It was war. Keith had made it very clear. Lance wouldn’t back down.
It had all started because of Pidge. Lance wanted to get her, not Keith. But Keith had to be nosy; Keith had to meddle in affairs that didn’t concern him. So it was Keith who got glitter bombed. But it was his own goddamn fault and everyone knew it. Two days later Lance woke up to his entire room covered in sticky notes. Including the bed he was sleeping on. Including himself.
Never mind how had Keith managed to do that while Lance was asleep; how and where did Keith find that many sticky notes in space was the real question, but Lance didn’t let himself get affected by it. He didn’t even bother removing the sticky notes from every single surface possible - there were sticky notes inside the pockets of his jeans and jacket and Lance kind of hated Keith for it, but he wouldn’t admit that that had actually annoyed Lance. Shiro, on the other hand, did get very annoyed whenever a sticky note would end up in a common area of the Castle of Lions because someone who had been in Lance’s room had gotten it stuck to their shoes or clothes and had accidentally taken it somewhere else.
Lance refused to take them down; he hadn’t been the one to put them up - a fairly good argument that Keith hadn’t thought of when he had been forced to clean glitter from one of the hangars. Shiro made Keith do it. Hunk and Coran felt sorry for him and helped him out, while Lance lied still on his bed, eyeing Keith with a victorious grin on his face.
“You’re dead, McClain.” Keith had hissed at him before leaving he room, in a tone only Lance could hear.
“Sorry, I didn’t quite get that. Did you just threaten me?” Lance asked, grinning and Keith clenched his jaw. “You’ve got nothing on me, Kogane.”
“Just you fucking wait.” Keith answered, hands into fists and his knuckles getting white already. Oh, that was dangerous, Lance thought. “This is war now.” Keith had said; all the letters, all the words. That was all Lance needed. His grin widened.
“Bring it on, samurai.” Lance had said and Keith had left without another word.
Lance waited for two more days, already planning all of his moves. He would need a bunch of material he wasn’t sure he’d be able to find. He would need to convince some people to help; Pidge would do it, but Pidge would probably also do it for Keith; Hunk probably wouldn’t, but maybe Lance could trick Coran into helping him somehow; Shiro was absolutely out of limits and probably so was Allura. He had everything planned out in his head; he had even written it down so he was sure he would win this war.
Keith made his move again on the third day after the sticky note cleaning. Lance understood that, for Keith, him having skipped the cleaning had been his move; it hadn’t, but Lance was fine with that. He was fine with Keith thinking he had planned more than he really had. Keith’s move was surprisingly small comparing to the sticky notes. Lance was really thirsty after a particularly exhausting training session, so he went to the kitchen to get something to drink. The first thought Lance had was that Shiro was going to murder Keith. Everything liquid they had was coloured black and seemed sticky. Lance wouldn’t dare touching any of those things.
“Your move.” He heard Keith’s voice from the kitchen door, but he was gone when Lance turned to face him.
Lance decided to take a shower and drink water there. Luckily, Keith wasn’t crazy enough to do anything to the shower water, so Lance managed to quench his thirst and get himself clean. The next day, all liquids were back to their natural ways in the kitchen and Lance was surprised that Shiro didn’t seem stressed at all. What did that even mean? Didn’t matter; it was his turn and he had a plan.
He waited for a week. He could see every cell of Keith’s body shivering with anticipation. That was part of the plan, of course. But he also needed time to go to the space mall and get everything he needed for his future pranks. So he took his time and his time lasted seven days. Surprisingly, Lance managed to find most of the things he wanted in the space mall. The ones he didn’t were things he could improvise. He had decided to start small too, but not that small. So Lance built a puppet of a clown, knowing how much Keith hated clowns, and managed to get Hunk to help him set said puppet into Keith’s wardrobe in a way it would jumpscare him the second he grabbed anything from it. Of course, Hunk did it under the condition that he would be allowed to help Keith once too and that was it, no more getting him involved.
Keith didn’t show up for breakfast that morning and Lance wondered whether he would be found dead or concussed on his bedroom floor later on. He almost felt guilty. Almost. He would have, if any of those things were actually possible. They weren’t though, so it was fine. When Lance saw Keith again, after he had trained and showered and was ready to take the rest of the day off, he felt a shiver run down his spine; Keith had smiled at him. He had actually smiled. At Lance. As if nothing was wrong. Lance wouldn’t admit it, but that was terrifying. Keith seemed unaffected and Lance was terrified. So he went to Blue’s hangar to chill a little; Blue always managed to calm Lance down and that was what he needed. Keith’s retaliation could come any time now and he was already anxious; Lance almost felt sorry for having made Keith a whole week for his move. Almost being the key word.
