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the pleasure, the privilege is mine

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Everything in Keith’s life has been pretty standard and expected. He grew up in a nice house with his parents and pet dog; he had family vacations to Disneyland and Fourth of July barbecues in the backyard with all his uncles from his mom’s side coming over every year. At school, he got good grades and had a tight group of friends, with all of whom he was still close. Keith even won second place at the school science fair his senior year (he was never going to beat Pidge and Hunk). For college, he stayed nearby but far enough that he could get away with visiting home one or two weekends a month, and all his high school friends were there, too. After graduating, he moved to the city, got a job at a finance company, and worked his way up the chain to now have a title with manager in it and a salary that keeps him more than comfortable living in an apartment building downtown that labels itself as luxury. One of his best friends even lives across the hall from Keith. He’s dated some people, and he’s fine with the fact nothing panned out to be long term. It’s been normal, it’s been pleasant—yes, there were some bumps, but for the most part, Keith was perfectly content with how calm his life had been and seemingly would continue to be.

Except, today was different.

Keith didn’t think about how he probably looked right now, standing in the wide hall outside his door, mouth slightly agape as Lance and Allura hugged their twins goodbye, but his eyes were set on the man standing behind the family in the doorway of their apartment. The man is tall, oh so tall, with a tuft of white hair sticking out of a backward snapback, and his smile flashed a truly fantasy prince level of perfect white when he stuck his hand out to shake Lance’s. A sweatshirt might be covering his body, but Keith just knows there’s some miraculous muscle under those layers. 

“Good morning, Keith!” Allura’s voice veers him off the illicit thoughts about a stranger path. 

“G-good morning, guys,” Keith clears his throat and averts his eyes to his friends quickly.

“Happy Monday!” Lance jokes. It’s the same greeting he’s said Monday morning for about two years now since Lance went from best friend to best friend and neighbor when he moved across the hall from Keith with Allura and the kids, which also meant Keith and Lance went to work together every morning. It’s only years of patience that have managed to make Keith tolerate so much Lance so often. He doesn’t know how Allura does it sometimes. Love, he supposes.

Keith gives his standard reply, a roll of eyes, and shifts the strap of the messenger bag across his chest.

“Oh, Keith, this is Shiro, he’s the twins’ new babysitter,” Allura gestures to Tall Man who now thankfully has a name. “Shiro, this is Keith, one of our closest friends, neighbor, and Lance’s colleague,” she lists all the titles he holds in their lives. “Oh, and the twins’ godfather.”

“Nice to meet you,” Shiro doesn’t pause, moving right away to come forward and also put his hand out for Keith to shake. 

“You, too,” Keith feels proud that he’s keeping it together right now. By no means is Keith scrawny, he may not be the tallest, but he has lean muscle thanks to the gym five days of the week and the occasional run. But standing next to Shiro, well, Keith feels pleasantly dwarfed. Shiro’s right hand is the cool metal of a prosthetic when he claps his hand to Keith’s, and Keith once again has to work hard to shove the thirst-filled thoughts away.

“If you ever need anything, Shiro, you can always come to Keith,” Lance says, giving Keith a few rough pats on the back.

“Yeah, of course,” Keith agrees.

“Great, thank you,” Shiro smiles, and having that brilliance directed at him makes Keith sway slightly on his feet. 

After that, the twins, Alexandra and Alana, also run over with yells of Uncle Keef! and hug his legs. “Hey, Al Squared,” he addresses the twins with the nickname he gave them when they were babies and leans down to return the hugs before they’re corralled back inside by Shiro. Keith’s arm betrays him and waves at Shiro, who crouches down to be at the kids’ level as they wave to their parents and he tells them to say goodbye. 

In the elevator down, Allura and Lance exchange some last words about their plans for the evening before they kiss goodbye and Lance and Keith exit the elevator to walk to work while Allura goes down to the basement garage to drive to the university where she teaches. It’s his usual, normal day, the weather is even pleasantly properly early spring outside, so Keith unzips his fleece vest to appreciate the breeze. Except Keith’s thoughts are all focused on how nicely Shiro’s gray eyes gleamed when he smiled in the fluorescent hallway lighting.

“So, uh, you got a new babysitter. What happened to Romelle?” Keith tries to act casually.

Lance gives Keith a sideways look, and if he knows Keith’s motives for asking, he blessedly doesn’t say anything. “She found a full-time job, but she recommended Shiro since they are friends. His schedule also works well with the days that Allura is home, so now he’ll be over two-to-three days a week and some evenings when Allura and I go out.” That last bit of information is definitely not necessary, Keith doesn’t need to be told Shiro’s schedule, but Lance is a little shit of a friend sometimes. Most of the time.

“Cool,” Keith replies nonchalantly.

“Yeah, cool,” Lance snorts.

“So, is he, like, a student…” Keith continues to keep it sounding offhand.

“Like a student, yeah,” Lance snorts again. “He took a break before starting grad school, and he’s working on his Ph.D. now. He’s single.”

Keith sputters. “What does his being single have to do with it?”

“Nothing, nothing at all, man,” Lance sounds amused. Thankfully, he changes the subject to something that doesn’t make Keith’s ears heat at the tips for the rest of their walk to work.

Later that day during lunch, Keith and Lance are sitting in their usual sandwich place, and Lance turns his phone to show Keith the screen. It’s a selfie taken by Shiro with Alana and Alexandra on either side of him. Tiny sparkly butterfly stickers cover Shiro’s cheeks and the girls are laughing with their arms around his neck. It’s cute. Obviously because of the twins looking like the radiant joys that they are, but Shiro manages to make his snapback with bonus glitter stickers look good. Anything would look good with that smile, Keith thinks.

“You done staring yet?” Lance asks with a raised eyebrow.

“I’m not staring! Just admiring how cute your daughters, my godchildren, happen to be, okay,” Keith scoffs and angrily takes a bite out of his meatball sub.

“I’m sure,” Lance says, turning the phone back to himself. “Shiro seems like a good babysitter so far. You know, do you want his number? Just in case he ever needs anything while Allura and I are gone but you’re home?”

“I doubt he’ll need me, and who is to say I won't be out on weekends or something too?” Keith tries to find an excuse, but maybe he kind of is interested in having Shiro’s number.

Lance, much to Keith’s annoyance, laughs. “You are literally the most boring person who works at the firm.”

“I am not!” Keith tries to defend himself.

Lance looks at him with a flat expression. “Sure, you go to the bars with the rest of the guys when we go out after work, and you sit there with your Old Fashioned, but you haven’t been on a non-coworkers outing in a while. When was your last date?”

“Does it matter? I’m still going out places,” Keith grumbles.

Lance puts his hands up in defeat. “The gym barely counts, but sure whatever you say.” But he snatches Keith’s phone where it’s sitting on the table while Keith’s hands are occupied holding his sandwich.

“Hey, no, Lance, no!” Keith cries, dropping the sandwich back down and trying to swipe his phone back. 

Lance leans away in his chair from Keith’s marinara hands and holds the phone out of his reach as he taps away on it. “And there,” he finally says and gives it back to Keith.

Keith snatches it out of Lance’s hand with narrowed eyes. When he checks to see what Lance has done, his friend has so kindly added a new contact. It’s Shiro’s number. He doesn’t say anything as he tucks the phone into the inside pocket of his vest. 

“You’ll thank me later,” Lance laughs, and he similarly puts his own phone into the front pocket of his slightly lighter shade of gray Patagonia vest.

Keith has no intention of ever using that number.

---

It becomes the new norm for every two-to-three days of the week that when Keith heads out to work with Allura and Lance, he says bye to the twins as well as Shiro. Lance and Allura continue to tell Keith glowing details about how wonderful a babysitter Shiro has been and how much Alana and Alexandra adore him. This also means Lance subjects Keith to cute pictures Shiro sends of whatever activities he’s doing with the kids during his afternoon update to Lance and Allura.

Keith has now seen how good Shiro’s finger painting skills are and what Shiro looks like when the girls dressed him up as their third princess (they placed a Barbie tiara on top of his snapback). There’s a particularly devastating photo someone took of Shiro and the twins at the park where Shiro is holding each girl in an arm. One time Shiro sends a video featuring Alana and him singing a stirring rendition of “A Whole New World.” Keith may or may not have let out a dreamy sigh over Lance’s shoulder when watching Shiro belt out Aladdin’s part. It’s barely on key. Lance smacks Keith across the head.

So he has a crush on the babysitter next door? That doesn’t mean anything.

Keith is stepping out of his apartment, ready for an evening at the gym, when Lance and Allura’s door opens, except it’s Shiro who steps out.

“Oh, hi, Keith,” Shiro smiles at him, shutting the door.

“You’re still here?” Keith kicks himself for asking so bluntly, but he didn’t expect Shiro to still be over at their place since Lance and Allura got home from work a while ago. 

Shiro’s smile doesn’t falter, thankfully. “Yeah, just talking things over with Lance and Allura. They’re a really great family.”

“Yeah,” Keith nods. “They are.”

“Allura said you’re Alana and Alexandra’s godfather, right?”

“Yeah,” Keith nods again. “I do love those little angelic monsters.”

Shiro laughs. “Yeah, they’re sweet but also can be so scary.”

“I think that’s standard for two-and-a-half-year-olds,” Keith says.

“I guess,” Shiro keeps smiling at Keith before he seems to catch himself. “Well, I don’t mean to keep you,” he gestures at Keith.

“What? Oh, just going to the gym, no big deal,” Keith waves. 

They both then walk in the direction of the elevator at the same time, fumble through an exchange of after you’s before Shiro just follows behind Keith. As they stand waiting for the elevator, Keith looks at Shiro from the corner of his eye. Usually, Keith never sees Shiro arrive in the morning or when he leaves in the evening, so this is the first time Keith catches sight of the unfortunate condition of Shiro’s backpack.

“I’ve never seen a Jansport that on the edge of life,” Keith comments.

“What?” Shiro snaps his head to look at Keith. “Oh, this, yeah, I just keep using it, never really thought about getting a new one.” The bag is slung across one shoulder, its fraying edges look dangerously like they’ll give way even with one extra campus distributed pamphlet shoved in there. Shiro pats the bag. “It’s pretty reliable.”

And as if the universe heard, as soon as they step into the elevator, there’s a ripping sound and the contents of Shiro’s backpack make themselves at home strewn across the elevator floor.

“Oh, fuck,” Shiro simply stares at the ground. Loose papers, textbooks, pens, a graphing calculator, and a full bag of pretzels filled with peanut butter are everywhere. 

Keith bends down to start picking things up. “I am so sorry!” Keith panics. “It’s because I made a comment about your bag. Oh my god, I did this.”

Shiro laughs and grabs Keith’s wrist, making him freeze. “It’s not your fault. I basically admitted I put off getting a new one knowing this was bound to happen.” He gestures at all his things.

They manage to gather the entirety of Shiro’s stuff into his arms by the time they reach the main floor of the building. Keith looks at Shiro cradling everything in his arms and blurts it out before he can second guess himself. “Hey, let me take you to get a new bag.”

Shiro looks surprised. “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll go when I have some time in a few weeks.”

“A few weeks?” Keith balks.

“Yeah, I can’t right now because this paycheck needs to go to some books I need for class, but I’ll have time eventually.”

“Do you have another bag to use?” Keith asks.

“Maybe, but it’s probably in the same shape,” Shiro shrugs.

Keith makes a decision. “Nope,” he snaps the end of the word. “You’re coming with me. You’re getting a new bag.”

 “Keith, you don’t have to, really,” Shiro shakes his head.

“I want to, come on,” Keith grabs Shiro’s arm, and what a bad idea now Keith knows for certain what Shiro’s bicep feels like, and he never wants to let go. He’s also confronted with the fact that he is walking with Shiro and needs to fill the silence somehow. “So, uh, Lance says you’re a student?”

“Yeah!” Shiro says the affirmation like an excited puppy. Keith thinks he kind of looks like one, too. “I’m in grad school for aerospace engineering.”

“So you like it, huh,” Keith comments with a small, charmed smile that he can’t stop over Shiro’s enthusiasm.

“I love it, I’m so happy to be back in school,” Shiro’s expression does not decrease even a tiny bit in its luster. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that,” Keith says.

“Yeah, I know I’m weird,” Shiro shrugs a little, shifting the pile of things in his arms.

“You’re not,” Keith replies, and Shiro’s face turns a light pink and he mumbles out a thanks.

After a few more blocks of walking, Keith stops in front of the store he’s always bought his backpacks and messenger bags from. He doesn’t think twice before opening the door and gesturing Shiro inside, but Shiro keeps standing on the sidewalk.

“No, Keith, no way,” Shiro shakes his head. “I can’t get my bag from here.”

Keith frowns. “Why? You don’t like the company? All my bags from here hold up forever.”

“No, it’s just—Keith, a backpack here costs, what, $200? At least?” Shiro says.

“It’s good quality, worth it,” Keith shrugs. “Come on.”

Shiro seems to take a bit to contemplate his next move, but then Keith waves his hand making Shiro slowly follow.

Half an hour later, Shiro and Keith walk out of the store, the belongings from Shiro’s dearly departed bag now in a brand new backpack hanging off one shoulder, and in his other hand, he has a shopping bag with a messenger bag as well. Keith had insisted that Shiro should have options and purchased the other one as well.

“Keith, thank you,” Shiro’s eyes are wide with awe. “I don’t even know what to say.”

“It’s no problem,” Keith shrugs again. Partly because he does care but mostly because maybe he wants to touch Shiro again, he reaches forward to grab the other strap of the backpack. “But use both shoulders when you have the backpack on, okay. Be good to your back.” Keith says this as if he isn’t criminally guilty of one-shouldering it all the time.

