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***

 

Outside the door of Lance’s bedroom, and several paces down the hall, the doors to the elevator press together with a muffled click. There’s a beat of silence, and then a hum as the carriage descends. 

 

In his room, Lance releases a breath, sighing out against his pillow. Now where was he? 

 

He leans over to pump out another palmful of lotion, wiggling his shoulders against the sheets to readjust for the perfect angle. He’s half hard already, and jerks himself, easy and slick with lube, once, twice, ‘til he’s hard again, keeping his touch light and teasing---not too much, not yet. And then he lets his eyes fall shut, the fantasy resumes, his hand tightens, his body tenses. And that’s so much better, because then it’s not Lance’s own hand around his dick, but Keith’s.

 

And Lance doesn’t bother to calm the quickening of his breath---or slacken the pace of his hand around his cock, drag tight and hot---as his mind runs away with what his body wants. 

 

Earlier that morning, Keith and Lance were sitting side-by-side at one of the tables in the Atlas’ galley, and:

 

Keith had taken off his gloves. 

 

It’s a simple thing, 

 

But for some reason,

 

It really pisses Lance off. 

 

What makes this particular meal the one that’s so special that Keith feels the need to de-glove? He’s eaten with them on a million times before! He’s been wearing the same stinkin’ gloves for the last three decaphoebs! While training, fighting, flying, sleeping, swimming in the damn space pool!! What makes this morning different? But Keith’s logic is incomprehensible at best, so who can really say why he does what he does. He’s following a unique set of social mores known only to Keith. Desert boy and hotshot pilot. Raised by scorpions, groomed by wolves, stabs at will. He’s an anomaly. 

 

Anyways. Lance is sitting there stewing about the fact that Keith pulled off his grimey, sweaty, smelly, fingerless gloves and laid them directly on the table where people will presumably eat, what the fuck Keith, when he notices. 

 

There’s hair on Keith’s knuckles. 

 

And yeah, humans are mammals and mammals have hair in all sorts of places. And Keith is at least part Galran and they, too, have hair all over the place (well, some of them seem a bit scaley and lizard-y, but it’s nicer to think of them as cat people overall, Lance has decided. Anyways,) but it still comes as a shock. And, having known Keith for a long time (feels like an eternity, let’s be real), Lance has surely seen his bare hands prior to this exact moment. 

 

But. He’s never really paid attention to them. 

 

Keith has handsome hands. It’s weird to say that, but, Lance thinks, it’s true. His nails are tragically unkempt, but his fingers are compact and strong looking to make up for it. They’re pale, paler than they should be, on account of always being gloved, but sitting atop his creamy white skin, is dark hair. Short dark hair over the back of his hands. A small patch of dark hair above each knuckle. A few rebellious hairs even closer to his fingernails, between the middle knuckle and the top. 

 

It’s not that the hair is really thick---Keith, for all his faults, is not a gorilla---or noticeable at all really, but just that it’s there. Black against his pale skin. So different from Lance’s own. It suggests something, something about his hands, about his touch, and Lance can’t exactly explain what that something is, only that it makes him shift in his seat and look away, like he saw something he shouldn’t have. But it’s just hands , Lance glowers, and takes another peek, sideways, covert-like, just in case. No one says anything. Lance looks to the left: at the cafeteria line where Iverson is definitely slipping extra packets of Sweet N Low in his pockets for later. Lance looks to the right: out into the hall where Sam Holt has Shiro cornered and is discussing something Serious and Complicated, even though Shiro hasn’t even eaten breakfast yet. Shiro is desperately trying to escape without being overtly rude, but, by the looks of it, will probably cave and be overtly rude soon. Lance looks across the table where Romelle is creating a mess instead of eating, and Pidge is clacking away on the keys of her trusty laptop. 

 

No one is remotely paying attention to Lance and his questionable interests. Thus rationalized, Lance zeros in on Keith’s hands, and is more or less unable to look away. 

 

Keith, at the moment, is working through the task of eating the local produce (the Atlas is currently docked on some backwoods planet in the Jymarri system, the name of which Lance has already forgotten) that the crew is meant to be having for breakfast. It’s a bit like peeling a tangerine, if the tangerine was not shaped like a tangerine at all, and also kind of blueish green and seemingly very juicy. But Keith is one hundred percent focused on the task, fingertips delicately parting the top layer of the fruit. He pulls back the peel, just enough to get a good handle on it, and then twists his wrist slightly, grabbing the outer part and yanking it off in one swift motion. The juice from the fruit dribbles over his hands, between his fingers, staining little rivulets over the backs of his hands, down to his wrists, where the hair on his forearms is longer and more noticeable. He uses his fingernails to clean off some of the remaining spidery, pulpy filaments over the fruit, pops the meat of the fruit into his mouth, and then begins the process again. 

 

And Lance can’t look away. He wets his lips. The juice dripping through Keith’s fingers. The dark hair, slick to his skin with moisture. He’s thinking about grabbing Keith’s wrist, taking Keith’s fingers into his mouth. Gagging on them. Sucking each one of them clean, tongue laving over the back of his hand, over his knuckles, feeling where the hair ends and the smooth skin begins. The pads of his fingers, the callous of his palms, the curl of his fingers inside Lance’s---

 

He’s so caught up in this fantasy---truly a fantasy because the only time he’d ever be able to grab Keith’s hand and not get shanked for it would probably be on his deathbed after some intergalactic incident gone wrong---that he doesn’t notice that Keith notices his stare. 

 

“Can I help you? Lance?” 

 

Lance snaps back to this plane of reality in record time. He screws his face and rakes his eyes upwards to meet Keith’s deadpan expression. “Yes. Please take a sledgehammer to my brain and knock me clear into next week,” he snarks, as though this is a dig at Keith or actually makes sense. 

 

Keith looks confused and slightly angry about it---his default expression for the majority of their interactions. “What.” 

 

And the conversation escalates from there but it doesn’t really matter what else is said---only that Keith reacts to it just as Lance predicts and that he is able to successfully shove any and all fantasies out of his brain for the time being. 

 

Until later that afternoon, when Lance is alone and in his bunk and one hand slips beneath the waistband of his boxers. 

 

And he’d be a liar if he said this was the first time he’s thought about Keith while jerking off. But, something about today, something about his ungloved hands... It has Lance caught in a very specific scenario. He’s thinking about Keith’s hands, how they’d look, wrapped around his cock just like this. The dark hair on Keith’s thumb, the square nail, the soft pad, how’d feel as it ran over the head of cock, over the slit. Even as his grip might tighten----

 

Lance groans, readjusting again, arching his back as he increases speed. The slick sounds filthy in the dimly lit barracks. 

 

Keith’s ungloved, naked hands over Lance’s hips. The exquisite drag of Keith’s palm. How he might squeeze the base of Lance’s cock in retaliation if Lance said something snarky. The way the L shaped callouses spanning his palms would be unexpectedly rough compared to the softer skin of the rest of his hands. He might take his time---it’s rare, but if in the right mood, Keith can tease---or more likely, he’d be quick, getting Lance off with decisive motion, merciless and certain. 

 

Keith is good with his hands. Keith is direct with his actions. He means what he says. He takes what he wants. 

 

Imagine if he wanted Lance. 

 

The muscles in Lance’s thighs quiver with effort as arousal washes over him and jolts into heavy heat. His back presses into the sheets, his hips rise, he bites down on a gasp of a name. Lance comes like that, fucking into his fist, thinking about Keith’s solid grip and the dark hair over the backs of his palms. He pumps himself through the pleasure, thinking that Keith would be a little gruff about it, that he wouldn’t mind getting his hands dirty. 

 

Lance lets his legs finally give out, sprawling his limbs over the bed. He dangles messy fingers over the edge of the bunk so that he doesn’t get loads of lube or cum on his sheets, and considers, for a moment, feeling embarrassed over the entire scenario. 

 

It’s a fleeting thought though, and he soon rolls out of bed. He washes his hands in the ensuite bathroom, then returns to his day. Easy-peasy. 

 

*

 

The following day, Lance wonders aloud: 

 

“How do you feel about blowjobs?” 

 

Keith’s body goes stock still on the training mat. One end of the bowstaff dips before Keith adjusts accordingly. He blinks, just once, and then steps forward to land a swift hit across Lance’s lower back. 

 

Lance, caught off guard, teeters to the side before shouting in (exaggerated) pain and rubbing his side. “God!! Keith!! What the hell!!” 

 

Keith lowers the weapon. “You were trying to distract me. It won’t work.”

 

“Clearly,” Lance scoffs, waving away Keith’s (only vaguely) worried expression. “Relax hotshot, you’re not that good. This won’t even bruise.” 

 

“I wasn’t trying to bruise.” Keith says, slinging the bowstaff over one shoulder. “I thought you would block!” 

 

Lance raises his eyebrows and opens his mouth in a silent question, like, in what universe?? 

 

Keith rolls his eyes. 

 

Practice thus brought to a grinding halt, the two of them face off from either side of the sparring mat in the training hall. 

 

The shirt Keith is wearing is sleeveless, leaving his arms on full display. Forearms, biceps, a hint of his lats where the shirt is low on the sides---the whole shebang. He has his right arm outstretched, coiled on top of the staff in a way that looks relaxed, but still fully in position to wield. The way the staff is nestled between Keith’s neck and the bunch of his deltoid muscle is enough to make Lance need a cold shower, but then his gaze dips to the taught, pretty skin of Keith’s underarm and the unruly patch of hair there. 

 

Lance swallows. 

 

“In this scenario, most people in your position would apologize,” Lance says, instead of saying something else. He uses his staff like a cane/walking stick (because it will annoy Keith) and puts on a show of hobbling over to the side of the training mat to retrieve a hydration pouch.

 

“Don’t do that with the qixiv,” Keith says, using the Galran word for the staff, and, predictably, telling Lance off.

 

“Answer my question, then,” Lance demands, whilst waving the qix-whatever back and forth in the air above his head.

 

“What question?” Keith says, because he’s impossible. 

 

“Blowjobs, Keith! We’re talking about sucking dick!” 

 

Keith makes an expression like he just smelled spoiled milk. “No we’re not.” 

 

“You know, this is why you don’t have any friends.” Lance tells him, matter of fact, chewing on the straw of his hydration pouch. 

 

Keith gives him an incredulous look and easily catches the hydration pouch Lance throws at his head. Left handed. Because he’s terrible like that. 

