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Shut Up and Dance With Me

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“Lance—“

“Shhhh!”

“—What are you doing?”

Shhhh!” He glares at him, squinted eyes, pout, and everything. Keith just stares back, face blank and unamused.

When it’s clear he isn’t going to say anything, Keith raises one pointed eyebrow.

Lance sighs, rolling his eyes before once more lying flat on the dance room floor, ear pressed to the polish hard wood. “I’m trying to listen, if you would just be quiet.”

Keith’s eyes narrowed. “Listen to what?

“Listen to music! We’re in a dance studio, Keith. Keep up.”

He doesn’t look impressed. “Why are you trying to listen to music through the floor?

Lance sighs, giving up for the moment as he props himself up on his elbows. “Because, Keith,” He says, calmly and rationally, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Because it is. Why else would he have his ear pressed to the floor of room 4D unless Pidge and Hunk were in room 3D?
“I’m trying to figure out what song Pidge and Hunk are practicing to.”

Keith, however, looks more confused than ever. He’s sitting close by, the two of them pretty dead center on the floor. Keith has his feet stretched out, leaning back on his hands. Lance actively ignores his stupid fucking ponytail and the way it exposes the long curves of his neck. He’s really starting to hate that thing. He’s said it before, and he’ll say it again: Keith’s hair is stupid.

Keith’s brows pinch just a little, his lips puckering in that way that’s so adorably confused and yet infinitely endearing. Lance wants to hate that, too, but that one’s a little harder to hate. “Why are you trying to do that?”

Lance sighs, loudly and rolls his eyes, letting the imaginary momentum of it roll him over onto his back. He sprawls out, eyes fixed on the ceiling and the familiar tiles. And it’s only partially so he doesn’t have to stare at Keith. Staring at Keith has proved to be a dangerous activity lately. If his mind wanders while he’s doing it, his thoughts can get into some dangerous territory. Territory that tends to make his insides squirm. Which is not okay when he’s in the middle of one of Shiro and Allura’s lessons and Keith is like… two fucking inches from his face.

He’s had more heart attacks in the past two weeks than he cares to admit. One of these days his heart is just gonna skip a beat and straight up stop. Rest in pieces, Lance McClain. Here he lies and here he died, killed by Keith’s stupid mullet and those stupidly beautiful eyes that seem to change colors like a shifting storm.

Man, fuck Keith.

But not like… not like fuck Keith. That’s a whole different can of worms that he really doesn’t want to open up right—

“—ance.”

“What?” He says a little too quickly, head rolling over to stare wide eyed at Keith, like he can somehow manage to read his thoughts.

But Keith is just staring at him, one eyebrow raised. “I asked why you’re trying to hear their music through the floor.”

“Oh, that.” He laughs a little, a nervous sort of chuckle that he internally winces at. “I’m trying to figure out what they’re dancing to for regionals.”

“Why don’t you just… ask… them?” He asks slowly.

Lance scoffs, rolling his head back to look at the ceiling to avoid looking at him. There’s a water stain in the corner of that one tile. Fascinating. “Because they won’t tell me.”

“Why not?”

“Because they won’t just tell me about their regionals routine, Keith.”

“…Why not?”

He throws his hands into the air, voice rising. “Because it’s top secret information! We’re rivals now! That’s how this works!”

“Are you sure you’re not just projecting?” There’s that edge of amusement in his voice that Lance both loves and hates. And when he turns to glare at him, his lips are quirked into the ghost of a smile. “Besides, I thought we were rivals.” And yup. He’s definitely teasing him now. He cocks his head to the side and his smile widens like he’s not actually aware that he’s doing it, let alone able to stop it. And fuck, there goes his erratic heartbeat again.

Lance smirks, eyes going half lidded because he’s not sure what else to do and old habits die hard. “What’s the matter, Keith?” He purrs, lifting himself up on his elbows to leer at him. “Jealous?

Keith rolls his eyes. “Don’t get your hopes up.” He deadpans, but he’s still smiling as he lifts a foot and uses it to push him over.

Lance chuckles, rolling onto his stomach once again and pressing his ear to the floor, if only to have something to do. “I know it’s hard, what with that hairstyle and all, but stop living in the past. We’re partners now, and Hunk and Pidge are our rivals.”

Keith is quiet for a moment, and the pause almost seems thoughtful. He avoids looking at him because he can just feel those eyes on him. Instead, he tries to focus on the muted music coming through the floorboards. It’s no use though. He can hear muffled beats, but most of everything else is lost. Those beats could be from anything.

“Let me guess. They asked what we were doing for regionals, and since we don’t have anything, you told them it was top secret, so now they’re doing the same thing with you. Does that sum it up?”

Lance grumbles something unintelligible and makes a so-so hand gesture to indicate that, yeah, that’s mostly right, and he’s rewarded with a soft chuckle. There’s another silence, and it’s equal parts comfortable and awkward. But it’s not awkward because it’s Keith. In fact, it’s mostly comfortable because it’s Keith.

No, it’s awkward because they both know that they should be continuing their search for an audition song. But that search has been going on fruitlessly for weeks. They just can’t decide on anything. Nothing has felt right to Lance. They’ve found good songs, yeah, and they’ve found song he’d love to dance to some other time. But for regionals it has to be perfect, and nothing has given him that feeling that he’s so desperately looking for.

And Keith, despite his insistence that it’s Lance holding them up, is just as picky as he is.

So the first fifteen minutes of their practice slot involved them going over song and dance ideas they’ve had since their last practice. And when that ran dry, they just kinda… have done nothing since. Lance is trying to be productive by spying on their downstairs neighbors, but he still can’t quite figure out the song. The beat is too generic, and that’s all he can hear.

The song stops abruptly, like they had turned it off halfway through, and then it starts up again from the beginning.

He huffs loudly, propping himself up on his elbows so he can scroll through his phone. “Maybe if I download that music app…” He mumbles to himself.

“I don’t think it’ll pick it up through the floor.”

“Well I don’t see you coming up with any ideas.”

“Maybe because I don’t see the point?”

“The point is I want to win!”

“Win what exactly?”

“The— well— they— I don’t know! But they basically challenged me and I accepted it.”

Keith quirks one eyebrow. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

You don’t make any sense!” Keith looks unimpressed. Lance sighs, shoving his hand in his pocket and pushing himself to his feet. He brushes off his hands before holding a hand out to Keith. Keith just stares at it. Lance rolls his eyes, shaking his hand more insistently. “Come on.”

And surprisingly, he does take it after a moment. He surprises him for a moment, and he nearly forgets to pull him to his feet. “What are we doing?” He asks, and Lance grins.

“We’re going to spy on them.”

“Why—“

Lance is already tugging him toward the door. “Because we can’t hear them through the floor!”

Keith is putting up resistance, but it’s half hearted. “But why?”

Lance sighs as he reaches the door, one hand on the knob and the other still holding onto Keith. He turns to face him, giving him a flat look. “Alright, look, it doesn’t matter. Not really. But Keith… I’m bored. We’re not getting anywhere just sitting around, so we might as well have some fun, right? Besides, maybe if we know what they’re dancing to, it’ll inspire us.” He doesn’t look convinced, brows pinched and lips pursed. Lance gives him a small smile. “Worth a shot, right?”

Keith’s frown deepens, but it’s more of a pout than anything. The specific pout that he gets whenever he’s thinking about something and he knows it’s a losing battle. And… Lance doesn’t want to think too hard about the fact that he knows that. When did he get so good at reading Keith?

Finally he sighs, and Lance’s grin widens. “Fine.“

“Yes!” He says, already opening the door.

“—But this better not get me banned from Hunk’s cooking, or I swear I’m never talking to you again.”

Lance scoffs, letting go of Keith’s hand to put both of his on the door frame, peeking out and looking both ways. “Coast is clear.”

“Lance, we’re the only ones who use the fourth floor.”

“Come on, Keith! You gotta play along.”

“I didn’t agree to that.”

“Whatever, spoil sport.” He turns to look back at him, smirk wide as he waggles his eyebrows. “Besides, we can still dance together even if you’re not speaking to me. It’s called body language, Keith.” He says, punctuating his words by putting his hands behind head and rolling his body suggestively. He makes sure it’s a long, slow one, and he’s rewarded when Keith’s eyes follow the movement all the way down before snapping up to meet his gaze.

It might just be wishful thinking, but he could swear Keith’s cheeks are tinged pink.

Before he can look too closely, however, Keith is shoving past him. “Whatever, let’s just get this over with.”

“Keith, wait!” He says, scrambling out of the room after him.

He stops, watching Lance warily as he comes up behind him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “What?”

“If we’re going to do this, we gotta do it right.”

“And what’s the right way to do this?” He asks slowly, like he’s dreading the answer.

Lance’s grin widens. “I’m so glad you asked. Follow my lead.” And then he’s throwing himself to the side, his back hitting the wall a little harder than he intended. That doesn’t stop him from bending his knees a little, arms sprawled out against the wall, eyes squinting as he snaps his eyes back and forth. “Dun dun, duunun dun dun…” He starts to sing quietly.

“Oh my god,”

He doesn’t stop half-singing, half-humming as he shuffled down the hall against the wall. When he’s a good distance from Keith, he throws himself forward, going into a rolling summersault that’s only a little sloppy. When he rightens, he shuffles the remaining few feet to press his back to the other wall. His song resumes as he half crawls, half shuffles along the wall.

“Seriously?” Keith says dryly, arms crossed over his chest and one eyebrow raised as he cocks his head to the side. But Lance can see the slight tilt to his lips, the way his eyes are crinkling at the edges.

He grins, “Seriously,” Then he slaps the wall twice before pointing to the ground next to him. “Now get your ass over here.”

“Really?”

“Yes, Keith. Really.”

He sighs, but he does give in, which surprises Lance, but hey, he’s not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Keith squats down on the ground next to him, glaring when they make eye contact. “But I’m not making the sounds.”

“That’s fine. I’ll just do it twice as loud to make up for it.”

“Lance, that’s—“

”DUN DUN, DUUN UN, DUN DUN—“ He’s already started off down the hall, leaving Keith behind.

”You can’t sneak around if you’re singing!” Keith hisses, but Lance can hear the smile in his voice.

He doesn’t turn around, nor does he stop as he makes his way down the hall. He does a few more rolls, purposefully making them terrible and stopping halfway though just to push himself along the floor on his back with his feet. It’s worth the dirt on his shirt to hear Keith snickering. He doesn’t get nearly as into it as Lance is, but he crouch walks along the wall even though he really doesn’t half to, and so Lance will take that as a win.

“Alright, that was your warm up round,” Lance says as they reach the stairwell. He flashes Keith a wide grin. “Here comes the real test.”

“Please don’t say something stup—“

Super spy mode, activate!”

Oh my god.” Keith says, but he’s laughing, openly and loudly as Lance dives for the stairs, throwing himself up against the wall and half climbing up onto the railing. “You are such a dork.”

“Come on, Keith. You know you wanna.” He says, waggling his eyebrows. “Live a little. Take a risk. You might find you like it.” He tries to shimmy his way down the railing, which proves to be more difficult than anticipated, but he’s not giving up.

Keith doesn’t say anything, but Lance catches sight of his smile as he steps forward and slides effortlessly down the center railing. When he gets to the landing between floors, he hops off and immediately jumps forward to press himself against the wall, hands flat against the cinderblocks. He catches Lance’s gaze and smirks before scooting to the side, with several quick steps before jumping, hitting the side wall with one foot before pushing off, landing several steps down.

Lance laughs, the suddenness of it causing him to nearly fall from his precarious perch. “Hardcore parkour!” He shouts before jumping forward, grabbing hold of the center railing and vaulting himself over it. His vault is nearly flawless, but his landing is… not so much. He lands on the edge of a step, arms wheeling to attempt to regain his balance, but before he can fall forward, Keith’s hand grabs the back of his shirt and yanks him backwards.

He stumbles back, feet finally gaining purchase as he lands against Keith’s torso, his other hand landing on Lance’s arm to steady him. His heart is hammering in his chest, and it only about seventy-five percent has to do with his near fall. The other twenty-five has to do with the fact that he can suddenly smell Keith, his deodorant dull and earthy with a hint of spice, mixed with a scent that he can’t describe but which he’s come to associate with just Keith. It fills his nose and leaves him momentarily dizzy.

It’s not that he’s not used to being this close to Keith by now. He really is. Shiro and Allura’s lessons have seen to that. He’s able to be practically cradled in the guy’s arms with only minimal blushing. This, however, is different. This isn’t them hiding behind a dance. Of course, it’s not them being close by choice. Rather by reflex and happenstance. But still.

The fact remains that Lance actually kind of likes it, and that thought has his heart kicking into overdrive because he doesn’t want to like it.

