Dirty Laundry

Day 0

Group Chat: Lance is kinkier than Shiro

Members: Firelord, choke Me Daddy, President Taquito, Pidgeon, Hunky Munky, princess fukboi killer

2:14 P.M.

President Taquito (Lance Sanchez) Said:

guY S GUYS I NEED YOUR HE LP

2:19 P.M.

Pidgeon (Pidge Holt) Said:

what

2:19 P.M.

President Taquito (Lance Sanchez) Said:

I need maJOR fhelp and i don't know what to do

2:20 P.M.

Firelord (Keith Gyeong) Said:

Jesus christ spit it out

2:21 P.M.

President Taquito (Lance Sanchez) Said:

SHIT MY PHONE IS ABOUT TO DIE QUICK WHERE ARE YOU I'LL COME FIND YOU

2:22 P.M.

Firelord (Keith Gyeong) Said:

Library 2nd floor

Keith shut his phone off and slid against the back of his cushioned chair, obviously irritated. "Lance is heading over."

Shiro looked up from his laptop, fingers halting from their place at the keyboard.

"To study? Or is he coming to watch Naruto like last time?"

Keith cringed at the thought. He despised Naruto more than any other ridiculous anime

Lance wasted his time on. Keith couldn't even remember the amount of times Lance had ushered him into watching his cartoons, usually with japanese subtitles and excessive amounts of screaming.

"He needs help or something." Keith gave all the information he knew and shrugged.

Pidge audibly groaned, visibly sulking their entire body away from their laptop screen. "I bet he forgot his school ID again. He keeps making me search it up on the school mainframe."

"Isn't that, I don't know, illegal?"

The smirk on Pidge's face was devilish. "Only if you get caught."

"Anyway-" Keith changed the subject. "He's being annoyingly vague on the issue."

It wasn't until a few minutes later that the sound of Lance's cries echoed from the other side of the library. Keith watched as a hysteric Lance came sprinting from behind the corner of a bookshelf, nearly pinning a girl and a librarian in the process. Keith chuckled when the librarian almost killed Lance, the older woman scolding him with a pointed finger.

The moment the librarian was out of sight Lance made his quick escape to their side. Announcing at a volume much louder than library appropriate, Lance slammed his palms on the table and cried; "I have a predicament!"

"What's up?" Shiro asked, unphased by the papers and books that had fallen from the table's sudden movement.

"What's up? WHAT'S UP? I'll tell you what's fucking up."

Keith groaned outwardly, slamming his own laptop shut. "If you say the sky I swear to fucking god-"

"No!" Lance flung himself into the fourth chair. "Well, actually yes, but that's not what's up! What's up is my Abuela! She's coming to my parent's house for christmas!"

Keith gave the boy a deadpan stare. "So? It's just your grandma. You love her and stuff. Right?"

"Of course I do!" Lance flung his hands into the air. "That's what makes my problem even worse!"

"I'm confused."

Lance leaned forward into the table, pressing up against the wood with his palms. "Here's the dealio. So I'm bisexual-"

"We know. You won't shut up about it."

"-And you know how I came out my sophomore year of high school? Well, my family was super 'ew' at first but now they don't give a shit."

"How does this have anything to do with your grandma?"

Lance pushed a finger against Keith's lips to shush him. "I'm not done yet! See, after a while my family and extended family were all like, 'It's okay if you like dick, Lance! Date whoever you want!' But my Abuela? She's super against it. Extremely so."

"That you like dick?"

"Yes." Lance yelped with his head flung backwards in distraught frenzy. "But it's more complex than that. She's mad that I've never introduced a girlfriend to her! She's like-" Lance immediately switched into a different accent, one used to mimic his grandmother. "'Chiquito, you haven't brought me a beautiful woman! You are such a handsome boy, you must have so many attractive women kissing the ground at your feet!'"

Keith snorted. "Yeah. You're grandma has no idea."

A growl escaped Lance and he whacked Keith's arm with one of the textbooks. "This is important, so stop being an asshat for five minutes and listen!"

Keith raised his hands up in defense. "Alright, alright."

"Anyway-" Lance shot another glare in Keith's direction. "As I was saying, my Abuela. She expects me to bring home a girl. I need to find someone to be my girlfriend for christmas."

"Why is this an issue?" Pidge slid the glasses up against their nose. "I mean, you've gone home without a girlfriend before. Why is this Christmas any different?"

A sheepish gaze crept onto Lance's face. "Well," He swallowed, suddenly sitting up straight. "I sort of, kind of, um-"

"Spit it out!" Keith yelled, earning a few angry shushes from the librarians. He was getting tired of Lance's vague storytelling.

Lance gulped down a breath of air and waited until the librarians had dispersed. Then he finally spoke, his voice low and just above a whisper.

"I told my Mom that I'm bringing home a boyfriend instead."

Keith couldn't help it, he was laughing.

Lance slouched his body into the chair and rolled his neck backwards, nose pointed towards the ceiling. He rubbed at his temples, Keith still laughing into his sleeve at the left. "That's it. I'm gonna die alone."

"You're not going to die alone," Shiro sternly voiced, comforting Lance with a hand to the shoulder. "I'm sure there are lots of people who would love to date you."

Another loud, gleeful snort escaped Keith. "Uh-huh. Sure."

Lance was unphased by Keith's comment, too engulfed in his panic to care. "I mean, how the hell am I gonna find a boyfriend in two fucking days? And, like? Originally I thought saying 'boyfriend' instead of 'girlfriend' would be a good idea. A boyfriend would be easier to find, right? I could just ask one of you guys. But then I remembered about my Abuela! And she's homophobic! And she tugs at my ears! And she's intimidating, and passive aggressive, and-" He was pulling at his hair now, body back upright and tense from the stress.

"Jeez, just make a boyfriend advertisement on craigslist." Pidge fingers flew at the keyboard, now completely engulfed in their essay. They were no longer interested in the conversation. Keith wasn't either, now with his phone pulled out and twitter on the screen.

"Hell, no. That'll bring weirdos." Lance twisted his head to the right, giving Shiro puppy dog eyes. "Shiro, will you come to my house for christmas and pretend to be my boyfriend?" Lance whimpered insistently, puckering his lip out and clasped his hands together. "Please?"

"I'm sorry," Shiro began, looking sympathetic, yet relieved. "I'm already going to Allura's house for christmas."

Lance cursed something under his breath before turning to Pidge. "What about you? Come on Pidge, we could-"

"Not a chance." Pidge's tone was sincere and final. They stood up to put away their laptop and books, stuffing the items into a large green backpack. It appeared Pidge had enough of the library for one day.

"What about Hunk?" Lance continued, now grasping at straws. "He'd totally be willing to help me out."

Pidge pushed their chair in and swung the backpack over their shoulder. "That is a negative, actually. Hunk's sister is getting married back in Hawaii, there's no way you can pry him from that."

"Fuck-" Lance stammered, slamming his palms on the table again. "Guys, what am I gonna do?"

"Ask Keith to go. He's not even leaving campus for christmas."

At the sound of his name, Keith looked up from his phone. "Hm? You need something?" He hadn't been paying attention, which only made him more vulnerable to Pidge's dastardly plot.

"So," Pidge muttered, the gears in their head practically screaming. "You're not going anywhere for Christmas, right?"

"...Yeah?" Keith slowly answered, sensing ideas forming. "So?"

Pidge wore a demonic smile. "Then there's nothing holding you back from pretending to be Lance's Christmas boyfriend."

"Wait, what?!" Keith cried, giving Lance a disgusted look. "Hell no. No way, no fucking way."

Everyone but Keith (who was, honestly, super oblivious) noticed the large patch of red that was growing on Lance's cheeks. It was vibrant against his dark skin, and anyone could tell (again, except Keith) that Lance was embarrassed, and actually debating the idea in his head.

"You can't actually think this is a good idea-" Keith protested to Lance. "I mean, we'll kill each other!"

Lance stuttered. "O-Of course I don't like the idea!" He was grasping at straws, trying to find the right words to say without making a fool of himself. "It's the worst fucking idea Pidge has ever had, which is saying something-"

"Better than your stupid plans, Lance."

"-And believe me. I do not want to do it. But, well," Lance swallowed and turned even redder, if possible. "You're my only option."

Keith couldn't believe this.

"No."

"Please?"

"No."

Lance suddenly scrambled out of his seat, only to crawl around the table and kneel at the base of Keith's chair. Shiro was laughing behind a covered hand now, and the red had disappeared from Lance's face. "Please?"

Keith swore viciously and turned his head away so he didn't have to look at Lance's pathetic state. "No way, Sanchez. I'd rather die."

"Pleeeease?" Lance whined, drawing out the vowels long and profusely. "I'll do anything."

This sparked Keith's interest, and he raised an eyebrow. Having Lance Sanchez indebted to him didn't sound half bad.

Keith spoke slowly, sounding out the syllables. "Anything? At all?"

"That, my friends, is kinky." Pidge swung around on their heels harshly, walking as far away from the table as they possible could. "I'm out of here before Lance is sold into sucking Keith's dick."

Pidge waved a hand behind them while racing towards the Library stairs. They turned at the banister and were suddenly out of sight, probably on their way to find Hunk.

"That is not what I was suggesting," Lance insisted, then focused back on Keith. He stood up from his place at the floor and backed away a little. Both boys were blushing now. "I was just gonna offer a week of laundry or something."

Keith shook his head immediately. "That's an awful trade. I'd say it's more like, a whole month of laundry. Maybe two. Three, even."

Lance howled. "What! That is way too much. I am not cleaning your nasty underwear for two whole-"

"Lance."

This time it was Shiro who spoke, his laptop now put away and his bag on the table. "This is a great deal. I'd take it." He gave Lance a pointed look, one that Keith didn't really understand. For a moment the two boys seemed to have a silent conversation.

Finally, Lance turned his head to Keith, his mouth tilted into a small frown. It was obvious he was regretting everything about this.

"Fine. Two whole months of free laundry in exchange for two weeks of you being my fake boyfriend." He stuck out his hand, holding it in front of Keith's face to shake. "Deal?"

Keith hesitated for a moment. Was this really worth it? Hardly. Lance was an asshole, and he wasn't sure what fake dating would entail. But, free laundry was free laundry, right?

In a quick exchange, the two of them shook each other's hands. Keith gave Lance a curt nod, looking at his dark blue eyes for only a second. "Alright, it's a deal."

God, Keith was going to regret this.

Day 0

Thursday, December 15th

2:54 P.M.

"Jesus, how much shit are you even bringing?"

Lance poked his head out from behind the car's trunk, now filled to the very brim with both their luggage. "It's two weeks, Keith. I'm being smart about this."

