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Hot For Teacher

Chapter Text

 

 

“Axca?”

“No.”

“Julia?”

“No.”

“Ezor?”

“God, no,” Keith answered, trying to remain calm in the face of his friend’s torment.

Hunk sighed. “Romelle, you might just want to give up.”

Keith had been friends with Hunk since he got placed with his current family two years ago. As much as Keith resisted at first, Hunk was just fundamentally nice. Too nice to leave Keith to his own devices when Hunk recognized he was lonely. Romelle fell into their little group around the same time he moved to town. Her dramatic weirdness made it hard to fit in with other people, but Keith and Hunk didn’t mind it. They’d formed their own little family of misfits and it suited them just fine.

The last few month things had shifted in their little group as Hunk and Romelle had started dating. Each other. It had been a tough transition for Keith, since he sometimes felt like a third wheel. His friends tried to make sure he felt included, but the longer their relationship went on, and the closer the two of them got, the more Keith felt like he didn’t belong anymore.

Hunk, ever perceptive to Keith’s feelings, was desperate to solve the problem. Romelle, being his girlfriend, thought she had the perfect solution: finding a fourth addition for their group that could become Keith’s other half.

Making her game plan difficult was the fact that not only was Keith antisocial by nature, he’d also never had any interest in anyone. Ever. His lack of libido was quickly becoming a hot topic every time he saw his friends.

And he was really over it.

“Really?” Romelle said as they sat around in Hunk’s basement playing video games. “There’s no one at all in the entire school you find attractive?”

“No, Romelle,” Keith said, giving her an exasperated stare. “I swear. It’s all uggos as far as the eye can see.”

That wasn’t technically true, but honest enough. There were girls that he could objectively say were pretty. In the same way a flower was pretty.

Neither held any interest for him.

“I’m offended, Keith,” Romelle said with a mock air of offense. “Hunk, you think I’m attractive, right?”

Hunk glanced over at her quickly, trying to keep up with Keith in the racing game without getting distracted and crashing the car. “Of course!”

“Ok, I’m beginning to think maybe I’ve been attacking this from the wrong angle,” said Romelle. She started tapping her index finger against her lips. From experience Keith knew that Romelle thinking too hard never led anywhere good. She paused, considering her next words. “What about… guys? Are any of them cute?”

“What?!” Keith fumbled his controller, watching his car on the screen veer off and burst into flames as it hit a barrier. “Are you joking?”

“Keith,” Romelle said quietly, extremely out of character. “It’s ok if you do.”

“Yeah, Keith,” Hunk chimed in. “We don’t care how you roll, dude.”

Dropping the controller, Keith repositioned his scowl from the screen to his friends. “I don’t roll at all. Seriously. I just don’t notice people like that. Maybe I’m just broken or something.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Romelle reassured him. “What about James? He’s classically handsome. Not even a twinge?”

Keith had no idea what this “twinge” was she was talking about. “When I look at James, all I see is an asshole.”

“That’s fair,” nodded Hunk, his face set in a serious expression.

“It’s Christmas break,” Keith sighed, running a hand through his shaggy hair. “Can’t we let up on my non-existent hormones for a few more days?”

“Maybe you’re part alien or something,” Romelle sighed, obviously unwilling to let Keith off the hook. “That’s why you have no sex drive.”

For whatever reason, Romelle seemed to find it fascinating and mysterious that Keith had never met his mother. She was always looking for a way to put a positive spin on his unknown heritage, as if Keith was Harry Potter – and one day he’d find out he was really a wizard.

“Yeah, Romelle, that must be it. You got me – my mother was a purple alien from outer space. She comes from a very sexually repressed species. Doesn’t really explain how I got here though, does it? Unless the aliens have some other way of getting pregnant with human children --,” Keith scoffed in aggravation, “sex was probably involved. More likely, I’m just a weirdo that shouldn’t reproduce.”

And Keith had absolutely no problem with that.

Over the last ten years, he’d spent a lot of time in a lot of different foster homes. So he had also dealt with enough younger kids to last a lifetime.

He didn’t like anyone. He’d never liked anyone. Or people in general, except Hunk and Romelle who had worn him down and adopted him like a stray cat. If not for them keeping him on track through high school the last few years, Keith probably wouldn’t be graduating in a few months. Hell, he probably would have dropped out by now.

He owed them a lot more than they would ever know.

“We’re all weirdos, dude,” Hunk said. “Some people are just better at hiding it to fit in.”

“And some of us choose to embrace it,” Romelle said with a smile, wrapping her arms around Keith’s neck in a hug. Keith was never sure if she was trying to hug him or strangle him. It could be a little of both.

“Ok, whatever,” Keith said. “Can we finish this game now? I won’t have time to kick your ass at video games once we go back to school.”

“There’s always time for video games!” Hunk exclaimed as he picked up his controller to start up the race again.

Relief flooded through Keith as he refocused on their game. He loved his friends, but they could be a little too nosy and in his business sometimes. He hoped that, at some point, Romelle would give up on trying to construct a love life for him.

Keith really just wasn’t interested.

 

*****

A week later, Keith was back at school after the holidays,trying to find the motivation to make it through the remaining few months of his senior year. He’d finished up his college applications over the winter break, and now he just had to hang on and pray he would get in somewhere. Thanks to Hunk and Romelle, his grades over the last few years had improved to a decent level. He just hoped the colleges would overlook the dumpster fire at the far end of his transcript.

His last foster home had been a nightmare, and his grades reflected it. He’d almost given up on school - and himself - by the time his social worker moved him to his current family. She’d been very clear this was probably the last shot he was going to get. Very few people were willing to put up with a teenage boy with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mexico.

His current foster home had been good, though. Patty and Sam were nice and had a lot of patience with him. They had expectations of him, but they didn’t push, and Keith appreciated that. They were typical church-loving Texans. Good people. Even though Keith had turned eighteen in October and was theoretically an adult according to the state, they had agreed to let him stay through the rest of the school year and even the summer, provided he was starting college in the fall.

They also seemed to realize that his friends were the key to keeping him out of trouble and encouraged him to spend time with Hunk and Romelle whenever possible. Having had an extremely rough time through most of his foster care experience, Keith was eternally grateful he’d caught a break at the end of it.

As he walked through the halls to class after lunch, there seemed to be a little more excitement in the air than normal. Keith figured that it was just being back at school after the break that had everyone trying to catch up on the latest social drama. Keith couldn’t care less, but other people definitely had a lot of interest in what happened to the people around them .

He didn’t understand it. Why did people care so much about other people’s business?

Just ahead of him, some girls from his English class twittered with the latest gossip as they walked three wide in the hallway, blocking any chance Keith had of getting around him.

“Have you seen him?” one of the girls asked the others in a breathy voice.

“OMG yes! I don’t know how I’m going to make it the rest of the year without throwing myself at him!” the dark-haired one responded.

“He’s the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever seen ,” the blond one said.

Must be a new student, Keith thought, trying not to gag out loud at their ridiculousness. He would never understand how girls could get so worked up over the existence of another person.

As he approached Mr. Garber’s room for his math class, the girls seemed to slow down and hover outside the door, peering in and giggling.

Annoyed they were further blocking his path, Keith said rudely, “Do you mind? Some of us have to actually get into this room.”

Shuffling past them and trying to make as little physical contact as possible considering the space, Keith heard them huff and mutter at him and then move along to wherever they were going.

He dropped into his seat at the back of the room, giving a nod in greeting to Hunk in the chair next to him, and opened his Calculus book to check on what topic they were going to be starting. Math was a necessary evil in Keith’s mind – he wasn’t bad at it, but he didn’t particularly like it. It was just there, part of his daily schedule. Like the sun.

Finally looking up when the ringing bell startled him, Keith noticed there was a new person at the front of the room with the teacher. Curiosity got the better of him as he examined the tall, dark-haired man. He looked a little older than a high school student and was wearing khakis and a blue dress shirt. So probably not a new student then.

All of a sudden, a fluttery, swooping feeling in his stomach hit him out of nowhere. Had he eaten something bad for lunch? It wouldn’t be the first time the cafeteria food had almost poisoned him.

“Class, before we get started today, I’d like to introduce someone,” his teacher said, standing in front of the whiteboard. “This is Mr. Takashi Shirogane. He is a student teacher that will be joining us for the remainder of the year.”

A wave of murmuring went through the room as the man smiled and gave a nervous little wave to the class. “Hello,” he said in a deep, velvet voice. “You can call me Mr. Shiro.”

A flush ran through Keith - within seconds he was overly warm, like he’s been sitting on top of a radiator.

He had definitely gotten food poisoning at lunch. Damn those burritos. He knew better than to trust them.

“I expect you to treat Mr. Shiro no differently from any other teacher. He will be observing in class for a few weeks before taking over the lessons. And you should all keep in mind that he will be the one responsible for assigning your final grade this semester,” Mr. Garber said. Keith, who was only half listening, focused instead on the way his body seemed to have a mind of its own.

Between the upset stomach and the fever, he wasn’t sure he was going to make it through class.

Everything came to a head in one terrible moment – Mr. Shiro caught Keith’s eye, staring directly at him. And smiled.

Pain seared into Keith’s chest like a star was being formed inside of him.

Shit. He was definitely dying. Chest pains couldn’t be normal for his age. Was it even possible for a teenager to have a heart attack?

In an instant, Keith felt all the blood drain out of his face as his stomach dropped to his feet. He tore his eyes away from the student teacher and gave Mr. Garber a desperate look. He needed to get out of the classroom.

Now.

Thankfully, the man had been teaching long enough he’d developed the telepathic ability to recognize illness when he saw it and nodded to Keith, who quickly got up, fleeing the classroom like he was on fire and escaping to the nearest restroom.

Fearing he would soon find himself stuck over the toilet bowl vomiting his guts out, Keith took a deep breath once he made it inside a stall – and suddenly, he felt better.

A lot better. It was a miracle.

The urge to vomit was gone, his stomach calm and his pulse returning to normal. Once sure he wasn’t going to see his lunch for a second time today, Keith abandoned the stall and made his way to the sink to throw some cool water on his face.

Looking himself over in the mirror, his cheeks were slightly pink but the madness in his chest and stomach seemed to have stopped. Like a light switch had been flipped, one second he was desperately sick, the next moment he felt fine.

What was going on?

Keith stalled going back to class until he was sure he was not actually going have a delayed reaction and throw up. As a rule, he tried to fly under the radar of his school peers. The last thing he wanted was to get sick in class and become the butt of jokes for weeks. Not to mention, the great impression that would make with the new teacher.

When he got back to class, Mr. Shiro gave him a curious look – and suddenly the flushed-fever feeling returned to Keith’s skin. Maybe there was something in the air of the classroom making him sick? Could food poisoning be induced by looking at someone? Nothing about this whole experience made any sense to him.

Hunk reached over to tap him on the shoulder. “You okay?” he whispered, giving Keith a concerned look.

Keith nodded, shaking him off so Hunk wouldn’t worry about him. He breathed deeply to keep the stomach flutters under control while focusing all of his attention on Mr. Garber, who was explaining something at the board.

It seemed to help, so Keith kept his single-minded focus on the instruction and resisted the strange urge to turn his eyes toward Mr. Shiro like he was steel drawn by a magnet.

 

*****

The strange illness continued into the next week, confusing Keith in a way that was beginning to become concerning. What he couldn’t figure out was why it only seemed to happen in his math class. The rest of the day, for all of his classes, Keith was fine. But the minute he walked into Calculus, his body went off the rails.

The fever, chest pains and stomach issues were making it difficult for him to focus, and Keith wasn’t sure how to make it stop. At times he even had trouble breathing. In desperation, Keith had searched his symptoms online in the library only to find the most logical diagnosis to be an allergic reaction. He’d never had one of those in his life that he knew of, so it seemed odd he would develop an allergy at this point. Not to mention, he’d not had any issues in the exact same classroom before Christmas break.

After a few more days of suffering, Keith finally confided in Hunk and Romelle, hoping his friends could help him figure out what was going on. Hunk was definitely smarter than he was, and if anyone could help solve a problem, it was Hunk.

“I think I’m allergic to Calculus,” Keith blurted in a loud voice as they sat around in Hunk’s basement after school.

“I’m sorry, what?” Hunk asked, eyes wide and a wry half-smile pulling his mouth up at the corner.

“I keep feeling sick in Calc ,” Keith explained. “I don’t know what’s going on. It only happens in Garber’s classroom. I’m fine the rest of the day!”

Hunk and Romelle exchange a look, the type of silent communication that only couples seem to be capable of. Alarm bells ring in Keith’s head like a warning.

“What are your symptoms?” Hunk asked, giving Keith a placating smile.

“I get warm, like a fever… My stomach gets nervous, and I feel sick. Sometimes my chest hurts and I can barely breathe…”

Another silent look passed between his two friends. This telepathy thing they had going on was starting to freak him out.

“Oh, dude,” Hunk sighed, patting Keith on the leg sympathetically.

“Does it feel like there’s a Disney princess trying to claw out of your chest so she can burst into song?” Romelle asked, her concerned expression marred by a tiny smile escaping at the corner of her mouth.

Oh my God, yes. Yes. Exactly that , Keith thought as his eyes widened in shock. It hadn’t occurred to him, but when put in that context, it was an incredibly accurate comparison. However, he refused to give Romelle such easy ammunition. He responded aloud, trying to sound as indifferent as possible, “Um… maybe?”

“OH MY GOD!!” Romelle squealed. If her voice had gone any higher, Keith was sure only dogs would have been able to hear her. Hunk covered his ears in pain while Keith scowled at her. “Oh my God! You have a crush!”

“No… What? No,” Keith said, looking at her as if she’d grown a second head. “That’s not… No.”

“Who’s in your Calc class? Is there a new student? I haven’t heard about anyone…” Romelle prodded.

Hunk laughed and looked at Keith with a huge grin. “I caught him smiling in class today with a dreamy look on his face. Keith - smiling!”

Keith gave him a stare full of disappointment over his treachery. When had he been smiling in class? “I was not. I’d remember that.”

“You were! Like this,” Hunk said. He dropped his elbow on the table and then propped his chin up with his hand. Then he stared at Romelle with his mouth open and his eyes gone moony like he was drunk.

“No. No way.” Keith crossed his arms in defiance. He would definitely remember acting like that .

“Oh my God!” Romelle’s screeching had toned down by a few decibels, but only barely. “Who was he looking at, Hunk?”

Hunk grinned at Keith and shook his head. “I can’t bust my boy like that.”

“Hunk! That’s not fair! We’re all friends,” Romelle pouted. “C’mon, who’s his crush? I’ve got to know!”

Keith could see Hunk’s determination was starting to crack under the blond’s assault. As she cuddled up to Hunk and kissed his cheek, Keith could see the approaching bus he was about to be thrown under.

“I’m telling you, there’s nobody,” Keith denied. “I totally didn’t do that. There’s something in that classroom… I’m allergic --”

“There’s someone new in the math room,” Hunk said, giving his girlfriend clues as if her guessing would clear him of complete and utter betrayal. “Tall. I’ve heard some people use the term ‘hot’.”

A puzzled frown pulled at her face for a moment, before Romelle lit up like a Christmas tree. She jumped off Hunk’s lap and spun to stare at Keith with wide eyes.

“Holy quiznak! The new teacher?!”

“The what?” Keith denied. “No… no. I do not have… No.”

He didn’t. He couldn’t.

Right?

“I’ve heard about him! Half the school is in love with him already,” Romelle said excitedly. “I’m SO disappointed he’s with Mr. Garber, and I’ve got Mrs. Pinkerton for math! I haven’t even seen him yet. So, he’s hot?”

“He’s… a lot,” Keith offered with a shrug.

Romelle would not be deterred. “What does he look like?”

Keith looked at Hunk to answer her, but he looked smugly back with his mouth pressed closed. Keith let out a long-suffering sigh. “Ugh! He’s really tall, dark hair… I guess he works out.”

He definitely worked out. A lot. Keith had watched him move a huge stack of textbooks like he was barely lifting a finger.

It had been incredibly impressive.

“You’re blushing!” gushed Romelle. Keith placed a hand to his cheek instinctively. What the hell was going on with him? “You do like the student teacher!”

“I don’t think so,” denied Keith. “I would know.”

Hunk and Romelle stared at him with twin looks of righteous pity mixed with amusement, as if he was a kitten trapped inside a box on an Internet video.

“Right?” Keith asked, sounding much less sure than he had felt five minutes ago.

“Oh, honey,” Romelle said, patting him on top of the head. “You sweet, summer child.”

Regardless of their patronizing comments, which would haunt him the rest of the night, Keith was sure they had to be wrong.

He didn’t like Mr. Shiro. Except as a teacher, of course. Keith recognized he was nice and seemed to care about the students. And yes, the guy was handsome in that way movie stars were, with features that all somehow worked together to make something appealing to the human eye. Keith knew enough about art to know that people were attracted to symmetrical faces.

Mr. Shiro was symmetrical. So what? That didn’t mean Keith had a crush on him.

It didn’t mean he was… gay.

Did it?

There was only one way to find out.

Determined to test his theory, Keith approached school the following day as if he was entering into a scientific experiment of his own creation. He paid more attention to the surrounding people, looking at guys and girls to try to gauge his internal reactions.

Nothing.

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

He felt nothing for these people.

There were girls that were pretty. There were a few guys that weren’t horrible to look at. But no one gave him that feeling like he was going to be sick.

Until he got to Calculus.

The minute he walked in and saw their student teacher, smiling and greeting students as they came into the classroom, the swarm of butterflies woke up in his stomach. When grey eyes landed on Keith and a deep voice greeted him with “good afternoon”, the temperature jumped up twenty degrees. He could feel the flush run up his neck, making him stutter when he gave a short “h...hi” in return.

The nail in his coffin, though, came more than halfway through class. Mr. Garber had completed his lesson and gave them some practice problems to work out. Focused intently on finding the derivative of a function, Keith hadn’t noticed the younger teacher wandering around the room. A hand settled on Keith’s shoulder, startling him into looking up at the owner leaning over to look at his work.

Every molecule of air vanished from his lungs as Keith’s eyes traveled up from the warm hand at his shoulder to the face - the extremely close and extremely handsome face - of the student teacher hovering next to him.

“How’s it going?” Mr. Shiro asked, dropping his hand from Keith’s shoulder and examining the lined paper on the desk.

Keith swallowed hard, feeling his face burn. He prayed to all the gods his voice didn’t squeak when he answered roughly, “Fine.”

“Looks good,” the teacher commented with a nod, before moving off to check on the other students.

Keith gasped for air as quietly as he could. His pants were tight in a way he rarely had to deal with. And never had to before while at school.

He could almost feel the Disney princess inside him singing something about “What is this feeling…?” and twirling around in a choreographed dance with the butterflies in his stomach.

Holy shit.

He was totally hot for Mr. Shirogane.

Romelle was going to be so disappointed he was just gay and not part alien.

 

*****

The last few months of school became a waking nightmare after that, as if Mr. Shiro was the catalyst for a self-awakening Keith had never asked for.

Controlling his physical responses during Calculus became downright impossible. When Mr. Shiro took over teaching, Keith was forced to pay more attention to him.

It was the most delicious torture.

Of course, Keith needed to watch his teacher as he wrote problems on the board, giving Keith’s eyes the opportunity to catalog every curve of his bicep, the width of his shoulders, the way his narrow hips created an inverted triangle. His doodles all over his math notebook followed the lines of his thoughts – to the point Hunk asked him why he was constantly drawing pictures of Doritos.

As if a switch had been flipped on in his brain, Keith was finding himself distracted by things he had never considered before.

Like the fascinating curve of Mr. Shiro’s ass.

He saved those doodles for his private sketchbook, hidden in his room at home under his mattress. Keith prayed his foster mom didn’t ever go snooping.

It was bad enough when she'd mentioned how many boxes of kleenex he suddenly seemed to be going through.

He started to live in constant fear Patty and Sam would find out his secret and kick him out. It wasn’t that he was ashamed, per se, but he was well aware of how the world worked. And that Texas was not exactly the most progressive place to live. His foster parents had never said anything negative about people who were different , but he’d certainly lived with others who had.

Keith was just glad his friends supported him.

He only wished Romelle wasn’t enjoying his pain as much as she did.

“James has a nice butt, don’t you think?” she whispered with a smile as they followed behind the person in question through the hallway on the way to English class.

“He doesn’t have a nice anything,” Keith answered quietly. And yet his brain couldn’t help but silently put together similarities between the backside he’d been ogling in math class and the one walking ahead of him.

Goddamnit. James Griffin did have a nice ass.

Keith hated himself for noticing.

A blush must have snuck onto his face and given him away because Romelle took one glance at him and started cackling hysterically.

He really hated his hormones.

A dark-haired student teacher had opened the floodgates, and Keith was overrun with desires and feelings he had no hope of dealing with. The man starred in every dream and fantasy Keith had for the rest of the school year, with James occasionally making a disturbing appearance as well.

As the end of the year approached, Keith was hopeful that after graduation his body would be his own again. Once he wasn’t faced with the perfect example of the male human form on a daily basis, complete with silver eyes and dimples, Keith could move on from his crush and act like a normal person again.

The idea of leaving for college was more and more welcome as the year came to a close. Keith had gotten into a university he’d applied to in Arizona, and after talking it over with Hunk and Romelle, he’d decided to go for it. He would miss his friends, but the idea of getting out of Texas and starting the next chapter of his life with a clean slate was incredibly appealing. He would leave the title “foster kid” behind and not have to hide who he was to the outside world.

For once in his life, Keith’s future was in his own hands. He was eager to take hold of it and see what he was capable of.

Chapter Text

5 YEARS LATER

A blast of hot, dry air hit him in the face as Keith opened the door of his car and eyed his new apartment building. It was a nice-looking place - modern and fairly new, four stories tall with light stone and black accents. Most of the apartments had a balcony with a comfortable outdoor space.

He was already glad Lance had talked him into this.

A sliding door from a balcony on the third floor opened above him, and a tall, lanky figure with brown hair popped out to look down at him.

