Lance shrugged off his backpack from his shoulder, drawing his arms close to his body and shivering violently. “I’ll never get used to the cold,” he said, teeth chattering and voice coming out in broken segments. Keith trailed behind him, using one foot to shut the door while the other tried to wipe snow off the sole of his boot on the doormat. His bag was set next to Lance’s, lacking the carelessness that came from being in your own home, and quirked an eyebrow at him.
“You’re the one that insisted on picking me up. I very easily could have driven here myself, you know.”
Lance turned a withering glare at him, nose pink and cheeks rosy. “Listen, buddy, it’s called common courtesy. And we both know that you wouldn’t have made it over here if you had been the one to drive.”
Keith shrugged at him, beginning to tug off his gloves now. “Maybe. But it would have saved you from the snow.”
Lance muttered a reply under his breath that Keith didn’t quite catch as they both stripped out of their winter gear. Hats were hung up on the rungs by the door, coats joining them while boots remained firmly on the doormat. “My mama would kill me if we ruined her wooden floors.”
Only once he was free from the four layers he had adorned did Keith understand Lance’s shivering. He was cold—too fucking cold—mimicking Lance’s stance from earlier. “Okay yeah the cold kind of sucks,” he muttered, and Lance glanced over his shoulder to give him an empathetic head nod.
Keith stopped in his tracks, watching the movement, and feeling suddenly very warm. There were the barest of snowflakes still in his hair that hadn’t quite melted, standing out against the chestnut brown and making him look softer than Keith was used to. The pink hue to his cheeks had only grown with the brutal adjustment from below freezing to heat on high, and his blue eyes were bright, the color of his long-sleeved top bringing them out perfectly.
Don’t stare at your best friend, you absolute fucking weirdo.
Keith’s eyes immediately found the ground, which was oh, wow, so interesting. “You alright there, mullet?” Lance asked, and Keith glanced back up on instinct. That was a mistake.
“Yeah, all good here. Cold just throws me off, that’s all.”
Lance snorted, moving past him to pick up his backpack and shoulder it. “And here I was, thinking you had done just fine in the cold.”
Keith hummed some agreement of some sort, trying to get himself under control. Lance was his best friend—nothing more. They would never be anything more. It was fine. They were just close enough that sometimes the lines tended to blur a little and Keith found himself looking for affection in Lance. It was fine. He was fine. They were fine. He did not have a crush on Lance.
“Hey dude, you look like you’re about to have an aneurysm. Get out of your own head,” Lance chided with a small laugh, brushing past him lightly. Keith startled, and moved to pick up his own bag just to do something with his hands. Fuck, why am I in my head so much today? There’s nothing new or different about him. This is weird. Why am I being weird?
Oh my god, please shut up, Keith told his mind.
Lance was talking as he moved towards the stairs, and Keith only tuned in halfway through. “…so that’s the subject we should probably start with. I think I’ve got that textbook in my room, so we can either study in there or down here. Preference?”
Keith blinked stupidly at him for a moment too long. “Whatever you want.”
Lance paused from where he was on the stairs, one foot higher than the other and a hip cocked, an odd look on his face. “Alright,” he said slowly, before blinking at him and then continuing back up the stairs.
There was a brief moment where Keith considered sticking his head in the snow outside just to throw himself back into the present moment, but he was already trailing after Lance up the stairs, very much not looking at his best friend’s ass.
A short hallway lined with doors led to Lance’s room, and Keith slowed to read the name on each. Lance must have heard his faltering footsteps, so he explained without turning his head. “They’re still my siblings’ rooms, even if they haven’t stayed in them in months. Whenever anybody comes home—whether with children or whatever—they stay there. It’s a nightmare at Christmas time,” Lance said, and Keith could hear the distinct fondness that contradicted his words.
“I can imagine,” he muttered softly, trying not to image Lance surrounded by his older siblings and nieces and nephews all in tacky sweaters, surrounded by warmth and love.
What the fuck was up with him today?
Lance pushed open a door to his bedroom, cheekily labeled “lover-boy lance” in all lowercase letters, surrounded by little red hearts.
“Rachel made that for me when she found out that I had my first kiss before she did.”
“Gettin them ladies, I see.”
Lance snorted. “Ladies. Yeah.”
Keith just about tripped over his own feet.
