“You, uh, doing OK in there, buddy?”
There’s a shuffling on the other side of the wall, audible even beneath the sound of running water, followed by a muffled and distracted grunt of acknowledgement. Lance almost forgot how much Keith loves his stupid-long showers. Not that it was a problem back on the castle, but the Lion’s reserves have their limitations, OK? Keith can be such a handful.
“If you use the last of my hot water we’re gonna have some problems man. I will lock your stupid face out in the middle of the storm. So. Don’t test me!”
Another muffled response, irritated this time.
“Geez,” Lance runs a hand over his face and drops back down on his bunk, the tense but assuring rumble of Red thrumming around him. She’s pleased to have Keith back on board. Traitor.
This planet was supposed to be a calm respite and all the amenities they could ask for: a breathable atmosphere, earthlike vegetation, and most importantly, no aliens trying to kill them.
Just turned out the weather was a little finicky, a lesson Keith learned the hard way in the middle of a hike through the wilderness when a dust storm hit. Then he’d waltzed into the Red Lion, all tired, covered in sweat, dirt, and muscles burning beneath his shirt — flippant about how Red was parked closer than the Black, like he still owned the place or something — and glibly interrupted Lance’s mid-afternoon nap.
What a day. Lance is still stewing over his ruined afternoon of alone-time when Keith emerges from the shower stall, wearing nothing but boxer briefs, toweling off his hair with all the goods on full display. And well.
The thing about Keith, you see. Lance has a problem.
He rakes his eyes up and down the line of Keith’s hips, down his legs, and back up his arms to trace the deep scar on his shoulder. Keith has a canister of salve in his hand, one they discovered could work wonders on sore muscles and Lance far less sympathy than he does a sudden urge to do it for Keith. God knows Keith is all bruised and sore from a minor scuffle they encountered on a former Galra outpost earlier in the day, pale skin scattered with splotches of purple. Not that Lance pays that much attention to it, except that he does.
And it takes Keith a full twenty ticks before he moves the towel from his head to notices Lance staring. For the record, Lance isn’t leering per se, it’s just hard to look away. When he’s… like that.
“Problem?” Keith asks, quirking an eyebrow. He’s trying to act annoyed, Lance can tell, but for a moment he almost appears self-conscious. Something about that burns.
“Uh… I was…” Lance swallows, eyes roaming back to Keith’s bare chest. He can’t help it anymore. That warm sliver of whatever the heck Keith’s presence spurs in the pit of his stomach flares up again. That itch makes him say stupid things and want even stupider things. Things like putting his hands all over Keith’s stupidly toned, perfect body.
So technically. This isn’t really Lance’s fault, now is it? This is Keith’s stupid fault.
And, well, Lance may as well go all in. No rest for the wicked, and all.
Keith’s still looking at him, expecting some kind of real answer and so maybe Lance panics. And when Lance panics, Lance talks. “So, uh ‘ya look a little stiff there. I could — um, I dunno — help you out, lend you a hand. Give you a little massage. Help you relax. Or maybe...?”
The words just kinda come out. They do that sometimes.
But it’s there, the suggestion is out there in the open. Can’t take it back now. Keith answers with a flat look, self-conscious hand moving to rub the back of his neck. He tilts his head in that way that makes him look more confused than exasperated, though he’s clearly the latter. It’d be funny if Lance wasn’t trying to get something from him.
“I’ll have you know these hands are magic,” Lance adds — because he likes death and dying — wiggling his fingers before folding them behind his head. It’s done. The suggestion is made. He lounges back down against the mattress and lets his legs sprawl out in front of him, all casual and cool. Keith needs a pretty hard sell so Lance has gotta make this look legit without being too obvious about it.
“Whatever,” Keith tosses Lance another bored look before settling down on the adjacent bunk, knees hanging over the side of the mattress. “I don’t need a massage from you.”
And oh good grief. Less than year ago just one subtle, little innuendo on Lance’s part and he probably could’a gotten away with this easy-peasy, just twisting it into some kinda competition. Lance has just gotta figure out a way to exploit this new, mellow Keith. This Keith’s harder to goad, less preoccupied, and calculated in a way that makes him hard to read. Lance can see the cogs turning now, but he’s nothing if not adaptable. So if Keith can't appreciate his natural charm then he's just gotta push the right buttons. This can work.
“Well, isn't it so nice to feel wanted around here,” Lance sighs. “Keith doesn’t need a massage from you Lance. I swear. Come on, dude. Throw me a bone. ‘M just trying to help.”
