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The Life We Lived

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The bar was packed for a Thursday night. Every booth and stool was taken. Over four radios played, drowning out the voices of the college students who finished finals and tired couples finally going out on a date after weeks of nonstop work. The small square shape of the bar and its lack of windows made the room stuffy. However with the chatter, crappy flickering neon lights, cheap alcohol, and the strange music mash, no one seemed to mind.
Over at the left side of the bar sat Keith Kogane. He looked down at his phone which he had set down on the counter. Unlike everyone at the bar, Keith was being reserved and keeping to himself. This, of course, had been his plan since he first arrived at the bar. He walked in, picked a seat away from people from his classes, and pulled his phone out to text his best friend Katie, or “Pidge”, as she liked to go by. Today was their only free day of the week and it was also the last day of finals, so the two decided to celebrate by going out. Pidge, however, was nowhere to be found.
Keith stared down at his phone’s screen. The questioning message he had sent to Pidge shined brightly into his eyes. Where could she possibly be? Out of the corner of his eye Keith sae a chat bubble pop up.
“OH,” it read in bold letters. “About that…”
Keith sighed. He pulled his black hair up into a ponytail, something he often did when he was stressed. Keith braced himself for Pidge’s response.
“See, I got off of work later than planned and by the end of my shift I was so set on getting out of there that I just went home.”
Seriously, dude!?, Keith thought.
“I know what you’re probably thinking. ‘Seriously, dude!?’ and i.aM.SO.SORRY.”
Keith sighed heavily. “Fuck,” he muttered under his breath. He couldn’t be mad at Pidge. She was Keith’s only friend and after school AND work, who wouldn’t be tired? Robots, that’s who. And Pidge was surely not a robot. But Keith had already taken his time to walk here and he had picked a place for the two of them to sit…. Overwhelmed by his thoughts, Keith leaned over the bar’s counter and clicked odd one of the boomboxes. He quickly sat back down on his stool.
“Woah there,” someone said. Keith looked to his left to see who the voice belong to. A guy about his age looked at him with an amused face. He had his cell phone in his hand, the screen light shining on his shirt. It was white with blue sleeves. He had a combed nest of brown hair on his head and his skin was a tad darker than tan. Keith sighed and looked back at his phone.
“Hey, man,” the guy said. Keith turned to him.
“What?” he asked. The boy slipped his phone into the pocket of his jeans.
“How about I buy you a drink?”
Keith’s brow furrowed. He gave the stranger a confused look.
“Why?” Keith asked. “I don’t even know your name, dude.”
Mystery guy chuckled. The tenderness and the hint of flirtiness in his laugh gave Keith goosebumps. He had a smug smile but not one bit of his attitude seemed to reflect any hint of smugness.
“You seem kind of tense there and my kind soul feels like you need a drink.” He raised his eyebrow with a quirky manner. “My name’s Lance, by the way.”
Keith relaxed a bit. He was really tense, and Lance was right. He could go for a drink right now.
“And your name is?” Lance asked.
Keith perked up. His thoughts had him so distracted that he forgot that someone was talking to him.
“Uh- Keith.”
Lance laughed into his fist. Keith rubbed the back of his neck and felt the tips of his eats grow red.
“Okay, Keith,” Lance said. They made strong eye contact. “Who was stressing you out there?”
Lance pointed to Keith’s phone. Keith side glanced at his phone then looked back at Lance.
“My friend. We planned on meeting here but she got off work late and couldn’t make it,” Keith explained.
Lance shifted a bit on his stool. He stuffed a hand in his pocket. Keith watched him, a bit confused. Was it just him or did mentioning Pidge make Lance feel awkward?
“Oh. So is she…like...your friend or your girlfriend?” Lance asked.
Keith chuckled softly. This was a question he and Pidge were asked often, so it wasn’t anything new.
“No, she’s my friend. I don’t have a girlfriend. I’m- I’m gay, so….” Keith explained.
Lance’s eyes grew wide, and he simply let out a small ‘hmph’ before saying,” I’m bisexual, myself. So do you have a boyfriend, then?”
Keith snorted and rolled his eyes, flustered.
“No,” he answered.
He earned himself a smile from Lance that gave him an obnoxious case of butterflies. However, Lance’s smile also gave Keith a boost of confidence.
“So,” Keith started,” who were you texting?”
“My friend. Coworker actually,” Lance said without skipping a beat. Keith grinned. So he’s single, Keith thought to himself. Good.
“How old are you?” Lance randomly asked.
“Okay, well, I’m obviously old enough to be in a place where they sell alcohol,” Keith responded with a laugh.
Lance rolled his eyes subtly but smiled widely at Keith’s sass.
“I’m twenty-two,” Keith said.
“Ooh,” Lance said. “Me, too.”
Keith raised his brows in response. Lance looked his age. He wondered what he was doing with his life.
“I’m a student over at the robotics college. It’s my last year thought,” Keith said. He hoped this would keep the conversation going. Lance took a sip from his drink.
“I went for...probably about half a year,” he said. “Then I dropped out.”
“Really? Why?”
“Different occupation caught my eye,” Lance said simply.
Keith looked down at his lap. He was starting to get into Lance. Lance was charming and seemed easy going. However...Lance probably didn’t come here to look for guys to pick up, but rather girls.
Keith bit his bottom lip. Damn. Maybe he was just waiting for someone, Keith thought to himself. Lance, to his dismay, would probably stop talking to him eventually.
But, boy, was Keith wrong. Lance talked him up for about two hours. During those two hours Keith learned about Takashi Shirogane (Shiro, for short), who was Lance’s best friend. He learned about Lance’s older brother, Hunk, and all of their brothers and sisters. Lance is the youngest of seven children, which Keith could not wrap his head around. (Seven children!?) Keith told Lance that his own family wasn’t big.It only consisted of him and his mother and father. He was part of Pidge’s family if you count all of the times he spent the night between fourth grade up until they moved in together.
Lance occasionally used a shitty pick up line on Keith which was dorky but too charming to handle. This eventually led to Keith snorting (actually snorting!). After this Lance did everything he could to pull a laugh out of him. He smiled as Keith’s laughter infected him.
Keith checked his phone. It was eleven thirty. The lateness snapped Keith out of the dream he was in. He had to walk home and by the time he arrived it would be passed midnight.
“Damn,” Keith muttered under his breath. Lance furrowed his brow. “I gotta go home. It’s late and I have to walk.”
Keith stood up and Lance followed suit.
“Wait,” Lance said. Keith turned to him.
“How about I drove you home?” Lance offered.
Keith’s jaw dropped a bit. His heart skipped a beat. Lance was one of the most charming dorks he’s met. He was a gentleman and he had undeniably good looks. Lance was any man or woman’s dream guy, and yet he wanted to drive Keith home? Keith bit the inside of his cheek. Somebody had to slap him because he was most definitely still in a dream right now.
“Oh, uh, you don’t have to do that,” Keith said quickly.
“Are you sure?” Lance asked. He sounded a bit broken that Keith had turned him down. “It’s really late and it’s dark out. I wouldn’t want you getting hurt somehow.”
Keith would have told Lance that he could defend himself is anything happened, but Lance’s for him made Keith change his mind on the spot.
“Okay,” Keith said quietly with a shy grin.
Lance smiled. He places money on the bar counter and led Keith out to his car. It was a dark blue 2016 Nissan Sentra. When they got into the car, Lance pet the dashboard.
“Hey, beautiful,” he whispered.
Keith’s eyes widened and he let out a choked chuckle. Did that just happen? Lance blushed and put on his seatbelt.
“What?” he asked with the hint of a smile in his voice. “She’s my baby blue. She takes me everywhere.”
Keith put on his seatbelt and laughed. He gave Lance the directions to his apartment and they were on their way.
Keith looked out at the passenger window. He watched buildings of every size turn into a blur as they zoomed past them. The street lights became beacons that melted into each other one by one. Keith turned to the windshield. A blue rhombus shaped sticker in the corner caught his attention. Keith looked closely at the small letter printed on it. It spelled out “Garrison Pass”. Keith smiled a bit.
“Garrison,” he said. “You’re a soldier?”
“Yeah,” Lance responded. “Paladin, actually. I’m the commander of Squad Blue.”
Keith raised his eyebrows, impressed. No one became a Paladin that young. He must be one hell of a leader.
“My dad was a Paladin,” Keith said. Lance grinned.
“Wow, really? What squad did he lead?” he asked, intrigued.
“Red. It was a long time ago. He was great, but people gave him a lot of shit because my mom is Galra.”
Lance’s grin dropped.
“That’s bullshit. Who does it matter that she’s Galra? It doesn’t make her less of a person,” Lance said.
Keith nodded. For years people had bullied him for being part Galra, even some of his past boyfriends. It was nice to hear a comment that defended Galras for once, especially coming from someone who wasn’t.
“So is your dad retired now?” Lance asked.
Keith shifted in the car seat and looked down at his lap. A sad look fell upon his face.
“He’s...been missing in action for the past seventeen years,” Keith said quietly.
Lance opened his mouth to speak but immediately closed it.
“I’m sorry,” Lance said.
Keith shrugged, trying to keep the subject from snowballing. His father was a sensitive subject to him. Keith tried to avoid speaking about his father, and his mother never brought him up, either. Although almost two decades have passed since he went missing, Keith’s mother has stayed hopeful.
Keith sees how he still wears her wedding ring, how she’ll keep a strong gaze on the photograph that they have of Keith’s father and bow her face goes from happy to morose. It’s moments such as those that urge Keith to wonder how life would be like if his father hadn’t gone missing.
“Hey,” Lance said. He sounded concerned. “Are you okay?”
It wasn't until Lance had spoken that Keith realized that he was completely spacing out now.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said quickly.
“I didn’t mean to make you sad. I’m really sorry,” Lance said. Keith laughed it off lightly.
“It’s okay, really. I’m just...emotionally tonight, I guess.”
Keith looked out the windshield to see his street. He grunted quietly. This car ride had gone too fast.
“You can pull over there,” Keith said while pointing to a parking spot along the sidewalk. Lance parked there.
“Well this car ride went by too fast, if you ask me,” Lance said.
“I was thinking the same thing,” Keith added quietly with a small smile on his lips.
Lance bit the inside of his cheek. They sat in an awkward silence.
“Okay...um...I guess I’ll get going now,” Keith said. “Thank you for the ride.”
“Wait.”
Keith faced Lance. He was rubbing his earlobe nervously.
“Er...can I… get your number?” Lance asked.
Keith felt the heat rushing up to his cheeks. He giggled, trying to mask it as a chuckle.
“Sure,” he said as his voice wobbled around.
Lance handed him his phone. Keith took it and created a new contact. When he gave it back, Lance let the phone slip into his lap.
“Shit,” Lance said.
Keith grinned. He was obviously making Lance flustered. Lance typed something out with shaky fingers.
“All right. So….”
“So...we’ll see each other around?” Keith asked.“Right?”
“Yeah,” Lance said quickly. “Yeah, definitely.”
Keith smiled before leaving the car. When Keith put his hand in the door handle of the apartment building, his phone vibrated. He pulled it out to see a text notification lighting up his screen.
Later ;)
Keith chuckled and saw Lance smiling down at his phone. Keith quickly typed out his response and hit send.
Bi bi ;)
Keith watched Lance bite his lip and blush when he got the text. A heaviness fell upon his chest at the sight. Keith entered the apartment building, hearing Lmce drive away when he shut the door. He thought back on what Lance had seen. Would he really see that beautiful smile again?

Chapter Text

    Keith quietly shut the front door. It was midnight and Pidge could be asleep. He didn’t want to wake her up. Keith took all of three steps before a light was flashed in his face. Keith covered his face and yelped. Pidge laughed and turned off the light.

    “Jesus fuck,” Keith said. Pidge readjusted her wire glasses.

    “I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t want that,” she said. Keith let out a heavy exhale.

    “I thought you were asleep,” Keith said. Pidge shrugged.

    “Yeah, well, I wanted to wait for you to come home,” she said.

    Keith smiled softly. Pidge flicked on a lamp that sat at the end table next to the couch. When the light came on Keith sw that Pidge was wearing a green space onesie. Pidge pulled Keith down next to her in the couch.

    “So you going to tell me about him?” Pidge asked.

    Keith gulped. A blush crept up to his ears. How’d she even know?!

    “Tell you about who?” Keith asked. He shouldn’t have bothered to try playing innocent. Keith was known to be a bad liar. Pidge smirked smuggly.

    “You know who! the kind gent that kept you entertained for two hours and drove you back home to your best friend!” Pidge exclaimed.

    Keith sighed. Pidge described Lance accurately. How was he supposed to hold back from telling her?

    “What’s his name?” Pidge asked.

    “Lance,” Keith said quickly.

    Pidge grabbed her laptop from the floor. She opened it and started typing away. Keith tried looking at her screen, but Pidge pushed him away.

    “What are you doing?” Keith asked.

    “I’m looking for him on Facebook,” Pidge said maliciously. She looked at Keith over her shoulder.

    “Did you catch his last name?” she asked. Keith shook his head. Pidge looked at the thousands of Lances that showed up.

    “Physical description, please,” Pidge said.

    “He’s Cuban so he’s darker than the both of us,” Keith started. Pidge canceled out a few accounts. “He has long legs, so, tall. Brown hair and blue eyes. Deep blue sea colored eyes.”

    Pidge smiled at Keith’s description.

    “Okay, I’ve narrowed it down to three,”she said. “Occupation?”

    “Paladin,” Keith answered.

    Pidge’s jaw dropped and she whistled. Keith flung a pillow at her. Pidge giggled and continued searching. Keith sighed. It was a wild thought, but would Lance even have any type of social media?

    “Aha!” Pidge exclaimed. “Found him, I think.” Pidge tilted the laptop screen towards Kith. “That him?”

    Keith tried to hide a smile growing on his lips. There was Lance, taking a selfie with someone whom he guessed was Hunk.

    “Yep,” Keith said in a shy voice. “That’s him.”

 

    Lance flung himself onto his mattress. He opened up his messages to look at the goodbye texts he and Keith had sent each other.

    Keith.

    The thought of him made Lance smiled uncontrollably. Lance clicked open his phone app and dialed Hunk’s number. He didn’t care how late it was. He had to tell Hunk.

    The other line rand twice before someone answered.

    “Hello?” Hunk answered. By the sound of it, he wasn’t asleep but he was tired.

    “Hunk? Something happened,” Lance said.

    “What? Are you okay?” Hunk asked quickly. Lance sighed.

    “No. I’m fine. It’s just….”Lance trailed off and smiled. He covered his face with his hand. “I just met the cutest guy.”

    There was silence on the other end of the line. Lance checked to see if Hunk hung up on him.

    “Hunk, you there?”

    “Lance. You mean to tell me that you called me at one in the morning to tell me about some cute guy you met?” Hunk asked.

    “Yeeeees,” Lance whined. “But he’s not just any cute guy. His name is Keith!”

    Hunk chuckled at his little brother’s response. Lance sighed.

    “Okay, then,” Hunk said with a smile. “Tell me about him.” Lance thought for a moment.

    “He’s twenty-two. His hair’s kind of long, but he keeps it in a ponytail,” Lance said. Hunk let out a wolf whistle, making Lance laugh. “He’s almost at my height, right at my eyes. And, oh my god, Hunk. His eyes.”

    Lance sighed like a little school girl. Hunk smiled widely. It was good to see his brother this happy.

    “What about his eyes?” Hunk asked.

    “He’s got these cold, mixed eyes. They’re gray but I swear they have a little bit of purple in them,” Lance said. “God, Hunk, I didn’t want to stop looking into them.”

    For the next twenty minutes Lance told Hunk about his night, from start to finish. He left not one detail out about his long conversation with Keith.

    “Huuuuunk,” Lance whined.

    “Yes?” Hunk answered. Lance dramatically clutched his chest.

    “Mi corazòòòòn,” Lance cried.

    “Okay, you lovesick puppy,” Hunk laughed. “It’s,like, two thirty in the morning. You should get some sleep.”

     Lance said okay, exchanged goodbyes with his brother, and hung up. He immediately switched on the lamp he had on his nightstand. He had been on the phone with Hunk for so long that he didn’t notice how dark it was or how tired he felt. Lance sighed and smiled to himself. He couldn’t get Keith out of his mind. For all he knew, Keith wasn’t real and tonight was just a dream.

    God. He hoped it wasn’t.

    Lance yawned and rubbed his eyes. It was almost three in the morning and his fatigue was catching up to him. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep, those cold swirls of gray and violet never leaving his mind.

 

    Keith woke up at seven thirty the next morning. Last night's events played like a movie in his head. He had gone to a bar and waited for Pidge. She couldn’t make it and a guy named Lance Mcclain charmed his way into Keith’s mind an heart. Keith put his hair into a ponytail and sighed.

    “Fuck. My heart,” he muttered

    Keith put his phone in his pajama pocket and got out of bed. After brushing his teeth he went downstairs to the living room. Pidge was already laying in the couch, her laptop propped open on her stomach. Keith walked over to the couch to see that Pidge was asleep. He took the laptop from her stomach and put it on the coffee table.

    “Hunh, wha?” Pidge mumbled. She rubbed her eyes and sat up.”What happened?”

    Keith handed Pidge her glasses, which had been on the floor.

    “Nothin’,” Keith said. He pointed at the laptop.”What were you doing on there so late?”

    Pidge pushed her glasses up on the bridge of her nose and smirked.

    “I was getting dirt on your boyfriend,” she said. Keitch smacked her with a pillow.

    “What?!” he exclaimed. Pidge laughed and clutched the pillow.

    “So you’re not even going to deny it?” Pidge asked.

    “Deny what?”

    “That he’s your boyfriend!”

    Keith’s eyes grew wide. He tried pulling the pillow away from Pidge, but she pulled harder.

    “He’s not my boyfriend,” Keith said. Pidge snickered and let go of the pillow, causing Keith to fall over.

    “Really? Cause it seems to me like you FELL for him,” she said.Keith huffed. He stood up and threw the pillow at Pidge again.

