“Keith, may I speak with you for a moment?” Allura asks him as she peaks her head around the door.
Keith looks up from his desk, piles upon piles of paperwork currently threatening to collapse on top of him at any given moment. He's grateful for the distraction; thinks if he has to read another piece that starts with the sentence: “Up until now I've lived an ordinary life, but then one day all of that changed...” he might just scream.
Perhaps teaching a creative writing class was a poor choice.
“Dean Allura, how can I help you?” He asks, trying to straighten out the mess.
“Keith, please,” she smiles sweetly, her heels clicking as she walks over to stand in front of him. “We've known each other for years now. Do call me Allura, alright?”
“Right, yep,” he nods, fighting off the urge to clear his throat. Allura could be tantalizingly sweet, but when she wants to, she can also be someone you wouldn't want to mess with in a dark alley. It was a lethal combination.
“I was just passing by and wondered if you were going to make it to the faculty appreciation night next month?”
Keith had to hold back on a laugh at hearing the name and instead took a long swing of his now cold, bitter coffee. “Uh, I suppose so? Is... everyone going?”
“Yes,” her eyes narrow, but it's hardly noticeable. Keith prides himself on being able to read her looks. “Everyone. Including Lance.”
Keith bites down on a groan, because—well, Lance. The other Professor was always finding time to pester Keith, sauntering into his class—whether students were in there or not—and making it his life's goal to ruin Keith's usually adequate days. It's hard enough dealing with a room full of students, but having to deal with Lance's constant need to bug Keith with questions, or use horrible pick-up lines, or worse yet, sit at Keith's desk with a wink as he watches Keith teach his class—it was an ongoing nightmare for Keith's low tolerance for perky people.
Keith is pretty sure there are rules about not doing any of the things Lance does to him on a regular basis. Or at least, there should be basic common knowledge of personal space in the workplace.
“Oh, that's great,” Keith tries to keep the displeasure from his tone, but Allura catches it easily.
“Keith,” she uses that scolding mother voice, “Honestly, you and Lance act like five year olds on the playground where Lance tugs at your proverbial pigtails.”
“We do not,” Keith mumbles, “I swear, does he even teach anything at this University? I feel like he's always in here.”
“You're a qualified English Professor, Keith. Surely you can figure that one out,” she says, just as the page on her hip beeps several times. She glances at the number and lets out a small sigh. “Sorry, but I must run. I do hope to see you at that party, Keith. I'll be sorely disappointed if I don't.”
Keith doesn't get another word in as she leaves the room, the door closing behind her with a 'click'. He's left to sit there, wondering just what the hell she meant by that. One pile of papers does end up falling over, and he spends an extra 5 minutes cleaning them all up as he groans into his hands.
During lunch, Keith walks into the teachers’ lounge with all intensive purposes of making himself a coffee and then leaving without talking to not a single other soul.
It had been another long day of grading papers, what with mid-terms coming up, and really, whoever said it was a stressful time for students had clearly forgotten about the hundreds of assignments the teachers had to grade.
Keith did enjoy his job, though, so he was really only half complaining about the work load for his class. He finds pleasure with the written word, always has. Finds it relaxes him when he settles down for a quiet night at home with a new book, eager to absorb the words to their fully engrossing extent. His love for literature had blossomed at a young age, when his dad used to read him old sci-fi novels every night, opening him up to the world of countless possibilities in the wide, never ending universe.
He had always been keen to publish a book of his own. He'd developed ideas over the years, filled books upon books with characters and notes and settings, but he still hadn't quite gotten it yet. It being that one idea that strikes you so resoundingly, so clearly, it's something you just absolutely have to write down to share with the rest of the world.
So instead, for now, he would pour himself a cup of coffee that tastes too rusty for its own good, grab a handful of cookies he knew Hunk always hid away in the back of the cupboard, head back to his classroom, and count down the minutes until he would eventually allow himself to retire for the evening.
When he walks inside the small lounge Hunk is already there, sitting on one of the busted up recliners, and Keith mentally calculates how he could sneak around him to steal his amazing baked goods.
“Oh, hey Keith,” Hunk says when he spots him at the doorway. “How’s your day so far?”
Usually, questions like that always made Keith want to grunt out a reply, or shrug, because the person asking usually didn’t care for the answer. But Hunk wasn’t most people, and he genuinely cared about everyone, friend or not.
Hunk was an engineer here at the University, and all of students simply adored him. He was kind, had a wickedly talented way of explaining the inner mechanics of anything you could think of, and despite the towering appearance, he was a huge softy.
“I’m alright,” Keith says honestly, “Just waiting for these exams to be over.”
“I hear ya, buddy,” Hunk smiles before he writes something down onto the notepad resting on his lap.
Keith walks over to where the coffee machine is, and when he gets there, curses out loud when he sees no one bothered to refill the papers and brew another pot.
“God dammit,” Keith swallows his frustration before preparing the machine himself. It was common courtesy, man, why were people so stuck in their ways?
As he waits for his much needed caffeine boost to finish preparing, Allura, along with his adoptive brother Shiro, walk into the longue talking animatedly, both with affectionate smiles as they watch the other intently.
Keith almost rolls his eyes at Shiro, still wondering why the man had never plucked up the courage to ask her out yet. Shiro had been working here at G.U. for a year before Keith had landed his job, and Keith knew for a fact that Shiro has basically been in love with her almost the whole time he’s worked here. It was like watching the longest courting ritual you’ve ever seen, but if you ever ask either of them about it? Just friends, they’d say.
“Afternoon, you two,” Hunk waves, and Shiro walks over to sit down next to him, the both of them diving into their plans to go bowling on the weekend.
