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“Wait, wait, wait,” Keith manages to get out in the space between his and Shiro’s lips.

It’s probably the hardest thing he’s ever had to say in his life, and his whole body whines in protest with its want when Shiro pulls back. His wonderfully solid weight above Keith shifts away from where they’ve been melting further and further into each other on Shiro’s couch in the Captain’s quarters, and Keith has never hated himself more than in this moment.

“I’m – so sorry,” Shiro says. “We can slow – ”

“No, no! Don’t apologize.” Keith gets up on his elbows where he’s lying on his back, still reclined with one foot planted on the floor, the other pressed snug between the thick muscle of Shiro’s thigh and the couch cushions. “I didn’t tell you to stop.”

Shiro looks down at him like he’s assessing him – like he doesn’t know if Keith is being honest – so Keith tilts his chin up and gives him a reassuring grin, pleased when Shiro seems to finally relax again. The tension in Shiro’s shoulders melts away and he leans over Keith a little, smiling down at him with a flirty twinkle in his eyes.

“So…” Shiro murmurs and lifts an eyebrow. “What’s up, then?”

There’s definitely a pun there that’d be far too easy for Keith to make, and he does his best not to flick his eyes down the length of Shiro’s body, not to let his gaze find the tempting sight of his belt buckle.

Instead he reaches up with one hand to toy with the flaps of Shiro’s blue Henley, where all four of the buttons at the neckline have already been undone by Keith’s impatient hands.

“I, uh.” Keith tries to find his voice, despite still staring at where the parted fabric of Shiro’s shirt is showing off the top of his chest; the big muscles of his pecs and the black hair there.

“You… what?” Shiro asks. Keith’s not sure if Shiro even means for it to be teasing, but he’s still so close and his voice is all low.

“Just thought – maybe we should talk,” Keith finally says, forcing his gaze to break away from the skin pulled taut over Shiro’s collarbones and how biteable the line of his throat looks. Shiro lets out a laugh, and Keith can’t help but frown. That’s hardly the reaction he was hoping for. “What?”

Shiro bends down to kiss him, once – quick and chaste, only to immediately lean in and do it again a moment later. The second kiss is harder, like Shiro can’t stop himself from going for it when Keith’s mouth is right there, and Keith sighs into it, parting his lips and licking into Shiro’s mouth to taste his tongue. Fingers curling against the couch, Keith tilts his face to the side as he lets out a pleased little noise, something that settles somewhere between a whine and a hum.

Kissing is so nice.

Kissing is so nice, or at least it is when it’s with Shiro. While Keith doesn’t have anything to compare it to, he still knows it’s the fact that it’s Shiro who’s pressing his mouth to Keith’s own that makes it so fucking fantastic.

Keith hadn’t even realized his body could feel like this, despite all of the wonderful ways Shiro has managed to get his heart racing for years by now.

Maybe Keith didn’t let himself think too much about Shiro when they first met – unable to form any proper opinions of him. Too used to the automatic distrust and disbelief Keith always felt for other people, his confusion over what Shiro even wanted from him clouded everything else. All Keith kept wondering whenever he felt any sort of fondness for Shiro was how long it’d take before Shiro got tired of or disappointed in him; when he’d finally leave Keith on his own again.

But now, most of the time, it still feels like he’s been in love with Shiro forever.

Like even though Keith only flicked his gaze away to stare out the window when the guy who was supposedly such a Big Deal – with all of the records he'd broken and how popular he was – had entered Keith’s classroom, Keith’s heart had already found its home. It simply settled in, waiting for Keith to understand.

Either way, however it happened, what Keith does know is that it didn’t take long before he started to notice how much Shiro has always made him feel, so much of something that no one else has ever given Keith even a little of.

Being surrounded by others who don’t mind sharing their thoughts on it has taught Keith that this is supposed to be something a lot of people do with whoever, and happily so. Something a lot of others feel for strangers; that tight clench of warmth in his heart and unfiltered want Keith feels throughout his body when he looks at Shiro.

There’s no weight to what others do in Keith’s mind, but he also can’t wrap his head around it.

Keith might have wanted to have sex since he was a teen hitting puberty, but the thought of actually doing it with someone who isn’t Shiro has always been surreal and not worth thinking about, mostly feeling like something never meant for him to have anyway.

Other people don’t register as someone even worth considering, but Shiro smiles, Shiro crosses his arms when he throws his head back with a laugh, Shiro rubs his big hand across his jaw when he’s deep in thought, and suddenly all Keith does is want.

Keith wants so much with him, wants everything Shiro will give him, the warmth of his body and his bare skin pressed close to Keith’s own, and kissing is so nice that Keith can’t imagine how everything else they could finally do together now will feel.

Licking into someone’s mouth and watching the string of saliva still connecting their lips as they break apart shouldn’t be so appealing – never would be appealing if it were with anyone else. But Keith stares at Shiro’s mouth as he pulls back, where it’s red and a little glossed with spit, wet and shiny and inviting, and all Keith wants to do is close the space between them again to get more of it.

“Sorry,” Shiro says, his eyes heavy-lidded and half-closed. His voice is already lower, hoarser, like all it takes for it to get difficult to find is getting Keith’s tongue in his mouth. “What – um. What were we talking about?”

“You laughed at me,” Keith murmurs back, still watching Shiro’s lips. “Because I said I wanted to talk.”

“Right…” Shiro blinks, and then frowns, backtracking as he processes Keith’s words. “No! Not – I mean, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Then how did you mean it?” Keith’s trying to focus on having a conversation with him, honestly, since he was the one to ask for it – but it’s so hard to think about anything at all when Keith’s thoughts keep circling back to how he’s never wanted anyone so much in all the ways he wants Shiro.

“That’s just, uh,” Shiro starts, the tip of his tongue poking out over his bottom lip for a fleeting moment, because clearly the universe is really out to test Keith’s resolve that badly right now, “not something I hear too often from you. But… you’re probably right.”

“I’m always right,” Keith says, huffing out a breath and feeling his cheeks heat a little at the fond smile Shiro gives him in return.

Shiro looks so smitten, like he’s giddy in love, keeping his hands on Keith’s body like he can’t stand not being able to touch him right now. The longest parts of his bangs are all mussed up and the corner of one cheek is dimpled because Shiro can’t stop grinning, and Keith doesn’t think anyone has ever been so in love with anyone else as he is with Shiro.

The sight of him is still the most beautiful thing Keith’s ever seen, no matter how many years it’s been since the first time he thought so.

Keith’s breath hitches, his heart clenching like it’s the first time he’s realized he has a crush on Shiro all over again, and he doesn’t let himself think through it anymore before reaching up to hold the back of Shiro’s neck, pulling him down so that Keith can kiss him again.

Again and again, because he can now.

Shiro is his to kiss, and Shiro looks at him like Keith’s the most beautiful there is, too; Shiro tilts his head to the side and bites Keith’s bottom lip to make him gasp, kissing him dirty and deep, but somehow still so sweet.

Wrapping his arms securely around Shiro’s shoulders, Keith tugs him further down, to feel his heavy weight and hard muscles lined up against Keith’s own body.

Shiro groans when their hips connect, fisting a hand in Keith’s hair to hold his head still as he gets just a little more demanding with the kiss. Keith whimpers, one hand clutching at the back of Shiro’s shirt, twisting the fabric between his fingers when Shiro gives a slow but deliberate roll against him, and Keith can’t hold back the sound he makes over how good it feels to have Shiro pressed against him where they’re both hard in their pants.

But the loud moan Keith lets out seems to snap Shiro out of whatever he’d been letting himself get lost to, and he breaks away from the kiss with a gasp.

“Sorry!” Shiro hurries out, heaving himself up on his hands to keep their bodies from touching, breathing heavy and staring down wide-eyed at him. “God, I am so sorry, baby, I – ” Shiro swallows, looking over Keith’s face like he’s searching for any sign of distress.

“It’s okay,” Keith says, still breathless as he reaches up to touch Shiro’s cheek. He strokes his thumb across Shiro’s skin and smiles, because seriously – nothing could ever be more okay than this. “Shiro. Trust me. I really don’t mind. I was, uh. I was the one who kissed you, remember?”

