Lance turns his head at the sound of his name, a smile ready on his lips because he recognizes that voice; Nyma. Probably the hottest girl he’s ever seen, bar Allura.
He’d asked her out on a date a few months previously, but she’d had a boyfriend at the time. A boyfriend that Lance has very recently learned is out of the picture…
“Hey, Nyma. What’s up?” he says, leaning against the wall positioned conveniently beside him. He stretches out his torso and subtly tenses his arms, showing off his best angles.
“I was wondering if I could ask a favor…” says Nyma, tucking a strand of strawberry-blonde hair behind one ear. She’s stepped in so close to him that all he can smell is her sweet perfume…
“Go ahead,” says Lance, heart skipping a beat.
“So… you know your friend Keith?”
Lance frowns. Keith being his friend is a rather recent development in their historically fraught relationship, and Lance has a sinking feeling that he knows where this conversation is going. He somehow always ends up playing Keith’s second fiddle.
“Angry, wears black, has a mullet. Yeah, I know him,” Lance sighs, posture deflating.
“So my friend Axca is into him-” Lance's posture straightens right back up— Nyma isn’t into Keith , Axca ’s into Keith, and what a relief that is. He doesn’t know Axca, but the name rings a bell and his brain that brings forth a mental image of a cute girl with short choppy hair and pouty lips. That’d make her match Keith nicely...
“-But he’s sorta intimidating to approach, you know?” Nyma continues, oblivious to Lance’s inner-dialogue. “So I was wondering if you’d be free to come on a double-date this Saturday, and if you could ask Keith to come for Axca.”
“Just to double check that we’re on the same page, you and I?” asks Lance, raising an eyebrow and gesturing between himself and Nyma.
“If you can get Keith to come for Axca, that’s right,” Nyma replies, smiling prettily for him.
Lance gives her his best cocky smirk.
“Consider it done. I’ll see you on Saturday.”
yo keef! what you doing Saturday?
c’mon man! are you budy or not!?
great! wanna go on a double date?
i can see that you read the message you know
no with my cousin jeff
of course i mean with me!
:D :D :D YAY meet at mine at 7 wear something not-lame if possible
Keith shows up on Saturday early, wearing something nice, with a small bouquet of flowers clasped tightly in one hand. To say Lance is surprised is a gross understatement.
“Wow, lookin’ good, mullet,” Lance exclaims upon opening his door. He means it too, he didn’t even know that Keith owned any button down shirts. Or anything not-black.
“Blue’s my favorite color,” Lance remarks.
“I know,” Keith answers, and Lance wonders if his cheeks are flushed from the cold or embarrassment.
Either way it’s cute. Adorable even, to see stoic Keith flustered and excited for something.
“And those are nice,” says Lance, gesturing to the flowers. Violets—they match Keith’s eyes.
“Do you like them?” asks Keith shyly.
“‘Course! They’re lovely! Axca’s gonna love ‘em. Hang on, just gotta grab my coat.”
Lance leaves Keith at the door for a second to grab said coat from where it is slung over the back of the couch.
“That’s surprisingly sweet of you, Keith,” he continues, shaking the coat out and slipping into it. “Never would have picked that you’d be the type to bring a girl flowers on the first date.”
Lance steps out of his apartment, shutting the door and fiddling with the lock; it’s sticky and always takes a bit of coaxing to properly close up.
“You remember Axca, right? Nyma’s friend?”
By the time he has the door closed up and he’s ready to go, Keith still hasn’t answered.
“Keith?” he prompts, looking over at him.
Keith is facing away from him, shoulders slumped, those flowers he’d been clutching so tightly hanging limply towards the floor.
“You aren’t getting cold feet on me now, are you?” Lance is only half-joking.
“...No.” Keith’s voice sounds rough.
“Hey… are you alright?” he asks, becoming properly concerned. He even goes as far as to put a hesitant hand on Keith’s shoulder.
Keith takes a deep breath, and straightens up his posture. He shakes Lance’s hand off.
“Fine,” he says brusquely.
