Chapter 1: He's An Experience
Keith stood in front of the door to the dance studio, his bag slung over one shoulder as he looked up at the building with trepidation. Like most of the buildings in the city, it wasn’t anything flashy. The building looked a little old; the exterior definitely needed some work and looked to be at least thirty years old. The entry for the studio was easy to miss from the street; Keith had already walked past it twice before noticing the sign hanging in one of the second storey windows: Altea Dance Studios.
His stomach did flip-flops and tumble-turns as he entered the building and made his way through the foyer to the elevator. The linoleum tiles were peeling up in a few spots, one of the fluorescent lights continually flickered like it was from a horror movie and the walls were in desperate need of a new paint job. Keith briefly thought to himself that at least the interior and exterior of the building matched. He pushed the button for the elevator and waited.
The elevator eventually clanged to a stop as the doors shakily pulled open. Keith cautiously glanced into the tiny box, wondering if the thing was safe and if he should just take the stairs instead. Against his better judgement, Keith stepped into the dingy lift to go up to level two. He nervously picked at tiny balls of lint on the lining of his jacket pockets as the lift slowly ascended making heart-stopping grating noises every so often that made him think that the cables would snap at any second.
How had Shiro talked him into doing this?
Oh, right. The wedding.
It was still quite some time off but there were certain things that the Best Man needed to do: organise the bucks party, embarrass the groom with a speech about all the stupid and adorable things he had done when dating his bride and actually dance at the wedding.
Keith was of two minds about the fact that Shiro and his finacée Allura were planning on choreographing an amazing first dance that included the groomspeople and bridal party. On the one hand, it was bound to look amazing; Shiro, Allura and their friends were all exceptional dancers. On the other hand, because everyone in the bridal party were professional or at the very least competitive amateur ballroom dancers, it meant that Keith wouldn’t be able to get away with the good old ‘high school shuffle’.
Shiro refused to let him be left out of the first dance because he had a Best Man without any dancing skills and to be honest, Keith’s pride refused to allow him to look like a duck with two left feet waddling on the dance floor with his poor unfortunate partner.
The elevator slowed to a halt on the second floor and Keith hastily stepped out, vowing to never again take a ride in the terrifying thing. The doors to the dance studio were frosted glass but Keith could just make out a few blurred silhouettes through them as he approached. He was a little early still and debated on whether he should mill about outside or if he should just head on in and make the inevitable small talk with whomever else turned up early. Taking a breath to calm his nerves, Keith pushed open the door.
The studio was full of natural light spilling in from the large windows on three sides of the large room making it bright and welcoming. The floors were made of a dark hardwood, polished to a perfect shine though it was easy to tell which parts of the floor were used more frequently. The ceilings were high, making the room seem even larger than it was. As Keith looked around the large open space, he realised that it was the sort of room that was almost begging for someone to leap and bound across it with their arms held out wide. It was absolutely perfect for dancing and Keith fought down the urge to leap across the floor as he made his way to a small desk by the door.
“Well, hi!” came a cheery voice. “You’re here for the private class at nine?”
Keith adjusted his bag. “Um, yeah. I’m Keith. Keith Kogane?”
“It’s great to meet you, Keith. I’m Hunk. Now, let’s see...” Hunk clicked around on the computer for a few seconds. “Ah, yep, there you are. Oh! You’re that Keith? Shiro mentioned that his little bro was going to be having some classes. Awesome! Your instructor isn’t here just yet, so take a seat anywhere you like.”
Keith groaned. “I can’t believe Shiro mentioned that...”
Hunk grinned. “He’s just looking out for you.”
Keith made his way over to a seat not too far from the desk and sat down, watching the pair of dancers who were currently occupying the floor. It was obvious that they were students, their steps were a little too cautious as they practiced. Keith wondered if they were getting lessons for a wedding or something. Their instructor was an overly cheerful fellow, with the most ridiculous moustache that Keith had ever seen. It was so ridiculous that Keith was actually impressed that the man somehow made it work. He seemed to have endless patience and would show the couple the same move time after time until they were starting to get it right. The first time they had managed to do the step without any extra instruction or adjustment from him, he gave the pair a bright smile and a clap on the shoulder.
“That was excellent! You’ll be tearing up the dance floors in no time! Not literally of course.”
Keith decided in the ten minutes he had spent watching the couple and their instructor that he seemed like a nice enough guy. He’d heard stories about the co-owner of Altea Dance Studios, Coran, but the stories didn’t really do him any justice. Although it was reassuring to know that everyone here so far seemed nice, Keith still felt like he was making one of the stupidest decisions of his life. Most people started dancing when they were five. Keith was a Proper Adult (apparenty) and could dance about as well as a spider on roller skates. Not that he had tried much in the way of dancing, to be honest. Shiro had tried to get him interested, not just in ballroom but in other styles too, though Keith had never had any interest. Music was where his passion lay.
As he sat there watching the couple finish their lesson, Keith couldn’t help but wish that Pidge would have just given him lessons, rather than give him their all-knowing devilish grin and a refusal. They’d said it would be good for Keith to learn with someone he didn’t know and Shiro had agreed for some unearthly reason. Keith tried to recall the name of the person that Pidge had said would be taking Keith’s lessons but he couldn’t quite remember. Shiro had eventually offered because Keith had been complaining about it so much but Keith had said it would feel too weird learning how to ballroom dance with his older brother. Pidge had flat out refused every single time Keith asked and begged with a cackle, saying that there was really only one choice for Keith’s instructor. Every time Keith asked, they gave the same reply: wedding reasons. There was one time, in a rare moment of weakness, that Pidge had relented and given Keith an annoyingly vague scrap of information. What was it that Pidge had said about his new instructor again?
The door to the studio open and a flustered, lanky man hurried in rushing over to Hunk at the desk. Hunk didn’t look too impressed for the briefest of moments before smiling brightly as the newcomer flailed his arms about, telling an elaborate story of his Worst Morning Ever. Keith wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but the brunette was so loud and boisterous that it was impossible to not overhear the tale. As Keith watched the instructor wrap Hunk up in a tight hug, on the verge of tears about how fantastic a guy Hunk was, Pidge’s words came back to him:
“He is...he’s an experience.”
Keith swallowed the lump that had started to form in his throat as Hunk pointed him out to his instructor, his gesture open and inviting, a smile on his face. Goddamn, why did Hunk look so friendly? He resisted the urge to run out of the building as their eyes met and the guy gave Keith a bright smile before he approached.
What the hell did Pidge mean by ‘an experience’!?
The instructor approached with a casual swagger to his step, which Keith generally equated to egotistical moron and douchebag. It didn’t look like the guy was intentionally trying to be a douchebag though. It simply looked like the guy was eternally laid back and casual, an easy sway and spring to his step. There was a very casual sort of grace in the way he moved, unlike Shiro whom always stood straight and tall or Pidge who seemed to glide on air when they walked. His impossibly long legs meant that he was standing in front of Keith, with a hand extended in greeting before Keith really knew it.
“The name’s Lance,” he said smoothly with a smile.
The grin that Lance was giving Keith would have been better used if they were meeting in a cafe or a club; not at a private ballroom dance lesson at nine o’clock in the morning. Keith wasn’t about to fall for it; he knew a shameless flirt when he saw one. Even if Lance looked cute.
“Keith,” he replied, giving Lance’s hand a firm shake as he was given the once over.
“So, Mullet-man, I’ve heard on good authority that you’ve never danced a single step in your life and are about as coordinated as a two year old trying to write.”
Keith scowled. Not even five minutes into meeting the guy and Keith was half tempted to punch him in the jaw.
“Mullet-man?” Keith deadpanned.
Lance grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
Keith sighed. “It was Pidge, wasn’t it? And I'm not that uncoordinated. They were exaggerating.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Lucky for you, I am hands-down the best dancer there is to be teaching you.”
The proud grin that Lance wore was begging to be wiped off of his long face and Keith just couldn’t ignore the opportunity.
“You’re fifth best, at the very most,” Keith said holding up his hand. “First would be Allura, one of the owners of the studio, then there would be Shiro tied with, Corin? Coran? The other owner. I’ve seen Pidge dance, so I put them at four. Actually, the only reason I’d put you at five is because I don’t know if Hunk over there dances.”
Lance’s lips pressed together and his eyes narrowed. “Are you always like this with people you’ve literally just met? I was gonna take it easy on you, Mullet-man. I was going to start things off nice and slow and romantic with a simple waltz at both Shiro and Pdge’s request. But oh no. No, no, no. No way, buddy. Not now.”
Keith had the decency to look a little worried.
“Uh, beginner, remember?”
Lance scoffed. “The fifth best dancer couldn’t possibly teach you anything too hard, right?”
“I never said that!”
“But it was implied!” Lance rummaged through his bag looking for his phone. “Hunk! Come do the Paso with me so I can show my student here just what I can do.”
Hunk peered over at Lance. “Dude, you know I’m not so great at that. Besides, you're meant to be teaching Keith, not showing off to him.”
Lance pouted and huffed indignantly.
“He’s practically asking me to show off, Hunk!”
Hunk grinned. “Just get on with your lesson, Lance. You can show off some other time.”
“Fine,” he drawled as he fished his phone out of his bag and made his way over to the speakers.
“Alright, Mullet-man. As much as I’d love to scare you off with a Jive or Paso or something, I’ll stick to what Shiro wanted and we’ll begin with a Waltz.” Lance paused for a moment, scrolling through the playlist.
“Fifth best dancer, my ass,” he muttered.
Keith couldn’t keep up. One moment Lance was acting like a petulant child, easy to rile up and anger and the next he was being a mature adult, direct and straight to the point. He awkwardly made his way to the middle of the room to begin the lesson.
Soft music at a relatively slow tempo filled the room and Lance grinned as he walked up to Keith, his smile wide and bright. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners, the mark of a genuine smile.
“Just you wait. I am going to sweep you off your feet, Mullet-man,” Lance said confidently as he stepped in close to Keith. He took Keith’s left hand and placed it on his upper arm before bringing his right hand to rest on Keith’s shoulder blade. Gently, Lance’s left hand came up to hold Keith’s right in a soft grasp, holding it up at around head height.
Keith swallowed and he unintentionally gripped Lance’s arm a little bit tighter.
The way Lance was standing, straight and tall forced Keith to do the same. It wasn’t exactly easy to start slouching when a warm hand was keeping yours raised, no matter how much you wanted it to drop. His other arm rested on top of Lance’s, so he couldn’t drop that one either. Keith was aware of their proximity, the softness of Lance’s hand in his and the gentle weight of the other at his back.
To Keith, it felt strangely intimate. He never usually let that many people into his personal bubble and yet here Lance was casually making himself at home. Truthfully, Lance wasn’t standing all that close. Keith had seen Shiro and Allura standing much, much closer during their routines and dances, so he knew that Lance was remaining exceptionally professional.
“Okay,” Lance said, keeping his voice somewhat low due to their close proximity. “First things first. Typically, there are ‘male’ and ‘female’ roles in ballroom. The male leads and the female follows. Here at Altea, we do things a tiny bit differently. Gender has nothing to do with if you lead or follow in a dance. Even if you’re in a mixed pair anyone can lead or follow. In our lessons, I’ll start with leading to show you the steps and then half way through we’ll switch so that you’re leading. It’s important to learn both; can’t lead very well if you don’t know what it’s like to follow and vice versa! Some people end up having a preference for leading or following and that’s totally cool. If you end up doing any of the group classes, most instructors will likely ask ‘lead or follow’. Eventually, if you keep up the practice, you’ll be able to pick up what it is your partner wants to do without having to ask, though I guess it's the polite thing to do with any new partner.”
Keith nodded. “Okay, I guess that makes sense.”
“Great!” Lance adjusted his hold on Keith’s hand. “Moving on. The position we’re currently standing in is called a ‘closed position’. We’re actually standing a little further apart than what you would if you were in a competition or dancing with a partner, but that’s okay. Boundaries and all that are fine. It’s a little harder to lead with more space between dancers but it’s nothing too bad. We’ll just do a couple of forward and backward steps to get you used to the closed position.”
Slowly, Lance pushed against Keith’s hand gently urging him back as he took a step forward with his left leg. Not having any sort of dancing background or knowledge meant that Keith was a few seconds behind, but eventually he caught on and stepped back with his right. Lance continued forward, sliding his right foot up to be in line with his left before taking another step forward with his right foot and sliding his left up. The whole movement was slow, over exaggerated so that Keith could easily feel Lance pushing and guiding him along. Then Lance started the same set of steps in reverse, this time pulling Keith along with him, rather than pushing.
“How did you find that?”
Keith frowned. “Aside from the fact that I don’t know any steps, I guess it was kind of hard to know what you wanted me to do because I couldn’t really feel where you were going to step? Like, I could tell you wanted me to go backwards because you were pushing my hands and upper body, but I had no idea what the hell to do with my feet.”
Lance nodded. “That’s because there’s no contact, though knowing the steps helps. Of course, if you’re just doing social dancing then it doesn’t matter what you know because there’s no set sequence of steps, just patterns. What matters is how you lead and how good your partner is at picking up cues.”
“It’s easier to pick up cues if you’re following when you’re standing closer?”
“For some dances, yes. Not only can you guide someone with your hands and upper body, you can use your hips and legs as well.”
He had seen Shiro and Allura dancing hip to hip, but Keith had always figured it was because they were a couple. He didn’t think that there had been any technical reason for it.
“Can I show you?” Lance asked.
Keith did his best to shrug. It ended up being just a tiny raise of his shoulders towards his ears because of his current posture. “Sure.”
Lance stepped forward and Keith leaned away a little. Lance was getting close.
Lance laughed. “You’re supposed to stay where you are, Mullet-man.”
“Sorry.” He fought down a blush as Lance tried again, stepping forward and to the left a little.
Lance held Keith in place so he wouldn’t lean away again as he shifted, bringing his right hip and thigh up against Keith’s left side. Although their hips and legs were touching, their chests and shoulders remained apart, their backs creating a nice arch.
Much like before, Lance stepped forward slowly, gently urging Keith back. This time, Keith stepped back almost in time with Lance, not only because he knew the steps he needed to do, but also because it was hard not to with so much of the other man guiding him in that direction.
“As I said though,” Lance said as they stepped forward and back, “You usually see this sort of closed position in competition or between couples or dancers that are comfortable with one another.”
He finished their steps and then took a half step back, putting some more distance between them.
“I could tell the difference though,” Keith said. "I think."
Lance grinned. “We’ll make a ballroom dancer out of you yet, Mullet-man. Now onto some real dancing. We’re going to learn the box step, one of the basic building blocks for the waltz. After that we can add some pizzaz!”
Keith stared at Lance, who was beaming and half-flailing his arms about whilst Keith remained in his hold.
“Yeah!” Lance beamed. “Like twirls and bends and slides and stuff. Things that make your performance go boom!”
Lance enunciated his point by dragging Keith into a half twirl before lowering him into a dip. He laughed as Keith screeched, his hands gripping on tightly to his instructor.
“Don’t ever do that again.”
“Aww, don’t be a downer,” Lance pulled Keith up straight and into position again. “Dips are fun.”
“For you maybe.”
“Eh, you might change your mind when you get to lead. But I got distracted. The box step!”
It took ten minutes of Lance explaining the steps and then showing Keith separately what the steps were before he could even attempt them being in a pair. Keith kept his eyes downcast, too busy watching their feet as he awkwardly stepped back with his right leg, out to the side with his left and then closing his right foot to his left. The movements were simple enough: front, side, together. Back, side, together. But for some reason it was so difficult to stick! Keith kept muddling up which foot to step back with which resulted in Lance chuckling softly, slowing his steps right down and gently reminding him which leg to step with.
“Right, side, together. Left, side, together... That’s great!”
Keith wanted to tell Lance to stop being patronising, but he could tell that for some unfathomable reason, Lance really was just encouraging him. He honestly did think that Keith was doing a good job, despite having to go through the steps so slowly over and over again and being reminded which foot to step with.
It was infuriating and at the same time endearing.
At some point, Lance threw in a slight turn to the left, so they were dancing in a weird box that kind of also circled around the room. Lance explained that in a Waltz you didn't just dance in a square in the one spot. The left turn as you followed the box step pattern helped you move around the dance floor. Just as Keith was finally getting the hang of it, Lance suggested that Keith should try leading.
Suddenly, everything that he had gone over in the past half an hour was virtually forgotten. It was hard enough to know what feet to step with when following, but now that he was leading he had to do it all backwards. Or, forwards, Keith supposed. It didn’t take long to realise that leading was just as difficult as following. He needed to make sure he confidently knew all the steps and he needed to make sure his posture was straight and tall because he was the one holding them up, not Lance. On more than one occasion, Lance softly chided Keith for his lazy posture saying that waltzes only look beautiful if your posture is beautiful too. He needed to make sure he didn’t take too long of a stride (though with Lance’s long legs it wasn’t too much of an issue), or step on Lance’s feet. He needed to watch where he was going and he needed to make sure he could safely direct Lance around the floor without running into anything.
Although Keith thought he wasn’t doing a completely awful job of leading, he had a sneaking suspicion that although Lance was technically following, he was secretly leading, gently pulling Keith along. He could feel Lance’s gently step backwards a split second before Keith’s forward step, a subtle push against Keith’s palm as the pair danced.
The time ticked by and, despite his apprehension at the start of the lesson, Keith was surprised to realise he was enjoying it. He was still unsure of his steps but apparently that was unsurprising. Lance didn’t seem to mind that Keith spent most of the time looking at the floor rather than at him, he didn’t seem to mind the way Keith's legs stumbled when he was too slow picking up on Lance’s subtle lead or when he stepped forward with the wrong leg.
The sound of the doors being pushed open startled Keith and he looked over towards the entrance. People for the next class were starting to come in and he looked to Lance anxiously, not really wanting to continue when people were watching.
“Looks like that’s our cue to end things there for this week.”
After almost a solid hour in Lance’s embrace (could it even be called that?) it felt odd when he released his hold on Keith, stepping back with a hint of a smile and heading over to where his phone was. Keith picked up his bag and hoisted it onto his shoulder as Lance appeared at his side, startling him. Lance’s grin was mischievous as he leaned closer to Keith so only he could hear.
“So... did I sweep you off your feet?”
Keith looked Lance right in those pretty blue eyes of his and didn’t blink once.
He could barely keep the smirk from his face as Lance screeched, pointing at Keith’s retreating back as he walked through the doors.
For Lance, the end of the morning classes couldn’t come fast enough. He had wanted to storm out of the building after Mullet-man’s lesson, he wanted to point and yell and screech at him for his ineptitude. How couldn’t Keith see that Lance was an amazing teacher? How could Keith not have been swept away by Lance’s gentle guidance and quiet words of encouragement?
How could he say ‘No’ so resolutely without flinching?
“Pidge!” Lance yelled down the phone once his morning classes had finished. A certain fun-sized someone needed to explain themselves. A few passers by on the street cast a concerned glance in his direction as he walked.
“Yes?” Pidge couldn’t keep the knowing grin from their face as they drawled. They knew exactly what Lance was calling about. To be honest, they had been expecting the call earlier but Hunk must have either took Lance’s phone away from him or the next class was too close to starting.
They liked to think that the next class was too close to starting because then they could tease Lance about it later.
“What the quiznak was that?!” Although he was on the phone, his arms and hands flapped about gesturing wildly.
They feigned ignorance and sat up on their lounge as Lance spoke. “What the quiznak was what?”
“You know what I’m talking about, Pidge.”
Pidge laughed. “I’m surprised you didn’t call sooner.”
“Class was starting,” Lance mumbled.
Another bark of laughter came down the line. “Ha! Your class with Keith went overtime did it?”
“No! Maybe. Shut up, Pidge. You should have warned me!”
Pidge looked at their nails, cleaning dirt from under them as they waited to reply to Lance. “Warned you about what?”
Lance gave a frustrated growl. They should have warned him that Keith was someone who should have been left behind in the 80’s? That he had a seriously outdated haircut that impossibly worked for the guy? That he had an adorable face? That he looked really cute when concentrating hard on something? That--
“He’s an asshole!” Lance screeched.
“Lance, what were you expecting? He’s my friend.”
“I am never, ever, listening to you ever again, Pidge. You said that only I could do this class. Why the hell couldn’t you do it? He’s your asshole of a friend.”
Pidge swing their legs over the back of the lounge, their back resting on the seat cushions. “But you are the only one who can do it, Lance. I’ve been friends with Keith since we were kids. It’d be weird dancing with him.”
Lance scoffed. “No it wouldn’t. I dance with Hunk all the time. You have other reasons, Pidge, and I want to know what they are!”
“Nope!” Pidge said gleefully, popping the ‘p’. “If you don’t figure it out before Keith joins us for rehearsals in a few weeks then I’ll tell you.”
“But that’s ages away,” Lance whined.
“So you’ve got ages to put that pretty head of yours to work to figure it out.”
Lance perked up as he approached his favourite cafe. “Aww, you think my head is pretty?”
Pidge chuckled. “Lance, everyone thinks your head is pretty.”
Lance all but preened at the praise, which didn’t come all that often from his small and sarcastic friend. He smiled in greeting at the girl at the till who had already started entering his order; Lance and the other instructors at Altea were all regulars here.
“Thanks, Pidge. I gotta go grab some lunch before heading back for afternoon classes. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“At the studio, yeah. See you, Lance.”
As he pocketed his phone, Lance’s brow creased, something ticking over in his mind. If this had something to do with the wedding, then it wasn’t just Pidge who thought letting Lance teach Keith ballroom was a good idea. Both Shiro and Allura must have thought it was a good idea too which was odd considering Pidge and Hunk generally took the beginner classes. It wasn’t that Lance was an awful teacher or that he didn’t want to take the beginners. Most people couldn’t tell from looking at him or interacting with him for any short period of time, but he was a surprisingly patient individual which was perfect for teaching nervous newbies. However, he was also very good. He could match Allura for grace and poise and could match Shiro and Coran for presence and strength. For those reasons, and many others, Lance often took the more advanced classes and private lessons. He had a keen eye for posture, stance and presentation. When choreographing their dances, the other instructors would often ask Lance for his opinion on their presentation, for tips on how to improve their presence on stage or to get tips on how to create a more emotive and compelling atmosphere.
Lance shrugged. They hadn’t quite crafted all of the choreography for the wedding dance just yet, but maybe they had asked Lance to teach Keith to make sure he’d be able to pick up on all the subtle details when they did start learning the dance? As he waited for his sandwich and coffee, Lance shrugged to himself. He wouldn’t bother thinking about it too much: he’d likely find out at the wedding after all.
Keith stashed his bag in the storage compartment under the seat of his motorbike and pulled on his helmet. He was surprised that his class went so smoothly. After the first bout of nervousness, Keith hadn’t really struggled too much with feeling awkward and out of place. Lance had been quite accommodating, not once making Keith feel anxious, which was odd because Keith’s first impression of the guy had been ‘egotistical douchebag’. Although he didn’t feel like his impression was completely off, there was clearly more to the lanky man than the eye could see.
When he pulled up in the driveway, Pidge was just walking up the stairs to the front door of Keith’s apartment block. They waved in greeting and waited for Keith to put his bike away.
“Sooooo, how was class?”
Keith ran a hand through his hair before taking out his apartment keys. “Uh, good I guess?”
The grin that graced their rounded face was devilish. “Just good?”
“Pidge,” Keith said flatly. “I can see what you’re trying to do.”
They blinked innocently up at him. “I’m not trying to do anything. Lance is a great teacher. One of our best, actually. I figured with you needing to learn choreography for the wedding, you’d need the best.”
It was a thinly veiled half truth, but Keith would buy it anyway. He had no reason not to.
Keith grunted noncommittally. He wouldn’t outwardly say that Lance had been a decent teacher, not when Pidge had been oddly gleeful about setting up Keith’s lessons.
“Aww, come on, he’s not that bad.”
Keith tapped a hand to his chin as he unlocked the door.
“What is it you said about him again?”
“I’ve probably said a lot of things about Lance...”
“He was an experience.” One that Keith was finding himself very much looking forward to seeing next week.
Pidge laughed. “Oh man, what did he do this time? You have to tell me all about it.”
Keith entered his small one bedroom apartment and kicked off his boots.
“What’s there to tell? You’ve worked with him for years, you know what he’s like.”
“Well, yeah,” Pidge began, following Keith into the kitchen and helping themselves to a drink, “But every Lance experience is different, so tell me everything. He called me up and said you were an asshole, you know.”
Keith had been looking in the pantry for something to eat when Pidge’s comment made him abruptly turn to face them. “What the hell for?! I didn’t do anything.”
“I think you might have wounded his ego.”
Keith rolled his eyes. “Is that something that’s easy to do?”
Pidge shrugged. “Surprisingly so. He pretends he’s all brave and macho, but he’s a pretty sensitive soul.”
“If he’s sensitive, then how is he friends with you?”
Pidge looked the picture of innocence as they took a sip of water.
Keith snorted. “As adorable as a porcupine with electricity going through their spikes.”
“Please, I’m at least an electric hedgehog. But honestly, the class wasn't so bad, right? It was fun, yeah? And you'll be going back next week?”
Keith gave Pidge a small smile. "Yeah."
Chapter 2: The Hips for a Samba
Week two of Keith's dance lessons where he learns a little bit about Lance's dancing background. Lance continues to be unintentionally flirtatious whilst Keith remains oblivious.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
If I have, at any point in this chapter, accidentally misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as possible.
I'm about as great at flirting as Pidge is so.... we'll see how things go, haha!
Before Keith knew it, Sunday morning the following week had arrived. He fumbled around blindly for his phone and turned off the obnoxiously loud alarm tone with a tired grumble, his head still buried beneath the blankets.
Why the hell was nine o’clock on a Sunday morning even a class time?!
After a few moments of giving himself a ‘get-the-hell-out-of-bed-Keith’ pep-talk in the warm cocoon of his blankets, Keith eventually sat up with a yawn, reaching his arms high above his head, relishing the way his shoulders popped. He slowly blinked his eyes open, squinting against the sunlight filtering into his room through the blinds. Keith ran a hand through his hair, grimacing as his fingers snagged in a knot and he threw back the covers. He glanced at the time on his phone with a scowl.
There was just enough time for a quick shower and a piece of toast before heading off.
By the time Keith had finished up in the bathroom, spending far too long sleepily standing under the hot water, he needed to skip breakfast. He cursed loudly to himself, complaining about Past Keith and how he should have set the alarm for fifteen minutes earlier. It happened every time he needed to be somewhere early on the weekend: Past Keith preferred extra sleeping time, Present Keith always regretted the decision. Keith pulled on his boots and then double checked his backpack to make sure that he had his keys before grabbing his helmet and heading out, locking the apartment door behind him.
Keith pulled up into the parking lot of Altea Dance Studios, taking his bag out from the storage compartment and placing the helmet there. He quickly checked his phone before stuffing it into is pocket and hastily making his way to the entrance. Keith hadn’t arrived with as much time to spare as he wanted: his lesson was meant to start in five minutes and he needed to change. He had noted last week that most people wore comfortable clothing; tracksuit pants and t-shirts, comfortable trousers and singlets, workout clothes. Last week Keith had simply worn his biking jeans and a t-shirt because he hadn’t known any different. He hadn’t thought to ask Shiro or Pidge what to wear.
Keith quickly changed into more comfortable clothing in the small bathroom just outside of Altea, swapping his jeans for a pair of loose-fitting yoga pants and his boots for a pair of converse. At nine o’clock on the dot, he pushed open the frosted glass doors and entered the studio.
Hunk wasn’t at the desk this week. Instead, he was currently going over some complicated looking steps with Lance. Keith made his way over to the benches and sat quietly, trying not to be obvious about watching the pair go over the sequences.
“Ugh,” Hunk groaned, “Why did Shay have to want to try competing in a Latin dance competition?”
Lance laughed. “She wanted to try something outside of your comfort zones, remember? But I didn’t think you guys had decided yet?”
“Not yet...but we’re so much better at ballroom,” Hunk groaned. “I do not have the hips for a Samba, Lance. I kinda just jiggle about. Like a freakin’ jellyfish. But, y’know, not an actual jellyfish because they’re kinda like weirdo underwater parachutes and I’m kinda not underwater or a parachute but you feel what I’m saying, right Lance?”
Lance gripped his friend by the shoulders, his expression serious as he gazed into Hunk’s hazel eyes. “Hunk, my man, my bestie. Listen to me. I promise, you do have the hips for a Samba. You just need to stop holding your sheer sexiness back.”
Hunk looked blankly at Lance. Keith swore he could hear the ‘Huuuuuuuuh’ that was going through Hunk’s mind.
“I’m serious, my dude. Unleash it! Let it go!” Lance beamed at his friend, “You’re the hottest thing on the goddamn dance floor. Even hotter than me.”
“Hotter than you?” Hunk looked sceptically at Lance with a raised eyebrow.
It wasn’t that he didn’t think that Lance was lying when he commented on Hunk’s ‘hotness’. It was known amongst his friends that Lance would drop comments like that whenever he saw fit, genuinely finding his friends and people in general, beautiful and attractive no matter the shape, size or gender. The thing that Hunk was questioning was being hotter than Lance. Everyone knew that Lance thought very highly of himself, though it’s not like he was entirely wrong to think like that. Whilst Hunk himself couldn’t say he was attracted to his best friend, he could easily see, and categorise, Lance as very good looking.
Lance nodded emphatically. “Yep. And I’m like, super hot, so you’re like, out of this world hot. Work it!”
“Hunk. Buddy. What do you do when you’re doing a Jive?”
He gave Lance a small smile, knowing what he was getting at.
“Flail around like a fish out of water.”
“Right. And do you hold yourself back when doing a Jive?”
Hunk shook his head, the smile never leaving his face.
“Right! So, if you can flail like a guppy on the beach, then you can let your shoulders and arms be loose and you can do a few sexy hip rolls and swings. We’ll try it once more from the top. You’re leading, right?”
Hunk visibly paled. “There is no way you’ll get me following in a Samba.”
Lance laughed and waited for Hunk to count them in.
Keith didn’t need to know very much about dancing to see that Lance and Hunk were skilled. They moved together in perfect synchronisation, Lance effortlessly following Hunk through the steps. They stepped lightly, their bodies moving with the quick-tempo music. Lance was moving effortlessly, his whole body rolling with the music, hips and arms swaying and rolling. Hunk seemed less confident than Lance, though his footwork didn’t falter.
“C’mon, Hunk,” Lance grinned. “We’re dancing one of the sexiest ballroom dances there is!”
Hunk guided Lance into a twirl, his feet never quite stopping. “I don’t feel very sexy.”
"You just need more practice."
It was then that Hunk noticed Keith sitting at the bench. “Your student is here, Lance.”
Lance circled his hips, his shoulders and torso part of the movement as he stepped around Hunk, peering over his shoulder. The song was still playing, so Lance and Hunk were still moving. Keith couldn’t take his eyes off of them. How could they even move like that?
“Hey! Mullet-man, you made it. Been there long?”
“How do you even do that?” He blurted out.
Hunk chuckled. “I’m really not that good, but practice mostly. Unless you’re Lance. He can shake it like nobody’s business even without practice. Seriously. It should be illegal.”
Lance managed looked bashful at the praise as the song ended and the pair stopped dancing. “I’ve just had years of practice on you, Hunk.”
“Maaaayybe.” Hunk didn’t sound convinced. “Thanks for the help, Lance.”
“No sweat, man. I’m here to help out whenever. You know that. If Shay needs some help too, just let me know. You’ve got the choreography down perfect but the presentation needs a touch more work. Gotta loosen those hips!” Lance said as he gave Hunk a hip-bump as he headed for his water bottle.
Hunk made his way over to the speakers to unplug his phone. “Actually, yeah I’ll mention it to her. Thanks again!”
Lance took a long gulp from his water bottle as Keith sat on the bench, eying his teacher..
“How long have you been dancing?” Keith asked before he could stop himself.
Lance seemed to ponder Keith’s question for a moment before speaking. “Like, properly? Probably from when I was ten or so. That’s when I started proper classes for ballroom at least. I tried a few other styles, but ballroom was one I stuck with throughout. But really? I’ve been dancing since I could walk! Probably even before then!”
Lance set down the bottle and walked out to the middle of the room.
“Dancing is a big thing with my family. My Mama would hold me in her arms when I was little, singing and swaying to the music.” He mimicked holding a small child in his arms, gently bobbing and swaying to the slow waltz in the background. “Whenever there’s a celebration or a party, there’s dancing. I’m pretty sure I could roll my hips and shimmy before I even started school. So yeah! All my life, really.”
“Why’d you start lessons?” Lance grinned, beckoning Keith over so they could start their lesson. “Got a girl you’re gonna propose to?”
Keith awkwardly glanced to the side, the same as always when people mentioned girlfriends and weddings to him. “Well... I did start because of a wedding, but not mine. Hunk or Pidge didn’t mention it?”
“Should they have?”
“I don’t think it really matters?” Keith replied. “But yeah, my brother is getting married and I sort of need to make sure I’m not dancing like an awkward teenager at my highschool prom.”
Lance laughed. “I promise, by the time the wedding comes around, you’ll be dancing like a pro.”
“You think so?” Keith asked, feeling incredibly unsure of himself as he took Lance’s offered hand and found himself pulled into position.
“Well, maybe not a pro” Lance said with a roll of his eyes. “I mean, the fifth best dancer is teaching you so...”
Keith’s brow furrowed as Lance began leading them through the box step and slowly showing him how to turn. It took him a few beats to reply. Keith was focusing too much on the steps and trying to remember what he had learned last week whilst adding the turn to the dance.
“I might bump you up to equal fourth after your performance with Hunk today.”
“Oh yeah!” Lance cheered. “I’m moving up in the Mullet-man rankings! I’ll be number one in no time.”
Keith couldn’t come up with a decent response. On the one hand, he wanted to scoff and tell Lance that there was no way he’d ever be number one on the “Mullet-man rankings”. He wanted to say that it was impossible for Lance to ever beat people as graceful as Shiro and Allura, but a small part of him thought that maybe his instructor could beat them. That small part was of him curious to see if Lance really was that good.
“What was the other dance we’re learning this week?” Keith asked after Lance had deemed his waltz decent.
“How fast can you step, Mullet-man?”
“Uhh...I don’t know?”
“Cos you’re going to need to be like Sonic in order to do the Quickstep.”
Keith blinked at Lance in confusion.
“Yeah. You know, like the hedgehog? Gotta go fast!”
Keith groaned at how lame Lance was.
As Lance went over the basic steps for the pattern and explained the timing of each movement, Keith paid close attention making a mental note of the timing of the steps to the music. Lance slowly moved through the steps, explaining where his weight rested, and pointing out where it would be easy for Keith to get the steps muddled or stumble. When Keith stepped into Lance’s arms, he took the time to slow everything down, carefully counting and guiding Keith through the new dance. As they slowly stepped their way around the dance floor, something as yet unnoticed by either of them flickered to life; completely obscured by the nervous excitement of learning a new skill, and buried deep beneath the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. It was small, barely a glow, but it was there.
Lance finished their lesson a little early, remembering the look of terror that had flitted across Keith’s face last week when students for the next class had started to arrive. With a cheeky grin that Keith was beginning to learn was kind of like a Lance trademark, Lance held Keith for a second or two longer.
“So how about this week? Did I--?”
Keith rolled his eyes. “Are you going to ask me that every week?”
“No,” Keith said, stepping back.
Lance’s reaction — an overly dramatic groan as he held a hand to his forehead — forced the smallest of smirks onto Keith’s lips as he grabbed his bag and left the studio.
Every Thursday night, Pidge would go over to Keith’s apartment, or he would visit their place, for dinner and a movie night. The tradition had started years ago, back when Pidge and Matt were living at home and Keith and Shiro were their neighbours. Once a week, either family would visit the other for a meal and to catch up. Growing up meant that their routine changed a little, but when Keith and Pidge had discovered that they lived within blocks of one another while studying, they had picked it up again. It wasn’t completely the same without Shiro and Matt around, but they enjoyed their time together all the same.
It was Pidge’s turn to visit and they perched on the bench sipping at a soda as Keith chopped up the meat and vegetables for dinner.
“What are we eating? This isn’t going to burn my tongue off like the last thing you cooked, is it?”
“It’s called Japchae and it’s not spicy at all.”
“Japchae,” Pidge repeated slowly, testing the pronunciation of the word.
“Not too bad,” Keith said with a smile.
Keith wasn’t a completely terrible cook, having picked up a decent repertoire of recipes from his adoptive mother, learning how to cook dishes from his own background and his family’s. Pidge liked watching Keith chop things; he had insane skill with a kitchen knife, slicing things paper thin and the same size. Which was remarkable because Pidge couldn’t chop things the same size no matter how hard they tried. Keith set aside the vegetables and prepared the sauce for the noodles that he would be cooking.
“Pidge, you have to help me." Keith stated, continuing a conversation from earlier that evening. "We’re starting the rehearsals in a few weeks, I can barely do a box step and I’m already moving on to a new dance! Next week I’ll probably finish learning the quickstep and then I’ll be doing another. That’s one dance a week! How am I supposed to remember them all, Pidge? I have to learn the eight ‘dance sport’ ballroom dances, at least, before I can work on the choreography that Shiro and Allura are finishing. I only have one class a week! There is absolutely no way I’m going to be good enough for this. You have to help me.”
“Why not take an extra class or two with Lance?”
Keith paused as he stirred the meat in the frying pan, Lance’s voice ringing clear in his mind: So, Mullet-man, did I sweep you off your feet?
Whilst Keith had cut Lance off before he could finish, he knew exactly what he had been going to say.
“I’m sure Lance is super busy at the studio with classes and...whatever else he does.”
“You haven’t asked?”
“Uh, no?” Keith questioned, as though the reason for not asking Lance was as obvious as the sun at midday. When Pidge didn’t respond, he continued as he put noodles into a pot of water before frying the vegetables.
“Lance will be insufferable if I do.” Keith put on a slightly higher-pitched voice in an attempt to impersonate Lance. “What’s that Mullet-man? You want extra classes from me, the best dancer that has ever graced a dance floor? Sure, I’d be happy to give you some extra lessons, but only if you tell me how great I am without being an asshole and refer to me as ‘Your Majesty’.”
Pidge laughed wholeheartedly, holding their stomach as they guffawed. The voice was totally not Lance, but the words were pretty spot-on for someone who had only spent a total of two hours with him. Pidge could almost hear the words in Lance’s voice as Keith prattled on, flapping his arms around and turning his head in a very decent impersonation of his teacher.
“Okay,” Pidge agreed once they had calmed down enough. “Okay, I’ll help you.”
Keith blinked. That was far too easy. He became instantly suspicious and rinsed the noodles that had been boiling in hot water under the tap, separating the glassy strands.
“You learn the basic patterns with Lance in class and I’ll help you practice them at home during the week on nights I don’t have classes or work. You’re pretty good with remembering patterns and your timing should be excellent, thanks to your music background and all, so it won’t take very long for you to get it. So sure, I’ll help you.”
Keith spooned the finished Japchae into two bowls, handing one to Pidge with a raised eyebrow.
“...What are you getting in return for helping me?”
“I am getting the genuine feeling of happiness for helping my friend.” Pidge looked up at Keith, holding the bowl of noodles and beef with two hands, their eyes wide with feigned innocence.
“Don’t lie to me, Pidge,” Keith said with a wry smile. “I cooked you noodles.”
“Hmm...you did. Honestly though?” Pidge’s lips quirked into a smirk despite their best efforts to keep their expression angelic. “I get to hear Lance’s raving when you’re suddenly amazing and then get to tell him I’ve been helping you in secret. It’s gonna be great.”
Chapter 3: Maid of Honour
Shiro and Allura finish the choreography, Keith asks for more lessons with Lance, revenge is plotted against Pidge.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
If I have, at any point in this chapter, accidentally misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as possible.
It was late on a Thursday evening; the last of the advanced classes had finished up, the students and other instructors all having said their goodbyes and see you laters, leaving the studio in an oddly comforting almost-silence. Most of the lights were turned off except for a couple of lamps by the reception desk, subtly lighting the room. The atmosphere was almost magical: the light was subdued, the music soft and the sound of heels clicking against the wooden floors in time created a warm, romantic feeling.
Shiro and Allura danced together as though they glided on air, their movements graceful and measured as they waltzed. As the music changed, their steps grew elegant, sweeping and fast paced as they moved into a quickstep which seamlessly morphed into a foxtrot. It was easy to see the utmost respect and trust they had for one another: in the way they held one another’s gaze, the way they embraced, knowing that they would be there. Shiro lifted Allura effortlessly, holding her close as he stepped across the floor, setting her down safely and guiding her into a quick turn before they began a salsa.
The pair moved through a number of dances, easily moving from one dance into another into another, the music smoothly transitioning from one style to the next, their feet and arms, hips and shoulders never losing rhythm. They grinned their way through the cha-cha and the mambo and laughed through the rhumba. Allura teased Shiro through the samba and he played hard to get in the tango. Finally the pair were waltzing again, their steps slow, their embrace close as Allura rested her head on Shiro’s shoulder. Shiro turned his head slightly, placing a kiss on Allura’s temple as they danced.
Allura sighed and nuzzled Shiro’s neck briefly as the music faded.
“I think we’ve finally got it, Shiro,” she whispered as Shiro continued to lead them in a slow, silent dance.
“Our dance,” Shiro finished as they slowed to a stop. He beamed down at his fiancee, a bright smile lighting up his entire face.
“It’s perfect.” Allura pulled Shiro down into a kiss. “We’ll have to start teaching the others right away.”
Shiro nodded. “Lance will be excited to start on it. He’s been pestering us for weeks.”
“Lance is a godsend. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
Allura and Lance had known each other for years, meeting at a ballroom competition when they were younger. The two had hit it off quite quickly when Lance had complimented Allura on her pretty dress and shimmery makeup and had been best friends ever since. After Shiro had proposed to her, after the overwhelming excitement and happiness had dimmed to a buzz, Allura had started to think of all the things that they would need to organise. Clothing, flowers, caterers, decorations, a venue, accommodation...the list was endless.
She didn’t have that many friends outside of the studio, at least not close enough to ask to be a bridesmaid or maid of honour. She had been fretting since the engagement party, friends and students from the studio alike often asking her how the plans were going or if she had chosen her bridesmaids. If she were being honest, she had known whom her maid of honour was going to be the moment Shiro proposed, but she needed to make sure with her husband-to-be that he wouldn’t mind it first.
Shiro had agreed instantly, not minding at all about the fact that Allura’s maid of honour was going to be a man. If that was what Allura wanted, then that was okay by him.
Lance had broken down into tears of happiness when Allura managed to ask him if he would do her the honour. He had scooped her up into a hug, laughing through the tears, accepting her offer in a heartbeat. Allura couldn’t have thought of anyone more perfect for the role. One of Lance’s many excellent qualities was that he was dedicated to his friends and whatever he put his mind to. He had stepped up to the role with ease and the sort of skill and professionalism of an event planner. Lance had already taken care of hair and makeup; Nyma, a friend of his, was able to do magical things with a makeup brush and a curling iron. On free weekends Lance would visit florists and bakeries, he would scout venues and dress shops, looking for things that might appeal to his longtime friend for her special day. He had already roped Hunk and Pidge into helping make the decorations for the tables, trying to save Shiro and Allura a few dollars where he could. Lance wanted nothing but the best for them and Allura couldn’t be more proud.
“How’s Keith going with his lessons?” Allura asked.
Shiro rubbed at the back of his neck in mild embarrassment. “Actually... I haven’t thought to ask.”
“Shiro!” Allura playfully slapped him on the shoulder. “He is your brother!”
“I know, I know. I’ll call him and ask.”
“Actually, speaking of Keith...was Lance still trying to find a florist?”
Allura nodded. “Yes, why?”
“Leave the flowers to me then?”