Shiro squints his eyes at him again. “…Yeah. Okay, right, but you still said – … I mean I didn’t – I didn’t mean to ignore you.” Letting out a little scoff, Shiro looks away, smiling again with a blush on his cheeks. “It’s just…”

Keith tilts his head when Shiro doesn’t continue, still not meeting his eyes. “Just what?” he prompts gently.

“Y’know.” Shiro glances back and shrugs, like he’s shy or embarrassed about it. “Sometimes it’s just a little overwhelming to finally get to have you like this.” One of his hands falls to Keith’s waist, pushing the fabric of Keith’s t-shirt up to rub his big palm across the bare skin over Keith’s hip bone, and it makes something swoop through Keith’s stomach so intensely he thinks he might be experiencing vertigo. “And you’re – god, you’re so eager, baby. It’s like I can’t help myself.”

Keith sucks in a sharp breath, because Shiro is touching him and calling him baby with his voice all low after talking about having him, and Keith has to stop himself from spreading his legs further or shifting up while dragging Shiro back down.

But honestly, screw talking – so what if Keith comes in his pants after five more minutes of –

Keith groans to himself and digs his head back into the couch cushions for a second while he gathers strength that he doesn’t feel like he actually possesses. Then he plants both of his palms on Shiro’s chest, and pushes him back.

They really need to hurry up and get this conversation over with, so they can get to the part where all of Keith’s wildest, brightest, most fun and amazing and absolutely filthy dreams and fantasies finally come true.

In a hopefully slightly less desperate way than where it’s headed if they keep this up, that is.

Shiro goes easily, moving away fully this time to flop into the corner seat of the couch, so he’s sitting up properly instead.

Keith follows, tucking one foot under his thigh and grabbing one of Shiro’s decorative pillows to put in his lap as he sits up. Shiro simply leans back and drapes his left arm across the couch’s headrest, spreading his legs wide, unashamed in the way he usually is that would make anyone else look like an asshole if they did it.

Except now the sight really is as obscene as Keith has always done his best not to think of it as, and once again he has to fight himself not to let his mind wander off – but Shiro’s really trying him when he reaches down to palm his own crotch and adjusts himself in his pants with a small groan.

“Okay!” Keith squeaks out and nods to himself while taking a deep breath, looking away. Okay. They can do this. They can keep their hands (and lips and mouths and tongues and the thrilling hard length beneath the fabric of Shiro’s jeans, fuck) to themselves for a couple more minutes.

“…Right. Talking.” Shiro frowns – or maybe pouts, like he really does want Keith just as badly and impatiently, which swiftly gets the stomach-swooping back up and running in Keith’s body again. “Everything okay, buddy?”

“Yup,” Keith says, trying to gather his thoughts and work out what he’s even going to say.

He doesn’t want to make it awkward, doesn't want to turn it into a thing by bringing it up and ruining the mood. But as good as Keith has always felt about winging things, this is something he doesn’t want to push through and hope that it all works out fine in the end.

Keith wants it to be good, wants to know it’s good, and not just for his own sake. He doesn’t want to find himself in a situation where something he wasn’t expecting happens, and, having no idea what to do about it, end up feeling like he has to pretend he has a handle on it.

Keith wants to be nervous if he’s feeling nervous.

He’s spent far too long wanting this and waiting for it to have it end up making him feel bad because he’s being stubborn and stupid about pushing through, only because he feels like he has to be the best there is on the first try.

So he wants to talk to Shiro about it.

Keith reaches out to put his palm over Shiro’s hand, and slides it up to his wrist, scratching his short nails through where the dark hair at Shiro’s forearm starts to thicken. Once again he tries to keep himself from getting too distracted by staring, wondering what it’ll feel like to have Shiro hold him close with all of their naked skin pressed together - what Shiro’s going to look like with his clothes left forgotten on the floor, undressed and in bed with Keith.

“Hey, Keith.” Shiro’s voice breaks through the silence and Keith flicks his eyes back up to where Shiro’s watching him intently. As considerate and caring as always, even with his jeans no doubt still awkwardly snug in places. “Talk to me? You sure everything okay?”

“Of course it is. I just…” Keith huffs out a breath, steadying himself. It’s okay. This isn’t a big deal. It’s ridiculous to feel more nervous talking about it than the thought of actually doing it. He’s an adult, and besides, it’s Shiro. Keith relaxes a little at that thought. It’s just Shiro. “I mean, it’s just that – you know I’ve never done this before. So I – ”

“Wait.” Shiro cuts him off, shaking his head like he’s trying to process Keith’s words. “You haven’t?”

Keith lets out a laugh, a short and surprised thing, but the crease between Shiro’s brows only deepens. After a moment, Keith frowns too. “I – no?”

Shiro sits quiet for too long, not saying anything, until he croaks out, “You – never?

“No,” Keith repeats slowly, unable to make sense of how confused Shiro seems to be over this.

“It’s – that’s just… I mean. It’s surprising,” Shiro says, but he doesn’t offer up an explanation for why he’d think so, even though Keith has no idea, since he feels like it should have been the most obvious thing in the world.

“Why?” Keith asks and takes Shiro’s hand in his, waiting until Shiro’s looking at him before he continues. “You’re the only person I’ve ever wanted like this. There’s never been anyone else.”

Whatever reaction Keith was hoping for, it’s not what Shiro gives him. If anything he only looks more distressed at Keith’s statement. “What?”

“Shiro. I – ” Keith’s still trying to figure out what to say, how to soothe whatever worry Shiro’s having about this. “Should I be flattered that you didn’t know? I thought it was obvious. I mean I just had my first kiss three nights ago. You know… with you?”

Shiro lets out a noise and scrambles up from the couch, finding his feet so fast it’s as if he’s trying to get away from him. Keith flinches his own hand back as Shiro hisses out another, “What?

“Wh–” Keith cuts himself off, staring at Shiro where he’s standing and gaping down at Keith. “What do you mean, ‘what ’? How can you not have known? Shiro, come on – ”

“So you – that was the…?” Shiro lifts his left hand to touch his bottom lip before dropping it again, and with the ease of a man Keith knows breaks down when he’s alone in his room, but who still goes on to command Earth’s last hope of survival like it’s as simple as a well-rehearsed drill, Shiro gets his bearings back enough to go from shell-shocked to seemingly composed in a matter of seconds. “Keith. You’ve never been with anyone else before? Ever?”

Heat creeps up Keith’s neck, his whole face flushing with a wave of unfamiliar shame he’s never had to deal with before. In every scenario he has imagined, this was never part of it. Keith crosses his arms tightly over his chest, wanting to crawl in on himself as he struggles to tamper down the embarrassment bubbling to the surface.

“How could you not have known, Shiro? Oh my god – ”

“You never said anything about that!”

“When would I – … who would it even have been with?” Keith uncrosses his arms, unable to handle sitting down and feeling small while Shiro scowls at him, like Shiro is his disappointed superior, just because Keith hasn’t slept with anyone else before. A wave of anger washes over him when Shiro takes a step back as Keith pulls himself to his feet, like suddenly Keith is forbidden fruit that Shiro won’t let himself be tempted to bite into. “Even if we hadn’t been stuck in deep space for years – two of which, I might add, I spent alone with my mom – you’re…”

Keith works his jaw, thrown back to being all of sixteen again and looking at Shiro during one of their shared sunsets, when the realization first sank in of what the feeling in his chest meant.

Keith had watched the way the light reflected across Shiro’s dark hair, still black even in the sunlight, and Keith’s heart sped up, keeping time with Shiro’s laughter. Shiro’s touch on his shoulder, and the way his smile made his eyes crinkle, made Keith feel warm in a way friendship probably wasn’t supposed to.

That was when Keith had started to understand just what he thought of when he thought of Shiro – what he wanted to be to Shiro, only to immediately tell himself he was being childish and stupid and silly.

Back then, Keith had been so sure it could never be.

