Keith didn’t take what Lance had revealed about the night they met well. At least, Lance assumed he wasn’t taking it well. He said nothing the rest of the way back to their place which is what you do when you’re not taking something well.
This is exactly why Lance had put off telling Keith the truth because he was worried Keith wouldn’t take it well. Which he wasn’t. Hence no talking.
Lance brought Keith back to his room. Back to his bed. Finally he broke the silence out of necessity.
“If I put you down, are you going to fall through the floor again?”
“Are you just not speaking to me now? Is that what’s happening?”
“That’s not what’s happening,” said Keith as Lance gently placed him on the bed. (Thank goodness he actually stayed put and didn’t fall through.)
“Alright, so are you mad at me for saving you or for telling you about it?” asked Lance.
“I’m not mad at you for either,” said Keith quietly, “I’m… processing.”
“Oh,” said Lance. This he had not suspected though really he should have.
“You just told me you saved me from a demon that was trying to take me to hell or something and I don’t remember it happening. How am I supposed to react?”
“I guess all things considered,” said Lance, scratching the back of his neck as he looked down at Keith, “you’re taking it pretty well.”
“I didn’t know demons were a thing.”
“Neither,” agreed Lance.
“I didn’t know anything was a thing. I don’t understand this world.” Keith had pulled his legs up to his chest and he was looking down at the bed.
Lance found himself dropping down onto the edge of the bed, facing the wall. “That’s why I’ve been trying to teach –“
“Is that why you’re so protective of me?”
“What?” asked Lance, surprised by the sudden intensity of Keith’s voice. He turned to see electric eyes staring at him over the bumps of Keith’s knees.
“Is that why you treat me like I’m fragile and can’t even lay in a bed without you?”
“I don’t –“ began Lance then he realized how unnecessarily loud he was talking, “I don’t treat you like you’re fragile.”
“You literally just asked if I could lay in bed without falling through.”
“Okay, I don’t deny that, but it’s not that I think you’re fragile.” Lance sighed.
“Then what is it?” demanded Keith, his tense tone contrasting Lance’s reluctance.
Maybe that’s what jolted Lance into speaking before his words were properly chosen. “Because you feel like you’re mine!”
“Yours?” repeated Keith, sinking his hooks into the one word Lance would not have used had he had time to think.
“Well, not, uh – I -”
“I don’t even feel like my own, how can I be yours?” spat Keith, apparently loving Lance’s word choice as much as Lance himself.
“I didn’t mean to say mine,” said Lance, his word coming out in a rush, “but it’s not as simple as not mine either. It felt like I was meant to find you. Like it was a fate or something and if I could figure out why I needed to find you I could understand why I can’t move on.”
“Wow,” said Keith, raising his head up to give a big nod. “You’re good at making me about you.”
Lance let out another sigh. He was really bad at expressing the thoughts he’d never put into words before. Lance twisted his knees to face Keith. Whether he liked it or not, it was time to face this.
“Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on this,” said Lance, tracing his fingers along Keith’s bedding, focusing a bit of his energy to touching that fabric. “I haven’t pieced together much of who I was before. I’m mostly blank, but part of me knows what it feels like to be human. The memories of a whole life is gone and that’s scary, because what are we if not our memories? Yet, somehow all these feelings, the feelings of an alive person with a whole life exist in me and I can’t stop feeling them just because I don’t remember where they belong. Maybe… maybe I attach them to you because even if I don’t really know you, I know you the best so… there my feelings go… Sorry if that’s still confusing.”
“You think I don’t understand what that is? To have the feelings of whole person without the wholeness of being a person?” said Keith, his voice a soft croak.
“I didn’t think you felt the same,” said Lance, a soft smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “It’s good to know though… that I’m not alone.” Now was a good moment. Now Lance needed to leave before he spoiled the mood. He stood up. “I will leave you to it,” he said, awkwardly, turning to the door. “But for the record, you’re smart, Keith, I think you could handle yourself without me… just not with the demon.”
“Lance,” said Keith as Lance headed to the doorway, “Stay.”
“I, uh,” stuttered Lance, turning back around. “Why?”
“Because I can’t lay in a bed without you, remember?”
Lance heard words, but he wasn’t sure he understood them… or at least not the implications for them. His brain was stuck buffering like this as he watched Keith move to his side and wiggle his back to the wall. Keith patted that free space on the bed. The one big enough for Lance…
Was Lance moving? Was he at least speaking?
