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Everything's So Quiet Now

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"Shiro, I swear to god if I find any more of your dirty socks stacked under my bed I'll end you."

Keith groaned as Shiro's laughter filled the room.

"But Mr. Grumpy, you're sooo fun to tease."

"Yeah, let's see if you can still say the same thing when I reveal all your dirty secrets to your boyfriend."

"You wouldn't."

"Oh I would. Just watch me."

Keith snickered, thumb hovering over the call button next to Adam's name.

"Okay! Okay! You win, I won't stack any more dirty socks under your bed, I promise!"

"Now there's a good boy. I'm leaving for school now, I'll be back by 6. Either go get a room with Adam or send him home before I'm back. I don't want to see you guys sucking each other's faces again. Once was traumatizing enough. Bye!"

Keith grabbed his bag and exited the house, leaving a gaping Shiro behind.

It was a normal morning in the Kogane-Shirogane household. Most people confused them as brothers, thus, earning the duo the nickname 'Broganes.' But they weren't, they were just best friends since they were both little kids. Maybe that counted for something.

Keith shrugged to himself as he passed by the university Shiro worked at, to his own school. According to Shiro, high school was fun. Although he never pegged his best friend for the lying type, he wasn't having fun. Not in the slightest. If he was a little bit more like Shiro, maybe he would've had fun but no, he was just an antisocial kid. His understanding of fun clashed greatly with Shiro's.

He sighed as he walked down the worn down school corridors to his locker, observing other people. He never really had other friends besides Shiro, -also Adam as an addition- he liked to be the 'lone wolf', as Adam had said once. Not that anyone wanted to be friends with him or anything. He liked solitude, and the silence that came with it. It was peaceful. It was for the better. Better than people constantly leaving.

He took his history and maths books out of his locker and stuffed them in his bag, and noticed that there were fewer people in the hallways than the usual. He checked the giant clock at the end of the corridor with the corner of his eye. He was early. He swung his bag over his shoulder with a nonchalant shrug and headed to his class. One of his favourite seats was empty, so he sat down without much thought.

He flipped through his history notebook until he found an empty page and started doodling on the page. It was just meaningless lines, but it comforted him all the same. Sure, he liked normal drawings but doodling always made him feel calmer. He dragged the pencil along the paper aimlessly, unaware of the things happening around him.

Of course, that was until someone dropped their backpack on the table and sat next to him.

"Hey mullet boy, what kind of drawings are those? Do you suck that much at it?"

Oh. Of course. That lousy McClain. Who else could it be?

"Go away Lance. I don't have time for your stupid insults."

"Bet I could draw better than you."

Why did he have to turn everything into a competition when all Keith wanted was some silence? Keith sighed. He knew Lance would keep taunting him until he got the competition he wanted.

"Okay, Lance. Do your best. Bring it to art class and we'll let your friends compare them. Happy?"

"Very. Get ready to be crushed, Kogane."

Keith opened his mouth to tell Lance to go sit somewhere else, but he noticed that most of the seats were taken, and the empty ones were at the front of the class. No wonder Lance sat next to him. He shrugged and ripped his doodling page from the notebook. Knowing their history teacher, they'd have to write a lot. He crumpled the piece of paper and tucked it in his bag, just in time for Mrs. Dahlia to enter the clasroom. He groaned inwardly. He hated history.

★★★

Thinking back, Keith never met Lance formally. Sometimes, Keith would see his name under his in the exam result papers, and sometimes he'd see him in the hallways, always trying to woo a girl. Usually failing. And the next thing he knew, Lance declared them rivals in the hallways, voice so loud that the entire school would've heard it. Keith really wondered what he did to make Lance hate him that much, considering that they'd never met before.

"Hey Keith. What are you drawing? Who is this?"

Adam approached him, as he was erasing the rough sketch lines.

"Huh?"

Keith took a step back to look at his drawing. Why... did he draw Lance with a flower crown?

".... No one. Where's Shiro?"

Adam gave him a puzzled look, but didn't press it further.

"In the bathroom."

"Do I wanna know what he is doing?"

"Probably not."

Adam bashfully chuckled as Keith groaned loudly.

"Are you guys fucking? Are you serious?? Right in front of my salad?!"

"Oh my god Keith please stop."

Keith gave a lopsided grin as he closed his sketch book and got up.

"I hope you guys changed the sheets..."

"KEITH!"

"Bye Adam!"

He slipped his red hippo slippers on his feet and slowly padded to his room. Once he was safely away from his friends' prying eyes, he reopened his sketch book. He could've given Lance one of his old drawings, why did he went through the trouble to draw another one? A one with Lance with a flower crown at that?

He sighed as he ripped the page and attached it to his clipboard. He looked through the countless pinboards that adorned the walls for a decent enough drawing. His eyes fell to the one with two people kissing as they melted away. His followers on Tumblr seemed to like that the best.

Oh right. His Tumblr account, blackoid, gained a lot of followers ever since he started posting his drawings. He could always ask them. Also, he could post today's drawing with it. He hadn't posted in a while. It's not like any of his followers would know it was him in real life. He took great care to remain anonymous.

He reached to his phone, captured a clear shot and posted it with the caption "In a competition with a friend. Drew this for it but couldn't be sure. Pick the drawing you want me to show him and send it to me please? Urgent!!"

And now, the only thing he could do was to wait for his followers to reply.

★★★

Apparently, when Keith thought anyone who knew him personally didn't follow his blog, he was dead wrong.

"Pidge!! Why is there a drawing of me with a flower crown in blackoid's blog?? What did I do to deserve this blessing??"

"How should I know Lance? Oh look Keith is here, go bother him."

Well, there goes his anonymous identity as blackoid. You see, the flaw in this plan was the fact that his followers chose Lance's drawing for him to show Lance. The one he's currently looking at.

"Oh, mullet! Ready to lose to me once more??"

"Yeah Lance, sure."

Lance pulled out a kinda crumpled paper from his backpack, and handed it to him. And it was... Well, something. It wasn't as bad as Keith expected it to be, but it could use some work on it.

"Is this... Supposed to be me?"

"Duh. Be thankful that I drew you way more handsome than you actually are. Let's see yours."

Keith bit his lip. Should he, really? Well. Too late for that now. He shoved his clipboard in Lance's waiting hands.

"Keith? You were supposed to draw it yourself, not steal it!"

"Uh. I didn't. You know, steal it."

"... What? Pidge??!"

Lance screeched, shoving the clipboard under Pidge's nose.

"Oh yeah, Keith totally won that one."

"No, not that! It's the same one in blackoid's blog!"

"Uhh yeah?"

"Aren't you surprised??"

"No, Lance. If you paid a little more attention to what everybody's drawing in art class instead of trying to pick girls up, you would've noticed that it's Keith's art style? And that you'd totally lose a drawing competition with him? Or maybe not, considering how much of a doofus you are. Anyhow, Keith totally crushed you with this one."

"..... Dude. Can I keep this?"

Keith looked between Lance and the drawing, finally setting his eyes on the clipboard.

"Sure. I've got no use for it anyways. But I have to take the clipboard back."

Lance plucked the drawing from the clipboard, but didn't immediately give it back. His eyes were fixated on it.

"Hey, can I look at the rest?"

It was just at that moment that their art teacher came in.

Keith snatched the clipboard from his hand with quick reflexes and settled in his seat.

"Maybe later."

★★★

"Hey Keith?"

Keith whipped around, only to see the Samoan boy who always hung out with Lance. Hunk, was it?

"Yeah?"

"Would you like to sit with us for lunch? I mean Lance, Pidge and me. Lance keeps talking about it but he's too caught up in his head about that rivalry shit to actually invite you. But I promise he's a good kid. Plus both me and Pidge will owe you big time if you do."

Hunk looked like he was about to cry, it was evident that he had had enough.

"Uhh... Sure?"

"Great! Follow me!"

Hunk happily chirped, leading Keith to the trio's table.

"Oh, mullet boy! Did you invite him Hunk?"

"Yes Lance, I did."

"Not that Lance asked him to..."

Keith heard Pidge mumble as she snickered.

"Pidge!"

Keith sighed as he locked eyes with Hunk. He looked apologetic as he gave Keith a forced smile.

"Anyways, Keith, how long have you been drawing? I heard about the incident this morning."

"Uhh... Ever since Shiro took me to an art exhibition I guess?"

"Wait?? Shiro?? That legendary Takashi Shirogane?"

Lance piped in. Oh right. Keith had forgotten that Shiro was still a little bit too popular in his old school.

"Yeah? That's him. He stacks his dirty socks under my bed."

"YOU'RE ROOMMATES?? KEITH YOU GOTTA MAKE US MEET SOMEWHERE!"

Keith blinked, definitely not expecting the sudden raise in his voice. Especially to what he just revealed about his best friend and roommate. He fiddled with the straps of his bags.

"I'll tell him?"

★★★

Shiro, the kind soul he is, accepted Lance's request to meet in a cafe.

"Why couldn't you say no like a normal person would and hang out with your boyfriend instead? And why do I have to tag along?"

"They're your friends, Keith. And you get angry when we do the do with Adam on the couch."

"Because that's the fucking couch Shiro. I watch television on it."

"..... Fucking couch."

"SHIRO!"

Keith screeched as he pinched Shiro's arm.