Except now, tonight, not that long ago, Keith’s tongue had been down Shiro’s throat as they stumbled into the Captain’s quarters, while Shiro eagerly and roughly squeezed two handfuls of Keith’s ass – and Shiro was the one who breathed hotly in Keith’s ear about how much he wanted him, before they ended up horizontal on the couch.

“I told you, Shiro.” Keith looks down at the floor, like he really is a sixteen year old filled with shame again, and not someone talking to the person Keith thought was now his boyfriend. “You’re the only guy I’ve ever wanted.”

“Keith.” Shiro’s voice hitches on his name, like it hurts him to have to say it.

“You were the only one I even trusted to be my friend for years.” Keith snaps his eyes back up to Shiro’s face, refusing to look away this time, because he hasn’t done anything wrong. Keith really thought he was finally allowed to feel like wanting Shiro wasn’t wrong. “You think I could have slept with someone? Who would that have been, Shiro? And when? Everyone hated me. I don’t think you get how much I mean it when I say you were the first friend I ever had, the first person I let myself care about in years, the only one I’ve – …” The words get caught in the thick lump forming in his throat, but Keith’s not going to cry. He is not going to start crying over this, not now, not here, not like this. “You were the first person I even wanted to hug after I lost my dad. I thought you knew that too.”

Shiro’s breath shudders out of him, but when he speaks his voice has lost its softness. Instead it’s stern and weirdly tight, so out of place in the situation. “Keith.”

“I don’t get why you’re acting like this is such a big deal.” Keith takes half a step forward, reaching for Shiro and trying to push through how he feels berated by his boyfriend for being honest and vulnerable around him. “Because I promise it really isn’t. I’m twenty-two, not some blushing – ”

“Stop it!” Shiro barks out, stumbling back, even further away from Keith with his hands held up as though he might have to defend himself. “Just – please stop.”

Keith does.

Of course he does, dropping his hand from where it hung in mid-air, and stares wide-eyed at Shiro instead.

It’s not like Keith can’t handle being turned down. He can – he’d prepared himself for spending the rest of his life thinking he would be if he ever shared his feelings with Shiro – but now, here, it still feels like a slap to the face.

“Seriously,” Keith whispers, trying, and yet again failing, to make any kind of sense of this, “what’s your problem?”

Shiro trusts him to lead front and center in a war – did so even when Keith was still a teenager with no prior experience with anything of the sort – but Keith loving him so much he wants to be close is where Shiro draws the line if Keith’s never done something before?

Just because, what? Keith’s never been in love with anyone else?

The thought burns at the back of his throat, making Keith swallow thickly, his breathing becoming increasingly difficult.

Maybe Keith has only ever been useful for what he can do with his rage, and not for what he can do with his heart, even to Shiro in the end.

“Why does this have to be weird?” Keith says, trying not to grit his teeth or cry. “Shiro, we – ”

“Oh my god!” Shiro drops his hand from where he’s been raking his fingers through the white tuft of his bangs, finally meeting Keith’s eyes again as he throws his arm out. “Can’t you just give me a fucking moment, Keith!”

Keith takes a step back, unsettled by Shiro’s raised voice. “Wow. Okay. I’m sorry, I – ”

“Keith, I'm – fuck.” Shiro scrubs at his face while Keith still stands staring, wide-eyed, over both the outburst and how apparently this is something so incredibly earth-shattering it has Shiro swearing. “I have to – … I just need a moment, okay?”

Keith nods, and the burn behind his eyelids really needs to stop, because the tears threatening to well up do nothing to help him feel less immature. “Yeah. Sure. Of course. Sorry for – for…”

being too much of a kid for you, even now, he thinks.

Maybe this was always how Shiro was going to see him in the end, no matter how badly Keith wanted to believe they’d moved forward past their friendship together.

Maybe Shiro really did just need someone to be his successor because he was desperate all those years ago. Thinking that his time was running out, Keith was the only one that Shiro trusted amongst a bunch of kids that were even younger than Keith was himself.

Maybe, like Keith’s been thinking and then pointedly forcing himself not to think about over the past three days, Shiro’s not so much in love with him as it is that he feels indebted to Keith after everything that they’ve been through. Maybe Keith being willing and wanting somehow tricked Shiro into convincing himself he could try to reciprocate Keith’s affections. Since, hey – they’re friends, right?

Shiro’s always been too generous with his favours.

“Sorry for springing this on you, since it’s such a big deal to you. I didn’t think it’d – …” Keith scoffs, bitterness finally settling in among the hurt in his heart. “Trust me, had I known you’d feel this way, I would’ve told you right away. At least I would’ve known how you feel before letting myself believe I stood a chance.”

“What? Keith. C’mon, that's not what I – ” Shiro’s voice softens, but Keith can’t focus on it, the comforting tone of it only making the anger in him spark sharper as Shiro finally steps close to him again. “I didn’t mean to – ”

“Stop doing that!” Keith hisses and slaps Shiro’s hand away when he reaches for him. “Stop – apologizing when you were the one who got upset. You got upset because of something I did, I don’t need you to always – …” Pressing the heel of his palms into his eyes, Keith forces himself to take a deep breath so he won’t say something he’s going to regret. Instead, he works his jaw and drops his hands to his side, squeezing them into tight fists. “I’m – gonna go. I’ll just be innocent and blushing somewhere you won’t be tempted to touch me with your dangerous old man dick or whatever stupid shit you’re telling yourself.”

Keith, what the – ”

“Whatever, just – leave me alone, Shiro. Leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.” Keith whirls around, cheeks already burning with embarrassment over his petty outburst, since he’s obviously just proved Shiro right in thinking that Keith’s too much of a baby for him when it comes down to it.

The doors to Shiro’s quarters slide open and shut behind him with ease – like letting Keith leave isn’t an issue at all.

Stalking down the long hall of the ATLAS outside of Shiro’s room, Keith doesn’t stop – doesn’t let himself breathe – until he reaches the end of it. He stands with his fists balled at his sides, staring at a spot on the wall with his teeth digging into his bottom lip for a long moment, until he finally dares to turn around.

Despite knowing he was the one who asked for it, Keith can’t help the hurt that stabs into his chest over how Shiro hasn’t followed.

 

 

~

 

 

(23:04) Shiro

Hey… Can we talk? Where did you go?

 

(23:05) Shiro

Keith. I'm sorry.

 

(23:11) Shiro

I know you’re awake and I can see you’ve read my messages. I’m not going to force you to meet up if you don’t want to, but you know how bad I am at writing about things… I promise I have a lot more I want to tell you so can we please talk about this face to face?

 

(23:17) Shiro

Seriously I WILL type you a novel in text messages if you don’t answer and I don’t think either of us wants that

 

(23: 19) Shiro

Keith. I’m sorry. I love you.

 

(23: 19) Shiro

And I’m sorry for trying to make a joke when we just had a fight too

 

(23:19) Shiro

I love you.

 

(23:20) Shiro

More than anything.

 

(23:22) Shiro

Please, Keith? You don't have to forgive me. I just want to know you're okay.

 

(23:22) Shiro

I *love* you.

 

 

 

(23:54) Keith

i'm up on the roof

 

 

 

(23:54) Shiro

Oh thank god

 

(23:54) Shiro

Hi

 

(23:55) Shiro

Where? Already looked like everywhere up there earlier

 

 

 

(23:57) Keith

i know… i saw you

 

(23:58) Keith

behind iversons old “secret” smoke spot

 

 

 

Keith puts the phone down as soon as the text is sent and he’s left on read with no more replies from Shiro coming through. He swings his legs a little where they dangle over the roof’s edge, pulling the blanket he brought tighter around himself while staring up at the night sky; it’s clear and cloudless in the cool evening.

No more than a couple of minutes pass before he hears the door to the stairs creak open behind him, followed by the gentle click of it closing again. Keith holds his breath for a moment, waiting until he hears the sound of soft footsteps padding towards him to let the air in his lungs out through his teeth.

“Keith,” Shiro says softly from beside Keith’s right shoulder. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Keith responds, scooting over to the side. Not because he actually needs to make room on the empty expanse of the roof, but so that Shiro knows that he’s welcome to join him.

