Lance wakes to find Keith lying sprawled across his chest in a state of sleepy dishevelment, one leg slung carelessly across his waist, the other tangled with one of Lance’s own, hair mussed, face flushed, and Lance allows himself a crazy, crazy thought.
I could get used to this, he thinks, watching as Keith shifts in his sleep, a soft groan slipping past his lips as he tightens his hold on Lance’s body, nuzzling his head against chest like some sort of oversized cat. I could really get used to this, Lance thinks again before his heart skips a beat and he realises his mistake.
Because this - waking up to find Keith snoring gently against his chest, their legs tangled with another, warm skin pressed against ever warmer skin - this is not something Lance is allowed to get used to.
Whatever this thing is they have, it starts, like most things seem to do for people their age, at a party. And it’s Shiro’s fault really - in a weird, roundabout kind of way - because it’s Shiro who first introduces them.
It’s Shiro who plucks Lance out of the crowd (and away from his totally riveting and not at all one-sided, conversation with Allura) and tugs him across the room to meet his ‘good friend and flatmate who doesn’t really get out much’ in the hopes that maybe they’ll befriend each other and bond so Shiro can stop worrying about him.
It’s Shiro who practically shoves them into a tight corner together, mumbling something about their mutual interest in flying and ‘have fun’ before he ducks back into the crowd, making a not-so-subtle beeline for Allura.
So really, it’s all Shiro’s fault when their polite conversation (‘so what’s your favourite model? I’m pretty fond of the VR-T0N series’ ‘nah, bro, it’s all about the PLD-1N fighter series’) reaches a natural lull and switches into something a little more ‘do you, maybe, wanna get out of here?’ and ‘god, please’ instead.
It’s all Shiro’s fault when Lance finds himself tripping over his feet as he tugs this stranger - this beautiful, beautiful stranger, with sharp eyes and a quick tongue that promises a world of fun - towards his own apartment just a few floors below.
It’s all Shiro’s fault when Lance closes the door behind them and immediately finds himself pressed up against it, biting back a groan of pleasure while this stranger presses a trail of scorching kisses down his neck.
It’s all Shiro’s fault when Lance pushes him further into his blissfully empty apartment, stumbling past piles of textbooks and dirty laundry until the backs of his knees hit the edge of his bed, and they can flop down onto it, arms reaching around each other, tearing off shirts and sliding off trousers before their heads even touch the pillows.
It’s all Shiro’s fault when they wake up the next morning - stark naked with their muscles aching in that good kind of way - and decide, after a few minutes of awkwardly avoiding eye contact while they fish around blindly on the floor for their respective boxer shorts, that this might be something they’d like to try doing again.
(And again, and again, and aga—)
One hundred per cent, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt, all Shiro’s fault.
The thing is, Lance is a panicker and, when he panics, he makes bad decisions. Terrible decisions actually.
Decisions like gluing several hundred mentos’ to his body before jumping into a bathtub filled with coke because he absolutely refuses to lose another bet with Pidge. Decisions like trying to flirt his way out of a ticket when he gets pulled over for a broken taillight. Decisions like - upon waking up to find Keith still in his bed, resting gently against his chest like he belongs there, like he’s always belonged there - texting his so called friends to ask for their advice in the middle of this crisis.
where are u guys
just got out of a lecture
still shacked up with loverman?? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
hunk, now is not the time for ur shenanigans
how fast can u get to altea? im calling an emergency brain trust meeting
and wHERE is pidge??
m i n e ?
can u answer the q?
make it 8
and WHERE IS PIDGE
In a lecture. Learning. As in, what we're at university to do.
pidge i dont have time for your jibber jabber
im having a crisis
crisis level 10,000
Your whole life is a crisis.
pidge is right tho
P I D G E
H U N K
I can get there in 20 mins.
If you pay for my dinner tonight.
And terrible decisions like, after agreeing to meet said friends at the coffee shop just around the corner from his shared apartment with Hunk for an emergency Brain Trust Crisis Meeting, gently sliding out of bed, grabbing the nearest piles of clothes and bolting out of the apartment.
Bolting out of the apartment, locking the door, leaving Keith still asleep in his bed.
Terrible decisions like that.
It’s surprising how easily they fall into a routine.
How easy it is to send one simple text (u free tonite?) and have Keith’s lips at his neck, his hands fumbling with the waistband of his trousers not even an hour later.
How easily soft, hesitant kisses quickly turn fervent under the cover of Lance’s scratchy old bedsheets.
How quickly he becomes used to the feel of calloused hands mapping their way down his body, leaving a fiery trail of scratches in their wake. Or how he learns just what to do with his hands and lips and tongue to coax out those breathless little moans from the back of Keith’s throat - the kind of moans that do something to Lance and have him moaning as well. Or how he figures out just which way he needs to angle his hips to have Keith gasping into the sheets, body taunt, and writhing as he murmurs words of praise and the name Lance, over and over again.
