1. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
It’s Lance’s first day at his new job, and he’s a little nervous.
...Okay, more than a little nervous. The building he’s working in is huge , filled with all kinds of different people. Which, normally, Lance would love. He loves people, all people. Talking to them, flirting with them… But he’s also going to be working in the HR department, which means dealing with cranky and/or annoyed people. Luckily he’s going to be working on the 8th floor, away from most of the foot traffic, so hopefully any and all yelling will only be over the phone instead of in his face.
He makes his way across the busy foyer to the elevator and presses the button to summon a car. When the ding sounds after a few moments and the doors slide open, he’s followed in by another person.
Without looking away from the panel of numbered buttons, he asks, “Hey, where you heading?”
A slightly raspy, masculine voice replies, “8th floor.”
“Oh cool, me too.” He turns to look at the man standing next to him and is met with long dark hair tied back in a neat ponytail and a pale, angular face framed by large dark glasses. “The name’s Lance, by the way.” He holds a hand out to shake.
The man takes it and shakes it firmly. “Keith,” he states, and Lance is struck by how pretty the stranger’s — Keith’s — eyes are.
“Nice to meet you, Keith.” He grins broadly and is rewarded with a small smile, accompanied by the faintest of pinks on Keith’s cheeks.
“Likewise.” A man of few words, apparently, Lance thinks. Thankfully, Lance usually has enough words for pretty much everyone.
He quickly digs for an easy topic. “How long have you worked here?”
“This is my first day, actually,” Keith replies, shuffling a little bit where he stands in the opposite corner.
“No way! Mine, too!” Maybe this Keith guy will be working in the same department as him. It’d be nice to get a head start on befriending all of his coworkers. “HR?”
From the way Keith’s nose scrunches up (adorably, he might add) when he asks this, Lance can guess the answer. “No, data entry.”
Now it’s Lance’s turn to scrunch his nose. “Oof, sounds rough.”
“So does HR,” Keith quips, raising a teasing eyebrow.
Lance huffs out a laugh. “Touche.”
The elevator dings — reminding him that he is, in fact, on an elevator with a finite destination — and the doors slide open, revealing a swath of cubicles. He takes a deep breath, then glances over to Keith, who also seems to be hesitating. “Shall we?” Lance asks, gesturing grandly to the scene in front of him.
Keith looks over at him and quirks another small smile. “Lead the way.”
2. You Are So Beautiful - Joe Cocker
Keith is interrupted from the book he’s reading by someone calling his name.
“Hey, Keith!” He glances up to see the same man he met on his first day jogging up to join him as the elevator doors open. “Fancy meeting you here,” the man — Lance? — says, doing some weird… motion with his eyebrows. Keith is wholly confused.
“...We both work here,” he states, wondering if Lance had somehow forgotten. But— no, that doesn’t make sense if he remembered Keith’s name.
“No, I—” Lance starts, face making another strange expression before he sighs deeply. “Yes, yes we do.” He sounds resigned, and Keith is no less lost than before.
They have a few moments of not-too-awkward silence when Lance turns to him again. “Hey, wanna muffin?” he asks apropos of nothing, pointing to the bulging faux-leather messenger bag he has over one shoulder. “My roommate made some and they are literally orgasmic.”
Well. He’s certainly never heard food described like that before, but he’s also one to never deny free food. ( Especially from cute boys , his traitorous brain definitely doesn’t add.) “Uhm… sure?”
Keith has no idea what he did to make Lance’s face brighten the way it does, like the sun breaking through the clouds, but he is extremely grateful regardless. “Cool!” Lance exclaims, the ding of the elevator indicating that they’ve reached their destination. “Follow me to the break room and I’ll stick one on a plate for you.”
“Okay.” As if pulled by a magnet, he follows.
3. I Want to Know What Love Is - Foreigner
Lance is not having a good start to his day. He barely slept last night, and between waking up this morning and pulling into the staff parking lot, a marching band took up performing inside his skull and behind tired eyes. The bright lights of the foyer aren’t doing him any favors, and so he ducks his head and trudges into the first open elevator, leaning against the back wall without really paying attention to who else is in the car with him.
“Hey, Lance.” He doesn’t need to open his eyes to tell who it is. They’ve frequented the break room together and stopped by each others’ desks enough times now for him to recognize Keith’s voice.
“Hey, Keith.” He tries to sound cheery, but the silence that follows makes him think that he didn’t quite pull it off.
“...You look like shit.” Yeah, definitely didn’t pull it off.