Shiro laughs and puts the bag on both his shoulders. “Of course, I’ll do that for you.” It earns Keith another beaming smile from Shiro.

“Good,” Keith replies. “You need to take care of yourself.” His face is on fire, Keith knows it.

“Sure thing,” Shiro gives a little salute, and it makes Keith melt a bit inside. He is speeding into dangerous territory, and he needs to start pulling back.

“So, uh,” Keith clears his throat. “Do you live far, or…”

“I live by campus and take the bus, and there’s a stop nearby.”

“No, let me take you home!” it’s something else out of Keith’s mouth before he can stop himself.

“You have a car?” Shiro’s eyebrows raise.

“Well, no, I have a motorcycle…” Keith trails off again and looks down at his feet. “You could ride on the back behind me,” he mumbles.

“Keith, you’ve done so much for me today,” Shiro says kindly, and then he lifts the bag in his hands. “And it’ll be easier for me to get this back on the bus.”

“Yeah, okay,” Keith nods. “Well, glad I could help.”

“Thank you so, so much, Keith, I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you for all this,” Shiro offers his unending gratitude again.

Keith shakes his head. “No, you don’t have to. Ever. Really.”

Shiro chuckles. “We’ll see. Okay, later, Keith,” Shiro turns and walks in the opposite direction, towards the bus stop. Keith stands there, watching Shiro get to the corner of the block and turn down the street out of view. Maybe, Keith thinks, maybe this is bad.

---

The next time Keith sees Shiro in the morning before work, he thanks Keith once more for the bag. 

“I’m two-shouldering it like I promised,” Shiro grins and points to his back with his thumbs.

Keith manages to get out a leveled reply, but he doesn’t miss the look shared between Allura and Lance. He prays they don’t ask about it later. And he does think he’s safe when Lance doesn’t say anything to Keith for the rest of the week.

Life generally moves back to normal, back to the standard mornings of grabbing one of his vests lying in a pile in the living room armchair to pull on over a button-up before greeting Lance, Allura, the twins, and occasionally Shiro in the hall. It’s back to standard Thursday evenings after work going out with Lance and the rest of the people in their department to the rooftop bar they frequent when the weather turns pleasant outside. Back to maybe Keith timing his evenings when he leaves for the gym to make sure he doesn’t cross paths with Shiro so he doesn’t sink himself into a deeper pit.

It’s Friday, Keith has no plans after work other than collapsing on his couch and throwing a frozen pizza into the oven. Unfortunately, Keith made a severe miscalculation and because he did not go grocery shopping, his stash of frozen pizzas is down to zero after he decided to treat himself to one earlier in the week. He groans, fighting the urge to lie down on his kitchen floor in defeat. Instead, he grabs up his wallet and keys deciding, fine, he’ll go to pick something up from his favorite pizza place instead. 

It should be comical that of course when he gets to the elevator, Shiro is already standing there waiting. It just makes Keith panic and wonder if he should pretend he forgot something, but Shiro turns around at the sound of Keith’s footsteps. How can Keith abandon that face? 

“Hey, Shiro,” Keith smiles and walks up beside him.

Shiro returns the greeting, and his face is a little pink.

“So…” Keith trails off, sticking his hands in the pockets of his jacket and rocking on his feet. “It’s been a while.”

“Yeah, you’ve seemed busy,” Shiro gives Keith a small smile, briefly turning to look at him as the elevator chimes its arrival and the doors open. 

“Work and stuff, yeah,” Keith uselessly replies once they’re inside the elevator. “You’ve been doing well watching Alana and Alexandra, though, I’ve seen.” The comment makes Shiro chuckle and tug on the straps of his backpack.

“I really do love getting to watch them,” Shiro says. “You should come over when Lance and Allura are both out sometime.”

“What makes you think I wouldn’t be out on a weekend with them, too?” Keith jabs back, remembering the conversation he had with Lance about this very matter.

“Are you telling me you crash their date nights?”

“No, just that I go out on weekends, too,” Keith knows how stubborn he sounds.

“I guess that’s true,” Shiro muses as they reach the main floor. “What’re your plans out tonight?”

“Oh, well,” Keith realizes his plan to go get a whole pizza to eat by himself is not going to sound the best to defend himself.

“It’s okay,” Shiro smiles again, eyes soft. “You don’t have to share your wild weekend plans with me.”

“It’s just pizza,” Keith mutters.

“Pizza?”

“Yeah, well, I wanted pizza, so I’m going to my favorite place,” Keith shrugs, they’re both standing in the lobby of the building now, other residents moving around them, in and out.

“I was right, I shouldn’t have asked about your weekend plans. They’re too wild for me, a stressed grad student,” Shiro’s shoulders are barely holding back shaking from laughter.

“You’re a student, shouldn’t you use the weekend for parties or something?” Keith replies sullenly. “I was a student once, too, you know, I remember.”

“Is that what you were like as a student?” Shiro crooks his head at an angle, and the result looks too much like a large puppy, which Keith has learned he cannot handle. “Did you trade in the sleeveless neon shirts for neutral Patagonia vests?”

“You’ll never know,” Keith teases back. Maybe this is edging into flirting territory, but he doesn’t mind it.

Shiro shifts to jut out a hip and put his thumb and forefinger on his chin, and then he raises an eyebrow for good measure to finish the image of contemplation. “I don’t know, I think I could probably ask Lance pretty easily for the evidence.”

“Don’t you dare,” Keith threatens knowing full well that Lance would jump at the opportunity to sell him out like that.

Shiro finally lets the laughter he’s been holding in burst out, and even though Keith wants to maintain his air of being annoyed, watching Shiro’s face somehow become brighter when consumed by how humored he is by the whole exchange infects Keith, and then he’s off laughing as well. 

“Okay,” Keith huffs out as he tries to suppress himself. “I’ll cut a deal with you.”

“Yeah?” Shiro’s face clears back to one eyebrow arched and a smirk.

“Get pizza with me, and I will allow you to see one, just one, singular photo from my college days,” Keith tells the other man his terms.

“Oh, how could I refuse that offer?” Shiro agrees immediately.

“Great, let’s get going,” Keith turns on his heels and heads towards the building’s exit, assuming that Shiro will follow him. It’s another short walk like when they went backpack shopping together, but this time they manage to fill the silence with some short conversations about the twins, Shiro’s classes, and Shiro trying to guess just how many Patagonia vests are in Keith’s closet. Keith refuses to allow Shiro to be privy to that knowledge—particularly the fact that they live on a chair rather than in the closet.

“It’s not my fault that’s what everyone in the office wears!” Keith attempts to defend himself, but Shiro just won’t listen, repeating sarcastic assurances.

“Sure, sure.”

“It’s true!”

When they arrive at the restaurant, Shiro and Keith are seated promptly and stare down the menu of their pizza options. Keith panics momentarily and wonders if their topping preferences are compatible before he mentally admonishes himself for even seeing that as an issue. What if Shiro was into pineapple on pizza? Keith was versatile, he could be down for that.

Somehow they come out of the ordering process with two pizzas, one meat and one vegetable, because Shiro wouldn’t be forthcoming about what toppings he wants.

“Are there any things here you don’t like?” Keith had asked as the waiter approached their table for the third time to ask if they were ready to order.

“No, that’s why we can get whatever you want, Keith,” Shiro had shaken his head.

“Cool,” Keith had put the menu down and ordered two large pizzas, while Shiro’s jaw dropped.

“That’s too much!”

“Leftovers, Shiro, leftovers.”

A family coming into the restaurant and getting seated at the booth next to them prompts conversation to return to the twins before diverting to their own families as they wait for their pizzas. Keith shares the story about a road trip through Texas his family went on the summer before Keith’s senior year of high school where the goal was to stop at every quirky and off-beat museum they could find.

“The best ones were obviously the Devil's Rope Barbed Wire Museum and the Salt Palace Museum,” Keith lists. “It’s all you need in life, some rope, and salt.”

“You use a lot of rope?” Shiro arches an eyebrow, and Keith can feel the suggestion.

“Just...to tie things, sometimes…” Keith explains poorly.

Shiro takes a sip of his Coke, clearly trying to hide a smile in his glass. Keith watches the condensation trail down the glass and drip onto the tabletop. “It’s okay, Keith, tell me more about the Texas Energy Museum.”

“It was so boring,” Keith whines, and Shiro doesn’t hide his smile this time. “What about you, don’t you have at least one chaotic family vacation story?” Keith turns the conversation to Shiro.

“I once made a presentation for my parents on why our family vacation that summer should be to go to NASA,” Shiro stirs the straw in his glass, not making eye contact with Keith.

Keith looks at Shiro through narrowed eyes. He’s only known the man in brief bursts across the past few months, but this information puts a pang of endearment in his heart. “Yeah, that sounds like something you would do, nerd,” Keith reaches for his glass and takes a long drink, pleased at the offended sound Shiro makes as he looks back up at Keith.

“Yeah, well, I had to make a very convincing argument for us to go to the JPL instead of camping like my parents both wanted,” Shiro tries to justify himself.

“But camping is nice,” Keith counters.

“I beg to differ.”

“Then you just haven’t gone camping properly. You’d have a great time if you went with me,” Keith means for it to be teasing and the realization of what he offered dawns on a delay as he watches Shiro’s eyebrows raise, shooting up to be partially hidden by how his bangs fall onto his forehead.

“I guess that means you have to take me camping sometime, then,” Shiro says, and is Keith imagining things or did that voice dip a little lower.

“Well, guess I have to,” Keith doesn’t mean to sound so petulant, but he’s trying to throw himself off the tracks of this conversation back to safe topics like was Shiro’s presentation on poster board or a Power Point, but he’s thankfully saved by the server returning with their two pizzas.

The sight of the just right amount of greasy pizzas and smell of cheese reminds Keith about how hungry he is, and he starts to tear into a veggie slice with Shiro following suit. A few minutes of silence passes between them as they both make their way through their first pieces, the sound of the restaurant filling their senses as well.

Shiro motions to Keith’s face in an attempt to communicate something, but he’s still chewing so no words come out. Keith frowns and watches Shiro hastily swallow to point at Keith’s face again. “You’ve got sauce on the side of your mouth.”

“Oh,” Keith says with surprise and tries to use his tongue to clean it off. He doesn’t miss how Shiro’s eyes track the movement. “Did I get it?”

“Uh, no,” Shiro croaks. “Here, let me—” Shiro says this at the same time he leans forward with a hand outstretched, and unfortunately Keith once again tries to use his tongue out to get rid of the sauce. In a terrifying moment, Shiro’s thumb touches the side of Keith’s mouth to wipe away marinara at the same time Keith’s tongue sticks out to the side to lick it away. The result is that Keith licks Shiro’s thumb. They both still, Shiro’s mouth drops open slightly and Keith stops breathing as the moment just hangs in the air. And then at the same time both of them retract from each other, hastily muttering apologies.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to—” Keith starts.

“No, I should have said what I was about to do,” Shiro shakes his head.

They both fall quiet again and keep staring at each other while Keith can’t stop thinking about how ridiculous this whole situation is. He breaks first, a tiny laugh bursting out of his mouth. Shiro frowns at first but then follows after, and then the two of them are covering their mouths to stifle the sound. When they both finally recover, Keith serves both himself and Shiro a slice of the monstrosity of a meat pizza.

“Now, then,” Keith relaxes while watching Shiro taking a bite of the slice. “How much do you remember of that presentation you gave your parents?”

Something a little devilish flashes in Shiro’s eyes and he leans forward. “Of course, my parents still talk about it.” Shiro clears his throat, “The year was 1958, and the U.S. found itself needing new heroes for a very different type of war,” Shiro begins, raising his hand and swiping through the air to mimic a marquee. 

Keith starts to laugh again. “Very solid start.”

“It gets better, and it would be even better if I could have the accompanying PowerPoint,” Shiro laments his lack of presentation visuals.

“Well, then you’re going to have to try extra hard to convince me,” Keith replies. “And then I’ll show you my college photo.”

“I thought I just had to join you for pizza?” Shiro gasps with faux scandalization.

“This is just part of the going out for pizza process,” Keith shrugs and takes another bite, face remaining passive when all he wants to do is fall into another giggling fit at Shiro.

“I’ll do my best, then,” Shiro says solemnly and starts reciting the incredibly still remembered presentation. At the end, Shiro does a little flourish of a fake bow, or as much as he can while seated in a restaurant booth. Keith gives him a theatrical clap with hands raised. “Thank you, thank you,” Shiro beams, and he really looks better in fluorescent lighting than anyone has the right to be, Keith thinks.

“You know what, I think you deserve your reward for such a convincing presentation,” Keith says as he pulls his phone out of his pocket. Shiro perks up assuming that Keith is about to show him some revealing college frat party picture of Keith, but Keith is having fun so he takes a look at the notifications on his screen before putting the phone down to lean over and place another slice of pizza on Shiro’s plate. “More pizza!”

Shiro’s jaw drops open slightly as he looks at the cheesy vegetable and carb goodness in front of him before looking back at Keith and pouting. It’s cute. “This wasn’t what I was promised.”

“Did I promise you something?” Keith quirks his head and taps the side of his face with a finger contemplatively. “Why, Shiro, I think I did.” They’re flirting, they’re doing this, it’s happening, Keith thinks. He picks up his phone and swipes through some options before settling on the photo he deems worthy of sharing with Shiro and slides it across the table.

Keith watches as a slow smile unfurls across Shiro’s face. “Wow,” Shiro chuckles. “Better than I imagined.” 

The photo is from Keith’s last semester at college during a party thrown at Lance’s frat house. There had been a slip-n-slide covered in bottles and bottles of body glitter gel that had been bought from the nearby dollar store. In the photo, Keith had just recently slid through it and was standing with an arm raised holding the beer he was given for his slide well done. Glitter coated his body as well as the bright red and slightly tight red swimming trunks he was wearing, and the sun hit just right to make him shimmer, which is a little ridiculous, he’ll admit. Keith also believes his abs look particularly good here.

