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looking down the right road

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Part One

Dear Lance,

Just so you know, I’m only writing this because I know for a fact that you’re never gonna read it, let alone find it. I have something to get off my chest. Shiro says I’ve been holding this in for too long. He’s been telling me that for a while, now, actually. But I didn’t listen. And now it’s too late. You have no idea how much it meant to me that you confided in me about your date with Allura. Do you finally admit that there was never a rivalry between us? That we’re friends? Hah, yeah. Friends.... Sometimes I wish things were different, you know? I thought we could’ve had something, you and me. Regardless, I’m happy for you. Like any sharpshooter, you got what you were aiming for all along, huh? I bet you didn’t expect to have gotten me in the process as well, though. That’s okay--

 

Keith jumped from where he sat, atop the black lion, when he heard the sound of the door to the Garrison’s hangar being shut. Hurriedly he stuffed the piece of paper inside the pocket of his jacket. There he was, the boy who Keith had just poured his heart out to in letter-form, the object of his affection, who was currently so close yet so out of reach. There stood Lance, still wearing the outfit Keith (okay, and Hunk, but whatever) had helped pick out for his date tonight: a grey sweater over a blue button-up shirt. When he first saw the end result of the Quest For Perfect Date-Look, Keith just about lost his composure and almost forgot he wasn’t the one going out with Lance.

 

“Oh, hey, Keith. I didn’t expect to see you here. I thought I was gonna be alone....”

 

“You okay, Lance?”

 

Lance forced a laugh through clenched teeth. “Oh yeah, just peachy.” He sighed, climbing up his own lion, which stood next to Black. On the right-hand side, as always. Lance eyed the white square sticking out from Keith’s pocket. He squinted. “Whatcha got there? It doesn’t exactly look like a handkerchief.”

 

Keith was confused until he saw what the other boy’s eyes were trained on. “Oh, it’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” Tucking the paper further into hiding, he redirects their conversation: “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be on your date with Allura right now? You’re back early.”

 

Lance shrugged. “I messed up.”

 

“What do you mean?” Keith asked, eyebrows furrowed.

 

The Cuban boy’s gaze was fixed on the ground. “I told her.”

 

Keith wasn’t following. “You.. told... her...?”

 

“That I love her.”

 

Oh.

 

At those words, Keith’s eyes widened.

Keith could think of so many aspects of his life that did not go according to plan. He didn’t plan on getting kicked out of the Garrison when he first enrolled at the school. That one fateful night all those years ago, Keith hadn’t suspected his mission to rescue Shiro to be interrupted, nor had he foreseen being chosen to fight in an intergalactic war. Never in a million years would he have imagined he that he would one day find his mother, much less that she’d be of an alien species. But somehow all of that was bearable compared to the bomb Lance just dropped. He felt a searing ache in his chest when he heard Lance utter those words. Three words, three syllables, but one hole in Keith’s heart. “I love her.”

Keith felt selfish for what he wrote in that letter. Now he definitely needs to make sure that Lance never reads it.

 

Lance sighed forlornly. “But she doesn’t feel the same. God, why did I have to drop the L word?! And on the first date, too! I probably scared her off.”

 

“Look, I’m not an expert in romance or relationships or just... people in general, but maybe this is a misunderstanding? Miscommunication?”

 

The other boy shook his head. “I dunno, man, I mean, she didn’t say it back. In fact she almost looked sad when I said it.” Keith watched as a tear slid down bronze skin.

 

Keith frowned. “I’m sorry, dude...”

 

“What did I do wrong?” Lance looked at Keith, hopeless, as if the Asian boy held all the answers of the universe.

 

Keith shook his head reassuringly. “You didn’t do anything, Lance. And Allura does care for you, I’m sure of it. Besides, you don’t know what was going through her head at that moment.”

 

“I guess you’re right. Thanks, Keith.” Keith saw Lance’s lip curl up in a ghost of a smile.

 

“Of course, Lance. Like I said when we watched the sunset the other day, you’ve always had my back, and now, I promise to have yours. I’m here if you need to talk,” Keith assured him.

 

“You’re such a good friend,” Lance said appreciatively. “I think... I think I’m gonna ask her if we can have a do-over date. If this is a bad idea please tell me before I go make a big fool of myself.” Lance turns to Keith, awaiting an answer.

 

If Keith had been anyone else, he probably would have reacted differently. If he was even the same boy he was at the start of all this, before Allura and Voltron and finding the Blue Lion, he might’ve taken the selfish route. It would have been so easy to tell Lance that yes, there’s a chance he might get rejected, but he knew of someone else who would absolutely love to date him. It would have been so easy to hand Lance the letter he was in the middle of writing just before Lance entered the room, having his feelings laid out in the open. Hell, he could have even just told him right then and there, verbally. But he didn’t. He was better than that. Although Keith’s heart sunk, what he wanted most in the world was Lance’s happiness. If that came in the form of a second chance with the girl of his dreams, who was Keith to get in the way of that? Keith shrugged. “I guess you never know unless you try, right?”

 

Lance’s eyes lit up. “You really think so? Okay. Okay. I’m gonna do this.” Then more to himself, “You got this, McClain. Two times’ a charm.”

 

Keith was pretty sure the saying was, “Three times’ a charm,” but couldn’t bear the thought of killing the other boy’s excitement.