“Keith,” Allura greets as she approaches him, just as Keith finishes pouring his coffee. He offers one for her, but she shakes her head.
“I prefer tea,” she says, stepping closer and angling her head to the right to whisper: “Are you waiting for a distraction to grab Hunk’s cookies?”
Keith smirks into his mug, nodding once.
“If you act as wall, I’ll steal the loot, alright?” she continues, and Keith goes to work instantly, padding over to the other men who are still deep in conversation. Keith turns his head to indicate the coast is clear, and Allura gets to work. But of course, nothing can ever really go as smoothly as one would hope.
“Hello my adoring fans! Hold your applause, please.”
Keith turns to see Lance walk into the longue too, grinning so wide you can see his gums from across the room. When he spots Keith, he starts heading towards him straight away, his strut confident as his hips sway playfully. Keith brings his mug up again to muffle a groan.
“Morning Keith,” Lance grins, too close to Keith’s face.
“It’s the afternoon,” Keith corrects him.
“What is time anyway but a manmade shackle?” Lance winks, running a hand through his hair, parts of it sticking up afterwards. Keith has a sudden urge to flatten it again. “Besides, if beauty were time, you’d be an eternity.”
Keith hears Shiro snort a few feet away, and finally Allura returns to his side, discreetly tucking a napkin-wrapped cookie into Keith’s hand. Lance pouts at them both, peering down to get a good look at the stolen treat.
“Aw, you didn’t get me one?”
Allura watches him for a moment before she reluctantly hands hers over to Lance, shrugging slightly at Keith. “It’s alright. I know if I eat just one, I’ll only want more.”
“Oh, Allura, you’re simply my favourite girl ever,” Lance gushes, leaning in for a dramatic smooch.
She ducks away smoothly. “I am a woman, and also your boss. And for the love of God, don’t let Hunk see the evidence,” she whispers.
Lance salutes her, standing close to Keith again, almost shoulder to shoulder. Keith wants to shy away, almost feeling the body heat radiating off him. Soon he can feel Lance’s eyes on him like a bird with its pray, and whenever Keith turns to call him out on it Lance averts his gaze quickly.
Keith indulges in another sip before almost whining out, “What is it?”
Lance startles a little, before schooling his face into a clearly practiced charm. “Oh, nothing. Just wondering if I’ll grace you with my presence later by stopping by your class. I’m sure your students have been missing me.”
“No, they have not,” Keith dismisses, choosing instead to focus his gaze on some bubblegum etched into the fraying carpet. He watches Lance’s feet come into view, and he takes a deep breath before looking up once again.
Lance cocks his head, eyes glancing down briefly before he gives Keith a pleased smile. “You claim to hate me, but I know the truth, Organa. Why else would you still be using this?” He pokes Keith’s mug for emphasis.
Keith tries not to show too much emotion on his face as he scrambles for a excuse. It had been a gift from Lance during Keith’s first month at G.U. He had been using styrofoam cups for his coffee every day, and when Lance had seen the piles of them littered about Keith’s desk, he’d taken it upon himself to go out in search of a perfect mug.
Lance knew about Keith’s love for all things sci-fi after catching Keith reading all of the classics whenever he wasn’t busy with work. So he’d decided to hand-make his gift for Keith, wagging his eyebrows cheekily when he’d dropped it off one afternoon during Keith’s 5th period class.
Keith hadn’t been too impressed when he’d unwrapped it, one side of the mug displaying a messy scrawl of ‘Will you be the Leia to my Han?’
His students had all made small ‘aww’ sounds, and Keith had tried desperately to chase away the angry flush that threatened to creep up his neck.
“Why pay for another mug? I’m just trying to help the environment, here,” Keith is relieved when his voice comes out nonchalant, but Lance is still giving him that knowing smirk. Keith wants to knock it right off his pretty face.
“Oh, Lance?” Allura calls over to him, “You’ll make sure Keith comes to the faculty party next month, yes?” She sends Keith a devious smile. Keith glares back.
“Oh, don’t worry Allura, I’ll make it my personal mission to drag this man out of his batcave for the night,” Lance beams, slinging an arm around Keith’s shoulders.
Keith frowns. “Okay, first of all, I already agreed to go, Allura. And secondly, the batcave is—”
“Don’t worry, Keith,” Shiro smiles encouragingly at him. “It’ll be fun. I’m sure Lance will be respectable and will have you home at a decent hour.” A sly wink.
“Ugh,” Keith pinches the bridge of his nose, ignoring the laughter from his brother and co-workers.
It’s only when Keith is walking back to his class, after having Lance so close, that he realizes the warmth he had felt from Lance’s arm still lingered under his shirt, a pleasant feeling that had him blinking in surprise. Lance’s laugh rang in his ear, soft and airy, like an echo. Keith shakes it away.
It was nothing.
If there was one student opinion Keith could absolutely agree on, it was that classes starting at 8:30 in the morning was simply too early.
It was that dissociated time of day where your state of mind was teetering between lingering unconsciousness and wanting everything surrounding you to swallow you up whole. Keith, along with most of his students, all walk into class carrying at least one caffeine fix, but Keith knew he’d be reaching desperately for more come second period.
He’d been up most of last night grading papers still, and today he was almost sorry to be giving his class another assignment due by the end of next week. He tried to keep it relatively simple and would give them free will to write anything they wished, although that method always tended to have repercussions.
“Alright everyone,” he calls out, not bothering to wait for any latecomers. He tries to stifle his yawn into his fist but fails to be discreet. “I know it’s way too early to have to deal with adjectives and plot structure, but I’ll try my best to keep things to a minimum—”
The door to the classroom swings open with a loud bang, revealing a student half hidden behind books they’re currently trying to carry in their arms. Keith recognizes the wild mop of hair sticking out the top instantly.
