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Klance AU month 2k19

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Keith frantically shoved a few specialty drinks at the customers waiting at the end of the counter, shouting for them to have a nice day before throwing himself back into the fray. Two drinks started and syrups in hand he shouted when a hand clamped out on his shoulder.

He glared at the man behind him; despite the busy crush of customers Lance still had it in him to have an unrepressed grin and a gleam in his blue eyes. “Hey, hot stuff, could you clear some of the tables while I finish here?”

Keith dared a look, dangerous as there was a high chance he might’ve made accidental eye contact with an impatient customer, only to find there only a handful of customers left waiting in line. He discreetly avoided looking at any of them, despite their attempts to catch his attention, preferring to peer over their heads to the tables.

A breath punched out of him and he nodded. “Yeah, I got ‘em.”

Distantly he tagged Lance in, Lance’s hand lingering in his turning a simple high-five into a tangling of fingers. Keith’s eyes briefly met blue eyes, face uncomfortably warm but that’s just because of the hot coffee machine he was working on.

A wink and a squeeze later Keith was ignoring the tingling in his hand as well as the curious gaze of the blonde girl waiting to be served.

Collecting as many dishes humanly possible he hurried into the back room before setting them down into a sink of warm, soapy water.

Moving the faucet to the empty sink he splashed cold water onto his still-burning face. The massive influx of customers always making him as frazzled as it always did. Whoever told him Tuesday shifts were slow was a goddamned liar. Somehow Tuesdays at 2 PM were busier than when he worked mid-morning on a Friday.

Keith briefly contemplated staying in the back until the rush died down but that wouldn’t be fair to Lance. Groaning he trudged his way back to the front.

He tagged the guy at the register out and plastered a smile on for the next customer, earning a smile from Lance where he stood at the machines. A few orders later his smile melted off when his manager walked up. Her silver hair in a perfect ballerina bun on top of her head and a knowing smile on her face.

“A large black tea, please.”

Keith didn’t bother to look at the register as he put the order in, preferring to stare at Allura with dead eyes as she blinked innocently at him. “I thought you told me Tuesdays were slow,” he said, passing her card back.

She shrugged, stuffing her card back into her wallet. “They were.” She leaned against the counter, looking far too casual for being such a nosy busybody. “Perhaps people are just waiting for one of you two to ask the other out.”

He prayed the woman behind Allura—unfortunately a regular, medium caramel macchiato with almond milk—would ignore everything as he gave her back her change. Fake smile hurting as sharp eyes darted between him and the barista effortlessly swirling drinks together.

As she left with a little smile—or was that a smirk?—Allura sipped from the cup that was placed in front of her. “Thank you, Lance.”

Keith’s shoulders stiffened as he felt Lance move in behind him, close enough that a broad chest pressed against the back of his shoulder. “No problem, boss lady! You comin’ in to help your lowly servants, princess?”

Allura laughed, all silver bells and English tea and whatever other snobby stuff her English accent added to her laugh. “In about thirty minutes. Don’t forget to get a fifteen before the end of your shift.”

Lance saluted and Keith hated that he could feel him do that. He hated it even more when he could feel a chill against his back when he left.

He cleared his throat and waited for the buzz of the machine to drown out his voice, leaning just enough for Allura and her alone to hear him. “No one is waiting for anyone to ask anyone out!”

Allura hummed skeptically, swirling her drink around in her cup. “The only reason half of these people are here is that they’re waiting for you two to get together.”

“Well, why would they think that?” he hissed.

“Come, Keith, we all have seen you two flirt.”

“What flirting? There hasn’t been any flirting!” Keith ground out as the buzzing slowed to the clinking of glasses.

Allura remained completely unconvinced, taking a sip of her drink. “Hmm, Keith, could you get me some—oh,” she snapped her fingers a couple times, “what is it called again?”

Keith squinted in confusion. “Honey?”

“Yeah, hot stuff?”

Keith instantly went red, stammering and stuttering out something about needing the sweetener and shoving Lance to the back room to get it before turning back to a smug Allura.

She grinned into her cup, apparently completely fine with how it tasted.

Chapter Text

“I want to be where the people are. I wanna see, see ‘em dancin’,” Lance muttered wryly under his breath, waiting to dry off. His flipped his dark blue tail over until it shielded his eyes from the sun, water dripping off his fin tips in little plops. His idly flipped his tail back over, flinging off the water in a spray of water. “What is a fire, and why does it—what’s the word? Buuuuurrrn!”

Lance distantly wondered if he should try to drag his two-ton tail across campus to make it to his next class but ultimately decided that it was way too much work to be thirty minutes late to class. Granted, the water might dry and he could just walk to class but those assholes got him good. They completely soaked his sweatshirt through that it will take forever to dry.

His t-shirt he was wearing under his sweatshirt was damp too, not too much for it to be uncomfortable but enough to keep him in his mermaid form. He was already toeing the line of public indecency he wasn’t about to take his shirt off as well as being pants-less.

He sighed and bunched up his ripped jeans—for the third time this week—and pillowed it under his head for some protection against the concrete. At least this time only a few seams snapped on his boxers, which are unfortunately hanging out for the world to see as the one leg around his tail was stretched too tightly to tug off.

He has learned from the first time! No more comically printed boxers, only plain boxers that could be mistaken for shorts for him, yessir.

He continued to hum under his breath waiting for the sun to dry him off when a new shadow obscured the sun.

“Are you… alright?”

The sun behind him put the newcomer’s face in a shadow, making details hard to make out. The stranger crouched next to him and gentle hands helped him sit up until he could see his rescuer in better light. One word floated through his brain as he took a good, long look at his rescuer and it was pretty.

He had pretty dark blue eyes, pretty skin, a pretty face. Pretty, pretty, pretty. So pretty that the word stopped sounding like an actual word and more like gibberish.

No matter how much he liked The Little Mermaid he didn’t think there would actually be any Prince Eric’s when he decided to study on land.

“Yeah!” he exclaimed a little too loud, a little too bright. “I’m good! Perfect, great. Just swell, just waiting to dry before I head to class. I’m all good.”

Prince Eric narrowed his eyes at him, looking him up and down like he didn’t believe him. “You sure?”

“Yeeaahh,” Lance pshaw-ed at him, waving his hand for good measure. “I’ll dry off and be right as rain.”

