Soulmarks were a tricky thing.
On hand, they were a promise. Hope for someone being out there who was the perfect match for you, who would love you like no other ever could. The certainty that happiness was real and possible.
On the other hand, most people never found anyone whose soulmark matched theirs, or only very late in life - some even only post-mortum. It had been proven that most soulmarks matched on more than two people at a time, but with the chance to find a single soulmate being already so small, there was really nobody who had found a soulmate who would even think of the possibility of finding another.
It was a very rare luck to find a soulmate, so wishing for a third was enviously frowned upon as greedy.
Lance would have been so happy with one soulmate.
He had always dreamed about it, growing up. He'd tell anyone who would listen that he was going to find his soulmate and marry them, and nobody else. His mother had tried talking him into lowering that bar to something more reasonable, but her and Lance's father being soulmates did not really help her argument.
Lance somehow doubted she would be proud to know how deep he let that bar drop recently.
Oh, he hadn't given up on the love of a soulmate entirely, not yet. It was just that a marriage was so far off the table, it wasn't even within range. A romantic relationship was laughably impossible, a kiss was a possibly, maybe one day, if he got very lucky and put all his effort in it.
There was one thing though, one thing that was possible. A perfectly beautiful, agonising, blissful possibility.
So Lance grabbed it with both hands and held on tight, like the pathetic, desperate loser he was.
Because he found two of his soulmates at the same time, and they were already together. It was like winning a classic Ferrarri in the lottery, but not having a driver's licence, and not being allowed to exchange the car for a money prize instead.
And then Lance dug his own grave. He was the one to offer - albeit as a very self-deprecating joke - and the look on Keith's face when he nearly pounced Lance on the spot was almost worth the spike of anxiety of realising just what he'd suggested, when Keith instead turned around and stomped away without another word.
How had their argument even come to the point where Lance spared no second thought on taunting Keith that he'd gladly volunteer if Keith needed someone to fuck his frustrations out when he didn't want to hurt Shiro, because Lance couldn't imagine Keith had what it took to make Lance consider it rough sex.
It was barely twenty vargas later when Shiro took Lance aside to have a conversation about good communication in relationships, and if he had been serious in his offer to Keith, he was more than welcome to do the whole fuck-buddies thing with him. Shiro just wanted to know about what was going on between them, and they were not to try hide it from him.
Next quintant had Lance limping and considering his life choices.
Ten quintants later and he was no longer taunting Keith about not fucking him hard enough, because there really was no talking around Shiro's cock in your mouth.
Lance was loving every second of it. The closeness with his soulmates filled something inside of him that nothing else ever had - Shiro's size notwithstanding - and he soaked in every last morsel of their attention he could get like he was starved for it.
Lance was also hating every second of it. The sharp contrast between the tender loving Keith and Shiro shared between one another, and the casualness and uncaring in their fucking with Lance.
Because they were just fucking Lance, while they would make love to each other. Every time Lance saw them kiss it felt like he was being stabbed in the gut, knowing he would never be able to get that treatment.
They had been quite clear about it from the start: Lance was here for fun, for pleasure, for stress relief. He was not going to be held at the same value as a soulmate.
So Lance loved, Lance hated, and most importantly, Lance never took his shirt off around Shiro or Keith, lest they see the soulmark low on his ribs that perfectly matched theirs.
And it worked great, for a while. Even if Hunk worried about Lance acting weird and, according to Hunk, more and more depressed. Even if Pidge kept giving him these looks of worry and disapproval and telling him very pointedly how he could talk to her if he needed anything, anything at all. Even Coran and Allura seemed to have realised something was going on, despite their general confusion about human behaviour and relationships.
And Lance was going to milk this cow for as long as possible (not unlike Kaltenecker, bless her bovine soul).
He knew it wouldn't last. He knew that. He just didn't think it would be ruined so soon.
Keith knew it wouldn't last. He wasn't stupid, he knew that. He just didn't think it might end so soon because Lance was trying to get himself killed showing off!
It wasn't his fault he had developed feelings for the idiot. He was happy with Shiro - he loved Shiro more than anything he had ever loved in his life! - and still, when Lance came around, it was like the ground shifting under his feet. Keith would never want to be without Shiro … but the thought of having to live without Lance was just as horrifying.
So their arrangement was … painful, at best. Torture, usually. Lance offered casual sex and Keith grabbed it with both hands, but being unable to cross the line from fucking to lovemaking was killing him.
And he knew Shiro felt similarly, or his soulmate would never have joined in on their supposedly casual sex in the first place.
