Keith could feel the alcohol in his head, making it fuzzy. The entire world was funny as he and Lance stumbled down the hallway towards his dorm, tripping over each other. Keith laughed out loud, leaning way too far back to rest against the wall. Lance was flush against him, a hand pressed over his mouth while he loudly whispered "Shhhh!"
"You're the loud one!" Keith said, breathlessly pulling Lance's hand away from his mouth.
Lance leaned forward, his face far closer than it ever needed to be. "You're--"
"I'm what?" Keith prompted, cupping Lance's cheek in his hand.
"Something!" Lance cried, pulling away and marching down the hallway.
Keith trailed after him, dissolved into giggles again. "Wow, Lance. Good one!"
Lance fumbled with the door to Keith's dorm, unable to get his key in the slot. Keith slid up behind him, wrapping his arms around Lance and attempting to guide his hands. Lance looked back over his shoulder, their noses touching. Together they still couldn't get the key in the lock. Keith rested his chin on Lance's shoulder.
His mouth was directly next to Lance's ear, but it didn't cross his mind to speak any quieter. "Maybe we should just knock."
Lance leaned back into Keith, letting the other boy support his body weight as he knocked loudly and incessantly on the door, yelling. "Pidge! Pidge are you in there? Pidge we neeeeed you!"
The door clicked open a second later and Pidge was peering at them from behind her glasses, a large grin on her face. The boys pushed through the door together, still half wrapped up in each other. Lance tripped and fell sideways into the wall. Keith had to support himself on Pidge to not fall over as he laughed.
"You two had a good night it seems," She commented, looking between the boys.
Keith, still laughing, face flushed, met Pidge's gaze. "Lance is drunk!"
"I am not!" Lance cried as he straightened himself up. In an attempt to prove Keith wrong, he walked deliberately down the hallway and into the living room, taking incredibly small, incredibly slow steps. Even with all of his effort, he still wobbled.
"Laaaaaance," Keith whined as his best friend's back disappeared into the next room. He reached a hand after him, not willing to let go of Pidge.
"Uh oh," Pidge teased, "Your boyfriend is getting away!"
There was a loud thud from the other room and then Lance could be heard laughing. Keith finally let go of Pidge and followed Lance down the hallway, holding onto the wall with each step he took. The hallway was twisting and turning in front of him but he persevered. As soon as he entered the living room, he found Lance laying on the ground, one leg up on the couch.
Keith didn't even think twice. He shakily crossed the room before plopping down, directly on top of Lance. Lance groaned at the impact, but immediately snaked a hand around Keith's waist, adjusting so that Keith could press his head into Lance's neck.
Keith could feel Lance shaking under him with laughter. "You thought I was drunk?" Lance turned his head sluggishly to face Keith, " You're drunk!"
"I'm not drunk, 'm just tired." Keith yawned. He slipped down Lance’s body until his head was just above Lance’s abdomen. Lance looked down at him as he moved, his eyebrows raised. “I’m just gonna take a quick nap, mkay?”
Before Lance could respond, Keith lifted the hem of his shirt all the way up, stuffing his head underneath. Lance erupted into laughter as Keith’s breath tickled the skin of his stomach. Keith grinned, pulling Lance’s shirt all the way over his head and pressing his lips to Lance’s skin. A moment passed where Lance finally calmed down and then Keith was blowing raspberries against his stomach, holding firm to his sides. Lance shrieked, reaching hands down to try and uncover Keith’s head. In response, Keith grabbed Lance’s hands, slipping his fingers between Lance’s, and pressed them firmly to the ground by Lance’s shoulders.
“Keith,” Lance cried between breathless laughs, “That tickles!!”
“I know,” Keith murmured, pulling away enough for his words to be heard. He took a deep breath and lowered his mouth again, blowing another raspberry.
Lance squirmed relentlessly underneath him, bucking his hips up and twisting to and fro in an attempt to dislodge Keith, laughing the entire time. After he blew one more raspberry, Keith released Lance’s hands and allowed himself to be moved, finally coming back out from underneath Lance’s shirt.
Keith pressed up with the intention of readjusting himself on top of Lance. As he pulled himself back up towards Lance’s head he paused, looking down into Lance's flushed face. They were so close that Keith could practically feel Lance lick his lips. His pupils were wide as he looked at Keith, a lopsided grin still on his face. Keith could faintly feel a flush spread across his cheeks and down his neck but his head was too fuzzy to make much of it.
"Hey," He said, leaning his head down to rest against Lance's forehead.
Lance slid one of his hands up Keith's back and into the hair at the base of his neck. Keith shivered. "Hey," he responded.
"I think— " Keith shook his head.
Lance tilted his head up. "Tell me," He whispered, his lips brushing against Keith's. Keith couldn't bring himself to pull away.
There was something uncoiling in his chest, but he didn't have a name for it. He thought back to the party and the way a stranger had gone to brush a piece of hair out of his eyes. He thought back to how quickly he had pulled away, his mind immediately going to Lance. And now, here he was, laying straight on top of Lance, who had his fingers threading through Keith's hair, brushing gently across the skin on his neck. Why had that felt so wrong but this felt so right?
"I don't want anyone else to touch me," He said quietly, the words moving sluggishly past his lips. He wasn't exactly sure what he was saying, or if it properly expressed his thoughts. "Only you."
"Only me," Lance repeated, as if he were seeing how the words tasted. "Yeah. Only me."
"Someone else— someone," Keith paused, trying to collect his words. "They touched my hair."
Lance moved his hand so he was stroking Keith's hair instead. "That's mine."
Through the haze in his brain, Keith could feel some sort of alarm going off, but he ignored it. He felt good. He felt warm and happy and invincible. He had Lance with him and that was how it was supposed to be. He could face anything with Lance by his side. Or underneath him, as the situation was.
This thought seemed to have seized Lance and he met Keith's gaze. "Mine," he repeated, tugging on a strand of Keith's hair. His words were a little slurred, but they were full of genuine emotion. "Mine," he moved his other hand back around Keith's waist, pulling him impossibly closer. "And definitely mine," he said, the hand in Keith's hair holding his head steady as Lance lifted his head the small distance necessary to capture Keith's lips with his own.
