I was a billion little pieces
'til you pulled me into focus.
Astronomy in reverse,
It was me who was discovered.
(I thought I'd never find you,
When suddenly I saw you.)
Like a telescope,
I will pull you so close,
'til no space lies in between.
Then suddenly I see you.
Ever since Lance became Spider-Man, he’s pretty much seen everything.
For example: robbery, armed assault, arson—name any sort of cliché cop show with cliché criminals who commit cliché crimes, and Lance has seen them happen for real. Or at least, seen them attempted. For your average day high schooler who groans and complains every day in gym class even though he can secretly lift, like, three times his weight, he has a pretty good track record when it comes to stopping criminals.
Back to the point. Lance has seen pretty much everything, but he wouldn’t be a very good “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” if he weren’t also helping out random civilians with normal everyday things on his down time.
For example: if Lance had a nickel for every time he saved someone’s cat from a tree, he could probably afford his own car. Not that he needs one, when he can just swing to and from school (and anywhere) whenever he wants. And just the other day, he helped someone order their sandwich from a food truck, because the cashier didn’t know enough Spanish. Not to mention, the amount of elderly people that he’s helped cross the street probably far exceeds the rescued kittens.
So yeah, Lance has seen pretty much everything. But every once in a while something crosses his path that he never would have seen coming.
Case in point: Finding his best friend sitting on the roof of their favorite coffee shop an hour and a half after it’s already closed, legs dangling over the edge, face turned skyward to look at what few stars can be seen through the haze of the city lights.
Granted, it’s not actually the first time. Keith has a habit of climbing up onto rooftops and watching the stars when he needs time to think; the coffee shop has only recently become his usual spot, since he managed to get a job there for the summer. Lance isn’t really a fan of the habit, especially when Keith always insists on doing it late at night. So maybe it’s cheating, but over the summer Lance has made his own habit of swinging by the shop on nights he knows Keith closed, just to make sure he’s safe.
Although this time is different. Keith didn’t even work today as far as Lance knows, so he’s not sure why he would come all the way out here just to sit on the roof. And when he does, he usually texts Lance either to ask him to join or just to let someone know where he is. Tonight he did neither.
(He nearly gave Keith a heart attack, the first time he dropped by. In hindsight, Lance realizes it wasn’t the best idea to try getting his attention from behind when he was sitting on a ledge. The entire situation was poorly thought out, honestly. Lance is only lucky that Keith was still wearing his work uniform and name tag, which Lance used to stutter out an excuse as to why he knew his name.)
Because Keith has no idea that Lance is Spider-Man. And Lance intends to keep it that way, for as long as he possibly can—forever, hopefully. He’s not about to risk putting Keith in harm’s way, even if it means breaking his side of the promise to never keep secrets from one another. It sucks sometimes, makes Keith feel too far and out of reach when Lance has to hide behind his mask, split between two different pieces of himself, but he doesn’t have much choice.
Lance drops lightly onto his feet a good distance away from Keith without much thought, feeling a bit flushed and breathless from his recent swing through the city. He can’t really keep himself from smiling, heart still pounding relentlessly in his chest from the rush of adrenaline that never seems to get old.
He announces his arrival with a loud, dramatic sigh, planting his hands on his hips and taking a few lazy steps forward as he holds his head back to the sky. “Hey, man. You know, I think most people would agree with me that sitting alone on the roof of a random building in the middle of the night is pretty dangerous.” He stretches both arms over his head with a yawn. “Don’t you have curfew or something—”
The smallest, quietest, hardly-audible-but-definitely-there sniffle is enough to make Lance falter, and actually look down just in time to see Keith’s hand coming up to wipe at his face.
And man, does it throw Lance for a loop. Because in the ten years that Lance has known Keith, he’s only ever seen him cry three times. The first was seven years ago, in the hospital with his brother while he was recovering from his accident. The second, when he got into a fight at school and was terrified that he would be expelled. The last time, when they watched Marley & Me while Keith was running on two hours of sleep.
Keith only cries under the most extreme of circumstances. Or, only when something is very, very wrong.
