It was far from the first time that the Paladins of Voltron were invited to a gala to celebrate after they freed a planet from Galra rule, but it was the first time that Keith had been unable to get out of it. The Uzil had already gifted them outfits and the plans were set faster than Keith could avoid.
Social gatherings weren't the sort of thing Keith would ever choose to go to. There were too many strangers and eyes starring like they expected something from him but he didn’t know what. People would pair off and whisper and even in crowded rooms he always wound up feeling alone.
At least the food was good and hiding out wasn't difficult. Keith managed to snag a tray of something that looked like shrimp but tasted like corndogs and was on his second glass of something he was beginning to suspect was alcoholic. He took his food and found himself a quiet place to ride out the party near the edge of town.
The sun was going to be setting soon, and one of planet's three moons had already risen high into the sky, with the second just barely visible over the horizon. Night wouldn't be the end to the festivities, Keith knew. Once the sun set the silk lanterns generously strung throughout the village would keep light over them until morning. Even with his distance from the town square, Keith could hear the light-hearted beat of songs and instruments he didn't recognize. He took a long drink from his cup and the party felt further away.
There weren't many Uzil this far from the heart of the party, which Keith was grateful for. He'd endured hours of diplomacy and small talk so he deserved to enjoy the festival on his own terms. A human figure walking his way told Keith that it wouldn't be so easy.
Keith considered hiding between the houses but decided against the effort. He popped another shrimp/corndog into his mouth and watched as the figure grew closer. He was a bit surprised to see that it was Lance and not Shiro. The blue tunic he was given to wear by the Uzil shone and shimmered in the sunset as if it was glowing itself and Keith found himself thinking not for the first time that Lance really was beautiful.
"Hey Keith!” Lance shouted and waved as he jogged the remaining distance between them. “Is this where you’ve been the whole time?” Keith just shrugged.
“We were all wondering where you went. Pidge thought you were dead. She already called dibs on your knife." Lance instantly dove into conversation. That didn’t surprise Keith, and he actually enjoyed the way his voice filled the silence. Listening was easier than talking. Lance continued to chatter about Keith’s group-mandated will while Keith focused on the way his eyes lit up and his hands waved enthusiastically as he spoke. These were all things he’d noticed before, and tried not to notice. It was harder now, Keith realized as he took another drink from his cup. Definitely alcoholic.
“You know, Shiro was asking where you went.” Lance said after his story wound down and Keith had yet to say anything.
"Of course he did." Keith sighed. “Where is he?”
“Oh, Allura sent him back to the ship. He drank like, six glasses of that alien wine and started seducing the prince.” Lance grinned widely, barely holding back his laughter. “He must have been five minutes away from getting into that royal bed before Allura stepped in!”
“I doubt it would have worked out.” Keith said. “I mean honestly, what are the odds that humans and Uzil have compatible genitalia.”
Lance’s eyes went wide like saucers and for a second Keith regretted opening his mouth, then Lance burst out laughing. “You can’t just say that!” He cried. “‘Compatible genitalia’ holy crow, Keith, you’re a funny guy.”
Keith brought his drink to his lips to hide his smile.
“What are you doing all the way out here? You should be partying with the rest of us.” Lance said after a moment of silence passed between them.
“I’m here. Isn’t that enough?”
“No.” Lance shook his head and reached out to tug on Keith’s arm. “You need to dance with someone.”
"I don't dance."
"Don't or can't?" Lance leaned forward, his eyes glinting with something that Keith couldn't quite place.
"Why does that even matter?"
"Hmm, uh-huh. Spoken like a man who can't dance." Lance shook his head and exaggerated a sigh. "Looks like the master is going to have to teach you!" He snagged the now empty plate from Keith as well his cup and placed them on the ground out of the way.
Keith scoffed. "And what exactly makes you the master? The Garrison made everyone take dance lessons freshman year. You don't know any more than anyone else."
Lance waved him off. "If my words can't convince you then I'll just have to prove it with my body." He added a flirty wink and shimmied his shoulders dramatically.
As much as Keith didn't want to encourage him, he couldn't help but laugh. Lance grinned triumphantly and took Keith's hands in his.
"Come on, dance with me."
Keith looked into Lance's eyes, searching for something to indicate this was all a joke at his expense, something he could be mad at but found nothing. The confidence in Lance’s expression faded quickly, to be replaced by anxiety as his eyes darted between Keith’s face and their hands. Keith shifted their hands to hold onto Lance tightly before either of them could slip away from embarrassment.
“Fine. Let’s dance.” Keith said, and Lance’s face melted into joy once more.
