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The name's Lance

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«Not this guy again.» I groaned quietly, trying to hide behind my book in a classroom full of chattering students before first period starts.

 

We had a new kid start at our school last week and already he’s made a name for himself. No wonder though, he was the school’s new delinquent, and took the title with a proud demeanor wherever he walked the hallways.

 

The funny thing about this guy was that we had every single period together so I couldn’t shake him off except for recess or lunch. Today he waltzed in like he owned the place, but that was no surprise. My eyes went back to my book until he spoke up catching my dark stare.

 

«Woah, woah, woah mamcitas, there’s enough of me to go around. How about a little kiss on the cheek, chica?» I hear him cat calling the girls in class, but they didn’t mind. Whenever he opened his mouth the girls would swoon for him, no matter what came out of it.

 

I felt a heat bubble in my stomach when Lacey, the class president of all people melted into that guy’s hold, giving him a loving peck on the cheek. The nerve of that guy. I went back to my book ignoring the douche.

 

«Mr. McClain please take your seat, class has started.» Miss Allura said when she pooled into the classroom wearing her usual stubborn look whenever new guy felt like taking over the class.

 

«Anything for you, Allura.» New guy smooth talked, but was iced when Miss Allura shot him a cold look, nodding her brows to his seat. He did as demanded but shot me a snide smirk my way before sitting in his seat all lazily.

 

Just ignore him, I thought. Closing my book to pay attention to Miss Allura.

 

This was senior year. My most important year of high school. Sure, i got straight As the past three years, but they didn’t matter. Senior year was always the year that counted. It was the year I needed to do my best in every subject and with college applications. I really wanted to get into this high prestigious college on the west coast that offered an amazing arts course but I needed all As, a letter of recommendation and something to impress them with to get the scholarship that only two out of hundreds of applicants got. I needed this year to focus or else Shiro would be disappointed. I would be disappointed.

 

I felt a tap on my shoulder. «Hey, poindexter. What’s Miss hot stuff’s deal?» New guy asked me, his smile turning my insides.

 

«I don’t know, we call her Miss so I bet she’s single. Not that you have a chance.» I chided back.

 

«Kogane! McClain! Don’t make me write you up.» Miss Allura shouted our way.

 

She gave both of us a hard stare before returning to the board. Her cold stare could rip any one's skin off. But it looked like new guy was just enjoying it, crossing his arms, sitting with his ass almost sliding off his chair. Man, he needed to learn some proper mannerisms.

 

While Miss Allura wrote on the board, I took the chance to look at my college applications. I had three alternatives that I didn’t mind getting in if my dream school got cut. I filled out all three application but could feel my nerves getting to me. I didn’t like writing essays that centered on my private life. Too much had happened in my past that writing an essay about it would just hurt too much. I didn’t feel inspired by much, except for nature and machinery. But who would want to read an essay about a kid who felt inspired by that?

 

I felt another tap on my shoulder. «Knock it off, McClain. Pay attention to the board before she whacks you.» I waved his hand off, not directing my gaze at him. I didn’t want anything to do with this kid, he would ruin everything for me if I let him socialize with me.

 

He didn’t listen to me and continued tapping me shoulder, turning the tapping into a full on clap with his whole hand. «KNOCK IT OFF!» I yelled, forgetting we were in the middle of a class.

 

«That’s it. Both of you, detention.» Miss Allura had two slips at the ready on her desk giving them to us when the first period bell rang.

 

«God dammit…this is all your fault.» I glared at new guy, but he was only smiling.

 

My eyes traced his figure. He was tall, wiry almost like a tree, he had a tan complexion, my money was he was from Mexico or Cuba. His eyes had a light blue color but I could see splashes of green in them making it look like the ocean. His chestnut colored hair was short, but curling at the nape of his neck. What always caught my eyes in class, since he was impossible to ignore, was his mouth. Whenever he felt cocky enough, he would smile that ridiculous grin of his, all of his teeth showing but it was impossible to look away whenever he smiled.

 

The funny thing was, he didn’t even look like a delinquent. He didn’t have any tattoos or face piercings. But he did dress like one. He always wore ripped jeans, tattered shirts with t-shirts underneath always having some sort of rock band on it. His kicks were black Doc Martens, and he smoked. Looking away from his clothing appearance, he would just seem like any other guy. Someone who could seem nice, until he opened his mouth.

 

«Lighten up, Kogane. You need to show some of your rebellious side, you’re such a…what’s the word? Oh yeah, such a pet. I mean look at you, you're wearing a white shirt under a red sweater, only nerds dress this way. Where's your calculator.» He sneered, happy with his little jokes. His grin was still plastered to his face, and I couldn’t look away. I just stood there hoping the bell would ring, but we had the same classes every day so I knew I couldn’t shake him off.

 

«Lighten up!? This is going to be on my record. I’ve never had detention before…Shiro’s going to kill me.» I groaned, pushing new guy into a locker while making my way to the next class.

 

«Hey..where do you think you’re going?» New guy followed me into the classroom.

 

I turned around with a brute force, my eyebrows furrowed angrily. «Listen. Don’t talk to me, don’t look at me and don’t just be around me. I want nothing to do with you, McClain.» I spat his name, or tried to but felt my voice wimping out on the tough guy act. This just wasn’t me. I backed up from him finding a desk. «Just…» I started, my hand pulling out a chair, not looking at him. «I just don’t want anything to do with you.» I sat down, ignoring him.

 

He tried to give me an angry glare, but found a desk further back in the classroom. On his way to the back of the class, he leaned in on me. His breath warm against my face. I could see splashes of green in his eyes when he tilted his head to the side, just an inch, trying to size me up.

 

«It’s razzle dazzle time, Kogane. I’m not done with you.» He got up, a large tan hand fisting my desk. «Oh, and the name’s Lance. Don’t forget that.» He spat, then walked to the back of the class.

 

*_*

 

I was in the middle of a test when the speaker went on. «Can Mr. Kogane come to the principal’s office.»

 

«Really! In the middle of a test? He knew I had a test this period» I gritted my teeth.

 

«Kogane, go. We already know you aced the test. You can retake it later if you need to.» Mr. Coran called from his desk, legs lifted on it while reading the paper. Such a sleeze.

 

Before I left the classroom, my neck craned to catch a look at new guy. He looked like he was struggling, biting his pencil, his other hand ripping at his short bangs. I almost felt sorry for him, but this was an easy test. He should be able to get at least a C.

 

I made my way out, finding the principal’s office.

 

«Hey Keith. Sorry I pulled you out of class, I knew you had a test this period but it was the only free time I had.» said Adam, giving me a reassuring smile that he didn’t bring me here to scold me or anything. «Listen, you’re one of our finest students. Guess we can thank Takeshi for that.» He joked, always finding an opportunity to talk about his husband, but I got enough of that at home when they both acted like stupid teenagers. «Anyway. We need you to tutor a student. He’s new here, and we’ve been receiving some complaints from the teachers.»

 

My mind went immediately to McClain. Mother fucking-Before I could open my mouth to protest, Adam shot a hand up asking to explain. I closed my mouth, letting him proceed, rolling my eyes at how annoying this was becoming. 

 

«Keith. I knew you would deny this, but you’re too smart, and we think you would be a good tutor for him. I’m guessing you already know who we’re talking about.» said Adam, a smile finding his face. He was so enjoying this, he loved tormenting me. «And you know you can’t say no. We brought you up better than that.» His smile widened to a wicked grin.

 

God damnit, he was right. «Yeah sure, okay. But, you should know he’s a bad influence and if I turn into a delinquent, I’ll pin it on you.» I winked, but he just bursted out laughing knowing full well that would never happen. I couldn’t be bad, it wasn’t in my nature.

 

«Oh Keith, that one is going on the fridge at home. I’m making Takeshi turn that into a stupid quote.» Adam wiped away an invisible tear. «Now get going, you guys meet tomorrow after school.» He said.

 

I got up, slinging my black backpack on my shoulder before I said, «I can’t ride home with you today. I got dentition, because of him. But I won’t say I told you so, yet. See you later, Adam.» I smirked on my way out of his office.

Chapter Text

Lance was standing outside the classroom before detention trying to look all cool with his hands rested in the pockets of his dark blue bomber jacket.

 

When I walked past him, he was leaning on the wall giving me a sly smirk. «Ready for your first lesson of detention..» Lance’s splashed green eyes flickered up and down taking me in, «Mullet?» He closed, thinking the nickname would make me angry.

 

It did make me angry. Actually, I could feel my hand gripping the strap of my backpack pretty hard, but I tried not to let it show. This guy was going to be under me until he could get a passing grade in some of his classes, but he didn’t need to know that just yet. Let’s just get through detention first.

 

I rolled my eyes at his comment, trying to come up with a comback nickname that would make him just as mad. Maybe comment on his jacket, but he actually looked really good in that bomber jacket, and it really made me want to punch a hole in the wall next to his face.

 

My nose made a heavy breathing sound, drawing in a sharp, long breath. Lance cocked a brown brow up, waiting for me to say anything. I could feel my breath just staying in my lungs, not willing to release. Might as well suffocate, I guess. I let the breath loose, slowly, making sure he could hear me.

 

«Take that as a yes, you ace everything right? Detention can’t be that hard, if I can do it,» He neared me like he did in earlier in class. The same warm breath hitting my face, smelling like mints, probably to mask the smoking. «then you can definitely do it, Mullet.» He spat the nickname in my face with a sharp puff of air. Man I wanted to punch his face, but Adam would kill me, then Shiro would have his turn afterwards, and then they would both kill me together while singing love songs to each other.

 

I chose to ignore him, walking quickly past him to get into the classroom and find a desk closest to the teacher. Mr. Coran was the teacher who was chosen to babysit the delinquents in today’s detention. I, along with Lance and some other students I recognized to be the troublemakers of Garrison Prep where spread out in the classroom giving me judging stares, as if I didn’t belong here. Hey, I know I don’t belong here, it’s your new friend’s fault. Was what I wanted to tell them, but my insides started to make me feel sick whenever I caught one of their stares.

 

When I sat down and pulled out my extra curriculum homework, I looked outside the windows and noticed how dark the clouds were getting. Typical, the one day I can’t get a ride home with Adam and it’s going to rain. Like crazy too given from how dark those clouds were getting.

 

It felt like the calm of a storm when Lance trudged his long legs over to my seat. Don’t sit next to me, I thought. But my prayers were ignored when Lance sat down at the desk next to mine. Lucky me. If I was lucky he would just ignore me since I was sitting close to Coran. I did that instinctively so that if Lance wants to bother me, Coran can yell at him to stop then he’ll get bored and find a new spot to sit leaving me to my peace to get through this fucking hell hole.

 

I was pretending to be deep into my homework when my eyes carefully trailed to look at what Lance had planned to do during detention. This was his turf. He must have been here every day after school since he started here. I can’t say I wasn’t curious to see if he acted like an asshole here like he did in the classes he had with me. These were other delinquents, his peers or maybe people he felt intimidated by so maybe he would coward in their presence and be quiet for once.

 

«Hernando, my man, back again? Good to see you.» Lance nodded behind him to Hernando who was sitting all the way in the back corner trying to burn something with a lighter. Why wasn’t Coran doing something about this, he might burn down the school for quiznack’s sake.

 

«Jimmy, how’s it hanging? Smoke tomorrow after first period, you owe me.» Lance then said, to Jimmy Connolly, the most known delinquent we had at this school. No one, and I mean no one fucked with Jimmy. He had contacts all over the school grounds and outside of it. I did my best to stay out of his way at all times. And here was Lance demanding him stuff, damn he had already climbed up the ranks at this school through the bad kids. Remind me why Adam thought I was the best option to tutor him, he was going to eat me alive.

 

At that sudden thought, I made a sour face, then I made a desperate face telling myself to just calm down, to breathe in and out and that you could get through this. One day at a time. You only need to see this guy at school, and in the hallways, and in class and after school. For how long, who the fuck knows until he was smart, I guess.

I groaned.

 «What’s your deal, Mullet? You looked distressed. Detention can’t be that bad, you got Lancey Lance here with ya.» He shrugged off his dark blue bomber jacket, revealing that crisp white t-shirt with a The Clash logo printed on it. His longs legs were hugged with light blue jeans that sunk deeper and deeper until they crossed at the ankles, his black Doc Martens shining in the light. They had to be brand new, stolen was my guess, because they were so shiny almost blinding me when I stole glance at his legs popping out from under his desk.

 

«Don’t talk to me. We’re in detention. There’s a no talking policy.» I nodded my head at Mr. Coran, who was too sucked into his paper not giving a rat’s ass about us other humans in the classroom. I had to give Adam a lesson on how to hire people or who to hire at his school. This was supposed to be a high-end prep school which the students liked to be at because we didn’t need to wear uniforms all the time.

 

In my opinion, I think we should have worn uniforms, but that would have become the argument of the century with Adam and no way was I going through one of those with him. He was scary enough when he was being nice.

 

My watch ticked, it had only gone ten minutes. Man time was slow when you were not having fun and had to sit next to this joke of a guy. But he was surprisingly calm at the moment. He had pulled out a notebook and a pencil scribbling some words on it. I tried to incline my head to the side to get a better look at what he was writing without getting caught. My guess was that he was planning my death, but I couldn’t read the words. They were in Spanish, and Spanish was one the only class I didn’t have an A in. Yeah, languages are hard okay.

 

Lance looked frustrated while scribbling, he quickly ripped out the paper from his notebook and threw the piece of paper in the trash next to Mr. Coran’s desk. My instinct was that I needed to get that piece of paper when detention was over. I knew someone who could translate it for me, maybe I might have something on him so that he’d stop bugging me or discard his plan to kill me.

 

A loud groan sounded from Lance when he continued to write in his notebook. I tried to ignore him, but felt a slight pang in my chest. I shook off the feeling, going back to my homework, but before I could even touch a pencil tip to my notebook, a note had flung its way to my desk. I furrowed my brows while opening the crumpled piece of paper.

 

I’m bored, MULLET.

Do something crazy before I tell Coran that you said he was a nancy pants.

 

Who did he think he was? The nerve of that insolent jack-ass. My countdown started from 3 strikes, and now he was down to 2 and we hadn’t even started studying together yet. I was definitely going to let Adam know how many strikes this guy had left, and if he wounded up getting zero, it was bye bye good grades, hello juvie, or a bad college, whatever.

 

«Hell no.» I simply said in a low whisper, glaring my dark eyes at him. He wasn’t going to be the boss of me. Besides, Coran wouldn’t even believe him. I never, NEVER told off any teachers. It wasn’t my nature.

 

«Fine.» Lance got up, his long legs shifting under his desk making a lot of noise. The sound of his desk dragging was causing some sort of bleeding in my ears.

 

«Mr. McClain, what is it? Sit down, detention isn’t over yet.» Coran said, switching his ankles on his desk giving Lance a care look.

 

«Mr. Kogane just told me he thought you looked like a nancy pants. Thought I’d spread the word.» He winked at Mr. Coran who was now wearing an incredulous look, directed at me. Did he believe this guy? Seriously? I’m a straight A student, I do no wrong!

 

«Now Keith, I thought we were tight. Adam always has nice things to say about you. I guess this just leads me to do only one thing.» He said.

 

No, no, no, I thought knowing exactly what this meant. God damn this dude, now he had one strike left.

 

«Detention tomorrow too. That’ll make you understand that, Coran the man-» Lance made a guttural laugh at that, «can not be dealt with. I’m disappointed in you, Keith. Thank you young chap. You’ve been quiet all week in detention, you seem like a nice young fellow, maybe Keith here should get a pointer or two from you.» Coran went back to his paper, flipping to the next page in quite a rage.

 

«That’s strike two, McClain.» I said low, hoping he didn’t hear me while going back to my homework. Seriously, Adam would have to pull me out of detention tomorrow if he wanted me to tutor this guy. I didn’t have time for this shit.

 

Lance sat back down, pleased with himself. «Maybe Mullet…should learn a thing or two from me.» He leaned in on me irking to get my attention, but It took all of my might to not care. He wasn’t worth my time, at least not until tomorrow.

 

The bell finally rang, and everyone lazily got up from their seats of hell. While everyone was spilling out of the classroom, I took the chance to swoop into the trash can and grab the piece of paper Lance flung earlier. When it was in my grasp I quickly put it in my coat pocket, clapping the pocket twice as a job well done.

 

Lance had made it to the exit, a large brown hand pushing on the door to get out. When the door opened it revealed a raging storm going on outside. Wind was lashing out with strong gusts, the trees swinging in a haywire. Rain was pattering down in wet sheets, and guess who forgot to bring an umbrella? Hell, there was sun this morning, who would have thought of bringing an umbrella?

«Great.» I murmured, staring at the rain like it was my worst enemy.

 

«I can give you ride home.» I heard a familiar voice next to me.

 

I inched my head to the side to look at Lance standing almost a head taller than me, had to be the heels of his boots, his large tan hands resting in his jacket pockets, wearing a smug smile. His hair was tousled, the longer strands at his neck curling even more than earlier. Suddenly I felt a light heat finding my cheeks. What the fuck, stop, it had to be the wind hitting my face.

 

«Why would you want to give me a ride home? You just cost me another day in detention, and it wasn’t even my fault.» I blamed him, tipping my chin up to the sky.

 

«Hey, either ride with me or walk home in the pouring rain getting all wet. It’s your choice.» He started walking out into the rain, probably towards his car.

 

I made an angry groan when I followed after him.

Chapter Text

Lance drove a blue Ford Fiesta and would not shut up about it on the ride home. He talked about how much he loved driving in it, how he built his own stereo to get the best sound when listening to music and how much the chicas liked it. I did not need to know that, I didn’t care.

 

«Lance! Please stop talking about your stupid car, I don’t care.» I interjected in the middle of his chat about how fast it went from 0 to 100 in seconds. I just did not care.

 

«What’s not in your ass.» Lance groaned, gripping the stearing wheel with one hand hardly paying attention to the road when his other hand fumbled around for a chocolate bar he found in the glove compartment.

 

«Pay attention the road, for God’s sake you’re gonna get us killed.» I shot a hand to the road praying his ocean eyes trailed along to my hand.

 

«Hey, I’m an awesome driver. Ever seenTokyo Drift, it’s like my favorite movie. Check this out!» He screamed, dragging the wheel to a hard right at a turn, his free hand pulling the brake lever. His car made a hard left turn at that and I could hear my voice screaming at the sudden drifting he did. He was so going to get us killed.

 

«Laaance! Stop, please!» I continued screaming. Lance was laughing next to me enjoying our little joyride.

 

His car finally stopped drifting when the road didn’t have any turns left to swing on. Lance slowed down when he began driving down a neighborhood with kids playing in the street. «See, I’m an awesome driver.» He said, his white teeth blinding me in the mirror catching my sudde stare.

 

Fine, I could admit that he was an excellent diver. His turns were actually really good, cutting at just the right moment and slowing down right on time when we hit this neighborhood. I could say I was impressed, but refused to show him that I was. Instead, I crossed my arms then said, «You could have easily killed us if a car came by. You were just lucky.»

 

Lance shot both his thin brown brows up high, giving me an incredulous look like I was the biggest liar out there. «Exsqueeze me. Did you just offend my driving? You saw, you felt those turns, Kogane. Don’t tell me you’re not impressed with that. What do you know, you don’t even have a car. Do you even have your licence?» He asked me, his eyes on the road.

 

I got my licence almost two years ago on my birthday, but Adam and Shiro said they didn’t see the point in buying me a car when I could catch a ride with Adam to school. Besides, I wasn’t that social so I never did anything outside of school except study or play videogames. «I do have my licence, I got it on my 16th birthday.» I told Lance, using a tone indicating that this was stupid and boring. I just wanted to ignore him, but that was hard to do when it was only the two of us in the car, and he never shut up.

 

«Nice, I’ll teach you how to drift one day. You need to know this in your sad life.» He retorted, but smiled that stupid grin of his. I felt a new jump in my stomach, my hand rubbing it to calm it down.

 

Must be the turns, I thought.

 

«Anyways, what’s good to do aroud here? You know, besides all the chicas.» He slapped his knee with his free hand thinking he was hilarious. He wasn’t, just wanted to point that out.

 

«I don’t know. I don’t go out that much, too much school to focus on than having a social life.» I said, looking down at my hands fiddling to his question.

 

«Really? But haven’t you like lived here your whole life?» Lance then asked sounding interested in my life. I didn’t want to give away too much about my life, I was just going to tutor him, not that he knew that yet.

 

«You have the skating rink, the movies, the batting cages uhm…there are a lot of great cafés in town, I think.»

 

«You think! Do you never go out, Kogane? Don’t you have friends you hang out with? I haven’t seen you talk to anyone in class though, your head is always in a book.» He chided, making a turn this time sans drift, thank God.

 

I did have friends, but we chatted mostly online. 

 

«I have friends, they're just not in the same year as us. One of them is a sophomore and the other is a junior.» Was all I wanted to tell him, he didn’t need to know any more of my personal life. He’d have to earn that if he wanted to know more about me. I crossed my arms again directing my gaze to the window, trying hard to ignore him whenever he opened his mouth.

 

«Fine, cool. So where to now?» He asked. I had told him where I lived when I got in the car, but I guess he doens’t know what Google Maps is.

 

I huffed out an exasperated breath, «Here.» I flung out my phone and punched in my address then sat my phone on the dashboard so that he could follow the GPS and let me go back to ignoring him.

 

«Sweet, thanks.» He smiled again, a new tug in my gut.

 

«Soo…» Lance started, directing his eyes to me every three seconds. It was getting kind of annoying. It was also obvious he wanted to ask me something, but caught quickly on to my annoyance at him. He was a quick learner. Good.

 

«Yeah.» I said, said annoyance finding my voice.

 

«I was just wondering about your...uhhh..your scar.» He pointed to his cheek. «What happened, it looks kind of badass.» Lance said quietly, a bit uncomfortable with his question. Guess he was taking precautions in case this turned out to be a touchy subject for me. He could be considerate at times, weird. Didn’t seem like him to be that.

 

«Nothing happened, it’s just a birthmark.» I simply said. There truly wasn’t much to say about my scar.

 

I noticed he kept on staring at it. I couldn’t blame him, it’s quite noticeable, almost like the tip of a crescent moon tracing the top of my cheek all the way down to my neck. No wonder Lance was curious, he didn’t need to feel bad for asking. Everyone asked, so I was always prepared to just say it was a birthmark. It was easier that way.

 

«Cool, cool. I like it. Makes you look more badass. You know, since you dress like a pussy with that stupid shirt under a sweater get up. Does a priest clothe you?» And Lance was back. He was thoughtful for a whole ten seconds, had to be a record of some sort.

 

I just made a loud huff, my gaze burning on the GPS to get me home faster. «Why do you care so much about my outfit, McClain. It’s not like you’re going to change me, I like dressing like this. Have you seen yourself in the mirror?» I tried to retort back, but I knew it was a bust. He did actually have a cool style that suited him, and I wouldn’t have mind some pointers on how to dress. Shiro was the one who bought all of my clothes, and he did dress like a Sunday teacher. I rolled my eyes to the window at the thought of Lance being right.

 

«I dunno, Kogane. Something inside of you screams to get out, and it’s not a shirt with a pocket protector. You need to find your inner rocker, the mullet and your scar says it all.» He smirked, pulling in to my driveway.

 

«Sure whatever, I’m never going to dress like you.» I gave him a hateful glare, not looking forward to tutoring this asshole. «Thanks for the ride, I guess.» My hand went to the handle before Lance gripped my arm pulling me back.

 

«Listen, Kogane. I know you hate me.» He contemplated about saying something else looking away for a second, but continued, «I’ve seen the cold stares you give me in class, like you want to impale me with something. That you think you’re better than me. You don’t even know me, so stop judging. Just because you’re the principal’s kid doesn’t give you the right to feel superior to me. We all have our backgrounds. Now get going, I can see daddy one in the window waiting.» Lance nodded towards Adam peeking through the curtain of the window.

 

I didn’t know how to respod to what Lance told me so I just shrugged his hand off my arm, shooting out of his car like a rocket. «Whatever, see you tomorrow.» I said, making my way to the front door.

 

Behind me I heard his car pulling out of the driveway, speeding away way past the speed limit. 

Chapter Text

«Keeeef!» Ruby tackled me like the little devil of a sister she is. Her tiny arms wrapping tightly around my thighs, since she was really short and five.

 

«Ruby! Hands off of Keith, you know you’re sick. You don’t want your big brother to get sick too?» I heard Shiro’s strict voice yelling from the kitchen.

 

Both of Ruby’s arms dropped, a large pout jutting out from her lower lip, her deep brown eyes watering. Bring on the water works. I made a cringing face preparing for wails. To my surprise she ran back into the kitchen, her long mop of black hair trailing along.

 

«So, Keith.» Adam cocked a brown brow at me, leaning on the door. «Who drove you home?» A sly smirk forming on his lips now. Ugh, please just leave me alone.

 

«No one.» I said, avoiding his stare crashing on the sofa. Ruby ran back into the living room wanting to sit in my lap, but Shiro came back out of the kitchen giving her a knowing glare of disapproval. She didn’t care when she stuck her tongue out at him.

 

«Ruby, that’s not right.» Adam chuckled, hunching down on one knee to her level. «Look at papa, see my finger?» She nodded vigorously her eyes trailing his index finer touching the skin under his left eye. «Pull your finger here, then stick out your tongue and say….blaaarrrghhh.» Adam made the face at his husband, Ruby mirroring the childish gesture making the sound that went along with it.

 

«Children, I live with a bunch of children. Except you, Keith. Feet off the table.» Shiro pointed to my feet on the table, they slid off as soon at he said feet.

 

«Well, it looked like someone to me. He seemed like he didn’t want to leave unnoticed. He got a name, Keith?» Adam pushed.

 

I flipped through the channels trying to ignore him. He could be such a nag. «I said it was no one. He just offered to drive me home when he saw that I didn’t have an umbrella on me.»

 

«Keith….come on! You finally do something social and you won’t tell me. Come on, I want to give you fatherly advice for once. You’re seventeen, you’ll be eighteen soon, I need to use some of my life experience on you.» Adam pleaded, crashing on the couch next to me. I could see the crinkle in his eyes, he wasn’t that much older than me. He was turning thirty soon, but that was like twelve years older than me, how much wisdom could he have to reflect on me?

 

«Fine. It was Lance McClain, the guy you want me to tutor. I can’t shake him off for some reason.» I admitted, still flicking through different channels, annoyance finding my face.

 

«Keith.» Adam took the remote, turning off the TV. Then he gave me a stern look.

 

«Why are you so angry? Lance seems nice. Sure, he’s the school’s newest delinquent, and he did spray paint some vulgar drawings in the boy’s locker room yesterday, but boys will be boys.» He laughed, looking like he was thinking about a certain memory.

 

I knew he missed his high school days, he was one of the worst delinquents Garrison Prep ever had and now he’s their principal. People would think how the hell did he land that job, but my gaze went to Shiro. That’s how.

 

«Adam! Was the boy who drove Keith home that delinquent you talked about yesterday? The one who Keith has to tutor? What if he becomes a bad influence on him? He needs to keep his grades up to get into college.» Shiro was wearing an apron I made him in home ec. freshman year, it was light pink with ruffles on the edges. I made it as a gag gift for Christmas, but he’s wears it all the time.

 

«I got this honey, don’t worry. I think Keith will be the influencer of the two. We’ve raised him well, so, chill.» He waved his fingers in a chill out kind of way. Adam never grew up, he would be sixteen forever mentally, it was awesome. I loved him a lot.

 

«I don’t like the sound of this kid. You better keep your eyes on him when he’s around Keith.» Shiro went back into the kitchen. «Ruby, come help daddy make dinner!» Ruby ran after Shiro’s voice, arms in the air like she was a ninja.

 

«You have nothing to worry about. I made it clear to him that we’re not friends, or that I have no interest in becoming friends with him. He still doesn’t know I’m going to tutor him. I thought I’d give him the news tomorrow, or just let him have the bad news when he sees me.» I saw my reflection in the TV.

 

«I don’t know if that’s the correct approach, but it’s your life, not mine. I’m not going to tell you what to do or not do. You guys can figure it own on your own. I didn’t tell him who was going to tutor him, so he’ll have a pleasant surprise when he sees it’s you.» Adam smiled, ruffling my hair.

 

«Stop…» I laughed, «I won’t be so sure on the pleasant part of it.» Suddenly I remembered that I had the piece of paper Lance was scribbling on in detention.

 

I got up to find my jacket, pulling out the piece of paper. «Can you translate this? You know my Spanish’s not the best.» I said sheepishly. Adam had always wanted me to learn Spanish since it was his mother tongue, but it was just so damn hard.

 

«You need to brush up on the language, Keith. Spanish is not hard.» Adman teased, sitting up on the couch.

 

«Or hire a better teacher.» I retorted, but regretted my words instantly.

 

«Señorita Santiago is an excellent Spanish teacher, you need to put more effort and motivation in the language, that’s all.» He smiled, waving me over when I found the piece of paper.

 

«Let’s see.» He said, coughing loudly to get everyone’s attention. Before he chose to read it out loud, he read through it on his own, his dark eyes reflecting behind his glasses, tracing the penciled written words. «Wow.» He finished, making an impressed look.

 

«Where did you find this?» He asked.

 

«I found it on my desk in detention.» I lied looking him directly in the eyes so that he couldn’t catch my lie. He knew all of my tells, but the last years I’ve worked my way with different lies to see which tells he could find on me. I accomplished them all, he never knew when I lied.

 

«It’s a really good poem. Listen.» He said, coughing loudly again. Shiro had Ruby in his arms when they came out of the kitchen to listen to Adam recite the poem. 

 

Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente, y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te toca. Parece que los ojos se te hubieran volado y parece que un beso te cerrara la boca.

 

Como todas las cosas están llenas de mi alma emerges de las cosas, llena del alma mía. Mariposa de sueño, te pareces a mi alma, y te pareces a la palabra melancolía.

 

Me gustas cuando callas y estás como distante.Y estás como quejándote, mariposa en arrullo. Y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te alcanza: déjame que me calle con el silencio tuyo.

 

Déjame que te hable también con tu silencio claro como una lámpara, simple como un anillo. Eres como la noche, callada y constelada. Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.

 

Me gustas cuando callas porque estás como ausente. Distante y dolorosa como si hubieras muerto. Una palabra entonces, una sonrisa bastan. Y estoy alegre, alegre de que no sea cierto.

 

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent, and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you. It seems as though your eyes had flown away and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

 

As all things are filled with my soul you emerge from the things, filled with my soul. You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream, and you are like the word Melancholy.

 

I like for you to be still, and you seem far away. It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove. And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you: Let me come to be still in your silence.

 

And let me talk to you with your silence that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring.You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.

 

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.One word then, one smile, is enough.And I am happy, happy that it's not true.

 

«That’s what it really says? It’s amazing.» I could feel my heart beat rapidly when Adam finished translating the poem.

 

«I’m asking one more time, Keith. Who wrote this? This should be recognized.» Adam waved the piece of paper before giving it back to me.

 

«I said I don’t know. I found it. I was curious, thanks for reading it.» I smiled, feeling my heart rate going back to normal.

 

Shiro was holding Ruby close to him. His gray eyes glistening. «Shiro, you getting emotional?» I teased.

 

«Yes, is that so bad? It was beautiful.» He said matter of fact, carrying Ruby back into the kitchen. «Dinner is ready in fifteen.» He shouted, Ruby shouted the same thing after him. She’s in a copy cat phase.

 

«It is beautiful, but the hand writing is horrible. Definitely not a girl who wrote this.» Adam said, getting up to go into the kitchen to help Shiro with dinner.

 

Dinner was a nightmare. Shiro scolded me for getting detention twice, then he scolded Adam for letting me get detention and having a delinquent driving me home. Seriously, I’m seventeen years old. He treated me like I was still a seven year old.

 

I could feel my hands turning into fists, but felt Adam’s hand rest on top of mine giving me a look to calm down. We both knew how strict Shiro could be, and that he did this only for my best interest. He loved me too much, especially when him and Adam wanted to adopt me, he wanted nothing other than to give me the best upbringing I deserved. He was forgiven.

 

«Thanks for dinner, Shiro. May I be excused?» I asked, trying to give him a smile but it was kind of hard after being scolded for something that wasn’t even my fault.

 

Shiro didn’t look me in the eye when he nodded. I felt a hard tug in my gut. It eased when Adam rested his hand on my back. «I’ll talk to Coran tomorrow. You and Lance can have detention in the library or else you’ll be at school till late. You guys can have a joint session. Besides, tutoring Lance will be like detention anyways, right?» He joked.

 

I just ignored him, eye rolling him so hard when I made my way upstairs to my room.

 

«Hey man, heard a rumor you were in detention. Did Shiro kill you when he found out?» Pidge laughed out loud as soon as I booted up my computer and logged into our Discord chat.

 

«He murdered his dinner pretending it was my face.» I joked.

 

«How the hell did you end up getting detention anyway, aren’t you like the class angel, pet or something?» She asked, clicking away on the game she invited me to play.

 

«It was the new guy’s fault. He started bugging me in class, one thing led to another and I was shouting forgetting we were in the middle of class. Allura’s class of all classes.»

 

«Fuck man, that’s harsh. She’s tough as rocks, dude. How was it, detention?» She asked, shouting a loud roar when she managed to get a penta-kill.

 

«Boring. The new guy started bugging me again, then he blackmailed me into something landing me another day of detention. He’s out to get me.» I groaned.

 

«Hey guys! Who’s the new guy you’re talking about?» Hunk joined in on our chat.

 

«Lance McClain. Tall, lanky guy. Looks like a thin, muscular tree. Brown hair, blue eyes, dresses nice.» Pidge said.   

 

I chose not to comment on her liking his clothes, since I agreed.

 

«Him? He’s the school’s new delinquent? He’s like super nice.» Hunk suddenly said.

 

«WHAT!?» Pidge and I exclaimed in the chat.

 

«Yeah, I met him in the lunch line. We started talking about movies, he’s like a human encyclopedia on horror flicks. I invited him to sit with us at lunch tomorrow.» He informed, sounding cheerier than necessary.

 

«YOU DID WHAT?!» I shouted in my mic.

 

«Keith!!!» Adam shouted for me to shut up.

 

«Sorry!» I shouted back.

 

«What the hell, dude. We’re not supposed to interact with that guy, he hates my guts and I hate his.» I glared into my computer screen, feeling the heat rise in my throat clicking away on my enemies pretending they all had Lance’s face.

 

«Just give him a chance.» Hunk said.

 

I gave him enough chances. He had one strike left.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Ruby landed on top of me, jumping on my stomach shouting with her cute squeaky voice for me to wake up. «Keeef, wake up! Wake up! Time for school!»

I groaned into my pillow not wanting to wake up because I knew I had to see his face again, hear his voice again. My fist hit the bed’s headboard lightly. «I’m up, I’m up.» Tired coming from my voice.

 

Ruby was still jumping on my bed, screaming to wake up. I grabbed her then pulled her in for a hug, blowing raspberries on her neck, her giggles warming my heart. I would love that kid to death, she was my whole world.

 

«Keith, here.» Shiro handed me a crisp white shirt to put on.

 

I grabbed the shirt, thanking him. Ruby stayed in my room when I closed the door to look at the shirt he wanted me to put on. My thoughts drifted to what Lance said about my outfit, and who dressed me.

 

For some reason, my hand took the shirt and flung it on to my bed. Then decided to run to my closet trying to find something that wasn’t a shirt, or a sweater or slacks. Something that didn’t scream pussy, or nerd or teacher’s pet. I was going to find that inner rocker who wanted to come out.

 

«Nope. No. No way. Ugghhh, nothing. I have nothing.» I said aggravated at my closet. All I owned were clothes Shiro made me wear. Naturally, everything was bought by him which meant I had absolutely nothing that screamed delinquent, err, rocker.

 

Ruby copied my angered state, sitting down in front of the closet mirror huffing with her arms crossed. Adorable.

 

«Want to try Papa’s room?» I tickled her, running to Adam’s closet.

 

While I rummaged through his closet, Ruby helping me by tossing all of Adam’s clothes on the floor shouting no, no, noo, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

 

«Keith, what are you doing. You aren’t dressed yet?» Adam had his hand’s on his hips shaking his head at me and Ruby. Ruby made a wide smile. «Papa, Keith needs new clothes.» She said, throwing a black sweater on the floor screaming no again.

«What do you need?» He smiled, going through his own closet trying to find something for me to wear.

 

I felt a tinge of embarrassment finding my cheeks. «I dunno, something that would make me look like a....a rocker?» I said, looking out into the hall on the lookout for Shiro.

 

«Really? Where’s this suddenly coming from?» Adam asked, looking surprised.

 

I shrugged, «I guess, I just wanted to try a different style. Like as an experiment. It’s my last year in high school, maybe I need to be more noticed.» A hand found my neck, I wasn’t sure why I wanted to try something new, but all I could hear in my head was Lance’s voice.

 

A wide toothy smile tugged at Adam’s lips. «I know just the thing.» He said, rummaging through his closet going pretty deep. «Here we are.» He flung a red and black checkered shirt at me, then a black t-shirt.

 

«Wear the shirt open with the black t-shirt under. Go find your black skinny jeans, I have an idea.» He made a shooing gesture for me to get my skinny jeans.

 

I found them all the way in the back of my own closet forgetting I even had them. Shiro hated jeans, especially the skinny kind. He had a long-ass word document written up about how much he hated skinny jeans. Not an interesting read, trust me.

 

Adam took the jeans when I handed them to him. He flung out a pocket knife from his back pocket, a wince escaping me at the sight of the sharp blade. He noticed my wince. «Sorry, Keith.» Adam made an apologetic look forgetting. He took the pants, ripping the knees with the sharp knife.

 

«Here, try on the clothes. Let me know what you think?» He smiled, putting the knife quickly away.

 

With the clothes in my arms, I went into the bathroom to try them on. My dark eyes went big with surprise when I saw the outfit on me. As my reflection caught the mirror, I noticed how my black hair looked tousled, my bangs everywhere, the long strands resting gently on the curve between my shoulder and neck. A smile quickly found my face when I looked at the outfit. The rips in the skinny jeans were perfect, complementing the rest of the outfit. I did look like a rocker, especially with my disheveled hair, or mullet as Lance called it. 

 

«Perfect. The rips at the knees was just what you needed. You suit the look, Keith. Takes me back.» Adam laughed, remembering his delinquent days. He did a lot of bad stuff that he’s still proud of today. I’ve heard a lot of stories, which still had me question him why he wanted to become a principal.

 

«Thanks. But I don’t think I have any shoes to go with this outfit, or a jacket. Would my coat fit with this?» I felt like I was on Fashion Police. Why was I so hung up on changing my outfit, this would have been solved fifteen minutes ago if I just went along with what Shiro picked out for me.

 

«Take my black boots, and my leather jacket in the hall. They’ll go perfect with your look. Man, everyone’s going to freak when they see you.» Adam looked happy, happier than usual. It made me happy, too.

 

He was already dating Shiro when Shiro took me in to live with him. I was seven then, I’m seventeen now and this is the first time I’ve felt close to Adam as a father figure. He had been trying the last ten years, but too much happened in my past that I never wanted to acknowledge him as a father. He was more like a big brother. Today though, in this moment, he felt like a father to me.

 

«Yeah.» I breathed out, giving him a warm smile. «Thank you for this, Adam. I could never go to Shiro with this, I needed you.» I hugged him.

 

«Anytime...son.» I think I heard a crack in his voice, but decided to ignore it savoring our hug.

 

«Adam!! Can you dress Ruby? I need to pack her lunch.» Shiro yelled from the bottom of the stairs.

 

«Duty calls. See you downstairs, we leave in ten.» He ruffled my bangs, running downstairs.

 

I slumped onto their bed looking at my reflection in the closet mirror. This new me was someone I felt I liked. My thoughts went to Lance again, thinking about what he would say about my new look. Would he call me a pussy now? How would Pidge and Hunk react? Suddenly, I felt like taking off the clothes, but took a deep breath in then out.

 

«Keith!? What are you wearing, you look like a delinquent. Is it that Lance boy? I mean it, I’ll call his parents and tell them to have a tighter grip on their son.» Shiro was holding Ruby’s hand ready to drive her to daycare. Seems like she was feeling better, she wore a happy smile on her face.

 

«I chose to wear this Shiro. I like it, I think it suits me.» I said confidently back to him, standing up for myself for once. He couldn’t protect me all the time.

 

Shiro made a sigh, opening the door. «I’ll see you after school, remember you have to study for that test on Friday.» He reminded me, picking Ruby up to the car.

 

«Have a nice day at daycare, Rubes. I love you.» I pulled at her cheek.

 

«Bye, Keef. Wuv you.» She waved with her little hands.

 

When they drove away, Adam made a worried look. «Don’t worry about Takeshi. He only wants to make sure you’re getting the future you deserve.»

 

«It’s a bit much at times. He knows I’m moving out once I graduate. I can take care of myself.» I crossed my arms, leaning by the window looking outside into the neighborhood.

 

«Of course you can take care of yourself, but after what happened...Takeshi just doesn’t want you to suffer anymore. He loves you.» Adam found his shoes.

 

Before he slipped on his shoes and jacket we both jumped from a loud honking outside our house. I darted back to the window dragging the curtain to the side. In the driveway was a familiar blue Ford Fiesta, and a tan boy smiling widely still honking on his horn.

 

«Can you make him stop?» Adam had his hands to his ears, a smile on his face. He was enjoying this.

 

I mirrored Shiro’s sigh when I opened the door peeking out to give Lance a death glare to stop pushing on the fucking horn. He caught my stare lifting both arms up in defeat, then he winked at me. His wink caused a small flame heating on my cheeks, fuck. I closed the door.

 

«Get going, he’s waiting.» Adam commanded pushing my backpack in my arms, opening the door. He caught Lance looking worried then caught Adam’s stare not sure how to react. Adam smiled his best smile whenever he met with new people, waving at Lance. Lance waved back, a smile back on his face.

 

«Do I have to?» I groaned, feeling like I was ten years old again when James Griffin’s mom had carpool in grade school.

 

«Yes. Now get. I’ll see you at school. Good luck.» He whispered the last part in my ear, almost like a threat. Then he pushed me out the door, hard, to get the message.

