“Since someone decided to be a smartass and fail to follow simple instructions, you’ll all be spending the next three weekends in here running drills!” Commander Iverson, Lance’s instructor and his worst nightmare personified, spat at the class. The twelve year old’s eyes widened and he found himself wincing.
“Thanks a lot,” Lance heard a classmate, James, mutter sarcastically to the culprit, a kid named Keith. Earlier they had been put in a group to do a flight simulator together. Everything was going well until Keith went rogue. In the short time Lance has gotten to know Keith so far, he seemed very.... Closed off. It was weird because it contrasted from the reckless, overly confident, look-what-I-can-do attitude his fellow pilot had while leading their team earlier. Lance didn’t know much about the guy, honestly. Of course, there were rumors that he only got into the school because of the esteemed Galaxy Garrison legacy, Mr. Takashi Shirogane. Lance didn’t know what to think of that.
“My pleasure,” replied Keith, all smug. Who even was this guy?
“Who does he think he is?!” Lance whispered to his roommate, Hunk, flabbergasted, although his words were the only indicator of his acknowledgment of said roommate’s presence at the right of him. This was because the Cuban boy’s attention was trained at a certain dark-haired boy standing in the front row of their class. None other than Keith.
“I dunno, I mean, like, hear me out, I’m just going out on a limb here buuuut he probably thinks he’s Keith,” answered Hunk with a shrug, “you know, since that’s who he is.” Lance rolled his eyes before mumbling, “Yeah, whatever.”
“The only reason you’re here is because of Shiro,” James said to Keith, venom in his voice.
“I can outfly anyone in this building,” Keith countered matter-of-factly. How modest of him, thought Lance.
“Oh yeah? Is that what mommy and daddy told you before-” Keith punched James , knocking him to the ground before he could finish his sentence. Then next thing Lance knew, security guards were pulling Keith off of the jerk as he attempted to tackle him. Both boys were sent to the principal’s office.
Lance didn’t see Keith for a few days after that, but he heard they both got suspended. James for a day and Keith for three days. Lance sort of felt bad-- for Keith, not his bully. He was just defending himself. It wasn’t very fair, in Lance’s opinion, to give James a lighter sentence when he started the whole thing.
It was now the weekend, which normally Lance would be ecstatic about, but because of the stunt Keith pulled the other day, it was weekend number one of drills. On the bright side, Keith wasn’t suspended anymore. Once their class was done with the drills Iverson assigned, everyone rushed out of the room to try to get to the cafeteria on time for dinner with what little energy they could muster. On any other day this wouldn’t be something to worry about, but unfortunately the drills messed up the students’ schedules.
Everyone left- even Iverson- except Keith, Lance observed. He and Hunk stepped out of the training room but Lance suddenly stopped and turned around. Peering over his shoulder he noticed that Keith had decided to make himself at home on the floor of the room, his back against the wall and his knees brought to his chest.
“Hey, Hunk? You can go on without me,” he told his friend.
Hunk gave a confused look. “What? Why?”
“I’ll meet you there, don’t worry,” Lance assured him, “Save me a seat, will you?”
Hunk squinted his eyes suspiciously, but just shrugged and said, “Okay....”
“Hey, Keith, right?” Lance said while scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. He’s never talked to this boy outside of class before, oh my god what was he thinking? Was he thinking?
The Asian boy quirked an eyebrow. “Uh, yeah, and you’re... uhh... Taylor?”
Keith’s face visibly dropped at the knowledge that he got his name wrong, and for some reason Lance’s heart dropped with it.
“I- I mean- y-yeah, some people call me that,” Lance lied on impulse, chuckling nervously. “But my name’s actually Lance.”
Keith looked at him in disbelief. Damn it, he knows I’m making shit up. I should just tell him the truth, which is that never in my life has anyone called me that. He opens his mouth to explain just that but instead blurts, “I’m serious! They call me the tailor because of how I, uh, thread the um, the needle!”
“Anyway, I was just wondering-” Lance didn’t know what exactly his objective was here. “I- uh, do you wanna maybe sit with me and my friend at dinner?”
That one stumped him. He didn’t know what possessed him to suddenly want to befriend the prodigy of their class. There was just something about him....
“Do I need a reason?” Keith shrugged. “And I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to sit with me?” Lance joked, which surprisingly caused Keith’s lips to upturn a bit. Lance quite liked the foreign feeling that reaction gave him.
