“I'm telling you, Hunk, there's no one on this Earth that is resistant to my charms,” Lance insisted as he cleaned out the coffee machine.
They were closing up shop, with Hunk out the front mopping while Lance yelled at him from behind the counter. They worked in a cafe that stayed open until 10pm, since there was a university nearby they tended to be busy throughout the entire day, with heaps of sleep-deprived students wandering in constantly.
“That's bull,” Hunk barked back. “Neither I nor Pidge were affected by your 'charm'.”
“That's because I didn't turn it all the way up,” Lance reasoned. “And besides, I wasn't attracted to either of you anyway.”
Hunk shot him a knowing look. “I dunno, I felt like you wanted to marry me a year ago when I made you that amazing breakfast after you'd gone on a bender the night before.”
“Semantics,” Lance waved him off. “I would've married anyone if they did that for me.”
Hunk just laughed, telling him to hurry up and shut down the machine so they could go.
They turned off all the lights before setting the alarm and closing the door behind them. It hadn't been a particularly busy day, which Lance found to be a blessing since he hadn't gotten much sleep last night and hadn't felt particularly motivated today.
“I'm going to go to the bar for a drink or two, wanna come?”
Lance shook his head. “I just wanna sleep, got an early class tomorrow,” he reached into his pocket to pull out his phone, setting an alarm before he forgot.
“No worries. What time you on tomorrow?” Hunk asked.
“I start at 3 again, I'm sure,” Lance frowned before nodding. “Yeah, 3. You?”
“4, so I'll see you then. Have a good sleep, later,” Hunk called over his shoulder as he walked away.
Lance started his walk back home, stopping into his local grocery store to pick up a few things on the way - namely 2 minute pasta meals because he was too lazy to cook anything else when he got home.
When he reached his building he noticed a rental moving truck parked out the front, mostly empty now, but he guessed someone had finally moved into the apartment across from his own. It had been vacant for a while, and Lance had suggested to Hunk and Pidge to move in, insisting it could be just like on 'Friends'. They had both said no, though, saying their place was closer to their uni and they felt rather attached to it.
( “And I don't think I could handle you bursting into our place all the time and eating all of our food,” Hunk had said, shaking his head.
“That's it? That's the only excuse you're giving me?” Lance whined.
“Sorry, Lance,” Pidge said, not sounding sorry at all. )
So Lance was quite excited now to see who his new neighbour would be. Perhaps a sweet, little old lady who would always bring over baked goods for him, or maybe someone who could share his love for wanting to live his life like a TV sitcom. Either way, the most likely option was seeing them in passing in the hallways and not much else. Sad, really. He'd had some great neighbours throughout his childhood.
He made his way up the stairs, never bothering with the elevator anymore since it had already trapped him in there three times (Hunk hadn't stopped laughing when he'd called him up the last time to ask his friend to come and save him).
Lance made it to his floor, seeing some more boxes lined up neatly against the walls as he made his way to his door. He was only a few metres away when his new neighbour - a guy, it turned out - stepped out of the other apartment.
And Lance just about froze.
Because the guy - his new neighbour - was fucking hot as hell.
He was only wearing a simple black t-shirt and jeans, but still somehow managed to look like he'd just stepped out of a damn Hollister magazine. His eyes were dark, jaw sharp, and Lance could see a perfectly toned body under his clothes. Also, he had a fucking mullet, and it looked good. Lance couldn't believe his luck - this was too much.
The guy stopped when he saw Lance standing there, his face growing a bit concerned when Lance just continued staring at him.
“You okay?” the guy finally asked, and shit, his voice was like the cherry on top of one of Hunk's awesome sundaes.
“Uh,” Lance got out, clearing his throat as he tried to collect himself. “Hey, you're the new neighbour.”
"What gave it away?" The guy's lips tugged up slightly. Oh, Lance thought. He's got a bite to him.
Lance laughed shortly, suddenly a bit nervous under the other man's stare. Lance could admit it was slightly arousing, as dumb as it sounded. Whoever said dark eyes weren't sexy were dead wrong. He took a deep breath, letting his trademark smirk take over his face as he walked over to the guy, extending his hand. “The name's Lance,” he said, letting his voice drop deeper, “And on a scale of 1 to 10, you're a 9.”
The guy gave him a look, clearly not impressed.
“Because I'm the 1 you need,” Lance finished, pleased with himself.
Silence. And then -
The guy kicked him right in the balls.
He didn't put much force behind it, but it still managed to make Lance to topple over slightly in pain. Lance also dropped his groceries quite dramatically as he reached down to hold his crotch. “What the fuck?” he got out, an incredulous expression forming on his face as he looked up at the guy in question.
“Sorry,” the guy said, tone neutral. “My leg slipped.”
He brushed past Lance and started walking down the hall, and Lance just stared after him in absolute shock. When he was alone in the hall again, he couldn't help but let out a small whimper.
“What. The. Fuck?”
“Wait, wait, wait, let me get this straight,” Hunk stopped Lance with a raised hand, eyes closed. “So you meet this guy - your new neighbour - hit on him, as you do, and he just landed a hit right on your manhood before walking away? Is this for real?”
“Yes!” Lance said, throwing his hands up in the air. “I mean, what the fuck?” He was pretty sure he's said that at least 7 times today already. “I would've preferred a punch to the face, or anything else besides Lance Jr.”
Hunk rolled his eyes at him before flipping some burger patties on the grill. “Please don't call your dick that, Lance.”
Lance was on his break and chose to spend all of it recounting the events of last night to Hunk. Hunk of course found the whole thing to be quite amusing, which really wasn't helping Lance to get his point across at all. Pidge was out the front serving, so Lance would have to wait for a while to be able to tell her, so for now all he wanted was for Hunk to back him up on the whole situation.
Come 10pm again and the three of them were closing up, all of them agreeing to go to the bar so Lance could discuss the events of last night with them further. While Hunk made his way over to the bar to order for them Lance and Pidge went over to their usual booth, Lance rambling before they even sat down.
“Like, it was totally uncalled for right?” Lance prodded.
Pidge let out a 'hmm' sound. “Logically, yes, there was no need for him to kick your private parts,” Lance snorted at her choice of words, “But, have you ever considered that not everyone enjoys you hitting on them?”
“That,” Lance said, giving her a finger gun, “is totally not true - anyone should feel lucky enough to be able to experience my pick-up lines first hand.”
“That,” Pidge countered, shooting back her own finger gun, “is totally not true.”
When Hunk returned with their drinks they dove further into Lance's claim that his flirting could get anyone. Lance had downed his first beer in one go, and then stood up to go and buy a pitcher instead, feeling like he deserved it tonight.
“What if the guy is homophobic or something?” Pidge wondered, still nursing her first beer.
Lance, who was now on his 5th, gave her a look. “Nah, I don't think so. It felt like it was about something else.”
She sighed, still unsure. “Well then, I guess the only reasonable conclusion was that he didn't appreciate your pathetic advances, or, he's never been hit on before,” she listed off, smiling sweetly. “I'd say it's the former.”
“Ouch,” Lance fake winced, clutching his heart.
“And it's going to be awkward to live across the hall from him now, isn't it?” Hunk questioned.
“Yeah, fuck this,” Lance let his head fall onto the table, groaning pathetically.
Hunk patted his back, laughing again. “Why don't you just try to make it up to him? Seems like the only option you've got here.”
Lance mumbled something incoherently before closing his eyes for a moment. Hunk and Pidge moved on to talking about their classes tomorrow, and gradually Lance came to the conclusion that yes, he would have to try and get along with this guy if they were going to be seeing more of each other now.
When Hunk had decided Lance had had enough to drink he called it quits, the three of them stepping out into the cold wispy air. They walked Lance home first, since he was relatively close by, and they made sure Lance was good to go up his building's stairs before hailing their own cab and disappearing around the corner.
Lance wasn't sure how long it look him (he would argue only 5 minutes) to walk up the 4 flights of stairs to get to his door. When he got closer he started to hear music blasting from the crotch-kicker's (as he had so aptly nicknamed him) apartment. Lance almost saw white – who the fuck blasts music that loud so late at night? Maybe it was just how sensitive his hearing got when he was drunk, but in a childish rush of rage he reached into his bag to pull out a permanent marker from his pencil case. He brought the pen up to start scribbling on his neighbours door, a bit sloppy but still readable.
“Ha!” He chuckled to himself when he finished writing his message. “That'll show him,” he hiccuped, turning around to go into his apartment for some well deserved sleep.
The next day Lance woke up with a killer headache, thanking the heavens he didn't have class today. Trudging slowly into the kitchen to eat whatever he could find in his fridge, he noticed a piece of paper had been slipped under his front door.
Curious, he walked over to pick it up, yawning as he gradually unfolded it to reveal what it said.
'Was it you or wrote that on my door? I bet it was you. In that case: go to hell.'
“Huh?” Lance mumbled, flipping the page over to see if there was anything else written on the back. Nothing. “What the?”
It wasn't until later when he left his apartment to go down and buy some much needed painkillers that he saw somebody had written in very large letter's a messgae on his neighbour's door. At the end of the scribble it was finished with a brilliantly appointed name 'mullethead'.