"Okay! Okay! I'm sorry!"

"Keith?"

Keith quickly let go of Shiro's arm to turn to the owner of the voice. It was the Samoan boy, Hunk. Dragging a very lovestruck looking Lance along. Pidge was standing a few meters behind them, shaking her head like a madman.

Keith lifted his hand to let them know where they were sitting, but Shiro was faster.

Lance bolted out of Hunk's grip in lightning speed, and soon was seated on the opposite of the seat Keith was sitting.

"H-hey, I'm Lance. You're my idol!"

Shiro only chuckled at Lance's lackluster attempt to be cool, and extended his hand for Lance to shake. Lance did so, eagerly.

"I know. Keith told me. You guys can just call me Shiro. Oh, hey Katie."

Pidge and Hunk arrived at the table at that moment, and they sat down as soon as they arrived.

"Hey Shiro. I use Pidge now."

"Oh right. Sorry. Matt always calls you Katie, and it sticked."

Shiro sheepishly grinned as he apologized. So, Pidge was Matt's sister. Keith knew that she somehow looked familiar...

"You guys know each other too?? Pidge?? I feel betrayed!"

"Jeez, calm your tits Lance. My brother and Shiro work in the same university, and we occasionally see each other in business dinners."

"Anyways, enough of that. I want to listen to whatever advice the great Takashi Shirogane has for me for high school!"

★★★

They ended up exchanging numbers at the end of the day, many thanks to Shiro.

"I'm helping you make friends!"

He had said.

Keith didn't need friends. Especially not ones like Lance. Pidge was actually fun, Hunk was kind but Lance... Just no. Why would Keith want to be friends with someone who hates him? Plus why would Lance want to be friends with him?

He sighed as he pulled his phone out to check his blog. He had shared one more drawing of a seashell after that Lance drawing, and saw that Lance was indeed following him and liked all of his drawings. Not that he had actually checked through 10000+ followers to find his account.

Just as he was about to set his phone down to yell at Shiro for dinner, his phone started vibrating furiously. Somebody was texting him intensely.

"What the fuck Shiro? Why are you texting me? Also, dinner! We agreed on pizza, when's Adam coming??"

Keith yelled, swiping on the screen to see that the sender of his texts, in fact, wasn't Shiro. It was Lance?

"What the fuck to you Keith! Why would I even text you when I can yell at your grumpy ass?"

Came Shiro's reply.

"Shut up".

Keith grumbled as he proceeded to open the texts.

(07:32 P.M.) lanceylance : [ Image Sent ]

(07:32 P.M.) lanceylance : KEITH WTF

(07:33 P.M.) lanceylance : MY MOM FRAMED YOUR DRAWING OF ME TO HANG IT ON THE WALL

(07:33 P.M.) lanceylance : SHE'S ASKING FOR A FAMILY PICTURE

(07:33 P.M.) lanceylance : SHE EVEN SAID IF IT'S NOT TOO MUCH OF A TROUBLE

(07:34 P.M.) lanceylance : I'M SHOOK TO MY CORE AHXLACJAKZHD

(07:35 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : What the fuck, Lance.

(07:36 P.M.) lanceylance : EXACTLY KEITH, EXACTLY

(07:37 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Why are you even telling me this?

(07:37 P.M.) lanceylance : Uh, she might have asked me to, you know, ask you about it. She's a sucker for drawings like this, and she said "Your friend sounds really cool, would he draw our family? We could treat him dinner?"

(07:38 P.M.) lanceylance : So, you're actually invited to dinner. Sometime.

(07:39 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : That's rich coming from someone who hates me with a burning passion. I'll see what I can do. I won't pass up an opportunity for free dinner.

(07:40 P.M.) lanceylance : You wound me mullet boy! Also, like, uh. Thanks for indulging my mom. Sorry about that too.

(07:40 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : It's ok. Send me a picture, I'll try to fit it into my schedule.

(07:41 P.M.) lanceylance : Cool!

★★★

(01:22 A.M.) lanceylance : [Image Sent]

★★★

Keith groaned as he threw the blue marker on the wall. Why was he paying so much attention to Lance's family drawing anyways?? And why did he even jumped into that colouring wagon?? Too much pressure, damn it. It didn't help that Shiro teased him to no end too.

"Keeeith? Still working on that drawing?"

Ah, speak of the devil.

"Shiro, for the love of god, will you shut up already? Don't you have a date with Adam today??"

"I do, but it's fun to tease you about your crush."

"HE'S NOT MY CRUSH?? SHIRO HE HATES MY GUTS?? WE JUST OFFICIALLY MET LIKE TWO WEEKS AGO??"

"That's just enough to develop a crush Keithy."

"If you call me Keithy one more time I'm kicking your ass, AND SHIRO NO??"

"Okay Keithy, bye!"

Before Keith could get up to pursue Shiro, he heard the front door close. He sighed as he bent to pick up the marker he previously threw on the wall. The picture itself didn't have much left to do, but Keith was nervous and nervous Keith was always angry.

He took deep, calming breaths as he started working on colouring Lance's sweater once more.

★★★

(02:23 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : [Image Sent]

(02:23 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : I'M SO DONE

(02:35 A.M.) shirogane : Wtf Keith why aren't you asleep

(02:35 A.M.) shirogane : Oh wait. Is that The Drawing??

(02:36 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : Yeah, genius. I finally managed to finish it

(02:37 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : Also I was going to ask why you aren't home yet but I don't think I want to know

(02:39 A.M.) shirogane : You probably don't

(02:40 A.M.) shirogane : Btw the drawing looks awesome

(02:41 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : Thanks Shiro. Now go to sleep, I don't want to see your sulky face in the morning

(02:42 A.M.) shirogane : Oh I would, but Adam promised me one more round

(02:43 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : I'm officially disowning you as my roommate, bye

(02:43 A.M.) shirogane : KEITH

(02:43 A.M.) shirogane : KEIIIITH

(02:44 A.M.) shirogane : CMON U KNOW ILY

(02:44 A.M.) shirogane : KEITH PLS

~ Seen : 02:44 ~

★★★

When Keith woke up the next morning, Shiro was still nowhere to be seen. He probably overslept at Adam's flat, and he was late to work. With a deep sigh, Keith picked his phone up from where he put it last night and dialed Shiro's number without looking. It was the first number on his favourites anyways.

The phone ringed for a solid 7-8 seconds before Shiro picked up, the sleepiness in his voice evident.

"Hnnng???"

"Shiro, this is Keith. You're oversleeping right now and you're late to work. Even if I disowned you as my roommate you're still my best friend, so get your sore ass off the bed and go to work."

There was a little pause, sound of the bedsheets, and lastly, the horrifying screech of Shiro.

"ADAM!! I'M LATE TO WORK!!!"

"You're welcome, my no-longer-roommate."

Keith hung up with a giggle as he threw the sheets on the floor, quickly sitting up. He'd better hurry if he didn't want to be late too. With one last glance at his comfy bed, he slipped out of it.

His feet mindlessly found his slippers and padded to his one hell of a mess table, picking up his ridiculously huge pencilcase -that's what you get for being an artist- and his clipboard. He stuffed them both in his backpack and dragged it to the door, and then finally making his way to the bathroom.

With a glance at the mirror, Keith cringed. He looked like shit. Eyes bloodshot from the lack of sleep, the bags under his eyes nearly black. Maybe he shouldn't have stayed up to finish the goddamned drawing.

Lance'd better appreciate it, or Keith would have to kick his ass. He devoted his precious time to that, dammit.

(07:45 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : I'm done with the drawing.

(07:58 A.M.) lanceylance : AAAAAH WHY ARE YOU UP SO EARLY

(08:02 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : Duhh? Because we have school?

(08:04 A.M.) lanceylance : Screw education

(08:04 A.M.) lanceylance : Fuck I can't go back to sleep

(08:05 A.M.) lanceylance : You gotta pay for that mister

(08:06 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : How about you come to school on time and I give you your drawing?

(08:07 A.M.) lanceylance : Hmmm

(08:07 A.M.) lanceylance : Guess I'll take it

(08:08 A.M.) lanceylance : Cya there mullet

(08:10 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : See you.

Keith realized he had been grinning like an idiot a little too late. If Shiro had been there, he'd never Keith live that down. He decided that he had to be more careful if he wanted to be spared Shiro and Adam's teasing.

He glanced at the reflection on the mirror one last time, checking his ponytail and making sure it wouldn't get loose during the day, he headed out.

★★★

"Keith, dude, this is fucking awesome. Mama will love it. You even coloured it!"

Keith shrugged like it wasn't a big deal. It kinda was, but he wasn't going to let Lance know that.

"I don't like doing sloppy jobs."

"I guess. Mama will want you to join dinner, like, tonight."

Lance looked at him, seemingly waiting for an answer. Keith pulled at his lip while thinking of an answer, an answer that wouldn't be rude but still do the job.

"Uh... I promised Shiro and Adam that we'd play Mortal Kombat today..."

"Oh. Have fun. Then tomorrow evening?"

Keith didn't have a clever answer for that. Realizing that Lance wasn't going to let go, he gave in.

"Sure, Lance."

"Cool! I'll send you the adress and time. Maybe you can come with me after school?"

"My last class wraps up around 03:00 P.M. , so I want to drop by home to get my stuff done. You send the address and I'll find my way."

