The Lady was an angel. The Lady was a saint. The Lady was all that they had. She was their way to salvation. Her words were gospel and her voice was heavenly fire, setting their souls aflame. Setting Lance’s soul aflame.
He’d been entirely lost before Her, but now that he had seen the light in her eyes, he would always find his way. As long as he had the Lady in his life. As long as he could see Her, be in the same room as Her, that was more than enough for him. Listening to Her voice was when he learned devotion.
He rose with the Lady on his mind and closed his eyes only to see Her. She never left his thoughts. Her sermons, especially, were days he looked forward to the most. In a church dedicated to Her, Lance felt one with his fellow followers as they listened to Her speak.
However, he doubted any of them were as dedicated to Her as he was. He doubted any of them could compete with his heart, when it only beat for the Lady—when it only knew blood because She had commanded it to be there. The Lady. His devotion to her was pure and true. He only loved Her. He only lived for Her. He would die for her, and—
Tremors ran through Lance’s hands as he looked at them, realizing what he’d done.
Blood pooled on the floor, pouring out of the stab wounds like the spring of the river Styx. Lance fell to his arms and knees with a sob. “ Forgive me! ” he cried out, his entire body shaking. “ Forgive me forgive me forgive me! ” He chanted, begging the Lady for salvation. Begging Her to purify him from his sin. Begging Her not to banish him for what he’d done.
And he would kill for her.
He felt the Lady’s hand touch his face and lift his head up. She held his chin between Her fingers, his eyes having nowhere else to look but at Her. The Lady’s eyes were gentle and warm, like the dawn of a new day, and Her red painted lips curved into a smile.
With white hair framing Her face like a halo, She looked like a goddess.
She is a goddess.
And Lance thought, even if She had him banished or killed, seeing Her like this, even for a moment, was worth dying for.
“You did well, Lance,” She said instead, and Lance laid his heart and soul at her feet.
Allura had never doubted there would be consequences for her actions. She was showing people the light — No doubt there would be a Judas trying to stop her.
She never expected it to turn out like this, though.
The man had stormed into her private chambers where she’d been resting after a sermon and claimed she took everything away from him. Allura doubted it, since she never forgot a name or a face, but she didn’t think he would have been pleased to hear that. She tried to calm him down, but to no avail, he’d come in there a man on a mission.
And the mission had been to kill her.
But before he could raise his hand, his mouth had already begun to fill with blood.
She barely had the time to step away before the man fell, and Lance along with him.
Twenty seven times.
She’d counted the times the knife sank into the man’s back.
Once was enough.
But Lance had stabbed him twenty seven times.
Enough to count it as a crime of passion.
Enough for Allura to walk away and leave Lance to the wolves. Save herself at the price of his life—he wouldn’t mind, would he? Her followers were loyal, but would he go to prison for her?
Allura didn’t notice she was shaking until Lance started sobbing, until he started begging for forgiveness.
Oh, well this she could deal with.
She shrugs off her robe and steps towards him, mindful of the pool of blood from her almost-murderer. “Lance,” she says, mustering her best seductive voice, but he seems unresponsive.
She sighs in exasperation.
Allura gets down on one knee and gently takes hold of his face so he can look at her. His eyes betray everything—his fear, his grief, and his deep, all encompassing love for her.
“You did well, Lance,” she praises him, reveling in the way he melts in her touch. “Good boy, protecting your Lady like that,” she continues, holding his face in place when he tries to look at the cooling corpse. Oh no, that won’t do! All of his attention should be on Allura right now.
“I-I…” He tries, but the shock of the situation is breaking him, hindering his ability to speak. No matter, Allura will do all the talking for him.
“Would you do that again, for me?” she asks, fluttering her eyelashes like she did with other non-believers.
But Lance isn’t like that. He is utterly devoted to his faith, and when Allura asks him to kill for her, he does so without question.
Lance nods, slowly, and it is confirmation enough for Allura.
She can’t help it, she grins.
‘No one will ever touch me again,’ she thinks to herself, and she is not wrong in the slightest.
Lance is never allowed on Allura’s bed. Instead, he stays on the floor on his knees, begging, praying, at her feet. And he is never allowed to touch her without her explicit permission, and that’s how he stays, bound and gagged and blindfolded, shivering from barely contained desire.
Her murder weapon.
Her little good boy.
