Keith first notices it right before lunch, in a meeting with some representatives from New Olkarion and their new neighbors, the Griven. The Griven claim to be happy to help the Olkari, and they could, what with their advanced technology and plentiful natural resources, but they're still being stingy and Keith can see the effort it's costing Shiro to not call them out on it in the middle of the meeting.
Most people wouldn't even notice, but when it comes to Shiro, Keith's had plenty of practice watching him. It's in the slight tick of the muscle at the hinge of his jaw, the flash of annoyance in his eyes. It's in the rigid way he holds himself that is somehow imperceptibly different from his normal military bearing.
He seems a little better when they meet for lunch. Some of the tension leaves his shoulders when Keith pulls him into a kiss, but it's still there. Still enough for Keith to notice, enough for a plan to begin to take root in the back of his mind.
By the time Shiro makes it back to their quarters that evening, he's exhausted. His uniform jacket is off and tossed on the back of a nearby chair before he even registers that Keith's standing nearby instead of relaxing in the bedroom, leaning against the wall of the entryway, arms crossed over his chest as he watches Shiro try to shrug off his day.
"Hey, baby," Shiro says with a smile, because he always has a smile for Keith. He leans in for a kiss, which Keith is more than happy to give, the warm press of lips at once familiar and exhilarating.
Keith sinks into the kiss for a moment, then places his hands on Shiro's shoulders, pressing him back gently. Putting that space between them is harder than he'd like to admit, but it's necessary, to get Shiro what he needs.
"I picked up some dinner. Why don't you go shower before we eat?"
There's nothing particularly telling about what he says, or even the words he chooses to say it. It's all in the tone, a little deeper and more commanding than what he usually uses at home, and in the gentle but unyielding way Keith moves Shiro back with his hands on his shoulders. Shiro's eyes widen for a moment when they meet Keith's as understanding hits him, and then his stance goes a little more relaxed, as if all his joints loosened just a hint at whatever just passed between them.
"Alright," Shiro agrees easily, taking a step back. "I'll be quick."
"Take your time," Keith says. "Dinner will still be here, and so will I." Shiro's expression goes a little soft at that, and he leans in for one more quick kiss before disappearing back into the bedroom. Keith gives him a few minutes to get started, then puts the food in the oven to warm up and heads in.
Shiro doesn't seem too surprised when Keith slips into the shower with him, merely cracking an eye open to give him an appreciative once-over.
"Take my time, huh?"
"I wanted to make sure you weren't rushing things," Keith says innocently, lips curling up in a smile. "Here, tilt your head back."
He takes far longer to wash Shiro's hair than strictly necessary, running gentle fingers through his hair and scratching blunt nails over his scalp in a way that makes him sigh. When the strawberry-scented shampoo has all been rinsed away under the near-scalding water, Keith reaches for the conditioner, a luxury he knows Shiro rarely takes the time for, and repeats the whole process over again.
Shiro voices only a mild objection when Keith takes up the washcloth and body wash, a protest that dies in his throat at the stern look Keith gives him. Without any words exchanged, he acquiesces, letting Keith turn him this way and that, lifting his arms and dropping them obediently as indicated.
Keith washes him thoroughly from head to toe, with an attention to detail that should be embarrassing. It isn't. It also isn't sexual, even when Keith washes him between his legs and Shiro inevitably becomes hard. Keith is gentle, not teasing or purposefully arousing, but he also doesn't go out of his way to provide any relief. Shiro whines a little when Keith moves on, kneeling in front of him to wash his legs and feet, but he manages to keep the noise buried in his throat, so quiet Keith almost misses it.
When Keith turns the water off, he steps out of the shower first, holding a towel open for Shiro to step into. He uses a second towel to dry off Shiro's hair, then uses that towel to dry himself off as Shiro dresses in the tank top and soft flannel pajama pants Keith had brought in for him.
Dinner is simple but delicious, pork fried rice from Shiro's favorite Chinese restaurant in town. Keith gives him the extra egg roll and gets up partway through dinner to get him a second beer. Most importantly, though, he steers conversation pointedly away from anything work-related. They talk about their ongoing renovations at the house out in the desert, Matt and Pidge's latest AI project, Allura's upcoming baby shower -- anything and everything except anything involving the Coalition.
