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babysitting for dummies

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Keith sighed, wondering what was going through his head when he agreed to this. Parking his motorcycle next to the sidewalk, he made his way to the house. He took his phone out of his pocket to ensure that this was the address his brother had sent him the day before. After he took a deep breath he knocked on the door.

“Uh, hi,” Keith said dumbly when a middle aged woman in a maroon cocktail dress, whom he assumed was the mother, appeared in front of him. “I’m here to babysit your, uh, the, uh kids...”

“You’re not Shiro.” The lady, who he was trying remember the name of, raised an eyebrow.

Ouch. Keith tried not to let that sting too hard. Shiro, his older brother, was revered by many in his neighborhood. He was usually the first person their neighbors called when they needed someone to look after their kids. So when she opened the door expecting Shiro but was greeted with Keith instead, her reaction was understandable.

Keith chuckled awkwardly. “Shiro couldn’t make it so he sent me instead. I’m his, uh, brother.”

“Oh! Well in that case, come on in!” She chirped, her whole demeanor changing.

Keith glanced behind his shoulder, wondering if it was too late to back out of this— his motorcycle was right there— before reluctantly following behind her into the home.

“So down that hall, the first door on your right is Beaux’s room and right across from that is...” Keith kind of maybe sort of zoned out at that point. Hey, don’t judge him, though. He couldn’t help all the thoughts of what am I doing here? and Why, Shiro? Why me? plaguing his mind. If Keith was being honest, he couldn’t stand kids. Granted, he’s never really been around many children in his life. Or any children, really. But Keith just knows that he hates them. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. But still. He doesn’t like people in general, so what would make children any different?

“...Does that sound good?”

Keith snapped out of his reverie. “I’m sorry, what?”

The lady gave him a concerned look. “What’s wrong, are you nervous? That’s precious! Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be fine. The kids normally don’t misbehave too badly, and if they do, it’s probably nothing you haven’t seen before, right? Anyway I really should get going, I don’t wanna be late. I’ll be back around eleven, eleven-thirty at the latest. Sound good?”

Keith opened his mouth to protest that no, he actually had no experience in this department at all, but before he knew it she was out of the house.

“Fantastic,” he muttered.

“Who are you?” a young boy appeared, who Keith assumed was between eight and ten years old.

“Err, I’m Keith. Your babysitter for today.” He scratched at the back of his neck anxiously. In case it wasn’t obvious, Keith wasn’t the most sociable person out there. “And you are...?”

“Beaux,” the kid answered boredly, rolling his eyes. “And for your information, I don’t need a babysitter.” Beaux pushed past Keith, walking off to a different room that Keith guessed was the living room. Keith watched as he flopped onto the tan upholstered couch. Keith noticed Beaux pick up the video game controller sitting on the coffee table in front of him.

Marching over to the boy, he snatched the controller from his hands and placed a hand on his hip. “Look. You may claim to not need a babysitter, but apparently that’s not what your mother thinks, otherwise she wouldn’t have called me.”

Beaux placed a hand on his chin quizzically. “If I remember correctly my mom called your brother, not you.”

Wow. “You heard that?”

“I didn’t have to. Shiro’s the one who usually comes.” Beaux rolled his eyes again.

“Don’t roll your eyes at me!” Keith bellowed. This only made him roll his eyes again probably to spite him. Whatever. He’d only known this kid for maybe five minutes and he was already peeved by him. See, this is exactly why Keith did not like children. Beaux succeeded in proving his All Children Are Brats Theory.

Beaux stuck his tongue out at him like a venomous snake. “You’re not the boss of me!”

“Actually, for the next few hours, I kinda am.” The kid huffed and reached for the controller in Keith’s hand, but the older boy swatted his hand away, crossing his arms over his chest, unamused. Keith closed his eyes, thinking, what would Shiro do? “You can’t play until you’ve eaten,” said Keith with authority.

“But I’m not hungry!”

“I didn’t sign up for this,” Keith muttered to himself, then to the boy he said,”I don’t care. Just eat the damn food your mom was kind enough to prepare for you.”

“I’m. Not. Hungry,” Beaux repeated.

This was going to be a long night.

Eventually they came up with a compromise. Now Keith didn’t know much about children-- okay, he knew absolutely nothing about them, but he figured that the only way to stop this kid from annoying him any further was to let him have something he actually wants. So Keith decided that he could play his video game if he ate while playing. It took a lot of convincing but somehow it led to an agreement between the two of them.

About a fifteen minutes later, Keith was bored. He had brought a book with him, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, to read but early on he discovered how difficult it was to concentrate with the racket being made from Beaux and his video game.

Beaux paused the game. “If you’re gonna be here you might as well have some fun, too.”

“Huh?”

The kid handed Keith a controller. “Do I have to spell it out for you? Gosh. Do. You. Want. To. Play?”

Keith wasn’t sure what to make of this, but really, what did Keith have to lose? It’s not like there was much else to do, anyway. “You’ve been playing all this time, you’ve had more practice. You’ll probably beat me,” Keith told him, putting on a fake pout and feigning nervousness.

“Exactly!” Beaux said with an evil grin.

Keith narrowed his violet eyes. “Oh, I see how it is. It’s on!”

