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4. EARTH YEAR 2318.11.26 / 14:09 HOURS


“Not now, Lance.”

The flat dismissal does little to discourage Lance. There's just this thing about Keith that Lance never talks about, even though Lance has always been that person. You know, that person who throws all his cards on the table because just tossing his junk out in the open is easier than dealing with the awkward quiet that’ll follow exposing them. Growing up in a small house with a big family taught him privacy is rarely offered and never guaranteed. Lance's philosophy remains that it's better to tell them yourself and act like you're proud than to let them shame you. Even Pidge knows most of his more unconventional fantasies, whether she asked for the details or not, and Hunk’s nosiness about Lance’s personal business was a big part of how they became friends in the first place.

But this? Nah, this is off-limits. His sexual Kryptonite. And you just don’t go around broadcasting your biggest weakness. That’s self-preservation 101.

But when Keith is mad — like actually punch you in the face, knock you off your feet, break your nose mad — he’s kind of, a little, sort-of hot. To be more specific, Keith is the kind of hot that makes Lance’s toes curl on suggestion alone. He’s the kind of hot Lance thinks about at night, when he’s left alone with nothing but the company of his right hand. He’s the kind of hot that sticks to your skin and nothing short of an ice-cold shower at three in the morning can cool you down.

Looking back, Lance isn't sure when he realized Keith was the best wet dream he never had — and there certainly had been moments in-between the years when he'd genuinely resented Keith for a number of infractions, both imagined and real — but the former has become an even harder image to shake now. It's just that when Keith gets, like, real riled up he does this thing with his mouth that’s stuck between a frown and a snarl. His lips curl and he shows his teeth and his eyes narrow, and it’s all weird, feral and predatory. Probably the Galra blood, Lance reasons, and that’s a whole other side of the fantasy. So yeah, maybe Lance needles Keith harder than he should and screws with his head just for the sake of it, but it gets Lance's motor running every time. Like clockwork. An opening presents itself and Lance figures he could use a pick-me-up right about now.

He makes a move, “Keith, buddy, seriously—”

Lance grabs for his arm and Keith spins around with a harsh glare, seething, “I said not now.”

“Nope. No way. Not doing this. Not goin' to let you go run off by yourself to go pout in a corner. If you got something to say to me, you say it to my face.” He digs his fingers into Keith’s forearm and feels the tendons contracting just below the rough fabric of his flight suit. Size can be deceiving; Keith is crazy strong. But instead of answering to Lance’s pestering, he locks his jaw in frustration and pins Lance with a furious stare. And yeah, maybe Lance is a little pissed too because Keith’s a goddamn fucker.

Despite the three years that passed since Lance flew them straight into an intergalactic war, Keith is still too much of a stick in the mud to relax on a subdued mission. Or let anyone else have fun for that matter. Fighting had been messy after all, but it was also simple, and for the longest time that simplicity was the bulk of their job as Defenders of the Universe. They knew how to fight. With the Galran Empire overthrown, however, instead of warriors with guns and swords, the paladins are intergalactic diplomats. To make sure all these newly freed worlds are on the same page, they attend stuffy meetings and balls and all that dull shit. Any reasonable person can only take so much.

So yeah. Maybe Lance had made an inappropriate pass at the chancellor’s daughter, but it wasn’t like Keith never screwed up these peace-keeping excursions either or that he didn’t suffer from excess adrenaline the way Lance did. Forgive Lance for being a little sexually frustrated on top of everything else. He was bored and he missed shooting stuff.

Keith's irritable voice breaks him from his musings, voice low and dangerous just the way Lance likes it, “Why can’t you just listen to anyone?”

They’ve got thirty ticks, give or take a margin of five, ‘til Shiro gets antsy, marches over and breaks them up, which is always a waste of everyone's time and effort. Lance needs to seal this deal fast. “You wanna burn some steam? Forget the Sim and give me a go.” He pauses, knowing he runs the risk of overshooting, but old habits die hard. “Unless you’re scared.

Keith’s nostrils flare and he twists his arm out of Lance’s grasp. He snaps without breaking any eye contact, “Yeah, Fine. I'll play. I’ll knock you flat on your lazy ass in thirty seconds.”