“I mean, I usually eat alone or with Shiro,” Keith replied, and Lance couldn’t believe he forgot Keith was close with his hero.
“Oh! Yeah, no, I understand,” Lance told him, and his face flushed a bright crimson. Of course he’d rather eat with someone familiar. “I wouldn’t wanna make you do something out of your comfort zone!”
Keith seemed to be lost in thought for a moment then conceded, “But I’m sure just this once should be okay...”
Lance’s eyes widened, and he grinned, and chose to ignore the his heart beating a mile a minute as he led Keith down the hall to the cafeteria.
“There you are! I was wondering what was taking you so lo--” Hunk cut himself off when he saw that his friend wasn’t alone. “Oh, hi, I’m Hunk!” He offered a hand, and Keith reluctantly indulged him in a handshake. “Keith,” the new addition to their table introduced himself. He seemed unsure where to sit, finally deciding to take a seat next to Lance across from Hunk.
“Oh, I know who you are,” Hunk swatted at the air dismissively and chuckled. “This guy never shuts up about you.” He gestured to Lance, who just gaped at him, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Is that true, Taylor?” Keith inquired teasingly.
Hunk brought his brows together in confusion. “Who’s Taylo-”
“Me, Hunk! People call me the Tailor because of how I thread the needle, remember?” Lance gave Hunk a pleading look, hoping his friend would play along.
Thankfully Hunk, bless his heart, seemed to take the hint. “Ohhh... right, yeah! How could I forget? So Keith. You’re the top of the class, right? That is so. Cool!”
Keith shrugged nonchalantly. “I guess.”
“You guess? What? That’s something to be proud of! I mean, you’re not that much better than me, since I’m, like, basically in the top five of our class. So like, you and me are pretty much neck and neck. Still, you are super talented. Talented enough to be able to show off in the flight simulator so that’s pretty fucking cool, dude. Like, I mean, you were doing things no one on our team could do, and I bet most of the people attending this school can do it either. Like, what the hell, man?” Lance shut himself up before he continued his rant. His response was already embarrassingly longer than he planned.
Hunk gave him a blank look, and Lance turned to face anywhere but his direction. He did not need his friend’s judgment right now.
“A-anyway, those drills Iverson made us do were absolute hell, am I right?” Lance said while trying to change the subject. He gave Keith a playful nudge with his elbow.
“Ugh, I know. I’m gonna be sore all night,” Hunk whined. Keith winced. Lance suspected he felt bad since he was the reason they all had to do extra training in the first place.
“Hey, it’s not your fault- okay, yeah, it is, but-” Lance started, but Keith ignored him and instead got up out of his seat. “Wait, where are you going?”
“I just remembered Shiro wanted to talk to me about something.” Lance exchanged a look with Hunk. He didn’t seem to buy it either, but neither of them felt the need to press further. “It was nice hanging out with you guys. I’ll see you around, Hunk and Taylor.” Lance nodded, smiling, but really that name made him wish he could go back to earlier and slap himself in the face for his inability to shut up.
“So....” Hunk started when they got back to their dorm room. “Since when are you and Keith buddies? And why does he keep calling you Taylor?”
Lance flopped onto his bunk. He claimed the top bunk not just because Hunk seemed to be the person to prefer the other one, but also because back at home he shared a room with his younger brother Luis, who preferred the bottom bunk because it was easier to get out of bed whenever he had nightmares. When they were younger, Luis would go to their parents’ room for help with the nightmares but as they got older Lance somehow became the one comforting his brother and calming him down. Instead of Luis going to their mom and dad it was Lance joining his brother in his bed. Over time the nightmares became less frequent, but their sleeping arrangement never changed. Once Lance moved into this room at the Garrison, he immediately gravitated to the top bunk out of habit.
“We’re not! I was just trying to be nice because I saw him all by himself and I felt bad,” Lance tried to explain.
“It’s true but go off.”
“Okay but what’s with the Taylore thing? Your name’s Lance.”
Lance rolled his eyes. “I know what my name is.”
“Then why doesn’t Keith?”
“He does! I told him my name was Lance when he got my name wrong the first time. He called me Taylor by mistake for some reason.” Wow, this did not sound better recapped out loud like this.
“I... may or may not have, um. ToldhimTheTailorisanickname,” said Lance, sheepish. Hunk burst out in a fit of laughter.
