“Are you watching the sunset?”
“By extent,” Keith answered, and the lazy smile on his lips looked unfairly good on him, “but I’m actually waiting for the fireworks to start. I arrived early.”
“Mind if I join you?”
Keith shook his head and, sporting an adorably soft smile, patted the empty space next to him. A wordless invitation. Lance graciously accepted, settling down beside his roommate atop the soft grassy surface.
“It’s beautiful,” Lance remarked, entirely enthralled by the evening sky’s resplendent colors.
“It is,” Keith agreed, his words carrying a fondness that Lance had never heard in his voice before, “but it’s not the only thing.”
“It’s not what it looks like!”
It was rare to catch the two idiots in agreement, so this simultaneous denial understandably piqued Pidge’s curiosity. She raised an eyebrow.
“Really? ‘Cause it looks like you two were necking.”
On that front, Pidge was half-correct. While they hadn’t been involved in any remotely as scandalous activity, it truly looked like they had been caught in the middle of a heated make-out session. Lance had been laying on his back in the bed, his eyes half-closed in leisure, and Keith (who had been positioned on top of his chest) was lovingly nipping at Lance’s neck. At least, that was the scenario Pidge had convinced herself she’d seen, and the way Keith had scrambled to jump away, red-faced, really hadn’t done the “couple” any favors.
Speaking of Keith’s actions, upon hearing the fruits of Pidge’s observations, he blinked in perplexity but quickly snapped out of his surprise-induced stupor and nodded animatedly.
“Yes!” he exclaimed, snatching up her explanation like a seagull snatches up crumbs at the boardwalk. “Yes, you’re absolutely right! We were making-out.”
“Yeah, we were just-” Suddenly, the boldness and general inaccuracy of Keith’s claim slammed into him, and Lance immediately backpedalled. “Wait, what?!” he shrieked. “We weren’t-!”
Keith elbowed him—hard—and when he spoke his voice was icy, like he was daring Lance to disagree. “Yes. We. Were.”
“Keith!” Lance yelped, sounding scandalized. “We absolutely were not!”
Pidge snickered, amusement dancing in her pretty chestnut-brown eyes as she dismissed Lance’s protestations. “No need to hide it, guys. We all knew you’d end up together eventually.”
With that, she spun on her heel and gave them a backhanded wave, stepping out into the hallway to meet the others for breakfast and leaving poor Lance to gape after her. Keith, however, expelled a heavy sigh of relief and flopped back down on the bed once she was out of sight. He likely would’ve followed Pidge into the kitchen and procrastinated the inevitable topic until later, but he had no excuse to leave. He’d already eaten his breakfast.
“I can’t believe you’re so averse to the idea of being with me that you were ready to break your promise,” Keith grumbled, speaking only when he was positive that Pidge was out of earshot.
“I wasn’t gonna break anything!” Lance defended, genuinely upset by the implication that he’d betray Keith’s trust. “I just didn’t want our excuse to be a make-out session! I’ve been crushing on Allura for months, and now my chances with her are basically gone thanks to our alleged relationship, you jerk.”
Keith frowned, eyes darting away guiltily. He honestly thought that Lance had been trying to reveal his secret, but now he knew better. Suddenly, every ounce of his panic was gone, overridden by the powerful shame he felt for not giving the boy enough credit, and he yearned to make things right with his roommate.
“Look,” he began gently. “We’ll give it a week, tops. After that, you can ‘break up’ with me in front of everyone. I’ll take it really hard—y’know, to make you look like you’re the world’s greatest catch—and you can talk about how you want more intimacy and communication. It shows maturity, and girls probably like that. Anyway, everything will go back to the way it was before. We’ll spit insults at each other again—like many couples do after a rough breakup—and then we’ll gradually fall back into our rivalry.”
As Keith spoke with a resolute confidence that Lance wished they shared, the Cuban felt strangely inclined to place his trust in the boy’s logic. As long as he held onto Keith’s word, he’d continue to believe that everything would work itself out.
“I promise,” Keith vowed. “Now, stay right there. I wasn’t done drinking.”
When Lance found out that his roommate was secretly a vampire, it was simultaneously the best/worst day of his entire life. It was a good day because he had finally figured out how his rival always managed to one-up him with ease, but it was equally as bad because Keith had been particularly hungry that day. Starving, actually.
It was a regular Tuesday night, if only a little lonelier than it usually was. Pidge and Hunk were out-of-state for an event that Lance only understood to be a “global science convention” and Shiro’s overly-doting boyfriend had taken him away on a romantic cruise. Keith hadn’t left, but he (inexplicably) enjoyed working late at night and had voluntarily taken the graveyard shift at his bartending job, so Lance had the house to himself until two o’clock in the morning. He was awake when Keith came back—as someone who had grown up in a perpetually-noisy household, it was hard for him to sleep unless others were nearby—but when he caught sight of his rival on that fated night, he immediately abandoned his plans to retire to bed.
