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They’re working in their room when the dam breaks.

Technically the room is just Shiro’s—the captain’s quarters, relatively spacious living arrangements with spartan corners and far too much room for one person. There’s a big dog bed in the little living room. Keith hasn’t given his own room more than a dismissive glance since moving onto the Atlas. As far as Shiro knows, it sits completely empty, a potential storage closet or guest bedroom for anyone who finds their way on board in need of somewhere to sleep.

Right now is perfect, other than the endless work in Shiro’s hands—the hum of the ship around them, Keith’s fingers tapping occasionally on the desk in front of them, and Shiro’s sock-clad feet kicked up on the bed. Shiro is so comfortable in this space that he just might never move.

But when the clock ticks over to 1900 hours, Keith’s PADD clatters to the desk with a rattle. The noise startles Shiro into looking up just in time to watch Keith stretch his arms over his head, showing off long-limbed grace and the flex of his shoulders underneath a thin cotton shirt. He spins around in the chair to eye Shiro laying across the bed, his own PADD in hand while he reads through applications to join the Atlas crew. Shiro gets the sudden, relieving feeling that he’s not going to get much more work done tonight, but he dutifully scrolls onward while Keith resettles himself on the bed, curled up on his side with his cheek pillowed on Shiro’s thigh.

Shiro can feel the weight of Keith’s gaze on him, and he glances away from Cadet Stone’s underwhelming simulation scores to meet it.

“Hey there,” Shiro says, a smile tugging at his lips. Keith’s cheek is squished up and adorable, his big eyes peering up at Shiro, tired but still filled with a soft sort of happiness. Shiro’s too weak to resist, and he sinks his fingers into soft, soft hair, thumb tracing the shell of Keith’s ear.

Keith hums and pushes back into the touch.

Shiro tries to pretend it’s not a thing, like maybe he doesn’t notice where his hands like to stray more and more these days. He can act like it’s innocent—and it looks that way, it really does from the outside to anyone who can’t read what’s going through Shiro’s mind when he threads his hands through Keith’s hair or tugs playfully on one of the long strands. He wants to keep it as wholesome as it looks and as loving as it should be, but Shiro is only human. He’s weak.

Keith’s eyes slide closed as Shiro’s fingers card through his hair, longer than Shiro’s seen it and still a marvel each day. The texture is unlike anything Shiro has ever felt, and it’s impossible to keep his hands out of it, especially now that he has permission to touch. This new kind of relationship blooming between them isn’t fragile or tentative, but Shiro is still scared of how much he wants Keith, wants him in every way but especially like this, soft and pliant and—

And it’s not the time for that.

Shiro clears his throat and picks up his hand to scroll to the next application. He tries to ignore Keith’s disgruntled whine, but there’s unmistakable arousal swirling in the pit of Shiro’s stomach that doesn’t lessen when Keith curls up even tighter and rests one hand in front of his face on Shiro’s thigh, fingertips brushing his inseam.

Keith huffs. “Why are you still working? It’s late.”

“I’m almost done,” Shiro says, which might be a lie—if he looks at how many applications he still has to read, he’ll only feel discouraged.

The fact that Keith removes his distracting hand from Shiro’s leg is a blessing, but not when he uses it to take Shiro’s PADD from his hands and toss it somewhere on the bed behind him. He’s just like a petulant cat, needy for attention, and he guides Shiro’s hand back to his hair so Shiro can resume his absent stroking.

That’s the other thing. Keith is . . . sensitive here. He has a habit of moaning into the sensation of Shiro running his nails over his scalp, petting through hair too thick and soft to be wholly human. Shiro pushes his fingers into the hollow at the base of his skull, right where his hair is longest, and Keith lets out a long, close-mouthed hum. His nails scrape over the fabric of Shiro’s sweatpants and send goosebumps rising on his skin.

Shiro touches the spot on the side of Keith’s head where he likes to kiss Keith when they part ways, tender and domestic and a lot of things that are just a cover for how much Shiro wants to bury his face in Keith’s hair and hold him down.