Or how quickly he get’s used to all of it - to all of Keith.
Or how much he loves it.
“I mean,” Hunk says slowly, chewing thoughtfully on the straw in his mouth. “It was obviously a terrible idea from the start.”
Lance shoots him a betrayed glare because he expects this kind of mutiny from Pidge, but not from Hunk. Never Hunk. “And how was I supposed to know that?”
“Sleeping with Keith?” Pidge pipes up, looking thoroughly unimpressed by the entire situation. “Oh yeah, I can’t possibly see how that could ever go wrong.”
“Are you here to help me, or to mock me?”
“Mock,” Pidge says without the slightest hint of hesitation. “Definitely mock.”
Lance groans and sinks further into his armchair, ignoring the glares he gets from the other customers inside the cosy coffee shop when the seat scrapes loudly against the wooden flooring. “You should’ve seen him this morning. The way he looked when I woke up?” Lance sighs while Pidge pretends to puke. “Ugh. I’m in too deep guys. Abort mission, abort mission.”
“Just tell him you don’t want to see him anymore,” Pidge says with a shrug, reaching out for the large plate of cookies on the table in front of them. “It’s just a crush, it’s not like you love him or anything.”
“Well,” Lance says slowly, feeling his face heat up as he determinedly fiddles with the zipper on his hoodie (which, incidentally, isn’t even his hoodie - it’s Keith’s). “About that. Maybe, and this is only a theory remember, but maybe— Maybe I do sort of, kind of, most definitely, love him? A little bit?”
At this, Pidge chokes on the cookie and spends the next twenty seconds aggressively thumping their chest.
Hunk spits out his drink, drenching Lance in a caramel frappuccino.
And Lance? Lance groans and sinks further into his seat. “I fucked up, didn’t I?”
When he’s with Keith he sometimes forgets that what they have is less of a relationship and is more of a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The benefits, of course, being the kind of sex that makes him see fireworks when he closes his eyes, the kind of sex that has Hunk blushing when he spots the scratches and bite marks and bruises that mar Lance’s skin after an evening with Keith, the kind of sex Lance never wants to stop having.
So it’s easy to forget that there aren’t any real feelings involved in their little arrangement - that this is all just a means to an end for the both of them - especially when they start to become something like friends.
They don’t talk much - there’s not really any time for talking beyond a quick ‘hey’ when they meet up, what with all the kissing and touching and everything else that comes with an arrangement like theirs - but you really can’t spend every other night wrapped in someone else’s arms learning every inch of their body like it’s your own, and not develop even the most casual of friendships.
There’s a period, about three months into their arrangement, where they don’t meet up as often as they have in the past. It’s exam season and Lance finds himself swapping Keith’s company in the evenings for thick textbooks and flashcards and long nights spent frantically scrawling down notes in the hopes that at least some of it will stick in his memory before his exams begin.
It’s not like he’s counting or anything, but it’s been something like ten days (it’s been exactly ten days) since their last rendezvous when Lance spots Keith sat huddled in a corner of the library, a pile of textbooks stacked up high beside him and looks like at least a week’s supply of energy drinks sprawled across the table around him.
Lance hangs back for a moment, ducking behind a shelf to peek over at Keith. Despite their mutual friends and near constant close proximity, they don’t interact with one another outside of Lance’s bedroom which, Lance realises, considering just what they get up to in said bedroom, is a little disconcerting.
It occurs to him suddenly, as he watches Keith yawn, arms stretched high over his head before he resumes listlessly flicking through one of his textbooks again, that this is the first time he’s really had the chance to get a look at him outside of their usual activities. And it’s funny, Lance thinks, it’s funny because he’s spent the last three months committing every inch of Keith’s body to his memory and he liked to think he knows Keith - knows what makes him shudder and groan and gasp - but, now he’s looking at him, really looking at him, he realises there are plenty of things he hasn’t noticed as well.
Like the way he purses his lips into an almost pout, brows furrowing in either confusion or irritation as his eyes scan a particularly difficult passage in the textbook. Or the way he hums what sounds like the tune to Britney Spears ‘ Toxic ’ when he reaches for yet another energy drink, even bopping his head a little as he glugs down the bitter drink. Or how apparently his sense of humour is just as awful as Lance’s own if the oversized and stupidly ugly sweater with the words ' you’re stressing meowt’ and a faded picture of a winking cat stretched across the front is anything to go by. Or how warm and inviting he looks in the low lamplight in the library.
Or that he’s actually kind of cute.