“You’re here!” Lance shouted down, waving and grinning like a lunatic.

Keith waved back with a smile. “You gonna come help me, or what?”

Lance disappeared from view and Keith opened the trunk to his beat-up Camry, pulling a few bags out to sit on the curb. He opened the white side-door and bent down to reach for a box in the backseat.

A hand smacking his ass - hard - jolted Keith forward. He caught himself on the boxes with a curse and then ducked his head and pulled a box out of the car with him. Keith turned to glare at his friend.

“What the hell? I’ve been here two seconds and you already can’t stay away from my ass!” Keith snarked. “I said I’d come live with you, not fuck you.”

Lance barked out a laugh. “You had it out there like an offering. It’s a nice ass. What’s a guy gonna do?”

Keith gave him a threatening stare. “Remember the rules? Rule number one: You do not touch my ass.”

“You haven’t technically moved in yet,” Lance pointed out, tapping his index finger against his chin thoughtfully. “So rules don’t apply. It’s open season on your ass until you get upstairs.”

“The hell, you horny bastard,” Keith replied with a chuckle. “Grab some of this and show me where we’re going.”

Throwing a bag on top of the box, Keith lifted everything easily and followed Lance into the building. It was clean and quiet - much different from the cheap student housing he’d gotten used to over the last few years. There was no elevator, so hauling his stuff would be a pain, but otherwise Keith didn’t mind taking the stairs. He might be able to avoid spending money on a gym membership if he could work enough cardio into his regular day.

They were quiet as they huffed up the stairs, and Keith followed Lance down the short hallway to a door at the end. Nudging it open with his foot, Lance walked over to the couch in the middle of the room and dropped Keith’s bags on the cushions.

“Where do you want me to put all this?” Keith asked as he looked around the bright, open space.

“Bedroom’s this way,” Lance said. “Follow me!”

The apartment wasn’t huge, but the white walls and high ceilings made it feel much bigger. The living room and kitchen were one open space, with an island and stools acting as a way to divide the spaces. Off the living area was a small hallway with a bathroom in the middle and two bedrooms off to each side. Lance led him into the hallway and off to the right to his new room. It wasn’t anything fancy, but there was enough room for a full size bed and a desk or table he could set up in the corner.

“The bed you ordered came earlier, so I went ahead and got it set up for you,” Lance said as Keith sat the box he was carrying on the floor.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Keith said, hoping his friend could hear the gratefulness in his voice. It would be one less thing to do and allow him some time to settle in and unpack before getting some sleep later.

Lance shrugged. “It wasn’t a problem.”

They headed back down to Keith’s car for another load, keeping their steps quiet to avoid disturbing the neighbors too much. It took a few more trips before Keith’s car was empty and everything he owned deposited in his new room. Lance left him to his own devices and went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for lunch.

Keith had forgotten how easy it was with Lance - sometimes he seemed to be able to read Keith’s mind and know just what he needed, whether it was food, distraction or space.

They had met as freshmen in college, as assigned roommates at Arizona Tech. Although Keith was accustomed to sharing a space with other people in various foster homes growing up, living with Lance had been an adjustment he hadn’t been completely prepared for. They had been polar opposites, clashing from the very start like rain in the sands of a desert.

Where Keith was generally a quiet person but prone to a quick temper, Lance was boisterous with a long fuse that let things simmer under the surface too long. Oil and vinegar, fire and water - they were an unholy pair that kept their Resident Assistant busy for most of their first year trying to keep them from killing each other.

It wasn’t until just after spring break that things finally shifted between them.

Keith had gone through a sexual awakening of sorts when he’d started college. Being a late bloomer suddenly let loose into a pool of other people just as horny as he was, he’d let his libido take him wherever it wanted to go. Unfortunately, he let himself wander a little too widely and earned a reputation for it. One night at an off-campus party, too much alcohol led Keith into a situation with a guy he’d never met that wouldn’t take no for an answer. Telling Keith he knew he was “easy and liked it”, the upperclassman had decided to take whatever he wanted.

Luckily Keith had been just sober enough to fight him off and get the hell out of there.

He would forever be grateful for Lance in that moment, when he’d stumbled back to his dorm room with torn clothes, a bruised cheek and tears pouring down his face.

Instead of pointing out that Keith had done it to himself - had created the nightmare by not being more careful about who he slept around with and being the campus bicycle for the entire gay male population, Lance had simply put him into the shower without a word and afterwards helped him into his lounge pants and shirt. His roommate, who had stormed and wailed daily about how much he hated Keith, had curled up around him in a tiny twin bed and big-spooned him until he could sleep, petting Keith’s hair and shushing him.

From that moment on, Keith’s magnet had flipped, no longer pushing away the opposing charge. He was willing to forgive Lance anything – because deep down he was a good person and had been there when Keith needed him.

And Keith made a habit of grabbing good people and holding on for dear life.

Keith and Lance had ended up as roommates for the rest of their college careers, even moving into an off-campus apartment together for senior year. They had gotten each other through break-ups, exam-induced madness, classes that crushed the life out of them and the general growing pains of becoming adults.

It had been strange over the last year, living alone for the first time in his life. Keith had stayed near the university after graduation and taken a job teaching at a nearby high school.

It hadn’t worked out well - he was too young at 22 to be taken seriously and respected by students who were barely younger than he was, and by Christmas he was already considering other options.

Lance, who had moved back to his hometown of Garrison after graduating, convinced him to look for a new position in the area and come live with him. It was just a few hours away, and although Keith still had a couple of friends in Texas, he knew he would never move back there. Lance’s offer ensured both of them could save money and avoid living by themselves. Lance had grown up in a large family, but had no desire to move back in with them. Having his best friend close by as well as sharing the rent was a no-brainer. So when Keith had been offered a position at the local middle school, he’d jumped at the opportunity.

Lance wandered back into his new room, carrying a sandwich on a plate in one hand and a bag of chips in the other.

“Thanks, man,” Keith said, grabbing the food and sitting cross-legged on the floor.

“Hey, so my uncle just called,” Lance said with a frown. “A salesperson called in, so he needs me to come in and cover some time this afternoon.”

“No problem,” said Keith around a mouthful of food. “I’m just going to hit a store to get a dresser or something and a few more things I need. I don’t need a keeper.”

“Yeah, well, I still feel bad,” Lance said. “You just got here!”

“Dude, it’s fine,” replied Keith with a grin. “We’ve got the foreseeable future to hang out. It’s not a big deal.”

“Ok, well if you need anything, text me,” Lance said, drifting back toward the door. “And also, don’t think I didn’t notice that piece of crap you’re driving. Once you start the new job, I’m dragging you down to the dealership to get you a deal on something that’s actually driveable.”

“My car is fine,” Keith insisted, recognizing he was lying through his teeth. He would need to get a new car soon, and it was damn lucky that Lance was a sales manager at a dealership. “You’re not going to get me in some bright blue monstrosity like you’ve got.”

“My car is awesome and you know it. You’re just jealous I don’t have to put my foot out and use it as a brake like you probably do,” smirked Lance. “Ok, I’m out. See ya.”

With Lance gone, a silence settled over the apartment that made Keith uneasy. He wasn’t comfortable there yet - it was too new and unknown. He took a quick inventory of the furniture and incidentals he needed to grab and decided to head to the store for a few hours.

 

*****

The sun had gone down and Keith had long since lost track of what time it was when Lance got back to the apartment. Surrounded by boards, parts and connectors for the dresser he was assembling, Keith looked up at the sound of his roommate’s laughter.

“You doin’ ok there, buddy?” Lance chuckled, assessing the chaos of the room where Keith was trapped in the middle. “It looks like this place exploded.”

“I’m managing,” Keith answered, trying to fit two boards together into the correct position. “I can’t get this tab to go into the right slot…”

Lance dissolved into a fit of giggles, sounding like a little boy. Keith looked at him curiously, having absolutely no idea what he found so funny about malfunctioning furniture parts.

“Really?” Lance gasped. “Tab A - Slot B. No wonder you’re having trouble. You’re more of a tab-tab kind of guy. Here,” he said, moving into Keith’s space and plopping down almost in his lap, “let the master take over.”

“Oh, for the love of ⏤” Keith shoved him over. “I forgot how much you like to blame all of my shortcomings on my sexual preference.”

“There are just some things in life you’ll never understand if you’ve never been with a woman,” Lance explained, as he carefully wiggled the two pieces together and then slid them into place. He gave Keith a smug look. “Exhibit A: finesse.”

“Finesse my ass,” Keith said and then groaned the minute he heard the words fly out of his mouth.

Lance rewarded him with a well-earned shit-eating grin. He wiggled his eyebrows, pitched his voice deeper and said slowly, “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

Keith laughed loudly and punched him in the arm and was rewarded with a cursed reply and a visually red mark on Lance’s arm.

Lance was one of those rare men who didn’t let the fact that he was straight interfere with being an uncontrollable flirt and completely comfortable with his sexuality. And once he’d realized how flustered it made Keith, Lance made a point to pretend to hit on him at every opportunity.

Their friendship probably appeared strange from the outside, but it was comfortable and worked for them. Lance found it hilarious, and for some reason appropriate according to his own reasoning, to flirt with Keith since he was gay. And although Keith would deny it to his dying breath, he didn’t mind it. Keith was a safe target, since he recognized Lance’s behavior for the empty ribbing it was. While other men might get upset or even angry at Lance’s flirty commentary, Keith wasn’t bothered by it. Lance’s comments always seemed to come at moments when Keith needed the confidence boost, making him wonder if Lance wasn’t doing it more for Keith than himself.

His roommate was an odd individual, but after all these years Keith could honestly say he loved him for it.

“Let’s get this thing together so we can get some food,” Keith complained. “I’m starving. Did you eat already?”

“Nope,” Lance answered as he handed Keith a couple of screws. “There’s a bar not too far from here with a decent menu. We could go there.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Lance helped him get the cheap dresser assembled, anticipating the tools and supplies Keith would need before he could even ask for them. He’d forgotten how well they worked together, with Lance acting as his right-hand man.

Even though he was starting a new job with a completely new age group, Keith was glad that at least one thing in his life would be simple. Five years ago, Keith never would have believed he and Lance would be voluntary roommates let alone great friends.

It really was funny how life worked out sometimes , Keith thought.

 

*****

A few weeks later, Keith had gotten settled in. He’d added a small desk to his room, assuming he would need a decent space to work on grading papers at home. He’d also been to his new school and met with the principal to start getting a handle on the curriculum he’ll be teaching. With a personality larger than life, the man was a lot for Keith’s introverted nature to handle. He hoped he would only have to deal with him in small doses.

Hearing Lance knock on the open door to his room, Keith looked up from where he’d been pouring over paperwork at his desk.

“Damn, amigo!” Lance exclaimed, waving his hand at his face like he was overheated. “Ay, Papi!”

Keith’s eyebrows wrinkled together in confusion as he pushed his glasses farther up his nose to keep them from sliding. “Huh?”

“The glasses, dude,” Lance explained as he plopped down on Keith’s bed, making himself comfortable. He waved a hand toward Keith. “You’ve got the whole ‘hot professor’ thing going on.”

Lance winked and Keith blushed, ducking his head. “Please,” he denied with a snort. “They’re just glasses.”

“They work for you,” Lance shrugged. “You probably shouldn’t wear them to school, though. You’ll have horny little children drooling all over their desks.”

Keith rolled his eyes. “I don’t think that’s going to be an issue with middle schoolers, Lance.”

His roommate laughed. “Dude, do you even know how many crushes I had in middle school? Not everybody gets a late start to puberty like you did. You may want to prepare yourself.”

Keith gave him an unamused glare.

“Did you or did you not call me last year complaining about how your prep period kept getting interrupted by a bunch of girls that needed ‘extra help’ but were already doing fine in your class?” Lance asked. Keith stared at him, crossing his arms like an answer to the question. “And how many high school parties did you get invited to again?”

Keith finally broke down and gave in with a chuckle. “Too many!”

“Exactly. The ladies want you, man,” Lance joked.

“Clearly, they don’t know me,” Keith deadpanned. “Not to mention, students have got even less of a chance than women do.”

“Really?” Lance’s eyes narrowed as he gave a crooked smile. “So you’re saying there’s still a chance I can set you up with my sister, Veronica?”

“Is she secretly a man?”

“No.”

“Then not a chance.”

“So you’re saying if she was a man that dressed like a woman--”

Keith’s eyes narrowed dangerously as he glared over the top of his glasses, as if Lance was a student about to get a detention.

Lance went on, completely unaffected, “Ah, that’s right. I forgot, you like to be the one getting MAN-handled.”

“Lance!” Keith barked as his friend grinned at his own joke.

“What?” Lance said innocently, fluttering his lashes for effect. “For the record, I think Veronica could take you. Although I doubt she’d have the upper body strength for the kind of kinky shit you’re into.”

“What the hell, Lance.”

“Dude, let me remind you of the time I needed to have my brain scrubbed after I walked in and whats-his-name had you up against the wall…”

A bright red bloomed over Keith’s cheeks. “That was one time!”

With a rueful expression, Lance reached over to pat Keith on the leg and responded, “Sure it was, buddy.”

 

*****

Having received a key to both the building and his classroom with only a week before school started, Keith was eager to get to work setting up his new work environment. He had a few science-related posters he’d purchased for his classroom last year, but he worried they would be a little too advanced for his new curriculum. They got thrown in his car anyway, just in case.

Walking into the classroom, Keith was greeted by barren white walls and multiple rows of plastic student desks with fake wood-grain tops. A larger teacher’s desk sat at one side of the room in a corner, and he was happy to see the line of windows against one wall. They gave the plain room a bright feel, and the shelf running underneath would be a good spot to put a few plants for some of the units he’d be teaching. Spotting a sizable cabinet in another corner, Keith hoped it held some things he could use to spruce up the room before classes started.

Although Keith would be spending the majority of his time teaching science, he’d need to remember to check on the Art room as well. According to the principal, it should already be stocked with supplies and organized, but he wanted to ensure it was neat and orderly for the first day with students.

A knock at his door startled him and Keith turned around quickly, eyes wide.

“Sorry! Didn’t mean to scare you,” a short mouse of a girl - woman? - greeted him with a smile. “I’m Pidge. I teach science too!”

“Oh! Hey, nice to meet you,” Keith said, moving closer and giving her an awkward wave.

They looked at each other for a moment before Pidge broke the silence. “And you are?”

“Oh! Keith. Sorry,” he stuttered as he put a hand out to shake hers, an embarrassed blush heating his face. He wondered how old he would be before he completely understood social cues.

“My room is down the fifth grade hallway, but I saw your light on so I figured I should come say hi. Is there anything you need? It looks like this place has been picked pretty clean.”

“Huh?” Keith uttered in total confusion.

“You do know how things work in public schools, right? How long have you been teaching?” Pidge asked, pushing her round glasses up the bridge of her nose.

“This is just my second year,” he answered, looking down at her. He wondered if she ever got mistaken for a student - she was young and really short.

“Ah,” Pidge said knowingly. “Mine too. Well, just a heads up for the end of the year, when teachers retire or leave, the rest of the staff descends like vultures to claim anything that gets left in the room. That’s probably why there’s nothing in here.”

“Oh, ok,” Keith said. “I guess that means I’ll have to buy some stuff. Any chance we get funds for that from the school?”

Pidge’s sudden laughter echoed loudly in the room. “That’s cute.”

“Well, shit.”

Pidge looked around the room, turning a critical eye toward the teacher’s desk. She flew over to it and began opening and closing the drawers. “Jesus! Did they even leave you a stapler for crying out loud?”

He’d known going into teaching would involve spending his own money on things, but he’d at least expected a certain amount of material would be provided for the job.

“Ok, I’m not going to lie, I now feel bad for scrounging in here last May,” Pidge said, looking at him apologetically. “In my defense, my friends encouraged me. But really, who takes the pencils and stapler?”

Keith must have been looking a little pathetic, because Pidge quickly took pity on him.

“Ok, come with me,” she said, grabbing his hand like they were old friends and dragging him out of the room. “I’ve got some extra stuff. Let’s see what we can do.”

The next few days were busy, with Pidge taking Keith under her wing while taking him on a scavenger hunt for supplies throughout the building. He had finally procured a stapler and other basic office supplies from a stash in the office, and Pidge had given him a few posters and things to hang on the walls. She had also introduced him to a few other teachers in the building, all of whom had offered materials for him to use.

Apparently, it really did take a village and unbeknownst to him, Keith had joined one.

He liked it though. His new coworkers were friendly and helpful, and as someone still pretty new to teaching he was thankful.

“You’ll have to come out for drinks with us on Friday after school,” Pidge said as she stood on a chair in his room to tack up the last of the posters he had borrowed. “You’ll get to meet everybody else at the staff meeting this week, but there’s a group of us that make Friday afternoons a regular thing to blow off steam. I just realized you haven’t even met Shiro yet! I bet you guys will get along great.”

“Shiro?” Keith asked, only half listening to her as he organized stacks of papers and worksheets on his desk.

“Yeah. He teaches eighth grade math, so his room is in the other wing,” she explained. He watched as she climbed down from the chair carefully. “Shiro’s great. He’s basically the reason I got a job here. He’s my brother’s roommate. You’ll love him.”

Shiro . Not a common name, yet he knew he’d heard it before. A lifetime ago - in Texas. It wasn’t possible that the very same person worked in Garrison now.

No. That would be crazy.

Keith pushed the thought to the back of his mind, convinced the name must be a fluke or more common than he’d realized. Besides, he had two days to get ready for the start of his second year of teaching and a million things to do.

The last thing he had time for was daydreaming about an old high school crush.

Chapter Text

“All set for the new year?” a musical voice asked from behind him as Shiro shoved a pile of extra folders into the top of a cabinet.

He turned his head to see Allura standing in the doorway to his classroom with a bright smile. With her curly, white hair pulled back half off her face by a gold headband and the rest flowing down behind her, Shiro thought she looked like some kind of regal princess from a distant land.

“As ready as I ever am,” Shiro answered, giving the folders one last shove and then quickly closing the cabinet doors to keep anything from toppling out.

“That seems like a poor idea,” Allura remarked snidely as she pointed at the cabinet. “The next time you open that…”

“That’s a problem for Future Shiro,” he replied with a grunt. “ Right now, I ’ve got copies to make, books to number and seating charts to make. An overflowing cabinet is the least of my worries.”

The first day of school was in three days, and no matter how early Shiro came in over the summer, he never felt ready. There always seemed to be more to do. He had already spent most of the last four days in his classroom, but meetings would fill the next few days so there wouldn’t be much time for any of his own prep work.

“Is there anything I can help you with?” Allura asked. As the school guidance counselor, her schedule was always slightly less busy in the week leading up to the start of school. Once the children arrived, however, her days would get booked pretty quickly .

“Would you mind running some copies for me? I have a few worksheets I need, but I haven’t even made it out of this room in days.” He walked over to his cluttered desk, adding a note to his mental task list to clean it up in the next two days.

“You haven’t met any of the new teachers, then?” Allura asked, her head tilted with a curious look.

“No, why?” Shiro rummaged around his desk, before his eyes settled on a the file he was looking for.

“Oh, just a wondering,” she commented. “We have some really nice people joining the staff.”

“That’s good,” Shiro said, picking up the file labeled “To Copy” in bold black marker and thumbing through to double check the worksheets. He handed her the file and said, “I just need sixty copies of each of these.”

Continuing as if he hadn’t spoken, she added with a smirk, “Nice looking , too.”

Shiro narrowed his eyes with a meaningful look. “How nice for you.”

The tinkling laugh that burst from her in response only irked him more. Allura had done this to him every year for the last three they had worked together. She seemed determined to set him up with every unattached staff member that walked into their building.

“I’m not shopping for myself, dear,” Allura said, her blue eyes shining with mirth. “Although, there is a new science teacher in the sixth grade wing… Jet black hair, nice features... I wouldn’t turn him away at the door.”

Shiro gave her a fond look. “I’m sure he’ll be crazy about you by the end of the week.”

“You never know,” she replied with a small smile. “You may prove to be competition!”

“Allura,” he sighed, “Besides the fact that I am the only gay man in this entire building and will probably keep that title - look at me. Who in their right mind would want this ?”

Shiro used his prosthetic right arm to gesture at himself, while giving his friend a knowing look. There had been a time when he’d had more self-confidence, but that had ended after his accident. Looking in the mirror every day he saw a broken man, even if he no longer felt that way deep down.

Most people didn’t take the time to look past his scars, and that was just the visible ones. Over time Shiro had gotten used to constantly being a little lonely. He knew he wasn’t old at twenty-seven, but as the next big decade of his life crept closer, Shiro wondered if he would continue to spend it alone.

It might be time to break down and get a couple of cats , he thought, letting his depressed feelings take over for a moment.

Allura stared at him with what Shiro assumed was pity in her eyes. “My darling, one day you will meet someone that will prove to you just how wrong you are.”

“In the meantime, good luck with Mr. Dark and Handsome,” Shiro frowned, pulling at the unruly thatch of white hair on the front of his head. “And thanks for making those copies for me.”

“You’re welcome,” she said. “I’ll put them in your mailbox when I’m done. Don’t stay too long tonight?”

“I won’t,” Shiro promised. “We have to be here bright and early for the faculty meeting tomorrow.”

They moaned dramatically in solidarity before Allura hurried out toward the work room. He was forever grateful to have Allura’s support, even if their friendship had led his roommate to joke that she was his “work wife”. It was in Allura’s nature to take care of people, and she had obviously decided early on that Shiro needed someone to look after him.

He didn’t mind it very much. On the contrary, he appreciated having a friend at work who would have his back. Just as he looked out for her when she needed it.

Organizing the stacks of textbooks on a table at the back of the classroom, Shiro thought about the new teacher Allura had shown an interest in. She generally had reliable taste in men, so if nothing else Shiro could at least look forward to having something nice to look at during staff meetings. Ogling his friend’s new crush would probably be the most exciting feature of his own personal life for the foreseeable future.