Keith looked miserable, physically and mentally. He fumbled around with his house keys, barely grasping enough coherency to shove them back into his pocket after stumbling inside, and it was impossible to ignore the way he was staggering around like a drunk. However, the scent of alcohol was strangely absent, and Keith (in spite of his job) had never liked drinking anyway. As his roommate struggled to deduce the issue, Keith pressed a palm to his forehead—likely in an attempt to soothe a headache—and leaned against the nearest wall to support himself. He stayed there for a short while, breathing heavily, until Lance made the mistake of speaking up.
“Keith?” Lance queried softly, and there was no missing the nervous tremor in his voice. “Are you okay?”
Keith’s gaze snapped up at the sound of his roommate’s voice and an eerie golden glow flickered across his ordinarily midnight-blue eyes. An expression embodying animalistic hunger spread across Keith’s face, and as moonlight filtered in through the window, Lance was treated to the harrowing sight of lengthy razor-sharp fangs where Keith’s canines should have been.
Keith lunged, Lance screamed.
It happened in a flash, and Lance only had enough time to let out a shocked cry before he was thrown back against the bricks behind him. A harsh *thud* echoed throughout the room as he slammed into the wall, and although he bravely fought back—kicking and screaming—the vampire easily kept him pinned with an inhuman strength. Lance squeezed his eyes shut and twisted away to the best of his ability, but his fate was an inescapable one and he soon felt a sharp prick of pain as Keith’s fangs sank into his delicate caramel flesh. He let out a hiss of pain, then quickly bit his tongue to silence screams, not wanting to give the bloodthirsty vampire the satisfaction.
Meanwhile, Keith drank greedily, showing no regard for the writhing human that he was holding captive with his vampiric death-grip. Lance’s blood was hot and thick and indescribably delicious, and for a while it felt like he was going to kill the boy, but as drop after drop made its way down Keith’s throat, the vampire gradually regained his clarity. With a start, he realized that he’d been drinking far longer than was typical. He’d taken one pint, two pints, nearly three...
Quiznak. At this rate, his “donor” would die .
Keith sucked in a sharp breath as he tore himself away from his roommate, panting and stumbling back a few steps like he’d been caught by a heavy blow. He snuck a glance at his victim—his friend —and as shock/horror flickered across his dark indigo eyes, he tore his gaze away in shame.
“I’m so sorry,” he apologized shakily, voice breaking. As he spoke, one of his hands came to rest on his stomach and the other hovered over his mouth, giving off the impression that he was truly mortified by what he’d done. “Oh, Lance, I’m so incredibly sorry…”
Dizzy, Lance slumped back against the smooth brick wall, no longer trapped but in need of the support to keep himself upright. After losing nearly three pints of blood, it was no surprise that the poor boy was feeling rather lightheaded. Instinctively, Keith reached out to stabilize his roommate, but despite the boy’s dizziness and disorientation, Lance still displayed enough coherency to swat the vampire’s hand away with aversion. Keith winced and closed his eyes, awaiting the inevitable “Get away from me, freak!” or “I always knew you were a monster!” but to his great surprise and elation, it never came.
“It’s okay,” Lance slurred, the abrupt depletion of blood finally catching up with him. “Besides, I finally know why your hairstyle is so old-school! Crazy vampire~”
Keith let out a breathy chuckle, half-amusement, half-disbelief. “Crazy human.”
Lance sported a sideways smile, taking in Keith’s uncharacteristically fond expression as his vision went fuzzy and shortly faded to black. Keith’s rare smiles were so precious.
When Lance woke up, he was back in the safety of his room, warm and cozy beneath his covers. A warm washcloth was sitting atop his forehead, and as he reached up to take the damp textile away, he saw Keith anxiously pacing back and forth near the bed’s footboard, worrying his lip nervously. Lance blinked his bleary eyes and slowly sat up, setting the washcloth aside on the nightstand and yawning to capture Keith’s attention.
“Lance!” Keith exclaimed, eyes sparkling with relief. Immediately, he stopped pacing in favor of hurrying over to his roommate’s side. “You’re awake!”
“It’s nice to see you too, Mullet.” Lance laughed airily. “Now, don’t keep me in suspense. You’re a vampire, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” Keith admitted bashfully, evidently embarrassed that he hadn’t been able to better control himself. “I’m really sorry about this,” he apologized shyly. “I didn’t realize that I was in such dire need of a drink.”
“Duh,” Lance deadpanned, eyes flickering with gaiety. “You’re a bartender. You’re used to serving drinks, not actually drinking ‘em.”
Keith snorted. “I take it you’re not too afraid of me, then?”
