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#sheith thread | ASMR AU pt. 2! | slightly nsfw

part 1 can be found here:
"Me, too. Thanks, Keith." For a few moments, Shiro doesn’t say anything else. He toys with his spoon and stares down into his empty mug, looking thoughtful, before glancing up at Keith again. “So, what about you? How’d you find my videos?”
“Started with knives, then knife massages, then massage videos,” Keith says, pointing to Shiro— who grins along, pleased they had a common link in their respective youtube journeys. “Got kinda halfway into the ASMR ones. Didn’t really get it until I saw you. Roleplaying.”
“Me? Really?” Shiro almost preens. But hs beaming smile falters as some new concern apparently crosses through his mind. “Wait, which one did you watch first?”

“Uh, a pretty old one. Dental check-up or cleaning, I think.”
“Oh no,” Shiro groans, leaning back in the swing. “I was so nervous at the start. Had to edit out so many fuck ups, and it definitely shows. So choppy.”

“I still liked it. So much so that I subscribed and went through everything else you made,” Keith points out. "Voraciously."
The admission makes Shiro's nose wrinkle as he laughs, eyes squeezed tight, arms held straight beside him as he grips the edge of the porch swing's seat.

Keith finds it charming, like he does everything else about him. “What made you decide to start making your own videos?”
“Well, they helped me so much that I wanted to do the same thing for other people, I guess. Even just one person.” Shiro shrugs his wide shoulders. “And I had an actual, authentic set for doing dentist stuff, so… kind of a waste not to use it, right?”
“Yeah," Keith laughs, soft as a hum. “It definitely gave you points for presentation.”

There's a soft, silent lapse between them before Shiro quietly asks, “Have you, uh… ever thought about doing it? Making your own ASMR stuff, I mean. You have a really good voice for it.”
It’s Keith’s turn to let out a taken aback, “Me??” His shoulders slump as Shiro smiles and nods, apparently really meaning it. “Why would I? My voice isn’t… it’s nothing special, Shiro. And I have enough trouble interacting with people in person,” he snorts. “Nevermind online.”
“Your voice is nice,” Shiro insists almost stubbornly, a determined set to his brows and jaw. “Distinct. Almost— smoky? It’s so… you could— I’d listen to you read a phonebook. Or anything. And I’d watch you—” Shiro swallows audibly here, “do anything, too.”
Keith doesn’t know what there is to say to that; he almost fears that if if he opens his mouth, an incoherent mess will spill out instead. So he blinks at Shiro and draws in a deep breath through his nose, his sweaty-palmed hands curling into the fabric of his grey sweats.
“Shit. Shit, I’m so sorry,” Shiro says, suddenly crestfallen. He gathers up his mug and makes to stand. “That was… off the charts weird and inappropriate, huh? I’ll just, um, start walking,” he breathes, hiking a thumb over his shoulder in the distant direction of town.
“No,” Keith peeps out, hooking his fingers in the rolled cuff of Shiro’s sleeve. His voice feels crackly and dry as tumbleweed, and for the life of him, Keith can’t imagine what Shiro likes about it. “It wasn’t, Shiro. Stay. Please.”
Shiro lets himself be tugged back down to the swing, it rocking them back and forth as his weight settles again. “I did mean it,” he whispers after a few seconds slip by. “If you recorded yourself talking through a repair or something, I’d listen to it on repeat ad infinitum.”
Keith shifts in place, nervously folding his legs under him. Everything Shiro’s said feeds a tingly, fluttery feeling in his belly— the thought of him watching and listening late into the night, falling asleep to Keith the same way he’s so often done to Shiro. “But… why?”
The look Shiro gives him is borderline pained, mouth closing and thinning to a wearied line. “Why?” he repeats back.

“You’re you,” Keith tries to explain, gesturing helplessly to all of Shiro. “That’s why almost half a million people want to watch you. I’m… just me, though.”
Shiro rubs his hands up his cheeks, close to burying his face against his palms. “Keith, I’ve known you for all of a day and I can already see you’re amazing. Just talking to you makes me feel better. About everything. And you look, um, very nice, too.”
“And your voice, uh…” Shiro steeples his hands in front of his mouth, staring out into the nighttime expanse rather than meeting Keith’s curious stare. “I don’t know how to tell you this, Keith, but the timbre of your voice is… cool. And hot. At the same time.”
“Cool,” Keith repeats, the corner of his mouth daring to curl into a smile, “-and- hot?”