 

“What about them?” Keith asks, a dobash later, after finishing his pouch. He’s seated beside Lance on one of the benches around the perimeter of the training deck and pointedly not looking at Lance. Lance follows his gaze and together they watch one of the MFE pilots get decimated by a visiting Blade member. They both smirk at the outcome. Nice. 

 

“Oh, well, you know,” Lance says, with a suggestive gesture and a bob of his head. Keith raises his eyebrows. Lance purses his lips and rolls one hand in the air to indicate the extensive discourse one might have regarding giving head. Or receiving. Lance isn’t picky. 

 

The fact of the matter is: he’s trying to negotiate himself into a friends with benefits situation with Keith. After much deliberation (read: jacking off in his room alone), Lance has decided that this is the best course of action. He considers himself a plan man. This is, by all accounts, a stellar plan. Lance is wildly attractive and Keith has enough pent up sexual frustration to power several battleship class warships, so, Lance reasons, it’ll be mutually beneficial. However. It’d probably be easier to proposition an Arusian nemblok than Keith ‘Clueless Fucker’ Kogane. But hey. Lance is the kind of man who rises to a challenge. 

 

“Blowjobs.” Lance repeats, throwing out an arm, lending a sense of profundity to the word. His tone borders on philosophical. 

 

“This is weird,” Keith decides, climbing to his feet. He summons the black bayard to his hands out of thin air. “Now that we’re warmed up, wanna spar for real?” 

 

Lance sighs. ‘How do you feel about blowjobs’ is painfully direct, but clearly not direct enough. “Let me go get my bayard,” he grumbles, walking over to the weapons storage of the training hall, like a normal human being would. “Not all of us are dialed into the Force like a goddamn Jedi.” 

 

Keith throws his head back and laughs. The sound is bright and loud and carries through the hall. It makes Lance happy. But he also wants to scream. 

 

*

 

A week later, Lance ignores the feeling of sweat dripping down his back and tosses his head to get the bangs out of his eyes. What he wouldn’t give to take off his helmet and get a breath of fresh air. 

 

But he can’t. The air here---a satellite colony smack dab in the middle of the Gendardi system---if there even is air, is probably full of some kind of crazy toxic pollen that would asphyxiate him, or shrink all his organs to be the size of gumballs, or turn him into a space werewolf or something. 

 

“Space werewolf?” Krolia asks. 

 

“Uhhh…” Lance didn’t realize he was rambling. Or speaking out loud at all. He tends to do that when he’s nervous. 

 

Krolia makes him very nervous. 

 

First of all, what is he supposed to call her? His mama would not appreciate it if he was going around calling his elders by their first names. (Coran doesn’t count. Nether does Kolivan. Or---well, now that he thinks about it, he calls a bunch of people older than him by their first names. But Krolia is different!) He was raised better than that! (His mama is also not in this galaxy, but that’s besides the point. She would still know.) 

 

And if Lance doesn’t call her Krolia, it’s a little weird to call her Mrs. Kogane. Blade of Marmora leader lady? Mrs. Blade Leader? Special Agent Kogane? Keith’s mom? 

 

It’s awkward. And suppose he does call her Krolia. What are they supposed to talk about? ‘Hey Mrs. Kogane, uh, Krolia, I want to get majorly dicked down by your son, any pointers on making that work? ’ 

 

Yeah. That’s gonna be a no. 

 

“Lance.”

 

For a moment, Lance’s heart stops and he truly believes that he said the words ‘dicked down’ to Keith’s mom. Thankfully he’s wrong.

 

“Our objective will soon be in visual range. Like we discussed, we’ll approach using formation Nu-Delta-3.”

 

“Oh, yeah, for sure.” Lance says, concentrating on transforming his bayard into a long range rifle. He’s been favoring it over the blaster lately. More precise. He’ll take a vantage point overhead and cover while Krolia does the extraction. “Love that one.” 

 

Krolia gives him a look, which is so identical to Keith’s ‘unimpressed-by-your-bullshit’ face, that Lance almost drops his gun. Unnerving. 

 

“Kidding, kidding,” Lance says, holding up one hand.  

 

“He acts like this, but he’s surprisingly reliable,” Pidge butts in, via comm channel. “Closing in on the base center in three dobashes. We have at least seven live guards on screen, others possibly cloaked. Watch your back.” 

 

“Okay, here’s what I’m betting will happen,” Lance prattles, keeping his eyes trained on the dark windows above. The city is too quiet for his liking. This mission was originally reconnaissance, and therefore only one paladin (Lance) was sent to cover point for the Blade member. (It’s Atlas policy to use the buddy system, no matter the mission parameters. Lance volunteered, thinking the Blade member he was accompanying would be Keith. He was woefully incorrect. Just his luck.) However the mission soon took a turn for the unexpected and before Lance knew it, ‘reconnaissance’ had become ‘sneak-into-high-security-enemy-lair-and-steal-their-shit.’ He should have expected this. The whole thing was probably Krolia’s idea. Like mother, like son. 

 

“Here’s what I think. I bet that we’re gonna open that door, and inside, instead of people who want to kill me, Lady Gaga will be there, and she’ll be like, ‘Welcome to my crib,’ and,” 

 

Krolia drops her stance at the exact same time that Lance sees the first guard. He fires, a clean hit to the left shoulder, and the soldier goes down. Behind them, there’s a scuffle---Lance darts to the side and takes out another guard, and then a third, all while watching Krolia advance out of the corner of his eye. Their objective is in close reach---

 

Whatever they’re meant to be retrieving is not worth the hassle, Lance decides, approximately seven dobashes later, when he and Krolia are legitimately surrounded by hostile aliens and the comm line has too much interference to be beneficial whatsoever.

 

Krolia looks at Lance with a steady, unreadable expression. “Our cruiser---”

 

Lance holds up a hand, like say no more . He gestures forward, “After you,” 

 

Krolia is even faster than Keith, if that’s possible, but Lance manages to keep up as she clashes through the throngs of enemies, a blur of steel and indigo and black. He keeps their backs covered and their heads attached, bounding along after her with a quick trigger finger and a running mouth.  

 

They make it to the cruiser in one piece, but it’s all for naught. When they dock, once more safely inside the Atlas, their only reward is the longest debrief meeting ever.  

 

Lance doesn’t complain, although he should ; the sweat has dried on his skin leaving him feeling disgusting. His pores are screaming, but instead of complaining, he diligently answers any and all questions and sits through a bazillion details about the space base they raided for the data chip or whatever it was yadda yadda yadda, it’s hella important, yes, he knows. 

 

Finally, as soon as feasibly possible, he makes an escape and heads for the nearest shower. He unhooks the chest piece of his armor and shoves it in the weird little hover tubes in the paladin locker room where it’s supposed to go. The gauntlet/glove situations get tossed in there too, along with his helmet. He kicks off his boots, grabs a towel, and, with a drawn out sigh of relief, unzips the back of his undersuit. He heads for the showers. 

 

The Atlas is a wonderful ship. Beautiful. A marvel of the highest order. There’s so many perks to sentient ships and space-age technology, Lance thinks, sudsing away his worries. God tier water pressure. Antimicrobial surfaces all around. Soap that doesn’t irritate his delicate complexion. The taps don’t even go cold, no matter how luxurious his routine.  

 

He feels like a new man when he steps out, towel wrapped turban style around his head and clean boxers donned. 

 

The majority of his skincare stash is safe in his room, but he wouldn’t be Lance ‘Glowing Skin’ McClain if he didn’t have back-ups of all his holy grail products in the communal shower room as well. He swings one of the mirrors open, pulling out his treasures. And then the process begins: toner, serum, gentle lymphatic massage using his jade roller, eye cream, 

 

In the mirror, Lance sees Keith step out of one of the shower stalls behind him and immediately loses both coherent thought as well as fine motor skills. He fumbles. The serum wobbles, the roller goes flying, the toner topples, the pot of eye cream slides, and the moisturizer in his hand---

 

“Ah--shit!!--No!!” Lance flails, far too late, and manages to drop an entire jar of his favorite moisturizer in the sink. 

 

Keith stops and turns in Lance’s direction. He raises an eyebrow. “All good?” 

 

“If by ‘good,’ you mean the worst thing that could possibly ever happen to me, then yeah, everything is great , Keith , thanks for asking.” Lance looks up at the bathroom ceiling and shakes his head. He didn’t even realize that Keith was in the bathroom!! Dude takes this space ninja thing way too far. And then! He just waltzes out of shower in a towel like it’s nothing!! Lance doesn’t know if he should be cursing Keith for walking around mostly naked or thanking him for the view. 

 

Keith’s long hair is wet, each tangled lock heavy with water. The water beads at the ends, overwhelming surface tension to drip in rivulets down his toned chest. They make their singular paths, marking half invisible lines down his body as they go. Lance follows one as Keith approaches, his bare feet silent on the tile floor; the water drops steady, down over the slight swell of Keith’s pectoral, over his abs where it disappears into the lush hair covering his stomach, lost long before it reaches the fluffy towel wrapped around his waist. 

 

Frowning, Keith joins Lance at the counter area of the bathroom and peers down into the sink. “Oh no,” he says, with the mildest of distress. 

 

“No need to act so concerned.” Lance slumps over, dramatic, so that Keith knows for sure his life is ruined. 

 

“Oh nooooo,” Keith drawls, pulling the word out, the pitch of his voice rising upward in the tiled room. “This is the woooooorst. My name is Lance and I’ll probably diiiiiie.” 

 

Lance swallows a laugh and busies himself with scooping cream out of the sink back into the jar. Gross. Nope. It’s a lost cause. “Are you done?” he snaps, just for show. 

 

“Not yet.” Keith smirks, before resuming the stupid voice. “I have to use aaaalllll of these potions on my face or else I will…” He trails off, expression pulling into thoughtful confusion. “Honestly I have no idea what’s supposed to happen if you don’t put this junk on your face.” 

 

“Well maybe you’ll find out now that you made me drop the most important one and ruin it.” Lance says, with much more spite than is necessary. 

 

Keith is unfazed. “It can’t be doing all that much. You’ll still be Lance.” 

 

Lance gives him a look. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He ignores Keith’s shrug and makes a show of continuing his routine. Skincare finished, sort-of, he unwraps his hair to towel it off. Finished, he swipes the ends of towel down his neck and catches Keith’s gaze. “What.” 

 

Keith shakes his head, like, nothing!

 

“At least I don’t walk around all drippy!” Lance says in response to Keith’s unsaid criticism. He balls up his towel and throws it at Keith’s head with an absurd amount of force. Keith shifts to the side, dodging it easily. 

 

“Look at this!” Lance huffs, exasperated. He closes the gap between them, flicking a lock of Keith’s hair from where it had been curling around his clavicle. “Dripping!” 

