Disclaimer: Keith, Lance, Sven, and Allura belong to WEP. I just borrow them when I need someone to play with. I receive no monetary compensation whatsoever from these characters, and none of this ever really happened. But there's always hope...
Keith gritted his teeth and stared mutely at the ceiling in appeal, trying in vain to remember why it was he did things like this to himself. It had been a long day and by all rights he should have been fast asleep over an hour ago. Instead he was a prisoner in this stifling dark room, his mind whirling through fantasies he lacked the bravery to attempt in real life.
He hated missions like this one. What should have been a routine meeting with the Denubian Galaxy Security Council had turned into a daylong debate with no hope of a resolution in sight. God alone knew how long these hardheaded bureaucrats would go before finally reaching at least a temporary agreement. As a result, instead of collapsing in the comforting darkness of his own room at the Castle of Lions he was here, desperately trying to convince himself to fall asleep.
Of course, when the meeting had finally ended and the team had been offered quarters for the night, the suggestion had seemed so innocently reasonable. Keith would never have dreamed of not accepting, even when the chamberlain apologized about the sudden shortage of rooms due to the unanticipated number of guests. They'd all slept in the same room more times than he could count. At the very most, Keith expected two rooms: one for the boys and one for the princess. The three rooms they'd been given had come as a total surprise, but still wasn't anything out of the ordinary. It wasn't until he'd been faced with the bed he was going to have to share with Lance that Keith had begun to panic.
It wasn't that Keith didn't want to share the small bed in the dark room with Lance. He desperately wanted the closeness to his best friend that the bed was going to force on them. He wanted to feel Lance's body next to his, to hear the gentle sound of his breathing… Keith cursed at himself silently. His hyper-awareness of Lance's body next to him was bad enough without the help of his overactive imagination. Every shift of the line of warmth against his side brought a moan to his throat that he was using all his will power to stifle. He was absolutely terrified of what he might do once he truly fell asleep.
He gasped in spite of his resolve as Lance shifted slightly next to him, the bare skin of his arm brushing against Keith's. His mind and body aching with need and desire, Keith launched himself out of bed. He gasped in another deep breath, turning his back on the erotic image of the sprawled form under the thin sheet. His mouth set in a determined line, Keith slipped out the door, desperate to find relief.
Lance sighed as the furtive figure slipped through the door of the room. The tension had been thick enough to cut. He'd been so sure that Keith felt the same way… A flush of embarrassment burned across his face. He turned his back on the door and burrowed deeper into the pillow, hoping desperately that he didn't just make a complete fool of himself.
Keith wandered aimlessly down the hallway, trying to shake the shock of contact with Lance's bare skin from his mind. 'This is ridiculous, Keith. You're an adult. Surely you can sleep in the same bed with your best friend for one night, can't you?' He exhaled sharply and leaned back against the wall, his eyes straying to the closed door of his room. 'Who do you think you're kidding? If you walk back through that door, it's going to take more willpower than you possess to not attack him in his sleep. If only he felt the same way…' A sharp pang of longing tore through him. Keith pushed himself roughly away from the wall and headed towards the door leading to the gardens at the end of the hall.
The gardens were cool and soothing in the darkness, the night blooms gleaming white and filling the air with a trace of sweet perfume. Keith dropped down onto a bench as the peace of the night swept over him, eyes closing with exhaustion. He leaned back against the wall.
"What are you doing out here at this time of night?"
Keith jumped upright in surprise. His feet caught on the edge of the bench, knocking him forward to the concrete of the path with a painful smack. He raised his eyes to Sven's with a baleful glare, not bothering to stand up. "You could give someone a heart attack sneaking around like that."
Sven chuckled and offered Keith a hand. Keith allowed himself to be pulled to his feet, turning his murderous glare from Sven to the offending bench. "You didn't answer my question. You're the last person I expected to find here."
Keith frowned in confusion. "Why's that?"