Lance groaned. “Stop laughing!” He threw a pillow at Hunk. “Ugh, why did I say that? Lance shut up challenge failed immediately.” He covered his face with his hands in embarrassment. “Anyway, can we pretend today didn’t exist? Thanks goodnight.”
Hunk chuckled. “Alright, alright, goodnight, Taylor.”
It was weekend two out of three drill days Iverson assigned, and Lance could practically hear his body yelling at him for the pain it’s about to endure. Wait, no. He wasn’t imagining things; he really could hear something as he walked down the hall. What was that noise? Humming? It sounded like it was coming from... huh. Keith. He was walking a little bit ahead of him, his arms swinging a bit and he was humming. Lance would never say this out loud, but the sight was kinda cute. But don’t tell anyone he thought that.
“Keith! Hey!” The black haired boy turned around, obviously caught off guard.
“Oh! Hey, Taylor!”
Lance hid his annoyance of that name with a laugh. “I prefer Lance, just so you know.”
“Oh, right. That’s your actual name...”
Lance was surprised. “You remember that?”
Keith’s face became a fiery red. “W-well, it is the first thing you ever said to me.... Anyway, you ready to die of exhaustion again today?”
“Oh, yeah, totally,” said Lance. Then he got an idea. “Hey Keith?”
“Wanna race to the training room?”
Keith smirked. “You’re on!”
“Ha,” Keith said triumphantly. “I won!”
“Pfft,” Lance replied in between panting. “As if!”
“Was that a Clueless reference?”
Lance raised an eyebrow, clearly impressed. “You’ve seen Clueless?”
Keith raised his hands as a surrendering gesture. “ I mean it’s not my favorite movie ever but romantic comedies can be really good.... And also Shiro was watching it with his boyfriend the other day. so.”
It was no surprise that Shiro was gay. In fact one of the reasons he was so well known, aside from all the records he’d broken, was that he was one of the first openly gay commanders there who were also Galaxy Garrison alumni. Of course this was years ago, but Lance knew the story- everyone did- of Shiro and Adam. They were high school sweethearts. The jock and the valedictorian of their year. It warmed Lance’s heart to hear that they were still together. And the fact that Shiro was so unapologetically unafraid to be himself was one of his many attributes that he admired.
“Yeah, it’s not my favorite movie, either, and you’re not wrong about the rom com thing. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. You didn’t win because you cheated,” Lance accused.
“How did I cheat?”
“You tell me, cheater,” he rebutted.
However soon their playful banter was interrupted.
“Oh, hey, Keith! You still living with your gay dads being all gay and weird together? Are they anything like your real dad? Oh wait. Sorry,” A voice Keith hated called out with a laugh when he and Lance stepped into the room. James.
“Fuck off, James,” Keith scowled. Lance saw him about to form a fist with his hand, so he placed his on top of Keith’s to stop him. It’s not worth it, Lance tried to convey to him. Keith took a deep breath but nodded.
A few minutes later Iverson was blowing his whistle. “Alright, cadets, here’s what you’ll be doing today...”
Back at the dorm, Lance sighed. “Can James just leave Keith alone? First the whole ordeal from last week and now this today? And what kind of insult is that, anyway? Using ‘gay’ as an insult is getting kinda old. Also is it necessary for him to bring up the fact that Keith is an orphan every chance he gets?”
Hunk nodded in agreement. “Yeah, he’s a real asshole.”
“I’m just glad Keith held back from punching him again. He does not need another suspension.”
Hunk smirked. “Why, you’ll miss him too much?”
Lance spluttered. “W-what’s that supposed to mean?”
“I’m just saying you two seem to be getting awfully close...”
“No, we haven’t!” Lance denied with a sneer.
“You literally arrived to training together, chose him as your partner whenever Iverson told us to get into groups of two during the drills- thanks for that by the way, and asked him to join us when there needed to be groups of three,” Hunk deadpanned.
“Welp. You got me there, I suppose. And I’m sorry about that, by the way.”
“Don’t sweat it, you wanna spend time with your crush, I get it,” Hunk reassured him.
“Yeah exactly, thanks for understa- hey, wait a minute, what?” Lance nearly choked. “I do NOT have a crush on Keith!!”
“Denial is the second stage.”
“Oh my god, stop,” Lance groaned in annoyance. “Wait. second?”
“I said what I said.”
