Lance laid on his bed and looked up at the ceiling. He wasn’t really sure how he felt about Keith’s admission. He couldn’t do what anymore? He was too scared to ask, but he also knew he had to ask, or he’d never know for sure. So he steeled himself and murmured into the com. “What….do you mean?”
“Be alone. Not talking to you.” The voice coming through was thinned and barely recognizable as Keith’s. Any other time he spoke, he had a power, a charm. A certain charisma the gifted always tend to have. He could compel by a timber. Enchant a room with a sigh. Everyone might not have liked Keith, but he had their attention. All of that was gone now.
“Oh.” Lance paused. He hadn’t been sure what to expect, but Keith’s answer made his heart sink back into its normal place in his chest instead of being tightly crammed in his throat, or at least that was how it felt when he said he couldn’t do it anymore. “What do you want to talk about?” He knew his voice came out a bit more timid than it should have, but he couldn’t take that back.
“I don’t know.” A pause followed by static. “I guess, how are you? That sounds really dumb… I really don’t know what to talk about. I--I miss you, Lance. I was too harsh I guess. I don’t know. Just talk to me. Please.” Sincerity softened the note of desperation in his words.
There was no point in hiding it. Lance sighed, and while his voice was quiet, it was sincere. “I miss you too. Are you eating? Are you taking care of yourself?”
“Trying to. The headaches are horrible though… you?”
“Same.” Lance’s voice got even quieter before he spoke again, almost as if he was scared to ask. “Are you…that kind of hungry?”
“Yeah. That hasn’t really stopped.” Rustling clothing disturbed the mic for a second. “It’s not like before. I think I can reign it in a little. Now that I’ve experienced it, I can fight it or something.”
“Oh. Okay. If you’re sure…”
“No. I’m not sure, but we know what happens when I take quintessence from you. I don’t think I’m ready for that. I should warn you. The effect on me is stronger than it was on him.”
“I know. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable last week. I just—” Lance cut himself off with a sigh. Keith was right, the effect did seem to be stronger, for both of them. It just affected Lance in a different way.
“I know. Neither of us was thinking.” Another long silence. “I sorta said it before, but yeah. I’m sorry too. I was cruel. I didn’t mean to get like that. I just, I lost my temper, and I lashed out at you. It’s not an excuse. I know. I shouldn’t have laid my hands on you.”
“I deserved it. I was mean to you because I was thinking about my own pain instead of yours. And it’s not like you did as much as you could have done…” Lance’s voice wavered a little. “You don’t hate me, right?”
“No.” There wasn’t a breath of hesitation on the other line. “My feelings for you are the same as they were the night I took you down to the basement.” Keith’s voice was soft, gentle, as if it were meant to stroke Lance’s cheek. “I need to sort a lot of stuff out. Things, in my head and with this body are intense. I just can’t handle being in the same space. There’s too much messing with my head.”
“I feel like—” Keith’s voice stumbled, fighting for every word he spoke. “I feel like I’ll get carried away either one way or another. You know? I mean. It’s like, could I lose something of who I am? Do I just gain all of his life, and that’s it? I know Pidge explained all this. I know it’s a phase or whatever, and it will calm down, but what if something happens like before? What if I get too angry and hurt you? Or if I get like you know.” Innocence clung to Keith’s words. The words of a sheltered boy who avoided people for fear of being rejected. He knew little of relationships. The concept of sex or sexuality scarcely came up. Until Lance changed all of that. Gay or straight, Keith didn’t care. He just liked Lance. He admitted it to himself, held it close to his chest. The knowledge had been a precious stone. A shimmering gem of an emotion he didn’t know he’d been capable of. What would happen if he shared it? What would people do with something so little and fragile? People would do what they always did. They’d take away what he cared about. It happened with his mother, his father, and even Shiro. So, Keith took it with him and walked away from Voltron.
That was gone now, made into something else. Something Keith couldn’t describe. He had knowledge he didn’t want. He could hear voices in his head and feel hands on his body. Hands that were Lance’s yet not his Lance. They took some part of him away. A part of him he didn’t notice until it was gone.
“Keith…I…” The pause was longer than he intended as he tried to digest everything Keith was saying, but when Lance spoke again, he spoke with confidence, despite his voice being so quiet even moments before. “I love you. I’m not going to blame you for being scared. I don’t think you’ll hurt me, and I want to tell you that we’ll get through it together, but I know asking for anything only puts pressure on you. So instead I’ve been trying to be what you’ve asked me to be, even though I don’t know how to give you what you need, but I tried, I am trying. I hope you know that.”
“Wait, what?” Keith's voice pitched.
“What, what? That I don’t want to pressure you? I don’t know what you need?” Lance paused. “I love you? Is…that a problem?”
“And it’s me you love? You honestly mean me?” The stretched tone of Keith’s voice pulled even tighter.
“Yes. You. Keith. However you were, however you are, and however you will be, you’re the one.” Lance whispered. “I don’t know how to make you believe that…”
“Lance.” More silence followed by the sound of a bed shifting, “Me too. I love you too.” Keith had eluded to the sentiment he never let the words leave him. Now his voice came through clearer, his lips by the mic as if he’d hugged the helmet to his chest. “This is all I’ll need. It’s all I’ll ask of you.”
