Sheith Quarantine AU where Keith, even though he's used to being alone, he's starting to freak out of being so isolated by the 9th day.

That is until that evening, staring blankly at the streets from his balcony, he receives a curious "Hello."
He startles, of course, because no one is there with him and he's too used to the quietness of his empty apartment. But he turns to the source of the voice and finds a man standing in the balcony beside his, smiling at him.
[I'm working on another thread right now but I still want to write this so I don't care]

Keith’s taken aback for a second, his heart ricocheting once again and now not because of a sudden voice coming out of nowhere.
The man in the other balcony is so hot Keith has trouble making up words. He’s surprised his gay ass never found out he lived beside a guy that could be a model.
Specially an underwear one, if what Keith can see from his balcony are actually muscles straining against his shirt and not a trick of light.

“Sorry, didn't mean to startle you,” the guy says, his smile tilting up on one side and leaning over the rail of his balcony.
And Keith really struggles to get words out of his mouth.

“H-hey,” he winces at the stutter of his voice, and tries again after clearing his throat, “Hey.”
The man smiles widely at him and looks down to the street, giving Keith a perfect sight of his profile—his jawline is strong and goes up to pink lips, his nose is scarred with a line from cheek to cheek and his eyes are thin and bright.
But what catches Keith’s attention the most is his totally white hair, short with a long fringe over his forehead. He mustn't be that much older than Keith, because his face is wrinkle-less aside from the little lines in the corner of his eyes.
“Were you looking for something down there?” he asks turning back at him, his smirk playful and teasing and Keith wants to die on the spot.

“I-I…” he murmurs, glancing to the empty street briefly and shaking his head, “No, I wasn't- I just-“
He huffs, baffled at his incapacity to speak properly, and hears the deep laugh from the man, flustering him even more.

“Just lost in my thoughts, I think,” he finally manages, too quiet that the guy actually leans a bit more to him and /shit/, his biceps are /huge/.
But then Keith pauses, noticing the prosthetic he has as right arm, and wonders how the heck it’s so thick and similar to the flesh one.

“Too much free time for yourself?” he asks, one of his eyebrows arching up, and Keith sighs,
getting comfortable against the rail of his balcony, facing his reflection on his window-door to try and distract himself.

“Kind of?” he answers, shrugging and glancing him from the corner of his eye, “Not really a people person, but really miss going out there.”
His neighbor hums in acknowledge, or maybe understanding, Keith doesn’t know with his reptile brain.

“Same with me, I guess,” he says, tilting his head at him, and Keith swallows, feeling stared at, “I’m Shiro, your relatively new neighbor.”

Oh, Keith thinks, that makes sense.
"Really?” Keith asks, genuinely curious, “When did you move?”

His relatively new neighbor— /Shiro/— hums again, thinking. And then looks away, to the street.
“Two weeks ago,” he answers, “I was pretty lucky to arrive before the Quarantine hit or I would’ve had to sleep on the street.”

Keith snorts, nodding. He knows their landlord, Slav, is a very paranoid person, so even if you have your rent payed for months in anticipation,
he would slam his doors to their faces if they just cough in his direction.

“That /is/ really lucky,” Keith says, and Shiro looks back at him.

“Well,” he murmurs, suddenly secretive, and Keith tries not to squirm under his attentive eyes, “I got to talk to you.”
Keith chokes with his spit, coughing and hunching over himself to try to calm down the itch on his throat, hearing Shiro laughing.

“O-oh, okay,” he rasps, turning away when he feels his face reddening madly, “I- N-nice to meet you.”
Shiro is smirking at him when Keith steals a glance, now with the side of his jaw tucked in his palm while leaning on the rail. His cheeks are slightly flush, and Keith wonders is it’s because of the sunset behind him or because he’s actually blushing at his own flirt.
And if he was only in undergarments, Keith would think he was staring at a Ca/lvin Kle/in ad.

“How should I call you?” Shiro asks, his voice still light with laugh but with a husk that he can very quite place.
And Keith wants to sink to his knees in front of him and let him do whatever he wants with him.

Whatever you want to call me, he thinks desperately, I’ll be whatever you want me to be.

“Keith,” he croaks, clearing his voice roughly, “My name is Keith.”
Shiro’s smirk tilts to a side again, making him look boyish and playful, and Keith really wants to jump to the other balcony and see if he would die by falling three stories down or by falling into Shiro’s /thick/ arms.
“Well, /Keith/” Shiro whispers, leaning to him and then straightening his back all of the sudden, his wide shoulders making him even bigger than when he was hunched over himself, “It is /very/ nice to finally meet you.”

Then he turns and /shit/ his ass is so--
“Have a good night,” his sexy neighbor talks again, interrupting his sinful thoughts, his hips swaying a bit while he walks to his window-door.

He disappears inside his own apartment, the click of the locking door making Keith flinch, and he stays there for a few minutes,
still trying to understand what the fuck just happened.

And when Keith goes back to bed that very night, he isn’t sure if It was his delirium playing with his sanity or if the exchange with his neighbor— with Shiro, although unrealistic, was indeed real.
So, Keith ends up standing in the balcony almost all day the next day waiting for the man to show up again to make sure he didn't dream what happened. And, even when life has been nothing but cruel to him in the past,
he’s very hopeful that Shiro is very real and his flirting was for real.

And so he waits, pretending to read a book, to do homework, to pay attention to his Twitter’s feed, to not care whether or not his neighbor shows up.
He ends up waiting all day —except for when he gets hungry or needs bathroom breaks— pretending that he usually spends all his day in his balcony under the unforgiving sun and occasional chill from the wind.
By the time he’s sitting on the balcony’s floor, his back aching from being against the wall all afternoon, and the sun is starting to set, Keith is pretty sure he was delirious yesterday and maybe he should know by now that that kind of thing wouldn't happen to someone with his
level of bad luck. He probably had something bad for dinner that day and that’s why he totally imagined the whole thing. And while he wonders if he should get up and wearily go to sleep into his deception, or just stay outside all night and wait to get hypothermia by how cold
the night gets, he reminds himself why he shouldn't have hopes in the first place.

There’s no way someone like Shiro would live in the apartment right next his. There’s no way someone like Shiro would talk to him, much the less flirt with him. There’s no way he would’ve-

He flinches, finally hearing the familiar click of the window-door beside him, and he snaps his head to the other balcony, finding a very real Shiro half hiding behind his baby blue curtains as if they were a cape.
“Hey…” he breathes, blinking up at him, and Shiro looks away, his face flushing prettily.

The silence settles between them, tense and kind of uncomfortable, but Keith doesn't know if it’s because of him or if maybe Shiro feels uncomfortable around him.
“I want to apologize,” Shiro finally breaks the silence, still avoiding his gaze, “for yesterday?”

Keith frowns, opening his mouth and closing it at loss of words.


“Why?” he asks, and Shiro hesitates.
He doesn't answer right away, instead sighing and taking his time to slowly unwrap himself from his curtains and step out to the balcony, sitting down beside the door and the closest he could be to Keith with their rails delimiting the space.
He’s still carefully not looking at Keith and he doesn't know if he should be afraid of what he’s going to say.

“I- um-“ he starts, wavering for a bit before closing his eyes, apparently steeling himself to speak, and Keith thinks of the worst, “For flirting with you?”
Keith contains the heavy sigh that fill his lungs with despair, his heart painfully reminding him that of course Shiro’s flirting wasn't for real. That he really should know by now.

“Oh,” he breathes, his deception bleeding into his voice.
“Yeah,” Shiro affirms quietly, his shoulders going up to his ears in shame, “I’m really sorry. I had a few drinks and I know I get a little…”

Keith shakes his head automatically, a bit dismissive, knowing full well that he’s the one at fault by being hopeful.
“It’s fine,” he tries, his voice much more stable that what he thinks he’s capable of.
“It’s not,” Shiro insists, glancing at him briefly, his face blushing even more, and Keith really wishes it was caused by shyness and not by shame, “I know we just met, but I don't want us to be awkward. I’m really sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
Now Keith frowns even more, confused, and looks at him from between the steel bars, finding him fidgeting with his thumbs, his eyes poised on his lap, and his mouth pouting. He looked like he was a kid being scolded.
As if he was being told he can't play with his favorite toy because he already broke it.

And Keith, in spite of himself, feels hopeful again.

