The Galra soldier creeps forward, idly swinging its sword back and forth in its right hand, the sharp metal of the blade catching on the streams of light filtering into the cave from the cracks in the walls. The menacing crunch, crunch of the soldier’s boots on the rocky ground is the only sound heard, ignoring the labored breathing of our heroes.
Said heroes are trapped, the four that remain uncaptured backed into a corner of the cave, their weapons drawn but their grips shaky, the hard fight from before catching up to them. The center hero, the tallest, steps forward, prosthetic hand lighting up, brightening the cave further, allowing our heroes to see the face of their greatest challenger yet.
“Hey, why does Shiro get to fight first?” Lance interrupts. The others groan.
“Because,” Matt responds, already passing the dice off to Shiro, “we agreed from the beginning that Shiro is the leader of the group. Besides, Shiro’s character has the most history with the Galra, it’s only fair he gets the first swing at the first soldier we’ve encountered.”
“Yeah, Lance!” Hunk pipes up, no longer sitting up around the board but lying on his stomach, head pillowed on his arms ever since his healer paladin was captured by Galran sentries a few rolls ago. “And besides, last session you got all the cool rolls.”
Lance sighs wistfully, leaning back on his hands, reminiscing. “I guess it was pretty cool when I saved that damsel in distress from the clutches of the empire.”
“That was me, you idiot!” Keith barks out.
“Same thing,” Lance muses, still dwelling on his flawless 20 roll from last week, how his character, the daring rebel-slash-paladin, had managed to shoot off the arm of a robot sent by the Galrans, saving Keith’s character, the broody anti-villain.
Keith tugged on his fringe, a habit of his, Lance had noticed, but otherwise gave no response.
“Can we continue?” Shiro asked, shaking the dice in his hands.
Matt looks down at the sheet in front of him, and after a brief pause nods, “Yeah, go ahead.”
Shiro rolls an 11, which he grumbles at a bit, and Pidge pats him on the shoulder.
“Okay,” Matt says, “the tallest paladin, Shiro, strikes at the soldier, but his arm is deflected by the Galra’s armor.” Ignoring Shiro’s protests (“It was an 11, you dick!”), Matt presses on, “However, the force behind the attack knocks the soldier off balance, and he stumbles back—“
“I come in with my sword!” Keith interjects, already throwing the dice.
Lance straightens up, a waggling finger pointed at Keith, ready to accuse him of cheating, something, because Lance is supposed to be the lucky roller, that’s his thing, but—
But Keith is smiling down at his dice, his cheeks flushed, and even though his braces are ugly and his hair is getting too long, he really needs to get a haircut, and his Star Trek shirt is really stupid (Lance isn’t jealous, no, not at all), something about it makes Lance’s chest twist up and suddenly he can’t talk, his heart up in his throat. Keith never smiles, and usually it’s a mean one, after he gets Lance all riled up over something dumb.
Lance lets his hand drop down into his lap, and he pointedly ignores Pidge’s smirk in his direction.
Matt continues with the campaign, oblivious to Lance’s dilemma.
Sure, Keith was alright, when he wasn’t being completely emo and ignoring Lance whenever he waved to him in the halls at school, or making fun of his character in the campaign—listen, Lance the paladin might not have particularly high strength or agility stats, but at least he was somewhat diplomatic, unlike Keith’s paladin, and his flirting had gotten them out of a few tight spots before.
But yeah, Keith was alright. He could tell the odd joke, with his weird, untimely, dry humor, and he was really fun to play co-op Battlefield with, and he could drive already and if Lance hadn’t angered him too much during a session he’d give him a ride home and even stop at Sonic on the way.
He also had those eyes, which sometimes haunted Lance in his sleep, maybe in the good way, but that was entirely not the point.
Lance realized now that he had zoned out—which was probably going to cost him some XP—again, but at least the focus was off of Keith now, who had seemingly managed to injure the soldier badly enough that they had made it to an exit out of the cave.
“I think we should stop there,” Allura decides. Lance still wasn’t quite sure what Allura’s role in the campaign was. Her character was an alien or an elf or something, who sometimes turned up to help the rest of them out, but usually Allura just watched, occasionally helping Matt out with keeping track of stuff or deciding when each session should end.
Matt nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I think this is good. Everyone tally up.”
Please, please, please, please—“Lance, deduct 5 XP for not paying attention.”
Throughout the next week at school, Lance sees Keith very little, or maybe it's the same as usual, but he finds himself fixated on the other, ever since last Friday.
He and Keith only have one class together, Trig, and they don't even sit together, so Lance supposes it's true that he does just not see Keith all that much. Hunk, Pidge, and him all have several classes together, and they eat lunch together, and go over to each other's houses most days. But with Keith, there's none of that. Lance always waves to him in the hallways, and sometimes when he gets to math early enough he'll stop by Keith's desk to chat before the bell, but that's really it. They just hang out on Fridays at Matt's house for D&D.
Keith's assigned seat in Trig puts him a couple rows in front of Lance, at a diagonal, which Lance discovers gives him the perfect angle to get distracted by his profile, and his soft hair, and the way he pulls on his fringe and bites his pencil eraser.
