Shiro catches him in the kitchen of the Captain’s quarters on the Atlas after everyone else has left, resting his big Altean hand on Keith’s elbow to get his attention. Keith turns to him with lifted eyebrows, licking cake from the corner of his mouth as Shiro slides his hand up the back of his arm to squeeze Keith’s shoulder.
“Hey, birthday boy,” he says with a smile.
Keith rolls his eyes and lets out a little ‘pfft’. “Hey yourself, old man.”
Shiro scoffs, jiggles Keith’s shoulder a bit before he lets go and wraps his arm around Keith’s back instead, pulling him close until he’s tucked against Shiro’s side. “You doing okay?”
“Am I—...?” Keith snorts at the question. “I’m eating leftover cake from the surprise birthday party that you and the rest of my friends and my mom threw together.” He points the fork that’s still holding a piece of creamy chocolate cake at Shiro and can't stop himself from smiling wide. “Trust me, I’ve never been better.”
It might be a Tuesday night and they still have to be on constant alert in case of an emergency, so it’s not like there’d been any alcohol at the party. But the happiness from having people who love him and the warmth of belonging that comes with it—especially combined with the heat of Shiro pressed up close to him this way—still manages to make Keith's head spin a little all on its own.
He shoves the piece of cake into his mouth, hoping that if there’s any hint of a blush on his cheeks, it won’t show.
“So you had fun?” Shiro says.
“Shiro. This was the best birthday I’ve ever had.”
“I’m glad.” Shiro doesn’t move, only smiles softly at him before his eyes flicker to the fork in Keith’s hand longingly. “Bit different from when it was just you and me and some dry cupcakes, yeah?”
“Hey, now,” Keith says, “I was always very supportive of your dry cupcakes.”
Shiro laughs. “To be fair, they weren’t even really my cupcakes. I just—bought the mix and shoved them into the oven.”
“I know you’re trying to make yourself sound better, buddy, but that just makes it worse.”
“Right.” Shiro twists his mouth to hide his amusement, his eyes falling back to the plate of cake.
“Want some?” Keith says and lifts the fork to Shiro’s lips.
Keith tries not to stare too openly when Shiro takes the offered bite, watching as the fork slides out of his mouth and Shiro's tongue pokes out to catch the chocolate frosting ending up on his top lip. Quickly scrambling for something else to focus on, Keith ends up cutting off another piece of cake, holding it up for Shiro again. Shiro accepts it willingly, but laughs and shakes his head when Keith goes for a third piece. “Alright, that’s—thanks, but I’m done. I’ve already earned half an hour extra on the treadmill now in addition to everything else I need to make up for stuffing in my body tonight.”
“Stop that.” Keith gives him a stern little glare when Shiro pats his stomach with his prosthetic hand, as if touching his abs wouldn’t still feel like poking a concrete wall of chiseled muscles. Keith shovels the bite into his own mouth instead, saying around it, “Youwe aweady pefwec 'n you know it,” before he swallows and wipes the back of his hand over his lips. “And you’d still be perfect even if you just sat in your office and did nothing but eat cake all day long and never worked out again, too.”
“That’s very sweet of you to say, but I think I’ll pass.” Shiro smiles again, but his ears have gone pink—which at least means that he believes him, since Keith knows that Shiro’s only ever been good at accepting compliments when he can brush it off as rose-tinted praise. Shiro slides his left hand up to stroke at Keith’s neck before he leans into Keith’s temple, whispering there conspiratorially, “Mostly because just sitting in my office all day sounds really fucking boring.”
“Alright,” Keith stage-whispers back with a chuckle, “I think you might have a point.”
They end up staying like that, leaning into each other’s space as comfortable silence stretches between them, Shiro’s fingers rubbing gently at Keith’s skin. Keith shivers a little, savoring the feeling. It’s nice, when it’s just the two of them. As much as Keith had pretended to stay behind only so he could be polite and help with cleaning up the kitchen, even as the rest of the people rolled their eyes and happily left Keith to it, he always appreciates being around Shiro in a way he never does with anyone else. With Shiro, it’s as if his presence helps to charge Keith’s batteries, instead of draining them.
“So what did you wish for?”
“What?” Keith blinks himself back to the moment, seeing Shiro point with his prosthetic hand at the candles lying next to the cake, where Keith had carefully put them after blowing them out earlier. Feeling his face heat up at the question and the thought of Shiro finding out the answer to it, Keith goes back to jabbing his fork at the cake, even though he’s pretty sure that he’ll get nauseous if he tries to eat any more of it. “I, uh. I can’t tell you that.”
“...Because it... won’t happen if I do, right?”
“Guess that’s true,” Shiro says with a pout and Keith pulls up his phone before Shiro can scrutinize him any further, catch his obvious deflecting. Keith taps the screen to look at the time before smiling, sliding it back into the pocket of his pants.
“Well, don’t worry about it, anyway. Only eleven minutes left to midnight, and I wished for it to happen on my birthday, so—guess it’s not gonna come true this year either.”
“What?” Shiro pulls back, exasperated and wide-eyed. Keith only realizes his mistake once it’s too late, how it really wasn’t the right thing to say if he wanted Shiro to drop the whole thing. Bravely facing the potential of throwing up from too much sweetness, Keith shoves another huge piece of cake into his mouth. He tries to look away, but Shiro doesn’t seem to agree with the fact that leaving Keith to his chewing is some incredibly important business. “C’mon! It’s something you’ve wished for before, too? Now you have to tell me.”