 

This close---Lance catches his bottom lip between his teeth---This close he can feel how hot Keith’s shower fresh skin is. And that same heat, it’s simmering in his eyes as well. Lance isn’t just imagining it, is he? The way Keith’s wide, serious eyes are heavy lidded, taking in all of Lance, urging him closer? The heat draws Lance in---Keith’s bare skin is provocative, his posture is relaxed, his expression is open. Unable to resist, Lance brushes the rest of Keith’s hair out of the way and lays his hand flat against Keith’s chest. His thumb rests in the slight hollow at the base of Keith’s neck. Just a little higher and he would have his hand against Keith’s neck, maybe be able to feel Keith’s pulse under his skin, maybe brush a thumb along his jawline, maybe part his lips, maybe pull their bodies closer still. 

 

“Lance.” 

 

Lance can feel the rumble of Keith’s voice, the dark edge of it as it drops from low in his throat. He swallows. Keith doesn’t pull away. 

 

“Mom said you did really good today.” 

 

Lance frowns, hand twitching. “Huh?” 

 

Keith smiles, genuine. Their faces are so close that Lance can see the way his eyes crinkle at the edges and that one of his incisors is turned slightly, a little crooked from the rest. He lifts a hand and puts it on Lance’s shoulder; it mirrors Lance’s position except that the mood is completely different. It’s a ‘good job’ pat. Wholesome. Not at all the I-want-to-push-you-against-the-wall-and-make-you-moan vibe that Lance was going for. 

 

“Uh.” Lance continues intelligently. 

 

“Uh yeah,” Keith says, shuffling slightly as Lance’s hand drops from his chest. He lifts his hand off Lance’s shoulder and scratches the back of his own head, awkward. It leaves his wet hair all mussed and sticky-out. “I talked to her for a minute after the debrief and she said that she was confident in your marksmanship. It was really high praise.” 

 

“Oh.” Lance grapples with the pure bubble of happiness expanding in his chest and the way it competes with the outright horny-ness that he was feeling just a few seconds prior. Keith talked to his mom about Lance. Keith’s mom…doesn’t hate him. “Cool.” He cracks his knuckles, at a loss. “Thanks for telling me.” 

 

“Yeah.” Keith nods. He squints. “I don’t understand why Lady Gaga came up during the mission though. Or why she would have a crib. Mom didn’t get it either.” 

 

Lance takes a moment to contemplate if it is worth the trouble to explain the nuances of early 2000s MTV culture mixed with present day pop culture references to an alien and her son and decides that it is not. 

 

“Just a random thing. You know, Lance being Lancey.” He attempts a couple of finger guns. They come out looking a little frazzled. 

 

“Yeah, I figured,” Keith says, smile once more playing along the edges of his mouth. “But yeah. Good job today, sharpshooter.” 

 

“Thanks.” Lance says, feeling that this is what it must be like to be lost at sea for weeks on end. Adrift. Confused. Thirsty. 

 

Keith nods and turns back to where he was originally headed. He adjusts the towel around his waist, revealing a split second peek of the top of his ass. 

 

Lance scrubs his hands through his hair and sighs, loudly, just as soon as Keith is out of earshot. 

 

This. Is. Impossible. 

 

*

 

It’s not impossible. 

 

He’s a defender of the universe!! 

 

He has the ability to pilot not one, but TWO giant semi-sentient robot cats!!

 

He’s Loverboy Lance! 

 

He can do this!

 

Lance decides as much after jerking off in the communal shower room for three days in a row following the fated Mom Approval conversation. 

 

Keith might be denser than your average weblum, but. Lance has mastered the art of getting under his skin. Now he just needs to turn that into getting into his pants. 

 

He’ll figure something out. 

 

 

The fine art of getting into Keith Kogane’s pants begins like this: 

 

Half a movement and two galaxies later, Lance goes out of his way to find Keith. 

 

It’s not difficult. People think that because Keith is a hothead and impulsive and mostly unsocialized, that he’s unpredictable. They are dead wrong. Maybe it’s because Lance has lived with Keith so long, or maybe it’s because Lance is a genius at everything (and modest!) but Keith is no mystery. Honestly, Keith could wear holes in the Atlas carpet (if it was carpeted) with how regular his routine is: 

 

He gets up early, about 0500 AST (Atlas Standard Time). He’d rather sleep in, but Keith takes this whole ‘leader of Voltron, pilot of the black lion, integral member of the Blade of Marmora’ thing way serious. He has a bathroom routine that takes between five and fifteen minutes and does nothing for his appearance. 

 

Afterwards, he and Kosmo (a giant, nameless beast that is part supernatural teleporting cosmic monster and part golden retriever) go on a morning run. Kosmo loves exploring and Keith loves his dog, so if the Atlas is docked on an inhabitable planet, their morning runs can be pretty long. 

 

Around 0800, Keith usually finds himself in the Atlas galley with the rest of the crew. He’s gotten much more sociable these days, although he’s still far too much of a troglodyte to carry on a conversation like a regular human. Believe him, Lance has tried. If Krolia is on board, she and Keith eat breakfast together and do this weird thing where they have entire conversations with monosyllabic half-words and penetrating glares. Lance has been privy to it far too many times for comfort. Creepy. 

 

Following breakfast, pretty much all of the crew has to get down to business. You know, saving the universe type stuff. For Lance and Keith and the other paladins, that usually involves meetings. Schedules. Diplomacy. Boring. It takes forever, usually at least until after lunch. Keith hates paperwork and meetings. He tries to be diligent, but Lance has caught him nodding off mid powerpoint presentation at least ten times---just in the last week. Lance will (begrudgingly) admit that Keith has a lot of talents, but looking awake while Allura drones on and on about the Ostholoth slime mines or some shit is not one of them. 

 

(And, okay, if Lance gets distracted by Keith’s sleepy pout as he fights to stay awake, that’s just...that’s just part of their thing , y’know? Rivals, friends, teammates, like, their thing . It’s not….it’s not because it’s cute. Or anything. Moving on.) 

 

Following the morning meetings, Keith perks right up. Because at 1400, rain or shine (space is weatherless, mostly, this is just an expression,) Keith is in Black, urging the rest of the paladins to their lions so that they can run drills. And Keith definitely has a knack for this whole ‘leading’ thing. He comes up with all kinds of wild scenarios to keep the team sharp. They train with the MFE pilots sometimes, and Keith is always in close contact with Shiro at the helm of the Atlas...but regardless, he’s made Hunk and Pidge and Allura and Lance better pilots with his leadership. It’s a little bit amazing, how good of a teacher Keith is. No one back at the Garrison all those years ago would believe it, but Keith is really enthusiastic, and good at explaining things, and surprisingly gentle with criticism, and thoughtful when he---

 

---and the way he says Lance’s name, sometimes, on the private channel, it’s---

 

---wait. 

 

Okay. That’s not the point. Back to Keith’s routine. 

 

By 1900 hours, team training is usually over and they have eaten or are eating supper together. Hunk insists that they eat together whenever possible, it’s a whole thing. Afterwards, from the time the meals ends to lights out, is CKT (Certified Keith Time). Obligations complete, he hangs out with Shiro a lot, or sometimes draws in a weird little notebook that he thinks none of the others have noticed, or trains more if it’s been a rough day, or does any number of other things. But, as far as Lance is concerned, it’s all predictable. 

 

Like today, now, it’s a Kalendy---which is like a Tuesday, but not, since the Atlas follows the New Altean calendar. (Don’t get Coran started with explaining it, you’ll be there ‘til next Nonendi. Whatever that means.) 

 

And on the second Kalendy of the month, Keith usually does a full maintenance check on the cruiser that he flies when he’s not piloting the black lion. Unless he’s on an extended mission with the Blades, in which case he does the check in the previous movement or in the following four quintants, depending on where it falls in the standard maintenance cycle they follow for their lions. It’s not rocket science. 

 

Simple Keith stuff. Predictable. 

 

Lance walks into the lower flight deck after hours, and is greeted by the metallic sounds of tinkering mixed with Keith’s voice, full and smooth and carrying in the hangar. Lance is almost sad that Keith stops singing when he hears Lance’s footsteps echo across the hall. 

 

“Hey. Hand me,” Keith waves an arm back without removing his upper body from the underbelly of the ship where he’s poking around. “That.” 

 

Lance plops down on the floor at Keith’s feet and picks up a random tool. He taps it against Keith’s ass. Keith snatches it away from him without looking. “Very funny Lance.” 

 

Lance looks at the array of tools strewn around, while Keith continues to tinker. Keith doesn’t resume singing, but he does hum to the same tune as before. There’s a blue binder with a bunch of the ship’s specs in it---diagrams and notes, some of them handwritten in Keith’s careful script---that he seems to be following along for the maintenance check. Lance picks it up and flips through it. 

 

“How’s she looking?” 

 

“Good.” Keith grunts out, shifting his weight. He’s still shoulder deep in the ship now and his voice comes out as if from behind a wall. “Thought I might need to ask Hunk about replacing the fuselage connector after burning through so many dalterions in Vaser-10, but it looks fine.” 

 

“Nice. You ever fix the issue with the uflax line?” 

 

“Nah.” Keith wiggles his fingers in the air in front of Lance’s face and Lance taps another tool against his ass. Keith snorts and grabs the tool from him after batting Lance’s hand away. “I’ve been flying without using any of the auto drives and she seems to be handling just fine, even with the uflax backup.” 

 

Lance chuckles. “Sounds about right.” Keith would be the person who can fly just fine, even without a vital auto-stablizing system engaged. 

 

Keith mutters something, not in response, but in concentration as he finishes up the maintenance. “You need anything?” He asks, a few minutes later when Lance has gone quiet. 

 

Your mouth. 

 

Your hands. 

 

Your dick in my--- 

 

“Nah, not really. Just came to hang out, y’know.” 

 

“Oh. Cool.” Keith seems pleased with Lance’s answer. 

 

Lance sprawls out on the ground and finishes flipping through the binder, while he listens to the sound of Keith working. It’s calming. 

 

...



It’s boring. 

 

He sits up. Decides that while he has a very nice view of Keith’s ass, it is not very gentlemanly to stare. 

 

He eyes Keith’s delicate boney ankles instead, the pretty hair curling over his calves. Further up his leg, the hair is sparser, less curly against the pale, pale skin of his thighs. It’s after hours so neither of them are in uniform. Keith is wearing shorts, the kind the Garrison issued for P.E. They’re orange and gray with the Garrison Gs logo peeling off the right calf. Keith probably took them from the Atlas’ laundry room without caring that they belong to someone else. 