Lance squinted his eyes, admittedly curious now. “Now I’m not saying I have a c-r-u-s-h on Keith, but what was stage one?” His heart was pounding like a drum now. Please shut up before Hunk hears you, he silently prayed.
“Stage one is observation.”
Observation. Hm. Lance supposed he did tend to observe Keith a lot. Even before they started talking recently, that boy always seemed to catch his eye. But that doesn’t mean anything... right?
Hunk yawned. “I’m goin to bed, goodnight.”
“Night, buddy,” said Lance although he couldn’t sleep so he just stared at the white ceiling thinking about everything and nothing until he finally drifted into a deep slumber.
“Cadets, you did... well these past few weekends,” Iverson complimented when the class finished their drills on the third and final weekend though it sounded forced. He let out a resigned sigh. “I’m only ever saying this once but I’m proud of you.”
The whole class’ jaws dropped to the floor. That was the nicest thing he’d ever said to them, ever. Their teacher just rolled his eyes, “Yes, I can be nice when I want to. But don’t push it and don’t get used to it.” Students, Lance included, started to head out of the training room when Iverson blew his whistle harshly. “Hey!” He snapped, “I wasn’t done talking to you all.” Lance had to physically hold back a groan. What more did this guy want from him?
“As I was saying, just a reminder that starting this week we will be preparing for your upcoming final placement test. This will determine who your teams and positions will be for next semester. You may recall doing this at the end of last semester, so this should be nothing new. Who knows, maybe some of you will end up with some of your current teammates. If you do really well, you could get promoted. Now isn’t that a lovely thought.” His eyes scanned the room before announcing, “Dismissed.”
Oh shit. Lance totally forgot about that. He nudged Keith lightly, “Keith how cool would it be if we were in the same group again next semester? I mean, not to toot our own horns but I think we’ve been working pretty well together. I’d say we make a good team, don’t you think?” Then Lance gave finger guns because why not.
Keith gave him a small smile. “Oh, yeah, totally. Our whole team are decent pilots.” That wasn’t really what Lance meant when he said that but he didn’t disagree. “It’s especially gotten better ever since I had to ask to have James moved to a different team.” Just hearing Keith say that he did that made Lance feel a sense of pride. Keith wasn’t the most outgoing, so he knew how hard it must have been for him to ask Iverson something big like that.
“I mean you’re not wrong,” Lance laughed. Then he thought of something. “Hey Keith?”
“You have any plans tonight?”
“I mean I was just planning on heading home...” The black haired boy shrugged,
Lance rose a brow. “Home?”
Keith gave an incredulous look, his eyebrows knit together. “Have I never mentioned to you that I live in Shiro and Adam’s apartment across the street from this school?”
Lance whistled, “Damn, lucky you get to actually leave this hellhole every day. Meanwhile I’m stuck in the dorms on campus.”
“Oh, really? How far away do you live that you have to pay all that extra money to live here?” Keith asked curiously. “A few hours? Out of state? Across the country?”
Keith choked on the water took a swig of, eyes widening. “What the hell are you doing in the States then?”
Lance simply shrugged. “This is one of the best flight schools in the world and I, like, really want to become a pilot, so.”
“Wait why did you ask if I had any plans tonight?”
Lance didn’t know how to answer that. “J-just wondering...”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this but do you, maybe, want to, uh, come over?”
Lance couldn’t believe his ears. Keith fucking kogane...was inviting him, Lance McClain... to his home? “What parallel universe is this?”
Keith was taken aback. “You believe in parallel universes?”
Lance swatted at the air. “Of course, who doesn’t? Now repeat the first question, I’m not sure I heard you correctly.”
“Would you possibly want to hang out at my place?” Keith scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. “I mean, it’s only fair since you let me eat with you that one time.”
“You, sir,” Lance pointed at the other boy, “make an excellent point. Let me go find Hunk and tell him where I’ll be going so he doesn’t worry about me too much.” Besides, Lance only knew School Keith. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t curious about what Out Of School Keith was like. Was he more sociable at home since it was a familiar environment? Was he more laid back? Thinking back to the humming he heard Keith do the other day, he figured it was definitely a possibility and he couldn’t wait to find out if his suspicions were true.
“Shiro. Adam. I’m home!” Keith called out as the two of them stepped inside the apartment.
“Okay, dinner’s almost ready!” A voice informed from the kitchen. It didn’t sound like Shiro, so Lance guessed that was his boyfriend.