“Nuh-uh.” Keith shakes his head, mouth still stuffed with cake.
“Keith. If you tell me, maybe we can make it happen? You can’t just stand around here waiting for it! Keith. Keith. Chase those dreams, Keith—”
Keith coughs around the bite, can’t stop himself from laughing over how worked up Shiro’s gotten. He knocks his fist against his chest and swallows as best as he can. “Seriously,” he says around his chuckle, barely able to remember why he’s feeling embarrassed to begin with, because the fondness he feels when he looks at Shiro washes away anything else. “It’s okay, Shiro. Relax.”
“No, it’s not.” Shiro’s left hand, still on Keith’s neck, shifts a little to slide his fingers high enough that he can gently tangle them in the strands of Keith’s hair while his thumb rubs insistent circles near a spot behind Keith’s ear. “It’s your birthday. You deserve to have everything you wish for come true.”
Keith tries to wave him off again, but having Shiro’s sincerity and determined concern directed at him always manages to leave him tongue-tied even on the most ordinary of days, in whatever casual situation Keith’s facing it. And here, now, in his excitement to find out what Keith wants, Shiro doesn’t even seem to register what he keeps doing with his hand, but his grip tightens at the base of Keith’s neck. He moves his fingers in a way that’s probably supposed to be soothing, kneading so fiercely it’s practically turning into a deep tissue massage, and it kind of makes Keith want to moan out loud.
Which—would be bad.
Horrifically embarrassing, to say the least.
“I’m good, Shiro,” he mumbles, blushing. “We’re cool. Told you, I’ve already had the best night, none of you guys have to worry about doing anything else for me.”
“But it is something we could do for you, then?” Shiro squints his eyes. “If I just figure it out?”
“I—I didn’t say—” Keith stammers for an answer, because it’s not as if his wish coming true is physically out of reach, an actual impossibility. Really. Keith would hardly need to move at all. Maybe lean up a bit on his tiptoes is all it would take for him to fit his lips against Shiro’s, and there he’d have it.
As much as Keith wants it, though, it’s not for him to take. Whether it’s his birthday or not.
Keith squirms away when Shiro goes to poke him in the side, finally sliding out of his hold to get better control of his ability to think.
He pushes past him to round the corner of the kitchen isle, grabbing the plate of cake to drag along with him, staring down at it once he stops. Maybe it’s the sugar high that’s getting to him, maybe it’s because he’s content and a bit sleepy from the long evening—maybe it’s because everything else in his life is so good, combined with how easy talking to Shiro has always been, and how determined his best friend currently is to find out what Keith’s lacking to have made this the perfect birthday. Maybe it’s all of it, but Keith finds himself saying, “Yes. Okay? Yeah, I guess it is something that could happen... technically.”
Shiro crosses his arms. “So why won’t you tell me?”
“Told you.” Keith taps the side of his own nose before pointing at Shiro. “Bad luck.”
“It’s not bad luck to tell me if I promise I’ll make sure it comes true for you.”
“Gonna have to disagree on that,” Keith huffs out, wanting to squirm from feeling so far backed into a corner. Actually telling Shiro now after Shiro’s proclaimed something like that would place them firmly where Keith has done everything in his power to avoid going. He’d never put it on Shiro to fulfill his promise, especially not like this, when he’s given it with no idea of what it’d involve. Still, he knows Shiro well enough to know that he’ll never let it go, not if Keith doesn’t give him a good reason for it. “Listen, tell you what. If you can figure it out on your own, it’s up to you whether I should get it or not... but I really think you should just drop it.”
Shiro cocks his head, lips pursed in thought. “Do I at least get a clue?” he says, completely ignoring the last part of Keith’s sentence, because of course he does.
Of course he’d see it as a challenge.
“Do I... need to go get any of the other Paladins to help make it happen?” Shiro leans his hip against the counter in a way that has the arms crossed over his chest shift with the movement. Keith can’t stop himself from staring, his wide-eyed gaze lingering on Shiro’s one bicep bulging and the shape of his pecs under his tight black shirt. Keith meant what he'd told him—Shiro will always be perfect no matter what he looks like, Keith didn’t say it just to be nice. It’s not as if his huge body is the reason Keith loves him, but what Shiro does look like is still frankly unreal. He’s so beautiful, so, so beautiful, it’s not fair—
Keith snaps his eyes back up again, blinking at Shiro where he’s slowly looking Keith over with a raised eyebrow. Somehow through the dawning mortification over his own fawning, Keith at least manages to find it in himself to shake his head in response. “I, uh—no. That’s—... no. Won't need them. Wouldn't need them.”
“Hm.” Shiro shifts again, and if Keith didn't know any better, he could swear Shiro's doing it on purpose this time, something familiarly playful twinkling in his eyes when he says, “What about your mom? Or the wolf?”
With another small shake of his head, Keith breathes out a, “Nope.”
“I see.” Shiro swipes a hand across his jaw, rubbing thoughtfully at his chin. Then he quirks one corner of his mouth into a smirk as his palm comes down to rest on the kitchen countertop instead, fixing his gaze on Keith, and something lurches hard in Keith’s chest when Shiro starts walking. He follows the steps Keith took until he comes up next to him again, sliding his hand along the surface of the countertop, not stopping until it's resting right next to Keith’s own. “Coran, then?” Shiro says. “Iverson?”