Apparently Keith acted by impulse rather than by plan, Lance found out that night when he went for his skin care routine and all of his creams and products had been replaced with some weird space goo that he was sure he shouldn’t put on his face. He was going to murder Keith. He knew that they were at war, but that was a whole other level. If Keith wanted this war to be cruel and vicious that was exactly what Lance would give him. Lance needed to be smart, though, so things didn’t backfire. His next move took him around four days. He needed time, space and he needed Keith not to be watching him. And Keith was constantly watching him now. It felt weird. It surely didn’t make Lance’s heart beat faster or anything. It was just weird.
“Hunk.” Lance elongated the vowels of his best friend’s name and Hunk sighed.
“No.” He answered right away.
“You don’t even know what I’m asking you.” Lance said and pouted. He knew that was playing dirty; he knew Hunk was weak against him pouting and making puppy eyes.
“Hell no, Lance. I love you, but no.” Hunk closed his eyes and put his hands on Lance’s face. “This is none of my business. I don’t want to be involved.”
“I just need you to distract him for me. Pleeeeeaaase!” Lance said, trying to free himself from Hunk’s hands on his face - which, by the way, was dry as a desert thanks to a guy who wore a mullet. “I need one hour, one hour only.”
“Just one hour.” Hunk sighed. “And you won’t ask my help with this anymore.” Hunk opened his eyes and let go of Lance’s face. Lance smiled wide, nodding. “Deal.”
“Thanks, bud, you’re the best!” Lance hugged Hunk and he sighed again.
“So I’ve been told.” Hunk answered and Lance frowned a bit. Hunk shrugged. “You have one hour starting now.” After that Lance bolted to his room, making sure to check whether Keith was in his or not and finding that he wasn’t. That was good.
Lance started moving everything into Keith’s room. Thousands of pastel blue balloons, some filled with just air, others with helium and some had glitter and glue inside. In case Shiro made him clean up, it would be easier than pure glitter, but also a little gross. He had twenty more minutes when he put the final ones inside of Keith’s room and closed the door, jumping at a noise that came from behind him.
“Fuck.” He turned to face where the noise came from. “Shiro.” Lance’s eyes widened for a second. “I can-“
“I don’t want to know...” Shiro sighed. “Just make sure whatever it is it doesn’t affect us or the common areas.”
“Yes, sir.” Lance answered and Shiro pinched the bridge of his nose before walking away and sighing, muttering something under his breath from what Lance only managed to understand the words ‘kids’, ‘unnecessary’ and something he probably misunderstood. There was no reason for Shiro to say that word. At all. Lance and Keith were sworn enemies. Maybe colleagues. That was it. There was no ‘pining’ involved. Lance had obviously misheard Shiro’s muttering.
Lance walked back to his room and waited, door open so he could hear it. And, by god, did he hear it. He couldn’t contain his laughter when he heard Keith’s voice scream his name. Keith sounded angry and Lance cracked. It was just a few seconds before Keith was at his door, throwing some balloons into Lance’s room.
“Sup, mullet boy?” Lance asked, ignoring how Keith was obviously trying to aim a few balloons at Lance.
“I hope you suffocate on these.” Keith answered, walking away and bringing some more. Lance head him growl right after one popped and when he showed up again Lance was hit on the head by a chunk of mixed glitter and glue. “You’re a dick.”
“I thought this was war.” Lance shrugged and threw the chunk back at Keith, who grabbed it with his hands and turned it into pieces that he threw all around Lance’s room. “I’m not cleaning that up.”
“Well, let’s hope it isn’t toxic.” Keith answered and got back to his room, then back to Lance’s with more balloons, popping the fee he could see had something inside and throwing the chunks at Lance.
“Just to be clear: is this your move, or?” Lance asked, avoiding being hit again.
“Oh, you’re going to wish it was.” Keith grinned and Lance felt that same shiver through his spine. “This,” he threw another chunk at Lance “is just an impulsive and petty revenge.” Lance chuckled, not quite believing Keith had just admitted he was impulsive and petty and probably not even realised it. “And it’ll be just the beginning; this will only stop when you yield, McClain.”
“I guess we’ll be at war forever.” Lance answered and grinned. “Unless you yield. Maybe I’ll be merciful then.”
Keith glared at him and left his room for good, closing the door behind him. Lance waited, relishing on the faint sounds of balloons popping somewhere not too near and not too far from him.
The following weeks Lance’s hair was blue and Keith’s hair was unevenly bleached; Pidge had jumpscared both of them; Lance had walked around the castle with “Hetero and proud” written on the back of his armour - which was, decidedly, the most offensive thing Keith had done to him-; amongst other things. At first, after every prank one of them would be laughing their hearts out while the other would be annoyed, but after some time something had changed. After a particularly good prank they would actually laugh together about it and brush it off, off to their next move. Especially when something went wrong. Keith tried to glue metal pieces that wouldn’t stop making noises to Lance’s jacket and ended up gluing himself to it at some point; Lance tried to make Keith’s bath water run cold, but he ended up messing up with Pidge’s water and Keith had to actually help him hide from her wrath.
