At least for Lance. Because that smile on Keith’s face is not new, it has always been there underneath a mask, but the softness of it is.
Dark sunken eyes are not gone, fighting a war on the front row does that to you, but they are missing an edge on them. Something that used to make them look unwelcoming and off limits.
And the hair. It always comes down to the hair.
Lance smiles to himself at the sight that has been in front of him for so long and hasn’t noticed. He smiles at Keith and takes in the sight of him being content, happy by being surrounded by their found family.
Keith for his part doesn’t notice, he never does. He laughs and rolls his eyes playfully as Hunk continues to offer silly theories on their current discussion. And Keith offers his own, joining the playful conversation that makes Hunk both laugh and grin proudly.
There was a time Keith wouldn’t even be there with them. Where he would just be in the corner by himself, arms crossed over his chest. Sulking, brooding. Maybe both.
Maybe neither. Maybe it was longing. Sadness, even.
Now, Keith accepts the love they offer him. And Lance wants to give him more, more, so much more.
But Lance only stares. Keith’s smile and eyes are too pretty, always have been. How dare they.
He looks away from them. Because if he doesn’t then he will fall. Harder, deeper.
Lance focuses on the hair. Again. It’s always the hair.
But dammit, it’s also pretty and long. It’s so long now, it’s not even a mullet or even ugly for that matter.
Shouldn’t he cut it? Maybe even use a clip? A ponytail could be effective, maybe even a braid. Which, being fair, would be cute.
Lance blinks, confused by the sudden sound that he hears before he meets a pair of dark blue eyes and then reality punches him in the stomach.
He freezes, lips pursing themselves in embarrassment as his hand stays near Keith’s cheek from where he had tucked his bangs behind his ear.
And it’s such a pretty shade of red that spreads over his ear, the very same one that grows on Keith’s cheeks. Lance wonders if it spreads over Keith’s neck too.
“Um!” Lance chokes out, snapping out of his trance and quickly pulling his hand away. “N-Nothing!”
“I, I didn’t say anything…” Keith mumbles quietly and having half of his hair tucked in behind his ear makes his eyes look bigger. Brighter.
“Just - just cut your hair, jeez!” Lance shouts, feet already walking away without his consent. Thank you, Feet. “It’s - it’s too long!”
“Lance!” Shiro suddenly yelps, stumbling from where he stands slightly when Lance crashes with him on his back.
Where did he even came from? “Oh, shoot! Sorry, Shiro!”
“Wow, that was…something,” Hunk snickers, hand covering half of his grin. He sends a funny look towards Keith, eyebrows wiggling. “You okay there, buddy?”
Keith doesn’t answer. He lifts his hand high enough to touch the edge of his ear. He watches as Lance walks away with Shiro, being held back by the man because ‘there’s no running in the halls, Lance’ and his chest clenches.
Keith tries to mimic the brunet’s action from before and he hums sadly when his fingers don’t bring him the warm feeling Lance’s have brought.
Maybe it was a Lance thing.
Keith smiles to himself, small but content, and turns back to Hunk as the younger man brings their conversation back to life. There’s no way Keith’s cutting his hair now.
Anybody else ever think about that time Hunk was berating them all for not listening to him about Rolo and Nyma and Keith kept trying to placate him and how every time after that that Hunk had a suggestion Keith would take the time to consider it and then usually went “Hunk’s right”?