    “Just hurry and get ready,” he said. “We have class in an hour.”

    Keith walked back upstairs to his room. He checked his messages and to his dismay there was no new text from Lance. Keith bit his bottom lip. Maybe I should...text him first?, he thought. A message from Pidge popped up.

    “Text him first,” it read. Keith smiled, his chest feeling heavy.

    Well, he thought, here goes nothing. He sent out his message to Lance and got ready for class.

 

    Lance sat on his couch and channel surfed on his tv. After three minutes of searching, he shut it off and tossed the remote onto a couch cushion. He sank into his spot and sighed. Of course there was nothing good on at this time of the day.

    As Lance sank deeper into the couch, his phone vibrated. He lazily pulled it out of his jen pocket, expecting it to be Shiro or Hunk.

New Message from keith

    Lance sat up so quickly a string from his hoodie smacked his face. His heart skipped several beats at the sight of Keith’s name. What do I do!?, Lance thought. Lance avoided his message app and called Hunk.

    “What’s up?” Hunk answered.

    “Hunk ohmyogdokayKeithtextesmeandIdon’tknowwhattosay,” Lance spewed out.

    “Lance,buddy, calm down,” Hunk said. “What did you say?”

    “Keith texted me!” Lance exclaimed.

    “Okaaay...so what did he say?” Hunk asked.

    Lance was silent. He was freaking out yet he hadn't even read the message. Lance put Hunk on speakerphone and checked Keith’s message.

    “It’s a link,” Lance said.

    “Link to what?” Hunk asked

    Lance clicked on it. He burst out into laughter when he saw a gif of Spongebob making finger guns while winking. In his head, Lance could recall the conversation they had had the day before.

    “What is it?” Hunk asked.

    “A gif,” Lance said.”What should I say?”

    “Hmmm...send him a selfie,” Hunk answered. Lance choked on air.

    “A selfie?!”

    “Yeah! Be adventurous!” Hunk encouraged.

    Lance bit his lip. Should he? What if Keith thought he was too full of himself? Keith surely didn’t like people like that.

    “Come on, Lance,” Hunk said as Lance contemplated.”It’s just a picture. It’ll be fine.” Lance sighed deeply.

    “All right. But if he rejects me, I’m blaming it on you!” Lance warned. “Now I’m going to wash my face and find the right angles. Wish me luck.”

    “Good luck. Keep me updated,” Hunk said.

    They said goodbye and hung up. Lance shot up from the couch and ran to the bathroom to wash up. After brushing his teeth, his hair, and washing his face, Lance went into his bedroom. He paced around with his camera facing him, trying to find good angles and lighting. After twenty minutes and an ignored text from Shiro, Lance finally found the perfect spot. He snapped his picture and almost sent it when he stopped himself.

    “Wait,” he whispered. “Should I send it with or without context?”

    Lance stared at his keyboard for five minutes trying to come up with something. Nothing came to mind.

    “Fuck it,” Lance said. He sent Keith his selfie and hoped for the best. He exhaled deeply, realizing that he had been holding his breath. Lance left the conversation and opened Shiro’s text.

    “ Shooting range @ 9?”

    Lance checked the time. Eight fifty. He’d probably get there late. He typed out his response and hit send. Lance went to the front door and slipped his sneakers on. He plucked his car keys from the coat hook next to the door and left the house.

 

    Keith and Pidge sat in Pidge’s green 2016 Chevrolet Spark. They both scrolled through their phones as they waited for it to be time for the one class they had that day. Keith sighed heavily. He had texted Lance over an hour ago and he had yet to respond.

    Was he asleep? Was he ignoring him? Hell, did Lance even have Keith’s number anymore?

    “Are you okay?” Pidge asked. “You look like you’re taking a shit.”

    “I’m good,” Keith said. Pidge raised her eyebrows, seeing through her friend’s lie.

    “Don’t worry about Lance,” Pidge said. “He works at the Garrison, so he might be busy.”

    Keith nodded. Pidge was right. But still….Suddenly Keith’s phone rang. Keith quickly checked, pulling a smile from Pidge.

    “Is it Lance?” she asked. Keith nodded. He opened the message to see a selfie of Lance. He was imitating the gif Keith had sent him. Keith chuckled. Pidge leaned in to look at the picture. She let out a small “hmph”.

    “He’s pretty confident,” she said. Keith bit his lip and nodded.

    “Yeah,he is.”

    Pidge smirked and started pushing Keith around by his shoulder.

    “Ooooh, Keith’s got a boyyyfrieeend,” she teased. Keith tried pushing her away but Pidge persisted. They laughed as they pushed each other around.

    “Stop, let me respond!” Keith laughed. Pidge stopped and sat back in her seat. She looked over Keith’s shoulder and watched him type his response.

 

    Lance exhaled slowly, careful not to shake his gun. He kept eyes on the target. Any minute now, it would start moving. And he’s be ready.

    “Ready?” Shiro asked.

    Lance nodded. Shiro pressed the button on the wall. At least three targets began moving rapidly around Lance. Head, heart, gut, kneecaps, Lace thought to himself. It was like a demented version of “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes”, but it helped Lance focus. Lance took a deep breath and began shooting.

    Bang!

    Bang!

    Bang!

    Bang bang!

    Shiro stopped the targets. They all lines up in front of him and Lance. Each one had a bullet hole through the head, heart, gut, and both kneecaps. Shiro nudged Lance on the back.

    “All right! Nice job, man,” he said.

    Lance smiled at the sight of his handiwork. He handed the gun to Shiro.

    “Your turn,” he said. Shiro took the gun and stepped up to the line. Lace went to the control buttons. As he was about to press the button for a new set of targets, his phone vibrated.

New Message from keith

     Lance smiled and leaned up against the panel, careful not to press the buttons. He opened up the message.

     You are such a dork lol

    “Lance!” Shiro called out.

    “Huh?” Lance asked, still smiling at his phone.

    “The panel, please,” Shiro said.

    Lance hit a random button on the panel. Five targets came out at once. Shiro shot each target in the neck.

    “All right, Lance,” he said. Shiro turned around and saw Lance typing on his phone, smirking.

Is that a good thing? lol

    “Lance!” Shiro called out again.

    Lance ignored him. When Shiro was about to shout his name again, more targets showed up. Shiro shot haphazardly at each one. Lance snapped back to his senses. He turned off the targets. Shiro turned to him.

    “Finally!” he exclaimed.

    “Sorry. I was-”

    Lance’s phone vibrated again. He opened up the message.

Definitely ;)

    Lance felt himself blushing. A winky face….How did he respond to that? Lance felt someone looking over his shoulder. He turned his head to see Shiro.

    “Who’s Keith?” he asked.

    “He’s,um, my fffriend,” Lance said unsurely. Shiro raised his eyebrows.

    “You sure? Cause I usually don’t send my friends winky faces,” he said. Lance tsked.

     “Look he’s….I met him in last night at a bar,” Lance explained.

    “Awww look at you. Finally meeting someone in person and not on Tinder,” Shiro teased.

    Lance grunted and playfully shoved Shiro. Shiro laughed and smiled at his friend. A more serious tone took his voice, his face still amused.

    “Are you going to get involved with him?” Shiro asked. Lance sighed and slumped up against the panel. He stared up at the ceiling.

    “I mean...I would like to. I just need him to feel the same, you know?”

    “Well, even if he does, does he know your...occupation?” Shiro asked.

    Lance shut his eyes and sighed. Lord here we go, he thought, another speech.

    “Yes, Shiro. I think he’s used to this life; his dad was a Paladin, too,” Lance said. Shiro unloaded what was left in the gun and hung it up on a hook on the wall.

    “Really?” he asked. “What squad?”

    “Red, like, seventeen years ago,” Lance said. Shiro’s eyes widened.

    “What was his last name?” Shiro asked. Lance shrugged.

    “I didn’t catch it,” Lance explained. “Why?” Shiro shook his head. He picked his jacket up from a bench across the booth.

    “Nothing, forget about it,” Shiro said.

     He looked at Lance, who was staring down at his phone. Shiro walked over to him and put his hand on Lance’s shoulder.

    “Cheer up, Lance,” he said. “I’m sure he likes you.”

    “Thank,” Lance chuckled softly.

     Shiro felt happy inside at the sight of his friend smiling. He hoped that everything worked out for him. He deserved it. Just then, a thought popped into Shiro’s mind. That’s right, he had something he wanted to tell Lance.

    “You in the mood for some good news?” Shiro asked. Lance nodded.

    “I’m proposing soon.”

     Lance gasped. His eyes lit up and his spirits lifted.

    “What!?” he exclaimed. “When!?”

    Shiro had a bright look on his face. He chuckled at the sight of Lance’s excitement. He seems more excited than Shiro himself.

    “In a couple of months, hopefully,” Shiro said. “I’m looking at rings.”

    Lance clasped his hand over his mouth. He could not believe what he was hearing. Shiro and Adam had been together since Lance had met them, maybe even longer. Everyone believed they were meant to be.

    “That-that is- that’s great,Shiro. Really, it is,” Lance said. Shiro smiled softly.

    “Lance, Adam and I really appreciate your support and you are the most valuable friend I have. So I’d like to ask: would you...be my best man?” Shiro asked. Lance gaped.

    “You want me? To be your best man?” he asked.

    Shiro nodded, a small smile on his lips. Lance gasped quietly. He felt so honored and ecstatic.

    “Wow,” he whispered quietly to himself. Shiro laughed and patted his back.

    “Come on,” he said. “We’ll talk about it more in the parking lot.”

 

   “I shouldn’t have sent him a winky face,” Keith said.

    He had his hands over his face. Pidge snagged one of her t-shirts from under his leg. They were currently in Pidge’s bedroom and Pidge was folding her laundry. She sighed as she folded her shirt.

    “Stop moping around,” Pidge said. “He’s probably busy. You’re overthinking this situation when you should be helping me fold my clothes like you promised.”

    Keith sat up and grabbed a pile of Pidge’s shirts and began folding them. They worked in silence. After ten minutes Keith’s phone rang. He and Pidge stared at each other as Keith picked it up.

Yeah? How about you let this dork take you on a date then?

     Pidge gasped and looked at Keith. He was blushing and staring at his phone with wide eyes. Pidge rocked him back and forth by his shoulder.

    “Oh my god, Keith!” Pidge exclaimed. “Say yes!”

    “I’m going to!” Keith said excitedly. “Let me just….” Keith covered his face with his hands and exhaled deeply. He returned to his phone and typed out his response.

Sure thing sharpshooter

    “You are so lame,” Pidge said.

    “Shhh!” Keith snapped, embarrassed. They stared at the chat, awaiting Lance’s response.

Pick you up at your place tomorrow? 7:30?

Sounds good. see you then :)

Looking forward to it :)

 

    

 

    







Chapter Text

    It was pouring buckets outside. The clouds were colossal and gray, leaving no sun in sight. Lance hopelessly watched the rain pour down outside his window. Why did it have to rain on the day of his date with Keith? Lance sighed and laid down on his bed. When it got darker, he turned on his lamp.

    A plethora of thoughts moved around his brain, most of them about Keith. Keith. His name alone had Lance sighing up a storm. What was he doing right now? Was he as nervous as Lance. Would he come through or not? Lance’s eyes grew wide and he facepalmed.

    “Fuck,” he muttered.

    Lance hadn’t even thought of where he was going to take Keith. How much time did he have to come up with something? Lance checked the time in his phone and shot up from his bed. It was already seven twenty. Lance threw on his brown hoodie. He raced out of the house and through the rain to get to his car.

    Lance pulled up at Keith’s apartment at seven thirty on the dot. He walked into the small entrance hallway and texted Keith.

I’m here

     Lance ruffled up his hair when Keith texted back.

I’ll be down in a few

   “Okay, Lance,” he told himself quietly. “You got this.”

    “Nice pep talk.”

    Lance turned around and saw Keith walking down the stairs. Lance gulped and felt the tips of his ears turn red. He discreetly cleared his throat and regained his composure.

    “You,” he pointed at Keith,” were not supposed to hear that.”

    Keith grinned as he approached Lance. He wore a red hoodie, baggy jeans, and black combat boots. His hair was up in a small ponytail.

    “I’m kind of glad I did,” Keith said. “It was cute.”

    Heat rose to Lance’s cheeks. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jacket. Keith bit his bottom lip.

    “S-so you’re ready?” Lance asked.

    Keith nodded shyly. Lance opened the door for him. They speed walked to the car in an attempt to avoid the unavoidable pouring rain. They sat in the car, dripping. Lance gripped the steering wheel. He gulped and stared at the windshield. Keith did the same. The two of them were obviously nervous but both were too oblivious to notice.

    “Listen,” Lance said. “I’m going to be honest with you: I have no idea what I’m doing right now.”

    Keith laughed, giving Lance an obnoxious wave of butterflies in his stomach. Oh God, Lance thought, how am I even going to survive this date? Keith smiled and shrugged.

    “That’s fine,” he said. “I mean, there’s not much that you can do in this place.”

    Lance contemplated his options for a minute. He could stay in the area and give Keith a mediocre date OR he could go to the city a half hour away and give Keith a good enough date. Lance went with the latter.

    “Want to go to the city?” Lance asked. Keith nodded.

    “Sure.”

    The rain and dark clouds in the sky made it look like it was late into the evening. However it was only seven fifty. Lance and Keith were on their way to the city next to their town. They had spent the last twenty minutes in utter silence, one of them occasionally opening their mouth to speak but immediately closing it.

    Damn it, Lance!, Lance thought to himself, you’re stale out here.

    “Uh, you can, um, turn the volume up on the radio,” Lance said. Fuck, he thought, really? That’s all you can come up with?

    Keith reached for the radio when Lance gasped.

    “Wait, no d-”

    “Too late,” Keith said with a mischievous grin. He turned the volume up, a Beyoncè song playing through the speakers.

    Keith gasped and started laughing. Lance felt his face become hot. He wanted to stop the car and jump out. Why hadn’t he remembered to take the cd out beforehand?

    “You like Beyoncè?” Keith asked. Lance bit his lip and nodded in shame. There was no use denying it now.

    “Wow,” Keith chuckled.

    “What?” Lance asked. He had a grin on his face now. “Are you-” he fake gasped,” are you not a fan of the queen?” Keith snickered and crossed his arms.

    “Um...no, not really,” he said.

    Lance fake screamed, sounding like a hoarse. Keith smiled at the dorkiness. He took the aux cord and connected Lance’s phone to it.

    “Whatcha doin’ there?” Lance asked. Keith opened up Lance’s phone and scrolled through his music.

    “Searching,” he said. “You can find out a lot about a person through the music they listen to.” Keith scrolled slowly through Lance’s music, smiling. He was obviously having too much fun with this.

   What do you listen to, then?” Lance asked. Keith faltered for a moment, but continued scrolling.

    “It’s a secret.” Lance chuckled.

    “Why? You found my guilty pleasure,” he said. “What, you still listen to MCR?”

    Keith cringed and rubbed his right temple. Lance gasped.

    “You doooo,” he teased. Keith buried his face in his hands.

    “I feel personally attacked right now,” he chuckled. Lance grinned.

    “My bad.”

    Keith looked back up at him and stuck out his tongue playfully. Lance, watching Keith from the corner of his eye, blushed brightly. Keith clicked on “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men and set Lance’s phone down in a cup holder.

    At eight o’clock they arrived at the city. It was easy to spot. The illumination from the street lights made the city shine through the dark clouds. As Lance drove down the streets, the rain simmered down to a light drizzle. Lance bit the inside of his cheek.

    Well, shit. We’re here but where am I going to take him, he thought.

    Lance drive around until he reached the ideal destination. It was a nameless building with a three floor bookstore, a guitar center, and another store that seemed to never be open. The three were connected, side by side, a door at the far right of each store leading to the other.

    Lance sighed and turned to face Keith. They stared at each other.

    “Ready for this rain?” Keith asked.

    “You bet.”

    The two quickly got out of the car and rushed to the bookstore. When they entered, the smell of ink and old paper hit their noses. The room they were in was wide enough to be a living room. A chandelier with fake, electric candles gave the room a goldish tint. Keith slid off his hood and gave a glance around. The room had bookshelves along the walls and six of them were back to back against each other in the middle.

    “This is pretty neat,” Keith said. Lance ruffled his damp hair. He gave the room a look for the first time since they arrived. He nodded in agreement.

    “Yeah, it’s nice,” Lance said. “I’ve never really looked around here. I just go to the guitar store.” Keith looked up at him.

    “Do you think that other store’s finally open?” he asked.

    “Hmmm,” Lance said. He tapped his chin. “Maybe. We’ll save that for the end of the date.” Keith smiled

    “Okay.”

    For an hour, the pair explored the three levels of the bookstore. They picked up books at random and had the other guess what it was about. They found books they read when they were children, and pointed out their favorites. However, their trip in the bookstore ended when Lance switched Bibles out with Goosebumps books and then proceeded to bolt into the guitar store, Keith following behind him with uncontrollable laughter. Lance smiled brightly when Keith caught up to him.

    “Are you ready for part two of this totally awesome date?” Lance asked. Keith rolled his eyes but had a radiant smile on his lips.

    “Sure, ‘bad boy’,” he said.

    Lance bit his lip to hold back a smirk. He walked over to the acoustic guitars. Keith followed behind him. They stopped in front of an Ibanez AW54 Artwood acoustic guitar. Keith glanced at Lance. He looked to be completely focused on it.

    “Do you play?” Keith asked. Lance nodded quickly. Carefully, he plucked the guitar from its stand. He plopped down on a stool and got comfortable.

    “Let me play something for you, ‘pretty boy’,” Lance said.

    The tips of Keith’s ears turned pink. He gulped and stuffed his hands in his hoodie. Lance bit his bottom lip and exhaled. He was readying himself. What song could he play for Keith? A song that described how he had been feeling for the past two days….