“Why would I be uncomfortable?” he asks before he cowards, and Shiro blinks, starting to frown.
“Because a gay man flirted with you?” he doubts, finally looking at him, and Keith bites his lower lip to keep himself from screaming.
“Well,” Keith starts, feeling bold, “being gay myself, I have had my share of unwanted drunk flirts with straight men. But believe when I say I’m always on the other side of it.”
Shiro blinks a few times, his eyes widening and his brows going up, and he mouths for a bit, many emotions passing through his face.

“I-I- What?”
Keith smirks at him, and extends his hand through the bars, offering him a hand shake even when they obviously can't reach each other and shouldn't even touch because of the situation.
“Keith, gay since 2002,” he introduces himself, and Shiro stutters, a breathy laugh falling from his curving mouth.

“Shiro,” he follows up, twisting a bit to get his prosthetic arm through the bars, “Gay since Mean Girls.”
Keith sputters, his arm hitting painfully against the metal, and he flinches away.

“Oh, my god,” he laughs, “Are you serious?”

Shiro giggles, shrugging, their hands still extended to each other.
[I'll leave it here!! Have a great day! ❤️✨🖤]
[Guys, I'm making this one, too, if you'd like to read something a bit different!! Gonna be back tomorrow!]
“Probably since Bring It On, but Mean Girls definitely passed me to the other side.”

That makes Keith laugh even more, his arm struggling to keep up right, and Shiro laughs with him, a bit more relaxed.
“Well, nice meeting you, Shiro,” Keith concludes, closing his hand, and Shiro does the same.

“Likewise,” he says smiling at him through the bars, Shiro’s hand closing, too, and both move it as if their shaking hands and not 3 feet apart from even touching.
They smile at each other while retreating their hands, Keith leaving it hanging through the bars and Shiro shifting to get comfortable again, his left shoulder touching the black steel.
Silence settles, both watching the building on the other side of the street, and Keith is a little confused by it, because he had never experienced a silence this comfortable with anybody since his dad.
It was as if they were fine with just the company of the other, as if there were no need for words in this new relationship with his neighbor.

“God, I really thought I messed it up with you.”
Shiro says it with a laugh, a shy, breathless one, and Keith turns to him, leaning his head completely against the wall. He can’t see his face, the black bars from the railing getting in the way, but he can still stare at his slightly curled mouth, Shiro’s eyes hidden from him.
“Really?” he murmurs, and thinks that Shiro didn’t hear him, “I don’t think so.”

Shiro huffs, shaking his head, and Keith has a brief glance of his bright eyes, still fixed in the building in front of them. He’s frowning.
“Well, I did,” he confirms, and shrugs, “I actually thought you wouldn’t get out to the balcony again just to avoid me. Or maybe would beat me to pulp if you caught me out here again.”

Keith snorts.
“You know there’s like a pretty large distance between our balconies, right?” He asks, his laugh bubbling out of him despite himself.

That’s when Shiro turns to him, mimicking Keith’s position when he sees it; his left arm goes through the bars, hanging from his forearm,
and the side of his head touches the outside wall of his apartment, smiling.

Is Keith smiling, too?

“You look like the kind of guy that could jump 8 feet of free fall to beat up a guy without blinking,” he points out, and Keith chokes.
Not because that’s terribly accurate —Keith has had his share of fights during middle school and high school. Even a few in college, but not because he was a hot-headed moron, like he was when he was younger, but because he had to break off fights and he ended up
knocking out one of the assholes that didn’t stop being an asshole.

But being read easily by Shiro, a new person in his life, was kind of overwhelming.

And, yes, he definitely could jump 8 feet if he put his mind into it. But it wouldn’t be to beat Shiro up, necessarily.
“With your physique, /I/ would be the one beaten up,” he jokes, looking back to the building again, “Or at least be coward enough to not try and punch you in the face.”

The sun is already set, the oranges on the sky turning rapidly into the dark blue of the night,
the first speckles of light becoming visible, and Keith wonders if Shiro would like to see the stars with him.

“I doubt it,” Shiro murmurs, and the weak thread of his voice makes Keith snap his attention back at him.
He’s looking away, averting his eyes carefully, it makes Keith frown.

“I mean,” he says, suddenly, laughing bitterly and shaking his head, “A lot of people had tried to pick up fights with me because of my appearance. Too bad I’m a pacifist.”

That surprises Keith.
“Really?” he asks before he can stop himself, and coughs, “I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just sometimes you can’t get out of a dangerous situation without being aggressive.”

Shiro hums, and Keith catches how he makes a fist with his prosthesis.
“Yeah, I know,” he says quietly, and then sighs, finally turning to him and smiling, although is a little rueful, “So, you really wouldn’t try to punch me in the face?”

Keith huffs, shaking his head.
“You see me as a violent one, don’t you?” he asks, actually expecting an affirmation, and he's surprised when Shiro’s smile turns into a smirk.
“More like a fierce one,” Shiro corrects, his eyes getting a golden glint from the last light of the sun, so serious and raw it feels like he’s talking about something else.

Keith sputters, blinking away, and tries to laugh it off, feeling his cheeks blush.
“Wow, Shiro, that’s so gay,” he teases, just hearing Shiro’s laugh because he’s too embarrassed to even think of looking at him.

“Flirting with a man is gay?” Shiro asks, genuinely curious, and Keith laughs louder.

They start meeting up in their balconies daily, Keith at first going out to meet Shiro by mere coincidence. But stops feigning surprise when Shiro smiles at him like he knows what Keith is thinking about, which,
luckily for Keith, he really can’t read what thoughts he has about him.

Or maybe he likes them, too.

Either way, Keith feels a lot better than before.
He wouldn’t think that having actual human interaction could dissipate his need to freak out, because human interaction has been terrible in his life, talking generally. But with Shiro, he doesn’t feel forced to it:
he actually feels more refreshed than ever, as if every exchanged word or shared laugh was a breath of cold air in the desert of his good relationships.

He’s glad he can spend time with Shiro, even with 8 feet of distance between them —weirdly enough,
he feels he is as closest as ever— and he’s happy when he can see that Shiro likes it, too.

So they spend evenings talking about everything and nothing, laughing their asses off to stupid jokes and comments, flirting every now and then.
Well, Keith hopes they are flirting.

“Lion King.”

Keith hums, looking up to the sky. It’s getting late again, the sun already disappearing on the west, and he really wishes he could ask for more of Shiro’s time.
“Not really,” he says, thoughtful, “Maybe Scar?”

“The bad guy?” Shiro asks, kind of concerned, and Keith shrugs, “Seriously?”

“Well, he has this sassy attitude,” he explains poorly, “Although I kind of liked Simba, too."
Shiro laughs, shaking his head, and Keith turns to glare at him.

They are both standing in their respective balconies, leaned over the rail and having non-alcoholic drinks, and Keith is grateful he can see his face without the stupid bars covering it.
“Okay, then who did you liked?” he growled, his nose scrunching while trying to express disgust, but Shiro just laughs even more, “Who? Mufasa?”

That gets Shiro to laugh louder, his voice echoing in the street.
“Not even close,” he giggles, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand and turning to him, saying it with the rim of his glass on his lips, “Kovu.”

Keith frowns, his fake anger turning into confusion.


He gains a snort, and Keith grumbles.
“In the second one?” Shiro says, apparently trying to refresh some kind of memory in Keith.

“There’s a second one?” Keith asks, pretty confused, and Shiro barks a disbelieving laugh.

“No way! You haven’t watched it?!”
Keith shakes his head, and Shiro sighs, looking away and to the sky.

“Really thought I could tease you about it,” he murmurs, and Keith leans a bit to him, almost not hearing him.

“And why would you?” Keith questions, raising an eyebrow at him, which Shiro glances and snorts.
“You wouldn’t get it,” he says, /teases/, and Keith has to search the movie the next time he’s in his laptop, “Your turn.”

Keith pouts, rolling his eyes, and then thinks a bit, scoffing.

“The Little Mermaid?”

Shiro smirks, glancing at him.
“Prince Eric was kind of hot.”

Keith bites his lower lip, looking away to his drink, a simple 7-up, and nodding.

“Yeah, I think so, too,” he says, and then sees Shiro raising his glass of iced tea, in prompt for cheers.

“To Prince Eric?”
Keith snorts, delighted, and raises his 7-up.

“To Prince Eric,” he concludes, and both have a gulp, laughing when their drinks are lowered down.

“Beauty and the Beast?”

Keith sputters, feeling his face grow hotter.
“Uh... Gaston?” he confesses quietly, and Shiro turns back at him, surprise clear all over his face.