“I knew you were wild in college,” Shiro looks just a tiny bit smug. “I have a similar picture.”

Now it’s Keith’s turn for his lips to part slightly in surprise. It makes sense that Shiro would have a frat past—look at that fucking snapback—but the information still takes Keith by surprise. “I want to see!”

Shiro turns Keith’s phone back to him. “Some other time.”

“What other time?”

“Well, I need to have some leverage against you don’t I?” Shiro smiles wide. “What if I need someone to help me eat endless pasta or something?”

“You drive a hard bargain, but okay,” Keith says slowly, unsure of what he’s really agreeing to in the future but still into it nonetheless.

“Good,” Shiro smiles again, and this time it’s simple and boyishly cute. Keith really is in this deep.

They finish eating as much pizza as they can while going between comfortable silence and sharing other small stories. At the end when they’re packing up the leftovers Keith feels like he knows Shiro much better and he’s not just Lance and Allura’s babysitter. Keith hands Shiro the two bags of the leftover pizza when they exit the restaurant, using the guise of needing to tie his shoes to leave Shiro with both bags. When he stands back up, Shiro holds out one bag to Keith. 

“No, thanks,” Keith shakes his head, “I decided I didn’t want any leftovers.”

“But, Keith, you bought all this!” Shiro exclaims. “You can’t give it all to me!”

“You see, Shiro, I bought it so I can do whatever I want with it, and I want to give it to you,” Keith crosses his arms.

Shiro lowers the outstretched arm in defeat. “Fine, I’m not going to say no to pizza.” He’s pouting again.

“Good boy,” Keith laughs. Shiro coughs and turns his head away from Keith, but in the setting sun, Keith can see the color on Shiro’s cheeks. Well, fuck. “Uh, so thanks for letting me drag you along.”

Shiro looks back at Keith. “Thanks for the pizza.” They stand there for a few seconds, unsure of what to do, and then Shiro shifts both bags to one hand to stick the newly freed one out to Keith. It takes Keith a heartbeat to realize what Shiro is doing, and Keith shakes Shiro’s hand. It feels like the wrong way to end the evening, but Keith doesn’t know what would be right either. 

“Well, I’ll see you around,” Keith says when they let go of their hands. “You’re going to the bus, I assume?”

Shiro nods, “Yep, I have to go that way,” he gestures to the other end of the block, the opposite direction Keith needs to go.

“Cool, see you, Shiro,” Keith says and starts to walk backward. 

“Bye, Keith,” Shiro gives a little wave before turning and walking away. Keith watches Shiro walk away until he’s about to go around the corner, and then Keith turns to walk away, missing Shiro turning back to look at him.

---

After their pizza outing, Keith doesn’t see Shiro too often, just for brief snatches of time in the morning when he’s at Lance and Allura’s before leaving for work and sometimes Shiro hastily waves in the evening when he leaves. Keith tries to tell himself that it’s because Shiro is in school, he’s working on a Ph.D, of course his busy. He’s not avoiding Keith. No, not at all.

But what if he is.

“Can you stop moping,” Lance complains at lunch one day. It’s been two weeks since the pizza day.

“I’m not moping, I’m just tired,” Keith mutters from behind his sandwich.

“Don’t lie to me, man, I know you’re just sad about Shiro probably.”

“Am not!” Keith states loudly sounding just slightly like a child being told they’re overreacting.

“He’s got some big assignment that’s due or something, I didn’t really listen when he explained it to Allura. It just went whoosh,"  Lance moves his hand quickly over his head as he makes the sound. “So he’s been running out every day he’s over to make the earlier bus back to campus.”

“That’s cool,” Keith feels relief that it isn’t Keith that’s making Shiro run away whenever they cross paths, but he does feel exceptionally dumb now for worrying.

“Wow, that is what you were worrying about, you thought he was avoiding you,” Lance says flatly.

“I was not,” Keith really needs to come up with better replies to Lance for this conversation.

But it turns out that Keith doesn’t have to wait that long to get an opportunity to see Shiro. He worked late at the office and then was confronted with the reminder that he needed to go grocery shopping, so Keith reluctantly turned on his path walking home to go towards the store. He trails through the aisles in a tired trance as he throws items he needs into his basket. When Keith rounds the cereal aisle, he’s snapped back into his body at the sight of Shiro standing there. He’s wearing tight joggers and a hoodie with the snapback on his head as always and the messenger bag Keith got him slung across his back. His legs are in a wide stance with his basket sitting on the ground between them, and Shiro has two cereal boxes in his hands, brow furrowed as he examines the nutrition panels. It’s hotter than Keith wants to admit; no one should look that powerful while evaluating Cheerios.

“Hey,” Keith greets Shiro casually as he walks up to him in the aisle. 

Shiro jumps, apparently much more engrossed in his cereal boxes than Keith thought. Upon seeing who had snuck up on him, Shiro’s face breaks into a smile. Keith can see the dark circles under Shiro’s eyes, and he wants to let Shiro curl into his arms and sleep to get rid of them. Instead, he smiles back at Shiro, who puts away one box back on the shelf and drops the other into his basket. “Keith! It’s good to see you,” Shiro grins and places a hand on Keith’s shoulder. What a big hand Shiro has.

“Fancy running into you here,” Keith keeps as casual as he can. “Kind of far from where you live to be doing your groceries.”

Shiro shrugs. “It’s easier for me to get groceries here and take the bus home than go home and then out again for groceries,” he explains, and Keith nods in understanding.

“So, Lance told me you’ve been busy?” Keith asks.

“Yeah,” Shiro sighs. “One of my classes has a major project that’s due in a few weeks, and there’s this big formal public presentation at the end of it. It’s eating up all my time between that and working. I’m just very tired and would very much like to take a nap. Anywhere. Anywhere would do at all right now,” Shiro gets a faraway look in his eyes, the tell-tale look of a student fantasizing about all the sleep they want to have. “I’d sleep on this floor, your shoulder...anywhere.”

As much as Keith likes the sound of Shiro taking a nap on his shoulder and would gladly offer up that piece of his body’s real estate, Keith laughs it off and pats Shiro’s chest gently. It’s so firm . “Remember to take care of yourself, okay?” Keith tells him jokingly. “If not for me, for Al Squared. They’d be devastated if their babysitter collapsed from exhaustion.”

“You’re right,” Shiro’s face becomes solemn. “If for no one else, for those two angels, I must.”

“That’s what I want to hear,” Keith smiles at Shiro, and the other man returns the fond expression. “So, are you done or still have more shopping to do?” he asks.

Shiro looks down at his basket. “No, I think I’m done,” Shiro nods. “How about you?”

Keith isn’t sure if he still needs anything, but he’s got no reason to stick around the store if Shiro is leaving as well. He walks with Shiro toward the checkout lines and tells Shiro a little bit of what he’s been up to the past few weeks, nothing terribly exciting, but Shiro still listens with full attention and even asks a few questions about Keith’s job. It’s nice. They talk through the cashier scanning Shiro’s items and then pause so Shiro can pay.

“It’s declined,” the bored cashier holds the card back out to Shiro.

“What?” Shiro’s eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Can you try again, please?”

The cashier shrugs and swipes the card again, but the same error comes up. “Still declined, man.”

Shiro swears quietly under his breath and starts looking through his wallet, but Keith can see that there is no cash. The only card Shiro has is his declined debit card. “I forgot a payment was going to be drawn from my account today, just hold on, I’m so sorry,” Shiro says to the cashier, voice getting more flustered by the second, and then starts opening zippers on his bag. It becomes clear that he’s going to come up empty-handed from this search.

“Just use this card,” Keith tells the cashier and holds his credit card out to him. The cashier, whose name tag says Rolo, looks at him unsure.

“Keith, no, you can’t,” Shiro shakes his head and frowns.

“Yes, I very much can, please, just use this card,” Keith says again, and Rolo takes it and charges him for Shiro’s groceries all while Shiro continues to try and say no. Keith signs for the purchase, “It’s done,” he declares to Shiro.

“Keith, you didn’t have to…” Shiro’s face is burning red, and Keith really hopes he didn’t embarrass the other man. “You keep doing so much for me.”

“What?” Keith tries to deflect and watches the cashier start to scan his groceries. “Some pizza and groceries, that’s not much.”

“And the bags,” Shiro adds.

“Oh, well, that’s so long ago now, that barely counts,” Keith waves Shiro’s words off and pays for his own groceries. He thanks Rolo the cashier and picks up his bags, walking towards the exit, and Shiro falls in step next to him.

“Keith…” Shiro starts slowly. “You really, you shouldn’t—”

“Shiro,” Keith stops walking abruptly and Shiro halts as well. “I wanted to. Please let me. Just allow it for me, okay?” Keith stares into Shiro’s eyes imploringly.

After gazing back at him for some more time, Shiro hesitantly nods. “Okay,” he says quietly. “Thank you, Keith.”

“Of course.”

“I’d hug you, but, one, we’re both holding groceries, and, two, I don’t know if you’d even want to.”

“Oh, I want to,” the words spill from Keith’s mouth a bit wistfully, and then he opens and closes his mouth several times trying to think how to recover from that.

“I’ll remember that,” Shiro smiles. They spend another few minutes standing there discussing when they’ll see each other next, likely when Shiro comes by to babysit the twins in two days, and as usual, Keith walks in the direction of his apartment building and Shiro turns towards his bus stop. Keith looks back to give Shiro one last glance.

When in two days Shiro comes to Allura and Lance’s before everyone goes to work, Keith is standing outside his apartment waiting. He hands Shiro an envelope and makes him promise that he won’t open it until he gets home that night. 

The next morning there’s a knock at Keith’s door as he’s about to step outside. When he opens the door, it’s Shiro.

“Keith, you didn’t have to,” the words tumble out of his mouth in a rush, completely forgoing any greeting.

“Good morning, Shiro,” Keith replies. He knows this is about what Keith gave him the other day. It was a gift card for a local grocery delivery company along with a year subscription for free delivery. “You already did so much, you didn’t have to give me this.” Shiro pulls the envelope from his bag—the bag that Keith got him.

“Shiro, will you listen to me. I want to, okay, please, it’s a break that you deserve, just something to make it easier on you,” Keith explains.

“But this is, like, three months worth of groceries for me, and then the delivery subscription…” Shiro trails off.

“Well, that’s good, then, it’ll get you through this project,” Keith says matter-of-factly.

“That’s not the point,” Shiro sounds just on the edge of exasperated. “My class project will be done later this month.”

“Shiro,” Keith says his name again and places his hands on the other’s shoulders. “Please let me do this for you because I want to. Because you work hard and deserve it. Please.”

“No one’s ever been this nice to me,” Shiro mutters.

“Really, no one?” Keith asks, the side of his mouth quirking up.

“No way,” Shiro smiles shyly, and it’s so overwhelmingly cute.

“So let me take care of you a little, cool?” Keith adds, and the question makes Shiro’s cheeks turn pink. He bites his lip and gives a little nod. “Cool,” Keith concludes. He’s glad that the conversation was so simple and went smoother than he hoped. The door to Allura and Lance’s apartment opens, and it’s Lance exclaiming that he thought he heard their voices talking. When Shiro turns around, Keith keeps one hand on his shoulder.

---

The weekend comes, and Lance and Allura ask Keith if he wants to join on a family trip to the mall. “We need clothes for the girls, and we need a few things for our upcoming trip,” Allura explains. “Come with us, it’ll be nice.” So Keith piles into the backseat of his friends’ car in between the two car seats in which his godchildren sit for the small weekend excursion. The mall is on the other side of town, so they get a few car singalongs for the twins in during the drive. 

At the mall, Allura takes the twins and tells Keith and Lance to go do their own thing until they reconvene in the food court.

“Are you sure?” Lance says looking between Allura and his daughters holding her hands. “We can all stay together?”

“Divide and conquer, I’ll take care of my things and the girls, you get whatever you need,” Allura instructs, and then she walks away with Al and Al.

“So, what do you need to get?” Keith asks Lance.

“To be honest, I don’t remember, I think only Allura knows,” Lance shrugs, and they make their way to the store with the massage chairs.

After a few minutes in a womb-like massage chair, Lance gets a text from Allura threatening just a little bit that she hopes he’s buying shirts for the trip like he should be. Fearing the third-eye knowledge of his wife, Lance springs out of the chair and pulls Keith with him to the first department store he sees.

Lance is engrossed in polo shirts, and Keith abandons him to peruse more of the store. A mannequin display catches his eye, and Keith goes toward it to admire the duo of mannequins displaying two ways to style the same sweater, one casually with some joggers and the other a little more professional with a shirt underneath and some slacks. Neither outfit is something that Keith would ever wear, but he thinks that Shiro would look good in both of them. The formal option might even be something Shiro can wear for the presentation he has to give for his project. Keith looks through the stack of shirts and pants on the display and tries to decide which outfit is better and what size Shiro probably is. In the end, he shows a picture of Shiro—Lance sent it to him one day after Keith clearly was admiring Shiro a little more than his godchildren in it—to an employee who helps him decide on the size, and then Keith goes ahead and buys both outfits. 

“Hey, man, nice, you’re doing some shopping, too,” Lance says as he walks to where Keith is standing in line to checkout. Lance eyes the clothes. “Wait,” he says and then Keith can’t stop him before Lance is looking at the tags on the shirt at the top of the stack that Keith is holding. “These are expensive, and not your style, and definitely not your size.” He pauses. 

“They’re for Shiro, not me,” Keith explains.

“Uh, dude,” Lance says.

“What?”