Lance opens one eye and glares at him half-heartedly. “Gee, thanks.”
Keith glares right back. “What’s wrong?” he demands.
“Nothing, I’m fine.” Keith clears his throat in a way that clearly states I don’t believe you, now tell the truth, dammit, and Lance rolls his eyes, wincing at the sharp pain it sends slicing through his skull, before closing them again. “Just tired. And a headache.”
There’s another pause and Lance thinks that maybe Keith is finally going to let him suffer in peace.
Keith’s voice, when he speaks, is quiet, softened around the edges. “I have some extra strength Excedrin at my desk. You want some?”
Lance peeks over at him again, surprised at the gentle tone. Keith’s looking at him, brows furrowed in genuine concern, and suddenly his head isn’t the only thing that’s aching. “You know what? It couldn’t hurt.” Keith’s shoulders seem to loosen a little, and he sends a small half smile in Lance’s direction as the elevator dings and the doors open.
“Hopefully it does the opposite,” Keith lilts. The ache in Lance’s chest pulses. “C’mon. We’ll swing by the break room first and get you some water.”
He smiles gratefully at the man in front of him. “Thanks, Keith.”
4. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
Keith approaches the elevators and sees a familiar figure standing there, waiting for the next car. What the figure is wearing, however, is not familiar. And when Lance turns around to greet him, exposing him to the full atrocity in all its horrific glory, Keith can’t help it. He snorts, loud and ugly, and bursts into a fit of laughter as they enter the elevator car.
Lance doesn’t seem annoyed, thank god, just confused and maybe slightly concerned. Keith also notices a slight flush to Lance’s cheeks and wonders if perhaps his “outfit” is a little too warm for the well-heated building.
“I see you got the memo about today’s… dress code,” Keith finally manages through his laughter.
Lance crosses his arms in defiance. “And I see that you completely ignored it. Where’s your holiday spirit, Keith?”
Keith huffs. “Nonexistent.”
“Aw, come on,” Lance pouts (and no, Keith does not think it’s cute) before jabbing a finger in his direction. “You’re telling me that you don’t own a single ugly holiday sweater?”
“Nope.” Keith shrugs and nearly bursts into laughter again at Lance’s affronted face.
For a moment he thinks that Lance is going to start lecturing him about the here’s and there’s of being suitably festive, but Lance just gives him a long scrutinizing look before stating, “We’ll have to change that.”
Keith gives an equally scrutinizing look back, though he thinks the effect may be ruined since he can feel the corners of his mouth quirking up against his will. “If you say so.”
And then, much to the horror of Keith’s poor heart, Lance downright smirks . “Oh, I absolutely say so.” Before Keith can begin to process the palpitations he is suddenly having, Lance starts to bend an arm behind him awkwardly. “And,” Lance continues, slightly strained as he stretches, “so do the lights on my sweater.”
There’s a nearly imperceptible click .
“Oh my god.” Keith is awestruck. Somehow, impossibly, the thing that Lance was calling a sweater manages to get even uglier as what he had originally assumed were fake colored lights begin flashing brightly and almost nauseatingly out of sync. “That thing actually lights up,” is what he says instead. Because while knows he can be an asshole, he’d rather throw himself off the roof of the building than do anything to diminish the joy that is so obviously radiating off of Lance.
The elevator dings and Lance walks out backward, winking and sending him finger guns as he says, “Not as bright as you, baby.”
It is hands down the most ridiculous thing he has ever seen, and it’s causing his heart to perform some serious acrobatics.
Keith thinks he might go fling himself off the roof anyway.
5. Eternal Flame - The Bangles
Lance sees Keith already in the elevator and rushes to stick his arm in the closing doors so they can catch a ride together. “Hey, Kei—” Lance finally gets a good look at Keith and is stopped midword by the sheer force of fuck everyone and everything exuding off of Keith. “Whoa,” he breathes, eloquent as always. “Who pissed in your cheerios?” And tactful. Don’t forget tactful.
“Leave me alone, Lance.” The words are harsh, and normally that kind of tone would immediately press his buttons. But before Lance can retaliate, he notices that Keith’s eyes appear to be red-rimmed. Like he’s been crying.
Instantly, Lance softens his demeanor and asks quietly, “Seriously, are you okay?” He resists the urge to put a comforting hand on Keith’s shoulder.
Keith clenches his fists and takes a heavy breath through his nose. “Drop it, Lance.” A gritted command.
