The four days between the lesson with Keith and the Thursday that they were going out both flew by and dragged slower than a sloth making its way across a road. Lance flip-flopped between ecstatic excitement and nauseating anxiety on a constant basis. Before he could really process it properly it was five-thirty in the afternoon on Thursday with Hunk on a video call as Lance rummaged through his closet.
“Dude, why are you so worked up?”
“I don’t know, Hunk!” Lance whined, pulling a t-shirt over his head and tossing it into the ‘no’ pile. “I’ve been asking myself that since I flipping asked him out.”
“This isn’t like last time, where it was a ‘not-date’, right? Like you’re certain its a date-date?”
“Well, I used the words ‘Can I take you out somewhere’ and Keith replied with ‘okay I’ll go out with you' and he used the phrase, ‘it’s a date’.” Lance peered at a black button up, considering it for a moment before tossing it aside as well.
“But didn’t you say those exact same words last time?”
“Yeah, but I also said that was a joke. Keith was the one who said it this time and he didn’t say he was kidding… Oh my god, what if its a not-date and I’m freaking out over nothing?!”
Hunk shook his head, a playful smile at his lips. “Lance, you’re fine. What are you thinking of wearing?”
“Well, I’m sticking with my black skinny jeans, but I can’t decide on a shirt.”
From somewhere in the background Lance could hear Shay talking with Hunk but wasn’t able to make out what she had been saying.
“What’s Shay saying?”
“She says to try the blue button up? The one you save for special occasions?”
“Oooh! Good call, Shay! Shit, where did I put it?”
“It’s not in your closet?”
Lance peered around his room and made his way over to a pile of laundry. “Hunk, my entire room is basically a closet. You know this.”
Hunk narrowed his eyes at Lance. “Although I am not there, I refuse to let you go out on a date wearing a rumpled shirt.”
Lance checked in his usual spots: The back of his desk chair, the pile of maybe-clean-maybe-dirty laundry in the corner, his actual laundry hamper and the pile of clean laundry beside the clothes airer he kept in the living space.
“It’ll be fiiiine. I’ll let you know when I find it.”
“Are you sure it’s not in the closet? I don’t think you’ve worn it recently. I think the gala dinner from the last competition was the last time you wore it.”
Lance looked in his closet again, moving shirts and trousers out of the way to look properly rather than just sweeping his gaze across the array of colours. “Found it!”
“That’s great, Lance. Uhhh, I don’t mean to freak you out, but Shay’s just said that it’s like six fifteen…don’t you have to go soon?”
“You’re lying. I haven’t been trying to choose an outfit for forty-five minutes.” Hunk winced at the ungodly screech Lance let out when he looked at the time. “I’m gonna be late! Gotta go, Hunk! I still need to finish getting ready!”
Hunk chuckled good-naturedly. “You’ll do fine, man. Let me know how you go, ok?”
Lance hurried into the bathroom to finish washing his face and getting his hair ready. He took a deep breath as he buttoned up his shirt and looked over his appearance nervously in the mirror. Maybe he ought to have chosen a different shirt? Was it too over the top? He spritzed on some cologne and absentmindedly rolled his sleeves up, showing off his forearms. Lance peered at his collection of shoes, wondering if he should wear his shiny black shoes or wear something a bit more comfortable-looking. Considering what he had planned for the evening, Lance decided to go with his dancing shoes. Giving himself one last glance over in the mirror, Lance shot finger guns at his reflection, smiling brightly before collecting his keys and wallet and leaving his apartment.
Lance had asked Keith to meet him a block away from the actual venue because he didn’t want to risk Keith figuring out exactly where they were going and then deciding to just book it on out of there or — even worse — not showing up at all. It was one of Lance’s favourite places to go and although he was certain that Keith would have a good time, trying to convince him of that fact would be a whole other ordeal entirely. After all, Keith had some hangups with the more rhythmic of the latin dances.
Lance pulled up into the public car park, shooting a text to Keith to say that he had arrived and was making his way to the nearby cafe that he had chosen as their meeting spot. He received a reply almost instantly.
I’m here too. See you in a few.
He took a breath to calm his jittery nerves and headed across the road to the bustling cafe. He spotted Keith at the back of the cafe, gently sipping at a steaming cup of something.