Still, he keeps his eyes on the stars, not looking over at Shiro when he sits down next to him. Shiro’s always been one of few people that he’s never felt weird making eye contact with, but he always ends up looking at him for too long instead, and Keith doesn't want to deal with it now. He doesn't want to watch the face of someone he loves so much if Shiro’s just going to tell him how quickly this thing between them has turned out to be a mistake, and that they shouldn’t even have tried.

Keith can’t look at him if Shiro’s going to say that while, yes, he does love him, he’s realized that Keith really is a baby brother to him, and he can’t be his baby with the words sweetly murmured at night between the sheets.

“Keith.”

Keith squeezes his eyes shut, and clenches his fists tight enough his nails dig into his palms. He unclenches them again, rubbing his thumbs against his fingertips while the heel of his foot taps against the building, redirecting his focus to the soothing feeling it provides.

“I can’t pretend it didn’t start out that way,” Keith whispers, “but I’m not some dumb sixteen-year-old wishing you would sweep me off my feet anymore, Shiro. I’m not a little kid.”

He remembers telling Shiro that exact same thing years ago, back when he really was a kid.

“I know that. I know.” Shiro’s hand tentatively comes to rest on Keith’s shoulder, his hold settling in firmer when Keith doesn’t flinch away. Instead Keith finally lets himself look at Shiro, taking in how tired he seems, now. Snuggled up in a black hoodie that’s a little too big on him, Shiro’s eyes are a little red, like maybe he’s been crying too. Still, Shiro offers Keith a small smile. “And, you know, just so we’re clear – I happen to have always loved and respected that sixteen-year-old too. Maybe… not like I love you now, or – I’d say that’d be cause for concern, but. I didn’t think you were some annoying little punk with a crush back then. You’ve always been my friend, Keith.”

A breath shudders out of Keith.

It’s almost awkward how it's so easy not to be awkward around Shiro – how easy all of the tension and worry and hurt wants to wash away with Shiro’s reassurances.

'Not like I love you now.'

“…I could be a little bit of a punk,” Keith whispers, still too sad to allow his lips to twitch into a smile of his own, even if he’s somewhat comforted by Shiro’s words.

“Yeah. Sometimes.” Shiro scrunches his nose, smiling wider, and he really is the most dangerous man Keith’s ever met, because Keith already feels ready to forget any fight they had as long as Shiro keeps looking at him like that. “You still can.” The hand resting on Keith’s shoulder moves back and forth, Shiro’s thumb rubbing a pattern into the blanket, still draped across Keith’s back. “But I’ve always liked that about you.”

“I know,” Keith says, furrowing his brows as he looks out across the Garrison’s grounds again. The night is silent, save for the sound of their breathing and the buzz of cicada in the distance. Keith throws another glance towards Shiro, whose face glows in shades of soft white and shadowy blue, illuminated by the moon which hangs just above the mountains on the horizon. “That’s why I don’t get why – … I mean you’ve never made me feel like I was wrong for being or doing things differently before. You’ve never made me feel bad about myself before.”

“Keith,” Shiro says, voice rough as he gives one last squeeze to Keith’s shoulder before withdrawing his touch. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It’s not – god, it’s not like that. I was just – ”

Shiro stares down at his prosthetic hand as if he’ll find new information he wasn’t aware of in its palm, his brows pinched tight. He sighs, but he still doesn't continue.

“So, you… don't think it’s weird?” Keith says, even if what he really wants to ask is if Shiro thinks Keith is too young for him.

Which is ridiculous.

At least it should be ridiculous, and Keith’s told himself so every time the thought has crossed his mind over the past couple of days. There’s barely four years between them now – probably, if Keith’s math is right – and logically, if things have shifted between them so that they can be best friends on equal terms, why wouldn’t it work for this, too?

“What?” Shiro frowns. “I don’t think what’s weird?”

“That I’m, you know. This old, and I’ve never…?”

No,” Shiro says without hesitation, realization smoothing over the confusion on his face.

Keith would like to think he knows Shiro well enough to be able to trust that Shiro’s telling the truth; that Shiro’s not just trying to reassure him because it’s more or less a reflex to do so when people get down on themselves. Still, he has to ask, “You sure?”

“Of course I don’t think it’s weird. Not at all. God, Keith, you could’ve been twice as old and never done it before and I wouldn’t think it was weird. Or. I mean. If you want it, it’d be a little weird, because you’re beautiful, and anyone would be lucky to – …” Shiro snaps his mouth shut, shaking his head. “No. Right. I’m not going to…” He trails off again, closing his eyes for a moment, and Keith tries to be patient while Shiro finds his way around whatever he’s trying to say. “Listen. If you never wanted to sleep with me – or anyone at all, I wouldn’t think you’re weird. I don’t think you’re weird.”

“But I do want it,” Keith says, moving his hand out from under the blanket, curling his fingers around Shiro’s forearm. If Shiro doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with it, then why is he acting like it’s such a big deal? “I just – I want it with you. It’s always just been you.”

“Yeah,” Shiro says, and his voice sounds so small. “Exactly.”

“I still don’t get it. Are you… ashamed or something?” Shrugging when Shiro looks at him again, Keith says, “Of me? Not me, but. How we met? Like… is that what made it weird? Because you’ve known me since…”

“No.” Shiro shakes his head, but then he pulls a face. “I mean it was weird, at first. It’s been weird. You know that. Or I assume you do, given how long I made you wait for me, but I’m not – I’m not ashamed, Keith. It doesn’t matter to me if we met when you were younger. Back then, you know I never would’ve…”

Shiro trails off awkwardly once again – but Keith does know.

He knows, because he used to hate it more than anything, even if he loves Shiro all the more for it now. Because Shiro could have done anything to him back then, and Keith would’ve happily let him, when Shiro was the one and only person Keith trusted, but it never even crossed Shiro’s mind to take advantage of that fact.

Shiro’s never been anything but kind to him, while still never treating Keith like an annoying kid, and something washes over Keith’s insecurities at that reminder, smoothing out the sharp hurtful edges of them.

Once again, Keith finds himself thinking back to all those years ago when he first told Shiro that he wasn’t a little kid. He remembers how angry he had felt – betrayed and belittled and hurt from believing that Shiro was trying to shield him from the truth.

He remembers how, as soon as he took a step back and listened to what Shiro was saying, Keith had realized that it wasn’t actually anything personal. That despite the fact that Keith had been young back then, it didn’t have anything to do with that, or what Shiro thought of him – Shiro hadn’t told Keith about his disease for Shiro’s own sake.

Suddenly it all seems so obvious, so familiar, and with Keith having been so honed in on his own feelings and trying to understand what he’s done wrong, he feels guilty for not wondering until now if maybe Shiro thinks that Shiro is the issue.

Moving the hand he still has resting on Shiro’s left forearm down to his wrist, Keith finally lets himself smile when Shiro turns his hand over, waiting for Keith’s fingers to slide down to where they fit so perfectly between Shiro’s own when they’re slotted together. It’s so strange how having a heart isn’t something Keith thinks about most of the time – that it’s something that’s just there, when it can also beat so hard and make him feel like this.

Keith’s posture relaxes as he watches their interlaced hands, and he squeezes his fingers once, feeling Shiro squeeze back. He looks back up at Shiro, his voice soft when he asks, “Then what’s wrong? You can tell me anything, Shiro.”

A breath shudders out of Shiro before he meets Keith’s eyes. “Sometimes – sometimes I just don’t know how to handle it.”

“Handle what?”

“How much I mean to you. How much I’ve always meant to you. I don’t know if I’ve done anything to deserve you loving me like this.”

Keith lifts his eyebrows, trying to let that confession sink in. “Oh.”

“God, Keith, I feel like I’m – I’m still just waiting for the day I disappoint you. I don’t want to do that. There’s nothing I want to do less than that. And if you’ve had a lot of time to think about this, and me, and what you – what you want from me, and I'm the only one…? I mean, I'm flattered, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not some sex god or something. Honestly just, like, overall, I’m a mess, and you – ”

Keith stares at Shiro wide-eyed, and it’s really all he can do not to burst into laughter, both in disbelief and relief, as he finally starts to fully understand where Shiro’s coming from. Still, Shiro looks so scared, so rattled, and no matter how ludicrous the thought of it is to Keith, there’s no doubt how serious Shiro is about this.