Her Lance .
The cold of the marble tile is nothing compared to the fiery sting of her crop. Always leaving him desperate for more. The little deaths she offered—her love a hard enough drug.
She promised him a way to heaven, after all.
Lance has found that moments of true prayer pass not in the pews of their church, but between his Lady’s legs.
He looks up, her wetness dripping down his chin, and She reaches out to pet him, running a gentle hand through his hair.
Her nails scratch his scalp in the way She knows he likes, and he knows he will never get used to this gentleness. That he will always be falling in love with it, falling in love with everything She does.
“Good boy,” She coos, and his heart skips a beat. Years of his direct servitude to Her, and still his heart flutters when She praises him. “Now come on, we have work to do,” She pats his cheek and crosses her legs.
Lance gets up and heads to the bathroom to clean up. His own bathroom was significantly smaller than the ensuite the Lady had, which made sense, of course, but he was always slightly disappointed that the Lady would not allow him to join Her. She took Her own time to clean up, separate from Lance.
He catches sight of himself in the small mirror his bathroom provided, noticing all the bruises and marks his Lady's toys left on him. He smiles to himself, for they were nothing if not evidence of how his Lady loved him. How She cared for him. How She knew exactly what was good for him.
How lucky he was to have the chance to serve Her like this.
He quickly finishes cleaning up and gets dressed, opening the door to see his Lady seated before her vanity, her snow white hair dripping wet down her back.
He catches Her gaze in the mirror, though she quickly looks away and scribbles something onto a piece of paper. Before he can even properly bow, she just hands him the note.
“Here’s your next target,” She doesn’t even look at him.
“My lady—” he tries, but She waves him off.
“Nothing particular you have to do, just handle it with care,” his Lady smiles at him, and all his worries melt away. For years, he’s done this for Her, taken the lives of those in his Lady’s way. He would never question Her, would never doubt Her reasoning.
Despite that, he still had an odd feeling about this assignment.
“Of course, my Lady,” he bows his head.
For in this world, nothing matters to Lance except Allura. She’d captured him in a way that he was completely and utterly Hers. His body, his emotions, even his freedom. His soul and his heart laid at Her feet for Her to do as She pleased. His entire life belonged to Her, and so, She was the only thing he could see. Her touch was the only thing he could feel. Her voice was the only thing he could hear.
“Call my name,” he silently begs, and his Lady fulfills his prayer.
“Thank you, Lance,” She whispers, and he would have fallen to his knees if not for the task she’d given him.
After all, there would be time for more prayers later.
His odd feeling persists despite his Lady’s voice filling his mind. It feels traitorous to doubt, traitorous to feel bad when he has the privilege of getting his Lady’s attention, but the fear crawls over his heart and holds it in a tight grip despite this.
He parks the car in front of the motel and grabs his gun—all of these movements muscle memory by now. Lance has been his Lady’s hitman of choice for years, after all. She would have no use for him if he was anything less than perfect.
Lance thinks, perhaps this is the one. The one task that will allow him more than just his Lady’s bedroom floor. More than just Her whip and Her hand. This would be the task that allowed him the privilege of resting on his Lady’s bed.
This would be the task to make his dream come true, and let him share a pillow with Her.
But as he picks the lock of the motel door, the odd feeling comes back in waves, and he notices the room is empty. There’s no signs of life, no signs of use. Lance’s intuition was what guided him to living targets, but now it lay dead, like the rest of the furniture of the room.
He turns on the light and notices the one thing out of place in an otherwise stock-image of a motel room: a large duffel bag on one of the beds.
Dread builds up in him, the way water pulls back right before a tsunami, and Lance zips open the duffel bag.
Money, passports, IDs.
The wave starts to build.
His picture on one passport. Hers on the other.
The wave crashes.
My dearest Lance,
By the time you’ve found this letter, I will already be arrested. You know I have done nothing wrong, but some people don’t see it that way, my love. Some people are fools, blind to our ways, blind to the True Light, and they seek to lock me away.
I’ve decided the best way to thwart them is to let them. This way, I can test the loyalty of my other members and let the heathens believe they’ve won. But our war is not over, my dearest. You have enough money to hide and stay undetected for a few months, and find out where they’re keeping me while I play along with their games. I have no doubts you will be able to break me out, for I’ve always believed in you, even that first day.
