Hunk was planning to get a drink, and Pidge too as they try to walk past the lounge room, where they hang out after training, but he wasn’t planning to spy. Pidge wasn’t neither. But they both stop in their tracks when they hear Keith and Lance’s voices. Hunk and Pidge steps by the doorway, and they see something that makes them want to stay and observe.
What it was they were observing? Lance’s smile.
I know that smile, Hunk thinks. He knows Lance. He watched him grow up from a 12 year old to the man he is now. He was there to see Lance mature. He knows when Lance’s smiles are fake or genuine. And he also knows the smile Lance only gives certain people, the kind of smile that you can only smile in front of people you truly love. He’s only smiled like that in front of his family. Sometimes, he does it for a few seconds in front of Hunk and the others, before it turns to only a genuine loving smile he gives to his friends, not his family.
But he’s smiling that smile, the one he gives to people he really loves, in front of Keith.
Hunk watches, expecting to watch it turn to a genuine smile but it doesn’t. It lingers like that, and his smile doesn’t even fade. Hunk is confused, shouldn’t they hate each other? Hate is a strong word, maybe dislike is a better fit. But still— seeing Lance give that smile to Keith and letting it linger? Something is definitely going on.
Hunk turns to Pidge, and she’s already had a surprised look on her face. She knows too. She smirks at Hunk, before she turns her attention back to Lance and Keith. Spying isn’t like them— well, maybe a bit, but not really.
“You’re so stupid.” Keith says, but there’s also a smile on his face. It’s full of love , and they’ve never seen him smile like that. “I’m not going to dance to some weird alien music.” He has his arms crossed, and the tips of his ears are dusted with red.
Lance is already moving, that smile still there , and he’s shaking his hips slowly. The alien music sounds a bit like ballroom music? The type of music you’d slow dance to with your partner. “I don’t care. You told me you couldn’t dance so you’re definitely going to dance with me.” He pulls Keith’s hand.
Pidge kind of expects Keith to fight back and stay but instead, Keith gets up and follows Lance to the open-spaced area. She is surprised, that for sure, but what makes it even more surprising is when Keith leans into Lance and holds his hand.
“I’m going to step on your toes.“ Keith warns and Lance just gives out a huff of laughter. They start with Lance in the lead, but slowly they just start to sway to the beat of the music. Pidge and Hunk watch Lance visibly wince when Keith accidentally step on his toes.
They expect a remark, a comment— anything honestly but he brushes it off, and continue to sway to the music with Keith.
“You know, you shouldn’t have done that just now.” Lance says, and Keith bites his lower lip. They all know what Lance is talking about; Keith had taken a blow to his lion a few hours ago during an attack, and the reason was because the beam was directed at Lance but Keith had taken the blow for him. It ended up with Keith being unconscious the entire attack and everyone thinking he had died. “I thought I lost you, Keith.”
Keith sighs and he leans his head against Lance’s chest as they continue to sway to the music. “I didn’t want you to get hurt, Lance.” His voice is soft and they’ve never heard Keith speak in that voice. His voice is a bit shaky as he adds, “Pidge said that beam was powerful, and I was scared you were going to get hurt.”
“But you got hurt, idiot.” Lance says, and there’s a bit of frustration in his voice but there’s no malice. “I need you here. With me.” His cheeks are dusted with pink. “So don’t do that ever again, okay? I don’t care what happens, just don’t... don’t do that. I thought I was going to lose you, and I was so scared.” His voice wobbles at the end, like he’s about to cry. “I don’t want to lose you. I’m not ready, Keith. I’m not. I still need you here.”
“I’m sorry.” Keith says. “I just...”
Hunk feels like he shouldn’t be watching this— it’s a private moment between two people. But it’s too late.
It’s too late because the second before Hunk and Pidge turn to walk away, Keith leans in to kiss Lance.
Hunk and Pidge watch with their mouth gaping like fish. What shocks them even more when Lance kisses back, and it doesn’t even look like this the first time they’ve kissed. It looks like they’ve kissed before, with how natural it looks and how Lance’s hands tighten around Keith’s waist and how Keith cups Lance’s cheek with a hand.
Hunk turns away and Pidge does the same. They share a glance, a shocked one, before turning back to their rooms, drinks forgotten as laughter from the other two boys are heard as they walk away.
Ever since that night, Pidge and Hunk start to observe.
How long has this been going on? How long have they been dating ? Why didn’t they tell the others? Why didn’t Lance , their BEST FRIEND, didn’t tell them?
Honestly, Hunk and Pidge admit that they are a bit oblivious. Okay, maybe really oblivious.
They’ve seen the way Lance looks at Keith and vise verse, and how they share whispers and always seem to lean into each others’ space, how they always seem to greet each other first after a mission, how their eyes light up when they see each other and more. They should have seen this earlier.
It’s a month since the kissing incident. Hunk and Pidge are frustrated, wanting to ask Keith and Lance about it but they just can’t find the right chance to ask them about it. Why? Every time they find them, they’re always stuck in another intimate moment to spy on.
For example, right now.
