Quiet footsteps approached him, but Lance didn’t have to look up to know who it was. Keith Kogane has always been a stealthy man; a habit gained from foster homes and a habit that helped in their time in an intergalactic space war. A habit that Lance grew accustomed to as time passed, which is why he couldn’t be surprised when he heard Keith speak.
“Hey, mind if I steal you for a bit?”
A knowing smile stretched Lance’s lips. He didn’t look up from the juniberry seeds placed in the soil but he knew Keith had an amused glint in his eyes and a playful smirk; he could practically hear it.
“Sure. Take me away, Romeo,” Lance teased. He finally looked up at Keith. The sight of him felt like a cool drink under the scorching summer sun, the cool waters of the ocean that drowned his ankles, but it also ignited a fire in him, left his adrenaline pumping and rushing in his veins, made him feel like he could do anything with Keith by his side. So refreshing, yet so dangerous. He drank it all up, becoming hyperaware of the way his heart hammered in his ribs.
“You’re never going to live that down.” Keith’s playful smirk fell into a small pout.
“Nope, it’s excellent blackmail material, Kogane,” Lance snickered. He felt his smile grow bigger. “Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little Romeo and Juliet. It’s not like you have it memorized.”
Silence engulfed them for a minute.
Lance’s eyes widened.
“Oh my god!” Lance chortled, almost falling back into the soil as he laughed noisily. Through his narrowed vision, he saw Keith’s scrunched up nose. He almost cooed at the sight of it.
“You are so adorable, dude,” Lance blurted. His smile turned fond as he settled down from his laughter. Keith returned his fond smile and shook his head slightly.
“When did you get back?” Lance asked. Keith paused as if he hadn’t been expecting the question. “I got back last night and then crashed in bed as soon as I came home,” Keith said. “Then I came here to see you.”
“Aww, dude, you visited me first?” Lance cooed. “What, did you miss me or something?” Lance hoped the answer would be ‘yes.’
“It’s hard not to,” Keith snorted. “It’s been months but I’m not exactly used to fighting without you.”
Lance’s heart drummed in his ears.
“That’s why I’m here, actually,” Keith spoke. Lance tilted his head at Keith, feigning confusion even though he knew exactly what that meant. Keith wanted him back.
“Can we talk somewhere?” Keith asked, after a few moments of silence. Lance watched as Keith grew nervous with every passing second. “Sure. Let’s meet up at the usual.”
The ‘usual’ was the shack at the beach. Lance considered it as his home away from home when things got a little too overwhelming with all the juniberries scattered in the garden. He visited it whenever he got sick of seeing the same pink flowers everywhere, reminding him of someone who had a fierce, loving heart; someone who led her people bravely; someone who everyone trusted; someone who went through so much but grew stronger with it.
Allura, his mind supplied.
Lance felt the soft soil slip past his fingers; he recognized the earthy smell of the ground below and the sweet scent of the juniberries that carried in the breeze. He felt a presence beside him, calm and confident, grounding and unwavering. He snapped out of his trance and turned to look at Keith.
Beautiful indigo eyes stared at him with worry, so he shook his head and watched as the emotion change into relief. He thought back to how the same pair of indigo eyes held a gaze so strong like it held a fire, a look of a fighter, a burning passion deep in Keith’s soul. It was captivating and Lance let himself get caught in it every single time.
“I’m okay,” said Lance. He gave Keith his most reassuring smile and relished in the warmth of his eyes.
Keith eyed him warily, his gaze searching, looking for signs of Lance’s dishonesty.
“Dude, I swear I’m fine.” Lance rolled his eyes, “now, help me up.” He stretched his hands out too Keith, who crinkled his nose at the sight of Lance’s dirtied hands, but still pulling him up nonetheless. When he was standing on his legs, he turned around and stared out into the garden. This is not where I want to be.
So, he turned back again and faced Keith. He flashed him a smile before he started walking past him. The hair on the back of his neck stood as he felt Keith’s eyes burn into his back. He raised a fist and yelled out,
“Let’s hit the road, Kogane!”
Lance placed a mug of coffee on the table in front of him. To his left, Keith was fiddling nervously with his thumbs. His face scrunched up in that ‘I’m-thinking-too-hard’ face. Lance had different names for Keith’s expressions; this one, however, is something he’s been seeing far more than his favorite one.
“Alright, space boy, spill.”
Keith inhaled sharply.
“Come back to space with me.”
That was not what Lance was expecting.
“Look-- I know, you’ve been doing better than okay here. But you-- you… you can do so much more than plant juniberries, which is completely okay. Don’t get me wrong, but I believe you can be so much more than just… just a farmer, Lance,” Keith rambled. “It just… it just sucks being without you, out there. You helped me with leading Voltron-- you’ve been helping me before that, too. You made sure I never jumped into dangerous situations that might get me killed. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re my stability.”
Lance’s breath caught in his throat. He wanted nothing more than to kiss Keith into silence, all the while letting it tell Keith all that he wanted to say.
“I guess, I just miss you. But Lance, you’re meant for so much more than farming. We want you back out there, I want you back out there.”
When Keith finally looked at Lance, he saw the swarming emotions held in his eyes. Desperation, hope, worry, uncertainty, regret, caring, fond, kind, warmth-- home.
“Since when did you pet all poetic, Kogane?” Lance teased, attempting to lighten the mood. Keith’s eyes brightened then he laughed. “God, you’re the worst.”
