Chapter 1: I Made A Whole Google Maps Route With Actual Addresses I Found Online Because I Needed To Know Which Trains They Were Taking Even If That Didn't Make It Into The Actual Fic
“Fuck Winter.” Shiro cursed slipping his gloves on, breathing into his hands.
“Don’t disrespect my season.” Keith was cold. He’d forgotten his own gloves and scarf, but he wouldn’t let Shiro have this win. “You chose to live in New York. Don’t complain when you could’ve picked Hawaii or the Mediterranian.” Keith did miss the summer season.
“But I met you here babe. Your fire keeps me warm.”
“Shiro.” Keith sighed and Shiro smiled so brightly some of the snow on the ground melted.
“Let’s get going before our neighbors hear us.” Keith began to walk down the sidewalk. “Please,” he said over his shoulder. Shiro laughed and jogged to his boyfriend’s side.
“Why don’t we go away for President’s weekend?” Shiro hummed. “We could go somewhere warm. Roast a little in the sun and then come back to being popsicles.”
“That would be great if we didn’t already agree to dogsit for Pidge.” Shiro sheepishly ducked his head into his coat. Keith continued. “Pidge planned this vacation months ago. Pidge asked us months ago. Not that I don’t love your spontaneity babe .” Shiro suddenly perked up. If he wanted to go away now, he should’ve planned months ago. So what can he do but plan for months from now? He counted on his fingers.
“January to February” One finger. “February to March” Two fingers. Keith raised an eyebrow.
“March to April.” Three fingers.
“April to May.” Four fingers. Keith stopped on the corner of the block waiting for Shiro to work out whatever was happening. “May to June” Shiro spread out his fingers waving in Keith’s face. “July is six months from now. Is six months enough time to plan a vacation?” Shiro stood there preening. Keith crossed the street.
“I guess so.” He sighed. Shiro fist-pumped the air. They walked up to the subway steps. “Where do you want to go?”
“Somewhere hot .” They laugh as they walk up to the overhead platform.
They spend the first train ride researching and debating different destinations. For no particular reason, they can’t decide on a place. Either the flight is too long or they’ve already been there or they just don’t want to go or it won’t be a good time in the year to go. While Keith leads the pair from one end of the Times Square-42nd Street station to the other, Shiro notices a new poster. He doesn’t stop walking but he tugs on Keith’s jacket.
“Keith. There’s a new poster for the Moma.” Shiro tries to find another one to point out. Keith hums a response. “It’s for their Greek and Roman Art exhibit.” Keith mildly stiffens but continues to the platform.
“And?” he feigns nonchalance.
“What about Greece? You went a few times as a kid. You loved the summers you spent with your dad but you do seem fond of the times you went with your mom.” Shiro pauses. “Before.”
“Yeah, before.” He toes the yellow edge and peers down. Another few minutes before the train comes. Shiro waits for Keith but takes a step closer to him. Keith molds into his side putting his head on Shiro’s shoulder. “We could go. It’s been a long ass time since I’ve gone but I could show you my favorite places and teach you some history. If you don’t know it already.” Keith smiles up at Shiro. “Nerd.”
They wait for the train in silence. Once they board, they stand at a pole facing each other. “We could start and finish in Athens. Maybe see Olympia and Delphi. I’ve never been to any of the islands. We could do that or just stick to the mainland. Depends on how much time we spend.”
“I don’t have service yet baby. We can look at flights in 2 stops when we get out. Okay?”
As soon as they walk up the stairs, Shiro whips out his phone and searches for flights. “Which airport is international?”
“JFK,” Keith responds immediately. Shiro types away as Keith leads him down the avenue.
“It’s cheaper to have a quick stopover somewhere.” Shiro looks over at Keith.
“We’re doing that ,” they say in unison
“There are options for London or Sweden. I vote London but it depends on which day we decide to leave.” Keith smirked.
“What if we left on the 4th. It would be funny to spend Independence Day in England.” Shiro laughed.
“Oh my god yes. That’s so perfect.” Shiro types away some more. “It’s $50 cheaper to have an eight-hour layover instead of an hour which is way more common.” Shiro shrugs. “Up to you babe.”