 

Time flew by and before Keith knew it, Beaux’s mom was pulling into the driveway. It was time to leave. Playing that video game with the kid was actually kinda.... Fun. The kid ended up winning the first time, but since Keith kept insisting that he let him win, it resulted in five- or ten, who really knows- additional games. He liked to think the two of them bonded. Somehow the game made Beaux more tolerable.

The mom paid him fifteen dollars per hour, so he received seventy-five dollars in total. Not too shabby, he thought to himself.

Apparently Keith displayed a great first impression with the kid because the mom, who he learned was named Shelby, contacted him to babysit him a week later. And the week after that. And the week after that.nd the week after that. And the week after that.

Which brings Keith to today. He was currently watching Beaux at the park. Beaux met some friends there, so they were all running around and doing their Thing.

As much as Keith had come to tolerate the younger boy he cherished every opportunity he had to just be alone. Most people usually view alone time as a negative thing. They think a person is crazy for not always enjoying the company of other people. Keith thought that was crap. Being by himself lets him think and relax. In Keith’s book solitude meant contentment. On the fresh grass, he set an X Files blanket, and putting on his raybans, he lie down.

He was about to fall asleep when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He groaned and said groggily,”You ready to go now, Beaux?”

“Bii?”

“No, I said Beaux,” he sat up and lifted his sunglasses from his eyes.

“Boh?”

“Uh, yes...”

“Oh, Bi!” The little girl in front of him giggled. With golden blonde hair tied up in pigtails and a baby face, she had to be no older than four.

Keith sighed. “No, it’s Beaux. Who are you anyway?” He inquired, squinting.

“Elise!” She giggled again. This is one of the reasons why he wasn’t particularly fond of children. Especially younger ones like her. Do they ever shut up?

“And what brings you here, Elise?,” He asked trying to maintain an even voice,”And on top of me at that?” Somehow he only now noticed her leaning on him, her head resting on his shoulder.

“I’m running away from my brother and Lance!” She replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Keith’s eyebrows knit together. “Who?” Then he processed what she said. “Wait, why?”

Before she could answer he heard some serious yelling.

“What the heck was that for?!”

“You tripped me!”

“No I didn’t— you fell!”

Keith sighed and walked over to Beaux and his friend group. “What is going on here?”

Beaux turned to him. “Mike isn’t my best friend anymore, that’s what’s going on.”

“Oh, come on don’t you think you’re being a little over dramatic?”

Then another boy, who looked to be about Keith’s age, appeared. Keith wasn’t gonna lie, he was cute. He had golden brown skin, and legs for miles. Sweet Jesus. His gay ass couldn’t handle it. “What happened?” the boy asked.

“Lancey Lance!” Elise ran over to him. Keith almost forgot she was next to him.

Lance gasped. “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you! You’re really getting good at hide and seek, aren’t you?”

Beaux’s friend, Mike, Keith presumed, cried out in pain. Exaggeratedly. It sounded fake to Keith, but okay. “My ankle hurts!” he whined.

“What happened?” Lance repeated.

“He tripped me!” Mike pointed an accusing finger at Beaux.

“No, I didn’t!”

“Yes you did!”

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

“Keith, you believe me, right?” Beaux asked.

“Of course I do, kiddo.”

“And you believe me?” Mike asked Lance.

“Yes, don’t worry, those two are entitled to their own wrong opinion, that’s fine,” Lance assured him.

“Excuse me?” Keith demanded incredulously.

“You heard me. If this boy right here says that Beaux tripped him, then he tripped him. My boy wouldn’t lie to me.” He crouched down to Mike’s level, who had been on the ground this whole time, to get a closer look at his ankle. “I mean, just look at him! He’s miserable! His ankle could be sprained!”

For some reason Keith thought that had to be an exaggeration. “Yeah, well, Beaux isn’t a liar either.” Keith actually wasn’t sure how true that was. He’d only known him for a few weeks. But Lance didn’t need to know that. “Also he’s not the type to just trip people for no reason, so even if he did maybe your kid deserved it. Maybe he was annoyed by him. Like the way I’m annoyed by you right now,” Keith said, crossing his arms over his chest. Cute or not, Lance was becoming a thorn in his side real fast.

“Listen, mullet,” Lance stepped closer to Keith, their proximity shrinking. Keith’s heart was running a marathon in his chest. He tried to keep a straight face while on the inside, ‘straight’ was the last thing on his mind. God damn it. “My kid is right, yours is wrong. Deal with it.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Keith rolled his eyes. “Come on, Beaux, let’s go.”

 

“Who even was that guy?” Keith asked Beaux the next time he babysat, a few days later.

“Lance,” Beaux shrugged. “He’s Mike’s usual babysitter.”

“I see,” said Keith as he scooped some cookie dough ice cream for both of them. Yes, Keith was well aware that it was November and getting cold but did he care? Not really. Technically Beaux wasn’t supposed to have sweets before dinner but what Beaux’s mother doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Besides, Keith thought they deserved it after what they had to deal with that day. “And the girl?”

“Oh, her,” Mike rolled his eyes. “She’s Mike’s younger sister. Pretty annoying, right?”

“I mean I guess...“

“Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Mike and his sister are dead to me. I wish they didn’t live across the street so I don’t have to see them anymore,” he pouted.