“Okay… well, your date is Axca. Turns out she’s into you despite that mullet, and she even went so far as to ask Nyma to ask me to set this thing up.” Lance nudges Keith with his elbow suggestively. “So I owe you one for inadvertently scoring me a date with Nyma,” he says, grinning at Keith brilliantly.
He expects Keith to grin back. That’s been happening more and more since they buried the hatchet, shared smiles that come with shared jokes and victories. It always makes Lance feel good to earn Keith’s smiles; he gives them out so sparingly and it’s flattering to be counted among the few people that can induce them.
Keith doesn’t smile back. He actually looks vaguely ill —
“Where are we going?” Keith asks abruptly. Lance lets him change the subject, thinking that maybe Keith is nervous.
“This little Italian place on the waterfront, Hunk recommended it so it should be good. You biked here right?”
“Cool, I figured we can take my car and leave your bike here.”
“I can just follow you—”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you’ll ruin your flowers.”
“Fine,” Keith huffs.
Keith stares straight forward out of the windscreen. The set of his shoulders is rigid, and his hands are clasped together tightly in his lap.
Silence has never felt so awkward, or impossible to break. Lance can only attribute the tension between them, along with Keith’s stony expression, to pre-date jitters. In all the time they’ve known each other, Lance can’t think of any instances where Keith has gone on any dates, or had any girlfriends.
Could Keith be shy?
“She already likes you so you don’t have to be worried about impressing her, you know. You can just be yourself,” he says, trying to be comforting.
Keith shrugs stiffly.
“I don’t know why she would,” Keith mumbles grumpily.
“Aw, don’t sell yourself short. Despite your mullet, and your temperament, you do have some redeeming qualities,” Lance teases.
Usually a comment like that would provoke Keith into retorting with some insult, and they’d banter back and forth.
“Whatever,” mutters Keith, cringing in his seat. Lance doesn’t like seeing him like this. Small and unsure.
“I mean it, you know,” says Lance. “You’re a great guy, Keith. She’d be lucky to have you.”
Keith just sighs.
“And you say I’m the dramatic one,” Lance ribs.
They meet the girls in front of the restaurant, and Nyma looks stunning, as usual. Lance tells her so when he greets her with a kiss on the cheek, and when she giggles, his chest swells with pride.
Despite the beautiful girl in front of him, who rightly deserves 100% of his attention, Lance can’t help but notice how stiffly Keith greets Axca.
He practically shoves the flowers into her hands, growling “hi,” before glaring at the ground, looking beyond uncomfortable.
“How ‘bout we head in?” suggests Lance smoothly, opening the restaurant door for the others to pass through. He thinks that maybe Keith just needs a few minutes to warm up, and Lance can buy him that…
Lance is wrong. Keith does not warm up. For the entirety of their meal, he is the very worst version of himself.
He is the Keith who replies to all questions with monosyllabic answers. The Keith with his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face. The Keith who is so blunt he’s rude.
To try and salvage the damage Keith is doing, Lance exaggerates himself, talking and laughing enough for the two of them even though on the inside he doesn’t feel like talking or laughing at all. He feels like dragging Keith outside and demanding what the hell his problem is.
When Nyma and Axca disappear off into the bathroom at the same time, Lance elbows Keith. Hard.
“Dude! What gives?! You’re blowing it!” he hisses.
“Shut up. I’m doing my best,” Keith hisses back.
“Well do better! Poor Axca looks miserable.”
To Keith’s credit, upon the girls’ return he does try a bit harder, but he still barely touches the meal he orders, frowning down at his food as if it personally offends him.
After dinner they head down to the waterfront to walk along the boardwalk.
They quickly split off, he and Nyma, and Keith and Axca, and for once, Lance would prefer not to be alone with a pretty girl.
He’s worried about Keith. Something clearly isn’t right; he’s been behaving strange all night. Lance is so worried he’s barely present for the conversation he’s having with Nyma as they walk.
Not long after that they run into Axca. Axca alone.
“I’m gonna head home, Nyma,” she says without preamble.
“Hang on, where’s Keith?” asks Lance.
Axca gives him a strange look, part pity, part the words ‘you fool.’
“He decided to leave early.”
“What-? But I was his ride here!”