“Obviously. I mean, it’s kinda hard to picture you as a sadistic murderer after you tucked me into bed and fretted over me for-” A glance at his watch. “-an hour and a half.”
“Right,” Keith confirmed with a breathy laugh. “I’m not a killer.”
They fell into a comfortable silence, sneaking fond little gazes at each other every few seconds, but Lance soon brought up another inquiry. He didn’t want to overwhelm Keith by prying, but at the same time, he was unable to quell his boundless curiosity.
“You don’t have to answer unless you want to,” Lance reassured him, “but I was kinda wondering how you’ve been getting blood up until now.”
“I, uh, usually drink on the way home from work,” Keith explained. “It’s always late and dark outside, and that makes it pretty easy to catch my targets without being seen. I knock them out from behind and take some—never enough to hurt anyone—and by the time they wake, the bite marks are gone and so am I.”
Lance nodded along, finally able to see why Keith preferred the graveyard shift. Heck, if the spontaneous-combustion-when-exposed-to-sunlight thing was true, it made even more sense.
“Vampires can live for two weeks without blood,” Keith continued, “so I try to drink sparingly. Once a week, to be precise. Unfortunately, these last few days have been tough…” A heavy sigh. “Everyday, the streets were empty or the people were in groups, and I was about to give up and starve until I remembered that you were home alone. I was going to sneak in and knock you out, but by the time I got back…”
“You were so hungry that you just went for it?”
Keith nodded solemnly. “I’m really sorry, Lance. I didn’t mean to take so much.”
“How much did you take?” Lance asked, his voice gentle.
“About two and a half pints,” Keith confessed, his cheeks flushing pink with a twinge of embarrassment. He was usually a light eater, but that blush of his was making it obvious that those two and a half pints had been an embarrassingly large meal. Lance’s heart sank. He didn’t like thinking about how hungry the other boy must’ve been.
“It’s not serious, right?” he found himself asking. Keith clearly thought that it was a pretty weighty amount of blood (food-wise), but Lance felt perfectly fine and wanted to double-check that he’d be okay.
“You’ll survive,” Keith chuckled. “I took more than I should’ve, but not enough to hurt you.” A tentative pause. “I’d never hurt you, Lance.”
“I know,” Lance whispered, silently reaching over and taking Keith’s hand, “and I’d never hurt you.”
He sent Keith an award-winning smile and gave the vampire’s hand a little squeeze, a warm and compassionate touch that led the boys into another comfortable silence. Again, it was Lance who spoke first, posing an inquiry.
“You don’t have to answer unless you want to,” Lance reassured him, and Keith was starting to get a strange sense of déjà vu, “but I was kinda wondering how much blood you drink per week.”
“A pint,” Keith answered easily. “It’s all I need.”
“A pint, huh?” Lance hummed thoughtfully, considering Keith’s reply. “That’s the standard amount given when donating blood, isn’t it?”
“Yeah...” Keith nodded slowly, a little taken aback by Lance’s knowledge. “After giving, the donor’s blood replenishes within forty-eight hours, and the same logic applies here.”
Again, Lance let out a hum. “Did my blood taste good?”
“Oh, uh...” Keith blushed deeply. “Yes, actually. I think yours might be my new favorite.”
Lance chuckled softly. “So, you wouldn’t be opposed to trying it again?”
“Are you-?” Keith’s eyes widened. “Are you offering what I think you’re offering?”
“Donating once a week doesn’t sound so bad,” Lance shrugged, a playful smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “Besides, I meant it when I told you that I’d never hurt you. Starving hurts, and I refuse to let you go through that again.”
“Thank you,” Keith breathed out, incredibly touched by his roommate’s selfless actions. “I really appreciate this.”
“I know,” Lance whispered, mirroring Keith’s tone, “but I also know that you’d do the same for me.”
“I would.” Keith nodded, reinforcing the powerful truth. “There’s just-” He worriedly bit down on his lip, obviously nervous. “Can you promise me one last thing?”
“Don’t tell anyone?”
“My lips are sealed,” Lance promised, pretending to zip his lips, lock it, and throw away the key.
An adorably playful smile spread across Lance’s face as he spoke, and just like that, Keith Kogane had officially fallen in love.
“Keith? You hungry?”
A few days later, Lance found himself knocking on Keith’s door, ready to voluntarily donate. It had been a week since he’d last spoken about vampires—he was true to his word and hadn’t told a soul—and now, finally , he would be able to learn more. He was (admittedly) rather nervous to give up his blood like this, but he was doing this for the best rival ever, and that thought gave him the courage to go through with it.
“Hey,” Keith greeted, opening the door and inviting Lance inside. “I kinda thought you were going to ditch, but here you are.”
