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kiss me (like it hurts)

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Their first argument is also the first time they meet.

Lance was slumped on Pidge’s couch, torso bending to matching the slope of the backrest as he manically jammed all the buttons on the controller.

“You do know that’s not how you’re meant to play, right?” Pidge sighed, picking out specific combos. “There’s a whole other range of better moves when you- fuck!” Yoshi keeled over, health bar at zero.

Lance grinned, watching Princess Peach jump up and down in victory. “Trust the process, Pidge.”

“In my whole life, I’ve never seen Lance play anything properly, but somehow he manages.” Hunk laughed and wiggled his fingers at Pidge. “Fess up.”

Grumbling, Pidge passed her controller over. “Whatever. I still have more wins than the two of you combined.”

Lance stuck his tongue out at her and selected Princess Peach again, while Hunk went for Bowser. Pidge got up to grab a packet of potato chips and threw herself down between them again. The game loaded up and soon the tv set was filled by Princess Peach hitting Bowser with the same roundhouse kick, intermittently jumping and ducking.

His health bar was halfway down when he heard the door opening. He didn’t think Pidge was expecting anyone, but he didn't turn to look, too focused on the game.

“Pidge, we’ve got a job for you- Oh, hey Hunk, hey Lance.” It was Matt, Pidge’s older brother who was definitely not a law-abiding citizen. Lance didn’t mind, he was pretty cool.

“Hey man,” he replied, eyes stilled fixed on the screen as he took advantage of Hunk’s distraction to deal some damage.

“Just leave whatever it is and I’ll get to it later.” Pidge replied, gesturing to her computer with the hand that wasn’t full of chips.   

“We’re on a bit of a short time frame here.” Came a new voice. “Like an as-soon-as-possible time frame.”

Lance felt Pidge sigh beside him. His health bar was running down to zero. “It’s important.” Matt spoke again, imploringly.

Pidge huffed. “Alright, but you’re paying me double for the short notice.”

“That’s fine.” Came the unfamiliar voice again. “Sorry to barge in.” He almost sounded sheepish.

“The extras can get lost.” This was another voice, someone who hadn’t spoken until now.

It took Lance a second to realise that they were talking about him and Hunk. “Nah.” He said, continuing to beat Bowser into a pulp.

“That wasn’t a suggestion.”

Lance shrugged, as best as he could in his near horizontal posture. “And I don’t give a shit.”

Hunk had long stopped playing, and Lance could practically feel him gaping at him. Lance took the opportunity to get a few more shots in. He was about to win.

“You’re about to give a shit when I throw you out of here.”

Lance laughed. “Try me.” Bowser was looking seriously sick, only a slim margin of health left-

The screen went blank. Lance looked up to find a smug grin smeared over the face of some asshole, the power cord dangling in his hand. “What the fuck, dude.” He spat.

The guy continued to grin, standing over him, grey eyes narrowed. “Time to go, princess.” His hair was black, long and tied back, the ends frayed to hell. There was a nick cut out of his ear, long since healed. He was wearing an old leather jacket, a patch sewn into the arm. The type of man his mama made him promise to avoid when he left home.

Hunk shifted uncomfortably, never one to enjoy conflict. “Lance-”

“Like fuck, I will.” Lance cut him off. He could hear Matt chuckle, from somewhere behind him. “I don’t care who you think you are, I’m not leaving.” To be honest, he didn’t particularly want to sit around while these gangsters went about their shady business, but it was more of the principle of the thing.

The man sneered. “You’re gonna leave, or I’ll-”

“Keith.” The sheepish man from before cut in. “They’re not doing any harm, just leave them be.”

The man - Keith, not the kind of name you’d expect for a gangster- scowled at them a final time, dropping the cord. He turned on his heel and walked over to the rest of his buddies, gathered around the computer while Pidge did her magic.

Hunk shoved him, and he let himself laugh quietly. He thought that that would be the last time he would see this Keith.

(It wasn’t.)

 


 

They were standing in a huddle outside the club, waiting for the line to move along. The air was cold, and Lance shivered in his so-thin-it’s-almost-mesh white shirt. He had made an anti-jacket when clubbing rule ever since he left his favourite bomber at the table to go dancing and never saw it again. It would be much warmer once they got in, anyway.

Pidge jumped on her toes. “I texted Matt, he said he’s busy at the moment but he’ll send someone down so we’re not waiting in the cold.”

Hunk cheered, but Lance’s stomach was tying itself in knots. He wasn’t sure if getting to jump the cue was worth affiliating themselves with the Galra. He worried at his lip, fingers tracing along the rips in his jeans.

It wasn’t long before Pidge was grabbing their arms and hauling them up to the door, “There’s our ticket in,” She said, grinning.

A few people grumbled as they walked past and Lance couldn’t help the small spark of satisfaction is brought. They arrived at the front to be met by none other than Keith, the guy who had tried to kick them out of Pidge’s apartment a couple weeks ago.

Lance blinked. “Oh, you’re that asshole.” The words fell from his mouth before he had any chance to catch them. Pidge elbowed him in the ribs.

“Oh, you’re that brat.” Keith imitated, managing to scowl and talk at the same time. His hair was out, this time, just brushing his shoulders. He had high cheekbones and a strong jaw. Lance could see the head of a bird tattoo peeking out from under the collar of his shirt. He realised that if the guy didn’t piss him off so much he would probably be attracted to him. “Not so firey now, are we?”

He felt his hackles raise. “Well, at least I can-”

“He’s trying to say thanks for coming down to let us in.” Pidge butted in, grinding his toes underneath her heel.

Keith scrutinised them for a second, then nodded to the bouncer, who opened the velvet rope barrier for them. Keith slipped back into the club, not caring if they were following. His shoulders were broad and well defined. Lance told himself to stop looking. “Welcome to The Arena,” Keith mumbled, then disappeared up a flight of stairs to what Lance guessed was the super secret gangster VIP area. Lance definitely didn’t watch the way his ass moved as he climbed up those stairs. Definitely not.

Although he might not like who owned it, Lance had to agree that The Arena was one of the best clubs in town. The sunken in circular dance floor was teeming with people already halfway drunk, while others sipped their drinks at comfortable couches above them, a fully stocked industrial bar wrapping along one wall.

The three of them stuck together for a bit, drinking and dancing like idiots. Then, Pidge and Hunk got wrapped up in an intense debate with some people from their engineering classes. Unable to take the physics jargon, Lance escaped to go sit at the bar.

After one too many Long Island Iced Teas that he definitely didn’t pay for, Lance was getting to know the guy sitting beside him well. His name started with a D, was most likely Damon, and he had spent long enough unashamedly staring at the curve of his neck and the long line of his legs for Lance to know what he wanted.

He drained the last of the alcohol from the tall glass and felt another burning gaze. He looked around, but people were mostly leaving the two of them alone. He shivered, not from a chill, but from feeling like he was being set on fire. He looked up, and there was Keith, staring straight back at him from the upstairs balcony. He had a scowl on his face. Lance wasn’t sure if he was angry at him, or the guy who currently had a hand on his knee.

Time to find out.

He leaned forward to whisper in Dave’s ear. “Do you like tequila?” He asked innocently.

That was how he found himself lying on a nearby table, the polished wood cool under his back, his shirt tangled around his arms above his head, a line of salt being poured towards his navel. A crowd began to gather, and he thought he could see Hunk snorting as he got his phone ready to record. Dean leaned over him and Lance giggled as he felt the tequila being poured into his belly button. Then, a slice of lime was pressed into his mouth and the crowd began to count down.

“-2, 1!” They yelled, and then there was a tongue tracing down the line of his sternum, catching salt as it went before the tequila was being sucked out of his navel. Then, wet lips were on his, the lime wedge between them. Lance was faintly aware of the crowd cheering as he tasted the salt and liquor out of the other man’s mouth.

Daniel broke away and Lance looked up again. Keith was still there, still staring with fire in his eyes. Lance smirked up at him. If Keith hated him as much as he would have him believe, he would’ve stopped watching long ago.

But that didn’t mean that Lance was going to stop messing with him. “Another!” He cheered, and the crowd cheered with him.

 


 

12/11/2017

(13:21) From: Unknown Number:

Lance, right?

(13:22) To: Unknown Number:

?who dis

(13:22) From: Unknown Number:

It’s Keith

(13:22) From: Unknown Number:

Pidge gave me your number.

(13:23) To: hot grumpy gangster:

oh heyy

(13:23) To: hot grumpy gangster:

lma o you text like such a grandpa r u sure ur not like 60

(13:23) From: hot grumpy gangster:

I’m 23?