Keith scowled. "You're never smart about anything. "

Lance's head had disappeared back behind the trunk to continue his ridiculous luggage organization, but not before he flipped Keith the bird.

The car was small and old as shit, a nasty Corolla from 1987. Lance had defended her proudly, calling the car his 'Little Lady'. Obviously Lance knew nothing about cars, the thing was an ugly sight. Three dents, several scratches, and an ugly shade of beige. Keith couldn't believe they'd be driving the thing all the way to Arizona.

Nineteen hours with Lance. Nineteen terrible, long, ridiculous hours. That was one thousand, one hundred and forty minutes of dealing with Lance's obnoxious music taste. That would also include off key singing, bathroom pit stops every other hour, and the decision to eat at McDonalds for every single meal. Keith was close to death, he could feel it.

"I thought the driver was supposed to pick the music," Keith mentioned when they switched positions at a pit stop near the edge of the Oregon border. They'd been driving since three, and Keith was ready to listen to anything other than Beyonce, Kesha, or Nicki Minaj. Why hadn't he brought headphones?

"Nope," Lance answered in response, popping the 'p'. He hopped into the passenger seat and began to lean his seat back. "Owner of the car chooses the music. And that's me, I'm the owner."

"Well, that rule is bullshit."

Keith didn't protest much else, hoping that Lance would fall asleep so he could steal the aux cord from his phone.

His plan worked well, driving for five hours had truly worn Lance out. After Keith listened to Beyonce's 'Halo' for the fourth time that trip, Lance was out cold. He slobbered onto the pillow that lay smooshed between the car window and his head, soft snores vibrating from his lips.

For another hour and a half Keith drove, happily content with Lance's soft snoring and his preferred music at low volume.

"Mm.." Lance mumbled into his pillow, wiping at the dried saliva that had stuck to his chin. "What time is it?"

Keith sighed, realizing his happy peace was over now that Lance was awake. "Check the clock."

Lance peered over at the analog clock. 9:39 P.M. He wiped at his eyes like a baby and became accustomed to his surroundings, until Keith noticed him scrunch his nose up in disgust.

"What?" Keith questioned, referring to the look of revulsion.

"Are you listening to Depeche Mode?!" Lance muttered, sitting up straighter in his seat, now fully awake. "Like, unironically?"

"Yeah? So?"

Lance snorted. "That's fucking cringey. Depeche Mode is emo '80s music."

"And your music taste isn't cringey?" Keith scoffed, rolling his eyes. "You listen to Beyonce. What are you, a mom in her late thirties?"

Lance gasped as if Keith had muttered sacrilege. "Beyonce is a wonderful gift to mankind! How can you not think so?"

"Oh my God," Keith groaned, tightening his grip on the steering wheel. "You're so gay ."

"What!? You're the gay one. I'm bisexual!"

Keith opened his mouth to protest, but couldn't think of any words to say. Lance was technically right on that one.

They drove through the night, each switching spots every two hours so the other could sleep. They came to an agreement after bickering that whoever drove could pick the music, and Keith had triumphantly played his Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys during his turns. He even tossed in a few modern songs, MCR and Panic!at the Disco, all which Lance knew the words to but claimed were ridiculous.

Honestly, driving with Lance at night wasn't half bad. Whenever one was awake, the other was asleep. They didn't have to talk, which meant no bickering and salty comments. Keith liked driving with only his headlights to see, and the combination of the car's hum, the music at low volume, and Lance's steady breathing all created something serene.

Plus, Lance was cute when he slept. He wasn't an asshole when he was silent, and the way his long eyelashes lay closed against his skin made him look innocent. Except he was slobbering, and Keith couldn't help but think him a tall, lanky baby.

After stopping for breakfast at McDonald's around 6:40 a.m., the two of them were fully awake. Lance was driving, now in Arizona and on the main highway past Phoenix.

Lance attempted to say something that Keith couldn't understand, his mouth full of McGriddle breakfast sandwich.

"Dude, I can't hear you with your mouth full."

Lance swallowed his food. "I said; We need to make a plan. Like, set boundaries for kissing and stuff."

Keith gulped down a piece of his breakfast sandwich too fast, burning his tongue in the process. "Jesus-" He reached for his orange juice and took a swig. "What?"

"Boundaries." Lance repeated. "For when we're at my parent's house."

"Yeah, I got that. I mean, we'll have to kiss?"

"Yeah?"

"Fuck, you're serious?"

Lance spoke without moving his eyes from the road, though Keith could tell that Lance wasn't completely excited about the idea either. "It was kind of in the job description. You're my fake boyfriend . That'll include fake kissing, fake hugging, fake holding hands. We have to convince my family that we're gay for each other, after all."

"But I'm not gay for you!" Keith declared this louder than necessary. Keith wasn't gay for Lance, not in a million years. Lance was a pest, obnoxious, loud and far too boisterous for Keith's taste.

Lance looked ready to bang his head against the steering wheel. "Obviously, idiot. That's why it's fake. "

Keith ran through all the reasons why he'd ever agree to something so stupid. Originally it had sounded great. Free place to stay for Christmas, which meant free food and a nice house and probably stuff to do instead of playing Overwatch for two weeks straight. He was getting two months of laundry out of it, and Lance's Mom was supposedly a great cook.

But, kissing? Kissing Lance? On the mouth?

"Whatever," Keith began, pulling out his phone to see how much longer they had till Mesa del Caballo, Arizona. "I'll kiss you, I guess. But only in front of your family, you got it? This is specifically to keep up the act for your parents."

Lance nodded in agreement. "Also...there's the issue of my Abuela."

That, Keith realized, would be a problem. "She's homophobic, right? How will she react?"

"I'm not entirely sure," Lance confessed. "I've never really introduced a boyfriend to her. It's the girlfriends she really wants to meet."

"God, what a mess you've gotten into."

Lance flinched. "I know I fucked up! And I'm trying to fix it, but honestly this'll just be me facing my grandma once and for all. I'll have to sooner or later, so I guess it's a good thing."

Keith was shocked. He hadn't expected Lance to choose a mature approach, if even know how to be mature, in the first place. Keith was silent for a few moments, turning his head to watch the moving desert that passed by his window.

"You love your grandma, right?"

Lance's response was immediate. "Of course I do. She's my Abuela."

"So..." Keith swallowed. "So you want her approval."

"Of course."

"Then why are you bringing a boy home if she'd rather see a girl?"

Keith turned his gaze back to Lance, expecting a legit answer. It was so weird, talking about love and family. Keith never had either of those things.

"Maybe because my emotions matter too?" Lance's eyebrows were furrowed. "I don't know, I like boys just as much as girls, and that's something she needs to accept. If she really loves me she'll-" Lance swore loudly, swerving on the road. "Why the hell am I telling you this? It's angsty, and emotional, and super fucking weird. I'm uncomfortable, let's change the subject."

Keith happily obliged. "You're transformer is stupid." He flicked the small optimus prime that hung from the car's mirror. It was back to bickering after that, the two boys fighting over the ornament's true level of tackiness.

Keith wouldn't ever say it, but he liked the transformer figurine. He'd only called it stupid to change topics, and inside Keith was pleased they could return to their regularly scheduled dispute. Bonding and talking about personal things was just not their style.

Day 1:

Friday, December 16th

10:07 A.M.

"You live on a farm ?"

Lance laughed like Keith was stupid. "Have you seen me try to dig with a shovel? Fuck no."

"You literally live in the middle of nowhere." Keith countered, observing the yellow fields that rolled past their window. They were driving on a farm road, an actual farm road lined with weeds, blackberry bushes and the occasional rusty sign. Keith didn't even think these things existed.

"Most of my neighbors are farmers, but we aren't. My parents own the local grocery store in Mesa del Caballo. We've got chickens though, and a goat."

"A goat," Keith muttered in disbelief, watching greenery pass by as the car rumbled down a very long gravel driveway aligned by trees. "Why the hell do you have a goat?"

"We milk her." Lance spoke matter of factly. "It's convenient. Plus Cinderella is super good with the kids."

Keith snickered. "You named your goat after a disney princess?"

"Correction; my sister named her. Cleo was going through a phase."

Finally, the house came into view. It was fairly large, obviously older than Keith, and reminded him of the house from Anne of Green Gables. He was already cringing, the chipped yellow paint and white trim already screaming of domesticity. Keith was used to apartments and townhouses that belonged to the foster families he lived with, not family homes with soccer balls lying in the lawn and bikes thrown across gravel.

They came cruising down the gravel driveway and into one of the empty spaces by the house. As Lance was putting the car into park, two small kids came sprinting from the open garage, a large boxer pounding out behind them.

"I thought you only had a goat and chickens!" Keith cried, watching in disbelief as a long line of slobber dripped from the dog's mouth.

Lance was beaming like it was already christmas, barely able to unhook his seatbelt with his shaking hands. He didn't even respond to Keith's question, instead wrenching the door open and practically tripping from the front seat.

The two kids, from what Keith could see from the car window, were probably around nine and five. Their ecstatic jumping and screaming only hyped the dog into pouncing the air.

"Lance!" The nine year old cried out gleefully. Her stringy brown hair and tan skin color were the same as Lance's, and Keith immediately put two and two together. She was Lance's youngest sister, Josephine. He'd given Keith a quick rundown earlier.

"Josie!" Lance screeched, leaning down to scoop his sister into a hug. She immediately wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed like a small monkey. The dog practically attacked Lance's feet with slobber, trying their hardest to gain attention.

Keith wasn't sure what it was, but a part of him felt like he was prying. He'd only been at the Sanchez household for a good three minutes, and already he felt out of place.

"It'll be okay," Keith whispered to himself, now looking away from the affection and instead at his hands. "It'll be okay."

Who was he kidding?

The Sanchez family was huge. Keith had never lived with more than two people at a time.

Swallowing down his pride and any common sense he had left, Keith left the passenger seat of the car. His shoes hit gravel, and the sun beat down on his forehead. It was December in Arizona, so it was almost 70 degrees out. Keith was already preparing for tasteless, desert tap water and dried lips.

Turning around to the other side of the car, Keith watched Lance now hold the other child in his arms. He was a small boy with a short buzzcut and a star wars bandaid stuck to his forehead.

"-And then, when I fell off my scooter, my head bonked on the rock and now I have a battle scar!" The five year old pointed with a chubby finger at the bandaid. "See!"

Lance chuckled and set the boy back down to the gravel. "That is one nasty battle scar," He agreed while finally giving the dog some love by letting her kiss his face profusely.

"Who's that?" The boy asked, pointing at Keith with the same finger.