"Oh. Sure. Sweet. See you later!"

★★★

(08:23 P.M.) lanceylance : [Address Attached]

(08:23 P.M.) lanceylance : Tomorrow at 7 pm? Does that work for you??

(08:34 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Sure.

(08:34 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : And, uh, I'm lactose intolerant.

(08:35 P.M.) lanceylance : Holy fuck

(08:35 P.M.) lanceylance : Glad you told me, otherwise you'd probably end up in a hospital

(08:36 P.M.) lanceylance : I'll let Mama know, she's dying to meet you

(08:36 P.M.) lanceylance : She's in love with the drawing

(08:37 P.M.) lanceylance : So, uh. Thanks for indulging her

(08:37 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : No problem, Lance. See you tomorrow.

★★★

The clock showed 06:22 P.M. , and Keith was a nervous wreck. It was a half hour walk to Lance's house and he had like, 8 minutes to start making his way there.

He huffed as he contemplated whether or not he should pin his bangs back with a hair pin.

"Shiro!"

"What?? You're still here?"

"Uh, yeah. I gotta ask you something."

Shiro walked in to their shared bedroom and chuckled as he saw Keith struggling.

"What are you doing?"

"Hair pin or no hair pin?"

"..... Dude. You never pin your bangs back, unless my family is coming over. You're really smitten with this guy."

"SHUT THE FUCK UP SHIRO, I'M GOING TO BE LATE, SCREW HAIR PINS!"

Keith let his bangs fall back to his face as he shoved the hair pins in the box, lightly punching Shiro's shoulder.

"Sure, Keithy. Have fun with your crush!"

Keith glared at Shiro with all he got, and in return he earned a chuckle from Shiro. Ignoring him for both of their sakes, he picked up his backpack and ran to the door. At least, tried to. Until he bumped into someone.

"Oww, that really hurts... Adam?"

"It hurt me as much as it hurt you, dunmy. Why's the rush?"

"Adaaam! My lil Keithy has a date!"

"Oh. About time. Have fun, Keith."

Keith grumbled a "fuck you both" as he hurried out of the door. The air was a little chilly, but he was going to walk anyways. It'd probably warm him up.

He pulled his phone out to check the address one last time and grabbed his earphones from his pocket. The walk to Lance's house was silent, except for the blaring music from his earphones.

He checked the time. He was 5 minutes early. Well, screw it. With a deep breath, he rung the bell.

He hears some shuffling, muffled yells, and footsteps before the door opened.

A woman was standing in the doorway, with a smile as radiant as the sun. It reminded him of Lance. Keith studied the woman for a few seconds. She was a few inches shorter than Lance, nearly as tall as Keith. She was a little chubby, but she had the same chestnut hair and blue eyes as Lance.

"Oh! You must be Keith. I'm Rosa, Lance's mom. Please come in!"

Keith gave her a smile, and stepped inside. The woman scurried towards what Keith assumed to be the kitchen.

"Please make yourself comfortable."

Keith looked around. It was a large living room, with lots of souvenirs littering it. Also, lots of paintings and drawings dotted the wall, including Keith's.

There were a few kids running around, a man in his fourties lounging on the sofa with a newspaper in his hands, two boys and a woman sat on the what Keith assumed to be the dinner table. And lastly, Lance, who was chasing after the kids.

Although he stopped dead in his tracks upon seeing Keith.

"Oh, Keith!"

He made his way next to Keith with his ridiculously long legs, and offered him a shaky smile.

"Don't mind the kids please. They're always like this. Oh and, Mama somehow managed to find vegan milk, so you're safe."

"Thanks..."

"But she kept saying that you should let us know immediately if you felt itchy."

"Okay, I will."

Keith fidgeted awkwardly, he wasn't used to so much attention. He could feel the eyes of the other occupants on the room on him. Lance must've noticed it too, as he rubbed his neck sheepishly.

"Hey everyone, this is Keith. Say hi Keith."

"Hi..."

The woman on the table shot him a smile, and gestured them to come sit.

"I'm Veronica, Lance's sister. These are Marco and Luis, Lance's brothers. That's Leandro over there, our father. And Rosa, our mom, currently in the kitchen. These lovely little guys over there are our cousins, Lisa and Emmett. Our aunt had business today, and she left them with us. And Lance, please be a dear and help Mama out, won't you?"

Keith could hear Lance's grumble as he dragged his feet to the kitchen. Keith felt pretty helpless as he sat down on the opposite seat of the one Veronica sat on. Why did this feel like an interrogation?

"So, Keith, do you work?"

Oh. So it really was an interrogation.

"Uh, yeah. I work part time as a barista."

Veronica nodded, as if internally taking notes. Just as she opened her mouth to probably another question, Leandro slapped Veronica on the shoulder and took his seat at the head of the table.

"Stop pestering the poor guy Veronica. Hey Keith."

"Thanks Mr. McClain..."

Keith had a stinging feeling that this was going to be a long night.

★★★

Indeed, it was a long night. By the time Keith had stumbled into the Kogane-Shirogane household, it was well past 10:00 P.M. None of the lights were open in the house. It seemed empty. Shiro probably begged Adam until they ended up at somewhere Shiro dragged Adam to. With a sigh, he pulled the spare keys out of his pocket and opened the door. Just as he thought, the house was empty.

Lucky me, Keith thought. Now he could scream over what happened at the dinner.

One of the little kids, Lisa, had asked if Keith had a crush on Lance. Out of the blue. Keith had choked on his food, with a blush painting his cheeks. Luckily, everyone thought it was from how hard he was coughing.

He grabbed the nearest pillow and screamed into it, those kids were damn clever. He grabbed his phone and started texting Shiro.

(10:39 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Hey jerk

(10:39 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : When are you coming back home

(10:40 P.M.) shirogane : On my way. Why?

(10:41 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Weird shit went down at the dinner.

(10:41 P.M.) shirogane : So you need some best friend time ™

(10:42 P.M.) shirogane : I'll be there in 10

★★★

"Hey Keith? Do you believe in aliens?"

Pidge asked, nonchalantly chewing on her food. After the dinner and the talk ™ with Shiro, in which Keith had to admit his teeny tiny crush on Lance, Keith started spending more time with the trio. You could basically count him as one of the group. He swallowed the last of his almond milk and leaned back.

"Duh. Who doesn't?"

"That's what I thought. You're now an official member of The Group™. Give me a minute."

Before Keith could question, his phone vibrated, alerting him of a new notification. Pidge had just added him to a group chat named 'The Group™".

"Oh. Cool."

"I know. Now we gotta go, or Kolivan will kick our asses if we're late to the class. Tell Lance to stop drooling over his crush because we need to go and he's being embarassing."

Lance's crush? Lance had a crush? Keith felt his heart sink, as he looked at the general direction Lance was looking. Oh. There was Allura, with her boyfriend, Lotor. Basically the most popular people in the whole school. With a little sigh, he lightly bumped Lance on the head with his fist.

"Hey Loverboy, we gotta go to class. You can swoon at Allura later."

"But she's so beautiful!"

"I know. She is. But you're being embarassing and Pidge's had enough of it."

"Jeez, fine! I'm coming!"

After snapping Lance out of his Allura daze, Keith scurried towards Pidge. He didn't want to be near Lance for the time being. Even as they made their way to Kolivan's class, he could hear Lance chatting with Hunk about how awesome Allura was and how she deserved better than Lotor, like someone like Lance. And throughout Kolivan's extremely important lesson, it was all Keith could think about.

★★★

"He has a crush on Allura."

Keith blurted out as he threw himself next to Shiro on the bed, swinging one leg over Shiro's and making a starfish shape. Shiro blinked owlishly and turned his head around to see Keith spread on the bed.

"Who? Lance?"

"Yeah, dumbass. Who else could it be?"

"Dunno. Many people have a crush on Allura."

"Why the fuck would they concern me??"

"Dunno. Sorry. I'm just tired."

Keith sighed, it was obvious that his best friend was tired. Both he and Adam were busy with work lately, and they couldn't see each other much. That apparently put Shiro in a bad mood.

"Me too. How about we order some Chinese and play Mario Kart?"

"Sounds awesome. Count me in. It's been some time since it was just the two of us."

Keith grinned at him before reaching over to his phone and placing their order. They ordered food so many times from the site that it was the first one that showed up when Keith clicked on the search bar.

When Keith was done, he just went back to lying in bed with Shiro, fooling around and talking about stuff. He missed this, he missed spending time with Shiro. He missed his best friend. Even if today hadn't been good, he was determined to lift Shiro's spirits and with that, his as well.

★★★

"Why are we here again?"

Pidge huffed, clearly dissatisfied with the whole situation.

"Because Lance wants to stare at Allura rather than working on the project."

Keith answered in Lance's place, as he seemed to be in that Allura daze again. They agreed on meeting up somewhere to discuss the group project Kolivan gave them, but Lance insisted that they go to a specific café, and when they asked why, he just shrugged. Keith didn't mind, at least until now, because it was close to where he worked and he could be there on time before his shift started and Shay flayed him alive for being late. Emphasis on the until now. This was where Allura worked. The reason why Lance desperately wanted to come here.

Keith held back a huge sigh as he turned back to Pidge and Hunk.