“Whoa,” Lance says softly. He steps closer, hesitating before he sinks down cross-legged beside Keith, mindful to keep his distance. “Hey, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Keith mutters, pulling his sleeves over his hands to continue wiping at the tears on his face that tell Lance he is very much not fine.
He keeps quiet anyway, not wanting to press. Because Spider-Man doesn’t have the privilege of asking Keith about his personal life the way that Lance does—the way that nine times out of ten, Lance doesn’t even have to ask in the first place, because Keith will tell him all there is to know without prompting.
But that’s not quite enough to ward off the heavy, sickening feeling in Lance’s gut that seems to have settled there until further notice. While Lance has been gallivanting around the city, Keith has been sitting here, crying on a rooftop in the middle of the night by himself. Maybe it’s selfish, but he can’t help but feel paranoid that somehow—he did something wrong. Because Keith is upset, and alone, and Lance didn’t even get so much as an I need you text like he normally does.
Keith sniffs again, breaking Lance out of his thoughts as he wipes at his nose before hugging his knees close to his chest. “Don’t you have a city to be saving or whatever?” he mumbles.
Not if it means leaving you, Lance thinks. “I’ve got time,” he says instead.
Keith doesn’t answer, staring down at where the toes of his shoes peek over the edge of the building. Lance watches him for a moment, weighing his options. The only way he’ll find out what’s wrong is if he asks while he’s up here, and he’s not sure Keith will be comfortable with that. He can’t ask Keith himself later, because he has no way of explaining how he knows Keith is upset. If he does nothing, it’ll bother him until he can’t hide the fact that it is from Keith, who at this point can read him like an open book.
So really, there’s only one option.
Lance chews at his lip, looking down at his hands in his lap and shifting slightly. “I know this might seem kind of weird, but… I can be a really great person to talk to.” Keith glances over as he lifts a hand to his head, tapping his mask. “Not to brag, but I’m pretty good at keeping secrets.”
Keith chuckles, a bit wet-sounding but better than nothing. “Yeah, I bet.”
Lance smiles, even though Keith can’t see it behind the mask. “Still, you don’t have to. But if you want to, that is—just, I’m already here. So.” He clears his throat and turns away, suddenly hyper-aware of Keith’s gaze on him. “Feel free to talk, if you need to.”
He lets out a quiet breath of relief when Keith finally looks away in favor of the sky, littered with the occasional cluster of stars that shine too brightly for the city lights to block out. It’s still strange to him, being able to see everyone for who they are while concealing his own face. He feels fake sometimes, when he thinks too much about it. Like when he puts on his mask, he’s becoming someone completely different each time. Even now feels a bit like taking advantage of it, asking Keith to speak his mind after he’d evidently chosen not to share, even with Lance.
Keith takes a long, deep breath and slowly lets it out, the sound of it quickly being lost among that of the city; tires scraping against asphalt, summer wind blowing across the rooftops, echoing laughter of people out walking along the sidewalk below. He still doesn’t say anything for a while, and Lance is getting ready to accept the lack of a response as an indication that Keith doesn’t want to talk until—
“I’m in love with my best friend.”
It takes a moment, for Lance’s brain to process. And when it does, he feels his entire body freeze. Literally freeze, like his blood has gone cold and every part of him has ceased to function. His heart skips three beats minimum, and he’s lucky to have both the city noise and the fabric of his mask there to muffle the sound of his breath catching in his throat. Because unless he heard Keith wrong, and unless he’s mistaken about who Keith’s best friend is… no way. There’s no way.
Keith must take his silence for an invitation to continue, because that’s exactly what he does. “Been in love with him for a while, actually. Long enough that I can’t really remember when I wasn’t.”
Lance is staring at him, eyes wide, jaw practically unhinged as Keith’s words sink in. He remembers just in time that now seems like an appropriate time to respond, snapping himself out of his sudden stupor to say: “Oh.”
Not the best reply. He cringes inwardly, curling his fingers into his palms. Keith has fallen quiet again, picking idly at the torn-up fabric of his jeans. Lance takes a second to breathe, steadying himself with a small inhale before trying again.