“Sure. We save more and that’s enough time to sneak out of the airport for an hour or two and then go back.” Keith puts his hands in his pockets now that the street has cleared a bit and Shiro doesn’t need a guide.
“Okay, so I saved that flight. What about coming home? How long should we stay?” Shiro turned to Keith.
“How long do you think you can take off?”
“Definitely ten to fourteen days. Anything more will be hard.” Keith nods back. Shiro looks down at his phone. “Nevermind. There’s a flight on the 16th with an hour layover in London with the same price as the eight-hour.”
“I guess it’s settled. We’re going to Greece this summer.” Keith smiles at Shiro.
“Oh my god. Do I finally get to meet ‘gay-awakening’ cousin?” Shiro clutched his phone to his chest, fluttering his eyes mockingly. Keith bumps him with his hip.
“No family visits this time.” Keith sighed. “Why did I even tell you that? Also, we’ve been over this, he’s my 2nd cousin and he didn’t cause my gay-awakening or whatever. You made me make a chart to explain it.” Shiro laughs hard enough to lose his balance and almost walk into the mountain of trash and snow lining the sidewalk.
It takes him an entire avenue block to calm down enough to speak but once he catches his breath Shiro asks, “Won’t they see the posts your mom likes on Facebook?”
“Fuck. Fine, one dinner and then back to just us.” Keith doesn’t mind seeing them. They were fun as kids but Keith is a little different since he saw them last. He never did come out to that side of the family.
“It’ll be fine babe. They’re harmless.” Shiro slipped his hand into Keith's jacket to give his hand a squeeze. Keith trusted Shiro’s judgment, even if he hadn’t met them yet.
They walked up to the building door. Shiro pockets his phone and easily opens the heavy black door. With a smirk, Keith walks in saying, “Ah thank you, beauty before age.”
Shiro follows chuckling. “Babe. That’s not how it goes. We’ve been over this .” He presses 19, the button for Matt’s apartment. They wait in a comfortable silence tucked close together in the small hallway. It’s a cold January in New York City after all. They don’t mind huddling close, parting only for the loud buzz of the door unlocking. They’re warmed by the summer sun in their imagined vacation.
“Should we tell the guys about the trip?” Shiro paused outside Matt’s door.
Keith shrugged, “Maybe once we buy the tickets. Which we should do soon for the deal. But if we don’t have that secured then why bother?” Keith knocked on the door.
Chapter 2: I Made A Route For This One Too But This Actually Includes A Lot of The Research I Did
Shiro wakes up on his birthday the way he deserves.
Keith shows him that he's bad at words but better at action, especially those he plans well in advance.
I hope everyone likes bullshit plot justification because I wanted specific things and we're going to pretend that this all makes sense even though there isn't much of a throughline from the last chapter
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Shiro woke up on February 29th the way he would always like to wake up. With the sun slowly rising, it’s light tiptoeing through the bedroom windows. Shiro awoke to his boyfriend’s hair barely peeking out from the edge of the duvet now pushed below his waist. Today is going to be a good day for Takashi Shirogane.
The day started like a lazy river. They took their time and enjoyed being in each other's presence. When the sun illuminated the room fully, they left their bed for a breakfast that was already waiting for them in the kitchen. Keith curled into himself, suddenly shy. Shiro beamed bright enough to blind because his boyfriend had thought to do all this for him. This wasn't a landmark in their lives just another birthday. But he still whipped up every dish that Shiro had ever loved to eat for breakfast. There were chocolate chip silver dollar pancakes, a cheese omelet, a veggie omelet, a fruit salad, tea, and a smoothie. The best part was that everything was a small enough portion that Shiro could eat it all himself. He almost did. He instead decided to share this feast with his king.
If Keith’s goal was to satisfy him in all possible ways then he had succeeded beyond all expectations and it was only 8 am. With breakfast devoured and their dishes in the sink, Keith pulled him silently back through the bedroom into the ensuite. Keith let his clothes fall from his frame fluidly and he stepped into the shower. Shiro followed his movements enthralled by the subtle power Keith exuded through his silent commands.
“Are you not going to say anything to me?” Keith’s soft smile twitched and he shrugged. Shiro grabbed onto his waist and brought his body flushed against his under the warm spray. “Okay. I’m sure there’s a reason why but I’ll let it go for now.”
