“Shiro, please, you have to help me,” Keith yelled from his room. The door was closed, but Shiro knew that behind it, Keith would be staring at himself in the mirror desperately trying to throw some type of acceptable clothing together.
He stood but didn’t make any move toward the closed bedroom door. “I don’t think I need to help you with anything,” he called back.
A muffled thump echoed down the hall, and Shiro had the mental imagery of Keith falling brought to his head. “Please,” he pleaded. His voice was soft through the door. “Lance is going to be here any minute, and he always has his clothing put together.” The door opened to reveal a frazzled-looking Keith without a shirt on.
He was wearing plain black skinny jeans and was holding up a light blue button-up and a light red button-up as if to ask, ‘which one?’ Shiro studied Keith in the doorway as he attempted to hide a smile. “Either one will work, Keith.” He said softly. The other rolled his eyes and sighed in exasperation.
“No, listen to me. If Lance asked you out with your crappy fashion sense, then he knows what he’s getting into.”
“But Shiro. He’s going to show up and look absolutely gorgeous, and I’m just going to be ‘the guy he asked out.’” He shook his head. “I don’t want to be that guy!”
Shiro laughed wholeheartedly. “I have never, in all our years of being friends and roommates, seen you so panicked over something. Even your first exam in the Garrison wasn’t this bad.”
Keith scowled and threw the light red shirt at him. “That’s because the exam had two outcomes. I would pass, or I wouldn’t pass. Even if I did fail, I could always come back later and retake it. I can’t do that with Lance. The date will either go great, or it will go awful. If I ruin this, then I can’t just try again tomorrow. I could ruin our friendship if this goes bad.”
Shiro smiled and placed his hands on Keith’s shoulders. The younger flinched away from the cold prosthetic on bare skin, but his feet stayed rooted in place. “Keith. Do you remember what you told me when Adam and I started dating?”
“Yeah, I said that there was no use panicking because you were practically dating already.” Shiro pointedly looked at Keith, who instantly defended himself. “No, we’re not like that though.” He shook his head. “Lance and I fight. We bicker about things that don’t matter, and then that turns into a full-blown argument that gets out of hand. What if we start bickering about my clothes because he doesn’t like them, and then the date is ruined before we even get to the diner?”
“You need to calm down.” He shushed him. “Nothing bad is going to happen because Lance is going to love whatever it is you’re wearing because you are wearing it. Hell, you could show up naked, and he would be happy.” Shiro stopped for a moment and thought about what he had just said. “Actually, he would probably be more than a little happy, but you’re not allowed to do that.”
Keith pouted slightly and looked at the light blue shirt in his hand. “So, blue?”
Shiro rolled his eyes and smiled. “Do you have a dark red? It’ll go better with those pants and keep the attention on your face.”
“Thanks!” Keith shut the door. “That’s all I needed!”
As soon as the bedroom door was closed, a knock echoed through the apartment from their front door. Panic rushed through Keith’s veins. He felt cold ice its way through his legs as they almost gave out. “Shiro! Shiro, he’s here!”
“Stall!” Keith ordered. He practically shoved his arms through the holes of his shirt and rushed to button it up along the front.
Shiro chuckled and shook his head as he walked to the door. Lance was standing in the hall with a single red Carnation in his hand. Shiro could smell it from where he was standing; it was so, lively, and fresh.
“It’s too much, isn’t it?” Lance asked after they had stood in silence for a total of two seconds. “Damn it, I knew it was going to be too much.”
Shiro shook his head again and smiled. “It’s not too much at all. Keith’s going to love it.” He opened the door enough for Lance to walk in.
The younger was wearing a dark blue button up, and dark blue jeans. For once, they didn’t have holes in them; that enough was all the indication that Shiro needed to know that he was serious about this.
“So, what now?” Lance asked as he looked around the apartment. He had been here more times than he could count, but now he was desperately searching for something that he didn’t recognize to make this conversation any more bearable. “Are you going to threaten me that if I hurt Keith, they’ll never find my body?”
