Lance dropping casual observations about Keith is a pure and good thing.
They’re on a new planet and Lance is trying out the food at a local festival. He’s thankful for the green goop and Hunk has done wonders in experimenting with the flavor, but sometimes a guy needs a little more variety. Or at least something that tastes like coconut. He grabs some sort of kabob looking thing and takes a small bite. As soon as the flavor hits him, he’s bounding across the room waving the dish excitedly in Keith’s face shouting, “Dude you HAVE to try this, you’re gonna love it.”
It’s hot pink with green stripes an….fuzzy? Keith raises an eyebrow at the striped mammalian horror for a moment, then narrows his eyes at Lance. “It’s not going to turn me green or make me throw up is it?”
Lance rolls his eyes. “That was one time, get over it already. Nothing weird is going to happen, I just know you have a sweet tooth so I think you’ll like it.”
Keith is blindsided by the statement. How does Lance even know that? What the quiznak? He doesn’t realize he’s silently staring at Lance until the blue paladin is waving the food in his face once again. “Are you gonna try it or what?”
Keith brushes the surprise off; he’ll think about it later. “Um… yeah, sure. Stop trying to stab me in the face with it, jeez.”
Keith ends up eating 11 of the seussian skewers before they go back to the castle for the night.
“What are you nervous about?”
Keith’s posture stiffens. He didn’t even hear Lance enter the common room. “What makes you think I’m nervous?”
Lance climbs over the back of the couch to seat himself on it - because he can’t just be normal and walk around to sit like a normal person - before answering. “You’re staring off into space, ha, and messing with the Velcro on your gloves. You only do that when you’re nervous about something.”
“How do you even know that?!” The question tumbles out of Keith’s mouth without explicit permission.
Lance pulls his legs up to cross them and raises an eyebrow. “I pay attention, obviously.” He looks away before adding “So….what’s wrong.”
They talk for a while. It’s not a magic cure, but Keith doesn’t feel like the universe is completely falling apart afterwards. It’s…nice.
Pidge finds the t-shirt on one of their trips to the space mall. It says something along the lines of “Edge Lord” on it in an alien tongue and Pidge thought it was the most hilarious thing they had ever seen an immediately bought it. Keith wrinkles his nose at it, but leaves the room to pull it on anyways. He’s never really had a family, but Pidge is so much like a younger sibling and they looked so proud of the gift. He doesn’t want to let them down. So, he slips it on and marches back into the training deck, determined to not be embarrassed. Which meant that Lance had made his way into the room just before Keith returned, of course.
Lance actually does a double take before he’s consumed with laughter. Keith pouts. When the full body howling finally dies down to more of a giggle, Lance looks over at Pidge. “Is THAT the shirt you bought him?”
They grin, “Yup.”
“God bless you Pidge. I can’t believe you got him to wear it though, Keith hates the color orange.” There’s no time for Keith to wonder how it is that Lance became privy to that information because Lance gives him another look over and grins. “With good reason too. It’s definitely not your color dude.”
Keith immediately pulls the boot off of his left foot and chucks it at Lance’s head. He doesn’t actually throw it hard, but he also doesn’t miss.
Hunk finds a shop that sells space candy on another trip to the space mall a few weeks after the t-shit incident. They look and taste like jelly beans and even come in a myriad of assorted colors. Everyone on the ship is basically obsessed with them. No one brings it up, but the space jellies, as lance loving calls them, remind everyone on the team of home. It’s bittersweet and Coran makes sure the kitchen is well stocked with them.
It’s the middle of the night and Keith can’t sleep, so he drags himself to the kitchen for a midnight snack. Lo and behold, he notices a certain Cuban boy sitting on the counter tossing space jellies in the air and trying to catch them with his mouth. Lance’s antics are ridiculous, but they’re also kind of…. endearing? Keith shakes the thought from his head and rolls his eyes for good measure before making his way to the pantry.
If it had been anyone else, there would have been at least three boxes left and a cold juice sitting there waiting for the taking. BUT it’s Keith, so that means the last box of space jellies is currently being consumed by Lance who rattles a half finished box and says, “Looking for these?”
When Keith turns to face him, Lance is grinning from ear to ear. It’s definitely not cute. “You took the last one.”
Lance’s smile doesn’t falter at Keith’s grumpy tone. “Sure did.”