“Uh, dude,” Lance repeats with slightly more emphasis.

“What, Lance?” Keith snaps.

“Are you going to buy lingerie for him next or what?” Lance shakes his head, and Keith takes the effort to shift all the clothes into one arm so he can give Lance a small push. Maybe a slightly bigger than a small push.

Lance holds his hands up to concede. “I’m just saying.”

“Shut up,” Keith mumbles and drops the clothes to the counter when it’s his turn. “These will look nice on Shiro.”

“Uh-huh,” Lance sounds skeptical but doesn’t press for anything else. Keith hopes he’s lucky enough that Lance will just let the whole thing go now.

---

Unfortunately, Keith is never that lucky. 

After returning from the mall excursion, Keith, Lance, and Allura get ready to go out again to meet up with their friends at a bar for their monthly reconvening of the gang, which means that Shiro is out in the hall when Keith exits his door. Shiro looks a little bit disheveled and out of breath as he knocks on the door to Allura and Lance’s apartment. The backpack Keith bought him sits squarely on Shiro’s broad shoulders, and Keith thinks about the clothes he has sitting in a gift box in his apartment. He wants to give them to Shiro at the end of the evening when they get back and before Shiro heads home.

“Hey,” Keith greets Shiro, voice a bit shaky, and he doesn’t understand why he’s nervous over the aspect of giving Shiro clothes later.

Shiro turns around and wipes his forehead under the ever-present backward snapback. “Keith! Hi!”

“You okay? You look…”

“Yeah,” Shiro nods as the front door opens, and Shiro turns back around to greet Allura. 

“Shee-wo, Shee-wo!” come the chants from the twins as they run to the door to greet their one and only favorite babysitter.

“Hey, girls!” Shiro smiles and crouches down to hug them and then stretches back to stand. “I’m so sorry for being late. The bus was running on a different route, and I had no idea, so I just got off as close as I could and ran here!” the breath that Shiro had just caught blows out of him as he apologizes to Allura, and Lance comes into view behind her in the apartment.

“No problem, man, thanks for being here,” Lance claps Shiro on the shoulder. 

“Thanks, I’ll pay more attention to the weekend service changes,” Shiro promises gratefully.

“I can give you a ride if you ever need,” Keith blurts out, and the three adult heads in the hallway turn to look at him. Lance raises both his eyebrows. “I just—Shiro, I can—I mean I already live here, and I like riding my bike, so I can, you know, yeah. Rides.”

“What a thoughtful and eloquent offer,” Shiro says, head tilting a small fraction and the corner of his mouth twitching up.

“That’s our boy, Keith, just dishing out generosity,” Lance adds.

“Keith, you’ve already done so much for me,” Shiro shakes his head.

“What has he already done for you?” Lance, the little shit, has to ask.

“Oh,” Shiro sounds surprised and then does a partial turn so they can see his back. “Keith got me this bag because mine broke. And another one, too.”

Lance mutters the brand name under his breath while it’s Allura’s turn to raise her eyebrows. “I see,” she simply says.

“Yeah, Great,” Keith coughs and looks down at his wrist. “I think we need to get going to meet Hunk and Pidge.” There is no watch on his wrist. “You know Pidge will give us sh—a hard time if we’re late.” Keith manages to remember to censor himself in time since the twins are still clinging to Shiro’s legs.

“Yeah, go on, have fun!” Shiro exclaims. “Alexandra, Alana, and I are going to have even more fun, though, aren’t we?” Shiro pats their heads gently and beams at them. A chorus of yeah s come from their tiny mouths.

The twins make their parents give another round of hugs and goodbyes to them, which Keith even gets wrangled into. Shiro watches with an amused smile as Alana smooshes Keith’s face together and declares “Keef is my favorite.”

“Looks like you have some competition,” Keith jokes at Shiro after Keith puts her back down from his arms.

Once they finally make it to Allura’s car and Keith slides into the backseat, Lance doesn’t spare a moment before twisting around in the front passenger’s seat to give Keith a look.

“What?” Keith barks out.

“Are you becoming my babysitter’s sugar daddy?” 

“What the fuck, Lance?” Keith yells and tries to follow up with something less crass but only manages to keep sputtering the start of words.

“You spent $500 on him just to buy two backpacks, man, and then the clothes earlier today at the mall,” Lance shakes head. “It’s the gateway purchase before you’re spinning him around the fitting rooms at Gucci.”

“YSL,” Keith mutters angrily, which was the wrong thing to do because Lance’s eyes go wide.

“What clothes?” Allura asks and tries to look at Keith in the rearview mirror.

“See! You’ve already put thought into this!”

“No! No. I felt bad because the bag broke in front of me, okay, and he’s got some important things coming up so I thought he’d need clothes for that...I just wanted to help the guy out.”

“You want to help him out with your dick,” Lance cackles as if the joke hasn’t been said by every other guy that works at their financial firm with them at least once. As if Lance hasn’t laughed every time he’s heard it and high-fived the guy who said it. It’s a shame Lance wasted his time using it on Keith with Allura in the car because no Chad or Evan here can congratulate him on joke well done.

“Maybe I should have left both of you with Shiro and taken the girls out instead,” Allura muses, eyes on the road.

“Keith would have liked that,” Lance moves his eyebrows in what Keith assumes was supposed to be a suggestive manner, but Lance never really mastered that move.

Keith fights the urge to kick the back of Lance’s seat, but that would just support what Allura is saying. This is also her car. He doesn’t want to upset her. Lance takes Keith’s silence as giving up and turns back around, assuming he won this round. Keith’s questioning their entire friendship.

Allura steers the conversation away from Keith’s misery to where Lance and Allura are going for their getaway vacation together. After the birth of the twins, the two of them had decided that every year in the spring they’d take a week trip alone to take a break from life. Last year the kids stayed with Lance’s family, which Keith assumed would happen again. Wrong.

“Shiro is going to stay with the girls during the trip this time, and we were hoping you’d be around to help him out? He’s going to be on Spring Break and has the time,” Allura tells Keith.

“Of course, I’m always happy to spend time with Al Squared,” Keith agrees.

“And a bonus of Shiro,” Lance adds in a sing-song voice. Keith punches the back of Lance’s headrest, and both of his friends yell at him for different reasons. Worth it.

They manage to make it to the restaurant without incident, mostly because Allura turns the volume of the radio up. Loud. Which leaves Keith and Lance to sit respectfully in their seats.

Hunk and Pidge are already sitting at the booth that the group will inevitably end up occupying for several hours into the evening. Everyone crowds in and exchanges hugs and greetings, getting settled with the first round of drinks and appetizers ordered. The usual conversation of catching up with everyone goes on through ordering main dishes and extends into getting their food. Once the rounds of information have been made with the inevitable segues in between, they lapse into a comfortable silence as they finish up eating. Lance finds this to be the perfect time to strike.

“So, Keith thinks our babysitter is hot.”

“Romelle?” Hunk looks confused and Pidge lets out a dejected sigh.

“No, not Romelle, we have a new babysitter,” Lance takes a drink from his beer for some form of dramatic pause. “Shiro.”

“Shiro as in my brother’s friend Shiro?” Pidge groans.

“That’s the one,” Allura replies.

This is brand new information to Lance apparently as he looks confusedly between Allura and Pidge. At least Keith isn’t the only one who didn’t know.

“Matt’s friend?” Lance asks.

Pidge just makes an affirmative noise, not affording him the worthiness of a real response. She turns to Keith, “He’s a good guy, never ask me info about him, just go to Matt.”

“I don’t like him like that!” Keith exclaims, hitting the table and causing everything on it to shake. “I don’t,” he adds more calmly.

“He spent $500 on a backpack for Shiro,” Lance says with a grin. “And bought clothes for him today.” Keith silently prays his thanks that Lance doesn’t know about the pizza and groceries.

This information makes Pidge and Hunk go crazy even as Keith tries to explain that it was two bags, but it seems Lance has successfully riled them up and this is going to go on forever. Maybe Keith hates his friends.

---

if u ever need anything i got u

Keith hits send on the text as he crawls into the backseat of Allura’s car. In order to be able to handle the combined unrelenting force of Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Allura (betrayer), Keith had maybe gone a few drinks past his limit. He’s drunk, for sure.

“I’m drunk,” Keith declares with all the grace of a four-year-old telling someone their age.

“So am I,” Lance adds as he struggles to buckle his seatbelt. Allura takes pity on her husband and does it for him. “Wow, my hero,” Lance looks at her as though she’d solved a global crisis. Allura giggles and places a quick kiss on his nose before settling back in the driver’s seat. “My wife,” Lance whispers to himself, seemingly surprised at his own life.

Successfully managing to get his own seatbelt on, Keith leans his head back on the headrest and closes his eyes to try and center himself back from the spin of alcohol. He’s managing to doze lightly when the phone still in his hand buzzes.

Keith?

Keith stares at the text for a minute before processing what he’s looking at. He’s drunk texted Shiro, and Shiro knows it was him.

“Did you give Shiro my number?” Keith asks, still staring at his phone.

“Just in case, I hope that was okay,” Allura looks back at Keith in the rearview mirror. “Why, did he text you? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, that’s cool, cool,” Keith does not sound cool. “Everything is fine, don’t worry,” he adds.

He means to reply with a simple hi, shiro, but his fingers get the best of him.

Shiroooooooo

Not a minute goes by before another text comes in.

Keeeeeeeeith

Well, that’s cute, Keith decides and he smiles down at his phone, but it’s time to listen to that part of his brain screaming at him to put the phone down already. He tosses it somewhere in the backseat and resumes his earlier attempt to center himself, which results in Keith successfully falling asleep. The next thing he becomes conscious of is Allura dragging his body out of the car and shoving his phone at his chest.

“Come on, Sleeping Beauties,” Allura sings, putting her arms around Keith and Lance’s shoulders and guiding them towards the elevator.

A more sober Keith would have figured that Shiro is waiting out in the hall because Allura probably alerted him to the fact she’s dragging two drunk grown men back into the building, but Keith is not that sober man right now. 

“So, it was a good night?” Shiro chuckles. Allura passes Keith to Shiro to stabilize, and this is exactly what Keith wants and what he fears most. “Thanks for the text earlier,” Shiro says to Keith.

“My pleasure,” Keith replies promptly, which gets another laugh from Shiro. Keith is vaguely aware of Allura using her spare key to open Keith’s apartment door because he is too busy taking a moment to appreciate how sturdy Shiro feels with his arm around Keith’s waist. Nice.

“The girls are in bed, but I’ll come back over to help and get my things,” Shiro tells Allura, who is now wrangling Lance-turned-octopus into their apartment.

When the light comes on in the apartment automatically, Keith has his first moment of panic at the situation and tries to push himself away from Shiro so he doesn’t see any more of Keith’s home and the general state of his life. It’s not like it’s bad per se, but Shiro definitely does not need to be aware that Keith has a tendency to pile his vests and jackets on the armchair in his living room instead of hanging them in the hall closet. There are also about seven glasses of water on his bedside table because he keeps taking new ones in the room before going to sleep and forgetting that there are already other ones there. These are all terrible aspects of Keith’s life to himself at this moment, so he does the reasonable, which is to try and push Shiro back out.

“No, no! Don’t need you here, thanks,” Keith shakes his head furiously while trying to direct Shiro away from entering the apartment further. Keith’s hands plant firmly on Shiro’s firm chest, which has to be one of Shiro’s tricks because that sturdy muscle distracts Keith from his task at hand because now his hands only let him think about touching the finest man that Keith has had the honor of being in the presence of. 

“Woah,” Shiro laughs kindly, gripping Keith’s wrists to pull him back. Keith also very much likes how it feels to have Shiro holding him like that. He wishes he could do that in another scenario. With all his focus on Shiro’s touch, Keith isn’t wholly sure how they make it to his kitchen, but then a glass of water is put in his hands. “Drink,” Shiro nods at the glass, and Keith quickly tries to comply and ends up spilling some down his shirt. Shiro has a funny look on his face while he watches Keith cough after drinking too fast, and he has a hand at Keith’s back slowly rubbing. Keith blinks slowly as he’s able to breathe properly again and tries to focus in on the drag of Shiro’s hand. “I think it’s bedtime,” Shiro states and pats Keith’s back, removing his hand. Keith whines at the loss of touch, but Shiro thinks it’s over being told to go to sleep. “I think you’ve partied enough and will be thankful to sleep.”

Shiro shifts to put his arm around Keith again and lead him in the direction of the bedroom. When Shiro eases Keith to sit on the end of the bed, Keith falls backward and spreads his arms out. “Come here,” Keith grumbles, but Shiro moves to crouch at the end of the bed instead. Keith’s heart races for a moment before he feels one shoe being untied and removed followed by the other. 

“Do you need anything else?” Shiro asks when he stands back up. He’s looking down at Keith from the end of the bed, and the positions they’re in make Keith feel consumed with how much he wants Shiro closer to him. Keith sticks a hand out toward Shiro. “Do you want me to pull you up?” Shiro asks.

“No, I want you to come down here,” Keith says as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. To drunk Keith, it is the most obvious thing.

Shiro does take a step forward and reaches out for Keith’s hand as he places one knee on the edge of the bed. The light is on in the room, and Keith watches as Shiro trails his eyes down Keith’s body. The look makes Keith’s breath hitch and he spreads his legs a little, one of them touches Shiro’s. “I think it’s best if you stay down there and I’m up here,” it’s as if that one additional point of contact alarmed Shiro, then he lets go and walks towards the door out of the room.

Keith panics and doesn’t know what to say or do, but he doesn’t want Shiro to leave. All that makes it out of his mouth in the hurry is a small cry of Shiro’s name. It makes the other man pause in the doorway and look back. There’s a smile on Shiro’s face but Keith doesn’t think it looks all that happy. 