Shiro chuckled. “Not at all. If you hurt Keith, I’m not the one you should be worried about; Keith would burn you alive.” He sat down on the couch and waved his hand to start the TV. “Now tell me, are those new pants or did you whip up your magic and repair them?”
Lance blushed and brought the hand without a flower to the back of his neck. “Both?” He looked down at them. “I got new ones without holes, and then on my way over here, I tripped and fell on the sidewalk. I didn’t have time to go back and change, so I just… fixed them? I didn’t want to!” He held both hands out in front of him. His eyes were suddenly very wide. “I don’t want magic to be what our relationship is about, and I don’t want to lie to him. I just didn’t want to show up like I always do.”
Shiro had to physically stop himself from laughing. In the end, he lost that battle.
“You didn’t have enough time to go back and change? Lance, you live just downstairs. Anyway, you could have shown up like you always do and stolen the breath right out of Keith. He’s still stressing about what he should wear.”
The door opened, and Keith stepped through. The dark red button up that Shiro had suggested had the first button undone in a way that he hoped was stylish. His signature red and white jacket had been swapped out for a cropped black letter one, and he had gelled his hair back and dried it in the time that Shiro had been out of the room.
“Hey.” He breathed. His purple eyes raked over every part of Lance’s outfit. He stopped at the flower in Lance’s hand, and blush heated his face. “You didn’t- uh… You didn’t need to get me, um, anything…” He trailed off.
“Told you he would like it.” Shiro chastised the two of them, grateful that the phrase could apply to both. “Now, I know that you guys have plans, so you should probably be going.” He smiled fondly at them. Before they left, he brought out a thin glass vase for the single flower. “You two have fun, don’t kill anyone, and use protection.” He called as they walked out the door.
“I’m sorry about Shiro,” Keith breathed. He brought a hand to the back of his head and hoped that the flush across his cheeks wasn’t too obvious. “He can be a little…” He trailed off, and Lance nodded his head in understanding.
“I know what you mean. Veronica told me that I needed you to pick me up next time so that she could give you The Talk.” He laughed awkwardly. “Don’t worry. I won’t put you through that.”
“Good, because I totally didn’t mean to subject you to Shiro.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to his motorcycle. They jingled in his hand as Keith smiled back at Lance. “You ready for a ride?”
Lance’s face lit up, and they both climbed on the back of Keith’s prized possession. “I can’t believe I finally get to ride on this. I’ll get to brag to everyone else about it.”
Keith scoffed as he put the key in the ignition, flipped the switch, kicked the machine to start, and breathed with the engine as it roared to life. “Pidge already beat you to it. She’s been riding with me since she moved here.” He handed a helmet to Lance as he put his own on. “Are you going to get on?” He looked expectantly at his soon-to-be passenger.
“Uh, yeah. Just- just give me a second.” Lance sputtered as he rushed to put his helmet on. He looked at the beast that Keith was currently sitting on. “How… How do I get on?”
Keith chuckled, his own helmet already on. “Just swing your leg over.”
“But… What do I balance on?”
“Put your arms on my shoulders.”
Lance hesitantly placed his hands on Keith, ignoring the heat rushing to his face. He was actually going to ride Keith’s motorcycle -with Keith. “Am I going to push you over? Because I do not want to be responsible for that.”
Keith rolled his eyes even though Lance couldn’t see them and planted his feet more firmly on the ground. “It’ll take a lot to push me over, pretty boy.”
Lance blushed, thankful that the helmet would hide his face. “Whatever you say, Mullet.” He swung his leg over and silently thanked whatever deity was out there that he hadn’t lost his balance and tipped the two of them over. It didn’t matter what Keith said, he did not want to start this date off by trapping the two of them under a couple hundred pounds of machine.
