Keith stares at his own reflection in the mirror.
The years have been kind to him but there are a few wrinkles that not even time can stop from marking his pale skin. The ones around the corner of his eyes are perhaps the most noticeable. They crimple as he squints at the brand new strand of white hair layering his black locks.
He sighs resignedly, pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes at the prospect of yet another year.
Thirty-nine , such an odd age; it’s right in the middle of being considered too old and not old enough. It’s also right before your forties, the decade Shiro says is when you have more fun, when life finally settles down to give you some reprieve.
But Keith doesn’t need it, he never did; his own reprieve is shaped in the form of his husband, currently humming to the sound of their radio on the other side of the bathroom door, getting ready for whatever he had planned for tonight.
Keith opens his eyes and faces the man before him in the mirror.
Today's not only his birthday.
Memories of a fateful day eighteen years ago flash before his eyes, when he would gladly give his own life for the man he loves, for his friends and for the universe.
His scar seems so vivid tonight he can almost feel it throb and burn as it did when all those years ago. A remembrance of his selflessness and stupidity permanently marked on his own skin.
But he knows he would do it all over again.
There's a soft knock on the door which startles him out of his reverie. Lance's head peeks in, blue eyes not missing one beat of Keith's sudden glum mood and they wide before he slips inside the bathroom.
"Keith!" he exclaims.
"I know, I know," Keith shakes his head and drops his shoulders, looking away from his husband's sympathetic expression.
Lance comes to stand by his side, a tentative hand slowly brushing that same scar Keith had just been contemplating and his touch is both cold and hot. Keith let's his breath out as his husband trails the long scarred skin gently with his fingertips, each inch a fire that bursts in pinpricks of longing in the pit of Keith's guy as well as an unpleasant reminder of what that scar represents.
"It's just a scar Keith," Lance says calmly and Keith shudder at the sweetness of his voice. "It's nothing to be ashamed of."
"You know I'm not ashamed of the scar," Keith replies and exchanges a miserable glance with Lance's reflection. He can see the wrinkles of worry knitted between his husband's eyebrows, can trace the line of his lips as he purses them in quiet concern. "I keep thinking about that day and what would be like if I had-"
"Don't say it."
" -died ." Keith's voice falters a little at the word, strangle by the sudden lump that had formed in his throat.
He hears Lance's breath come out shaky as he presses his forehead against Keith's shoulder, protesting something in Spanish under his breath. He wraps his arms tightly around Keith, practically trapping him inside his embrace. All Keith can do is allowing that warmth to spread through him and melt the apprehension away.
He often wonders how Lance's life would be like had Keith truly sacrificed himself to the Galra to save him and the rest of the team. That day, eighteen years ago, still torments him like an everlasting nightmare that keeps on haunting him mercilessly.
Would Lance be happy with someone else? Would he miss him? If Keith hadn't almost died that day, would Lance had ever confessed to him?
The outcome of that day is the only thing that keeps the true pain at bay, that helps him endure his own birthday.
"You know," Lance starts, looking to the side so he can face Keith in the mirror. "We've been having this same old dance of what if 's for the last eighteen years. And each year I keep telling you the same old thing over and over again. Let it go!"
"No buts ," Lance cuts him, lifting a threatening finger in the air and giving Keith the stinky eye. "Nothing happened that day. I am here with you and it's your birthday. Stop living in the past and let the scar finally heal."
Keith studies his husband's reflection. He looks almost pleading, a smouldering pout teasing his lips and Keith feels the weight of his past slowly drifting away. Lance is right; if he keeps living in the past he will miss the wondrous life of his present.
"Okay," he breathes out.
"Good. Now let's enjoy today before you turn forty and become way too old for me."
Keith snorts. He rests his head on top of Lance's and holds onto the arms still enveloped around him like a lifesaver. Unconsciously they both start swaying back and if dancing, the crescendo of Lance’s soft hum reverberating through Keith’s side and scattering through his entire body.
“What have you planned for tonight?” Keith asks, his chest less burdened and now filling up with affection and devotion.
“It’s a surprise,” Lance replies, placing his chin on Keith’s shoulder and giving him a long and tender kiss on his scar. His lips are warm and they burn sweetly against his blemished skin and Keith melts into it, letting Lance kiss away his uncertainties and reservations.
“You know I don’t like surprises,” Keith says, turning his face slightly to the side so he can stare at Lance’s blue eyes, feel his breath against his skin and almost taste his kiss on his lips.
“You love my surprises,” Lance retorts amusedly to which Keith grants his words for they’re true. “And you’re going to love this one. Trust me, old man .”
“Oh, I’m old now, am I?” Keith’s voice lowers an octave and Lance’s cheek flush slightly, Keith using his weapon to fluster his husband while he mocks him for his age. “Maybe I should stop kissing my young husband in fear of my dentures falling off.”
But Keith does the opposite and leans in to kiss Lance, first in a chaste kiss that is interrupted by a short chuckle from his husband, then to a sweet and devoted kiss that slips away whatever melancholy thoughts Keith had before.
“Happy birthday, my ancient husband,” Lance mocks in-between kisses, laughing at Keith’s groans of annoyance that are soon drowned by even more kisses.