They had grown closer and no one was minding their stupid war anymore. People even started finding it fun after they had stopped being so intense about it and started taking it lightly; they even got Shiro to help with some of their pranks too. It was nice, Lance thought as he was hiding from Pidge in Keith’s room. Keith was reading something and Lance was lying by his side, on Keith’s bed. One of Keith’s hand was absentmindedly playing with Lance’s hair and Lance secretly never wanted Keith to stop. After about two hours, he figured the gremlin’s wrath would be smaller and manageable, so he decided it would be wise to leave Keith’s room.
“Thanks.” Lance stood up, stretched and walked towards the door, stopping right before opening it up. Keith was watching him the entire time. “Your move, I guess.”
“Nah, you can have another shot.” Keith said and smiled, standing up from his bed and walking up to Lance. Lance scratched the back of his head, a little uncomfortable because that smile made him feel things in the pit of his stomach. “I mean it. To comfort you after Pidge kicks your ass.”
“Awn, Keith, you wanna comfort me?” Lance half joked, pretending his heart hadn’t skipped a beat with the thought. Truth be told, he had grown really close to Keith in the past month and a few weeks. Too close to Keith. Close enough to have to deny that some of his pranks that resulted in him having to spend time with Keith had been miscalculated on purpose. Close enough to get really flustered at first when they accidentally touched hands or knees, but also close enough that they would always end up either holding hands or playing with each other’s hairs – because that was Lance; with everyone. And, apparently, that was Keith with the people he was closest to too.
“I thought that was clear.” Keith answered, grimacing a bit. Lance swallowed loudly and Keith immediately cracked a grin. “Sorry, I said it was your turn and I took it from you.” Lance tried really hard not to look hurt, but he knew himself better than that and he knew he was an open book. So he turned his back to Keith and forced a laugh out of himself.
“Always cheating, aren’t you, mullet man?” Lance fake chuckled. “We’re not done yet.”
“Not until you yield.” Lance thought there was something weird in Keith’s voice. He really wanted to turn around and ask him what was wrong, but he was scared to. So he just opened the door and left the room; for some reason he would rather face Pidge’s inevitable wrath than have that conversation with Keith.
Two days later Keith went out on a mission with Shiro and Pidge. That was it. That was Lance’s chance. So he took it. He took it very, very wrong. It hadn’t been on purpose. Not that time. It really hadn’t. But Lance had planned things wrong and he ended up trapped on Keith’s bed. The door was closed and every possible centimetre of Keith’s bedroom floor was filled with cups that were filled with water. And Lance was stuck on Keith’s bed, contemplating every single life choice that had led him to that particularly low point in his life.
Stuck in space, in a prank war with his rival-colleague-friend or whatever they were at that point and on his bed because Lance had been dumb enough to trap himself there. He had no idea how long it was going to take them to get back and he really didn’t want to involve anyone else that time or they would give him shit for the rest of his pathetic existence. So Lance decided the best course of action was to nap. Napping was always the best way to avoid dealing with things.
After some time the door opened and Lance woke up with Keith’s voice.
“What the-“ Lance didn’t want to face him, but he had to, so he peaked, raising his head a little bit. “Oh my God.” Keith burst into laughter.
“Shhhh!” Lance shushed him. “Oh my God, shut up!” He said and Keith only laughed harder in response. “Shut up, Keith!”
“You’re trapped.” Keith was crying from laughter and Lance wanted to pull an ostrich and burry his head in the earth. “Shit, Lance. This is…” Keith put his hands on his stomach and took a deep breath, trying to calm down. “I need to tell Pidge.”
“No!” Lance whimpered, sitting up on Keith’s bed, holding the blanket strongly in his hands. “Please don’t.” Keith wiped his tears and took a few deep breaths, trying really hard to calm himself down. “Please...” Lance asked again.
Keith was visibly trying to contain his laughter as he took some cups out of his way and drank the water from a few others, so he could make space for himself inside his room and close the door behind him. Lance was grateful for that, but he hated how as soon as the door was closed, Keith had burst into laughter all over again. Lance could understand; he would be doing the same if he was in Keith’s place. But he hated it. Because he wasn’t
“Oh, man, this is priceless.” Keith said as well as he could; he took his communicator from his pocket and pointed it at Lance. “Say cheese, sharpshooter.”
“Keith!” Lance cried out and tried to hide his face with Keith’s blanket, hoping he had done it in time not to be caught. He heard Keith sighing and taking a few more very deep breaths. “Please don’t send anyone that.”