(13:24) From: hot grumpy gangster:

And I text like a normal person

(13:24) To: hot grumpy gangster:

like a normal grandpa

(13:24) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

but go off i guess

(13:24) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

whyd the sudden contact my dude

(13:25) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

You live in the Newtown district right

(13:25) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

who aa thats some next level criminal shit

(13:25) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

thats a bit creepy ya know

(13:26) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

Pidge made us stop by your building to drop off some of your skincare

shit you left at hers so stop freaking out

(13:26) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

She said you couldn't function without it

(13:26) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

excse me no judgement thatnks

(13:26) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

No judgement

(13:26) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

Anyway you should stay inside this weekend

(13:26) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

whaaat

(13:27) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

im not just gonna do whatevr u say old man

(13:27) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

You should

(13:27) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

some ppl have a life ykknow

(13:27) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

Look, the streets are not going to be pretty

(13:27) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

I’m giving you a heads up that you should stay inside

(13:28) From, hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

Take it or leave it

(13:28) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

But if you go out and get hurt its not on me

(13:28) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

whoa chill old man

(13:29) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

ill listen to u this one tim eand this one time only

(13:29) To: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

ill just tell my hookup to come to my place no biggie

(13:31) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

Right

(13:31) From: hot grumpy grandpa gangster:

Sorry to get in the way of your sex life

(13:31) To: jelly??:

duuuuude omg chill it was a j o k e

(13:31) To: jelly??:

thers no hookup happenning

(13:31) To: jelly??:

pinky swear

(13:32) From: jelly??:

Okay

(13:32) From: jelly??:

I have to go

(13:33) To: jelly??:

ookay cya around old man

 


 

Lance woke to an insistent buzzing. Blearily, he opened his eyes, blinking away the last remnants of sleep as another buzz shook through his apartment. He checked his phone. It read 3 am. Who would be coming around this late? It was probably just some drunk guy at the wrong building. He wrapped his covers around his head, hoping that whoever it was would realise they had the wrong apartment and leave.

The buzzing continued.

Lance grabbed his extra pillow and squashed it over his head, trying to squeeze the sound from his eardrums. It didn’t work. It felt like the buzzing was rattling around his skull, and he knew that it would be impossible to get to sleep until it stopped.

Sighing, He heaved himself up and stumbled over to the panel beside the door. He pressed the call button. “Who the fuck is it?” He growled.

Heavy breathing came from the other end of the line. “Lance,” The voice rasped. “I need… I need to lay low right now. Let me up.” The sound quality was awful, but Lance would recognize that tone anywhere. It was Keith.

“And you thought I would be happy to let you in at 3am?” He hissed.

“You were the closest. Didn’t know that you slept like a log.”

Lance scoffed. “Fuck you, Keith.” He buzzed him up.

It took longer than he thought it would for Keith to make his way up, so that when the knock came, he was brimming with anticipation. He opened the door to reveal Keith, blood running down his face, from his nose, from his temple. There was blood on his shirt too, soaked and splattered and dirty. His hands, knuckles grazed, were half fists. Ready. “Jesus fucking Christ.” Lance breathed. “What the hell happened to you?”

Keith didn’t meet his eyes. “Nothing you wanna know.” He went to push past him. “I’ll sleep on the floor, and be gone in the morning.”

Lance stopped him. “You’re not stepping another foot in my apartment looking like that.” He sighed and pulled out a kitchen chair. “Here, I’m gonna have to clean all this blood off of you.”

Keith shrugged and gave him a small smile. Lance could see the blood clinging to his gums. “If it makes any difference, most of it’s not mine.”

Lance huffed. “It doesn’t.” He fished his old first aid kit that his mama made him take when he left home from under the sink, ripping it open and looking for antiseptic. He tried to ignore the slight tremor in his fingers. Keith said nothing, sitting at his kitchen table, head tilted to the side to not to let blood drip onto the linoleum. Finally, he found the bottle he was looking for and tipped some over a couple of cotton pads. “I hope this stings, dumbass.”

Keith, unfortunately, didn’t so much as wince as Lance furiously started cleaning the blood matted in his hair. A few minutes and many cotton pads later, he was able to uncover a cut an inch above his hairline, still bleeding sluggishly. Lance wondered what could have caused it, a knife, barely dodged; a sharp corner that his head was smashed against, a- Lance stopped himself. He didn’t want to speculate, didn’t want to know.

“I might have to cut your hair.” He murmured, trying to get a better look at the wound.

“You will not.” Keith hissed. “Just, like, put something over it and it’ll be fine.”

Lance hummed. “It’s a miracle you’ve made it this far without keeling over from an infection, but whatever.” He tugged a bandage out of his kit and placed it over the cut, then taped it in place with what was probably an awful job. Next, he cleaned the blood off his face, paying special attention to where it had run from his nose and into his mouth. Keith’s lips felt chapped underneath his thumb.

Lance tugged Keith’s bloodstained shirt off him and chucked it in the bin without a word. The ink wrapped over his skin stood out against his pale skin. He was mostly unscathed, aside from a long shallow cut across his ribs from where he must’ve been a little slow dodging the swing of a knife, or- no. Lance wasn’t going to play that game. He put another bandage on it and moved onto the hands. They were bloody, the knuckles swollen into what Lance was sure would turn into impressive bruises come morning. He doused a fresh cotton pad in the antiseptic and started to clean them, revealing only small cuts and scratches, much too small to warrant the amount of blood Lance had just removed. He added a giraffe patterned bandaid to the worst of the cuts but left the others alone. Lance ran a finger over the puffy skin absentmindedly. “I think we’re good. But I still think you’re a dumbass.”

Keith chuckled, and Lance realised that he had a gap between his two front teeth. “Thanks, Lance. I mean it.” Lance nodded. It was enough.

Silence hung between them. Purple light streamed through his kitchen window from the neon sign across the street, getting tangled in Keith’s hair and painted on the planes of his shoulders. He held his breath, afraid to disturb the moment. Keith’s eyes were on his, too soft to be coming from a dangerous man. Lance could see himself becoming caught in the gap in his teeth, pressed into the groves of his calloused hands, inked across his ribs. It should terrify him, the kind of terror of one looking into the belly of the beast.

But it didn’t.

 


 

Lance feels like his blood is simmering as he carefully steps out into the chill night over discarded bottles and silo cups. The world around him is swimming pleasantly. He can’t remember where he was going, or why he was leaving the party. He tipped his head back to count the stars, but only found one. He frowned. The stars were so much better in Cuba.

He was faintly aware of the rumbling hum of a motorcycle but paid it no mind, still focused on remembering why he needed to be outside.

The motorcycle stopped in front of him. “Oi, Lance.” It was Keith, tugging off his helmet and shaking that awful mullet free.

“What are you doing here, Keith?” He asked, softly.

Keith raised an eyebrow. “Forgetting already, sunshine?” He teased. “You asked me to come. You were upset about some shit, I dunno. Said you needed to get out of your shitty college party.”

Lance remembered now, the loud music, the shots, the people around him writhing and churning, Hunk long since passed out in a corner somewhere, an old fling trying to rekindle some flame between them that Lance wished would remain dead. He suddenly wasn’t enjoying himself, not with blurry strangers, not without Keith.

Because that was what things were coming down to now, wasn’t it?

Keith’s voice dragged him back out of his head. “You’re drunk. Come on, I’ll take you back to your apartment.” Lance didn’t move, eyeing the motorcycle warily. He had never been on one, didn’t trust it. “Get on, Lance. We can’t stand around all night, I’ve got shit to do.” Keith urged.

Lance felt his shoulders stiffen. “There’s no way in hell I’m just gonna hop onto that murder machine.” He retorted.

Keith sighed. “Just get on, Lance.”

Lance looked around, trying to figure out which way his apartment was. “No way. Thanks, but no thanks, mister criminal. I’ll take walking over probable death any day.” The right way to go was left, probably. Left seemed right. He started on his way, careful to skirt around any cracks in the pavement.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” He didn’t get far before he felt a hand grab his wrist, pulling him into Keith’s body. He stumbled, knee jarring against the warm metal of the bike, fingers of a steadying hand digging too deep into his ribs, the smell of smoke on Keith’s breath before he kissed him.

Lance gasped, falling into the kiss that was neither gentle or slow, but hungry, desperate, rough. Insistent, like they both wanted something, but wouldn’t admit it. Keith backed them against his bike, and Lance’s brain was too slow to catch up and before he knew it, his leg was being lifted over the saddle and the helmet slipped over his head as Keith’s lips left his. The bike roared, and he felt it move beneath him and he lurched forward, grappling around Keith’s waist for dear life as they set off.

“You’re an asshole!” He yells, as best as he can through the helmet. It smelt like Keith. He felt, rather than heard, the laughter run through his body.

He saw Keith’s lips move, but couldn’t hear what he was saying over the guttural engine. Buildings and lights whipped by, and the cold air felt like knives through his thin shirt, but Keith was warm.


“As long as you know what you’re doing,” Hunk sighed. “Then I’ll back you, no matter what. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to be ecstatic that you’re dating a gangster.”

Lance smiled at him. “That’s all I’m asking.” He promised. “Thanks, man.”

Hunk shook his head. “No need.” He nodded to something over Lance’s shoulder. “He’s here.”

Lance turned to see Keith walking towards them, shrugging off his jacket as he politely smiled at the cashier. He smiled at the sight and shuffled further into the booth as Keith slid in beside him, an arm naturally resting around his waist. He nodded at Hunk. “Hey, man.”