It's just barely teasing, the way it comes out. Keith's breaths quicken in his chest, heart too loud in the silence of the lonely night spread around them.
Shiro tips his head back and lets out a heavy sigh. “Yes. I’m usually better at choosing words and stringing them together, I promise. I am.” He lolls his head to the side, finally looking at Keith head-on again. “But today’s just been… it’s like...”
Shiro trails off, eyes sparkling in the faint starlight, the tip of his tongue darting out to wet along his full bottom lip. Distracted, maybe. Keith stares back, itching to smile even broader.

Abruptly, Shiro blinks, his full lashes fluttering, and lets out a weak laugh.
“I did it again,” he murmurs, the deepening of his blush visible even in the dark. He shoots a meaningful look over at Keith, but only briefly. “Lost my train of thought. Seems like you have that effect on me.”
Hearing those words on Shiro’s lips is surreal. Shiro— the man Keith’s admired from afar for months and quietly, hopelessly pined for in his own way. Suddenly, the handful of inches separating them seem either much too close or not far enough. “Same. You on me, I mean.”
The weak, yellowed bulb on the porch flickers off and on a few times, causing them both to look up. A moment later, Keith’s dad pushes the screen door open and sticks his out, clearing his throat. “Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Keith burns up to his ears with a full-body blush, stiff as he sits up straight. Over Shiro’s shoulder, he glares indignant daggers at his father; meanwhile, Shiro stumbles over himself to reassure Tex that they were just chatting.
His dad holds up a hand, trying to pacify both of them. “Just wanted to let y’all know it’s getting late. If you want a lift back to the motel, Shiro, it’ll have to be soon. Krolia and I are about ready to turn in,” he says, stifling a yawn behind the back of his hand.
“I can do it. I’ll take him,” Keith immediately offers, nodding as he looks from his dad to Shiro. “I’ll drive you there.”

“Okay!” Shiro agrees just as quickly. “I mean, I did really want to check out your Suzuki. What better way than riding it?”
In the doorway, his dad pulls a face and gives them both a nod. “Alright, but you two oughta leave soon so you’re not out on the roads too late. And hurry back, Keith, cause we’ll be waiting up for you.”
As Keith slips inside to grab his jacket, his keys, and two helmets— his own and his mom’s, borrowing it— his dad leans in and whispers.

“Or, y’know, just send a text and let us know if—” He hems and haws for a moment. “If you’re gonna… be busy… so we know not to expect—”
“Dad,” Keith pleads as he tucks his wallet into the pocket of his leather jacket, dragging out the word. He shuffles in place, flustered at the mere thought of winding up -busy- with Shiro, and hisses, “I’ll let you know. Okay?”
“Okay, okay,” his dad says, drawing him in for a hug and rocking him side to side, reluctant to let go. “Just be careful. Text us if you need anything, or if anything happens. We won’t go to bed til we hear something from you either way, okay?”
His mom appears and crowds into the doorway as well, still toweling her wet hair. With a little smile, she leans down and kisses Keith squarely on the forehead. “I trust you’ll make good decisions,” she tells him, a hand cupping along his cheek.
They both smile as Shiro nervously approaches and thanks them for the hospitality, murmuring goodnights as they shake hands.

“Hold on tight, Shiro,” is Krolia’s last piece of advice as the door is closing shut. “Keith thinks he’s sneaky, but I’ve seen how he rides that thing...”
“You some kind of speed demon?” Shiro teasingly questions as they tread across the sparse grasses to the old oak in the front yard, where Keith left his bike.

Keith only gives him a look, an eyebrow arched, and lifts a shoulder. “Guess you’re about to find out, huh?”
Shiro grins ear-to-ear.

“Thanks for offering to take me,” he tells Keith while circling around the cherry red Suzuki. “I’m grateful to your mom for all the rides, but sitting in the back of a cop car makes me feel like a teenager again. Not in a good way, either.”
“You end up in the back of cop cars often, Shiro?”

“Just twice,” Shiro sighs. “Dumb shit, don’t ask.” But only a moment later, he adds, “Got caught trying to buy beer with a fake ID when I was 16. Then I got brought in after I punched a guy who was harassing a friend of mine.”
Keith respects that. “Doesn’t sound dumb. Well, maybe the beer,” he quickly amends.