"Let's get this done, Lance can work on his part later."

"I guess so. I'm so kicking his ass later for this, though."

Pidge pushed her glasses up her nose as she stared intently at the open notebook in front of her, notes haphazardly scrawled on the paper.

".... I can't read a thing."

"Yeah, me neither. How about we use my notes instead?"

Hunk, their saviour, opened up his notebook to reveal a few pages of carefully taken notes.

"Hunk, you're a literal angel. I doubt Lance has much on his notebook, and as far as I can see the only thing Keith brought with is himself. Where do we start?"

"How about we start by giving a brief introduction of the book? Like, discuss the main points and whatnot? Then we can start comparing it to other books."

It was only then that Lance decided to chime in.

"What books?"

Pidge, Hunk and Keith stared at each other for a few brief secones before Hunk reached over and patted Lance on the shoulder.

"Dude. You're my best friend and I love you, but are you even listening?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry. I'll focus now."

Lance bowed his head in an apologetic manner, and stared at the notebook Hunk had open. He seemed to be reading through them, Keith noted.

Pidge whipped out a laptop as Lance did so, and started typing with an inhuman speed. Keith watched in awe as she typed, though Hunk and Lance didn't seem to mind it that much. Probably something she'd done before.

It wasn't long before they fell into a comfortable rhythm, with Pidge skimming through several internet sites, Keith pointing out interesting stuff, Hunk taking notes and Lance commenting on the said stuff. They'd be able to finish a good chunk of the assignment today, and Keith was more than glad.

He was also glad that Lance could be really responsible when the need arised, but he didn't miss the way he sometimes turned his head to look at Allura. He wanted to scream, he wanted to run, instead, he turned his head the other way and ignored it.

But the ache in his heart, he couldn't ignore.

★★★

"Keith? Where are you going?"

Adam lifted his head from where it was resting on Shiro's broad chest, pointing his finger to Keith's general direction to catch Shiro's attention.

"Beach. To draw."

"Keith..."

Shiro sent him a sad look, shaking his head ever so slightly. He knew that it was a place Keith went to draw when something bugged him.

"It's okay Shiro, I've just been lacking the inspiration to draw lately. Maybe it'll help."

"You know I'm just a phone call away if you need anything.

"I know. Thanks."

Keith shot him a forced smile, trying to let Shiro know that he appreciated it. He wasn't the best at this emotions thing, but Shiro had learned how to read him.

He took his well-loved cropped jacket with him before leaving the house, the beach was always chilly in the afternoon. It was a 20 minutes walk away, even with Keith's fast walking speed.

He stuffed his earphones in his ear, successfully drowning out the sounds of the city. The walk to the beach was calm, like the silence before the storm. His feet knew where to go, and carried him to a secluded part of the beach, where sharp rocks protruded from the surface of the sea.

It was a dangerous climb, but Keith knew his way around. He eventually made his way on top of a flat rock, taking off his shoes and emptying the contents of his bag before sitting on it.

He slipped on his jacket, too, the breeze from the sea making him shiver. He propped up his sketch book on his lap, favourite pencil in hand. It was a gift from Shiro, a casual thing, it had almond milk bottles on it, and Keith had somehow taken a liking to it.

A slight smile tugged on his lips as he began sketching, the lines soon turning into a face he knew too well. He sighed as he stared at the lines on the page, a familiar Cuban boy smiling. He shook his head vigorously as he ripped the page out, no, this wasn't what he came here for today.

He pulled out a lighter from his jacket's pocket. No, he wasn't a smoker. He just liked setting things on fire. Did that make him a pyromaniac? He shrugged as he set the page on fire before tossing it in the endless waters of the sea.

He watched the pretty sunset for a little while before he attempted to draw something else. He needed to clear his head, or all he was going to draw would be messed up drawings of Lance. He closed his eyes as he remembered the basics of meditation that Shiro insisted they learned.

He concentrated on the breeze blowing his hair slightly, the waves lapping at his bare feet where they dangled at the edge of the rock. He heard the soft lull of the sea, and the distant sounds of the city. It was so, so calming and Keith felt his tension melt away as his eyes slipped open and stared at the blank paper on his lap.

He took his pencil from where he dropped it on the rock and began drawing again, the sound of the pencil on paper adding to the soft symphony of the beach.

He was so absorbed in his painting that he didn't hear it at first when someone called out his name. It was so distant, and Keith was really content in the place he was. He ignored the distant voice, hoping it would go away. But of course, it didn't. Why would anything good happen to Keith anyways?

Now fully snapped out of his daze, he realized the voice was much closer than he thought.

"Keith! For the love of god, how did you even climb there? That shit's dangerous!"

.... Lance? What was Lance doing here?

"Lance?"

"Yeah, mullet! Come down here so we can talk!"

Keith didn't want to. It was warm and fuzzy up there. Instead, he extended his hand to Lance.

"...What? You want me to climb there?"

Keith nodded.

"Okay dude, no, nope, no can do--"

"I'll help you climb up. If you want to talk, it's on my terms."

Lance let out a huge sigh, probably weighing both options. Finally, he gave in.

"Okay... But if you drop me, I'll kick your ass."

Keith quickly slipped on his shoes as he climbed down to a rock where he could reach Lance. His hand was warm when he took Keith's extended hand. For a split second, Keith never wanted to let go. He bit his lip and began climbing back up, with Lance close behind.

Turns out that Lance was actually a good climber, and they didn't have any trouble making it to the rock Keith was sitting on before. He put his pen and sketch book aside to make room for Lance, as the rock wasn't that large itself. They were pressed close together, and Keith felt his heart hammering in his chest. He ached in ways he never knew was possible with Lance so close to him like this.

"Yeah, loverboy? Why did you come up all the way here?"

"Uh... You weren't responding to the group chat. We talked about hanging out at Hunk's house tonight and you were the only one who didn't respond so I called you, but Shiro picked it up, I asked him where you were and he told me you'd be on the beach. Figures you'd pick a place like this, though it's really beautiful."

Keith blinked, his mind processing the words. Lance came looking for him? Keith felt the cliche butterflies in his stomach. Maybe they were just rotten maggots, crawling in his stomach because he wanted to throw up.

"You didn't have to, you know."

"Yeah, I do. Maybe I just needed an excuse. Today was a little shitty, so I needed a distraction."

"Allura?"

Keith questioned.

"Allura."

Lance answered.

Keith sighed, pushing the front of his shoe in the water. It soaked through, leaving his socks and foot wet.

"Hey, Keith?"

"Yeah?"

"Imagine if we met here. Wouldn't that be cool?"

"How so?"

"You'd be absorbed in your drawing like this again, and I'd climb up next to you and call out, you'd be so surprised and--"

"I'd scream."

"No dummy, you wouldn't. You would be enticed by my charms."

"Your charms? Sure, loverboy."

Keith snorted, head tipping back as he laughed. Lance huffed and crossed his arms, but he didn't say anything. Keith was glad that Lance came looking for him. He was, really.

"So? Are you coming to Hunk's tonight?"

Keith scratched his chin, weighing his options. Finally, he gave a little nod.

"Sure."

★★★

"This bitch empty! Yeet!"

Pidge screeched as she threw the empty Capri-Sun packet at Keith face, barely leaving any time for him to react. The packet hit Keith's face dead on, causing him to drop the gummy bears in his hand.

"Evil gremlin."

Came Lance's comment from somewhere behind the couch where he was building a pillow fort.

Keith chuckled as he picked up the gummy bear package and tossed it at Pidge's face in return. Though Pidge dodged it by throwing herself on Hunk's lap on the couch. Keith plopped down on the floor next to Lance, taking a pillow and placing it so it formed a door.

"Wow. Thanks, dude."

Keith shrugged.

"How many pillows does Hunk own?"

"Uh, a lot?"

Came Hunk's reply from the couch, muffled by something in his mouth. Probably gummy bears. Pidge's head popped up from the front of the couch as she dangled half of her body on top of the two boys sitting in front of the poor excuse as a pillow fort.

Her eyes gleamed before she pulled a pillow and threw it at Keith.

"Pillow fight!!"

The next few moments were a blur as Keith was smothered in a sea of pillows before he came to his sensed and grabbed a pillow snd swung it somewhere at the room. A pained grunt came from Lance as Keith threw another one at Pidge, successfully knocking her back.

"Dude! Pillows are supposed to be soft! Just how strong are you?"

Hunk pleaded. It was strange, coming from Hunk, who could probably snap Keith in half. Though Hunk was probably too pure for that.

After a few more pillows that had Pidge on the nearest surface, Keith was declared as the winner.

They all giggled as they fell into a pile of sweaty limbs and pillow cotton.

Keith felt peaceful.

★★★

"How the fuck are you so talented at Mario Kart?"

"Shiro and I play it a lot. I always win."

"I can see."

It had been a few months after he and Lance had their bonding moment on the beach, which Lance pretended to not remember, with the words "Don't remember, didn't happen!". But they were so much closer to each other than they had been before.

Currently, Lance was crashing at Keith and Shiro's house, a common occurence when Shiro was out on a date with Adam. Keith had visited the McClain's house for a few times too, but always got pestered by Veronica, and Lance declared that they'd meet at Keith's place after that.

