Keith has never had the luxury of thinking far ahead.
Him and his brother, Shiro, have been on their own ever since he could remember. All they cared about was getting by and scarcely passing each year that was thrown at them. Having enough money for an apartment and groceries had always been top priority.
College has always been something that Keith dreamt about and Shiro wished for him. But after graduating high school, they just didn’t have the money to fund it. Even with possible scholarships, it just wasn’t in the cards for the near future. So here he is a year later, looking for a job to fund his potential education.
This year is different. It’s special, and Keith can feel it. After a lifetime of working themselves to the bone, they both feel stable enough to venture out and try new things. Opportunity is in the air and the dust is beginning to settle.
Despite being turned down by the last five interviews, he hasn’t let the rejection get to him. He has a feeling that even with a lack of post-secondary education, his appearance is one of the main problems for employers. Landing the interviews have been easy because of his previous job experience on his resume. Yet once he turns up for each of them, he can feel the mood shift.
He is almost certain that he answers the questions well, maybe with a lack of charm or charisma, but professionally enough. Keith doesn’t feel the need to dress up much, given that he has been applying to places like coffee shops, arcades, and book stores. Yeah, sure, maybe he looks a little disheveled with his choppy hair, all black attire, and biker gloves. He never thought it was that bad, though.
This next place is different from the others. It’s a small, quite cute (although he’d never admit that), classic fifties-themed diner in the heart of the city. Not what he would normally go for, but as long as he’s making money for his college savings it doesn’t matter.
He got the call last week from the owner to set up an interview, who seemed a lot nicer and less serious than what he’s used to:
“Hello Keith, my boy! Is that you?”
“Uhh yeah, that’s me. Who is this?”
“This is Coran of Coran’s Diner! I was calling about your application, we’d love to have you come down for an interview.”
“Oh, that’d be great. Did you have a day in mind?”
“How does this Monday sound? Let’s say...One o’clock?”
“That works perfectly. Thank you.”
“See you then, make sure to bring a smile!”
He had scoffed at that, “bring a smile”. That definitely isn’t a commonality for Keith. Although, considering he would potentially be talking with customers all day, maybe he should at least work on his communication. He has always been blunt, which gets the job done quicker but doesn’t leave a sparkling impression. Although...smiling all day and being sickeningly upbeat sounds like his personal hell. Maybe not, then. He’ll see what happens.
Monday has rolled around faster than he had expected. He’s normally not the nervous type, but after so much job hunting he is eager to land this one. It took far too long to fall asleep, and he has been so on edge that he decides to wake up two hours earlier than normal.
After rolling out of bed and shuffling to the bathroom, Keith finds himself staring at his appearance in the mirror. He looks more or less the same as always, but after consideration, maybe he should put in more effort for today.
Begrudgingly, he reaches for the sink cupboard, opening it up to a disorganized mess of toiletries. After a minute of sifting through all the containers, he settles on a cheap bottle of hair mousse stuffed at the back of the shelf. How are you even supposed to use this stuff?
An hour and a whole lot of fussing later, Keith has gotten his hair to what he’d consider an acceptable amount of styling. Which, granted, was pretty similar to what he started with. A lot of experimenting was done, including a god awful mohawk he tried for shits and giggles.
The rest was pretty simple after that, all it took was to toss on his usual getup of all black. Except this time, he’s gone for the newest pieces in his closet that fit more snug and looked a tad more cleaned up. Who knows if it’ll change much, but it’s worth a try.
The ride over is quick, lucky for Keith he lives quite close. If he were to get the job it would be an easy commute. Before leaving he makes the quick choice to throw on his favourite jacket: a fitted leather jacket that Shiro had gifted him for graduation. He’s only ever brought it out for special occasions, to avoid ruining it with wear over time. Shiro had encouraged him to put it on for good luck, though.
Coran’s Diner looks the same it always has: a fading, red-painted exterior accompanied by a large neon sign at the entrance, with the “R” in “Diner” burnt out. Keith doesn’t think they’ll ever get that fixed.
He is seated on his bike after pulling into the lot, taking a moment to run his hands through his helmet hair and check the time on his phone.
Two minutes on the dot. Good, not too early or cutting it too close.
It doesn’t take Coran long to spot Keith after walking through the doors. He’s behind the main counter off to the side, scrubbing away coffee stains with a damp cloth. His eyes meet Keith’s at the sound of the door shutting.