 

«Keith!?» Adam shouted before closing the door. I craned my neck towards him. «Make sure he drives the speed limit.»

 

I went around the car finding the door to the passenger side. «Hey.» I said, trying to avoid his gaze.

 

It was eerily quiet in the car. No music, no Lance talking a storm about movies. I had to see if he was alive. When my stare caught his, I cocked an eyebrow. «What?» I asked, brows furrowing now.

 

Lance made a swallowing motion, his blue eyes trailing from my face then down to my outfit. I felt my cheeks heat again forgetting that I was wearing this. I made the same swallowing motion, my nerves prickling all over my body. Seriously, why did I care so much about his opinion? It was Lance, I hated him. We just needed to get through this day, then all the afternoon tutor sessions. And in no time we’ll be done with each other.

 

 «Nothing.» He said, then smirked before he said, «Nice outfit.» He put the car in reverse pulling out of the driveway.

Chapter Text

I had no idea how to respond to Lance’s sudden comment. Was his comment supposed to make me feel good? Did it even matter what he thought about my outfit? Could he have been the sole purpose to why I even felt the need to change things up with my look?

 

I fluttered my eyelids in disbelief still trying to figure out how I wanted to play out his comment. Seriously though, why was this so important? Did I actually want Lance to like me?

 

My mind went haywire at the thought, I thought it almost short circuited for a second there before, «Sure, whatever.» came out of my mouth.

 

A low groan came out as I regretted the answer while looking out the car window on my side.

 

I was actually surprised when I noticed that Lance was driving the speed limit. My mind went to yesterday’s joyride. Sure, he was definitely going to get us both killed but that joyride was the most suspense I’d ever had during my three years in high school. It also felt kind of good to do this behind Shiro’s back knowing that he’d be furious with me if he ever found out.

 

«Soo…» I opened my mouth, Lance humming at the attention.

 

«What’s up, Kogane?» He asked, blue eyes focused on the road, one hand on the steering wheel like driving was a second nature for him.

 

«Why did you pick me up? I already had a ride….besides we're not even....» I tried to continue telling him that we weren’t friends, and that him picking me up was weird. Except I didn’t really find it that weird after some thought letting my voice go low.

 

Lance made a thinking face, his upper lip shooting to the side. «I guess I saw it as an obligation.» He smiled, proud of that answer.

 

That didn’t answer anything. How the hell was driving me to school an obligation, like I was homework or a science project. I was a human being, not an object. I will not be objectified by this jerk ass.

 

«An obligation? How so…?» I eyed him, my arms crossing in anger.

 

«Hey, don’t make that face, Kogane. I didn’t mean anything bad by it…per say.» He said, taking a hard left turn, his drifting skills in action again. I could feel a low tumble turning in my stomach.

 

I wasn’t making a face. How did he even know that the face I was making was one he’d know I usually made when I was furious? He didn’t know me.

 

«You’re the principal’s son. It’s like we’re doing each other a favour.» He started. I felt my eyebrows shoot up in curiosity, urging him to go on. This sounded interesting.

 

«Well…I’d get on the principal’s good side if I hung out with his son. Maybe he’d pay less attention to my…stunts at school.» He ventured, taking another hard turn. I felt my body sway close to him, forcing my body to stop before any contact was made.

 

«Okay…but how does this benefit me. I have to be with you, that’s not a favour.» I said grimly.

 

Lance just chuckled at the comment like what I said was a lie. It wasn’t.

 

«What!? You like hitching a ride with daddy principal?» He exclaimed.

 

I felt a slight tug in my throat at his question. Did I like riding with Adam every day? We’ve been doing this since I started high school. It was just practical. They didn’t need to use money on buying me a car. It was just a natural decision that I felt like I had no arguments against since I hated taking the bus.

 

«I guess.» I answered him, a slight hesitation finding my voice.

 

Lance was quiet when we reached a stop sign. When he started driving again he said, «I don’t believe you one second about that. Don’t you care about what the other students say about you behind your back? I’ve heard some things…» He stopped, a flash of pain finding his eyes. Why did he even care? He continued. «That you’re the school’s pet, the teachers’ golden boy. You get easily pushed around but you don’t even see it, Kogane. This is senior year! The rumors about you being a pushover will spread as soon as you get accepted into college. You deserve to be seen as your own person. Not the principal’s son.»

 

Anger found my voice now. «But this is who I am! I am the teachers’ pet. I am the school’s golden boy, I can’t change that not after it’s stuck the last three years. I don’t mind it.»

 

«Horse shit. You’re nothing, Kogane. That’s what you are if you don’t do anything about it. No one at school really notices you. They don’t see you. All they see is good grades, a quiet nerd and the principal’s son. Don’t you want to be remembered at GP as who you really are?» He asked, pretty stern with his question. I could see both his hands were gripping the steering wheel, quite hard too.

 

It baffled me that this was going on in head. Why did he care at all? He just started at GP. He was such a confusing guy.

 

«And who is that, oh great wise one? Since you seem to have all the answers…» I breathed out, noticing we were nearing the school and how hot the car became. I could feel the sweat building up on my neck. 

 

Lance took the chance to catch my stare. His blue eyes turned into the sea, drowning me. «I can’t help you there, Kogane. That’s something you’re gonna have to figure out on your own. I just thought I’d give you that little push because apparently no one else has yet. I see potential.» He smirked, his sea green eyes calming the storm that was built up inside me. 

 

«But why? Even after the harsh words I gave you yesterday about us not being friends…and that I don’t want anything to do with you? You still wiggle your way in with…with all of this!» Both my hands went up into the air gesturing to, well nothing. It was for dramatic effect.

 

The school made it’s view and Lance took a turn to find a space in the vast parking lot. He was full of surprises when his parallel parking was done so smoothly.

 

He pulled the brake, then turned to look at me. His eyes back to serious mode, they unnerved me. I sat completely still. His gaze went to my eyes then down to my outfit again. I felt like I was being judged. «Obligation.» He simply said, then smiled before he said, «And your outfit tells me something else, Kogane. Soon enough…Soon enough..» He whispered the last words when he opened his door.

 

«Lance, wait!» I shouted, my hand finding his bomber jacket to pull him back into the car. He made a low yelp at the yank but did as so, giving me a weird look.

 

«If you’re going to start giving me rides..we need to make some ground rules. Since we’re not…we’re not friends. And like I said yesterday, we don’t want anything to do with each other’s personal lives.» I said.

 

«You said that. I never said anything of the like. But okay, go on.» He sat back into the car, my gaze went to the clock, we still had twenty minutes until first bell. He was punctual.

I still had to land the bomb that I was going to be his tutor from today, but it could still wait. If we made an agreement now, then maybe him finding out I was his tutor would ease the blow.

 

«We should have a pen and paper, but whip out your phone.» I commanded. His phone was out in seconds, his look telling me to get on with this.

 

«Rule number 1: We are not friends.» I stated, we were just two dudes who had a driving agreement. I could maybe pay for gas to make this more official.

 

«Fine.» He growled, like it made him angry every time I said we weren’t friends.

 

«Rule number 2: We don’t talk to each other in class.» We had gone the first week without talking and my life was normal. As soon as we started talking to each other, all hell broke loose. I didn’t need more problems piling up on me before college.

 

«What if we get paired up on projects and stuff like that. What if we become lab partners? We’d have to talk to each other. Unless you know sign language.» He teased. I just shook my head. But I did know sign language, Shiro forced it on me when I was younger because Aunt Rosa, Adam’s sister, is deaf. But, I decided to spring that fact on him later. 

 

«Whatever, we’ll see if that happens. I doubt it though. Rule number 3: No talk, absolutely no talk of our personal lives.» I pointed out. He didn’t need to know about my life, and I didn’t need to know much about his. Not that I cared.

 

Lance cocked an eyebrow. «That sort of goes hand in hand with the no friends rule…» He did have a point there, but it was crucial to be a separate rule.

 

«Whatever. It’s its own rule. You ever want to know something personal about me, forget it.»

 

«Fine, whatever. You have a boring life anyways.» He shot out. He knew nothing.

 

«Last rule: no more bullying. No more comments on my stupid clothes, or that I’m the teachers pet or a nerd. Think about what you told me earlier about the other students saying the exact same things about me behind my back. You’re just like them.» I said, but he didn’t look sad about it.

 

«Yeah, but I’m different.» He simply said, opening his door again avoiding my gaze.

 

I opened my door following suit, but just a couple steps behind him. Not because he has long legs and walked faster. I didn’t want to be seen walking with him, completely different.

 

When we got into the school we were met with long white hair flying past us; his sinister smile turning into a blinding smirk, his icy blue eyes attacking us. Lotor.

 

He didn’t even give us two thoughts when him and his posse walked past us. He always looked good. Wearing a white crisp shirt and a deep blue blazer to complement his light brown complexion. Gods, I hated that guy.

 

«I hate that guy.» I heard Lance say at the same time as me.

 

We caught each other’s stare. I puffed out a nasally breath. «At least we agree on something.» I smiled.

 

«Who the hell does that guy think he is anyways, the president?» Lance asked as we made our way to our lockers.

 

Lance’s locker was three doors down my own. He wounded up leaning against the one next to mine while I found my books for class. «He is the president, Lance. He’s the student body president so he pretty much decides everything for the students here at GP. I’d recommend to not get on his bad side. He can be pretty evil if he wants to.»

 

«Are you serious? That jack hole decides everything here…how did he land the title anyway? Seems like someone nobody likes.» Lance crossed his arms looking begrudgingly at the blue lockers on the other side of the hall.

 

«He landed the title freshman year. He’s super persuasive, and he intimidates everyone. So every year before elections are meant to be held, he walks into all of the classrooms with his stupid Kova group and asks them personally if anyone wants to run against him. No one has had the guts yet. We haven’t had an election in three years. Kind of incredible if you ask me.» I breathed out, shutting the locker door with a low bang.

 

I caught Lance wearing a thinking stare. Was he trying to scheme something? Oh gods, I hoped not. I should have just kept my mouth shut. «Lance…don’t do anything stupid. Come on, class is starting in five.» I pulled on his dark blue shirt.

 

«Only nerds find their seats five minutes before class starts.» Lance sounded annoyed behind me.

 

But he still decided to go after me, even after the whining.

Chapter Text

English was one of my favorite classes, but only because the subject itself was interesting not who taught the class. Miss Honerva could be a stuck up, grumpy old witch, Adam's words not mine, but she knew her stuff. She was standing by the board trying to talk about metaphors used in one of the books we had to read for today. I had luckily already read the book a while ago, but a reread was much in need, and I enjoyed finding details in the book that I hadn’t noticed from my first read.

 

Miss Honerva got busy with one of the students not paying attention as a finger tapped my shoulder. I craned my neck to see a long, slender, tan finger that belonged to no one other than my new chauffeur. «What?» I said in a whispered shout, trying to see if Miss Honerva was still arguing with the student. She was, her arms waving in the air, fingers pointed to the board then the book.

 

«I’m bored.» He pouted.

 

Seriously, why did he have to always sit next to me in class? Couldn't he bug someone else for a change, he had to see me everyday anyways. Ever since yesterday, Lance has sat next to me in all of our classes. I knew he had other friends, but he was deliberately sitting next to me, and for no good reason too. I thought I made it crystal clear that we weren’t going to be friends.

 

«Not my fault. Now stop bugging me. Rule number 2, McClain.» I went back to my paper, reading through it.

 

«Okay class. Now that we’ve gone through some of the metaphors found in these chapters. I want you to go in pairs and discuss your own findings. Just pick the person next to you.» She waved her hand at us, then pointed a strict finger at the same student she argued with.

 

All the students had found their partners pretty fast. No one asked if they wanted to sit with me. I felt a spike in my chest at how right Lance’s word were becoming. I guess I was nothing. The thought dissolved when a head full of chestnut hair caught my gaze.

 

«Guess we have to break rule number 2. But rules are meant to be broken, huh?» Lance joked, readying his paper. He did the assignment. But he was a delinquent. They don’t do homework, do they? My prejudices were making their way to my thoughts, I shook them off. This wasn’t one of the subjects he needed tutoring in, but his paper could still be bad.

 

«I guess so. Let’s trade papers, read through them then compare notes. Sound good?» I asked, flinging my paper to him.

 

A large tan hand, littered with rings, took my paper. «Sure thing, poindexter.» He smirked, handing me his paper.

 

As my eyes traced his words. I looked at his hand writing, it was no doubt he was the one who wrote the poem Adam read out loud last night. A smile crept onto my face at how beautifully written the poem was. I remembered that I had pulled it out of my coat pocket and put it into Adam’s leather jacket. Not for any specific reason, I knew I couldn’t read it, but it felt like a good luck charm keeping it close.

 

The poem dissolved in my mind, and I went back to reading Lance’s paper. He had pointed out so many different metaphors used in the book. I thought I had found a lot, but he was perceptive. His writing was also really good. If I were teacher I would give him an A. This was spotless, he pointed out so many different details from the book, I felt like rereading it for a third time.

 

I had to laugh out loud. «What?» Lance asked, eyeing me at my sudden laugh.

 

«You’re a nerd.» I exclaimed.

 

I know I said no bullying, but this was the truth. Lance was definitely a nerd, an English nerd at the least. It just slipped out. «Sorry, it slipped out. It’s really good. You found a lot of great metaphors.» I waved his paper in his face, a smile tracing my lips.

 

He squinted at me, not liking the slippage. «I….Keith Kogane,» He grabbed his paper from my hand, «am not a nerd! You take that back. Remember rule number four.» He said, but a smile found his face, mirroring me.

 

«I didn’t think delinquents were nerds. You should go light a cherry bomb in the toilet before the whole school finds out.» I teased, but regretted giving him the idea.

 

Lance clapped his hands lightly, like he did a job well done. «Already beat you to it.»

 

«Wait what?» I asked, tilting my head to the side.

 

Right on cue, the speaker crinkled. I heard Adam’s voice, «Can Mr. McClain come to the principal’s office?»

 

«McClain. Get.» Miss Honvera nodded her head to the door, wearing a glum look.

 

My eyes grew big as Lance planted his hands on his desk rising to leave. He gave me a teasing smile, then winked a blue-green eye at me. He didn’t, I thought.

 

«Don’t give me that look, Kogane. At least you get some peace and quiet now.» He waved on his way out, slamming the door after him.

 

«Take a five minute break.» Miss Honerva said. The class spread out, talking to each other.

 

A couple students came to me to comment on my outfit, which caused a bigger commotion than I had anticipated because everyone surrounded me now to get a good look at my choice of wardrobe.

 

Comments like: You look great! Awesome shirt! Hey, daddy’s not dressing you anymore. Way to go!, rang in my head, but I could feel a light flutter in my heart. A pang also made it’s way to my insides since one of the reasons I changed my wardrobe was because of Lance, probably, and he wasn’t here to gloat about the praises I was getting.

 

Once everyone was finished commenting on my wardrobe, I took the opportunity to snoop in Lance's backpack. I know. Snooping is wrong, but I wanted to see if he was carrying any more of those poems. In English, preferably. I found the notebook he was writing in during detention yesterday. I flipped through it, finding pages on pages filled with scribbled words. As I flipped through, I finally found a page with English writing. It was formed like song lyrics. I saw the words ref. and vers. were used. These were song lyrics. I read through them quickly, not knowing when Lance could show up.

 

The lyrics were beautiful. It was like a melancholic love song. One that could easily be heard while looking sad out the car window like you were in a music video. I needed more. I continued flipping through the notebook and found more English lyrics. I flung my phone out and took a couple pictures of the songs he had written. Not to as leverage, maybe. But just to read them again later. I never would have taken Lance as a songwriter, but he could have fit the profession. He certainly did look the part.

 

I saw Lance’s brown head through the door’s window and rushed his notebook back in his backpack. He didn’t suspect a thing.

 

«Did you really light a cherry bomb in the toilet?» I asked, my voice shaky.

 

Lance cocked a brow, shaking his head. «Rule number three, Kogane. No interference in personal lives. So if you ask daddy principal what we talked about, I’m going to rip your fucking rules to shreds and demand a personal fact about you. Got it?» He said, scaring me almost. Sitting next to me was a true delinquent and I would not get on his bad side. I swallowed at his words, then nodded.

 

The bell rang, «See you later, Kogane. Don’t break anyone’s hearts, I could see the girls in class staring at you. Must be the outfit.» He made a thumbs up, slinging his backpack on one shoulder heading out.

Chapter Text

When the lunch bell rang, I saw Lance darting to the door, but Miss Allura beat him to it pulling him to the side. She was our history teacher, and I was positive it was about the test we were having on Friday. I decided to pack my backpack slowly to see if I could ease-drop on their conversation.

 

«Lonce. I’ve noticed you’ve been struggling with the subject. Last week’s test…» She started.

 

«Don’t worry, Lur.» Lance said. I could hear a low grunt coming from Miss Allura at the use of the nickname. She hated nicknames. She specifically said on the first day of class that she would only be called Miss Allura. Lance had an exception starting later, but still, have some respect for the teachers. 

 

«It’s Miss Allura, Lonce…What do you mean by don’t worry? Are you even studying? You got an F on last week’s test. If this continues, it’ll be bad for your GPA. I just want to make sure you know how affective this can be if you start failing early in the school year.» She sounded sad, distressed even. It was clear she was concerned for her students and that made me respect her even more as a teacher.

 

«I talked to Mr. West yesterday, Miss Allura. I’m getting a tutor today, one he recommended, and promised would help me not fail. So like I said..» He re-slung his backpack over his shoulder, «Don’t worry.» Winking on his way to the door.

 

Lance caught my stare when I pulled my own backpack on. «Kogane.» He said irritably like he knew I was ease-dropping.

 

I ignored his annoyed remark, heading to the cafeteria to find Hunk and Pidge.

 

«Keith! What’s with the new look? It…damn. It actually suits you.» Pidge smirked, attacking her grilled-cheese sandwich.

 

«Thanks, I felt a change was needed. It’s my senior year and all. I think I’m done being invisible.» I said, searching the hall for Hunk.

 

I pierced a piece of tomato in my salad that Shiro made me. The juices bursted in my mouth creating a delicious moan coming from my throat.

 

«Calm down, Kogane. I know I’m hot, but we’re at a public place. Leave your moaning for the bedroom.» I heard a familiar voice behind me, choking on the tomato.

 

«Hey, I’m Lance. Hunk invited me to sit with you guys.» Lance smiled brightly when he caught Pidge’s tiny hand.

 

«I’m Katie, but you can call me Pidge. Hunk told us last night that you’d sit with us.» She smiled back, then smirked at me because I had totally forgotten he was going to sit with us.

 

«Aren’t you going to eat anything?» I pointed out, noticing he only had a diet coke on the table in front of him.

 

«Don’t have an appetite. The smoking…» He informed, but stopped talking at my annoyed stare.

 

I didn’t want to go all mother on him, but smoking was so stupid. Shiro had made it quite clear to me when I was younger what smoking did to a person’s body. But, Lance had to make that decision on his own. If he wanted to ruin his body by smoking, be my guest. I felt sorry for whoever was kissing that mouth.

 

That lasted a whole two seconds when I said, «You have to quit. Smoking is bad for you. You know you can get cancer. It destroys your lungs, your teeth, you fingers get all yellow. You have bad breath…» Lance shot a large hand in my face before I could go on with the list.

 

His hand was warm when it hit my face. I swatted it away, making an angry glare at him. «I mean it. If you’re going to sit with us then you have to eat a decent lunch, and put away the smokes.» I said, and saw Pidge nodding along, agreeing with me. She hated the cancer sticks, too. Probably even more because her father had been diagnosed with cancer because of them, but was able to beat it in the nick of time.

 

«They’re so bad for you, man. You might think you look cool smoking them, but no one is thinking that.» Pidge said, matter of factly. Glaring at the tan boy, a striking gleam in her honey eyes when she caught his stare, her short strawberry-blonde hair bouncing like yeah, you know I'm right.

 

«Fine, fine. I’ll eat something. You guys are worse than my parents.» He mumbled getting up to buy a decent meal, his hips bumping hard to the side all sassy. Watching him getting up caused a pleasant flurry in my stomach. I took a long sip of my coke.

 

«Hey guys. Where’s Lance?» Hunk was carrying two trays with food. You would have thought it was a buffet for our table, but no, it was his lunch.

 

He started stuffing his face with his buffet when Lance came back with a tuna sandwich and an apple on the tray. «Happy?» He glared at me and Pidge.

 

«It’s a start.» She smiled.

 

«Yeah, if you’re gonna make-out with the chicas behind the bleachers, you’re gonna have to quit. Bad breath sucks when sucking face.» I said. But, I had no idea. I’d never kissed anyone before, but I could only imagine.

 

«How would you know?» Lance read my mind. I just crossed my arms ignoring his question.

 

Hunk shot in, changing the subject. «So, Lance. Do you game?» He asked, inhaling a burger.

 

«Lance doesn’t game. He’s not a nerd like us.» I interjected, stuffing the rest of my salad in my mouth.

 

Lance tilted his head all the way to the side giving me an incredulous look that said you know nothing of my personal life. That was true.

 

«I game. League? PUBG? Apex?» He listed, and I was surprised he knew some of the popular titles.

 

«Awesome, we’ll add you to our Discord later.» Hunk said happily.

 

Pidge finished her lunch and whipped out her DS ignoring our conversation. Lance’s ocean eyes twinkled at Pidge’s DS and made his way to sit next to her to discuss her game. Guess he did like gaming. I felt a hard tug in my gut like something was wrong, Lance was getting more and more involved in my personal life and it didn’t feel all that bad. It actually felt, natural. But it was still a pain in the ass.

 

«Hey, Keith.» I heard someone behind me.

 

«Ryan, hey man. Sup?» I asked. Ryan Kinkade was like one of the most popular kids here at GP, what was he doing talking to me?

 

«Just wanted to know where you got your shirt. It looked cool, I’ve trying to find one similar.» He smiled brightly, his teeth blinding me against his dark skin.

 

«I’m not sure. I borrowed it. But the tag might let us know.» I said, trying to pull the tag out, but it was more difficult than I thought.

 

«Here, don’t mind me.» Lance said, then I felt his hand on my neck causing all of the hairs on my body to rise. My eyes grew wide at the sudden touch of skin on skin, but no one reacted to me.

 

«Topman. It says here. I think they have one at the mall.» Lance smiled, his hand still resting on my bare neck. Please remove it, and quick. I could feel my whole body shiver beneath the touch. Not good.

 

«Hey thanks dude. Catch you later, Keith.» Ryan smiled. But I was too shocked to smile back since there was a tan hand still resting on my neck.

 

I took the chance to swat his hand away. «Lance! Let me know when you decide to grope me.» I yelled at him. Pidge and Hunk laughed at our bickering.

 

«So, League after school?» Hunk asked.

 

Lance rested his long legs on the table, being impolite as always. «No can do, my man. We have detention, then I have a hot date with my tutor.» Lance grinned, resting his hands behind his neck.

 

This was nothing to be proud of. Detentions are written on to your records. I made an exasperated noise, fisting a hand ready to pound the stupid tan boy.

 

«A hot date, huh. Wouldn’t be so sure about that.» Pidge teased, her honey eyes going back to her game before giving me a quick wink.

 

I made new groan.

 

«Hey, McClain.» Jimmy Connolly shouted behind our table.

 

What was it with everyone coming to our table. We were always ignored. Was Lance a fucking magnet or something? I glared at Lance to take this conversation outside the cafeteria. He ignore me, the douche.

 

«Sup, Connolly?» Lance asked, legs still perched on the table, hands still rested on his neck, not having care in the world like he owned the place.

 

«Nah, was just wondering why you were hanging out with these losers? Thought you wanted to climb up the ranks.» He sneered, his yellow teeth upsetting my stomach. How was being friends with Jimmy better than sitting with us was my question, but I kept quiet.

 

Lance’s legs fell to the floor. He dragged his sleeves up, revealing sun-kissed skin. No tattoos, my suspicions were confirmed. He stood in front of Jimmy, towering over the short punk. His arms were crossed, his forearms going muscular. He looked super intimidating, I was terrified what was going to happen next.

 

«You think hanging out with Keith, Hunk and Pidge is worse than being around you? Seriously, Connolly. I just hung around you to gather all the dirt I needed. Now that I’ve got enough, you’re no longer needed, you’re actually on the bottom now. I’ve climbed the ranks, all the way to the tippity-top. I’ve got a lot of great shit on you, right here on my phone. Now get, oh and you should quit smoking. That shit hurts your lungs, apparently.» Lance grinned at us, but his smile faltered when he took in our shocked stares.

 

Jimmy had left in an angered hurry, when Lance turned around facing our table, probably scared shitless. «What? Nobody disses who I choose to hang out with. Lancey Lance decides who is worth his time.» He pointed to himself.

 

Who the hell was this guy?

 

«What the hell was that, Lance!? You made Jimmy scared shitless. No one, and I mean no one talks smack at Jimmy Connolly.» Pidge exclaimed almost flinging her DS on the other side of the hall.

 

«Yeah. I made a comment once about his cooking in Home Ec., then it got to him, he gave me swirlies all year.» Hunk informed, reliving the painful memory.

 

«Dude, that was pretty tight.» I patted a hand on his shoulder, remembering we weren’t friends drawing my hand back.

 

Lance smirked. «First rule when starting a new school. Know who the enemies are, then you befriend them. You know the saying: Keep your friends close,»

 

«But your enemies closer. You’re a genius.» I suddenly said.

 

Lance laughed out loud, hitting my back a couple times. «I sure am, Kogane. Let my tutor know that and I might get out of it.» He smiled.

 

«So, when Jimmy took me under his wing. His words not mine.» Lance rolled his eyes. «I got all the dirty deeds I needed on him.» Lance’s legs were back on the table, but he was living on the wild side almost falling off the table. «No one messes with Lancey Lance or his friends.» He fell off the table, a loud thud coming from him.

 

We all burst out in a loud laugh, Lance’s face going red but smiling along with us. He steered a blue gaze at me. «So you do have a sense of humor under that concrete face of yours, Kogane.»

Chapter Text

Before Mr. Coran could give us any homework, the final bell rang. Everyone rushed to grab their backpacks, running out of the classroom before he assigned them any torture work.

 

«You can run, but you can’t hide.» He called at the students rushing out of the classroom, his large mustache twitching with rage.

 

«Kogane, McClain. I have some information to share with you from our very own principal.» Mr. Coran said in a voice like he was important talking with Adam of all people. He could have talked to the mailman and it’d feel the same.

 

Lance and I looked at him waiting for his information. I knew what it was about, but decided to let him tell us. «Your detention today will be happening in the library. As Mr. McClain will be tutored. Your detention session will be ongoing along with the tutor session. Use the time given wisely, no cracking jokes, no stalling. Study.» Mr. Coran eyed Lance, but smiled at me since he knew I was the tutor.

 

«Sure, sure. Tell Adam thank you very much. Do you need to chaperone us to the library or are we free to leave?» I asked sarcastically, hearing Lance snicker next to me. A smile traced my lips on their own.

 

Lance followed me out of the classroom, walking in step with me when we reached the hall. «You need tutoring too, man? Guess you’re not as smart as I thought you were. Can’t wait to meet the tutor. Adam said he was a real piece. I hope he meant it as a hot piece of cake or something, but a guy can only dream.»

 

We reached the library. It was like any other school library. Aisles on aisles of bookshelves filling the large room. Tables smacked between the shelves for students to study or read. Posters everywhere filling the walls with different book-released teasers or school-related information like homecoming coming up or the school election. I caught a poster of Lotor pointing his finger with the words: Who needs an election when you have perfection. Cringe.

 

We found a free table all the way in the back where no one could disturb us. Just the way I liked it. Lance was looking around trying to scope out our tutor. Here goes nothing.

 

«You know you were hoping for a hot piece?» I asked, he nodded vigorously.

 

«Well hate to be of disappointment.» I sat down pulling out our history books. I tried to make it as anticlimactic as possible, but Lance was Lance.

 

«You!? You’re my tutor? For fuck’s sake man. Couldn’t you have just told me yesterday instead of having me hoping for a hot piece of ass.» I made a grim look to his stupid comment.

 

«Hey, not that I’m not disappointed.» He smirked, a heat finding my cheeks.

 

«Well that’s a relief.» I said sarcastically urging him to find his books.

 

He pulled out his books, eyeing his notebook. «Did you look at my notebook, Kogane?» He asked me, holding it up in the air. 

 

The heat that found my cheeks doubled its temperature, burning me now. «W-what notebook? The one you’re holding? Never seen it in my life.» I stuttered, but tried very hard to keep my cool.

 

Lance shrugged his shoulders opening his history book, a large groan making its way out of his mouth. «Fuck, I hate history. Like, what’s the point? It’s already happened…» He leaned on the chair. I grabbed his arm and pulled him down before he landed on the floor again.

 

«History is important because it has an affect on our future. What not to do, learn about how people lived before our time. How certain figures thought, so on and so forth. It’s interesting.» I said, finding the notes for Friday’s test.

 

«Whatever you say, poindexter.» Lance said, giving our textbook the finger. Seriously, so immature.

 

I handed him a spread sheet which Miss Allura gave us that had the page numbers we had to read, and what we should study closer on. Lance groaned even louder when I handed him the paper, grabbing it half heartedly. The look on his face told me it wasn’t long until he’d rip it to shreds. I pulled it out of his hand, putting it gently on the table in front of him pointing to the first point.

 

After a while of studying, and helping him remember some important names and dates, he huffed out a low roar. «Oh my god, we need a break, Kogane. My mind is turning into mush.»

 

«Fine. ten minutes. We still have forty minutes left of detention.» I reminded him.

 

He started tapping his fingers on the table looking at nothing in particular. «Sooo, maybe we should rethink our rules.»

 

«What, why?» I furrowed my brows, putting my pencil down on the table.

 

«Because we’re going to spend even more time together. We can’t avoid getting to know each other. I think rule number three should be abolished.» He suggested, it shocked me that he knew what the word abolished meant.

 

«No, absolutely not. Even if we’re going to be spending a lot of time together, we can still avoid talking about personal things. Instead of making small talk from time to time, we’ll just focus solely on the subject. The sooner you get better, the sooner I don’t need to tutor you and we can go back to not knowing each other.» I reassured him.

 

«But we have mutual friends. Can’t avoid each other with that.» He grinned his stupid sly smile. Fuck, I hated him so much.

 

«They were my friends first. You can make new friends, don’t you have the whole school in the palm of your hand? Why do you need my friends?» I crossed my arms, sustaining from grabbing my pencil to jab his eye out.

 

«I like them. You’re stuck with me, Kogane. Don’t worry. We don’t need to be friends. We’ll just tolerate each other. Sound good?» He went back to the books, a smile finding his face.

 

«Fine. But the rules we made this morning still apply. Alright, let’s focus on some of your problem areas.» I started looking at the spread sheet.

 

«Excuse me. Lance doesn’t have any problem areas. Have you seen my face?» He interjected, bobbing his head side to side, flashing me a wide toothy smile.

 

Ignore him, ignore him, I thought.

 

We had twenty minutes left, and time was ticking slowly. Lance had lost all focus when a girl sat down across from us on the large table. He had begun flirting with her ignoring everything that had to do with the test.

 

«Lance! Can you please focus? I won’t be let off the hook if you don’t pass this fucking test. You need to get at least a C- on this test and we only have two days.» I quietly shouted at him, dragging on his shirt to look at me and not the girl.

 

He gave me an exasperated look, but I shot a hand in his face, while I looked at the girl sitting across us. «Hey, could you like go sit somewhere else? He’s not interested in you, only your body. He told me before you sat down. Do you want to be objectified by this sleeze-bag? You’re better than that.» I told the girl, my hands still fighting with Lance’s face. I heard muffled swearing under my hand.

 

The girl got up wearing an angry face at Lance, then nodded her head as a thank you to me. I smiled back but made a yelp when I felt Lance licking the back of my hand. «Gross!» I pulled my hand back, wiping it on Lance’s shirt.

 

«Thanks a lot, man. That would have been a nice afternoon snack for me, but you had to ruin it.» He crossed his arms, flinging the spread sheet on the floor. «I’m done, Kogane. No more studying today, please?» He pleaded.

 

We had ten minutes left, I guess we could call it quits today. «But you have to promise me to study more tomorrow. I’ll reward you if you know the answers to ten of the twenty questions on the sheet.» I had no idea what I was going to reward him with, but I hoped the plan worked.

 

«Okay, I want to take you shopping tomorrow if I can answer all twenty of the questions.» He negotiated.

 

«What!?» I shouted.

 

«Shhhhhh!!!» The librarian hushed us from afar.

 

«What do you mean shopping? For what?» I asked, his blue eyes pinning me in my chair.

 

«For a new wardrobe. It’s obvious what you’re wearing is borrowed. You had no idea where you got your shirt. I assume daddy principal had a hand in help with today’s upgrade.» He smiled slyly, pointing a long finger up and down at my outfit.

 

He was obviously right. I was also contemplating what to wear tomorrow, thinking today was enough change for a lifetime. Shiro would be so mad at me going against him, but he needed to know that I could take care of myself. I could make my own decisions.

 

«Deal. You get all twenty questions right, I’ll let you pick out my new wardrobe.» He grabbed my hand in agreement. Our handshake lingered as my hand took in the hard calluses of his palm. Did he play anything or work out? My mind drifted when Lance finally released our hold.

 

«Let’s get our study on, Mullet!» Lance suddenly sounded all motivated. The hell happened, our deal turned into some kind of energy boost for him.

 

«But detention was over five minutes ago. We can go home if we want to Lance.» I said, looking at my phone.

 

«How about one more hour?» Lance asked, eyes trailing the spread sheet, a serious face finding him.

 

I sent a text to Adam letting him know we would stay an extra hour. «Sure, it’s your torture not mine.» I chuckled.

Chapter Text

School flew by today. You could say it sped as fast as Lance drove this morning. I was still having having flashes from this morning of almost dying turn after turn.

 

Tutoring Lance yesterday went better than expected, but I figured it was the deal that sparked his sudden motivation to study. Adam and Shiro bombarded me with questions when Lance dropped me off by the curb of my house last night.

 

«So, did the delinquent actually do his homework?» Shiro had asked me last night. He really had no taste for Lance. It kind of aggravated me because he hadn’t even met the guy, let alone seen him. He could at least give him a chance, he didn’t have to listen to all of my hate comments. I was a teenager. I was allowed to say that I hated him, the hate we had for each other was mutual so it was okay for us to act like children. Shiro was a grown up man with a husband and two kids.

 

«Honey, Keith is a model student, and your son. I’m sure Lance got some studying in, right?» Adam asked, choosing my side.

 

For some reason, it kind of irked me how much Adam was taking Lance’s side. I really wanted to know if Lance had some dirt on him, or if they had cut some sort of deal. They were both too suspicious. Not only that, I still didn’t know why Lance was called to Adam’s office during class yesterday. I was going to get to the bottom of this.

 

They stopped asking me questions when I told them that Lance promised he was going to get a 20/20 on the spread sheet today. Shiro said he wanted evidence if that actually happened. Ruby was cute as always, but she asked questions too about Lance. Shiro’s nosiness was rubbing too hard on her.

 

Lance and I were back in the library. No detention today, thank the gods. He actually behaved in all of our classes today. He even followed rule number two; no talking in class. Although, I did miss him bugging me a bit. Class was boring when his mouth was shut.

 

«Alright, McClain. Let’s see what you got. I’ll give you thirty minutes to answer the twenty questions then I’ll correct them. If you get them all right…»

 

«When I get them all right, we leave this dump then go shopping.» He interfered.

 

I breathed out annoyingly giving him the test and a pencil turning the timer on my phone. «Now.» I said, then found my book to read in while he took the test.

 

At certain times, I stole glances at him to see if he was struggling with any of the questions. He had his tongue stuck out, his pencil flying on the paper with long answers. I cocked a brow at the detail he was putting into his answers. Maybe he wasn’t lying, or he just really wanted to go shopping. What was his deal? Shopping with me had to be the most boring thing ever. He had to have some sort of evil scheme up his sleeve.

 

«Done!» He slammed the pencil down on the table looking proud of himself when I held his test.

 

I started correcting him, making impressed sounds for each questions. I made it to question fifteen and he had answered all of them correctly till now. I was hoping he’d answered the rest correctly too, because I didn’t want to go home yet. I knew Shiro would interrogate me as soon as I walked through the door. I got to question twenty and shockingly, Lance had answered everything correctly, even with detailed answers, enough to get a passing grade at least. I made an impressed look.

 

«Thought I didn’t have it in me, Kogane. Well, booyah.  20/20.» He gestured his hands to his test, making finger guns.

 

I fished a red pen out of my back pack. Lance’s look told me he was scared that he actually got a question wrong, but I just wanted to freak him out a bit. A large 20/20 was marked in red when I handed him his test back. A wide toothy smile tugging at his lips when he took the piece of paper.

 

«Want to get out of here?» He asked.

 

«Sure. But first I need to take a picture of your test.» I whipped my phone out of my pocket, taking a picture of his test. That’ll show Shiro.

 

Lance ran for the library’s exit shouting Seeyah bitches, we’re going shopping, ignoring the librarian hushing him. I made an apologetic look her way, groaning at what an imbecile he could be.

 

*_*

 

«I look like a grunge artist. Oh my god, I look like Kurt Cobain. Shiro’s going to kill me if I come home looking like this, Lance.» I pulled the curtain open to show him the outfit he picked out for me.

 

The black jeans were full of holes. Not just the knees but everywhere, I could even feel a large hole on my butt. The t-shirt he found was long and tattered at the hem. He then found a large black leather jacket for me to try on. It did not suit me at all. Someone was bound to arrest me if they saw me on the sidewalk looking like this.

 

«Can we please go a bit more subtle. You can pull these looks off, but not me.» I pleaded, but he shook his head rapidly.

 

«Nope, you look really good, Kogane. You just can’t see it yet. The grungy look was made for you. Here try this jacket on, it might not make you look like you’re drowning in metal music.» Lance chuckled at his stupid joke.

 

He handed me a red leather jacket this time. It was smaller, and shorter. I slung it on. It fit perfectly on me, feeling snug in all the right places. I turned around to see what Lance thought, his mouth was hanging open when he met my stare. I wasn’t sure what he thought.

 

«Well?» I made a 360 degree circle.

 

Lance shut his mouth. Standing up to look around the shop for something. «Here we are. Try these, I think they’d go great with the jacket.» He smiled brightly.

 

He handed me a pair of black fingerless, leather gloves.  I shrugged and pulled them on. «Perfect. You look perfect…uhh. your outfit looks perfect.» He said, dragging me to look in the mirror.

 

The jacket and gloves were perfect. I needed them. «Dayum, I actually look pretty good.» I said, checking myself out in the mirror. It was like looking at a different person. Unbelievable how clothes can alter a person so much.

 

I turned around to face Lance. He gave me a weird stare, which I mirrored because I was thinking about doing something inappropriate but was saved.

 

«Hey guys! Woah, Keith, you look great in that jacket. You gonna get it?» Pidge and Hunk finally came. We called them to join us when we drove to the mall.

 

We both faced them forgetting the moment we had. «Yeah! Look at these gloves too. Lance found them.» I showed Pidge and Hunk.

 

I paid for the clothes we found in this shop. Lucky for me, I had a lot of birthday money saved up. The leather jacket wounded up being really expensive. What surprised me right when I was going to pay the guy at the counter, was when Lance grabbed the gloves buying them for me. I told him he didn’t need to but he insisted. I wasn’t sure how to respond or make him stop.

 

«Thanks, man…for the gloves. I’ll wear them every day.» I told Lance, feeling my stomach doing a backflip or ten. He was supposed to be my enemy, and here we were, acting like friends. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go down between us.

 

«No biggie. I saw how expensive the jacket was. Thought I’d spare you some angry daddy time at home.» He said, looking around the mall. He spotted two girls chatting by a fountain, darting to them.

 

«What’s with the grim look, Keith? You got some sweet clothes. I think Ruby’s going to love them.» Hunk said, pulling me in to his side. He followed my stare that was looking at Lance chatting up the two girls by the fountain. They were laughing now, probably at some stupid snarky comment or joke Lance said about himself. I made a new angry stare.

 

«Do I sense some jealousy, Keith?» Hunk whispered in my ear.

 

I pushed him off of me, trying to laugh off his comment. «Hell no. I hate him.» I changed the subject, «Thanks for coming today, I think we’d kill each other if you and Pidge hadn’t show. He’s always on my nerves.»

 

«Sure, on your nerves. No problem, want to get some food? I’m starving.» Hunk said, always the muncher.

 

«Lance! We’re getting food, go find Pidge, she’s probably lost in the gaming section.» I yelled at him, hoping I interrupted him talking to the annoying girls who were smiling at him.

 

«Ladies. My peers await.» He bowed like a stupid gentleman from a Jane Austin movie grabbing a small piece of paper that looked like a phone number.

 

«Come on.» I dragged Hunk with me to the food court.

 

Lance drove me home after our trip at the mall. The car ride was somewhat quiet.

 

I spoke up. «Hey. Thanks for today. Also good job on studying for the test. Do you feel ready for it tomorrow?» I asked, trying to make conversation to ease off any awkward tension.

 

«No problem. Any excuse to get out of the house. Parents can be tiring, am I right? I feel ready. Do some more studying tonight, look over your notes before I go to sleep. I think I got this. If not, you’re treating me to some consolidating ice cream.» He said, blue eyes on the road following the speed limit for once.

 

«And if you ace it?» I asked, hoping we would still go out for ice cream.

 

«Then it’s my treat.» He lightly pounded my shoulder, parking at the curb.

 

«See tomorrow morning, Lance. Please be on time, you know how punctual I like to be. Especially since we have the test first period.»

 

«All the more reason to be late, Kogane. Night. Say hi to your folks, give Shiro a punch from me.» Lance joked, zooming off when I closed the door.

 

In the house, I was met with Ruby crying a storm. «What’s going on!» I yelled through Ruby’s screaming.

 

Adam was holding her close to him, trying to give her soothing words or shushing her. He looked at me pleading for any kind of help. I wondered where Shiro was. «Takashi’s still at work, I had to pick up Ruby today.» Adam yelled while Ruby started sobbing, her crying dying down a little when she saw me.

