Keith couldn’t really blame Lance for calling this late though. He knew that Keith rarely slept, and understood on the nights he didn’t pick up he was probably knocked out – which would have been one of those nights of he remembered to turn his phone on vibrate.
Keith groaned as he reached behind him, hitting his alarm clock a couple times, knocking over his bottle of water and lamp and one of his medication bottles, before grasping onto his cellphone. He accepted the call, mumbling against the receiver as he rested the screen against his cheek. There was no sound from the other line. It woke Keith up a bit, enough to actually speak, “Hey? Lance?”
There was a small sound, a nearly silent sniffle, before a choked sob sounded and— “Keith…”
He sure as hell was awake now, already jumping out of bed and throwing on a shirt and a pair of basketball shorts that was sitting on his desk chair. He was at his door, hand hovering over his keychain on the hook, when he asked, “Be there in a minute?”
Keith nodded and hummed before Lance ended the call. He grabbed his keys and was out the door, locking it swiftly behind him before he went up the three flights of stairs that lead to Lance’s apartment. He tried Lance’s door, thankful for once of it behind left unlocked, before making his way inside and locking the door behind him. He stumbled in the darkness – over the row boat the college student used for furniture and the lawn chair – as he made his way into the hallway that lead to his friend’s room.
“Lance?” He spoke quietly, as he walked through the open door. He heard the man grunt from where he lay the bed. Keith made his way into the room, tripping – again – on clothes and shoes and text books. The window over the headboard let in some light from the streetlights. Keith was able to take in Lance as he made his way further into the room. And his blood boiled.
The man's left eye was swelled shut, purple blooming over a good portion of his face. Dried blood crusted over his busted bottom lip. His cheeks were wet with fresh tears and a portion of his shirt was torn off his shoulder.
Before Keith could even get his thoughts together – let alone speak – Lance cut through the silence.
“Just… lay here. Please.” Keith had never heard Lance’s voice so… dead. So unlike Lance. Anger and confusion swirled in his head— Who did this? Why did they do this? How could they do this? Why isn’t Lance doing anything about it? Did Lance go to the Police?
Lance took a deep breath when Keith didn’t move closer to the bed, his voice coming out monotone and tired and weak, “I’m fine. I just… I need you here. Please.”
Finally, he moved, crawling into the empty space next to the young adult and carefully situating himself at his friend’s side. He kept his eyes on Lance, watching his friend lick at his open lip, watching the way his Adam’s Apple bobbed when he took a shaky breath, watch as a fresh wave of tears fell from his bloodshot eye. He turned his head, unable to look at Lance without anger blooming in his chest, and stared up at the ceiling fan. He watched it rotate slowly, until a set of cobalt blue eyes obstructed his vision – and not the pair of blue eyes he wanted to see.
He narrowed his eyes up at Blue – Lance’s rescue – as the cat sat on his chest, tail flicking lazily against his neck. He lightly patted the cat’s back, lips twitching into a small smile as Blue arched her back as he pets her coat. The cat fell forward onto Keith’s chest, twisting onto her back and nuzzling her head under Keith’s chin. Keith felt Blue’s purr against his palm and chest than heard it.
Keith spent the next half hour petting Blue and counting the amount of times the fan went around until Lance broke the silence.
Lance hesitated for only a moment, “I… I was forced to come out to my parents. Everyone’s…” Lance cleared his throat, “Everyone’s in town for the weekend and they… wanted to surprised me since I missed the past couple get-togethers and… and I didn’t think I’d be coming out so… soon. I thought I’d at least be able to wait until graduation.”
Blue moved off Keith’s chest, moving onto her owners and curling onto his chest. Keith tracked the cat’s movement until his eyes landed on Lance, seeing his hand – bruised, a split knuckle – come up to rest on the cat’s back, lightly rubbing his thumb along her spine.
“Besides my father helping with a new make-over, he’s, uh… he’s cutting me off.” Lance sighed out before he shut his eyes. “Fuck, Keith… I was so close to graduation— so fuckin’ close. And then I wouldn’t even care because I’d have a degree and a possible future and… and a… a life.” Lance choked out the last bit, the hand that wasn’t petting the feline coming up to cover his mouth and hide his upcoming sobs.
Keith frowned, turning onto his side towards Lance.
“I— I don’t know… what I’m gonna do, Keith.” Lance hiccupped, mumbling against his palm as another wave of tears spilt from his eyes. “I’m screwed. My dad pays for everything and I… I just… Fuck.”
“We’ll figure this out, Lance.” Keith spoke softly but firmly, placing his hand on Lance’s bicep and squeezing. “You aren’t alone in this. You have Hunk and Pidge and Shiro a— and me. And… and fuck your family, dude. They’re assholes and you deserve better and…”
And why do I have to suck at this? Keith cursed at himself.