It made it all the more infuriating that Lance seemed to get more reckless by the day. Like having a sex life made him think he could take on the Galra empire with his bare hands or something.
Keith could feel him slipping , right there between his fingers - and if it wasn't because Lance found out Keith had feelings for him and decided to ditch him with some hurtful jab, it would be because Lance got himself killed.
And this time he got far too close to the latter.
The machine that was sent out to fight them in the halls of the Galra ship was like some nightmare shredder: Circles around circles twisting in opposing directions, each of them outfitted with vicious metal claws that turned on their own separate axis as well. It had taken the remains of a felled sentry on its way to the paladins, and the dead robot was turned to literal fucking confetti right in front of them.
So what does the idiot with the long range weapon do?
Naturally, he would jump forward to pull Keith out of the shredder's range - and Keith had that, thanks - getting himself grazed by it instead. And by 'grazed', Keith meant 'got the armour of his back torn off and would have his spine followed suit if not for Keith throwing his weight away from the shredder to pull them both out of the way'.
Keith was livid.
By some miracle, Lance had not been injured much more than some bleeding gashes that didn't hit anything important, so he refused to even go near the med bay and insisted a shower was more important first. Keith disagreed, but he was far to worked up to actually enter the argument about Lance going to have his back patched up. Which left only one response.
He should probably have put some towels on the bed before pushing Lance down on it and spreading those long, long legs wide in the air to fuck the idiot silly. But hey, Shiro was right there and he didn't say anything about their ruined bed either. He looked just as angry and was working it out the same way Keith was - the delicious arch of Lance's throat as his head leaned back over the edge of the bed to have his throat fucked was surely a sight Keith could work with from his position. Especially with the swell of Shiro's cock visible every time he fucked inside, but Lance's gag reflex all but absent until Shiro would block his air for too long.
It was such a great way to work out pent up aggression and anger, but at the same time it hurt so much, knowing that Lance wasn't here to stay, never even took his damn shirt off as if to ensure they both knew their was no intimacy here, just lust and release.
Each time could be the last time Keith and Shiro had him.
Keith finally released one of those divine legs, allowing it to wrap around his waist instantly to draw him in closer, because the shirt - the shirt Lance never took off.
It felt forbidden, but Keith could not pass up on this opportunity when the remainders of Lance's flight suit were so shredded that the fabric had already rolled and pulled enough to show skin that Lance never showed them. Expanses of delicious soft skin, marred only with drying streaks of blood, but no scars visible from what little Keith could see.
He drank it all in, sliding his fingers up Lance's belly to reveal more, against better judgement.
Beautiful, soft skin, hitching with gasped breaths when Shiro allowed him to, rocking between the two soulmates fucking him from either side-
Keith froze, his fingers still on the uncovered mark that stained Lance's skin high on his ribs, just off to the side below his left pectoral.
Shiro paused barely a second later, and his eyes must have followed Keith's because he too froze, body going rigid mid-fuck. Both of them, buried balls deep in Lance, seeing their soulmark on Lance's skin for the first time-
Lance's curse came out garbled and choked, but unmistakable nonetheless, since his hurry to fold in on himself and somehow pull away from both men fucking him at once. His hands scrambled to pull the tattered remains of his suit over the mark, but all the damage was long done.
"Lance … what the fuck?"
Okay, not Keith's most tactful moment, but seriously, what the fuck?
Lance glowered at him, surprising Keith by already looking on the verge of tears - and not in a 'got my throat fucked' kinda way either.
"You weren't supposed to see that."
As if that was all the explanation Keith and Shiro were going to need, Lance started to extract himself from the bed, not the easiest feat with Keith still high up between his legs and Shiro blocking the way off the edge. It didn't help that neither of them were about to let him leave, of course.
"Like hell we weren't!" Keith grabbed Lance's ankles to pin them to the bed, forcing him to stay put. "That's our soulmark! Why would you not tell us that you're our soulmate!"
"What? What good would that have done?" Lance struggled so hard at this point that Shiro reached forward to put a hand on Keith's wrist. Keith bristled at the silent order to let go of Lance, because it was stupid to let go when he was clearly about to bolt, but he obeyed nonetheless. Lance was off the bed and on his feet in the blink of an eye, hands scrambling to cover him up with scraps of the thick fabric hanging around him, face bright red and eyes pointedly averted.
He stood his ground long enough to finish making his point, though. Keith had to give him that.