He’s entranced by Keith, half his mind cataloging the sight and feel of Keith in the moment and the other half fantasizing about what it would be like to wash Keith’s hair in the shower. They’ve only had sex a handful of times so far—fun, sweet, loving, incredible sex—and both of them want to take this slow, but it’s difficult. Shiro doesn’t want to push, doesn’t want to scare Keith off before they have the chance to become something great.

Is it so bad, though, that he wants to worship Keith? That he wants to stand with him under hot running water while they kiss, post-coital and saccharine, while Shiro keeps pushing Keith’s wet bangs out of his eyes?

It’s a hot and tender thing, not bad at all, and if he pretends the desire ends there, then that’s all it is.

Keith interrupts his thoughts with a rough, scratchy drawl that doesn’t do anything to help Shiro’s wanting. “You’re stressed,” he says, blinking up at Shiro. He’s so, so, so beautiful, and it’s a miracle each day that he consents to be a part of Shiro’s life. “Is it the crew decisions?”

Right. “Yeah,” Shiro says after a beat, and it’s only a white lie. “It’s a lot to think about.”

“Mm.” Keith taps his fingers on Shiro’s thigh in a moment of consideration. His mouth is pink and full, lips pursed in thought. “Maybe I can help you relax.”

“What are you—oh.” Keith interrupts him by sitting up and stripping off his shirt without flourish. It lands on the floor halfway across the room as Keith’s mouth finds his, the kiss full of deep affection and Keith’s hands cradling Shiro’s face.

God, yes. Shiro pulls Keith into his lap, keeps his hands on his waist, tiny as it is, and kisses him back with as much love as he can muster. It’s almost enough to push the dirty thoughts out of his mind; kissing Keith is an experience unto its own, and Keith deserves to have every scrap of Shiro’s attention focused in the present moment. He’s not going to make this weird with his unfortunate hair fetish.

But it turns out Keith has other plans. He kisses Shiro one last time, deep and heady, and pulls back to fix Shiro with his dark, wide eyes, somehow even more beautiful up close.

“I’m going to blow you,” he says, tone matter of fact, and Shiro nods emphatically. Hell yes. “And you’re going to pull my hair while I do it.”

“Um,” Shiro says, but Keith is already working Shiro’s sweatpants down his hips, eyes staring straight at the obvious bulge in the front of them as Shiro pushes his hips up a little to help him out. Shiro is a little ashamed he didn’t put on underwear after getting out of the shower, but Keith only looks pleased by the sight.

They haven’t done this yet. Well, Keith hasn’t done this yet—Shiro can’t get enough of getting on his knees for Keith, especially when Keith moans so sweetly with fingers moving gently inside him, offset by kisses to the sharp jut of his hips. Just the sight of Keith pushing Shiro’s legs apart so he can settle in between his thighs and wrap his fist around Shiro is too much, and Shiro is already panting at the sight and the barest hint of touch.

“Are you sure?” he asks, but it’s a stupid question because Keith already has his mouth on the head of Shiro’s cock, the sweetest, filthiest kiss he’s ever seen.

Shiro watches in disbelief as Keith sinks down, his mouth silky and hot and perfect, and Shiro has to fist both hands in the bedsheets to stop himself from doing something they would both regret. He doesn’t need to do anything to Keith’s hair, doesn’t even want it, doesn’t—

Keith pulls off and lifts his head to glare at Shiro. “I told you to pull my hair,” he says, sounding far too annoyed.

“I . . . .” Shiro trails off, uncertain. He refuses to let his brain get distracted by how good Keith’s spit-shiny lips look that close to his cock, but it’s difficult when the sight is right in front of him.

A light shutters in Keith’s eyes and he looks suddenly uncertain, almost nervous, as if he thinks he’s done something wrong. “Do you not—?” Keith cuts himself off and breaks their gaze, his grip around Shiro loosening.