Seemingly unplanned, they spent the majority of the shower enjoying each other's presence, getting even dirtier than they had started. They left the bathroom dry and pruning.
Keith lead them to the bed where he pushed Shiro down onto it. Shiro laughed softly, “Baby what are you doing? Just tell me it’s fine.” Keith smiled and shook his head. Shiro went to get up and grab him but Keith manhandled him back onto the bed. He held Shiro’s hands behind his back. He tsked and grabbed a tie from the floor that had been left from the night before. He tied Shiro’s hands behind his back. When he turned back to face Shiro, he looked concerned and opened his mouth to ask but Shiro stopped him with a chaste kiss. “I’m okay. Keep going.” Keith searched Shiro’s face until he was satisfied with Shiro’s conviction. He took a few steps back and then turned to walk to their joint closet. Shiro had to admit that he was very okay with this, especially because now he could just stare at Keith’s butt instead of actively getting ready. Shiro whistled an appreciative wolf-whistle which made Keith sway his hips just a bit more as he reached into the closet and bent down to pick up some things. He turned around with two outfits and a blindfold. He dressed Shiro after untying him. Keith slapped his hand away when he tried to help. Once Shiro was dressed Keith blindfolded him. “Based solely on the last time we used this, I think it might’ve been inconvenient to get me dressed in so many layers.” Keith laughed silently to himself but he didn’t reply. He got dressed silently, not giving Shiro a clue as to what exactly he put on.
Keith guided Shiro through their apartment grabbing a few things as they made their way to the front door, or that’s where he thinks Keith took him to. Keith had dressed him in a jacket and boots fit for the waning winter. So when Shiro suddenly felt his stomach drop with an elevator starting to move he knew that Keith was bringing him to the outside world. What was he planning? Shiro decided not to ask. Instead, he decided to wax poetic about Keith.
“You know, I’m really glad you’re in my life. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t met you. You brighten my life in a way I never would’ve expected and let me receive this much from anyone after everything I’ve gone through.” They stepped out of the elevator and Keith continued to lead him out into the cold. “I didn’t think I deserved any form of kindness or compassion. But you just sauntered into my life and threw my universe out of orbit. You shifted everything. I was pulled to your gravity. From your hair, dark enough like the night sky and your eyes like the stormy seas or the nebulas out there. I was lost in you. But you didn’t let me lose myself. You let me grow.” Keith stopped walking. He opened a door and helped Shiro to sit in the car. He shut the door. “and now you’ve put me in a random car like you’re arresting me. You ducked my head and everything. I was saying nice things and you arrested me. You’re not even in the car yet. What are you doing?” Shiro turned his head in every direction trying to get a sense of where he was. He sniffed. “Ocean Breeze?” He instantly grabbed the joystick and confirmed his suspicions when he was met with faux fur. “Why are we in Lance’s Prius? Where are you bringing me that we need to drive?” He paused and was met with silence. “How did you even get him to agree to let you drive his baby?” Shiro knew that Keith still wasn’t in the car but he has no idea what is happening and he’s allowed to wonder aloud.
When Keith finally got in the car he put Shiro’s seatbelt on. He had forgotten about it. Keith started the car and pulled out from the parking spot. While driving he somehow managed to connect his phone or something to the radio because instantly they were surrounded by The Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’.
“Baby.” Shiro croaked. “It’s the song that was playing when you shared your headphones with me the first time we ever hung out. Remember how stressed out we were because of Professor’s Slav’s midterm. The syllabus was a mess and you handled it like a champ but I could never understand anything he ever tried to teach so you offered to study with me.” Keith didn’t reply but he hummed along to the song. Shiro reached out blindly, aiming for Keith’s thigh but instead hitting his arm. Keith giggled and move Shiro’s hand to his thigh.
As Lou Reed faded out he was replaced by Hozier’s ‘Cherry Wine’. Shiro had an idea as to where this playlist was going. “Babe these aren’t happy songs. But you chose them because of everything they mean to us.” Keith’s hand squeezed Shiro’s on his thigh before returning to the wheel. “After our first date we just explored the trains and we stopped at one station to listen to this girl sing a few Hozier covers and you kissed me during this one and then sprinted away from me to catch the train that had just got to the platform. You ran away from me a lot in the beginning.” Keith grabbed Shiro’s hand and pivoted to his wrist so he could kiss his knuckles. A repeated apology. Keith had made Shiro work for his affection.