    Lance cleared his throat and began strumming the chords for “Wild” by Troye Sivan. Keith swayed slowly. He didn’t know what song Lance was playing, but it made him feel warm inside. He watched how Lance played, how he furrowed his brow️, how he closed his eyes at times almost as if he was trying to picture the music. When Lance was done Keith clapped.

    “You’re really good,” Keith said. Lance smiled and set the guitar back on its stand.

    “Thank you,” he said. Keith gave him a shy smile.

    “I just...I just wish I knew what song you were playing,” he said. Lance’s jaw dropped.

    “You mean to tell me that you’ve never heard of Troye Sivan?” he asked.

    Keith shrugged innocently and chuckled awkwardly. Lance sighed in defeat. Keith saw a sign light up in the corner of his eye. He turned and saw a sign that read “Open” on a door. He pointed to it.

    “Hey, look,” Keith said.

    Lance looked at the door. His eyes widened. The two exchanged looks before approaching the door and going through. What was on the other side surprised them.

    The third store was a small room with music. There were three shelves of music along the walls and small sections in the middle of the room. Lance walked over to the shelf that had a tablet and two headsets. Keith followed behind him. Lance started typing on the tablet.

    “What’re you looking for?” Keith asked. Lance took one the headsets and gave it to Keith.

    “The song I played for you,” Lance explained. He smiled and stopped scrolling. “Found it.”

    They both put the headsets on. Lance turned to Keith, who gave him a nod of approval. Lance turned to the tablet and hit play.

Trying hard not to fall on the way home

You were trying to wear me down, down

    Keith took his hands off the headset and put them at his side. Lance stared at them. Something inside him told him to reach for Keith’s hands. Lance glanced up at Keith. He was focused on the lyrics displayed on the screen.

Too long till I drown in your hands

Too long since I’ve been a fool

    Lance discreetly put his hands at his sides. He swayed slowly. Maybe I could “bump” into him, Lance thought. Keith had a faint smile upon his lips. Lance found it hard to not stare. Keith didn’t seem to mind. He slowly moved closer to Lance. Their fingertips brushed up against each other.

You make my heart shake

bend and break

But I can’t turn away and it’s driving me wild

You’re driving me wild

    Lance drew in a sharp breath and brushed his hand against Keith’s again. Keith moved closer and laced his fingers through Lance’s. He rested his head on his shoulder. They stayed like this for the rest of the song, both of their hearts jumping and flying in their chests.

    When the song was over, they stood close for a few more seconds. Lance wanted the moment to last longer (as did Keith), but Keith let go of Lance’s hand slowly. He took off hi headset and set it down.

    “That was...that was a good song,” Keith said quietly. They both faced each other and blushed. They quickly looked away and shuffled awkwardly. Lance glanced at a clock on the wall. It read ten thirty.

    “It’s pretty late,” Lance said. “Should we head home?”

    Keith raised his eyebrows. He held an expression that was a mix of content and disappointment. He nodded.

    “Yeah, sure,” Keith answered. The two made their way out of the stores and got into Lance’s car.

    The rain had ceased and the clouds had disappeared. The moon was high in the sky, shining brightly along with the twinkling stars. Keith and Lance spent the ride bad home in silence and exchanged occasional glances at each other like before. Lance’s hand brushed up against Keith’s at one point. Neither of them moved.

    At eleven o’clock, they arrived at Keith’s apartment. Keith slid off his seatbelt and sighed. Lance faced him, a bit concerned about what he was going to say.

    “Um,” Keith started. He stopped and smiled, letting out a breathy chuckle. “I had a lot of fun tonight. That was one of the best dates I’ve been on in a long time. So...thank you.”

    Lance felt his heart swell. He wanted to jump and shout with joy.

    “Anytime,” he smirked.

    Keith smiled. Quickly, without a second thought, he leaned over the center console and gave Lance a kiss on the cheek. Lance blinked rapidly, making Keith laugh.

    “Night, Lance,” he said.

    “Night,” Lance answered quietly.

    Keith got out of the car and disappeared into his apartment building. Lance stared at his steering wheel.

    He...he kissed my cheek, Lance thought. He covered his face with his hands. His heart was racing, his nerves racing, and he felt like giggling uncontrollably.

    “Ay Dios, no puedo,” he said to himself.

    Lance somewhat recollected himself and headed home. That night, both of them wee too entranced by each other to sleep, the date playing over and over in their head.




    

Chapter Text

    It was a cloudy Saturday morning. Keith and Pidge were in their kitchen having breakfast. Keith had a bowl of cereal while Pidge fixed herself some pancakes. They usually ate in silence until Keith had some food, which usually gave him the energy to have a conversation. It was not a pretty sight when he was hangry. However, this morning, Pidge needed to have a talk with him.

    “Hey, Keith?” Pidge asked.

    “Hmm?”

    “Has Lance asked you to be his boyfriend yet?”

    Keith coughed at the question. Why was Pidge asking about him and Lance all of a sudden?

    “No,” Keith answered simply. “Why?”

    Pidge set her plate of pancakes down on the table. She went back to the fridge to get milk.

    “Because he’s taken you on four dates-five, if you count the one you guys are going on today. You guys have been calling and texting each other nonstop and he even gave you his hoodie, which you practically live in,” she said.

    Keith stared at his soggy cereal. Well...Pidge wasn’t wrong. After their first date, Keith and Lance had gone on three more dates. They became closer as friends, having inside jokes and petty arguments. But Keith wanted to have more than just a friendship with Lance. He wanted an intimate relationship that he knew they were capable of having. Keith wanted hugs and small swaying to new song they’d hear, late night talks in person that lasted till morning, and, man, did Keith really want to kiss Lance. His lips looked so soft….

    “Earth to Keith,” Pidge said. Keith’s head snapped up revealing his red cheeks to Pidge. She smiled then turned serious. “You know, I really hate to say this because I know you like him a lot. But if Lance doesn’t ask you out after this date then I think you should stop seeing him. At least romantically.”

    Keith bit the inside of his cheek. Pidge was, once again, right. Keith had a huge thing for Lance. This was clear to probably everyone except Lance himself. What if he didn’t feel the same even after their dates? What if he did?

    “I...I… guess I’ll see how it goes tonight,” Keith said quietly.

 

    “So,”Hunk said as he sat down at the table with Lance. They were in Lance’s kitchen, catching up. “How are you and Keith?”

    Lance tapped on the side of his glass of water.

    “We’re good,” Lance said.

    “You seal the deal yet?” Hunk asked. Lance sighed and shook his head. “Why not?”

    “It’s just…,” Lance sighed. “I like Keith a lot, Hunk. I really do. It’s just that I don’t want to end up...leaving him behind, if you catch my drift.”

    Hunk simply nodded. He rubbed his temples.

    “When was the last time you had to go on duty?” Hunk asked. Lance thought for a moment.

    “Probably like five years,” he answered.

    “It’s been five years, Lance,” Hunk said. “At this rate it’ll be a few more years before you get called to duty. There’s no need for you to worry about your line of work coming between you and Keith.”

    Lance exhaled slowly and fixed his gaze on a small bubble at the bottom of his glass of water. Hunk was right. It had been a long time since he had to get between what could happen with him and Keith.

    “I know you like Keith a ton, man,” Hunk said. Lance turned his attention from the bubble to his brother. “You should give it a shot at your date tonight.”

    Lance furrowed his brow and exhaled slowly once again. He nodded to himself.

    “I will.”

 

    Later that evening Lance and Keith were walking home from their date.They had walked around the town with no exact destination, only stopping when something caught their attention. This had been yet another successful date for the two and now they were reaching the end of it. The two of them shared a worry: what would happen afterwards?

    They reached Keith’s apartment building. Keith made a face of discomfort. Lance’s heart picked up. This is it, now’s my chance, he thought.

    “Keith,” Lance said. Keith turned to face him. His eyes were wide and filled with an emotion that Lance couldn’t name but felt as well. “So we’ve been seeing each other for a few weeks now.”

    There was silence. Keith slowly nodded, letting Lance continue.

    “And...well….” Lance rubbed his neck and bit the inside of his cheek.

    Keith, however, tried his best to keep a poker face. His heart was caught between his chest and his stomach. It was ready to leap with excitement but also sink down with disappointment. Keith hoped it wouldn’t sink. Lance inhaled and exhaled slowly.

    “Look,” he began quickly. “I like you a lot. Very, very much, you know? And….” Lance slowed his pace. “Ever since we first met I haven’t I haven’t stopped thinking about you, not for a second. Mad these dates have been the best that I’ve been on and you...well, there’s something about you that draws me in more and more every time.”

    Keith let out an embarrassed chuckle and felt his cheeks grow warm. This, what Lance was describing, was what Keith felt as well.

    “Maybe it’s your eyes, or your ridiculous laugh, or your attitude, or maybe it’s just you. Either way….” Lance bit his bottom lip. Here goes nothing.

    “Keith, will you be my boyfriend?”

    Keith smiled. He took his hands out of his (Lance’s) hoodie and brought them up to Lance’s cheeks. He stroked them with the pad of his thumbs.

    “Yes,” Keith answered. “I would like to be your boyfriend very, very much.”

    Lance smiled and wrapped his arms around Keith’s waist, pulling him closer.  

    He felt Keith’s heart going as fast as his. Lance was so overcome with glee that he could cry; and he probably would. But he didn’t and instead decided to give Keith a kiss.

    Keith’s eyes were wide and he was surprised. He closed his eyes after a few seconds and stood up straighter. Lance could feel him grinning. He broke away slowly, smiling at the man he currently held in his arms.

    “Your cheeks are so red...you look like a raspberry,” Keith said. Lance chuckled

    “Yeah I-I…,” he stammered. Keith giggled and wrapped his arms around Lance’s neck and bit his bottom lip.

    “What’s wrong, cat caught your tongue?” he asked in a whisper.

    Keith leaned in and gave Lance a gentle kiss. The way their lips connected sent a wave of excitement through both of them. Goosebumps rose on every inch of their body. Keith himmed contently. Lance’s lips were as soft as he thought they would be.

    “I have to go now, Lance,” Keith said.

    Lance let a slight pout form on his lips. He had spent almost four hours with Keith but he wanted more time.

    “When are you free again?” Lance asked.

    “Hmmm, I’m not sure. I’ll let you know,” Keith answered. He gave Lance one more kiss before slowly pulling away. He let his fingers linger against the long sleeves of Lance’s shirt. “Good night, Lance.”

    “Good night, Keith,” Lance said.

    He gave Keith a kiss on his forehead before they parted ways. The whole walk up to the apartment, Keith was giddy. He speedwalked up the stairs and could not stop smiling. He wanted to jump, to excitedly at the top of his lungs. When he arrived at the front door, Keith flung it open energetically. Pidge stood up from the couch, surprised.

    “Are you okay?” she questioned. Keith locked her into an enormous hug and managed to pull her up from the ground. “Keith, wha-”

    “Guess who’s dating Lance!” Keith exclaimed.

    Pidge gasped as Keith set her down. She flung herself at him again.

    “Keith, holy shit!” Pidge congratulated. They fumbled around until they sat on the couch, laughing.

    “So,” Pidge said, “tell me everything he did.” Keith smiled broadly.

    “We were in front of the building….”

 

    Lance raced to his bedroom and turned on his lamp. He flung himself onto his bed and immediately called Hunk.

    “What is it, Lance?” Hunk asked.

    “Hunk, hermano, no vas a creèr lo que pasó,” Lance got out quickly. Hunk rubbed his temple. He was preparing himself for Lance’s storm of excitement.

    “Que?”

    “I asked Keith out,” Lance responded breathlessly. He smiled widely and sighed. “We’re dating now.”

    Hunk smiled at the news.

    “That’s great, man,” he said.

    “It’s more than great. It’s...it’s….” Lance drifted off and clutched his chest. “God, Hunk.” His heart fluttered. “I haven’t felt this way in a long time.”

    Hunk chuckled. Lance’s affection towards Keith reminded him of the first time he met his wife, Shay. It was heartwarming to see his little brother happy.

    “Are you going to tell me how it happened, lover boy?” Hunk asked. Lance nodded as if Hunk could see him through the other end of the line.

    “We got to his apartment building and we were going to say goodbye when I just...poured my heart out to him,” Lance said. “I told him that I really like him and that I always want to be with him. Basically everything I talked to you about. Then I asked him if he wanted to be my boyfriend.”

    “What did he say? I mean, I know he said yes, but how did he say it?” Hunk asked. The moment replayed in Lance’s head. A smile grew on his lips.

    “He got all flustered...but then he held my face in his hands and said that he’d ‘like to be my boyfriend very much’,” Lance said.

    “Awww!” Hunk teased. “My brother’s a total ladies/gentlemans man!” Lance chuckled and he felt bubbly inside. “I need to meet Keith one day.”

    “You might. If you do, you’ll like him. Trust me,” Lance said.

    “Well I already like him since he’s got you all blushy and bubbly,” Hunk replied. Lance bit his lip and sighed dreamily.

    “Yeah, he really does.”

 

    Keith laid on his mattress and stared up at the ceiling. The mattress was pushed up against one of the bedroom walls. Above it were pictures of him with Pidge and of him with his mother, Krolia.He had magazine clippings of bands he used to adore strewn across the dark gray wall.

    Keith flipped onto his stomach and pulled out his phone. It was ten forty-five. He really wanted to call his mother and tell her about the good news, but she was most likely sleeping at this time. As soon as Keith set his phone down it began to ring.

    “Hey,” Keith answered. “I was just thinking about calling you.”

    It was his mother.

    “I was trying to sleep but something in my gut told me that you needed something,” Krolia said. Keith scrunched up his face. His mother always had a keen mother’s intuition. “What do you need?” Keith sighed and grinned.

    “You remember that I told you that I met a guy last month?” he asked.

    “Yes. What about him?” Krolia gasped. “He didn’t break your heart did he?” Keith chuckled.

    “No, mom. Quite the opposite. We’ve been on a couple of dates the last few weeks and he asked me to be his boyfriend,” he explained. The thought of Lance made his chest bubble up. “And I said yes.”

    “Sweetie, that’s great!” Krolia happily said. Keith grinned softly. He could tell that his mother was genuinely happy, but she was also tired. “Care to tell me about it?”

    “I will soon. You should get some rest,” Keith said.

    They exchanged goodbyes and hung up. As soon as Keith hung up, his phone rang again. An excited smile grew on his lips. He quickly answered.

    “Hello?”

    “Hey, so, I know I saw you an hour ago but I...miss you,” Lance said.

    “I miss you, too,” Keith said shyly. They shared a few minutes of silence before Lance spoke.

    “Want to run away with me?” he asked. Keith snorted as his ears turned bright red. What a loser.

    “And where would we run away to?”

    “My house, if you want,” Lance said.

    Keith bit his lip and eyes his bedroom door. Je didn’t have class tomorrow and he didn’t work until the day after...he could definitely salvage a few hours with Lance.

    “Okay,” Keith finally said, a grin on his lips.

    “Good. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

    When they hung up, Leith dashed to grab his shoes. He slipped them on and tied them rapidly. He out in his hoodie and ran his hand through his hair a couple of times before pressing his ear to the wall.

    There was silence in Pidge’s room, meaning that she was asleep. Keith carefully opened his bedroom door and tread slowly down the stairs, careful not to make any noise. When he reached the living room he sat and waited for Lance to text him telling him that he was there.

    When the message came Keith quietly rushed out the front door and to the lobby. Keith stepped outside as Lance was pulling up in front of the apartment building. He smiled and made his way into the car.

    “Hi,” Keith said when he sat down. He leaned over and kissed Lance’s cheek. Lance blushed and grinned.

    “Hi,” he replied. “You ready to go?”

    Keith nodded. Lance slowly reached to hold Keith's hand and started to drive.

    Lance’s house was in a clean neighborhood. All of the houses were fairly small, big enough to be bachelor pads but also big enough for families. Lance’s house was practically miniature with a porch and no basement. Its exterior walls were made of dark brown shingles, but on the inside the walls were beige with the exception of Lance’s room, which was navy blue. The floor was made of dark hardwood. There were three rooms down a narrow hallway. The first to the left was a bathroom, across from it was a crowded closet with a washer and dryer, and the last room to the left was Lance’s bedroom.

    Keith and Lance lay on Lance’s bed. The bed was two mattresses stacked on top of each other on a bed frame that was pushed into the far left corner of the room. Next to the bed was a small end table with a lmao that dimly illuminated the room.

    “Pidge is going to freak out when she finds out that I’m not home,” Keith said. Lance made a slightly upset face.

    “Should I drive you back?” he asked. Keith shook his head and snuggled up against Lance.

    “Nope.” He looked up at Lance and smiled. “I ran away with you remember? She’s not supposed to know I’m here anyway.”

    Lance smiled. Boy if that didn’t make his heart race. He rested his chin on the top of Keith’s head. Keith felt Lance’s breathing fall slow. He looked at him to find that he was falling asleep.

    “Do you want me to turn off the lamp?” Keith asked. Lance’s eyes shot open immediately.

    Shit. The lamp.

    “Umm...is it okay if I leave it on?” he asked. Keith nodded.

    He moved closer, intertwining legs with Lance. Lance sighed deeply. He was relieved that he didn’t have to explain to Keith that he had a serious fear of the dark, but not only that. Lance took in this moment with Keith. He took in all of Keith’s warm appearance. The way he scrunched up his nose as he began to fall asleep, his eyes fluttering shut hiding those beautiful whirlpools of violet and gray.

    Keith wasn’t wearing his hair up like he usually did. It was tucked away in his red hoodie. Lance smiled to himself before closing his eyes. He had only met Keith a month ago, but it felt so different from being with someone he had known for a long time. That whole month he had been pining over him, Lance never though he and Keith would share moment like this. But now as they lay together, a door opened to a future full of these moments.

 

    

 

    



   

    

 

Chapter Text

 

July, 7 months later

    Keith pushed the book cart through the aisles. Pidge sat criss cross on top of the cart. She technically wasn’t supposed to be sitting there, but there wasn’t anyone of importance around to scold them. Pidge read a comic book as Keith pushed the book cart to the right aisle. When he got to it he stopped. Pidge put her comic book down and picked up three bulky textbooks.

