lysapadin: pen & ink painting of bamboo against a full moon (Default)
[personal profile] lysapadin
Title: Rapid Escalation
Characters/Pairings: Keith/Lance, Pidge, Hunk
Summary: Pidge and Hunk finally give Keith a hint to explain Lance's behavior, and after that, things escalate.
Notes: The obligatory "Pidge and Hunk explain the obvious and nature takes its course" Keith and Lance fic. Some not-very-explicit smut and two very clueless boys. 3099 words.

~~~~~~~~~~


Rapid Escalation

"What the hell," Keith says in the wake of yet another one of Lance's utterly baffling outbursts. Everything about the mission they'd just finished had gone off without a hitch; the only mistake Keith can see is that he'd told Lance they'd made a good team after the debriefing. "What brought that on?" He can't see why complimenting Lance ought to make him so angry, though it's enough of a pattern by now that he really should be able to see it coming.

Keith means the question rhetorically, but Pidge and Hunk are both standing there outside the castle-ship's control room, too. He knows he's not great with people, but on the other hand, they're his team and have been for what, three years now? Four? So he knows them pretty well and can read the glance they exchange as long-suffering. "What?" he demands. "What is it?"

They share another look; Hunk is the one who ventures, "Nothing?"

And again, he's bad with people, but not that bad. Keith frowns at them. "It didn't look like nothing. Is there something you know that I don't?"

Hunk brightens. "Oh, sure, I mean, there's the Sarnat coefficient, that's—"

Pidge rolls her eyes and elbows him. Hunk stops to look down at her, and they share another of those cryptic looks. "I think we should tell him," Pidge says. "He's never going to get it on his own."

Keith considers being offended, but honesty compels him to admit that Pidge probably has a point there. Pidge prefers robots to people and still manages to deal with people better than he does, and Hunk might actually be the best-adjusted person on the whole team. And if they know why Lance is the way he is, Keith is prepared to listen.

Hunk is the one who gives Pidge a worried look. "Yeah, but what if…?" Pidge raises a single eyebrow and stares at him. Hunk's shoulders sag after a moment of this. "You might be right."

This is both a good example of how much more in tune with people they are and also intensely annoying. "Right about what?" Keith says, exasperated by all this silent communication.

"Well, it's Lance," Hunk begins before trailing off into silence like that's an explanation in itself. (And, to be fair, sometimes it is. But not this time.)

When it becomes clear that Hunk isn't going to continue, Pidge makes an impatient sound. "He likes you, okay?"

Keith blinks at that. "I don't think he really does," he says after a moment. "At least, not any time we're not in an actively life-or-death situation. The rest of the time he pretty much just tolerates me. When he's not yelling about how much he hates me, anyway."

Pidge turns to Hunk, hands spread as if to say, See? I told you so.

Hunk clears his throat. "That… may not be the most accurate assessment," he says carefully. And then he stops again.

"Oh, for the love of—Lance likes you. As in, he wants to fuck you," Pidge says.

Lance wants to what? Keith stares, but Pidge doesn't seem to be joking about this. He turns his incredulous gaze on Hunk, who gives him an awkward little shrug. "Yeah, really," he says. "It's Lance, and you know how mature he is."

"This would all be a lot easier if you'd just wear your hair in pigtails," Pidge adds. Keith blinks—pigtails?—and Pidge sighs. "So he could tug them when he wants your attention?"

Keith reaches up on reflex to touch his hair. "My attention?" What does his hair have to do with Lance getting his attention?

Pidge mutters something about wolves that Keith doesn't quite catch, so Hunk steps in to explain. "Metaphorically," he says kindly. "He likes you and wants your attention and has no idea how to deal with that or express any of it to a rational being."

"Or to you, for that matter," Pidge mutters dourly. Hunk looks reproachful; Pidge huffs. "What? I'm just saying." Hunk is still looking reproachful; Pidge pointedly looks away from him and addresses Keith instead. "So there, now you know why he acts so crazy around you. Please don't freak out about it, it would make Shiro sad, and you know the rule about making Shiro sad."

Keith, who's been listening to all this in a state of growing bewilderment, rouses at that. "I made the rule about making Shiro sad!" It's a nice, simple rule—Don't—and even he and Lance can agree on it.

"So it'd be really bad if you broke it." Pidge says it with the air of laying down a winning hand.

"Are you freaking out?" Hunk asks, somewhere between concerned and curious. "Do you need to talk about it? We've been digging some interesting designs out of the Altean archives and I think Coran said one of them was like an emotional stabilizer. I bet I could reconfigure it to work on humans—"

"I'm not freaking out," Keith says before Hunk can get too enthusiastic. Some of his and Pidge's efforts at adapting Altean tech for human use tend to work better than others, and he really doesn't want to be the guinea pig for this one. They both give him looks filled with doubt. "No, really. I'm fine. It explains a lot, actually."

The way they're eyeing him makes him think they're not buying it, which is too bad since it's pretty much the truth. Mostly. Kind of. Okay, he's not sure Lance liking him explains anything, but he's not freaking out about it. Being surprised is not the same as freaking out.