“Miss Holt, good morning.”
A low grumble was heard from behind the pile threatening to tumble over at any given moment, and the sight of her manages to churn a small laugh out of Keith despite himself. Pidge makes her way over to the front row, dumping her books unceremoniously and shooting daggers towards the eyes that linger on her.
Aside from the large age difference between Pidge and her peers, she always manages to keep her place at the top of all of her classes. A child prodigy, as Allura had told him last year. She also attended Hunk’s class, and after an incident a few months ago that almost resulted in Hunk’s workshop catching fire, both of the Professors collectively agreed to never get on the girl’s bad side.
Once the caffeine in his system starts to finally shake his bones awake a reasonable amount, Keith is incredibly glad when he glances the time to see the lesson is already half over. He’s about halfway through discussing the pros and cons of different narratives when an all too familiar guest waltzes though the door.
“Mornin’ everybody,” Lance salutes the students, a few of them giggling and one of them shouting back, “Here comes dat boi!”
Keith levels him with an unimpressed look, watching as Lance makes his way over to Keith’s desk and taking up residence in Keith’s chair, leaning back leisurely as he kicks his feet up. He winks at Keith, gesturing for him to continue his talk.
Keith clears his throat and tries his best to find where he left off.
During the rest of his class Lance raises his hand several times, asking questions similar to those of his students and spewing out jokes much too inappropriate for an academic setting. Keith almost heaves a sigh of relief when the bells ring out to indicate the end of the lesson. His students begin piling out after he reminds them about their homework for the week, and once most of them have cleared out he turns to Lance, arms folded.
“I see you didn’t have much going on this morning,” Keith glowers, filing through some papers to try and find a document he needs for next period.
Lance blows him a kiss, dropping his feet back down and standing up to stretch. Keith averts his gaze when Lance’s curves become more apparent with the movement. “I know you appreciate my presence, Organa. You know you’re always welcome to stop by my class any time, too.”
“If your students are anything like you, I don’t think I could survive an entire hour of it,” Keith clips back, ignoring the squawk of protest from Lance.
Keith turns away from his poor excuse of a desk to find Pidge standing there, her spilling backpack cradled in her arms, hair a mess under her headphones. Keith smiles to himself, instantly thinking back to the first day he met her, remembering it so clearly when she had refused to call him ‘Mr. Kogane’ after he said it felt unprofessional call her ‘Pidge’.
“Miss Holt, how can I help you?” Keith asks, and Lance’s shoulder brushes against his when he leaves them alone to chat. Keith rubs at the spot subconsciously after he’s gone.
“I just wanted to give you my paper,” she says matter-of-factly, handing it to him.
“The…” Keith takes it, looking down at it in disbelief, “… the one I just assigned to you?”
She smiles. “I already knew it was on your syllabus, so I completed it during this period.”
Keith narrows his eyes slightly. “This school really needs a better security system.”
Pidge shrugs innocently. “Also, if you really don’t like Lance coming into your class, I can make a deadbolt lock in about three minutes, if you’d like.”
“That’s not…” Keith frowns, debating it for a single second before shaking his head. “No, no. It’s nothing like that. He’s just…” he stops, looking down at Pidge and realizing this isn’t a topic of conversation meant to be had with a student.
Pidge shrugs again, heading towards the door. “Well alright, it’s your funeral. But you should probably stop encouraging him; it’s providing way too much content for your shipper fans.”
And before Keith even has a chance to ask what she means, the door was closing behind her, leaving him to the quiet of his classroom once again.
“Shiro? You got a minute?”
Keith peaks his head halfway through the threshold to Shiro’s small office, cautious after hearing the other man curse a number of times from out in the hallway. Shiro looks up quickly to gesture him in, and Keith seats himself down in his usual chair, quirking an eyebrow at his brother.
Shiro sends a grunt his way in reply, and so Keith twiddles his thumbs as he waits for Shiro to be done with whatever it is that’s stressing him out this much. Keith wonders if maybe he should come back later, but then Shiro is letting out a deep sigh as he rests his pen down, rubbing at his eyes briefly before giving Keith a tired smile.
“Sorry, all good now. What’s up?”
“Ah…” Keith scratches idly at his chin, wondering if Shiro was the right person to ask about this. It’s been a couple days since learning about this ‘shipping’ incident, and he’s finally decided to bite the bullet, his curiosity ultimately winning over his hesitation. “Do you know what a fan shipper is?”
Shiro merely blinks at him, until a spark of recognition flashes across his face and then it turns into surprise. “I do, actually. You learn a few things when you’re babysitting pre-teens.”
Keith straightens in his chair, relief washing over him. “Well? What the hell is it?”
“Hmm,” he frowns, as if trying to recall it. “I remember Lisa saying it was when you ship two people together, romantically, for your own enjoyment. I’m sure…” Shiro trails off when he sees Keith’s eyes start to grow impossibly wide. “Uh, Keith?”
“What the fuck?” Keith manages, his heart suddenly beating faster, his face warming up despite himself. “They ship Lance and me romantically?”
“They? Who’s they?”
“My students…” Keith’s gaze lands on a small Power Ranger figurine sitting atop Shiro’s computer monitor, his mind numb and unable to comprehend the situation fully yet.
“They do?” Shiro asks, a touch incredulous. “That’s… well, not the most appropriate thing I’ve heard. They don’t talk to you about it, do they?”
Keith answers with a small, “No,” as if on autopilot, wondering how in the hell this was his life. “Why would they… I mean—why, Shiro? Why?”
