“Why can’t I stay home?” Keith whines, crossing his arms as he watches Shiro pack his small suitcase, lying open on the bed. Even now, Keith’s red one is mostly empty despite the fact that their flight leaves early tomorrow morning. A few shirts and pants line the bottom, and his toothbrush is already wrapped up in a little plastic bag, stuffed into one of the smaller pockets.
Shiro’s almost finished with his, and Keith knows he should continue packing his own, but he’s too lazy. Flopping onto Shiro’s bed, he studies the cracks on the ceiling and the place where the plaster has begun to chip away because of old water damage. He blows a lock of hair out of his face.
“Because you haven’t seen Allura in over a year, and I’m not leaving my baby brother to potentially burn down the apartment.” Shiro’s face comes into view, his voice stern and his dark gray eyes leave no room for an argument.
Keith will still try though. It’s in his nature.
“That was one time, Shiro; get over it.”
Shaking his head, his brother drops a pile of Keith’s own clothes directly on his face. He soon discovers that it’s not pleasant to have the taste of your own underwear on your tongue. “You’re coming to LA with me, and that’s that.”
“But college starts up again next week,” Keith tries to argue, fumbling for any form of excuse. He twirls a pair of his boxers on his finger, staring back at Shiro who looks unimpressed with the rebuttal, his metal fingers tapping impatiently against his bicep.
“And you’ll be back in time for your last year. We’re only going for a few days, four at tops.”
Scowling, Keith chucks his boxers at his brother and laughs, watching as they perfectly glide through the air and land with a plop on Shiro’s head. His brother scrunches up his nose, his pink scar wrinkling, and gingerly places the offending garment into Keith’s luggage propped up by the foot of the bed. He flops back down, the entertainment over with. “As long as I don’t get dragged into your and Allura’s weird obsession with the pop singer...what’s his name? Lake, Luke, Lance?”
“How many times do I have to tell you this, it’s his music,” Shiro sighs, clearly done with this conversation before it even begins. “His songs are written from the heart. It would be an honor to see him perform live.”
“Here we go again,” Keith grumbles, “His music is generic and boring, and I bet he’s never actually written a song in his life. And I know he’s not your type, ‘cause you’re tragically straight, so your obsession informs us--” Keith gestures solely to himself “--that you have really bad taste in music.”
So maybe Keith has never actually listened to one of Lance’s songs before, preferring to stay far away from that genre, but that’s beside the point.
“Okay, Mr. MCR, have fun trying to watch them perform live. Oh wait,” Shiro smirks, “You can’t.” The sound of his suitcase zipping closed sharply punctures Keith’s ears as he narrows his eyes.
“That’s a low blow.”
“You better finish packing by tonight or you’re coming to LA with what’s on your body!” Shiro calls after him as Keith flips up his middle finger, walking out of the bedroom.
“Oh, Shiro,” Keith practically sings, “Your celebrity crush is being talked about on TV.”
“I don’t like him like that,” Shiro says as he races over and practically throws himself onto their small couch. His feet land in Keith’s lap, and he releases a startled “oof,” the heals of Shiro’s feet digging into his skin.
The television light washes over their features as the sun begins to set, bathing the room in a touch of darkness. Keith groans when Shiro turns up the volume even though they could perfectly hear it before.
“Lance McClain picked up six music association awards last night, just in time for his new album, Blue Lion , to drop double platinum,” the reporter states with a fake smile on her face. “I caught up with the singer myself on the red carpet.”
What a dumb name for an album. Where’s the poetry? The hidden meaning?
The camera is a little shaky as it switches to Lance and the same woman, with her straight brown hair, fake smile, and wide eyes, on the red carpet. The singer stands there in all his glory, his slicked back hair highlighting his large, impossibly blue eyes and a grin that shows off his perfect white teeth and flawless brown skin.
“I just wanted to say that none of this would have been possible without all of you, my fans,” he winks, and Keith wonders how many girls and boys are experiencing a heart attack while Keith has to control his gagging reflex.
What a loser.
“Thank you so much for buying the albums and coming to the concerts,” Lance continues, his lips close to the microphone as he flashes another obnoxious smile. “You're the reason I love what I do. I can officially say that I have the best fans in the world. Thank you.”
“This dude’s such a phony with the ‘oh you guys are the reason I love what I do’ bullshit,” Keith mocks, imitating Lance’s voice poorly. “Please, he probably does it to get money and girls.”
Shiro holds up a hand, silencing him. “First, he’s genuine, Keith, trust me on this. Second, if you knew anything about him, you would know that he’s bisexual, so if you really want to make an argument, it should be ‘to get money and girls and boys.’”
“I hope Allura doesn’t mind this little man crush of yours, since she’s your fiancée and not Lance.”
“It’s not a crush,” Shiro repeats, “My dream would be to be able to hang out with him for a day not date him. You on the other hand…”
“Oh my God, Takashi, ever since I told you I was gay, you try to set me up with every non-straight guy you know. Well that one--” he sharply points to the television and Lance McClain’s frozen face and blaring smile as the television remains trapped on pause “--is not my type.”
A line of people are already waiting outside the club by the time Lance, Hunk, and Pidge arrive. The car screeches to a stop in front of the curb, and the valet opens the door to allow Lance and Pidge to exit while Hunk hands over the keys. Taking a deep breath, Lance soaks in the musty city night air, composed of smog and gasoline and maybe the barest hint of a breeze on its way to carry the stench away.
Either way, Los Angeles is perfect for what it is.
He pretends not to hear the screams of his many fans waiting in line. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
“Oh wow, look who it is. Lance McClain’s girlfriend, the fantabulous, fabulous Nyma,” Pidge mutters, sarcasm rolling off her tongue. Breaking through his thoughts, Lance finds his girlfriend walking directly towards him, the hem of her blue dress blowing slightly to the sides as she gracefully moves in her tall heels. The hue matches perfectly with her light caramel skin.
Lance sends Pidge a somewhat disappointed, somewhat humored look and leans in to hug Nyma. A faint, familiar whiff of lemons from her hair wafts into his nose, prickling him. “Hey, babe. I’m so happy to see you.”
“Thank you,” Nyma replies sweetly, and then she flicks her gaze to the side. “Pidge, Hunk,” she nods to them, using a monotone voice.
“Nyma,” Hunk replies back, aiming to remain friendly. He fiddles with the orange band wrapped around his forehead to keep back his dark hair.
“You look beautiful as always,” Lance comments, backing out of her embrace as quickly as he can. Only Hunk notices this. Pidge, pushing up her glasses, continues to glare.
“I do, don’t I?” She twirls, her almost translucent dress lifting off her thighs but otherwise the material hugs her body in all the right places. “Wait ‘til you see what I have planned for tomorrow.”
“Uh, tomorrow?” Lance questions with a raised eyebrow, a confused expression lingering on his features. Tomorrow, tomorrow, what in the world is tomorrow?
“My birthday, dummy, don’t tell me you forgot.” The smile on Nyma’s lips drops a few degrees as she searches his eyes. Lance stays perfectly neutral though, his emotions impassive until a small smile brightens his features.
“Of course not,” Lance replies too quickly. “I have something planned especially for you.”
Nyma giggles. “You better sing for me; I told all my friends about this.”
“Of course, babe, only the best for my girlfriend,” Lance weakly laughs. Why do they still put up with each other? He knows that Nyma’s not interested in him, only his fame.
Arching his head back, he gazes at the black sky and white stars that are barely visible with the pollution. Actually, Lance notices as he frowns, those two dots are drifting across the sky. In reality, it had been a plane. How disappointing.
The full moon is visible though. It reflects across his irises until a sprinkling of clouds hide the moon from view.
Maybe LA isn’t as chalked up as it’s made out to be.
He misses Cuba and its comforting starry sky and breezy summer nights. He misses Varadero beach and how the sand cushioned his back as he listened to the waves crashing onto the shore. At least his family is with him, well in the same country at least. Not exactly in the same state anymore. Either way, he couldn’t have left them behind.
“Wait--” Nyma switches positions, now facing the street “--something’s wrong.”
“Yeah, you’re here,” Pidge mutters none too quietly, and Lance elbows her. “What? It was supposed to be friends’ night out,” she whispers this time.
Hunk shrugs. “That’s kind of what I was expecting too.”
“I know, I know, and I’ll make it up to you guys.”
“With pizza and video games?” Hunk practically pleads with puppy dog eyes and a miniature pout. Pidge quickly joins in, her eyes appearing larger behind her round wire frames.
For once, the suffocating city air and the thick, sticky blanket of heat cutting through his jacket doesn’t bother him. “Definitely.” Fist bumping both of them, he seals the deal.
“Guys, where’s the paparazzi?” Nyma interrupts them, tucking a lock of hair behind her ears, shyly searching the crowd. A hopeful expression lights up her eyes.
“I’m sure they’ll be here soon; they always are,” Lance sighs, hands sliding into his pockets as he hangs back with Hunk and Pidge.
“Because we all know how you like to post about stuff like this, Nyma,” Pidge pipes up again because she can’t get enough of making sarcastic comments. Lance doesn’t blame her.
As if summoned by her words alone, three black vans come roaring up to the curb, barely stopping before reporters fly out from behind the doors. The sound of the engines are replaced by the clicking from cameras and the incredibly forceful voices of the people behind them. Lance stumbles back, surrounded by the wild screams of the people who want to make a fool out of him and the impossibly louder screams of the people who desperately want something from him, even if it’s just an autograph.
Nyma basks in the attention, blowing kisses at the paparazzi and posing. Hunk, bless his soul, attempts to drag Lance into the club and out of reach of everyone around him. Everything’s too potent and the paparazzi is too determined.
The camera flashes blind Lance as he tries to back up, throwing a hand in front of his face in hopes of marring the photos they’re here to capture. When will this ever end? Oh, that’s right.
“So have you mapped out every minute of Lance’s schedule?” Keith asks as he buckles himself into the plane seat. Diagonally across from him, he spots a baby no older than two years old, and he desperately hopes that the little one is not a screamer.
There’s a ding and the overhead, universal symbol for a seat buckle blinks to life. Keith already beat them to it. Shiro hasn’t though, and after a tremendously beautiful battle of shoving their carry-on luggage into the compartment above, he steps over Keith, gracefully maneuvering his way to the window seat.
That is one argument Keith unfortunately lost, and now he is stuck with the aisle seat for a few hours.
“No, I leave that to his fan club; I’m not that stalkerish,” Shiro finally responds, a little breathless and a little sleep deprived from having woken up at four in the morning.
It’s something Keith is somewhat pissed about--usually waking up at ten in the summertime--but he’s glad to witness the fact that Shiro fares worse than him.
Phone on one leg, book on the other, and one white headphone already hooked into his ear, Keith’s prepared to ignore his brother for the rest of the flight. “Wow, I thought you were the president of his club.”
“No, I have a life.” Shiro’s head already slumps back against the seat, reclining it as much as he can manage without pissing off the person behind them.
“Could have fooled me.”
Before he can retort, Keith places the other earbud in and cranks up his music, drowning out Shiro’s stink eye with Fall Out Boy’s gorgeous lyrics.
Lance had been lying on his family's couch, feet propped up on the coffee table, face mask hardening on his skin, and a superhero movie he has seen a million times with his nieces and nephews blasting across the television screen. Though now, he desperately claws off the mask goop before it’s finished the treatment. Mourning the loss of the perfectly good face cream, he hears the sweet voice of his mother filter into the living along with the somewhat familiar voice of a movie producer.
“Mijo,” his mamá begins, coming into view with her curls brown hair in a tight bun and her lips in an equally tight frown, “this man…”
“Lotor,” the film producer provides pleasantly. His long white hair is tied back, though a few shorter strands hang over his broad shoulders, and his eyes hide behind aviator glasses.