And he is trying to help, honest! Keeping the team together is hard work, thankyouverymuch, and requires at least a little acquiescence from all parties involved. A little give and take, if you will. This is about morale. This is about keeping Keith from being a grump for an entire evening while stranded and alone with Lance. Victory here's just gonna require some very careful prodding on his part. But if anyone can get Keith the right amount of riled up, it's definitely him.
There’s a terse silence just before Keith’s face falls. “No. I didn’t mean—”
And bingo. That’s where you twist the knife. Mr. Team Leader can’t stand being the root of the problem with one of his men.
Lance waves a dismissive hand. “No, no, no. I’m not needed. I hear you.”
Keith groans, a little impatient and a lot stubborn. But ha! Lance has him.
"It’s not that. I just. You do realize this involves you touching me, right?"
Duh. Now they're getting somewhere. "A sacrifice I’m willing to make if it’ll get you to loosen up for a hot minute."
Keith looks at him, dubious, a little torn, and maybe Lance is kinda being a dick about this. For what it’s worth, he questions his own motives but it’s not like Lance gets an opportunity like this every day. Give him a break. He could never, ever walk up and say something like this to Shiro, even if he’d wanted to do exactly that since, like, the ninth grade.
Nevertheless. This may be a stupid idea in retrospect, if the growing tension in Keith’s posture is any indication. Lance lets the suggestion float.
He keeps a straight face.
And Keith finally nods — after a century of awkward — waving Lance over. He kicks his legs up on his own bunk before flipping himself over on his stomach. His face is turned away from Lance, cheek resting on his arms that are folded beneath his head. There’s something uncomfortably Shiro about the way he flippantly acquiesces, but Lance decides not to dwell on that particular detail too hard. He’s won this round at least.
So. Maybe Lance didn’t plan too far past this point.
When Keith clears his throat, Lance kicks himself into gear. He climbs off his bed and steps to the opposite bunk. Now for the record, Lance didn’t factor in how he’d stripped down to a T-Shirt and boxers when he laid down to take a nap before Keith barged in. He didn’t technically consider this detail until right this second as he he climbs onto the mattress, one knee on either side of Keith’s equally bare hips. And suddenly, he’s feeling as half-naked as he literally is.
“So, uh,” he clears his throat when his voice comes out a little squeaky and tries the ignore the way his hands shake while rubbing the salve over his fingers. “I’m gonna, um, start. Now.”
“Sometime today would be nice Lance.”
Lance nods — which is dumb, Keith can’t see that — and places his palms flat against the base of Keith’s spine. At the touch, Keith draws in a sharp breath and it takes all of Lance’s self control to not do the same. He’s not especially clinical in his approach, pressing his thumbs up each disc until he reaches the sharp angles of his shoulder blades. He feels Keith relax and knows he’s digging in the right places, finding the right places where Keith aches.
They continue like that for a while and Lance’s body starts to switch over to autopilot. The room is quiet, uncomfortable in how unusual this is for them. There’s no argument, no bickering, no nothing other than the obnoxious thud of Lance’s own heart and the soft, quiet little sighs coming from Keith. Lance presses his fingers deeper into the meat of his back and Keith makes a sound that sounds entirely too close to a moan and Lance has to bite his lip.
Lance’s own breathing is uneven, shallow, and small tremors of desire betray his resolve. Heat burns from where his calves touch Keith’s thighs and he presses harder with is fingers, putting all his weight into each dig. Touching Keith feels good. That selfish part of his mind that orchestrated this whole mess takes over again, trying with all his power to pull another sound from Keith, to make him breathe harder and louder.
And one of Lance’s hands wanders a little, thumb edging right along his waistband, just to see what happens. Keith makes a low sound, face turning further into his folded arms and Lance’s heart thuds in his chest. He does it again, tries his best to play it off as an accident, but decides Keith doesn’t mind too much. That’s the logical conclusion he comes to anyway.
He’s about to move lower, grope Keith’s ass like the terrible, selfish person he apparently is—
“You’re being really quiet,” Keith says so suddenly that Lance flinches.
Keith’s voice is quiet, but even and Lance’s heart tumbles a little in the understanding he’s the only one stupid enough to be turned on right now. His intelligent response, “Uh…”
But Keith’s next move is the worst possible thing ever. He flips over on his back, giving Lance an odd look, one eyebrow raised. Lance makes an effort not to panic, hoping he’s not as flushed as he feels, and starts to scoot down the mattress so he can work on Keith’s legs.
“Um, Lance,” Keith sits up on his elbows, looking down between them. “Are you… are you hard?”
Lance sputters, rolling back on his heels and clamping his knees together. “Nope! No! Definitely not! Why would I even— Uh-uh! No way!”