Allura appeared confused for a moment before her eyes widened in realisation, her mouth forming a tiny ‘o’ shape as her lips parted.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe I forgot! Lance has been going on about the flowers for weeks! Shiro! You should have said something sooner!”
Shiro smiled sheepishly. “I didn’t want to butt in just in case you wanted to go with someone else...”
“No!” Allura cried, stepping out of Shiro’s loose hold and hurrying over to her bag. “Keith’s arrangements are beautiful! I’ll text Lance right away to let him know that the flowers are taken care of.”
Shiro watched Allura, a frown on her face as she hurriedly typed out a text. She suddenly stopped, closed the app and started calling instead.
“Lance! I need to talk to you about the flowers...yes, I know it’s late...yes, I realise I’m interrupting your routine, but this is more important than cucumber slices over your eyes and an avocado face mask! Oh, you’re trying a new one? What is it--no! I can’t get distracted. The florist...”
Shiro shook his head with a smile, tidying the last few bits and pieces up in the studio before locking up, Allura following along behind as she chattered to Lance about the flowers.
The lessons with Lance were going quite well. Keith had signed up for the beginners class for extra practice, now doing two lessons a week plus regular practice with Pidge. Although Keith wasn’t completely confident in his developing skills, he definitely thought he was improving. He couldn’t explain his disappointment when he realised after the first couple of classes that Lance didn’t take the beginner’s class, though he couldn’t fault Pidge, Coran or Hunk with their teaching. Dancing with each of them was different: Coran was strangely boisterous with his dancing, each movement energetic and made with flair. Hunk was a more subdued dancer than Coran, his leading more like a gentle guidance or suggestion rather than a command. Pidge had more of a detached feel, but they almost floated on air, their steps light and precise.
The thing that struck Keith the most though, was how different everyone else, teachers and students alike, were to Lance. When dancing with others, Keith found it difficult to follow with ease. Lance lead with a sense of confidence, a confidence that Keith couldn’t push back against. Lance wasn’t overly cocky or forceful — Keith couldn’t stand people like that — but he was strong and Keith felt safe with Lance leading. He trusted Lance when following, which was more than what he could say when dancing with other students in the beginner’s class. When Lance was following Keith’s admittedly weak leading, he was pliant and forthcoming. Lance didn’t resist Keith’s lead either, and if he did need to give some careful direction, it was subtle. He never pulled Keith or pushed him around, carefully building a certain trust between them.
After only a few lessons with the group, Keith missed that. He missed whatever it was that Lance brought to their lessons. Once a week just wasn’t enough.
Lance was in the middle of demonstrating the step-turn of the basic cha-cha pattern and he looked to Keith with an expression of mild surprise. Keith was usually attentive when Lance was going through the breakdown of a step or sequence, so it was odd for him to interrupt.
“What is it Mullet-man? Distracted by my beautiful footwork?” Lance grinned.
“Well, what is it then? My dashing good looks? My pretty hair? My fashionable outfit?”
“You know what, never mind,” Keith said with a huff.
“Okay, okay. Seriously, what’s up? Is there a step you’re not understanding? Have I explained something in a weird way that you’re not getting? Do you need me to step through it with you?” The smile was still on his face, though it wasn’t as cheeky, and his expression was more concerned than flirtatious.
Despite what Keith thought about him, he could tell that Lance really loved dancing and really loved teaching.
“No, it’s nothing like that.”
Lance’s expression grew more worried. “Is everything okay?”
Keith blinked, surprised at the concern and gentle tone. “Yes? It’s just, well, I’ve taken some extra classes for practice, you know.”
Lance grinned brightly. “That’s great! I can’t believe no one told me! I would have totally signed up for teaching your class. I don’t usually do beginners, but I’d make an exception for you.”
Keith blinked at the admission. “For me?”
Lance shrugged. Was it warmer in the room? “Yeah. I like teaching you.”
Keith couldn’t explain the heat that suddenly bloomed across his face.
“Oh...well, I was...uhh...I like you teaching me too. So, I was hoping that we could do an extra class? Maybe? If you’re not busy with other lessons and stuff?”
“I would love that!” Lance beamed. “No charge. Think of it as extra practice or something. It’ll be great fun! I can see it now, man you’re gonna--” For some reason, Lance cut off as he squinted at Keith. Something that Pidge and Lance said weeks ago suddenly popped into his head. “Mullet-man, you said you were doing ballroom for a wedding, right?”
“And that Hunk and Pidge know about it?”
Lance tapped a hand to his chin. “Hmmm...Pidge mentioned that you’ll be joining us in rehearsal in a few weeks.”
“Yeah, Shiro told me that they’d settled on the choreography, but since it’s more advanced stuff they think it would be best for me to learn all the basics before starting.”
“Uh-huh, so you know Shiro pretty well then?”
Keith looked confused. “Of course I do. He’s my brother? Did no one tell you?”
“Right, yes, your bro--”
Lance stopped working. He stared at Keith putting together all the little bits and pieces that he knew so far, one by one.
- Keith is good friends with Pidge.
- Keith had started ballroom because of a wedding.
- Pidge had recommended Lance take Keith’s lessons for ‘reasons’.
- Keith didn’t just know Shiro. He is Shiro’s brother.
- Lance is good friends Pidge.
- Pidge knows Keith and knows that he is Shiro’s brother.
- Pidge knows that Lance is Allura's man of honour.
Suddenly a lightbulb went off in Lance’s brain.
“Holy shit, you’re Shiro’s brother. You look nothing alike, by the way but holy shit. It makes perfect sense now.”
“Adoptive brother. What’s the deal with me being related to Shiro?”
“Pidge didn’t ever tell you why they wanted me to take your lessons?”
“To be honest I thought they were trying to play matchmaker or something, but no, they never told me.”
“Play matchmaker?” Lance refused to acknowledge the little cloud of butterflies in his tummy.
Keith froze. Shit, had he actually said that out loud?! “Uhh...you know what Pidge is like.”
Lance gave Keith a lopsided smile. “Yeah...yeah I do.”
“But, no...they didn’t tell me why you had to take my lessons. Pidge just said it was for ‘wedding reasons’.”
“Because,” Lance began, gesturing to himself. “You’re looking at none other Allura’s dashing man of honour. Hunk makes up the rest of the bridal party.”
Keith stared at Lance, mostly in disbelief. Keith had no idea who was in Allura’s bridal party. All Shiro had really said was that they were Allura’s best friends and that he’d get the chance to meet them at rehearsals. He never said that they also worked at the dance studio!
“I’m Shiro’s best man,” Keith eventually managed, his voice oddly strained.
"Bingo," Lance said as he watched Keith's expression carefully. He could see the exact moment that the penny dropped for Keith.
Keith wanted to find Pidge and smother them with a pillow. They knew! They knew that Lance was the man of honour and they didn’t say anything! They knew that Lance and Keith would be dancing together at the wedding and they failed to mention it! The only consolation was that both Keith and Lance could make the most of knowing that they could deny Pidge the drama that they wanted to see unfold on that first rehearsal.
“Goddamn it Pidge!” Keith cursed.
Lance laughed. Loudly. He doubled over, wrapping his arms around his stomach as his eyes crinkled in the corners and his cheeks started to hurt.
“I’m gonna kill Pidge too,” Lance gasped through giggles.
“Or...” Keith said, unable to keep the smile from his face thanks to Lance’s infectious laughter. “We can get them back.”
Lance wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes, giggling every so often. “You got an idea?”
Keith’s grin turned wicked. “Several.”
Chapter 4: Backfire
Fake (?) flirting ensues in an attempt to get back at Pidge.
It kinda backfires.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
If I have, at any point in this chapter, accidentally misgendered Pidge please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as possible.
It wasn’t very often that someone could get one up on Pidge. They were a sneaky, crafty little thing, so when the opportunity presented itself to give Pidge a little taste of what they dished out, you wouldn’t pass it up. For maximum payback, Keith and Lance had decided to continue on as though they had no idea whom the other was yet. Lance was happy to keep pretending that he hadn’t realised that the Keith he was teaching was the same Keith that was Shiro’s brother and Keith was happy to keep pretending that he had no idea who was in Allura’s bridal party. Keith also knew that Pidge was waiting for the day when they could brag to Lance that the real reason that Keith was suddenly so good at dancing wasn’t because of his amazing teaching abilities, but because of the extra practice and guidance Pidge had provided outside of class. What better way to ruin their chance to brag than by having Lance ‘accidentally’ discover that Keith was taking extra classes at the studio?
The pair could hardly wait to see Pidge’s face.
It was Keith’s third week of taking the beginner’s class and he had shown up a little early, having left right from work. He was chatting with Hunk behind the desk when Pidge rushed in, their face flushed pink in their panic.
“Keith!” they hissed, waving their phone around. “You have to go!”
Keith tilted his head in confusion. “Why?”
Pidge shoved their phone in Keith’s face. It was too close to read properly, but the blurry photo that he could barely make out as the picture for the caller ID at the top of the message thread was definitely Lance. Keith wondered when Pidge had taken it. The blurs of various shades of brown were definitely Lance’s hair and skin, but what on Earth was the fluorescent blue blob around what was possibly his neck? Or was that maybe his arm? Or his shoulder?
Keith really kind of wanted to see the photo.
“Lance is coming in to help with the beginners today!”
Keith feigned confusion. “Doesn’t he usually do the advanced classes?”
“Yes,” they whispered furiously. “He said something about needing time off next month for exams, so he’ll be taking some more classes now to make up for it.”
Keith was impressed that Lance had come up with an excuse to get to the beginners classes that Pidge would believe.
“Huh,” Keith said thoughtfully. “What’s he studying?”
“Exercise physiology, but that’s beside the point! He can’t know you’re taking extra classes!”
“What’s it matter? You’ve said so yourself that he’s not bad.”
Pidge grimaced. “Don’t ever tell him I said that. He’ll be insufferable.”
Keith filed that little tidbit of information away for later.
“But that isn’t what’s important,” Pidge continued, nudging Keith towards the exit. “I want to see the expression on his face when you’re suddenly, inexplicably good! So he can’t see you here! It will ruin my plans!”
Keith shrugged. “Pidge, I won’t get any better if I skip classes just because Lance is going to be there.”
“It’s the principle of the thing!” they said with another nudge.
“Hunk! My man! Pidge!”
Pidge visibly flinched at the loud obnoxious voice that echoed throughout the room. They turned around with a smile that looked about as fake as the flavouring in melon lipgloss. For some unfathomable reason, despite the fact that their height was much less than Keith’s, PIdge angled their body in such a way that would have shielded him from Lance’s view had they been taller. Instead it did nothing but draw Lance’s attention.
“And Mullet Man?”
“Hey,” Keith responded, lifting a hand in a small wave.
“You’re in this class?”
“We thought that it’d be a good idea for him to do a group class too,” Pidge cut in, turning to shoot Keith a glare.
Lance seemed to ponder it for a moment or two. “Makes sense I guess. That wedding must be getting closer, huh? Don’t worry! I promise you’ll be sweeping your bride off her feet at the wedding!”
Keith gave Lance a tight lipped smile, the kind that he reserved for people who made presumptuous comments about women and girlfriends. He couldn’t tell if Lance was teasing him or if he’d completely forgotten that Keith had mentioned before that it wasn’t his wedding.
“It’s not Keith’s wedding,” Pidge said, saving Keith from the effort of explaining it himself a second time. “Besides Keith isn’t—”
“I know. I’m just teasing is all,” Lance noted Coran preparing the music by the stereo system and stretched his arms up to the ceiling. “Besides, the only one who’ll be sweeping someone off their feet will be me.”
Lance grinned in that annoyingly charming way of his and shot finger guns at Keith before he made his way over to Coran. Pidge looked from Keith to Lance and back again.
“What was--” Pidge began.
“I don’t know,” Keith interrupted.
“But, that was like--”
“I seriously don’t know.”
“Pidge. I have no idea what just happened.”
Pidge squinted at Lance who was animatedly talking with Coran.
“I’m around eighty percent sure he was legit flirting with you then.”
“Legit flirting? And how is that any different from regular flirting, Pidge?”
“Flirting is like, Lance’s thing. He flirts with everyone. Anyone. It’s his default setting for interaction. It’s almost like he kind of doesn’t know how to interact with someone if he’s not.”
“So wouldn’t you just call it ‘flirting’ then?”
“I’ve known Lance for ages,” Pidge said as they adjusted their glasses. “I’m pretty sure it’s legit. Like, actual trying his best to impress you flirting. You’re welcome for the help, by the way. You’re hopeless on your own.”
“Hey, Lance!” Keith called. The brunette turned his attention to Keith, his eyebrow raised in confusion. “No, you won’t.”
Pidge looked baffled as Lance laughed, their gaze flicking between the two men. “Just you wait and see, Mullet Man. Just you wait.”
Coran called for the attention of the students and Pidge helplessly followed after Keith, their eyes wide and jaw slack as they stared at him.
“What was--?” PIdge began.
“I don’t know,” Keith interrupted.
“But that was like--”
“I honestly don’t know.”
“Pidge, I have no idea what just happened.”
“Keith. You were flirting with Lance. You flirted back. What is even going on? Keith. Flirting? Never.”
Keith looked over his shoulder. Pidge’s expression of sheer shock and wonder was something else entirely and he mildly wondered if Lance could see it. He smirked deciding in that instant to just roll with it, rather than explain that this was just his and Lance's thing.
“Maybe I was,” he said ambiguously with a shrug, leaving Pidge’s side to go and partner with Lance for the lesson.
Pidge made some sort of high-pitched squeak, like the air being slowly released from a balloon as Keith crossed the room.
Forget taking away Pidge’s bragging rights, this was much better.
It had taken almost every ounce of willpower that Lance had — which admittedly wasn’t all that much to begin with — to not lose it as soon as he walked in. Pidge had looked almost outraged, standing in front of Keith trying to hide him from view. That moment had been beautiful, but it was nothing compared to the slack-jawed stare of disbelief as Keith approached him on the dance floor. Lance couldn’t fathom what Keith had said to them to make their face look like that, but whatever it was must have been good. As Keith stepped up to him and they took the closed position, Lance allowed a small smile to grace his lips.
Unbelievably enough, Keith smiled back.
It hadn’t been part of their plan that Keith partner up with Lance during the lesson, but when Keith approached him, he couldn’t stop the tiny little flutter of something in the pit of his stomach.
“Lead or follow?” He asked.
“Lead,” Keith replied.
Pidge was relentless that lesson. Lance and Keith were never too far out of their range throughout the lesson, which meant that neither of them could bring up the glorious moments of Pidge’s incredulous expressions. They switched partners a few times that lesson, as was only fair for the instructors and other individual dancers. Pidge seemingly was dedicated to avoiding Keith for the lesson in favour of forcing him to pair up with Lance as often as possible so they could keep an eye on them. Unfortunately for Pidge, Keith was well aware of what they were trying to do. When Coran announced they’d be doing a refresher on the waltz, Keith paired up with Lance.
“Lead or follow?” Lance asked.
“Follow,” Keith replied, much to Lance’s surprise.
“You have noticed that Pidge is watching us like a hawk, right?” he whispered.
“Yeah. I have. You know how they were surprised when you said you’d sweep me off my feet?” Keith pulled Lance closer, their hips and legs touching. "Is this okay?"
Lance laughed as Coran counted them in. “You’re evil.”
Keith knew right from the start that he would be ambushed as soon as class was finished and he had been right. Out of nowhere, Pidge launched themselves at Keith, a garbled shout of his name leaving their mouth as they clung to his back.
“What was that!?” They wailed in Keith’s ear.
Lance had tried to silently shimmy out the door, but Pidge had noticed and hurled their empty water bottle at his head whilst they clung to Keith.
“What was that?!” The shouted, pointing at Lance.
Lance grinned sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck with a hand. “Well...”
“That was almost flawless!?” They screeched, shaking Keith a little as they rocked from side to side. “When the hell did you polish your waltz like that, Keith? You’re never that good with me when I’m leading.”
Keith faltered. Out of everything that evening that Pidge could have focused on, Pidge had settled on commenting on his waltz?
“Uh, yes.” PIdge said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “You weren’t even that good with Coran and he’s like, one of the best. Especially the waltz.”
“Maybe I’m just that good,” Lance grinned.
Pidge grumbled as they clambered down from Keith’s back.
“Maybe it was just a fluke?” Keith suggested.
Pidge gave Keith a level stare. Fluke their ass.
“Maybe you should just do all your extra practices with Lance, since he’s ‘just that good’,” they said peevishly.
“Aww, come on, Pidge. You know you’re good,” Lance said, slinging an arm around their shoulder. “You know it’s because Mullet Man is a hopeless follower and you can’t force him too much.”
“You have to let him think he’s leading, even when he’s not,” Lance whispered conspiratorially to them.
“Ohh, is that the trick to it? He always seems to push against me, you know?”
Lance guided Pidge to the doors and nodded sagely. Keith followed along just behind them. “Oh, believe me, I know. Sometimes he hardly budges and it’s like, come on, Mullet Man, work with me here!”
Pidge nodded as Lance spoke. “You are absolutely right.”
Keith grew concerned as Pidge turned to shoot him a grin. He didn’t like that grin. It was impish and was the prelude to mischief. Keith had seen it countless times. Shiro and his brother’s best friend, Matt, could attest to the various hijinks that had happened thanks to it.
It never spelled anything good.
“So right, in fact, that you should come visit my place one night and help Keith with his practice. Since you’re so good with him.”
“That really won’t be ne—”
Pidge reached behind them, grabbing a fistful of Keith’s jacket, pulling him to their side.
“What Keith here is trying to say is that it sounds like an excellent idea.”
Lance seemed to honestly think about it for a moment or two. “We already spoke about doing an extra class together but I actually don’t live all that far from Pidge, so...yeah, if you wanted to do that instead of an extra lesson here, then sure. It’d be closer than the studio and we can change it around to suit rosters and stuff. What do you think, Mullet Man?”
Keith fought down the urge to punch Pidge in the arm whilst warmth flooded his cheeks. He hoped to anyone above listening that his face wasn’t red.
Pidge grinned. “He’ll think about it.”
Chapter 5: Slow Quick Quick
Keith takes a little bit of initiative.
Pidge wants to be wingperson.
Lance thinks that maybe he ate something bad.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
If I have, at any point in this chapter, accidentally misgendered Pidge please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as possible.
Lance’s weekend class with Keith was the same as always: easy conversation, Keith’s ever increasing frustration and Lance’s gentle coaching. Neither of them mentioned exactly what had happened in the beginner’s class earlier during the week, though they did have a good long laugh reminiscing about Pidge’s various incredulous expressions. Both noticed that they avoided the topic of their playful flirting but neither wanted to bring it up and make things awkward. Despite how close they had been dancing during that lesson, Lance made sure for every dance after that to stand a respectable distance from Keith. There was no reason to dance so closely with him, even if it had been nice, without Pidge there to rile up. If Lance was being honest, dancing closer with Keith like that had been more than nice, but Lance refused to let his mind linger on it. He didn’t need to recall how warm Keith’s hand was, he didn’t need to recall how easily Keith followed his lead for once, their hips and legs perfectly in line.
They had finished off the quickstep from Keith’s previous lesson and had started on the foxtrot. Much to Lance’s amusement, Keith had exclaimed that the foxtrot had similar timing to the quickstep and the pattern itself was kind of sort of similar to the waltz from his first lesson. Lance didn’t think he had seen his dance partner so excited over something. Despite the similarities that Keith had initially been excited about, it was those exact same similarities that had Keith grumbling and cursing.
Keith had lost count of how many times he had stumbled and stuffed up the sequence. Lance chuckled softly as Keith all but growled as he missed the timing, taking a slow step at the wrong time.
“It’s slow quick quick,” Keith grumbled, releasing his hold of Lance. “Not slow quick quick slow.”
“Would you like me to count it out for you? At least until you think you’ve got it?”
Keith looked at Lance, determination in his eyes. “No...I need to get this without counting the beats out loud.”
“It would probably help if you’d stop resisting my lead,” Lance said.
Keith paused. “It’s not like I’m doing it on purpose.”
Lance shrugged. “I know. It’s not something you’re used to and that’s okay. But try to make a bit of an effort? Like when we were waltzing in class. That was great!”
Keith sighed, nodding almost imperceptibly. His hair shifted slightly into his eyes and he brushed it back with a huff. “Fine.”
“Once more from the top and then you can try leading. Try imagining that you’re walking on water, or floating across clouds. It might help.”
Keith stepped into Lance’s hold. He was always standing so straight and tall. Poised. Elegant. He wondered if Lance ever lounged, or if he always stood with such perfect posture, like Shiro did thanks to years of dance training. He clutched at Lance’s arm as he felt the subtle push against his palm, the gentle pull by the hand at his back.
“And slow,” Lance said as he took a long sweeping stride, “quick quick. Slow, quick quick...”
It didn’t take Keith long to get the hang of the foxtrot. Lance’s firm leading coupled with the slower pace they danced made getting the steps right a somewhat easy task. Keith’s strides matched Lance’s for length as he grew more confident with the dance and although his posture was still a little lacklustre, Keith’s foxtrot wasn’t looking all that bad for someone who had only just learned the dance.
“Hey, you’ve got it,” Lance said with a smile when he noticed he hadn’t been counting for a number of measures.
“Yeah, I think so.” Keith smiled back. He paused for a moment before continuing. “You’re actually a decent teacher.”
“Why does this surprise you?” Lance scoffed. “You know I take the advanced classes! I have to be good.”
“Also decent enough to have Pidge suggest you do some extra classes with me at their place.”
Keith shrugged as best he could while dancing. Ever since Pidge had mentioned it, Keith couldn’t get scenario after scenario out of his head. Most of the time they were harmless little daydreams, the three of them dancing in Pidge’s apartment. Sometimes they’d be doing one of the dances Keith knew, other times they would be going over the choreography that Shiro and Allura had come up with. Though there had been one daydream...
“You know, I’m pretty sure Pidge was just shit-stirring when they said that.”
“Even if they were... would you want to?”
The question made Lance stop in his tracks. “Want to?”
“Uh, do extra lesson-things at Pidge’s place. I mean, assuming you’re not overworked with study and paid lessons...”
The smile that Lance gave him was bright, his eyes crinkling in the corners and sparkling with amusement. “I’d love to.”
Keith had messaged Pidge the moment he’d finished class and headed out into the parking lot. As he drove home, he could feel his phone buzzing in his pocket every few minutes. Keith dreaded the moment when he’d arrive home and unzip his pocket to look at the twenty or so messages in his notifications.
Pidge was waiting at his doorstep when he pulled into the drive way, so he didn’t even need to check his phone. Keith could tell almost instantly from the way they excitedly pushed away from the wall where they leaned and the gleam in their eye as he approached them that he was going to be ambushed.
“So!” they said devilishly. “You invited Lance over.”
“To your house. For practice.”
Pidge couldn’t help but clap with delight. “You still invited him over. Of your own accord. Without me there to press the issue!”
Keith heaved another sigh and Pidge practically cackled as Keith opened the door.
“Oh man! This could actually really work out for you though. I mean, I could conveniently be out when Lance is meant to arrive so you can then casually go ‘Oh, it’s weird that Pidge isn’t here...maybe we’ll just go to my place?’.”
“Oh!” They exclaimed, clicking their fingers as they kicked off their shoes. “Or I could lock my keys in the apartment. Lance doesn’t know you have a spare one, so we can just play it up.”
“Oooor, I could suddenly come down with a cold and can’t make it because I need to be quarantined and then you have no choice but to practice at your place because Lance did go out of his way to come over and you can’t waste his time like that.”
“Pidge!” Keith shouted with increasing alarm. “None of that. Nothing. We’re all going to practice at your place and you can laugh at how I stumble over my feet and how I refuse to let Lance lead properly.”
Pidge pouted. “You’re no fun...but you know I’m not going to dance a single step with you, right? And that I’m definitely going to tell Lance that we’re neighbours.”
They grinned and nudged Keith in the side. “And that the next lesson should definitely be at your house and that you should totally make us the Japchae you made for me the other week for dinner.”
Keith covered his face with his hands as Pidge prattled on.
“But then of course I'll remember that, I don't know, Matt is visiting and we're eating out so then it'll just be you and Lance and your delicious home-cooked meal."
Keith very much wanted to smother Pidge's mouth with his hands so they would shut the hell up.
"I’m the best wingperson ever and you don’t even know you have a crush yet.”
“What the hell, PIdge? I don’t have a crush.”
“Case in point. You’ll thank me later, I promise. So!” They said, reaching in to Keith’s fridge and taking out a can of soda from their special stash. “When’s Lance coming over?”
“Tomorrow after he finishes at the studio,” Keith answered reluctantly.
Keith swallowed heavily, trying not to think about what sort of things Pidge might try to get up to.
Lance fiddled nervously with the hem of his shirt as he approached Pidge’s apartment block. He could have driven his car, but that meant that he would arrive sooner and for some inexplicable reason Lance was nervous? Scared? Terrified out of his mind but sort of in a good way? He was kind of excited, he supposed, but the way that his stomach did somersaults with each step made him think that maybe he was coming down with something. Food poisoning perhaps? Though that couldn’t be it because the last thing he ate was a protein bar in between classes and he knew for a fact that the thing was well within its use by date. He almost jumped a foot in the air when his phone buzzed, too busy trying to figure out why he was so nervous about going to Pidge’s house.
Truthfully, Lance knew why, but he wasn’t quite ready to admit it to himself just yet.
Hey - just checking to see if you’re okay? You were meant to be here half an hour ago?
Yeah, I’m okay. Sorry. Be there in a couple of minutes.
He took a deep breath to try and calm himself down. Lance wanted to act normal. Or at least as normal as Lance ever acted. He didn’t want to be weird or stupid or, heaven forbid, a blushing mess. There was something different about the chance to dance with Keith outside of class.
Lance lifted a closed fist to the door and knocked three times. He took a half step backwards and waited.
Chapter 6: Practice
Lance arrives at Pidge's.
Keith is worried that Pidge is going to be insufferable.
Things turn out okay and Lance walks Keith home.
Attraction wasn’t something that Keith thought about too much. He usually had the absolute pleasure of being so incredibly dense about other people's feelings towards him that he didn’t pay it any mind until he’d missed every single warning sign and it hit him over the head like a sledgehammer. By then though it was usually too late. That was part of the reason why Pidge had assigned themselves as Keith’s wingperson. Keith could hardly fend for himself when on the receiving end of flirtations and despite the fact that Pidge had very little interest in dating people, they were incredibly adept at picking up on cues. Normally those cues came from other people, but they were fairly good at reading Keith too.
Keith was adamant though that in this case, Pidge had completely misinterpreted things had the totally wrong idea.
Keith have a crush on Lance? Psshht, no.
No way. No way in hell.
The sudden knock at Pidge’s front door set his heart into a frenzy and he had no idea why the hell he felt so anxious.
“Can you get that, Keith?” Pidge called from the bathroom.
Keith’s tongue suddenly felt like sandpaper in his mouth.
“Y-yeah,” he called back once he found his voice and managed to get his mouth to form the words.
What the hell was wrong with him? It was just Lance on the other side of the door. Keith was well aware that he was coming over to Pidge’s for dance lessons, so why was his heart pounding the way it usually did when there was a very unexpected knock on his door? He refused to try explaining the weird fluttery sensation in his stomach as he made his way to the door.
Subconsciously he wiped his palms on the back of his pants before unlocking the door and pulling it open.
Lance was standing a polite distance away, something that Keith noted immediately. He hated it when people stood right in front of the door, close enough that if he were to slam it, the door would hit their nose.
“Hi, Mullet Man,” Lance said with his trademark grin and finger guns as an added bonus.
“Hi,” Keith replied, stepping back to allow Lance inside. “Pidge is in the bathroom.”
“Ah,” Lance said with what looked to be a knowing nod, “I was wondering why you answered it and not them.”
Lance kicked off his shoes at the front door when he spied Keith’s socked feet.
“You don’t need to take your shoes off,” Keith explained. “It’s just a habit for me.”
Lance shrugged. “It’s what we do at my parent’s place too. Mama always says that shoes tread dirt through the house and it’s a nightmare to get out of the carpets. So! Ready to practice some foxtrot?”
Keith nodded, “Yeah. If we get a chance can we go over the quickstep too? I think I’m okay with the waltz, but I’d like a bit more practice at the quickstep before starting... what are we doing next lesson. You didn’t tell me.”
“I’m not sure if I want to do the Vienesse waltz, or if I should maybe introduce you to the fun that is shimmying your hips in the samba.”
The look of horror on Keith’s face made Lance burst out laughing right as Pidge joined them, wiping their freshly washed hands on their shirt.
“Hey, Lance. What’s so funny?”
Lance straightened, his arm wrapped around his middle as he giggled a few times before calming down.
“Mullet Man’s face when I suggested we might start Latin dances next week.”
Keith watched as Pidge tried their best to contain the laughter that threatened to bubble from their throat. He saw them scrunch their nose and purse their lips. They squinted with the effort of containing their laughter and bit their lip as a choked giggle escaped. He sighed with resignation as Pidge gave up, laughing just as heartily as Lance had.
“Oh my God!” They exclaimed. “Keith...doing the samba!”
Pidge drew their shoulders back and down, their back straight as they did a little flourish with their hands and arms, giving their hips a shimmy.
“I cannot imagine it,” they finally announced. “When you learn it, you must show me.”
Keith couldn’t blame them. From what he had just seen from Pidge’s impromptu hip shakes and what he had seen Hunk and Lance practicing couple of weeks ago, Keith had a hard time believing he’d be able to do it too. Hip swings and loose arms and a sway to his body? He felt like a plank of wood when dancing the waltz and the foxtrot, how was he meant to move like water?
Lance gave Keith a reassuring smile. “Say what you want about my being the, what was it, fourth best dancer at Altea? I am absolutely, without a doubt, the best Latin dancer in the studio. You'll be in the best hands there are!”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” Keith said good-naturedly. There was a slight smirk at his lips, though his words lacked any real bite.
Lance scoffed and went over to the clear space in the living room that Pidge had made, turning in a circle.
“You’ve already seen me dance the samba with Hunk! You were just blinded by my smooth moves,” Lance said with a flourish of his hands as he stood by the speakers, his finger hovering above the play button on his phone. “Shall we show him what a great foxtrot looks like?”
Pidge grinned widely.
“Lead or follow?” he asked.
“Lead,” Pidge replied.
Lance pressed play on his phone, music filling the room. He wore that stupid, flirtatious cocky grin, even though it was Pidge that he was dancing with. Surely Lance knew that his flirty smiles would have zero effect on his friend. Lance approached Pidge slowly, his fingers clicking in time with the beat, a swagger to his step. Oddly enough, Pidge matched Lance’s attitude perfectly as they approached him from the other side of the room. The music that played was swing-like, a slow and catchy piece that was easy to sway to. It began with a tell-tale jingle of a triangle and perfectly timed finger clicks on the beat. After eight counts, jazzy piano chords began providing a base line before a slow saxophone brought in the melody.
Keith blinked. The tune was eerily familiar. He paid close attention, trying to pick where he knew the melody from.
Although Pidge preferred the waltzes, they weren’t too shabby with the foxtrot. Their short legs made it difficult to match Lance’s long, sweeping strides, but he was a very accommodating partner (Keith should know), shortening his steps to match Pidge’s. The pair stepped elegantly around the room, adding in turns and twirls that Keith hadn’t thought would work because of Pidge’s and Lance’s height difference but didn’t seem to bother them at all.
He supposed that’s what made them professional, rather than amateur. Suddenly, during his musings as he watched, Keith recognised the tune and looked to Lance.
“What?” Lance asked, looking over Pidge’s head as they crossed the small room in a few sweeping strides.
“Is that the Pink Panther theme song?”
Pidge laughed as they guided Lance down into a low backbend so he could look at Keith.
“It’s a fun song to foxtrot to,” he said with an upside down grin at Keith before Pidge pulled him back upright. “You’re leading for the next song.”
The song ended not too long after that and a second song began to play. As the new music began, Lance adopted a haughty sort of expression on his face as he lead, Pidge giggling and matching the expression as they turned up their nose in the air. It matched their poise and poses perfectly.
“Oh, Lance, what delightful weather we’ve been having, wouldn’t you say?”
“Why yes, my dearest Pidge. Absolutely spiffing weather,” he replied, putting on a terribly exaggerated British accent as they danced.
“I feel ever so fancy dancing with you, Lance.”
“My dear Pidge, it is I who feels ever so fancy dancing with you.”
They continued throwing around blasé comments about nothing, all in their over the top British accents as they danced. When finally the song ended, Lance took a little bow and stepped back to sit on the lounge as Pidge extended a hand to Keith. The bright grin that they had when dancing with Lance was still there, though slightly more subdued now it was directed at Keith, their energy and exuberance dropping to match his.
“Well, are you going to practice?”
Dubiously, Keith looked at Pidge’s hand, wondering what they were up to. From their conversation yesterday, Keith had thought that Pidge would have taken any opportunity to force Lance and Keith to dance together.
“Go on,” Lance said encouragingly, mistakenly assuming that Keith’s hesitation was because someone else was watching. “We’re all friends here.”
Keith took Pidge’s hand and they stepped into his embrace, choosing to lead rather than follow. As the music kicked in and Keith gently urged Pidge backwards, he mulled the word over in his mind a few times.
Friends? He liked the sound of that.
Lance pointed out things that they could both fix up as they danced, giving gentle and not completely unwanted guidance as they practiced. He picked Pidge up on far fewer things, but they had both said that Keith was doing really great and the extra practice was definitely paying off. Keith and Pidge danced together for quite a while in one, very long foxtrot, seamlessly linking the different pieces of music as each one ended.
Pidge eventually grew bored with the foxtrot and asked Lance to choose music better suited for the quickstep. They took charge of the dancing then, leading Keith through a quickstep that was faster than anything that Lance had ever danced with him. Lance had laughed at Keith’s terrified expression as he focussed more on not tripping over his feet rather than the proper steps.
“Pidge. Pidge, you’re pushing your partner through the dance. Slow down a bit, will ya?”
They looked sheepish and gave Keith a lopsided smile. “Sorry.”
“One day he’ll be able to dance that fast, but today is not that day.”
Keith wouldn’t say it, but he appreciated Lance not once making fun of his awkward pace.
Eventually, they switched partners, Pidge dancing with Lance again, this time following instead. Keith watched attentively, trying to pick up on anything small that he might not have noticed when first learning the dances. Soon though, his mind began to wander.
As much fun as practicing alone with Pidge was, adding Lance to the mix added something extra. Pidge and Keith were life-long friends and were incredibly comfortable with one another. Pidge had no qualms with straight up telling Keith when he completely flopped at something and Keith had no issues with telling Pidge when to back off if they were being too overbearing. They knew one another's boundaries and respected them well and truly.
But with Lance...
Pidge was a different person. Not completely, but there was definitely something different in how they interacted with Lance compared to Keith. It was interesting to see how they blossomed in his presence, their excitable energy matching Lances in intensity as they stepped and twirled through their dances as they showed off to Keith. That wasn’t to say that Pidge was never exuberant in Keith’s presence; they could be, especially when excited over something they were passionate about, but with Lance they shined.
Keith wondered if Lance had that effect on everyone and somewhere, in a quiet little corner of his mind, in a tiny hidden part of his heart, Keith wondered if Lance made him shine too.
A weight sinking down beside him and a hand thrust into his field of view startled him from his thoughts.
“Your turn, Keith,” Pidge said curling up into a little ball on the lounge.
“Wha?” Keith looked at the hand in his face before glancing up to Lance.
“Shall we dance?” Lance asked. He wore a gentle smile on his lips and leaned forward slightly, almost like a bow.
Keith’s mind froze and his body moved without thinking, sliding his hand into Lance’s. With a grin, Lance tugged Keith to his feet, pulling him into the middle of the room.
“Lead or follow?”
“Follow,” Keith found himself replying.
Lance quirked an eyebrow but said nothing further as he brought his arms up, resting one hand at Keith’s upper back, pulling him in close. Not as close as he could, but definitely closer than usual and Keith couldn’t bring himself to mention it.
The next song began: a rolling drum beat and the familiar finger clicks that seem to frequent any style of music that is good to foxtrot or quickstep to. A strong female voice starts to sing, and Keith couldn’t help but turn his head toward where Lance’s phone rested.
Underneath the city lights
There is a world few know about
Where rules don't apply, no
And you can't keep a good girl down
Lance laughed at Keith’s reaction. “Yeah, not exactly the kind of song you’d be ballroom dancing to, but the beat and style is great for these dances.”
“We’re ballroom dancing to a song called ‘Show Me How You Burlesque’.”
“Refer to my previous comment, Mullet Man. How do you even know that?”
Keith attempts a shrug. “I like music.”
“Did you want to see it some time?”
“How I burlesque.” Lange waggled his eyebrows and gave his partner the cheesiest grin he could muster.
Keith stared in mild shock. With a genuine grin, that didn't make Keith's stomach do weird things, Lance swept Keith across the floor, picking up the pace just a little. Keith is unimpressed at the astonished half-shout that escapes him as Lance suddenly guides him across the floor. In the small space of Pidge’s apartment living room, they can’t do their usual sequence of quick leaps and jumps, but Lance does the best he can. He’s surprised that Keith is following along relatively effortlessly, though he does notice that Keith’s grip on his upper arm is a little tighter than usual. Lance dials back the pace a little and he can feel Keith relax almost instantly.
They danced well into the evening, eventually calling it a night when Pidge announced that both they and Keith had early shifts at work. Lance agreed, saying that he has some things to take care of tomorrow before afternoon classes at the studio. Keith wanted to hang back a little, to wait until Lance had left before he headed home but Pidge nudged him towards the door behind Lance.
“Hey Lance, can you do me a favour?” Pidge almost drawled and Keith swore he will one day kill them. Lance straightened after pulling on his shoes as Pidge opened the door, ushering Keith out.
“Can you make sure Keith gets home safe?”
Keith schooled his face into an expression that is a little more neutral than the death glare he was shooting at Pidge. With Lance’s back now to them, they give Keith a thumbs up and a grin.
“Okay, have a great night you guys. We should do this again next week. See you!”
Both Keith and Lance stared as the door quickly closed, unsure of exactly what just happened and how they had been pushed outside so quickly. For good measure, Keith glared at the peephole in the door, knowing Pidge would be staring through it before sighing heavily.
“You don’t need to worry about me, Lance. Pidge was being stupid.”
“What? I really don’t mind. Where do you need to go?”
Against his better judgement, Keith raised a hand and pointed to an apartment building a block or so away.
Lance smiled. “That just so happens to be on the way to my place so, if you don’t mind, I’d like to walk you back.”
Keith had no idea what to say, so he simply nodded and lead the way.
They walked comfortably side by side, Lance driving most of the conversation by telling Keith about their practice session, about all the things he did well and those things that he could improve. Lance even pointed out differences between how Keith danced with Pidge and how Keith danced with himself. He still needed to work on trusting his partner to lead them properly, but Keith was definitely improving.
“I know Shiro wants to start the rehearsals in the next week or two, and I think he said he was going to teach the others before getting you to come along, just to give you extra time to learn ballroom, but I think you’ll be okay.”
“You think so?”
Lance nodded. “Yeah, you pick things up pretty well and despite your reluctance to follow, you don’t do too badly. I know you’re trying, so we’ll work on it. You’re actually really good, especially for someone who is just starting out, and it’d be amazing to see what you could do if we, uh, I mean you, wanted to dedicate more time to learning.”
“Uh, well, this is me...” Keith said, somewhat awkwardly as they arrived at his apartment block.
“Oh, okay.” Keith could have sworn he saw Lance’s shoulders slump slightly. “Well, I’ll see you at our next class on Sunday then, yeah?”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
Lance gave a slight wave before continuing down the footpath and although Keith had told himself to immediately go inside, he stood there at the threshold, watching until Lance had reached the end of the street and disappeared around the corner.
Next time: The flower shop!
Chapter 7: The Florist
An unexpected meeting with an unexpected outcome.
Lance thinks he's screwed something up.
Hunk is pretty sure he hasn't.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
If I have, at any point in this chapter, accidentally misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as possible.
Keith liked opening the store. He enjoyed the early morning stillness amongst the flowers, putting together elegant bouquets, pruning any wilting petals or leaves and changing the water in the buckets. There was just something about being surrounded the light, sweet fragrances that made for a calm and peaceful atmosphere that kept Keith calm and prepared for the rest of the day.
He dutifully tended to the flowers carefully, changing the water in each bucket as he took out the stands, arranging the flowers in a way that was most appealing and eye catching. Once the flowers had been seen to, Keith set about preparing the bouquets that were due for pickup. He had an arrangement of white lilies to make for a funeral, a small box for a baby shower and three birthday bouquets of varying size and price.
Keith loved flower arranging. Although the language of flowers was all but dead now, he enjoyed the complexities of trying to convey a message through bouquets. He enjoyed balancing colour and scent, matching blossom size and offsetting it with greenery. He loved creating something elegant and beautiful that made people stop and appreciate the blooms. He hadn’t always liked flowers. It hadn’t even been anything on his list of desired careers. He had taken up the job as a part time assistant whilst he studied but the more he became aware of the fact that study just wasn’t for him, the more he found himself enjoying his time in the florist. He had changed courses, dropping out of university to do a community course in floristry and moved to working full time in the shop. It wasn’t something he had ever considered, but at the moment, Keith couldn’t see himself doing anything else. He was happy here and, according to Shiro, being happy was all that really mattered.
He much preferred working with the flowers, but interacting with customers was part of the job, so whenever the little bell to the store chimed when someone entered, Keith put on a bright smile and greeter the customer warmly.
“Hi there!” He called from behind one of the stands, rearranging a bucket of flowers that had been jostled by a small child. “How’s it going?”
Keith stood up, drying his hands on his apron when he received no reply.
“Did you need help looking for some--”
Keith stared at the customer whilst he stared at Keith. Oh. Well, that certainly explained the silence.
It was odd seeing him outside of the studio. It was odd seeing him in clothes that weren’t loose t-shirts or oversized sweaters and leggings or yoga pants. It was odd seeing him at this time of the morning on a Saturday. It was odd seeing him with a large coffee in hand and a satchel bag slung across his body, his blue eyes locked onto Keith’s and wide with surprise.
Still, Lance stared.
Lance startled, taking a tiny step backwards as his brain seemed to start working again.
“Uh, Mullet Man?” Lance asked, his voice jumping up half an octave in disbelief.
Unable to help it, Keith chuckled. “Can I help you with something?”
“What are you doing here?”
Keith gestured to the black apron tied around his waist, the logo of the floristry embroidered into the bottom left corner.
“Working,” Keith said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“You’re a florist?”
“Yeah. It’s a bit weird, I know. I get that a lot.”
“N-no,” Lance said, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck. “It’s not that weird.”
Keith raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms as he looked at Lance skeptically. He hardly sounded convincing when he was bashfully rubbing the back of his neck and looking away to the side.
“Okay, it’s maybe a little surprising, but not weird. Floristry actually seems to suit you.”
Keith shook his head, a smile at his lips.
“So, what can I help you with, Lance? Need a bouquet for a lady you’re trying to impress?”
Lance reached over to gently touch a gardenia before giving Keith one of his trademark smirks that made Keith want to punch him.
“And how do you know I’m not trying to impress a boy, hmm?”
Keith paused thoughtfully. “Fair point,” he said before clearing his throat. “Need a bouquet for a person you’re trying to impress?”
“Much better,” Lance said with a cheeky smile. “I’m just browsing for today.”
Keith cocked his head to the side. “For a birthday? Or anniversary? I can show you a catalogue of the arrangements we can do, if you’d like. The bouquets we have on display are just everyday bouquets. We do a whole range of them for special occasions, and can even custom create a bouquet for you depending on your needs.”
He made his way over to the counter and pulled out a large folder, turning it around so it was right way up for Lance to look through. Lance followed Keith to the counter, resting his elbows on the thick pile of tissue paper that the assistants would wrap bouquets in. He watched as Keith flipped through the folders, stopping every so often to peer at a bouquet.