“And… that’s a bad thing?” Lance asks quietly.
Keith is silent for a moment, gazing up at the stars. “No,” he says after a while. “It’s just—knowing he could never feel the same way about me.”
Lance’s head is spinning, almost enough that he can’t believe he hasn’t toppled over the edge of the building already. He doesn’t even know what he was expecting this to be about, but this is so far from it he wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s been dreaming the entire thing.
His voice might waver a bit when he speaks, and god he’s never been so grateful for his mask’s built-in voice changer. “How do you know he doesn’t?”
Keith laughs then, something with a bitter undertone that has Lance frowning underneath his mask. “He can do way better than me.”
Something a lot like defensiveness flares in Lance’s chest and he shifts to face Keith better. “What does that mean?”
“I don’t know!” Keith fires back just as defensively, tossing his hands into the air. “It means—I’m not good enough for him.”
“Alright, hold up.” Lance holds his hands up in a time-out motion. “I sort of feel like we’re getting off track. What exactly is the issue here?”
Keith lets out an irritated huff, but nothing actually comes out when he opens his mouth to respond. Instead he returns his focus to his toes, brow furrowed and jaw clenched. Lance lowers his hands back into his lap and frowns, waiting expectantly for something else. When still nothing comes, he unfolds his legs and swings them over the ledge, leaning on his hands.
“Is it the fact that you’re in love?”
Keith scoffs. “No.”
“Is it the person you’re in love with?”
“What? No, I—”
“Then you’re upset he might not love you back because you’ve decided that you’re not good enough—”
“No!” Keith bursts, the heels of his shoes scraping against the brick as he lets his legs fall over the edge, pushing both hands through his hair. “It’s not about me, it’s—I can’t be enough for him.” Lance stares at him, dumbfounded, as he heaves a long sigh, one hand still tangled in his hair. “He deserves everything I can’t give him. He deserves everything and I can’t— be that for him.”
Lance would like to say he’s being dramatic, but something about that hits him—hard. Something about how Keith is so utterly unconcerned about himself and only cares that the person that he loves—Lance—receives the love he deserves, whether or not he’s the one to give it to him. Something about that settles into the pit of his stomach and strips him bare and leaves him feeling infinitely more vulnerable than he should, given the circumstances.
Because he gets it. He totally gets it.
Maybe he’s gone silent for too long, because he’s once again ripped from his thoughts when he hears Keith sniffling again. “It’s stupid,” he mumbles, wiping at his eyes with the heel of his palm.
“No, it’s not,” Lance responds immediately. His eyes fall to where his hand rests beside Keith’s, heart suddenly pounding in his chest. “I’m… I’m in the same boat, actually.”
Keith lifts his head, blinking away the tears still threatening to spill. “Really?” he asks softly.
It’s Lance’s turn to look away this time, finding himself unable to hold Keith’s gaze for long. “Yeah,” he murmurs. “I understand.”
The city seems quieter now. It’s reached that point during the night when everyone is starting to slow down, and everything becomes softer, and calmer (unlike Lance, who now feels full of nerves, and restless energy begging to be let out).
“You kind of remind me of him sometimes.”
Lance stiffens, eyes darting over to see Keith peering up at the sky. He laughs nervously, trying not to squirm. “Yeah? How’s that?”
Keith shrugs, one corner of his mouth lifting upwards into a small smile. “I mean, you spend your free time swinging around the city and saving people every day just because you can. And even when you’re not, you’re still sitting up here listening to me talk about my tragic love life.” He shakes his head slightly, eyes drifting down until he’s looking down at his feet still dangling over the ledge. “I think he’s the type of person who’d do that, if he could.”
Lance relaxes, or as much as he can given his current situation. Everything about this feels wrong, listening to Keith pour his heart out like this to the very person he’s so terrified of pouring his heart out to. At this point he doesn’t even know what would be worse: to reveal himself to Keith now (which has an entirely separate new set of consequences that he doesn’t even want to get into right now) or let him go on and hope that things work themselves out.