“How did you get wet in the middle of the quad anyway?”

Lance groaned. “Some assholes think it’s funny to hit me with water balloons and keep me stranded in the middle of the pathway.”

“What the fuck?” Eric—or should he call him Prince-y?—exclaimed. “That’s such a shit thing, what the fuck?”

“You’re telling me?” Lance laughed. “I’m the one lying like a dead fish here. I’m just lucky my boxers didn’t rip this time ‘cuz I do not have a change of clothes at the moment.”

Prince-y furrowed his brows, biting his lower lip before saying, “Do you want me to carry you? To like your dorm or something?”

“Really?” He nodded and Lance had to blink a few times to make sure it wasn’t some sort of weird fever dream. “That’s… awesome… If you could get me to Nalquod that would be great. Thank you…”

“Keith,” Prince-y offered.

“Keith,” Lance said with a grateful smile. He held out his hand. “The names Lance.”

Keith took the proffered hand, warm and firm. “Nice to meet you, Lance.” He grunted as he got up from his crouch. “Now let's get you to your dorm.”

Arms circled his shoulders before retreating and trying to come at him at a different angle. An arm tried to lift his tail until it gave up when it only lifted a few inches. Lance huffed out a laugh at Keith’s frustrated pout.

If only the heat of that glare could dry him off. “Okay, hotshot, how do you propose I lift you?”

In the end, Keith dragged Lance, arms hooked under the merman’s armpits, all the way to Nalquod, his torn jeans wrapped around his tail to protect his scales and Lance laughing the entire way.

Chapter Text

Day 4: Hogwarts AU

Keith was carefully measuring out the right amount of pearl dust for his potion. Right now it was a little murky and not the pearly sheen it was supposed to be. Perhaps more pearl dust would change that. It couldn’t be too much or it would not react well with the moonstone. It had to be exact or the potion would just blow up or melt the floor or something.

“Keith!”

“Gah!” His hand jerked and tipped a handful of pearl dust into his potion. He held his breath, heart slow in his chest, as the potion bubbled in his cauldron. It didn’t have the pearly sheen or the swirls but looked more like a fizzing soup of soap bubbles.

He whipped his head around to glare at Lance, who slowly backed away, hands up, and a wry grin that definitely made it look like he did it on purpose. “Sorry, my bad.”

Rolling his eyes he picked up his cauldron to dump it and start again. “What do you want, Lance?”

He sidled up next to him planting himself down on the table to watch him gather new materials. “Do I have to want something?”

“With you? Probably.”

He brought his hand up to his chest, gasping in in mock-horror. “I am insulted. Insulted I say! You just weren’t there for dinner so I thought I’d check up on you.”

Keith felt heat crawl across his cheeks. “Oh.”

“I actually found you pretty easily, did you even shower after quidditch practice? You smell like a broom,” Lance added with a teasing grin.

The heat in his face turned up to an eleven. He stabbed him in the arm with the leftover thorns on a rose stem. “Sod off, Lance!”

Laughing, Lance batted him away while settling in next to him, declaring that he would watch him work to procrastinate on transfiguration homework.

Lance stayed with him for the next few hours while he worked on his new potion, occasionally passing him an ingredient between stories. He cracked jokes and rambled on about his day, telling him about how Hunk’s cuisine spell exploded or how Pidge accidentally half transformed Rover into a flying goblet.

Keith chuckled as Lance colored the story with wild hand gestures and dramatic voice retellings, only seeming to become more animated the more Keith laughed.

Keith didn’t dare look over at the Hufflepuff doing his best to get his attention. The logic in his mind telling him that the less attention he gave him the more he would try to earn it.

He ignored the soft, fuzzy feelings in his chest, floating around like dandelion puffs. The soft electric buzzing under his skin. The own thrill of excitement that he gets when Lance’s attention is for him and only him. It makes him feel almost greedy, wanting it all for himself, but he can’t exactly feel sorry for it either.

“Why are you even making a potion at seven at night anyway, mullet?”

Keith focused on measuring the right amount of pearl dust and counted three, four, five rose thorns to toss in. “Extra credit for potions. Professor Honerva said that I wouldn’t pass unless I make a perfect advanced potion.”

“Damn, that sucks.” Lance edged closer, craning his neck to peer inside of the cauldron, the clean scent of his facial wash drifting over. “Which one? It looks like swamp water.”

Pushing him away and straightening his hair Keith dumped in a bit of powdered moonstone, lightening the potion’s color into a deep purple. “That’s because it’s not done yet, dumbass.” He pointed to a little vial of clear liquid. “Hand me the peppermint oil.”

Lance slid it over, the vial almost spilling over the edge before Keith caught it. He spared him a single glare, to which Lance only responded with an innocent grin, and added a couple of drops of the pearly liquid.

Three drops hit the surface, the mother-of-pearl sheen spreading across the potion in ripples and swirls rising from the surface.

Keith paused for a second, worried that he made a mistake. It didn’t smell like anything at first. Only the clean smell of freshly washed laundry and soap before it gave way to the scent of earth and the air right before a thunderstorm. Threaded through the smells swirling around his head was the smell of soap. Soap that reminded him a little too much of the boy standing next to him. He purposely took a step back from the potion.

“It’s pretty, I’ll give you that.” Lance drifted closer to the gold cauldron, head dipping closer to the potion. ”What potion is it?”

Keith furrowed his brows. Lance might not have been that interested in potions but when he smelled the potion he should’ve known it was amortentia. Did he mess up the potion?

“Do you not smell anything?”

“Not… exactly?” Lance inhaled deeply over the cauldron, unknowingly drawing himself closer. Keith gently took his shoulder and drew him back. “It just smells like broom polish but I assumed that was you. Hmmm, wait, oh! Sea salt? A bonfire?” He looked over at him with questioning eyes, silently asking if he was right.

Keith could only shrug, stiff and awkward. “It’s supposed to be amortentia. So if those are the things you like I guess it worked?”

Lance jerked, almost knocking over the peppermint oil. Red crept up his neck as he tried to right the ingredients on the table but only knocking more over. Flapping his hands he leaped back from the table, hands firmly at his sides. “A-amortentia?”

“Yes?”