“You need to hold on to me,” Keith spoke as he wheeled the two of them out of the driveway. “Otherwise, you’re going to be doing some serious backflips off the back of this bike.” Lance cautiously wound his arms around Keith’s chest, holding tight to his own hands. “Lower. Tighter.” He commanded.
Arms wrapped themselves around Keith’s waist, and he leaned forward, putting the motorcycle into gear. The two of them jolted forward, and Lance tightened his grip instantly. They pulled out onto the street, and Lance watched, fascinated, as the lights zipped past his vision.
The wind tugged at their clothes, whipping around their bodies, and Lance understood why Keith always wore a jacket as he shivered against the body in front of him.
“Are you cold?” Keith’s voice came through the built-in headset in the helmets. He leaned to the right and made the turn effortlessly.
“Nope.” Lance said, popping the ‘p.’ “Not at all. Not even the slightest bit.”
“Whatever you say, pretty boy.”
Lance suddenly felt his body warm up. The wind still whipped his loose clothes around, but the cold was less permeable. “Should you really be doing magic while you’re driving?” He wasn’t complaining though. The warmth was a welcome change from the winter chill.
“Should you really be messing with my speedometer to make it look like I’m going faster than I really am?” Keith shot back. “I know exactly what 50 miles an hour is, we are not going 50.”
“Touche. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice that.” He tightened his arms around Keith again. “I just didn’t want to die on our first date, and I’ve seen how fast you ride sometimes.”
“Lance, do you honestly think that I would do anything to put your life in danger?”
Silence filled the line for a few moments, long enough for Keith to question if he should have said it or not. “I mean… You never know.” The passenger’s voice was quiet, soft, cautious. “I wouldn’t think that you would.” The illusion disappeared, revealing that they were only going 35.
Keith nodded; the motion was almost imperceptible to Lance. “I wouldn’t.”
They arrived at the diner faster than either of them would have liked, and the warmth of Keith’s magic had yet to leave Lance’s body. They sat on the bike silently for a minute after Keith had cut the engine.
“So… are we going to go inside?” Keith asked as he leaned back against Lance’s chest.
Neither of them moved. Lance took his helmet off and stuck his chin over Keith’s shoulder. He hummed into the air and closed his eyes. The streetlamp above them flickered as a moth played around the light, trying to get as close as it could.
“In order to go inside, we actually need to move. You know that right?” Keith’s voice was muffled through the helmet that he had yet to take off. When he finally did, his hair stood up at all odd ends, and he tried to lay it back discreetly.
Lance didn’t even let him feel like he was getting away with it. A tanned hand waved over his mullet, and his hair was tamed. Keith’s reflection scowled back at the two of them. “I know we need to go in. You can’t go anywhere with that helmet hair of yours.”
He turned around in his seat to look at his passenger. “Like you’re any better.” He said with a smile and reached up to muss his hair. Lance squawked in indignation as he placed his own illusion over his hair, and Keith performed some acrobatics to get off of the machine without kicking Lance in the face.
He unzipped his leather jacket to show off the shirt he was wearing, which shouldn’t have been as attractive as it was, and the other felt a blush rush to his cheeks that he immediately hoped wasn’t that obvious in the flickering light. Lance prayed to every god that was out there that he wouldn’t trip and fall as he dismounted. He managed to do so with only a minor stumble that Keith smiled knowingly at, but didn’t call him out on.
Lance smiled gratefully at Keith as he smoothly tucked his hand into Keith’s incredibly warm ones. Just because he controlled fire, didn’t mean that everything about him should have been so… hot. Or maybe it meant exactly that as Keith smiled and more warmth rushed to fill his entire body. Who’s idea was it for him to date Keith of all people? That’s right, it was him. There was no backing out now.
The inside of the diner was flushed with fluorescent light from the exposed lights. An old jukebox stood proudly in the corner, still just as loved as the day it arrived. A few people were scattered around the room, the cracked red leather of the booths had stopped complaining under them years ago. No one sat at the bar, but a waitress in a cute pastel blue uniform waved at them cheerfully.