“You made me a mixtape didn’t you, you big sap.” Shiro mused. There wasn’t a response. But Shiro didn’t expect one. He didn’t need one. He was a patient man and could trust his partner to speak when he was ready. A verbal birthday wish, all Shiro actually wanted today, could wait.
Their drive was filled with a variety of genres all compiled into a roadmap of their relationship. There was the song they replayed over and over again while they moved into their first place together, an Abba song Shiro used their first Valentines as a couple as a clue on the scavenger hunt, or a song from the first show they saw together. Shiro didn’t have to remind Keith of each story but he liked saying what he remembered and what stuck with him based on the memories attached to the music through the drive.
Shiro had lost all concept of time. He knew they hadn’t been driving all day but he couldn’t tell you how long they spent together in their little bubble on the way to Keith’s chosen destination. Shiro didn’t even know if they were still in New York.
When Keith did pull over it was to the displeasure of several drivers. They were still in the city. Keith pulled Shiro from the curve to the sidewalk. He brought himself as close as possible to Shiro and embraced him tightly. Shiro reveled in the effect he must’ve had on Keith. He had felt the same way in the car as he heard just how meticulously Keith cared for their relationship. Shiro wasn’t sure but it’s possible that Keith whispered a “Thank you.” into the junction of Shiro’s neck and shoulder where he had buried his head. Keith pulled away after some time and led Shiro, who was still blindfolded and who had accepted his fate a long time ago, to what felt like a park. There was the sound of children in the distance and wind rustling through barren trees. Keith let go of Shiro’s hand and removed the blindfold.
Shiro blinked his tired eyes after so long in the dark, only to be met with small hills and stone ruins. If Shiro didn’t know any better he would’ve thought that Keith had driven him across the Atlantic to the rolling hills of Ireland. But he could still hear the bustle of the city and he turned to his right and could roughly make out what might be the Statue of Liberty. Before Shiro could ask, Keith spoke up.
“Welcome to the Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park.” Keith faced Shiro and grabbed his hand again. “We came here one day after a midterm junior year because it was the one major park in the city that neither of us had been to. A few blocks north of us, we had our first kiss.” Shiro’s eyes watered for the second time that day. Before Keith continued, Shiro pulled him close and kissed his forehead. “I know you were going to tell me something that day and I stopped you before you could. I know it’s been years and that you’ve respected me and my desire to not talk about it.” Shiro held his breath. “Thank you.” Shiro exhaled. He could still wait for it. He would wait as long as it took. He would go through as many painful misfires as it took for Keith to be comfortable to express his feelings. “Happy Birthday Shiro.”
“Thank you Keith.”
“So before we go do you want to walk around a bit, I’ve never been to this part and I brought snacks.” Keith brought his backpack between them and took out some potato chips. Shiro laughed so hard his core shook and he placed his hands on Keith’s shoulders to balance himself.
“Babe, this is an Irish Hunger memorial and you bring potato chips. You know why they were hungry right? The potato famine1 Do you understand how bad that is?” Keith blanched but opened the bag anyway.
“We can’t be kicked out of the park right?” Keith begins to eat the chips and motioned for Shiro to do the same. Instead, Shiro shoved his hand into the pack for the fruit he knew Keith would pack as well. Before Shiro could find it Keith stuffed the chips back in and pulled Shiro’s arm out. He wrapped the blindfold back over Shiro’s eyes.
“Is this necessary? I know where I am and I know you drove in Lance’s car.” Shiro said. “Are you going to take me somewhere else? We just got here.”
“Come on big guy. It’ll make sense in a little bit.” Keith grabbed onto Shiro’s forearm and pulled him straight to the curb. He helped Shiro into the car. Once he was seated Shiro realized that this wasn’t where Keith parked the car earlier. Something beyond their own little world was happening and maybe he wasn’t going to ask Keith. Maybe, just this once, he’d let it play out and let Keith do what he had meticulously planned.
