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Bad Timing

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“Its today, it’s today, it’s todaaaaayyyyyyyy~~~” Lance sings to Hunk on the bus.

“I know,” Hunk said, a little patronizingly, “You told me this morning. And yesterday AND every day for the past week.”

Lance threw his head back into the not-so-cushion-y bus seat. “But it’s REALLY today! I…this day always felt so long in coming, sometimes it felt like FOREVER. But I’m really going to meet them today!” He shoved his arm in Hunk’s face, showing how the soulmate timer had gone down to hours instead of days.

Hunk was very aware of the day. He had been awaiting it just as much Lance had, but not with excitement. Instead he had dreaded this day. You see, Hunk had a soulmate timer too, just like everyone did, but his read 00:00:00. It had for as long as he’d known Lance.

Exactly for as long as he’d known Lance.

In kindergarten, he hadn’t really understood soulmate timers. They would go over them in class when he was older. He remembered on the first day, though, his moms were very excited, telling him to pay attention when the numbers went to 0, and that whoever he met at that time would be a very important friend.

He did exactly as his moms instructed, watching the numbers go down. He was very smart for his age, and good at counting even really high, and telling time. As the timer went down and down and down, someone came over and tapped his shoulder. “Hi!” the little brunette with the missing tooth said, “Do you wanna play with me? I have Voltron action figures!”

Hunk, (not called that at the time, he’d get that nickname from Lance himself when they were older) nodded, remembering what his mamas told him. Indeed, Lance was very friendly, and Hunk was glad to call him his first friend of Kindergarten. They played together all day. Lance was very energetic and Hunk thought his mamas were very smart, Lance was indeed a very important friend.

After school, Hunk’s moms came to pick him up before Lance’s parents got there, so Hunk brought him up to introduce him. His moms looked at Lance’s arm, where his own soulmate tattoo ticked down. Then they looked at each other, Hunk not understanding the look passing between them.

That night, he heard them arguing. “—shouldn’t tell him yet, he’s too young,” “He’s going to find out eventually,” “It’s going to break his heart!” “It’ll be better if he knows now rather than finding out later,” “Why did this have to happen to our boy? He’s so special and kind. What kind of universe would do this?” “I don’t know love…I don’t know…”

Hunk went downstairs, listening to them. When they realized they’d been overheard, they felt they had no choice but to explain. They told him about something called ‘unrequited soulmates.’ While most of the time, the universe made couples like his mamas, who had the potential to be a perfect match for one another, sometimes the universe would make someone perfect for someone else, but not perfect for each other. Hunk didn’t understand.

They simplified it as best they could that, while Lance was the perfect person for him as a lifemate and partner….someone else out there was Lance’s perfect person. Someone he’d meet later in his life.

Hunk remained friends with Lance, though. They got along very well, and Hunk didn’t understand the fuss or why it was so sad. Sure Lance would have his own soulmate later, but he made Hunk happy, why shouldn’t they be friends, at least?

They stayed best friends until they were 11 when Hunk realized he was in love with him.

11 was a very tough year for Hunk. He was just starting to go through puberty, which was hard enough, but he finally realized how unfair everything was. Lance would always talk about his soulmate—ALWAYS—and how excited he was to have someone who would love him unconditionally. Hunk didn’t understand why that couldn’t be him. HE was the one who’d been friends with Lance all this time. HE knew all Lance’s likes and dislikes, and HE had been the one to hold Lance when he was sad and laugh with him when they were happy. What did he not have that this mysterious soulmate did?

It had gotten to the point he tried to break off his friendship with Lance. He thought maybe it would be less painful if he wasn’t around Lance all the time. Lance was very upset, and didn’t understand. Finally, Lance ended up coming over to Hunk’s house and yelling at him through his window, about how much he cared for him, and Hunk….Hunk tried to resist. He sat in his room sniffling, listening to Lance cry at him. But he couldn’t. He never could resist Lance. Maybe the universe knew that. So he went out and hugged Lance and apologized and decided to enjoy the few years he had with him before his soulmate came and whisked him away.