“So what is the occasion?”
“I’m just looking at arrangements for the wedding,” Lance said. “I have a few florists I wanted to check out to see what they could offer.”
Keith blinked. “You mean for Shiro and Allura’s wedding?”
“Yeah, I’m like her unofficial wedding planner. I’ve got three florists to check out today, two potential reception locations and one bridal store because the last one was a total bust.” Lance squinted while he tried to recall the conversation he had with Allura a couple of weeks ago.
“Allura said she’d thought of a florist, but...I didn’t realise she meant that she had chosen one.”
“Shiro asked me if I could take care of it. Don’t worry about the flowers, Lance. I promise I’m perfectly capable.”
Lance squirmed on the spot. “But this needs to be perfect! Allura is my best friend! I want nothing but the best for her.”
Keith crossed his arms, a playful smile. “Lance, I am the best. Leave it with me, I promise it’ll turn out okay.”
The bell to the shop rang as the door opened.
“Good morning!” Keith called. “I’ll be with you in just a few moments.”
Lance moved to the end of the counter, so he wasn’t in the way of the other customer when they were eventually ready to make their purchase, and rested his chin in his hand while he watched Keith hurry out from behind the till to help the little old woman.
He had never really had much of a chance to observe Keith. Lance thought that he had a semi-decent understanding of the young man; they did dance together fairly frequently now, but watching Keith work showed Lance a side he didn’t think the generally stoic man had. Keith seemed softer, somehow, amongst the flowers, helping the woman choose a small but beautiful bouquet. There was a gentleness to him, an air of serenity and grace as he carefully arranged the bouquets on their stands, or when he wrapped them in the light blue tissue paper. Lance stood at the end of the counter, politely waiting for Keith to have a few spare minutes so he could say goodbye properly without barging in on a sale. Tearing a corner of paper from a notebook in his bag, Lance scribbled something down, smiling lightly to himself as he wrote.
When the stream of customers slowed enough for Lance to feel like it was okay to chat to Keith, he approached the florist after the last of the customers left the shop.
“You seem pretty busy today, and I’ve got a fair bit to do too...so...”
Lance offered the piece of paper with a grin but it wasn’t his usual over-the-top flirty smile. There was a hint of the flirtatiousness there, sure, but he seemed genuinely excited, with perhaps a touch of nervousness there too. Keith didn’t know what to make of it, so he took the piece of paper from Lance, albeit a little hesitantly.
“So I’ll leave you to it. I’ll see you later, Keith.”
Lance didn’t wait for Keith to unfold the paper before giving him a half wave and a smile before leaving the shop. The jingle of the bell had faded by the time Keith looked at the piece of paper.
Let’s talk flowers sometime.
Keith went bright red as he read over the neatly written digits that were beneath Lance’s name.
Lance had given him his number and had used his name.
It wasn’t until he was half a block down the road that Lance suddenly seemed to realise exactly what it was that he had done. It was like his entire exchange with Keith in the florist played through his mind in super speed, and he picked up on all of those moments that could have meant more than he had intended. Lance stopped dead in the middle of the footpath as those moments played through his head on loop, the same bubbling feeling of warmth spreading through him that he had felt earlier.
He fumbled for his phone, trying three times to fish it out of his pocket. He scrolled through his list of contacts until he stopped at the name of the only person he could talk to. People shot him angry glares as he stood right in the middle of the footpath, waiting for that voice as smooth as satin to answer. Lance tried to convince himself that there was no way that Keith could interpret Lance giving him his number as anything but platonically. He tried to tell himself that he hadn’t basically told Keith that he liked both girls and guys. He tried to ignore the fact that he had been sort of giddy and nervous.
He could have cried with relief.
“Hunk! Oh thank God.”
Instantly, Hunk’s voice grew more concerned. “Is everything okay?”
“Hunk, I think I totally screwed up.”
“What did you screw up?”
“I think I just told Keith that I’m bi.”
There was a slight pause before Hunk answered. “And? Did he react badly or something?”
“Wha? N-no, actually. He didn’t really say much at all about it.”
A businessman bumped into Lance and turned to scowl at him. Lance scowled right on back, but shuffled over to the side of the footpath so he wasn’t completely blocking the way.
“Good, because that would have been hypocritical and totally wrong considering he’s friends with Pidge. So what’s the problem then?”
“He took it too well...”
“Lance, that could literally mean anything. Maybe he’s like Pidge? Or maybe he’s bi too? Maybe he’s straight and doesn’t care what other people are? Maybe he didn’t want to make you feel super awkward? There’s so many reasons as to why he didn’t say anything.”
“But, Huuuuunk,” Lance whined. His friend’s words made sense. Lance didn’t know very much about Keith personally at all. Maybe Keith was one of those people that really were okay with the various sexualities and gender identities. Maybe he was one of those people that didn’t need to ask for an explanation and simply accepted the fact as they were told?
“Lance, you haven’t screwed anything up.”
“But I did,” he mumbled into the receiver. “I...”
“I gave him my number, Hunk...”
“So? You’re friends, right?”
“No, no. You don’t understand. I wrote it on a piece of paper and handed it to him at work and I didn’t tell him it was my number and I wrote a crappy little message on the note and, quiznak, Hunk! I gave Keith my number!”
“Well, what did he say?” Hunk asked, sounding oddly excited.
“I don’t know! I booked it out of there before he could look at it.”
“Lance...” Hunk grumbled through the phone.
Lance rubbed his face with his free hand, groaning. “I know, Hunk.”
“I’ve still got a few hours at the bakery. Meet me at my place at eleven?”
“Do you have cookies?”
“We’ll whip up a fresh batch.”
“I love you.”
He could hear Hunk’s grin in his voice. “I know.”
Keith never had thought that a piece of paper could feel so heavy. He never had thought that he would be able to feel a small square of it through his jeans pocket, nor did he think that the idea of a little note would ever be enough to make him blush.
Yet, here it was, a nondescript square of paper torn from the corner of a page, burning a hole in his pocket. It weighed heavily on his mind and made his face grow warm whenever he thought of the words written on it because it was Lance’s quiznaking number.
The logical part of his mind told him that Lance had given him the number because, obviously, if he was the unofficial wedding planner and Keith was organising the flowers then they would, of course, need to talk to one another about the arrangements. The irrational part of his mind was scrutinising every moment of the morning leading up to when Keith took that piece of paper, dissecting each interaction and pinpointing all of those moments that could have suggested something more.
Keith spent the entirety of his shift thinking about it every second he wasn’t preoccupied with a customer, and sometimes even then the words would flit across his mind, unbidden.
Let’s talk flowers sometime.
In the end, Keith couldn’t figure out if Lance had meant to just give him the number for wedding reasons or if he had given it to Keith in an attempt to try picking him up.
They day dragged, every transaction seemingly taking twice as long as usual, every quiet moment even slower than normal. It was as though the universe was trying to delay the end of Keith’s shift and he was both frustrated by and thankful for it. It delayed the inevitable and gave Keith time to try and figure out just what he was going to do. On the one hand, Keith didn’t know what to make of the situation. Should he call as soon as his shift ended? Should he text Lance back so he at least has Keith’s number as well and they can talk flowers later? Should he start with small talk and branch out into talking about wedding bouquets, or should he straight up start with his ideas about the wedding arrangements? On the other hand, Keith knew perfectly well that he needed to call or text Lance today, otherwise he’d regret it.
As soon as his shift ended, Keith sent a quick message to Lance. He had typed it out six times, wondering if he was maybe misunderstanding things, or if he was maybe sending something that Lance would misinterpret. Eventually, Keith had settled on something simple, but he couldn’t explain the little flutter of warmth in his stomach as he hit the send button.
Hey Lance, this is Keith. I’d be happy to talk flowers anytime :)
Keith wondered if perhaps a smiley face was a little too much.
Half a city away, Lance shrieked.
Chapter 8: One, Two, Three, Cha-Cha-Cha!
Lance and Pidge practice the first part of the wedding dance.
Keith can't move his hips.
Pining Lance and Keith!
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
I had a few pieces I kept listening to for the Viennese waltz:
Lance had managed to arrive at the studio early, wanting to get some solo practice in while it was quiet and empty. Allura had shown everyone except Keith the first part of her and Shiro’s wedding dance — a Viennese waltz — and he had wanted to start rehearsing right away. It had taken Lance a few run throughs with Allura in his free time after his own lessons but he finally had the steps memorised well enough to practice them on his own. He was definitely improving, however, he hadn’t quite mastered it yet. Allura had floated across the dance floor, explaining that the dance started off slow, intending to hint at what life was like for her and Shiro before they met. There were moments of fancier step sequences and a few sweeping dips but for the most part it was a graceful, exceptionally standard Viennese waltz. Lance tried to emulate Allura’s graceful, sweeping movements without much luck and he grew frustrated the longer he practiced. He couldn’t match her finesse, he couldn’t match the feeling of quiet complacency that she managed to emanate as she danced.
The sound of the door opening made him stop with a heavy sigh. Maybe he’d try again after his lesson with Keith.
“You’re in early, Lance.”
The voice he heard surprised him and Lance whipped around to look at Pidge, dumping their things behind the desk.
“Pidge? What happened to Hunk?”
“He’s called in sick. Shay isn’t feeling well, so he’s staying home to make sure she looks after herself. He asked me to fill in for him.”
“I hope Shay feels better soon.”
Pidge nodded. “Me too.”
“Well, Coran’s private isn’t running this week and we’ve got some time before K— Mullet Man shows up, did you want to run over the Viennese waltz for Allura and Shiro’s wedding dance with me?”
“Sure! I actually haven’t had a chance to practice with anyone just yet. Keith isn’t coming along to practices for a few weeks, so I don’t really want to ask him to practice with me until he has all the basics down.”
“Considering we haven’t done the Viennese waltz just yet in our lessons, you’d have to teach him a whole new dance before showing him Allura and Shiro’s.”
Pidge made their way to the middle of the dance floor, stopping just in front of Lance and looking up at him with a squint.
“Why not? Shouldn’t he have learned that weeks ago, considering he is doing lessons so as to learn for the wedding.”
Lance shrugged. “It’s not one of my favourites. It exists somewhere between too fast, but not fast enough.”
Pidge laughed. “How is that even a thing, Lance? Aren’t your favourite dances slower than that?”
“No!” Lance huffed. “Okay, technically yes, but waltzes should be slow. Why is that one so fast? I can’t even shimmy and hip roll because they’re technically incorrect in a waltz.”
Pidge held up their arms for Lance. “Did you want to lead or follow then? I haven’t quite got the steps right just yet, but if you’d prefer to follow...”
Lance stepped into Pidge’s embrace. “I’ll lead first and then we can switch when you think you’ve got the hang of it.”
Keith hadn’t been terribly sure what to expect in his next lesson. He had messaged Lance saying that he’d like to talk flowers and although it had taken a while, Lance had replied a little later that day with an excited ‘Sounds great! :D’ but there had been no further chatting. Keith had wondered if he needed to be the one to start a conversation but he couldn’t think of any decent way to begin. He had thought about it all afternoon and evening, growing increasingly frustrated at his inability to craft a decent message. At some point he had fallen asleep on the lounge, his half-constructed message still showing on the screen when he startled awake at three thirty in the morning thanks to some horribly mastered audio on a strange infomercial about a ‘personal’ appliance. The very idea of the contraption had Keith perplexed and he hadn’t been able to fall back to sleep properly for a multitude of reasons.
He arrived at the studio horribly sleep deprived, nursing the largest cup of coffee he could buy from the cafe just down the road. When he opened the doors to the studio, there was a fast tempo song playing and Lance and Pidge looked to be practically running across the floor in circles. Although it took Keith’s brain a few seconds to catch up, he recognised the beats as three-four time; the tempo that the waltz typically used. Logically, Keith knew that they were dancing a waltz because the time signature was right for it and the way they were bobbing and stepping looked like a waltz, but it just seemed way too fast and full of spinning.
Keith stood in the doorway, watching slack jawed as the pair danced across the floor at a speed he knew he wouldn’t ever be able to match. Pidge seemed completely at ease, effortlessly leading Lance through their incredibly fast dance.
“Lance,” Pidge said. “You’re not going to over rotate on the turns. Stop holding back.”
“But it feels like I’m going to, Pidge.”
“You said basically the same thing when you were leading!”
“When I was leading it felt like I was going to toss you across the room.”
Pidge rolled their eyes. “You’re definitely going to need more practice but it will have to wait. Keith is here.”
They nodded to their friend who was still rather bleary eyed and confused-looking.
“You look like crap,” Lance said without thinking. As soon as the words left his mouth, he clapped a hand over it, a look of complete shock on his face. “I wasn’t meant to say that out loud!”
Pidge laughed loudly whilst Keith’s brain tried to compute. “Well, you’re not wrong, Lance. What happened?”
“Didn’t sleep so great, Pidge.”
It took Keith a whole two minutes and four seconds for him to realise what Lance had said. “... you know what, Lance? I’m not even mad.”
Lance watched with mild concern as Keith slowly made his way to the chairs to dump his bag down.
“Are you okay, K- Mullet Man?”
“I’ll be better after I finish this coffee.” He held out the large paper cup and shook it a little. “It’s almost gone.” Keith gestured to Pidge and Lance with the coffee cup before taking a swig. “You guys keep doing your crazy waltz till I’m done.”
“It’s not a ‘crazy waltz’. It’s a Viennese waltz,” Lance corrected. “And it’s what you’ll be learning today.”
As Pidge and Lance demonstrated, Keith finished off his coffee. He sipped it slowly on purpose, apprehension and lack of sleep making him slightly less enthused about his lesson than usual. Sadly his coffee wasn’t endless and he had noticed Lance looking in his direction every so often to see if the coffee cup had left Keith’s hand. Keith made an obvious show of wandering over to the bin and tossing out the empty cup before making his way to the middle of the room.
“I am going to die,” Keith said, his tone flat and dead pan as he took Lance’s outstretched hand.
“No you’re not.”
“I am, at the very least, going to fall and trip over and concuss myself.”
Lance laughed. “We’ll start off slow, don’t worry that pretty mullet head of yours. Besides, I’ll make sure to hold on to you extra tight. I won’t let you fall.”
Did Lances voice sound softer? Keith could feel the beginnings of a blush creeping up his neck at the...compliment? Keith decided he’d take it.
“Okay, so as I’m sure you probably noticed right away, the Viennese waltz is much faster than the slow waltz from your first lesson. The Viennese waltz is around 180 beats per minute where as a slow waltz is danced at around half that speed. In addition, it’s also what’s known as a rotary dance. What that means is that most of the dance is spent turning, so sometimes you can start to feel a bit motion sick. You get used to it eventually, but it doesn’t hurt to know in advance that you’ll probably start out feeling pretty dizzy.”
“Great.” Keith interjected.
“I did say we’d be starting slow. The first part of Allura and Shiro’s wedding dance is a Viennese waltz, so you’d best get used to it! But you won’t learn their dance until you have the basics down.”
Keith nodded and noticed that he and Lance were simply standing in the closed position whilst he chattered away.
“So...what are the steps then?” Keith asked.
“I’m getting to that. For the Viennese waltz, you’ll be constantly making natural turns or reverse turns. That is, if you’re leading, you’ll turn to the right or the left. If you’re following it’ll be vice versa. I’ll lead to start with, if that’s okay?”
Keith nodded, not feeling anywhere near coordinated enough to lead.
Although it was a waltz, the Viennese waltz was nothing like the slow waltz Keith had learned in his first lesson. The Viennese waltz was fast; much quicker than the foxtrot and Keith had struggled a little with that one. Lance had explained that the Viennese waltz was one of the fastest ballroom dances, only bested by the quickstep and the jive. He had further explained that there were other partner dances that were faster, but they weren’t part of the typical ballroom dancesport dances so Keith didn’t need to worry about learning those unless he personally wanted to. Keith had sighed with relief when Lance had said that he wouldn’t be learning any other ridiculously paced dances.
After having to take a break for the third time in twenty minutes because his head was swimming, Keith suggested that maybe they should try going over a dance with less spinning. God, was that all the Viennese waltz was?
At Keith’s suggestion, Lance grinned.
“Well, if you’re not feeling the Viennese waltz, we’ll go over the cha cha. Pidge! Help me demonstrate?”
Pidge groaned loudly as they moved from behind the desk to where Lance waited, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet with excitement.
“I hate the Latin dances...”
“You just need to loosen up, Pidge. That’s all. Shake those hips that I know you have in there somewhere!” Lance nudged them with his hip before taking their hands in his.
It wasn’t a hold that Keith was familiar with. Pidge faced Lance and the pair stood less than an arm’s length apart. Lance’s stance was loose and casual as he faced Pidge. He still looked the part, but he definitely didn’t seem as purposefully poised as he did with the other dances Keith had learned so far. Lance held Pidge’s hand gently, their fingers delicately perched over Lance’s. Keith thought that the hand position almost look like a cup.
“Okay K-Mullet Man, pay attention.”
Keith’s brow furrowed. “You can call me Keith you know.”
Lance cleared his throat awkwardly as Pidge stared at him, an impish grin threatening to cross their face.
“R-right. Anyway, in the cha cha, there’s a new position that you’ll come across. It looks like this.” Lance fidgeted slightly, swinging his and Pidge’s arms a little.
“The way Pidge and I are standing, with their hands in mine like so, is what’s known as an open facing position. Lots of dances use this position and you’ll encounter it a fair bit in the Latin dances we’ll be covering in the next couple of weeks. Unlike the closed position, the contact between dancers is in the hands, wrists and fingers. There are a few different ways to hold your partners hands, but I’ll go over that in a bit more detail when we’re dancing together so you can get a feel for it. The cha cha doesn’t start off in this hold, but we do use it.”
Keith nodded. “Okay. Open facing position. Got it.”
Lance explained the basic timing — one, two, three cha cha cha! — and demonstrated a few times with Pidge so that Keith could see how it looked and to try and get a feel for the rhythm of the dance before trying it himself. Leading Pidge into a twirl, Lance posed with one toe pointed towards the ground, his knee bent. He held Pidge’s left hand in his right, his other raised and his hand in a loose, purposeful curve.
If Keith didn’t know any better, he’d think that Lance was intentionally showing off, but Pidge mirrored Lance’s pose, indicating that it was just the showmanship of the dance.
“It is time,” Lance said dramatically, “For you to learn how to move those hips.”
Keith didn’t think he had heard Pidge laugh so much at something before but it wasn’t his fault he was hopeless at ‘hip action’. Lance had quickly abandoned teaching Keith how to move his hips properly in favour of getting him to know the steps when it became obvious that Pidge was getting way too much amusement our of Keith’s inability. Lance had also felt terrible that they kept giggling behind their computer screen every time Lance tried to help Keith get the movement right. Had he not been so sleep deprived and was able to stop the dance studio from spinning, Keith would have switched back to the Viennese waltz. The cha cha was just as challenging, though the steps were simple enough.
Lance had tried, countless times, to show Keith how it was meant to look but Keith’s confidence had taken a bit of a nosedive thanks to his embarrassment at having to learn how to move properly. His movements were stilted and awkward, almost like it was his first ever lesson again. Lance had been encouraging, telling Keith that with just a little bit of practice and a little bit of confidence he’d get it in no time, but Keith wasn’t having any of it. By the time the end of the lesson came around, Keith was frustrated and Lance was about ready to give up and go home despite his best efforts to be patient and encouraging. There was only so much either of them could take under the watchful eye of a certain gremlin.
“I realise you probably won’t agree, but you actually did well today.”
Keith gave Lance a pointed look, one eyebrow raised. “I did better in my first lesson never having danced a step in my life, Lance.”
“That’s not true! Besides, you weren’t feeling so great today but you still gave it your best. In my opinion, that’s doing really well...” He gave Keith a nudge with his elbow, “Even if for half of it you were as red as a tomato almost burning a hole in the floor.”
“I was hoping you hadn’t noticed that.”
Lance beamed proudly. “I am a very attentive teacher.”
Students for the next class began to slowly arrive and Keith headed over to where his bag rested on the chairs.
“You are, which I find sort of surprising.”
Lance feigned hurt and placed a hand over his chest. “You wound me, Mullet Man.”
“No more than Pidge does.”
“Speaking of...” Lance began, sparing a glance in the direction of their friend. They were currently preoccupied answering a question asked by a new student. “Pidge would never let me hear the end of this if they overheard.”
Keith tilted his head, his expression curious. “What?”
“If you’ve got nothing on this morning and don’t mind waiting...we could grab a coffee?”
Keith’s ears went red and he startled at the question. “C-coffee?”
“Yeah,” Lance said, his heart racing when he noticed Keith’s blushing face. “L-like, so we can talk flowers? For the wedding. I figure I need to keep you up to date on the colour schemes I’m thinking of and the table settings and the dresses and all that.”
“Oh,” Keith didn’t completely understand the swell of disappointment that churned in his stomach. “I actually have a shift this morning.”
“T-that’s cool,” Lance said scratching the back of his neck, “It kinda was last minute.”
“But...” Keith forced himself to continue and he ignored the butterflies fluttering about in his stomach. “But I have the afternoon off from three if...if that works for you?”
Lance’s expression brightened instantly and Keith decided then and there that Lance looked best when smiling like that.
“That works just fine for me. It’s a date then?”
Keith’s breath hitched. “Uh...a-a date?”
Lance grinned cheekily hoping to calm Keith down. “It’s an expression. Chill, Keith. Should I meet you at the shop at three?”
Keith nodded, not trusting his voice to not waver or crack if he were to speak.
“All right then!” Lance turned his back to Keith and made his way to the middle of the dance floor for the next lesson. “I’ll catch you later.”
Keith shouldered his bag and left the studio. Briefly, Lance closed his eyes, a soft somewhat sad sigh escaping him. A date!? Why did he have to phrase it like that?
As the door closed behind him, Keith let out the breath he didn’t realise he had been holding. A date?
They both kind of wished it was.
Chapter 9: Coffee and Flowers
Keith and Lance go for coffee.
And they actually talk flowers.
But it's not a date.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
It should also be said that I know next to nothing about floristry and even less about bridal floristry, nor do I know anything about exercise phsyiology, so if there is anything glaringly incorrect please let me know.
Keith spent the rest of his morning distracted, his mind constantly focused on the end of his shift. His gaze kept flitting to the clock after each customer, after each bouquet was straightened, after he had wiped down the counter for the fifth time already. With a resigned sigh, Keith picked up the broom to sweep the floor. He’d only been at work for an hour or so and it looked like it was going to be a slow day. Great. It was exactly what he needed when he wanted nothing more than to be out the door and sitting in a cafe with Lance talking about flowers.
In the quieter moments of the day, when the blooms were all neatly on display and the floor was clear of any slip hazards, Keith browsed the selections of bouquets available in their brochure. He had no idea what Lance had planned but Keith had his own ideas for the floral arrangements. He hoped that Lance was open to ideas; he might have been organising the wedding and taking care of colour schemes and decorations, but there was more to floral arrangement than just ‘oh this is a pretty flower’. Keith thought back to Lance’s comment when he initially suggested their meeting. It seemed like Lance wanted to just talk about colours and decorations, so maybe he hadn’t really given much thought to the flowers? Maybe Lance wanted to know what blossoms would go best with the decorations and table settings he had chosen? Perhaps he was wanting to tell Keith about the clothing that the bridal party would be wearing so he could get a start on designing their bouquets? Keith glanced up at the clock and his shoulders dropped dejectedly.
Two and a half hours to go.
Lance found it very difficult to concentrate during his second lesson of the morning. His mind kept wandering to just a handful of hours into the future to when he’d be seeing Keith. Meeting Keith? Meeting was a better word to use. It wasn’t a date and therefore he wasn’t seeing Keith, even though he really wished that he’d just rolled with it and said it was a date. Keith’s reaction was a little unexpected; he didn’t seem completely disgusted by the idea of a date, but he didn’t really seem into it either. He had actually seemed surprised by the suggestion, almost as though he didn’t think that anyone would ask him on one. Hmm. Maybe Lance could ask him if they bonded over coffee? He could feel the heat rising from his cheeks as he thought about it.
Asking Keith about dating in general. Not to actually ask him out on one.
“Are you okay, Lance?” his student asked. “You’re looking a bit red.”
“Yeah, sorry. I just thought of this one time I was in a competition and I stepped on my skirt and I accidentally tore it from the bodice. Most. Embarrassing. Thing. Ever.” He laughed nervously.
The girl laughed. “I can only imagine!”
“From the top?” Lance asked.
“You’re the teacher!”
The end of the lesson came quickly enough, which Lance was thankful for, but it also meant that he had a void of three and a half hours to fill before he met up with Keith. He didn’t want to be early, because that’s what you did on proper dates but he didn’t want to be late because that was rude and Lance tried his best to be polite. With a sigh, he sat in a corner of the dance studio and took out a couple of his textbooks to do some revision. He had exams coming up on a few weeks, and with a wedding to organise and classes to teach, getting in some early study definitely wouldn’t go astray.
“I’m surprised you’re still here.” Pidge had noticed that Lance hadn’t left right away.
Lance tapped his text book. “Just doing some study.”
Pidge nodded knowingly, “Nothing to distract you here, huh?”
Lance grinned and went back to his textbook. “Something like that.”
The bell to the florist chimed and Keith looked up from where he was taking the bouquets from their stands to transfer them to the trolley for the cool room with a smile.
“I’m sorry but we’re closed for the day.” Keith pauseed when he realised that the customer was Lance, peering into the store but not entering. His voice came out sounding a little strangled. “Did I forget to change the sign over?”
“Nah, the sign is all good. I just wanted to say that I know I’m a bit early so I’ll just be waiting outside, okay?”
“I’ll be closing up shortly, so I won’t be long.”
As soon as Lance closed the door, Keith hid behind the trolley for a second, willing his face to cool down. So what that Lance had arrived early? He probably had nothing better to do or overestimated how long it would take to arrive. It didn’t mean anything. Did it? It couldn’t mean anything. It’s not like Lance was taking him out on a date...and it’s not like he was taking Lance out, either. Right?
Keith quickly put the flowers into the cool room, emptied out the buckets and set them in their rightful place. He tidied the bench and carefully counted the till twice. It was difficult to do when he was feeling so inexplicably flustered but he still managed to finish on time. Keith set the store’s security system before dashing to the door, locking it behind him.
Lance raised an eyebrow when Keith scurried out, almost tripping.
“I have ten seconds to leave the building after I arm the security system,” he explained as he put his keys into a zipped pocket.
“Oh. And here I thought you were really excited to see me, Keith.”
“I am,” Keith replied instantly.
Lance blinked, caught off guard by the comment. “Oh, um...”
“I mean, that is...I’ve been looking forward to talking about flowers for the wedding.”
“Right,” Lance said. “Of course! I know a cute little coffee shop just down the road, shall we head there?”
Keith nodded, not trusting himself to speak without making a complete ass of himself. He practically just announced that he had been waiting all day just to see Lance.
“Great! Sorry I was early, by the way,” Lance began as he lead them to the cafe. “I was doing some study at the studio but it got to a point where I really was struggling to remember the various recommended exercise regimes for people who are going through rehabilitation for prosthetic limbs so I figured I’d just arrive here early. I mean, you’d figure that I’d be good at remembering that, considering I work with Shiro, but ugh my brain was just not computing today.” He was rambling, Lance knew it, but he was nervous on this not-date with Keith and when he was nervous, Lance talked and talked and talked.
“What do you study again?”
“Exercise physiology. It’s a branch of health science that specialises in exercise and movement for the management of various diseases and injuries.”
Lance feigned hurt. “I’m not just made of dashing good looks and sweet moves, you know?” He tapped his head with a finger. “I have brains as well!”
Keith hid a laugh behind a hand. “I’ve never said you didn’t have brains.”
“Yeah, but you were thinking it.”
“I really wasn’t. I meant that it’s impressive that you’ll be able to help people with their injuries or illnesses. I didn’t mean that it was impressive that you were studying something like that. I don’t think you’re stupid, Lance.”
“Oh...uh, thanks I guess?”
Lance held the door open to the cafe and allowed Keith to enter first. Neither thought anything of the gesture.
Keith looked over his shoulder and back to Lance with a smile. “No problem.”
Quiznak, Lance thought to himself as he realised he had been staring at the soft smile on Keith’s face for slightly too long.
The cafe that Lance took Keith to was small and quaint. Keith had walked down this street dozens of times and hadn’t ever noticed it. The interior was warm and inviting, full of little knick-knacks and stationery that gave the place an overall vintage feel. There were a few lounges on the back and side walls that looked incredibly comfy where students had settled themselves down for some study time. Other patrons filled the tables and Lance headed over to an empty table towards the lounges at the back. Keith couldn’t believe that he’d never noticed this place before; it seemed busy enough that he surely would have noticed a bustling cafe.
Despite those first few awkward moments where Lance offered Keith a seat and went to pull it out for him and Keith opened the conversation with “Do you come to this cafe often?”, the pair quickly warmed up to one another. For some reason, they were both painfully aware that this was their first meeting outside of the dance studio that wasn’t specifically for dance reasons. Lance carried most of the conversation, nervousness making him babble a little, but Keith didn’t seem to mind. Lance stuck to safe topics, like how Keith’s work day was or what his favourite kind of coffee to drink was. In a similar decision to stick to safe topics, Keith asked Lance about his studies and how he was going with learning the choreography for the wedding. It was only when they were interrupted by the waitstaff bringing them their drinks did Keith remember that this wasn’t meant to be a ‘getting to know Lance’ sort of meeting.
“So, flowers for the wedding?” Keith asked.
“Right.” Lance leaned forward, elbows on the table. “Wedding flowers. Well, as you can likely guess, I know nothing about flowers and I know they’re like, the third most important thing for the day next to the wedding dress and cake. So I knew I’d at least need a florist to order the flowers, if I was going to do this all on my own, but I’m not stupid enough to try and arrange them myself when I want this day to be perfect. No one knows what flowers mean anymore unless you’re a florist, so it probably doesn’t matter too much but I do not want to accidentally put together a bouquet that means ultimate galaxical destruction or something.”
“I don’t think that’s a word, Lance.”
“Sure it is. It’s like, universal destruction,” Lance explained, gesturing widely with his hands, “but on a smaller scale. Like only being limited to a galaxy or two or three. Galaxical. Anyways, I don’t want to mess up the meaning of the flowers so, yeah, that’s where you come in, obviously, being a florist and all. As I’ve mentioned, I have an idea of a colour scheme already but I know flowers are important and Shiro is your brother and it’s his wedding too so...if you need different colours for the table settings or something, we can try to work it out. Sorry to say that we can’t change the colour of the gowns and suits though. At the moment it’s looking to be blues and purples for sure. I’m leaning more towards trying to emulate an ethereal feel and tying in Allura’s passion for the stars. Blues and purples seems like a nice palette to work with. I kinda wish we’d known sooner that you were doing the flowers. We could have been working together on things from the start before I’d decided anything.”
Keith nodded and took a sip of coffee. “That...actually sounds really nice. The blues and purples I mean. We can work in a variety of colours too for depth and contrast since nebulae and other star systems come in various colours.”
“Yeah?” Lance’s eyes all but sparkled with interest.
Nearly everyone rolled their eyes whenever he mentioned that he was trying to combine Allura’s love of the stars and planets into the wedding. He wasn’t about to get a scaled down replica of the solar system and hang it from the ceiling, but he could definitely work in some star and galaxy motifs. The fairy lights he had planned were going to look killer.
“When Shiro first asked me about the flowers, I was thinking of arranging posey bouquets for the bridal party and a cascading bouquet for Allura.” Keith tapped his chin, “Though considering that Allura’s bridal party is yourself and Hunk maybe hand held bouquets for the bridal party aren’t the best option.”
“Hunk and I love flowers. Just because we’re dudes doesn’t mean we can’t have bouquets!” Lance scooped the froth from the top of his latte, licking the spoon.
Keith chuckled. “I know. I was only saying that because the ones I was thinking of are quite small. They’d be much better suited to women or people who are smaller in stature. You and Hunk are both kinda big so a bigger bouquet would probably look better in your hands.”
“See, you don’t want the bouquet to be too small because it is meant to be a part of the whole outfit,” Keith explained. “On the other hand, you don’t want it so large that it overpowers everything unless you specifically want the bouquet to be the centre of attention. Usually brides and bridesmaids want the dresses to be the focal point, so the flowers are meant to enhance and draw attention to the gown. Or, suits, I suppose in your case.”
“Hmm, I think we definitely want attention on the clothing. I am ninety percent certain that Allura has picked her dress and if its the one I think it is, she is going to look absolutely stunning. Shiro is probably going to die when he sees her walking down the aisle.”
“Could you get me a picture of it? And of the suits you and Hunk are wearing? That way I can start to think about the bouquets and other floral arrangements.”
“Sure. I’ll message you when I can get it. Allura has another fitting next week before she decides for sure, so I can get it then.”
Keith finished off his coffee and sat quietly for a moment, pondering something. “You should come into the shop one day so I can check out the size for the bouquets. Allura isn’t too much shorter than you and that way I can keep this as much of a surprise as I can.”
“Are you sure you want to keep it a secret from her? I mean, won’t she want to see the flowers to give them the seal of approval?”
Keith grinned. “I’m good at what I do. Shiro trusts me.”
“Well, yeah, but...”
“And you will too, just you wait.”
Lance busied himself by drinking the rest of his coffee in one big gulp. When he set the cup down, he hoped that he wasn’t as red as he felt. It was like his cheeks were on fire. “So, we still good for Thursday night at Pidge’s place for practice?”
Keith groaned. “Yes. I’m going to need so much practice for the Viennese waltz and cha cha.”
Chapter 10: Nervous Chatter
Keith hangs out with Shiro and Allura.
Lance and Hunk bond over the phone.
Lance cannot stop talking when he's nervous.
Lance finds out that Keith is not like Pidge.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
For any Shallura shippers - there's a little something here for you! (I am so sorry this is so light on the Shallura...).
If anyone is interested, Shiro and Allura are dancing Swing / East Coast Swing. I was looking at some Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman videos for inspiration.
It had been a little while since Keith had gone out with just Shiro and Allura. They had been so busy recently with work, trying to save money for the wedding and then planning things out, that the weeks had skipped by without anyone really noticing. Shiro’s call late one night after he had Allura had finished up at the studio had taken Keith by surprise. Although Keith was usually one to stay indoors once he had returned home for the evening, he had quickly showered and dressed before heading out to meet up with his brother and Allura at a small lounge bar that they often went to. It was a place that had been designed with comfort in mind with plush lounges and comfortable seats at the low tables. The lighting was dim, the decor warm and inviting, the atmosphere laid back and relaxing. Live music was often playing. Usually the musicians were local artists or bands trying to make a break with one-off performances but there were a number of artists with regular gigs. It wasn’t the sort of place that one would go to in order to get blind drunk; it was where friends could catch up for a nice drink or two and good conversation. The musicians and bartenders were skilled and the place had the added bonus of a small dance floor that people were encouraged to use. Shiro and Allura liked it for that very reason.
The three sat at one of the tables; Shiro and Allura occupying the lounge while Keith took one of the squishy lounge chairs. He sunk back into the cushions, taking a sip of his drink.
“I know I’ve said it before, Keith, but I honestly cannot thank you enough for agreeing to do the floristry for our wedding,” Allura said with a smile.
“I’m happy to be able to do it for you. I’m just sorry I can’t do it for free...”
“We didn’t ask you because we thought we could get free flowers,” Shiro said.
“I know. At the same time, I know you don’t have endless money to spend on things though so...”
“Truly, you’re doing more than enough for us already.”
The sentiment made Keith smile into his drink. He liked Allura. Things had been a little shaky between them at one point, both of them feeling hurt and jealous over Shiro splitting his time between them. However, they had reflected on their actions and apologised, quickly putting the past behind them and becoming friends.
“Speaking of flowers...Allura, when you have your next dress fitting, would you be able to take a photo of the dress and send it to me? I promise I wont show Shiro,” Keith added quickly when he noticed her unsure expression.
“Well, I want to make sure that I’m choosing colours that compliment and contrast nicely with your dress. It’s better if I have a visual, rather than just a description to go by.”
Allura contemplated Keith’s comment for a moment, taking a slow sip of her wine.
“Only if you do not show Shiro.”
“I swear it on his life.”
“Please don’t use my fiancée as insurance,” Allura chuckled.
“Fine. I swear it on my guitar, then.”
Shiro laughed. “I can promise you, with his guitar on the line, Keith won’t be showing anyone the photo you send.”
“Except the wedding planner,” Keith mumbled into his drink.
“Good! I can’t have the groom-to-be seeing pictures of my wedding dress before he’s supposed to.”
There was a lull in the conversation for a few minutes as they listened to the musicians on the small stage. From the corner of his eye, Keith watched as Allura leaned into Shiro’s side, offering him her glass. She held it up to his lips, a laugh escaping her when Shiro gently closed his hand around her wrist to take the glass in his other hand. She watched him intently as he tasted the wine, trying to discern whether or not he liked it. Wordlessly, Allura took up Shiro’s glass, experimentally sniffing it before taking a hesitant sip. Almost instantly her nose scrunched up and she made a face as though she had eaten a sour grape. She held out the glass for Shiro to take and hastily took a gulp of her own drink to try and mask the horrid flavour. He laughed as he laced his fingers with Allura’s and gave her a soft kiss on the cheek before turning to Keith.
“So, classes have been going well?” Shiro asked, striking up conversation once more.
“You’re doing all right with Lance as your teacher? Shiro was a little worried you wouldn’t get along.”
“Shiro!” Keith exclaimed.
“What?” He said defensively, “You can be a bit of a handful sometimes.”
Keith rolled his eyes. “Lance is fine. I mean, at first I thought he was a bit of a jerk but it turns out that it’s just the way he is. Being confident and a little bit cocky, I mean.”
Allura smiled knowingly. “He can be a bit much sometimes. Though I expect if you’re only seeing him in class, I doubt he’s being too inconvenient.”
“It’s not that. I think Pidge said it best when they said he is an experience.”
“Pidge tells us you’re putting in a lot of practice outside of the studio, too.”
Keith felt his cheeks grow warm. He hadn’t really meant for anyone to know about the extra practices, but he supposed he hadn’t sworn either Pidge or Lance to secrecy.
“I’m...I’m having fun, actually,” Keith admitted. “More fun than I thought I would.”
“Yeah. Its been good.”
“So you’ll be ready to join us for rehearsals soon then?” Allura asked.
“I’m putting in extra time so I can learn all of the ballroom dances as soon as I can. I’ve covered the waltz, the foxtrot, quickstep and Viennese waltz. It needs more practice, but I’m much better at it then when I first learned it in class.”
“You’ve not done any Latin dances yet?”
Keith grumbled mostly to himself, his face pulled into a frown. “Latin dances are hard. I’ve touched on the cha cha but...”
“You’ll get it eventually, Keith. You know Hunk, right?”
“Latin dances aren’t his favourite either. It took him a while to get the hang of them. Not everyone is as instantly brilliant as Shiro is.”
“Besides,” Shiro cut in, “You’ve actually got the best teacher for the Latin dances anyway. Each of the instructors at Altea have their preferences and Lance prefers the Latin dances. Not that he always sticks to the technically correct way of dancing them...”
“You should see him salsa,” Allura said with a glint in her eye.
The song that had been playing ended and a nice piece began. Shiro turned his head slightly towards the stage, a crooked smile on his face and Keith missed the chance to ask his brother what he had meant. Shiro stood and leaned over slightly, extending a hand to Allura.
“Would you like to dance, Princess?”
With a laugh Allura slid her hand into Shiro’s and he pulled her to her feet. Keith settled back into his chair, watching as the pair made their way to the small dance floor.
He didn’t know what kind of dance they were dancing; it was fast paced and full of twirls, dips and leans. Both Shiro and Allura used lots of hand motions and head turns as they cut across the floor and slipped into spaces around other dancers. They never really stopped moving, each movement flowing into the next seamlessly. Although Shiro had asked Allura to dance, it was she who was leading them. Keith had noted a few odd looks from other dancers and other onlookers, but neither Allura nor Shiro seemed to care. She had complete confidence in how she was leading Shiro, guiding him into spins and dips with a certainty that left no room for hesitation on his part. Shiro, on the other hand, had complete faith in Allura’s lead. He trusted she would catch him when he fell into her arms, that she would guide him safely past all the other dancers. As Keith sat there, watching his brother and future sister-in-law dancing, he watched closely and wondered if perhaps he might ever be half as good as they were.
One night a month, Lance would mix up an organic face mask (this time around it was a coffee-cocoa mask he had been dying to try) and call Hunk for a good gossip session. Though more often than not they’d just talk about things they had done outside of the studio, cool things they had found out or interesting recipes they had stumbled across in glossy magazines or food blogs. Despite teaching a number of classes together with their busy schedules neither of the young men had much time to just chill out together. This was a nice compromise that gave Lance the chance to unwind in his favourite way and it gave Hunk some time out for himself as well. Often with Lance on the phone Hunk would potter around the kitchen, doing some much needed tidying up or other house work that he just kept putting off. He found housework relaxing once he had managed to convince himself to start.
“Dude,” Came Hunk’s voice down the line.“What you’re describing to me is a date.”
“You basically went on a date, Lance.”
“I know, Hunk!”
“And Keith didn’t realise?”
Lance sighed, stirring the ingredients for his face mask in the small plastic bowl he reserved for such things.
“Neither of us did, really. I mean, I know I jokingly said it was a date at first, but I was just using the expression ‘it’s a date!’, y’know?” Although Lance couldn’t see, Hunk was nodding along as he spoke. “But then Keith kinda went a bit quiet and I was like, ‘Oh quiznak’ because I thought that he might have thought I meant it was a date-date when I didn’t really mean it that way. As soon as I said it was just an expression he relaxed and that was that. But afterwards...”
There was the sound of a loud thud followed by a cacophony of clashing sounds.
“Hunk? You okay buddy?”
“Sorry, sorry! Dropped the spice rack. I’m going through my pantry staples and checking use-by dates. Continue? What happened after?”
“But afterwards I kind of felt a bit sad? Nah, not sad...” Lance paused, trying to think of the right word to describe the emotion he had felt. “I think I was a bit disappointed in myself? Like I kind of wished I’d actually just said ‘Yeah! It’s a date’?”
“I think I can understand,” Hunk said.
“So anyways, I was meant to stay at the studio to study and arrive at Keith’s work on time, but I ended up arriving ten minutes early somehow. Ten minutes, Hunk! You’re only ever that early for actual dates!”
“Actually, Lance, most people are early for any sort of meet up,” Hunk tried to explain.
“Hunk, you’re meant to be consoling me or something.” Lance dabbed the mixture onto his face, smoothing it out evenly.
“Okay, yeah. Everyone arrives that early for a date and only dates.”
“Exactly. So when he finally finishes work and I meet him outside, I did that thing I do where I just automatically flirt because it’s my default setting to diffuse any awkward situation, right?”
“You know, you’re actually really good at that. Diffusing tension I mean. Flirting I’m unsure about because I’m pretty sure your success rate is sitting at about twenty percent. But diffusing tension, I’d say you’re at least on ninety-six percent.”
“I’m serious. It’s one of your many talents.”
Lance had to force himself not to smile, lest he crack the face mask that was setting. “Thanks man.”
“Any time. So...flirting to diffuse the tension?”
“Right! So, Keith came out of the shop he works in and I was like ‘aww, and here I thought you were excited to see me?’, cos that’s like typical Flirty Lance, and he actually replied! He said ‘I am’. Dude!”
“Dude! Was he flirting back with me for real? Or did he not notice and thought I meant it like a genuine question!? I’ve been thinking about this all afternoon, and all day and for the past forever, Hunk!”
“It happened like three days ago, Lance.”