Keith drove them north. For the first time today, Shiro knew which way they were going and it definitely helped him surrender control to Keith. Keith opened the windows of the car to let the fresh, albeit cold air in. Shiro realized that they were sticking to the west side of the island based on the sound of the water, the speed of the car on the parkway, and a gut feeling. The car ride was silent up the parkway. Shiro questioned the absence of the playlist but he let be. Once again trusting Keith’s plan.
After what could’ve been 20 minutes or an hour, they returned to the busier streets of Manhattan. Again Keith silently parked and exited the car, moving to Shiro’s side to help him out. As they walked away, Shiro finally heard it. The sound of the Prius’ doors opening and closing, the engine starting, and the car pulling away silently. The pair walked up the street and the sound of children became clearer. Keith led Shiro to stand in the center of the noise. He pulled off the blindfold, leaving Shiro to be only slightly surprised at their location.
“C’mon you big nerd. I don’t want to miss our reservation.” Keith grabbed Shiro’s hands and led him up the stairs and threw the doors. Shiro was awestruck. They rarely got the chance to visit the variety of museums in their city. This really was a treat for them both.
“What do you have reservations for?” Shiro held his breath. There was one exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History that Shiro loved above all else, except Keith of course, but don’t tell him.
“Don’t worry. You’ll see.” Keith’s resolve appeared to be intact and maybe Shiro should trust- “Okay no pouting please it’s your birthday do you really think I would take you to your favorite museum and not take you to the Hayden Planetarium.” Shiro looked away sheepish and just kept walking. They enter the museum with little fanfare and continued on. Shiro tried not to stop and look at all the exhibits on the way but it was hard. There was a whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, how could he not stop and stare? Eventually, they made it to the planetarium entrance. Keith pulled out their tickets and ushered Shiro into the dark space. It was mostly empty but Keith still led Shiro to the center. It’s Shiro’s favorite spot even if he can’t see everything and it gives him a little bit of motion sickness. They recline in their seats and the show starts not long after.
“Ladies and gentlemen. We ask that you silence all holophones, wearable technology, and anything else that may disturb the other stargazers today.” The overhead announcement was clear and grounded Shiro. He felt the tension in Keith now that they were seated. He always enjoyed seeing this space show with Shiro before. Shiro couldn’t put a finger on what it was that had Keith rigid next to him. He reached over and grabbed his hand hoping to settle him. Keith inhaled and exhaled deeply as the presenter began their introduction.
“With a moon-forming impact, the Earth is in its current form. It’s molten and not habitable for anything but soon it’ll cool.” The presenter motioned at the visuals above them. Keith pulled his hand from Shiro’s grasp and stuffed them into the pockets of his coat. Shiro glanced at him.
“Shiro. I know how much you love the stars,” Keith whispered. He closed his eyes but didn’t face away from the swirling star maps above them. “I know,” he sighs. “because you look at me like I’ve hung them.” Shiro kept glancing back and forth between the stars and Keith. “I don’t always think that I deserve it. But you help me see it.”
“Keith,” Shiro starts. His mind is reeling with the thought of where this could go.
“Let me finish before I lose my nerve.” Shiro wants to stop Keith from continuing in the direction he thinks this is going. Shiro can’t bring himself to. If Keith wants to end the best thing that’s happened to them, then Shiro will let him. Only the obvious preparation and thought in doing this fuels his doubt. A tear slips from Keith’s eyes and Shiro stares. “There’s more that I planned on saying but I can’t. I’m not good at words but I hope you’ll do me the honor of letting struggle at your side for as long as you’ll let me.” Keith opens his eyes, glances at Shiro and pulls his hand from his pocket dropping a box into Shiro’s lap. Shiro went from staring mouth agape at Keith to staring dumbfounded at his lap.
No. It can’t be. Can it?
Shiro reaches for the box. It’s black velvet, the touch familiar and alien at the same time. In his reclined seat, he puts the box in front of him, with the stars as the background. He opens it. A supernova happens in front of him, but Shiro shakily pulls out the ring from the box. Before his mind even registered what was happening, he slipped the ring onto his finger. It fit perfectly.
There are tears streaming down both their faces. When their friends ask, however, they won’t admit it. Even if they all waited outside the planetarium exit to see them immediately after and saw their red-rimmed, puffy eyes.
I feel like I write things that only make sense if I read them aloud.