“You must be Keith! Looking quite snazzy, aren’t we?” he proclaims joyfully, gesturing at his leather jacket.
“Oh, uh, thanks--and thank you for getting back to me.” he replies sheepishly, stuffing his hands into his pockets. God, he really does need to work on being sociable.
“Oh it’s no problem, my boy! You were the most experienced candidate.” he leans over the counter, resting his elbows on the checkered tiling, before continuing:
“I did notice you aren’t in school, is there a reason for that?” he asks, tilting his head in question.
“It doesn’t matter of course, but I figured someone your age would be focused on schoolwork rather than applying for a full-time position.”
Keith was well used to this question at this point, almost every place he had tried for wondered the same thing. He expected Coran wouldn’t be an exception.
“I’m actually trying to save up for college,” he looks up to Coran’s sympathetic gaze, unaware he had been staring at the ground, “so I’d like to put most of my time and energy working towards that.”
“Ahh yes, I understand. Is there any reason you’re looking to work here ?” Coran replies, twiddling the end of his moustache with his finger.
Keith pauses. “Wait, is this the interview?”
“Would you like it to be?” there is a new underlying smirk that Keith hadn’t seen before.
“Uhh yeah, sure...I don’t mind. I just imagined the typical office and desk situation, but this is okay.” And you know what? It is.
He walks over to the counter. “This feels nice actually...more casual.”
Can Coran tell how antsy he is? That seems impossible, Keith is kinda known for masking his emotions really well. He’s almost being too accommodating though, which makes Keith suspicious.
“Well then, that’s alright with me!” Keith can tell he really means that.
“To answer your question, I don’t mind where I work as long as I make money for my savings.” He figures that isn’t a bad answer, and it is true.
The silence that followed makes Keith regret his answer. Was it too honest? Normally he’d give a typical response about how he’s always longed to work at such a “fine establishment”, but Coran doesn’t seem like someone who’d buy that.
After some pondering, Coran finally stands up. “I’ll tell you what, you seem like a good kid, and this job is pretty easy to pick up.” He begins to walk around the other side of the counter. “I want to help you. I think you could do well as a server, it can improve your sociability.”
“I don’t want you to just hire me out of pit-” Keith nearly finishes, before Coran hushes him.
“Not pity. You’re qualified.” He holds a finger up at Keith in protest. “Plus, you’re already in character!”
“In character?” He responds curiously, looking down at his outfit.
“Yes! That’s our schtick. Every waiter and waitress has their own 50s persona.” Coran announces excitedly, a new gleam shining in his eyes. “You are just what we are missing, the greaser!”
“What, like those guys who wear leather jackets and gel their hair back?”
"Those are the ones! You already have the jacket and demeanor. I can email you an example of the look I want, if you are interested.” He can tell Coran is completely sold on the idea.
“So you’re saying I get to make money, while dressing close to my usual style?” He can feel himself smiling ever so slightly. “I’m definitely interested.”
“Come on, guys! It’s been soooo long since we’ve gone out, I’m dying over here.”
“And you think we aren’t? It’s not our fault that we have more work than you do, Lance.” Pidge replies, clearly frustrated.
“I’m gonna have to agree with Pidge, buddy. I’m way too stressed about this exam.” Hunk chimes in, not looking away from his computer screen.
“You’ve both been working non-stop all week! Don’t you think you deserve a break?” Lance responds, raising his eyebrows at Hunk cheekily. His eyes leave the laptop to look at Lance, face softening at his gaze.
“Don’t give in, Hunk.” Pidge murmurs, unamused.
“I’m just as familiar with Lance’s scheming as you,” he says, shifting in his seat toward Pidge, “but don’t you think he kinda has a point?”
“I knew you would never betray me, hunkalicious! Lance exclaims, throwing his arms over his shoulders.
“Barf.” Pidge deadpans, clacking away at the computer keys.
“Aw come on, Pigeon.” Lance jokes, elbowing Pidge's side.
“It won’t be the same without you.” Hunk adds, cautiously poking at her cheek.
Pidge exaggeratedly huffs, falling back in her chair and crossing her arms in defeat. “If I say yes, will you both leave me alone?”
Lance and Hunk share a familiar look, a silent exchange signalling their victory. “Awww yeah, best bud night out!” They high five and proceed to nearly squish Pidge in a massive group hug.