“Ah, shit,” Lance stopped, remembering all too clearly how he'd drunkenly lashed out in anger last night and defaced the guy's door with a slew of insults about his taste in music. He had to laugh though, knowing the guy would have to paint over it if he ever wanted it gone.
'Okay, when I get back from the shops I'll apologise, since that's what I promised Hunk I'd try to do anyway.' He thought it best not to tell his friends about this incident, though, knowing it would earn him some disapproving head-shakes like a child getting caught scribbling on the wall.
20 minutes and some lame attempts at trying to word out an apology later, he was back in front of his neighbour's door, hesitating slightly.
'Alright man, you've been in far worse situations than this, so just knock on the fucking door and get this over with.'
And he did. And he waited. Then he knocked again, louder this time and waiting for what felt like forever (it was only a minute) until finally it swung open, revealing a very wet, topless, and angry neighbour.
“What?” the guy got out, clenching the small towel tighter around his waist.
Lance was momentarily struck dumb, not even bothering to stop his eyes from roaming all over the guy's body. It was even better naked, and glistening with water. Also the guy's hair was pulled back into a small ponytail, which should not have been as hot as it was.
“Uh,” 'Oh my god, are you ever going to speak intelligently around this guy?' “Listen, I just wanted to apologise,” he finally got out, practically forcing his eyes to move back up to his neighbours seething ones. “For the hitting-on-you-incident, and the message on your door, too.”
“Oh, so that was you.”
"Yeah. And hey, now you can apologise to me for kicking my balls up into my body, huh? Seems only fair."
His neighbour watched him some more, chewing his bottom lip. Finally he says, "Sorry, I guess."
"Whoa, no need to go overboard, there. A guy can only handle so much groveling at a time."
A scoff. “Well then,” the guy said, not showing any sign to continue his sentence.
Lance coughed, not knowing what to do now. “Uh, so what's your name, by the way? I don't think I can keep thinking of you as 'mullethead' anymore.”
The guy's eyes squinted slightly, mouth pulled tight. “It's Keith.”
Lance blinked. 'Huh, didn't see that coming.' “Alright then, Keith,” he said, holding out his hand, “Truce?”
Keith stared down at his hand for so long Lance thought the guy had never shaken hands with someone before. And then finally he lifted up his own to clasp Lance's tightly, still wet from the shower.
“Okay.” Was all he said before slamming the door shut on Lance's face.
Lance blinked again. “Well, I think that went pretty well.”
Well, that hadn't gone as well as he thought. He left his apartment the next day for class only to see some writing on his own door now. He didn't even know what it said, taking a photo of it to show Pidge later. He thinks it might be Korean, but he wanted to be sure.
So basically the guy, Keith, still hated him. Unless what he wrote on Lance's door was some kind of love letter, Lance figured he still had some sucking up to do.
Or maybe, Keith should suck up to him now – after all, Lance had apologised first, even after Keith was the one to have kicked him in the balls. 'Yeah,' Lance decided. 'Fuck that guy.'
Of course Pidge had said wisely that it would only make matters worse, but Lance still stuck by his plan. And no matter how gorgeous Keith was it totally didn't justify him going around and treating people like shit.
He returned home that night around 6, eager to just kick back and make a mean pasta dish (of which he would probably eat straight out of the pot because he hated creating more dishes) and then when he got closer to his apartment he heard Keith blasting music again.
'Ugh, seriously?' He cursed inwardly, debating whether he should bang on Keith's door and ask him politely to keep it the fuck down. He thought better of it, until he heard a 'Nickelback' song and decided, 'Nope, not in this lifetime.' and turned around to slam his fist repeatedly against Keith's door, hard.
After a while Keith never appear at the door's threshold, so Lance resorted to yelling through the walls instead. “Keith, seriously dude, Nickelback? C'mon, could you turn it the hell down? At least play something better; Beyonce or Shakira – anything else!”
If Lance had been paying really close attention he might have thought the music grew louder. He let out a huff, rolling his eyes before turning to walk into his own apartment and praying he still had those earbuds his mum gave him when he'd first moved in.
“Seriously, I'm telling you, I think Keith was born onto this Earth specifically to make my life a living hell.”
“That sounds a touch dramatic,” Pidge responded while she finished wiping down a table in the cafe.
“No it's not; and when have you ever known me to be dramatic?”
Pidge levelled him with an unimpressed look. “Is this how it's always going to be now? Listening to you complain about your neighbour whom you very clearly have some kind of weird rival infatuation with.”
Lance sputtered out a reply, “Infatuation? Oh hell no, on that asshole? I mean, would I say no to him if he knocked on my door and asked me to fuck him then and there or else the world would implode? Probably not. But that's not the point, the point is – he's a fucking asshole, okay? If he hadn't been such a dick then this whole time we've been arguing could've been spent having Earth-shattering sex – from my part that is – but instead he decided to annoy the living daylights outta me and play outdated rock music from the 90s of all decades.”
Pidge's expression hadn't changed throughout Lance's entire spiel, and instead she turned around and walked over to the counter. Lance followed behind, not stopping even once in his ramble.
“And like, it's seriously not fair for someone to be so hot and such a dick at the same time – the guy is like something out of my wet dreams and then when he decides to open his stupid mouth all I wanna do is punch him.”
“Now, now, violence isn't the answer here,” Pidge tisk'd , “And can't you talk to your super about the noise situation?”
“Tried - turns out I'm the only apartment that can hear his music well enough to complain about it. Ugh,” Lance huffed before falling into a nearby chair, burying his face in his hands.
“Poor baby,” Pidge coo'd.
It had been two weeks since Lance had last interacted with Keith, and he was glad for it. It turned out Keith got up really early and was always home before Lance finished at work, so there was little chance of them running into each other. So besides the frequent noise of blasting music, Lance had been doing okay in terms of avoiding him. Until one day he came home to find a bunch of Keith's stuff littered across the hallway.
When Lance got closer he began to smell something foul, and realised it was coming from the pile of clothes and shoes that Keith had just thrown on the ground. 'What the fuck?' He got a closer look and saw it was all fishing gear, covered in bait and grime.
“Keith!” he bellowed, knowing full well the other man was in there. “Keith come get your shit from the hallway, it reeks, man!” Lance moved away, unlocking his own door and finding that the smell had wafted into his own apartment too.
“God dammit!” he marched back over to Keith's door, kicking at it hard this time until it was finally pulled open to reveal Keith.
“Can I help you?” He asked calmly.
Lance seethed, “Uh, yes. How about you get all of your bloody fishing junk out of the goddamn hallway and away from me.”
Keith shrugged, saying, “All you had to do was ask,” before he promptly bent down to gather everything up and walked back inside his apartment like nothing was wrong.
Lance closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing calmly.
One time Lance actually saw Keith in town; Lance was busying himself with buying some books for school, and he had glanced up at the same time he saw Keith walk out of a music store across the street.
Lance rolled his eyes when he saw him (and silently prayed he'd get struck by lightning) before he finished paying for his books and started heading to the supermarket to buy some food. He groaned internally when he saw Keith in there as well, looking just as hot as usual and still made Lance want to punch him.
“Hey Keith, made any children cry today?” He asked as he walked up to him.
Keith didn't even have to look up to know it was Lance. “Do you count?”
“Ha,” Lance got out, no real bite to it. Lance tried to stick to a smarter plan of just ignoring the other man altogether, that is until he saw Keith grab the last bag of his favourite (crispy) M&M's off the shelf.
Lance pointed an accusing finger at him, sputtering out a, “No way, no fucking way dickmullet. You just have to ruin everything, don't you?”
Keith smirked before walking past him to head to the checkout counter.
“It's okay Lance, just breathe and channel Beyonce,” Lance tried to motivate himself.
At some point Lance was pretty sure Keith had started playing even more Nickelback than usual just to spite him.
“Guy's, I'm getting blackout drunk tonight and you're both going to help me,” Lance stated when he approached his friends in the bar the next day.
He'd had almost another restless night's sleep last night, all from just thinking about how much he wanted to strangle Keith by his pretty, pretty neck.
“Let me guess: Keith?”
“You guessed right,” Lance turned to Hunk, “So congrats, you get to buy me my first drink.”
Hunk let out some protests before he was ushered away. Lance took a seat in the booth and let out a sigh he'd been keeping in all day.
“What's Keith done now?” Pidge asked.
“Oh, besides ruin my entire life? Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I only got an A- on my test today.”
Lance stared at her. “You know what? That actually does make me feel better, weird.”
Pidge smiled before she pulled out some books from her bag. Of course, Pidge was probably the only person to bring homework into a bar; most people brought some smokes or a lifetime of sorrow and regret, but not Pidge – even when she was drunk she could still recite every exact decimal of Pi.
Hunk came back with some drinks a few minutes later, handing Lance one with fruit and an umbrella in it. Lance gave him a sour look, to which Hunk shrugged, “Hey, you didn't say what drink,” and Lance would never admit how good it actually was (that's a lie, he admitted it precisely 2 hours later when he could barely stand up on his own two feet).