Keith huffs and turns back to the pantry, resigns himself to grabbing a bag of little pea shaped things that taste like banana at first, but leave a burnt toast aftertaste. Pidge is obsessed with them, Keith doesn’t really get it but he needs something to snack on so he sits a the table and tears opens the bag.
A few minutes go by and the silence is only broken up by Lace humming a few bars of some song Keith has never heard before. He likes it though and he’ s almost tempted to ask Lance to hum it a little louder. But that’s weird. So he just stares at his pea things and occasionally places one in his mouth.
A box is suddenly placed in front of Keith as Lance slides onto the seat directly across from him smiling. “You like the black ones, right?” He says it with an air of confidence that only Lance possesses but there’s some sort of undertone to it that Keith can’t quite identify. Fondness maybe?
Keith shifts his gaze from the boy in front of him back down to the box of space jellies. There are quite a few of Keith’s preferred jellies in there and it almost seems like Lance had planned on saving all of them for Keith before he even came into the kitchen. Keith pushes the thought away and looks back up at Lance to mutter a thank you. When Lance smiles this time it’s blinding and genuine. Keith has to avert his gaze yet again, because when Lance gives him that specific brand of smile… his heart starts to do weird things.
The humming starts again and when Keith is done with his jellies they clean up and Lance walks him to his room. The “Goodnight” Lace utters before heading to his room is accompanied with a small wave and a soft smile. Keith falls back to sleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.
They’re sitting side by side on the floor of the bridge staring upwards at the holographic image of Earth’s sun and all of the stars surrounding it. It doesn’t happen every night, not that there’s really a night or a day in space, either way they should both be asleep at these time none the less, but it’s not uncommon for one of them to find the other sitting by a window looking out at the endless space that surrounds them at all times now.
Sometimes they just sit together in comfortable silence. Sometimes they make up stupid constellations to make one another laugh. Occasionally they’ll both lay down next to each other as they look out a window at an unfamiliar planet and talk about all kinds of things in muted tones.
Tonight though, there was something about the look in Lance’s eyes that made Keith take him by the wrist and lead him to the bridge to look at the familiar stars they’d both grown up staring at.
Keith smiles as he points to another cluster and says, “That’s Lyra.”
Lace looks up. “It’s small.”
“Yep.” The red paladin nods. “It’s the 52nd constellation in order from largest to smallest, but Vega is part of the constellation and that’s the fifth brightest star in Earth’ s night sky.”
Lance pulls his legs to his chest and rests his chin on his knees. “Isn’t there a myth behind it about a musician or something?”
“Yeah, Orpheus. The story is pretty sad actually.”
Lance spares Keith a glance paired with a smirk before looking back at the hologram. A half smile shouldn’t twist Keith’s stomach like that, but it does. “Greek mythology usually is Keith.” There’s a brief pause before Lance turns back to Keith again and asks “Will you tell me the story?”
This time Lance doesn’t look away. His gaze is fixed on Keith and the expression he’s making and the tone of voice he’s using isn’t quite as unfamiliar to Keith anymore as it was four months back. In fact, he gives Keith that look every night they sit together under the stars, and sometimes throughout the day when he thinks no one is looking, or when he catches Keith laughing at one of his jokes. Lance looks at Keith like precious, like he’s the most beautiful thing in the universe and it never fails to make Keith’s mouth go dry or increase his heartrate.
“You don’t want to hear me ramble about some random Greek tragedy.” He can’t look away from those eyes. Who awarded Lance the right to have such perfect blue eyes? They’re the pools of water you land in when you’ve followed the river down the waterfall and Keith has never been a strong swimmer. It’s not fair.
“I do.” Lance sounds so sincere. Why does he have to sound like that? Why is his voice so soft and fond? Two syllables came out of that mouth. Simple words, three letters, one space between the first and the last two when written down, and they still manage to knock the breath from Keith’ s lungs.
When it’s just him and Keith, Lance is different. The obnoxious jokes, and the issuing of lame little competitions between the two of them, and the occasional bickering are all still there even when they’re alone. Keith just feels like there’s something…extra. Like bonus content you only get when you’ve purchased the collector’s edition of a game or something. Lance’s edges get softer and he’s more honest about what he’s feeling when no one else is in the room. He’s a little more sincere, more prone to being serious, and it’s stunning.