You are my truest follower, and the Light will guide you back to me.
When I return, it will be us and our truest followers. I trust in you to succeed. I will be patiently awaiting our reunion.
Your Lady, Allura
It takes Lance far too long to get back home, despite his reckless driving and excessive speed, he is far too late.
He leaves the car a few streets away from their church, the duffel bag long since hidden in a place no one will find it. It takes significant effort, but he manages to sneak in despite the fact that the place is crawling with cops.
The Lady’s office is burned. Any documentation they had now lost to flames Lance was too late to witness. ‘Good,’ he thinks, it will be harder for followers to be tracked down this way. Her dressing and meditation rooms suffered the same fate, all fires that were purposefully planted, to make their members’ escapes easier.
To use the chaos of a fire as a veil to escape under… Something only his Lady would come up with.
This pride is what moves him forward, through the secret passages to avoid the investigators, and towards his Lady’s chambers. He had to see Her, he had to make sure She was alright. He could not fathom being away from Her for too long, let alone being left unaware of Her fate.
Lance could not live without Allura.
And that is why, when he opens Her bedroom door, he dies.
Allura lays still, her arm at an odd angle, but otherwise normal. As if she were sleeping. As if the three gunshots were instead roses that bloomed over her heavenly body.
Allura lays dead, in a pool of her own blood, and Lance’s heart stops. He dies at the entryway, he dies every step he takes towards her corpse, he dies as he lays down next to her, curling around her body. A parody of two lovers, sharing the same bed.
He closes his eyes and wills his heart to stop.
He closes his eyes, and Lance dies.
Lance wakes up, despite himself, and realizes two things.
One, he’s alive.
Two, he’s handcuffed.
His eyes blink open and slowly, he takes in his surroundings. White ceilings, white walls, white sheets. He’s alone, thankfully, though his left hand is cuffed to the bed rail, which can’t mean anything good. Since the only person Lance would let willingly cuff him to a bed is gone now.
With a groan, Lance manages to sit up in his bed, his muscles crying out in protest. He doesn’t know how long he’s been out for, the digital clock in his hospital room reading 2:34 PM, but not supplying him with a date.
The door to his room opens, dragging him out of his thoughts and back into the plain hospital room.
The nurse attending his room blinks a few times in shock before running out without even asking him if he wants a glass of water. Lance sighs and shakily reaches for the water pitcher on his bedside table.
Before he can reach it himself however, someone else beats him to it. The hand pours him a glass of water and hands it to him, and Lance doesn’t even have the mind to thank the hand before downing the entire glass.
“Did they not let you have anything to drink in your cult, or is it just you?” the owner of the hand, most likely, asks, and Lance finally looks up to face him.
He is young—much younger than Lance expected a detective would look like—and handsome. Lance is surprised at himself for having the capacity to find another human being attractive, but his goddess—his Lady—is gone now, and it should be no surprise that Lance has started falling.
Lance only shakes his head and waves his glass around in lieu of asking for more water. The detective humours him, a surprising show of compassion, and pours him another glass. Only then does Lance deign to speak.
“The goddess ,” he puts in as much hate as he can in the word as he can muster, “decided when we could eat. And when we could drink. If you were lucky, it was twice a day.” He waves his glass again, and the detective pours him another glass.
“Sounds like you hated her,” the detective notes, and Lance drinks the entire glass of water again, swallowing his true emotions along with it.
“Sounds like you’re the one who got her,” he says and puts the glass back on the side table, settling into his bed once more.
“Detective Keith Kogane, nice to meet you, mister…” the detective lets the sentence hang, expecting Lance to answer.
“Lance McClain,” Lance lies, remembering the name on one of his fake passports.
“Got anything to prove that claim, Mr. McClain?” Detective Kogane asks, and Lance shrugs.
“She took our names when we entered, knowing your last name was traitorous. I don’t know if you can find any documents to prove it, but it’s all I have.”
“Very convenient for you, considering all the records were destroyed before we made it to the scene,” Detective Kogane accuses, but Lance shrugs again, challenging him to find any lie in his expression. One did not spend years following the Lady without learning to lie.
‘They are necessary sometimes, Lance. For people too weak to stand in the Light. But I would never lie to you.’
He could still hear her voice. He would never forget it—the sound of heaven.