"They gave you and Lance a room alone, didn't they? I figured…" Sven gestured, watching Keith as closely as the faint light of the moon and stars would allow.
"Yeah, well…" Keith turned to look over the gardens, running a hand absently through his tousled dark hair.
"You still haven't told him, have you?"
Keith shook his head violently and spun around to face Sven. "And what exactly am I supposed to say? 'Look, Lance, I can't lie here in the dark beside you like this, because you drive me absolutely crazy?' It's hard enough to face him every day now. If he had any idea how I really felt about him, it would be impossible."
Sven smiled slightly. "You might be surprised."
"Maybe, but I don't really think so." He eyed Sven speculatively. "Why are you out here? You have a room all to yourself, don't you?"
Sven shrugged. "I couldn't sleep. I needed time to wind down. Listening to arguments all day isn't exactly my idea of a sedative."
Keith finally relaxed enough to laugh. "It's not mine, either." He walked over to the far garden wall, letting his gaze sweep over the infinite darkness of the plains beyond the wall. He felt Sven join him, but kept his eyes trained straight ahead, letting a comforting silence descend between them. A cool breeze picked up out of the west, bringing with it the faint scent of grass and dust that marked the endless grasslands. Keith stepped closer to Sven unconsciously, his mind still contemplating the electric shock of accidental contact that had been driving him crazy in the darkness of his room.
Sven shifted slightly, suddenly very aware of the burning warmth of Keith's body next to him. Keith turned to look up at him, eyes shining in the faint light. Sven shook his head slightly. "We can't do this again, Keith. I'm in love with Romelle, remember?"
Keith shrugged, keeping Sven pinned in place with the intensity of his huge black eyes. "I'm in love with Lance. What's the difference? No one has to know."
Sven staggered slightly under the weight of that stare, feeling an answering warmth rush through him. 'No one has to know, and you're still not entirely certain about her anyway, are you?' He tried to shake off the voice, but the closeness of Keith's body was too much of a distraction to concentrate. "Keith…"
Keith cut off the objection through the simple expedient of pulling Sven's lips down to his. At the moment of contact, Sven's hesitation vanished. He pulled Keith closer, his mind totally devoid of thought.
Lance stood in the open doorway, eyes wide with disbelief. This wasn't happening. This absolutely could not be happening. He drew in a strangled breath and fled back down the hallway. He wandered through the maze of corridors, his mind replaying that one image in an endless loop. He finally sank down onto a bench in exhaustion, numbed beyond caring where he was. 'If only they didn't look so right together…'
Keith headed back to his room just before dawn, humming softly to himself. He wouldn't be able to get much sleep before the alarm clock went off, but at least he would be able to get a little rest. The idea of having to sleep beside Lance in the darkened quiet room didn't loom so horrifyingly large in his mind. He slipped quietly through the door and paused, giving his eyes a moment to adjust to the dimness after the soft lights of the hallway. Sighing contentedly to himself, still aware of the feel of Sven's body against his own, Keith crept forward and sank down into the softness of the bed. The empty bed.
His eyes widening slightly in alarm, he snatched the clock off the bedside table, nearly dropping it to the floor in his haste. Five A.M. The alarm wouldn't ring for another hour. Where could Lance possibly be at this time of night?
Keith forced himself to set the clock down on the table and take a deep calming breath. 'Think, Keith, think.' Chances were that Lance simply couldn't sleep either. Maybe he'd went for a walk, or to get a drink, or to find some company… Keith flinched at the thought and sat up again, eyes staring blindly at the wall. Even though he could still feel the warmth of Sven's body against his own when he closed his eyes, he couldn't fight off the flash of possessive jealousy that swept through him. The thought of anyone else touching Lance, kissing him in the darkness, making him cry out... It was more than Keith could take. He forced himself to stretch out under the sheet, but he couldn't do more than stare at the ceiling until the alarm rang in his ear an hour later.