 

Keith pivots, then stands on his tiptoes, reaching deep inside the cruiser as he finishes up the check. His calf muscles tense and then relax as he reaches. There’s a freckle, darkest brown, about the size of Lance’s pinky nail, on the back of Keith’s knee. Almost exactly in the middle. Lance touches it with the pad of his index finger. It’s an impulse, to touch it, done almost without thinking. He drags his finger down, connecting it with another, smaller freckle, about halfway to Keith’s ankle. 

 

Keith stops what he’s doing and slowly shifts, finally taking his head out of the maintenance hatch, to look back over his shoulder and down at Lance.

 

His hair is pulled up on top of his head in a haphazard topknot. It’s longer these days; he wears it in a braid when he’s with the Blades or training. Sometimes, during the day, he just has it down, uneven locks falling into eyes, curling around his neck. It’s a mess. It makes him look half feral. (Which, honestly, Lance doesn’t really...hate. At all.)

 

The way it is now, all stacked on top of his head, out of his eyes---okay, that’s not bad either, Lance decides. Not bad at all. The edges are thick and curled around the widow’s peak of his hairline, revealing his strong, black brows, slightly knitted as he looks down at Lance. There’s a sheen to his skin from working within the tight confines of the ship. He has a swipe of motor oil (or the spaceship equivalent) on the bridge of his nose. 

 

Lance mentally takes a deep breath. This is it---time to make his move. This is going to get him screwed or, eventually, screwed. Preferably the latter. 

 

Instead of removing his hand, Lance edges it forward, fingers walking around Keith’s knee, over his thigh. He pauses. 

 

“Lance,” Keith says, and Lance can see his chest rise as Keith takes in a breath. 

 

“That wasn’t ‘stop’,” Lance says, flattening his hand on Keith’s inner thigh. He’s half terrified---heart in his throat, the breathless kind of fear---and half turned on. Keith is watching him with those dark eyes, calculating, waiting for Lance to continue. Lance obeys, moving his fingertips up, touching the soft skin underneath the fabric of Keith’s shorts. When Keith doesn’t immediately kill him, Lance edges further still, palm over his inner thigh, thumb brushing against Keith’s skin, back and forth, back and forth. He stills. Squeezes, suggesting. 

 

Keith doesn’t pull away, no, he shifts slightly, moving under Lance’s hands, adjusting so that Lance is directly in front of him. The lighting is good in the hangar, even now, in the late evening, even in the shadow under the cruiser. There’s a flush to Keith’s cheeks. “Stop? Is that what I’m supposed to say?” 

 

The way he asks the question---God. Something deep is at the edges of his voice, coloring it darker than his normal tone. He’s got the barest tinge of uncertainty on his face, but it’s eclipsed by something so uniquely Keith---bold and reckless and daring Lance to follow through with what he started. 

 

Lance grins. “Only if you mean it.” 

 

Keith tilts his head and nods a half smile, like good point. It’s a little gesture but it’s one part flirtation and two parts smug and all parts Keith, and Lance can take no more. 

 

“Hey Keith,” Lance says, conversationally. He shimmies around, rising to his knees in front of Keith. He leans down, pressing his lips where his hand just squeezed, Keith’s inner thigh. When he straightens up, raising his face to look up at Keith, he can see Keith eyes dip to his mouth before he responds. 

 

“Yeah?” Keith says, voice a little faint as Lance satisfies himself by finally getting his hands on Keith’s waist. He lets his thumbs find his way under Keith’s black tee shirt, press along the waistband of his shorts, just at the V of his hips. 

 

“Remember, I dunno if you do, remember that weird conversation we had?” 

 

Keith frowns and now he sounds just like himself, just like his normal voice, like Lance’s mouth isn’t kissing below his navel, isn’t nosing into the swath of hair above the drawstrings of his gym shorts. “Every conversation with you is weird.”   

 

He’s getting hard already, Lance notes, as he drags one hand down to Keith’s crotch, palming him through the cheap, satiny fabric. “Noooo, I think this one was weirder than most.” 

 

“Lance.” 

 

“You keep saying that, like you want me to do something,” Lance says, tilting his head, innocent. He bats his eyes up at Keith in mock confusion. He squeezes Keith’s cock. 

 

Keith draws in a breath, but he knows Lance as well as Lance knows him. “Seems to me like you’re the one who wants to do something.” He smirks down at Lance’s lap where he’s obviously tenting his pants. 

 

And if the slight raise of Keith’s brows in challenge isn’t the hottest thing Lance has ever seen in any galaxy, well. 

 

And if there was ever a challenge from Keith that Lance wouldn’t take on… 

 

Lance bites down, hard, on smooth skin just under Keith’s hipbone. Keith yelps---heh, he wasn’t expecting it, at all ---and kinda makes a motion like he’s going to push Lance away but it’s so half-hearted, who does he think he’s fooling? 

 

And then Keith’s hand is on Lance’s shoulder and Lance is pulling Keith’s shorts down, tugging them down his thighs, sucking sweetly against the spot which will surely bruise. He lets Keith’s shorts go to pool around his ankles, and moves to appreciate the bob of Keith’s cock now that it’s free. His cockhead is purple-red and velvet smooth, perfect as Lance pillows it between his lips without any more teasing. 

 

“Ahn,” a soft noise that Lance has never heard before slips from Keith’s lips. He still had one of the tools in his hand; it drops to the floor with a clatter next to Keith’s feet. 

 

Lance smiles, mouth along the side of Keith’s cock, tongue along a thick vein. He buries his nose in the dark curls around the base. Kisses down to the sworls of soft hair that pattern along his inner thighs, even while his hand is stroking Keith. 

 

Keith makes a noise that’s between a huff and a whine---not too needy, but insistent that Lance continue. Lance is enjoying himself too much to argue. He takes Keith back into his mouth, letting Keith’s cock sit heavy on his tongue. Adjusting to the size and taste and feeling of him. The bitter taste of pre along the slit and the salt and musk of sweat. Lance flicks his eyes up to Keith; his shoulders are dropped down and he’s breathing heavy, eyes shut, mouth ajar. His hand is balled up in the fabric of Lance’s shirt, grip so tight that the shirt will surely be stretched out when he lets go. 

 

Satisfied, Lance adjusts his stance---the concrete under his knees is killer, but he’s thinking more about how tight his jeans are---one hand on the base of Keith’s cock, one hand thumbing over Keith’s hipbone, he slides his mouth down, taking him deeper than he did before. He hollows out his cheeks, bobs his head, 

 

Keith---Keith who never stumbles, who flies like every aircraft is an extension of himself, who fights like a terror made real---Keith staggers as he hits the back of Lance’s throat. Lance gags, pulling off. Thick saliva beads from Keith’s tip to his mouth, the string breaks as Lance pulls away, dripping down his chin. 

 

“Sor--sorry,” Keith gets out. 

 

Lance looks up at Keith. He’s got one hand clenched into a fist at his side, the other still a deathgrip in Lance’s tee shirt. 

 

“S’okay,” Lance’s voice comes out broken, hoarse. 

 

Keith’s mouth drops open and it’s almost comical how wide his eyes go, how his eyebrows shoot up in concern. 

 

Lance giggles at his expression and then coughs once, and he can see Keith’s hand uncurl from the fist, fingers twitching, at a loss for what to do. The giggle becomes a full on laugh, Lance resting his head against Keith’s leg. “Relax, relax, Keith.” 

 

“You---” 

 

“Nope!” Lance wipes his chin on the back of his hand, fully pointless because he’ll be making a mess of his face again soon. He looks up at Keith. “Whatever it is, don’t want to hear it.” 

 

“Lance---” 

 

Lance wags a finger over his head, before grabbing Keith’s waving hand and setting it on the top of his head. Keith’s contact is tentative, too light a touch to tangle in Lance’s hair. Lance tilts his head, giving Keith the cheesiest wink he can muster, before resuming sucking his dick. 

 

And then it’s better, because Lance can really get into a rhythm and Keith is making the most satisfied little noises, content and breathy and far too cute to be voluntary. His knees wobble and Lance rubs a soothing hand down his thigh, reminding him to be patient. 

 

“Haa--ah-Lan-Lanc- Laance ---” Keith finally tightens his grip in Lance’s hair and tugs , and it’s hot enough that Lance sort of forgets himself and pulls off of Keith’s dick with a pop and Keith sort of trembles ...and then he’s coming, messy over Lance’s cheek and down his neck. 

 

He’s breathing deep after that, bent at the waist, hand heavy over Lance’s back. They both get lost in the moment, wow, that actually just happened , mouths parted and breaths uneven. Lance helps him pull up his shorts. Keith’s hands are too fumbling to tie the knot in his drawstring properly. 

 

Lance reaches up and feels down Keith’s arm, grabbing for his hand; Keith knows exactly what he means even though they’ve never interacted quite like this, in this context, and hauls Lance to his feet with a wordless grunt. 

 

“You got---” Keith touches his own face, blinking down into Lance’s. 

 

Lance gives Keith a withering look before rolling his eyes. He wipes the spunk off his face and neck with both hands, showy and overdone as if disgusted, then drags both palms down the front of Keith’s shirt. 

 

“Hey!!” 

 

Lance clears his throat. Grins. “Don’t look at me, it’s not my fault.” 

 

Keith opens his arms wide, mouth open in incredulity, shirt stained now with cum and motor grease, cheeks flushed, shorts hanging askew on his hips. “How is this my fault? Lance?” 

 

Lance shakes his head and waves his arm in a ‘ too much trouble to explain’ type of gesture. He thinks that he makes a pretty smooth exit considering how uncomfortably wet his pants are. 

 

Success. 

 

Love it when a plan comes together. 

 

*

 

Lance gives Keith five days to recover. 

 

And then he gives him ten minutes after his morning run before he follows him into the bathroom off of the training deck. (The very same location of the Great Moisturizer Tragedy previously described.)  

 

He listens while Keith adjusts the taps. The wheezing squeeze of the mostly empty shampoo bottle and the quiet, under-his-breath singing while he lathers his hair. 

 

Lance steps over the running shorts and shoes left in a pile on the floor outside the shower stall. Keith’s ever-present knife is half-tucked under a towel folded on the bench next to the shower door. His fingerless gloves are there too. The doors to each shower stall are frosted in an alien sort of way that makes it easy to see out of the shower, but difficult to see in. Keith is just a blur of long limbs with a smudge of black hair down his back. He’s turned to face the tap and doesn’t notice Lance just yet. 