But the years flew by, and here they were. Last night Hunk had cried, and his moms comforted him, and they promised to have ice cream and all his favorite treats for when he got home. In the meantime, he used his best acting face and tried to seem as happy for Lance as was possible, as he nervously awaited his soulmate.

“So, since we’re going to school, they probably go to school with us, right?” Lance said, tapping his foot.

“Probably, I guess,” Hunk shrugged, thinking of Lance walking around with one of their nameless classmates, holding hands and trading kisses.

“I know a lot of people at the school. I wonder if they’re a new student,” Lance said, “Or maybe they’re just really shy so I haven’t seen them around. I hope it’s not just someone visiting, I mean, of course it’ll be okay, we have our whole lives and such, but…I’d like to get to know them.” Lance suddenly made a weird face. “You don’t think it’s a TEACHER do you?”

“What?” Hunk asked, “No, no, definitely not.”

“Cause I mean, if it’s a young teacher, we’d maybe have an ok age difference when we’re older, but like…I don’t want to think about that NOW.”

“Lance, I highly doubt it’s a teacher,” Hunk said, “Just relax, let nature take it’s course, and don’t worry about it until you meet them.”

Lance nodded, “You’re right, you’re right. As usual.” Lance rested his head on Hunk’s shoulder. Lance had always been cuddly, and as they grew up, they fit together perfectly. “You’ll meet them too, right? Like…” Lance took a deep breath, “I know you have trouble with the soulmate stuff…” Hunk had long ago told Lance his timer ran out in preschool when he didn’t remember, and that was why he was sensitive about Lance’s soulmate talk, “But you’re like, the best person ever, and I know I’ll know the soulmate is the right person if they like you. Fuck the universe, you’re the best judge of character of anyone I know.”

Hunk smiled at him, “Of course, of course,” he said. He knew it was important for Lance to have two people he cared for so much to get along. And he would do his best not to outright hate the person who was the center of his anger for most of his pubescence.

“Okay, so, the timer should be going down during lunch time,” Lance said, “I figure instead of going out to the courtyard like usual we’d stick to the cafeteria, so we can see more people than we usually would.”

“I’m pretty sure the power of the universe guarantees you’ll meet them wherever you are.” Hunk said. HE didn’t want to go to the cafeteria. It was loud and gross and smelled weird.

“Come on, Hunky Monkey,” Lance said, nuzzling into his arm and flashing him puppy dog eyes, “For me?”

Hunk sighed. All these years and he was still weak. “Fine…” He muttered.

Lance beamed and kissed him on the cheek. He was always affectionate with Hunk, but never too much. Sometimes, Hunk got this ray of hope, this idea like….like Lance returned his feelings. But he never put stock in them. It was just wishful thinking.

Lance couldn’t focus through any of his lessons. To be honest, Hunk couldn’t either, but he was better at faking it. He didn’t want to lose Lance. Lance assured him he wouldn’t, but there was no way of knowing the future.

Well, he took that back. There was one way of knowing. Lance’s timer ticking down to 0 meant that in 1 hour, 37 minutes and 29 seconds, he was going to meet someone that would change his life. Both their lives.

Finally, the lunch bell rang, and Lance’s timer had gone down to about 10 minutes. “C’mon!” Lance said, jumping out of his seat and grabbing Hunk’s arm, “Lets go to the cafeteria, quick!”

Hunk followed, practically having to run to keep up with Lance’s long legs, “Slow down, man,” Hunk said, “it’ll happen when it happens, you’re not going to miss it.”

“I know!” Lance said, “But I want to eat before it happens so I don’t meet them on an empty stomach. Wait…” He paused, “Should I wait to eat? So that they can join us for lunch? Oh, and what if I get food stuck in my teeth?! Are my teeth okay? Hunk?” Hunk looked at him as Lance smiled brilliantly at him.

“Gorgeous as always,” Hunk said, trying to sound just amused and not pining. Lance nodded and wandered into the cafeteria.