Shiro clears his throat on the other side of the locker room, but Lance doesn’t even bother to look over. Keith is right where he needs him and not an inch too far. Lance can’t help the wide, self-satisfied smile that spreads across his face, even while Keith continues to scowl at him. They’re safe. Hook, line, and sinker. Lance is a tactical genius, underappreciated in his time.

They make quick work changing out of their flight suits and into training sweats in silence. Lance catalogs what he can in the flash of Keith’s bony knees, round calves, taut thighs — Lance has always been a leg guy — and he itches with anticipation. It won’t go anywhere, it never does, but the chase can be good. The chase can be real good.

By the time they make it to the training deck, they’re taking the typical jabs at each other. This is all familiar territory. Lance forever dreams of besting Keith at something but what that something is becomes blurred with time. And they both know Keith is fast, quicker than Lance even on his best days and Keith’s worst, but Lance is wiry enough to out-maneuver him if he doesn’t lose focus.

They don’t waste much time. They’re awkward when they train together and Keith never goes as hard against Lance as he can. But Lance isn’t thwarted and he goes in for the kill, tripping Keith up and shoving him to the ground.

Keith gasps when Lance grabs a fistful of his hair, shoving his face against the ground. “So you like it rough, beautiful?”

“Cut that shit out,” Keith hisses, breath puffing loud against the cool floor as he strains to sneer at Lance over his shoulder. “Did you want a fight? Or are you tryin’ to get me in bed now too?”

Ah. Well if that’s not the million dollar question, right? Lance licks his lips and cocks his head with a sly smile. If he’s gonna drive them down this dead-end road then he may as well go full throttle and enjoy the lights before they crash. Keith is pretty into all that high-risk shit anyway. “Mm. I’m pretty down for either, you know? What’s your preference, pretty boy?”

“Ugh. You’re so gross,” Keith grunts, a flash of white teeth before he swings his left arm back against Lance’s elbow and easily breaks the hold.

Lance scrambles back to his feet fast enough but he catches Keith grin at him, a cocksure tilt to one corner of his mouth. Lance hesitates at the sight of that smile, as he’s prone to do, and that’s all it takes. Keith strikes him with a sharp elbow to the chest and he hits the ground hard enough to knock the air out of his lungs. He’s wheezing, pathetic defeated sounds, as Keith straddles his waist and shoves his forearm hard against his throat, face hovering just inches above. If Lance could breath, he'd ask for a time-out. As it is, they simply stare at each other for a minute or two and for all things holy Keith is dead serious, lips a tight line and eyes flashing with fury.

And Lance loses it.

God you’re so hot,” he blurts out instead, as soon as he can speak. Because fuck dignity. Fuck common sense. Fuck Keith for God’s sake. Lance just wants him, wants him, wants him and he’s tired of waiting for Keith to make the first move. If Lance gets punched in the face for this, then at least he’ll know where he stands. Either way, his cards are just gonna be thrown all over this god-forsaken table.

But Keith doesn’t hit him. He just stops dead and a line of sweat beads above his brow, falling down his face with a glistening trail. Pieces of his bangs are matted to his forehead and his whole mess of hair curls at the ends, in that cute way it does every time Lance catches him after he’s been rolling around on the training deck. He opens his mouth and closes it again, panting heavy straight in Lance’s face. He finally chokes out, strained “You. What?"

Keith continues to stare and Lance squirms, suddenly awkward, struggling beneath the weight of Keith’s body where it still sits firm against his chest. This was a bad, bad plan. A very bad plan. Clearly he’s an idiot, but it's too late to back down now so he swallows, puffing up with all the confidence he can muster despite how red his face is. Good thing Lance always meant to go down in a blaze of glory. “I said you’re hot. Like, your flight suit is way too tight and you have a really nice butt hot. Like, I want to bang you in the showers hot. I mean, dude, I get half hard just watching you go after the gladiator sometimes.”

Keith’s faces shifts from bewilderment to confusion, brows furrowed. His voice comes out an incredulous whisper. "You... You were actually being serious earlier?"

