Lance has never been so angry or so scared in his life.
Alright. He probably has. After three years in space, fighting a war, building up alliances, this sort of mission is almost mundane.
But that's not the point right now. The point is that Keith is a selfish, reckless idiot and Lance is going to kill him. His hands are shaking so badly that Red's controls rattle, the noise soft under the hum of machinery and the deep rumble from Red himself, touching against their bond, a reassurance at the back of Lance's mind.
Lance doesn't let himself be comforted.
The fact that Keith is safe - alive, in one piece, flying right in front of him - does not alleviate the very justifiable anger that is burning through Lance's body, bone and flesh alike. He doesn't say anything over the comms. Knows now isn't the time to be letting his temper flare, or distracting everyone from the task at hand. But once this skirmish dies down and they manage to suppress the rest of the space pirates, when they're back on solid ground, Keith is in for it
Every time Lance sees a bit of debris from the nursery hub that Beta Five was using to regrow endangered flora from other planets, he only gets angrier.
It's bad enough that the pirates bombed the place and ruined all that progress.
Keith just had to -
"Lance, on your six."
Lance yanks the left-hand control back, slams a button. Red whips around, lightening fast, and their lava beam boils between his open jaws, obliterating the unpiloted drone that's been hounding him for the last two clicks. There's another one right behind it, and Red pounces, snatching it up in his molten jaws until the metal oozes and sparks and then hurling the detritus away.
They're the last ones.
Pidge and Allura have boarded the ship and apprehended the pirates.
Hunk is already breaking away to see what he can salvage among the nursery's rubble, and Keith is calmly giving orders, like he didn't just -
"Good job, Lance."
Keith's voice over the comm startles him, the smile in his voice, the obvious pride.
Lance scowls and mutes him by slamming his fist down on the consol. Red grumbles a warning. Lance mutters an earnest apology.
Loosens his grip.
Takes a breath and lets it out.
His hands are shaking, shaking, along with his trembling nerves. And they're still shaking around the lip of his helmet half a varga later, as he stands in the hall outside the hanger on Beta Five and waits for the others - waits for Keith - to join them so they can discuss what to do about the pirates, and the destroyed nursery that so many worlds were counting on.
Hunk knows he's pissed. Him and Allura are speaking to the lead biologist, and they both keep glancing over at him while the other is talking.
Lance takes a deep breath to calm himself down.
It's totally fine.
Pidge is trotting down the hall toward them, looking gleeful about the pirates getting their due, and Keith is right behind them. He's alive. Perfectly healthy. Not a scratch on him. Black and white armour entirely unblemished. Keith is smiling the moment he makes eye contact with Lance, but his smile falls away as Lance storms out to meet him, when he catches the expression on Lance's face.
Pidge scampers out of Lance's way, frowning at him; looks at Hunk, who rubs his forehead and sighs, and Allura, who grasps the lead biologist by the arm as if to lead him away before the fireworks begin.
"What the hell were you thinking!?" Lance demands, voice ringing in the hall.
Keith looks shocked by Lance's tone, by the anger that snaps at the air between them like a physical thing. His eyes widen and he slows down to a walk, then finally a stop, watching Lance approach him like he's caught in a tractor beam and can't pull himself free.
It is almost enough to quell Lance's temper, but he lets it build instead, "What part of there's a bomb under your feet did you not understand, Keith!? You were right on top of it! You could have been blown into a million little pieces and I don't know what I would have done! What the quiznak was so important that you were running back across the field when your should have been getting to safety along with the rest of us!?"
Keith has pulled some mindless stunts before, and Lance has been scared of losing him before, but not since they've been together. There is a rawness in Lance's emotions that he wouldn't allow himself to show before, that threatens to shake him apart, and now that he can he doesn't hold anything back. He wants Keith to know exactly how he feels.
How scared was when he thought Keith wasn't going to make it back to his Lion in time.
How angry he is that he feels so much.