“What can you tell me about your involvement in the cult, Mr. McClain?” the detective continues, and Lance sighs.
Makes up stories of an accountant managing funds—a person who was never devoted, a person who was forced into the situation, a person who never saw the ‘Light’ the woman spoke of.
And makes up stories of a person willing to give up the names of higher ups in the cult for immunity.
Detective Kogane stops at that, furrows those thick eyebrows that Lance finds so fascinating, and looks up at him. Keith is clearly doubtful—most of the other lies are at least half believable, but a traitor? In a cult like that ?
“How can I trust you ? You were part of that cult, too. No matter your role—” he starts, but Lance was ready for this.
He lifts his shirt—aggressively, suddenly—so that he has Keith stunned more by the action alone than what he sees there.
“Would they do this to a member who was willing?” he adds because he knows what Keith sees. Bruises, scrapes, cuts. All littered across his chest like battle scars of a warrior who was taken captive. The marks of a man tortured.
‘The marks of a man pleased,’ Lance thinks to himself, but he has to sell this performance.
And Keith, like a child at a magic show, drinks it all up.
“Allura had a guard dog,” Keith pushes.
“No one ever saw them,” Lance doesn't budge. He offers up name after name after name. Donors, followers, even a few gang members Allura had convinced into joining.
“Supplying the guard dog with weapons,” Keith had a habit of biting his lip when he was focused. Lance found it incredibly endearing against his better judgement.
“No,” Lance doesn’t rush into danger as he once used to. An accountant wouldn’t, he’d stay back and let the trained professionals handle it. He watches bodies pile on both sides, and relishes in it. Chaos and destruction ruling without his Lady to keep the strings in place.
Keith brings him on some of the missions, mindful to keep an eye on him, but Lance is on his best behaviour. He’s completely harmless, a pet dog on a leash.
They even give him a gun—their second to last mission, a raid at the cult’s actual weapon dealer’s home. He doesn’t even get to keep it for long, but it’s enough to get him acquainted with the weight of it. With and without bullets.
A feral animal on a leash.
“She must have had a guard dog,” Keith slams his hands on his desk, the coffee in Lance’s mug shaking at the impact.
“They could have been a rumor,” Lance doesn’t look up from his mug.
“What?!” Keith snaps his head towards Lance, and he looks up at him across the desk, taking in the look on Keith’s face. From his messy greasy hair, his bloodshot eyes and his bruised eye bags, he looks far from the detective who interrogated Lance in the hospital.
Lance, on the other hand, has very much been enjoying the compensation he’d been given for his services. His clean pressed clothes and styled hair look out of place in the messy office Keith’s called his home for the past few weeks, but Lance wasn’t about to offer his shoulder to cry on.
Or maybe he should? What would his Lady have him do? Would it be beneficial for his plans to deepen his relationship with Keith, or should he let the detective spiral into madness on his own…
Scheming was so difficult.
“Think about it,” Lance starts slowly, in that gentle methodical voice Keith seemed to enjoy. “Her own presence was supposed to inspire fear and worship, but that fear is nothing compared to something palpable. Murder a few people, spread the rumour it was your “guard dog” who did it, and that this dog would kill anyone who stood in your way, and you’re invincible.”
“So that…” Keith falls into his chair, and Lance has to hold back the wince of fear he feels for the poor plastic thing.
“Means the guard dog could have been anyone. Zarkon, Lotor, the Mice—any of them could commit a murder, and let Allura claim it as her guard dog’s kill. A palpable threat to all those who stood against her,” he explained.
“That would explain why no one’s ever seen their face…” Keith trails off. The idea has taken root, but Lance knows Keith is not all that convinced. Wordlessly, he gets up and pours Keith a glass of water. The detective waves him off, but Lance is persistent. “You know I only drink coffee,” he says as he takes the glass.
“You’re a wreck, Keith,” Lance says, emphasizing the man’s name. For fondness, for closeness, for all those things Keith’s tired mind needed.
“Thanks,” Keith smirks and takes a sip, before his own body’s needs take over, and he downs the entire glass.
“I mean, you’ve spent the last month working on this case. And you’ve done so much,” Lance covers Keith’s hands with his own, makes sure the detective notices how lovely it feels to be touched. “You deserve a break,” Lance says with a small smile, gently tugging at Keith’s hand when the man makes no move to get up.