Keith lets out what's supposed to be a laughter, but it mostly ends up as a squeak. His breathing feels weird, his chest suddenly too-tight with everything he’s feeling for Shiro rattling around in there. “Getting colder there, Captain,” Keith says, looking up at him through his bangs. “I—really wouldn’t want what I’m thinking of from Iverson.”
Shiro hums, watching the small space left between their hands. “Then...” he starts, sounding far too casual as he moves his pointer finger a little, “does it have anything to do...” Shiro lifts his gaze to meet Keith's own just as he touches the top of Keith’s knuckles, “with—me?”
Keith still doesn’t understand the how and the why of his body’s reactions to Shiro. He can’t explain how such a simple tease of a touch and hearing Shiro’s voice slightly lowered can make Keith feel like he might as well be back up in space, falling towards the vast nothingness of an endless void, given how little control he has over the situation—but still he knows without a doubt, that if it's with Shiro, it’s the right choice to be by his side.
Because as much as it hurts to want him so badly at times, Keith still wouldn’t trade the way he loves Shiro for anything in the world.
“...Warmer,” Keith breathes out, and he might not have meant for his voice to sound like that, turned into something like a husky whisper, but it’s definitely how it comes out. He’d probably feel horrified if he wasn’t already so busy trying to deal with the countless other emotions flitting through his mind, but then he can’t focus on any of it at all. Because Shiro crowds in closer, forcing Keith to turn around, until his backside presses up against the counter.
Keith scrambles with his hands, clutching the edges of the countertop so hard his knuckles turn white to keep himself anchored because holy shit. He might know what Shiro looks like, Keith knows the beauty of him, knows how nice and sturdy his hugs are with his strong arms—or the one arm, at times—wrapped around Keith’s back and Keith’s nose tucked against Shiro’s collarbone. No one knows better than Keith how sweet and heart-melting Shiro’s smile can be. Yet his senses feel overwhelmed, like Keith’s seeing the man for the first time in his life, with Shiro standing all close and imposing right in front of him like this, really looking down at Keith.
“Keith,” Shiro says, and as if the close proximity of their bodies wasn’t enough, he slides his hand up to rest his warm palm over the back of one of Keith’s hands, where it’s still gripping the countertop like a lifeline. His thumb lands high enough to stroke the thin skin at the back of Keith’s wrist, the pulse beneath it beating in a rapid scared-rabbit rhythm for Shiro by now. “You know you can ask me for anything, right? Anything at all, and I’d give it to you.”
Keith stares up at him, wondering if all that cake he stuffed himself with made him pass out. Or perhaps he was knocked out by the cork of the alcohol-free bottle of champagne they popped open earlier, and now he’s lying unconscious on the floor and creeping closer to death, with this playing in his mind. Maybe he just never woke up from his coma after he crashed to Earth with Black and this is another one of his weird vivid dreams he had during it.
It takes him a moment, but somehow Keith manages to find his words—because simply part of some on-his-way-to-the-after-life imagination or not, he figures he still needs to reply.
“I don’t want to ask for this,” Keith says, taking a deep breath to find his courage. He barely keeps his voice from trembling on the exhale, but he steels his jaw, because this is important. “I want you to give it to me because it’s what you want.”
His eyes flick down to Shiro’s lips at the thought of what he wants before he can make a conscious effort not to, and he quickly snaps them back up at the realization of what he’s doing. Shiro’s eyebrows go up, his own wide-eyed gaze lowering down Keith’s face, landing below his nose, before he smooths out his expression, looking far too forcibly neutral.
Then he shifts, and Keith has half a second where his heart plummets through his stomach, images flitting through his mind of Shiro stepping back and laughing at whatever’s happening—good joke, bro—or, worse, looking uncomfortable and upset.
Shiro doesn’t do any of it, though.
Instead he lifts his left hand, fitting his palm against Keith’s cheek, and Keith’s heart gets yanked back up again so fast from where it’d been free-falling that he feels dizzy.
“But how would you know if you didn’t ask me?” Shiro murmurs.
Keith opens his mouth, then shuts it again. Everything about this is so far beyond anything he’s imagined actually happening that there’s no way to convince himself it’s not all one big misunderstanding. “Shiro, I—I don’t—” Keith closes his eyes, trying to fumble for an explanation for why he’d never even bring it up around him in any other situation. “Shiro, I know you, and I know you’re too good at doing what others want, and I would never want to make you feel like... I mean, I could handle you turning me down, but I don’t want you to feel like you’re not enough for me just as you are? Or—or like this would just be you doing me some favor, something out of some weird sense of obligation—”
“Keith,” Shiro’s voice cuts through his rambling, his one way of saying his name enough to slice through any panic, as comforting as the grip Shiro has always offered up for Keith’s shoulder whenever Keith can't calm his racing heart on his own. A breath shakes out of Keith and he looks up at Shiro again, his dark eyes as soft and kind as always when he strokes his thumb across Keith’s cheek, gently touching the bump of Keith’s scar. Shiro moves his right hand too, using it to tuck a strand of hair behind Keith’s ear before he cups Keith’s face in both of his palms. Then, as if this is all easy and normal and Keith isn’t two seconds away from passing out, Shiro smiles. “As much as I appreciate the whole ‘knight in shining armor’-thing you’ve got going on with me, you don’t have to protect me from everything, you know.”