He would have to attempt to get to know this new teacher and make sure he was good enough for Allura. She deserved to be with someone nice. And if Shiro would have to live vicariously through his friend, he wanted to make sure the man was worthy .

 

*****

The next morning, Shiro arrived to school bright and early for their day of faculty meetings. After stopping into his classroom to get a few things in order, he sent Allura a text to see if she’d arrived yet. His phone buzzed with a message to meet her at the conference room, so he grabbed his travel mug of coffee and wandered to the large room at the other end of the building, trying to mentally prepare himself for the boring meetings ahead.

Allura greeted him in the hallway with a small smile, which he returned before following her into the room.

“I see Pidge has become fast friends with her new science partner,” Allura said with a grin, pointing across the room.

Shiro followed her gaze to where his roommate’s sister was standing, talking to a taller dark-haired man he didn’t recognize from the back. The smiling, animated demeanor was odd behavior for Pidge in general but this early in the morning, it was especially odd. If Pidge was choosing to hold a conversation with him before her third cup of coffee, this new person must have already impressed her.

Shiro was intrigued already.

Pidge’s companion turned to face the rest of the room, finally giving Shiro a better look at the new teacher.

Suddenly the air was knocked out of his lungs.

“Shiro?”

Humunayaahah …” Language was a secondary process his brain could no longer process. He could still hear Allura’s voice, but it was more of a background buzzing. All of his sensory features had shut down apart from his eyes, which had become laser-focused on the man across the room.

He was the most attractive man Shiro had ever seen in his entire life.

And he’d seen people. He’d been to college, dated handsome men, hell - he’d almost married one once. But the new teacher was something else.

Perfection .

Longish, jet black hair curled up above his shoulders and framed an angular face with a sharp chin, his mouth turned up in a small smile as he chatted with Pidge. He had a lean frame, but his plum-colored v-neck shirt was snug enough to stretch around what Shiro could see were firm biceps. From the well-defined collarbone peeking tantalizingly from the top of his shirt, he guessed there was a lot more muscle definition hiding below it as well .

As he continued to scan the man’s body, Shiro noticed his legs were incredibly long - either that or the fitted black jeans he wore really worked for him.

Maybe both.

A finger touched the bottom of Shiro’s chin, forcing his mouth closed with a firm upward pressure. He shot a glance at Allura, the owner of the finger, who giggled quietly and looked like it was taking everything in her not to fall over laughing at his expression.

“Close your mouth, darling,” she laughed. “You wouldn’t want to drool on yourself.”

Hmmm ?” It was the only response he could manage with his now-closed mouth, his eyes already drawn back to the beautiful creature across the room. It felt like every nerve ending in his body was firing, lighting him up like a fireworks display from the inside.

Allura grabbed his arm and led him over to a table at the side of the room, far enough away he’d be prevented from making a fool of himself in front of the man Shiro still couldn’t tear his gaze away from. He didn’t even feel his legs moving until his body felt a chair beneath him. Allura, a savior in his lust-addled haze, took hold of his jaw with one hand and forced his face toward hers.

Bright blue eyes sparkled with unspoken laughter as he stared at her, trying to regain his equilibrium.

“Allura. He’s wearing glasses ,” Shiro whined helplessly . “You said nothing about glasses.”

She laughed then, loud and boisterous , probably drawing attention from the other staff members in the room. Shiro didn’t care. He had to stay focused on her or he would look back over at the work of art across the room and do something incredibly stupid.

Like blurt out how beautiful he was.

“I’m sorry,” Allura told him. “I probably should have mentioned that.”

She was one of the few people Shiro had entrusted with knowledge of the fact that glasses were kind of a thing for him. Allura called it a kink, which he didn’t really appreciate - but he couldn’t deny that a man with glasses was an attraction. He wasn’t sure if it was from his teenage crush on Harry Potter or the fact they just seemed to make a guy look smarter - but glasses were his own personal kryptonite.

And the new science teacher’s thin black frames that matched his hair were really doing it for Shiro.

“Holy hell, Allura,” Shiro breathed. He’d forgotten for a moment oxygen was something his lungs actually required. “Warn a guy next time.”

Seeing that he was speaking with recognizable words again, she made the mistake of letting go of his face and watched as his head once again swiveled to look across the room. “I did tell you he was handsome,” Allura chuckled.

Shiro could not stop staring at the man. He looked young. Certainly younger than Shiro and Allura. Was he even old enough to be a teacher? thought Shiro.

Then again, Pidge was sitting next to him and there were times last year when a substitute in the building had mistaken her for one of the eighth graders. Maybe she just made him look younger by proxy.

Through the fog of lust, Shiro heard someone clapping to get the crowd’s attention, and for a brief moment the dark-haired man caught his gaze. Unable to force himself to break eye contact, Shiro gave a weak smile in greeting, hoping that he didn’t look like an idiot. The man looked at him quizzically for a moment before turning away to focus his attention on their principal, Coran.

God, I hope I didn’t just make a weird face and scare him off already , Shiro thought. Then immediately followed that by telling himself, Don’t get excited. Allura is bound to be more his type, anyway.

Coran was bouncing at the front of the room, reminding Shiro of a child on a trampoline. When he got to be that age, Shiro hoped he would have half as much energy as their boss. He often wondered how Coran managed it.

“Welcome to another year at Garrison Middle School!” Coran greeted the room once everyone had quieted down. Sometimes teachers were worse than the students when it came to talking when they shouldn’t be. “Thank you all for being on time today. If you didn’t see the email of the agenda, we’ll begin today with meeting our newest staff members, doing a team building exercise.” Audible groans sounded around the room at this pronouncement. “Now, now. It will be fun! Then we’ll take a break and get into subject area groups for professional development before lunch. Any questions ?”

Coran paused for a moment, looking around the room and daring anyone to ask something that would be answered later throughout the day. Shiro sighed with relief that there were no takers and they could all move on with their morning.

Besides that, he was suddenly impatient to learn the new science teacher’s name.

“All right everyone, I’d like you to meet our newest teachers!” Coran said with a bright smile. “Scarlet Granger — stand up, stand up! Scarlet is joining us this year to teach fifth and sixth grade language arts. Ms. Granger, will you tell us a little about yourself?”

Shiro zoned out as the woman talked about her background, sneaking a glance at Pidge and her new teaching partner. Dark hair turned just slightly to hide his face as Shiro looked over, making him think the man had been looking his way the second before.

Shiro reminded himself it was highly unlikely. He must have been looking at Allura.

Shiro turned to look at his friend as she gave her undivided attention to the Granger person who was still talking. Allura was an undeniably pretty woman - anyone could see that. The new teacher had definitely been looking at her.

“Thank you Scarlet!” said Coran. “Next we have Keith Kogane, who will be teaching lower level science.”

Shiro watched as the man next to Pidge stood up, looking awkwardly around the room. “Even his name is sexy,” Shiro muttered under his breath toward Allura.

Coran continued, “We’re fortunate that Keith also has a background in Art, and he will be picking up the enrichment semester classes for the upper levels as well .”

“What happened to Bowman?” someone called out from the back of the room.

Coran’s smile turned into a sour frown. “She had a child at the end of last year, remember? She’s decided to take a year off, bless her. I’ve cut back the other Art classes for the time being until I can find someone else. In the meantime, I’m sure Keith will have no trouble with the eight graders. Mr. Kogane, what should we know about you?”

“Well, I’m originally from Texas, but I went to college here in Arizona,” Keith began, taking a nervous look around the room. The moment his eyes landed near Shiro they darted off just as quickly. “After I graduated, I taught at a high school last year, but I wanted to work with kids a little younger. So here I am, I guess!”

He laughed to himself and the rest of the room gave a sympathetic chuckle. These introductions were always so forced and uncomfortable. Shiro couldn’t help but focus on what a nice voice the man had - raspy with a hint of a southern drawl.

Once he’d gotten over the shock of someone so gorgeous joining their staff, Shiro couldn’t help but think the man looked familiar. He couldn’t imagine why, though. He definitely would have remembered seeing someone who looked like that before.

Yet, there was just something about him...

A few more introductions from Coran welcoming the new staff continued, but Shiro lost focus as his attention was repeatedly drawn back to Keith. He could swear the man kept turning away every time he glanced in that direction, but he couldn’t be sure. Shiro wasn’t able to catch his eye again as Coran segued into discussing a few odds and ends regarding the start of school and a few policy changes.

Before long, it was time for a mid-morning break. Eager to get a chance to meet the new science teacher, Allura and Shiro waved Pidge over to the where they were standing near their table. She was followed by an anxious-looking Keith, who Shiro noted still seemed to avoid looking at him.

It was not doing much for Shiro’s self-confidence.

“Hello!” Allura greeted them, giving Shiro a deliberate look complete with a knowingly arched eyebrow .

“Hey, Pidge,” Shiro said, nodding his head in greeting. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know. Same as always,” she answered. “Have you murdered my brother yet?”

“No…”

“Darn,” she deadpanned. Turning to Keith she added, “Matt is my own personal nightmare that Shiro, angel of a man that he is, convinced to share an apartment with him.”

“To translate that, her brother is my best friend,” Shiro explained with a grin. He didn’t want Keith to get the wrong idea about him living with Matt, in the extremely unlikely event he was single and actually interested. “I’m Shiro by the way .”

Keith finally, finally looked him in the eye as he raised a hand to adjust his glasses. His eyes were some kind of mesmerizing dark blue-purple color and combined with the glasses and the rest of him, Shiro had to remind himself to breathe.

He’d never seen eyes that color… except - had he? Again a feeling of deja vu washed over him like somehow he’d met this man before.

Keith gave him a curious look. “And what do the kids call you?”

“Oh,” said Shiro, eyebrows raised and a little thrown by the query. “Mr. Shirogane.”

Keith eyes widened and Shiro could swear he saw panic flash over his face before quickly looking over at Allura. What was that about? He wondered.

“And you’re the counselor, right?” Keith asked, letting out a breath he may have been holding. “I think we already met?”

“Yes, I’m Allura Altea,” she answered with a bright smile. Keith gave a crooked grin back, and Shiro could see he was already falling under her spell.

Most men did.

Allura and Keith got into a discussion about his move to the area and how he liked it so far, easily chatting like old friends. Meanwhile Shiro noticed that the man never looked his way again - as if Shiro was no longer even standing in their circle. He glanced at Pidge and noticed her giving him an odd look, glancing back and forth between Shiro and Keith like she was conducting an observational assessment.

He almost expected her to pull out a clipboard and begin taking notes.

Catching her eye, he looked at her quizzically, but she shook him off with a dismissive nod. With Keith and Allura in their own little world and Pidge doing… well, whatever she was doing, Shiro cut his losses and grabbed his coffee mug to get a refill before the meeting reconvened.

He just hoped the extra caffeine would help keep him focused more on the day’s tasks and less distracted by the beautiful man that was absolutely uninterested in him.

Chapter Text

 

No.

No no no no no no no .

This could not be happening. His brain had to be playing a trick on him.

Right?

There was no way Pidge’s friend ‘Shiro’ was the same Mr. Shiro who had been his teacher when he was in high school. And yet, the man who had just walked through the door - the man Pidge had again referred to as ‘Shiro’ - looked a fuckton like his old teacher.

What the holy hell?!

Keith tried desperately to control his breathing and act normal, continuing his conversation with Pidge as if the man of his goddamn teenage wet dreams did not just waltz into his first official day at his new job.

Because there was no way he had ever done anything so completely horrible in his life to deserve that level of shitty karma.

Keith couldn’t help but take surreptitious glances at the man. He looked different - maybe it wasn’t really him? He was tall, but then again lots of men were tall. Five years ago, the Mr. Shirogane he knew didn’t have a white floof of bangs in the front of his hair. And he definitely hadn’t been walking around with a metal arm.

This guy also appeared to spend a lot of time doing weights at the gym, which a very small part of his brain appreciated more than he should while simultaneously having a panic attack. If the man hadn’t looked like a more jacked version of his horny teenage fantasies, Keith would have been more focused on his luck at having highkey eye candy on staff.

Because, damn .

A wall of muscle stretched out his grey polo shirt, worn with dark-wash jeans wrapped around thighs so thick they were probably wider than Keith’s waist.

Hot damn.

After a few more minutes of examining the man in fits and starts as faculty trickled in for the meeting, Keith noticed a scar over Shiro’s nose, as if someone had taken a paintbrush and run pink from cheek to cheek. On an average human being it might have marred the perfection of their features, distracting from the sharp cheekbones and square jaw.

Luckily, Shiro was obviously no average human.

No, there was no way this guy had been his teacher a few years ago. A teacher this level of hot would have caused his skinny gay self to spontaneously combust on contact.

Pidge was still talking, but Keith barely registered it as she pointed out other coworkers and fed him bits of information about each of them.

He was saved from pretending to listen as his new boss, Coran, got their meeting started. Of course, he wanted to begin by introducing the new staff members, which made Keith incredibly nervous. It was one thing to talk to a group of kids, but for some reason in front of adults he became a stuttering mess.

Fortunately, his turn to share about himself came quickly, and Keith kept it as short as possible. The last thing he wanted to do was humiliate himself in front of a room full of people he’d be working with all year. Not to mention the hot ass guy across the room.

His luck ran out when Coran announced a break and Pidge leaned over to him. “I’m getting flagged down. Come with me and meet Shiro!”

He looked over to where Shiro was sitting with a woman whose name he couldn’t remember. He thought he’d met her earlier in the week, but it was difficult trying to learn everyone on staff when you had to remember the name of fifty new people all at once. At his previous school, by the end of the year he’d still only known about a quarter of the people he worked with.

Of course, part of that may have been his general lack of interest in socializing with anyone.

Steeling himself to run the gauntlet of his own personal nightmare, Keith followed behind Pidge to the other side of the room where her friends were waiting. As she began making small talk, Keith made a point to look absolutely anywhere except the gorgeous man in front of him. He wasn’t entirely sure how he was going to survive this interaction, but looking at him directly was dangerous. Like looking into the sun. It was so amazing and mesmerizing, before you knew it, you’d be blind.

Pidge made some comment about her brother, and then he heard that voice, deep and smooth like honey, and he could swear it was the same one he remembered. “I’m Shiro by the way .”

Fuck . Was it him? It was almost definitely him.

He couldn’t just ignore the man — that would be rude and a horrible way to start out. Raising a hand to adjust his glasses, Keith took a breath and looked up into what he was sure were the same steel-grey eyes he’d fantasized about in high school. He had to remind himself to breathe and act normal.

Shiro didn’t seem to have any idea who he was, and it was best to keep it that way.

Maybe this is all still some cosmic joke? A tiny piece of him still hoped he was reading everything wrong.

Calling on every trick he’d learned in the one and only stage acting class he’d taken as an elective in college, Keith played it cool, fishing for information. “And what do the kids call you?”

“Oh,” Shiro said, his eyebrows raised in surprise. “Mr. Shirogane.”

Holyfuckingshit !

The man who had made him realize he was gay - the fantasy that every one of his college boyfriends couldn’t quite live up to - was now his co-worker .

Oh, I am so fucked , he thought, resisting the urge to pull at his hair in frustration.

Internally screaming and desperately trying to keep it together, Keith latched on to the only distraction in his line of sight.

“And you’re the counselor, right?” Keith asked as he focused on the woman, slowly letting out the breath he’d been holding and praying no one noticed. He could only hope his voice was steady. “I think we already met?”

“Yes, I’m Allura Altea,” she answered with a bright smile. Keith grinned back, thankful that she seemed overly friendly. If he could just talk with her for a while and avoid Shiro for the next few minutes, he might be able to get his heart rate under control enough to survive until lunch.

Allura asked about his move and how things were going so far, and Keith found her to be incredibly easy to talk to. Her accent was charming and there was something about her bright blue eyes that helped calm him. After just a few minutes of talking, Keith got the impression she was a really good person. He hoped he’d get the chance to get to know her a little better.

He couldn’t help but notice Pidge giving him an odd look once in a while, but then Shiro disappeared and he could finally breathe easier. Keith had a feeling Pidge noticed he was acting strange — he just hoped she didn’t ask too many questions.

He had absolutely no idea how to navigate the minefield he’d suddenly found himself in.

*****

 

“What are you doing sitting here in the dark? Lance asked as he came into the room. He flipped the switch on the wall, flooding the large room with light. “And drinking?”

“I’m co ntemplating the existence of God,” Keith replied, taking a sip from his glass of whiskey as if his behavior was completely normal.

“I’m sorry… What?” Lance said, his confusion evident. He moved farther into the room cautiously, as if each step might cause the floor to collapse beneath him.

“I’m beginning to think you’re onto something with the whole ‘god’ thing,” Keith stated blandly.

Lance stared at him, dumbfounded. Keith had been an outspoken atheist for all the years he’d known him. He wasn’t slurring his words though, so he couldn’t be drunk.

Which almost made the whole situation more concerning.

“Um… I almost hate to ask,” said Lance. “But — why?”

Keith turned around from his seat on the couch, finally looking at Lance directly. “Because there is definitely a higher power fucking with me.”

Lance watched in silence as his friend knocked back the rest of his drink, then rose off the couch and made his way into the kitchen where he started refilling his glass. His first instinct was to ask Keith what round he was on, but he thought better of it.

Never a good idea to poke an already agitated bear.

“Well, I tend to go for more of a loving God, but I guess I shouldn’t discourage you from finding religion,” Lance said sarcastically as he pulled out a stool at the counter to sit down. “Though I need to ask… Why do you think God hates you? Did your first day not go well?”

Suddenly, he feared talking his friend into moving across the state to live in Garrison might not have been his best idea.

Keith stared at him, looking as though he’d had a run-in with the grim reaper himself. “Remember that time I got wasted and told you about that teacher I had in high school?”

“Not sure how that’s related to God, but I’ll bite,” Lance said. “Yeah, I think so. Student teacher, right? Woke up all your little gay desires and turned you into a dick magnet.”

“I regret ever confiding in you,” Keith said, voice muffled by the hands covering his face.

At this point, Lance was never going to get a straight answer. “What the hell is going on, man?”

Iwawahm ,” Keith mumbled incoherently, face still hidden by his hands. He dropped his arms to the table and folded them, plopping his head down on top.

“Dude,” Lance grumbled. “I can’t hear you. What?”

Lance grabbed his shoulder and shoved gently, prompting Keith to sit up and face him. With the expression of someone whose dog just died, Keith said slowly, “I work with him.”

Lance blinked. “Work with who ?”

“The guy. The teacher. High school fantasy man,” Keith moaned, dropping his head back down to the counter.

“What?” Lance questioned in disbelief. “How is that possible? You grew up in Texas. How is he here?”

Keith brought his head up again to give him a death glare. “How the fuck am I supposed to know? All I know is, he’s in Garrison — and teaching at my new school.”

“Holy shit,” Lance blurted. He couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped his throat. “What are the odds?”

“Exactly,” Keith moaned. “God fucking HATES me…”

“And you’re sure it’s the same guy?”

“Positive. Believe me, at first I thought it was just one of those weird things where you meet somebody’s doppelganger,” Keith said with a sigh. “But I talked to him today. He’s obviously been through some shit since the last time I saw him, but it’s the same guy.”

“Did he recognize you?” Lance asked. He was trying to be supportive, but this was crazy .

Keith’s mouth twisted in thought. “I don’t think so. He didn’t say anything, anyway.”

“What did he say when you told him you were an old student?” Lance laughed.

Keith averted his eyes. “I didn’t!”

“What?” asked Lance in shock. “You didn’t tell him you knew him?”

“God, no!” Keith said, clearly embarrassed. “How mortifying is that? It’s bad enough being a new teacher. I don’t need people knowing I have a coworker who WAS my teacher. How’s anybody going to take me seriously?”

Lance looked at him with concern. “I’m sure that type of thing happens all the time. Besides, he’s only a few years older than you. It’s not that big a deal.”

“It’s embarrassing,” Keith muttered as his face flushed red. “Plus, I can hardly look at him.”

“Why? Did he get ugly?”

“No,” mumbled Keith. He lifted his glass again, swallowing the rest of the liquor in one large gulp. “Worse.”

“He’s even better looking?” Lance guessed.

“Guy’s got a metal arm now,” Keith said, giving Lance a pitiful look from under the fall of dark hair in his face. For some reason, Keith always reminded Lance of a wet cat when he was sad. “And he is BUILT. He looks like Steve Rogers and Bucky had a love child.”

“Oh shit!” Lance said, wide-eyed. He barely contained the laughter trying to escape, only managing because Keith looked so miserable. “You are f - u - u - cked .”

Keith would never admit it out loud, but Steve and Bucky were probably his two favorite fantasies. As his roommate, Lance was unfortunately very aware of exactly how often his friend watched Winter Soldier .

And never without a blanket in his lap. And always turning the movie off when Lance came into the room.

It was gross, but he tried not to judge.

“So, let me get this straight,” Lance clarified. “Your dream guy from, like, five years ago has grown up to be your current dream guy?”

With a groan that sounded like a dying moose, Keith replied, “This is SO bad.”

Ever the faithful friend, Lance proceeded to laugh like a giddy child. “It’s fucking hysterical!”

“I’m so glad my pain amuses you,” Keith snarled.

“You know, most people would call this type of thing ‘luck’,” Lance said, crossing his arms in front of him.

“Yeah, well most people aren’t me.”

“No kidding. And thank God for that,” Lance retorted. “Only you could have everything you’ve ever wanted dropped into your lap like it’s fate and want to run like hell.”

“That’s not fair,” Keith groaned. “One, I don’t even know if he’s into guys. He’s probably not. Two, it would be a horrible idea to get involved with a coworker. Isn’t there some kind of ‘Being an Adult’ rule about that?”

Lance gave him a knowing look. “And three, he obviously scares the hell out of you.”

Keith grumbled something unintelligible and glared daggers at him, but Lance just tried not to giggle at his uncanny resemblance to a grumpy cat.