“He says you have a meeting?” she cocks an eyebrow, silently asking if she should kick the stranger out of their house, and subtly, he shakes his head.
“We did, but at the office. I thought I had that scheduled for next week.” Lance crosses his arms, wincing slightly as an explosion shakes the wall behind him. Realizing in his hurry that he never actually shut off the television, he swiftly reaches for the remote.
Lotor holds his hands up in surrender. “I apologize for barging into your home, but I have wonderful news that I thought couldn’t wait. They said I could find you here.” Lance sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. This was supposed to be his day of relaxation.
“I should get out of your way,” his mother announces, though clearly she’s not too pleased.
“Lo siento, mamá, I didn’t mean to bring work home.” He kisses her on the cheek, an act of appeasement.
“It’s alright, Lance, I hope this visit turns out to be a happy one,” and Lance’s mother leaves the two alone in the spacious living room with large windows and sunlight breaking through the glass panes.
Sitting on the couch, he gestures for Lotor to take residence on the loveseat next to him. “So what’s this all about.”
Finally, the movie producer takes off his sunglasses, revealing his cold, emotionless eyes. “I can get you that part in the movie. It’s almost a 100% guaranteed. Ju--”
Lance practically leaps from the couch, clapping his hands together, and a giddy smile consumes his whole face. “Seriously? Because that would be amazing. This is the chance of a lifetime, a chance for me to branch out of just a singing career. I can’t than--”
Lotor holds up one hand, stalling Lance in his rambling. “There is one condition that the director wanted me to make clear with you.”
His smile only drops a fraction. “Of course, I should have expected something. What is it? Do I have to dye my hair for the part or is it being filmed in a different country or--”
“You have too much exposure with the paparazzi; it needs to stop, Lance. It’s bad for business,” Lotor blatantly states, and Lance’s smile is completely erased from his face now. His shoulders sag; the difference is easily noticeable to both occupants in the room.
“I’m sorry, but it’s difficult. It’s not like I want them around all the time; they’re practically glued to me,” Lance explains, wondering how many tabloids hold a photo of him in front of that club. It’s not his fault Nyma tweeted their whereabouts.
It’s not his fault the paparazzi are a pack of starving wolves.
“Figure it out.” Lotor’s gaze is less than hopeful as he stands, clearly finished with this conversation. He’s slowly inches to the door when he decides to face Lance again. “Or we might have to drop you.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Unhelpfully, the producer shrugs. “Director’s orders. Keep your face out of the tabloids for a few days and I’ll have an acting position for you on Monday.”
“I’ll try,” Lance replies earnestly. Lotor eyes him carefully, roaming his face, and his mouth settles into a distasteful line.
“You might just want to stay home.”
LA, along with everything else Keith despises, blisters with heat and is ear piercingly loud. He holds a hand over his eyes, watching the planes take off and land as they stand outside of the airport waiting for Allura to arrive. Sitting on his suitcase is starting to hurt his ass. They’ve been out here for what? Three minutes? It has clearly been far too long. A dull honk manages to cut through the simmering air and he whips his head around, jaw dropping as Allura steps out of a car... if you can classify the vehicle as such.
“What in God’s name is that thing?”
“Keith, be nice,” Shiro mumbles before turning towards Allura with a grin, and he places a chaste kiss on her lips. Her long white hair drapes over his shoulders as she drags her fiancé into a hug that is drawn out for a minute or two. Picking her up unexpectedly, Shiro swings her around; she laughs--the joy apparent in her expression--pressing her forehead to his.
They’re so perfect for each other that it makes Keith sick, while also causing him to long for someone to call his own.
“I refuse to get into that thing; it looks like it’s going to eat me.” Keith would probably describe the car as a Beetle, but it’s very pink and very ugly and it most likely belongs in the sixties. The car is almost as bright as the sun and just as painful to stare at.
“No, it’s alright; that was basically my reaction too. It’s my grandmother’s car, and I’m getting rid of it soon.” Allura, hand on her hip, gestures to the pink monstrosity parked behind her. Still, she seems proud to call it her own and Keith can’t understand why.
“Not soon enough,” Keith mutters as he hesitantly slides into the vehicle. The seats are leather and he’s so happy he decided not to wear shorts, even though beads of sweat are already building up on his skin.
Allura slaps sunglasses over her eyes, and they quickly drive onto the highway. A low buzz of music hums through the car radio, and before Keith realizes it, the unknown song now screams in his ears as Shiro adjusts the volume. With incredibly pitched voices, the couple sings along. Keith almost misses the breathtaking voice and words and melody; the car’s speakers do not do the song justice.
Well I spend these nights chasing stars
Looking for you on the boulevards
Circling your house just kicking cars
And waiting on sirens
Then he realizes it must be one of Lance McClain’s songs--because Shiro never, ever sings along with such passion unless they’re his --and he hates it all over again. He hates himself for actually liking the song for a second. It feels as if he cheated on his favorite bands. Keith curls up further in the backseat, waiting for what feels like an eternity for the song to fade away from his mind.
It never actually does.
“Reports say Lance is singing tonight at the 21 Club.” Allura finally lowers the volume, a smile etched on her face, and the wind flowing in from the open window weaves through her thick hair.
“Are you sure?” Shiro side eyes her, wearing a similar grin. Though Keith can’t see it, he can practically feel his brother’s leg jiggling up and down from excitement.
“I am, and I was wondering if both of you would like to make a night of it. You can experience the nightlife of LA on your first day.”
Jerking upwards too fast, Keith bangs his head against the top of the car, but through the brief shock of pain, he is able to grumble out “Oh no, you two can have your fun little date at a disgusting club, listening to crappy music, and I’ll stay at your house watching reruns of Ancient Aliens .”
He spies Shiro’s stern gaze in the side mirror. “You’re coming with us, Keith, you need to live a little.”
A few scraps of paper filled with scribbles for possible song lyrics and random doodles fall from his grip as he struggles to keep the phone tucked between his shoulder and ear. The recording studio is practically pitch dark, having been stupid enough not to turn on the lights while searching for his songs. Only his phone provides light, negating what streams under the door from the main hallway. His phone is of little help though, more of a hinderance now.
Lance really should find that light switch, but he’s almost to the door now, so what’s the point.
“You shouldn’t be doing this, man. Think of the acting position and the fact that your parents are throwing a party and that you should be there,” Hunk says over the phone.
“I promised Nyma I’d sing for her,” Lance quickly reminds him, backing out of the room with one hand on the door handle and the other clutching onto every scrap of paper he left behind. The club is only a ten minute drive away; he can make it in time for Nyma and leave before the paparazzi show. This is a plan that can not fail. He desperately wants--needs that movie part. “What’s going to happen with just one little song?”
Wow, way to jinx yourself, Lance’s mind scolds.
“A lot things, Lance, a lot of things.”
Even if Hunk’s right--and Hunk is always right--Lance made a promise and he has to keep it.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come in?” Allura asks, standing outside the car. The door to the back seat is swung wide open while Keith defiantly sits on the other side, crossing his arms as he plants himself firmly on the seat.
“I’d rather die,” he deadpans.
“Come on, Keith, do you really want to stay in the car the whole time?” It’s Shiro this time, ducking his head down to stare at Keith. His brother wears a nice bottom up gray shirt that couples nicely with Allura’s slim, black, strapless dress.
He feels uncharacteristically self conscious about his fraying and faded jeans now.
A line already spreads out from under the club’s flickering sign and in front of the large doors. Honestly, if Keith walks inside with them, he knows he would ruin their evening, and he knows how much seeing Lance and spending time together means to them. Keith also doesn’t want to be a third wheel.
“Yes, Takashi, and if you want me in there, you’re going to have to drag me out kicking and screaming.”
“He’s very stubborn,” Shiro says to Allura, his prosthetic gripping the door tightly.
“I wouldn’t have guessed,” she stage whispers sarcastically, then she leans downs, keys jangling in her hand as she waves them in his face. “You can drive home, if you want to.”
“And leave you two stranded and possibly drunk, nah I’ll stay here,” he says quickly, brain on autopilot as he reaches for the door. “Well, have fun!” Keith sends them a little wave, and wrenches the car door shut with a satisfied smirk...
...that soon slips off his face two minutes later.
“Maybe this was a bad idea,” Keith mumbles to himself and the empty car. Too bad he didn’t take Allura’s keys when she offered them.
The back door to the club slowly swings open, squeaking on its rusting hinges. Lance taps his foot in impatience, face ducked into the shadows whenever a car passes by the alley and when headlights flood the road. Pidge stands in the door frame with her hands on her hips and a frown set on her angular features.
“You shouldn’t be doing this, Lance,” she expresses the same sentiment as Hunk even though she steps aside, gesturing for him to enter.
He sheds his jacket, revealing a silky blue button down combined with black jeans. Raking a hand through his hair and tousling it for a natural appearance, Lance quirks his lips. “I made a promise.”
“Yeah, but you want the movie part.”
“Relax, Pidge,” he grins, “Everything will be fine.”
She begins to march after him as he makes his way over to Hunk in the back of the stage who holds his microphone, checking the sound. “Everything will not be fine because nothing ever goes according to plan when you’re involved.”
“What can I say?” Lance shrugs, bright eyes flickering to the opening where he can practically see every member in the club. It’s a large crowd tonight and Nyma stands right in front of the stage, bobbing up and down to the music from the DJ. “I just like to go with the flow.”
“Lance,” Hunk stresses for the final time, placing the microphone into Lance’s waiting hand. “You shouldn’t do this. It’s too risky”
Rolling his eyes, he already has one foot on stage. “Guys, I got this; there’s nothing to worry about.”
Keith frustratingly scrolls through all the songs on his phone, frowning as he can’t seem to find one to stick with. He’s heard all of these songs a million times, and right now, the familiar lyrics are not satisfying and do nothing to quell his restless, pent up energy. About to chuck his phone into the front seat in a brief fit of frustration, he decides to take a quick walk instead and save himself from having to purchase a new phone with money he doesn’t have.
It has been thirty minutes or so since Allura and Shiro disappeared into the club, and Keith is already dying of boredom.
Though it’s summer, the night air causes him to shiver as he begins to walk down the sidewalk, not because it’s a biting cold, but more because the air feels foreign. It’s thicker and heavy with smog. Nothing close to the cleaner air that he and Shiro have breathed in for the last ten or more years. Everything about LA suffocates him; for the first time he wonders why he didn’t make a bigger fuss about not wanting to go.
If he pushed hard enough, Shiro would have caved, and he would be alone right now in the apartment.
It might not be the smartest decision he’s ever made, but he veers left into the little dark alley behind the club and reaches out to the first door he finds, curious to see if it’s unlocked. As his fingers brush over the metal handle, the door thrusts open in a hurry, slamming into his head with a crack. Keith tumbles down to the dirty concrete. Darkness floats in front of his eyes; the only visible light belongs to the club as the back door is shoved further open. Somewhere in front of him a person swears.
“Fuck, I’m so sorry; I didn’t see you there.” The mysterious stranger kneels down in front of Keith, his eyes roaming over his face for injuries. He’ll have a bruise on his forehead tomorrow, but for now it’s invisible.
The door to the club has long since closed, and now the man’s striking blue eyes are two beacons in the night’s darkness. A few lights from other businesses that stay open long after midnight gently dust the man’s brown skin and handsome features. Keith parts his mouth to speak, ready to scold the stranger. “You--”
A large, soft hand slaps across Keith’s mouth and he mumbles a few obscenities into the man’s hand. “Please don’t scream.”
Angered, Keith licks the man’s palm, watching with glee as the stranger quickly pulls away, a grimace plastered on his face. “Why the fuck would I scream?”
“Because I’m Lance McClain.”
“Shit, maybe you did hit your head harder than I thought,” Lance mumbles, biting at his fingernails, and his eyes flicker to the end of the alley, as if wondering if he can or should make a grand escape. “You might have a concussion.”