Keith can’t help his frown at that, the reaction instant and knee-jerk. “I know that, Shiro. That’s not what I—... I just don’t think it’d hurt if someone would consider your feelings, too, for once—”
“Keith.” Shiro leans in closer, his voice all low and his smile sharp and teasing when he murmurs, “Trust me. I’m a big boy. I can decide for myself what I want... if I know what I want is even an option.”
Keith’s proud of himself for not letting out a whimper, all things considered.
It’s a close call, though, made worse by Shiro’s eyes once again moving down Keith's face, settling on his lips.
“That's part of caring about my feelings too, yeah, wouldn't you say?” Shiro asks quietly, looking back up at him, and for a moment the playful confidence on his face softens, expression turning almost as stunned as Keith feels.
“…Yeah. Yes, I—” Keith trails off, completely lost on where to go from here, how to wrap his head around all, or any, of this. “Of course it is. I would never—I mean I just thought that you didn’t—? Because it's not like you have ever said anything about—”
“So,” Shiro cuts him off, and with all the blood rushed to his head, Keith is only vaguely aware of how Shiro’s ears have gone red again, how he’s clearly trying to deflect any mention of his own hand in keeping his feelings about—whatever this is from Keith. Then Shiro’s face smooths back into something a little more daring, a little more wicked. One of the corners of his mouth quirks up again, and Keith can’t do anything but stare when Shiro says, “Are we still getting warmer?”
“We, ah. We're,” Keith starts, huffing out a breathless laugh, and given how overcome with disbelief he is, he’s just impressed that he’s able to form any words at all, “definitely... um, definitely getting there, I think. Yeah.”
Keith is saved from having to wonder what happens next because Shiro leans down, closing the space between them, and presses his lips to Keith’s.
Despite all the clues leading up to this being the natural progression of events, Keith’s eyes fly open in shock. His whole body freezes up, hands once more tightening their grip on the countertop, holding still with a force like thick-layered ice wrapped over tree branches.
He can’t breathe.
He can’t move.
Keith can’t think, because apparently this is something that Shiro has wanted for who-knows-how-long, too, and clearly Keith isn’t as good at reading his best friend and the situations they’re in as Keith has always liked to believe. How long? How long has this been an option that Keith has never even known about? How long has Shiro—
Shiro starts to pull back with a little frown when Keith stays unresponsive to his touch, a furrow formed between his brows.
Keith blinks up at him, where Shiro’s watching him with uncertainty in his eyes.
Met with the sight of it, Keith’s brain finally decides to kick-start back up again, and he gets catapulted back into the present. The icy grip of Keith’s fingers breaks like a winter lake cracking open with the arrival of spring as the realization of what the hell is actually happening washes over him—because Shiro is standing in front of him, all warm and sunny and still cupping Keith’s face after kissing him.
“Nocomeback!” Keith hurries out in objection just as Shiro drops his hands and makes to step away. He lets go of the countertop, lets go of any skidding thoughts and all the tension in his body, then throws himself forward so he can wrap his arms around Shiro’s neck, eagerly pulling him back against his chest and capturing his lips with his own again.
Shiro lets out a startled little, “Mmpf,” against Keith’s mouth, but quickly winds his own arms around Keith’s waist, and kisses him back without hesitation. Shiro moans softly in reward to Keith’s touch, the sound of it traveling straight through Keith’s body and squeezing his heart, the force of it only intensifying when Shiro puts one palm between Keith’s shoulder blades and shuffles one foot forward to press them even closer.
Keith melts against him, sliding one hand up to the nape of Shiro’s neck and keeping him in place so he can kiss him even harder, then tentatively parts his lips as an offer for Shiro to do what he wants with. He tries to hold back on taking the lead himself, because as much as Keith wants to be greedy—eager and impatient to make up for all the years that he’s dreamed about this—he wants this to be good for Shiro, too.
(...Doesn’t he always want to be good for Shiro? something lodged low in his body muses at the back of his mind, and Keith’s fingers curl against the fabric of Shiro’s shirt at the thought of it, because—wow, yeah, okay, whoa—)
Shiro doesn't seem to have any objections about getting to set the pace, but he keeps the kiss chaste, using his hands to tilt Keith’s face where he wants him and finding a perfect fit for their mouths. Still keeping it sweet and teasing with just a promise of what could be, their tongues barely brush before Shiro draws back, moving their lips together, only letting them part a fraction for their breath to come hot in the space between them before Shiro presses in close again.
Keith kisses him back, slow and curious the way that Shiro’s kissing him, both of them trying out the feel of each other’s mouths, until Keith’s all loose-muscled and lost in the moment. He wants to stay like this forever, but Keith barely has time to think it before Shiro gently pulls away with one last long press of his lips against Keith’s, and there’s the softest sound of their mouths parting.
As confused over how in the world they even got here as Keith might still be, he’s not going to waste time complaining about or even questioning it. Not when he gets to watch as a wide smile spreads on Shiro's face, his eyelids fluttering open and blinking a couple of times, like Shiro doesn’t really know how to recover from this. The tip of his ears are far from the only parts of Shiro that are flushed anymore, his cheeks almost a shade deep enough to match the scar sliced across the bridge of his nose, and his lips are kissed red and a little wet as well. Keith’s chest blooms with pride and nerves at the realization that he is the one to reduce Shiro to the sight in front of him.
“How about now?” Shiro whispers, voice a little hitched. He slides his hands down from Keith’s waist to rest them on his hips instead, digging his thumbs into the skin over the bone there.