As Lance takes a step forwards, stepping out from behind the shelf and catching Keith’s attention almost right away, he wonders what else he has to learn about the man who’s been sharing his bed. He feels something almost bubble inside him as he inches closer, and he realises he’s excited to learn.
He notes the way Keith’s eyes flash with apprehension as he settles down next to him, and Lance thinks he understands. This is new territory for them after all. “Hey.”
Keith hesitates, eyes narrowing a fraction before he visibly relaxes and slides some of his books out of the way make some room for him to spread his own belongings on the table. “Hey.”
“You guys are an awful Brain Trust,” Lance whines glaring at both Pidge and Hunk who have, so far, proved themselves to be nothing but useless . “I come to you for advice, and your answer is just to laugh?”
“It’s a pretty funny situation,” Hunk says by way of an apology, reaching forwards to pat Lance’s thigh sympathetically. “Like, literally the kind of thing that happens in movies.”
“This did happen in a movie,” Pidge says with a snort. “We watched it at Allura’s place a couple months ago, remember?”
“Oh yeah, that Mila Kunis one,” Hunk nods appreciatively, lips twitching upwards into a sly grin. “Your life is a Mila Kunis movie, Lance.”
“Awful, awful Brain Trust,” Lance repeats again, crossing his arms tightly over his chest, already mentally making plans for his revenge. “After today I’m firing you both and recruiting Coran.”
“Coran ?” Pidge quirks a brow. “Mr ‘I Think Pokémon Is Pronounced Poke-ay-man’? That’s who you’re going to turn to for advice?”
“Also, he can’t work out to take a selfie with his phone,” Hunks adds. “Which is hilarious, and I hope he never figures it out, but yeah bro, maybe not the right guy to be asking for love advice.”
“And you two are ?” Lance splutters. “All you’ve done is laugh at me and compare me to Mila Kunis - who, incidentally, is a beautiful human being and if this were any other time I would very much welcome being compared to her - but right now, I need your help.”
“I don’t see why ,” Pidge huffs, eyes rolling backwards just far enough to communicate just how ridiculous they think this whole mess is. “The answer is very simple.”
“Yeah,” Hunk says with a shrug, looking like he’s genuinely surprised Lance hasn’t figured it out. “You tell him you love him.”
Keith doesn’t sleep over. That’s not the kind of agreement they have set up.
He might fall asleep for an hour or two once they’re finished, lying breathless and sweaty in Lance’s arms, but he never sleeps for long and whenever Lance wakes in the morning, he wakes to find an empty bed, with only his aching muscles and the smell of Keith’s scented shampoo still lingering in the air to let him know last wasn’t actually a dream.
Lance isn’t sure when that changes but he thinks it starts to happen sometime after their impromptu study session in the library. Something shifts between them then. Their arrangement still stays the same - they’re still having sex (more sex than before, Lance thinks) - but it’s not just sex anymore.
It’s no longer a question of a simple 'come over?’ text message before he’s being pinned against his bed as warm hands duck underneath his shirt, while his mouth makes quick work of leaving a constellation of bruises and bite marks along his neck. It becomes ‘you wanna grab something to eat first?’ which turns into evenings spent huddled next to each other in some dingy old burger bar or pizza shop or wherever is open late at night, stealing chips from each other’s plates, and bumped thighs and brushed fingertips and somehow it suddenly becomes a whole lot more than just sex.
It becomes a friendship (and maybe something a little more).
Because they are friends now. The kind of friends who text each other stupid memes throughout the day and argue about stupid things (‘Star Wars’ Lance is adamant, ‘Star Trek’ Keith insists), the kind of friends who can sit in silence in the library, doing their respective work and not have it feel awkward. But also the kind of friends who can do all of this and still have mind-blowing - back-blowing - sex every other day, because that’s just what they do.
So maybe it’s not all that strange that Keith’s started to stay the night.
And— Okay. Lance isn’t complaining because maybe it’s nice falling asleep with Keith curled up next to him, knowing he’ll still be there when he wakes. Maybe it’s nice feeling Keith’s breath against his neck, murmuring nonsense (nonsense that sounds suspiciously like Lance’s name, whispered over and over) in his sleep, while his arms wrap themselves tighter around Lance’s body. Maybe he enjoys waking up with their legs tangled together. Maybe he likes getting to see Keith’s slow smile as he blinks himself awake. And yeah, maybe Keith’s early morning voice, all gravelly and deep when he murmurs ‘g’morning’ before cuddling up to Lance for ‘five more minutes’ has quickly become Lance’s favourite sound in the world. Maybe.