Shiro,” Keith says. “You gotta know by now you've never been that boy on the posters to me, right? No matter how much I’ve admired you – no matter how much I will always admire you, it’s always been because I know you.” He gives another squeeze to Shiro’s hand to emphasize his words. “I know you. That’s who I love.” Keith tugs a little on Shiro’s arm, scooting closer when he says, low and sincere, “That's who I want. Not some fantasy image I’ve never believed in that I've just projected all of my dreams on. I was never really all that impressed by that guy anyway. So.”

Shiro laughs, self-conscious and red-cheeked, before his smile turns thoughtful again. “…Guess I knew that from the moment you stole my car, right?” he murmurs.

“I’d hope so,” Keith replies, letting the silence between them settle for a moment, now that the tension in the air has shifted into something easier to deal with, when Keith doesn’t have just his thoughts and assumptions to sit with and panic over. “Shiro. I love you for who you are.”

“I know,” Shiro whispers, even though he still looks down when he says it. “But that’s… part of it? I’m not perfect.” He snorts, a short thing, and there’s hardly any humor in it. “I’m the furthest thing from perfect and it’s fucking terrifying to think that you know me better than anyone else and you still…” His voice trembles, and he lifts his eyes to find Keith’s own. “You look at me like no one else ever does, Keith. You look at me and I feel like I had no idea what it meant to be loved before I met you. And it’s like – sometimes when we’re not in the same room I’ll just think about you and it hurts not being able to reach out and touch you. To see you. I – I might’ve thought I loved people before but I’ve never felt the way I do around you. I love you so much I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.”

“Shiro…” Keith whispers, feeling as though he’s been punched in the gut by Shiro’s words.

“I’m so sorry,” Shiro says, as if this would ever be something Keith would need an apology for. “You deserve so much better than that.”

“I deserve better than the person I love the most loving me back?” Keith frowns, pressing the side of their thighs together and placing his other hand on top of where their fingers are still interlaced.

“Keith,” Shiro says, and now it sounds like he’s about to cry.

Shiro,” Keith replies, “don’t you get it? That’s how I feel about you too. And if you just let me, I’ll always be here for you.”

“But you can’t – you can’t promise me that.” Shiro hisses out a breath from between his teeth. “I get that. I don’t mean that I think you’d ever… God knows you’ve proven it enough times you won’t leave my side, and I love you for that, but that doesn’t mean that feelings can’t change. I’m not saying I lured you in and tricked you into thinking you want this, me, or something, but if I’m the only one you’ve ever felt that way about, what if you just think that because I’ve – ”

“Shiro,” Keith cuts him off sharply, reaching up to tug at one of the strings of his hoodie. “There is nothing – nothing – I could potentially be missing out on that I’d ever pick over you. Nothing. No one.”

“But you can’t know – ”

Shiro.” Keith yanks harder on the string and glares at him. “Shut the fuck up. I mean it. I don’t want anyone else. I don’t want to try with anyone else, or go out and look for something I don’t want just so I can come back a decade later or something when you might finally believe me. Don’t you think we’ve wasted enough time? Just because you’re the only one I’ve ever wanted doesn’t mean you’re the only thing I’ve known. Since I’m not a sixteen-year-old waiting for you to sweep me off my feet anymore you also gotta trust that I’m not, like, some clueless little kid with stars in my eyes for the guy who showed me the way to the stars.”

“Fuck, Keith.” Shiro lifts his Altean hand to press his fingers against his eyelids, hiding his face behind his palm.

“Shiro, hey,” Keith says, gentler now. “I’m not asking you to promise me forever or whatever when we just got together. We don't even have to talk about that right now if it’s too much for you to hear it, but that – it’s still what I want with you. And it’s all I’ll ever want. So if you want to shoot for it, too…” Keith moves his hand from the hoodie to touch Shiro’s face instead, the back of his knuckles stroking down his cheek until Shiro drops his hand to look at him again.

Still smoothing the pad of his thumb across the line of Shiro’s jaw, Keith says, “You don’t think I’m scared? You don’t think I’ve been terrified? I’ve loved you for so long and I never even thought we’d get here. I thought my whole life was just going to be me trying to find ways to be happy for you. Because you’re my best friend, and most of all I want you to be happy, but I didn’t think it could ever be with me.”

“Keith – ”

“No wait, just – just let me finish,” Keith cuts him off. “I still keep thinking about what I’ll do to finally push you away, too. When you’ll finally notice I couldn’t be that guy you’ve always seen when you look at me. That I couldn’t live up to it after all, no matter how much I’ve always wanted to be what you – ”

“No – no, no, Keith,” Shiro interrupts him anyway, reaching up to hold Keith’s face in his hands. “You have nothing to ‘live up to’. You’re perfect, just the way you are. I’ve never meant to make you feel otherwise.”

“You haven’t,” Keith says. “Not really. You’ve – … I've always felt like you’ve pushed me to do things because you wanted to show me what I can do for my own sake, you know?”

“Yeah… maybe. That doesn’t mean I didn’t still put too much on you a lot of the time, though.” Shiro twists his mouth, watching Keith intently while he strokes his thumb across the scar on Keith’s cheek. “I know I’ve expected stuff from you when you didn’t even want it, because I thought – ” His eyes flick away for a second, silence filling the air, neither of them wanting to acknowledge how Shiro spent a lifetime preparing himself for the fact that he wouldn’t be alive for long. “I just don’t want to do something like that now. Not with this. I know I’ve done it in the past and I’m sorry if – ”

“Don’t.” Keith uses the hand resting on Shiro’s face to pull him in close, leaning their foreheads together. “Please, Shiro. Don’t apologize for being the one person who has always believed in me. I can’t tell you what that’s always meant to me.”

Shiro lets out another shuddery breath before shaking his head. “Man… we’re really messed up, aren’t we?”

“Maybe a little,” Keith murmurs in agreement, huffing out a laugh before gently butting his forehead against Shiro’s own. “I’ve always liked being a mess as long as it’s with you, though.”

“God…” Shiro laughs too, closing his eyes for a moment. “Keith. Baby.”

“Yeah?” Keith whispers at the endearment, watching as Shiro opens his eyes again.

“If you still want that. If you still want me.” Shiro leans into the touch when Keith lifts his other hand to cup Shiro’s face in his palms, pulling him in to finally kiss him, close-mouthed and hard, desperate to feel the press of Shiro’s lovely mouth against his own. Keith tilts his face, following the natural push-and-pull of the kiss they fall into, as easily as if they’ve spent years learning how to be perfectly in sync for this.

Licking his lips once he breaks away, Shiro sighs, and then he says, as though it were a given, “You know the reason I’m scared of how much you love me is because I love you just as much, right? I mean I’ve – I guess I’ve been in love before, but I’m serious. I never want to fall in love again. I want this, us, until the end, too.” Shiro sucks in a breath. “And that’s such a weird fucking thing to say when you’ve just kissed, but I know it. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”

“It’s not weird to me,” Keith whispers. “But it’s fine if it scares you. We can be scared together. I just don’t want you to think I’m some kid with a daydream fantasy. You can’t treat me like I’m on a learning curve and you have to teach me stuff if we’re doing this. I love you. Whatever we are, I love you. I have friends now. I even have the fans, and – people might… flirt with me too, a lot of them actually, and I. I still just want you. Just you, Shiro. You have to trust me on that.”

“I do trust you,” Shiro says, and when Keith leans in, he tilts his chin up to meet him for another kiss. Shiro readily accepts it, pressing in harder against him, parting his lips and touching his tongue to Keith’s own, licking in deeper in no time. Keith’s breath hitches, and he would be happy to get lost in it – to kiss Shiro until his jaw aches and his heart has healed from any lingering hurt, to part his lips and move his mouth against Shiro’s until it’s all they know – but Shiro pulls away again.