The night carried on as so, and Lance was gradually getting closer to his goal of becoming blissfully wasted. At some point he asked Hunk to play darts with him, but Hunk insisted that was a horrible idea, instead handing Lance some paper and a pencil to draw with like he was some kind of child to keep amused while the parents talked.
Then Hunk and Lance challenged Pidge to a drink off, ordering several rounds of shots Lance would later regret buying. Soon Lance was on his 8th, maybe 11th drink (who knew? Certainly not him) and at this stage was when Lance became really hyper and honest.
“Lance, did you or did you not eat my last pudding cup 2 years ago the day after Halloween?” Hunk prodded, face hovering near Lance's as he waited for an answer.
“No I did eat it and yes I didn't eat it,” Lance slurred back, causing Hunk to throw his hands into the air in defeat.
“Hey Lance, which do you like more: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or The Bachelor?” Pidge asked.
“Housewives - man I'd trade my life any day to be a housewife,” Lance sighed, sinking further into the booth.
“Okay, okay, I got one,” Hunk said, “Have you ever cried during sex?”
“Hunk-” Pidge started.
“Yeah, I have – I was super drunk and couldn't get my dick going so I thought I'd broken it and then the girl kicked me out of her dorm room when I wouldn't stop crying hysterically.”
“Oh my god,” Hunk got out through fits of laughter.
Later, when Lance smartly declared he'd had enough to drink and threw some money at Hunk for the drinks, he stumbled out of the bar and hailed a taxi, not trusting his sense of direction to walk home in the slightest. His math skills weren't too great either right now and he probably paid the driver more than he should have, then he stumbled up the stairs in his building and soon gave up halfway and crawled pathetically instead.
He got to his door and felt around for his keys, not feeling them. He jiggled his pockets around to see if he could hear them instead and they came up empty too. “Damn, must've fallen out on the stairs,” he grumbled, thinking. 'Well, I'm way too drunk to go and look for them, that's for sure... maybe, should I break the door down? No, wait, what would Pidge do in this situation?'
So he called her up, Pidge answering on the second ring. “Hey Lance, what's up?”
“I dropped my keys somewhere so I can't get into my apartment, do you think breaking the door down is a good idea?”
He heard Pidge murmur something to Hunk in the background. “Oh, yeah, absolutely Lance, break your door down, yes.”
“Cool, thanks Pidge,” he grinned, clearing not sensing her sarcasm and then hanging up. He cracked his neck, rolling his shoulders as he backed up against the opposite wall. And then he shot forward with everything he could muster. Nothing, no budge. So he tried again, failing one more time. 'Okay, third times the charm; that's how it works, right?'
He had an idea to get some rage going, thinking about things that made him angry. And so of course mullethead popped up in his thoughts as usual, so he channelled all of that hatred and sprang towards the door, hearing a loud crunching sound before the metal of it's hinges broke off and he was falling to the floor. Letting out a long suffering groan, he rolled around on the ground in pain and all the while clutching his shoulder.
He only had a brief moment to celebrate before a figure suddenly appeared in his line of sight.
“What the fuck?!”
Lance tried to get his vision to focus, and when it finally did he saw that the figure was Keith. His hair was a mess, wearing only his pyjama pants and his hands were currently balled into fists by his side.
“What're you doing in my apartment?” Lance coughed out, slowly pushing himself up off of the floor.
“Your apartment? You just broke down my door!” Keith seethed, arms flailing about in distress. “Seriously, what the fuck? Are you drunk?” Keith spat when he noticed Lance swaying as he stood up.
“Hmm,” Lance closed his eyes.
“I can't believe this,” Keith muttered, watching as Lance made his way over to Keith's fridge to start rummaging around. “What the hell are you doing?”
“M'hungry,” Lance sighed, grabbing a bottle of chocolate sauce and squeezing it directly into his mouth.
“Okay, that's it,” Keith snapped, “Get the hell out, now.”
“Can't,” Lance said, “No keys.”
“And apparently no brain either,” Keith gritted out.
“Well,” Lance said, closing the fridge door before brushing his hands off. “I guess I'll have to crash here then.”
“What?” Keith's eyes widened.
“I mean, you can't leave me out there in the hall all night like some kind of dog – what if a robber showed up and decided to steal my kidneys and then sell them on eBay or something? A Kidney Robber, Keith - that's definitely a thing, I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere... you wouldn't let him take me would you?”
“Yep,” came the clipped reply.
“Ouch,” Lance murmured, walking closer to Keith. He looked the other man up and down, still angry at how fast he got Lance's libido going. He couldn't help but let, “You're really gorgeous,” slip past his lips.
There was a flicker of something in Keith's eyes then, something Lance remembered seeing the first night they met. And then Keith backed away, face still scrunched up in anger as he went over to the door to lift it up and lean it against it's frame again. Lance heard the other man sigh, turning back around to level Lance with an exasperated look. “Fine, you're on the couch tonight; and by the time I wake up tomorrow you better be gone, you hear me?”
Lance saluted him, Keith rolling his eyes before walking back to his room. Lance moved over to the couch, marvelling at how much softer it was than his own bed.
He was asleep in minutes.
“Hey, hey. Lance, c'mon, get up.”
Lance grumbled something incomprehensible and rolled over, burying himself further into the couch to avoid the sharp jabs Keith was giving him to get him to wake up.
“Dickhead, you promised you'd be gone. Also, you owe me a new door.”
“Whaaa?” Lance got out, squinting over his shoulder and seeing Keith standing there with his arms crossed. “A new door?”
“Yes dammit,” Keith bit out, pointing over to where his door was still resting against the frame.
“Oh, right,” Lance took a deep breath, closing his eyes. “Sorry about that.”
“So, how do you plan to pay me back for the damages?”
“Can't you just claim it on your insurance?”
“I don't have any.”
“Well whose fault is that?” when Lance looked up at Keith again he immediately had to backtrack from the death glare he got, raising his hands in defence. “Kidding, kidding, I will pay you back, only... I don't have any money.”
Keith groaned. “How do you not have any money?”
“Hey,” Lance protested, sitting up straighter. “Any money I don't spend on rent I use to pay for community college and groceries, so... can I pay you back some other way?"
Keith thought about it. “Give me an example.”
“Well,” Lance scratched his head, “I could cook for you for a month?”
“I know how to cook.”
“Uh, how about... Oh! I could help you remove the stick from your ass?”
Keith's nostrils flared.
“Okay, fine, umm...” Lance racked his brain for something, anything, eventually coming up empty and shrugging in defeat.
Keith sighed. “Well, what about your job? Where do you work?”
“A cafe, but there isn't much there that you'd--”
Lance blinked. “Huh?”
“I like coffee.” Keith repeated. “How about you pay me back in coffee over the next few months.”
Lance thought it over for a bit. “Sure, I guess... what kind of coffee do you like?”
“Long black with an extra shot.”
'Easy enough'. “Okay then, deal.” He held his hand out for a shake to which Keith accepted.
“So, now that that's settled - get out.” Keith said.
Lance had bumped into Keith again that night, and so Lance told him he had a shift tomorrow morning starting from 8, so Keith was welcome to stop by and get a coffee any time after that. Keith nodded before going back inside his apartment and Lance thought it was an improvement compared to their past interactions.
The next day Lance realised he'd have to explain to Hunk sooner rather than later why he was giving Keith free coffee all of a sudden. But before he walked over to Hunk his friend was already asking him how everything went last night.
“Oh, uh, fine,” Lance lied.
“You didn't actually break your door down, did you? That's what Pidge told me.”
“Well, no, I didn't break my door down,” Lance got out slowly, then he sighed loudly and explained the whole situation to a very amused Hunk.
“Jesus dude,” Hunk snickered. “Nothing's been going right for you lately, huh?”
“I'm just impressed I managed to knock a door off it's hinges while I was completely wasted,” Lance said as he put on his apron and started up the coffee grinder.
“Me too - high-five for that,” Hunk lifted up his palm and Lance slapped it with his own. “So, I finally get to meet this guy today, then? I've got to admit I'm rather excited,” Hunk grinned.
Lance scoffed, shaking his head as Hunk went over to unlock the doors.
It wasn't until around 10 that Keith finally stopped by, and Lance would totally deny that he was nervous for those first couple of hours before the other man arrived. He wasn't sure why exactly, maybe just at the thought of having a decent human conversation with Keith got him all fidgety. Hunk teased him constantly, though, claiming it was all because of Lance's lingering attraction to Keith.
Of course it was right then that Keith stepped inside the small shop, and Lance sharply stepped down on Hunk's foot to get him to shut up.
Lance watched Keith as the other man looked around, observing the place before he walked up to the counter with a small nod in Lance's direction.
“Hey,” Keith said, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“Hi,” Lance said, pointedly ignoring Hunk's obvious staring. “Uh, let me just get your coffee,” Lance busied himself, deciding to break the awkward silence after a while had passed. “Um, Keith, this is my friend Hunk, you're welcome to ask him for your coffee if I'm ever not here.”
“Hey there,” Hunk smiled at Keith.
“Nice to meet you,” Keith replied before turning his attention back to Lance. “How often do you work here?”
“4 to 5 times a week, depending,” Lance shrugged, placing the cap on Keith's coffee cup and handing it over to him.