And while Lance knows that he can have a tendency to push too far, he also knows — somewhere down in his gut — that this is a time to push. “No, something’s obviously bothering you—”
“Lance, I swear—”
“I’m not gonna make you talk or anything,” he interrupts, cutting Keith off before he can get really riled up. “Okay? So just calm down for a second.” When it’s obvious that Keith is grudgingly going to let him say his piece — at least, for the moment — he continues. “What I am going to do is drag you to the break room and make you some tea and feed you some of Hunk’s homemade persimmon cookies because if anything can make you feel better, it’s gonna be those little nuggets of heaven. Okay?” He watches Keith carefully with a bittersweet smile — sees the way his shoulders loosen the tiniest bit, sees the way Keith glances at him carefully through dark bangs that have fallen into his face, searching.
The elevator slows down beneath them, and as the chime rings out and the doors open, Lance is suddenly afraid that he’s once again pushed when he shouldn’t have.
“Fine.” It’s quiet, barely audible over the indistinct chatter and ringing phones that they can hear through the open doors. But it’s enough, and Lance smiles gently before loosely wrapping a hand around one of Keith’s wrists.
“Come on, let’s get you some tea.”
6. Soul Provider - Michael Bolton
As Keith goes to press the button on the elevator, he is greeted by sunshine incarnate.
“Morning, Keith,” Lance exclaims, beaming at him; Keith nearly staggers from the force of it.
He responds with a lame, “Morning,” and mentally smacks himself in the face. C’mon, Keith, use your words.
“How was your weekend?” Lance asks as they both step into the elevator.
He thinks about hanging out with Shiro while he was down here for a conference and how good it was to see him. “Good. Uh, got to visit a friend that’s in town, so that was cool.”
Lance smiles at him again. “Oh, nice!” His heart skips in his chest (for the hundredth time), and Keith thinks that if Lance keeps this up they may end up needing to use the defibrillator they have stored over by the supplies room.
“Yeah,” he mutters, lamely, because Keith has yet to develop the social skills past that of a lizard, apparently. He nervously tightens his grip on the plastic bag in his hands. The plastic bag he’s supposed to give to Lance.
“Oh! Before I forget…” He quickly pushes the bag towards Lance, accidentally shoving it directly into his chest. He winces and waits for Lance to grab the bag before he continues. “I, uh, made these for you and Hunk since you guys have been giving me so much food.” Anxiously wringing his hands, he watches Lance carefully open the bag and look inside. “Um. They’re… well. They were supposed to be cookies, but I’m not really sure what happened.” Lance continues to stare into the bag, stuck on the (cute; very, very cute) confused expression he had when Keith first pushed the bag into his arms. “They still taste okay? But I also put a gift card in there because you guys deserve more than a bag of shitty cookies.”
Finally, finally, Lance looks back up at Keith, another gleaming smile spreading slow and warm across his face. “Keith, you adorable little computer geek, you really didn’t have to do this.” The elevator dings, and they both glance over to the opening doors. “Thank you, though. Seriously.”
And yeah, Keith’s pretty sure that smile is going to kill him someday. “You’re welcome.”
7. Can You Feel the Love Tonight - Elton John
Lance sees Keith waiting for the elevator and jogs to catch up.
“Hey, Lance,” Keith greets with his signature barely-there smile. It makes something light and warm stir in his chest.
“Hey, Keith,” he greets brightly as they load themselves into the now-open car. When the doors close, he turns to face Keith directly. “Okay, so I have a question.”
Keith lifts an eyebrow. “Okay?”
“Are you doing anything this weekend?”
Lance watches Keith’s other eyebrow join the first before they furrow in concentration. “I don’t really have anything planned. Why?”
Lance can barely contain his joy. “Well, Hunk and I are having a movie night and we want you to come!”
“Really?” Keith seems almost… confused, as if he’s not sure why he’s being invited. And a small part of Lance is sad at the thought.
“Yeah,” he continues. “Hunk’s dying to meet you.” And it’s true. Lance may or may not talk about Keith a lot (read: all the time — about how cute he is, how sweet he can be, how adorable he looks when he’s wearing his glasses and scrunches up his face at something weird Lance says…), and Hunk is really looking forward to putting a face to the crush. Er, name — he meant face to the name.
“Oh.” Much to Lance’s delight, he thinks he sees a faint blush start to dust Keith’s cheeks.
When it doesn’t look like Keith’s going to add anything else, he goes on with the details. “It’ll be Friday night at our house, and you don’t need to worry about bringing anything since Hunk’s gonna be making all the snacks.”