“Nice jump.” Keith says, teasing edge to his otherwise flat voice.

Lance tilts his head back, gazing up at Keith with a wry grin. “Nice catch.”

They only stare at each other for what is perhaps a second too long before Lance is ripping his gaze away and practically throwing himself down the stairs, continuing the Mission Impossible theme at a slightly rushed tempo.

The third floor of the dance studio is only ever slightly more populated than the forth. And luckily, it’s in the middle of a time slot, so anyone who’s actually on this floor is currently locked away inside their practice rooms. This means there’s no witnesses to his shenanigans, and Keith is more likely to continue doing them with him.

When they reach the door, Lance crouches by the door frame, gesturing for Keith to follow suit. He rolls his eyes, but surprisingly complies. Hunching over Lance as the two of them peer out from around the corner.

“The coast is clear.” He whispers.

“I can see that, Lance.”

“On the count of three—“

“Lance—“

“One—“

“What are you—“

“Two—“

I don’t know what you’re planning—“

“Three— Go!

“Lan— fuck—“

Lance grabs the front of his shirt, giving it a sharp tug. It’s just enough to tilt his momentum forward before he’s letting go. He dives forward, doing a much more coordinated tumble as he rolls out of the stairwell and across the hall. He has to do two whole tumbles before he reaches the opposite wall, and he leaps to his feet, back pressed against it. When he looks back at Keith, he sees the guy has fallen forward but managed to catch himself on the door frame. He’s giving Lance that flat stare of his.

Lance proceeds to give him a series of hand gestures and facial expressions in an attempt to get his thoughts across without having to speak.

Unfortunately, Keith’s blank stare just looks confused as his expression drops, eyes squinting as his mouth falls open just a little. Lance raises an eyebrow, but Keith just lifts his arms and shrugs.

Lance slaps a hand over his face. Uuuugh. Come on, Keith. It’s not that hard. He does this all the time with Hunk and Pidge and his siblings, and they all get it!

Alright, super awesome spy language is too complex for Keith. Gotta simplify it to beginner spy standards.

He points at Keith, then makes a rolling motion with both hands before jabbing a finger at the ground next to him.

That, at least, Keith seems to understand.

His brows pinch, his lips pursing as he firmly shakes his head and mouths, No.

Lance retaliates by mouthing an exaggerated, Yes!

Keith isn’t budging, so Lance breaks out the big guns. It’s time for Code Ginger.

He slumps his shoulders, tilting his head to the size, and making his eyes as big and innocent as possible while sticking his bottom lip out. He gives him a full taste of the Lance McClain Patented Puppy Dog Look. Keith’s only seen it in picture form, and at the time he had been bombarded with everyone else’s, too. But it had worked then, and he can only hope it’ll work now.

Keith manages to hold out for a grand total of four seconds.

He sighs, body slumping in defeat as he shakes his head. Lance feels himself light up like a goddamn Christmas tree, and he doesn’t even try to tone it down, because Keith is suddenly leaning out to glare down the hallway once more. He glares at Lance for just a moment before he’s suddenly in motion. He dives forward, going into a flawless tuck and roll. He manages to make it across in just one, and pops up with just as much grace to stand at Lance’s side, back pressed to the wall.

“Happy?” He mutters, still glaring.

“Extremely,” Lance says, grin cranked up to the max. Instead of dwelling on that, he turns and starts down the hall.

They creep along the wall with slow, careful steps. Not that it matters too much, but he’s determined to be as silent as possible. Just for the added challenge. He insists on rolling past all the closed doors, but Keith just crouches and scuttles past them. When they reach room 3D, Lance rolls past it before crouching low, back pressed to the wall next to the door frame. Keith stops opposite him, and as they make eye contact, Lance lifts a finger to his lips.

Keith rolls his eyes, but Lance thinks he can see the shadow of a smile.

Lance scoots forward and presses a hand and his ear to the door. The music is still muffled, but he can hear it a lot more clearly than he could through the floor. He closes his eyes, trying to concentrate. He’s pretty sure he knows it, but honestly the beat is something that could be in any of dozens of songs. Ugh, why can’t Pidge and Hunk listen to music at a loud volume like everyone else in the studio?

The sound of movement catches his attention, and he opens his eyes and fucking jumps because Keith is suddenly right there.

What’re you doing?” Lance hisses.

Keith just gives him an unimpressed look, pressing his ear to the door so they’re facing each other. “I’m trying to listen, if you would be quiet for ten seconds.” He whispers back.

His hand is pressed to the wood and their fingers touch. It takes every ounce of self control Lance possesses not to jerk his hand away. How is it even possible for one fucking finger to put off that much heat?

“That’d be easier if you didn’t have hair in your ears, George Clooney.”

Keith frowns. “He doesn’t have a mullet.”

“So you admit you have a mullet?”

“No, but that’s what you’re implying, and I’m correcting your reference.”

“He had one in the eighties. Trust me. I looked it up.”

“Oh, I believe it. What do you even do in your free time besides look up people with mullets?”

“Hey, I only looked it up twice.”

“Yeah, and memorized a list both times.”

“What are you insinuating?”

“I’m not insinuating anything.”

“Bullshit. It’s all up in your tone, and I don’t like it.”

“What’re you gonna do about it?”

They’re close. When had they gotten this close? Keith’s face is only a hands width away. He can practically feel his breath when he speaks. Lance can only sorta remember the last time they were this close, memories fogged with time and alcohol, but he knows very clearly what happened.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

He should move away. He really should. But he can’t. Moving away would be acknowledging that it’s weird, and he really doesn’t want it to be weird between them. That’s what they agreed on, right? No more weirdness? No more awkwardness? If he moves away now, it would just fuel the idea that it’s awkward. Which it’s not.

Never mind the sudden pick up in his heart rate and the sweatiness of his palms.

He opens his mouth to respond when suddenly the door is gone.

One moment he’s leaning against it, arguing with Keith, and the next it’s just… gone.

He sees Keith’s eyes widen a fraction, mirroring his own, just a second before they’re both falling forward.

Lance yelps in surprise and manages to catch himself on his hands before his face collides with the hardwood. Nevertheless, he’s sprawled out on the floor with Keith beside him in a similar state, and they both look up to see Pidge standing over them, arms crossed over their chest. They look thoroughly unimpressed.

kiss the boy

“You guys do realize it’s not really whispering if you’re loud about it, right?” They say, cocking one eyebrow.

“We weren’t loud!” Lance says, pushing himself to his feet. “You just have super sonic gremlin bat hearing or something.” Without really thinking about it, he stretches out a hand to Keith to help him to his feet, only belatedly hoping his palms aren’t moist. Fuck. He lets go of Keith’s hand and makes a show of brushing off his pants.

“No, they’re right.” Hunk says from across the room where he’s standing next to the table with the auxiliary cable, phone in hand. Lance only now realizes that the music has stopped. When did that even happen? “We could hear you over our music.”

“Speaking of that…” Lance says, voice smooth as silk as he practically purrs the words, sliding across the room on long legs to his best friend’s side. He drapes an arm over Hunk’s shoulder. “Hunk, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal, what song was playing?”

Hunk opens his mouth like he’s about to reply, not a spec of suspicion on his features. Victory is so close to sating his curiosity, he can taste it.

But right before Hunk can make a sound, Pidge cuts him off. “Hunk.” They say sharply from across the room, and Hunk’s mouth snaps shut, blinking at them in innocent surprise.

“Why not?”

“Yeah, Pidge,” Lance says, glaring at them over his shoulder. “Why not?”

Pidge gives him a flat, unamused look, arms crossed over their chest. Neither them nor Keith has moved from their positions next to the door. “Because it’s top secret, remember?”

“Oh, right!” Hunk says, shifting to hide his phone screen from Lance’s view. He pokes Lance’s chest. “Sorry, top secret, dude.”

“But Huuuunk!” He whines, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and slouching against him. “Come oooon!”

“Are you gonna tell us what song you’re doing?” PIdge asks.

“… Maybe?”

Keith scoffs, and Lance glares at him, willing him to keep his mouth shut. Thankfully, he does. Pidge rolls their eyes. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

“Come on, Pidge! It’s not a big deal!” He tries again.

You’re the one who made it a big deal!”

“They’re right, dude. This is a taste of your own medicine.” Hunk says, shrugging his arms off and patting his shoulder.

Lance pouts because he knows the whole puppy dog look won’t work with them. They’ve known him for too long that they’ve become immune. Maybe if he can convince Keith to try it… No, Pidge has known him longer. They’re probably immune to him, too. Time for Plan B.

B for bet.

“Alright, alright,” He says, standing up straight and collecting his features into something calmer and more confident. He puts up his hands in defeat, casually wandering back over to where Keith and Pidge are standing. He shoves his hands in his pockets, shoulders slouched as he rolls his head to the side. “Well what’d you guys say to a little wager?” He asks, waggling his brows at Pidge, a smirk on his lips.

They eye him curiously, one brow arched. “A bet?”

“Uh, yeah, unless the definition of wager has changed since I last checked.”

Their expression immediately drops back into unamusement. “I don’t need your sass, McClain.”

His grin widens, and he nudges Keith with an elbow. “I learned from the best.” He catches Keith’s eye and winks. He just snorts, rolling his eyes and looking away, but there’s a smile on his lips.

“What kind of bet are you talking about?” Hunk asks, coming over to stand with them. He looks just as curious as Pidge but a lot less suspicious.

“A dance off, obviously,” He says, grinning from ear to ear as the three of them look at him with various levels of excitement and exasperation. Before anyone can tell him it’s a terrible idea (because it’s not, it’s an amazing idea), he slings an arm around Keith’s shoulder, pulling him close and ignoring how he stiffens. “Me and Keith versus you two. Losers have to show what they have for regionals so far.”

Keith’s brows furrow, lips pursing into that small, confused frown. “But we don’t—“

Lance slaps a hand over his mouth, making him jump. “We do have time for this.” Lance says, loudly, cutting him off. “We’ve already been over this, Keith. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all that. We totally have time for this.”

They both know that isn’t what Keith was going to say. He gives Keith a very pointed look, and the guy just glares back at him. After several long moments of staring, he rolls his eyes, grabbing Lance’s wrist to move his hand away. “We should be working.” He says instead of following his original train of thought.

“Yeah, us, too.” Pidge says, checking the clock on the wall. “We’ve still got thirty minutes left of our practice session.”

“Come on, Pidge!” Lance says, slouching into Keith. “Live a little!”

“It… could be fun.” Hunk says, eyeing Pidge sheepishly, pushing two pointer fingers together. They give him a look, and he puts his hands up defensively. “I’m just saying! We’ve gotten a lot done, and we could use a break. Besides… it sounds like fun.” He gives Pidge the puppy dog eyes and Lance knows in that moment that he’s won. PIdge maybe immune to his look, but no one can say no to Hunk.

“Fine,” They say, rolling their eyes. “I’m in.”

“Me, too!” Hunk says, grinning brightly.

“Yes!” Lance throws a fist into the air.

“I’m leaving.” Keith says, shrugging off Lance’s arm and heading toward the door.

“Ooooh, no, you don’t.” He says, grabbing the back of Keith’s shirt and pulling him to a stop. He does so without much resistance. “I need a partner for this dance off, and you’re it.”

He huffs, but doesn’t protest otherwise. Lance takes that as a win.

“So what kinda dance off are you thinking?” Hunk asks. “What kind of songs?”

“I’m good with a randomized shuffled song.”

“Alright, but whose phone? Cause you have some songs on yours that I really don’t want to dance to. No offense.”

“None taken. I don’t care which. I’m flexible and can dance to anything. I vote not Keith’s phone, though. He has an emo playlist on there that he and Pidge use for road trips.”

“You told him of our road trip playlist?” Pidge asks.

Keith shrugs, looking sheepish. “It’s not like it’s a secret. He’s already seen the pictures…”

“I still need to make Matt pay for that…”

“Pidge has the same playlist on their phone,” Hunk puts in. “I’ve seen it.”

“You’re going through my playlists?!” Pidge says, voice rising in pitch.

He shrugs. “Yeah, sometimes, when we’re using your phone. You have some nice selfies saved, by the way. I can tell the snapchat dog filter is your favorite.”

Pidge makes a high pitched indignant sound, gaping at him.

“That just leaves your phone, big guy.” Lance says, lightly punching his shoulder.

“That’s fine with me.”

“Alright, but if we’re doing this, we’re doing it right.” Pidge says, sending a wayward glare at Hunk. “We need an actual judge or else we’ll just end up arguing over who won.”

Lance grins. “I have just the judge in mind.”