“I don’t have a fucking concussion,” Keith says as he stands, albeit shakily, to his feet, and he begins marching away from the singer.
“No, no but seriously something has to be wrong--”
Keith flings around, poking Lance in the chest who is far too close to him for comfort. “You listen here, Lance , I don’t like you; I don’t like your music. I am not infatuated with you like the rest of America, so leave me alone. I. Am. Fine.”
“You know, I really think I should get you to a doctor.” Starting to feel a little wobbly and finally admitting to himself that maybe he should see a professional instead of self diagnosing, Keith reluctantly, and against his better nature, allows Lance to drag him to his car parked near the end of the alley, perfectly out of sight in the shadows.
“What about Shiro and Allura?” Keith asks, eventually remembering something important.
“My friends,” he vaguely elaborates. He searches the other end of the alley, half expecting his friends to come sprinting around the corner and save him. Who is he kidding though, one glance at Lance and they would forget Keith existed for a moment. Yeah, they would be a big help.
“They have a car, don’t they? And I’m sure if they drank anything, they’re smart enough to take a cab home.”
Keith returns his gaze to the man practically carrying him, as he has one of Keith’s arms slung across his shoulder and his rather warm hand grips Keith’s waist. Lance, eyes staring directly ahead at the car, frowns. “Fair enough. I should call them though.”
His free hand begins to pad every pocket, searching for his phone that is somewhere on his person, but his frantic movements practically throw Lance off balance as Keith wiggles around in his embrace.
A hand latches on to his, and Lance’s eyes pierce into his soul as he sternly says “Later, we got to get you to a doctor.”
Reaching the car after that long walk--actually short walk if he had been in the right state of mind--Keith finds himself staring at car that is probably worth more than what’s currently in his savings account. Even in the darkness, the metallic blue paint gleams under the faint light of the full moon. The car’s beautiful of course, Keith can’t deny that.
“I really hope you’re not kidnapping me,” Keith starts as Lance opens the door to the passenger side with one hand.
A surprised and quite amused laugh punctures the stagnant air. “Oh my God, do you know how bad that would be for business--it was a joke, you can stop making a fist. I would never kidnap someone.”
Even through the pain, though it has dulled since the initial impact, Keith musters off an impressive glare that has Lance physically gulping while he helps Keith into the car. The singer even buckles his seatbelt. “You’re a real asshole.”
Lance pats him on the shoulder. “So are you,” and he slams the door closed.
When the singer reemerges on the other side of the car, sliding into the driver’s seat, Keith notices a phone in his hand. He places it on the dashboard as he jams the key into the ignition. “Hunk, we have a slight problem,” Lance warns the person on the phone.
It’s on speaker, and Keith wonders if that was really the best decision. “Please don’t tell me you got Nyma pregnant.”
Keith actually snorts while Lance gawks, and another voice on Hunk’s end adds in their own cackle. His head feels a lot better now. “What? No, oh God no. I uh hit someone on the head and have to take uh…”
“Keith,” he readily supplies.
“ Keith to the doctor’s just to make sure everything's as it should be.”
“Just stay under the radar,” Hunk pleads. “I’m begging you.”
The car roars to life as he steps on the gas. “I always do,” Lance cheekily grins, and Keith knows how much of a lie that statement reveals.
“The CT scan was perfect, so nothing’s wrong. No head trauma and definitely no concussion.” The doctor flicks a small light back and forth across Keith’s eyes, and he tracks every movement.
When the light clicks off, Keith blinks away the dark spots that pop up in front of his vision; a few second pass before the completely clear away. “But I puked in his car, or I guess outside of his car.” A confused frown sits on his face as he glances up at the doctor.
The clipboard he had been halfheartedly checking snaps closed, and he meets Keith’s confused expression with a slight smirk. “Many things can explain that. It was probably a reaction to meeting that doofus--” he gestures to the dark shadow behind the curtains “--or his bad driving skills.”
Immediately, Lance pokes his head through the curtain, rattling the hooks as he pushes the cloth back. Keith tries not to disappear into his hospital gown, brushing his hair over his eyes as if that will hide him from view. He’s feeling quite naked right now, and though Lance addresses the doctor, his gaze tends to wander over to Keith before correcting himself with a quick snap of his head. “You may be a doctor, but I resent those accusations.”
“Sir, please leave. This is supposed to be private ,” the older man sighs, whipping back the divider to its former position, effectively slamming the door in Lance’s face. Well, if the curtains are a door that is.
“Right, right, of course. Glad you’re a-okay, Keith,” Lance speaks through the partitioner, his words as clear as they would be if no curtain separated them. Keith can physically hear the wink or the finger guns in Lance’s words.
“Yeah, I’d say the puking was a side effect of meeting him,” the doctor mutters, walking over to the miniature fridge stationed on the counter.
“So can I go now?”
“Yes, but an ice pack may help.” The man holds out a bag of ice, already dripping from the humid air within the check-up area, the condensation creeping up the bag. Keith graciously accepts it, quietly moaning as the frosty pack hits his warm skin, soothing the pain that continues to spring up from time to time.
When the doctor leaves, and Keith begins to pull off his hospital gown, the coarse material scratching at his skin, and dress himself, he listens to Lance through the curtains. The tell tale signs of a phone conversation become apparent as long pauses between Lance’s sentences lengthens.
“What do you mean Lotor’s at the party, Ma?” Lance inquiries, startled.
Only able to discern one side of the conversation, he occupies himself while waiting to hear Lance’s voice again by untangling his pants and pulling them on. As usual, he almost trips while hopping on one foot, struggling to slide his legs through his pants.
Lance’s next words are quieter, though a biting harshness is present if one knows where to look for it. The hidden tone is directed at this Lotor person and not his mother. “Fine, okay I’ll try to make it home.”
Keith throws back the curtain, some sort of remark on his lips--he’s not sure what it will be, but presently, he really wants to annoy Lance--only to be met with the doctor, his green eyes narrowed in a sharp glare.
“The paparazzi found you,” the doctor casually states, his hand vaguely waving in the distance of a long hall that must lead to the waiting room. Lance, with a wide eyed stare and mouth twisting in distaste, searches for the best word choice.
“Really? Fuck . Okay, I need your car.”
Caught off guard, the doctor’s mouth hangs low in complete shock. “Excuse me?”
“Look, how much is it worth? I’ll pay for it; I just need to get out of here.”
“Don’t forget about me,” Keith intrudes, watching Lance carefully, amused by this situation. Crossing his arms, he delivers a wide smirk.
“I could never forget about you,” Lance says so plainly and with no trace of sarcasm that Keith is dumbstruck for a moment. What a weird thing to say to someone you just met.
Lance’s eyes aren’t directed at Keith though. He stares down the doctor as they begin to conjure up some sort of ridiculous agreement. “Give me your car, Mr. McClain, and I’ll call it even.”
“That’s a fair deal,” and the singer easily hands over his car keys.
The doctor’s car isn’t necessarily crappy but it’s nowhere near as stunning as Lance’s previous car. Surprisingly, the singer doesn’t seem to mind, effortlessly sliding into the worn seat and starting the engine. Another goofy smile dances on his features. Maybe, just maybe, Keith begins to rethink the image of Lance being snooty and stuck up.
“Where are we going?” Keith voice is calm as he begins to realize Lance never asked him for directions to Allura’s house. He tries not to fidget in the seat, his hand gripping the seat belt as if preparing to yank it away from himself.
“My house,” Lance replies seriously. They’re already on the road, going in the exact opposite direction of his warm bed and Allura’s flat screen tv. He bites down harshly on his bottom lip to prevent himself from screaming. A dribble of blood peppers his lips.
“No, you’re dropping me off at my house,” Keith seethes, licking his lip.
Taking his eyes off the road for a split second, Lance shakes his head. “Nooo, we just have to make a quick pitstop.”
Keith punches him on the shoulder. To Lance’s credit, the car doesn’t swerve but he still leans away from Keith, though only as much as staying in a comfortable driving position will allow him. He rolls his shoulder in response to the brief bit of pain as Keith smirks; he knows how to throw a punch when he wants to.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Lance growls.
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you ? Just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want. You know what, I’m calling the cops.”
“No, no, please don’t.” With one hand on the steering wheel, Lance blindly reaches out a hand to grab onto Keith’s phone.
He struggles to avoid Lance’s outstretched fingers, scrambling closer to the door and away from his long reach. Watching as if caught in slow motion, the singer’s nimble fingers just graze the bottom of his phone. The impact of Lance brushing against the device, but mainly gliding across Keith’s skin with the lightest, softest touch, has him loosening his grip against his better wishes.
It topples out of the open window.
The sound of the phone shattering on the ground is unimaginable but Keith believes he heard it anyways. It sounded as if hundreds of dollars were dumped onto a roaring fire for no reason; it sounded like his heart had broken instead.
Grayish eyes an angry hurricane, Keith whips around to face Lance again. “You are so paying for that.”
“Yeah, I already am,” Lance bites back.
Keith sticks out his tongue, closing out any other arguments as he begins to silently fume and throw curses at the man in the driver’s seat.
“Okay, so I was expecting a mansion,” Keith remarks the minute he steps out of the car.
To be fair, the house is about the size of four or five of Keith and Shiro’s apartment put together. It’s two stories with the classic black shutters and white trim. Outside lights line the stone walk way, welcoming everyone up to the door. What gets him the most though, is that it actually looks like a home and not something a multi millionaire singer would live in. It fits Lance perfectly.
“Sorry to disappoint,” Lance mumbles as if he has had the same reaction a few times before, confidently walking up to the front door and into the house.
Keith quickly scampers to keep up. “I’m not disappointed; I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Startled by his elaboration, Lance faces him, eyes wide from surprise until his expression settles down into a comfy smile. “Oh, uh thanks, I guess.”
Quietly, Lance guides Keith up the stairs, passing by what seems like hundreds of family photos. He can effortlessly pick out Lance in all of them, watching the singer grow from a young boy to someone on graduation day throwing his cap in the air. Every other person that pops up from time to time in each photo, some even having many frames to themselves, Keith can not begin to identify. Keith supposes the older people must be his parents and the rest his siblings and maybe some cousins, but he can’t be positive.
When Keith was young and alone, jumping from foster home to foster home, he had always dwelled on the idea of what it was like to have a large family. Absentmindedly, he wonders if Lance had ever thought about what it would be like to be an only child. They stop at the last door on the right, and Keith opens his mouth to ask about his family, starting to hear the sounds of a party in the backyard. Lance interrupts him before he even has a chance to speak.
“You have to stay in my room for a little bit.” The door opens to reveal all sorts of scifi and fantasy movie posters haphazardly taped to the walls. As Keith cautiously steps in, rubbing a hand up and down his arm to quell the anxiety building inside of him, he spots a bookshelf filled with as many books as there are music awards. It’s relatively clean, with a few piles of clothes thrown here or there.
Lance’s room is impressively huge though, and there’s a possibility of an en suite through a door at the far end. Overall, it is so much better than Keith’s room where he can literally stretch out his arms and touch both walls.
“Um, why?” Keith asks, an eyebrow drifting behind his bangs.
“ No one can see you here,” Lance emphasizes unnecessarily.
Oh, he thinks, a little disappointed. Instead, he glares at the singer, pushing all of his confusing emotions to the back of his mind to be dealt with later or possibly never. “Good, ‘cause I don’t want to be associated with this.” He gestures to Lance.
“Great,” Lance responds with less enthusiasm than usual.
They stare at each other, silently daring the other to blink, but suddenly, Lance seems to remember the reason why they are here to begin with. He breaks away from Keith, slamming his bedroom door behind him. The vibration races through the floor and up to his body.
Bored now and not sure how long he’ll have to stay locked up, Keith settles on the bed, taking advantage of the incredibly, above average, soft mattress. He taps his fingers on his knee until curiosity overrides his brain’s control. He moves to the balcony doors that he had missed before, his hands shaking as he grips the handles.