Keith frowns a little at that, and Lance thinks he might have a problem if he thinks even his frowns are cute. “I mean, if you’re sure?” Keith asks.
“Of course we’re sure!” The elevator dings and he pulls out his phone as they step through the doors. “Here, put your number in my phone and I’ll text you our address, okay?”
Keith keeps his head ducked as he replies, “Yeah. Sounds good,” but Lance sees the tips of his ears go pink.
He sends Keith a wall of random emojis and all he gets in return in a single knife emoji.
Lance doesn’t stop smiling the entire day.
8. Glory of Love - Peter Cetera
Keith sees Lance waiting for an elevator and smiles to himself as he goes to stand beside him. “Morning,” he greets casually as the doors slide open.
Lance follows him in. “Morning, Kei— holy shit what happened?!”
“Huh?” Keith turns to see what the hell Lance is talking about and sees Lance reaching towards him like he’s about to grab his face. Before they can connect, though, Lance freezes and yanks his hands back. For a moment Keith thinks that he sees Lance’s cheeks redden, but then he’s distracted by the way Lance’s arms start gesticulating wildly.
“Your face, dude! Were you mugged?” Lance doesn’t let Keith answer before he barrels on. “Oh my god—”
“—we’ve already had a few complaints about the security in the parking lots—”
“ Lance. ”
“Was it during office hours? We need to--”
“ Lance!” Keith’s raised voice seems to do the trick as Lance freezes mid frantic gesture. “Calm down. I’m fine, really.” Slowly, sheepishly, Lance lowers his hands. Keith feels the corner of his mouth twitch upwards. “And I wasn’t mugged. Just an accident at the gym.”
Lance tilts his head to the side ever so slightly, and Keith furiously tries to stop himself from thinking about how it reminds him of an adorably confused puppy. “The gym?”
“Yeah, I do kickboxing,” he explains. “My partner got in a lucky shot.”
“Oh.” Now it’s Keith’s turn to be confused, because for a moment Lance looks… sad. And Keith can’t imagine what exactly he said to make Lance look like that, but he feels a pang of guilt stab into his chest regardless. But then Lance shakes his head, expression clearing like it was never there. “Uh. Well, a bruise like that’s gotta hurt so let’s go get you some meds, yeah?”
Keith can’t quite shake the feeling that he’s somehow done something wrong, so when the elevator dings and Lance starts to drag him through the opening doors, he doesn’t budge. “Lance, seriously.” He tries to look into deep blue eyes. “I’m fine.”
Lance holds the eye contact for a moment before quickly averting his gaze and gently tightening his grip on Keith’s wrist. “Too late, we’re going.”
Keith has never felt so lost and tethered all at once.
9. I Swear - All 4 One
Lance pushes himself through the front doors of the building, a man on a mission. He spots Keith at the elevators and thanks his luck as he makes a beeline for the now opening doors.
“Good mor—” Keith starts, pushing the button for their floor, but Lance doesn’t let him finish.
“You’re good at sports, right?” He doesn’t really mean to cut him off; he’s just really, really excited about the possibility of Keith saying yes. Also, he might be slightly over-caffeinated. Only slightly.
Keith raises a confused and wary eyebrow. “Uh… I guess?”
Perfect. “Good, then I’m recruiting you to the office softball team.”
Keith does the adorable little head tilt that he does when he’s confused. “We have a softball team?”
Lance has to restrain himself from actually cooing out loud at how cute it is. Maybe three cups of coffee before work was not one of my best ideas. He dismisses the thought and moves on.
“Yeah,” he answers, “and we play teams from different offices and branches.” He flaps a hand in the air. “Anyways, we have our first game this Saturday, and I need you to play left field since Coplin dropped last minute.”
Keith turns to face him fully. “Lance.” He holds his hands out, almost like he’s trying to calm a wild animal, and Lance gets distracted for a moment wondering what it would be like to hold them. “I have literally never played softball — or baseball for that matter — in my entire life.” Keith looks so earnest; Lance is enthralled.
He flashes Keith an easy grin. “Eh, I’m sure you’re a quick learner.” He sees Keith about to object and continues. “Are you busy after work today? We can go to the park and I can go over the basics with you.” Keith sighs and rubs a hand over his face. Yep, Lance is totally enthralled.
“I mean…” Keith gives a helpless shrug as the elevator dings. “If you need someone that desperately, I guess.”
Lance throws both fists in the air, relishing in the surprised laugh it drags out of Keith. “Sweet! I’ll meet you at your desk after work then.”