 

Lance drums the back of his fingers against the door. He opens his mouth---

 

“Hey Lance. What’s up?” 

 

Lance drops his hand. “How’d you know it was me?!” Keith still hasn’t turned around. 

 

“I heard you come in a few minutes ago. You’re always loud.” 

 

Lance hooks two fingers in the latch and slides the door open with far more force than necessary. It rattles. “Excuse you?! I am not always loud!” 

 

“You’re being loud now!” 

 

“Only because!” Lance struggles to think of a counterpoint. He steps forward. “You’re in my shower!” 

 

Keith turns. “They’re everybody’s showers!! This is the training deck!” He spreads his arms out in contention. He would look a bit more serious if there weren’t suds still left in his hair. Also naked.

 

“Yeah, but I always use this one!” Lance says, which is, yanno, a blatant lie. Heat rises in his face like the steam rolling out of the shower. He ignores it, just like he ignores any sense of decency, and shamelessly draws his eyes up Keith’s body. “But honestly, it’s a good thing I’m here. You need to rinse your hair better, Keith, if you leave it like that, you’re going to get terrible build-up.” 

 

Keith sighs and tilts his head under the tap to get the shampoo out of the sides. The water runs down his toned back. The muscles shift under his skin as his arms work. The dimples at the hollow of his back above his ass are begging to be touched. 

 

Lance pulls off his shirt. Throws his boxers on the floor next to Keith’s clothes. 

 

“You’re getting all wet!” Keith points out as Lance takes another step inside. 

 

“Uh, yeah, Keith.” Lance elbows him to the side and adjusts the temperature the way he likes it. Nice and scalding. If Keith thinks he’s going to take a lukewarm shower, he’s out of his half-Galran mind. “It’s called showering. Basic hygiene. Look it up.” 

 

The showers, space-age technology though they are, are not made to accommodate two fully grown human males. Lance practically has to crawl over Keith to reach the soap. 

 

He sees Lance going for the bath products and holds one up above his head, and Lance isn’t even sure what it is Keith is holding, but he’s not going to just stand there and let ‘bigger, cooler, grizzled’ Keith with his slight height advantage, lord it over him like that. 

 

Keith shoves him first, Lance will swear on Kaltenecker’s life. Okay? Keith starts it. 

 

They’re sort of wrestling, then---

 

The bottle gets tossed to the side---

 

And Lance sort of---slips---

 

And Keith grabs his forearm,  

 

And then Lance kind of shakes him off, only, maybe Keith reads it as more of a threat than it is? Lance’s arm flying, their limbs both flailing wildly through the steam in the small shower stall? Because Keith counters, and shit, he’s fast and strong, and suddenly he’s behind Lance.

 

 And suddenly Lance is being pushed into a shower wall. 

 

And Keith is pressing against him. His chest against Lance’s back. His knees nudging at the back of Lance’s legs. His dick, not entirely soft, against Lance’s ass. 

 

(And Lance doesn’t groan, okay? That’s not the noise he just made.) 

 

“Lance. Tell me what you’re doing.” Keith isn’t winded of course, not by a fight like this. But his voice sounds strained all the same. 

 

It’s a struggle for Lance to sound casual. He thinks he does a pretty good job of keeping his voice level, considering the circumstances. “Well. I was trying to shower.” 

 

“Horseshit.” Keith’s grip slackens on Lance’s arm, but Lance uses the leeway not to escape, but to lean further back into Keith’s space. “The...when I was---and you---the other day, and now,” 

 

Lance lets himself go pilant and relaxed. The arm caught in Keith’s grip falls free and Lance swipes water from his face. “Hey.” He tilts his head back, sincere, open, looking up at the shower ceiling. This is no good if both of them aren’t into it. “Seriously? If you want me to leave, I will.” 

 

“That’s not. What I want.” 

 

Oh. Alright-y then. 

 

“Weeell then, Keith-y boy,” Lance is very aware of his ass against Keith and he grinds, slow, into Keith’s hips, “Share with the class. What is it exactly that you want?” 

 

“You---” Keith has his hands on Lance’s chest, running down his stomach, skimming the top of his thighs, grabbing him, 

 

“M-me?” Lance can’t help but buck his hips, chasing his grip. “Little ol’me? Your Lance-y Lance?”

 

“You are just---” 

 

Lance’s hand clambers against the wall in front of him, fingers uselessly trying to find purchase over smooth tiles.  

 

“You’re just…” Keith has definitely lost his train of thought. The way his hands are over Lance’s body, “Haah, La-n-ce,” 

 

“Yeah,” Lance agrees, touching himself along with Keith. Keith stops jerking him and Lance whines, an actual whine, as Keith’s hands move over his body. 

 

Keith pulls his hips, fingers kneading into the skin, grabbing, possessive. He moves Lance, physically changing where Lance is standing. 

 

He uses one leg to adjust the position of Lance’s legs. The hair on his calf is prickly as it slides against Lance’s legs, pushing him just into place how Keith wants him. 

 

The air is too hot, too heavy with steam to feel his breath against Lance’s neck, but he must be close. His cock slides against Lance’s ass as he leans in, mouth over the shell of Lance’s ear. “Good. Stay.” 

 

He doesn’t ask it like a question, but Lance nods out a response, before he finds his voice. “Shit--Keith,

 

For however close Keith was, he gets closer yet; He’s draped across Lance’s back, holding him against the shower wall while the water beats down, and his breath in Lances ear. “I’m going to---” 

 

And Keith pulls his hips back and thrusts, fucking between Lance’s thighs. 

 

“Yeah--yea--yeah, that’s---” Lance babbles out his approval. He planned on sucking Keith off again, maybe a share nice ‘Good-morning handjob’ between buddies, but this? This is better. 

 

Keith groans as the slide gets better---Lance pushes his hips back just slightly, bent forward, guided by Keith’s heavy hand coaxing the top of his thigh, pressing near his hip. Keith has his face pressed against Lance’s back, between his shoulder blades and Lance swears he can feel the cut of his teeth as Keith uses Lance’s legs to get himself off. 

 

It’s so hot, the way he can feel Keith start to lose control, thrusts becoming less regular, his cock behind Lance’s balls, pulling back enough to slide between Lance’s ass cheeks and make him whine. 

 

When Keith comes, he pulls Lance close, one arm around Lance’s stomach, holding him in place as he humps feebly through the orgasm. White stains the inside of Lance’s right thigh, runs down to his knee before the water washes it away. 

 

Lance groans, holding himself at the base; he’s hard, hard, harder than possibly ever, because, holy shit that was, 

 

And Keith’s hands are, 

 

Keith drops him to his feet---holy shit, he lifted Lance off the floor---he still has Lance pulled tight against him, Lance’s back to his chest. 

 

Keith’s hair tickles as he hooks his chin over Lance’s shoulders. He replaces Lance’s hand with his own. 

 

His hand is around Lance’s cock and it’s exactly like Lance imagined it, but better. Because Keith is still hazy from his own orgasm and his hips are pushing against Lance’s in pace, as he jerks, single minded and impatient. 

 

It’s not long before Lance is shuddering against him, gasping for Keith behind him, fingers scrambling blindly over Keith’s neck. Lance comes, like that, a hand caught in the hair at the nape of Keith’s neck, pressed between him and a shower wall. 

 

And Keith doesn’t let go of him right away. He’s got Lance in his arms still, still holding him tight enough that Lance can feel the rise and fall of his breaths. 

 

Lance untangles his fingers from Keith’s hair, slowly, gently not to pull. “I’m---” 

 

“We---” 

 

They interrupt each other. 

 

Lance turns in Keith’s arms, which loosen around him. Not quite letting him go, but enough that Lance can get his arm free. He uses his newly freed limb to pinch Keith’s lips together. “I’m what?” 

 

Keith frowns, cross eyed, looking at Lance’s hand in front of his face. He blinks. 

 

Lance laughs, and extricates himself from Keith’s grip entirely. He reaches around him to grab the shampoo. “I’m what?” He asks again, smacking the bottle against his hand before squeezing out a generous dollop. 

 

“What?” Keith is leaning against the shower wall, expression hazy, clearly not intending to do anything else. His hair is swept back, his body is loose and sated, gaze sweetly soft as he watches Lance with his storm-dark, solemn eyes. He looks...beauti---more relaxed than Lance has ever seen him. 

 

(Beautiful.) 

 

(If that was a word that Lance used. Pertaining to Keith. But it isn’t.)

 

“You were saying ,” Lance continues, rinsing his hair before moving onto conditioner. “Over and over, ‘You are just,’ but you never finished. What am I?” 

 

“Oh.” Keith straightens up. Frowns. Looks a little more like Keith. “Impossible.” He smirks. “I was going to say you’re just impossible.” 

 

“Hmmm? That so?” Lance gives him a look like, sounds fake but okay. 

 

“That.” Keith points at him. “That’s what I mean.” 

 

Lance scoffs and Keith grins and they eventually stop wasting water and actually finish their shower. Lance attempts to steal Keith’s towel but Keith tells him to get his own; Lance is highly offended. They get dressed together. 

 

They go to breakfast together. Most important meal of the day.  

 

*

 

One week, two missions, four galaxies, and an illegal Atlas poker night later, Lance catches Keith carrying three bottles of lubricant (two from Earth, and one decidedly more alien) and an entire, unopened box of Magnums around the paladin barracks. 

 

“Keith.” Lance has a hand over his forehead and he’s desperately trying not to laugh. “What the hell.” 

 

“What!? I was just walking.” Keith makes a face. He falters. “Down the hall. Near your room.” He pauses. “With lube.” 

 

“With lube.” Lance nods, jaw locked and lips pressed tight to avoid dying from contained laughter.  

 

“So!!” Keith looks absurdly angry as he tosses the lube and the condoms onto Lance’s bed. “Lance!!” 

 

Lance fails spectacularly at containing his laugh and he collapses onto the bed, kicking out his legs. “Pfhahahahaha,” 

 

“Wha---how are we supposed to---we need this!!” 

 

Lance is still busting up. He slaps the bed. “We do, Keith. We absolutely do!!!” 

 

(Keith really was walking past Lance’s room. Lance was in bed, playing one of the shitty games that came preloaded on their datapads, when he heard Keith’s brisk walk outside his door. 

 

Keith passed. 

 

And then returned. 

 

And then left. And came back. 

 

And by the third time, Lance was out of bed, with his ear pressed to the door. 

 

Keith? Pacing? 

 

Lance opened the door to find an entirely too startled Keith staring back at him. With the aforementioned accoutrements. He pulled him inside.) 

