Keith wasn’t sure how long he had been there. The only thing he knew was that, as soon as the lions had arrived into the hangars, he had darted to his room, gotten rid of the armor, leaving only the black suit behind, and collapsed into the unmade bed.
His head was filled with hundreds of people, dying in the hands of the Galra, with so many things he could have done and actually nothing he could do to save them all.
He rolled onto his side, facing the wall, eyes shut trying to forget all of that, just for a second, so he could just go to sleep.
There was a sharp knock on the door.
“Keith? Hey buddy, I know you’re in there, I’m coming in”
The door opened with a soft hiss, the blue paladin padding into the room, trying to make anything out in the darkness that filled the space.
“Keith?” He finally spotted the black-haired boy in the bed, the tension on his back giving him away and telling him the other was awake. He then noticed the red paladin hadn’t yet changed into some clean clothes and frowned, worried “Keith? You know we arrived more than a few hours ago, right? I came by because I was worried when I didn’t see you at dinner and couldn't sleep”
Something warm unraveled in Keith’s chest after the declaration, knowing that he was important enough for Lance to not be able to sleep because of him, although a few seconds after he felt terribly guilty for that fact.
Still, he couldn't answer to the blue-eyed boy sitting now by his side in the bed, instead, he tried to make himself smaller, hoping Lance would just leave before asking. Cause, honestly, he couldn't find it in him to explain to the boy that held a special place in his heart how it was his fault how all of the inhabitants of that planet had died, even if the other boy already knew.
“Keith? Come on, you know you can talk to me if something is bothering you right?” Lance then raked his fingers through his own chocolate brown locks, trying to remain calm although Keith’s attitude had him more worried with each second that passed. “Keith?”
And of course, it was only a matter of time, before the red paladin broke and started sobbing, burying his face in the pillow while hugging himself, legs tightly pressed against his own chest.
“I-I’m sorry, I’m s-so so sorry, La-ance”
Lance felt his heart break a little with those words. The red paladin almost never apologized, and hearing him so broken, gasping for air while begging for sorry, the guilt apparently eating him alive, was nothing Lance wanted to see ever again.
Keith was slightly surprised when he felt a couple of arms sneaking their way around his waist, although that didn't stop the crying before his whole torso was lifted and placed back against Lance’s. He kept on sobbing into the neck of the other boy, his mind screaming at him for letting all those feelings break free, while he himself kept begging for forgiveness, another part of his mind supplying him with terrifying images of all those dead aliens, with wide innocent eyes, thinking Voltron was going to be able to save them, only to be greatly disappointed.
And he knew he could've done something different to help, to save them. He's should've waited till Shiro gave them the order, or gone for the canon by himself instead of waiting for the others. He should’ve, at least, taken the shot fired instead of ducking out of the way, leaving all those aliens unprotected without him knowing.
He wasn't aware he was talking out loud until the blue paladin started speaking to him in a hushed calmed voice, something passionate underneath his words.
“Come on, Keith, you can’t really think that. Nothing that happened in the mission could have gone differently, or else we wouldn't be here…”
“T-that’s n-no-ot tr-rue… If I-I h-hadn’t been s-so imp-pulsive th-those aliens w-would b-be alive”
Lance curved himself more around the purple-eyed boy, hoping to keep all the bad things from him, trying to shield him from the world.
“And probably, if you hadn't dived like that right before the blaster, you and I would be dead cause it would have impacted us both” He felt Keith raising his head till both their eyes met. Blue eyes focused themselves only on the pair of purple ones, the inexistent light of the room making them look like a small private section of the universe itself “Keith, it’s okay to feel like that, but you have to let it go. We can't save everyone. And we are of no use to the rest of the universe if we are dead. You did what you could and yeah, you can mourn the lives of those people, but don't let it stop you from keep on trying to do more good. We all could’ve done something else, something more, and maybe we could've saved them. But there’s no way to know if any of us would still be here if that were the case. So it’s fine if it hurts, but we are here for you, okay?”
At the end of the speech, Keith’s eyes were slightly wider and no less wet. He nodded before he went back into the crook of Lance’s neck, placing his forehead against warm skin, more relaxed than before after understanding that Lance was right, if anything, he had to thank whatever was up there that he and his friends were alive.
Lance sighed softly, hugging the boy in his arms slightly tighter before letting go.
“Come on Keith, you have to take a shower and eat something. Get up and I’ll help you if you want”
He felt more than saw the other boy shaking his head against his skin.
“No. I’m tired, you're warm”
The blue paladin felt a fond smile make its way into his lips, without helping himself when Keith sounded like a two year-old throwing a tantrum.
“Keith, come on, what are you, two? You have to take a shower, you stink. And you have to eat cause otherwise you are not going to be strong enough to defeat the Galra”
Once again, a shake of head.
“Fine… what about… I help you take a bath and afterward bring you some food while you stay in bed. Does that sound good buddy?”
He looked down to see a pair of purple eyes looking up at him with an emotion he wasn't quite able to place.