“You do? Okay…” There was some confusion in Lance’s voice. “Keith…What do you mean? What’s all you need?”
“You loving me, and this. Talking like this.” Keith spoke in a breath of timid air. “It helps more than I can tell you.”
“You don’t have to worry about that ever stopping, then.” It might have sounded like Lance was smiling with those words, but that feeling faded with the next question. “Are you still having nightmares?”
“Yes.” Keith admitted.
“I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Talk. C-can we keep the comlink open tonight?”
“Yeah. Of course. I’ve kept it open for you this whole time, you know.”
“I know. Now I just really need to hear you.” There was another shuffle. “Talk to me.”
“Okay. What do you want to talk about?”
“Anything. Just talk to me.”
“Right, you said something like that before. Okay.” A pause before Lance tried to sound normal. “Hunk said he would be making cookies tomorrow, and he would make whatever kind I wanted. Is there a kind you want? You like chocolate, right?”
“White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.” A lighter happier voice quickly answered. “What’s your favorite?”
“Sugar cookies. My mom makes these good ones and sometimes puts fruit spread on them. They’re really good.”
“Yeah? Sounds weird.” Keith chuckled. “But I bet it tastes awesome. Your mom is a great cook. Probably why you and Hunk get along so well.”
“That’s probably why our moms get along so well.” There was a pause before Lance sounded a little quieter than before, and he spoke more hesitantly. “Keith? Can…I see you?”
“See me?” There came a hesitant contemplation. “Yeah. Here.” A click, a zap of sound, similar to the buzz of static. There distorted by the bend of his visor sat the visage of a man Lance hadn’t seen in ten long days. He looked different now- dressed in a casual black t-shirt and boxers, sitting with folded legs on the bed. Dark patches lined the under the edge of his eyes, his skin pale and looking cold to the touch. Those odd ears of his perked forward even as his head cocked to the side, curious. “Did it work?”
Lance followed suit and nodded when he could see the connection was made. “Yeah.” He positioned his helmet so he could project Keith’s image on the wall next to his pillow and record himself like that as well. Sure, Keith looked as tired as Lance felt, but he was still beautiful. “I…feel better. Thank you.” He didn’t care that his own hair was sticking up in several ways, since he hadn’t bothered to comb it, or that his ears were slightly drooped. He was just relieved to see Keith, and because of that relief, he would bite back a comment about Keith looking miserable. At least for now.
“Hey.” Rouge colored Keith’s cheek with a sudden flush. He studied the other man but never lingered in any one place for his staring to be considered impolite. He reached out with exploring fingertips, yet they stopped in midair and moved down along an unseen line. The action similar to how one may cup a cheek or stroke a jaw. Keith must have had Lance’s projection set up the same way Lance had his. “You haven’t been sleeping well either, have you?”
“No. Not really.” Lance ran his hand through his hair to try to straighten it out, but his cheeks pinked just slightly with the way Keith was looking at him and the way his hand seemed to be moving. Was it like he was trying to touch him? What did that mean? It made his heart flutter a bit. “But maybe I can now that I see you.”
Keith chuckled again. “I bet you say that to all the holograms.” He unraveled his legs and shifted to lay down on his side, staring at the wall with the hull of the Black Lion projected behind him. The hollow space emptier than the Paladin’s room on the Atlas. Black ink spun hair pillowed Keith’s cheek as he sunk into the bedding.
“The only one I want to say that to is you, so until you let me say it in person, this is good enough.” Lance’s lips twitched into a half-smile as he looked at Keith’s image. He tried to focus on the beautiful face in front of him, so he didn’t have to think about the emptiness behind the other paladin. He didn’t want to think about how isolated Keith might have felt because it would only make the distance between them harder. As it was, he wanted nothing more than to run to him and hold him, but that wasn’t what Keith wanted or needed.
“For now.” Keith said. He kept his voice soft, leaving the emotion out it, but for a moment his eyes gave up the violet luster and changed to a dull bluish gray. Strange how he hated his ears for being giving him away, when Keith was often the easiest paladin to read. His eyes expressed more in a glimmer of light than most people’s faces did in a bout of laughter or break down of sobs.
“If you keep using those pickup lines though might be later than sooner.” A smile curved Keith’s lips but never made it past them.
Lance watched Keith’s expression. The smile was there, and the words seemed sincere, if not a tad flirtatious, but Keith didn’t seem to mean them. Not when the mirth didn’t show in his eyes. Lance weighed on the idea of calling him out on it, but with how listless the other man looked, he decided against it. And while Keith was never good at hiding his emotions, Lance was. At least he was much better at it than Keith was. So he smiled, a goofy kind of smile that invited others to be more comfortable around him. “Is that so?”
Keith’s fist bunched against the wall and the top of his head bent down to touch it, crushing the tuff of black hair. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I tried. I miss you. But I’m afraid of what will happen if I see you. Even this. Something like a projection against a wall is almost too much, but I don’t want to let it go.” Slowly he turned his head up, tears misting and staining his eyes red. “I’m sorry for … I’m sorry for being like this.”