“What?” Keith says, kissed dumb and unable to look away from Shiro’s eyes or register anything but how good it feels to be touched by him this way.
“Am I still getting warmer?” Shiro says, doing a poor job of hiding his grin, and the sudden laugh snorts out of Keith.
“Boiling hot,” Keith murmurs and lifts his chin, dipping his head back down with a blush when he realizes just how ridiculous he must have sounded. Shiro just chuckles softly too and lifts a hand to put it under Keith’s chin, using the tip of two fingers to gently guide his face back up for another kiss. Keith’s eyelids flutter shut at the gesture, shivering as he breathes out against Shiro’s lips. Despite Shiro barely being a full head taller than him nowadays, Keith still feels so gut-pooling small this close to him, crowded in by his broad shoulders and big arms, even Shiro’s left palm large enough to be a perfect fit against the whole side of Keith's jaw.
“Hey, Keith?” Shiro whispers once the kiss ends, rubbing the tip of his nose against Keith’s own.
“Happy birthday,” Keith whispers back, closing his eyes before his brain catches up with what he said. He snaps his eyes open again, staring up at Shiro. “I, uh—I mean. Thank you?”
Shiro barks out a laugh, swaying further into Keith’s space and wrapping both of his arms around Keith’s back. He pulls Keith into a tight hug, and something so warm burns in Keith’s body with affection that he thinks he might just end up crying from it. He clasps his own arms around Shiro and hugs him hard, then tucks his nose against the fabric of Shiro’s shirt and breathes in the scent of him in a way that Keith has never been able to do before, has never allowed himself to do before, now letting it fill his lungs completely.
“Can’t believe you wanted to kiss me,” Shiro murmurs and noses at Keith’s hair while pressing his lips to his temple, and Keith bites his bottom lip over the feeling of being held so close by the one man in his life whose shirt smells like home.
“I can’t believe that you wanted to kiss me,” Keith says, the words slightly muffled from where he’s still face-planted into Shiro's chest. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”
Shiro pulls back, opening his mouth to say something in his defense, but Keith doesn’t wait to hear the words. Instead he surges up to close the space between them again. He grips Shiro’s neck and kisses him hard from the start, and thankfully this time Shiro wastes no time before parting his lips for him too. Shiro cups Keith’s face and kisses him back in a way that has Keith gasping when their tongues slide together, leaving him desperate to chase after the feeling for more—to have Shiro do this with him until it’s been so long that people will have to come looking for them.
“Keith...” Shiro valiantly tries to murmur against his lips, but he doesn’t actually stop their kissing, only tightening his hold on Keith instead.
Shiro finally tips his head back, just enough to break away from Keith’s mouth, then looks at him, smirking and amused. “You taste like cake, you know.”
Keith licks his lips, then cranes his neck to reach Shiro’s face again up there so he can kiss him hard and close-mouthed once more. He lets his eyelids slip shut as he lingers, and doesn’t say something like you taste like everything I’ve ever wanted, doesn’t say something like you taste like the only person I’ve ever loved like this and like pressing my mouth to yours is where I belong.
Hopefully Shiro knows all of that by now.
And if not, at least Keith knows that he’s finally allowed to show him now, fully, with nothing held back or kept in the dark anymore.
“Dunno what you taste like,” he whispers against Shiro’s lips instead, because words are still hard things to voice out loud, to put out there into the world, no matter how much Keith loves Shiro without a doubt or hesitation or shame; no matter how much he trusts Shiro more than he trusts himself most of the time. “But... I really like it.”
“Yeah?” Shiro smiles, tugging Keith even closer by folding his arms around his waist and holding him in place, the whole lines of their bodies pressed together as Shiro stands there and simply looks at him for a long moment. Then his smile gently slips away as he starts to lean down, and Keith’s eyebrows raise when Shiro pauses a moment from his lips. Keith tries to close the space between them, but Shiro teasingly turns away from his mouth, smiling again like he’s being coy about it when it makes Keith end up chasing his lips, and Keith’s heart feels close to bursting with impatience and anticipation as their foreheads press together instead.
Just as Keith’s about to yank Shiro down with a growl because he can’t stand it anymore, Shiro tilts his head and finally fits his mouth to his again.
The kiss starts sweet and slow as Shiro licks into his mouth like it really is a gift he wants to give Keith, a present offered for the birthday boy. Shiro moves his hands to Keith's neck and puts his thumbs at Keith's jaw before his hold tightens, firm enough for Keith to be aware of how he's held in place while Shiro kisses him, even if there's no part of him that would ever try to get away from this. Shiro moans, coaxing Keith's lips apart with his tongue, until Keith catches on and lets his mouth fall open completely, a soft whine escaping him as his eyelids flutter shut. Then Shiro surges in harder and kisses him sure and deep and so good that Keith’s eyes practically roll back in his head, and there’s nothing at all coy about any of this anymore.
Keith knows what Shiro’s like when he’s showing off, when he’s confident and a bit cocky over what he can do, and this, Keith realizes with a heavy swoop dropping low in his stomach while his nails dig into Shiro’s shoulders, this is it. Every way that Shiro’s using his tongue against Keith’s own is the calculated and perfected movement of someone who knows exactly what he’s doing, and it’s making both the size of Keith’s heart feel too much for his chest to contain and his pants steadily approach uncomfortable levels of too-tightness.
