“If you’re going to pace through the floor, please do it on a level that’s not connected to outside the castle.” Shiro didn’t even look up from the book in his lap; he was sitting on the couch in the castle’s library looking altogether too calm for Keith’s liking. He was having a crisis. His brother should be flipping out with him.
“I’m not that agitated.”
Shiro glanced disbelievingly up at Keith and Keith knew he was right. Shiro was always right. That was why Keith was there. Sort of. Keith needed advice, but he had never been able to bring himself to ask for it outright, so pacing was the next best option.
Keith stopped pacing and crossed his arms over his chest with a huff after a few minutes. Shiro glanced up again. “If you want to talk, talk. It’s not like I’m going to ignore you.”
“You should’ve said something,” Keith grumbled.
“You need to learn how to communicate.”
Keith couldn’t argue with that. Shiro was always right. Damn him for being the voice of reason.
“Is dating supposed to be this complicated?” Keith groaned, finally giving in.
Shiro raised an eyebrow, glancing up at Keith for a third time and sighing slightly. “Why are you asking me this? You know as well as I do that I’ve never dated.”
“You’re the older brother,” Keith protested. “And besides, you’re with Allura. You should know these things by now.”
Shiro’s cheeks went red and Keith grinned. He would never tire of teasing Shiro, especially about his incredibly obvious crush on Allura. He had been merciful at first, but then he had caught Shiro drawing hearts with his and Allura’s initials inside them and Keith refused to ever let him live that down.
“For the hundredth time, I am not dating Allura, and there is a miniscule chance of me ever dating Allura, so please leave it be.” Something dark flitted through Shiro’s eyes and Keith knew it was time to change the subject before Shiro’s lack of self-confidence started overwhelming him again. Shiro was the only person Keith could read even remotely well; everyone else confused him beyond words.
Which, Keith reminded himself, is why I started this conversation in the first place.
Shiro set aside his book and turned his full attention to his little brother. “So what is it that Lance is doing that’s working you up so much? I haven’t seen you this stressed out since the Garrison.”
Keith caught his lower lip between his teeth and sat beside Shiro on the couch, pulling one knee up to his chest and resting his chin dolefully on it. Shiro raised an eyebrow at Keith’s sudden loss of energy; he had gone from pacing a hole in the floor to curling up dejectedly on the couch in less than a second. It wasn’t that this sudden motivation flip was unusual for Keith, it was just that it usually wasn’t about Lance.
“He won’t kiss me,” Keith mumbled as he wrapped his arms around his leg, “and I don’t know why.”
Shiro waved his non-metal hand in a vaguely circular kind of motion, prompting Keith to elaborate. Keith sighed. “Every time he seems like he’s going to kiss me, it’s only a kiss on the cheek or the forehead or – or – or something that isn’t my damn mouth.”
“Language,” Shiro reminded, probably out of habit formed by years of being the ‘responsible’ older sibling. “So you’re upset because Lance won’t kiss you on the mouth?”
Keith made a vague noise of agreement and shrugged. “Sort of? I mean, I wouldn’t have an issue with it if he would tell me why, but we’ve been dating for, like, three months and he hasn’t said a word about it.”
Shiro hummed thoughtfully, scratching at lightly at his stubble. Keith huffed and stared blankly at the floor. He worried that he had done something to upset Lance or something along those lines and Lance was too polite to say anything. Of course, Keith didn’t actually believe that, since Lance was so incredibly vocal about everything, but the doubt was definitely still there.
“There’s going to be a hole in that lip if you keep that up,” Shiro admonished gently.
Keith released his lower lip from between his teeth and winced a little when he ran his tongue over it and tasted blood. Shiro sighed a little and handed Keith a tissue. Keith mumbled a thanks an dabbed the wadded up tissue at his lip. When it came away dotted with blood, he pressed it back to his busted lip and glanced back to Shiro.
“So it sounds to me like you’re worried that you did something to make him not want to kiss you because he hasn’t done it yet. Yes?” Keith nodded. “And you haven’t said a word of this to Lance.”
Keith shook his head sheepishly. He hadn’t even considered it. Going to Shiro about anything remotely distressing – whether Keith knew how to actually talk about it or not – was such an automatic response anymore that the idea of talking to anyone else about it first hadn’t even crossed his mind.
“Well, first of all, you should probably talk to him about things that pertain to your relationship in the future. And second of all, did you ever consider the possibility that maybe he’s nervous?”
Keith blinked. No, he had not considered that. Lance McClain, nervous? He hadn’t thought it was even possible for Lance to be anything close to anxious. He was willing to admit that he sort of liked the idea of being able to affect Lance that deeply, though.
Keith shook his head; Shiro huffed another exasperated, but fond sight. “Lance is only human, Keith. He’s bound to have his insecurities and doubts, too, you know. It sounds to me like he’s worried that you don’t want to kiss him. Or, at least, he thinks you aren’t comfortable with it.”
“Of course I want to kiss him. Why wouldn’t I want to kiss my boyfriend?” The idea of not wanting to kiss Lance was honestly bewildering to Keith. He wouldn’t have let Lance come nearly as close to kissing him as he had if Keith didn’t want him to.
“But does Lance know that?”
Keith had thought so, but maybe he had been wrong. He bit his lip again, then winced and released it quickly when it stung.
Shiro smiled knowingly and made a shooing motion with his hands. “I think you need to go have a conversation with your boyfriend.”
Keith found Lance in his bedroom, humming along to some song in his head as he ran a brush through his hair. When the door hissed open, Lance turned to Keith and his expression lit up.
Lance froze, then his face slowly began to turn red. Keith was sure he wasn’t any less visibly embarrassed; that was not what he had meant to say. He wasn’t quite sure what he had meant to say, but it certainly was not that.
“What? I mean, yes, of course, but—”
Keith cut him off again by crossing the room in less than a second and cupping Lance’s face between his hands. Lance blinked down at him, seemingly still disoriented from Keith’s bluntness. Honestly, he should have gotten used to it by then, but Keith did think in hindsight that maybe he had been a little too direct.
Keith leaned up and pressed his forehead against Lance’s. Lance smiled a little, his expression clearing as his brain caught up to Keith’s actions. They were close enough that Keith could see each of the freckles that scattered across Lance’s cheeks and the bridge of his nose; it was tempting to put the kiss on hold to find a pen and draw little constellations between them. He tucked that idea into a mental folder he had labeled Future Reference.
Even though they were close – so close that they were mere millimeters from kissing already – Keith hesitated. He could see his own sudden doubt mirrored in Lance’s expression.
Lance began to pull away. “Are you sure—”
Keith tugged him back down and kissed him before either of them could overthink it again. Yes, he was sure, but Keith was well aware of the fact that he was awful with words. It had always been easier for him to show people something rather than telling them, and so Keith used that to his advantage. He did his best to convey just how absolutely sure of Lance with the kiss, since he didn’t know if he would ever find the right words to verbalize it. If Keith was awful with words, he was worse with emotions.
The kiss was brief but firm and when Keith pulled away, Lance looked dazed. To be fair, Keith felt a little fuzzy around the edges, himself. When Lance didn’t snap out of it, though, that doubt crept back into Keith’s chest.
“I… Lance?” Again, Keith couldn’t find the words, and it frustrated him beyond words.
Lance blinked and smiled, his gaze still dreamy and far off. “You’re so much hotter when you try to be an alpha male.”
It took Keith a moment to realize that Lance was making another one of his ridiculous flirtatious jokes. He groaned; Lance snickered. Rolling his eyes, Keith tugged Lance down to shut him up with another kiss.