Keith stopped eating his ice cream to look at him. “Buddy, I know you two had a disagreement but—“

“But nothing. I hate him now. And he hates me. And his babysitter seems to not like you so...”

Keith knew there was no point in arguing. Their developing friendship aside, he figured that if he got on the kid’s bad side, he could kiss this babysitting job goodbye. Not that he wanted to continue doing this, mind you. It just paid really well. That’s all.

“Whatever you say, buddy.” Just then his phone rang. “Hello?”

“Keith! How’s your kid doing?” His friend Pidge teased (it was short for Katie — don’t ask him how that worked because he honestly didn’t know either. He just rolled with it.)

Keith groaned. “Would you stop with that? He’s not my kid.”

“I don’t know, you’ve been spending quite some time there. Either you have a secret child I didn’t know about or—“

“Or what?”

“Or you’re not actually a babysitter and you’re dating someone behind my back.” Keith’s face burned a deep crimson when his mind automatically wandered to Lance’s pretty face. Keith, that’s gay, he told himself.

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

Pidge laughed. “I’m just kidding. I had a feeling the babysitting gene ran in the family. It’s just hard to believe considering you’ve always claimed to hate children... yet here you are.”

“Yeah, well.”

“Who are you talking to?” Beaux cocked his head to the side questioningly.

“Uh, my friend.”

“Ooh, who’s in the background? Is it the kid? Put him on the phone!” Pidge asked.

Keith sighed and put it on speaker. “Pidge, meet Beaux.”

“What kind of name is Pidge?” Beaux’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“What kind of name is Beaux?”

“It’s the one my mom gave me!”

“And this is the one my mom gave me.”

Keith furrowed his eyebrows. “Pidge, the name your mom gave you was Ka-“

“Shut up, Keith.” Then, directing her attention to the kid again, asked,”Isn’t Keith an idiot?”

“The biggest,” Beaux agreed.

“Hey!” Keith said in protest.

“Anyway the reason I called was because some friends and I were gonna go ice skating tomorrow and I just wanted to know if you wanted to join us?”

Keith pondered about it for a moment. “Will anyone I know be there?”

“Hunk,” said Pidge, “since he recently started his new part time job there. And his coworker, I forgot his name. But he really wanted to introduce him to us.”

“Oh, right,” said Keith. He’d forgotten Hunk worked at an ice skating rink.

“Yeah, so, you coming? You’re not babysitting again, are you?”

“Nah, I’m free. I can go.”

“Sweet! I’ll let Hunk know! I should go, Matt’s in town and wanted to go out for dinner.”

“Oh, bye then. Tell Matt I say hi.”

When he hung up Beaux looked at him with eager eyes. Oh no. Keith had a feeling he knew what was coming.

“No.”

“But I didn’t even say anything!” the kid whined.

“I know what you were thinking. You were gonna ask to come ice skating with me,” he deadpanned.

“And why can’t I?”

“Buddy, tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. I’m sure your mom wants to spend time with you and your family all day.”

“What about your family then?”

Keith paused, frozen in his seat as his face reddened in embarrassment. He wasn’t sure how to tell him that the only family he has is Shiro, who’s off in Europe studying abroad, so he most likely wouldn’t be joining him for their traditional Thanksgiving dinner. “I’m gonna be eating with my friends Pidge and Hunk and their families.”

Keith could tell he was winning here when Beaux just sighed in defeat. For some reason Keith felt a pinch of — what was it? Guilt? — resonate in his chest. “But uh, is there anything else I could do to make up for it?”

“Well, there is this new video game....” the kid grinned devilishly.

 

The next day was ice skating day. He studied the giant sign in the front. ‘The Frozone.’ He rolled his eyes at the cheesy name but nonetheless he was here. He spotted Pidge immediately after entering the building. They waved over to him enthusiastically.

“Hey,” he said as he made his way toward them.

“Hey Keith!”

“Have you gotten your skates yet?”

“Nah, I was just gonna wait till you got here,” they told him. He’s been friends with Pidge for a few years yet he’s still not used to people being.... nice to him like that. He knew it wasn’t anything special; anyone would do that for a friend... but the fact that someone was being considerate towards him and actually waited for him made him feel weird. He didn’t think he deserved it.

He wasn’t sure how to respond so he just said,“Oh okay.”

“Yes, that’ll be $7.50, ma’am,” he heard a familiar voice chirp as they rounded the corner. Their friend Hunk stood sandwiched between a black marble counter and a wide wall full of various sizes if ice skates.

“Hi Hunk!” Pidge greeted.

“Hey guys! My shift will be done in about ten minutes then I can join y’all on the ice,” he explained.

“Oh, that’s fine,” Pidge assured him.

“In the meantime, what size?” Pidge told him and they both turned to ask the raven haired boy but Keith was frozen where he was standing.

His attention was focused on the person entering the building. His jaw hung open. In a navy blue hoodie and a beanie to match appeared a familiar boy. Lance. Lance must’ve felt his stare because soon their eyes met, leading to Keith’s eyes narrowing tauntingly.

“Hello? Earth to Keith?”

“What’s HE doing here?!” Both Keith and Lace demanded in unison, venom in both of their voices.

“Oh, perfect, you two already know each other!” said Hunk.

“Unfortunately,” muttered Keith.

Pidge coughed. “Is someone gonna introduce me or?”

