. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised. He did just find out his boyfriend had been planning on helping Lance to poison his surrogate little brother.

“Takashi?” Came a sleepy yawn and Keith rolled (literally rolled like a freaking ninja) into the kitchen with his bayard out “Why are you-?”

You’re the reason Lance and Keith don’t get along?!”

There was a pause.

“Uh…What?” Keith asked, rubbing his eyes. His hair was mused from sleeping, but he still seemed to be more awake than the rest of them. “Lance just hates me. Adam has nothing to do-”

“You told him?!” Adam interrupted, looking at Lance. Yikes. He should have considered the consequences of telling Shiro this a little more in depth. Keith froze, slowly turning the man.

“Adam…?” He spluttered “You… What?” He turned to Lance and Shiro, brows pulling together “Explain?”

“Adam apparently convinced Lance to become your enemy instead of clarifying a simply translation mistake.” Shiro simplified bluntly. “Then helped him conspire against you.”

“Conspire is a such a strong word…”

“This is the best thing I’ve ever walked in on.” Pidge whispered to Hunk, who nodded. “Can you make us something to eat while we watch?” She asked and Hunk elbowed her… But he did eye the fridge for a moment "Also," She called a bit louder and narrowed her eyes "Did you say earlier that you knew Little Tuna?" She asked and Lance frowned.

"Were you here the whole time?"

"I'm a light sleeper. You know this." She said. Shiro was staring at them blankly as Adam put a hand over his heart.

"You knew Little Tuna?” He sputtered and Lance gave an apologetic grimace.

“Little… Tuna?” Shiro asked. Keith rolled his eyes.

“All that gossip and you didn’t hear about the mob boss that was terrorizing the Garrison?” He asked dryly. Shiro gaped.

“No? What the Hell?” He asked and nobody called him out on the cursing. He turned to Adam “You knew?”

“Yeah. Iverson spent months trying to catch that guy. He supposedly was a scary dude. I can’t believe you worked for him, Lance.” Adam told him accusingly. The paladin chuckled.

“Yeah. I thought about telling you, but… I didn’t want to upset him. He was pretty nasty. I might have lost a hand or something.” He shrugged and the comment seemed to remind Shiro that he ws upset because he spun back to Adam.

"Also, you stole Keith's bail money from me?" He asked. Adam froze, turning to Lance with betrayed eyes. Lance winced and offered an apologetic gesture. There were a few beats of silence that were filled with Keith sputtering indignantly that he shouldn't have had bail money when Adam got up and walked away. “I swear to – where are you going?” Shiro yelled as Adam grabbed headed towards the door.

“I was never here.”

“This is your apartment.” Keith told him, unimpressed.

“I. Was. Never. Here.”

“Adam I can literally just follow you.” Shiro snapped and did just that. The door slammed closed behind them and Keith turned to Lance.

“So… You don’t hate me?

Chapter Text

If he really wanted to – Lance could have blamed the entire situation on border control.

He would launch into a dramatic monologue about the tension between Cuba and America and how past administrative relationships still played a huge role in the political atmosphere today. He might point out how many Americans appeared to have an inability to differentiate between most Hispanic cultures and seemed to have the habit of just lumping them all together. He could cross his arms and insist that his English was perfectly fine, thank you very much and insist on speaking to some upper management.

However, he knew that these things – while all incredibly relevant – were glossing over the fact that he was a complete dumbass.

His mother had told him he didn’t need to fight every battle he came across in life. She had actually told him that many, many times. Unfortunately, Lance liked to think that (sometimes) she might not (always) know everything.

He made a quick mental note to not make that mistake again.

“I’m sorry, what did you just say?”

He was going to get his ass kicked before he even got into the country. Lance was sixteen now. He should really know how to get past American security without mouthing off by this point.

“I said of course I can fucking speak English.” He snapped out because he had committed to be an idiot at this point. The customs agent stared at him, open mouthed and eyes wide at his tone. He figured he was just demonstrating his...proficiency in the language.

Lance knew the whole ‘can you speak English?’ thing was a routine question, but he had just spent eight hours on a plane and come on. He had just had an entire conversation with the guy and nobody else got asked.