Lance turned to look at Keith, and immediately the dog started barking again. The large boxer rammed into Keith's legs, almost toppling him over. Keith reluctantly patted the dog's head, hoping the friendly action would get her to leave him alone.

"This is Keith," Lance proudly announced, grabbing Keith's hand to save him from the dog. "My boyfriend!"

Lance's palms were sweaty against Keith's, and although it was strange, Keith didn't want him to let go. If Lance let go then Keith would be alone under the gaze of two children, and nothing was more terrifying than children.

The five year old's eyes widened at the small display of affection, his coffee colored irises growing in curious shock. "Boys can like boys?"

"Duh," Josie said with her hands at the waist of her pink shorts. "You can like anyone you want. That's what my mami says."

The boy was in complete awe. The new information was like an epiphany.

"I want a boyfriend," The boy whispered, his voice so quiet that Keith was surprised he ever heard him. Then, as if an idea had clicked, the boy demanded, "Uncle Lance, can I have your boyfriend?"

It was Lance's turn to have wide eyes. "Um, no?"

"Share your boyfriend with me!"

Keith must've been seeing things, but he swore there was a blush on Lance's cheeks. Instead of making a comment, Lance ruffled the boy's hair. "You're so silly, Mateo. I'm not sure what your Dad would think if you had a twenty-year-old boyfriend."

Mateo pouted, sticking his bottom lip out angrily. "But why not? Keith has cool hair! He can put it in a ponytail, and he looks like a samurai fighter guy."

Keith couldn't help it, he unconsciously reached for the hair tie that was pulling his longer hair together. He had tied it up during the car ride so he wouldn't sweat as much. Keith undid the ponytail and let his hair fall across his face, running a quick hand through to fix it.

"Oh, now you just look like a girl."

Keith scowled and reached to pull it back up, but Josie screeched instead and made both him and the dog jump.

"Jesus-" Keith cried, waving his hands away from his hair. The dog was barking again, and Keith really wished that the creature would be quiet.

"Leave it down!" Josie cried, anticipation flooding her face. "You're a disney prince! You look like a disney prince with your hair down! Lance!" She was squealing now, jumping up and down and exciting the dog even more. "You're dating a disney prince!"

Keith wasn't sure how to respond to that. Should he be offended or flattered? It was coming from a nine year old, and Keith was never trained on how to act with kids. He'd never had any siblings. So, instead of thanking her, Keith just gave Lance a deathly stare.

"Let's go inside," Mateo announced, grabbing for Keith and Lance's clasped hands. Keith had forgotten they'd been holding them for so long. Mateo broke them apart and lead them each by a hand. Josie raced ahead with the dog, probably off to find something more exciting.

The garage was exactly like Keith had imagined. There were bikes everywhere and shelves lined with canned food. A kayak hung from the back wall, random buckets of paint littered the floor, and an old tarp was flung in the corner. It was, to say the least, exactly what a garage for a family of eight looked like. Except with a lot more stains, muddy shoes, and large bags of dog food.

"Dad!" Mateo screamed once they'd entered the kitchen from the garage. "I have a boyfriend now!"

Of the two people in the kitchen, one man poked his head out from the refrigerator and looked highly concerned. From his facial features, Keith could tell that the man was Lance's oldest brother, except with a slight scruffy beard and a stronger build. He was hot , in a Dad sort of way.

"..Oh?" He pulled some milk out from the fridge and set it on the counter. "That is, um, exciting?" He was obviously concerned, though in a way that Keith couldn't identify as disgust.

Mateo tugged on Keith's arm hard, pulling him towards his dad. "Yes! He's Lance's boyfriend too. We are sharing."

"Just so you know," Lance began, raising his free hand up in defense. "I never agreed to this."

Lance's brother chuckled. "I'm just glad he's sharing, even if it is over a boy."

The other person in the kitchen, a teenage girl of about fourteen, raced to wrap her hands around Lance. Lance let go of Mateo's hand to squeeze the girl back, and Keith wondered how many times Lance was required to hug someone for his homecoming. Keith felt sorry for him, he'd hate to be hugged ten times in one day.

Keith must've jinxed it, because another Sanchez family member came pounding, actually pounding, down the stairs two at a time. It was a teenage boy, strangely in nothing but a towel at his waist, and looking at him made Keith give a double take. He looked exactly like Lance, down to the same haircut, hooked nose, skinny frame and bony structure. Except he was insanely smaller, hardly any muscle on his arm, and his ribs poked through his skin.

Lance tripped over his own feet getting to the boy. Lance had never seen his friend more excited, not even when he'd beat Keith at the kegster last year.

The two were screeching each other's names, and it reminded Keith of seagulls. The boy was named Benji, Keith couldn't forget his name now that he'd heard Lance scream it five times. The two embraced for a moment, still howling.

It wasn't until Benji almost dropped his towel that Keith remembered he was partially naked. Lance didn't seem to mind in the slightest, and he jerked away from the hug to pull his brother into a headlock. Keith looked away immediately, suddenly focused on the wall to his left that was decorated with family photographs.

"Benjamin!" The girl shrieked from behind the kitchen island. "Put some clothes on!" She didn't bother covering her eyes, and instead threw a damp towel from the sink at the two brothers. The two barely noticed, instead howling like animals.

Mateo was giggling at Keith's side, his small fingers still grasping tightly to Keith's hand. "Uncle Benji is naked," He notified Keith, as if he couldn't see the slipping towel with his own eyes.

Keith swallowed and forced himself to wear a smile. "I see that." God, the boy needed to put some pants on. He thanked the heavens there was a towel.

Watching Lance wrestle his brother was a surreal experience. Keith expected Lance to win, being the older brother, but Benji was able to slip from Lance's hold easily and switch positions. Benji was stronger despite the sickly lack of muscle in his skin, and Lance was suddenly lying with his back flat against the hardwood floor.

"I win!" Benji declared triumphantly, his fists pumping the air. The towel began to slip from his lack of hips and he squirmed to catch it.

Lance groaned from his place on the ground, and Keith noted that Lance was lame enough to be defeated by his own kid brother. He'd have to mention that to Pidge when he got back.

"Hey, who is this?" Benji questioned with his attention on Keith, not bothering to lean down and help Lance up.

"I'm-"

"That's Keith!" Somehow Lance had managed to launch himself from the floor and grab Keith's hand, again . Just as before the two clasped fingers, and Keith couldn't help but wonder if Lance enjoyed holding his hand.

"He's my boyfriend," Lance added, that cocky grin still displayed on his face. He squeezed Keith's palm and tightened their fingers together, sending a small shiver down Keith's spine. What did Lance think he was doing?

"He's my boyfriend too!" Mateo managed to interject.

Benji smirked, looking Keith up and down. "Wow, Lance actually managed to get a boyfriend? And a hot one no less? What a miracle."

Lance let go of Keith's hand to fold his arms over his chest in defense. "Actually, yes." He wore his signature shit eating grin, the one he tended to give Keith after an awful pun.

Benji clicked his tongue. "Damn, Keith, I'm sorry. I bet he's awful in bed."

Keith couldn't help but laugh, both at Benji's triumphant smile and the visible shock on Lance's face. Lance's older brother, who he now knew as Daniel, had decided it was that exact moment for him to leave the room with Mateo protesting at his arm.

"I'll have you know," Lance scoffed, now blushing. "That I am a beast in bed. Keith should know!" Lance peered over at Keith with what he could only identify as a scream for help. "Right, Keith?"

Keith's eyes widened. "Uh-"

"Don't answer that," Danny interjected, raising his hands up to stop. "I really don't wanna know, and my son is present."

"Thank you," Lance's sister, Cleo, commented with her hands arm deep in soapy water from the sink. "I really didn't want to hear about Lance's sex life."

None of them prepared for when an older woman entered the room, a laundry basket at her hip. She took one look at Benji's half naked stated, and suddenly she was whacking him with a towel from her basket. "¡Oye!¿Qué demonios está sucediendo? Benji, por qué estás desnudo! Volver a la ducha!" Keith peered at Lance for any explanation, but none ever came.

Benji lowered his head and sulked, turning to go back up the stairs. "Sí, mamá." As he moved to return to his shower, Keith caught Benji stealthily flipping Lance the bird behind his mother's gaze. Then he was sprinting up the stairs, clutching at his towel in the process.

After placing her basket on the ground, the woman pulled Lance into a big, squishy hug. Keith immediately recognized her from one of the photographs in Lance's dorm. She was round and had plump cheeks, with long black hair pulled into a tight bun on her head.

"Welcome home, mijo." Mrs. Sanchez reached up on her tiptoes to place a kiss at Lance's forehead.

Keith ached, physically felt his stomach lurch and twist inside his skin. It was the same feeling from before, a sense of displacement. He wasn't meant to be here, meant to watch such loving affairs happen between family members. This was someone else's family, someone else's intimate relation.

Keith looked away, attention back at the photograph wall. He counted four photographs, all of them family portraits from different points in time. The last photo was the oldest, and Keith could point out five year old Lance without hesitation. Young Lance had a his two front teeth missing, and Keith unconsciously smiled.

"Hello."

Keith jumped, turning his attention back to the woman in front of him. Mrs. Sanchez held out a hand, obviously introducing herself. "I'm Lance's mom, but you can call me Rosa or Mrs. Sanchez." Keith noted a spanish accent faded into her words, an accent he guessed had at one time been a lot stronger.

He smiled politely and shook her hand, keeping eye contact for a brief moment. "I'm Keith. Keith Gyeong."

She beamed at him, presenting a smile that Keith felt displaced under. Why had she smiled at him like that? It was sweet, motherly, friendly, and he wasn't sure how to respond. Did he smile back? How did one act in this situation?

"Pleasure to meet you, Keith."

He swallowed, wanting so badly to do something with his hands. They felt strange and sweaty, so he stuffed them into his front pocket. "Thanks so much for letting me stay for Christmas. It means a lot."

Rosa waved away her hand. "Oh, don't mention it. I'm always-" She paused to give Lance a crooked smile. " Always happy when Lance brings home guests."

"Mamá -"

"And he's never brought anyone home before! You're the first, how exciting!"

Keith could tell from Mrs. Sanchez' tone of voice that she was teasing him.

"Oh?" Keith raised an eyebrow. "Wow! Lance, you didn't tell me this!" His face displayed a devilish grin, one that was reciprocated from Lance with a scowl.

"Y-Yeah." Lance swallowed. "Well, the formalities have been nice and all, but Keith and I need to get our stuff." In one sharp motion Lance had gripped Keith's arm and tugged him in the direction of the garage.

