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Caramel Skin Under A Purple Rain

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Lance's first heat was a washout. He'd laboured no illusions that turning the outpost into the kind of place he dreamed of wouldn't be anything other than hard work, but between the hard work and the calls for assistance, he'd relapsed into his old ways so hard that he was ashamed of himself. He'd barely lasted the first two movements before lashing out and hurting himself due to the frustrations and limitations of his job, and his promise not to take the worst of missions on hadn't helped his mental health. An emergency rescue mission they'd taken on had been due to a volcanic eruption mid-monsoon season, a completely ridiculous series of events that lead to half of the planet's nomadic tribes dislocated due to the lava rains and ash clouds blackening the sky. They'd all been soaked to the bone, and many of the refugees they'd brought back to outpost were ill with their planet's form of the flu. Sick from withdrawal, anxious from a lack of Keith, overwhelmed by not being able to help everyone all at once, it all piled up against him and his immune system, leaving him seriously ill right before his heat decided to show up out of nowhere and leave him bedridden for a movement and a half on Erathus because nowhere else carried a cure for that particular strain of flu. Or, at least he thought he'd had his heat. He'd had to be sedated and intubated, leaving him losing time once again and disorientated from the overwhelming smells of the hospital.

 

He was feeling so emotionally compromised and awful from the flu, that when his period had come and decided to be on par with miscarriage, he chalked the extra misery up to his crazed hormones while cursing the universe for the following two weeks. Coran had visited him while he'd been hospitalised. The man a godsend as he stroked his hair, replaced his heat pack and let him vent his emotions. With Coran so readily able to make friends, he'd done some gentle enquiring with the hospital staff on Lance's behalf as his listed next of kin, after Keith, and found a solution for how to safely wean Lance from the gold pain relief solution. A process he was supposed to have gone through after being hospitalised by Klearo, only he'd never gone back for his follow up appointments due to how deeply ashamed he was of what had happened, and due to the feeling that anyone he did spend time with would be corrupted by his filthy body and soul.

 

By the end of the first 6 movements, outpost time, he was miserable. His marks were now almost always on his face as a constant reminder of Allura, who'd he'd started hallucinating again while in hospital. Keith was on training missions with the Blades. He'd had time to have dropped by during the two movements between missions. It would have been their first time seeing each other face to face after their separation after just a handful of precious quintants into the years New Years, yet with how contagious the flu had been, Lance had been forced to ask Daehra to keep Keith away from the outpost, and Erathus, to ensure his husband didn't manage to miraculously catch the bug despite hospital protocol. Now his husband was on a second mission, this one a phoeb long training new Blade recruits in the field because some Galra arsehole of a general decided to get all uppity.

 

Trying to appear happy was only making him feel worse. He'd been forced to hold his tongue when he'd been ill, and he'd been forced to ask Lucteal, who'd been hospitalised with a broken ankle, to take his communicator away so he didn't abuse Keith for missing his heat and for not being there to take care of him, because Keith wasn't in the wrong. He hadn't done anything wrong at all. It was cruel of him to want to project his fears onto his precious husband. He knew Keith wanted to be there with him. He knew if he let him, his husband would have been there in a heartbeat. But Lance couldn't risk infecting the whole of the Blades simply because he was feeling weak without Keith, so he'd stayed in hospital, healed, and now had new twice-daily injections that would last for the next three phoebs. Given they were to help detox, Lance couldn't help but wonder if he was simply swapping from one addictive substance to another. The injections didn't provide the same high. They didn't supply him with that sudden rush of life, or quieten his busy mind. His poor therapist was stuck talking to him every movement, while his poor team were stuck with him dragging them from job to job. Sometimes it was apprehending someone, but for the most part, he was playing galactic taxi or delivery boy. It wasn't like he wasn't enjoying helping people, it was simply that without Keith there, it felt as if the precious thing they'd been building would crumble away. They talked as often as they could, and more often than not Keith would message him shortly before he woke to tell him he loved and missed him. But Dios... it was hard. It was so fucking hard.

 

Before he'd known it, he was into his third phoeb living at the outpost with Keith having only been there for two movements of broken time. He was simply too busy. His husband missed him, yet lately, all they'd really talked about were the new Blade recruits. Initially, it'd been fun. Keith had asked him for ideas on how to bring them together and how to breed trust. It'd pulled him out of his flunk, as he'd felt proud to be able to support his husband. Lance had finally started finding his feet again. Things had finally started to settle and he'd started reminding himself more and more often not to self-harm and to eat because Keith would be hurt if he continued to spiral. It wasn't the healthiest of excuses. He knew it wasn't, but the thought of hurting Keith was the one thought that scared him shitless. He'd promised his husband he'd work hard on himself and talk to him about how he felt. It wasn't either of their faults that the Blades conducted secret missions where communication was impossible. So, when they finally did have time together, Lance wanted to spend every tick of every varga relaxing around their home with Keith. Their room had slowly come together, the majority of Keith's belongings moving from Daibazaal to their room. He still kept a basic kit on Daibazaal for the times he had on planet duties, but having Keith's things in their wardrobe never failed to make anything Lance feel less than loved. The small little otherwise insignificant things left him giddy inside, like the way Keith would huff over his pillows if Lance would move then, his husband would go out of his way to leave them across each other rather than stacked, simply to get a rise out of him. Or the way his boots sat by the end of their bed. Even the way their toothbrushes sat in the holder together in their bathroom. It made their space feel even safer, even though there was already a very limited amount of people who could access his room. Zak had written the control program for the hand scanner on his door. Keith, Daehra, Lucteal, Coran, and Shiro were the only ones other than him to have clearance to his space. The door to the wing where his quarters were located was only accessible by staff, with most of the space around his room used for storage. When he'd first started sleeping in the room, he'd slept on the floor in the wardrobe. The space of the bedroom felt massive, leaving him jumping at shadows, and whispers that weren't there.