“Why are you sorry?” Lance whispered and watched him. As much as he hated to see Keith on the verge of tears, at least he was showing Lance his real emotions instead of hiding them, so Lance repaid him in kind. The smile faded, his eyes moving from Keith’s image to a blank spot on the wall. He was tired, lonely, in pain, so many things he knew he had no right to feel. All that mattered was that Keith was healing. “Do you want me to turn away so I can’t see you? Would that be better for you?”
“No,” Keith’s voice cracked. “Don’t. Stay. Talk to me. For the first time in days, my brain doesn’t feel like it’s trying to leak out of my ears. Seeing you and hearing you makes me feel better, even if I seem like a crazy person.” A soft syllable of a laugh escaped him. “A super crazy person.”
“I don’t think you’re a crazy person. Not at all.” Lance felt his shoulders tense up and then relax with that quick laugh, and he lifted his hand to touch the image in front of him as though he was touching Keith’s cheek. “I won’t leave. I wouldn’t ever leave. I’m glad you’re feeling better. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t making it worse.”
Keith shook his head. “I just need more time. I’m always making you wait.”
“You’re worth it.” Lance slowly pulled his hand back and settled into his bed a little more.
Keith smiled with closed eyes. He didn’t know when they shuttered, but he lacked the strength to hold them open. “Thank you.” He whispered, his face coming to rest in an expression of sleep. His jaw slackened, forehead and brow relaxed, and it was then he wasn’t Keith; A man just out of boyhood with full cherub lips and a narrowing jawline. Still so young. They all were. A fact erased during war, until faced with the sight of an expression lost to a peaceful and needed slumber.
Lance wasn’t sure how long he spent watching Keith’s face. It was like looking at the purest angel, no tension at all in his features. He smiled and traced the curve of Keith’s lips as though he could actually touch him, and as he did he started to hum a soft lullaby until he too fell asleep.
Over the next few nights, Lance kept the line open for Keith, talking to him, looking at him, fussing over how pale he seemed to be getting. He soothed the other paladin through the headaches, and he did everything he could to bring Keith some comfort. But he also avoided letting Keith know that he wasn’t actually leaving his room, or that he was also having intense migraines. Keith needed to heal and recover. He didn’t need to be burdened with Lance’s problems too.
“Hey Lance?” Keith’s voice came over the com behind the crunch of an apple and flop onto the bed. The image of him looked better than it had. A line of muscle forming along his arms and legs owed to a rigorous workout routine. Pushups every morning, followed by sit-ups, and lunges. He used objects around the Lion as makeshift weights to tone the muscle he had. Keith’s comfort in his body depended solely on its ability to move. He had speed but lacked strength.
“I’m looking over the meeting rosters, you haven’t been attending?” Another bite crunched as Keith dragged his finger down the memo tablet in his hand.
There was silence, well, just in that Lance wasn’t speaking. There was a sigh and the sound of rustling before he finally answered and allowed the video to connect. “Well, no. But you knew that if you looked at the rosters.” His voice was quiet as it had been these past few nights, and his eyes focused on anything but the paladin projected against the wall.
“So, do you know that they synced the stone up to the Balmara crystals in the Atlas? It can now support the MFEs and work as a power station for Voltron. All while allowing the creation of wormholes. Shiro can also sense the MFE ships like we can our Lions. Maybe not exactly the same, but close. That’s amazing.” Keith sat up, folding his bare legs over each other. Then leaned his body forward. The position didn’t look wholly comfortable, but he did it with fluid ease.
Lance simply nodded, finally lifting his eyes to the image of Keith, though he dropped them again. If he looked at him too long, the ache in his chest would grow, and he wasn’t sure he could handle that at this moment. But he didn’t want Keith to read into the action, though, so he covered it by laying in his bed and getting the covers up over him. His eyes closing. “Yeah…I know.” He wasn’t sure how to talk about this sort of thing, especially not when Keith was clearly more into it than Lance was.
Silence stretched between them. There were often bouts of dead air, though Keith didn’t mind it. He never found it awkward. He didn’t believe in the need to constantly fill the air with needless words or prattling. The sound of Lance’s breathing, the small shuffle of blankets, even the padding of naked feet against a metal floor comforted Keith far more than any forced conversation. Stretched over his legs and laying his chest flat on the bed, Keith continued to read over his notes. He didn’t mind the silence, but tonight something had been on his mind. He struggled with how to approach the topic, but with a sigh he set the touchpad down and flopped on his side, his heat scarred cheek facing Lance. “Lance, can I ask you something?”
“Hm? What is it?” Lance opened one eye and glanced at him, biting the inside of his lip when he saw that scar. Whenever he saw it, he just wanted to press up to Keith and lick along it as though that could heal it with his quintessence like he could on their mission. But that was a different reality entirely, and his body and his life-force were different. Though that didn’t take away from his desire to taste Keith’s flesh. The ache in his chest grew, but this time he didn’t look away from Keith. He just looked at his face, tried to read his expression, though that was difficult to do when he was laying down like this with only one eye open.