And maybe it’s the morning sex. Maybe it’s the way Keith adopts a leisurely pace as they rock into each other slowly, softly panting, fingers laced together, entirely wrapped up in each other’s worlds. Maybe it’s the way Keith groans his name, fingers digging into his hips as they inch closer and closer to that sweet release. And maybe it’s the way, once they’re finished and lying side by side, gasping for breath and clutching at sheets, maybe it’s the way Keith looks at him, eyes soft and fond like he wants to say so much more.
Or maybe it’s all of it.
Pidge and Hunk are assholes, Lance decides as he stands outside the door of his apartment, glaring at the door as if it's personally wronged him in some way. They’re two of his best friends and he loves them with all of his heart, but they’re assholes.
Because it’s easy for them to say ‘just tell him’ before literally shoving him out of his seat and yelling at him to ‘go and sort out your pathetic love life’ under threat of getting involved themselves if he doesn’t when they’re not the ones who might have to face rejection from Keith.
They're not the ones about to ruin what's ended up being close to a year of great sex (amazing sex) and a friendship he's become fiercely fond of just because he's been dumb enough to develop feelings.
Because he's been dumb enough to fall in love.
He groans as he sticks his key in the door and shoves it open, half-heartedly hoping that maybe Keith won't be there. That maybe he'd woken up to an empty apartment and just left. That may—
"Oh, I was wondering where you were."
Lance's heart sinks a little as he enters the apartment and finds Keith sitting on the couch, wearing one of Lance's old t-shirts (a Star Wars shirt with the words Storm Pooper printed across the front - a Christmas gift from Hunk), like it's the most natural thing in the world.
And maybe it is.
Which is why Lance needs to end this now, before it can hurt him anymore.
"Can we— Can we talk?"
Lance frowns, because those are the words he'd meant to say, but they're not coming from his mouth - they're coming from Keith's.
"Can we talk?" Keith asks again, shuffling down on the couch to give Lance room to sit down.
"Uh— Right. Sure. Yeah," Lance mutters as he gingerly sits down. "Is everything alright?"
Keith nods and pulls his bottom lip between his teeth. "Yeah."
"I think I love you."
Lance blinks, mouth falling slack open because he's sure he's misheard. Because there's no way - absolutely no way - those words have just come from Keith's mouth.
"Yeah," Keith nods, shifting awkwardly in his seat, his cheeks reddening with each passing second. "I love you. And— And I thought I could do this— This thing and not get attached but I can't. So—" He shoots Lance a sad little smile and moves to stand up. "I think we should stop this."
"No," Lance says breathlessly, reaching forwards to grab Keith's hand to stop him from moving. "Why?"
Keith frowns. "I just sai—" He makes a winded sound as Lance lurches forwards, wrapping his arms around Keith's neck and sending them both falling into the couch as he falls. "What the hell?"
"Pidge and Hunk are going to be soooo smug," Lance cackles, threading his fingers gently through Keith's hair. "Especially Pidge. Oh God."
"Can you—" Keith frowns, wriggling slightly underneath Lance. "Can you explain?"
Lance grins - and it's his special shit-eating grin, the really wide one that crinkles his eyes at the corners and birth two dimples on either cheek. "You love me."
"You, Keith— Huh. I don't actually know your last name," Lance cocks his head to the side before shrugging. "You, Keith McMullet—"
"You, Keith McMullet," Lance continues, pointedly ignoring Keith's squawk in favour for bringing their faces together until their noses are practically bumping. "You love me."
Keith squirms underneath him, his cheeks redder than Lance thinks he's ever seen. "Are you gonna just keep repeating that until I spontaneously combust."
"You love me."
Lance laughs, leaning forwards to brush their lips together, humming when Keith lifts his head almost reflexively to try and deepen it. "You love me, and I love you."
There's a moments silence where Keith's eyes widen before his mouth twitches upwards into a shy grin that makes Lance's heart start working overtime. "Thank you, Barney."
"I give you a heartfelt love confession and you call me Barney?" Lance shrieks, trying (and failing) to keep the grin off his face. "Worst boyfriend ever. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive you."
"Oh?" Keith hums, lips quirking up into a grin that's more sly than anything else. He sits up, pressing his lips against Lance's, hands already beginning to wander underneath his shirt, lightly scratching as they move down his torso, tracing an invisible pattern. "I'm pretty sure I could find some way to change your mind."
i already said sorry
you did NOT
i meant to
What's going on?
Did Lance eat the last pizza slice again?
hahahaha i WISH
you do realise i can never sit on that couch again
keith says sorry too
u dont wna know
just dont sit on our couch when u come over next time
yeah, there was a lot of that as well
I'm never coming to your place again.
i for one am feeling very attacked right now
next time keep ur sinning away from the communal areas
does the bathroom count as a communal area
pidge can i move in with you???????