“You would really do that?”
Lance smiled softly.
“Yeah, of course. Anything for my favorite samurai”
Keith’s smile was priceless, even when Lance was starting to get more than a little nervous due to the simple thought of having to give a bath to the black haired boy.
Still, he pushed himself out of the bed, the comfort of having Keith in his arms leaving him when he detangled himself from the mass of limbs, and strode into the adjacent bathroom, starting the water and checking it was in the right temperature. Once he got that settled he open the cabinet, knowing there would be somebody care products if this bathroom had the same layout that his had. Once he found some salts and bubbles, threw them in the water and make sure de bath was ready, he stepped into the room again, where Keith hadn’t left his spot in the bed.
“Okay Keith-y boy, up you go, let’s get you cleaned up so you can eat something before going to bed” The blue paladin helped the other boy to sit before both went into the bathroom.
Once inside Lance had no problem to start to get rid of his t-shirt and was working on his jeans when he noticed Keith staring at the floor, apparently deep in thought, but the blue-eyed boy knew him well enough to know he was embarrassed.
“Oh come on dude, I’ve seen you more than enough times naked in the showers after training...” Realizing that what he had just said sounded like he stared often to his naked friend he tried fixing it, probably making it worse “I-I mean, not that I stare at you or anything, you know, just... what I meant was that...” Taking a deep breath he tried relaxing before saying his next words, making an effort in not messing this “I just want to help you and there’s no need to be embarrassed, and you can always just tell me to fuck off and leave you to it...”
He watched as the red paladin started to awkwardly peel off the suit, wincing a little as the cold air hit his skin. Once he reached the waist, purple eyes met his and Lance realized he was totally staring. He quickly averted his gaze, focusing in stepping out of his own pants and looking around for the bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
He heard a badly concealed gasp and when he turned around, found a very naked Keith once again staring intently at the floor, cheeks so red he could’ve been mistaken for a tomato. Somewhere in his chest, he felt the fondness spread in a warm wave. Honestly, Keith had no fucking right to act in such an adorable and soft way.
“Ok Red, let’s get into this bath. Thank this ancient castle for its ability to keep the water at the right temperature for as long as we need, otherwise, I would have to do it all over again and that, my friend, would’ve been a pain in the ass!” He spoke loudly while stepping into the tub before leveling himself into the warm water, spreading his legs to make room for Keith to sit in between.
When nothing happened, the blue-eyed boy looked up, searching for the other boy’s eyes, only to find Keith looking more nervous than he had ever seen him.
He smiled softly, understanding the feeling.
“Come on, let’s start with your hair”
The red paladin looked up, only to find a reassuring smile and with a little more confidence, stepped into the water. Once Lance made sure he was comfortably settled between his legs, he took the small bowl by the tub and then filled it with water, warning Keith before letting the water fall into the mop of black hair.
He heard the other boy splutter anyways and chuckled softly in return. Lance repeated the motion a few times, making sure the hair was properly wet before taking the bottle of the altean version of shampoo and squirting a glob of it into the palm of his hand. He then applied it and oh. god. For someone with probably no hair routine or whatsoever, Keith had hair way too soft. He then started rubbing the product into the scalp of the other boy, feeling him gradually relaxing into the touch.
And if Lance was enjoying himself more than he had any right to be while washing Keith Kogane’s hair, well... no one had to know, right?
Going through the rest of the steps to wash Keith’s hair was peaceful. The blue paladin made sure to properly condition each strand of hair, before rinsing the product with lukewarm water. By the end of it, Keith might as well had been a puddle of goo with how relaxed he felt.
Once he was done with the rinsing, which he did meticulously, he paused, not sure of how to proceed. He carefully placed both hands in the shoulders of the boy in front of him.
“So, Keith, what do you feel comfortable with me helping with next?”
The red paladin turned halfway around, enough for his purple eyes to meet ocean blue ones.
“Um... I’m honestly okay with whatever. I’m way too tired to mind”
Lance laughed loudly, going as far as to rest his forehead between pale shoulder blades. He felt how Keith tensed before relaxing again, leaning back slightly.
After calming down, the blue paladin grabbed a sponge nearby and after applying a little space soap, he starting rubbing onto the pale skin in front of him.
He focused himself in the task, rubbing over sore muscles and tense shoulders due to the battles they fought every day, that relaxed under his touch. After finishing off the back and shoulders, he rinsed the soap away before tugging the other boy against his own chest, giving him access to a pale chest, arms and belly, all three covered in lean strong muscle that in any other situation would have turned him into a blushing stuttering mess, but it was not the time.
He felt the other boy melt against him, a nose finding its way to end against his throat, soft hair tickling his chin. He resumed his task, making sure to keep his scrubbing to an appropriate distance of lower regions, not going further than the navel in order to keep Keith comfortable.
Once he finished and rinsed everything off, he leaned back against the rim of the bathtub, holding Keith close, both arms going around his ivory frame, founding wet warm skin. He then laid his forehead against the other’s shoulder, closing his eyes for a moment and enjoying the peaceful mood.