Pidge wiggles her way out and shoots them a threatening look. “I mean it, guys. After this do not mess with me ‘til the midterm is over.” She saves her document and shuts her laptop, sliding it into her bag with one swift motion. “Is that clear?”
“Crystal.” Lance replies, straightening back to his usual tall and lanky stature. “Give me ten minutes!” He takes off down the corridor, ducking into his room.
“Am I going to regret this?” Pidge asks, looking up at Hunk’s amused expression.
“Nah, Lance is good fun-” Boom. Crash. Followed by a high pitched screech.
They laugh and wheeze, holding their stomachs and wiping tears away. “Okay, maybe.”
Ten minutes later (Lance may be a jackass at times, but no one can deny he’s punctual), he struts out of his room. His hair is slightly fluffed, and the old graphic tee has been exchanged for his classic blue button down.
Hunk and Pidge are waiting for him on the couch, looking exactly the same as they did prior. Hunk claps his hands together. “So, where are we going?”
“No clubs or bars,” Pidge adds “we still have school tomorrow.”
Lance throws his hand to his chest dramatically with a gasp. “I wouldn't dream of it! I may be irresponsible at times but come on, cut me a little slack.” Pidge hums unenthusiastically in response.
“I was thinking good ol’ Coran’s. It’s been weeks since we’ve graced them with our presence.”
Pidge scoffs. “I think Allura is pretty glad we haven’t shown up. She gets more fed up with you each time we go.”
“Okay first of all, Allura loves me and my flattery. Second of all, it’s bro night! Soo I promise to back off...a little...”
“Wow, we’re so lucky such wisdom has struck you today.” She says sarcastically. Hunk quickly gets up from his seat, with purpose. “Flirt as much as you want man. I just miss those sweet, sweet pancakes.”
“Oh my god, breakfast for dinner sounds so good right now.” Pidge replies, staring off as if imagining the food in front of her.
“Coran’s it is, then! Onward!” They grab their coats, keys, and wallets, and make their way out the door.
Lance is happy to see that the diner is pretty slow tonight. Weekday nights usually are, but sometimes there are random events that make the place packed. Through the window he can see their usual booth hasn’t been taken, and the others seem relieved as well. He knows it’s silly to have “a spot”, but after years of coming here together they’ve grown attached.
The familiar warmth that hits his skin as he pushes past the doors is something he didn’t know he missed. The distant sound of a quarter thumping into the jukebox before spurring into song, the buzz of the many neon wall hangings, it all feels like home. The same it has always been, something he can rely on.
Lance hadn’t even noticed Allura walk over to the entrance. She is in her usual pin up look: a polka dot dress with a floofy skirt, teeny heels, a red lip, and her hair twisted and pinned to the sides of her head. She is undeniably gorgeous, anyone with common sense can tell.
“Hey there, princess.” Lance practically purrs.
“That nickname is getting pretty old, Lance.” She gives him her usual side eye glance, body turned toward the other two. Lance knows she’s gotten used to his flirty nature, she always keeps a slight smile and teasing tone with him. Which is most likely because she’s working, however Lance likes to think he has a shot.
“Anyway, it’s nice to see you all! I haven’t spotted you around here for a while.” He knows she means it, too. She’s been their waitress ever since the beginning, during their sophomore year of high school. They’ve all grown up together, in their own way. She is a few years older.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Things have been really hectic at school, we haven’t had the time.” Hunk replies, he’s always been the best at softening the mood in a room. It’s probably what Lance admires most about him.
“Well, you’re here now! Let’s get you to your table.” She begins to lead the way, even though they know exactly where they’re sitting. They could seat themselves by now, but it’s tradition for Allura to greet them.
They sit down at their usual spot, which despite the wear and tear, is exactly the same as they first found it. A cherry red booth, the leather cushioning cracked and torn after many years of love. The table itself is made of some kind of white tile or marble, mounted to the floor after an incident many years ago when Lance had climbed on top of it. He doesn’t think he’ll ever live it down.
“We’re gonna order everything at once, I am dying of hunger.” Pidge says, voice clear and unwavering. She does not mess around when it comes to breakfast food.
“In that case I’ll be right back, just need to grab my notepad.” Allura chirps, strutting away with a pep in her step. Lance makes sure to appreciate her profile as she leaves, turning the corner into the back room.