 

The fourth phoeb of calling the outpost his home had been his favourite. Keith had had enough time off work to spend real quality time with him. His husband was more than happy to act as a barmaid behind the bar of what he called the hotel part of the outpost. And quiznak if he didn't look like sex on legs as he did. Word had finally started getting around, so business had picked up. Bounty hunters from every race now knew it was a safe inexpensive place where all personal rivalries were stored away. It grew tiresome to constantly quarrelling. A tedious peace was held. No one wanted to throw the first punch. All of them thought themselves alpha males, yet if they acted up, they knew they'd find themselves thrown into the holding cells beneath the bar. Their name and reputation would be torn to pieces before they set foot in the confined place. Around the walls of the bar, various bounties were posted, plus pricings for those looking to buy and trade goods. Lucteal and Tobias generally worked the trade section. Zak couldn't be trusted to man the section alone as his tinkering curiosity usually meant things were pulled apart instead of being turned over for GAC. Lance would work with weapons, but any and all drugs were off-limits to him by his own request. The desire to find that all familiar high seemed too much to handle when the pills or injections were right in front of him. Some quintants he wouldn't think of it, while others he felt as if his skin could barely contain all his desires. He was locked out of the storage system. The only lock in the whole outpost that he didn't have access too. If he wanted to score, he'd have to do so of world, and both times he'd given into the desire, it'd nearly broken his heart to have to admit it to Keith. Keith was mad, yet he understood. They both knew it was hard. The initial plan was for Keith to be there to provide support as he withdrew from all the quiznakking red crap in his system. Unfortunately, the universe couldn't simply give either of them the break and time they needed. Keith had also grown increasingly depressed and worried over the time they spent apart. So when he finally had a phoeb off to be with him, Lance wasn't sure if it was because there really wasn't much for him to do, or if Krolia was worried for her son's mental health. It all passed too fast for him. Giggly mornings in bed. Slow and lazy sex if they felt like it. Cuddles. Bad morning breath and long baths together... He was so proud to have Keith by his side. Proud to show him off and introduce him to everyone he'd been meeting since opening the outpost...

Everything was going alright until it wasn't. Everything was going alright until Lance felt like the rug had been torn out from beneath him. He'd finally felt like he could stop and take a breath without the whirlwind of life sweeping him away...

 

Keith had made a friend in the new recruits, and due to that friend, his husband had to cut their precious phoeb together short. Krystaal had become the bane of his existence, and Keith had no idea how much Lance hated hearing their name when they were together. He hated when Keith would sit there laughing as he checked his comms. But most of all he hated himself over how jealous he was. Keith had wanted to work on himself and he'd made a friend. He was growing as man, as blade member and as an important figure on Daibazaal. He should have been happy. He should have been worried when Keith had to rush off to Daibazaal because the team Krystaal was in had gotten into trouble on a mission because someone was in danger. Not because his precious time with Keith was cut short. It was so quiznakking hard not to cry when Keith left. His husband kissing him so sweetly then he was gone from his arms, their dopey wolf son in toe, with the promise to return soon. A promise Keith had to break when retrieving the missing team from the field. Even with the use of wormholes, it took two movements to retrieve the team. The precious two movements that'd been left of their phoeb... meaning their "holiday" time together to an end for God only knew how long. Both of them knew that keep their relationship going would be hard with the kind of work they did. Lance could scream until he was blue in the face over how unfair it was, yet he knew it'd get him nowhere. It hadn't even been six phoebs yet, and with the time dilation in play, his time was accelerated when compared to Keith. Two quintants for his husband were three for him. Two phoebs for Keith were three phoebs for him... He was the one who chose to settle on the planet knowing that time was different there. He had no right to cry when Keith no doubt was pushing himself even harder without the luxury of the extra vargas to rest. His husband didn't need him burdening him any further than he had... When his next heat came, Keith would come home again. He simply needed to remain strong until then... and ignore the tiny voice of jealousy that would whisper in his mind during those long vargas of the night. Keith cared about his team and who he was training because not caring meant death... All he could do was keep putting one foot in front of the other until his husband came back to him.