"Hey...Let's go on a date."
Keith tilted his head over the back of the couch to look at his boyfriend, who was leaning over him. He raised an eyebrow at him.
"I'm serious. We've never had a proper date. Let's go on one."
"Lance, we're in the middle of space. Where would we even go?"
Lance just gave him one of those signature lopsided smiles of his.
"You forget that I am a hopeless romantic, and I can and will find a way to romance your socks off."
"Hmmm..." Keith hummed, pretending to mull it over. "Dunno. You sure you can do that? What if I don't wear socks?"
"Romance your pants off then."
"Ooh, someone's eager."
"This is me holding myself back."
"I didn't think you were capable of holding yourself back."
"I could say the same to you..."
Throughout their bantering, Lance had slowly leaned further and further down, until they were just an inch or so apart. Keith reached up, running his fingers lightly over Lance's cheeks and then into his hair, pulling him closer to close the distance. Lance hummed pleasantly into the kiss. It was slow and mild, done for emotion rather than pleasure. Though it was definitely pleasing.
"A spiderman kiss," Lance said as he pulled away. "That's gotta be a yes."
"That's a 'when and where?'"
"Soon. Tonight. Uppermost observation deck."
"We have an observation deck?"
Lance rolled his eyes at that.
"We have several observation decks, but this one is on the tippy top. Or side? Of the ship? The position depends on if we're flying or grounded." Lance raised an eyebrow at Keith. "Y'know, the ship doesn't only consist of your room, the training deck, and the dining area."
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were giving me snark while asking me on a date."
"Why I'd never," Lance smirked. "So, I'll meet you outside your room in...an hour?"
"Just what will you be getting up to in that hour?"
"Operation Romance My Boyfriend's Socks and/or Pants Off."
"I thought this was a date, not an Operation."
"It's both," Lance smirked, then pecked Keith on the lips one last time before pulling away. "I'll see you soon."
Keith just raised an eyebrow at him.
"I haven't said yes yet."
Lance balked, giving the perfectly dramatic reaction that Keith was going for.
"But...babe...!" Lance whined, flopping himself over the back of the couch and pouting at Keith. Keith sputtered, and then burst into laughter. A rare sound usually, but it could be heard a bit more frequently with Lance around. He leaned sideways and pressed a small kiss to Lance's cheek.
"I'm joking, of course I'd say yes."
"Pfffft, I knew that."
"Suuuure...go on, do whatever it is you're going to do."
Lance hopped up with a smile and walked backwards towards the door. He winked at Keith and gave him the best finger guns in his arsenal.
"Just you wait, babe. You may even wanna wear two pairs of socks, the romance will be so strong."
And with that Lance was out the door, and running down the hall to wreak who knows what kind of havoc.
Keith whipped his head around to see Pidge standing in another doorway on the other side of the room, a steaming mug in their hand - Keith would bet his favorite hair tie it was that new drink Hunk had concocted that had a similar effect to coffee but tasted like vanilla milk - and a disgruntled but smug look on their face. Their hair was a mess and they had on a shirt and pajama pants, so Keith assumed they just woke up from one of their power naps and were heading to find their laptop...which was on the couch next to Keith.
"Didn't know you two were still that lovey dovey," they said.
"Yeah, lovey dovey. Googley eyed. I blinked and suddenly there was a backdrop of flowers and sparkles."
"Uh...how much of that did you see...?"
"Enough to get a cavity."
"...Oh," Keith said simply. He got up mechanically from the couch and started walking out. "Right, well uh, later then."
"Later. And hey, use protection. Wear socks."
Keith almost stubbed his toe when he whirled around, the blush he'd been trying so hard to keep away spreading across his face.
"Yeah. You know. From the cold. Protect your feet," they said. Keith usually couldn't tell if people were joking or not, or if they were trying to clue him in on something. But there was something about the way Pidge quirked an eyebrow at him and then sipped their fake space coffee that made his blush raise to a whole other level as he fled the scene.
-- V --
And so, an hour passed. Keith had spent half an hour training, then the rest of his time cooling down and showering. He threw on a black t-shirt, and decided that Lance could deal with it if he wore his sweatpants instead of his jeans to their first date. He moved to put on his shoes and socks, but opted for slippers instead. If he was going casual, might as well go all out. He thought about what Pidge said earlier, blushed, and decided to keep his socks on under his slippers. Then he debated on whether to wear his gloves or not. He liked the feeling of the fabric on his palms, but he also really liked the feeling of holding Lance's hand without the gloves on.
No gloves then.
Just as he tossed his gloves back into the drawer, he heard someone knocking.
"Ready to be romanced?" he heard Lance ask through the metal.
He walked to the door, pressed his palm to the panel on the wall, and it slid open. Lance had forsaken his jacket and his jeans, just like Keith had. He had on a tank top and pajama pants, and those ridiculous blue lion slippers. Good to know that Keith had apparently dressed appropriately for whatever Lance had planned.
"Ready as I'll ever be," he said, stepping out and lacing his fingers with Lance's. "Lead the way."