Keith didn't complain. It was intimate like this, the two of them, alone. And they had so much fun, too. There were strange days too, where they had to comfort each other. Keith had gotten his first hug from Lance a few days ago, and he still felt tingly when he thought about it.

"What are you smiling for, mullet?"

"Nothing. Just thinking about how I'm going to beat your scrawny ass in the next race."

Lance faked a gasp as he lightly pushed Keith on the shoulder.

"How dare you?? My ass is not scrawny!!"

"Sure, loverboy."

Keith listened to Lance grumble, and he thought it was adorable. They still bickered like an old married couple, but it didn't have the bite it used to have anymore.

Pidge had caught on to Keith's crush on Lance along the lines, but lucky for Keith, she was good at keeping secrets and knew where to draw the line when she joked about it. Keith was forever grateful.

He still ached when Lance rambled on about Allura, sometimes, but as long as his attention was on Keith, he could deal.

He thought he could. But as time passed, he started to think that maybe he couldn't deal with it at all.

★★★

It was a normal evening in the Kogane-Shirogane household, with Adam over for dinner, like he usually was.

The dinner consisted of grilled chicken and pasta, courtesy of Shiro.

It was supposed to be a normal dinner, but something was wrong. Keith could feel it.

"I need to tell you two something."

Ah, there it was. Keith knew. Something was bothering Shiro.

"Yeah?"

Adam prompted him to continue. Shiro gulped, seemingly trying to choose his words well.

"I... They offered me a job."

"Eeh? Isn't that good? You've been waiting for that raise for years now?"

Adam stroked his chin, but Keith waited. There was more. Keith knew.

"..... It's at the other side of the world."

Ah. There. The thing Shiro was desperately afraid of telling them. Keith understood it better as he saw Adam, fists clenched, mouth drawn into a tight line.

Abrubtly, he got up, drawing both Shiro's and Keith's attention to him.

"I... I need some time. To process. I'm. I'm... Sorry."

He grabbed his jacket and stormed out of the house, like he had never been there before.

Keith looked at Shiro. His best friend had his head hanging low, picking at his nails. Keith got up from his seat, and pulled Shiro's hulking form into a tight hug.

"I'm sorry. I'm here."

★★★

"I don't know what should I do, Lance. He's been sulking for days now, Adam hadn't called, and I'm afraid Shiro will do something dumb."

Keith sat cross-legged at Lance's bedroom, eyes red and the bags under them a dark purple. He had been staying up with Shiro for days now, fruitlessly trying to distract him from the stress.

Lance reached over and tucked a stray lock behind Keith's ear. Since when did they become like this? Keith couldn't tell. He was too tired.

"You look like you can use some rest."

"No shit, Sherlock."

Keith internally groaned as Lance looked hurt for a second. Good job, Keith.

"Yeah. I'm sorry. I know you're tired and angry and snappy, but I just want to help."

"I know... I'm sorry too. The lack of sleep is doing things to me."

Lance's eyes lit up as he scrambled up to his feet, extending his hand to Keith. Keith looked up at him, the unasked question of "What are you thinking of?" lingering in the air.

"Let's sleep?"

"Huh?"

"You want to sleep. I want to make you feel better. And I never say no to sleep. So, let's sleep? Though we only have one bed in my bedroom, are you up for sharing?"

Keith's heart hammered in his chest. It was so loud that he was scared of Lance hearing it. Hoping to calm his heart down, he shrugged.

"Sure."

"Sweet. Come lay down."

Lance petted the space next to him in bed. Keith hesitantly crawled up, facing away from Lance.

"Good night..."

Keith snorted. Good night? It was still afternoon.

"Don't laugh. It's a habit of mine."

Keith couldn't see Lance, but he could imagine him pouting. He chuckled a little as he replied with a soft "Good night to you too".

Sleep came to Keith easily as he listened to Lance breathing next to him.

★★★

The blaring sound of his phone ringing was what woke the two boys up from their peaceful slumber.

Keith blinked to adjust as Lance groaned, looking at his phone's screen. It was Shiro. Shiro's name and face on the calling screen woke him up as fast as a bucket of cold water could, and he quickly answered the call.

"Shiro?"

There was no sound at first, just a distinct sniffling sound.

"... Shiro?"

Keith questioned as Lance looked up at him, worry evident in his eyes.

"What's wrong Shiro? Talk to me, please."

And that was when the dam broke and Shiro suddenly started crying, and Keith was at a complete loss on what to do.

"H-hey, Shiro, please, I'll be there in a few minutes, I need you to stay calm okay? I'll keep the phone open, just wait for me."

He shot Lance an apologetic look before he darted to the door. A tight hug from Lance stopped him for a brief few seconds.

"Take care, Keith."

"You too."

And with that, Keith was leaving the house as fast as he could, running, running to get to Shiro faster. It hurt to listen to Shiro cry, because Shiro never cried.

He reached the house at a record time, fumbling with his keys a little. When he finally entered the house, he found Shiro still crying on the floor, phone in hand. Keith released the breath he didn't realize he was holding as he took a few seconds to calm himself down. He quickly ended the call and took the phone away from Shiro.

He reached a hand out to Shiro, unsure of what to do. If Lance was there, he'd know what to do. But he wasn't, and it was up to Keith.

Shiro held the hand he extended tightly.

"Adam... Broke up with me."

Keith didn't say anything. He knew.

"He said... He wouldn't be here when I come back."

"I'm... Sorry Shiro. I don't know what to do or what to say. Just... I'm here?"

"I know Keith... I just need some time. Give me a hug for the time being?"

And that, Keith could do.

★★★

"Hey Keith, how's Shiro?"

"Not good. Moping around."

Lance sighed, throwing an arm around Keith's shoulders, unaware of what he was doing to Keith's poor heart.

"I can guess. It must be hard."

"It sure seems so. I feel bad about leaving him alone. And I feel like I haven't talked to Hunk and Pidge for forever.  I feel like a shitty friend."

"Naah. I'm pretty sure they'd understand. Plus, I have an offering for you to make amends. You can bring Shiro along too. There's this party next friday, Nyma's the host, it'll be fun."

"I don't know Lance... Shiro will probably want to stay home."

"I understand if you two didn't come, but it'd be awesome if you could."

"Yeah. I'll ask him. Allura's going to be there, I assume?"

"Huh? Yeah, but why would you ask?"

"Her and Lotor just broke up, didn't they? Maybe it could be your chance."

Saying those words didn't hurt Keith as much anymore for some reason. He could register the deep ache if he really thought about it, but it was like looking after a lovesick Shiro had numbed him.

"Oh. You're right... It could be. See, you're a great friend when you want to be."

"Sure, Lance. I'll talk to you later. Gotta catch up on Mrs. Dahlia's class. Tell Pidge and Hunk I said hi."

"Okay. Bye, Mullet."

★★★

"You're sure, Shiro? Like really really sure?"

"Yes, Keith. I'm really really sure. I don't feel up for it tonight, but if you don't go because of me I'm not talking to you until I leave."

"You're evil, I'm your best friend!"

"Yeah, you are. I'm doing this for you. Maybe if you get drunk enough you'll confess to Lance."

Keith groaned as he fixed his ponytail in place, grabbing his phone, keys and wallet and stuffing them in his pockets.

"Call me if you need a ride?"

"Sure, I doubt it though. I'll probably get sick of watching him flirt with Allura and come back home. Then we can put this whole thing behind us and play Fortnite."

Shiro chuckled, a heart warming sound. He waved at Keith.

"Come on Mr. Grumpy, have fun."

"Thanks Shiro. Take care."

"I will, you too."

With one last glance, Keith hopped up on Hunk's mini van which had been waiting for him for like 5 minutes.

"What took you so long, emo boy?"

Pidge turned around in her seat to look at Keith.

"Had to make sure Shiro was really okay."

"Yikes. Let's go, I can't wait to hit the dance floor."

Keith gave her a light chuckle before settling next to Lance in the van, smiling at him. He looked gorgeous. Probably to impress Allura. He sighed.

"Hey, mullet. Glad you could make it."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

The car ride consisted of Pidge yelling along to the songs on the radio, poor Hunk trying to drive, and Lance trying to yell louder than Pidge. Keith felt some of his tension melt away as the familiar atmosphere surrounded him. He didn't talk much, but no one said anything. Keith was glad.

When they arrived at Nyma's house, it was loud. Really, really loud. Why weren't the cops there yet? Before he could dwell on it, Lance grabbed his hand excitedly and dragged him inside. Did he say it was loud? Yeah, it was.

And it was also crowded, and Pidge and Hunk quickly got separated from them. Lance didn't seem to mind as he guided Keith to where the drinks were.

"We're not old enough to drink, you know."

"Yeah. Who cares?"

"I do."

"No you don't. Come on, live a little."

Keith sighed as he took the glass Lance was offering. A sip, and woah, that shit was strong. How did Lance down it in one go? Was he that resistant to alcohol?

As he finished his first glass, Keith started to have second doubts  about not needing a ride from Shiro.

★★★

As hours passed, Keith realized a few things. First, Lance wasn't resistant to alcohol, not a little bit. He was already drunk as fuck and shamelessly flirting with Allura. And second, Keith would definitely need that ride home.

His head was spinning, his eyes were burning, his stomach was churning. Fuck, he was probably drunk. He couldn't find Pidge or Hunk anywhere, so he could trust Lance with them and get the fuck out of there. Speaking of, where was Lance? He was right there with Allura a few minutes ago...