Hunk had brought his own lunch and so sat at a relatively empty table. Lance put his stuff beside him, before wandering through the aisles of the lunch hall, looking around wildly for a sign of his love.

Hunk watched him, and looked around him just as curiously. Which one of the people here would it be? Several of them Lance knew already, so that canceled them out, but there were still enough strange faces that it could be anyone.

Of course, as Hunk was observing from further away, he saw the likely person, with headphones on his head and eyes on the floor as he carried his lunch tray, not being particularly observant of where he was going…and Lance was walking backwards at him.

As the timer hit 0, Lance crashed into the stranger, sending his lunch tray clattering to the ground. “Watch it, asshole!” he said, glaring at Lance and then crouching down to try and salvage his food.

Lance gaped, looking down at him. “H-hi,” he mumbled out, “I’m Lance.”

“Delighted.” The stranger said, sarcastically, trying to re-assemble his sandwich, lettuce and tomatoes falling out, “Now if you can, please get out of my way.”

“Oh, here, let me help,” He said, reaching to grab the fallen juice box…but squeezing it a little too hard and ended up squirting it all over the stranger’s jacket. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!”

The stranger just groaned, taking his jacket off. Both Hunk’s and Lance’s eyes zeroed in on the mark on his arm. There were still numbers ticking down, not many now, by the looks of it, but still some. “You…” Lance muttered, transfixed by the numbers, “You’re not…”

“What?” the stranger said, confused.

Lance swallowed and shook his head. “Nothing…nevermind…I um…I’m sorry about…about you’re lunch…”

“’Sfine,” he said, “Bye.” And then he was gone.

Lance looked hopelessly back at Hunk, and he recognized the look of despair that came with an unrequited soulmate.

 

Thank goodness Hunk’s Mama was a writer who worked from home and therefore got Hunk’s call to come pick him and Lance up partway through the schoolday. Lance wasn’t really functioning well, crying out his tears in the bathroom as Hunk held him, not protesting at all the fact they were skipping classes, and then just kinda…went dead inside. He was limp in Hunk’s arms and only stirred occasionally at Hunk’s question as to whether or not he wanted to go home.

Lance’s parents both worked, unfortunately, and his siblings had moved out, so Hunk brought him to his house. Hunk’s Mama had apparently spent the day cooking Hunk’s favorite foods, as promised, but Hunk offered them to Lance instead, his Mama going back to her home office and telling them to let her know if they needed anything.

“Thank you,” were the first words Lance managed after a while, “for…for dealing with me.”

“Hey,” Hunk said, holding him close and offering him water. His eyes looked really red. “Of course, man. I know you’d do the same for me.”

Lance nodded, glumly drinking his water. “I feel like shit,” he said, “I just…I mean obviously I’m sad, but I…I…”

“You feel…inadequate, somehow,” Hunk said, “Like, the universe has declared you lacking in some way, and you don’t even know in what way, so you can’t do anything about it.”

Lance looked up at him. “That’s exactly how I feel,” he said, blinking, “Like…like exactly…how do you do that?”

Hunk opened his mouth, not willing to admit his years of feeling that exact emotion. “I just…was just imagining, um…”

Lance sniffed dramatically and snuggled into Hunk’s chest. “At least I still have you,” he said.

Hunk tried to think of something to say, but came up completely blank. Instead he just hugged Lance tighter.

 

The next day, Lance called in sick, leaving Hunk with their other friend, Pidge. Pidge had been out herself the day before, and so Hunk filled her in on everything. Pidge was always a good person to talk to when Hunk couldn’t talk to Lance. He broke down and told her what happened in kindergarten about a year ago.

“Geez, sucks for Lance,” Pidge said as Hunk finished the story, “I’m sure he’ll be ok, though, eventually. Soulmates aren’t everything.” Pidge's soulmate mark always read 00:00:00 ever since she got it, which many people thought of as being sad or strange, but Pidge didn’t mind as much. She figured out at some point it was because she was Aromantic and didn’t want that kind of life partner. She told Hunk once that as long as she had friends, a soulmate seemed kinda unnecessary.