Hunk nodded back. “Hey.” Lance kicked him under the table. Hunk shot him a look. He was trying his best. “We might as well put our orders in now because Pidge’s always late.” He continued.

Lance hummed in agreement. “She only ever gets cold drip anyway.”

“I’ll get it.” Hunk offered, and they got up and joined the line at the cashier.

Lance turned to Keith. “What do you think you’ll get?”

“Americano.” Keith replied, fishing out his wallet. “What do you want?”

“Ugh what a boring drink.” Lance complained lightly as Hunk moved up to the counter. “And I’m not telling you what I’m getting because then you’d pay for it. I’m onto you.”

Keith rolled his eyes. “It’s not boring, it’s classic. And I don’t mind paying, aren’t you meant to be broke?”

“Not broke enough that I need a sugar daddy to pay for everything!” Lance protested. “You get your motor oil and I’ll get my coffee, deal?”

Keith didn’t reply, instead stepping up to the newly freed counter. “Can I get one medium Americano and uh,” He asked the cashier, squinting up at the menu, but seeming to give up on reading it pretty quickly. “The sweetest latte you have.”

Lance kicked him. The cashier laughed, and rung him up, handing over their number. He grumbled all the way back to their table, but couldn’t bring himself to be actually mad.

Hunk gave them a tight smile. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Lance upset that someone else is paying.” He joked lightly.

“Stop making it sound like I’m a leech!” Lance squawked.

Keith chuckled. “You are very good at forgetting your wallet at home.” He added.

“Don’t you join in!” Lance whined, spotting Pidge appear at their table, sliding in beside Hunk. “I pay for my own things all the time. I’m not a leech!”

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Pidge piped up, and Hunk roared with laughter.

Lance pouted, turning to Keith for sympathy to find his laughter gone, brow furrowed. “It’s a Shakespeare thing.” He explained.

“Right.” Keith said, clearly still not getting it. Their drinks arrived and Lance saw that the barista had piped a little chocolate heart onto the top of his latte.

“Aww, Hunk look, the barista drew a scrunched up leech on Lance’s latte because he’s a leech.” Pidge joked, snapping a picture of Lance’s exaggerated pout.

“It’s always nice seeing talented people drawing portraits of their customers.” Hunk quipped.

Keith snorted around the lip of his mug, reaching down to take Lance’s hand. “You guys are being harsh,” He said, and silence fell over the table, Pidge and Hunk freezing in their seats, unsure if he was joking or not. Keith leaned in closer to Lance and looked at him adoringly in the eyes. “I don’t mind you being a leech.” He said sweetly, Pidge and Hunk breaking into laughter.

Lance hit him.

 


 

“There is no way in hell that I’m going to sit through some shitty romcom with you.” Keith groaned, sinking into his white leather couch.

Lance huffed. “They’re not shitty! All you ever want to watch are action and horror movies. Shiro told me that you’ve seen the first Die Hard movie five times.”

“It’s a good movie.” Keith mumbled.

“Just try the first ten minutes of Legally Blonde.” Lance snuggled up to Keith and looked up at him imploringly. “If you hate it as much as you say you will then we can try something else as long as no one gets brutally dismembered in it.”

Keith’s lip twitched, and his arm snaked around Lance’s waist. “None of the words in that title are appealing to me.”

“Exactly!” Lance exclaimed. “Maybe you’ll learn something from these people who actually care about the law and take care of their skin, god knows you could use some-”

Keith cut him off with a kiss, and Lance couldn’t help but melt into it. Keith’s lips were hungry and demanding and Lance did his best to stand his ground but soon Keith’s tongue was pushing into his mouth, searching. Lance groaned, pawing at Keith’s chest as he suddenly remembered what they had been bickering about.

Keith’s left hand was on his back, palm supporting his spine but Lance could not feel his right. Lance broke away from the kiss, looking to the tv to find Netflix already powered up and ‘imsidioys’ typed into the search bar. Keith’s right hand dropped the remote guiltily. “So you thought that you’d kiss me for long enough to load up some horror crap and I’d go along with it?”

Keith shrugged. “That was the plan.”

“That was a shitty plan.” Lance told him, leaning over him to try and see where the remote was. It wasn’t the best plan.

Keith’s hands grasped around his waist, and lifted him up into the air, Lance squealing. Keith dumped him down so he was straddling his lap, nosing down his neck and nibbling at the sensitive skin. “You can’t just - ahh, make out with me until I agree to your choice.” He protested.

He felt, rather than saw Keith’s lips spread into a smirk against his neck, and then his skin was being pulled into Keith’s mouth and sucked hard into what Lance was sure would turn into an impressive hickey. Keith pulled off, tongue laving over the red swollen spot in apology.

Lance felt like a jolt had gone up his spine. Keith’s teeth scraped over his pulse point just right and Lance could feel the arousal swelling within him, couldn’t help but grind down onto Keith, eliciting a low groan. Keith’s hands slid down his back, landing on his ass, massaging the muscle there in slow, rolling movements. “You can’t fuck a good taste in movies out of me, you know.” Lance gasped.

Keith grinned at him, wild and sly, fingers moving lower and lower. “I can try.”

Lance scoffed, grinding down again hard on Keith’s rapidly hardening dick, revelling in Keith’s sharp intake of breath. “Two can play at that game.” He paused, looking over his shoulder at the TV, still on and waiting. “First to come has to watch the others movie?” He challenged.

There was a flush in Keith’s cheeks and a determined look in his eye. “You’re on.”

Lance ground his ass down on to Keith’s boner one last time before disentangling himself, pressing a hand to Keith’s chest to keep him still. He sunk to his knees onto the ground, in between Keith’s legs. Slowly, he dragged down Keith’s pants and boxers until his dick sprung free. He took the half hard length into his hand and looked up with big doe eyes at Keith, in a way that he knew drove him crazy. He pressed a light kiss to the tip, lips barely there as he teased the rest of the shaft with his fingers. Keith trembled, and finally Lance took his cock into his mouth. Keith’s precome was salty on his tongue as he worked his way down, bobbing his head, hand grasping what he couldn’t fit in his mouth.

He pulled off, Keith fully erect now, looking back up at him while licking his lips. “You enjoying that, baby?” He teased, before sinking back down over Keith’s dick, effectively cutting off Keith’s reply in a choked moan. The tip hit the back of his throat and he kept going, letting Keith’s dick slide down his throat until his node brushed against the fine curls of Keith’s pubic hair. He swallowed around the cock and looked up in time to see pleasure wash over Keith’s face, chin tipping back, lip caught between his teeth. A hand came down, threading through his hair to hold him there. He could feel his dick pulsing in his throat. Lance was going to win. He pulled back, tongue tracing a wave on the underside of his dick as he went, sliding off the tip with a small pop. He grinned at the sight of Keith’s gritted teeth and heaving chest. He was about to win. “Don’t hold yourself back, baby, we both know that you want-”

Suddenly, the world was whipping past Lance as he found himself once again lifted into the air by Keith, who dropped him face down onto the couch. The leather felt cool against his cheek and his sweatpants slid down easily past his hips, his boxers soon following.

“You look gorgeous like this.” Keith praised from behind him, sending a shiver up his spine. “I could tease you like this for hours. ” Lance could feel his hands on his ass, pulling his cheeks apart, rough calluses scraping across his soft skin. He felt Keith’s teeth dig in over the freckle on his left ass cheek, his tongue lapping over the mark hot and wet and slow. He felt that same tongue lick over his hole. “ Ohh my god you bastard.” He bit out, rocking his hips back into Keith’s face.

“Still with me, princess?” Keith chuckled, and Lance clenched his hands until his fingernails dig into his palms. Keith’s tongue delved into him, and a jolt travelled up his spine. Lance felt his back arch and toes curl. Keith devoured his hole, a hand reaching around to stroke his dick as he fucked him with his tongue. Lance whined, trying to hold back the heat that was taking him over. He had to win, goddamnit . “That the best you got?” He tried to sound confident and teasing, but the words that left his mouth turned into a choked whine. Keith hummed, and the vibrations went straight to Lance’s dick.

Keith’s hand left his dick and soon a finger was pushing in beside the tongue in his ass. Lance relaxed into the stretch, and soon another followed, spreading him open. Lance groaned, his legs shuddering, all caught up in his sweatpants. He felt so hard that he was about to explode, but he couldn’t give in now.

He was going to have to goad Keith into fucking him if he wanted to get the upper hand. He started rocking back onto Keith’s fingers and tongue, moaning wantonly. “ Fuck, baby, that feels so good.” He sighed, and Keith’s tongue was gone, replaced by another finger reaching further inside, brushing against his prostate.

Lance groaned. “I’m ready baby please, I want your cock.” He babbled, “I want you to fill me up.”

Keith growled, and the fingers in his ass disappeared along with the heat at his back. He heard Keith’s footsteps moving away, and he lifted himself up on his elbows, unsure if he had done anything wrong. Soon, however, Keith returned, pantless, rolling on a condom with one hand and uncapping a bottle of lube with the other. Lance smirked.