"You two have each other, and you are perfect together and you're happy and in love - and me butting in with my soulmark can only ruin that. Either I could make you both miserable by happily third-wheeling your perfect relationship, making you feel like you should give me the same level of love and- and- everything that you give each other, just because of some mark on my skin, no matter that you both think I'm annoying or even hate me or whatever-"
Keith and Shiro both moved to protest the moment Lance told them what their opinions about him were supposed to be, but Lance didn't pause his tirade to give them a chance to voice anything, purposely stomping on with his hurt and his anger and his spilling tears.
"Or I'd make it even worse, not just third-wheeling next to you but actually driving a wedge between you by making you juggle your love for each other and the somehow 'fair' treatment of giving me the same, leaving you both less for each other. Or, and I hope this would be how it would've gone, you would just flat-out refuse me, because a mark on my skin doesn't make you love me, not makes me deserve such love, and you would both keep going happily with your relationship and-and be happy which I want but I-I wouldn-n't be able to-to handle that rejection-n-"
He was openly sobbing now, and Keith may or may not have just torn through their bloodied sheets by wrenching his hands hard enough to hold back, hold back from pouncing on Lance and hugging him and shaking him to tell him what a fucking idiot he was, and kiss him and shout at him and-
Keith didn't even realise how badly the tears in his own eyes were burning until they spilt, blurring his vision of Shiro carefully shifting towards Lance like he was approaching a skittish animal, and only wrapping his arms around the crying boy when he did not pull away from the approach. Shiro's voice sounded as wet as Keith knew his own would be when he softly hushed Lance, just holding him close and rocking ever so slightly to let him cry it out.
There were so many things Keith wanted to do or say right now, and he had no idea where to start, what to do, what to even want to do the most. So he stayed put where he was, kneeling on the bed, torn sheets wrenching between his fists, watching Lance cry out all his pent up emotions into Shiro's chest.
Keith wanted to take his own turn to do the same after, and Shiro would probably want so too, but he would have to make do with a somewhat less broad and perfect chest for that.
Only when Lance's sobs finally subsided, Shiro asked the question that came from Keith as much as Shiro himself, his voice so soft and sad it made Lance flinch like he was slapped in the face.
"Why would you think that we wouldn't be overjoyed to find out you are our soulmate too?"
Lance was stunned into silence, mouth opening and closing mutely like a fish while he stared at Shiro with wide, confused eyes. So honestly and openly taken off guard that Keith could no longer keep his silence.
"You know that the soulmate thing goes both ways, right?" Keith's voice was sharp, too sharp, earning him not only Lance's stunned look but also a frown from Shiro. "You didn't consider that Shiro and I were already head over heels in love with you, and maybe really fucking confused about it too?"
"B-but," Lance stuttered, needing to swallow heavily before he could continue, "you made it clear from the start! You made it clear that I was … I was just casual and not like you two together, and-and…"
"Because you kept us at a distance!" Keith snapped, again too harsh, and this time Shiro actually admonished him with a soft reprimand of just his name. Keith sat back on the bed abruptly, giving Shiro a glare now. "Hush me all you like Shiro, but I'm right. Lance never let us close in the first place- what were we to do, force-cuddle him when he was so clearly uninterested in that? I felt guilty for every kiss I stole during sex, thinking I was overstepping bounds but unable to stop myself-"
"But you and Shiro-" Lance started to protest, only to be cut off by Shiro this time.
"- both love you. As the mere existence of the matching soulmarks should have told you the moment you found out about ours. We were just left confused about why you would give us such strong feelings for much longer, but that doesn't mean we didn't have them."
Lance drew back, almost looking like he was sulking now as he feebly tried wiggling out of Shiro's hold. Shiro was not letting go, and Keith slowly relaxed in the knowledge that they had won this argument. All that was left was Lance accepting that his loss meant he also won.
"But you two- I don't wanna come between you and ruin things …"
"You can come between us anytime, the orgasms are spectacular that way." Shiro's dirty joke was unexpected enough to make both Keith and Lance snort out a laugh, and any tears and sadness left in the room seemed to be dispelled with the simple crudity. "In all seriousness though, Lance … We want you with us. You really make us better, more … complete. You are our soulmate and we want nothing more than to have you by our side."
Lance aimed a tentatively hopeful look at Keith for him to back that up, so Keith patted the ruined sheets on the bed in front of him.
"What Shiro said. So get back here and finish coming between us so we can cuddle all of this out like mature men before Shiro and I shout at you about that stunt you pulled on the mission."
Lance's laugh was still a bit watery, but it was the best sound Keith had heard in a long time. They were going to be fine.
They were going to be perfect.