Lance takes this moment to scan the breakfast options, and the others do the same. They almost always get the same thing, and have practically committed the menu to memory, but it never hurts to double check. They all settle on their usuals, Pidge deciding to substitute her fruit side with fries in order to (in her words) “feed the beast”.
Allura is taking an abnormally long time to grab a notepad. The group has already figured out their orders and she still isn't back. She couldn’t have gone far, the whole place is relatively small with only eight booths lining the walls and a couple tables. Lance brings it up to Hunk and Pidge, who are just as clueless. They shrug and mumble some reassuring notions that she’ll be back soon.
He pulls out his phone and tinkers through his socials to pass the time. It doesn’t take long until he hears footsteps approaching their table, now sensing a presence next to him. His flirtsona (as Hunk would call it) returns as if it never left.
“Miss me already?” Lance coos, closing all the open tabs on his screen.
“Oh my god.” Pidge chokes, holding back a laugh.
Lance snaps his head up to meet her gaze. She’s wide-eyed, almost in disbelief. The largest, most devious grin he’s ever seen is painted across her face. She nudges her head in Allura’s direction.
Only it’s not Allura. Turning toward her line of sight, he is greeted by what seems to be Allura’s polar opposite. He is average height, although in comparison to Lance he would seem much shorter. His hair is gelled back, with a singular strand resting on his forehead. His blue jeans and white tee contrast the black boots, belt and leather jacket adorning his body. Lance has never seen this guy before.
The stranger furrows his brows and curls his lips into a frown, clearly annoyed, which reminds Lance of what he’s just said.
“Oh--I thought you were someone else,” he says monotone and disappointed “do you need to borrow our ketchup or something?”
That comment seems to make this guy more irritated than before. He’s not sure what he’s said wrong this time, though. He doesn’t respond to Lance, instead turning toward the other side of the table where his friends are sat.
“What can I get for you?” He pulls out a notepad and pencil, flipping the cover up to a blank page.
Oh no .
“We’re sorry about him.” Pidge gestures her hand vaguely in Lance’s direction. Hunk nods.
“About who?” the waiter asks, turning to look Lance dead in the eye. “I don’t see anyone.” Lance’s jaw drops and some sort of strangled noise escapes him, unable to formulate a sentence out of pure shock and offence. Pidge cackles.
“Oh, I like you.” she announces, pushing her glasses up deviously.
“Pidge!” Lance finally exclaims, after his many moments of stunned silence.
“You kind of did it to yourself, man.” Hunk reasons, putting his hands up defensively.
“Hunk? Not you, too!” Hunk shrugs in response. “Whatever…” He mumbles, slumping back into his seat feeling defeated.
“Is he always like this?” the waiter asks, back still turned to Lance.
“Basically.” Pidge chuckles. “He’s a really nice guy when he wants to be.” Hunk intervenes, sending a small, kind smile Lance’s way. He hides his face in his collar, mumbling something small and embarrassed. Lance couldn’t stay mad at them even if he tried. They just love to tease.
“Wait--where’s Allura?” Lance practically jumps up from his seat. He can’t believe he forgot. She had left to grab a notepad nearly ten minutes ago.
“Oh, yeah!” Hunk exclaims, turning to Pidge. This confirms Lance’s suspicion that they had forgotten, too. “We’ve never seen you around before.” Pidge chimes in.
“I just started this week.” He says, attempting to shoo away the stray hair on his forehead. It doesn’t do anything. “Allura’s shift finished fifteen minutes ago, she just hadn’t noticed. So here I am.”
He twiddles his pen in one hand, weaving it through his fingers and tapping it against his notebook. The others look around, anticipating one of them to answer. All eyes go to Hunk.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you.” Hunk replies softly. He gestures to the seat beside him. “This is Pidge, I’m Hunk, and-well--you know Lance.” The waiter looks in his direction and lets out a “Hmph.” He looks pretty tired. Lance can’t help but feel a little guilty.
“We’re here pretty often, so this isn’t the last time you’ll run into us.” Pidge cuts in, offering her hand to the waiter. He shakes it.
“I appreciate the warning. Although, you guys seem mostly alright.” he doesn’t look at Lance, yet he can tell that was directed at him.