 

Adam picking up Ruby was always a bad idea. He would take her to stores Shiro knew she shouldn’t go, like the pet store. I bet all my spent money he took her to the pet store.

 

«Adam…» I put my hands on my hips, shopping bags hitting my leg.

 

Adam’s glasses glint in the light, his brown eyes avoiding my gaze. «I didn’t think she’d go this crazy.» He admitted.

 

«I WANT A PUPPY!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!» Ruby bellowed, hitting her little hands on Adam’s chest, her crocodile tears streaming down her face.

 

I understood Adam’s situation. If my child was that cute, she would have ended up with ten puppies instead of one. Lucky for us, we had Shiro in our family, so the puppy count was at the meantime, nada.

 

«Ruby, want to see what your big brother got you?» I smiled, dropping my shopping bags to find the stuffed animal I got her.

 

Adam sighed a big sigh of relief, nodding a thank you in my direction. I pulled out a dinosaur plush that looked like a purple sparkly t-rex. Ruby was in a dinosaur phase, but she was such a girl where everything had to be either in pink or purple. Her dark brown eyes gleamed through her tears, but she wiped them quickly away when she spotted the t-rex, pushing at Adam’s chest to put her down.

 

I waved the t-rex in her direction as she ran to grab it, giving me a big hug. Some people thought we were blood-related siblings, given that her complexion was as light as my own and that we both had some hint of an Asian descent. Her a bit more so than mine as she was adopted from Korea, and my mother was half-Korean. What told us often apart was our eyes. Hers was a deep, chocolate brown while mine were more black than brown with a hint of blue in them that almost turned purple in the right lighting. I never thought of Ruby as an adoptive sister though, she was and will always be my little sister.

 

«Thank you, Keef.» She smiled widely, her cute little face melting my heart.

 

The puppy was completely forgotten when she lifted the t-rex up to her face, sparkling in the light, before pulling it in for a squishy hug. «That’ll keep her busy for the rest of the day.» Adam patted my shoulder looking down at the shopping bags.

 

«Shopping was a success? Did the guys help pick anything out?» He asked, wearing a smug face.

 

I told Adam everything, scratch that, not exactly everything but most of everything. I told him about the deal I made with Lance, that if he could land a 20/20 on his mock test, he could take me shopping. Adam thought he was hilarious when he called it a date. I threw a pillow at him pretending it was an axe to his face. A date with Lance? Come on, I’d rather sing naked in front of an audience than go on a date with that self absorbed dingus.

 

«I’m home. Adam, Ruby, Keith?» We heard Shiro from the front door.

 

Adam shot a quick glance at Ruby cuddling on the couch with her new stuffed animal. I could see the wishing that she’d focus on showing Shiro the t-rex and not talk about him taking her to the pet shop today. My mouth curled when I started gesticulating, quickly signing,:You’re screwed if she opens her mouth.

 

Adam mostly glared at me signing back, I can take care of Takashi, I married him didn’t I?

 

«What do you mean, you can take care of me? What did you?» Shiro said, catching Adam in the act of signing. He face-palmed his head trying to come up with something to tell his husband that did not include the words, pet or puppy in it.

 

Before he could open his mouth, Shiro grabbed the shopping bags I left on the floor rummaging through them without my consent. My hand shot to the bags, pulling them out of his hands, my brows furrowing annoyingly at him.

 

«What? I can’t see what you bought?» Shiro furrowed his own black brows at me, challenging me with a grim look. He was such a strict parent, I had always wondered what made him this way. Before the accident, he was always loose and cool, but now…

 

«Sorry. My hand grabbed it on its own, I think I’m just scared you’re not going to like what I bought.» I pulled out the red leather jacket, holding it up for everyone to see. Hopefully, the jacket would suffice and I could run up the stairs with the rest of my new wardrobe before Shiro went all fashion police on me.

 

Shiro made an impressed look, steering his gaze to Adam to show his appreciation to the new look I was diving into. Adam smiled back to his husband. «Put it on, Keith. We need to see how it looks on you.»

 

I felt like a little kid again. Whenever we went to the mall when I was younger, Adam and Shiro loved it when I played dress up putting on different stylish clothes. They would always fight on who had the best fashion taste, but I couldn’t be the judge of that. I was only ten at the time and clothes shopping was the most boring thing in the world. Except for today. Today was a good day, it made me want to go to the mall again and buy even more clothes, but my wallet told me otherwise. Lucky for me, my birthday was coming up.

 

The jacket felt as snug as it did when I tried it on at the mall. «You look good. Did you pick it out, or Lance?» Adam asked, then his mouth made an O shape forgetting that Shiro didn’t know I went out with Lance today. He was still pretty guarded when it came to Lance.

 

«You went shopping with that delinquent? I thought you were only tutoring him! No wonder you wounded up with a gangbanger jacket. Unacceptable.» Shiro shook his head, storming into the kitchen probably to make dinner. Cooking always calmed him down.

 

«Ignore him. He’s always overdramatic.» Like Lance, I thought, a ghost of a smile finding my face.

 

«I heard that!» Shiro yelled from the kitchen. «I heard that, too!» Ruby mimicked from the living room.

 

«Go to your room, put your clothes in the closet. I bet you got a pretty neat wardrobe that screams Keith.» Adam nodded to the stairs, grabbing my bags and giving them to me.

 

Shiro’s words were forgotten when the bags found my hand and Adam gave me a reassuring smile that he’d deal with him when he’s calmed down. We didn’t need a repeat of last night’s dinner, so tiring.

 

«Sure.» I started going up the stairs until Adam called my name again.

 

«I’m glad that you’re doing this Keith. You need to find your own person, you’ve been under Shiro’s control long enough. You’re growing up, and he can’t let that go…» Adam left for the kitchen, leaving me with his words remaining in my head.

Chapter Text

It had been almost a whole week since we took the history test. We were back in Allura’s history period and I chanced a look at Lance to see if he were nervous to get the test back. He had to get at least a C- to get a passing grade on this test. It surprised me when I had both of my fingers crossed for him. I guess I was just hoping my tutoring payed off, and that I could be off the hook sooner than expected. Still, the last week tutoring Lance had gone better than I thought it would. I want to blame it on our drives to and from school since we were able to chat a bit more with each other, getting to know each other on a more formal level. Also, I was able to tolerate him more too every time I learned a new annoying thing about him that I could divert before it happening in the future.

 

«Alright. I bet you’re all anxious to get the test back. I’ve corrected them and will hand them out to you. Rest assure most of you did a good job, some of you even shocked me. I had to take a double take that I was correcting the right test.» Miss Allura smiled brightly, holding a stack of tests in her dark hands ready to hand them out.

 

My chanced glance at Lance showed me a tan boy, sitting or better yet, slouching almost off his chair stripping a pencil with his teeth. That’s not good for his perfect white teeth, I thought but the thought disappeared when Miss Allura slapped my test on my desk, her delicate and perfectly manicured hand landing gently on my shoulder, a nod of approval finding my face.

 

The test on my desk was of no importance. All I could think about was who was going to treat who to ice cream after school today. Adam knew about the deal we made and handed me a twenty for us to spend so none of us had to treat the other, but still, if he failed I wanted to use my own money since I would genuinely feel bad for the guy. He had studied so much for the test, even landing the 20/20 on the mock test he took.

 

Miss Allura handed Lance his test. He had one eye closed, not daring to touch the piece of paper like it were a large tarantula ready to attack him. His sea-green eyes caught mine. The look was one I was used to when I tutored him, it was one of despair, a look that rarely showed up on Lance’s face but he really had to do well on this test, it had been bugging him all week. Trust me, he wouldn’t shut up about it, I had to think of something else to talk about and that was painful enough because he wanted to know how many Pokemon I was able to list up by memory. There are so many Pokemon, I could only list up like fifty from the first generation, he wasn’t impressed at all and started listing up all the Pokemon he knew of, even listing the ones from other generations. At least his mind was somewhere else at the time.

 

I shot Lance a look that said get on with it already. He smacked his lips a couple times then flipped the paper over a look of shock on his face. What did he get? What did he get??

 

What did you get!? I almost signed, but mouthed it at him, hoping Miss Allura was too busy handing out tests to catch us conversing.

 

Lance was three desks behind me. Lacey and Carol were giving us bored looks moving to the side so that we could see each other. A brilliant smile curled on Lance’s face, making my insides warm a bit. He held the paper up showing me a bright red C+ scrawled on to it. My lips mirrored his curled smile. I gave him a gloved thumbs up.

 

«Boys! Celebrate after class, we need to go through the test now.» Miss Allura said but in a gentle tone, grinning at us.

 

As soon as the bell rang, we both darted out of the classroom shoving our books in our lockers. «Looks like you have some magic in you, Mullet. You were able to make history fun. The most boring subject in the world, fun!» Lance grinned, slapping my back.

 

«Say that again, Mr McClain and I can pull that test out of your hand and fail you right here.» Miss Allura passed us, her voice terrifying Lance. He actually felt magnetized to the lockers when she walked by with a piercing look, blue eyes sparking a magenta flame.

 

«Fuck, that woman is not one to mess with.» He dragged his hair back, wiping away some invisible sweat.

 

He caught me staring at him dragging at his hair, a jolt of embarrassment passing through me as I shut my locker door a bit harder than expected. «You never learn…» I sighed, dragging on his bomber jacket to head to the car.

 

«So, your treat?» Lance grinned, his hands finding his neck satisfied with himself.

 

«That was the deal. Want me to call Pidge and Hunk too?» I asked, holding my phone.

 

Warmth tingled my fingers when Lance’s hand pushed my hand down shaking his head. «Can it just be the two of us? I feel like we haven’t been able to hang out just the two of us all week. Ever since you mentioned my driving you to and from school, Hunk and Pidge have been tailgating us being on our every move.» I arched a black brow at him, «Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love the nerds to death but, sometimes they can be a bit much…I just feel like you and me can talk about other stuff, without the dynamic duo.»

 

I tilted my head not knowing where this was coming from. Hunk and Pidge were my closest friends, we did everything together, Lance knew that. If he was going to hang out with us, he had to know that meant the whole gang. Although, I did understand what he was talking about. Our driving agreement had turned into a grade school carpool, picking up Hunk and Pidge before school too. Then there was lunch, our Discord chats and when we hung out at the mall after school. He had a fair point, there was no shaking them loose.

 

«Sure man, just the two of us. Hey, more ice cream for us.» I bumped his shoulder while sending a text to the two leeches that Lance couldn’t drive us home today because of an appointment. Lance made a thank you look my way, almost grabbing at my waist when I felt a hand grazing my hip but it quickly pulled away.

 

A tug pulled in my gut when Lance didn’t say a word on the drive over to the ice cream parlor in town. It was unlike him to keep his mouth shut. He had just passed the test, he should be ecstatic but all he looked was worried or sad, it was hard to tell, this was a new look.

 

«Hey, you okay? You passed the test, shouldn’t you be gloating or something?» I asked, catching his blue eyes in the mirror.

 

His signature smile found his face again, relief steadying my heart-rate. «Thought I’d respect our agreement by not gloating. What, you actually want me to run my mouth for once? Thought you’d be happy with my mouth glued shut for a change.» He took a hard left turn, my hand ready to pull on the handle on the car ceiling.

 

«This is your day, Lance. Gloat away, I will not complain at all. You earned it.» Wincing with regret, he began to gloat, a lot. Bragging about how smart he was and how all the chicas are going to be at their knees for him when he showed them his C+.

 

My ears were clogged up with gloating by the time Lance pulled into the parlor’s parking lot. Lance could tell his gloating had made a number on me, finally shutting up. He opened the door, keeping it open for me to get in. When we stepped inside we were met with a classic diner look. A huge ice cream counter filled with almost a hundred different flavors. Booths in pastel colors of pink, blue and mint green everywhere, surrounded by classical pictures of ice cream and pin-up models from the 40s. It was awesome.

 

Lance made his way over to the counter, leaning on the glass taking in all the different flavors to choose from. He gave the girl behind the counter a flashy smile before turning to me, «Yo, let me guess your three favorite flavors then you can do me afterwards.» He suggested, the words do me creating a hot flurry in my chest.

 

«Yeah…sure.» I said shakily, occupying a booth in a corner for us.

 

I was on my phone when I heard a thunk on the table. A small, pink see-through bowl filled with three scoops of ice cream, looking cold and delicious, rested in front of me. My mouth was watering, it had been ages since I had ice cream. Shiro would be getting chills if he knew I was eating so much sugar on a week day.

 

It was my turn to pick out three flavors, something I had to do quick before my ice cream melted. I hated when ice cream was a little bit melted, it tasted so much better when the ice cream could be bitten into not licked.

 

«Hi! What can I get you?» The blonde haired girl smiled at me, holding an ice cream scooper in her hand.

 

What kinds of flavors could Lance like? Was he a vanilla guy, or a chocolate guy? Or was he so flamboyant and unpredictable that he would go for a coffee flavor or bubble gum. A green-toned color caught my attention. Bingo.

 

«Could I get one pistachio, one mint chocolate chip and one birthday cake.» I grinned, pointing to the three different flavors behind the glass.

 

Birthday cake was my favorite flavor, which made me want to choose it for Lance so that he could taste the best ice cream flavor ever invented. The other two flavors were wild guesses, but the green color reminded me of his eyes so I went with my gut. Besides, if I chose the wrong flavors, then he could make my favorite his favorite because birthday cake ice cream was fucking delicious. If it were possible, and if Shiro didn’t maim me for it, I would live off the flavor every day.

 

«Here you are, no need to pay. Your date paid for both of them.» The girl said, the blue in her eyes twinkling, a tinge of red finding her cheeks like she found us adorable.

 

My cheeks were copying her, heat burning them. He was not my date! I wanted to shout in her face, but I was a respectable customer. Did it look like we were on a date? Should I tell her we weren’t on a date, that we actually hated each others guts and that this was just a deal we made?

 

I took the container with the ice cream in it, a large spoon sticking out of it. «Thanks.» I said, making my way back to Lance who had eaten half of my ice cream.

 

«What was the point in guessing our favorite flavors if you’re going to eat all of it!?» I slammed his bowl on the table, dragging it close to me to eat as much of it as he did my ice cream.

 

«What? I got hungry, and your ice cream was melting. I was only helping, and you were coming back with more so don’t be mad at me. Enjoy your ice cream, Mullet.» Lance took another bite of my ice cream. Teasing with me, a hum of delight coming from him when the spoon made its way into his mouth.

 

I glared at him, eating the pistachio and the mint chocolate chip scoops until there was hardly anything left. When the bowls were equal with ice cream, I made the switch. My eyes caught the flavors, Lance had chosen three scoops of vanilla. «Vanilla!? Do you think my taste buds are that boring, Lance?» I asked, but noticed one of the scoops was actually birthday cake, just now noticing the colors of the rainbow sprinkled vanilla goodness.

 

«I chose right though, huh? Vanilla bean, French vanilla and Birthday cake. I’m guessing the last one is your favorite because birthday cake is my favorite, and I have the best taste.» Lance grabbed at the bowl with ice cream I picked out for him, digging into what was left, more hums of delight coming from his throat.

 

His favorite taste was Birthday cake too? Granted, the flavor was created for everyone to love, I couldn’t be the only one who liked it. But for Lance to say it was his favorite flavor too, kind of bugged me.

 

«So, was I right, or was I right?» He asked, wiping his bowl all clean with his tongue like a kitten. Please stop.

 

A groan escaped my throat. Vanilla flavors were my favorite. Chocolate was fucking disgusting, sherbet ice creams were the epidemic to all ice cream sorts. Choosing vanilla flavors were just safe, they tasted good no matter what type you chose.

 

I savored the last spoon of Birthday cake in my mouth before I said, «Fine! Yes, you chose well. I like vanilla flavors, and Birthday Cake is my favorite flavor too. That’s why I got it for you too in case you had never tasted it before. I thought you’d find a new favorite flavor but guess we both like the same kind of ice cream.»

 

«That’ll make it easier when we have movie nights.» Lance said low, I hardly caught what he said.

 

«What?»

 

«Nothing! This was fun, let’s ask each other some other favorites.» He said, getting up to buy more ice cream.

 

I didn’t get a chance to tell him no as he quickly made his way back to the counter pointing out more ice cream he wanted to eat. In an aggravated state, I got up to stand next to him. «Go back to the booth, I’m getting enough ice cream for the both of us.» Lance said, but I waved him off pulling out my wallet with the twenty Adam gave me.

 

I handed the girl the twenty, she grabbed it with a happy face. «You guys make such a cute couple.» She commented, giving back my change.

 

«Aren’t we? It’s our one month anniversary. Babe here loves his ice cream, we had our first date here.» Lance said, pretending we were a couple dragging me close to him with his arm slung over my shoulder.

 

«The look on your face was priceless, Kogane!» Lance giggled, wiggling his way in our booth taking a new bite of our ice cream. We both got huge scoops of birthday cake, naturally.

 

It wasn’t my place to push him aside when he joked with the girl behind the counter so I had to just go along with what he told her by grabbing his hand slung over my shoulder, trying hard to look all lovey-dovey at him but I almost gagged. My whole body was shaking in rage at the moment, but it was luckily over when my tongue tasted birthday cake.

 

«Get on with your stupid questions, McClain.» I urged him. He was the one who wanted to know our different favorites. He thought it was a fun idea to see if we had any other common favorites, something I went along with since it technically didn’t violate any of the rules we made. These weren’t personal, to the amount of not talking about home at least.

 

«Let’s start with movie, mine’s Titanic but I love Night of the living dead too, I can’t choose between the two.» Lance started.

 

«Hope you mean the Romero version from 1968. Mine’s Inception.» I said, taking a large bite of my ice cream.

 

«Inception! Ooooh that’s a good one too. TV-show?»

 

«Brooklynn 99, Color?» I said, he nodded his head at me agreeing. Nothing beat that show.

 

Lance made a quick glance at my jacket when he said, his eyes turning into an iridescent blue in the parlor’s fluorescent light, «At the moment, red.» He smiled, «Yours?»

 

I stared at the specks of green floating in his irises when I said, «Easy, green.» His left brow cocked opening his mouth until I interjected with, «Game?» 

 

«Bioshock: Infinite, Elizabeth is so bae.» He said, definitely thinking about said fictional character. I couldn’t blame him.

 

«Mine’s Final Fantasy 7»

 

«Wait! Can I go back on my last answer and choose that one instead, that's such a good game! Why are you taking all of the good answers?» Lance pouted, acting like a big baby again.

 

«Because I have good taste. Don’t be glum, you have good taste too.» I air-planed a spoon full of ice cream, landing it in my mouth making a hum of delight. «Got any more?» I asked with my mouth full of ice cream.

 

Lance chuckled, «Book? I have hundreds to choose from, but I always end up rereading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.»

 

My mouth hung open, ice cream melted on my tongue. «What!? That Harry Potter knock-off that’s basically fan fiction?? I like that one too….» I confessed. Simon and Baz were awesome characters and their story was really good. The last 150 pages or so were always my favorite that I would wind up rereading them from time to time whenever I needed sustenance. 

 

«But my favorite has to be The Sun is also a Star.» I then said a bit embarrassed. It was clearly a girl’s novel, but the story gripped me from page one. I finished it in a couple hours feeling in awe with the story.

 

«That’s a good one too. How about Band or Artist? I’m obsessed with Marina at the moment. I can’t get Baby or Froot out of my head.» He almost shouted, singing at some of the lyrics to Froot.

 

His singing caught my ears making my whole spine tingle with pleasure. It was like listening to your new favorite song for the first time. He was that good, but I kept that to myself. «I don’t know. When I game, I listen to heavy metal music to get in the killing mood, but when I take a walk or study, I like listening to calmer music, more pop music like Marina or Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Vampire Weekend.» I smiled, then asked, «Favorite food?»

 

«Easy, my Abuela’s tamales. Could eat a whole truck of them.» His mouth watered a bit.

 

«Wipe your drool, McClain.» I threw a napkin at him, «Yeah, mine has to be Adam’s paella, could eat a whole house full of it.» My stomach rumbled even though we just threw two bowls of ice cream in our bodies.

 

«Let’s see…favorite scent? Could that be vanilla too?» Lance teased, but he was right, so I nodded it off letting him know it was right.

 

«I love the scent of flowers or freshly mowed grass. Anything that screams nature, like a camp fire, I love it.» He said, surprising me. I loved the outdoors too, the scent of Lavenders used to be my favorite scent, but it brought back hurtful memories whenever the scent touched my nose.

 

«I’m going to violate rule number 3 a bit. Hope that’s okay? But…your favorite memory?» Lance asked, looking out the window not wanting to catch me flip off at him for trying to invade my personal life.

 

We were in the moment, «It’s a tie between going to Disneyland when I was eleven or hearing Ruby say my name for the first time.» I smiled reliving the memory of Ruby saying Keef when she was a year old.

 

«Ooooh, online sweetheart, I get it.» Lance guessed.

 

«Nope, little sister. She’s five.» I showed him a picture on my phone of Rubes.

 

«She’s adorable! I bet you’re the best big brother ever.» Lance commented, a tinge of heat finding my cheeks.

 

«What’s yours?» I asked, turning my phone off.

 

Lance made a pained look, «Has to be cooking dinner with my Abuela. She loved having me in the kitchen, teaching me how to make different Cuban dishes while we sang our favorite songs together.» He looked at the empty bowls when he said, «She died when I was fourteen. I held her hand in the hospital before she died, promising her I’d keep on singing when she left. She was my favorite person in the whole world.» It took a lot in me to not hold his hand right then and there, but I remembered he was Lance McClain, GP’s delinquent and not my friend. My hand stood still.

 

«I’m sorry. She sounded like a great grandma.» I tried to cheer him up.

 

«It’s alright. Three years might seem like enough time to grieve, but she’ll always be a part of me. Sorry, this is getting too personal, show me another photo of Ruby. Please??» He begged and I couldn’t say no when I swiped through my gallery with pictures of my little sister.

 

«Can I ask when she was adopted?» Lance knew I had two dads, so he was probably curious about the process of adopting a kid from a different country.

 

«She was a couple months old. My dads went to Korea to get her. I remember like it was yesterday when they came home with her. They had been struggling with the process for a long time, when the agency called, they were ecstatic. She was so tiny when I held her.» The memory popped in my head.

 

«Are you adopted, Keith? Did Adam adopt you or, well since you don’t call him dad at school…» Lance’s voice went low, uncertain if he should have asked that question.

 

«My dads adopted me when I was eight. It was a hard battle. They fought in court for close to a year before the judge decided I could be adopted by them…it’s not something I like to talk about…» I told him hoping we could drop this conversation.

 

«Sure, sure. How ’bout we get some more ice cream then race each other to see who can finish it all before the other one gets a brain freeze.» Lance suggested.

 

«You’re on, McClain.» I challenged, our previous conversation completely forgotten.

Chapter Text

I was as tired as a soccer mom with six kids when first period rolled around. Ruby had been a nightmare this morning. She was crying a new storm with more kicking and screaming than before, yelling for a puppy again. I wasn’t noted about this morning’s forecast so when I made my way down the stairs, I swear my ears were bleeding at her screeching screams.

 

It wasn’t Adam’s fault this time. A kid at her daycare had told her they got a new puppy, her jealousy skyrocketing asking all evening yesterday if we could get one too. Shiro being the strict parent, took her to the living room this morning explaining to her how much work and responsibility a puppy would be. He really thought his words would make their way through to a five year old, well, think again.

 

Ruby had recently turned five, but the kid was smarter than she looked. She had a sly smirk on her face deciding on dragging me in to this fight. Ruby’s argument was that I could help her take care of the puppy because she meant that I wanted one too. Which wasn’t all wrong, but I was old enough to know that Shiro would say no on the spot. Her face was priceless when she caught my stare from the kitchen pleading for me to back her up. Why did five year olds have to look so innocent and cute?

 

Unfortunately, it was a hard no from Shiro. Adam wasn’t pleased with the outcome of Ruby becoming tens times louder than she was at first. For the first time ever, he left to go to work early. He never left early. You would have thought that the principle of a school was usually the first one to arrive, not with Adam, he always took his sweet, sweet time. Except for today that is.

 

«Rough morning?» Lance tapped my shoulder, waking me up in my drowsy state.

 

The science lab came into view when I remembered we were at school, and about to get assigned lab partners for the classic dissecting a frog project. Gag. I hated anything to do with guts, or cutting; or guts, or cutting. It creeped the hell out of me. Mrs. Holt, Pidge’s mother, was our science teacher. The resemblance to her daughter was uncanny. Pidge was like a younger, shorter human clone of Mrs. Holt, with the same strawberry blonde hair, and honey-colored eyes. With Mrs. Holt, you wouldn’t find a more passionate soul about the disgusting. Pidge on the other hand, she hated everything to do with the disgusting and avoided talking about it whenever she had the opportunity. Mrs. Holt during class though, she could talk a storm off about insides, organs, plants, bugs, diseases, yeah, you get the picture.

 

Mrs. Holt became a blur when Lance waved a brown hand in front of my face. «What?» I whispered, but remembered he had asked me about my morning, an apologetic tug reaching my mouth. «Sorry, Ruby was impossible this morning. She was screaming about wanting a puppy again. Kid never learns that no means no.»

 

«Or, she’s a genius, and begs until she finally gets one. Parents hate annoying kids. I bet there’ll be a puppy in your house within the next two weeks.» Lance proposed, lifting a perfectly arched brow.

 

«Alright class. Now that I’ve explained the process of dissection, let’s pair you up.» Mrs. Holt hummed pleasantly, finding a jar full of names in it.

 

«Bet you everything I own, and my soul that you and me are getting paired up.» Lance elbowed my stomach, a giggle leaving my mouth.

 

«What’s with all these bets? You win the lottery or something and need to spend the money on ridiculous bets. Besides, what would the chances be for us to get paired. We’re already sitting next to each other. People who already sit next to each other never get paired. Trust me on this. Although, know this McClain. Your soul will be mine for the taking, are willing to bet on it?» I wiggled my fingers like a mad scientist ready to pick his brains. A distasteful grin found my lips at the thought of picking brains, ugh, wrong choice of analogy.

 

«James and Cindy, Ryan and Laurel, Matthew and Jack, Mary and Ina, Lance and…» Both Lance and I inched our heads bit further to get a better audio of who it was, «Keith…»

 

Lance made a winning gesture with his arm when Mrs. Holt called out my name. His soul would remain un-reaped, for the meantime. All our names were finally called, and we were to go find the tools to use to dissect our froggy friends. As Mrs. Holt liked to call our dead amphibians.

 

Lance sprinted to the back of the class to find our tool kit, sprinting back in no time causing my cowlick to all whoosh. Lance’s description, not mine. «Ready to cut some toad? I feel like a witch.» He chuckled, acting like a little kid poking the dead frog on our table. «I’m Jiminy, and I died by hopping to far off the pond…» Lance voiced the dead frog thinking he was hilarious.

 

«You know Jiminiy was a cricket, not a frog. Didn’t you ever see Pinocchio?» I said, zipping open the toolkit.

 

In the toolkit, we found a scalpel, pliers, cotton swabs, tiny scissors, tweezers. My eyes squinted at the sudden glint of how sharp the scalpel looked uncapped, the sharp tip threatening to come at me. Everything around me became hazy, my body began to sway on its own, my heart-beat becoming the only thing I could hear in my head.

 

«Keith?» Lance’s hand shaking my shoulder brought me back.

 

«Sorry, I think I dozed off again.» I lied, closing the toolkit to block out the scalpel from my mind.

 

«You squeamish or something? You can cover your eyes while I do the cutting, no judging from Lancey-Lance. Scout’s honor.» Lance suggested by making the scouts honor sign, putting on a white apron and pulling on pink rubber gloves.

 

His look told me to do the same, handing me a new apron and rubber gloves. I did as told, grabbing the items to put on. My double gloved hands smacked my cheeks a couple time to help me man up. This frog was toast, or he was already dead but you get the idea.

 

«It’s alright. I got this.» I said in a cocky tone, forcing myself to grab the scalpel.

 

When my fingers gripped the scalpel’s handle, I felt bile reaching my throat. This was not the time to get squeamish or to panic. It was just a very small, very sharp knife. It could not hurt me, not when I was the one holding it, I reassured myself.

 

The memory I always forced away from my mind started to reappear as I neared the scalpel to our slimy friend’s stomach. I could see her hand raised, holding the jagged piece of glass in her hand ready to strike. The scalpel fell out of my hand, a low clang sounding close to us. «Sorry, slippery fingers.» I told the table, but Lance heard me making a low grunt to get on with it. If only he knew how hard this was for me.

 

I took a deep breath. The deepest one I took in my entire life. Lance had no idea how long it had been since I had held something this sharp in my hand, let alone be this close to something that could make an incision of some sort. My hand gripped the scalpel again. I looked at Lance to tell him that I was doing fine, this was a piece of cake. Except it wasn’t. My hand was shaking when it made its way back to the frogs’s stomach. This time I forced my hand to get closer, to make the incision, screaming in my head that I could do this. One cut, that’s all it took. Do it Keith, push it in. It went in, bile found my throat again.

 

I pushed Lance aside to run out of the classroom to find a bathroom to throw up in. The bile that urged its way up my throat was asking to come out. «Keith!?» I passed Adam on the way to the boy’s bathroom.

 

All the contents of my stomach spilled out of my mouth when I finally reached a toilet. Gag noises were coming from my throat, offering to make a new heave. So close. I was so close to facing my fear, but the memory got in the way. Her face got in the way.

 

My reflection in the bathroom mirror revealed how tired I looked. Large bags under my dark eyes, my bangs more ruffled than usual, my black sleeves were either pulled all the way down or half way up my arms. My hand went to my scar. A finger traced the rough, pink line moving from the top of my cheek, then all the way down to my neck. Pain shot through my face, almost like I was reliving the memory all over again. It felt too real. What did they call it, phantom pain? I wasn’t sure, but it felt like my cheek was being cut up all over again when I held the scalpel.

 

«Keith?» I heard two voices from the bathroom door.

 

Adam and Lance were both wearing distressed looks when they caught my eyes in the mirror. «I’m fine. Just got squeamish when the knife hit his stomach.» I said in the mirror, catching Lance’s blue eyes, electric specks of green shimmering at me with worry.

 

«Knife? Keith…are you sure you’re okay?» Adam asked, coming closer.

 

I threw the paper towel in the trash after washing my hands and mouth. «It was nothing, Adam. We were going to dissect a frog, I was doing the cut and got sick. Nothing more.» I put an emphasis on the more, shooting my brows at where Lance was standing hoping he took the hint.

 

«Right. I saw you running and got worried. Go back to class, Mrs. Holt is probably worried. I’ll see you at home.» Adam pulled me in for a typical dad hug, «We’ll talk about this later.» He whispered in my ear before releasing me.

 

«Lance you take care of my son, got it?» Adam ordered our fellow delinquent.

 

«Roger that, daddy principal.» Lance made a military salute with his brown hand, winking at Adam. Not wise to test our principal Lance, you’re on thin ice already.

 

Down the hall, Lance was looking glum, his hands resting in his jeans pockets not wanting to catch my stare while I tried to chat. «Lance, what’s wrong? Nothing serious happened. I was just squeamish.» I said, assuring him.

 

His look told me he didn’t believe me, but he had to respect our agreement, «Rule number 3, McClain. It was nothing, and if it were, no personal talk. You know that. Now suck it up, we have to go through who you want to write about for our history report. I made a nice frame for you to follow. If you choose a historical figure that they made a movie about, we can watch the movie.» I tried to steer the conversation away from my sharp objects problem. He took the bait, that flashy smile of his coming back. Thank the gods.

 

«Did they make a movie about that one hot chick, Joan something?» He had his thinking cap on. Seriously, did he know nothing about world history? Whatever went on in his head was definitely not things of the past that’s for sure.

 

«You mean, Jeanne d’Arc?»

 

«That’s the one, so?»

 

«Yeah, we can watch The Messenger with Milla Jovovich. Can I make comments about how historically inaccurate the movie is?» I asked, hoping it would cheer him up.

 

«Hell yes, Kogane. Let’s watch it at Pidge’s place they have a 75’ screen. Ooooh mama, watching a hot babe like Milla hacking and slashing non-vampires, me likey.» Lance rubbed his hands together, preparing for a feast.

 

«You’re unbelievable, you know that.» I pointed out, and not as a compliment, but guess what.

 

«Coming from you, I believe it.» He chuckled, holding the door open for me when we reached the science lab.

 

«Good, you’re back. I hope you’re alright Keith.» Mrs. Holt held back anything she knew about me, looking at Lance then back to me.

 

«I’m fine, Mrs. H. Just got squeamish is all. Lance will take care of the cutting from now on.» She smiled her calming smile whenever Pidge and I made up after a meaningless argument we always had.

 

«Yeah, Mrs. H. Keith can count on me, he just told me how unbelievable I was.» Lance’s teeth blinded the whole class when he said that out loud.

 

«You’re never gonna let that one go, are you?» I groaned.

Chapter Text

A new week sped on. My tutoring sessions with Lance this week could be compared to a seesaw. We had our up and down days. Some days Lance would be as cooperative as Ruby would be if we asked her to take a bath, or go to bed. Others, Lance would surprise me with a new feat about himself, proving how smart he really was. Because that boy is so smart, that sometimes I have to check and see if he’s faking it.

 

We both had agreed on that algebra was certainly not his thing, but calculus though, and at college level mind you, child’s play for Lance. I could give him the simplest of algebra equations and he’d be scratching his head the whole hour. Calculous on the other hand, he would solve the equations in minutes, seconds. There was a genius hidden somewhere in that obnoxious, narcissistic, self absorbed brain of his. He needed to work with something within the field of science, I had to tell him that.

 

This morning before Lance came to pick me up, I told Adam about how smart he was in calculous and if he had any recommended colleges he could apply for within the field of science. Adam held a finger to his mouth while we sat at the breakfast table, Ruby digging into her honey and oatmeal porridge, me eating a new piece of buttered toast. Still thinking, Adam’s brown eyes shined behind his glasses, «I know one, it’s close to where you want to apply. I can find the information at work and send it to your e-mail.» He said happily, digging into his own oatmeal porridge.

 

«Keef, why do you talk about Lance all the time? We haven’t even met him yet..» Ruby pouted, oatmeal stuck to the corners of her mouth.

 

I eyed the little monster, wondering what got her to ask a question like that. I didn’t talk about Lance that much, he just happened to stumble into my mind from time to time. Not my fault he had to be super smart in calculous that led me to asking this certain question.

 

«Okay, little missy. Don’t tease your big brother. Keith needs to get ready for school. Lance will be here soon right?» Adam asked, wiping away the stuck oatmeal on Ruby’s face. She made a loud unapproved noise at Adam’s wiping, swatting away the washcloth.

 

«You never know with him. Yesterday he was on the dot, today he could be ten minutes late. We have to wait for the horn.» I informed.

 

Adam made a grim look. He hated it when Lance went ballistic with his car’s horn. He was afraid the whole neighborhood would wake up and complain to Adam, something Adam found to be devastatingly irritating, talking with the neighbors. Shiro was the star of our neighborhood. Everyone loved stopping him on the street to talk. Adam on the other hand, he would run as fast as an olympic sprinter to avoid small talk with the neighbors. 

 

Right on cue, a loud honk blared into the driveway. «Lance! Its Lance!» Ruby shouted, a squeaky laugh coming out of her little mouth.

 

He was early, I thought. Earlier than he usually was. Ruby and Shiro were always gone whenever Lance showed up to pick me up, but this morning he had been almost fifteen minutes before his usual pick-up time. Ruby ran to the front door, probably wanting to finally see who she meant was always on my mind.

 

Adam picked her up, pulling her away from the door. He saved an awkward moment between delinquent and little kid who could call on the boss. We had to get out of here before Shiro was done in the bathroom.

 

«Don’t have that look, Keith. If you and Lance are going to be friends, Shiro is going to have to meet him eventually.» Adam said, holding Ruby in his arms. She nodded along to his stupid words.

 

«We’re not friends, Adam. I’m just tutoring him.» I said glumly, kissing Ruby on the cheek before opening the door to leave.

 

I trudged on my black boots and red leather jacket before I met Lance’s blue Ford Fiesta in the driveway. A sudden wave of shock found my face when I thought there was a large grizzly bear sitting in the front seat of Lance’s car. Then I remembered it was Hunk’s week to sit shot-gun. I felt a small pang of hurt in my chest when I knew it wasn’t my turn to sit up front with Lance, there was so much I wanted to talk about. One was his paper about Jeanne d’Arc. Watching the movie we talked about last week pulled off. He was able to write a decent paper about the historical figure. Given that it could have been because he was a decent writer, and his choice of words made the paper seem better than it was. The content though, could have been adjusted for the better. Still, it was a valid piece, one I think Miss Allura will pass with an alright grade. He’ll be pleased to hear that from me, I hoped.

 

Hunk’s broad smile blinded me when I made my way to the back seat of the car. When I opened the door, I took in his outfit. He was wearing his usual assorted cargo pants of natural colors, and college sweaters. Today, he had decided to go with beige pants, along with a yellow sweater that had a picture of an animated taco printed on it. Suddenly, I had the urge to eat tacos for lunch today. What caught me off guard when I caught his face was his hair. He had long black hair falling past the lobes of his ears, his bangs always hiding his dark brown eyes. Today, he had a bright orange band wrapped around his head, lifting his bangs up and away from his eyes. It suited him, making a stark contrast with his red-toned skin.

 

«Morning. Hunk, I like your band. Suits you.» I pointed to the band, the tip of my finger poking the soft fabric.

 

«Glad you noticed my impeccable fashion sense, Mullet. I had the band lying around, wanting to give it to Hunk for a while now. His long ass bangs were irritating me.» Lance patted Hunks shoulder, swerving a hard left reaching Pidge’s house.

 

«One day, man, You’re going to kill us all.» Hunk made a queasy face.

 

Lance laughed him off, honking for Pidge to get out. As stated, Pidge’s small figure darted out of her door, waving her parents goodbye. She was wearing a green knitted dress, with layers of socks covering her legs, and a warm fuzzy jeans jacket. Her glasses glinted in the morning sun when she opened the door on her side of the back seat.

 

«Morning, assholes!» She welcomed herself into the car.

 

«Alright, the gang’s all here. GP prepare to meet your doom.» Lance said every morning when he gathered the gang. I smiled at his phrase, but tried to remind myself that we still weren’t friends.

 

*_*

 

Miss Allura was arguing with a student about the historical figure assignment. We were given the period to finish them before submission, something I think Lance would be appreciative for since our past two tutor sessions didn’t turn out beneficial for him. Like I said earlier, Lance was like a seesaw when it came to our tutor sessions. Today felt like one of the down days. He had been lost in thought all throughout Miss Allura’s class. We were allowed to listen to music during class, and I knew Lance would be a goner only focusing on the music than the assignment.

 

When I turned around during class to check up on him, he had his head in the clouds, bobbing his head to the tunes he was listening to. We were both sitting by the window today. The sun was shining brightly, not a cloud in sight in the vast blue sky. The crisp cold air of September could be seen on the tips of the green grass. Lance was looking out the window, his elbow perched on his desk, head resting in his hand, looking out. His blue eyes were reflected by the sun, green specks floating about in his irises when my gaze caught his to see if he needed help finishing his assignment.

 

He pulled out his earbuds, «Sup, Mullet? You had a worried look on you. Don’t make that look too much, it’ll give you wrinkles.» The corner of his mouth lifted gently.

 

My gloved hand went to his desk, tapping on the assignment. «You need to finish it. I read it last night, it’s good but you still need to add some finishing details. Turn off the music, I can help.» I said, pushing away from my desk to turn around in my chair to face him.

 

«You sure? I thought it sucked…» His head fell down a couple inches, his chestnut colored bangs covering his blue eyes.

 

«You have an amazing writing skill, Lance. If you write anything on the side…» I stopped up, thinking about the lyrics and poetry he had written, warmth blooming in my chest and continued, «I’d love to read any of it, you know, to give some pointers. But the content is lacking in your assignment…and I think you know that.»

 

A guttural groan came from the tan boy. «History is so fucking boring.» He chided, giving the assignment a look of pure hatred.

 

«Lonce, I can hear you. One more cuss and it’s detention.» Miss Allura warned.

 

I could see it on his face that he was tempted to utter another cuss just to get on Miss Allura’s nerves, but his blue eyes met with mine. «Lay off, Mullet. I wasn’t going to say anything.» He grinned.

 

Ten minutes until the bell rang. Lance could make it if he picked up his pencil now. «Lance…» I started picking up his pencil to give it to him, but we were all interrupted when the classroom door opened, a group of sharks making their way in.

 

«Lotor..» Lance and I both uttered angrily, almost like a curse.

 

The Kova group stood planted firmly in front of the class. Their gazes all dark, grim and intimidating. It was time for the yearly speech of getting out of an election. Standing surrounded by his group, Lotor stood tall, hands planted firmly on his hips sizing up the class. His long platinum blond hair reminded me of a younger version of Lucious Malfoy, Draco’s father in Harry Potter, why not Draco, mostly because his hair rested past his chest, but he also sported a sort of old man attitude. He was wearing a new crisp white shirt tucked neatly into a pair of navy blue suit pants, a black belt in the pants’ loops, shiny black loafers and a navy blue tie to wrap up his whole look. Lance was staring daggers at him, blue eyes summoning an ocean to drown him in.

 

I caught Lance’s drowning stare to tell him to chill. Lotor was surrounded by his Kova group; Ezor, their rainbow-haired secretary, Acxa, Lotor’s favorite and second in command, Zethrid, their bodyguard, standing planted behind Lotor with her large burly arms crossed ready to fight if any one threatened their president, and finally, Narti, she was a secret, never spoke a single word, she had a look that screamed darkness. There were rumors going around the school that if you ever heard her voice, you’re life flashes before your eyes. I felt a hot flash of prickles in my fingers at the thought, shaking it off.

 

Lance called the Kova group, Lotor and his band of misfit Lesbians, but if they ever found that out he would be in for a dirty fight. The Kova group looked like they came straight out of a school anime, with their stunning looks and nicely worn uniforms of different lengths of checkered skirts and pristine, white crisp shirts. No one dared to utter a single word at them unless they were being spoken to.

