The worst day of Keith's life should at least have the courtesy to look as miserable as he feels right now.
Southern California's weather feels somewhat cool, despite the projected, summery temperatures, and bright with a cloudless blue sky. He quietly slips off the heavy polyester material of his ivory tuxedo-jacket, folding it over the chapel's steel, black-iron fence, resting his back against it.
Keith fiddles with the white, satiny buttons to his dress-shirt. He becomes increasingly frustrated as one of them unravels and hangs loosely by a single, also white thread. Cheapass tailoring — to be honest, Keith doesn't even know why he bothered going to a wedding-themed rental place nearby.
Or bothered to show up to this.
It took three or four days on Keith's motorcycle to get here, keeping off the main-roads and curling up a lone, empty ditch or two, wrapping up his sleeping bag when the stars peeked overhead, and napping frequently. He didn't have enough money for anything more than gas-station snacks while traveling, let alone for a crappy, roach-infested motel. Had to save it all for this damn expensive and just as crappy tuxedo.
He's not used to being in all white — from the undershirt to Keith's silky bow-tie, and down to the patent leather shoes. Keith decides he'll scrub off the clumps of damp, green grass and soil from the shoes' bottoms and their equally ruined sides once the early morning ceremony is over.
Maybe Shiro won't notice him…
Keith's chest squeezes, like a twinge of a deeply embedded ache, like he's losing air.
One of the wedding guests rolls up in a taxi. She's dressed like a groomsman, with the same bow-tie and a fresh, white rose pinned on her lapel. But in a pair of slimmer and form-fitting trousers, and with noticeable, grey flecks of cigarette ashes to her front. At least, it's easier to notice by Keith's perspective.
"Here, kid—" The woman passes Keith the rosy, lit cigarette between her brown fingers, aiming an overly sympathetic gaze on him. "You look like you need this more."
Keith doesn't say anything, but nods to her and grips it. He watches her climb up the marbled, chapel steps in her two-inch white heels effortlessly, greeting someone he doesn't recognize in the doorway by squealing their name loudly and grinning and hugging them.
A little honey-bee flies across Keith's vision, drawing his attention. It buzzes towards the towering trees planted near the sidewalk. Acacia flowers loom like a spray of cartoonishly sunshine-yellow, and the tree's leaves a silvery-blue. Everything smells warm and pleasant, and Keith wonders why his eyes burn a cold-fire.
He lifts the wilting cigarette to his closed, chapped lips, inhaling slightly.
When he turned fifteen, Keith tried to smoke one of his dad's unfiltered, black-tar cigars, rooting around for the matchbox in the shack, nearly getting caught and slapped on the mouth for it.
Keith doesn't remember why he wanted to have the cigar so badly — to feel more like an adult? To pretend he was? He remembers doing plenty of stupid shit in his life.
That's why he had Shiro, who befriended him in a middle school after Keith got into a physical fight with older, roughneck bully and came to Keith's defense. He guided Keith away from his reckless behavior, for the most part. Shiro convinced Keith to join the military alongside him after Shiro's first tour. They were nearly inseparable for months at a time, and whenever they could be assigned in the same troop.
The stink of hot, caked blood wafts in the air. People yelling in the distance and inside the overcrowded, dusty medical tent, over the warbling sirens going off. Keith feels his adrenaline boiling inside him, as he searches the rubble at his feet—
Keith glances up, dropping the cigarette and wiping his face roughly with his ivory dress-sleeve.
He lets the cigarette smoke trickle between his lips and continues wiping off his red-rimmed eyes, sniffling, when a man exits the chapel, running down the multitude of bleached, carved stone steps. He's in a dark, baggy jersey and the white dress-pants, and domino checker-print sneakers.
Keith barely has time to register why the groom of this wedding isn't standing and waiting at the aisle for his bride, when a widely smiling Shiro hurries over.
He throws his arms around Keith, practically lifting the younger man onto his tiptoes. Keith hasn't been touched by anyone for a long, long time, and Keith's nerves feel both thrilled and overwhelmed by the genuine, comforting intimacy of Shiro's embrace, making him lightheaded.
"Thank god. I didn't know if I was gonna find you," Shiro mumbles, sounding exhausted. He lets go, holding onto Keith's shoulders and peering at him with slow, obvious appreciation. "You look incredible, Keith."
"What's… going on?" Keith asks in a confused, low tone.
It's been almost four years since they had seen each other, and Shiro has a new, scarring ridge that goes all the way across the bridge of his nose — but the same muscular physique from the years of training and combat. A pearly white strand of Shiro's bang flutter over his brow.
"Listen, I'm really sorry I dragged you down here," Shiro tells him, no longer smiling, clasping onto Keith's wrist and pulling him towards the road. "We gotta go. Come on."