“Yeah, I’ll… I’ll go with you,” Lance said. “It sounds stupid but I guess I was… I was just scared. To leave this behind, because maybe Allura or Coran might hate me for it but then I realized that, this isn’t what I should be doing.”
Keith smiled at him, happy and relieved. Lance tucked it away into memory.
“Allura was… someone I thought I loved but I realized that maybe I might have mistaken my feelings for her as love. I just… admired her, and her passion and her fiery. She’s my friend, she helped me find a family while we were out there kicking ass in space. She told me that I have greatness within, and I know that if she saw me now, she’d pull me by my collar and tell me ‘Lance, what do you think you’re doing? Go out there and ask Keith to give you a Marmora suit right now. You will go out there and go on missions with him. Don’t you dare waste your greatness on planting juniberries for the rest of your life,’ or something like that.” Lance smiled sheepishly.
“And she would do it again,” Keith commented. An amused glint shone in his eyes.
“Damn right.” They both laughed.
When Lance looked at the stars that night, he heard it call out to him. Lance, Lance, Lance, they said. Like how his mother had done when he shut himself in his closet during thunderstorms. Coaxing, gentle, calming.
He basked in the moonlight that spilled from his windows, letting the presence of it loom above him.
“Oh!” Ezor exclaimed. “Guys, Keith finally grew some balls!”
In mere seconds, he was surrounded by three Galra women who loomed over him. It should be intimidating really, but Keith must’ve rubbed off on them. They were more welcoming, soft, friendly--a lot nicer than when he met them last time.
“Pay up, Zeth,” Ezor singsonged. She stretched her hand out and held her palm open. Zethrid grumbled and pulled out money from her pockets, handing them to Ezor who cheered. “That’s what happens when you don’t listen to me,” Ezor teased.
Zethrid scoffed and rolled her eyes fondly. “I see that Keith brought his friend,” She said. She eyed him scrutinizingly before letting her lips stretch into a warm smile. “Welcome aboard, Lance.”
Acxa smiled at him and extended her hand. “Nice to see you on board, McClain.”
“Don’t wear it out. You’ll be taking that name soon,” Lance smirked and shook her hand before pulling her into a hug. “Thanks for making Vero happy,” he whispered. She only nodded before pulling away.
Lance watched as Ezor approached him with a glint in her eye. “Ah, the famous Lance. I get why Keith likes you so much now,” she said. Her tone was light and teasing. “Welcome aboard. Tell me about your Earth customs when we have the time, would you?”
Lance’s smile widened.
“Oh! Wait until you listen to my love and light, Shakira,” Lance returned. Ezor patted his shoulder before glancing a look past him. “Mr. Leader over there looks very impatient. It’s time you go to him,” she said lowly. “Wouldn’t want to keep him waiting now.”
Lance felt himself flush a little at the suggestive tone. He was shoved lightly into Keith, who caught him with open arms. He was met by indigo eyes boring into him.
Keith snapped his head towards their direction, breaking their eye contact. “What was that for?” Keith asked. Acxa smirked and crossed her arms. “We’ll give you two a minute,” she said before heading off into deeper parts of the ship with Zethrid and Ezor in tow.
Keith pushed Lance upright before he tugged him towards the bridge.
There were two seats placed in the center with their own dashboards and controls in front of them. In front of them, there were three seats spread out, sporting the same dashboard and set of controls. Off to the corners of the room were tables of snacks and bottles of water and other refreshments.
Lance kept his gaze trained on the pilot seats.
“So, who co-pilots?” He asked as he padded towards them. He dragged a hand across the cool leather and traced the small designs on it with his finger. He made out the initials ‘L.M.’ on the left one, realization dawned on him.
He turned around so fast he could’ve gotten a whiplash. He stared at Keith, wide-eyed and awed.
“I meant to ask you when the ship was built, but I thought I’d give you some time to yourself. I know how much you missed Earth and your family, so I didn’t ask you at the time. But I kept forgetting to ask you and whenever I looked at your chair, I’d regret it a little bit,” Keith explains. His smile shy and his eyes avoided Lance’s gaze.
“Aww, Keith,” Lance cooed. He traced his finger over the initials over and over again until it was committed to his memory. The blue patch on the chair had a small lion head on it, as well as small ocean waves doodled on it. It was personalized. He knew Keith drew the waves. He always had a knack for art, he caught Keith drawing the lions back then.
It was his, waves and all. It felt so unreal, but seeing his initials on it made it easier to remind himself that it was real.
“You’re the best, Keith,” Lance said.
Keith smiled at him. Lance’s heart picked up in his chest.
Earth was shrinking the more they inched into space. The stars that surrounded him made him feel a strong gush of emotions. For a few moments, he went back to when the blue lion had chosen him as her paladin and led them to space. The day he became the person he always wanted to be, the day he felt like he was on top of the world (literally and figuratively), the day when he realized that this is where he always wanted to go to. The stars gave him more comfort than he realized. It felt right.
It still does.
The stars that scattered in the vacuum of space was something that he knew he would never forget. The same stars that called out to him, that told him to come home, that told him he belonged. The same stars that twinkled brighter the more he stared at them like it was celebrating, rejoicing that he was finally here.
“It’s good to be back,” he muttered. Keith lightly nudged his shoulder and offered him a genuine smile when he turned to look at him. Lance returned it before hesitantly slipping his fingers into Keith’s. The other froze before intertwining their fingers together and squeezing. Grounding, unwavering, confident, warm, kind.
He’s here. Holy shit, he’s here. I’m in space again. I’m home.
Lance gave his heart out to the stars, and they cradled it.