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Growing Love

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Lance swallows, doing everything within his meager power to keep from throwing up.

It’s a feat that mostly involves breathing through his nose, mouth clamped so tight that his jaw is beginning to ache with the strain of it. Keeping his mind off the rising feeling in his stomach and chest with counting various items around the room, fiddling with his sniper rifle, and a lot of hope and praying to the god of skinny punks. It’s making him distracted enough it’s noticeable- if Hunk’s worried glances are anything to go off of- but not so much that Shiro has felt the need to call him out or that he’s doing worse than normal. Which could be a testament to his improvement and focus, or just that he’s so accustomed to the experience that it’s easier to ignore. Personally, Lance is thinking that it’s probably a bit of both, though maybe more of the latter.

They were nearly hitting the three-hour mark for training and he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to hold out much longer. Shiro had said this was the last training exercise, but he had done that before and then training had lasted longer by almost two hours. God, he hoped that wasn’t the case. If it was, then he was going to need to plead a bathroom break or something. He already was suffering the consequences- breathing heavy and labored, more than it should be for training that was standard for them.
Feeling the pain of stitches in his side and pangs in his chest as Lance fought for air even as he concentrated through the hurt, taking down or incapacitating gladiators from his position further back. It was one of the simpler ones- a last man standing sort of battle where the goal was to last as long as they could as the terrain and opponents got increasingly more difficult. Shiro liked it because it promoted communication and good teamwork. They were doing a little worse for wear, as Lance didn’t say as much as he normally would. It wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, so his teammates were taking it in stride. He was grateful for it now, though he was sure Shiro would try to talk to him later.

And he would dodge the attempt with a joke, easily deflecting the conversation onto other things. Shiro would roll his eyes, figure he was fine, strangeness would be dropped.

It ended when all five of them had “fallen” in the mock battle. It took the better part of thirty minutes. Shiro, used to fighting more than one opponent at once and more experienced than them, was the last to fall. He had been training with one of the altean swords instead of just using hand to hand, and it was always entertaining to watch him hold his own for the last few minutes. Once it was over, the training ground returning to its normal state, Shiro quickly went over the areas that they had improved on, praising them each in turn, before giving pointing out where they had struggled as a team. Standard affair, but Lance still finds himself more anxious than usual, trying to think of a way out of the situation now.

Fortunately, Shiro releases them just as Lance is getting to the point where he thinks that if he opens his mouth he would puke. Without looking to see if anyone is concerned, he bolts out of the room and down the halls. He doesn’t stop when someone (Pidge he thinks) behind him shouts out an exclamation at his escape, hoping it’s chalked up to not wanting a chance to add more training or criticized on his performance. It’s likely that he’ll catch backlash for it later, when Shiro comes to talk to him about his personal failings for the day. But that is definitely a problem for Future lance and not Current Lance, who is struggling to breathe.

He sprints all the way to his room, slamming a fist to engage the lock. Falling to his knees beside the trash can, Lance hunches is should and vomits when his mouth opens. The first rush is easy and there’s a sort of relief that comes from it, pressure lifting from his chest. Heaving again and again, getting in sparse, hacking breaths between each one. His knuckles are turning white from gripping the sides of the metal while his throat burns and he tastes the smallest bit of blood. Coughing, he leans back a bit, wiping his mouth with the back of one hand.

Inside the trash can are red amaryllis and yellow rose petals. There is one full rose, which is flecked with bits of blood. Lance sighs at the sight of it, running clammy hands over his face and through his hair. Feeling unsteady, breath still uneven, slight tremors coursing through his body, he rests against the wall, head gently thudding backward. Eventually, when the exhaustion faded, he would have to find a time to sneak the flower to the incinerator before anyone caught sight of them. In the meantime, Lance tries to think optimistically- he was doing better. Breathing, though ragged, was easier. The sort of sick concern he got when his symptoms got bad or were close to showing was gone, which was always a relief. His secret was safe.

That thought makes him glance uneasily at the trashcan, half full with flower petals. More would grow to take their place, rooted in his love and pride. He coughs once more, a red petal bursts past his lips, fluttering to land in his lap. Examining it with tired resignation. Eventually, he would have to do something about it, despite reservations and the sick sense of anxiety. Whispers in his thoughts of how it has to be soon, how he is going to have to speak up soon, before it gets too out of hand.

Lance tries, desperately, not to think about the Hanahaki already has.