Commission for @inarelashionshipwithmyself
had been cranky the last few weeks.
On it’s own that wasn’t too unusual, Lance got cranky about the
About running out of the good face masks and having to use different ones that Allura gave him. About the mice not being in the mood to play with him when he wanted. About getting too little sleep. About getting too much sleep. About an alien he’d never seen before and never would again rejecting his embarrassing advances.
But usually his mood brightened again as quickly as it had soured and this lasting slump was starting to worry them.
Keith wasn’t the first who’d noticed it, he hardly ever was when it came to these things. But after Hunk had addressed Lance’s recent attitude and he’d started to pay attention, the signs couldn’t be ignored anymore.
Usually Lance chattered endlessly during their meals and meetings, now he hardly ever said a word, leaving the group as soon as he could where he’d despised being alone for long periods before.
He seemed tense during training sessions, focused but way too stubborn to really make anything out of it, the slightest mistake throwing him off for the whole day. Keith had caught him more than once on the training deck, using it late into the night, expression hardened and determined.
Whenever Hunk or Shiro or, lately, even Allura tried to talk to him he’d put on a cheery mask and pretend everything was fine before retreating to the shooting range to utterly destroy every target the ship gave him.
Keith didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to reach Lance if not even their most empathetic team members could. He hadn’t felt this helpless since he heard the reports about the Kerberos mission failing.
Until the afternoon he was paired up with Lance for hand to hand combat training.
“That’s – okay, that’s enough”, Lance spat, squirming helplessly where Keith had him pinned, one hand tapping a fluttery rhythm against the floor. “I yield! Fuck, I yield!”
Keith furrowed his brows, not used to the other boy giving in this easily, but he still stepped back, offering Lance a hand to help him get up.
Lance scoffed and slapped the hand away, pushing himself upright. Frown deepening Keith watched him.
“You okay?”, he asked, wiping sweat from his forehead. They’d been sparring for a while already. Where Lance had been almost tenacious in the beginning the fire in his eyes had subsided with every failed try to overpower Keith, every time it was him tapping the mat instead.
Now he leveled Keith with an icy glare but instead of getting back into stance he turned away.
“Leave me alone”, he mumbled before he left the training deck.
Shiro perked up from where he was pinning Hunk against the floor, the yellow paladin about to twist free from the hold and counter it when he also noticed Lance’s retreat.
Allura stepped forward, hands on her hips as she called after him: “Lance! Lance, we’re not done, where do you think you’re…”
“It’s okay!”, Hunk called, having used the distraction to free himself and scramble to his feet. “It’s okay, I’ll go get him!”
“No”, Keith said, body moving before he could even think about it. “I’ll go, I’ll talk to him…” He could feel their eyes on him, skeptical and unsure. Could hear the breath Hunk took, the careful “Um, Keith buddy…”
But he just shook his head, going for the doors.
“I got this.”
As expected he found Lance in his room, already changed halfway out of his armor, the leg pieces still clinging to his body.
“I told you to leave me alone”, Lance mumbled, no emotion to be heard in his voice, but Keith still stepped further into the room, arms crossed and face determined.
“Yeah”, he answered, taking a look at the helmet and armor pieces Lance had put on the table for now. “But I wanna know what your deal is. You’ve been … weird.”
Lance huffed a dry laugh and shook his head.
“I’ve been…? No. Nothing. No deal, everything’s just … peachy.”
“Bullshit.” Keith shook his head. “You can tell Hunk and Shiro that. Because they want to … respect your privacy or whatever. But something’s wrong. I wanna know what.”
Lance groaned, throwing another armor piece onto the table.
“What, so you can feel even better about yourself? Just go away!”
Keith huffed and leaned a hip against the desk, trying to catch Lance’s gaze but the blue paladin already turned away from him again.
“Listen”, he began, not quite sure where this would lead but just going with it for now. “Just because you can’t beat me at hand to hand doesn’t mean…”
“Hand to hand? What can I beat you at then?”, Lance spat, whirling around to finally meet Keith’s gaze and there it was again, that fire he’d seen at the beginning of the training session. “You’re the amazing pilot, the martial arts expert, the brave one everybody loves and wants to be like! What else is there, what else … what else can I contribute?”
“You … you want to be like me?”
“Oh piss off!”, Lance cursed, turning away again with an exasperated huff. Slowly but surely Keith began to suspect he really wasn’t the right one for this job, that he was only making worse. Maybe he should retreat and send one of the others instead, to settle what he’d done wrong.
“I’m … I’m not good at this”, he began, already setting up to excuse himself when he had an idea. “At uh … talking to people. When they’re upset.”
“Oh really…” Lance’s voice was dripping with sarcasm but Keith pressed on.
“Or just in general. I just can’t seem to … connect with others. I’m not good at that. You are.”
Even though Lance’s back was turned to him Keith could see how he froze, head tilted a little. Listening. He took his chance and went on.
“Remember when we were on that desert planet and neither Pidge nor me could convince the aliens to let us evacuate them? But then you came in and only needed two minutes with their leader to make them trust us?”
Lance shook his head.
“You were still wearing your helmets, that was rude to them.”
“Yeah but we didn’t know! We never would have figured that out if you hadn’t!” Keith took a careful step forward, around Lance, to look at him again. Some of the tension had seeped out of the other boy’s shoulders and his expression wasn’t quite as hardened as before.
“Yeah”, Lance mumbled. “You guys would’ve been lost without me.”
“We would have been!”, Keith insisted, still not sure what he was doing, only that it seemed to work at least a little.
“And … and that’s not the only thing! You’re … you’re a great shot. An incredible shot! There’s a reason your bayard is a rifle and mine is for close combat. You’re our long range guy, yeah? You don’t have to beat me at hand to hand when you can beat me in a shooting competition any day. And your bond with your lion…”
That was apparently the wrong thing to say. Lance rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Yours is better. The things Red does for you, it’s crazy…”
“Oh god!”, Keith groaned, throwing his arms out. “Stop comparing yourself to me! You’re your own person! And you bring your own skills to the team! We all need you and if you can’t see how much Blue adores you, you’re an even bigger idiot than I thought!”
There was a pause, Lance squinting at him as if deciding to trust him or not. Keith stubbornly held the gaze.
“You mean that, don’t you?”, Lance asked after a while, expression shifting from suspicious to thoughtful. He sucked his lower lip into his mouth, biting down on it.
“In case you haven’t noticed”, Keith said, posture relaxing again. “I’m also a really bad liar.”
Lance huffed another dry laugh at that but the creases around his eyes vanished as he relaxed.
“You really are”, he smiled tentatively and Keith couldn’t even bring himself to be mad at him. Not when he just coaxed a smile out of Lance. The first one in weeks.
Then Lance reached out to take his hand, squeezing it tightly, and Keith was way too surprised to react. The grip around his fingers was strong and warm, oddly pleasant.
“Come with me”, Lance said, tugging him towards the door without a care in the world for his half dismantled armor.
“What … where…”
“Shooting range”, Lance answered, completely nonchalant with a little shrug. “Wanna beat your ass at something right now.”
Keith snorted but let himself be dragged away. If that’s all it took to make Lance smile again he’d lose a hundred shooting competitions against him.
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