Walking out onto the small platform, Keith’s eyes automatically search for a familiar head of brown hair and goofy expression, and he leans against the wall, content. He hopes Lance doesn’t notice.
Lance physically prevents himself from rushing back up the stairs to pull Keith out of his bedroom. No one deserves to be locked up like that, as if Lance is ashamed to be seen with him. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Lance doesn’t want Keith dragged into the spotlight and have millions of questions flung at him. He doesn’t want to involve this stranger in a scandal when they’re barely even friends.
Barely even friends. Somehow in the hour or two Lance has known this man, he quite likes the notion of wanting to be friends. Keith is witty and has a bit of a temper, and he can easily form a perfect retort to Lance’s stupidity or craziness. Most importantly, he treats Lance like the human being he is, not some hotshot celebrity.
It’s a relief Lance hadn’t known he was looking for.
His feet continue to march him towards the backyard patio, and he doesn’t glance back up the stairs again. Family members are strewn across the lawn. Some hang around the blazing fire pit while his younger nieces and nephews attempt to catch fireflies floating aimlessly around.
No one notices his presence until he’s standing right next his parents, who converse with Lotor. The man hadn’t changed much even though a day has passed; he wears a similar shade of purple in a form fitting shirt.
“Ah, Lance, I was wondering when you’d show,” Lotor says, knocking back whatever is in the glass in his hand.
Lance doubts the amber liquid is apple juice, and part of him would love to get drunk, to forget about this night, but he has to be responsible. Someone has to drive Keith home. Unless he would stay the night, but Lance is quite certain he would get murdered before those words even left his lips.
“Sorry,” Lance apologizes as he presses a quick kiss to his parents’ cheeks. “Online classes are a bitch, you know?” Lie, lie, lie. It’s the only thing you’re good at these days.
“Tío Lance!” a miniature version of his oldest sister screams, running into his legs and clutching onto his jeans. Her height has her reaching his hips now, though her curly hair adds a few false inches.
Picking her up, Lance swings her around the stone patio, her brown eyes sparkling. “Hey, Sofia, I’ve missed you since you moved to Boston.”
Most of his family has moved away from LA, leaving him alone with his parents and alone with his career. As the youngest, it was painful watching everyone go off to college, leaving him a big empty house and impossible dreams to live up to. Then, luckily, all his nieces and nephews came along later and Lance felt wanted again, right around the time his first youtube video blew up big time.
“I’ve missed you singing me to sleep; mamá doesn’t do it as well as you. But Abuelita said you’d sing for us when you finally showed!” Sofia’s smile is brighter than all the stars in the night sky.
Good thing to know there’s one thing his big sister can’t do. “Oh, did she now?” He sends a playful smirk to his mother who shrugs innocently.
“They all asked so I said you would.”
The rest of his family surround him, voicing their agreement. It seems as if everyone has shown up to the impromptu party for his movie deal--he doesn’t want to break it to them that it’s not set in stone. So he masks his worry with a large grin as his older brother Marco holds out a guitar that they must have stolen from his room earlier in the evening. “Sorry, hermano, but you were the one who wanted to be a pop star.”
“Yeah, yeah and I’m regretting that now.”
Lance successfully dodges the noogy his brother reaches out to give him as he grabs the guitar, scrambling backwards with a laugh. He makes himself at home on a lumpy rock by the fire, strumming the instrument halfheartedly. A few seconds pass filled with random notes drifting into the air and people tapping their foot along to no sensible beat.
When Lance catches a dark shadow hovering on his balcony, his fingers already begin moving to the rhythm of an old song.
I, I can be everything you need
If you're the one for me
I'll be unstoppable
I, yeah, I believe in destiny
I may be an ordinary guy with heart and soul
But if you're the one for me
Then I'll be your hero
When Lance glances back up to his bedroom balcony, Keith has disappeared, and if he is being honest with himself, Lance is a little disappointed by that.
Keith drums on the dashboard of the car, debating whether he should kick his feet up or not. That would be rude, right? This isn’t even Lance’s car and they’ll have to drive it back to the hospital at some point. By the time Keith decides to ‘screw it, I’m doing it anyways,’ Lance emerges from his family party, hair mussed from too many hands ruffling it in affection and eyes glassy. Keith pops his head out of the rolled down window.
“Can you take me home now, please?”
“Yeah,” Lance replies, distracted as he slides into the driver’s seat. After a few attempts of flooding the engine, the car shudders to life, the front lights hitting the front of the garage in a splash of a pale yellow.
“You drive me there, drop me off, and then we never have to see each other again,” Keith unnecessarily supplies, ticking all three things off on his fingers.
He doesn’t even glance at Keith when he responds. “Sounds good to me.”
Has it been ten minutes or twenty? They can’t be too far away from Allura’s house by now. The car ride has been relatively quiet, except for that one instance with the car radio and one of Lance’s songs playing on the station. The off button had been slammed so fast that Keith wasn’t even able to register the voice blaring through the speakers.
The atmosphere had become slightly awkward after that, with no explanation from Lance, a grimace being his only thought on the matter.
“Look, I just want to say I’m really sorry for hitting your head,” Lance says at long last. They’re parked in Allura’s driveway now.
Keith hadn’t even noticed they arrived. No light shines from inside the house, barren of any signs of vacancy. Allura and Shiro must still be… somewhere. At least Keith won’t have to explain why he was out so late. The car radio illuminates the miniature numbers of 2:20am in a subtle baby blue. Keith bangs his head against the passenger window, his eyes drooping slightly.
He sighs through his nose. “Wow, that’s the nicest thing you’ve said all evening.”
“If you don’t wa--oh shit, I think they found us!” Lance hollers, ducking down into his seat and shadowing his face with his hand.
“Who? The FBI, the CIA? Are they coming to take me away because they know I’m on to them about the fake moon landing?” Keith inquires, completely serious.
Having forgotten about the car lights, Keith reaches over to flick them off with a snap of his wrist. Lance’s gaze is one of heartfelt gratitude before Keith’s words register in his ears. “What the fuck? No, it’s the paparazzi. Were--were you serious?”
Keith peers at him in the darkness, a quiet chuckle spilling from his lips as he leans down closer to Lance. “Your expression is hilarious. And no, I’m not serious, well maybe a little.”
In a flash, Lance reaches up to pinch Keith’s lips closed even though he had finished. A large black car slowly rolls on by, front lights dusting everything in a two foot radius as it passes them completely. Lance’s fingers remain pressed on his lips long after the car has left, possibly waiting to see if another one will follow and possibly because he likes to annoy Keith.
He believes in the latter.
“So can I hide this car in your garage?” The singer hesitantly prys his fingers away; there’s a moment where Keith is tempted to snap at them. Instead, he settles on a glare.
“If you have to,” Keith mumbles, already climbing out to open the garage, accepting his fate.
There’s just no getting rid of this guy.
“Thank you, thank you.”
Once the car is parked inside and the door has swung closed, Lance steps out of the vehicle, sliding his feet back and forth across the concrete. Keith, with a less than amused expression, crosses his arms, waiting for the other shoe to drop. “Umm, I was won--”
“You can sleep in the garage too, but by morning you better be gone.”
“Awesome; you’re amazing.” Lance flashes another breathtaking grin and Keith flashes his own murderous frown. Which unfortunately does not seem to deter the singer.
Keith begins to rummage through the boxes in Allura’s garage, exclaiming a quick “ah ha!” when he reaches the third box on the top shelf and throws Lance a ratty, but usable, sleeping bag. He allows a pleasant smile to find a place on his lips as he watches it slam into the singer’s face before landing in his hands.
Lance hesitantly shuffles his feet again, appearing meek. The characteristic doesn’t suite him, Keith quickly decides. “So I’m also going to need something to hide my face when I leave in the morning.”
He swings his gaze around for a futile second, but he knows Allura would never store clothes in the garage. What could he possibly use--oh. Reluctantly, Keith reaches into his jacket pocket, his fingers brushing over soft material. “Wear this,” he says, chucking a beanie at him.
“Is this yours?” There’s a slight smirk on Lance’s lips and he cocks an eyebrow. A mocking gesture if Keith ever saw one. “Emo much?”
“You know, give it back now--” Keith practically lunges for his hat, but Lance easily dodges “--I’m throwing you to the paparazzi.”
“You wouldn’t do that to a friend,” Lance whines, holding the black colored beanie high above his head where Keith can’t reach, even though he’s getting dangerously close. His fingers are hooked around Lance’s arm as he attempts to climb the singer’s body.
“You’re not my friend,” Keith grumbles, admitting defeat as he quickly backs away from Lance. A light dusting of pink appears on his cheeks for a moment. He had been a little too close, having felt the singer’s warm breath flutter across his neck and heart beat dance against his chest.
Lance’s blue gaze sparkles, adding more light to the garage than the two light bulbs hanging over head. “Fine, fine I’ll wear it. Happy now?”
Keith searches the ceiling for a sign, something to tell him it’s not worth killing the man in front of him. Fortunately--or unfortunately for Lance--one doesn’t come. As if assuming Keith’s thoughts and in one final attempt to be saved, Lance calls attention to himself, clearing his throat and throwing his arms out wide for Keith to inspect.
“How do I look?”
With his bright blue eyes and pouty lips, the black beanie pushes his brown hair further into his eyes, helping him look absolutely adorable. Keith’s heart thumps excitedly against his chest, which he hopes is not noticeable from Lance’s perspective. Curse his gay feelings simmering to the surface where they don’t belong.
“You look stupid,” he mumbles.
Lance tugs on a lock of hair, brushing it out of his face and drawing more attention to his perfect features, now void of any obscurants. His heart stutters again, and he begins to march away, hoping his footsteps mask the obnoxious sound of his heart beat. “G-go the fuck to sleep.”
Tapping two fingers to his forehead, Lance straightens his posture to deliver a mocking salute. “Aye, aye, captain!”
Morning soon shows its face again. Lance should be long gone by now, but with laziness being one of Keith’s better vertues, this is one thing he will just have to assume happened. He had dropped dead on the couch last night, only to wake up to a soft, fuzzy blanket draped over his body and the smell of freshly cooked pancakes tickling his nose.
“Sorry I didn’t call you last night,” Keith says, drizzling syrup onto his breakfast, trying to drown them as his grip tightens on the bottle, Lance invading his thoughts unannounced.
He really hopes the singer has left and he really hopes Allura and Shiro didn’t open the garage. There are many things that may have gone wrong with this plan. For some strange reason, he only thinks of all of them now, not last night when they would have been important.
“Don’t worry about it,” Allura responds. “We were pretty drunk, I’d doubt we would have registered your call anyways.”
Good, because his phone is shattered somewhere along a major road. Well shit, how is he going to get Lance to pay for a new phone if they never see each other again? Keith lightly growls into a bite of a pancake and he hopes no one else at this table notices.
“Wow, Shiro, that’s really responsible of you.” If sarcasm was a physical weapon, Keith would be its one true master. He watches his brother drop his head to the table, pain etched on his features as his eyes flutter closed.
“Shut up,” he grumbles through his hangover. The white tuft of his hair has flopped inches away from Shiro’s plate of food and he aggravatingly rubs a hand across his undercut, hoping to dispel the pounding in his head.
“Poor baby,” Keith coos, “I see Allura can deal with pain better than you can.”
Allura lifts a hand in front of her face to hide her wild, soundless laughter. The attempt at concealment does little good and Keith can easily see her smile stretching into a wide grin across her face. Blue eyes sparkle with amusement as Allura lovingly pats her fiancé on the back.
Shiro props his head on the table, his eyes drifting back and forth between Keith and Allura. “I hate both of you.”
