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ace up your transformed sleeve

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Lance's limbs were numb with sleep and the world was a black most around him, covering him, choking him, metal arms around his neck melding with human flesh, the popping of gunfire and the brushing of his prosthetic leg against his- and then he remembered his eyes were closed.

     He opened his eyes thickly, blinking sleep out of his eyes and feeling an uncomfortable film covering them. He blinked again. One more time. Okay, it's gone.

     He peered blearily down at the mess of long black hair tickling his nose and the soft porcelain features that accompanied it. Lance pressed a soft kiss to Keith's forehead and tucked his legs against Keith's. 

     Keith's legs used to be the colder ones. Now searing metal, attached at the left knee after a near-fatal injury and infection, beat out Keith by at least five degrees.

     It was then, as he slowly came to groggy awareness at... he glanced at the small digital altean lettering glowing on the wall. 3:32 in the morning, that he noticed something. An inkling. Just a little niggle of something brushing at the edges of his brain with the tips of ghost-light feathers.

     The inside of his thighs were sticky. He moved them a little more, confirming his suspicions, then shot out of bed- or, at least, got out as quickly as he could without waking his significant other. 

     He slipped quietly into the small adjoined bathroom to their shared suite, gifted from Allura with a "Oh, don't be ridiculous! The single bedrooms are much too small." and being practically shoved to the other end of the castle. 

     Lance wasn't really sure what she meant by that comment. He didn't understand plenty of things that his old classmates had traded sly looks and giggles about.

      Lance returned his thoughts to his rather precarious situation. He peered downwards- yup, definitely a period. They had been more sporadic since he'd started T, but it was perfectly possible that he could have a period randomly. He breathed slowly. Inhale. Exhale. Again.

     Okay, he thought, let's think through this logically- wow, that's a first, he joked to himself. Alright. One. I have my period in space. The first one in space, even after a year. Wow, I've been lucky. 

     Two. I have no menstrual products. What kind of person just carries that shit while sneaking out on the town to play pinball and try to weasel a beer out of a weak-willed bartender?

     Three. I'm not out to anyone on the team except Hunk, and the girls will probably get mad when i ask because I'll be awkward and they think I'm cis.

     Lance huffed. He tiptoed to his dresser, picking out plain black boxer shorts and slipping them on uncomfortably. The underwear he'd been wearing before dangled gingerly from his fingertips. 

     Lance snuck carefully to the door and winced at the whooshing sound it made as he exited his room. He tiptoed uncomfortably through the wide metal halls of the castleship. The washer loaded quickly with the alien version of tide pods. He wondered if aliens had the tide pod challenge. Huh.

     "What are you doing?"

     Lance whipped around, pressing his back against the wall and breathing heavily at the short, skeptical figure in front of him. "Oh, uh-"

     Pidge scoffed, unimpressed. "Why are you washing a girl's soaked panties in the middle of the night? Wait, nevermind- I don't want to know." They made a disgusted face.

     "Oh, I just got my peri- shit." Lance had begun to respond on autopilot. Goddamnit. Those 'auto' things. First autocorrect, now this?

     Pidge scrunched up their nose in confusion. "You got your- oh." They whistled in sympathy. "You don't have any stuff, do you?

     Lance nodded stiffly, shuffling from foot to foot. A droplet of blood began to trickle down the inside of his thigh. He grimaced at the warm, wet feeling.

     Pidge turned. "Follow me." Pidge often asked people to follow them without elaboration. It was one of those things you got used to. He followed them down a wide branch of the main cleaning room.

     Pidge disappeared into a small supply closet, it seemed. "Wait here." Lance did just that, shifting uncomfortably as his underwear got more and more soaked.

     It was just then that Pidge returned, producing a packet of tampons and another of pads. "I wasn't sure what you use. I picked 'em up at that Earth store." Lance flushed, embarrassed, snatching up the pads and ducking his head as he retreated to his room. He muttered a quiet 'thank you' so soft it was barely audible. Pidge caught it with a smile.

     Keith was sitting up in bed when  Lance returned. "Where were you?" They inquired, furrowing their eyebrows.

     Lance rubbed at his wrists. "I have something to do first, can it wait?" Keith tutted, but let him retreat into the bathroom with a fresh pair of underwear.

     Keith waited impariently, tapping their foot on the bed frame insistently. 

     Lance returned, sitting next to them on the bed awkwardly. "Okay, gotta psych myself up." He muttered to himself.

     Keith looked at him in confusion. "Psych yourself up for what?"

     Lance took a deep, bracing breath. "I'm trans."

     Keith scrunched up his face in confusion. "So, you, uh, you're a girl?"

      Lance waved his hands frantically in an attempt to backtrack. "Nonono! No, Keith, I was assigned, uh, female," he winced quietly at the word. "at birth. I'm a male. I'm a boy."

     Keith shrugged. "Why does that matter? You're still a boy. Just because your anatomy doesn't line up with your gender doesn't invalidate who you are. Anyway, you already know I'm non-binary. I'm cool with it."

     "But- but you like boys. Why are you gonna be with someone who's not a rea-"

     Keith cut him off angrily. "I swear to god, if you finish that sentence with 'real boy' I'm going to punch you. You are a real boy. I'm not going to take anything else for an answer."

     Lance fretted, picking at his thumbnail. "But don't you want sex? I can't, like, dick you down if I don't have a dick. And I never really was into sex anyways, so how's that gonna work?"

     Keith chuckled. "I'm asexual. I'm never gonna want anything more than kissing and cuddling and hand-holding. You're good."

     "Wait, what?"

     "Hmm?"

     "Tell me what that... asexual thing means again." Lance looked a strange combination of nervous and excited.

     "Uh, okay." Keith scratched the back of his head. "Asexuality is, in its most basic form, a lack of sexual attraction. It's got, like, a whole range, from repulsed asexuals like me that are, quite frankly, disgusted with that whole sex thing and are never gonna want it to flexible asexuals that are a little more open to sex and will do it for a partner to please them. Or it's possible to fall in between."

     "Holy shit," Lance whispered, growing more excited as he continued speaking. "Holy shit! Ahh! Yes!" Lance threw his arms around Keith, shouting, "Oh my god, there's a word for it!" and dissolving into relieved laughter.

     "Uh... What?"

     Lance grinned widely. "Oh my god, I always felt like that second one- flexible, right? But, like, I was always uncomfortable with sex and talking about it and stuff with a sort of like 'what are you doing? why is that so important to you?' sorta feeling. Ahh! There's a word for it!"

     Keith winced. "Volume, Lance."

     "Okay!" Lance whisper-shouted, falling back on his bedsheets and yanking Keith down with a yelp.

     Lance pulled Keith close as they latched around them like a koala, pressing their face against his neck and exhaling soft puffs of breath that washed over his skin only mildly uncomfortably. 

     Lance kissed the top of their head gently. 

     He whispered softly, in the dead of night, "there's a word for it."