Neither of them knew how long it passed before Keith stirred slowly, forming little waves in the water. He turned around, splashing a bit till he was completely facing Lance, staring intently into blue eyes.
Lance smiled, amused to be the receiving end of such concentration and because of the fast thought that crossed his mind of how Keith looked like an actual wet kitten when dripping water. He was about to voice his thought, expecting some cute frown in return when two things happened in a fast succession.
First, Keith’s purple eyes drifted from his own eyes to his lips, an unplaceable emotion settling in them.
Second, said boy surged forward, grabbed his face with both of his hands and placed his lips on Lance’s. The action was over in the blink of an eye though, and Lance barely had enough time to acknowledge it was happening before it was over.
So he sat there, completely stunned into silence, with a gorgeous boy of violet eyes and burning red cheeks staring resolutely into his lap, in a full bathtub, with the faint scent of something like roses in the middle of the fog.
The situation was so adorable and ridiculous he couldn’t help but laugh.
And yeah, maybe looking back at it, Lance knew it was not the smartest move due to the fact that Keith had just, indirectly, laid down his feelings with a simple action (classic impulsive red paladin Keith) But honestly, no one could blame him.
Keith looked up, with surprise etched into his face because of the reaction of the other paladin, probably having expected something like hatred or disgust, only to find his longtime crush laughing… at him? He was not sure if he was the actual cause of Lance laughing, but it certainly didn't stop him from feeling honestly so, so confused.
Once the laughter died down, Lance took a few deep breaths before fixing his gaze in a frowning Keith with pink cheeks.
“Okay, okay, I’m so sorry. That was just the most adorable and funny thing I’ve ever seen you do”
Still frowning, Keith looked away, the pink in his cheeks intensifying.
“Can I… can I kiss you? Maybe for a little bit longer this time? Cause I’ve kinda been wanting to do that since the first time I saw you in the Garrison” And this time, when Keith looked back at Lance, it was only to see him scratching the back of his neck nervously, a red blush high on his cheekbones.
The red paladin only smiled, relieved, before scooting closer and nodding.
One warm hand found its way into his wet hair, while the other cupped his left cheek, which he leaned into, a thumb stroking over pale soft skin, before tugging him in the direction on a pair of thin soft lips.
Keith tasted like tears, cinnamon, and strawberries. His lips were a little chapped, but soft and tender against his. Lance angled his head a little, bringing both of his faces closer, lips moving in a slightly uncoordinated way. But it was fine, they would have time to catch up later.
Lance tasted like sea salt, green tea, and almonds.
When they parted, Lance kept both of their faces close, a smile wide enough to lit galaxies breaking into his tanned face. And Keith could only stare, still not believing this amazing, loving, perfect human being in front of him returned his feelings.
After a little while, the blue-eyed boy straightened himself, dropping a casual kiss in Keith’s forehead, as if he had been doing so for a long time, stretching before getting up and out of the tub. He grabbed a towel, dried himself quickly and efficiently, tied said thing around his waist and grabbed another one, extending it in front of his body and offering it to Keith.
“Come on, love, let’s get you dry and into something warm so we can eat something and then rest”
And even though Keith felt his face lit up in flames a the pet name, he obeyed and soon enough he was sitting in his bed, dressed in a pair of warm red pajamas, with Lance humming while finishing drying his hair with a towel.
After that, the blue paladin left to go into his room to get into a pair of his own pajamas and then grab some food from the kitchen. He came back to find Keith buried in blankets, only a pair of purple eyes visible under the layers of fabric.
“Well, someone’s cold” The amusement was clear in his voice tone.
The eyes blinked slowly, Keith’s head and upper body appearing later, his hair all fluffy and messed up. The red top sliding off his right shoulder, revealing the sharp shadow of a collarbone that Lance most definitely wanted to kiss and bite and leave a mark on later.
He strode into the room and handed the sleepy boy a bowl of the something Hunk had made for dinner, that was obviously delicious.
Keith all but wolfed down the food and finished the glass of water in a few gulps, soon settling into the cocoon of blankets he had made after handing back the plate.
Once he left the empty plate and glass in a side table, he climbed into the bed, not even bothering with asking if he could stay. He wiggled into the blankets, easily locating Keith’s warm body and wrapping him in his arms. He felt the boy snuggling into him, a cold nose finding it’s way into the crook of his neck, making him shiver.
It had been so long since he had had the chance to cuddle someone while being totally relaxed. And sure, maybe tomorrow they would be stressed out, flying off to free some random planet in the universe, but for now, having a mop of black hair tickling his chin and a pair of pale arms wrapped loosely around his waist was more than enough to make him feel high in endorphins.
He dropped a kiss into the crown of Keith’s head.
“Good night, love”
He felt a pair of lips pressing against the sensitive skin of his neck.
It didn't take long for any of them to fall asleep, warm and content in each other’s arms.