Don’t make this weird. Don’t make this weird. Don’t make this weird.
“OK…” Keith frowns, furrowing his brow as he watches Lance flounder. “Then why are you so embarrassed?”
“You just asked me if I popped a boner! How— How else should I act?!”
Keith’s jaw tightens, his frown deepening. “You did though—”
“I did not!”
Keith groans and sits all the way up, running a hand over his face. A sign he’s reaching the breaking point of his frustration. Maybe new Keith isn’t so good at keeping his cool after all. Lance sinks further down toward the foot of the cot. God, this is embarrassing.
“It’s OK Lance. I’m not making fun of you. I just— If you want to— I dunno. If you’re into me or something, I don’t really care. That’s not—” he gestures in the vague direction of Lance’s crotch. “It’s not a big deal. It happens.”
Uh. Well… OK. Lance shifts a little, still trying to hide how he remains very much hard. Along with all pretense of innocent favor so goes the last of Lance’s composure. That Keith can sit there without an ounce of shame doesn’t help matters. Lance is a moron. An absolute idiot. And this is awkward.
He’s about to bolt from the Lion completely, beg Allura to let him sleep on Blue’s floor for the night, let Keith take Red back forever, and never speak to anyone on team Voltron ever again. He’ll move to some desert planet, live in an underground tunnel, and raise space chickens. Why did he ever think he could make a move on Keith and keep his dignity intact? Dumb. That’s what Lance is.
Oblivious, Keith lays back down with a hard sigh, all casual-cool as always, only furthering Lance’s humiliation. He pokes at Lance’s side with his big toe, nudging harder when Lance refuses to make eye contact. “Oh come on, Lance. I’m waiting on the rest of my five star massage here. Keep going.”
Lance gives him a withering look when he finally meets Keith’s gaze. “You want me to keep touching you even though staring at your ass turned me on?”
Keith shrugs, expression flat before he closes his eyes. “I told you it’s no big deal, didn’t I?”
His indifference, Lance decides, is intrusive. On some level Keith enjoys this, knowing how he gets Lance riled up, even if he’s unusually mellow tonight. There’s no other explanation.
So Lance is more than a little distracted as he returns to work and kneads the muscle of Keith’s calf. He knows he’s not doing a great job. Lonce wasn’t screwing around and he does in fact give great massages. This just isn’t one of them. If there was a way to go back and make this not-weird, he would. Keith at least deserves a fair bit of genuine pampering. Lance is a creep.
“‘M sorry,” Lance mumbles, venturing his touch only up to Keith’s knee. Maybe he can salvage this. “Feelin’ OK though?”
Keith makes low noise that doesn’t sound especially pleased or irritated and scoots down just a fraction on the mattress. He opens one eye, watching Lance carefully. “Was feelin’ better before.”
Lance nods and begins to relax again, telling himself Keith isn’t mad about Lance getting a little overstimulated by this very-much-platonic massage.
“So,” Keith starts after a few minutes of silence. He’s watching Lance now. “Do you like me?”
Lance frowns, leaning forward but opting to skip Keith’s thighs and goes straight to his abdomen. What comes out is a more loaded confession than Lance intends, “I… I never really hated you.”
Keith hums, stomach twitching a little when Lance hits a good spot. “I think you did a little bit. But you know that’s not what I meant,” he pauses and Lance’s face goes red. “Are you attracted to me?”
Lance keeps his eyes glued to Keith’s body, refusing to meet his gaze, and bites his lip. “I guess.”
“I, um,” Lance stops moving for a few seconds, frozen with his hands seated just below Keith’s chest. He thinks back all the way to the Garrison, questioning that surge of envy he got when he looked at Keith and wondered how much it was something else even back then. All he’d known at the time was that he felt something. He wanted something. It was easy to tell himself that something was only Keith’s respect, for the infallible Keith to see him as a peer. But the pieces started to click when Lance first piloted the Red Lion, back when they became almost-friends, and Lance found himself still wanting something. And well. He had what he thought he wanted. Just turned out that maybe he wanted a lot more than to be Keith’s almost-friend. Coming back to the very real prospect laying in front of him, he quietly answers, “I… I dunno”
“Fair enough,” Keith says and it’s not the response Lance expected. He finally meets Keith’s eyes and Keith is looking at him with a subdued smile. “I dunno when it started for me either,” he clarifies. “Especially since you’ve always been such a pain in my ass.”
Lance only realizes he hasn’t moved for an uncomfortable amount of time when Keith takes hold of Lance’s wrist and moves one hand over his chest. He’s trying to catch up with whatever Keith just said to him while his palm is guided across the expanse of muscle there. Keith takes in a sharp breath drops Lance’s wrist, eyes fluttering shut. And Oh.
