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moments of silence

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I.

Lance loves to make a scene. Give him a crowd of people, hell, just even one other person in a five-foot radius, and he’s more than happy

A room full of fellow pilots-to-be is catnip, honestly. He’s able to get at least 80% of the classroom’s attention before the first class even starts, makes at least 30% of them laugh, and honestly? He’s off to a good start.

Except that mopey kid in the back corner. Lance makes it a goal to make him smile by the end of the day, but all he gets instead is a glare, a roll of the eyes, and a complete shut-out as the kid goes back to scrawling something on some piece of paper.

So Keith and Lance never talk. Lance tries a couple of times, c’mon, Keith is his rival, but after a few weeks, he decides it’s a rivalry of the understated, unspoken-super-threatening kind.

One day, Keith vanishes.

The next day, Lance learns of his new assignment, finds out later that Top Pilot Keith got kicked out.

Lance figures that Keith and him will never talk. It’s not like he cares or anything.

II.

“How long has it been?” Hunk tilts his head, leans forward so he’s scant inches away from Lance. Not one to back down, Lance shifts his eyes to meet Hunk, scrunches his nose, and sticks his tongue out.

“About twenty minutes.” Pidge responds.

“This really isn’t good for their relationship as paladins, and much less for the team as a whole.” Allura’s voice is so genuinely full of concern and worry that fuck it, Lance is thisclose to jumping up and reassuring her that he’s totally fine, Keith can have his silly victory, but no, as rivals, Lance must Win.

So, sorry Allura, but his priorities are zeroed in on beating Keith at his own stupid passive aggressive silent ways.

“I must say, I don’t mind how long it has been without them bickering at each other over something utterly pointless.” Coran notes, and whatever Coran, each argument Lance has with Keith is absolutely not pointless.

“It was something stupid that got them like this in the first place.” Shiro’s voice is stern, and okay, this one hurts. From the twitch coming from Keith’s shoulder, Shiro’s words affected him too. Lance isn't sure who it stings more for: Lance has looked up to Shiro as a hero for months, while Keith and him have some sort of close bond that they don't talk about.

Just kidding, it stings worse for Lance. C'mon, Shiro's his hero. It even rhymes - it has to be more meaningful. And seriously Shiro, Lance challenging Keith post-argument to prove he can be equally as broody and quiet is not stupid.

The others leave one by one over a painstakingly long hour. Coran peaces out first, then Pidge, then Shiro and Allura, then finally Hunk, who throws his hands up with a “You guys are so overdramatic,” and throws his head back with a rather loud scoff as the doors close behind him.

Lance breaks two minutes later.

“This was totally your fault!” The immediate realization of his statement sinks in. "DAMN IT.” Lance slaps his hands against his thighs before hopping over the back of the couch and storming his way out. He glares back at Keith to see the stupid guy smirking of all things, still silent.

He can't stand the guy.

III.

Keith’s never heard Lance quiet for so long. Granted, he’s kinda stuck in the pod, comatose and healing, nearly fatally injured by Zarkon's number one henchman, no big deal.

Everyone had left about ten minutes prior to head off to bed. Hunk raised an eyebrow when Keith, instead of following the others, had moved down to sit, but Keith just waved it away with an excuse that they can't be too careful.

“Sure, whatever you say~” Hunk singsongs, but quickly adds a hasty apology when Keith jerked forward, eyes squinted and threatening.

Truth be told, he actually isn’t sure why he wants to stay behind. Maybe it’s because he wants to take advantage of having a silent Lance for this long, god knows what he’s going to ramble about the second he wakes up. Probably something about Allura or complaining about how he probably missed them meeting a bunch of hot alien girls while he was out.

Whatever.

Keith tightens his criss-crossed legs and closes the space between his crossed arm and chest even more, turning away from the pod to look at some nondescript spot on the floor not too far away. It’s not like he cares or anything, but god, Lance can’t go more than ten minutes without mentioning a girl and it really gets annoying.

He sighs and looks back at the pod...and pokes it. Several times.