Bopping the edge of his fork on the tip of Shiro’s nose--which may have been covered a bit in syrup--Keith cracks a smile, drawing Shiro’s attention to him. “At least you got to see Lance perform live, right? Even if it was just for one song.”
“The worst part is,” Shiro says, picking his head up from the table and reaching for a glass of water, “I can’t even remember it.”
“Well, I do,” Allura pipes in, reaching for another pancake, “And he was wonderful. His voice was so… breathtaking.”
I know, Keith wants to say and add in his own input about the singer, since at this point he knows more about Lance than his fans ever will. But he doesn’t, pressesing his lips together to remain silent.
“Idiot,” he whispers, more about himself than the couple sitting in front of him. By this point, Shiro has fought off the encroaching headache the best he can and reaches for food. Keith stares at him directly in the eyes, tapping his own nose. “Oh, Shiro, you got a little something on your face.”
“If it wasn’t for the laws of these lands, I would slaughter you.”
“They’re talking about Lance on TV again!” Keith hollers an hour later as he sits on the couch, numbly flipping through channels.
Winching at the pounding of feet making their way into the living room, Keith attempts an escape, only to be caught up in a flurry of dark skin, white hair, and a strong grip. Shiro and Allura plop down on either side of him, his body jumping on the cushion from their impact. Allura immediately grabs the remote from Keith’s hand, raising the volume.
“Pop star Lance McClain was not by the side of his girlfriend last night as she entered the club. Lance was indeed there as told to us by everyone we caught up with who was able to witness his spectacular performance. Following this though, he magically appears at his home with a boy. Is this mystery man stealing the heart of our favorite pop star?”
Keith sighs in relief as no grainy photo of him and Lance pops up on screen. Instead, there’s a clear cut picture of Lance, with a guitar resting on his lap, singing his heart out to his family. His relatives interrupt most of the picture, but the viewers eyes are still drawn to Lance, his appearance enchanting. And is that… Keith peers closer to the TV, hoping Allura and Shiro don’t notice him showing interest. Is that him on the balcony? It’s too shadowed to reveal a defined figure, but Keith knows it was him who was standing there. The paparazzi must have been hiding in the bushes or something just as stupid, Keith muses. It’s all too cliche.
“Well that’s going to be quite a scandal if it blows up,” Allura comments, shutting the TV off completely.
“Haha, yeah,” Keith chuckles nervously, carding a hand through his long black hair and toying with the ends to distract himself from the memories of last night.
It’s also to distract himself from Shiro’s calculated gaze, studying his brother as if picking out every single event that happened last night out of his head.
“So, Keith, what exactly happ--”
“Hey, I know what we should do,” Keith quickly interrupts, springing to his feet and clapping his hands. “Wanna go to the beach?”
Wait, no, no, no. Keith hates the beach with the hot sun and dry sand and ocean that has been peed in by both human children and the sea creatures. Shivering at his own suggestion, he prays Allura has something else planned, anything else. Like a spa day.
Shiro continues to gaze at him in piqued interest, so Allura is the one to answer. “Why not. I know the perfect place.”
“This is the beach Lance frequents, isn’t it?” Keith grumbles as he climbs out of the pink monstrosity and into the beating sun. Heat pulses against his skin as a fresh wave of sweat rolls down his face. His gray tank-top and pale red swim shorts do little to help cool him down; at least it’s a step up from his usual dark clothes.
Allura had rushed ahead, sprinting out once the car slid into park, and went to find them the perfect spot to set up for the day. Shiro had offered to help, but with a sweet smile, she picked up all three beach chairs and the cooler by herself, leaving before the two brothers even made it out of the car.
Keith had learned a long time ago to not be surprised by Allura’s strength.
“Who knows,” Shiro responds, “Maybe we’ll have a celebrity sighting. You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Keith?”
Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t , he muses only to himself. Aloud, he says “Why would you even think that?”
“Because you’re the least discreet person I know, and that photo was clearer than you think. Plus, I got a call from the hospital this morning to discuss the bill,” Shiro states truthfully, his eyes glimmering in the sun as he catches Keith red handed.
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.” As they walk out onto the sand, grains already dripping into his shoes and pricking the soles of his feet, Keith’s eyes flicker across the head of every person on this beach.
“Well whenever you want to talk, I’m very excited to hear about your adventure.”
Keith whips his head back to face Shiro, glare amplified. “Seriously, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he stresses, stalking far away from Shiro and zeroing in on something that had caught his eye earlier.
As he walks closer to his target, an unwarranted smile creeps up on his face as he spots a familiar black beanie poking out from behind one of those white plastic beach chairs.
“Isn’t it such a beautiful day?” Keith plops down in the sand and watches with satisfaction as Lance curls into himself, trying to the hide the rest of his face not covered by his sunglasses. “Oh I’m sorry, did I wake you? It’s just that you look an awful lot like this jerk I know.”
The singer discretely angles his head and tips his sunglasses foward to stare at Keith sitting beside him, who’s currently captivated by the grains of sand flowing through the cracks in between his fingers as he scoops up a handful. Hearing an audible sigh of relief, Keith watches Lance straighten up, facing him completely. “It’s you, thank God. How’d you know it was me?”
“Because you’re wearing my hat.”
“ Right. ”
Waves lap at the sand, crawling closer and closer to Keith’s toes. He doesn’t mind though and stretches his legs out further, basking in the sun.
“So what are you doing here, Keith? You stalking me?” Lance arches an eyebrow, tugging the beanie further down in front of his eyes while a random stranger walks behind the two.
“Please, like I would willingly bring myself down to that level of crazy.” Keith flops onto the sand, hair flying out behind him. “My friends and I are having fun at the beach. What are you doing here?”
Leaning over the chair’s armrest, Lance blinks, the lightest tint of pink spreading across his brown skin. “Soaking in some rays.”
Lance groans, proceeding to flop down alongside Keith, turning on his side in the sand and creating small, swirly patterns in the space between their bodies. “It wasn’t safe to go home yet; they’ve literally camped outside my house.” He slaps a hand over his face, dragging it down his skin to reveal a frown. “My mamá’s probably pissed. Fuck.”
“Is it tough?” Keith asks curiously. Without permission, his fingers reach out to brush back a lock of hair that had fallen into Lance’s eyes. Unfortunately, Keith realizes his actions too late and his hand hangs awkwardly in the air. He clears his throat and continues speaking. “Having to be in the spotlight all the time, whether it’s good or bad?”
“It comes with the career choice, so if you want to make it big, you gotta be able to deal with it. But yeah, I hate it, and I hate that I can’t live a normal life. I can’t even remember what it was like before I was famous and that was only a few years ago.”
Keith nods in understanding, though he can’t really relate. “Normal is overrated anyways.”
“It is, but peace and quiet would be appreciated sometimes,” Lance admits, lifting his head to stare up at the sky. His eyes close, and despite his earlier words, Lance does look peaceful, face relaxed and a lazy smile on his lips. His brown skin gleams in the mid-morning sun, kissed by its rays.
If they were both different--Lance no longer a pop star and Keith a braver person in general--he might have snuggled up against Lance’s side, his head resting on his chest and breaths mingling together. But Keith is not brave and Lance is in a category far beyond Keith’s reach, so he accepts his fate and directs his gaze to the ocean.
Lance’s voice breaks Keith away from his frazzled thoughts. “So I kinda need a car the paparazzi won’t recognize.”
“MmHmm,” Keith hums, allowing his skin to absorb the sun’s rays as he closes his eyes and tilts his face up towards the sky.
“What did you drive here?”
“Oh no, nope, no, not going to happen.”
When Keith opens his eyes, he finds Lance arching over him, a curious expression on his face. His eyes peer into Keith’s soul as he leans down. Keith quietly wonders if he’s going to kiss him, but instead, Lance’s hand weaves through Keith’s hair, untangling a tiny seashell that had been captured in his long locks.
Wordlessly, Keith takes the shell Lance dangles in front of his face, stuffing it into his shorts’ pocket.
“Oh come on. Please!” Lance begs, whimpering slightly as he sits back on the heels of his feet. “We can make an adventure out of it; I’ll show you all the best spots in LA. You probably haven’t had time to explore.”
“Yeah, because I was hanging out with you,” Keith reminds him with narrowed, stormy eyes and lips in an unamused flat line.
“And what a lucky person you are,” Lance smirks. “Please?”
“You’re lucky I hate the beach.” Keith picks himself up from the ground, shaking sand from his clothes and hair, combing through the many tangles to dispel every tiny grain. “You stay here for a moment,” he stares pointedly at Lance.
“Your wish is my command,” he says with those dazzling blue eyes of his.
Keith isn’t sure why Lance’s words cause him to become flustered, sputtering something unintelligible and marching away to find his friends. His face bruns, though not from a sunburn--he’s pretty sure he has that too since once he spotted Lance, he had forgotten all about sunscreen and Shiro’s nagging when they left the house.
He stands directly in front of the sun, disrupting her tanning session by accident. “Allura, I need the car keys.”
“Yeah, of course. I see you made a friend,” Allura notes with a hidden smirk, gesturing over to Lance who ducks his head impossibly further into his chest, completely hiding his face from view. “Shiro will be proud.”
The man in question has, in fact, fallen asleep, snoring and drooling slightly next to Allura’s side. If only Keith had his phone, then he could obtain some great blackmail material.
“Oh my God. I can’t deal with the both of you.”
Lance tries not to gasp at the ugly car before him, but he fails and Keith notices. He bites the inside of cheek to prevent a flow of extremely unpleasant words directed at the car to spill from his mouth. It doesn’t stop them from pooling in his mind. Well, at least no one will ever think about checking this car for a famous celebrity; it’s the only thought that propels him to walk forward, holding out a hand first as if the car will come alive and chomp him in half.
Keith, on the other hand, laughs at Lance’s discomfort. Even though it’s at his expense, he finds the man’s genuine laughter to be adorable, his large smile beautiful as it caresses his face.
“Welcome to the pink monstrosity; are you regretting this now?” Keith spreads his arms out wide, showcasing the entire vehicle..
“No, never--oh for fuck’s sake, they’re here again.” Two possibly three black vans screech into the parking lot as Lance ducks behind the car, jerking Keith down with him and causing his bare knees to scrape against the pavement. The man beside him releases a groan, lightly slapping himself in the face in disbelief. “Why do they always find me?” Lance asks as a rhetorical question, but Keith must have felt the need to answer it anyways.
Keith’s gaze is less than unpleasant as he rakes back his bangs and stares directly into Lance’s eyes to get the point across. “This is the beach you visit the most, that’s why they always find you.”
“How do you know that?” An easy going, cocky smirk graces his lips. “I thought someone didn’t like me,” he sings quietly, mouth teasingly close to Keith’s ear. He can practically taste Keith’s scent on his tongue.
“My brother knows that; the whole online community knows that.” Keith pauses for a moment, banging his head against the hood of the car as they continue to hide. The paparazzi begin to scatter around the parking lot, some wandering off to the beach, cameras held tightly in their grasp. “And, and maybe I kinda do like you now.”
Lance blinks, lost for words for a second. His tongue rubs against the back of his teeth, watching Keith’s pale cheeks darken with crimson. Cute and adorable and handsome; Lance is starstruck. Unfortunately though, a loud medley of voices destroys this perfect, quiet world his thoughts have created.
The paparazzi is too close now for comfort, and Lance clutches his sunglasses, the plastic digging into his skin, creating dark grooves across his palms. “Here, wear these,” Lance says, passing over his glasses.
He begins to wander over to the driver’s side as Keith begrudgingly hands him the keys. By the time Lance is once again face to face with Keith, they’re both buckled in and ducking their heads down as they casually drive out of the parking lot. A breathy sigh of release fills the interior of the car.
Once they’re safely on the road, Lance finally has the opportunity to admire how good Keith looks in his shades. They hide his enchanting eyes, but they belong on his face, framed by his silky hair that just brushes his shoulders. Out of nowhere, Keith sweeps his hair into a messy ponytail, revealing his smooth neck and sharp jawline. Lance is completely floored again while Keith remains oblivious, fanning himself with an old map.