Apparently not as Keith felt to the need to say, “You think you know me best, but… You’re the only person I know. You’re the only one I talk to and sometimes I worry that when you’re not with me I don’t exist.”
“Keith…,” whispered Lance. His feet were walking without instruction to do so. His body was climbing on that bed without his permission. But how could he not? When the one who felt like his didn’t feel real without him and asked him to be there?
It was like a lump made of sadness pulsating in his throat. A memory of what it felt like to be utterly lost to the world. He didn’t think it was his though. This feeling came from Keith, but it was inside Lance like it was his own. If he could feel Keith’s hurt, maybe he could give him something new to feel… something he remembered himself. No images or words, just pure feeling.
Lance thought this as his legs automatically tangled with Keith’s, as his arms slid into place around him.
It was second nature now. Holding Keith.
His hands just… knew the spots.
Keith was solid in his arms. Maybe the only truly solid thing Lance could feel without using energy to hold on to.
They existed in the same plane of existence. When Lance saw so much in front of him that he couldn’t touch without losing part of himself, it felt right holding something that didn’t take from him.
“So this is what is feels like,” said Keith, his voice low, “to hold you for once.”
“Do you, uh, do you like it?” asked Lance.
“You ask this as if you don’t know the answer,” muttered Keith. His head dipped as he spoke and Lance felt a pulse of something before Keith’s lips brushed across his own. Lance saw spots of colour behind his eyelids and heard something like distant wind chimes tinkle before the retreat of that light kiss.
It took a lot of strength not to follow those lips, to chase that promise they held.
“We should think about this,” warned Lance, hating what he was saying, but also feeling like it was only right. “You and me, we don’t just kiss then move on with our lives.”
“What lives?” asked Keith. “You mean move on with our deaths?”
“Fair point,” chuckled Lance, “Also your punning is adorable.”
Keith went to kiss Lance again, but paused agonizingly close to Lance’s lips. “Wait… What pun?”
Lance chuckled as he closed that half an inch between them and kissed Keith himself this time. Wind chimes. Colours. Light sparkling off the water while toes dipped in the sand. Keith tasted like an experience and felt like life itself.
“Do you feel that?” asked Keith.
“Yeah,” hummed Lance, thinking words were just pauses keeping them from trying that again.
“I wanted to feel alive. I didn’t know you could actually deliver.”
“Happy to,” muttered Lance, seeing his chance to dive in and kiss Keith again.
He didn’t know it could feel this way.
He didn’t know he wanted to do this. Not with Keith, but then… he must’ve. Why else would he fall so easily into this situation? Why else would the anticipation make him shake as he rolled himself on top of Keith, flattening him on his back?
‘If he starts to slip through, I’ll catch him,’ thought Lance. His constant worry that Keith couldn’t stay solid crept up on him. That’s definitely why Lance thought better and rolled to his back, pulling Keith on top of him. This was a better way to catch him.
If Keith had a heart, it’d be racing.
Lance was wiggly. That wasn’t exactly a huge shocker. It was in Lance’s nature to always be on the move. To be more alive than Keith.
Keith wanted some of that life. Was that why he’d done that? Seduced Lance? It’s not like it was hard. Lance was all too willing and now Lance was underneath him and Keith was taking his time, kissing his way down Lance neck and seeing little fireworks go off behind his eyelids as he did so.
Keith suspected he’d been gay when he was alive. Perhaps that explained it.
Or maybe those things didn’t matter at all when you were dead. The construct of gender evaporated and you were just drawn to a soul.
That would explain why he hadn’t been hung up on Lance’s looks before he wanted to get him into bed.
Maybe he was just sick of it all. All the not knowing. The mystery of it. It didn’t feel good to not know himself and then there was the story of how Lance found him…
Keith pushed away that thought. He didn’t want darkness. He wanted to feel solid and the only thing he knew in this world he could consistently feel was Lance. Lance was so alive and Keith wanted some of that for himself and Lance was delivering.
Every touch, kiss, caress was flooding Keith with fragments of memories. He could hear the sizzle of fireworks in his ears, bright lights against the sky behind his eyelids. He tasted smoke on his tongue and he didn’t know how, but it was all so real in this moment.
Keith had a weight when he was on top of Lance. Sometimes when Lance carried Keith he felt like he was holding smoke, but now he felt heavy and real. Lance found there was something deep inside his gut that craved this.
‘You’re not going to lose him,’ whispered something inside his head.