 

Lance catches his breath from giggling and watches Keith kick off his boots. What a turn of events! The two of them shared a quick handjob three nights ago, and yesterday Lance sucked him off again (this time before afternoon training in the bathroom next to Meeting Room 14), but this is the first time that Keith has come to him.  Oh ho ho, the hunter has become the hunted!

 

“So which one’s the best?” Lance asks, conversationally. He makes a grand gesture, as if the three bottles of personal lubricant are valuable beyond measure. 

 

“Yeah. Uh.” Keith pulls his shirt over his head. The dry air of the ship combined with the smooth fabric makes all Keith’s flyaways stand up with static electricity. He blinks. Nods towards the alien one which is also pink. 

 

“Dude, really?” Lance picks up the bottle and tests a bit between his fingers, rolling them back and forth. It smells sweet and the slickness is insane. “Figures aliens would have this down to a science.” 

 

Keith rolls his eyes. He looks entirely too hot---hair messy,  shirtless with his pants unbuttoned---standing at the edge of Lance’s bed. 

 

“Okay, but.” Lance shimmies out of his own pants and tosses them, along with his shirt, across the room. He sprawls out across the bed, inviting. “Why so much?” 

 

Keith furrows his brows in question as he wiggles out of his jeans and joins Lance on the bed. He sits cross-legged in his boxers. They have a rip in one of the seams, not too big, but enough to be noticeable. Keith is the frugal type to wear things until they’re unwearable, to use things until they are unusable; Lance finds it oddly endearing. 

 

“Why so much what?” 

 

Lance makes a face like, duh, “Lube! Three bottles! Little excessive, doncha think?” 

 

Keith takes a deep breath. Lifts his eyes to meet Lance’s. “I don’t want to hurt you.” 

 

The way he says it....Keith’s face is so serious. Dead serious. 

 

Lance sits up. Places both his hands on Keith’s shoulders. “You’re overestimating yourself.” 

 

“Excuse me?” 

 

Lance looks down between them at Keith’s crotch. Raises his eyebrows. “I mean. You’re decent. Nothing to be ashamed of. But.” 

 

Keith is unimpressed. On his face is an expression that Lance has seen a bazillion times (approximately) since getting launched into space aboard the blue lion. Keith grits his teeth. “Lance.” 

 

“I’m just saying, I think my ass is gonna be fine!!” 

 

Keith runs his tongue between his lips, smiles and shakes his head. “I can’t believe,” 

 

“Can’t believe you’re this lucky?” Lance finishes for him, simpering through a smile. He bats his eyes. 

 

“Can’t believe you’re actually like this.” Keith says, taking Lance’s hands from his shoulders. He pushes Lance back against the bed and Lance laughs against the pillows, narrowly avoiding kicking him as Keith settles between his legs. 

 

“Oh Keith!!” Lance arches his back as he moans, “Be gentle!! Prepare me for your monster cock!!” 

 

Keith hangs his head but his shoulders are shaking. “Lan--” He snickers first, his smile caught in his teeth, but then he sits back and is full on laughing. “Puh---” He’s trying to talk but he can’t seem to catch his breath. Lance grins underneath him, one hand down his boxers, lazily stroking himself as Keith struggles. 

 

“Monster co---Puh--ple-please! Jus--Shut up, Lance!” 

 

“The way I see it,” Lance says, raising an eyebrow in contention. He adjusts his position against the sheets, purposely calling attention to his dick. “I’m the only one taking this seriously.” 

 

Keith scoffs, the last remnant of a laugh leaving his lips in a toothy smile. He scoots closer, shooing Lance’s hands away. His smirk only widens when Lance squawks in protest. 

 

“My turn,” Keith says, fingers brushing light over Lance’s boxers. He moves to pull them off of Lance’s hips entirely. 

 

Lance nods, lifting his ass off the sheets. Keith’s hands are gentle but---

 

---his gloves. 

 

His gloves are still on. 

 

Lance makes a noise like a buzzer. Keith freezes---he raises his hands in front of him like he’s been caught committing a crime. “What! What is it?!” 

 

“Your!” Lance makes grabby hands. Half sits up on one elbow. “Your gloves.” 

 

“Oh.” Keith’s shoulders settle in relief. He flicks the button on each of his wrists, moving to tug his fingerless gloves off. “Forgot.” 

 

“Let me.” 

 

“Hmm?” 

 

Lance takes one of Keith’s hands. “I said, let me.” 

 

Keith watches him, head tilted in interest as Lance’s fingertips brush over the edge of the gloves. He pulls at the stiff fabric, tugging to reveal the full length of Keith’s sturdy fingers. First his right hand, then his left. Lance stretches out one arm over his head, depositing the gloves in the nook at the head of his bunk. He tucks them away, carefully, like they’re something special. Because he knows, to Keith, they are. 

 

Keith inhales and Lance looks up. He opens his mouth, about to drop Keith’s hand, but Keith is too fast. Before Lance can begin to speak, Keith has him, bare hand now squeezing Lance’s, body tipping forward, mouth against his. 

 

Keith kisses him. Keith kisses him, and at first Lance almost protests---they’re just friends, getting each other off, afterall---but it feels so good, so right, that Lance’s hand soon stops spasming in Keith’s. He relaxes, leaning forward. Mouth open against Keith’s, eyes shut, the bend in his posture adjusting for the perfect angle. Keith feels him relax and drops his grip. He rests a heavy hand on Lance’s side, over his ribcage, sliding down to the small of Lance’s back.  

 

Keith makes a low, pleased noise as Lance opens his jaw further, melting under him. He shifts, moving closer, hand on Lance’s back, pressing him closer, the other on the back of Lance’s head. He sinks into Lance’s space, mouth firm and hot as he moves them down, lowering Lance against the sheets underneath him. Lance arches, not as a joke, but in earnest, as the hand that was behind his head trails down his chest. Keith’s thumb brushes over one of Lance’s nipples and Lance inhales, sharp, over Keith’s lips. He feels Keith smile against his, and bites, playful, into the kiss. Keith pinches his nipple in retaliation. Without breaking the kiss, Lance smirks and wraps a hand around Keith’s wrist, dragging his hand down to between his legs. Lance is hard, aching, 

 

Keith is too, Lance can feel against his stomach, as Keith leans over him to grab the pink bottle. His mouth is still moving against Lance’s, insistent, demanding. 

 

When Keith’s slick fingers brush over him, Lance is the one who breaks the kiss, gasping. Keith pulls away, just slightly, mouth glossy as he looks down at Lance. “Lance?” he asks. 

 

Lance looks up at him, at the hair dropped over Keith’s shoulder. The flush, red blotches just below his collarbones. The wispy hair on his chest, the way it grows thicker down his stomach, perfect. The real concern in his eyes. 

 

“M’good.” Lance reaches up and flicks a lock of hair back behind Keith’s shoulders. More falls, cascading like dark silk whenever Keith shifts. “I trust you.” 

 

Keith swallows. A look passes over his face, and Lance would swear he’s seen it before, a thousand times, and if he had to put a name to it, he’d say determination.

 

It’s a strong part of Keith’s identity---that single-minded resolve ---and to see it here. So clearly. Something swoops in Lance’s stomach and it’s not simply because of the feeling of Keith’s mouth on him. 

 

Although. 

 

That’s good too. 

 

Lance lets himself be loud and vulgar as Keith wastes no time swallowing him down. While his mouth is wrapped so pretty around Lance’s cock, his middle finger, slides knuckle deep into Lance. 

 

“Holy---Fuck, Keith,” Lance’s toes curl and he fights the need to move his hips as Keith’s tongue does amazing things. 

 

Keith watches him, heavy-lidded eyes through messy bangs. He drops his gaze, eyelashes short and stubby over his cheeks, like a swipe of ink around his eyes. He sucks Lance’s cock. He adds another finger. 

 

Lance pants and babbles things about Keith’s hands, his fingers, his mouth, his hair---he has a fistfull of Keith’s hair in his own hand and he’s saying Keith’s name and letting his fingers tangle in the strands as Keith stretches him. 

 

Keith adds another finger and curls 

 

and Lance comes like that, 

 

Abrupt, stuttering, 

 

Just from the heat of Keith’s mouth and the tight, unforgiving twist of his fingers. 

 

Keith pulls off Lance, swallowing, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. His pupils are blown huge and his chest is heaving. 

 

Lance whines at the loss as Keith pulls his fingers out. “Ke-eithh,” 

 

Keith is beyond words at the moment, focused soley on finding the box previously abandoned. Lance sees that there’s a wet spot on the front of his tented boxers and grins. Horny Keith is even less articulate than Regular Keith. When Keith finally does locate the box (Lance may have accidentally kicked it between the bed and the wall, whoops, his bad), he can’t get it open. Lance watches in quiet amusement as the look on Keith’s face gets darker and darker as his still-slick fingers scrabble over the stubborn cardboard. 

 

“You need--” 

 

With a grunt, Keith just gives up and rips the entire top half of the the box off. Shiney little blue squares explode over the bed. 

 

“Ohhh. Kay,” Lance drawls, half sitting up now. “Yep. That’s exactly how I woulda done that. Just---perfect.” 

 

Keith gives him the middle finger, head still bent in concentration, as he plucks one at random from the sheets.  

 

He tugs his boxers down, palms his weeping cock. Condom finally opened, he rolls it over his dick. 

 

He slicks himself with lube. 

 

Lance exhales in anticipation as Keith settles over him, 

 

And waits. 

 

“Are you---” 

 

“Be quiet, I’m--” 

 

“Just---” 

 

“Let me--” 

 

“You’re---” 

 

“Lance!!” 

 

“C’mon Keith, it’s not---” Lance yelps mid-sentence as Keith grabs around his waist and lifts, turning Lance on his side. Lance gets the picture and rolls over, gladly adjusting under Keith’s hands. 

 

“Better?” He asks, purposefully adding a cheeky little wiggle to his ass. He’s now face down, elbows propped against the sheets. Keith rubs a thumb between the cleft of his asscheeks and Lance shivers. “You know, Keith, this is what they make words for, so that people can----ahhh---” 

 

Keith takes him from behind. He sinks in slow, hands trembling over Lance’s hips. 

 

Lance can feel Keith inhale. Exhale. Sink a little deeper. 

 

“Ahh--shit---fuu--Keith---” Lance fists the sheets, clenching and unclenching his hands. His eyes smart with tears, but, holy shit, the stretch is so good. So full. Keith is even better----god, shit, this is better than his best wet dream, Keith---

 

He’s talking out loud again. 