Keith had heard of sobering moments and it turned out, having your lifelong best friend kiss you, their hand sliding up the back of your shirt, was one such moment. His mind was instantly clear and he was acutely aware of what was happening. And… he was surprised to find that he was okay with it. He shifted all of his weight onto one hand, freeing the other so he could tangle it into Lance’s hair, pressing down into the kiss. Lance was warm and firm underneath him, their entire bodies aligned. He could feel the insistence in Lance’s hand as it clawed at his back, dragging across his skin. The sensation was strong and welcome.
A low whistle sounded from behind them and the boys pulled apart suddenly, both turning their heads towards the sound. Pidge was leaning against the wall, a smug grin on her face and eyebrows raised. Keith knew he should climb off of Lance, but he didn’t want to. He wanted to lean back down and continue where they had left off. Judging by the way Lance made no attempt to remove his hand from Keith’s shirt, he felt the same.
“Am I interrupting?” Pidge’s grin was so wide Keith thought it might split her face open.
He glanced back at Lance who was still flushed, but his eyes were focused. “I think that’s a little obvious.”
Pidge crossed the room to stand above them, her face softening. “As much as I am fully in support of this, you guys are drunk and I’m not going to let it go down this way.”
“I’m not drunk,” Lance replied, but there was still a slight slur to his words. Keith groaned internally.
Pidge was tugging on Keith’s shoulder as she looked at Lance, “You said that before and still ended up on the ground.”
Lance’s hand finally left Keith’s shirt and Keith was left feeling completely unmoored. He was confused and empty, unable to look at Lance. Sure, Lance had started it, but he was drunk. Keith had been drunk too. He stood up and headed down to the bathroom while Pidge hauled Lance to his feet. Would he have kissed back if he weren’t drunk? He didn’t have an answer to that. Mostly because he couldn’t imagine it happening.
The bathroom door shutting seemed incredibly loud in the small space. Keith’s head pounded as he looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was a disheveled mess and his lips were pink from kissing. A small smile flitted to his lips at the thought, but he banished it. Things were going to be weird tomorrow if Lance remembered this. He had clearly acted because he was drunk— it didn’t mean anything. It didn’t mean anything to Lance, at least. Keith didn’t want it to mean anything to him either but the way his heart felt like it was crumbling in his chest made him think otherwise.
Moments from the party flashed through his mind again. He remembered the stranger trying to loop their arm through his, remembered them leaning close to whisper in his ear, remembered thinking, over and over again, ‘ you’re not Lance ’. Keith closed his eyes, scrubbing his hands across his face. All of this was the alcohol, he reasoned. Alcohol messed everything up. Tomorrow he would wake up, his head pounding worse than it was pounding now, and he and Lance would laugh about this and everything would be fine.
He opened the bathroom door and headed down the hallway to his room, tripping over his feet as he went. Pidge was nowhere in sight, her bedroom door closed. Keith walked into his room to find a shirtless Lance curled up on top of the covers. Keith tried to ignore the way his heart constricted at the sight. He flipped off the light, stripping his own shirt off and tossing it towards the closet. He shut the door and crossed to the bed, tugging his side of the comforter down.
“Lance,” Keith kneeled on the bed, reaching out to gently shake Lance’s shoulders. The boy stirred, blinking up at him. “You gotta get under the covers, dummy.”
Lance swatted halfheartedly at him but he did slowly shift, pulling the covers out from beneath him. He settled into the bed, pulling his pillow closer. Keith paused to think about the implications of the fact that Lance had his own pillow in Keith’s bed— and Keith had his own in Lance’s. Things had the possibility of getting very, very messy if he didn’t sort his feelings out. Hoping and praying that it was all just a side effect of the alcohol, Keith laid down next to Lance and closed his eyes.
He was doing a relatively good job calming his nerves until Lance shifted in bed next to him, moving Keith’s arm out of the way and laying his head on Keith’s chest. He threw his arm over Keith, nuzzling into his shoulder until he was comfortable. “Goodnight.”
“G’night,” Keith managed to choke out, afraid that the thundering of his heart would wake Lance. He was absolutely certain he was no longer going to get any sleep.
The world was dark except for the streetlights that were scattered around campus. Keith stopped beneath one of them and Lance couldn't help but stare. Even from a few feet away, he could see Keith's eyes, alight with laughter. He tried not to look at the way Keith's wet shirt clung to his body, leaving nothing hidden. Lance swallowed as he looked at Keith's hair curling at the base of his neck, despite the rain still pounding down on them. He came to a stop next to Keith, feeling like he was burning up inside.
His heart thundered in his chest as he looked down at his feet. He knew what he wanted to do, but he could never do it. Not sober, anyways. Sober, he didn’t have a good excuse. His life wasn't a romcom, he couldn't pull Keith into a searing kiss, melding their bodies together as they stumbled the remaining distance home. He couldn't run his hands over Keith's chest, no matter how much of it he could see through his shirt. No matter how well he could remember the feel of it pressed against his own chest. The only thing he could do, because he did it all the time, was run his fingers through Keith's hair. So he did.
He ignored Keith's gaze burning into him, holding on tightly to the few shreds of self control he had left. He refused to look at Keith's slightly parted lips because he knew that would be it. It was already a losing battle, but that would be the final nail in his coffin.
They were so close, which wasn't uncommon but it still made Lance ache deep in his bones. God, he just wanted to be closer, to close the distance between them, to touch Keith. He wanted to do so many things that he knew were wrong. Best friends didn't feel this way about each other. He hated himself.
"You okay?" Keith's quiet voice drew Lance away from his thoughts.
He hadn't realized that he had stopped playing with Keith's hair and was, instead, cupping the back of his neck and running his thumb gently along the line of his jaw. He pulled his hand back hastily," Sorry, I-"
Whatever he was going to say was cut off by Keith catching his hand. "Lance."