Keith warmed the lube up in his fingers before smearing it up and down his cock and then around Lance’s hole. “Ready, princess?” He asked, but Lance didn’t even have the chance to reply before Keith entered him in one smooth thrust. Lance groaned, clenching around Keith’s hot, pulsating shaft. Keith slowly pulled out all the way until only the tip was inside, then slammed back in, repeating his movements. Lance relished in the drag of Keith’s cock inside him, rocking back to meet his thrusts. He felt Keith kiss a line up his spine and he turned his head to meet him, their lips sliding across each other in a mess of gasps and tongue.

Keith’s fingers dug into his hips and his thrusts got faster and harder. “You feel so perfect around my cock,” He told him. “So tight, so hot.” Lance squirmed, feeling like his stomach was twisting itself in knots. The air between them felt charged with electricity and every touch tingled, as if he and Keith were two live wires.

Keith shifted his weight up onto his hands above Lance’s head and drove down into Lance with his body weight behind it until he was fucking Lance into the white leather. Lance felt the air shudder out of him in time with the thrusts and pushed back into it, not willing to give up so easily. He could feel Keith’s stuttering breath on the back of his neck and he knew that he wasn’t the only one that was close.

He tapped at Keith’s arm until the other man pulled off him, sitting back as Lance rose up and twisted around to face Keith. He straddled his lap, and, with a bit of fumbling, sat down on his cock, revelling in that feeling of fullness again. Lance dragged his shirt over his head, grinding down on Keith’s dick. He winded his arms around Keith’s neck and pulled him into a kiss as he started to bounce up and down. Keith cupped Lance’s ass in his hands, supporting his movements as he lifted his hips up to meet Lance’s down thrusts. Lance could see a thin sheen of sweat over Keith’s skin and he licked it up where it had pooled on his collarbone.

Lance moved faster, brought himself down harder. It was dirty and desperate and so right. He felt that low tightness and knew that he was close but so was Keith, flushed and groaning. Every drag up and down over Keith’s cock set off sparks of pleasure, and Lance let himself get lost in the feeling, in the gasps and groans, in the burn of his thighs and he pushed himself up again and again, chasing that glorious pleasure.

Keith’s hand wrapped around his dick and he groaned, overwhelmed by the sensations wracking his body. He felt heat building up in his loins and pushed himself faster, clenching around Keith’s cock, milking it for all he was worth.

Keith dug his thumb against his slit and that was enough to send Lance over the edge, shuddering through his orgasm, his muscles spasming around Keith’s cock, legs giving out beneath him and he landed fully on Keith’s lap. Keith grinded up into him for a few more seconds and released into the condom, hips juddering up into him.

Lance slumped over him, feeling entirely spent and fucked out, sweaty and sticky and dirty. He felt his breathing line up with Keith’s as they both came back to normal. He looked into those grey eyes and saw something soft, something adoring to match the ache Lance felt in his heart.

(They met in the middle and watched Date Night.)

 


 

Lance wasn’t expecting Keith to pick him up at the end of his late shift at the diner, so he had no warning when he glanced out the window to find him there, watching him closely as he and his manager cleared up for the night. Lance winced, hoping that Keith wouldn’t be able to hear through the glass.

“-can’t have customers complaining about your overbearing attitude, understand?” Lance looked down at the counter he was wiping down. “It’s embarrassing, you know? Especially when you act like you can do whatever you like, policy be damned. I don’t care that some kid was down, you don’t go around wasting tinfoil on silly toys like a 4th grader, understand?”

Lance nodded and started putting up the chairs. He looked outside again. Keith was still there, a frown on his face. Shit. Lance was too tired to argue with him. “-be careful with those, if you break one its worth a week of your paycheck, got it?” Lance nodded. He only had the mopping to do after this and then he could be out. “You’re a good enough worker, Lance, you just have to understand when to switch off, alright?”

Lance nodded again, rinsing the mop in the soapy water. His manager stood and watched him work, the kind of white man that was balding by his mid-thirties but combed whatever he had left over in denial. His shirts were always greasy and his breath stank. Lance hated working for him. “After you’re done here, the oil vats could probably do with a clean too, then you should be good to go.” Lance’s heart sank. It was late, he was bone tired, and had a presentation to do tomorrow. Cleaning the oil vats was the last thing he wanted to do.

The door swung open, the little bell chiming. His boss huffed. “We’re obviously not open. Go smoke or whatever elsewhere.”

“I’m not here to smoke or whatever .” There was anger in Keith’s voice, unsuccessfully smothered under a layer of sickly sweetness. “I came to pick up Lance from the end of his shift, which ended 15 minutes ago.” Lance looked up, but Keith’s attention was focused on his manager, a grin that was somehow both sharp and languid plastered across his face. He not-so-subtly rolled up the cuffs of the sleeves of his leather jacket, exposing the bottom of the Galran symbol tattooed on his forearm. “I’m sure that you’ll pay him for the extra time, though. You look like a good boss.”

His manager made an aborted movement at the knees, like he wanted to move but his feet were stuck to the floor. “I-uh. Will follow up on that. Lance, you’re free to go, the fryer can wait for another day.”

Lance let his lips pull into a thin smile. “Sure thing.” He put the mop back into his cupboard and grabbed his coat and phone, pushing past Keith on his way out. “Let’s go.” He muttered, stepping out into the night, grabbing Keith’s helmet from his bike and slipping it over his head. He didn’t want to talk about it, and Keith seemed to get the message, silently taking his place in front of Lance, and revving up the engine.

Lance wrapped his arms around Keith’s waist and they took off. Keith kept his head straight the whole way, but the tension in his shoulders and down his back gave him away. Lance could practically feel his blood boiling through his jacket.

The silence continued even when they arrived at Lance’s apartment black, and all the way up the stairs, up until Lance closed his door behind him, flicking on the light. He could feel the approaching argument warming up the air, knew it was inevitable.

Keith’s back was to him, but Lance was still able to hear him clearly. “I don’t know why you stick around working for a piece of crap that treats you like that.”

Lance sighed, taking off his coat and leaving it over the back of a chair. “It’s my job, Keith. I have to pay rent with something. Anyway, you can’t say anything about working for shitty people.”

Keith whirled around. “You can get a job somewhere else, and don’t you dare say shit about Kolivan, he’s done more for me than you know.”

Lance scoffed. “He hasn’t exactly kept you from almost bleeding out every other week has he?” He walked into the kitchen for a glass of water, trying to escape Keith’s gaze. “Just leave it, Keith, it’s too hard for a student to land a job in this city to be picking and choosing.”

Keith followed him. “So, what? You’re just gonna let that slimy shit walk all over you? You’re better than that, Lance.”

It was Lance’s turn to whirl around, slamming his glass on the counter. “I know I’m better than that! You think I’m fine with him saying that shit to me? You think that my skin doesn’t itch every time he’s unfair? That I didn’t want to throw one of those chairs at him?” They were standing chest to chest now, the air between them thick with emotion. “You don’t know me well enough. I need to keep this job, Keith.”

“Why?” Keith retorted. “That guy doesn’t owe you shit-”

“I’ve already told you I need the money for rent, Keith! And food! And books! I’m not about to be asking my parents for money when they already have enough mouths to feed-”

I’ll pay for your rent. I’ll pay for your food, and your books, as long as you never have to work for that asshole again.”

Lance went silent, taken aback that Keith would offer him that. “I can’t take your money, Keith.” He said eventually.

“Why not? I’ve got more than I need. It’s just sitting in a bank somewhere, you need it more than I do.” He reasoned.

Lance shook his head, stepping away. “I can’t take your money when I could just as well be making my own. I can’t be relying on you for everything, I need to support myself.”

Keith huffed and ran a hand through his hair. It needed to be washed. “Then I’ll help you get a new job. I’ve got contacts, all sorts of places that owe me a favour like this.”

Lance was already shaking his head. “I can’t go work for someone who’ll be constantly on edge, afraid of the Galra.” Keith opened his mouth to reply, but Lance cut him off. “It’s late, Keith. I’m tired and want to go to bed. You’re welcome to stay the night, otherwise it might be time for you to head back.”

Keith looked into his eyes for a long moment, full of a complex mixture of emotions that Lance couldn’t decipher just yet. “I’ll stay.” he said quietly.

Lance nodded. “Okay.”

He went and had a shower, washing the night’s work off him, hoping that the bitter taste left from their argument would flow down the drain too. He skipped his skincare routine, instead opting to dry himself off and slip into soft sweatpants and a baggy shirt. When he stepped back into the bedroom, he found Keith already lying down, flicking through something on his phone, changed into his own sweatpants that now lived in Lance’s apartment. Their eyes met and Keith put his phone down, but didn’t say a word. Neither did Lance, and he climbed into bed and lay down, facing away from Keith. His skin tingled, and it felt like his spine was filled with steel. He wasn’t getting to sleep anytime soon, and he could sense that Keith was the same. Their fight was replaying through his mind, every jab, every rash decision.