“Okay, okay. I don’t know the guy well enough to tell, Lance. He’s best friends with Pidge, yeah? Maybe he takes things super literally. Like how everything that comes out of Pidge’s mouth is sarcastic, maybe Keith just takes everyone’s words at their face value?”
“Hunk. Not helping. Legit flirting back or not?”
Lance could hear a soft sniff by the phone followed by a muted sound of disgust before the tell-tale crumple of a plastic bag as Hunk tossed out whatever stale food he had found in the back corner of the pantry.
“I’m gonna go with no,” Hunk decided.
Lance groaned and glanced at the timer left on his phone for his face mask and began to fill the sink with warm water.
“It gets worse, Hunk. As if I hadn’t already been accidentally blurting out that I wanted it to be a date....I held the door open for him at the cafe.”
“People hold doors for other people all the time, Lance.”
“And! I almost pulled out his chair so he could sit down. Hunk! Who does that if you’re not on a date?! And I swear he noticed it, too. On top of that, Keith opened the conversation with ‘do you come here often?’ and then! Then he complimented me and I said thanks and...and guess what happened after that, Hunk!”
“What happened after that, Lance?”
Lance carefully set about rinsing the face mask off.
“He turned around, Hunk! He turned around and looked over his shoulder at me with this goddamn smile. I could almost hear the quiznaking symphony playing in the background as my heart stopped and cherry blossoms floated down from the sky around us!”
There was a moment of silence whilst Hunk deliberated on what to say.
“I think you’re over thinking it, Lance.”
“And then we talked about flowers.”
“Well, that was the reason you were catching up with him, right? It would be weird if you didn’t talk about flowers.”
“Well, yeah, but then...then I ended the afternoon with some random comment about Allura probably wanting to see the flowers before the big day and he was like ‘Shiro trusts me’. Which is fine, I wasn’t about to argue that, but then he goes and says ‘you will too’. I swear to God, Hunk, my face was on fire.”
“That... that’s kinda almost like that scene in Aladdin, dude.”
“Not really Hunk.”
“I said kinda. It’s like that ‘do you trust me?’ bit.”
Lance hummed as he pondered. “I appreciate the sentiment you’re trying to convey, but I think my life is more like a goddamn rom com, Hunk! And half the time I can’t even tell I’m in it until after the moment has passed.”
“If it makes you feel any better,” Hunk said, and Lance could hear the smile in his voice, “Keith doesn’t realise he’s in the rom com either?”
Lance groaned loudly into the face cloth he was using to wipe the last of the face mask from his skin.
“Huuuuuunk. I don’t even know if he wants to be in a rom com in the first place.”
Although Hunk didn’t seem to have any particularly helpful information or ideas about Keith, he eagerly listened to Lance’s woes about life in general, comforted him through his distress about Shiro and Allura’s wedding and tried to pep him up for his looming exams. Hunk was a constant source of warm and loving energy in Lance’s life; there was just something about his friend that exuded a sense of calmness and serenity, when he wasn’t in the midst of an anxiety attack of his own. Similarly for Hunk, Lance was a source of courage and support, always offering a shoulder to lean on or words to encourage and inspire him. Whist Hunk sorted out his pantry, Lance cleansed, toned and moisturised his face before working a subtly scented almond oil into his skin and the pair chatted away into the late hours of the night.
Keith looked at his phone with dread, or was that nauseating excitement? He read Pidge’s message again just to make sure that he hadn’t misread it. It was a surprisingly a long message; Pidge was never the sort of person to send lengthy essay style messages.
Hey Keith. I’m not feeling well today at all, so I’m in bed and I won’t be able to do practice this week. I know I was kinda teasing you a while back about trying to get you alone with him, but I swear this isn’t on purpose. DO NOT CANCEL ON LANCE. Seriously. DO NOT CANCEL. I already messaged him and he’ll probably text you later about it. If he tells me you bailed, you will not like what happens. Just go to practice and think of it like one of your usual lessons. Or, you know, not? There’s nothing weird about making new friends and hanging out with them.
Keith’s reply was simple.
I hope you feel better soon.
Pidge didn’t need to know that he had thought about cancelling practice the second he’d received their message. They didn’t need to know that he immediately kicked himself for thinking that because Lance was doing him a favour by offering his time to go over things outside of class. Even if the idea of seeing Lance one on one made his stomach tumble, he wasn’t about to chicken out.
Keith dropped his phone as it buzzed in his hand. He stared at the screen for a moment, wondering why the buzzing was still continuing when he realised it was an incoming call.
“Hey! Keith, it’s Lance.”
“I know. Your name came up on caller ID.”
Keith could almost hear the face palm in Lance’s voice. “Right. Anyway, I figured I’d call to ask about today’s practice? Pidge said they weren’t able to make it so I was wondering if you wanted to reschedule or skip it for this week? I mean, you could come to my place if you wanted to or we could use the studio instead. I’m sure Shiro will let us stay back but I wasn’t sure if that was something you’d want without Pidge there. I know you guys are best friends and I don’t know if we —”
“Lance, sorry, but can I interrupt?” Keith asked. Lance fell silent and Keith continued. “I want to practice today.”
“O-oh. Really? That’s great!”
Keith smiled to himself. He didn’t want to explain the warmth that filled his chest when he heard the excited cheer in Lance’s voice, so he tried to ignore it. “I’ll see you at the studio in a little while then?”
“Yeah. I’ll see you soon, mullet-man.”
Keith ended the call and put his phone in his back pocket, feeling a little strange. Moments ago he had been looking forward to dance practice and now his stomach was churning like the rapids in the local swimming pool. That had been happening far more frequently recently, Keith had noted.
Everything had been (mostly) fine until a few days ago when Lance had kind-of-sort-of-not-really asked him out on a date.
Naturally, Keith had stumbled on blindly and made an ass of himself. Were he more self aware he could have acted all smooth and cool. Instead he stammered and stuttered as the perfect opportunity to say something passed by. It wasn’t until much later, when Keith was alone with his thoughts and replaying various moments from his past week that he realised something.
Keith groaned out loud and flopped onto the couch, covering his face with a cushion as he thought about it, again, for the umpteenth time since the cafe.
His catch up with Lance had totally been a date. How the hell was he supposed to face Lance knowing that!?
By the time he pulled up into the parking lot at Altea Studios, Keith had managed to talk himself out of turning around and driving home as fast as he could without being pulled over by a police officer. So what if his and Lance’s catch up could be seen as a date? Neither of them had said outright that it was a date and Lance had clarified that he had been joking before they had even met up. There was no reason to act all weird about what had happened and there was no reason to start over thinking things about their practice lesson. Keith would head up stairs, he hand Lance would practice for a good hour or so and then they’d go home and that was that.
Keith entered the studio cautiously; the fluorescent ceiling lights were switched off in favour of the few lamps in the studio and the music was quite loud considering that Lance was the only one there. He recognised the music from when Lance and Pidge were practicing at his weekend class, the music rising and falling like the swell of the ocean and Lanced moved along with it. Although he was dancing on his own, his arms were held up in the leader’s closed position, back straight and shoulders drawn back and down. Unlike during classes, Lance’s brow was furrowed and his lips were pursed in a look of concentration as he swept across the floor.
“That looks nice,” Keith said as he made his way over to the seats. “A new dance?”
Keith’s voice startled Lance out of his concentration and he squawked in surprise, his hand flying up to his chest to lay over his pounding heart.
“Oh my god, you scared the shit out of me, Keith!”
“Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s the Viennese waltz for Allura and Shiro.”
“Ah, that explains your look of intense concentration then.”
“I’m still trying to get it right, but that dance isn’t what we’re here for today. Tonight it’s all about you.” Lance paused awkwardly for what felt like an eternity but was really only less than a second. “Uh...that came out wrong. I meant that tonight we’re practicing the Viennese waltz so that you can learn the basics and eventually learn the start of the wedding dance.”
Keith gave Lance a smirk and stepped in close, waiting for Lance to take up the closed position. “I know what you meant, Lance.”
“Oh good, because I didn’t want you think that I was coming onto you,” Lance said.
There was a beat of silence.
“Not that I wouldn’t come onto you,” Lance hurried to add. “I mean you’re attractive and kind of nice after someone gets to know you, but now isn’t exactly an appropriate time to try it? And wow now it sounds like I’ve been waiting for a good time to try picking you up and oh my God, Lance, just stop talking...”
Even if he couldn’t see the blush on Lance’s face, Keith could feel the heat radiating from his dance partner as he blabbered his way into embarrassed oblivion. Without Lance realising, Keith took the lead’s position.
“I mean, I don’t even know if you’d be into guys trying to come onto you. You didn’t really seem to talk to the girls in the group class that one time I was there but then again, you didn’t really talk to anyone. I guess you kinda seem like Pidge, but at the same time -- quiznak, Lance! Shut up before you embarrass yourself any more!”
Keith chuckled. “I’m leading, Lance.”
He didn’t give Lance an opportunity to argue and lead him into a waltz. Keith assumed that once they’d started moving, Lance would calm down and after a song or two he could teach Keith the Viennese waltz. Keith hadn’t counted on Lance falling into an awkward silence though. Lance often drove their conversations, so now that he was too embarrassed to talk (lest he put his foot into his mouth again) the lack of conversation was painfully obvious and felt incredibly uncomfortable.
“I...I’m not like Pidge,” Keith eventually managed to say in an attempt to break the silence. He wasn’t the best at fishing around for conversational topics and so he latched onto one of the last things that Lance had been saying.
“What?” Lance had been stuck in his own head, reliving the past ten minutes and wishing he had a magical space lion so he could go back in time and change the past.
Keith guided Lance into a half turn. “I’m not like Pidge.”
Lance’s expression grew pinched and he stared at Keith’s face. Conveniently, Keith was looking everywhere but directly at Lance. Lance knew what he was trying to say when suggesting that Keith was ‘like Pidge’, but had Keith picked up on it? Did Keith think that Lance was asking if he was a sarcastic little genius of a person? Or did he really understand what Lance was hinting at? Keith didn’t seem to be all that adept at picking up on subtle cues, but then again, maybe he was good at it and just even better at pretending they didn’t exist?
“Ace, aro or neither?” Lance finally asked.
“Neither,” Keith replied. He was surprised that he had managed to keep his cool. Whilst he didn't intentionally keep his own preferences a secret, he wasn't exactly super keen to give out the information either.
“Ah. Not like Pidge.”
Keith nodded and could practically see Lance doing everything he could to keep himself quiet.
“What?” Keith asked as the song ended and after the next turn, Lance scooped Keith’s arms up into the follower’s position.
“It’s rude for me to ask, so we’re going to drop it and do what we came here to do. It’s time for you to properly go over the Viennese waltz.”
With a small nod, Keith let his arms drop from Lance’s hold so that he could break down the steps one by one and go over them slowly.
“Hey...how likely are you to want to be in a rom com?” Lance asked suddenly, half way through the breakdown of the steps.
“Would you want to be in a rom com? You know, a romantic comedy?”
“Uh...they’re generally not a genre I enjoy, but unlike the movies I watch at least they’re not getting chased down by monsters or something so...I guess it wouldn’t be a bad genre to be in?”
“Hmm... all right. Let’s go over the steps again. One, two, three, one, two, three...”
The entire time, Keith was dying to know what Lance had really wanted to ask, but if he was being honest with himself, he probably could have guessed.
Chapter 11: Rehearsals
Allura tries on the dress of her dreams.
Keith gets pictures of aforementioned dress.
Keith watches everyone at rehearsals.
Lance teaches Keith a new dance.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
I feel like this chapter is a little flat, sorry about that! I have a few interesting things planned for the next chapter though!
It was relatively early on Saturday morning; the streets were virtually empty with only the occasional car or pedestrian and many of the stores in the city hadn’t even opened yet. Lance and Allura sat at a small café, enjoying a morning coffee and quietly watching the passers by. They chattered every so often about wedding things: how Allura was going with making all of the name cards for the tables, how Lance was going with choosing the table settings and decorations, how Shiro was going with getting Matt to put together a playlist so that they wouldn’t have to hire a DJ, unless one of their friends volunteered.
The pair sipped their drinks, enjoying the quiet calm of the city before it began to bustle, but beneath their calm auras, there was an electric buzz of excitement. Allura was trying her best to contain herself but she could hardly wait until it was 9am so she and Lance could head down the street to a small boutique. She had been dying to go back since her first visit, her heart set on a unique wedding gown that she couldn’t have even dreamed of.
“Shall we head off then?” Lance asked sensing her restlessness.
“Yes!” Allura exclaimed excitedly. She gave him an apologetic smile as her shout drew the gaze of the few other people in the cafe.
With a laugh Lance set down his cup, hardly able to make Allura wait any longer. He noticed that she was often checking the time on her watch, trying to be subtle.
“Come on then, let’s go and try on the dress of your dreams.”
It wasn’t often that Keith would experience the sort of anxiety that would make him clam up. He would usually tackle the source head-on, letting the waves of uncertainty push him forwards, pure stubbornness being the only thing stopping him from turning around and running in the opposite direction.
Case in point: Lance.
However, this was something else entirely, a whole new level of ‘oh hell no’.
Keith wasn’t really the sort of person who would talk at length about the feelings from the depths of his heart or to say mushy things about someone. He wasn’t the sort of person who would even say that kind of thing one on one, let alone announce it to a room full of people he barely knew. Yet, here he was, named Shiro’s Best Man and thus needing to proclaim to their family and Shiro’s friends just how happy he was that his brother had found Allura and how glad he was to be able to call Allura his sister and welcome her to their family.
The thought of giving that type of speech was enough to make him crumple up the piece of paper he had written on and scribbled over dozens of times, only to be smoothed out a day or two later to try and pick up where he had left off.
Where should he even start? Research hadn’t really helped: begin with something witty and funny, be yourself, make people laugh but never make fun of the bride, share stories about his relationship with Shiro to make the crowd howl with laughter or cry or feel moved. He was supposed to mention how virtuous Shiro was, how Allura coming into Shiro’s life changed him for the better, how perfect of a couple they were and maybe throw in a quote or two about marriage. There were too many things to include and too many topics to think about mentioning that Keith had no idea how to write any of it. He didn’t particularly want to embarrass Shiro (though Pidge and Matt would both be very proud if he did) and he didn’t want to linger too long on how Allura was the sun of Shiro’s life. Keith knew next to nothing about love or marriage, with what little experience he had, and didn’t feel like he could or should wax poetry about the couple. With a sigh, Keith scrunched up the piece of paper he was attempting to write on and leaned back in his chair.
Speeches were hard.
He headed out into the living room and picked up his acoustic guitar. Playing always seemed to help clear his head and he supposed that in order to try writing something, maybe having a mind that wasn’t full of half-formed sentences might help.
Keith played nothing in particular, instead choosing to let his hand glide up and down the neck of the instrument as it wished, fingers automatically moving to form chords that melted together in a blissful harmony. Every few bars or so he would stop to jot down the chord progressions before picking up where he had left off, weaving together a piece of music that danced between sad yet peaceful and uplifting.
The sound of his phone buzzing on the table made him stop. He contemplated ignoring it, in favour of letting his improvisation run its course but he set the guitar to the side and reached for the phone.
Got those pics you wanted! Allura’s probably going to send you some more later too cos I took some pics on her phone.
As Keith was reading the message from Lance, the photos came through.
One photo was a shot from behind and slightly to the side of Allura so that he could see the back of the dress and the front of it reflected in the mirror. The other was a close up of Allura’s face. A smile tugged at Keith’s lips as he took in her expression: her eyes sparkled, her smile was wide and bright and her hands were clasped under her chin as she looked at the dress in the mirror. Keith was pretty sure he could see tears in the corners of her eyes.
The dress itself was absolutely stunning and Allura wearing it, even without her bridal makeup or hair done, looked gorgeous.
The gown had a sweetheart neckline with a fitted bodice that laced up at the back, the material of the tie criss-crossing to form a bow at the base of Allura’s spine. The skirt billowed out, just brushing the floor, reminiscent of a stereotypical princess dress. The colour was a deep indigo, sitting somewhere between purple and blue. From beneath the main skirt, Keith could see layers of lighter blue, white and pink peeking out. There were little specks all over the bodice and scattered over the skirt which Keith assumed were sequins or beads catching the light. Although it wasn’t traditional, it was very much Allura and Lance hadn’t been lying when he had said that Shiro was probably going to die when he saw her walking down the aisle.
Keith’s creative mind kicked into gear. As he had initially thought from Lance’s vague description, blue and purple flowers would go nicely with the dress indeed. Yellow blossoms would make a lovely contrast and he would even be able to work in some white and pink blooms to tie in with the theme of galaxies and stars. Now that he had seen the dress, Keith had dozens of ideas and he scrambled to write them all down, his guitar and worries about the speech forgotten. He could hardly wait to get into the shop and start arranging things.
Somehow Shiro had convinced Keith to go along to the next rehearsal that he and Allura were holding for Pidge, Hunk and Lance. He had said that he understood if Keith didn’t feel ready to start learning just yet but he felt that it was a good idea to come along just to see the dance. There was plenty Keith could pick up on just from observing.
That was how Keith found himself sitting in the studio on Saturday night, a box of Chinese takeaway in one hand and a pair of chopsticks in the other whilst he watched the instructors of Altea Dance Studios rehearse.
“Hey Lance,” Keith greeted as Lance walked into the studio.
“Didn’t expect to see you here, Mullet-man.”
Keith rolled his eyes. “You know I’d be here sooner or later.”
They both noticed that Pidge was watching them like a hawk, barely able to contain a smirk, like they knew something that Keith and Lance didn’t.
“I was expecting later. Much later. But hey, now there are even pairs! I wonder if you’ll be my partner, Keith.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, Maid of Honour, but I won’t be joining the rehearsals today,” Keith said, pointedly looking at Pidge, trying not to lose composure.
“What?! But I absolutely have to dance with the Best Man! There is no one else that I can possibly dance with.”
Both men found that they rather enjoyed watching the smirk fall from Pidge’s face and their expression change to one of disbelief which quickly morphed into suspicion.
“I was expecting great things from this revelation and you stole it from me! When did you guys figure it out?”
Lance tapped his chin as he set his bag down and began to stretch. “I can’t remember.”
“A likely story,” Pidge said with a halfhearted glare.
“It was the day we organised extra practices. Lance mostly pieced it together, actually. Somehow I mentioned I was Shiro’s brother and he puzzled it out from there.”
“Coincidentally that was when you guys started flirting with one another...were you guys screwing around with me then too, to try and throw me off?”
Lance glanced to Keith briefly. He wasn’t able to tell what Keith was thinking. It had started out like that, sure, but now Lance wasn’t too certain. Now that the cat was out of the bag, would their lighthearted flirtatious banter come to an end? Lance found himself hoping that it wouldn’t.
“Pidge. You know what Lance is like.”
They adjusted their glasses. “Indeed I do.”
Lance wasn’t sure he liked the way the light glinted off Pidge’s lenses. Quiznak.
“Y-yeah. We were just messing with you Pidge. It worked, right?”
Pidge huffed as Hunk entered the studio.
“I’m actually embarrassed to say that it did. I should know the both of you way better than that.”
“All right! Now that we’re all here, we can get started,” Allura announced once Hunk had signalled he was ready.
Shiro and Allura paired off to walk everyone through the steps and transitions, dancing together in a slow, overly exaggerated Viennese waltz. After each sequence, the others would pair up and go through the steps. Whomever wasn’t dancing with Lance would carefully watch and make corrections and adjustments where needed. They’d rotate partners, Pidge switching to Allura while Hunk and Lance paired up and Shiro made corrections.
“Pidge, your movements don’t need to be quite so sharp. Try relaxing a little more. You’ve definitely got the flow coming along though.”
“Hunk, your steps in that sequence were spot on but try to make them a little neater.”
“Lance, your pacing is excellent but you might need to shorten your stride a touch. Remember, your partner might not have the same proportions as you.”
Although they were all dancing the same dance, everyone had their own bit of style and flair shine through.
Pidge was used to fast, precise steps from their favoured dances of the foxtrot and quickstep. Whilst they were light on their feet, Keith could see that compared to Shiro and Allura, their steps were a little too snappy. The transitions and patterns connected, but Shiro and Allura gracefully swept across the floor, whereas Pidge would precisely cut across it.
Hunk had a little more flair, his arm movements big and showy. Every so often he’d remember that he was meant to be emanating grace and complacency and he would adjust his body language accordingly. He had a look of intense concentration on his face as he twirled around the room with Lance.
Lance was different depending on whom he was dancing with. With Pidge, his movements were considerably more controlled, his strides shorter to account for their smaller stature. With Hunk, the twirls and swaying were less intense, though he did match his friend’s enthusiastic arm movements. With Allura, Lance was more subdued, following her lead but not quite matching the quiet comfort that Allura was conveying.
“Remember,” Allura said as she demonstrated with Shiro. “For us, this represents what our lives were like before we met. We were happy, yes, but we hadn’t experienced much in the way of life or love. We hadn’t stepped out of our comfort zones; at this point we were only dance partners - we hadn’t even become friends yet.”
“It helps that the waltz is your dance of choice,” Pidge grumbled. “I’m definitely feeling out of my comfort zone.”
“Perhaps you can try thinking of something that is comforting to you while you dance?” Shiro suggested.
“Comfort isn’t really what you’re aiming for is, it?” Keith asked, speaking up out of the blue. He had been silent for most of the rehearsal. “At that point, you were both just coasting through life, right? Not exactly happy with things, but things were good enough that you were able to just continue along. I can’t speak for you, Allura, but I know Shiro had feelings for you much longer than you’d think. He might have told you. Probably has. I mean, you are engaged so...”
Shiro’s smile spoke volumes. “I didn’t want to ruin whatever tentative dance partnership we might have had by going and confessing to having romantic feelings. I was comfortable with what we had.”
“Hmm...I’m still not convinced that ‘comfort’ is the word to use.”
“What would you use then, Keith?” Shiro asked.
Keith thought for a moment. “Longing. Yearning. Pining?”
“You know, desperately longing for something? In Shiro’s case, wanting something more than friendship with Allura. So, beneath the sense of being okay with how things are, you’d want to try to convey a subtle desire for more. I guess it’s kind of tricky to show in a dance? Maybe?”
“Oh...That...I can understand that,” Lance said, mostly to himself.
“I don’t get it,” Pidge said dryly.
“Oh! I know! I know!” Hunk exclaimed, “Pidge, maybe try imagining what it was like before we established that hugs were okay and you wanted someone to be close to sometimes but you didn’t want them to get the wrong idea.”
Keith smiled knowingly. Pidge wasn’t much of a physically affectionate person, but there were times when they wanted nothing more than someone warm to snuggle up with on the couch or on a bed. The human contact was nice and it was warm and loving; it was just difficult for them to make sure that all parties were aware it was platonic, a simple hug between friends or someone they thought of like family.
“Okay...I’ll give it a try.”
Keith settled back in his chair.
“Once more from the top then!” Allura announced.
Lance always looked forward to his lessons with Keith. He couldn’t really explain why he had so much fun teaching him; although Keith picked things up relatively quickly, it wasn’t like he was some kind of dancing prodigy nor was he just a pretty face, giggling and blushing every time they danced close. Teaching Keith was refreshing. He didn’t complain about having to hold hands or waists, he didn’t laugh or titter nervously whenever they touched. Keith was focused and strangely enough, determined. Keith wanted to learn. He wanted to dance and he wanted to do it well. Though, Lance reasoned, having to dance with professional dancers at your brother’s wedding was a decent enough reason to want to put in the effort. Nonetheless, Lance felt that Keith was just enjoying learning how to dance regardless of his reasons for beginning.
He hoped that he also had something to do with making learning enjoyable for Keith.
Lance always looked forward to his lessons with Keith, but recently he had been nothing short of excited when the weekend rolled around and Sunday’s class was close. After everything with giving Keith his number to the Not Date where they talked about flowers and then the horribly awkward conversation where Lance kind-of-sort-of sounded like he was hitting on Keith (but not) and learning that Keith wasn’t aroace like Pidge... well...
He knew now exactly what that little flutter that he sometimes felt when he took Keith’s hand in his was, he knew what the giddy anticipation meant whenever he looked forward to seeing Keith. Lance knew what the cause of the incredible screech that echoed throughout Hunk’s apartment the first time Keith had texted was and he knew why he kept saying way too much around him.
Lance didn’t really want to name it though; it was far too soon and he was still only just getting to know Keith. Besides, Lance had told himself countless times already, he didn’t even know if Keith was interested in dating. Although Lance knew that Keith was interested in people, he didn’t know what kinds of people he liked. Maybe Keith only liked girls? Maybe he was still figuring things out and wasn’t very sure? Lance most certainly didn’t want to make Keith uncomfortable but he had seemed receptive enough to his flirtatious advances, even if sometimes he had to backpedal because he felt that he’d pushed a little too far.
“Mornin’ Keith!” Lance called as the doors to the studio swing open.
“Hey,” Keith replied as he made his way to the seats to put his things down. “Sorry I’m a bit late.”
Lance shrugged. “Actually, we’re early, so it’s fine.”
“What are we learning today?”
“I was going to suggest the samba, but since you’re still struggling with the cha cha I was thinking maybe we could try something else.”
Keith dubiously stepped into the middle of the room.
“And that is...”
Lance spun around on his heel, a fake rose clamped between his teeth.
“The dance of passion!” His words were slow and a pronounced a little strangely as he spoke around the stem in his mouth.
Keith looked perplexed. “The what?”
Lance took the rose from his mouth. “Uh, hello! The tango?”
“Oh. Why didn’t you just say that? And what’s with the rose?”
Lance pulled his phone from his pocket, selected his tango playlist and put it back in his pocket once more. He tossed the rose onto the floor somewhere.
“Showmanship.” Lance rolled his eyes when Keith’s expression remained blank. “Clearly it’s something we’re going to have to work on. Okay! The tango. I think you’ll like this one a lot. Now, unlike most of the other dances we’ve done so far, the steps are a little different if you’re following, so we’ll go through the leader’s steps and then we’ll go through the follower’s steps. I personally love following in a tango - you can add some real flare and artistic flourishes to it. I think you’ll probably prefer leading for this dance and if I’m honest, it matches your personality nicely. Same with the paso doble, actually, which we’ll be going over next week.”
Keith nodded along as Lance spoke. “Okay, so the follower’s steps are different. I’ll remember.”
“Good! Step with me while I go through this.” Lance waited for Keith to stand beside him before continuing. “Left foot to the side, right foot together then forward - here you want to make sure you’re stepping on the outside of your partner’s body, and it’ll make sense when we’re dancing together - left step forward, right foot together and pause briefly. Left foot steps forward, right forward and to the side slightly, left comes up to meet the right.”
“Doesn’t seem so bad.”
“Ready to give it a try then as a pair? I’ll be doing a slightly different step when you’re stepping with your left foot just before the pause because I’m following.”
Lance hadn’t been wrong when he said that Keith would like the tango. It was slow enough that he could concentrate on his steps without worrying about the pace of the dance or whether he was leading properly or not. Lance was doing very little guiding, letting Keith lead the dance on his own. Keith had noted the changes to the steps that Lance had mentioned so when it was finally his turn to follow, he didn’t struggle too much despite the awkwardness of crossing one foot over the other in the dance. Lance lead Keith a little slower whilst he learned the follower’s pattern and there was a distinct sensuality to Lance’s leading compared to Keith’s, even if they were dancing just the basic pattern. In turn, Keith found himself matching Lance’s poise, his steps languid yet precise. When Lance had said the tango, Keith’s mind had immediately conjured up images of slow, sensual dancing with leg hooks and slow touches. He had thought it would feel weird dancing like this with Lance but it didn’t. Although there were no leg hooks or slow touches, there was something between them in just these basic steps. Or, rather, Keith felt that there definitely could be something if he was brave enough to step forward and embrace it. Whatever that something was.
“So...” Lance began as the first student for the next class entered the studio, “Did I sweep you off your feet?”
Keith huffed good-naturedly. “Not this time, Lance.”
Lance laughed and dropped out of Keith’s hold. “Oh well, there’s always next lesson.”
Keith rolled his eyes and shook his head with a smile as he headed over to where his bag sat.
Chapter 12: A Little Nudge
Hunk and Lance talk about cake.
Keith runs late for dance class.
Keith gets a chance to dance with Hunk.
Keith gets a little bit of a nudge in the right direction.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure in Writing
I only managed to get a couple of the things I had planned into this chapter. I haven't had as much time to write recently due to new living arrangements, but I wanted to get a chapter out.
I have also taken some liberties at the flower shop because...I have no idea what they do with flowers that aren't fit for selling.
Initially, Lance had intended on finding a baker for the wedding cake. It was a big job and needed to be done as close as possible to the day. When he had found out that Lance was looking at bakeries for wedding cakes, Hunk had insisted that Allura allow him to bake her wedding cake even though he was part of the bridal party. In return, Lance had promised that Allura’s hen’s night wouldn’t be the night before the wedding. Hunk absolutely needed the day (and night) prior to the wedding for cake-baking purposes, no exceptions. Lance was more than happy to give Hunk what he wanted; it made Lance’s life as the wedding planner much easier, knowing that the cake was in expert hands.
When he wasn’t dancing, Hunk was working in a small patisserie with his long-time partner, Shay. His cookies were scrumptious, his eclairs and sweet pastries to die for and his cakes were works of art. Cooking was his passion in life. He enjoyed dancing, but cooking was the thing that made his heart sing.
Lance, after receiving Allura’s assent, was set on a space-themed wedding. He had promised that it would be tasteful; no old space travel posters or aluminium foil wrapped around the backs of the chairs. He already had figured out the lighting and was well on his way with the table decorations. The flowers were still up in the air, but truly, how spacey could one make a bouquet? The cake, however, was going to be stunning. He wanted people to look at the cake and not want to look away. He wanted it to have presence and as soon as he mentioned a space cake to Hunk, the baker was sold on the idea.
Countless cakes had been baked; red velvet, chocolate and caramel mud cake. Each had been good, but none had felt right. This time, Hunk had baked a mixed berry cheesecake for something different.
“Why cheesecake though?”
“Well, you weren’t digging the mud cakes and I don’t think red velvet is a good choice for a space theme. Black velvet could be cool, but I don’t know how you or Allura would feel about a pitch black wedding cake. It would look really cool if I was icing it in pure white frosting because that contrast would be amazing but it doesn’t really fit with the space theme. I’m thinking of sticking to that palette of blues, purples, pinks and whites you mentioned.”
“Do you think cheesecake is gonna be it?”
“To be honest, I just really wanted cheesecake.”
Lance laughed. “I think maybe we could just use a butter cake? Or white chocolate mud cake?”
Hunk hummed appreciatively as he carefully removed the baked berry cheesecake from the cooled tin.
“I think so too. And the light colour for the batter gives me some flexibility with colouring the cake too. I could make it light blue or lavender which would look super impressive when you cut into it, especially if I use a midnight blue icing.”
The pair fell into a comfortable silence while Hunk scraped the vanilla bean frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
“So how’s all the other stuff coming along?” Hunk asked.
Lance leaned over the bench and swirled his finger through the frosting in the bowl.
“Well,” he began, licking his finger. “I’ve got most of the table decorations done, thankfully. Name cards for the guests and vases for the arrangements on the tables are almost finished. I’ve got the lighting sorted out and Shiro is taking care of the music. The venue is all booked and the menu is sitting with Allura and Shiro for final tweaks. Oh! And she finally managed to find the dress of her dreams! Flowers are a work in progress, but I have it on good authority that they’re in excellent hands, much like the cake is.”
“This cake is in the best hands in all the universe,” Hunk said as he carefully finished off the frosting.
“Oh, believe me, I know it is. Is the icing going to be that sparse on the actual cake?” Lance asked. The frosting was only a very thin layer in some areas, allowing the crust of the cheesecake to peek through. It created an interesting effect; one that Lance actually quite liked.
“On the final product I’ll probably use a little more icing so not quite as much of the cake can be seen, but I’m not going to be covering it in an inch of buttercream or fondant. I’ll make a practice one like the real deal a few weeks out so you can give it the thumbs up.”
“I’m sure it’ll be great, Hunk.”
“I know it will, but I also know that you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to make this perfect.”
Lance took another finger of icing, “Thanks man.”
“So if the organisation is coming along well and we’re slowly learning the choreography...I gotta ask...how’s lessons with Keith going?”
Lance straightened, oddly quiet. He avoided Hunk’s gaze as he turned to lean against the bench, looking around the room.
“I think they’re going pretty well. He’s a decent student, actually. I know having a wedding to prepare for is a pretty decent incentive to try, I think he’s actually enjoying himself? I know he practices outside of class with me and Pidge, but I’m pretty sure he practices on his own sometimes too. He’s definitely picking the basics up really quickly.”
He could feel Hunk’s stare on his back.
“I think he’ll be ready to start learning Shiro’s choreo pretty soon,” Lance continued. “I think he might struggle with some of the fancier footwork in the beginning because we’re only covering basics, but he’ll get it eventually and it should be good enough for the wedding. You’ll hardly be able to tell he’s only been dancing for a few months.”
“I’m glad to hear that but...you know that isn’t really what I was asking.”
Lance looked over his shoulder at Hunk with a cheeky grin. “What were you asking then, because all I heard was ‘how is class going’?”
Hunk rolled his eyes and put the finishing touches on the iced berry cheesecake.
“Now you’re just being difficult.”
“Aren’t I always, Hunk?”
“You know, I could deny you cheesecake.”
Lance turned around to face Hunk, eyes wide with feigned shock. “You wouldn’t!”
Hunk’s gaze turned steely for a playful moment. “You know I would. Now spill.”
Lance melted into a puddle on the bench, his arms dangling over the other side of it as he stretched his torso across.
“I don’t know. I keep thinking about how he’s going — he really is improving at a fantastic rate —and then I remember that he’s just doing this for the wedding and...”
“And?” Hunk prompted after a few lengthy moments of silence.
“And I get kind of sad when I think that this might be all I’ll see of him. I want to keep dancing with him. It’s fun and, I don’t know Hunk, I feel like we could really dance well together.”
“Have you tried just dancing with him?”
Lance quirked an eyebrow. “How? At the moment he needs to focus on getting the basics down so he can build on that for the wedding dance. That’s all we’re working towards right now. I mean, if there was a comp coming up or something I could mention it...but he’s at an introductory level at best. Competitions would be waaaaaay off.”
“I don’t mean comps, I mean just in class. Go back over some of the first few dances you taught him and dance them. Maybe Keith can pretend he’s dancing with someone at the wedding, or maybe at some other sort of event?”
Lance pondered it for a minute. “I guess we could...do you think he’d find it weird? Like, suddenly out of the blue we’re just going to go over all of the old stuff?”
“I don’t think so? Why would it be weird?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Lance began, dramatically sliding from the bench to a pile on the floor. “Maybe because I’ve got the world’s biggest crush on him!?”
Hunk moved to peer over the bench a barely concealed smile on his face.
“So you’re admitting it now then?”
“Do not tell Pidge, I swear to God, Hunk.”
“I solemly swear.”
“That you will not tell Pidge,” Lance insisted.
“I solemnly swear I will not tell Pidge.”
Satisfied with Hunk’s response, Lance curled in on himself once more.
“So yeah, I don’t want it to be weird.”
“Lance. Just treat it like a regular class.”
“No buts. You said you liked dancing with him, so dance. Just because you’re dancing with someone doesn’t mean it has to be weird or complicated or anything, even if you have a crush. Enjoy it for what it is.”
“You’ll worry about it seeming weird anyway, won’t you?”
“Want some cheesecake?”
Lance hand shot up and he waved it a little. “Cake me, buddy.”
The night before the beginners class that Keith usually went to in the middle of the week, Hunk called Pidge to ask a favour. He had kept his promise, not once mentioning to them about Lance’s crush or even that Lance really liked dancing with Keith. He spun a little story about wanting to take an extra shift or two at the studio this week and Pidge was more than happy to oblige. They could use the time to work on their computer science project that was due soon.
Although Hunk had promised not to tell Pidge, Lance hadn’t sworn him from mentioning anything to anyone else. He wouldn’t ever betray his best friend’s trust like that though. Hunk was more than perfectly aware what it was like to harbour feelings for someone that you weren’t really all that ready to admit to. However, that didn’t mean that he couldn’t try to give Keith (or Lance) a teeny, tiny nudge in the right direction.
Keith pottered about the back room, putting together potential bouquets from flowers that weren’t quite up to scratch to be sold. He knew what he wanted to put together; a bouquet that trailed, that had colours popping and complimenting both Allura’s dress and Shiro’s suit. He already knew what flowers to give the men for their lapels; each would be different but the colour would match that of their ties and waistcoats. It wasn’t conventional by any means but it would make for a memorable wedding party.
It wasn’t until his boss shuffled into the back room that Keith realised how late it was. He quickly placed the flowers into a spare bucket and shoved it into the cool room before dashing out.
“Sorry to run, Thace! But I’ve gotta get to my brother’s dance practice.”
Thace, the owner of the small florist nodded and picked up a wad of wrapping paper to bring out to the front.
“I was about to ask what you were still doing back here.”
The bell chimed as Keith dashed out the shop and over to his bike.
Usually he would head home and change before going to the studio but he had spent so long in the back room going over flower arrangements that he didn’t have time.
Keith pulled into the parking lot of Altea Studios, hurriedly kicking the stand down and turning off the ignition. He tossed his helmet into the compartment under the seat and ran through the foyer, taking the stairs two at a time. He stopped abruptly at the doors to the studio, taking a moment to calm his breathing a little before quietly pushing open the doors. Class was already under way, everyone in pairs and going over the breakdown of steps for the cha cha.
Keith groaned to himself as he kicked off his riding boots, swapping them out for the shoes he wore at work. They weren’t the best things to be dancing in, but it was better than his boots.
“Ah! Keith, I’m glad you could make it!” Coran announced after he had shown the class the steps.
“Sorry I’m late. I didn’t finish work on time.”
“It’s no problem at all.”
Coran quickly looked to the pairs in the class, gently tugging on his moustache as he pondered something.
“It’s a small class today and we’re all paired up. Hmm, Hunk? If you wouldn’t mind pairing up with Keith for the lesson?”
Hunk looked up from the small pile of papers he had been working through behind the desk.
Keith had only danced with Hunk a small handful of times in his beginners lessons but he had seen enough in rehearsals and in that one demonstration with Lance to know that Hunk was just as good as any of the other instructors at the studio, even if he only assisted part time and spent most of his shifts at the studio manning the front desk.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Hunk asked. “Do you need me to walk you through the steps?”
“I’m good, thanks. Uh, I’ve gone over the cha cha a couple of times with Lance but...I’m really not very good.”
Hunk nodded. “So you’ve got the basic steps down?”
“More or less.”
“Great! I don’t need to walk you through it then and we can keep up with the class. Lead or follow?”
With a heavy sigh Keith stepped forward slightly. “Follow.”
He didn’t mind dancing badly with Lance, but with anyone else he’d feel foolish leading them in a dance he wasn’t confident with.
Hunk took both of Keith’s hands in his and shuffled a little further back.
“For the cha cha we don’t need to stand as close.”
Keith tilted his head to the side as he looked down at his hands resting over Hunk’s as though they were cups.
“Oh! I know this position. It’s the open facing position, right?” Keith said.
“That’s right. Lance told you about it then?”
“He did. We don’t...uh, when we first went over the cha cha we didn’t start using this hold though.”
“You start the cha cha in a closed position?”
Keith nodded. “Lance said that the cha cha can start off with the other hold, but he thinks it looks nicer using the closed position to start with.”
Hunk grinned. “He would think that. Anyway, the steps are still the same, it’s just our hand positions that are a bit different. Did you want to run through it slowly a couple of times to get used to it?”
“I think I’ll manage with you leading, Hunk.”
Keith made it through the first half of the lesson without stumbling and at Coran’s insistence had even managed to attempt some ‘hip action’ along with the rest of the class. He felt ridiculous trying to sway his hips but Hunk had whispered to him that he still struggled with the proper motion. It made him feel a tiny bit better and he noticed that the rest of the class looked about as graceful as he did.
After their short drink break, Coran announced that they’d be moving onto the tango. Keith breathed a sigh of relief; he had been worried that they might be learning a salsa or mambo and he most definitely wasn’t ready to start going over those.
“Lead or follow?” Hunk asked.
“Would you mind if I lead?”
Hunk shook his head and stepped into Keith’s hold. “Not at all. Seems like you’re pretty confident with this one.”
Keith chuckled. “You know what, Hunk? I think I was made for tango.”
Hunk and Keith chattered endlessly throughout the rest of the lesson as Keith found the tango easier to dance and didn’t need to concentrate quite so hard on getting the steps right. After the cha cha, Keith found the rest of the lesson almost effortless. He easily kept in time with the music, he didn’t stumble and he remembered to step to the outside of Hunk’s body when he had to do the cross step that formed part of the following partner’s steps. Every now and then Hunk would chime in with suggestions on how Keith might be able to lead a little better or suggestions on things to remember when he was following. Keith appreciated the pointers and genuinely enjoyed dancing with him.
“I think I can understand why Lance likes dancing with you,” Hunk mentioned when Coran announced the end of the class.
The comment took Keith by surprise and he awkwardly stood there, water bottle held to his lips, as he stared at Hunk. Lance had said once before that he enjoyed teaching Keith how to dance, but that didn’t mean that Lance liked dancing with him. Keith hardly felt like what he did classified as proper dancing anyway.
“Lance. He likes dancing with you.”
Keith wasn’t sure on how to process that so he blinked at Hunk while he took a sip of water, the tips of his ears burning.
“He said that?”
“Uh...that’s a good thing, right?”
Hunk laughed, clapping Keith on the shoulder.
“Keith, when someone says that they like doing something with someone, it’s generally a good thing. A very good thing.”
Keith couldn’t keep the smile from his lips as he put his bottle away and shouldered his bag.
Hunk nodded to himself as Keith left the studio, waiting until the doors swung closed to return to his usual spot behind the desk. Subtle nudge in the right direction? Success.
Chapter 13: Paso Doble
Keith starts to attend rehearsals.
Hunk is still playing the very subtle wingman.
Keith learns the paso doble.
And a couple of other things about himself too.
Sorry if things get a bit too wordy or confusing with the paso doble. I learned a lot about this dance during my research; it's much harder than I had initially thought! Much of my research came from this video for WSDF Techniques and is where I found the steps for what Lance teaches Keith. I am nowhere skilled enough to make up my own paso.
Things get moving a teeny bit in this one!
Keith had begun to attend the rehearsals for the wedding dance whenever he could; Allura gently cajoling Keith into actually dancing with the others rather than observing. He picked it up much, much slower than the rest of the wedding party but everyone was exceptionally understanding and supportive of his progress. Each rehearsal meant that Keith would tack on a few more steps to the dance, the Viennese waltz eventually morphing into a quickstep that represented Shiro and Allura’s first competitive dance together. Keith was well on his way to being able to dance the Viennese waltz part of the dance quite well; Lance had insisted that a couple of their lessons when Keith had first started to learn the steps were to be dedicated solely to practicing the wedding dance. In addition, at the start of every single practice session Keith had (regardless of if Lance was there or not) he and his partner would run through it three or four times to learn the new steps added at each rehearsal. The extra time dedicated to practicing had paid off quite nicely, even if that meant less time to learn the rest of the ballroom dances in his private lessons.
It was difficult to learn so much so quickly but Keith was enjoying learning. It was challenging to cover so many new steps and to link the different dance styles together. It gave him an opportunity to lead and follow, to dance with other partners and to observe and learn from other talented performers. He never thought, all those months ago when Shiro had told him that he would need to learn how to dance, that he would enjoy it.
It was a slow morning at work: the floors had been swept, the flowers rearranged neatly and the stack of wrapping paper had been straightened and refilled. Everything looked to be in perfect order and there hadn’t been a customer for a little while. It didn’t happen all that often but sometimes the entire day would be like that; all the miscellaneous tasks completed and nary a customer to serve all day. It was boring but Keith had found out recently that texting Lance out of the blue wasn’t as difficult as he had thought it might be and was an entertaining way to pass some time.