Shiro bites the inside of his cheek, as if fighting off a smile. “Well, you and Lance do seem to put a whole new meaning to the word ‘banter’. It doesn’t seem like a total impossibility that an outsider might think you two are an item.”
Keith is sputtering before Shiro even finishes. “What? I mean—how could you—”
“Hey,” Shiro holds a hand up innocently, “I’m not the only one who thinks that. I’m pretty sure Allura was the first one to notice the tension between you two.”
Keith feels his brain shut down. “Allura?! Oh my god, my boss and my brother and my friends all think that Lance and I are secretly a thing?!”
Shiro gives him an unimpressed look, clearly waiting for Keith to calm down. “It’s not a big deal, Keith. You and Lance are at least friends now, though, am I right? I’m sure you can both laugh about it at lunch today,” he offers gently.
“I’m not going to tell him,” Keith swears firmly, face flushing hot at the thought. “God, no. He can’t know about this, ever. I can’t even imagine the absolute glee he would have about holding this information over my head,” Keith groans pitifully into his hands.
“Idiots, the both of you,” Shiro mumbles to himself.
Come lunch time, Keith was more than happy to just hang out in his classroom. He’d brought a simple salad he could just eat right at his desk, leaving him with no reason to go to the teachers lounge. Except, when he was only halfway though his meal, his stomach grumbles pathetically, demanding that rabbit food simply wouldn’t cut it today.
So he glances at the time and sees that lunch is almost over now, so the chances of running into the others—or, God forbid, Lance—were low. So he snatches up his mug and follows the intoxicating smell of bitterness, reaching the door to the lounge and hesitating for a moment.
He then scoffs to himself, fully aware of how ridiculous he was acting about the whole situation, and promptly steps inside.
Coran, G.U.’s resident astronomy lecturer, is the only person in the room who Keith is familiar with. The other man was sitting by the window, an open book set in front of him as he ate at something quietly.
Coran smiles when he sees Keith come in. “Hello Keith, a bit late today I see. I’m sorry to say but all of Hunk’s cookies have been eaten,” he holds one up sheepishly.
“It’s alright Coran,” Keith smiles, pouring himself a cup of coffee (his third one today already) before taking a seat opposite the other man. “Doing some light reading?” He teases.
Coran laughs good-naturedly. “Yes, for a class I have later today. My kids can’t seem to get enough of it all, I’ve been revising everything; they simply ask so many questions.”
“Sounds nice,” Keith sighs, and then suddenly a warm hand is covering his eyes, voice low as it speaks into his ear.
Keith involuntarily shivers, trying to escape Lance’s space, chest already feeling hotter from just thinking about his conversation with Shiro earlier. He’d thought the coast had been clear and the lounge was his for the taking, but the universe continues to be cruel to him so of course Lance was still here.
Lance takes a seat next to Keith and slides a small package over to him, smiling sweetly. “Saved you one. You’re welcome.”
“Oh,” Keith says dumbly, staring down at the sinfully delicious cookie before picking it up, savouring the taste as he bit into it. “Thanks, Lance.”
“He’s been waiting for you to show up,” Coran gestures to Lance, “Lance here was about ready to call for a search party.”
Keith thinks Lance jabs Coran under the table, if Coran’s small squeak was anything to go by. Keith tries to keep up a relaxed appearance, but having Lance in such close quarters was scrambling his brain in a way it didn’t used to before. What was happening? Why was the idea of people thinking they were an item getting to him this much? It was absurd, to worry this much about what other people thought of them. They were friends, and that was all.
“I just like to take care of my friends, Coran,” Lance says on an exhale, leaning back in his chair. Keith looks away when a sliver of skin is exposed.
“And that’s very nice of you, Lance,” Coran uses a tone that only Lance seems to pick up on, and Lance coughs once into his hand before turning to look at Keith.
“Hey, thank God it’s Friday, am I right?” Lance grins.
Keith bites into his cookie again, speaking around a suddenly dry throat. “Yeah.”
His last class of the day before the long awaited weekend seems to stretch out twice as long than normal. He suddenly felt irrationally nervous under his students gazes, a mantra of they think you and Lance are dating ringing loudly in his mind. He hopes Lance holds back on stopping by today; doesn’t think his mental capacity could handle the distraction right now.
When the bell rang he releases a drawn out sigh, packing up papers to grade over the next few days and rubbing at his dreary eyes incessantly. Before he turns to leave, however, Pidge is standing by his desk, her expression curious. She hands him another paper.
“Next week’s assignment—thought you might want to proofread it for me,” she says, seemingly watching him closely.
Keith accepts it, not even surprised anymore. “I can. Good job today, too.”
She chews on her bottom lip for a moment, hesitant. “I’m sorry if I made things uncomfortable for you.”
“How?” Keith implores.
“About the… um… shipping, thing. I just felt like I knew you well enough to be able to tell you,” she clicks her tongue, obviously apologetic. “I wouldn’t worry about it, though. They’re just kids, they mean no harm.”
“Miss Holt, they’re older than you,” Keith deadpans, lost on what else he can say about the topic. He decides to leave it there, though, and instead envisions running a hot bath at home and contently drowning in his sorrows.
“Irrelevant,” Pidge waves off, hints of mirth in her tone. She leaves, and he follows a moment after once he’s packed up for the day, and the entire drive home Keith is glad Lance doesn’t cross his mind once.
Come Monday morning, Keith could admit to having thought about Lance on more than one occasion over the weekend. It wasn’t that he intentionally fixated on the topic, but his mind had decided to betray him constantly by bringing it up at the most unusual times. When he had made toast for breakfast on Saturday, he suddenly remembered Lance eating a slice one morning with a slathering of peanut butter on it. Flicking through channels and seeing an episode of It’s Always Sunny that Lance liked to quote. Even simply brushing knots out after a shower and having an image cross his mind of Lance running his fingers through his hair.