After that, they all shuffle out of Pidge and Hunk’s practice room and head back toward the stairs. Pidge leads the way, sliding down the rails, with Hunk hurrying after them, fretting and prepared to catch them should they fall. Keith, however, trudges down the stairs slowly, arms crossed over his chest and face sullen as he glares at his feet.

“What’s with the long face?” Lance asks, slowing so they’re taking the steps together. It’s an odd change, given that they usually race down the steps, but… it’s not a bad change.

Keith glances sideways at him, then away, lips pursed. “It’s nothing…”

Lance rolls his eyes, lightly bumping Keith with his hip as the turn on the landing. “Come on, I know you better than that. What’s up?”

“I’m not…” He sighs, and it sounds frustrated. He rolls his head to the side and staring at the wall. “I’m not good at free styling.” He says it like the words are painful to admit.

“Dude, I know that. I’ve seen you at the park, remember?” He says, teasing smile in place. Unfortunately, it does nothing to lessen the tension in Keith’s shoulders.

He looks at him, incredulous. “Then why did you ask for a dance off?” He asks, voice soft so the others won’t hear. “We’re going to lose, Lance. I can’t— I don’t know how to do this.”

“You’re right. You’re probably terrible.” He says, and Keith scowls. “But you’re forgetting one very important thing.” He smirks, putting all his confidence into it as he gestures up and down his body. “You have me.”

Keith snorts, rolling his eyes, but some of the tension eases out of his shoulders.

As it turns out, Coran isn’t in the front office. Nor is he in the break room or any of the big dance rooms on the first floor. And after a cautionary check, they find he’s not in the bathrooms either. They reconvene in the office, empty handed and not a stray orange hair in sight. Lance is about five seconds away from marching down the halls of each floor, shouting his name, but he’s saved the trouble when Pidge hops over the tall counter and slides easily behind the computer. The three of them step forward, resting their forearms on the counter as they lean over to watch as Pidge pulls up the camera feed from all the different rooms.

“He’s in 2A,” They announce.

Lance snorts. “Figures.”

They start out of the office, and Keith is still dragging his feet. If Lance didn’t know him any better, he’d say the guy was the epitome of indifference. But the fact of the matter is that Lance does know better, and he knows Keith is nervous. He sees it in the way he bites at his lip, in the way his brows pinch, in the way his fingers tap incessantly at his arms. He wonders when he got so good at noticing things about Keith.

He bumps Keith’s shoulder with his own. “Race ya.” He says with a smirk.

Keith narrows his eyes at him. “We’re not racing.”

Lance skips ahead of him, hands in his pockets as he turns on his heel and walks backwards. His smirk stays in place. “Uh, yeah, we are, and right now? I’m winning.”

“I’ll race you.” Pidge says, a gleam in their eyes. All three of them turn to look at them, surprise coloring their features.

“Really?” He says, slow and suspicious.

Their smirk widens, and they try to look innocent. It only succeeds in making them look that much more mischievous. “Really. In fact, I’ll race all of you.”

Hunk puts his hands up quickly, shaking his head. “Nope, no, no, no, I’m staying out of this.”

Keith raises an eyebrow, narrowing his eyes down at Pidge. “What’s the catch?”

“Loser buys milkshakes?”

“Deal,” He and Keith say at the same time. He makes eye contact with him, and gets a small glimpse of his smile before Pidge is suddenly darting forward.

“One, two, three, go!” They say in a rush just as they reach him. Before he can react, they have a hand on his shoulder and a leg stuck out behind him. They use their forward momentum to push his shoulder. His legs hit theirs, and his knees buckle backwards, his torso falling back and losing his balance. He lands on his ass. Hard. And Pidge is sprinting down the hall, cackling.

Before he can fully recover, Keith is rushing past him. He sputters, flipping onto his stomach and making a last ditch attempt to grab his ankle. Which, in hindsight, is probably a bad idea. He doesn’t need to break his partner’s leg before regionals.

He doesn’t have to worry about it though. Keith easily jumps over his attack. His laughter echoes down the hall.

“Wha— get back here! Pidge, that’s cheating!” He screeches as he pushes himself to his feet and sprints after them. Pidge has already disappeared into the stairwell by the time Keith makes it to the doorway with Lance hot on his heels.

“I learned from the best!” They shout, and oh boy, is it on.

Pidge may have gotten a head start, but there’s one advantage that Lance has: his legs. He takes the stairs two at a time, cutting ahead of Keith at the landing and making it to the top of the stairs before him. He tries to shove past Pidge in the doorway, and they try to block his exit. Keith apparently sees little obstacle with them both being in the doorway, because just as Lance sees him running up in his peripheral vision, Keith is suddenly gone. He goes into a slide, feet first, and slides right under and between them. He scrambles for purchase and is up in half a second, headed down the hall with a cocky smirk thrown over his shoulder.

Pidge and Lance gap for only a moment before they’re sprinting after him.

Luckily, room 2A is at the very end of the hall, and the straight shot gives Lance the perfect opportunity to use his long legs to his advantage. He doesn’t run often, but he’s in shape and sprinting has always been something he excelled at. Besides, milkshakes are on the line.

He manages to overtake Keith right before they reach the room. The door is cracked open, and Lance hits it full speed, bursting into the room. “CORA—“ Keith runs into him from behind and the two of them fall to the floor in a heap. Pidge comes sprinting in a second later and trips over their legs, landing on top of them both.

They all groan, attempting to roll off each other and shoving with legs and arms.

“Do we… want to know?” He hears Shiro’s voice, and rolls onto his back, tilting his head back to see Shiro, Coran, and Allura all standing nearby, gazing down at them with expressions of amusement and curiosity.

“Coran!” He says, throwing his arms up in the air. “Coran, Coran, the gorgeous man!”

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out.” That has the man beaming. He squats down next to them, forearms resting on his knees as he gazes down at Lance. “What can I do for you, my boy?”

“I’m here!” Hunk says, bursting through the door. Thankfully, he stops in the doorway, leaning against the frame before he can trip over the pile on the floor. He’s breathing heavily and he bends over. “Geez, you guys are fast.” He straightens a little, lifting an eyebrow as he takes in the scene before him. “Uhh…. what’d I miss?”

“Nothing so far,” Allura says, gesturing to the three of them. “Just… this.”

“Oh, good.”

“Coran!” Lance says again, drawing the attention back to the real matter at hand. He lifts his arms, slapping his palms over Coran’s cheeks and holding his face tight. “We need you to judge a dance off!”

“A dance off, you say?” He says, words muffled as Lance smushes his cheeks.

“A dance off?” Shiro echoes, features relaxed as he crosses his arms over his chest, gazing down at them. He doesn’t look at all surprised, only curious.

“We made a dance off bet.” Pidge says, pushing themselves to their knees before Hunk helps them up. “Loser has to show what they have for regionals so far.”

“Is that so?” Shiro offers a hand to Keith, pulling him to his feet. “You agreed to this?”

Keith shrugs. “I didn’t really have much of a choice.”

“Damn straight, you don’t, mullet. So what’d you say, Coran?”

He puts his hands on Lance’s wrists and gently pulls his hands away from his face. His smile is bright beneath his mustache, eyes crinkling at the edges. “I’d be delighted to help. May I choose the music and dance style for this competition?”

Lance props himself up on his elbows, eyeing the others. They all exchange looks and shrug. He looks back to Coran. “Sounds good to us.”

“This way at least it’ll be impartial.” Pidge adds.

“Alright,” Coran says, putting his hands on his knees and standing with a flourish. “In that case I choose…” He pauses for emphasis, curling his mustache as he looks between everyone. He strikes a pose, dramatic as it is dynamic. His eyes twinkle mischievously. “Ballroom dance!”

Pidge and Hunk groan, Keith looks a little nauseous, but Lance throws a fist into the air with an excited whoop! before stumbling to his feet.

“Oh! That sounds like fun!” Allura says, bouncing on the balls of her feet while clasping her hands. “Can we join in on the bet?”

“No!” Lance and Pidge say together, both loud enough to make everyone else jump.

Allura’s expression immediately drops, and she leans her weight to one hip, crossing her arms over her chest as she pouts. “And why not?”

“Because you and Shiro will obviously win!” He says, and Pidge gestures to him as a silent form of backing him up.

“Well, you said that only the loser has to show what they have for regionals so far. So it sounds like there isn’t so much a winner of this bed as there’s just a loser. So I don’t see the problem.”

Lance frowns, lips pursing. He sighs loudly, throwing his hands into the air. “Fine! Whatever! Join in the bet! You’re all going down anyway!”

Coran shuffles over to the auxiliary chord, mumbling to himself while he searches through his phone, and everyone partners up and moves so that they all have plenty of room. Lance drags Keith to the side of the room and turns to face him, arms held out. Keith doesn’t move toward him. He’s standing there awkwardly, shuffling his weight and eyeing the others warily. Lance doesn’t miss the way he bites at his bottom lip. Something inside of him warms.

“Hey, get over here, mullet.” He says, but his tone is as soft as it is teasing.

Keith looks at him through narrowed eyes, but there’s no real heat there. His lips purse into the smallest of pouts, and he eyes Lance’s hands like he’s going to attack him or something.

Lance huffs, reaching out to grab Keith by the wrist, pulling him in close. “I said…” He takes one of Keith’s hands in his own, resting his other hand on Keith’s hip. “Get over here.” He’s smiling, but it’s small and reassuring. At least, he hopes it is.

“What’re we doing?” He mumbles, free hand floundering in the open air before settling hesitantly on Lance’s shoulder.

Lance shrugs. “We’re winging it. But this is basically standard ballroom position, so we’re gonna wing it from here.” Silence falls over the room as Coran searches for the right song. He can hear the others muttering amongst themselves, but Keith remains quiet as ever. He can feel how tense he is beneath his fingers, how his fingers curl into Lance’s shoulder just a little too tightly. He’s not looking at him, instead staring at Coran with more than a little apprehension. “Hey…” He says softly, shaking their joined hands to get his attention. When Keith looks at him, he smiles. “Chill out, okay? We’ve got this.”

“Lance…” He says, and Lance can tell that he’s trying to sound firm and indifferent, but there’s cracks in his mask. “I’m not… I don’t do improvising. I’m not good at this kind of thing. I don’t know anything about ballroom dances…” He looks uncomfortable, but in a way that’s uncertain and makes him look small and vulnerable.

It’s so unlike him, and Lance can’t decide if he loves it or if he hates it.

“Lucky for you, I happen to be a master of both.” He says, grinning as he waggles his eyebrows.

He doesn’t smile, but he does relax a little bit. “Really?” He asks, sounding skeptical.

Lance shrugs and waves their joined hands around vaguely. “Well… a master at improvising anyway, and that pretty much makes me a master of anything.”

“I don’t think that’s how that works…” He says, but there’s a small tilt to his lips. It’s not quite a smile, but he’ll take it.

“You’ll see,” He says, all confidence.

“Ah! Perfect! Ready, competitors?” Coran says, and Keith jumps, head whirling around to look at him. He looks like a deer in the headlights, and Lance takes pity on him.

“Hey,” He says, hands tightening just a little bit, just enough to be reassuring. Keith looks at him, eyes wide with the beginnings of panic. “Do you trust me?”

“What?”

“Do you trust me?”

He hesitates for a moment, eyes looking between his own, expression open but strangely unreadable. There’s so many things that pass behind those eyes, far too quickly for Lance to get it all. But then Keith’s expression is softening, and he can feel him relax beneath his fingertips. “Yes.” He says, so softly that Lance has to strain to hear. He then clears his throat, pursing his lips a little as he says a little louder. “Yeah, I do.”

Something electrifying sizzles through his veins, and his smile hurts his cheeks. He cocks his head to the side, trying to corral his expression into something more cocky and less bright. “Then sit back and enjoy the ride, kpop.”

“What do I do?”

“Just follow my lead.”

Coran starts up the music, and Lance is in motion. He silently thanks his mom for making him take ballroom classes with his sister when they were younger. He had thrown the biggest fit about it, but when it came right down to it, the class had been fun. And as one of the only guys signed up, he was never short of a partner. That history, combined with his natural aptitude for winging it, puts him in a pretty good spot for winning this little bet.

It’s just a shame that his dancing partner is pretty much a literal board in his arms.

Keith is beyond stiff from the moment Lance sweeps him up into movement. Lance can tell he’s trying. He really can. But his steps are stumbling, his feet unsure. His posture is slumped as his eyes fixate on the floor, watching their feet like they somehow held all the answers. His hands have Lance’s hand and shoulder in a death grip. If he didn’t know any better, he would be willing to bet Keith hadn’t danced a day in his life.

“Hey, eyes up here.” He says, and Keith’s gaze snaps up to meet his, eyes wide and panicked, even as his brows were pinched with frustration. “Stop fighting my lead.”