“Hunk has been teaching the Uzil how to waltz,” Lance started to say, moving his hands to lead Keith into the dance, “Wanna do that? I can help you if you don’t remember all the steps.”
Keith nodded dumbly and stared down at their feet, then back at Lance, unsure of where to put his hands. He tried desperately to remember the class they took a lifetime ago but his mind was foggy, both from the drink and from Lance. Lance had one hand on his waist and the other was still gripping Keith’s hand. He decided to mirror Lance and put his free hand on his waist. Lance raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything. He took the first step without warning and Keith quickly stepped back to match. Keith stared at their feet trying to find out where Lance was going to move so he wouldn’t step on his feet. He wouldn’t have realized how obvious he was being if Lance hadn’t started laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Keith asked through his teeth. He doesn’t dance, he told Lance that, so why should he surprised that he’s so bad at it?
"You said you could dance." Lance said, a hint of smirk gracing his lips. "Never took you for a liar."
"No." Keith could feel his face heating up with embarrassment and he tried to cover it with an air of annoyance. "What I actually said was that we all took the same dance classes at the Garrison. That's true. I never said the lessons stuck."
"You implied it then."
"Maybe I did, but I never said it."
Lance’s perfect blue eyes looked over him for a long moment, as if he were carefully measuring Keith’s words, before he laughed out loud. “Alright, you got me there, weirdo. Let me teach you then.” He didn’t wait for Keith to respond. He took hold of Keith’s hand and moved it from his waist to his shoulder. “We can’t both lead, you know.” He said with a smile. “Now follow me, and don’t stare at your feet. It won’t help, I promise.”
It was weird dancing with Lance. That was the only way Keith could think to describe it. It was weird to feel his hand on his waist and look into his eyes. This wasn’t something that Keith thought about happening. He definitely thought about being close to Lance, holding him, being held, kissing him, but he never could have thought that Lance would do this. It was weird.
Lance pulled him along gently and Keith found that the steps to the dance were easy. He hardly even noticed that time had passed until they stopped, and then it felt like nothing at all and Keith wanted it to continue. Lance’s hands hadn’t moved, and Keith had no intention of moving his. He leaned in just a bit, lips pursed into a thin line as he scrutinized Lance’s expression like a puzzle he was so close to figuring out.
“What are you doing?” Lance breathed.
“Haven’t decided yet.” Keith replied.
Lance didn’t look away, and neither did Keith. Both held their breath as if the slightest disturbance might ruin whatever it was that was happening.
Lance let go first.
Lance let go of Keith’s hand, first loosening his grip and waiting for a beat for Keith to follow suit before moving to press it against Keith’s cheek.
“What are you doing?” Keith said softly, a teasing tone to his voice.
“Well I,” Lance began then stopped, huffing and looking away. “I don’t know! I still don’t know what you’re doing.”
“I am two cups into that weird alien wine and you’re the one who insisted on dancing.” Keith said. “If anyone should have an answer it’s you.”
Lance didn’t say anything at first. The moment lingered on and felt heavy on Keith’s skin, heavier than Lance’s hand on his cheek, anxiety squirming and bubbling in his veins urging him to just run away before anything could happen to jeopardize the precarious stalemate that was their relationship. But the way that Lance looked at him, blue eyes wide and curious and seeing only him, that made it impossible to move away. He was transfixed by the way the light of the moons and the setting sun illuminated every inch of Lance’s skin. Keith could count every freckle if he wanted to, and oh how he did want to. He could see a faint scar on his jawline, and another an inch below his eye. He could see the way Lance’s hair had started to darken at the roots without the constant exposure to the desert sun. For all the things that Keith could see, he couldn't see what Lance was thinking.
“Y’know, if this were a movie, this is the part where we’d kiss.”
The words hung in the air, somehow even heavier than the silence they had just endured.
“Do you want me to?”
The words fell out so quickly that Keith almost wasn't sure if he had said it until he saw Lance nod. It was barely more than a twitch of the chin and Keith was on him, pushing their lips together quickly and awkwardly. Lance used his hand on his cheek to guide him into a better angle and all Keith could think about was the way Lance’s lips somehow tasted like sea salt.
When they finally pulled apart Keith breathed softly, “So what happens next? Y’know, in all the movies.”
“I think,” Lance grinned, sweet and genuine and beautiful, “We should kiss again. And dance, definitely dance and kiss some more.”
“Sounds good to me.” Keith smiled, he couldn’t help himself, Lance’s was so infectious and it was all for him. So maybe, just maybe, these dances weren’t such a bad thing all the time.