 

Axca, their second in command. Her dark blue hair made a swishing motion, deep dark blue eyes pinning us with a nod to her head at Lotor to indicate that the class was ready for his speech. He cleared his throat, beaming that white sinister smile, his light brown tanned complexion creating a blinding contrast rotated our way. «Ladies, boys, darling Allura…» He smiled lovingly at our history teacher. Bile threatened to rise again in my throat after the last time it did. We didn’t know what to make of their relationship, but Miss Allura made a gagging gesture towards our student council president and waved a dark hand to get on with it already.

 

«I gather my fierce Kova group here with me today to inform you all that we near the time of elections. We all know that ever since I became president, elections have been of no necessity. You have all been well happy with me as your president and I urge you all to not nominate anyone to go against me. First of all, because its no use. I have kept this school at its top, giving it my all and more so over the course of three years. Secondly, going against me would be a fight, and a losing one too knowing that I have more than half the school already on my side to vote for me. There is no need of an election, I, Lotor von Gal will give it more than 100% as it is my senior year here at GP. Your wishes for a great school year will reach to me, and I will promise to achieve every single wish that comes into my command. So, I repeat, fellow GP students. No election this year either. Why need an election, when you have perfection.» He sounded out, his sinister white smile blinding us all anew.

 

The class was quiet when Lotor finished his stupid speech. It was the same ridiculous, over-the-top speech he made every year. No one would’ve nominated anyone if he didn’t make a speech too, we were all too terrified of his band of misfit lesbians. They had their assorted tricks up their sleeves and no one wanted to find out what they were.

 

Lotor still stood smacked between his Kova group, taking in the students’ looks, scoping out any raised hands, smiling seductively to himself. No hands. Surprise, surprise. Can he leave already, no one wants to run against a dick like you, I thought turning around to give Lance an incredulous look. When my face caught the sight of the tan boy, my eyes went up to his hand that was raised in the air.

 

«Lonce?» Miss Allura called, a tone of curiosity finding her voice.

 

The hell, was he going to nominate someone? Who? «I want to nominate Keith to run against you as student body president, Loturd.» Lance said with a proud voice, his ocean eyes finding my shocked stare. In that moment, I had lost the ability to blink. 

 

Lotor looked stunned. His mouth hung open, a sheen of sweat finding his perfect face. «How dare…Loturd? And why the hell do you nominate that nobody, he’s the principle’s son for crying out loud!» He ridiculed me in front of the class.

 

Lance’s smile blinded me but in a way of pure delight, not like Lotor’s stupid smile. «I think he’s like the future of GP. Sure, it’s his last year here too, but he could be the change that we need. He could be the person our underclassmen need to look up to for future presidents at GP.»

 

My ears were burning at Lance’s words. Me? Student body president? No fucking way, not in a million years. Who gave him the right to do this to me? I wanted this year to be quiet, calm; a year to only focus on getting into my dream college. Not run against fucking Lotor, him and his Kova group will eat me alive. Damn, that sick brown haired, blue eyed devil. I’m going to skin him alive once the motherfucking school bell rings.

 

Miss Allura made an approving hum, scoping the classroom to see if any one would second or third the nominee. They needed three people to nominate the same person to have a valid candidate. My heart hammered in my chest, praying that no one else raised their hand.

 

Ryan Kinkade raised his hand. Fuck. «I second the nominee.» He smiled warmly in my direction.

 

All hate inside of me had to quickly vanish as I gave him a fake smile back. Just as my gaze left his a third hand raised. Who was it now?

 

«I third the nominee, this could be interesting.» James Griffen’s voice sounded in the classroom, his light brown eyes cocking a challenge at me. Damn him, he was doing this to get back at me for ditching our friendship freshman year.

 

«Then it’s settled! There will be an election this year! Keith Kogane will run against Lotor von Gal. Exciting, I’ll inform Principal West this moment.» Miss Allura clapped her hands in delight at the same time as the bell finally rang.

 

Lotor clucked his tongue with hate in my direction, stomping out of the classroom with his Kova group on his tail. His dark blue eyes found mine, a rage of threats telling me to prepare for a nasty fight. I gulped, my whole body going rigid trying to take in what just happened.

 

After a moment to collect myself, I slammed my palms on Lance’s desk, my dark eyes catching his blue-green ones, «You! Come with me.» I said darkly crooking a half-gloved finger at him.

Chapter Text

Lance was heavier than I had anticipated as my gloved hand gripped his collar when we made it out to the corridor. Students were flooding the corridors, checking their lockers to find books, indecipherable voices echoing with chatter, my brain was slowly melting due to what had happened in class.

 

He nominated me for student body president. With Ryan seconding it, then James Griffen, that asshole, sealing the deal. I was going up against Lotor. After three years of peace and quiet, I get dragged into this. Fuck, there’s actually going to be an election, and I have become the main attraction. On second thought, I’ve become a freaking meal because the Kova group will turn me into their main course.

 

«Ko…gaaaane» Lance shrieked when my gloved hand was still gripping at his blue collar. He was wearing a dark blue sweater with a black vest over it, the material was cottony soft, but I didn’t have time to think about that while I dragged him out to the side of the school’s building then dragging him far, far away.

 

Strength had found its way to my arms, adrenaline shooting into my blood stream. I pushed him hard against the wall of one of the school’s buildings, pinning him to the wall, my arms trapping him. «Fuck you, McClain!» I shoved a half-gloved finger up in his face,«Why the fuck did you have to do that!? Lotor and his gang of lesbians is going to skin me alive! I’m doomed» I cowered while he was still pinned up against the wall, my gloved hands now ripping at my hair.

 

Lance took my hands to pull them down. I swatted them away, shooting my gloved hands back up to the wall, trapping him between them again so that he wouldn’t get away. «No! I’m not done with you!» I spat in his face, some spit actually hitting his cheeks.

 

He flinched when my spittle hit his cheeks, taking one of his hands to wipe away my spit, giving me an incredulous look. «Seriously? You’re actually mad? I was trying to put you in good light! We talked about this at the beginning of the school year, Keith! You need to be noticed, this is your chance!» He was smiling now, showing that he wasn’t mad at me for being mad at him. I was still mad at him, no, I was fucking furious with him. That quiet ember I was keeping calm ever since I met him was finally raging into a full on fire. 

 

My brows furrowed in a tempered anger, something that was beyond my control. «No! No! No! I’m not running against that asshole, you ruined the whole school year for me, Lance. He’s going to ridicule me, turn me into dog meat. I liked being a nobody Lance. I like being invisible. It gave me the chance to stay focused on getting into my dream college, and here you come into my life to ruin everything. Fucking everything!» I screamed, the raging fire going from red to blue in my gut. 

 

His hands had found mine again when I hadn’t realized that I was trying to punch him. As weak as I thought I was, my hand had managed to hit him clear in the jaw, a trickle of blood running down his mouth when my eyes opened up to take in his stunned face. 

 

Rage burned in his blue eyes after my fist had made contact. He pushed me away from him, my body hitting the grass on the ground. That was the last straw. I quickly got up, jumping on to his back ripping at his short brown hair. «Keith! What the fuck man! Get off! Who’s being a big baby now!?» He tried to claw at my back to get me off of him, but my legs were firmly wrapped around his hips, he wouldn’t get me off that easily.

 

He was screeching when my hands kept on pulling at his hair. Anger was filling my body, my teeth gritting, locking my jaw. He was running in circles, hoping to shake me off of him. Hell no, I was stuck to him like super glue. My feet were still curled around his waist like a little kid sitting down with their legs crossed. «I hate you! I hate you!» I kept on shouting.

 

«Keith, get off of me! Let’s talk about this!» He still screamed.

 

We were forgotten by the school. Not a single student could see us fighting. I didn’t know why, must have been because I was able to drag him as far away possible from the students of GP. We were on the far end of the school, where the delinquents usually hung out, but at the moment since the bell had rung for second period, no one was in sight to take in our embracing debacle.

 

Lance managed to grab hold of my back. He made a cheap trick by tickling me in the ribs. Damn him, that was a sore spot. My screams turned into pained laughs as my legs unwrapped themselves around his waist, his opportunity to fling me back to the ground.

 

I landed with a loud oof as I felt the impact of the grass. My back jolted in a hot pain, tears threatening to spill at the intensity of the sudden pain. «Keith!» Lance yelled at me, falling down to his knees to be at my level.

 

On the ground, I was writhing in pain. Holding on to the pained area of my back that hit the ground. It had landed on a large jagged rock when the impact hit me. Tears were burning my face, my eyes keeping closed, teeth wired shut to mask out the pain. «Adam..» I managed to force out, still crying, my jaw going back to being wired.

 

«Shit, I’m so sorry. Keith...so sorry. Let me carry you to Adam, please. You’re in pain. You were being so fussy, I had to get you off of me.» Lance tried to explained, but the pain was blinding me, my sight going blurry.

 

«Adam!» I shouted at Lance. My eyes finally opening up to catch Lance’s shocked stare.

 

With the pain still shooting in my body, I tried to suppress it by pressing my hand to my back where the rock hit it. Liquid coated my fingertips, a red color reaching my eyes when I pulled my hand back to my face.

 

«Fuck, you’re bleeding Keith.» Lance said, still on his knees not caring about the grass staining his light blue jeans. A look of pain was finding his blue eyes, splatters of green floating like crazy in his irises.

 

«We can’t get Adam..I can’t leave you alone..» I heard Lance whisper while he towered over my body, still on his knees a look of distress forming on his tan face.

 

His hands gripped the side of my body, starting to roll me on to my stomach. «Lance! What the hell are you doing, go get Adam, we need help.» I pleaded, pain still shooting while he rolled me over. Uncontrolled gasps escaped my throat while he turned me.

 

Chills ran up my spine when I felt Lance pulling my black band t-shirt up. I went with a t-shirt of my favorite heavy metal band just to irritate Shiro, now with Lance’s hand feeling up my bare back under it. «Lance!!» I screamed.

 

«Shut up, Keith. You’re hurt. I’m just going to check the wound to see if you’re cut deep.» He ordered, causing my voice to die down completely when he said the word cut.

 

My mouth shut closed, Lance’s warm hand sliding up and down my back to feel for the injury. A yelp escaped my throat when he found the wound. «Fuck, Lance..don’t touch me.»

 

«Calm yo tits, Keith. I know what I’m doing. My mom’s a nurse, she taught me a lot about how to handle wounds or cuts like these.» He assured me, using a calm and collective voice, one of his hands soothing me by stroking it gently down the side of my face. I regretted not telling him to touch me.

 

His eyes met mine, the green in his irises had calmed down, only leaving the blue of a still ocean. «It’s not deep, but we need to go find Adam. He might have to drive you to a hospital to get it checked, but it doesn’t look that serious.» Lance said, pulling me carefully up to a sitting position.

 

«Come on.» He said, gesturing to let him carry me.

 

«Hell no.» I shook my head, my black bangs coated in sweat hitting my eyes.

 

«It’s either letting me carry you or stay out here screaming in pain for everyone to see you. If you’re going to win against Lotor in the election, you can’t let everyone know what a big baby you are.» He stood tall, looming over my fragile body, fists planted firmly on his hips. 

 

«Fuck, I forgot that I was going against him now. Thanks to you.» I said in a disgusted tone.

 

«You’ll thank me later, Keith.» He said angrily, wiggling his fingers, waiting for the ok from me before he can pick me up.

 

My bottom lip jutted out in a childish pout, not liking this idea at all. I rolled my eyes at him, then nodded for him to pick me up. It was his fault to begin with that we wounded up out here fighting, landing me on the ground with a fucking rock splitting my back open.

 

A smile crept on Lance’s face when he crouched down to slide one of arms under my legs, then his other arm between my shoulder blades, careful to not bump into the wound that was cut in the middle of my back.

 

All cozied up into Lance’s grasp, I felt like a damsel in distress being rescued by a delinquent named Lance. Kill me now, I thought. 

 

The halls were quiet. Classes were still ongoing, Lance was dodging going through the halls for us to get noticed. He knew of a back door that led straight to Adam’s office. Amy, Adam’s receptionist, had a worried look on her face when she took in Lance and me in his arms.

 

«Keith! Are you alright? Your father is on the phone, but this looks serious.» She held a hand close to my face, wanting to caress it to make sure I was alright. Amy had been a close friend of the family for many years. When she was old enough to apply for a job, Adam hired her as his receptionist as soon as possible. She was really good at her job too, also she made one hell of a chocolate cake. Devil’s food cake could go kiss Amy’s chocolate cake’s ass, that’s how good it was.

 

Pain shot in my back again, a wince making way to my face when I said, «I’m fine, Amy. Just a small scratch on my back.»

 

«Actually it's a big scratch, can we just kick the door open and get daddy principal’s attention?» Lance said angrily, his hand between my shoulder blades rubbing me gently almost like he was trying to soothe me.

 

Amy ran to Adam’s door, opening it wearing a distressed look, her gaze turning to face me and Lance.

 

In the door opening, Adam was on the phone, but it quickly found the receiver when he caught me in Lance’s arms in the doorway. «Keith….what happened?» Adam rushed to us, urging Lance to bring me in to his office.

 

Adam had a two seat couch in his office, directing Lance to lay me down on the couch. He lied me down on my stomach, pulling my t-shirt up to show the wound to Adam. «The cut’s not deep, I washed it up with warm water and got most of the blood away. He needs a band-aid or something to keep the cut clean so that it doesn’t get irritated and get an infection. I thought of bringing him to the nurse’s office, but yours was closer.» Lance breathed out, grabbing a chair, dragging to close to me.

 

He sat down, letting loose a couple more breaths. Guess I was heavier than he thought. Though, I was impressed he managed to carry me all the way to Adam’s office.

 

«Looks okay. Are you alright, Keith?» Adam asked, inspecting the wound.

 

I felt as small as Ruby with Adam and Lance towering over me, discussing how to treat me. «I’m fine, it just hurts. Like a throbbing pain.» I explained, resting my head on my crossed arms, my face looking sideways. Lance shot a corner of his mouth up when he caught my bored stare.

 

«Good….now the question is, what the hell happened?» He looked at me with surprised light brown eyes, then looked at Lance.

 

Had Lance not raised his hand in class today, we could have avoided all of this. But, I decided not to put all the blame on him. This was just as much my fault as it was his. «We had a fight.»

 

Adam made a confused look, moving his face back and forth between Lance and I. «You two?» He asked, a chuckle almost escaping his throat, «But you guys fight all the time, what’s so special with this fight that made you hurt yourself?» His face went back to serious, I was scared he was going to go feral on Lance like he was the one who hurt me. He did, but it was an accident. Now, me punching him, that was all me. I was going to have to apologize to him afterwards, but having him nominate me for the election was going too far, he almost deserved being punched.

 

Lance never mentioned my punching him, giving me a pained look. «It’s my fault, Adam. I nominated Keith for the school election…» He started, but Adam interrupted him by raising a brown hand in his face.

 

«Wait, wait, wait. There’s going to be an election!? Between Keith and Lotor? Amazing..» He moved to his desk, slumping down with defeat in his chair.

 

Adam took off his glasses, dragging his hand over his face to grasp what had happened. «Let me guess. You nominated Keith, probably said some nice words about him. Then two more people nominated him which makes Keith a candidate. No wonder you guys fought. Keith hates attention, and this, Lance, this was going too far.» It was like Adam read my mind, «For Keith. For me, this is great! We haven’t had an election in over three years, this school needed some action. Not sure about Keith running against Lotor but with you on his team…things could get…interesting.» He put his glasses back on, pushing on the middle like he was an anime character.

 

Amy came in with medical supplies to bandage my wound. Lance took the supplies, giving her his best toothy grin. I could have sworn she made a blush at him, man, who couldn’t he make swoon over him.

 

As Lance started bandaging my back, Adam opened his mouth again, sounding like a parent not a principal, «Keith, Lance. You two need to apologize to each other. This fight was unnecessary. Keith you acted wrongly on your feelings, you know you need to use your words. When Shiro hears about this..»

 

«Please Adam, don’t tell Shiro. He’ll never let me leave the house or ride with Lance again.» My eyes shimmered with hurt when he caught my stare. He didn’t need to know about this. I had to prove to him that I could take care of myself.

 

Adam’s eyebrows shot up indicating that I knew what I had to do. I nodded back at him catching his unsaid words. When Lance finished bandaging me up, I finally felt well enough to sit up. I eased myself up on the couch noticing Lance’s hands wanting to help me but they stayed put.

 

Finally right side up, I steered my gaze to Lance, not wanting to meet him in the eyes when I said, «I’m sorry. I acted like a stupid kid,» Without thinking, my hand went to his jaw moving towards his lip. A finger tip brushed the small bruise, my brows furrowing with hurt when I took in the wound I inflicted on him, «and for punching you…» My hand went back to my lap, head going low waiting for him to not forgive me.

 

His hand lifted up, bumping my shoulder. My gaze caught his signature smile when he said, «No worries, man. I sort of deserved that. How was I supposed to know you’d flip out, rule number three ammiright?» He reminded me of our agreement.

 

He had a point though. My hating being the center of attention of things was not something he knew about. But, he should of got the message when I told him I liked being a nobody. His hand shot forward, «Truce?» He asked.

 

I grabbed it noticing how warm it was in my grasp, «Truce.» I nodded, blinking away any indication of tears building up in my ducts.

 

Adam coughed loudly to get our attention. «Not to interrupt your making up after a lovers quarrel. But, Keith, I want to know why it’s so bad to be a candidate? I think you would make a fine council president. GP could have a need of some fresh blood. The Kova group has ruled long enough, in my opinion.» Adam made a ridiculous face when he mentioned the Kova group. Those damn lesbians, thinking they owned the school.

 

Wasn’t it obvious to him? «I’m a nobody at this school, Adam. A nerd, the golden boy, your son…no one wants the principal’s son as their president.» I admitted, avoiding Lance’s face.

 

«That’s hogwash, you’re my kid. To me and to a lot of other people, you are not a nobody. Come on, son. I’m so sick of Lotor making all of these awful, formal decisions. He even said to me the other day that he could do a better job running this place than me. You need to tear him apart and rip him to shreds. I can’t do that, I’m the principal. It would be…unethical of me. But you two.» He pointed two fingers at me and Lance, a sly smile finding his brown face, doing that thing with his glasses again. He was such a nerd, «You two could bring the Kova group down. Down-town.»

 

«We’re leaving.» I got to my legs, dragging on Lance’s collar to follow me.

 

«I like Adam.» Lance suddenly said when we found our lockers. No wonder, they shared a lot of the same ideals, I thought. Lance was leaning on the locker next to mine, crossing his arms taking in the conversation we just had in Adam’s office.

 

We sat in Adam’s office all of third period. It was lunch now, but I felt like going home to sleep for a hundred years, but school was more important than a hole in my back.

 

«You gonna stop calling him daddy principal? By the way, why were called into his office a couple weeks ago? Do you guys have something planned against me?» I eyed him, closing my locker, flinching at the sudden pain from the wound.

 

Two thin brown brows shot up, his blue eyes flickering green when he steered his gaze away from mine. «No reason. None that concerns you. Rule number three, Kogane.» He reminded me. I was starting to regret making these stupid rules.

 

«Fine. Also tell me why you didn’t nominate yourself as a candidate, that would seem just like you.» I suggested, a look of confusion meeting his.

 

He waved two brown hands in front of my face, his face going all sheepish, his voice getting shaky. This was a new side of him I had never seen before. «No, no, no, no, no, not gonna happen. Just the thought of giving a speech in front of so many people makes want to barf. I thought if you became a candidate, I could be your man in the chair giving you all the deeds you need to win this election. With Pidge and Hunk on your team, you’ll be unbeatable! Pidge will be the brains of this plan, Hunk will be our cook, making all the delicious goods that’ll win the hearts and stomachs of everyone. And me.» His smile blinded me, I had to actually hold a gloved hand up to cover the shine. «I’ll be your words. With your pretty face, and my heartfelt words. We’ll be unbeatable, Keith. We’ll make a good team, the four of us. Let’s kick the motherfucking Kova group in the teeth.» He slung an around my shoulder dragging me to lunch to fill Pidge and Hunk in on our plan.

 

Just like that, our ridiculous fight was forgotten. Instead, some other words filled my mind, «Did you just call my face pretty?» I asked, but he laughed me off.

Chapter Text

Lunch today, was an unusual experience. Everyone at school had heard about the rumors of me going against Lotor for student body president. Word had spread fast within a time span of three periods. GP was a big school, but what surprised me more was that no one had heard about me and Lance’s fight. I was over the moon when I came into the cafeteria and all everyone could talk about was Lotor’s sour face when he made his horrible speech in the other classrooms. He must have been bummed that there was going to be an election after all. It was music to my ears.

 

In the lunch line, I was met with students from my senior class, and students from other grades. They all either patted me on the shoulder wishing me good luck in the election, or they didn’t hesitate to tell me to drop out as soon as possible since Lotor had a juicy campaign in the process ready to destroy me with his Kova group. Tell me about it, my legs were shaking at the thought of having to set up a campaign, make a grand speech to win the school over and have plenty of assorted bake sales or other events to pitch to get the students’ votes.

 

Why did I go along with this? I could have just backed out, but the look on Lance’s face would kill me, then kill him in the same process. Not only that, Adam was really good at persuading me to stay in the election. Him and his stupid choice of words. Also his stupid being my dad speech, plus he managed to drag Shiro into this and that hit a nerve in my spine.

 

I set my tray of Friday’s mac n’ cheese on the table before I carefully eased into a seat next to Lance. My wound was still shooting hot pain in my spine after my and Lance’s -little- falling out before lunch. I caught his sea-green eyes looking at my back, the green specks in his eyes were all over the place, he looked like someone had run him over with his own car.

 

«I’m fine, Lance. It doesn’t hurt.» I assured him, piercing my mac, the cheesy gooey goodness finding my mouth. I had to open my mouth to pant with the warm mac on my tongue. «Hot!» I said, hardly able to form the word since my tongue was occupied being stuck out to cool the hot mac.

 

He glanced at my shirt, giving me a weak smile. I was lucky he had a spare t-shirt in his locker for me to borrow. My black band t-shirt was stained with grass, and with dried blood on the back because of the wound. Lance and I were almost the same size, he was just a few inches taller than me, but it fit perfectly on me. It even smelled like him, like woodsmoke and spearmint. I didn’t feel the need to take it off in a while. If he forgot about it, maybe I could keep it. You know, until it was washed.

 

«Thanks for lending me your shirt.» I pulled at the white t-shirt. It had the band logo of one of his favorites; The Clash.

 

Lance finally smiled, not looking too glum anymore. Calm found my chest, and the mac found my stomach. We both looked up when we heard Pidge and Hunk entering the cafeteria, sprinting to our usual table. They were both out of breath when they found us, bent over their knees to catch their breaths.

 

Pidge opened her mouth first, still trying to catch her breath, where the hell did they run from, the sun? «Keith.» Pant, «We.» Pant, «Heard.» Wheeze, «The news. An el-ec-tion…you…against…Lotor.» She almost toppled over.

 

Hunk had been the one to topple over. He was on the floor when Pidge finally caught her breath fishing out her DS when she sat down opposite Lance and I.

 

«Hunk! Get up, that’s not sanitary.» Pidge yelled, focused on her game, waiting for me to fill them in on the news.

 

Looking down at the floor, Pidge had a point, they could have used more money keeping this place cleaner. Could that be something to promise during the election? I needed a manifesto for this tiring event. Why me? Why did Lance transfer to this school? Did someone think it would be a fun prank to interrupt my life and all of my plans?

 

«Munchkin, get off the DS if you want us to fill you in.» Lance said, stuffing his face with a BLT sandwich. Pidge glared at him with the use of the nickname she hated. He was finally eating more. Come to think of it, I couldn’t recall the last time I saw him smoking a cigarette since Pidge and I called him out about it. Could he have quit? I wouldn’t know unless I got close enough to smell his breath or taste his…I took a new bite of my mac waiting for Hunk to get up.

 

As said, Hunk got up, our whole table shaking when he found his seat next to Pidge. «I’m gonna need to get some grub before you start, Keith.»

 

«Then why did you sit down? Hurry, we only have twenty minutes to come up with a strategy plan and a slogan.» Lance hurried Hunk, getting up with him to help get his food. He’s going to need at least three trays after all that running.

 

When Lance and Hunk left to find some food, Pidge eyed me from her game. «What?» I asked, crossing my arms.

 

«Nothing. This isn’t like you.» She noted. We had been friends for a while, it was easy for her to spot these things about me.

 

I met Pidge in middle school. Her dad, Samuel Holt, became Shiro’s coworker four years ago, and she was only twelve when we met, but I would have never taken her as a twelve year old at the time even if she was small for her age, but when she opened her mouth, I wondered if someone had experimented on her, wondering if she was actually a fifty year old scientist. Don’t get me wrong, she often acted like a little kid, even today as a sophomore, but compared to Lance or Hunk, she was at least thirty years their senior mentally.

 

«What do you mean?» I asked her, nodding for her to turn off her game if she was going to chat. A thing I picked up from Shiro whenever I ignored him sitting on my phone.

 

Her DS went black. «I dunno, this. Being so…public. It’s not like you. We’ve known each other for four years, and you’ve always told me how much you hated it when people noticed you. Then this happens. I’m curious, Keith. Are you trying to impress Lance or something?» She asked, and I choked on my mac from her question, coughing for my life.

 

«What!? Why do I want to impress that dimwit?» I exclaimed, but before she could open her mouth, the rest of our pack made it back to our table. Pidge left our conversation, her DS lighting up again.

 

«Who wants to impress who? Lancey-Lance loves it when others want to show themselves off for him. Means I have a shot to plant some smooches on them. So who’s the lucky chica?» He set one of Hunk’s - four! - trays on the table, rubbing his tan hands against each other ready for some action.

 

«No one! I was just asking Keith why in the world he was going to run against Lotor for student body president. He can just pull out of it, I don’t think it’s a problem.» Pidge gestured a concerned hand towards me, a smile finding her face, her glasses glinting in the light. Was she up to something? She was pulling some sort of reverse psychology on me, I know it. She would love the attention, and the chance to put her creative skills and her big mouth to action. Also, her smarts could have a fine play in this election. Nuh-uh, she wanted me to step into this election, almost as much as Lance.

 

«Because Lotor’s a dick and needs to be put into his rightful place.» I said matter of factly. Lance nodding with me, his hand finding my shoulder supporting his decision of nominating me. I still hated him for nominating me, but in the end, I had to go along with this. It would be social suicide if I dropped out of it now that the whole school knew about it.

 

«Let’s talk strategy. Hunk you get bake sales, you make A-mazing baked goods. We can win a lot of students’ stomachs over with your cooking. Pidge, you’ll be the brains of this campaign, figuring out the numbers and what we should focus mostly on at this school. Money, expenses, new things or a bigger budget for clubs, figure it out.» Hunk and Pidge nodded at him, then at each other. They were pumped.

 

«Keith, you’re the face of this campaign.» Lance stated.

 

«No duh- you nominated me.» I pointed out, rolling my eyes at him.

 

«Oh yeah, I’m just too excited to get started. We’re gonna need to make posters, find a slogan, take pictures of your pretty face.» His blue eyes sparkled, literally glittered like Ruby’s plush dinosaur when he mentioned taking pictures of me. What went on in that dingus’ brain?

 

«Pictures!? What, why?» I asked, picturing myself trying to be a model, but failing miserably.

 

«For the posters. We’re gonna need a headshot of you, and maybe a couple body shots. We’ll make three different posters. I’m thinking for a slogan: Keith.» He spread his hands above his face, motioning them down to each his side like forming a circle with his hands when he said my name, like he had discovered a new piece of land. His eyes met mine when he then said, «The future.» A wicked grin finding his lips as he said the words, making the hair’s on my neck rise sky high.

 

The future? How am I going to be the future of GP? He was thinking too hard on this, but I couldn’t disappoint him. He wouldn’t let it off, bound to make my life a miserable hell if I didn’t cooperate with him. «Sounds good, Lance. Who’s going to take pictures of me? You? With your phone?» I suggested, wishing to get this over with. We didn’t have long to get this campaign up, the election was less than a month away, thanks to Lotor dragging it out as far as possible. We had too much to do. Seriously, I did not have time for this.

 

«Sure, I can take pics of you. Oh! I have an idea, let’s go to that arcade you talked about after school. We can get some pics of you beating all the games. We’ll take a pic with you having a high-score, then use a slogan like: Keith, never loses. Will beat any boss for you.» Lance did the same motion with his hands again, it looked pretty stupid but his idea was cool. I took his waving hands and put them back in his lap. 

 

«Sounds good. Arcade after school? Pidge, Hunk?» My head went from one to the other. They both grinned, high-fiving each other. We loved going to the arcade.

 

«Gross, Hunk! Wipe your hands, they’re full of ketchup.» Pidge made a loud groan, wiping her tiny hands of ketchup on a napkin.

 

«Then it’s settled, Team Voltron, ready for action! We’re gonna win this election!» Lance stretched his arm out, making a fist in the middle of our table.

 

«Voltron? What the hell is that? Some kind of space alien group thingy you saw from a movie or a tv-show?» I asked, thinking the name sounded ridiculous but kind of bad-ass too. Maybe we did have a chance?

 

«What? Lotor has his stupid Kova group, we need a name too.» Lance mocked the name.

 

«But, Voltron? Why not something like Olkarion, and we can be the Olkaries.» Pidge suggested.

 

«How about, the mighty Balmera group. I like the ring of that name, can’t we call our campaign that instead?» Hunk beamed at the name he came up with.

 

Lance kept on shaking his head. He was putting his foot down on this, we all heard the stomp of his black Doc Marten boot under the table. «I got us into this mess, I’m choosing the name. Team Voltron ready for action!» He shouted in the hall, smiling brightly.

 

I stuck a gloved fist in the middle of the table, touching the tan knuckles of Lance’s fisted hand, noticing the golden rings glinting in the light. Pidge huffed out an exasperated breath at the name, sticking her own pink-skinned hand to ours. Lastly, Hunk ate up his fries, licking the salt from his fingers before throwing his own fist towards the ring of fists.

 

«When I say Vol- you guys say Tron!» Lance yelled, students from around our table were staring at us with smiles or weird grimaces on their faces.

 

«Come on, my game isn’t paused!» Pidge urged, a growl leaving her tiny mouth.

 

«VOL!» Lance yelled.

 

«TRON! / VOLTRON!» Pidge and Hunk yelled correctly. I on the other hand, was met with an angry blue gaze next to me.

 

«What?» I lifted my gloved hands up to my shoulders, shooting my black eyebrows up at him. I did exactly as he said, why the look of frustration. This boy, sometimes he makes me want to wring his long, brown neck. 

 

«You were supposed to say TRON! Keith, not Voltron…what’s the point of having a chant if you can’t do it correctly...» Lance was wearing a frustrated face at my shouting the wrong word.

 

«Seriously? You’re being overdramatic because I chanted wrongly…fine, let’s do it again.» I said, looking at the table for our friends to join in again, but Pidge was gone without a trace. Next to her, Hunk had been piling his trays, tapping on his bright orange wrist watch showing us the time.

 

The bell was going to ring in two minutes, we had to be quick. I stuck my gloved fist out to Lance, giving him a challenging grin. «When I say Vol…»

 

«You say tron.» He completed, mirroring my grin, his hand making a new fist stretching it out to touch my gloved fist.

 

«Vol-!» He started,

 

«tron!» We boomed our fists in the air like a bomb.

Chapter Text

On the drive to the arcade, Pidge, Hunk and Lance wouldn’t be quiet about our campaign. Ideas after ideas were flooding from left and right, front to back. It came to my head just then that I really did have great friends, and an okay delinquent backing me up on this disaster. If everything went according to plan, and the photos turned out well, we could actually pull this off. I might have a chance of winning, and against Lotor of all people.

 

Hunk was still up front since it was still his shot-gun week. I couldn’t see Lance’s face since I was sitting right behind his seat, but at times I was able to chance a glance at him in the car mirror smacked between them up front. Every time a blue gaze met with my stare, a glint of green glowed giving me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Next to me, Pidge was busy playing on her DS. Lucky girl. If my face didn’t follow the road once while driving, my stomach would make tumbles threatening with bile to rise in my throat. Having car sickness sucked.

 

«Keith! How you feeling? You still up for taking pics?» Lance said in front of me, taking a turn into the arcade’s parking lot.

 

A long pole with a bright pink neon sign with the words «Game On: Arcade» glowed with bright blue letters. Next to the sign was a large gray two story building, the arcade itself. It also doubled as a jungle gym for children and as a restaurant.

 

I took in the arcade in front of us when Lance asked me his question. He could have referred to my car sickness, but I knew he was thinking about my back. «I’m fine, dude. Let’s do this.» I patted his shoulder when he died the car. Besides, I was wearing a dark blue buttoned shirt and my red leather jacket over the wound, I think that would be patting enough. Also, I really wanted to hang at the arcade with my team. With team Voltron. A smiled tugged on my lips at the name.

 

As I mentioned earlier, Pidge could act like a little kid if she wanted to. Now was her time to shine. She loved the arcade, it was her second favorite place to be besides her room on her computer. Gaming was her life, I’m positive she’ll become some kind of games developer or graphic designer in the field of gaming in the future. It was her destiny, in my opinion anyways.

 

She was running at full speed ahead towards the building, Hunk panting behind her. «You go here often?» Lance asked, hands rested behind his head, casually walking towards the building.

 

He left his jacket in the car, maybe he had a warm body? His bright blue skinny jeans looked snug in all the right places on his long legs. Jealousy always enraptured my mind whenever I took in his wardrobe. He knew exactly how to dress himself, and I always had to bite back any words of praise to him because all hell would break loose if he knew I liked his style.

 

«Yeah, we’re regulars. Go here at least once a week. Shiro complains that I use too much of my allowance on this place, but it’s like my sanctuary. I like going here whenever I don’t feel like being treated like a little kid at home. Shiro has a tendency to always have something to complain about me when I come home from school. Either it's my grades not being straight As or my choice of friends.» I looked at Lance, trying not to make it obvious that he was one of said choices.

 

He rolled his blue-green eyes, a chuckle escaping his throat. «Sure. I get it. I have my own sanctuary too, cept it’s more of an outdoorsy place.»

 

«That why you smell like a camp fire sometimes?» I blurted, not thinking straight.

 

Lance laughed again, looking up at the bright blue sky. «Yeah. The great outdoors. Fresh air, the smell of woodsmoke and flowers. I love it. Always calms me down on my darkest days.» He admitted, a sad face tugging on his cheeks.

 

His words made me curious. What was going on in his head? Did he have problems at home too? It would make his delinquency much more sense. There had to be something that made him this angry at the school. He was well aware of how smart he was, he nailed his English paper, and our upcoming algebra test shouldn’t be a problem anymore. If there was one person in the world who had dedication, it was Lance McClain.

 

We finally reached the arcade’s entrance. Lance held the door open for me, a smile tugged on his lips when I passed him. Inside we were met with an enormous room full of different games, pinball machines, old and new video games. Stuck to one wall were row after row with Just Dance machines, the old type and the newer type where the pads you danced on turned into colors when you stomped to the correct patterns. On a different side you saw three large basketball hoop machines, and next to them was the classic Jurassic Park arcade game, shaped like a vehicle from the movie where you go inside of it, pretending you’re actually part of the movie, and next to it was a zombie shooting game that resembled Resident Evil with two guns stuck into the game. We were definitely playing that one. I needed to see if Lance was a good shot.

 

When you passed the arcade section, you would find a window covering the whole wall. Past the window were kids running everywhere climbing, sliding, jumping all over the jungle gym. «This place is huge.» Lance tried to take in the whole place, but there was just too much to cover.

 

Granted, anyone’s first time at this place could feel a bit overwhelming. But with Lance, his blue eyes turned into a brilliant green, and a bright wide smile plastered on to his face while he ran around to check out the different games this place withheld. You would have thought he found the X on a treasure map.

 

«We’ve hit gold, Captain.» Lance teased when he ran back to me, grabbing my hand to pull me to the zombie game. «We need to play this one first before we take any pictures. I loooove shooting games, I’m so good at it!» He complemented himself. Such a brag.

 

We went behind the curtain, grabbing each our own arcade gun. I grabbed the blue one, Lance the red one. We both looked at our guns, brows furrowed. Lance caught my stare and nodded. We switched. Red was my color, blue was definitely his. «Let’s get this zombie-slaughtering party started.» He said, but made a surprised face when he took in the high-score board glowing on the large screen.

 

«Are you effin’ kidding me? You, Kogane? You have the high-score on this game!» His look of surprise flashed into a look of determination.

 

«Sure do. There’ll be more surprises to come.» I teased. Just you wait, I thought. I had almost every high-score in this building.

 

«You’re on, Kogane. They don’t call me the sharpshooter for nothing. Prepare to meet your demise.» Lance held his gun up, ready to slaughter some zombies.

 

«Who the hell calls you the sharpshooter, the invisible chicas I see everywhere?» I tried to unnerve him, waiting for the numbers on the game to count down to one.

 

The game started, and zombies started pouring from every corner. I was too focused on my own shooting skills that I hadn’t realized that we past my own high-score within minutes. Lance was amazing. He was lost in the game, his shooting skills going from novice to top notch in seconds. I died after a while, stuffing my red gun in the game holster. Lance was still at it, shooting from left to right, taking out zombies I hadn’t even noticed in the game. One was coming straight at him, but he took it out in the blink of an eye. When he reached a difficult level, one that required both players usually, his character was toppled from head to toe with zombies, finally calling it quits.

 

Shock found my face. He more than doubled my score. «Holy shit! You really are the sharpshooter, that was amazing, Lance!» Both of my hands found his shoulders, shaking him side to side.

 

Lance beamed at my sudden loud praise, drawing Pidge and Hunk to find us behind the zombie game’s curtain. «There you guys are…oh my god. Lance you beat Keith’s high-score!?» Pidge slapped him proudly on the back. «I’ve been trying to defeat him for years.»

 

«They don’t call me the sharpshooter for nothing. Come on, we need to take pics, then after that, Kogane. I’m taking down every high-score you got at this place. Consider me from this day forward..» He pointed a brown finger to me then at himself, a blinding smile tugged on his face. «Your rival.» His words sent chills down my spine.

«Stand by the Pac-Man machine and have a happy look on your face while you play the game.» Lance instructed, pulling his phone out from his back pocket.

 

«Why Pac-Man?» Pidge asked, directing her gaze to all the other games he could choose from. «Like why not one of the newer games? He could play Street Fighter, or race the Mario Kart games!» She started pointing to the other games.

 

«Or! Or!» Hunk was clapping his hands in a frenzy, «He can play air-hockey with one of us, then we can photoshop Lotor on the other side being beat.»

 

«That’s actually not a bad idea.» Lance smiled, «We can do that afterwards. Pac-Man is like the classic arcade game. I want Keith playing it, letting his fellow students know that he cares about everyone, since Pac-Man is a game everyone enjoys. Get it?» He held his phone ready to take a pic of me.

 

His reason was a good one. I agreed on that while I put a quarter in the game, a gloved hand grabbing the yellow-balled joystick. The screen lit up with the high scores. The words KitKat shined in blue lettering at the top of board. My usual screen name if I couldn’t use more than six letters. Lance recognized the name since I used the same handle on our Discord chat. He told me he always had the urge to eat Kit-Kats whenever he saw my handle, complaining he’d get fat and acne because of me.

 

I shook off the thought, playing the game while Lance took photos of me. He was shouting encouraging words at me, like you can do it, Keefy! Go,go,go Samurai! or my least favorite; Come on Kitten, get that mouse! Seriously, do I look like an innocent kitten? Every time he said the word, my heart always did a small leap, I couldn’t understand why.

 

Pac-Man finally succumbed to the cute ghosts. «How did they turn out?» I asked, turning around to catch Lance zooming in on my face on his phone. «Lance!» I shouted loudly in his ear, the music from the speakers going deaf to him.

 

«Huh, oh! This one turned out great, your smile looks good here.» He zoomed in more on my smile. My cuspids looked like fangs, almost like a vampire. I looked like I was having fun, and that I was ready to take out someone’s life. Gaming was a dangerous hobby.

 

«Hey guys! It’s getting kind of late. My mom is coming to pick me and Hunk up. We’ll chat on the Cord, maybe hang out tomorrow?» Pidge said, with Hunk on her tail when they came back from the ticket counter. They had been playing skeeball for the last half hour collecting tickets. Pidge always collected prizes from this place even if they were cheap-ass plastic things, but they gave her joy so I couldn’t complain.

 

«Sure thing, say hi to Mrs. H from us. We’ll be a bit longer, since curfew isn’t until 10pm. Thank god for the weekends, ammiright Kitten?» Lance shot out his stupid nickname for me.

 

I slapped his back in anger, a bit hard too probably as payback for splitting open my back earlier today. «Stop calling me that, I’m not your pet.»

 

Pidge and Hunk waved us goodbye when they opened the door, being met by sunlight. We still had some time to play before we needed to eat something. I checked my phone, neither Adam nor Shiro had called or texted. I’m sure that they knew I was with the guys. Besides, I turn 18 in a month, I was old enough to be on my own. They didn’t need to observe my every move. It wasn’t like I was going behind their backs with a boyfriend and having sex.

 

«What do you want to play next?» Lance asked when the dynamic duo left.

 

«Jurassic Park? It’s been a while. We need two people to play.» I pointed to the car.

I followed after him when he made his way over, long legs walking stride after stride, a look of pleasure finding his face. In the car, Lance took the driver’s seat, and I sat in the passenger seat. Natural selection, I guess. We both pushed a quarter each into the game, the music going louder in the speakers around us. The car was sealed shut on both our sides, like we were in some kind of simulation, but it was just the doors closed on our sides, we could get out if we wanted to.

 

«You ready to drive away from some dinosaurs? Got your weapon ready, Kitten?» He teased using my nickname again.

 

I held the plastic weapon up to his face. «Call me Kitten again, and this will give a new bloody lip.» I threatened, but regretted my choice of words. I still felt bad for punching him earlier today, lowering my weapon in defeat. «Sorry…I didn’t mean it like that.» I said, looking at the small bruise forming on the lower corner of his lip.