“Yeah, I kinda thought I was going to ditch, too,” Lance laughed, “but I’m glad I came.”
Keith beamed, wearing a smile so bright that you’d think he won the lottery or had been given the world. “You’re so cheesy,” he teased, unable to hold back a laugh. “Sickeningly cheesy.”
“Really?” Lance double-checked, feigning an innocent curiosity. “I always thought humans would taste meaty.”
“Laaance~” Keith’s whine was a playful one. “I wasn’t talking about how you taste, idiot.”
“I know,” Lance chuckled, “but I’m kinda curious now. Enlighten me?”
Keith flashed his roommate a devilish smile, fangs glinting in the light. “Sure, just give me a fresh taste.”
“Coming right up~” Lance chimed, acting accordingly by lowering his collar and tilting his head sideways to give the vampire easy access. However, when Keith finally stepped over to drink, Lance’s inhibitions came bubbling up to the surface and the boy instinctively tore away. Nervously, he mumbled, “Sorry. It just-” A reminiscent shiver. “It kinda hurt the first time...”
Okay, that was the understatement of the year, but Keith already felt awful about the incident and Lance didn’t have the heart to make him feel worse by admitting that the bite had been excruciating.
“Can you-? Is there a way to lessen the-?”
“Relax,” Keith soothed, knowing that he was nowhere near as vicious as he’d been previously. He inched closer, gingerly brushing a few longer strands of cocoa hair away from Lance’s neck. “I’ll be gentle, I promise.”
And he was.
When he bit into Lance’s neck to drink, the only thing the Cuban felt was a tiny prick—gentler than a needle and gone in an instant. Keith stayed there for roughly a minute, his hands on Lance’s shoulders and his head tilted just-so, and when his thirst was finally quenched, he gingerly pulled away.
“That wasn’t so bad, right?” he whispered, stepping back to give Lance a little space.
Lance shook his head. “Painless.”
“I’m glad,” Keith sighed, and his relief was beyond evident. “I’ll see you next week, same time?”
“Keefy~” Lance whined, sporting an adorable pout. “You forgot to describe my taste, you meanie.”
“You’re sweet,” Keith recounted with a laugh, “but you’re salty, too. You’re bursting with flavor—not insipid by any stretch of the imagination—and your blood is hot and thick, like honey. It’s nothing like any food I’ve ever eaten, but if you absolutely insist on hearing a comparison, salted caramel sauce comes the closest.”
“Daaang,” Lance murmured appreciatively. “I sound freaking delicious.”
“Oh, trust me, you are.”
They laughed together, and that laughter shortly dissolved into conversation. It was a little awkward and clumsy in the beginning, but as the lazy tête-à-tête gained some momentum, the rivals found that they were both truly enjoying each other’s company. Lance, at some point, had migrated to his roommate’s swivel desk chair, and Keith had taken a seat on the bed, facing the starry-eyed human and giving the boy his full attention.
“I should’ve figured it out earlier!” Lance averred emphatically, leaning back in his seat as he spoke. “You’re super pale, you always wear dark colors, you clearly can’t see your reflection if you’re choosing a hairstyle like that, and-”
“Actually,” Keith interjected, clearly struggling to stifle his laughter. “Allura’s a vampire, and she’s not pale nor does she dress in dark colors. You’re just stereotyping.”
As an expression of shock overwrote Lance’s previously calm one, Keith’s resolve finally broke and the vampire burst into a fit of laughter. Lance was clearly struggling to accept that his crush was a vampire, and Keith hadn’t even given him a taste of the icing on the cake!
“Oh, and the lack-of-reflection thing?” Keith grinned. “A rumor.”
“Nope,” Keith chuckled. “I can see myself perfectly fine.”
Lance gaped, and Keith was 99.9% sure that his roommate was trying to think up a new vampire-related excuse for his rival’s mullet. Seconds later, his suspicion was proven correct.
“If that’s a rumor, what’s your excuse for that mullet?” Lance spluttered. “Don’t tell me you grew up in the eighties!”
Keith snickered and shook his head. “Nah, we don’t possess immortality. We age identically to humans and usually pass away between ages eighty and ninety. I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s impossible for me to have been born in the eighties.”
“There’s no underlying reason,” Keith debunked incredulously, thoroughly humored. “I just like this hairstyle, man.”
“I refuse to accept that!”
In typical Lance/Keith fashion, they spent several minutes playfully bickering back-and-forth but were soon returning to the silly Vampire Q&A that they’d inadvertently set in motion.
“Ooh, I know! You can’t give yourself a haircut because you’re invincible!”
At first, Keith didn’t follow his roommate’s logic, but after taking a minute to reflect back on the boy’s words, he was able to piece together the gist of the sentence. Apparently, Lance thought that vampires (like ghosts) were stuck with a single unchangeable physique, therefore preventing any possible haircuts.