Brushing past Keith Lance walked over to Pidge and stuck his hand out for a handshake. “Hi! The name’s Lance,” the taller boy introduced himself with confidence and flair. He gave them a smirk, as if knowing his name was a privilege that not many had the pleasure of experiencing. He hated him.

“Hey, Hunk! Your grind never stops, huh?” Lance joked.

Hunk swatted aimlessly at the air, chuckling.

Lance nodded in understanding. “Man, I’m glad I only work in the mornings. I don’t know how you do it, buddy. Anyway you said you had two friends you wanted to introduce me to?” Wait. He worked here?

“Yeah, they’re standing in front of you,” he laughed. So that meant —

“So it’s Pidge and who else?” Lance’s eyes wandered around their vicinity. Was Lance —

“You’re not serious,” Hunk said as he punched away at the buttons on the cash register.

“Huh?”

Keith spoke up, face-palming himself. “I’m the other friend, idiot.”

“OH.” Keith hated himself for thinking Lance’s cluelessness was cute.

“How do you guys even know each other?” Pidge asked, confused.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m not skating with him,” Keith asserted stubbornly.

“Well don’t think I wanna skate with you, either,” Lance huffed.

Pidge was Done. “Guys. Chill. It’s Thanksgiving. Whatever beef you two have, let it go. Just for today. Let’s just skate. Got it?”

Keith and Lance gulped and reluctantly nodded.

 

Twenty minutes into skating, Keith was already regretting every decision he’d made up to this moment. He’d forgotten how long it’d been since he last did this. It had to have been at least a year. He found himself hanging onto the perimeter of the wall like his life depended on it. He was pathetic.

He heard a chuckle on his left side. “Need help?”

Unwilling to give in too easily, his pride won and he answered, “No, I’m good.”

He studied him for a few seconds, clearly reading right through him. “....Alright then, if you’re sure. I work as a skate instructor here; I’ve had experience with all levels of skaters. I could help you.”

Keith was having a hard time reading him. Should he trust him? Was this a trick? His sudden change of heart made him suspicious. “Well, if I do end up needing assistance I guess I know who to turn to.”

Lance nodded and skated away.

Keith took a deep breath. “Okay, Keith, you can do this,” he gave himself a brief pep talk. He gently pushed off of the wall, and for a good maybe fifteen seconds he was gliding smoothly. Then he reached out for balance as he realized he didn’t have anything to hold onto. He didn’t feel grounded. He didn’t feel stable. Before he knew it his feet slipped on the ice and he landed on his butt. Lovely.

Lance skated back over to him, doubling over in laughter. “Are you sure you don’t need my help?”

Keith groaned in defeat.

“Here,” Lance reached out his hands, which Keith graciously held onto in order to get himself back on his feet. Keith was like a bar of soap, difficult to grasp due to slipping and sliding. Lance snaked his arms around Keith to keep a hold on him. For a moment he was locked in his embrace, unable to take his gaze away from Lance’s ocean eyes. Beautiful, Keith thought. “I gotcha, buddy,” Lance reassured him softly.

Keith couldn’t hide the blush from his face. He felt helpless in his arms but at the same time he didn’t really mind. “Th-thanks.”

For a second, Lance let go. Keith’s widened, “Wh-What are you doing?”

“Relax, it’ll be okay.” He put his elbow out in front of him. “Just — hold onto me, yeah?”

“O-okay.” They linked arms and skated.

Keith tried not to think about their close proximity or his heartbeat doing somersaults in his chest or the butterflies fluttering in his stomach or the heat rising in his cheeks or the way he felt like this just felt right. Time didn’t feel real. This didn’t feel real. Keith wasn’t entirely sure how it happened but somehow they ended up holding hands.

Wow.

“You’re doing great!” Lance praised him. “Do you think you got the hang of this now?”

Keith nodded dumbly.

“Do you want me to let go?”

No, please don’t, Keith thought selfishly. “I- I mean if you want to.”

Lance had an unreadable expression on his face. “I- I don’t know if I want to,” he said sheepishly.

Oh.

“Lance, I-“

Too caught up in their moment, they hadn’t realized what direction they were heading in. Needless to say, they crashed into another couple skating in their direction.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” Lance apologized, embarrassed.

“We weren’t watching where we were going,” Keith explained.

The two girls just gave each other knowing smiles.

“It’s okay, we totally understand,” one of them said. She had a purple pixie cut and wore a cropped grey hoodie with high waisted jeans and looked like she could knock you out with just one look if she wanted to.

“I remember our honeymoon phase,” the other girl said dreamily. She looked like the polar opposite of her girlfriend. The first girl was wearing dark colors and had dark hair, whereas this girl had cotton candy pink hair and wore a sweater with a smiley face on it. “I’d get lost in Acxa's eyes for so long everything else just stopped existing, even if only for a second.” Her girlfriend smiled fondly at her.

“What?” Keith was confused. “Honeymoon phase?”

“We’re not —“

Axca's girlfriend just laughed. “Oh, you must be in the denial phase.”

“The what phase?”

The first girl rolled her eyes. “Ezor, let’s go. You’re scaring them. They’ll figure it out themselves.” She whispered something in her lover’s ear which made her cheeks turn as pink as her hair. She nodded eagerly and then they skated away.