Their relationship is still new. It is tenuous in places, awkward and uncertain - and it is so bright and strong in others, where they've had the chance to build things up, that sometimes Lance can't bear it. He can't bear how much he loves Keith. And just knowing that Keith understands and returns his feelings - it amplifies everything tenfold, good and bad alike. It makes moments like this one terrible, when something has knocked them out of rhythm and they are both struggling for footing.
He can't understand why Keith would put himself in danger like that for nothing.
Keith doesn't seem to have recovered.
He says, "Oh," in a small, stunned voice, "Uh…"
He looks down, slowly lifting his hand from his side, where it went unnoticed before. Lance's heart lurches, expecting an injury. A broken hand. A missing a finger, or worse. Worry surging up his throat.
It's all for nothing.
Gripped in Keith's fist is a clutch of battered flowers, electric blue with white leaves and stems, soil still clinging to their broken, tangled roots. They're the same flowers that were covering the field before it was blown to smithereens almost directly under Keith's feet.
He lingered to rip them out of the ground.
His face is red, his grey eyes downcast.
"I… I'm sorry, Lance. I didn't mean to scare you," Keith says. He doesn't mirror any of Lance's anger back at him. Just reaches down to take Lance's hand and folds it carefully around the flowers. "I was going and then I saw these and thought of you and… my brain shut off. It was… it was stupid."
Lance is the one who looks like he's been gobsmacked now, silent and gawking at the sad, dirty, tiny bouquet of rumpled flowers Keith has so tenderly placed in his shaking hands.
As eloquent as ever, he goes, "Wh-what?"
This is brand new ground for both of them and Keith doesn't seem to know what Lance is asking. He fumbles to explain his train of thought in the moment, "I… you like flowers. I mean, like. Getting flowers. That's - that's a romantic thing. I've been meaning to get you some, but I kept overthinking it. And I saw them and thought you'd probably like them but then there was… the bomb was going to detonate. I wouldn't have been able to go back and ask for any later. So I just…"
He gestures helplessly.
Lance… doesn't know what to say. He feels guilty… and excited. Giddy. His heart is racing. The shaking in his hands extends to the rest of him. He wants to smile, but he also wants to still be mad. Keith…. Keith scared him. But he brought him flowers. Even in a moment of peril, he was thinking of Lance, and Lance stares down at the blue petals that are only shades brighter than his eyes, overwhelmed by the gesture.
"You… you got these for me?" Lance finally manages to ask, looking up at Keith with that same slack expression.
Keith winces, nodding.
"Sorry. I - "
"I love them."
Keith closes his mouth.
Lance goes on, "But don't - don't do something like that again. Not for this. I couldn't - I…"
"Okay," Keith says immediately, "I won't. I won't be so careless next time, Lance. I promise."
"Store-bought is fine," Lance blurts out on a laugh.
Keith breaks into a wide, relieved smile.
Lance wants to kiss him.
"Are you quite finished?" Allura calls, startling them both, making them aware of their exasperated audience as they both turn to look at the grinning faces of the rest of their team and alien allies.
"Allura," Lance says, stepping toward her. His hands are shaking so badly there are petals and dirt dusting the floor. "I need - I need a vase."
He catches sight of the biologist, and panics. Quiznak. This species of flowers is endangered. Possibly the very last of their kind. His first bouquet, a bouquet from Keith, because he thought of him - and he can't even keep it. Is he really considering fighting this nerdy, reed-thin biologist over them….? Maybe.
To his surprise and relief, the biologist beckons him forward with a smile, "Anything to accommodate you, Paladin Lance. Paladin Hunk tells me the storage bay of the nursery wasn't badly damaged during the blast. Our seeds and pods and root samples have all survived! We can rebuild the nursery and begin anew."
Lance let's the stupid smile that he's feeling overtake his face and ducks his head into the tiny bouquet. The flowers have a sweet, clean scent like lavender. He combs them gently into a more appealing arrangement, and even after he's given a vase with vitamin-rich water to extend their longevity, he still clutches at the vase, and smiles at Keith, who smiles back and looks away, his cheeks tinted pink.
Lance reaches out to hold his hand.