“I’m not—“

“You are. You’re stiff, and you’re fighting me. Just… let me lead.”

“I’m— I don’t—“

“Hey, dude, it’s okay, just relax. Go with the flow and don’t think about it.”

“How do I not think about it?”

“Just… trust me, and go with your instincts. Reflexes, you know? You know how to dance, dude, and you’re really damn good at it.” His eyebrows shoot up at this, and Lance frowns. “Yeah, don’t make me repeat that. Point is, just let your body do what it wants to do. Trust yourself and trust me, okay?”

He breathes in deep, closing his eyes briefly. When he exhales and opens them, there’s a fire in that gaze that wasn’t there before. It steals his breath away, punching it from his lungs. This close, in the daylight filtering through the window, Lance feels like he can see all sorts of depths to those irises that he’s never noticed before. Then Keith smiles. A small, almost tentative curve of his lips that form a smirk that’s almost cocky. Lance feels his knees shake. “Alright, let’s do this.”

Ignoring the fluttering in his stomach, he grins. “That’s the spirit. I’m going to spin you out now.”

“Wha—“

Lance spins him out, keeping their fingers locked. Keith stares at him, eyes wide with surprise, but Lance is already tugging him back in.

Things move quickly after that. Lance decides pretty quickly that they’re not winning this thing through pure poise and technique. So he goes with the one thing that he knows he can do: having fun. Keith loosens up considerably, and while he’s not exactly the best dancer, and clearly hesitates, he’s doing a lot better at taking Lance’s direction. He bends when Lance wants him to bend, and he moves where Lane wants him to move. He doesn’t have as much flair, but hey, he’ll take what he can get.

The song is fairly upbeat, but slow enough for Lance to add his own dramatics to it and make it more of a theatric performance featuring his board of wood partner. As they turn, he steals a glance at the others. Shiro and Allura are, as predicted, the picture perfect image of poise and grace. Hunk and Pidge aren’t doing that bad either. They’re not great at it, but at least neither of them looks like they’re two seconds away from a stroke.

Time for some good old fashioned sabotage.

He twirls him and Keith around the room, maneuvering them into the space of their friends. He manages to booty bump Allura, and spins out Keith so he can slap his brother across the face when his free hand flares out. They both laugh as Lance quickly twirls them away before the two can retaliate. They try to do the same to Pidge and Hunk, but they’re more resilient. Lance tries to use Keith as a weapon to trip up Pidge, but Hunk easily sweeps them away. In response, Hunk swings Pidge out, who’s foot connects with the back of Lance’s knees, causing them to buckle. He yelps as he goes down.

But Keith catches him, quickly shifting their grips so his arm moves from his shoulder to wrap around his waist. They end up in a pose very similar to a dip, both of their expressions frozen in panic. But once his momentum stops moving and they realize Keith pulled it off, they’re smiling. Keith pulls him back up, and Lance laughs, swooping him up and around the room in several quick steps. Keith manages to keep up, but just barely.

They add in several moves and lifts that they’ve learned from their time with Shiro and Allura, as well as a couple completely made up steps. Keith falters more with these than Lance does, but at least he’s smiling. For a moment, Lance forgets all about the bet, completely wrapped up in making sure Keith has a good time.

As the song draws to a close, he throws Keith into a dramatic dip, one arm wrapped around his back and the other going behind his thigh, encouraging him to stick that leg straight up in the air. He follows the direction without question, and doesn’t even hesitate to throw his weight into Lance’s arms. Lance dips down over him, and as the last notes fade, he finds himself staring into those dark violet eyes.

He’s grinning. He knows he is simply because his cheeks hurt with it. And he can’t even bring himself to tone it down because there’s a matching grin on Keith’s face. For a fleeting moment, he thinks it might be the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.

They’re both breathing heavily, chests heaving as they pant. It’s only then, as the music fades, that he realizes just how close they are. Keith is pressed up against him, arms wrapped around his neck. His hands is hot against the back of Keith’s thigh, and his waist almost seems small in his arm. Has he always been this close to Keith’s face, or have they gotten closer? He can’t tell. His heart is beating a heavy staccato against his rib cage, and it’s loud enough that he’s pretty sure Keith can hear it. He can only hope he can blame it on the dancing.

He can feel Keith’s breath fanning out across his face. Has he ever noticed his freckles before? They’re subtle and really fucking cute, brushing across the bridge of his nose and high on his cheeks. Keith’s eyes are half lidded, lashes long and perfectly framing those gorgeous eyes. He doesn’t think it’s fair that fucking Keith has the pretties eyes he’s ever seen. They’re prettier than Allura’s and Nyma’s and Pidge’s put together, and those are the prettiest eyes he’s seen to date.

His smile has faded from something bright as the sun to something much more subdued but no less sincere. It’s almost shy, sheepish, and they’re so close that he doesn’t miss the way those gorgeous eyes flicker down— to look at his lips— before flickering back up, and fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck—

“Well done, everyone!” Coran says cheerfully, clapping his hands together.

It startles him so much that he jerks, nearly dropping Keith to the ground before catching him. Keith looks too startled himself to complain about it. As soon as he’s upright, Lance lets him go, taking a few subtle steps away to put space between them so he can finally breathe. His heart is still hammering away, and his palms feel sweaty as ever. He doesn’t know if Keith is feeling as awkward about the situation as he is because he can’t quite bring himself to look at him. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

In the end, despite all their efforts, Keith and Lance are declared the losers. He tries to argue against it, but Coran’s judgement is final. The look on everyone’s face when they sheepishly announce that they don’t even have a song for regionals, let alone a routine, is one part disappointment, two parts exasperation, and one part unamused.

Luckily, everyone agrees it wasn’t a complete waste of time because they actually had a lot of fun, and Pidge leaves him alone once he agrees to buy them all milkshakes despite winning the race earlier.

He spends the entire car ride pressed up against Keith in the backseat, and he tries really hard not to think about that. His heart beat doesn’t seem to get the memo.

 


 

 

Keith is on his fifth shirt choice when his phone rings. He slides it open with his thumb and puts it to his ear, still frowning at himself in the mirror as he looks himself over with a critical eye. “What’s up, Pidge?”

“Keeeith!” They whine through the receiver. It’s loud, and he winces, pulling it away from his ear. “I texted you that we were here ten minutes ago.”

“You did?” He looks at his phone, and— yup. So they did.

“Yes,” They say, full of exasperation. “Now hurry your ass up or we’re leaving you behind.”

“We won’t leave you behind!” He hears Hunk say somewhere in the background. “But if you could hurry up, that’d be great. Lance’s break starts soon, and we told him we’d be there.”

“Okay, okay, I’m coming.”

“Good!” Pidge says, and they both hand up at the same time.

He takes a moment to look himself over once again, sighing as he runs a hand through his hair. It’ll have to do. He supposes he looks nice enough, though he’s not really sure why he feels like he has to look nice. He just… he wants to, okay? And he thinks he does look nice. Simple, but nice. Black jeans that fit his legs and make his ass look nice, simple dark shirt, his favorite boots… Simple, but nice… right?

He hopes Lance thinks so.

And he hates that he hopes that. There’s no reason for him to want Lance to think he looks nice, but it’s there, a thought he can’t get rid of, nagging him as he tries to get dressed, following him as he scowls at his reflection before turning and stomping to the door. He sees Lance a lot, but Lance has rarely seen him in anything that wasn’t dance-able comfort clothes or his work uniform.

The problem is, he has seen Keith in casual clothes, so it’s completely pointless that he’s worrying about what Lance will think of him now.

So he pushes down that thought, all that worry, all the second guessing that he usually never feels because who cares what he wears, and he tries to harden his resolve as he locks up his apartment and heads down to where Hunk’s car is idling in the parking lot.

As soon as he opens the door and slides into the backseat, Pidge lets out a loud groan, flopping their head back against the seat to look at him. “About time! What took you so long?”

He shrugs, busying himself with buckling his seatbelt. “I was distracted.”

Pidge snorts, but lets the subject drop. The drive is a relatively short one, but lunch rush traffic makes it feel longer. Keith tries not to fidget in the backseat, but his fingers tap against his thigh and he stares out the window, trying to avoid looking at his own reflection. The urge to fiddle with his hair is overwhelmingly strong, and he hates it. Hunk and Pidge fight over control of the radio, and Pidge ends up winning when they confiscate the auxiliary cable. Sending a mischievous grin over their shoulder and making solid eye contact with Keith, they start up their old emo memories playlist.

Keith can’t help but grin, which morphs into a laugh when Hunk lets out a long, loud groan. Both hands remain on the wheel, but his head hits the headrest hard. “Why, Pidge? Why?

They grin triumphantly. “This is for snooping through my phone. Suffer.”

They spend the rest of the trip singing everything as loudly and obnoxiously as they can, and Keith is once again surprised that he remembers all the lyrics. Hunk groans the whole time, but when they get to Mr. Brightside, he actually sings along. Every time he reaches for the radio controls, Pidge slaps at his hand, fast and precise and Keith can tell from the sharp sound that it hurts. He’s been on the receiving end of those slaps plenty of times. Eventually, Hunk gives up and just slumps in his seat to pout.

“You guys are worse than Lance…” He grumbles as they pull into the parking lot.

“I resent that.” Pidge says, unbuckling their seatbelt as Hunk pulls into a spot.

“But am I wrong?”

“Nope.” They say, popping the P.

Keith slides out of the backseat, stretching as he looks up at the building in front of him. It’s big, and the parking lot is bigger, but it’s fairly empty. Perks of coming in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, he supposes. The sign that reads Adventure Zone is bright and neon and in a font that’s probably considered fun or something. It all looks… weirdly ominous to him.

Probably because he knows Lance is inside.

He doesn’t want to think about why that makes him nervous. It’s just Lance. Lance, his dancing partner. Lance, his new friend. Lance, the obnoxious doofus with a heart of gold. Lance, the guy who knew how to push his buttons better than anyone else. Lance, who pissed him off. Lance, the needlessly competitive one. Lance, the one who knew how to draw Keith out of his shell. Lance, the one Keith kissed at the club. Lance, the idiot who Keith had actually enjoyed kissing, despite all the awkwardness that followed. Lance—

“Have you ever been here?” Hunk asks, and Keith jumps, turning to look at him.

“Oh, uh… yeah, a couple times.” He says, scratching the back of his neck. “Shiro used to take me bowling here a couple times, and I’ve come with Pidge. It’s been a while though…”

“I had my eleventh birthday party here. We had a laser tag competition. Keith and I slaughtered everyone.” They say, coming up on his other side and offering a fist. Keith obligingly bumps it. “It was brutal.”

Hunk pulls out his phone, checking the time as he starts forward. “Oh man, we’re fifteen minutes late.” He says, brows furrowing.

Pidge waves him off. “He said he wasn’t gonna go on break until we got here anyway, so it’s fine.”

“Yeah, but you know he’s gonna complain about it.”

“When doesn’t he complain?” Keith says, shoving his hands in his pockets as he trails after them. Now that they’re here, he can feel his nerves acting up again. What a pain in the ass.

Pidge snorts, and Hunk smiles. “Yeah, but that’s part of his charm.”

Keith hates that he’s right.

The place is even bigger on the inside. From where they walk in, the bowling lanes lay out to the left, and the rock climbing wall lies to the right. He knows from experience that laser tag is near the back. They head for the stairs head down.

As they descend, the lighting changes. The carpet has a base of dark blue with strips and curls of neon swirls set in a consistent pattern. There’s no natural light, and none of the florescent lights like those on the floor above, but the place isn’t entirely dark. The arcade is lit up by more subtle lights, mixed through with black lights that make all the neons pop. The machines light up the maze of games that seem to go on forever, all of them flashing and blinking and making all sorts of sounds to lure people in. Toward the back, he knows there’s an indoor mini golf course, twisting through makeshift caves lit by more neon lights. Music plays softly over the speakers above.

It’s a familiar atmosphere, one that usually accompanies arcades and places like this, but there’s something ominous in the dim lighting, something threatening about the glow of neon beneath his feet. He thinks it’s the anticipation. The tingle beneath his skin, buzzing at his fingertips, making his palms sweat and making him so fucking glad that he’s wearing his gloves.

He has no reason to feel this way. It’s just Lance. He sees Lance several times a week. He spends more one on one time with Lance than anyone else. It’s just Lance. Just Lance. Just Lance. Just—

He sees him from across the room and it’s like a fucking freight train to the chest, punching the air right out of his lungs. He’s standing behind the prize counter, miscellaneous knick knacks and toys strew all around the wall and beneath the counter in an organized but sporadic fashion. There’s light above him and below, in the glass cases, making his station one of the few with solid lighting. It just makes him that much of a focal point.