"Keith."

Someone stood behind him, so, so close that he could feel their breath on his ear. He shivered.

"Lance..? Why aren't you with Allura?"

"She wasn't ready for it. Still over her head for that Lotor jerk. But you're here, aren't you?"

What? Fuck, Lance was as drunk as a skunk. He smelled horrible.

"Lance, you're drunk, get off of me."

"Why? Don't you want me?"

As if to prove a point, Lance grinded his crotch against Keith's ass, a gasp escaping Keith. He wanted to go home. He didn't want this. Lance was drunk, Lance didn't want this either. He was just sexually frustrated and the girl of his dreams wasn't available, so he settled for Keith instead. How romantic.

But Keith was weak, and he was drunk, too. He'd always give in to Lance, no matter what he wanted. A voice inside his head screamed that this was wrong, so, so wrong, but Keith couldn't bring himself to care as Lance flipped him over and kissed him.

It was nothing like how first kisses were described in books, or movies. There were no butterflies, no mushy feelings. Just the clack of teeth, tongues intertwining. It was rough, way too rough, but neither boys cared.

Lance dragged him inside an empty room and quickly turned the lock. Keith could register fear at the back of his mind as he watched Lance turn the lock. He stood there awkwardly until Lance pushed him on the nearest surface possible, which was the floor. Keith landed with a loud thud, and fuck, it was going to bruise.

Lance kissed him messily, spit dripping down their chins. A still sober part of Keith wanted to stop Lance, didn't want to cross a line they couldn't uncross, didn't want to ruin what they had. But with Lance kissing him, spreading his legs apart with his knees, Keith was weak.

It was easy to pretend. Easy to pretend that Lance loved him too. Easy to pretend that Lance wasn't thinking of Allura beneath him instead of Keith.

Keith swallowed around the lump in his throat as Lance threw Keith's jacket somewhere in the room, quickly lifting up his shirt to bunch around his wrists and keep him bound. Keith could easily break free, if he wanted, but he didn't feel like it. He was floating, he felt nauseous and Lance's makeshift bindings offered him an anchor to hold onto.

Lance's lips were on him, on his neck, his chest, anywhere they could reach. He sucked on his collarbones until they bloomed a vivid purple, marking Keith as his. He didn't need to. Keith was already his, the alcohol bringing out his desperate feelings.

"Lance..."

"Hush. I'll take care of you."

Keith laid back as Lance pulled off his jeans, and with his underwear with it. He felt embarassed at being so exposed like this, a blush painting his cheeks. Just as he was about to turn his head, Lance gripped his jaw in a death grip and offered the fingers of his other hands for Keith to suck.

Keith's eyes fluttered shut as he took his fingers in his mouth, sucking and licking. Making sure they were wet enough. He could sense that Lance's patience was running thin.

For a few brief moments, Keith was allowed to lick at Lance's fingers, and then suddenly his mouth was empty. He was being flipped to lie on his face, ass up in the air. He gripped the shirt that binded his wrists tightly as he felt two of Lance's spit-slicked fingers trace his rim. Tears filled his eyes, but he didn't know why. He just felt a strong urge to cry, but he couldn't pinpoint the reason through the fog in his head.

It didn't matter as they spilled over as tears of pain when Lance roughly shoved two fingers in him.

"L-Lance..! That r-really hurts!"

He heard Lance mumble something akin to 'sorry' as his fingers stilled inside Keith, waiting for him to adjust a little. Just a little, because both boys were drunk, Lance significantly more than Keith.

He bit his lip as Lance spread his fingers apart, trying to loosen the tight passage. Keith cried out, moans filled with pain and pleasure echoing in the room. Tears kept rolling down his cheeks, and he was suddenly glad for the position, for it blocked Lance from seeing Keith cry.

He didn't know when the fingers in him left, but he knew it wasn't enough. He wasn't prepared enough, he wasn't slick enough. He knew it'd hurt like a bitch when he heard the zipper of Lance's jeans open. He bit his lip as he felt Lance's cock press against his hole, bracing himself for what's to come.

He didn't try to get away. A sick, twisted part of him wanted it. Wanted Lance to use him as he pleased, wanted to be nothing more than a tool for his pleasure. All of his conscious thoughts were shoved out as Lance pushed in with a single shove, bottoming out immediately.

Keith screamed.

It hurt so much, and more tears kept coming. He heard Lance trying to say something meant to be comforting, but he couldn't make out the words. The only thing he could hear was the loud thrumming of his heart, and the way something inside of his head buzzed. A hand snaked its way under Keith's chin, stroking his jawline. Keith let his head hang low in defeat. He'd always succumb to Lance.

When Lance moved again, Keith felt it was so much slicker than before. Keith was afraid to look, but he knew it was blood without looking, from the way it burned. Lance cursed, but it seemed like his hips had a mind on their own and just kept fucking into Keith.

Drip.

Lance gripped his hair and pulled him back on his cock, like Keith was just a fucktoy for his pleasure.

Drip.

He bucked his hips against Lance, because he was a lovesick fool.

Drip.

Tears kept spilling from his eyes and onto the wooden floor, he could feel Lance getting close to his climax. He could feel the way Lance throbbed inside of him, and how he gripped Keith's thighs for purchase.

"L-Lance..! I'm coming..!"

Lance only grunted in response as he thrusted into Keith, now sloppy and deep. Keith could only guess that this was his way of telling that he was close, too.

With a particularly rough thrust, Lance buried himself in Keith, his come warm inside.

Keith felt like he had been tossed in scorching hot water when Lance mumbled his next words in the throes of his orgasm.

" 'Llura... I love you..!"

Keith sobbed until his throat felt raw as he came.

★★★

His eyes were red and puffy as he pulled out his phone to text Shiro. He had cleaned up the best he could, but his rear still ached, and he wanted to throw up. He had somehow managed to clean Lance up, too, so he didn't suspect a thing.

Tears filled his eyes again as he looked at him passed out on the floor. He shook his head, and concentrated on texting Shiro with his shaky hands.

(01:14 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : Shiro

(01:15 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : I newd tou tocpick me up

(01:17 A.M.) shirogane : Keith? Are you drunk?

(01:18 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : No, jdut cryjng and manye a lil durnk

(01:18 A.M.) shirogane : What? Wait, I'll be there in 5 minutes. Wait for me in front of the house.

(01:19 A.M.) knifetomeetyou : Okay. I'm sorry...

★★★

The ride home was silent. Keith felt horrible, for being a terrible friend for dumping his troubles on Shiro when he couldn't even deal with his own.

His legs twitched, rear still warm and sticky from the blood and cum inside. He needed a shower, and he needed to sleep, like, forever.

However, that didn't stop him from starting to sob as soon as they got home. His throat burned, his eyes hurt, his ass was sore, he was pretty sure he was bruised in more places than one. He felt thoroughly used. A sick part of him was glad that he could give Lance what Allura couldn't, but that was it. Other than that, he felt like shit. Inside and out. The drunken fog inside his head was gone, so he had to deal with this sober.

His phone was constantly vibrating with the incoming notifications, probably Pidge and Hunk, asking where he is. Shiro plopped down next to him on the floor with sigh, chucking his phone on the couch.

"What's wrong Keith?"

"L-Lance was drunk, and I was t-too... We..."

"You?"

Shiro prompted helpfully, but Keith couldn't. He drowned in another wave of endless sobs, and Shiro just rubbed his back.

"Does it have anything to do with the way you walk funny?"

Thank god Shiro was a clever guy. Keith nodded, his entire frame shaking.

"I wanted it... I wanted to-to have him, just for once..."

"Oh Keith... I'm sorry. I'll run a bath for you, and then we can watch the rest of Big Mouth? We still have that vegan ice cream from last night."

Keith nodded and nuzzled Shiro, in a way he hoped was grateful. Shiro just petted his hair and got up, extending a hand to lift Keith up too. Keith had to lean most of his body weight on his best friend, but they managed. Shiro could bench press Keith at any given moment, so it didn't prove to be that difficult.

Keith felt a wave of sadness as he came to realize that his days with Shiro was numbered. They only had a week before would be in the other side of the world.

"Shiro... Don't go."

Shiro blinked at him for a few seconds before understanding what he meant.

"Okay, Keith. I won't."

Keith knew it was just a lie to comfort him. He knew, but he still clung onto that lie like a lifeline.

★★★

Shiro had insisted that Keith stayed at home the next day. They originally had a group meeting planned, but Keith literally couldn't get out of the bed.

He and Shiro had stayed up until the sun was beginning to rise, watching dramatic romance movies instead of Big Mouth like Shiro recommended, with Keith crying his eyes out while eating ice cream.

He blearily blinked as he reached for his phone, noticing that Shiro wasn't in bed with him, the laptop and the ice cream box gone. He must've cleaned up while Keith was asleep.

Keith lifted his phone, and was met with more than a hundred of texts. Most of them was from the group chat, but Pidge had sent him some too. He ignored the group chat in favor of opening Pidge's texts.

(02:22 A.M.) Pidgeon :  Hey emo boy

(02:23 A.M.) Pidgeon :  Where the fuck are you??

(03:21 A.M.) Pidgeon :  We went home because we couldn't find you. Lance was passed out in one of the rooms, why??