An awkward silence hangs in the air for a moment before Shiro bursts out, “No! I mean. Yes, I want, but I don’t—I  mean, you don’t have to do, uh, the other thing. I know it’s not, well.” Oh god. Now Keith is confused, squinting at Shiro as his head tips a bit to the side, trying to parse out the absolute garbage coming from Shiro’s mouth. “Just.” Shiro is helpless.

“So you . . . don’t want to pull my hair?” Keith says. Is that disappointment in his voice?

“I don’t want to make you—“

“Shiro,” Keith says, a little sharp and a little pleading, “I like it when you touch my hair. And you like touching my hair. What’s the problem?”

There shouldn’t be a problem, but Shiro finds himself turning bright red anyway, hands refusing to move.

He can’t think about how soft Keith’s hair would feel gripped between his fingers or how much of Keith’s head his new prosthetic would cover with its huge fingers and big palm. He refuses to even consider putting both hands in Keith’s hair and holding him down on Shiro’s cock, making him gag on it until tears run from the corners of his eyes and he looks up at Shiro with an open-mouthed, gasping, worshipful gaze. Or about fucking Keith face down on the bed and yanking his head up to bite at the tender skin underneath his jaw. Standing above Keith, one tall, imposing figure over Keith on his knees, rubbing his cock over Keith’s lips, his cheeks, chin, into his hair and then—

It’s safe to say that Shiro has a problem, and he doesn’t need to involve Keith.

Finally, Keith lets go of Shiro’s cock completely and starts to sit up, an annoyed look on his face. He leans in until their noses are practically brushing and Shiro has to cross his eyes a little to keep him in focus.

“Shiro, I love you,” Keith says. His voice goes hard as steel. “But if you don’t quit treating me like—like I’m glass, or like I don’t know what I want, then—”

“I’m not!” Shiro protests, but he backpedals immediately. “I don’t mean to.”

“The first time we fucked, you fingered me for forty-five minutes even though I told you I was ready.”

“I—that was—” Shiro deflates. “I thought you liked it.”

Keith blushes but he doesn’t back down. “I did like it. I liked it a lot, actually, but that’s not the point.” He softens, then, his fingers brushing Shiro’s cheek so he can hold Shiro’s face in his hand. “If you don’t wanna do something, just tell me that. But I can decide what I want for myself.”

Shiro takes a deep breath. “You’re right,” he says. Keith is always right, actually—not in a know-it-all sort of way, but just because he doesn’t believe in wasting his words on something he doesn’t believe in. It’s one of the many reasons Shiro fell in love with him, and he’s grateful for Keith’s straightforwardness. “And I do want to. Uh, pull your hair. A lot actually, I think about it a lot.”

Keith shoots him a smile full of teeth and settles back in between Shiro’s spread thighs. He rubs one hand up under the hem of Shiro’s shirt, petting over his abs and tracing one particularly nasty scar with a gentleness that belies their current situation. “I don’t want you to hold back,” Keith says, “not with me.”

Hesitant, Shiro brushes his fingers along Keith’s cheek, ghosting into his soft, beautiful hair. He only trusts one of his hands to treat Keith with the finesse he deserves right now, still worried about fine motor control, but the desire to do just what Keith is asking is impossible to ignore. “I don’t want to,” Shiro admits, and he lets his voice go raw. “I don’t want to hurt you.” I don’t want to scare you.

An impish grin crawls across Keith’s face and he finally wraps a hand back around Shiro’s cock, fingers dancing teasingly over the head. “What if I want you to hurt me?” he asks. It’s such a dangerous question.

Shiro can’t hide his clear interest, and Keith’s eyes flash in that way that means he knows he won. He mouths up the side of Shiro’s cock, taunting, until he gets to the head and can rub it past his lips in a parody of a kiss and smear wetness across his cheek, never looking away from Shiro’s face. “C’mon, Shiro,” he says, affecting a breathless voice that does things to Shiro he doesn’t want to admit. “I’ve done this before, I know what I like. And I know you want to hold me down on your cock.”