“I know you don’t work today, so thanks for helping me out,” she said to Keith as she stood on the cart. Pidge grunted as she reached out to put the books on the very top shelf.

Keith tipped her to the side a bit to aid her short arms. Pidge quickly slipped the textbooks into their spot and sat down.

“No problem,” Keith said. A smirk grew in the corner of his lips. “I had a feeling you’d need help anyway, ‘P-Rex’.”

Pidge cringed and quickly turned to smack Keith with her comic book. Keith laughed loudly. P-Rex was a nickname that Lance had given Pidge because of how short her arms were. Pidge tried insulting his long legs but failed miserably, causing the name ‘P-Rex’ to stick. Pidge grabbed the last two books on the cart and pointed to where Keith should stop. She stood up again.

“I love Lance,” Pidge started,” because he makes you happy and he’s overall a pretty chill guy. But I’m still salty about the fact that he thought I was a boy even after you had mentioned me before.” Keith chuckled as he gave Pidge an extra boost with his hands.

“I mean, if I didn’t know you I would’ve thought the same. Besides, you look like Ma-”

Keith stopped himself. Pidge froze and her face fell sadly. She cleared her throat and finished shelving the books.

“Yeah, I kind of look like Matt,’ Pidge said quietly. She stepped back on top of  the book cart and sat down. Keith bit his top lip and regretfully pushed the cart.

Two years ago, Pidge’s father, Sam, and her brother, Matt, were sent on a confidential mission assigned by the Garrison. Sam had returned safely with a few scratches. Matt, however, was nowhere to be found. Iverson told the Holt family that they were doing what they could to find him. Pidge tried her best to maintain faith in Iverson, but after a year and a half of waiting and seeing how the disappearance of his father had taken its toll on Keith, she lost hope.

Keith knew how much Pidge missed Matt. He had been there to console her and her family when Matt had disappeared. Keith remembered how Pidge had reacted when she cut her hair last year. She stared into the mirror and tears pooled in her eyes. She put her hands on the mirror and said to Keith,” I look like...like Matt.” Keith hugged her tightly and later that day her found her staring straight into the mirror. It was as if Pidge believed that looking into the mirror would bring her brother back home.

Keith turned the corner of the aisle they were just in. The stairs and long ramp that lead to the first floor of the library were right in front of them. Keith watched Pidge read her comic book sadly. He hated seeing his best friend upset. Keith started pulling the cart backwards. Pidge looked up from her comic book.

“Keith, what are you doing?” she asked. Keith began pushing the cart slowly and gradually picked up speed.

“Keith?” Pidge questioned.

“Hold on,” Keith warned. He let go of the book cart.

“Keeeiiiith!” Pidge screamed.

The cart zoomed down the ramp, Pidge screaming on the way down. The cart’s back wheels lifted off of the ground and slammed back down. Keith smiled broadly and ran down the stairs along side the ramp. The cart was spinning in circles across the floor. It hit a pillar, making Pidge lurch forward. Keith ran to the cart and Pidge sat up. Both of them were breathless. They faced each other and burst into laughter even before they regained their breath. Pidge clutched her stomach as she laughed. Her sides were beginning to hurt, but she enjoyed laughing to her heart’s content.

“Who’s there?” a voice asked.

Keith and Pidge stopped laughing and straightened up. Pidge shoved her comic book up her green sweater. Just as Pidge started to climb off of the cart, the head librarian appeared from behind the pillar.

“And what might you be doing, Miss Holt?” she asked. Pidge froze. She had one foot on the cart and the other on the floor.

“Uuuuh,” Pidge uttered. She scrambled off of the cart and straightened up. “I was returning the cart to its place. My shift is over.”

The librarian folded her arms across her chest and raised her eyebrows in suspicion. She turned to face Keith.

“And you, Mr. Kogane?” the librarian questioned. “Last I remember, you don’t work today.” Keith cleared his throat.

“I was helping Pi- Katie,” he said. “She needed some help...reaching the shelves.”

The librarian looked from Keith to Pidge several times before finally sighing.

“You two can head home. I’ll take it from here,” she said.

The librarian took the cart and started pushing it to the back of the library. When she left, Pidge nudged playfully and gave him a heartfelt smile. Keith linked arms with Pidge as they left the library.

Keith drove home in Pidge’s car, Pidge sitting in the passenger seat. They listened to Pidge’s music and talked about their last semester of school. They’d been going to the robotics college for four years and this was their last. As they laughed about today’s events, Keith’s phone rang. Pidge smirked as she answered and put it on speaker.

“Hey, Leggy,” she said.

“Hey, P-Rex,” Lance answered. There was a hint of a smile in his voice. “Is Keith there?”

“Yeah but I’m driving,” Keith said.

“Oh.”

There were two grunts and the sound of bullets on Lance’s end of the line. Keith and Pidge exchanged confused looks.

“Um, Lance?” Keith questioned. “Where are you?” There was another gunshot.

“Work,” Lance said simply. “Iverson wanted Shiro and I to do two extra hours of training.” Lance cocked his gun and shot it again.

“Wait, so you’re holding your phone and shooting a gun?” Pidge asked.

“No Pidge. I bought a bluetooth piece before coming in to work,” Lance explained. Shiro’s gun ran out of ammunition. Lance ran and shout the target through the back before it reached Shiro. Shiro have him a thumbs up. Lance nodded and took off his helmet. “Anyway, I want to talk to Keith.” Keith smirked.

“What is it, babe?”

“Let’s go out tonight,” Lance said.

They got to the apartment. As soon as Keith parked, Pidge left the car to give Keith some privacy. Keith took the phone off of speaker and held it to his ear.

“Where?” he asked. Lance hung his gun up in metal lockers.

“I don’t know,” he said.

Keith thought for a moment. By the time Lance got off work it would be late in the evening, meaning that he’d be tired. He’d have to go pick up Keith, go out, drop Keith off, and then go home. It would make him even more weary.

“How about you spend the night at my place?” Keith asked.

“Will your best bud mind?” Lance asked. Keith snickered and stepped out of the car.

“Leave her alone,” he said. “And no, it’ll be fine. You have some of your stuff at your house anyway.”

“Okay, I’ll see you later, then,” Lance said, smirking.

“Wait,” Keith said quickly. A sinister grin spread across his lips. “You’re gonna leave without giving me a kiss?”

Lance gaped and looked around the locker room. Shiro was the only on there and well within earshot.

“I can’t do that, Shiro’s here,” Lance whispered. His whisper, sadly, caught Shiro’s attention. Keith snickered.

“So? It didn’t seem to matter when I did it in front of Pidge,” Keith said.

Lance groaned. He bit his lip and sighed before making two smooching sounds into the mic. Shiro snorted. Lance turned to push Shiro into the wall, causing him to snort more. Keith laughed into his hand. Messing with Lance always left him satisfied with himself.

“Okay, it sounds like I’ve embarrassed you enough,” Keith said. “Bye, Lance.”

Lance smiled brightly. He’d let Keith make him look like a fool whenever he pleased.

“Bye, babe.”

After he hung up, Lance turned to Shiro. He looked like he was going to explode with laughter. Lance took his bluetooth piece out of his ear and put it in his pocket.

“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” Lance started. “You used to do that with Adam. And you guys work together .” Shiro leaned up against the wall and crossed his arms.

“Yeah I know. My bad.” Shiro smiled to himself. “You know, seeing you go from flirting with anyone with two legs to being in a committed relationship...it’s kind of endearing. You’ve matured a lot since we met.”

Lance smiled and punched Shiro’s shoulder playfully.

“Thanks, ‘dad’,” he said. “Oh, by the way, how is the proposal idea going?”

Shiro smiled and bit his bottom lip. The hunt for the ring had ended, and now he just needed the money for it. All was going well.

“It’s going great,” Shiro answered. Lance sensed Shiro’s joy.

“That’s good,” Lance responded. He was about to continue his sentence when Commander Iverson entered the locker room. Shiro straightened up and he and Lance saluted him. Commander Iverson stood in front of them and scowled slightly.

“What are you two doing?” he questioned. “Didn’t I assign you extra training hours?”

“Yes,sir,” Lance answered. “Shirogane and I just finished up the two extra hours you assigned, sir.”

“Well then go train for another three hours. And no fooling around,” Iverson said. “I want my strongest Paladins and soldiers at their peak when we face Zarkon and his men.”

“Yes, sir,” Shiro and Lance said in unison.

Iverson gave them yet another scowl before leaving. When he was gone, Shiro and Lance exchanged confused glances.

“What’s his problem?” Shiro asked. Lance shrugged.

“I don’t know, but I don’t want to be smart about it and ask him,” Lance said.

He checked the time on his phone and sighed. It was already six thirty and by the time they were done it would he done it would be nine, meaning that Lance probably wouldn’t get to Keith’s place until ten.

“Goddammit,” he muttered before grabbing his gun and going back into the training room.

 

Keith and Pidge sat on their couch in silence. They had the tv on, but neglected the episodes of Rick and Morty that played one after the other. Keith rested his cheek on his hand and started to fall asleep.

“So is Lance ever going to come or what?” Pidge asked. She slurred her words as she started to fall asleep, too. Keith yawned into his palm.

“He’s probably getting off of work late tonight,” he said. “He should be here soon though.” Just as Keith finished the sentence there was a knock on the door.

“Speak of the devil,” Pidge said lazily.

Keith got up and opened the door. Lance stood in the doorway with his stuffed in the pockets of his brown hoodie. He had a tired look on his face but he gave Keith a smile.

“Hey,” Lance said. Keith smiled and pulled Lance into the apartment slowly.

“Hey yourself.’

Lance slid his hand out of his pocket and laced his fingers through Keith’s. Keith led him upstairs to his bedroom. When they got to his room, Lance took off his hoodie. He gave Keith’s spacious and bare room a quick look around. The mattress was pushed up against the wall that had photographs and magazine clippings. A phone charger and a laptop charger were plugged into an outlet next to the bed.

“You can toss it anywhere,” Keith said as he shut his bedroom door.

Lance tossed his hoodie onto the floor. He took off his shoes and proceeded to pull off his pants. Keith picked up Lance’s hoodie and pulled it on. He took off his pants and put a bit of his hair up. Lance went over to Keith’s mattress and dramatically flung himself down. Keith snorted unto the sleeve of Lance’s hoodie. Lance’s nerves went wild at the sight of his laughing boyfriend. His hoodie was slightly big on Keith, so it was about an inch and a half beneath his hips. Keith hated being called cute or adorable but that was the only thing that came to mind when Lance saw him like this.

“Hey, uh,” Lance said,” you can turn the light off. I’ll be fine.” Keith grinned. He put his thumb and forefinger on his light knob.

“You’re in luck,” Keith said as he dimmed the light. “I got in changed from a switch a while ago.”  Lance smiled.

“Sweet.”

Keith went over to the mattress. He pulled a blanket up to their waist as Lance pulled him closer. Keith ran a finger down Lance’s nose and tapped his chin. Lance hummed contently. He loved Keith’s little cuddles. They made him feel warm inside.

“How was work?” Keith asked.

Lance threw his head back and sighed a sigh that turned into a groan. He let his face fall flat into the pillow.

“Horrible. Iverson basically made Shiro and I train for five hours more than usual,” he explained.

“Why?” Keith asked with a frown.

“He said he ‘wants his strongest Paladins and soldiers at their peak when we face Zarkon and his men.”

Keith smacked his lips. He didn’t have the same amount of respect for Commander Iverson that Lance had. He had lost respect for him when Iverson refused to give Keith and his mother information on his father’s whereabouts. Despite the grudge he held, however, Keith tried his best to not let it show in front of Lance. He wanted to be considerate of Lance’s feelings.

Lance wrapped his arms around Keith’s waist and pulled him closer. Keith stroked Lance’s cheek and smiled before giving him a kiss on his chin. Keith let put a chuckle.

“Before I forget,” he said. “Did you really buy an earpiece before going to work?”  

Lance nodded so confidently that Keith laughed. Lance brought his hand up to his chest and fake scoffed

“Well, excuuuse me for wanting to talk to my amazing boyfriend while I’m at work,” he said.

“Won’t I be distracting you though?” Keith asked. Lance shook his head slowly as he pushed a loose lock of hair away from Keith’s face.

“Nah. You’re actually motivating me,” Lance said. Keith blushed and turned his back to Lance.

“You’re such a sap,” he mumbled.

Lance grinned and spooned Keith. Keith tried to pull away but eventually gave up when Lance tightened his arms across his stomach. Lance groaned and buried his face in the crook of Keith’s neck.

“Stay,” he murmured.

Keith smiled and shut his eyes. Lance’s warmth was making Keith sleepier. After hearing Lance’s breathing fall even, Keith allowed himself to gladly fall asleep.

 

At one in the morning, Keith jolted awake. He sat up on the mattress and took a deep breath. He was having a nightmare but couldn’t remember what it was about now. Keith looked around the room. He had taken off Lance’s goodie and tossed it near his closet. He turned to his right and saw Lance asleep, completely wrapped in the blanket they were sharing.

Keith pulled on the blanket. Lance grumbled and pulled back the blanket. Keith tugged on the blanket again but did not get it away from Lance.

“Lance,” Keith whispered. “I’m cold.” Lance tugged on the blanket again.

“No, it’s mine,” Lance grumbled.

Keith sighed and laid back down onto the mattress. He quickly grabbed the collar of Lance’s shirt and stuffed his cold hands down his chest. Lance gasped and snapped awake. Keith snickered as Lance pushed him away and rolled off the mattress.

“What. The. Fuck.” Lance panted. Keith smiled, completely proud of himself, and took the blanket.

“I told you that I was cold,” he said.

Lance got back onto the mattress and turned his back to Keith. Keith put the blanket on top of both of them. He gave Lance’s shoulder a shake.

“You’re not going to cuddle me now?” Keith asked.

Lance exhaled deeply, but Keith could tell that he was amused. Lance turned around and pulled Keith close to him. Keith gave Lance a kiss on his cheek.

“Thanks, babe,” he said.

“You’re a demon.”

“I know.”

 

Lance woke up at eight later that morning. He stretched his long limbs until he heard a small “pop”. He faced Keith, who was sound asleep. Lance gazed intently at Keith’s features. He looked a bit irritated when he was asleep because of his eyebrows, unlike when he takes a nap. His hair was in a messy half ponytail. Lance smiled and gave Keith a kiss on his forehead. Keith stirred slightly but remained asleep and unbothered. Lance stood up slowly, careful not to wake Keith up, and left the room.

A little while later, Pidge freshened up and went into the kitchen. Lance was sitting at the table with a bowl of cereal. There were two plates of pancakes in front of him. Pidge went up to the table and pointed to the plates. Lance, without looking up from his bowl, said,” They’re for you and Keith.”

He pushed a plate towards her. It had three pancakes stacked on each other with a piece of butter in the middle of each.

“Why didn’t you make yourself some?” Podge asked.

“I only had enough for two people and Leith told me that ‘pancakes are your shit’, so, I figured you should have them,” Lance explained.

Pidge gave Lance’s shoulder s gentle squeeze and exchanged a small nod with him before sitting down.

“Sleep well?” Pidge asked. Lance chuckled.

“Yeah. Keith shoved his freezing hands down my shirt at one in the morning. But other than that I slept well,” he said. Podge laughed as she cut her pancake into slices.

“You take his blanket?” she asked.

Lance nodded and seemed to prove a point to Pidge. Pidge smiled to herself.

“Don’t tell Keith,” she said,” but I think you guys are really cute and I think you’re great for him. You make him happy and I can tell. So...thank you for making my best friend happy.”

Lance smiled widely.

“No need to thank me,” he said.

The two friends shared minutes of silence amongst each other before Lance’s cell phone rang. Pidge looked at the caller ID. It was his mother. Lance picked up his phone and rushed into the living room.

“Hola, ama,” he answered.

Keith slowly opened his eyes and  waited for them to adjust. He looked to his right to find Lance’s spot on the mattress empty. Keith sat up. He was relieved to see that Lance’s belongings were still scattered across the floor. He got up and slipped on Lance’s hoodie before heading downstairs.

When Keith entered the kitchen he saw Lance and Pidge having a conversation that seemed rather casual. Lance smiled up at him before Keith gave him a quick peck on the lips.

“Ugh.” Pidge teased. She stood up with her plate of pancakes in hand. “Get a room.” She disappeared into her room.

Lance smiled and placed his hands firmly on Keith’s hips. Keith cupped Lance’s cheeks until they were squished a bit. His eyes drifted to the plate of food on the table.

“Is that for me?” he asked. Lance nodded. “Thank god ‘cause I’m starving.”

“Before you eat, I have some news to tell you,” Lance said. Keith looked back at Lance to meet his gaze.

“Hm?”

“So…,” Lance trailed off and cleared his throat. “My mom called a few minutes ago.”

Keith dropped his hands from Lance’s cheeks to his shoulders.

“Mhm.”

“And she wanted to remind me that our family reunion is tomorrow, which I totally forgot.” Lance muttered the last part under his breath. He fell silent and stared up at Keith. Keith raised his eyebrows and waited for Lance to continue. “But the thing is: my mom really wants me to bring you along because she wants to meet you.”

Keith stood stunned. He simply blinked slowly. Lance gave Keith a little shake by his hips.

“Babe?” Lance questioned.

“You told me before that your family reunions last two days and everyone spends the night at your mom’s house. You guys still do that, right?” Keith asked. Lance nodded. “And your mom wants me there...for that?”

“Yep.”

Keith let out a shaky exhaled and covered his face with his hands.

“Oh god, okay,” he mumbled.

Keith wasn’t good at being around big groups of people. Especially if he didn’t know them. Keith hadn’t told Lance this before, but it was obvious now, that he had been dreading meeting Lance’s family. Lance pulled Keith’s hands away from his face.

“Hey,” Lance said in a comforting tone. “What’s wrong? Do you not want to meet my family?”

Keith let put a sigh and plopped himself down on Lance’s lap. He put his head on his shoulder.