“What the fuck was that?” Keith asked. They got themselves up onto their feet (Keith may or may not have needed Lance’s help with that) and Lance skated them to the side so that they were positioned next to the wall.

Lance laughed nervously. “Who knows? Girls are weird. Especially in relationships.”

“Huh. I wouldn’t know,” said Keith.

“Never had a girlfriend?”

“Nah, I’ve always preferred guys,” Keith shrugged nonchalantly.

If Lance was surprised he didn’t show it. “Oh! That’s great! I’m pan, so.”

“Nice.”

“Yeah. Uh. Listen, I—” Lance looked like he was about to say something but it caught in his throat.

“Yeah?” Keith questions curiously.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot the other day. I was a jerk and that was uncalled for.”

Keith could not believe what he was hearing. “Y-you’re apologizing?” He immediately regretted that query. What kind of idiot asks that? Of course he was, what else would he be doing?

“Yes?”

“Oh. Then in that case, I guess I have some apologizing to do myself. Lance, I’m sorry. I was a jerk too.”

Lance laughed. “Why are we both such assholes?”

“I mean, you started it.”

Lance gasped. “I did not!”

“Lance.”

“Okay fine. You’re right.” Keith really liked how that sounded coming out of the other boy’s mouth. His beautiful mouth. That he could kiss. In theory, of course.

“Oh, there you guys are!” Hunk and Pidge skated over to them.

“Come with me, there’s another co-worker I want you to meet! Guys, meet Shay,” said Hunk dreamily. “Isn’t she great?”

She blushed. “You’re too sweet, seriously.”

“Er, nice to meet you,” said Keith.

“Yeah, it’s great to make your acquaintance!” Pidge said, “Any friend of Hunk’s is a friend of ours.”

Keith didn’t say it but the way the two of them looked at each other suggested there was something a little more than friendship was going on. He wondered if he was that obvious whenever he looked at Lance.

They skated for another hour until Pidge received a text from their mom saying family members were starting to arrive and that they should come help set up for later that evening. Before Keith left with Pidge and Hunk, he and Lance might’ve exchanged phone numbers.

 

From: Space Ninja
(7:00) so how’s dinner with pidgeon’s fam goin?

Keith rolled his eyes but smiled in amusement at the name Lance had given himself in his phone. What a dork.

To: Space Ninja
(7:01) idk i mean it’s okay. same as every year i guess

To: Space Ninja
(7:01) pidge’s brother is in town. they haven’t seen each other in so long so it’s nice seeing them happy yk

From: Space Ninja
(7:02) omg that’s awesome im happy for them!!

The messages stopped for a bit, which although he would never admit it, made his heart drop a bit. He understood, though, that Lance probably was busy with his own family.

“Who’s got you all smiley, young man?” Pidge’s mom asked in a teasing tone.

“Yeah, Keith, who?” Pidge smirked knowingly. Keith wasn’t sure how they knew who it was but he didn’t question it. They were bound to figure it out sooner or later.

Keith didn’t answer, only blushed.

From: Space Ninja
(7:30) hey so i was thinking

To: Space Ninja
(7:32) never a good sign

From: Space Ninja
(7:32) ok rude

From: Space Ninja
(7:33) n e way,,, i was eating food right

To: Space Ninja
(7:33) right

From: Space Ninja
(7:35) bc thats what u do on thanksgiving lol so i was just thinking... i’ve seen discourse about it on twitter n tumblr but i wanna know what u think,,, are poptarts a type of ravioli?

To: Space Ninja
(7:40) lance what the fuck

From: Space Ninja
(7:41) just think about it

To: Space Ninja
(7:42) ok i thought about it for a minute and it’s not

From: Space Ninja
(7:43) i cannot believe u would betray me like this

To: Space Ninja
(7:45) ur ridiculous

From: Space Ninja
(7:48) but u love it

Keith’s face blushed at that message. No one else had ever had this effect on him. Lance was the exception. He made ridiculous food discourse endearing and adorable and he had a stupidly pretty face and—

Fuck.

He found Pidge in the living room, who was sat next to their brother, Matt and watching a movie. “Code red,” he whispered in their ear, and practically dragged them to the guest room. He’d spent the night there countless times ever since he was a kid, so it was as if it was his now.

“What is it, Keith?” asked Pidge. “Did someone die? Are you okay? Did you get abducted by aliens?”

“No, yes, sadly no...”

“‘Sadly?’ That’s a mood.”

“ Anyway, Pidge, I think I have a crush.”

“Keith, I’m flattered.”

“Not on you!”

Pidge doubled over in laughter. “I was kidding, god! It’s Lance, isn’t it?”

Keith didn’t even bother denying it. “Yeah,” he chortled nervously. “Pidge, I don’t know what to do.”

“Uh, here’s a crazy idea: TELL HIM!”

Keith just gave them a blank look that he tried to convey as ‘Yeah, there’s no way in hell that I’m doing that.’

“Give me your phone,” said Pidge.

Keith raised questioning eyebrows. “What, why?”

“Just do it.”

He did. Big mistake. They began typing on his phone. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“And send! Mission accomplished!” Pidge fist pumped the air.

When they tossed his phone back at him he saw the message that Pidge had wrote.

To: Space Ninja
(8:15) hey r u free tmrw i hav smthn to tell u

“I hate you so much right now,” Keith was downright mortified.