Then when had Lance strode into his classroom, Keith—again—briefly debated the idea of taking Pidge up on her offer to deadbolt the door. But then Lance sent him a smile much too wide to be seen on a Monday morning, and any remaining thoughts of wanting to shut Lance out promptly fled.
During lunch Keith went about it as he usually did, chatting with Hunk leisurely or dodging prodding questions from Shiro about his love life. Keith felt his gaze unintentionally start to wonder over to where he knew Lance was sitting with Allura by the window, but he snapped them away quickly, in no way wanting to give Shiro the satisfaction.
Eventually Lance finishes his chat with Allura and slowly drifts over to where they were all sitting on the couches. Keith hates how aware he was being about Lance’s movements, but he couldn’t help it, especially when Lance found a home on the armrest next to Keith, his arm draped over the back and aftershave smelling so inviting. Keith feels his face heat up and hears himself stumble slightly over his words, even more so when Lance leans down to whisper something in his ear that Keith doesn’t even remember once he leaves the room because oh my God Lance had been so close to his face, Jesus.
During one of his last classes of the day, he finds himself apologizing several times when he has to repeat the same sentence in a book again, or when he forgets the names of students he’s known for years—he even misspells a word on the board and instantly wishes he could crawl up into a ball and disappear.
He lies smoothly and pretends he’s coming down with a cold, but he doesn’t think his students are so easily fooled. So he dismisses them early, waits until the room is empty before sitting down in his chair and groaning long and loud into his palms before fisting his hands in his hair.
You’re a grown ass man, he thinks with venom. This should not be affecting you this much. Lance is just a friendly person, he just likes teasing you—he would be weirded out to know you were losing it over a… crush?
A noise tugs him out of his inner turmoil, and he glances up to see Lance leaning against the doorframe, the setting sun outside illuminating him in a soft halo. Ridiculous.
“You okay there?” Lance smiles as he raises an eyebrow, hands in his pockets as he walks over to Keith curiously. His tie is loose, and Keith wants nothing more than to straighten it up.
Keith tries to mask on a look he hopes is believable before waving a hand flippantly. “It’s nothing. Don’t you ever get stressed about your class?”
“Me?” Lance points to himself, “Nah, my students are awesome. Besides, I can’t allow myself to stress out—think of all the breakouts, my God.”
Keith snorts before he stands up to crack the tension out of his back. He mentally curses at seeing all of the work he has to bring home, as well as the box of spare car parts Hunk had given back to him that he hadn’t needed. He huffs out a long breath.
“Need some help?”
He looks to see Lance gesturing to his stuff, and he answers, “Sure,” the both of them taking their time while Lance indulges Keith in a funny incident that happened in his last class. Keith finds himself laughing a lot when he’s around Lance, and as they walk out the building over to the staff car park, Keith realizes his previous panic hadn’t crossed his mind once.
He suddenly wants to clear something up. "Hey, Lance?"
"I want to apologise," Keith stops, causing Lance to do the same. "I've never... hated you, or anything. You're just... like three people in one. I'm not used to it."
Lance blinks, silent for a few seconds. And then he's smiling, balancing the box to tap Keith's shoulder lightly. "Apology accepted. And I knew that about you. It's why I like you."
Keith feels his brows raise, feels a smile creep it's way across his lips. They continue to walk and talk, almost to his car now, and Lance stops mid-sentence to turn to him.
“Want this in the back?” He asks in favour of the box he’s carrying, and Keith nods.
Lance punches him lightly on the shoulder again once he's done. “It was good to see you laughing. You were… quieter than usual today.”
Keith feels something in his chest warm from the knowledge that apparently Lance pays enough attention to him that he can differentiate his moods easily. He feels himself smile genuinely, the first one today, and says, “Well, thanks for being… you.”
Lance grins like Keith just made his damn day, heading towards his own car. “Alright, well I’ll see you tomorrow, Organa.”
Before Lance is out of earshot, Keith calls out, “Goodnight, Solo.”
Lance turns around swiftly, shock clear on his face, until it schools into something giddy before he sends him a final salute.
Keith smiles the entire drive home.
The rest of the week continues as such.
Keith stops worrying about what his students think, what his peers might think, what Shiro might think. It wasn’t anyone’s business but his, and Keith was more than fine with bottling up his newly found emotions for now. It was probably not the most reasonable way to approach these types of situations, but it was familiar to him, so he stuck with it.
And as soon as he stops worrying, he feels himself start to relax again. He no longer dreads when Lance might stop by his class. He doesn’t second guess Lance’s intentions when he sits close to Keith during lunch. He stops rolling his eyes at Lance’s lame pick-up lines and even lets himself retaliate with one of his own (and watching Lance’s eyes bug out of his head had been seriously worth it).
On Friday Lance tells the group he won’t be here on Monday, and instead he’ll be recovering from a weekend of living it up in Atlantic City for a cousin’s bachelor party. Hunk warns him to take it easy on the booze (Keith learnt through a story about how badly Lance handles his liquor after waking up one morning on a boat, a shoe missing and a half eaten burrito in hand).
So Keith spends his Saturday planted in front of his desk, pencil untouched as he struggles to come up with an idea for his book. Sunday evening he hangs out at Shiro’s house, watching old re-runs of King of the Hill and eating his weight in twinkies.
When Monday rolls around again, Keith catches himself glancing at his door multiple times throughout the day, only remembering afterwards that Lance isn’t even here. Pidge even asks him if he’s expecting someone important to stop by. He doesn’t miss the implications in her voice and dismisses her claims before assigning her more homework with an evil smirk.