Still Lance clung to him as Keith moved above him. He felt the warmth of sunshine on his skin before a sudden quick shock of pleasure hit him.
“Wait,” gasped Lance, holding Keith to keep him still, “Stupid question, but are we having sex already?”
“I…uh, maybe?” And the fact that neither of them were entirely sure what they’d just felt was disconcerting.
“I’ve never had sex with a man before,” Lance stopped himself, “Or I have, I’m not sure. I do know I at least at the potential to want to have sex with a man –“
“Lance, your point?”
“I just thought there was more… prep work. Aren’t we still dressed?” asked Lance, glancing at his chest then Keith’s to confirm this.
“I don’t think sex works that way without a real body,” said Keith, slowly, piecing this together as he spoke. “When you’re alive there’s a whole put part A into slot B element, but then there’s the part where you connect emotionally on top of physically. We don’t have the body element so we’re just –“
“Two souls connecting,” said Lance, finishing Keith’s thought. Then he dove back into kissing him because he wanted to connect with Keith. He felt that pleasure hit him full force again. It felt his torso was a keyboard and Keith was playing every note, running his fingers from the high notes all the way to the low notes...
“Ahh – Keith,” mumbled Lance, surprised to hear Keith moan his name at the same moment. Whatever notes they were hitting, they were hitting together.
Lance was starting to understand how little the physical mattered. He could run his hand along Keith’s back, but if he wanted he could feel his bare skin, and if he drove further than that it was like he was pushing into Keith, joining with him.
Lance felt like liquid, like water against Keith’s skin. Warmed by Keith’s heat like bath water. When Keith touched Lance he remembered swimming. Remembered the silkiness of the water and the way the light danced under the surface.
Keith felt like flame, like the glow of a campfire against Lance’s skin. Keith made Lance remember what heat felt like, hitting him in waves with the threat of a burn dancing just out of reach.
Who was holding on to whose memory? Or were they digging up shared experiences. Ones they’d both felt while living, but couldn’t recall until this moment brought them back.
They weren’t on the bed anymore. Lance would’ve panicked but they weren’t falling.
No, Lance was water dancing around Keith, surrounding him, flowing into him and through him. A glistening sheen of a soul, the surface of liquid, merging with light refracted.
Keith was lava. Liquid like Lance, but impossibly hot. He could mingle with Lance, let his water cool him, but never so much to harden him. He was fluid and free, hovering with Lance above the bed, above the constraints of the physical or the limitations of their new plane of existence.
This was the flood.
Senses woke up, remembering everything left behind. Music in the wind. Breath on the skin. Nails scraping. Eyes squeezing shut. Beads of sweat trickling down. The taste of salt. The pounding of heart within chest. No two hearts. No…
Every note played. Up and down on that scale.
It hit while Keith was drinking Lance in like he’d been in the desert for years without a drop.
It hit while Lance was basking in Keith like he’d been drifting in the cold of space and forgotten what it was to be warm.
It hit once. Twice. The third time had them clinging to each other and panting because it wasn’t supposed to go on this long. But then… bodies tire. Souls can keep going.
Souls can contract and release then bring that contraction right back in.
Keith was the release Lance needed.
When the come down finally happened. When they dropped back to that bed, Lance held him tight like Keith might just keep slipping down.
“I’m solid,” whispered Keith, reading Lance’s mind. He planted a kiss on Lance’s jaw.
“I know,” lied Lance. He calmed himself by enjoying that solid press of Keith’s body against his. “Wow. If that’s ghost sex, I don’t understand why ghosts aren’t doing it all the time.”
“Maybe they can’t,” said Keith.
This had to be true, Lance realized. What they’d just done, two souls may need to be compatible to do that. This thought warmed Lance from the inside out. It meant there was some special connection between him and Keith. This feeling he’d had since he’d found him, that it was fate, this was further proof.
That word he’d used to describe Keith. “Mine.” Even though he’d slipped up when he’d chosen it. Lance wanted more than anything for it to be true.
“Mine,” mumbled Lance, nuzzling against Keith’s cheek. Oops. He’d said it again.
“And that would make you?” said Keith, calmly.
“Yours,” whispered Lance, feeling that warmth in his gut find his cheeks.
“That’s a little more fair,” said Keith. He twisted onto his side and pulled Lance’s arm around his front. “Keep staying, okay?”
“I will,” promised Lance, knowing he’d fall asleep like this, cradling Keith. Just like he had earlier that night. Just like he had the night they’d met. To have and to hold. Through Death, they would not part.