“Yeah…” Hunk said, his face screwing up in concentration.

“Oh boy,” Pidge said, “I know that face. That’s your think-y face.” Pidge poked his cheek, “What’s happenin in that big brain of yours, buddy?”

Hunk bit his lip, debating letting Pidge into his thought process. “I was wondering…” he said slowly, “Why…why don’t I tell Lance he’s my soulmate?”

Pidge stopped drinking her juice to stare at him. Her face was blank enough he couldn’t tell if she disapproved or was just surprised, but waited for him to continue.

“I just mean,” Hunk said, nervously fiddling with his fingers, “It…it could be comforting to know he’s at least SOMEONE’S soulmate. And he’ll know he’s not alone. And…and…”

“And he might decide to date you?” Pidge asked, eyebrow raised.

Hunk was laser focused on his fingers. “Well, why not?” He asked, “I make Lance happy. You know I do. I would care for him like his real soulmate obviously won’t. And there are plenty of happy couples out there that aren’t soulmates.”

“That’s IF Lance wants to date you,” Pidge said, “I know he loves you, maybe more than anyone outside his family, but that doesn’t mean that love is romantic.” Her words stung pretty deep in his heart, but he knew she was right. “And even if it is, or can be someday…are you going to be happy knowing you’re the second choice? I hate to say it, but sometimes there are reasons people aren’t soulmates.”

“I just want Lance to be happy.” Hunk mumbled, “All this time…all these YEARS I’ve put Lance’s happiness before my own. Is it so selfish really to just…to just HOPE I can be happy too?”

Pidge looked at him sympathetically, putting a hand on his arm. She wasn’t much for physical affection, but she knew he was. “Look, I know you care for him, and I care for you both. Truth be told I think you’d make a great couple. But I just don’t want to see you get your hopes dashed. I just…I want you to be happy.”

Hunk sighed, “I know.” He gave her a nice side hug.

Looking up, his attention was quickly pulled as he saw none other than the stranger, Lance’s soulmate, the dark haired kid with the mullet. Today he forewent his jacket, sitting in a short sleeved shirt with a tray beside him as he sat on the low wall outside, his cellphone pressed to his ear.

“Hunk,” Pidge said, trying to get his attention back, “What is that face, I don’t like that face.”

It was Hunk’s angry face. He was rarely angry, not at anyone in particular, and certainly not enough to ever show it, but he was ANGRY. It wasn’t like the strange boy knew what he did, but dammit, Lance was amazing, and he was the best unrequited soulmate Hunk could ever ask for. This kid should at least learn to be NICE to him. It made things so much easier to have Lance as a friend when Hunk was upset, Lance deserved that.

“Hunk,” Hunk stood up, heedless of Pidge’s warnings, “Hunk, Hunk, what’re you doing?”

Hunk was already marching away, making a beeline for the strange boy. “I know, Shiro,” Hunk heard the boy said into his phone as he got closer, “Look, I’m already nervous enough…but you’re NOT calming me down, though, you’re making it worse! Listen, he’ll be here any second, I have to—“

“Hey asshole!” Hunk said, finally close enough to speak to him, “I don’t know where you get off being mean to people who just made a mistake but maybe next time actually think about what you’re doing. That guy yesterday was my friend and you…you don’t even deserve to know why what you said hurt him, but suffice to say you would do well to consider what another person might be going through before just insulting them. And I realize that’s what I’m doing right now, but dammit, you started this!” He ended lamely, like a little kid arguing over the sandbox.

The stranger didn’t seem offended, though. He just stared up at Hunk, blinking, “It…it’s you?” he asked.

Hunk didn’t know what he was talking about. Then the boy looked between Hunk and his own arm, and Hunk finally realized…the soulmate tattoo on his arm had finally ticked down to 00:00:00.

Hunk was his soulmate.