Keith groans, just as much from the feeling of getting kissed like this by him as from the thought of Shiro wanting to make him feel this good, of Shiro wanting to impress Keith with this. Keith could probably die a happy man like this, staying pliant under Shiro’s hands; could let Shiro do whatever the hell he wants with him and his mouth and never see the need to complain. As thankful as Keith is for Shiro's strong grip on his face and Shiro taking charge, though, Keith has always loved following Shiro's lead and then showing Shiro just what he can do—not simply trailing after him blindly.
So with all the effort of someone who has never done this before but has always been eager to learn everything that Shiro has to teach him, Keith tries his hardest to keep up.
If Shiro finds it sloppy or bad while Keith does his best to find a balance between not overthinking things yet still making sure that Shiro doesn't choke on his tongue—not entirely sure he succeeds at either—at least he doesn’t let it show. Shiro only answers with his own hummed little moans in encouragement whenever Keith makes a noise that he can’t hold back, matching Keith's eagerness and knowingly repeating something when Keith's responsive in a way that Shiro seems to want to get more of.
Keith has to clutch the front of Shiro’s shirt to steady himself once they finally pull back for air. Mouth still open and eyes dazed, Keith sways a little in place, because he hadn't realized until now that this is obviously the main reason for why he even has a tongue to begin with.
He dares to look up at Shiro, and at least any potential embarrassment Keith would have felt over his own state is saved by the fact that Shiro isn’t looking much better off himself. Matching Keith’s stunned expression with his lips all wet and kiss-bruised, Shiro’s pupils are blown wide, making Keith’s hold twist tighter in the fabric bunched in his fists. But there’s something else there, too, something smug dancing over Shiro’s features as he studies Keith's face, looking him over like he’s searching for clues for something with a quirk at one of the corners of his mouth and a slight lift to his left eyebrow.
It’s the way Shiro looks when he’s proud of himself.
When he knows that he's done good, and for all of his humble gentleness and sweet personality, there's also the confident and cocky part of Shiro. The part of him that Keith knows is well aware of how most other people think that Shiro is hot shit and better than everyone else at a lot of things. And, sometimes, Shiro is proud of that fact too.
He should be, Keith thinks, with his lips still tingling from feeling the ghost of Shiro's mouth on his own.
Keith swallows and tries to get his bearings back, to think of something of his own to say or do that he can impress Shiro with. Something that will get Shiro just as speechless, make him feel just as needy as Keith does.
“I love you,” is what leaves him.
It's probably not the smoothest thing Keith could have picked if he wanted to match the mood that Shiro has currently set for them, but Keith has to say it. Because he does. He does love him, and he’s told Shiro that before, but Keith has never told him what it means.
Shiro closes his eyes and makes a small noise like those words are just as world-shaking as any first time getting tongue-kissed until your jaw aches with it by the man you've loved for years. Then he smiles and looks at Keith again, looking all young and adorable and happy—battle-scarred and buff and grey-haired as he is. “I love you too, Keith.”
Keith squints his eyes. “Like love-love me, right?”
Shiro lifts a hand, metal fingers cold and soothing as they stroke back a couple of strands of hair from Keith's forehead again, his other arm staying wrapped around Keith's waist. “Like ‘would’ve kissed you months ago if I’d known you wanted me to’-love you.”
“Well.” Keith licks his bottom lip and stares at the perfect shape of Shiro’s mouth, distantly wondering if he’ll ever be able to look away from it now when he knows what it can do.
And to think that just yesterday, Keith had still been trying to tell himself that he was perfectly fine with staying friends and nothing else with Shiro for the rest of their lives. One never truly does know how great the wisdom that comes with aging is until you can look back and realize what an absolute dumbass your younger self was.
“That’s good,” Keith says. “Because I’m pretty sure it’s past midnight by now, and I really don’t want to stop kissing you just because it’s not my birthday anymore.”
“That is good,” Shiro murmurs in agreement with the start of a smile that Keith catches the end of with his mouth, the two of them melting into each other once more.
Keith lets himself lose himself fully in it this time, without any interruptions from his own mind wondering if he's doing things right and no whispered words between them, only soft low noises and sweet sighs that both of them chase to swallow. Determined to learn the shape of Shiro’s mouth with his tongue until he knows it by heart, Keith lets his hands skid up over Shiro's forearms, one hand up his bicep, the other moving across the empty space of air to meet at Shiro’s shoulders before he strokes them down and over Shiro’s chest while Shiro pushes into his touch.
Keith tries his best to hold back any too-desperate moans fighting their way out, to not whimper with want in a way that would be embarrassing. Which proves more and more difficult the longer they kiss, because he might not know exactly what to do to make sure that this is good for Shiro too, but god does Keith know what he wants. He can’t stop himself from thinking about how badly he wants to stick his hands in under the hem of Shiro’s shirt, to feel his bare skin against his palms, slide them over muscles with nothing between them. Keith wants to map out all the places below Shiro’s neck with his tongue, wants everything with and everything from Shiro—his best friend and the best person that Keith knows, who for some reason wants this with and from Keith, too.
Shiro’s prosthetic hand moves to Keith’s hair, gripping and twisting at a fistful of strands. It hardly makes it easier for Keith to hold back his eager need to whine, especially not when Shiro decides to tug Keith’s head back with his hold on his hair and then moves his mouth down to kiss at the long line of Keith’s throat that Shiro’s offering up for himself.