When they arrived, he was leaning forward across the counter, cheek resting in one palm while the fingers of his other hand tapped against the glass. Upon seeing them, however, he springs up straight, hands slapping down on the counter as his face breaks out in a wide grin.

Keith is pretty sure the air down here is thicker and warmer than that of the floor above. It has to be. Because there’s no way his body is having this kind of reaction to seeing Lance. He sees Lance all the time. His uniform is nothing spectacular. Just a fitted dark blue polo tucked into some khaki pants. It’s not unlike his own work uniform. Yet at the sight of him in it, something weird and foreign twists in his chest, heart lodging in his throat.

Fuck.

“It’s about time!” Lance says as they get closer, already moving toward the register. He punches in a few buttons and shouts over his shoulder. “Theresa! I’m going on break!”

“Remember you only have an hour!” Says a woman as she pushes through a door, back first, cardboard box in her hands. She fixes Lance with a hard stare. “Don’t be late. I’m going on break right after you.”

“Yeah, yeah, got it.” He says, waving her off before planting his hands on the counter and vaulting over it, ass sliding across the glass before his legs fall off the other side. The woman just rolls her eyes, tight lipped, but says nothing about it. “You guys are late.” He accuses, hands on his hips as he walks up to meet them.

Keith is pretty sure those pants are too tight to be work appropriate. And that shirt stretches across his shoulders and chest, holding firm to his frame as it tucks into the pants hanging snuggly around his thin waist—

Jesus, Keith, get a grip on yourself. He tears his gaze away, and he’s surprised by how much it feels like ripping. He looks over the game machines. There’s so many and so few people. His heart is beating a swift staccato and he silently curses it. There’s nothing attractive about his uniform. They’re just clothes. Not even good clothes.

He hopes he miraculously developed a kink for polos and khakis, cause if it’s not the clothes, than it has to be Lance. And he’s not ready to admit it’s Lance.

“Yeah, well Keith over here took eighty four years to get ready.” Pidge says, jerking a thumb over their shoulder.

Keith looks up then, and he meets Lance’s eyes over Pidge’s head. He’s convinced he imagines the way Lance’s smile brightens just a fraction, crinkling his eyes. “Hey, mullet.” His voice is weirdly soft, and that Keith is certain he doesn’t imagine, judging from the way Pidge and Hunk exchange glances in his peripheral vision.

“Hey,” He says around the lump in his throat. He tilts his head a fraction, scratching the back of his neck as he licks his lips. Why does his mouth feel so dry? “I, uh, hope it’s okay that I came?” He asks, uncertain as his eyes flicker away, only to be drawn back to Lance’s like a magnet. “Pidge and Hunk invited me, so…”

Lance is already waving him off. “Yeah, of course, dude.” And then Lance is right next to him, slinging an arm around his shoulders. “You’re one of us now, which means you get all the perks that come with my friendship.”

Keith gives him a flat look, raising one eyebrow. “There’s perks?”

Lance gapes at him, leaning back with a hand pressed to his chest for emphasis. He gives Keith a wide-eyed offended stare, but he knows it’s all in jest. He can see it in the way Lance’s eyes light up, in the small twitch of a smile he can’t quite hide. Pidge snickers, and Hunk snorts, covering his smile with a hand.

Lance then leans close again, close enough that Keith is pretty sure he can feel his breath ghosting along his cheek. He then pokes him firmly in the chest. “Sassy.” He accuses in a loud whisper.

Keith just smirks, hoping Lance can’t feel the thud of his heart.

“Alright, if you two are done, we have some games to play, high scores to conquer, and some tickets to win.” Pidge says, already turned away from them and walking away.

Hunk trails after them, pulling his wallet out as they make their way to the token machine. “Are you sure you can’t get us like… a discount or something?”

Lance peels himself away to follow after them, shoving his hands in his pockets, and Keith tries not to focus on the loss of his warmth. “You know I can’t cheat the machines, buddy.”

“Yeah, but like… isn’t there a bucket of tokens or something you can get?”

“Yeaaaah, no, buddy.” He says, coming up beside Hunk and patting his arm while shaking his head. “Sorry, but last time when I did that, I got ripped a new one. I can get us into pretty much everything else here for free, but the arcade is a different matter. It’s out of my hands.” He says with an apologetic smile and nonchalant shrug, holding up both hands for emphasis.

Hunk smiles, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and pulling him in for a hug. “It’s no problem, dude. Don’t want you to get in trouble.”

Keith finds himself eyeing their closeness, the ease with which they just.... touch each other. Casual hugs, friendly shoves, mindless poking. It’s comfortable, and it’s normal. Nothing special about it. That’s just who Lance is. It’s how their friend group operates. There’s nothing special about it, nothing that means anything more.

Even if Keith’s heart doesn’t get the memo.

By the time they reach the token machine, Pidge is already feeding it bills, scooping out the tokens and shoving them into the large pockets of their cargo shorts. He has a feeling they chose their outfit specifically for that purpose. When they catch sight of his amused look, they smirk. “Cups are for nerds.”

“The cups are practical.” Lance defends, coming up beside the machine to lean an elbow on the top of it while he waits. “Leaves the pockets open for tickets.”

Pidge snorts, stepping away from the machine only when their pockets were heavily with coins. “Get more pockets then. The cups are for kids.”

Amusement crinkles his eyes as a sly smirk curves his lips. “Then are you sure you don’t want a--“

“Shut it.” Pidge cuts him off with a threatening finger.

He just laughs.

Hunk, likewise, is wearing cargo shorts, and he fills them with just as many coins as Pidge had. When it’s Keith’s turn, he takes a moment to stare at the machine before looking down at himself, a thoughtful frown pursing his lips. He... hadn’t thought this far ahead. His pocket options are very limited... He looks back at the machine, glaring at it like it personally offended him.

“Give me a cup.” He says, holding out a hand to Lance without looking at him.

Lance laughs, reaching out to where they store the plastic cups purely for the purpose of holding tokens. He puts it in Keith’s outstretched palm. “According to Pidge’s logic, you’re a nerd now.”

Keith just shrugs, pulling out a few bills of his own and feeding them into the machine. He busies himself with scooping the coins into his cup so he doesn’t have to look at him. “I’m not exactly wearing pants with loose pockets.”

And he doesn’t miss the way Lance leans a little to the side, or the way he nods in his peripheral vision. “No, you are not.” He says, voice oddly thoughtful and... appreciative? It’s hard to tell, what with the sudden ringing in his ears as his heart decides to pump blood at a lightning fast pace. He keeps his head down, eyes trained on the task at hand. Is it hot in here? He’s pretty sure it is. There’s no other reason for his face to be this warm.

When he’s done, he steps away without a word and gestures for Lance to go ahead. Lance grabs for a cup as well, and Pidge snorts, mumbling nerd under their breath. To which Lance simply flips them off.

Once they’re all set, Pidge leads the charge through the arcade, barely glancing behind them to see if everyone is following. It’s a single minded purpose, and they weave through the aisles of machines with a familiarity that speaks of practice. He’s watching them, eyebrow raised in mild amusement.

Lance must have caught onto his look, because he leans over, loudly whispering in his ear. “Every time they come here, Pidge has to check their fav games to make sure they still have the high score.”

Hunk leans into his other side, whispering just as loudly. “Yeah, and if they’re not, they’ll spend the whole time reclaiming their spot if they have to.”

“I’m not letting any snot nosed brats beat me.” Pidge says from ahead of them, and they all snicker.

Keith recognizes several of the games they stop at from his childhood excursions to the arcade with Pidge. Apparently their favorites haven’t changed much over the years. The first couple games, after a quick check, seem to still have Pidge as the top score. For some of them, they hold several of the top spots.

By the time they reach the third machine in Pidge’s rounds, Keith has lost interest. His gaze wanders around the machines, everything too flashy and too neon for him to really focus on anything in particular. At least he’s finding it easier to breath now, if only a little.

“Hey, Lance! Look!” Hunk says, piquing Keith’s interest.

He follows his gaze, eyes landing on the large dance machine, the screen is huge and flashing arrows and dancing cartoon girls, music set on a random shuffle as it waits for a customer. There’s two raised dance panels, both with arrows at the corners. He’s never done one like that before. All the one’s he’s done had the arrows up, down, left, and right. But a dance machine is a dance machine, he supposes.

Lance snorts. “Yeah, buddy, it’s in the same place it always is.”

“Come on, you’re always excited to do that one.”

Keith turns back around to see Lance scratching the back of his neck with his free hand, eyes turned to the side. “Yeah, well... I do it all the time—”

Pidge snorts softly without looking up from their game. “You got that right.”

“—So you guys are probably tired of seeing it...”

“Come on, man,” Hunk says, elbowing Lance in the side. “It’s always fun to watch, and besides, Keith hasn’t seen yet!”

Lance’s eyes flicker to Keith, and he catches the brief look of uncertainty. “Well, that’s true...”

Keith just looks between them, face blank. “It’s just a DDR machine?”

Lance scoffs, rolling his eyes. “Okay, for one, it’s not DDR, it’s called Pump It Up.”

Keith shrugs. “Same thing.”

“Okay, no—“

“Are you good at it or something?”

Lance chokes for a second, sputtering and eyes bugging before he manages to find his voice. “Good? Good? I’m the best!.”

Keith cocks an eyebrow, smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. “Care to put your tokens where your mouth is?”

“Bring it, Kogane.”

They make their way to the machine and each claim one of the dance pads. Hunk watches from the side as they insert their coins and shuffle through the songs. He recognizes a few of them, but he’s never danced to them on this game before. He knows Lance has probably played this more than anyone, so he vetoes any song Lance is particularly enthusiastic about.

They narrow it down to two songs by the time Pidge wanders over, and they become the deciding vote between the two.

As the song starts up, he settles into the center of his pad, eyes on the screen and focused in a single minded determination. He hasn’t played a game like this in years, but he’s always been good at rhythm games. He’s never played one where the arrows were in the corners, but it couldn’t be too hard to get into the groove of, right?

Turns out, it’s surprisingly difficult. It takes him a solid fifteen seconds to get used to the new button locations, and those are long, important fifteen seconds. By the end of it, he finds his groove and starts wracking up perfect’s and great’s, but he has a feeling Lance has already pulled ahead in score in the time he spent stumbling over his own feet.

Unsurprisingly, Lance wins. Before he can gloat too much, Keith challenges him to a rematch, claiming that was his warm up. And a warm up it might have been, but Lance still kicks his ass the second time, too. He’s good at rhythm games. He is. He’s good with the patterns and the timings, and he always used to drag Shiro onto these machines as a kid and he was good at it. Objectively, he is good at it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Lance is phenomenal.

The song ends, and Lance’s top score flashes on the screen. He beams, hands on his hips even as his chest heaves with heavy breaths. Sweat glistens on his brow, but it does nothing to diminish how pretty he is. In a fucking polo and khakis no less. Ugh.

Keith decides to glare at his own score instead, leaning back on the railing behind him, hand on the cool metal to ground himself. He’s a little out of breath himself. He scowls at the screen, like he can somehow get the numbers to change.

“Ha! Told you I’m the superior dancer!” He says, grin far too bright for Keith to look at him.

“Pay up, Pidge.” Hunk says, holding out a hand.

Keith glances sideways in time to see Pidge dropping a handful of coins into Hunk’s open palm, grumbling under their breath. He glares at them. “You were betting on us?”

Pidge rolls their eyes. “Of course we were. And you let me down.”

“That’s what you get for betting against Lance when he practically grew up on this machine.” Hunk says with no small amount of pride, patting the side of the machine fondly. “Pleasure doing business with you.”

Pidge flips him off before crossing their arms over their chest with a huff.

“Yeah, Pidge, everyone here knows I’m the best dancer.” Lance says, crossing his arms over his chest and cocking his hip to the side. His grin is no less bright when Keith turns to scowl at him.

“It’s hardly dancing.” He says, gesturing to the screen. “It’s just a rhythm game.”

“Uh, it’s totally dancing.”

“Is not.”

“Is so!”

“Is not.”

“You know what? You want dancing? I’ll show you dancing. Off.” He’s suddenly stepping toward him, shooing him off the platform.

Keith steps off it, eyebrows raised. “What are you—“

“I’m going to show you dancing.” He says, already putting coins back into the machine, into both sides of it, and shuffling through the songs. He settles on one that’s a lot slower than the ones they were dancing to, which has him pinching his brows in confusion.

A hand lands on his shoulder and Hunk is pulling him back a few steps. When he looks up at him, he’s grinning. “You might want to step back a bit.”

“What’s he doing?”

“Just watch. It’s gonna be great.”

He turns to Pidge, but they’re not looking at him. Their phone is out, camera open and trained on Lance, already recording. When they catch Keith’s gaze, they shrug. “It’s actually pretty impressive, and he’ll kill me if I don’t record it.”