“Please? I like to hear your voice.” Keith still can’t manage to tear his eyes away from the boy sitting next to him, and he knows. He knows that he’s beat red. It’s so, so embarrassing, but he still takes a deep breath when his lungs figure out how they’re supposed to work again and he starts telling the story.
“So, you were right. Orpheus was a musician, but not like any run of the mill musician, he was the best harpist in all of Greece, even the gods acknowledged his talents.” Lance whistles and Keith tries very hard to not be distracted by the way his lips pucker to make the sound. “Umm…. So, on his wedding day his wife, Eurydice, got separated from the wedding party and got bit on the heel by a snake while she was running away from a Satyr with… less that pure intentions and died.”
“That’s awful.” It’ s almost a whisper.
“Yeah, it really is.” Keith pauses for a moment to silently mourn a fictional nymph. Which, okay yeah it’s probably dumb, but whatever. If Keith had learned anything in the last six months of constant warfare, it’s that patience yields focus and you should always respect the dead. He continues, “Anyways, Orpheus was so heartbroken that he decided to take a journey to the underworld to strike a bargain with Hades to get her back. So when he got there he just started playing this song, and it was so beautiful that even the stones around them start crying and it moved both Hades and his wife Persephone’s hearts or whatever, so Hades cut him a deal.”
“He told Orpheus that if he started walking to the gates of Hell Eurydice would follow behind him and be returned to the world of the living, but only if he didn’t look back at her until they were both out of Hades’ domain. So he walked and walked and had to keep reminding himself that no matter how much his heart told him to, he couldn’t look back. So, when he reached the upperworld he finally looked back, except he forgot to account for the fact that Eurydice could be farther than a foot behind him. She hadn’t reached the entry yet, so she was dragged back down to stay in the world of the dead.”
Lance makes a small sound, whining sound. It’s the same sound Lance always makes when he hears something sad or sees wounds on a comrade after a battle. Keith reaches a hand out to push Lance’s bangs back partly because he knows it’s the easiest way to sooth the blue paladin, and partly because it was an excuse to touch him.
He pulls his hand back, not without reluctance but he still has the rest of the story to tell and being mesmerized by Lance melting under his fingertips would be a little too distracting for Keith to remember how words work. “After that he only ever played sad music. There are a few different versions of how the myth ends, but the one that’s told most often is that in his grief he didn’t pay tribute to the god of wine and he was torn limb from limb as punishment. The muses carried his harp into the sky to form Lyra and immortalize Orphus’s tragedy in the night sky.”
All at once there’s a weight on Keith’s side that was not previously there. Lance had closed the small space between them so that he could rest his head against Keith’s should and lean into him.
Lance makes an amused sound. “Of course your favorite constellation in the sky would be the one with the with the most depressing love story behind it.”
Keith furrows his brow. He’s been pointing out different constellations all night and he just doesn’t get how Lance picked out his favorite one so easily. His heart does something weird again. It’s painful and also… pleasant? warm? nice?
Keith does it too, though. Off of the top of his head he could tell you that Lance hates everything remotely flavored like cooked carrots, but will eat anything that tastes like raw ones. He could write poems about how Lance always worries his bottom lip with his teeth when he’s not quite sure what to say. He could almost list all of the names of the people in Lance’s absurdly large family in alphabetical order and tell you at least two facts about each one of them. Keith could tell you all about how Lance mumbles under his breath in Spanish when he’s scared or exhausted. It wouldn’t sound as pretty, but he could hum you all of the songs Lance sings when he’s happy.
Keith know without a shadow of a doubt why he remembers every tiny detail that Lance has ever revealed to him. There wasn’t a specific moment he realized he was in love with Lance, it had been happening slowly for a long time now. And, yeah, Keith thinks he has an idea as to why Lance knows so many small truths about him too. He’s just… never asked for confirmation. So he plays with the velcro on his gloves for split second before deciding to take them off completely and setting them aside. He burns a hole in the projected image of Earth’s sun and bites the bullet.
“Why do you keep doing that?”
Lance lifts his head from Keith’s should and settles his chin in it’s place so that he gets a better view of Keith’s profile. “Doing what?”