“Okay, Lance. You can do this...”
Lance bit back a sound as Keith’s gaze met his and waved him over to the table. Keith’s usual red and white jacket was missing and instead he had a black leather jacket draped over his shoulders and a dark red t-shirt hugging his torso. Lance didn’t need to be able to see what pants Keith was wearing to know they’d probably look just as good as the rest of him. Lance pulled out a chair opposite Keith and offered him a smile.
“Hey. Sorry, I went ahead and ordered something,” Keith apologised, motioning to the teacup sitting in front him him. "It was kinda cold on the bike tonight.”
“Man, you don’t need to apologise. It’s fine.”
“I’m almost done but did you want to order anything?”
Lance shook his head. “Nah, I’ll wait to order something at the next spot we’re heading to.”
Keith took a sip of his tea. “Can you tell me where we’re going now? I mean, we’re basically there.”
“Nope,” Lance grinned. “You’ll find out when we actually get there.”
Lance led Keith through the busy crowd of people bustling down the sidewalk. For a Thursday, there were quite the number of people all headed in the same direction and Keith and Lance found themselves caught up in the flow. At one point, Lance reached out, grabbing Keith by his jacket and tugging him to the side of the path.
“Okay, so…now that we’re here…I’ve kinda wondered if this really was such a good idea.”
Keith tilted his head quizzically to the side. He watched Lance fidget, blue eyes not resting on Keith’s face for too long before flitting away. “What’s wrong?”
“I mean, I love it here, but I’m not so sure that you will…so…if you really aren’t having a good time, we can call it a night ok? Or we can find somewhere else to go, maybe grab a late dinner out or something.”
“Lance, what are you talking about?”
Lance offered Keith one of his bright smiles that quirked up slightly higher on one side and gestured to the closed doors of the establishment. He wrapped one arm around Keith’s shoulders, ushering him closer to the entrance.
“Welcome to Latin night!” Lance announced as he pushed open the door.
He pulled Keith inside to where the music suddenly swelled, the tell tale beat and instruments that frequented Lance’s latin dance playlist filling the air. The atmosphere was bustling in a way that felt completely different to the lounge that Keith had been to with Allura and Shiro a few times. The venue wasn’t terribly large and the seating was more suited for larger groups at tables rather than smaller groups in lounge chairs. Although the music was loud, every so often rambunctious bursts of laughter could be heard coming from the groups that were sitting and drinking at the tables, plates of food being passed around as people came and went from the dance floor. The dance space was bigger than any Keith had seen and it was packed with pairs and groups. There were young and old people dancing; Keith could hardly believe how spritely one elderly pair looked as they performed their salsa and a small group of children were haphazardly dancing a cha-cha across the floor. Keith found his attention dragged away as Lance patted him on the shoulder, gently guiding him over to the bar.
“I figure you might wanna find a table and sit for a bit?”
Keith nodded and followed Lance up to the bar. Considering that both men were driving, they each ordered a non-alcoholic beverage each, laughing when it became apparent that they had ordered the same thing.
“I would have thought you’d be more into the flavoured sodas considering what you can be like with your coffee,” Keith commented when the barkeep set down two glasses of soda and lime on the bench.
“You’d think that, but no. Not really. If I’m not drinking fruity cocktails, it’s either soda and lime or lime or lemon, lime and bitters for me.”
Keith lifted his glass and took a sip. “I usually have vodka or cider but since I’m driving tonight, I figure I’ll just stick with this. Should we find a table?”
Lance nodded across the floor where a few vacant tables were located and nudged Keith in the arm with an elbow. “Over that way.”
Lance sipped at his drink as he and Keith made their way to the table. His heart was fluttery and his stomach kept doing these weird little somersaults every time he remembered that this was a date. An actual, proper date. With Keith. God, he hoped that Keith would enjoy himself once they’d both settled.
“So!” Lance began, sliding into a chair. His voice caught in his throat as he glanced to Keith, looking out over the dance floor, one hand holding the straw steady as he lifted his drink and took a sip. Lance could see Keith’s gaze sweep over the dancers, lingering for a few moments on a pair of girls dancing together before looking to a grandfather teaching his granddaughter how to dance. “As you can probably see, this isn’t just somewhere that professionals go. It’s pretty casual here, and they have the best empanadas. They do all kinds of events here too. They often have like charity events and dance comps and stuff. Twice a month they have like a kids night, which is when most of the families come to just hang out and have fun. It can get pretty crazy cos there’s so many people. They’ll sometimes have Rainbow events too, which is pretty neat. Not a lot of places do those.”