The first time that Keith had sent Lance a message out of nowhere for no real reason, he hadn’t even thought it through properly. Keith had snapped a picture of a particularly beautiful blossom in a bouquet and sent it to Lance, quickly pocketing his phone when a customer came into the store. He had completely forgotten about the message until halfway through his shift when his phone buzzed. Expecting a message from Pidge, Keith had been beyond surprised when it was Lance’s name that appeared on the preview screen. He was even more taken aback by the idea that he had randomly sent Lance a photo of a flower in the first place and that Lance had replied as though it wasn’t at all weird to receive a message like that from Keith.
Lance would send messages intermittently throughout the day, obviously looking for some kind of distraction from his studies and usually complaining about how long it took to memorise things, but they made Keith smile all the same. Soon enough (and far sooner than Keith would care to admit) texting Lance became an almost every day occurrence, more so on the days that he wouldn’t be seeing Lance for practice.
When Keith arrived at the studio, Lance was practicing the samba with Hunk. Keith barely recognised it as the samba that Hunk had been complaining about weeks ago. It was much more polished than when he saw it last; Hunk was much more confident as he twirled Lance and his hips swings had more flow and momentum. Despite his own thoughts on his hip-swinging, Keith thought that Hunk was doing a damn good job.
Lances hips were something else but then again they usually were, no matter what he was dancing.
Keith gave the pair a wave as he made his way to the chairs to put his things down. Hunk and Lance would often practice before his lessons to kill time and although Keith had booked the time slot, he always felt a little bad interrupting. He liked watching them dance. Their movements were boisterous and energetic, their smiles wide and laughter contagious.
“Hey, Keith! How’s it going?”
“Good, good. Lance was telling me that you’ve got some big ideas for the wedding cake?”
The way Hunk’s face lit up was endearing.
“Yes! I have a really good idea of how I want it to look and I think both Allura and Lance are going to love it.”
“You’ll have to show me a photo once you’ve baked it.”
“I’ll get Lance to send you the photo.”
Lance gave Hunk a playful shove that looked just a little too forceful.
“Shut up, Hunk.”
“Yeah, yeah. Have fun you two. I’ll just be over here, doing paper work.”
Lance rolled his eyes dramatically as Hunk made his way to the desk.
“So! Looking forward to this week’s dance?”
“You said it was the paso doble this week?”
“Yup! We’ll go over that and we can finish with the tango. Hunk was saying that you liked dancing it?”
“Uh...yeah. It’s fun. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. There’s just something about the music and the steps...”
Lance held his hands up and beckoned Keith over.
“Yeah, I get you! What would you say to a little improv? For the tango I mean. Since it’s your favourite dance so far?”
Improv sounded terrifying. In fact, he knew it could be. Unlike improvisation on the guitar, it mattered greatly if he screwed it up.
“I don’t know...”
“You can lead if you’d prefer?”
“For improv? I think it’d be best if you lead. You’re better than I am.”
“We can try it later and if you hate it we can stop? But first, three run throughs of the wedding dance!”
For the wedding dance, Lance started leading the Viennese waltz. Keith had practiced it so many times now that his head didn’t swim after the first few turns and he felt confident and comfortable in Lance’s embrace. The changeover from Viennese waltz to quickstep was a little tricky and it meant a change in leadership too. Keith had known that Lance didn’t mind whether or not he lead or followed, but he assumed that Lance wouldn’t feel all that comfortable having a total novice lead him. Keith had been wrong. Lance had allowed Keith to take the lead for the quickstep without complaint or resistance, easily shifting into the follower’s role.
Shiro had been right when he had said that it was important to be confident in your leading or following. You needed to be sure and decisive when leading and in turn, you needed to be trusting and yeilding when following. You needed to trust in your partner and that they would safely guide you and you needed to trust that your partner would pick up on the subtle cues on where to go and what to do. He couldn’t begin to describe how it felt to know that Lance would step into a turn at the subtlest of presses against his palm or blindly step backwards without even a glance over his shoulder. Keith also couldn’t put into words how it felt placing so much trust in Lance. He hadn’t known Lance all that long and yet Keith was happy enough to allow him into his personal bubble, to slide in and hold him in a close embrace.
“Hey! That was actually a really good quickstep!”
“Yes! Your leading is getting better all the time.”
Keith smiled slightly at the compliment. “And my following?”
“...is much better than it was when you started, that’s for sure.”
“Still not great?”
“Mmm, it’s not bad though. I can’t tell if its because of the dance or if its because of me.”
Keith went to interject, to say that it definitely wasn’t anything that Lance was doing, but Lance continued without pause.
“But anyway - time to learn the paso doble! I think for this one, we’ll walk through it slowly as a pair, rather than me breaking the steps down into lead and follow.”
Keith listened to Lance attentively.
“This is a dance that draws its inspiration from the bullfights of Spain. I know, I know - not exactly the greatest thing to be inspired by. Contrary to what many people think, the follower isn’t meant to be representing the bull. The follower represents the matadors cape; their steps and movements are flowing and curvaceous.”
“So the leader represents the matador?”
“That’s right. Typically the paso isn’t really danced socially, unlike the waltz or the cha cha and the salsa. It’s mostly a highly choreographed competition dance and categorised under the Latin umbrella. It’s a powerful dance; precise steps and strong gazes make this dance intense, dramatic and passionate in a way that’s different to a tango or rhumba, in my opinion. I’ll walk you through the lead’s steps first as I think you’ll be more comfortable starting off leading. Ready?”
“Yes,” Keith said, keeping his attention focused on Lance.
“Okay. We start this one in closed position, facing one another. On count one we turn to face the line of dance - remember what that is?”
“The counter-clockwise flow of movement around the dancefloor.”
Keith silently preened at the praise and excited grin that Lance had given him at the correct answer.
“So, count one we turn to face the line of dance and take seven steps across the floor, bringing the left foot to the right on the eight count. On the third step we’ll add in a slight turn. On the seventh step our hips should be facing one another so that on the eighth count we’re facing one another in a closed position. When we’re stepping, our hips should be facing the line of dance and not one another. It’ll feel a bit awkward at first. After that the leader has eight counts of small steps known as ‘surplus’ while the follower takes two steps to the left, swivels and then takes two steps to the right for eight counts. There’s a bit of hip action required by the follower here; remember, the follower is meant to represent the matador’s cape. Next, you take one step forwards with your left, backwards with my right, followed by your right foot stepping out to the side as you tilt your left shoulder to the floor, then bringing the left together as you straighten. Then we separate for eight counts; you step forward with your left as I step back with my right and we drop our closed position. Your right foot slides forward to meet your left and you should bring your arm up above your head from some flare as you take surplus steps for six counts. We repeat that again before four counts of surplus steps to promenade.”
Lance slowly walked Keith through each step as he explained it, carefully leading him as he learned the steps. Keith’s brow was furrowed as Lance spoke, a look of intense concentration on his face.
“Can you walk me through it again slowly before we move onto the music? There’s a lot involved in this one...”
Lance grinned. “Sure.”
Despite his best efforts, by the time their break came around, Keith wasn’t feeling confident enough in the steps to dance to music quite yet.The timing felt odd and it was difficult to remember all the steps as well as the stupid hip action and snappy arm lifts and twists. Lance had said that the paso would be hard because there weren’t many standard basic steps; it was mostly completely choreographed, much like Shiro and Allura’s wedding dance. However, Lance hadn’t been wrong when he had guessed that Keith might like the paso doble. He had also been right in saying that Keith would prefer leading, but Lance made following seem fun. The flourishes of his hands and wrists, the twists of his torso and hips exuded flowing, rippling movement even without a long flowing skirt or tails on a coat.
“I think you’ve practiced enough paso for today.”
Keith recapped his water bottle as Lance selected some music on his playlist. Instantly, Keith recognised the style and he turned to look at Lance. Any apprehension he had about dancing an improvised tango went running out the door, jumping onto his motorcycle and riding off into the sunset.
It was the same gesture as always and one he had seen numerous times before; Lance standing in the middle of the room, his arm outstretched, silently offering Keith a dance. Keith never really paid too much attention to how the pose looked. He supposed that most dancers would extend an offer to dance this way; he had seen Shiro and Allura take the exact same position countless times. Hell, even during their practices together sometimes Pidge would gesture to Keith in this exact same way.
So why was it that as Keith crossed the dancefloor, his heart began to race? He took a long, slow inhalation, trying to calm this sudden onslaught of nervousness and warmth. Why did his face feel so hot?! Why did he feel like he was walking too fast towards Lance and yet, everything seemed to be in slow motion?
Keith hoped to God that his hands weren’t on fire and they weren’t damp with sweat as he placed his hand in Lance’s, the same as always. It felt different this time, like there was a hidden intention in their gestures and poses. Keith’s hand hooked gently over Lance’s fingers, coming to rest perfectly in the curve of his hand. Keith had noted the first time he had taken Lance’s hands that they were soft but until this moment he had never let his mind linger on it. He never focused on how smooth and warm Lance’s hands were, nor had he paid attention to the way their palms would slide against one another as they took hold of one another’s hands. It was...pleasant.
Without missing a beat, Lance rotated his wrist, bringing their palms together as he raised Keith’s arm up. On the next beat, Lance easily guided Keith into a turn, waiting to catch him as he stepped into the closed position. Keith’s breath hitched as their eyes met, Lance’s expression warm.
“You trust me, right?”
Keith couldn’t form words with his mouth, too stunned by the way his breathing stuttered and his heart raced and his face burned. Lance chuckled at Keith’s expression.
“Lets see if I can sweep you off your feet today.”
As Lance lead Keith through a simple tango that was rather tame by his standards, Keith realised something. He wanted to learn it all; the waltz, the quickstep and foxtrot, the cha cha, the tango and the paso and all the other dances he hadn’t even looked at yet. He didn’t really mind what it was he was learning.
So long as it was with Lance, Keith wanted to learn it all.
Chapter 14: Introspection
Keith thinks about some things.
Pidge and Keith go shopping.
Keith asks Lance a hypothetical question.
There is Legit Flirting.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
There is one point in this chapter where someone refers to Pidge as 'she'. That is intentional but if I have, at any other point in this chapter, accidentally misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as possible.
Why did I make Lance study exercise physiology....
Keith spent a lot of time in his head: he was the sort of person that was more about introspection rather than extrospection. He preferred to consider and mull things over himself so that he could come to an understanding of what he was thinking or feeling. Thus far in life, introspection had worked well for him. Keith had pondered and puzzled his way through the early stages of his life with the Shirogane’s, he had mulled over his discoveries about his sexuality and had reflected on his feelings towards men, women and anyone else alike. Pidge and Shiro had often been there for him during the tougher times when he had a few questions to ask but for the most part, Keith prided himself on figuring things out for himself in his own time. Even if sometimes that meant running headfirst into a metaphorical wall with a metaphorical sword in his hand and bashing at it until something gave way or until he chose to start thinking about it.
Sometimes he would very pointedly not think about things that needed to be thought about. When he was younger it was mostly the consequences of his brash and hot-headed actions that he refused to think about. Time, coupled with Shiro’s gentle chiding, had made him realise that ignoring some things didn’t always result in the greatest of outcomes. Recently, there had been one thing on his mind that demanded attention. A thing that demanded more thought than a fleeting ‘I’ll think about this later’ or ‘not right now’. No, the thing was something that needed to be thought of right now or else the moment would pass. Despite his not wanting to think about it, Keith knew very, very well that if he just ignored the thing then his inaction would become something he would regret deeply.
It was two things, really. Two things that kind of morphed into one.
Feelings and Lance.
It wasn’t that Keith was new to romantic feelings. Not at all. He usually wasn’t very good at acting on them though. He didn’t have the world’s greatest track record when it came to dating people that were good for him. After his last failed relationship, Keith had decided to not pursue any romantic inclinations he might have because the past four hadn’t lasted longer than six months and ended up hurting him more than helping.
Lance, however, seemed different. He was vibrant and energetic, caring and sincere. Sure, there were times when Keith wanted to punch him and Keith was certain there were times when Lance probably wanted to punch him too, but all relationships were like that. He looked forward to seeing Lance, to their classes and their chats about flowers. He enjoyed Lance’s mundane messages when he was bored with study. Keith enjoyed what little time he spent with Lance and he found himself more often than not with Lance on his mind or wanting Lance’s company. Keith, however, wasn’t so sure if he should be admitting that to himself.
Lance was a good person, that much Keith was sure of, but could they be compatible romantically?
A loud and sudden pounding at his apartment door startled him awake. Groggily Keith fumbled around for his phone in a confused daze trying to figure out what time it was. He lazily pulled on a pair of comfy pants whilst he stumbled down the hall as fast as his half-asleep body could go. Keith opened the door, blinking slowly at the light.
“Pidge? What’s wrong?”
“I need to buy a dress. Get changed. You’re coming with me.”
At the time, Keith hadn’t been coherent enough to process what Pidge had said and once he was decent, they dragged him out of the apartment down to his bike.
“We’re headed into the city. I’ll buy you coffee to make up for the early wakeup call.”
“A dress! Weren’t you paying attention!?”
Keith looked at Pidge, his brow furrowed in confusion. “But I thought you’d decided on a suit?”
Pidge looked fretful as their fingers fumbled with the helmet.
“I just had this sudden thought last night that maybe I should wear a dress instead? I mean, the wedding really isn’t that far off, so I’d better start looking around now in case I change my mind.”
Keith smiled softly. “Pidge, you can wear whatever you like. Allura won’t mind, Shiro won’t mind, the wedding party won’t mind.”
“But what about the other guests?”
“Whose big day is it?” Keith asked as he straddled the motorcycle.
“Allura and Shiro’s.”
“And whose opinion on your clothes really matters?”
“That’s right. I know you don’t want to cause issues or have people stare, but if you won’t be comfortable in a dress, or in the suit for that matter, then I don’t think you should wear it.”
“Hmm...I definitely want to wear the suit but I still want to go and look at dresses.”
Pidge nodded and placed their hands on Keith’s hips, holding tightly.
Ketih grinned. “Besides, I think you’ll look pretty stellar no matter what you wear.”
Pidge bumped their helmet gently against Keith’s.
All things considered, Keith didn’t mind clothes shopping with Pidge. They were generally an exceptional shopper, taking only a few minutes to peruse a store to see if they liked something. They would zip through like a miniature whirlwind, plucking things from the clothes racks and rifling through the available sizes to find something small enough. In recent memory, the longest Keith could recall being in a store with Pidge was only half an hour and that was only because the store seemed to have been a treasure trove of things in their style.
Formal dress shopping, however, was something else entirely.
Pidge’s sudden anxiety over what to wear coupled with the importance of the day had driven them into perfection mode and Keith was certain that they were determined to try on every dress in the store that was available in their size.
Keith didn’t blame Pidge for feeling that way; he remembered how worked up Shiro was when trying to find the suit he was going to wear. He made himself comfortable on one of the lounges near the change rooms, politely smiling at women who were ducking in and out whilst he waited for Pidge to showcase each dress that they felt was a potential winner. It gave Keith plenty of time to himself with not much to do. Without really thinking about it, he found his phone in his hand and a message typed to Lance before he’d even really started to pay attention.
Hey. I’m out dress shopping with Pidge. What are you up to today? How’s the studying for your exams going?
Keith had barely tucked his phone into his pocket when it buzzed with Lance’s reply.
I have my first exam on Monday. Save me pls. Seriously. At this point any excuse will do.
“So! What do you think of this one?” Pidge asked, an impish grin on their face as they posed, one hand on their hip.
Keith’s phone buzzed but he ignored it whilst he looked at the dress that Pidge wore.
The dress was a vibrant red; not usually a colour that Pidge would wear. The bodice was fitted to their waist and a sheer overlay with a scooped neckline and short sleeves cascaded down into a long skirt which floated around their lower torso and legs. A red ribbon was tied loosely around Pidge’s waist to give them a little more shape to their figure. It was a pretty dress to be sure, but Keith wasn’t completely sold on it.
“It’s an interesting colour....”
“Yeah, red is definitely your thing. I reckon you’d rock this.”
Keith pondered their comment. “I don’t know about that style though. I think those sleeves would make my arms and shoulders look really broad?”
Pidge shrugged. “You’re asking me? I know nothing about fashion. Lance is the one you’d need to ask.”
“Maybe I will. It’ll give me something to do while you’re trying on the next dress.”
Pidge twirled to face the mirror, scrutinising their appearance.
“Yeah, this one is a no. And definitely not in red.” Keith took a photo as Pidge posed. “What was that for?”
“I can’t ask for Lance’s opinion if he can’t see the dress.”
Keith glanced at his phone.
OMG! You’re dress shopping with Pidge!?
Why didn’t you guys tell me!?
I totally would have blown off study to make it.
Keith, buddy, pal! Show me photos pls. I need to see everything that Pidge is trying.
Keith took pity on Lance as the messages came through one after another and sent the photo of Pidge in the long red dress. He waited a few minutes to give Lance a chance to really look at the picture before shooting off another message.
Don’t ask how this came up but...do you think I could pull that off?
Lance’s morning thus far had been full of revision for his upcoming Anatomy and Physiology level four exam. Although he liked to complain about it, he found learning about the human body and movement to be incredibly interesting. When it came down to it, Lance was very good at what he was studying. Sometimes it would take him a little bit longer to remember things but once it was in there, it was there. He was more than just a pretty face and he prided himself on that little fact quite often.
“Oh my god!” he announced suddenly in the middle of Hunk’s flash card revision.
“LOOK AT PIDGE!”
Lance scrambled to his feet from the beanbag he had been sitting in and raced over to Hunk, waving his phone in his face.
“Too close, Lance. I can’t see.”
Hunk took the phone from Lance and held it back a little so he could see.
“Oh, Pidge looks nice! But I thought they were wearing a suit?”
“Maybe they changed their mind?” Lance shrugged. “I think they’ll look great either way!”
“Tell Pidge that I think it’s a nice dress,” Hunk said as he flicked through the flash cards.
Lance quickly typed out the message and looked to Hunk.
“Okay, what’s the next card?”
“Where is the brachi-- ‘brachioradialis’ located?” Hunk paused. “Lance?”
Hunk turned in his desk chair to look at Lance. He was leaning forward in his beanbag, clutching at his phone, his face pink.
“Do you think Keith could pull that off?”
Hunk was perplexed. “What?”
“That dress I just showed you. Do you think Keith could pull it off?”
“Uhh...is this a trick question?”
“I don’t think so.”
Hunk tapped his chin in thought before chuckling softly to himself.
“What do you think?”
Lance bit his bottom lip as he thought about it. “If he was wearing that red, I think I’d die a little bit...”
Hunk leaned back in his chair with a slight smirk. If he was holding a cat, one might think him a villainous mastermind.
“You should tell him that.”
"I can't just say something like that to him, Hunk!"
"You should definitely say something like that to him, Lance."
The day with Pidge was going quickly despite having been in the store for a number of hours. After countless long dresses, Pidge had decided that they didn’t want a long dress; they felt it made them look quite short, even when standing next to Keith, and he was the shortest out of all the groomsmen. There had been one dress that had been far too short, barely covering their underwear and Pidge had hastily requested that the dresses not be that short. There were a few dresses that were shorter at the front and longer in the back, which were quite lovely, but Pidge hadn’t felt comfortable in those ones either.
Keith had been snapping photos of each dress and sending them through to Lance, though he had been strangely quiet since the ‘could I pull it off?’ question. He hadn’t thought of it much at the time, but perhaps that was something that was too weird to be asking. Even if it was just a hypothetical question. Maybe Lance didn’t like those kinds of left-of-field questions? Though there was that one time Lance asked him about being in a romantic comedy movie out of nowhere...
Pidge came out of the change room in a light lilac dress that came down to their mid calf. The skirt was swooshy, swaying with each step they took. The top of the dress was strapless, the same material as the skirt and overlaid with a lace halter neck top.
“I like this style, I think...” Pidge said as they looked at their reflection. “I don’t know about the length; I feel like it makes my legs look stumpy...but I like this top.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right. Maybe something that is knee length? That way it won’t make you look short, but you might feel more comfortable wearing it?”
“I think you’re right. Let’s see what else I can find!” They headed off to roam the shelves, their options quickly narrowing down to what would, hopefully, let Pidge find the perfect dress.
Pidge is trying on so many pretty dresses. I wish I was there to see them all! Thank you for giving me something to look forward to during my study session with Hunk!
Pidge returned from the shop floor with a bunch of different coloured dresses. Most were in a halter neck style, but there were a few other styles that the shop assistant had insisted that Pidge try if they liked the halter neck style.
I am gonna answer your other question by the way. Warning: mini-essay incoming.
They came out of the change room a few times, their expression unsure as they twirled for Keith. The style was something they liked but the colours were not what they wanted.
“Oh!” The assistant exclaimed when Pidge handed out another dress that didn’t make the cut. “I think I have something which might just be the thing! It came in yesterday afternoon, so we haven't had a chance to put it out on the floor just yet.”
She scurried off, hastily popping Pidge’s rejected dresses onto a returns rack before heading out into the back.
You want like an honest answer right?
Keith was distracted by the assistant sneaking past, keeping the dress hidden from sight.
“I think she is going to really love this one,” the assistant commented.
“You won’t show me the dress, so I can’t tell you if they’ll like it,” Keith replied.
The assistant smiled. “Just watch!”
He went to reply to Lance’s message, but an excited gasp from Pidge’s change room distracted him again.
“Like that one?”
“Oh my God, Keith.” There was some rustling as Pidge clearly struggled to get changed as quickly as possible. “Oh my God! Keith, it practically matches my suit!”
Pidge threw open the curtain and stood there, a bright grin on their face.
The dress fell to their knees, a swishy and full skirt swaying from the movement of throwing open the curtain. The bodice was fitted and the neckline was rather high, the curve just skimming their collar bone. A fine silver lace was laid over the bodice; a lovely contrast to the bright green of the dress.
“Keiiiiiith,” Pidge breathed.
“Found it!” With a giggle, they turned in a circle as the skirt billowed out. “It’s so pretty! And it matches my suit! I can wear both for the wedding!”
“You could wear both, even if they didn’t match,” Keith said as he snapped a photo and sent it off to Lance.
“I know, but now we’re all still going to match! Red, blue, yellow, green, violet and indigo!”
“I’ve been meaning to tell Shiro that it’s such a weird colour scheme.”
Keith’s phone buzzed.
“But we’re going to look killer.”
Whilst Pidge changed, Keith read over Lance’s message.
Since you didn’t answer (I assume you’re helping Pidge pick something out) I don’t know how serious you are about the dress thing but...probably not in that style. Like, it’s cute, but definitely not for your body shape, I don’t think. Something with a v-neck or a scoop neck would be good. A full skirt and something tight around your waist to give you some shape would help soften the overall look too. If you’re going for feminine, then you’d want to draw attention away from your shoulders and neck because you’re so broad. That being said - if you think a certain style is cute or nice or whatever, then go for it regardless! But, uh, definitely in that red. Red is absolutely your colour. I think if you were wearing something in that shade, I’d die a bit if I saw you.
Keith read over the message twice, just to be sure. He was still staring at the message when Pidge reappeared.
“Oh yeah? What did he say?”
“Not that style, but he said that red would probably suit me just fine.”
Pidge did not need to know that Lance had basically said that Keith’s colour was definitely red and that he might just die if he ever saw him wearing something in that shade. It would give Pidge far, far too much blackmail material and Keith had learned over the years to not give them any more than they already had.
“Of course it would be. Red is your favourite colour after all.”
Pidge led them to the front desk to pay for the dress and to arrange a time for a fitting to make sure it fit just right. Whilst Pidge paid and chattered with the assistants, Keith fished his phone out of his pocket to reply to Lance. It wasn’t fair to leave him hanging when he had said something that was, in Keith’s opinion, a very obvious flirt. With trembling hands, he typed out his reply. His stomach tumbled and his heart fluttered in his chest. This wasn’t just flirtatious banter for the hell of it. This was honest-to-goodness flirting and Keith was, quite willingly and knowingly, engaging in it.
Is Hunk there to catch you? Or are you sitting down?
Keith scrolled through the photos on his phone until he found the one he was after. Just to keep things a surprise because the prospect of maybe making Lance die a little was far too good to pass up, Keith cropped the image so that only part of his chin, lips, neck and shoulder were visible. It wasn’t his complete suit, but the red jacket and black shirt coupled with his smirk was sure to do something, if Lance’s words were true at all.
I’ve got a surprise for you.
He sent the image a few moments later.
I’m wearing red at the wedding.
The length of time it took for Lance to reply was excruciating. The rational part of Keith’s brain told him that Lance was supposed to be studying and that was likely the reason that Lance hadn’t replied. The rest of him was slowly growing anxious: what if he had read everything all wrong and Lance was just being his usual Flirty self just for conversation’s sake? Had Keith made a horrible, horrible mistake? It was some time after Keith had dropped Pidge home and was on his way into work that Lance finally replied.
Okay, I know I said I’d die a bit...but that was a lie. You’ll be the death of me. I will die right there at that altar, or in the front garden or wherever it is that I first see you in that goddamn suit.
Keith quickly typed a response in the few minutes he had before starting his shift at the florist.
How are you supposed to sweep me off your feet if you’re dead?
Ideally I would have swept you off your feet prior to the wedding.
Unable to help himself Keith smiled as he replied.
I’m about to start work now but I'll look forward to it.
Chapter 15: Bouquet
Keith works on the bouquet.
Keith admits that he missed Lance.
Lance is a bit worried that Keith is going to hate him.
Because it's time for Keith to learn the samba.
The next couple of lessons that Keith had scheduled needed to be postponed due to Lance having exams. Secretly, Keith was somewhat glad. After his first proper flirtatious exchange with Lance he wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand, flirting with Lance just for kicks was a lark and, as Keith had found, flirting with Lance via text was surprisingly easy. On the other hand, flirting with Lance for real, in person...Keith didn’t think he could do it. It was easier to keep composure when he was the one flirting but Keith wasn’t sure he’d be able to handle being on the receiving end of any of Lance’s moves either.
Instead of Lance teaching him of a weekend, Allura had taken over his classes. She was incredibly pleased with Keith’s progress for far on the dances he had covered in lessons as well as the wedding dance. Allura’s teaching style was similar to Lance’s; gentle guidance and encouraging words coupled with careful attention and constant feedback. Keith could easily see where Lance had picked up some of his teaching techniques from. Dancing with Allura was different: the way she led was more headstrong than Lance but Keith followed along easily enough. Keith had found it difficult to lead with Allura and half way through their first lesson she had bashfully admitted that it was due to her own preferences moreso than Keith’s lack of skill. Much like Keith, she too didn’t take so well to following, much preferring to lead. It suddenly made so much sense to Keith why Shiro and she danced so well together.
His weeknight practices were just with Pidge. It almost reminded him of the days before Keith had taken up dancing where they’d cook dinner and stay up way too late on a work or Uni night watching bad movies. It was nice but Keith had grown so used to having Lance there in such a small amount of time: of the way he made Pidge brighten and joke around, of the way Lance would goof around and loosen up when dancing with them. He missed the something extra that Lance brought with him wherever he went.
It was the third rehearsal that Lance had skipped due to exams but Hunk had said that he only had one more test left. After that, Lance was going to sleep for a week and then be back at the studio as usual. A week and a half wasn’t all that long, really, but Keith found that he could hardly wait.
I heard your last exam is coming up. How’s the study for it going?
Knowing he wouldn’t receive a reply, Keith tucked his phone into his pocket, tied his work apron around his waist and headed out onto the flower shop floor. What he wasn’t expecting was to see Lance talking animatedly to Thace about flowers.
“Ah, so you’re the young man that Keith is arranging the wedding flowers for. He has told me about your plans; it sounds like it will be a lovely reception.”
Thace nodded. “Keith has told me about it many times. In fact, he spends quite a lot of time trialing different arrangements.”
Lance glanced over Thace’s shoulder to meet Keith’s gaze.
“Hi...” Keith said, feeling caught off guard. He hadn’t bet on seeing Lance in person for another week. “Aren’t you meant to be studying?”
“My brain will explode, so I thought I’d come and see you because I remember you wanted to use my hands as a guide or something? Also because it’s been ages since I saw that mullet and I wanted to prepare myself for seeing it again in lessons next week.”
Keith couldn’t help it. Lance had presented him with a perfect opportunity and he couldn’t pass it up. “You know, you can say that you missed me.”
“Wha...no, I...that is...”
Thace’s laughter interrupted Lance’s babbling. “Lance was telling me your ideas for the bride’s bouquet. I think it will look quite lovely. It’s quiet at the moment so you can stay behind the counter with him to work on it if you’d like. I’ll shout out if I need you.”
“You’re okay with Lance being behind the counter and in the back room?”
Thace smiled and Keith could have sworn there was a knowing glint in his eye. “I’m happy to make an exception for a friend of yours.”
Not wanting to think on what Thace was suggesting, Keith turned on his heel.
“Come on then...let’s get to work, shall we?”
Keith had been thinking about Allura’s bouquet for weeks but now that he was here creating it, it was coming together faster than he would have thought. A mixture of white and light blue, lilac, yellow and pink blossoms nestled neatly amongst the trailing greenery. He had thought to add in some bolder colours, but it looked awkward amongst the pastels. Lance had said that the softer flowers might look nicer against the deep indigo of her dress and Keith found that he was inclined to agree. Knowing that Shrio’s suit was also a deep violet, Keith decided to stick to the pastel colours. Everyone’s clothing was going to be vibrant, so the softer flowers would blend nicely.
Lance kept quiet whilst Keith worked, ducking into the cool room to find various flowers or heading out onto the shop floor to grab something that wasn’t out the back. Keith chattered to Lance throughout, pointing out the way he was arranging the flowers and how, eventually, they would come together to form the cascading bouquet he was creating. He explained his colour choices and blossoms and why he was certain that Allura would like them. Lance had asked what the meanings of the flowers were but Keith had said that now-a-days the language of flowers was all but forgotten. Keith knew the meanings for some of them but he’d need to look up others. The language of flowers was a long-gone art, though Keith did rather enjoy it.
With a slight groan as he stretched, Keith offered the bouquet to Lance. It wasn’t complete but it was far enough along that he could get an idea of how it might look in Allura’s hands or what needed work or to be changed. It wasn’t a traditional bouquet by any means: tiny forget-me-nots and baby’s breath dotted like stars among the greyish greenery and larger blooms of creamy ivory and deep violet calla lillies nestled amongst dust rose dahlia blossoms. Small puffs of cornflower blue and soft pink quince filled out the bouquet. With a thoughtful little hum, Keith took a few yellow and soft peach rosebuds and tucked them in for a little extra colour amongst the dusty pinks and blues.
“They’re so pretty,” Lance said as be brought the bouquet up to his nose for a sniff.
“I think the softer colours will contrast really nicely with the blue of Allura’s dress. I remember you saying that it was the dress of her dreams, so I don’t want the flowers to be the main focal point.”
Keith took a step back to admire his work.
“Though now that I can see you holding the bouquet, I’m not sure if a cascading one is the best option...”
“Well... Allura isn’t too much shorter than you, and although you’re a beanpole, I don’t think Allura is too much bigger. That bouquet as it is seems like it fits quite nicely.” Keith stepped closer with a handful of greenery and filler. “If I make a cascading bouquet, it’ll end up trailing like so...”
Lance adjusted his hold on the flowers as Keith added to it, expertly tucking sprigs here and there so as to make a sort of tail for the bouquet. He stood back once more and peered at the flowers.
“Cascading bouquets are nice, but I’m not sure I like it when you’re holding it. Doesn’t seem right. The idea worked in my head...but I’m not so certain seeing it in person.”
Keith picked up his phone and snapped a couple of pictures, both close up and further away. Once he was pleased with the images, he took out the trailing greenery until he was left with the hand-held bouquet and took photos of that as well. He’d need more time to ponder over the creation.
“Well, whatever you end up doing I think it’s going to look pretty good.”
“Keith! I’ll need you on the floor in a few minutes,” Thace said from the shopfront.
With a sigh, Lance stood, straightening his jacket and stretching his arms up to the ceiling. “Looks like that’s my cue.”
“I’ll see you at rehearsals?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there this week. Ah! Before I go, quick question.”
Keith raised an eyebrow.
“If I organise something for Allura’s bachelorette party, will you come along? It’ll just be the usual crew from Altea plus a couple of other close friends of ours.”
“What are you planning for it?”
Lance grinned and waggled a finger. “That’s a secret that no one knows but me.”
“Will I regret saying yes?”
Lance tapped his chin. “I think you’ll more likely regret saying no. You organising anything for Shiro?”
Keith made his way out to the shop floor with Lance in tow. “If I am, will you come along?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Allura is going to be my sister in law. I wouldn’t miss her party either.”
“I’ll see you in class then?”
Keith gave Lance a small smile. “Yeah. Um...I know I kind of teased you about it earlier but...I missed you these past couple of weeks a bit too.”
Lance ducked his head briefly before giving Keith a bright smile.
“I’ll catch you later.
Keith’s weekend lesson couldn’t come fast enough. Rehearsals had been intense trying to bring Lance up to speed with everyone. Lance spent most of the time dancing with Shiro or Allura needing someone slightly more experienced to help him pick up the steps. Keith didn’t mind, really, they had a perfectly good reason to not pair them up but it meant another week where he didn’t get to dance with Lance.
They had all perfected the first part of the dance, the Viennese waltz which morphed into a quickstep and then into a foxtrot. From there, the danced moved into a jive followed by a tango, the cha-cha, a paso doble, the rumba and finally a traditional waltz. Allura and Shiro had changed the dance slightly, taking Keith’s inexperience into consideration. They dropped the mambo that they were initially going to slot in between the tango and the cha-cha as well as dropping the salsa portion of the dance. Instead, they chose to extend the amount of time they dedicated to the tango and the paso doble after Hunk, Pidge and Lance demanded it. Keith thought it worked quite well for the couple, considering the amount of time that Shiro and Allura had spent figuratively dancing around one another.
It was getting to the point where Keith was going to need to do some serious practice. The standard ballroom dances were fine; he wasn’t so great with the tango but that was because he’d only recently learned it. The others he had picked up well, able to relatively easily lead and follow, however, the latin dances... The latin dances were an important part of Shiro and Allura’s choreography, more overtly representing the way their relationship moved from friendship to something else. Although everyone was at different levels, they were leagues above Keith. He could barely stumble his way through a basic cha-cha, let alone be sultry in a rumba.
The next few lessons with Lance were going to be awkward as hell. Still, Keith showed up at the studio bright and early and ready to learn. He almost jumped out of his skin when a hand tapped him on the shoulder as he was putting his helmet away.
“Hey! You’re here early.”
Keith turned around abruptly, ready to deck whomever it was in the face. He faltered when he realised it was Lance, a sheepish smile on his face.
“Y-yeah. I’ve been looking forward to class all week.”
There was a pause as Keith realised what he’d just said. His eyes widened as he tried to cover it up with some excuse, but Lance beat him to it.
“Me too, Mullet. Since we’ve still got some time I’m gonna head to the cafe across the road. Did you want me to get you anything?”
Keith blinked. “Uh...a long black.”
“I don’t really do sugar in coffee. Let me grab some cash.”
Lance took a step backwards and waved a hand. “My shout.”
Lance’s smile was cheeky and Keith couldn’t really tell if Lance’s cheeks were pink from embarrassment or from the cool morning air.
“You can get me one next time,” Lance said as he tossed Keith the keys. “Let yourself up into the studio. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Keith watched as Lance ran across the road before heading to the doors.
It was strange being in the studio before anyone had arrived. The place was eerily silent, the air still. Muted sunlight filtered through the drawn curtains and Keith made his way over to the windows to pull the curtains back. His shoes barely made a sound as he walked, well-worn soles gently scuffing on the polished wood and he was overcome with an urge to dance across the floor. Keith threw open the curtains before turning sharply on his heel to face the opposite side of the room. He straightened his back and drew his shoulders down so that he was standing tall and poised. For some reason, he took a breath before lifting his arms up into the leader’s position and took a moment to steady himself. With far more finesse than he thought he had, Keith slid one foot forwards, holding the pose for just a second before stepping his way through the tango sequence of the wedding dance to cross the floor. It was different doing the steps on his own; he was used to having Lance guide him or Pidge pulling him. On his own he could take the steps as he liked, without the music he could pause and hold certain moments for as long as he wanted, without anyone watching he could lose himself to imagination. He turned sharply, intending on cutting across the floor, but stopped short when he noticed Lance leaning against the front desk, sipping his coffee and watching.
“Don’t mind me,” he said with a smile. “You’re doing pretty good.”
Keith flushed red. “Don’t make fun of me.”
“I’m not.” Lance said, picking up the second coffee to bring it to Keith. “I dance on my own all the time.”
“You’re semi professional.”
“So? It’s totally fine to dance by yourself, whether you know the steps or not.”
Keith muttered into his coffee cup. “What am I learning today?”
“Pleeeeease don’t hate me for this but...”
“I don’t think I’m going to hate you, Lance.”
Lance actually seemed to shrink in on himself. “Today you’re going to learn the samba.”
There was a beat of silence before Keith crossed his arms and turned his face away. “Nope.”
“You have to!”
“Would it help you if I showed you how it looks again?”
Keith was not proud about how much goading and coaxing it took to get him into the middle of the room, Lance’s samba playlist on in the background. He wasn’t proud of the fact that Lance genuinely seemed apologetic about having to teach the dance nor about the fact that Lance had promised they’d take things slow and that he definitely wouldn’t laugh (not that he ever had) at Keith’s troubles.
Lance had left Keith standing in the centre of the room whilst he stepped back a little.
“I know you said it won’t help, but I really think it will. I know you’ve seen me dance it at least twice.”
“Yeah, but I know I won’t be able to do it, so what’s the point of seeing it again?”
“It might help you visualise? Or it might help you see how the action is supposed to be?”
“You just want to show off, don’t you?”
“Maybe a little...my goal is to sweep you off your feet before the wedding, remember?” He winked as he began to bop in time with the music.
Keith was speechless as Lance began to dance.
As Lance went through the steps, he counted the timing out loud, knowing that Keith had fairly decent rhythm. He announced the names of the various techniques and steps as he went, hoping that it might help Keith feel a little more at ease. He danced as though he were water, his whole body moving with the beat. He could still easily see the apprehension on Keith’s face as he watched.
“You don’t need to do all this at once,” Lance said as he gestured to himself. He held his arms our towards Keith. “We’re just going to focus on the foot work. No arms or hips or torso. Just the steps.”
Keith still didn’t look convinced.
“Keeiiiith,” Lance whined, holding his hands out and beckoning him closer.
“Fine. But only because I know it’s going to be in the rehearsals soon...” He approached Lance slowly dragging his feet, his shoulders hunched.
“We’ll do it separately, then together. You can lead if you want. Is that all right?”
“I’d prefer that.”
“Okay then. We’ll just go over the basic movement and reverse basic... You want to step forward with your right foot on the first count, bring your left to your right on the ‘and’, step in place with your right on the second count. So it’s one, and two. Then the reverse; step back with your left on the third count, bring your right up to the left foot on the ‘and’, then step in place with the left on the fourth count. We’ll go over it nice and slow, apart for now.”
Keith felt woefully inept as Lance slowly called out the timing and he cringed with each encouragement that Lance gave. It wasn’t that Lance was the problem; if anything he was being patient and supportive and trying his best to make learning the dance as painless as possible. It was Keith. He had his expectations set far too high for himself and had already decided that he couldn’t do that Latin dances.
“I feel stupid.”
“Probably because you’re just doing the same six steps over and over again. Let’s try adding in a side basic movement. It’s the exact same timing and exact same steps, just to the side instead of to the front and back. Think you’re up for it?”
“Can we try it together?”
“Sure! You know, you can do a box step with just these basic movements. How about you try leading me in a box step? Just so you’ve got a sequence that you know you can follow.”
“Box step, like the waltz?”
“The very same, just without the turn. We’ll literally be dancing in a square.”
Although Keith was supposed to be leading, Lance gently pulled and pushed Keith along until his confidence picked up. It wasn’t easy, and it made Keith feel a little worse about himself, but Lance didn’t poke fun at Keith every time he stumbled or each time he awkwardly mixed up the steps. Although he knew the box step backwards, there was something about the Latin music pumping that gave it a completely different feel. He felt like he was holding Lance back.
“Did...did you want to lead properly?" Keith asked. "I mean, you’re practically leading anyway.”
Lance quickly checked the clock hanging on the wall and gave Keith a smile.
“There’s only a little bit of time before class ends. Would you like to do another tango? Like...the last time we danced together?”
Keith could have sworn Lance’s cheeks were pink as he asked. He debated with himself on whether or not he should. Keith recalled what happened last time. The way his heart pounded and his breath caught. The way his face felt flushed and his hands felt clammy. Whilst he hadn’t particularly enjoyed those sensations individually, he had enjoyed dancing with Lance. He had enjoyed what followed.
“I’d really like that, Lance.”
Keith was pretty sure his cheeks were pink too.
Chapter 16: Organising the Bachelorette Party
Keith attempts (again) to write his speech.
Lance organises Allura's bachelorette party.
Hunk continues to be the amazing friend that he is.
Pidge makes Keith concerned.
There is talk of tassels.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
Warning: This chapter I mention a couple of adult toys (vibrators and restraints and general toys) and Pidge and Keith have a very frank, very stupid conversation about nipple tassels. Everyone's aged up in this fic, but I thought I'd warn for it anyway as I know people have very set ideas about Pidge in particular. If you need me to add tags, please let me know!
Sorry for the wait everyone! My living situation has changed recently so I don't get a lot of free time to do writing. Sharing a house with two other people + extra hours at work has made it difficult for me to find quiet writing time, hence the slow updates. Thanks for sticking with me!
Keith’s life had settled into a pleasant routine; on the mornings or afternoons he didn’t work he would practice dancing. Most often he practiced with Pidge, but there was that one day a week that Lance would join them. Rehearsals with everyone happened once a week as well and Allura and Shiro had offered Keith some extra sessions with the pair of them if he felt that he needed it, especially with the impending latin portion of their wedding dance. Unfortunately, Lance didn’t have too much spare time despite his exams being over. Between classes at the studio and some practical hours at the local hospital, Lance was busy organising things for the wedding. He worked with Hunk on the cake and with Keith on the flowers, he met up with caterers to discuss menu options and the reception venue to talk table settings and room decoration. Still, he made it to every scheduled rehearsal with a smile and would sometimes pencil in some extra practice time with Keith if he could, much to Keith’s secret happiness.
The extra practice was paying off though; Keith’s cha-cha was looking great, even if he still had problems with the hip action. The samba was coming along too and he had the basic pattern down well enough that he could get through it, both leading and following, without stumbling. With just two dances left to cover, Lance had thought it best for Keith to feel completely comfortable with the latin dances he was learning before adding another to his repertoire. Keith had wholeheartedly agreed and knowing that he wouldn’t learn anything new until he was ready made him feel more at ease. He still felt silly trying to roll his hips or shake his arms, especially when Lance could do it so well, but Keith could see his improvement and stuck with it.
It was a quiet evening for Keith; there was no rehearsal planned and neither Pidge nor Lance were free for a practice session. He had thought to do some practice on his own, but his aching ankles after a night practice the day before and a long day at work made him think twice. An evening off wouldn’t hurt and it meant he could focus on other things, such as the best man speech that wouldn’t write itself.
With a disgruntled grumble Keith picked up the notebook that he had taken to writing down random sentences or paragraphs in that could, hopefully, form his speech. Currently he had five sentences written down, two of which that he was certain he would include and about a dozen more that were scribbled out, only to be written again further down the page. He had a few dot points about maybe mentioning dancing and how infuriating it was to watch Shiro and Allura literally dance around one another without making a move. Maybe he could add in the story about how it Shiro’s amazing very first attempt at asking Allura out?