 

Hunk wasn’t ENTIRELY sure what happened directly after that, except that there was a lot of confusion and he was very grateful to Pidge for figuring out the basics of what was going on and relaying it to the boy, who’s name turned out to be Keith, as best as she could. Thank goodness, because honestly Hunk had no idea what to say.

Keith was shocked to hear that he was apparently Lance’s soulmate, and visibly disappointed when he heard that Lance was Hunk’s. “So…what…I mean what do we even DO?”

Hunk didn’t know. There was only one person he could think of to go to about soulmate questions, and that was his favorite teacher of all time, who taught science but was generally knowledgeable about everything, Mr. Smythe, or as he’d rather be known, Coran. Hunk and Keith agreed to meet after school and go talk to him, having one of the strangest and most uncomfortable conversations of Hunk’s entire life to explain everything.

Once they were done, Coran templed his fingers over his mouth, looking between the two boys. “Does Lance know about this?”

Hunk looked at the ground sheepish. “Well, I mean…no, it’s…I mean this part at least has just happened.”

“Mr. Coran,” Keith said, not as familiar with the teacher as Hunk was (turns out he WAS a new student) “What does this…what does this MEAN?”

Coran took a deep sigh. “Call up Lance. I think it’d be best if he were here for this.”

Hunk swallowed awkwardly. As terrible as explaining everything to first Keith and then Coran was…he didn’t know how he was supposed to explain to Lance, his best friend, that he’d been lying for the entire time they’d known each other. He finally reached for his phone. Lance picked up on the first ring. “What’s up?” Lance’s voice came.

“H-hey, Lance,” Hunk said, under the watchful eyes of Coran and Keith, “So um…Would you…I mean, can you come to the school right now?”

“Isn’t school over by now?”

Hunk sighed. “Yeah…I’m with Coran right now and uh…he…he says you need to be here for this.”

“It can’t wait for tomorrow?”

“No,” There was no way Hunk was sitting on this for a whole day, “No, it…please Lance…” He swallowed, “Its…it’s about the uh…the soulmate thing.”

There was a long moment of silence where Hunk was unreasonably concerned that Lance was about to spew some form of hatred towards him. “I’ll be there in a few.”

The call ended, and the three were left in Coran’s classroom in uncomfortable silence. Coran went to grading some papers while he waited. Keith got into an intense chat conversation on his phone Hunk had questions about, but at least with the way he kept looking up at Hunk every few seconds, Hunk had a decent idea of what it was about. Hunk wasn’t sure what to do. He looked at his phone every few seconds to see if there were any messages or updates from Lance but he was inevitably disappointed.

Finally, Lance came in, freezing at the sight of Keith. “Lance,” Coran said, warmly, “Please, come in.”

Lance did, hesitantly, sitting down. “What’s going on?”

Coran and Keith looked to Hunk who awkwardly cleared his throat. “Lance…um…something…something happened today.” He looked over to Keith, “This is Keith. I…I went over to talk to him, um, and at that moment…his…well, his timer…”

Lance’s eyes fell to Keith’s timer, “Oh my…” Lance said in clarity, “He’s…he’s the guy, isn’t he? The one you met in pre-school…”

Hunk frowned, “What? No…no,”

“So, you met him, but he didn’t meet you or something? Can that even work? But…you found each other now,” A smile that might have seemed genuine if Hunk didn’t know Lance so well appeared on his lips, hiding the pain in his eyes, “That’s so great, Hunk! I’m so happy for you!”

“Lance, listen,” Hunk said, “You don’t understand…I didn’t meet Keith in pre-school. I didn’t…there was no one in pre-school, I mean…of course there were people but there wasn’t…that wasn’t where I met my soulmate…”

Lance frowned at him, confused. Hunk took a huge breath, not sure he could look Lance in the eyes for this. “I lied. I…I remember the day my soulmate timer went down. Pretty clearly, actually. It was the first day of Kindergarten. The day…the day I met you.”

Lance was still staring at him, mouth slightly open. Hunk thought for a moment that maybe he didn’t understand, but the slight ease of his brow let Hunk read him. He knew.