"Uh. Well. Half," Lance breathes, feeling all the false confidence leave him in a rush. "Know it won't go anywhere, y'know?" He averts his eyes as he contemplates his impending doom at the hand of his one-time arch nemesis. Lance will never live this down. Good job, he thinks, confessing your super creepy, one-sided crush on someone you've declared undying hatred for on at least three separate occasions. Dinner tonight is going to be so awkward.

"But I... I thought you were making fun of me," Keith's eyes narrow and Lance can't quite pinpoint his expression.

And huh. That's weird. Why would Keith even think... Lance opens his mouth to say something else, which is a terrible idea because every time he speaks he only makes this situation even more uncomfortable, but running his mouth is the only personal defense tactic he has left. Keith, however, spares him further embarrassment in the most unexpected way. He yanks Lance up by his shirt collar and kisses him open-mouthed, hard, eager, and wet. His lips are surprisingly soft, in stark contrast with his harsh movements and the grazing of his teeth. Lance goes pliant, letting Keith settle the rest of his weight on top of his chest, laying there and pinning Lance down like a anchor.

Lance swears his body will burn a hole right through the ground.


1. EARTH YEAR 2314.8.13 / 12:03 HOURS

“He’s staring at me.”

“Maybe he thinks you’re cute,” Hunk offers.

“Dude,” Lance whispers, leaning over his tray. He gives a perfunctory glance around the room at the sea of uniformed cadets lost in their own conversations. He's eight weeks into this freshmen year and things are going downhill fast. “Have you seen him on the Flight Sim? He is obviously a demon, sent from the fiery depths of hell, and he’s after my soul.”

Hunk is kind enough to look mildly alarmed, tossing a wary glance at Keith on the other side of the mess hall. He tilts his head in, dropping his own voice to whisper with Lance. “You think?” Lance gives a sage nod and Hunk's brow furrows. He looks back toward Lance with renewed concern. "Wait. Did you crash the Sim again?"

"That's not important."

"Weren't the program placements today?"

"That's not important," Lance hisses. "That guy beat Shiro’s record. Freaking Shiro, man. He can't be human.”

"Lance, buddy, are you sure you're alright?"

Lance ignores Hunk's question and continues to glower. And that jerk across the room, with that stupid mess of bad hair, is still staring at Lance like an idiot. Well, that’s just perfect isn’t it. Lance puts on his most charming grin and winks in his direction, mouthing suck my dick before plopping an indistinguishable piece of dehydrated fruit in his mouth.

Keith scowls and flips him off.


5. EARTH YEAR 2318.11.30 / 08:42 HOURS

Three agonizing days come and go in silence after Keith feels Lance up in the middle of the training deck. It’s one day, Lance thinks, for each year he’s spent in space convincing himself he hates Keith. It’s one day to consider each misstep that left him tumbling down this staircase. It’s one day to consider each new and strange tilt to their rivalry. Falling for Keith is a lot like a slow descent through the seven circles of hell.

Things are kinda starting to feel like old times when they run into a minor scuffle on a former Galra outpost and a underground group of loyalists scale an attack. They fight hard because they always do and by the time they go to level Voltron, their enemies know they’re done for. They win easily and make quick work but for the first time in months, they return to the castle bruised and dirty but still hyped up on adrenaline. Lance is overcome with the need to work the last of that energy off on Keith.

“You alright, man?” Hunks asks, tired and relieved as ever that they made it back in one piece.

“Never better. I always bounce back.” Lance answers with a lazy grin. He stretches his aching shoulder until the joint pops. It’d been a ground fight for the most part and Lance was covered in ashy alien soil, which felt like engine grime and smelled like exhaust fumes. “Gonna go hit the showers though.” He glances around until he spots Keith pulling off his helmet and chatting with Shiro. “Did’ya hear that — I’m gonna go hit the showers.”

Keith blinks in his direction and tilts his head, like he has no idea why Lance is yelling. So, he’s either screwing with Lance or is just being an idiot. Both possibilities are equally plausible, and when it comes to Keith it’s impossible to tell the difference.

Innuendo out the window, Lance gives a long-suffering sigh. This is what he has to work with. Maybe in another reality he’d take Keith on an actual date, get to know him the regular way, and they could go to movies and share an ice cream sundae. And they’d hook up because Keith would actually understand what the heck Lance was saying at any given time.