“I’ll be back,” Shiro says gently.

Keith closes his eyes and nods feeling like he’s edging from that pleasant part of being drunk straight into sad and needy, which he hates. He tries to listen to Shiro’s movement in the apartment. The sound of the front door opening and closing gently makes Keith’s eyes prickle, and he’s so frustrated because there’s no reason he should be acting like this. But everything is a little clouded and fuzzy right now. Turning to his side, Keith drags himself up the bed so he can at least place his head on the pillow. He falls asleep curled in on himself in the middle of his bed. It might have been a hopeful dream, but Keith wakes up briefly to a hand touching his forehead and a voice that sounds like Shiro’s saying, “I’ll be here if you need anything.”

“Okay,” he mutters, never opening his eyes and burrowing into the blanket he now feels around him.

A sound wakes him up the following morning. Keith takes a few groggy moments to gather his thoughts before opening his eyes and pushing up out of bed. Looking down at the clothes from last night that he’s still wearing, the blurry memories of coming home and how he got to bed hit Keith like a ten-ton truck, and he falls back into bed groaning partly from embarrassment and partly from the throbbing headache. Attempting to hear if there’s any other sound, Keith is only met with silence. He had hoped just a little that Shiro had stuck around and the sound he heard was him in the apartment still, but it’s more likely to just have been someone in the hallway. Shiro had seen how pathetic Keith was last night and left, and he’ll probably never want to talk to him after that display. He lets himself fall asleep again.

He’s unsure what time he had woken up first and how long he slept again, but the second time Keith opens his eyes that day, he makes himself get up. Once he’s sitting up in bed, he stays there to unbutton his shirt and throw it over to his laundry hamper. That’s when he notices a glass on his bedside table and a post-it note. Two Advil are also sitting there. Keith reaches for the note.

drink this and take the Advil! Then you can get out of bed. -S

Warmth spreads through Keith replacing the cold disappointment from earlier. He does as instructed and then leaves his room. There’s a vague smell in the apartment of breakfast, and Keith thinks he’s hallucinating until he sees another note on the fridge.

eggs and bacon in the fridge, just microwave. didn’t know when you’d be up so no coffee :( sorry -S

An angel. That’s all Keith can think of as he reads the note again and finds it cute that Shiro signed both the notes. This means that Shiro had spent the night here and left in the morning. Keith had woken up to the sound of Shiro, but it was him leaving. He looks over to the living room and a neatly folded blanket indicates that Shiro had indeed slept there in case Keith needed him last night. Oh. On the coffee table in front of the couch where Shiro slept is the box with the clothes that Keith got him wrapped up. Keith wonders if Shiro saw his name on the card attached to the bow.

Keith takes the plate of breakfast food out of the fridge and microwaves it as Shiro’s note told him, and he wanders back to his room as he waits for the beeping of it being done. His phone sits on top of the dresser, and he wonders if Shiro put it there at some point. It’s near dead when he unlocks it and there is a barrage of notifications, mostly texts from his friends checking in on him and how hungover he is. But there’s nothing from Shiro, just the few drunken messages he’d sent last night. Whatever positive mood he’d gained from Shiro’s little notes deflates a few degrees. 

He stares at the open chat with Shiro on his phone while eating, leaning over the kitchen island. He should send something. Keith needs to thank Shiro for helping and dealing with a clingy drunk version of himself, and he spends the few minutes it takes for him to scarf down the food mentally drafting a message.

Hi, I’m sorry about last night but also thank for helping me. You also make some mean scrambled eggs! :)

Keith thinks the smile is appropriate since Shiro left them on his notes. Watching the screen after he sends until it goes dark, Keith sighs when no reply comes in. Sure it was only a few minutes after the message was sent, but he still had hoped Shiro would reply somewhat quickly.

He goes back to his room to shower and change, and when Keith steps out of the bathroom he hears knocking at his door. When he opens it, it’s Allura, who raises an eyebrow to see he’s come to the door wet with a towel wrapped around his waist. 

“I see you’re okay this morning,” Allura states.

“Yeah, getting there,” Keith nods.

“Do you want to come over to ours for lunch? It’s just sandwiches, but I’m assuming in usual Keith fashion, all you’ve done is drink coffee with some painkillers so far today?” Allura asks.

“Actually, I have eaten,” Keith informs her, but she looks skeptical. “Shiro made breakfast.”

“Shiro’s here?” Allura doesn’t hide the surprise on her voice.

“He’s not here now, but he stayed the night,” Keith replies, and then he thinks about how it sounded. “On the couch, he slept on the couch. I think to make sure I was okay. I don’t really remember much.”

Allura nods in acceptance of the explanation, and he’s thankful she doesn’t push for more. She tells him to come over for dinner that night anyway, which he gladly agrees to, before going back across the hall to her apartment. Keith closes his door and then leans back against it, shutting his eyes and taking a deep breath.

---

After that, life goes back to normal for Keith. For the most part. He video calls his parents. He goes to work. He goes to the gym. All the usual parts of his days. But he doesn’t see Shiro. Lance says that Shiro needed to take a few days off before he’s over for the full week of Lance and Allura’s vacation, so a temporary babysitter comes by for a few days to watch Alana and Alexandra. Lance assures the twins that their favorite babysitter will be back soon when they have a less than enthusiastic reaction to the substitute. “I’m sure Uncle Keith will make sure that Shiro comes by,” Lance adds and turns to look at Keith smugly.

Keith tells himself that Shiro’s actually busy and not avoiding him. He’s a busy student. It’s valid, totally. He thinks about texting Shiro, but when Shiro had replied to the thanks Keith had sent—four hours later—it had just been a simple it was no problem, glad you’re feeling better. It was neutral, and that’s what made Keith worry.

“Hey, do you have Romelle’s number?” Keith asks Lance as they walk home from work.

“Yeah,” Lance replies with suspicion. “Why?”

“Just have a question for her,” Keith shrugs.

“Does the question involve one Takashi Shirogane?” 

“No.”

“I think you meant, yes, Lance, it does.”

Keith knocks his shoulder into Lance’s, and his friend dramatically yells and rubs his arm as if actually hurt.

“What happened that night after we all got home?” Lance asks. Keith assumes he’d been keeping it inside, Allura no doubt warning Lance to leave Keith alone about it for now. 

“Nothing,” Keith says, and it’s the truth for the most part. “I was drunk, Shiro stayed to make sure I was okay. I didn’t even realize he was there, and he slept on the couch until the morning after.”

“I only have one thing to say for now,” Lance says.

“For now?” Keith looks at Lance with eyebrows raised.

“Yes, for now, please be careful,” Lance states, serious.

“Careful? Of what?”

“Just, for yourself. And for Shiro. He’s still our kids’ babysitter for as long as we can have him, and we care about him, and you’re our friend, and we care about you. So please,” Lance concludes.

“Okay,” Keith looks Lance in the eye with assurance.

“Okay,” Lance nods. “I’ll give you Romelle’s number, but use it responsibly.”

And that’s how later that night Keith gets Shiro’s address from Romelle, who was way too enthusiastic about sharing it. Keith wonders what Shiro has told her about Keith. He searches for student care package boxes online and finds a few that sound nice with a mix of health food snacks and then some junk food as well for good measure. He has them rush delivered for the next day. Did he pay almost triple the cost of the packages on shipping? Yes. But it feels worth it.

The whole next day at work he keeps refreshing the tracking for all the boxes to see when they’ll be delivered. Romelle knows Shiro’s schedule and tells Keith that he leaves for campus at 8am usually and doesn’t get home until anywhere between 8 and 10pm. Keith really hopes today is an early day for Shiro. The notification that the boxes were delivered comes in as Keith is wrapping up at work in the evening, and he has a little bounce in his step as he leaves the office with Lance. He’s excited for Shiro to have something nice waiting for him at home after a long day.

“Why are you so happy?” Lance narrows his eyes at Keith.

“No reason,” Keith purses his lips to try and stop smiling.

“Shiro reasons, got it,” Lance replies and then changes the discussion to his and Allura’s vacation plans.

Keith starts to worry the later it gets and he still doesn’t hear from Shiro that he’s maybe gone too far with sending stuff to his house. When he starts getting ready for bed early at 10, Keith has fully convinced himself that Shiro is avoiding him, but then his phone goes off.

He rushes to open the message from Shiro and sees a picture of all the boxes stacked inside what he assumes is Shiro’s apartment. The message comes in slightly delayed. 

Did you do this?

Yes, is it too much?

Too much as in TOO MUCH SNACKS
But honestly wow Keith you didn’t have to

It was the least I could do after your help

We’ve been over this, you’ve done so much for me!

And I’ll keep on doing it. I like doing things for you. You deserve it.

Aww you’re making me blush

Keith falls back into his bed at the message, wanting to hug his phone a little. 

I’m being honest! You work so hard, you deserve being spoiled a little.

Keith
I’ve never really thought about spending money on myself

Taking a deep breath and muttering, “here goes nothing,” Keith sends his reply.

Then let me do it for you ;)

Oh?
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here

You can say yes if you want

I mean what should I do for you I guess I mean do you want…

Keith panics. 

No, nothing. Just...let me take care of you?

Yeah
Okay
Yes

Good

I’m going to bed now, but, thank you, Keith.

You’re welcome. Goodnight, Shiro.

---

There’s no label on whatever they’re doing. Mostly Shiro and Keith just text and one day Shiro calls Keith because he’s too tired to type and would rather just speak and listen. That was Keith’s favorite time. They talk about everything and nothing. A lot of time is spent talking about all the things Shiro needs to get done over the next few days in order to have a slightly less stressful Spring Break when he’s over babysitting the twins. The presentation for his project is the Friday after Spring Break, which they both have agreed is entirely unfair.

I just wish I could get this done with before break you know? So I don’t have to think about it

You need to relax

I can’t lol no time!
They offer massages at my gym and I always think I’ll reserve a spot but all that’s going to happen is they’ll realize I’m too tense there’s no hope

Have you ever had a professional massage?

No

Do you want to?

I mean...yeah, maybe

Okay

Keith books Shiro a massage at a well-known spa in the city on the last day before he has to come watch the girls. It’s worth it just for how excited Shiro looks in the selfie he sends of himself at the spa wearing one of their signature fluffy white robes with the logo embroidered in silver.

---

It was a whirlwind of a morning when Allura and Lance set off for their vacation. Keith dropped them off at the airport bright and early in their car after a groggy goodbye from the twins. Having been so preoccupied with helping load the car and getting them going, Keith hadn’t even had time to say more than hi to Shiro when he got to the apartment. Then Keith had to drive the car back to the building and run to work himself. 

To Keith’s surprise, he gets a text from Shiro in the afternoon asking if Keith wants to join Shiro and the twins for dinner that evening. Keith agrees right away, saying he’ll pick something up on the way home and that he’ll call to ask what everyone wants when he’s leaving work. With the prospect of getting to spend the evening with Shiro and his godchildren, Keith’s mood improves drastically to get him through the day.

“Have we decided what we want?” Keith asks Shiro when the other man picks up the phone. As soon as he’d exited the elevator at work, Keith had hit call on Shiro’s contact.

“We had a very long discussion, many excellent points were raised,” Shiro begins with fake solemnity. “And the Dinner Caucus has decided on pizza.”

“Dinner Caucus, huh,” Keith chuckles into the phone and starts walking in the direction of his favorite pizza place, thinking about the first time he went there with Shiro. “I’m sure you named that.”

“Actually, Alana is very well-versed in governmental terms,” Shiro keeps his serious tone, but there’s a touch of mirth.

“She’ll be an excellent senator one day, I’m sure,” Keith laughs.

“Senator Alana, Chief of Staff Alexandra, what would you like on the pizzas?”

Keith hears two voices yell, “CHEESE!”

When Keith arrives at Lance and Allura’s apartment holding two boxes of pizza and some cinnamon sticks, because why not, Shiro opens the door with a single hair roller stuck in his long bangs. “Pizza boy is here!” he exclaims at Keith.

“Pizza boy? Excuse me, but also, nice look,” Keith hands off the boxes to Shiro who walks them to the kitchen and the twins run up to greet him. He sits on the ground and lets them attack Uncle Keef with hugs and kisses, and somehow a butterfly sticker ends up on his forehead. 

“Nice look,” Shiro repeats back at him when Keith gets up and tries to remove the sticker. “I was a judge for our Pizza Caucus and apparently judges wear fancy curled wigs according to Alexandra,” Shiro explains the errant hair curler and removes it from his bangs. The hair is fluffier than normal somehow, and Shiro spends a minute trying to fix it. Keith walks up and smooths the hair down and gets it looking better. He doesn’t look at Shiro’s eyes but feels them on him as they stand so close, Shiro definitely feeling Keith’s breath on his face. When Keith steps back, Shiro tells the girls to get cleaned up for dinner, and they both run off.

“Thanks for inviting me,” Keith says, walking away from Shiro to sit at the table. It had already been set, and Keith can tell with some help from the twins because there are stickers on the placemats that are not usually there.

“Of course,” Shiro replies, and he takes a seat across from Keith. “I figured it would be nice. Also, I have a question for you.”

“Okay.”

“Would you be willing to be over for dinner all week? I think they’d like that,” Shiro asks.

“Just they’d like that?” Keith smirks.

“I would like it as well,” Shiro adds, and he’s blushing. 

It should feel weird to Keith that when he walked in, the two of them just set about in motion, and they still haven’t defined things between them. Keith doesn’t think he’s reading it wrong, Shiro definitely is into him, which Keith very much reciprocates, but neither of them has made the move yet. Lance’s words of being careful echo in the back of Keith’s head, and he wonders if Shiro heard something similar. They’re moving at a glacial pace towards each other, waiting to crack.