They took a booth in the corner next to the jukebox and sat down on opposite sides. Neither of their hands had left the other since they had been outside. Lance smiled charmingly at Keith as the waitress brought them the single sheet menus. A metal name tag that they hadn’t seen before glinted in the light proclaiming her name as Courtney.
“Can I get either of you two something to drink?” she asked. Her voice was smooth and melodic, and she had a piece of gum tucked into one cheek and smiled down at their joined hands.
“Uh, yeah.” Lance glanced down at the menu in his other hand. “I’ll get a strawberry milkshake.”
“Would you like that before or after your meal?”
“Water for before?”
“Two straws?” She asked. Lance hesitated for a second before nodding, and she scribbled it down on her notepad. She looked at Keith. “And for you?”
He looked at the menu in his hand. “I’ll have a hot chocolate please.”
Courtney nodded her head. “Alright, are you two doing separate tabs, or is one of you paying?”
“I’m paying.” They both answered at the same time and glared good-naturedly at each other.
“I’ll mark them up as separate for now and let you two quarrel it out in the meantime.” Courtney smiled sweetly at them and tucked her hair behind her ear.
As soon as she had her back turned, the boys glared at each other. “What do you mean you’re paying?” Lance whisper-hissed. “You drove here.”
Keith nodded adamantly. “That’s exactly why I should pay. I can take the financial hit for the entire date.”
“But I asked you here.”
“And I agreed.”
Internally, Keith felt his blood run cold. They were fighting. This was it. This was the ruined date that he was so worried about, and they hadn’t even ordered their food yet. He didn’t even know how he was going to complain about this to Shiro. They were fighting over who was going to pay the bill it wasn’t even a big thing to fight about, and here they were.
Lance inhaled deeply and squeezed the hand in his own. “You okay there? You went cold.” Keith looked at their hands for a few moments. He let his magic go back to heating Lance and flared the warmth in between their fingers.
“Yeah. I just-” He allowed the temperature to fall back between them. “I just don’t want our first date to start out by fighting.”
Lance stroked the back of Keith’s hand with his thumbs. “I mean. I was planning on paying, but if it’s that big of a deal to you…” He trailed off and then grinned up at the other. “We can split it.”
Keith scoffed. That was going to be the best that he could get. “That sounds good.” He looked back down at the menus. “Alright, now we should figure out what we’re going to get. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard that their burgers are pretty good.”
“There’s absolutely no way that you did that!” Keith cackled. Their table was littered with miscellaneous pieces of trash from their straws and napkins that they had scrunched and folded up to create games while they waited for their food to arrive, and then for their milkshake, and then because they couldn’t come up with a good reason to stop.
“I did! Veronica’s face was absolutely blank. She just stared at me and then at the flower pot, because the illusion of the cat has most definitely fallen off now, and her girlfriend is just staring blankly out the window trying to forget that either of us exists.”
Keith doubled over in laughter. His cheeks were stained what seemed like a permanent pink, that Lance never wanted to see him without, and he looked like he was drunk beyond anything he could ever handle. “That’s nowhere near the time that I played a prank on Shiro! I thought it would be funny to set a trap on his bottle of lube, but for some reason, and I can’t remember why this didn’t occur to me, I completely forgot that he was dating Adam.”
“Oh no,” Lance whispered.
“Yeah. I got the trap wrong too. It was supposed to go and warm itself and then instantly snap to cold for like thirty seconds or so, and then return to normal. I accidentally reversed it, so it got colder, sapping the heat from everything around it, and then snapping to burning hot. I swear I have never heard Shiro yell so loudly in my entire life.
“But then Adam was in on it too, thankfully, they hadn’t started doing anything yet, but all of a sudden, I hear Adam screaming back ‘Takashi? Kashi what’s wrong? What happened?’ and Shiro starts running.