“It’s not that,” Keith began. “I do want to meet your family, and I bet your mom is amazing. It’s just that...I’m nervous.”

Lance rubbed circles on Keith’s hips. He pressed quick kisses to a spot underneath his ear.

“Don’t be nervous. Everything will be fine. Hunk will be there with us. Besides most the people there will be adults as old as us. Open minded and shit. Trust me when I say that my family’s the best in the world.”

Keith sighed and straightened up to face Lance. He held a warm smile that made Keith’s chest tighten and fill up with a heavy feeling.

“You forget that I’ll be there, too,” Lance said. Keith gave Lance a kiss on the cheek.

“Okay, okay,” he said. “I’ll go.”

Lance smiled and leaned in for a kiss, but Keith pushed him away and grabbed his plate of pancakes.

“Hey, I wanted a kiss,” Lance whined.

“Yeah but I’m hungry, so,” Keith smiled.

Lance stood up to let Keith sit in the chair. He tried giving Keith several pecke on his cheek, but Keith dodged every single one. Lance finally placed one on the top of Keith’s head before heading back upstairs. When Keith heard the door to his bedroom close, he let his head drop onto the table slowly. Was he ready for this reunion?










 

Chapter Text

Keith was born ready compared to Lance. After the little pep talk that Lance had given him, Keith was doing better than when he had first received the news. Lance, on the other hand, was a mess. He and Keith had gone to his house to pack clothes for a day and Lance had procrastinated for hours and hours. It wasn’t until it was eleven in the evening that Lance remembered what he had to do.

      “Shit, shit, shit,” he hissed as be paced around the room.

      Keith watched Lance go from his dresser to his closet. He checked the same spot every time. His quickness and his anxious checking made Keith agitated. After the fifth time Keith decided to take matters into his own hands.

     “Lance.”

Lance didn’t pay attention to him.

     “Lance,” Keith said a second time.

Lance stopped halfway to the closet. He turned to face Keith. Keith stood up from the bed with Lance’s blanket in hand. He let it go on the bed and made Lance sit down. Keith went over to the closet and gazed at the clothes. “Does it have to be formal or something?”

     Lance shook his head. Keith pulled out a pair of blue jeans and a long sleeve shirt that read “Cali. Garrison. '' Lance began to protest Keith’s choice but Keith simply put his finger to his lips. He packed the clothes into the bag they were sharing. Keith went  back to the closet and picked out a semi-formal white button up and a black pair of jeans. He threw it on top of the clothes he had picked out for himself. He went to the bed and sat down next to Lance.

      “All set,” Keith said.

      Lance flopped down onto the bed and groaned obnoxiously. Keith joined him. Lance stared up at the ceiling. His gaze was distant, like he wasn’t there. This happened when he was overthinking or upset. Keith sighed and searched through his mind. Lance was a cheerful guy that was good at comforting others. When it came down to comforting an upset Lance, that was a different story. 

      What makes Lance happy? Keith thought for a moment. Me. Memes. The color blue. Music, any kind. Dancing. Keith sat up and took Lance’s phone.

     “What are you doing?” Lance asked.

Keith scrolled through Lance’s music. He clicked on a song he knew Lance would enjoy. He stood up from the bed. Keith smiled and took Lance’s hands in his.

“Come on,” he smiled. “Dance with me, soldier.” 

Lance blushed and stood up. Keith put a hand on Lance’s shoulder and Lance put his hand on Keith’s waist before taking a hold of his free hand.

Qué importa qué dirán tu padre y tu mamá

Aquí sólo importa nuestro amor, te quiero

Amor prohibido murmuran por las calles

Lance spun Keith around, but Keith half tripped on his feet. Lance muffled his laugh with his hand before continuing the dance.

Amor prohibido nos dice todo el mundo

El dinero no importa en ti y en mi, ni en el

corazón

     They laughed when Keith stepped on Lance’s foot.

      “Ow,” Lance laughed.

      “I’m sorry. You know I have a stiff body,” Keith smiled.

      He met Lance’s blue eyes. They seemed full of the whole beautiful galaxy itself. They were squinted now because of how hard Lance was laughing. Keith gazed admiringly at Lance. He wouldn’t want to see him any other way.

      Lance regained his composure when the song ended. He climbed to his spot on the bed and stopped the music. He assumed his previous position and let out a long exhale. Keith bit the inside of his cheek before laying down next to Lance. Lance pulled Keith closer. He ran the pad of his thumb over his hin before kissing him.

     “Thank you,” Lance said. Keith smiled and rested his head on Lance’s chest.

“You’re welcome, baby.”

     

It was noon of the next day. Lance and Keith were in Lance’s bedroom getting dressed after their shower. Keith wore a black t-shirt with a red sweater over it. He had on black skinny jeans and black boots. Lance had on the pants Keith had picked out for him. He slipped on the white button up and stared at the buttons. As he began to button the shirt up he started to fumble. Keith went over to him and started to button the shirt for him. 

Keith gathered up the courage to ask,” Why are you nervous?” Lance sighed and looked Keith in his eyes.

“I...I’m worried about what my family will think,” he started. Keith made a face of worry, and once Lance saw it he immediately continued. “Not about us, babe. They’re fine with us. What I’m worried about is what they’ll think of my life. Ever since I was little all of my brothers and sisters had a ‘thing’. That’s why they have these great careers. I didn’t and I ended up dropping out of college. Everyone’s going to be ‘doctor’, ‘teacher’, ‘architect’, and I’m going to be ‘dropout’.”

Keith buttoned Lance’s last button and yanked the collar, making Lance cough.

 “Keith, wha-”

 “Listen to me Lance,” Keith said. He took Lance’s face in his hands and inhaled deeply. He wasn’t the world’s most comforting person, but he had to try. “You dropped out of college. You are a dropout.” Lance’s face turned sad and Keith immediately continued. “But you know what else? You joined the Coalition at the Garrison and became a Paladin. A fucking Paladin. You go out and risk your life to protect all of us. You’re a fearless leader and an amazing sharpshooter. That’s the best kind of Paladin there is. Sure, you may have found your ‘thing’ a little later than your siblings did, but you still found it. Your family is going to recognize you for the brave Paladin you are, not a college dropout.”

  Lance bit his lip and sighed. Keith stroked his cheek and ruffled his hair.

“You’re going to be fine, baby,” he assured. “Trust me. You trust me, right?” 

Keith squeezed Lance’s cheeks and kissed the tip of his nose. Lance laughed and hugged Keith close.

“I do,” he said.

Keith smiled and wrapped his arms around Lance’s neck. He leaned in closer to give him a kiss. When they pulled away, Lance grabbed his car keys and Keith took the bag with their belongings. They made their way to the car and started the drive to Lance’s parents’ house.

The ride was roughly two hours. They passed Keith’s apartment building and the Garrison. When they passed the Garrison. Their surroundings diminished. The buildings became smaller and eventually disappeared. They were on the highway for all of ten minutes before the surroundings became full of green trees; then it became a gray sort of wasteland with train tracks. The scenery switched between the gray wasteland to the green woodlands. 

During the ride Keith gave Lance frequent glances. He concentrated on the road ahead of them. He had told Keith that he was better, or more like he seemed like he was better. He really wasn’t but he didn’t want to worry Keith. Truth be told, Lance wasn’t sure what was making him nervous. He missed his family like crazy and he couldn’t wait to see them all again. Yet there was something that nagged at him. Every time he had gone to a reunion he had gone alone. Now he was bringing Keith along. Not that it was a bad thing; in fact it was great. So then why was he so nervous? Lance was snapped out of his thoughts by Keith calling his name. Lance turned to him.

“Yeah?” he asked. Keith held a worried look on his face before he smiled softly. Keith stroked Lance’s cheek.

“I asked if there’s something I need to know before we get there,” he explained.

Lance relaxed under Keith’s touch. Yeah, I love you, Lance thought. He tensed up a bit. Right. This is why he was nervous. Lance had come to terms that he was completely head over heels in love with Keith a while ago. Lance was unsure of whether or not Keith felt the same. He was sure that Keith loved him, but he still had this habitual doubt buried down inside that constantly nagged at him.

“Lance,” Keith said again. Lance turned to meet his violet eyes. When they came to a red light Keith took Lance by his chin and made him face him. He leaned over and gave Lance a kiss.

“Remember what you told me yesterday? That everything would be fine and you’d be with me?” Keith asked. Lance nodded. “Well now I’m going to say the same to you.” Keith leaned in closer to Lance’s ear.

“Everything will be fine,” he said loudly. “I’ll be there with you.” Lance laughed and pushed Keith away. Keith chuckled when he fell back into his seat. Lance took his boyfriend’s hand in his and smiled brightly.

“Thank you,” he said as he kissed the back of Keith’s hand. Lance relaxed and sighed contently. “So...what you need to know….” He searched through his mind.

“Carla is the oldest,” Lance started. “She usually can’t make it to reunions because of work. Diego and Lupita are next in line, both of them are doctors. Diego’s married and has two kids. Carla and Lupita are single, last I remember. Clay’s a mechanic and engaged. He’s basically an older me. Veronica’s engaged and has a little girl and a little boy. She’s still got this ‘mysterious and intimidating’ attitude going on after all these years, but I guess it can help with her business. Hunk- you already know. He’s a computer specialist. Nd after him, there’s me.”

Keith raised his eyebrows and let out a ‘hmph’. Lance had told him that his childhood home was a small beach house. Keith pondered for the rest of he car ride how all of these people could fit in such a tiny place. How could they fit now, especially with another generation joining them? Keith took a deep breath and decided not to dwell on it too long.

 

The beach house was average sized, a little bigger than Lance’s house, and shaped like a shoe box. Its stucco was tan colored like the grainy sand and the roof, held up by stilts on the porch, was the color of the clouds. Two wide windows were in the front, granting a brief look into the living room. The front yard was small, and the grass was fresh and green. Two out of the seven cars claimed a spot in that yard. The rest were carefully organized into the driveway, not making use of the garage attached to the house.

Lance parked carefully in front the house’s mailbox. Keith turned his attention to the windows. Two children, one boy and one girl, were staring at the car. When Keith and Lance got out of the car the two children ran away from the window. The front door flew open and the little girl ran out first. She looked to be about five years old, wearing pink overalls and a white shirt with brown sandals. She had thick brown hair in a ponytail and her skin was a bit darker than Lance’s. Lance and Keith weren’t even halfway near the door when the little girl threw herself at Lance.

“Tio!” she cries happily. A bright smile came across Lance as he picked her up. He hugged her tightly until their cheeks squished together, pulling a fit of giggles from her.

“Hi, Ruby!” Lance said gleefully. Ruby clung tightly to Lance’s neck as the little boy that was with her clung to Lance’s waist.

“Hi,tio!” the boy exclaimed. Lance ruffled the boy’s hair. It was like a storm had passed through the boy’s hair. He wore a blue t-shirt with khaki shorts and light up Sketchers. His skin and hair was exactly like Ruby’s. They looked to be the same age and they looked almost like twins, so Keith figured that they must be Veronica’s kids. The little boy pulled away from Lance’s wasit and pointed at Keith.

“Who’s he?” he asked. Keith’s voice caught in the back of his throat and he gave Lance a nervous look. Lance grinned at the boy.

“That’s Keith, Hector,” Lance answered. “He’s my boyfriend.” Hector gazed up at Keith. They held strong eye contact before Hector stuck out his hand and smiled.

“I’m Hector!” he declared happily. Keith smiled shyly. He leaned down a bit to shake Hector’s hand.

“Hey Hector,” Keith said. Lance smiled at Keith before turning to Ruby.

“Where are abuela and the others?” he asked.

“The garage,” Ruby answered.

“Let’s get going then. Your mom is probably wondering where you guys are,” Lance said. The group made their way up the driveway to the front door. Lance tried holding Keith’s hand, but when he reached out Hector took Lance’s hand instead.

“Hey! I was trying to hold keith’s hand,” Lance chuckled. Hector immediately took a hold of Keith’s hand and held it. Keith tried his best to hold back the smile growing on his face. He had never been good with kids, but these two were starting to grow on him. And he couldn’t help but notice how Lance was extremely good with them. They were so attached to Lance from the minute they arrived. And honestly, who wouldn’t be?

“Okay,” Lance said as he set Ruby down on her feet and let go of Hector’s hand. “Go to abuela and tell her we’ll be there in a sec.” Ruby and Hector replied with a unified nod and scrambled into the house. Lance turned to Keith and gave him a warm smile. Keith felt the last of his nerves come to an ease: He returned the smile.

“You okay?” Lance asked. Keith nodded. Lance took his hand and held it tightly as they went inside the house.

The walls were a pearlescent white and the floor was made of sand colored marble. To the right of the front entrance was the living room. It was the only place in the house that had carpeting, which was a bit stiff and a dark green. There were three couches and a television set. To the left of the front door there was an old door that was painted brown. It was closed but a dim light shined through the bottom. As Lance led Keith to the kitchen they walked by a wide hallway with four doors. The kitchen had a round table to the far left, right in front of a sliding glass door. To the right was a long counter. Lance led Keith to a maroon door at the end of the kitchen. Before he opened the door, he turned to Keith.

“I think all of my nieces and nephews are here, so prepare yourself,” Lance said. Keith nodded and gave Lance’s hand a gentle squeeze.

“I’ll be fine, Lance,” he said. Lance mentally hoped so and opened the door.

Music played through a small stereo on a table near the door. There were three plastic tables put together, people sitting at each one. They talked amongst themselves. Lance stepped into the garage first, followed by Keith. Hunk, who was sitting at the first table, stood up.

“Hey, you made it,” he said happily as he pulled Lance into a big hug. Lance grinned brightly and returned his brother’s hug. When they pulled apart, Hunk gave Keith a small wave. Keith gave him a smile and awkwardly waved back. Hunk nodded subtly as if he understood that Keith was nothing but a mound of anxiety. Although he had told Lance he was okay, the nervousness that had gone away came flooding back in at the sight of all these kind strangers.

A woman with dark brown hair stood up from the third table. She was about the same height as Keith and her hair was to her shoulder blades. She wore a sky blue sweater and black slacks. Lance rushed to her and he pulled her into a warm hug. The woman was small in Lance’s arms. She smiled proudly and gleefully.

“Hola, mijo,”  she cooed quietly.

“Hola, ma,” Lance said. They hugged for almost a minute. How long had it been since they last saw each other?, Keith thought. When Lance and his mother pulled apart, Lance turned to Keith and subtly waved him over. Keith shuffled over to them. He felt Lance’s mother’s eyes burning into him. When he was standing next to Lance, Lance took his hand and smiled.

“Ma,” Lance said,”this is my boyfriend, Keith.” Keith gave Lance’s mother a shy smile.

“Hi,” he said shyly. Lance’s mother held a blank expression for all of five seconds before giving Keith a smile. This made Keith’s heart drop to the deepest pit of his stomach. Her smile...it was genuine, right? It had to be. Or was it forced? No, Keith thought, I’m overthinking it.

“Hi, Keith,” Lance’s mother said kindly. She held out her hand for Keith to shake. Keith shook her hand weakly. “You can call me Sara.” Keith smiled shyly once again and nodded. Sara kept her kind smile and left them to go inside the house. Keith immediately gripped Lance’s hands.

“I think your mom hates me,” Keith whispered so only Lance could hear. Lance made a confused face.

“What? Why do say that?” he asked.

“I feel it,” Keith simply said. Lance let go of Keith’s hand and snaked his arm around Keith’s waist. Keith crossed his arms.

“You’re overthinking it, babe,” Lance assured. “I’m sure my mom likes you. Why wouldn’t she?” Keith thought for a moment, yet he couldn’t think of a reason. He bit his lip and shrugged. Lance kissed the top of his head. “You’ll be fine, Keith, I promise.”

Someone tapped on both of Lance’s shoulders. He turned around to see a woman smiling at him. She had curled, long hair and hoop earrings. She wore a brown long sleeve shirt that hung off her shoulder and black leggings. She threw her arms around Lance and Lance hugged her tightly, picking her up from the floor.

“Hi, you big goof!” she giggled. Lance put her down. She faced Keith.

“You must be Keith,” she said. “I’m Veronica. Nice to meet you.” Before Keith could answer, Hector ran up to him.

“Come play with us, Keef!” he exclaimed as he took Keith by his sleeve. He pulled Keith away to the backyard. Lance smiled at them. Veronica let a smirk curl on the corner of her lips.

“I like him. He seems nice,” she said.

“Yeah he’s...he’s great,” Lance said almost to himself. Veronica tugged on his sleeve. Lance put his arm around her shoulders. She leaned in and hugged him. They stood in an embrace for a long moment. Lance rested his cheek on the top of Veronica’s head.

“Todo bien?” Lance asked quietly.

“Con mis hijos, si. Pero con el, no,” Veronica answered. Some tears pooled into her eyes but she buried her face in Lance’s chest to wipe them away. Veronica pulled away and sniffled. Lance put his hands on her shoulders.

“You’re not going to worry about that asshole right now, let alone cry about him. Okay?” Veronica nodded and took a deep breath. She smiled the best she could.

“Don’t worry,” Lance reassured. He smiled. “Lancey Lance is here for you.” 

Veronica laughed and her smile because more genuine. Lance put his arm around her shoulder and they went to talk to the rest of their brothers and sisters.

 

Keith was led by Hector to a small circle of children in the backyard. They were sitting in the grass. Ruby was playing dolls with a girl that looked older than her. Next to them was a boy that was laying in the grass staring up at the sky. Hector plopped down next to the boy and laid down. Keith sat down on a spot next to the circle of children. The oldest girl gasped and pointed at Keith.

“You’re Tio Lance’s boyfriend!” she stated happily. Ruby smiled. She was missing a front tooth.

“His name is Keef!” Keith grinned and chuckled. [He would have corrected Hector and Ruby, but he didn’t have the heart to do so. They were too cute for him to handle. The oldest girl stood up. She had on a black blouse and blue capris. She was barefoot and her hair was in a tight bun. She bent down and picked up a small makeup bag.