“Which is amazing, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen you scared of anything . Well, besides relationships,” Lance said with a wink. He quickly dodged a pillow that hurtled at his head from Keith’s direction. “Where’s Mr. Suave Confidence, the campus heartbreaker I used to know and love?”

“He’s dead. I buried him in Phoenix before I left,” Keith deadpanned.

“You know what you need to do?” Lance asked, walking through the doorway toward his room. At Keith’s blank stare, his face morphed into a crooked grin. “Get laid. Go get ‘em, tiger.”

Lance bolted down the hallway with a boisterous laugh as two more pillows hit the wall behind him.

*****

 

The school year began with a rush of getting to know students, setting up routines, and Keith scrambling to keep his head above water from the workload. He couldn’t wait until he had a stable position, where he could simply pull out everything he needed from his files and relax.

Instead, he was poring over the curriculum, developing lessons and assignments, creating worksheets… and trying not to lose his mind.

No wonder so many people quit teaching within the first five years. The workload was insane.

But the rewards were amazing. Keith didn’t think he would ever get tired of watching a student’s eyes light up when they discovered some fascinating new scientific information or watched it play out in real life. And getting to see the artwork the students created was enjoyable, too. He had wondered what kind of work middle school students would be able to produce, but already he’d been blown away by the skill of some of the students. The way some of them could see the world and portray it in their art was fascinating.

Before he knew it, most of the first quarter had flown by. Keith had been so busy, he hadn’t even really had time to worry about the god-like man just a few hallways over.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t constantly reminded of his presence.

Whether it was in the copy room, the hallways or the teacher’s lounge, Keith seemed to run into Shiro on an almost daily basis. The man was always friendly, never without a smile (that made Keith want to melt into a puddle), and often seemed to try to stop him to chat. But so far, Keith had found a way to make excuses and avoid him.

He was just too good-looking. And then there was their history — even though Shiro didn’t remember him, it still made Keith incredibly uncomfortable. He was working with his dream guy, and he had absolutely no way to deal with the emotions that created.

So, Keith being Keith, he ran away at every opportunity and avoided Shiro like the plague.

It helped that Shiro was often with Allura when Keith bumped into him.

“Hello, Keith!” Allura called out with a smile as he wandered into the lounge to grab a cold drink from the fridge after school. He had at least an hour of grading ahead of him, and caffeine was an absolute necessity at this point in the day.

As usual, Shiro was sitting beside her, the papers he was grading spread out like a fan on the table in front of them. He smiled in greeting and laid down his pen, focusing his attention on Keith as he came into the room.

Forcing himself not to make contact with gunmetal eyes he knew would pull him in, Keith answered, “Hey you two. How’s it going?”

He opened the fridge and leaned in, digging around to find his drink which someone had pushed to the back. He heard a strange whining sound behind him, but when he stood up and turned around, everything seemed fine.

Must have just been the fridge making noise.

Shiro’s face seemed a little pink, but Keith assumed Allura had done something to cause it. She was with Shiro so often, Keith had come to the conclusion they must be dating. No one else on staff that didn’t share a grade level and required collaboration time spent as much time together as they did.

“I can’t believe the first quarter is almost over, can you?” Allura asked. Keith was torn between making a quick exit to get back to grading and stalling for a few minutes. He actually liked talking to Allura — she was a good distraction which helped him hold a conversation like a normal person and not a stuttering idiot who couldn’t speak around his crush. Because he could not talk to Shiro.

Just… no.

Every time he even looked at the man, his brain promptly reverted back into a blushing teenager.

“I know, it’s gone really fast,” Keith said, pushing his glasses up on his face to keep them from slipping. He unscrewed the cap on his drink, plopping into a chair across from them at the table and taking a long drink of soda.

With a quick glance at Shiro, he noticed the man’s face had gotten more flushed, and his flesh hand was covering his mouth and most of his face.

“Are you ok?” Keith asked, breaking his personal rule about initiating conversations with Shiro. The man looked a little sick, and Allura seemed oblivious. Somebody should help the poor guy.

“I’m fine,” Shiro said, but he sounded like he was being strangled.

Allura finally looked over at him, leaning over to whisper something in his ear and then patting him on the arm. Closing his eyes, Shiro leaned toward her and sighed.

As he watched the exchange, Keith became even more convinced they were together. They were both attractive people, and it made sense that they would be drawn to each other. It helped, a little, to be able to remind himself that he had no chance with Shiro. If he was dating Allura, Keith was obviously not his type.

Of course, even knowing Shiro wouldn’t be interested didn’t keep Keith’s brain from fantasizing about him.

He was only a man.

“He’s fine,” Allura said with a smile. “Just having a difficult afternoon.”

“Oh, ok.”

Weird, but whatever , Keith thought. Serious couples always seemed to have their own type of private communication he was never able to understand.

“How are your classes going, Keith?” asked Allura. “Have you been able to get into a routine with everything?”

“Yeah, they’re going well,” he answered. “Especially my art classes. Some of those kids have amazing talent.”

“I heard you do, too,” Shiro piped up. Whatever Allura had said must have made him feel better, and his color was back to normal.

“What?” Keith asked.

“Some of my students were talking about the artwork you showed them yesterday,” he explained with a shy smile.

“Oh,” Keith sighed. “Yeah, we’re going to start doing a little anatomy drawing, so I showed them some of my sketches when I was explaining techniques.”

According to a few of the girls, you’re quite skilled with portraying the male physique,” Allura said with a shy smile.

Keith frowned in thought. “Yeah, I guess I’m going to have to pull some stuff from Google to show them women’s bodies. I don’t generally do those so I don’t have many examples. I didn’t think about that.”

Allura leaned forward with interest. “Really?”

“Yeah, drawing is more of a hobby for me, so I tend to focus on my own interests,” Keith said with a smile.

“Oh! You know, I have a friend that I bet would be more than happy to model for you,” Allura said quickly. She shot a look at Shiro, who seemed to be communicating silently to her with his eyes.

“That’s ok. Usually I just draw whoever I’m dating,” Keith said, pausing as Shiro started coughing and had to take a drink from his mug. “Or movie characters. And if I get desperate enough and I’m feeling generous, I use my roommate.”

“Your roommate?” Allura prompted.

Keith chuckled. “Yeah, he thinks he’s hot and it boosts his ego.”

Quickly gathering up his materials, Shiro suddenly stood up and made quickly for the door. “I’d better get going. Allura, I’m sure I’ll talk to you later. Keith, you have a good night.”

Keith could only watch as the man bolted nervously from the room.

“You too,” he said quietly. It was obvious that talking about his interest in only drawing men was what sent Shiro running. If he’d had any lingering doubt that Shiro was straight and dating Allura, Keith was now completely convinced.

Even though Shiro’s departure made it easier for him to breath, Keith felt bad for frightening him off. He hoped Shiro was just ‘straight-male-uncomfortable’ and not ‘homophobic-uncomfortable’. He didn’t seem the type, but sometimes people’s inner attitudes were hard to decipher.

Turning to Allura, he commented, “Sorry. I guess I scared him off?”

“Oh, no. It’s not your fault.” Allura smiled sweetly. “He’s just gotten a little overwhelmed, I think.”

She didn’t offer to elaborate, so Keith excused himself to get back to his grading. As he made his way back to the classroom, he couldn’t help but wonder about Shiro’s odd behavior. Maybe he had just been having a rough day? Keith ran back over their conversation, second guessing himself. He could only hope he hadn’t said anything to make future interactions with Shiro even more awkward than they had been.

At the rate he was going, it would be a relief just to make it to Christmas break without making a complete fool out of himself.

*****

 

Cold metal wrapped around his neck, squeezing tightly, leaving just enough room for Keith to be able to draw a shallow breath.

“Are you going to be a good boy?” Shiro asked, his baritone against Keith’s ear sending a wave of rumbled vibrations flowing through his body. The hint of scruff on Shiro’s face scraped deliciously as he began to drag his mouth and tongue in a teasing trail along Keith’s jawline. He had no idea if the dizzy, floating feeling in his head was from lack of oxygen or the intoxicating man hovering above him.

Swallowing a whine, Keith twisted his head to the side where desks and chairs sat in neat and orderly rows.

“We really shouldn’t be doing this here,” Keith murmured breathlessly as Shiro’s mouth made its way down his neck and across his collarbone. “What if someone comes in?”

Nips and bruising suction alternated lascivious torment on his skin as Shiro worked his way lower, never releasing his hold from where he had Keith pinned down. He was laid out the large desk at the front of his classroom, far away from the door but not out of view of the windows across the room. Keith was extremely glad it was located in the back corner of the building, away from the parking lot or busy common areas.

He gasped as teeth pinched his nipple, just barely on the right side of pleasurable. The soothing swipe of a tongue quickly followed before it flicked the sensitive bud, shooting electricity straight to Keith’s groin.

When had he even lost his shirt? He couldn’t remember and definitely didn’t care, only disappointed to realize he hadn’t gifted himself by giving Shiro the same treatment.

“As long as you’re quiet, no one will even know we’re here,” Shiro whispered as he licked and teased at the other nipple, making Keith squirm. “I locked the door, baby. You’re all mine.”

Heat shot straight down Keith’s body, making him even harder. The ache became unbearable as Shiro unraveled him with both words and his mouth. The hand at his waist started to unbuckle his belt and release the fastenings on his pants.

Warm air from Shiro’s breath blew through the thin layer of the boxers still covering him, and his cock throbbed as he begged, “Please! Please, Shiro…”

“Are you going to be quiet, baby?” As he released his stranglehold, Shiro gazed up at Keith from hip level, silver eyes molten with desire.

Keith gasped, drawing in the air his lungs craved, making his head spin. He propped himself up on his elbows, ready to combust at just the view of that face and those shoulders between his legs. “Yes — yes, I promise,” he breathed quietly. “Please!”

Cool air hit him for just a moment as his underwear was pulled down and he was exposed, before a large hand wrapped around his cock. Shiro’s wicked smirk disappeared as Keith’s eyes fell closed, the slow pace so good while he fought to stay silent.

When he opened his eyes, Shiro’s eyes shined back at him, nearly black from pupils blown wide. Keith held his breath as Shiro opened his mouth, his tongue reaching out toward the leaking head…

But before he even made contact, the loud blaring of the fire alarm sounded throughout the classroom, echoing off the walls as Shiro pulled away from him like he’d been burned.

Keith woke with a start, panting as if he’d just run a marathon.

He quickly sat up in bed and it took a moment to remember where he was. As he reached over to shut off the alarm clock, he winced as the throbbing in his boxers pressed against the mattress. Cursing the fact that even his alarm was cockblocking him, Keith groaned as he got out of bed, trying to mentally prepared himself for the very cold shower in his near future.

Maybe Lance was right. It was time for him to venture beyond the school and their apartment and go meet someone. He needed to get over what would only ever be a one-sided crush and find somebody else worth his time and energy.

Sure, Garrison was a lot smaller than Phoenix, and the chances of finding anyone as hot as Shiro and gay were probably slim. And while he’d never let himself totally fall for any of the guys he had dated in college, Keith knew he’d often compared them to the ideal man in his mind and found them lacking.

Now that he worked with that ideal man and he was off limits, it was definitely time to lay his desires for Shiro to rest and be realistic. It was time to act like an adult.

Or at the very least, get laid and find a way to get the hot teacher out of his head for a while.

Chapter Text

“He hates me,” Shiro lamented. Sitting in Allura’s office, he could understand why the students opened up to her in there. Something about the room just made it easy to pour your heart out.

He knew he was pouting. But it had been months. They were well into the second quarter of school, and Shiro had been trying for months to win over a certain younger teacher. Unfortunately, not only did Mr. Kogane have no interest in him, he couldn’t even stand to be in the same room with Shiro for an extended length of time.

Shiro could not for the life of him figure out what he’d done wrong.

“He doesn’t hate you,” Allura cooed, using the same calm, reassuring voice he’d often heard her use with the students. It would have felt demeaning except for the fact that it was helping him feel a little better.

“He does. Do you know, I see him just about every day and we’ve yet to actually have a conversation?” he argued. “He always seems to have a reason to leave as soon as I try to talk to him. It’s like he can’t get away from me fast enough.”

“I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think,” Allura said. “Besides, I’ve seen you talk to him quite often!”

“No, you talked to him,” Shiro replied. “If you’re there, he’ll talk to you. But he ignores me like the plague.”

“If I had to guess, I would say he thinks you don’t like him,” said Allura, her eyes soft.

“What?” He was shocked. He’d been nothing but friendly toward Keith — maybe too friendly. Was that the problem?

“Do I have to remind you about your reaction the day he mentioned having previous ‘boyfriends’?” She looked down her nose at him with a pitying gaze.

“Well, that’s not… I didn’t…” Shiro stuttered. “God, yeah I was a mess.”

“Indeed,” she firmly agreed. “I fear he may have gotten the wrong impression.”

“I am so bad at this,” Shiro moaned, covering his face with his hands. He jerked his head back up,  staring at Allura, as a thought occurred to him. “Wait — He’s been avoiding me since the very first day! I know I may have been falling all over myself around him, but he would barely look at me from the moment we met.”

Allura hummed to herself, thinking back to the first day of teacher meetings. “It’s possible…”

“Isn’t that weird? How could he dislike me before we’d even met?”

“I don’t think that’s the case,” Allura chuckled. “But I don’t know. Perhaps you wronged him in a past life?”

Shiro laughed, appreciating the fact that his friend was trying to cheer him up. “You know, it’s funny you say that. I swear there does seem to be something familiar about Keith. I just can’t place it…”

“Do you think you’ve had a run-in somewhere before?” she asked, running a hand through her long white hair. “I would think you’d remember. That face is not exactly forgettable.”

Shiro gave her an artificially stern look, not feeling bad about her responding faint blush and guilty eyes. “He said you’re not his type, remember?”

She frowned, sticking her tongue out childishly, and then broke into a wide grin. “All the more reason for us to find a way for you to win him over. He seems lovely, Shiro.”

“I know,” Shiro agreed with a sigh. “I’ve seen him a few times with the kids. He’s so great, and from what I hear the students adore him already.”

Who was he kidding? Shiro barely knew the guy, and he was already crazy about him, too. There was just something about Keith Kogane. He was gorgeous, of course, but he was just… real. There was no pretense. He worked hard, and he was honest — both traits Shiro held in very high regard.

He was the type of person Shiro would want to get to know even if he wasn’t attracted to him, which was why it bothered him so much that Keith had no interest in even talking to him. Even if they could only ever be friends, that was still better than the alternative.

“Pidge speaks very highly of him,” Allura commented. “And you know how difficult it is to garner her approval.”

Shiro was very aware of that fact, since it had taken quite a while for Pidge to come around and give Allura a chance. They were friends now — not close like she was with Shiro, but more than just work acquaintances at least. Sometimes when they went out Shiro felt like the glue holding their friendship together, since Pidge and Allura were two extremely different people. But deep down, their values were the same which made them more compatible.

“Pidge,” Shiro murmured. She had quickly become Keith’s closest friend in the building since he started teaching there. Maybe she was the key. “I wonder if she could help me figure this out. Or at least help me find out what I did wrong.”

Allura looked thoughtful for a moment. “She does seem to be friendly with him. Although, she’s yet to convince him to come get drinks with us.”

“She’s tried a few times,” Shiro said, remembering one of their previous conversations over happy hour drinks at the bar down the street. “She says he’s kind of shy.”

“That’s possible,” said Allura. “You should certainly talk to Pidge. I’m sure she will be able to provide more insight, if nothing else.”

It was worth a try if nothing else. Shiro wasn’t sure how much longer he could take the awkwardness between himself and Keith. If he’d done something wrong, he wanted to fix it. At the very least, he would settle for being able to have a normal conversation with the man like any other member of the staff.

Making a mental note to track down Pidge at the first opportunity, Shiro hugged Allura goodbye in thanks for listening to him vent and made his way back to his classroom for the afternoon.

 

*****

“OMG, he’s so hot!”

The barely whispered declaration from one of his female students caused Shiro’s head to jerk up in surprise. He’d been getting materials organized at the back of the room before the bell rang, allowing the eighth grade students a few minutes to chat and relax before class started.

“I know, right?” another girl responded.

Shiro couldn’t help but listen in. It was always a good idea to keep track of student romances, since along with the inevitable failure, there were generally tears, drama and slipping grades on one or both sides. Most of the time, the preteen romances were cute, though. His love life might be in the toilet, but there was always plenty of puppy love in a middle school to remind him of the thrill of infatuation.

“I’ve been trying to sneak a good picture of him on my phone, but he moves too fast,” a third girl added.

“I wish I could have Art all day,” the first student sighed, propping her head up with her elbow on her desk dramatically. 

“My sister is in sixth grade and has him for Science, too,” another girl said. “She’s so lucky!”

From their conversation, Shiro had assumed the girls were talking about another student. Yet the last comment made it sound like they were talking about —

“God, the things I would do to Mr. Kogane,” groaned one of the girls in a voice much too heated for her young years.

Of course, they were talking about Keith. 

Me too, kids. Me too, Shiro couldn’t help think. I very much feel you.

He quickly cleared his throat, reminding the students he was in the vicinity and was privy to every word. A quick glance at their faces flushed with embarrassment confirmed he’d accomplished his goal, and hopefully there would be no more discussion of the attractive Art teacher for the remainder of his class period.

Shiro certainly didn’t need to be reminded of the dark-haired man, his brain already did a fine job of ruminating about him all on its own. Finding himself relating to middle school girls was beyond disconcerting, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time. Last year there had been a famous actor the girls had all thought was cute and discussed on a daily basis — during a study hall one day he’d found himself unwittingly pulled into a conversation about the man’s best features.

At that point Shiro had resolved to permanently contain his inner child while at work.

The last thing he needed was to accidentally spill his secret crush to a bunch of eighth graders. Shiro would never hear the end of it, and the entire school would be informed within an hour.

He probably should find a way to warn Keith about the students’ use of phones during his class, though. The last thing the new teacher needed was his picture shared all over social media by hormonal students.

 

*****

After dismissal at the end of the day, Shiro wandered to Allura’s office, hoping she would be able to help him come up with a way to approach Keith about what he’d overheard from his students. Or even better, convince her to discuss it with him, since Shiro only managed to act like a tongue-tied idiot around the younger man.

As he entered the staff area leading to Allura’s office, he heard Pidge’s voice as it carried down the hallway. “They are both driving me crazy. I swear, I’m going to murder them.”

“They are being a little ridiculous,” Allura agreed. “And I don’t understand why. They seem very compatible.”

Pidge’s voice answered her. “We need to do something —”

“Hey, ladies!” Shiro greeted as he rounded the corner into Allura’s office. The two women stopped their conversation and stared at him, wide-eyed. “Who is it you’re murdering today, Pidge?”

“Oh,” Pidge answered, shooting Allura a quick glance. “Just a couple of boys in one of my classes.”

“Yes,” Allura said quickly. “They just can’t seem to get along as expected. We’ve been discussing the matter so I can help Pidge come up with a way to assist them.”

“You know,” Pidge smiled crookedly, her eyes wide and innocent. “Just teacher stuff!”

“Well, if you need any help, let me know,” Shiro offered, taking a seat in a free chair that was much too small for him. “Boys at this age can be particularly difficult.”

“I’m not sure they ever grow out of it,” muttered Pidge. Before Shiro had a chance to comment on her snark, she continued with a laugh, “You look completely ridiculous in that chair!”

Allura had taken out her cell phone, snapping a picture of Shiro’s large frame balanced on what looked like a tiny chair, his mouth opened to protest. “Really, Allura?” he complained.

“It’s cute, don’t fuss,” she replied. “Don’t worry, I won’t put it on social media.”

“Let me see,” Pidge said, jumping up to peek at Allura’s phone. She giggled. “Send that to me? The public needs to see this. Everybody deserves a laugh.”

“Pidge!” Shiro frowned.

“Don’t worry, Shiro,” Pidge said. “I’ll put an emoji over your face. Nobody will know it’s you.”

A few hours later, Shiro was not at all surprised to see an online post by Pidge, a smiling yellow face with his distinctive white tuft of hair above the rest of his body in the little chair.

It’s so nice to have friends that don’t embarrass you, Shiro thought sarcastically.

 

*****

The next day brought a blessed end to the work week, and Shiro had been harassed into joining Allura, Pidge and a few other teachers for happy hour. They had all been very busy this school year and had only managed a handful of social outings. It was nice to get out of the building and blow off steam, and it was a great way for the staff to get to know each other better. The staff with children of their own rarely joined them, but the young, unattached teachers usually took full advantage of the opportunity.

Except for Keith. 

Pidge had repeatedly made a point to invite him, but so far he’d never decided to come, much to Shiro’s disappointment.

The group had settled into a corner booth at Cliff’s, their regular watering hole. It was just down the street from the school, and while they ran the risk of running into a parent or two, it was early enough that it would be unlikely.

Allura was sitting next to him chatting to Sarah Martinez, a seventh grade teacher. From what he could gather, their conversation seemed to revolve around a yoga class Sarah had been taking that Allura might want to try. Having no interest in that discussion, Shiro caught Pidge’s eye across the table.

“Couldn’t convince Keith to come, huh?” he asked, trying to hide his displeasure.

It obviously didn’t work, because Pidge responded, “Nope. Sorry, Shiro. Maybe next time you should ask him!”

Shiro frowned. “I’m sure that would only make it less likely he’d come.”

“Why do you say that?” Shiro watched as Pidge’s eyebrows furrowed at his words.

“I don’t think he likes me very much,” he pouted.

Pidge gave him a blank half-lidded stare, slowly blinking her eyes as if he was a student in her class saying something so completely ignorant she couldn’t bring herself to respond with words.

“You’re a moron,” she finally replied, before purposefully turning away from him to talk to the person on her other side.

Ignoring her rudeness, Shiro spent a few minutes nursing his drink and making small talk with some other staff he rarely saw during the work day. Eventually, he needed to excuse himself to make a run to the restroom.