I’ll pay for your rent, for your books, and your food... The words would not leave him. The look on Keith’s face as he pleaded with him felt ingrained on the inside of his eyelids. Lance knew that he wasn’t afraid of loving Keith, had known that from the night Keith had come to his door, bruised and bloody. But maybe what he was afraid of was Keith loving him in return.

“I’m sorry.” He said quietly. “I know you care about me, and I care about you too. But there’s some things that I have to do on my own.” He couldn’t bring himself to turn around, didn’t need to, feeling Keith’s arm come to drape itself over his waist.

“Okay.” Keith said into his neck, and it was enough.

 


 

“Macchiato, please.” Keith said politely. Lance snickered. The girl behind the counter was obviously intimidated by Keith, in all his tattooed and pierced glory, and Keith’s attempts to seem non-threatening were hilarious.

He dug an elbow into Keith’s side. “Man, I can’t believe I’ve got such a boring boyfriend who orders such boring ice-cream.” He teased, taking a lick of his own goody-goody-gumdrops.

Keith wrinkled his nose at him, passing a bill over to the cashier. “What’s wrong with coffee ice-cream? It’s a classic.”

“But you can just get a cup of coffee if you feel like it!” He protested, “It’s weird, ice-cream is meant to be a flavour you can only get for ice-cream.”

Keith shook his head. “About as weird as your boyfriend dragging you out for ice-cream in the middle of winter?” he joked, turning to exit back into the street. “Besides, lollies in bubblegum ice-cream sounds like sugar hell.”

Lance sighed, following after him. “That’s the whole point, though. If you’re gonna eat ice-cream you’ve got to go as unhealthy as possible. It’s go big or go home.”

Keith laughed, shaking his head. “You’re unbelievable.” He linked his free hand in Lance’s. It felt right.

 


 

05/09/2018

(19:05) To: keefie*<3*<3:

i got us atable at the back beside th plant!

(19:05) To: keefie*<3*<3:

txt when you’re here

(19:06) To: keefie*<3*<3:

these soup dumplings are gonna blow ur world

(19:06) To: keefie*<3*<3:

nd mybe we’ll see about blowing smth else of yours later ^*^

(19:12) To: keefie*<3*<3:

??u good?

(19:13) To: keefie*<3*<3:

are you running late or smth?

keefie*<3*<3 missed your call.

(19:18) To: keefie*<3*<3:

keith??

(19:20) To: dumbass</3:

i stg if ur sleeping or smth

keefie*<3*<3 missed your call.

keefie*<3*<3 missed your call.

(19:25) To: dumbass</3:

the lady is giving me ths look like my tinder date has stood me up u

gotta come and save mee

(19:27) To: dumbass</3:

keith

(19:27) To: dumbass</3:

this isnt funny or whatever

(19:28) To: dumbass</3:

like if u matt and pidge are behind the corner filming this or sthm i

will break up with you

dumbass</3 missed your call.

dumbass</3 missed your call.

(19:30) To: dumbass</3:

just say if you cant make it jesus

(19:36) To: worst bf ever:

im just gonna order and eat and be that sad lonely person

(19:41) To: worst bf ever:

youre gonna have to pull big shit to make ths up to me

(19:41) To: worst bf ever:

like full on gifts and grovelling and shit

(19:41) To: worst bf ever:

i want like a small human sized teddy bear

(19:41) To: worst bf ever:

and ariana grande perfume

dumbass</3 missed your call.

(19:44) To: worst bf ever:

no bjs for a month for u

(19:56) To: worst bf ever:

these soup dumplngs are rly rly good ur missing out u jerk

(20:11) To: worst bf ever:

guess its good i didn’t wait any longer

(20:23) To: worst bf ever:

the lady just gave me some sweets w my egg tarts bc she feels bad i guess

(20:24) To: worst bf ever:

and im all embarrased bc i do have a bf

(20:26) To: worst bf ever:

bt he obvs doesnt care enough to show up or evn say hes busy

(20:34) To: asshole:

im going home now

(20:34) To: asshole:

if ur interested

(20:34) To: asshole:

in like

(20:34) To: asshole:

apologising or smth idk

(20:35) To: asshole:

just a thouhgt

(23:09) To: asshole:

ok so im still mad but im a bit worried now

asshole missed your call.

(23:11) To: asshole:

just text smth so i know you’re not dead and i can conitnue being mad

(23:16) To: asshole:

keith

(23:52) To: keith:

pls don’t be dead

keith missed your call.

(23:57) To: keith:

im tryn to sleep but all i can think about is you dead in an alley somewhere

05/10/2018

(00:02) To: keith:

I just need to know youre okay

(00:05) To: keith:

oh god i spent all that time cussing you out

(00:06) To: keith:

just tell me youre okay

(00:06) To: keith:

im so scared rn

keith missed your call.

(00:16) To: keith:

Keith??

(00:27) To: keith:

you cant be dead

(00:49) To: keith:

please

(01:37) From: keith:

I’m not dead

(01:38) To: keith:

oh thank god

(01:38) To: keith:

i was really worried

keith declined your call.

(01:38) To: keith:

what happened?

(01:39) To: keith:

are you alright???

(01:39) From: keith:

Lance

(01:39) To: keith:

like i would b so mad about dinner before but if you were knocked

unconscious id give u a pass

(01:39) To: keith:

yeah?

(01:40) From: keith:

something’s happened

(01:40) To: keith:

whats goin on??

(01:40) From: keith:

I’m leaving town

(01:40) From: keith:

don’t know when I’ll be back

(01:41) To: keith:

what the hell??

(01:41) From: keith:

I’m sorry

(01:41) To: keith:

what

(01:41) To: keith:

what do you mean im sorry

keith missed your call.

(01:43) To: keith:

keith?

(01:47) To: keith:

i dont understand

(01:50) To: keith:

so you thought youd say goodbye thru text?

(01:51) To: keith:

how am i supposed to know how long youre gonna be gone

keith missed your call.

(01:55) To: keith:

im not am i

(01:55) To: fuckin asshole:

this was a fucking breakup wasnt it

(01:59) To: fuckin asshole:

u fucking coward you couldnt tell me in person

(02:00) To: fuckin asshole:

u couldnt even tell me direcly

(02:01) To: fuckin asshole:

you talk abig game abt being fearless or whatever but really your just spineless

(02:04) To: fuckin asshole:

so i guess thats it

(02:06) To: fuckin asshole:

youre really jst gonna walk away

(02:08) To: fuckin asshole DONT ANSWER:

cya never asshole

(02:34) To: fuckin asshole DONT ANSWER:

god i hate u sm

Your message could not be delivered.

(02:35) To: fuckin asshole DONT ANSWER:

jesus christ youre such a dick i never want to see you again

Your message could not be delivered.

(02:35) To: fuckin asshole DONT ANSWER:

fuck off

Your message could not be delivered.

 


 

It was 8:20 in the morning, and Lance was about to be late for his business management lecture. He opened his door to find Keith, slumped against the wall across the hallway. He was clean, dressed in black ripped jeans despite the heat, a white and red shirt hanging from his shoulders.

Keith sat up, trying to catch his eye. “Lance-”

“Nope.” Lance panicked, ducking back into his apartment and shut the door, leaning against it and sliding down to the ground. What business did Keith have, showing up in front of his door over two months after breaking up with him over text? None, that’s what.

“Lance, please hear me out.”

Lance was going to complain to the building manager about the doors not being thick enough. He should not still be able to hear his ex-boyfriend’s voice through the door. He chanced a look through the peephole. Keith was standing in front of the door, now. There was a new scar on his face, stretching up from his jaw to halfway up his right cheek. It still looked pink and swollen, newly healed.

Lance ripped himself away. He didn’t care. He didn’t. He could have a new boyfriend by now, or a new girlfriend. It was only because school had been piling up that he hadn’t had the time to be going out and meeting the love of his life. Keith didn’t know that, but he had come anyway, happy to drive a wedge between Lance and his figurative significant other. What an asshole.

“Lance, you can’t hide in there forever.” Keith pleaded.

Lance eyed his window. He was only on the fourth floor, the jump couldn’t be that bad. He really needed to get to this lecture. His mind caught up with him, reminding him that yes, the jump would be that bad, and that yes, he was going to have to confront Keith at some point. That didn’t mean that it had to be right now, though.

Sighing, he stood up again, grabbing his bag and setting his shoulders. He could do this. He was going to walk out, tell Keith to fuck off, thanks, and then he was going to make it to his morning lecture. He had no time for boys with galaxies in their eyes telling him that they were sorry.

He opened the door, walking out quickly and making a beeline for the stairs, ignoring Keith as best he could. “Keith, I can’t right now. I have class.”

In the corner of his eye he could see Keith’s mouth open, shut, and open again. “Okay. I’ll be here when you get back.”

Lance let himself laugh. “I’ll try to believe you, but your track record isn’t great.” He reached the stair door, turning to see the hurt smeared over Keith’s face. Lance told himself not to feel guilty. Keith did deserve it.

And he left, honestly not expecting Keith to still be there when he got back.

He was proved wrong three hours later when he reached the fourth floor of his apartment building to see Keith still there, with the addition of a giant teddy bear and a bag from Macy’s. The memory of his requests of the gifts that night made his heart ache. “Keith, I don’t know what you think you’re doing.”