“What, really?” he asks when he sees Keith’s blush, and Keith ends up shrugging.
(CW: mentions of #homophobia )

“Pretty sure he was the first straight asshole I liked,” he says, tilting his head and playing with the condensation of the soda, “The rest of them don’t seem like the type of people that would be homophobic.”
Shiro stays silent for a bit, and Keith sighs.

"Well...” Shiro starts, and Keith risks a glace to him, “Gaston had Lefou for his best friend, right?

Keith frowns, turning to him.

“And I’m pretty sure Lefou had a very big crush on Gaston,” Shiro explained, shrugging.

Keith mouthed for a bit, then firmly closing his mouth and then staring at his 7-up, narrowing his eyes.
“Are you trying to cheer me up?” he asked in disbelief, looking up to Shiro, “He’s a fictional character, for god’s sake!”

Shiro laughed softly, getting comfortable in the balcony and tilting his head at him. His eyes really looked beautiful with the last light of the sunset.
“Well, yeah,” he affirms, his smile playful, “But not homophobic, at least.”

Keith snorts, averting his eyes. He doesn’t want to admit that he’s moved by that, too embarrassed at getting bummed by Gaston’s straight-ness.
“Well,” Keith prompts, taking the same tone Shiro used, “He’s still an asshole.”

Shiro snorts, the sound cute, warming Keith’s chest from the inside, and seeing him blush slightly under the first stars of the night really makes him want to kiss him.
Hell, Keith /really/ wants to kiss him.

“I should head out,” Shiro says, turning his head to see where the sun had set a few minutes ago, “See you tomorrow?”

Keith nods, smiling at him, and Shiro turns to his window-door but stopping the second he opens it.
“Watch Lion King 2,” he requests looking over his shoulder, making Keith perk up, “I know it’s not on Netflix, but it’s easy enough to find.”

Keith’s smile widens, almost showing his teeth, and he tries to cover it by drinking a sip from his almost-empty can.
“I don’t even have Netflix,” he points out, snorting at Shiro’s skeptic look, “What?”

“No wonder why you seemed like you were about to freak out the first time I talked to you.”
Keith puffs, trying to make it look as if that was ridiculous. But he’s very flustered that Shiro actually noticed.

“I can share my account with you, if you like,” Shiro says, leaning on the edge of his window-door, and Keith swallows at the swell of muscle under the turtleneck
shirt he’s using right now.

He wonders if that’s a good idea —he still has to finish his thesis and Shiro giving him access to his account feels like something too intimate, or maybe he’s reading too much into it. So, instead of affirming or denying, he tries to play it cool.
Which, with Shiro, never works.

“Whatever, I have many other things to do than watch Netflix.”

“Like freak out?”

“Shut /up/,” he snaps, crossing his arms, “I wasn’t freaking out.”

“Sure, buddy,” Shiro snorts, teasing, “Have a good night.”
And then he’s gone, the click from his lock and the swish of baby blue curtains the last thing he hears from the other balcony.

Still, he waits in silence, hoping he can hear Shiro padding around his apartment, turning off the lights, maybe leaving his glass on the counter,
or maybe washing it up before going to sleep. He waits, wondering if he could hear him get ready to bed, or if Shiro is still standing on the other side of the curtains, doing the same thing Keith is doing.
He sighs, deep and long, and doesn’t know how to feel about the endless pining he feels for Shiro. If he has any opportunity at all. If he should get his hopes up or just make up his mind to be rejected.

[Gotta go for now, it's 1 a.m and I really should get some sleep. Thank you for reading!!]
[Buckle up for some #angst because I'm weak to it right now]

Everything with Shiro goes wonderful. Keith feels like they've been friends for years rather than just a few days. His days definitely feel shorter than before with how fast the time pass when spending time with Shiro.
That is until one night he’s lounging on his old couch swipping through Twitter when he hears a familiar click from a window-door that isn’t his.
Keith sits up, immediately forgetting the discussion he was having with one of his classmates about whether or not Keith would be able to murder him despite of the distance, and he lowers his phon to the coffee table.
He pauses before standing up, waiting for another sound from outside, and he hears steps from one side of the balcony to another. They stop abruptly and there's a long, weary sigh, followed by the sound of a rattle caused by the metallic rail.
Keith crosses the living room, hesitating before opening the window-door and having to take a deep breath to steel himself.

When he steps out, Keith is astonished to see Shiro under the moonlight, his hair whisked in an adorable bedhead and his expression soft from sleep.
But before Keith’s heart can beat faster and transform him into a mess, it sinks and shrinks painfully when he sees tears falling from Shiro’s eyes.

Shiro hears him falter, his loose window-door making a sound when Keith grips it to stop himself from running. To Shiro.
“K-keith!” Shiro gasps, wiping roughly the tears on his cheeks and eyes with the back of his hands and his face goes sweetly pink under the night sky, the street lights catching on the wetness trapped still on his eyelashes, "H-hey..."
“Hey,” Keith murmurs, lowering his head a bit and then stepping completely out, his hand still in the frame of the window, “Is something wrong?”

Shiro hesitates, glancing at him with scared eyes, and his tears don’t stop falling although he keeps wiping them out.
“I-I...” he mumbles, his voice thin and hitched, “J-just... a rough night...”

Keith takes a tentative step, and watches sourly how Shiro shrinks away, his eyes avoiding his with shame.

“Are you sure?” he asks, much softer and steadier than he feels.
He wants to go to him and hug him, to tightly hold him in his arms and protect him from what’s happening. Keith wants him to be okay.

“Y-yeah,” Shiro wipes his eyes again and sighs shakily, a bitter smile tugging up the corner of his lips, “I... I’m sorry, I wanted to be alone.”
‘Did you?’ Keith doesn’t ask, because he doesn’t know if that’s a lie or not.

Because yeah, maybe they already made their balconies a space of their own. But Shiro still has the right to want to be alone in his own balcony,
where he can feel the night breeze and calm down and sort out whatever he's feeling. And Keith shouldn’t put his own wellbeing before Shiro’s.

“Okay,” he concedes, quietly, and that’s when Shiro turns to him, his face full with open concern instead of painful sadness.

“I’ll let you be,” he says to the ground before he can let his pain sweep to Shiro’s.

It’s not about him. It’s about Shiro.

“Keith, wait...”
He stops, standing in the door way, and hears Shiro sigh. He doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, and Keith feels his heart sink lower in his chest.

“I’m sorry,” Shiro apologizes, low and mournful, and Keith’s fist tightens in the window frame, “It’s... not the right time.”
Keith chews on his lip and nods, partially turning to him but keeping his face down, trying to give him some privacy.

“It’s okay,” he assures, struggling to find more words and finally giving up, “Have a good night, Shiro.”
He doesn’t hear him say it back, but when he closes the window-door and stops in the middle of the living room, he struggles to ignore the faint sob that breaks through the air.

His heart scrunches. Keith wants to cry too.

When Keith slumps in his bed, it’s not because he thinks he will be able to sleep. He knows he’s going to be restless, worried about Shiro. Worried that he should’ve insisted or shouldn't have said anything in first place.
What he doesn’t expect is reality to punch him in the gut with a message from his beforehand mentioned classmate, Lance, asking him about his thesis.

Keith springs up, remembering the advance he has to submit before the next day.
He was supposed to work on it during the last week, but pretending to hang out on the balcony to wait for Shiro to show up on evenings rather than actually work on his thesis advances while waiting for Shiro is what doomed him.
He has been furiously on his laptop ever since then, clumsily checking on his notes and books he has at home, and he’s unable to sleep a single blink. Keith doesn’t even stand up from his desk unless is strictly necessary —his legs always buckle when he trips to the bathroom to
take a piss or to the kitchen to grab a quick bite or an energy drink.

He’s been seated down for so many hours, his shoulders bunched up and his back uncomfortably curved, that everything hurts.
And he’s desperately glancing at the clock, wanting to finish everything up before it’s time for him to meet Shiro.

He doesn’t even know if he should want to meet up with Shiro. Maybe Shiro still wants his privacy. Maybe Shiro doesn't want to deal with Keith again.
And, so, Keith struggles endlessly, his thoughts jumping from his thesis and quantum physics to Shiro’s tears shining in the moonlight. He knows they should talk, maybe Keith should apologize.
But the clock is running and it’s too late for him to keep thinking about whether or not do something about Shiro when he’s sure that without focusing he won’t be able to finish before the sun sets.
He /knows/ he won’t even finish by midnight and he has to submit it by 11:59 p.m. or he will fucking be done.