Lance made his quick escape out of the kitchen, Keith following close after. The moment Cleo and Rosa were out of sight, Lance's hand ripped from Keith's arms. "Jesus," Lance muttered to himself, running a hand through his hair unconsciously. "My Mom is so-"

"Nice?" Keith wondered aloud.

Lance huffed, though he was smiling. "She's a tease, that's what she is."

The two boys traveled to the car in silence, the only sound being the distant nickering of horses a field over and the crunch of gravel under their feet.

"So," Keith began while pulling his one and only suitcase from the trunk. "You're an awful wrestler."

Lance poked his head out from the front seat. "Huh?"

"Your younger brother won that little fight, and I don't know if you noticed, but he's probably ninety pounds."

Keith had expected to get a rile out of Keith over that, maybe a salty comment or a lame comeback. Instead Lance frowned, his tone turned serious and cold.

"I don't expect you to understand."

"Understand what?"

Lance huffed and slammed the door a little too harshly. He held onto the handle for a moment, staring at the window of the car without blinking.

"You're insufferable, you know that?"

"It's not like you're the most fun to be around either. Do you really think I want to be here?"

Lance looked away, tightening his grip on the phone charger. "No, probably not." He let out a shaky breath and turned his gaze back on Keith. "Whatever, it's not important."

"You're such a baby," Keith taunted. "Just tell me, what's the big issue?"

"Fuck you." Lance walked to the car's trunk and began pulling out his suitcase and pillows, not looking at Keith in any way.

"Come on, Lance."

Lance let out a heated huff, and suddenly he was staring at Keith with a look he'd never seen before. "I let him win."

"Oh bullshit-"

"I've always let him win. It's something I've always done, even when we were kids." Lance pulled out the last of the luggage and slammed the trunk closed. "Now drop it."

"But why?"

"I said, drop it ."

The two of them were silent while walking back inside the house, and Keith's mind couldn't help but wander. Lance was the most competitive person he knew. The two of them could compete for hours, and Lance was always confident that he could do things better than Keith. Everything with them was a competition; their grades, sports, the amount of beers they could drink in one sitting, the amount of pizza slices one could eat. It just didn't seem in Lance's personality to let someone win . Not unless he loved that person more than anyone in the world.

Maybe Benji was that person.

Lance lead Keith up the stairs and down a hallway lined with hardwood floors. Keith noted the bathroom at the end of the hallway, the door ajar to reveal leftover steam from Benji's shower.

Lance kicked the door to his bedroom open with his foot, revealing a medium sized room with a twin sized bed pushed into the corner. Keith cringed at the Bleach anime poster on the wall, followed by several Star Wars posters and a couple Naruto prints.

"What the-" Lance yelped, dropping his luggage so he could race into the room. "Where's the bunk bed?"

Benji randomly appeared at the door frame, leaning against it with one hip. He was now freshly showered, wearing a nike t-shirt and sweats. "Mom gave it to Josie."

Lance looked ready to scream, his jaw dropped open. "What!? But, why? It was our bunk bed! I thought-"

Benji sighed and slipped into the room so he could flop onto the mattress. "Our feet were always hanging off. We're too tall for it."

Lance looked personally offended. "But, but it was the bunk bed! We played pirates on that, and I fell off the top bunk and sprained my ankle when I was seven!" He looked ready to cry, and Keith buried his laughter into his sleeve.

"Dude, it's literally in the next room."

"Well, yeah! But now I don't have a cool bunk bed!"

"Lance, you're a college kid. You don't need a bunk bed." Benji shook his curly wet hair to wring it out. "Plus, now you can share a bed with Keith. Cuddling and gay stuff, right?"

That made Keith's laughing stop short. Cuddle? Share? As in, share a bed with Lance Sanchez? As in, sleeping next Lance? Keith felt his skin go pale and his palms get sweaty around the handle of his suitcase.

Benji chuckled. "Cut the crap, Lance. You know you're excited, now you guys can have sex and no one will bother you."

"BENJI!" Lance screamed, suddenly hitting his brother with the end of a pillow. "What the heck? You can't just say stuff like that casually! You're, like, twelve."

"I'm sixteen!" Benji countered.

"Get. Out." Lance grabbed Benji's arms and practically kicked him out of the room. "Get out, right now, leave us, leave-"

"Have fun!" Benji called before the door slammed in his face. "Use protection!"

It was quiet between the two of them, now that Benji was gone from the room. Lance stood with his ear against the closed door, eyebrows furrowing in concentration.

"Is he gone yet-"

"SHH."

Keith rolled his eyes and moved to the bed, dragging his suitcase behind him. "He's gone, Lance. You can chill."

After a moment, Lance finally moved away from the door. "You never know. Benji is a little shit." "Yeah," Keith agreed, flopping down on the bed and stretching out onto the pillow. "But you love him."

Keith wasn't sure what it was that had urged him to say that, but a part of him was glad he did. It was worth it just to see the content, serene look on Lance's face.

"Yeah," Lance agreed, eyes staring at nothing. "I really do."

Keith wasn't sure what it was, but he found himself asking a question that was, in a way, very un-Keith-like.

"Tell me about your siblings."

Lance's ears perked up, and he raised an eyebrow. "Seriously?"

Keith shrugged and stretched a bit more on the bed, his shirt riding up an inch to show pale skin. "Yeah. I mean, I'll be with them for two weeks. I wanna know what I'm getting into."

Lance took a seat on the bed next to Keith and began to untie his shoes. "Well you've met all of them but Sophia. We don't see her anymore."

"Really? I thought all your siblings loved you." Keith couldn't help the teasing hint in his voice.

"Oh, hell no. I used to fight with Daniel all the time. He's just matured since he got married and had a kid. And Cleo? Hell, I was awful to her as a kid. When she was a newborn and I was six, I bit her foot and made her bleed because my mom wasn't paying attention to me."

Keith laughed. That definitely sounded a like a Lance thing to do. "She doesn't seem to hate you now."

"Nah," Lance agreed. "We're older now. That rivalry is long gone."

"So," Keith toyed with the drawstring of his sweatpants, grey ones he'd worn for the long drive. "Why does Sophia hate you?"

Lance's face paled, and he bit his lip. "I don't really, I just. I don't know. Why are we even talking about this?"

Keith shrugged. "Um, because we're bonding?"

A huff escaped Lance's lips. "Whatever. Bonding moment is over." Lance launched himself from the bed and reached for his suitcase, signalling that the conversation was at a close.

Keith couldn't help but wonder if Lance was keeping stuff from him. Okay, scratch that, Keith knew for a fact that Lance was keeping away info. But did Lance really need to tell him anything at all? They were just pretending. This relationship was a fake one, and Keith only considered himself Lance's mutual friend, if that at all. They could keep their secrets, they could do whatever the hell they wanted.

Keith moved onto his side so he was facing the wall. "I'm gonna take a nap," He told Lance half heartedly. Lance responded with a lazy grunt, signalling that he'd heard.

After a few moments of silence between the two, Keith felt his eyelids grow heavy. He closed them fully, and slowly his breath evened out into sleep.

Day 1

3:18 P.M.

Something strange nudged itself against Keith's neck, a tongue tracing against his hairline. A sensation of warm breath put his hairs on end, and in his state of sleep, Keith moved into the touch. A low groan slipped from Keith's throat, and the tongue continued to slip against the goosebumps on his neck.

What a wonderful dream this was.

"Lance," He mumbled into the pillow, his eyes still closed shut from sleep. A small puddle of saliva stained the fabric beneath his open mouth, and in his dreaming state Keith continued to murmur incoherent words.

The feeling of rough scales scraped Keith's neck, and suddenly his eyes shot open. If he hadn't been awake before, he was definitely awake now.

And in bed with him? Curling next to his back, long reptilian tongue hanging from it's mouth, was a three foot long iguana.

Keith screeched so loud that the iguana launched itself from the bed, only to scurry across the hardwood floor and slip into the arms of little Mateo.

Flung into a sitting position, Keith had sweat on his forehead and ragged breath whistling through his teeth. "What-" He wheezed between breaths, his pupils dilated and his heart pounding. "Was that?"

Mateo's high pitched, small voice answered him. "That was Greedo!"

"Greedo?" Keith questioned the boy. "The lizard's name-" He gulped down some air and attempted to calm down his rapid pulse. "Is Greedo?"

"It's an iguana!" Mateo announced while stroking the iguana's head. "I brought him in here to say hello, but you were asleep." Mateo was crawling onto the bed with the iguana now, and he tugged at the strange blanket Keith was wrapped in. Since when had Keith been in a blanket? He didn't recognise the soft fabric or remember ever falling asleep with it.

As Mateo squirmed to get beneath the comforter, Greedo escaped from the child's grasp. Keith shrieked and scrambled to the corner of the bed, attempting to get as far away from the iguana as possible.

"Why is he so big?!" Keith yelped frantically, pushing his body up against the interjoining walls. He was cornered, and the iguana didn't seem to be moving anywhere, just flicking it's ugly reptile eyes.

God, why did the Sanchez family have so many animals? Lance claimed they didn't live on a farm, but so far this felt like a bloody zoo. Chickens, a goat, a dog, and now an iguana? What was next? Tigers?

Mateo squealed. "He likes you!"

Keith stuttered and turned his eyes to Mateo with a plea for help. "G-Get him away from me!"

Mateo reached for the Iguana and pulled him into his lap. He treated the creature like a stuffed animal, but with more care and compassion. He'd stroke the reptile's head and hold him close to his chest, as if the iguana was a small kitten. Except Greedo had scales, not fur, and was probably more than half the size of Mateo himself.

"It's alright, Greedo," Mateo whispered to the iguana, patting his head thoughtfully. "Keith is just scared because he doesn't know you very well. Don't be sad, you are very unique. That's what my mami tells me!" He sounded out the syllables of 'unique' as if he was still trying to learn the word correctly. "Keith will think so too after he gets to know you."

Mateo was such a puzzle. The boy was so kind and warmhearted. Yet, the way he spoke to the Iguana made Keith wonder if the five-year-old had heard those exact same words too, but from his own parents.

Keith sighed and crawled off the bed. Peering at the full length mirror hanging from the wall to his right, Keith noticed his hair was a wild mess of bedhead. He cursed under his breath, hoping Mateo hadn't heard, and began running his hands through his hair to fix it.

"You sleep talk," Mateo declared nonchalantly.

That caught Keith's attention, making him pause and turn his head. "What?"

"You sleep talk!" Mateo repeated, and this time the two were making eye contact. Keith didn't like looking in people's eyes, especially with a small five-year-old whose eyeballs practically bore holes in his skull.