Now see, it wasn’t like Keith didn’t know that Lance was bi. It was very clear—in fact, one of the reasons they had become friends like they had. Keith had been one of the first people that Lance had come out to, and since that night, when Keith admitted that he was gay as well, they had been inseparable. That was two years ago.
“Isn’t it weird that in two years I’ve never been in your room?”
Lance paused, halfway to setting his bag on his bed, and frowned. “Wait, you’ve never been in my room?”
“Nope. We only ever hung out in your basement or kitchen.”
“That’s… there’s no way that’s true.”
“Yeah, but it is.”
Lance watched him for a long moment before his face cleared, and a bright smile appeared. “Well, then welcome to where the magic happens.”
Keith’s cheeks turned red, and it wasn’t from the heat kicking on. He was still standing in the doorway, glancing around at what made up Lance’s private life. It was exactly what Keith hadn’t expected.
Where he had expected organized chaos, it was nowhere to be found. Neat covers on his bed, posters lining the wall in neat rows, perfect lines and even spaces. His bookshelf was filled with books, action figures dotting the spaces between them. A laptop rested on his desk, a thing of pens tucked on the corner of it. Lance’s room was…neat. Clean. The opposite of what Lance everywhere else was.
Other than a little shelf above his desk, which was jam packed of seemingly random things. Keith drifted over to it without thinking, and he vaguely determined that Lance had paused in whatever he was doing and was watching him.
Light fingers drifted over glass ornaments, little wooden animals and plastic bottles that sported Lance’s name. A broken piggybank sat nestled between two straw dolls, a faded photo so worn that Keith couldn’t tell what it was supposed to have been.
The intense stare was becoming overbearing. “Lance, what is this?” Keith asked, shooting him a look over his shoulder. The other boy was standing there, hands shoved into his pockets and a tilt to his head.
His face turned sheepish. “That’s my trinkets shelf.”
The words took a moment to register, and then Keith snorted. “You have trinkets? Lance, you’re seventeen, not seventy.”
The sheepish look turned mildly offended. “Hey, all of those have meaning.”
“If they have meaning, they’re not trinkets.”
Soft footsteps padded over to him and the fingers Keith was trailing over the broken piggybank were knocked away. “For your information, they are. These just happen to have value.”
Keith took a step back, finally realizing that Lance was stung over Keith’s comment. He swallowed thickly. “Hey, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.”
Lance shrugged stiffly. “It’s alright.”
Keith fidgeted, unsure how to make the situation less tense, unsure how he made it so tense to begin with.
It was Lance that shook them out of it, dropping his hand from where it was tracing over one of the straw dolls, an easygoing grin on his face. “So, chemistry first?”
Keith nodded, relaxing as Lance did that they seemed to be going back to their vibe from before. “Oh god, don’t torture me.”
Lance guffawed, slapping a hand over his mouth as he picked up a textbook from his desk, slinging it under his arm. “Dude, that’s ridiculous. You’re a chemistry whiz.”
Keith rolled his eyes and followed Lance to where he was slouching down onto his bed, ruffling the neat covers and tucking a pillow behind his head. “Just because I’m good at something—which I’m not—doesn’t mean I like it.”
“Oh, shut up, Lance,” Keith chuckled, sitting down at the foot of Lance’s bed, taking care to tuck his own legs up so they didn’t bump into Lance’s outstretched ones. God, his legs were so long.
Keith glanced out the window. “Do you think we’ll even have exams?”
Lance sighed, looking upward. “Please God, if you have any mercy left, we won’t. If we can make it through this year and next without exams, we’ll have gone all the way through high school sans midterms.”
Keith couldn’t help but roll his eyes once more at Lance, who in turn shot a cheeky half smile to Keith that sent his insides stuttering.
“Right—well—study time,” he bit out in a choppy sentence, focusing out the window at the thick snow flurries.
“Yeah… can do,” Lance said, and Keith slid his eyes over just enough to find Lance determinedly staring at the cover of his chemistry textbook.
“Yeah, study,” Keith said softly, still gazing at Lance out of the corner of his eyes, the strain almost painful but he was unwilling to turn his head even just a little.
Blue eyes flicked up and locked onto his, holding them. Despite the layers of clothing on him, the stare made him feel naked. Vulnerable.
They did eventually begin to study, but the whole time, Keith’s mind kept wandering back to the one messy shelf, filled with little, meaningless mementoes that seemed to mean something to Lance.