Keith furrows his brows when Shiro doesn’t say anything, only clenches his jaw and squints his eyes at him for a long moment. “What’s wrong?”

“People flirt with you, huh?” Shiro says. “A lot of them?”

Unable to make out what the tone of Shiro’s voice means, Keith’s frown deepens. “Is that so surprising?”

“Not at all.” Shiro flicks his eyes down Keith’s body for a second, unsubtle in a way that makes warmth spread low between Keith’s hips. “I’d be insulted on your behalf if they didn’t, honestly. And it’s not like I assumed anything else, I’m just – getting a little jealous actually hearing about it.”

“Oh.”

“Not in a creepy way,” Shiro hurries out. His face softens, and Keith barely refrains from rolling his eyes, because of course Shiro would feel the need to clarify that. It’s sweet of him to do it, but there’s really no need for it. Shiro is the nicest man Keith knows, and if anything, hearing he can make Shiro react that way only makes Keith feel oddly proud and very turned on. “But if you want to be sure that I really don’t want you to find anyone else, I think whatever I’m feeling right now is pretty solid proof of it.”

Keith’s gaze falls to Shiro’s mouth. “And… whatever is it you’re feeling, exactly?” he asks, putting one palm on Shiro’s thigh, squeezing his fingers when Shiro leans in and shudders out a rough breath against Keith’s mouth.

“You keep that up and move that hand any higher, Keith,” he murmurs, “you’re soon going to find out.”

Keith’s not particularly proud of the noise he lets out, but he also can’t find it in himself to actually care.

He kisses Shiro again, unable to disguise his desperation any longer when he grabs Shiro’s face with both hands and scrambles up, trying to get closer, closer – needing to touch him all over so badly, Keith can’t stop himself, the blanket on his back falling off as he ends up flinging a leg over Shiro’s thighs to straddle him.

Shiro groans into his mouth, one hand grabbing behind Keith’s thigh to help him into his lap, while his other arm wraps around Keith’s waist to pull him up against Shiro’s chest. He kisses him back, and Keith barely spares a thought to how they’re at the edge of the roof, automatically trusting Shiro to keep him safe in his hold even as Keith whines and pants into his mouth.

“I want you, Shiro,” Keith gets out in the moments between their lips meeting. “All of you.” Sliding his hands in under Shiro’s hoodie, and then under the shirt he’s wearing beneath it, Keith’s palms skate across Shiro’s stomach to find his hips. “If you want me too.”

“Yeah.” Shiro cups the back of Keith’s neck, pulling him in for another kiss. “God, Keith, you have no idea. You’re the only one I want, and I want you so, so much, baby.”

Keith shudders out another breath in the small space between them, licking his lips before he says, “Even if… I might not know what I’m doing?”

“Keith.” Shiro laughs, sounding so sweetly carefree and happy now as he presses a kiss to one corner of Keith’s mouth. “I don’t care about that. I’m not some expert, I told you, it’s been years. I just – all I want is for it to be good for you. Because seriously, if you’ve had all this time to think about it…”

Keith grins when Shiro trails off, slipping his hands out from beneath Shiro’s hoodie to wrap them around his shoulders instead.

“Shiro. You were my first kiss and it was more perfect than anything I’ve imagined, and trust me, I've thought through pretty much every scenario possible. And it wasn't because it went anything like those fantasies, or because the – the technical aspects of it were perfect or something. And it’s not like I wasn’t just embarrassingly trying to keep up with you – or maybe not, since apparently you couldn’t tell, but I – … it was perfect because it was with you. You know? That’s always been enough for me. Just you. However much of yourself you want to share with me.”

Shiro leans in to nose at his temple, exhaling there. “Keith…”

“I mean, yeah, I might have jerked off to the thought of you teaching me how to suck your dick for like, more than half a decade by now – ” Keith ignores the whimper that leaves Shiro at that, “ – but that doesn’t mean I actually want it to be like some porno where you’re the stonefaced Admiral pulling me into your office to teach the juvie kid some ‘manners’. At least not for our first time.”

Shiro makes another noise; this time it sounds more like he’s choking on something, but Keith is determined to share his thoughts, so he bravely soldiers on.

“I just want to be with you,” Keith says. “In whatever way. If you want to sleep with me, I know it’ll be perfect no matter what, even if you’re into some weird shit, or – if you need me to keep my shirt on everytime we do it because you’re scared of nipples or something. Or if we end up at the hospital after I pull a muscle when I try to show off how impressively bendy I am.” Shiro squeaks again, but Keith’s on a roll, and he’s not stopping now, not when he’s already come this far. “Or what if I break my dick somehow because I get too enthusiastic about everything? That probably wouldn’t even surprise me that much, even though I fucking hope not. But speaking of being eager, I’ll probably come in like two seconds if you just put that big palm of yours high enough on my thigh, because you seriously make me think about fucking you, or getting fucked by you – whatever, having sex with you, so often I’m – ”

Keith,” Shiro cuts him off, his wheezing breaths approaching a register that could pass for a tea kettle by now.

“What?” Keith frowns.

“Holy shit.” Shiro grabs his face and kisses him so hard for so long that Keith is breathless when they pull apart, a loud smack sounding between them. “You can’t just – … god.”

What?” Keith says again, a little annoyed, because he was really getting into it, finally finding his groove in telling Shiro everything that he wants him to know.

“You can’t just say stuff like that – ”

“Why not? It’s true!”

Shiro groans, ducking down to tuck his forehead against Keith’s neck, simply hiding his face there for a moment before he starts kissing the skin, his hands sliding lower down Keith’s back. “Alright,” he mutters, still sounding breathless and disbelieving as his fingertips rub just above the start of Keith’s ass, “can’t say stuff like that and expect me not to want to have you, right here, right now.”

“Oh.” Keith tilts his head back further to give him better access when Shiro’s lips press another gentle kiss to his throat. “Shiro…” An embarrassing little whine leaves Keith as he starts to shift in Shiro’s lap, but then there’s a huff against his neck, followed by Shiro giggling. Keith pouts, the spell he’d gotten lost to slightly breaking. “What?”

Shiro’s smiling when he pulls back to look at Keith, his cheeks burning bright red. “Scared of nipples? Seriously, Keith? What the hell?”

“I don’t know, I – ” Keith sputters, “I was just listing some random scenarios!”

Shiro laughs, shaking his head as he hugs Keith tighter in his arms, before he squints his eyes at him. “I don’t think I’m into that much weird stuff.”

Keith lifts one hand to trace a fingertip across Shiro’s bottom lip. “No?”

“Nipples can be nice,” he murmurs and kisses Keith’s fingertip, one hand moving from Keith’s back to slide up his waist. Settling his palm on Keith’s chest, Shiro keeps his eyes on him as he strokes his thumb across the fabric over Keith’s right pec.

“I, uh. Take it that means you’re still into some weird shit, then?” Keith says and tries not to roll his hips down against Shiro’s crotch, but he can’t stop himself from arching his back into Shiro’s touch.

“Mm.” Shiro moves his hand away from Keith’s chest to tug at a lock of hair that hangs loose, falling low across the back of Keith’s neck. “Maybe I can tell you about it sometime. Once we’ve done this properly and you know for sure you’re not too disappointed to want to keep going.”

Shiro. You could never disappoint me. You’re perfect.”

Shiro scrunches his nose and looks away, glancing back with a shy smile. “How is it that you’re the one giving me a pep talk over all of this?”

“We've always been equal opportunities pep talkers, haven’t we?”

Shiro snorts, but after a moment his smile falls away. He sighs, face turning somber again. “I’m – really sorry for freaking out like that earlier, Keith.”

“It’s okay,” Keith says. “I’m sorry too. Guess I, uh. Still suck at reading the room, huh? I was just… imagining you freaking out in a different way. I feel really shitty now for not listening.” Keith twists his mouth, distracting himself by fiddling with the strings of Shiro’s hoodie. “You’re supposed to be able to tell me these things, too.”