Keith frowned. "No I don't."

Mateo giggled. "Yeah you do! You like to say Uncle Lance's name. You say it lots. You go, 'Lanceee, Lancceee, Lanccee'. "

That sent a shiver up Keith's spine.

Alright, so maybe he had dreamt about Lance. But that was obviously just a random dream, it didn't really mean anything. He had dreams about guys all the time! It wasn't like he actually wanted to make out with Lance. That was a stupid idea.

Except, no matter the excuses Keith forced into his head, he still felt anxiety creep and crawl and muddle his insides.

"Do you dream about him?" Mateo wondered aloud. "Do you-" He gasped. "Do you love him? "

Keith had no idea what he was doing, or what the hell he was even saying. But he found himself doing it anyway.

"Mateo," Keith whispered, suddenly leaning down next to the bed so that the two were eye level. He was fully ignoring the iguana now, not caring when it crawled past him and out the door. "Can you keep my sleep talking a secret?"

The five year old nodded his head instantly, eyes round in anticipation.

"It's a big secret, and you're the only one who gets to know." Keith was now holding Mateo's hands, clasping the small palms in his own.

Mateo was taking this very seriously, his little eyebrows furrowed and his bottom lip slightly puckered. "Yes, I can keep your secret. I am good at secret keeping,"

Keith nodded. "We're partners now, partners in crime."

"Wow," Mateo whispered even quieter, squeezing Keith's hands. "I think we are good partners in crime."

And then something strange happened; Keith smiled. It wasn't that Keith didn't smile, he did at least every now and then. But this grin, this one was different. This was caused by an odd feeling that felt foreign to Keith, a sense of protectiveness. Normally Keith despised kids. But Mateo? He suddenly had the urge to hold him and never let go.

Why? Because they were partners in crime.

Day 1

3:49 p.m

After chasing down Greedo and banishing him to his cage, both Mateo and Keith decided it was time Keith go back to the family. Falling asleep not even an hour after arriving wasn't the best way to make a first impression, and Keith regretted ever letting his head touch the pillow in the first place.

Keith realized later on that the Sanchez family didn't care about first impressions. At least not in the way Keith thought they would.

"I'm sorry I couldn't make you a welcome home dinner," Rosa rambled on as she raced across the kitchen to grab her car keys. They hung from a family key hook next to the fridge, a large yoda keychain dangling from the ring. Benji came sprinting past the kitchen with a guitar case in hand, Josie fumbling behind while still attempting to tie her shoelaces.

"Mamá ! We've gotta go!" Benji raised his eyebrows impatiently and pointed towards the front door. "It starts in ten minutes!"

"Again, I'm sorry," Rosa repeated, all while ignoring her impatient son. "Danny and Rachel will be here, but I think Rachel took Mateo to buy Christmas gifts."

Lance just smiled, swatting at his mother to get going. "Don't worry about it, Mamá ."

"It's just-" Rosa continued, never stopping or halting to breathe. "Benji has guitar practice at four, Josie has girl scouts and Cleo-"

"Ma," Lance calmed her, holding her shoulders and kissing her hairline. "It's okay. Keith and I can eat a frozen pizza."

The woman sighed, accepting defeat. She stood in Lance's arms for a moment, still and clutching her son's arms.

"Are you sure?"

Lance nodded. "You gotta buy me donut's while you're out, though."

Benji groaned, practically swinging his guitar case around in annoyance. "Mamá! I'm gonna be late!"

Rosa scowled before shouting behind her, "Just get in the car, Benjamin! I'll be right there."

Lance chuckled and gave his mother another hug, her head just barely scraping the bottom of Lance's chin.

Keith felt absurd; he was a stranger imposing on an exchange between mother and son. It was so foreign to Keith- he couldn't remember a single time ever being held like that.

"Anyway," Rosa continued, moving away from her son and grabbing her purse from the kitchen counter. "I will be making a welcome home meal, whether you like it or not."

"Anything I want?"

Rosa nodded. "Anything you want."

With that she was gone, Josie scrambling to catch up in her girl scout vest.

Once Rosa had left with the children, Keith and Lance were left to their own devices. The only other individuals in the house were Greedo, Danny (who just happened to be passed out on the couch with a two year old girl asleep on his chest,) and Terminator - the dog.

Keith had never been a huge fan of dogs. If anything, Keith was a cat person. They were cuddly and soft, they rubbed their fur against your legs and purred. Dogs though, dogs were terrible. They slobbered, they smelled, and they jumped on you at the most inconvenient of times. Terminator was all of those things - and more. Keith was amazed at how much Lance loved the creature, or even how Lance could tolerate kissing that slobber covered dog mouth.

Keith leaned against the counter and took a bite out of an apple, watching as Lance popped a frozen pizza into the oven.

"Isn't your Mom - I don't know - worried we'll have sex with the house empty?"

Lance's face squirmed in disgust and he slammed the oven door closed. "Um, ew? No?"

Keith swallowed down another bite. " Really think about it. We're two college students, 'supposedly' dating, and she just left us home alone."

"We're not home alone - there's Danny and Isabella." Lance pointed through the kitchen door and into the living room, motioning to a sleeping father and toddler.

Keith gave Lance a blank stare. "You and I both know you've had sex with people in the same building."

"I have not!"

A snort. "Remember Rolo?"

Lance paled, the pink leaving his dark cheeks. He slowly shut the door to the oven, all while looking blankly at anywhere other than Keith.

"That was - That was a one time thing."

"Hunk said he heard you three times."

Lance cursed under his breath, all while viciously tossing the pizza box into the recycling. "That traitor."

Keith chuckled into his hand, having finished his apple. He tossed the core into the garbage and turned to face Lance. "So, what I'm saying is, if your Mom asks? What should we tell her?"

"My Mom isn't gonna ask if I have sex. That's weird."

"But if she asked. What then? "

Lance groaned, running a hand through his hair and striding through the kitchen and into the basement. "Well, if my mom asks about my sex life, I'll just have to lie."

"And say what?"

Lance never missed a beat, speaking as if the answer was completely acceptable.

"Say that we have sex."

It was Keith's turn to go pale, the bluntness of Lance's words making Keith stutter. Keith was fine with lying about having sex. This was a fake relationship, it required lying, so that was fine. What he wasn't fine about was that it was Lance.

Lance made Keith angry . He pushed his buttons and plucked at his skin, he annoyed Keith to no end. It was a miracle they'd survived the trip a full day, let alone agree to it in the first place.

Except, despite Lance's flaws, annoyances, and the things he did that made Keith want to scream- Lance was a funny guy. The two actually got along when they weren't bickering, usually bonding over video games, movies, even the torment of their other friends. Sure they bickered a lot, but after that? They could laugh. The two of them may not have been best buds, but they were definitely friends, in a weird, twisted sort of way.

"So," Keith muttered, changing the subject drastically. "What movie do you wanna watch?"

Day 1

5:57 P.M.

"I can't believe we're having this conversation," Keith whispered, fingers rubbing his temples. "It's a fight - our first fight as a couple."

Lance sat on the floor of the basement, a circle of DVDs placed around his crossed knees. They were the Star Wars movies, each placed in order from best to worst. The two boys had originally planned on finding a simple move and popping it into the DVD player - not this deep conversation that they'd already had several times before.

"Don't be so dramatic - this isn't our first fight." Lance mumbled this as he continued to shift his movie order, placing 'Revenge of the Sith' right next to 'The Phantom Menace'. "I merely said that The Force Awakens was on the same level as A New Hope. That doesn't mean you have to get all theatrical on me."

Keith groaned, (rather dramatically) and stretched his body across the red couch. "But, it's not on the same level! 'The Force Awakens' was a cinematic masterpiece! It should be right there next to The Empire Strikes Back!"

Lance paused, almost dropping the DVD in hand. "Bullshit-" He cursed, voice low. "The Empire Strikes Back is the best . I will fight you on this."

"I never said it wasn't the best - it obviously is - but what I'm saying is that TFA is also super good!"

"But it's not," Lance whined. "Finn was annoying."

Keith gasped. "Finn is my boyfriend!"

"I thought I was your boyfriend."

Again making another noise of frustration, Keith sat up straighter on the couch and flopped his legs to the floor. "Fake boyfriend." He paused, folding his arms over his chest. "My point is - don't diss The Force Awakens."

Lance began to name things off with his fingers, a glint in his eye that Keith could only recognize as malice.

"There was Finn who complained - way too much. Rey was super hot but, like, she didn't ever use that staff of hers? Like, what the fuck? And Poe was barely in the show and was obviously the best character-"

"Alright, I'm done. I'm done with this conversation. We're watching something else."

Keith stood up and wrenched the DVD cupboard open, revealing colorful shelves lined with movies. He trailed his hand along the spines, stopping until he found one he deemed satisfactory.

Without Lance's opinion to stop him, Keith immediately popped the DVD into it's player by the wall. "We're watching this one," He exclaimed, grabbing the remote control from the coffee table.

"What is it?"

"If I tell you you'll start to complain about something they did wrong. I just want to enjoy a movie." Keith plopped back onto the couch and grabbed a pillow, wrapping his arms around the cushion and burying in his nose.

As soon as the title screen came on, an excessive groan erupted from Lance's side of the couch. "Back to the Future? Are you kidding me?"

"Nope-" Keith bellowed, placing a finger over Lance's lips. "No talking. We're gonna enjoy this."

As the movie began, Keith noted how tired Lance was. The boy had tried his hardest not to show it before, what with meeting his family again and introducing them to his famous boyfriend. Now that it was silent, the two of them wrapped in blankets on the basement couch. It was serene; the lights had turned down low, and the two were finally able to relax.

"You can fall asleep," Keith whispered twelve minutes in, watching as Lance's heavy eyelids struggled to stay open. "I'll tell you what happens."

Lance's voice was barely intelligible, mixed with sleepy hums and the slow fall of his head. "I've, I've already, I've already seen it."

Keith smiled, instead pulling Lance's blanket higher up over his chest. "Sleep."

Lance didn't need to be told again. He was out, eyes tightly closed, mouth hanging open to release soft snores. It was cute - even if he was slobbering.

Keith enjoyed the movie for a few more minutes before it happened: Lance's head falling against Keith's shoulder. He snuggled up against his right side, unconsciously burying his head into the crook of Keith's neck.

Keith blushed, feeling embarrassed despite being the only other person in the room. He couldn't move either - Lance had latched himself on and refused to let go.

What was he supposed to do? Push Lance away? That would wake him up, and no matter how badly Keith wanted his arm back, the innocent look Lance wore was enough to stop him.