“The others are looking for us, Keith.” Lance says but Keith shushes him. They’re at the observation deck, and Hunk and Pidge are standing by the doorway. They shrug at each other, deciding to spy again instead of confronting them about it. Don’t get them wrong; they know it’s wrong to spy but Lance is their best friend! “Shiro is going to be mad at us.”
“So?” Keith asks. “This is important and I really need to show you this.” His face is beaming as if it really is important. He drags Lance to the panel. Keith clicks a button on the panel, and a screen pops up.
Lance bites his lip until it bleeds, and the taste of copper fills his mouth.
It’s a picture of his family. Not just any picture— it’s the one when they took before Lance went to the Garrison. There was Lance in the middle, surrounded by all his family members with a beaming smile on his face. His parents stood next to him and his siblings too. His aunts and uncles were gathered around him and his grandparents were in front of him sitting on the chair. Anyone could see just how much proud they were of Lance.
Lance’s eyes start to well with tears. He takes an uncertain step forward, and he brushes his hand against the screen. “I almost forgot how they look like.” Lance whispers. “Day by day, I start to forget their faces and voices but...” The tears start to fall and he turns to look at Keith and smiles softly at him.
And that smile is there again.
“Thank you, Keith.” Lance says, his voice shaky. “Thank you.”
Keith smiles softly in return, and he steps forward to brush Lance’s tears away with his thumb. He doesn’t say anything as he wraps his arms around Lance’s neck. He gives a small peck on his nose, and Lance sighs.
Pidge and Hunk share a disgusted look before turning back to the scene. As much as they dislike mushy stuff— well, Pidge mostly— they need to see this. Well, need is a bit over the top but still, how come Lance, their BEST FRIEND, practically SIBLINGS, not tell them?
“How did you get that anyways?” Lance asks, “We’re in space, if you haven’t noticed.”
“Well, I got a little help from the Olkarians.” Keith replies, “I know your phone from Earth died the moment we got here, and you had to get a new ‘space’ phone. But I know there’s some sensitive stuff in your old phone so the Olkarians helped retrieve some stuff.”
“I love you.”
There’s a moment of silence. Hunk’s eyes widen, and so did Pidge’s. Look, Lance had dated so many people at the Garrison. But he had never ever said the three words to any of his previous girlfriends and boyfriends . To see Lance smile that smile and say “I love you” much mean that Lance must really, really like— er, love Keith.
“You what?” Keith’s soft voice fills the room and Pidge and Hunk snap out of their trance. There’s disbelief mixed with awe colored in his voice, and his eyes are shining too as he repeats his question. “You love me?”
“I know I’m a bit too early.” Lance says, face growing red. “We only started dating 2 months ago—“ Bingo, Hunk thinks. “— but I do. I do love you. Quite a lot actually. Uhm.” Lance chuckles nervously, “I needed you to know that. And you don’t need to say it back though, no pressure.”
Keith doesn’t say it back, leaving Pidge and Hunk disappointed— maybe even a bit crushed when they see disbelief color Lance’s face.
They walk away from the scene, feeling a bit of loss for their best friend.
They’re on a mission the next day. Lance has been strangely quiet. Hunk and Pidge try to ask him how he is but Lance brushes them off and says he is fine each single time. They know why Lance isn’t fine but, how can they tell him that they know? Keith is always next to him, but in an awkward posture.
However, this time, Keith is not next to him.
Keith is, in fact, bleeding out.
The mission had started out simple enough. The ship had a lot of quintessence which could power thousands of laser cannons, which is why they needed to raid the main ship of the fleet. A lot of fighter jets had been shot, giving Keith an opening to inside the ship. They had expected the inside of the panel to be empty as most of the soldiers were out. Even if the soldiers were in, Keith could still beat them.
However, the General was in there.
Keith had managed to knock him unconscious— but not without having a few stabs to his chest.
“Keith. Get out of there.” Shiro’s shaky voice fills the comms. “Now, Keith.” It changes to a softer voice— still a bit shaky, “Please.”
Then, Lance’s voice fills the comms. “What’s going on?! Keith !” His voice is panicky, and he is screaming again when Keith coughs in the comms. “Keith! What happened?!”
“I got stabbed. A lot.” Keith replies weakly, coughing out blood. “I- I don’t think I can make it.” He winces when he moves barely an inch. His hands move to his wound, trying to apply pressure and cries out when he does. He can barely hear Lance’s voice anymore, and he’s trying to hard to stay awake.
Red. Why is everything red?
I can’t breathe.
Keith gasps for breath but it doesn’t work. He feels like there’s a huge weight on his chest and he can’t breathe. Black dots decorate his vision and it starts to blur and the edges are becoming dark. His entire body feels numb except for his stomach where pain shoots up his spine. His ears ring and he wants to hear a certain voice— Lance’s voice. He’s scared. Where is Lance?
He groans at every tiny movement that sends pain everywhere. He hears someone’s footsteps in the room. He can’t get up, he tries to but he can’t. He hopes it’s not a soldier.