Keith huffs slightly, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning his weight to one side as he returns his gaze to Lance. He steps off the side of the platform, face oddly set in determination, a fire blazing in his eyes, confidence practically oozing from every pore. It’s a look he gets often, but it’s not quite complete without the smile—

Then he glances over at Keith, and his lips quirk upward in a smirk, causing Keith’s insides to twist and flutter.

Fuck.

But then Lance is looking away, glancing at the screen once before bending his knees, squatting and bending forward—

“What is he doing?” Keith asks, unable to stop himself. He gawks, mouth dropping open in surprise as Lance plants his head on the platform, puts his hands at the corners, and goes up into a headstand, legs bent and sprawled for balance. He barely wavers.

“This,” Hunk says, crossing his arms over his chest and pride coloring his voice. “Is why we love watching Lance on dance machines.”

“This is why Lance is such a show off with dance machines.” Pidge adds.

“Yeah, but he’s earned it.”

“I suppose.” They say, but there’s a smile in their voice.

Keith thinks they might still be talking, but he’s honestly not paying any attention. As soon as the arrows start moving up player one’s side of the screen, Lance is moving, rotating on his head and using his hands to hit the buttons. He’s not even looking at the screen, and yet he hits the mark every time.

And then his legs are flipping down, feet barely hitting the ground before he’s hoping up on the machine. He practically skips around the pad, spinning as he does so, legs bending and feet extending in rhythm, hitting the buttons right when he needs to. It’s honestly... a lot like something he’d do just freestyling in the park, and yet he manages to time it all with the arrows on the screen. The screen he’s barely even glancing at.

As the arrows fade on the player one side and start up the player two side, he puts one hand on the back railing, landing one hand on an arrow button as he flips his legs over to the second platform. He goes down, spinning around on hands and feet in a crouch and in moves that don’t look unlike breakdancing.

He pauses at one point, in the middle, slapping two arrows with his hands in rhythm like a petulant child. It’s a funny break in the moment, and it has Hunk laughing and Pidge snickering. Keith is too stuck in his awe to do either.

Then he’s up again, shifting between the two sides, feet dancing across the arrows. He throws in flashier moves, like grabbing one ankle behind him and pumping it into the air as he spins. He gets into it, feet dancing around, knees bending and snapping, heels and toes hitting buttons. He does down at several points to slap with his hands before he’s on his feet again. The whole time, he moves around, twisting and spinning. His upper body gets into it, bobbing with the beat, and it really just... looks like dancing.

He’s not just doing a rhythm game. Not like that had been just before.

He’s just... dancing in such a coordinated way that he happens to be hitting the right buttons at the right time.

He gets to into it, head bobbing and arms swinging, not even really looking at the screen. Keith doesn’t realize he’s grinning until he hears the clapping, and he tears his gaze away from Lance to notice for the first time that he’s gathering a small crowd. People are clapping along to the beat, led by a very enthusiastic Hunk. Pidge is whistling loudly, and Lance laughs, head thrown back for just a moment as it bubbles out of him.

Keith’s throat feels dry.

He feels... hot? Cold? Does it matter? He feels something, but he’s not connected enough to his body to really figure it out.

There’s a moment where Lance stops his bouncing movement, sliding sideways across the machines on feet like silk, hands moving like water and limbs flowing in a way Keith has seen him do a couple times but still finds it hard to believe. It’s something he knows he’s learned from Pidge, but it never ceases to amaze him. The switch from bouncing and upbeat, to rolling easy waves, back to bouncing is so quick, and yet it hits him hard.

Lance is good. He knows Lance is good. But he’s starting to realize he’s a much better dancer than Keith has ever really given him credit for.

And extremely out of his league.

“He’s incredible...” He says in a voice that doesn’t quite sound like his own.

“I know.” Hunk beams.

Lance spins and twirls, legs moving so naturally but still managing to hit all the right buttons. He goes down on hands and feet again, twisting and bouncing before he’s back upright, spinning again. He even goes up on his hands to hit buttons before gravity takes hold and pulls his feet back down. It’s all so smooth, so coordinated, and yet gives off such a carefree vibe that’s so incredibly Lance. It’s unlike anything Keith was expecting, unlike anything he ever expected from a gimmicky dance machine, and now he can’t imagine anyone approaching it any other way.

The last arrows slide up the screen as the song nears it’s end, and the clapping gets more intensive, adrenaline fueling them right until the end of the show. And right when Keith is certain he’s seen it all, Lance steps off the side of the platform before throwing his body forward, doing a front flip and landing with his feet on the two final buttons.

His momentum carries him forward, stumbling off the platform and crashing right into Hunk, who catches him with ease and barely budges. He looks up, exchanging wide grins with Hunk.

“I think that’s a new personal best.” Pidge says, stepping forward to get a closer look at the screen.

Lance’s head whips around. “No way, really?” He comes up beside them, putting his hands on their shoulders as he leans over their head. He squints for a moment, face drawn in concentration before brightening again as he straightens. “Oh fuck yeah!”

He turns then and catches Keith’s gaze. He’s not really sure what expression he’s wearing in that moment, but the cocky smugness that overtakes Lance’s face is enough to let him know he’s gawking. He quickly schools his own expression into something more neutral, more indifferent, but he knows Lance has already seen everything.

He slides up to him, hip cocked and arms crossed over his chest. “So, mullet, how was that for dancing?”

Keith looks to the side, mostly because he’s not sure he can look at him directly. Not with the way his heart is racing and his skin feels like it’s on fire, far too sensitive to everything, even his own clothes. There’s an itch beneath his fingertips that he can’t quite push down.

He holds up a hand, making a so-so gesture. “Eh, it was alright.”

“Alright?” Lance gasps, incredulous. “Alright? Come on! That was amazing!” He says, throwing his hands up in the air.

Pidge pats his arm, looking down at their phone. “Don’t worry, you can hear him on the recording saying you’re incredible.”

“Really?” He perks right the fuck up at that, peering over Pidge’s shoulder. “Show me, show me, gimmie.” He says quickly, making grabs for the device.

Pidge elbows him away. “Fuck, Lance— get off.” They say, struggling to get away but fighting against Lance’s advantage with longer limbs.

Keith turns and walks off, intent on exploring the arcade, and the other eventually trail after him.

It does take Pidge long to go back to their mission, everyone else following them through the arcade. Hunk gets caught up in a game next to the one Pidge is playing, and suddenly Lance is right next to him.

“What’d you say to a little competition?” He says, waggling his eyebrows when Keith turns to look at him, smirk on his lips.

“Seriously?” Keith deadpans. Why is everything a competition with him? Why can’t they have a normal outting without him turning everything into some sort of contest—

“I mean, I’m already winning after that dance machine challenge, so...”

Fuck it. He’s going down.

“Fine. How many games?”

He taps his chin with the edge of his cup, making the coins rattle. “Five games each? We take turns picking for a total of ten?”

Keith nods, “Fine, but the dance one doesn’t count.”

“Unless it’s tie, in which case my win there is a tie breaker.”

“Fine.”

“Awesome.” His face lights up with a fire that Keith is far too familiar with. It’s two parts cocky, one part excited, and one part determined. It sends a similar energy sizzling through him, settling into a warm heat in his stomach, a ball of fire to keep him pushing forward. He doesn’t care if everything with Lance turns into a pissing contest, the fact remains that it’s usually fun.

And just like that, everything seems to click back into place, a familiar normalcy dropping over them like a blanket. The itch beneath his skin calms, replaced by an itch that’s far more familiar. The anxiousness drains, replaced by another energy, an eager and excited one. He feels steadier, stronger, more confident, like slipping into familiar, well worn shoes as opposed to the new ones that were pinching his feet in all the wrong places.

The black lights and flashing lights no longer seem ominous. Instead, they’re suddenly inviting, each of them seeming to reach out, calling to him, urging him forward and whispering for him to kick Lance’s ass. The neon patterns on the dark floor act like guidelines, pulling his feet forward like magnets.

“Who picks first?”

“Me. Let’s go.” He says, grabbing hold of Lance’s wrist and dragging him away. Lance laughs, and gives just enough resistance to be annoying and force Keith to drag him, but not enough to truly be against it.

“Eager to lose, are we?”

“You’re going down, McClain.”

When they get to an intersection, he pauses, looking around, eyes narrowed as he searches for a game he’s pretty sure he saw earlier.

“What’re you looking for?” Lance asks after a moment. His smirk hasn’t toned down in the slightest. “I do work here, you know. If there’s any particular game you’re looking to get your ass kicked on, I’ll know where—“

“There.” Keith says, already starting forward, tugging Lance behind him.

Lance laughs when he realizes what Keith is going for. “Seriously?”

Keith lets go of him, setting his cup on the floor before shoving picking up a couple tokens and throwing a leg over the plastic motorcycle. “Afraid you’ll lose?” He asks, looking up at Lance with a cocked brow and a smirk of his own as he straddles the seat.

“Not on your life.” He says, taking up his position on the bike next to the one Keith has claimed. “I’ll have you know I’m a pro at this game.”

Keith rolls his eyes, inserting his tokens. “Are you going to say that about every game in here?”

“Well, I have spent a lot of time here.You’re ten years too early to beat me.”

“We’ll see.”

As Keith predicted, he wins the race, sliding into a comfortable first place. Lance isn’t too far behind, coming in a descent third out of twelve. He grumbles something about that particular bike being miscalibrated, to which Keith simply snorts his disbelief and rolls his eyes.

Lance drags him across the arcade to where the shooter games are, picking a zombie one and easily slotting in a token before picking up one of the plastic handguns.

Keith raises an eyebrow. “This is a co-op game.”

Lance is already navigating his way through the menu, not even looking at him. “Yeah, but the scores are calculated separately. Highest score wins.”

Keith shrugs, picking up the second gun. Fine.

He ends up holding his own, but Lance is leaps and bounds ahead of him. He stands back, taking up a legitimate shooting position and eyes flickering across the screen, trained and focused. His movements are precise and calculated, focus blazing in those narrowed blue eyes. And it... really shouldn’t be as hot as it is. Not with him holding a bright blue plastic gun that’s connected to the game by a thick black chord. But it is, and Keith blames the distraction for his own piss poor score.

kiss the boy

In the end, they’re neck ’n neck, and when Lance wins the last game, it ends up rounding out their score to a tie.

And thanks to the deal they agreed on earlier, that meant Lance wins it all. Which means the guy is going to be insufferable.

He groans as he steps away from the last game they played, an old version of Mortal Kombat. He scowls at it and the giant font that says “PLAYER TWO WINS.” He thought for sure he’d win this one, given all the hours he’s spent logged on similar games. He didn’t quite take into account all the hours Lance might have logged on the same games.

“Aw yeah, who’s the king?” Lance says, bumping Keith’s hip with his own. “Come on, Keith, who’s the king of games?”

“Lance—“ He says, meaning for it to be a warning, but Lance cuts him off.

“That’s right, me!.”

He does a little dance, one that involves far too much wiggling and makes him look entirely ridiculous. Keith rolls his eyes, scooping up his half empty cup and walking away.

“Whoa, there, Keith. Where’d you think you’re going?” Lance says, catching his arm and pulling him to a stop.

Keith half turns, first looking at where Lance’s hand grips his upper arm before following the trail of dark skin up to his face. “Uh, to find Pidge and Hunk?”

“Nope, not yet.” He turns in the opposite direction, using his grip on Keith’s arm to drag him along.

Keith finds his legs moving willingly after him, even as he frowns. “Where’re we going?”

“You’ll see.” Is all he says, flashing a mischievous grin.They end up in front of one of those photo booths, and Lance finally lets go of him to gesture grandly at it with both hands. “Ta-da!”

Keith gives it a good, hard once over before turning on his heel. “Nope.”

“Oh, come on!” Lance grabs hold of his wrist and tugs, making Keith stumble backwards. He grumbles and scowls, but otherwise lets Lance pull him inside the two person booth.

As soon as the curtain swings shut, Keith feels like he’s made a mistake. The booth is small. Like, really small. Small and cramped and their sides and arms and legs are pressed up against each other. Lance has already put their coin cups on the floor at their feet and is bent forward, fiddling with the photo booth settings.

“Why’re we doing this?” Keith asks, sounding disgruntled as his very real uncomfortableness seeps into his voice.

“Gotta capture the moment.”

“What moment?”

“Uh, the crowning of my kingship? My winning moment? Duh.”

“Don’t get a lot of those, huh?”

Lance glances at him over his shoulder, eyes narrowed. “Okay, rude.”

Keith can’t help it. He smirks, and that seems to be enough to get Lance to forgive him, turning back around to poke at the screen. Keith tries not to fidget as he waits.