“Sounds good, Lance,” Keith replies, still chuckling and shaking his head in exasperation.
Lance totally doesn’t do a happy dance the moment Keith is out of eyesight. Don’t be preposterous.
(He totally does.)
10. I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing - Aerosmith
“‘Never played baseball before’ my ass ,” says Lance as he joins Keith in the elevator.
Keith has gotten used to Lance every once in a while greeting him with a strange non-sequitur instead of his usual “hey.” However, he will admit that this is definitely one of the weirder ones. “What?”
Lance is glaring at him, but the teasing grin tells him it’s mostly in jest. “You were too good to have never played some kind of hitting-ball-with-a-stick sport before.”
That honestly surprises Keith. “Really?”
Lance had said as much after they won the game, but he had seriously thought it was just because Lance was high on adrenaline or something. (He very diligently ignores the memory of Lance hugging him to his chest and spinning him around, cheering loudly in Keith’s ear. Not now gay thoughts.)
“Yeah, dude!” Lance casually leans one side against the back of the elevator to face Keith and starts poking him in the shoulder. “So when was it? Did you try it for a bit in high school? Do some intramurals or something?”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Lance,” he says, halfheartedly slapping away Lance’s prodding finger. “Saturday was my first game ever.” Lance stops his playful jabbing to stare at Keith incredulously.
He has the sudden and irrational urge to hide his face in his blazer.
“...what the fuck. How are you real?” That… is not what Keith was expecting. He doesn’t really know how to respond, either.
“Uh…” Keith fiddles with the strap of his bag and pulls his shoulders up to his ears self-consciously. “Sorry?”
Lance waves him off, laughing. “No, don’t be sorry. Just promise me you’ll come to every single softball game so we can kick everyone’s asses.” The elevator dings and they make their way out of the open doors.
“Well,” Keith smirks, “I’m always down to kick some ass.”
Lance smirks right back as he starts to head down the hall. “Good, you better be.” Keith watches him take a few steps before Lance turns and begins to walk backward towards his destination. “Otherwise, I will have to tamper with your coffee.” Lance gives a playful wink as he spins back around and disappears around the corner.
Keith gapes, horrified. “Lance,” he shouts after him. “Don’t even joke about that!”
11. I Melt With You - Modern English
Lance makes his way towards the elevator, a skip in his step. Seeing a familiar head of dark hair, he quickens his pace, excited to see how Keith will react to the awesome sweater he’s wearing today. And he isn’t disappointed when Keith turns and, upon seeing him, immediately bursts out laughing.
They make their way into the elevator and Lance pretends to be offended by Keith’s (adorable) chuckles. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up.”
Keith nods his head towards Lance, still grinning. “I thought themed ugly sweaters were only a Christmas thing.”
Lance scoffs, offended. “First of all, this isn’t ugly, you heathen . It’s a unique and beautiful piece of art.” He dutifully ignores Keith’s snort (and the funny little thing it does to his chest) and continues. “Second of all, I’ll have you know that I have a themed sweater for literally every single American holiday.”
“Every single one of them?” Keith asks, squinting suspiciously.
Keith folds his arms across his chest. “Even the ones in the summer?”
“You know it!” Lance shoots him a winning grin.
“Why?” Keith’s face scrunches in confusion and Lance has to repress the urge to reach out and squish his cheeks between his hands. “It averages in the high 90s during the summer.”
Because of cute reactions like yours, his traitorous brain thinks. “Sometimes you have to sacrifice for your art,” is what he says instead, lifting his chin and putting on his best “thinking” pose.
“Oh my god,” Keith laughs, the elevator dinging in the background. “You’re actually insane.”
Lance turns and starts walking backward out of the elevator in one smooth movement. “That’s what everyone says about creative geniuses.” He adds his signature finger guns as a final touch.
“ Oh my god.”
Keith’s smiling, embarrassed face is the last thing Lance sees before his foot snags on the rug and he topples over with an (un)dignified yelp.
12. You’re the Inspiration - Chicago
Keith is nervous. More nervous than he’d like to admit. Well, he never likes to admit he’s nervous, but even he can’t delude himself that much. So, he quietly admits to himself that he is, in fact, nervous, and proceeds to make his way towards where Lance is standing and waiting for the elevator.
“Hey, Lance.” Yes, good start; acting natural.
Lance turns and flashes his sunshine-bright smile at him. “Morning, Keith!” And welp, there goes Keith’s heart, doing its vigorous acrobatics training.