Keith looks up from their joined hands back at Lance, and Lance wonders what he sees. He knows he must look beautiful—he wore the shade of blue Keith likes, and he’d put special care into styling his hair. Is Keith thinking about the way the shirt matches his eyes? Is he waxing poetry of oceans with undiscovered depths inside his mind?
After a moment of Lance looking beautiful and Keith falling for it, he moves.
Lance gives him a grin and steals some of the sun’s light to make it brighter. And Keith blushes as he shrugs on his jacket, looking at his watch and then at his phone to avoid Lance’s eyes.
They end up in a bar where Lance knows the bartender, and Lance makes sure Keith eats something before he gets himself drunk.
Keith stays glued to his barstool, opting to watch others instead of dancing himself. Lance finds this horribly boring and orders them more drinks.
Keith finds everything Lance says funny. Says that he didn’t know there were funny people in cults. Lance orders them more drinks.
Keith hates his job. Lance didn’t need to get him drunk to find that out, but he appreciates the knowledge anyway. Keith keeps his job to honor his dead brother. Lance thinks he may remember someone named Shiro, but he doesn’t dwell on the implications and orders them more drinks instead.
“Let’s dance!” Keith hollers and stumbles onto the dancefloor. Lance laughs and Keith thinks it’s with him, not at him. Lance makes sure he doesn’t embarrass himself too much, guides his hands and his hips and his mouth, and doesn’t care much for the look in Keith’s eyes. Lance drags him off the dance floor and orders them more drinks, trying his best to mirror the look in Keith’s eyes.
The bartender gives Lance a nod and slides him his last non-alcoholic drink.
“Hey, Keith,” he turns his barstool to look at Keith, but he’s barely responsive. He wonders if the bartender gave the detective alcohol poisoning on accident, but even Keith isn’t that much of a lightweight. Or at least, he shouldn’t be.
“Hey Keith,” he says again, leaning in close to whisper in his ear. Keith startles, and Lance has to lean back quickly in order to avoid getting hit. Keith looks at him, blinking to try and regain focus, but Lance doesn’t have that kind of time. “You killed Her, didn’t you?”
At this, Keith laughs and leans to rest his head on the bar again. He looks at Lance, endearment written all over his face. “I did,” he slurs out, a kind of pride laced into his words along with copious amounts of alcohol. He wasn’t going to remember this conversation. “The others were going to offer her some kind of deal,” he laughs again, but it comes out more like air than anything else. He turns his head so he can rest his forehead on his arm and stare at the floor. “After everything she’d done…” Keith trails off, and Lance is too stunned to move him, to grab his chin and tilt his head so Keith is looking at him.
Lance is not Allura. Lance can’t do this.
Keith turns to stare at Lance, his face contemplative in the way only a drunk could be. “They still think you were the one who killed her,” he says, and Lance stops. His heart ceases, his lungs turn to stone, but his eyes remain carefully blinking.
“There was no murder weapon,” he can’t control his tone of voice. He’s back to being his Lady’s loyal servant, he’s back in Her chambers, he’s back to laying down next to Her warm corpse.
Keith just shakes his head, swirls around the drink Lance didn’t notice him grabbing. “Not that hard to find. I believed you were her guard dog too, for the longest time,” he confesses, grinning as he brings the drink to his lips.
Lance grins back, if only because they’re talking about Her. If only because he loves Her, and hates him, and will make him bleed just like he made Her bleed.
He takes his own drink, confident Keith won’t remember this conversation by tomorrow, and clinks their glasses against one another.
“To her death!” Keith cheers and can’t hear Lance’s answer over the rising volume of the music.
Lance wakes up in Keith’s bed.
The detective is still asleep, his hair still damp from when Lance had washed it from vomit. He’s pretty, for a killer. But he guesses the same could be said for Lance.
Quietly, he gets up and tiptoes to the bathroom. There’s no candles in the detective’s apartment, so his lighter will do. Lance leaves the lights off as he walks towards the mirror.
The flame on the cheap plastic lighter flickers to life, and Lance catches his reflection in the mirror. In the morning, safe from being perceived by anyone but himself, he looks like a ghost. A shadow of the person he used to be when his Lady was still alive.
He blinks until he forgets about the person in the mirror. Until he forgets about everything but Her.
And then, he prays.
Lance wakes up in Keith’s bed, but the detective is nowhere in sight.