“My name is Brandy,” she said. Brandy plopped down in front of Keith. “Can I paint your nails, Keith?” Keith grinned.

“Sure,” he said. Brandy smiled, excited. She opened up her makeup bag. There were nail polish bottles strewn inside. They were plastic and the polish inside looked like the kind they sold in the girls’ section at Toys R Us. Hector sat up.

“Why are you painting everyone’s nails, Brandy?” he asked. Carlos, Brandy’s little brother, sat up, too.

“Yeah!” Carlos added. “Boys don’t like nail polish. Keef’ just being nice.” Brandy shrugged.

“Tio Lance likes it when I paint his nails,” she said. She pointed to herself. “That’s why I’M his favorite.”

“Liar! I’m his favorite!” Hector chimed. Brandy smiled smugly and stuck her tongue out at the two boys.

“No, I’m his favorite!” Carlos exclaimed. Ruby stood up. She was holding a blonde Barbie by the hair.

“No, I am!” she chimed. “He said I’m his favorite dance partner!” Keith laughed, making Rubi smiled broadly and proudly.

“I think he loves you all very much,” Keith said. “Although, to be fair, Ruby might really be his favorite.” Ruby jumped happily and Brandy rolled her eyes and went back to looking through her makeup bag. She took Keith’s right hand and placed it on his knee.

“I want to be a nail artist when I grow up,” Brandy said. “So my mom, my dad, Tio Clay, and Tio Lance let me practice on them.” She started intensely at Keith’s nails before rummaging through the bag to pull out sparkly red nail polish. She started painting Keith’s nails carefully.

“Tio Lance likes it when I paint his nails,” Brandy continued. “His boss gets mad at him but tio doesn’t care. He likes it when I paint them sparkly blue. It’s his favorite.” Keith noticed how the more Brandy talked about Lance the bigger her smile grew. Her smile infected Keith.

“Yeah, your uncle really likes blue,” he said. Brandy began painting his left hand.

“He does. He must like you just as much as he likes blue,” she said. Keith smiled to himself and chuckled softly as his face grew as red as the nail polish.

 

Lance walked into the kitchen and shut the garage door behind him. Sara was leaning against the counter. She was watching the timer on the oven. Lance went up to the counter and stood next to her. They shared a moment of silence.

“What do you think of Keith, ma?” Lance finally asked. Sara slightly tilted her head to the side.

“I like him. He seems like a nice boy. Just a bit shy, though,” she said. “But I like him.”  Lance sighed in relief.

“Okay good because he thought you didn’t like him,” he said. Sara made a confused face.

“Why does he think that?” Lance shrugged. Sara shook her head and chuckled. “No, mijo. I like him, I do.” Sara looked up at her son. “Do you want me to talk to him?”

“No no no no no, don’t,” Lance said quickly. “He didn’t want you to know.” Sara nodded.

“Fair enough.”

Sara gazed up at her son. She remembered the times when she had to look down at Lance rather than look up. He had grown so much since then just like his brothers and his sisters. Sara reached over to fix Lance’s collar. He was still a bit reckless yet neat. That bit of him never changed.

“How is work?” Sara asked. Lance furrowed his brow and took an awkward breath.

“It’s good...good,” he said. Sara’s calm demeanor disappeared and her son’s tone filled her with worry. Lance cleared his throat, aware if Sara’s attitude change. He mentally cursed himself for not being able to be discreet.

“There’s a mission soon, isn’t there?” Sara asked. Lance shook his head. 

“Don’t worry about it, ma. It’ll be fine.” Sara made Lance face her. She tapped the side of his head.

“You can’t lie to me, Lance,” she said. “I know you better than anybody else.” Lance swallowed a lump in his throat. There’s so much that he wanted to tell his mother, but that would only worry her more. Making anyone worry about him was the last thing Lance wanted to do.

“Ma….” Lance cleared his throat as he composed himself. “Really, it’s okay. Besides we shouldn’t be talking about this here, not at a reunion.” 

Sara sighed and nodded. She wanted to continue asking Lance. She wanted to get an answer out of him, but he was right. This wasn’t the time or place to be worrying. Sara went to check on the food in the oven and Lance went over to the window above the sink. It had a perfect view of the backyard, which is where Keith was.

Keith sat in the grass. Brandy sat next to him. They were watching some sort of skit that Ruby, Hector, and Carlos were performing. Lance smiled. A dreamy look came across his face. Sara saw it and grinned.

“You rarely have that look on your face,” she said. “You must really like him.”

“I do. I….” Lance faltered before finishing his sentence. “I love him.” 

Sara raised her eyebrows. She was taken aback.

“Does he know?” she asked. Lance shook his head. Sara went over to the window and rubbed Lance’s back. “I’m sure he loves you, too.” 

Lance said nothing, but in his mind he thought, I hope so. The timer for the oven went off. Sara pulled out a glass baking dish with tin foil covering it.

“Tell Hunk to come help me,” she said. Lance muttered an okay. He made his way to the garage door. He stopped to pick at the dish but Sara smacked his hand away. Lance smiled and rushed out the door.

 

“Doo doo doo doooo!” Hector chanted through his makeshift megaphone, which was a rolled up piece of paper. Carlos bowed and pointed at Ruby.

“Here comes the princess!” he announced. Ruby walked over to them. She gasped.

“I left my crown in my sack!” she exclaimed. Ruby went over to Keith and tugged on his sleeve. “Come with me, Keef!” I need to get my crown from my sack!” 

Keith stood up and let Ruby lead him to the sliding glass door. Keith opened it and let Ruby go inside Once they were in the kitchen they saw Veronica leaning forward against the counter. She was staring intensely at her phone as she rapidly typed out a long message. Ruby went over to the counter. 

“Hi mommy!” she exclaimed. Veronica quickly shit off her phone and set it down on the countertop.

“Hi baby,” Veronica said happily. She picked Ruby up and kissed her cheek. “Abuela was looking for you,” Veronica said. “Why don’t you go to the garage and talk to her?” 

Ruby nodded and Veronica set her down onto her feet. Ruby rushed to the garage door and disappeared through it. Keith was left standing alone in front of the sliding door. Veronica turned to him. Her eyes shot down to his nails and she grinned.

“Brandy painted them, huh?” Veronica asked. Keith glanced at his now sparkly red nails and felt a grin came over his face.

“Yeah. She’s actually really precise for a nine year old,” he said. Veronica nodded.

“She’s going to be well off when she’s older.”

Veronica waved Keith over to the counter, and Keith joined her. She straightened up and put her phone in her back pocket. Keith noticed that Veronica’s eyes were puffy and the tip of her nose was red. Veronica cleared her throat, aware that Keith was starting to notice.

“Please don’t tell Lance. I don’t want him to worry,” Veronica said in a hushed voice. Keith nodded and patted her shoulder. Veronica sniffled and smiled softly.

“Have you met everyone yet?” she asked.

“No, just you and your mom. And the kids,” Keith answered. Veronica nudged his elbow playfully. Her mannerisms were almost a reflection of her brother’s. There was no doubting they were related. 

“There’s no need to be nervous. We’re all nice. I swear,” Veronica assured. “And we all think that you’re a good person. You’re getting along with the kids, which is actually really hard, and Lance will not shut up about how great you are. To be honest you’re my favorite out of all of the guys and girls Lance has had in his life.”

Keith smiled to himself. Lance had had his fair share of relationships and although he wasn’t too much of a socialite as he was now, Keith did as well. They weren’t much and only two of them had been what people considered to be “long term” relationships. Still this current relationship with Lance was something else. Keith didn’t know what Lance had done to ease his way into his life, but he knew that Lance had changed him for the better. Keith loved Lance’s little quirks, the way he loved to dance, his annoying habit of stealing all of the blankets, the way his eyes shone like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water. Keith loved waiting for Lance to get home from work no matter how late it was. He loved pulling him close once he got into bed and hearing about his day, which got harder and harder as time went on. But at the end of the night they’d kiss and in the morning, Keith would wake up in Lance’s embrace.

Keith’s eyes widened. He really couldn’t hold it back any longer. He was fortune’s fool. He was absolutely smitten. His heart was in Lance’s hands. He was in love with him. Keith bit the inside of his cheek. Was it too early to say it? Did Lance love him? Keith sighed in confusion.

“Can I tell you a secret?” he asked. Veronica faced him and nodded.

“I’m in love with Lance,” Keith said. Veronica smiled gleefully. She felt bubbly with excitement. However in the back of her mind she knew that if it was a secret  then it meant that Keith hadn’t told Lance yet.

“You haven’t told him?” Veronica asked, already aware of the answer.

“Well...no. I’ve been waiting to do it,” Keith explained. Veronica coiled her arm around Keith’s shoulder and gave him a little shake.

“Your secret’s safe with me,” she said. Just then an idea crept through her brain. She smirked. “ Keith, would you be willing to have a sixty second Spanish lesson?” Keith raised his eyebrows in surprise, caught off guard by the question, and chuckled awkwardly.

“Umm….”

“Good!” Veronica slapped Keith’s back. He stumbled forward. “ Now repeat after me: bebe.” Keith bit the inside of his cheek.

“B-bebe,” he stuttered.

“Say it slowly, Be...be,” Veronica instructed.

“Be...be.”

“Good. Now say it quickly. Bebe.”

“Bebe,” Keith said. Veronica smirked. She was completely satisfied with what she had just accomplished. Lance is going to thank me later, she thought.

“Congratulations. You know how to say baby in Spanish,” Veronica declared. “ Lance has a thing for being called that. It’ll come in handy, trust me.” Both Keith and Veronica exchanged a sly smirk. At that moment Keith became aware of how calm he was compared to the first time he’d talked to Veronica. She and Lance had been right all along. There really was no reason for him to be nervous.

The sound of a door opening echoed from the hallway. There was the shuffle of footsteps before Hunk walked into the kitchen. He smiled when he saw Keith.

“Keith! I’ve been looking for you, I want to show you something. Come on,” Hunk said. He disappeared down the hallway again. Keith chuckled and followed Hunk to the hallway. Veronica smiled. It slowly faded away as she went back to her phone.

Hunk stood at the very end of the hallway in front of a door to the right of him. He smiled and wrapped his hand around the knob. He turned to Keith.

“You ready?” Hunk asked. Keith chuckled and nodded. Hunk opened the door. Keith walked into the door. Keith walked into the doorway. It was a kid’s bedroom, maybe even a teenager’s. He stepped in to take a closer look. Keith looked up to the ceiling to see glow in the dark stars.

Oh yeah. This was definitely Lance’s room. The bed had blue sheets and pillow covers. There was a box of toys in the corner and by the looks of it, it was one of the only things that hadn’t been cleaned out of the room.

“You should have seen it in its prime,” Hunk said. He was standing behind Keith. “He had little planet stickers and solar systems up.” Keith laughed. He could perfectly picture a younger Lance laying on his bed, listening to music and gazing at the space on his bedroom walls.

“I would give  anything to see that, Keith said with a smile. 

 

Lance walked into the kitchen. Veronica was scrolling through her phone. She held a blank expression on her face.

“Vero,” Lance said. Veronica looked up from her phone and flashed Lance a smile. “Have you seen Keith?”

“Hunk took him to see your room,” Veronica said. Lance didn’t answer. He simply darted down the hallway. He didn’t want Keith seeing his childhood pictures, let alone his room. Lance got to the end of the hallway. He stood in the doorway of the room. Keith was sitting on his old bed. He looked up at Lance, who started blinking rapidly when they made eye contact. Keith laughed.

“Woah there,” he said. Keith stood up and started walking towards Lance. “Nice stars, by the way.” Lance pouted.

“Don’t make fun of me,” he said. “You know I’m afraid of the dark.” Keith pecked Lance’s nose.

“I’m not making fun of you,” he said in a gentle voice. He took Lance’s hands and pulled him in. “Now come in and show me your toy box.” Lance grinned, a blush creeping across his face.

“Okay.”

A tub of toy soldiers,a paddle ball, and a nerf gun later, Keith and Lance sat criss-cross on the floor. Keith dug through the tub of green plastic soldiers. There was something red that was at the bottom of the tub. When he got it, he smiled. It was a Superman action figure. Keith took it out of the tub and showed it to Lance, making him grin. 

“I’m keeping this,” Keith said. Lance snickered.

“Why?’ Keith shrugged.

“Never had one as a kid.”

Lance slid his arm around Keith’s stomach and pulled him closer. He rested his chin on Keith’s shoulder.

“So you’re going to live vicariously through my childhood toys?” Lance asked. Keith nodded.

“Yep.”

Lance buried his face in the crook of Keith’s neck. He inhaled his familiar scent. He looked up at Keith who was already facing him. Keith reached for the nerf gun. He pointed it at Lance’s heart. 

“Pew pew,” he said quietly. Lance chuckled. A heavy feeling filled his chest. Keith leaned in and placed a kiss on Lance’s lips. Lance cupped Keith’s cheek and pulled him into a deeper kiss. They fell onto the floor. Keith tangled his fingers in Lance’s hair. He put his hand on Lance’s chest and switched their positions. When Keith was on top of Lance, he pecked Lance’s lips and stood up. Lance sat up quickly.

“Keith, wha-”

“We should rejoin the group, don’t you think? We wouldn’t want them to think we’re having a boning sesh in your room,” Keith said with a teasing smile on his lips. Lance bit his bottom lip.

“All right.” Keith chuckled and helped Lance off of the floor.

“”Bebe,” Keith whispered. Lance blushed an insane red and the hairs on the back of his neck rose up.

“Where did- what- uh-,” Lance stammered. Keith smirked.

“Hush,” he said. “Let’s go.” He made his way into the hallway. The heavy feeling in Lance’s chest grew heavier and he started having monstrous butterflies. He let out a long, dreamy sigh before leaving the room.

 

Everything went perfectly. Keith met the rest of Lance’s siblings and his father. They were all extremely kind, and they tried their best to make things as comfortable as possible for Keith. (Keith noted that humor was a big thing in the Mcclain family and most of it was because of  Lance). Lance’s brothers often teased Lance because of how young he was, and his sisters talked amongst themselves. At one point after dinner Brandy sat with Keith and Veronica and Alison, her mother. She painted Alison’s nails as the adults talked. Everything was great except for one thing. Keith was still nervous about Sara.

After dinner, she had gone into the kitchen. Keith had been trying to think of a way to talk to her. He had felt her watching him and Lance when they were together. Keith wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad thing.

Everyone was speaking amongst themselves or playing cards. Keith, overwhelmed with his thoughts, decided to go inside. He stood up and discreetly made his way into the kitchen.

Sara washed the dishes. She had a small pile on the sink and one on the counter next to the stove. Keith took a deep breath and readied himself before going to the counter next to the sink.

“Need some help?” he asked. Sara smiled and nodded.

“Yes, actually,” she said. Her voice was kind and welcoming, which relaxed Keith. “Could you dry them?” Keith nodded. He picked up a towel from the counter and started drying the dishes. There was silence except for the chatter and music coming from the garage. Keith cleared his throat. Sara smiled kindly. 

“Lance told me a lot about you,” she said. Keith faltered a bit.

“He did?” Keith asked. Sara nodded.

“You don’t have to be so nervous,” she said. “And I don’t hate you.’

“Wow. I guess he did tell you a lot,” Keith joked. Sara chuckled. She took the second pile of dishes and carefully placed them in the sink. She began rinsing them. 

“I’ve never heard him talk about someone as much as he talks about you, Keith,” Sara said. Keith felt himself blushing. He looked down at the plate in his hands to try to hide his face. Sara caught him and pinched his cheek.

“It’s quite adorable,” Sara said. Keith smiled shyly.He opened a cabinet and placed the plates in their correct spots. Sara shut off the faucets. She stared into the soapy water.

“Thank you,” Sara said quietly, “ for making my son happy.” Keith’s chest felt heavy. Sara’s words made his heart beat quickly and he found himself at a loss for words. Sara looked at him and smiled. She looked back at the water, her face dropping slightly. 

“I almost lost Lance,” she said. Keith’s heart collapsed. What did she mean by that?

“H-how?” Keith asked. Sara kept her eyes fixed on the water in the sink.

“When I was pregnant,” she said. “He had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck during the last few weeks. The doctors told me he was at high risk of death if they didn’t perform a c-section in the next few hours. He was born a month early.”

Keith was too shocked for words. Sara took his silence as a sign to continue.

“Those were the longest hours of my life. Not knowing whether or not my son would be born alive and well was petrifying. When I finally held him in my arms...I cried. He was looking up at me with these innocent blue eyes and I swore to myself that I’d do anything and everything to protect my children. When Lance told me he was a Paladin I was proud, of course, but I was scared of losing him. I still am. Lance, he’s...he’s my baby.”

Sara had tears streaming down her face. She sniffled and wiped them. Keith went over to her and hugged her. All of his worries and past thoughts about Sara had gone away. Right now Keith’s priority was to comfort Sara. She was too kind and caring to be crying. Sara sniffled and cleared her throat. 

“I’m sorry, Keith,” she said. “I just get emotional very quickly these days.” Keith smiled sympathetically. 

“It’s okay,” he said. Sara pulled away and ruffled Keith’s hair. 

“You’re good for Lance,” she said softly with a smile.

“Thank you for accepting me,” Keith said. Sara gave his shoulders a soft squeeze. The door to the garage opened. Lance walked in and made a confused face.

“What’s going on?” he asked. Keith turned to him. He stopped himself from completely throwing himself at Lance and crying. 

“Oh. Nothing, mijo. Just small talk,” Sara said. She went up to Lance and gave him a pat on the back. “But now that you’re here you can wash the dishes.”

“Maaaa,” Lance whined. Keith hid smile by covering his mouth with his hand. Sara chuckled and pulled Lance’s ear gently.

“I’m just kidding. You two come join the group when you’re ready,” she said. Sara gave Keith a smile and left into the garage, closing the door behind her. Lance approached Keith.

“What was all that about?” he asked. Keith smiled and looked deeply into Lance’s eyes. He swore he could see stars in them. 

