circling the atmosphere
Part 2 of @vldangstweek: March 19th-Failure/Insecurity
Lance isn’t stupid.
He knows, alright. He knows he talks a lot. He knows he’s loud. He knows his voice grates, he knows he’s too exuberant, too desperate to be friends. He knows he wears his heart on his sleeve and shows it all too fast, too freely. He knows he’s just too much for people.
(That doesn’t stop him from wishing, though.)
He tries, sometimes. To be quieter, to be calmer, to be…less. He tries so goddamn hard, but it doesn’t matter because he always, always ends up reverting back to his regular self anyway. It doesn’t seem to matter what his intentions are, he always says the wrong thing, always takes a joke too far. It’s clear he just don’t know when to shut up.
(He can’t actually remember anyone telling him that in so many words, but it’s pretty clear that people think it, from the way they stop talking when he walks in a room, to how in group projects his suggestions are ignored, to his just total and complete inability to make lasting, meaningful relationships with people that last longer than a month before he’s inevitably replaced. He doesn’t blame anyone for it, though. It’s fine. He doesn’t really like himself, either, so it’s not a surprise when others don’t.)
Of course, that doesn’t make it hurt any less when he sees it happen. He’s still not really surprised, though, as he watches Hunk drift further away and get closer to Pidge and Keith. Sure, he’d…well, he’d hoped, for a while, and after the Garrison, where Hunk stuck pretty close to him, back when Pidge didn’t really want anything to do with them, he’d thought that maybe…but it didn’t matter.
He’s glad that Hunk’s finding people he cares about, who care about him in return, who don’t always say the wrong thing and make matters worse. If Hunk is happy, then Lance can’t begrudge him that. Pidge has been happier, too—more prone to smiling or making jokes, and less afraid to squeal over new tech she finds. How selfish would someone have to be to be bitter about that?
(About as selfish as Lance is, he’s discovered.)
Still, no matter how much it hurts, it’s still a relief, of a sort, to know that he was right. He hates not knowing what’s going to happen, and even though this whole situation really sucks and he might feel a bit like his chest is being crushed and his hands won’t stop shaking and his stomach feels sick and it’s late at night and he’s crying and he just can’t stop and it’s hard to breathe, at least he knows that he was right.
He’s a placeholder, you see. One of those characters in a show that exists only to serve as an old childhood friend that’s mentioned maybe once in a flashback and never again. Sometimes, when he looks at his life, as he sees everyone drawing away, he feels like he’s watching a movie—one he can interact with in some capacity, but not such that he has a lasting effect on the plot.
(It’s literally never occurred to him that when these people on his team and even his family tell him they care about him they mean it, because he while he can see how deeply they care for each other, it seems like a physical example of that old ‘sounds fake but okay’ meme from when his grandparents were young whenever they try to pretend to direct any affection towards him. It’s pretty clear they’re making it up as soon as they feel they’ve satisfied their daily quota, anyway.)
Lance is, and always has been, an afterthought. An “oh wow it might be awkward for just the two of us to hang out since I haven’t seen you in six months—maybe we should invite Lance, too, because he hung out with us back when we were all still living near each other and is pretty good at just spewing out enough words to keep it from being awkward” kind of thought. He doesn’t expect people to think of him, to try to reach out. He’s used to being the one to reach out, to try to get together, to reminding people that he exists.
Most days, that’s okay.
(Well. It’s not, but if it’s all he’ll get, then Lance will take it.)
Most days, when he watches people he hoped would care about him slip away, he can ignore it and move on.
(He can’t, he never could, but he lies to himself all the same.)
Right now, though? Right now, watching Hunk—Lance’s favorite person in the entire universe—draw away from him and grow closer to Pidge, who’s only rarely showed any sort of affection towards Lance, hurts more than he’d ever expected it could.
He can take Shiro not liking him. He can take Keith not caring about him. He can take Pidge’s annoyance, Allura’s dismissal, Coran’s lack of attention—Lance can take a lot.
He thought he’d be able to take when Hunk inevitably left, too.
(Clearly, he was wrong. Again.)
Maybe he’s not as smart as he’d thought, after all.
(If he was, then maybe he’d know what he needed to fix to get people to stay.)
(That’s the worst part, he thinks. He could at least try, and see if that helped any, if only he knew what it was about him that chased people off—it could be one of a thousand things, or it could be all of the thousand things, and Lance just does not know.)
But in the meantime, he’ll get up and smile and pretend it’s fine and he’ll watch as Hunk and Pidge spend more time together, and he’ll draw back and maybe this time the mice won’t scurry out of the room, and maybe he’ll at least have them for company.
(He just wants someone to stay, but he doesn’t blame anyone for leaving.)