Lance’s mouth is just barely open, relaxed, his eyes shut and still. On occasion, his eyelashes flutter, and Keith’s never noticed how long and dark they are until now.

Nothing continues to happen for several more minutes, but Keith starts when Lance's finger twitches, and his stomach flips when he notices that there's a small freckle between his index finger and thumb.

“Wake up soon, asshole. It’s too awkward without your stupid unwarranted statements all the time.” Keith rasps the glass lightly before heading out.

IV.

They have to be millions of light years away…at least thousands, definitely hundreds, right? It’s irrelevant, physics was for splitting his time staring at the cute girl in front of him with the single dark braid down her back and the boy next to her with a shaggy mop on his head that he pulled back with a thin strap of leather, stark against his golden hair. Lance totally thought he was a girl at first - c’mon, his hair was so shiny and wavy - but it's not like it mattered when he first turned around. Sure, Lance made a weird noise because he was a boy, but he had really, really nice green eyes and a crinkly smile, so it's not like it really mattered. He was pretty and Lance liked looking at him.

So yeah, physics was for staring at the cute people in the front.

God, Lance curls in his bed and rubs his eyes some more, disregarding the fact that he's getting face mask into his eyelashes and brows. He's even far away from silly crushes of purely the physical kind. It doesn't even come close to what he had dreamed of: sand glowing under his brown skin tanning so he could become a bronzed god, the smell of the ocean waves and his mom’s grilled pork barbecuing a few feet away. He could still hear his siblings and cousins laughing as they all played soccer together, along with the cries of his tía about how it’s fútbol, don’t disgrace a great game with such a meaningless American word.

It isn't the same here. He can't just jump out his bed in the morning and race the half a mile it took to get to the shore. There is no window in his room to let the sea salt wind waft in, no stupid seagulls squawking as they tried to attack him while he was eating dessert.

Man, he even misses the stupid seagulls.

Lance rolls out of bed and aimlessly reaches for his robe, swipes his MP3 player next to his pillow immediately after. Fuzzy slippers on, some Toto blasting from his earbuds, and he's ready to go.

It’s not that much colder during the time that they sleep - Lance does not feel like getting into the concept of time in space when he’s fully awake, much less the sleepy state he’s currently in - but he tightens his robe around himself anyway, his MP3 its own kind of weapon, the earbuds a kind of shield.

Lance doesn't really like being alone. Even if it's not his family around his family, he just likes having people around him, period.

There’s another person on the couch, and of course it’s Keith. Lance heaves a heavy sigh and glimpse over anyway, because screw you Keith, Lance has every right to sit where he wants at Fuck Knows O’Clock too.

Lance pushes his hands forward with a "Scooch, you're in my spot," as he slumps next to Keith. He doesn't say anything, and it's annoying, so Lance chooses to continue.

“So why’re you awake Grumpy Cat?” The other boy still doesn’t do anything more than move his head a few degrees before rolling his eyes and moving it back to its original position. He finally answers, "Your face looks more terrifying than normal."

"Huh?" Lance pokes his cheek and realizes that there's a goop of green clay on his finger. "Shut up, Keith, shouldn't you know that beauty takes work?"

Keith raises an eyebrow, Lance realizes what he's said, and neither one responds.

Instead, Lance looks down into Keith’s hands, where he’s holding a - “Wait, this model’s like six years old! Can it even hold music that came out last year?” He swipes the MP3 from a growling Keith, shifts his body so he’s facing him, and rests an arm on top of the couch. If Keith leaned back just an inch, Lance's fingers could probably brush the back of his neck.

“Why am I not surprised that your playlists include what has to be the lamest, whiniest, emo-y-est -"

"That's not a word!"

"Guyliner-worthy instruments banging together and pretending to call itself music."

Keith scowls. “Like your stuff is any better."

“Actually, it’s stellar.When I get home, people will beg and pay me to curate awesome playlists for them, for any occasion!"

“I’m surprised you know what ‘curate’ means."