Then in came in from some other room, a man Lance had only admired from afar. Shiro. “Y-you’re T-takashi S-shirogane!” Lance stuttered. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir!”
Shiro chuckled. “Nice to meet you, too, kid.” He turned to Keith. “You didn’t tell us you brought a guest over!” He chided.
“A guest?!” Adam sounded exasperated. “Honey, can you come over here and tell me if you think this is enough food for, uh, what’s his name, dear?” He shouted from the kitchen.
Shiro raised an eyebrow, like, Well? You got a name? “Oh, it’s Lance, sirs!”
Shiro nodded. “Name’s Lance, sweetie,” He shouted to his boyfriend while walking toward the kitchen.
Lance turned to Keith. “So whatcha got planned, my frand?”
Keith snorted. “Please never say that again. And uhh, I’d offer to hang out in my room but there’s honestly nothing interesting there.” I doubt that’s true. It belongs to you, and that fact alone makes it interesting. “We have a huge ass TV that needs to be put to use, how’s that sound?”
Lance smiled excitedly. “Lead the way.”
Once they made it to the lounge area, Keith gestured to the couch and loveseats and whatnot scattered all over the room. “Make yourself at home.”
“Say no more.” Lance chose a seat on some kind of recliner because of course he would. He turned the lever on the side, elevating the lower half of the chair so that he could prop his feet up.
“Okay, so we kinda have limited choices for movies, but these are all pretty much classics.”
“Oohh lemme see! Can I pick the movie?”
“You better pick something good,” Keith joked. “Or else.”
Lance got up from his seat making his way over to Keith. “Hm? Or else what?” He asked, peering over Keith’s shoulder from behind him, making him jump out of his skin. “J-just or else. I dunno yet.”
Lance’s eyes scanned the selection of movies in Keith’s cabinets. Now the whole Clueless incident wasn’t that surprising. There were so many romantic comedies and teenage movies in here. Wait, not just rom coms, but also some musicals? Lance felt like he was in heaven. “Keith Kogane, you are so goddamn valid,” Lance mumbled under his breath.
“Oh, I said you like musicals?”
Keith blushed. “Y-yeah, don’t judge me. It’s fun to sing along, okay?”
“You know what, fuck the movie; let’s do some karaoke instead.” Lance suggested, then realized one small detail. “Wait. Do you even have a karaoke machine?”
Lance nodded, “Okay. Okay, that’s fine. Let’s sing together anyway.”
Keith’s eyes were wide. “Wh- but there’s no music.”
“That’s why God created Acapella.” Lance said in a ‘duh’ tone. “To quote the Bible,
Then God said, ‘And let there be acapella.’”
Keith snorted, shaking his head in disbelief.
“What? It’s true. I was there!”
“Oh, really, now?” Keith teased.
“Yes, scouts’ honor,” Lance said and winked. He picked up the TV remote and held it in front of his mouth like a mock microphone. Pointing at the other boy, he demanded, “Are you ready?!”
Keith looked unsure. He sat down on the polyester couch. “I- I dunno anymore, actually. This is probably a stupid idea. We’ll probably look ridiculous...”
Lance placed a hand on his hip. “Oh, c’mon, it’ll be fun! How about I start?” Keith shrugged. “Um sure..”
“You are....My fire,” Lance started dramatically, reaching his hand outward to Keith. “The one,” He held up his index finger at that part, “desiiireee!” Keith rolled his eyes but smiled. “Believe....when I say. I.... want... it.. that... way!”
“You are such a dork, oh my god,” Keith laughed as Lance continued covering the Backstreet Boys.
When Lance was done singing I Want It That Way, he did jazz hands and Keith couldn’t help but applaud him. Lance looked good like this. This meaning happy and just being himself. If Lance hadn’t already been set on becoming a pilot, Keith reckoned the boy could be a performer.
“And now for my next song... a duet!” Then he gave a “Woop!”, cupping his hands around his mouth to imitate a crowd cheering. Lance took a breath before he started, moving his fingers in the air as if playing the piano. “Do do do do do do-”
“What are you doing?”
“Playing the piano, duh! Can you tell what song this is?” He repeated what he did about a minute ago. Keith listened carefully. “Uh.. it’s that one High School Musical song, right?”