“Sir, we’re going to have to ask you to come this way.”

He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain this to his mother… Again.


 “…I swear to God, McClain.” Bishop yowled, gripping his face as a loud smack filled the room. “First the morrocos, now this?” He asked and Lance gave a false hum of sympathy.

“Maracas, dude. Morocco is a country.” He told him “And I’m not doing it on purpose. You’re just standing too close. It’s been years since we started living together, man. You should know better.” He frowned and turned back to the girl he was talking to. She smiled prettily at him, twirling her hair nervously.

“I like how excited you get when you talk.” She told him, leaning in a bit. Lance felt his heart go a little faster at the movement. While he knew this girl was flirting with him for a potential hook-up he also knew he was a hopeless romantic and she was just… So… Pretty.

Nervously, he rubbed the back of his neck, trying to regain the charming persona he had earlier on.

“Oh, I – uh, thanks.” He stuttered out and mourned the coolness factor as it zipped by. The girl laughed and oh no. Oh no. He was going to be a goner if he didn’t save himself soon.

“Um. Sure. I – Yeah, I was saying how awesome I was in that simulation, right?” He asked and continued his speech. From beside him he heard a scoff from Bishop. He almost rolled his eyes until he noticed the girl staring at him blankly. He sighed.

“I… I was speaking Spanish.” He grumbled. Like an idiot. Well, if she didn’t notice that he was nervous before then she certainly did now. Who freaking didn’t notice when they switched languages? Him. “I’m… Yeah, I’m so sorry.” He wilted a bit.

“Hey, I found it kind of hot.” The girl shrugged. Bishop choked.

Andddd they were back in!

“You…Did? Of course you did!” Lance puffed out his chest. Bishop scoffed again. Honestly, why was he here? Other than to occasionally get whacked by Lance when he moved his hands a little too much when talking. The girl was smart enough to be a good foot away from – but not Bishop.

“Watch it.” He warned when Lance’s hand almost clipped his face again. “Can’t you just… Keep your hands still?” He stressed and Lance looked at the ceiling.

“Oh no,” Lance said blandly “I am so sorry. It must be my hot, exotic Cuban blood. I just can’t seem to control these things.” He said, wiggling his arms around "My ancestors are looking down from Heaven to bless my body, dude. I truly can't help it - abuelo?" He asked looking up "Abuelo is that you?" He asked, throwing his arm around. The girl laughed and Lance felt a surge or relief.

"Yeah, yeah. I get it McClain. Being Cuban means you don't have to respect other people's boundaries when talking." Bishop snapped and Lance reminded himself of the airport. His mother was right - he did not have to pick every battle. That was too many battles. In fact, maybe he should just consider lying down and taking a nap instead. He smiled at the girl.

“What was I saying again? Oh yeah. So he was over here and-”

There was another loud smack. Bishop swore.

Okay, maybe he would pick this one battle because it was a little fun.


“My mom says hi.” Lance said as he strolled through the door of the Shirogane-Frasier (and fine, Keith lived there too) apartment. Adam glanced up at him before pursing his lips. Lance tilted his head in response.

“Is she still mad at me?” He asked, a little nervous. Lance considered before putting his phone on speaker.

“Mama, Adam wants to know if you’re still mad at him.”

“Is this the same Adam Frasier who lives on 542 Turning St. and also taught my baby to shoot a dangerous weapon?” His mother’s voice came from the other end of the phone. Adam gripped his arm, eyes wide with horror.

“You told her where I live?!”

“No,” Lance shook his head “That’s the scary part.”

“I can hear you.” His mother told them flatly and they both jumped “No, I’m not still mad. I suppose I have to forgive you since you bailed Alejandro out of jail.”

Lance spun towards the teacher, mouth agape in horror.

“You told her?!” He whispered. Adam threw his arms up.

“No,” He whispered back “That’s the scary part!”

“Sophia,” His grandmother’s voice came from the phone “You have instilled the fear of God in these two men… It is this day that I truly accept you are my daughter.”

“It’s only been forty-nine years, mama.” Came his mother’s dry voice. Adam perked at the sound of his grandmother’s voice. He shuffled so he was a bit closer to Lance and waved… Even though it was just a phone call and nobody could see him because the guy was a dork.