He takes their orders and heads into the kitchen. Lance notices how different the sound of his shoes are to Allura’s. He’s not sure how he managed to get them mixed up. He looks back to Hunk and Pidge staring at him, giggling.
“I really sucked just then, didn’t I?”
“Yeahhh, that wasn’t your finest moment.” Hunk says, clearly amused by the whole situation.
“I wish I could’ve gotten that interaction on video.” Pidge adds, taking a sip of her complementary water. “You should’ve seen your face, it was hilarious.”
“Ohoho, I am so glad I didn’t see my face.” He half jokes. Lance can imagine it well enough, anyway. He’s sure that mental image will come back to haunt him.
“I feel kinda bad for the guy, though.” Hunk looks out into the restaurant with a hint of worry.
Lance remembers how exhausted the waiter had looked while talking to them. He had eye bags that were just visible enough, and his styled hair seemed to have fallen out of place from many hours of wear. Even when he was banting with his friends back and forth, he couldn't help but feel that he wanted to leave. Not to mention Lance’s comments--he had completely dismissed the dude.
“Yeah, I feel a tad guilty.” Lance confesses, rather sincerely. “Do you think I should say something?”
Hunk reaches over the table and pats Lance on the shoulder. “You didn’t mean it, man.” He falls back into his seat. “I would go and apologize, though. You’re going to see him around and it’s best to be on good terms.”
“Okay, okay…” He shrugs off the lingering feeling of Hunk’s touch. Looking out into the diner, he spots the waiter walking toward a table by the jukebox. Lance sets his palms onto the table, pushing himself up and shimmying out of the booth. He takes a deep breath and looks over at his friends, who give him a thumbs up and a toothy grin.
That alone gives Lance enough confidence to slip back into his usual self, shooting them a wink and a smile, before stepping away from their table.
This shift has been hell.
Coran’s newest hire never showed for their first shift at dawn, leaving only Keith and Allura. But now, just Keith.
He started at 6am, to which he was greeted with a breakfast rush. Luckily over the past week of working, he has more or less learned how to navigate through the hectic mornings. However, it is now approaching 10pm and he can feel the lack of sleep catching up to him.
Just two more tables and he can go home. That’s what he has to keep telling himself. Even if one of those tables has the most annoying customer he's served to date.
Allura had said that her friends at the booth were “sweet, but can be a bit of a handful”.
And, well, handful is one way to put it.
Lance has been the only handful, really. But he’s been enough of a pain for him and his friends. Keith was relatively hopeful when approaching their table, after what Allura had told him, but was quickly disappointed. It didn’t take long for that disappointment to spur into annoyance. This Lance guy has proven to be a real pain in the ass.
When he saw the chance to pretend he wasn’t there, he took it, opting to chat with the two opposite of him. They were quite talkative and teasing, but kind. If he wasn’t so exhausted, maybe he would’ve stayed a bit longer.
Keith knows the guy probably didn’t mean anything by it. Plus, his friends seem to torment him enough about the way he acts. Still, though, when he was disappointed that Allura wasn’t there, he was quite passive and rude. He was expecting some sort of apology...yet there was nothing.
Whatever, he’s too tired for this.
Now that he’s got their orders in, he can focus on the other table. They were a group of four--a small family. So far they’ve only ordered their drinks, which is now on a tray heading their way. He’s trying to get them in and out as fast as possible.
While walking over to drop off the drinks, he vaguely hears a voice inching closer.
“--bother you, I just wanted to say--”
Keith stops and begins to turn toward whoever is speaking. Before he gets the chance, something slams straight into him, knocking the tray out of his hands and onto the floor. He nearly loses his balance, but catches himself.
Wait, not something. Someone .
“What the hell, man?!” If it was anyone else, maybe he’d try to maintain his customer service persona. But this asshole has been on his bad side all night.
“Oh my gosh--oh wow--I’m so sorry--” Lance utters panicked and rushed, crouching down and desperately trying to pick up all the cups. He repeatedly drops them before attempting to grab one again. This just makes the puddle on the floor bigger and bigger. Keith may just lose it. This guy is in such a pathetic state, creating a bigger mess for him to clean up.
“What's your problem? Are you trying to make my job harder??” He grunts, kneeling to the floor and stacking the cups Lance dropped.
“Well for your information, I actually came over to apologize !!” Lance exclaims, standing abruptly and placing his fists on his hips, still clutching a cup in one hand.