“Keith,” a voice hissed. Keith stirred, still asleep but slightly less so now. “Keith,” the voice hissed again, and then a gentle hand was cupping his face.
He blinked his eyes open, startling, body jerking as he fought the fight or flight instinct that came out when he didn’t know where he was.
“Hey. Are you awake?”
“Lance, what the fuck?”
“C’mon, get up.”
“What time is it?”
A huff. “I don’t know. Just get up.”
In the darkness, Keith was giving his best half-awake withering glare to the location he thought Lance was in. “Fine, it’s 3:02.”
Keith groaned again. “And why am I being woken up?”
“Shh, keep your voice down!” Keith glared harder. “I just want to star gaze. C’mon, let’s go up to the roof.”
“Lance, this isn’t even our house,” Keith said, voice significantly lower as he swung his legs out of bed, his feet meeting cold wood. Fuck, he really was whipped to a boy who didn’t know he held the leash.
“It’ll be fine,” Lance promised, and Keith didn’t need night vision to see the self-satisfied smirk of doing something he knew he wasn’t supposed to but was never going to get reprimanded for it.
“It better fucking be fine if you’re getting me up at 3:02 in the morning,” Keith grumbled, and Lance gave a quiet cheer as Keith’s hand found his wrist in the darkness and Lance began to guide them out, past Hunk’s bed that was currently sporting him and Shay’s brother, dodging shoes and suitcases the best they could. Keith still jammed his foot into something, yelping out a sharp curse.
“Shut the fuck up,” Lance said, and Keith slammed his mouth shut with an audible click.
“What’s with you tonight? Why are you being like this?”
A nose was suddenly pressed to his and Keith felt his heart skip a beat as he thought about how if he leaned in just so, he’d be kissing Lance. Not that he would ever do that of course. Not that he wanted to kiss Lance, not at all.
“Just be quiet and come with me,” Lance murmured, breath tickling Keith’s own mouth and causing him to arch toward him instinctively.
And then the nose was gone from his own and Keith was being pulled, Lance’s fingers wrapping around his own writs and causing Keith’s grip to slip off.
They made their way through the house, and Keith regretted not putting on actual pants before Lance pulled him out of their room.
The balcony door was being pushed open and Keith held his breath, waiting for the alarm to go off that never did. “Did you plan this?”
Even with his back to him, the grin reflecting in the dark window panes of the sliding glass door was unmistakable. “Maybe.”
Keith sighed, but there was nothing more than tired fondness to it.
Lance stepped out, Keith on his heels, the warm summer night enveloping him immediately. It was colder than the daytime, with a brisk chill that swept in every now and then, but tonight was pleasant. A warm, dry hug was what it felt like, mosquitoes buzzing and all.
“God, I feel like I’m in a cliché,” Keith muttered as Lance stepped onto the outdoor table, fingers stretching toward the lip of the room, catching and pulling himself up with ease. Keith watched him as he moved, a small stretch of stomach becoming visible as his shoulders flexed. Wow, Keith really wished he had real pants on right now instead of just his underwear.
“Well, here goes fuck ass nothing,” Keith muttered as he followed suit, mimicking Lance’s movements. Lance watched him from his perch, gaze hidden by the darkness.
He offered out a hand that Keith gratefully accepted, Lance’s muscles bulging as he hauled Keith up.
Keith settled there, butt scooching until he was a safe distance away from falling off. Lance crawled over next to him, not bothering with the same precautions, until he was seated next to him, before laying out on his back.
Keith copied him once more, stretching down and closing his eyes until he was properly settled, before opening them. An entire expanse of stars was laid out above them, spanning from one horizon to the next and sprinkled out like glitter. He knew a few constellations based on other nights like this with Lance, enough that his eyes tracked toward them on instinct. He hadn’t ever fallen in love with the night sky quite like Lance had, but nevertheless, he always followed him to here. The thing he loved most didn’t span the sky, even if he was spun in starlight by the heavens.
“I can’t believe tomorrow is our last day,” Lance said in a quiet voice.
“I know. Senior beach week has just flown by.”
And it had. They had saved up for months for this trip, and it had been a blast the entire time they had been here. The place they were staying at was on the bay, the beach a five-minute drive away. It had been perfect.
Or close enough to perfect anyways.
Keith turned his eyes from the sky to the boy laying next to him, stars reflected in the blue ocean trapped in tan skin. Lance had spent most of the trip trying to pick up girl after girl and Keith was trying to be okay with it, he really was, but every time Lance looked at people he barely knew like that, Keith couldn’t help the bitter stinging that went along with it.