“Alright,” He says, leaning back. There’s a smile on his face, but his hands are slapping at his knees, making Keith think that maybe this has got him a little nervous, too. “It’s gonna take four pictures. You ready?”

“No.”

Lance laughs. “Too bad.”

The screen starts counting down to the first picture, a little beep with every tick of the numbers. He crosses his arms over his chest and scowls, but Lance nudges him. “Come oooon, Keith.” He whines, laughter in his voice. Keith sighs, rolling his eyes, and complies. But only a little.

The sound of a shuttering camera is loud and obviously nothing more than a sound clip. The screen flashes and fades, leaving behind an image. Lance’s arm is behind him, putting up a set of bunny ears behind his head. He’s grinning triumphantly. Keith glares at the camera, lip curling upwards as he sticks out his tongue. He’s flipping off the camera.

They only get enough time to glance at the image before it’s gone, replaced by the counter once again.

“Come on, Keith.” Lance says, nudging him. “Smile this time.”

“I did.”

“Baring your teeth isn’t smiling!”

“Says who?”

“Me! Now smile!” He reaches out with both hands, one coming around the back of him, and pushes his index fingers into the corner’s of Keith’s mouth, pushing them up into his cheeks.

He’s startled enough that he doesn’t fight it. Instead, he laughs, a more genuine smile fighting to stay down beneath Lance’s fingers as he reaches out, capturing Lance’s face in his hand. He squeezes his cheeks between fingers and thumb, forcing him to make an expression akin to a fish face. He can’t smile, not when Keith has his face like this, but Keith can see the laughter crinkling the corners of his eyes, making the depths of his irises dance with mirth.

He thinks he might be in a similar state.

The numbers continue to count down, beeping getting louder in warning, and they both turn each other’s faces toward the camera. The light flashes, the shutter sound fills the booth, and then there they are on the screen, looking just as ridiculous as he feels.

It’s, admittedly, hilarious.

They both start laughing, grips on each other’s faces loosening but hands not quite pulling away. When he opens his eyes, turning to look at Lance, he’s startled by how close they are. Lance is turned toward him, too, eyes lifting to meet his. Their gazes lock as their laughter fades, leaving behind only soft panting and the shadows of smiles.

The arm around his back relaxes, lying across his shoulders. The other hand hovers in the air for a second before his knuckles are brushing across his chin, up his cheek, fingers lightly tucking away strands of hair behind his ear with a hesitant tenderness.

Keith is pretty sure he’s forgotten how to breathe, his lungs freezing and only able to draw in shallow breaths as his heartbeat jackhammers in his chest. Lance’s skin is warm beneath his fingertips. Without really thinking about it, his hand shifts, fingertips ghosting across his soft, soft skin, moving to cup his cheek in his palm.

Beep.

They’re close enough that Lance’s breath, short and shallow, ghosts across his cheeks. He feels the hitch in his breath more than he hears it.

Beep.

Lance’s fingers sink into his hair, so slowly and so softly that it sends shivers down his spine.

Beep.

His thumb moves of it’s own accord, caressing Lance’s cheekbone. How is his skin so soft?

Beep.

Their noses bump, and though they’re close enough that Keith is expecting the touch, it still sends electricity shooting through his veins, lighting a fire beneath his skin. The touch is so light, so hesitant. They pull apart, only to come back together, firmer this time, tilting their heads in just a way that their noses brush.

He think he feels Lance’s lips against him, so brief and so fleeting that he might have imagined it.

He hopes he had.

He hopes he hadn’t.

A flash. A shutter sound. The picture is displayed on the screen, but neither of them turn to look at it.

He doesn’t know who instigates it, who finally closes that distance, crosses that line, and quite frankly, he doesn’t care. All he knows is that he’s suddenly kissing Lance, and that’s all he wants to think about about.

It fills up his senses, Lance’s scent in his nose, his soft skin beneath Keith’s fingertips, the taste of his lips, the softness of his mouth even as he pushes more firmly against him, more insistently, lips groping for more before pulling away, head tilting to the side to get a better angle as he moves forward again, lips sliding together.

He’s not drunk this time. He can feel all of it. He’s fully aware of the way his heart pounds hard against his rib cage. He can hear the whistle of his breath, heavy as he exhales against Lance’s cheek. He can hear the ringing in his ears as blood pumps far too fast, far too quickly. He can feel every little detail in Lance’s lips. He can feel that they’re a little thicker than his own. He can feel the beginnings of stubble not quite formed on his upper lip and around his chin. He can feel that his lips aren’t chapped at all despite the fact that Keith is sure that his own are.

They’re eager and firm and demanding. They’re soft and pliant and sweet.

He’s not drunk this time, but holy fuck does he feel intoxicated.

There’s a spark of something in his chest, a brief panic that tightens his chest and makes his stomach roll. There’s a voice in the back of his mind, telling him to stop, slow down, think about this. All of it is easily drowned out by the flood of LanceLanceLance.

In that moment, he doesn’t care about logical thinking. He doesn’t care about any repercussions. He doesn’t care what he should and shouldn’t be doing. He doesn’t care, doesn’t care, doesn’t care. All he knows is he wants more.

More.

More.

Shutter sound. Flash of light on the back of his closed eyelids. Hell, he hadn’t even heard the beeping this time. He thinks about the fact that there’s now photographic evidence of this moment, and that’s enough to nearly kill the mood, but then he lightly sinks his teeth into Lance’s bottom lip and tugs and he fucking moans, low and soft and—

Fuck it. He doesn’t care anymore.

He pulls away, ignoring the soft whine that escapes Lance as he leans forward, chasing after him. His eyes crack open, a worried pinch between his brows before they’re blowing wide as Keith moves. He shoves Lance back in the seat, shifting awkwardly and impatiently until he’s straddling Lance’s lap, knees on either side of his thighs and hips.

Lance stares at him, open mouthed and gawking, eyes wide and hands hovering uncertain. Keith doesn’t give him time to say anything stupid and ruin the moment. He wraps his arms around his neck, burying fingers in his head and tilting his head back as he swoops in to reclaim his mouth.

He takes advantage of Lance’s surprise to lick into his mouth. Lance only hesitates for a moment before his eyes are fluttering closed, his hands coming down on Keith’s hips, fingers slipping beneath the hem of his shirt to rest on bare skin, pushing back into the kiss, giving as good as he gets. He kisses back with just as much sudden fervor and hunger as Keith feels himself, and it only sparks his own desire to spiral further, heat burning bright in his veins, electricity beneath his skin, building and burning.

Their kissing is sloppy and uncoordinated, lips and hands unfamiliar but oh so willing to learn. It’s not the best kiss he’s ever had, but he doesn’t give a shit. He’s enjoying it all the same.

Too bad his strategy of keeping Lance from saying anything stupid doesn’t work.

“Holy shit,” He mumbles, lips moving beneath Keith’s. “Holy fuck.” He sounds breathless, but clearly not breathless enough.

“Lance, shut up.” He growls, biting down on his lip again, a little more sharply this time. He gasps, inhaling sharply and letting it out in a long, low moan. His fingers tighten before relaxing, hands getting braver by the second, inching up and down his sides. Up, down, slipping beneath his shirt, up again, down to his hips, down his thighs, back up.

“Holy fuck, we’re making out—“ He says, gasping a little as he pulls back to breathe. He doesn’t go far, merely tilting his head to the side.

Keith isn’t done with him though, not ready to stop. He slides his lips down, along his jaw, reaching his ear and kissing just below it. He feels Lance shutter beneath him before he starts trailing open mouthed kisses down his neck. “Yeah,” He says simply, ignoring how he sounds just as breathless.

Again.”

“Yup.” He bites at his collarbone before licking his way back up the column of his neck. His head tilts to the side, giving Keith access to that tight, soft, deliciously dark skin.

“Holy fuc— we’re sober this— you’re not drunk, right?” He’s rambling. Keith wants him to stop, enjoy the moment, be quiet for once in his goddamn life. At the same time, he doesn’t. Keep talking. Let him hear how broken he sounds, let him know that Lance is just as affected by this as he is.

He lifts his head to look at him. Their noses bump, breaths intermingling. Lance’s eyes are half-lidded and dark, pupils blown wide. Keith licks his lips, trying to find his voice, and he sees the way Lance’s eyes flicker down at the movement before snapping back up.

“Do you wanna stop?” He asks, voice low, cautious, hesitant, reluctant. He’s offering Lance an out, a way to stop this before it gets to far, because Keith isn’t sure he can do that himself.

Lance doesn’t hesitate. “Fuck no,” He says, though it’s more of a sigh than anything. His eyes search Keith’s. “Do you?” He sounds small. Keith doesn’t like when he sounds small.

Keith snorts, soft and short. “If I did, do you think I’d be in your lap?”

A smile cracks his lips then, chasing away the shadows. “Fair enough.”

He leans forward and captures Keith’s lips again, and he’s perfectly fine with that. A hand slips up the back of his shirt, fingers surprisingly gentle as they explore the bumps of his spine, like he’s something fragile that just might break. One of his hands curls fingers into Lance’s hair, tilting his head back further and swallowing down the resulting gasp. His other hand grips at the back of Lance’s shirt, that goddamn polo, fabric clutched tightly in his grasp.

“It doesn’t have to mean anything, right?” Lance whispers between the bob of their lips, the push and pull, forward and back. It sounds like he’s trying to convince himself.

Either way, relief floods him, relief that he hadn’t known he needed to feel. A ball of tension he hadn’t recognized in his fervor melts, relaxing his shoulders and the muscles in his stomach. He doesn’t know what this means, and he doesn’t know what he wants it to mean. He doesn’t want to think about that right now, and that’s okay. Like Lance said, and like he said last time this happened: it doesn’t have to mean anything.

It doesn’t have to if they don’t want it to.

They can do what they want, go with the moment, no strings attached, no pestering thoughts and worries to taint the moment.

He should probably be worried, but he doesn’t care. Not right now. Now with Lance’s lips, hungry and pliant beneath his own. Now with the way Lance licks into his mouth, exploring in a way that’s pleasantly demanding, but falling back the moment Keith pushes forward to do the same. Push and pull. Give and take. Ebb and flow.

It doesn’t have to mean anything. It doesn’t have to mean any more than these sensations that he’s chasing. The relief is more intoxicating than the taste of Lance’s lips, and he finds that without that hovering tension, he has no reason to hold back. His hips rock forward before falling back, and he revels in Lance’s surprised gasp, in the way those hands clutch at him. He does it again, and again, trying to commit the feeling of Lance’s lips to memory.

“It doesn’t have to mean anything.” He repeats between broken breaths, giving Lance the assurance he had given him.

“Just two dudes being dudes?”

“Lance—“

“Bros being bros?”

Stut up.”

“Make me.”

He does. And he does a thorough job of it.

“Lance?” Hunk’s voice breaks through their little bubble of solitude.

They both freeze, Lance going stiff as a board beneath him, lips suddenly still as stone. He opens his eyes to find Lance’s, wide in panic and staring right at him. All the sounds from the arcade come flooding back: voices, the pings and music and voices from all the various machines, the distant crash of bowling pins from somewhere above, the soft jingle chiming coming from the photo booth screen, the radio playing distant but distinct.

“Keith? Lance!” Hunk calls, closer now.

“Where the fuck are you guys?” Pidge’s voice carries to them

“Pidge, you can’t just say fuck in a place where kids are!”

You just did.”

“Oh, fuc— I mean! Shit— shoot, ugh.”

If they stay here, they’ll be caught. He knows it, and judging from the way Lance tenses, he knows it, too. They’ll come around the corner and see Lance’s fucking khaki’s beneath the short curtain of the booth, pull it back, and find Keith fucking straddling his lap.

Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck.

Then Lance is suddenly shifting him off to the side, slipping out from under him, pulling back the curtain on the opposite side from where they’re hearing their friends’ voices. He steps out, holding the curtain back as he stretches a hand out to Keith. He doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t need to.

Keith takes his hand, and Lance pulls him out of the booth. They get two hurried steps away before Keith is tugging him to a stop.

“What’re you doing?” Lance hisses, turning back to look at him. He tugs on Keith’s hand again, urging him onward.

Keith remains where he is. “The pictures.” He says, gesturing to the booth.

“Leave ‘em.”

“Pidge and Hunk will see them.”

“They already know we’ve kissed before.”

“Okay, first of all, fuck you for telling them. Second of all, do you want them to know we did it again?”

He blanches a little at that. “... No.”

Keith lets go of his hand, darting back to the booth and reaching out from behind the curtain on the other side, snatching up the two strips of printed photos waiting innocently in the little tray. He doesn’t look at them before shoving them into his pocket and hurrying back to Lance. He’s already holding his hand out again when Keith returns, and he takes it without hesitation.