“Hi Ms. Camilla!”

“Hello, pretty one with glasses.” His grandma greeted “I hope you are well. Are you still with the beautiful boy? How he is?”

“Takashi is well, abuela.” He smiled and Lance hit his arm.

“Ms. Camilla is fine.” He whispered “She’s my abuela. Not yours. Get your own.”

“Mine’s dead.”

“That’s too damn bad.”

Alejandro!” His mother barked and he glowered at Adam some more before muttering an apology. His abuela chuckled.

“I told you, Sophia. Even now men fight over me.” She hummed. Lance rolled his eyes before shoving Adam over so he could sit on the couch. Keith and Shiro were apparently gone for the day in order to camp or something awful like that. Lance came over to continue their plotting session when his family called. “You know, pretty one-”

“His name is Adam, abuela.”

“Don’t interrupt, Alejandro.” She scolded and Lance pouted “As I was saying, Alejandro’s abuelo looked much like you… He ended up being gay too, you know.”

“Sounds like we have a lot in common.” Adam said dryly. Lance sighed. He slightly regretted introducing Adam to his family, but it was too late at this point.

“Why aren’t you in class?” Luis’ voice came from over the line. Lance almost hadn’t heard – he was trying to peer inside the room that was clearly Keith’s. What kind of things would he keep in there? “It’s Monday.”

“It’s an American holiday.” Lance shrugged “So I get the day off.”

“I – what? One sec. I have an American calendar around here.” Luis said and there was the sound of shuffling paper before a scoff of disapproval “But… It’s Columbus day.” Luis’ voice started slowly “Why is that a holiday?”

“I don’t know. He discovered America, I guess.”

“By accident. He thought it was India, didn’t he? And isn’t this the same guy who like…Murdered everyone who was already living there? That’s a really dark holiday, dude.”

“Apparently it still counts… Besides, if you think that’s bad, you should hear about Thanksgiving.” Lance shuddered, turning towards Adam. He gave a gesture that told Lance he also didn’t know why they had the holiday.

“That’s nonsense.” His brother said and Lance gave a hum of agreement. At this point in his life, he had stopped trying to fully understand Americans. He was content in learning what he could and accepting that some of it was just wild and incomprehensible.

Luis,” His abuela groaned “Stop speaking about that nonsense then. I wish to learn about interesting things in my Alejandro’s life… How is the boy with the ugly hair?” She asked and both Lance and Adam looked at the phone, a bit startled “Have you kissed him yet?”

Abuela!” Lance choked and Adam shrieked with laughter.

“Oh no. Not her too.”

Too?!” Lance turned to him and Adam froze. “Too?!” He yelled again and shoved his arm “What does that mean?” He yelled and everyone went silent. Adam opened his mouth and promptly closed it.

“Takashi and the faculty, uh, well… Yeah.”

Lance stared.

“Mama, I’m coming home.”

“You say this every time we call, Alejandro. Stop whining and accept that your abuela and your teachers want you to kiss a boy with ugly hair.”

“I don’t.” Adam piped up “I would rather that not happen.”

“Silence, traitor.” Lance snapped and buried his face in his hands.


“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Lance…Please, please let it go.”

“Hunk I… No. No. It’s stupid.” He insisted because what the Hell? “You vote for someone else to vote for you? Or – no, no. You vote…And then someone else takes your vote…To vote?” He frowned, trying to organize his thoughts “No – you… Wait.” He blinked “No. I’m confused.”

Hunk sighed. They had spent twenty minutes discussing this and Lance was still not on board.

Because listen. Listen. He knew that every country had their issues. Hell, Cuba’s government was a bit...controversial. He had some first-hand experience in that. His abuela even more so.

But, like… America kind of talked a lot about how free they were and how democratic. Which was cool. Lance liked that he could walk up to a random citizen and call them a sliced onion without fear of persecution… Not that he would do that, but the point is he could.

But this voting system? It made no sense. It made no fucking sense.

“So each state is a different size, right?” Hunk said, starting from the beginning. Lance took a deep breath and nodded.