Lance stood there, stiff as a board, watching Keith with a focus that made him shift and want to look away. But he didn’t, Keith stared right back at Lance, face slowly warming under his scrutiny.

Lance must have not found what he was looking for, shoulders relaxing but his eyes seemed almost simultaneously disappointed and relieved. The red slowly receded from his face as he stepped over and swung an arm around Keith’s shoulder. “I think you nailed it, buddy. It’s definitely amortentia.” He tossed a cover over Keith’s potion and started to lead Keith out of the classroom. “Let’s sneak into the kitchens and get dinner because I highly doubt your Gryffindor ass ate anything if you didn’t even shower.”

Keith actually did eat before he left to make the potion. It was right on the tip of his tongue to tell Lance so but he swallowed it down. A few more hours with Lance couldn’t hurt anyone.

Chapter Text

Day 6: Supernatural AU

Keith stared at the message left on his phone.

u still comin over 2nite?

Like he wouldn’t. He slowly typed out a confirmation, sending it out and instantly receiving another text with a million emojis consisting of thumbs up, smiley faces, and that stupid moon emoji.

He almost wished he could say no. Almost. He’s had this deal with Lance for almost a year and it’s been great. He gets a steady supply of blood and he just has to guard Lance once a month to make sure he doesn’t eat another neighborhood cat.

It’s just…

He gnawed on his lower lip, the points of his teeth nicking the skin and releasing blood. Lance’s blood. He fed from him the other day; he should still have the marks. It gave Keith a subtle thrill in his bones knowing that Lance still has his marks, letting the other vamps know he’s taken, protected.

…Aaaand that’s why he wished he could say no.

It was just supposed to be a business deal. A symbiotic relationship. He wasn’t supposed to develop feelings for the stupid wolf.

When he first started to realize his feelings he brought up another vamp that could possibly replace him but Lance instantly turned it down. Hard. His stupid, territorial, pack-minded wolf brain turning up the big, blue puppy dog eyes and whining, “I don’t want another vamp! I trust you, Keith! My wolf trusts you!”

He could never say no to the puppy eyes.

-

He waited for Lance where they usually meet in the woods. A little clearing that offered enough room for the hiding of shed clothes and a werewolf transformation before he eventually ran off.

The sky was a soft lavender fading to a midnight blue, only an hour or two before the full moon should make an appearance. Small stars started winking into existence, the time only drawing nearer and still no Lance.

Before he could wonder too much about him he was tackled to the ground by a big, warm body.

“Keith!” Lance barked, excited. He wasn’t in a full transition, just hairier, bigger, and excitable like a puppy. Oh, and the tail.

Lance hopped around him in little jumps, tail thumping on the ground as he got into Keith’s space.

He had to huff out a laugh, hands coming up to card through Lance’s hair, much thicker than usual, calming the wolf some. The hopping stopped but the tail steadily beat against the ground as he leaned into the fingers scraping against his scalp.

It was so much different than when they first started helping each other. Lance was just newly turned and terrified of his capabilities, insisting to keep himself locked away for the entire night only causing distress to his new nature. Keith would stand outside the door while Lance’s wolf tore at the walls and howled like he was in pain.

Slowly, with Keith’s help, he became more comfortable learning how to keep control of himself and letting his wolf out. His wolf was definitely happier having the opportunity to run free and with Keith’s supernatural abilities he had no trouble keeping up with him.

Affection welled inside of him as Lance kept as close to him as possible, begging for attention and freely giving it. This way was so much better.

Lance toward over him, sighing happily as he wrapped his arms around Keith. Nosing his face into Keith’s neck his tail thumped harder. Keith could only hope that he didn’t hear how fast his heart was beating.

“After I wolf out I really need to talk to you,” Lance mumbled into his neck.

Keith kept an eye on how the stars popped out and the steady rise of the moon in the sky, absentmindedly petting Lance’s head. “About what?”

“To thank you. For being here. That I love you.”

Keith froze. Lance whined when the hands stopped petting him. “Keeeiiith.”

Out of habit, he started petting again. It almost felt like he was moving through molasses, even his heart beat slowly. “Yeah? You love me?”

Lance stepped away to look at him with his big, blue, puppy eyes, all too sincere and fond. “Yeah. And I’ll give you the entire list of reasoning why you should be my boyfriend after I wolf out because I’m running half on instinct and wolf-brain here. But you should be my boyfriend.”

Slowly, the moon reached her zenith, casting a silver glow on the earth. Lance ran to the edge of the clearing to strip down and stow his clothes before slowly wolfing out more, his eyes bright and almost glowing in the moonlight as he let his wolf take over. The transformation much more gentle and smooth than when he was first turned.

He yipped at Keith, bounding over to nuzzle his head, tall enough on all fours to easily bump his head with Keith’s. A quick lick to the face and he darted off, brown coat disappearing into the forest.

Shaking his head, cheeks hurting from grinning, he took off after him.

Chapter Text

Lance idly throws his star shaped stress ball up into the air, a pointed tip barely grazing the ceiling of his dorm, catching right before it hits him in the nose. He’s splayed over his bed, leg hanging over the side while Keith is lying facedown onto his biology book, dead to the world. The only sign of life was the little huffs of breath he made because the book was squishing his nose.

Seemingly tired of having his airways obstructed Keith pushed the book out of the way of his face and decided to turn his head. He left his arm where it was, twisted and limp, too tired to bother to move it to a more comfortable position. With how it was twisted Lance could see a peek at the soulmark on his wrist. A small, cramped script that’s normally hidden by the gloves Keith wears all the time.

Maybe it was the boredom. Or the morbid curiosity that has grown in the back of Lance’s mind like a thorny weed. But he really, reallywanted to know what Keith thought of soulmates.

The boy never talked about them, always had his covered up, and from what Lance had seen completely uninterested in them. Maybe he didn’t want a soulmate? One of the few people in the world that didn’t pine for the one person that was made for them? The comfort or the assurance that someone out there would love them?

He stopped throwing the star. Squeezing its dense body between his fingers before rubbing a thumb over the bare skin on his wrist.

“Hey, Keith?” His voice came out quiet, a hair from choked. He cleared his throat. “Keith?”

The boy sprawled over his blue rug grunted, making a faint questioning noise.