“Why did you volunteer to come. On the mission. It was risky. There were no guarantees. Pidge said we’d be betting all our odds on just being pulled toward the stone, much less finding each other. It was kind of doomed to fail, but you still volunteered to go with me. No, you insisted with a heap of bravado.” Violet eyes turned to the other Paladin, their spark seeming duller with each passing day but still vibrant enough to light up his projection.
Lance opened his other eye and watched Keith for a moment before he sighed and rolled onto his side, so he could look at him better. “I’m supposed to be your right-hand man, right…? How could I let you go in there and risk all that alone? There was no way that was happening.” That was the main part of it. He really couldn’t tell Keith that the idea of him potentially leaving them again was too much to bear, right?
Those eyes widened, “You didn’t want me to be alone?”
“Of course I didn’t.” Why was Keith looking at him like that? Did he expect some other answer? Lance’s forehead wrinkled as his brows knit.
“You allowed all this,” Keith waved a hand down his body and motioned toward Lance’s for emphasis. “You ended up dying in there, in the worst possible way, just because of you didn’t want me alone?” Expressive ears drooped, and a clawed hand reached to touch the wall as if he could feel the warmth of Lance’s cheek below his fingertips. Then he brought his body up tight against the visage. Nuzzling the cold steel as a cat nudges a stroking hand.
Lance wasn’t sure what Keith was doing at first, but when he seemed to be nuzzling the wall, the worry on his own brow vanished. “Yeah that part sucked. Well, most of it sucked, but the part when I was with you made the rest of it worth it.” He half closed his eyes as though he could feel the way Keith’s cheek nuzzled against his own, even if there was nothing there.
“Thank you.” Keith whispered, and a soft rumble of a purr came through the link as turned his head up, ears still curved down with a flush on his cheeks. It wasn’t a full-blown blush, but a delicate pinking of pale skin. Skin that had become almost too pale, making him look too fragile, despite knowing the truth.
“Don’t thank me for that.” Lance looked at the way Keith’s cheeks almost seemed to glow with the contrast of the pink on his porcelain skin. He looked better but more fragile at the same time. “I’m just glad it worked out, even if we came back all sorts of messed up. It could have been way worse.” His hand moved to his torso where he had been pierced when the shuttle bay exploded. He would take the scar there over actual death anytime.
“I don’t regret it.” Keith said under his purr. “Despite all this other stuff and my messed up … well my messed up everything. I don’t regret my time with you. I’m happy you were there. I’m happy it was you.” His throat moved with an audible swallow. “I want you to know that.”
“Keith…I….” Lance sighed and looked down. “The only part I regret is dying and making you cry.” He murmured and closed his eyes again. “I’m sorry.”
Keith shook his head, hair tossing over his features. “We didn’t have control over any of that.” His face contorted then, finding an expression between confession and discomfort. Keith laid his head against the pillow and curled his knees up into his arms. Cosmo whined in perceived empathy as he nestled into his hip.
“Even so…” Lance opened his eyes to look at him again, but when he saw Keith’s positioning, his chest grew tight and he curled up more in his bed. “Keith?”
“Hmm?” He asked, his voice soft as if unwilling to break the gentle quiet.
“You’ll tell me if anything’s really wrong, right?”
“There’s a lot of things pretty wrong.” Keith’s eyes screwed shut, his hand crushing down in a fist. The second sign of the first wave of migraines. “But there are a few things that are going right.”
“I meant beyond what I already know. Beyond the headaches.” Lance’s brows furrowed. He could feel his own migraine coming on, but he knew he should soothe Keith’s. The other paladin seemed to have it worse, so he closed his eyes and started to sing the lullaby he always sang when he woke up due to Keith’s restlessness coming through the com. Anything to calm the other man.
Keith started, his eyes flashing to Lance before the softest smile curved generous lips. He knew this song. The gentle perfectly accented timbre of Lance’s voice echoed in the hollow space and laid upon Keith. The warm weight of it surrounding him and blocking out the sharpest edges of his pain. He knew this feeling: a memory of silenced nightmares and a sweet honeyed lyric. “You… you do this for me a lot.”
The melody faded as Lance looked at Keith. “It helps you sleep, and you seem to like it, so I like doing it.”
The flush got darker on Keith’s cheeks and his expression a bit shyer, mixed with a subtle adoration. “Is there, something I can do for you? Something you like?” His brow pulled up, realizing how his words came out, but he didn’t bother to correct them.
There were so many things Lance wanted to say, but every single one of them went against what Keith said he needed from him, so he simply smiled and shook his head. “If you want to do something for me, just…work on healing so you can be with me again when you’re ready.” That wasn’t anything different than what Keith already knew Lance wanted, so he figured that kind of response should have been fine.
“You’re--” Keith paused, being careful with his words. “You’ve been so…good to me. I just keep putting more burdens on you. You don’t deserve that.” Keith’s fingers reached to Lance’s hands.
“Keith…” If Lance could have reached out and touched the ones that extended out to him, he would have. Instead he just shook his head a little. “I don’t think of it as a burden…”
“But it is. You’ve done everything I’ve asked, and I just keep asking you for more. You don’t say much of anything about anything. Mostly agree with me or do what I say.” Guilt weighed Keith’s eyes down. “If you’re still mad at me, I get it. I do. I was going to tell you what happened with Shiro. I was just trying to figure it out.” Keith turned his head into his pillow, so only his canted ears revealed his inner thoughts. “I didn’t know where I was when I woke up that night. I thought it was some hotel room and in the dark Shiro was the same size and shape as…someone else.”