The elevator arrives and they make their way inside, Keith plucking anxiously at the elbow of his blazer. Ask him, his inner self orders. Ignore the parade happening in your chest right now. Ask him! Please, for the love of god, ask him you shy gay fuck!
He takes a single, fortifying breath. “Hey, um. I was wondering…” Don’t you fucking dare chicken out now, Kogane. He gulps. “Do you have any plans this weekend?”
Lance looks almost… excited? Hopeful, maybe? Keith isn’t really sure, but he takes it as a good sign. “Nothing that I can’t easily rearrange,” Lance replies. “Why, what’s up?”
“Well…” Here it goes. “...my friends Shiro and Pidge and their older brother Matt were wanting to go to the amusement park on Saturday, and I wanted to know if maybe you and Hunk wanna come too?”
And now Keith gets to internally panic until Lance replies. Because this — meeting Shiro and Matt and Pidge — this is a huge step for him. They’re his family. They’re important. And Lance and Hunk are starting to become important too.
Keith thinks he sees a flicker of disappointment in Lance’s eyes, but before he can really start panicking, Lance is beaming at him. “I’ll have to double check with Hunk, but that sounds great!”
Keith sags in relief. Must have imagined it.
“Okay,” he breathes. “Cool. My friends have been wanting to meet you for a while now.”
Understatement of the year. Ever since he started going to movie nights with Hunk and Lance, they have been dying to meet “these mysterious friends of yours” — Shiro’s words. “Your crush and his roommate” are Pidge’s, and Keith pretty much daily regrets ever telling them about his feelings.
“It’ll be nice to finally put a face to the gremlin,” Lance teases, nudging Keith’s shoulder lightly with his own.
“Oh god,” Keith mumbles, suddenly filled with dread. He looks to Lance, pleading. “Please don’t tell them I call them that, they have so much blackmail on me.”
Lance raises a single eyebrow. “You do realize that just makes me want to do it more, right?”
The elevator dings, the doors open, and Keith puts on a mask of disinterest. “Guess you’re uninvited, then,” he states cooly before walking briskly out into the hallway.
He hears Lance stutter behind him, and it takes a concerning amount of willpower to keep the smile off of his face.
“Keith, wait, I was kidding!”
After a moment, he decides why bother and lets the grin take over.
13. Hold On To the Nights - Richard Marx
Lance is… tired. He thinks maybe he shouldn’t have come in today, but the idea of spending the day alone with his thoughts was enough to spur him into getting himself to work. He knows he’s feeling a lot of other things besides “tired,” but the exhausted fog in his brain makes everything else too distant for him to care.
As he trudges his way to the elevator, he spots a familiar head of dark hair. “Hey, Keith.”
Keith whips his head around so fast Lance swears he hears it crack. “Lance!”
And for a moment, Lance gets to see the way Keith lights up — the way he smiles big enough to show off his dimples and how his eyes are wide with excitement. Unfortunately, he also gets to see the way it slowly fades and morphs until Keith is staring at him with brows furrowed in concern.
They make their way into the elevator, an awkward silence clinging to them like old lint. And Lance hates it, hates that he just can’t muster the energy to initiate any kind of conversation — that he’s leaving Keith to flounder on his own.
The doors close and Keith breaks the quiet by clearing his throat.
“Um.” Keith fidgets, picking at the fabric at his elbow. “Are you— How’ve you been?”
Lance shrugs one shoulder dejectedly, gaze focused on the lopsided heart someone had tried to scratch into the wall of the elevator.
He hears Keith take a deep breath before stiltedly continuing. “You haven’t been in this week and, um, you didn’t respond to my texts, so I was starting to get worried that I— that something had happened.”
The earnestness in Keith’s voice nearly breaks him then and there. He can’t not tell him about why he was gone. Plus… he could really use some comfort right now. And he’d missed Keith’s special brand of it.
“Oh, yeah,” he croaks, clearing his throat before continuing. “Sorry about that. I was in Cuba for a few days for a funeral and I had my phone off most of the time.”
Keith’s voice is quiet, barely more than a whisper. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” A hand briefly lands on his shoulder before it disappears.
Lance looks over to Keith and tries his best to muster up a smile. “It’s okay.” From the dubious look Keith sends him, he can assume he failed pretty spectacularly. “Well, not okay, but, you know.” He pauses, swallowing. “My abuela was really, really old, so.” He hopes the ding of the elevator hides his sniffling as he starts to head down the hall.