He’s so fucking done already.

He pours more coffee on his cup, going back to the desk and stumbling onto his seat, starting to type more nonsense.
Keith should know what he’s doing. He’s been studying Astrophysics for 4 years. He /should/ understand what he’s writing about but he can’t make any sense of the words once he re-reads.
And he’s tired of going through the references and re-reading the texts he’s basing his thesis on and all the theory is messed up and it’s almost 7 p.m. and-

He startles, almost knocking his coffee from the desk, but he grips it just before it topples over him and he hisses at the hot surface in his palms, wanting to flinch away but managing to put it on the little table beside him. He doesn’t ensure the cup is safe before looking to
the window-door to his balcony. The sunset is already coloring the sky in reds and oranges, the light slipping through his blinds, and he knows it’s Shiro's voice who called his name, distant and a bit faint.
Keith didn’t hear the click of Shiro's window-door, too immersed in finishing the thesis, but his heart betrays him, flipping over.

Shiro called him.

Shiro wanted him to go out.

Shiro wanted to talk to him. Or be with him. Or something.
But Keith doesn’t have time to waste in longing for something he isn’t going to get any time soon because he doesn’t get to fucking /work/.

“Shit,” he mumbles, turning to his laptop and continuing typing bullshit.
He’s sure the advance is going to be full of red marks, but he doesn’t care anymore. He wants to finish it and be with Shiro. He can fix the mistakes after that night, or maybe in the morning when he gets some sleep, but he needs to finish it and send it.

He needs to send it.
And that way he can be with Shiro.


He pauses, panting, unaware of when he stopped breathing, and looks over his shoulder to the window-door, his eyebrows scrunched together and causing him a headache.

‘No,’ he repeats to himself, ‘you have to keep working.’
“Shit...” he strains and keeps typing, the words starting to blur over the digital white paper with the sting of his eyes, “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit...”

There’s nothing for a couple of minutes, and Keith feels a bit more on the edge.
He has to finish it. He has to send it. He has to go to Shiro and talk. /Really/ talk. Get to know each other. Get to be there for him when he needs him.

He needs him.

The voice breaking with his name is what makes him halt entirely, his heart crashing against his ribcage. And he can’t continue like this.

Keith stumbles to the balcony, not knowing why the fuck he brought his laptop with him, and almost falls when he opens the window door,
hearing Shiro gasp when he all but collides against the rail with his shoulder. He doesn’t know how the fuck he manages not throwing his laptop through the metal bars of the rail, either, his hands numb at how hard they’re gripping the keyboard.
“Keith!” Shiro exclaims, worry bleeding from his face and voice, and Keith raises his hand to him, shaking his head, “W-what-”

“Don’t,” Keith interrupts, trying to collect himself before raising up to his feet and looking at Shiro in the eye, “Just...”
He trails off, concern tugging at his chest when he sees the bags under Shiro’s eyes, the weariness clinging to his every muscle, the slump on his shoulders.

Shiro didn't get any sleep, either.
“I-I have an astrophysics paper I need to finish,” he explains, panting, “It’s due tonight and I’m nowhere near the end and if I don’t send it, I’m going to get lots of trouble getting my degree on time.”
Shiro’s face smooths slightly, understanding, and his eyes briefly looks to Keith’s laptop in his free hand and then to his open window-door. There’s a moment of panic where Keith wants to scramble back to his apartment, run to his desk or flop down to the carpet and
continue writing without caring what type of crap he’s going to send to Dr. Holt, but Shiro’s eyes fall on him again and he’s froze at the steely gray.

“Stay there,” Shiro orders suddenly, authoritative, pointing him with his index finger, and he rushes inside his apartment,
leaving Keith all confused and kind of hot and bothered.

“What?” he blurts out, hearing Shiro scramble through some things in his apartment, and he staggers to the end of the balcony, nearer to Shiro’s, trying to crane his neck enough to look to Shiro’s window and only finding baby blue curtains, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to help you,” he hears him say through the curtains, and Keith frowns.
“You know about astrophysics?” he asks, incredulous, and he’s about to freak out because he’s losing time and there’s no way Shiro knows about astronomy and quantum physics enough to help him with his thesis.

There’s /no way/ Shiro could be even more perfect.
“I,” Shiro stumbles out of his apartment, breathless, holding three books, and shows him the cover of one of them, Keith’s jaw opening in awe, “have a master degree in astrophysics.”
There, in the cover, next to the title of ‘astrophysicist’, it’s the name of Keith’s biggest role model —and crush— during his teens.
And then, meeting Shiro’s gaze and suddenly finding the resemblance to one of the pictures he cut from a science magazine to keep under his pillow, he realizes: that’s Shiro’s full name.

“Let's get to work.”

Keith couldn’t be more in love.
He clicked send just at 11:57 p.m. The page loaded for 3 whole seconds and Keith sighed relieved because his shitty internet was finally working as it should.

“God,“ he sighed, long and exhausted, slumping against the wall and still in disbelief, “I can’t believe I made it.”
Shiro hums in affirmation, and Keith turned to look at him, finding him staring up to the sky, to the stars.

There’s papers and books scattered around him, one of them still open in his lap, but the words and images were just a blur to Keith’s tired eyes.
And even though he could see the exhaustion cling to Shiro’s face, his big, lopsided grin was bright and full of wonder, as if he had stuf he couldn’t believe either.

“Yeah, you made it,” he murmured turning to him, his expression too sweet and handsome, “Good job, Keith.”
He stared at him, waiting some sort of complain about not including him in the victory, that he wouldn’t have made it in the first place without Shiro’s help and knowledge to base on his theory.
Keith was used to working alone, so he always talks in first person and that had caused him lots of trouble with teammates and past friends. And even though he would’ve corrected himself that very moment without Shiro’s prompting, Shiro looked too proud of him,
as if it was really Keith and only Keith who have finished the paper with no help whatsoever.
“Not going to claim even a little bit of credit?” Keith asked raising a brow at him, expecting that with that Shiro would tease him about how his future degree as an astrophysicist would be entirely thanks to him.
But Shiro’s eyes went impossibly gentle.

“I’m sure you would’ve done it with or without my help.”

And Keith really doubts that. Because his mind was a nonsense spiral up until Shiro started explaining about quantum physics and black holes.
Keith wouldn’t have reached half the decent work he made with Shiro if he was all alone, and it annoyed him that Shiro wasn’t taking what he clearly owned —the right to rub in his face that he owed his life to him.
“Before midnight?” he asked, closing the laptop without caring to turn it off properly, and he finally could make Shiro giggle, his body squirming and shaking with the laugh until the book on his lap fell to the side and closed with a thump.
“Well, maybe before 2 a.m.” Shiro teased him, finally, his voice light with amusement and making Keith scoff, rolling his eyes, “But I’m sure Sam wouldn’t mind if your work was a bit late.”

Keith blinked, the words settling, and frowned.
That’s when reality struck, the name ‘Takashi Shirogane’ glinting below the name of his professor, Dr. Samuel Holt, making his insides implode as strong as the picture of the supernova in the cover page looked like.

/Takashi Shirogane/.
Shiro /is/ Takashi Shirogane, one of the youngest and most talented astronauts in the world. One of the most recognized pilots in the NASA. The one that brought the human to the most faraway location to the ends of their solar system.
Keith questions himself; if he should be talking to him so normally. Because Shiro isn’t just his relatively new neighbor, nor his brand-new friend.


Takashi Shirogane is his hero. Is the one that made him believe he could do anything if he worked for it.
he’s the reason why Keith is studying in the first place instead of working in odd part-time jobs for the rest of his life.

Takashi Shirogane; the very reason Keith got interested in the stars.

And in men, his mind unhelpfully supplied.
He’s the one that made Keith believe in himself. That it doesn’t matter who you are but what makes you /you/.

And he just helped him with his thesis with his own theories he published a couple of years ago. And he looks proud of him.

And Keith doesn’t deserve it.
Hell, he couldn’t even help him the night before, the picture of clear tears wetting his eyes and staining his cheeks still haunting him.

And Keith doesn’t deserve anything from him.
Thank you for you patience! I've been so busy these days with so many stuff, but I managed to write a bit and make sense of it!
I'll leave the update here, but I'll continue tomorrow!
Thank you for reading!]
“You don’t even know me.”