“Yield.” Keith said after a while and a few more deep, very deep, breaths. Lance uncovered his face and narrowed his eyes. Keith had his arms crossed in front of his chest and a smirk on his face. “Yield and I’m not telling anyone. I’m not calling Pidge here right now. And I’m helping you out of there.”
“Never.” Lance said and Keith raised one eyebrow, showing Lance the photo. It had caught Lance’s face. Fuck. “Keith, please. Have mercy, man.”
“Yield.” Keith’s smile widened, wickedly.
“That’s not fair winning.” Lance tried his luck, but Keith didn’t catch the bait, only shrugging in response. “That’s blackmailing.”
“That’s leverage.” Keith shrugged again. “Yield.”
“I could’ve escaped. I was trying not to make a mess of your room!” Lance tried again. Change of tactics, he was good at that. He had a bunch of siblings, he had to be good at fast thinking.
“A mess you would’ve had to clean, not me.” Keith pointed out. “So you were just trying to save your own skin. I’m giving you ten minutes to decide and then I’m sending everyone the photo.” Lance whimpered. Keith was vicious and cruel and Lance had no idea why he liked him. “What?” Keith asked and Lance frowned.
“What?” Lance repeated the question, very confused.
“What did you just say?” Oh no. Lance tried not to let his eyes widen and his face to get hot and his breathing to get unsteady. He obviously failed. Cursed expressive face he had. “Did you say that you l-“
“I yield!” Lance screamed as loudly as possible to stop Keith from finishing that sentence. Keith winced at the volume and almost dropped his phone. “I yield. You won. Ha ha. Dumb, dumb Lance tried his best, he tried all his tactics, but Keith was superior as always.” Lance fake chuckled and Keith frowned.
“Since when?” Keith asked and Lance decided to play dumb. He was not meant to have said that out loud. He was not going to admit that to Keith.
“Since right now. Didn’t you hear me? I yield. I just yielded.” Lance fake chuckled again. “Now please help me out.” Lance said and Keith nodded.
“Start drinking then. We’ll make a path for you to come to the door.” Keith answered in a low tone and Lance wanted to vanish from the face of the earth. He started drinking instead, trying to ignore how Keith was still watching him. They were both focused on their tasks, but Keith didn’t take his eyes off of Lance for a second.
It was only when they were almost done that Lance realised Keith would need to move out of his way for him to leave the room. And Lance was under the impression Keith wouldn’t do that willingly. Fuck...
As they finished making the path, Lance and Keith both stood up and Lance avoided looking into Keith’s eyes. They were close to each other. In all the senses of the word. They were physically close as of that moment, but they had grown close too. And Lance didn’t want to lose that.
“You need to move for me to go, you know?” Lance said, almost whispering and trying to control his voice so it wouldn’t break.
“Look at me.” Keith asked and Lance tried, but he couldn’t. “Lance, please...”
“I yielded, okay? What else do you want?” Lance snapped. “Isn’t this whole shit humiliating enough for me as it is?”
“Please look at me.” Keith asked again. Lance did so this time. Keith’s fingers ghosted Lance’s face. “Since when?”
“I...” Lance sighed and closed his eyes. “Don’t know. A while?” He heard Keith hum. “Look, it’s okay… We can just pretend nothing happened. I don’t want to make things weird or anything. I…” Lance sighed and bit his lower lip for a second. “I’m sorry.”
“About?” Lance tilted his head so it would touch Keith’s fingers, or at least where they has been just a few seconds before. Keith’s hand was cupping Lance’s cheek in no time after that, thumb caressing Lance’s cheek lightly. Lance didn’t want Keith to let him go. “Are you for real?” Lance bit his lower lip and nodded. “Hey, look at me.” Lance shook his head. “Lance, please.” He complied. Keith’s voice was so soft, so sweet... And Keith was smiling so genuinely. Lance’s chest felt warm and hurt at the same time. “I like you too.”
“What?” Lance’s voice broke. “You do?” He took his hands to Keith’s face and Keith nodded, chuckling very lightly. Lance felt Keith’s skin and tried to calm down his nerves. “Since when?”
“It’s been a long time.” Keith admitted and Lance could feel the tears coming. He was happy. Keith liked him. He liked Keith, who liked him back. He felt like he was going to explode. “Are you...”
“It’s okay. I happy cry. Ask Hunk.” Lance said and sobbed, smiling widely. “Can I...” He touched Keith’s lips with his thumbs and followed their lines. Keith smiled back at him and nodded. “Okay...” Lance licked his lips, not taking his eyes off of Keith’s, took a deep breath and took his hands to Keith’s hair, closing the space between both their lips.
Sure, he had lost the war. But he had won something much, much better.