“Nothing. We’re fine,” Keith said. Lance smiled.

“Good.”

Outside in the garage a new song began to play through the speakers, Lance gasped.

“Babe, oh my god. Dance with me,” he said. He pulled Keith close to him. Keith chuckled and gave Lance a loving gaze.

“Your mom said to go back,” he said.

“When we’re ready, and we’ll be ready when the song is over!” Lance said with a smile. Keith gave in and wrapped his arms around Lance.

“Okay, Lance.”

I could lose my heart tonight

If you don’t turn and walk away

They started dancing slowly, both of them gazing into each other’s eyes.

Cause I could take you in my arms

And never let go

I could fall in love

With you

“You know this whole song don’t you?” Keith asked.

“Yep,” Lance smiled. 

“Who else have you danced with to this song?” Keith asked. Lance hummed and thought for a second.

“Nobody. Just you.” Keith’s eyes grew wide. His heart jumped up to his throat.

But if I take that chance right now

Tomorrow will you want me still?

“Don’t lie, Lance.”

“I’m not,” Lance chuckled. “It’s true. You’re the first.” Keith felt his heart beat fast and his chest became heavy. Lance pulled him closer and held him tightly. They moved slowly, lost in each other, Lance took a deep breath to prepare for what he was about to do. He leaned in to Keith’s ear and whispered the bridge of the song.

Siempre estoy pensando en ti

Besando mis labios, acariciando mi piel

Imaginando que me amas

Como yo podia amar a ti

Keith broke away from Lance and stared at him with wide eyes. Did Lance just….

So I should keep this to myself

And never let you go

I could fall in love

With you

“Keith?” Lance questioned. He looked hurt. Keith grabbed Lance’s face in his hands and kissed his open lips. Lance held him close and returned the kiss. The garage door opened.

“Lance, Ma as-”, Veronica started to say. Keith and Lance broke away quickly. Veronica opened her mouth and closed it slowly. There was a hint of a smile on her lips.
“I’ll just come back later,” Veronica said, stepping back into the garage and closing the door.

“Guess we should head back,” Lance said. Keith nodded. He took Lance’s hand and held it tightly. As they went into the garage, Keith could not get the moment of his head. He hoped he wasn’t overthinking this because he swore that Lance had just indirectly said that he loved him.







     

Chapter Text

It was almost midnight. The moon was high in the sky,the music had ceased, and everyone was inside the house now. They were gathered around the small table in the kitchen, except for Clay and Hunk. They were sound asleep on the couch in the living room. Veronica held Hector in her arms as he slept. Everyone was bidding each other goodnight before they left for bed. Lance, after kissing his mother’s cheek goodnight, took Keith’s hand. Sara hugged Keith tightly before heading to bed herself.
Lance lead Keith back to the living room. The brown door that was to the left of the front door still had a light peeking from underneath it. Lance opened the door quickly so it wouldn’t creak so much. A flight of wooden stairs leading to a small basement was now in front of them. Keith stepped down first, and Lance followed after shutting the door behind him.
When they reached the bottom of the steps there was no more light except for the one illuminating the staircase. Keith could feel the hardness of the concrete floor below his feet. His nose wasn’t greeted with the usual smell of a humid basement. Instead, he smelled something almost as sweet as candy. Keith turned to Lance.
“Is there a light?” Keith asked. Lance shook his head.
“Not ‘til we get to the room,” Lance responded. He knew that Keith was asking for him. He gave Keith a reassuring smile as he held his hand. Keith nodded in understanding as Lance led him to a small room that took up most of the basement.
The room had no door but rather a curtain. There was a small night light plugged in in the corner of the room. Lance flipped a switch that was on the wall left of him and Keith. A single light bulb above a bed in the left corner lit up. The room had only the bed, the night light, and Lance and Keith’s bag. Lance picked up the bag and the pair got ready for bed.
Lance turned off the light. He crawled into the bed next to Keith, who was on his phone, scrolling through his Instagram. Lance rested his forehead on Keith’s shoulder. Keith did not look away from his phone. This made Lance pout. He nudged forward with his forehead. Keith gave him a quick glance before looking back at his phone. Lance kept nudging at Keith’s shoulder, craving attention.
“Keep nudging me, we’re gonna have a problem,” Keith joked. Lance stopped in place. He quickly pushed Keith hard enough to knock him off of the bed, but Keith was quicker. He dropped his phone on the floor and clenched onto the edge of the mattress. Keith turned around to see that Lance had his back turned to him. Keith wrapped himself around Lance and squeezed tightly until Lance groaned.
“Got you,” Keith grinned, earning himself a chuckle from Lance. Keith climbed off him and went back to his spot. Lance turned around to face him again.
“So,” Lance started, “how do you like my family?”
“They’re great,” Keith responded softly with a smile. Lance stroked Keith’s cheek with one hand and draped the other over his waist. A sense of relief washed over him. After he had indirectly told Keith that he loved him, Lance had been on edge. He thought that Keith wouldn’t understand what he had said, yet his reaction said otherwise. What if he had understood? What if he didn’t reciprocate? The thought was about to spiral when another thought popped into Lance’s mind.
“What were you and my mom talking about?” Lance asked abruptly. Keith, who was falling asleep from Lance’s caressing, shook his head.
“Nothing,” he responded. “Just some friendly banter.” Lance squinted his eyes suspiciously. He shook Keith back and forth playfully. Keith started to giggle.
“Tell meeee,” Lance pleaded.
“Babe, don’t worry about it!” Keith laughed. “And if you don’t stop I’m going to tell her and you’re going to sleep alone.” Lance crossed his arms and scoffed.
“Go and tell. I’m not scared of her,” he proclaimed. Keith raised his eyebrows, and stared at Lance for all of two seconds before sitting up quickly. Lance wrapped his arms around Keith’s stomach just as fast. He brought him back to the bed. Keith bounced as Lance brought him down. He started laughing into the pillow to muffle the noise.
Lance pulled Keith against his chest and guided him in turning around. Keith put his hand over his mouth to stifle the leftover laughter. Lance pulled Keith’s hand away and held it.
“I think we’re making too much noise,” Keith whispered.
“Mm. Shut me up, then,” Lance said quietly with a grin. Keith smirked and rolled his eyes. He made Lance lay on his back as he stayed on top of him.
“Am I heavy?” Keith asked. Lance shook his head. Keith rubbed circles on Lance’s chin with his thumb. Even with only the smaller flicker of the night light, Keith could still see the intense shades of blue in Lance’s eyes. They a;ways seemed to shine when Keith looked into them.
Keith leaned in and gave Lance short kisses. Lance was always ready for the next, driven by inexplicable greed he felt. Keith slowed down his pace. Lance had his hand on Keith’s back and in his hair. They were breathing audibly and simply looking at each other when Keith kissed the center of his forehead three times.
“Mine, mine, mine,” Keith whispered quietly. Lance met his gaze his heartbeat picked up and his breathing faltered. He felt a warmth within him that spread through his whole body. Lance was all his, without question. He would give up anything and everything for him and he wasn’t afraid of the repercussions.
“Truly and hopelessly,” Lance whispered. Keith gave him a deep kiss.
“Me too,” he answered quietly.

ONE WEEK LATER
Keith walked down the sidewalk in an obvious rush. He was texting rapidly on his phone. Luckily there were not many people on the sidewalk. Keith had no time to be running into people or to show manners. He dialed up Pidge as fast as he could. It rang once before she answered.
“Yo,” she greeted. Keith wasted no time in talking.
“Pidge, I really, really, need your help. Lance’s birthday is today and I haven’t done anything to prepare. I don’t even know what to get him!”
Pidge did not respond for several seconds. By the time she responded, Keith was in the car. He put his seat belt on and set the phone on speaker.
“You guys have been dating for nearly a year now. Surely you must know some of his interests,” Pidge said. Keith threw his head back against the car seat. He was doomed. He never had to buy gifts for anyone except Pidge and his mother. Why was this so unreasonably hard?
“Your boyfriend loves music, Keith,” Pidge suddenly said. “I hope that helps.”
Keith’s eyes lit up. He uttered a quick thank you to Pidge before hanging up. He started the car and started to make his way to the city, an idea coming together in his head.

When Lance stepped into the house, he was exposed to a dark living room illuminated by white Christmas lights. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. As he turned around to the door mat and kicked off his shoes, a pair of hands covered his eyes. Lance chuckled.
“How are you even reaching me right now?” he asked.
“I’m not that short! But I am on my toes a bit,” Keith answered. A foolish smile appeared on Lance’s lips. He really wished he could see Keith on his toes trying to reach him. Sure he wasn’t that short. It was still entertaining to poke fun at him, in Lance’s opinion.
“Walk slowly so we don’t both fall,” Keith said. With his hands still clasped over Lance’s eyes, Keith led him to a corner in the living room. The trip wasn’t as difficult as Keith thought it would be. (However, Lance did trip on his feet on the way there.)
When they arrived to the spot Lance sat down first. Keith followed, never peeling his hands away from Lance’s eyes. When they both sat comfortably on the floor, Keith slowly moved his hands off of Lance’s eyes.
“Okay,” Keith whispered. “You can look now.” Lance opened his eyes. The light from the Christmas lights allowed him to see the small fort made of sheets. The entrance was open and on the inside, a guitar case was resting on the floor.
“Please don’t tell me that you bought me a guitar. I will actually cry,” Lance said. Keith chuckled. He gave Lance a kiss on his cheek and said, “See for yourself.”
Keith watched Lance reach into the fort. He smiled to himself at the thought of what Lance’s reaction would be. He was going to be thrilled, without a doubt. Lance set the guitar case down in front of him. He ran his hand over the hard, black casing before popping it open.
Lance’s eyes lit up first as he opened it. A full fledged smile followed at the sight of the guitar inside. It was the same on that he had used to play for Keith on their first date. A blush crept onto Lance’s face at the memory of it. He had been so nervous that day. He wanted everything to go right. And thankfully, for the both of them, it had.
Keith smiled contently. It was like watching a kid get a Christmas gift. He wanted to ask Lance if he liked it, but he didn’t. He did not have to. The way Lance touched the wood, felt the strings, and did not look away said it all.
Just then, Keith stood up. He walked to the hallway. Lance watched him in confusion. Keith held out his finger and curled it, beckoning Lance over. He immediately dashed down the hallway. Lance sat completely confused, but followed with a small.
The door to the room was locked. Lance tugged on the knob, earning himself a giggle from Keith who was on the other side of the door.
“Hold on!” Keith chuckled. Lance pressed his ear against the wood of the door. There was fumbling from Keith’s side of the door, and Lance could hear him moving around. Finally, the lock on the door clicked.
“Okay, you can come in now,” Keith said. Lance smiled and turned the door knob. He almost fell in because Keith pulled the door open quickly. They both chortled as Lance regained his balance inside the room. Keith shut the door.
The bedroom was even more decorated than the living room. Lance saw that Keith had spread a string of white Christmas lights on the edges of the wall on the floor, and he added some glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling. The lights flashed on and off, as they were set to a timer. Lance chuckled to himself, baffled at the decorations and in love with his boyfriend’s efforts.
“You’ve really outdone yourself, Kogane,” Lance said with a foolish smile. Keith pulled him close to the center of the room. Their movements were clumsy, both excited about what could come next and new to this display of affection being shared by one another.
Keith wrapped his arms around Lance’s waist and draped his hands slightly above his bottom. Keith let the weight of his body lazily rest completely on Lance. Lance held Keith just as freely and smiled. The warmth emitted between the two of them bubbled up in their chests like butterflies. Keith stared lovingly into Lance’s eyes. Lance kissed the top of his head gently, messy with every kiss. Keith steadied himself and leaned into Lance’s ear.
“Let’s do it, Lance,” he whispered. Lance bit his lip and chortled. Keith rested his forehead on Lance’s shoulder in embarrassment.
“I don’t know how to start this,” Keith laughed. Lance smirked and made Keith face him by caressing his cheek.
“I can help with that,” Lance whispered. He pulled Keith into a deep kiss. His hands trailed down to Keith’s waist. He squeezed his lips, still kissing him deeply, and gripped his thighs,
Keith giggled as Lance turned them to the bed. He was kissing Keith’s neck with a sense of rowdiness as he laid him down on the bed and supported himself atop Keith. Lance could feel the vibrations from Keith’s throat against his lips as he giggled and sighed.
Lance faced him. Keith was smiling shyly, his cheeks pink, his hair a mess on the pillow. His eyes, their beautiful and odd combination of violet with gray undertones, shined. His pupils dilated when they met Lance’s gaze. Keith’s heart beat fast. He was at a loss for words, his breathing faltering along with his actions. He tapped Lance’s chin before running his finger across Lance’s jaw. Lance pushed a lock of hair off of Keith’s forehead with his right hand. Keith could hear his heart beating in his chest. It was almost as if someone were beating a drum within him.
Keith brushed fingertips over so slightly and gently against Lance’s skin as he made his way to the back of his neck. The warmth and gentleness gave Lance goosebumps. He leaned in even closer, and began exploring Keith himself. As Keith pulled him into a deep kiss, Lance slowly slid his hand up Keith’s shirt. He felt his warm skin, his fingers cold against it. Keith shivered. Lance sat up and brought Keith with him. He helped him pull off his shirt. Keith immediately settled himself on top of Lance’s lap. Lance held on to his hips before trailing his hands down to unbutton Keith’s jeans. Keith tugged on the hem of Lance's shirt. Lance pulled it off.
He was darker than Keith. His body was toned up from what Keith assumed to be Paladin training. Small scars adorned and reserved their spot on Lance’s body. There was one in particular that stood out to Keith. It was longer than the others, and held a darker color. Its spot was on Lance’s left shoulder and almost ran to his chest. Keith ran his hand over it before kissing Lance deeply again. Lance laid Keith down upon the bed again. He moved his left hand down into Keith’s pants as Keith undid the button of Lance’s.
What followed next came to them almost like a second nature. They changed kisses and bites, stumbling and faltering awkwardly, but slowly finding their way. Though neither one of them spoke a word, a common thought ran through their mind. A thought that both were too stubborn and afraid to say.

 

 

.

Chapter Text

It was a quarter past nine.The white Christmas lights all throughout the house had been shut off. The lamp in the bedroom was the only source of light on. Lance and Keith’s clothes belonging to the pair lay in disarray on the floor of the bedroom. They laid in bed, the covers hiding the bottom half of their bodies. Keith had taken it upon himself to wear Lance’s shirt not long after they had cleaned up. Now they lay in bed with Keith resting his head on Lance’s left shoulder.
Keith traced circles over Lance’s scar. It had a partly rough texture with the rest of being soft. It stood out against Lance’s skin. Keith cleared his throat before asking, “How...how did you get this?”
Lance seemed to tense up after Keith asked his question. He opened his mouth to speak but closed it almost immediately. Lance was quiet for a long time, and Keith came to the conclusion that this was not an appropriate question to ask.
“I got it five years ago,” Lance finally said. Keith looked at him, but Lance glanced up at the stars on the ceiling instead. “It was on my first mission.” Keith moved his head and rested it on his own pillow. He took Lance’s hand.
“Tell me about it.”
Lance ran his thumb over the back of Keith’s hand. It wasn’t an easy story to tell. The only people who knew about it were Shiro and Iverson. Lance never dared to talk about it to anyone else; he couldn’t bear to. But… this wasn’t just anyone. This was Keith. He loved Keith and he trusted him deeply with everything. Even so, this topic would still be difficult to touch upon. Lance exhaled deeply and turned his body towards Keith. He averted his gaze to their hands.
“When I joined the Garrison there was a different leader for my squad. Her name was Allura. She wasn’t from here, she was from Altea, which made her leadership even more admirable. But...anyway… she was the leader when I first started.”
Lance smiled to himself at the memories he had shared with his friend.
“She and Shiro were nice to me. She really had faith and thought I had potential,” Lance said. Keith smiled and squeezed Lance’s hand.
“You really do,” Keith assured in a whisper. Lance kissed Keith’s hand in response.
“We went into battle. I was in combat without any sort of gun because a Galra rebel had disarmed me. I was stabbed here,” Lance said, referring to the scar. “Allura shot the rebel that stabbed me. And immediately after that...she was shot, too.”
Lance had fallen silent. His eyes became crystal ad fragile with threatening tears. His body had grown tense. Keith took his face in his hands. Lance looked up at him, guilty as soon as he saw the look of concern on Keith’s face.
“I’m sorry, I-,” Lance started, but Keith interrupted him.
“Hey, don’t be sorry,” he said. Lance exhaled raggedly. Keith pulled and him against his chest. Lance shut his eyes and held tightly to Keith. He wanted to tell Keith everything: how Allura had gone to great lengths to make sure Lance took her place when the time came, how he was too late to save her. It all piled up inside of him and became too much.
“I shouldn’t have asked, baby,” Keith whispered. “I’m sorry.” He rubbed circles on Lance’s back and rested his head on top of his. Lance could hear Keith’s heart beating. He tried his best to match his breathing. Bothering thoughts ran through his head. He didn’t want to end the night Keith had planned for him like this. Lance tried to pull away from Keith, but he would not budge. He chuckled at the stubbornness.
“Are you going to let me go?” Lance asked. Keith shook his head.
“No,” he simply said and thought, I am never letting you go. Lance smiled.
“God,” he began. But he trailed off. He stopped himself from saying “I love you”,and instead said, “You’re something else.”
Keith kissed the top of Lance’s head and shifted so that way they shared a pillow as they drifted off to sleep.