Shiro shakes his head. “No. C’mon. I was a jerk about it. But… like you said, it’s okay, right? We’re both sorry. I could’ve been way more gentle with that. You’d just told me something so important, and I should’ve let you know it wasn’t because I don’t want to. That it wasn’t because I don’t want you.”

“You could always tell me now,” Keith says and shifts a little on Shiro’s lap again, testing the waters by settling down further, higher up on Shiro’s thighs, even closer to him. “If it’s still how you feel. We could… I mean, we could still – tonight? If you want to.”

Lifting an eyebrow as Keith puts his palms on Shiro’s chest, Shiro moves his own hands to squeeze Keith’s hips before he slides them down to rest on either side of Keith’s ass. Then Shiro leans in, brushing their lips so close Keith’s feels the ghost of Shiro’s touch, even though Shiro doesn’t fully close the space between them.

Instead he murmurs, with his voice so low it makes Keith shiver, “Oh, I definitely want to, baby.”

“Yeah?” Keith breathes out, that one word alone filled with so much desperation.

Shiro strokes a hand up to the middle of Keith’s thigh, splaying his palm out over the widest part of it and digging his thumb into the inner seam of Keith’s jeans.

“Do you want me to show you just how much, Keith?” Shiro says, and this time Keith’s the one who has to hide his face against Shiro’s neck instead.

Shiro,” Keith says, trying to keep still even as Shiro squeezes the hand on his thigh. “You – ah. The nipples thing might’ve been a joke, but I wasn’t kidding about that one. You can’t put that hand there, or I’m gonna…”

Shiro hums, sounding entirely too pleased as he simply keeps rubbing his hand on Keith’s thigh. “You know,” he murmurs in Keith’s ear, sighing out a breath when Keith can’t stop himself from shifting forward against him. “Not that we, ah. Have to go all out at once during our first time, but if you’re not too against the whole 'learning curve' angle in – certain select situations, I guess I could… teach you some things. You know? If you wanted me to indulge you in some of those fantasies of yours you mentioned earlier.”

Keith pauses with his lips on Shiro’s throat, his cheeks heating from those words, but he still pulls back, keeping his arms wrapped around Shiro’s shoulders. Maybe looking Shiro in the eyes should just make him feel even more flustered, but in some ways, Keith thinks, it’s almost easier like this.

Because no matter how easy Shiro makes it all sound to say stuff like that, Shiro’s still blushing all the way up to the tip of his ears as well.

“Yeah?” Keith licks his lips, and with as much confidence as he can muster up, he leans in to press a soft kiss to Shiro’s lips. Then he pushes through any second-guessing over potential embarrassment of his own and murmurs, “You want to teach me how to suck cock, Admiral Shirogane?”

“Keith – jesus.” Shiro ducks his head as he laughs, but there’s a desperate sort of hitch to it. His gaze flicks away for a moment like he doesn’t know where to look before he meets Keith’s eyes again. “And here I thought you didn’t like the idea of me dying.”

Keith laughs too, from the embarrassment and being in love and how cute Shiro is all at once. He hugs Shiro hard and kisses his cheek, his jaw, his neck, before tucking his nose against Shiro’s shoulder again to breathe him in for a moment. Shiro clings back, his hands stroking up and down the line of Keith’s spine.

“You’re not allowed to die from it,” Keith says and pulls back enough he can kiss Shiro on the lips, soft and sweet, “but… you want that? To teach me all those things? Show me how to do all of this? Be the first guy I sleep with?”

Keith.” Shiro lets out a desperate whine and catches his lips again, gripping Keith’s chin firmly with one hand to hold him in place. Licking into Keith’s mouth, Shiro coaxes the kiss deeper, until Keith groans and slides his own tongue into Shiro’s mouth, moaning when Shiro sucks on it.

They’re both breathing hard when they pull apart, and Keith can’t hold back his grin when Shiro keeps chasing after his lips. “So…” Keith says, breathless as he tilts his head back, just out of reach from Shiro’s eager mouth, “the weird thing you’re actually into is how I’m a virgin, huh?”

“Don’t say it like that, Keith,” Shiro groans against his mouth, but still, he doesn’t deny it.

Instead he nips at Keith’s bottom lip playfully, squeezing his hands where they’re holding Keith’s hips, so Keith widens his eyes and feigns innocence.

“What do you mean? I’m just telling you how it is…” Keith wriggles a little in Shiro’s lap, feeling the hard length of his dick right under his ass, until Shiro whines and tucks his face back against Keith’s neck. Stroking one hand over the short buzzed hair at the back of Shiro’s head, Keith presses his lips to his ear, and simply breathes there for a moment before he whispers, “No one else has ever touched me, Shiro. No one else will ever have me like this. You'll have to show me everything.”

Maybe Keith could try to tell himself he’s mostly saying it to cover up any of his own awkwardness. To pretend he’s just teasing Shiro with his shyness. That he’s exaggerating things so any nervous feelings he has can be laughed away. But if he's honest, Keith can’t deny how thrilling it is to remember how sweet and attentive Shiro has always been with him.

Keith shivers as he thinks about it; about Shiro murmuring praise while he shows Keith just how to touch him, letting Keith know how good he’s making Shiro feel whenever Keith does something right. Wondering if Shiro will get that soft adoring look in his eyes when Keith gets between his legs and he looks down at him; if Shiro will stroke a hand through Keith's hair once he finally takes Shiro into his mouth and finds out what it tastes like to suck him off; if Shiro will think Keith looks pretty with his lips stretched around his cock.

Maybe –

Maybe Shiro will even tell Keith that he’s proud of him, in that low lovely voice Shiro gets when he really means it.

Before Keith can examine those thoughts any further, Shiro grabs the back of his head and pulls him in, breathing out a shaky, “Fuck, Keith,” against his lips. Then he kisses him again, deep and demanding, and Keith whimpers into his mouth, both palms stroking through Shiro’s hair and grabbing onto his bangs.

“Oh, you – god, Shiro.” Keith moans as Shiro’s hands slide back to roughly grab his ass. “You really are into that?”

“I've – no. No.” Shiro breaks away, quickly shaking his head as they both try to catch their breath, staring at each other in the moonlight. “I – I mean I've never been before? Like it’s not a thing for me, I just…” Shiro swallows, and Keith watches the way his throat moves from it.

The hands on Keith’s ass give another squeeze, and Keith pushes back into the touch, biting his bottom lip when Shiro does it again, more deliberate this time, his big fingers practically kneading where they’re holding him.

“I’m into everything if it’s with you,” Shiro says, still sounding all sweet and sincere, even as he pulls Keith down against his crotch to practically grind up against him. “I think.”

“I’m – I’m glad you think so.” Keith gasps, trying to keep up with the tone of the conversation despite how badly he wants to be distracted by what he’s currently sitting on. “Both the – that, I mean, that you’d be into anything with me, because I feel the same way about you, but also… that it means you’re so into the fact that I’m a virgin.”

“Keith, I’m not into – ”

“Because I mean it, Shiro,” Keith shushes him. “You’re the only one I’ll ever want touching me like this. Only you, and you can do anything you want to me.”

Shiro stills their movements, but Keith doesn’t let him duck his head away again.

“Seriously, Shiro. I’m going to be so nervous.” Keith clutches at the neckline of Shiro’s hoodie with both hands, biting his bottom lip. “You’ll have to be so sweet, and so understanding… I won’t know what I’m doing, and you’ll have to teach me how to make it good for you. You’ll have to promise to make it good for me.”

Shiro’s breath shudders out of him, and then he kisses Keith with a growl. “Keith,” he says, pressing their mouths together between the words, “of course I’ll take care of you. I’m going to make you feel so good, baby, if you let me.”

Keith nods, resting his forehead against Shiro’s and keeping his lips parted before Shiro kisses him again. “Shiro… please – ”

“As long as you still want me to,” Shiro says, all heat and want in his voice now, “I’ll make you feel better than you’ve ever felt before. I promise.”

Keith whines against Shiro’s mouth as he clutches tightly onto Shiro’s shoulders. “Love… love how confident you sound about that,” he gets out.

