Richie Tozier hasn’t spoken a word to anybody since he came to Derry in the middle of the school year. Until he talks to Eddie Kaspbrak.
He sits in the back of the classroom with his head on the table and his eyes closed, chocolate curls dancing along his forehead and plump lips curled into the most beautiful frown. Nobody knows why he’s here, or where he’s come from, just that he smokes expensive cigarettes and smells like an adult’s cologne. Sixteen-year-old Richie Tozier has not spoken a word to anybody in the eleventh grade since the first day he arrived—December seventh, Eddie would never forget it.
Keith could have sworn that the universe hated him. Everything he did that week somehow backfired and yeah, it would have been bad if it backfired on him, it would have been worse if it backfired on everyone, but no. It backfired on everyone except him.
It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were small things, which at first it was. For example, at the beginning of the week he had tripped over his own feet and made Pidge spill a drink as he fell on her. Later that day he accidentally brushed against Shiros galra arm, earning a look of distaste from the man. So yeah, it started as a couple small things. As the week progressed they got worse.
It went from spilling pidges drink to dropping her tablet, making it smash on the ground. It went from brushing against Shiros galra arm to absently making a comment about him getting grey hairs in reference to the white tuft on his head (you’d think that he would be over it quickly but Shiro was still mad about it.), it went from normal, average bickering with Lance to calling him attention-seeking and making him cry. Everything that could go wrong, was going wrong. Keith usually had a good filter, he could usually register what was going to make people mad and act accordingly, but not lately.
And here they were, at the end of the week, his biggest fuck-up yet. He was on his knees, hands cuffed behind his back, most of his team beside him and it was all his fault.
He had led them right into the trap.
He had seen a galra soldier stopping to drink from a river while on patrol, the man had set down his weapons and cupped into the water. Keith rushed in an effort to catch him by surprise but almost instantly he was pushed to the ground and cuffed, his teammates getting the same treatment behind him.
“Way to go mullet.” Lance had hissed through his teeth as one of the soldiers pushed his confinement a little too tightly around his wrist. “And how does the great and mighty kogane suggest we get out of this one?” Keith glared daggers.
“I don’t know, since you’re just the best one here, you figure it out!” Keith gave a sarcastic response. Unfortunately for the red paladin, Galra don’t have a sense for sarcasm and Lance was on his feet in a second, being forced towards the river.
“The best huh?” Growled the armoured man that seemed to be in control. Shiro had been quiet this whole time, examining the situation, trying to figure out what to do.
“Put him down!” Pidge yelled at the leader. “Put him down right now!” At that the leader grabbed tightly around Lances neck, making him choke out a phrase that nobody could understand, but it sounded Spanish. Keith’s eyes widened.
“Please take me instead!” He begged, trying to stand without his hands, only to be pushed back to the ground.
“Why would we trade the best for someone who’s not the best?” The galra soldier had a valid argument, “and judging by your will to sacrifice for him, he’s essential.” Lance shot the soldier a look of pure hatred.
Lance was lifted off the ground slightly, making more choked noises and disgruntled words, his feet kicking as the left the ground. Everybody watched helplessly.
Shiro, the man who usually had a backup plan for his backup plan had nothing. But still, even without a plan, had to do something. “Please!” Hunks voice was begging “please don’t hurt him!”
“Do Humans breathe underwater?” The guard asked, turning to one of his second hands, jokingly looking for an answer, “I guess we’ll find out.”
Keith launched himself towards the man holding Lance, moving too quickly for the soldiers behind him to stop him. He pushed into the mans gut, making him yelp in surprise and stumble backwards, dropping Lance. Keith had been too caught up trying to regain his balance that he hardly noticed the splash from beside him.
The galran had dropped Lance and Lance had fallen in. Lance was a great swimmer, but with no warning to catch his breath and his hands behind his back in a river that was god knows how deep. Even he might not make it out.
There was a collection of cries and yells for Lance from the other Paladins and Keith’s gut dropped. He swallowed a breath of air and swung his hands down behind him, jumping and bringing his knees into his chest. His hands were suddenly in front of him and he ran for his bayard that had been kicked from him, dodging a few attacks from Galran soldiers. He picked it up from a pile of all the Paladins bayards and quickly angled it into his cuffs, activating it and breaking them. There were only a few seconds as he put his bayard into his belt and ran to the river, launching himself in. ‘Of all the things you’ve done this week,’ he thought to himself 'don’t let this add to the list.’ He could see lances flailing legs above the surface a ways down the river and as if fate wanted him to see it, the boys back struck on a rock while his head was still underwater, making his body go limp. Keith could only pray that he had passed out and that it wasn’t something worse. He started swimming with the current, quickly making his way down the river towards his comrade.
Lances head bobbed above the surface and Keith was just close enough to see how pale he looked and how his expression was numb and slacked. The white-water flushed over itself with the current and kept pushing them roughly down the passage. Keith could feel his hip hitting the odd rock but he kept pushing on. He wasn’t the strongest swimmer but right now he needed to be. He gasped in lungfuls of air whenever he had the chance before being pushed under again. He was closed now and could see the drops of water making lances hair stick to his head. The blue paladin rolled in the water, his jet pack and neck being the only visable things above the surface. Keith launched his arm for his friend, missing. “Lance!” He called helplessly, trying again, this time gripping onto the collar of his paladin armour. He saw a rock heading for them and looped his fingers into lances waist-band so he couldn’t easy let go. He struggled to swing his feet in front of him, planting them on the rock and pushing to the shore. His free hand gripped aimlessly at roots that grew out of the banks. His fingers caught one and he shoved himself up, his ribs crashing roughly onto rocks on the bank, he tried to shift himself further onto the shore. “How can someone so small-” he grunted as he hoisted Lance up and pushed him onto the bank “be so god damn heavy!” He pushed Lance up before him, then boosted himself up, collapsing behind the Blue paladin, gasping for air.
In his last efforts he pushed Lance onto his back and tried to shimmy his chest plate off, leaving Lance in just his grey spandex under-armour and his leg protection. Keith moved his hair behind his ear and pressed it to lances chest, searching for a heartbeat that wasn’t there. The red paladin pulled away, his gut twisting with nerves, he raised a hand above his head and balled it into a fist, closing his eyes and swinging it down onto lances chest with as much force as he could muster. Lances body convulsed slightly and Keith went back down to his chest.
'Thank god’ he thought to himself, reaching for lances mouth and letting his hand hover over it to check for breathing. 'Shit’ he tipped lances jaw back slightly, plugging his nose. 'Bonding moment’ was all he could think and he internally slapped himself for it as he leaned in and pressed his mouth to lances, exhaling into the blue Paladins lungs. He pulled away and put one hand over his other, pumping on lances torso. 'Do I even have to do this? Isn’t this to keep his heart going?’ He started panicking 'what if I’m doing this wrong oh my god how many times am I supposed to do this again?’ He could feel himself hyper-ventilating as he leaned in again, plugging lances nose and giving Lance another breath.
Lance lurched and pushed Keith off, turning onto his side and throwing up water. His sides heaving. Keith’s chest was rising and falling in an anxiety filled fluster. He leaned on his knees, wanting to ask if Lance was ok and thanking god that he was moving and breathing.
Lance didn’t drown and Keith had finally done something right that week.