Shiro turned to him, his eyes wide in surprise and confusion, and Keith snapped his mouth shut and covering it with his hand, realizing just then he had said it out loud.
“I-I mean,” he tried to mumble an explanation, averting his eyes and feeling his cheeks heat in embarrassment, “You have too much faith in me, and we just met each other a few days ago, so I just-”

“I’d like to.”
Keith choked on his words, looking back at Shiro even though he knew his face was red and not because of the cold biting his skin. Bu Shiro wasn’t looking at him. And he wasn’t staring at the stars, either. His eyes were fixed in his lap, in his folded hands,
his fingers fidgeting in a way that Keith could only name as nervous.

“What?” he blurted out without thinking, again, and he punched himself mentally, wishing he could die on the spot due to high levels of caffeine and not making a fool of himself because of his lack of filter.
“I’d like to know you, Keith,” he whispered, almost shy, and Keith felt the air in is lungs catch, “If you’d let me, of course.”
Keith can’t help his gasp, blinking at Shiro many times in an attempt to see if this is a delirious dream after falling asleep on his desk and he still has to finish his damned paper.

But he doesn’t wake up, and every time he opens his eyes, he finds Shiro’s profile;
his starlight, disheveled hair after passing his hands through it so many times while reading and re-reading paragraphs of information to Keith, the bags hanging from his eyes that look a bit less heavy than before but still overshadows the skin under his lashes.
And his gray eyes, tingling with bashfulness, as if the confession was something more than just a petition to keep being friends, as if he was wishing the same thing Keith wishes since he met him for the first time.
And Keith isn’t thinking on the first time he saw him on television, his hair black, unscarred face and prideful smirk, with his uniform and many badges on his chest. Keith is thinking of the first time he saw him on that balcony, with the sunset outlining his figure,
his smile wide and his cheeks rosy with alcohol.

If he thinks about it, though, the sentiment is not that different from the other.

“I’m sorry about last night.”
Keith startled, tripping out of his thoughts, and he turned to Shiro, his smile now rueful. And the words stinging in his chest resonate through his mind.

‘I wanted to be alone.’

“I’ve had a rough night,” Shiro explained, his prothesis making a fist on his lap, “And I thought of getting fresh air by getting out here. But then I thought about you and I wanted...”

He trails off, mouthing a bit before closing his lips entirely.
And Keith feels the anxiety eating him up, the unsaid words making sense with the halted steps going from one side to side, the worn sigh, desperate rattle of the railing.
“I didn’t want to be alone,” he confessed in a murmur, his eyes lost in thought and his expression vulnerable, “I wanted to call you. For you to get out here and be with me until sleep got back to me. Or maybe until dawn, I don’t know.”

“But I couldn’t,” he sighed, looking up to the stars, “I couldn’t be so selfish with you.”

And that doesn’t make any sense to Keith, because Shiro is the most selfless person he has ever known, because if there’s one person that has the right to be selfish, that person is Shiro.
And Keith is willing to let him know that.

“I’m sorry I lied to you,” Shiro continues, suddenly looking at Keith and meeting his eyes, still shy and ashamed but determined to get his words through, “And I’m sorry I snapped at you, too. I know I made you think I didn’t want you to be here, but I wanted you to.
I want to be with you for as long as you let me, Keith. That’s why I want to get to know you. I want us to know each other, for us to be friends and be there for each other.”

Keith opened his mouth, speechless, and he cleared his throat, unexpectedly tight with raw emotion.
“Shiro...” he tried, expecting the words to just come, but he averted his eyes when none appeared in his mind, leaving him dumbfounded, “I-”
“I understand if you don’t want it,” Shiro said all of the sudden, as if that was what Keith was going to say, “We barely know each other and I was out of line and-”

“Wait,” Keith interrupted this time, Shiro’s eyes looking glassy and lost.
His voice was trembling, his left hand white-knuckled-ly gripping his other hand, and Keith understood he was recalling some other event, attentively seeing how his eyes slowly went back to the present, to Keith.
That’s when Keith realized: Shiro doesn’t need some fan to tell him he’s worth everything. Shiro needs a friend to reassure him.

And if Keith has to hide his whole life of fanboy-ing and drooling behind Takashi Shirogane, he’s very okay with it.
“You were upset,” Keith murmurs, softly and as-a-matter-of-fact-ly, noting Shiro’s brow furrowing.


“You were upset,” he repeated, shaking his head, “You don’t have to apologize for being upset. We all have the right to be upset, Shiro.”
Shiro blinked and then frowned, unable to say something against it.

“And then I came out and I got you by surprise,” Keith winced, averting his eyes, “So I understand why you told me you wanted to be alone. And it was kind of difficult to actually leave you alone.”
Shiro looked taken aback by that, as if the idea of Keith wanting to be with him even in that heavy, sorrowful moment.
“I want to be friends with you, too. If I’m being honest,” Keith murmured, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, hoping it would give him the power to not be a coward, “I wanted to jump to your balcony just to hug the hell out of you.”
Shiro laughs, breathless and disbelieving, and, if Keith is any good reading between lines, a bit self-deprecating.

“Wow,” he murmurs, looking away and smiling faintly, “I mistook your reasons to jump 8 feet of free fall without blinking.”
Keith snorts and finally lets himself look at Shiro, feeling more at ease when he sees his expression smooth and calm. He's so relieved he could help him, even if it's just a little.
“I would definitely jump 8 feet of free fall without blinking to beat up someone,” Keith states, making Shiro look back at him, “But you’re already beating yourself up, Shiro. Be kind to yourself.”
When he sees Shiro’s eyes widen in recognition, he knew he fucked up.
The first time he heard those words was when he came back to one of his former foster homes after a terrible first day at school. He had opened the front door with the intention of running all the way to his room and lock himself down in it until dinner
the voices from his foster family and the sound of the TV the only welcome he had in the last years.

However, his steps paused when he saw Takashi Shirogane on the screen, being interviewed about his life and achievements.
His foster family wasn’t even paying attention to it, only having the TV on to have background noise while they were talking on the kitchen or discussing over the dinner table. But Keith stopped to watch it because, somehow,
he had been seeing that man pop out in many news and conversations that last few days that it was impossible not knowing about him and being a little curious.

Takashi was just 19 and he had already gone to space in many missions.
He already had lots of acknowledgments all over the world, he had been attacked from many places, too, due to being homosexual and having a degenerative disease that put at risk every mission he was involved.
The interviewer mentioned as much, asking Takashi how he had dealt with that negativity, if maybe he preferred being someone else, to what Keith agreed silently. Keith always wished to be another person —not having grown up without a mother, with a blade as the reminder of her;
not having lost his father in a fire from where he could’ve survived if he hadn’t been so stubborn in saving the rest of the people trapped; not having been bullied because of his lack of parents and his new life as an orphan;
not having been passed through the system and all types of foster families due to a so-called bad temperament when the only thing he was doing was defend himself; not to still be attacked by the rest of the people, now because of his reputation and his newly found-out sexuality.
Keith preferred to be someone else, with an easier life, even a dull one if that’s what it is. He preferred to have a common family and a sexuality that was considered normal. That’s why the answer from Takashi Shirogane, with a sincere, open smile, took him by surprise.
“Be kind to yourself,” he had said after explaining that all those details were what made him his own self, that changing himself or pretending to be someone else would ease up the things in the outside, but his inside would’ve been a chaos in trying to forget who he really was.
It had been Takashi, with all his characteristics and flaws, that had reached for all the goals he had proposed to himself. It had been him, before and after that interview, that he had overcome all the obstacles that the society had put in front of him, too,
and now he was one of the youngest and most talented astronauts from N/ASA, with every type of rewards and achievements in the whole world. It had been him who even after the accident that costed the rest of his career and his opportunity to keep flying through the stars,
that he kept going with a new resolution —he continued studying to get his master’s degree in astrophysics, he published book after book about his theories and experiences, and he made changes in society, not only because of his valuable contributions in science and technology,
but because of his kindness with the rest of the world. With himself.

“Be kind to yourself,” Takashi had said directly to the camera, as if he could see Keith through it and know exactly the problems that were holding him back.
Keith had those words burned into his skin, only reminding him that being harsh with himself wasn’t going to get him anywhere but pain.