Lunch feels unbearably quiet without Lance there, to the point where Keith finds himself swallowing down this bizarre need to fill the almost silence.
By the time Tuesday comes to life, Keith feels immensely glad that everything goes back to normal upon Lance’s arrival back at G.U. And whoa, he can’t believe this is apparently what ‘normal’ is now. But he can’t deny whatever it is he’s been feeling the past week. It’s as clear as day now; like it has always been there, itching under his skin, waiting to emerge.
He likes Lance.
He likes Lance, and he has absolutely no idea what to do about it.
During a free period, Keith passes the time by pulling out his notebook and scribbling down whatever ideas flitter through his already clogged up mind. He starts easy and begins to write down potential characters: ages, genders, relationships. He’s about halfway through writing details of one particular male character when he frowns down at his notes, refusing to believe he’d started to describe Lance.
'Oh man, I have it so bad. What the hell?’
Keith chases away the smile that tugs at his lips and instead tries to level Lance with a deadpan stare. Lance is unaffected, though, and blows a bubble with the gum he’s chewing. Keith finds himself staring.
“What are you doing? Work?” Lance’s tone is a mixture of teasing and curiosity.
“Uh,” Keith rubs at his nose bashfully, not knowing if he’s ready to share something like this with Lance. But he knows Lance wouldn’t make fun of him, so he settles his nerves and tells him, “It’s, um, ideas for a book I want to write.”
“No shit?” Lance says, pulling up a spare chair and plopping himself down. “That’s awesome, what do you have so far?”
Keith blinks at his eagerness, hiding a smile behind his palm. “I want to write an epic space opera. Like the classics, you know? Action, romance—the works, really,” he shrugs, hoping he’s not coming off too cocky.
Lance’s attention is still on him, like a dog with a bone. “Keith, that’s really amazing. You would be so good at something like that. Hey, can I ask you to do something for me?” He inches closer, voice dropping.
Keith frowns slightly. “What?”
“Can you name your hero after me? It only makes sense, after all,” Lance winks.
“Sure,” Keith starts, but before Lance can perk up in glee he continues, “As long as you never call me Organa again.”
Lance looks heartbroken.
Time has been flying by so quickly, that if Allura hadn’t made an announcement about the faculty party that night Keith would have completely forgotten.
Shiro offers to give him a ride to the restaurant that evening, and Keith accepts, grateful it’s one less thing he has to worry about. Lance is the epitome of excitement throughout the whole day, and Keith can’t help it when some of it rubs off on him in the process.
When he gets home he’s relieved to jump in the shower, happy for the warmth it provides him to chase away the chill of the cool November air. He takes his time getting dressed, ultimately deciding on a deep maroon suit and a simple black tie. Around 7 o’clock, half an hour before Shiro is meant to pick him up, he receives a text from the man himself.
>(19:02) hey buddy, change of plans, can’t pick u up, but don’t worry I’m sending reinforcements. Have fun :P
Keith frowns down at the message for a while before he sends a reply, chucking his phone on his bed and sitting down to wait.
At almost 7:30 on the dot, there’s a rattle at his front door, much too chipper compared Shiro’s signature ‘knock knock’. He opens the door, and his heart stutters wildly in his chest when he finds Lance on the other side, dressed impeccably in a royal blue suit and a stunning smile.
“Your spaceship awaits, Organa,” Lance bows dramatically, and Keith can’t hold in his laugh.
They joke and banter the whole ride there, and about halfway through the journey Lance starts blasting some 80s hip-hop jam that has Keith is hysterics when Lance tries desperately to keep up with the lyrics, making them up when he fails epically.
The whole group was there tonight, as well as nearly every teacher from other departments they didn’t usually converse with. Lance offers his arm to Keith at the door, and Keith rolls his eyes but accepts, hoping the dim lighting in the room hides the blush threatening to creep along his cheeks. Shiro sends him a wink and a thumbs-up with his good hand, and Keith has a great urge to stick his tongue out in reply. Even Allura seems shocked that he’s getting along so well with Lance—my how things have changed.
The event was pretty tame as far as parties go. The university had hired out one of the restaurants private function rooms, the entirety of its space taken up by tables and caterers waiting for food orders to be placed.
A few hours pass by and Keith finds himself having a nice evening, making time to chat with everyone and to try as many dishes as he can with Lance. They soon make it a competition; first one to try all of the samples at each table will be granted with one wish from the loser.
Lance wins, and Keith feels his blood pump loudly in his ears when Lance leans in to whisper, “I think I’ll save my wish for later, Organa,” deep and hot as it fans against his temple.
As some guests begin to leave, Lance somehow convinces half the group to ditch the party and go out to a club. Keith would normally avoid clubs at all costs, but he’s a little bit tipsy from a few champagnes, and Lance’s smile is so beautiful and honest that he finds his heart betraying his brain before he even realizes it.
They all fit into one cab and drive further into town, Lance excitedly guiding the driver there with wild finger pointing.
They stumble slightly into the club, and instantly the music is coursing through his whole body, creating a numbing buzz as they leave their jackets at the entrance.
Coran and Hunk head over to the bar in the far right corner, and Keith barely has time to take in his surroundings before Lance is gripping him by his tie and pulling him out on to the dance floor.
Lance looks completely in his element when he starts dancing, hips swaying back and forth, a mischievous glint in his eyes as he beckons Keith to join him. Keith’s mouth is suddenly very dry, even more so when Lance reaches out playfully to hook two fingers between his shirt buttons, pulling Keith closer until Lance can be heard over the beat, “Go loose, Keith.”
Keith downs his drink when Hunk brings it over to him, reveling in its sharp taste as it runs smoothly down his throat. Song after song flies by, sweat begins to appear at his neck, his bones aching in a satisfying way.