(03:42 A.M.) Pidgeon :  Keith you little fucker

(03:44 A.M.) Pidgeon :  Something happened between you two didn't it

(04:02 A.M.) Pidgeon :  Answer the phone you coward

(04:20 A.M.) Pidgeon :  Whatever, nerd

(04:21 A.M.) Pidgeon :  I'll see you tomorrow, gnite

(12:56 P.M.) Pidgeon :  KEITH WTF

(12:57 P.M.) Pidgeon :  WE CAME TO PICK YOU UP BUT SHIRO OPENED THE DOOR AND SAID YOU WEREN'T FEELING WELL??

(12:58 P.M.) Pidgeon :  Jokes aside, we're worried. Text us when you wake up

Keith sighed as he dropped his head to the pillow once more, the distinct taste of the ice cream from yesterday still lingering in his mouth. He figured he owed his friends an apology.

(02:17 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Sorry, Pidge. Shiro picked me up last night. I was pretty wasted

(02:18 P.M.) Pidgeon :  Oh so you're alive

(02:18 P.M.) Pidgeon :  Good

(02:19 P.M.) Pidgeon :  Lance is really worried and you haven't asked about him yet, so I assume my assumptions are true??

(02:20 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Yes Pidge, they are, something happened and I don't want to talk about it, and I really don't feel like seeing Lance right now

(02:21 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : I'll see you guys on monday, but can you please leave me alone for a bit? Tell them I got alcohol poisoning or some shit, just make them leave me alone

(02:22 P.M.) Pidgeon :  That's a bit extreme, but sure. I want to know what happened but I'm not gonna push you

(02:23 P.M.) Pidgeon :  Take your time

(02:24 P.M.) knifetomeetyou : Thanks, Pidgeon

(02:24 P.M.) Pidgeon :  My pleasure, emo boy. Get well soon

★★★

Monday came around much earlier than Keith anticipated. Keith dreaded each passing day, because it meant Shiro was one day closer to being ripped away from him, like every good thing in his life was.

He checked himself in front of the mirror, his reflection an echo of a broken boy. He sighed as he checked for any visible bruises, and patted himself on the shoulder mentally when he couldn't find one. He did a good job with Shiro's concealers.

"Shiro? I'm off to school, be a good best friend and don't do stupid stuff okay?"

Shiro snorted and he threw a pillow at Keith.

"That's rich coming from you!"

"Shut the fuck up Takashi, you know what I'm talking about."

"Yeah,yeah, sorry. I won't. You too."

"Sure. See you for dinner."

"Bye, Keith."

Keith never hated going to school this much. His feet literally dragged him backwards, but he promised Pidge. So he swallowed around the lump in his throat, and made his way to the school.

★★★

"Keith, buddy! It feels like it's been forever, are you any better now?"

Keith was immediately met with a bear hug from Hunk, and he immediately felt guilty. They were his friends, and Keith had ruined what they had by sleeping with Lance. The worst part was that he was the only one who knew. Aside from Shiro.

He returned the hug half-heartedly, and gave a them a shaky smile, hoping it didn't look too forced.

"Hey mullet. You had us worried. Pidge told us you had alcohol poisoning?"

Lance reached out a hand to pat him on the shoulder, and Keith flinched. Lance touching him made him feel nauseous.

"Uh... Yeah. I did. Maybe some of the drinks they served had some dairy in it."

"Sucks, man. Glad you feel better."

It was strange, talking with Lance like this. Like nothing happened. Like Keith didn't lose his virginity to him just a few days ago.

"Guys, I don't want to interrupt the heartfelt reunion but I think we should head to the class. Kolivan will check where we are on the assignment."

Keith was eternally grateful to Pidge.

★★★

"So next saturday to finish the assignment? Hunk's place?"

"Sure. Sounds good."

"Okay with me too. Shiro'll be gone by then."

It was lunch time already, and Keith was a nervous wreck. He was sure he'd at least had two silent panic attacks with just Lance looking at him. He couldn't, he couldn't deal with it. He picked at his vegan chocolate, not even taking a bite before tossing it on Hunk's tray.

"Dude? You okay? First you gave the milk to Pidge, and now you're giving the chocolate to Hunk. You never do that."

"Yeah. I just don't feel like eating. I'm good."

"Suure..."

Keith listened as the rest of the group fell into a deep discussion about ants wasps, but to be honest? His mind was elsewhere.

★★★

"Shiro! I'm home!"

"Hey Keith. I made grilled cheese and french fries, if you're up to it?"

"Sure... What did you do today?"

"Nothing, really. They called from work, to check everything. It's all ready."

"So you just moped around all day?"

"Not that different from what you did, I bet."

Shit, Shiro had a point. He plopped down next to him on the dinner table, the extra chair for Adam now being used by them to rest their feet on.

It was somehow lonely like this, the two of them, eating in silence. With everything being so hectic lately, Keith didn't realize just how much Adam took space in their lives. He couldn't even imagine how it felt for Shiro.

"Shiro... Is it hard?"

"What?"

"Moving on. Forgetting about it. Is it hard?"

"Of course it is, Keith. You should know already."

"I don't know what to do. I can't stand being near him, but all of our friends are mutual, I don't want to hurt them, but my heart breaks every time I see him. What do I do?"

"Honestly, Keith? I don't know. I don't even know what I'm doing myself anymore. We'll figure it out as we go, okay? I'll have your back as long as you have mine."

Keith nodded softly, playing with his fork. He was glad that Shiro was here with him, even if he was going away soon.

★★★

This was it. The day Keith dreaded had finally come. He picked at his nails nervously as he watched Shiro drive to the airport. His flight was in two hours, which meant Keith only had an hour with him left.

"Hey Keith?"

"Yeah?"

"Stop picking your nails, you know it hurts like a bitch afterwards."

Keith nodded as Shiro parked the car at the parking lot, waiting a few seconds before he got out of it. Shiro took out all of his luggage, and boy, was it a lot. Keith tugged on a luggage while Shiro locked the car and tossed the keys at Keith. Shiro took the remaining luggages and followed Keith.

The check-in for the flight was pretty uneventful, except Shiro had to pay for extra luggage. Keith hated how they were spending their last moments for a good while sitting quietly, not doing anything. He leaned his head on Shiro's shoulder and stared at the planes, it all seemed so surreal.

"Keith, I know this makes you sad, but  promise we'll still be in touch. I won't abandon you. I promise."

"How can you be so sure? It's a new place, you'll meet tons of new people, and you'll forget about me. I just want to keep on being your best friend for a little more."

Keith lifted his head, picking at his nails again. He couldn't help it.

"Keith... Why would I forget you? I just promised you. We spent half of our lives together, how could I forget that?"

"I don't know. I'm sorry. I'm just emotional. And I think That's the call to your flight."

"Yeah... It is. Come here."

Shiro pulled Keith in to a tight hug that lasted for a good five minutes before pulling away, promising him they'd keep in touch, and disappearing into a crowd of people.

It'd be the last time Keith saw him in person for a long, long time.

★★★

" 'Sup Keith, did you bring notes from the last time?"

"Yeah. They're in my bag. We're finishing this today right?"

"Sure. If Lance stops bragging about his date with Allura."

Keith's shoulders drooped visibly as Pidge patted her on the shoulder, giving him a sympathetic look.

"Sorry, man."

"It's okay. Let's get this done with."

Keith stepped in, only to find Lance sprawled out on Hunk's lap, cheeks a bright red as he told him something, probably his date, as Pidge mentioned.

Lance's eyes landed on Keith, and Keith could swear that his eyes literally gleamed.

"Keith! Buddy! Allura wants to go on a date with me! I finally did it!"

"Yeah, congrats Lance. Let's make this quick, I have work after this."

Keith tried his best to ignore the hurt look on Lance's face as he responded coldly to him. He knew he was being mean, but he needed to build a hard shell around himself if he wanted to be able keep functioning as a normal human being around Lance.

After Keith's outburst, no one talked much. Just the occasional joke from Hunk and Lance, and some bickering on Pidge's part. The mood was tense, and Keith knew it was his fault.

He felt his throat clog up as they wrapped their PowerPoint slide up, a possible panic attack rising. He quickly made his excuse, that he needed to go to work, thanked everyone for working so hard, and made his grand exit.

The clear weather helped him breathe a little easier, but he couldn't help but wonder, when will he stop ruining the good things that happen to him?

★★★

The house has never felt emptier before. Sure, Shiro called him everday like he promised, but for them to actually sit down and talk required either Keith or Shiro to wake up in the middle of the night to call. And Keith was so damn exhausted. He wasn't coping, he kept ditching his friends, he was just so tired of everything.

It didn't help in the slightest when Shiro wasn't there to help him when Lance broke out the news that him and Allura were officially dating. Keith knew that Allura didn't have any interest in Lance. She was just looking for a distraction, someone to keep her mind off of Lotor.

But it wasn't Keith's place to intervene. Not when he had proper friends to do that, unlike Keith, who was just a scum.

He thought it'd be easier to spend time with Pidge and Hunk, now that Lance spent most of his time with Allura. But it wasn't the case. It was even harder than before if anything. The guilt was eating Keith alive, and he was miserable.