Keith wasn’t convinced that he had the beginnings (or middle or end) of an amazing speech. Everything felt too forced. It didn’t feel genuine. He really did think Allura was one of the best things to happen to Shiro, and he truly was happy that he could consider her family but it just felt all kinds of weird to write that down and say it out loud. No matter what words he used, it just felt akward. Keith had tried to say it out loud ten times over just to make sure he wasn’t just being stupid about saying heartfelt things. He glanced down at his notebook, reading over the scribbled words. It felt weird even reading them. At the rate Keith was going, he’d have nothing to say except for “Shiro and Allura...you make a pretty great team.”
It was embarrassing to even think about.
Keith closed the notebook over and made his way over to his guitar. He hadn’t been playing it much recently thanks to the extra rehearsals and time at the florist and he was very much looking forward to some time to himself and the music.
Although Lance had made it seem like he had something amazing planned for Allura’s bachelorette party, Lance had been pondering over what to do for it for longer than anything else on his wedding list and he still hadn’t thought of something. He didn’t want to do the whole ‘lunch in the local wine country’ thing because everyone and their aunt did that, however, he also didn’t want to throw her a trashy party where they drove around the city in a stretch limo, the alcohol flowing freely with mostly naked men dancing around for them. He didn’t want to give her a cheap tiara and a gaudy sash with ‘BRIDE TO BE’ written on it in purple glitter. Lance wanted Allura’s last shindig as a single woman to be memorable in a good way, surrounded by her best friends and full of love and laughter.
It was difficult though. Nearly everyone he spoke to about bachelorette parties suggested booze and strippers or some kind of Tupperware party, only with vibrators and restraints and other such toys in all the colours of the rainbow instead of actual Tupperware. Whilst Lance wouldn’t have minded seeing a well-toned guy wearing very little or finding a new blindfold, he knew that there were some members of their friend group whom would vehemently object. He didn’t want Pidge feeling uncomfortable or awkward and left out and he knew that if Nyma could make it, she wouldn’t enjoy watching men dance either. Lance needed something that everyone could enjoy, something that they could all have a good laugh at.
Lance was pottering around his apartment doing some very much needed cleaning, with his playlist set to shuffle. He bopped and nodded and slid around the place, wiping down benches and tables, picking up miscellaneous articles of clothing and dirty dishes. He jammed to some classic rock and sang along with some of his favourite old pop songs that reminded him of younger days. A smooth, jazzy piece started up, the beat punctuated by snapping fingers. In the midst of sweeping the floor, Lance stopped dead in his tracks and stared at his speakers. Brass hits had his eyes widening as an electric guitar began to play. Out of nowhere, Lance recalled with great clarity his first practice session with Keith outside of the studio. He knew it was the song that prompted the memory and as the bass drum dropped Lance scrambled over to his phone, broom still in hand. He pulled his phone from the dock and practically jumped onto his couch, fingers quickly tapping away at the screen.
How could he not have thought of this before!? It was perfect! Pidge would probably shoot him for it, but they would manage. In fact, they might even appreciate the potential blackmail material. It might take some convincing on Lance’s part, but they would be there. They wouldn’t pass up the opportunity once they knew what might unfold.
Lance spent the better part of an hour searching on Google, reading reviews and scouting locations that would be easy enough for everyone to get to. As he searched, his idea evolved. They would spend the morning getting manicures or pedicures — entirely optional if mani’s and pedi’s weren’t your thing — followed by a high tea. They would chatter the morning away with cute cakes and sandwiches and delicious tea before moving on for the finale. The very idea made Lance giddy with excitement. He selected a handful of places to check out, quickly picked up his keys, pocketed his phone and headed out.
After his first few failed attempts, Lance had called Nyma for some help. She had happily recommended a cute little mani and pedi spa in the city and the moment that Lance entered the place, he knew that it would be perfect. The girls at the nail bars greeted him with a smile and immediately made him feel like a welcome customer. That alone would have been enough to choose the spa, but the way the manager all but shrieked when Lance enquired about having a bachelorette party group come in for manicures and pedicures had set it in stone. He walked out of the store an hour later, with a written out plan of how the morning would go, with free champagne and petit fours being offered. The manager had said that she would be more than happy to do something a little extra special for the bride-to-be. Lance had booked and paid a deposit on the spot, happy with Nyma’s recommendation.
His next destinations were a number of quaint cafe’s that offered high tea and although each of them were nice, they weren’t quite what he wanted. It was his fifth stop, at an unsuspecting tea house, with an atmosphere like a warm hug and cakes to die for that he felt like he had found the right place. It wasn’t fancy, fashioned more like an old home really, but the elderly man who owned the shop and his young son were dedicated to the craft of tea making. Again, Lance had made a reservation on the spot. It was growing late in the afternoon, but he had one more place to check out. It gave him butterflies just thinking about how everyone would react when he sent out the invites.
Oh, he couldn’t wait for the party!
As he walked up to the black lacquered door with ‘Black Kitten’ written in gold lettering, he grinned to himself.
“You’ve definitely outdone yourself, Lance.”
Half an hour later and Lance’s tour of the Black Kitten had gone perfectly; the decor was sultry without being trashy, the girls and guys who worked there were open and friendly. He was reassured with their group booking that they would be the only ones in the venue for the two hour time slot they had and if the party wanted to stay around afterwards, they could reserve a table by the stage. The Black Kitten had a policy for parties that forbid drinking for participating guests and Lance was more than onboard with that. The last thing he wanted was for someone to have one too many drinks and fall off their chair or get tangled in their boa. He had one more look around the venue, taking in the colour scheme of the place before heading off. Now that the events were all booked in, he needed to send out invitations and already the designs were forming in his mind.
Against his better judgement, he decided to give Shiro a call just before driving home. He wasn’t sure whom would give him more grief about what he was going to be asking; Shiro or Pidge, but he wasn’t sure he liked his chances with his long-time friend and short-statured dance partner.
“Hey Lance. What’s up?” Shiro’s always gentle voice answered.
“Hey Shiro. Nothing much. I have a favour I need to ask.”
“For wedding-related reasons only, are you able to give me Keith’s address?”
“Is this for the wedding invitation? Can’t you just give it to him when you see him at Altea?”
Lance leaned an arm against the door trim by the window, resting his head against his hand as he held the phone to his ear. His free hand brushed his fringe from his eyes.
“It’s not a wedding invite. It’s for Allura’s shindig.”
There was a slight confused pause on Shiro’s end. “Oh!”
“So why can’t you give it to him in person?”
Lance nibbled at his lip. There was I way he could tell Shiro that the reason he couldn’t just hand Keith the invite was because he was already having a hard enough time trying to not lose his shit over Keith being there in the first place. Especially if he opened the invite and read it with Lance right there.
“Because it’s nice to receive something in the post?”
Shiro hummed thoughtfully. “It really is, isn’t it? You have a pen and paper?”
“Hang on a sec, I’ll put you on loud speaker and type it into my phone. Thanks, Shiro.”
Lance sighed the moment he hung up the phone. Asking Shiro was far easier than what asking Pidge would have been. He had just put the keys into the ignition when his phone buzzed. Lance took a quick glance at the message:
Too shy to ask Keith yourself? That’s adorable :)
It took Lance a week to pick up the ink and pens, cardboard, paper, envelopes and other bits and pieces to put together the invites that he had designed for Allura’s bachelorette party. The front of the card was a pastel purple with a soft pink cut out where the details of the morning’s activites were written out in a deep blue metallic ink. A few tiny rhinestones decorated the top right and bottom left corners of the pink paper and swirls in a dark purple ink decorated the pastel purple borders on the sides. On the reverse side, the colours were richer: a medium burgundy edged a black rectangle in the centre where the details for the evening activity were written in gold. Rhinestones decorated the corners of the black paper and gold swirls decorates the red border; a mirror to the front of the invite.
Lance was quite pleased and proud of his handiwork, excitedly adding the few finishing touches to the envelopes. He licked the stamps, pulling a face at the taste of the glue on his tongue and carefully set them in the corners. He had practically bounded down the street to the post office, dropping off the envelopes with giddy glee. Now came the best bit: seeing everyone’s reactions.
It took seven painfully slow days. Seven days Lance waited for someone to say something.
Lance was setting up the studio for the day’s lessons when Hunk arrived, flapping his arms about, a familiar rectangle or purple and red card in his hands. His expression lit up.
“Dude! This idea...it’s killer. How did you even get Pidge to agree?”
Lance sheepishly scratched the back of his neck. “They haven’t yet. I will tell them, when they get the invite, that they don’t have to participate if they don’t want to.”
“But it sounds like such a fun thing to try! Shay said she’d be happy to tag along. It’s just us, right?”
“And Keith. I couldn’t leave him out; he’s Shiro’s brother.”
Hunk grinned. “Riiiiiiight.”
Lance playfully shoved Hunk. He barely moved.
“Shut up! I couldn’t just leave him out.”
Hunk turned the invite over to the burgundy and black side.
“Yeah right, you just want to see if he’ll actually do the burlesque lesson, don’t you?”
Lance grinned sheepishly, a light blush tinting his cheeks. “Maybe...”
Hunk wrapped an arm around Lance’s shoulder with a laugh.
“Well, it would be great for you if he does go, but, you do realise that if Keith goes... then he’ll get to see you burlesque?”
The surprise on Lance’s face told Hunk that no, no he had not realised that Keith would get to see him.
“Oh god Hunk...what if I fall off the chair or get tangled in my boa? What if I make an ass of myself?!”
“Lance, buddy, my pal...I think you kinda already have? In general I mean.”
“Huuuuuunk! Not helping!”
Keith read over both sides of the invitation carefully, trying to figure out if this was a kind of joke. While Keith wasn’t a fan of pedicures (being ticklish sucked sometimes), he thought that Allura would love it. High tea sounded nice too, even if he needed to spend the day making idle small talk. In fact, the morning sounded like it would be a pleasant experience, albiet quite unlike him. It was the evening part that had his mind whirling.
A burlesque lesson? A burlesque lesson with Allura and Pidge and who knew whom else? Keith assumed that Hunk had been invited and by extension, his partner Shay. A burlesque party with people he’d really only known for a few months and someone who was going to be his sister-in-law? How much, or how little, clothing would they be wearing? Was he going to see everyone in their underwear? Or would they be able to keep most of their clothes on. Maybe he could get away with wearing jeans and a shirt? Oh, Quiznak. Lance would be there too. Lance with those impossibly long legs and those broad shoulders doing burlesque wearing who knows how much?
A knock on his door interrupted his quickly spiralling thoughts.
“Keith!” Pidge called. “I can’t stay long 'cos I have class to teach this afternoon but I know you’ve got the invite! And we are absolutely, one hundred percent going!”
Keith opened the door.
“I am not giving up this opportunity. Everyone in underwear with feathers and stupid tassels on their nipples while dancing on chairs? I need evidence of this.”
“Wha-how? How do you even know that they—we— will be wearing nipple tassels?”
“I’m ace, not stupid. Everyone knows that burlesque dancers wear nipple tassels.”
“Pidge, that’s just an assumption. Besides, I’m gay. I don’t think I’ve seen a naked woman since that one time when I was, like, I don’t know, seventeen? How would I know that burlesque dances wear them?”
“Oh...right. I’m sure male burlesque dancers wear them too. Besides, they’re not naked women. They’re wearing nipple tassels.”
“I don’t know! Ask someone who’s straight? Or a lesbian? Or bi? I think they’d look hilarious.”
“So you’re going for the blackmail and tassels.”
Pidge grinned devilishly. “Yeah, but I’m mostly going to see how you cope with Lance wearing next to nothing. I’ll RSVP for both of us, don’t you worry, Keith!”
"I won't need to cope, Pidge. The only thing I'll need to cope with is seeing way too much of my future sister in law and best friend."
"I'm sure you'll manage with that, Keith. You're gay, remember?"
Suddenly his argument didn't seem very strong and Pidge laughed as they waved him goodbye.
Keith found it pathetic that he only lasted five minutes after Pidge left before picking up his phone.
I can’t believe I’m going to ask you this but...there won’t be tassels, right? At Allura’s party?
The reply was instant.
Uh...should there be tassels?
We definitely won’t be getting tassels then?
Well, if you wanna use them, then I guess we can arrange for some? I’m not judging, but I didn’t think they’d be your thing?
Not for me.
Who are they for? How did you even think of pasties?
It was Pidge who mentioned them off handedly and then it freaked me out.
What the shit, Pidge?! It’s just a class, Keith. Nothing to freak out over. If you're super uncomfortable with it, you can sit out, but it would be a shame if you missed out entirely.
A few minutes later, Keith replied.
Want to get some just for Pidge? They can stick them over their crop top or whatever they wear.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mullet. You’re evil.
Chapter 17: Something on Your Mind?
Keith realises just how little time there is.
Lance receives a slightly misleading text.
Keith tells Pidge his plans for Shiro's party.
Lance has something on his mind.
Time has this very annoying habit of somehow crawling along yet flying by faster than one can blink. For months the wedding was ‘ages away’; for months, Keith had plenty of time to worry about his speech and put off the fitting for his suit and planning Shiro’s bachelor party. For months, Keith had Shiro’s best friend Matt telling Keith that the wedding wasn’t as far away as he thought. For months, Keith had thought that he had plenty of time. Suddenly there were extra rehearsals, second thoughts about his bouquet design and Shiro freaking out that his suit was fitted a little too perfectly. Suddenly Keith needed to be practicing the speech that he hadn’t written yet so he wouldn’t stumble over the words and Shiro’s bachelor party should have been organised weeks ago with invites sent out and RSVP’d already.
The wedding was still quite a number of weeks away but Keith had unexpectedly realised just how close it really was. Suddenly there weren’t enough days in a week, let alone hours in a day. Quiznak, why hadn’t he realised sooner?!
Keith had been picking up extra shifts at the florist while Thace was away at an interstate floral festival, checking out the new trends in floristry and brushing up on techniques and learning about the latest advances in technology for keeping flowers for longer. Keith would have liked to go himself, but wedding preparations and practice meant he needed to stay behind. Usually during the quieter moments of his shifts, Keith would ponder how he might make the corsages and bouquets for the bridal party, which flowers he might use and what would compliment the colours of their clothing. He remembered that Lance had said that he and Hunk both liked flowers but he wasn’t sure if that meat they wanted bouquets? Would Pidge prefer a boutonniere if they wore the suit for the ceremony, or a bouquet if they wore their dress? Would they prefer one or the other regardless of what they wore? What did Shiro and Allura want for both themselves and the bridal party? Did they want them to have bouquets or corsages or something else entirely?
With a thoughtful hum to himself, he picked up the work phone and dialled the number for Altea studios. He knew it was between classes, so Allura should be able to answer a few quick questions.
“Hello, Altea Studios, this is Hunk.”
“Uhh...hey, Hunk. It’s Keith.”
“Hey! How’s it going?”
“Not too bad,” Keith replied. “I’m at work actually and I was wondering if Allura was there? I have a few questions about flowers for her.”
“Sure, just let me get her. You okay holding?”
Moments later the phone picked up again and it was Allura’s prim accent and smooth voice that Keith heard.
“Hey Allura, it’s Keith.”
Allura chuckled. “Yes, Hunk did mention that. He also mentioned something about the flowers?”
Keith nodded, even though Allura couldn’t see. “Yeah, I have a few questions if you have the time? It won’t take long.”
Keith leaned against the counter, watching as a young mother and her child walked past the shop.
“For the bridal party, did you have a preference? Do you want bouquets? Or would you rather boutonnieres and corsages, depending on what Pidge wears. Men usually wouldn’t hold bouquets, but...” Keith shrugged, “It’s your wedding, so if you want bouquets, we can do bouquets.”
“Has Shiro mentioned what he might prefer for yourself and Pidge to have?”
“I’ll be wearing a boutonniere. I’ll need to discuss with Pidge what they’re wearing for the ceremony but I don’t think they’ll be holding a bouquet.”
Allura hummed thoughtfully.
“I do like flowers...but I wonder if Hunk and Lance might prefer one over the other.” Allura fell silent while she pondered. “I think we might be better off asking Hunk and Lance. I’m happy with whichever they prefer. I would hate to ask them to hold bouquets only to have them not want to.”
Allura covered the end of the receiver with her hand.
“Hunk! Do you have a preference for flowers? Would you be against holding a bouquet?”
Keith couldn’t quite make out Hunk’s muffled reply.
“Hunk says he doesn’t mind. He’s happy to go with whatever Lance decides as he thinks that they should have the same thing.”
“Okay, thanks Allura. I’ll check in with Lance and let you know what he decides?”
“Actually, Keith, surprise me.”
Keith could hear the smile in Allura’s voice and he let out a small huff of laughter. “Sure thing. I’ll talk to you later?”
“Yes! Enjoy the rest of your shift, Keith.”
Keith hung up the phone and spent a few minutes needlessly straightening the pile of wrapping paper. It was still quiet: no one had entered the shop for a good twenty minutes so he could probably call Lance and ask him about the flowers but a memory floated to the front of his mind, making him smile softly to himself. Keith didn’t really need to call Lance to know what he would more than likely say he wanted. After all, just because Lance was a dude didn’t mean he couldn’t have a bouquet. Keith’s gaze swept over the store as he regarded all of the neatly displayed bouquets. He quickly took his phone out of his pocket to shoot a quick message off just as a customer walked into the store.
What are you wearing?
Keith could feel the buzz in his pocket moments later, but couldn’t answer it until the elderly man had chosen his bouquet and paid.
Can’t say I ever expected this kind of message from you, Mullet.
I’m wearing jeans and a plain white t-shirt but I can change if you want ;)
The customer couldn’t decide between the pink bouquet or the purple one and Keith politely waited for him to make his decision as his phone continued to buzz intermittently.
But I think you have work today? Missed a couple of important words back there, buddy.
I’m guessing that you’re actually trying to ask me about what colour I’m wearing for the wedding.
Hunk’s yellow and I’m blue.
Lance’s messages stopped coming through, the customer finally selected a peach and soft yellow bouquet instead and Keith bid the elderly man a good afternoon. As Keith read over the messages he almost felt like sinking into the floor: he had indeed forgotten a few key words in his initial message. As he thought of what colours would compliment blue and yellow suits best, Keith carefully sent off a message to Lance, a smile at his lips.
And I think you’d look fine in jeans and a plain white t-shirt.
It had been a couple of weeks since Pidge and Keith had a chance to catch up on their usual Thursday night, but they both finally had a Thursday night free and Keith found himself in Pidge’s kitchen. guiding them through making a teriyaki sauce because they had insisted that this time they cook.
Keith wasn’t about to say no.
The plan was to have dinner and then watch one of Pidge’s favourite horror movies but Keith had something he needed to run by Pidge. Ever since Keith had received the invite in the post for Allura’s bachelorette party, a needling little thought had wormed its way into his brain and lodged itself in. Keith needed to rise to the occasion and throw an equally well-planned out party for Shiro. Although he was confident enough with his choices, he thought he should get another person’s opinion on it before making any concrete decisions. This wasn’t something he should just dive right into without thinking: it was an important day for Shiro and Keith wanted to be sure that his brother would have an amazing time.
“You need less water for the rice,” Keith mentioned off handedly as he watched Pidge potter around the kitchen.
“The rice. Less water.”
“How would you even know?”
Keith gave Pidge a blank stare. “I’ve been cooking rice since I was eight because Shiro sucks at it. Trust me.”
“Fiiine,” Pidge sighed. “Should have just let you cook.”
“How will you ever learn if you always get me to cook for you?”
“You’ll just have to cook for me for the rest of forever.”
Keith rolled his eyes as Pidge shoved the rice into the microwave to cook.
“So,” Pidge drawled as they leaned against the bench, “How’s Shiro’s party planning going?”
Pidge had been expecting an exasperated sigh and a slap to Keith’s face. They knew that Keith had been struggling with thinking of ideas and although they had been trying to help, Pidge hadn’t really been able to come up with anything that they liked. They were surprised when Keith’s expression brightened.
“Pretty good, actually. I’ve got two main ideas and I think Shiro will really like it.”
Pidge leaned forward with a raised eyebrow. “And? You can’t leave me hanging like that, Keith. You have to tell me!”
“Well... a bit like Allura’s party, there’s two things I’m planning.”
“The first is a game of archery tag.”
“And that is...?”
“It’s like laser tag, but with bows and arrows instead.”
“Oh! That’s a neat idea,” Pidge exclaimed, dishing the rice and teriyaki chicken into bowls.
“After that I thought we could do an early dinner followed by a ghost house tour.”
“Ghost tour?” Pidge asked, handing Keith a bowl and ushering him out into the lounge room. “Tell me more about this ghost tour.”
Keith laughed. “If I tell you about it, you’ll research it and then it’ll be boring for you.”
“I could research it anyway.”
“Yes, but you won’t know which one we’re doing so it’ll still be entertaining for you. I really hope you won’t spoil it for yourself though.”
Pidge shoved a fork-full of rice into their mouth. “Fine.”
“Like the idea?”
“I love it!”
Lance knew that he fell in love easily; a cute smile with a charming personality and he was more than likely yours, hook, line and sinker. Yes, he flirted with almost everyone but flirting was fun and it usually made someone feel good about themselves. Lance knew that nine times out of ten he’d be trying to flatter someone who wasn’t particularly interested in his affections and that was fine. So long as he made someone smile with a compliment, he was happy.
Keith, however, was different. For once, Lance wasn’t just satisfied with witty banter and flirty smiles. He wanted to spend time with Keith, to get to know him better, to learn what he liked and what his favourite food was and to hear funny stories from his childhood. He wanted to share those things about himself with Keith too. Although it was still some time off, every lesson that he and Keith had was one lesson closer to the wedding. The closer the wedding became, the more Lance began to think about Keith and what his feelings towards him were. Lance liked dancing with Keith. He liked organising wedding things and talking flowers and coordinating it all with the outfits. He liked meeting Keith at work every now and again and he liked how Keith took an interest in his university work. He enjoyed their text messages and how easily they could talk and banter back and forth.
So how would things go after the wedding? Would Keith just stop going to classes? Would Lance ever see him again if he didn’t? After all, in the years that Shiro had been dancing at Altea, Keith had never visited. Lance wasn’t ready to just let Keith disappear in a couple of months time.
Lance wanted to say something but half of him was terrified. What if he had read Keith all wrong? Sure there had been flirting, but maybe Keith was just interacting with Lance on his level? He didn’t even really know one hundred percent if Keith even liked men. All he had to go on was some cheeky back and forth and the knowledge that he was neither aro or ace. Lance usually didn’t let the chance of being turned down deter him, but Keith was different. If he screwed this up, Keith might not want to dance with him anymore and Lance didn’t want that.
Lance tried to play it cool; he tried to act the same as always, but he knew only moments after the lesson started that Keith could tell that something was bothering him.
“Are you feeling all right?”
Lance had been too busy mulling things over that Keith’s question startled him.
“Wha?” He hadn’t even realised that Keith had been leading the whole time through the wedding dance.
“You’re really spaced out; you’ve missed all four cue’s for the lead to switch. I’m pretty sure your exams are finished so...are you feeling okay?”
“I’m feeling just fine.”
“Is there something you’re worried about then?”
“Oh...uh...I wouldn’t say I’m worried...”
“But there’s something on your mind?”
Lance shrugged and tried to give Keith a cheeky grin and finger guns. “I’ve always got something kicking around up here. Don’t worry about it.”
Keith looked unconvinced. “If...you want to talk about it...I can listen.”
The smile that Lance gave Keith was surprisingly soft. “Thanks. I’ll let you know if I need anything, but seriously, there’s nothing to worry about. Now! Enough mindless dancing. We’re going to go over the cha cha.”
Keith groaned and Lance laughed at his lack of enthusiasm. As Keith stepped in close, their bodies almost touching, Lance held Keith a little bit tighter, not really wanting to let him go.
Next time: burlesque!
Chapter 18: Bachelorette Party
Allura's shindig is finally happening!
Mani's and pedi's and high tea and...burlesque.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
If I have, at any point, misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as I can.
This chapter didn't quite go how I initially envisioned it, but I had fun writing it so I hope it's fun to read.
Hunk had never been so embarrassed in his life. Not even that one time when he had barfed all over the floor before his first big competition could come close. He loved Lance dearly, truly he did, but there had been a few times throughout their life-long friendship that had Hunk questioning why they were such good friends: that one time that Lance thought it was funny to try and bathe Hunk’s cat Leo while Hunk was showering or that other time he received a picture message from Lance, half naked, asking Hunk’s opinion on a burn on his upper thigh because he’d been distracted while trying to pick up his cup of coffee.
None of them really came close to now though.
It was between classes at Altea; the intermediates had finished and they were waiting for the advanced latin class to start. Shiro had a private lesson scheduled and both Lance and Hunk were killing time. For reasons that Hunk couldn’t even begin to comprehend, Lance had thought that it was the perfect time to browse an array of accessories that he thought might be fun to have during their burlesque class. Hunk had politely told Lance that the place they’d be going to would probably have some accessories to use but Lance had waved him off, finding it much more entertaining to browse the internet for himself.
Things had started out fine; a neat pair of suspenders here, a pair of elbow-high satin gloves there. But Lance being Lance had quickly found himself in a more ‘interesting’ part of the internet and was showing Hunk cute pairs of ruffled booty shorts and skin-tight leather pants that laced up at the back all the way to the curve of the model’s backside.
And then Lance had found the pasties.
Hunk had made the mistake of asking what they were meant to be used for and Lance had been more than happy to elaborate. Hunk had never been so embarrassed in his life and was constantly checking to see if anyone was eavesdropping on their conversation.
“Wh—why are you even looking at them!?”
Lance tapped his chin. “Welllll, I thought they’d be something fun.”
“You’re not going to make us all wear those are you?”
“Only if you want some. I myself am quite fond of these star-shaped feathery ones.”
Lance held up a photo to Hunk’s face and he scrunched his eyes closed and turned away.
“Dude, I do not need to see you or imagine you wearing those. Like, I love you, man, but no.”
Lance laughed Hunk off. “Oh shit, dude, there’s some nice gold ones here! They’d look killer on you.”
He sighed dramatically and pocketed his phone. “Fiiiiine. Don’t worry; I’m really only looking for them for one of our guests.”
It took Hunk no more than two minutes to crumble.
Lance turned to Hunk and grinned as a few of the advanced students entered the studio.
“You’ll see on the weekend.” Hunk groaned as Lance made his way to the centre of the room. “All right everyone! Let’s do a little bit of a warm up while we wait for the rest of the class.”
The invitation had said to be at the nail salon by one in the afternoon and Keith had planned on sleeping well into the morning on the day of Allura’s bachelorette party but nerves had made it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. It wasn’t even for a good reason like being nervous about the actual dancing, or being a bit unsure of how to act around everyone potentially wearing much less than he was used to.
Keith was worried about making an impression.
He grumbled into his pillow as a stupid wave of giddy excitement tinged with anxiety swept over him. Feelings were stupid.
Knowing that the dedicated meeting time was still hours off, Keith hauled himself out of bed far earlier than he would have liked and made a beeline for the shower. If he was going to be waiting around for hours, he might as well get ready and make the most of the time. His Best Man speech was almost done, with the delivery meticulously planned out, but the ending wouldn’t write itself.
Keith was just finishing up with his lunch when Pidge knocked on the door.
“Today’s the day!” they announced brightly when Keith opened the door. “Are you excited!?”
“Actually...I kind of am? The high tea sounds nice so I’m looking forward to it.”
“I can’t wait for burlesque!”
The funny thing was, Keith knew that Pidge was genuinely looking forward to it. It was something they’d never done before and they were doing it with some of their closest friends. It might be awkward but it would be something they’d laugh and joke about for years to come.
“It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure,” Keith said with a smile. He spied a small bag that Pidge had slung over their shoulder. “Change of clothes?”
“Yeah. You bringing something?”
Keith nodded to his backpack sitting on the couch. “Just in case. I’m hoping my jeans and t shirt will be okay though.”
“Same. I wonder what everyone else is going to —?” The sound of a car horn beeping out the front interrupted Pidge. “Oh! That’ll be Coran with the limo! Let’s go!”
“What?” Keith asked as he collected his things and did one last check of keys, phone and wallet.
“Lance was lamenting the fact that he wouldn’t be able to organise a car or something else super fancy when Coran said that he knew a guy from his college days that got into wedding hire. So, Coran got in contact with the guy and arranged to borrow the limo for the day. He always seems to have the weirdest connections...it’s like he knows everyone.”
The car horn beeped again, a little more impatiently this time.
“C’mon! We have to pick up the others!” Pidge practically pushed Keith out the door.
Lance leaned out the window, a cheery grin on his face. “Eyyy! It’s the last of the attendees before we go and pick up the lady of the day!”
“Hello youngsters!” Coran greeted. “Hop along, we’ve got to pick up Allura shortly if we want to make our appointment on time.”
Keith and Pidge piled into the back of the limousine where Hunk and a shy Shay greeted them. Shay and Keith had never met before and both were a little timid around new people but with the familiarity and friendship of the others, the awkwardness soon was soothed away. Before long, Coran had pulled up at Allura’s house and Lance excitedly jumped out. He took out his phone and dialed Allura, putting her on loudspeaker.
“Hey, Allura! We’re just out the front. It’s a bit squishy with everyone in my car, so Pidge has volunteered to hide in the trunk.”
“Just this once, Allura!” Pidge called out.
“All right, Lance. I’ll be out in a tick.”
“See you soon.”
Lance bounced on the balls of his feet while he waited for Allura to show at the doorstep. She would be expecting to see Lance’s car piled full of their friends and he couldn’t wait to see her face when she saw the shiny black limousine that Coran had managed to borrow for the day. Nothing could have prepared him for the excited gasp and bone-crushing hug she pulled him into when she finally walked out of the house, dressed beautifully in a powder blue summer dress.
“My goodness, Lance! Everyone! You shouldn’t have!” She exclaimed, holding Lance by the shoulders. “This is too much!”
“I couldn’t let my bestie start her big celebrations in my beat up old car.”
“But Blue’s been so good to us.”
“Blue understands,” Lance said with a laugh. “Now come on, we’re all off to get our nails done.”
“Ooh!” Allura clapped her hands together excitedly. “A spa day!?”
Lance held open the door for her. “That’s just to start with...”
The women at the nail salon had outdone themselves. By the time Coran had safely parked the limousine and made his way to the salon, the final customer was finishing up. She gave the party a smile as she left and only seconds after the door had closed, the manager had popped open a bottle of champagne to kick off the days celebrations.
“Congratulations!” The manager and the salon assistants exclaimed, placing a small tiara atop Allura’s head. “We’re thrilled to be part of your day! My name is Luxia and my team will be taking care of you today.”
Everyone was guided over to the comfy salon chairs by their beautician for the day. Keith had politely declined the pedicure, blushing lightly when Lance had joked with him about being ticklish. Each attendant gave their client a choice of scented oil for the foot bath and everyone was offered a glass of champagne or juice if they preferred along with a small selection of delicate cakes and chocolates as they dipped their feet in the warm water. Whilst Keith never would normally do anything like this, he enjoyed observing everyone as they chattered away, discussing what sort of polish they’d like on their fingers and toes. Keith’s beautician, Acxa, had offered a neck and shoulder massage as he wasn’t having a pedicure but he had simply smiled and suggested that perhaps the lady of the day might like to be pampered just a little bit extra.
Lance, Hunk and Allura were busy talking about how delicious the food was; where did they get the little cakes from because they were to die for and the champagne had been the best drop that Lance had ever had. Luxia had chuckled lightly, saying that the salon had brought out the good stuff for such a special occasion. Pidge and Shay were chattering about dancing mostly but Keith had heard Pidge say that they really were quite enjoying the foot scrub. Shay had suggested that the girls and Pidge ought to make it a semi regular thing; it was nice to hang out with everyone outside of the studio every so often. She had added, with a soft chuckle, that the boys could come along too if they wanted. Keith didn’t talk all that much. He preferred to listen to snippets of conversation and add a comment here and there, but for the most part he was happy enough observing.
Before long, the beauty therapists were putting the final touches on everyone’s toes before guiding them over to the nail bar. Keith sat between Allura and Lance and watched as they pondered over what designs to get. Allura wasn’t able to choose anything too fancy as she needed to make sure her nails would be in order for her big day but the salon had quite the selection of basic polishes, nail stickers and decorations so she wasn’t lacking for choice.
Coran had proudly proclaimed that he would be going with a high-shine orange polish to compliment his moustache and hair. Florona had chuckled, enjoying Coran’s enthusiasm as she selected the bright bottle from the collection. Pidge had decided to go with a forest green and mint french manicure, wanting to see how it might look for their wedding nails. Hunk had chosen a marigold yellow base with a lighter yellow stripe down the middle and Shay had selected a basic french manicure, embellished with tiny silver rhinestones. Allura had decided on a deep violet through to soft lavender gradient, one colour on each nail. Lance had taken forever to decide and had eventually gone with Plaxum’s suggestion of a French manicure with tiny blue flowers at the base.
Keith had never felt so far out of his element; as his hands soaked in the little hand bath, Acxa showed Keith a few polishes in the red spectrum when she had asked his favourite colour. He liked the deep red and had suggested a French manicure because he’d overheard Pidge asking for one, with red for the tip instead of white. Lance had overheard and had leaned over with a grin.
“You should get something exciting, because you didn’t get a pedi.”
Lance’s reply was instant.
“Oh! I can do that,”Acxa said. “We can do that deep red base, a dark orange or gold metallic body with lighter gold for the edges of the flames. What do you think, Keith?”
Keith blinked. “Uh...I guess flames works...”
“You’re going to love it.”
Acxa had, on more than one occasion, commented on Keith’s hands and how well-kept they were. He had thanked her for the compliment, explaining that one of his hobbies was guitar, so he needed to make sure his hands were in good condition to play at his best. She had nodded along, being careful not to file down the calluses on his fingertips too much, explaining that she had a friend who played in metal band so she knew how important the calluses were.
Shay was the last to finish; the rhinestones were slow to be set but they looked wonderful. She smiled as she showed her nails off to Hunk, giving them a little wiggle.
“All right, everyone! I hope you’re all feeling beautiful and pampered,” Lance announced. “It’s time to head on over to our second location.”
“Second location?” Allura asked as Pidge excitedly hoisted Allura up from her seat.
“Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone! Try not to party too hard,” Luxia chucked.
The group exited the salon with a chorus of ‘thank you’ and ‘see you next time!’ and piled into the limo once more.
For the entire car ride across the city, Allura was excitedly trying to figure out where they were next off to. She had guessed a number of things: shopping spree at the local mall, more pampering at a day spa where they could get back massages and then have their makeup done or dinner and a show. With a grin, Lance told Allura to close her eyes and to let Hunk guide her along once the car came to a stop. Allura obliged, but not before giving him a skeptical look.
“Don’t let me run into any walls, Hunk.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Allura. I’m not Pidge.”
Pidge rolled their eyes. “It was one time!”
Hunk carefully helped Allura out of the limousine, with Shay closing the door behind her. Keith and the others followed along behind Lance as he entered the tea shop.
The owner and his son had set the place up beautifully: a crisp white tablecloth with tiny yellow, pink and baby-blue stars scattered over their largest table which was neatly set up for seven. The tea plates and cups were a mix of soft pink, blue, yellow and green. Vases of flowers were placed at equal intervals along the table, the bright green foliage adding just that little pop of colour amongst the pastel. Gentle instrumental music played in the background, simply to add to the atmosphere. As Hunk uncovered Allura’s eyes, they carried out two cake-stands filled with finger sandwiches and tiny savoury pastries.
“Congratulations!” the owner and his son announced in unison.
“Oh my goodness!” Allura threw her arms around Hunk and gave him a squeeze. “It’s been forever since I’ve been to a high tea!”
The afternoon flew by in an array of different teas, cakes and scones with laughter and chatter and stories to go along with it. Keith had finally heard the story of how Shiro had proposed from Allura’s perspective which had been interesting to say the least. He’d learned of Lance’s input on the whole thing and how he and Allura had devised a plan for her to propose to Shiro if he hadn’t worked up the courage. Keith had laughed at that, telling everyone how he and Pidge had all but coerced Shiro into proposing because the poor man had been terrified that Allura would say no. Keith heard tales of old dance competitions and he finally learned what the blue thing was in Lance’s picture for the contact in his phone; it was the blue skirt of a ballgown billowing while he twirled. Keith shared a few of his own stories too, about Pidge and Shiro and as he sat there, laughing along with the others with Lance by his side, he felt that he was part of the group, like he had known them for much longer than a few months at most.
Five o’clock came too quickly and as the clock chimed, Lance gave Allura a little bit of a nudge.
“Time for the last part of the day. Are you all excited?”
Pidge basically vibrated in their seat. “Yes! I have been waiting weeks for this moment.”
“What have you been waiting for, Pidge?”
“B--” Keith slapped his hand over Pidge’s mouth, cutting them off.
“Pidge doesn’t want to spoil the surprise,” Keith said with a grin.
After bidding the owner of the tea shop and his son farewell they all climbed into the limousine and Lance gave Coran directions to the Black Kitten from the back seat.
The Black Kitten was in a part of the city that Allura hadn’t ever really been to, so she didn’t recognise any of the buildings or streets or shops around. The longer they drove, the atmosphere in the limousine grew more excited. Pidge kept asking if they were there yet and even Shay had asked once or twice. Lance had laughed, saying that they were nearly there and they wouldn’t need to wait much longer. Eventually the limousine had slowed to a stop and Coran lowered the divider.
“We’re heeere!” he announced excitedly. “I hope you’ve all got your dancing shoes on.”
“Dancing shoes?” Allura asked.
Lance stepped out of the car and extended a hand to Allura to help her out. Allura blinked up at the glowing black and white sign on the awning of the building, the cursive writing making it look elegant rather than tacky.
“Welcome,” he said. “To the Black Kitten.”
The receptionist in the entry to the club greeted them with a warm smile. Her hair was pinned up in perfect curls, her lips a deep crimson. Her voice was smooth and low as she stood to come around to the front of the desk.
“Welcome, kittens!” She gracefully toed across the floor to stop before Allura. “And an especially warm welcome to you, Princess Allura.”
She smiled politely and chuckled at the title. “Thank you.”
The entry to the place was cosy, elegant and just a touch seductive but there were no real hints as to what sort of club it was. She hoped it wasn’t strippers. Not that she wouldn’t appreciate the sentiment but she much preferred the private sessions she was afforded every so often in the comfort of her own bedroom. Allura wouldn’t mention it to anyone but Shiro could put on quite the show.
“I suspect that Lancey Lance there has kept this all a bit of a secret?”
“Indeed he has.”
With a giddy little clap, the receptionist leaned over the desk and plucked up something small.
“In that case, would you mind if we kept it a surprise a little longer?” She held up a black velvet eye mask.
Allura’s uncertainty must have shown on her face because instantly the receptionist was giving her a warm smile.
“Or you can close your eyes, if that would be more comfortable. You won’t be walking far. Of course, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“It’s okay, Allura.” Pidge said with a grin. “I promise it’s nothing too weird and I promise I won’t walk you into a wall.”
Allura laughed. “If anyone aside from my fiancée is going to blind fold me, I guess it should be my man of honour, right?”
Lance took the eye mask from the receptionist and was about to pull it over Allura’s head when he stopped.
“Wait. Shiro’s blindfolded you? If I’m being honest I thought it would have been the other way around.”
Allura’s grin slipped into a sly smirk and she raised her eyebrows. “Who knows.”
Once the blindfold was secured over Allura’s eyes, the receptionist looked to the group with a bright smile.
“I hope you’re all ready for a fantastic evening! Come along right this way; Ezor and Lotor are dying to meet you all.”
Lance stood by Allura’s side, wrapping one arm around her shoulder as the other took her hand. Carefully, he guided her across the room and through one of the black lacquered doors that the receptionist was ushering the group towards.
“Welcome!” came a bright, bubbly voice as the group entered. “My name’s Ezor and my partner here is Lotor. Now, where’s the lucky lady for this evening?”
Lance pulled Allura forwards and she turned her blindfolded face towards the sound of the woman’s voice. Her interest was piqued and she squeezed Lance’s hand in anticipation; she hadn’t missed the quiet gasps and buzz of energy as they filed into the room. He manoeuvred Allura to the front so that when he finally removed the blindfold, she would be wowed.
“You guys ready to start?” Ezor asked.
“Absolutely!” Pidge exclaimed. “I have been waiting weeks for this. C’mon Lance...”
Lance laughed. “You ready, Allura?”
Allura nodded with an excited smile. Hearing Pidge sound so enthusiastic had soothed her worries and she could feel the rest of the group humming with anticipation. She could hear Hunk’s fidgeting and Shay’s quiet glee. She had heard Coran’s quiet murmur of appreciation of the decor and even Keith had been smiling when he’d set foot into the foyer before her eye mask had been put on.
Allura blinked as Lance loosened and removed the eye mask, her eyes adjusting to the dim light. Two rows of black chairs, one row of four and one row of three, were situated behind two white chairs. Ezor and Lotor posed on the white chairs, easy smiles at their lips. The pair were perched perfectly on the back of their chairs, one leg bent and foot resting on the seat. The other leg was extended straight, foot pointed towards the ground but not touching it. Ezor had both hands clasped gently on her knee, whereas Lotor had one hand on his knee, the other resting gently on the back of the chair. Lotor lifted his hand from the back of the chair and tipped his hat as Ezor gave a little wave and a wink.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here, Princess.” They greeted in unison.
Allura turned to Lance, confusion on her face. What was going on?
“We’re gonna burlesque!” he said with an excited smile, gesturing to the room and giving a little shimmy.
“But first,” Ezor said as she gracefully stepped down from her chair. “A toast to the bride to be!”
Lotor motioned to a small table in the corner of the room, an assortment of non-alcoholic mocktails and fruit resting atop it.
“Help yourselves! If you’ve brought a change of clothes to dance in, feel free to take the time now to get dressed. Have a look in the accessory boxes and take out anything you might like to use as a prop.”
Lance handed Allura his backpack and gently pushed her in the direction of the curtained change rooms. He gave her a cheeky grin when she gave him a look of confusion.
“I had Shiro pick something out the other day. Go get changed!”
Allura raised an eyebrow at Lance. “You asked Shiro to pick something out. For a burlesque class.”
“Don’t worry,” Lance grinned. “He kept it...nice.”
While Allura changed, Ezor had started the playlist as she and Lotor helped the others choose accessories, helping them pin them on or straighten them up. With an excited little laugh, Lance rummaged through his second bag; he’d almost forgotten about the accessories he had brought along. Not wanting to offend the staff at the Black Kitten, Lance had called in advance to make sure that bringing along his own accessories wouldn’t be an issue.
“A little birdie told me that a certain someone wanted tassels at our lesson...”
Pidge let out a single, loud “Ha!”
“So never let it be said that Lance doesn’t deliver! Catch, Pidge.”
He tossed the small bag he found to Pidge and they caught with with a cheer. They eagerly opened the black draw string bag and pulled one of the pasties out, holding it up for all to see. It was green and sequinned with silver highlights and unlike the ones that Lance had originally been looking at with feathers and beads, this one was a simple tassel.
“Seriously, this is amazing,” Pidge said as they stuck them over their shirt. “Whaddaya think?”
“Can you shimmy?” Shay asked.
Pidge wriggled their shoulders, tassels flying haphazardly as they laughed. “This will never get old.”
“Oh, that looks fun!” Shay giggled.
“Keith! I have tassels!”
Pidge shimmied their way over to Keith who was having a hard time keeping a straight face.
“I can see that, Pidge.”
They turned to Hunk. “So, what do you think? Sexy or hilarious?”
Hunk looked like a deer caught in headlights. “Uh...”
“No pressure, Hunk. Just for fun.”
“It looks hilarious...but...I guess I can kinda see how they might be sexy?”