“Dude, just shut up and listen.” Lance yanks Keith’s black earbud from his ear and jams his blue one into it instead.

Keith is still for a few seconds before his nose scrunches and he stares at Lance. "You've got to be kidding."

"Do not tell me that you're hating on Van Halen."

"It's so loud."

"Right, and the screaming whines about getting so far and nothing mattering in the end isn't." Lance pouts and scrolls through his song list. He doesn't know why, and he'd rather get handcuffed to Keith than admit it, but he kinda wants to impress him.

Stupid cool guy persona.

"Oh!" Keith starts, picks up Lance's MP3 to look at the dim screen. "I know this song..."

"You do?"

"It used to play on the radio sometimes when I was in the shack. It's kinda hard to miss, you know."

"My mom used to play it all the time when she cooked. Not quite sure what it is about 'I Melt with You,' but it helped contribute to a great picadillo."

And that’s how they end the night: an earbud in each ear, their MP3s resting on their respective touching knees. A few songs play from one before the other unplugs it in annoyance and starts playing a few from theirs. It's a mixture of the 80s Best from Lance, whiny boys wearing who wear all black and red on the album covers moaning over guitars from Keith, and some solid 90s pop from both of them.

It's strange: usually when he's around Keith, Lance is pumped up, bursting with adrenaline, ready to bash heads, but with him sitting this close, in the dark, sharing music only heard between the two of them, it's peaceful. They don't even exchange anymore anecdotes, just sit there with music and stars surrounding them.

At some point, Keith’s head falls on top of Lance’s shoulder, completely out with small, innocent breaths of air that tickle Lance’s collarbone. Lance has half a mind to shove him awake and no Keith, Lance's ripped deltoids make a terrible pillow, but Keith's hair looks so soft, even the stupid mullet tail, and that's Lance's head falling on top, and...

(They wake up an hour later according to Keith's watch, look at each other, and without a word, run to their respective rooms and don't mention it again.)

V.

Lance is three feet away and making a bunch of ridiculous gestures: point up, point towards the Galra soldiers, what?

Eventually it clicks, Lance is two for two in terms of successful plans, and he’s able to distract the soldiers while Keith climbs above before ambushing them.

As they run to the base, Keith can’t help but keep thinking about the boy running in front of him, whooping about how smart his idea was. It’s like the past half hour has toppled how Keith views Lance as not a person (because he can admit how he feels about Lance at this point), but as a soldier, a pilot, a paladin, and a fighter. Maybe his motions were, to put it in Lance terms, “wacky,” and maybe it took some time to understand, but Lance’s silent strategy was both conveyed and executed successfully, and he’d never say it aloud, but it’s something Keith can’t do.

“You’re slowing down man, let’s go!” Lance turns, grabs Keith’s wrist, and leads them out of the cave.

The mulling over Lance’s leadership skills will have to wait. For now, Keith would rather smack Lance’s arm off and run ahead of him, which he absolutely does.

VI.

Once they’re all reunited and everyone’s been healed and reported what they’ve seen in their respective parts of the universe, they celebrate with a mini-party. Hunk had kicked Coran out of the kitchen , while Allura and Pidge have set up an entertainment system to play various genres of music from both Earth and Altea. Pidge even managed to tinker with the system so that the lights changed color in the transitions between songs.

There's quite noticeably someone missing though. Keith is such an idiot; if he thinks he can slink out after everyone's been worried sick about each other and confirming that yeah, they care for each other a lot and the seven of them are in this together, he's got another thing coming.

Lance weighs the options. Coran and Hunk are arguing about Altean cuisine, Pidge is tinkering with some new piece of technology, and Shiro and Allura are engrossed in some kind of personal conversation. Ugh, fine, Lance guesses he's the one to look for Keith.

It’s a lucky guess really, but Lance finds Keith sitting in front of one the ginormous windows overlooking the everything and nothingness that surrounds them. Usually, Lance’s stomach flips around whenever he passes these by, tries to avoid them and prefers to use the inner corridors. It just reminds him how far away they are from home, and his family, and a seagull who won’t leave his food alone.