Lance could feel his heart straining against his ribs, trying its best to get to Keith. He could feel the warmth of Keith's hand in his, fighting off the cold of the rain. His skin felt alive. "I'm fine."
Keith didn't say anything back, the look he gave Lance was enough. Lance turned away. What was he supposed to say? He had already tried to confess his love once, drunkenly, and that's what had gotten him into this situation. Up until their kiss, he had been doing a pretty solid job of ignoring his feelings— of locking them away inside the box labeled ‘best friend’. But they had kissed and Lance remembered every second of it. And nothing had been the same inside his head since. He shook his head, trying to draw his hand back from Keith's. Keith held firm.
"I'm just cold," Lance tried, looking at their interlocked hands. "We should head back."
He could feel Keith looking at him and the weight of that gaze made him want to collapse. He knew Keith would never walk away from him, that there was nothing he could do to push Keith away. But he could change their dynamic and he didn't want that. He was just going to have to shut his feelings out.
Keith tugged his hand, making him stumble a few steps forward. They were toe to toe as Keith took Lance's hand and pressed it against his wet chest, right over his heart. "I'm right here."
It was something he had done to calm Lance for years. Whenever Lance felt like things were spiraling, or like he was alone, Keith would do this. The thundering of his heart under Lance's fingers usually comforted him, reminding him that he never had to face anything on his own. Now, it only made him feel like he was shattering like glass.
"I know." He choked out. The rain nearly drowned out his words.
Their eyes met and Lance felt like diving off a cliff. He could see the concern swirling in Keith's eyes. It was only a matter of time before he figured it out. The longest he had ever hidden anything from Keith was a week. He couldn't even keep birthday or Christmas gifts a secret for more than a few days. He knew Keith would find out eventually, but he was going to do his best to prevent that.
The fall air was cool around them, bringing a flush to both of their cheeks. Lance and Keith sat next to each other, pressed firmly together from shoulder to hip to knee to ankle. It wasn’t weird, it couldn’t be weird when they’d been doing this for so many years of their life. When they’d been friends for so long. Close for so long. It was agonizing though, nearly physically painful for Keith. They were lined up perfectly with each other and yet it still wasn’t enough. He wanted more
"This is probably as close to space as you'll ever be." Keith said. Their cart rocked slightly as the ferris wheel came to a stop with them at the very top.
"That's not true," Lance hummed, "Airplanes get way higher than this." Keith laughed, nudging Lance. The lights of the fair illuminated the area below them and Keith could easily see the masses of people moving around. But past that it was darkness and the stars shone brilliantly against the black backdrop of the sky.
"That's fair," He conceded, turning to look at Lance. He immediately wished he hadn't.
Lance was looking back at him, a softness to his expression. The lights from below made him glow and he looked ethereal. His blue eyes were so close that Keith could swear he could see the stars reflected in them. His breath rushed out of him, leaving him with a feeling of being off balance.
As cliche as it was--and Keith knew it was cliche--he suddenly felt like the world shrunk until all that existed was him and Lance in their little cart. He watched as a breeze lifted Lance's bangs off his forehead, thinking of how he'd like to press a kiss there. He knew what it was like to kiss Lance when drunk. But he also wanted to know what it was like to kiss him sober. To kiss the back of his hand, his forehead, his shoulders... anywhere Keith could get his lips. Instead of their one kiss satisfying Keith’s curiosity, it lit a fire in him, burned him down to nothing more than a terrible amount of pining for his best friend.
Lance scooted closer to him, their knees bumping. "Do you remember when we were kids?" he asked.
Keith did. He remembered it well. He remembered the way Lance would cling to his arm as the ferris wheel went around, terrified of heights. "You used to hate this thing."
Lance was smiling a small, fond smile. "But it was less scary with you." He leaned back slightly and Keith tried not to mourn the loss of closeness. "I still don't think I'd ever ride one of these without you."
Keith's heart constricted in his chest. "You mean without someone else."
"No," Lance readjusted again, scooting so they were sitting with their sides pressed up against each other. "I mean you. I wouldn't ride this with anyone but you. It's kinda our thing."
Keith was immediately seized with an overwhelming feeling of love for Lance. How could he not be? Lance was sitting here, innocently remembering their past and not realizing what every word meant to Keith. He was innocent and pure and all of the goodness in Keith's life.
It made Keith feel bad for the way he wanted to rest his hand on Lance's thigh. It made him feel guilty for the fact that he wanted to meet Lance's smile with a kiss. It would be so easy for him to throw his arm around Lance and hold on for dear life, but he knew he couldn't. He would have to face his feelings soon and then he would have to face Lance.
Still, it didn't stop Keith from lowering his head onto Lance's shoulder, nuzzling slightly into his neck. If he was going to go down, he was going to do it in flames. "I didn't know we had a thing."
Lance made an indignant sound, smacking Keith gently on the leg. "We have a lot of things!"
"Yeah? Like what?" Keith asked.
A moment passed where Lance was silent and thinking. Finally, he answered and simultaneously drowned Keith in a tidal wave of emotions. "Sharing clothes is our thing. We don't do that with anyone else. The treehouse back home? Definitely our thing. Sharing a bed? Never done that with anyone else." Lance hummed, trying to think of more.
"You forgot my favorite one," Keith breathed into the space before them.
"Oh yeah? What's that?" Lance asked.
"Our 3am phone calls." Keith answered.
He could feel Lance shift underneath him, turning so he could glance down at Keith. Keith kept his eyes straight ahead as Lance responded in surprise. "You like those? I thought you just did it for me."
"Of course I like them. I always like the opportunity of getting to talk to my favorite person." There was so much more he could say about it, but it would be too obvious. There was no subtlety in waxing poetic about falling asleep to the sound of his voice over the speaker. There was no casual way to say that he looked forward to Lance calling when he couldn’t sleep, that he felt special because he was the only thing that could ever help Lance sleep. Still, a few more words slipped out before he could stop himself. "I like when you stay the night the best, but if you don't, those makes it feel like you're still there."