Shiro seems to relax a little more over the course of the meal, which is exactly what Keith wanted, but still not good enough. Every few minutes when there's a lull in conversation, Shiro's eyes flick up to Keith's expectantly, as if he's waiting for something.
By the time they're done eating and Keith stands, he can practically see Shiro thrumming with anticipation.
"Come to bed with me?" Keith phrases it as a question, but his tone says it isn't.
"The dishes," Shiro protests weakly.
"They'll still be here in the morning," Keith replies firmly. "Bed."
In the bedroom, Keith presses Shiro back into the bed, and Shiro goes easily, eyes fixed on Keith's as he tugs Shiro's shirt up and off.
"Roll over," Keith instructs him once he's tossed the shirt to the side.
Shiro raises one eyebrow. "Right to it, then?"
Keith's lips quirk up, but his tone is even more firm when he speaks again. "Roll over, Shiro." The way Shiro's eyes go dark at that is incredibly validating, and Keith smiles as he obeys without any further protests. "Good," Keith says, voice low as he runs a hand down Shiro's back. Shiro shudders, though whether that's due to the touch or the praise is up for debate.
After retrieving the lotion he'd set by the bed for this purpose, Keith straddles Shiro's hips and sets to work, running his hands up and down his back, digging the pads of his fingers into each bunch of muscles. Little by little, Shiro relaxes, going loose-limbed and warm under Keith's touch, which was really Keith's goal for this portion of the evening.
Keith works his way down, working his hands deep into the muscles of Shiro's lower back, then pulling off his pajama pants to continue working. He presses the palms of his hands into Shiro's glutes, spreading the warmed lotion and relaxing muscles while avoiding the temptation of going any further. Instead, he moves down to Shiro's thighs, though he indulges himself in bending down to press a warm, open-mouthed kiss to Shiro's lower back as he does so.
It was Shiro who taught him this, really. He had to learn how to have patience, even in this, how drawing things out could heighten the pleasure in the end. Once he figured out that Shiro sometimes liked this, liked being told what to do, not having to make any decisions for a little while, it was easy to combine the two, though having Shiro stretched out naked and wanting underneath him and not immediately acting on that is always a challenge.
Keith's always enjoyed a challenge, though. He takes a deep breath, pushes his own arousal aside, and moves on.
By the time he makes it down to Shiro's ankles, working the muscles of Shiro's legs thoroughly, it's impossible to miss how his hips keep hitching ever so slightly, pressing forward into the bed.
"Ah, ah," Keith scolds lightly, reaching out to place a hand on Shiro's hips. "Stay still for me, babe. I want to take my time." Shiro goes still instantly, but he looks over his shoulder at Keith, expression pleading. "Trust me," Keith says, and Shiro's expression softens.
"I do," he replies, and the simple honesty in the statement is momentarily overwhelming.
Keith smiles and leans in, kissing his way up Shiro's back, warm and soft from Keith's attentions. He pauses at the top of Shiro's spine, mouthing at the sensitive skin there and enjoying the full-body contact from where he's stretched out over the length of Shiro's body. He reaches under the pillow to find the lube he stashed there earlier as he rolls his hips down, letting Shiro feel how hard he is already, just from touching him. Shiro gasps and pushes back up against him, at which point Keith immediately pushes up and off, standing up and eliminating all contact between them.
"You have to stay still," he admonishes as Shiro's head drops, pressing his forehead to the bed.
"Okay," Shiro agrees instantly. "I will, I promise, just-"
"I know, babe," Keith says, his voice softer now as he leans against the bed between Shiro's legs. "Roll over."
Shiro obeys immediately, pulling his legs up so he can roll onto his back before lowering them again on either side of Keith's hips. He's already flushed all the way down his chest and hard, his lips red as if he's been biting them.
"You look beautiful," Keith says, allowing himself a moment to just look. The faint moonlight filtered through the blinds paints slashes of silver across Shiro's skin, highlighting the faint blush there. The pale gold of Shiro's skin and the silver of his arm stands out in stark contrast against the red of their bedsheet, and Keith cannot fathom what he did to deserve any of this, but he has every intention of working to be worth it.