Lance leaves him to run to the bathroom, and Keith takes the few minutes to get himself in check, rubbing absentmindedly at his chest, happiness humming pleasantly under his skin. Hunk and Coran have taken up part of the dance floor, each of them battling it out with their signature moves, the crowd chanting them on. Suddenly the main lights to the club change over to blacklights, and everyone yells out excitedly, Keith’s white shirt now standing out twice as much.
Keith pushes his body off the wall and plans to go and watch the dance off, but Lance appears in his line of sight, parts of his arms glowing.
“What the…” Keith trails off on a laugh.
Lance grins wickedly. “Some guy in the bathroom gave me his glow in the dark face paint—want me to do you?”
God, yes. Keith nods, watching Lance gather some of the stuff up on his fingers. He brings his hand up to draw a pattern on Keith’s face, warm and gentle, and Keith hopes to God that it’s tasteful and Lance isn’t drawing a dick on his face or something. When he’s done, Lance studies his handiwork before handing the tube over to Keith.
“Okay, my turn.”
Keith pours some on his shaky fingers, almost holding his breath as he slowly raises his hands up, hesitating for only a moment. He delicately cups Lance’s face, flecks of paint getting in his hair, so Keith tries to remain steady and very carefully he touches Lance’s cheekbones, feather light as he traces along the bone, the paint flicking upwards around the shape of his eyes.
Two half diamonds are left behind, resting atop his cheeks and highlighting the blue in his irises. It's quite a sight, and Keith commits it to memory, never wanting to forget it. He doesn’t even notice when his hands drop to rest at Lance’s exposed collarbones, his skin hot to the touch.
Lance’s eyes have gone dark, almost hooded, and his fingers snake through Keith’s belt loops, pulling him flush, and Keith can’t breathe.
“Lance,” he can’t stop his hands roaming, can’t help but submit to the absolute desire that’s been tugging at him for what’s felt like so long. He knows he should stop, that things like this when you’re more than tipsy is never a good idea. But Lance is so warm, his smell completely intoxicating.
Lance runs his fingers lightly up Keith’s stomach, over his chest, along the expanse of his neck before nestling deep in his unruly black locks.
Keith makes the mistake of allowing Lance to tilt his head up, and he feels his heart spasm uncomfortably, the air from his lungs abandoning him when he sees Lance’s expression.
“Keith,” Lance says fervently, and even with the loud music still vibrating around them, his voice is somehow crystal clear.
There’s a moment, spanning out for several more, and Keith’s mind is divided in half as he battles between wanting this more than anything and begging himself not to ruin this brand new, amazing friendship he has with Lance.
But then suddenly Lance is deciding for him, and he’s leaning down, his eyes flicking back and forth between Keith’s eyes and lips. Keith swallows, smells the sweetness of Lance’s last drink fan over his lips, closes his eyes and waits for Lance to consume him, body and soul.
Only it doesn’t come.
Instead, he opens his eyes to find Lance with a twisted look on his face, and one minute he’s asking Lance what’s wrong, and the next, he’s watching as Lance bends over to unceremoniously throw up right on the floor.
The next morning Keith wakes up to a bitter taste in his mouth, his neck cramped due to its placement hanging off the edge of his mattress, and he instantly regrets not closing his drapes the night before as the sun glares down on him harshly.
He pushes himself up in bed, groaning pathetically, and he blinks incessantly until the blurriness creeping in his vision goes away. He spots a post-it note on his bedside table, with Coran’s messy scrawl written across it. He picks it up and stares at it far longer than necessary, learning how it is he got home last night and that Hunk had taken Lance home after he’d thrown up.
He groans again into his pillow, trying to chase away to memory of being so close to Lance, of feeling the other mans hands over his body—how they almost kissed last night, oh God, he was screwed.
He tries not to think about it when he drags his aching body out of bed. He tries not to think about it when he showers for a long time, just staring at the water falling down his body as he rests his forehead against the cool tiles. He tries not to think about it when he wipes away the remaining face paint, or when he goes to make a simple egg breakfast—even when he receives a text from Shiro asking how his night was.
By mid-afternoon, he comes to accept that it’s all he wants to think about, so he does. He thinks about it so much that frustration begins to boil in his gut, a sinking feeling wanting to convince him this friendship was forever ruined.
He can’t let that happen, though, he just can’t. So he throws on a simple jean and jacket combo and grabs his keys before heading out the door. He drives to Lance’s, legs jittery. It’s stupid—he’s probably overreacting, Lance was probably going about his day as per usual and they would ultimately laugh the incident off as a vodka induced mistake.
In no time he’s parking out the front of Lance’s apartment, and then he’s taking the steps, two at a time and knocking on his door so hard his knuckles hurt. He eyes the staircase and briefly contemplates making a break for it, but then Lance is opening the door, his hair a mess and eyes growing wide once he sees Keith.
“Keith?” Lance asks dubiously, and when no trace of remorse was found in his tone Keith releases a relieved sigh.
“Hey,” he says lamely, shuffling on his feet. “I came to… check how you were. Hunk got you home, right?”
“Yeah,” Lance answers, his body curling in on himself slightly. “I’m fine. Nothing one of Hunk’s infamous hangover breakfasts can’t fix right up,” he laughs, but there’s no humour to it.
“Lance,” Keith swallows down the worry crawling up his throat, “About last night, I’m s—”
“Keith, no, I’m sorry,” Lance cuts in, and he throws Keith a wobbly smile. “I was out of line. We were pretty wasted, or at least I was, and it wasn’t professional of me to put you in that situation.”