“I’m surprised you hadn’t taken me up here before now.”
Lance finally looked over at him, the soft, reserved smile he saved only for the stars playing at that stupid mouth. “I’m surprised you let me, Kogane. Roofs aren’t your thing.”
“But they’re yours.”
Lance watched him, smile fading into something more serious. “Tell me something, Keith?”
Oh, so they were bringing back this game. “What do you want to know?”
“Name a dream of yours. What do you want to do after college?”
“Lance, we just graduated high school. I’m not thinking about that.”
But that serious look was still there, like Lance was focused on him and this answer and the rest of the world could fade away. Just like that time in the room with his trinkets, it was that naked, vulnerable feeling that Keith couldn’t break free from, not that he wanted to.
“I want a home, a place to call my own and truly settle down. I want to help kids, maybe do some humanitarian work, but definitely help kids. Be the social worker I always wanted to help me, when I was growing up. I want a home with someone I love, a place to come back to after each long day at work, a husband and maybe a cat. But I don’t think I’ll get that, not for a long time.”
Lance kept his gaze locked on Keith’s hidden in the shadows. A long, quiet moment passed; bay waves lapped at the dock, the hum of faraway cars and mosquitoes floating around his head, the summer air that felt dry but safe, the infinite stretch of time between here and now and then and the future. In all of that, Keith watched Lance watch him.
Lips barely moving, Lance finally gave his reply. “I want a home too. I want a place like my parents, with the atmosphere of love and welcoming they created. I want a husband or wife or someone that loves me and is there at the end of the day. I want to fill a house with meaningless objects that mean something to me that makes it a home. I want to find those trinkets, to fill them up on shelves and stare fondly at them for the memories they gave me. I want a place, a home, maybe even one with a fireplace for the winter. I want to be happy, even if it’s so far away.”
Keith hadn’t noticed as they were slowly drifting closer to each other, until they were nearly nose to nose just like earlier and this time, Keith very much wanted Lance to kiss him. Wanted to see those pretty blue eyes closed in ecstasy, wanted to know what that stupid mouth felt like against his own.
“I want you to be the one I come home to.”
It was the final straw for him; Keith closed the distance between them before his mind had time to catch up with his body, pale hands finding deep tan ones, fingers locking as Keith kissed Lance and realized this—this was what perfection felt like.
“You’re a fucking asshole,” Keith growled, rigid where he sat.
Lance audibly rolled his eye and let out a noise of annoyance. “Yeah, sure I’m the asshole here.”
It was their second year of college, their second year of living together, their second year of dating.
“I’m not the one who’s keeping secrets,” Keith spat back, and the passive annoyance Lance had been putting out was gone; almost like a cold wind had blown into their college dorm.
“Really? Me?” Lance’s mouth was a thin, hard line. “I’m the one keeping secrets? That’s fucking rich coming from you.”
“I’m entitled to my privacy,” Keith snapped, fists balling at his sides.
“And I’m not?”
“I don’t keep secrets like that.”
“And I don’t see what the big fucking deal is!”
“That’s the big fucking deal! That you don’t know what you did wrong! Don’t know or don’t care.”
Keith wasn’t sure how it escalated to this point. It had started off as a snide comment from one of them—probably Keith, if he was being honest with himself—and here they were. Fighting. Like real, actual adults, arguing and bickering and Keith was so damn fucking mad.
“Fucking hell, some days I wish I never met you!”
Keith stilled as the comment left Lance’s mouth, the other boy’s sides heaving and an angry tint to his tan cheeks.
“Really? Is that the way you feel?” The cold, gutted feeling washed over him just like the last time they had fought. That time, though, it hadn’t lasted. It was the tipping point for Keith who had apologized like mad because that time, the fight had been his fault. But here, here was an opening for Lance to back down, for both to apologize.
But the hard look in Lance’s eye only solidified. “Yeah.”
And the gutted feeling was nothing compared to the sheer emptiness that Keith felt when that word reached his ears. At the look on Lance’s face, and the atmosphere between them.
He held those blue eyes he loved so much for a moment longer, and then took a staggering step backwards.
“Then we’re done,” Keith said softly, another halting step away. Lance’s face didn’t change.