From: Space Ninja
(8:16) uhhh yea i dont have work tmrw,,, why? u askin me out on a date lol

Crap. Now Keith had to bullshit something.

To: Space Ninja
(8:20) uh yeah totally haha nice one...

To: Space Ninja
(8:20) but i was thinking maybe we could just chill at the mall tomorrow??? i have something i gotta buy.

From: Space Ninja
(8:22) ooo a black friday shopping spree how fun ! i didn’t peg u as one to christmas shop this early

Shit. Keith forgot about Black Friday. The mall will probably be hell. Great.

To: Space Ninja
(8:24) im usually not,,, wait i didn’t think this through

From: Space Ninja
(8:25) sjsjdjsj its ok it’ll be an Adventure

From: Space Ninja
(8:30) see u tmrw ;;));) the ppl of Garrison Community Mall better watch out,,, they’re not ready for Space Ninja and Mullet Man!! *finger guns*

 

“People are already in line to see Santa?!” Lance exclaimed, flabbergasted. “It’s not even December yet!”

They were at the mall and it really was a winter wonderland inside. Fairy lights adorned many of the entrances to the shops, Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ blared through the mall speakers, there was a gigantic Christmas tree that greeted everyone at the entrance, and, of course, Santa was there.

“Okay but the thing about Santa....” Keith started to say as they wandered around the shopping center. They didn’t really have a destination in mind, and it seemed like they’d made an unspoken agreement to just wing it. Which was fine by Keith.

“Is that he isn’t real, yeah, yeah,” Lance rolled his eyes.

“No, it isn’t that,” Keith said. “What I meant to say was that the whole concept is.... it’s creepy.”

Lance’s face scrunched up in disgust. “Excuse you? What’s creepy about a jolly man spreading holiday cheer by bringing every good boy and girl a present out of the kindness of his heart? He doesn’t even ask for anything in return!”

“You’re really passionate about this,” commented Keith.

Lance shrugged. “I have a big family so we have lots of children so we take Christmas and Santa very seriously in our house.”

Keith nodded. “He’s still creepy though.”

“How? Enlighten me, oh wise one.”

“He’s an old man who makes people sit on his lap and he gets thingsl cy
for them! Does that not sound at least a little pedophilic to you?” Keith elaborated.

Lance looked at him with disbelief. “Way to take the fun out of it, man.”

Keith winced at that.

Suddenly Lance’s face lit up. Without asking for permission he grasped Keith’s hand, dragging the both of them to a kiosk that looked like the North Pole threw up all over it. There were festive sweaters, snow globes, ornaments, stocking stuffers, you name it.

“Oh my god,” was all Keith could say.

“We should get matching sweaters!” exclaimed Lance, holding up two of them. One of them had the caption ‘Naughty’ while the other had ‘Nice’ written on it.

Keith crossed his arms over his chest in protest. “That’s so tacky.”

“I know! But that’s what makes it great! Come on Keith, will you be the naughty to my nice?” He winked. He fucking.Winked. The audacity.

“In what world are you the nice one?”

“Um rude! The kids I babysit happen to think I’m quite lovely, for your information,” said Lance.

Babysit, right. Lance was a babysitter too. Keith’s eyes widened in realization: He forgot he promised Beaux he’d get him the video game he wanted. “Shit, shit, shit.”

Lance was taken aback. “Look, I get that you hate these sweaters but there’s no need to call them shitty.”

“Oh, no, it’s not about the sweaters,” he guaranteed him. “I just remembered that I promised Beaux I’d get him a video game while it’s on sale today.”

Lance had a soft expression on his face. “Aww, why didn’t you say so before?! GameStop, here we come!”

 

After purchasing the kid’s game, the two of them decided to eat at the food court. So now here they were, sitting across from each other as they ate burgers.

“So... you and Beaux must be pretty close if you’re giving him a Christmas gift,” Lance said, breaking the awkward silence that was about to form.

Keith shrugged. “I’ve only known him for a few weeks, but we’ve actually started to form a friendship, which is progress considering the first time we met we didn’t get on well.”

“So... like us.”

Keith could feel his face blush brightly. “I- I mean I guess.”

“Okay, but if I’m being honest, I had no idea you two only knew each other for that short of a time,” Lance shook his head in amazement. “You were so good and protective of him. If you were any older I would’ve assumed he was your son. Or something.”

“Liar,” Keith accused. “He’s the first kid I’ve ever babysat, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m horrible with kids.”

“Which just proves my statement even more! You’re great with kids! Or at least with him,” Lance reassured him, waving his arms in mid air for emphasis.

“Well, how long have you been taking care of Mike and his sister?” Keith inquired.

Lance placed his hand on his chin while he thought about it. “Uhh, let’s see...five months now?”

“Damn, yeah I think that makes you the best babysitter between the both of us.”

“Really? Just because I've been doing this longer doesn’t mean I’m good at it or know what I’m doing,” said the blue eyed boy bluntly.

“Well... do you know what you’re doing right now?” asked Keith.

“Wha — Oh!” He exclaimed. Their fingers laced together as their forearms rest on the table.

“Yeah,” said Keith shyly.

The thing is, none of them removed their hands from each other. If anything, that realization only resulted in them tightening their grips on one another even more.