So maybe Keith really is okay with this. Lance takes a steadying breath and brushes a thumb over one of his nipples. That earns him another soft intake of air and the ever so slight roll of Keith’s hips. So Lance does it again and this time one of Keith’s hands lands on his knee. The subtle touch only spurs Lance on. Only this time, Lance can’t think of a reason to be embarrassed.
When he repeats the motion for the third time, a quiet, low rumble rises in the back of Keith’s throat, his jaw falling slack. And yeah, Lance wants some more of that. This is hot. New Keith is hot.
He drags his hands back down Keith’s ribs, leaning back enough he has room to run his knuckles over the bulge in Keith’s boxers. It’s a bold move, even though the touch itself is feather light. When he does, Keith’s length twitches beneath him and God, that’s cute.
He doesn’t have much time to contemplate. By the second touch Keith hooks a leg around Lance’s waist and flips himself over so he’s straddling him, knees hugging his hips. Lance runs his hands down Keith’s spine, lets his fingers dig into the skin until his palms run over the swell of his ass. There’s determination in how Keith kisses him, everything stubborn and decisive coming to the surface, and Lance just lets him take over.
He fumbles with Lance’s shirt, pushing it up over his ribs. Everything goes a little blurry at that point. Keith pushes a knee between Lance’s thighs and grinds against him, biting at the skin above his collarbone, and Lance’s fingers dig into the skin on Keith’s back. Then Keith trails his mouth down Lance’s sternum, over his stomach and Keith pushes his boxers down over his hips. For a split second, Lance is self-conscious, back curling slightly to twist away at having his naked cock so close to Keith’s face.
But then Keith’s mouth is on him. He rolls his tongue over the head of Lance’s cock once, twice, and then three times before running wet kisses down the length. Lance is on the verge of having a full-on religious experience by time time Keith’s lips close around him.
Lance has had exactly three blow jobs in his lifetime and he’d never gotten this close, this fast.
“You should— Keith. If you don’t stop, I’m gonna. You need to—” Lance grips the sheets, heels digging into the mattress next to Keith’s knees. His tongue flattens out on the underside of Lance’s cock again and he pulls back, sucking at the head while he works his hand up and down the shaft going faster with each muffled groan Lance makes. He tries not to thrust into Keith’s mouth, but he knows he does it a little anyway. Keith doesn’t seem to mind it. “OK— OK. Don’t stop. Keep going, keep going, please keep—”
Lance makes a strangled noise as he comes and Keith pulls of right as he does, the warmth of him spilling over his stomach. He’s still panting, coming down from his orgasm when he belatedly realizes Keith has scooted up over Lance’s waist to kiss him — rough, sloppy and wet — and he’s jerking himself over Lance, panting into each kiss. By the time his brain catches up with him and he thinks he should probably be doing something to help Keith along, Keith is already coming across his chest with a heavy moan.
Keith falls on top of him, tangling his hands in Lance’s hair to kiss him on his face, his jaw, and down his neck.
“Well, that was…” Lance breathes, laughing a little despite himself.
“That was something,” Keith finishes for him.
The exchange lazy kisses, smiling between each, until the afterglow fades enough that they can no longer stand the stickiness between them. After taking their turns in the cramped shower stall, Lance digs a couple pairs of sweatpants from one of the boxes stuffed in the back his makeshift bedroom.
Warm, comfortable, and still lingering in a post-coital haze Lance climbs into the bunk Keith had chosen for himself, leaving a deliberate space for Keith to crawl in next to him. That earns him an eye roll and soft muttering of course you’re a cuddler, but Keith folds himself in the small space beside him anyway.
They lay in quiet for several minutes, Keith’s nose tucked against Lance’s neck and fingers absently rubbing along Lance’s hip bone. They’ll set out again as soon as the weather improves and Keith will go back to the Black Lion with his mom, and Shiro and—
“Hey,” Lance starts in a soft voice, reality beginning to dawn on him. “Is this gonna change things? Are we gonna be okay?”
Keith is still for a moment and Lance wonders if maybe he fell asleep. Then, “I mean. Well, kinda? I guess it doesn’t have to. Do you not want it to?”
“No. I just…” Lance makes a vague gesture that Keith isn’t paying attention to. He turns his gaze and gets a face full of mullet. The only thing Lance can think is that Keith’s hair smells pretty nice. “I don’t wanna make things weird because we, you know.”
“It’s not weird,” Keith cuts in and there’s an edge of finality in his voice.
“‘Kay,” Lance yawns.
And New Keith reminds Lance the future will be alright.