“Keep your eyes on the road, idiot,” Keith tells him as he fiddles with a few dials, probably trying to find the one that controls the AC. Lance obeys, only sneaking glances at his companion when the road becomes long and straight and empty.
He’s never witnessed someone who’s so perfect--and so grumpy--before. Keith amazes him to no end.
“So where do you want to go first?” Lance disturbs the comfortable silence.
Wisps of hair that never made it into the ponytail wack Keith in the face as a breeze rushes into the car. “You’re the tour guide; you should decide.”
A wild grin breaks across his face as his foot begins to add a little more pressure on the gas pedal. “Get ready for this city to blow your mind.”
“I can’t wait.”
As Keith’s words trail off and the silence becomes just as unbareable as the hot car, even if all four windows are rolled down, Lance’s fingers drum on the steering wheel, creating his own beat. It’s eerily similar to the new song he has been writing, so instead of either of them turning on the radio, he provides the music.
Kiss my lips, feel the rhythm of your heart and hips
I will pray so the castle that we've built won't cave
The secrets you tell me I'll take to my grave
There's bones in my closet, but you hang stuff anyway
And if you have nightmares, we'll dance on the bed
I know that you love me, love me
Even when I lose my head
Words pour out of him and Lance adds more and more lyrics to this song that had been barely written this morning. He tries to hold onto these new lyrics though, fingers itching for a pen and paper to write them down.
“Your voice is beautiful,” Keith softly comments when Lance’s voice finally fades away.
He’s never been shy before, but he discovers himself ducking his head at Keith’s compliment and stutters his gratitude. “T-thanks.”
“I may only listen to “emo” bands--” Keith adds the air quotes for effect and Lance has to laugh while Keith rolls his eyes. When he looks at Lance again, every emotion swimming in his irises is truthful. “But you have a natural talent.”
“You’re just sa--”
“Lance,” Keith sternly voices, his eyes saying ‘listen,’ “I have great taste in music, so when I say you’re amazing, you really are amazing.”
“A--are you hungry; d-do you want to get food? I know a great crepes place and--” he stutters again, caught off guard by Keith’s kind words that are a hundred times more genuine than any prestigious review he’s ever received.
Keith violently blushes, his color mirroring Lance’s. “T-that sounds great. Yeah.”
As Lance’s own words begin to sink in, he realizes he may have just asked Keith out on a not-date and that Keith may have just said yes. His heart beats with happiness and his mind returns to its regular program of trying to remember those song lyrics.
He hums along to it for the rest of the drive; Keith joins in during the chorus.
The crepe is warm in his grip, the plastic paper scraping his skin as he angles his mouth to bite off a relatively large chunk. Surprisingly, Keith is almost finished, despite receiving his food a couple minutes ago. He licks his fingers as he crumbles the wax paper in his hands. Lance watches in fascination as he spies a leftover bit of nutella resting near the corner of his mouth. Keith is oblivious to this.
Pushing past his better judgement, Lance inches closer to Keith, his finger brushing lightly across his warm lips to wipe away the forgotten nutella. The small blob of chocolate stains his thumb and he’s trapped in Keith’s astonished gaze.
“Uh, you had something on your face,” Lance whispers as they hide in the shadows of a large building.
“You could have told me,” Keith remarks, but he doesn’t seemed too bothered by the contact. In fact, his head has inched ever so closer. His sweet breath washes over him.
Nothing more is spoken between the two as they lean against the brick wall, basking in each other’s company.
Later, with Lance’s phone of course, they begin to capture ridiculous pictures of each other at every attraction they reach. His all time favorite is the one where Keith flips up his middle finger while trying on purple cat shaped sunglasses. The best photo though, the one that would serve as a background to his laptop, is them posing in front of the Hollywood sign. Smiles are blown wide on their faces as Keith leans into his body, resting his head on Lance’s shoulder. Wind tossels their hair, but nothing obscures their faces.
Lance will keep these photos forever.
Now they return to the car and Keith faces him with one of those shy, slightly embarrassed smiles that Lance has come to love since knowing him. Keith weaves his fingers in between Lance’s. The light shines behind him, breaking into a million tiny rays and outlining every frizzy wisp of hair on Keith’s head.
“I had an awesome time,” he begins shyly, that faint blush springing up again. Lance knows exactly where to look for it now. It begins just under his eyes, drifting to his ears which are usually hidden by his thick hair. But Keith’s hair is still tied into a ponytail and the red tips of his ears are completely visible and completely adorable.
This is the moment , Lance thinks, already beginning to lean in before his mind signals the go ahead. Unfortunately for both Keith and Lance as a large, cautious part of his brain is locked on autopilot, his eyes drift up towards the rear-view mirror.
Swallowing back a curse, he mutters “Looks like we got to go again,” inching away from Keith’s lips.
“Goddammit,” he whispers softly, closing his eyes, already knowing who it is without looking.
Once again they’re on the run, and Lance’s fingernails have almost created permanent indents of crescent moon marks into the leather of the steering wheel. His knuckles are white and his whole body is drained as the pent up anger directed at the paparazzi begins to overflow.
“Don’t go down the dirt road!” Keith suddenly cries as Lance unexpectedly rotates the wheel, plowing the car into the loose dust that billows through the windows and into their lungs.
He has to cough away a puff of dust before he can respond. “I have to loose them. What else do you want me to do?”
There’s really no argument after that so Keith allows his head to fall backwards, releasing a stressful groan. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Lance glares. “Well when you quote that line from Star Wars , of course we’re fucked now.”
It’s been thirty minutes of causally rolling down the same winding dirt road with the occasional question popping up from both parties as they play a game of twenty questions to pass the time. By this point, Lance finally begins to bite his lip in worry, gnawing at the chapped skin. He had been distracted of course, new information about Keith overloading his brain--for example, favorite color: red, family: adopted and has a brother who is more like a best friend, dreams: wants to survive college and own a cat.
Lance eagerly responds in kind--favorite color: a specific shade of navy blue, family: three older siblings with six children between them, dreams: living most of them right now. The new information seems to please Keith, if his smile is anything to go by.
“I think we’re lost,” Lance states aloud at last.
“No shit, Sherlock.” Keith rolls his eyes, briefly snickering. “What gave you that idea?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” he responds too casually, “Probably because I don’t know where the fuck I am and I haven’t seen a road sign in who knows how many miles... ten, fifteen?”
“Um, turn around? The paparazzi are probably long gone.”
“I can’t,” Lance says seriously, foot digging into the gas pedal. Sweat begins to build up on his forehead as the breeze settles and the thick heat descends upon them. An insect buzzes near his ear.
“We’re stuck. In mud.” Lance arches his head out of the window, only to be met with disappointment as he watches the tire spin helplessly in the liquid mud. It sprays across the side, covering some of that God awful fluorescent pink paint job. This is the only positive thing about their situation.
“Fan-fucking-tastic,” Keith mutters unhelpfully, carding a frustrated hand through his hair.
“And I think we’re sinking.”
Sucking in a dramatic breath before responding, his eyes lock onto Lance’s. “Better abandon ship.”
“Keith, this isn’t the Titanic,” Lance complains as he climbs out of the car window, crawling onto the roof. “No need to be dramatic.”
“Why not? I thought you would love to be the Rose to my Jack.”
They’re both standing now, peering out into the horizon as the car slowly sinks into the ground. A fallen tree lies a few feet away, strippped bare of all its bark, and Lance knows with his longer limbs, he can easily reach it.
“What makes you think I’d want to be Rose?” Keith hadn’t been wrong though.
“Just an observation,” Keith replies calmly as the car sinks lower and lower.
Lance’s leg dangles out in front of him as he scoots forward to reach the tree. Cautiously, he inches off the car roof until he finds stable purchase on the tree branch. It wobbles slightly under his weight, creaking ever so slightly. Balancing successfully, Lance grins at Keith, motioning him to follow.
Keith sends him a look of disbelief, but since the roof is now almost level with the tree, he has no choice but to follow.
“Give me your hand,” Lance grits, trying to maintain balance on the smooth branch while stretching out his arms.
Their hands lock together in a rough embrace.
As Lance tugs Keith to him, his companion’s added weight causes him to teeter, and both feet slip off the branch unexpectedly. Locked together, they both plunge into the muddy water with a horrifying splash. Lance pads at the water as he begins to swim ashore. The mud clings to his clothes, hardening to his skin and hair while dragging him down. Keith’s struggles are similar but he reaches solid ground first.
“Ack,” Keith spits out a clump of mud. “That’s disgusting.” His hair is matted to his face in thick clumps; his gray-violet eyes are hardly visible.
Lance lands beside him, face first into the dusty grass. “Sorry.”
A gurgling echoes behind them, and as they flip around towards the sound, both worn out and exhausted, they gaze at the spectacle of the pink monstrosity in its last seconds of life. It sinks below the surface, never to be seen again. Lance wants to say ‘good riddance’ but that had been their ride, and he shudders at the thought of walking all the way back.
“Sorry about the car,” Lance apologizes after a moment of silence for their dearly departed friend.
It will be missed.
“Don’t sweat it.” Keith stands, brushing dust from his shorts, but the action is futile. They’re soaked and dirty and drained of energy; nothing matters anymore. “Allura’s been looking for a way to get rid of that thing. And stop apologizing.”
“Sor--yeah okay,” Lance quickly corrects himself, following Keith’s example. His muscles creak as he props himself up before standing. This has been a long day.
From sleeping in another man’s car in a stranger’s garage to hiding out at the beach to going on a not-date with a cute boy to almost drowning in mud... Lance is so done.
“Come on, pretty boy, we better start walking to the main road.” Somehow Keith contains an ounce of energy left. Lance strives to have that kind of pep in his step.
Even though his brain is mush, two words become trapped in his brain, replaying on repeat and adding the boost he was searching for. “Wait so even covered in all this silt and mud and the fact that I haven’t had a shower in twenty-four hours, you still think I’m pretty?”
“My lips are sealed.” Keith cocks a grin and trudges onwards.
Lance races to catch up with him.
His feet practically scream for them to stop, and somewhere along the way, Keith has hooked his arm through Lance’s. It supports him enough to keep heading towards civilization.
Mostly, they’ve saved their energy by neglecting conversation, but as Keith continues to stare at him, Lance knows he’s dying to say something. A nod of Lance’s head does the trick. “So I have one question from the game left to use, so here it goes. Why the hell are you with Nyma?”
“Why do you care?”
Warm fingers gently press into his skin. “People date other people because they want to be with them, not because they feel like they’re obligated to. Even I can see you don’t like her.”
Lance swallows, his mouth dry and scratchy. His throat screams in irritation as he begins to gather his thoughts and form them into words. “Truth is, she’s only dating me to get famous herself. Neither of us really care for each other, so we’re just putting on a show. To the world we’re still an item, but to us, we actually broke up a few months ago.”
“But technically that means you still can’t date anyone. Isn’t it better to be alone and eventually find the right person than be with someone for all the wrong reasons? She’s pretty famous now anyways, so why do you still put on a show?”
Lance shakes his head; he can easily answer the second question. “It’s all about marketing. The label thought it would be better if I showed the world I was serious about someone, instead of being a bachelor. They also didn’t like how I came out as bisexual before they wanted me to. I didn’t give a fuck about that one. I didn’t want them to hide, ie: erase, my sexuality.”
Keith nods his head. “That sucks, and I understand all too well about hiding in closets,” he laughs at himself and Lance’s heart warms alongside him. “Ever try managing your career yourself?”