Keith wasn’t certain how much time was passing. All he could think about was how good of a day this turned out to be. As they sat there across from each other, they talked about random stuff. Keith told Lance that his favorite shows all involve aliens, such as Doctor Who and The X Files. They discovered that they both enjoy Buzzfeed Unsolved, and they discussed their thoughts and opinions about their favorite episodes.wwaa

As Lance continued to ramble on and on about one thing or another, Keith got distracted. Now that he’s admitted to himself that this was a crush, he took some time to really take him in. Distracti #1: His voice. It was so soft and sweet, like honey. It out him at ease. Distraction #2: Was Lance always this pretty? Keith noticed something scattered along his prominent cheekbones. Were those freckles?! Whenever Lance made a joke and made himself laugh or if Keith said something Lance thought was funny, Keith noticed something else he’d never noticed before: His. Fucking. Dimples. Jesus Christ, he was falling hard.

“Uhh?? Earth to Keith? You there?” Lance said, waving his hand in front of the older boy’s face.

“Y-yeah, I’m here, sorry,” Keith said, flustered.

The look on Lance’s face was hard to read. “Okay, but if something’s wrong you can tell me. I like to think we’re friends now.”

“Yeah, sorry, it’s just..”

Lance raised his eyebrow. “Just..?”

“It’s just that..” You’re so beautiful it gets distracting, he wanted to say. What Keith didn’t know was that Lance stole glances at him, too, and thought the same about him. Instead Keith said, “It sucks how our kids don’t like each other at the moment. If they were still friends, maybe we could hang out more and well... I kind of likehangingoutwithyou.”

“Kind of?” Lance teased, feigning offense. “You wound me, Mullet. But never fear! I have an idea!”

“Should I be worried?” joked Keith.

 

The following day was Saturday. Also known as Babysitting Day. He also knew that Lance was babysitting Mike today. He looked out the window to the house across the street where Lance was. When he put his hand on the window, almost longingly, he felt like Spongebob in that one episode where he sang about the grill that one time. Or maybe he was more like Mr. Krabs in that song?

From: Space Ninja
(5:30) r u at the house yet i dont see a car in their driveway

To: Space Ninja
(5:31) yes and thats bc i drive a motorcycle not a car and im looking right out the window and it’s literally right there

From: Space Ninja
(5:32) u drive a wHAT

To: Space Ninja
(5:33) a motorcycle....

To: Space Ninja
(5:33) maybe i could give u a ride sometime

From: Space Ninja
(5:34) ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

To: Space Ninja
(5:35) tHATS NOT WHAT I MEANT

From: Space Ninja
(5:35) FUGJDKWKSK

From: Space Ninja
(5:36) anyway r u ready for Operation: Get The Boys Back Together?!

To: Space Ninja
(5:37) u make it sound like they were dating and broke up

From: Space Ninja
(5:38) is that not what happened

Keith rolled his eyes fondly.

To: Space Ninja
(5:39) ur such a dork but ok let’s do this i guess

“Who ya textin’?” asked Beaux.

“No one,” he lied. The first step of Lance’s plan involved baking. He didn’t really understand that part but whatever. “So how about we make some cookies today?”

The kid’s face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Okay!!!!”

Suddenly the doorbell rang. “Hey, kiddo? Could you go get that while I gather the ingredients?”

Beauc shrugged. “I guess.” He marched over to the door. “Oh, hi Mike. Lance.”

“Guess what we brought!” Mike shouted excitedly. In his hand. It was the same video game that Keith and Lance bought for Beaux at the mall. Perfect. Everything was going according to plan.

“Awesome! Let’s go play!” The two kids sprinted to the TV.

“Well that was easy,” Keith commented.

“Oh, our parents made us make up a few days ago,” Beaux explained.

“Yeah, we had Thanksgiving together and our parents wanted us to not be fighting at dinner,” added Mike.

Lance smiled. “I told you they would make up by today!”

“Huh, I guess you’re right.”

“So can we go play our game now?” The two kids asked, basically in unison.

“Go ahead,” said Keith.

Elise, who had been hiding behind her brother apparently, jumped for joy. “Can I play too?”

“Of course, sweetie!” Lance said. Once the kids were gone he dragged Keith to the kitchen. “Let’s make some cookies now!”

“You want to —“

“I mean, you already have all the ingredients out,” Lance smirked. “It’d be a shame if you brought them out for nothing.”

Keith eyed him suspiciously. “I’m beginning to think this ‘plan’ of yours was just a ploy so we could make cookies together.”

Lance gasped. “I cannot believe you foiled my evil plan!”

So Keith set the oven to the appropriate temperature, and they made cookies.

Forty-five minutes passed and the chocolate chip cookies were done. Wearing mittens, Lance brought the scorching tray out of the oven. He set them down on the table to let them cool for a few minutes, then took a seat next to Keith.

“Uh Lance?”

“Yeah buddy?”

“You got some.... uhhh... flour on your, uh, face,” said Keith. “Here lemme, get it...” He brought his hand to Lance’s face, wiping his nose and cheeks with his thumb tenderly to get rid of the flour. Once he was done his hand may have lingered on his cheek, not quite touching him, more like hovering over his tan freckled skin.

“Can I-?” asked Keith, to which Lance nodded dumbly. Now that he had his permission, he firmly placed his hand on his cheek, running his fingers absentmindedly overy freckle he could find. Lance hummed, leaning into his touch.