“Yes.”

“So different states have a different amount of electoral votes… Arizona has eleven, I think. And that basically means there are eleven people who will vote for the president and those are the votes that count.”

“But… Then why does everyone else vote?”

“Because the electoral votes are decided by what a majority of the state wants. If most of the state wants one president, then the electoral votes will reflect that – which is why it is still really important to vote and stuff.” Hunk explained. Lance nodded again. The logistics of it seemed to make sense, but the why part was still kind of fuzzy.

“Okay.. Fair… By why can’t you just count individual votes?”

“When America first started that wasn’t possible. Like… Back in the old days the electoral collage made a lot of sense. A city would vote and if most of the city thought this one guy should be president then one guy would hop on a horse and tell the government ‘hey, most of the people in this place think this guy should be president’ and that was that.”

“But we don’t need a guy to hop on a horse now!”

“I have no idea why they still do it, Lance. Some people say the numbers would be too close otherwise.”

“I resent that argument.”

“I can’t fix America.” Hunk shot back and Lance scowled, leaning back into his chair. He muttered something in Spanish and Hunk sighed, patting his arm in sympathy.

“Okay.” He finally said “I have a new question-”

No.” Hunk interrupted "Lance you get too worked up. I can't take anymore."

"But I-"

"No."

"Please?"

Hunk stared. Finally, he sighed before gesturing him to continue.

"Is it true that if I marry an American that I get citizenship by default?"

"I'm not answering that."


“Get out.”

Lance didn’t move. Instead he shuffled a bit closer to where Adam was standing at the dining room table. Papers were splayed everywhere with red yarn connecting a lot of it. Shadows hung under his eyes and based on the shaking in his hands, he hadn’t eaten recently.

“He’s really gone then.” Lance said softly and Adam closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose as he breathed in deeply.

“Takashi is going to kill me. I was supposed to look after him. I was supposed to-” He cut himself off, tapping the table nervously “When Takashi and I… When we split up he thought it was best to put Keith in the dorms until he got back. To make things less awkward.” He murmured and shook his head “I should have insisted he stayed with me. I should have-”

“Easy.” Lance interrupted “Keith is a mess, but he isn’t stupid. I’m sure he’s fine.” He tried and dug into one of the cupboards to find some food “He probably got tired of the shitty food and decided the desert had more to offer.”

“Not funny.”

“What’s not funny is the fact that colonizers were super dramatic about getting spices only to not use them on food in modern times.” He grumbled and Adam shot him an exasperated look “Sorry. I know it’s not the time.”

“You think?” Adam muttered and ran a hand through his hair “He’s gone.”

Lance wasn’t sure if he meant Keith or Shiro, but either way it hurt. There was an emptiness to the words. As if he had already given up.

“They’ll be back.” Lance told him quietly “I’ll drag them back myself if I have to.” A small smile played on his lips as he shoved the other man “You know, Keith is going to go try and save Shiro. I’ll have to be sure I’m the one who saves him. Can’t let the mullet get an ego.”

Iverson is the one with an ego.” Adam muttered “Fucking pilot error. Bullshit.”

“It is.” Lance agreed quietly, but Adam still wasn’t placated.

“It’s easy to blame him because he was sick – but Takashi didn’t make mistakes. Even when he was at his worst. Not with that.” He murmured and Lance grabbed his arm.

“I believe you, Adam.” He said and the man let out a long breath.

“I’ve let them both down.” He breathed out “The argument with Takashi was stupid. I just… I couldn’t take it. I knew I couldn’t take this and I thought I could convince him to stay and-”

“That’s it.” Lance interrupted “We’re playing poker.”

There was a pause.

“We’re…What?” Adam frowned.

“I said that we are playing poker.” Lance said, dragging him away from the table and towards the living room “You are thinking about this too much. My abuela says when you think too much you should play poker.”

“I thought you didn’t gamble?” Adam asked. He looked like he also wanted to question his abuela's wisdom on the matter, but Lance figured he was probably aware he might get a maraca to the face if he tried.

“You don’t gamble in poker.” Lance frowned at Adam stared back at him blankly.

“Do… Do you know how to play poker?”

There was a pause.