 

Lance waved me off, sitting up to get ready when the game started. «No biggie, Kogane. Come on, start shooting!» He screamed, turning on the wheel.

 

The car boomed with noises of dinosaurs stampeding after us on the screen, then the car tilted on its own to one side turning the game into some kind of 4D experience. My whole body tilted to one side, inching close to Lance, my elbow grazing his. After a while, we got way too into the game when I tried to get on my feet in the car, aiming at dinosaur after dinosaur screaming «Die, evil scum! We need to survive!» What I didn’t notice was when the car tilted again, jolting me, then making me lose my footing. I fell to the side and landed in Lance’s lap.

 

His hands left the wheel, causing our game to end in a game over. It was fun while it lasted, but I didn’t have time to think about that being in Lance’s lap and everything. This was my chance though. I wasn’t thinking when I decided to sit up and wrap my legs around him, really sitting on his lap now. His face went completely red at my sudden closeness, and at the sudden warm touch of my body on top of his.

 

«Keith, what are you…uhh..what’s up? If you wanted to sit on my lap, all you had to do was ask. I would have said y—» I grabbed at his jaw, pulling it close to my nose. His voice was muffled beneath my hold of his chin. My finger dug into his mouth trying to open it up. He did as silently requested, opening his mouth. I leaned in, sniffing a couple times. The smell of spearmint wafted in my nose, but no hint of a smell of cigarettes.

 

His mouth shut close when I let go, now dragging at the hem of his t-shirt. «KEITH! What has come over you? You want me that bad?» He squirmed beneath me as I lifted his t-shirt up, not thinking about his bare body beneath it. My eyes caught smooth, darkly tanned skin and a very finely toned stomach. I gulped at the look, then had to divert my gaze as I found what I was looking for. A nicotine patch. He was quitting. The thought put a bright smile on my face, as I peeled off of his lap.

 

«What was that all about?» He asked, pulling his t-shirt back down hiding his toned stomach.

 

«I noticed you weren’t smoking anymore. Had to see if my thoughts were right.» I winked, actually winked at him. This guy was rubbing off on me.

 

«Oh…» He sounded disappointed for some reason.

 

«Come on, we still have some head-shots left, right? You want to get some pics of my pretty face on your phone, right? I get to choose which one you can set as your wallpaper.» I joked, but his whole face beamed brightly at the suggestion.

 

«Hell yes, I’m down for that!» Lance shouted, getting out of the car, yelling for me to follow him in the arcade.

Chapter Text

During breakfast the next morning, Shiro was all up in my ass asking questions after questions about the election. It should have made me happy since he was ecstatic of the news, telling me how good this was going to look on my last applications. They had to be sent within the end of October if I wanted an early admission, so this happening at the last minute was perfect timing, in Shiro’s opinion.

 

Ruby was eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, something only Shiro admitted on Saturdays. Her smiling face when she took a bite of a spoonful of only the marshmallows warmed my heart. She was so adorable. Lance has to meet her soon, I thought.

 

«What are you thinking about, Keith? You look like someone handed you a bowl of your favorite mac and cheese.» Adam noted, grabbing the pot, pouring himself a hot cup of coffee.

 

«No one.» I quickly said, scrunching my nose at the use of one and not thing. Damn, they’re going to ask me things again. Parents were tiring, quoting Lance.

 

«No one? So you were thinking about someone. Does our Keith have a crush on someone?» Adam teased, tickling Ruby next to him, a loud giggle leaving her mouth.

 

«Sweety, you know Keith doesn’t have time for a romantic life. He needs to focus on the election, then getting into college. He can find a boyfriend when he graduates. Besides, since when does Keith even think about love, we both know he’s always flustered when we mention it.» Shiro says, handing me a bowl of my own Lucky Charms. Saturdays were the best, except when your parents discussed your love life.

 

Fine, I’d never had a love life before. But I did have crushes. I remember in freshman year, I had a huge crush on Ryan Kinkade, our very own Mr. Popular, but everyone had a crush on him. When Adam found out, he was dropping hints around Ryan every time he spotted him. It was a nightmare. From that point on, I decided to never, ever tell them about my crushes ever again. Especially if it was someone from school. Adam was unpredictable, and with him around the school, who knew what stupid plans he had concocted in that stupid dad brain of his.

 

Shiro on the other hand, was the more calmer supportive parent. When I officially came out to them last year, he did everything he could to make me feel comfortable about my sexual preference. He was bisexual, and told me stories of how he was treated by his parents when he came out. He promised he would be as supportive as possible, not being like his own parents who sort of disowned him when he got together with Adam.

 

«It was nothing, okay! I was just thinking about something funny Lance told me yesterday. So let’s just forget about it.» I said, taking a large spoonful of marshmallows.

 

«You’ve been hanging out with him a lot lately, thought you were only tutoring him.» Shiro asked, wiping Ruby’s face. His look didn’t show any hint of concern, I think he was warming up to the idea of me being around Lance more and more.

 

«Well he is running the campaign with me, so I’m gonna have to be around him. Look, he took this photo of me yesterday at the arcade.» I smiled, showing Shiro the photo, «He’s going to turn it into a poster with a slogan and everything.» I beamed, picturing the poster and how Lance is going to make it look.

 

«You look great here, Keith. You guys were going to the movies later, right?» Adam said from behind Shiro looking at the photo.

 

«Yeah, we’re going to see the new zombie flick that’s screening. Lance loves horror movies.» I stated, making a face at my dads who were now looking at each other with knowing looks.

 

«What?» I asked, getting up to go find an outfit for later.

 

«No one.» They both said in mocking tones, giving each other a loving smile. «No one!» Ruby copied them, spilling milk all over the table.

 

«Rubes, what did we tell you not to play with your food!» Adam argued with her.

 

«Then buy me a puppy!» She negotiated, spilling more milk an evil laugh leaving her cute mouth.

 

*_*

 

I heard a loud honking outside our house, throwing the book I was reading on the couch to grab my coat and pull on my shoes. Adam stood at the top of stairs looking down at me. He was smiling brightly giving me a thumbs up, weird. Shiro was resting on one of the lazy-boy recliners in the living room jolting awake at my sudden rushing to the door.

 

«No later than 10, Keith! Have fun, don’t put too much melted butter on your popcorn. That stuff is not good for your body.» Shiro called from the recliner, urging for Ruby cuddle with him.

 

Ruby ran past me, gripping her t-rex plush, whom she dubbed the name, Sir Lance. Adam blamed me when she gave it the name since all I ever talked about was Lance, in Adam’s opinion. I remembered scoffing at him at the mention, since when did I ever talk about Lance? «Don’t worry, I’ll come home after the movie. See ya, love you guys.» I called, getting out of the house.

 

«Ready for some zombie action, Kitten?» Lance said happily from the driver’s seat.

 

«What did I say about the nickname, Lance?» I groaned, choosing a song for us to listen to.

 

Lance pulled out of the driveway, waving to Ruby from the window. «She’s adorable. You ever talk to her about me?» He asked, driving towards Pidge’s place.

 

This was probably not the time to tell him about Sir Lance. Instead, I said, «Yeah, I’ve talked about you. Ruby knows who you are, she’s dying to meet you. Maybe we can invite you over for dinner one night. Or you can come over to just…I dunno…hang?» I tried to say nonchalantly, but my nerves were bubbling up in my throat making my voice sound all shaky, and jittery.

 

All I could hear in the car was the sound of the song I put on. Lance was eerily quiet again. Sometimes I wondered what he was thinking about. If he had a crush on anyone, or if he only made out or had sex with random people. Did he want a committed relationship in the future? Did he like boys? My cheeks heated at the last thought, shaking it quickly away from my mind.

 

«Sounds like a plan. Whenever you have a free evening and need a dining companion, I’ll be your man.» He finally spoke up, pointing a golden ringed finger at himself before pulling in to Pidge’s driveway.

 

After picking up Hunk after we got Pidge, Lance zoomed to the movie theatre. In the car, the gang chatted about the movie, if it was going to be scary or gory enough to Lance’s satisfaction at least. I hated guts with a passion, something Lance knew after our little dissection debacle a week back. Wanting to watch this movie was all his fault. He wouldn’t shut up about it all week, it was making me go crazy until I said I would watch it with him as long as I could cover my eyes without him making fun of me. He took my hand that day saying it was a deal, and that he would protect me if needed. I pushed him away after that comment.

«You can still back out, Kogane.» Lance said, parking the car outside the movie theatre.

 

Pidge and Hunk made oooooh sounds after Lance’s challenge. No way was I going to chicken out. I opened the door, pulling my leather jacket on tighter trying to show him how serious I was. «We’ll see who screams the loudest, McClain.» I said, getting out.

 

We had to pass a dark alley on the way to the movie theatre’s entrance. Pidge thought she heard a rustle from the alley, but when we turned our attention to the dark slot between the two buildings, there wasn’t a sound to be made. Could have been a gust of wind moving a piece of trash. Hunk was suddenly scared at Pidge’s observation, cowering behind Lance. Guess we know who’s going to scream the loudest during the movie. He could sit on the far end.

 

In the theatre, Lance went in first on our row, followed by me, then Pidge and lastly, Hunk. Lance had bought a huge bucket of popcorn, drenching it in melted butter, just the way I liked it. Pidge had a packet of Maltese's, and Hunk got what he always got; all the treats possible. He had a large soda, with a bucket of popcorn and a whole bunch of assorted candies. Hopefully, he’ll be too wrapped up in eating than watching the scary zombies tear people limb from limb apart.

 

As the lights dimmed, Lance leaned in, «Scared, Kogane? You can still make a run for it before the zombies catch up.» He took a large handful of popcorn, stuffing his face.

 

My hand attacked the bucket when I said, «Pay attention to the movie, McClain.»  Eating the popcorn, trying to not get scared of all the guts already flying around in the opening scene.

 

Halfway through the movie, my hands had found my face. Just like any scaredy cat, I was watching the movie through my fingers, hoping to avoid seeing more guts or brains flying. Next to me, Pidge was making punches at the screen, enjoying the movie. Next to her, Hunk was mirroring me, tears running down his face, he was not enjoying this at all. Then there was Lance on my other side, he was holding a popped kernel of popcorn close to his mouth, but was too focused on the movie to put it in his mouth.

 

I shoved his shoulder with my own shoulder, he jolted at the touch, dropping his popcorn looking at me with big blue-green eyes. «Come on, Keith. This is like the best part! You’re tougher than this, you wore your tough-guy outfit for the occasion.» Lance whispered in my ear, grabbing my left hand in his, pulling it down to the arm rest, pinning it there.

 

He was right though. I went for my favorite black and red checkered shirt tonight, pairing it with my black skinny jeans and boots. Lance went with a whole other look. He was wearing a white and light blue baseball sweater and regular blue jeans, he even traded out his Doc Martens with white sneakers. I don’t know what came over him to dress down his own tough guy outfits, but he could wear anything.

 

Just as my hand found the arm rest, a zombie ran straight to one of the characters in the movie, ripping her throat to shreds, blood gushing everywhere. Why did I go along with this? My right hand was trying to cover both my eyes, but I had to see, looking through my fingers again. Almost at the end of the movie, my heart-rate had found a steady pacing. Due to the movie almost ending, or Lance’s warm hand still resting on top of mine on the arm rest, beats me, the movie was thankfully almost done.

 

The end credits finally rolled on the screen, a breath of relief making its way out of my lungs. Those were the worst two hours of my life, was what I thought it was going to be, but having Lance next to me made the movie feel less scary. We were still seated, stretching or talking about the movie and my gaze went down to the arm rest between Lance and I.

 

«Scary movie?» Lance asked, not noticing that his hand was still gripping mine.

 

I made a couple coughs so that he could get the picture, moving my eyes down to the arm rest. «Oh, sorry. I wasn’t aware that my hand…the movie was so good that…» He tried to talk his way out of him practically holding my hand throughout the second half of the movie.

 

I waved him off, finally moving my hand away from under his. «No worries, you were too sucked into the movie. Come on, it’s getting late. I promised Shiro I’d come home after the movie.»

 

Outside the theatre, the moon shined brightly, accompanied by splatters of stars everywhere reminding me of the splatters of green specks in Lance’s blue eyes. «Gorgeous.» I commented on the night sky, aware that Lance was standing next to me.

 

He had his hands tucked into his blue bomber jacket, a gentle smile tugged onto his face directed to me when I commented on the sky. «Yeah, absolutely gorgeous.» I heard him agreeing with me, but his face wasn’t looking up at the sky.

 

I could feel a tinge of heat rising to my cheeks in the cold night air. «Let’s go.»

 

Pidge walked in front, Hunk, Lance and I behind her talking about the movie. We started to walk past the dark alleyway until we heard loud noises, and a yelp from an animal. «You guys. Those boys are hurting that poor little dog.» Pidge was leaned against the wall to the alleyway hoping the three boys, who looked like seniors from a different school, didn’t catch on to us.

 

When we peeked into the alley, we caught the three boys kicking at the poor little creature. Laughing, and calling it names. Next to me, I could see Lance getting ready for a fight. I pulled on his shirt to stop him but it was no use. His sleeves were pulled up, and his face told me to back the hell off. He wasn’t letting anyone abuse the poor dog.

 

«Lance! Don’t!» We all half-shouted after him while he made his way to the three boys, preparing for a fight.

Chapter Text

He went in. That browned haired, blue-eyed devil went into the alley, to beat up the boys harassing the poor dog, unbelievable. Pidge, Hunk and I, all stood cramped into each other smacked to the alley’s wall trying to take in what Lance had planned on doing to the boys. My gaze went to Hunk who was biting his fingernails recklessly, then there was Pidge itching to join in on the fight. Lucky for her, I was holding her back, my hand grabbing at the back of the collar of her green hoodie. She would be dog-meat if she joined Lance.

 

Lance looked like a superhero when he stepped up to the three senior boys, wearing his hands like fists on his hips. «Seriously, harassing a dog? Now that’s low, even for me.» We heard Lance tell off the boys.

 

«He’s going to die, Keith…We need to do something.» Hunk was pleading to me, both his big dark brown hands gripping tightly to my shoulders. That guy, he was as large as bear and could have easily taken out those three boys, but no, he was cowering behind my small stature.

 

«Quiet. I want to see where Lance is going with this. Surely he won’t beat those guys up. It’s three to one.» I reassured Hunk while making a quiet shushing noise at him. His legs were trembling behind me.

 

«We should go help him. I can take the little one. Keith you hold the tall one, then Lance can punch him right in the kisser.» Pidge made a new fist towards the wall like she did during the movie. Who knew she had it in her. Like a helpless parent, I had to hold on to both kids next to me. One hand gripping Pidge’s hoodie, and the other patting Hunk’s shoulder to calm him down. A low sigh released my mouth then my gaze went back to Lance.

 

The three boys started sizing him up. The tall one as Pidge had noted not long ago, was holding the pup. It looked terrified in the boy’s arms hoping we could save it soon. No worries, I thought, Lance had to have some kind of plan in his head. So much went on in that self-absorbed dingus’ brain that he had to be able to save a helpless dog without turning this into a deleted scene from Kill Bill.

 

I could feel my hands start to tremble at the thought of Lance getting beat up. Picturing his body lying on the ground, his face bruised badly and cut up from their punches, imagining hurtful whimpers escaping his body. He couldn’t go through with that, it would be too much to bare for a small dog. I had to step in.

 

My legs moved on their own. First I let go of Pidge’s hood, then my other hand released Hunk’s shoulder. I leaned on to the corner of the alley’s wall like a character from Assassin’s Creed trying to sneak my way into the alley without being noticed. Lance quickly craned his neck, waving a brown hand at me to stay put. Fine, I’ll do as told but if the boys decide to jump him, I’m jumping in too. Four fists were better than two.

 

«What’s the deal, homie?» Tall boy said with a Mexican accent. He had the same complexion as Lance but he looked more, thuggish. His comrades didn’t look any better. Seriously though, they all tree looked like comical bad boys from a bad low budget teen movie.

 

«Ain’t got no deal, bro. Just want the dog, it looks like it’s had enough from you.» Lance said gesturing his hand towards the pup looking beat up in tall boy’s arms.

 

«This your mutt, homie? I’m sorry, should’ve beat it up a bit more then.» Tall boy laughed looking at his two comrades for support.

 

Lance shook his head in disbelief, and at that moment that was when the dog decided to bite tall boy’s hand. He shrieked at the bite dropping the dog on the ground for him to run away. Unfortunately, the dog didn’t run far. He coward behind one of the theatre’s garbage cans. The shortest of the boys tried to make his way over to the dog, but that was when Lance yelled, «Ey! Look at your friend’s jeans, his fly is wide open! Man, I can see right home, I feel bad for the ladies, ese.»

 

Funnily enough, that got their attention. The dog was forgotten for a mili-second. While their faces where turned to their tall comrade, who was looking down at his own fly, Lance took the opportunity to bolt for the dog, grabbing it then running at light speed past me, then past Pidge and Hunk screaming, «TO THE CAR, NOW!!!!» We did as ordered by the tan boy who was running like he was being chased by flesh-eating zombies.

 

When the three boys noticed Lance had lied and tricked them, they bolted after us almost gaining in on us. This was my time to shine, and thank Shiro later if we got out of this alive. Pidge was running beside me giving a look that said what now? they’re gaining on us. I smiled at her mouthing Shiro in her direction. She must have understood my plan when she grinned back nodding her head in approval then grabbing Hunk’s arm to get him to run faster towards Lance’s car.

 

Looking behind me while I ran, I spotted the three boys gaining in on me. When their leader spotted my stare, I shouted, «You guys come any closer to us we’ll recognize your faces. My dad’s a cop! He’ll find you, then it’s bye, bye back alleys for you.» I hoped to the gods that that would do it, and believable enough, it did.

 

The three boys stopped running when I mentioned that my dad was cop. If they chose to believe me was on their own accords, one that would be the right choice to make. I was the last one to make it to the car, Hunk panting for his life, Pidge jumping up and down shouting how exciting that was and lastly Lance, holding one hand on the hood of the car and the other keeping the pup safe in the crook of his arm.

 

«Where are they?» Lance asked, not showing any indication of loss of breath. Lucky bastard.

 

«I got them to stop chasing us. Let’s just say two of our dads are of the law, so they would be, toast. And we’d remember their faces so I could get Adam to draw them up. So, if we got caught and beat up, they would still face the law. Lucky for us, we didn’t need to get beat up.» I said, trying to open up the locked car door hoping Lance was taking the hint.

 

«Yeah, good job Keith. Now can we leave before they actually don’t care about being taken by the law.» Hunk rushed us, his eyes brimming with tears in his ducts.

 

Lance, still holding the pup in one had, fished his keys out of his bomber jacket pocket unlocking the car. When I got in the passenger seat up front, forgetting that Hunk had shot-gun but it was a force of habit to sit up front with Lance, not my fault, he handed me the pup. I had no idea what to do with it except hold it close to my stomach, cradling it in my arms.

 

«It’s not gonna bite you, Keith. Look at him, he’s so cute, yes he is.» Lance said while baby-talking the pup, ruffling his fur. I made a small giggle at the ridiculous face Lance was making at the dog while cuddling with it.

 

«So, what do we do with the dog?» Pidge asked from the back seat already booting up her DS.

 

It was a good question. We all stayed quiet in the car for a couple minutes before Lance suddenly jolted in his seat rushing to put on his seatbelt and start the car. He flung an arm around my seat to look back while he backed out of the parking lot. His blue-green eyes caught mine, his green specks sending a panic to my heart. I don’t know what it was, but when I saw Lance going towards those boys to save the dog had made my heart beat rapidly all the way up until now, I just hadn’t noticed the panic in my heart till his eyes caught mine in this moment.

 

«I saw them coming this way. We should get out of here. How about a park for the dog to run around in while we discuss what to do with it?» Lance suggested, not moving the car, his blue-green gaze still focused on my stare.

 

«Great idea, I can run into a pet store and buy a leash and a treat for it.» Hunk suggested, his large hand finding the pup’s head. The pup made a happy bark from all the attention it was getting. I felt grateful to Lance now taking the chance and showing the courage to stand up to those three guys, even if he did luck out from a cheap trick like making them believe the boy’s fly was open. Classic, I thought. It was like the scene came right out of a movie which suited Lance, well, since he loved watching movies.

 

We got to a park nearby my house. Hunk and Pidge darted to the closest pet store with a twenty in their hands from my allowance. I felt I had to step up too so I happily obliged with buying the leash and treat for the poor pup. While they were in the store, Lance and I found a vacant picnic table to sit on, pup resting soundly on Lance’s lap. A smile tugged at my lips at the sight.

 

«You weren’t really thinking on beating those boys up, were you?» I asked, petting the dog who was now sleeping off the hurt the boys had inflicted on him.

 

«I don’t know. When I saw how scared the poor dog was I felt a sudden rage inside of me. He was so weak, and they were three big boys who didn’t care about it. I felt the need to step up and save it like I was meant to do something.» Lance admitted, a weak smile finding his face. «But I could have easily kicked their asses. You missed out on a good show, Kogane.» He then said having to get some brag out there.

 

«I’m glad you didn’t got that far. I wouldn’t like it if you were kicked out of school for beating up three low lives. You’re better than that.» I suddenly said still petting the dog my eyes tipping up to meet a shimmer of green specks floating in an ocean.

 

«Why? Would you miss me?» Lance asked, not looking at my face but down at the dog’s resting body moving gently up and down.

 

He’d be shocked, but yeah, I would have missed him, a lot. He had become an important part of my everyday school life. School would be incredibly boring without him there. Sure, I had Pidge and Hunk but I could only see them so much during school. With Lance, we had every single class together, we had become a package deal in class. His laugh was something I expected to hear everyday, it would just be weird not hearing his laugh or hear him make a comment about how awesome he is or how he can get all the chicas. I felt a sudden heat burning my cheeks, like someone was pinching them for eternity.

 

Fine, it was still his fault that I had to run against Lotor in the school election, but at the same time, being nominated to run against him spiced up our school life. Something was finally happening at GP for once, and it was because of Lance, because of his often stupid decisions, but they were decisions that seemed well thought out, but yeah, not really. I still hated him with a fiery passion for doing this to me, but he would just have to buy me a truck full of Birthday cake ice cream to make up for what he did. Especially if I wind up losing the election, he would have to treat me to something big, and I mean ice cream every day forever, big.

 

«Keith? You there?» Lance waved a brown hand in my face, waking me from my sudden thoughts of him. The burn in my cheeks were still warm when I caught his tan face, blue eyes pinning me. I suddenly felt a constriction in my throat like someone was pouring water down it making it hard to form words.

 

«Uhh, sorry. My mind was wandering. But yeah, if you had been suspended I’d have to hitch a ride with Adam again. Don’t want that.» I lied, everything I thought about in the span of ten seconds ago stayed with me it would weird him out if I told him any of that.

 

«Yeah, sure. I get it. Hey Keith, at the movies. You never pulled your hand aw—» His voiced was deafened when we heard Pidge and Hunk running towards us in the distance with a blue leash in Pidge’s hand and a large bag full of treats in Hunk’s. Well, there were treats for the dog and Hunk. He had bought himself a big bag of skittles while the dog was given bacon bites. Our new little friend woke up immediately when Hunk ripped open the packet of bacon bites, a loud bark of happiness coming from the cute creature.

 

Looking closely at our furry friend, it looked like a small wolf-hound. It was hard to figure out its breed, but I wanted to say it was more of a mix breed of husky and wolf. I would have to ask Shiro about that since he surprisingly enough knew a lot about dog breeds, something he had to know about working at a large precinct with different breeds of dogs roaming around when they were needed.

 

My hand went back to the pup’s head, petting him while he bit into his bacon bite. Its fur was a dark gray and black color, with small patches of snowy white fur on his chest and back. It was a beautiful looking dog, if you looked past the scruffiness and how dirty he was. When it caught my own stare I was awestruck by how blue its eyes were. We were talking bluer than Lance’s, I felt mesmerized by the dog’s eyes, I felt the need to give him a big hug.

 

«Does he have any owners?» Pidge asked, pulling a collar over its head then attaching the leash to the collar. The dog jumped off of Lance’s lap running around the park while Pidge held the long leash a wide smile finding her petite face.

 

«He looks pretty beat up. And scrawny like he hasn’t had a decent meal in a long while. If he had owners we would have seen flyers around the neighborhood and in town.» Lance suggested, crossing his legs and arms staring at the happy dog running around the park chasing other dogs.

 

«How do we know its a he?» I then asked, noticing the use of the pronoun towards the dog.

 

«Well we can’t ask if he’s gender fluid or non-binary.» Pidge shot back, but laughed. «I saw his thingy, Keith. Don’t make me say it again, please.» She started running with the dog in circles.

 

Hunk was busy sorting his skittles on the picnic table. «I’m not keeping him. I’m scared of dogs.» He said, picking up a red skittle squishing it between his thumb and index finger before eating it. Dude, what?

 

«But you just pet it.» I exclaimed.

 

«Yeah, while it was sitting in your lap. If I’m alone with it who knows what kind of meal he thinks I am.» Hunk threw three more red skittles in his mouth shuddering at the thought of being eaten by a tiny dog.

 

«Do you even hear how ridiculous that sounds!?» I shouted, stealing all of his red skittles.

 

«Hey!» He shouted, shoveling the rest of the sorted skittles into his palm.

 

«I can’t have the dog. I don’t see the point in furry animals.» Pidge pointed out, stopping up then started running again with the dog a new smile finding her face. She was obviously loving the dog, her point being invalid, but still, she owned a whole bunch of reptiles and her mother was Mrs. H. Who knows what deadly toxins was stored at their house, or the large snakes in Pidge’s room that could eat the poor pup. I shuddered at the thought, I always wanted to go to Hunk’s place for movie night because Pidge’s place always creeped the hell out of me.

 

All three of us made a look at Lance who uncrossed his legs when the dog ran to him. He bent down on the bench to pet the dog when he said, «Don’t turn your gazes at me. I may be the hero of this story, but I can’t have him, my mom is deathly allergic to dogs. It’s a miracle she can even tolerate me.» Lance said, making baby noises again at the dog telling him how cute he was. I couldn’t not smile at that.

 

Caught mid-smiling at Lance, they all steered their gazes towards me now. «I mean. Ruby had been nagging my dads about getting a puppy. Should we see this as some sort of sign?» I shrugged my shoulders warming up to the idea of keeping the pup.

 

«Then it’s settled. Keith keeps the dog.» Lance rubbed his hands as a job well done until I shot a gloved hand up to his face, a finger pressing into his warm cheek.

 

«All I said was that Ruby wanted a dog, not that I’m keeping it. I have two dads to persuade before anything can be official. One of those two dads being Shiro. He’ll be a nightmare to convince.» I noted them, crossing my arms to show them how serious the situation was. 

 

«Hey, you got me on your team, Keith. I’ve been told to be a smooth talker.» Lance got up, waving a brown hand at us to follow him back to the car.

 

«It’s your funeral.» I muttered, walking in step with the gang to the car.

 

Chapter Text

“As much as I’d love to see Lance up against Shiro, I need to get home. My mom has sent me four texts to get my ass home or else she’ll turn my snakes into new experiments. Can’t have any of that, Beavis and Butthead deserve better than that.” Pidge said from the backseat.

 

“I’ll drive you home. Give Beavis and Butthead a kiss from Lancey-Lance. Hunk, home?” Lance asked from the driver’s seat taking a swift turn. His Tokyo Drift skills were still acutely deathly, but ever since driving with him my body had gotten used to it. Instead, it shocked me if he didn’t made hard turns. I felt that I needed the thrill from his driving in my everyday boring life.

 

Hunk held a large hand covering his mouth, not being used to Lance’s driving yet. He had to swallow the bile that rose to his throat before he nodded to Lance’s question. “Yeah, my mom is making my favorite tonight. And some family friends are coming over with their daughter, it would be rude to blow them off.”

 

“Hear ya loud and clear, can’t disappoint a chica. She’ll be happy to see you, big guy.” Lance winked a blue-green eye at Hunk in the mirror.

 

Lance rolled into Pidge’s driveway first, the clock shining 8:30 P.M. She made it right before her own curfew. Mrs. H was standing in the doorway when she noticed Lance’s car pulling in. Lance rolled his window down to wave a brown hand at her. “Hey, Mrs. H! Hope you guys have a great night.” Lance told her giving her a toothy grin.

 

Mrs. H. smiled back to Lance and to us. “You boys are always welcome to come over for any of my home-made lasagna. Hey pumpkin.” Mrs. H. yelled from the door, kissing her daughter on the top of her head.

 

It was an adorable sight because Pidge hated it when her mother dolled her in front of her friends. She swatted her mother away, waving at us before they closed the door. Lance rolled his window up, giving me a new smile, ruffling the dog in my lap before backing out of Pidge’s driveway.

 

“Time to get you to your chica, big guy.” Lance said, his arm finding the back of my seat. His stare caught mine looking at his arm. I didn’t know what I was thinking about at that moment, but Lance decided to swat the back of his hand in my face for fun before pulling it back to the wheel. I gave him a teasing look before his eyes focused back on the road, making a turn to Hunk’s place.

 

In the car mirror on my side, I could make out Hunk’s stare at me. He was waggling his eyebrows at me like he knew something I didn’t. Back at him, I furrowed my brows not having the slightest idea what he was waggling his eyebrows about. Then he was making kissing faces at me pointing to Lance. I turned my head to Lance who was too focused on singing to the music, staring intently at the road. I looked back to Hunk, hitting him on the thigh, then making a I’ll kill you look , my finger  tracing my throat  like I’d slit his throat.

 

What was he doing thinking I liked Lance like that? I’m going to kill him if he thinks I like Lance. I don’t like him. I mean, I do like him, but not like that. We were only school friends, partners in science and I was his tutor, nothing else. Nope, nada, nothing. He was only coming to my house to help persuade to keep the poor dog, it wasn’t like he was meeting my parents. Shit. It had just dawned on me that Lance was officially, officially going to meet my parents, at my house. Ruby, after a lot of nagging, was finally going to meet Lance. How was this going to play out? I just hoped she would be too busy with the dog, or fast asleep, it was getting late.

 

“Alright, casa di Hunk. Go get her, Tiger.” Lance turned around in his seat making a growl from his throat. Really? That wasn’t remotely sexy.

 

Hunk looked sheepish in the back seat now getting nervous from Lance’s teasing him. “I don’t know. Maybe they’ve already left. My mom knew I was going out with you guys tonight.”

 

“Nonsense, there’s an extra car here. They’re waiting for you, Hunk. Plus your ma made your fave right? Go impress that pretty daughter of theirs, she’s gonna love you. Who wouldn’t?” Lance had a wide smile on his face, he was so genuine when it came to Hunk I almost felt jealous.

 

Hunk glowed at Lance’s words, mirroring his wide smile. “Okay, Hunky-hunk is gonna get the girl. See you guys on Monday, we’ll talk on the Cord.” Hunk made his way to the car door, opening it.

 

“You better be on the Cord! We’re gonna need all the deets! Say hi to your parents!” Lance yelled from the car waving Hunk bye.

 

“Then there were two.” Lance said, then looked down at my lap, the dog barking happily at his face, “Sorry pal, three.” He ruffled the dog’s head.

 

On the ride to my house I noticed Lance was making a hard thinking face. His turns were calm, they were oddly for him, they were normal. I didn’t feel the need to catch the handle or hold on to the dog’s life whenever he made a turn. “Hey, you okay? You’re driving like a 90 year-old. What’s up?” I asked him, could he have caught on that he was finally meeting my parents like for real.

 

Yeah, he’s met Adam a million times in good times and bad, but this felt, different. If it were a good different or a bad different, I hadn’t decided yet. But still, it’s a Saturday night and he was coming home to my house, a personal place. We were totally violating rule number three. My instincts told me that was exactly what was on his mind.

 

“Hey, for tonight only, we’ll abolish rule number three. But, don’t get too far with your questions. You know, if you have any.” I pet the dog’s head, getting closely acquainted with him. I hoped Shiro would say yes, I needed this dog in my life. He loved Lance and having him stay at my place told me I would maybe see a lot more to Lance than I usually did. Not that I didn’t see him enough.

 

“It’s not that. And I wouldn’t want to violate your private life, Kogane. But thanks for abolishing the rule for tonight. No take-backs” He slapped my shoulder, “But it was what you said earlier. I know Adam’s the principle, so what does Shiro do? I never asked about that. Come to think of it, I don’t know anything about Shiro.”

 

It was true, I hardly ever talked about Shiro. Our relationship is a difficult topic to talk about. It brought back too many painful memories. Hell, I love him so much for being a part of my life, and giving me a home and a new family but whenever people asked about how we came to living together and him adopting me, we always avoided talking about it. All we ever said if anyone asked was that he was my cousin and that my parents died when I was very young. If people learnt the truth, I’m afraid it would be too much for them. Not only that, I would get triggered and hide in my room for another three months. Just thinking about this now made my body go slack. I could feel my sight starting to get blurry.

 

“Yeah, I avoid talking about Shiro on purpose. We don’t exactly have the best father-son relationship. But, I love him to death. We just have too much history, most of it being painful.” I chose not to say anything more. I didn’t want Lance to make that face everyone else who already knew about my situation made. It hurt too much, and Lance deserved to stay happy. Also, I don’t know If I could take him feeling sorry for me.

 

“Hey, rule number three’s abolishment doesn’t start until we walk through your front door, so I won’t pry. I can see how much this is hurting you. Your brows always furrow, along with your nose flaring all cute when your in pain or thinking too much. This conversation is now, done.” Lance pulled into my driveway, dying the car.

 

He didn’t unbuckle his seatbelt when the car stood completely still in the driveway, the only lighting coming from the lamp on the garage. In the windows, the lights were definitely still on indication someone was home at least, who, I wasn’t quite sure.

 

“You mentioned earlier when we ran from the hoodlums that we had two dads in the law. Is Shiro a police officer?” Lance asked, his voice going sheepish.

 

Was that what was causing him to drive like an old lady? Was he maybe scared that Shiro would find some kind of record on him? Did he even have a record? Sure, he was a delinquent at a high-school, but that didn’t mean he did illegal things on the side like a criminal. All he did that was considered criminal was how many movies he had pirated on his computer, not including all the thousands of songs he had burned on an old mp3 player. Seriously, he had nothing to worry about. Except for Shiro’s prejudices he had about him.

 

“Yeah, he’s captain of his precinct. You scared he’s gonna find out about your illegally downloaded movie collection? You know, you can get lifetime for that, right?” I joked, but his face was going green and not the good specks-in-irises kind.

 

“Really!? This was why you looked scared shitless on the drive over? I was scared you’d kill someone and needed someone to help hide the body.” The dog yelped in my lap from my sudden shifting around in the car. I was so pissed, I karate chopped Lance on the head, unbuckling my belt. “Come on, let’s pray Shiro isn’t home yet. We’re gonna need to time to prepare.” I said while opening the door, the dog leaping out of the car blue leash to its collar.

 

“Would you help me?” Lance asked, locking his car.

 

“What?” I asked, craning my neck to him on the way to my front door.

 

“With the body?” He said, inching close to my face, his voice tingling the back of my neck.

 

He knew how much I hated guts, and limbs, and cuts and barf, gag, hating this. “Did you really kill someone, Lance?” I asked, my voice faltering when we reached the door. He was right behind me now, the dog waggling his tail on the doorstep.

 

“Would you?” He only asked, I could feel his signature smile tugging behind me.

 

It didn’t take much thought. “Of course.” I said, opening the door, “I’m home.” I peeled off my red leather jacket along with pulling off my boots. I made a motion with my hand to drag Lance in the house.

 

He was hesitant at first, feeling like a vampire needing a verbal permission to come inside. I made an exasperated noise then tugged on his collar pulling him in the house. “Hey, Keith. Keep it down, I just put Ruby to bed, oh…Hey Lance.” Adam was drying a glass in his hand when he made it to the front door. He smiled a welcomed smile at Lance then furrowed his light brown bushy brows when a loud bark sounded in the hall. I forgot about our new houseguest. “Keith, you know there’s a dog in the house.”

 

Lance pulled off his blue bomber jacket and kicked off his white sneakers. He inched hesitantly further into the house taking in the living room on the left then the kitchen further down the hall on the right. While he was getting acquainted with my house, I bent down to pick up our new furry friend. “Yeah, we found him being harassed by three idiotic seniors. Lance saved him.” I nodded my head towards Lance’s prying back. He was opening doors, now opening the door to a closet, holding both arms up to save himself from an actual broom falling on his face.

 

“Really? But why is he here, in our house? Shiro’s not home yet. Had to work late, new case came up.” Adam said while bending down to face the dog, petting him. He was falling for him already. “You’re lucky Ruby’s asleep, she’d go crazy if—”

 

“PUPPYYYYYYY!!!!”

 

“Dog must have woken her up. Damn. No we’ve done it. Good luck with persuading Shiro, it’ll be your funeral.” Adam went back to the kitchen while Ruby ran down in light-speed to the dog. I dropped the dog on the floor, moving towards Lance.

 

Ruby was cradling the dog in her arms, forgetting about the rest of the world or noticing that Lance was in the house. Right at that moment, when I thought we would have all the time in the world, the door opened up spilling in a captain. “Hey guys, I’m home.”

Chapter Text

My mind was spinning when I heard the door behind me open up. At that moment, with Ruby on the floor by the stairs playing with the dog, and Lance giving me a confused look in front of me, I felt like packing my bags and moving to the moon.

 

When Shiro came through the door, he looked happy. He was holding a bottle of red wine, him and Adam’s indulgence every Saturday, his uniform looked crisp and clean, his black eyes crinkled at the corners with delight until his black eyebrows decided to shoot up when he took in the show in the door’s opening.

 

First he looked at the stairs, “Ruby? Why are you still awake?” He directed his gaze to Adam who was coming back from the kitchen now wearing yellow rubber gloves. Before Adam could open his mouth, Shiro’s dark eyes went quickly back to Ruby, “And is that a puppy? Adam! What did I say?” He made an annoyed tone with his voice while peeling off his captain’s jacket, and shiny black boots. His light blue shirt and tie underneath looked disheveled as he pulled his jacket off.

 

“Look daddy! Keith brought home a dog!” Ruby squeaked all happily petting the dog. Her dark brown eyes found mine giving me a smile, I smiled back to her but stopped when she shot up to her little legs running to hug a pair of longer legs. “Lance! You came!! Look daddy, Keith brought Lance home, too! Keith loves you Lance!” She was jumping up and down while hugging on to Lance’s legs. Her comment made me want to run away from the universe.  

 

The sight was actually adorable, and Lance’s grimace was priceless, I don’t think he was anticipating Ruby to be this crazy about him. Neither did I, though. When she told him that stupid comment, I had to look away and hope Lance didn’t think anything of it. Kids could say the darndest things. There wasn’t time to explain Ruby’s comment, since my mind was still spinning.

 

We had three problems on our hands at the moment. One: Ruby was awake after bedtime. Two: the dog. Then lastly, there was Lance. Shiro wasn’t a stranger to talk about his feelings regarding my new delinquent. He would always comment on his picking me up every morning and driving me home asking if he drove the speed limit, followed the signs properly, which he did, to a limit. Then there was always the commenting on my tutoring him, how he couldn’t even know basic history or algebra. It always bugged me to the point that I sometimes wanted to rip off his fluffy, black hair to let him know that some people aren’t good in all subjects. Just take me for instance, I don’t get straight As in everything. I have a C in Spanish, and a B- in science. Shiro had to just chill when it came to Lance, stop giving him these stupid names, like moron or hopeless delinquent, he was so much more than that.

 

Before I faced Shiro, I quickly looked at Lance and Ruby. They were already getting to know each other. Lance was down on his hunches, talking to Ruby while petting the dog. Adam, standing next to me, was smiling in their direction before he directed his gaze to his husband.

 

“Should we all maybe take a seat in the living room?” Adam suggested, looking to his husband, then at me, Lance and Ruby. The dog barked in approval.

 

Ruby found a comfy spot in Lance’s lap with the dog resting soundly next to them on the couch. I found a spot next to the dog, petting its head. Adam sat comfortably on the chaise of the L-shaped couch, his long legs spread out to the edge. Shiro, the one we had to convince and discuss this with, he found his rightful seat on the bright yellow recliner, his dark gray eyes pinning us all to our seats. Ruby was laughing looking at Lance, her little hands squishing his cheeks together.

 

“Ruby, leave Lance alone for two minutes, we need to talk to daddy.” I pulled at her cheek for fun, she made a pouting face but Lance hugged her to him to get that smile back.

 

“First of all.” Said Shiro, getting up to shake Lance’s hand. Formalities weren’t made yet, but I could understand why. Things were going crazy in the Shirogane-West-Kogane house, something that hardly ever happened on a Saturday night. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Lance. Keith talks a storm about you.” He smiled, -smiled!- when he grabbed Lance’s hand.

 

“Back at ya, Captain Shiro, uh, sir.” Lance wasn’t sure how to approach Shiro, but when their hands gripped, Shiro made an impressed look towards their hands. Guess Lance was good at making first impressions.

 

“Shiro is good enough. How is my kid treating you? Want me to arrest him?” Shiro jokes. Oh no , I thought. He’s just as bad as Adam with the stupid dad jokes. I thought he was going to be super strict and interrogate him like he did with the convicts he took in everyday. But here they were chatting about me, with smiles on their faces.

 

I felt a pillow smack my face. “Looks like it’s going well. You should have brought him over earlier. Be careful so that Shiro or Ruby doesn’t steal him away.” Adam joked when he leaned in to me.

 

“Shouldn’t you be the worried one? He’s your husband, and she’s your kid.” I said back with a dark, irritated tone. Why did everyone have to comment about Lance with me. I was only his tutor. We weren’t even friends! He was only here to help persuade my parents since he told me he was a smooth talker!

 

“Alright, now we need to talk about the issue about our new furry friend.” Shiro was back in the recliner, leaned forward to take in the poor pup. “Tell me what happened.” He looked to Lance and I.

 

So we both told my parents what happened. How Pidge found the boys hurting the dog in the alley. How Lance went in courageously to stop them without pulling any fists on them. How we found out it didn’t have any owners and discussed among our group why I was the only option to bring the dog home. Besides, he looked like he fit right in resting soundly on the couch, his body resting gently, feeling safe.