Maybe Keith could just close his eyes too. The idea was intriguing - he'd been up driving all of the night prior.

Keith finally gave in, letting his eyes drift close just as Lance's had. He didn't even bother to turn off the movie; all to fall asleep with his cheek pressed against the fuzz of Lance's hair.

Day 2

Saturday, December 17th

9:17 A.M.

Keith woke up to find Lance slobbering against his shoulder.

It wasn't a pleasing sight - the boy was never a pretty sleeper. He always slept with his jaw hanging wide open, slobber dangling from a lip and snores pulsing in through his mouth and out through his nose.

"Shit," Keith murmured with sleepy eyes, rubbing at a sharp pain that jabbed itself at the base of his neck. It was no doubt caused from his terrible sleeping position, and Keith already had Lance to blame.

Lance snored against Keith's shoulder, preventing every attempt Keith might've made at escape. After Keith's fourth try he finally gave up, officially pushing Lance forcefully off his right side. Lance gurgled a few incoherent words as his body flopped against the basement carpet, and Keith only snickered when Lance continued to snore.

The idea of the Sanchez family - a family of strangers - seeing Keith with bed head should've made Keith feel anxious. It normally would've, had it not been for the equally embarrassing bedhead that Cleo and Benji sported.

"Morning," Cleo gurgled into her cheerios when Keith arrived up the basement stairs. "You have fun sleeping on the couch?"

Keith rubbed at his eyes. "Not even close. Lance hogs everything, even my shoulder."

Benji snorted and set down a glass of orange juice. "That's what you get for bein' nasty."

Keith would've responded, though he strangely felt it not his place. This was Lance's brother, Lance's best friend, Lance's sibling. It would feel, well, strange for Keith to partake in the banter.

"Your hair is great. Just by the way." Cleo smiled up at Keith again, this time a mouth full of milk. Feeling awkward, Keith absentmindedly ran fingers through his hair, feeling the stiffness the couch cushions had shaped it to become.

"T-Thanks?" Keith stuttered, not sure how to act. It was different when Lance was there - Lance always masked Keith by being so enthusiastic. Keith could stand by the sidelines and smile, watching the family events go by without ever having to participate. However, without Lance? That's when he felt vulnerable. And there Keith was, standing in his wrinkled clothes from the day before, all by himself in the kitchen.

"You don't have to be scared, you know."

Keith's eyes widened at Cleo's words, and he felt his shoulders tense.

"You really don't," She continued, standing up to put her bowl in the sink. "We aren't going to judge you here. I know it's strange, meeting your boyfriend's family, but we don't bite."

"Sometimes. Sometimes we don't bite."

Cleo threw Benji a nasty look, one that only made him snicker into his arm.

"What I'm trying to say-"

Benji stood up and cut Cleo off, placing a firm hand on Keith's shoulder. "Is don't worry, man. Cleo's right- we don't judge. We're just glad you make Lance happy." With one firm squeeze to the shoulder Benji had moved, taking his bowl to lay in the sink beside Cleo's.

Keith bit his lip, watching as Benji took the stairs up to his room two at a time.

He knew that Benji's words were meant to be kind. And it's true - they did calm Keith's anxieties, as well as his fears of disapproval. Still, Keith couldn't help but feel a swell of guilt. They were lying to this family, and the worst part was that Keith wanted to keep doing it.

Once Benji was gone Cleo showed Keith around the kitchen. She pointed out where he could get cups for water and the cereal cupboard; she even showed him the kid's drawer. This was a 'special' drawer, one only used by Josie and her younger cousins. It held many things; plastic bowls covered in ninja turtles, plates designed with Disney princesses, even a large cup with Princess Leia on the front. Some looked old, the images on the plastic slowly grown to fade with every use. One plate in particular stood out to Keith, and he pointed at it immediately.

"What's that one?"

Cleo noticed the plate and snorted. It was a white plate, though the original color had obviously faded to a thin yellow. The plate was covered in marker, all drawings done by a child.

"My mom thinks she's really crafty? But she's not, she hasn't sewn a dress or made greeting cards once in her life. Anyway, when we were kids she'd try to think up new crafts for us. One of them was drawing on a plate, which is sort of weird? Anyway, that one is Lance's."

Raising an eyebrow, Keith grabbed the plate from the drawer to inspect it. The drawing was terrible, probably done when Lance was five or six. It was in all blue, the lines thin and shaky.

After examining the plate, Keith came to realize that the drawing was of two people: A small boy and an older girl. Their bodies were round and their arms simple lines, reminding Keith of potato people. In the corner of the plate was a small note, one written in handwriting that obviously belonged to Rosa.

'Sophia and me' by Lance Sanchez

Age six

March, 2001

Keith swallowed, realizing how valuable the plate in his hands was. He set the plate back down softly.

"Anyway," Cleo continued, shoving the steep drawer back into place. "You should go wake Lance up. I hear you two are babysitting today?"

Day 2

Saturday, December 17th

5:21 P.M.

Keith considered his first 'official' day at the Sanchez house to be rather successful. No issues ensued and no one suspected the fake relationship, thus only sedating Keith's worries. The two boys had lounged about at the beginning of the day, all before getting roped into an impromptu babysitting job.

Keith had mostly taken care of Mateo, Lance more preoccupied with Josie and Mateo's little sister, Isabella. Mateo had obviously taken a liking to Keith, constantly pulling him by the fingers to show him objects of interest. Mateo's admiration might've skyrocketed even higher when Keith let the small boy draw scribbles on his legs, turning Keith's pale skin a bright mesh of green, yellow, and red crayola marker.

When Rosa and Mateo's parents returned with groceries, Lance and Keith were both relieved to be free of children. Mateo ran off to ride his bike out front with Rachel, telling his mother in a rather excessive voice about all the fun things he'd done that day.

"Keith is nice," Mateo explained, pointing in Keith's general direction. "He let me draw on him."

The hours dragged by, leading into the late afternoon. Rosa began dinner, recruiting her children for the task. Keith hadn't been given a job, and just watching them from the island made him feel useless. Mrs. Sanchez stood behind a large cutting board, slicing pieces of chicken with a sharp knife. Benji was shucking corn at the kitchen table, and Lance was supposed to be unloading the dishwasher.

Keith found himself at Rosa's side, watching her cut the chicken intently. He cleared his throat. "Mrs. Sanchez?"

The woman looked up and raised her eyebrows. "Hmm?"

"Do you, uh-" Keith stuttered and found he couldn't make eye contact with her. "Do you want me to do that?"

The moment he asked the question her lips turned into a smile. A happy wrinkle appeared at the crease of her eyes, and she nodded her head. "Of course! Help is always welcome." She turned and pointed at the large sink with her knife. "Wash your hands first."

Keith obediently nodded and moved to do as he'd been told. Lance, whose body draped over the island, had his phone in hand.

"Why are you helping?" Lance questioned, looking up from his phone.

"Because it's nice ." Keith scrubbed at his hands with soap a little too harshly. "Shouldn't you be unloading the dishwasher or something?"

Lance's eyes widened. "Fuck!" He scrambled around the island to reach the dishwasher. "I forgot!"

Mrs. Sanchez whacked her son with a towel, and her voice was scolding. "Language, Lance."

"Shit, I'm sorry!" He mumbled, and he flinched when he realized he'd cursed again. "Sorry! Sorry sorry sorry Mom I-"

She whacked him again for the second time he swore, and he squealed like a child, racing away from his mother's reach. Keith heard Benji's snickers from the kitchen table.

"Come back and unload the dishes!" His mother called out when Lance scurried away into the living room. She sighed and turned to Keith, handing him the cutting knife.

"Make sure he actually unloads." Mumbling a few words in spanish under her breath that Keith couldn't understand, Mrs. Sanchez grabbed a large plastic bowl and headed towards the back door. "I'm grabbing vegetables from the garden," She notified Keith. "Don't let him use his romantic charms on you! He'll do anything to get out of chores!"

Keith felt himself blush and he immediately began to protest, "That's not-"

He couldn't finish what he was saying, instead watching the small woman shut the glass screen door behind her. He signed and turned to the chicken, knife in hand.

After about a full minute of staring at the raw chicken, Keith realized that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing.

Why did he think this was a good idea? He'd never really cooked before. Well, some of his foster parents had taught him a few things, like how to use measuring cups and the difference between tablespoons and teaspoons. But everything else? Keith had no idea.

Benji must've noticed that he was at a loss, because he stopped peeling the corn husk. "Keith?" He questioned. "You need help?"

"Uh-"

Benji didn't let Keith finish, instead yelling across the house; "LANCE! Your boyfriend can't cook!"

Somehow, Lance had managed to appear in the kitchen within record time. "So-" Lance declared, his face triumphant. "I've finally found something that the great Keith Gyeong cannot do."

Keith rolled his eyes. "Please don't be immature about this. "

Lance giggled. "Oh, hell yeah I will. You, the boy with the straight A's can't cook. I'm never letting this go, I'm gonna rub it in all the way until you-"

"Shut up," Keith murmured, pressing his palm against Lance's mouth to promptly end his taunting. "Just teach me how to prepare this chicken before I slap you."

Lance chuckled and moved Keith's hand away from his face, instead leading it towards the sink. "First, wash your hands. We don't want Keith cooties in our dinner."

"I already washed my hands, this is just-"

"Wash them!"

Sighing, Keith did as he was told. He moved his hands under the running water of the sink, rubbing soap suds across his skin.

"Now," Lance continued, pointing at the large knife. "Cut the chicken my young padawan."

Trying his hardest not to make a sly remark, Keith grabbed the knife and moved in front of the cutting board, cautiously cutting the raw meat in thin, uneven strips.

"Like this?"

Lance shook his head. "You're terrible, no, here-" He moved behind Keith, reaching his arms around to grab Keith's wrists. Moving their right hands in alignment, Lance slowly moved Keith's hand to cut the chicken. It was a strange (and rather awkward) experience, especially with Lance's breath tickling the hairs at Keith's neck. Keith felt himself blush, every brush of skin on skin sending electricity down his spine.

"You have to cut them thicker and with even strokes."

Keith protested. "But I was!"

"No, you weren't! Yours look like little string cheese hybrids!"

Keith scowled and turned in Lance's arms, the awkwardness momentarily forgotten. "Um, no! I cut my chicken like chicken strips! That has chicken in the name!"

"Do you guys always fight like a married couple?" Benji called from the kitchen table.

Keith and Lance turned to look at Benji at the same time, both of them now reminded that they had an audience. A blush crept across Keith's cheeks, and he suddenly remembered the arms around his hips.