Lance lead him through the halls, only dimly lit now. Pidge and Allura had worked out a sort of timezone for the Castleship, making sure the lights dimmed and brightened to simulate night and day. How else were they supposed to have any semblance of a regular sleep schedule? The soft strips of light lining the corridors were just bright enough to see Lance ahead of him, one hand on the wall one hand in his, guiding him forward. They came to a stop in front of the doors of a lift. Lance put his palm on a panel next to the door and they slid open. The inside was nicely lit. Something Keith was thankful for. He wasn't very fond of closed-in dark spaces. Lance smiled at him and tugged him inside. The lift started moving slowly upwards.
"I remember, back in the academy," Lance spoke, his whisper sounding loud in the small quiet space. "You'd always get in trouble with Iverson for being out past curfew. He'd find you sneaking out at night, with a pillow and blanket. He never knew where you were headed...but I saw you, one night."
"Y...You did?" Keith said, feeling heat rise to his face.
"Yeah. I was sneaking out myself actually. Planning to go have fun with some people in town. Then I saw you and, uh, ended up following you-"
"You stalked me through the halls at night when I was alone?" Keith said, deadpan.
"-Out of curiosity! And I wasn't stalking I was...ah...Okay that does sound like stalking but that was years ago, and I was a stupid eighteen year old, and it was only that one time! I promise."
"You're only off the hook cause I want to see where you're going with this."
"Whew, okay, well I saw you open up the door to the roof staircase with just a bobby pin. Then you dragged your pillow and blanket up the stairs and you were gone. I didn't think much of it til I remembered it recently...I think I already know, but what were you doing up there?"
Keith was definitely blushing by this point. He fidgeted with his fingers tapping them together, picking at stray fibers from his sweatpants, not looking at Lance.
"I was stargazing. I was going through a lot back then. I've told you some of it already. And I just...needed space. And not to feel alone. And I guess the stars made good company, is all. They're quiet. Don't judge. Just kinda there, all twinkling and sparkling."
Lance smiled softly at him. It was that rare, extremely gentle, and quiet smile. One that he only ever gave in private. Whenever he saw it, Keith felt a bit softer, too.
"Yeah," Lance said, just as the lift finally stopped and the doors slid open. "I figured as much."
Keith turned away from Lance to look at the deck they'd arrived on, and gasped.
It's like they'd stepped into the middle of a galaxy. Everywhere he looked, there were stars. It took him a second to realize they were in some kind of glass dome. Now, by this point, Keith was used to stars, sure. But this? It was so personal. He stepped forward, in a trance, and his feet squished into the floor. He looked down, and realized there were blankets and pillows strewn everywhere throughout the small deck, though it was more the size of a room than a deck. But even though it was dark and small, he didn't feel claustrophobic. It felt so open, thanks to the stars.
Keith spun around, and found himself nose to nose with Lance, who had stepped out of the lift.
"You did this, for me?" Keith whispered, leaning his head on the crook of Lance's neck.
"Y...Yeah. I figured, with everything being so weird out here, you'd like something that felt familiar."
Normally, Keith would've said he was fine. That he didn't need something like this, even if he appreciated it. He didn't get homesick like Lance did. He never really felt at home back on Earth, anyways. After his mother had passed away, he'd always been alone. Bounced from foster family to foster family. He got into the Garrison due to his skills and was immediately put on a pedestal. Then he'd been kicked out, and had nowhere left to go. That shack? That run down thing, in the middle of nowhere? Where he had nothing but himself? No expectations placed upon him? No weight on his shoulders? Only that distant energy, pulling him in, and the sound of sand being blown by the wind, and a blurry photograph of a smiling woman holding a baby pinned to the wall next to his bed. Lance didn't know this, but if there was anywhere he considered home, it was there.
And he remembered the nights where he may have felt just a bit lonely, and climbed onto the roof. There were no lights out in the desert. Only the stars. Only those distant pinpoints of light, keeping him quiet but constant company. It wasn't the garrison rooftop that this place reminded him of. It was there. Of the home he'd made for himself before he'd been whisked away.
Maybe he was a little homesick after all.
"Anytime, mi corazon. C'mon," Lance said, tugging Keith forward and sitting them down in the middle of the room.
From there everything flowed together. They talked about the trouble they both used to get into. Keith for being rebellious and not doing what he was told. Lance for trying too hard and crashing five simulations in a row. They talked about constellations, and Lance decided to start making up new ones. None of them made any sense, but they made Keith laugh. Lance taught his some random phrases in Spanish. Keith was suspicious that some of them were just puns and Lance wasn't telling him.
Lance talked a bit about his family, which Keith was more than happy to listen to. He never really knew what a family was like. Lance's family sounded both wonderful and intimidating. He knew Lance avoided talking about the tougher things. His father, gone before he was ten. His mother struggling to put them all in school and keep a roof over their heads. How he'd missed two of his little sisters' quinceñeras. His little brother's first year in high school. His older brother's wife had been pregnant when he'd left. The oceans and clouds and grass that he loved and missed so much. Being so far away from them all. Wondering if they knew he was even alive. No, Lance didn't talk about that. Only the the happy parts. Keith listened, knowing it helped Lance to talk about them.
