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Not As It Seems

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It started when Keith was struggling to make ends meet. Walking past the Balmera Grinds was the chance of a lifetime. The stark Now Hiring drew Keith in.

Passing the interview with flying colors, he started working part time at the cute, in-the-wall cafe. The customers were a little odd, but Keith kept his mouth shut and did his job.

Then came in probably the hottest guy he’d ever seen. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like his personality would be great. It turned out that the guy was also the biggest flirt Keith had ever met. And Keith knew Matt . The both of them were utterly shameless about it too.

“The name’s Lance,” the guy purred, grinning at Keith. Keith maintained a bored expression, one he had learned from years of practice.

“Your drink will be ready in a few minutes,” Keith replied in a monotone voice. With ease, Keith fixed the otherly fancy drink and slid it across the counter top. “Here you go.”

Lance grinned at him. “Gracias!”

Keith didn’t think he’d see him too often. He was wrong, Lance was some sort of caffiene addict or that much of a lover of it he’d stop by several times a day for more.

**

 

Keith fiddled the settings on his camera. Unfortunately sometimes being a freelance photographer it was sometimes hard to find jobs. He chose to be a photographer. There was something just so amazing about capturing little moments.

Catching the expressions in a split moment or an action that will never happen again. Keith loved it. But it only paid when you get hired or sold pictures.

Raising the camera, Keith peered through the sights and pressed the button. The familiar click as the camera captured the moment.

Moving through the park, Keith continued to take pictures of whatever caught his eye. Settling on a person, Keith’s breath caught.

The person threw their head, laughing deep with his whole body. Lance.

A shorter person elbowed Lance in the side, making him stop — Keith told himself not to be disappointed — and pout at them. The third person with them was taller and broader then them, but wore a huge, happy grin.

All three of them frequented the Balmera Grinds . Keith wasn’t sure what their names were, but they appeared to be all friends. Good friends at that.

Raising his camera again, Keith looked through it. Lance disappeared with a blur. The short dirty blonde’s appearance changed… a lot. Smiles… his eyes glowed golden.

Peering over the camera, Lance was nowhere in sight. The other two were turned towards Keith, but not looking at him.

Busying himself, Keith took a picture of the oak tree and pretended nothing was wrong.

On his way home, he saw Lance again. Laughing and talking with his friends. Keith looked at him through his phone’s camera. Same as before.

If this was the kind of customers that frequented the cafe, then it was no normal cafe.

 

**

 

“Yes, you should come to my work,” Keith persisted. “Shiro, really it’s fine! I know you’ve been wanting to check it out.”

Shiro sighed over the phone line. “This isn’t because I’m… you know what right?”

“Yes!”

“Really?”

Yes .”

 

**

 

Lance grinned at him across the counter. Keith ignored the jump in his pulse.

“The usual?”

“Awwww, you know me so well,” Lance cooed.

Apparently not that well , Keith thought to himself. Not that he could blame the other, it’s not like they were friends or anything.

“Coming right up.” Lance chattered along as always. Keith blurted out, “What do you do?”

Lance froze. “What?”

“Like… do you go to college? Or do you have a job? I don’t actually know too much about you. Past your hobbies and stuff,” Keith elaborated, fixing the fancy coffee drink methodically.

“I thought you weren’t interested,” Lance admitted, the shocked expression melting away to something softer.

“You seem interesting,” Keith commented. “Plus my brother constantly telling me that I need to branch out and make friends.”

“Oh?”

Keith shrugged one shoulder. “Yeah. Here you go.”

A smile lit up Lance’s face. “See you around.”

 

**

 

Lance continued to show up consistently per day for his coffee and in the park, just walking around. Since Keith had responded, they started to talk more. Keith had learned that Lance had a big family with lots of siblings, a freelance author (mainly children’s books, but some fantasy and romances), he lived with his two friends Pidge and Hunk, and loved animals.

Keith had too Lance about Shiro and Adam, his freelance photography, living on his own, and also loved animals.

Their conversations always spiraled. Occasionally, on Keith’s break, they’d sit together and talk until Keith had to go back to work.

 

**

 

Shiro nodded at Keith as he entered the cafe, Adam by his side. Lance followed his line of sight.

“Do you know them?”

“Yeah,” Keith admitted with a soft voice. Stirring his drink with his straw, Keith continued, “They are my friends. Shockingly.”

“Shockingly?”

“After all the crap I put them through,” Keith murmured under his breath. From Lance’s raised eyebrow, Keith knew he had heard him, but wisely chose not to push it.

“Hey!” Adam greeted, sitting beside Keith. The younger man wrinkled his nose.

“Shiro, your old man is pushing me over,” Keith complained. Adam hit his shoulder lightly.

“Hardy harhar. Shiro’s the old one.”

“Oooohhhh, Shiro! Your hubby sold you out!” Keith stage whispered.

Shiro rolled his eyes playfully. “Oh, is that right?”

Keith leaned towards Lance conspiringly. “They are obnoxiously in love.” Twin eyerolls from the couple as they kissed again. “See!”

“Oh shush child,” Adam scolded jokingly.

“I’m 25, I’m not a child.”

“You’re younger than me, you’ll always be a child to me.”

Keith rolled his eyes as he elbowed Adam in the ribs. Missing the silent conversation between Shiro, Adam, and Lance.