“I can alter my appearance, Lance,” Keith deadpanned. “It’s possible to injure me, too. I’m not invincible.”
“Oh.” Lance frowned thoughtfully, a little disappointed, but he quickly bounced back. “Well, how about super-speed?”
Keith nodded. “Yeah, that one I have.”
“Can you fly?”
“I can,” Keith acknowledged, “but only when I transform into a bat.”
“Can you sleep?”
“Mm-hmm,” Keith hummed affirmatively, “but unlike you, vampires can live without it.”
“Do you spontaneously combust in the sunlight?”
“Thankfully, no,” Keith answered, shaking his head. “It won’t kill us, but staying outside on a sunny day is excruciating.” He shivered in memory. “It feels like you’re severely sunburned everywhere the sunlight touches skin, and let me tell you, that hurts like hell.”
“I’m so sorry, Keith.”
Lance winced sympathetically, guilty about prying into Keith’s life, but Keith simply sent his roommate a forgiving smile. He’d never fault Lance for his curiosity—in fact, it was one of the traits he liked best—and he didn’t want the boy to feel discouraged because of one bad apple of a question. Thankfully, Lance caught the vampire’s easygoing smile, gratefully accepting the encouragement and (after taking a minute to compose himself) posing another query.
“...Are you alive? Like, do you have a heartbeat?”
“You tell me.”
Slowly, Keith stood and approached his adorable roommate, taking the boy’s hand in his own. At the surprise contact, Lance sat upright, ceasing his swiveling when he caught sight of Keith’s fond gaze and hurrying to return the affectionate smile. Meanwhile, the vampire carefully guided Lance’s hand, eventually flattening it against his chest—over his beating heart.
Yeah, Keith was definitely alive.
Lance’s face was suddenly pinkish-scarlet, and Keith chuckled softly before gently lifting the boy’s hand away and returning to his position at the edge of the bed. Lance stayed star-struck for nearly two minutes, but he eventually found his voice and squeaked out a question, a blushy continuation of the Vampire Q&A.
“I know you drink blood,” Lance began, and he was still trying to dispel every last trace of his embarrassingly prominent blush, “but can you eat normal food, too?”
“Lance, you’ve seen me eat normal food!” Keith exclaimed, his voice overflowing with mock exasperation. Thankfully, those teasing words were enough to snap Lance out of his blushy daze and restore the rival-like balance. “We have breakfast together every morning!”
“It can’t survive on it,” Keith elaborated, “but I can appreciate the taste. At least, mostly. I like some foods better than others.”
“Ew, not a chance!” Keith scrunched up his nose in repulsion. “No, that’s disgusting! I’d rather drink straight ketchup than tomato juice.”
Lance cracked up, internally voicing his agreement. Externally, however, he took advantage of the opportunity to pose another inquiry. “I’m guessing the garlic weakness is a rumor, too?”
“Uh, actually…” Keith looked away, suddenly shy. “That one’s not entirely false.”
Lance blinked in confusion. “Keith, I’ve watched you eat garlic knots before.”
“Yeah, but…” Keith rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “You’re always so happy to share—especially when you make them yourself—and I can’t ever bring myself to decline, so I always choke down a few bites. It smells disgusting, it tastes disgusting, and it gives me terrible indigestion, but my reward is undoubtedly worth it.”
“Reward?” Lance repeated with intrigue, trying not to think about the many times he’d seen Keith force himself to eat garlic. “There’s a reward?”
“Yeah,” Keith nodded, his voice carrying great fondness. “Your smile.”
“Keeeith~” Lance whined, burying his (reddish-pink) face in his hands. “I know you’re only teasing, but you’re killing me, man!” It looked like he was going to throw in another playful complaint or two, but he suddenly lit up with an idea, promptly switching gears. “Ooh, speaking of killing, is it true that wooden stakes can slay vampires?”
“I mean, yes?” Keith answered, amusement twinkling in his amethyst eyes. “I’m positive that driving a wooden stake through the heart would kill anybody.”
“Well, obviously,” Lance granted, “but isn’t it the only way to kill a vampire?”
Keith shook his head. “Again, we’re not invincible. We’re susceptible to death in a variety of ways, just like humans. In truth, the only thing that sets us apart is that we give up certain human perks in favor of vampiric ones. It’s a trade-off, in a way.”
“Really?” Lance’s dark sapphire eyes sparkled with curiosity. “How so?”