But here, now, Keith is completely still, resting in the small curve of the windowsill. He’s looking out the window, one knee brought up to his chest and a resting place for his elbow. He has a thumb on his temple and a small worry line dented in between his thick eyebrows. Every so often, he glances down at his free hand with a frown before sighing and gazing out again.

Lance’s hand curls, and he becomes sensitive to the way that his index finger brushes the pad of his thumb, ghosting the way his brain tells him to walk over and smooth the worry away from Keith’s forehead.

“What the hell do you want?"

“Rude!” Lance takes a breath as he stuffs his hands into his jacket pockets. He walks over to Keith and leans against the wall, “Uh…look, I know you’re Mr. Lone Wolf, but I know you like us and missed us, and you know what? It looks like you just need another human’s company.”

Lance frowns, focusing only on the judging squint and completely missing Keith’s small smile, “Well, person, I guess, since there are two aliens on board, and it’d be rude of me to only mention humans, right? That would be offens-"

“Lance?"

“Yeah?"

“Another human’s company would be great."

Lance grins and slides in opposite Keith. It's a tight fit; a curved windowsill wasn't really meant to hold two boys in their late teens with gangly limbs, but they make do.

Okay, so Lance has no problem talking out both his mouth and ass, and it’s his preferred method of both brightening and diffusing a situation, but when he looks at Keith, staring at nothing and his hand clenching and unclenching as if he wants it to get annoyed and rip itself off, he decides to stay still.

When they get up, Lance nudges Keith with a smirk, “Don’t expect that to happen again."

“Like I want it to.”

VII.

Keith regrets everything.

“You like me? Oh my god you like me, you like like me, no way! It's my good looks, right? Definitely my charm, I've seen how you've smiled at my jokes every now and then, dude, you have a crush on me!”

Yeah, Keith definitely regrets everything.

He blames it on the nunvule, easily, one-hundred-fucking-percent, because for some reason he thought it was a good reason to down three cups of that foot water. Dinner was two hours ago, but his stomach still churns at how much he gulped down because of how much he couldn't stand how Lance looked under the light next to him, all copper glow, but he'd couple it with some fucking pun. And then there'd be how he'd recall the alien who caught his eye yesterday and it was so annoying, but then two minutes later, notices how Pidge starts to choke on something, and is the first to run over to help get them a glass of water and to Heimlich the object out.

Then he tilts his head back, his hair now a little longer with bangs flirting with the ends of his long eyelashes…and he makes a fart joke .

Keith continues to regret everything.

“This is exactly why I didn’t want to tell you!” Keith throws his hands up, prepared to leave, wishing he can just have a few rounds in spar training against a bunch of non-Lance robots. He had stormed out of the dining room the second dinner ended, and his damn brain had led him straight to Lance’s room, ready to get this whole thing over with.

“How long? I mean, I don’t blame you, I’m hotter than like, our sun, but holy crap, you like me!"

“I’m leaving!” Keith announces, turning to leave Lance’s room, but the door won't slide open and there’s no way in hell they’re locked in, this is bullshit -

- and with his luck, they're drowning in darkness and floating in the air.

“Did we just lose power?"

“Doesn’t that usually happen before the love confession? All those romcoms lied to me."

Keith would really love to throw something right now, except he can’t grab anything and it wouldn’t even do the job if he threw it. “Crush. No one said anything about love."

There’s a sound from Lance that no doubt is an idiotic rebuttal, but Coran’s voice filters through the intercom right as they fall back on the ground.

"My apologies paladins - it looks like we -" There's an angry chirping noise of protest, "- I accidentally hit the fuse for the central power, but we should be up and running in no time! Maybe several hundred ticks, possibly longer, but do not fret! As you can tell, we do have a backup generator that can support most of the power in the ship."

Keith can feel Lance’s shoulder against his as they slump against the door. They stays like that for a while, with nothing but the whirr of the backup generator that keeps the room in a soft, dull green glow.