Then again that’d probably be weird too because it’s Keith and even though his tongue has literally been down Lance’s throat, the idea sounds ridiculous in any reality.

By the time he makes it to the showers, his energy has tumbled and he’s willing to admit that he actually hurts. He's given up on Keith joining him for a partner-aided cool down and the prestige wears off. This is usually when he starts to forget how far they’ve come. He feels again just a little like a scared kid trying to make a name for himself against all the odds. What a mess. As he pulls off his flight suit he catches the painful splotches of red and purple scattered across his skin. He remembers when violence became a routine part of his life but not when he started to enjoy it.

He wonders if this is normally how it feels to grow up. He wonders why it's only now that he feels so alone.


2. EARTH YEAR 2316.7.19 / 02:21 HOURS

The hangers are always a tad too cold, a stark reminder that you're in the middle of space and light years from everything you once loved. Being down there in the lion's den, as it were, makes you feel so small.

Keith speaks in a hard, chilled voice. “I still think about leaving."

Lance stays quiet and lets the soft electrical buzz of the Black Lion punctuate the silence, watching Keith out of the peripherals of his vision. Back in flight school, they trained them for the worst-case-scenarios in combat. They talked about losing members of their squads and how to maintain morale, recognize the signs of grief, that sort of thing. Lance never thought to liken it to losing a limb, but when Shiro disappears he watches Keith thrash around like a shark that’s lost it’s fins.

It’s been three months, which is a long time to miss someone, but a short time to grow up as much as they have. Lance certainly feels older, but that’s sort of what makes it so weird. He’s old enough to acknowledge and accept this responsibility with little regret, but young enough to mourn for the life he didn’t get to have. In that other life, perhaps, he’d be normal college student who’s plans and worries only went as far as his next big exam. It’s easy to feel young when you don’t have to think too hard about the future beyond a single semester.

And Keith has far too much on his plate. Even Lance, beneath that horrible sting of jealousy, finally sees it for what it is. The white hot anger Lance felt watching Keith get stronger, faster, smarter, better, all while Lance stayed stagnant on the sidelines, went cold the moment Lance saw how little Keith wanted it. That boiling discomfort now is nothing more than an empty ache in the pit of his stomach. No - Lance doesn't want to watch Keith fail. Lance wants to help, to ease that burden, but he has no idea how. His mind just replays that frightening image of a glassy eyed Keith, shaking, over and over and over again. Undignified, Lance had thought, but now he fights that a horrible swell of pity. Luck has never been on their side.

“And just because, you know, I’m not cut out for this,” Keith continues, talking more to himself than Lance. “I don’t want this. I never did. But I can’t ask this of of anyone if I’m not willing to do it myself, right? I can’t be that person. But I can't do this. I can't take care of people.”

“Nah. You’re a good leader,” Lance says in a lazy voice, trying his best to sound casual. He leans back against the metal railing, shoves his hands down his pockets, and stares up at the open hatch above his head. He wonders why he crawled inside in the first place and why Keith didn’t ask him to leave.

“No,” Keith says, because he’s awful and an ass and can never agree with a single thing Lance says. “I’m not.”


6. EARTH YEAR 2319.01.17 / 19:08 HOURS

“Shut up.” Keith half-pushes Lance into the mattress, palms gliding over his waist and down his hips. He kisses Lance, rough and needy, just like the first time. Just like every time. “We need to talk.”

Lance would like to point out that’s hard to do when Keith has his mouth otherwise occupied, but he’d also just as soon ignore those ominous words. Here, in his bedroom they are as secluded as they can be and even a fight feels uncomfortably intimate. Keith has an odd way of handling things.

“I don’t want you sleeping with anyone else,” Keith mumbles against his lips, a strange desperate tinge to his voice. “I don’t care about the flirting, but don’t mess around behind my back.”

"Yeah, cool. We're exclusive. Got it," Lance huffs. His voice trails off into a moan as Keith snakes a hand between them, trailing his touch all the way down to fondle Lance's balls through the fabric of his pajamas. Turns out Keith also has an odd way of punishing him. “Had no idea you were such a — Ah — r-romantic.”