He pulls his own clothes off quickly, then runs his hands up Shiro's torso as he leans in for a kiss, Shiro's lips plush and soft and responsive under his own. As he slips his tongue into Shiro's mouth, brushing teasingly along the tip of Shiro's tongue, he slides his hands down to Shiro's, tangles their fingers together, then pulls them up and up, until they encounter the slats of the headboard.
"Hold here," Keith instructs, speaking the words quietly against Shiro's lips. He hums in approval as he feels Shiro curl his fingers around the slats. "You're being so good tonight."
"Always good for you," Shiro agrees, his voice already deepened with desire. Keith smiles and rolls his hips down, teasing them both with the brief moment of contact where they want it most before pulling back again, rising up on his knees over Shiro's hips.
"Eyes on me," he instructs, though it's hardly necessary; Shiro's already looking at him as if he holds the secrets of the universe, as if he couldn't look away if he wanted to.
Keith coats his fingers in lube then reaches behind himself, wasting no time in getting to work. It's a bit of extra effort, making sure he lets each sensation play across his face, but it's worth it for Shiro's reactions. Shiro's eyes flick between Keith's face and lower down, neck straining as if he longs to see where Keith's hand disappears behind him. Keith can't help but smile when he sees Shiro's fingers twitching against the headboard, obviously resisting the urge to reach out and touch.
"You're doing so well, keeping your hands in place," Keith says, a bit breathlessly. He may be working rather perfunctorily in opening himself up, but he still enjoys it, enjoys the slick slide of lubed fingers, even if they aren't Shiro's, and it's beginning to show in his voice. He slides his hands together briefly, smearing lube over his previously clean hand before going back to work. "Good behavior deserves a reward."
"Keith," Shiro gasps, arching beautifully into Keith's grasp when he wraps his free hand around Shiro's cock. It's a sight Keith wants to tuck away and keep forever, and yet-
"Still," Keith repeats, a warning in his voice as his hand stops moving. Shiro collapses back to the mattress instantly. "I'm taking care of you tonight," Keith adds, his voice a little softer. "All you need to do is enjoy." He begins stroking Shiro slowly as he works a third finger into himself, mouth falling open a bit at how good it feels, at the knowledge that it will feel even better before too long, when it's Shiro inside of him.
"I enjoy touching you," Shiro says, flexing his arms above his head pointedly.
"And I enjoy taking care of you," Keith responds, punctuating the words with a slow downward stroke. "I enjoy watching you be so obedient, so good for me-" He smiles as Shiro whines a bit at that, "and taking you apart as a reward." A twist of his wrist has Shiro's breath hitching, his arms straining beautifully as he fights the urge to move, to reach down and touch.
"I'll be good," Shiro promises, his voice already wrecked.
"You have been," Keith says, pulling his fingers free and shifting up a bit. "You're so good, Takashi, so-" He cuts off for a moment as he sinks back onto Shiro's cock, sucking in a breath at the slight burn, the satisfying stretch as he gets past the flare of the head. "So perfect," he breathes out.
Shiro's watching him, eyes dark, trembling with the effort of not thrusting up into Keith. He's flushed and disheveled but still perfectly obedient, holding himself still, fingers curled around the slats of the headboard, exerting perfect control even over his prosthetic, which hasn't so much as cracked the wood.
"So good," Keith repeats, the words nothing more than a sigh as he sinks the rest of the way down. It's a familiar sensation, the way Shiro fills him, but one he never grows tired of.
"Keith, please," Shiro pleads, shifting underneath him.
"Not yet," Keith says, soothing. "Soon, I promise. Soon I'll let you touch. You know I love your hands on me." He flexes his thighs, lifting himself up a bit before dropping slowly again, and Shiro's mouth opens on a silent gasp. "Let me hear you," Keith says, eyes intent on Shiro's face. Shiro isn't one for being loud in bed, usually, but Keith loves to hear him, savors every reaction he can draw out. "Tell me what you feel."
"I feel you," Shiro replies instantly. "God, baby, you're so- so tight around me, so hot. You always make me feel so good."
Satisfied, Keith begins riding him, starting slow and speeding up as encouragement every time Shiro lets himself make a noise -- a sigh, a gasp, even the occasional moan. It's all music to Keith's ears, all proof that he's doing something right. It's the bit of encouragement he needs, because while he's more than willing to pull on this mantle of responsibility for the evening for Shiro's sake, he still has moments of insecurity, moments where he wonders if what he's doing is what Shiro needs. Those sounds are like a homing beacon, directing him back into the confident mindset he needs for this to work.