Pidge looked to Shay.
“Definitely sexy,” she said with a giggle, playing along with Pidge. “Coran?”
“Well, I think you’re doing a grand job of shimmying there, number five! You’ve got some excellent shoulder action happening.”
Pidge had just turned to ask Lance for his opinion when Allura walked out of the change room.
“Oh my goodness, Pidge! What on earth?”
“Sexy or hilarious?”
“Hilarious,” Allura said, covering her face as she laughed. “Positively hilarious.”
Lance dramatically grasped his chest. “Pidge...your sexiness...it’s overwhelming. I can hardly stand it.”
They cackled as Lance mimed wiping sweat from his brow. “Keith?”
Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t keep the smile from his face.
“I still can’t understand the why...but you look hilarious.”
Pidge grinned devilishly at Keith.
He was in the middle of wrapping a bright pink feather boa around his neck, but paused to give Pidge his attention.
“Piiiiiidge?” He asked in the same sing-songy voice they had used.
“Did you get some tassels for yourself?”
With a smirk that promised shenanigans, Lance all but skipped over to his bag and fished out a black bag, not dissimilar to the one he’d given Pidge.
“You had to ask?”
By the time everyone had found their favoured accessories and had finished off their mocktails, Lance had convinced Hunk and Allura to join himself and Pidge in the wearing of tassels. With a cheeky smile, Ezor had promised them that she would show them how to properly twirl them towards the end of class.
“All right everyone,” Lotor said with a smile. “Take your seats, it’s time we begin!”
Allura, Lance, Hunk and Pidge took the front row, while Coran, Keith and Shay took the back. Keith was beginning to question why he thought coming along was a good idea. Not only did he have to live through Pidge and Lance shimmying their shoulders to make the tassels sway, he also needed to deal with Lance’s over-the-top dramatics. Keith been expecting female teachers and hadn’t prepared for the possibility of seeing gorgeous men. It certainly didn’t help that one of his instructors could only be described as beautiful and that he seemed to wear a permanent smirk at his lips that said he damn well knew it. Still, he wasn’t sure if he should leave screaming or if he should throw caution to the wind, say “quiznak” and just shimmy along with the rest of them.
“Now, before we start, some people like to think of a special someone as they perform. Others just like it for show. Others like it for themselves. Roll with it and have fun!” Ezor said with a bright smile.
“You’re all friends here and Ezor and I will only encourage you to unabashedly be yourselves.”
They stepped slowly through their little routine, giving each of the group tips and pointers as they went. Ezor gently coaxed Hunk out of his shell and by the time they’d learned half of the routine, he was sliding his hands up his legs and over his chest with the best of them. A quiet compliment from Shay had him glowing red and although she was a little more reserved about it, her confidence grew as well.
Allura’s grin didn’t diminish the entire time; she was enjoying watching her friends cut loose a little and have fun as well as learning some new things that she thought she might pocket for later. Pidge and Coran were having an absolute blast; they were being over the top on purpose, decidedly not hitting the sexy mark but going in with enthusiasm anyway. Lance had joined them with enthusiasm, matching Pidge’s and Coran’s antics but as the routine progressed, Lance fell into it more. He found himself watching his poses in the mirror, making subtle adjustments to the way his hips swayed or his expression. Keith had been enjoying himself as well though much like Shay, he was more reserved in the routine. He would perform the movements with precision and on beat but he held himself back, not wanting to make a fool of himself in the mirror in front of everyone.
Being a group full of dancers — if Keith could call himself one too —meant that they picked up the choreography quite quickly despite it being a different way of moving than they were used to. This meant that once everyone got the steps down, they could add their own little flares and flourishes to their individual performances. They each fell into their own little world as the instructors made their way around to each of them, practicing the routine and adding little extra touches here and there.
“All right ladies, here is where you want to run your hands up over your thighs, over your abdomen and up to your chest - make sure you raise the bottom of your top a little. Once you get to your chest, you can squish The Girls together a little bit before holding for a second and then sliding your hands back down. For those of unspecified gender, follow along but instead of squishing your chest, bring your hands all the way up to your shoulders - elbows high! Turn your head into one arm as the other hand trails back down over your body.” Ezor demonstrated the movement, nodding along encouragingly as Shay, Allura, Coran and Pidge followed along.
“Now for the boys! Watch Lotor carefully.”
Lotor stepped in front of his chair and tossed his hair over his shoulder. His stance was relaxed, his mouth quirked into that knowing smirk.
“You’ll start from your chest and slowly slip your hands down your stomach, shift your weight so you pop one hip and brush your thumbs slowly over The Goods — don’t be shy now — as you slip your hands down to your thighs and then bring your hands around to cup your bum. Rest there for a moment before sliding your hands to your hips and arching your back. Pull back those shoulders and show off a little! Looking good!”
As promised, Ezor taught Allura, Lance and Pidge how to twirl their tassles, having them bounce on the spot until they got it right. Shay, Pidge and Hunk were taught a couple of tricks with their top hats and before long they were tossing and flipping it with ease. Coran had been shown how to use the fan and how to snap it closed and open and somewhere along the way he decided to teach himself how to throw it up into the air and catch it, opening with a flourish. In addition to her tassels, Allura had also opted for a crown and some fishnet stockings and although she didn’t learn any ‘tricks’, Ezor had shown her some of the more alluring ways of peeling off a pair of stockings. Ezor was showing Lance how best to use a boa and as Keith practiced the beginning of the routine, Lotor came up to him to show him the best way to remove his the elbow-length gloves he’d chosen for his accessory.
“Remember what we said earlier?”
Keith nodded as he loosened the last finger of the glove with his teeth.
“You may loosen up a little more if you perhaps consider who might you dance for? Yourself? An audience? A certain someone?” Lotor asked before heading over to assist Coran with his fan.
Who might he dance for?
As Keith grasped the middle finger of the glove and pulled, he glanced up into the mirror. He had intended to watch Ezor to follow on with the next step, however his gaze locked with Lance’s as the glove slipped off. Keith arched his back as he brushed his hair away from his neck with his now gloveless hand, sensually reaching out and dropping the glove to the floor. He hadn’t meant to make it so seductive, honestly, it just happened.
Keith could have sworn Lance froze, eyes locked on the arch in Keith’s back and the bared expanse of skin as his shirt rode up slightly. It seemed to last only a few ticks before Lance was hastily grasping the ends of his boa and hiding his face in the feathers like Lotor had shown him earlier. After a moment, he peeked out as he rolled his shoulder forwards making the whole thing look bashful. Keeping his gaze downcast, Lance lifted his chin, his lips parted as he slowly released the boa, languidly bending over and sliding a hand up along his leg before he plopped himself down onto the chair, finally looking up to catch Keith’s eyes in the mirror.
Keith couldn’t help but stare. Lance had forgone his skinny jeans for a pair of basically booty shorts when Allura had exited the change room wearing her leather short shorts and although Keith hadn’t really paid much attention when Lance had first changed into them, he sure as hell did now. Were Lance’s legs always so long? Much to Keith’s dismay, he could not look away from Lance’s very toned, very nice ass as he reached down to his ankle.
Lance even had the audacity, as Keith’s cheeks burned hot, to give him a challenging little smirk.
Well. Two could play it that game.
Keith had his gloves and Lance had his boa and suddenly every second step became a chance to one-up the other; slow shoulder rolls with a head tilt, a toss of a head to flip hair (though Lance had trouble with that one), hands slowly sliding down chests and over thighs, parted lips and smouldering gazes. Jutted hips and arched backs, extended legs and artfully posed bodies, each action more involved, each movement more intentional. They went from awkward pauses and barely concealed blushes to outright observing, occasionally chuckling at their stupid little challenge when a glove didn’t peel off quite right or Lance received a face full of feathers.
The best thing was, everyone was in their own little world. For the most part, no one paid them any attention and so they jumped right in, exuding sensuality and owning it, playfully bantering back and forth with their expressions and movements. And when they were noticed, they received little cheers and applause because "damn, boys, work it!" It did nothing but spur them on.
It wasn’t until later, after everyone had ended the class with laughter and warm hugs, after they’d watched one of the shows, shared a few drinks and made their way home. It wasn't unil after Keith had posed in the mirror reliving the afternoon dressed in his pyjamas, fiery nails standing out against his black pants when the sound of his message tone interrupted him that he found he had an answer to Lotor’s question.
Hey - I know you were a bit worried about how today would go but... I hope you had a good time? Everyone seemed to really enjoy it!
And, uh, not to sound weird...but you were really good??
Keith's cheeks flushed at the compliment and he typed back a response.
Thanks. It doesn’t sound weird. I had fun today and...
You were really good too, Lance.
It was only then that Keith realised that Lance was someone he could dance for.
Chapter 19: Shiro's Day
Keith and Shiro get their suits fitted.
Allura takes Keith for a spin on the dance floor.
It's Shiro's party and everyone is terrified.
Hunk is the best Bro a guy could ask for.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
If I have, at any point, misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as I can.
Well this took forever and a day to wrangle and turned into a monster. If there's anything horribly wrong with the formatting, please let me know. I uploaded this late at night and in a hurry!
There's a bit where they all go exploring in a ghost house. I don't think it's very scary (because I can't handle or write horror at all!) but if that isn't your jam, search for 'After the ghost house' and go from there.
Next chapter we go back to the dancing ;)
The week between Allura’s bachelorette party and Shiro’s bachelor party was busy to say the least.
Keith had extra shifts at the florist as Ulaz was out on sick leave as well as extra practice sessions with both Lance and the whole bridal party. Somewhere amongst the petals and the music, Keith needed to find time for his final suit fitting and to catch up with Shiro and Allura. He didn’t usually like being so busy all of the time but it made the days pass quickly and Keith found that he was enjoying spending his evenings with his new friends.
He swiftly closed up the shop, giving the place one last sweep and straightening up the till on the counter before arming the security system and dashing out the door.
“Good evening,” Shiro said with a warm smile, pushing himself from the wall.
Keith shrugged as he pocketed the store keys. “It was a good day; not too busy but not too quiet either. You?”
“This term’s beginner’s class is huge,” Shiro said with a laugh. “But the pairs are even, so it works out okay. We’ll see how it goes as the term progresses.”
“The numbers usually drop a little bit, yeah?”
Shiro nodded as he followed after Keith.
“That sucks,” Keith said. He meant it too. He could understand not liking the classes but if you’ve enrolled for a term, you ought to stick it out. “You walked here?”
Shiro laughed. “I caught the bus, Keith. I knew we were heading out tonight, so I wore appropriate attire and brought along a spare helmet.”
“Safety first,” Keith smiled.
“That’s right. You’re still okay to head out for a drink after the fitting, right? Allura’s been looking forward to it all week.”
Keith zipped up his jacket and pulled on his gloves.
“Yeah. We don’t hang out enough,” Keith said before pulling his helmet on and swinging a leg over the seat on his bike.
Shiro nervously glanced at the motorcycle before taking a breath and pulling on his helmet as well. Ever since his motorcycle accident that had resulted in the loss of his right arm, he had been wary of riding them. Keith was the only person he trusted on a bike and even then it was a challenge to swing his leg over the seat and not hold Keith’s hips in a crushing grip. It had taken years to even get this far. Keith would always drive extra carefully, trying to take less busy routes and driving a little slower.
“Please drive safely...”
“I always do,” Keith shouted over the roar of the engine as he kicked it into gear.
The bridal store that Keith and Shiro had purchased their suits from wasn’t a long drive away and before Shiro’s anxiety could get the better of him, they had arrived. Keith stashed his helmet in the compartment under the seat and offered to carry Shiro’s in his back pack. Shiro handed the helmet over with a smile and headed into the shop as Keith jostled his bag around, trying to get the helmet to fit.
“Good afternoon gentlemen!” The assistant greeted them warmly, “My name is Blaytz. How can I help you today?”
“Hi there. My brother and I have an appointment for a fitting? It should be under Shirogane?”
Blaytz tapped away at the keyboard to the computer on the desk for a few moments trying to find the appointment.
“Ah, yes! Here we go, Takashi and Keith? If you’ll head on over to the lounge near the dais, I’ll fetch your suits.“
Keith took a seat on the lounge, placing his backpack and helmet on the floor beside it. Shiro stood close by, silently deciding that he’d be the first.
“Shiro, didn’t it fit perfectly when you bought it?”
“Yes...but I’m just wanting to make sure. What if I’ve put on weight?”
“The only weight you’ll be putting on is increased muscle mass. I mean, come on, lifting Allura every other day is gonna do something to you.”
Their conversation was interrupted as Blaytz returned with their suits, placing them into individual change rooms. Keith hadn’t seen them since they had first tried them on eight or so months ago and he was surprised again with the colour choices his brother and Allura had made. Shiro’s suit was a dark violet, almost black, where Keith’s was a deep red. For some unfathomable reason, Shiro and Allura had decided that the bridal party would wear suits or dresses that were the wearer’s favourite colour. Initially, Keith had been tempted to just say his favourite colour was black but when Pidge had loudly proclaimed that they’d be wearing a green suit...well, Keith couldn’t chicken out.
Shiro quickly ducked into the change room and soon returned, his jacket draped over an arm as he buttoned up the vest. He stepped onto the dais and slipped the jacket on. Blaytz gave an appreciative whistle as Shiro straightened his tie.
“Well, you couldn’t have chosen a nicer cut suit, Mr Shirogane,” Blaytz said, placing a measuring tape around his neck and picking up a small box of pins.
Shiro ducked his head at the compliment as Blaytz peered closely at the fit of the trousers and coat. He put a few pins here and there, saying that it wouldn’t hurt to let the back out just a little as Shiro was so broad in his shoulders and chest. The pants fit perfectly as they were and the vest needed to be let out just a fraction so that it would be more comfortable for Shiro to wear.
“Don’t go doing any heavy weights up to the wedding though,” Blaytz chuckled, “Else you might pop a seam on the big day!”
“I’ll try not to...”
“That means no lifts, Shiro.”
He couldn’t bring himself to tell Keith that they were planning on having a lift in the tango portion of the wedding dance and that’s why he’d been practicing them so much with Allura.
“I think that’s all for you, Mr Shirogane. Mr Kogane, if you wouldn’t mind heading into the change room? Your suit should be hanging up and waiting.”
Keith nodded and went to get changed.
As Keith exited the change room, Blaytz immediately picked up his box of pins.
“Hm! Someone’s lost a bit of weight since they first came in. Or were you between sizes?”
Keith hadn’t really noticed it but now that Blaytz had pointed it out, he supposed he had slimmed a little. Keith had always tried to make time for the gym but with work and everything else piling up, he had let his usual routine slide a little. He guessed that all of the rehearsing and the extra shifts at work were basically making up for his lack of gym time.
“I think it’s all the dance practice?”
Blaytz chucked lightly, pins held between his lips. “That’d probably do it.”
He took Keith’s jacket in first before moving on to his vest and finally his trousers. The suit only needed to be taken in a few centimetres here and there and even with the pins showing, Keith could appreciate how much better the suit fit now. It was comfortable without being baggy and accentuated his shoulders, waist and hips. He looked...good.
“Oh man, Lance is going to die when he sees you.”
Keith looked to Shiro in the mirror, an eyebrow raised as he stepped from the dais and made his way over to the change room. “What?”
Shiro scratched the back of his neck, pink dusting his cheeks at the slip up. “Ah, just that...uh...”
“I think he’ll probably die when he sees all of us in suits? Lance is a sucker for good fashion and beautiful people. You should see him when we go to competitions!”
Keith gave a non-committal shrug before pulling the curtain closed.
The drive from the bridal store to the lounge they were meeting Allura at wasn’t terribly far but the traffic was heavy and on more than one occasion, Keith pulled over for a short break to help Shiro calm down before heading off again. When they finally arrived, Keith easily found Allura’s car and pulled up along side it; there was plenty of space in front of the vehicle to park his bike. Allura stepped out and after taking one look at Shiro’s tight lipped expression once he had removed his helmet, she pulled him into a warm hug.
Keith took Shiro’s riding gear and put it into the trunk of the car. “The traffic was pretty bad today.”
“You did brilliantly, Shiro,” Allura cooed softly, peppering gentle kisses on his cheeks. “Absolutely brilliant.”
It took a few minutes but soon Shiro had calmed enough to relax in her embrace and crack a smile. “Thank you.”
“You made it all the way this time,” Keith added, clapping Shiro on the shoulder. “Just like you wanted to.”
“You had to pull over four times, Keith.”
Keith shrugged. “Yeah, but you didn’t call Allura to come and get you. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Shiro gave a bashful smile, quietly proud that he had managed to ride the whole way on the bike. “Shall we head inside?”
Keith made his way through the crowd, trying to find a free table for the three of them while Shiro and Allura made their way to the bar. He caught the eye of a couple leaving one of the lounges and quickly headed over to take their now available seat. Keith’s gaze fell to the line of patrons at the bar waiting to purchase drinks and noted that it was moving quite slowly. Smiling to himself, he took his phone out of his pocket. He wasn’t surprised to see that he had new messages. Lance texted him almost daily with something that he’d thought of or seen. After responding to Lance’s question about if he would rather live on the land, under the ocean or in the air, Keith debated with himself on if he should message Lance something else or not.
While at the fitting, Blaytz had ducked out to grab some more pins and Shiro had taken the opportunity while Keith was apparently preoccupied with his phone to pose in the mirror, suit jacket hanging over his shoulder as he flexed his bicep. Naturally Keith had seen it and had managed to, quite successfully, snap a picture. He had immediately sent it to Allura whom had promptly thanked Keith for the lovely photo and said that he really needed to show Lance some time. It hadn’t really come up in conversation before, save for that one time where Lance had teasingly asked Keith how he knew he wasn’t looking at flowers to impress a boy but it was enough of a hint for Keith to pick up on. There had been other random moments too; like Lance’s commentary on how Keith would look in a dress or how he would look in his suit at the wedding, he’d often commented on Hunk’s attractiveness and just today Shiro had said that Lance liked beautiful people. None of it had been concrete but it was enough of a suggestion for Keith to decide to run with it. He supposed that now was as good a time as any and sent the photo along with a message.
I have it on excellent authority that you’ll appreciate the eye-candy.
God it is weird referring to my brother like that. Never again.
...your information is indeed correct. I appreciate the eye candy very, very much. Like damn Shiro...hold me down with those arms.
Allura says you’re only allowed to look.
Aww that’s okay. I think I’d prefer Hunk pinning me down anyways. He’s both muscular and soft. Or maybe Allura, actually. I have seen her thighs of steel.
It’s so hard to choose!
Keith, do you have any idea how difficult it is having so many beautiful friends?
There was a pause in the messages and Keith was trying to figure out how to say that Lance didn’t have to choose without it sounding like he was suggesting something.
...sorry if I weirded you out...
You didn’t. Don’t worry. I think I weirded myself out though.
Oh good. I was freaking out a bit there.
While Keith had been messaging Lance, Shiro and Allura had been conversing quietly between themselves, flicking furtive glances Keith’s way every so often. When he finally put his phone down, Keith found Allura smiling at him warmly.
“It’s fantastic that you’re getting along with Lance,” she all but beamed. “Well, with everyone, really. The party that Lance put on last week was wonderful, wasn’t it?”
“It was a good day, yeah.”
“I admit I was a little apprehensive at first. I mean, it was the first time that everyone was going out somewhere as a group but it seemed like everyone had an enjoyable time! Especially when we were dancing...”
Allura leaned against Shiro, a hand clasped gently over his knee. She would have looked like a sweet woman in love if it weren’t for the devilish grin she was giving Keith.
“What about it?” Keith asked carefully.
“You’re quite the dancer, Keith.”
He swallowed nervously. God, he hoped she wasn’t going to tell Shiro about his dancing in great detail while he was there. Keith had no doubt that Allura would have regaled the stories of how he had peeled off his elbow length gloves with his teeth while staring at Lance in the mirror, or how he gave Pidge a cheeky wink as he flipped his hair. It was one thing to be doing it in the moment but another to be thinking about it the next day and being absolutely mortified that he had done some of those things in front of his friends with the scarcely hidden intention of trying to out do Lance.
Allura leaned into Shiro, giving him a gentle kiss on the lips. “Sorry, love, but might I have a different dance partner this evening?”
“We can dance later,” Shiro said as reached up and brushed Allura’s hair over her shoulder with a kind smile.
Allura chuckled and Keith gave a halfhearted eye roll which was interrupted when Allura stood and reached a hand out to him. “Might I have the pleasure of this dance, Keith?”
Dumbfoundedly, Keith stared up at Allura.
“Don’t keep the lady waiting, Keith.”
With a laugh, Allura took Keith’s hands in her own and pulled him up on his feet. “Come on, Keith. I think it’s time you try dancing in a proper crowd.”
Keith had enough time to cast one pleading look over his shoulder before Allura dragged him to the dance floor.
Shiro simply lifted his glass in Keith’s direction in a silent, almost sympathetic salute.
It was early. Like, ass-crack-o’clock early and Keith revved the engine on his motorbike as the lights changed from red to green. Today was Shiro’s bachelor party and Keith was enroute to the airport to collect a very important guest.
Pidge had desperately wanted to join Keith but considering it was illegal to have three people ride on a motorbike, they begrudgingly said that they would wait at home. Pidge’s older brother Matt had been Shiro’s best friend since forever and they had been attending the same college, both enrolled in the astro exploration course right up until Shiro’s accident. Despite Shiro no longer being able to attend the Garrison, he and Matt remained in contact even though the distance made it difficult to see one another. As a recent graduate, Matt was spending most of his time training and preparing for an upcoming mission and it had been close to a year since he’d been able to have any time off. Even now it was difficult but a weekend trip wasn’t completely impossible and so Matt had made the most of the opportunity, taking the weekend to attend Shiro’s bachelor party. He couldn’t be there for the wedding, so celebrating Shiro’s last few weeks as a single man was the least he could do.
Matt had pulled Keith into a half hug, slinging an arm over his shoulder in greeting.
“Keith! It’s been too long!”
“It’s good to see you Matt. Ready to head off?”
“Yeah,” Matt said, adjusting his backpack. “I only have carry on, so we’re good to go.”
“Shiro is going to be beside himself when he sees you.”
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it but I’m glad I decided to. Now, where’s the car?”
Keith grinned and lifted his helmet. “Did you forget that I don’t drive a car?”
“Ruggle,” Matt muttered.
Pidge heard the engine of Keith’s bike well before he pulled up into the drive way and had raced down the stairs to meet them in the street. Matt had barely staggered off of the motorbike before Pidge practically crash tackled their brother, wrapping him tightly in their arms.
“Oh, it’s so good to see you, Pidge!” He pulled them into a hug, lifting them off the ground as he made a little twirl.
“You’re not going to have much time to get ready if you want to have a bit of a nap before we head out. Hunk will be here with the car at around eleven because he’s helping us with the groceries for tonight.”
“And I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”
“Leave the coffee to us,” Pidge said with a smile as they tossed Matt the keys to their apartment. “Head on upstairs and shower or whatever.”
Hunk arrived exactly on time and Matt had grumbled something about “five more minutes, Mom,” when Pidge tried to shake him awake. They left Matt as he was, leaving a hastily scribbled note on the table before heading out. They ran around the supermarket like firecrackers, picking up snacks and drinks.
When they returned, Pidge cajoled Matt out of bed with a large cup of black coffee and a cronut as Keith and Hunk prepared some of the food for later, cooking up a storm. Matt too had helped with the preparations, contributing by helping Keith in the kitchen once he was coherent enough to stir sauces and roll sushi; a skill that Shiro had taught him over the years.
Keith had planned for an early afternoon of archery tag followed by an early dinner (or exceptionally late lunch depending on your view). Afterwards, they would make their way to the haunted house for an entertaining evening of ghosts and ghouls. Shiro and Matt would be spending the night at Keith’s apartment, but it was an open invitation if anyone else wanted to tag along. On paper it might not have sounded all that exciting but Keith was certain that Shiro would have a good time spending the night with his friends and that was the main point of the whole thing.
At around one thirty, Matt popped into the kitchen, a grin on his face. “Hey, it’s time to go.”
“Thanks, Matt.” Keith said, quickly putting the few dirty dishes into the sink. “Pidge, Hunk, you guys ready?”
Pidge gave an excited ‘whoop!’.“I was born ready.”
Unlike Allura’s bachelorette party where Lance had told people in advance what the activities were, Keith had simply settled for giving people times and locations to be at. He had, miraculously, caught up with Shay during one of his beginner lessons and had carefully asked how she and Hunk were with ghosts. Shay had seemed positively excited, though she had added that although Hunk could scare fairly easily, he would probably join in with the group and enjoy himself. Keith, Hunk, Matt and Pidge were the first to arrive at the archery tag place. Lance, Coran and Shay were carpooling. Shay had decided to drive just in case the boys decided to stay the night. Slav and Sven would be picking up Shiro to ensure that he would arrive last.
They hadn’t been waiting all that long before Shay’s small golden hatchback rolled into the carpark. They gave a wave as the group made their way over.
“Hi, guys. I’m glad you could make it.”
“It’s no problem at all, Keith!” Coran exclaimed, twirling his moustache. “It’s Shiro’s second biggest day after all!”
Shay nodded. “I wouldn’t miss it.”
“What are we even doing at the park?” Lance asked, looking around for some hint.
Keith grinned. “You’ll find out when Shiro arrives.”
Lance had been about to groan and complain when a familiar mop of unruly brown hair caught his eye.
“Holy shit! Matt!?”
Matt gave a bright smile and raised his hand in greeting. “The one and only.”
Suddenly everyone who attended Altea Studios had crowded around him, chattering and clapping him on the back.
“My goodness, it has been way too long since we saw you,” Shay said.
“How’s the new job treating you, space cadet?” Coran asked.
Keith gave them space to catch up. He knew that Matt didn’t get to visit very often, so it was nice that he could have a chance to see some of his good friends before heading back to the Garrison.
Before long, Keith spied Slav’s car pulling up.
“Guys! Shiro is here. And he doesn’t know that Matt is visiting...”
“What? You didn’t tell him?” Matt asked.
“And ruin the surprise?” Pidge scoffed. “No way.”
Matt hastily stepped behind Hunk and hunched down a little, completely hidden from view as Shiro, Slav and Sven made their way over. Judging from Shiro’s lack of reaction, he hadn’t noticed Matt being part of the group as they parked the car.
“Shiro, welcome!” Slav said in an accent that was completely unique to him as he spread his arms out wide, gesturing to the group, “I’m about seventy two percent certain that this is the reality where your day goes wonderfully!”
“Only seventy-two percent?” Shiro asked with a smile.
“Well, I was doing the calculations in my head and it was at a ninety seven percent chance that today will be perfect but we got stopped at that red light and saw a cat in the tree on the way in. So that dropped the rating significantly.”
Keith grinned. “I don’t know, Slav. I think today your calculations are a bit off. Anyhow, before we do introductions, I have a present for you, Shiro. Close your eyes.”
Shiro looked sceptically at everyone, slowly allowing his gaze to sweep over them. He tried to discern guilty smiles or side glances but no one was giving anything away. With a sigh and a good natured smile, Shiro gently closed his eyes.
Slav held up a hand in front of his face.
“Slav, I can’t tell how many fingers you’re holding up.”
The group parted and shoved Matt forward. He stumbled, unsteady on his feet, reaching a hand out to steady himself on Shiro’s shoulder. Shiro flinched at the sudden, unexpected contact and his hands hovered awkwardly in the air, unsure of if he should help steady the person or not. Matt turned and shot Pidge a glare. They gave him a thumbs up while they recorded on their phone as he turned to face Shiro.
“You can open your eyes now.”
Shiro wouldn’t ever in a million years admit to his reaction that day. Even when he eventually discovered that Pidge had video evidence, he refused to admit it. A look of confusion flitted across his face before his eyes widened into full blown surprise. It didn’t last long before the world’s biggest and brightest smile graced his features as he reached out, pulling Matt into a bone-crushing hug as tears welled up in his eyes eventually spilling over his cheeks.
“Oh my God, Matt!”
Matt laughed, the sound a little wobbly as he uselessly fought back tears, wrapping his arms around Shiro just as tightly, glad that his f ace was turned away from the camera. Pidge likely wouldn’t tease him too much about crying but he wasn’t about to give them blackmail material. A loud sniffle from the group caught their attention and they pulled apart, Shiro grasping Matt’s shoulders lightly before letting him go.
“Dude, are you crying?” Hunk asked.
Lance quickly rubbed at his eyes. “No!” he said indignantly. “There’s...there’s just a lot of pollen around, that’s all."
“It’s been years since I saw you,” Shiro said with a soft smile. “I’ve really missed you, you know?”
Matt laughed shakily, not expecting his reunion with his friend to feel so intense. “I missed you too, Shiro.”
“Oh...oh man...” Hunk’s voice cracked. “There really is a lot of pollen around, isn’t there?”
“It’s terrible!” Coran all but wailed.
After another quick hug, Shiro addressed Keith.
“So...what are we doing here?”
“If you’ll follow me, I’ll take us to our first activity for the day.” Keith began the introductions as he lead them through the park.
The archery tag had been set up in a large, clear area of the park with various obstacles set up inside of the roped-off area. There were a team of three people who were finishing the set up, laying out bows and quivers and rolling a drum to act as a vantage point into place. Keith strode towards the two with bows, the rest of the group following uncertainly behind.
“Hello everyone!” the leader announced when his colleagues joined him. “I’m Gyrgan and these are my colleagues Olia and Trigel. Thank you for letting us help you celebrate Shiro’s bachelor party! Now, before we kick things off...we have a little something for the groom to be.”
Somewhat nervously, Shiro moved froward as Gyrgan presented him with a white veiled headband and a bright pink sash that said “GROOM-TO-BE” on the front and “SORRY I’M TAKEN” on the back.
“And something for the best man, too.”
Keith looked surprised as Trigel gave him a sparkly pink tutu and a crown that had “Best Man” emblazoned on it in little blue crystals. Pidge cackled as Keith stepped into the tutu and, despite the heat of his cheeks, he propped his hands on his hips, tilted his head and posed for the photo they were taking. Shiro pulled Keith into a one armed hug, his grin wide as a gentle breeze flicked the veil into Keith’s face right as Pidge took a photo. After a few more shots, Gyrgan, Olia and Trigel hefted bows and quivers with a smile.
“Right, everyone, there’ll be two teams as follows. Hunk, Matt, Sven, Lance and Shiro are team A and Keith, Slav, Pidge, Coran and Shay are team B.”
“In your face, team A!” Lance cheered.
“Please,” Keith drawled.
“Sibling rivalry,” Matt added, slinging a quiver across his back.
“May the strongest one win,” Pidge said, a glint in their eye.
Shiro looked worriedly across the two teams, noticing just how they were split. Well, if anything, the day was going to be one hell of a competition.
“And now,” Olia announced, “Let the archery tag commence!”
After everyone had their five minute lesson on how to draw and loose their bows and gave everyone thirty seconds to race around the ‘arena’ to find a defensive position, it was mayhem. As soon as Gyrgan yelled out ‘Loose!’ arrows were flying every-which-way as the archers tried to hit their chosen targets. They started out with a basic game of tag to let everyone get their bearings and although Keith had thought that the game would be enjoyable, he hadn’t envisioned the absolute mayhem and giggles and laughter and overly dramatic ‘deaths’ that played out.
Despite Pidge’s attempt to score the first hit of the day by taking out their brother, it went to Shiro. He had taken the opportunity while Pidge was aiming at Matt to take a shot and it had gone perfectly. Pidge had let out a startled squawk, turning and giving Shiro a look of utter betrayal before stomping off the field to the side. As they walked off, Matt came over and gave Shiro’s shoulder a squeeze.
“I owe you one,” Matt said gravely.
“I expect you to take an arrow for me when they go for the revenge hit,” Shiro replied solemnly.
Sven went down with a surprised shout to Keith’s arrow and Matt had taken a hit from Shay as he dived out of the way of an arrow from Keith. The whole thing was ridiculous; Matt had dived for the grass, rolled over his shoulder and sprung up to his feet only to be greeted with a smack on the behind with one of Shay’s arrows. Next was Hunk, taken down by a well-aimed arrow fired by Coran and Coran went down to one of Shiro’s purple arrows. Eventually, Shiro was taken out by Slav. As Shiro dramatically fell to his knees, Lance had fired an arrow right back with a shout of “For Shiro!” and that was the end of Slav for that round. Keith had been too busy focusing on trying to nudge Shay out of her corner that he had spied Lance’s arrow far too late and caught the shot square in the chest. It was a face off between Shay and Lance and it played out like a Western movie. They were both down to one arrow each when Lance called for a truce, holding his bow out in one hand as a gesture of peace. Shay carefully came out of her hiding position, her bow held out as well.
“Let’s have a shoot out to see who wins!”
Shay smiled sweetly. “Okay!”
They stood back to back and Trigel counted out the twenty paces as they separated. Lance and Shay slowly turned to face one another, their arrows notched and pointing towards the ground as they stared one another down. Trigel shouted “Fire!” and the pair whipped their bows up and loosed their arrows almost in unison. Lance’s arrow whizzed past as Shay’s thudded into Lance’s shoulder. He clutched at the spot for dramatic effect as he dropped of his bow and fell to his knees.
“...a worthy opponent...” Lance uttered as he fell face first onto the ground.
Shay cheered, lifting her bow into the air in victory. Hunk raced over, giving her a high five as the rest of Team A crowded around Lance in a show of solidarity.
“Sorry, Lance,” Hunk said as he rejoined his team.
Lance laughed. “Nah, it’s all good, man. That was a pretty awesome shot.”
While the players collected their arrows from the field, Trigel, Gyrgan and Olia set up for the next game.
They played a few different games throughout the day, the favourite being capture the flag and dodge arrow. It became apparent that Pidge’s sole focus for the day was to get at least one revenge shot on Shiro, a fact that Matt whole heartedly exploited whenever he could. In fact, most people seemed to have it out for Shiro, being the groom and all. After three rounds of dodge arrow, it was discovered that Keith’s aim was beyond atrocious and anyone who managed to get hit by him was deemed the worst player of the round. Keith still had fun though. Being one of the only people who could actively dodge more than two arrows in succession did have its advantages and there was nothing better to doge an arrow only to have it hit someone else. Hunk would apologise every time he shot someone who hadn’t shot him in a previous round. Coran tried wholeheartedly but his aim was almost as bad as Keith’s. He settled for shouting out warnings to his teammates and acting as support instead. After Shiro had taken the veil off, Sven was shot in place of him far too many times to count because at a glance they looked extremely similar and in the middle of a fast-paced shoot-out, no one was going to take the extra time to be certain of who they were aiming at. Shiro was politely asked to put the veil back on after two rounds. Slav and Shay eventually teamed up with Slav pointing out the best available shots for Shay’s vantage points. The most surprising person of the day was Lance. He would overly dramatise his deaths and laugh and call out teasing jeers with the rest of his team, but he had sight like a hawk and deadly accurate aim. No arrow that Lance shot was wasted and halfway through the fourth game he had taken to calling himself Sharpshooter.
At the end of the day, when everyone’s cheeks and stomachs hurt from too much laughter and their clothes covered in coloured powder, Gyrgan lined everyone up to announce the awards. Trigel held a handful of cheap plastic medals and Olia held small certificates to commemorate their win.
“First Kill goes to Shiro,” Gyrgan announced.
Shrio made his way over to Trigel and Olia to collect his award as Gyrgan continued.
“Last Survivor is awarded to Shay, for obvious reasons. One-Target-Mind goes to Pidge, again for obvious reasons. Creative Shooter goes to Slav for that one you somehow managed to shoot through the tunnel.”
“There was a 82% chance it would work,” Slav proclaimed as he took his award.
“Sven gets the Double Hit award for the shot that hit Keith, ricocheted off of him and hit Lance as well. Cheerleader goes to Hunk for congratulating nearly everyone on their awesome shots. Coran is awarded with Operations Master for supporting the team in calling out available shots. Matt receives the Bravery Award for taking three shots for Shiro. Lance gets Accuracy Ace because I’m pretty sure he had something like a 90% hit rate. Lastly, Keith is awarded the Dodge Demon award because I don’t think we’ve ever seen someone twist, roll, dodge and catch so many arrows despite being the worst aim in the group.”
They each slipped their medals over their heads and after handing back the bows and arrows, shook the hands of the archery tag group.
“Thanks so much for a great day,” Keith said with a grin.
“We’re glad you had a great time. Thanks for letting us help you all celebrate,” Olia replied.
“Enjoy the rest of your day, Shiro and all the best for the wedding,” Gyrgan said with a wave before the group headed back to the cars.
“Where to next, Best Man?” Hunk asked when they’d arrived back at the carpark.
“I’ve made a reservation for us all at a teppanyaki place in the city before we head off to the next location.”
Keith didn’t see the bone crushing hug coming as Hunk pulled him close.
“I haven’t gone to teppanyaki in ages,” Hunk said happily.
“Uhh...” Keith awkwardly patted him on the back.
“Dude, you’re gonna break him.”
Hunk let go with a laugh and clapped Keith on the shoulders. “Sorry, man.”
“It’s the one on the main road in the city, yes?” Slav asked as Sven, Shiro and Matt headed towards his car.
“Yeah. We’ll see you there soon.”
Dinner was an interesting affair and Keith was fairly sure that half of the guests ended up with most of their dinner on the table or on themselves instead of in the bowls they were meant to catch food with. Shiro sat between Slav and Matt and spent a majority of the meal talking with his old friends from the Garrison; it had been years since he’d seen them and they had lots to catch up on. Hunk and Coran were watching the chef with rapt attention, carefully observing the way he expertly used the utensils as though they were an extension of his hands. Shay was a little more reserved with newcomers in the group but Lance and Pidge were chattering animatedly involving her in their conversations. Sometimes Lance would bring Keith into the conversation or he’d share a small smile with Shiro whose grin hadn’t left his face all afternoon. For the most part, Keith found himself sitting quietly and listening which ended up being a good thing because it meant that he noticed when Pidge was about to let slip what the final activity for the day was. Unfortunately, with the grill in the middle, Keith couldn’t give them a swift kick. Without really thinking, Keith knocked heavily into Lance, unbalancing him and knocking him into Pidge, almost like playing Corners in the back seat of the school bus.
“Lance, what the hell!?”
“Keith, what the quiznak!?”
Keith narrowed his gaze and leaned forward, pinning Pidge with his stare.
“No spoilers, Pidge.”
“Seriously, we’re heading off in ten minutes anyway and it’ll suck for everyone if you spoil the surprise.”
“But I’ve been so good!”
“And everyone really appreciates that, Pidge. So don’t go spoiling it, okay?”
To Pidge, the ten minutes it took to finish up at the restaurant and the thirty minutes to drive to the next location felt like eternal torture. They bounced in the back seat, biting their lip to try and contain their sheer excitement for what the evening held in store. They pressed their face against the window as Hunk pulled up into the parking lot of an old hotel. Keith reassured him that this was the place and the three stepped out of the car before making their way up to the entry.
Pidge practically vibrated in anticipation, tugging at Keith’s arm wondering why it was taking the others so long to arrive. Thankfully, Pidge didn’t have to wait all that long and looks of confusion were shared by everyone as they approached the huge wooden doors that were adorned with long brass handles. Keith was just about to announce where they were when the door slowly pulled open, creaking loudly, the sound echoing in the dark. The whole group jumped and watched as the door opened further, expecting a bellhop or concierge to greet them, but no one was there.
Pidge practically squealed in delight and grabbed Matt and Keith by the hand and dragged them inside.
“C’mon, everyone! We’re going ghost hunting!”
The crossed the threshold, the entryway to the lobby completely deserted.
“Who you gonna call?” Lance whispered taking a step closer to his best friend.
“Hopefully not me if there are actual ghosts,” Hunk replied, gripping Shay’s hand tightly as he moved to the middle of the group. It was safer there. Nothing could get him if he was in the middle and the rest of the party would get picked off first. Shay rubbed gentle circles over the top of Hunk’s palm.
The group made their way to the reception area where there were a few small groups and couples waiting to head on into the hotel.
“Okay, now I know the invite said this part was optional but...now that we’re here. We’re doing a ghost tour. If anyone has decided they really don’t want to come in, there’s a cafe that you can wait up for us in if you like.”
Pidge adjusted their glasses. “We won’t make fun of anyone who doesn’t come in, because that’s not cool.”
“I’m in,” Matt said with a grin. “Ghosts could be fun.”
“Me too,” added Shiro and Slav.
“Sounds interesting,” Coran said. “You know, my great great Grandad lived in a haunted house. Said the bathtub would always fill up just when he was thinking about having a shower.”
“I think it’ll be exciting,” Shay said with a smile.
“Hunk? Did you wanna sit out? I’ll keep you company if you don’t wanna be alone,” Lance said, giving Hunk’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.
Whilst Lance’s concern was genuine, Hunk swallowed, gripped Shay’s hand and mustered up the courage to give Lance a smirk.
“Are you scared, Lancey Lance?”
Lance scoffed. “No! I was just being a good friend, but jeeze! Just wait until something scares the pants off you and you come crying for me!”
“Hunk, you’re sure you’re okay to come in?” Shiro asked.
“Well, if everyone’s sure...” Keith made his way up to one of the guest service agents, the rest of the group in tow.
“Welcome!” she said brightly in a somewhat deep, booming voice. “Do you have a reservation?”
“Yes, it should be under Shirogane.”
The woman typed away on her computer for a moment. “Party of ten?”
“Excellent. Let me get you the necessities and I’ll walk you through the safety instructions.”
In the distance, they could hear a cacophony of muffled screams.
Armed with paper maps, torches with enough battery to last anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour and walkie talkies so they could communicate if they wanted to split into smaller teams, the group left the warmly lit lobby and made their way towards the elevators that would take them up to the first floor.
Keith brought up the rear whilst Sven, Hunk, Shay, Lance and Coran made up the middle. The leaders were Slav, Matt, Pidge and Shiro. In the soft light from the lobby as they waited for the elevator to arrive, the group unanimously decided to only use one torch at the front, one in the middle and one in the rear to save power. Hunk had made an excellent point saying that they didn’t know how long they’d be in here and that it would suck Juniberries if all the torches lucked out at thirty minutes. The elevator arrived with a cheery ‘ding!’ and the group squeezed into the car. There was an awkward pause as the doors took forever to close after Lance pressed the button. The lights flickered as the elevator slowly moved, rocking and shuddering every so often.
“Um...is...is it meant to do that?” Hunk asked in a timid voice.
“I don’t think so,” Shiro replied, casting a wary glance towards the doors as the elevator shuddered again.
Even Slav had decided that it wouldn’t do to mention what the chances were of it being on purpose.
Eventually the elevator reached the designated floor that began their haunted hotel expedition. Keith pressed himself up against the side of the car and held his hand in front of the door to allow the group to file out. Despite knowing that everything was ‘fake’ Slav, Shiro, Matt and Pidge cautiously peered out into the hall as Matt flicked his torch on.
“Coast is clear,” he whispered. “I mean, come on out guys,” he said a little louder, more at his normal level. It didn’t quell the trembling of his heart and the way his palms felt sweaty.
Pidge practically waltzed past him with a cheeky grin. “What are you scared, Matt?”
“No!” He scoffed.
Coran leapt out of the elevator with a loud ‘Hiyah!’ as he flicked the torch on, flashing it right then left before motioning for Sven, Shay, Hunk and Lance to follow him out. Keith allowed himself a slight shake of his head at Coran’s antics, though he was pleased that everyone seemed to be getting into the theme of the evening. He flicked his torch on as the doors slid closed and the group was plunged into a heavy darkness that was only broken by three small beams of light.
They had been exploring the dark, creepy first floor without incident for just long enough to lull everyone into feeling comfortable when Hunk let out a shout of surprise. He had immediately turned to Lance, burying his face in his best friend’s shoulder whilst his hand gripped Shay’s in a vice-like grip. They both uttered soothing words, constantly checking in to see if Hunk was okay. He nodded, slowly lifting his head.