Keith shifted. “I don’t know how to say just how sorry I am, Lance.”

“Well, then think harder.” Lance huffed, grabbing the teddy bear and the Macy’s bag as he swept past into his apartment. He shut the door behind him and closed his eyes. Just when he thought he had gotten over Keith the man came back into his life, stirring up all those feelings again.

Because Lance still cared for him more than he should, and just the sight of Keith waiting for him made his stomach twist into knots. He wanted to hate him, wanted to despise him for leaving the way he could, but a weight in his heart wouldn’t let him, so he ended up hating that instead.

He sighed and dropped his work down, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on equity in the market at the moment. He opened the Macy’s bag and, sure enough, there was a bottle of the latest Ariana Grande perfume. He placed it on his dresser but didn’t dare smell it. He let the teddy bear rest in his armchair and went into the kitchen to make himself some lunch.

He soaked some rice noodles and used some curry paste to make a sauce, adding coconut milk and some vegetables from his fridge until it looked halfway decent, frying off a bit of chicken and adding it to the mix. Satisfied, he filled a bowl and realised that he had unconsciously made enough for two.

He looked over to his front door and groaned. He knew what he should do, what his mama had taught him, but that didn’t mean that he was going to like it. Reluctantly, he went over to his door and opened it a little, peeking out to see Keith sitting in his spot across the hall, looking at him expectantly. He gestured inside his apartment. “Come on,” He said, opening the door a bit wider. “I’ve made too much food.”

Keith nodded and stood up. “Thanks, Lance.”

“Yeah.” Lance said, turning back into his apartment. He poured the other half of the noodles into another bowl, grabbing some utensils and placing them on the kitchen table. Keith quietly sat down, thanked him for the food again, and started eating.

Lance twirled the noodles in his fork, deep in thought about how different this scene was from an identical one two and a half months ago, full of chatter, grins wide, ankles bumping. Now, they were silent. Lance kept his feet tucked underneath his chair.

The noodles were all gone before he knew it, unable to remember what they had tasted like. Wordlessly, Keith picked up both their bowls and moved to the sink. Lance couldn’t bring himself to stop him, feeling like he was stuck in his chair. He heard the water running and then the light thud of the dishes against the stainless steel sink. “Lance, there wasn’t a day that I was away that I didn’t feel shit about leaving the way I did, or just leaving in general,” Keith said softly, placing a bowl on the drying rack. “I would be trying to be going about my day and I kept seeing things that reminded me of you. I hated going to sleep because I could only see you on the inside of my eyelids.” Keith paused, and Lance swallowed, digging his nails into his thighs. “I thought I was going fucking crazy. I need you like I need breathing, Lance. I should never have let you go.”

Lance let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “I cried so much when you left, Keith. It seemed so easy for you to go, and I felt like I was such a fool for getting as attached as I was.” He heard Keith’s footsteps approaching. “I was so angry, and I wanted to hate you so fucking much. But I couldn’t.”

Keith knelt on the ground beside his chair. “I’m so fucking sorry, Lance. I just want to make it up to you. Tell me how I can make it up to you, I’ll do anything.”

Lance drew in a breath. “How do I know you won’t leave again?” He asked weakly.

“I’ll always come back to you.” Keith promised, taking Lance’s hands in his own, pressing a small hesitant kiss on his knuckles.

Lance felt the tears welling up in his eyes. “I’m still really mad at you.”

“I know.” Keith said, standing and drawing him up in a hug. Lance could feel his chest shuddering with every breath. “I’ll never stop being sorry.”

For the first time in a while, Lance felt as if his heart was beginning to heal. “I know.” He said, and kissed him softly.

 


 

Sometimes Lance allowed himself to ignore the gang side of Keith’s life so strongly that it slipped his mind. It was one such day that he realised that he had left his laptop at Keith’s apartment. He tried texting, but Keith didn’t respond.

He had a statistics tutorial in a couple of hours and he really needed his laptop for correlation graphs. He figured that Keith wouldn’t mind him quickly slipping in to get it with the key he had given him for emergencies. This was a kind of emergency, wasn’t it?

He got to Keith’s door, didn’t pause, didn’t hear the voices on the other side of the door. He turned the key in the lock and swung it open.

He was instantly met with a pair of scowls, two men crowding over him. “Who the hell are you?” one asked.

Lance spluttered, taken aback. He didn’t even have a chance to think before words were tumbling from his mouth. “Who the hell are you?”

A beat of silence resonated in the apartment. Then, suddenly, a bright, saccharine laugh filled the space, wall to wall. “Judging by the look on Keith’s face just now, you’ve got to be someone special.” The voice was unfamiliar. It sent a chill down Lance’s spine. He stood there dumbly, and the two men shifted on their feet, unsure. “Come on, let him in. I want to see who was Keith so riled up.”

The men shifted to the side and Lance realised that he had no choice but to be drawn in. He stepped inside, and the first thing that caught his attention was Keith, sitting stiffly on his couch, eyes locked on him, a strange mixture of anger and worry swimming in his pupils. The second thing that caught his attention was the stranger languidly relaxing in the armchair. He had long silver hair that looked professionally done, and was dressed in a fine, expensive looking suit. His smile was sugar sweet. It put Lance on edge. Finally, Lance saw a woman, leaning against the wall, dressed practically, hair cut short. She looked at him blankly.

“Ah, Keith, I had a feeling you were a man of good taste. That can be trusted.” The man spoke again, his eyes obviously running from the tip of Lance’s head to his toes. “Firey, too, to swear to my mens’ faces like that. What’s your name, then, Spitfire?”

Lance glanced quickly at Keith, who gave a small resigned nod. He swallowed. “Lance.” He said, tilting his chin up. He could feel this man’s power like a cloying heat, itching at his skin.

The man smiled wider. “Well, Lance, it’s nice to meet you,” He purred. “You can call me Lotor. Come join us, we were just celebrating! I’ve just told Keith some very good news.” Hesitantly, Lance stepped over to the couch and took a seat beside Keith. He kept his feet planted firmly on the floor. “You see, Lance, Keith has done a lot of good for this empire so I thought it best for a little reward, see? So he’s getting promoted! Isn’t that exciting?”

Lance made his lips stretch into a smile. “Well, done, babe.” Even he could hear that his heart wasn’t in it. He noticed a tin on the coffee table.

Lotor saw him notice it too. “Oh! Where are my manners? Help yourself, Spitfire.” He said brightly, lifting the lid of the tin off to reveal a gleaming white powder.

Lance felt himself recoil, tried to smother it but it wasn’t enough. “I don’t, uh-”

Lotor chuckled. “A bit shy are we? Don’t worry, I’ll leave it here for the two of you to explore later.” He winked at him and turned his attention back to Keith. “Yes, it’s a shame that you move out from under Kolivan’s wing, but we believe you’re more suited for higher profile work under Narti. I’m sure that you will succeed brilliantly.”

Keith hadn’t relaxed an inch. “I’ll do my best. Thanks for thinking of me, boss.”

“It’s my pleasure,” Lotor pulled up his sleeve to look at his gilded watch. “Is that the time? My apologies, Narti and I will have to go on to another appointment.” He stood up, and the woman who must have been Narti went to stand by the door. “Congratulations again, Keith.” Lotor’s eyes were on him again. “It was nice meeting you Lance, I’m sure we’ll see each other again.” Then, before Lance could register it, his hand was being swept up in Lotor’s and a kiss pressed to the back of it. His lips were smooth and cold.

The guards opened Keith’s apartment door and Lotor swept out, his entourage soon following. The air began to thin out, but both he and Keith sat exactly where they were. They heard the footsteps receding, and that saccharine laugh echoing down the hallway.

Some moments passed, and Lance didn’t know how to break the silence. He didn’t have to, because Keith was shot to his feet, grabbing the closest object -the tv remote- and hurled it at the wall. The sharp thud resounded throughout the apartment. Keith’s hands were clenched into fists, breathing heavy.

“Keith, calm down.” Lance rose to his feet, reaching for Keith’s shoulder. “It can’t have been-”

Keith shook off his arm. “What the hell were you thinking!” He spat. “You can’t just wander into my apartment! Are you really that stupid?”

“I tried texting you but you didn’t answer,” Lance tried, but Keith was on a roll now, fury roiling in his lungs.

“I didn’t answer because I was busy! Obviously! You should’ve known not to come, I thought you were smarter than that!”

Lance didn’t back down, his voice rising to match Keith’s. “I’m sorry, alright! I didn’t think! But you need to calm down-”

“That’s right, Lance. You never think! Now Lotor knows who you are.” He took a deep breath. “He owns everyone Lance, and you’ve just made yourself a part in that.”

Lance frowned. “I don’t understand, he was happy with you-”

Keith kicked the sofa. “Yes, you don’t understand! Because you don’t know shit about this life!” He turned his back on Lance, walking out onto the balcony. He gripped the railing until his knuckles turned white. Lance followed him. “That wasn’t a promotion, Lance. It was a warning. When you walked in, it turned into a threat.”