Lance finds it hard to believe they still haven’t progressed far beyond awkward post-battle make-outs, quick kisses in dark hallways, and some heavy petting, but they are a work in progress. Labeling this thing they got going might be preemptive, all things considered. Their lives are already complicated enough and how do you even start dating someone you already live with? They just let instinct lead the way. Keith leaves reddened fingerprints along Lance’s thighs and Lance digs his nails into the shallow valleys between each of Keith’s ribs with morbid curiosity, touching all those spots where splotches of purple skin aren’t always bruises.

A knee wiggles between Lance’s thighs and the bed creaks. Keith bites down on his collarbone, canines a tad sharper they should be, and Lance squirms. It’s a stupid request anyway, like sex with anyone else would ever compare to this, but Lance supposes he dug his own grave by propositioning an attractive sentry on their last mission. He doesn’t even mind so long as Keith is the one to bury him alive. How’s that for militant fatalism?

They suffocate each other with truths between all their old lies.


3. EARTH YEAR 2318.12.24 / 09:00 HOURS

Winning wars isn't as simple as it sounded back in Lance’s World History classes. Overthrowing an empire is the easy part, believe it or not, because it’s easy to recognize pure evil. All the gray that falls between gets real fuzzy and there is still so, so much work to do. Allura proclaimed that she'd pick up the remaining responsibilities herself if that’s what it takes as the Altean heir. And here Lance is back on Earth, shoes sinking into real dirt, surrounded by real grass, hearing real cicadas buzzing in the trees, and breathing air that smells so much like home it brings actual tears to his eyes. He’s going back up, he knows it the moment he steps outside, even though he doesn’t have to.

They don't say how Allura and Coran don't have anything else, unlike the humans who forever have pieces of their lives scattered on Earth, a place still alive and real and full of life. A nagging thought eats at his core.

And it’ll be hard, especially when his mother is holding him, and who knows what they’ll say not knowing where he’s been all these years, but Lance knows he’s going back up. It’d be pretty boring up there without him after all.

“You OK?” A dry voice pipes up.

Lance glances toward Keith behind him, as he leans heavy against Blue’s frame. He’s been quiet since they landed, hanging back with Allura and Shiro while the other paladins talk and laugh about their homes, their former schools, and families. Lance feels heavy and tired, a little mad at himself for not thinking about it until right then. He smiles, chest tight with the words they don’t ever say. “You wanna come with me?”

Lance won’t push it and he knows the answer he'll get before he even asks. But Keith wavers and and his eyes dart to the ground. Just for a split second, he thinks of saying yes. He almost, almost says it and Lance’s heart screams.

“Nah, I’ll pass.”


7. EARTH YEAR 2319.02.14 / 15:24 HOURS

The Red Lion likes both of them. Well, at least Red likes Lance in the same way you like your in-laws. They’re there and they’re technically family but if push comes to shove you’re not really on their side. Lance flew with her when Shiro was still missing but she was never really his. It's cool though. It’d always been a tad unnerving, being able to feel the residuals of Keith’s energy in there but he also figured it was a hundred times worse for Keith in the Black Lion. He’d missed Shiro so, so much.

Those memories tug at Lance now, despite the years that lay between them. Although they've long since recovered Shiro and their hardest battles are behind them, Lance still remembers how it felt to hold the broken pieces. He still remembers Keith's trembling hands hovering over a control panel. He still remembers thinking and saying careless things he shouldn't have. He still remembers being so unsure about how to fix it.

But Lance forces himself back to the present, here in Red's cockpit under very different circumstances. Now Keith is here too, careful, drawing maps across Lance’s body just in case they ever forget the way home. He's never held even an ounce of it against Lance. He's never let those wrongs color how he feels.

And they’re getting better at this. The slide of their tongues remains clumsy and raw - moving both around skin and their words and maybe that’s just them - but practice is helping. As much as Lance loves the thrill of their hurried makeout sessions after space excursions and halfhearted arguments, this is nice too. Keith kisses rough but his hands are soft, those divergent layers of his personality coming full bloom right through his touch.

They grind against each other and Lance’s back presses hard against the hull and he shoves back against Keith, bodies reaching for as much pressure as possible. They’re moving from the wall now, grasping and tugging at each other and the energy shifts.