“Thanks,” Keith took the beverage, his fingers brushing over Lance's lightly when he did.
Lance suppressed a shiver, watching as Keith added one sugar to it (Lance would remember that for next time) and then he looked back up at Lance, the beginning of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
'God, he really is beautiful.' Lance couldn't help but smile back, suddenly feeling nervous. Keith gave him one last nod before leaving, and Lance watched him go, practically feeling the impending teasing he was about to receive from Hunk.
“Don't even start,” Lance warned and Hunk tried to cover up his giggling with his hand.
A couple of days after Lance had broken down Keith's door he came home to find his neighbour had managed to get it fixed. Keith had told him in passing the exact cost of the damage so Lance could figure out how many coffee's he would owe him (about 50 cups. Jesus.)
The next few weeks were much of the same, and no matter how often Lance insisted on Keith dropping by the cafe any time he liked, Keith always said he was happier to go in only when Lance was working. Perhaps he didn't feel comfortable enough around Hunk yet, but either way, Lance didn't mind.
Each time Keith came by he got to meet someone else Lance was working with, including Pidge and their manager Coran (Pidge had got all up in Keith's face when they met and Keith had kept shooting Lance 'please help me' expressions, to which Lance pretended not to see) and Keith had started smiling more and more and dammit, Lance's heart wasn't ready for it.
Their chats became longer as the weeks went by, mostly small talk but Lance still looked forward for the days when Keith would stop by.
And then one day he just had to go and make it all awkward again.
It had been a particularly chilly day, and so the cafe was more busy than usual, with people rushing in from the streets to bask in the warmth of the store. Lance had been stuck on the coffee machine for 4 hours straight, and he was starting to feel a bit snappish after another customer had come over to complain about something completely out of Lance's control.
He was just about to ask Hunk to switch with him when he noticed Keith walk in. He had on a long, dark jacket and a fluffy scarf wrapped loosely around his neck and his cheeks were tinted pink from the cold air. When he'd spotted Lance across the crowd Keith gave him a small wave, smiling softly.
Lance reminded himself to breathe, trying (and failing) to push down his mantra of thoughts consisting of 'Oh man so cute he's too cute it's not fair oh my god'.
“Hey, sure is busy,” Keith commented once he got closer to the counter.
“Yeah, cold nights are the worst,” Lance tried to whisper since he didn't want Coran hearing him complain about business being busy.
“I can come back later, if you want--”
“No, no,” Lance said, “It's fine, really, just gimme a sec and I'll get your coffee.”
Keith got out a 'thanks' before Lance turned away to prepare his drink. Lance glanced back over to Keith several times, admiring how gorgeous he looked with his wind-tousled hair, how Keith did this cute shuffling thing when he was around a few too many people. He finished preparing the drink and walked back over to Keith, sugar and all.
“Here you go,” Lance grinned.
“Thanks again,” Keith made an appreciative sound when he took the first sip, something Lance added to his folder of 'things Keith does that he loves' (Lance didn't know how it had come to that).
Lance was so distracted with looking at Keith he didn't even hear himself when he replied, “No worries, I'll see you back at home, yeah?”
And then he blinked.
And then Keith stared at him.
Lance felt himself become flustered, brain panicking as he tried to correct himself. “I mean, not our home, like, I meant home as in our apartment building, I'll see you there tonight, probably, in our building as we both go into our own separate apartment's,” he choked out.
Keith continued to stare for so long Lance started to sweat a little. And then Keith said a quick 'ok, goodbye' before practically running out of the store.
Lance groaned into his hands.
“Oh man, I fucked up, I really fucked up,” Lance cried into his beer.
“Calm down, it's not like you told him you loved him,” Pidge reasoned. “Or wait, did you?”
“Ha ha,” Lance shot back. “We were just starting to get along, finally, and then I had to go and get all mushy and affectionate around him, which - from what I've previously learnt - he doesn't like.”
“Still, he knows it was a misunderstanding, I'm sure everything is fine and you're just being dramatic again.”
“I agree,” Hunk piped up.
“But what if I fuck up again? What if holds a door open for me and I just randomly ask him to marry me? It could happen! He's just so, so pretty you guys; it's really the worst thing that's ever happened to me.”
“If I had a dollar for every time you've said that,” Pidge snorted.
Luckily Keith had not taken Lance's slip-up to heart and he was there the next morning for his usual coffee. Lance let out a deep sigh of relief, letting himself smile that usual smile he always did whenever Keith was around.
It was funny to think that barely a month ago he could hardly stand the guy (okay he full on hated him) and yet now, seeing Keith walk into the cafe was one of his favourite parts of the day. How in the hell had it gotten to that?
“Hey,” Keith greeted first, that faint smile appearing and making Lance's heart skip a beat.
“Uhm, hi, hey,” Lance spurted out, trying to clear his throat discreetly when Keith glanced down for a second. “I'll uh, get you your usual.”
Keith busied himself by chatting to Hunk, something he had finally warmed up to in the past week. Lance took the chance to clear his mind and he let out a deep breath before turning back to Keith.
“Hey, listen,” Keith said, looking up to meet Lance's eyes. “I wanted to ask if you maybe would like to hang out at mine tonight?”
Lance's eyes widened for a second, repeating Keith's question in his head to make sure he'd heard it right. “Hang out at yours? Yeah, uh, yes, sounds good,” he kept his gaze on Keith, watching the other man's movements just out of habit.
“Cool,” Keith got out, “My place at seven. I'll cook.” A small smile, and then he was gone.
“Oooooo, someone's got a date~” Hunk sing-songed.
Lance pointedly ignored him, and also tried to ignore how his heart started beating faster at the prospect of going to Keith's house. He was going to be sitting in Keith's apartment, he was going to be in his home and hanging out with him, Keith was going to cook for him - what in the hell?
“Hunk, cover me, I need to go sit down for a bit,” Lance wept dramatically.
“Oh my god,” Hunk snorted.
Lance would deny and then take the truth to his grave before he would admit to checking the clock every 5 minutes as he waited for 7 o'clock to come around.
Keith hadn't told him to bring anything, but Lance picked up some beers on the way home from work anyway, in case things got a little awkward and Lance needed to get drunk in order to keep the conversation going.
But, he didn't think it would be that awkward, hoped it wouldn't be. They'd been getting along fine these past few weeks, so one night of chilling out at the others house wasn't going to kill them, was it?
Nah, he was being dramatic again. He tried to imagine Pidge being here and telling him to quit acting like such a baby.
So when 7 finally rolled around (Lance had almost cried out in tears of joy) he left his apartment and made the short 5 steps across the hall to Keith's door. He hesitated for a second, collecting his nerves and shaking around before he finally brought his fist up to knock gently.
Only a few moments passed and then Keith was there, smiling at him. When the door had opened Lance was immediately overwhelmed with all sorts of smells, and he couldn't help but let out an appreciative sound.
“Damn, that smells great.”
Keith's smile grew bigger. “Good, and it's an old family recipe,” he stepped aside slightly. “Come on in.”
Lance wasn't sure what he was expecting once he was finally inside Keith's apartment, but after how badly they'd started off he'd imagined it would look like the depths of hell and Keith was Satan himself while standing in the centre of it all. (And sure, he'd already been inside when he'd crashed Keith's door in, but he had been quite drunk, and then hungover, so he hadn't exactly taken in the sights while he was there the first time).
Turns out, Keith had a pretty minimalist taste. The place was decorated with expensive furniture, looking like something straight out of an IKEA catalogue. It was also impeccably clean, putting Lance's attempts of tidying to shame. The only difference was that there were a lot of band posters hanging up around the place, and Keith had dedicated a large portion of his lounge room to have a killer speaker system set up.
Lance heard some music being played in the background, a song he wasn't familiar with.
“You really like music, huh?” Lance turned to Keith then.
“Yeah,” Keith nodded, “I play actually.”
Lance blinked before grinning. “No way, for real?”
“Yeah,” Keith said again, walking over to the stove to stir whatever was in the pot that was currently stewing away.
“I feel like it should have been obvious, but still, that's actually really cool,” Lance followed him to the kitchen and sat himself down on a stool near the counter. “What instrument do you play?”
“Guitar,” Keith replied, angling his body around to smile at Lance.
Lance felt himself get hot again, and he started to wonder why they ever had that stupid rivalry in the first place. They talked for a while longer as Keith continued to prepare dinner, and Lance learnt about Keith's home-life back in Korea, when the other man told him all of his family were still over there; except his adopted brother Shiro who had moved overseas with him.
“Shiro and I started up a band back home,” Keith was telling him. “But the music that Shiro and I fell in love with wasn't all that popular over there, so when I'd finished my music course we both decided to make the move to live here a couple of years ago.” Lance watched as Keith added some more spices to the food, the smell of it wafting over him in a comforting way. “So we were both living together when we got here, but when our friend Allura joined the band as lead singer, she and Shiro started dating. So she moved in a few months ago and I thought it was best to give them some space, so that's how I came to live here,” he finished.
“Wow,” Lance raised his brows in slight amazement. “I don't think I could move that far away from my family; they're only just upstate and I still miss them heaps,” he laughed.