"Aw, Keefers," Lance was trying for teasing, Keith knew, but it was softer than that. His voice wavered slightly and when Keith looked up at his face, he could almost swear he saw some of his own forbidden emotions reflected there.
Before he had a chance to think too much on it, the ferris wheel lurched forward again and Lance instinctively grasped his arm. They fell into a silence as it slowly lowered them, one level at a time, back to the ground.
Once they were out of the ferris wheel and on the ground, the magic of the moment seemed to dissipate. The world was once again loud and bustling and they were immediately swept away into a crowd. Still, as Keith gripped Lance's shirt and tugged him back to his side, he couldn't help but think that had to symbolize something. He just wasn't sure what.
Lance was unreasonably hopeless when it came to tying his tie. They had been taught together and by both of their fathers. Keith was capable of tying multiple intricate knots whereas Lance still struggled with the most basic one.
"Just do it for me!" Lance cried, dropping the ends of the tie.
Keith smiled a little as he stood up and took his spot between Lance and the mirror, quickly twisting the tie into a beautiful knot and tightening it so it hung just right. He smoothed the tie down Lance's chest in a totally gratuitous motion. There was no real need for it, but he would take whatever contact he could get away with.
Satisfied, he stepped aside and they both looked at Lance's reflection in the mirror. Lance was gorgeous . That had always been true but it was even more striking with him in his black suit and blue tie. The suit was tailored to fit Lance exactly, cutting sharp angles around his body and making him look every inch as perfectly lean as he was.
Keith felt his throat go dry at the sight. Lance's hair wasn't dark, exactly, but it was dark enough that, paired with the black suit, it made his eyes pop. Everyone's favorite feature of Lance was his eyes and Keith understood why— they varied shades of blue depending on the day but each one was stunning. Keith, however, seemed to be the only person who had a different favorite part of Lance. He loved Lance's mouth. Knowing Lance as well as he did, Keith could tell his every mood just by a quick glance at his mouth. It didn't matter if it was a smile or a downturn of the lips, Keith knew what it meant. He'd spent years cataloguing every expression to know exactly how to decipher it. Some of his smiles were only a hairsbreadth different than the others, but it didn't matter-- Keith knew what they meant and he could see the difference.
Keith's heart ached a little more with each beat, as if someone were slowly trying to pry it open. He allowed his eyes to follow the lines of the suit, noting the way it framed his shoulders and laid across the expanse of his chest. "You look great."
Their eyes met in the mirror and Keith had to glance away. He was sure Lance would be able to read the agony in his gaze..
Because that's what it was— agonizing. It was painful to look at Lance when he looked so handsome, to know that he could never grab Lance by the lapels and tug him into a kiss. It was a kind of hurt that he couldn't describe, watching Lance mess with his hair until it was right and not being able to scream that he was perfect. Because he was perfect. He had always been perfect. Perfect for Keith, at least.
"So do you," Lance said. Keith glanced down at himself. He, too, was in a suit but his was charcoal Grey. Lance had picked it out for him a few years ago, insisting that color looked best on him.
"Thanks," His voice was as unsteady as his heartbeat as he stepped away from the mirror, needing some distance between them so that he could breathe.
Keith's parents were influential at the university they attended and they were hosting a gala. Keith had initially said that he wouldn't be attending-- it was mostly board members and higher ups talking business-- but then Lance had gotten wind of the event and had gone straight to Keith's parents and RSVP'd for the both of them. It wasn't surprising, Lance could never turn down a chance to dress fancy. Keith had obliged, saying that he'd go simply because he wanted an excuse to see lance dressed all fancy. It had seemed like a good idea at the time and it was a good idea. Good in a terrible, awful, torturous way.
And now, now he had to go spend an evening sitting next to Lance and swallowing down the words he'd been wanting to say for years. Because Lance was his best friend.
He reminded himself of that over and over again as they headed out the door.
Originally they hadn’t been planning on going to the party. Keith had been complaining all day about how tired he was after a mentally draining test at 8 in the morning and Lance would never complain about a night in. He was absolutely always happy to just lounge on the couch in sweats and his favorite of Keith’s shirts, a bowl of popcorn in his lap. It was how they spent more than half of their nights and Lance was still always willing to spend more nights that way. But, Pidge had been insistent, explaining that Matt had convinced her to go and she really didn’t want to go alone. So they’d agreed.
They’d gotten ready and Lance had bit his tongue when looking at Keith as he came to meet them in the living room. He had on a dark pair of well fitting jeans and a black button up with the top two buttons undone. Lance had forced himself to turn away upon realizing that he wasn’t wearing an undershirt and those open buttons were just revealing his bare chest. It had been a relatively quiet walk to the party.
Now, Lance leant against the makeshift bar, propping his head in his hand and watching Keith from across the room. He had swore to himself that he wouldn’t drink tonight. Last time they’d gone to a party and drank, Lance had lost the constantly waning grip he had on his self control and kissed Keith. They’d never spoken about it— Lance was perfectly fine to continue to never speak about it— but the moment fought its way to the forefront of his mind a lot. He didn’t regret it— he couldn’t regret doing the one thing he’d been wanting to do for awhile. But Keith was his best friend and certainly didn’t want Lance to kiss him again. Honestly, Lance was thankful that he had just moved on from it and brushed it off as some drunken antics— if he even remembered, anyways. Lance wasn’t sure exactly how to question him without seeming suspicious so he’d resigned himself to dying curious.
On the other side of the room, he could see Keith chatting with a girl they’d never met. Keith looked incredibly uncomfortable and Lance couldn’t stifle a slight laugh at the sight. The girl was leaning in close to Keith, brushing her hands across his shoulders and trying to get him to take a solo cup full of beer. Keith took a step back but the girl persisted, stepping into the space he’d just vacated. Immediately his eyes were scanning the room until the landed on Lance, pleading with him to come and save him. Immediately, Lance pushed off the counter and crossed the room, threading his way through the crowd with ease, his eyes never leaving Keith.
“Hey, miss me?” He slid up to Keith’s side, shooting him a smile before glancing at the girl who was glaring daggers at him. “Thanks for keeping him company for me. I’ve got it from here.”