He barely makes it more than a few feet before he’s stopped, however, by a hand on his elbow. Keith is looking at him — really, really looking at him.
“Do…” Keith’s fingers flex in the worn fabric of Lance’s blazer. “Do you want a hug?”
Lance has to try and swallow the sudden lump in his throat as he wobbly replies, “That’d be really nice, actually, yeah.” Less than a moment later he’s being wrapped up in a firm hug, and while it’s a little stiff and slightly awkward — like maybe Keith isn’t used to giving hugs — he melts into it, wrapping his own arms around Keith’s waist and tucking his face into Keith’s shoulder.
They stay hugging in the hallway for longer than they probably should, but eventually they pull apart, Keith keeping one hand wrapped around Lance’s wrist. “C’mon,” he murmurs, gently tugging Lance in the direction of the break room. “Let me make you some tea.”
Lance can only nod, grateful beyond words to have Keith as his friend.
14. (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You - N-Sync
Keith groggily walks up to where Lance is standing and bumps his shoulder. “Morning, Lance.”
Lance bumps him back as the elevator arrives. “Morning, Keith.” Keith catches sight of his grin out of the corner of his eye and he is both forever grateful and eternally annoyed by the way it makes the inside of his chest feel warm.
“Got you a donut,” he says, handing Lance the crinkled brown bag he has in his hand.
“Aww, thanks, Keith.” He watches Lance’s face go from pleased smile to pleasant shock as he looks inside the bag.
“Oh my god.” Lance pulls out the bright blue monstrosity and holds it in front of his face in awe before looking over to Keith. “How did you know my favorite?”
Keith shrugs self-consciously. “You mentioned it a while back.”
He remembers that conversation vividly. Not because of anything they talked about — the sugar-laden abomination that Lance calls a donut is really the only part that stuck — but because of the way Lance was so… Lance. Exuberant in everything he says and does.
“And you remembered?” Lance clutches the hand not holding the donut to his chest. “Awwww,” he coos.
“Shut up,” Keith growls, shoving Lance in the shoulder and willing his face not to turn bright red. “Plus,” he continues, pointing at the donut. “It’s hard to forget something like that .”
Lance scoffs as he puts the donut gently back into its paper bag. “Oh, whatever, you big softie.”
They share a moment of companionable silence, accompanied only by the gentle whir of the moving elevator, before Lance speaks again.
“Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. I have a serious question for you.”
Keith lifts a confused eyebrow. “Okay?”
Lance turns to face him fully, hands spread for emphasis. “Which is worse,” he asks seriously, looking Keith dead in the eye. “A cat with a human face or a dog with human hands?”
Keith blinks at him. Once. Twice. Opens his mouth. “...Lance what the actual fuck.”
Lance shrugs helplessly and lifts an arm to scratch the back of his neck. “They asked this question on a podcast I listen to and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.”
That clears up absolutely nothing. “What the hell kind of podcasts do you listen to?”
“Good ones,” Lance retorts. “Now stop avoiding the question and give me an answer.”
Keith barely understands the question, let alone has an answer. He’s not sure he even wants to really think about it. “Uh…”
The elevator dings, letting them off on their floor, and Keith looks to Lance. “I honestly have no idea. The cat? I think?”
Lance screws his face up in consideration as they both stand in the hallway. “You know what?” he asks, grabbing Keith’s wrist (and causing his heart to stutter). “C’mon, let’s go see if someone in graphics would be able to help us make a quick visual.”
Keith’s never been more afraid of the graphics department.
15. Truly - Lionel Richie
Lance stands frozen in front of the double doors that lead into the office building. He has a coffee clutched tightly in each hand — one for him and one for Keith — and he’s mentally psyching himself up for what he’s about to do. What he’s about to ask. He’d talked it over with Hunk last night and decided that today was the day. No more waiting. He was gonna butter Keith up with the coffee and then on their daily walk during their morning break he was gonna do it. He was gonna ask him.
Stop stalling, you dingus. And… yeah, he was definitely stalling. Lance takes a deep breath, gives himself a little shake, and makes his way into the building.
He’s waiting for the elevator when he feels a familiar nudge at his shoulder.
Oh, fuck. He hadn’t planned for this, to see Keith so soon. Considering how often they end up riding the elevator together, though, he probably should have.
“Hey, Keith,” he greets brightly, too brightly, trying to hide the fact that his heart is suddenly beating at approximately five billion miles an hour.