The corner of Lance’s mouth twitched. He squeezed the star in his hands again, sinking back into the pillows propping him up wondering why his heartbeat felt so fast. “What do you think of soulmates? Or, like, do you want yours?”

Keith was quiet for a moment, letting the words hang in the space around them before flopping on his back. He rolled toward Lance’s bed, half of him nearly under it. “Why?”

Lance shrugged, all casual, squeezing his star because he’s a college student and under a lot of stress and self-care is important. “Just curious.”

Keith hummed. “Okay. When I was little I thought it was stupid.” This is one reason why Lance li—appreciatedKeith. He didn’t ask too many questions and responded what was on his mind. He answered honestly and you knew what you were gonna get with the guy. It was a trait he appreciated.

“I thought it was stupid that there was this person somewhere in the world that you were just supposedto be with. What if you didn’t like them? What if they chewed too loudly or were annoying? And girls were gross.” Keith leaned up a bit to look at him, a smirk pulling at his lips and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Still are.”

Lance couldn’t help the snort that escaped.

Eyes still twinkling Keith lowered himself back down, continuing the story. “When my dad died I became more attached to the idea. ‘Cuz, like, I would still have this person, you know? And when I met Shiro and Adam it became more real? Like it was a possibility and these two people who were soulmates was living proof it would work.” Keith held his wrist above his face, reading the words inked in red, like he could find them if he just looked long enough. “So, I think I would like to meet my soulmate.” His wrist dropped down on top of his chest, right over his heart. “Definitely looking forward to it. What about you?”

His heart sat like a heavy stone in the bottom of his chest. Resigned and unsurprised, but still a little disappointed. Keith’s questioning gaze made his stomach feel queasy so Lance looked down at the star in his hands. His wrists empty like always. Squeezing the toy he stretched and cracked the thin skin, he picked at the thin yellow layer.

He scoffed. His smile teasing, his voice flippant. “Me? Nah. There are so many beautiful people out there I can be tied down to just one! Soulmates are cool and all but I don’t think they’re for me.”

He barely noticed Keith rolling his eyes and his snarky response. Lance flung a pencil from his nightstand at him and told him to work on his biology. With a dramatic sigh he went back to squeezing the star in his hands.

Chapter Text

Lance scrutinized the stance of the baby warrior in front of him. Circling around the young half-blood he kicked her right foot farther behind her. “You would have a better center of balance if you place your right foot here—you're right-handed right?”

She adjusted her stance and nodded, gripping her sword tighter in her fist, hand shaking a bit with effort. Lance bit down a sympathetic smile. She was a fresh camper; just dropped off by a satyr a few days ago. He could see the embarrassed flush on her cheeks and her eyes darting to the other campers practicing their sword fighting.

“Okay, so loosen your grip a bit. That much tension ends up straining the tendons in your elbow for whatever reason, trust me.” He scooped his sword up from the dusty ground next to her and took his stance. “Okay, let’s start with the basic attack.”

They took a step in sync, swiping their swords down with one hand slicing the air in front of them. Nadia blocked her invisible opponent with her wooden shield while Lance brought his sword up in a block. Together they sliced down once again, the air whooshing at the speed. Stepping back into formation Lance turned to his pupil with a big grin. “Good! With enough practice you’ll be flying pigs and hellhounds.”

Nadia offered him a small smile before biting her lip. Dropping her sword, point down, into the dirt she asked, “Could I just… skip capture the flag tonight?”

He wrapped an arm around her slight shoulders. “Sorry, kid, Coran says the best teacher is experience. And our cabin is leading this time. Our own members can’t just sit out!”

“But--!” Nadia objected, gesturing helplessly to Lucas and Katy painting each others nails off to the side of the arena. One or two more of the others dropped off from practicing and went to relax and gossip in the shade, only a few still sparring on the field.

Lance ran a hand through his hair to cup the back of his neck, sheepishly smiling at the baffled twelve-year-old. “Okay,so they’re more lovers than fighters. We’re a work in progress; sue me. But I got a feeling about you, Nadia. We’re Aphrodite cabin, we can go to fight just like anyone else, we just look better doing it.” He winked to punctuate his statement but she still looked skeptical. Finally he rolled his eyes, “Fine,I got Hecate cabin, Demeter, Athena, andthe Apollo kids. And,” he said, raising his voice to be heard across the entire arena, catching the attention from their other cabin members. “If we win I’ll treat everyone to a spa day with my special face masks.”

When the clang of swords resumed, enough that they echoed around them, he snickered, not noticing the person that crept up behind him.

“So that’s how you get your team motivated. Bribery.”

Startled, Lance yelped as he spun around, shoving Nadia behind him, sword at the ready. His sword clanged against a familiar knife that extended into a sword, the dull side barely grazing his cheek.

Lance smirked, dropping his sword and smoothly ducking under Keith’s, bringing him in veryclose to the son of Ares. Close enough he could smell cedar and smoke from the offering fire. “You’re just jealous you can’t get your cabin to be a team on anything.”

Raising a brow Keith looked around the arena, probably taking in every flaw, every sloppy stance or messy attack. “At least my cabin can fight.”

Frowning, Lance crossed his arms. He debated firing back, saying that they’re doing their best or even taking a jab at Keith’s cabin. Instead he stepped aside, out of Keith’s space, to introduce his new recruit.

“Keith, meet Nadia of Aphrodite cabin. Nadia, this is Keith, head of Ares cabin.”

Lance watched how Keith’s stance softened, the corners of his mouth quirking up in a small smile. Biting down hard on his lips Lance forcibly turned to watch Nadia tentatively shake Keith’s hand. “Nice too meet you.”

Keith nodded, respectfully and still stupidly soft. “You too, Nadia.”

Clearing his throat Lance jerked his head towards Virgil who was getting disarmed way too many times in a row. “Hey, Nadia, why don’t you go over there and spar with Virg?”

Nadia’s hazel eyes darted from one head counselor to another before scurrying off to the struggling thirteen-year-old.

Watching her go, pointedly not looking at the other counselor Lance asked, “So, have you come here to check out the competition, Kogane?”

“Something like that,” Keith murmured.