“Oh, it’s no problem,” The girl put on her sweetest voice, reaching out to grab Keith’s arm. “We were really having a great time, actually. Before you interrupted.”
“Actually—” Keith started to say, attempting to pull his arm back.
The girl wouldn’t let go and Lance was not about to back down that easily. He plastered on his own smile, slipping an arm around Keith’s shoulders, “Interrupted some stranger hitting on my boyfriend?”
Lance could feel Keith freeze next to him, but he didn’t whip his head around like Lance expected. Instead, he kept a straight face, not blowing their cover. The girl, on the other hand, seemed to know otherwise. She narrowed her eyes. “Everyone knows who you are, Lance. You’re not his boyfriend, you’re his best friend.”
And there it was, the perfect opportunity. Lance could see the opening that was laid in front of him and he wanted more than anything to seize it. Logically he knew there was a better way to handle this— he could just reassert to her that Keith wasn’t interested. He could do that. He should do that. But, instead…
“Oh, am I?” Lance’s heart was thundering in his chest alongside the beat of the music. He could feel his pulse all the way down to his fingertips as he tightened his grip on Keith’s hip and used his other hand to pull the collar of Keith’s shirt away from his neck. “Do best friends do this?” He breathed a moment before lowering his lips to Keith’s neck, kissing gently at the exposed skin there. Keith took in a shaky breath as Lance pressed his lips against his neck again, and he could feel Keith’s roaring pulse under his lips. He smiled against it.
“That hardly proves anything,” The girl huffed, crossing her arms.
“No?” Lance tried not to sound giddy as pulled away from Keith. Nothing in his life had ever been set up so perfectly for him before and he would be damned if he didn’t take every moment of this opportunity. He moved to stand in front of Keith, blocking the girl out. “Do best friends do this? ”
Before Keith could do or say anything, Lance was cradling his face in one hand, their gazes locking. It was only a miniscule moment before Lance saw the permission written in Keith’s eyes and he didn’t hesitate to take it. He crashed his lips onto Keith’s, his hand slipping under the edge of Keith’s shirt to splay across the small of his back, pulling their bodies flush together. Keith was warm against him and Lance felt like he could just drown in the feeling. He could hear the girl make and indignant noise but honestly he couldn’t care any less. All he cared about was feeling Keith fist his hands in the front of his own shirt and the way he tilted his head just so to allow their lips to meet better. He was wrapped up in anything and everything that was Keith and he didn’t even notice when the girl walked away.
Instead, he just kept kissing Keith like his life depended on it. In a way, it felt like it did. He’d kissed Keith once, drunk, and hadn’t been able to get it off his mind since. Every day when he saw Keith he’d be overwhelmed with the urge to kiss him again and again and again . Distantly, in the back of Lance’s mind, he was sure that this time they really would have to talk about it. He’d need to steel himself for the conversation that was coming, to keep his poker face strong so Keith couldn’t see what was truly written on his heart. Keith could never know that Lance was starting to think about him as more than a best friend. To feel more than best friend feelings for him.
“What on earth is happening here?” Hunk’s voice snapped Lance out of the trance he was falling into. Reluctantly, he pulled away from Keith, wishing desperately to be able to lean in and plant just one more kiss to his lips.
Keith’s face was completely flushed, his hands still gripping tightly to the front of Lance’s shirt. HIs eyes were wide, his lips pink. Lance paused for a moment to allow himself to commit that look to memory. He wanted to remember Keith exactly like this for the rest of his life. As great as Keith always looked, he’d never looked more gorgeous or attractive than he did now as his eyes searched Lance’s face for some sort of explanation.
Lance glanced away quickly, afraid of what truth Keith would find if he looked hard enough. “Some girl wouldn’t leave Keith alone so I was pretending to be his boyfriend.”
“That didn’t look very pretend,” Hunk said cautiously.
“She was very persistent,” Lance offered as a weak explanation. His hand was still under Keith’s shirt and he wanted to keep it there but he knew he couldn’t. They were in public and they really only were best friends, as much as that hurt Lance to think. Carefully he slid his hand out from Keith’s shirt, pausing with it on his hip because he just didn’t want to let Keith go. But Keith released the front of his shirt finally and cleared his throat, turning away from both Lance and Hunk.
“I, uh, I’m going to go grab a drink. You want anything?” Keith said glancing back at them. Hunk held up a can of pop that was in his hand and Lance just shook his head, his voice feeling weak. “I’ll be right back.”
As soon as Keith was through a crowd of people and far enough away, Hunk turned to face Lance. “What just happened?”
“I told you—”
“You were kissing him, Lance. That’s a bit past pretending.” Hunk reached a hand out and rested it on Lance’s shoulder. “Buddy, I can’t let you go down in flames like this.”
Lance glanced away and wasn’t surprised to find that his eyes immediately sought Keith out in the crowd. His heart ached in his chest. “I’m not going down in flames. It was a one time thing.”
He didn’t have to look back at Hunk to know the soft, almost pitying expression he was receiving. “I’m not saying it needs to be a one time thing. I’m saying you need to talk to him about it.”
“I generally try to avoid outright rejection,” Lance replied miserably.
To his surprise, Hunk laughed. “Rejection? Did you not feel him kissing you back? That was not the kiss of someone who is going to reject you.”
There was more Lance wanted to say but Keith had returned, two cups in his hands. He offered one to Lance who took it instinctively. “I know you said you didn’t want something but I figured you’d be thirsty after, uh, that .”
“Thanks,” Lance answered awkwardly, no better idea of how to respond coming to his mind. He sipped at the drink, relieved to find that it was just a cup of water. Hunk was glancing between the two of them with his eyebrows drawn together.
The silence was beyond awkward and Lance hated it. This was Keith, afterall. He’d never in his life felt awkward or embarrassed around Keith. There wasn’t anything he couldn't do or say around Keith. And yet, at the silence stretched on for the longest moments of Lance’s life, he realized not for the first time, exactly why he could never tell Keith how he was feeling. He couldn’t live like this, even if it was only temporary. He hoped that, if Keith ever did find out, it would only be temporary. They would just take some time apart so Lance could get his feelings back in check and then things would move forward as if none of it had happened. But even that brief amount of time without his best friend, his other half, would be too much to bear.