Today, Friday, Lance is just as distracted as the four days previously. They're supposed to be doing classwork of some kind, and Keith is super focused on his. His brow is furrowed, and he keeps pausing in his writing to erase something and start again.
Lance, on the other hand, barely gets through three problems, so when the bell rings he's shoving the unfinished work in his bag, mentally adding it on to his buttload of homework this weekend.
Keith is out of the door right away, so Lance has to jog to catch up with him, holding onto his backpack straps.
"Hey," he says, falling into step beside Keith.
Keith looks up, startled, and Lance is surprised to see a faint pink on his cheeks. He smiles internally, but doesn't say anything.
"Hey," Keith replies, looking back down at his feet. Math is their last class of the day, so they turn to head out.
"You're going tonight, right?" Lance says, continuing to walk with Keith down to the parking lot, despite the fact he doesn't have a car.
"Uh. Duh," Keith says shortly, fiddling with the end of the drawstring on his hoodie.
Lance snorts. "Oh, Sorry, didn't know if the-one-and-only Keith had more important plans tonight."
"You know I don't," Keith says quietly, after a pause.
Lance almost stops short in his tracks, his heart swelling too big in his chest.
"Wanna come over with Hunk? We're gonna play some Overwatch before we head over to Matt's."
He can see Keith weigh it over in his head, biting the inside of his cheek, but he shakes his head. "Nah, it's okay."
Lance's mind races to keep up, getting desperate, "Or- Or- we can do something! Just us!" He says, pointing a finger back and forth between them quickly. "We can grab some food, or, um, something."
Keith looks up at him now, mouth parted slightly, cheeks red again, but then he's nodding, quickly, saying, "Yeah, yeah, let's do that."
"Great," Lance says, smiling, "because I've definitely missed the bus now."
Lance gives Hunk a vague excuse to get out of hanging out with him, and he can tell he’s suspicious. The car ride to Burger King is mostly quiet, but it's not too awkward, and Keith plays mostly shitty emo songs, but it's sort of endearing. Plus, Lance is excited. Like, super excited, can't stop shaking his leg excited.
This feels different than the other handful of times they've hung out, Lance thinks. But maybe it's just that now he's realized he kinda really wants to kiss Keith.
They choose to dine in, and they slide into a booth in the corner. Keith picks at his fries and sips at his milkshake, not making eye contact. Lance steals one of his fries, and his eyes snap up, mouth open in indignation.
“Hey! You have your own fries!”
Lance smiles, sticking out his tongue. “Yours are better.”
Keith kicks at Lance’s foot playfully, but then leaves his own foot over in Lance’s space, in between Lance’s legs, and Lance nearly chokes. He plays it off by gulping at his Dr. Pepper desperately.
He cautiously looks over at Keith, very aware of their feet pressed against each other under the table. Keith doesn’t seem to notice anything unusual, picking out the pickles in his burger with a scowl.
“Your hair’s getting long, dude,” Lance says, “you’re like, totally getting into mullet territory now.”
Keith scowls further, lifting a hand to pat his hair. “I guess so.”
Lance laughs. “Don’t worry, you’d probably still look good anyway.”
Keith blushes again (is that three times already??) but smiles wide, ducking his head. Lance wonders what it would be like to kiss someone with braces.
Conversation picks up after that, and Keith never moves his foot, but Lance leans forward over the table while he talks to make it even.
They finally leave the Burger King at around 6:45, rushing a little bit so they can make it to Matt’s by 7. Lance lets their hands brush as they walk back to Keith’s car.
He does his best to distract Keith from driving, pulling out all of his best nerd jokes, and all of them make Keith laugh. That never happens, not even with Allura, who usually appreciates even the worst of his puns.
They pull up in front of Matt’s house, but neither of them move to get out of the car. Keith instead just cuts off the car and angles his body towards Lance in his seat.
“We, uh, we should do this again,” Lance starts. “Like, go out again. The two of us. Wait! —not like a date—go out—just, well, maybe, um, if you want.”
“No, I’d, uh, like that,” Keith says, smiling at him. His eyes look really pretty. Lance remembers the braces-kissing thing.
“Can I kiss you?” he blurts out. He feels himself blushing.
Keith also reddens, and then they’re just too blushing idiots staring at each other. But then he’s nodding, leaning in fractionally.
Lance lets his eyes flutter shut, leaning in and putting a hand on Keith’s cheek to help guide them together. The kiss is embarrassingly chaste, and short, but Keith’s cheek and his lips are soft, and it’s Keith he’s kissing, which makes his heart beat really fast.
They pull apart a few inches, and Keith grins at him. His eyes this close up are too much for Lance, so he sits back in his seat, pulling up his knees and resting his chin on them.
They walk down the stairs of Matt’s basement way too late, both of them blushing and giggling.
“Thank you, Lance and Keith, for finally blessing us with your presence,” Matt says loudly.
Hunk quirks an eyebrow at Lance, but he just presses his lips together, hiding a giddy smile. Pidge is squinting at them, eyes flicking back and forth, and then her jaw drops. “No way. Oh my god.”
“Shut up,” Keith grumbles, sitting down next to her, leaning back on his hands.
Lance smirks and sits next to him, letting their fingers overlap behind them.