He kicks his legs a little, swallowing. “I don’t mean to overstep,” he starts quietly. Keith looks up at him, eyes still rimmed red and it makes Lance’s heart twist so unhappily in his chest he thinks it might burst. “But… have you ever thought about telling him?”
Keith’s eyes fall and he looks away, bangs falling into his face. “Yeah,” he admits, so softly that Lance has to strain to hear. “All the time. It’s just that—I’m too scared of what would happen if he doesn’t feel the same way.” He rakes a frustrated hand through his hair. “I just can’t win, you know? Either he doesn’t love me back and I’m stuck feeling this way forever, or he does love me back and we’re both stuck because I’m too much of a coward to do anything about it.”
Lance bites down on his bottom lip so hard he thinks it might bruise. “Okay, well—say he does love you back. What if you did do something about it?”
“That’s almost worse.”
Something gut-wrenching and freezing cold clenches in Lance’s stomach. “Why?”
“Because then I have the chance to screw everything up and lose him for good.” His voice cracks on the last word, and Lance looks up again in time to see a fresh tear rolling down Keith’s cheek as he ducks his head. “And everything is just so good right now, I don’t want to be the something that ruins that. But we’re going to Pride together on Saturday and I just wish we were going as—more.” Lance swears his heart actually flutters, and then drops just as quickly as Keith’s voice wavers. “I feel so selfish, I should just be happy with the way things are right now because he’s happy, and all I can think about is how I want things to be different.” He pulls one sleeve over his hand and wipes it over his eyes. “God, this is so stupid.”
And Lance can’t stand it any longer.
It’s not fair. He can’t sit here and listen to Keith unnecessarily degrade himself like this and do nothing. He won’t—he can’t do that. He swears under his breath. Then again for good measure, just so he’s aware of the absolute absurdity of what he’s about to do.
“Hey.” Keith glances over at him, one hand still raised to scrub at the other side of his face. Lance takes a deep, deep breath to steady himself. “So, this is normally a huge no-no for me, but I’m gonna do something. Just… don’t freak out.”
Keith’s brow furrows, but he doesn’t say anything as his hand falls back into his lap so Lance takes it as a silent understanding. His heart rattles almost painfully behind his ribcage as he slowly reaches up, and Keith’s eyes widen when his fingers close around the fabric of his mask. Lance swallows.
He pulls off his mask.
It’s a little dark, so Keith doesn’t recognize him right away. Lance can’t decide if he prefers it that way, because taking off the mask was already hard enough. It’s a bit anticlimactic, honestly, the amount of time it takes for him to react. He’s not freaking out, at the very least, which Lance had been fully expecting.
Keith blinks, twice, a small gust of wind brushing his bangs across his forehead. “Lance?”
Lance shoots him a nervous smile, rubbing the back of his neck. “Hey, Keith.”
Everything sounds quieter, but maybe that’s just because the city’s been blocked out by the rush of blood in Lance’s ears. Keith actually squints, like he’s still not quite sure his eyes are working correctly. Lance sees the exact moment that it clicks, though. Because Keith’s face goes visibly pale, his eyes widen even further, and his jaw goes unhinged.
So much for not freaking out.
“Oh—my god,” he chokes out, looking altogether horrified and betrayed, even, which sort of makes Lance feel sick. Not the response he’d always imagined after revealing himself as Spider-Man to Keith, but he supposes the circumstances are a lot different than he’d always anticipated. Keith is still floundering, expression shellshocked and desperate. “Lance—”
“Yeah, it’s just me,” Lance interrupts, holding his hands up placatingly in an attempt to stop Keith’s spiral before it begins. “Hi.”
“Oh my god,” Keith repeats, heels skiffing across the ledge as he pulls his knees up and scrambles to his feet.
“Wait!” Lance leaps up behind him, as Keith stumbles back a step. “I said don’t freak out—”
Keith turns and runs.
He’s fast. There’s a reason their high school track coach has been begging him to join the team since before they were even freshman, and a reason that everyone fights to have him on their team for Cat and Mouse during gym class. But there’s also a reason that Lance has pretty much avoided all athletic activities ever since he figured out he could lift cars and snap assault rifles in half and run the distance of a half-marathon without hardly breaking a sweat.