“I miss my family too,” Keith insisted. “But it was just something my brother and I had to do. We had both worked in our dad's renovation business up until we left, so I had saved up a decent amount, enough to move here and not have to worry about money for a while.”
“Hm, lucky,” Lance murmured. “I feel like I'll be paying these course debts for ages, not that they're too expensive, but when I have to think about rent and groceries first it'll be a while until I can pay them all off.”
“I teach music classes for beginners in a theatre hall close by, and it pays the bills - otherwise I'm just around town playing in bars and venues with the band.”
Lance thought to himself for a bit before he said, “I'd really like to see you play one day.”
Keith stopped, mumbling out a small, “Yeah,” as he smiled to the ground.
When dinner was ready Lance almost moaned embarrassingly loud it was so good. Keith had laughed and thanked him, and throughout dinner they continued asking questions about each other, and Lance came to find himself relaxing more and more until suddenly he forgot all about their past, petty quarrels. He couldn't stop being stunned at how well they got along - it almost frightened him, in fact.
When they had both finished Lance insisted on cleaning up, not that there were many dishes to wash, really. Keith asked if they could break out the beers Lance had brought over, Lance nodding as they both went out to sit on Keith's balcony.
It was slightly chilly tonight, but the alcohol soon left a pleasant buzz in their bodies, and after a bit Lance was breaking out all of his lame jokes, eager to just hear Keith's laugh again - even if that meant Keith laughing at him because he thought Lance was an idiot, Lance didn't care, joining in a laughing right along with him.
They soon both grew silent, calming down from their highs and relaxing back into the chairs as they looked out at the city skyline. Lance felt pretty content, right then, briefly wishing that the night wouldn't end.
“Hey, Lance?” Keith whispered somewhere on his left.
“Mmm?” Lance replied.
“I... I want to apologise--rightfully, this time,” Keith admitted.
Lance turned to look at him then, brow raised in question. “Why, did you poison the food and now I only have twelve hours left to live?”
Keith rolled his eyes, smiling sadly at him. “No, about how I treated you when we first met.”
Lance made a small 'ah' sound in acknowledgement. “Aha, yeah, that,” he snorted.
“I dated someone with a similar personality to you in the past,” Keith explained, Lance's eyebrows raising again in minor shock as he turned to give Keith his full attention. “It was a messy break-up, he... he wasn't very faithful, in the end, and it really hit me hard, y'know?” Keith said, eyes focused on the ground. “So when I first met you all of those memories came flooding back, and I made a snap judgement and I treated you badly before I even knew you, and you didn't deserve that. I was a jerk,” Keith finally looked up at Lance, eyes sincere as he continued, “And I'm sorry for that. You're not like him, not at all, and... I just hope you can forgive me,” he finished quietly.
Lance was silent for a moment, staring right at Keith as he soaked all of this information in. Finally, after a while, all he could think of to say was, “So - Nickelback, huh?”
Keith's eyes twitched, reaching over to punch Lance lightly. “Hey, they're really not that bad okay.”
“Whatever you say man,” Lance snickered, reaching up to clasp his hand around Keith's fist.
“Also, I just spewed my heart out to you and all you have to talk about is my music taste? C'mon, I kicked you in the fucking balls.”
“Oh trust me, I remember,” Lance grimaced.
Another moment passed and Lance was suddenly aware he was still holding on to Keith's hand. Keith stared back at him, the lights of the city making his dark eyes shimmer. Lance felt time stall, his entire being focusing on the other man in front of him. He felt like he should say something, so he murmured out, “I forgive you.”
He watched as Keith visibly relaxed, a grateful smile encompassing his face.
Lance cleared his throat, removing his hand from Keith's and rubbing his nose out of shyness. “Hey, do you think you could... play a little something for me? With your guitar, I mean.”
Keith's looked slightly taken aback, watching Lance as he shuffled around a bit. “I – yeah, I can play you something,” and when Lance grinned at him Keith got up to go and get his guitar, adjusting the cords when he reappeared a minute later.
“What do you want to hear?” Keith asked.
Lance cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Play Wonderwall!”
Keith shot him an unimpressed look before snorting.
“Okay, okay,” Lance chuckled. “How about... uh...” he rubbed his head in thought, “I'm coming up empty – why don't you pick something for me?”
Keith nodded, looking down at the strings and positioning his hand over them. He was quiet for a moment, eyes closed in concentration, and Lance watched, transfixed, so eager to finally hear Keith sing.
And then Keith started strumming, the words falling gracefully from his lips in a hushed tone.
“I know it breaks your heart,
Moved to the city in a broke down car,
And four years, no calls,
Now you're looking pretty in a hotel bar,
And I can't stop,
No, I can't stop,”
Lance didn't recognise the lyrics right away, since Keith had changed the pace of the notes to a more slow, intimate rhythm. His singing voice was a lot deeper than his talking one, and Lance couldn't take his gaze away even if his life depended on it. The sounds of the chords as Keith played were amazing, and Lance sat completely still, listening, breathing, closing his eyes until the very last chord was played and Keith looked back up at him shyly.
Lance's breath hitched, his heartbeat thrumming loud in his ears as Keith smiled over at him.
“Did... you like it?” Keith asked, his hand gripping the guitar tighter.
Lance could only nod, still reeling from how much he already loved Keith's voice, completely convinced it was the only sound he wanted to hear for the rest of his life.
Later, when they had finished off the beers Lance had brought and noticed how late it had gotten, Keith walked Lance over to his door and Lance turned to thank him again for dinner.
“No worries,” Keith said, arms crossed as he leaned against the door frame.
“So I guess I'll see you tomorrow for your coffee?” Lance grinned.
“Always,” Keith smiled back, his gaze on Lance never wavering.
Lance swallowed, his palms suddenly a bit sweaty. He nodded once, pulling out his keys and turning away to walk over to his own door. He got it open after a few shaky attempts, and before he stepped inside he looked back over to Keith again, heart racing.
“Goodnight,” he said.
“Goodnight, Lance,” Keith murmured, finally retreating into his apartment, his door closing with a soft 'click'.
Lance did the same, closing his door behind him and then all he was greeted with in his apartment was silence. He closed his eyes, recalling the memory of Keith singing to him. And just like a cliché straight out of a movie he rested his back to the door and let his head fall back with a quiet 'thud'.
When Lance finished class the next day he received a text from Hunk saying they were at the bar. Lance texted back 'be there in 10' before gathering up his things and practically running out of his class.
When he arrived at the bar he marched straight over to where Hunk and Pidge were sitting, stealing Hunk's drink and downing it in one go. He slammed the glass back on the table, the both of his friends shooting him a curious look.
“It's Keith,” Lance started as he pulled up a chair for himself to sit on.
“Oh my god,” Pidge mumbled.
“How'd the date go last night?” Hunk asked, looking down sadly at his now empty glass.
“No, not date,” Lance corrected him, “And it was amazing. I'm seriously falling hard you guys, this is not good - code red, I repeat: Code. Red.”
“Please stop,” Pidge muttered.
“Why is this a bad thing? He seems to like you now, so why not tell him?” Hunk shrugged, as if it was the most casual thing to say to Lance.
Lance turned on him. “Because, I finally learnt the reason why he was such a dick to me in the first place; it's because I reminded him of an ex,” Lance groaned while rubbing his eyes. “So the chances of him wanting to date me are pretty low, and honestly, I kind of see where he's coming from.”
“But,” Hunk started, “It's not uncommon for people to date someone similar to a past partner, it's just a familiarity thing, I guess.”
“Sure,” Pidge piped up, “But really think about what it is you want, Lance, and just... don't hurt yourself, okay?”
“I already know what I want,” Lance mumbled into his hand, “We just got along so well, and he's actually really funny, and also, also you guys, he plays guitar. He fuckin' sang me a song last night and his voice is like pure sex - he woo'd me right off my feet, I'm telling you.”
“Whoa, he sang to you?” Hunk blinked, “Dude.”
Lance looked up at him, a pained look on his face. “I know.”
Pidge ordered them another round of some much needed drinks.
The next few weeks were simultaneously the best and worst weeks of Lance's life so far. Keith continued coming into the cafe and getting his coffee and Hunk would be an ass and suggest that Lance write his number and a winky face on Keith's cup as a way to woo him. Lance just shook his head, mumbling that Hunk was an idiot.
Lance had also started spending more time over at Keith's apartment. He was suddenly reminded of that thing he said to Hunk and Pidge about it being like on 'Friends', and it was honestly starting to feel that way. Also because he really felt like he could call this thing he had with Keith a kind of friendship.
Some nights Lance purposefully went over there hungry so Keith would cook for him, and Lance was really starting to enjoy Korean cuisine now. Usually Lance was a huge carb eater, having grown up with his mum baking a lot of meals involving bread and pasta; so all of these light and healthy dishes were probably what he needed to actually start eating now at his age. No more two minute food meals for him.
After a while Lance had brought over his Playstation to play some games with Keith when the other man had told him he had never played a game in his life.
(“What?” Lance had exclaimed, eyes wide. “You mean you've never experienced the joy of pointless car racing games? Or Spyro? Not even one where you just blow stuff up?”
When Keith had repeatedly shook his head 'no' Lance knew he had to rectify the situation here and now, coming back a few minutes later with every game he owned.