“Gotta say,” Lance licks his lips, groaning into another wet kiss before parting again. “Always thought my first time would be in a car.”

“Classy,” Keith mutters, shoving him down into the pilot’s seat.

He straddles Lance’s lap, knees squeezed snugly on either side of his hips, and his mouth is back hot against Lance’s lips. Who knows where this started and the possibilities flash behind his eyes. He thinks of running his mouth on the training deck, letting his secret slip out, but thinks now it was it long before that. Did Lance fall in love with Keith the night he chose a life with him over a life on Earth? Was it the night he sat with Keith for hours in the hull of the Black Lion? Or did Lance love him the moment he saw him, dark eyes and messy hair, untouchable and sullen, on the other side of a school cafeteria?

It’s all a blur now, lights on the side of the road. They hit the ground and they accelerate.

Keith’s palms find their way beneath Lance’s shirt and he shoves against the skin, finding all those soft points that make Lance moan. This is going to come back to screw them both over the next time they’re on a mission and all they can think of is their heavy breathing over the comms — and fuck does that turn Lance on — and the memory of being all over each other. This is a bad, bad idea and Lance loves it. It was his idea, of course.

And Lance doesn’t ever go down without a fight. He tugs Keith’s shirt over his head and grapples with his belt until it clanks to the ground. Keith pushes him back down and Lance’s back arches in the chair. It’s not exactly comfortable, and there’s not nearly enough room for both of them, but the welcoming slap of skin makes up for it. Something about the mild discomfort makes it feel authentic, like it feels so far from perfect that it's just right for them.

“S’ I sorta like it when you’re rough.”

“So I’ve noticed,” Keith hums, giving Lance that cocksure grin that makes him spread his knees. They grind against each other and Keith undoes the button of Lance’s jeans, leaving the motion frustratingly unfinished as his cock strains against the denim.

Dammit Keith. I’was thinkin’ ‘bout this all day when we were runnin’ drills and I could hear you panting into the comms. Y’always get so worked up. Can’t stand it.”

Keith growls a reply against his skin, whatever he says lost in the vibrations on Lance’s throat, but it’s something filthy and guttural that warms Lance to his bones. “Show me,” he says, ragged but clearer as he backs off to look Lance in the eye, “Show me how much you wanted it.”

Eyes hooded behind dark lashes, Lance smirks up at Keith to hide the small pathetic noise in his throat. “Don’t — Don’t stop talking, ‘right?” He trails a hand down his bare stomach and slips his fingers beneath the waistband of his boxers, lust-filled gaze focused on Keith as he pulls himself out. He gives a tentative stroke and Keith takes a sharp inhale. “Like it when you watch too. S’hot.”

“Yeah. Good,” Keith mumbles. He balances himself with one hand digging into Lance’s shoulder so his other is free to lazily rub himself through his pants.

Lance continues, more confident, as he twists his wrist and gives a playful flick to his cockhead. “Like that, babe?”

Keith’s mouth twitches. He likes to pretend he hates the pet names — Lance knows better — and that frustrated line appears between his brows. This is always the best part. “Hold up. I gotta—”

Keith climbs off to kick off his boots and shimmies out of his pants and boxers. He has no qualms about being naked, and Lance had seen him more than a dozen times even before they started messing around, but it never gets old. The soft red glow of the cockpit accentuates each curve of bone under taut skin, peppered with tiny scars and old, fading bruises. He’s fully hard — worked up indeed — and the way his cock curves makes Lance squirm in anticipation.

“C’mere,” Lance lets his left hand fall back down to fondle himself and he motions Keith forward with his other hand, grabbing hold of Keith’s hip as soon as he’s close enough. “You still wanna do this?”

“Of course I do,” Keith huffs, shoving Lance’s shoulders back down into the seat. “Why? Are you backing out?”

“No way!” Lance digs into the pocket of his loosened jeans and pulls out the bottle of lube — a prize won only through an infinitely awkward and scarring conversation with Coran — and unscrews the lid. He lowers his voice, serious, “But if you change your mind…”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m good. But sometime today Lance.”