Spoiler alert: he’s faster.
It’s probably an instinct at this point, considering how many criminals have tried to run away the second they see a flash of red and blue swinging toward them and forcing Lance to somehow block their escape. Lance moves without thinking, extending one arm and shooting a thick gob of web straight across the roof and onto the handle of the door, just as Keith is reaching for it.
Keith jerks his hand back with a yelp, twisting around and clutching it to his chest like it’s just been burned.
“Sorry!” Lance grimaces, realizing that probably didn’t help much with Keith’s already full-blown freakout. “Sorry, it’s a reflex!”
“You’re Spider-Man,” Keith blurts, all in one rush of a breath as if it’s being punched out of him.
Lance nods reluctantly, clutching his mask in one hand. “Yeah. This wasn’t exactly how I’d been planning to tell you.”
Not that he’d been planning on telling him anytime soon, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Keith. “Y-you—” he stutters, expression growing more and more horrified by the second. “And I just—”
“Keith,” Lance starts, taking a step forward. Keith takes a step back, and his back hits the door.
Lance can’t help the way that his heart drops straight into the pit of his stomach, heavy and ice cold. It doesn’t feel like betrayal—no, that wouldn’t even be fair, because Lance is the one who’s been lying to Keith for almost two years now about who he is, so if anyone should feel betrayed, it’s Keith—it feels more like a drowning, suffocating guilt that he’s the sole cause of the look on Keith’s face, trapped and desperate and more conflicted than anything else.
He takes another small, slow step forward. “I know this is a lot,” he says softly, pretending he doesn’t notice the way Keith’s eyes dart either way like he’s still looking for an escape. “But if you’d just hear me out—”
“Stop,” Keith shakes his head pleadingly. “I don’t want—god, this isn’t how it was supposed to—” Lance’s throat feels tight as his face screws up and he buries it in his hands, slumping back against the door and sliding down to the floor, until he’s left in a curled up heap sitting on the roof of a coffee shop in the middle of downtown while Spider-Man—Lance—stares helplessly down at him.
Lance is eighty percent sure that someone’s current mood and feelings determines how they perceive their surroundings, because the summer night air blowing across the roof suddenly feels cold, the city lights too harsh and unnatural, and the sky too barren and bleak. And Keith is right there in front of him, too small, and silent and alone and everything about it is wrong. Everything about it is wrong, and that just won’t do for Lance, not when his job is to make everything right.
His body moves on autopilot, closer and closer to Keith until he’s standing over him. He hesitates only for a moment, and then crouches down until they’d be eye level if Keith were to lift his head.
“Hey,” he murmurs. He drops his mask to the ground and carefully, lightly takes hold of Keith’s wrists, gently prying them away from Keith’s face. Keith finally looks up at him, face streaked with fresh tears that make his eyes glitter unfairly prettily, considering the circumstances. Lance looks back and forth between them for a moment, as Keith blinks away the tears still clinging to his lashes. “I already told you I’m in the same boat.”
Keith shakes his head again, squeezing his eyes shut and curling his fingers into his palms. “You’re just saying that.”
Lance lowers their hands with a frown. “Keith, when have I ever lied to you?” He pauses, considering, and winces when he looks down at his suit. “I mean, other than the fact that I’m—but that’s different, because—you know what, so maybe this wasn’t a great example, but I just mean—”
He’s cut off by a brief, shaky huff of laughter, and looks up to see Keith chuckling wetly into his knees. “I’m a total mess right now and you’re still finding a way to make me laugh.”
Lance breathes out a sigh of relief, his own mouth turning up into a smile. “Oh, good. That was my plan all along.”
Keith slips his wrists from Lance’s grasp and wipes at his eyes, sniffing as he dries the streaks on his face with his sleeves. Lance lets him, sitting back on his feet and waiting quietly for Keith to compose himself.