“You don’t believe me?” Shiro says, something both possessive and challenging in his voice – like Keith is daring Shiro to prove it to him and there’s nothing Shiro’s more determined about than making sure it comes true.

“Of course I do, I meant it, I love it. Fuck, I – I love you.” Keith kisses him again and shifts forward, completely unashamed about how evident his want for Shiro is by now. “Wanna do the same for you. Want to make you feel better than you’ve ever felt before too, Shiro.”

“You will.” Shiro slips his hands in underneath Keith’s shirt to skim his fingertips across the bare skin of Keith’s waist. “Won’t even matter what we do, baby, anything will be perfect if it’s with you.”

Keith chuckles softly around his gasp, closing his eyes. “You don’t have to be so sweet and reassuring about it when I’m trying to tell you I want to be good for you… and I want you to show me how to make that happen for you.”

Shiro sucks in a sharp breath, closing his eyes. “God, I don’t even know why I – ” He lets out a suffering moan, shaking his head. “Why is that so fucking hot? It shouldn’t – ”

“Because it’s with you,” Keith reminds him, even if Shiro might have just been thinking out loud and not asked it as an actual question.

“Keith.” Shiro opens his eyes, moving his hands to hold Keith’s face. “God, baby…”

“Shiro,” Keith whispers. “Take me back to your room?”

The sentence isn’t even finished before Shiro kisses him again, nodding as he moans against Keith’s mouth. Then he urges Keith off his lap, and Keith scrambles to stand up as fast as he can while Shiro slides his hand down the small of Keith’s back, over his ass, coming to rest at the back of Keith’s thigh. Keith’s barely on his feet before he turns around, grabbing Shiro’s hand in his own instead to pull him up as well.

Their giggles fill the air as both of them waste no time before stumbling back towards the door leading inside, Keith laughing in delight as Shiro wraps his arms around his waist to pull Keith back up against his chest.

“Wait, wait,” Keith says just as they reach the door and Shiro tucks his nose against Keith’s neck, remembering he left the blanket he brought on the ground. “I forgot the blanke–”

“Leave it,” Shiro says and reaches down to shamelessly palm Keith over his pants, making Keith groan out loud. He stumbles half a step forward, Keith's palm coming up to slam against the door as he tries to steady himself on something.

Shiro – ah – ” Keith’s eyelids flutter shut as Shiro grinds his hips forward against his ass and breathes out a moan in Keith’s ear. “Fuck, let’s – let’s not… don’t make me come out here – ”

Shiro’s hand pauses, and then he laughs breathlessly against the hair hanging loose at Keith’s neck. He presses a kiss there, before Shiro reaches up to open the door for them instead.

Keith tries to wriggle out of his hold, tries to start walking just so they can actually get somewhere. Because if he turns around to look at Shiro, Keith’s not so sure he will be able to stop himself from just pressing Shiro up against a wall and kiss him until they both lose themselves in it – but Shiro stops him from getting anywhere by reaching out and grabbing his palm.

“Keith, wait,” Shiro says, tugging him back and turning Keith around by putting his hands on Keith’s hips. Keith swallows, staring down at their feet for a moment as Shiro holds him in his arms, before he finally flicks his eyes up, watching Shiro smile down at him. Warm and adoring, despite the heat in his eyes and the way his touch sparks on Keith’s skin.

“Yeah?”

“I love you.” Shiro lifts his hand, cupping Keith’s chin and stroking his thumb below his bottom lip before leaning in. Keith’s breath makes a soft sound in the silence of the night air around them. His eyelids flutter shut on instinct as he waits for the feeling of Shiro’s lips against his mouth, but the kiss lands on Keith’s cheek instead, a sweet press only for a brief moment. Then Shiro whispers, “More than anyone else in the whole world. Universe. If there are bigger places out there we don’t know about yet, I love you more than anyone else there, too.”

Unable to hold back his silly wide smile, his heart so at ease and at peace now, all his worries gone, Keith’s cheeks bloom red with self-conscious joy, like it’s the first time Shiro’s told him those words all over again. Suddenly he feels so happy he wants to both cry and laugh and jump into Shiro’s arms and kiss him for three weeks straight with no one else around them.

Keith settles for just smiling wider – at least for now – and reaches up to hold Shiro’s wrists in his hands instead. “I love you more than anyone else that ever has or ever will exist too, Shiro,” he says, and pushes up on his tiptoes. Just a little, not so much because he really has to, but because he likes the way it makes him feel so small compared to Shiro when he does it, and kisses him again. “Now will you please take me back to your bed and get naked with me like you’ve promised, or are you just going to keep making me wait for you forever?”

There’s no laugh from Shiro, no time for as much as a smile, because his mouth is immediately preoccupied as he grabs Keith’s face with both hands and kisses him again. Shiro licks past Keith’s lips and moans around his tongue, and Keith stumbles backwards, back into the building, urged on by Shiro’s own steps until he’s turned around again by Shiro’s hands.

Keith’s not even sure how they manage to get there – not when Shiro keeps touching him the whole time; his palms stroking over Keith’s waist and his lips mouthing at Keith’s neck, until Keith grabs Shiro’s hands in his own and squeezes their fingers together tightly – but they somehow make it back to the hall leading to Shiro’s room.

Keith gets spun around again, almost like Shiro not only can easily manhandle him, but he likes to do it – and god oh god oh god that thought does so much to Keith, he can’t think

His back hits the door leading to Shiro’s room, and Shiro crowds in close, pinning Keith in place as he looks down at him. Both of them watch each other in the dimly lit hall outside Shiro’s quarters, their breathing coming heavy in the silence stretching between them.

“So…” Shiro finally murmurs. “Last chance. Still wanna do this?” His eyes widen, realization sinking in over what he said. “I mean – no, that came out wrong, of course not. You can tell me any time and we’ll stop but I – ”

Keith cranes his neck to kiss him quiet, huffing out a laugh and shaking his head even as Shiro kisses him back and presses up harder against him. “You’re so dumb sometimes,” Keith mutters. “You know that? The best there is, my favourite person ever, and I love you for it, but. Still. Really dumb.”

Shiro laughs too, his chest shaking from it where he’s pressed up against Keith’s body. “You’re a little dumb, too, sometimes. So I guess that means we match. Which is pretty cute, I’d say.”

Keith thumps his head back and laughs louder, holding Shiro close in his arms as he does. Tilting his head to the side, Keith lets his smile melt into something softer as he takes in the sight of his boyfriend – Shiro with his tousled hair and a happy smile on his face that pulls the skin around the scar across his nose tight.

Reaching up to where Shiro has his left palm resting against the door next to Keith’s head, Keith circles his fingers around his wrist. Still keeping his eyes on Shiro, Keith moves their hands towards the scanner to unlock the doors, until Shiro gets the hint and presses his palm flat against it.

Keith shifts his weight away from the doors at the familiar blip of them unlocking before they slide open, and Shiro’s arms fall back to his side as he stands still and watches Keith.

Smiling again, Keith reaches out to grab the front of Shiro’s hoodie, walking backwards and tugging Shiro along with him.

Shiro exhales with a small huff before he stumbles after him, the doors sliding shut behind them as soon as they're inside, like the ATLAS knows they’re both where they should be now.

“Still okay?” Shiro asks as he puts his hands on Keith’s hips and steps back into his space.

Stomach fluttering, chest blooming with excitement, Keith tilts his chin up, and keeps the smile on his face when he nods.

It’s Shiro.

“Yeah,” Keith says. “Yeah, it’s okay.”

He moves his hands in under Shiro’s hoodie to start pushing it up, and Shiro lifts his left arm without hesitation to let Keith pull it off of him completely, over his head, and drop it to the floor.

Breath shaking out of him when Shiro steps back into his arms shirtless, Keith captures his lips with his mouth and puts his hands on Shiro’s bare skin, sliding his palms up his abs and past his chest to hold Shiro’s neck.

Shiro kisses him back, and when he starts walking Keith backwards towards the bedroom, Keith easily lets himself be guided.

It's just Shiro.

Whatever they go through, in the end, as long as it’s with him, Keith knows it will always be okay.