Lance swallowed. "Um...no?" "Yes, we do. It's just how healthy relationships go." Keith glared at Lance violently, a threat in his eyes that screamed; 'Agree with me!'

"OH!" Lance's eyes widened. "Oh, oh yeah. Yeah, okay, fighting." Lance shifted into gear. "Fighting is healthy, we do fighting. Lots of fighting. Intense fighting, fighting with our mouths, fighting over clothes, fighting in bed, fighting in the shower-"

"Lance."

"-So like, don't worry if we start to beat each other up. It's 'cause we love each other. It relieves sexual tension."

"Lance!"

"What?" Keith let his palm slap against his forehead and moved from Lance's arms. "Just stop talking."

Benji stood up from the kitchen table with corn husks overflowing in his arms. "O-kay." He muttered, awkwardly waddling over to the backdoor with the husks. "I'm just going to leave now."

"No!" Lance tripped his way to Benji, flailing his arms to grab the corn husks. "I'm feeding the chickens. You make dinner instead."

"But what about teaching-"

"No!" Lance repeated, already stealing the husks from his brother, who looked personally offended. "Keith, come with me. I don't want you cutting yourself with the knife."

Somehow, Lance had magically found a way to maneuver out of unloading the dishes, making dinner, and having to deal with his little brother. Mrs. Sanchez was right, he truly was a master escapee.

"Alright, what the hell was that."

The two of them had escaped the kitchen just moments before, now walking towards the chicken coop in the yellow field behind the house. Tall, uncut field tickled at Keith's thigh through his sweatpants, the straw colored grass all the way past his knee.

Lance stepped over a fallen branch, his attention purposely pointed at the desert mountains standing high in the far distance. "I was helping you cook. You should know, you were there."

"I mean, obviously." Keith bit his lip, his gaze thoughtful. "But, like, your arms were around my waist. It was weird."

"Suck it up, man." Lance took a step over a stray rock. "It was a show for my brother. Fake dating is gonna include fake flirting."

Keith swallowed. "I guess that makes sense."

As they reached the chicken coup, a nasty scent wafted in through Keith's nose. Looking through a wall of barbed wire, Keith counted nine chickens, all squawking loudly when Lance moved to unhook the gate's hinge.

"God, that stinks," Keith murmured while pinching his nostrils together. "What is it?"

"That, my friend, is fine cooked chicken shit."

Lance climbed into the shed slowly, maneuvering so that none of the birds could escape the barbed wire. "Hello, Ladies," Lance sang, clicking his tongue as he tossed around the corn husks. "Did you miss me?"

Keith stared in awe. "What the hell are you doing, man?"

"Giving the ladies some love," Lance cooed again, reaching down to hold one of the chickens and cradle her in his arms. "Isn't that right, er-" He looked down at a green tag that was wrapped around her leg. "-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle."

A laugh exploded from Keith's chest. What fucking idiot named their pet chicken 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle'?

"Hey!" Lance cried, slowly setting down TMNT so she could squabble off into a pile of corn husk. "Don't make fun of my children like that."

"Your children?" Keith questioned, disbelief in his voice. Keith leaned on his hip from the other side of the barbed wire, tapping his chin. "Who's the father?"

"You, duh." Lance said this matter of factly, rolling his eyes. He leaned down to pet some of the other chickens. "You're my boyfriend, and these are our children that we raised from infancy."

Keith deadpanned. "I have lived on this property for a total of one day, Lance. These feathery pieces of meat are not my children."

Lance gasped, throwing his head back with dramatic flare. "How dare you say that in front of the children!" Lance flung himself onto the chicken coop floor, flinging his arms about like a primadonna. "I am distraught, Keith! Distraught!"

Keith rubbed at his temples, groaning deep at his throat. "Get up, idiot. You're lying in the chicken shit."

"No," Lance pouted, swinging his head to the side. Chickens all squawked and chirped around him, some even crawling over his legs and arms. "I am one with the children. They need me Keith, they're motherless!"

One of the chickens, a brown one with a ID tag that said "United States Postal Service 2.0 ", began to nip at Lance's dark brown hair. Keith decided that Lance was way too comfortable lying among ugly ass birds. And, surprisingly enough, the chickens were comfortable with him too. Was Lance a bird whisperer? How did Lance even have friends?

"You're literally the weirdest person I have ever met."

"You love it."

Keith scowled. "No, I tolerate it. I'm getting laundry out of this." Keith pulled his hair into a ponytail with the sun beating down on his head, warming him up and causing sweat to trickle against his skin. "Now I'm leaving, this is too embarrassing."

Lance whined something that Keith couldn't understand, mostly because one of the chickens had crawled over his face. Just as he was about to turn on his heel and head back to the house, Keith decided to do one last thing.

"Smile!"

Keith snapped the fastest photograph he'd ever taken, capturing a slightly blurry image of Lance lounging in a bed of straw, surrounded by bug-eyed chickens. Then Keith was running, phone gripped tightly in hand as his legs pounded across the field. He could hear Lance screeching behind him, but his cries were muffled by the chicken's loud noises.

Keith only looked back for a moment, and a toothy smile spread across his face when he saw Lance struggling to leave the coop. Chickens screamed at Lance, telling him he wasn't allowed to leave. He was trapped, chickens blocking his way to the door and some of them racing around his feet.

"Fuck you, Gyeong!" Lance bellowed with a shaking fist. "You better not send that to Pidge!"

Day 2

Saturday, December 17th

6:10 P.M.

Dinner at the Sanchez household was a unique experience, to say the least.

First of all, Keith didn't even know they sold tables that fit more than six people. There were so many chairs, and even more were added in between the spaces for extra seating. Everyone was squished together, and food was constantly rotating around the table from person to person.

They said grace before dinner, which was something Keith actually did understand. He'd had religious foster parents, and this wasn't much different. He did let his eyes open once, and he'd peeked across the table at Mateo who waved at him.

There were always three conversations going on at the same time, but it was normal to be participating in at least two. There were more than two pitchers of lemonade on the table, and Josie had spilled her cup only five minutes in. There was a lot of laughing, a lot of noise, and a lot of something that Keith just didn't get.

What was it? Domesticity? Love? A sense of belonging? Whatever it was, Keith liked it.

During dinner Keith met Lance's father, Jaime Sanchez. Mr. Sanchez was tall and wiry, his old hands rough and calloused. His hair was graying, but not necessarily balding, and he wore circular glasses on the rim of his nose.

He was nice, Keith would admit. But he was also terrifying, just from the way Jaime looked at Keith. It wasn't disgust or anger that he wore, just frustration. Like a part of him wanted to be grateful that Keith was there, yet another wanted to politely ask him to get out.

Keith also met Daniel's wife, Rachel, who fed cooked carrots to Isabella. The two-year-old sat in a sesame street high chair, an old piece of furniture with the plastic's edges frayed and the cushioned seat ripped. Faded lines of blue and green color marked the tray, like at one time a young Lance had colored all over it in crayola.

Isabella liked staring at Keith. At first Keith thought he just looked scary, but later Lance assured him that his niece, Isabella, just liked to observe new people. She was cute, if you considered orange carrot on a baby's face to be cute. She had a lot of hair, even for a two year old.

"So," Cleo began while picking at her salsa chicken. "How'd you two meet?"

The question wasn't meant to be awkward. It wasn't even a bad question, Cleo genuinely wanted to know. Yet it was obvious from the way Mr. Sanchez's neck stiffened that the question wasn't welcome.

"Maybe we shouldn't talk about Lance's," he paused, "...relationship at the dinner table."

Keith didn't understand why Mr. Sanchez was against this, against Lance and him. Okay, so yes, the relationship was fake. But the Sanchez family didn't need to know that, and something inside Keith made him genuinely angry. They may not have been truly dating , but that didn't mean Keith couldn't feel a sense of protection for Lance. Lance was his friend, or at least some variation.

The strange thing was that Mrs. Sanchez had readily expressed her acceptance and support for Lance. Daniel, Cleo, Rachel, Benji, even Josie, had all showed signs that they loved Lance unconditionally, regardless of his sexuality.

"Actually," Mrs. Sanchez began, looking away from her husband and towards Lance with a motherly smile across her lips. "I'd love to hear the story."

Anyone at the table could see Rosa and Jaime's tension. Rosa had purposely gone against Jaime's request, and it was obvious she didn't want to negotiate with him at the dinner table.

If Keith didn't know any better, he'd say the married couple had opposing views about Lance's sexuality.

Lance swallowed down some chicken. "So you want the story? Well, it's super lame."

"Good!" Benji slammed his fist on the table, earning a giggle from Isabella and a howl from the dog in the next room. "I'm ready to hear it!"

See, Lance and Keith had gone over this in the car ride. It had been Keith's idea to make up a backstory, but it was Lance who did all the actual brainstorming. They'd decided to spring a story from truth, with a few white lies added.

"So," Lance began, setting his fork down so he could talk with his hands. "We sort of met through our roommates, but it's a lot more complex than that. My roommate is this kid named Hunk and-"

"Hunk? Seriously?" Benji snorted.

Lance flicked at his brother's ear. "Hey! Don't bash Hunk! He's my best buddy, and he's really good at drawing and chemistry. You never make fun of someone who's good at drawing and chemistry. Those are the two sacred arts of the universe."

Benji rolled his eyes and took a drink of his lemonade.

"Anyway," Lance continued, moving back into his storytelling mode. "Hunk and Keith are lab partners, so Keith would come over a lot to study. Now Keith's roommate is Shiro, and Shiro's like, super hot."

"How hot?" Benji teased, earning a slap from his sister.

"Shut up!" Cleo cried. "Let him tell the story!"

Lance smiled a devilish grin. "Hotter than Chris Evans."

This initiated a gasp from both Mrs. Sanchez and Rachel. "What!" Rosa declared, her hand near her mouth. "But Chris Evans is gorgeous!"

Lance nodded like he agreed. "Well Shiro? He's hotter. He's probably the sexiest man alive. He used to play baseball in highschool so he's got really muscly arms, but they're not the nasty kind of muscles? So it's super-"

"If Shiro is so hot, why aren't you dating him?" Benji pointed this out with a mouth full of food.

"Benjamin!" Mrs. Sanchez slapped Benji's arm lightly. "That is not respectful to Keith!"

Up until this point, Keith had been fairly quiet. It was now the prime moment for him to strike. "It's alright, Mrs. Sanchez." Keith smiled. "I already know Lance has the hots for Shiro. He asked him on a date last year, and got hardcore rejected. There were roses."

Okay, that wasn't part of Lance's fake backstory. That part was completely true, and did Keith regret bringing it up? No, not really. Lance's jaw dropped open so far that Keith feared it would hit the table. "Keith!" He screeched, almost toppling in his chair backwards. "That was a detail they didn't need to hear!"