“Rainbow events?” Keith asked, resting his chin in his hand. He could tell Lance was nervous; the babbling was a dead giveaway but it meant that Keith didn’t need to try and fill any awkward silences, so he was more than happy for Lance to talk. Keith actually quite enjoyed it.
“Yeah, they’re just something fun where queer people can meet up and hang out and have a good time.”
“Ever been to one?”
“Surprisingly, no,” Lance chuckled. “Younger me was too closeted to come along, even though I was super intrigued.”
“What about older you?” Keith asked, noticing how Lance’s fingers tapped the side of his glass in time with the music.
Lance shrugged. “Older me just kept coming up with excuses not to go.”
Keith chewed on the straw, slightly nervous as he looked out over the dance floor again. He could tell just from watching from where he was that no one cared if you could salsa or not. There were people being shown the steps by their partners all over the place and every one of them had a beaming smile as they stumbled through the steps and timing.
“We’ll take it easy, promise,” Lance said, noticing Keith's anxiety. He reached out to give Keith’s hand a gentle squeeze before standing from the table. “Ready to be swept off your feet?”
Keith snorted as he shook his head, taking Lance’s hand to be lead to the dance floor.
“You can try, Lance.”
True to his word, Lance took things easily, constantly checking in to see how Keith was doing. Despite the anxiety that had clouded his mind when first entering the club, Keith was having a good time learning to salsa. The fact that others were sheer beginners as well helped to settle his nerves and dancing with Lance was always a pleasure. Lance hadn’t asked for Keith’s preference this time knowing that his partner would be more comfortable leading, and once Keith had managed to get the steps down, added in some extra flare, laughing gleefully at the expression on Keith’s face.
Outside of their usual class and wedding rehearsals, there was something different about the way they danced. It was looser, not quite as structured, with grins and laughter when someone stumbled or added in an extra turn. At some point, Keith realised that he was actually doing a salsa, with the right steps and hip sway and arm movements. There was something about the atmosphere, about the easy smile and fluid grace that Lance danced with that made Keith relax. The time flew by and the pair spent more time on the dance floor than they did sitting at a table or standing at the bar. Keith’s cheeks hurt from how much he was laughing and smiling and he could genuinely say that he had a fantastic time.
They left the club at eleven, both having work the next day. As they made their way through the street, their arms brushed against one another, neither quite plucking up the courage to take the other’s hand.
“You know those Rainbow events you mentioned earlier?” Keith asked when they arrived at the cafe they met at, knowing that this would be the point that they part ways.
“Yeah, what about them?”
Keith shoved his hands in his jacket pockets. “Would…would you want to go to the next one?”
“I guess I could drag Hunk…I might be able to bribe Pidge,” Lance replied after a moment of thought.
“Ah, I meant with me… would you want to go to the next Rainbow event with me.”
Lance raised an eyebrow. “Are you asking me out on a second date, Mullet?”
“But you hate latin dancing?”
Keith gave Lance a small smile. “So? It’s something you like and it’s an event that you’re interested in going to. So…even if latin dancing isn’t really my favourite, I can still go with you.”
Lance didn’t look convinced.
“I had a great time tonight, Lance. So, I’d really like it if we could go to the next Rainbow event at the club together.”
Lance grinned at that and leaned back, arms crossed over his chest. “Aww, that’s so sweet! Did I finally manage to sweep you off your feet?”
“Not quite,” Keith laughed.
“I’m glad you had a great time, Keith. I’ll see you in class on the weekend?”
Keith raised his hand in farewell. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
Lance’s smile was bright as he turned to head to where he had parked the car. Keith watched for a second, hoping that perhaps Lance might turn around before he too made his way to where his bike was. Keith completely missed the over the shoulder look that Lance had cast his way. The distance between them grew as they walked down the road, each of them with private smiles on their lips and a pinkness to their cheeks as they replayed the night’s events over in their minds.