It’s still hard, being right there but not being sure what to do. Lance’s palms itch with the need to reach out and touch Keith again, but he’s not confident it’ll be much comfort to him right now. Not to mention, there’s a lot to address right now and not exactly a clear place to start.
Keith lets out a long, slow breath, lowering his hands once more and settling them on his knees, but he won’t quite meet Lance’s eye anymore. Lance shoves down the pang of hurt in his stomach and shifts on his feet. “I’m sorry.” Keith only sniffs again in response, so Lance continues, eyes falling to the ground. “I didn’t mean to take advantage of the situation like that. If I’d known what you were upset about in the first place, I wouldn’t have pried.”
“You didn’t,” Keith mumbles, picking at his jeans.
“Okay, well—just let me say this.”
He clearly doesn’t like it, but Keith presses his lips together and keeps his eyes down. Lance studies him for another moment, before sighing and moving to sit cross-legged in front of him. “I was just worried when I saw you up here because you usually tell me when you decide to go off climbing rooftops, especially when you need time alone. But you didn’t this time, and you were upset obviously, so—I don’t know, I couldn’t not do anything.
“I guess I was just trying to help. Which I know doesn’t really make any of this any better, because you hadn’t told me what was wrong and I took advantage of the fact that you didn’t know exactly who you were talking to, it’s just—maybe part of me thought I’d done something wrong that I didn’t know about? Or maybe, I don’t know.” He looks down at his mask, bunched up on the ground between his legs. “It would’ve felt wrong leaving you up here.” Keith remains quiet, gaze still fixed downward when Lance risks a glance up at him.
“Plus… I wasn’t expecting—that, when I finally asked what was wrong.” Lance can almost visibly see Keith swallow a lump down his throat, eyelids fluttering like he might be fighting back more tears. “So I sort of panicked,” Lance says, voice softening. “And you kept talking, and I couldn’t figure out if it would be better to stop you and go or just sit and listen. It still felt wrong either way, but honestly? I’m glad I stayed.”
Keith looks up then, brow creased ever so slightly, and Lance freezes. “I mean, unless you’re not, which—totally understandable, because I completely violated your trust and—” He cuts himself off with a short exhale of breath, running his fingers through his hair. “I’m not making this any better. Look, all I’m trying to say is—”
“It’s fine,” Keith interrupts, once again lowering his gaze. “You don’t have to say anything.”
“What? No, but I—”
“And you obviously have more important things to deal with,” Keith goes on, digging his teeth into his bottom lip. “I’m probably just wasting your time right now—”
“You’re important!” Lance cries, and Keith’s head snaps back up, eyes wide as Lance reaches forward to grip his knee. “God, Keith—you’re my best friend, you don’t think I’d make time for you?”
“I mean, I—you’re—” Keith fumbles, seemingly at a loss for words. “I just thought—”
“You love me?”
Keith stills, his entire body noticeably stiffening, shoulders straightening back against the door. Their eyes lock, and for a moment it’s like they’re the only people in the universe, together in their own tiny bubble on the roof of a dark building. Lance has moved onto his knees, keeping himself steady and refusing to let himself waver as Keith stares back at him, looking almost as pale as he had when Lance first pulled his mask off.
“I—this wasn’t how I wanted you to find out,” Keith finally stammers, cheeks flushing deep enough to see even in the dark. “I’m sorry, I know, it makes everything awkward and I’m sorry—”
“I love you too.”
Keith falters mid-sentence, mouth hanging slightly open as he blinks. “What?”
Lance’s mouth is slowly stretching into a grin, his chest feeling light and giddy at Keith’s bewildered expression. “I love you too,” he repeats, feeling lighter and lighter by the second. It feels so good to finally say it out loud, to finally say it to the only person he’s ever wanted to say it to. “I have for a long time.”
Keith has gone silent again, eyes searching yet unmoving as he evidently tries to make sense of what Lance is saying. It sends a little jolt of dissatisfaction through Lance’s nerves, much like the sudden defensiveness he felt earlier.