On his way back to the table, Shiro noticed a familiar head of dark hair and was shocked to find Keith at another booth. He was sitting with a man Shiro didn’t recognize, talking and laughing, much more relaxed than Shiro had ever seen him at school. The two drinks he’d had were just enough to convince Shiro it would be rude not to interrupt and say hello.

“Hey, Keith,” Shiro said with a little wave as he approached the table with a smile. “Fancy meeting you here.”

The laugh died in Keith’s throat as his eyes landed on Shiro, widening like he’d seen a ghost. 

“Oh! Um… hey… “ Keith sputtered. For a few seconds he silently stared at Shiro, who hadn’t expected such a bad reaction and found himself at a complete loss for how to respond.

The other man looked curiously at Keith before turning to Shiro with a smile, hand outstretched. “Hi! I’m Lance. If I wait for Keith to make introductions, we’ll be here all night.”

“Shiro. Keith and I work together,” Shiro said as he shakes Lance’s hand.

“Oh! You’re a teacher, too?” Lance asked, being friendly and making conversation while surreptitiously glancing at Keith who sat in silence across the table.

“Yeah,” Shiro answered.

“I don’t envy you guys,” said Lance, leaning back in his seat. “Everybody thinks teaching is an easy job, but dealing with kids can be brutal. And I swear I don’t know how you keep up with the paperwork! Keith is up really late sometimes grading papers. I would hate taking all that work home with me.”

“Oh?” Shiro managed to respond while his brain processed the possible type of relationship the two men shared. 

“We live together,” said Keith, reading Shiro’s mind, as he finally joined the conversation.

Oh, crap, Shiro thought, his brain spinning into a mild state of panic. He has a boyfriend. That he LIVES with.

“Oh,” Shiro murmured aloud as his internal dreams about Keith all burst into flames. He forced himself out of his depressed stupor to add, “Well, I’ll let you guys get back to your food.”

He gestured to the plate of nachos the two men were obviously sharing, a pang of jealousy twisting in his stomach. He desperately needed another drink.

“Nice to meet you, dude,” Lance called as Shiro began to retreat from the couple.

“You too,” Shiro replied, turning to head back toward his own table where he hoped to curl into a ball with an entire bottle of alcohol.

He couldn’t shake the feeling the universe was out to get him. It was cruel to drop such a gorgeous, perfect man into his life, only to find that he was already in a committed relationship.

Just as he moved around the wall dividing the bar from the table service area, Shiro realized he should have asked Keith and his friend to join them. Keith knew most of the people there, and his boyfriend seemed nice enough. As much as it might pain him to see the two of them together, maybe spending time with Keith and Lance would help him move on from his crush. 

However when he turned back to make the suggestion, Shiro heard something that made him freeze in place, hidden behind the wall.

“That’s the guy? Your teenage dream? Ay dios mío - everything makes so much sense now,” Lance said with a chuckle.

“What are you talking about?” he heard Keith respond.

“Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. You totally have a type. He looks like every single guy you dated in college — plus the ones you didn’t date.” Based on the innuendo in his voice, Shiro swore he could hear Lance wiggling his eyebrows.

“He’s fucking hot,” Keith exclaimed, his voice sounding aggravated. Warmth bloomed in Shiro’s chest at the confession. His feet had become firmly rooted to the spot, barely keeping his internal squeal of joy contained. “What do you want from me?”

“You’re going after that right?” asked Lance. “He seems really nice. And the rest of him is crazy. I’m assuming you want to climb that tree.”

In an attempt to keep his legs from giving out from underneath him in shock, Shiro put a hand on the wall to steady himself. There was no way he could possibly get that lucky.

“I can’t. He’s not…” Keith sounded dejected. “I’m pretty sure he’s got a girlfriend.” 

Shiro’s brain went offline for a second. What the hell? Where did he get THAT idea?

“Aw, dude. That sucks.”

“Yeah. I can’t talk to him,” Keith said with a sigh. “Every time I look at him, I can’t help but remember how many times I jerked off imagining his gorgeous face in my head.”

He… WHAT?!?!?

Shiro was very glad they weren’t able to see him, because he was positive his eyes were bugging out of his head like a cartoon character.

“Gross, man,” Lance said, sounding completely disgusted. “Seriously, TMI.”

“Really? For as long as we’ve lived together? I wish I could say I didn’t know what you sound like when you come.”

“You like it,” Lance said smugly. “You’re just mad you never get to see my O face.”

“And if I ever do, I’ll fucking kill you,” Keith said angrily. “Keep that shit behind closed doors.”

Ok, so that’s definitely not his boyfriend, thought Shiro. Realizing he’d already done way too much eavesdropping, he moved quickly away from the wall, practically running back to the table by the bar where the others were waiting.

His brain was spinning, trying to make sense of the information he’d overheard. Lance thought he looked like other people Keith had dated, as if that was significant. And what did he mean about “teenage dream”? He almost acted like Keith had known Shiro in the past.

But that wasn’t even possible.

Nothing he’d overheard made any sense.

Still, he couldn’t help but smile to himself at the knowledge he had picked up. Keith obviously found him physically attractive, a feat he wouldn’t have believed possible. The idea that someone like Keith would want him made him a little giddy. 

Yet he thought Shiro was dating someone. Who would that even be? he wondered.

Allura’s voice interrupted his internal musings as he settled back into his seat. “What are you smiling about to yourself over there?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“Liar,” she smirked. “You look smug. Did you run into someone? The waiter’s been eyeing you. Did he ask for your number?”

“What?” Shiro sputtered, thrown from his previous train of thought by Allura’s speculations. “No!”

“Well, something is up,” she replied with a knowing look.

“Fine!” Shiro huffed, well aware Allura would be tenacious until she got an answer from him. “Keith’s here.”

Allura looked at him in surprise for a moment before sitting up taller in her seat, peering around trying to see if she could glimpse him in the crowded bar. “Really? Where? Why didn’t he come sit with us?” 

“He’s with a friend,” Shiro explained. “At first I thought maybe they were… together, but I’m fairly sure they aren’t.”

“Are you sure?” Allura asked.

“Oh, no. Keith’s single,” Pidge suddenly piped in, giving Shiro a curious look. “Very single. I was surprised you weren’t interested in him, actually.”

“What?”

“He’s great. I really like him,” Pidge continued. Shiro couldn’t shake the feeling she sounded like a used car salesperson. “Why don’t you like him?”

Me?” Shiro said, his voice coming out in much more of a whine than he was proud of. “I do like him. I mean, you know… he seems nice. As a teacher — person.”

“But you don’t want to ask him out?” Pidge pressed. She was extremely interested in the topic, to the point she seemed invested in the outcome. It was very unlike Pidge, who barely cared about her own social life, let alone those of other people.

“No! I mean,” Shiro paused, swallowing hard to regain some equilibrium. He wasn’t used to getting the full court press from Pidge of all people. “I probably would. Maybe. But he’s been pretty clear he doesn’t like me.”

“What?!” Pidge stared, her mouth hanging open like a baby bird waiting in a nest. “No. Seriously. What?”

Shiro sighed. “Every time I try to talk to him, he either avoids me or runs away. I was hoping you might have some insight into what I’ve done to offend him.”

Pidge seemed to be processing a problem with no solution, her response forming into a kind of brainstormed word vomit. ”No. I don’t… But why? That doesn’t make any sense. I don’t… But he… No —”

“Pidge, it’s fine,” Allura interrupted, bringing a thankful stop to her rambling. “I’m sure Shiro will be able to work things out with him soon.”

Considering what he had overheard, Shiro wondered if Keith was keeping his distance because he was interested. He obviously thought Shiro was straight — and in a relationship. That was an assumption that definitely needed to be corrected as soon as possible. Shiro just wasn’t sure how to even bring something like that up. It’s not like sexual preference was a hot topic of conversation over lunch in the teacher’s lounge.

He would have to hope an opportunity presented itself to clear up the misunderstanding, and if he was lucky, Keith would be willing to give him a chance once he knew Shiro was interested, too.

Chapter Text

It hadn’t taken very long into his teaching career for Keith to recognize one of the most tedious and unenjoyable requirements of the job were faculty meetings. So often it seemed most of the information shared could have just been sent in an email.

He liked Coran, he really did. The man was an excellent principal, possessing a rare combination of wisdom, showmanship and a willingness to jump into things with both feet that worked well for an administrator. Coran was also very no nonsense when the situation called for it and wasn’t afraid to dish out discipline if the student deserved it.

But holy shit, could the man make Keith tired.

His seemingly limitless energy was a lot to take, particularly after a long day of dealing with middle school students, who were already exhausting enough all by themselves. After covering a variety of unimportant topics (for Keith at least), Coran moved on to something Keith cared even less about: the winter dance.

“I’ve decided that this year, students will not be allowed to attend with dates,” Coran said, after giving them the details on the time and day of the yearly event, “in an effort to avoid any issues for our LGBT students. It will also help to avoid upsetting parents on both sides of the issue.”

It was pretty easy to infer Coran’s decision was more about his desire to avoid angry phone calls from parents than anything else.

Given his personal strong feelings about the topic, Keith would usually have been very outspoken on the issue, but as a new teacher he worried about keeping his job. If being gay was an issue in the community, and it sounded like it might be, he didn’t want to put himself in a bad position.

At the same time, it wasn’t about him. It was about the students, and they should be allowed to be themselves. Just as he opened his mouth to present what was quite possibly an unwanted opinion, Shiro interrupted the meeting.

“Excuse me, Coran,” Shiro said calmly, his frown and stormy eyes betraying inner turmoil. “But why are we having a dance at all?”

“Why, my dear boy, we’ve always had a Winter Dance!” Coran answered.

“Yes, and we’ve always allowed the students to come as a couple if they wanted to,” Shiro remarked sternly.

“Yes,” Coran said, a hint of nervousness creeping into his voice as he twisted his orange mustache. “But last year --”

“Last year,” Shiro interrupted, the depth of his voice betraying the anger simmering underneath his controlled exterior, “we just happened to have two eighth grade girls that wanted to come together. Which we allowed.”

“Of course!” Coran defended. “But their parents --”

“Their parents should’ve had no part of it!” Shiro’s voice rumbled like a thunderstorm. “The students should be allowed to be themselves. And yes, perhaps they are still figuring that out, but understanding sexuality is part of growing up. We are here to help them navigate into maturity. If we can’t give them a safe space to explore who they are, without their parents putting their own expectations on them, what kind of school are we?”

There was no doubt in Keith’s mind that the situation had struck a nerve for Shiro. He was much more passionate about the topic than Keith would have expected. In fact, he seemed to be taking the whole thing personally

But that didn’t make any sense.

Still, Keith couldn’t help but appreciate the older man speaking up for the students and the ardent way he was doing it.

“Shiro, of course, I recognize you have strong feelings on the subject,” Coran said, leaving Keith even more puzzled.

“Well, somebody has to speak up for the students who may not fit the hetero-normative mold,” Shiro growled, glaring at Keith with a raised eyebrow.

Wait, was he looking for backup on this? Keith thought. The urge to face-palm at the irony was immense. Ah, fuck it.

Keith had never been ashamed of who he was, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to start now.

“I don’t think it’s our place to try to control who kids are or prevent them from finding that out,” Keith spoke up, tentatively at first but the reassuring gaze from Shiro spurred him on. “I didn’t know I was gay until high school, but I know people who had it all figured out when they were like, ten. We should let the kids do their own thing. If the parents don’t like it, let them deal with that at home.”

Keith suddenly wondered if he would have figured out his sexuality sooner had Shiro been his teacher during middle school. He couldn’t imagine Shiro not being a hair trigger for any young boy’s gay awakening.

The man was perfect and should really have to wear a goddamn warning label.

“Exactly!” Shiro agreed. Keith’s support seemed to have calmed him, and he sounded less angry and more enthusiastic. “We provide a safe space. Isn’t that something we’re always talking about at these meetings?”

Before Coran had a chance to reply, Allura interceded. “Coran, if I might make a suggestion? As we have discussed in previous trainings, LGBT students are at a higher risk for harming themselves — particularly if they are not supported. While we can not control the parents reaction, we can certainly be, as Shiro suggested, a safe space. And I am more than willing to meet with any families to provide counseling and discussion sessions should they have concerns about their children’s behavior. Should they arise, you can refer any of those issues directly to me, if you’d like.”

The way she took every argument right out of Coran’s hands was impressive, convincing Keith that Allura was not someone to be trifled with. Having the prowess to verbally knock someone off their feet while simultaneously persuading them to like it wasn’t a skill Keith ever expected to be able to develop. But the benefit of having someone like Allura in your corner to provide those skills was undeniable.

Luckily, the dance was the last item on the agenda, and the meeting was quickly wrapped up. Coran reminded them about the next day being a “Casual Friday”, as if being allowed to wear jeans to school somehow made up for giving up an hour of their unpaid time on Thursday afternoon, and wished them a good evening before whisking out the door.

As Keith gathered his things, Pidge got up from where she’d been sitting next to him and slid over to Shiro, who’d been chatting with Allura at the next table.

“It’s not all about you, you know,” she joked, reaching over as she approached to pat Shiro on the shoulder.

Curiosity piqued, Keith moved closer to them and stood awkwardly near Pidge.

“Sorry. I just… I don’t want to see any kid go through the same things that I had to deal with,” Shiro replied with a determined frown.

Keith’s brain was busy doing the math, but two and two kept equalling twelve. The entire discussion of the last few minutes, and Shiro’s part in it, were not lining up with what he thought he knew.

Noticing Keith’s puzzled look, Shiro explained, “I was raised by my grandfather, who was extremely… traditional. He put me into a box and expected me to stay there. And for the most part, I did. Responsible student, rule follower, overachiever — that’s all me. But I realized in college I was never going to be able to be happy trying to date women. When my grandfather passed away, sadly that made my life a lot easier.”

A beat of silence followed his confession, while Keith tried to process Shiro’s words.

“What?!” He finally cried in disbelief as his brain imploded within his skull.

Holyfuckinghell. His mind could not process the unexpected information. Keith.exe had been deleted and the operating system left the building. Hell, the whole PC had up and walked off of its own accord.

“Thanks for helping me out, by the way,” Shiro said, giving Keith a soft, grateful look. “It’s nice not having to be the only one representing when it comes to issues like this.”

Keith just stared at him blankly, mouth hanging open as he waited for the language center of his brain to boot up again. “Wait... But I thought…” he blurted, looking between Allura and Shiro. “Aren’t you two together?”

They both looked at Keith for a moment with wide eyes, then glanced at each other and burst out laughing. Pidge joined in, the condescension in her gaze implying he might not be smart enough to even work there. Shiro had tears in his eyes, and Keith was sure his booming laugh was probably echoing through the building.

Keith hoped he’d get to hear it again at some point without the catalyst being his own stupidity.

A heated blush rushed over his face as they laughed at him, and Allura chuckled to Shiro, “Do we really spend that much time together?”

“Yeah,” Pidge and Keith answered in unison, making Shiro laugh even more.

“I’m sorry we’ve confused you, Keith,” Allura said fondly, “but I’m afraid you’re much more Shiro’s type than I am!”

Shiro’s laugh morphed into something like a strangled wheezing as he gave her a look Keith couldn’t decipher. If Allura was trying to play wing woman for something Shiro had no interest in, the last thing Keith wanted was to stick around for it. He could deal with rejection, but listening to Shiro say Keith wasn’t his type while an audience watched wasn’t his idea of a good time.

“Um, it’s fine. Sorry,” Keith said quickly. He shuffled the papers in his hands, grasping for an excuse to make a hasty escape. “I’ve, uh… got grading to get done, so I’ll see you guys later?”

He bolted for the door without waiting for a reply, completely missing the look exchanged between the three other teachers and the devastated expression on Shiro’s face.

 

*****

Keith had never been so scared in his entire life.

The perfect man had been dropped into his life, and he just knew he was somehow going to screw up whatever opportunity he might have to get involved with him.

If he had been asked to make a wish list of his perfect partner, Shiro would check every freaking box. From the way he interacted with the students and other staff, Keith saw every day how kind he was. Every time they interacted, Shiro had gone out of his way to be helpful and friendly to Keith. 

And then there was the fact that he looked like a freaking god.

In college, he’d once done an assignment where they’d been asked to draw their perfect partner. He was sure the drawing was still floating around in his storage trunk somewhere. If he pulled it out, Keith knew that drawing looked a lot like Shiro, which made sense considering his high school experience with the man. But now, Shiro had features Keith hadn’t even dreamed he would find appealing. He worked out, and damn did it show. And then there was his adorable white floof of hair which would appear ridiculous on any other mere mortal. Keith also found his metal arm sexy as hell, which should be incomprehensible — but he blamed his love of Marvel movies for that one.

All the data pointed to the fact that Shiro was even MORE perfect than his ideal man.

And while it was true that just because he also happened to be into guys didn’t mean Shiro was automatically going to have an interest in him, it definitely helped close the gap.

Keith had a shot. The only problem: he was sure, somehow, it was just a disaster waiting to happen.

If he asked him out, Shiro was bound to say no. And if they did go out, wasn’t dating a coworker a bad idea? What about when they broke up? When Shiro eventually figured out he could do much better than Keith? They would still have to work together. Or one of them would have to find a new job. It was bound to be either horrible or horribly awkward.

It was a bad idea to even attempt it. 

And yet...

How could he not even try to go after a guy like that? Even when it all inevitably blew up in his face, it would be a hell of a good time while it lasted. Just to get to sleep with Shiro even once would be worth all the trouble. The thought of all those muscles he kept hidden under polo shirts and how they would feel under his hands had kept him awake at night for months, haunted by fantasies of how that strength could hold him up while he split Keith open with what was sure to be a very generous endowment.

The universe wouldn’t be cruel enough to create someone like Takashi Shirogane and not give him a package that matched the rest.

Or, holy hell, what if he wanted Keith to take him?

“Fuck,” Keith breathed out as he landed a particularly hard punch to the bag in front of him. He’d gone to the gym to work out his frustrations, only to work himself half hard by perseverating over them. Great job, genius.

It would help immensely if his frustrations weren’t over six foot tall and built like a brick wall he wanted desperately to climb.

Maybe instead of the heavy bag, I should have tried the climbing wall, Keith thought. He quickly reconsidered — with the way things were going he’d probably just have ended up humping the wall.

If he didn’t do something about his Shiro problem soon, Keith feared he was going to get kicked out of the gym he’d just joined. And he’d rather be crushed into dust by a humiliating rejection from an incredibly hot man than risk getting dragged back to his roommate’s “athletic club”. 

He’d gladly welcome death first. There was no doubt in his mind that hell was preferable to setting foot in a Zumba class with Lance ever again.

 

******

The students had just filed out after the last bell when Pidge peeked her honey-blond head into Keith’s classroom a couple of days later. For the last two hours, he’d been trying to get up the nerve to visit Shiro’s room after school, but his courage had fled along with the students and was currently cowering somewhere in a corner. 

“Can I ask a favor?” Pidge said, coming in to lean against the doorway.

If the other science teacher needed something that required him to postpone his discussion with Shiro for another day, who was he to say no?

Keith glanced over his shoulder from where he was erasing the whiteboard, hiding a grin at the very welcome distraction. “Sure, I guess?”

“I’m changing out my bulletin board and the decorations I need are in the supply closet,” Pidge explained.

“Ok,” Keith said as he set down the eraser and walked toward her. “Are they super heavy or something?”

“NO,” she bit back, eyes narrowed and arms crossed in aggravation. “I don’t need a man to carry things for me.”

“Sorry,” Keith replied with a smile, holding his hands up in surrender. “I wasn’t implying anything, just asking what you needed me for.”

She deflated a little and muttered, “They’re up on the high shelf. I can’t reach the box.”

“Oh,” Keith said as he came toward her. “It’s no problem. I can grab it for you.”

His neck craned down to meet her eyes. He’d never paid attention to just how short Pidge was. He wondered if it was strange for her to be on the same eye-level with eleven-year-old children. It must have made discipline in the classroom more difficult for her, not having the size advantage to provide a little automatic intimidation.

As it was, he’d worked with Pidge long enough now to know she could be very daunting despite her stature.

She pulled her phone out of her pocket as they walked together down the hallway in silence.

“Sorry,” she said, stowing her phone. “Just had to send a quick reply.”

As they turned a corner, Keith saw Allura dashing in the opposite direction. She threw them a wave when she noticed them, but didn’t stop to chat. It was strange, because Allura always seemed to take time to stop and at least say hello.

She must have a meeting or something to get to, Keith thought.

Pidge stopped in front of an unmarked door. “It’s in there. Top shelf, toward the back. Should be labeled ‘winter decorations’.”

Keith nodded and opened the door. The single lightbulb was already on, but it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim light. He wasn’t prepared for the tiny room to be occupied and was startled twice when, in symphony, the other person gasped in surprise and the door slammed closed behind him.

Shiro was standing, wide-eyed, at the back of the closet by the tall shelving. “Keith? What are you doing here?”

In an attempt to find his voice, Keith swallowed. “Pidge asked me to get something for her from one of the high shelves.”

“That’s funny,” Shiro said as he moved toward the door, “Allura asked for my help with the same thing. I’ve been here for five minutes, though, and I can’t seem to find any of the decorations she needs.”

“Are you sure?” Keith asked, pulling himself up on his tiptoes to peer at the boxes on the top shelf. “Pidge said they were toward the back…”

Shiro gave a short cough from somewhere behind him. “You’re welcome to explore, but I think I’m going to claim defeat.”

As Keith tried shifting a box to peer behind it, he heard a rattle at the door followed by an exasperated “What the hell?” from Shiro.

“What’s wrong?” asked Keith, turning around to see Shiro pulling at the door with both hands.

“We’re locked in!” Shiro huffed.

“What?!” Keith was at the door in two long strides. Shiro moved away and let Keith try the door, to no avail. “What the fuck?”

Keith banged on the door with his fist, hoping that someone might hear them. It was bad enough being alone in any room with Shiro, but it felt like the man’s firm body filled up the entire closet and the walls were closing in. Too much time in such a tight space and Keith wasn’t sure he could be held responsible for his actions.

