A chain of them, actually, which Keith lets play out one after another on a late night when sleep refuses to come. No matter how he stretches and turns under the covers, his aching physical exhaustion never carries him away into slumber.
The acting can’t really be called... good.
But that’s weird. It’s so fucking weird.
He imagines Shiro saying his name.
“I know,” Keith sighs as he finishes tying his laces.
“I made it to-go for you,” his dad smiles, one hand braced against the counter and the other on his apron-covered hip.
“I’ve met your uncle, yes,” his dad cuts in.
Keith tries not to drip hot sauce on his dad as they hug goodbye; on his way down the front steps, he shoves the last third into his mouth and pulls on his helmet.
“This morning, your mother dropped off a motorist she found stranded on the side of the highway. I had Regris tow the car in and it’s…” He flips a page up. “Not good.”
“Uh, Takashi Shirogane?”
“How— yeah, that’s my nickname,” Shiro replies, his bright smile faltering, turning nervous. “How do you— oh. Oh, shit. The videos?” he asks in a dropped whisper.
“Alright,” he says, already fishing out his wallet. “Do I need to pay anything now, or just after?”
“I’ll do the labor for free,” Keith offers. This way, it’s a loss to no one but him— although he imagines Kolivan will still corner him and question as to why he’d work hours unpaid for the stranded motorist his mother happened upon.
“Well, ostensibly, you’ve seen me… p-playing dress-up as a paladin, for one,” Shiro laughs, looking everywhere but at Keith. “Exercising my wide range of bad acting, for another. And that time I did that awful accent?"
“Keith! Keith,” Shiro says, eyes wide and his metal hand immediately held out. “My apologies for not asking sooner. I just got thrown for a little bit of a loop.”
“You could say that,” Shiro replies, raking his other hand through his hair.
“Nah, it’s fine. I’m on vacation, actually, so it’s not like I’m missing anything important." Shiro smiles. "Just pina coladas on the beach.”
Keith braces his elbows on the counter and leans forward. This close, he can smell the copious sunscreen on Shiro; under that lies something like mint.
“Duly noted,” Shiro nods, leaning over to get a good look at Keith's screen.
“Well, now you know the lay of the land,” Keith says, tucking his phone back in his pocket. “Not that there’s much to know. Pretty small town. Not a lot to do around here.”
“So what do -you- do?” Shiro asks, unmistakably curious. About -him-. Keith.
He nibbles on his bottom lip, considering. “And I watch a lot of your videos.”
For all Keith’s stumbling, his words— for once— seem to work.
“Uh, if you could fill your number in here, I’ll give you a call when the part comes in,” he hurriedly explains, handing Shiro the clipboard and a pen. “And I’ll let you know as soon as the repairs are finished.”
“No problem,” Keith croaks back, already replaying the sound of his name in Shiro’s voice— soft and honey-sweet, personal, approving.
“Text you?” Keith tentatively questions, wondering if Shiro only means he’d rather not be called. His heart makes a racket in his chest, egging him to hope for more.
“No! No, I will,” Keith promises, looking from Shiro down to the paper in his hand. Next to the number field, there’s a smiley face.
“Uh, hi. Again,” he greets, and this time he’s red-faced from bright midday sun outside. “So… I was hoping to get some lunch and head to the motel, but I’ve since realized there’s zero uber or lyft presence around here.”
“I was kind of hoping to avoid it, since I'll only be here a day and a half,” he says, sighing. "But maybe that’d be best. Better than walking there, anyway. I might melt.”
“A Suzuki GSX-R1000, but I made it red. Very red.” He grins as Shiro whistles appreciatively, the sound going right down his spine. “I’ve always wondered what you drive, you know. Ever since you did the video with the gloves.”
That’s a lie— Keith’s never met a meal he can’t polish off, even if it never shows on his wiry, narrow frame— but he doesn’t want Shiro making himself miserable for the sake of being polite.
It’s a quick sprint down the hall to the breakroom, Keith only slowing as he passes the office where Kolivan and Antok sit eating their casserole. He weaves through extended family and fishes his bag from the fridge.
It’s stuffed with vegetables sliced into stars and flowers, boiled egg hippos, hot dog octopi, two sandwiches sliced into cat shapes, and a generous slice of apple pie for dessert.
The disparity bothers Keith more than it does good-natured Shiro, maybe.
“My dad’ll be thrilled to hear that,” Keith laughs.
“The least you can do?” Elbow propped on the back of the couch and his chin in his palm, Shiro searches him with deep grey eyes. “This morning, I was upset. Miserable, even. But you turned my day around, Keith.”
“No, I like it,” Keith hurries to tell him. “You can tie me up anytime.”
“There’s the car,” Keith breathes as soon as he sees the familiar tan and brown of his mother’s cruiser pull up outside, never happier to see her.
And then Keith darts back inside to rifle through Shiro’s paperwork, eagerly saving the number into his phone.
As Regris and Antok start buzzing around, Keith surreptitiously pockets his phone and tries to get back to work. Tries, because his thoughts keep turning back to Shiro no matter how busy his hands become.
It’s too much to contemplate while trying to replace an old timing belt that’s ready to give way any day now, and Keith goes through the motions of his work with a dreamy slowness that doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the garage.
“So he can leave bright and early on Tuesday. Or head out overnight, if he wants. He said he's on vacation and I hate to think about him being stuck here with nothing to do.”
His dad flashes him a thumbs up, so Keith hurries upstairs. He strips down and leaps under the spray while it’s still cold, furiously scrubbing the day away. Sweat, dust, and engine grease disappear down the drain with his cinnamon-scented lather.
Keith feels a preemptive blush building as he peeks inside. He spies Shiro and his mom already sitting down at the table, his dad still in his apron as he sets out plates piled high with lettuce and rice and thinly sliced steak.
He's cleaned up too, by the looks of it, wearing a soft-looking button down with the sleeves rolled up. Fresh-faced and damp haired.
Not that Keith had expected any different. His dad has his own messy scars, reminders of the fire that had nearly killed him when Keith was only 8,
It’s not an embarrassingly bad dinner, even. Shiro seems to enjoy the food, the drinks, the company. And Keith’s happy to see him happy— happier than he would’ve been with Vrepit Sal’s meatloaf and TV in his motel room, certainly.
“Uh, yes. Butter pecan’s great.”
It’s mortifying, even if Keith’s in love with the idea. Fortunately, Shiro— apparently very excited to have ice cream— doesn’t notice.
“Yeah. Of course.” Shiro takes another bite of his ice cream and looks out at the horizon. It’s a cloudless, starfull night, the Milky Way streaking across the sky the way it rarely does anywhere else anymore, it seems, with light pollution encroaching everywhere.
“Nope,” Keith agrees. They’re quiet for a time, enjoying the taste of butter pecan, the beautiful sprawl of the sky, and each other’s nearby presence. Or Keith is, at least, basking in this extra time spent with Shiro.
“Yeah. Anything,” Shiro says, eyes turned on him with a soft, tentative smile.
Keith draws his legs up onto the swing, arms looped tight around them. “How did you get into ASMR stuff in the first place?”
Shiro gives him a smile, then sighs. “I don’t know which was worse, honestly— the nightmares or the insomnia. And I hated the sleeping meds they gave me. Made me feel like shit, fucked with my memory… but I didn’t really know what else to do?”