“I’ve thought of it, and I asked Hunk and Pidge, my best friends, if they would help me out. They’re both really supportive about the whole idea. Pidge is already planning on a marketing strategy. I’m just not sure if I’m ready; it’s a big step, and it might seriously tank my career. I’m already trying to branch out for movie parts though,” Lance rambles on, the sun beating onto his skin and his feet becoming two lead bricks in his shoes.
“I was never the best at giving pep talks or anything, but the best thing I can say is the cliche ‘follow your heart.’ If you don’t want to be held down anymore, then don’t be. You’re talented and gorgeous and so smart; you can do anything. And if I can add something to this Nyma situation, get rid of the extra baggage. She doesn’t deserve you anymore.”
Lance gawks, color filling his partially sunburn cheeks. “Y-you’re such a liar. You’re not shit at pep talks at all. Thank you, Keith.”
“Oh,” now it’s Keith’s turn to blush. “No problem.”
Lance nudges him in the side, arms still linked together. “Enough about me, what about you? Any lucky person in your--”
“No,” he interrupts immediately.
“Okaaay,” Lance drags out, hope buzzing through his veins, his heart pumping faster and faster. “If someone asked you out on a date, would you say yes?”
“It depends on who the person is.” Keith cocks an eyebrow, a playful smirk on his lips.
Even now, you’re making me work for it, Lance laughs to himself. “If I asked you on a date, would you say yes?”
“Are you asking me out right now?”
They’ve stopped walking by now, and Lance hops in place, eager to get to the end of this little game. “I don’t know, would you say yes?”
“I think I would,” Keith replies earnestly, his eyes sparkling and chapped lips grinning.
“Good to know.”
Before he has a chance to ask Keith out properly, he begins to walk backwards, oblivious to Keith’s yell of “Watch out!” His foot misses a step and suddenly he’s falling backwards into a pond, water spraying up from his impact and splashing Keith in the face. The liquid cools off his skin as he begins to climb onto the bank. He’s about halfway on land, one leg still tucked into the water, when his heart stutters, skipping a beat.
Keith stands with his back towards him, peeling off his sweaty shirt and revealing the gorgeous muscular planes of his back. His black hair has fallen from the hair tie, fluttering down onto the nape of his neck.
“W--why’re you taking off your shirt?” Lance’s mouth is thick, pulse beating erratically, and a new bit of heat travels farther down his body than he would like.
“Because I’m going swimming?” It had been a terrible idea to address Keith because now he whips around to face Lance. His tanktop straddles his hands, completely off his chest which allows Lance to have a perfect view of those abs. He hadn’t even imagined the possibility of Keith having abs.
“Yeah but we should wash our clothes too.”
“You can save the stripping for another time,” Lance suggests offhandedly, becoming even more flustered every moment Keith refuses to put his shirt back on.
His eyes trail down to the defined v that dips below the waistband of his shorts. Hoping to mask his blush, Lance sinks further into the water.
“O-okay.” In the end, Keith’s shirt lies in a heap by the pond’s shore and Lance rips off his own to level the playing field.
Both sticky with sweat and mud, they tread the water together. Lance can’t help but smirk though as he catches Keith’s eyes roaming over his body, but to be fair, Lance has already made a fool of himself in that department. He can’t use that against Keith. They glide closer together, until their legs hit each other by accident as they try to stay afloat in the deep pond.
This is very romantic , Lance realizes in an instance, everything has been very romantic all day.
“I’m glad I can be myself around you,” he decides to say as he dips half of his face into the water, relieving his sunburnt skin with its cold kisses.
Keith smiles that soft smile again, his eyes hooded. “Yeah, you’re not as bad as I thought you would be.”
“I’m really happy we met.”
In a frenzy of limbs entangling and ripples of water splashing around them, their lips collide with heated passion.
Keith isn’t sure why he thought things would be different. When they kissed, he never felt more alive and blissfully happy. Everything had been perfect; the way Lance’s short brown locks weaved through his fingers, the way their lips clashed against each other with an equal amount of saliva and biting, the way Keith felt as he gazed into Lance’s eyes after, lips swollen and hair even more of a mess.
No, he has no idea why he ever let himself believe things would be different now, like his life meant something to someone else.
The Lance he had been trapped in the wilderness with is not the Lance he returns to the beach with.
“Looks like we’re back to the real world,” Lance says begrudgingly. He pauses, gazing up at the darkening sky and the early pinks and oranges of a magnificent sunset soon to come, a preview before the main routine. “I hate to do this, but you know what happens next.”
Keith’s feet kick up a sprinkling of sand as he body stops with no command. “Excuse me?”
Lance’s eyes are dark, almost a navy color now with no sunlight to shine down on them. “We have to stop this; I can’t let the paparazzi see this--us.”
“ Excuse me!?”
“You can’t tell anyone,” the singer insists, hugging himself, shoulders hunched in defeat.
An overly irate emotion flashes across Keith’s eyes, his lips curling into a sneer. “One minute you say I’m amazing and kiss me, but now you’re embarrassed to be seen with me?” Though he’s furious, Keith manages to choke on his words.
“No, it’s not like that!” Lance’s eyes widen in panic. “I--”
“Am I too ordinary for your unordinary life? Am I going to ruin your career? What happened to our bonding moment? What happened to the Lance that was with me today?” Keith angrily shakes his head, spating out his words. “Well fuck you, Lance McClain, and you know what? I actually thought I found someone to share my life with. Guess I was wrong.”
“No, wait Keith! Please! That’s not what I meant, I--”
His temper reaches its maximum, no longer able to form a sane thought.
“Stay the fuck away from me, McClain, I mean it.” Tears stream down his cheeks as he furiously turns away, marching across the sand dunes to find his friends. Harshly wiping away his tears, he doesn’t glance back at Lance, and much to his disappointment, the singer never chases after him.
Keith finds Shiro and Allura wading in the water, watching the waves lap at their feet. They hold hands and Keith wants to gag. He can’t deal with couple-y stuff right now, probably not ever. The sunset outlines their forms in a second layer composed of dying sunlight. Their long shadows stretch across the beach, disappearing as the sun dips below the water, swallowed up until the morning.
“Keith!” Shiro yells, racing over to where he kneels in the sand. He hadn’t even realized he dropped down, a new batch of fresh tears pooling into the palms of his hands. As he lifts his head up, Shiro’s expression cracks upon seeing Keith’s shattered gaze.
Allura wraps an arm around his shoulders, tugging him into her arms. “What happened? You were gone for so long.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Keith manages to speak.
Shiro gently pats his knee. “It’s okay, baby brother, you don’t have to tell us. We should get home though; where’d you park the car?”
They help Keith to his feet, and he uses Allura and Shiro as crutches as they slowly walk him to the parking lot. He’s numb all over, the sights and sounds of the world around him invisible. All he can see is Lance’s face and all he can hear is Lance’s voice and smell Lance’s scent. He’s never had his heart broken before. It’s the most agonizing thing he has ever experienced.
“The car’s gone; just call a cab.”
Neither of them comment, simply obeying Keith’s command.
Shiro passes a bowl of ice cream into his hands, settling on the couch right next to him. Gloomy, Keith grabs the spoon, shoveling the ice cream into his mouth until he winches at the tinglings of an oncoming brain freeze. It melts in his mouth, soothing his raw throat and upset stomach.
Water droplets from his hair drip onto his shoulders, drenched from his recent shower. Every trace of his adventure with Lance has been washed away, and though Keith is more than pissed at the singer, he’s sad he can no longer smell Lance’s cologne clinging to his skin.
“I’m going to take a wild guess and say whatever happened today was because of Lance,” Shiro gently starts to speak.
Just like that, Keith divulges every little thing he has been keeping locked away in his brain since last night. How Lance hit him on the head with the door, the hospital visit, the garage, the beach, and the whole adventure after. He decides to leave out the part about the kiss, trapping that away in a deep part of his memories. It’s something he can not share, believing the minute he does, it will vanish like dreams do when one wakes up.
“Then he just dumps me like I’m a piece of trash. Like I wasn’t good enough to be seen with him.” He knows Shiro--and Allura, though right now she’s out picking up a rental car--is pissed at Lance, but he prevents Shiro from saying anything bad about the singer. He won’t have it. Lance is a good man despite what he did. Keith’s gaze grabs hold of Shiro. “It hurts; I can’t make it stop.”
“You’ve been caught in our family’s curse,” Shiro says, “When we give away our heart, we give it away fully.”
“I want it to go away,” Keith pleads, placing the bowl down onto the coffee table and burying his face into the couch pillow.
“In time it will.”
In Keith’s hands, he toys with a sea shell, the last remnants of Lance he will ever have.
“That was great guys,” Lance says to his bandmates, “Let’s take a break.”
As everyone shuffles away, hanging up their instruments and sheet music, Lance stares at the offending words on the crumpled piece of paper. They’re the song lyrics he had written in the car, the one that’s now a tainted memory, stained by his own stupidity. His bandmates had immediately approved of the song when hearing it for the first time, loving the new style and direction Lance was taking.
Now the words leave a foul taste in his mouth.
Pidge hangs back, the base still strapped across her body. The studio’s door closes with a silent click, and she whips her head around, stalking up to Lance.
“What the hell happened?”
“Um, what?” Lance blinks at her.
Aggravatingly tugging at a lock of her choppy hair, she levels an exasperated expression at him. “You’ve been moping all day. The other bozos in the group might not be able to tell, but your singing sucked.”
“Well, thanks, Pidge, that’s exactly what I needed to hear.”
“It’s because of Keith,” Hunk interrupts as he enters the room. The little traitor.
“Oh, I’m sorry. D-did he break your heart?” Pidge’s gaze softens, her small hand gripping his shoulder even though she has to stand on her tiptoes to reach him.
Lance swallows his guilt and tears. “No, I broke his. He hates me now and I didn’t mean any of it. I was just so tired and it came out so wrong.”
With a quiet but powerful roar, he crumples the lyrics in his hand, chucking them at the nearest wall. Lance sinks to his knees, head in his hands. He’s such a fuck up. It’s only a matter of time before he ruins his career too. Feeling Hunk’s presence kneeling in front of him and Pidge standing by his side, Lance gradually opens his eyes.
“It’s no use beating yourself up over the past. You have to move forward. You’ll eventually find someone who makes you forget about Keith,” Hunk says, “But for now you have to live in the present.”
“You don’t understand.” Lance reaches into his pocket to drag out his phone, scrolling through the various pictures from their impromptu adventure. He settles on the one he secretly took of Keith as he climbed out of the pond, lips swollen and hair mussed, sticking up in random angles thanks to the water and Lance’s hands running through his locks. In this photo, Keith is carefree, happy. That’s how Lance wants to remember him.
“You don’t understand,” Lance repeats again, “I don’t want to forget him.”
“Lance,” Pidge says kindly with no mockery to be found in her voice, “You don’t have to forget him; you just have to let him go. You have to focus on your career.”
He stares at both of his friends equally. “That’s another thing I’ve been thinking about. I want to manage myself, well with you guys of course, and only for my music career for right now. K-Keith believed I could do it, and I want to make him proud.”
His friends gaze intenetly at each other, a secret conversation passing back and forth between their eyes. They nod in a silent agreement and turn to him with large grins. “We’ve been waiting to hear that for awhile now. We’re so excited to start,” Pidge speaks rapidly, rushing to her computer. “I’ve had so many marketing ideas over the years that the record label refused to touch. Specifically marketing you in the LGBT+ community. Your producers never allowed you to sing about what you want; I think it’s time you did.”
“Pidge, Pidge,” Lance raises his voice over the clacking of the computer keys. “That’s great, honestly. But one step at a time; I still have to tell the label.”
A glare from the electric lights overhead bounce off the lenses of her glasses, hiding her eyes from view. “Of course. I’m just so happy!”
“We both are,” Hunk adds on, “But I think there’s one more thing you have to do.”
Lance stands, phone tucked away in his palm. “You’re right, it’s time I completely broke up with Nyma.”