Lance stilled. “A warning about what?”

Keith shook his head. “It’s better if you don’t know.”

That’s what Lance had always wanted, wasn’t it? Not to know, to hold this dirty, dark side of Keith at arm’s length. Keep himself sleeping well at night. Love the man, not the monster. Slowly, so not to startle him, Lance laced his arms around Keith’s waist. He could feel his heartbeat, fast against his ribs. He rested his head between Keith’s shoulder blades. “I’m sorry.” He says, finally.

Keith sighs. “I’m scared. For you, Lance.”

Lance squeezed his arms tighter. “I’m sorry.” He said, again.

 


 

Veronica’s words were still echoing in his head.

But like, how well do you actually know this guy? Where did he grow up? What’s his middle name?... How could you think to fall in love with someone when they don’t share basic stuff like that with you?

The words had struck Lance in the chest like an iron bar, and he had indignantly ended the conversation. But now he was afraid that his sister was right. Because how well did he know Keith? He knew that he liked driving his motorcycle late at night, he knew that religiously drank vending machine coffee, and that he hated college parties. He knew that he was in a gang.

But Keith never talked about his past, or why he was a gangster, or what kind of life he would like to lead. He always let Lance fill the silence, had probably listened to the same story about Marco setting off the school’s fire alarm and water sprinklers ten times. When Lance would talk about his future Keith would nod along and offer insight but never talk about his own.

It was these thoughts that led him to be standing in front of Keith’s door. Keith had told him that he was free ten minutes ago but Lance couldn’t bring himself to open the door.

He was saved from his indecision by Keith himself, who swung the door open and raised an eyebrow at him. It looked like he had just had a shower, wearing only loose black shorts, his damp inked torso on full display. “I could hear you shuffling around out here from the bathroom.” He explained wryly, gesturing for him to come inside. “What’s got you so bothered that you can’t remember how to open a door?”

Lance stepped inside, looking out the windows at the city lights. “What’s your middle name?” He asked quietly.

“What? What’s going on?” He could hear the frown in Keith’s voice.

“Tell me something about you, Keith. Anything.” He implored.

Keith came up to stand beside him. “Why are you prying around all of a sudden?”

Lance shifted. “My sister asked how much I really knew about you and I realised that I didn’t. You never say anything about your past or your-”

“I thought you were much happier not knowing anything.” Keith cut him off. He sighed, running a hand through is wet hair. “You can’t have it both ways, Lance.”

Lance felt indignation fun hot through his veins. “What’s wrong with wanting to know my boyfriend’s middle name?”

“Jesus, Lance. You come in here asking about me when we both know that you don’t wanna hear anything about the bad shit I do. What am I supposed to do? Comb through my life for bits that are safe for you?” He heaved in a breath. “You only want to get to know a part of me. So what’s the point?”

Lance huffed. “Then drop the filter and tell me all of it.”

Keith shook his head. “ You said that you didn’t want to hear any of it.”

“And now I’m saying that I do.”

Keith gave a frustrated noise and moved away from Lance. He pressed the heel of his palm to his eye. “Maybe I don’t want you to know, then.” He said softly.

Lance went after him and looked at him directly, a hand resting on Keith’s shoulder. “Why?” He asked.

Keith shuddered. “Because if you knew the kind of shit I’ve done you would hate me.”

Lance was already shaking his head. “I don’t think I could ever hate you, Keith. You pick me up from parties even though you think they’re dumb, you bring me lunch in between classes even though you’re tired from work the night before and you watch romcoms with me even though you hate them.” He paused, searching Keith’s face. “I feel safe with you. You don’t have to tell me everything all at once now, but we can start”

Keith swallowed, dropping down onto the couch. Lance followed him. “Okay.” He said. He wrapped an arm around Lance’s back and stared off into space, collecting his thoughts. “My middle name is Jeongwon.” Lance curled up, leaning into his chest. “It’s my Korean name.” He explained.

Lance hummed. “It’s nice.” He rested his head over Keith’s heart, listening to it beat. “Where did you grow up?” He asked.

“Texas.” Keith replied, and Lance snorted. “What? What have you got against Texas?”

Lance grinned. “You’re a southern boy. Why have I never heard you say y’all?”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Anyway, I hate it when people talk like that.” Keith told him, his nose scrunching up.

They continued to talk as the sun dipped behind the skyline, everything from his least favourite teacher growing up to the different kinds of drugs he had encountered.

There was a small pause. Lance thought back to something that had been bothering him for a while. “Why are you in trouble with Lotor?” He asked, feeling Keith stiffen beneath him at the name.

“Someone leaked information that there was a couple of guys planning a coup.” He replied, rubbing a circle on Lance’s shoulder.

Lance looked at him. “Was the information right?”

“Yes.” Keith’s fingers stilled. “The informant disappeared and Lotor decided to start a witch hunt.”

“Did you kill him, the informant?” Lance held his breath.

Keith pulled him closer. “No, but I almost did. The guy is keeping his head down in Singapore somewhere.”

Lance nodded. “What happens if Lotor finds out that you’re one of the guys planning the coup?”

Keith shrugged. “Then either I’m dead or he is.”

The matter of fact words sent a chill down Lance’s spine. “Don’t you ever think about leaving?”

“I don’t think I could. It sounds stupid but they’re the closest thing I have to a family.” He paused, considering. “I don’t even have any qualifications.”

“I’m sure Kolivan would write you a dazzling reference.” Lance chuckled, Keith joining in with him.

Lance looked outside and realised that more time had passed than he thought. He found his eyes drawn to the ink wrapped around Keith’s body, opting to run his fingers over them. “What do your tattoos mean?” Lance asked, sleepily tracing the sparrow’s wing. He jolted upright. “Wait. Please don’t be one for every person you killed.”

Keith chuckled. “Nah, you watch too many movies.” He paused, and Lance looked up at him. “I get tattoos for the people I love, not the ones I hurt. Because they’re the ones I want to remember.”

Lance nodded, resting his head back down on Keith’s chest. “That’s a much better reason.” He followed the line of the sparrow’s beak to where it rested just over his pulse point. “Who did you get the sparrow for?” He asked quietly.

Keith was silent for a few moments, long enough for Lance to worry that he’d crossed a line. “My mother.” He said eventually. Lance hummed, not wanting to push Keith, but he continued. “She was in the Air Force, one of the few Korean women but she worked hard and was one of the best. Dad used to talk a lot about how amazing she was, inspirational, all that shit.” He paused again. “I got a sparrow for her because one day she flew off for a mission and never came back.”

Lance’s breath felt caught in his throat. “I’m sorry, Keith.”

“I never really knew her,” Keith shrugged. “I was young when she died.”

Lance nodded, feeling drunk on this newfound trust. “And for your dad?”

Keith nodded down to his leg, and lifted it up so Lance could see better. A wizened tree wrapped itself around his calf, the branches bare and crooked. “My dad was the main figure in my childhood after my mum died. Trees are for foundations and strength, so I chose one for him because he was all I had growing up and I looked up to him in everything.”

There was a pause. “Why do I feel like you’re gearing up for a sad ending?” He asked.

Keith chuckled, planting a soft kiss to Lance’s temple. “He was a firefighter, a real neighbourhood hero. People used to tell me that my dad had saved their cat, or their mom, their baby. They told me I should be proud of him, even when he entered a burning building and never came out.”

Lance wondered how one person’s life could be so steeped in tragedy. He wondered what would have happened to himself, in the same situation. “What happened after that?”

“I was just starting High School, so I was too old to be adopted but too young to look after myself. I went into state care.” He explained. “I hated it, all crammed into these houses with people who were losing their will to give a shit. I lasted ten months before I ran away. Became one of those street rats.” He paused. Lance’s heart hurt. He laced their fingers together and started counting the scars on Keith’s knuckles. “It was Shiro who picked me up off the street when he saw me in a scrap over a blanket with someone twice my size.” He chuckled. “I started out as a drug runner under him and worked myself up to where I am now. I owe him for everything. Without him, I would probably still be sleeping on the streets. I’ve got a lion for him, here.” He said, running a finger to where an intricate lion rested over his ribs, mid-leap. “For protection, family, all that shit.”

“They’re beautiful,” Lance said honestly.

Keith gave a laugh at that. “I’ve been to the same guy every time. The craziest person you’ll ever meet, got this whacky accent and flaming orange hair but he does the best detail work in the whole city.”

Lance smiled. “How about your sleeve, then? Who was so special to take up your whole arm?”

Immediately, he felt like he had said something wrong. Keith’s face closed over. “No one.” He said shortly. Lance decided to leave it at that, not wanting to push it too far, but Keith continued. “I got something for someone I thought I loved when I was still a runner and just finding my place. Loved him so much I put him right next to my mom.” His fingers were clenched, now, trapping Lance’s to his palm. “Turns out I was young and stupid and the guy screwed me and the others over. I went to Coran and asked for the best cover up he could do, but combined with the Galra symbol on my forearm the best option was to go for a full sleeve.” Lance ran his eyes over the Hangul, the koi trapped in the coils of a snake, the skeletal hand grasping a foxglove, all leading down to the brand that identified him as Galra. “I got some Korean shit, some gangster shit that I like the look of to fill the space. I wish they meant more to me but I guess the meaning is in what they’re covering up.”