 

Ruby was still in Lance’s lap, bobbing her head side to side. “Daddy, I love him. We need to keep him. Lance saved him for us!” She told Shiro, her dark eyes turning into those big, little puppy dog eyes he never could say no to.

 

“Yeah, Captain. You guys have a great, loving family. The dog fits in perfectly here. If I were a dog, and had Ruby as my owner, I’d never leave.” He hugged Ruby close to him again. I almost felt jealous he was going to steal her away from me, taking my best big brother in the world mug with her.

 

Adam caught my staring at Lance when he said those nice words about our little family. Lucky for me, Adam couldn’t feel how hard my heart was beating looking at Lance piecing himself so perfectly into our own family. “What?” I leaned into Adam.

 

Adam only smiled, shaking his head like it wasn’t the time to talk about it. “It’s nothing, kid. Just a dad thing.”

 

Ruby hopped out of Lance’s lap then into Shiro’s giving him a hug and a big kiss on his cheek. Her trump card. “Please, daddy. Me and Keef promise to take really good care him. Lance can come over all the time and help too!”

 

Lance caught my stare, a smile finding his face while he pet the dog. I smiled back, feeling a slight prickly sensation tingling all over my cheeks and fingers, my heart-beat decided to double its pace too. We both looked to Shiro when he said, “Can’t argue against that, I guess. Fine. We’ll keep the dog. But, Keith, he’ll be your responsibility.” Shiro held a pale finger at me.

 

“Hey! He’s my responsibility too, daddy!” Ruby huffed out like a little demanding woman.

 

“Someone needs to go to bed! But let’s clean the dog first.” Adam got up to gather Ruby and the dog with him to the bathroom upstairs.

 

Ruby called for the dog to follow her by saying, “Come on Kosmo, we’re gonna take a bath!” The dog reacted instantly to his new name.

 

“Kosmo? We’re not calling him Kosmo!” But I was instantly defeated when Ruby shot me a deathly glare, holding Adam’s hand, the dog on her side giving me a why you scared of this little human look.

 

When they left for the bathroom, I steered my gaze back to Shiro and Lance who were talking. I could hear my name in their conversation wondering what they were talking about. “Seriously, I’m sitting right here.” I remarked, hoping they remembered how close I was and that I could hear them.

 

“No need to worry, Keith. I’m not trying to embarrass you in front of your friend.” Shiro started, but my mind was another place when he said the word friend. Were we considered friends? We did start hanging out a lot ever since he landed me in detention and when I was assigned to be his tutor, but I never thought our relationship had developed that much within a time-span of two and half weeks.

 

“Yeah, Mullet. We were just discussing some of your tutoring tactics. I got a B- on my history report by the way, the one about that one chick.” Lance chuckled.

 

Shiro made a scrunched face at Lance’s choice of words. You’ll get used to it, I thought. But it was fun to see them getting along. I felt a whole weight lifted off of me. “You mean Jeanne d’Arc. Is it so hard to forget? You wrote like four pages about her.” I face-palmed, sitting closer to him after the dog left his place from the couch.

 

“A B-! Well look at that, I knew my son had it in him. You’re lucky Lance, having Keith on your side. I heard about the election. Got any plans for a campaign?” He then asked, grabbing a glass of red wine when Adam came into the room again.

 

Adam went back to the same position on the couch before he left, a glass of red wine in his own brown hand. “Yeah, they even have a team name. What was it again, Keith?”

 

Oh no. Don’t let me say it, this was all Lance’s idea. I didn’t even go along with the team name, I was forced into it. But, parents, they would never understand. “Team Voltron…” I said with a low voice, feeling like digging a hole.

 

Adam and Shiro beamed at the name, each taking a sip of their wine. “I like it! So, strategy plan to win? Bake sales? Buttons, posters, speech?” Shiro was way too into this, so was Lance.

 

“We took a bunch of photos yesterday at the arcade. We’re going to make posters and buttons during this week, then our main focus will be to get more expenses for different things we need at the school. Also, we thought about focusing on more field trips and having the whole school go on the annual ski-trip instead of only the juniors and seniors. The freshman and sophomores felt it was unfair that they had to wait until junior year to go on that trip.” said Lance, taking a deep breath before diving back in, “Hunk will do the baking, we’re going to lure a lot of voters with his magical triple chocolate chips cookies. Pidge is going to do the math and statistics to see how our chances are in the voting process. We only have like three weeks before Keith has to make a big speech, then the voting is only a couple days after. Man, you guys are so late with this.” Lance pointed out since it was his first time at GP.

 

“It’s Lotor’s fault. He always drags the elections since he thinks we don’t need one. The students go along with it knowing no one would be nominated, but he’s obligated to mention that there can be an opportunity to have someone run against him. Hence, the drag. But I think three weeks can be enough time to win against that sick son of a—”

 

“Adam, honey. He’s a student of yours.” Said Shiro giving him a stern look, taking a new long sip of his wine, “Allow me.” He stared at Lance and I, “To win against that sick son of a bitch.” Shiro took a new rewarding sip of his wine. They should drink wine more often.

 

Lance glanced at his phone, “I need to bounce, my ma is gonna kill me if I’m not home yet.” He said, a grim look finding his face.

 

“You sure? We can call her, and you can stay for some food? It’s only 9:30. Don’t you have the same curfew as Keith?” Adam asked, giving me a smile and a quick wink. Seriously, were they trying to court me with Lance?

 

“Nah, can’t tonight. But, thanks for the offer. Rain check?” Lance got up, shaking Shiro’s hand again, then giving Adam his signature military sign.

 

“I’ll follow you out.” I said, getting up in step with him.

 

While Lance made his way to the door, I looked behind me to give Adam and Shiro a glare that told them to stay put. Adam held his hands up in defeat, Shiro smiling at his husband downing his wine glass.

 

“So, why do you have to leave? You have like an hour before curfew…” I noted, a little hurt that he had to leave already, specially when he was getting along with my dads.

 

Lance pulled on his blue bomber jacket, and stepped into his white sneakers. “My sis is over from uni and if my parents can’t brag about her without me hearing them, they’d skin me alive.” He made a pained face, one I had seen before. Did he have trouble at home? I really wanted to talk to him about this, but, rule number three was reapplied now that the evening was over.

 

“Sure, I get it. I think. I don’t have any older siblings, but, parents.” I leaned in to catch Adam and Shiro cosying up to each other with each their own glass of wine watching a movie. “They can be really annoying.” I told Lance, but felt a jealous pang when I saw my dads.

 

“They’re great by the way, your family.” Lance said, not wanting to leave. I could see it on his face.

 

“Yeah, Ruby loves you already. I’m scared she’s going to steal you away from me.” My mouth hung open when I noticed my choice of words. “Well, uh, you know if you ever come over to be with the dog, she’ll steal all the attention.” I tried to steer the conversation away from my sudden slip.

 

“Ruby’s awesome, but I can see how much she loves you, Keith. How can she not love you the most.” Lance suddenly said, the green flecks in his eyes pulling me forward.

 

It got quiet. Lance’s hand was resting on the handle of the front door, ready to pull it down but his eyes were still pinned to mine. “Keith! Did he leave!?” Adam called from the living room.

 

His voice woke us from our staring contest. “We’ll talk on the Cord, play a couple rounds tomorrow? See you on Monday, Keith.” He opened the door.

 

“Yeah, definitely. Monday.” I said low, thinking Monday was too far away. My gloved hand turned into a fist bumping his shoulder. I let it linger for ten seconds until Lance closed the door in my face, a smile finding me before he closed it.

 

Adam came into view when my hand found the door, thinking about my relationship with Lance. Were we friends now? “Hey, that went well. Did he have a good time? We should invite him over for dinner some time. Ruby would love that.” Adam interrupted my thoughts, some other words left unsaid at the mention of Ruby loving having him over.

 

“Yeah, it went really well. I just…I dunno, he didn’t look happy, Adam. Is everything alright with him at home?” I asked, making my way in to the living room to continue the movie.

 

“Not that I know of. I’ve only met his parents once. They seem like normal, good parents. If something is going on with Lance. All you need to do is talk to him. He might need a friend like you, Keith. Come on, we just started the movie, Shiro got you your favorite soda.” Adam pulled me into the room, my thoughts still thinking about Lance.

 

Chapter Text

Over the course of the next two weeks, Team Voltron’s campaign was well on its way of winning votes. With some well thought out planning from Lance, Pidge, Hunk and yours truly, we were able to harness in a lot of voters. Some students even wanted to start a Voltron fan club in our name.

 

During the first week, our team met at Hunk’s place since they had the most spacious garage to make posters. Also, his parents didn’t mind the mess we made. Meaning, we had a lot of posters to cover with blue and red glitter. Lance’s idea, not mine. It was so much fun though. Hunk’s mom had made amazing waffles that day while we had our little arts and crafts session.

 

Lance thought it was fun to throw handfuls of blue and red glitter all up in my face yelling “Razzle, dazzle, Keith!” It was not funny, it took more than four showers to get all the glitter out. I swear I could still taste the glitter on my tongue, and in between my teeth. Not only that, whenever I was around Lance, his cheek would suddenly have a piece of glitter stuck to it. Why did he think glitter was a good idea?

 

Fine, it was a great idea. A lot of students who passed by our posters of either my face trying to look like a president, and the one Lance took of me playing Pac-Man at the arcade, stopped up to point out how blindingly awesome the posters were. Lance knew what he was doing as campaign manager, I won’t take any credit there.

 

After our arts and crafts session at Hunk’s place. Pidge had to pull me to the side for a quiet chat. I wouldn’t call it quiet, since it was about Lance. She steered me away from the garage, leaving Hunk and Lance to continue writing on the large white posters with bright purple markers, and eating waffles.

 

She had her hands on her hips that day, throwing a stern look at Lance then craning it back to me, “Does Lance know that you like him?” Pidge had suddenly asked that day.

 

Her question had taken me off guard with so much surprise, I was lost for longer than eternity. I wanted to hop on to a rocket and travel to the furthest planet away anyone could think of in the galaxy and never come back.

 

Evidently, when I landed back on Earth, then back outside Hunk’s garage, I grabbed hold of Pidge’s shoulders to bend her down to whisper-scream in her ear, “What the fuck are you talking about? You’re crazy, I don’t like Lance. We’re not even friends, Pidge.” My voice turned into desperation neglecting the fact that I would like Lance. No chance in hell, I thought.  

 

When I unbent ourselves, I turned around quickly to see if Hunk or Lance caught our little talk. They were still enraptured in their creative bubbles. Lance was singing with waffles in his mouth, making my own mouth quirk up to a corner.

 

“Seriously, Keith. It’s so obvious. How do you not like Lance? You instantly smile as soon as he’s in your peripheral vision. If mom was here she would be able to smell the attraction from a mile away. So, don’t tell me you’re not friends. You guys are obviously more than that.” She crossed her arms, giving me an incredulous look like you are dumber than you think, dude.

 

No, I wasn’t. No way in hell did I like Lance that way. If that was the way she was implying during the time she said it. We hadn’t talked much about it since then. Mostly because I turned into a feral animal ready to give her rabies every time she decided to bring it up again.

 

Sure, we did tease each other a lot. Lance always had a stupid nickname ready for me, he loved to smack me in the face with his dumb, big brown hand. Whenever we bought ice-cream, he would smear it all over my nose, then call me an ice-queen that he would love to melt. Oh man, it went up for me that we were flirting. Gods, I am dumb.

 

Flash forward to today, two weeks later, and Pidge’s stupid little question popped into my head again, jolting me awake. Lance and I were watching a boring movie during Miss Allura’s class about World War II. Of course, I love history, but the world wars had to be the most boring topics known to man or alien. They were just too, recent. I loved the older history, all the way back to the roman era or even further back. Back when history made our lives today seem too boring, too controlled.

 

Next to me in the dark classroom, Lance was half-asleep, wearing a button with my face on it and written in purple glitter lettering: Vote for Keith, the future, pinned to his favorite dark blue shirt. He had them made during the first week of our busy campaign schedule. We had also managed to snag a lot of voters because of Hunk’s awesome triple chocolate chip cookies. Man, what I would do to have my teeth sink into one right now instead of watching this boring flick with Hitler giving his famous speech on the screen.

 

My gaze went to Miss Allura sitting by her desk paying attention to the movie. We didn’t know who she was siding with because some days she was wearing one of my pins, and on other days she would help Lotor with one of his little - actually really big - schemes. Like the other day, Lotor had snagged the whole freaking marching band to parade in the halls with himself leading at the front, throwing posters of my face on it and a big red X marked on to it. We found out that Miss Allura had given him the approval to borrow the marching band since she’s their conductor on the side. Lance felt betrayed that day he found out, actually pulling a cookie out of her hand saying she was a fraud and something else that I’d rather not say out loud.

 

I was scared he’d be suspended for yelling at a teacher, but I think Miss Allura understood Lance’s feelings. Even I felt betrayed. She had always shown some form of disgust towards Lotor. What brought her to say yes to help him was beyond any of us. Hunk joked that maybe her and Lotor were a thing, but that would be too ridiculous. Wouldn’t it?

 

We knew teachers couldn’t vote, but we still had hoped to have most of them on our side to help persuade Lotor’s voters to switch sides. I didn’t have much to promise the students of GP besides doing a better job than Lotor. Lance had proposed to gain more expenses for, for example the annual ski trip, something a lot of students thought was something valid to grant and would make a good promise to gain more votes. Aside from that, I had no idea what other promises presidents made to their students.

 

Some days during the last two weeks, I would do or say whatever Lance told me to do or say because I had no idea what to do or say. One of the days last week, I broke down in an empty classroom again. My anxiety got to me, bad. No one knew about my problems and the memories haunting my mind. I did everything I could so that no one was able to figure me out. So at times I would find an empty classroom or the music room usually to break down and cry my eyes out. Sure, that might seem sad, but it helped, every time. I had too many feelings inside me that had to come out at times, and crying was always my medicine. But, if Lance or the gang ever found out, I would be seen as a huge pussy or they would tell me to back out of the race. Never, not when we were so close to the actual vote.

 

“This movie is fucking boring, Keith.” Lance whimpered next to me in class, leaning a brown head on my shoulder threatening to fall completely asleep.

 

I let his head rest on my shoulder, mostly because I didn’t want to draw any attention to Miss Allura. Her look was enough to kill, and we didn’t have time to die at the moment. We still had more campaigning to do before I had to give my big speech.

 

“Five more minutes, McClain, until the bell rings. Hold out.” I bumped my head onto his, a low chuckle escaping his throat under my chin.

 

Maybe Pidge did have a point with her question. Having Lance resting his head on my shoulder would never have been admitted by me over a month ago. We hated each other, something that has cooled off lately the more time we spend together. Pretty much every day had Lance in it. If it were being in his car to and from school, being in class with him, eating lunch with him, having him follow me to the bathroom all the time, being lab partners, hanging out at the arcade after school or going to the movies, coming over to watch a silly kids show with Ruby. All these things we did together and it never dawned on me that Lance and I, we might actually be friends. Not only that, I knew now that I actually felt attracted to him.

 

I shot up from my chair as the realization hit me hard, right smack in the face. “Keith? What is it, there’s still a minute left before the bell rings.” Miss Allura called, pausing the movie on a still frame of Hitler looking at me with a shocked stare.

 

Lance had toppled over, regaining himself after his head lolled off my shoulder without any warning. “Uhm, bathroom.” I pointed to the door, asking Miss Allura for a confirmation. She must have read my panicked look nodding to let me go.

 

“Can I go with him?” Lance called, she made a bored look his way, no need to answer because he would follow along no matter her answer. “Great, thanks, Lur!” He called, following after me when I opened the door spilling out in the hall.

 

I knew I wouldn’t be able to shake Lance off of me when I made my way to the boys bathroom, so I turned around to look at him, stopping up in the middle of the soon to be flooded with students, corridor. “Can I go to bathroom, alone. I might need some privacy.” I said, giving him a look that would hopefully make him think of something else besides my need to scream my lungs out.

 

“Gotcha. Catch ya at lunch?” Lance said, giving me finger guns, then he ruffled my bangs.

 

“Sure.” I said, my hands finding my red hoodie pocket.

 

On my way to the boys bathroom, I caught the music room. It was empty when I opened the door, to then lock it behind me when I found my way inside. The lights stayed off so that I could sit with my thoughts in the dark.

 

When the floor caught my back, I stared up at the ceiling reaching a gloved hand up at it letting it float loosely in the air. Did I like Lance? Like really like him? No doubt about it, the guy was attractive as hell. His smile was bright and brilliant, his laugh was contagious and those eyes. I could agree on one thing about this stupid discussion in my head; I was definitely attracted to him. I could feel that pull, but if I liked him in a romantic way was still undiscussed. It was a territory I did not want to tread into just yet. I didn’t have time for romance, let alone delve into what romance meant for a person. I was never given the chance to feel love for another person in that way except for my family.

 

Whenever I thought about what happened to me in the past, I blamed it on my bad ability to love. It took me a long time to trust anyone after the incident, let alone feel the will to love someone close again. When Shiro took me in, I hated him to the core at the age of 8 years old. I hated everything and everyone. I didn’t need love, and love didn’t want me. It felt like the world had decided that my person; me, myself and I, didn’t need more love in his life. When I was 7, love had decided to execute me by doing something terrible to me; steal away the will to know love ever again, to feel safe ever again.

 

Tears had found my eyes, feeling the warm, wetness streaming down the sides of my face. It burned, but it felt good. This was exactly what I needed. I needed this confirmation. I didn’t have any feelings towards Lance, only pure attraction. Nothing less, nothing more. I knew I would never do anything about it, just let it take its course. If I ever felt the need to drag him to my face, then I’ll find a dark room, cry it out, pretend it never happened.

 

Happy with finally figuring out my feelings towards a certain delinquent, I took a quick glance at my phone. While being blinded by the fluorescent light of my phone, I noticed lunch was almost over. The others would wonder where I had been. Time for excuses, but no worries there, I was good at excuses. I was an excuse of a tutor anyways. Lance would never see me as his friend, I thought when I opened the door being hit by a raging ocean.

Chapter Text

There was less than a school week left before I had to give my big speech in front of the whole school. Lance and I had a small falling out the day I found out I was attracted to him. He found me leaving the music room that day, catching my eyes stained red from crying. I remembered the look on his face as clear as the look of her face when the shard came pummeling down towards my skin.

 

It was a horrifying pain I saw on his face. When he opened his mouth in that moment to ask what was wrong, I tried to walk quickly past him telling him to leave it, that it was nothing, none of his business. He didn’t listen to me, of course. Instead, he pulled on my red hood that day and dragged me back into the music room.

 

His voice was low when he pulled me into the room, keeping the light dimmed. He found a dimmer by the door when he closed it, probably not to be scoped out by any teachers roaming the halls. As he turned around, his look told me how worried he was when he caught my cried out face.

 

“Are you okay, Keith? Like really? I thought we were doing well with the campaign. Did Lotor threaten you, or any of those bitchy lesbians? I can go tear a new-”

 

I held a hand up into his face, stopping him from going ballistic. There was no need. He didn’t need to know what I was doing in here, or what I was thinking about for that matter. Although, he did deserve to hear about my thoughts on this whole campaign situation.

 

The bell had rung indicating that fourth period was starting, but we both stayed put in the music room staring each other down. I let out a huffed breath, balling my fists to help give me courage to pour out some of my locked away feelings.

 

“Well...uhh...I don’t think I’ll do a good job as student body president, Lance. It’s all too much. No one at school knows who I am. They either know me as Adam’s son, or the schools golden boy.” I was quiet for a moment before I said, “Listen...y-you were right. I am a nobody. I don’t see the use of being a part of this anymore…” I felt my ducts were threatening to spill out new tears.

 

In that moment, that day in the music room, Lance did something unexpected. He closed the gap between us and hugged me. Having his warm body pressed up against my own, smelling his familiar scent of spearmint and woodsmoke eased every tension I felt in my body. I went slack in his arms, the tears that were threatening to spill did spill but more in a relieved kind of way. It was exactly what I needed.

 

His arms were slung around my back, being careful not to bump into the wound even if it had healed pretty well by then. My own arms wrapped around him at that moment, and we stood there in the almost dark, hugging each other. Nothing else was needed at the time. His body sort of coalesced with mine giving me all the confidence I was praying for.

 

After a while, we finally let go. Lance’s blue-green eyes shimmering in the dark, they were impossible to ignore. I wanted to swim in him, be a part of his universe forever at that time. He hesitantly lifted his hand towards my face, but I didn’t go feral so he dared to cup one of my cheeks, giving me a toothy grin. “You’ll never be nobody to me, Keith. If everyone can see who I see in front of me, you’ll win with flying colors.” Lance had said that day, causing my heart to almost explode.

 

By that time, I was still focused on my relationship with Lance. Pidge’s question from our arts and crafts day was still floating in my head, creating a flurry of confusion in my brain and in my heart. When Lance told me those words in the music room, all I did was thank him, hoping he didn’t catch on to how hard my heart was beating, and how warm my body felt against his. He had no idea what he could do to a person, even me.

 

Nothing else happened that day. I was scared he was going to pull a fast one on me, calling me a coward for having those thoughts about not wanting to run for president anymore, but he didn’t. We skipped fourth period to hug, a hug that confirmed a lot of unspoken thoughts I had in my head for a while.

 

Today, almost a week later. Lance and I have been normal. No more hugs, nor more crying. We still bickered, I still see him as a no-good, self-absorbed, delinquent; but after that day in the music room, I decided to see him as my friend. Not that I told him that, yet. He still thinks I hate him. The rules still applied. Whenever he tried to pry into my private life, I’d refer to the rules. I could see on his face how much he hated our rules, but they were necessary. He still didn’t need to know too much, even if he did stay at my house all the time. Ruby’s fault, not mine.

 

We had third period off today, which was perfect timing for us to start on my speech. My speech was going to be given in two days and I hadn’t even started on it. Lance had said earlier that he would be my words so now was his time to, razzle dazzle, as he would say.

 

“Music room?” Lance asked when we roamed the halls for a free room to wrack our minds to create a damn good speech.

 

At his suggestion of the music room, I felt a light flutter in my stomach. It had only been a week since he hugged me in the music room, but our hug still lingered on my skin. “Sure.” I said in a low voice, avoiding his blue gaze.

 

We both stood in front of the door not opening it. Lance shot a brown hand at the handle but said before he opened the door, “Hey, about the last time we were in here.” His voice went shaky.

 

“Yeah?” I felt my own voice going shaky.

 

He craned his neck to look at me. The green specks in his eyes were dancing in a bright blue sea. “I just want you to know that, if you feel like backing out, even if we are so close to the end. Uhmm…well I wouldn't mind taking over for you. You know like stepping in as your backup. If you feel like throwing up on stage when you give your speech, I’ll swoop in and save the day.” He grinned, opening the door.

 

Strange. My whole body felt strange around him whenever we were alone. He was still Lance, a delinquent. He hadn’t changed much since that day he landed us in detention. Just the other day, Adam had to call him in to his office after he set three cherry bombs off in the boys bathroom. Seriously, I would have thought hanging out with me and the gang would change him to the extent that setting off cherry bombs weren’t needed. But no, he was still Lance.

 

We stepped into the music room, turning the lights all the way up this time. When the lights turned on, if felt like being in the room for the first time. Usually, whenever I came in here to cool off any heated tension in my head, the room would always stay dark. Thinking back to our hug, the music room was still dimly lit, it was now in the bright light that I was able to take in that the room was quite large for its size and that there were a bunch of instruments spread along the walls, and different kinds of lighting on the ceiling. Who would have thought? Well, it was the music room, guess it was expected.

 

Lance got comfortable on a random chair in the middle of the room, peeling forth a notebook and a pencil. He held the pencil close to his lips, smiling behind it. I tried to scope out a desk or a table we could place the notebook on, but there was no luck. I grabbed at a chair and pulled it next to Lance.

 

“So, any ideas what you want your speech to be about?” He asked, nibbling gently on the end of the pencil.

 

Bite marks were making their way on the yellow pencil, distracting me from thinking about anything at the moment. “Huh? I’m not sure. Public speeches aren’t exactly my strong suit, but it should be a good one at least.” I joked.

 

I knew Lance had talent when it came to writing. If it were a poem, lyrics or a three page essay about hot dogs, he would still make it worth the reader’s time. “I trust you, blow me away with your words.”

 

The bite marks got even deeper as he tried to think up an introduction for my speech. “How about, Students of GP, it is I, Keith Kogane, your future ?” His mouth quirked at the mention of me being the future.

 

“Sure, sounds alright. Not sure if it sounds like me though.” I commented, but I wasn’t even sure myself if I had a voice that would make it through to the students of GP.

 

After a while of nit picking on words and what to focus on in my speech. We came to a conclusion, and were able to write down at least the start of the speech. Lance agreed with me that I had to find my own voice before I could continue with the speech. He could fine tune it later, but we didn’t really have a later to rely on. The speech had to be done before the end of school on Friday, it was Wednesday now.

 

Lance got up to stretch his legs, roaming around the music room. The look on his face when his hand touched a guitar told me he was thinking about memories of him and his abuela singing songs together. He told me once that she taught him how to play the guitar.

 

“Play me something?” I suddenly asked, curiosity heating my chest.

 

Lance smiled warmly at my question, grabbing the acoustic guitar in his arms. He grazed the strings with his fingers to see if it were in tune. After a short moment, the strings were finely tuned and he started playing a melody. It wasn’t one I recognized.

 

While he played, he had his eyes closed. I never thought I would miss the sight of an ocean at that moment, but the loss was enormous. My ears took in the sweet, melancholic melody and my mouth opened up in sync with the tune, singing gently, “When the night is cold and you feel like no one knows, What it's like to be the only one buried in this hole…”

 

Lance stopped playing, opening his eyes, an ocean splashing, narrowing them to me, “Where did you learn those lyrics?” He asked urgently, like someone had stolen his precious car.

 

“Uhh…I…” I didn’t want to tell him that I snooped in his notebook a while back. We disliked each other enough. Also, I didn’t want him to overreact or be overdramatic like he usually did. It was just that, the music he played fit so perfectly to the lyrics he wrote. The song he played had to be one he came up with. I really wanted to sing the lyrics, they were so good.

 

I stood up, making my way over to Lance holding the acoustic guitar still wearing a shocked stare. A table with switches stood between us when I said, “Keep on playing, Lance.” I prompted, nodding my head to the guitar.

 

He made a quizzical look at me, not showing if he were mad that I refused to answer his question. Instead, he continued from where he left off.

 

I opened my mouth to try and sing a difficult part, hoping Lance would like it. My eyes were closed when I sang loudly now, “You can make it to the sunrise (whoa)”

 

He stopped playing again, only to blink at me. “Shit, Kogane. You can sing like that?”

 

I didn’t have any time to answer him until he thrummed the guitar again joining in with me, “You can make it to the sunrise (whoa).”

 

As we sang, I stared at Lance’s smile, thinking how it was one I hadn’t seen on him before. One that showed a happiness that had waited for a long time to appear on his face. He kept on playing, continuing the lyrics to his own song while I tried to come even closer to him. My hand suddenly grazed the table that had a bunch of switches on it, when I made my way over to Lance playing his guitar. On my short path walking to reach Lance, my hand sliding over the table, thinking about touching Lance’s lips to my fingertips; my own fingertip without knowing, switched a button, and then all hell broke loose.

 

All of the lights on the ceiling began to flash and flicker blindingly. I tried to find the button or switch I turned on, but the more buttons I pressed or switched, the more lights came on and flashed in a blinding haywire. My gaze went immediately to Lance for help, but he was on the floor, shaking.

 

“Lance!” I screamed his name at first, but lowered my voice to a stop when I recognized what was happening to him, and knew I had to let him finish.

 

Desperately, I found the cord that belonged to the table and pulled it out of the socket, resulting in all the flashing lights thankfully stopping. I let out a long relieved breath, but forgot how to breathe again when I stared at Lance lying on the floor, spasming.

 

It was a horrible sight, but these episodes happened. Adam had them once in a while. Foam was coming out of his mouth, his eyes rolled back inside his head, and his body was either shaking or jerking from time to time. All I could do was make sure he was able to breathe, then wait.

 

When his body finally stopped shaking, he lied on his stomach, breathing soundly. I took the chance to get on my knees and pull his head in my lap. The lights in the room dimmed down to an okay lighting so that he couldn't react again. My hand went to his soft chestnut brown locks. As my fingers started to glide through his hair, I finally heard a low groan from the tan boy lying in my lap.

 

“What happened?” Lance asked groggily, a hand finding his mouth to dry away any of the foam or dribble that spilled out of his mouth.

 

I was in too much shock at the time, all I could do was look at him and pray he’d be okay. Whenever Adam had an episode, Shiro would be nearby to calm me and take care of him. But now, with just the two of us in the music room, I couldn’t leave him or call Adam for advice. I didn’t know if this was something Lance had told Adam about and I wasn’t sure if it was my place to let him know. Luckily for me, I knew how to handle these episodes from experience.

 

“You had an episode, the flashing lights.” I pointed to the ceiling, my other hand still massaging his head.

 

He was still in my lap, probably exhausted from the episode. His face slowly turned to the side to look up at the lights I was pointing to. His closed eyes and furrowed brows told me he was starting to remember what happened. Pain was present in his blue-green eyes, an ocean turning into a raging storm.

 

His pain spread to my face, I felt awful being the one who had this happen to him. Adam always wounded up becoming extremely nauseous after an episode to the extent that he would throw up and lie in bed for the rest of the day. Lance on the other hand, all I could make out from his look was pure pain, like someone was punching him in the gut.

 

“Hey…” I felt a hand to his cheek to soothe him, “are you okay? Does it hurt anymore, want me to carry you to the nurses office?” I asked, trying to drag him up to a sitting position.

 

He made a groan like a little kid would make if they didn’t want to do anything. “It’s just my head. Whenever I have an episode, my brain decides to blow up and kill me.” He tried to explain his severe headaches, but it was present on his face how much pain he was facing.

 

“Come on, I’m stronger than you think.” I stood on my feet now, wiggling my hands to him for a confirmation to pick him up.

 

His hand shot out, waving at me. “I’m fine, Kogane. I just need a couple more minutes to calm the headache. Come back down here and play with my hair again, it helped. A lot…” He pulled at my arm to drag me down again.

 

When I came back down to my knees, his face was centimeters from mine. He made a queasy smile tugging on his lips, his blue-green eyes finally calming the storm. “Pleeease?” He asked with a teasing voice. How could I not say no to that voice.

 

His head found my lap again, my fingers threading gently through his soft locks of chestnut brown hair. A low pleasant hum vibrated through his body, the same hum he always made whenever we ate birthday cake ice cream.

 

A thought came to my head. I stopped playing with Lance’s hair, his face tipping up to look at me. His look said why did you stop, a small pout forming on his lips. My heart did a double skip at the cute face, causing my attractiveness to him to skyrocket. “Lance, was this what you and Adam discussed when he called you to his office that time?” I asked him, both my hands cupping his cheeks so that I could make him look at me. 

 

His mouth quirked to the side, squinting in the dim light. “Why do you think that? It could have been about something I did, like spray painting the school or setting off bombs.”

 

“Lance, Adam has epilepsy, too. You could have told me, I thought we trusted each other… On second thought, why didn’t you tell me!? You were lucky I knew what to do when you have an episode. What if this happened and I had no idea what to do?” I scolded him, pulling at his hair.

 

“Ow, Kitten. That hurt…remember what just happened. You’re supposed to feel sorry for me..” He said in a baby voice.

 

“I do feel sorry for you, but you deserved that little tug. I was worried sick. How do you feel now? I can still carry you..” I suggested, but he kept on shaking his head in my lap.

 

“No, no, no, no, no, nooooo. Not gonna happen. It’s enough to cradle me in your arms like this, but have you carry me. Someone who is clearly much taller than you, would be social suicide.” He joked, a wide smile revealing itself in the darkness.

 

“But why didn’t you tell anyone, Lance? This is serious.” I shifted while he got up into a sitting position.

 

He crossed his arms, eyes shut to think about a decent answer. One that wouldn’t make me angry. I promise, I will be angry no matter what. His blue-green eyes caught my face as he was opening his mouth, understanding finding his face, “I….I hate being seen as weak, Keith. Hate it. With a fiery passion. Ever since I was little kid, I was always the weak one. Picked on for being tall, being called ugly names for being too thin, and now this, my epilepsy. If I ever had an episode or a really bad seizure, the kids at my grade-school would call me a weakling. It wasn’t my fault that I was given this diagnosis. Not my fault I can’t control it. I can be strong, but whenever I had an episode, I knew I couldn’t control it. Lying on the ground or floor shaking uncontrollably, crying, sometimes screaming. The kids found it hilarious, it was fucking awful. Some days, I felt like staying in bed all day, hating myself. Hating the epilepsy. Other days, I’d run into the first free space I found to cry out my feelings before meeting with my friends or teachers…” He went quiet, his hand finding mine, entwining our fingers for comfort. “We’re not so different, you and I, Keith. I know what you do in here when you don’t meet up for lunch. It fucking hurts that you can’t come to me and talk about it. But, yeah, I know, rule number three.” He mocked when he mentioned our rules.

 

The anger I had built up inside me deflated to defeat. Instead, I felt a wetness find my cheeks when my free hand lifted to my face. My other hand, the one in Lance’s grip, tightened. “I had no idea, Lance. Like, I had some idea that you were hurting but not like this. Not like me. Thank you, for telling me. For trusting me with this.” I said as I felt my thumb move on its own rubbing Lance’s hand.

 

There was a sudden, but nice quiet between us in the music room, almost like we were the only two people in the universe. Sitting there, holding hands, existing. Looking at Lance sitting next to me with a faint smile, felt like a light was finally being turned on inside me. The thought was a funny thing, but it was clear to me now that I really did feel some sort of feelings towards Lance, but whether to act upon them became a whole other issue.

 

With the both of us here, admitting to something so personal, I felt like I had to do something. “Lance…” I started, reaching for his attention. His gaze found mine, feeling like I was being hit by a tidal wave. His eyes caught me way off guard, feeling a burning heat finding my cheeks. I persevered, “uuuhhh, wow…What I want to say is that…I…I think I’m…” As I tried very hard to form the words I wanted say, the whole school boomed in a loud screeching alarm. “Are you fucking kidding me, a fire alarm. Now!?” I shouted over the alarm.

 

Our hands untangled as we tried to get on our feet. “Are you okay? Can you stand, move? The offer still stands for me to carry you out like a hero.” I joked loudly, trying to get the words to him by leaning close to his face. His cheeks bloomed a pinky color when we both noticed how close I was. He smiled then, grabbing my arm to lead me out of the school.

 

We found Pidge and Hunk outside the school, accompanied by 800 more students roaming the parking lot, waiting for further instructions. Whispers of a fire drill made their ways around the students. Others said that they saw someone pull on a fire alarm on purpose, that was when I heard Lance’s name. Just then, it hit me, that Lance was still a delinquent and could have been the one to pull the fire alarm for the fun of it. But, he wasn’t, he was with me, holding my hand, telling me a personal thing about himself.

 

“Hey, what did you guys have?” Pidge tried to make conversation looking around the sea of students, her hands warming themselves in her favorite green hoodie.

 

Hunk was holding his stomach while wearing his usual hungry face. “Man, fire-drills make me hungry.” He commented, looking around the school to see if any students were holding a candy bar. Lucky for him, Emily, a classmate of his always had something on her person. Hunk’s face lit up when she had a candy bar ready for him when he made his way over to her.

 

“Does he ever stop thinking about food?” Lance asked rhetorically, giving me a quick wink.

 

The burning sensation I felt before we left the music room was still everlastingly present on my cheeks, threatening to show off a bright red color. I had to quickly look away. Stupid. I was so stupid, why didn’t I just tell him that I liked him. Could the fire alarm be a sign? Maybe I should just wait until after the election. If I win, I tell him, see how he reacts, he’ll be in a good mood, I’ll be in a good mood if he rejects me. If I lose, I’ll keep it to myself, hoping the feelings disappear within time. We only have this last year together anyways, not like I was hoping for anything more between us anyways. At least, I can at least tell him I see him as a friend. After the election, I thought. After the election.

Chapter Text

Everyone in home room was quiet, working with their assignments when we heard the familiar crinkle of the speaker. Lance turned around from his seat in front of me to take in the voice from the speaker, his blue-green eyes lighting up from the sunlight in the window catching his golden face.

 

I had to look down at my papers to hide any indication of red cheeks, forcing my pen to glide into swirls of doodles to ignore the tan boy in front of me. I hated that I felt attracted to that dingus and couldn’t do anything about it. Not until after the election at least.

 

A voice sounded muffled from the speaker, “Greeting students of GP, it’s your captain speaking….” More muffled sounds came from the speaker. I felt a very loud groan coming on when I recognized it wasn’t Adam’s voice that greeted us.

 

“Takashi, hand over the mic….” Adam sounded in the background, grabbing at the microphone, “Sorry about my husband, always the charmer.” He cleared his throat of embarrassment, Shiro snickering in the background, “Just a reminder to every student at GP that after last period we all meet in the assembly hall to hear the speeches of our elected candidates, Keith Kogane and Lotor von Gal. Showing up is mandatory…” The microphone crinkled again, you could hear Shiro pushing Adam away when he said loudly in the mic,”Good luck, Keith!”

 

“Takashi!” Adam yelled in the background, the mic finally going dull with a new crinkle.

 

The heat I tried to hide when Lance turned around before the announcement had made a full flush of red on my cheeks when every single student in my class, including Miss Allura all had smug looks directed at me. Parents, why did they have to be so embarrassing? Not only that, why did Adam and Shiro have to be my parents?

 

Lance had his signature smug look when I caught his stare, my hand started shoving his shoulder in a light irritation. Butterflies were swarming in my gut, and not because Lance had borrowed my favorite shirt today and looking amazing in it, but because today after school, I was going to give my speech. It was going to be hell.  

 

“You’re nervous. I can tell.” Lance said, fishing out his Airpods, pushing one into my ear.

 

I opened my mouth to say something, but he held a gold-ringed, tan finger up for me to stay quiet, looking behind him to see if Miss Allura would catch him listening to music in class. We still had ten minutes left before the bell rang, then I would only have less than an hour to give my speech. The butterflies in my stomach were eating my insides now, I felt like finding the nearest hole and living in it.

 

Lance pushed on a song from his phone, giving me a warm smile before a blue-green eye winked at me making my heart skip three beats. How the hell does this delinquent do it? He’s knew how to be a smooth talker even when his ambiguous mouth stayed shut. 

 

The music started and I recognized the melody as the cords he played when we were in the music room a couple days ago, the day he had his awful episode. Him having epilepsy didn’t change my view on him, but I did become more wary around him, praying to every living deity to not let him have another episode in a long, long time.

 

As the song kept on playing, the lyrics from his notebook I took pictures of from what felt like ages ago popped into my mind with his voice singing them. It was beautiful, the song. I could hear it was Lance’s voice singing, my face making an impressed grimace when Lance was able to hit the high notes and guttural screams. Who knew, he liked metalcore music.

 

I could feel the butterflies flapping in my stomach turn into a dull, soothing flutter. It felt nice, becoming a warm familiar feeling I always felt whenever I was happy, calm, content. Lance’s face shifted to a mirrored look of calmness, his eyes finding mine, green specks dancing in harmony with his song.

 

“That’s better. You look calmer.” Lance said, pulling the pod out of my ear, his warm finger tingling my neck.

 

“I love the song, Lance. Can you send it to me so that I can listen to it again?” I asked him, not looking him in the eyes, embarrassment finding my face all anew.

 

Now that I knew I was attracted to him, every little thing he did made my face feel like it was burning all the time. It was annoying as hell, and the guys could see it as clear as day so I always had to find an excuse to not hang with them or to avoid Lance sometimes, but it was no use, he was stuck to me like silly putty.

 

My phone vibrated letting me know that Lance sent me his song, something I wanted to talk more about with him once the election was over. He was an amazing songwriter, and now he was an amazing singer, too. This was something I had to tell him, he deserved to know how strong he was, his sad words finding my mind from a couple days ago.

 

To me, Lance had never been weak. He was always the strongest in our group, our leader: the smooth talking, stupid, dingus who never cared about what people thought about him. But when he had his seizure that day in the music room, his whole demeanor had changed. Like he had gone back in time, to the time he felt weak in grade school.

 

Over the course of the last two days while we used our tutor time to write my speech and practice giving it, he had been calmer, quieter than usual. It was like someone had held something dear to him hostage and he couldn’t be himself until he was able to get it back. It pained me to see his usual happy, dorky face become so...glum.

 

Today though, during class he was his usual chippery self. Probably to not worry me before my big speech. I wasn’t stupid though, he knew I could read him like an open book after being stuck together the last almost two months.

 

My hand fell from my chin when we heard the loud clanging of the last bell. I made a low groan, looking at the cue cards with my speech written on it, resting soundly on my desk. A smile found my face when I took in the purple markings of Lance’s stupid comments, all of them either words of encouragement, or lyrics from songs he wrote while being bored from my tutoring him. I decided to keep the same cue cards with his writing on it as a calming effect while I give my speech. On their own, my teeth began to chatter letting me know how nervous I was becoming the closer we got to giving my speech.

 

“Alright class, make way to the assembly hall. Keith, Lance I want you two to find the backstage of the assembly hall. Principal West will be waiting for you there.” Miss Allura had a weak smile on here dark face, almost like she still didn’t know who she wished to win the election.

 

When Lance and I gathered our things and made our way out of the classroom, Miss Allura rested a slender, perfectly manicured hand on my shoulder, saying, “Good luck, Keith.” It was a low whisper like she wanted to mean it, but something was definitely holding her back, a light constriction in her throat. Odd.

 

Lance smiled brightly at her, slinging a heavy arm around my shoulder, “No worries, Lur. I’ve been giving Keith speech tips all week. He’s gonna knock em dead, or else he’ll have me to deal with.” He winked, a look of terror finding his face when Miss Allura shot him a glare at the use of the nickname she despised.

 

“Get going, you two. It’ll all be over soon.” She reassured me, reading my worried look.

 

“Oh man, Miss Allura, Keith. She definitely has the hots for me. Did you see that sexy glare she gave me? Whooo mami, I felt them chills run down my spine!” Lance went on while we walked to the assembly hall.