Keith struggled, his voice broken and muffled but pushed through. “Shiro was stern. And kind. Like you’d expect and just put me in a bath to cool my head. He’d never do anything to hurt me. He’d never think to touch me like that. He just told me to think of you. Like he knew.” One eye peeked above the curve of the pillow, his brow furrowed tight, his ears hanging as low as they could go.
Lance looked at Keith’s image and watched the way his face gave away his confusion and pain. He reached up as though he could touch that wrinkled brow, though the only contact he made was with the wall. “I know that. I know it wasn’t your fault or his fault. I do.” He closed his eyes, his ears drooping just a little. “I shouldn’t have said anything then, but I was too lost in my own pain to see yours, and I was wrong. But I’m not still mad. If I was, I don’t think I’d be as accommodating. I’m not that good of a person.” He did his best to focus on the man projected on the wall and not the gnawing anger that started to form in his stomach. There was one person he could think of that was the same shape and size as Shiro, and it wasn’t his Altean self. Beyond that, he didn’t want to hear about Shiro, but he knew Keith needed to talk about it.
“He was better to me than he had to be.” Keith sighed. “So are you. You’re allowed your pain. I’m not making this easy for you.”
“Even so, I shouldn’t have let my emotions cloud my judgment as much as they did. I should have waited for you to tell me on your own, even if I already knew. That wasn’t fair to you.”
“It’s not fair to you either.” Keith said. “Look, I’m not so out of touch with my emotions that I can’t have meaningful conversations. I know how I come off. I know what other people say and think of me. But… it’s not just about me Lance.” His fingers touched the ghost of Lance’s lips.
Lance watched Keith’s face, though he kept his thoughts unvoiced. It was all about Keith. The other paladin made that perfectly clear that day in the cafeteria. His isolation in the black lion solidified that. But Lance wouldn’t argue. He wouldn’t say anything. Instead he just managed a ghost of a smile. “I’ll be fine.”
“It hurts you too. Just like it hurts me to see you swallow your problems down. Like you always do. Lance…” During their conversation Keith curled up to the wall as if any second Lance’s arms could reach around him.
“I don’t want to hurt you. Not again.” Lance whispered and sighed, lifting his hand to rub at his own forehead. “That…The way you yelled at me that day, it really made me stop and think about what’s most important to me right now. And the answer is you. You’re the most important. So you need to heal. You need to figure yourself out. I will wait as long as it takes, even if I hate that what was supposed to be a few days has now become almost a month.” He pulled that hand back from his forehead and rested it against the wall as if he could ruffle Keith’s hair.
“But I shouldn’t have--” Keith cut himself off and nodded his head. “Then can I be selfish and ask for one more thing?” He caught his lower lip between his teeth.
“Yes, of course.” Lance’s eyes moved to Keith’s lips, but then he lifted his eyes to Keith’s once more. “What is it?”
“Will you sing for me again?” Keith continued to worry that lip until just the edge of it remained captured by a fang.
“Yes.” Lance looked at him for a moment longer before he closed his eyes and started to sing. This wasn’t the same lullaby he had been using to lull Keith into a peaceful sleep the past few nights. It was a slow song. One filled with love and devotion. Even if he wasn’t sure Keith would understand the words, he could at least feel the emotion in it.
“Mm..” Keith’s lips quirked up on their edges, his ears twisting toward Lance’s soft voice. He didn’t speak after that. The necessity didn’t exist. Words could’ve only taken away from the moment, dulled the vibrancy of their gentle intimacy. A low purr rose from the Galra’s chest, Keith had little control over such things. The vibration never lifted to anything louder than a decibel of a breath, afraid of drowning out Lance’s voice. They stayed in this comfort until the rumble died down to slow even breathing.
Lance lowered his voice once he was sure Keith fell asleep, but he sang for a few minutes longer, letting the sound fade out so he could listen to the sounds of Keith’s rest. The earlier purring and then soft breathing was more relaxing than he expected it to be, though he wasn’t sure why he thought it wouldn’t be. He relaxed a little and settled down, closing his eyes, thankful that things seemed to be going so much better than they had been before. He let himself drift off, focusing on the feeling of relief and not the migraine that still needled his brain. Things went black quickly as he fell into a deeper slumber than usual.
So it was a bit of a shock when Lance was startled awake by a loud pounding on his door. “Lance! Open up!” Hunk sounded so frantic, Lance practically fell out of bed to open it.
What he saw made his heart stop. Hunk was cradling Keith in his arms, his foot poised to kick the door again if he needed. Keith was unconscious, paler than he had been the night before, and there was a bruise forming on his cheek. “What happened?” There was no Lance wouldn’t have noticed that last night, right? And he was so asleep that he didn’t even hear Keith get up and leave.
