the party maria threw for me

When it went pitch black, Lance’s heart stopped. He wanted to scream; the tightness in his chest was getting to a boiling point and he needed to release this anxiety somehow. Tears started to well behind his eyes, and he’d be damned if he was going to cry in front of Keith. The last thing he needed to do was hand him over teasing material on a silver platter.

Knots formed in his stomach and he slumped against the cold paneling of the elevator; ice on his burning skin. Soon, he slowly collapsed on the floor, hugging his knees. Keith’s eyes were on him - he could feel it. Breathing became hard and shallow - coming out as small wheezes and only getting worse.

Then he felt a calm, firm hand on his shoulder. Keith bent down in front of Lace and grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Hey buddy…” He offered a half-smile, but Lance could see the confusion and worry behind it. It was in his eyes, which shone with concern and care instead of something menacing. Keith looks at Lance directly in the eyes, trying to connect with him.

“Can you hear me?” Lance nods.

“Is it okay if I touch you?”

Lance nods. A lot.

“What can I do for you?”

Lance’s mind dances to being a young kid in Southern California. He remembers living in Long Beach with his family. Big gatherings commenced almost every weekend with no particular celebration needed. Thoughts drift to group hugs and dancing; a community. Large, raucous Uncle Louie and Aunt Maria with his cousins - Marco, Tina, Jesse and Luca.

He remembers being held tight when he was sad. When Maria went off to college - she hugged him like she would never let go. When he left for the academy, the party his parents threw was monumental. The whole family was there - and the one thing he remembers is how many people held him like he would never come back.

At this rate, he doesn’t think he will.

Lance finally locks eyes with Keith instead of staring into dead space, “Hold me,” he croaks. It’s more of a pained whisper, more of a quiet, pleading cry. If he was a more lucid, aware man right now he’d high five himself for asking for the contact he craves from Keith. But he knows, and he assumes Keith is well aware too, that this is just because he’s on the brink of a panic attack.

Never would Keith hold him like the way he does when he scoots over and wraps his arms around Lance. The way he pulls him into his chest and rubs his back. He’ll never have the cooing Keith offers him, with encouragement on the side. Lord knows Lance needs this - the contact and the attention and care from Keith. Stupid, mullet Keith that could never return his feelings.

“You’re doing so good Lance just - keep breathing, okay?”

Then Keith does the unimaginable. Right when Lance was starting to relax - to feel comfortable in his own skin again - Keith taunts him. He pulls this move that makes Lance go rigid. His spine surges with heat again and his stomach drops.

Keith plants a soft, tender, completely harmless kiss on the top of Lance’s head. All systems are go and yet they shut down all at the same time from the minimal contact. Freaking out shouldn’t be an option, neither should going stock still, yet Lance can’t help it. It’s only a small gesture: a brush of shoulders, knees knocking, yet it’s everything. The action all Lance could ever want, and so much more. He craves, needs, wants - God does he want. He wants all of Keith, his arms around him, his hands keeping hold and his lips on the crown of his head (among other places).

Keith notices Lance’s change in body fixture. He retracts, starting to pull away, when Lance grabs him by the arm and pulls a bold move. Instead of letting Keith go - like every other fucking time - he tucks himself into his neck. He uses it as a pillow and pulls himself closer to Keith. Soaking up his warmth and care, Lance makes a declaration with the action: “It’s okay.”

“Okay.” Keith says. He holds him closer and whispers another “okay”. Lance hasn’t spoken this whole time, and he thinks it’s starting to freak Keith out. Between the minimal body movement and deadly silence in the stopped elevator, he thinks Keith is on the brink of slowly unwinding.

“How…” he starts, and really thinks through a question before saying whatever comes to mind first (i.e., “how did you know a kiss like that was just what I needed?” or even worse, “how did you know you are just what I need?”)

“How did you know what to do?” Lance asks, small, soft - his voice is worn, but he hasn’t said a word in close to fifteen minutes (a record, for sure).

“Shiro used to have really bad panic attacks.”

“Oh.”

It’s quiet. Keith clears his throat and starts rubbing his hands up and down Lance’s arms from where he has his hold on him.

“Never held him like this, though.”

Lance starts to withdraw, “I’m sorry, Keith,” he tries to pry himself away, “I don’t mean to -”

“No.” Keith pulls him back to his chest, smiling. “It’s okay… I like… holding you like this.” Lance rests his head on the intersection of Keith’s neck and shoulder - where he was before - and thinks he could set up shop here for a while. He thinks he could move into this little spot for years to come. Maybe set up a timeshare - right at this freckle to the left of Keith’s jugular. He likes it here, tucked into Keith, coddled, cradled - cared for.

“I like you holding me like this, too.” Lance’s hot breath against Keith’s neck makes Keith go still and warm. It’s a nice feeling, especially with Lance’s heart beating underneath him. His body is like a warm blanket, pulling him in even though Keith has his arms around him.

“Good, because I’m not letting you go for a while.” He dares press another kiss to Lance’s head and Lance melts into him.

“Okay.”