 

Keith runs a hand down Lance’s spine, clumsy as he cups Lance’s jaw. “Lance. I--” 

 

His voice is ragged. 

 

“Wanna---I want---tell me---” 

 

Impatient, reckless Keith waits until Lance tells him to move. 

 

“Yeah, Keith,” Lance breathes, cock already so heavy between his legs. “Fuck, fuck--just like this---” 

 

Lance gasps as Keith does just that, pulling out and slamming back in with merciless dedication to the act. Lance nearly collapses as Keith sets the pace. 

 

“H-harder,” Lance manages, body wracked. Keith is---

 

He can hear the shutter of Keith’s swallow, the sound of their hips coming together, the short, gasping pants of Keith’s groans. 

 

He’s pulling Lance back in time with every thrust; Lance abandons any control he might have hand, losing himself under Keith’s weight. 

 

Lance feels a drop of sweat on his back. The tickle of Keith’s hair as Keith leans, close to Lance’s back, hips rocking, less steady now. “Mnn, Lan-nce,”   

 

He draws Lance’s body closer, and Lance’s knees slide against the sheets, their efforts uncoordinated. Keith wraps a hand around Lance’s cock, stroking him with graceless resolve. 

 

Lance isn’t embarrassed that he shouts Keith’s name as he comes, not when Keith is above him, swearing through stuttering gasps. Not when Keith comes just afterwards, collapsing over him, heavy and hot and boneless. He pulls out of Lance with a grunt, running a hand down Lance’s arm as if penitent. Breath uneven, he’s sticky skin against Lance, quiet wordless murmuring, mouth pressed into Lance’s hairline over and over again. 

 

Lance lies languid for a few minutes, satisfied and relaxed beyond compare. Yeah….that was...that was...pretty much perfect. 

 

He listens as Keith’s heavy breaths get steadier and steadier. Opens his eyes. 

 

...Did Keith seriously fall asleep? No shit? For real? 

 

As soon as his head hit the pillow. 

 

Lance, malcontent to lay in a puddle of his own stuff for all that long, squirms uncomfortable under Keith. Pokes his cheek. Keith swats at him in his half-asleep state, closes, then opens his mouth again. Hell no is Kogane going to get drool on his pillow. 

 

With great effort, Lance wiggles out from under Keith’s heavy body. He slides out of the bunk, taking half the sheet with him. At least fifteen condoms fall to the floor around his feet. Lance considers the fact that he has to do everything around here, including clean up Keith’s mess, and sighs. He picks up one of the foil packets and squares it up between his fingers. He flicks it at Keith’s face like they’re playing paper football. It hits Keith exactly between the eyes because Lance has excellent aim. 

 

Keith doesn’t even notice. What a bastard. 

 

*

 

Five Things Lance Has Learned Since Casually Fucking Keith: 

 

  1. He falls asleep directly after sex. It doesn’t matter where they are---in a bed is one thing, but after Keith fucked him in the Magownian Blorr temple they were assigned to “watch” during the last diplomatic mission, Keith curled up right in the holy alcove they were hiding in and started snoozing. (In their defense, the Magownian Blorr mission was a Magownian Bore, and getting laid during it greatly improved Lance’s overall domestic relations with that entire civilization. So.)

 

It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. Suppose it’s midday and Keith is pushing Lance inside the red lion before training drills. He’ll fall asleep in the cockpit afterwards and Lance will have to cover for him for at least half a varga while Keith gets his power-nap in. Suppose it’s the ass crack of dawn (space time) and Lance is sneaking in to Keith’s bedroom. Keith will end up missing his morning run, and Kosmo will give Lance the saddest puppy-dog eyes literally ALL DAY LONG. Suppose it’s evening, close to bedtime anyways. Keith will fall asleep and just...stay in bed with Lance. Lance never thought sleeping with Keith would equate to actually sleeping with Keith. Dude is like a living furnace. Plus he steals the blankets. And does these ridiculous scrunched up little faces if Lance tries to move him. Sigh. Lance misses having the whole bed to himself. 

 

It doesn’t even matter what else is going on! If the two of them are having a scintillating conversation mid-fuck, as they totally could, in theory, Keith would probably still fall asleep. Let’s hope the Atlas is never under attack while Lance is getting some, because, whoo boy, there’s no way post-coital Keith is fighting worth a damn. 

 

  1. He is weirdly nice. 

 

Okay, hang with Lance for a minute on this one. 

 

Keith. You know, Keith? Stabby? Lived in a weird little shack? Must be heavily coerced into social activities? Denser than a black hole? 

 

Yeah, that guy. He, like, cares? It’s weird. 

 

The first time, Keith was nervous (understandable, Lance is, afterall, Adonis-like in beauty), so Lance figured it was a fluke. But no. It doesn’t matter if they’re doing the nasty quick ‘n dirty in a custodial closet (shout out to deck E where Lance now has some lovely memories of getting rimmed, thank you) or drawn out in the comforts of their rooms, Keith is always making sure Lance is just as into it as he is. He doesn’t say as much, but Lance can read Keith like last month’s issue of Paladin Press. He’ll watch how Lance reacts after he touches him, or say Lance’s name like a question, or pause a moment to let Lance take the lead. He wants to get Lance off as much as he wants to get himself off. He wants to make it good for Lance. 

 

And, fuck, it’s good. Lance knew from the start that the whole ‘fuckbuddies with Keith Kogane’ thing would deliver like Domino’s. He’s smart like that. But he didn’t realize that Keith would be so...sweet. 

 

Yeah. The word ‘devoted’ comes to mind. Also the word ‘lover.’ 

 

It’s weird. 

 

  1. Going along with point four, Keith is a fast learner. 

 

Lance may, actually, be a bit of a fan of Keith manhandling him. At one point early on into Lance and Keith: Dick and Dick (Lance’s mental name for their ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement), Keith physically lifted Lance off the ground and fucked him against a wall. (They were on a mission on Dext-8 in what was basically an alien laboratory and everyone else was occupied, it’s a whole story, anyways,) Keith manhandled him, and Lance may have, maybe, made a slight noise indicating he liked said manhandling. A lot. 

 

Keith picked up on that noise, and as a result, he isn’t shy about moving Lance exactly where and how he wants him. It’s good. Extremely. 

 

It’s not long before Keith knows exactly what’s going to wreck Lance. What positions he likes, how he touches himself, how much force to use. 

 

It’s...embarrassing, but. Keith has even picked up on Lance’s thing for his hair. And his hands. And if that means that Lance gets to jack off while sucking on Keith’s fingers, well. He’s not complaining. 

 

  1. Keith has quirks of his own. 

 

Lance isn’t the only one with embarrassing things, okay? 

 

Keith is definitely, definitely a leg man. Lance doesn’t know how he didn’t notice it before. Keith spends forever touching his legs. Hands wrapped around his ankles. Mouth along his calves, his inner thighs, the back of his knees. Palms and fingers pressing deep into the meat of Lance’s thighs. Lance is pretty sure that the first time he wrapped his legs around Keith during sex, Keith had a religious experience. 

 

Lance doesn’t mind. He also doesn’t shy away from wearing short-shorts around the Atlas’ rec room, because he likes to watch Keith twitch. Heh. 

 

Also, maybe weirder than the leg thing: Keith likes the way he smells. 

 

This one takes longer for Lance to notice. It’s more subtle. But Keith will inhale against his skin when they’re pressed close. Even more so if Lance needs a shower. He favors Lance’s bed over his own. And, this was the tip off, Lance definitely caught Keith sniffing his dirty work out clothes. Gross. 

 

Maybe it’s a Galra thing? It’s chill though. Keith’s a gigantic, nasty perv? No prob. Lance can roll with that. 

 

  1. Every time, it feels like playing with fire.  

 

Keith and Lance have been co-pilots for a long time. Friends. Partners. They know each other well. 

 

Fucking Keith hasn’t changed their relationship all that much. They still argue. They still make other people in the room groan with their back and forth. They still train together. Against an enemy, they fight like two halves of the same whole. They fly, perfectly in sync. They hang out, as friends, content to just chill together after a long day. 

 

So why does it feel like every time Keith meets his eyes, Lance is burning? Why does his laugh still light up Lance’s insides like nothing else does? Why does his touch, even casual, make Lance ache for more? 

 

Keith is intense. By now, the entire universe knows that Keith is a force with which to be reckoned. He moves like his body has a fire within it; he’s blazed across battlefields, won wars with that unchecked flame. Even when tempered, the heat that smolders in him can set a room alight: Keith is passionate and honest and steadfast. 

 

And when he looks at Lance, that quiet, simple smile over his lips--the one that Lance feels like is just for him to see---Lance feels like he’s caught in something bigger than he anticipated. It’s an overwhelming, intoxicating feeling. Every time feels like the time where Lance might slip up and their relationship becomes too much. Goes too far---beyond the realm of friends and teammates and laughing together and panting in each other’s breaths and sleeping in each other’s arms. Every time it scares Lance a little bit. And every time, he ignores any sense of caution. Playing with fire wouldn’t be as thrilling without the threat of getting burned. 

 

Besides, they’re just friends. 

 

*

 

“That all you got?” Lance manages to huff out between Keith’s thrusts. 

 

Keith gives him a dirty look and slams his hips one more time, fully burying himself in Lance’s ass. And then he stops. One hand loosens its grip from the top of Lance’s right thigh.

 

And then this asshole runs a hand through his hair. 

 

“Keeeiithh,” Lance whines, looking up at Keith. He tries rolling his hips, but his position, on his back with Keith between his legs, makes that difficult. “C’mon,” 

 

“Sorry. That’s all I got, Lance.” Keith tells him, with a smirk, jerking Lance’s hips back into place when Lance tries to move on his own.  

 

“Ughhh,” Lance sprawls one arm out over Keith’s bedsheets in frustration. “You’re terrible,” 

 

Keith responds with the faintest breath of a laugh. He rises to his knees, the added height forcing him to lift Lance’s ass off the bed. It changes the angle and whatever Lance was going to say next gets lost as Keith begins to fuck him again. 

 

He watches through bleary eyes as the smirk melts off Keith’s face and is replaced with something looser. The way his jaw moves in concentration as he fucks, the parting of his lips in pleasure, the flutter of his eyes. 