"NO—!" Keith raises his voice this time, yanking free and glaring. His eyes feel wet and hotter this time, stinging and beginning to gloss over. The birds are chirping and the sun's out, and people keep laughing and being happy and excited, and Keith feels like throwing up all over his rental shoes.
"What are you doing, Shiro? Why are you—?"
Before he can do something ridiculously embarrassing like actually puking, or break down, a worried Shiro presses in, cradling his hands to Keith's face. "Hey, shhh. Keith, take a breath for me." The other man squeezes his eyes shut and does as he's told, grasping his fingers over Shiro's prosthetic, metal hand. "It's okay. I swear it's gonna be now," Shiro whispers, stroking his thumb over Keith's cheekbone. "You trust me?"
Keith reopens his eyes, glancing over him stubbornly.
"… … With my life, Shiro," he mumbles.
The corner of Shiro's mouth lifts as Keith hugs him back this time, fiercely around his middle. He buries his mouth and nose into the crook of the older man's neck.
"I saw Romelle before I left the chapel. She knows I'm breaking this off."
They're a mile out from Glamis, taking refuge from the sweltering-hot afternoon heat in a small, one person-sized motel room. Thankfully, Shiro had enough sense to grab his wallet and cellphone before abandoning his morning plans, hitching himself onto Keith's motorcycle revving up.
(It was kind of nice to have a passenger with him.)
Keith glances up from removing his white-leather shoes, sitting on the edge of the creaking, box-spring mattress. "On her wedding day?" he says deliberately.
Shiro groans and paces some more, rubbing his palms over his face.
"I shouldn't have done that. I know this was the worst possible timing."
The other man shrugs wordlessly, pulling off his socks as well and stuffing them in the opening of the dress-shoes. It's not like Keith can offer up a rebuttal.
"… How was she?" Keith speaks up, his morbid sense of curiosity peaking.
He doesn't hate Romelle as a person… he hated the situation itself.
"I think a part of her knew this wasn't gonna happen. Neither of us really agreed to an arranged marriage when we were kids." Shiro looks and sounds exhausted this time, flopping down on the mattress next to Keith, talking up to the ceiling. "She made me promise to call her tomorrow. To… figure out the rest of this disaster." Keith turns his head when Shiro's gray eyes crinkle in terror. "… My parents are gonna kill me."
"Her parents are gonna hunt you down, kill you, and leave you out for the vultures while finding someone to resurrect you so they can kill you again."
"Keith… I messed up," Shiro admits, laughing humorlessly. "I messed up so badly."
"It'll blow over eventually, won't it?"
"No, it won't," he says to Keith firmly, but softly, lying motionless and flat on his back to their motel-bed. "Because she's not the one I ended up falling in love with."
—he finds Shiro pinned under the building's heavy, smoky rubble, with his right arm mangled and crushed. When he regains consciousness, Keith jumps up from the ground, cupping the side of Shiro's bleeding head and murmuring his name like it's a hymn, smiling so hard down on him that Keith's mouth feels painful—
Keith blinks out the old, traumatic memory, exhaling shakily and looking away. He doesn't lean out of Shiro's fingers caressing over his bare arm, trailing up his side.
"We can't… not when this all just happened…"
"I know," Shiro whispers, as if it were a grim acceptance. "I know…"
Even so, Keith disregards his restraint that Shiro worked hard to help him achieve, getting up and throwing a leg over Shiro, pushing their hands together on the quilt. The other man allows a frowning, broody-eyed Keith to straddle his lap aggressively.
A chuckle escapes Shiro's opening, smiling mouth, making Keith pause. "I gotta make everything right first," Shiro explains, gazing up. "Let me… then maybe we can…"
Keith's lips surge downwards, covering his with furious, urgent need. He moans into the kiss when Shiro relocks their mouths, sweeping his tongue over the rim of Keith's ruddy, spit-sticky lips, nudging them apart. He releases Shiro's clenching hands, lightheaded once more from a honey-sweet scent of the acacia flowers.
From below him, he feels Shiro's chest rumbling with laughter.
His hands yank off Keith's unbuttoned, ivory dress-shirt and the tank-top, charting all of the exposed, muscular planes on his upper body, until Keith laughs too, overstimulated and ticklish and…
That's how it should be.
Voltron isn't mine. Quote from Mathilde Blind (used for title). Hello! This is my assigned fic for the Sheith Bouquet on Tumblr! The person I got was bulletbats and I chose "Acacia, Yellow - Secret love" for the list of flowers I could use as inspiration! I was completely clueless to what I wanted to do initially but then,,,, here we are. I never got a really solid prompt on what to do besides make it angst, and I didn't come to play lmao. Hope yall like it! Comments/thoughts appreciated!