The mattress is still slightly warm, the gray duvet tucked into place as much as possible considering there was still one person in the bed. Lance notices the empty glass of water on the nightstand across from him, and lifts his head to see—Yep, Keith had taken the aspirin Lance left for him there.
Lance gets up and stretches, finding his pants and shirt on the matching gray carpet. It seemed that color was illegal in Keith’s bedroom, except of course for the blue shirt Lance was wearing.
Lance also opens the window, letting in fresh air. Nothing had happened last night, of course. Lance was many things, but he only got people drunk to get information out of them, nothing else. Besides, he didn’t need to get Keith drunk to fuck him. The smell of freshly made pancakes wafting into the room made it abundantly clear to Lance that the detective was whipped.
And that he didn’t remember their conversation from last night.
Lance makes his way to Keith’s ensuite bathroom. It was, in all fairness, a nice apartment, if not a bit plain. But so was Keith. He splashes some water on his face and looks at himself in the mirror. The man who’d prayed this morning was gone, and in his place stood Lance McClain, cult survivor and the detective’s consultant.
When Lance finishes up in the bathroom, he finally makes his way to the kitchen where Keith greets him with an almost unnatural glint in his eye. He recovered about as fast as he got drunk.
“Good morning,” he rasps out, and doesn’t miss the spark of carnal desire in Keith’s eyes before the detective goes back to making their breakfast. Again, Lance didn’t have to get Keith drunk to fuck him.
He has the man wrapped around his finger.
A few weeks later Keith hands Lance his new documents—ID, driver’s license, even a birth certificate—and Lance gently covers Keith’s hand with his own. A touch that felt far more intimate than it should have, considering the much more carnal desires they’d indulged in the night before.
But still, this is sweeter, and slightly bitter. This is their goodbye. The end of their deal.
Assistance in return for immunity.
Assistance in return for a new life.
And Lance knew Keith would feel too guilty to ask him to stay.
“If you need anything, ever, you know where to find me,” Keith says, putting his heart in every word.
‘Stay,’ Keith begs.
“Thank you,” Lance answers.
‘No,’ is Lance’s answer.
Lance leaves and doesn’t turn back.
Three towns over he stops at a gas station and rummages through the file. It has everything he was promised, along with Keith’s phone number. Despite his urge to light it on fire and throw it away, he saves it in his contacts and drives to the nearest motel.
It’s cheap. That’s the only nice thing he can say about it.
The lights flicker but manage to stay on while he closes the curtains on all the windows. He locks the door and turns the radio on full blast, heavy metal about Jesus to cover the sounds of his acts of heresy.
He pulls away the carpet and lifts the creaky floorboards, unable to distinguish the banging on his door from the banging on the radio, and finds the cursed duffel bag again. Carefully, he lifts it onto the bed where he first found it, all those months ago.
He fixes the floorboards and tugs the carpet back in place, plugging the radio out more forcefully than he had to. He hated that music, but at least now the entire motel thought he was a weird Jehovah’s witness rather than a potential serial killer.
He unzips the bag and spills the contents onto the bed. The money is still there, along with his fake documents. He handles Her passport as if it were the bible, kissing the biometric little photo of Her. The only thing he had left of his Lady.
The only thing he had left of Allura.
He doesn’t notice he’s crying until his tears drop on her picture, the barriers he’d built to hold back his grief finally crumbling. But nothing comes out save for a few tears and a pained cry. His heart aches, struggling to beat when his lungs refuse to breathe in air. What was the point, even, of anything anymore? Revenge wasn’t going to bring her back. Vengeance wasn’t going to lessen his grief.
He should let go of Keith. Let the clueless fool live on with his life, enjoy the stability Lance had brought into his life by helping him find out the rest of the cult operatives.
Let him find peace in thinking his brother’s killer is gone.
His tear finally slides off the passport, washing Allura’s face with salt water.
No, he couldn’t.
A life for a life.
Lance may have taken away Keith’s brother, but Takashi could never mean to Keith what Allura meant to Lance. She was his everything, his goddess, his world.
A life for a life was not an exchange Lance was going to accept when that life was Allura’s.
Silently, he tucks the picture of Allura in the bed, and lays down to sleep on the floor.
Just like old times.
It doesn’t take much planning, not really.