“I thought I would just text Allura to let us out, but I can’t get a signal in here. Can you?” Shiro asked, putting his phone back in his pocket.

Keith pulled out his phone. “Damn. No signal either.”

“Do you think…” Shiro looked around the small room then stared at the door for a moment. “Do you think this was a set up?”

“What? Why would you think that?” Keith exclaimed. Claustrophobia had never been an issue for him, but being trapped in such a small space with this particular coworker was making his eyeballs sweat. There was no way to get more than a few feet away from all the gloriousness that was Shiro, and nothing else in the room was interesting enough to pull his attention away from the man.

Shiro let out a shaky breath. “Because it seems odd that both women asked us to do the same thing at the same time on the same day. Don’t you think?”

“Huh.” Now that Keith thought about it like that, it did seem strange. “Yeah, but… You know them better than I do. Would they do something like this?”

Shiro chuckled humorlessly, “Oh, yes!”

“But why?” Keith questioned. His gaze was drawn like a magnet to gunmetal eyes, appearing bronze in the dim light, and the smell of Shiro’s cologne was making Keith giddy . Never in his life had Keith been attracted to the way a guy smelled before. His cologne must have been made from endangered baby seal musk or a specially formulated aphrodisiac or something. It was both delicious and hot and soon Keith was going to do something incredibly stupid like press his face into Shiro’s stupid smooth neck or bite his stupid Adam’s apple or… 

“I’m sorry,” blurted Shiro, blessedly disrupting Keith’s inappropriate train of thought.

“Why are you sorry?” asked Keith, trying to shake himself out of his horny delirium.

Dropping his gaze from Keith, Shiro looked down at the floor and said quietly, “For whatever it is I did to put you off. I’ve obviously offended you somehow…” 

“No… What makes you say that?” Keith corrected him. Shiro looked so mournful at the idea he’d done something wrong, and Keith couldn’t stand for him to feel guilty.

It wasn’t Shiro’s fault that Keith had been, and quite honestly continued to be, thirsty as hell for the man. Or that Keith was for some reason awkward as all hell when it came to Shiro — and couldn’t bring himself to act like a functioning adult in his presence.

“Because you’ve been avoiding me for months,” Shiro explained sadly. “Is there some other reason you don’t like me?”

“What? No,” Keith said quickly. His hands flew up in protest. “It’s not that.”

“Oh,” Shiro said, a hint of dejection in his voice. “I thought maybe we had met somewhere before, and I’d been a horrible to you or something.”

Shit. He was so close to the mark. This was his opportunity to say something about their shared history — if Keith didn’t bring it up now, things would only be more awkward if Shiro found out about it later.

And Keith wouldn’t put it past Lance to find a way to discuss it if he ever ran into Shiro somewhere around town. Finding ways to embarrass Keith was one of his best friend’s favorite pastimes, after all.

He dug deep, trying to find enough courage to get him through what was sure to be an embarrassing conversation.

With a breath to fortify himself, he asked, “You really don’t remember me, do you?”

“No?” Shiro replied, his voice rising in confusion. “Should I?”

“I’m not sure how to…” Keith trailed off, trying to figure out a way to get Shiro to make the connection on his own. “OK. Where did you go to college?”

Already assuming the answer, Keith crossed his arms in preparation, watching Shiro’s brows crinkle together in confusion. “Arlag College. Why?”

“I lived in Texas for a while growing up.”

Shiro was clearly still bewildered. “Oooo-kay,” he drawled.

“Where did you do your student teaching?”

“At the local high school,” Shiro said slowly, still unsure where the path of the conversation was leading. “In Dybusall. It was easier to just stay there to finish and graduate…”

“Dybusall, Texas,” Keith said in a flat monotone. “Where I went to high school.”

Please, please don’t make me say it, Keith internally begged.

He stood perfectly still, waiting for Shiro to make the connection, afraid any movement might spook him.

After a few seconds of silence, Shiro finally responded. “You went to high school… where I was teaching?”

Keith nodded. He could almost see Shiro running the numbers in his head, and his eyes widen as soon as the realization hit him. 

“Holy shit! Were you one of my students?!” Shiro cried, his face a combination of disbelief, shock and disgust.

If he hadn’t been so incredibly handsome, it would have been a really bad look.

“Yeah,” Keith said with a soft sigh. He looked at the older man carefully from under the shadow of his bangs. “Weird, huh?”

Shiro stared at him for a few seconds, still processing the information. “No! I mean… ok, yes. That’s weird. Crap, I am old…”

Keith couldn’t help the laugh that escaped at Shiro’s expense. Of all the reactions, he hadn’t expected the man to be insulted. “It’s not that bad, old timer. It’s only been five years.”

“How old are you?” Shiro asked, his tone strangely suspicious.

“Twenty-four,” Keith chuckled. “Why? Are you like forty?”

“Oh, god no,” Shiro answered quickly, then let out a short laugh. “Technically, I’m not even seven yet.”

Keith blinked.

 “What?” He stuttered.

“My birthday is on leap day,” Shiro explained with a small smile and a shrug. “Technically, it only comes every four years.”

“Ah,” Keith hummed, smirking. “Clever.”

“I try,” Shiro said, more relaxed as he leaned back against the shelving behind him. “So, you were my student. I knew you looked familiar, but I never would have guessed that, especially considering I went to college in a completely different state. I mean, what are the odds?”

Keith couldn’t agree more. The fact that the universe had somehow thrown them back together was so improbable it was mind-blowing. “I know, right?!” he agreed.

“Is that what made you so uncomfortable around me? That I had been, kind of, your teacher once?”

“Um… “ Keith could feel the flush working its way up toward his face. He put a hand nervously against the back of his neck, as if he could somehow control the embarrassed blush by rubbing at it. His voice came out much too high and squeaky when he answered, “Not exactly?”

The wrinkle was back between Shiro’s brows as he worked through his confusion. “I don’t get it, then. I mean, I can see where it would be really awkward for you. It’s awkward for me, knowing you were my student once. But, I guess, if you do this job long enough, that’s bound to happen, right? It’s not that big of a deal, really --”

Keith couldn’t take it anymore. He halted Shiro’s rambling, determined to put his past with the man completely into the open so he could just move on from it in peace.

In a desperate attempt to get it over with, he blurted, “You made me gay!”

Shiro stared at him in stunned silence, mouth hanging open.

“Shit, I mean, you didn’t make me,” Keith corrected quickly. “Fuck, this is so embarrassing.”

Keith took off his glasses, running a hand down his face. Shiro’s eyes hadn’t left him, waiting patiently for Keith to explain himself. Unfortunately, explaining his awkward history was the last thing Keith really wanted to do.

“I didn’t date in high school. I didn’t really have an interest in anybody. One of my friends even thought I was an alien, because I didn’t like anyone,” Keith chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. He looked down at the floor, unable to meet Shiro’s eyes. “Until you showed up. Then I figured out pretty quickly there was at least ONE person in the world I was interested in. God, I had the biggest crush on you.”

Keith finally looked up at the taller man, peeking at him shyly from under his lashes. Shiro held a fist to his chest, like he was trying to keep his heart from breaking out of it. A blush ran across his cheeks, making the scar on his face stand out pale along the bridge of his nose. A shy smile bloomed on his face.

“Really?” he asked softly, sounding as if he’d been surprised by the most amazing gift.

Realizing he’d been fiddling with the glasses in his hand, Keith put them back on and nodded in reply. Shiro let out a huff of breath as he stared at Keith, taking a step closer to him as if pulled by a string.

“That seems fitting,” Shiro said quietly, his voice a deep purr as he took another step closer to Keith. “Because I’ve had a huge crush on you since you got here.”

Keith sucked in a breath and held it, hoping the oxygen would keep him from falling over. Shiro was so close now, he could reach out and touch him. And god, did he want to touch him. “What? No… "

“Yes,” Shiro breathed, moving closer again and reaching out slowly to place his left hand gently on Keith’s hip. There were only inches between them. Keith felt the heat emanating from Shiro’s body through his thin shirt, and he burned where a large hand grabbed at his hip. Shiro whispered, “Is this ok?”

Keith settled a hand on Shiro’s stomach, trying to find something solid to hold on to as his brain spun and he searched for words that wouldn’t come. He felt the ridges of muscle flex under his hand, and couldn’t help but run his hand up Shiro’s defined abs and onto his sternum.

His whole body burned, lit up with flames from the inside as desire shot through him, settling low in his stomach. “ God.” Keith wasn’t sure if it was a whispered moan or a description of the man against him, but damn if it even mattered.

The need to get closer overpowered him. It didn’t matter how they knew each other in the past, that they worked together or that they were in a supply closet at work. Keith’s hand moved up to the back of Shiro’s neck, pulling him down as Keith surged up to catch his lips with his own.

Lightning shot down his spine, stoking the flames as they moved, shifting to fit their mouths together. Shiro moaned, pressing tightly against the front of him, spurring Keith’s tongue to invade his mouth the second Shiro’s lips parted.

The sensation of a metal hand cupping the cheek of his ass, pulling Keith firmly against the warm, solid body in front of him made him gasp. He could feel Shiro’s thick hardness pressing against his own, and a loud groan escaped his lips before he pushed even closer, as if trying to meld them into one person. Forgetting his own strength, Keith forced Shiro back roughly against the shelving, causing a few things to topple off and onto the floor. His mouth latched onto the corded muscle on the side of Shiro’s neck, nipping and sucking, feeling high from the sounds the man under him was making.

The clattering of more materials falling off the shelves as Shiro squirmed against them seemed to jolt the taller man out of his lust-filled haze.

“Keith,” he said breathlessly, sounding like he’d run a marathon. “ Keith… Ungh… We should… "

Keith’s brain, however, had only one track and was still speeding along it with purpose. “Yes,” he moaned, “God, yes… we should… "

“No! I mean,” Shiro gasped as Keith ran his tongue and lips along his collarbone. “ Fuck … Yes, but… Keith, we’re at school…"

For whatever reason, that succeeded in getting his attention, pulling Keith sharply back to reality. He pulled away and moved back, hands settled at Shiro’s waist, unwilling to give up touching him completely. He looked up at Shiro, noting the way his bleached bangs were mussed where Keith had gripped them with his hands at some point and his polo shirt was wrinkled from the same treatment. The flush on Shiro’s face matched his kiss-swollen lips, and there was a pink mark along the base of his neck that, Keith hoped, wouldn’t bruise.

He looked a delicious wreck.

Unable to contain the grin spread over his face, Keith crowed internally while pressing his lips to Shiro’s once more, softer this time, slow and gentle. He did that. He put that expression on Shiro’s face, like he had a million things he wanted to do to Keith but wasn’t sure which to do first.

If his eighteen-year-old self could see them now, he’d probably die from sheer joy. As it was, Keith’s present self was pretty damn close. He felt like he’d just jumped out of a plane and landed on a planet where all of his wishes came true.

“Maybe we should…" Shiro started.

“Slow down?” Keith finished, eyes squinting in embarrassment.

“I was going to say not do this in the supply closet,” Shiro chuckled with a grin, rubbing his thumb along Keith’s ribs in a soothing stroke, “but I’m good with whatever you want.”

“You’re right. We should get out of the closet,” Keith said. At Shiro’s inelegant snort, it took him a moment to realize what he found so funny. “Oh God, seriously?”

Shiro shrugged, a grin still plastered on his face. “I’m a ‘punny’ guy.”

“Seriously,” Keith said with a bright smile. “Keep it up and I’m going to regret making out with you.”

It was an empty threat — Keith had found it funny, too, but it was so corny he’d never admit to it. Besides, he doubted there was much Shiro could do at this point to hamper Keith’s attraction to him.

As good as Shiro was with his mouth, he couldn’t wait to see what he’d be able to do with other things. Keith was more than willing to listen to any number of stupid jokes to find out.

“I’ll make sure you don’t,” Shiro said, leaning for one more languid kiss. “We should clean up in here before we try to break down the door.”

Keith looked around at the mess of items scattered on the floor. “Um, yeah… "

They quickly picked up the items scattered on the floor, working together to right things on the shelves and ensure the next person to walk in didn’t think a bomb had gone off inside. When they finished, Keith tried the door, finding it unlocked.

“Nice of them to finally let us out,” Shiro said sarcastically.

“Was it really so bad getting stuck in here with me?” Keith asked, one eyebrow lifted in challenge. He got what he wanted in Shiro’s answering blush, so he turned away to peek his head out the door.

The immediate vicinity looked clear as they exited the tiny room, but the snap of the door shutting behind them got the attention of Pidge and Allura, who had apparently been chatting further down the hallway.

“Well, shit,” Keith muttered as the two women turned to stare at them both, mirroring each other with arms crossed and bright, self-satisfied smiles.

The men slowly made their way down the silent hallway to their friends, trying not to look guilty and failing miserably.

“So, boys,” Allura said, her voice a tad higher in the way she usually talked to small children brought into her office to sort out a disagreement, “Did we work out our issues?”

Pidge snickered loudly. “They look like they worked over something.”

“Each other!” Allura giggled.

Allura,” Shiro groaned, looking away in embarrassment.

“Oh, please Shiro,” Pidge snarked. “You should be thanking us. The two of you never would have gotten your shit together without an intervention.”

“Is that why you’re still standing here? To gloat?” Keith asked, his good mood starting to sour. He appreciated their tactics — and especially that it worked — but that didn’t mean he wanted to catch hell about it.

“Again, we were doing you a favor,” Pidge explained with a conceited smirk. “We had been keeping tabs on you, but we unlocked the door and moved down the hall when the noise started.”

Shiro and Keith both glanced away from her pointed look. 

“We figured there was a chance you might be murdering each other,” Allura continued with a smile, “but knowing you both as well as we do, we assumed it was more likely the opposite. We stood guard at a safe distance to prevent anyone from walking in. We didn’t believe you would appreciate an unexpected audience.”

She winked at them, and Keith began to wonder if it was worth getting involved with Shiro to deal with the amount of torment the two women were going to give them for the foreseeable future. He felt a warm hand take hold of his and looked up into pale slate eyes shining at him from a gorgeous face.

Nope, nevermind. Totally worth it, he thought as Shiro gave him a soft smile.

“Thanks, Allura,” Shiro said, barely glancing at her, not willing to take his eyes off Keith. Allura’s hum in response and Pidge’s tut of disapproval caused his line of sight to shift like lightning over to her. “And you too, Pidge!”

“Sure,” she said. Her poker-face may have shown no emotion, but Keith could tell by the way her eyes glittered that she was containing her delight. The way her gaze kept skittering to their joined hands gave her away completely.

Keith dropped Shiro’s hand quickly and crossed his arms. This — whatever it was — between them was new and raw, and Keith was not at all comfortable having an audience for it.

“So,” Keith said, looking pointedly at Shiro and resisting the urge to reach out and touch him again in some way, to reassure himself he wasn’t dreaming. Keith missed his solid warmth under his fingers already. He’d never had a tendency to cling or be overly tactile with people he was involved with before and having to physically restrain himself from touching Shiro was disconcerting. “Do you maybe want to get dinner? Or… "

He trailed off, unsure where to go from there, having never found himself in a similar position. Every one of Keith’s other experiences had involved either getting physical and then leaving immediately after, usually never to be seen again, or going out on a date that either went somewhere or didn’t. Making out in a supply closet with someone he worked with was completely new territory.

They definitely needed to talk.

“Yeah!” Shiro’s face lit up and then dropped immediately as he glanced at his watch. “Shit. I can’t. I’ve got a session. Which I’m going to be late for if I don’t get going, actually.”

He looked so down about it, the pout on his face melted any impulse Keith might have had to believe it was just an excuse. “Session?” Keith asked.

“I’m a personal trainer at my gym,” Shiro answered quickly with a shrug. “Side gig. It’s just a few nights a week.”

Keith nodded, making a small humming noise of acknowledgement. “You should probably go.”

“Yeah, but…” Shiro looked torn, needing to go but afraid of leaving things between them awkward and unsure. His voice held a desperate air. “Dinner? Are you busy tomorrow?”

Keith took pity on him, calming him with a crooked smile. “Tomorrow’s good.”

“Good,” Shiro smiled, staring at Keith for a moment before glancing at his watch again. “Shit, I really need to go.”

“Ok, you know where to find me,” Keith chuckled. He looked around, expecting to see their coworkers, but at some point Allura and Pidge had disappeared like a puff of smoke.

Shiro turned to head toward his classroom, then spun on his heel after just a few steps. “Wait! Do you,” he swallowed, suddenly nervous again. “Can I get your number?”

“Oh, yeah!” Keith said quickly, reaching into his pocket to pull out his phone. “Here.”

Handing Shiro his unlocked phone, Keith took his in exchange and quickly opened the messages to send one to himself. They returned each other’s phones, and Shiro laid a hand on his shoulder. “We’ll talk later?”

“Yeah,” Keith said with a smile. “See ya.”

Shiro nodded and dropped his hand, turning to leave at a sprint down the hallway. 

Keith laughed out loud. He must have been really late for his session. He couldn’t resist shouting after him, “No running in the hallways, Mr. Shirogane!”

 

*****

Later that night, as Keith laid in bed trying not to overthink everything that happened earlier in the day, he was surprised to see his phone on the bedside table light up with a message. When he picked it up, the notification said “Takashi”, and it took his exhausted brain a second to realize who it was from. He hadn’t realized Shiro had gone to the trouble of making himself a contact in his phone.

The message was a simple “hi” with a smiley face emoji — because of course, Shiro would be the type of person who used emojis — and Keith ran a finger over the man’s name at the top of the screen.

It was completely surreal. He could remember doodling the name once in high school, just to see what “Takashi Shirogane” looked like in his handwriting.

He’d been such a hopeless sap.

He could have feigned sleep and ignored the message, but Keith knew he would feel guilty if he did. And thoughts of the man texting him were keeping him awake anyway, so there was no chance of making his sleeplessness worse.

He sent a short reply back.

Keith: Takashi, huh?

Takashi: That’s my name!

That’s not what people call you.

That’s what you can call me.

If you want.

 

Keith wasn’t sure at first how to process that, and it took him a minute to come up with a response containing the right balance of information-seeking and flirtation.

 

Does that mean I’m special?

Yes. 

VERY

Good to know :)

Good night, Takashi

Sweet dreams, Keith

Chapter Text

There were no less than six different shirts strewn across Shiro’s bed, and he was at a complete loss for what to do about it. He’d changed outfits three times already and still hadn’t settled on what he should wear on his date.

Unfortunately, he was running out of time to make a decision. His last glance at the clock indicated he had only ten minutes before Keith would arrive to pick him up.

Shiro bolted down the short hallway of the apartment in only his jeans, knocking on the open door to his friend’s room and peeking his head inside.

“Help!” he said, sounding pathetic and hoping his roommate would take pity on him.

Matt was laid out on his bed, engrossed in something on his phone. “What d’ya need, big guy?” he asked.

“Help?” he repeated, begging with his eyes and taking a step back with a nod toward the hall to indicate Matt should follow him.

Matt ran a hand through his dark blond hair, sitting up with a sigh. He pried himself off the bed and followed Shiro back to his room. Upon seeing the mess of clothes, he pointed to the dark pants Shiro was wearing and asked, “Are you sticking with the jeans?"

“Yeah,” Shiro answered. “We decided to keep it casual since we dress up for school every day.”

Matt rifled through the options on the bed, lifting up a blue henley and a maroon v-neck before settling on a dark grey button up. “Here, go with this,” he said, throwing the shirt at Shiro.

“It’s not too much?” Shiro asked, already slipping the shirt on and tucking it into his jeans.

“Just roll up the sleeves and leave some buttons open,” Matt answered with a roll of his eyes and a kind smile. “You’ll be fine. There’s nothing to be nervous about, you know.”

Shiro’s eyes softened at his best friend’s reassurance. “It’s been a while since I’ve done this…”

“You like him, he likes you,” Matt stated, reaching up to straighten Shiro’s collar. “You’ve already jumped each other in a closet, for God’s sake. It’s safe to say he’s pretty interested in you.”

Shiro blushed at Matt’s wide grin. “Yeah, but —”

Before he was able to finish his argument, there was a knock at their front door. His friend smiled like a cat that had swallowed a canary, dashing away toward the front room with a shout. “I’ll get it!”

Shiro made one last check in the mirror, fiddling with his bangs, before following closely on Matt’s heels.

“Hello!” Matt said after opening the door. “You must be Keith.”

He stuck out a hand in greeting, and Keith grabbed it to shake. “Yeah. You must be Matt,” Keith replied with a chuckle. “You look just like your sister.”

Matt huffed good-naturedly. “I’m not sure which of us should be more insulted by that.”

“Hey, Shiro,” Keith said with a smile, noticing his date hovering over Matt’s head. “You ready to go?”

Shiro couldn’t help but be impressed with his cool, easy demeanor. Keith looked completely unflustered and amazing, in a midnight blue shirt with some kind of sheen to it and his dark hair spilling around the top of his collar. The glasses he usually wore were missing, much to Shiro’s disappointment, but it did make the fascinating violet color of his eyes more visible. Meanwhile, Shiro’s palms were sweating and his stomach was half nauseous with the mix of nerves and adrenaline suddenly buzzing through his system.

“Now, now,” Matt said, his face schooled into a serious frown. “Before you can take out my boy, I need to know exactly what your intentions are.”

Before Shiro could even open his mouth to intervene in his friend’s ridiculous overprotective act, Keith looked over at Shiro, hooded eyes blatantly running up and down his body. A wicked grin broke across his face before he leaned in toward Matt like he was going to tell him a secret.

“I’m gonna rock his freaking world, if he’ll let me,” Keith said, his tone blatantly suggestive. Matt barked a laugh, keeling over in hysterics as Shiro honest to God swallowed his tongue. He coughed, face bright red with embarrassment as Keith grinned at him and Matt wiped away the tears his eyes.

“I like this one,” Matt said, still laughing. He gave a firm pat to Keith’s shoulder and moved out of the way to let Shiro through the door. “I approve. You boys have fun!”