Finally, finally Keith broke the silence. His tone was lighthearted and the lopsided smile that Lance loved so much was back, “So now that I’ve kissed you both sober and drunk, I can fairly say that you are a terrible kisser.”
A relieved laugh bubbled out of Lance even as he was swatting at Keith. “That is absolutely not true! At least my lips don’t feel like sandpaper!”
Keith feigned offense, pressing a hand to his chest. “How dare you say that?”
“I mean have you ever even heard chapstick, Keefers?” Despite his relief, Lance’s heart was slowly breaking in his chest. He was glad to see Keith brush it off as just a joke and to hear him laugh about it but the part of him that wanted this to mean something more was disappointed and hurt. Still, he ignored that. He could lick his wounds when he was alone later.
“Yeah, I have.” Keith sipped at his drink. “How could I not? You keep at least three in every single room you ever enter.”
“And notice how soft my lips were!” Lance waggled his eyebrows.
Keith shook his head, a fond smile controlling his lips. Lance looked at him, noting how normal this was. This was no longer flushed Keith with the kiss-swollen lips and the tight grip on his shirt. This was best friend Keith who was able to joke with Lance about everything without it being weird. This was the Keith that Lance had known forever. The Keith Lance had fallen in love with. The Keith he would continue to fall more in love with every single day, he knew. He was fucked.
Keith no longer had a drink in his hand, but he could feel the effects of the drinks he had finished in his head. He wasn’t drunk, exactly, but pleasantly buzzed. The warmth of the alcohol flooded him, making him feel fuzzy and soft at the edges and he loved it. He leaned into Lance who was next to him, feeling like he needed to be grounded. Lance didn’t even glance at him as he threw an arm around Keith’s shoulders, steadying him comfortably against his side. His fingers splayed out over his shoulder, gripping him and making Keith feel secure.
“Hey,” Keith said, not entirely sure what he was going to follow that up with. All he knew was that he needed to talk to Lance, immediately.
Lance glanced over at him, smiling slightly. “Hey yourself.”
There was a grin on Lance’s face that meant he knew how Keith was feeling but Keith didn’t care. He felt like he could fly if he tried hard enough. “You look very nice.” He stumbled over his words. When Lance’s eyebrows rose in surprise, he added. “You have pretty eyes.”
It was true— beyond true, really. Keith had spent minutes, hours, days recently agonizing over how attractive Lance was. He couldn’t stop the thought from popping to the forefront of his mind every time he saw Lance bend or twist, his lithe body on full display. He couldn’t help but think it every time Lance lost himself in laughter and then slowly blinked his gorgeous eyes open and fixed them on Keith to make sure that Keith had found it funny too. And when he would feel Lance by his side at night? Well, Keith certainly wasn’t getting much sleep anymore. Ever since that night Lance had drunkenly kissed him— drunkenly made out with him, but he tried not to dwell on it— every space of his mind had been invaded by Lance.
The change was subtle and yet all encompassing, Lance had always been such an integral part of Keith’s life that he had already existed in every corner of his mind. But before he had existed as someone Keith trusted with every single dark secret. Now he invaded Keith’s mind as that person, but also as a person Keith wanted to press up against the wall with their lips crashing together. Now when he thought of Lance, it wasn’t always just Lance sitting on the couch next to him, bowl of popcorn in his lap. Now it cycled through different versions of Lance. Sometimes it was popcorn Lance, sometimes it was Lance darting to his room with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist, his hair dripping onto his shoulders because he forgot to bring a change of clothes to the bathroom. Other times it was Lance leaning against the building, tousling his hair with his fingers while he waited for Keith.
No matter how hard Keith tried to place Lance back in the “best friend” section of his brain, he couldn’t do it. Lance still was his best friend, he always would be. Absolutely nothing could destroy the years of friendship they had under their belt. But Keith was slowly starting to admit that he wanted something else. He hadn’t put a name to it yet— he didn’t want to put a name to it— but it was slowly creeping up on him anyways.
“Thank you,” Lance turned a little so he was facing Keith more directly. His arm was still wrapped around Keith’s shoulder, his other hand going to Keith’s hip to steady him. “You look very nice, too. I rarely get to see you dressed up.”
Keith glanced down at his outfit again, then back at Lance. The motion was so sudden that the room spun around him briefly. As Lance laughed and held him a little tighter, Keith started to realize that he may be a bit drunker than he had originally thought. He reached a hand out and pressed it to Lance’s chest to steady himself and their friends laughed around them.
“Someone is having a good night,” Hunk teased, nudging Keith.
Keith swatted at him playfully. “Shhhh,” he said.
“How much have you had to drink?” Lance asked, leaning to the side to catch Keith’s attention.
“How much have you had to drink?” Keith countered.
Lance let go of his hip and reached up to straighten Keith’s tie slightly, biting his lip against the smile that wanted to form. “Clearly not enough.”
Keith reached up to touch his tie before reaching out and touching Lance’s tie. He glanced up at Lance’s face. “I tied this for you.”
“Yes,” Bemused was the only way Keith could think to describe Lance’s expression. “You did. I’m awful at tying ties.”
Pidge laughed from Lance’s left and Hunk shook his head, a fond smile on his lips. Keith smiled at everyone’s reactions. He loved his friends. He loved being surrounded by his friends. He loved the gentle way they were looking at Lance. He looked at Lance, too, and tried not to lose what little sense of himself he still had left.
Faintly, he could hear Hunk teasing Lance. “You can’t tie a tie?”
“No!” Lance blushed faintly and Keith tried not to stare too obviously at the flush of color in his cheeks. “Keith had to tie it for me earlier.”
Immediately, Keith remembered what it felt like to slide his hands down Lance’s chest. He remembered how it felt to be standing so close that his bangs had brushed Lance’s chin when he looked up at him after he’d finished. He was seized with the desire to do it all again, to be that close to Lance. His hand was still on Lance’s tie and he rubbed the silky material between his fingers, wishing for it to ground him but he could feel himself drifting further and further away into the desire that constantly plagued him now.