“You like me.” Lance finally whispers, and oh no he's not getting the first word in a conversation that started with Keith’s confession.

He starts, “Yeah, I do. It’s not that exciting, like I actually think you’re funny sometimes and I like how you care about your family and the oth-"

Lance’s lips are soft. His hands are warm - one curled lightly behind Keith’s neck, the other lifting Keith's fingers and wrapping them in his own.

The kiss is also very wet, and Keith’s back is hurting from how he’s turned it. Overall, it’s not really that enjoyable, but this is Keith’s first kiss and he doesn’t want it to end, but then it gets a little too gross and Lance accidentally bites down too hard on his lip and that’s it, moment’s ruined, kiss is over.

Lance laughs and Keith gets aggressively defensive, “Hey, it’s not like you’re that great at this either! And I’m not that terrible -"

“No, no, well, I mean, you are, but I’ve also only kissed like three people total and the last time I was like, sixteen? Yeah, I was sixteen, but just, god that was hilarious, we have to get better at this."

Keith barks, “You know, if you shut up, we could now.” And with a small squeak from Lance and a smarmy grin that actually starts a different Lance-fueled fire inside Keith for the first time ever, they spend the night improving. There's no dumbass statements from Lance, no annoyed rebuttles from Keith, and while a small part of Keith wants it, this isn't so bad.

They don’t notice when the lights turn back on.

VIII.

They’re sharing a pillow, Lance’s arm crushed behind Keith’s back, fingers curled around his shoulder. Keith can tell that it hurts Lance, but whatever, he’s comfy, and Lance only complained twice in the beginning.

“And on the beach, this pizza shack. Man, the cheese just melts off - I mean, it’s like a million degrees out so it makes sense - but the second you can get over that first bite scorching your tongue, it’s like you don’t want to eat anything ever again.” Lance stretches his free arm out farther, fingers reaching for the heaven that is cheese raining from the sky that only exist in his weirdass brain.

“You really like talking about them a lot, huh?"

Instead of a snarky remark, Lance just sighs. “Yeah,” he’s silent for a second before his eyes widen and he bolts up, staring down at Keith and blurting, “I’m so sorry if it’s offensive or anything! I just, I don’t know what it’s like to not have a family around me all the time and I’m not used to being lonely and -"

Keith tugs Lance’s arm, laughing at Lance’s tiny yelp as his torso hits the mattress.

“It’s fine.” Neither mentions how they found a new family on the ship, but it’s there.

“I can’t wait to see them when we get home though.” Lance turns to Keith with a really cute, wide grin. “And seriously, I know you’re excited to get back to that shack or do whatever lone wolves do, but you should meet them! They’d love to take you in, and they’ll think you’re really great, they’ll love you, I mean, they should, once they get aside all your whole…Keithness."

“You’d introduce me to them?” Keith’s face burns. It probably matches the light pink spreading on Lance’s cheeks.

Surprisingly, Lance doesn’t say anything for a few seconds. It’s actually worrisome, and maybe this whole thing was a mistake, if Lance’s puzzled expression is any indication. Keith’s about ready to jump out of the bed end whatever they have right now and never speak of it again -

“Why is that even a question?” Lance flicks Keith’s forehead. They readjust so that Lance is holding Keith’s wrist, and uses his hand as a cursor for the new images he wants to describe. “So, my younger sister has this bear…"

“Wait, a real one?"

“What the hell, Keith? Anyway…"

IX.

It doesn’t happen with a parade, or Lance rummaging through the ship’s storage to find some sort of horn to play an 80s romance bop to. In fact, he doesn’t even plan it, because it doesn’t suddenly happen.

Of all places, of all times, it’s when they’re racing their lions on a mission, because fuck you Keith if you think you’re going to get onto the planet first. Their taunts and jests are left behind on the castle, and now, they’re laser-focused in their race, save for the occasional glance to each other on their screens.

Keith wins by a hair, and Lance wants to be upset, but he thinks of the fire in his boyfriend’s eyes as they charged down, and how he’s now laughing, open and warm and bright, and he loves it.