Keith gets up after him and scoffs, “Sure you did.”
Lance frowns. “You know what--” he looks down at his name tag, “- Keith ? You don’t deserve my apology.” Keith is surprised he hadn’t caught his name before. Lance begins to stomp away dramatically, but he quickly follows and grabs a hold of his wrist.
Keith snatches the cup out of his hand but his hold stays. He can tell his hair is even more disheveled than before. Pieces fall in front of his eyes but his gaze never falters. He can’t tell if he is going to punch Lance or not. He sure wants to. From the look on Lance’s face it seems that he thinks so, too. Good. Maybe scaring him shitless will help. Get Lance to stop bothering him.
“I’m sure I’ll live.” he says coolly, dropping Lance’s wrist and turning on his heel to walk away. He tends to the puddle on the floor with the rag slung across his shoulder. Who the hell does this guy think he is? God, what a douche. It's one thing to make a sly remark, but "accidentally" causing a mess is another. There is next to no one here, how could he not have...dodged? Stopped? Backed away?
Lance stays put for a few moments before shouting something choked about Keith’s hair looking stupid. Yeah, okay, Keith definitely shook him up. He silently thanks any potential Gods out there that it wasn’t a full house. That would’ve been quite the scene.
He finishes up and says his apologies to the family, who are surprisingly understanding. They tell Keith to get a good sleep tonight and decide to go home, leaving a generous tip. Which he knows was intended to be a kind gesture, but instead makes him feel very guilty. He hates getting things out of pity. Just like this job, even if Coran swears it isn’t true.
That just leaves one table. One dickhead. Then, he can go home.
“That guy is such an ass!” Lance blurts as if he was holding it in, pushing past the doors into the parking lot. “I don’t understand what you see in him.” A cool breeze dances through his shirt causing him to shutter. He wraps his arms around himself. His friends follow.
“Yeahh that...wasn’t what I had in mind.” Hunk says as Lance makes his way into the lot.
“Hey man, I tried! He was such a dick about it!” Lance exclaims, throwing his arms in the air.
He really was, too. Yes, sure, Lance accidentally walked into him. But he tried to help him clean, but Keith didn’t let him. When he told him that his intention was to apologize, he totally dismissed it. Not to mention the sass and death glare the guy sent his way. That’s on him. The rest of the night was really tense after that.
“That guy would totally kick your ass. I thought he was about to for a second.” Pidge says, changing direction and walking into Hunk purposefully. He catches on quickly, putting on a large scowl and giving her the side eye. She places her hand across her forehead and falls dramatically. They both erupt into a fit of laughter.
“Now that time I was filming.” She chuckles, tinkering with the video on the ground. Hunk sighs.
“In your dreams, Pigeon!” He offers a hand and drags her back up, off the concrete. “I’m like a cool, ninja assassin. He’d never be able to get past me.” He strikes a pose, as if ready to attack. Pidge nudges his shoulder playfully, he lets out an “ow.” She laughs at the irony.
His friends begin sauntering over to Hunk’s car--which just so happens to be at the very end of the lot, despite it being nearly empty. This was done on purpose, due to Lance’s influence many years ago. He swears that the walk over will help make up for the unspeakable amounts of calories they consume. Hunk and Pidge agreed that it’s better than nothing.
Lance quickly catches up to them, thanks to his long legs. Pidge looks over her shoulder as he strolls behind. He frowns. Hunk wraps an arm around him and nuzzles his hair. They part, heading for their respective sides of the car. “Don’t worry about it, bud.” He pauses in front of the driver’s door, looking at him across the hood. “It’s not like you’re gonna see the guy every time we come back here!” Hunk lets out a hardy laugh. Lance rolls his eyes and plops onto the front seat. The fresh scent of pine car freshener fills his chest.
“This is going to make trips here ten times more entertaining.” Pidge jokes as she hops into the back. Lance throws an unamused “ha ha” her way.
Hunk plops behind the wheel, shutting the door behind him. “Aw come on, we’re just messing with you.” Hunk teases, poking Lance’s cheek. He smiles at the gesture. “You’d do the same to us.”
“Yeah, yeah, I guess you’re right.” Lance fixes his posture and uncrosses his arms, unaware he had even done so. He’s really tense.