Daniel leaned back in his chair and folded his arms over his chest. "Actually, I definitely needed to hear that one."

Lance bore holes into Daniel's skull, ignoring the giggles coming from Benji and Cleo's corner of the table. "Danny, I swear to-"

"Alright," Mr. Sanchez declared, getting up with his dirty plate. "Lance is doing the dishes tonight."

"What? But Dad-"

"No exceptions. That little stunt with the chickens earlier is gonna cost you."

Keith coughed into his arm to mask his laughter. Lance looked like a defeated puppy, watching with sad eyes as his father and many other siblings got up to place their dirty dishes in the sink.

"But I didn't even finish my story," Lance mumbled, now scrunched all the way into his chair.

"Boo-hoo," Keith teased, though he had a friendly smile on his face and his words were said kindly. "I'm sure you can tell it later."

Keith promised himself he wouldn't help Lance with the dishes. Yet, here he was, arms covered in dish soap and fingers pruny. He'd agreed to help, not because he was a nice person or anything, but because Lance was moping in front of the sink like a baby. Bottom lip puckered out, blue eyes big and watery, arms limp at his sides. It was annoying.

"Help me."

"No."

"Help me!"

"No."

"Help me?"

"Fine."

Everyone else had left the kitchen and dining area, most likely to put the children to bed. There had been no leftovers-Lance informed Keith that there never was any-and with Lance at the sink Mrs. Sanchez was left to her own devices.

Lance decided to turn on the radio from the corner of the kitchen. The station played an older song, probably set from the last time Mrs. Sanchez had used it.

"If you dance I'm breaking up with you," Keith muttered, scrubbing at a dish lined with salsa stains.

"I literally just turned on the radio. That doesn't mean I'm gonna dance."

Keith raised an eyebrow at Lance and said nothing, instead motioning to the song with his head. It was oldies. Definitely oldies, and not the type that Keith listened to. No, this song was a Footloose, West Side Story, Sixteen Candles sort of cringe. The kind that turned into memes.

"It's good though!" Lance proclaimed, and he began to move his legs to the beat.

Keith groaned. "No, no way. I literally just said don't dance, please don't do this-" He paused, listening to the song for a moment. "Is this Abba?"

Lance didn't say anything, instead rolling his hips in his slow travel towards Keith.

"No, no don't do that-"

In one swift motion Keith's hands were in Lance's, and Keith was pulled from the sink.

" I've been cheated by you since I don't know when-"

"Lance, don't sing, that's weird."

It seemed that Lance didn't care about what Keith thought. He gripped onto Keith's soapy hands anyway, tugging on his arms towards the center of the kitchen.

Keith tried his hardest to stand as still as possible. He refused to dance, there was no way in the world he would ever do such a thing. Dancing? With Lance? Especially in Lance's kitchen, listening to Lance's radio, Lance's Abba, Lance's house, Lance. Dancing with Lance. No way, not in a million years.

Except, watching his hips move was surreal. Lance seemed to know exactly what he was doing, his moves so completely effortless. It was such a casual dance, entirely simple and unique to Lance alone. And yet, Keith couldn't remember ever seeing someone move so gracefully.

Lance can dance?

"You can dance?"

He blurted it out suddenly, and his tone made it sound like both a question and a compliment. He was mentally banging his head against a wall, because no matter how badly Lance Sanchez annoyed him, the guy kept making Keith rethink. And this moment was one of those rare times when Keith looked at Lance, and for a moment he wondered .

Lance squeezed their palms, a smirk at his lips. "I may be an awkward, clumsy, annoying guy on the outside, but I've got some skills up my sleeve."

Keith swallowed down a lump of air, finding that it was hard to concentrate when Lance was moving so effortlessly. He moved his gaze to literally anywhere other than his dancing partner.

"Yeah but, why? Do the others know you like to dance? Hunk and Shiro, do they know?"

Lance shrugged and spun Keith arround when the beat sped up.

"Nah."

And then he was moving faster. Even though it was meant to be dorky and ridiculous, Keith couldn't help but think it skillful. Natural talent, like Lance hadn't been to a single dance class in his life. Obviously Lance knew nothing about the waltz, or any classic dances for that matter. He just knew how to move.

Lance wasn't singing anymore, just mouthing the words, and Keith was holding back from hitting him.

" Just one look and I can hear a bell ring-"

Keith wanted to scream.

" One more look and I forget everything-"

Keith wanted to take his hands away.

" Woooaahhh-"

Keith gave in.

" Mamma Mia! Here I go again! My my, how could I resist you?"

Maybe dancing with Lance wasn't half bad. As long as no one was there to watch him, as long as it was just Lance, as long as there was no judgment, then yes. Keith would dance with Lance.

And maybe, just maybe, Keith would enjoy it.

Day 2

Saturday, December 17th

9:42 P.M.

Spying on Keith and Lance wasn't something Cleo felt proud of. It hadn't been her original intent to pry, she'd only come down the stairs to grab a glass of water before bed. So did she feel guilty peering at them from behind the kitchen doorway? Yes, of course she did. But was she about to stop her spying? No, probably not.

She didn't consider herself the rebellious one of the family. That title had been bestowed to Lance ages ago, and it was slowly moving it's way to Josie, who most of the time thought it funny to play pranks, hide Benji's phone, and talk back to their Mamá . Cleo liked to think of herself as the responsible child, following Danny, whom the other siblings nicknamed 'the perfect child' due to his exemplary grades, law school scholarship, and american dream family.

So, spying? At almost ten at night? In her pajamas no less, body resting against the hallway wall. It felt ludicrous, and yet she was there, watching, prying, spying, smiling and giggling. What had made her stay?

Honestly? It was the smile on Lance's face.

Lance smiled all the time, that was the signature Lance look. He was a tease, a flirt, a dork, and a prankster. But Cleo was also Lance's little sister, she'd seen him struggle through thick and thin, watched from the sidelines as he attended high school, came out of the closet, attended college. They had pulled at each others hair and broken each other's toys, but at the end of the day she loved him. Cleo liked to think she knew Lance Sanchez. And she knew when he really smiled. She knew the difference between a fake grin and a genuine one, she knew him well enough to recognise when someone made him truly happy.

She hadn't seen him like that since before the Benji incident.

"You're stepping on my feet, idiot," Lance complained, though there was a giggle under his breath and that toothy smirk on his chin. The two boys swayed to the beat of an old eighties song, their hands intertwined and socked feet moving across the kitchen tile.

"Not my fault," Keith countered, his gaze focused solely on his toes to watch for any mistakes (which he was still making, but whatever.)

Lance groaned. "Well it's not my fault! Look-" Lance grabbed Keith's hand and placed it on his shoulder, moving his own palm to Keith's hip. "I'll teach you how to dance, but you're gonna have to listen to me."

"I don't wanna learn," Keith grumbled, though his words were lost to the song. "But whatever, fine, teach me. But I get to lead."

"Nope," Lance countered quickly. "I actually know what I'm doing for once? I'm reveling in this moment."

The song ended and switched to a new one, an old song Cleo recognised but couldn't recall the name of. A distant memory of watching her parents dance to the song on a home video sparked her memory. It had been their wedding, Rosa twirling in a red party dress and Jaime in a casual button up. Cleo wondered if Lance even remembered it's tune. He must've remembered watching it on the old VHS player when they were kids, right? This was her parent's song. And to share it? Keith must be really important. Keith may not have known the song's significance, but Cleo was positive Lance did. And Lance hadn't stopped them from dancing yet.

" Let's dance in style, let's dance for a while, heaven can wait we're only watching the skies…"

Lance swallowed as the song's vocals began, now flustered with red on his cheeks. Oh, Cleo thought, a smirk on her chin. So he does recognise it.

"N-Now when you dance," Lance began, moving to the tune in a slow motion. "You have to count the beats. See? One, two…"

Cleo moved her head a little closer across the door's threshold, watching more intently. They couldn't see her, the boys too preoccupied with each other and the song to ever notice her presence.

After more of Lance's instruction, and a few minutes of beat counts, the two were beginning to get it. Keith stepped on Lance's foot again, and Cleo expected Lance to throw a smart comment. Instead he brushed it off, continuing his lesson like the mistake was nothing. The two of them were blushing, maddeningly so, and it made Cleo giggle into a muffled hand.

"This is hard," Keith complained, and it was obvious he was growing increasingly frustrated. The hand on Lance's shoulder fidgeted, while the other squirmed in Lance's grasp. "I'm doing it wrong."

"No, you're just new." Lance chuckled and squeezed Keith's palm tighter. The two of them began to move at a more casual rate, no longer focused on perfecting the moves, but instead just swaying to the song itself. "Didn't you ever go to a high school dance?"

"No one slow dances at school parties anymore."

"True," Lance agreed, though, and for a few more beats of the song they swayed. Then, ever so quietly, Lance questioned, "We're Slow dancing, right?"

Cleo watched Keith visible stutter. "Don't make it weird, Lance. But, uh, yes. We're slow dancing."

There was a pause. Lance let his eyes wander over Keith's pale skin, trailing from his lips and up to his eyes. Their two gazes locked, and as they danced their eyes continued to stay glued. Neither one dared to rip away.

"Is this alright?" Keith whispered, anxious about pleasing Lance.

Lance nodded immediately. "Yes." Again, that smile, that one that Cleo saw and recognized as absolute, as a grin that Lance only shared with the most worthy. "You're fun to dance with."

Cleo expected them to kiss, she truly thought that's where they were headed. The body language had all pointed to it. The moment was obviously there, the tension was high, their breaths were held. Lance looked at Keith expectantly, afraid to make a noise. Their hands clasped together even tighter, bodies suddenly closer, Keith rubbing his bottom lip between his teeth.

And then they broke apart, both at an awkward three feet away from each other. Cleo let a disappointed whine escape her lips, all before she squirmed again into her own palm.

"What was that?" Lance called out, the radio now shut off and both boys alert. Cleo squealed, racing as quickly and quietly as she could into the hallway bathroom to hide.

Once she was safe, Cleo leaned her head against the locked bathroom door. She slowly came down from the short burst of adrenaline, her body sliding against the wall and to the floor.

Why had they refused to kiss? They were dating weren't they? That's what boyfriends did. Cleo wasn't stupid, she had seen the movies, watched the shows, witnessed the relationships between her older siblings and their high school sweethearts. Cleo knew that Lance and Keith, not kissing, being awkward, blushing red faces, walking around each other, it wasn't normal. This was a crush, not a relationship.

What were they hiding?