Keith jerks his shoulder at the corridor. "I'm going to just… go somewhere else now, okay? Okay." Better to get out of range of Hunk and his ideas about Altean tech while he still can and before Pidge can give Hunk any encouragement.

As he walks away briskly—not fleeing, he's definitely not fleeing—he hears Hunk say, "Just remember, if this ends up breaking the Shiro rule, it was your idea to tell him."

"Yeah, yeah, even if it does, I don't care as long as it breaks the deadlock," Pidge says.

Keith walks faster, not wanting to know what Pidge means by deadlock, and gets around the corner before he can hear anything else.

Of course, that just leaves him to deal with this new information about Lance. Or is it a hypothesis? Even if Pidge and Hunk are better at people than he is, he only has their word for it.

Still. It really does go a long way towards explaining a lot of things if Lance wants… wants his attention. Lance wants everyone's attention, sure, but he doesn't get upset at everyone else the way he does with Keith. So, okay, Lance wants his attention and… what, doesn't like that he wants it? That would explain all the anger, maybe, and if Pidge and Hunk are right about the kind of attention… Keith guesses he can see why someone like Lance might be upset about that. Maybe.

What he doesn't quite see is what he's going to do with this hypothesis.

Keith shakes his head to clear it and sets off with the half-formed intention of hitting the training deck, since nothing was better for figuring out a strategy than a good workout with the training drones.

It seems like Lance has a similar idea; he's palming the door to the training deck open when Keith rounds the corner. He catches sight of Keith before he can withdraw and glares at him. "I was here first. I've got dibs. Find your own training deck."

"This is the only training deck we have." Keith feels obliged to point it out, even though he knows it's only going to annoy Lance further. Well, it's habit by now. And Lance did start it.

"Then I guess you're shit outta luck," Lance snaps. He stomps through the doors.

Yeah, Keith thinks, he could let Lance have this one, or he could follow him right through into the training deck.

"Seriously, fuck off, I am not in the mood right now," Lance says when he realizes Keith is right on his heels.

Keith opens his mouth, meaning to suggest that they can share the training deck or to remind Lance that there's no calling dibs on the princess' castle-ship. What comes out is something else entirely. "Pidge and Hunk think you want to fuck me."

Okay. So maybe he's going to just tackle this thing head-on, forget strategy.

First Lance goes white, eyes big in his face. Then he goes red, as red as Keith's Lion, and his expression twists into something ugly. "I guess you'd like that, wouldn't you?"

And that's the question Keith has been avoiding—just what does he think about the idea of Lance wanting to—wanting him?

Keith opens his mouth; it surprises both of them when he says, "Well, yeah. I guess I do."

"What?" Lance says. "What—you what?"

Keith ignores him; he's got plenty of practice tuning Lance out by now, and at the moment he's got something more important to attend to. Yeah, actually, he thinks he does like the idea, if it's actually on the table as an option. It just hasn't ever seemed like it was, what with all the ways Lance has managed to find to announce how much he hates him. If Lance does that all because—what, he doesn't want to show what's actually true?—then everything takes on a whole new cast. So that settles that. "You would be so much easier to deal with if you would just say what you mean," he tells Lance over all the sputtering and babbling.

Lance's eyes are just about bulging out of his head. "You've lost your fucking mind. I hate you, and Pidge and Hunk are crazy, you've all lost your damn minds—" He stops when Keith takes a step in his direction. "Wait, what are you doing?"

"Lance, do us both a favor right now and please shut up," Keith tells him, taking another step, which brings them face to face.

"Why don't you—um?" Lance makes a strangled sound when Keith reaches out and touches his cheek. "Seriously, man, this isn't funny any more, you can—dude—"

Keith hooks his hand around the back of Lance's head, and Lance stands there and lets him do it, which seems like a good sign. Even Lance is good enough at hand-to-hand that he could be doing something about this… whatever it is… if he wanted to.

He'd only just begun to be aware of kissing in a non-academic sort of way when Shiro had left on the Kerberos mission, but even then it had taken secondary status to flying. Then the Kerberos mission had been declared a failure due to "pilot error" and Keith had stopped having time to care about flying, let alone anything else. But how hard can it be to put his face on Lance's and mash their mouths together?

So Keith gives it a try, tugging Lance forward and bumping their mouths together, figuring thousands of years of human history have to be on to something.

Lance's lips are dry against his; Keith can feel the way he shudders, is close enough to see that there's white showing all the way around Lance's pupils, but… that's about it, really. There aren't any fireworks or choirs singing, anyway. He pulls back after a minute, wondering if kissing is another one of those things people do that he's just never going to understand. It's disappointing, but whatever, he's survived worse—

Lance wets his lips and says, voice gone strange and hoarse, "You are terrible at that."

That stings more than Keith feels like it should. "I've never done it before, cut me some slack." Which, tactically speaking, is not the smartest thing he's ever admitted in front of Lance, or so he realizes when Lance starts to smirk. Time for some damage control. "It's not like you were any better."