He was stalking out now when his eye snagged on that stupid trinket shelf that Lance always kept, at the shell resting there, right on the edge. The one Keith had given Lance their final day of senior beach week, picked up as they strolled along the oceanfront at sunset.
“A trinket. To start our own collection, for our place one day.”
Because to them then, in the days after their high school graduation with best-friends turned boyfriends just as all their other friends had foretold, there was a future for them. A place like the one they had each described under the stars, a hearth shelf for their collection of trinkets to go on, for a life to build together.
And Keith saw that shell, and knew, deep down, that they wouldn’t ever get that. The shell was nothing more than a meaningless object.
Which is why he scooped it up as he walked past, not bothering to grab anything but his keys and his wallet and crushed the shell in his hand. He let the dust sprinkle out of his barely open fist as he walked out of their college dorm and Lance’s life forever.
Four weeks. Four weeks had gone by since they had spoken to each other, and Keith couldn’t take the silence anymore. The space between them, the way he kept opening his phone to text Lance about something that had happened, update him on his big thesis paper. Four weeks since Keith had made the worst mistake of his life.
But Lance hadn’t reached out either. He had gone dark on social media for a week, and then was right back to where he had been, posting photos of his smiling that stupid, wide smile that Keith knew was fake. Posted photos of him hanging out with Pidge and Hunk, snapchat stories of him complaining about his management class.
Pretended like Keith didn’t matter to him.
And now here Keith was, scrolling through Lance’s feed for the third time today, wondering how they had managed to go so wrong.
It was his fault.
Keith growled at the voice in his head as he slouched further into Shiro’s couch. It wasn’t his fault, not entirely. It was both of theirs, and it shouldn’t be Keith going back to Lance, given that Lance was the one who told him he wished Keith wasn’t in his life.
And it hurt—it hurt so goddamn much—to watch Lance live his life as if his words were truly something he meant.
But he—Keith couldn’t—he couldn’t take it. He couldn’t take it, the way his mind replayed the last thing he did, the last thing he said to Lance. Couldn’t stomach the idea that his dream, the one he hadn’t even realized he held so deeply until that night, wouldn’t be coming true. Because when he said it, he knew. Knew that Lance was the one he wanted to come home to, knew that he was the husband Keith was describing, knew that he would wait for him forever even if Lance’s perfect life didn’t have them married, or ever even dating. Knew that his life had revolved around Lance for longer than he could pinpoint, knew that he shouldn’t have crushed the shell. Knew that Lance’s trinkets meant more to him that he would ever say, and that one act would be something that Keith would regret for the rest of his days.
And it hurt, that Keith would need to be the one to go back and grovel and apologize if he wanted Lance back in his life.
But the dream… the dream with Lance and the shelves that held meaning from all the lives they were going to live… he couldn’t—wouldn’t—give up on that.
A knock sounded on the door just as Keith resolved to get up and find a way to make it up to him, Keith freezing.
It sounded again, and Keith slowly got up. This was Shiro’s apartment, so he probably shouldn’t answer the door. That would be weird, right? To answer someone else’s door?
A third knock, and Keith grimaced as he moved to open it. This was about to be awkward as hell.
But then Keith opened the door, and he knew the face on the other side.
“Lance.” A gasp, not a word.
There stood Lance, on the other side of the door looking miserable as all hell, dark bags under his eyes that the Instagram photos didn’t show. A rock was in his hands, and Keith glanced between it and his face.
“What are you—”
“I was wrong,” Lance blurt out. “I was so, so fucking wrong. Having you not in my life is one of the worst things to have ever happened to me.” Lance’s lower lip was trembling, and Keith felt like his entire world was on the brink of a cliff dive.
“I’m sorry,” Lance continued. “I didn’t know what I was saying, what I was doing. And these four weeks… I’m not functioning. I’m not working the way I’m supposed to, I’m not eating, I’m not sleeping. I can’t stand having you out of my life, Keith.”
The world wasn’t shaking; just Keith. Lance, in front of him, holding a rock that made no sense saying the words he wanted to hear. Lance, in front of him, but still so unreachable.
“I’ve known you since seventh grade, Keith. Since we were thirteen and here we are eight years later, and I… Keith. I can’t even begin to explain what you do to me. I can’t begin to explain how sorry I am, how much I regret what I said. I need you Keith. Please.”
Tears were coursing down Lance’s face and he was clutching the rock so tightly that his knuckles were white. And all Keith could focus on was that damn fucking rock.