“What guy gets to college and can’t tie a tie?” Pidge jested, nudging Lance with her elbow. “Even I can tie one! I learned when Matt did.”
“I’ve never really had a reason to wear ties,” Lance was shrugging. It was true— most of their life they hadn’t dressed up. But, since arriving to college, multiple formal occasions had popped up. Logically, Keith could’ve used them as an opportunity to teach Lance to tie his own tie, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to give up the chance to touch Lance, to stand that close to him. He would do anything to hold onto those moments for as long as he could. So he continued to not teach Lance, and to just tie his ties for him. It was pathetic, but it worked for him
An idea popped into Keith’s head. Sober, he would’ve ignored it. He would’ve pushed it to the back of his mind and pretended it didn’t exist. And then, later, when he was absolutely alone, he would draw the idea forward and play it out in his head, fantasizing about how it would have gone. But Keith wasn’t sober. Keith didn’t have the inhibition necessary to stop him from acting on this idea. The normal warning alarms that would be going off in his mind were painfully silent.
“I’ll give you a good reason to keep wearing ties,” He murmured. His hand that was holding Lance’s tie gripped hard as Lance turned to look at him, eyebrows raised.
Before anyone even had a chance to exhale, Keith was yanking Lance down by the tie, his other hand going up to cradle the side of Lance’s neck and guide their mouths together. And then he was kissing Lance. He was kissing Lance as fervently as he had when they were drunk on his living room floor. As passionately as he had at that party when they were trying to ward off the random girl. Immediately he could taste Lance— could taste the fruity drinks he liked to drink. It only added to his buzz.
There was a faint gasp from next to him and then some snickering but he didn’t even pay it any mind. Instead, all he could feel was the way Lance’s mouth opened under him and the feeling of Lance’s tongue suddenly. Keith was dizzy with alcohol and exhilaration and he gripped Lance’s tie with all of his strength, as if it alone could keep his knees from giving out from underneath him. As if Lance could feel his trembling— and honestly, he probably could— he reached back for Keith and pulled him until their chests were flush together. Keith’s head was so fuzzy that he didn’t have time to think about the implications of Lance kissing him back. He didn’t have time to puzzle out the meaning of Lance taking a few stumbling steps, dragging Keith with him, until he was leaning against the wall and Keith was leaning against him.
The kiss lasted for a few more seconds before they pulled apart suddenly, seeming to realize at the same time that they were at a party and it was more than just their friends around. Blushing furiously, Keith stepped back so he was no longer leaning against Lance. Immediately his chest felt cold without Lance’s body there. Lance was looking back at him with an expression that was both questioning and mournful and Keith could feel it reflected in the very depths of his soul.
The rest of the party seemed to be moving on around them, oblivious to the internal turmoil that Keith was facing. He could feel the distance between him and Lance like the sharp edge of a knife, cutting into him. He wasn’t sure what to say or how to justify what he’d just done. Kissing Lance before had been a sobering moment and this had sobered him somewhat, but not enough to stop him from wanting to do it again. Then again, maybe that was him sober.
Finally Lance took a shaky breath, his eyes still locked on Keith, and asked. “Why do we only kiss when we’re drunk?”
“Are you drunk?” Keith asked, “Because I didn’t think you were.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m sober. ” Lance answered, his voice raw.
Keith swallowed against a dry throat, the motion painful. “I’m sorry, I—”
But Lance was shaking his head, cutting Keith off. He repeated himself. “Why do we only kiss when we’re drunk?”
The only way Keith could describe how he was feeling was seasick. “When else are we supposed to kiss?”
It seemed like a dumb question, he knew that. The answer was obvious and was laid right out in front of him but he needed to hear Lance say it. He needed Lance to say that they should kiss sober— that he wanted to kiss sober. Because then Keith would know this meant something to him. He would be absolutely certain that Lance wanted all the same things he wanted. But Lance wasn’t saying anything back, he was just staring at Keith with his eyebrows drawn together in an expression that Keith had never seen before and never wanted to see again.
The silence stretched on between them for too long and Keith felt his heart crumbling in his chest before it dropped to his feet. With a deep breath, he turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. He could hear Lance calling his name, but he ignored it. He felt like the shards of his heart were breaking further with every step he took away from Lance but he didn’t care. He couldn’t— wouldn’t stop now. He needed to get space from Lance.
Before he knew it, he was tearing out the front doors of the hall and into the cool night air. He wasn’t sure exactly when he’d started running but he couldn’t stop. He took the stairs two at a time on the way down, veering left as soon as he hit the bottom. Downtown was probably a twenty minute walk from campus and Keith was absolutely determined to do it alone, his jacket still at coat check inside the building.
“Keith!” He could hear Lance behind him, could hear his footsteps echoing a moment after his own as he sprinted down the sidewalk but it only spurred Keith on. He picked up his pace, pushing himself as hard as he could.
Vaguely he knew how ridiculous this had to look— two guys dressed to the nines sprinting down the street at full speed. It wasn’t surprising that people were glancing at him as he passed but he just ignored them. As he ran, he tried to think of a game plan. Lance had a key to his dorm room so going back there was out of the question. If Lance was willing to sprint after him down a busy city street, he’d certainly be willing to follow him home.
The only problem was that he couldn’t think of anywhere that he could go where Lance wouldn’t find him. They knew each other too well.
“God, Keith, will you just stop for a second?” Lance was yelling after him.
Keith’s lungs were burning in his chest and his already wobbly legs were on the verge of giving out and he knew it. Logically he knew he would have to face Lance eventually but emotionally he didn’t want it to be now. Still, he slowed to a walk and then finally stopped, leaning his back against one of the light posts. Lance caught up to him a few moments later and he looked like a complete disaster. His hair was a disheveled mess, his button down half untucked from his suit pants and his tie crooked. His face was flushed and his expression was completely tormented. Keith looked away.