 

I chose to ignore his usual bragging of how hot our history teacher was. Not that I felt jealous or anything. There was no use of feeling jealousy when you weren’t into the person talking a storm about said history teacher. It was all just pure attraction, I kept on reminding myself whenever my thoughts delved into that forbidden territory of my brain. I hated it, but the thoughts of Lance’s goofy smile and amazing singing voice always managed to warm my body, helping to steady my rapidly beating heart. It was such a pain in the ass.

 

We stood outside the door to the backstage of the assembly hall, but before one of us could open it a hard grip on my shoulder turned me around, a frightening look of terror emerging on to my face. Acxa, Lotor’s second in command. There was no word to explain Acxa, all I could say was that if you merged the words flawless and intimidating , you would find Lotor’s second in the search bar. Her piercing blue eyes pinned me from gripping the door handle.

 

Behind her stood the striking, and easy to see rainbow-haired Ezor. Lance always said if he had to be with any of the members of the Kova group, it would have to be Ezor because she looked less likely to bite his head off. He was right though, her fingers were waving at me and Lance while Acxa was staring us down with strong, feminine arms crossed in front of us.

 

“Kogane.” Her voice all dark and surprisingly calming said, a hand stuck out to me.

 

My gaze went down to her perfect, pale hand. It was full of rings, just like Lance. One of the rings look like a mood ring, a color of blue shining brightly in the light. She shot her outstretched hand up and down a few times for me to take the hint, a look of annoyance finding her perfectly symmetrical features.

 

I grabbed her hand, feeling confused, “I don’t get it.” I said hoarsely, remembering that I was supposed to give my speech in t-minus thirty minutes.

 

“You put up a good fight. Just wanted to let you know the Kova group accepts you as a worthy opponent against the boss. He might think he’s too good for this, so I stepped in to give our regards and good luck before giving your speech.” Her hard look softened, “What I’m trying to say is, don’t take it too bad if you lose. We’re not going to bite you in the ass for going against us. We’re just really good at what we do, and we acknowledged what Team Voltron did to us to try and win. Maybe when all of this is over, we can...hang?” Her voice had a light tone to it indicating that everything she said was all true.

 

Lance pulled me behind him before I could even open my mouth, “Now you listen here…” He eyed her figure up and down, a look of terror mirroring my own expression. I knew Lance was terrified of Acxa but he persisted with what he wanted to tell her, “Missy….voting hasn't started yet. You wait till Keith gives his awesome speech. Lotor’s gonna have to run home to mama or papa and ask for a nice haircut to pack away all that fucking dirt hidden inside those natural bleach locks. We got this.” Lance re-slung his arm over my shoulder, pulling me tightly into his side, warmth blooming inside of me.

 

At that, Acxa only smirked, waving a single finger at Ezor to follow her into the assembly hall. Both Lance and I had different expressions, mine a look of apology and Lance trying to be intimidating, but definitely not able to sport it. Ezor winked a rainbow lensed eye at us before following Acxa into the hall. “See you boys on the other side.” She made a kissy face at Lance, his whole body going slack, a look of pure lust finding him.

 

I jabbed his side with my elbow, keeping the door open, “Come on, let’s try and win this election.”

 

We found Adam and Lotor facing each other with challenging looks behind the stage, a large red curtain hiding the school on the other side. It was not a pretty sight. Adam looked like he was hoping an assassin would pop up out of nowhere to slice the man-boy’s perfect long hair to shreds. Adam hated Lotor with a passion, he sometimes wished Shiro would find something on his database at work so that he could suspend him to avoid looking at his perfect face. I always wounded up ignoring his tangents on Lotor, they were the same every time for the last three years and two months. He’d have to suck it up, act like a grown man once in a while, but some things never change, I thought looking at Lance talking to Adam like they were old pals.

 

Lotor smirked an evil grin my way, turning away not giving me an ounce of his time. All he ever cared about was himself or being president. I didn’t even know what he wanted to do after high school. Who was he going to be once his status of student body president was finally demoted? Who was he going to be in college, was he even going to college?

 

Then it hit me, I had no idea who I was running against. All Lotor had ever been to me was a bully, and a terrifying president. Hopefully, that would all change over the weekend on Monday when the votes would be in and we’d know the results.

 

Still, he did do a damn good job as being president. I was flabbergasted at times to think about why we were even running against him, but every school needed something to entertain them. Winning wasn’t that important to me, but it was important to Lance, so I would do my damn well best to make him happy.

 

I felt a hand rubbing my back, wondering if it were Lance. I tipped my head up finding one of my dads. “Hey, how you feeling? You ready?” Adam asked, smiling at Lance who was giving me a soft smile, both his tan hands giving me a thumbs up.

 

My mind went back to the cue cards with his little notes on them calming my heartbeat. Being nervous was all part of the process. It was to be expected. If I weren’t nervous to give a big speech, I might as well be a robot like Lotor.

 

I smiled at Adam, then at Lance feeling courage finding me when I say, “Let’s get this party started.”

Chapter Text

In that moment while watching from backstage, looking at Lotor dominate the podium with his amazing speech, I felt like an insect. I wanted to take back what I told Adam and Lance. I wanted my courage to come back to me and make me invincible before it was my turn to take on the stage and in front of approximately a thousand students.

 

I felt a hurl coming on in my throat. My hands found my mouth, and instantly, Lance was by my side with both hands on my shoulders. “Hey, man. You can still back out. I can give the speech for you. I think the school would understand if you pretend you were K.O. for five minutes.” He tried to joke, but his words couldn't reach my ears. All I could hear was the beating of my heart going a million miles per second.

 

My lungs sucked in the deepest breath I could take, feeling the rise of Lance’s hands on my shoulders as I breathed in. Warm air left my lungs for a long time before I turned around to show him I was okay, “Thanks, Lance. I know how much you hate standing in front of a crowd so I’m not going to torture you like that. This has to be all me….besides you wrote my speech with me, it’s going to be killer…” I winked at him, a look of surprise finding both our faces when we heard a loud applause from the assembly hall, and Lotor’s slick voice thanking his fans.

 

Lotor was wearing a look of approval when he proceeded to move to the backstage, meeting Lance and me. He was wearing a black suit, looking like he was part of the mafia, he opened his mouth, finally having something to say to me, “Alright, Kogane. I’ve warmed them up for you, but I don’t think any of them will pay much attention. My speech really made a number on them. Who could forget a face like mine.” He winked a dark blue sinister eye, his white smile blinding us making us wish we’d rather stare at the sun.

 

Lance was ready to make a number of him, but I grabbed his lifted fist in time to stop him, shaking my head slightly before walking past our competitor. “The beginning of a movie is always the most boring part, Loturd. Here comes the point of no return.” I said as I passed him, my voice trying to mock his own so that he knew how it felt to be talked at by him. Not fun, that’s what.

 

Lights were blinding my sight when I made it to the podium, taking in the shadowed contours of every student and faculty member of Garrison Prep. My sight regained its focus and I could make out Shiro and Ruby sitting in the front row, waving at me. Ruby had a wide toothy smile on her face when she caught my stare, her little hands going crazy. Shiro held a thumbs up to me, pulling Ruby close to him to point at me probably telling her how proud she should be of her big brother.

 

Before I could open with my speech, I chanced a quick glance behind me to see if Lance was watching. I caught the wave of an ocean when Lance was leaned against a wall from backstage, his ankles and arms crossed and his signature smile directed at me. All the nerves that were building up inside of me causing a ruckus in my veins and heart had calmed like a still river. I was ready.  

 

I cleared my throat, taking in the whole school with a note of accomplishment. I was here, all because of Lance. I’ll kill him later , I thought. I had a speech to give. My mouth opened,

 

A lot of you might not have known who I was before I was nominated to run against Lotor. Others might already know me as the principal's son, or as the teacher’s pet, or golden boy or my friend Lance’s favorite; nobody . To some of you, the people who already know who I am; I am Keith Kogane. And after this speech, to all you, the whole school, I will not be nobody anymore. To you, I will be; Keith Kogane; a somebody, the person I choose to be; myself.”

 

I stopped to breathe, looking quickly back to Lance to see if he was listening to me behind the podium. He caught my quick stare, a bright smile flashing my way, both his thumbs up at me. My heart-rate calmed again. I inhaled a new breath, pretending I was smelling the scent of woodsmoke and spearmint,

 

“I may not be as calculated as my friend Pidge, or as creative as my friend Hunk, I most definitely am not as articulated as Lance McClain. But I am dedicated, I am persistent, I am my father Shiro’s son. I am my other father, Adam’s son. I am someone who will try to follow up on his promises. Someone who will not give up, but will allow it to happen if necessary because we are all only human. I’m not a machine like Lotor, our current president. I want to prove to my fellow students, teachers, friends and family that even humans can become someone even if there are speed bumps on the road of life. Anyone is allowed to give up, to reach rock bottom because from the bottom the only way from there is up.”

 

Another long breath before I felt like continuing. My gaze took a panoramic turn to see if the students were listening, I couldn't see anything so I went on,  

 

“So, yeah, I might make bad decisions from time to time. I might not achieve all of my promises, but, I want to be a president that is seen as a human, as someone who shouldn’t have to feel the pressure of those around him. Instead, I want to be a president who listens to those who are in heavy need. Listen to those who are afraid to speak up, to those who feel the need for help at school but are too closed up in their minds to reach out to someone. I want to be that someone.”

 

I shifted to a new cue card, finding purple handwriting at the corner. Lance had drawn a little heart, and the words Lancey-Lance on it. Such a self-absorbed douche, I thought, feeling my cheeks heat not from the light, but from his stupid little comments on the cards. I needed to go on, there wasn’t much left of my speech and I think I was doing pretty well,  

 

“What I’m trying to say with this speech, is that I have no idea what being a student body president means. I know it means to clean up the school, to please the students. But for me, I want it to be so much more than that. I don’t want students to cower when they meet me, I want them to know my name, say hi to me, call me Keith instead of pet or nobody . I want them to be able to come to me and just talk. Being president at GP should be something anyone can achieve. I want to be the first one to help you; you out there sitting in this hall right now thinking that you’re not good enough to become student body president, but rather think that it can be achievable. I want to be that first step to the future of GP.

 

I am Keith Kogane. Son, brother, friend, student and most importantly, my own person. I hope you vote for me, for a new future at GP. Thank you for listening.”

 

It was quiet at first, my ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton. But within a few seconds of only hearing my heartbeat in my head, a loud applause sounded from the large hall. Everyone stood up from their chairs applauding me.

 

Stunned. I was stunned. They liked my speech. There wasn’t much to do other than take in their applause and find my father behind the stage. Adam clapped my shoulder, leaning in to me, “I’m proud of you, Keith. If you don’t win, you’re still somebody to me.” He said in my ear. I felt tears threatening to rise, but blinked them away as I found Lance standing with Pidge and Hunk behind the curtain.  

 

“Sick. That was so sick, Keith! You didn’t even need my help.” Lance leaned in, his hand squeezing mine for two seconds before letting go. I wanted him to grab my hand again, I still felt like hurling even if the worst part was over.

 

“When did you guys come? Weren’t you in the hall?” I asked Pidge and Hunk who were beaming at me.

 

“Adam found them in the assembly hall, said they could hang out back with me. They’re your friends, Keith so we needed them here to back you up. But, looks like you didn’t need any help.” Lance winked at me, his brig brown hand slapping my back.

 

It felt amazing to finally be done with the hard part, but now we had to wait over the weekend before any students could vote. I heard Adam’s voice through the microphone on the podium, “That’s a wrap for our elected students to give their speech. Let their words sink into you over the weekend. Voting will be on Monday, your homeroom teachers will give you the time-slot to make way to the voting booths. Have a nice weekend, everyone!” Adam dismissed the school.

 

We heard the whole school filing out of the hall, sprinting almost to get home and away from the school. It was hilarious to listen to. School’s not a prison, I thought but was slapped out of my thoughts when Lance pulled me in to ask what we were doing this weekend.

 

“Movie night?” I asked, directing my gaze at Pidge since we always wounded up at her place to watch movies.

 

Pidge made an apologetic look, “Sorry, guys. My parents are taking me to this new science museum up state. Hunk is tagging along, too.”  She pointed to Hunk who was busy opening a candy bar.

 

Hunk caught my incredulous look, pointing the chocolate bar towards me asking if I wanted any. I grabbed the bar out of his hand chomping into it, the chocolate goodness creating a hum of pleasure vibrate from my throat. The bar disappeared in seconds once I was given a bite. Hunk licked his fingers clean while Lance was thinking about weekend plans.

 

“Then I guess that leaves the two of us, Mullet. You know what that means?” He jabbed an elbow at my side, hitting my ribs causing me to giggle. He knew exactly where my funny bone was, this would not end well if he continued jabbing me.

 

My eyes caught Pidge’s smug look when I opened my eyes after giggling too much from Lance’s unconscious tickling. Her expression told me she was thinking about her question from our campaign days, and she could just stuff that question far into the depths of the ocean. It wasn’t true, or not as much as she thought it was.

 

Lance and I hung out a lot alone, especially at my house. This weekend wasn’t any different, she was just there to receive the memo that Lance was going to be at my place watching a movie instead of being at her place. Nothing’s going to happen, nothing at all. I would make sure of it. Besides, it was too obvious that Lance was too hung up on Miss Allura or Ezor to even remotely think of me in that way. He needed to know we were friends first.

 

“You guys know you can leave, school’s been over for like ten minutes.” Adam came by after locking up the assembly hall and turning off all the lights.

 

That was when I noticed we were all still standing backstage, not moving a muscle to get the hell out of here. We needed to enjoy the weekend to the fullest before panic found us again on Monday. Only three more days, and this carousel would finally be over, with me either becoming the school’s new president or hopefully, seen differently in my peers' eyes. Time would tell, I guess. But for now, Lance and I had a movie to watch.  

Chapter Text

Lance had to go home after school on Friday, but today he was back at my house in his rightful spot on the couch. Ruby and Kosmo were taking up all of his space, giving him all the attention he always got whenever he was over.

 

“Ruby you ready to bug Keith again?” Lance asked happily, petting Kosmo who was resting on Lance’s lap.

 

Ruby jumped up and down wearing her adorable pink Dora the Explorer t-shirt with matching purple pants. Adam picked it out specifically for her because he loved the show always being the one to point out everything before Ruby even had a chance at guessing. He was such a bad parent, I mocked in my head shaking it in disbelievement. Adam and Shiro were amazing parents, but whenever it came to contests they became predators. Never, ever play Trivial Pursuit with them, all hell would break loose as soon as you had to choose a color.

 

Ruby found the movie we were going to watch on Netflix, switching it on with the volume up on high ready to sing to all of the annoying songs. Shiro and Adam were out this Sunday since Lance and I agreed to babysit Ruby. They needed a day out to be husbands once in a while and I agreed with that. Also, Ruby loved being around Lance and I got to see both their smiles in the same room which warmed my heart tenfold so it was a win-win situation basically.

 

The movie played and Ruby was glued to the screen giving me and Lance some space to talk if we wanted to. Lance had seen the movie a billion times because Ruby always put it on whenever he came over, she loved hearing him sing to the songs. Guess I wasn’t the only one who thought he had an amazing voice that should be heard by more people.

 

The couch grew quiet, with only the noise from the movie and Ruby singing along to the songs playing. She looked back with a happy smile waiting for Lance to join in. As if on cue, he opened his mouth to sing Let it go with everything he got, standing up to imitate Queen Elsa dancing around in the movie. It was a sight to see, but it was one I had seen many times before. This time though, I decided to join in on the dancing hoping Ruby thought it would be a blast to see her big brother dance to her favorite song.

 

Lance made a shocked expression, but it softened when he noticed how much Ruby was enjoying the sight of us playing around, dancing and singing to the disney song. While I twirled around pretending I was queen Elsa, Lance grabbed my hand pulling me close to him then twirled me out of his grasp, still singing, hitting a high note. His hand stretched out again asking for me to take it. I took it, catching his stare, green specks flying with delight at the warm touch of my hand grabbing his.

 

We kept on dancing till the song finally ended, making me feel a bit winded when I fell on to the couch. “Yay, Lance! Yay, Keith! Again, again!” Ruby screamed darting to the remote to rewind the song. I yanked it away from her right on time, no way was I going to listen to that song for what would be the 9 billionth time within the time span of a week. Let a guy catch a break.

 

When the end credits found the screen, Ruby was fast asleep on the recliner with Kosmo curled up into her sleeping as heavily as her. Seriously, even though she was five, she could snore louder than Adam and Shiro combined.

 

I put on Tangled in the background, turning the volume down low so that Lance and I could finally chat. “Oooooh, I love this movie, Keith.” Lance pointed at the TV, wearing a dreamy face when Rapunzel and Flynn Rider appeared on the screen. “She’s like my favorite disney princess, and Flynn is sooooo dreamy.” Lance held both his hands up to his face at the mention of the hunky delinquent.

 

It was funny because I really liked Flynn Rider, too. Coincidence? “Yeah, I know you love Tangled , you never shut up about it. Thought I’d put it on now that the monster is asleep, or else Frozen would be on again in seconds.” I said, looking at Ruby hoping she’d sleep for awhile, I did not want to hear Let it go again.

 

Without a second thought, Lance was close to me on the couch. I could feel his hip close to mine, warmth spreading from his warm body. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt and black jeans. His hair was all tousled getting longer at the back, his bangs falling in front of his blue-green eyes if he didn’t push them away. He looked good, I thought wanting to close the gap between our hips.

 

He leaned in to my shoulder, resting his head on my shoulder now, lifting his legs on the far end of the couch to watch the movie. We enjoyed the silence between us, the movie playing with a low volume, and Ruby in front of us resting safe and sound. A perfect Sunday.

 

“Hey, Keith.” Lance tried to get my attention as I was zoning out, tiredness finding me.

 

I hummed at his attention. “Yeah…?” I asked, resting my head on top of his, watching Rapunzel and Flynn in the boat singing to each other.

 

“I’ve been thinking about your speech.” Lance started, shifting to sit up and look at me. His legs were crossed, hands on his knees, blue-green eyes drowning me with curiosity.

 

“Okay, what about it?” I asked, tilting my head to the side not sure what he was on about. Did he not like my speech? Was I too forward with it, did I not give enough umph when I gave it? Will he scold me because I changed it up a bit? Now I was dreading what he was going to say, trying to avoid his blue gaze pinning me.  

 

“I can’t stop thinking about it, Keith. But, you called me your friend in your speech. Is that true? Are we friends now? Since...well...I really want to be your friend.” said Lance, while tapping his index fingers together, a small blush of pink finding his cheeks. When he tipped his head up, his blue-green eyes found me creating a flash of heat in my gut, “Pleeeease?” He smiled dorkily, jabbing an index finger in my rib, my funny bone.

 

I giggled when his finger reached my rib. Of course, it hadn’t occurred to me that I did mention Lance as my friend in my speech. I had seen him as my friend for a while, but I guess the word hadn’t exactly been said out loud to confirm our friendship. But, were words needed for things like this? I thought Lance knew we were friends.

 

“Lance…” I started, catching a wave with my dark eyes. He had a worried look on him, one that said he was terrified I was going to send him home and never see me again, such a dork, I thought, then said, “We’ve been friends for awhile now. But if you need to hear it.” I made an exasperated noise before I said, “From here on out, I officially dub our tutor-delinquent relationship to friendship. There, happy now?” I smiled taking in his wide toothy grin turning my insides into a melted puddle.

 

“Ecstatic, Mullet.” He mocked, moving his brown fingers close to my ribs again threatening to jab me. I shot a gloved hand in his face to keep him away from killing me with giggles. When I wasn’t paying attention, staring at the TV, I felt a heavy body fall on top of me. Lance made an oof sound lifting both his hands, planting them next to my face, blue eyes pinning me with shock.

 

“Keith…” Lance swallowed, noticing how close his face came to my own when he fell on me.

 

I mirrored his look, feeling like someone had poured hot tea all over my face. In that moment, we both heard the door open. Lance almost jumped off of me, darting as far away from me as possible, pretending to watch the movie when Adam and Shiro came into the living room.

 

“Hey, you two. I see babysitting went well. She’s out like a light.” Adam came in carrying two bags, smiling warmly at Ruby still sleeping on the recliner, then directing his gaze to the TV, “ooooh, Tangled ! Lance that one’s your favorite, right? I remember Keith mentioned it some time ago.” Adam then said embarrassing me to the max, his stupid dad grin making its way to me.

 

My arms were crossed giving him a don’t you dare look. Both him and Shiro embarrassed me enough, they could tone it down a bit now, I thought. Lance had been here so much lately, that the teasing was getting old. Apparently, not for them because now Shiro came in and wanted a go at it, too.

 

“Eyy, Tangled ! Keith, let me bet you put it on for Lance, how romantic.” He teased, picking Ruby up from the recliner, a soft little moan escaping her throat. She was such a heavy sleeper.

 

My eyes glanced at the clock. It had gotten pretty late, and we had school tomorrow. But, I wanted Lance to stay over a bit more, “I think we have some homework to--” I started, but Adam held up a perfectly tanned hand in my direction. Guess I wasn’t getting out of this one.

 

“Nope, we bought your favorite pasta for tonight, Keith. You and Lance are having dinner with us, no homework tonight.” Adam commanded, handing me the bag with the ingredients for my favorite pasta dish.

 

He knew exactly how to lure me in, that rat bastard. Every time Lance was over, I tried to get us out of eating dinner with Adam and Shiro. Mostly because the two of them became buddy cops, interrogating us until our bones were dried up. But, luring me in to eat my favorite pasta. That’s low, even for him. They wanted to know something, and I was scared about what it could be.

 

“Come on, let’s make dinner.” I nodded at Lance to follow me into the kitchen before Adam or Shiro decided to steal him from me and ask him personal questions that was none of their beeswax.

 

In the kitchen, I started finding all of the pots and pans we needed to make Pasta Carbonara, my ultimate favorite pasta dish. It was as simple as heating up mac and cheese, but it was just so freaking good and I couldn’t wait to have Lance taste it.

 

“Here, pour water into this and put it on a boil. Then you can hack the bacon.” I started giving Lance orders, handing him a pot.

 

He took it with no argument, getting straight to work. While he turned the water on, I felt a splash on my face, and a small giggle escape his mouth. How dare he, I thought grabbing at his side with my fingers, his funny spot. A loud laugh left his mouth when I kept on tickling him, his laugh ending every single war on the planet.

 

“Okay, less dilly dallying and more cooking. I’m starving.” I said, making the sauce.

 

When dinner was ready; Adam, Shiro, Ruby, Lance and I all sat at the table. Kosmo waggled his tail on the floor hoping for a taste of my amazing cooking skills. Unfortunately, Shiro was a strict parent and never allowed us to feed him human food since he meant it wasn’t good for his bowels. TMI is all I want to say.

 

“So…” Shiro started, glancing from me then to Lance. Here it comes, interrogation time.

 

I groaned loudly so that he knew how frustrated I was with this, and that I knew it was coming giving him a cold stare. Shiro ignored my stare, smiling at Lance, “Lance, did you send in any college applications? Got one in mind you want to get in to?” He asked, surprising me that it didn’t have anything to do with me in love with him or something within the lines of romance. Thank the gods, I thought.  

 

Lance didn’t hesitate to answer full of pasta goodness in his mouth, “I applied to a couple, but I’m hoping to get into the science one that Adam recommended. I have a knack in calculous and if I could find a couple courses in the field of science, it would pretty cool to try them out.” He smiled happily, taking another bite of the pasta, “Although, I might take a year off and focus on my music.” He then suddenly said, shocking me and probably losing Shiro’s respect now. So close, so, so, close.

 

Music? He wanted to focus on his music? He never told me any of this, why did he hide this brand new information from me? “What are you talking about, Lance? You hate doing things in public, and now you want to pursue in a music career? You know you’d have to sing in public?” I tried to open his eyes, but he gave me a cold look now letting me know I was embarrassing him in front of my parents.

 

“I know that, Mullet.” He spat, literally spat since some of the carbonara landed on my cheek, “It’s just that I think I have a thing going with my recent songs. You even told me you loved them. I’ll think about the whole singing in public thing later.” He reassured me, but I wasn't reassured. If he got into the college of his choice he should accept it, then think about a music career. He wasn’t thinking straight and it irritated the hell out of me.

 

“Keith. This is Lance’s decision to make, it’s not like you’re married. That would be a whole other case. Lance if you need any guidance or counseling, I’d recommend to talk with our counsellor at school, she’s amazing at her job.” He winked at Lance, then gave me a calm down look.

 

His look did calm me down, it was the look that said he’d fix this. I was just thinking about what would be the best for him. He’s super smart and could land a sweet job after college, an opportunity like that is hard to pass. Is what I should tell him, I thought being a bad friend.

 

“I’m sorry, Lance. It’s just that you’re super smart and I think that if you get accepted into that college you should say yes. You know you could land a sweet, sweet job. How about working with music on the side?” I suggested, but was shot down by a crashing tidal wave.

Lance ate up his dish, then wiped his mouth with a white napkin, “Dinner was great. I think I need to head home, it’s getting late.” He stood up to leave, a look of disappointment shining on his face.

 

Damn, we officially become friends and I go and screw it all up all and all on the same day.. “Lance, let me walk you out.” I asked, standing up waiting for an approval. He had both his hands in his jeans pockets, his back to me until he finally shrugged. I took that as confirmation to follow him out.

 

We stood outside his blue Ford Fiesta. Lance was leaning against the driver seat door, a look of irritation covering his golden face, blue eyes looking down at the pavement, “Well…” He started, tipping his head up to face my apologetic stare.

 

“I’m sorry. I was a shitty friend in there. You should be allowed to do whatever you want to do. It’s just that...College is so important.” I stated, but was interrupted when he shot a ringed finger out to my face.

 

You think college is important, Keith. For me, it’s just more school, more work. I only applied to those colleges because you wanted me to, and it made you happy. We just have to see what happens when spring comes along. It’s only October...you have a birthday coming up right? Let’s think about that and the election….” He remembered, a light-bulb flashing above his face. Scheming face , I thought. I would recognize that look anywhere.

 

“Yeah my birthday’s on the 21st...then there’s homecoming like a day or two after. Man, why do schools have so many events? I can’t even keep track on what’s for lunch in the cafeteria tomorrow.” I chuckled, relief finding me when Lance chuckled back our small fight hopefully in the past now.

 

Lance planted a brown hand on my shoulder, his smile threatening my knees to buckle but his hand kept me steady, “Tomorrow’s Monday meatball madness. Disgusting shit, but can’t seem to stop eating it for some reason.” He opened the door to his car, dipping into the driver’s seat. His face found mine again, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Keith. Thanks for today, give Ruby a goodnight kiss from me. I hope I get to call you president tomorrow.” He said, a soft smile spreading on his face.

 

“If not, we’ll go for birthday cake ice-cream.” I tapped on the roof of his car, leaning in to him almost kissing his cheek without thinking. Regaining my composure of what almost happened. I pull back quickly to say, “Uhhh...so yeah, drive safely. See you tomorrow. See ya!” My voice became super sheepish as I tried to run to my front door.

 

Lance shot a two-fingered salute my way while he pulled out my driveway, “That was close.” I heard Adam’s voice behind me, standing in the front door opening, his glasses glinting in the moonlight while wearing a smug face.  

 

“Shut up.” I say, walking into the house.

Chapter Text

Time was standing still. We were still in third period, for what felt like had been three days, and I could feel my legs shaking restlessly for the bell to ring us out to lunch. The gang and I needed to discuss statistics before voting was up. Freshman voted during first period and sophomores voted second period. Juniors and us seniors had to wait until after lunch, hence the restlessness in my legs.

 

Pidge said she was going to calculate what she thought the outcome would be after votes are up. She also said that she would have some form of a result ready during lunch so that bell better ring on the dot. Unfortunately, there was still twenty whole minutes left before that sweet, sweet melody ringed in my ears.

 

Miss Honerva was busy talking about something on the board when Lance had to turn around to tell me something. Couldn’t it wait until the bell rang, like she’s standing right there and can see everything. Nothing ever stopped that delinquent.

 

“Oh lord, only four periods left and we might have a new president.” said Lance, the green specks in his eyes were flying today. The sun shined bright orange color through the windows giving us an Autumn vibe.

 

His comment didn’t unnerve me. I was prepared to take my loss as a man if I don’t win the election. But, winning against Lotor would be sweet, and very rewarding. I could picture the look on Lance’s face when they announce me as their new student council president, his lips curling into a wide, bright smile, his hands finding my shoulders jumping up and down behind me laughing at Lotor. During that thought, I felt a familiar sinking feeling in my stomach, bile threatening to rise all over again the last time the thought of becoming president intruded my mind.

 

“No, Keith.” Said Lance in a worried tone reading my sudden stillness in an instant, “We need to find the music room. Come on.” Lance stood up from his seat, looking really good in his black and white checkered pants, white shirt and black suspenders.

 

“Mr. McClain, class isn’t over yet. Get back in your seat!” Miss Honerva called from the board, her voice pulling up every head in the classroom towards the two of us.

 

Staring at Lance’s expression, it was obvious to read. He wanted to help me calm my anxiety, but sometimes we couldn’t get what we wanted. Miss Honerva had a sinister look that mirrored Lotor’s to a tee, no wonder since she’s his aunt. Why was everyone related at this school? He sat down slowly in his seat, his blue-green eyes causing a ruckus of flying green specks everywhere in a storming rage.

 

“Thank you.” Miss Honvera said mockingly, continuing on the board.

 

My heart rate was still pacing fast, but Lance’s chivalry kind of managed to calm it down a bit. Anxiety was a tricky thing, and I knew Lance could relate with his epilepsy. A smile tugged on my lips when I poked a pencil between his shoulder blades hoping he’d turn around.

 

His golden face caught mine, thin brows furrowed at me, “Thanks….for trying. I feel better, though. Just really nervous...” I told him quietly, making sure Miss Honvera couldn’t hear us.

 

Lance only smiled, a slight nod lifting from his head before he turned back around to continue writing something. I got curious and tried to look over my desk to see what he was writing. All I could make out from my point of view behind my desk were pencil markings of letters on a white piece of paper. Was he writing another song?

 

The thought dissolved when the bell finally rang like music to my ears. Lance and I both got up, catching each other's gazes, a corner shooting up on Lance’s mouth when he looked at me. My heart did a little dance in my chest before I bumped a fist at his shoulder for him to follow me. We filed out of the classroom and darted for the cafeteria ready and dreading to hear Pidge’s calculations of the vote so far.

 

“You look good today, Keith. Ready for that acceptance speech, I see.” Lance winked at me while we walked towards the cafeteria.

 

My choice in wardrobe today was believable enough, picked out by Shiro. He had gone on a shopping spree during his date with Adam, buying me a lot of great clothes that suit my new look. He was finally accepting who I wanted to be, and I felt like we were finally getting closer.

 

Today, I went with a pair of red leather pants, tucked into Lance’s black Doc Martens, and a white t-shirt under a black flannel. My objective for today’s look was to look classy, but also cool and myself. Lance approved so that was good enough for me, also Shiro picked these clothes out which definitely made it good enough for me.

 

“Thanks. I’m glad we’re the same shoe size, I love these boots!” I kicked a booted foot up in the air showing them off to Lance.

 

He was wearing a grim look probably jealous because I suited his boots better than he did. “You can keep them, you look better in them than I do anyways.” His arms were crossed, his baby face making its way on his face.

 

My cheeks decided to bloom a dusty pink color when he said I could keep them. He wasn’t any better though, his cheeks were a flame. Did he feel anything for me too, or was he just easily embarrassed?

 

“Thanks! Let’s look at it more as a trade. You still have my favorite flannel.” I reminded him, a smug look finding my face now.

 

Lance went all sheepish at the mention of him still having my favorite shirt. I knew I could have asked for it back a long time ago, but I really liked it when he wore it. A loud snicker escaped me when we made it to the cafeteria, finding Pidge and Hunk drowned in each their own thing.

 

Pidge was looking at numbers on her phone, her DS completely forgotten next to her. Hunk was eating, as usual, but he was also looking at numbers that Pidge had probably given him to look at.

 

“How’s it looking?” I asked, setting my tray with Monday Meatball Madness down on the table, Lance mirroring me.

 

Pidge was making a sour look, her glasses had fallen down to her nose not bothering to push them back up. She made an exasperated noise when she said, “It’s going to be a really tight race, my dudes.” Her glasses slid up from her nose, “From what I’ve gathered over the past two weeks, there’s going to be a difference of three or four votes, but I can’t put my tongue on who’s going to win.” Her voice sounded worried, affecting our own voices.

 

“Soo...we just have to wait until the results, is what you’re saying.” I said, assuming what we all were thinking.

 

She simply nodded, letting out a breath then going back to her DS. Hunk was stress-eating after learning Pidge’s answer, piling in with meatballs. Lance was also stuffing his face with meatballs while making a grimace at the disgusting taste, but he was right there had to be some kind of chemical they put into it that made us eat more of the disgusting dish.

 

I tried my hardest to eat something, but my stomach, not surprising, wasn’t on my side today always twisting and turning each time the fork neared my mouth. After some trial and error with my lunch, I had to suffice to drinking my coke, pushing my tray towards Hunk to vacuum it.

 

“Thanks, man.” Hunk said happily, dragging my tray close to him.

 

Lance was looking over at me every two seconds being super annoying, “What is it, Lance? You got something to say then say it already…” I said irritated, letting the vote bug me.

 

He crossed his arms, looking down at the bench between our hips, his blue-green eyes trying to melt the metal we were sitting on, “It’s nothing...you’re not eating and it’s stressing me out. I feel like I need to watch out for your health or else Adam and Shiro are going to bite me in the ass.”

 

Seriously, that’s what’s making him so fidgety? I didn’t believe him one bit, he was just spitting words to lead me on to what was actually bothering him, but I couldn’t force it out of him until later. The bell rang us in to fourth period. Only three periods left until the results, please tell my stomach to stop doing tumbles already.

 

I felt like those melting clocks in a Salvador Dali painting while staring at the clock to tick us out already. Final period with Coran was always the worst. His classes were so boring, and he was like Miss Allura always waiting until the bell rang on the dot to free us from hell.

 

My mind wandered to when we gave our votes last period. Lance looked all smooth and cool when he slid into the voting booth, ready to check off my name, I hope. Scratch that, I knew. If he didn’t vote for me, I’d bury him alive. All of this was his fault to begin with.

 

When it was my turn to vote, I felt a gaping lurch in my gut, my hand holding the pen hovering above the checkboxes with my and Lotor’s name printed on it. Adam was waiting outside the voting booth after I checked off my vote. He patted me on the shoulder being the only praise I needed at that moment. It would be a tough race, and If I lost, I think I would be okay with it. My only concern was a certain bronzed delinquent sitting next to me now, bobbing his leg up and down in a rapid speed of distress.

 

The speaker crinkled, “Attention students of GP, all the votes are in and we are counting them up as we speak. When the bell rings, every student will meet in the assembly hall when we announce who will be student body president.” Adam’s voice sounded worried like he knew who was going to win, and it wasn’t me.

 

As the bell rang, Lance waited for me to walk in step to the assembly hall. We didn’t talk at all on the way over, he only stole a couple glances at me trying to put a smile on my face without any luck. My anxiety was hitting me in the gut pretty hard for every step I took, walking closer and closer to the hall.

 

We both stood outside the door to the backstage area. I turned to face Lance, “Ice cream no matter what of the results?” I asked, holding a pale hand out to him.

 

“Of course, my treat.” He winked, grabbing my hand then pulling me in for a hug.

 

It was nice, our hug. No one was in the hall to witness our close embrace. We stood there for a couple minutes taking in the scent of each other. Lance’s spearmint and woodsmoke, and my vanilla spray that he gave me one time we went to the mall. Our hug helped my anxiety a lot, giving me the courage to finally open the door.

 

Adam rushed us both to the stage when he saw Lance and I walk through the door. Lotor was already standing by the podium, surrounded by his precious Kova group all looking intimidating and proud. Acxa flashed a wink at me when she caught my sudden stare at the Kova group and Lotor actually waving to the school. Seriously, that guy.

 

Every single student and faculty member were sitting with anticipation or bored looks to see who will become their president for the rest of the school year. Next year they would have to have a new election as Lotor and I were both graduating this year, but still, something exciting to this degree hadn't happened in a while at GP. Lotor’s smile was hard to read as it wasn’t his usual curled lips of death, but instead one of fear of losing. Maybe I did have a shot. Adam’s face was hard to read as well, not helping with my anxiety at all.

 

The room grew quiet, almost like someone had just died. If it weren’t for the constant hard beating of my heart in my ears, I would have sworn that I was the one who had died in that moment waiting for Adam to read up who won the election.

 

Adam cleared his throat when he stood behind the mic on the podium, “Alright, so the time has finally come to announce our winner. It’s been a tight three weeks of campaigns, speeches and colorful and creative craftsman ships, but I think this race has been enlightening for all of us and fun to be a part of. Keith..” Adam looked at me with a bright face, “Lotor..” He then directed his gaze to Lotor trying hard to give him the same look he gave me, “It is time. Please step forward so that the whole school can have one last look at you..” He snickered thinking he was being funny.

 

I stepped forward, feeling Lance gently punching a fist between my shoulder blades sending chills down my spine. Lotor followed suit, standing next to me with his arms crossed looking like a thirty year old business man in his dark marine suit.

 

We were total opposites standing on that stage next to each other, but in that moment, as we stood in front of the whole school waiting for the results, we couldn’t have been more alike. I caught a slight buckle at Lotor’s knees, but only barely, it was impossible to notice unless you were standing as close as I was. My heart was falling out of my ass, and the blood in my veins was growing hotter and hotter for each second that went by without Adam reading up the results.

 

Hard clicking noises sounded on the wooden floor coming from Miss Allura’s bright pink heels when she made her way over to Adam holding a white, folded piece of paper. The results. Now all I wanted to do was bite my fingernails until there was only the pink flesh beneath them left. Lotor held his smirk, his dark blue eyes following Miss Allura from when she handed Adam the folded paper until she walked off stage, her gaze never reaching ours the whole way down to her seat.

 

Adam cleared his throat again, reluctant to open the folded piece of paper. Just get on with it already, my anxiety could only take so much, I thought feeling sweat beads building on my brow from the warmness of the lights shining down on us. Adam unfolded the paper containing the results, his amber eyes not giving anything away. My heart was beating like crazy now making me feel like I was waiting to see if I would become the new Miss America. Waiting fucking blows, I thought. But, I could finally hear Adam speaking up.

 

“Students of GP, Faculty members. With a difference of only three votes, the title of student council president goes to….” Adam stopped for that fucking dramatic effect. Tell us already, my brain was screaming causing my blood to curdle.

 

Lance stood behind me actually biting his black painted nails. The green specks in his irises were so clear, I could see them all the way from where I was standing. Man, he was just as nervous as I was. In the crowd, I could spot Pidge and Hunk sitting next to each other, curled up close in anticipation. Pidge had her eyes closed and Hunk was looking distressed with the no eating policy in the assembly hall.

 

“Lotor von Gal! He will remain student body president for the rest of the school year. Congratulations, Lotor.” Adam tried to keep a happy tone, but the look on his face was obviously one of pure hatred.

 

Shock found my face when Lotor didn’t gloat as soon as Adam said his name. Instead, he turned to face me and reach a light tanned hand with a perfect manicure my way. I grabbed it, my shocked face turning into one of pure confusion.

 

“You dodged a bullet, Kogane. If you had won, I’d have to send one of my lesbians...uhh...one of my commanders on you. You can rest easy from now on…” Lotor’s despicable smile was back on his face now that he knew his title would remain his. He didn’t give me a second glance when he made his way to the podium to give his acceptance speech.

 

The rest of us pulled behind the podium to listen to Lotor brag about himself and how it was an easy win. He didn’t even mention how I was a worthy opponent or any of the words that Acxa told me before the weekend. He can suck it, I thought. Good riddance. Hopefully when he starts college he’ll realize how big of a douchebag he was.

 

Applause sounded loudly in the hall, a bunch of students who were obviously on Lotor’s side whooped and whistled his way as he made his way off the stage to go celebrate his win. The Kova group followed after him except for Acxa and Ezor who were still on the stage standing close to me and Lance.

 

They were both wearing their uniforms of short plaid skirts and white shirts. Acxa had painted her lips a bright crystal blue, her teeth blinding me when she smiled at me. I could feel the jealous heat rise from Lance behind me when Ezor also smiled brightly at me, her rainbow eyes unnerving me.

 

Acxa slapped a hand on my shoulder, pulling me close to her, “It was a good race, Kogane. Be glad you didn’t win, Lotor had something planned for his defeat and it would not have been pretty. He can be a really, really sore loser. Such a big baby.” She admitted, chuckling. Actually chuckling, “We’ll see you around, don’t be a stranger.” She winked at me and Lance.

 

Lance looked liked a drunken sap when Ezor kissed him on the cheek sending a flashing ripple of anger to my chest. Her rainbow irises caught my look of hatred towards her, like I wanted to grab her waist-long hair and put a boring brown dye into it then chop it all off while her eyes were taped open so that she could look. All she did was laugh in my face when she followed Acxa out of the assembly hall, “Bye, boys.” She cooed in a seductive voice, Lance still looking drunk waving a couple ringed fingers at her.

 

Adam, Pidge and Hunk were the only ones left in the assembly hall when everyone went home for the day. Lance was still standing close to me, the jerk of his hands telling me he wanted to hug me in comfort of my loss. But, to be completely honest, I was relieved. So relieved that I couldn’t wait to go eat birthday cake ice cream with my friends and family. My heart-rate had stilled, the warmth of my body only being warm whenever Lance was around instead of my anxiety causing a ruckus. It felt like the heaviest weight of my life had been lifted off my shoulders. Still, I was glad I got to be a part of this, it helped me open my eyes to see who I could become and strive to be in the future.

 

I turned to Lance, an ocean calling to me with a sea breeze. He smiled, I smiled back wanting so bad to close the gap between our bodies, but there were people nearby and it would be too awkward to hug him without them thinking it was because of something else.

 

“Ice cream?” I asked Lance, my gaze moving to Adam, Pidge and Hunk smiling at them.

