They meet around the street corner, at a half past three near the local coffeehouse, and Keith thinks initially he's seeing a shambling ghoul of what was once his best friend.
Probably an exaggeration, but Shiro is usually more tidy and hygienic than this. He usually wears bold, colorful three-piece suits during the weekends at company meetings, and then designer pullovers or long sleeved, chic button-ups in muted grays and blues.
Shiro doesn't look like he's touched a razor in days. Or showered off. There's dark, bruising circles under his eyes, and visible, deepening wrinkles on Shiro's forehead. Sleep deprivation — that's what Keith guesses this is. Eccentric working hours comes to a territory as a famed, mainstream publishing editor.
"You look like hell," Keith says lowly, but with a hint of concern, reaching out with a black coffee. He sits down fully on the curbside to the empty street, draping his arms over his knees as Shiro sits down next to him, groaning out appreciatively.
The first sip should be boiling-hot on Shiro's opening lips against the coffee's rim, but he seems to not be paying attention. Keith's eyes travel over him. Worn, dirtied pair of jeans… old sneakers with scuffs and holes… a black henley with the V-plunge collar, exposing dark, thick curlicues of hair on Shiro's broad chest. Keith swallows down noisily, forcing his eyes back to Shiro's expression. He's so tired.
"That's somehow comforting," Shiro mumbles, his mouth lifting instinctively into a faint smile when he meets Keith's eyes. Keith smiles back, leaning comfortably over himself.
"What's going on?"
Shiro never really mention why they needed to meet up. Just that he needed to talk to anybody. Vent. Keith is glad for it — he hasn't heard from Shiro in a week. Over a week.
"It's gonna sound nuts, but someone is talking to me, Keith. When I'm sleeping." Keith gestures for the black coffee, his fingers brushing Shiro's. They're clammy-hot and quivering. "Like they're inside me," Shiro adds, his bloodshot eyes widening.
Keith blows on the liquid, trying a little sip before chugging a mouthful.
"Yeah, sounds nuts," he replies, smiling harder at Shiro.
(Gotta be fucking with him… right?)
"I thought it was just some bad dreams, but it hurts, Keith. Physically. When he's trying to escape." Shiro doesn't smile back, his features grim and desperate and blanching. "I think he's trying to come here. From the other side where the dreams are… he's trying to come into our world." An ugly, rattling breath leaves Shiro, and Keith sets their drink down on the curb, beginning to frown. "He's trying to become me."
"… … Who is he, Shiro?" Keith asks, his confusion rising.
Shiro's lined, sunken cheeks appear greyer under direct sunlight. "I don't know," he confesses, forcing a humorless laugh. The corners of Shiro's eyes glitter with moisture.
By now, Keith feels more than concerned for his friend, leaning in and burrowing against Shiro's side when the older man presses his face into Keith's hair and leans over. Shiro's arm loosely embraces around Keith's shoulders, and Keith places a hand reassuringly over his.
Whatever Shiro is talking about.… it's clearly not real, but Shiro himself thinks it is. That's all that matters. Keith doesn't want to patronize him about some weirdass dreams.
He offers to hang out with Shiro for a while, and Shiro agrees, much to Keith's relief.
The four-story apartment building is newly refurnished, Keith notices — he's never noticed the smoothly running elevators and bright red and gold carpeting in the hallway. As soon as he enters Shiro's place, a bit of hot, milky bile from Keith's stomach erupts in his throat.
It reeks like garbage never tossed out. Moldy, rotten food in Shiro's fridge. His unwashed gym clothes and takeout boxes are scattered around in heaps, collecting flies.
Keith avoids a questionable stain on the rug, and tells Shiro to nap. In the meantime, Keith tries to quietly straighten up the front room, pitching old, stinky food cartons into a trash bag. Shiro props upright against the wall, opposite of where Keith faces, his eyes shut. One of the couch's blankets enveloping him. Keith monitors him over his shoulder, wrinkling his nose and then continuing to move around the low-rise table.
All of a sudden, he hears Shiro thrashing and choking violently in his sleep.
"Shiro!" Keith calls out, rushing to the other man and dropping into a squat. Keith's hands grasp tightly onto the henley, as Shiro wakes, gagging and heaving for air. Is it sleep apnea? — Keith's mind goes through a hundred terrible scenarios as he coaxes Shiro to wake up, to slowly breathe in, to look at Keith and focus —
He needs a doctor. He needs help. Shiro's dark grey eyes peer frantically over Keith, as he calms down gradually, touching a palm over Keith's face and holding him.
This is not the appropriate time at all to be pining for his best friend, but Keith allows himself a moment to lean into Shiro's palm. Keith's fingertips caress over the exposed V of Shiro's chest through his form-fitting shirt, hovering over the dark curlicues. He's all firm, strong muscle and heat and Keith feels this magnetism between them, not wanting to fight it, their noses pushed up softly together.