“Lance, do you really expect us to get through all of these games?”
“Ha! Strap yourself in my friend – class is now in session.”)
So things continued on pretty normally; the usual coffee in the morning, sometimes passing each other in the hall and then spending the evenings at Keith's house. Lance wasn't sure why they only hung out there, but he wasn't really complaining since Keith's apartment was awesome and his was basically a dump.
Once they started to learn more and more about each other, Lance was once again struck by how well they got along despite being almost complete opposites. (“Opposites do attract, right Lance?” Pidge had teased him one day when she had caught Lance crying into a salad dish Keith had made him.) Keith had started playing music he knew Lance liked, and Lance would sometimes bring over a new game he thought Keith might enjoy (after Keith had soon discovered how much he really liked playing the Playstation and Lance had exclaimed “I told you so,” with a nod of approval).
So when another month had flown by Lance was pretty shocked, hardly believing how far they had both come since they had first met a almost five months ago.
And yeah, so Lance had now pretty much come to terms with his stupidly strong feelings for Keith. And most often it was fine, hanging out with Keith made him happy and he felt lucky enough to just be in the other man's company. But then some days it did hurt, knowing that nothing could ever really happen between them. He thought about it a lot, though, but then a sad feeling would tug at his heartstrings - because if it somehow didn't work out then Keith might move away out of sheer awkwardness or stop hanging out with him as much and Lance just didn't think he could handle that.
So he very forcefully pushed down his feelings, knowing full well it wasn't a healthy thing to do but not really seeing another option to go with here.
Yeah, so. He was kind of, maybe, sort of in love with Keith. It was ridiculous, if you asked him. He could deal with this, though, even when Keith's smile literally made his soul ascend to heaven every time he saw it.
He could totally deal with this.
“Ugh, it's too early for this,” Lance muttered out a third time since he got into work that morning.
Coran had introduced three new coffee flavours to their already overflowing menu. He said they were all exclusively for the Autumn season, and Lance was trying to get his head around all of these new flavours he had to add and shit he had to sprinkle on top. It was all so pretentious he wanted to punch himself when he once again heard a woman place an order for one coffee that's name was 10 words too long.
Keith walked in then, and it immediately perked up Lance's mood.
“Oh, thank god,” Lance breathed when Keith came over to greet him.
Keith grinned. “Missed me that much?”
“Ha,” Lance snorted, “You wish. No, I'm just glad I get to make a normal coffee that isn't decorated like a fucking Christmas tree – coffee should be simple, a shot of espresso and some milk is what I always say.”
“You've literally never said that,” Keith snorted. “But hey... I actually wouldn't mind trying one of these new coffees,” he mused.
Lance shot him a dirty look. “No. No Keith, friends do not do this to each other. Get out of my cafe, now.” Lance said as he tried to shoo Keith away.
Keith just laughed at him and try as he might Lance couldn't help but smile back. He whipped up a different coffee for Keith, something with pumpkin and cinnamon and probably fairy dust - he didn't fucking know - then handed it over to him and exclaiming, “Here, an order for one Princess Kogane, ready to go.”
Keith rolled his eyes, perking up once he took a sip. “Nice,” he murmured. He looked back up at Lance and smiled, saying, “I'll see you at home, yeah?”
Lance had to excuse himself to go over to help Hunk when the line started getting bigger, but not before subconsciously throwing a, “No worries, see you tonight,” in Keith's direction.
It wasn't until later that the conversation had finally sunk in and he realised what Keith had actually said to him. Perhaps he had just been teasing, a play on when Lance had said that to him ages ago by mistake. Either way, it didn't fail to get a smile on his face and his heart beating faster.
So, maybe he couldn't deal with this as well as he first thought.
When he had finally finished his shift at work he scribbled his hours in his staff booklet so fast and practically ran home, just eager to hang out with Keith and play some video games with him (they were currently halfway through Kingdom Hearts and Keith was loving it.)
He skipped every second step as he went up the stairs, a stupid grin already spreading over his face as he got closer to his floor. He reached his door, finally, opening it just to carelessly throw his bag inside and then turned around to knock on Keith's door enthusiastically.
Only when the door opened he was greeted by someone who very obviously was not Keith.
“Oh, uh,” Lance blinked as he stared at the guy, not knowing if he should introduce himself.
The guy smiled at him, his arm opening the door a bit wider. “Hey, you must be Lance, right?”
'What the? How does he know my name? Oh, oh god, does Keith have a boyfriend? No, he would have told me... maybe this guy's a booty call - it's possible, he's really attractive, fuck. God this is a nightmare, jesus Lance just say something, the guy asked you a question!'
“Yep, yeah, I'm Lance, that - that's me,” he stammered out.
The guy held out a prosthetic arm in greeting. “I'm Shiro, Keith's older brother.”
Oh. Oh. “Oh yeah, right, of course, nice to meet you,” Lance shook his hand, his entire body relaxing now that he knew there was no real threat. 'Damn Lance, marking your territory much?'
Just then Keith appeared in sight, smiling at Lance and then gesturing to his brother. “I see you two have met then.”
“Yeah,” Shiro nodded with a slight smirk, “Keith has told me a lot about you Lance, I feel like I already know you pretty well.”
Lance saw Keith subtly pinch Shiro's forearm at his brother's choice of words, and Lance couldn't help but grin over at him.
“Aww, you talk about me to your family? Well I am just so, so touched,” he gushed as he fanned himself with his hand.
“Yeah, talking about how much you bug me by constantly being here,” Keith retorted.
Lance only briefly thought Keith was being serious until he noticed Shiro laughing quietly. “God, you two; you either act like an old married couple or like two little kids pulling each others hair on the playground.”
“We do not,” Keith punched his brother's arm.
“Anyway,” Shiro coughed, “I need to get going, but hey, Lance – why don't you swing by the bar over on Prince St tomorrow, Keith and I are playing at eight, you should come hear us,” he smiled.
Lance's eyes widened a fraction, looking over at Keith to see if it was alright with him.
Keith's eyes were equally wide, before he composed himself and shrugged out a, “Yeah, whatever.”
“That's the spirit,” Shiro chuckled, waving goodbye to Lance and disappearing at the end of the hallway.
“So I really get to see you play?” Lance asked when he walked into Keith's apartment.
Keith shuffled about, almost nervously. “Sure, I mean, we're not amazing or anything, so don't... don't get your hopes up or whatever.”
“You know I love hearing you play Keith,” Lance said a lot quieter than he meant to, smiling softly at him.
Keith smiled back, rubbing his neck shyly before declaring he was going to kick his ass in the Tony Hawk game they started playing the other day.
Lance just laughed.
When Keith stopped by the next day for his coffee, Lance asked him if he could bring along his friends to Keith's gig that night. Keith nodded, saying they should swing by earlier so they could all get a drink together before the band would go on.
After Keith left the shop Lance was becoming more and more excited at the prospect of finally seeing Keith play live. He was a little disappointed that Keith wouldn't be the one singing, but he was sure his friend Allura was good, too.
Lance finished up at 4 that day so he had some time to kill before they all went to the bar. Lance accepted Hunk's offer to go and hang at his place, and they both walked in to find Pidge hiding under a pillow fort that was set up in the living room.
“What the?” Lance laughed when Pidge popped her head out from under it, another small face appearing as well. “Hey Suzy,” Lance grinned, the small child running over to him in greeting. Lance scooped her up and kissed her little face all over as she giggled loudly in his arms.
“Unca Lan!" She got out as she slapped her pudgy hands against his cheeks (Lance had been trying to teach her to say his name over the past couple of months, and she was slowly getting there).
“My brother needed a sitter, so I won't be able to make it tonight Lance, I'm sorry,” Pidge explained as she crawled out from the fort.
“That's alright Pidge, Hunk and I will make due.”
“Yeah, the less people there to make fun of his crush on Keith the better,” Hunk snickered.
Lance shot him a death glare before he placed Suzy back on the ground, watching as she went back into the fort and squealed out happily.
“So how's the irrevocable crush on Keith coming along?”
“Not too bad,” Lance mused, going over to the fridge to steal a can of soda.
“This is about the time in a movie when the two star-crossed lovers are about to confess their love but then something bad happens again before they can finally be together,” Pidge smiled. “So hey, here's hoping tonight goes well,” she wagged her eyebrows at him.
“You're ridiculous,” Lance muttered.
When 7pm rolled around Lance and Hunk said their goodbyes to Pidge and Suzy before making their way over to the bar. Lance was mentally counting all of the money he had in his wallet then and found he could buy at least two drinks tonight. Man, was he broke or what (he thanked the heavens for all of the free meals Keith had cooked for him over the past couple of months).
“So,” Hunk spoke up after a bit of silence. “You're really never going to tell Keith how you feel?”
“I don't know,” Lance sighed, kicking at a small stone he saw on the footpath. “How often do crushes on friends actually work out? I feel like movies have given us a completely wrong view on how romance works.”
“Ha, maybe,” Hunk looked over at him, a sad smile on his face. “It's new for me to see you hurtin' like this, I wish I could help somehow...”