If you’d told Lance, at any point in his life really, that he’d be fingering Keith in the hull of a giant robot lion he’d never have believed it. But who would? Reality is weird. His life is weird. And Altean lubricant comes out of the bottle much warmer than KY brand — something Lance only knows from the masturbatory curiosity that came with being fifteen — and yeah, this is weird. But it’s also really nice as he eases his middle finger inside and watches Keith’s eyes flutter shut and his mouth fall open.

Lance intends to move slow but Keith urges him on, rocking his hips back against his hand, demanding a second finger, and then a third, and everything starts to blend together. Every now and then Lance hits something that makes Keith’s legs squeeze on either side of Lance’s hips and then with another turn, Lance makes him moan.

The rest happens in a daze. Keith shoves Lance’s hand away and poises himself above his cock. He eases down and Lance’s toes curl. Blunt nails dig into Lance’s arms and Keith’s breath is heavy on the shell of his ear. Up, and then down, back up. Lance matches Keith’s rhythm with his hand. They’re not going to last long and in the recess of his mind, Lance can already feel his orgasm building strong and steady. “Why—” he chokes. “Why haven’t we— haven’t we been doing this— Th’whole time.”

“I— Dunno.”

“Ugh. Keith. I could’a been screwing you for years. Why didn’t you tell me?!”

"God, you're embarrassing. What the hell are you even saying?" Keith laughs, the sound light and cool just before his breath hitches. He’s glossy eyed and flushed, more beautiful than Lance has ever seen him, and he’ll immortalize this scene forever. Keith dips his hand lower and fondles his balls, jerking himself faster with the other, and Lance steadies him with firm hands on his hips. Keith groans, wrecked and callous, and Lance can't believe this is actually happening.

“You coming yet?” Lance’s voice is low. He digs his heels into the seat and squeezes Keith harder. “C’mon. That’s it.”

Keith’s hips snap forward and Lance loses his last ounce of control, coming inside Keith with an unbidden string of obscenities he doesn’t think he’s ever said out loud. Keith whispers his name, a tender and delicate sound, and spills onto Lance’s stomach with trembling legs.

They come down from the high in bleary awareness and the mechanical hum overcomes the sounds of their breathing. Keith presses himself against Lance, managing to squeeze their bodies together in the chair, being mindless of his own come making their bellies stick together. Lance threads his hands through Keith’s hair and exhales. They kiss one more time, slow and breathless, before Keith buries his nose in the crook of Lance's neck. His body is warm, for very different reasons now, and his chest is full.

Beneath that unexpected wave of emotion — and the looming threat of naming that emotion with far more perilous words — Lance suddenly laughs. He tugs playfully at a lock of Keith’s hair. “Hey look, man, we fogged up the windows.”


8. EARTH YEAR 2320.11.26 / 11:42 HOURS

They are both liars. This is their common ground. Keith's altruism, heroism, and inherent goodness is everything that made Lance want to dissect him from the beginning. It was all a facade. Beneath that mask is the same sinking mud Lance is made of. What Keith doesn't realize is that the thing he believes makes him a monster is exactly what makes him human.

Survival is not the objective of soldiers. Finding the strength to push their own humanity down for the sake of the greater good - that is the objective of soldiers. Neither of the were made for this. They just want to live for themselves.

Now they sit in the Castle's control room, millions of stars above, just like gazing at the night sky on Earth and it bridges them home. Time doesn't feel so static like this, as though they're rooted to the ground, real for once.

"So, why'd you join the Galaxy Garrison anyway?"

Keith is quiet for a minute and Lance swallows. It's a rhetorical question. Lance knows, no matter what Keith says, the answer is Shiro. It doesn't bother Lance like it used to.

"I wanted," Keith's gaze is set on the sky, eyes glassy and clear. "I just... wanted to be someone."

Funny, Lance thinks. He'd give the exact same answer and it'd be just as untruthful as it coming from Keith.

But Lance doesn't mind Keith's flaws. He doesn't mind those painfully human traits. He understands the need for self-preservation and pride. They're honest with each other even if they're not with themselves, and Lance loves Keith's ugliness as much as Keith loves his.

The funny thing about falling in love is you don't realize you're falling until you hit the ground.