He packs up all his belongings, checks out of the motel, and drives off. The duffel bag ends up in a cult-owned warehouse the police were left unaware of. With his trap out of the way, Lance stuffs the belongings he wishes to keep in a trash bag and hurls them out his car window. He’ll know where to find them. He drives a while longer, until he’s left city borders, where he gets out of the car, and sets it on fire.
Lance watches it burn for a moment longer, realizing this inferno doesn’t hold a candle to the passion his Lady lit in his heart, and then he runs.
With every beat of his heart, with every breath in his lungs, with every muscle in his body—he runs.
And still the sensation does not compare, nothing earthly could ever compare to Her divinity. The stars in the night sky or the hollow echo of the desert. The longer he stayed, the dirtier he would get, but he had to make Keith repent for his sins. It was what his Lady would have wanted him to do.
He feels the cracks in his bones—there since the day he saw Her dead—scream at him in protest. But he’s close enough now, it won’t take much time. He almost topples the payphone with the force he runs into it, but it stays upright like a hungry gravestone. Lance feeds it a few coins and dials the phone number Keith signed his name under.
The bustling town in the background is nothing but white noise when Lance utters the words Keith knew would come.
“They found me.”
It has the impact Lance desired. And sprinting ten miles has left him breathless enough to convince Keith he’s in the middle of a panic attack. He lists off his location and Keith promises to come get him, and before he can add anything else, Lance hangs up.
And now, all that’s left for Lance is wait for his saviour to come get him.
Keith steps on the brakes too suddenly when he spots him, and Lance cringes. He may have set his own car on fire, but Keith was not the better driver. The passenger car door flings open, and Lance is surprised at the relief that floods him when he sees Keith.
The heart was a foolish, traitorous thing.
He gets into the car and notices the distraught look in Keith’s own eyes. Relief and panic and something else—desperation? Keith had been so sure—Lance was so good at convincing him—that the guard dog didn’t exist. That Allura’s assassin was a made up story to scare her little cultists into behaving. But now he was being pulled back into the frenzy, fear for Lance’s life and vindication in his beliefs tearing his mind apart.
Keith embraces him fiercely, for Lance’s comfort just as much as his own.
Of course, just as Lance suspected, Keith’s first instinct was to hunt the person down.
No matter the beautiful boy in his arms, no matter the peace of mind just beyond his fingertips, no matter the fact that no vengeance could bring back Shiro. That there wasn’t the blood or bullet in the world that could bring his brother back to life.
Keith’s first instinct is revenge, and it’s something Lance likes about him the most.
“He said at a warehouse—” Lance starts, but Keith cuts him off.
“His voice, it—” Lance pauses, never finishes the sentence. So that Keith may believe he’s scared, so that Keith may believe whatever his crazed mind wanted him to. “It’s a warehouse they sold a while ago, it’s not.. It’s not far from here.”
Keith nods, his mouth pressed into a thin line, and reaches out to hold Lance’s hand, still keeping his eyes on the road.
If the heart was traitorous, the mind was the biggest enemy of them all.
Before Lance wins he counts the bullets in his gun. Before he wins he counts the bullets in Keith's.
Before Lance wins he doesn't think of it as winning. Payback. Vengeance. Penance.
He thinks of it as religion. He thinks himself duty-bound. Before Lance wins, he still doesn’t even think of himself as a player, content in his position as guard dog, huntsman, pawn.
He takes a moment longer to leave the car. He prays. While Keith rounds the vehicle and opens his door, Lance places his faith in the arms of a dead woman. A goddess.
Before Lance wins he makes sure to hand Keith his gun, and the detective never even questions why it was in Lance’s hands.
“You should stay back,” Keith says, but Lance can tell by the tone of his voice that Keith wants Lance beside him. That despite Lance’s safety, Keith wants the man he loves beside him when he wins.
What a shame Lance has already won.
“I can’t,” Lance squeezes Keith’s free hand in his. “I can’t let you go in there alone.”
What was, after all, a stage without its actors?
They enter the warehouse—Keith with his gun ready and Lance stepping close behind. But his detective will be disappointed to see his scene abandoned. No murder weapon, no murderer. Just a duffel bag—conspicuous only because it seemed it was the only object from the current decade.
The warehouse is nothing but a skeleton, its life had long since left the body. But Lance had placed an artificial heart in its ribcage—the hollow, broken bones of the shelves can only carry so much. Bait, and nothing more. The last memories of Lance’s love would do.