Pidge taps Hunk’s shoulder and rests a finger on the the window. “Is that him?” She questions. Hunk tilts his head and squints his eyes toward where she’s pointing. Lance feels very out of the loop.
“Who?” He asks. No response. His friends stay focused on their gaze.
“I think so.” Hunks replies. He leans closer to wherever he’s staring. “Like, different hair and clothes, but definitely him.”
“Definitely who ??” Lance pleads. His impatience mixed with curiosity makes him crazy in situations like this.
“Yeah-- that’s what I thought, too.” Lance can’t see anything they’re talking about. Pidge’s stupid head is blocking his view. He darts his head around in an attempt to see something, anything .
“Thought about who?? What?? Where??” He’s lost any ounce of cool that he was holding onto. He needs to know.
“Hey!” Pidge objects as he pushes her out of his way. He practically climbs on top of Hunk to get a good angle. He just chuckles in response to Lance's eagerness.
Lance creates a binocular shape with his hands and places them against the glass. There is only one person in the lot besides them, on the completely opposite side. A guy. He can only see the back of him. He’s wearing a black pullover, with a white tee poking out underneath. As he moves his gaze down, he recognizes a pair of blue jeans and black boots. The belt is gone, though. It’s the waiter from the restaurant.
He squints his eyes. “Wait...is that--a mullet??” He must’ve shaken his hair out before leaving, or something. The back, which was previously gelled in place, is now wild and free. It reaches down to his shoulders.
Lance falls back in his seat. “Oh my god. Keith is hiding a mullet. This is gold.” He says, resting his arms behind his head. He’s clearly content with this new discovery.
“I don’t think he’s hiding it, Lance.” Pidge says, interrupting Lance’s moment of victory. “He works at a 50s themed restaurant. A mullet is like...the wrong decade.”
Hunk hums in agreement. “Please don’t tell me you’re gonna milk this.” He adds. Lance wags his eyebrows at him.
“Oh I totally am.” He extends an arm and points in Keith's direction. “I may have lost the battle today, mullet-man, but I will win the war.”
“You sure about that?” Pidge questions.
Lance opens his mouth to respond, but notices her attention isn't on him. She is gesturing at the window for the second time. He leans forward next to Hunk’s shoulder, gazing outside once more. Then, he sees it. Keith is on a bike. Not just a regular bike. A motorcycle . They all watch in silence as he rides off into the night.
“Looks like you’ll need better material than mullet jokes, pal.” Hunk jokes, pulling his seat belt over his chest. Lance's back hits his chair with a thump, feeling a little defeated.
Lance is fuming. He could try to protest all he wants that motorbikes are lame, but who is he kidding? They are the cool thing in every movie, commercial, music video--you name it.
“Of course he has a motorcycle! The universe hates me, Hunk! Hates me!” He throws his hands over his face. Pidge is cracking up at the spectacle he’s putting on. He can’t even bring himself to care.
“The universe would like it if you put your seat belt on.” Hunk replies, reaching over and doing the job himself. Lance whines and pouts.
“Looks like you have some competition.” Pidge sneers, resting her arms across the back of his headrest. This cheeky side of her is really shining tonight. “That guy has dry wit and good looks, plus he gets to work with Allura all day . And now he’s got a motorcycle?” She leans back, kicking her shoes up between him and Hunk. “Game over.”
Lance groans. It takes him a few moments to process what she’s just said. Once he does, his eyes shoot up and his hands drop from his face. He practically whips his body around to face her.
“You don’t think Allura likes him, do you??”
“I wouldn’t blame her if she does.”
“Pidge! You’re supposed to tell me I’m wayy smarter, charming, handsome…”
“In what world do you think I’d say that?”
“You’re losing some serious friendship points right now.”
“Oh no, how will I ever go on.”
“You just lost some more.”
“Okay, okay!” Hunk interjects. He places a hand on Lance’s shoulder, ever so softly. “As much as I love teasing Lance, I also love sleep. So I’d like to drive home now in peace and get some.”
Lance and Pidge don’t fight it. Hunk has always been the mom of the group, they always know he’s right about when to settle down. Their words hang in the air.
Hunk starts up the engine, fiddling with the heating and radio for a few moments. Pidge takes that as her cue to buckle up. They reach the end of the lot, which separates the car park and the road. Lance can feel the mood settle and warmth fill the car. Jesus, he's tired.
“I think you’re pretty cool.”