Heat flushing through him, Lance bit down on his lip. He willed his cheeks to cool, unprepared for Keith’s answer. They’ve known each other for four years. They went on their first quest together, fought together, bickered, picked strawberries, did all the stupid camp activities dangerous and mundane. They didn’t do this! They didn’t… flirt. They fought, they pushed, they challenged each other. Ever since they went on their last quest to retrieve his mom’s girdle—which was really just a fancy belt that shifted to an accessory that would compliment the wearer’s outfit, kinda lame—Keith’s been… flirty.

And it’s not in Lance’s head! He’s the son of the goddess of love and beauty he knows when someone’s flirting! And furthermore he knew Keith. He knows when Keith is being flirty, which is so subtle he normally won’t notice but—

He knows. It’s exactly like that time he was flirting with this one guy two years ago when they were going to fix whatever was happening with Iris. Gods he was so annoying, always ”mission first, Lance”and the first guy to show interest in him and he’s all ”Oh, I like your weapon” “that’s a cool knife”.

And recently he’s been looking for him for help with strategies against other cabins or partnering up with him. Somehow their stupid fights seem more lingering, softer, the rough edges sanded down to a fine grain like the beaches back home. Where Lance can’t help but stay and run his fingers over it in fascination.

And he has noidea how to handle it.

Face, unfortunately still hot, Lance said, “Well, you better watch your back, Keith. ‘Cuz Ares cabin is going down.”

Keith scoffed, eyes twinkling, “Maybe you should worry less on Ares cabin and more on your own.”

“Oh, my cabin is great. We’re a well-oiled machine. We got everything down to a science.”Lance ignored the fact he could see some of his siblings in the corner of his eye, stopping to look at them. Lucas and Katy whispering to each other and snickering. “We’re gonna whoop your ass, and I’m going to gloat it over you until the end of the summer.”

“Sure, Lance.”

“Hey, once upon a time Aphrodite was worshipped as a war goddess as well as love. Don’t underestimate us. Aphrodite cabin is gonna whoop your ass!” Behind him there was a weak cheer from his siblings and Lance had to restrain a sigh.

“Sounds like a lotta talk.”

Okay, he’s had it up to here with him. “I betyou that we whoop your butt!”

Keith paused, giving Lance enough time to hear what he just came out of his godsdamned mouth and regret. “Okay,” Keith drawled, “it’s a bet.”

“Fine! What’s the bet?”

Keith shrugged, the obnoxious orange T-shirt stretching over his shoulders. “I don’t know. I’ll think of something later.” Smirking, Keith started towards the exit, calling out, “Good luck with the troops, Lance!”

When he disappeared Lance buried his face in his hands, groaning in them.

From the side he could hear Katy shout, “Does this mean no face masks?”

Chapter Text

Lance dared a look over to the young man sitting beside him. The cart underneath them bouncing over the uneven road and sending stray hay up in the air, ticking his nose.

Keith didn’t seem as bothered by their road conditions as Lance, ignoring how the cart would jolt them or the smell of unwashed horses perfumed the air. His fine cloak wrapped securely around him while he played with a stray piece of straw, staring intently at the knots in the woodwork of the cart.

His black hair was swept up in a ponytail in a practiced knot of leather, revealing more of his face. He had more angular features and a strong jaw offset by soft skin and big eyes, making him look more pretty than a fierce warrior.

Taking in the quality of his cloak, how tailored his clothes were to his body—not too tight nor too loose unlike Lance’s own hand-me-downs—he came from money.

So, he was rich—or at least his family was, fought like a warrior, trained in swordplay, and wanted to make it to Altea with a magic user through Marmoran territory.

“Are you a magic user?” Lance blurted out before he could stop himself.

Keith blinked a few times before raising his brows in surprise. “No! I’ve—uh—no. No, I’m not a magic user.”

Lance squinted at the flushed boy. “Then do you wish to learn magic?”

Keith shook his head. “I thought one had to be born with the ability?”

Lance hummed. “Apologies, I thought perhaps your family was preventing you from learning because you’re Marmoran. So why do you want to go to Altea?”

It was like a shutter shut closed. Keith’s eyes became distant and he leaned back, turning his head to watch the passing trees. “That’s a private matter.”

Lance scowled, pursing his lips to prevent anything unsavory from passing through. He just wanted to know more about his temporary traveling companion! As a magic user himself it wasn’t like he was going to expose Keith. He himself wanted to learn more about magic and Altea is the best place to learn.

They just had to get through the Marmoran territory.

Sighing, he leaned back against the side of the cart, arms crossed in front of him, legs stretched in front. “Sorry I asked.” He didn’t care if Keith wanted to keep his secrets. It’s not like he helped save his life or anything. With his illegal magic.

They sat in silence, watching the trees fly by. Lance was keenly aware of how every jolt to the cart made him bump his foot against Keith’s thigh. How Keith tensed briefly when it happened every time yet Lance kept his foot there. He pointedly ignored Keith glaring daggers at him, determined to watch the trees and keep his foot right there until they got to their next destination.

“Do you mind?”

Lance looked at Keith, whose eyes were narrowed, head snapped toward him in what looked like an uncomfortable angle. Slowly, Lance blinked, eyes wide and innocent. “Oh, I don’t mind.”

 The moment hung suspended in the air. No one moved, no one breathed. Only the wind rustling the trees and the steady ker-thunk ker-thunk of the cart dared to make noise.

Then all at once, the words dropped like a stone when Keith used his leg to kick Lance’s foot away. Retaliating Lance kicked Keith’s thigh, lurching forward to grab a handful of hay to throw at him.

They were on their knees; the bumps in the road bruising their knees as they viciously threw pelts of hay, the yellow straw exploding on impact. Hay floated around them as they grabbed at what they could reach. Keith nailing Lance in the face and making him cough around the bits that entered his mouth. Lance pitching forward to shove handfuls down Keith’s fancy cloak and tailored shirt.

Lance finally broke when he heard Keith yelp, something that he could not fathom Keith doing in the short amount of time he knew him. He watched Keith scrunch up his face and arch his back to get the straw out of his shirt, bits of the stuff peppered through his hair and poking out of his collar.

Chest heaving from the war he panted out a laugh, falling to his rump as Keith battled with the hay. He was still laughing when Keith finally got the last of it out, panting and red in the face either from the exercise or from embarrassment.