“At this point, I know I’m dead, so I’m trying to prolong my life as long as possible, and I know for a fact that Shiro has not taken any time whatsoever to cover himself. It’s 1 in the morning, and I don’t want to deal with this, so I lock my door, and I jump out the window. I’ve never jumped out of a window before, but I completely forgot that there’s a screen on the window.
“So I go running too, and I run face-first into a screen that stops my momentum, but not enough. Now the screen is loose, and I’m hanging halfway out my window, and Shiro literally bursts through my door in all of his glory.
“That’s how I ended up halfway out of a window as a completely naked, very angry Shiro has just broken down my door, and Adam is just holding his head in his hands, probably contemplating his existence.”
Lance is wheezing and gripping at his stomach. His entire body is shaking with laughter as he struggles to breathe, and the only time he moves his hand is to wipe the tears forming in his eyes.
Courtney smiled as she made her way back to their table. “Did you two come up with some way to split the bill?”
“Yeah, we’re going to do it evenly,” Lance said as both boys pulled their money out and settled up with her.
“Alright. I’ll get these right back out to you in a few minutes.”
Keith excused himself to the restroom a moment later, and Lance spotted his chance to run to the jukebox. He smiled and placed a quarter into the slot and queued the song for next. He shuffled the songs, just in case Keith came back from the restroom early.
As soon as he was back, Lance figured he had a minute and a half before the song started. He made his way to the back, by the restrooms, and also conveniently by the register.
“Hey, Courtney.” He smiled. “I was wondering if you could cover both tabs with my card and not tell my boyfriend?” He smiled again, and she just laughed.
“I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks, you’re the best.” He spent a few extra moments by the restrooms to make his excuse a little more believable before he headed back to the booth.
He covered both of Keith’s eyes with his hands on his way back. “You think you’re being subtle, but you’re not.” He said, exasperated as Lance’s hands were pushed out of the way.
“You’re supposed to guess,” Lance said, replacing his hands.
“I guess that it’s that weirdo who was sitting across from me all dinner long.” He relented.
Lance snorted behind him. “You’re so flattering. I wonder what anyone sees in you.”
“You’d have to ask that idiot that sat across from me.”
“I thought I was a weirdo?”
“You must be an idiot for seeing something in me.”
The diner went uncharacteristically silent. Silent was a broad term. Conversations were still being had, and the clank of dishes could still be heard from the kitchen. The bell chimed as someone else walked through the doors. But the music.
The music was changing.
Lance heard the last song go silent and the beginning chords of the next one beginning. He grabbed Keith’s hands and pulled him to his feet. Their hands and arms swung to the beat of the music, and Lance put a little hop of his own in.
“It would take an idiot not to notice something in you.” He whispered into Keith’s ear.
I want to dance
“You know I don’t know the lyrics right?”
“Who cares about the verses? That’s not what matters.” He made a few dance-like moves on the spot, just waiting for the chorus to start.
Keith was pulled along reluctantly, managing to at least keep up with Lance’s sporadic movements without stumbling over his own feet too much.
Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
Yeah, I wanna dance with somebody
With somebody who loves me
By the time the song finished, the two of them were sweating, out of breath, and grinning like idiots. They told the kids who had joined them for their impromptu dance that they were better at dancing than them before sending them back to their parents who had watched the entire time.
As soon as they plopped back down in their booths, Courtney brought their cards back. “I hope you two know that both of you came up to me and asked if I could put everything on their card.”
The boys looked at each other and instantly blushed from something more than the dancing that they had just done.
She continued before either of them could say anything. “So I comp-ed your bill. Thank you for the entertainment.” She nodded to the jukebox. “I hope you two come back soon. Have a good night!” She placed their two cards on the table along with two mints and left them.
“I thought we agreed to split the bill?” Lance chided as they walked back to the motorcycle.
“You’re just as guilty as I am here.” Keith scolded, wagging a finger at the other before he zipped his jacket up. “Don’t go blaming this all on me.”