Lance kissed the shoulder where he guessed the tattoo for his ex had once been. “I still like them.” He said honestly. Keith hummed in response. Lance felt like he was falling for him the more he got to know about his life, the good and the bad. “Thank you.”

Keith didn’t ask what he was thanking him for. He didn’t have to. He held him there, a little too tight, fingers a little too insistent. He was rough in the way he pulled Lance closer to him, or in the way he bit at his shoulder a little too hard. But he looked at Lance like he was the most precious thing in the world, and it sent a shiver up his spine. He came to realise that Keith held him so tightly because he never wanted to let him go.

 


 

It was a late Tuesday afternoon, the setting sun washing the landscape in gold. One second Lance was leaving the library, and the next he was being pulled aside in a rough grasp that Lance knew all too well. “Lance.” Keith gasped as he pulled him around the corner of the building. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. You weren’t answering your phone.”

Lance shrugged. “I left it at home because otherwise I never get any study done.” He frowned, noticing Keith’s freshly split lip, angry and red and painful looking. “What’s going on?”

“One of our guys flipped to Ezor so we have to act now. What was meant to be a quiet coup is gonna turn into a full-blown war.” Keith explained hurriedly. “I need you to go back to your apartment now and pack all your shit, okay? Enough for a week. Antok’s gonna come by and-”

“What?” Lance spluttered. “I have assignments, and exams to study for, my family-”

“This is more important than school, Lance.” Keith talked over him. “You can tell your family that you’re on a trip or something. I promise it won’t be for long.”

“And what about you?” Lance countered. “You’re just gonna go out and get yourself killed in an alley somewhere trying to overthrow Lotor?”

Keith was shaking his head. “I’m not going to die, Lance.”

“Would you, though? For Kolivan?”

Keith’s gaze was steely. “I would.” Lance scoffed, but Keith continued. “And I would die a thousand times to make sure you’re safe.”

“I am safe!” Lance protested. “I’m just some broke college student-”

“Lotor knows who you are, Lance. He’s done worse things than killing a defector’s boyfriend in revenge.” Keith shuddered, closing his eyes. “I need to know that you’re safe or I’ll lose my mind. When I couldn’t get hold of you this afternoon I thought I was already too late.”

“Keith…”

“Please, Lance.” Keith ran his fingers over Lance’s shoulders. “There’s a computer there, you can do your study, take all the books you want with you. I’ll make sure that you don’t have to wait there long.”

Keith looked at him with such intensity, such desperation that it made his bones ache from being unable to help him. Lance could see himself, reflected in Keith’s pupils. He wondered how Keith saw him. The fight was draining out of him and left behind nothing but love. “Okay.” He said. It was enough.

Keith nodded, and pulled him into his arms, crushing Lance to him like air to a drowning man. “Thank you. Thank you, Lance.”

Lance pressed his nose into Keith’s hair, scrunching his eyes shut. “Stay safe.” He said. Then, softer: “I love you.”

Keith held him tighter. “I love you, too.” Lance could feel something beautiful blossoming inside his chest. They let the moment linger.

It didn’t last long, however, and soon Keith was pulling away. “I need to go. Antok’s gonna be heading to your place soon and he’s gonna take you out of town, alright? Leave your phone and laptop, if Pidge can trace it someone else can too.” Lance nodded along. “If anyone knocks on the door, don’t open it , do you understand? If it’s one of our guys we’ll let ourselves in.” Lance nodded again, but Keith was insistent. “I need to hear that you understand, Lance.”

“I won’t open the door if anyone knocks.” He promised.

“Good.” Keith said and kissed him, hard and desperate. The coppery taste of blood filled his mouth but Lance couldn’t bring himself to care. He told himself it wasn’t a goodbye kiss.

 


 

.

.

.

Lance woke slowly. The world began to filter into his senses, the brush of linen against his skin, the scent of lilies in the air, a gentle warmth of the sunshine washing over him. He felt a hand brush his hair off his forehead and smiled.

He let his eyelids fall open and met Keith’s gaze, soft and adoring. Lance giggled, snuggling closer to Keith and lay a hand on his chest, lazily tracing the string of stars inked over his heart. Keith had got it for him after the mess with Lotor cleared. He felt drunk on the moment, lying next to his boyfriend, in their bed, in their apartment.

“Come on,” Keith rubbed his shoulder. “We should get up. You’ll want plenty of time to get ready.” Lance groaned, tucking his head into Keith’s neck, not willing to get up just yet. He felt Keith’s chest rise and fall with a sigh. “You’re gonna thank me for this in about an hour.” He promised, snaking his arms underneath Lance’s back and legs, lifting him up easily out of bed and across to the bathroom. Lance protested weakly but ultimately couldn’t funnel any heat into it.

Their clothes slipped to the tiled floor and they stepped into the shower together. Lance rubbed some shampoo into Keith’s hair and Keith ran the soapy loofa over his back in return. There was a time when hands would have wandered and Lance would have Keith’s cock in his mouth already, but now it seemed they had relaxed, content in just existing in each other’s presence.

They got out and started getting ready. Lance slipped on his tan trousers and crisp white button down, feeling the nerves begin to simmer under his skin. He easily tied his tie around his neck, running his fingers over the soft fabric.

He ducked back into the bathroom and fiddled with his hair, adding just enough product until it was tousled around his face. He drummed his fingers on the vanity and nodded to himself. He could do this.

He walked back into the bedroom to find Keith with a frown on his face, twisting the ends of his tie back and forth, trying to figure out how they went together. Lance chuckled, leaning against the doorframe. “Need some help?” He asked teasingly.

Keith looked over at him pleadingly. “Please.”

Laughing, Lance crossed the room and took the offending tie from Keith’s fingers. “I can’t believe that you don’t know how to tie a tie.” Lance mused, eyeballing how much length of the skinny tie he needed to start with.

Keith sighed. “Well, between my dad dying, bouncing around foster homes, living on the street, and then joining a gang it never really seemed to be a priority.” He rolled his eyes. “Yesterday was the first time I’d ever touched one.”

“All right, all right.” Lance muttered, wrapping one side around the other to start the half-Windsor his mother had long drilled into him. “You didn’t do too bad, papa might not like how skinny it is but the print is a winner.” The print was nice, an intricate gold diamond pattern printed on dark maroon silk, complimenting his navy blazer and clean cut white shirt well. Too well for Keith to have picked out himself. “Who helped you pick it out?” He asked lightly.

“I didn’t-” Lance levelled him with a steely look. Keith sighed. “I called Hunk in a panic and he met me in town and talked me through it. The guy has an eye for colours.”

Lance chuckled. “It’s nice that you guys get along so well.” He pulled the end of the tie through one last time and tightened it around Keith’s neck, stepping back to admire his work. He needed to wrestle Keith into a suit more often.

“All good?” Keith asked, turning to look in the mirror, straightening his already straight jacket.

Lance ran his hands over his arms. “You look great.” He said honestly.

Keith touched his tie, scrutinising it carefully. “You said your dad wouldn’t like that it’s skinny?”

“Don’t stress about it.” Lance implored. “You matter much more than the tie.”

Keith frowned. “Maybe they won’t like me.”

Lance was already shaking his head. “Keith no. They’re gonna love you, I promise.”

“But you don’t know, Lance.” Keith turned around. “What are they going to think about my tattoos, my scars? I’m terrible at first impressions.”

“Keith, listen to me.” Lance looked right into his eyes, seeing the nervousness swimming there. “When I told my parents about you, the first thing my mama asked was if you were good to me, if you were kind. That’s what matters to them, not the ink or scars on your skin.” He wrapped his arms around his shoulders. “I think I babbled to them for twenty minutes about all the kind things you’ve done for me without breathing, so they probably love you already.”

Keith let out a deep breath. He returned the hug, tracing shapes over Lance’s shoulder blades. “Okay, I feel better now.” He said honestly. “Thank you, Lance.”

“It’s okay.” he replied, turning to the mirror and giving himself a look over. His trousers hadn’t managed to get a smudge dirt on them in the ten minutes he had been wearing them. He was anxious that somewhere in the walk to the theatre he would contract a great big stain and not realise before he walked on stage in front of over a thousand people.

Keith’s voice cut through his musings. “Now, not that I have ever graduated, but I think you’re missing something.” He grinned at Lance in the mirror over his shoulder, fetching the cape and gown from their closet. Keith swept the black gown over Lance’s shoulders, arms coming around Lance to fasten it at the front, pulling his floral tie over the top. He fixed the rust orange hood and handed Lance the cap. “I’m so proud of you.” He said softly.

Lance felt the back of his eyes prickle, just a little bit. He turned back to Keith and kissed him, soft and sweet. He soaked in the moment. He was graduating, his friends were all going to be there, his parents were flying in from Cuba and they were going to meet Keith. Finally, it felt like everything was clicking into place.