“I’ll leave you guys to it,” Lance announced, standing up. “It was good to talk with you, Keith.” Nodding at Adam and Shiro. “Nice meeting you.”

“You have to leave already?” Keith asked, not able to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Lance offered him a smile, not nearly as genuine as the previous ones.

“Unfortunately, books don’t write themselves.”

Keith nodded, disappointment aching in his chest. “Good luck on it! You’ll have to tell me how it’s going next time.”

“Yeah, for sure.”

Keith watched Lance leave the cafe. The couple shared a look.

“You’re pining,” Adam stated.

Pink flush crept up his cheeks.

“Oh bugger off,” Keith grumbled, sliding down in his seat as his companions grinned smugly at him.

 

**

 

Two days pasted, no sign of Lance. Keith brushed it off, surely Lance just got busy.

 

**

 

A week pasted, no sign of Lance. Keith tried not to worry. Lance had chose to spend time to him, surely Keith hadn’t chased him off.

 

**

 

Two weeks pasted, still sign of Lance. Keith tried to argue against the little dark voice in the back of his head. Whatever was going on, Lance hadn’t had time to get Keith up to date before everything had happened. That’s what he told himself, but he struggled to believe it.

 

**

 

Three weeks, not a single sign of Lance. Keith hadn’t even seen his friends. He wanted answers. What had happened? Did he do something wrong? Was something wrong? What is it?

Keith steeled himself, he was going to find answers one way or another. If only for his peace of mind.

 

**

 

He hadn’t expected to see Lance that night. Walking down the empty street alone. Keith hurried up to catch up to Lance.

“Lance!” Keith called out, glancing both ways before jaywalking across the street. “Lance.”

“Keith? What are you doing out at this time of night? It’s dangerous out,” Lance said, stopping and turning towards him.

“Hey,” Keith answered, breathless. Lance’s usual glow was lacking, he looked exhausted, his cheeks appeared hollow, almost a little starved. It reminded Keith of Adam, how he’d get that when he hadn’t drank in a while.

“I’d love to stay and talk but I really need to get home,” Lance said, his voice tired.

“What happened? I haven’t seen you in weeks .”

Lance winced. “I’m sorry about that.”

Keith didn’t miss how Lance’s eyes kept darting to his throat. It confirmed his theory, but brought more questions to mind.

Closing his eyes, Lance rubbed them and sighed deeply. “I should head home.”

“Wait, Lance,” Keith blurted out, catching his arm before Lance could move, “what’s wrong?”

Keith ,” Lance groaned. A sheen of sweat breaking out, his eyes darkening.

Lance .”

He blacked out.

 

**

 

“I know! I know! ” A familiar voice exclaimed loudly. Keith groaned softly. “Keith?”

“You’re loud,” Keith groaned, feeling the ache in his shoulder. Not unfamiliar. Just in a different spot from normal.

“You’re okay!”

Keith opened an eye. “Geez, how old are you? I doubt you’re that inexperienced.”

Lance gapped at him. “I thought I might’ve taken too much.”

Sitting up, Keith took in his surroundings. He was on a couch, there was a doorway, beanbags in the far left corner, a TV stood to his left a few feet, Hunk and Pidge stood watching him silently, further to the right stood two bookshelves, and then a hallway.

Turning to Lance, Keith beckoned him with his hand. Scooting closer, Lance bit his lip, drawing Keith’s attention to his fangs. The vampire seemed to realize and stopped biting his lip. He made a move to pull away, but Keith caught the front of his shirt.

“Can I kiss you?” Keith asked, pulling the taller man closer.

“I - uh, what?”

Keith leaned forward, the familiar fog left over from a bite had already waned. “I. Want. To. Kiss. You. May I?” Keith asked slowed.

The beautiful blue eyes stared at him shocked. “You want to kiss me ? I like —“

Keith slapped a hand over the vampire’s mouth and gave him an unamused look. “I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to. Just remember to ask before biting next time .”

Lance spluttered. “You know?”

With shrug, Keith slung his arms over Lance’s shoulders. “Shiro took me in, a mix of a pseudo dad and brother. Adam was his fiancé at the time. I was 12. Curtis came in later. It’s not hard to figure it out when you’ve been watching for the signs when someone can be an ass about ignoring his needs occasionally.” Keith poked Lance’s cheek. “Adam is good about it for the most part, but Curtis can overwork his ass like crazy and forget to drink . I’m the only actual human in the fam jam.”

Lance stared at Keith with shock clear in his face.

“You’re not bothered by it?”

Keith snorted. “The only thing that bothers me about it is that they are going to out live another person,” Keith admitted with a slightly bitter tone. “I know what they’ve been though. It’s been enough.”

“You care about them a lot.”

“They are my family.”

“Ah.”

“You still haven’t answered my question.”

“Oh.”

Lance leaned in, eyes flicking between Keith’s eyes and lips. Keith drug him into a soft kiss, sighing into it.

“Ewww, you guys! Don’t makeout in the middle of the living room.”

“Pidge,” Hunk said, chuckling. “They are finally not pining.”

Still . Making out in the living room is off limits!”

Keith snorted and leaned on Lance. Exhaustion suddenly making its way into Keith.

“‘M go’na sle’p,” Keith slurred, his eyes slipping closed.