That single phrase had made Takashi Shirogane known even out of the science world.
Maybe the fact that Keith said it didn’t mean that Keith was his fan from a young age, or that it was because of him that Keith went out to study astrophysics —it was a given, actually, that Keith would know about Shiro due to that;
most of the books now used in his theory classes have the collaboration of Takashi Shirogane if the book wasn’t written by him, or he’s mentioned at least once in the pages.

Still, the panic rushes in his blood when Shiro grimaces, looking away.
“It’s been ages since I’ve heard that.”

The confession leaves Keith stunned.

“What? Really?” he asked without managing to cover up his shock, and Shiro shrugs a shoulder, downplaying it.
“I guess,” he mused, taking a deep breath, “No one has ever told me that to my face, actually. Everybody thinks just because I said it, I have ingrained in my system. But I really haven’t kept my word this last years.”
Keith blinks, still processing. He can’t really wrap his head around the fact that Shiro doesn’t follow his own philosophy. Or maybe it was Keith who dug too much into that sole phrase and used it to base his life on when it wasn’t meant like that.
Still, words is what you make of them, and he's grateful of them. And he wishes Shiro could know as much.

“I don’t think I have any right to do so now, though,” Keith hears Shiro murmur more to himself, catching how his prosthesis wiggles his fingers and makes a fist.
Keith remembers when the news came out; the announcements of the apparent “Pilot Error” that had caused the landing back on Earth on the mission to one of Pluto’s Moons, Kerberos, failed horribly. It wasn’t even in outer space, which is what Keith is deeply grateful for,
because most of the crew, although many were badly hurt, survived. Nonetheless, it was the accident cut short Shiro’s career as a pilot. There weren’t real details about it, but there were huge rumors about him losing a limb, and that the 'Pilot Error' was caused by his disease.
However, the latter was denied a few months later, the N/ASA making a public apology for calling the tragedy a “Pilot Error” when all the things they do at the moment of collapse was to avoid a worse outcome.
It was thanks to the decisions Shiro made at the last second that none of the crew members lose their life, although that made him lose his career.

And, as the rumors said, a limb.

“I didn’t think you’d know about me.”

It wasn’t a question, but Keith still nodded.
“I-” /have dreamed about meeting you since I was 13/, Keith tried not to blurt out. Instead he cleared his throat to keep his voice level, “A little bit difficult not to. You’re the youngest and most talented astronaut.”

Shiro scoffed bitterly and unamused, making Keith flinch.
“Once upon a time yes, I was,” he corrected, pointedly raising his right hand and wiggling the fingers with the same dexterity that his flesh hand would, “Not anymore, either way.”

Keith bit down on his lip to keep himself from refuting with the same ferocity he felt.
He didn’t like hearing him talk like that, as if he didn’t have the same worth after the accident, after making everything in his hands to save his crew.

Shiro is the most selfless person in the world, and he doesn’t have any idea how much he’s worth.

And that really can’t be.
“You are,” Keith insists after taking a breath to steady himself, Shiro looking back at him with curiosity, “You are until someone else beats your records, or dares to take the same risks you took.”
Shiro stays quiet, pondering it, but Keith doesn’t let him have his silence to think of ways to refute it.
“Really, Shiro, no one is even near to beating your records on training, neither on your achievements and missions. There’s no living person that had gone to the most faraway point in our solar system as you--”
“That was a long time ago, Keith,” Shiro presses, “The ‘me’ right now isn’t--”

“The ‘you’ now is the same ‘you’ as before,” Keith interrupts, turning his whole body to him to look at him face to face, hitting himself in the knee with the railing but not even caring one bit,
“Even if they do beat your records and there was someone flying more far away than you did, you’re still /you/. There’s no way the same person I admired then isn’t the same person I’m looking at right now. You’re still you, Shiro, nothing will change that. Be kind to yourself.”
Surprise bleeds into Shiro’s expression half into Keith’s rambling, making his jaw fall open and his eyes widen and shimmer in wonder. If Keith’s sight wasn’t that tired, he could swear he was seeing a faint blush over his cheeks and nose, the scar burning red.
“You...” Shiro murmurs almost inaudible, and Keith startles when Shiro turns to him, too, leaning over his crossed legs to try and watch Keith more closely.

And, despite of the distance and the railings breaching them apart, Keith flustered at the thought of being closer to him.
“You admired me?”
[I was planning on posting more but I got stuck with the words, so I'm going to leave it here! Don't expect an update soon, I have stuff to do from school and I really need to get that done before I can relax. Have a nice week, everyone ❤️🖤✨]
Keith gasped, his heart jumping in commotion, the wondering tone being unexpectedly amazed.

“I- uh...” mumbled, trying to gulp and noticing his mouth was dry.

However, Shiro looked delighted, smiling widely at Keith’s stutter and his eyes shining despite of the night,
with the stars above them and the moon in the sky.

Keith wanted to kiss that smile until it became giggly or vanished with a sigh.

“Yes,” he ended up answering with a breath, his heartbeat thumping against his chest, “I still do. I always did.”
And that was an exaggeration, of course —at first, Keith was reluctant to believe Shiro was everything the media said about him. It wasn’t possible that someone that perfect existed. Keith was sure that most of the things he was acclaimed for were mere inventions, and
It wasn’t even after Shiro came out by accident in his promotion ceremony, suddenly grabbing his supposedly 'just roommate', but actually boyfriend, in front of a camera that was transmitting live to national television. Although he had to admit Keith felt sympathy for him.
But all his admiration for Shiro bloomed a year later or so: ‘Be kind to yourself.’

“Really?” Shiro’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts, being incredibly sweet and soft, incredulous, “Wow, didn’t think I’d meet a fan.”
His tone was teasing and it made Keith feel emarrassed.

“I’m not- Ugh, whatever,” he grumbled, but Shiro just chuckled, his tone now kind.

“Although, it doesn’t look like you recognized me up until now.”

Keith averted his eyes, feeling himself blush to his ears.
Well, here goes nothing.

“Oh, um...” he eloquently tried to explain, but there was no way of saying it without looking stupid, “I, uh, didn’t, actually. I found out who you are when you showed me the book you wrote with Dr. Holt.”
Shiro blinked a couple of times, his smile going weirdly flat, and his eyes fell to the books still scattered around him, the cover from one shining with his name.


Keith chews on his lip, not knowing what to do with that reaction, and panic bubbles inside him when
Shiro’s brow furrows a bit.

“I-I mean!” Keith rushed to explain, Shiro’s gaze going back to him, “T-thinking that I’d met Takashi Shirogane as my neighbor in a stupid quarantine is too good to be truth. I guess my mind hasn’t processed it yet.”
Shiro huffed, his smile a bit quirked and his eyes going light with the explanation.

“And thinking that Takashi Shirogane himself helped me with my thesis is even more unbelievable,” Keith confessed, shrugging and letting out a shaky breath, “Thank you for that, by the way.
I wouldn’t have made it without your help.”

He chuckled, awkwardly, and then risked a glance to his face, feeling his heart leap at the tenderness on Shiro’s expression, his smile opening briefly and biting the corner of his lower lip.
“I’m glad I could help you, Keith,” he murmured softly, the slight pink on his cheeks going a bit more visible, “But I’m sure you could’ve made it on your own. Your ideas on their own are very well based and very interesting.”
Keith looked away, trying to keep from blushing by will. It didn’t work.

“Thanks,” he whispered, and Shiro smiled.

“And even if you didn’t, Sam Holt isn’t the type of professor that would fail you just because you missed the deadline.”
Keith huffs, remembering how friendly Dr. Holt is in general. He knows he wouldn’t have that much of a problem if his work was uploaded a few hours later than what was due, but he doesn’t like that idea when it was entirely his fault for leaving the work to the last minute.
“Yeah,” he sighed, “I know, I just...”

He trailed off, not knowing how to explain without sounding condescending, and Shiro tilted his head, prompting and still smiling, easing his troubling a bit.
“I should’ve worked on this since before,” he glanced at the books, making Shiro do the same, “They told us about the deadline two weeks ago and I’d normally work on it until it was done. But I--”
He stops talking, knowing that saying ‘got distracted’ was very much an embarrassing truth. Yeah, it was Keith’s fault for being so hung up on his time spent with Shiro this last few days, but he didn’t get anything done for the earlier days either; being ‘distracted’ in a
fucking quarantine where he couldn’t even go out to have coffee was ridiculous.

He should have time to work on his thesis instead of procrastinating.