Axca shrugs. “He said don’t worry about it, that he’ll just walk back”
The walk back to Lance’s place for his bike will take at least an hour, and it’s freezing out! What is Keith thinking?!
“Also… I don’t think these were for me,” she says self-deprecatingly, handing Lance her bouquet of violets.
“What are you talking about? Of course they’re for you? Who else would they be for?”
“I see…” says Nyma, raising one perfectly sculpted eyebrow in surprise, apparently understanding before Lance.
“What do you see?!” Lance demands.
“I’ll come with you Axca,” says Nyma, and then she turns her attention to Lance.
“It’s a shame, you are cute,” she murmurs, and then she leans in to press a feathery-light kiss to his cheek.
“You should go find Keith. It’s too cold to walk anywhere.” Her smile is knowing and amused.
Lance is so worried and confused that he agrees easily, and hurries off, hoping that Keith hasn’t gone too far.
By the time Lance makes it back to his car it’s started spitting. As he drives, slow so he can keep an eye out for Keith, it very quickly develops into a full on deluge. Keith must be getting soaked...
Luckily it doesn’t take Lance long to spot Keith’s rather pathetic figure hurrying along the sidewalk, arms crossed, head bent against the rain and the wind.
Lance pulls up alongside him and winds down the window.
“Get in!” He hollers. Keith turns at the sound of his voice, doing a double take as if he can’t believe that Lance is there with his car.
“I’m fine!” he shouts back, refusing to break his pace.
Lance parks the car and leaves it running because he is going to convince Keith to stop being stubborn and get in even if he has to get soaking wet to do it.
He slams the door shut behind him, and immediately raindrops assault his face, hitting him like tiny icy torpedoes. By the time he manages to jog over to Keith’s side, water has already started to soak into his clothes.
“Get in the car,” Lance orders, grabbing Keith’s arm to stop him in his tracks.
“I want to walk,” Keith retorts.
“I’m driving back to my house, which is where you need to go! Just get in!” Lance yells in exasperation.
“Fine,” growls Keith, ripping his arm out of Lance’s grip.
They both stomp back to his car, and slam themselves inside. They’re dripping all over the upholstery, but Lance can’t find it in himself to care about that right now.
He pulls away from the curb and begins to drive on auto-pilot back to his place, a heavy silence settling between them. Lance finally breaks it a block from his apartment.
“Are you gonna tell me what the hell that was all about?” he huffs. Keith remains stubbornly silent, arms crossed tightly over his chest. His grumpy stoic facade is ruined by the fact that his teeth are chattering from the cold.
“Why did you agree to this if you were going to be a miserable bastard the whole time?” Lance grumbles, parking outside of his building and cutting the engine.
Keith sighs heavily. “Look, I’m sorry I ruined your date, okay?” He doesn’t sound angry or defensive anymore, he just sounds defeated.
Lance sighs too. Even though Keith was a dick, he can’t stay mad. Especially when Keith looks all half drowned and sad.
“Why don’t you stay over? You can’t bike home in this,” says Lance, and the rain seems to thunder down harder around them as if it’s vindicating Lance’s suggestion.
“But you will,” says Lance confidently.
Lance hands Keith a towel and a change of clothes and ushers him off into bathroom to dry off and get changed. Lance does the same in his room, before fetching a blanket and an extra pillow for Keith from his closet.
Keith is already changed and sitting on the couch when he gets there, looking small and soft in one of Lance’s baggy sleep shirts with his bare toes peeping out of end of sweatpants that are much too big on Lance , let alone Keith. He’d picked them out to be vindictive, but it’s backfired because Keith just looks cute and cozy.
“Here,” says Lance, unceremoniously dumping the blanket and pillow on top of Keith’s head, before walking over the kitchen to pull out the ingredients he needs to make hot chocolate.
Keith yelps indignantly, but by the time Lance returns with two fragrant, steaming, mugs, he’s arranged himself with the blanket around his shoulders, and the pillow in his lap, hugged to his chest like a shield.
“Well, don’t you look cozy,” says Lance, passing Keith one of the mugs.