Lance snorted and furiously rubbed at his good eye, turning his head away from Keith. Blue’s purr was finally loud enough to hear throughout the room, tired blue eyes glance between the two men before shutting.
“Look, Lance,” Keith sighed, moving to lay on his back again, “we’ll figure out a way for you to finish up the next couple of semester. There’s always loans and grants, your scholarship will help out a lot and… and you can stay with me? Or Hunk or Pidge—”
“Pidge is allergic to Blue. Hunk is moving in with Shay.” Lance mumbled tiredly before turning his head to look at Keith, “And your mullet offends me so you’re off the table.”
Keith rolled his eyes with a soft snort, “Blue likes it.”
Lance sighed, “She like you, not the mullet.”
“Either way, she has good taste.” Keith shrugged with a small smile, hand reaching out for the sleeping feline and lightly scratching behind her ear. Lance started to laugh before cursing, his lip wound opening and a small trail of blood dripping from the corner of his mouth. He groaned and lightly nudged Blue off of him, forcing himself into a seated position as he ran his hands through his hair. He wiped the blood off with the edge of his shirt, frowning. Keith pushed himself up next to Lance, Blue curling behind them on the pillows.
“For right now,” Keith started as he pushed himself up, “let me take care of your wounds—”
“Leave ‘em.” Lance sighed, falling back against the bed. He draped an arm over his eyes. “I des—”
“You do not.” Keith cut Lance off, knowing what the next words that would come out of his friend’s mouth were. “I don’t know what happened, Lance. I don’t know what was said or what was done, but nothing deserves what you had to go through.”
Lance stayed silent, allowing Keith to head to the bathroom to pull the First Aid Kit from under the sink. Lance continued to stay silent as Keith tended to his lip and eye, looked over his shoulder and frowning when he saw that Lance’s binder was also torn. Keith swallowed his anger and stood once he finished tending to Lance’s wounds. He went over to the man’s dresser and pulled out one of his graphic tee-shirts and his own-down BB-8 PJ pants. He tossed them onto the bed next to Lance.
“Change.” He nodded towards the clothes before turning towards the door. “I’m gonna get some water.”
He saw Lance nod before he left the room, turning on the hallway light and kitchen light as he entered the areas. He pulled out his phone as he went to Lance’s fridge, shooting off a quick text to his friends before grabbing two bottles of water.
Group Text to: Hunk, Pidge, Shiro [4:15 AM] Come by my place at noon.
Group Text to: Hunk, Pidge, Shiro [4:15 AM] It’s important.
He came back in the room a few minutes later to Lance sitting cross legged on the left side of the bed, cradling a pillow against his chest. Keith set a bottle on the nightstand next to Lance.
“I’m gonna sleep on the couch—”
“No. I— I mean, stay.” Lance spoke quickly before burying his face in the pillow, pointing to the right side of the bed. “Here.”
Keith furrowed his brows, glancing between the vacant area and Lance. Lance never really slept with other people. Usually when he slept over other’s places, he’d get a room with a door instead of the couch or the floor where the others crashed. Lance had told him that he didn’t like the possibility of others seeing him without his binder, didn’t want them to see him that way.
“Are you sure?” Keith asked, his grip tightening around his bottle. “Lance, I don’t—”
“’ts fine.” Lance’s voice was muffled by the pillow. He quickly picked his head up, eyes wide, “B— but if you don’t want to, that’s fine! I get it— it’s fine!”
Keith lightly flicked his friend’s forehead with a rare smile. He shook his head as Lance pushed his hand away with a small pout. He headed around the bed, Lance quickly going under the covers as Keith occupied himself with pulling his phone and keys from his pocket and setting them on the desk at the end of Lance’s bed. He crawled onto the bed once he knew Lance was under the covers and deposited himself next to the wall. Blue lay between their heads, content on her pillow.
“G’night, Lance.” Keith yawned, turning onto his stomach and shoving his hands under his pillow. He turned his head to Lance, who was in the same position as him but under the blanket. Keith smiled at his friend, ignoring that Lance probably couldn’t even see him through his left eye.
“Night, mullet.” Lance replied with a tired smile, confirming that he could see Keith. Blue let out a small growl, picking her head up to look pointedly at Lance.
Lance gasped and sputtered, “Betrayal!”
Keith muffled his laugh with the pillow.
Times like these, he really liked that cat.
He stayed face down for a while, until he struggled to breath, and turned his head back towards Lance. Lance was still awake; his left hand had come out from under the pillow to pet Blue. Lance’s eyes drooped, the man straining to stay awake any longer.
“Sleep, dude.” Keith mumbled tiredly, stifling a yawn against the pillow once again.