Lance looked at him again, flushed, still on his knees with a straight back as if the posture of a royal would save him from embarrassment. He couldn’t help the peal of giggles that slipped through, Keith becoming redder before stiffly sitting down, arms crossed. “What?” he snapped, the tips of his ears going pink.

Still giggling Lance ran a hand through his hair, pieces of hay falling like rain around him. He watched as they drifted to the floor of the cart, some pieces falling through the cracks between boards. “Nothing, just…” he looked back up with Keith, nose scrunched up with how much he was smiling. “We must look like a sight.”

The red faded from Keith’s cheeks and ears, his posture slumping as he ran a hand through his own hair. A similar cascade of straw drifting from his black locks. A tiny smile peeked through as he snorted. “I suppose we do.”

Chapter Text

Lance sighed as he adjourned the meeting with the other head counselors. Many were skeptical when he proposed the strategy to them, Pidge kept interjecting with other strategies—those Athena kids are such know-it-alls—but he was insistent.

He knew Keith and he knew how he worked. Impulsive, direct, but crafty and a quick adaptable thinker. He might play at strategy for a while but it won’t last long until he rushes in.

Lance has faith in his team. They might be outnumbered and facing against the kids of the god of war but they got this! They totally got this! Keith might have the numbers and strength but Lance and his ragtag group got the razzle-dazzle!

He made his way to the mess hall to devote some more garlic knots to his mom for some divine luck in capture the flag. He had full faith in his team but some godly help couldn’t hurt.

At the mess hall, he made the rounds from table to table, not staying too long for Coran to start pointedly clearing his throat. Most of the cabins he convinced to be on the side of love were because a) he was just that good or b) either they owed him a favor or he now owes them a favor. The only reason Hephaestus cabin was on Ares’s side was because Keith got to Hunk first damnit. And he saved his life during that fight with a giant pig but whatever.

He cornered his own cabin when Katy just got back from the offering fire. Bracing both hands on the table he looked at each member of his cabin in the eye. “You all know your roles?”

There seemed to be a simultaneous eye-roll across the table. Sophie waved her freshly manicured hand as if she was shooing a bug away. “Yes, yes, we all know what to do. Honestly, Lance, you’re way too into this game.”

Lucas snorted into his cup. “Oh, I don’t think it’s the game he’s into,” he said wagging his brows.

Giggles rose up around the table, each of his half-siblings chiming in at what that could possibly be. The only one not sticking their unwanted concealed nose into his love life was Nadia, who was a dear angel child who did not know what anyone was talking about.

Lance, face way too hot, closed his eyes and willed the blush from his face. Snatching a piece of garlic bread from Katy’s plate he chucked it at Lucas and hit him square between the brows. Lance turned to Nadia as Lucas was screeching about the grease and acne.

He looked into her hazel eyes and wiggled his brows, making her giggle. Crouching down he asked, “So, are you ready for capture the flag?”

She bit her lip, frowning so hard creases formed between her brows.  “I don’t think I’ll be good at it.” She turned to look at him, eyes big and pleading, using every bit of what she inherited from their mother. “Do I have to play?”

Lance gave her a sympathetic smile, hand brushing her soft, brown hair from her face and tucking it up into her bun. “Unless you’re injured you gotta play, kid, Coran says.” At her silence he sighed and darted his eyes around, lowering his voice in a conspiratorial whisper he gestured for her to get closer. “Listen, I got a really important job for you during the capture the flag alright?”

At her nod he leaned in to whisper her directions, her shoulders relaxed and she even chuckled. Patting her on the shoulder he stood up. “All you gotta do is stick with Romelle and you should be fine.”

He gave the rest of his giggling siblings a look, using the universal signal for ‘I’m watching you’ by jabbing two fingers at all of them. “Remember. No face masks unless we win.”

After a chorus of boos he left, restraining himself to only stick his tongue out instead of flipping them off because there are children.

“Real mature for a head counselor.”

Lance, for the record, did not squeak. He yelped. A very manly yelp. “Keith! What are you doing here!”

Keith scrunched up his face, nose wrinkling like a little bunny instead of the son of a war god. “It’s…the mess hall?”

Lance felt his face heat, from his cheeks to the tips of his ears. Spluttering he grabbed Keith by the shoulders, turned him around, and shoved him out of the mess hall.

Now, Keith might be mostly made out of solid muscle but he’s also a seventeen-year-old boy and Lance had witnessed him try to talk to a squirrel because he thought it was a type of dyad. Lance, similarly, has been on nearly every one of Keith’s quests and has just as much muscle. Moving him was not an issue.

The issue was feeling that muscle under his hands. How easily Keith let Lance maneuver him when sometimes he didn’t move his stubborn butt even for Coran. How stupidly adorable his face is, all scrunched up and cute.

It made Lance’s stomach twist and sweat in uncomfortable places and that was the issue.

“Nope! Nope, nuh-uh, I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to steal our strategy! Not happening buster.”

Keith’s face slowly shifted from a confused bunny to a smug bastard. He tried to press his mouth in a line but Lance could see his smirk. Whenever Keith tried to not-smile he would get damning dimples on each of his cheeks. And there they were! Damning Lance to Tartarus.

At his glare Keith gave up, lips tilting into a full smirk, one dimple disappearing. “If you’re so worried maybe you should just give up now.”

Lance stabbed a finger in his smug, stupid face. “Oh, you would like that wouldn’t you? Just wait, you’re going to eat those words.”

“I guess we’ll just have to find out won’t we?”

Cheeks burning for no good reason Lance opened his mouth to say something… only to find he had no words. Just a burning face and a heart beating way too fast.

Normally, Keith would fight back, say something just as petty and childish as Lance. Now, he fights back in a way that Lance can’t? Instead of pushing back he gives in and flipping sneak attacks him leaving Lance flustered and burning.

Smirking, Keith patted Lance on the chest before brushing past him to the mess hall, leaving Lance gaping at him still trying to find his words.

-

Lance helped slide a chest plate over one of the younger Hecate kid’s heads, securing the straps nice and tight. With that done he tied a blue handkerchief around their arm in a neat knot. The kid beamed up at him before scampering off somewhere. Their smile a shade bloodthirsty but that’s what he wanted to see! Furious little warriors that will kick Keith’s butt!

“Are you sure you don’t want me on the front lines?” A voice wheedled behind him.