Keith wants to yell at him Yes, please do put me in that situation, like forever and always but he holds it in. He nods wordlessly, not making eye contact, and he hears Lance sigh deeply.
“I’ve screwed this up, haven’t I?”
Keith turns to him curiously and sees Lance scoffing at the ground and rubbing his neck nervously.
“Shit, just when we were actually becoming close I go and let my drunk-ass feelings get in the way. Typical.”
Keith feels his brain shut down and then start up again, and then he replays Lance’s words in his mind again and again. Eventually he blurts out, “What?”
Lance startles a bit from his outburst, and then he’s scrambling, “Uh, my um, feelings—for you, that is. Keith, I—isn’t it obvious? Shit I thought everyone knew by now, even you.”
“Um, no,” Keith says, almost hysterical while his breathing becomes shallow. “No, I didn’t know. What the hell? You like me?” He almost screeches, and Lance is gaping at him.
And then Keith stops, his whole world narrowing down to that one incredible fact. “You… you like me.”
Lance chews his bottom lip. “Look, if you want to punch me or something, can you not do it on my face, please?”
“Oh, I’ll do more than punch you,” Keith breathes out right before he closes the remaining distance between them and slams their mouths together.
The force of it stumbles them both back into Lance’s apartment, and Keith closes the door behind them swiftly, still keeping his lips locked to Lance’s. Lance sucks in a quick breath when Keith pulls away for a split second, and then he’s diving back in, taking advantage of Lance’s parted lips and delving his tongue forward hungrily.
Lance moans, long and deep, and then he finally catches up and kisses Keith back with a desperate want, cradling Keith’s face delicately.
Keith lets his hands wonder, trailing along Lance’s chest and gripping tightly around his biceps, their lips moving in tandem, fitting oh so perfectly that is has Keith’s head spinning in the most amazing way. Then finally, when the feeling becomes too much and he has to pull away before his heart combusts, he can feel how flushed his face is, his lips tingling with pleasant aftershocks.
Lance is looking at him dazedly, his fingers seemingly moving subconsciously over Keith’s cheeks.
“We just… you just…” Lance tries, watching Keith closely as if to check it’s really him and not some shapeshifter imposter.
“We did.” Keith assures him, and then it hits him as well. “Oh my God, we did. We just made out. Holy shit.”
“Holy shit,” Lance repeats, but the high pitch renders it more into a question.
“Lance, Lance,” Keith shakes him each time, a grin stretching over his face. “I like you. I really, really like you. You like me too, right?”
“Well, yeah,” Lance says slightly sarcastic, but he’s grinning too now. “Holy shit. I’m hungover as fuck and I really need a nap and I’m so sorry I threw up on you last night, but—holy shit this is the best day ever.”
“You like me,” Keith can’t stop saying it—thinks he’ll never get tired of saying it.
“And you like me,” Lance steps closer, and rests his forehead to Keith’s. “So does this mean you really are the Organa to my Solo?”
Keith can’t believe this man—he laughs, so deep and happily it reaches to his core and unlocks something he hadn’t known was shut. He leans in until their lips are only a hairs length apart, and whispers, “You’re not going to be Solo for much longer if I can help it.”
“I think you can definitely help it,” Lance murmurs before kissing Keith again with as much intensity as before.
Keith melts into it and can’t help but agree - this really is the best day ever.
(1 year later)
“So if anyone has any questions for me, my office hours are written up on the board over here,” Keith calls out to his class as they finish up for the day.
“Oh, I’ve definitely got a question for you,” a voice answers playfully.
Keith looks over and can’t help it when a smile makes its way across his face, finding Lance grinning cheekily at the door. A few of his students linger to watch them interact, but Keith always tries to keep the PDA to a minimum when they’re at school. It’s hard, but he tries.
“Oh yeah? And what’s that?” Keith asks him, watching as Lance reaches into his satchel to pull out a rectangular shaped present.
“Well, my amazing boyfriend is about to publish his very first book, so I was wondering if he’d like to go out and celebrate tonight with all of our friends?”
Keith pretends to mull it over, batting Lance away when he extends a hand to pinch at Keith’s hip. He takes the gift, even though they already have boxes of copies at home. He feels his body grow soft when he looks at Lance, this unadulterated warmth curling around his chest.
He’s snapped out of his gaze when an impatient voice makes herself known, and he turns to Pidge with an exasperated smile.
“Handing up today’s assignment?” He asks her.
“Yes, actually,” she rolls her eyes, but then they land on the gift for a beat before glancing back up. “Is that your book?”
The excitement in her voice surprises him, and he hands it over to her without a second thought. “Yeah. Why don’t you read it for me? Tell me what you think on Monday.”
“Monday? I’ll tell you by tonight,” she promises, thanking him before rushing out of the classroom.
Keith wants to call after her to say it’s not necessary, but then Lance distracts him with a small kiss to his cheek and extends a hand out to him. Keith takes it wordlessly, following Lance out the door and briefly wondering how it is he got so lucky. Perhaps he’ll thank Pidge one day—after all, if she hadn’t told him about his ‘shipping’ status then he and Lance might not even be together. He chases that thought away and instead focuses on his beautiful boyfriend as he talks animatedly about how proud he is of Keith.
“So what should we do before we have to make an appearance with our friends tonight?” Keith asks him as Lance settles up against the hood of the car, letting Lance pull him forward until he’s standing between his spread legs.
“Hmm,” Lance ponders, taking Keith’s hand and kissing his fingers delicately. “How about we go home, where I can do things that will most definitely take you on a journey to a galaxy far, far away,” he waggles his eyebrows suggestively.
Keith snorts, but he can already feel the desire curl deep in his bones. He drops a lingering kiss to Lance’s lips and breathes, “Then lead the way.”