Keith returns the greeting normally as they enter the elevator, and it looks like it’s just the two of them. Great. Wonderful. Lance goes to scratch the back of his neck but stops midway when he realizes that his hands are currently occupied.
“Oh, uh,” he stutters. “I brought you a coffee.” He hands one of the cups over to Keith before taking a long drink of his own. Calm down, Lance, jesus.
“Thanks, Lance.” Keith takes his own sip and hums in approval. “How was your niece’s birthday party?”
Oh, yeah. That had happened over the weekend. Lance sends up a silent thank you to whatever god is currently watching over the elevator because if there’s one thing that will get Lance out of his nervous funk, it’s gushing about his family.
“It was great! The kids got hyped up on sugar, demolished a pinata, and then ran around screaming before wearing themselves out in the bounce house.”
Keith looks at him shrewdly, but Lance can also see a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. “That sounds… exhausting.”
“Oh, it definitely was,” Lance agrees. “But totally worth it.”
“I’m glad you had fun, then.” Keith’s smile spreads, softening his entire face, and Lance nearly dies then and there.
He can’t help but grin dopily back. “Yeah, me too.”
A moment passes, and Lance has the sudden thought Now. Do it now. Ask him now before you chicken out.
His fingers begin to tap out a frantic rhythm on his cup. “Hey, Keith?”
“Would like to go to dinner with me sometime?” It comes out in a rush, and Lance bites his lip to keep himself from screaming in frustration.
“Like with movie nights?” Keith is tilting his head like an adorable mulleted kitten and Lance wants to rip his hair out with his bare hands.
“No. Well, I mean. Kinda?” He sighs and scrubs a hand over his face before rubbing the back of his neck. “But no. Um. I meant like, just the two of us.” He clears his throat. “Together.”
Please understand me, he silently begs. Please understand me and please say yes.
“Oh.” Keith’s eyebrows have climbed up into his hairline, hiding behind unruly bangs. “Um.” He watches Keith start to fidget and feels something cold and anxious start to coil in his gut. “Like a date?”
“Heh, yeah.” He tries not to sound bitter, because that sounds an awful lot like Keith’s gearing up to let him off easy. “Like a date.”
And suddenly Lance can’t bear to look Keith in the eye as he’s rejected — doesn’t want Keith to see how much it’s going to affect him.
He closes his eyes and braces himself for impact. “Yeah?”
A hand slides into his, squeezing gently, and Lance whips his head up so fast he feels something pop. Keith is looking at him, cheeks beautifully flushed and a small yet brilliant smile spreading on his face. “I’d really, really like that.”
The elevator dings in time with the way his chest suddenly fills to bursting with joy.
Lance squeezes back as he sags in blissful relief. “Oh, thank god.”
16. I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) - New Kids On The Block
“Have you ever noticed that all this elevator ever plays is love songs?” Lance asks, arm draped casually across Keith’s shoulders. “And like, not even recent ones. It’s all stuff from like, the 80s and 90s.”
Keith hums, but realizes it’s not entirely true. “It doesn’t always play love songs.”
“Really?” Lance asks skeptically.
“Yeah,” Keith nods. “But, um…” No, he decides. Too embarrassing. “Nevermind.”
Lance squeezes his shoulder. “No, what were you going to say?”
“It’s dumb,” Keith mumbles, drawing his shoulders up to his ears.
“Eh, maybe.” Before Keith can retort, Lance slides his arm off of Keith’s shoulder and grabs his hand instead, squeezing gently. “You should tell me anyways, though,” he says softly.
Keith looks at him dubiously. “Fine,” he huffs out, resigned, then jabs a finger into Lance’s chest. “Don’t make fun of me, though.”
Lance pokes his cheek in retaliation. “I promise I’ll try.”
“Fine.” Keith pauses, then buries his face in his free hand. “ Oh god, this is so dumb. Um.” Another encouraging squeeze. “The reason I know that it plays other stuff is because I only ever hear the love songs when we ride in the elevator together.”
And it’s true. Every other time he’s ridden the elevator, it was some random top forties pop song playing tinily through the speakers. But when it was just him and Lance? Every time, without fail? A goddamn cheesy love song. It’s like the universe was taunting him from the very beginning.
Lance cradles his face with both hands, eyes wide and bright and thumbs gently brushing across Keith’s cheeks. “I’m gonna kiss you now.”
And then there are lips on his, soft and warm, and belatedly Keith realizes that the elevator has stopped and that the doors are opening, but he doesn’t care.
He thinks maybe he can eventually forgive the universe.