Their eyes found each other. “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you,” Lance sang.

“What? What do stars have to do with anything? And the sky is basically pitch black tonight so..?” Keith was confused.

Lance replied, “That’s because all the stars can be found in your eyes.”

Boom boom. Boom boom. Keith’s heart couldn’t take this; it was doing jumping jacks and running marathons and doing flips in his chest somehow all simultaneously. He really needed to breathe.

“I-“

“Can I-?” Before Keith could let him finish what he knew he was gonna ask, he leaned in and suddenly lips were on lips.

Keith was so overwhelmed he would’ve fallen over had there not been a wall behind him. Lance put one hand on the wall by Keith’s head to steady themselves, while the other found a home in Keith’s hair. Keith sighed as Lance ran his fingers in each strand. Meanwhile, Keith’s hands roamed everywhere where there was skin that he could reach. Keith’s mouth left the other boy’s for a bit so that he could kiss each dimple, each freckle, and his sharp jawline. He didn’t realize till now just how much he’d wanted to do that. And the sound Lance made when he did that was music to his ears.

“That was-“ Keith said once they finally broke apart and caught his breath.

“Amazing,” Lance said in awe. “You’re amazing.” Keith blushed. “You’re so cute when you do that.”

That made him blush even more. “Stop, there’s a limit to how many compliments I can take. I’m not really used to people saying things like that to me,” Keith admitted. “Rumor has it I’ll explode if I receive too many compliments.”

“I guess I gotta make it my mission to test that theory.”

“Please don’t,” begged Keith.

“Okay, fine...” Lance said in defeat. “How do you feel about pet names?”

If Keith’s face wasn’t red before, it was definitely rubescent now. “Oh God.”

“Babe.” Blush.

“Babyyyy....” Blush.

“Sugarplum.” Lance intertwined their fingers.

“Lance....”

“Yes, my sweet honeybunch?”

“Stoppp,” Keith whined. He could feel his knees weakening. It wasn’t exactly what Lance was saying that was affecting him, but rather, how he said it. There was so much affection embedded into his words. It made Keith feel special.

“Sorry, I’m just getting started.” Lance gave his nose a brief kiss. “Cutie.” Kiss. “Sweet Cheeks.” Kiss (on each cheek.)

“L-Lance,” he groaned, feeling like putty in the other boys hands.

“Yes?” he asked innocently.

“Stop talking,” said Keith before bringing his thumb to Lance’s chin to turn his face toward his. Soon their lips met each other again. This time it was slower, more intense. His mouth was a fire Keith didn’t want to extinguish. Lance’s hands roamed Keith’s body and ended up under his shirt. Keith gasped once he felt his hands on his abdomen.

Then they heard footsteps. Oh shit. They pulled away from each other. “Lance? Keith?” Mike asked.

“Are the cookies ready yet?” questioned Beaux when he followed behind his friend into the kitchen.

“Huh? Oh er,” Keith was flustered, apparently so much so that he was unable to form coherent sentences.

“Yes, yes they are, let me help you guys get some!” said Lance.

“Can I have the first cookie?” Elise asked with puppy dog eyes. Now how could anyone say no to that?

 

As they ate their cookies, they decided to watch Moana. Keith didn’t notice until once the movie ended that the little girl, Elise, had ended up latching onto his side.

“Da-da?”

Keith furrowed his eyebrows. “Wha- are you talking to me?”

She nodded enthusiastically.

“I’m not your dad, silly goose,” he said in a teasing voice.

“Da-da! Da-da!”

“How do these things shut up?” he asked himself. Then to her, said, “Can you please just- oh.” She moved her position and started resting her head on his chest. Before he knew it she had fallen asleep. Surprisingly Keith didn’t seem to mind.

He was lie down on the sofa, and scanning the room he noticed it was just the two of them right now. He assumed Mike and Beaux escaped to go to Beaux’s room probably to play more of that video game. He had no clue where Lance was. Maybe bathroom?

Suddenly he felt warm hands snake around his neck from behind him. Lance’s lips found its way to Keith’s neck. At first Keith jumped in shock at the contact but soon he melted into it.

“I’m never gonna get used to this,” Keith told him.

“Never say never,” said Lance. When Keith turned around to face him he noticed something on the floor by Lance’s foot.

“What’s that?”

“Oh, this ‘lil thing?” Lance bent down to grab the gift bag off the floor. “Er, I would tell u to open it but I see you have a kid on you and well... let’s not wake her up so I’ll do it for you.” Taking the contents out of the bag he handed them to Keith.

They were sweaters. Christmas sweaters. On them were the words ‘I Believe’ with an alien wearing a Santa hat.

“Oh my god.”

“I know you said matching Christmas sweaters were tacky, but I just had to go back to that boutique we were at and get these. I know we both like space and stuff so...” Lance explained proudly. “If you don’t like it I can return-“

“No, no,” Keith shook his head. “I love it. Thank you. I just feel bad because I didn’t get you anything.”

Lance swatted at the air. “Don’t even worry about it, Christmas is right around the corner.” He gave him a brief kiss on his nose. He broke away after just a few seconds, but their foreheads remained against each other. “Besides, I have you now. That’s the best gift a guy could ask for.”