His left hand strokes up the side of Keith’s waist before feeling out the shape of Keith’s upper arm, then sliding up over Keith’s shoulder. Shiro skates his hand down Keith’s chest and back around at his waist, following the curve of Keith’s spine and edging closer to his ass. Shiro sucks a mark into Keith's neck and then comes back to kiss his lips, his palm retreating the same way up without ever getting nearly low enough—like either Shiro can’t decide on where he wants to touch Keith first, or he just can’t figure out where he's allowed to put his hands.
Keith groans against Shiro's mouth at that thought and wraps his arms around Shiro's neck, holding him close in something like a clingy hug while they kiss.
Keith would let Shiro touch him wherever Shiro wants to.
He wants Shiro to touch him all over.
Keith sighs as he bites down on Shiro’s bottom lip, sucking on it gently to soothe any sting, then continues to press their mouths together. They kiss, again and again, because they're close and they can, until the hurried heat between them slows into something calmer—kissing still for what feels like an endless moment, lips never parting for too long, until they finally end up pulling back enough for a pause to stretch between them. Both of their breaths still come heavy in the space between them, and as Keith watches Shiro look at him all heavy-lidded, he can’t stop himself from wondering what this view would be like horizontal, with Shiro gasping above or beneath Keith instead.
Shiro licks his lips, eyes dark and intense on his in a way that Keith has never seen them before. Keith feels his whole body shiver, because maybe Shiro's thinking about the same thing that he is.
Keith bites his bottom lip and closes his eyes, then before he can think himself out of it, he takes a step back and places his hands on the countertop, preparing to hoist himself up on it. Shiro watches him wide-eyed for all of half a second when he realizes what Keith’s doing, and then he follows, grabbing with two broad palms under Keith’s thighs to help, practically flinging Keith up with the ease of which he lifts him. Keith’s ass hits the countertop and he can’t even decide whether he wants to laugh at the whole thing or make a noise that he’d feel self-conscious over, but Shiro’s just standing there in front of him, still staring at Keith with something like wonder on his face.
So instead of wasting any time on making up his mind, Keith reaches out to grab the back of Shiro’s neck, and pulls him in closer. He spreads his legs wide in invitation for Shiro to step between them, then crashes their mouths back together with a loud moan when Shiro eagerly follows and kisses him again.
Shiro’s hands land right above Keith’s knees, fingers digging in to grip the muscles of his thighs before he slides his way up the whole length of them, stopping too close and not nearly close enough to where Keith really wants him. The force of their kiss has Keith bending backwards while Shiro licks into his mouth, the fingers high on Keith’s thighs tightening and squeezing, making Keith let out a low growl and try to roll his hips forward, rutting against Shiro despite being practically pinned in place by him.
Shiro moans, all deep and guttural as he rubs his thumbs at the inner seams of Keith’s pants, only to ease up and slowly stroke his hands back down after just a moment. Keith hates Shiro for the teasing, immediately missing his touch, but then Shiro grips at the back of Keith's calves instead and pulls him even closer, and Keith forgets all about what he was thinking. Shiro presses him flush up against his own body, putting a palm at the small of Keith's back to urge him on while Keith locks his legs tightly around him.
“Shiro... oh f—oh god, you—that's—mn,” Keith whimpers loudly when Shiro finally, finally grabs Keith’s ass in both of his big palms and pushes their hips together firmly. Head tipping back, Keith closes his eyes at the ceiling while Shiro moves his lips down from Keith's mouth, giving a bite to his chin that makes Keith hot all over. Then he gets back to Keith’s neck, Shiro’s teeth dragging along the column of his throat while his left hand slips in under the back of Keith's shirt.
Keith swears he hears Shiro whisper, “Baby,” while trailing kisses beneath the curve of Keith’s jaw. But his voice is so low that Keith wonders if he made it up, the word wrapped up in all the other little noises Shiro lets out, apparently all breathy and needy when he's making out.
(And if, Keith thinks, he really did get knocked out earlier at the party and this is just what’s happening on his way to the afterlife, he hopes that whatever deity put him on this road knows that Keith is at least thoroughly enjoying where he’s headed.)
Keith stutters out another moan, arching his back to curve their bodies even closer while grabbing a fistful of Shiro’s bangs, pulling his head back so he can get to Shiro’s mouth again. Pressed closed like this, with Shiro's metal hand even bolder now where it's squeezing at its handful of Keith’s ass, Keith wants very, very much to find out what this will be like once they are in a horizontal position.
He can’t muster up the willpower to pause them long enough to say so, though, doesn't want to be the one to stop any of this, even if it’d only be for a moment. Instead he grabs Shiro's face, holds him still and moves his tongue against his, licking into his mouth the way Shiro had done earlier to make Keith weak-kneed and stunned.
“Keith.” Shiro suddenly breaks away, pulling back half a step with his eyes squeezed shut.
“Wh–?” Keith blinks, practically panting while dropping his hands to lean back on the counter now when he doesn't have Shiro's arms around him, then loosens the hold of his legs around Shiro’s hips as well to let him go. With Shiro no longer touching him and after getting jerked out from being so caught up in the moment, Keith's quickly faced with the realization of just how fast all of this escalated. His voice comes rough when he says, “What’s wrong? What happened? Was it—”
Of course it was, god, Keith can't decide whether he wants to sink through the floor or kick himself. Maybe both. He has to seem like the universe's biggest—
“No, no, nothing's wrong, I—” Shiro huffs out a laugh as he shakes his head, still flustered as he peeks up at Keith from beneath his lashes, not looking the least displeased with what's been happening. Then he murmurs, “’m just... y’know. Probably gonna need a moment if you keep doing that.”