“This place seems abandoned,” Keith points out, an observation Lance doesn’t deign important enough to answer to.
Abandoned, yes. Now connect the dots, detective.
Keith holds up a hand for Lance to stand back while he approaches the duffel bag. “What did he call you for again?” Keith asks, nudging the bag with the business end of his gun and watching as the contents spill out on its side. Cash and documents and passports spilling from bag to table to floor.
Lance shrugs. “I don’t know, accountant things,” he says, his voice easy and light, causing tension to curl like a snake around Keith’s shoulders.
“Say that again,” Keith’s voice is barely above a whisper, but Lance hears him loud and clear. He reaches for his gun with one hand and tucks his other hand into his pocket.
“Accountant things, you know? Managing funds, knowing about people, whatever they do that a guard dog would have use of. You’d think the police department would do a more thorough check on the people consulting them, but then again, you can’t help it if your detective senses are overpowered by libido.”
“Lance,” the word is full of warning, Keith’s face revealing nothing and everything as he turns and points the gun at Lance.
“Oh, you used much meaner names for me before,” Lance smirks, taking the bullets out of his pocket and letting them all fall to the floor, watching Keith’s heart drop along with them.
Bullets, cash, an opened passport with Lance’s face on it.
Still, Keith feels the need to add onto it.
“It’s you, you’re her guard dog.”
“And you’re the detective that can’t tell the difference between an empty gun,” he clicks the safety off. “And a loaded one.”
A second passes while Lance lets Keith analyze each and every one of their past interactions now that the truth is unveiled. He waits for the realization to finally set in, he waits for that hopelessness, for that light to finally go out in Keith’s eyes. He waits for Keith to give up.
It’s a magnificent sight.
“Lance, wait, please. You don’t have to do this,” Keith begs, letting his useless gun clatter to the floor. “You still have your immunity deal. You can walk away, no one will have to know about this.”
His pleas fall on deaf ears. Lance doesn’t care. He never cared about Keith, and he wasn’t going to start now.
“You shot her three times, you know. Twice in her stomach and once in her heart,” Lance pauses—this would be the third time he acknowledged his Lady was gone. “She didn’t believe she could die.”
“But she was only human, Lance,” again Keith uses his name. Wasn’t Keith aware that his Lady was the only one who could speak Lance’s name? Better yet, wasn’t Keith aware that his Lady was the only person Lance could hear at all? “She was manipulating you, she was manipulating all of you.”
“ Humans manipulate,” Lance curses. “They lie and they deceive and they seduce. She was not a human . She was a goddess . She was more than anything your feeble mind could comprehend,” he shouts, because it was the truth, wasn’t it? Keith was too weak, his mind too frail to comprehend Allura’s light and glory.
“But she’s dead now. Do your gods die, Lance?”
Lance pauses, and for an instant, he realizes he is not a pawn in this game. He is a player, he has been since the moment he sank the stranger’s knife into his chest and watched him bleed out in Allura’s chambers. He’s been a player ever since Allura gently cradled his face and proclaimed him holy. Baptized him in blood and had him sanctified as her guardian angel. Her guard dog. Her huntsman.
He sees hope flicker in Keith’s eyes, and snuffs it out before the idea that he got through to Lance even forms in his head.
“I don’t know, but I know that humans do.”
The bullets enter Keith’s body—as violent as kisses—and he falls back, toppling over the table and the duffel bag which started this whole mess.
Lance loved his Lady, but it turned out she was mortal. A goddess with a limited lifespan.
Death, however, was eternal. And would welcome Lance as His worshipper.
Blood pours out of the bullet wounds in Keith’s stomach like the eternal spring of the river Styx, but Lance must make sure his vengeance, his ritual , is perfect.
“In case you have a heart, detective,” he mutters, and fires the third and final bullet in his gun.
After Lance wins, he sinks to his knees and sighs.
After Lance wins, he prays to his new god.
After Lance wins, he slowly packs up the salvageable swaths of cash and his fake passport, and leaves an inferno behind him.
Flames swallow bullets, blood, and bones. They burn away the last memory of Lance’s beloved Allura, the woman that drove him to madness and lead him back out of it, one violent blood splatter at a time.
And Lance leaves.