Then there was silence for a while, and suddenly the stars were blocked off as Lance rolled on top of him, hands on either side of Keith's head, legs tangling together.
"You're blocking the view."
"I am the view," Lance said, wiggling his eyebrows.
"We're supposed to be having a stargazing date."
"I'm looking at a star right now."
Shit. Keith was pretty sure he hadn't blushed this much this quickly in a long while. He didn't know how Lance did it. The lines he always spewed out were so cheesy and over the top, and yet they still always managed to make him flustered. Forgetting it was to dark for Lance to see him blushing anyways, he looked away in embarrassment. That was a mistake, since it gave Lance direct access to his jaw and neck. Lance leaned down, trailing gentle kisses over Keith's skin. Keith shivered and sighed, tilting his head back. Lance whispered small phrases in Spanish between every kiss or two.
"Wha...What are you saying...?" Keith asked breathlessly as Lance started carding fingers through his hair.
"Hmm?" Lance hummed deeply, hovering near Keith's ear, then pressing his open, lips to the sensitive area where his jaw met his neck, letting his teeth lightly graze over the skin.
Keith struggled to keep his train of thought.
"You...you always give me little nicknames, but you've never told me...what those words mean..."
It was Keith's turn to run his hands through Lance's hair, gently tugging upwards to guide Lance so that they were face to face.
"I want to know. I want to understand what you're saying to me, when we're...like this."
If Keith had x-ray vision, he was sure he'd be seeing Lance's bones turn to putty. His expression turned a bit goofy as he gave his biggest smile of the night.
"Yeah...okay...that's fair," he said, sounding a bit nervous as he looked into Keith's eyes, getting pulled into them like they had their own gravity. He leaned down, pressing a kiss to Keith's forehead. "Mi cielo is my sky." A kiss to his right cheek. "Mi lucero...my star."
Lance pulled back, looking into Keith's eyes again.
"Eres mío..." he said, voice low, leaning so close their lips brushed as he spoke. "You're mine."
Keith sighed again as he wrapped his arms around Lance's neck and leaned up to kiss him. It wasn't the most passionate kiss they'd ever had. It was languid, and drawn out. Each moment flooded with unspoken emotion. They pulled apart slowly, eyes fluttering open to gaze into each other. Keith could see Lance haloed by stars. Lance saw the universe reflected in Keith's eyes.
"And you?" Lance asked, sounding a bit dazed.
"Just wondering," Lance shrugged. "Got any Korean you can whisper mysteriously in my ears?"
Keith wanted to say he did. Not for the first time, he wished he'd made more of an effort to keep in touch with his mother's culture. His culture. Because it was his, however distant it felt sometimes. But he didn't know Korean. Only bits and pieces. Small words and phrases, mostly practical, nothing lovey-dovey for sure. He bit his lip. Started fidgeting his fingers in Lance's hair.
"I don't...I don't know any. Aside from some greetings, I don't really know Korean."
Lance's expression quickly sharpened, and he internally berated himself for not thinking on things a bit more before he spoke.
"Hey," he said, running a hand slowly through Keith's hair. "Forget I said anything, alright? It's fine. I can be cheesy enough for the both of us-"
"Shh," Keith said suddenly, pressing a finger to Lance's lips. "Wait...wait I...think I do remember something."
Keith stared off to the side, looking over the lumps of pillows and blankets and out into space, the stars blurring together. He felt like he was grasping at the ghosts of a memory. A woman...his mother. Wrapping her arms around him. He could barely remember her voice. Or her eyes. But he remembered her smile. The way her hair tickled his nose when she carried him. He remembered what she said to him...he looked back at Lance, eyes wide, wanting to tell him the one word he now remembered before he could forget.
"What does that mean?"
"I love you."
The words hung in the air, seeming to float upwards, finding their way towards Lance. And when they hit him - and God, did they hit him - he felt like they knocked the air out of him. And Keith knew that even though it was the first time he'd said them to Lance, knew that he'd said it as a translation, he'd found truth in his words. He'd poured his heart into them. He wondered if Lance knew that. He hoped he did. He didn't have to hold out hope for long. All at once Lance seemed to catch his breath and then he was kissing Keith, and Keith was kissing him back and this...this was their most passionate kiss. He'd poured his heart into what he'd said to Lance and he could feel the other pouring his into him with every touch. Every kiss. He could hear Lance whispering something every time they parted for breath. He finally caught what he was saying.
"Te amo. Te amo. Te amo."
"What...?" Keith asked breathlessly.
Lance kissed him again before he could get the rest of his question out.
"It means," Lance said as he pulled away, resting their foreheads against each other. "I love you, too. Duh."
And it was there - in the vastness of space, with nothing but the stars and each other for company, with Lance far from his family and the ocean and Keith far from his shack with the blurry picture - that they both realized they'd found a new home in each other. They'd found a home in each other's eyes. Each other's arms. Each other's smiles and laughter. In their time spent together on this little observation deck. And in whispered translations.