Lance tipped his head back and groaned to the gods. “For the last time Romelle, I need you to hang back.” Leaning forward he lowered his voice, “I really need you to watch Nadia.”

Romelle threw up her hands, a whining noise escaping. “You’re putting me on babysitting duty? What if you break a leg? If I’m with you I could swoop in and cast a healing spell! Or, or, boost you with extra speed or strength and save the day! Oh, oh!” Lance took three quick steps back when the daughter of Hecate’s hands flew up in excitement, magic crackling off her fingers. “I’ve been working on some offense spells and this levitation spell. If I get close enough to Keith I could just levitate him and bam!”

Lance silently prayed to the gods to shut the girl up. “Romelle, please just watch Nadia?” Lance widened his eyes and laid it on thick. “You’re the only one that I can trust to protect her.”

Her lip pushed out in a pout, huffing, she crossed her arms and turned away. “Fine. But you are wasting my talents.”

“And I will forever regret it.”

She rolled her eyes, popping out her hip and pinning him with a stare. “I know you’re mocking me but you will regret it. And when you lose against Keith you’ll have no one to blame but yourself and I will laugh.”

Lance huffed and spluttered before settling on a stilted laugh. ”Ha, ahahaha, ha. No. Because I will beat Keith because I know him better than anyone here and therefore know the best way to defeat him!”

“Yeah but doesn’t that mean that he knows how to defeat you?

“W-well, in theory—“

“Which is why you should put me in front He’ll never see it coming!”

Irritation grated on Lance’s last nerve as she rambled on. He loved Romelle and she was a key player in his plan but by gods she was annoying to deal with sometimes. She was two years younger than him and just as annoying as he was then. To a point she reminded him of himself, except more cringe—but that might just be him.

“—In fact, you should bring me with you to keep you from getting distracted by your crush on Keith—“

“Woah, woah, no, wrong,” Lance interrupted, taking Romelle by the shoulders and physically turning her and walking her forward. “No, nope, there’s no crush and you have your position. Just stay with Nadia and make sure she stays out of trouble.”

“—But!”

Lance pushed her forward towards where Nadia was fumbling with her shoulder straps. “Bye!”

Ignoring her complains he turned on his heel and marched away. Romelle was a sweet kid with ideas too big for her brain, and some of them were completely ridiculous! Him? Letting a crush ruin this? Nah, this has been in the works since Keith first flattened him on his back the first day of training. Sure, the rivalry might have not been at the forefront, especially with the last few quests but it’s still there! And it will continue to be there until Lance beats Keith.

Crush or no crush he will defeat Keith Kogane.

-

Lance waited in the front of his troops, the point in a semi-angular formation. He could barely make out the speck of red in the distance. The enemy’s flag.

He swallowed, feeling stones in his throat, pressing, making it harder to breathe. Sweat beaded up under his armor as he waited for Coran to blow the whistle, making his orange T-shirt cling to his chest under his chest plate.

As he stared at his goal with his friends and allies behind him he could almost feel his heart rate calm. He had a rock solid plan and a secret weapon. He knew Keith inside and out. In fact, Keith was probably snapping at James or Rebecca for poking at his plans.

Today was the day he was finally going to prove, at least to himself, that he could keep up with Keith.

The whistle blew and he could feel his lungs expand with humid air as he and team shouted, charging into the forest.

-

Lance’s heart pounded in his chest as his team broke into groups. Each group disappearing in the foliage and leaving the sword-competent veteran kids in front.

He and the first line of defense battled through the first wave of campers, the red handkerchiefs fluttering like butterfly wings with each disarmed kid.  He let Francesca of Athena’s cabin organize a small troop to tie them up, uncurling a length of rope from her enchanted fanny pack—which, normally, hideous, now, very useful.

Lance scanned the woods around them, so far no one in sight. He could hear the sounds of fighting in the distance, the clashing of swords and the dull thuds of weapons against shields. They couldn’t be more than a fourth of a mile away. His nose stung from the scent of smoke, someone—probably a Hephaestus kid—launching Greek fire at someone smoke rising off to the left of him.

“I’m going on ahead. Stand your ground here and wait for the archers to move up.”

Francesca didn’t look up from where she was tying up the other team. “Shall we proceed as normal or send reinforcements to—“ she nodded in the direction of the plume of black smoke.

Lance was already jogging ahead through the trees. “Send three of the archers over and go ahead!” he called over his shoulder.

Further away there was another explosion, more kids shouting in either fear or indignation. It seems like Keith didn’t waste time in bringing out the big guns. The quickest route is a straight line, after all.

He sprinted forward, uncaring to see if his group followed him, he was a man on a mission. Bursting through the trees and into a small clearing—that was smack dab in the middle way of the two flags—he shouted and brought his drawn sword down.

Another sword screeched against his as he stared right into the shocked eyes of Keith Kogane, close enough to see the whites of his eyes and the enlarged pupils surrounded by a galaxy of colors. They narrowed in concentration as he pushed against the sword. Lance smirking as he let him throw him off.

Keith didn’t look particularly surprised, maybe disgruntled at how Lance attacked first but not from his presence. Keith might be direct in his battle tactics but he was never one to search for glory for himself (something Lance learned about him after, oh, the fifth adventure he went on with him). He probably had another group headed for the flag but Lance wasn’t worried. They were fine.

Lance casually swung his sword around, twisting his wrist in what only looked like a complicated maneuver. “Surprised, Mullet? Thought I’d bring the fight to you this time.”

Keith lunged forward and swiped at Lance, making him dance back. Advancing, Keith slashed at Lance; his attacks practiced and smooth. Lance could barely keep up as he deflected each attack, each hit jolting his wrist making it ache.

Just as his back hit a tree he used his sword to guide Keith’s momentum from his swing to the tree trunk, his sword embedded into the bark above Lance’s head.

Keith panted, his chest heaving in his T-shirt, not even wearing any armor—the idiot. Sweat dripped from his temple and his eyes were lit up as a smile played at the corners of his mouth. “What fight?”

Lance felt his face screw up and his heart speed up as anger and adrenaline mixed in a dangerous cocktail in his chest. “Oh, screw you.”

And he punched Keith in the stomach.