“It’s… It’s like intense Go Fish, right?” He said slowly “Do you know how to play poker?”

“Well… No, but I don’t think it’s intense Go Fish.” Adam informed him dryly. They sat in silence, mulling over the deck of cards that sat on the table “Should we YouTube it?” He asked finally and Lance shrugged.

“I don’t have a better idea.” Lance shrugged and they both pulled out Lance’s laptop to figure out the rules. “This is super complicated.” He complained about one minute into the video. “Maybe we should try a different game.”

“I have Candy Land in the guest room.”

Dude,” Lance said, putting a hand over his heart “I love Candy Land.” He smiled and Adam snorted.

Three hours into Candy Land and Lance had to call his sister because Adam was a cheating whore as it turned out.

“I went down Gumdrop Pass, Lance! It was a totally acceptable shortcut!”

“You skipped three squares and you know it!”

“Now wait a second.” Veronica said from the phone “Who went first?”

“Adam did.”

“Well there’s the problem. The youngest player is supposed to go first.”

“AHA!”

“THAT DOESN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ME GOING DOWN GUMDROP PASS!” Adam yelled, switching over to Spanish “And don’t think I didn’t notice you landed on a licorice space! Do I look like a moron to you, Alejandro? You should have lost your turn!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, cheater.”

“Whatever. I’m going down Rainbow Trail.”

“Veronica! Tell him that he’s cheating!” Lance groaned and his sister sighed.

“I have finals to study for, you know.”

“Your priorities are skewed.” Adam muttered, glowering at the board “Uh… Don’t tell your mom I said that.”

“Uh huh. Well, if you losers are done arguing about Candy Land, I’m going to go.” Veronica told them and there was a pause “Maybe you guys should try MarioKart.” She said, voice going a little softer at the end “Alejandro is awful at it.”

“Not true!” Lance yelled at her, listening to the cackling at she hung up. He turned to Adam “That isn’t true.” He insisted and the man’s expression went blank for a moment before he put a hand on his arm.

“Thanks, Lance.” He said quietly and then a smirk climbed onto his face “But I’m going to demolish you at the Flower Cup.”

“You can try,” Lance shrugged "But I have my ways."

Adam was not impressed when Lance's ways included throwing his glasses out the window so he couldn't see screen... Somehow Lance still lost.


The hallways were dark as Lance made the long trek to the school’s basement. In general, basements were fairly creepy, but the Garrison kind of took the cake on this one. He wasn’t even sure it was completely considered a basement since it consisted of six different rooms – all of which varied in size, shape, and creepiness.

“Mr. McClain.”

“Darren. Hey.” He greeted the man, stuffing his hands in his pocket “I see you’re still on guard duty.”

“Yeah, well that new guy and the chick you brought in are getting all the good jobs.” Darren scowled at him. “Where did you even find those guys?”

Not wanting to go into his dog-thieving criminal history, Lance offered a wry shrug in return before miming zipping his lips shut. Darren scoffed, but didn’t push the issue.

“Is he in there?” Lance asked, jerking his chin towards the door Darren was currently guarding “I heard he’s been in a mood.”

“Yeah,” Darren grimaced “Operation ‘Pizza Me’ was a bit of a bust.”

“It had to be with a name like that.” Lance muttered “Alright. Let me see him. I have important things to discuss with the guy.” He said and Darren looked a bit uncertain as he rested his hand on the knob.

“Listen, bro… You know I like you. I just… Are you sure you know what you’re doing here? Little Tuna isn’t someone to mess around with. I know you guys go way back, but-”

“Darren. Believe me when I say that I have the situation under control.” Lance shook his head “I’ve been here since the beginning. Little Tuna knows this.” He shook his head and placed a hand on Darren’s shoulder “And I wouldn’t recommend you to shake the table here.”

“I wasn’t! I just-”

“We’re all here for a reason, Darren. Remember that.” Lance winked and stepped back. Darren fumbled with the keys, opening the door quickly to let Lance inside.

“Mr. McClain.”