Moaning, Shiro’s fingers clench in Keith’s hair out of pure reflex. That is hands down the filthiest thing he’s ever head Keith say and he wants to hear it again and again until it’s the only shape Keith’s mouth ever makes.

Keith moans just as loudly in response as Shiro tightens his hold on Keith’s hair, and it satisfies some deep need inside him to finally get to nudge his cock through Keith’s open lips. He sets the pace, watches Keith’s mouth stretch open obscenely to take Shiro inside. It’s even better than he imagined—the soft texture of Keith’s hair, so alien and familiar, the needy, wet sounds he makes as Shiro guides his movements, a single tear falling from the corner of his eye and mixing with the mess on his chin and cheeks.

Shiro comes when he realizes that Keith is desperately grinding his own hips into the bed. He tightens his fingers too much but Keith doesn’t complain—he pulls his mouth off and jacks Shiro off until he comes over Keith’s mouth and chin, watching with desperate, needy eyes. The satisfaction of coming on Keith, of marking him as Shiro’s sends roaring desire rocketing through Shiro’s chest.

He pants once, twice, in shock from the sight of Keith between his legs with come dripping from his face, and then Shiro launches into a whirl of motion. Shiro hauls Keith up, probably too harsh on his hair again but all it gets him is a wild yell and hands clutching at him.

“I love you,” he says, and then he kisses Keith’s crude mouth with unrestrained need. It’s a nasty kiss, both from the come on Keith’s lips and the way Shiro is trying to pry him open and take everything he can get his hands on. The need to push inside and own Keith isn’t new, but Shiro has never felt it so fiercely or so immediately, and this time there isn’t a doubt in his mind that Keith wants it too.

“Love you,” Keith says, the words a gasp, and he frantically pushes down his pants so he can get a furious hand on himself. Shiro pushes it away, taking over for Keith and thumbing at the head in just the way to make Keith’s mouth go lax underneath Shiro’s kiss.

It’s a quick moment of heat, of Shiro pulling Keith fast against him, sprawled over Shiro’s lap, and his hand makes Keith come. He spills across Shiro’s knuckles, his pretty, soft moan making Shiro’s belly tighten with want. Shiro holds him close, holds him shaking and whimpering while Shiro kisses his slack mouth and aches to have Keith inside him or be inside Keith. He wants everything and his mind doesn’t care that his body is spent. He wants.

Keith breaks the kiss to catch his breath, but Shiro can’t seem to calm down. His mouth moves to Keith’s neck instead, nipping at the soft skin there, and Keith clutches at Shiro’s shoulders to keep him close.

“Shit,” Keith whispers, sounding shocked. He presses closer to Shiro.

“I want you all the time,” Shiro confesses, rushed and where Keith can’t see his face. “I can’t—Keith, you have no idea how much I—”

Keith laughs at him, a dark, low thing. The hint of a growl has Shiro shivering. “Do you think it’s any different for me?” Keith asks. He fights to get a hand back between them, plants a hand in the middle of Shiro’s chest and pushes him back just enough so he can take Shiro’s bottom lip between his teeth and pull. His gaze is so black, deeper than any darkness, and Shiro meets his gaze like it’s a challenge.

Keith’s eyes flash, and then Shiro realizes they’re yellow.

Wanting Keith isn’t new to him. It’s been years, feels like ages, and he’s wanted Keith longer than it took him to realize that’s what it was. But having Keith, being with him, Shiro giving himself over to Keith—all of that changed him. Shiro wants Keith in ways he’s never wanted anyone, with a new intensity and a new sense of recklessness, and every touch hums with an electricity Shiro can’t imagine experiencing with anyone else. There is nobody else. There never will be.

But the flare of heat Shiro experiences at the sight of Keith losing control and changing is another unknown quality. Keith smiles at him, and his teeth hint at fangs.

“How soon ’til you can go again?” Keith asks. Amusement colors his tone, but his eyes keep dipping to stare at Shiro’s bruised mouth. His hands on Shiro’s shoulders flex, just for a moment, but it’s enough to betray the claws tipping his fingers.

Shiro doesn’t waste any time.