“You kept talking about how you aren’t good enough,” he murmurs. “About how you can’t be enough, and I get that. But it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I feel the same way, but—you are everything to me, Keith. I kind of hate how cheesy that sounds, but that’s how I feel, so I guess I’m just owning up to it.”
“This isn’t a dream?” Keith blurts. Lance lets out a startled laugh, shaking his head as Keith frowns and looks down at himself. “This isn’t some messed up dream where I confess to you and then find out you’re Spider-Man and—then you tell me you love me back right before I wake up—”
“It’s not a dream, Keith.” Lance reaches forward, taking one of Keith’s hands in his and tilting Keith’s chin up with another. “It’s real.” Keith’s eyes fall to where Lance is lifting their hands, and then dart back up to Lance’s face after he’s carefully curled their pinkies together—what they always do, when they want to say something they really mean. Lance smiles. “I promise.”
He feels kind of bad for being the cause of so many tears tonight, especially when he sees the new ones working themselves into the corners of Keith’s eyes. But it’s also kind of hard to hold back his own, when Keith moves and shifts forward to wrap his arms around Lance’s neck, and pull himself forward into a hug that Lance reciprocates just as quickly, pressing his arms around Keith’s back.
Keith’s shoulders are trembling slightly, and Lance tries furiously to blink back the oncoming tears. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles into Keith’s hair. “With the whole Spider-Man thing… I wanted to tell you, but I was scared of putting you in danger, and the longer it’s been, the worse I’ve felt. I never wanted to hide anything from you.”
“I guess we’ve both been keeping secrets,” Keith admits, voice wavering a bit, and Lance can’t help but laugh a little.
“I guess so. How does it feel to know that you’re literally in love with Spider-Man?” he teases, which is hard to do when he can’t seem to stop sniffling now, and he can hardly see through the water in his eyes.
Keith shakes his head, hair tickling Lance’s neck as he chuckles softly. “I’m in love with you, Lance,” he murmurs, and Lance’s chest threatens to burst. “Who just also happens to be Spider-Man. That part is just an added bonus.”
“Charming,” Lance mutters, and smiles a watery smile at the sound of Keith’s shaky laughter. Keith is the first to pull away, but he has the first real smile on his face that he’s had all night, even if it’s sticky with tears. Lance brings a hand up to brush the hair out of his eyes, and wipe away the tears that have collected on his cheek. “Thanks for not running away.”
Keith snorts, his own hand settling over Lance’s forearm. “Not that you really gave me a choice, but… yeah. I’m glad I didn’t.” He looks up at Lance through his bangs, and suddenly Lance is aware of just how close together they’ve drifted.
His heart thuds loudly in his chest as Keith’s eyes flick between his own, his smile slowly fading the longer they look at one another, replaced by something cautious but hopeful. Lance licks his lips, and swallows when Keith’s gaze seems to lower. “You know—” His voice comes out in a rasp. “I think it would be weird if I didn’t kiss you right now.”
“I think so too,” Keith breathes, already taking hold of Lance’s suit and tilting forward to meet him.
Lance lets Keith pull him down, lets him guide their lips together, lets himself fall. He’s fallen more times than he can count during his time as Spider-Man, but this—none of those times could ever compare to this. Nothing can compare to the firm press of Keith’s lips against his, sighing into his mouth, breath warm on his skin, fingers sliding through the hair at the back of his neck and trapping him there, as if Lance would ever want to leave.
He almost thought it would be desperate. He feels desperate, his head spinning and heart fluttering wildly in his chest, but it’s nothing like that at all. Everything about it is so careful, so slow and gentle that it has Lance melting into the kiss, cradling Keith’s face in his hands and pressing his lips to the corners of Keith’s mouth every chance he gets. It’s all he’s ever wanted to be with Keith.
It’s a little hard to breathe when they break apart, foreheads tilted together, gasping quietly into each other’s space. Keith’s eyes are still closed, only opening after his hand has slid down to rest against the symbol over Lance’s chest. He takes one last deep, steadying breath, lightly tracing the symbol’s outline with a careful finger. “You know this means I have to worry about you constantly, right?”
Lance cracks a lopsided grin. “In other words, nothing’s changed.”