Keith musters up the courage to turn his face and look directly into Lance’s eyes. Their noses are almost touching now. “Noticing all of these… I don’t know, these like, obscure little things about me that no one else notices. Like knowing I like black space jellies when I’ve never actually vocalized anything about that, or remember when Hunk tried to shove that plant in my face so I could smell it and you swatted it out of his hands because it looked like a tulip and you remembered I was allergic to them. Or knowing that my favorite color is blue and that my least favorite is burnt orange.”
“To be fair burnt orange is an awful color in general.”
“Okay, yeah, but you always know when I’m upset, or nervous, or happy because of some weird hand gesture that I usually don’t even know I’m doing until you point it out. Why do you know all of those things Lance? Why do you remember them?”
One of Lance’s eyebrows quirks up and he teases, “Do you really want to know?”
Keith let’s out an exasperated breath. “Well, I asked didn’t I? So yeah Lance, I want to know.”
The smirk falls off of Lace’s face and he shifts himself to sit on his feet so that his body is facing Keith’s. Lace keeps his eyes trained on the floor, looking like he’s waging some sort of internal battle, and when he finally looks back up at Keith there’s determination burning in his expression and maybe a little fear.
Lance opens his mouth to speak…and then he closes it. He does this four times before bringing his folded hands up from his lap to cover his face. Lance complains into his hands in hushed Spanish.
When he peaks out from between his fingers and then drops them uselessly back in his lap, his cheeks and ears are an adorable shade of red and he smiles at Keith sheepishly. “You know, for someone who talks so much, I’m really not all that great with words when it comes to stuff like this.”
The words are accompanied by a self deprecating laugh. Keith frowns and tries to make his voice sound encouraging when he says “Take your time.”
Lance smiles, but there’s a bitter edge to it. “That’s the thing though, all I’ve been doing is taking my time. I’m kind of sick of it honestly. I keep trying to find the exact right words to say to you and I practice in my head and then as soon as I consider opening my mouth to say it, I just forget how to talk or I say something dumb. And it’s just so ridiculous, you know? Because it doesn’t have to be some drawn out dramatic speech like I keep telling myself. It’s actually just so stupidly simple and I don’t get why I’m so scared to mess it up. But really, how hard is it to say “because” and follow it up with three words? I look at you an I just…” Lance stares at him. “I just…” Lance lifts his hands and places them on either side of Keith’s face.
Keith’s heart is trying to make its great escape by bludgeoning it’s way out of his chest. He’s pretty sure his entire rib cage is turning to dust and his body is down a set of lungs. They’ve just ceased existing. What are lungs? No clue, never heard of them.
“Keith.” Lance’s voice cracks just a little when he says the name and he swallows and starts again. “Keith. Keith Kogane. My buddy, my pal. I know that you have a sweet tooth, and that you love a good hug but don’t know how to ask for one when you need it. I know that you’re smart, and talented, and think butterscotch candies are the sole creation of the devil himself.”
Keith can’t help the laughter that escapes him and it makes Lance smile the way he always does when Keith so much as chuckles.
“I know that you have the best laugh I’ve ever heard. You have no idea how much I love that laugh. Seriously. I know you collect snow globes, and love conspiracy theories-”
“They’re not all just theories Lance, there’s a lot of evidence out -”
“Shhhhhh, you asked me a question and I’m trying to answer it and I’m kind of on a roll after mumbling for five minutes about how this wasn’t going to be some drawn out thing. But I’m just focusing on you instead of some practiced speech and I’m actually forming mildly coherent sentences, so be quiet. I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.”
“I know a bunch of tiny little facts about you, and yeah sure part of that is because I’m super observant and totally cool,” he winks, “but I notice all of those things specially about you because…” Lance swallows hard and takes a calming breath. “I lo-”
Keith has been told many times that he gives into impulses too quickly, that he’s too impatient. And…yeah, it’s true, absolutely, and he’s working on it. No, really, he is! Try as he might though, he couldn’t handle another second of wanting to kiss Lance and not doing it when the opportunity clearly presented itself.
It’s not the smoothest first kiss, but it’s not all teeth and bumping noses either, and it leads into soft drawn out kisses, and kisses that can barely even be called that because the two of them are grinning so wide.
When Keith pulls away a faux pouty expression take over Lance’s face. “You didn’t even let me finish.” He starts to waggle his eyebrows in the most obnoxious way possible and says “These lips were just irresistible huh? I guess I’m just too smoochable.”
How the hell does Keith find this so cute?
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”