“Ms. Rivera.” He smiled, greeting Elena. She was sitting in the corner of the room, a book splayed in her lap. The room itself was cozier than the rest of the basement. Soft music played from a radio propped up on a mahogany nightstand, which matched the desk directly in front of Lance. A bear rug (one of the fake ones that was cruelty free, of course) was beneath his feet. The mahogany paneling continued along the walls, contrasting a bit with the bright trinkets and décor around the room. “I was hoping I could have a minute alone with our boss.”

“Oh?” She asked, raising an eyebrow and snapped the book shut “So you two can gossip about me too?” She asked and Lance winced. He wasn’t sure how word got out that Adam and Lance had been talking shit… But Elena did not take well to it.

“We didn’t really mean to be overheard…”

“You are so lucky I don’t have you in my class, McClain.” She muttered, crossing her arms “First Kogane decides to mock me in front an entire room of students, then you and Adam? Really? I bet you told Kogane too!”

“Keith doesn’t even go here anymore.” He groaned “That was months ago. Please. Let it go.”

“I cannot-”

“Elena.” A voice said from behind the desk. Lance turned. The office chair was face away from them so he could only see the leather backing to it. “Lance asked if he could speak to me alone. I’m assuming it’s urgent.”

Lance smirked, folding his arms triumphantly. Elena scowled, but nodded, muttering pleasantries as she swept by him. The door snapped shut and Lance was left alone with the music.

“Are… Uh, are you going to turn the chair around?”

“I can’t. It’s stuck.”

“I should have known.” He scoffed and walked over to the desk “Hunk, buddy, I love you, but you have got to stop trying to spin around dramatically in this thing. The chair is old. It always breaks.”

“It looks so cool though.” Hunk complained and stood up so he could help Lance fix the chair. “Besides, if someone walks in here by accident I have like…Ten seconds of warning before they see my face.”

“Spoken like a true mobster.” Lance snorted “I heard ‘Pizza Me’ went south.”

“It wouldn’t have if you had been there like you said you would.” Hunk grumbled, folding his arms. Lance gave his most charming smile.

“I had things to do. You know this.”

“More important things than helping me run a freaking empire?” Hunk demanded “You helped start this. Don’t bail on me now!”

“Buddy. You’re overthinking things again. You’re doing amazing and there is no way Iverson is going to catch you. We have Elena as our inside woman and you know she can’t betray us.” He said, standing up “And I was talking with Adam – about Keith and Mr. Shirogane.”

“Oh no.”

“Yeah. Keith’s off the grid now too. Adam is like… Drowning in guilt.”

“As he should.”

Hunk.” Lance groaned and the other boy shrugged.

“I have opinions, Lance. How do you think we got here?”

“By you being petty?”

“Well… Yes. But that’s not what I was talking about.” Hunk sniffed and gestured for him to sit “So what? You want to send out some people to look for Keith? He’d be a tough cookie to track, you know.”

“Well better him than Shiro! At least we know what planet he’s on.” Lance argued “You have a good hundred people at your disposal. Just send like… Ten to scout him out. In the meantime we can try and gather some intel on the whole Kerberos thing.” Lance sighed, leaning back a bit. “And figure out what to do about the new guy.”

“Gunderson? Oh yeah.” Hunk scoffed “He’s going to be a problem.”

“What can we do about it?”

“For now? Nothing.” Hunk shook his head “We’ll put Elena on him. See if she can see how much he knows. You know, I can rig it so we are all in the same team for the flight simulations. We can get more information from him that way too.”

Lance nodded and raised a glass of milk.

“You’re a genius, Little Tuna. I toast to you.”

“To you as well, old friend.”


“No.” Pidge whispered “No, no, no…”

Lance smirked from his place on the counter. Hunk had sidled up next to him somewhere during Lance’s story and pair fist bumped as they watch the horror dawn on Pidge’s face.

You?” She spluttered, waving her hand at Hunk “It was you the whole -? Oh my God. You must think I’m an idiot.” She groaned, burying her face into her hands. Lance laughed.

“Words I did not think ever to be uttered by you, Pidge.” He chuckled “It was quite amusing to watch you make a fool of yourself though.” He chuckled. Keith waved his hand in front of them, brows drawn together in confusion.