“Y-yeah. Th-this is actually fun with everyone, even though I’m like super scared?”
Shiro had pushed his way to the middle of the group, taking Coran’s torch for the moment. “Hunk? What did you see?”
Everyone was on edge as he pointed to the bedroom they just passed.
“The curtain was moving.”
“I’m sure it was just the wind,” Pidge said confidently.
Shiro glanced over his shoulder at them. “There’s no breeze, Pidge.”
“W-well, duh. We’re out in the hall and the curtain is in the bedroom, of course we wouldn’t feel a slight breeze out here.”
In the dim light of the three torches that were now pointed in the direction of the bedroom, the group could see him nod.
Shiro made his way to Keith and took the torch from his brother as the pair carefully stepped to the door. Steeling himself, Keith reached out and gently placed his hand on the door to push it open as Shiro swept the light from the torch through the room.
Nothing was out of place. The bed was perfectly made and the room was spotless. Nothing stirred, not even the hair that fell around Keith’s face. Neither of the two men said anything as the curtain softly wavered just as the light fell away. Keith’s hand shot out, clutching at Shiro’s arm as they both slowly, silently stepped back from the room. As they backed out, they looked for signs of a fan or an open window, even a member of staff hiding somewhere making the curtain move. They couldn’t spot anything.
“Shiro?” Sven asked.
“Go,” Keith whispered, ushering the group forwards as Shiro handed back the torch and made his way to the front. “Go!”
None of them needed to be told a third time and they briskly walked (“No running in the hotel!” Zethrid had said) to the end of the hall and took the fire safety stairs two at a time up to the next floor. After they’d made it up stairs and stopped to catch their breath, half of the group burst out into laughter.
“Good one, guys!” Lance chuckled, practically slapping his knee as he leaned against Hunk. “You really had us going there.”
“I bet they had it planned out from the start,” Matt said.
“When would we have had the chance?” Shiro asked.
“You saw a chance and took it,” Slave said.
“Why would I joke about something scary?!” Hunk asked, incredulous.
Sven looked conflicted and didn’t say anything on the matter.
“C’mon, let’s find us some ghosts,” Pidge said, adjusting their glasses and taking the torch from Matt.
The next floor was mostly bedrooms again but there was a newer section designated for business, with a few desktops, a projector and a few teleconferencing phones. It clashed horribly with the old look of the rest of the building, but the hotel had been furnished for modern times before it fell into disuse. Hunk pointedly kept his gaze straight ahead and had now taken to holding both Shay and Lance’s hands as the group progressed through the hall. To get through the next floor they had to go through the Business Center and he had a bad feeling about it. He squeezed Lance had Shay’s hands tight as they drew closer.
“Hunk, you’re gonna break my fingers,” Lance whispered.
“Hold Keith’s hand, he’s probably crazy strong.”
“I need my fingers for work, Lance. I can’t have Hunk crushing them.”
Lance sighed and lifted Hunk’s arm to loop through his. “My hand needs a break, big guy. Hold my arm instead.”
No sooner than Hunk had gently curled his hand around Lance’s bicep did all of the teleconferencing phones ring at once and the projector flickered to life.
The entire group froze. Half of them stared at the phones and the others stared transfixed at the old image that was displayed choppily on the projector. It almost seemed like a video; the footage was still but there was a definite glitch every seven seconds or so. The projection didn’t have any sound, but the phones kept ringing and ringing and ringing. It echoed throughout the room, the sound seeming ten times louder in the now brightly lit room. Pidge caught the attention of Sven and Coran and nodded to the telephones. With their lips pressed into a tight line, they pressed a single finger to the lips - the almost universal gesture for silence - and placed their hand on the phone. Sven and Coran did the same and they picked up the phones together.
The group waited with bated breath as a deafening silence fell across the room.
Pidge looked to Shiro. Coran and Sven did the same and all three shook their heads. There was nothing. Just silence on the other end of the line. After a few moments, each of them put the phone down onto the receiver.
“Well?” Slav asked.
“Silence,” Coran said, his voice wavering between terrified and awe.
“It was probably reception. It’s not hard to make a call and then not say anything.”
“But there was no noise,” Sven countered. “No sounds.”
“Sven is right. If it was reception surely we’d have heard ambient noise, even if no one was speaking. This was just...nothing.” Coran looked to the phones, half expecting them to ring again.
“Hey...isn’t that...” He peered at the recording. It had been playing on loop for a while now and something had caught his attention.
“What?” Shay asked, taking a half step towards the projector screen.
“I swear something in it moved.”
“It’s a video, Lance. Stuff moves in videos,” Pidge said dryly.
“No, no. It’s still. Look at the tree there, and the grass. It’s not moving at all. But...”
The video glitched and looped again.
“There’s something weird...”
“Let’s continue on, team. The stairs to the next floor are just through this room and past the lounges.”
The group shifted, but Lance stayed rooted to the spot. Keith, who was meant to be bringing up the rear stayed with him.
“Lance!” Hunk whisper-shouted as the rest of the group exited. “C’mon man.”
“I’ll catch up with you, dude. I have to figure this out.”
Hunk whimpered as he let Shay guide him away, softly saying that Lance would be with them sooner than he could say warm apple crumble and cream.
Keith tilted his head to the side as he observed the video with Lance.
“What do you think you saw?”
“It’s only there for like, half a second. In the bottom window of the cottage, I swear.”
It took four loops for the boys to finally see what Lance had picked up in his periphery: a young boy, no older than eight, with his head cocked at an unnatural angle, eyes wide and a terrifying grin. As the video looped once more, something passed behind them. They could feel a presence at the back of their necks, brushing up against their clothes. As soon as he felt something behind him, Lance screamed. Keith had been too frightened out to make a sound as he shoved against Lance to get him moving, but the taller of the two was too scared to move. Lance’s voice hit an impossibly high pitch as Keith darted past, gripped him by the hand and booked it out of the room as fast as he could, dragging Lance along with him. Once they made it up to level three, they leaned heavily against the wall and slid down to the floor, trying to catch their breath and calm their racing hearts.
“H-holy quiznak,” Lance muttered, clutching a hand to his chest. “Jesus, Keith, you scared the shit out of me!”
“What?! You scared the shit out of me!”
Lance squinted at Keith, barely registering that his hand was still being held. “What do you mean? I didn’t do anything!”
“You brushed your arm behind me or something. I could feel it.”
“Uh-uh, no way, dude. You brushed your arm behind me.”
“I wasn’t behind you, Lance.”
“No, you —” A loud creak, the sound of a weight settling on the wooden floorboards near by, cut Lance off. “Keith,” Lance hissed.
Keith shifted closer to Lance and away from the sound as he shone the torch down the hall.
“Guys?” Keith asked, raising his voice and willing it to stay strong and even.
Lance leaned against Keith, whispering in his ear as the floor creaked again. “Aren’t they on this floor?”
“I don’t see their torches...”
“Maybe they’re screwing around with us?”
Wordlessly, Keith pulled the walkie-talkie from his belt.
“Keith? Where are you!?” Pidge’s voice came over the radio, crackled and distorted.
“We just made it up to the third floor. Where are you guys? Didn’t you wait for us here?”
The radio was silent for a while and Keith had thought that maybe it had failed.
“We had to hurry to level four. We thought you were right behind us.”
Lance snatched the radio from Keith. “Ha ha, very funny, Pidge.”
“No, I’m serious. There was something there when we came up the stairs so we just ran to the next level. Slav and Coran could feel breath on their necks or something, and we heard footsteps, but couldn’t see anyone.”
“Yeah, yeah. Wait there for us.” Lance handed the walkie-talkie to Keith before standing, automatically moving to brush dust from his jeans. “What do you think?”
“I doubt there’s anything here, but we should probably try catching up to the others. Floorboards creak all the time...”
Lance nodded and fell in step beside Keith. The pair walked perhaps a little too close together, their shoulders touching as they cautiously made their way along the hall, pointedly ignoring the bedrooms as they passed. They froze for a split second when a door swung open and the floor creaked loudly. Neither was sure who grabbed the others’ hand first as Lance shrieked and backed up against the wall, using Keith as a human shield.
Despite being practically deafened momentarily by Lance’s shout, Keith could just hear Pidge’s snickering. He sighed, allowing his weight to rest against Lance’s for a moment before patting Lance on the arm, trying to get him to loosen his grip. He shone the light on Pidge as they emerged from the bedroom. Lance muttered something under his breath in heated Spanish, his grip tightening on Keith before he dropped his arm when he realised what had happened.
“Oh my God, Pidge! You...you...you quiznaking demon!”
The whole group filed out of the room and half of them had the decency to look sheepish.
“As much as I’d like to take the credit, it wasn’t my idea,” Pidge admitted.
“Hellooo~” Hunk said in a sing-songy voice. “Yeah, that was me. Sorry, my bad dude.”
“Hunk! I trusted you!”
“I’ll make it up to you.”
“All right, come on everyone. We’ve got two floors to go, let’s get a move on.”
As the group started moving, Lance dramatically announced that he was Done with Hunk for today and that he’d just have to snuggle up to Shay for the rest of the scary tour. He joined Keith at the back of the group, feeling a sense of camaraderie after their earlier scares. They made it through the rest of the third floor without any further incident, though both Keith and Lance were quite on edge. On the fourth floor, Matt had suddenly flinched, launching himself up onto Shiro’s shoulders with a startled yelp. Everyone else scattered, dropping to the floor or hastily walking ahead. Keith had stood his ground, Lance clinging tightly to his hand. He shone the torch in a small mirror that was hanging on the wall and Matt awkwardly laughed, apologising to Shiro as he clambered down. Near the end of the hall, they passed through a cold spot and they’d stuck around waiting for Pidge to try and find the source of the sudden temperature drop. Begrudgingly, the admitted that they couldn’t find any discernible reason for the cold spot; there were no air conditioning vents or fans that they could find.The group moved on to the fifth and final floor. In the distance they could see it, a small, dim light signalling the functioning elevator that would take them down to the lobby. Sven, Hunk and Matt went to make a break for it; one last ditch attempt to just race past all of the creepy scary things and get to the end. They huddled together, whispering about the pros and cons of making a mad dash for the exit. While the group discussed, Keith observed his surroundings. The hall was emptier than the others, there were less rooms, though there were a few more cabinets and furnishings. Something had Keith wary though as he gazed around the hall. He felt as though he was being watched. He shifted closer to Lance without really noticing.
“Okay team. When I say go, we power walk to the exit.”
“Power walk?” Sven asked.
Shiro shrugged. “We’re not allowed to run, so just walk as fast as you can. ”
Sven nodded in understanding and the group readied themselves.
As the group moved as one, Keith shot a hand out, halting Lance in place.
“Just wait. We’re going to just slowly walk our way up there.”
“Just a feeling.”
Keith was glad he had listened to his intuition. Shiro and the others made it to the elevator without any incident but it was painful seeing them huddle in the dim light, eyes darting left and right as they looked for anything out of the ordinary. Being so far from the bulk of the group meant that both Keith and Lance could easily see the two hands reaching out from a pair of picture frames hanging on the wall. It also meant that they could easily tell that none of them were aware of the hands reaching out. Keith hooked his arm around Lance’s pulling the taller of the two closer and pointing out the hands just in case he hadn’t noticed them. Lance huddled closer in response, though whether it was from fright or the anticipation of what would undoubtedly unfold, Keith wasn’t sure.
It was a glorious sight to behold. The whole thing only took perhaps a minute to happen but it was almost like Keith was watching in slow motion. One of the hands reached out and patted Slav’s shoulder as the other brushed through Shay’s hair. Slav wailed as he leapt into Shiro’s arms and Shay immediately pushed Hunk behind her, taking up a protective stance as the whole group shuffled across the hall, backs pressed up against the elevator doors. Slav was babbling about different realities and that of course this was the one where they all died at Shiro’s party. Shiro looked about ready to hoist Slav over his shoulder and run for the nearest exit, which looked to be a window. Matt and Pidge were pressed up against the elevator, both trying to mash the button has hard and fast as they could. Hunk, surprisingly, was scolding the disembodied hands for scaring everyone. Hunk was in mid-sentence when the elevator doors opened. The whole group turned to clamber inside only to have Pidge cry out and spring backwards, pointing to a moaning pile on the floor. The group scattered, over half of them hastily joining Lance and Keith a little way down the hall, the others madly trying to get the elevator doors to close. Shiro was basically punching the button to try and hurry it up.
As Keith and Lance, with the others behind them, arrived at the elevators, the second one opened. No one dared look inside. With a cheesy grin and some finger guns, Lance peered inside.
“Coast’s clear!” Lance stepped aside to let the others in. Lance didn’t think he’d seen any of them look so happy to see an empty elevator.
One the way down, as their adrenaline leveled and their hearts stopped racing, the first giggle was heard. Keith couldn’t tell who it was, but after that first giggle, came another...then another...until the entire group of friends were bent over double, clutching their stomachs, or covering their faces as they laughed and laughed.
After the ghost house, Sven and Slav congratulated Shiro on his upcoming wedding and bid the group goodnight. When they had arrived back at Keith’s place, Shay had stayed for a couple of hours to enjoy some dumplings and sushi before heading home, saying that she had to open the bakery in the morning. Hunk had promised that he wouldn’t get in to work too late and had walked her out to the car. When he returned, Keith ventured into the kitchen to make popcorn and mocktails for everyone before settling in for a night of hanging out with Shiro and his friends.
As promised during the ghost tour a few days ago, Hunk was making up for his little prank on Lance. The kitchen was a mess: dirty dishes filled the sink and various ingredients were scattered about the countertop while Lance watched Hunk prepare a traditional Samoan dessert that he sometimes liked to spoil his best friend with. It had been their favourite treat as children and Hunk’s parents would often make fa’ausi for them after school. Lance was comfortably dressed in his favourite soft cotton pyjamas and blue lion slippers as he leaned over the bench, watching Hunk prepare the sweet caramel-like fa’ausi sauce.
“Oh man, it’s been forever since you made this, Hunk!” Lance exclaimed.
Hunk gave Lance a smile. “Yeah. I thought it would be a good way to apologise for the other day.”
“Aww, Hunk, you know I wasn’t seriously mad, right?”
“Still. We can also celebrate this momentous occasion; its been forever since we’ve had a sleep over. Slumber party? What do you call it when two grown men go to someone’s house for a sleep over anyway?”
Lance shrugged. “Staying over? A boy’s night in?”
Hunk shrugged too, pausing momentarily as he stirred the caramel. “Whatever its called, we don’t do it often enough.”
“Well, yeah, but we’re both pretty busy. I mean, you have those early starts at the bakery and I have class and you’re living with Shay now too. It’s a bit tricky to juggle everyone’s schedules.”
Hunk agreed with a quiet hum, giving the sauce one last stir. “You have the fa’apapa ready?”
“Yessss!” Lance said, reaching for the dish that was filled with the neatly cubed coconut bread. “Sauce me!”
Hunk chuckled as he poured the golden caramel over the bread, Lance bouncing on the balls of his feet excitedly.
“Now we have to wait.”
“I know, I know. In the mean time, as a thank you for making the greatest dessert, I could give you a back rub?”
Hunk brightened. “Oh, man! That would be the best!”
Hunk washed his hands, tidying up the bench a little bit before heading over to the lounge. He pulled up one of the foot rests and sat down on it, leaving the lounge for Lance to sit on. As part of his university degree, Lance had covered a topic on massage to be used as a tool for exercise physiology. Hunk had instantly agreed to be Lance’s practice partner. At first it hadn’t been all that great but like with most things, Lance’s practice had paid off and now Hunk was lucky enough to get free massages every so often.
Lance plopped down on the lounge behind Hunk and set a bottle of moisturiser on the ground beside him.
“Now that I’m actually looking, it’s neck and shoulders for you. I noticed you’re all hunched up so, shirt off, buddy.”
“Yeah...” Hunk slipped his shirt over his head and folded it neatly. “I think I did something the other day when I almost dropped a tray of scones in the bakery.”
“Does anywhere hurt?”
Hunk tapped the expanse of muscle on the top of his shoulder that stretched to his neck. “Along here feels really tight.”
Lance nodded once, slathered on the moisturiser and set to work, starting with Hunk’s arms and hands and working his way up to his neck and shoulders.
The pair sat in companionable silence. While both Hunk and Lance could talk the ear off of a person, there were times when they were content to enjoy some quiet. They had been friends for so long that the silence wasn’t awkward; rather it was more of a comforting embrace while they both mulled things over in their minds.
“Can I ask you something, Hunk?” Lance asked quietly, breaking the silence as he kneaded the muscles of Hunk’s neck.
“Sure. What’s up?”
There was an extended pause while Lance tried to figure out how to start.
“You know how I like Keith...”
“Dude, I’d be the worst best friend if I didn’t notice that.” Lance squeezed Hunk’s trapezius just a touch harder than he liked. “Ah! Okay, okay!”
“... do you... do you think there’s a chance that...he maybe might like me too?” Lance’s voice was small and unsure.
Normally, Lance would go right for it. After all, typically he had nothing to lose and everything to possibly gain but, to be perfectly cliche, Keith was different. Lance enjoyed Keith’s friendship and he didn’t want to lose something good because he wanted something more. What if Keith didn’t feel the same? What would happen? How would Keith react to knowing that Lance was attracted to him? Lance wasn’t too sure about risking it.
“Well...” Hunk began, “I can really only go by what I’ve seen, which really isn’t much. You both seem to get along great now and I know you message him pretty frequently. Like, yeah, it looked like he was laying it on just as thick as you were at the party but he might have just been stepping up for the occasion? I mean, I did some pretty out there stuff as well! I think we all did and I don’t know if you can count what happened at the ghost house because we were all scared to death.”
Lance hummed thoughtfully. He had considered the same thing in his endless musings the past few weeks.
“But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like you? Maybe — and, disclaimer, I’m making things up out of nowhere here — but maybe he’s thinking the same way you are? Maybe he likes what you two have and is worried about taking that step, the same as you are right now?”
“Ugh, that doesn’t make it any easier, Hunk.”
“I know you’re worried about screwing up whatever it is you guys have at the moment but I also know that you’re worried about whatever it is that you have disappearing after the wedding too. I can’t tell you what to do but I’m here for you, man, no matter what you decide or how things go.” Although he wasn’t facing Lance, he smiled reassuringly.
The pair fell silent for a few minutes and Hunk could tell that the hour was almost up. Lance was making those slow, sweeping movements that signalled the end of a massage. He sighed softly, the tension in his neck and shoulders soothed away.
“I think...” Lance gave Hunk’s shoulder’s one last squeeze. “I think maybe I’m going to try to ask him out.”
Hunk turned in his seat and pulled Lance into a tight hug. “You go get him, tiger.”
Chapter 20: Swinging Across the Dance floor
Keith discovers something new about the wedding dance.
Lance finally teaches Keith the Jive!
The question we've all been waiting for is almost asked.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
If I have, at any point, misgendered Pidge, please let me know so I can fix it up as soon as I can.
Short update this time, folks! Life's been a bit hectic so I wanted to update something even if it was small.
After this we have one dance left to cover!
Edit: So, things have been a bit crazy recently and I had totally forgotten I uploaded this chapter and just went through my own copy making tweaks and changes (I was going to make a pretty major change too!) so...the edits on this one are minor.
Keith had resolved to do better in his dancing lessons following the bachelor party. He had been practicing on his own to try and refine the dances that he had learned so far so that he and Lance could finally move on to the jive and the rhumba.
It didn’t mean he was looking forward to it though.
Each lesson since the party had Keith nervously entering the studio, praying to anyone listening that Lance wouldn’t announce that they would be learning one of the last two dances. With the knowledge that the rest of the latin sequences of the wedding dance would be added soon, Lance had spent a few of their lessons revising the latin dances that Keith had covered already to polish them up. The tango was Keith’s strongest latin dance by far, his cha cha was coming along decently and although the paso doble was a little rough around the edges, he was progressing well. The samba was the most recent dance Keith had learned and although he was struggling to be confident with it, time was ticking and he still had two dances left to cover. Lance had seemingly given Keith a respite from learning anything new in order to spend more time on the samba but it did mean that Keith spent the entirety of their recent lessons awkwardly trying to find his rhythm. Keith had, on more than one occasion, let his frustration get the better of him, lashing out and snapping at Lance when it became too much. He hadn’t been this snappy with Lance since their first couple of interactions together. For the most part, Lance had let Keith’s frustrated comments roll off his shoulders but every so often he’d bite back. Despite Keith’s own opinions on his dancing, Lance seemed to think he was doing well, even with all the grumbling and complaining.
Wedding dance rehearsals since then had been interesting and had come with a change in dance partners. After the foxtrot came the jive and since Keith hadn’t covered that dance in his classes, he and Allura were going to be working on the tango steps instead. It was a little out of sequence but Keith was silently glad to be learning a dance he was comfortable with. At least, he thought he was going to be comfortable with it.
Allura grinned excitedly as she stepped into Keith’s embrace. She and Shiro would be switching up the leading and following but the others wouldn’t be switching based on the fact that Keith didn’t have the experience and that Pidge couldn’t support Hunk’s full weight on their own. Not that anyone had told Keith that just yet.
“I’m so exited to get to this part of the dance!”
“Lifts!” Allura said gleefully.
Keith jolted, almost allowing his arms to drop out of position.
“Allura, what the hell!? Why didn’t you tell me this weeks ago? I haven’t done lifts.”
She smiled sheepishly.
“We didn’t want to stress you out too much so early on.”
“I’m stressing out anyway! Can’t it just be you and Shiro that do it?” From the corner of his eye, Keith could see Shiro barely hiding a grin.
“Don’t worry, Keith. You won’t be the person up in the air. Besides, I don’t believe any of them will be above shoulder height, so it’s nothing too crazy.”
“That isn’t really what I’m trying to get at here.”
“You’ll be fine! I know you’re stronger than you seem.”
“I’m going to look stupid trying to hold him up. He’s all legs and arms and is taller than me.”
“Not by that much,” Allura chuckled.
Keith was doing everything in his power to not cross his arms and turn away in a huff. “Allura, I can barely do the dances themselves, let alone learn how to safely lift someone.”
“I think you’ll understand a little bit more when you can see the lifts in action. They’re called lifts, but really, they’re more like assisted jumps? If you’re not comfortable when practicing with Lance, then you can leave it out and we’ll work on some different choreography for you.”
“Wait, wait,” Lance called, hearing his name. “Is this about the lifts?”
“We can’t leave them out! I’ve never been the one up in the air before!”
Keith didn’t even have to look in Lance’s direction to know that he would end up agreeing to it.
Allura smiled encouragingly giving his arm a gentle squeeze. “It’s okay Keith, we’ll take it slow so you can get the basics and then you can practice with Lance once he’s covered the jive.”
When Allura had said that they would take it slowly, she had meant it. For the entire two hours, they practiced the same fifteen steps or so, up until just after the first of the lifts. It was a simple thing really and Keith didn’t have to do too much except ensure his feet were planted far enough apart so that Allura could hook her left leg over Keith’s without accidentally kicking him. With Keith supporting her weight, Allura jumped, flicking her right leg between Keith’s for a moment before kicking out with her right leg, gracefully sweeping it in an arc so that she was sitting on Keith’s thigh for a breath. She then kicked out again, leading with her left leg and then following with her right to stand. She made it look absolutely effortless and by the time the rehearsal was finished, Keith didn’t have to count the steps or think about it.
“It’ll obviously be a bit different with Lance because of the weight distribution,” Allura said at the end of the rehearsal, “But you’ve got it down really well, Keith! I’m impressed.”
“Is that what all of the lifts will be like? I admit, they’re different to what I was thinking.”
“For the tango, yes! There is another lift in the samba which is probably more in line what you were thinking but that one will be optional. We’ll show you when we get to that bit. Did you enjoy it?”
Keith nodded. “More than I thought I would.”
Allura smiled. “Lance and I will make a dancer out of you yet!”
Since the party, Lance couldn’t stop thinking about how it had felt to hold Keith’s hand or how his heart had raced when Keith leaned against him. He was secretly glad that during rehearsals the pairs had been shuffled around for the time being but Lance knew that it was only temporary. He felt jittery and oddly nervous every time they danced together now. After the first rehearsal following Lance admitting that he liked Keith, he had mentioned his nervousness to Hunk and —bless that big, lovable guy— since then, he was always at the studio during lesson times under the guise of finishing up some much needed paperwork. Although Lance had decided he was going to ask Keith out, he still couldn’t bring himself to say anything.
It was the first time that Lance would be seeing Keith alone since he had boldly told Hunk that he was going to ask Keith out. Lance had arrived early at the studio, intending on taking the extra time before class to go and buy himself a coffee and give himself a much needed confidence boosting pep talk. His plans were tossed out of the metaphorical window as he pulled up into the car park, spying a familiar red motorcycle already there. He quickly scanned the area but couldn’t find any signs of Keith. Shrugging to himself, Lance stepped out of Blue and went to head across the road for his morning coffee.
The shout caught his attention and he turned to find Keith on the other side of the street, two coffees in hand. He couldn’t help but smile as Keith checked both directions before crossing the road while the pedestrian light was red.
“You heathen,” Lance commented.
“It was totally safe to cross. Here. Double shot mocha with Irish Cream.”
“Ooh, something new?”
“Yeah. I know you get bored having the same coffee all the time.”
Lance refused to acknowledge the heat he could feel on his face as he smiled.
“Thanks!” Lance said as he took the offered cup. “Shall we head inside to drink these and get started?”
Keith nodded and followed Lance across the carpark to the studio.
Lance set his cup down on the desk before going over to the windows to draw the curtains. He dramatically threw them open, letting out a startled yelp—more out of surprise than actual pain—when one flicked him in the face. His cheeks coloured at Keith’s snort of laughter and he took a moment to look outside at the cars below to get his heart to stop hammering in his chest.
“So! We’re here…”
“And we’re queer…” Keith’s heart practically stopped in his chest when he realised what he had said when he had cut Lance off. He hadn’t even thought before speaking. It was something that he and Pidge tossed around with one another so often that it was virtually an automatic response. Keith lifted the coffee cup to his lips, trying to subtly watch Lance’s reaction as well as hide his undoubtedly pink face.
Lance let out a huff of laughter, taking a second to shoot finger guns in Keith’s direction. “Nice. Not quite what I was going for but I am definitely not going to disagree with you. What I was going to say is we’re here and…when we finish these coffees we’re going to learn the jive.”
When Keith was certain his expression wouldn’t give anything away, he lowered the cup.
“What if I take the whole hour and a half we have before the next class starts to drink my coffee?”
Lance shook his head, exhaling through his nose. “Then you’ll just have to learn the jive in rehearsals. I’m sure Hunk would love to have the chance to teach it to you!”
Keith groaned. “No…I’d prefer to look like an idiot in front of just one person rather than five. Not that I dislike dancing with Hunk.”
“I know what you mean. And it’s really not that bad. You’ve just gotta throw caution to the wind and have fun with it.”
Keith sighed and took a gulp of coffee. “Okay, tell me about the jive while we finish these off.”
“Well! It’s fast — like, Viennese waltz fast — and came about around oooh, I gotta think… I think it was around the 1930’s. It’s part of the swing family, along with dances like the East Coast swing, the lindy hop and the jitterbug. I think Allura and Shiro dance the East Coast swing sometimes. Hunk’s favourite dance is the jive. I personally prefer other latin dances but it’s a great way to let loose and shake it out.”
Lance took a quick sip of coffee before continuing. “Honestly I don’t know if you’ll enjoy this as much as the tango or paso, however, you’ll probably like it more than the other latin dances you’ve done. There’s less hip action and more…swinging, I guess? It’ll make sense when you do it.”
Lance finished off his coffee and set the cup down.
“Ready to get started?” He asked, glancing over his shoulder as he made his way over to the stereo system.
“Has to happen sooner or later,” Keith replied with a shrug, draining the last drops from the cup. He took both his and Lance’s empty coffee cups to the bin.
A rolling drumbeat and percussive hits filled the room as Lance selected the playlist and he danced his way to the centre of the room.
“The jive!” Lance announced with a flourish as he kicked his knee up high. “It’s more about the knees and swing-like-feel than hip action.”
Keith observed the exuberant, energetic movements and he noted that it didn’t really have the same feel as the other latin dances. Lance’s hips weren’t rolling like they did in the cha cha but there was some movement, presumably due to the way his legs kicked up high and came down quickly as his torso shifted to offset the change in weight.
“These same steps are basically used in most other styles of swing dancing, so once you’ve got this down you can swing whenever you like!”
Lance stepped close to Keith, taking up the closed position. “Okay, so the embrace for the jive is a little bit different to the closed position that you’re used to. The leader’s left hand is on the follower’s back at the shoulder blades like normal, but the followers left hand is placed between the bicep and the elbow of the leader’s arm. It’s a bit lower than usual, yeah? That’s it! Our right hands are palm to palm and as we dance you’ll notice how we kinda swing that arm. Feels a bit weird, right? Oh! Did you wanna lead or follow?”
Keith’s brow furrowed. “I’ll follow for now but won’t we kick one another standing like this?”
“Great observation!" Lance beamed. "When dancing with a partner, we move into an open promenade position and drop our right hand and turn slightly so that way we don’t accidentally knee one another. Now, the basic steps and timing for this is super easy compared to some of the other stuff you’ve struggled with. Since you’re following, you’ll be stepping back with your right foot, step in place with your left foot - so a bit like a rock step - then step out to the side with your right, close your left foot to right, then another side step with your right which is actually a bit more like a step in place? Like, don’t step too far out to the side, just a tiny bit because then we’re going to move back to the left with the exact same steps; side, together, side. And that’s your basic jive!”
Keith blinked up at Lance when he finished breaking down the steps and resumed their closed embrace.
“Seriously? Why didn’t we start with this one?” Keith asked once he got the hang of the steps and didn’t have to count along in his head.
“Uh…well, to be honest it’s because I like the other ones better…but the appropriate teacher response is that I totally realised you’d have a harder time with the others, so I thought it best to start those earlier rather than later.”
Keith couldn’t help the snort that escaped him as he tried not to laugh. “Typical you. I guess it is pretty nice to know that this isn’t as difficult as the others. I think I’d have been annoyed to learn that I’d started with the easiest and only had the harder ones to cover.”
“And you’re picking it up pretty easy. The beauty of learning harder things first. Makes the simple stuff really simple. Once this song finishes, would you like to try leading?”
Keith picked up the jive surprisingly quickly and the pair spent only a short amount of time breaking down the leader’s steps before they were swinging across the dance floor. When Keith led, the dance was a little less energetic but Lance more than made up for it when it was his turn with over exaggerated steps and arm swinging. Laughing as Keith balked at the sudden enthusiasm, Lance twirled Keith, improvising a new jive. Miraculously, Keith followed along easily, allowing Lance to lead him in their ridiculously over the top dance. With a little encouragement, Keith’s jive became more exuberant and he was laughing along with Lance as they danced.
“Hey! That’s it! You’re going great!” Lance grinned as Keith led him into a turn.
As Lance added extra steps and turns to their jive, Keith could understand why, out of all the latin dances, Hunk enjoyed the jive the most. It was fun in a loose and carefree way; swinging arms and legs that looked wild but were actually expertly controlled. The unrestrained movements definitely weren’t Keith’s favourite thing, but he could appreciate how and why other dancers might favour the jive. Out of all the latin dances so far, Keith’s favourite was the tango but he could say with certainty that he preferred the jive over the cha cha and the samba. He hadn’t even learned the rhumba yet, but if the samba was anything to go by then it was going to be hellish for him to learn. He’d take the jive any day.
Lance’s playlist came to an end, automatically switching to the next one. 90’s pop beats blasted through the speakers and Lance fumbled for his phone to switch it to something a little more suited to ballroom dance.
“We’ve still got some time. Shall we continue with the Jive?”
“Let’s waltz,” Keith suggested. “It’s been a while since we did one of those.”
“Uh, sure. The wedding dance?”
Keith shook his head. “Nah. Improv.”
Lance blinked, surprised by the suggestion. Usually he was the one suggesting improvisation. Lance scrolled through his playlists until he came across the one he’d created for the waltz and faced Keith.
“Lead or follow?”
“Lead. If that’s okay?”
The suggestion surprised him but Lance stepped into the closed position, his right hand sliding into Keith’s as his left rested at Keith’s shoulder. “Of course.”
The pair lost themselves to the music and the steps that Keith danced, Lance following along with complete trust. He twirled and twisted at the slightest suggestion, eyes fluttering closed as Keith lowered him into a slight back bend. The dance was slow and smooth, almost effortless.
“Yeah?” He pulled Lance upright and nudged him into a twirl. When Lance had turned to face him, Keith’s right hand slipped into Lance’s and his left hand moved to Lance’s shoulder; the follower’s position.
Lance seamlessly switched into the leader’s role, picking up where Keith left off, picking up the pace ever so slightly as the next song started. He could hardly look at Keith when talking, his heart hammering in his chest.
“I was wondering…”
“What is it?” Keith asked, giving Lance his full attention.
“Could I…could I take you out somewhere? On Thursday night?”
Keith blinked at the question and Lance guided Keith into a half turn, mostly so he didn’t have to look at Keith’s face lest Lance spontaneously combust because holy shit he had asked!
“It would prefer it be a surprise and you hopefully won’t hate it when we get there,” Lance laughed half heartedly as he guided Keith back around to face him.
Keith thought about it. On the one hand he desperately just wanted to say ‘yes’ and freak out about it later. On the other hand, he was freaking out about it right now.
“Thursday night? As in, this Thursday?”
“In four days time, yes.”
“The place opens at seven.”
“Okay,” Keith said as the song came to an end and they stopped their improvisation. Neither moved to step out of the embrace though and there was a semi awkward pause as Lance tried to puzzle out what Keith’s response meant.
“‘Okay’ as in ‘okay I’ll go’ or ‘okay, Thursday at seven, what else?’?”
Keith laughed. Lance was oddly adorable when he was skittish. “Okay, I’ll go out with you.”
A couple of students came into the studio for the next class and Keith couldn’t keep the smirk from his face, glancing over his shoulder as he made his way over to his bag.
“It’s a date then,” he said, loud enough for Lance to hear but not loud enough to carry across the room.
Lance wouldn’t ever admit that his voice pitched higher when he spoke. “Totally! Sounds awesome, I’ll text you the details later! Those of you who are here early, let’s get to warming up!”
Neither of them were paying enough attention to the other to notice the faint tinge of pink and the playful smile that they both were trying to hide as Keith left the studio and Lance began the advanced warmup. If anyone in the class noticed that Lance seemed particularly excitable whilst mentally being a million miles away from the class, no one mentioned it.
It took absolutely everything Keith had inside him to not freak out until after he had put his helmet on and had pulled out of the parking lot, the roar of the engine and the rush of the wind hiding the loud, almost exhilarated laughter that escaped him.
Chapter 21: The Perfect Night for a Salsa
It's a date!
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
It's hard to write fanfiction when you're trying to keep it a secret from the people you live with....
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.
Chapter 22: The Samba
Keith finally learns the last dance.
Everyone pitches in to make the decorations.
Four weeks is so not enough time.
I've been sitting on this one for a little while, but it wasn't cooperating, so I'm throwing it out into the world. Sorry it's on the short side...
You might notice that I finally have a chapter count listed. It's looking like the next chapter will be the last one! I'm as surprised as you.
I can be found on tumblr at An Adventure In Writing
Keith was having a meltdown. He had the samba to learn and the wedding dance to finish in only a handful of weeks. He had a speech half written and a song half composed. He didn’t know how to finish either off and as each day passed the deadline loomed ever closer. Keith didn’t know which way he wanted to go, so decided to work on them both and decide which to use once he was done. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but at this point he was questioning his sanity and wondering if he’d actually complete either of them.
On top of everything, he couldn’t stop thinking about Lance. Keith had wanted to ask him out on another date but there was too much to do before the wedding and not enough time. Keith was sure that Lance felt the same. Whenever he had a spare moment, Keith felt like he needed to be working on something wedding related. Usually that meant dance practice. Pidge had taken pity on Keith, often popping around in the evening for an hour or two of practice when he had told them just how anxious he was about the whole thing. Keith wasn’t as confident dancing with Pidge, and they weren’t too confident dancing with him either, but the pair made it work.
Pidge helped Keith grow more confident with the more difficult parts of the wedding dance, and Keith helped Pidge with their pacing for the slower parts. As someone who favoured the faster dances, Pidge struggled with pulling the pace back especially those first few steps after the style changed. The extra practice was paying off, and Keith could eventually keep up with the others with confidence in their group practices.
Despite how well he was going with the wedding dance rehearsals, the regular dance lessons that Keith had with Lance had been a struggle recently. For the past couple of lessons, Lance had been trying to teach Keith the final dance; the samba. Keith was trying, he truly was, but it was difficult for him and he felt beyond stupid. He knew that he was testing Lance’s patience each time he stubbornly refused to continue the lesson but he couldn’t help it. Keith’s cheeks warmed with embarrassment each time he tried (and failed) to get the right sway or arm or torso movement.
“Lance. Lance I can’t do this…” Keith grumbled in frustration.
Lance took a breath and gripped Keith’s hands, preventing him from storming away in a huff like he usually did.
“Yes, you can, Keith. I know you can. There’s no one else here. It’s just me, and you know I’m not going to laugh at you.”
“But I look stupid.”
It was the same argument that he gave Lance as always and it took everything in him to not wrench his hands out of Lance’s grasp. It shouldn’t be this hard! Lance had explained numerous times that Keith already knew a few elements to the dance. There were some things that he had learned in the cha cha, other steps in the tango, even when they went salsa dancing on their date a couple of weeks ago. All Keith needed to do was put them together in a slightly different order. More or less. Keith knew that Lance wasn’t expecting him to have all the fancy hip swings and rhythmic arms and sway. That would come with time and as his confidence grew.
“Hey. Look at me.” Lance knew that Keith felt embarrassed because he didn’t believe that he couldn’t do it, that he thought he had no rhythm for Latin dancing. “Would it be better if I had my eyes closed?”
“What?” Keith balked. “Do you want to fall over?!”
Lance closed his eyes with a shrug. “You know the steps. I know the steps. Dancing with my eyes closed will be easy. I trust you when you’re leading me.”
Lance shook his head, eyebrows raised. If he’d had his eyes open, he’d have rolled them in exasperation. “Nuh-uh! C’mon, Mullet, let’s dance.”
When Keith didn’t move, Lance took up the follower’s position, blindly grabbing for Keith’s shoulder. Once he had wrangled Keith into the closed position, Lance pulled Keith along in a very slow samba. It was difficult to lead when he was following, with his eyes closed and with Keith resisting more than usual, but somehow he managed. Lance coaxed Keith through the basic steps, a few New Yorker’s, and even tried his hand at an underarm turn before he went back to the basic steps.
“This would be much easier if you were leading properly, Keith.”
Keith sighed begrudgingly. “Okay, okay. Just…give me a second.”
Lance couldn’t see his expression, but he could hear the tremble of anxiety in Keith’s voice. The pair stopped and Lance waited for Keith to get ready. The next song started. It was soft and slow and perfect for a samba. In his mind, Lance counted the first eight bars before Keith started their dance as the main melody of the piece began. With his eyes closed, the acoustic guitar music filling the studio and the slow rock of the samba, Lance felt himself being swept away. The pressure of Keith’s hand upon his back and the gentle grip of his fingers were a comfort. He trusted Keith completely, stepping into turns and opening out for hand to hand steps without hesitation. Lance moved sensually with the music as he felt it. He found himself humming softly along with the music too. The cover was one of his favourites and he’d always thought it would be perfect for something like this. He almost wished the song didn’t have to end. He could have sworn there was something in the air. Something warm and inviting, something different to the bubble of happiness he had felt at the salsa club.
“See?” Lance murmured, not wanting to break whatever spell had been cast. “You’re doing great.”
When Lance had closed his eyes, patiently waiting for him to gather his nerves, Keith could hardly believe it. How could Lance have such complete faith in him? Keith could barely admit it to himself but he sincerely appreciated it. With Lance not watching, it was easier to move with the music. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Lance. He trusted lance completely. However, Lance was good. He was skilled and could move with grace and poise and ease. Keith felt inadequate, too much of a beginner next to him to want Lance to observe his fumbling and awkward sense of rhythm. He wanted to be able to keep up with Lance, to lead or follow whenever he pleased. Keith knew he was impatient, he always had been. He wanted to run before he could walk and it was beyond frustrating. It was frustrating because he wanted to be good. With Lance not watching, the soft music was easy to get lost in and Keith could indulge without comparing himself to the skilled dancer he was with. Keith danced slowly, watching Lance as he increasingly fell into the music. Lance’s movements were fluid and smooth, sensual and alluring. He moved at even the slightest push or pull. It was exhilarating. He never danced like this with Pidge.
As their dance progressed, Keith found that he wanted Lance close. He wanted to feel the press of Lance’s body against his but wasn’t sure if that was allowed. When Lance stepped closer after a flawless underarm turn, Keith’s arm slipped further around Lance’s back and he could feel the warmth radiating from him. He wanted to pull Lance in closer, hold him tight and not let him go.
Keith was suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to lean into Lance to kiss him.
Keith’s heart fluttered in his chest as the song slowed to a finish and the moment passed. Lance remained in his hold for a moment after the song ended before Lance stepped back with a grin.
“You did it!”
“I can’t believe you didn’t stumble once.”
Lance punched Keith lightly in the arm. “Cut yourself some slack, Mullet-man. You’re not a terrible lead once you’re confident. I might even say you’re good.”
Keith ducked his head slightly and gave Lance a small smile. “Thanks, Lance.”
After that beautiful dance, lost in Keith’s embrace, a bashful smile was too much. Lance’s heart stuttered. Oh God, he was too adorable. He wanted to lean in and kiss the corner of that bashful smile. Would it be weird to tell Keith that he wanted to kiss him? They stood there in the silence glancing at one another, the atmosphere heavy, when Lance’s alarm shattered the moment.
He jumped at the sudden sound, letting out a startled yelp. Even Keith appeared startled.
“Looks like that’s the end of class for today. I’ll, uh, see you for wedding rehearsals?”
“Of course,” Keith replied. “I have like four weeks to get it perfect.”
“There’s heaps of practice time left, and now that we have the samba done, you’ll be fine.”
As Keith discovered, four weeks was not ‘heaps of practice time’. The weeks passed by in a whirlwind; picking up suits and fitting dresses, working on table decorations and dance playlists, finishing up speeches and reassuring the bride and groom that everything would work out fine.
Keith and Lance had been in contact frequently via text when they weren’t practicing together, trying to coordinate decorations and confirm music choices. Pidge, Hunk, Shay, Coran and he had been roped into helping, spending afternoons making name cards for the table settings, seat allocation charts and the guest book, getting covered in water colour paint and glitter. They worked making a few hand-held decorations for the photo booth too; a cheesy aluminium foil covered space helmet, a cardboard rocket ship cut out and a few headbands with alien antennae. Lance worked on dyeing all of the table cloths from white to black with multi-coloured, star filled galaxies and nebulae whilst the others prepared table decorations, painting vases with iridescent paints and adding LED lights to the bases. They worked on hanging ceiling decorations; delicate spheres of varying sizes that had been dipped in glow-paint. Lance had taken the galaxy theming of the wedding very, very seriously.
At first, Keith hadn’t been convinced that it would look any good. When one thought of galaxy parties, it was usually with Styrofoam balls covered in paint hanging awkwardly in a line that was meant to resemble the solar system. As the individual decorations came together, Keith could start to see what Lance had envisioned. With the lighting that Lance had described, Keith was sure that the reception would feel like they were in outer space. All of the lights and sparkles and glowy things gave Keith a few last minute ideas for the bouquets and wedding table flowers that he made note of for later.
Allura would love it and he couldn’t wait to see how it would all look once put together.