“Why do you—” a thick swallow “—have that rock?”
And it was like Lance just noticed it. His grip loosened, and Lance looked down at his, blue eyes roving over the smooth surface. “My family never gave flowers. They died too quickly, my grandma always said. So, they gave rocks instead. They would last forever. My dad proposed to my mom with two rocks—a diamond and a pebble. And she still has it, sitting on her bedside table. And so—” his fingers loosen further until he’s just cradling it in his palm. “This is me saying I’m sorry.”
“Lance,” Keith says, and hates the way his voice breaks. “Lance,” like it’s the only word he knows.
“And I get it if you don’t want it—want me. I was a dick and it was my fault that fight happened and I’m so fucking regretful for every damn word that came out of my mouth. Keith—”
“Please stop talking,” Keith chokes out because he didn’t notice when he started crying but he certainly is now. “Fuck, Lance, I’m so sorry for walking out on you. I should have stayed, should have talked it out, should never have crushed that shell. I’m so sorry.”
And those stupid blue eyes look at him, full of remorse and pain and there, hidden in the shadows, is just a glimmer of hope. Like he doesn’t even dare to acknowledge it.
“We’re both fucking idiots,” Keith breathes, and it’s the straw that breaks the camel because they’re both surging forward, and Keith feels the rock connect with his chest, but he doesn’t fucking care because this is Lance and Lance is holding him.
And it feels like coming home.
They’re turning the key in the lock, and Lance is giggling, and Keith has a smile on his face so wide that he’s pretty sure the Joker would be proud.
“I can’t believe we did this.”
“I know. We’re like, barely adults.”
“And this is such an adult thing.”
“God does this make us like, an old gay couple now?”
Lance giggles at his poor joke, and Keith rests his head against his shoulder as Lance gently pushed the door open. It swings on its own, and Keith feels a surge of emotion at the sight of the empty foyer.
Their empty foyer.
“We bought a house,” Keith whispers.
“We bought a house,” Lance confirms.
They step inside, shaking off the winter cold and Keith feels like they’ve done this before; the nervous butterflies are there but this time he’s okay to be in love with Lance, because Lance is in love with him and they’ve left their bumbling teenage years behind.
“Come on, come on!” Lance urges, and Keith huffs at him in fondness.
“I can only move so fast. This box is way too fucking heavy.”
Lance scoffs, offended. “Those are memories, thank you very much.”
“Yeah, if you say so.”
But then Keith sets the box down and Lance is looking at him like that and Keith knows no one else has been loved quite like this. Knows that here—in the now and the future and all their past infinite moments—here is starlight. Here is dreams on roofs and awkward encounters in rooms and broken shells and rocks begging for forgiveness. Here is the future neither of them dared to voice, here is the home neither of them thought they deserved. Here is the promise of making memories in the forgotten, memories in the cheap fun that was worth all the food poisoning the next day.
Here is home. In the trinkets they’ve collected, placed upon the hearth that Lance insists is in fact a hearth, in the hip bumps and snickers pressed into shoulders and soft kisses as the reminisce over what it took to get here.
Home is Lance.
Dark has fallen outside, and Lance has his arms wrapped around Keith’s middle and Keith is leaning back into him, looking over at the only room they bothered to furnish, at all the memories they’ve made.
The straw dolls from Lance’s bedroom.
The cheap keychain from the Ocean City senior beach week.
The shell that Keith drove six hours to replace.
The rock that has a date etched into it, from a pocket knife that’s only purpose was to mark that fateful day.
The first key to their original apartment.
The carnival flyer from the time Lance had surprised him after a long day at work.
A set of winning raffle tickets that got them into an exclusive gala, dressed in tuxes while stumbling through fancy events.
The box that held the ring Keith proposed in.
As Keith scanned it, he realized that something was missing on top of the hearth. Shrugging out of the warmth of Lance’s embrace, he dug around in a nearby box until he found what he was looking for.
And the last trinket set upon the hearth that would soon hold many more was a single photo, the creases worn deeply into it but the figures still distinguishable.
He was stepping back, the fire catching the shinning in Lance’s eyes of un-spilled tears, and into the embrace he never thought he’d be able to call his.
Younger versions of them—a photo taken the day they met—smiled back at them, gap-toothed and boyish.
“Welcome home, love,” Lance whispered into his ear.
Keith liked the sound of that.