Hunk pushed past him and set Keith down on Lance’s bed. “I found him on the floor of the training room. I think he had a seizure or something, and I didn’t know what to do!” He paced a little back and forth once Keith was settled on the bed. His arms flailed a bit with every step, and it took all of Lance’s willpower not to shout at his best friend and tell him to stop.
Lance sat on the edge of the bed and gently pushed some of Keith’s hair off his forehead. There was more sweat there than there should have been. Keith usually didn’t sweat enough for it to drip down his hairline like this, right? He seemed much more controlled than that. Did it have to do with his new body? Lance sighed and tore his gaze away to look at Hunk. “Did you tell anyone else?”
“No. I came right here. I thought it would be better to bring him to you instead of telling Shiro. I didn’t think Keith would want to get yelled at.”
“Good. Don’t worry the others until we know what actually happened.” Lance sighed. “I’ll take care of him, but can you get us some food for him in the meantime?” His fingers smoothed the hair by Keith’s ear. It was the only way he could keep his hand steady. He moved those fingers to the back of his head, checking for any more wounds. It didn’t feel like there were any, so Keith must have only hit his face. “If anyone asks, just tell them I’m hungry.”
Hunk nodded and ran out of the room, half yelping as he almost crashed into the wall opposite the door.
“Keith…” Lance sighed and moved his fingers from his hair, so he could stroke his bruised cheek, being careful of the tender flesh. “You push yourself too much.”
Black ears twitched, and his body shuddered before his eyes weakly fluttered open. Those eyes shone like unpolished gems, dull and lacking the spark which usually blazed within.
“L-Lance…” Keith spoke, but the words were pushed out by light exhale with no force behind them.
Lance shook his head and rested his hand on his cheek. “Shhh. Don’t talk if you’re too worn out okay?” He carefully touched the bruise again, but he didn’t put any pressure on it. “You need my quintessence, don’t you? I’ll give you some okay? Just nod if that’s acceptable.” He figured he might be pushing it if he asked, but if Keith was really in bad shape, he shouldn’t deny him. Not that he really was denying him, and it was more like Keith was denying himself. Either way, he wanted to help him, and this was the only way he knew how.
Keith closed his eyes and dragged a dry tongue over chapped lips, nodding with a faint tilt of his head.
Lance closed his eyes and allowed his warmth to pool at his fingers. He stroked Keith’s cheek enough to heal the bruise there, and then he gave just a little more. Anything that would bring color to his cheeks and some light to his eyes, though he was very careful not to brush his fingers over his lips. He could control the amount he gave Keith if he only touched his cheek for now. “Here,” he whispered.
Keith groaned, long and soft. The sound of pleasure combined with the euphoria of absolute bliss. He turned his head toward the light and licked as a kitten would for a taste of his owner’s last meal from extended fingertips. He was so hungry.
Lance only gave him another small taste before he pulled his fingers back and allowed his body to settle. There was a light throbbing in the back of his neck, and he didn’t want to push it too much. “Do you feel better? What happened?”
“More?” Keith asked, nuzzling after those fingers, his hand sliding over Lance’s thigh. His body hummed with the power trickling through him. Bits of his strength returned, and his constant pains and aches dulled to near nonexistence.
“Keith…” Lance rested his hand on the one on his thigh. “You’re only asking for more because it feels good. When the haze clears, you’ll be angry at me if I give in.” He pulled Keith’s hand off him and held it. “And I won’t do anything that will make you angry. Not when you asked for space. Hunk brought you here because he was freaking out, so talk to me. Tell me what happened? Were you pushing yourself too hard?”
“But I’m here now.” Keith whimpered and started to kiss over the knuckles he held. Lance was really there. So close. So warm. So soft and hard in all the right places. “I haven’t felt good in a long time. I was being stubborn and stupid.” His tongue slipped from pale pink lips to delve between Lance’s fingers. “So close and so warm.” He vocalized his thoughts.
“And I’m going to be stubborn and stupid now.” Lance watched Keith kiss his knuckles and lick between his fingers, but he controlled himself, even though he wanted nothing more than to give Keith what he wanted. The attention sent jolts of pleasure throughout his body, and he almost trembled a little as he forced himself to concentrate. “Keith.” He pulled his hand back and gently grabbed his chin, trying to force him to meet his gaze. “Answer my questions.”
Something dark and primal swirled inside the paladin’s eyes, his pupils blown out as he met the other man’s gaze. “I was working out. Getting a feel for how this body moves.”
Keith lowered his hand to lift his shirt up. The muscles were certainly more visible and defined than they had been, but the hard lines of his old body had been softened by the new. The enticing curves and hard steel of a dancer. Graceful arches mixing with deep grooves sleeping under a satin blanket of delicate skin. Built for speed, control, and agility, but they were not built for power. “Working on a few things I lost.” This was something he could control, while everything else had become chaos. Training his body again required focus and clearing his mind. Both eased his growing hunger and growing anxiety.