“I just...” he tried again, shaking his head, annoyed at himself, “I don’t really know.”
Shiro stays silent for a bit, not really waiting for Keith to keep going, but he looks like he’s thinking about what he said, his grin almost gone save for the glint in his eyes.
“You know,” Shiro said, shuffling forward and giving him a knowing smile that mortifies him, “I haven’t done much in this quarantine either.”

Keith frowns, not knowing what that has to do with this.
“Yeah, but you already did a lot during the last few years,” he stated, making a general movement to the books laid around Shiro, “You deserve to rest. I really don’t.”

Shiro scoffs, rolling back his eyes and leveling Keith with a look that looks exasperated but fond.
Keith is sure he had never been looked at like that in all his life, his dad’s gaze in his memories being similar but different, and it makes something inside his gut twirl in excitement.
“You make it sound like I’m an old, retired man,” Shiro says narrowing his eyes at Keith, which makes his mouth twist in an attempt to not smile.

“Aren’t you, old timer?” Keith teases without helping himself and Shiro bites off his own smirk.
“Okay, shut up, you brat,” Shiro scolds without any heat, his expression feigning annoyance, “I’m just in my late 20s.”

“I thought you were 7.”

/That/ makes Shiro laugh, surprised and whole-heartedly.
“I- Wow, you /do/ know about me,” he says with his shoulders still shaking from laughter, his eyes wide and bright, “You /are/ my fan.”

Keith feels himself blush harshly, but looking away would just make him even more aware of how nervous he is about this.
“I’m /not/,” he seethes through his teeth and Shiro shakes his head, dismissing his words with a wave of his hand, “Everybody knows this!”

“Yeah, sure,” Shiro teases, and Keith rolls his eyes.

“What I mean is that you deserve a break, too. After everything you’ve been through.”
The words hit well after he said them, and he tries to keep his eyes carefully on Shiro’s, not wandering to his prosthesis. Shiro sighs, bowing his head, looking a little defeated, but when he looks up at Keith again, his gaze is kind.
“Of course we all need a break once in a while, but that it’s not what I meant.”

And Keith knows it’s not, but he’s too proud to agree with it.
“It’s not a race, Keith,” he points out, a second later narrowing his eyes and frowning, “Well, at least not with each other. I had to make it that early because I didn’t know if I was going to be here later, so it was kind of a race for me.”
Keith feels dread fill him suddenly, Shiro’s disease being the one that was always theme of conversation in every interview, in every news, in every report.

Shiro must’ve been scared, but he didn’t stop.
“But that doesn’t mean you or anybody have to make everything I did or more at my age. We all go at our own pace. Sometimes faster than others, sometimes slower, sometimes we even back up a few steps to take another route.”
Keith thought about it. About how his grades are way better than Lance but way lower than that little genius gremlin in his lab class that is already in her master’s degree and still a few years younger than him.
He thinks about how hard it was for him to get a grasp on writing down everything that could help him with his theory and how easy it was to just build a motorcycle engine from scratch while some of his classmates thought it was easier making essays than the engineering course.
Shiro was right. But it doesn’t mean that he should keep losing his time in quarantine like this.

“I know,” he conceded, looking down and fidgeting, “I’m just... desperate. It's really hard to get shit done when I’m locked up in here and it shouldn’t be.”
Shiro nodded, slowly, his eyes assessing Keith closely and making him shift nervously.


Keith glanced up, his brow furrowing.


Shiro shrugged a shoulder, leaning over his hand, elbow perched on his knee.

“Why should it be not hard?”
He’s aware the question was made by his own statement, but now that it’s directed to him, he can’t really make sense of it.

“I know we have much more time free now,” Shiro starts before Keith can even get a grasp on his own thoughts, “We don’t have to deal with the time spent on
traveling to work, or in getting ready to get out of the house. But it’s really much more than that.”

Shiro looks down to his book, reaching for him and opening it in a random page, staring at the words for a second.
“We’re not used to this environment. To not being able to get out of our house. We’ve grown having to go out to school, to get groceries, to go on dates or whatever the hell we wanted. But now we’re stuck inside our own homes and can’t do anything about it. We’re helpless.”
Keith’s eyes fall to Shiro’s right arm, the metal shining with the movement of his fingers on the page.

“Even when we like being in the commodity of our homes, or even hate socializing with people, we miss that kind of interactions because it was a daily thing. Now we have to
get used to not having them and that derails our ways of life. Even when we have stuff to do, our mind and body isn’t used to this environment, and if you force it to work even if you’re not okay, you’ll get overwhelmed.”

He tenses when Shiro looks back at him, smiling softly.
“We’re in contingency. We deserve to not be okay, to not be able to work like we used to. We just have to find ways on doing it again, but without blaming ourselves about it."

His eyes get suddenly firm and Keith feels unexpectedly grounded.
"It’s not your fault you couldn’t work like before, Keith. You need to take a break, too.”

Keith takes a deep breath, emotion filling his lungs, and he nods, averting his gaze.

I- Yeah. Okay,” he mumbles, feeling a bit dizzy and breathless, “Thank you, Shiro.”
Shiro hums, the book closing in the night air, and Keith glances at him.

“Always happy to help a fan.”

Keith stutters, snorting hideously and blushing when Shiro chuckles at that. But he feels at ease, like he can really get over this weird academic block and get shit done.
He has no idea who said his goodbyes first when the sun starts to rise and the stars dim in the sky, but he's somehow back at his bed, staring at the ceiling. He can't really pinpoint what has him still awake after not sleeping for almost 48 hours, but he can't calm down.
He's excited and he doesn't know why until it dawns over him and he sits up from the bed, now staring at the wall.

"Takashi Shirogane flirted with me," he murmurs, feeling faint and overwhelmed.
[I want to ask you, people, do you want nsfw on this thread or should I put it on ao3 when I post it there?]
[Okay! There'll be smut on this thing, but, since there was someone who don't want to see that, I'll be tagging all the nsfw parts (as it always should be) so you can mute the tag and not see them! You won't lose any important parts of the story, so don't worry about it!]

Maybe Keith is reading too much into this. He has the bad habit of believing that any little piece of interest in his person is somehow related to being attracted to him. That’s what happened the first time, when he was endlessly teased by a boy in middle school and Keith
kind of developed a crush on him because he thought the asshole was in love with him or something.

Turned out the asshole was just an asshole and Keith had the good luck to break his nose after he said something he shouldn’t have about his sexuality and his dad.
Then the thing with Regris happened.

It was kind of stupid, and very cliché, falling for the popular one on his chemistry class. Regris was tall and strong, but held himself in a quiet and gentle manner that made him stand out even more in the rush of high school.
He could easily be quarterback of the football team, but preferred to spend time at the library or sprawled on the grass looking at the sky.

The first interaction Keith had with him was predictable. Keith bumped into him when running late for classes,
and his still-scrawny frame couldn’t handle crashing against him.

He hit the floor, all his books falling around him, and he didn’t care about the laughs and mean comments thrown about him, more preoccupied about gathering his things in a rush and getting to class on time.
He stilled, though, when the guy kneeled in front of him, helping him with some loose papers that had fallen from his notebook.

“Here,” he said, giving Keith the papers, but Keith just stared at him, not even giving the papers a glance.
Keith thought Regris was like the jerks he had as friends, still laughing at Keith behind him, but his face was stoic, just a very little hint of concern showing in his burrowed eyebrows.

From then on, he was surprised to suddenly start to find Regris in the crowd.
It was very hard to miss, really, at how much taller he was from the rest of the boys, just senior girl being just a bit taller than him. But Keith didn’t search for him before and now he tried to find him even when he was not there.
They somehow started spending time with the other. Maybe at the library. Maybe in the grass after Keith fell from the tree he was hiding on from the bullies that started stealing his lunch and pocket money.
He doesn’t really care how it all started, but Regris became his closest friend in high school, even when they hardly met a couple of times a week and it was mostly in comfortable silence. Maybe that was the reason, because the need to fill up the silence with words was unneeded
for with someone who could understand you even when you say nothing.
Keith thought their moments were the only thing important, because out of them, Regris just glanced over him in the classroom or in the hallways. If they barely talked in their time together, they didn’t exchange even a word when they were surrounded by people.
But Regris started giving Keith candy, and Keith started helping him with physics. Regris defended him from his friends and Keith thanked him quietly when they were alone. Regris started smiling more, if the little curve in the corner of his lips was a smile,
and Keith started smiling more, too. More at himself than anything.