Keith walked slowly into the conference room and sank into his chair next to Allura, his eyes already locking on to the empty chair to his right.
"Good morning, Keith."
He smiled half-heartedly at Allura and mumbled a reply, his eyes sweeping quickly around the room. His gaze rested on Sven momentarily then darted away, but not before he saw the frown of concern cross the other man's face. He wondered briefly if he looked half as miserable as he felt this morning. Feeling a soft brush on his arm, he forced his attention back to Allura.
"Keith? Are you all right? You're not sick, are you?" She raised a hand to touch his face.
He gently pushed her hand away, carefully fighting down an unwarranted surge of annoyance. "I'm fine, princess. I just didn't get much sleep, that's all."
"There's not something bothering you, is there?"
"No, no, I'm fine."
Allura smiled with relief. "Oh, good. Where's Lance?"
Keith flinched before he could stop himself, turning quickly to Lance's chair. "I-"
His voice died in his throat as Lance slipped into the chair, flashing a bright smile at Allura. "I'm right here, princess. Did you miss me?"
Allura giggled, then turned swiftly as the meeting chair stood to face the assembled ambassadors.
Lance dropped his eyes to the table, refusing to meet Keith's gaze. His hair slipped forward to conceal his features, but not before Keith noticed the faint circles under his eyes. Keith's mouth tightened into a thin line, anger washing away everything else. "Where were you last night?" he hissed quietly under his breath.
Lance shook his head and stared at the chairman, defiantly refusing to look at Keith. Keith sighed in resignation and turned his attention back to the meeting. This could wait until later, but he damned well was going to get an answer.
As hard as he tried to concentrate on the arguments central to the formation of the new defensive treaties, Keith couldn't quite keep his attention from wandering to the mostly silent figure to his right. They day seemed to drag on for an eternity. Finally the gathered ambassadors once again agreed to call it a day. The scribes quickly gathered up the chairman's notes and disappeared. They would spend a long night putting together what would hopefully be a final draft of the treaty, ready for the signatures of the planets' representatives tomorrow morning.
Keith stood and stretched tired muscles discreetly, turning slightly to smile at Allura and Sven across the table. When he turned back to Lance, he once again found the chair vacated. He bit his lip in exasperation, only politeness keeping him from turning and bolting out the door in an attempt to track down and waylay his second-in-command. He couldn't possibly have made plans to meet someone after the meeting, could he? Keith shook his head, frowning at the thought. 'No, he would have said something to me. It must have something to do with last night.' His eyes widened with sudden apprehension. 'He can't know why I left last night. That would explain why he wouldn't even look at me all day…' Frightened at the prospect of being subjected to Lance's disgust and pity, Keith turned abruptly and made his way towards the door. A gentle hand on his arm stopped him halfway across the room.
"Keith? What's wrong? You've been distracted all day."
Keith turned to Sven, practically bouncing with impatience. "I don't know. I just have to find Lance. I think…he…I don't know." He shrugged helplessly, eyes darting towards the door.
Sven frowned. "Did he say something to you when you got back last night?"
"He wasn't there when I got back last night."
"Where was he?"
Keith shook his head. "I don't know. The first time I saw him was when he got here this morning. I don't know where he was. I don't know who he was with. I don't know where he is now. I just need to find him. Please?"
Sven stared at him speechlessly for a minute. "You think he's avoiding you because he sensed how you felt last night, don't you?"
Keith nodded miserably, staring blankly at the few ambassadors still filing out the door.
Sven tightened his hand, then released Keith. "I think you should calm down before you jump to any conclusions. It might be something else entirely."
"I don't think so," Keith whispered, pulling away and starting towards the door.
Sven hesitated, then followed him. There was, after all, another possibility Keith was overlooking. If he was right, maybe it would be easier if he found Lance first.