The faint sound of someone clearing their throat causes every occupant in the room to jump, startled. In the doorway stands Nyma, her hair scooped up into a bun and a few leftover strands frame her face. She wears an easy smile. “Good, because I was just coming over to break it off with you,” Nyma says, eyes as equally bright as her smile, undeterred by their words.
“So no hard feelings?” Lance asks hesitantly, stepping forward but a wide gap separates them.
“No hard feelings. Good luck with your mystery man.” Though no malice can be found hidden in Nyma’s words, he can still detect a hint of jealousy.
As she walks out of the studio and out of his life, he ducks his head back down to his phone. The screen is frozen on a picture of them in front of the Hollywood sign, both innocent of what was to come later in the day. A resolve slowly begins to swirl through Lance’s mind.
Three days later--it may have been less though; Keith can’t tell anymore, having been lost to reality by living in his own thoughts--it’s time to leave LA and Keith can’t lie and say he will miss it. They stand outside the airport, luggage by their feet and a very heartfelt departing between Shiro and Allura. Of course his brother plans on visiting her again soon; there’s a wedding to be planned after all.
Shiro begins to cart their suitcases into the airport, leaving Allura behind with Keith. Immediately she proceeds to embrace him in a tight hug. Her bushy hair practically suffocates him and his ribs feel as if they’re breaking from the strength of the hug, but he doesn’t mind. In fact, he finds it comforting.
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out with him, Keith,” she whispers into his ear.
“So am I.”
No more tears travel down his cheeks, but Lance’s image easily pops up in his mind. Keith promises himself not to think of him on the flight home.
“Keith Kogane. What a nice name.” Lotor holds up a perfect photograph of Keith, enraged and angrily stomping away from Lance on the beach. The picture clearly showcases a batch of tears streaming down his face. Lance’s heart breaks again.
“Where did you get that picture?” he chokes out, glaring at Lotor.
They’re in a relatively large office, and a wide window allows for a perfect view of the LA skyline. The chair is rock hard under Lance’s ass, causing him to shift around to find a more comfortable position. There is none, and Lance suspects that that is the point.
Monday is living up to be the worst of days, as usual.
Lotor slides the photo to Lance across the mahogany desk. It hurts him to even look at it, much less pick it up like he knows the movie producer is dying for him to do. A wicked gleam shines in his eyes. “Lance, the paparazzi have been following you around for two days. You slipped up so many times; you’re obviously not taking this seriously. I’m not sure if you’ll be right for this movie part.”
“Or,” Lotor begins pleasantly though Lance doubts what he has to say next is going to be pleasant at all. “You can say that this boy is just some crazy fan, who’s been following you around for the last few days. You don’t know him and he means nothing to you. Then maybe I can get you this part for the movie.”
A thought doesn’t even cross his mind as he voices his response. “No. I won’t. I’m sorry to have wasted your time, but I don’t think I want a part in this movie if that’s what I have to do to get it.”
The chair slides across the floor, squeaking slightly as he stands. Throwing his jacket over his shoulder, Lance proceeds to the door. Each step lifts a weight off his shoulders until the producer’s voice floats through the room.
Lotor rests his chin on top of his hands, cocking his head to the side and studying Lance closely. “Suit yourself. This info is going to go public soon, you know that right?”
Lance’s hand tightens around the doorknob as he peers over his shoulders, eyes defiant. “I’m ready.”
“I’m sure you are, but is he?”
Shiro sighs as he spots the channel Keith had stopped on, the remote hanging loosely in his hands. The same reporter from a week ago walks into the camera shot. “You shouldn’t be watching this.”
“I know, but I want to.”
“College starts again tomorrow,” Shiro says offhandedly, a pointed look sent Keith’s way. “You should be preparing for that.”
Keith’s eyes are glued to the screen, hoping for any news on Lance. Maybe even an interview where Keith can have a proper view of Lance. He knows this isn’t healthy, but part of him, the part that has now calmed down after the ordeal, hopes their story together isn’t finished.
The reporter begins her speech, her mouth opening wide, and her perfect white teeth sparkle.
“Lance McClain breaks up with Nyma for an ordinary boy from who knows where? Sounds like something straight out of a movie. We didn’t believe it ourselves of course, and upon further digging we found out the real truth. As you all know, Lance announced that he was bisexual a little over a year ago, which was most likely a publicity stunt at the time. Now, it seems Lance has sensed his career is coming to an end soon, and planned to make noise about himself to get his original hype back. Around the same time Keith Kogane comes into the picture, wrapping Lance around his little finger and sensing an opportunity to seduce the singer while becoming fa--”
The screen blinks into darkness, and Shiro angrily glares at the blank TV, having grabbed the remote from Keith’s limp grip. “It’s all a bunch of shit, Keith. You know the truth and that’s all that matters.”
“I think I know why he didn’t want to be seen with me. It wasn’t about something selfish for his image; he was being selfless. He wanted to save me; he wanted to save me.” Keith stares at the palms of his hands, shocked by his realization. “But like the moron I am, I wouldn’t let him explain. I’m the one to blame for this mess. I ruined everything and now I’ll never get to see him again.”
Shiro sits beside him now, a hand sliding through Keith’s hair to calm him. “Never say never.”
In his brief hysterics, Keith misses that knowing smirk.
“You have to go to him. You have to make this right,” Hunk says, the gossip channel continuing to play somewhere in another room of Lance’s house. Luckily, the reporter’s words can barely be deciphered.
“What do you think I’m doing?” Lance sasses, biting back as he flies across his room, stuffing unknown clothes into an old soccer duffle bag. Tooth brush: check, hairbrush: check, underwear: check.
He rakes a hand through his hair, his blunt nails scraping across his scalp. Biting his lips, he searches the room for anything else he may have missed, passing over Hunk resting on the bed and the state of disarray his bedroom has become. He had been so lucky to catch a last minute flight to Keith’s state; his laptop still illuminates the purchase price. He had also been so lucky that he has his own credit card.
“Tell my family I’ll be back in a few days, possibly longer. Hopefully longer.” Lance begins to grip his hair harshly, panic consuming his thoughts. “Oh God, what if he doesn’t take me back? What if he punches me in the face? Wha-”
“Lance!” Hunk cuts through, leaping away from the bed and standing in front of his friend. Two large hands drop onto his shoulders. “Be yourself and explain everything. If he doesn’t take you back, then it wasn’t meant to be. If he does, I hope this will be the start of a wonderful life together.”
Panic subsiding and hope reclaiming its lost home, Lance simply nods, the markings of a smile appearing on his face.
As Keith walks out of his dorm building, he almost falls down the stairs. A textbook for a class on the opposite side of the campus falls from his grasp, tumbling to the ground in a loud thump. This startles the person who has been walking back and forth on the steps mumbling to himself. When the man lifts his head, beautiful blue eyes puncture his lungs, and Keith is left gasping for air.
“Did Shiro tell you where to find me?” Keith asks, casually bending down to pick up his Calc book. Some pages have bent slightly, but since it was already a used copy, Keith could care less. He smoothes out the pages though, thankfully finding something to do as he and Lance continue to have a staring contest.
A breeze ripples through Lance’s hair; it seems to pull him away from his thoughts. “Y-yeah, your brother was surprisingly nice.”
Of course Shiro would be behind this , Keith thinks but he isn’t angry at all. He has to mask his giddiness though, not wanting to have his hopes dashed. “So what are you doing here?”
“Right, well first,” Lance steps closer to him and Keith doesn’t back away so the singer takes this as a sign to hold out a black beanie and a new phone from behind his back. “You forgot some things back in LA.”
“You remembered,” Keith whispers, gently taking what belongs to him. He peers up at Lance again, cocking one eyebrow. “But is this really the only reason you came here?”
Sheepishly, Lance rubs the back of his neck. “There are also a few things I forgot to say…”
“And those would be?” Keith playfully coaxes, walking ever so closer to Lance. Despite his attempts, a small, hesitant smile tingles at his lips, his eyes glimmering in the sunlight.
Lance is silent for a moment, dumbly staring at Keith, until he shakes his head to refocus. “I was stupid back on the beach; I didn’t mean what I said. I was so worried about the press twisting our story and ruining your image that I didn’t even want to take that chance. It seems like I fucked that up anyways.”
With the textbook, beanie, and phone now resting on the ground, Keith cups the singer’s face in both hands. His thumbs catch any preemptive tears welling up in Lance’s eyes. “Lance, I don’t care about that. Hollywood screws around with people all the time; I can handle it. A-and I’m sorry for running off like that. I should have stayed and listened.”
A warm smile slips on his face, but he places a finger on Keith’s lips, silencing him. “Ah, ah, ah, don’t interrupt. I planned this whole speech out on the plane.”
“Wow, you did come prepared.”
Lance quietly chuckles, dipping his head for a second to allow the initial blush to recede from his cheeks. Honestly, Keith is probably missing his morning class right now, but he could care less. All he cares about is this man in front of him with his perfect personality and stunning blue eyes and overall beautiful features. The singer straightens, continuing on with his speech.
“You mean so much to me, Keith. I’ve never found that one person who I could just be myself around, that one person who cares for me, that one person I could easily fall in love with. I didn’t even realize that type of person existed until I bonked you on the head. Trust me, that was the best hospital visit of my life.”
They both laugh, leaning in closer until their foreheads touch and lips are only inches apart. Morning dew peppers the tops of their shoes.
“I am so glad I found you,” Lance whispers between them. “I never want to lose you again.”
“I don’t want to lose you either.” Keith places a chaste kiss on Lance’s lips, conscious of students mulling around them, but it’s a promise for later. There are many promises made to each other right now that will never be broken. “Thank you for coming back to me.”
“Thank you for taking me back.”
They walk hand and hand around the quad, laughing at untold stories and casting loving glances to each other. The textbook is tucked under Keith’s arms even though he has no use for it now. He clutches his new phone, scrolling through photos Lance had subtly added to his camera roll. They’re all selfies of a certain someone and he loves every last one of them.
“Can I have your number?” Keith asks, gazing at Lance.
“It’s already in the phone,” Lance cheekily grins, lacing his fingers through Keith’s.
“I should have expected nothing less.”
A Year and a Half Later
Interviewer: I’m here today with Lance McClain, currently one of the most popular singers on the charts, and now he will be adding actor to his list of talents.
Lance: Thanks for the intro… Mark. Can I call you Mark?
Interviewer: *chuckles* Of course. Now why don’t you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be part of the soon to be biggest blockbuster of the summer.
Lance: I can’t say much, not with the NDA breathing down my neck, but I can say it’s action packed and has an awesome storyline. There’s also plenty of funny moments provided by yours truly.
Interviewer: If we’re being honest here, I’m already planning to purchase my tickets a month in advance.
Lance: Awesome! You’re going to love it.
Interviewer: Moving on to something you can talk more about, what is it like being, I guess you can say, your own boss, in the sense of having no record label to answer to?
Lance: As most of my fans know, it was a little bit of a struggle in the beginning, having to market and run everything ourselves. I also wasn’t able to release as many new songs as I would have liked. But everyone in my life has been so supportive; they’ve really helped me get through the initial rough patch.
Interviewer: If I remember correctly, one of the first new songs you released on your own was titled “Guillotine.” I think that song re-launched your career more than a record label ever could.
Lance: You’re right about that, Mark. Funny thing about that song, I actually wrote it while I was on my kinda-but-not-really first date with Keith.
Interviewer: And how are things going in the romance department?
Lance: I was wondering how long it was going to take until you started asking. Keith said right away, so it looks like I won that bet. *they both laugh* To answer your question, things are excellent. Don’t tell him I told you this, but I think he’s going to propose to me sometime this week. Let’s keep that a secret between us though; I want him to be surprised when I say 'yes.'
Interviewer: You heard it here first folks, Lance McClain is soon going to be a very lucky man. Best of luck to the both of you!