“Well it's new for me too, I suppose,” Lance put on his best smile, trying to be convincing. He didn't think Hunk bought it.
They saw the bar up ahead, stepping inside and being greeted with hustle and bustle everywhere.
“Damn, I guess Keith's band is pretty popular, this place is packed,” Lance whistled in amazement.
“Just think, when you guys finally get together you can be like, his groupie,” Hunk's eyes widened as he grinned.
“Ugh, stop that,” Lance grimaced, noticing Keith and Shiro across the bar and waving to them. They walked over, Keith meeting him halfway and smiling that stupid, perfect smile of his.
“Hey guys,” Keith said, “We're all over here, wanna come meet the rest of the band?”
Lance and Hunk followed Keith over to the table they had reserved for them, meeting Allura (Lance had no problem admitting how stunning she was) and Rolo, their sound guy. Lance nodded in greeting, stepping back slightly when Rolo stood up to look at him.
“So,” Rolo drawled, arms crossed over his chest. “You're the infamous Lance, huh?”
It must have been the way the guy said it, because instantly Lance didn't get a good vibe from him, letting out a slow, “Yeah, I'm him,” in reply. Rolo looked him up and down quickly before he scoffed quietly, only loud enough for Lance to hear.
Lance frowned, suddenly really not liking this guy. Lance made a point to sit between Hunk and Keith, not really interested in talking to Rolo anymore as the group started chatting amongst themselves.
Lance began to enjoy himself, finally, leaning up against Keith as they talked closely to hear each other over the noise of the bar. Lance couldn't help but notice Rolo shoot him looks every now and then, and Lance relaxed when the guy was called over to check the sound desk before the band was about to go on. He wished Keith good luck, the other man smiling back at him.
“I asked the others of we could play a different song tonight, it's one I know you love, so listen out for it,” Keith murmured in Lance's ear before heading off backstage.
Lance tried to suppress the shiver that slowly crawled down his body from Keith's breath in his ear. He felt his face heat up slightly, and he tried (and failed) to convince Hunk it was just because of the alcohol.
He watched as Shiro took his place behind the drums while Keith set up his guitar speaker near the front. Allura was gorgeous, of course, and Lance soon learnt why she was the lead singer. Her voice was deep and sultry, and apparently already had a fan following as Lance noticed a large group of people had gathered at the front of the stage and were recording her sing.
But of course, Lance couldn't take his eyes off Keith, smiling so big his face started to hurt. After a couple of sets passed by, they finally reached (what Keith must have been talking about) a song that Lance instantly recognised. And Lance's heart sped up when Keith was also given a microphone, his eyes focusing directly on Lance as he sang along with Allura.
“And I'd give up forever to touch you,
'Cause I know that you feel me somehow,
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be,
And I don't want to go home right now,”
Lance tried his best to swallow without too much notice, his body suddenly hot and the hairs on his arms sticking up. His line of sight became Keith and Keith only as the man continued singing, and Lance had to physically remind himself to breathe.
When the song finished the audience erupted into applause, and Allura said the band would be taking a quick break before they'd play their final set for the night. Lance watched Keith set his guitar down and being stopped on his way over by some fans wanting an autograph. Lance laughed, suddenly feeling like he was a groupie.
Keith finished off his last signing and came over to Lance, expression hopeful and eyes so, so sincere. “How was it? Did you like the song?”
Hunk had to practically smack Lance to get his words out, “Y-yeah, it was really good, Allura can really sing,” Lance choked slightly, “And... and you were really good too,” he murmured.
Keith full on beamed then, and Lance nearly died at the sight.
Soon their break was over and the band made their way back on stage. The last set was undoubtedly their best, although Lance would argue the set with his favourite song was the better one. Allura thanked their fans for coming out, and Lance told Hunk he was going to get some more drinks before the large crowd made their way over to the bar.
Lance finished paying, getting a drink for Keith as well, figuring the other man would want one after so much time on stage.
He walked back over to their table, only seeing Shiro and Allura there when he arrived. “Hey, where'd Keith go?”
“Hmm,” Allura moved about trying to spot him. “I think he went backstage? Rolo wanted him for something, I think.”
Lance couldn't help but feel a bit cold at that, his dislike of Rolo suddenly hitting him again. “Alright, well I might go and get him, then,” and so he made his way backstage in search of Keith, not really knowing where to go, exactly.
It was only when he turned another corner that the sight before him made him stop in his tracks. He saw Keith up ahead, back against the wall with Rolo having both his arms on either side of him, smirking. Lance could only watch for another moment as he saw Rolo move in closer to Keith, and so he forced his legs into motion and pretty soon he found his way back to the bar again and was now searching for Hunk.
“Hunk, Hunk,” Lance called him over, the other man bounding over to him with a curious expression. “I'm leaving, I don't feel too good,” 'And it's not a lie.'
Hunk's brows raised, concern sweeping over him. “You're sure? Can I help somehow?”
The image of Keith and Rolo appeared again in his mind and he had to stop the bile threatening to rise in his throat. “Yeah, no, it's fine, just tell the others I went home, okay?” He forced one last smile before he turned to leave.
'Oh god, I'm so fucking stupid, fuck. Keith is never going to be with me, just fucking accept it, man. Forget him, move on, you'll only just keep hurting yourself.'
It was another cold night, but still busy since it was the weekend. He was dodging people left and right as they drunkenly walked down the street, groups and couples, and it made Lance even more sick to his stomach. He was coming up to his building soon, but before he reached it he saw another bar along the way, deciding, 'Fuck it, I'm going to screw a stranger tonight and forget Keith, I'm going to forget about him completely and I will move the fuck on.'
He stepped inside the bar and searched around for the prettiest guy he could find.
The sound of his alarm the next morning was like a swift kick to the head. His brain hurt terribly, and why the hell did the sun have to be so fucking bright, goddamn?
He reached out to try and stop the music from blasting his ears off more, and knocked a few things over before he found his phone and unlocked it. He saw he had a text from Hunk saying he hoped he felt better, and Lance checked the time to see he started work in less then an hour. He sighed, 'Working weekends is the worst'.
And then he almost jumped out of his skin when a body moved about next to him. Lance let out a 'arh' sound before willing his heart to calm down, remembering that he had, in fact, brought someone home with him last night.
The guy was still asleep, and Lance suddenly felt really awkward, already wanting the guy out of his apartment. But he got up gingerly anyway and padded over to his bathroom to have a quick shower. Luckily, when he stepped out a while later and was now dressed, he walked back to his room to find his midnight caller was also awake and just finished pulling his t-shirt back on.
“Uh, hey,” Lance mumbled, not really knowing what to say.
The guy looked up at him, smiling. “Morning.”
'Ugh, morning people are the worst.' “Yeah, uh, listen, I have to get to work soon, so do you mind if you...” he trailed off, hoping the guy would get the message.
He did, but it still didn't stop the guy from asking, “What was your name? I would love to be able to see you again.”
Lance pursed his lips, unsure if he should answer. “Lance,” he finally got out, “And I'm sorry, I'm not really looking to, well...”
“Ah,” the guy nodded, “You're not with that Keith guy are you? I didn't break anything up did I?”
Lance blinked at him. 'How in the hell?' “How do you know Keith?” he asked, heart beating fast.
“Oh, I don't, but you kept saying his name last night in bed, so I just assumed...” the guy trailed off at seeing Lance's shocked expression.
'Oh, no way. No fucking way I did that. That's crazy... it's... fuck. Fuck, oh god,' Lance tried to breathe evenly, coughing before he said, “O-okay, I'm sorry, but I need some space, so I'll – I'll show you out.”
Lance walked out of his room, the other man following behind until Lance reached the front door and held it open.
The guy didn't leave straight away, which was keeping Lance on edge, instead he turned and said to him, “I hope you two can work things out, I really do.”
Lance groaned. “There's nothing to--”
And like something right out of Lance's worst nightmare, he watched, practically in slow motion, as Keith came out of his own apartment and froze on the spot when he saw them, his eyes darting between Lance and the stranger still standing there.
Lance cursed inwardly, wishing a black hole would just appear and swallow him up completely.
Keith didn't say anything for so long, his face a mixture of hurt and anger and something else. But before Lance could read more into it, Keith gave him a sharp nod and continued on his way.
Lance watched him go, heart stuck in his throat and a sinking feeling blooming in his gut.
“Was that him?” the stranger asked, and dammit, why hasn't this guy left yet?
But Lance couldn't even bring himself to snap at him, instead all he could do was nod once, letting out a breath he'd been holding in before burying his head in his hands.
Keith didn't come into the cafe that day, and Lance's sinking feeling only grew worse.
He was mad at himself, at how stupid he had acted, hating himself for not being able to just accept that Keith wasn't interested in him and to just move on like a normal person.
When he got home that afternoon he tried knocking on Keith's door to see if he was there. No music could be heard, Keith never came to the door and so Lance barely slept a wink that night.
For the rest of the week Keith didn't come into the cafe either, and Lance had begun to worry. Sure, he'd gone a couple of days without seeing Keith before, but during this past month they had been seeing each other at least once a day, minimum.