Lance nodded enthusiastically. “You bet your ass it is!” He took a seat next to Keith on the couch, turning to face Keith. He brought his fake microphone back up to his mouth and started singing, “We’re soaring, flying. There’s not a star in heaven that we can’t reach...”
Keith shied away from him. Lance thought he heard him mumble something along the lines of “I’m not sure I remember the lyrics..” Lance touched his shoulder gently to get him to face him. When he finally did, Lance gave him an encouraging nod. Surprisingly he got the lyrics right: “If we’re trying, yeah we’re breaking free..” Damn, this boy had vocals. Oof, that’s hot.
Now it was Lance’s turn again. “You know the world can see us. In a way that’s different than who we are..”
Keith smiled and sang more confidently this time, “Creating space between us, till we’re separate hearts...” Following the song’s lyrics, Keith gradually moved away from Lance on the couch as he sang.
“But your faith it give me strength, strength to believe.... We’re breaking free!” They belted together, practically yelling. Both doubled over in laughter yet somehow continued the song. They got up from the couch. “We’re soaring!” Keith yelled at the top of his lungs. “Flying!” Lance sang, putting his arms out on each side of his body to imitate the wings of an airplane flying. Keith erupted into a fit of giggles, and honestly, who needed actual music when Keith giggling existed?
They started dancing around the room as the song went on, twirling each other and just having a good time. When the song ended, somehow they both ended up collapsed on the floor, tangled up in each other from the twirling and spinning they did while dancing. Lance had no idea it was possible for people to laugh in sync, but he and Keith managed to make it happen. Lance had the biggest grin on his face, and although he couldn’t exactly see Keith’s face from his position under him in a mini dogpile, he liked to think Keith wore a similar smile. He wanted to live in this moment forever. This was ecstacy, and he didn’t want it to end.
However, like all good things, it did.
Just then Shiro poked his head into the room. “The hell is going on in here?” He asked the two preteens, crossing his arms over his chest.
Shiro just laughed. “I’m just messin with ya.”
Adam suddenly appears from behind his boyfriend. “Don’t mean to ruin your fun, but dinner’s ready.”
Lance’s eyes widened. “O-oh! I should probably get going, then-”
Shiro looked offended. “Nonsense! Join us for dinner!”
“A-are you sure? I wouldn’t want to intrude...”
“Oh, but you wouldn’t be! We insist, right, Keith?” Adam interjected.
“Y-yeah...” Keith said awkwardly.
Tonight’s dinner was pasta and salad. In between bites he complimented, “Mmm, this is delicious. It almost puts Hunk’s cooking to shame.”
“You’re too sweet, aw, thank you, Lance,” Adam said appreciatively.
“Who’s Hunk?” Shiro asked.
“My friend-slash-roommate. He just started learning how to cook, but I swear, his chocolate chip cookies are the best,” Lance explained enthusiastically.
Shiro chuckled. “He sounds like a good kid. I’d love to meet him.”
“So, Lance, how do you know Keith?” Adam questioned.
“Oh, we’re in the same class,” answered Keith.
“You know, that’s how Adam and I met,” Shiro sighed dreamily as if pulled into a reverie. Lance had to hold himself back from verbally “aww”ing.
“Well, it was nice meeting you, Lance,” Shiro said.
“Ditto. Thanks for having me!”
Keith volunteered to walk Lance back to the Garrison because although it was only a few minutes away, it was still dark and who knows what could be out there? Aliens?
“You believe in aliens?” Lance asked Keith as they walked. Somehow they ended up holding hands, although no one questioned it in fear of making things awkward if either of them addressed it.
“Uh, kinda. I just think it’s really self-centered to believe that Earth is the only planet in the universe with sentient life, y’know? Plus, I just have this feeling.”
Lance considered it then nodded. “That’s fair. Yeah, I think aliens are real too.” Then Lance gasped. “Oh my god, Keith, imagine if we’ve already seen aliens here on Earth but they’re just not the typical aliens we see in movies and shit? Like what if they look more human than we thought?”
Keith laughed. “I mean, there’s no way to know for sure, so I guess it’s possible?”
“Holy shit, Keith, are you an alien?” Lance joked.
“I think I would know if I was an a-”
“Because your ass is out of this world!” Lance winked even though he couldn’t see his face in the dark.
Keith groaned. “Seriously?”