“Pretty much,” Keith admits, his mouth curling upward. “Except for now I fully expect to see you outside my window every night.”
“I’m a superhero, Keith, not a super-stalker—”
“Not like that!” Keith scoffs, and Lance laughs as he pulls away and flicks his shoulder.
“Okay, okay. You want me to come over every night for a goodnight kiss, is that it?”
Keith’s cheeks flush, even though he’d been the one to imply it. “I wouldn’t mind.”
“Mary Jane style.”
“Dork,” Lance huffs out in a fit of breathless laughter, and leans back in for another kiss that’s just as sweet as Keith’s smile.
Keith has never liked crowds.
Lance has known this about him since Ryan Kinkade’s seventh birthday party ten years ago. It’s where they met, actually, the same summer that he moved to the States. He remembers first seeing him come through the front door hand-in-hand with who he’d later learn was Keith’s brother, already looking nervous after a first sweep of the living room crowded with overeager kids and tired parents. And Lance, maybe just as nervous by the fact that he didn’t exactly know anyone there, had no trouble marching up and introducing himself to them both.
Hardly fifteen minutes into the party, and Keith seems no less anxious than he had before, even after Lance stole an entire handful of M&Ms for them to share.
“You don’t talk a lot,” Lance had noted.
And Keith had kicked his feet at the floor, lips pursed. “Too many people,” he mumbled.
“Ohhh,” Lance nodded. “That’s okay. You can just stick with me. And whenever it feels like there are too many people, you can talk to me and pretend I’m the only one here.”
Keith had blinked at that, and stopped kicking his feet at the floor long enough to really look at him. “Okay,” he agreed.
Ever since then, Lance has gotten really good at picking up on telltale signs of Keith’s nervousness. Like now, standing in line to get into the Pride festival with their tickets in hand, Keith pressing closer and closer to Lance the further they move along and the loose ponytail he’d pulled his hair back into becoming more and more undone with every passing moment.
He’s staring past the entrance to where everyone has started to line up along the barricade for the parade and chewing on his lip when Lance nudges his shoulder. Keith starts a little and glances over, and Lance leans in, lowering his voice as he subtly points at a poster someone’s holding up a bit further ahead of them. “Check out that guy’s poster.”
Keith follows his gesture and squints as he reads it. “‘No cops at Pride, just Spider-Man?’”
“I’m gonna tell ‘em,” Lance mutters.
“What—no!” Keith whispers, and Lance snorts when he elbows him in the side.
“You have to admit, it’s pretty funny.”
Keith rolls his eyes, but Lance doesn’t miss the way that his mouth turns up as he looks away again. Lance lets another moment pass, and then nudges him again. “Hey.” He makes sure he has Keith’s attention before offering a small, reassuring smile. “It’s okay. You’ve got me.”
Keith lets out a breath, his shoulders slumping as Lance presses a quick kiss to his forehead (because he’s been dying to kiss his cheek all morning, but he worked really hard to perfect the rainbow streaks on Keith’s face and he’s not about to mess them up). “I know, I know. Sorry.”
“Don’t be. Today is about us, remember?” He tugs Keith along with him as the line starts to move. “You’ll have fun, promise.”
It’s not long before they reach the front, and Lance shoots Keith another smile as they show their tickets to the attendants, who in turn stamp their hands and usher them through to the other side. The parade itself doesn’t start for another half hour, but the square is already packed with people, lining the streets and wandering the blocks full of tents and booths giving out free stickers or selling all different kinds of flags. It honestly is all a bit overwhelming, everything bright and colorful and altogether loud, but there’s a buzzing sort of excitement in the air that has Lance breaking out into a huge smile as soon as they step through.
The best part, though, is that Keith is right there next to him, his best friend and boyfriend —and it feels right. He feels himself.
Lance reaches over and Keith glances at him, already smiling as Lance finds his hand and twists their fingers together, flashing a bright, contented smile of his own. “Ready?”
Keith squeezes his hand, and leans in to press a quick kiss to his cheek (because Lance had purposely left it paint-free so he could do just that).