Keith accepts it with a mumbled “Thanks,” and Lance sits himself at the other end of the couch.
Lance lets them drink their hot chocolate in companionable silence, and set the empty mugs aside on the coffee table before he speaks.
“So, you ready to tell me what the matter is?” he asks, fixing his gaze on Keith.
His hair is starting to dry and curl up at the ends, and it’s cute. Lance thinks that Keith would be a very cute person if it weren’t for his decidedly not-cute manner and general state of being.
“Nothing’s the matter,” Keith mumbles, hugging Lance’s pillow more tightly and staring down at his lap.
“Something must be the matter or you wouldn’t have been so weird,” insists Lance.
“The date—it just wasn’t what I expected, okay?”
“What… what were you expecting?” asks Lance.
He thinks of the violets sitting in the back seat of his car. He thinks of Axca’s cryptic words, and Nyma’s knowing smile.
With a gasp he looks into Keith’s face, reads mortification in the redness of his cheeks, and fear in the crushed look in his eyes. Suddenly Lance understands, he knows.
“Keith,” he breathes, caressing the syllable with his mouth so gently. “Did you think—”
To Lance’s horror, Keith’s eyes well with tears, and his lips press together into a trembling line.
“Y-you don’t need to say it, I know it was stupid of me to think that—t-to think—”
Keith turns his face away, into his shoulder, and sniffs, and Lance’s heart seizes in his chest at the sight.
Lance moves on instinct, getting off the sofa and kneeling down right in front of Keith.
“Sweetheart, don’t cry,” Lance murmurs, laying his hands over Keith’s where they are white-knuckling his pillow. He gets Keith to relax his grip so he can pull away the pillow and set it aside, and then he takes Keith’s face in his hands with his heart in his throat.
Keith looks bewildered by this turn of events, and his eyelids flutter.
“Sweetheart?” he repeats.
“You thought the date today was with me, didn’t you?” says Lance gently.
More tears brim in Keith’s eyes and then spill over, and he tries to pull away, but Lance doesn’t let him. “Look, I’m s-sorry—” Keith huffs, voice breaking.
“Don’t be sorry. I didn’t know you were an option, Keith. I had no idea you were into dudes.” Lance gently wipes away Keith’s tears with his thumbs.
“Well, I’m gay. Surprise,” says Keith helplessly. Something hot, and giddy, and excited, and joyful , blooms in Lance’s chest.
“What are you doing tomorrow?” He asks.
Keith frowns at the apparent non-sequitur. “Why?” he asks suspiciously.
“So nothing then?” Leaving one hand on Keith’s cheek, Lance trails his other down to find one of Keith’s, and laces their fingers together.
Keith stares him with his lips parted, blinking in shock.
“Lance?” he whispers.
“Let me take you on a date, Keith.” They’re so close that Lance hears Keith’s stuttery inhale. He sees his adam’s apple bob as he swallows.
“What about Nyma?” Keith whispers.
“I think she could tell I was a little preoccupied with someone else tonight,” answers Lance wryly.
“Are you sure? You don’t have to—to throw me a bone just because—”
Lance cuts Keith off with a sharp burst of laughter.
“You think I’d be throwing you a bone? You? ”
“What’s that meant to mean?” Keith pouts.
“It means , the very first time I talked to you I tried to hit on you because you were the hottest guy I’d ever seen, and you shut me down so hard I vowed to beat you in every class we had together so I could rub it in your face.”
“ What?! No, the first time we met you made fun of my hair!” cries Keith indignantly.
“I told you your hair was pretty,” says Lance, lips pulling into an amused smile.
“Yeah! You were mocking me!”
Lance’s smile blossoms into a toothy grin.
“...Weren't you?” says Keith weakly.
“No, Keith. That first time I wasn’t. Every time after that however…” Lance delivers the line with a soft smile, and it makes them both chuckle.
Lance brings Keith’s hand up to his mouth, and presses a chaste kiss to the back of it.
“Let me take you on a date tomorrow, Keith,” he murmurs.
Keith stares at him for a beat, and Lance swears he can see a galaxy swirling in those stormy eyes. And then that beautiful, bow-shaped mouth smiles for him.