“Excuse you. I will have you know I planned on paying as soon as I suggested that we split the bill.”
“And I will have you know that I planned on paying since you asked me out on a date.” He grinned goofily back at Lance and tossed a helmet back at him. “We’re both idiots, now get on my bike.”
Lance pressed the helmet on his head and nodded. “Where are we headed to now?”
“It’s a surprise.”
Lance rolled his eyes and swung his leg over the seat. As soon as his arms were wrapped around Keith again, they were off, the machine rumbling underneath them.
Keith drove them out of the town and into the foothills surrounding the town. He pointed out various animals on the side of the road as they raced past them.
About five minutes away from their destination, Lance piped up. “Keith, are we going where I think we’re going?”
“I don’t know where you think we’re going, but there’s this neat little mini cliff that I used to come out to practice my magic.”
“Oh my god.” He pressed his face further into Keith’s back. “Are you taking us to Lover’s Look?”
Vibrations from Keith’s laughter found their way into Lance’s chest. “I don’t think so? I mean, it is really pretty up there, so I guess it would be a romantic place to go.”
They took the turn off that solidified Lance’s suspicions. “We’re totally going to Lover’s Look. I can’t believe this. Usually, you wait until the third date at least to come up here.”
“What do you mean? I just think it’s really pretty out here. The air is so clear here, and there’s almost no light pollution so you can see millions of stars.”
“Keith,” Lance said. “This is where couples come to have sex.”
The motorcycle swerved slightly, not enough to be concerning, but definitely enough to notice. “What? No, I’ve been coming up here for years. I’ve never seen anyone!” He sputtered, regaining his composure quickly. “I think I would have noticed something like that. There’s hardly even cars up here.”
“I can’t wait to tell Veronica that Keith ended our first date by taking me to Lover’s Look.”
“I want your sister to like me.”
“My sister does like you.”
“I want her to keep liking me.”
Lance giggled, and warmth spread its way through Keith’s body, not from his own magic either. They slowed down as Keith pulled off to the side of the road, a few feet from a complete dropoff into the woods below them.
They both took off their helmets and leaned into each other’s warmth. Keith wrapped them both in a circle of heat that chased the chill from their bones. “You know.” He started as he squeezed Lance’s arms with his own. “I wouldn’t be opposed to a second date.”
“Neither would I.” Lance smiled.
“But I get to pay for the next one.”
“Only if I don’t pay first.”
Keith scoffed, and they both got off of the bike to sit on the edge of the cliff with their feet dangling in the open air.
“So what would you come out here and practice all by yourself?” Lance prompted and broke the silence.
Keith took one of his hands from Lance’s grip and closed his eyes in concentration. Around them, a small ring of fire formed, and he morphed that into the shape of a cat which sat on Lance’s lap. “Don’t touch it.” He warned as Lance raised his hand to do exactly that. “It’ll probably burn you; I haven’t gotten the fine control down enough to change the heat around a moving hand. Oh yeah, don’t stand up, your pants might catch on fire.”
Lance closed his eyes similarly concentrated. Next to Keith, an imitation of a flaming cat appeared. “You can pet him, although you won’t feel anything,” Lance said. Sure enough, the illusion stepped onto Keith’s leg, and he felt no weight on him whatsoever.
“You’re even making my hand glow!” Keith exclaimed as he let his cat creation dissipate. He raised his hands to either side of the illusion and gaped at the reflection of the fire on them. “How are you doing that?”
“Well, you see, I’m basically the best Illusionist at the Garrison.”
“Oh be quiet,” Keith said as he continued to play with the lighting, casting shadows on his hands, utterly enraptured by the glow.
Lance smiled at Keith. He was struck with the sudden urge to continue to create illusions that caught and held his fascination. He wanted to see that look in his eyes for years to come, even if dating didn’t work out; Keith was someone he wanted to know for the rest of his life.
They curled into each other with Lance’s cat curled between them as they sat underneath the endless expanse of stars and simply held each other.