They made it to Lance’s dorm shortly, and they said their goodbyes. Lance stepped inside, sighing as he pressed his back to the door behind him. He thought back to Keith’s smile so beautiful it might as well be hung in the louvre. He thought about Keith’s laugh, which was music to his ears. He thought about how surprisingly well Keith sang. He wanted to set his voice as his ringtone. His mind was just full of keithkeithkeithkeith.
Lance’s eyes widened as he came to a realization. “Hey, Hunk? You awake?” He whispered.
He watched as the Samoan shifted in his bed to turn to the direction of Lance’s voice. Groggily he said, “Yeah?”
“What’s stage three of having a crush?”
The other boy yawned, answering, “Acceptance.”
The weekend was over, which meant that training for that big test Iverson mentioned the other day has now begun. Lance had a plan: He would train hard and do some extra practicing on the side every other day, if not every day. He needed to do well. This test would determine whether or not he’ll get promoted to fighter pilot, and there was nothing in this world that would stop him from achieving this goal.
One day Lance saw Keith on the way to class. “Hey, would you maybe wanna go running with me sometime this week like after school?”
Keith just kept walking past him. Lance furrowed his eyebrows. “Uh, hello?”
Keith brushed him off again.
Okay, ouch. He wasn’t sure if it hurt because he was his crush or because he thought Keith had become his friend and were getting closer, but this really hurt. “What is your problem? Did I do something?”
Keith sighed. He turned around, scanning the area around him before dragging him into a janitor’s closet. Lance’s heart pounded in his chest. He’d seen enough movies and shows to know what was coming. He closed his eyes in preparation.
“I had a lot of fun on Saturday and getting to know you and stuff, it’s just...It might be better if you just forget about it, about me.” Wait, what?
“Excuse me?” Lance demanded.
“I think I want to run away.”
Keith sighed. “I overheard a conversation between Shiro and Adam.”
Lance quirked an eyebrow. “Okay, and?”
“I’m sure you’ve heard of the big Kerberos mission, right?”
Lance didn’t understand how any of this correlated but he indulged him anyway. “Of course, who hasn’t?”
Keith ran a hand through his hair. “Well...apparently Shiro was recommended to go up there, along with Mr. Holt and his son, Matt. Which is fucking terrible.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not following. Isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t you be celebrating? That’s an amazing honor!”
Keith groaned in frustration. “Ugh, you don’t get it, Lance! No one knows this but Shiro is sick. He and Adam were arguing because Shiro really wants to go but I guess Adam is afraid of what might happen to him if he went up there. Which is valid, but I dunno.”
“Yeah, and if Shiro goes on the mission, I don’t know what I’ll do,” Keith said. “Without Shiro, there’d be nothing for me here.” Nothing? Lance tried not to let it show how much those felt like a punch in the gut.
Lance shook his head. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What about Adam?” What about me? He wanted to say.
Keith had a guilty expression on his face. “I mean... I care about him, but Shiro is practically my brother. Plus the only thing Adam and I have in common is Shiro. Without him... nothing.”
Lance didn’t bother arguing this further. Keith seemed to have made up his mind. “When?”
Lance looked at him as if to say ‘are you kidding me?’ “When are you planning on leaving?”
Keith shrugged. “They leave for the Kerberos mission tomorrow so.. Maybe like right after that?”
Lance said nothing, just turned to walk out the door. As he trained that day, he had one thought and one thought only: He had to get over this crush on Keith, fast.
From that day on, he started flirting with every person with two legs in his age group he could find (mostly girls-- every boy just ended up reminding him of Keith eventually). When Hunk or anyone asked him where Keith went and why he disappeared so suddenly, because apparently he was the closest with him, He would simply shrug nonchalantly. “How should I know?” He’d say. He even went as far as to try to convince everyone that he and Keith weren’t friends. “My relationship with Keith has always been a healthy rivalry. I don’t know where you’re getting your information from but it’s inaccurate,” He told them. He repeated this so much he wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince more, everyone else or himself?
He knew suppressing feelings wasn’t healthy, but this was just a harmless crush, right? Of course, it was-- what else would this be?
Then why did a piece of his heart shatter when he saw that Keith’s name wasn’t on the roster anymore when the next semester started up a few months later? He’d gotten promoted to fighter class, like he wanted, but deep down something just did not feel right. Oh well. It wasn’t like he’d ever see him again. Lance didn’t miss Keith (or at least that’s what he told himself and everyone else), but if he did there was no way of finding him, so it was pointless to dwell on what could’ve been.