He never heard any music playing from Keith's apartment anymore. It was as if he had packed up all of his things and left just like that. It was like going back to the start, before anyone lived across the hall from him, before he had met Keith, before he had gotten to know this amazing man he has fallen so hopelessly in love with.
Lance stood on his balcony one night, and for the first time in what felt like years, he silently let the tears fall.
When the week came to an end and Lance still hadn't seen or heard from Keith, he decided that enough was enough, and he left his apartment to go out and find him.
He wasn't really sure how he would go about tracking him down, but he decided to swing by Keith's work and ask the other workers there if they knew where he was.
“Sorry man,” a guy he had asked replied with a shrug. “He was here today, but didn't say anything out of the ordinary. Try his brother, he's upstairs teaching a class,” the guy pointed him in the right direction and Lance thanked him quickly before running off.
He walked past a room full of students all sitting behind their drum kits, and then he saw Shiro standing up the front. Lance gave him a small wave, trying to get his attention, and Shiro noticed him then, eyes widening slightly before he excused himself and walked over to Lance.
“Lance, hey, what's up?” Shiro asked, although his eyes were sad.
“It's Keith,” Lance tried to figure out how to word his growing worry, “I'm sure you know I... I haven't seen him around at home, or at all this week, is he... is he okay?”
Shiro assessed him for a moment, his expression becoming softer. “He's okay, he's been staying with me,” Shiro finally said, and Lance visibly relaxed at hearing Keith was fine.
“Good, that's – that's good,” Lance nodded, not really knowing what else to say. So he finished with, “Is he going to come home soon, or...”
Shiro looked to the ground for a moment, and Lance barely heard him mutter 'dammit Keith' before he looked back up at Lance. “He told me not to tell you, but, it's for his own damn good,” Shiro pulled out a pen and grabbed Lance's arm, then proceeded to scribble an address on him.
Lance looked down at it then back up at Shiro.
“It's my address,” Shiro explained. “Go get him. Take him home.” He smiled encouragingly.
Lance stared, until finally he nodded with determination and took off running again, his feet not stopping even once until he reached Shiro's building. He bounded up the stairs, searching around for a bit until he saw '203' on a door and marched straight over to it.
He paused, collecting his nerves one last time before he knocked.
There was a pause, then some shuffling on the other side, and then just like that the door swung open to reveal Keith.
Lance was both inexplicably happy and sad when he finally saw him. Keith looked just as bad as Lance felt, like he hadn't slept in days. His mouth was pulled tight, hair slightly messy, and when Keith realised it was Lance at the door he stopped short, staring. It grew quiet, quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
Lance cleared his throat slightly before he got out a weak, “Hi.”
Keith still stared, not quite believing he was here. Finally he found his voice, mumbling out a, “Hey.”
“Can I..." Lance's voice cracked, “Can I come in?”
Keith didn't say anything, nodding as he stepped aside. Lance walked in, almost laughing at how different Shiro's apartment was compared to Keith's. He heard Keith close the door, and so Lance figured now was a good a time as any.
“Why haven't you been home?”
Keith looked up at him, face scrunching up a bit in anger. “It doesn't matter,” he got out.
Lance really did laugh then, a half-sob, half-bark escaping his lips. “Yes, yes it does Keith - especially when it gets to the point of me trying to track you down to make sure you're not dead.”
“Why do you care?” Keith bit back.
“Why wouldn't I?” Lance replied, voice raising. “We're friends aren't we? Or did I just imagine the past few months up all by myself?”
“No, we... we are fiends,” Keith mumbled, avoiding Lance's gaze now. “I just wanted to get away for a bit, and... I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I know it wasn't right of me to do that to you.”
“So why did you do it?” Lance asked.
“I-It's... Lance, I--” Keith shook his head. “It's dumb, don't worry about it.”
Lance frowned, stepping closer to Keith, feeling hurt when the other man stepped back slightly. “Keith, please, please tell me, I've been kicking myself all week just thinking about it. Was it something I did? Was it... because of that guy I was with?” Lance asked quietly.
Keith's head snapped up then. “Yes, okay - it was because of him.”
“Well then explain it to me, because I'm really having a hard time trying to read your mind here,” Lance huffed.
“I love you, alright?” Keith finally got out, and Lance froze. “I just... Shit," Keith laughed, but there was no humour to it. "You just... annoy me so much Lance. When we first met, I had no idea how much you would come to mean to me. You're so loud, and have terrible eating habits, and you use the finger gun sign way too much." Lance tried to interject, but Keith continued. "But... you're stupidly kind, and thoughtful, and I will admit some of your jokes are actually pretty funny."
Lance couldn't help but smile, although he stayed where he was, wanting to let Keith finish first.
"I'm sorry I didn't just tell you, and that I went and hid at my brother's place just because you slept with someone," Keith mumbled, "But... this entire situation is so cliche, right? Straight out of a movie. Who the hell knows if this shit ever works out?" He breathed in slowly, deeply. "So... I love you. I'm really, stupidly in love with you, and... that's all I have to say, I guess."
Lance stood, so absolutely stunned and elated that all he could get out was, “Oh my god, Pidge was right.”
“What?” Keith asked, eyes squinting.
“Pidge, she-” Lance started laughing. “I need to always listen to her, that girl is right about everything.”
“Lance,” Keith tried to cut in, clearly unimpressed with Lance's reaction. “Lance, what is going on--”
“Do you really love me?” Lance asked, walking slowly over to him.
“Did you not just hear me?” Keith almost barked, backing up when Lance advanced on him. Keith's back hit the wall, and Lance found a comfy spot right in front of him, his eyes piercing as he looked right at Keith.
“I can't believe this,” Lance said, and before Keith could bite back with a snappy remark Lance continued, “We're both idiots.”
“What?” Keith blinked, frowning.
“I saw you with Rolo, I thought - I thought there was something there, and I panicked,” Lance grew quiet, “That's pretty much when I fucked up, isn't it?”
“There's nothing going on between me and Rolo,” Keith said as he finally, finally moved forward a bit. “He's always had a thing for me, but I've never felt the same way, and he knows that.”
“Thank god,” Lance chuckled, “Because I really don't like that guy.”
Keith frowned again, “Lance, does this mean--”
“I love you too.”
Keith choked on the rest of his question, eyes wide and full of hope as he stared up at Lance.
“I love you,” Lance smiled, so, so happy he can finally say the words. “I love you so goddamn much I feel like you've pretty much ruined me for anybody else. And yet I hated you to begin with, too, obviously; I mean - you were a total dick, no offence," Keith made a noise in agreement. "I never once imagined the idea of us ever being friends either, but then that all changed when I knocked down your fucking front door,” Lance brought his hands up to curl his fingers in the hair at the nape of Keith's neck. “And then somewhere along the way, seeing you became the best part of my day, hearing you laugh always managed to make me smile even when I felt like shit. By god, I even love this stupid, damn mullet of yours,” Lance huffed fondly, while Keith laughed around a small sob, “I am completely, irretrievably in love with you. So please, please come back home,” Lance finished, and he realised that he had started to cry, too.
Keith smiled up at him so bright, so earnest, and Lance felt warmth spread all throughout his body.
“Can I kiss you now?” Lance whispered.
Before Keith could even finish his small 'yes' in answer Lance had darted forward, sliding his lips over Keith's and bringing his arms to wrap around the other man's waist to pull him flush against him.
Keith gasped into his mouth, his hands gripping the front of Lance's shirt, and Lance could swear on his life that nothing had ever felt like this. Keith made a hitched sound, groaning faintly, and Lance committed the sound to memory, knowing he would never get enough of it.
It was amazing, Keith's soft lips against his, their tongues coming together briefly – it was everything Lance never knew he needed. Keith was everything. They pulled apart, breathing deep, the air around them hot and alive.
Keith smiled up at him, and Lance rested his forehead against Keith's and grinned.
4 Months Later
Lance was just about to finish up and go on his break, calling out to Hunk that he'd be gone for an hour. Stepping out from behind the counter he looked up and saw his boyfriend walk in the door, hair dishevelled from the wind and smiling so bright.
Lance grinned, walking over to pull him in for a deep kiss. When he separated their mouths with a quiet 'pop' he smiled down at Keith, and every time Keith smiled back Lance fell a little bit more in love with him with each passing day.
“Hey you,” Lance breathed.
“Hey,” Keith said, his hands cupping Lance's face gently, “I'm here for my coffee.”
“Hmm,” Lance mused, “I'm pretty sure I stopped owing you coffee a month ago.”
“Really?” Keith asked, his thumb ghosting over Lance's bottom lip and making him shiver. “Well then, if that's the case, I guess I'll just have to go and find some other drunk idiot to break my door in and get free coffee's from them instead.”
“Why do I feel like this whole relationship has only been about the coffee?”
“Oh, so you've finally figured it out,” Keith snickered when Lance punched him playfully.
“I've got an hour for my break,” Lance stepped closer, lips close to Keith's ear. “Where do you want to go?”
“A whole hour, huh?” Keith turned to look at him, that familiar fire in his eyes. “How about we go home? I'm sure we could break something else in that isn't my door.”
Lance visibly swallowed, already feeling the heat in his body travel south. “Lead the way, then.”
Because Lance knew that from now on, wherever Keith went, he would follow.