Regris caused things in him, and he knew he had a big crush on him after he found him sleeping deeply in the grass, the shadow of the tree and the light of the sun making beautiful figures in his features.
Things went down when Keith ended up with his strawberry milkshake all over his clothes, one of the bullies he had managed to fight off the last time they tried and failed to take his money having ‘bumped’ into him and made him crash against the waitress passing beside him.
(CW: #homophobia)

There was milkshake in his hair and there were people laughing at him. The jerk was saying something about pink being his color since he wanted to be a girl so hard that's why he fucked boys.
And even when he could’ve stand up and broke that jerk’s face for the second time in a week, he felt himself wanting to break apart. To fall to his knees and cry his eyes out at how unfair everything was for him.
But before he could even feel the knot on his throat, a whimper threatening to slip, big hands found his shoulders and he was suddenly in the parking lot of the dine, being pushed gently over a car that he was familiar to watch in the distance.
“Here,” Regris said, giving Keith his knit sweater and turning his back on him, giving him privacy while Keith changed in the backseat, his hands shaky and his hair sticky.

Regris was too big, and while Keith had filled out his own baggy clothes very well in the last two years,
the purple sweater was still too big on him. Keith sighed, cleaning the stain in his pants with his dirty shirt, and was relieved when he saw that they weren’t stained too much, so he could keep his dignity and not take them off, or walk home uncomfortable.
“Thanks,” he muttered, looking down to his shirt, balled up in his fists and dripping pink to the pavement.

Regris just leaned beside the open door, silent, and Keith still wanted to cry. But he knows now that doing it would just make Regris uncomfortable.

Keith frowned, looking up at him.


“Red looks better on you.”

And seeing him outlined by the sun in a Friday, which he mostly spent with his friends instead of with Keith, with his sweater sharing his warmth as if he was hugging him close, made Keith feel stupidly bold.

His eyes found his, and Keith was pulling him down by the collar of his shirt, their lips meeting briefly in a quick peck. And that was just because Regris pulled away the moment Keith kissed him, his surprise the most open and expressive Keith had seen in his face.
“I like you,” Keith confessed, breathlessly, because he could see the fait blush on his cheeks, because he could see the brightness in his eyes.

But, again, Keith’s luck has never been relatively good.
“I’m sorry,” he heard him say, his heart sinking low in his gut and pain crossing through his chest.
And Keith ran away. He ran until he could feel the wind hitting his face, until his lungs screamed from breath, until his legs protested under his weight. He ran until his physical pain was almost as hard as his heartbreak, although it never reached how painful it actually was.
He returned the sweater the next Monday, washed up from the strawberry and his own skin and tears. He returned the sweater without even giving him a glance, knowing that looking at him in the eye would prove how swelled and puffy his eyes were of crying the whole weekend.
He returned the sweater and never searched for Regris again. Not in the library. Not in the grass under the tree. Keith just focused on finishing high school and getting the hell out of there.

He tensed, stopping in the street, and he didn’t have to turn to know Regris was standing behind him.


Regris stayed silent, and Keith was very much amused at how some things didn’t change even when everything around it did.

“I’m sorry.”
Keith huffed, blinking at the mostly empty street, and turned around to look at him, feeling how his glare softened at his regretful expression.
“What for?” he asked, not because of pride, but because he didn’t understand, “I was the one who read things wrong. I was the one who kissed you without even asking before if the feeling was mutual.”

Regris looked away, and Keith somehow understood.

“I’m sorry I misled you.”
‘He’s blaming himself for making you fall in love with him,’ he had thought at the time, ‘He’s apologizing for making you believe your feelings could be reciprocated.’

But something else about it was bugging him. And deep down, some little part of Keith, insisted that wasn’t it.
That Regris was apologizing for rejecting Keith when he had the opportunity to act on his feelings. To kiss Keith back and maybe climb over him in the back seat, not minding how public and in-the-middle-of-the-day inappropriate was.
To say the words ‘I like you’ back to Keith, and finally make him happy, still stained and sticky with strawberry milkshake.
But, of course, things don’t work out for him. Ever. And now Keith was sure he was reading too much into this, too.

“I can’t believe you are majoring in astrophysics.”

Keith looked at Shiro over the rim of his beer, and narrowed his eyes.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Shiro shrugged, a smirk on his lips while he sipped on his wine.

“You don’t look like a nerd.”

The statement made him frown, because, although he knows he doesn’t look like the stereotype of a nerd, that really didn’t define him as a person.
“You don’t look like a nerd, either,” he pointed out, and Shiro huffed.

“Well, this is what happens when you have to go up in the stars, Keith,” he said, making a general gesture to his body, “You know, exercise and stuff.”
“Exercise and /stuff/,” Keith repeated, amused at how the technical words seem to escape Shiro’s vocabulary when he was a bit tipsy.

“Yeah, /stuff/,” Shiro agreed, as if Keith was just confirming and not teasing him about the wording, “And you don’t look like /stuff/, Keith.”
Keith huffed, trying not to laugh, and shook his head, really not understanding.

“Okay,” he said, slowly, making Shiro look at him, “Then, what do I look like?”

Shiro stared at him, hard and unwavering, and Keith regretted even asking.
Shiro was drunk, even if it was just from half glass of wine —he was more lightweight than Keith had ever imagined, especially for someone his size— and maybe asking that kind of thing was trying to take advantage of his state, to try and pry about what he thought about Keith.
But, with Shiro’s dark gaze over him, blinking up and down his body, Keith couldn’t feel any fault.

“Well,” he heard him rumble, his voice low and heavy, “more like a bad boy.”
Keith arched a brow, knowing full well what he was talking about, but he was more focused on how Shiro was eyeing him than the actual answer.

“I can be a nerd /and/ a bad boy, Shiro,” he teased, smirking and Shiro tilted his head, considering.
“Really?” Shiro asked, leaning over the rail and looking right into his eyes, as if they were mere inches away and not 8 feet apart.

“You’d like that, huh?” Keith murmured.

Keith looked away, too flustered, and pretended his beer was more interesting to see than Shiro’s flush on his face and neck, with his low-waisted pants and tight shirt.

“How come?”

“It’d be hot.”

And, yeah, maybe Keith was reading too much into it.
But that was flirting, right? Shiro was flirting with him, right? Keith wasn’t dreaming, right?

It wasn’t the first time, his mind reminded him. When they met, Shiro flirted with him —tipsy, like he was right now— and they had flirted other times, too,
although Keith thought they were more playful than serious.

Was Shiro serious right now? Should Keith keep going?

“What’re you thinking, hot stuff?”

Keith let out a breath, laughing nervously, and then shook his head.
“I think you should go to sleep, Shiro,” he said glancing at him, finding him still staring at him.

The moon was up in the sky right now, outlining Shiro’s figure in the night, and Keith was very grateful when they agreed to meet at dawn to look at the stars together like the
nerds they were. Because, yes, Keith was a nerd even when his looks screamed bad boy, as Shiro had said.

Shiro just hummed, non-committal, and swirled the wine in his glass, his eyes still over Keith.

“Take me to bed?”
Heat knotted on Keith’s gut, and he gripped his free hand in the rail, keeping himself from jumping and doing it. He supposed he’s a bit drunk, too, from Shiro’s gaze on him rather than the shitty beer he found in the supermarket that afternoon.

“Can’t do, big guy.”
Shiro pouted —he /pouted/— and a little whine came from his throat, his eyes open in wonder.


Keith bit his lip and scoffed, shaking his head.

“Maybe another day, sweetheart,” he said, leaning on the rail and whispering, “I can’t really come to your place, right now.”
Shiro grumbled like a child, and Keith kept himself from chuckling.

“Go to sleep, Shiro,” he commanded softly, Shiro sighing long and defeated.

“Okay,” he muttered, looking up at Keith through his lashes and his smile was back, “Good night, Keith.”
“Good night,” Keith almost wheezed, having to take a gulp of beer and clear his throat.

He followed Shiro’s figure until the baby blue curtains and the window-door closed. When the lock clicked, Keith found himself slumping over the rail and groaning.
“He’s not into you. He’s not into you. He’s not into you, Keith, don’t be stupid,” he whispered into his palm, looking down to the gardens of the building, “Pull yourself together, for god's sake."
He sighed, deep and weary, and looked at the other balcony, the empty space Shiro left mocking him.

“I don’t want to lose you, too.”
[I'll leave it here for now!! I have to keep going on my other thread (I've neglected it a bit too much and I have to keep it going!) Have a nice night, everyone!! Leave me a ko-fi if you want!] 
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