The next morning Keith woke up with a sting in his lower back. Lance was slipping on his long sleeve shirt for work. Keith winced as he tried to move. He pressed his hand over a spot on his back and groaned. Lance went over to the bed. Keith sat up and sighed.
“Hey,” Lance said. He kissed the top of Keith’s head and sat down on the edge of the mattress next to him. Keith stretched out and laid his head on Lance’s shoulder. Lance rubbed Keith’s lower back. Keith shut his eyes and relaxed. The ache in his back was not soothed completely, but enough for him to be able to move.
“There’s some aspirin in the medicine cabinet if you need it,” Lance said. Keith scoffed softly.
“I need a damn heating pad,” he joked. Lance wrapped his arms around Keith and pressed him tightly against his chest. Keith returned the embrace.
“I’m sorry,” Lance whined.
“Stop apologizing, it’s fine!” Keith assured with a grin. His words came out muffled against Lance’s neck. He smelled of peach body wash and mint. They blended and the familiar scent gave him comfort.
Lance gave Keith a kiss on top of his head. He followed with another on his temple, his forehead, and the bridge of his nose. Keith grinned and kissed Lance’s cheek. What had happened last night was still on their mind. The atmosphere around shifted to a more intimate one. They felt closer to each other, closer than they had ever felt with anyone.
“Who called you, by the way?” Lance asked.
“Hmm?” Keith responded. He pulled away to face his boyfriend. His brown eyebrows furrowed slightly, something they always did when he asked serious questions.
“Someone called you while I was in the shower,” Lance explained. “I thought you answered.” Keith shook his head. He reached over Lance’s lap to the end table where his phone was. When he clicked the home button his eyes widened.
3 texts- mom
1 missed call- mom
The rosy haze that Keith was in slipped away. He unlocked his phone and immediately called his mother. Lance mouthed if everything was okay. Keith nodded and squeezed Lance’s knee gently in reassurance. The phone rang three times before his mother answered.
“Mom?” Keith answered. Lance bit his bottom lip to stifle a laugh. Keith hit him with his pillow. This only made Lance want to laugh more.
“Keith!” Krolia exclaimed. By the energy in her voice, she had already been up for a few hours.
“Did I wake you?” Krolia asked.
“No, I woke up a little while ago,” Keith responded. He rummaged through his mind. Was there anything important going on today? No, of course not. He'd remember. What if this time he forgot?
“Oh! Well, that’s good. I was calling because I realized that you haven’t introduced me to Lance yet,” Krolia said sarcastically. Keith looked over at Lance. He had gotten up from the bed after Keith had hit him with the pillow. He was slipping on socks. Keith’s eyes widened.
“Huh. Imagine that,” Keith answered nervously. Lance continued on as normal, keenly unaware of what was going on on the other end of the call. A wave of anxiety rolled around in Keith’s stomach.
“And I know that you don’t have anything to do today because you had school and work yesterday,” Krolia continued. “Why not bring him over for a little talk?”
“Uh-”
“I’ll take your ‘uh’ as a yes,” Krolia interrupted. Keith furrowed his brow and sighed to himself.
“Yes, ma,” he confirmed. After agreeing on a time they bid each other goodbye and ended the call.
Keith plopped down sideways across the bed. He groaned and muttered a curse to himself. When was the last time he had introduced his mother to one of his boyfriends? Keith sighed dramatically when he realized that he had only done it once and it had been in middle school. It hadn’t occurred to him that he’d have to introduce Lance so soon to his mother. It was not a bad thing. Keith was actually looking forward to it. Yet there was an anxious thought nagging at him….
“Everything okay?” Lance asked. Keith sat up and looked at him. He was fully dressed for work. It made Keith wonder whether he should wait to deliver the news.
“What time do you get off work today?” Keith responded. Lance lifted up five fingers.
“My mom wants me to introduce you today at 5:30,” Keith explained. He awaited Lance’s response. A look of confusion, a muttered curse word, wide eyes- Keith had no idea what he was expecting. However, he was still taken a bit by surprise when all Lance did was let out a simple and quiet, “Hmph.”
Lance went over to the night stand and put his phone in his pocket. He held his hand out to take. Keith was confused, but he grabbed his hand anyway. Lance helped him out of bed. After emitting a small “ow”, Keith bent over and picked up his jeans. He walked over to Lance’s dresser and opened the very bottom drawer. When Keith had started spending more and more nights at Lance’s house, Lance had decided to make room for Keith to have extra clothes in case they decided that they didn’t want to spend the night apart just yet.
After picking out a pair of boxers Keith started to get dressed. Lance made no attempt at starting a conversation about the matter. It was unlike him, eerie almost. Maybe I dropped the bomb too quickly, Keith thought.
The thought bothered Keith as he drove Lance to work. The silence had not been broken by either one of them. Keith felt unsettled, so when they got to the Garrison he turned the corner to the alley behind it. Lance gave him a questioning look as Keith parked the car halfway through the alley. When they stared at each other they were still silent.
“How long are we going to play the quiet game?” Keith sarcastically.
“Well it just ended. And it looks like you lost,” Lance answered. Keith pursed his lips and growled, frustrated.
“Talk to me, Lance,” he pleaded. “You haven’t talked since I told you my mom wanted to meet you and it’s killing me!” Lance sighed and leaned back on the seat.
“I’m sorry. My mind has been somewhere else for most of the morning,” he explained. Keith look Lance’s hand in his and kissed the back of it. His eyebrows raised in concern. He always knew that something was wrong when Lance was silent.
“Tell me, baby,” Keith said softly. A look of worry came across Lance’s face and left just as quickly. He should tell Keith….
“Don’t worry about it, okay?” Lance eventually spoke. “I’m fine. I didn’t mean to stress you.” Keith bit the inside of his cheek. He knew Lance was hiding something, but he couldn’t force him to tell. He sighed in defeat and slowly let go of Lance’s hand. Lance leaned in and kissed Keith’s cheek.
“You think too much,” Keith stated flatly.
“So do you,” Lance responded. “Why are you so worried about going to see your mom?” Keith stared blankly out the windshield. There was a tiny bug crawling on it from the outside.
“Because I haven’t introduced her to one of my boyfriends since I was,like, thirteen,” he explained. Lance chuckled heartily. It made Keith smile to see him start to loosen up.
“Plus, my family is...kind of...barren. We’ve never really had guests at my mom’s house,” Keith added. Lance tucked a piece of hair behind Keith’s hair. He let his fingers on his neck. Keith automatically leaned in towards him.
“So?” Lance questioned. “That’s not a bad thing. Small families are just as good as big ones.” Keith nodded and hummed in agreement before kissing Lance.He could feel a small smile growing on Lance’s lips. Lance pulled away and kissed Keith’s cheek aggressively. Keith grinned. His eyes drifted to the clock on the dashboard. It read 8:15.
“Shit,” Keith hissed under his breath. When Lance caught sight of the time he muttered, “Fuck,” and composed himself. Keith quickly pulled out of the alley and into the Garrison parking lot. Lance gave him a rough kiss on his lips before rushing out of the car. Keith watched him jog quickly through the Garrison doors before driving back home to Lance’s house.
At Lance’s house, Keith thought about what Lance had said. Small families...are just as good as big ones, he thought to himself. Keith was not embarrassed or ashamed of his family, which only consisted of him and his mother. Of course, there was always hope that his father would come back.That one day Iverson would call Krolia and say that he had been found. Suddenly Keith found himself thinking about his father.
He was five years old when his father had left on the mission. He remembered how Krolia and his father had had a long talk in their bedroom the night before. Keith was able to sneak up on them and press his ear to the bedroom door. His name was brought up by them often. Keith had not stuck around to listen to the rest of the conversation. He remembered how the next day as they arrived to the Garrison, his father talked to him.
“You’ll take care of mommy until I come back, right?” he asked with a smile. Keith had nodded in response with a grin. His father held him close and so tightly that he could have broken a bone. Keith, having been a small child at the time, hugged him with as much strength he could muster.
“I love you so much, Keith,” his father said to him. “Remember that you’re my brave little boy, okay?”
“I love you,too, daddy,” Keith had answered.
Now, seventeen years later, Keith was recalling the events from that day. As he was putting his and Lance’s clothes in the washing machine, he came to realize what was truly bothering him. His father would not be there to meet Lance. When the realization struck Keith, a spiral of thoughts began to dance through his mind.
What would his father have thought of Lance? What would he have to say about him being a Paladin? Keith giggled to himself as he thought about how Lance would be jealous of how good of a Paladin his father is. Was. And how his father would have been impressed by how Lance had become a Paladin himself at such a young age.
Keith shut the washing machine and turned it on. When he walked into Lance’s room, he came to a sudden stop. He let the silence linger and echo in him. He exhaled slowly as he closed his eyes. Small tears pooled out of his eyes. Keith wiped them away.
“I miss you, dad,” he whispered to himself. He hoped that no matter where he was, his father would know how much he and Krolia missed him.

At five o’clock Keith pulled into the Garrison parking lot. Lance rushed out to the car and went straight to the passenger’s seat. He plopped down quickly and said, out of breath, “Hurry before Iverson makes me stay longer.” Keith pulled out of the parking lot as fast as he could before he started driving normally again.
“Are we going straight there?” Lance asked.
“Don’t you want to change?” Keith wondered. Lance shrugged but then answered, “No, I’m good.” Keith turned on his turn signal and turned to the left.
Krolia’s house was not very far from the Garrison. The whole way there Lance held Keith’s hand as he drove. Keith found that this relaxed him. Lance tapped his fingertips gently on the back of Keith’s hand.
“Anything I need to know before we get there?” Lance asked. The familiarity of the question rang through Keith’s mind. He grinned faintly as he started to think.
“Um...she’s really protective. So don’t take it personally if she doesn’t like you right off the bat,” Keith said. His smile became broader when Lance’s eyes grew wide. “Also, please, if she tries pulling out baby pictures: decline.” Lance smirked.
“Okay,” Lance responded. Keith was a fool for thinking that he’d decline seeing baby pictures of him.
Soon enough they arrived at Krolia’s house. It was a small shack at the end of a quiet neighborhood. The driveway was made entirely of gravel. The front yard was small. The house itself was made out of red brick and had a wooden porch and roof. There was a large window next to the front door, which was made of glass. A screen door protected it.
Keith pulled up behind Krolia’s van. He turned the car off and clenched the steering wheel. Lance watched as he tried breathing deeply. Lance put his hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, man,” he said quietly. “Everything’s going to be okay.” Keith nodded but the uncertainty still lingered. After he took off his seat belt, Lance pulled him halfway across the console. Keith gasped, and Lance immediately tickled his sides. Keith started giggling uncontrollably.
“What are you doing?” he chortled. Lance smiled broadly and blew raspberries on Keith’s collar bone. Keith yelped and curled into a ball. He and Lance laughed heartily. Their laughter could be heard outside the car. Keith pulled him down for a kiss. Lance leaned down and did just that. When they pulled away Keith sighed deeply. He was no longer worried.
They walked out of the car together. The gravel crunched and skipped around under their feet. The porch creaked when they stepped onto it. Lance looked around. Sloppy scribbles caught his attention. Under the window it read. “From Keith & Dad; T Mom,” in a child-like handwriting. Lance couldn’t help but smile. He wondered about the story behind it.
Keith knocked on the door. As he waited for Krolia to open up, he glanced at Lance. Lance was looking at the scribbles underneath the window. Keith grinned as he remembered why that was there.
“My dad and I were playing baseball and we broke the window,” Keith recalled. He chuckled as he added, “My mom was so mad. We had to fix it.”
Just then, the door opened. Krolia smiled kindly as she opened the screen door. Her hair was up in a ponytail. She wore a black shirt and jeans with old women’s work boots. She was about as tall as Keith and she had the same eyes. Krolia pinched Keith’s cheek and beckoned the pair inside.
There was a love-seat with a small TV pushed against the wall in the living room. The floor was made up of beige carpet. The boys slid off their shoes before stepping any farther. Krolia held her arms open and before stepping any farther. Krolia held her arms open and Keith hugged her tightly. When they pulled apart, Krolia looked to Lance. She held her hand out for him to shake.
“You must be Lance,” she said. “I’m Krolia,” Lance shook her hand firmly and smiled.
“Pleasure to meet you,” he said. Krolia gave him a sincere grin. She turned to look at Keith. Lance did the same. Keith raised his eyebrows. He had no idea what he was supposed to do next.
“Um…,” he uttered silently. “Ma, this is...my boyfriend.” Krolia chuckled sweetly.
“I know, hun. You’ve made it clear before,” she said.
“Oh my God,” Keith mumbled as he face-palmed slowly. Lance bit his lip and stifled a chuckle. Krolia put her arms around the both of them.
“Okay you two. Into the kitchen,” she said. Krolia led them to the left. They stepped into a small kitchen. They sat down at a small round table that had four chairs.
“So Lance,” Krolia started as they sat down, “Keith tells me you’re a Paladin.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Lance answered. “I’ve been a Paladin for about five years now.” Krolia raised her eyebrows, quite impressed. It made Keith smiled. He could tell that Krolia was quickly going to like Lance’s.
“That’s quite an achievement for someone your age,” Krolia said. Keith slid his hand onto Lance’s hand. She couldn’t help but think of her and her husband. What she’d give for him to be here in this moment….
“Keith tells me you were a soldier yourself,” Lance brought up. Krolia smiled and nodded.
“For some time, yes,” she answered. “I retired when I found out I was pregnant with Keith. My service years were...well, they were something.”
Slowly but surely, Lance and Krolia fell into the rhythm of their own conversation. They talked about Krolia’s duties, how Iverson had not changed one bit. Lance mentioned how much more rigorous training for Paladins had become. As they talked Keith kept to himself. He’d smile at Lance’s occasional jokes (which Krolia enjoyed). At one point, Keith found himself gazing amorously at Lance. He admired him from the corners of his lips, to the tip of his gleaming excited eyes. Keith smiled to himself. He rested his chin on his palm. Krolia’s eyes drifted towards her smitten son as she talked to Lance. She smirked and excused herself from the table for a moment.
When she left down the hallway, Lance quietly let out s breath he was holding. He turned to Keith with a small smile on his lips.
“Your mom’s pretty awesome,” he said.
“I know,” Keith answered faintly. Lance chuckled and leaned to give him a deep kiss. When they were done, Keith smiled and stood from the table.
“Oh, babe, I need to charge my phone,” Lance said.
“There should be an outlet in the kitchen,” Keith responded. Lance stood up as well; he made his way into the kitchen as Keith went to his mother’s bedroom. Keith walked in on Krolia stuffing a small stack of glossy paper into her back pocket.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Nothing, sweetheart,” Krolia answered quickly. She went up to Keith and gave him an enormous hug. Keith smiled broadly. Krolia pinched Keith’s cheeks.
“You’ve been quiet this whole time,” Krolia said. “What are you thinking?”
“I just want you two to get to know each other better,” Keith responded. He quickly averted his gaze. “Also...I’ve been thinking about dad and… I feel like there’s something bothering Lance. He just won’t tell me.” Krolia squeezed her son’s shoulders. She could tell that Lance and Keith were incredibly close, and she knew how emotional Keith could get. He had gotten that from her, after all.
“I’ve been thinking about dad, too, sweetheart,” Krolia began. “And if there’s something bothering Lance, I’m sure he’ll tell you. You just need to give him some time.” Keith sighed. He let Krolia’s words sink into him. Maybe it would be best if he waited for Lance to tell him what was up. After all, What could go wrong? When Krolia caught sight of Keith’s relaxation, she hugged him again. Keith had always been thankful for his mother. He had no idea what held do without her. Krolia told Keith she’d catch up to him in a second. Keith nodded and went to join Lance.
Lance stared at the photograph of Keith’s father that was framed on the kitchen counter. It was faded and had a yellowish tint, suggesting that the photograph was taken many years ago. He wasn’t looking at the camera giving everyone a perfect view of his side profile. Lance let out a soft chuckle. Keith had Krolia’s eyes, and he also had the same jawline as his father. They even had the same eyebrows. Keith was a perfect combination of his parents. He did not look more like one or the other.
There was shuffling behind Lance. He turned and saw Keith standing behind him. He moved up to Lance by the counter. Lance turned back to the photograph.
“Anybody ever tell you that you guys look alike?” Lance asked.
“Mhm.”
“It’s your eyebrows and-”
“Jawline,” Keith finished. Lance grinned slightly and laced his fingers through Keith’s.
“What were you doing here all alone?” Keith asked.
“Well, after I plugged my phone in I stumbled across this. And I just...wanted to let him know that his wife is doing well and that she’s been a brave woman.” Keith’s gaze fell to the photograph of his father. He felt tears coming, so he bit his lip to hold them back.
“And I wanted him to know that his son is a strong man and I’ve been trying to take good care of him. Although, he seems pretty capable of doing that himself,” Lance continued. He looked at Keith then back at the photograph. “He’s been gone for a while, yeah. So it may take some time before he receives my message.”
Keith threw his arms around Lance and buried his face in his neck. Lance rested his cheek on the top of Keith’s head and squeezed him tightly. Keith sniffled continuously.
“I hope he gets your message soon,” Keith said quietly after he had calmed down.
“Me,too.” Lance kissed the top of Keith’s head. They had parted slightly to look at each other when Krolia knocked on the threshold of the kitchen. The pair pulled apart and faced her.
“Sorry to interrupt,” she said, “but, Lance, I just found some old pictures in my room. Would you like to look at them?” Lance laughed out loud as Keith’s eyes widened.
“Hell yes!” Lance laughed as he stepped towards Krolia. She had the stack of glossy paper in her hand, holding it out to him. When Keith recognized it he protested.
“Nooo!” he groaned. It was too late. Lance was already sitting back at the table looking through the pictures. Keith sat down next to him while Krolia sat across. Lance chortled at a picture. When Keith looked at it, he cringed. It was a picture of Keith mid-trip onto the floor.
“You were the king of bad timing,” Krolia joked. Lance pulled another picture from the stack. Keith’s eyes lit up and smiled.
“How come I’ve never seen this?” he asked. He gently took the picture from Lance’s hand. In the picture, Krolia was sitting on a swing with Keith, who looked about four years old, at her knee. He was sticking his tongue out towards the camera. He had a red t-shirt and denim overalls.
“That’s adorable,” Lance grinned. Keith gave the picture one last look before handwriting it to Krolia for her to look at. Keith leaned in closer to Lance and rested his head on his shoulder as they looked at the next picture.

 

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