Alana and Alexandra run to the table, excited about the pizza, so Shiro and Keith are broken from their conversation and focus on serving the kids and making sure they’re all set. Discussion topics about cartoons from earlier that day and the book Shiro is reading to them dominate their dinner table talk, which is mostly the girls yelling three words about how they feel or something they saw. It’s lively, and Shiro and Keith share a few smiles throughout the meal. When they’re done, Keith offers to take the girls to get them cleaned up and get a video call in with Allura and Lance while Shiro tends to doing the dishes.

Once everything is squared away and the girls are put to bed, Keith’s heart feels a little more full than usual. It’s not as if he’s never spent this much time with the twins and helped Allura and Lance out, but this evening just felt different.

Shiro and Keith linger at the front door.

“Thanks again,” Shiro tells Keith.

“It’s nothing,” Keith brushes it off.

“You keep doing that, acting like what you do is nothing,” Shiro’s frown isn’t wholly serious, so Keith knows he isn’t really upset.

“I told you,” Keith pokes Shiro in the chest. “This was for my godchildren tonight.”

“And what about everything else?” Shiro asks, his eyes dip to Keith’s finger, drag up to his mouth, and then settle back on Keith’s eyes.

“Well, that’s been for me...and you…” Keith trails off. Shiro raises a hand and loosely grasps Keith’s wrist. 

“Keith,” Shiro breathes his name out slowly, quietly.

“If we start this right now, I won’t be able to stop,” Keith says, fighting the desire to curl the arm not in Shiro’s hold around those broad shoulders and bring their mouths together. But it’s true, the second they do that, Keith won’t want to let go of Shiro.

Shiro surprises Keith by letting out a small groan and then leaning his forehead down, resting it against Keith’s. Shiro’s eyes are closed, and Keith can count every eyelash. At this point, Keith thinks to hell with it, and does put his arm around as much of Shiro as he can while Shiro lets go of Keith’s wrist and wraps his arms around Keith. It’s a tight embrace with Keith’s head tucked into Shiro’s chest and Shiro’s face in Keith’s neck.

“I like you,” Shiro mumbles into Keith’s neck.

“Yeah?” Keith smiles against Shiro’s chest.

“Yeah,” Shiro sighs. “A lot. And it’s not just because…”

“I know,” Keith breathes in Shiro’s scent.

“You’re thoughtful and kind, and you care so much,” Shiro says. “And I think you’re hot, even in that unfortunate college picture.”

Keith makes a sound of protest and pokes Shiro’s back, which makes both of them laugh. They push their faces more into each other in order to muffle the sounds from waking the twins. After calming down they indulge in a few more minutes of just holding each other before letting go.

“Thanks for everything,” Shiro whispers as he opens the door for Keith.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Keith replies, and he feels like he glides over to his apartment across the hall.

---

The rest of the week goes about the same except for one time when Shiro attempts to make homemade pasta sauce and just ends up with burned tomatoes.

“Just use the bottled stuff,” Keith chastised as they fanned smoke out of the kitchen and the twins kept laughing at how Uncle Keef and Shiwo almost burned down the building.

And if sometimes Shiro and Keith have a leg stretched out under the table so they can touch their feet together or briefly link their fingers together, well, that’s nice, too. It’s all they let themselves have as they go through the days. 

During a game of Life, Alana asks Keith if he’s marrying Shiro when he lands on the marriage tile, and they both blush. “You can’t marry other people in the game,” Shiro tells her, and Keith spends a few pleased moments that he didn’t say anything against marrying Keith.

On the final evening of taking care of the twins before Allura and Lance’s return, Keith and Shiro are wrapped in their usual farewell of a tight hug where they want to crawl into each other. Keith pulls back, remembering. “Stay here, I have something for you,” Keith tells Shiro and opens the front door.

“Wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else,” Shiro muses with an affectionate smile.

Keith hurries back to his apartment and grabs the box from the department store and a smaller box he got yesterday. He hands Shiro both boxes, and the other man looks between them and Keith for a moment. “What is this?” he asks.

“Just a little something for you,” Keith shrugs. 

“A little,” Shiro scoffs. “Which one do I open first?”

“The bigger one,” Keith instructs, and then he watches Shiro lift the box lid to reveal the clothes that Keith had bought him. “I thought it’d be nice for your presentation,” Keith explains as Shiro pulls the sweater up to examine.

“This is so soft,” Shiro states.

“Do you like it?”

Shiro looks at Keith. “Beautiful.” Keith has a feeling Shiro isn’t just talking about the sweater. Once he looks at the other garments and carefully packs them back into the box, Shiro picks up the small box. “So, what’s this?” he asks.

“Guess you have to look to find out,” Keith teases.

After opening the box carefully, Shiro looks confused at what’s inside, so Keith moves closer to explain.

“It’s collar pins,” he tells Shiro. “They go on the shirt you wear under that sweater, and it’s just a nice little touch.”

“I know I just said this, but they’re beautiful,” Shiro murmurs and pulls one out of the box to examine. They’re a matching set, polished amethyst rounded and set inside silver. “Thank you, Keith,” Shiro’s voice is heavy with gratefulness and gently places the pin back in the box before closing it and pulling Keith in for another hug. “There’s no way I’ll fuck up the presentation now.”

“You better not,” Keith playfully pokes Shiro’s side. He doesn’t want to let go.

---

Allura and Lance’s flight returns on a Sunday, so with Shiro’s help, he gets the twins into their car seats to take them to the airport to pick up their parents. Keith and Shiro had spent the morning getting the apartment ready, making sure it was clean and everything in place before Allura and Lance returned. Once the girls are safely buckled in, Shiro and Keith move to stand behind the car.

“So, you’re going back?” Keith asks. He knows full well that Shiro is going to go get his things and take the bus back to his place to get settled and back into finishing up his work for class and the project presentation. “You could wait, and I’ll take you later,” Keith tries to offer again, but he’s met with the same small smile from Shiro.

“I told you, Keith,” Shiro moves a hand to link their index fingers. “It’s better if I take the bus back, it gives me a few more hours.”

“Fine,” Keith agrees stubbornly. “But I’ll see you next week?” Keith is itching to touch Shiro more than the stolen moments they’ve had in fear of the twins seeing anything.

“Yeah, I just have to get through this presentation,” Shiro frowns. He’s getting the week off from babysitting Alana and Alexandra after this time with them to refocus on school. Keith can’t stop thinking of all the things he wants to do to Shiro once they finally have time. He’s played it off like they’ll get dinner together Friday evening when Keith gets off from work and Shiro completes his presentation earlier in the day, but Keith has something else planned.

“Good luck, just think of it like the presentation you gave your parents about going to NASA,” Keith says, the corners of his mouth rising. Shiro laughs and drops his forehead to rest on Keith’s. 

“You’re the best,” Shiro breathes out. He glances to the car and then back at Keith before dipping down to place a chaste kiss on Keith’s cheek. Shiro lingers there for a second before he pulls back.

“No fair,” Keith pouts, feeling fire on his face from Shiro’s lips’ point of contact and desire.

Shiro chuckles and wraps an arm around Keith for one more minute. “Friday, we can do anything.”

---

On Friday morning, Keith doesn’t go with Lance but follows Allura down to the garage and then to his bike. He’s taken the day off work and has his helmet tucked under one arm and is carrying a spare in his hand. After storing the extra helmet, he gets on the bike and feels it come to life. Allura waves at him from her car as she pulls out of the garage and Keith follows behind.

He weaves through the traffic thinking about what route he should go in surprising Shiro at the presentation. Would it distract him if Keith found him before? Or would it help for Shiro to know he’s there? The back-and-forth wars in his head as he gets closer and closer to the university campus, and when he finally parks in the visitors’ area, Keith is no closer to deciding on what he’ll do. Allura showed Keith on a campus map before they left where he needed to go for the engineering department building, and he remembers it, for the most part, getting turned around in a few places, before finally finding it and following other people inside.

The auditorium seating classroom reminds Keith of all the large classes he took in college for chemistry and physics, and he has fond memories of getting bored during the stoichiometry lecture and watching Hunk and Pidge each take turns drawing a line on a piece of paper until it looked like a demon lion. Keith sees Shiro standing in a corner with who he assumes are the other grad students presenting today for the class, and they all look like a huddled mass of nerves. He’s wearing the outfit and collar pins that Keith got him, and possessive heat courses through Keith at the sight. 

Deciding it’s probably best to leave Shiro alone for now, Keith works his way through the third row and takes a seat a little off-center. It’s a bold move knowing he’ll be stuck there through all the presentations, and he doesn’t even know when Shiro’s turn will be. But, he’ll have a clear view of Shiro, and Shiro should also be able to see him as well.

To Keith’s surprise when he checks his phone, Allura sent multiple thumbs up and heart emojis. He replies with an eye roll and a “thanks” and tucks away his phone attempting to look at least somewhat interested in the day’s presentations and not just hyper-focused on one in particular.

Someone who Keith knows is the course professor that Shiro has talked about before, Professor Smythe, claps his hands, and everyone quiets for a moment in the room. “We’ll be starting in five minutes, please take your seats.” Noises of shuffling fill the room and Keith is a bit surprised at the high turnout for a series of academic presentations.

The students presenting move to stand at the side of the room, and Shiro still hasn’t looked over to where Keith is sitting; he hasn’t looked over at the seats at all. Keith’s been watching. That’s when it dawns on Keith that Shiro is nervous and avoiding gazing over at the crowd of people that have shown up, and the realization makes Keith ache to go over and tell Shiro that he’s going to do great.

And he tries, Keith really does, to try and pay attention to the presentations of Shiro’s classmates—they’re pretty interesting actually—but his eyes always end up wandering back to where Shiro is standing against the wall occasionally looking down at the index card in his hand. 

They’re finally down to two last students, and Keith watches as the professor goes back to the podium to introduce the next presenter. Keith wants to sigh in relief when Shiro is announced. 

Light applause greets Shiro as he takes his position at the front of the room, and a presentation pops up on the screen behind him. Shiro clears his throat and looks up at the audience at last, and his eyes automatically settle on Keith. Time seems to stop for Shiro as he keeps looking at Keith, so Keith panics and does the first thing he thinks of, which is to give two thumbs up at Shiro and smile as widely as possible. If Keith had cheerleading pom poms right now he would do a whole routine in support of Shiro. 

It appears to be enough to snap Shiro out of the moment. He smiles back timidly at Keith before looking down at his index card, biting his lip, and then squaring his face back to something serious. 

Keith’s chest swells watching Shiro greet everyone and start the presentation. He barely ever stumbles over a word and makes his points clearly. Now, Keith doesn’t think he has some hidden academic kink, but maybe he does.

When Shiro finishes, Keith has to restrain himself from jumping up and cheering before running over to Shiro, but he supposes that’s not quite the right thing to do in this situation. Instead, Keith remains seated through the last presentation, occasionally stealing glances over where Shiro is standing, and he always catches the other’s eyes on him as well. The final presentation was wonderful, Keith is sure, but as soon as it’s over and the professor finishes his thanks to the students and attendees, Keith springs to his feet and makes his way out of his row. As he hurriedly but carefully moves past people lingering in their seats, Keith watches Shiro thank people as politely as possible that approach him and move on. Shiro jumps the steps two at a time while Keith runs down them until they crash into each other in a tight hug. Keith’s feet lift off from the ground just a little bit as Shiro envelopes him.

“You didn’t say you were coming,” Shiro whispers.

“Surprise,” Keith smirks into Shiro’s shoulder.

“This is the best surprise,” Shiro replies, and it’s a little bit cheesy, but Keith is charmed nonetheless.

“Want to get out of here, or do you still have obligations?” Keith pulls back a little and asks, but he keeps his arms around Shiro.

“Let’s go, I’m all yours,” Shiro’s voice sounds like he’s buzzing to leave.

“Finally,” Keith sighs, and he lets go of Shiro in order to hold his hand and pulls the other man along with him out of the room and building towards his parked motorcycle. “Here,” Keith thrusts the spare helmet he brought to Shiro’s chest.

Keith tilts his head to the side when Shiro gets the helmet on, the little white fluff of his bangs sticking out a tiny bit into the eyes area. Between that and the outfit, Keith thinks Shiro looks cute and tells him as much.

“I thought motorcycle gear was supposed to make me look hot,” Shiro huffs.

“We’ll work on that,” Keith hums as he fastens his helmet, thinking of all the soft leather riding gear he can buy to fit Shiro in, and Keith does think that will be an incredibly good look on Shiro.

Keith wants nothing more than to take Shiro home right away and get under him or over him, really either works right now, but he still wants to treat Shiro to some things for all the work he’s been putting in. When they park outside of the seafood restaurant in the city known for its lavish brunches, Shiro takes off his helmet and says with confusion, “This isn’t your apartment building.”

“Very nice observation there, Shiro,” Keith gives a one-shoulder shrug. “I just want to treat you, that’s all.”

Shiro stands next to Keith and places a hand on his shoulder and then slides it up to his neck and grips the back of his head by the hair loosely. The metal is cool against his flesh that’s still warm from being under the helmet. “I think you’ve treated me quite well and enough already,” Shiro’s voice goes low.

“I really don’t think that I have,” Keith replies and ducks out of the hold. He takes the other helmet from Shiro’s hands and latches them to the bike, and then he starts walking up to the front door of the restaurant waiting to hear Shiro’s footsteps behind him on the rocky path. Keith hears an incredulous laugh from Shiro, just a tiny one, before the sound of his feet follows.

Honestly, right now Keith’s goal is just to waste time until the main part of the day he has planned can finally happen. He’s cursing the fact Shiro’s presentation was so early in the morning because that means that Keith needs to find almost seven hours worth of filler activities. There is one thing in particular that Keith thinks could definitely fill that time, but honestly, he knows that’s going to end up being part of what happens later tonight. Keith hopes, at least.