“Yeah, yeah. I will.” Lance replied tiredly, letting his eyes drift close and moving his hand back under his pillow. “But, Keith… thanks. For this. I… yeah.”
In the middle of the night, Lance would have given anything for complete and utter silence.
It was something that – throughout his nineteen years of living – he never had.
At home, someone was always awake; whether it be his younger siblings up past their bedtime – hushed giggles and ‘shushing’ whispers when their mamá came to check up on them –, his older sister sneaking out through the window and passing by on the roof to tell him and his brother to cover for her, his brother’s house-shaking snoring coming from the bed against the other wall across the room. Even at the Garrison; the guard patrolling the halls and dorms – night or day – cared little about the ruckus they may or may not cause, students scurrying from room to room not to be caught as they snuck out, Hunk’s snoring in the bed against the other wall across the room.
Now, in a spaceship in the middle of dead space, it was silent. The first few nights after things had calmed down since becoming a Paladin, silence was the only thing Lance heard throughout the night. Hunk – whose room was down the long ordained hall, to the left and then down two short halls – snoring couldn’t even make it down to his room. Shiro and Pidge’s rooms were closer to Hunk’s but further from his own. Keith – whose room was down the hall from his own – was never rarely in his room since discovering the training deck.
And for those first few nights, he didn’t sleep. It was too quiet, too eerie, too abnormal for him to sleep peacefully. Even with music playing in his ears and eye mask in place, he knew there was no noise.
There was always a sound, even if drowned out by music, that helped lull him to sleep.
Once he thought he hated the background noise, but he missed it. Terribly.
Even with his glowing skin and chipper attitude, he could tell the others knew he wasn’t ‘okay’ – even though he completely was! Who needs sleep, really? Sleep is for the weak and Lance Sanchez is anything but weak!
There were only a few hiccups in flying Blue, a few times where his arm twitched and throw her off kilter and crashed against another Lion – usually Keith’s or Pidge’s – or the ground or a mountain or just twirled in the air until another Paladin helped him (okay, there were more than just ‘a few’). On the training deck he wasn’t able to protect Hunk from a stray laser or Shiro from a blunt blade or himself from an actual blade – dammit, Keith – when Coran decided that they should fight against each other while he reset a few systems. The room usually spun when he maneuvered around his teammate, his weapon not feeling like an extension of himself but an extra heavy appendage he wanted to cut off and toss away. Only once Keith’s blade came close to slashing against his armor again did he take his own advice and toss his weapon, tackling down his opponent and launching into a full blown fist fight. Shiro and Hunk had to pull them apart after Keith gave Lance a broken and bloody nose.
His teammates seemed both aggravated and concerned for his well-being when he face-planted into the green goo they usually had at dinner. He left not a second later, waving off any worry and calling it for the night.
But as he crawled into bed that night, he learned that he was willing to become completely weak – even admit to himself that Keith had an impressive left hook – if it meant he finally get to sleep. He was too tired to do the usual; face-planting into his pillow once the door was shut and lights were out did he finally let himself relax. For hours he tried to let sleep take over, moving to positions he hadn’t slept in since he was nine, counting sheep in his head, humming a song his Abuela use to sing to him when she came to visit. Nothing worked. Soon his tiredness turned into frustration, and as he stood to find a way to create some noise—
He heard metal against metal, a few minor explosions and grunts of exertion. He stilled for a second, his tired brain confused as to whether the castle was under attack or if… if what?
He sat back against his bed and waited for the alarms, the running, Shiro’s yelling – something. It never came. As he waited his body moved, laying back against the bed and staring up at the darkness. Even in his exhausted state, he felt like he should investigate, find out where that noise was coming from. The Galra could be here to take the Lions, but there would be more than just what he was hearing. There would be soldiers running down the halls, searching every room for the Paladin’s and the Princess, but there was no such noise…
Just the relaxing clanking of metal, the rumbling of small explosions and the sound of someone.
He fell asleep for eighteen hours and woke up to find that his room was under the training deck. If he hadn’t been damn thankfully for Keith’s late night sessions, shocked and still a bit tired, he would have asking why hasn’t their been noise the past week when Keith had been training, why hadn’t he been told he was living under the training deck and maybe threw in a few snarky comments about Keith needing to train into the late hours of the night to get up to his level.
Instead, he just stared at Keith when he saw him a dinner an hour later – a mixture of shock and wonder and confusion and thankfulness. He’ll even admit, it was a bit creepy how he couldn’t get his eyes off of the Red Paladin. If he hadn’t been so caught up on trying to figure out why, he would have noticed the tips of Keith’s ears glowing red and a small smile hidden behind his hand as he poked and prodded at his dinner.
vanny || lvl 22 || they/them || gay || art student
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