He’s aware of someone in front of him but he can’t make out who. They’re yelling and screaming. Keith can barely make out what they’re saying but he’s crying again, because they’re pressing pressure against his wound and it hurts. It hurts and he can’t take it anymore.
“Keith! Stay with me, okay? Can you hear me?”
Keith tried to speak, but he can’t. Blood gurgles out of his mouth. He tries to open his eyes— when did he even close them? And then he sees Lance. He’s blurry but he sees him. He cries out in relief. “Lance.” He chokes out and his voice sounds raspy and his throat burns. Lance snaps his head up and more tears run down his cheeks. He turns his head to see Pidge with him, her small face filled with terror. They lock eyes and Pidge is starting to cry, tears running down her cheeks.
“ Keith .” Lance cries, and his body is shaking. “You’re alright. You’re going to be alright. Stay with me.” His voice is shaky and Keith wants to wipe his tears away. Wants him to stop crying. Wants him to—
He gasps again for breath and black dots swim his vision again. He can barely hear Lance now, even though Lance is screaming again and Keith’s heart drops when he hears Lance’s pleading words.
He sees Pidge again and he thinks— fuck it . He knows he and Lance want to keep it a secret but he needs to say it. He doesn’t care that Pidge is here. He turns his eyes to Lance, crying out again when Lance applies more pressure on his wound.
“I love you.” Keith says, his throat burning as he does. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this before.” Everything hurts. Talking hurts. He limits his words as he continues speaking, “I love you, Lance.”
Lance’s eyes widen. Then his face crumbles again, more tears falling down his cheeks. “Keith. No, no, no, no. Don’t leave me!” Lance cries out, and Keith tries his best to open his eyes but they’re almost glued shut. Keith, himself, is crying and he tries to reach out but Lance beats him to it; holding his hand tightly. “Stay with me, Keith! I can’t lose you—“
Keith’s vision turns to black.
A dark cloud hangs over Lance’s head the next few weeks. Keith’s heartbeat had stopped on the way back to the castle, and when Coran had said that there was only a 46% chance Keith would make it, Lance had started to sob and cry.
However, when Keith’s vitals had stabilized and when Coran announced Keith was going to make it, Lance had bitten into his lip so hard he drew blood. He had cried into Hunk’s shoulder while everyone else patted his back, Shiro and Allura confused as to why Lance was this distressed over his rival, especially Shiro who is also distressed but not as distressed as Lance.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you guys.” Lance says, Pidge and Hunk next to him. They’re sitting in front of Keith’s pod. “Keith and I agreed to keep it a secret until we were ready to tell everyone.”
“It’s cool. We knew from the start.” Pidge says, “And I was there for your first I love you’s too.”
“And your first dance, I suppose.” Hunk adds.
“What?” Lance’s face flushes red. “You guys—“
“—Knew? Yeah.” Hunk finishes for him. “We didn’t ask you about it though, but we did spy.” Hunk grins sheepishly, “Sorry.”
Lance sighs. “It’s fine.” He looks up to Keith’s pod. “Now that you guys know, that means I am able to rant to you guys about him.” Lance grins at them and Pidge groans into her small hands.
“Just because we know doesn’t mean you get to rant to us about his mullet!” Pidge says, flicking at his forehead. But she smiles a bit as she adds on, “But it’s nice to see you in love .” She coos and Lance smacks the back of her head. Hunk snickers.
“Oh my god, they’re going to be so disgusting in front of us.” Pidge grimaces and Lance rolls his eyes. “I mean— they were pretty disgusting before but now that they’re open they’re going to be more disgusting !”
Just as Lance is about to reply, the pod opens and a dazed Keith steps out of it. Lance instantly stands, running forward to catch Keith in his arms before he falls. There are tears welling in Lance’s eyes. “You’re awake.” He whispers, as Keith’s groan is muffled by Lance’s shirt. “Welcome back to the land of the living.”
Keith blinks sleepily and looks up. “Lance.” He says groggily. Just as Lance is about to say something, Keith buries his face into Lance’s chest, muttering something about wanting to sleep.
“He just spent weeks in a pod and now he wants to sleep?” Hunk says in disbelief. Lance chuckles, and Keith looks up to see Hunk and Pidge, face flushing. “Glad to see you back, Keith.” Hunk adds.
“Oh god.” Keith says, suddenly alert. He looks up at Lance who is still staring at him with a loving smile. “I’m sorry, Lance— Pidge was there when I-“
“It’s fine.” Lance cuts him off, moving his bangs to the side and placing a soft kiss on his forehead. Keith blushes at the intimacy, eyes darting to Pidge and Hunk who are whistling and looking at anywhere but them. “They knew from the start, cariño. ”
“Lance, you have a minute left before I get to hug Keith!” Pidge says, and Hunk nods at Pidge’s words before leaving to call the others. “Better get to the back of the line! I wanna hug Keith too!”
“We’re boyfriends. We can do what we want.” Lance says, smiling fondly. “That’s how love works.” He says the word boyfriends , like it’s a foreign word on his tongue. Like he’s never said it before. He thinks he likes saying it. He turns to look at Keith, who’s also staring at Lance with a fond look.
I love you.