So, in the end, when he was making the schedule for today, Keith thought it was the perfect opportunity to fill the time with as many things that he could that would treat Shiro, and this all started off with the slightly extravagant brunch they had just been seated for. 

Everything just flows naturally between, like it’s just the way it’s meant to be for Keith to order an excessive amount of food on top of what Shiro just did when the waiter comes by. It’s just right for them to have a little back and forth of “that’s too much!” and “no it’s not!” while they’re both wearing wide smiles and end up laughing. It’s supposed to be Shiro and Keith together, falling into a conversation about the other presentations. Keith tells Shiro how good he was again just to watch the pink stain his face.

The entire time, though, Keith feels a crackling below his skin to just abandon everything and take Shiro home. But the part of him that just wants to do everything for the other man overpowers it—just barely.

Once they’re done at the restaurant, Shiro turns to Keith before he pulls on his helmet, eyes wide and hopeful. “So, to yours now?” he asks.

“Not quite yet,” Keith smirks, pulling his helmet on and then swinging his leg over his bike’s seat. He doesn’t miss how Shiro’s eyes watch the line of Keith’s body as he moves.

Keith takes them to the next stop, which might just be on today’s itinerary because Keith can sometimes be a little petty about things Lance says. There’s a strip of a few blocks downtown that has high-end shops, and Keith wants to get Shiro into as many fitting rooms as possible today.

That’s how later, when they’re at the third store of the afternoon, two stores worth of clothes already purchased and set to be delivered to Shiro’s modest campus apartment, Shiro pulls Keith behind the curtain after trying on a loose-fitting silk shirt. Keith had moved forward to undo some of the buttons to expose Shiro’s chest, but instead, Shiro took hold of Keith’s wrist and dragged him into the fitting room, pulling the curtain closed behind with such force Keith worried the rod it was on would break.

“Finally,” Shiro pushes Keith up against one of the mirrored walls in the room. “I’ve been trying to get you alone in one of these all day.”

“It’s barely been two hours since we went to the first store,” Keith tries to be coy, but Shiro knows better. 

“Two hours too many,” Shiro responds. His face is so close to Keith’s.

“What, you don’t like all the clothes I got you?” Keith pouts with no true dissatisfaction behind it.

“No,” Shiro shakes his head. “I like them, but I like you more.” Shiro takes Keith’s wrist he’s still holding and raises it, pressing it against the wall above Keith’s head. Keith goes to pull away because he has a plan dammit, but Shiro catches him and holds both arms above.

Keith is panting, and Shiro just looks amused. “I have a plan for today,” Keith tries to argue, but it’s weak, and to be honest, in this moment, he’s wondering why he didn’t drag Shiro home immediately after the presentation this morning.

“You mentioned,” Shiro says with the low voice he used earlier. His head ducks down into Keith’s neck, and he gives a quick bite and licks below Keith’s ear. Keith gasps and Shiro lets out a pleased sound before pulling back. “Later, you said?”

It’s so unfair how the light of the fitting room manages to make Shiro look like he’s glowing, his white hair and the soft white silk shirt together make him appear ethereal. It’s a bit angelic, Keith thinks, which is quite the opposite of how Shiro’s acting right now.

“Fuck,” Keith breathes out. 

Shiro loosens his grip on Keith’s wrists before speaking. “If you want to stop now and have me try on another pair of tight pants, I’ll do that for you,” Shiro tells Keith with a smug smile. “But, baby, you’ve done so much for me, I want to treat you, too.”

And that’s it. That’s all it takes. Keith breaks out of Shiro’s grip, his eyes going wide, but when Keith throws his arms around Shiro’s neck, he realizes what Keith’s doing and automatically moves to put an arm around Keith’s waist and the other grips Keith’s thigh right below his ass.

The kiss is a mess, they both go in so forcefully and with everything. Shiro’s tongue slides into Keith’s mouth with a bite to Keith’s bottom lip first. Letting out a small moan, Keith winds the leg that Shiro has a hold on around Shiro while also pulling him further down, vaguely registering that he’s essentially trying to climb Shiro. 

Shiro knows what Keith wants, gets a hold of Keith, and pulls him up then presses him further into the wall. A disappointed sound escapes from Keith when Shiro’s mouth leaves, but then he doesn’t complain further when Shiro returns to the spot below Keith’s ear that he had appreciated earlier. Keith turns his head to offer more of himself to Shiro, and then his breath catches both at Shiro sucking lightly and the sight in front of Keith. 

The wall Keith is now looking at also has a full mirror, and in it Keith can see what the two of them look like currently. He buries one hand in Shiro’s hair and pulls, which also gets a soft groan from Shiro. Keith’s eyes drag slowly along the reflection in front of him. Shiro’s feet are bare from trying on the current tight pair of pants he has on, and the silk shirt still manages to drape beautifully on him. The slope of Shiro’s neck as it bends to Keith looks elegant against the silk, and there’s something that makes Keith heat at seeing Shiro’s white hair disappear and slightly twine with Keith’s dark hair. It makes Keith drag nails lightly down Shiro’s neck, and he feels Shiro shiver against him. 

They both breathe heavily as they keep kissing, only briefly breaking apart for air when necessary. Shiro takes a deep breath in through his nose as he bites and drags Keith’s lip down, then goes back in to lick into Keith’s mouth. Keith holds on tight to Shiro, letting go of any point of contact feels like it will physically hurt him. Pulling on Shiro’s hair, Keith keeps trying to drag him closer, closer, closer, but it never feels like enough, which makes him let out a whine.

Shiro breaks the kiss and rests their foreheads together. “Can we finally go to your place?” his voice is rough and thick, and it makes Keith weak to know that just kissing Keith wrecked Shiro like this.

“Yeah,” Keith croaks out and nods. But neither of them move away or let go, they keep their eyes locked. “Shiro,” Keith whispers.

“Yeah, yeah,” Shiro slowly comes back to himself and gently disentangles himself from Keith and lowers him back to the ground. Keith feels unsteady on his feet, and Shiro puts an arm back around him when it seems like Keith will fall for a moment.

Even though Keith wants to stay in the fitting room, Shiro pushes him out with a smirk and arched eyebrow, saying that Keith can’t spoil everything now. Keith pouts, he just wanted to watch Shiro change back into his clothes to leave. It wasn’t that much of an ask.

The store attendant who had been helping them asks Keith what they thought of the clothes. “The cream silk shirt, charge that to me. And send it to me, too,” Keith instructs, handing over his credit card and providing all the information. By the time he’s done with the transaction, Shiro emerges from the fitting area. Keith hastily thanks the attendant again and grabs Shiro’s hand, dragging him out of the store.

They practically fly through the city back to Keith’s, and he relishes in the feeling of Shiro’s arms clinging to him, tightening when Keith kicks the bike into a faster speed or makes a sharp turn. But it feels amazing to have Shiro behind him on the open road, or highway at least.

When they park in the building’s garage and pull off their helmets, Shiro’s eyes shine bright. “I love riding with you,” and the slight double meaning is purposefully unsubtle. 

Keith places a hand on Shiro’s chest and then leans in forward, closing in on the space between their faces leaving just an inch. “You don’t even know,” Keith whispers.

Shiro’s smile slowly spreads across his face, and his eyes look quickly between Keith’s mouth and back up to Keith’s eyes. “Yeah?”

Keith hums and pulls back, letting his hand trail down Shiro’s shoulder, down to his arm, and finally to twine their hands together to once again pull the other man along with him. He pushes the button for his floor with the hand not holding on to Shiro. “You know,” Keith starts, “I really had a whole plan for today.”

“I’m sure you did and that it was very nice,” Shiro replies, and he tugs at Keith’s hand, hauling him in so he leans against Shiro’s chest. “And I appreciate all the work you put into planning, and I can’t even begin to thank you for everything you’ve done today, but—” Shiro pauses and ducks down to give a slow kiss to Keith. He retracts when the elevator dings to indicate they’ve reached Keith’s floor. “I think this is better.”

“I’d have to agree,” Keith laughs and moves away from Shiro quickly out of the elevator, leaving Shiro standing inside for a moment before he goes into motion following Keith.

Shiro trails behind Keith as he guides them into the apartment. Keith gently pushes Shiro down onto the couch, the very one on which Shiro spent the night a few weeks ago, and then Keith lets himself slide onto Shiro’s lap.

“Hi,” Shiro greets quietly, lips quirked and head tilted. He places one hand on Keith’s cheek, and Keith shivers at just how large it is. His other arm goes around Keith’s waist and draws Keith closer. 

Everything feels as though it was leading to this moment. Their faces hover close to each other, smiles on both their lips, which are aching to touch again. Keith starts to move his head and lean in, but Shiro shifts purposely to bump their noses together. Shiro laughs as Keith struggles to put on a frown of annoyance.

“Brat,” Keith mutters. “Come here,” and he moves his hands from where they’ve been sitting on Shiro’s shoulders to his face and finally closes the distance to bring their mouths together. Keith sighs and Shiro lets out a small hum at the kiss. It’s gentle and soft, something so delicate and fresh like what the two have been forming together. 

When they pull away, Keith wants to go in for more but instead, he wraps his arms around Shiro’s neck and hugs him close. Shiro follows by putting his arms around Keith, dragging him in to be as flush against each other as possible with just their clothes separating them. Keith closes his eyes and tucks his face into the back of Shiro’s neck, taking a deep breath. It reminds Keith of their parting hugs when Shiro was staying at Lance and Allura’s. This is such a stark contrast from when they were in the fitting room going at full speed ahead, but now they’d settled into cruising speed, like now they knew they had all the time.

Shiro licks his lips slowly. “What do you want?” he asks.

Keith runs his hands up and down Shiro’s arms. “I think you know.”

Rolling his eyes, Shiro replies, “I do.”

“Oh?” Keith teases. “What else do you know?”

Shiro hums. “I know that I want to wreck you in the best way,” he murmurs lowly, and words make Keith take a sharp breath. “You want that, baby, don’t you? Lay you down on the bed and take you apart, so slowly. You’ve given me so much, in so many ways, and now, you know what?”

“What?” Keith whispers and rocks a little on Shiro’s lap and can feel Shiro getting hard and grinds down again. In response to Keith’s movement, Shiro moves a hand to grip Keith’s waist and stop him from doing anything else.

“Didn’t you listen to me?” Shiro’s face betrays how dark his voice sounds. There’s still a hint of amusement in his eyes. “I’m going to give you everything.”

“Then do it,” Keith prompts.

Shiro laughs and kisses Keith again, long and deep, and Keith feels lightheaded when Shiro doesn’t stop the kiss to lift him up and carry him out of the living room in the direction of the bedroom. Keith doesn’t mind that Shiro maybe throws him down onto the bed a little rough because it’s just getting them a step closer to what they both want. When Keith looks up from his place on the bed, the comment about Shiro’s lack of careful handling gets lost as Keith suddenly feels transported back to that time they were both in this position before. A time when Keith was drunk and sullen while Shiro was trying to help him.

“Feels familiar,” Shiro murmurs as he takes hold of one of Keith’s legs and lifts it to pull off a shoe. 

Keith feels his face heat. “I never did thank you properly for that night,” Keith says and watches Shiro repeat the action with Keith’s other leg.

“It was the least I could do,” Shiro shrugs one shoulder and gives Keith a tender look. It makes Keith feel warmth slowly spread through his body, and he spreads his legs so one can touch Shiro’s knee that he’s using to kneel at the edge of the bed, one foot still on the floor. Shiro raises an eyebrow, catching on to what Keith’s doing. “A do-over?” he asks.

“Something like that,” Keith reaches a hand out to Shiro, and this time when the other man takes it, he twines their fingers together and moves onto the bed fully, crawling on top of Keith. Their linked hands land on the bed by Keith’s head as the two of them simply take in the sight of each other for a moment. Keith’s free hand toys with the collar pins before moving down to the hem of the sweater, both things he bought for Shiro, and then he gets his fingers under the sweater and drags his hands up trying to raise it.

“I thought you liked this sweater?” Shiro frowns with no real disappointment behind it. He doesn’t make a move to stop Keith.

“I do, but I think you’ve worn it enough today,” Keith replies, giving up on the one-handed clothing removal and choosing to untuck the shirt Shiro is wearing underneath and sneaking his hand under that, running his hand across the skin of Shiro’s chest. Shiro takes a sharp breath in, and then he moves down fast to kiss Keith, whose hand remains between the two of them under Shiro’s shirt. He squeezes one of Shiro’s pecs appreciatively, making Shiro laugh into the kiss. That earns Shiro a nail across a nipple, and Shiro retaliates with a gasp and bite to Keith’s bottom lip, slowly dragging it back before letting go and straightening himself back up. 

Keith’s hand falls back to the bed as he appreciates the sight of Shiro straddling Keith’s waist, which then becomes Keith appreciating the view of Shiro a step closer to shirtless when he pulls off the sweater and starts to unbutton the shirt underneath. Using his freed hands, Keith pushes up on the bed to sit up, and Shiro shifts to accommodate the movement. “Let me,” Keith whispers and starts to undo the rest of the buttons, pushing the shirt away and off Shiro’s body with one final touch to the collar pins.

From there, they continue to keep the relaxed pace of removing clothing as they stop to kiss in between, getting distracted when Keith pins Shiro down to the bed for a change. Keith learns that he really loves the feeling of gripping the back of Shiro’s hair where the white locks are a little longer. Shiro likes it too as Keith maintains that hold while Shiro kisses his way down Keith’s body. By this point, Keith is hard and straining, and he twitches when Shiro lays a kiss so, so close to where he wants it. 