“We give up sunlight to possess the strength of one-hundred men, we forfeit the ability to eat garlic in exchange for the ability to shapeshift (into a bat) and fly, and we have perfect night vision at the cost of saying goodbye to easy dinners. Drinking blood is a lot harder than buying a meal at McDonald's, let me tell you-”
Lance laughed heartily at Keith’s illustration, holding onto every precious minute he was able to spend with the elusive lighthearted/playful side of his roommate. It was rare to catch the vampire in a mood like this one, and Lance was truly enjoying this time with his rival. Likewise, Keith found that he was genuinely enjoying the other boy’s company. It was nice to finally be able to talk about his vampire bloodlines with somebody, and it was especially nice to know that Lance wasn’t about to treat him any differently. They were still roommates and rivals.
“...Are these questions annoying?”
Lance’s voice brought the vampire back to reality, and when the question finally sank in, Keith hurriedly shook his head, no doubt in his mind. “Don’t worry about it,” he laughed softly. “They’re a little overwhelming, but in a good way.” A pause. “You’re like that, too.”
Again, Lance found himself dumfounded, speechless, and blushing like crazy. It took him several seconds (and a few deep breaths) to compose himself, but eventually the boy regained his voice and settled on the perfect reply.
“Yeah.” He sounded breath-taken. “Yeah, I know the feeling.”
At first, everything was running smoothly, but roughly two months after Lance’s vampire discovery, the boys ran into a pretty problematic hitch. It began early morning, before Lance and three-out-of-four of his roommates were up and moving. Keith, however, was wide-awake and swiftly made his way over to Lance’s room to enjoy his breakfast.
“Morning~” Keith greeted, waving as he invited himself into the room. “You awake?”
Lance grumbled a few unintelligible words into his pillow before fumbling around for a second one and tossing it over his shoulder at the vampire. Keith merely laughed in reply, easily ducking out of the way and watching as the fluffy projectile tumbled to the floor. He looked over at the sleepy boy with fondness, but quickly shook his head, reminding himself why he’d come.
“I know it’s a little early,” Keith began, sounding fairly guilty/apologetic, “but I’m really hungry, Lance.”
“Oh, alright,” Lance sighed, rolling over onto his back and leaning up to expose his neck, “but don’t expect me to get out of bed.”
“No worries,” Keith chimed, and although his voice was suspiciously mischievous, Lance was too sleepy to care. Two seconds later, however, he was wide-awake and cared immensely.
Quiznak, I didn’t think this through.
A cherry-red blush spread across his face like wildfire as he suddenly felt Keith’s weight atop his chest, and he let out a squeak of surprise. They were roughly the same height and Keith hit the gym every other morning, so it came as no surprise to Lance that the vampire was actually kinda heavy. (Freaking muscle mass.) Even so, Lance wasn’t complaining. Until now, Keith had only been this close in his fantasies.
“A little close, d-don’t you think?” Lance stammered, blushing like crazy.
“You brought this upon yourself by refusing to get out of bed,” Keith defended jokingly, his warm breaths tickling Lance’s neck. He gave the boy a few seconds to reply, but at this point, Lance was waaay too shaken to formulate a coherent response so Keith went ahead and sank his fangs into Lance’s neck. Again, it was merely a gentle prick, gone in an instant.
Lance sighed, willing himself to relax as Keith slowly took his weekly pint. It was a little difficult to focus at the beginning, but roughly half-a-minute into the drink, he began abandoning his inhibitions and letting his daydreams take over. A faint reddish-pink blush colored his cheeks as his gorgeous azure eyes fell half-closed, and he spent several long seconds visualizing a future with Keith before the soft *creak* of the bedroom door brought him back to reality. Immediately, both boys were hurrying to clarify.
“It’s not what it looks like!”
A week, as it turns out, was over far too quickly for Lance’s liking. It’d been nearly seven days since the start of this romantic facade, and the ex-rivals—now irreplaceable friends, likely more—were currently in the midst of the final “make-out session” on their schedule. (In truth, they would just lock a door and claim to be making-out while secretly utilizing the time to get to know one another better.) Unfortunately, it was difficult to focus on the daily heart-to-heart when Lance knew that the vampire would soon announce the termination of their fake-relationship. It was nearly time to break-up with the boy, but one teeny-tiny problem stood in the way.
Lance didn’t want to break-up with him.
He knew that his rival likely wanted to end the farce with haste, just as Lance himself had originally desired, but now that the fake-relationship was nearly over, the Cuban didn’t want to bring it to an end. Until recently, he’d never taken the time to get to know Keith as more than a friend’s friend and/or a roommate, but now that he’d done so, he was really regretting his life choices. Keith was officially the coolest guy ever.