Lance then leads him through the arcade, practically running and dragging Keith behind him. He tries to keep up, but he feels like he can’t get enough air to his lungs and his feet are strangely wobbly, causing him to stumble after Lance.

He doesn’t really pay attention to where they’re going. They stumble along the aisles, machines and lights flashing past them, chasing after the neon designs on the midnight carpet. When Lance finally stops moving, Keith doesn’t register it at first, running into him from behind. They stumble, and laugh, and hold onto arms to keep the other from falling over. They’re breathless, excitement and adrenaline buzzing in the air around them.

Lance has dragged them somewhere off to the side, deep within the maze of the arcade. They’re tucked into the space between lesser used machines, backed up into the corner, walls and games caging them in. They can’t see anyone, and he’s willing to bet no one can see them.

“I can’t believe we’re running from our friends.” Lance says, grin spreading his lips.

Keith returns the smile, but doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t need to. He knows why they ran from their friends, and he knows Lance does too.

It’s in their mused hair and flushed cheeks. It’s in the way Lance licks his lips, half lidded eyes dropping to Keith’s lips before flickering back up to his eyes. It’s in the way Keith steps forward and Lance backs up until his back hits the wall, not running but leading. It’s in the way Lance’s hands slide up his chest to wrap his arms around Keith’s neck. It’s in the way Keith’s hands find his hips, his waist, tugging his polo free before slipping his hands beneath his shirt to find warm, soft, bare skin. It’s in the way he presses in close and pins Lance to the wall with his body. It’s in the way Lance’s leg hitches up, latching around his hip. It’s in the way Keith’s hand runs down his thigh.

It’s in the way Lance licks Keith’s bottom lip. In the way Keith opens up immediately. In the way they’re suddenly kissing again, slower this time but no less hungry. More precise, easier, more comfortable, like they’re learning more and more about each other and adjusting accordingly.

Time loses meaning, nestled the way they are in the corner, away from prying eyes, surrounded in a nest of neon, blanketed in black lights, packed in with the beeping and music of games no one plays. He doesn’t know how long they kiss. He only knows sensation. He knows their mouths and chins are wet, he knows his lips will probably be sore. He knows he can’t remember the last time he could breathe properly. He knows he’s straining against his tight jeans. He knows Lance is warm against him, pressed firmly against the wall, so warm, so inviting.

“I could have sworn I saw them come this way...”

They both freeze at the sound of Hunk’s voice, breaking apart at the mouth, but bodies unmoving.

Fuck.” He swears under his breath, wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand. He glances over his shoulder, seeing nothing around the machines blocking out most of the arcade.

“They won’t find us here.” Lance whispers, voice a little too loud for comfort. “No one ever comes back far enough to actually see this spot. All the games back here are the unpopular outdated ones—“

“They will if you don’t shut up.” He hisses.

Lance’s lips, swollen and cherry red and glistening, curve into a cocky smirk. His fingers play with the hair at the nape of Keith’s neck. “Why don’t you make me—“ His voice is coy, deep, rumbling, and sends a shutter straight through him, but it’s not what they need at the moment.

Keith slaps a hand over his mouth to cut him off and shut him up. Lance startles, eyes widening for a moment before narrowing into a glare, letting Keith know this was not what he had in mind. Too bad.

“Are you sure?” Pidge’s voice drifts back to them. They’re probably a good distance away, but Keith feels like he can hear their voice loud and clear. “I didn’t see anything.”

“I thought I saw Lance...”

“It could’ve just been another employee.”

“I guess... but I could’ve sworn...”

Lance suddenly rolls his hips forward, rocking them against Keith’s. The movement is fluid, a roll of his body so calculated, so slow, so devastatingly precise. Keith can clearly feel him pressing firm against the material of those goddamn tight ass khakis.

Keith’s spine straightens, and he has to bite back a moan. Before he can fully recover, Lance is rolling his hips again. Keith jerks forward, burying his face in the crook of Lance’s neck, hand still firmly pressed to Lance’s mouth as he exhales a shaky breath against the skin of his neck.

“Don’t worry about it. Those two idiots are probably still having their contest or whatever. They’ll find us when they’re done.” He hears Pidge say.

“Aren’t you worried about them?”

“Nope. How much trouble can they get into in the middle of the day in a public arcade? Come on, I’ve still got half my tokens and I wanna get some tickets.”

Lance rolls his hips again, and again, a steady movement building, subtle and slow but far, far too effective. Keith lets out the whisper of a groan, nipping at the slope of Lance’s neck as he finds his own hips reacting, rolling to meet him. “Fuck...” He breathes out.

He feels Lance chuckle low in his throat.

“Fine,” Hunk says. “But I’m not responsible if they burn down the arcade.”

Their voices fade away, and Keith relaxes against Lance.

He lifts his head, glaring at him, lips pursed in a small frown. His hand still covers Lance’s mouth, but he can see the smile in the lift of his cheeks, in the mirth dancing in his eyes. Those fucking blue, blue eyes.

“You,” He hisses accusingly. “Are a fucking tease.”

He finally moves his hands, and sure enough, Lance is smiling. It’s a lopsided half smirk, cocky and confident despite the disheveled state of him, that the sight of it does things to Keith’s insides. “Shut up and kiss me, Charlie Sheen.”

“Don’t fucking call me mullet names when we’re making out.” He growls against Lance’s lips, nipping at them playfully just to draw sounds out of him.

“We’re not making out if you’re talking.” He says, coy, flirtatious. It’s more than Keith can handle, so he shuts him up.

They barely get into it again before a throat clears loudly nearby. It startles them both, and they jump apart. Keith leaps away, and Lance nearly falls over when he’s no longer being pinned to the wall. They both whip around and find themselves gaping at the guy standing between two machines, staring at them with a bored expression. He’s wearing the same uniform as Lance.

“Dude, I know it’s your first time in the make out corner and all, but your break has been over for nearly ten minutes, and Theresa is getting pissy.”

“Shit, fuck, okay,” He says, haphazardly attempting to shove his shirt back into his pants. “I’ll be right there.”

The guy just shrugs and walks off, like he hadn’t just caught the two of them dry humping against the wall in a corner of his fucking work place.

Keith turns to Lance, one eyebrow raised as he runs his fingers through his hair, trying to tame the mess that he knows Lance has made of it. “The make out corner?”

Lance is already flushed, but Keith gets the pleasure of seeing him redden even more, eyes flickering to him before quickly looking away. “Oh, uh, yeah. That’s what we call this corner. It’s the only private place where people and cameras can’t see you, so... yeah.”

“I see.”

“Shut the fuck up, Keith.”

“I didn’t say anything.” But he’s grinning from ear to ear and he knows it.

“Whatever, I gotta get back to work.” He says, shuffling backward awkwardly, unable to hold eye contact.

“Yeah.”

“So... yeah.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll... see you later?”

“Yeah.”

“No weirdness?” He asks, looking up at him through his lashes, biting his reddened bottom lip, the same one Keith had been biting only moments before. His voice is small, hesitant.

“No weirdness.” Keith promises, firmer, filled with conviction, which he hopes is comforting.

It seems to do the trick. Lance brightens immediately, straightening as he skips back a few steps. “Cool, cool. Later, Keith!”

He lifts a hand to wave, and Keith lifts one in response. Then Lance is turning and sprinting away. Left alone, the bright lights and sounds and neon are no longer as comforting, but they also don’t hold the same ominous air they had earlier either. Energy still hums through his veins, excitement like a drug in his system. He thinks about Lance working at the prize counter, of the two half full cups of tokens back at the photo booth, of all the games he knows will give the most tickets.

A small smirk playing across his lips, he starts off into the maze of the arcade, purpose in his steps.

 


 

Lance is, admittedly, a mess. A hot fucking mess. He keeps tripping over his words, tripping over his own feet, dropping boxes, knocking over rows of prizes. And it’s all because of Keith. Stupid Keith with his stupidly hot mouth and hot body, warm and firm and soft and pushing him against the wall, pushing that hot wet tongue into his mouth—

Fuck.

Fuckfuckfuck.

He’s gotta stop daydreaming, or he’s gonna have a serious problem on his hands. Or in his pants. Goddammit. This is gonna be the longest shift of his life.

He’s only been back at work for an hour and a half (he knows, he’s been staring at the clock, watching it pass achingly slow), when his friends approach the counter, ticket receipts in their hands. He grins as he takes them, chatting idly and sincerely hoping they don’t notice how frazzled he is. Keith hangs behind Pidge and Hunk, silent as ever, eyes watching his every move. He drops Pidge’s chosen prizes twice and nearly knocks down a neatly stacked pile of toy cars when he reaches for the plastic lion that Hunk wants.

They say their goodbyes, tell him to stop by after his shift for dinner. They turn away, walking back toward the stairs.

And then he’s left with Keith.

Keith hands him his receipt, and Lance’s eyes bulge at the number. “Holy crow,” He whistles, impressed. “How did you get so many?”

He shrugs. “You left half of your tokens. Plus Pidge taught me the art of grinding tickets a long time ago.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” He steps back, gesturing to the wall behind him. “So what’ll it be?”

Keith’s eyes roam over the wall, down through the long glass counter. He takes his time, and Lance watches him, admiring the curve of his nose, the high cheekbones, the swell of his lips, just a little more plump than they usually are. He did that, and that sends a shiver through him.

“This one,” Keith says, tapping the glass.

Lance walks over to where he’s standing, peering down through the glass. He lifts his gaze, eyebrow raised. “Seriously?”

Keith nods once, leaning back and shoving his hands in his pockets. “Yup.”

“That’s like... most of your tickets?” Despite the fact that Keith had an impressive amount, the prizes are priced high. Far too high for the cheap plastic bobbles that they are, but hey, that’s the nature of arcades.

Keith just nods again before gesturing to where the candy is kept. “And a couple of those.”

“Alright,” He says slowly, opening up the back of the counter to retrieve the chosen prizes. He sets three lollipops on the counter and one gaudy silver tiara with a shit ton of plastic blue gems imbedded into it. He eyes the prize, eyebrows raised. “Why the hell do you want this—“

He doesn’t get to finish his question. Keith reaches forward and takes it, lifting it into the air and nestling it atop Lance’s head.

He just stares forward, lips parted in surprise and eyes wide. Keith is close, but not nearly as close as he was before. Not as close as he wants him to be again.

He cocks his head to the side as he steps away, smirk curving his lips as he swipes the lollipops off the counter. He shoves two in his pocket before ripping the wrapping off the third, shoving the bright red candy into his mouth. Lance watches, unabashed and far too intent on how it colors Keith’s already red lips.

He pulls out the candy with a pop, taking several slow steps backwards. “Long live the king.” He says, playful, teasing, smirk in place. Then he spins around on his heel, striding off after Pidge and Hunk, and Lance is left gaping, eyes fixated on his back.

kiss the boy

Can you feel it?
Now it’s coming back,
We can steal it.
If we bridge this gap,
I can see you,
Through the curtains of the waterfall.

The music plays through the speakers above, cutting through the ringing in his ears. Keith disappears up the stairs, and Lance is left alone, but he’s buzzing, alive with energy, unchecked and excited, dancing across his skin.

When I lost it,
Yeah you held my hand,
But I tossed it,
Didn’t understand,
You were waiting,
As I dove into the waterfall.

He plucks the tiara off his head, holding it in both hands as he stares down at it. It’s cheap, it’s plastic, the gems are dull and barely reflect any light, but their color is still brilliantly blue. It’s big and gaudy, costs far too many tickets for it’s worth, but it’s his now. Keith gave it to him.

So say Geronimo!
Say Geronimo!
Say Geronimo!
Say Geronimo!

His head snaps up, the chorus filling his ears, swirling around his mind, calling out to the energy humming through his veins, tugging on his limbs like strings, moving him, uncontrollable, adrenaline finding the chords, the beat, the vibe, latching onto it and using it as a guide, shifting something in his chest— This! This is it! The feeling! The vibe! IT!

He puts the tiara back on his head, fully intent on wearing it for the rest of his shift, and fumbles to get his phone out of his pocket. His fingers shake with built up energy, excitement, adrenaline, but he quickly finds Keith’s contact information, shooting him a quick message.

vive la lance: I FOUND IT! I FUCKING FOUND IT
fuck off: found what?
vive la lance: OUR REGIONALS SONG
vive la lance: I FOUND IT
fuck off: link me
vive la lance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL_EXAyGCkw
vive la lance: ….
vive la lance: ………
vive la lance: weLL??
vive la lance: cmon keith youre killin me
fuck off: I like it
vive la lance: yeAH??
fuck off: yeah
vive la lance: YEAH??
fuck off: yeah, let’s do it
vive la lance: fuck yes!