Lance purposely kept his eyes locked on Keith’s face while he talked, even if he wanted to look down at his exposed stomach. He didn’t allow his eyes to drift until Keith had finished, and he arched a brow when he saw that all too familiar piercing dangling from his navel. He smiled a little at the sight, though it caused the heat in the pit of his stomach to flare and move through this body. Something about the way the gem glistened in the dim light, or how it drew attention to the soft lines of Keith’s abs made his instincts try to push to the surface. “I see…” His voice dropped to a whisper and he kept holding Keith’s chin to keep from touching that toned stomach. “And you had a seizure? That’s what Hunk said he thought happened…”
Keith’s expression darkened, brows drawn, and lips thinned. “I-I don’t know. I remember looking at my bayard as if… I don’t know how to describe it. I knew it, but I didn’t. Then I just felt like my head was going to float off my body while the rest of me felt like led. Then I fell and shook… Hunk found me stuck his fingers in my mouth, and I bit down… then I was here. Is he okay? I didn’t mean to bite him. I think he was protecting my tongue, or he said something about it. It’s fuzzy.”
Lance sighed and let go of his chin. “That sounds like it’s possible. Hunk seemed more worried about you than anything else, so I’m sure he’s fine.” He rested his hand on Keith’s cheek and frowned slightly. “Will you promise me something?”
“Hmm?” Keith turned his head to lay against Lance’s thigh.
“If you’re going to push yourself and go down there again, take Hunk or Pidge with you?” Lance rested his hand on Keith’s head. “For me?”
“All right. Anything else?” Keith wrapped his arms around Lance’s waist. “You got bigger.” An ear twitched in annoyance, yet tender fingers slipped inside Lance’s shirt to move in slow patterns over his skin. “That’s unfair.”
“No. Nothing else.” Lance looked down at him, his cheeks flushing at the attention. He was already feeling good from before, and if Keith kept this up, he might lose control. “I…haven’t gotten any bigger, Keith…”
“Are you sure?” Keith lifted his head up to meet Lance’s eyes, his own glittering mischievously.
“Yes, I’m sure.” Lance looked down at him and cracked a little smile. He rested a hand on his head. “Let’s get you back to the lion hm?”
“Mnmph… it’s better here.” Keith sighed, nosing Lance’s hip. He knew better though. He knew what would happen if he stayed. He shouldn’t be making this so hard for Lance, but truth was, he wanted to stay. He wanted to feel all those things his other self had been allowed to feel. He wanted a connection with Lance. His body needed it, his heart ached for it, and his soul cried for the taste of him. A taste of something more than just the rations Lance gave him. He didn’t want to be tide over. He wanted to be a glutton. He wanted to drown himself in the sweet ambrosia only the other Paladin could provide. But there came a nagging voice in the back of his head. The nagging sober logical voice. The one who denied himself so many things. The one who took over when Keith wanted to give in to everything. The one who always won in the end.
“Not yet though. Not yet.” Keith sat up, his hair curtaining his face in thick midnight waves.
Lance pushed that hair out of Keith’s face to give him a clearer view. “You have no idea how much you’re tempting me, do you?” His fingers trembled slightly against Keith’s cheek.
Keith turned his head up, the expression shy and unsure with a delicate flush just under those violet eyes, the light of Lance’s quintessence dancing inside bringing a trace of life back to each facet.
“I really want to spend the rest of the day pleasuring you and making you happy, but we both know that’s not what we should be doing right now.” His fingers traced the edge of Keith’s jaw, his eyes getting lost in the purple galaxies that stared at him. “No matter how badly I want you…”
“When you talk like that… my body---” Keith leaned into his hand. His touch felt so good like it could heal every injustice and every wound inflicted on him.
“You’ll be angry if I give in…” Lance whispered and pulled his hand away, standing from the bed and looking down at him. His eyes were dark, but he forced himself to take a few deep breaths before he spoke again. “Let me take you back okay?”
“I’m really that difficult, aren’t I?” Keith stood up, his legs not wanting to carry his weight at first, but he found his footing.
Lance held his hand out to him. “I don’t think you’re difficult at all. I think I don’t want to mess things up with you again. I want you to come to me when you’re really ready, not just when your brain thinks you are because I fed you to heal you.”
Keith folded his fingers into Lance’s hand, staring at the crossing of dark and pale skin and he squeezed. “I don’t deserve you. Then or now.”
“That’s not even remotely true. You’re totally coming down to my level to be with me.” Lance smiled a little and lifted Keith’s hand to his lips, kissing the fingers before he lowered them again and started to lead him to the door.
“Down to your level?” Keith contemplated the idea as he followed Lance back to the hanger. “There are levels to this whole thing?”
“No. I just mean you’re more than I deserve.” Lance kept holding his hand even as they stopped in front of the black lion. He turned his head a little to look at Keith, taking the sight of him in before they separated again. “I’m the one who doesn’t deserve someone as amazing as you. That’s all.”
“What are you talking about? Look at you… you’re amazing.” Keith shrugged his shoulders. “I mean, your skin’s soft, your hair is soft. You’re built well. Your eyes are really blue, and your lips are like… well they’re soft too. I don’t know who put it in your head that you have to live up to someone or something, but you should shut them up. You know, I’ve heard people talk about their awakening. You know those moments when they realize what they like. Men, women, or both, or none or whatever. I’ve never had one. I never paid any attention to anyone. I never felt that sudden rush.” Keith stepped closer to Lance, the scent of his shampoo mixed with the sweet perfume of his spiced musk. “I was okay with that, until I met you.” His hand, slender and warm cupped the blue paladin’s cheek, his thumb rubbing just at the corner of his mouth.