Lance stared out blindly at the faint evening sunlight coloring the dusty plains from the same lookout where he'd spied Keith and Sven the previous night. No matter how hard he had tried to focus on the discussions and arguments during the day, the perfect image of the two forms embracing in the moonlight had been permanently etched in his thoughts. 'I never would have guessed…'
He plucked a flower from an overhanging branch absently, running the silky petals through his fingers. Bewildered hurt was quickly giving way to anger at himself. 'You should have guessed,' he told himself savagely. 'Isn't Keith always telling you that you only see what you want to see? Maybe he's right.' He ripped the petals off the flower one by one, dropping them over the wall. 'He loves me, he loves me not…' He smiled in spite of himself at the silliness of the thought, watching with sad amusement as the brightly colored petals were carried away on the light evening breeze.
He was so lost in his circle of thoughts that the soft voice startled him, the remaining flower petals falling over the wall in a waterfall of soft color. He whirled around to face Sven, his heart still pounding in his throat.
"I didn't mean to startle you."
As the pounding of Lance's heart subsided, he felt irrational anger wash through him. "What do you want?"
Sven sighed, his dark eyes regarding him sadly. "I was afraid I was right."
Lance glared at him wordlessly, obviously waiting for an answer.
Sven moved up to join him at the wall, noting with resignation the tension radiating from Lance's posture. "Would you care to tell me why you're so angry at me?"
"What...why-what?" Thrown off-balance by the direct question, Lance crossed his arms defensively and turned to glare at the rapidly darkening plains.
"Yes, why. What did I do?"
Lance shook his head and muttered darkly to himself, ignoring Sven's presence. Sven leaned against the wall patiently, confident that Lance would get around to answering him eventually. Lance finally sighed and sagged against the wall in defeat. "I'm sorry, Sven," he whispered, staring straight ahead. "It's really not your fault. It's me."
Sven nodded in understanding, but remained silent, giving Lance time to put his thoughts in order.
"It's just…" He hesitated, glancing at Sven and quickly away. "It's just…you looked so right together."
Sven blinked in surprise, reaching out to touch Lance's shoulder hesitantly. "No, Lance-"
Lance motioned impatiently, shrugging Sven's hand away. "You did. It's not your fault. I…" He stopped again, fists clenching as he turned back to open plains. "It just hurt, that's all. I'll get over it."
"I'd really like to be alone, if you don't mind."
Sven shook his head with exasperation, then grabbed Lance's arm and turned the other man around to face him. "As a matter of fact, I do mind." He held up a hand to stifle Lance's outburst. "Will you just listen to me for one second?" He stared until the other man nodded reluctantly, then relaxed the grip on his arm. Lance raised one hand to rub the spot unconsciously, his eyes locked onto Sven's face. Sven swallowed under the intensity of that gaze, so like Keith's the night before, with the weight of the pain and longing locked deep inside. He took a deep breath and decided he might as well continue. "Lance, last night was an accident that probably never should have happened."
He gave Lance a warning look, cutting off the rest of his objection. He nodded silently for Sven to continue. "Neither one of us could sleep, and it was a lonely time of night, I guess."
He realized Lance was looking at him skeptically. "What?"
"Neither one of you could sleep? Isn't that an awfully big coincidence?"
"Not really, although I admit that I was surprised to see Keith out here, under the circumstances."
Lance blinked, thrown off-balance again. "What circumstances?"
"He was alone with you." He paused to give Lance a chance to react, but Lance simply stared at him mutely, eyes narrowed with confusion. Sven took another deep breath. "Look, we shouldn't be the ones having this discussion."
Lance pulled away again, turning towards the interior door. "You're right. I'll just go."
"Please don't. Let me try again." He murmured a silent prayer of thanks as Lance hesitated, then walked back to lean against the wall despite the apprehension and silent anger apparent in his every movement. "Thank you. Can I ask why you're so upset about this?"
Lance tensed again and stared at the ground. "It's just…you know."
"I know, but I want to hear you say it."