“Uh…What?” He asked. Shiro nodded in agreement to the question. He and Adam had re-emerged after a lot of yelling and were currently scowling at one another in the midst of the conversation.

“Everyone thought Pidge was Little Tuna.” Adam snapped at them “You would know that if you had stayed in school and you hadn’t died in space.”

“I hadn’t-? Do you think I made the conscious decision to die?!”

“I don’t know!” Adam put his hands in the air “I just know that I asked you to not die and guess what you did?!”

“He died in space.” Keith said helpfully and Shiro threw a pillow at his head.

“I came back to life, so really you can’t be mad.” Shiro muttered and Adam threw a pillow at him. Unlike Keith, Shiro didn’t have two arms to block it so he just let the cushion nail him in the face.

“Can we go back to Hunk being a mobster?” Pidge interrupted with a roll of her eyes “And I never said I was Little Tuna or anything… People just sort of… Assumed that…”

“You never corrected them.” Lance shrugged, taking one of the chips Hunk offered.

“Of course not! I was trying to be someone else as it was. I didn’t know what I was doing!” She complained “People started giving me information on Kerberos and, well, how could I pass that up?” She pouted. Lance snorted and Hunk patted her shoulder awkwardly.

“I didn’t know what I was doing either.” He smiled “I just wanted food that didn’t suck.”

“Yes, please explain how all of that started.” Shiro frowned. Keith rose a hand, stopping Hunk from speaking.

“I still need more answers from you.” He growled, spinning at Lance. “It was more than the stupid rivalry, wasn’t it? You were mad that I left Adam.” He said and the paladin narrowed his eyes. An awkward silence filled the room.

“Maybe.” Lance finally said “Back then I didn’t realize you had a habit of ditching people for Shiro.”

“Oh damn.” Hunk whispered while Adam choked. He grabbed Shiro's arm and mouthed something to him. Shiro gave an innocent shrug in response.

“Uh…Anybody want some hot chocolate? Let me make some hot chocolate.” Shiro asked, eyes widening as he looked at Keith’s face.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” He snarled and Pidge propped her chin in her hand, watching the pair like a tennis match. Lance crossed his arms, staring down disapprovingly at Keith from where he was still sitting on the counter.

“You left Adam to look for Shiro. You left Voltron to let Shiro pilot.” He shrugged “You came back to Voltron for Shiro. I’m just pointing out a trend.” He said innocently “You don’t tend to take other people into consideration when you make decisions.”

“Okay, so nobody is feeling like hot chocolate?” Shiro asked and hit Adam’s arm. “Do something!”

“Shh.” Adam hit him back “Let the man finish.”

“Oh my God, Adam. You're supposed to be an adult.”

"And you're supposed to have two arms, Takashi. What's your point?" He muttered and when Shiro gasped, offering an apologetic smile "Uh... I love you?"

"I love you too, but you're an ass."

"We're trying to have an argument, guys." Lance sighed. Adam and Shiro paused in their bickering. Adam gestured for them to carry on while Shiro firmly suggested that maybe they calm down. Tragically, he was ignored. Keith had already launched himself back into fight.

“Yeah, well Shiro is the only one who hasn’t let me down!” He snapped back.

“You’ve never given anyone else a chance!”

“Oh? Like you gave me a chance?!”

“OKAY!” Hunk yelled, standing up. Pidge was starting to look concerned at how quickly the argument was escalating and even Adam was shifting uncomfortably. Shiro had disappeared – presumably to make hot chocolate. “Right. Cool. Uh, let’s maybe take a break.”

“Yeah!” Pidge piped in “I still want to hear about Hunk’s mob boss life.” She said with forced brightness “Hunk, dearest doll of them all, when did your criminal activity start?”

Keith and Lance broke their gaze, the tension slowly melting as Hunk gave them a bashful smile.

“Uh, like, eleven?”

“Well that’s ambitious.” Adam muttered.

“Okay, more like eleven and a half.”

“I have hot chocolate.” Shiro announced, reentering the room and handed out some cups. Pidge choked on hers as she took a sip.

“This has tequila in it.” She spat and Shiro blinked, trading cups with her and taking a long pull of the liquid.

“Yeah…that one is mine.”