“You were my moment. My ‘awakening’.” Lance was pulled down with the ease of a thought and he was met with the soft dusting of rose-tinted lips. “Lance is the perfect Lance. And that’s the Lance I like.” Keith took a step back, his hands folding behind himself in a restraint. “So don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Because in my eyes no one can ever be you. It’s unfair to everyone else.”
Lance couldn’t stop the blush from darkening his cheeks. His fingers came up to touch his own lips after that kiss, and even though his fingers trembled a bit as he did so, warmth spread throughout his body. Keith had no idea what he was doing to Lance, did he? He looked at the smaller man, eyes locking onto that perfectly innocent and yet oddly devilish face before he dropped his fingers from his lips. With a step forward, he pulled Keith into his arms, pressing his lips into his hair and speaking quietly. “See? That’s why I say I don’t deserve you. Do you know how happy that makes me? For you to think so highly of me is more than I could ever ask for.” He closed his eyes and tried to hold Keith a little closer, as though he could merge the two of them together.
“But it’s true.” Keith curled into those arms, slipping his face into his neck. “I don’t have to think that hard. And it’s not just looks, Lance. You’re amazing in other ways too. You keep this team together. You make them laugh and without you… I don’t know where any of us would be.”
“I don’t really do anything, but I’m really happy you think that way, Keith.” Lance nuzzled his hair and rubbed his back a little. “And thank you.”
“I should go, before I don’t let you leave.” Keith gave a subtle moan, and with no small effort he pulled himself away from Lance, walking backward toward the Lion's mouth. “Should I call you? I’ll leave my comlink open.”
“Yes. Always yes.” Lance didn’t take his eyes off Keith even as he entered the lion. “I’ll be there when you do.”
“Yeah. Right. I know.” Keith continued to walk backward. Then, the head of Voltron, the renowned member of the elite Blade of Mamora, the best pilot of his generation, stumbled over his own two feet catching himself on one of the lion’s fangs. His face flushed and with a quick wave he skirted inside. The maw closing tight behind him.
Lance lingered for several moments after Keith disappeared, but he quickly returned to his room, passing Hunk in the hallway and stopping only long enough to check on him and grab the food he brought for Keith before disappearing back into his sanctuary and settling on the bed. He switched on the com and settled down. Keith was nowhere in the frame, but he could hear the sound of water running.
A humming filled the room, distorted by the digital feedback as the door slipped open. Steam billowed into the frame followed by Keith. His pale skin reddened by the water’s temperature, hair dripping heavy down his shoulders leading to rivets running down his chest and to the small of his back. Where they pooled and collected in the tantalizing dip before leaving their watery trails down the perfect curve of his ass. He walked around the room, clueless to the show he performed as he hummed a wordless tune to himself.
Lance’s eyes widened as soon as the camera picked up Keith’s form. He was naked. Completely naked and wet. No towel. Nothing. Water making his skin shimmer in the light of the room. Faint lines curled around his torso and Lance found his eyes following them down to his lower abdomen. He hadn’t noticed them before, but he was also very distracted by Keith’s belly ring. Now, the faint stripes were almost all he could see. Almost. His eyes dropped lower, and his cheeks darkened. He opened his mouth to say something. He should make it known that Keith was giving him a show, but the only sound that came out was a squeak.
“Hmmnmn…mmnnmhmmm…” Keith leaned toward the mirror, checking his teeth as he flicked his tongue across his fang, unaware of the eyes following him across the room. The old rock tune transformed into a melodious acapella with Keith’s shy voice softening the rougher tones and became clearer the closer moved to his bed.
“K-Keith!” Lance finally managed to get a word out. He knew he should have turned his head away from the screen, but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t tear his eyes from that perfect, godlike body. He couldn’t convince himself to be a better person than who he was. “I…I…”
“Oh! Hey!” A smile brightening Keith’s face as he heard Lance over his com. “You made it back pretty fast. Oh! Did you-did you hear me singing?” He sat on the edge of the bed, the camera now getting a full view of both flushed cheeks. “I’m sorry…”
Lance’s hands were firmly in his lap as he stared at the other paladin. “No…that’s not…You…Video…I saw…I see….” He whimpered out the words.
“Hm?” Keith looked over his shoulder and the realization dawned. An audible squawk escaped him as he scrambled to hide behind the bed. “Quiznack! LANCE!” Keith vanished off frame. “Shitshitshit!” The string of embarrassed curses silenced after a moment and a black tuff of hair peaked above the bed, following by two drooped ears before a pair of wide eyes. “You saw…?”
“Everything.” Lance lifted his hands from his lap and hid his face in them now that Keith had broken his line of sight with his perfectly sexy body. “I…I’m sorry! I should have looked away, but I couldn’t. You’re amazing.”
“Amazing?” Keith rested his chin on the mattress, his cheek puffed out to one side. “You know…” He started, an impish glint sparkling in his eyes. “Fair is fair.”