“What?” He ground out, hating the way he sounded so feeble.
“What the hell was that?” Lance asked, gesturing to the sidewalk they had just run down. “You really had to make me chase you?”
“I didn’t make you do anything,” Keith retorted, panting still. He leaned his head back against the streetlamp, closing his eyes against the bright light. “You shouldn’t have done that. You should’ve just stayed at the party.”
“What is your problem?” He could hear how out of breath Lance was and his heart constricted.
“Why did you follow me, Lance?” He opened his eyes and glanced over at Lance who was much closer than he had been a moment before. “Just let me go, it’s fine.”
“No it’s not fine, Keith. I have no idea what the hell just happened.” Lance stepped so he was directly in front of Keith, blocking his escape route. “One minute you were giving me one of the best kisses of my life and the next minute you were sprinting out of the building. And I have absolutely no idea what happened in between those two things.”
“You rejected me.” Keith said bluntly, willing himself not to flinch as the words tore at him.
Lance had the audacity to look offended at the words and Keith had to resist a scoff. “Rejected you?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Keith— what? How on Earth did you get rejection out of that?”
“When are we supposed to kiss then, huh? Because the obvious answer would be sober. But you didn’t say that. You didn’t say anything .” Keith’s chest was heaving again but this time it was from the raw emotions that were flooding him, not the exertion of running. “And if you have no answer for when we’re supposed to kiss, that obviously means that we aren’t supposed to.”
Understanding dawned on Lance’s face but it didn’t make Keith feel any better. He glanced to his right, considering pushing past Lance and continuing on his way home. He couldn’t lock Lance out of his dorm, or even out of his bedroom, but the bathroom door had a lock on it and he and Pidge had lost the key to it within the first week of living there. Of course, Lance could still talk to him through the door but at least then he wouldn’t have to stare at his stupidly gorgeous face as Lance broke his heart.
“Keith…” Lance breathed and whatever walls Keith had built up immediately broke back down. Because this was Lance and no matter what he did, he couldn’t push Lance out of his heart. Every single piece of his heart belonged to Lance and he knew it. “I wasn’t ignoring your question, I was trying to think of the right way to word my response.”
That caught Keith’s attention and he snapped his eyes back to Lance, searching his expression for any signs of insincerity, but there weren’t any. Carefully, he asked. “And? Have you figured it out?”
The expression on Lance’s face insinuated that he hadn’t quite figured out exactly what he wanted to say, but he took a deep breath and tried anyways. “I don’t mind kissing when we’re drunk. But I want to do it more than that. I want—” He faltered, closing his eyes. Keith wanted to reach for him but he was waiting with baited breath for Lance to continue his thought and he felt like any movement might ruin the moment and shatter the delicate air that was surrounding them. “I want to kiss you when we’re sober, Keith. I want to kiss you good morning and goodbye. I want to kiss you to celebrate when you ace your tests! I mean, honestly, I think it’d be easier to list the times I don’t want to kiss you.”
Whatever breath Keith had been holding was gone and he was thankful for the lamp post that was holding him up. “Okay,” he whispered into the space between them. “List those times then.”
Lance’s smile was brilliant as he reached for Keith. He gently cupped Keith’s cheeks in his hands and Keith reached up to hold onto his forearms, his heart thundering so erratically that he thought it might break through his ribcage completely. “Keith Kogane,” Lance whispered, “There is never a time I don’t want to kiss you.”
“Never?” Keith felt dizzy but he could feel the edges of his lips tilting up into a smile.
Lance leaned in until their lips were just gently brushing, but it wasn’t quite a kiss. When he spoke next, Keith could feel the word against his own lips. “Never.”
And then Lance closed the miniscule remaining distance. This kiss was like the others but completely different at the same time. It was softer, full of emotion. Keith could feel every word he’d kept locked away reflected in Lance’s own heart, could feel the unspoken words being passed between them. A moment into the kiss, Keith reached up and laced one hand into Lance’s hair, gently pulling his head closer. Lance laughed softly against his lips before kissing him again. Keith considered reaching for Lance’s hip and dragging him forward until they were close enough to be one person but he hesitated. It was strange, he realized suddenly. He’d been bold enough to kiss Lance in front of an entire party full of strangers and now he was afraid to touch Lance somewhere he’d touched him a million times before.
“Do it,” Lance pulled away, grabbing Keith’s hand and guiding it towards his side.
“Can you maybe not read my mind for, like, three seconds?” Keith asked, but he grabbed a fistfull of Lance’s suit jacket anyways and tugged him forward, relishing in how complete he felt when he had Lance pressed against him.
“I absolutely will not stop.” Lance replied and Keith let out a slight laugh of his own.
People were passing them by and Keith wondered if they looked as ridiculous as they had when sprinting down the street. At least this time he wasn’t running from what he could only assume was a broken heart. This time he was standing in the middle of the street, dressed his absolute fanciest, with the boy he loved more than anything else laughing in between kisses.
A loud crash echoed through the sky and a moment later the rain poured down on them. Lance burst out into laughter, stepping back and throwing his arms out to the side. Keith didn’t even try to stifle the smile that came as he watched Lance spin around in the rain, his shirt coming fully untucked. Lance stopped spinning, dropping his arms to his sides as he turned to smile at Keith through the rain and Keith realized that he was literally living a movie scene.
“So,” Lance had to speak loud enough for Keith to hear him over the rain. His hair was plastered to his head and his white shirt was essentially see through.
“So?” Keith prompted as he stepped forward, reaching out to smooth a hand across Lance’s abdomen, feeling the warmth of his skin through his wet shirt. It was the kind of early spring rain that felt warm, but only because it was being compared to the cold winter days that had come before it.
"So," Lance repeated again, quieter this time since he'd closed the distance between them and was standing directly in front of Keith, so close their noses were brushing. "Is it fair to say that I can do this any time I want?"
Keith was just about to ask what this was before Lance's mouth settled on his again. And he hoped that the enthusiastic way he kissed back, the way he pulled Lance flush to his front and sighed into the kiss, was a clear enough yes.