As he hastily closed the door behind him, Shiro said, “Sorry about Matt. He’s harmless.”

He willed his face to return to a normal color as he followed Keith toward the building’s exit, noticing how the fabric of his shirt pulled against his strong shoulders and the way his black jeans gripped his ass… 

“He’s cool,” Keith said, looking over his shoulder as he opened the door, a smirk on his lips when Shiro’s eyes shot up to his own. Busted .

Deciding it was easier to just embrace being caught staring, Shiro pointed out, “You look really good, by the way.”

Keith stopped in his tracks right in front of the building, turning to face Shiro and smoothing a hand over his chest slowly. 

“You do, too,” he said, voice low and rough, causing Shiro’s stomach to fill with a delicious warmth. Bridging the gap between them, Keith leaned up and kissed him, slow and sweet, and Shiro couldn’t help chase him for another when he pulled away. “I’ve wanted to do that all day,” he whispered as they finally broke apart for air.

“Me, too,” Shiro said with a shy smile, rubbing a stray piece of soft dark hair between his thumb and index finger before tucking it gently behind Keith’s ear. His hand settled on Keith’s shoulder, reluctant to stop touching him.

“We should go,” Keith said quietly. He took a breath and stepped back, putting some much needed space between them. “Otherwise I’m going to be tempted to drag you back upstairs and follow through on what I promised your roommate.”

“That sounds much more tempting than dinner,” Shiro responded, trying to regain control of his body before he could give in to the exact same desire.

“God, Shiro,” said Keith as they made their way through the parking lot to his car. “Way to make it hard for a guy.”

“Sounds like a solid goal,” Shiro retorted cheekily over the roof of the vehicle.

A gravelly cackle answered him, and Shiro delighted in the way Keith’s eyes shone with laughter. “Save that for later,” Keith chuckled as he unlocked the doors and they slid into the worn seats of his car.

After suggesting a popular diner across town, Shiro periodically interrupted their lighthearted conversation during the ride with occasional directions. Although Keith had been living in the area for a few months, he was still getting used to finding his way around. Shiro made sure to point out a few other restaurants and entertainment venues along the way which Keith might want to check out some time.

He was hoping the evening would go well, and he would get a chance to take Keith to some of those places himself, hopefully in the near future.

Don’t get ahead of yourself, Takashi, he reminded himself. It was extremely difficult not to, though — something about Keith was like a magnet that just pulled him in. With every minute they spent together, Shiro became more helpless to fight it.

It didn’t take long for their chatting to turn to work-related topics. While Keith agreed it was fine in the car, they both resolved to try to keep away from “school talk” as much as possible.

Before long, they arrived at the diner where Keith was immediately taken with the casual atmosphere and cozy, high-backed seating. Shiro noticed he seemed to relax into his seat once they had settled into a booth.

“You like it?” Shiro asked, noticing Keith’s faint smile.

His dark eyes glittered in the fluorescent lighting. 

“Yeah. It reminds me of a place my pop used to take me when I was little,” Keith said wistfully.

He didn’t go on, and Shiro wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to pursue that particular path of conversation. He’d never heard Keith talk about his family before, and it was possible that was by choice. He debated whether to ask, not wanting to bring up a potentially sore subject so early in the evening.

He was saved from the decision with the appearance of their waiter, a pimple-faced young man who’s flat affect made it clear he wasn’t thrilled with his job and had no desire to try impressing them. Luckily, that also meant he would most likely avoid their table unless they needed something, leaving them plenty of time to themselves with few interruptions.

“So…” Shiro began, after they had gotten their drinks and placed their orders. “I’m not really sure how to do date talk with you. I mean, I already know a lot about you.”

“Yeah,” Keith agreed. “It’s weird dating a friend. Never done that before.”

His hands twisted at the wrapping paper from his straw, idly curving it into miscellaneous designs.

“Friend?” Shiro asked with an interested uplift of his eyebrow. Sure, they had worked together for a while now, so they knew each other, but that wasn’t the word he would have used. Then again, he sure as hell didn’t feel about any of his other work friends the way he felt about Keith.

“Sure? I mean…” Keith said, for the first time sounding less confident to Shiro’s ears. “We’ve been friendly, at work. Or… Well, you’ve been friendly. I guess I’ve been an asshole?”

“No, no. I wouldn’t say that,” Shiro replied quickly, reaching across the table to lay his palm over Keith’s hand. “Just… standoffish?”

“You can just say awkward and mortified,” Keith said with a sarcastic grin. He flipped his hand over, running his fingertips idly against Shiro’s digits.

It was completely ridiculous to be so turned on by the feel of Keith’s long fingers skating along his own. Still, it felt amazing.

“Ok, so I guess the standard questions like what you do and where you work are out,” Shiro laughed.

“And where you went to college,” Keith added helpfully.

“Well, I don’t know where you went,” Shiro admitted. “How did you end up in Arizona?”

“College,” Keith explained. “I grew up in foster care, so there was nothing really keeping me in Texas. I had a couple of friends in high school I was close to, but they were both leaving after graduation so I took the best offer I could get for scholarships and got the hell out, too.”

“Is that why you ended up staying once you got your degree?”

“Yeah, I got a job right after graduation in Tucson and already had an apartment there so it made sense,” Keith explained. “Then my buddy, Lance, talked me into moving up here. What about you? Did you grow up here?”

“Yeah,” Shiro admitted, looking down at the table. His history wasn’t something he usually had to unload on a first date, but then Keith wasn’t like anyone he’d ever met. Certainly not like the typical blind set-ups he’d had over the past couple of years. Whatever was going on between them already felt more real than anything he’d had in a long time.

He was saved from having to get into the details right away with the appearance of their waiter, bringing a tray loaded with two plates full of food. Once he was gone, Shiro watched as Keith dug into his cheeseburger, a guilty feeling in his gut telling him to come clean. It would be easier to get it all out in the open and see how Keith reacted than spend any more time worrying about it.

“I haven’t really… done this… in a while,” Shiro said nervously.

Putting down his burger to take a drink, Keith laughed, “Eating?”

“Dating,” answered Shiro. “Or at least, seriously.”

“Oh,” Keith replied, violet eyes gazing at him attentively.

“You know I went to college in Texas. You probably also noticed I don’t exactly look the same as I did years ago?” Shiro said. Keith acknowledged him with a nod. “I never had any plans on coming back to Arizona when I graduated. I dated a guy through most of my time in college. We actually got engaged the same day I got my teaching degree.”

Keith’s eyes widened in shock, but he stayed quiet, letting Shiro’s story unfold. “We were going to get married… but there was a car accident,” Shiro explained. He mindlessly fiddled with a french fry on his plate, avoiding Keith’s eyes. It was never an easy story to tell, but the looks of pity that often accompanied it only made it worse. “There was a drunk driver. He crossed into our lane and hit us almost head-on and Adam couldn’t swerve fast enough. I ended up with serious injuries, but Adam… my fiance… he died.”

“God, Shiro,” Keith whispered, the words sounding strained, as if they had escaped without his permission.

“So I came back home,” Shiro said, finally looking up at his date, whose dark eyes were shining with sympathy. It was a relief not to face the familiar reaction of pity, always present when he told this story. “I couldn’t work right away since I was adjusting to life with one arm, and I had to do rehab, so I stayed with my grandfather. He passed away a couple of years ago, not too long after I started working at Garrison.”

“Fucking hell,” breathed Keith after they’d sat in silence for a moment, staring at each other. “My pop passed away when I was in elementary school. Never knew my mom. Getting bounced around to different foster homes for most of my childhood usually wins me the prize for bringing the most baggage into a relationship, but I gotta say, Shiro, you might win this time.”

And just like that, Keith’s well-timed joke managed to break the serious pallor that had fallen over them, with Shiro laughing loudly enough to draw the attention of other patrons near them. His laughter came from relief, more than anything — not only was Keith not put off by his past, but he understood in a way most people couldn’t. That Keith would share such personal things about himself, simply to let Shiro know he wasn’t alone in having a painful history, said more about the type of man he was than anything else Shiro had come to learn about him.

He was falling. He could feel it, hard and fast, like he’d jumped out of a plane without a parachute. Yet instead of fear, when he looked into Keith’s violet eyes, all he felt was alive with breathless euphoria.

“Well, I do like to win,” Shiro admitted with a chuckle. He took a sip of his drink, looking at Keith shyly over the top of his glass. “So is that what this is? A relationship?”

Keith balked. “I didn’t mean —”

“Because I’m ok with that,” Shiro said quickly.

“I… yeah,” Keith admitted, a pretty blush blooming on his cheeks. “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I think you’re pretty great.”

Shiro gave an embarrassed grin at the heat rising into his own face. “I think you’re pretty great, too.”

Awkward silence filled the void between them, the bumpy exchange of feeling having left them both at a loss for how to fall back into their natural conversation. Shiro was happy they had their food, so he could use stuffing his mouth with fries as an excuse not to talk. Apparently, Keith felt the same, a shy smile on his lips.

It was not until the waiter came to ask if they needed another round of drinks that the conversation fell on hobbies and how they spent their time away from school. Shiro obviously knew Keith was into art, but he had no idea he also liked martial arts.

“Have you been practicing for a long time?” Shiro asked, leaning forward with interest.

“Just a few years, really,” Keith said. Shiro couldn’t help but find it amusing how Keith was making designs on his plate with what was left of his fries. “I took some self-defense classes in college, and I really liked it, so I kind of kept going from there.”

“Self defense?” Shiro queried, worry lacing his tone. He would have thought a kid growing up in the foster system would learn the hard way how to take care of himself. At times, Keith carried a “rough around the edges” aura around him like a protective cape.

“You may not remember, but I was a little scrawny thing in my youth,” Keith said with a small smile. “My first year in college, I got into a… bad situation with a guy a lot bigger than me, and I decided maybe as an adult being scrappy wasn’t always going to be enough.”

Shiro guessed there was more to the story, but reading between the lines, he didn’t want to pry. He hoped Keith’s story had a happier ending than others he had heard before, and that one day Keith would trust him enough to share it.

“So what style of martial arts do you do?” Shiro asked, gently steering the conversation to a more comfortable path.

“I’m most advanced at karate, since I started that first,” Keith answered. “But I really like capoeira, too. Before I left Tucson, the place I trained at started offering Krav Maga, so I’ve picked up a little of that, too.”

Shiro’s eyes widened and he sat back in his seat, impressed. “Wow… You are not someone to be messed with!”

Keith quirked an eyebrow, his mouth twisting into a knowing smirk. “I like to think I can take care of myself now. I mean, I could definitely throw you around.”

Something about Keith’s statement combined with his smoldering gaze sent a frisson of heat vaulting through his stomach, heading swiftly south. 

“Oh, really?” Shiro responded, with a voice that had pitched deeper seemingly of its own accord as he propped his elbows on the table and leaned over toward Keith. Damn, he hoped to test that theory at some point. 

Keith leaned forward to match him. 

“Any time you want, big guy,” he said, sounding in every way like an invitation. His blue-purple eyes sparkled with promise, and it took everything in Shiro not to flag down the waiter for their check and drag Keith back to his apartment immediately.

As much as a part of him thought that was an excellent idea, his head reminded him rushing into bed on the first date was a very bad idea. For a lot of different reasons, all of which involved his own hang-ups.

To avoid giving Keith the wrong idea about where their flirtation was leading, Shiro pointedly redirected the conversation.

“You know, I might give you a run for your money,” Shiro countered. “I’ve had a little karate training myself.”

“Yeah?” Keith said, surprised. “What belt are you?”

“Purple,” Shiro answered. “But I haven’t practiced since high school. I doubt I’m anywhere near that level now.”

“Nice!” Keith exclaimed, clearly impressed. “I’m just a green belt.”

“That’s still impressive,” Shiro said. 

Keith shrugged off the compliment. “It is what it is. I’ve never had a lot of time to focus on it, to be honest.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well, when I was in college, I got to take classes for free because I worked at the gym,” Keith explained. “I was pretty good at self-defense, so the guy that owned the gym offered to help me get certified to teach it and let me take karate with him. Eventually I started working with the younger kids just starting in karate, too. But between that and my classes, I didn’t have a lot of time to work on my own skills.”

“Is that what got you into teaching?” Shiro asked. It was always interesting for him to find out what attracted people to the field.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Keith admitted. “Never would have dreamed I’d become a teacher when I was young. I liked learning, but I tended to be the kid getting into trouble rather  than the teacher’s pet.”

“Often times people like that make the best teachers. You know what to watch out for, and you can relate to those kids that are acting up in class.” Shiro smiled, imagining Keith as a skinny little boy, causing trouble in a classroom. “You couldn’t have been too much of a troublemaker, at least in high school. I would have remembered you in that case!”

Keith laughed. “No, by the time I was a senior, I had settled down a lot. I got lucky and found a few friends who wouldn’t have tolerated that behavior. They helped me out a lot more than they probably ever realized.” He paused, giving Shiro a thoughtful look. “So which kind of student were you? Hellraiser or golden boy?”

Shiro couldn’t help his wide grin. Shyly, he admitted, “A little bit of both?”

Dark brows pulled together and his nose scrunched adorably as Keith looked at him with confusion. “How did you manage that?”

“Cleverness and subterfuge,” Shiro chuckled. “I was kind of a little shit, to be honest. But I rarely got caught. And I did well in school, usually top of my class, so when I did get busted I never seemed to get in too much trouble.”

“Oh, please,” Keith scoffed with a grin. “You’re not fooling me. I bet you just flashed that gorgeous smile, and your teachers melted and forgave you anything.”

Shiro couldn’t resist jumping on the opening he was given. “Gorgeous, huh?”

Keith was completely unflustered, his face serious but hiding a smile. “You own a mirror, Shirogane.”

“Well, now I’m just wondering if my allegedly gorgeous smile could work on a certain science teacher I know,” Shiro replied. He probably looked ridiculous, grinning like a complete idiot, but he couldn’t stop himself. He felt lit up from the inside, glowing with a happiness he hadn’t felt in a very long time.

A red hue lit up Keith’s ears, spreading faintly down his neck, and something inside Shiro burned with pride when he realized he could get such a reaction from the seemingly unflappable Keith Kogane.

“I’m not sure I want to answer that,” Keith said cryptically.

“Why’s that?” Shiro asked, intrigued.

Keith looked away, avoiding his eyes for a moment. “That’s a lot of power to give someone on a first date,” he said vaguely. His dark eyes shot back to meet Shiro’s, and he continued with a hint of humor in his voice, “I guess you’ll just have to take the fact I haven’t turned into a puddle on the floor yet for what it’s worth.”

Not entirely sure how to respond to that, Shiro fell back on his awkward safety net of poorly timed puns.

“That made me think of a solid joke about ice,” Shiro deadpanned. “But it melted and now the joke isn't that solid anymore.”

Keith stared at him for a full second before he broke, snorting loudly. “See, that’s what I’m talking about!” he cried, running a hand through his thick bangs. Shiro must have looked confused, because he continued, “Why the hell do I find that hot? That shouldn’t be attractive!”

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Shiro said with a smile. “Normally the only people that like my jokes are twelve.”

“I think it’s just you,” Keith grumbled playfully. “You’ve got superpowers or something. Maybe I’m just helpless to your charms.”

“If that’s the case, I’m certainly not complaining,” Shiro replied, his smile turning into a smug grin.

It wasn’t much longer before Shiro reluctantly admitted he needed to head home soon. He had a very early gym session scheduled with a client the next day, and after what was already a long day at school, he needed to get some sleep if he had any hope of participating in physical training in the morning.

Part of Shiro deeply regretted having set an early session for the morning after their date. They had gotten along so well — talking to Keith was so much easier than he expected, and it felt like they had known each other forever. The flirting they’d been doing over dinner led him to believe Keith might be interested in extending their evening — and maybe even staying over.

But Shiro wasn’t ready. He’d arranged his schedule like this on purpose, to give him an excuse to go home and avoid any awkwardness at the end of the night. He liked Keith. He really liked Keith. But he didn’t want to rush this.

Whatever it was between them felt special. Keith was special. And rushing into bed — as tempting as it sounded — would probably end in disaster. Shiro didn’t feel confident their newly budded relationship had any hope of withstanding his issues. Better to wait until he knew Keith could be trusted with his insecurities before making a fool of himself.

Of course, that didn’t stop him from kissing the life out of Keith in front of his apartment door at the end of the evening.

*****

 

“I almost opened the door and made you come in,” Matt said, his tone all biting sarcasm, after Shiro had taken off his shoes and walked into the living room where his roommate was sitting. “I could hear you, you know. I doubt the neighbors appreciated the hallway porn.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Shiro argued, knowing his face must have been bright red. He could feel how swollen his lips were, puffy from running them along the stubble on Keith’s jaw. There was also potentially a bruise forming on the right side of his neck — he could feel the tenderness there, and the ghost of Keith’s mouth lingered.

He was dizzy with happiness, floating on a cloud of jubilance his roommate had no hope of pulling him down from.

“Dude, who moans that loud when they kiss goodnight?” Matt complained as Shiro flopped down on the couch next to him. He smirked at Shiro as he reached over to poke at the sore spot on his neck.

He was definitely marked. And there was no doubt he’d wear it like a badge of honor.

“What the hell did he do to you?” Matt asked, examining his roommate’s face as if it were a science experiment. For his part, Shiro couldn’t seem to wipe the pleased smile off his face. “Did he drug you? You look like you’ve been drugged.”

“I’m high on life, Matt,” he sighed. It should have sounded ridiculous even to his own ears, but it was the absolute truth.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” His roommate facepalmed dramatically before giving him a very dry look and slouching onto the couch. “Ok, man. Come give me the details. But bring me a beer first, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need it. And if I have to hear about his magical dick, that calls for hard liquor.”

“Matt,” Shiro scolded as he got up to go grab a couple of bottles from the fridge. “I didn’t sleep with him. We just went to dinner.”

“Well, fair warning, my friend,” Matt replied. “You’d better invest in a large bottle of the good stuff. I’m pretty sure I’m going to need it very soon.”

Chapter Text

 

After the date on Friday night, Keith didn’t really expect to hear from Shiro again until work on Monday. However, throughout the day on Saturday, he was pleasantly surprised by sweet messages showing up on his phone. Well, at least the first one was sweet — Keith might have been singularly responsible for the spiral their message chain quickly took into the gutter.

It began when Shiro sent an innocent text to Keith after his early appointment at the gym was over.

 

Takashi: Good morning! I wanted to say hi - I hope this doesn’t 

wake you by setting off 

your phone too early.

K: Morning

No, I’m awake. Although if you’re going to 

wake a guy up, the least you could do is 

send a post-workout selfie.

You want a picture of me? 

Looking gross?

Try me.

 

Keith was still in bed, lazing around with nowhere to be. There were errands that needed to be done and he planned on hitting the gym at some point, but besides that he had nothing pressing to do. For once, he was caught up with his grading and lesson planning for the week, so he had the weekend for himself.

As he began to make a mental to-do list for the day ahead, he completely forgot all about the last message he’d sent, not actually expecting Shiro to send the requested picture. So when his phone chimed with a text, he was jolted out of his planning and plunged head first into a pool of thirst.

Hot DAMN.

It was everything Keith could have hoped for. Just a shot from mid-chest up, Shiro’s face was flushed from his workout, skin glistening along the top of his forehead with sweat. His sleeveless tee showed off the muscular definition of his arms and his prominent collarbone. And that smile. Goddamn. Thank fuck he was laying down already, because his knees may have given out.

Keith hadn’t been lying — that smile could do things to a man. Though he refused to admit it the previous night, Keith probably would be willing to give Shiro anything he wanted when he looked at him like that.

Keith’s horny little hindbrain quickly strayed to all the illicit things he wanted to do to the gorgeous god whose picture he was busy saving to his phone. He could just imagine Shiro underneath him, looking like this from other strenuous physical activities...

 

T: Does this make up 

for the early morning texting?

K: hang on. I’m going to need a 

few minutes alone with this picture.

KEITH

What? I’m busy right now…

 

He wasn’t, really. But he could be, and in fairness, the image most likely would be in his head later during his shower. He just couldn’t resist the urge to tease Shiro a little.

As easy as it was to talk to Shiro, and as much as it already felt like they had known each other forever, it was difficult to get a read on what Shiro wanted from him physically. Keith had made it very clear — or at least he’d tried to when they went to dinner — that he was interested. Very interested. He’d been as forward as he dared to be with someone like Shiro, who seemed like he’d have more interest in being part of a couple than a one-night stand. While Keith had never been opposed to those, and at times preferred them, Shiro didn’t strike him as the type to settle for picking up a guy in a bar and never seeing him again.

He was too nice. Too sweet.

Too amazing.

Besides, anyone who took Shiro home would be insane to ever want him to leave again.

He didn’t hear from Shiro the rest of the morning, and Keith began to worry he had scared him off. In the afternoon, he sent another text, just to make sure Shiro wasn’t offended. And to test out the kind of response he might get. 

 

K: I had a really good time last night.

T: Me too. I have to admit

I don’t want to wait

until Monday to see you again.

K: Me either

 

He left the ball in Shiro’s court, not wanting to push. It went against all of Keith’s natural instincts, but something told him he needed to let Shiro set the pace. Keith tended to sprint forward full speed when he wanted something, and he definitely wanted Shiro.

But in all the physical contact they’d had so far, Keith was the one that had made the first move. It made him worry Shiro was holding back or was timid for some reason. But Keith reminded himself they’d already agreed they were in a relationship on their first date, for God’s sakes — he was just going to have to trust that meant the same thing to Shiro as it did to him.

 

T: What are you doing tomorrow?

K: Probably hit the gym in 

the afternoon. Why?

T: Want to get coffee in 

the morning? Or brunch?

 

Keith had never had brunch in his life. In truth, it sounded like something Lance would be interested in doing, probably either before or after going to the spa to get exfoliated or some other crazy shit. (His roommate’s skincare routine was either completely ridiculous or the eighth wonder of the world; Keith had never been able to quite pin down its worth.) But for Shiro, he was more than willing to try new things. He hoped it would lead to other new things, like those insanely muscular arms pressing him down against the mattress while Shiro pounded into him relentlessly...