 

“My treat.” Lance answered, the lips tracing his bright smile being more tempting than the best ice cream flavor ever invented.

Chapter Text

“Hell no! Rocky road is the best flavor, you are wrong!” Pidge screamed like a little kid in my and Lance’s direction, her spoon packed with rocky road ice cream.

 

Fucking disgusting, I hated chocolate ice cream to a degree that I’d let Lance braid my hair. On second thought, that sounded like a good idea, but my money was on that Lance sucked at braiding.

 

“Chocolate is a disgrace to all ice cream flavors….Now, birthday cake.” I took a large bite of my ice cream forgetting anything existed at the moment, savoring the amazing flavor.

 

Pidge only made a low grunt of frustration, then taking a spoonful of her ice cream and smearing it all over my birthday cake ice cream, “You...fucking gremlin.” I said in a low, sinister tone almost mimicking Lotor.

 

Lance and Hunk were laughing a storm next to us eating their own bowls of ice cream. Hunk was on bowl number five, trying all the flavors he wanted to taste. He loved every single one of them. He was a man of many flavors, or he was really indecisive.

 

“Hey, Hunk? How did it go with that chica?” Lance suddenly asked, switching ice cream bowls with me.

 

Hunk’s cheeks bloomed a dark red color, his voice going shaky, laughing uncontrollably, “Her name’s Shay, and she’s amazing. We’ve been talking on the Cord every day. She goes to a different high school upstate so we have a long distance relationship, but it’s going really well. She likes all the same games as me, I even tried a brownie recipe she sent me and oh boy, they were the best brownies in the universe.” Hunk was so drunkenly in love it was almost sickening, but still cute.

 

“Man, I’m jealous! I wouldn’t mind a chica to hold close to my hips. Smooches in the moonlight. Buying presents, singing songs.” Lance landed his head in his hands looking like he was watching one of his favorite romance movies. Tangled , definitely Tangled .  

 

“Don’t you have like a million girls begging for you at school? All you ever do is brag about these chicas you’re boning…” I stuffed a large spoon with ice cream in my mouth to keep my mouth shut. My jealousy had to cool down, I was only attracted to him, he could date whoever, not that I cared.

 

Lance ignored my question stuffing his own face with more ice cream, a loud hum of delight vibrating off of him, “So, what are our plans for the next weekends? Keith, birthday? Homecoming?” He asked us, but we didn’t know what to answer him. We were nerds, the outcast of GP, we weren’t expected to go to homecoming. I was a senior and I still hadn’t gone to homecoming, it wasn’t on my itinerary for this year either. But, incoming, Lance McClain.

 

“Seriously! You guys! We are going to homecoming whether you like it or not.” He exclaimed, finishing his ice cream, an ocean crashing into me when he caught my stare.

 

“I dunno...I don’t like being around so many people, and then there’s the dancing…and like do I wear a dress or a suit?” Pidge fidgeted her hands looking distressed.

 

“Girl! You wear whatever, we live in 2019 no one should judge anyone today! Own your body.” Lance pointed a spoon at her, a bright smile directed at her, but ended up warming me almost melting my ice cream nearing my mouth.

 

“Cool, cool, cool. Can we discuss Homecoming later? I need to bounce, mom wants me home now to try out a new recipe. Pidge you’re tagging along, I hate riding the bus alone.” Hunk dragged Pidge away from the table as she was shoveling her last bite of her ice cream, then looked at me like him and Pidge leaving was part of some diabolical plan.

 

I shot them both an evil glare when he and Pidge left the parlor in a haste. Lance was back at the counter ordering his third bowl of ice cream. The girl behind the counter was the same girl from our first time here together. She was wearing a bright smile on her face when she looked over at me sitting in our booth. I waved when she waved at me, probably thinking Lance and I were still dating.

 

“Man, I feel like kicking Loturd in the nuts. You should have won, Mullet. You’d make a fine president.” said Lance, placing a large bowl of birthday cake ice cream on the table with two large spoons sticking out of it, “Man, just thinking about you wearing a suit and sitting by a large wooden desk looking all important makes me tingle…” Lance chuckled at the thought of me looking like a real president, as if that would ever happen.

 

“Yeah, the loss hurt but I’m kind of relieved. I think with school, home, being with you guys and college, my anxiety would get to me pretty quickly if I won…” I admitted grabbing a spoon.

 

Lance had a contemplated look on his golden face, his peachy lips frowning for the first time in forever, “I’m sorry for ever nominating you. If I had known you better, and that you...” He began, but I shot a gloved hand up to his face, shaking my head, but I meant it well.

 

“You have nothing to apologize for, Lance. I’m still glad we got to be a part of this. It was an experience for me, and much of an eye opener.” I smiled brightly with all of my teeth, not letting my loss or this whole election get to either of us. We had to keep a positive vibe.

 

“How so?” He asked, grabbing his own spoon.

 

For one, it brought us closer, but I didn’t feel like telling him that, feeling a tinge of heat finding my cheeks like always when I was around him, “I was able to become someone, like you said the first day you drove me home. I realized that I was a nobody, and was able to make a name for myself. And most importantly it...well it pleased you.” I said, thinking about how happy he was when I gave my speech while licking my spoon clean of ice cream, staring intently at him then pointing my polished spoon at him, “Also we officially became friends without ripping each other’s heads off.”

 

“Instead we ended up with our heads full of glitter.” Lance chuckled, a soft smile finding his face, “I still find glitter on my scalp when I shower, but it was so worth it.” He winked, an ocean wave hitting me flat in the face.

 

Just looking at the goofy boy sitting in front of me, pummeling in with our favorite ice cream, I knew I had to do it. It felt like the right thing to do. I was finally brave enough to roam the school without feeling afraid anyone was going to call me stupid names, or cower in the music room as often as I did the first three years of high school. Being with Lance. He has been able to help reduce my anxiety so much. I have a lot to thank him for, but I think us finally becoming friends is a good start. Still, I feel like I need to repay him in some way, and I hope my next question will be alright.  

 

“Heh...Yeah. Listen Lance…” My hands started fiddling with each other, feeling the nerves shoot up in every nerve ending I own in my fingers. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going with this, feeling that loud thump in my ears coming back, but when my dark gaze caught his smiling face, I knew, just knew it was now or never,  “Do you want to go to homecoming...together?” I asked making a scrunched up face.

 

Lance was mid bite of his ice cream when I asked him, the green specks in his eyes flying everywhere almost creating a new ocean on the map of the world, “What like together, together? Like a date?” He then asked, his tone hard to decipher. He was smiling too, but he was always smiling so it was hard to tell if he was being serious or just his usual mocking self.

 

I shook my head rapidly feeling my face bursting with steam like from an anime, “No, well, no...just together you know without any dates. I dunno where I’m going with this, but you and me go to homecoming together, as friends without anyone else.” I tried to explain, but Lance had that same face whenever I tried to explain algebra to him.

 

Lance wounded up throwing the spoon back in the container, then slapping the flat of his hands on the table, his face a look of realization. He leaned forward to my face, his breath of birthday cake ice cream making me go hungry again, finding my nose, before he shouted, “Keith, that’s a fucking date….” He looked down at the table with his eyes closed, almost like he was irritated until he opened his mouth again, “But okay, we’ll go...As friends.” Then his eyes squinted. Scheming face. What now? “Only if you finally abolish the fucking rules. I hate them almost more than I hate Lotor.” He rapped his black painted fingernails on the table challenging me when he sat back down on his chair.

 

“Deal.” I answered without a second thought. I trusted Lance enough that he knew which territories not to tread with personal questions. Also we bullied each other enough in class that it has become comical, like we were buddy cop rivals in space or something.

 

“Cool beans. Then as my first personal question to you now that we’ve abolished that effin rule…” He began. I leaned in closer with anticipation to his question. What personal question could he possibly ask me now?

 

His arms were crossed, face in a hard thinking state, before his blue eyes found me, “What’s your romantic situation?” He was wearing a sinister smile, like he had a plan going on in his brain.

 

Shit? I wasn’t expecting that question to pop up between us. Why did he even care? Also, do I tell him that I’m gay or maybe he’s already caught on to that? I certainly, in no way possible wanted to tell him how attracted I was to him. How he was constantly in my head. That when I woke up every morning, looking under the covers with a loud groan, I had to give a silent apology for thinking about him in that way. It was obvious that he liked girls, but needs were needs, I guess.

 

I groaned silently at the flash of the memory of my morning state this morning before I decide to answer him, “There’s no romantic situation, Lance…” I stay quiet a few seconds, still not sure what to tell him, “I just don’t have time to like anyone or have a relationship. My future is all planned out and being romantically involved with someone before college would just be a nuisance.” Was all I could muster hoping he took the hint to back off with these types of questions because he wouldn’t get anything else out of me, “Can we please talk about something else, this is getting embarrassing and unnecessary.” I shot him an angered glare letting him know how serious I was.

 

“Okay, fine, chill….So, how about, erm, your biggest fear?” He then asked, still focused with these personal questions. Why did he even care? We were already friends, did we have to tell each other everything now?

 

Again, this was treading into unknown, and unwanted territories. Biggest fear? Meeting her again, of course, but thinking about her only causes my body to go weak. My sight to go blurry, my palms feeling clammy, brows growing heavy. Shit, just thinking about her right now is making my body react badly.

 

Lance held a hand out to me, almost touching my face, but he drew it carefully back when I waved a hand at him to pull away from me. I didn’t need any saving, this was my own doing. He pulled his hand all the way back, holding it with his other hand, rubbing it like someone had swatted it with an electric fly swatter.

 

“Sorry, Keith. I can see that was a dumb question….” He was still rubbing his hand, the ocean in his eyes turning dull with apology, “How about we get out of here and catch a movie instead. Again, I’m sorry...I wasn’t thinking..” Lance took a shot and reached forward with his hand again and found mine, threading our fingers together under the table, a soft grin of apology reaching my blurred state, his ocean eyes bringing me back to shore.  

 

I shook my head like it was nothing, tightening our hold under the table, “I’m fine, Lance..fine..My biggest fear is to be rejected, I guess.” I answered his question quickly before I said, “A movie sounds great, let’s go.” My stomach clenched when I had to release his hand.

Chapter Text

You know that oof sound that’s popular on the internet? Well, this morning I made the exact replica of the sound when Ruby landed on top of my sleeping body to scream her lungs out wishing me a happy birthday.

 

Trust me, the kid is adorable to the max, but her jumping skills, killer. Let’s just say there wasn’t much oxygen left in my lungs to thank my family properly when Adam and Shiro made their way into my room with a cheesecake and eighteen candles stuck into it, while they sang happy birthday to me.

 

Eighteen. I was practically an adult, but honestly, I still felt like a little kid. And that felt great. Not everyone needed to grow up immediately. I thought I had to act like an adult since I was fourteen and was given my first credit card, but from the moment I met Lance and learned so much about him. I knew being an adult could be postponed a couple more years.

 

“Make a wish then blow out the candles.” Shiro prompted, wearing a bright smile sitting on the edge of my bed with Ruby on his lap clapping her hands in delight.

 

“Can I wish for the school day off?” I joked, but knew it wouldn’t bode well with either Adam or Shiro.

 

Adam stood with his hands on his hips taking in his family, “Haha, very funny. Make sure you get them all or else the remaining lights will let us know how many boyfriends you’re hiding from us.” He joked, setting the cake on my lap.

 

Wish? What the hell did I want to wish for? Only little kids made wishes when they blew out the candles, but if I wanted to wish for something. I sucked in a deep breath, closed my eyes to make a wish, then blew out the candles in one single, long blow.

 

“You missed one! Could it be Lance?” Adam teased, but was met with an angry glare.

 

“Lance! Lance!” Ruby clapped each time she said his name, a bright smile tugging on her lips.

 

“You two, enough teasing Keith. What do you think Lance got you for your birthday?” Shiro then asked, ignoring the remark from Adam.

 

Why would Lance even get me anything. He’s probably forgotten my birthday anyways, I haven’t exactly paraded around him that my birthday was today. When I thought closely about it, I don’t think I ever mentioned my birthday being today except for last week after the election. He must have forgotten about it by then.

 

Reading my quiet state, Adam spoke up, “Speaking of presents, let’s bring the cake down to the kitchen and we can give you our present.” He slapped his hands together before taking the cake from my lap and waving a hand at us to follow him downstairs.

 

We all sat with each our plate of cake, a hum of pleasure leaving my throat when I took a bite of the creamy deliciousness. Adam and Shiro were both looking intently at me, looking at each other with a silent conversation.

 

“You’re finally eighteen, Keith. You’re practically an adult, and you’ll be leaving for college when you graduate.” Shiro started, both his hands resting on my shoulders, his gray gaze staring proudly at his husband, “So..since you weren’t given one on your sixteenth birthday. We knew now would be the perfect time to buy you one since we want you to visit us a lot when you move.”

 

“Sooo…” Adam was holding a small, blue box, holding it out to me while it rested on the palm of his brown hand.

 

“You’re going to marry me?” I said glumly, looking at the small box not really understanding what it was they were giving me. Was I really that oblivious?

 

“Keith...don’t joke on your birthday. Shiro and I, we bought you a car!” Adam flashed a bright smile in my direction.

 

I was too stunned to even think. A car? Really? My legs straightened from the chair on their own, moving to the front door. In the driveway, stood a bright apple red, Fiat 500. A car. Son of a gun, those two actually bought me a car. Like a thing I could drive.

 

Warmth found my shoulder, Adam came to view when I craned my neck, “You guys didn’t need to buy me a car. Lance, he drives me…”

 

“Hey! Now you can drive Lance. He’s probably sick of driving you guys, too. You guys can take turns. I bet he’s used a lot of money on gas. Also, college.” Adam reminded me.

 

He was right, If I got into my dream college, we were speaking of at least a distance of three hours. A car would have made things much easier instead of taking a bus all the time. My lips tugged into a warm smile. I couldn't wait to show Lance and the guys, they’re going to freak, I thought.

 

“I need to call Lance to tell him he doesn’t have to drive to school today! Thank you!” I hugged Adam, then Shiro who were now standing with me in the driveway, all of us in our pajamas.

 

Shiro made a quick glance at his wrist, a black brow shooting up as fast as Lance’s driving, “Shoot, we’re gonna be late! Let’s get inside and get ready, Rubes! Keith, I’m letting your curfew extend by an hour since it's your birthday. Have fun with your friends after school.”

 

Ever since Lance visited us that day we brought Kosmo, Shiro’s been more, laid back. He has been less strict with me, treating me like the person I wanted to be. Less controlling, less demanding, but he was still persistent with my grades. If I ever came home with something lower than a B, I was grounded for a week to focus on my studies. So, some of strict dad Shiro was still there, but something had changed in him. And for the better since our relationship had grown much more, closer.

 

In my room after rummaging through my closet to find a birthday outfit, I went with wearing Lance’s The Clash t-shirt and a zippered red hooded sweater, and black skinny jeans. It was the end of October and the weather was getting colder. Still, my leather jacket managed to warm me, so I could sport it until the last minute. Maybe Lance had to take me shopping again soon for warmer clothes. Not only that, there was homecoming this weekend, and Lance said yes to go with me, as a friend, nothing else. But, we still needed to buy suits for the event or I could borrow something from Adam or Shiro, but I knew Lance would freak at that idea. Everything had to be in fashion with him. I rolled my eyes with a smile on my face at the thought.

 

I dialed his number.

 

“Morning, Mullet. Sup, I’m about to roll.” Lance said on his end, you could still hear how tired he was.

 

We wounded up gaming until past 1AM last night. Shiro bursted through my door like an axe murderer when we both ended up screaming at each other for support. His tired, angry face was not a pretty sight and made me find my bed pretty quickly right after that.

 

Hearing Lance’s voice made a small flutter in my gut, but the fluttering stopped when he didn’t wish me a happy birthday. Guess he did forget, “Hey! No need to drive today, I’ll be by your house in fifteen. Stand outside your front door by then. See ya.” I ended the call without even getting a confirmation, I’ll just assume he’ll listen to me.

 

I kissed Ruby on the cheek and hugged my dads thanking them again for my present before I took in my new ride. She was beautiful, Red. Her name was officially dubbed Red the moment I laid eyes on her. She was a Red, alright.

 

Hearing the ignition start was music to my ears. Her leather seats felt amazing on my body, pressing on the seat warmer made my backside all set for this day. I put on my latest list of obsessed songs, then pulled out of the driveway to pick up the gang.

 

In the time span of two months, I’ve only been by Lance’s house once. He never talked about his folks, and he never invited us over to his house. I haven’t even met his parents yet. There had to be something he was hiding about them, like maybe they were murderers and he was protecting them or being held hostage, or he was in on their killings. I quickly folded that thought when I took in a tall, bronze delinquent wearing a look of surprise when he saw me driving Red.

 

My own face mirrored his shocked stare when I took in what he was wearing. He looked so, dashing. Blazers were made for his tall build. Lance looked handsome as hell pulling off a dark blue blazer with a white t-shirt underneath and washed out blue jeans. Even his hair was slicked to the side. I had to do a double take to make sure I was looking at my delinquent friend and not a millionaire trying to win my heart. He could have been both to be completely honest, and still win me over.  

 

“Holy shit, man! Nice wheels.” Lance took in the leather interior, gliding his hands on the seat, getting situated in our new ride. When his hand was done feeling up my girl, he turned to face me, his usual grin finding his face. My whole body shuddered when his hands pulled me in for a tight, warm hug. His voice tingling my ear when he said, “Happy birthday, Keith.” Then, and this almost made my heart stop beating, he kissed my cheek.

 

The sudden kiss was harmless, and as quick as a bolt of lightning hitting the ground, but I swear to everything that exists this kiss would be a part of my skin for eternity. All I could do was blink at him, taking in the green specks in his irises bouncing side to side with pure satisfaction. Lance’s whole face beamed when he pulled back to look at my new shocked face.

 

When my face found its normal temperature, and my heart rate finally steadied, I smiled warmly back at him. My hand found my cheek, the exact spot he kissed trying to catch the phantom feeling of it in my hand so that I could put it in an envelope and hide it under my pillow for safe keeping. It might not have meant anything for him, could be a Cuban thing but still, it would be cherished by me no matter what.

 

“Thanks.” I said, still holding my hand to my cheek not sure how to react to him kissing my cheek. It was just a simple kiss, almost like a brother would kiss his little sister. But, this kiss felt somewhat more, romantic. I didn’t know what to make of it, but Lance wasn’t taking it any further so I decided to not take it any further either and start the car instead.

 

“I need to give you your present, man! I spent all week on it.” Lance smiled brightly, finding his phone, hooking it up to the bluetooth on my stereo.

 

“Lance, you didn’t need to get me anything.” I waved my hand at him, my dark eyes following the road, driving to Pidge’s. Besides, that kiss on the cheek was the cherry on top of everything. Nothing could beat that, not even birthday cake ice cream.

 

“Nonsense, you’ll have to get me something better when it’s my turn.” He challenged, hitting the play button on his phone.

 

Always turning things into contests. Typical Lance. Well, he did say he was my rival. I’ll have to get him something good, but first I needed to see what he actually got me before I could best him. The stereo turned up, music sounding from the speakers. Piano music played, a song I recognized instantly, but the vocals didn’t belong to MARINA, no, they belonged to Lance.

 

His voice sounded like an angel, so pure, so beautiful. The lyrics to Handmade Heaven were my favorite in the world, reminding me of a world where there was just two lovers flying away in a beautiful blue sky. Whenever I listened to the song, I always imagined myself having one wing and Lance having the other and together we would form wings of a bird. I know, super sappy, but this song has helped me through a lot of my anxiety.

 

The song ended just as we reached Pidge’s place. She wasn’t ready yet so I took the opportunity to thank Lance. My feelings for him were still everywhere, courage not being on my side at the moment, but I did dare to grab his hand in mine, squeezing it tightly.

 

“Damn, I love it. I love your voice so much. I get it, Lance. Why you want to take a year off and focus on your music. You’re amazing at it…” I left some unsaid words float in the air, this wasn’t the time for more arguments. I was still steadfast on him going to college though, but when that time came we’ll discuss it. Today was my birthday and I wanted us all to have fun, not fight, we didn’t need that kind of drama.

 

“What the hell! New car, who dis!? Damn, Keith. Congrats, and Happy b-day! Sweet..” Pidge shouted when she planted herself in the backseat, slapping me on the shoulder wishing me a happy birthday, but she was too focused on the new car than to even finish her sentence.

 

Hunk’s face was priceless when he saw me driving into his driveway with Red. We knew he had a candy bar or two packed away somewhere in his dark green cargo pants. Hopefully, he would keep them to himself until we reached the school. When we reached his driveway, he didn’t budge. I pulled my window down when he walked towards me, then a screech left my throat when Hunk dived in through the window to give me a bear hug screaming, “Happy birthday, Keith!!!”

 

Lance and Pidge were snickering in the car at Hunk’s sudden play at trying to kill me with kindness, but his bear hug was comfortable and felt nice. I felt, loved. He finally released me, and found the back seat next to Pidge, praising my new car. Lance was wearing a look that told me he was thinking long and hard about something, but it was gone in seconds when his blue-green eyes caught mine.

 

“So, you got anything planned for after school?” Lance asked, scrolling through my playlist, ignoring the guys in the back.

 

Did he want to do something, just the two of us? My mind wandered thinking about things I knew was unlikely, so I just shook my head. I have nothing planned for today, birthdays weren’t usually my thing, they brought back too many painful memories, except for this one. This one was finally growing on me, and healing some sore spot in my heart, and in my memories.

 

“Nope, nothing. Suggestions? I’m up for anything.” I smiled, trying to get any contact from Pidge and Hunk in the backseat looking at them through the mirror.

 

“Roller rink!?” Pidge suggested happily, staring up from her DS. Hunk nodded eagerly next to her, rubbing his hands together, tongue stuck out, probably thinking about the amazing nachos and cheese they sold there.

 

Lance was texting on his phone in rapid speed before he said, “Done, and done. Roller rink it is. How’s your skating, Mullet?” He then challenged me, a smirk finding his tan face.

 

I could feel his challenging smirk causing me to go red hot thinking about a contest that was bound to happen between us, “Enough to beat your slow ass.” I shot back at him before I made a Tokyo Drift turn into the school parking lot, taking in the shocked stares of my friends.

 

This is going to be fun a birthday, I thought.  

Chapter Text

The one thing I hated about birthdays was the singing. It never stopped. If their voices didn’t sound like Lance’s, they didn’t need to sing, in my opinion. Why did teachers feel like they did us a favor to remind the whole school that someone had a birthday. Not only that, why did Adam have to go and embarrass the hell out of me thinking it would be a good idea to sing for me through the speaker.

 

Adults. I never want to grow up, not after today, I thought while trying to keep a happy smile on my face listening in on the rest of my class sing along with Adam. Some of my classmates were singing genuinely, clapping along to Adam’s tone deaf voice. Others were wearing expressions of boredom, and looks that said why the hell does this guy get special treatment just because he’s the principal’s kid?

 

“Happy birthday, Keith! Have fun today, we love you at home.” I could picture Adam’s smug smile seep through his voice when the speaker finally died with a thudding noise.

 

Before anyone could wish me a happy birthday personally, I was saved by the bell, literally. Lance got up first to be my security guard on the way out of the classroom to make sure no jerks stopped us to comment on my special treatment. Like come on, he’s my dad, let a father be able to spoil his kid a bit, but like not in front of the whole school though.

 

The rest of GP’s finest were roaming the corridors, giving me knowing looks. Some of the students stopped by my locker to wish me a happy birthday, and others, like Jimmy Connolly felt the need to say some pretty rotten stuff to my face. I was good at ignoring those types of comments since I was used to them the last three years going here. But one thing had changed, it was the looks the other students in the halls were giving Jimmy after his snide comment.

 

They were backing me up, growing closer and closer to Jimmy until he took the hint and stormed off in a raging fit. This would have never happened a year ago. I would have taken the snide comment and turn it into tears in the music room, but this, this was the result of opening my mouth and telling it like it was for me. How I wanted to be a somebody, be seen, and now I was noticed. It felt...nice.

 

I smiled in the direction of my fellow students who helped backed me up. Nodding in their direction not having enough time to open my mouth and properly thank them for their help when the next bell rang. Lance grabbed at my sleeve, holding his gym bag for P.E. to drag us to the gym.

 

“Looks like your speech reached the students, Keith. Nice….erhm, not that I ever doubted you.” Lance said in the locker room while we changed to our P.E. uniforms of shorts and t-shirts in the colors of red and white.

 

I stated earlier that we didn’t need to wear uniforms at Garrison Prep even if it is a private school, but for P.E. we all needed to wear the required uniform, but it was no big deal for the students, the colors suited the most of them, and they were a soft fit of cotton and stretchy polyester.

 

For the first time since we started hanging out, I couldn’t stop looking at Lance change into his gym uniform and it bugged me enough to pack up and burn in the sun. His chest and stomach were presented to me in the fluorescent light, causing my cheeks to become a canvas for red paint to be splattered on.

 

I turned around towards my locker to change hiding from my friends nakedness as much as possible. I made a sudden extra birthday candle wish that Lance hadn’t caught onto my gawking at his  bronze, perfectly toned body. I swallowed at the image in my head before I heard Lance behind me chuckling ludly, but at what or who I wasn’t sure. Being half-naked next to Lance found my thoughts instead. It was enough to have him almost naked next to me, but now it was my turn to get dressed and all I could think about was my own body, and how self-conscious I was of it, especially compared to Lance’s.  

 

A quiet groan of irritation breathed out of  my mouth at the thought of my overthinking again. It was my birthday, I didn’t want to think about stupid things like my thin body, compared to the other students in my class like Ryan’s strong athletic build, or James’ perfectly toned, muscular arms. It wasn’t fair. No matter how much I worked out or ran, my muscles would always stay lean, my stomach flat but with hardly any muscle. Had Lance ever looked at me like I look at him, he would find me disgusting.

 

I slam my locker door in irritation of my self confidence. Why couldn’t I just love my body, I was the only person who would ever care anyways. No way would Lance ever want to look at me like I look at him. He was too focused on breasts and big asses, I think. Man, these thoughts, I hate them, I should just come clean one day and ask him straight up, does he go both ways, or is it all female as his preference. But, there wasn’t time before he stood right next to me.  

 

“Come on, I heard a rumor we were gonna play dodgeball. I’m insanely good at dodgeball, pray to the gods that we land on the same team, or you’ll be digging your own grave, Kogane.” Lance patted my now clothed back, said hand tugging at some t-shirt dragging me along to follow him out to the gym hall.

 

Coach Iverson, our P.E. teacher, who always looks like those military sergeants in movies; tall, buff and intimidating, was waiting for us to line up in front of him so that he could give his usual speeches of encouragement. I would rather call them forced words of death to us all during P.E. because dude knew how to work a sweat on you, but I would never talk back at him. He was scary enough to look at, almost like a villain from a Die Hard movie.

 

“Man, he never shuts up..does he?” Lance grumbled when he leaned into me as we stood in a perfect line-up next to each other trying to pay attention to Coach Iverson’s speech for today’s P.E. class. He didn’t even recognize my birthday, ignoring it all in one.

 

Coach held a dodgeball out in front of the line. A scary face finding his features, knowing well he’d have to pick team captains. Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me, I prayed, but he pointed a thick index finger at me, definitely remembering it was my birthday now when he said, “Since it’s Kogane’s special day, we’ll give him one of the captain’s spots.”

 

His outstretched finger wiggled in and out for me to find a spot to stand next to him. I raised my brows in a desperate attempt at help when I looked at Lance, but he slapped my back instead, pushing me forward to Coach. Thanks a lot, dingus, I thought making my way to stand next to who I would have thought was Dwayne Johnson.

 

“Good. Now for our next captain.” Coach took his finger and didn’t move it far when it landed on Lance, “McCalain! I see you hanging with Kogane, time to show who’s the best of the best. You up for the challenge?” He asked with pride, now crossing his beefy arms.

 

“Hell yeah, coach. Time to meet your demise, Kogane.” Lance planted his long legs on Coach’s other side, leaning forward to intimidate me, his brows waggling up and down, a challenging smirk curling on his face.

 

What got me worked up was how saturated his blue-green eyes became as soon as this turned into a battle between delinquent and tutor. This was not going to end well, unless I was able to pick a good team. Which would all be decided if I was given first pick. Coach had to be generous enough to give me that since it was my birthday, I thought.

 

I was wrong, he held a coin and a toss was made. Luckily for me though, I shouted heads and it landed on heads. My first pick went immediately to Ryan Kinkade, our star athlete at school, and Mr. Popular.

 

“Alright, we got this.” Ryan crooned at me, his smile blinding me in the already brightly lit room. My cheeks started to heat at him, the memory of my first crush slowly coming back to me.

 

“Griffin, get your ass over here.” Lance waved the brown haired boy over to him, he towered a couple inches above Lance, his lanky, but muscled build intimidating me all a new.

 

Once the teams were picked, and we felt we had a strong team, Lance and I found our spots on each our side of the court, ready to jump in when there was only player left or no players left, having to go against each other at the end to decide who wins.

 

Coach threw the red dodgeball in the air yelling “fight!”, Ryan jumped up high to catch the ball already hitting a player out. I knew I picked well, giving Lance a childish out-sticking tongue at him. He mirrored my look, then pretended to scratch his nose but with his middle finger, giving me the bird indirectly. I couldn’t help but laugh at him, smiling. He smiled back at me, then bend his knees ready to catch the ball on his side to strike out players on my team.

 

Damn, he was good at everything if he was dedicated enough. And dodgeball was no exception. He had struck out four of my teammates, resulting it with me having to run to the other side to back up the rest of my team. Meaning it was only me and one other player; Ryan.

 

On the other side, we found the rest of my team yelling for me to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge again. Which was exactly what I was doing, and man was I doing well, too. Having Lance as my rival, I felt the motivation to win against the dweeb. Ryan and I acted like we had been cop partners for years, yelling at each other what to do to either grab the ball or duck when it was making its way towards one of us.

 

The ball landed in Lance’s court, his hand gripping the ball tightly, his gaze steadfast on mine, “It’s time to die, Kogane.” Lance held the ball up high behind his face before it was released with so much force I was scared he was actually planning on killing me with the blow, but Ryan shouted “duuuuck” and made his way behind me to grab the ball, his tongue stuck out at the delinquent.

 

“Suck on that McClain.” Ryan suddenly said being affected by the game. He could be a sore loser, and always turned into a prick in P.E.

 

It was fun to catch Lance’s surprised look at Ryan’s taunt, but I was going to be the main attraction of this court. If there was one thing I knew about my body, it was how fast I was. When the ball fell into Lacey’s hands, she threw it to James so that he could try to pummel it at me, but too late, I was jumping away then rolling to catch the ball before it landed back on his shoulder, hitting him out of the game. Ryan pumped a fist, his white smile finding mine.

 

With Lacey being left on the court, that only meant Lance had to save the team with her. He strutted over to the other side of the court never losing focus on my gaze. There was a red hot zap of friction between our stares while he made his way over to Lacey.

 

“Feeling the pressure, Lancey-Lance?” I taunted, Ryan’s taunting rubbing off on me now.

 

“Just getting started, Kitten.” Lance shot back, stretching out his arms and legs before I ran towards the line to jump-throw the ball at him.

 

In a swift motion, Lance rolled away like this was an action movie. He caught the ball on the floor, and threw it back as fast as lightning hitting Ryan’s back. He couldn’t have seen it coming. With Ryan out of the game, it was only me left and with two more lives before game over. I grabbed at the ball and tried to strategize a way to get Lacey out first.

 

Lacey was looking at Lance for guidance, but he merely directed her to focus on me and the dodge ball in my hands. My plan was to feint a throw at Lance then pummel it on to Lacey when she wasn’t looking. It succeeded, the ball hitting her stomach. She stomped a foot on the floor before making her way to the rest of the beat team.

 

It all came down to the battle between delinquent and tutor. Everyone was yelling, or whooping for either of us to win. We hadn’t had this much fun in P.E for a while. Even Coach was into the game, screaming tactics to both of us. Their screams and shouts had turned into white noise, when all I wanted to focus on was the golden boy smirking in front of me.

 

With the ball in my hand, and a wide open court, it was hard to pinpoint a spot that could hit the bronze delinquent. Taunting would have to do the trick, “Hey Lance, Ezor told me she was thinking about you the other day.” I lied, but his face perked up at the mention of the rainbow-haired girl he was currently obsessed with. Not that I cared.

 

“She wanted me to tell you something, but…” I started, holding the ball firmly in my grip.

 

Lance was all ears now, his focus on the ball completely gone. “But!?” He shouted back, desperate to know what Ezor told me.

 

Man, this guy, all it is with him is babes. He needed to set his priorities straight. Within the second he asked, I threw the ball as hard as possible, hitting his leg. One down, one more point to go. Lance didn’t care about the ball hitting out one of the two lives he had left. He was still focused on the thing with Ezor.

 

“What did she tell you, Keith!?” He shouted back, ignoring the snickering from the other students.

 

I made an exasperated loud growl at him, not of pure jealousy, but a little bit jealousy and dodged the ball making its way back to me. I should have never mentioned Ezor, his focus on the game was a lost cause now. “She told me you weren’t her type.” I said in an angered state, lying my ass off, but I didn’t want him to think about Ezor at the moment.

 

His face went from furrowed brows to understanding. Finally, he caught on to my taunting. “That’s low, Kitten. Even for you. We all know that I’m everyone’s type.” He winked a blue-green eye at me. It wasn’t hard to catch in the distance because of how saturated his eyes glowed in the light.

 

“Yeah well….at least we know you suck at dodgeball.” I stated, hitting him on his moneymaker, his crotch. He went down on his knees in defeat.

 

“Game!” Coach Iverson yelled, grabbing my arm to lift it up in victory, “Team Kogane is the winner! Good game, lads and girls, now hit the showers.” He blew on his whistle, because gym teachers loved to do that.

 

If this game didn’t earn me that well rewarded A, then I don’t know what would, I thought when I stretched a hand out to Lance who was still knees on the floor, his fist pounding it. He was worse than Ryan, seriously, you should see him when I kick his ass in Mario Kart. I chuckled as I stood next to him, pulling him up.

 

“Great game, Lance. Sorry, I used Ezor against you. I knew it would work though.” I lightly punched his shoulder.

 

“No biggie, I knew you were lying the moment I caught your look.” He smiled, making his way to the locker room.

 

“What look?” I asked, walking in step with him, curiosity boiling inside of me.

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know? A magician never reveals his secrets.” Lance slinged an arm around me, pulling me into the locker room.

 

Back in the locker room, I tried to not let me being naked in front of Lance get to me. He had shed his gym uniform only wearing a towel around his waist, hiding his...bits. I swallowed at the thought, trying hard not to let my attractiveness to the dimwitted boy take control of my body.

 

As I was about to take off my gym uniform, I caught an ocean pulling me in with green specks fluttering all over the place, “What is is?” I asked, when Lance was staring at me, his mouth ajar, some spittle trickling down the side of him mouth, “Lance, you’re drooling...what the fuck.” I laughed at the sight of the bronze boy.

 

“You’re sweaty…” He swallowed, balling his hand into an open fist, finding the drool to wipe it away.

 

“Uh, yeah...we both are. We just had an intense game of dodgeball, and if you didn’t break a sweat from my fantastic playing skills then I don’t know what will break ya.” I winked, feeling a waft of courage finding me.

 

“I can think of something else to help us break a sweat.” Lance shot back, a rush of blood finding my cheeks in light speed. He did not just say that, I thought, then opened the locker door to find my things, ignoring Lance’s sudden use of innuendo.

 

He was laughing at something Ryan was talking about, shoring an ocean towards my direction again, his perfect brow arched at me like he was up to something, “What is it, Lance? I know you’re plotting something. Just spit it out already.” I bossed at him, slamming my locker door in his face, wrapping a towel around my own waist, forgetting that I was completely naked in front of him.

 

It was school, and P.E., we had been naked in front of each other many, many times. The problem with today of all days was that I was aware of how much Lance was starting to mean to me, and that included my racing heart every time I caught his attractive, golden face.

 

“Naww, It’s like we’re an old married couple, you knowing I’m hiding something.” He closed in on me, his smile causing my insides to do cartwheels, “Nah, we weren’t plotting anything, Mullet. I was asking Ryan to join us at the rink after school. It’s your birthday, dude, we need more people to celebrate with us.” His arm had found my shoulder, throwing a thumbs up at the dark chocolate skinned boy.

 

“Yeah, man. I’m kinda hurt, thought we were friends. James’ is tagging along, too. Now he’s the one who needs more friends.” Ryan cooed, winking a dark brown eye at the pale, spiky haired boy, who flipped us all the bird on his way to the showers.

 

“He means it with love.” Ryan said, following James to the showers.

 

Lance didn’t follow after them, waiting for me to join him. His hand had found the locker next to my face, head dipped low, staring at something on the floor, or so I thought. I took the opportunity to flick his nose, “Sup, man?” I asked, smiling broadly at him, despite us both being naked, except for our towels, next to each other and it was causing my whole body to convulse.

 

“I was just wondering if you were having a good birthday so far? Anything I can do to make it better? It’s your day after all, you deserve the best of the best today.” His peachy lips curled in delight, his face finally tipping up to catch my look of lusting for him. Damn these hormones, why did he have to have that face?  

 

We were all alone in the locker room, the rest of the boys in our class in the showers shouting to each other, the noise of running water echoing the whole locker room. Lance had come closer to my face, like he did it on instinct, reading my lusting look. Maybe the look he was talking about earlier? I couldn’t control my eyes, the way they were taking in his ocean, the way they magnetized me, drawing me closer to him, creating a desperate wanting for his lips to fall on top of mine.

 

He had leaned an arm on my locker, trapping me beneath his hold. But, I didn’t feel trapped, I felt like I belonged. Right here, with Lance’s strong arm resting on the locker above my head, like we were in a shoujo manga. His face was leaned in close to mine, his peachy lips glistening from his smacking them in front of me. If I hadn’t lusted for him enough earlier...

 

It was just like the first time he was at my place, when I didn’t want him to leave, standing by the front door. An exact repeat of that staring contest, except this time, I knew why we were staring at each other like this. My lips were feeling extremely dry, heart beating like crazy, my brain turning into mush when I noticed Lance leaning even closer to my face, the tip of his nose grazing the tip of my nose, finding its rightful place next to mine as he came even closer, the feel of his soft lips almost gently grazing mine. So close, please, just a bit further.

 

“I…” Lance swallowed, looking down, not sure what to say, his laugh sounding bubbly when he took in how close our faces were. We had never been this close before, and the heat our bodies were producing along with the hot water from the showers wasn’t making things any easier. If only we both had the guts, but it was obvious that we were both cowards.

 

Lance continued to say something, licking his lips in the process, “I…wow...Mullet, I really....” He swallowed again, “want...” It was hard for him to form words for some reason. But, I could understand why, this was making me hazy, too.  

 

“Lance…” I whispered, my own voice sounding bubbly, the noise in the background turning into a distant white noise. Lance’s lips retreated at the sound of my voice. Damn, no, I knew it was too good to be true. I continued with what I wanted to tell him now that we were still alone, “I’m having a great day so far..” I inched forward, our noses touching again, my breath going heavy, “but it could be better…” I tried to hint at him to close the fucking gap already, but it was no use because, right then, we both heard the boys coming back into the locker room, startling us from our willing closeness.

 

“Guys! What’s the hold up, get showering! Roller rink after! I’m gonna skate like crazy!” Ryan shouted all happily, “Oh, and we’re inviting Lacey and Carol to join, too. That alright?” He asked me and Lance.

 

Lance had made his way towards the showers ignoring Ryan’s question. I tapped our star athlete on the shoulder, “Sounds great, man. You’re driving right? I can’t fit more than four people in my ride, Hunk spaces for two people. We’ll meet at the rink.” I said, his bright smile enough to let me know it was more than alright.

 

In the showers, steam had fogged up the whole room. A shower head was running like crazy, the water splattering hard on Lance’s bronze, naked body. He was quiet. Unusually quiet for him, in my opinion. I had found a shower two heads down, trying hard not to bring back the moment we had earlier. His sudden quietness could be a result of what had almost happened between us. I thought giving each other space would be the best option. It was more than obvious that he lusted for Ezor, so me trying to reel him close to me would be a bad, bad idea. Especially since we were friends, too. I didn’t want to take that chance and ruin what good we had going now that we had become friends, and abolished all of the rules.  

 

My eyes couldn’t stop themselves, though. They took in the naked boy down two shower heads, his back to me. As I stated, we had seen each other naked plenty of times before, but again, never in a manner where I wanted to study every inch of him. His back was wide open, and for the first time ever, I noticed a large scar between his shoulder blades.

 

The scar looked like a small firework had bloomed from the middle of his shoulder blades, and rooting out towards the muscles of his shoulders blades, then trailed down the slope of his spine. It was a hauntingly beautiful sight, with its white contrast against his golden, tan skin, and I wanted to know how he got it; if it hurt him; to ask If I could touch it; pretend my touch could heal him. But, I knew it would be no use. If I asked him those questions, then I knew I would have to tell him the story of my scar, and that would be the death of me.

 

“Hey…” Lance caught my attention, pulling my gray gaze from his beautiful scar to his beautiful eyes.  

 

“Hey..” I answered through running water hitting my face, not letting my being naked in front of him embarrass me.  

 

“Ehrm...What almost happened back there….by the locker...I’m..” Lance began, but was interrupted by my shaking my head.

 

“Don’t think about it, it was nothing….” I went quiet for a second before I said, “right?” I cocked a brow at him while shampooing the long strands of my mullet, “We were caught up in the moment, is all…things like that...they happen.” I tried to get it through to him that it meant nothing. Except if he did end up kissing me, it would have meant everything in the world to me.

 

He was quiet again, the steam from the extremely warm water hiding his naked body from me, his head nodding frantically at my explanation of what had almost happened, “Let’s finish up, we’re going overtime here. Pidge and Hunk are probably waiting by the car. I’ll race ya.” His smile was back. He was back to being his old self, the boy who was seducing me in the locker room mere minutes ago was all gone, erased from this planet. It was an odd transition, but we had to hurry so there was no time to think about other things. Like a dimwitted, extremely hot delinquent.