Shiro's voice sounds hoarse and needy, and Keith forgets about the bullshit for a while, smacking lips and exhaling, licking along Shiro's molars when the clumsy, moaning kiss deepens. He ends up flat on his back, with a disheveled Shiro rearranging himself over him. His face regains spots of bright color. Keith's legs separate further, as if given an unspoken command when one of Shiro's hands pushes insistently on his thigh. Another hand ends up crawling beneath Keith's hoodie, feeling along for his ribs and his pecs.
He may not smell that great, but Shiro tastes familiar and warm, like the black coffee. Keith can feel his head whirling faster with arousal and nervousness.
The word escapes Keith before he can stop it, kicking himself mentally.
Shiro pauses from lightly rubbing on Keith's nipple with his thumbpad, his expression filtering awe. Keith's humiliation blows up when he feels Shiro's erection throbbing further against him, their hips wedged and grinding in a repeated tempo.
"Say it again," he tells Keith gently, pinning him by the thigh and now Keith's wrist down to the floorboards as well, held unrelentingly in place by Shiro's long, huge fingers. Keith turns his face, reddening when Shiro presses his smirking lips over his jaw and temple teasingly. "It's alright… just wanna hear you say it…"
Keith pants out, screwing up his eyes and gathering his courage before looking back at Shiro. "Aah…" he groans, brows furrowing. "Shiro, touch me please, ah…"
Granting him mercy, Shiro releases his wrists and grins, shoving the hand under Keith's jeans. Keith slams his head backwards on the floor, arching himself when the other man hauls off Keith's jeans and suckles his mouth around Keith. Drool gathers out of his mouth and Shiro huffs, inching and pressing kisses.
Keith doesn't know what to do but shout and squirm, fisting strands of greasy, black hair.
Impromptu sex aside, Keith regrets pushing away Shiro's worries when he knows nothing has been solved. The sun sets in the distance, illuminating the apartment windows in a glow of purplish-pink. Both of them remain on Shiro's floor, cuddling and blissed out.
"You should try to sleep…" Keith whispers, eyeing the older man who flinches.
"Okay…" Shiro whispers back after a long, contemplative moment, his resolve deepening all of his visible wrinkles. "But you have to duct-tape my hands and ankles together."
Keith nods immediately, watching him go to the couch and lie back down. He has no intention of tying up Shiro and instead pretends like he is rummaging for supplies from the closet-door, peeking out when Shiro starts snoring lightly. Thank god.
This is a fucking mess, and Keith doesn't know how to even process it.
Exhaustion weighs down on Keith's eyelids. He dozes off while reclining forward on bar-stool near the dining counter, folding his arm underneath his cheek awkwardly.
Keith's ears lazily pick up a noise like heavy, purposeful dragging. He stirs awake, listening once more to dragging and then a gush of thick, flowing liquid.
A blood-soaked hand reaches over the couch, flailing for purchase.
Keith bolts up, running over to Shiro, and nearly vomits right there. The hand drags itself out of Shiro's wide-open mouth, as if struggling to get free. Fluid and blood pours out, drenching Shiro's chin and eyelids and hairline, as the hand becomes a bigger, muscular forearm. Keith yells for Shiro, hitting him on the stomach roughly and grasping onto him, jerking him back to consciousness in time to witness his panic.
Shiro's right arm has gone missing, the area left as a pit of swollen, mushy darkness. How did something like this happen? What the FUCK is going on?
The dream… Keith realizes. Someone inside Shiro trying to escape… …
Jumping to action, he thrusts his own hand into the puckered, squishy hole leading into Shiro's shoulder-joint, attempting to pull the arm back to its rightful place.
He inhales sharply, as Shiro muffles out a crying, pained sound around the arm and convulses. Keith digs his hand in deeper, and then screams agonizingly at the sensation of his tendons and veins, his arm-bones shattering and cementing together.
There's no pulling out. Keith feels whatever it is yanking him further in.
Shiro's head and jaw begins expanding, to accommodate the sheer girth and size of the body exiting him, until he's nothing more than a jellied, trembling mass. Keith dies, halfway through Shiro's hole. He dies before all of his organs explode Keith's rib-cage splintering into thousands of fragments.
Keith dies, and wakes, having failed to protect the man he loves. No sunset. No apartment building. The skies above him are a dim, cosmic essence. Shiro — whole and untouched — embraces him and gazes around fearfully, silently.
They shudder at the abyssal-darkness, at the menacing, wailing howls and emptiness.
Until that consumes them too.
Voltron isn't mine. MY LAST PROMPT FILL FOR SHEITH PROMPT PARTY 2018! I ended up taking "Junji Ito AU" and also this covers my "Begging" card space for Voltron Bingo - NSFW Genre assignment! I drew heavy and blatantly obvious inspiration from Junji Ito's manga story called "Den of the Sleep Demon" which since it's Halloween month yall absolutely should be reading his stuff. Plenty of spoops to go around! Thanks for reading and any comments/thoughts are so so appreciated!