 

K: Sure. Let me know 

when and where.

 

For today, he was going to have to go take that shower before he’d be able to accomplish anything else.

*****

 

“Soooo…” Pidge drawled with a knowing look as she dropped into the seat next to him in the teacher’s lounge. “How was your weekend?”

Her sing-song voice and bright smile would have annoyed Keith to no end on any other Monday. But he honestly couldn’t be provoked — he’d been riding a Shiro-induced high for days with no letdown in sight.

“It was good,” Keith admitted, aiming for nonchalance as he unwrapped his sandwich. He gave Pidge’s lunch tray a suspicious side-eyed glance — he had no idea how she could stand to eat school food.

Then again, she probably hadn’t grown up being forced to eat free lunches from the cafeteria on a daily basis.

Pidge’s eyes narrowed shrewdly. “Just good? That’s not what I heard. Or, at least, that’s not what my brother’s neighbors allegedly heard.”

As warmth heated his face, Keith refused to meet her eye. “It was really good,” he mumbled before cramming half his sandwich into his mouth.

“I’m just glad you guys are on the same page,” Pidge said with an indulgent smile. “It was pretty ridiculous for a while.”

“How was I supposed to know he was interested in me, too?” Keith asked.

“Boys are so oblivious.” Her straw-colored hair shook in his peripheral vision. Dropping her voice to a near whisper, Pidge asked, “So, have you seen Shiro since your date?”

He appreciated she was being discrete. The last thing he needed were other teachers in the lounge during their lunch period overhearing information he knew would be gossiped about immediately.

“Which one?” Keith asked with a hint of a smirk.

“Which one?” She exclaimed in a voice much louder than before. “You went out more than once this weekend?”

“Shhh,” he reminded her. She frowned like a scolded puppy, but pressed her lips together firmly. “Yeah. We got together yesterday for lunch. Or brunch. Or whatever the hell you want to call it.”

Shiro had laughed at his irritation with the word “brunch”. Why didn’t they have a word for whatever fell between lunch and dinner? The whole concept made absolutely no sense to him. But the more he fussed about it, the more Shiro was entertained — and hearing his deep laugh combined with the way he kept staring at him kept sending a happy flush of warmth running through Keith. Making Shiro happy was like an addictive drug, only much more powerful than any chemical he’d come into contact with while experimenting in high school and college.

If he wasn’t so crazy about the man, Keith would be scared to death of how fast he was falling.

Yet something about Shiro made him believe he wouldn’t get hurt. He could rely on the fact that Shiro would do everything he could to catch him.

No man he’d ever dated before had earned his trust so completely or so quickly. Keith very purposefully steered clear of thinking about why that might be, and instead he determined to just enjoy the experience and take things as they came. He’d learned the hard way that overthinking could only lead to heartbreak.

*****

 

Things were hectic at school that week, since they were getting closer to the holidays and the end of the quarter. He and Shiro each made a point to find one another after the last bell rang, even if it was only to hang out for a few minutes before one or both of them had to run off to a meeting or to get paperwork done. 

Often they would run into each other in the workroom, and Keith couldn’t help but notice how Shiro seemed to find excuses to touch him whenever they were in close proximity. Just about every time Keith had been standing at the copier, Shiro seemed to need to get some type of supplies located near him. Instead of asking Keith to move, he’d placed a hand on his waist to maneuver around to the side or grasp onto Keith’s shoulder to reach up and grab something from the cabinet above the copier. 

When they were alone in the workroom on Wednesday after school, Shiro had laid a hand on Keith’s hip as he slid right up behind him, molding his chest against Keith’s back as he reached up to get some extra tape from the storage cabinet above them with the other hand. Shiro’s groin pressed against his ass, and Keith had to close his eyes and take a few deep quiet breaths to fight the overwhelming urge to turn around and sexually assault the poor man.

Keith had no idea what Shiro wanted from him, but he did know if something didn’t give soon, his sexual frustration was going to boil over. And he was really trying his best to make sure it didn’t happen at work.

Nearly violating a storage closet once was more than enough action for a middle school building.

*****

 

With all the texting, work-appropriate flirting, and not-so-appropriate touching that had been going on all week, Keith was extremely wound up by the time Friday rolled around. When Shiro caught him in the lounge refilling his coffee cup before the first bell and suggested they grab dinner that night, Keith couldn’t agree fast enough.

They had been stuck in each other’s orbit for weeks, and Keith had been resisting his attraction to Shiro for so long, he was fairly sure he was going to combust if something didn’t happen soon.

There was no getting around it: he was thirsty as hell, and Shiro was an oasis of pure, delicious water Keith was ready to drown in.

“Is this ok?” Keith asked as they pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant that evening, suddenly nervous about the place he had chosen. “Shit, is this like, culturally inappropriate or something?”

Shiro laughed, completely at ease. “Don’t worry, I love sushi. It’s fine.”

“I should have asked. I swear I didn’t just assume you’d like Asian food because you’re Asian,” Keith said, sliding quickly into a ramble. “I just know the food is good because Lance and I came here not long after I moved here, and I figured if I liked it you probably would, too.”

Keith, ” Shiro said with a soft smile. He turned and his warm grey eyes bore into Keith as he laid a hand on his knee. “I swear, this is great.”

“Ok,” Keith replied, more than a little dazed. He idly wondered how many dates they would have to go on before he stopped feeling like he won the lottery every time he looked at Shiro.

The evening flew by too quickly, as they laughed and talked with each other, their conversation often circling back to stories from their classrooms or the crazy antics of some of their students. Over shared sushi rolls and pad kee mao, Keith learned a little more about Shiro’s childhood and the times his grandfather took him to visit family who still lived in Japan. After that, Keith couldn’t resist sharing the story his father had told him when he was little about his own potential Asian ancestry. 

“We had to do a project for school once,” Keith said between bites of noodles, “about immigrants. And we had to find out where our family came from. I remember my dad said the rumor was he had a great grandfather who came from Korea.”

“I wondered about your name when I saw it,” Shiro admitted. “I thought maybe it was Japanese.”

“You never know!” Keith said, followed by a self-deprecating huff. “I’m probably mostly mutt though.”

Shiro tilted his head and gazed at him with a fond look. “Whatever your family background, I think you got all the good genes.”

Keith couldn’t stop the flush that bloomed on his cheeks, instead looking down to focus on his plate, hiding his embarrassed smile.

Before they knew it, they had finished dinner and stalled on paying the bill as long as they dared. A somewhat more subdued drive followed, and the pair found themselves once again in front of the door to Shiro’s apartment.

Shiro’s eyes shone like silver in the artificial light of the hallway. “Do you want to come in?”

“That’s up to you,” Keith answered, sliding his hands into his pockets.

“Why me?” Shiro asked with a hint of a smile.

“Did you miss the part about how I’ve been hot for you since I was basically a kid?”

Shiro gaped at him for a moment, his mouth opening as if he would reply then closing quickly. In lieu of a response, he turned the knob and pushed the door open, ushering Keith inside.

“I wish you’d stop reminding me of that,” Shiro said finally, as he toed off his shoes near the door. Keith followed his lead, kicking off his boots next to Shiro’s loafers. “It makes me feel like some kind of pervert.”

“Why?” Keith asked, reaching out to take his hand. “Because you’re old?”

He couldn’t stop the evil grin from spreading over his face, which widened as Shiro narrowed his eyes and scowled at him.

“M’not that old,” he muttered.

Leaning up to kiss Shiro’s irresistible pout, Keith’s voice went low as he reassured him, “Oh, baby. No, you’re not.”

Shiro’s eyes darkened, and the mood between them shifted sharply, from playful to tense and wanting. Taking Keith by the hand, Shiro dragged him further into the apartment, steering them down a hallway and through an opening at the end. He pulled Keith with him into the dark, pushing the door closed forcefully behind them.

Before Keith could even take a look around the room, strong arms circled around him and rapidly pulled him against Shiro’s hard body, his mouth captured in a searing kiss. In no time, Keith wrapped himself around Shiro as well, his hands running up the firm muscles of the taller man’s back to grasp at his strong shoulders. A fire had ignited low in his gut, and every tease of Shiro’s tongue against his own only pushed the temperature a little higher.

Much too fast for Keith’s liking, Shiro pulled away, staring into Keith’s eyes and gasping for breath like there wasn’t enough air in the room.

Keith knew the feeling. He worried he might test the theory of human spontaneous combustion if the build up between them wasn’t released soon.

“My roommate’s here,” Shiro blurted out, as if somehow this was information Keith cared about.

“Why does that matter?” Keith asked roughly. His voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “Are you a screamer?”

An image sprang to mind unbidden, of Shiro red-faced, body shining with sweat, writhing and crying as Keith impaled him repeatedly.

Oh, fuck. Please let him be a screamer.

Shiro flushed bright red and let out a shaky breath.

“I haven’t…” Shiro said, his voice sounding too loud in the quiet of the room. “It’s been a really long time since I’ve done this.”

“Me, too,” Keith murmured. His hands made soothing circles against Shiro’s lower back. “This might be over so quick, I’ll embarrass myself. It’s been months… You’re the only person I’ve been involved with since I moved here.”

Shiro swallowed. “Try… years.”

“What?!” Keith said, eyes gone wide with disbelief. Shiro had to be kidding, yet his expression was entirely serious and his voice trembled a bit with nerves. “Years?”

“That can’t be so hard to believe,” Shiro scoffed, giving his prosthetic a wave.

“Uh, yeah. It is,” Keith said, dumbfounded. “I’ve met you. And do you not own a mirror?”

How in the hell was Shiro not beating off admirers with a stick? Not that Keith was complaining — it obviously worked out well for him if there was no competition.

Shiro blushed, looking away in embarrassment. “Believe me, I’m more than well aware of all my flaws.”

“Shiro,” Keith said softly, bringing a calloused hand up to cup his cheek. “You’re gorgeous . Inside and out. We don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. I want you. Obviously. But I’m not going anywhere.”

It broke his heart that this man didn’t recognize how incredible he was, how much he had to offer — especially when it was such an obvious fact from where Keith was standing.

Suddenly , Shiro surged forward to capture his lips, and Keith was quickly lost again in the soft slide of Shiro’s talented tongue. Every quiet little gasp and moan from Shiro was a victory, and as large hands started roaming across his body with confidence, Keith hoped Shiro had recognized there was nothing to be nervous about.

Before long, Keith was freed from his shirt between heated kisses, and his lizard brain gave a little cheer that things were finally moving in the right direction. But when Keith tried to do the same for Shiro, the minute his hands made contact with soft skin beneath his shirt, Shiro pulled back quickly .

“Wait,” he breathed. Keith froze, but couldn’t bring himself to remove his hands. In this particular situation, he refused to follow a step forward with two steps back. Shiro was obviously nervous, but Keith was determined to take care of him. He was positive whatever hangups Shiro was dealing with mentally could be overcome if they just powered through.

“What if I promise to come first?” Keith asked, his voice warm with humor. “Would that make you feel better? Just take your clothes off. I’m pretty sure that’s all it’ll take.”

He chuckled to play it off, but in truth Keith wasn’t sure he was entirely kidding. Every inch of Shiro’s body he had touched was going to be dynamite to his self-control when directly exposed and at the mercy of his greedy hands.

Keith was an artist — it wasn’t his fault he was a very visual person. There was a good chance he was going to have to close his eyes just to keep from busting a nut the minute Shiro got naked.

His father had always told him not to look directly into the sun, and with Shiro, something about that rule seemed to apply. He was too much — too many sharp lines and delicate curves, perfection made human, Michaelangelo’s David come to life.

Who was he kidding? Shiro was probably better than a sculpture.

Large hands settled on his shoulders, and Keith looked up to see Shiro’s eyes were closed as he took a deep breath to steady himself. “I don’t want you to see,” Shiro whispered. It reminded Keith of a small, wounded child suddenly, and his heart twisted.

“Shiro, I can already see you,” he said gently as he pulled Shiro over to the bed to sit down. “You’re beautiful.”

“I’m not,” Shiro argued, shaking his head. “It’s not… I’ve got a lot of scars, Keith. It’s not pretty.”

“Takashi,” Keith said softly, knowing the use of his formal name would focus Shiro’s attention. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m very attracted to you. A few scars won’t change that. You look amazing, but you’re so much more than that. You’re a nice guy. And you are definitely the sweetest man I’ve ever been with.”

“I doubt that,” Shiro said, his eyebrow quirked in disbelief.

Keith’s expression made clear he was having none of it. “You made me one of those bento box things for lunch the other day.”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Shiro explained with a shrug. “I was making one for myself anyway…”

“There were sausages shaped like little octopuses, Shiro.”

“I thought they were cute,” Shiro muttered, a slight hint of an embarrassed blush tinting his cheeks.

“They were fucking ADORABLE. It’s one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me. I had to fight the urge to run out of the lounge and barge into your classroom to show you just how much I liked it,” Keith said with a smile. “Your fifth hour class almost got a hell of a show.”

A pleased twist of his mouth joined the puzzled expression on Shiro’s face. “For making you lunch?”

Keith took his hand, eyes cast down to watch his own thumb smooth patterns over the delicate skin on the back of Shiro’s hand. “I grew up in foster care. Nobody has made me lunch for school since my dad. You have no idea how much that meant,” Keith admitted quietly. His eyes shot up to meet Shiro’s silver gaze. “It reminded me of him, I guess. It was nice.”

“I’m glad,” Shiro replied softly. “But Keith, you acted like you weren’t happy I did that for you.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” Keith let out a sigh and shifted uncomfortably in his spot, eyes darting away from Shiro again. “I’m not… I’ve relied on myself for a long time. It’s hard for me… to let someone else take care of me.” He forced his violet stare back to Shiro’s face, squeezing his hand as if he could draw strength from it like a sponge. “That doesn’t mean I don’t like it.”

Shiro nodded, and Keith could tell he understood. “Sometimes we need to let people take care of us, to let them show how much they care,” Shiro said, his free hand trailing up Keith’s back to settle in the dip between neck and shoulder, his fingers tangling and teasing at the dark hair within reach.

Keith’s head tilted as if following an unspoken direction, and their mouths met in a soft, sweet kiss.

“Let’s take care of each other,” Keith suggested before using his tongue to press his way into Shiro’s mouth, deepening their kisses once again. It didn’t take long to reignite the passion between them and stir back to a boiling point, and Keith’s roaming hands finally succeeded in freeing Shiro of his shirt, tossing it across the room for good measure.

He wasn’t getting it back any time soon, if Keith had his way. His hands and eyes roamed freely over chiseled muscle, fingers running gently across a nipple, making Shiro gasp.

Steel-colored eyes dilated to a dark black as Keith’s hands trailed further down, teasing along the ridges of his firm abdomen.

Keith wished it was his tongue instead. The urge to lay this man out and map every inch of him with his mouth was overwhelming. But he didn’t think he’d have the patience for it. The need building inside him would have to abate before he’d be able to take his time and worship Shiro the way he deserved.

“Tell me what you want.” Shiro’s voice was deep, rougher than normal, and if hearing those words didn’t immediately reignite a thousand long buried fantasies from his teenage years…

Keith felt a burst of electricity surge and pulse in all the places he wanted Shiro to touch him. Holy shit, this man was going to kill him. He may not actually get to have sex with him because his heart was going to explode first. He was hard as a rock from just the vibration of Shiro’s tenor against the sensitive skin right under his ear. When teeth began nibbling and sucking at his earlobe, Keith bit back the whine that wanted to escape.

“I want you to wreck me.” Honesty was the best policy, right? “Or I’ll do you. I’m not picky, just… please, Shiro.” Keith’s voice was raspy and breathless, sounding much more desperate than he was comfortable with.

Fucking hell, he had never begged a guy for sex in his life, but Shiro was a huge tree he wanted to climb right now and with the sensation of that metal hand running down Keith’s side, all sense of pride and decorum was being incinerated by the fire in his gut.

“Does this feel… ok?” Shiro asked tentatively.

“God, it’s so hot,” Keith groaned, a flush working its way down his neck. As he laid down with his back on the bed, he pulled Shiro along so he settled half on top of him with his hip resting on the bed. In the new position, Keith could tell just how worked up Shiro was already, an obvious hardness pressing into his hip through their pants.

Keith immediately decided Shiro still had too many clothes on, running a hand down his torso to the top of his pants, intent on rectifying the problem. With the button and zipper dealt with, Keith palmed Shiro’s cock through his underwear, making the larger man moan. Swallowing his sounds with his mouth, Keith pressed and teased, spurred on by the wetness leaking into the cloth. The sudden desire for the taste of Shiro on his tongue was overwhelming.

“How are you so perfect?” Shiro asked in disbelief. His eyes seemed to be shining in the dim light, his pupils blown wide with want.

“Maybe I’m just perfect for you.” It was corny and cliche, but Keith couldn’t find it in himself to care. At some point he’d passed the turn off to “it will be fine if we don’t sleep together right now” and was speeding straight into “I’m going to seduce this man if it kills me” territory.

Keith’s mouth latched onto whatever skin came within reach, sucking what would likely become a bruise along Shiro’s collarbone, the sounds and sighs coming from Shiro making clear he was absolutely fine with it.

As Shiro shifted more fully on top of him, Keith ran his hands down his sides, his fingers tracing into the dimples of his lower back. Shiro groaned into his neck as his hands pushed lower, sliding easily under the loosened clothing.

“Your ass is so round and perky and… unnngh,” Keith groaned, grabbing the offender with both hands and squeezing firmly. “I just want to worship it.”

It was an unfortunate side effect for Keith that, after entering the danger zone level of horny and putting his body in a horizontal position, he apparently completely lost his verbal filter.

Luckily, it seemed, Shiro was into it.

“Fuck,” Shiro groaned, his hand fisting in Keith’s hair while his mouth devoured him, filthy and messy, a riot of teeth and tongue.

“Yes… please,” Keith whispered between stolen breaths as they rutted against each other, driving him mad with want. “I’ll make you feel so good, Shiro.”

“Keith.”

“God, I want your cock in my mouth. Want to feel your balls on my chin when I put you down my throat.”

“Keith.” Shiro’s pelvis pressed harder against his own, the delicious friction pulling all the blood away from his head to the more demanding parts of him.

“Ungh… Shiro,” he moaned, unable to contain the horny word vomit pouring from his mouth. “I want your fingers… I’ve dreamt of those long, thick fingers inside me… prepping me… getting me ready so you can take me… God, I want you to fuck me so bad…”

“KEITH.” The deep, throaty growl would have startled him if he wasn’t already half mindless with desire. “Take my clothes off already. And for the love of fuck, stop talking or you’re going to make me lose it before any of that can happen!”

Keith was more than happy to follow the direction, helping push Shiro’s pants down his legs. When he sat back to take them off, Keith quickly divested himself of his own before pulling Shiro’s muscled form back on top of him. 

“Now come back here and shut me up already.”

Shiro happily obliged.

*****

 

The next morning, in what would become an embarrassing story he might never live down, Keith was cornered in the kitchen by Shiro’s roommate.

It was his own fault — Shiro was still asleep when he’d woken up starving, and after a while Keith worried that his growling stomach would wake the beautiful man next to him. It was Keith’s fault Shiro was so exhausted, having coaxed him into multiple rounds throughout the night. So he had snuck quietly from the bed, throwing on some too-large sweatpants he’d found folded on top of the dresser and hoping Shiro wouldn’t mind.

After only a few minutes of scavenging for something to snack on, Keith grabbed a banana from the bunch on the counter and had just taken a bite when he looked up into the amused hazel eyes of Matthew Holt.

“Didn’t you get enough of that last night?” Matt asked, causing Keith to nearly deep-throat the banana and choke. Matt laughed at his sputtering. “I feel sorry for Shiro if your skills are that lacking. Then again, maybe that’s what all the noise was about?”

“What?” Keith asked, embarrassment and mortification mixing into a storm of color that mottled his face. Unfortunately, he didn’t know Matt well enough to be sure whether his best way out of the situation was to defend his oral skills or feign ignorance and run back to Shiro’s room to hide.

In any case, Matt didn’t give Keith much of a chance to say anything. Instead he jumped at the opening and began to gleefully berate Keith for five entire minutes about being a screamer. He even woke Shiro, who came out of his room in just boxers to see what was going on. His appearance only distracted Keith, whose eyes couldn’t help but fix on the delicious vision, complete with a halo of tangled sex hair above his warm grey eyes.

Matt’s snapping fingers in front of his face brought Keith’s attention back to the lecture. Apparently he wasn’t done doling out shit for the disruption to his sleep. 

Shiro’s smug look when Keith tried to defend himself with the excuse that he never had been a loud person before did not seem to help his argument at all. He moved closer to Keith, reaching out to run his hand along Keith’s lower back before grabbing at his waist to pull him in closer. 

Their eyes locked on each other, while in the background Matt’s voice prattled on about house rules and no more sex while he was in the apartment.

“Matt,” Shiro said calmly, his grey eyes never looking away from Keith. “We’ll have to discuss the roommate agreement later.”

“Why the hell —”

“You should probably leave now,” Shiro suggested in the same calm, authoritative voice he probably used with disruptive students in his classroom. Keith, who was still trapped in his gaze and unable to look away from his beautiful face, quietly thought Shiro could boss him around with that voice any time. The urge to be a ‘good boy’ had never been so strong.

As Shiro pulled Keith in closer, trapping him against the counter with his waist pinned by Shiro’s large hands, Keith heard keys jingling and Matt’s voice whining, “Fine. I’m going to go get breakfast somewhere. Do not defile this kitchen, Shirogane! Or I swear I will rain hellfire down on your ass and crash every electronic you own!”

They barely heard the door slamming, already wrapped up in each other, as Shiro lifted Keith in his arms to carry him back to his room.

Later he’d find a text from Pidge on his phone:

My brother says you’re a bad influence. He’s making me 

help him look online for a way to erase auditory memories. 

Do I even want to ask why?

Nope :J