After this long working alongside Lance, the challenge comes out automatically. A lucky accident, Keith realizes, because Lance grins at him. "Oh yeah? You caught me by surprise," he says. "Watch this."

He lifts his hands and cups Keith's face, curving his fingers along Keith's jaw and using his thumb to tip Keith's chin just a bit, and then he leans in and kisses Keith.

Keith is a big enough man that he can admit that this is definitely a better kiss somehow, though he's not exactly sure why. It can't make that much difference that Lance his moving his lips against Keith's own, slow and soft, every little shift changing the pressure of his mouth against Keith's, but somehow it does. Keith's lips tingle and he can feel heat stirring in the pit of his stomach, and that's before Lance parts his lips and slides his tongue along the seam of Keith's lips, slow. He takes advantage of the how that makes Keith draw in a surprised breath to slide his tongue into Keith's mouth, which—oh. So that's what all the fuss is about.

He doesn't know how much later it is when they pull back from each other, but when they do, Keith's got his arms wrapped around Lance's shoulders and his lips feel tender, almost bruised. Lance's color is running high; his lips are red and wet, almost swollen, and he looks as dazed as Keith feels. He still manages to say, "That's how it's done," sounding pleased with himself.

"Show me again," Keith says before Lance can remember that he doesn't want to want this, or whatever it is that he's all hung up about, and takes the additional step of edging closer to him, doing what he can to fit their bodies together as well as their armor will let them. Maybe this is cheating, but on the other hand, the sound Lance utters when Keith presses against him says that this is an excellent tactic, especially because the next thing Lance does is drop his hands to Keith's hips to pull him up tight against his thigh.

Keith groans at how good the pressure feels, even through his armor, and how utterly insufficient it is to answer the knot of heat coiled low in his belly. He presses forward, rolling his hips against Lance's thigh as he pulls Lance to him, taking another kiss from him, sloppy and unpracticed. He doesn't care about that because it's still good, though the way Lance cups his ass and drags him up tight against his thigh is even better. Keith sucks on his tongue as they grind against each other, groaning against Lance's mouth as heat and want tighten on him, drawing him taut with the sweet, desperate ache of it, until the tension breaks, recoiling through him like the snap of a whip.

Lance groans too, something indistinct and probably profane, rocking against Keith's hip in short, hard jerks. Then he shudders, arching and throwing his head back on a harsh moan while Keith watches.

His knees aren't very certain at the moment. When Lance relaxes and sags against him, Keith lets the artificial gravity do its work and carry them down to the deck. Lance sprawls against him, breathing hard against his shoulder, and Keith finds himself curling his head around the back of his neck, waiting to see what Lance does when he comes back to his senses. Is he going to try denying—this? whatever it is?—and if he does, how bad is it going to be? Pretty bad, Keith guesses, since it's not as though Lance ever does things by halves. If he does—Keith doesn't know what he'll do at that point, though he should probably start thinking about it, oh, maybe five minutes ago.

Lance stirs; Keith holds his breath and waits.

Lance's voice is muffled, probably due to the way he's got his face mashed against Keith's shoulder. "This means nothing. I still hate your guts."

Keith releases his breath. Okay. Maybe it's not going to be bad at all. Lance always has managed to find ways to surprise him when he least expects it. "You're a shitty liar."

"Am not. I hate you with every fiber of my being," Lance says, still muffled. For someone who's so filled with hate, he's not in any hurry to let go of Keith.

"Sure you do." Keith slides his fingers up and discovers the sleek texture of Lance's hair. It's softer than it looks. There's probably a metaphor to be had there, but Keith doesn't feel up to figuring it out just now. "I can feel the hate rolling off you."

Lance makes a discontented sound. "Stop that, sarcasm is my gig, not yours."

"Didn't realize you held the trademark on it, sorry. Oh, wait, no I'm not." Keith is feeling more optimistic with every second that ticks by without Lance trying to pull away or punch him or pretend that they didn't just rub off on one another, so that's why he goes ahead and says it. "You could have just said something. You know, instead of leaving it to Pidge and Hunk to do it for you."

Lance sort of twitches against him. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Your words are nothing but nonsense in my ears."

That's practically normal, coming from Lance. "You are crazy," Keith tells him, not without a certain amount of fondness. "Absolutely crazy. And I'm crazy for liking how crazy you are."

Lance goes still; for a second, Keith thinks that he's gone and messed this strange new thing up before it's had a chance to really begin. Then Lance says, his voice weirdly small, "You do?"

Do what, Keith almost says before he gets it, gets the thing about the pigtails and Lance's entire weird attention-seeking and what it means. Oh. Oh, wow. How did he miss that? "Yeah," he says. "You idiot, of course I do." Though Lance isn't the only idiot in the room, that's for sure.

"Oh," Lance says in that small, shocked voice. "Oh. That's… that's good to know."

He goes quiet then. Keith does too, since he doesn't entirely know what's supposed to happen next (though he hopes a shower and a change of clothes are part of it). Then Lance says, careful, "Maybe I don't hate you after all."

Keith finds himself smiling. "All right," he says. "I guess that's a start."

end

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