In a single week, he’d found time to take Lance on a “romantic” motorcycle ride, teach the boy the basics of knife-throwing, and hardcore dork-out about videogames with him. He was the perfect rival, possessing a naturally competitive spirit that made it easy to rile him up, but (to Lance’s great surprise) he was a genuine pleasure to spend time with, too. Over the course of the week, they’d spent countless hours chatting one-on-one, and Lance wasn’t quite ready to give up that time together. Keith, as Lance had come to learn, was more of a listener than a talker, but it was a trait that complimented the Cuban perfectly , and Lance was never able to suppress the fond smile that surfaced when he reflected on the conversations they’d shared. He’d learned more about Keith than he thought was possible to learn, and although he hadn’t stopped envying the boy’s boundless natural talent, Keith had let him in on a secret that made him feel infinitely better. Lance wasn’t the only jealous one.
“I’ve been secretly admiring your innate charm, social ease, and inexhaustible confidence for years,” Keith confessed one day. “You’re remarkable, Lance. I often find myself wishing that I was more like you.”
As Keith’s entirely genuine words sparked a light in Lance’s heart, his recipient froze up, too shocked to speak. Meanwhile, Keith panicked over his suddenly-stupefied rival and blurted out the first words that came to mind, trying to remedy the situation with a joke. Yes, the boy was so unfairly perfect that he had even been blessed with a sublime sense of humor. It was often fairly dark and/or sarcastic, but it was so uniquely funny that Lance felt a pang of sadness inside when he thought about how he’d previously been missing out on it.
Yeah, no doubt. Keith was officially the coolest guy ever.
“Any particular reason you’re thinking of breaking up with me?” Keith queried, breaking Lance out of his fond reflections and bringing the boy back to reality. “C’mon, I know you’ve spent this entire week dreaming of ways to-”
“I still want to be with you!” Lance suddenly blurted, the words flying out of his mouth without warning. Thankfully, a fairly believable excuse was quick to follow. “I think our little act has been making Allura jealous, so let’s keep this romance around for a bit longer.”
As soon as the words sank in, Lance’s face took on a pretty shade of primrose pink and his eyes darted away shyly. He knew that his heart was aching for more time with the vampire, but he doubted that Keith felt the same way. In fact, he was fairly positive that his roommate was internally cringing at the idea of playing the role of “Lance’s boyfriend” for any longer. However, Keith caught the boy entirely off-guard by lighting up at the invitation to continue the fake-relationship.
“Works for me,” Keith agreed softly. “I still want to be with you, too.”
Lance couldn’t figure out his roommate’s motives for staying in the fake-relationship, but he didn’t overanalyze his stroke of good luck and the boys went on happily playing boyfriends. As days morphed into weeks and weeks morphed into months, the make-believe romance ran smoothly. Regrettably, nothing lasts forever, and the roommates eventually ran into a slight hitch along the way.
“I think Pidge is getting suspicious.”
“Really?” Interest piqued, Keith looked up from the mystery novel he was reading, tilting his head quizzically and meeting Lance’s deep blue gaze. “Why do you think so?”
“Yesterday, she kept asking me about why we never kiss outside of a locked door.”
Lance let out a sigh and flopped down onto the bed, taking care not to bump into the boy who sat on the other side of the fluffy furnishing. He was pouty—clearly upset at the thought of having to “break up” with Keith soon—but although the news about landing on Pidge’s radar was disheartening, his desire to pursue the fake-romance was enough to produce a soft chuckle from the vampire.
“She’s always been perceptive,” Keith acknowledged. “What did you share?”
“I told her that you weren’t really comfortable with PDA, which is a pretty nice cover-up, if I do say so myself.” A rosy blush spread across Lance’s face, and shyly, the boy added: “If you want to totally eliminate any suspicion, you’re welcome to spend the night in my room”
Suddenly, Lance’s blush was contagious.
“Lance!” Keith yelped, blushing like crazy. “I wouldn’t be caught dead-!”
“Pleeease?” Lance begged, flashing Keith his signature puppy-dog eyes. “It’ll be just like a sleepover! Besides, we’ll definitely be able to Pidge on this romance if we say that we spent the night snuggling.”
Keith knew it was a dangerous idea—he didn’t think his heart was capable of surviving a night alone with his crush—but like with the garlic knots, he found that he couldn’t bring himself to refuse. “Okay, okay, you win~” Keith chuckled airily. “I’ll see you tonight, loverboy.”
It was meant to be a one-time solution, but these “sleepovers” quickly became a common occurrence. A daily one, actually. They would stay back-to-back or side-by-side in the bed, never touching but always close enough to get a delightful feeling of safety and serenity. It was a little difficult to remember that they were in a fake relationship at times, and one morning…
Keith caught his roommate’s slip-up.
It took place on a Saturday morning. Keith was awake before his roommate every single day—perhaps because his body didn’t require sleep—but this was the first day he had woken up and been unable to subtly sneak away while Lance slept on. He often took care not to wake his “boyfriend” as he was slipping out from under the covers, but it felt necessary this time, and with a heavy sigh, Keith began trying to wake the sleepy boy.