“I’m…”Lance started to say, “I’m your…” Hunk nodded, confirming the question Lance didn’t seem able to ask. “You never told me. How come you never told me?”

Hunk shrugged, “I didn’t want you to feel guilty or…or pity me or whatever. I just…I dunno, I didn’t think it’d be helpful. I certainly didn’t think something like this would happen.”

“What are even the chances?” Keith asked to the room at large, “I mean, that unrequited soulmates would like…loop, like that?

“I have a theory,” Coran said, “You see, there are some cases, that are somewhat rare and therefore aren’t really discussed in school curriculums,” Coran seemed to have negative opinions on that, practically rolling his eyes at the state of the ‘curriculum’ “of people who have multiple soulmates.”

All three sets of their eyebrows shot up. Hunk was the first to speak “Multiple…”

“Indeed,” Coran confirmed, “however, given how soulmate timers are designed, they can only lead you to one soulmate, not multiple. My THEORY, and there’s no real way to confirm this, unfortunately, is that this little comedy of errors is the universe’s way of bringing the three of you together.”

The three of them exchanged glances, eyes darting between each other.

Lance cleared his throat, the eyes in the room settling on him. “I…” he started, “I need…a moment…” he got up and practically launched himself out of the room and into the school’s hallway.

Keith and Hunk looked at each other. He knew he should leave it alone, let Lance have his moment….but dammit if he could never resist Lance. He got up and followed him. “Lance,” He called out as Lance paced up and down the hall.

Lance looked up, and then back at his feet, pacing. “Is it weird that this all makes sense? Lance asked, possibly more to himself than Hunk.

“Yeah,” Hunk said, “a bit, probably.”

Lance huffed a laugh at a joke Hunk didn’t quite get. “Thought so. It just…” He took a breath, “I thought…I mean, for a long time, I thought…it’d make more sense if we were soulmates. You and me.” He kicked his feet out, shuffling as he unknowingly brought Hunk’s world shattering around him. “I mean…I thought about it. Just saying ‘screw the universe’ and trying to claim you for my own. But…I ended up trusting in the universe. Maybe too much. I decided it wasn’t meant to be…” He sniffled, and Hunk stepped forward, offering his arms. “I thought you were claimed by someone else, some unknown person who could show up at any minute and…and just take you from me, I—“

Hunk cut him off, holding his head. “Never, man,” he said, “Even if I was for someone else, I…I couldn’t imagine a life without you in one form or another. I mean, I never thought I could be…you know, in your life the way I really wanted, but…”

“You wanted this?” Lance took his hand in his own. “Forget the universe for a second, forget what we’re supposed to do and not supposed to do and yadda yadda yadda, would you want…me?”

Hunk didn’t even register himself nodding at first, it was just his immediate response. “Yes,” He said, hoping he didn’t sound too eager, “Yes, Lance…Quiznak, I—“

Lance reached up and pulled him in. He hesitated for only a moment, lips hovering by Hunk’s, waiting for permission. Hunk took the last step, actually pressing them together.

At first it was light, sweet, experimental. Then Lance sucked in a breath, as if he was trying to breath in Hunk himself and the kiss deepened into something that had been building for 12 long years. After a moment that lasted an eternity, the kiss broke into light pecks, little reminders back and forth that this was real, this wasn’t imagined, the other person was really here and he wanted this.

Once they broke apart for real, heads leaning against each other, they heard the sound of someone clearing their throat. Looking, they saw Keith awkwardly standing by Coran’s door. “Look,” Keith said, “You guys are clearly…clearly very close. I don’t want to come between that, so…” He took a breath, “Maybe it’s for the best if I just…back out, and let you two have this.”

Keith actually bowed his head and started walking away down the hallway. Lance and Hunk looked at each other, and after years of close friendship were able to have a complete conversation with only looks.

‘He’s in the same situation we were in,’ Hunk’s look said, ‘we can’t let him go through that.’