 

“Fu--fuck,” Lance groans, tossing his head back because Keith...Keith is so much. All the time, but especially like this. Lance closes his eyes, feeling like something is tight and full and loose and airy in his chest all at the same time. His hands go slack against the sheets,

 

“Lance, Lan--god. L-look at me,” Keith’s hips stutter out of rhythm as Lance lifts his head. “You---” 

 

Lance hooks one leg around Keith, heel in the small of his back, the way he knows Keith likes. “Jus’ feels good--good, hhhn,” He sighs out the rest as Keith bends him even further. “Lost---hah, yeah-Keith, shit---lost it for a sec,” 

 

Keith nods. He bends forward, hands slipping over Lance’s thighs, ‘round his waist, til he’s lifting him fully. Keith gathers him in, settling down until Lance is in his lap. Lance clings to him, hands over Keith’s shoulders, finding their way into his hair, tilting his jaw up. 

 

Keith matches his intention, lifting his face up to meet Lance’s. Their mouths come together with a messy kiss, slow and loose and artless, but perfectly in unison. Keith is all around him, guiding their bodies together, mouth over his, panting the same air, kisses loose. Lance can feel every breath leave Keith’s body as he continues to fuck him, slow and gentle. He can feel every inhale as his arms tighten around Keith, holding on to him. 

 

Lance is close. 

 

He whines, face pressed into Keith’s hair, buried towards his neck. One of Keith’s hands drops down Lance’s back, a hot, heavy touch blanketing his spine. 

 

“Lance,” he says, mouth against Lance’s shoulder, jaw slack enough that Lance can feel the prick of his teeth against his collarbone. 

 

The words are punched out of Lance as Keith moves, the slide just right, the feeling so good. He nods against Keith, mouth parted and wordless. 

 

“Lance,” Keith sighs, the name falling sweet and hushed from his lips, reverence caught between the wet, smacking sound of generous lube and sheeny skin. 

 

Keith continues, breathless and low. “Lance, -s-so good for me, sweetheart,”  

 

Lance comes, 

 

He comes, a shuddering mess in Keith’s lap, back arched as Keith fucks him through it. He opens his eyes as Keith gasps. He gets to see every gorgeous microexpression cross Keith’s face, in the most minute detail, the pull of his brows, the scrunch of his eyes, the way his mouth works in silent swears. Keith says his name again, the edge of a whisper against Lance’s neck, grip bruising as he tightens, muscles clenching and then giving out as he comes. 

 

Over sensitive, but too wrung out to move, Lance collapses against Keith’s chest. Keith has a hand on the back of his neck, holding Lance ‘gainst him as his own body sags as well.

 

There’s the thump of Keith’s heartbeat marking the passing of time, and Lance is too caught in the moment to think of anything else.   

 

*

 

WHAAAAA WHAAAAAA 

 

WHAAAAAAA WHAAAAAA

 

Lance jolts out the nicest dream into misery and ear splitting consciousness. He flails around while Keith’s alarm continues to blare loud enough that the entire Atlas should be up by now. As well as any neighboring planets. 

 

WHAAAAAAAAAA WHAAAAAAAAAA  

 

“Keith!! Keith!!!” 

 

Keith rolls over to his back and turns his head to blink sleepy eyes at Lance. “Yeah?” 

 

“Oh nothing, I just felt like shouting your name,” 

 

Keith nods and his eyes fall shut again. He nuzzles into the pillow and his mouth parts as he drifts back off. 

 

Lance shoves him---hard---and yanks the pillow out from under his head. “Turn off your alarm!!! Before my eardrums get shot to Blaznas!!!” He whacks Keith with a pillow, making Keith’s life more difficult as Keith throws an arm over his shoulder to quiet the ringing device. 

 

Blessed silence. 

 

“Happy now?” Keith asks, pulling Lance against his chest. Lance can feel Keith’s lips brush against his forehead as he says the words. 

 

“Not really,” Lance mutters into Keith’s collarbones. 

 

Keith runs a hand down his back, as if soothing, but it’s obvious he’s falling back asleep. His limbs are heavy as he drifts off with Lance pinned tight. 

 

“I don’t know how you can possibly sleep after that.” 

 

Keith mutters something that is probably rude which Lance pointedly ignores. 

 

“Seriously Keith, whoever chose that alarm should be dragged out into deep space and shot. Preferably by me. Today. Now.” 

 

Keith puffs out a breath against Lance’s forehead. “Was me who set it, so that’s not gonna work.” He sounds marginally more awake. 

 

“Psssh, don’t think you’re special.” Lance frowns even though Keith can’t see his face. He’ll know. “You’re on thin ice. Watch your back, Kogane.” 

 

Keith chuckles like this is a great joke. “Love you too, Lance.” 

 

Lance freezes, still caught in Keith’s arms. He blinks. Replays the last few seconds in his mind. “Excuse me?” He pushes himself free, putting a little bit of space between their chests. “What did you just say?” 

 

Arms now free, Keith rubs sleep out of one of his eyes. “Love you? Lance?” 

 

“No no no no---what?” Lance sits up, the blanket falling around his waist. His heart is jackhammering in his chest. “What?” 

 

“I love you?” Keith rolls over to his back and shrugs against the pillow. He looks at Lance and makes a face like, duh.  

 

“Woah, hang on a minu--dude. Uh. Okay.” Lance takes a deep breath. “No.” He sighs. “Look. No. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.” He motions between them with an index finger outstretched and a brow raised. “This? Us? Purely physical.” 

 

Keith laughs. 

 

(And the sound of it is so good, early in the morning, when Keith’s voice is still husky from sleep. It comes right from his chest and makes his whole face change and Lance---) 

 

“Okay, see,” Lance feels like the world is upside down. “See, you’re laughing, but I’m not joking.” 

 

Keith sits up. His hair is messy from sleep and Lance’s hands from the night before, one side sticking up out over his ears. A closed mouth smile is still playing on his lips. “Lance. C’mon.” 

 

Lance crosses his arms across his chest. Tosses his head. “I’m sorry to break your heart, Keith-y boy, but we’re not, like, together,” 

 

“Do you really think we’re not?” Keith interrupts him. 

 

“Did you think we were?” Lance counters, hands splayed out in front of him. 

 

“Well. Yeah.” Keith says it like it’s obvious. 

 

“What?! Why?!” Lance’s voice raises a pitch. “What gave you that impression?!” 

 

Keith shrugs. Cocks his head to the side. “Well, Lance. Could be the fact that you love me .” 

 

“What?!” Lance shrieks. “No I don’t!!” 

 

“Yeah. You do.” 

 

Lance waves both his hands, eyes wide in disbelief. “I never said that.” 

 

Keith scoffs. “You don’t have to say it!! I can tell!!” 

 

“How!” 

 

“Well.” Keith’s face goes thoughtful. He looks down. Blinks. Remembers. “Yesterday you brought an extra one of those space coffee drink things to the conference call with the Wriftian council officers. You brought an extra one just for me.” 

 

“Only because you always fall asleep during meetings!” Lance counters. “And also, for the record, Keith. It’s just coffee. There’s nothing ‘space’ about it!!” 

 

Keith rolls his eyes like he’ll concede that point. “Okay. But the day before you brought me and Shiro cookies when we were stuck working late on the new Garrison-Atlas cadet training project.” 

 

Lance throws his arms up. “So! I bring you food! And hot beverages! So what!” At Keith’s smug expression, he continues his rant. “Maybe I’m trying to make you fat! Huh? You ever think about that? Maybe I had too many cookies to eat by myself! I brought Shiro cookies too! Do I love him!?” 

 

Keith smiles. “Not the same way you love me.” 

 

Lance shakes his head in open mouthed disbelief. “You’re crazy.” 

 

Keith leans forward and pats him on the cheek. His hand lingers. “You know my schedule better than I do. You worry about me when I’m gone with the Blades. You talk about me with anyone who will listen. You think it’s hot when I smack you with the qixiv. You---” 

 

“Enough!” Lance removes Keith’s hand from his face, but finds that he doesn’t want to let it go, especially when Keith turns his hand over in his palm, thumb caressing between the creases that people say spell out your fate. 

 

“You always have my back. You listen when I talk. You get happy when I laugh. You hate it when I’m angry, or-or sad, even when it has nothing to do with you.” 

 

Keith looks up at Lance, meeting his eyes. He leans forward, close enough to kiss, and smiles like he’s telling Lance the sweetest secret. “You say my name in your sleep.” 

 

“Nope.” Lance’s voice cracks. “Don’t remember it. Didn’t happen.” 

 

Keith nudges him, brushing their noses together, before catching Lance’s mouth in a kiss. It’s gentle, unhurried, the way his mouth moves, tasting Lance, drinking every part of him in. He pulls away, mouth so soft, and drops Lance’s hand to touch his face again, thumb gentle as it strokes across Lance’s temple. 

 

And it feels so intimate and kind and certain---like love. Keith smirks, like his point’s been made, and he settles back down into bed, snuggles back under the covers. He looks up at Lance like he’s expecting Lance to join him. 

 

“Okay.” Lance touches his face with his fingertips, the exact place that Keith just touched. “Okay, so if---and this is pretty big if---if we are,” he uses the finger quotes, “‘together,’ and if I do ‘love’ you, what do we do now?” 

 

Keith looks up at him. “Same thing we’ve already been doing, I guess?” 

 

“You guess.” Lance states flatly. 

 

Keith shrugs. A strange look passes over his face. “You came when I called you ‘sweetheart.’” 

 

Lance feels his entire body flush. 

 

He should honestly just get up and walk away. He doesn’t need to put up with this! It’s way too early, and,  

 

And, 

 

Keith looks so smug.  

 

He’s looking at Lance with that glint in his eyes, playful and rude and happy, and Lance loves---

 

He loves that look. 

 

Because he loves Keith. 

 

“How did this happen?” Lance wails, throwing himself back onto the bed. One of his arms smacks across Keith’s chest. Keith, to his credit, weathers the blow with a singular oof and waits patiently while Lance has his first crises of the day. 

 

“Love is supposed to be romantic, ” Lance starts, hands out in front of him in dramatic consternation. 

 

“We’re romantic.” Keith says. 

 

Lance sits up and gives him the nastiest look he can manage. 

 

“Our first date was me blowing you in an aircraft hangar!!!!” Lance realizes a second later, eyes wide, horrified. “What are we going to tell our kids!!!” 

 

“Probably not that.” Keith says, completely unbothered. He whistles and Kosmo appears, huge and slobbering. Keith grabs her on either side of her face. “Me and Lance’s first date,” he tells the dog, “Was not him sucking me off.” 

 

“Keith!!!” Lance shouts, kicking. 

 

Keith laughs, silent and wheezing, mouth wide and hair messy. 

 

Lance can’t help it. He starts laughing too. 

 

***