Keith’s wheezed as his breath left him, hand slacking on the handle of his sword. Lance kicked his chest, pushing him away and losing his grip on the blade. Lance tore the blade from the tree and threw it on the ground in front of him, face hot and chest tight.

“I might not be the greatest half-blood of this generation but I’m just as good a fighter as you,” Lance gritted out, heart drumming against his breastbone.

“What?” Keith wheezed, reaching out to grab his sword, stumbling to a stand.

It took a minute for everything to catch up to him but when it did Lance felt the adrenaline dip down, leaving him shaky but there’s just enough for him to say what’s been bothering him.

“We have been on practically every quest together since we came here when we were twelve. You lead practically every quest, you’re the best fighter, you are… so hard to chase after. I just—“ Lance wanted to look away. He wanted to look away from the realization flickering across Keith’s face. He swallowed hard and kept his head up. “I just want you to take me seriously for once.”

“Lance,” Keith started, eyes scrunching up, nose wrinkling. “What are you talking about? I always take you seriously.”

Lance sighed, shoulders slumping. “Dude—“ He barely heard the whistling of air, his arm moving before he fully registered the action. His sword clanged against a familiar sword, diverting its path from his face.

“Dude! What the fuck?!” he shouted at Keith.

Keith was already on the move, running toward where Lance knocked his sword and scooping it up before running at him.

Lance blocked when Keith slashed down, the contact reverberating down his arm. They pushed against each other, swords sliding, the screech of metal on metal grating Lance’s ears.

“I always take you seriously,” Keith gritted out before dancing back on light feet. “Why do I always choose you to be on the quests with me?”

“I don’t know,” Lance snapped back, out of breath, stepping back in to swipe at Keith’s leg, barely nicking the fabric of his jeans when he dodged. “Because Coran told you to.”

“No you, dumbass.” They circled each other; eyes open for any opening in their defenses. Keith went on the offense, sprinting forward to aim at the vulnerable parts of Lance not covered by his breastplate.

Lance caught Keith’s sword with his own, locking them together and wrenching Keith’s sword out of his hand. Before he could swing his sword around Keith tackled him to the ground. Lance hit the ground hard, sword falling somewhere and the breath knocked out of him, making him wheeze.

Keith sitting on his stomach didn’t help him with the breathing situation. A hand was wrapped around his wrist and another on his shoulder, pinning him down. Lance gasped for breath, neck straining as Keith was haloed above him like some sort of godsdamned angel.

“I choose you,” he panted, “because you always have my back. I trust you.”

Keith’s expression was fierce. Brows furrowed and lips pressed in a firm line, ready to attack if Lance dared to disagree with him. His eyes were flitting over his face, searching, open.

The trick with Keith is that his scowly face and general grumpy body language only made him look like a closed book locked in a box in an underground safe. His eyes were what gives him away every time, which is why he never wins the poker nights with any of the Hermes kids. That and he sucked at lying.

Lance huffed out a laugh, head falling back to the ground with a soft thunk. He convinced himself for years that when he and Keith were equal then he’d be good enough. He spent so much time trying to convince himself and others that he was just as good as Keith when, apparently, Keith always thought he was.

Gods, he just… really liked him.

“Why are you laughing?” Keith demanded, “I’m being serious here.”

Lance quieted until he had a big, goofy grin stretched across his cheeks. Keith was still glaring at him from where he was sitting on his stomach. “I know you are.” He closed his eyes and groaned. “Gods, I’m so stupid.”

Keith’s mouth twisted like he ate a lemon. He eased the pressure on Lance’s wrist and shoulder, settling back onto the bone of his pelvis. “What was this about, Lance?”

“How about I tell you after I beat you?” Lance taunted, smirking up at him.

“I’m on top of you. I think that ship s—gah!”

Lance braced his feet against the ground, thrusting his pelvis up and jostling Keith into a tabletop position above him, his right arm still trapped but Keith’s left hand slipped to press into the dirt by Lance’s head. He used the opportunity to use his left arm to hug the one trapping his wrist at the elbow. Planting his left foot on the other side of the leg Keith has pressed against his side he pushed, toppling Keith over and landing between his thighs.

Keith was disoriented enough to allow Lance to swipe his sword from where it fell, hovering the blade above Keith’s throat.

Lance leaned over the demigod under him, his hair just long enough to fall forward and tickle his ears. He braced his hand against Keith’s shoulder, keeping him pinned just in case. His sword was close enough that with one sudden move Keith would need a medic and a ton of ambrosia.

Keith’s eyes were wide, darting back and forth between the blade and his eyes. Lance pressed harder on his shoulder. He didn’t want to actually hurt him but he still wasn’t about to lose either.

His cheeks were pink and he licked his lips, opening his mouth to speak when the woods erupted in cheers around them.

Lance straightened, head twisting around to see if he could see whose team was cheering. “Wait, who won?”

He stood up and wandered to the edge of the clearing. Where was his team? Godsdamn someone just tell him who won!

Behind him, Keith stood up, face hidden by his bangs as he dusted himself off. Combing his fingers through his hair Keith walked over. “Can you see the banner from here?”

Lance sighed and shook his head. The trees had too much cover and they were in a little dip between the two flags. Wherever he looked it was just more and more trees.

The cheering got louder, the trees shaking with celebration. From the direction of Keith’s base, a small crowd of screaming kids from the Ares and Hephaestus cabin surged through the foliage. Seeing Keith they cheered even louder, nearly popping Lance’s eardrums.

Crowding around them they grabbed onto Keith and hoisted him in the air, chanting.

Behind him, he felt a couple of hands on his shoulders. Lucas’s mouth was twisted in a rueful smile, squeezing his shoulder. Katy next to him, arms crossed and hair a mess of twigs and mud.

It took a hot second for everything to process. The exuberant cheers from the other team and how his own was tolerating it.

“We lost?” Katy sighed, chest moving with how deep it was, and nodded. She dug into her hair and flicked out a berry. Disbelief filled his entire being; he could feel his eyebrows crawl to the top of his forehead. “How?” He gestured to Keith who was finally being put down from his grinning team. “I had everything planned. I know him so well I might as well had his plans!”

“Lance,” Keith called, lips quirking at the side, head tilted slightly and eyes surprisingly soft. “You forget. I know you just as well as you know me.”