Lance looked back up in anger. Sven shrugged philosophically. "I might be wrong."
Lance slumped in defeat against the wall, staring helplessly at his hands. "It's Keith," he whispered. "I…" He stopped, staring at his nervously twisting fingers.
"I think I'm in love with him, all right?" He looked up at Sven apologetically. "I'm sorry. I don't mean…" He pushed himself off the wall and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I should go."
Both men turned to the motionless figure inside the door, staring at them with wide eyes. Sven turned to glance at Lance, who had flushed darkly, his eyes widened with horror.
He turned against the wall and dropped his head onto his hands. "Oh, my God."
"I should be going now."
Lance shook himself and turned to Sven. "No, I will. I'm sorry." He glanced at them both wide-eyed and turned to bolt. Sven smiled softly to himself and slowly backed away as Keith reached out and grabbed Lance's hand, his own eyes wide with a combination of wonder and panic.
"But…" Lance turned to Sven, a mute appeal echoing from his eyes. Sven nodded encouragingly to Keith and continued to back away.
Keith nodded absently, his eyes still locked on Lance's face. Lance turned to him slowly, confusion displacing some of the horror.
"Why didn't you ever say anything?"
Lance shook his head and turned his gaze towards Keith's hand still locked around his own. "I would have. I was looking for you after you left last night…"
Keith's body went rigid as the implications of that statement hit him. "And you saw me with Sven, didn't you?"
Lance nodded miserably. Keith shook his head, gently turning Lance's face back up to his with his free hand. "Oh, my God, no. You have to understand. I only…" He stared helplessly, at a loss for words.
Lance shook himself free, anger sparking in his eyes. "Look, there's nothing to explain. That kind of thing happens all the time. What's the big deal, anyway? I'm happy for you both. Now will you please just let me go?"
Keith's temper snapped, his hands balling into fists. "Don't you ever pay attention to anything? I'm trying to tell you that I love you!"
Lance quirked an eyebrow, automatically assuming an arrogant mask that he knew annoyed Keith beyond reason. "You sure do have an odd way of showing it."
Keith grabbed him roughly, his hands gripping Lance's arms with enough force to bruise. "You were driving me crazy. I couldn't lay next to you in that damned bed any longer and imagine the things that I desperately wanted to be doing to you without losing my mind. I just couldn't take it anymore!"
Lance stared at him in shock. Keith suddenly realized what he was doing. He released Lance's arms and spun around, staring blindly at colors of the sunset painting the plains in vibrant reds and purples.
Lance watched his back for a moment before stepping up next to him at the railing. "Did you ever consider asking me?"
Keith shook his head bitterly. "How could I? I'm your commanding officer." He glared darkly as Lance snorted in amusement. "I am, whether you like it or not."
"What you are," Lance told him with a particularly annoying arrogant smirk, "is a total idiot."
Keith spun around in outrage. "What?"
"You honestly expect me to believe that you're sleeping with Sven because you're in love with me, but you're too afraid to tell me how you feel? That's not exactly fair to Sven, is it?"
Keith narrowed his eyes. "Sven's not in love with me, either. He was using me as much as I was using him."
Lance regarded him contemplatively. "I don't know."
Keith took a step closer, a mischievous glint shining in his eyes. "Maybe I should try to convince you."
Keith shook his head. "Shut up, Lance." He pulled Lance to him roughly, a helpless moan escaping his throat as his lips brushed against the silky softness of Lance's. He tangled one hand in Lance's hair as the kiss deepened, barely aware of Lance's hand already working insistently with the buttons to his uniform until the sound of the closing door pulled him back to his senses.
He glanced around the now-deserted garden, then turned back to Lance's desire-darkened eyes. "Inside," he managed, his voice emerging as a rough whisper. "We should really go inside." Lance nodded mutely, allowing Keith to pull him through the door, both of them oblivious to the form watching them from the shadows of the hallway, dark eyes sparkling with silent laughter.