“Oh.” Keith bites his bottom lip around his blush, but he can’t hide his grin. His panic is calmed as quick as it came, soothed by the realization that it’s not just Keith that’s being desperate and eager, even though they only just shared their first kiss. Well—many kisses, by now. And that in itself, how they haven’t kissed until now, is probably the biggest reason and best explanation for why Keith wants all of this all at once so badly anyway, come to think of it.
Knowing that he's not alone in his longing is comforting enough that Keith can’t bother to care if he does seem like the universe's biggest, most inexperienced and embarrassing teenager, despite his age.
Shiro has never made fun of him for anything, anyway.
“Is that all?” Keith says, still red-faced but smiling as he reaches for Shiro and tugs him forward to get close to him again.
Except how eager Keith is makes him miscalculate his own strength, and the force of which he pulls Shiro close makes Shiro trip over his own feet. He stumbles forward into Keith’s hold, and with how off-balance Shiro lands, he ends up putting his left palm on the counter to steady himself. There’s a loud and gooey squishing noise that follows, and Keith frowns, watching Shiro pull a face of his own as he looks down at his hand behind Keith’s back.
Keith twists around and chokes out a noise, grabbing Shiro’s palm and raising it to his face. He stares at the smushed chocolate there, and back down at the large handprint on what was left of the cake. “Shiro. Did you just—ruin my cake?”
“Uh. Technically, it was your own fault?” Shiro grins before tugging his hand out of Keith’s hold. “What, you want it back, babe?”
“Hey, don’t you dare—” Keith squawks as Shiro drags his palm down across the front of Keith’s shirt. “Shiro!”
Shiro laughs, trying to twist away from Keith’s grabbing hands, but Keith suspects he’s not really putting his heart into the fight, given how easily he gets a hold of Shiro’s wrist. Keith grabs it tightly with a victorious little cheer, twisting it behind his own back to get Shiro as close as he can while still keeping him stuck in Keith’s grip, then crosses his ankles at the small of Shiro’s back again and holding him in place.
“And here I was just trying to be nice,” Shiro says with a pout, looking far more innocent and adorable than any man with Shiro’s stature and mass of muscles should manage. It’s just another one of many ways that Shiro trumps most scientific logic and reason, Keith figures.
“You...” Keith whispers and leans in, “are such,” he kisses Shiro sweetly, “a weirdo.”
“Yet you love me,” Shiro murmurs back, teasing and fond.
“So much.” Keith noses up Shiro’s cheek, and this time when Shiro gently tries to tug his hand back, still smeared with cake, Keith doesn’t bother stopping him.
Shiro lifts his hand to stroke a chocolate-covered finger over the tip of Keith’s nose and smiles at him. “There we go. All yours again.”
“I can’t eat it from there.”
“You’re right. What was I thinking?” Shiro scrunches his nose, holding Keith’s face in place with his prosthetic hand when he leans in to kiss it away.
“Weirdo,” Keith murmurs again when Shiro pulls back, and the ache he feels in his heart is a physical thing over how overwhelmingly happy he is over the fact that he loves Shiro; that he’s loved back by him.
Shiro giggles, like he’s laughing mostly just because. “Listen, I—I don't want to be too forward, and just tell me if you'd rather not, okay?” he says. The tone of his voice is perfectly calm and polite, despite how his hair is sticking up everywhere from where Keith's greedy hands have been grabbing at it, his shirt still all askew. The memory of the clothed outline of Shiro's hard dick pressing against Keith's crotch just a few moments ago is stark in Keith's mind when Shiro—perfectly sweet, polite, well-raised Shiro—murmurs, “But... would you like to stay the night?”
Not rolling his eyes is a challenge, since right before his cake got murdered, Keith himself was grinding pretty enthusiastically, if not outright desperately, against Shiro after confessing his undying love for him. Plus, it's not like they haven't had countless of sleepovers before, even if the thought of staying over with the potential of not spending the night on the couch does make the offer feel very different this time.
Keith loves Shiro, though. He loves Shiro’s ridiculously caring nature and need to be sweet even when Keith is still sitting on the counter with his legs spread for him and knowing that Shiro’s well aware of how Keith definitely thinks that Shiro is hot shit, too.
So Keith keeps himself from making fun of him, and doesn’t tease or roll his eyes at him fondly.
Instead he takes Shiro’s chocolate-covered hand, holds it with the palm up and smears some of the cake frosting off it on his own thumb, then lifts his hand so he can stroke it across Shiro’s bottom lip. Shiro watches him with raised eyebrows, but lets him, staying perfectly still like the polite sweet boy he is.
“Shiro,” Keith murmurs, channeling all the love he has in his heart for Shiro into the way his voice shapes the letters of his name, before answering his question, “I thought you’d never ask.”
Leaning up to kiss him again, Keith moves his lips against Shiro's, tasting the sugary sweetness of the chocolate and then licking into his mouth to taste him. Shiro kisses him back, open-mouthed and filthy like the perfectly polite sweet boy that he isn’t, and Keith wraps his arms around Shiro’s shoulders. He pulls him closer, locking his legs back around Shiro’s waist, and Shiro moans and hugs him tight as he kisses Keith harder.
Keith smiles into the next kiss, because this does taste like it's where he belongs, and this really, really was the best birthday that he’s ever had.