“Laaance,” Keith groaned, his voice rough with sleep. “I think you’re playing the role of my boyfriend a little too accurately.”
It took a few seconds, but eventually Lance’s ocean-blue eyes were fluttering open and he was greeting Keith with a drowsy, “Huh?”
“Great, you’re awake,” Keith deadpanned. “Now, if you would kindly stop spooning me-”
“I’m not spooning you!” Lance squeaked out, blushing furiously and hastily putting some distance between himself and the vampire, thus bringing an end to the spooning.
“Not anymore,” Keith snickered. “Although...”
It looked like he was going to continue, but he suddenly abandoned his train of thought and left the incomplete sentence to die. Lance, on the other hand, was all-too-eager to change the subject and promptly resurrected the topic, encouraging the vampire to speak with an inquisitive, “Although?”
“Ah, it’s nothing. Forget it.”
“Keith, now you’ve got me curious!”
Keith let out a heavy/reluctant sigh, but Lance’s curiosity was a charm that he was unable to resist, and he soon found himself revealing the rest of his words. “Although,” he picked up, “I can’t really blame you. It’s my fault for spooning you last night.”
“What?” Lance blinked, perplexed. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I, uh-” Keith blushed deeply. “I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable, so I just rolled away and kept quiet about it.”
Lance laughed—long and hard—and when he was finally done, he sat up and gently took Keith’s hand in his own. He sent the adorable vampire a meaningful gaze, practically melting at how sweet/thoughtful his crush was.
“Keith,” he chuckled breathily. “It’s okay.”
With a family as extensive as his own, Lance was no stranger to inadvertent spooning. It was quite different this time—a romantic spark—but Lance was comfortable with it nevertheless and made sure to convey this to his roommate. Shockingly, Keith admitted that he wasn’t totally against the idea of spooning either, and the boys quickly came to an agreement. If there was any spooning in the future, they’d simply sit back and let it happen. After all, a little spooning never hurt anybody and (although neither boy would admit it) it sometimes felt nice to be held. It was a cute bonding moment, but life stops for nobody and Keith was soon bidding his silly “boyfriend” farewell in order to meet with his other roommate (Shiro) and discuss the mystery novel that they were both in the middle of reading. However, before making it to Shiro’s room, he was met with one last morning surprise.
Pidge popped out of nowhere, nearly startling Keith into dropping his book, and when the boy finally stopped fumbling around with the work of literature in his hands and let the girl’s words sink in, he fixed the genius with a blank look. “Anniversary…?”
“Well, I doubt that it’s your actual anniversary,” Pidge remarked thoughtfully, “but today’s the anniversary of the day I caught you and Lance sneaking around together!”
A year? Already?
It didn’t feel like a year had flown by, but Pidge was usually right, so Keith was going to take her word for it. After all, times tends to fly when you’re having fun and every instant spent with Lance had been an enjoyable one. However, an entire year was now gone, and Keith knew that this was his wake-up call to cease the facade and reveal the truth.
Lance, you deserve the truth.
“It is,” Keith agreed fondly, “but it’s not the only thing.”
“Oh?” Immediately, Lance’s was hooked. Keith wasn’t a pessimist, but he was rarely one to point out the beauty in life and Lance was curious to discover the masterpiece that had caught Keith’s attention. “Don’t keep me in suspense, Mullet~”
“I won’t,” Keith promised with a laugh, “but before I can reveal it, there’s something you need to know. It’s the one vampire rumor you never quizzed me about.”
“Hey!” Lance exclaimed indignantly. “I didn’t miss any!”
Keith chuckled softly, shaking his head in response to his roommate’s silly outburst and quickly pressing on. “There’s a rumor that claims vampires can’t emote,” he began, “but I want you to know that it’s entirely false. We have emotions. In fact, recently, I’ve been feeling one in particular. Around you.”
Lance rolled his eyes. “Hunger?”
“Well, you’re not wrong,” Keith laughed, “but I was talking about a different emotion.”
“Love.” A pause. “You’re the beauty that caught my eye, Lance. You’re selfless, creative, optimistic, adventurous, funny, brilliant, compassionate, and brave. You’re everything.” Another pause. “I love you, Lance McClain.”
As the vampire spoke, the first fireworks shot into the air, and suddenly Lance was as red as the bursts of cherry in the sky. Thankfully, his speechlessness was a short one and he quickly found the words he was searching for.
“I love you too, Keith Kogane.”
It was a beautiful night and the fireworks were dazzling, but as they leaned ever-closer, drawn to each other like magnets, they felt the fireworks in an entirely different way. It was a cute and innocent little kiss, but it meant the world to the boys and as they savored the adorable moment, Keith was proud to make a discovery.
Yes, there was a taste sweeter than blood.