Just as he was wallowing in self-pity, his phone rang. It was Shiro. Keith's brows furrowed. It must've been around 03:00 A.M. there. Why would Shiro call him at that hour?

"Shiro? Is everything alright?"

"Yeah. Keith... Listen. I need to tell you something and it's really important."

"..?"

"I.... Decided to stay here."

"What?"

"You know... I like it here. It feels... Better. I want to move here."

Keith felt absolutely wrecked. Shiro wasn't going to come back?

"You're... Not coming back?"

"No... I mean, I'll come visit but I think I like it mo--"

Keith ended the call quickly, and threw the phone on the ground, as if it burned him. It didn't bother him in the slightest that the screen shattered, he felt itchy, his arms burning with the need to scratch.

He did just that. He scratched his arms like some wild animal, completely ignoring the sound of his phone ringing. He didn't want to talk to Shiro. He wasn't coming back. He left. Like his mother, like his father. He told Keith he wouldn't abandon him, but he did.

Keith was truly, utterly all alone in the empty room he and Shiro once shared.

★★★

Going to school proved out to be the biggest challenge of all. He had grown pretty apart with the people he once called friends, and no one wanted talk to him anymore. He had left the group chat a week ago, and they hadn't bothered to add him back. His phone's screen was pretty damaged, and he wasn't using it much. He never returned to Shiro's calls or texts, so it was just like an accessory to Keith.

He was starting to fail at the classes he used to be the best at, and his professors were losing hope in him. The last assignment he got a decent mark in was Kolivan's group assignment. And that was a long time ago. It felt like forever.

Currently, Keith was sitting on the rooftop, his favourite place in the whole school. It didn't matter that it was against the rules. No one needed to know where he was spending his lunch breaks.

What jolted him awake from his thoughts was a familiar voice. Though it seemee so far-fetched that Pidge would be here.

"Hey. Keith. I figured I'd find you here."

Keith looked up at her, she seemed cold and stiff as she approached him. Keith knew it was only normal. He had been avoiding them like plague, only being mean to them when they saw each other. Especially to Lance.

"You know, you're acting pretty shitty for a friend. If we knew you hated us this much we wouldn't force you to be friends with us in the first place."

"No... It's not that."

"Then what is it, Keith? Stop being a selfish bastard and talk to us already! You're ruining Lance with all your moody shit, everyone's sick of it!"

"Pidge... Look. I never wanted to hurt any of you. I'm sorry, nothing can justify it but I have reasons."

"Reasons like what?"

Pidge sounded as tired as Keith looked. It was probably hard on them too. Keith had hurt them without meaning to. He took a deep breath.

"You really want to know, Pidge?"

"Yes."

"Good. You remember that party two months ago? Lance was drunk, I was drunk, and we fucked. He moaned Allura's name when he was balls deep in me. I love him, to the point of obsession, and now he's dating the woman of his dreams. My best friend is at the other side of the world, and he called me last week to say he isn't coming back. To say he abandoned me when he promised he wouldn't. I die a little more inside everyday, and I just can't deal, okay? I'm sorry my depressed ass is making you uncomfortable, I'll make sure it doesn't happen ever again."

Keith got up, furious and sad. Saying them all out loud made them too real. Pidge just stood there, mouth gaping, surprised.

"Keith..."

"No, Pidge. I'm done, okay? Just forget all about it."

Keith stormed out of the school building, not even looking back once.

★★★

Keith didn't go to school next day. The day after that, too. Actually, when was the last time he went to school? It must've been a while. Keith was pretty sure he was kicked out already.

His phone was already in the trash bin, thoroughly broken by no other than himself. The only thing he took from his phone was Shiro's number scribbled on a little piece of paper. A part of him wanted him to come back to check on Keith, because he hadn't heard from him for too long. But the longer Keith waited, the more impossible it seemed. Maybe it was, since Keith wasn't where Shiro left him anymore.

The house he and Shiro used to share had never felt emptier, so Keith took the only thing that belonged to him -his sketch book and pencils- and left. He couldn't stand being alone in it. Instead, he walked for what felt like hours until he arrived at the only thing left of his parents, an abandoned little shack at the outskirts of the city, just like Keith.

It was barely in any condition to be used, but Keith didn't need it much anyways. He didn't do much anymore. He just slept, and if he remembered, he ate. Not that he had much to eat. Maybe he had done the wrong thing by leaving his job too.

He had zero inspiration, he had closed his Tumblr blog too. It felt like forever since he last drew something. The sunset drawing from when Lance had come looking for him still sat unfinished in the sketch book.

He felt truly isolated from the outside world like this. It was what he was worth. It was what he deserved. Like this, he lived like who he was. He was the abandoned orphan, and he'd always be.

★★★

Keith couldn't keep track of how much time had passed since he came here, especially without any means of measuring the time.

He was just wondering how he hadn't died of starvation yet. When did he last eat? When did he last shower? He didn't know. He didn't care. Nothing felt real. Like he was in a dream, and he'd wake up any second now.

But he didn't. It wasn't a dream. It was a nightmare that he couldn't wake up from, it was what his life was now.

His days consisted of lying in the same spot for ages and wondering why he's still alive, and sometimes get out to find stuff to eat and clean himself if he felt like it. The days he felt like it was rare.

He was afraid to look at himself, afraid that he would only see the shadows of who he used to be. It was pitiful, really. Because he already knew that who he used to be was long gone. He had already forgotten who he was.

★★★

Who are you? Why are you here? What are you doing? What day is it today? Did you eat? How long have you been lying there on the floor? Where are you? Don't you have anyone looking for you? Who is that tan boy that plagues your thoughts? Where is he? Why are you alone? Why, why, why? Whywhywhywhywhywhy---

★★★

It was completely by chance that he started drawing again. It was one of the rare days where he felt like it. He was walking around like a ghost in the house, to stretch his legs from lying on the floor for three days straight. He knew, because he has seen the sun set three times before he got up.

Currently, it was night time, the air chilling him to the bone. He had lit the gas lamp that looked fairly familiar for a little light. He had bumped into the table where his dusted sketch book and pencils laid.

Upon seeing them after so long, a part of the old him surfaced and his drawing spree began.

He was like a starved man, and he clung to this little part of the 'old him', as he claimed. For the first time in a long while, something felt right. The memories he buried deep in his heart surfaced little by little. A boy named Lance whom he was in love with. His best friend, Shiro. His passion for drawing. His name. Keith.

He drew and drew, until he couldn't anymore, until he ran out of pages with a heavy heart.

The only thing lingering at his mind was that unfinished sunset drawing.

★★★

It took Keith some time before he was able to find the beach he always went to when he was sad, the city felt completely alien to him. Just how long he had been away? Isolation did funny things to people.

As he approached the beach, his feet took him there by memory. However, there was someone in his claimed safe spot. Someone Keith was way too familiar with. Tan skin, chestnut hair, lean frame : Lance McClain. Keith's crush, his obsession, his muse.

He took a tentative step towards him, unsure of what to do. Lance quickly whipped his head around when he heard his footsteps, eyes widening in surprise.

"K-Keith..."

Many emotions flashed on Lance's face, happiness, hope, hurt, desperation... Then it settled on calm.

"I knew I'd find you if I waited here."

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why did you even want to find me?"

Lance's brows furrowed, as if he couldn't believe it.

"Keith, I'm pretty sure you didn't notice but you've been missing for four months. Plus twelve days. Pidge told me... some stuff and I wanted to talk to you, but I couldn't find you, it was like you suddenly vanished."

Keith didn't know what to say. A part of him wanted to be mad at Pidge, but he couldn't blame her. Now that he remembered what had happened, he just couldn't.

"Why didn't you tell me Keith?"

"How could I? How do you tell something like that to your crush? Especially when he's crushing on someone else?"

"I know, I just... I feel so bad about it... I knew you had a crush on me, and the drunk me used it to his advantage. I know I couldn't reverse it, so I thought if I acted normal everything would be the same again. Turns out it was a huge mistake."

"Wait... You knew?"

"Yeah... When we slept together you were mumbling about it..."

"Enough of that. How's it going with Allura?"

"It's not. I learned that she just wanted me as a distraction. We weren't meant to be."

"Oh... I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I learned that she was who I wanted, but not who I needed."

"And who do you need?"

"You, Keith. I know I haven't been the best crush you had, hell, I was probably the worst. I did some awful things to you. But I want to start over from scratch. Make this our first meeting, and this time make it right. Make you forget all about the bad things. We'll start off as friends, I'll be the best friend you ever had. I promise. I'm sorry."

"This reminds me of the time when you told me how cool it would be if we met here."

"The bonding moment?"

"Oh, so you remember?"

"Uh... Yeah. I do. What do you say?"

What did Keith say? He wasn't so sure of his feelings for Lance anymore. He wasn't sure of anything. He was lost, but Lance had come to find him. He wouldn't just forgive and forget what he had done to him. It didn't matter if he wanted it or not. The pain was just too much. But there was one thing he just knew, and it was the fact that he'd fall for Lance again and again, no matter the circumstances. He was willing to try again if Lance promised to treat him right.

He nodded, and Lance flashed him a bright smile.

"Hey cutie, the name's Lance. How about you?"

"Keith."

"Say, Keith, are you enticed by my charms yet?"

Keith let a smile tug at his lips before he replied.

"Yeah, loverboy. I am."