‘Plus he’s kinda cute,’ Lance’s wandering eyes agreed. Hunk had to laugh at the flirty look Lance shot Keith’s way, definitely checking out his ass. Hunk always thought he’d be overwhelmed with jealousy at the hint of Lance checking out another guy…but instead he found himself just checking him out along with him. The attraction was far more fun to share than get angry over. “Wait,” Hunk called.

Keith stopped in his tracks and turned back as Lance and Hunk jogged to keep up. “Just giving up like that, are you?” Lance said, “Honestly, the both of you, no faith that I’ll return your affections AT ALL.”

Keith frowned looking between them. “What are you talking about?”

“Look, clearly none of us really know what the universe wants,” Hunk said, “So…the best thing is probably to try and figure it out on our own. Get to know each other, all three of us, and make our own decisions, together.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself!” Lance said, nodding. “So, whatd’ya say, Keithy boy? Would you like to go on a date with us?”

Keith blinked at them, gaping like a baby bird. He really was cute. “Uhh…sure?”

“Awesome,” Hunk took his hand, “Lance, shall we?”

“Absolutely, Hunky Monkey,” Lance nodded, taking Keith’s other hand. “Onward!”

 

Several years later

 

Hunk woke up to the feeling of kisses on his cheek. “Let him sleep,” He heard through his daze of dreams.

“No,” another voice said, “If he doesn’t wake up soon he won’t nap at his usual time and then he won’t get to sleep at his usual time and his whole rhythm will be thrown off!”

The rapidfire kisses began again. “I think you’re exaggerating—“ the other voice started, but Hunk was already opening one eye. “Good morning,” Keith said, turned towards him on their bed.

Hunk’s eye slid up to where Lance was perched on his side, giving the kisses and beaming at him, “Mornin’ babe.”

“Wha time is it?” Hunk asked, sleep in his throat. He was usually up before Keith and Lance, but he’d stayed up late working on an engineering problem..

“’bout 9,” Keith said, snuggling just a little closer, “But Lance is hungry.”

“Hey!” Lance protested a little too loudly in his ear, “Your tummy was the one growling. Forgive me for caring to make sure you’re fed!”

Hunk chuckled. “You know, you can always make breakfast every once in a while.”

Lance nuzzled into Hunk’s chin, “But you make the pancakes so fluffy. Mine are ok on average, and Keith’s are both undercooked and burnt somehow.”

“Hey!” It was Keith’s turn to protest. Lance stuck his tongue out at him, which made Keith push Lance off his perch on Hunk with a yelp.

“RUDE!” Lance said, snuggling up to Hunk and using him as a shield against Keith.

Keith snuggled closer to Hunk, “You can sleep for a bit longer, if you want, we’ll come up with something.”

“Nah,” Hunk said, stretching, “Pancakes sound good. Any particular kind you want?”

“Blueberry,” “Strawberry,” they said at the same time. All three laughed at the contradiction.

“Funny,” Hunk said, “I was thinking banana.” Keith and Lance both frowned, both wanting to make Hunk happy, but not wanting to give up ground. “Tell you what, I’ll make delicious mixed-fruit pancakes, IF you guys cut the fruit for me.”

“Deal,” they said as one.

Keith ended up cutting all the fruit while Hunk made the batter. It wasn’t that Lance didn’t try to help, he did, but Keith was insistent that he was doing it wrong. Slicing was one of Keith’s only cooking skills, and he was very proud and protective of how it was done.

Instead, Lance draped himself over Keith. As much as they competed and fought, there was no question that the two loved each other, as much as they loved Hunk.

Hunk smiled, watching the pair of them. He thought back to his childhood, where he had pictured images like this, Lance wrapped around some stranger, sleepy, happy, and in love. Back then, the image had filled him with anger and jealousy and sorrow. Now that it had happened, though, he could only feel joy. He loved seeing how in love his partners were with each other. They still had problems occasionally, communication issues mostly, but so far they’d worked them out.

In the end, it didn’t matter what their timers said about who they were meant to be with. They chose this, all three of them, again and again. Fate had only taken them so far, and now the rest of their lives were up to them. Hunk wouldn’t have had it any other way.