While Keith tries to follow Shiro's cues, tries to find the pace that draws the most noises out of him, he's hardly complaining; even without touching himself, he's still rock hard, and every few strokes he shifts just enough for sparks of pleasure to skitter up his spine. It won't be long before he's the one struggling to control himself.
It doesn't take long for Keith to find a rhythm that sets Shiro to groaning, head flung back in pleasure, hands still clenched tight around the headboard.
"You look so good like this," Keith says, because it's true and because he wants Shiro to know it. "I don't even need cuffs or rope, do I? You're holding on just because I told you to, and you won't move 'til I say so. You won't come until I say either, will you, Takashi?"
"No," Shiro gasps. "Only- only when you tell me to." Keith growls in satisfaction, circling his hips viciously, and Shiro chokes, eyes squeezing shut as he holds himself back with visible effort. It's almost intoxicating to Keith, and makes it tempting to draw this out a little more, but he's nearing the end of his patience, and really, this isn't about denying Shiro anything. It's just about taking away the pressure of having to decide.
"Touch me," Keith demands, voice hoarse and needy. "God, Shiro, please-"
He doesn't even have time to finish his sentence before Shiro's hands are skimming up his thighs, pressing briefly into the bend of his hips and pulling him down hard onto Shiro's upward thrust.
It's so much, the contrast of Shiro's warm left hand and the coolness of the metal, the powerful thrusts now meeting Keith from below. It's almost overwhelming, and Keith doesn't remember closing his eyes, but when he opens them, he sees Shiro biting his lower lip, as if struggling to stay quiet.
"No," Keith says, sitting down hard and halting all movement. It goes against every instinct he has, every fiber of his being screaming at him to chase the orgasm he was so close to. "Let me hear you, Takashi."
"I'm sorry," Shiro says, wide-eyed and pleading. "Fuck, Keith, please, I'm- oh," he ends on a moan as Keith begins moving again. "God, you feel so good, baby, please, fuck," Shiro says, nonsense babbling dissolving into gasps and moans as he fucks up into Keith. "Please let me- Keith, I'm going to-"
"Yes," Keith forces out, then groans as Shiro gets a hand around him. "Fuck, Shiro, yes, come for me, I'm-"
That's as far as he gets, because it only takes three frantic strokes from Shiro before Keith's comes with a gasp across Shiro's hand and stomach. Keith's still shuddering through it, blinding waves of pleasure crashing over him, when Shiro comes with a punched-out groan, his Altean hand tightening on Keith's hip tight enough to bruise. Keith doesn't mind; he has a tendency to press on the mottled purple reminders of their nights together during the following days.
It takes a few minutes for Shiro's trembling to become something a little more manageable, minutes Keith spends draped over his chest, pressing soft open-mouthed kisses to any skin he can reach, heedless of the sheen of sweat Shiro's covered in by now.
Shiro makes a small noise of protest when Keith gets up, but he's only gone long enough to fetch a water bottle and a wet washcloth. He cleans Shiro up, then hands him the bottle.
"Drink," he instructs gently, before wiping himself off and joining Shiro in bed. Shiro drains half the bottle obediently, then passes it back to Keith, who finishes it off. Keith tosses it toward the wastebasket in the corner, then cringes when it bounces off the edge and clatters to the floor. "I'll get it in the morning," he says dismissively before rolling over to face Shiro again. "Are you good?" he asks tentatively, draping an arm across Shiro's chest.
Shiro smiles, leaning in to press a long, sweet kiss to Keith's lips. "Better than good," he confirms. "Thank you. You always know what I need. When I need to be Takashi."
Keith hums, brushing his nose along the line of Shiro's jaw, just enjoying the closeness. "For what it's worth, you're always Takashi to me." He pauses, then grins. "Though Captain Shirogane does look pretty damn good in a uniform," he adds.
Shiro laughs and presses a kiss to Keith's temple. "I love you."
"I love you too, Takashi. Now go to sleep, or else you won't wake up early enough for me to blow you in the shower in the morning."
"And to think," Shiro says, yawning as he settles more comfortably into his pillows, "you claim to not be good at motivational speaking."