Keith really thinks that Shiro will draw this part out, too, not going to where Keith hopes, but he’s surprised when Shiro takes hold of Keith and licks the head. The action is so unexpected that Keith cries out and thrusts his hips up, back arching further than it should for such a small touch. When he looks down, Shiro is grinning back up at Keith. One of Shiro’s hands holds Keith’s hip down as the other starts to slowly stroke. Keith tries to keep his eyes on Shiro, but once Shiro starts at the tip leaving messy kisses down, he gives in and just lets himself enjoy the feeling of Shiro’s mouth on him and his hand in Shiro’s hair.

When Shiro finally takes Keith into his mouth, Keith’s head pushes back into the bed as he cries out Shiro’s name. Shiro hums, and Keith’s breath catches. Shiro moves the hand that’s gripping Keith’s hip and the thumb making small circles against the skin, and he slides it to the side to cover Keith’s hip while the thumb now slides up to lightly partially wrap around Keith in a loose hold. Keith has a moment of brief clarity at just how big Shiro’s hands are, and then he feels Shiro’s other hand take hold of Keith’s hand that has been gripping the sheets. That’s what does it for Keith, Shiro holding his hand. Keith might have felt slightly embarrassed at how much the touch affected him, but all he can do now is say Shiro’s name over and over as he threads his other hand through Shiro’s hair, giving one thrust against Shiro’s hold before he comes.

Shiro leaves a kiss where his hand had been holding Keith’s hip and makes his way back up to Keith. He takes Keith’s not-held-hand as he moves and then holds both next to Keith’s head, pressing them down into the bed. Keith strains his neck up, and Shiro smiles sweetly before giving Keith what he wants, a kiss that Keith doesn’t give a chance to be anything but dirty, quickly dipping his tongue into Shiro’s mouth.

It’s Shiro who has to break the kiss to catch his breath first, and he rests his forehead against Keith’s. “Good?” he asks.

Keith rolls his eyes, “What do you think?” He turns his head and places a kiss on Shiro’s cheek.

“That’ was nice,” Shiro says, and Keith guesses he’s talking about the cheek kiss.

“I can do nicer,” Keith counters.

“NIcer than a kiss on the cheek? What could be better than that?” The corners of Shiro’s eyes crinkle slightly as he smiles. 

Keith takes one of his hands back from Shiro. He settles the hand on Shiro’s face, his thumb gently caressing the small wrinkle, a sign of stress getting to Shiro much earlier than it should. It makes Keith want to make sure that Shiro never has to stress about anything ever again, but he also knows that’s not wholly possible. But Keith can still do little things as he has been.

“What are you thinking about?” Shiro asks, shifting his head to kiss Keith’s thumb.

“Taking care of you,” Keith replies.

“We’ve been over this,” Shiro shakes his head. “You’ve done so much already.”

“But I want to keep doing that,” Keith states.

“As…” Shiro trails off.

“As,” Keith takes a breath, “As your boyfriend,” the word sounds so alien to Keith briefly. “As someone who cares about you and wants the best for you. As someone who will hold you and order the largest carb-filled dinner when you’ve had a bad day. As someone who will then go to the gym with you the next day when we both regret our carb choices.”

Shiro’s smile grows with each thing Keith says until it feels near blinding in Keith’s eyes. “I like that,” Shiro agrees.

“Good.”

“You know what Lance said?” Shiro asks.

“It better be something important for you to be mentioning my best friend while we’re both naked in bed,” Keith huffs.

Shiro rolls both of them so they’re lying side by side looking at each other. “He called you my sugar daddy.”

Keith’s jaw drops hearing the words come from Shiro’s mouth. “No, no, no,” he stammers out.

Shiro starts laughing and pulls Keith closer, tucking his head to Shiro’s chest. “It’s okay, I know that’s not what this ever was,” he chuckles, and Keith is about to reply with another good when Shiro adds “daddy” in a low tone.

There’s a lot to deconstruct here after Keith feels Shiro twitch against Keith’s thigh since Shiro is still hard, and Keith feels a weak jolt of arousal course through him as well. But for now, Keith chooses to groan and push Shiro, who starts laughing harder, away. Shiro rolls onto his back, and Keith takes advantage of the moment by throwing a leg over and climbing onto Shiro to sit on him, grinding back on him. It’s now Keith’s turn to have a wicked grin as Shiro throws his head back and moans lightly when Keith moves. 

“Do you want nicer now?” Keith asks, not stopping. He watches Shiro open his mouth a few times before giving up on speech and just nodding. He’s been so good and waited so long. Keith should treat his boy.

Keith leaves his place on Shiro to retrieve what he needs from the bedside table. When he resituates himself, Shiro watches as Keith opens the lube and turns the bottle to squeeze some onto his hand, but Shiro’s eyes look like they want to devour Keith. He likes it. “Do you want to?” Keith doesn’t specify what; he wants to see what Shiro wants. Shiro pushes himself up and nods, licking his lips, and he takes the bottle from Keith and coats his own fingers.

“Up,” Shiro tells Keith, and when Keith doesn’t move, he adds, “on your knees.”

Keith raises himself up, and Shiro pulls Keith closer, making him shuffle on his knees. When Shiro has Keith where he wants him, Shiro moves his hand to Keith and dips it down. Keith doesn’t realize he’s holding his breath until he exhales deeply once Shiro circles a finger slowly before pushing in. Keith’s eyes close and his arms wrap around Shiro’s neck. Shiro starts slow, carefully working Keith open, and by the time three of Shiro’s fingers are stretching, it’s more Keith working and riding Shiro’s hand than Shiro doing anything.

“Fuck,” the word punches out of Shiro as he watches Keith move up and down, and Keith hopes the reaction will be even better when he slides down on Shiro soon. As if knowing Keith’s thoughts, Shiro pulls his hand away, giving Keith’s ass a small, playful slap, which makes Keith giggle. “Really, that makes you laugh?” Shiro asks, amused.

“I think there’s a way for you to make me stop laughing,” Keith retorts, arms still wrapped around Shiro’s neck, and he can’t help but take advantage and indulge in how near their faces are when goes in for a quick kiss to the corner of Shiro’s mouth. “Now fuck me.”

“Yes, daddy,” Shiro says it as a joke, but it still makes Keith heat at the name.

“Good boy,” Keith whispers, loosening his arms around Shiro’s neck and moving back to position himself. He takes hold of Shiro and keeps his eyes focused on those gray eyes, but as he takes Shiro inside, Keith’s eyes flutter closed with a moan. Keith hears the sharp intake of breath from Shiro that ends in a small moan, and the hand Keith has on Shiro’s stomach feels the muscles tense. 

Once he’s fully seated on Shiro’s lap with all of him taken, Keith’s eyes open and the sight steals his breath away this time. Shiro’s eyes are closed with brows furrowed in concentration, and he’s biting his bottom lip. Both his arms are reached back to keep himself propped up, and now Keith can see the way Shiro’s chest heaves with quick breaths. He’s been worked up and hard for so long that he’s trying not to come immediately after pushing into Keith, and this realization rushes Keith, a feeling of satisfied power anchors in him.

He doesn’t give any warning before he raises himself and then slowly goes back down. Another “fuck” gasps out of Shiro, and he gives up one arm’s support to seek out Keith with his eyes still closed. It’s as if something magnetic draws the hand to where it had been on Keith’s hip earlier, the metal warmed from everything they’ve been doing.

“Look at me,” Keith whispers, and Shiro’s eyes immediately fly open. His gaze rakes up and down Keith’s body, and that hunger from earlier is back in them. He squeezes Keith’s hip in something that feels vaguely like possession. “Good boy,” Keith repeats.

Shiro gives a small thrust up into Keith at the praise, and it makes both of them cry out. Keith plants his hands on Shiro’s shoulders, holding onto them as he rides Shiro, gradually increasing his pace. He doesn’t know how long they’ve been going and isn’t sure when it changes, but both of Shiro’s hands find themselves circling Keith’s waist and guide Keith’s body into each of Shiro’s thrusts. 

“Keith,” Shiro groans, and he’s wrecked in every way from the disheveled state of his hair caused by Keith’s fingers that can’t seem to get enough of sliding through the soft strands and his voice cracking from effort and how good he feels. 

“Yeah,” Keith agrees, with what, he isn’t sure, but Shiro’s hitting him just right making Keith throw his head back. “I need—” and again, he isn’t sure what he needs.

“I know,” Shiro replies, and Keith doesn’t get a chance to question that response before he feels Shiro shift to get a hand spread at Keith’s lower back and then push him back so now Keith’s the one on his back and Shiro looms over him. And Shiro is a goddamn dream with how he doesn’t even miss a beat through the whole maneuver and gets right back to fucking Keith at a steady and hard pace, making neither of them able to stay silent on every thrust.

It’s the shift that he needed, and Keith repeats Shiro’s name over and over as it’s the only thing he seems to know anymore while he speeds to the end. Shiro’s name transforms into a worldless yell as Keith comes, fingers still on Shiro’s shoulders, nails digging in. He hears Shiro give a hiss, but Keith is too far gone in that moment to dwell on the fact that it didn’t seem like a pained sound. 

When Keith’s eyes open, he gives a weak moan at the slow thrust Shiro gives him, the sensitivity making Keith shiver. He slides one hand to the back of Shiro’s neck and wraps his fingers around loosely. Shiro’s head is bowed forward, hair sticking to his forehead with sweat. Shiro the fucking hero trying to make sure that Keith comes before he does.

“Hey,” Keith murmurs, and Shiro’s head snaps up to look him in the eye. “You’ve been so good,” Keith’s thumb strokes over Shiro’s throat and he both sees and feels Shiro swallow. “Come for me, baby boy.”

The words affect Shiro instantly. Keith feels the twitch and the abrupt thrust Shiro gives at the name, and Keith certainly doesn’t miss the way Shiro’s eyes blow wide. Keith lets out a whine at Shiro’s movement inside, but he tightens around Shiro and gasps out, “come on.”

That gets Shiro moving again, resuming the pace he had going earlier, and it keeps Keith’s back arched slightly with his mouth open to let out tiny cries in response to Shiro’s deeper groans as he gets closer and closer. Shiro tucks his head into Keith's neck as he comes, letting out quick hitched breaths. 

Keith gently strokes his fingers through Shiro’s hair as he waits for the man on top of him to gather himself and shift, but Keith also very much enjoys having the mass of Shiro’s weight on him, pressing him into the sheets in this situation. Once Shiro is capable of movement again, he rolls to his side but takes Keith with him, wrapping his arms around Keith’s waist so they’re on their sides looking at each other. They take a few minutes to luxuriate in each other and share slow, drawn-out kisses that make Keith feel boneless.

Once Keith decides he’s sufficiently kissed, for now, the two of them resettle against the pillows on the bed, Keith’s head resting on Shiro’s chest. Keith knows that they need to get up to clean and then maybe go through the rest of the day since they did run back to his apartment in the middle of it.

“So, what was the rest of your plan?” Shiro asks.

Keith snorts. “Do you really want to know?”

Shiro pauses for a second, thinking, “I don’t know, do you still want to do the rest of it?”

“Do you,” Keith asks with a chuckle. It seems absurd to go through the rest of his very elaborate plan that involved another lavish meal at yet one more high-end restaurant, finally ending at the rooftop area of Keith’s building. There was a mini-park up there, and Keith had a nice secluded area picked out for them to share some dessert and admire the sky, and maybe admire each other more.

“It would be a shame to let the rest of the plan go to waste,” Shiro smirks, and Keith knows he’s just a little intrigued at what other ways Keith was going to spoil him today.

“You mean you don’t want to spend the rest of the day in bed with me?” Keith pouts.

Shiro laughs and wraps his arms around Keith even tighter, dragging him close. “I would spend every single day in bed with you if I could. It’s just a shame we have to go out into polite society.”

“We don’t have to,” Keith counters.

“I can’t believe you’re giving up on the plan so fast when it was the only thing you could focus on all day,” Shiro mutters, joking.

“Well you didn’t have the patience for it, now did you?” Keith pokes Shiro’s chest. They both fall victim to a bought of laughter before Keith clears his throat, watching Shiro’s face relax. “I do have one question,” he tells Shiro.

“Oh?”

“Are you still Allura and Lance’s babysitter?”

“Um, yes?” 

“God, I’m fucking the babysitter,” Keith dramatically flops back onto the bed.

“Hey,” Shiro exclaims, sitting up. “I’m not your babysitter, except for that one time you were too drunk to function properly.”

“I don’t know,” Keith shakes his head. “Feels cliché being the babysitter’s secret sugar daddy.”

Shiro snorts. “Please, didn’t we establish earlier that you’re the babysitter’s boyfriend who happens to be very successful in his career and is able to provide for said babysitter when he’s crying into a physics textbook.”

“I guess that sounds better,” Keith concedes. “Lance is still going to say I’m fucking the babysitter.”

“I thought you said to not talk about him when we’re naked in bed together?” Shiro says, grinning wide.

“Well, yes, I mean, no, never talk about him when we’re in bed,” Keith reinforces this rule. “I’m just thinking about the long term.” And Keith recognizes a second too late what heavy meaning that sentence holds.

“Long term?” Shiro asks, and then he’s moving to once again cover Keith with his body, and god does Keith love the idea of being smothered by this snapback wearing Ph.D. student. “We have a lot of time to think about that.”

“Yeah,” Keith whispers in response. 

“But for now,” Shiro continues, “I think I want to know what restaurant you made a dinner reservation for because you definitely did.”

“Brat,” Keith scoffs, but he’s smiling when he pulls Shiro’s mouth down to his. 

Keith knows that for now, they’re either going to stay in this bed and never leave or they might actually crawl out to shower and then eventually face the outside world. That’s now. But later? Well, Keith can only see every later with Shiro in it.