“It was,” Shiro acknowledges, laughing to himself. “You should’ve seen the ID I was trying to use. Not even remotely a match for me, especially when I was a noodly beanstalk of a teenager.”
Before tugging on his helmet, Keith looks Shiro up and down— slowly, lingering on the ample fill of his chest and broad shoulders he’d kill to sling his arms over. “Hard to imagine you were ever a noodle.”
Shiro merely hums, tongue prodding along the inside of one cheek, looking none too perturbed about Keith checking him out. He fits on his helmet, too, and flips up the dark tinted visor. His eyes crinkle at the corners, giving away his smile.
Keith slips astride the bike and plants his feet on either side while Shiro takes a seat behind him. His bike’s smaller than Shiro’s Hayabusa, and two people is a lean fit, but… Keith’s not exactly complaining.
He flexes his hands around the handlebar grips as Shiro’s hips settle against him, followed by the brush of warm, denim-clad thighs. But it’s nothing compared to the feel of strong arms around him and a broad chest pressed flush against his back, warm through his leather jacket.
With Shiro tucked close, Keith takes off down the darkened road toward town.

Shiro’s a natural passenger— no surprise there. Keith’s never ridden doubled up like this, but he can feel Shiro’s trust as he relaxes around him on straightaways and leans expertly into every turn.
A thrill courses through Keith at the feel of large hands clutching tight to him as they streak through the darkness, wind pleasantly cool as it whips past. Shiro is solid warmth at his back, nearly folded over him as they both lean low on the small, sleek sport bike.
They’re almost alone on the road at this hour, most of the small town already turned in for the night. For a little while, Keith feels as though he has Shiro all to himself— the world around them dim and quiet, empty, and just the two of them piled close as they navigate it.
Disappointment leadens his whole body as they pull into the empty parking lot of the Super 8, Shiro’s arms already unwinding around him. Shiro points to one of the rooms on the ground floor, not far from the check-in lobby, and Keith parks in the space squarely in front of it.
The hands lingering on either side of his hips finally pull away, and Keith misses them with an instantaneous ache. He wants to feel Shiro’s palms gliding up his waist, under his jacket, skin and metal dragging on his bare flesh.
He wants to be yanked close, hips kept flush with Shiro’s, held in ways he never has been before. He wants— no, -needs- to have Shiro’s face buried in his hair, his breath in his ear, his silky voice purring over his skin.
But the sliver of space between them grows as Shiro straightens up and leans back, and Keith takes a deep breath to cool the simmering in his veins. They only just met today, and even if he’s grown familiar with Shiro over whole seasons, Shiro’s known him for all of 10 hours.
Keith cuts the engine and tugs off his helmet, shaking out his hair. He twists at the waist, looking over his shoulder, and finds Shiro smiling at him. Fluffy tufts of short-cropped white and black jut at awkward angles, cutely ruffled by the removal of his own helmet.
“You race?” Shiro asks, still breathless as he dismounts, beautiful even under the flickering neon of the motel sign.

“When there are people around for me to race, yeah,” Keith says. And when his mom isn’t out on patrol, ready to bust him in the act.
“You ride like it,” Shiro comments, and that same flicker of approval is there in his eyes, the quality of his fine voice. “Smooth. Natural. I’d love to see you really open it up, tear down a quarter mile or so.”
“Maybe next time,” Keith smirks as he swings a long leg over his bike and drops the kickstand, only realizing afterward that there may not be another moment like this for him and Shiro. Not after he leaves, venturing far and away from the small range of Keith’s world.
“Next time,” Shiro agrees, though, lingering by the Suzuki with the helmet in his hands. He smiles sheepishly when it finally occurs to him to hand it back. “Thanks for the ride. Wish I had mine here so I could take you for a spin, too.”
Keith warms at the thought of wrapping himself around Shiro and feeling the rumble of a big Hayabusa under him. “Mm. I’d like that. Wouldn’t mind racing you, either.”
“As long as you don’t mind losing.” Shiro grins, taking slow, swaggering steps toward the door of his motel room.

“I don’t mind losing,” Keith replies, all innocence as he drifts after Shiro, his hands jammed deep into his jacket’s pockets, “so long as you’re the one doing it.”
For the first time, Keith hears Shiro snort while he laughs. It’s ugly and adorable, his perfect smile quickly covered by a metal hand, and Keith knows he’s got it bad when that sound alone has his heart doing backflips.
“It’s late,” Shiro sighs as he leans against the frame of the locked door. And he does look tired, despite his smile. Keith imagines he must’ve set out on the road early this morning, hoping to make good time to his rental on the beach.
“Yeah,” Keith says, toying with the keys sitting in his pocket, not yet ready to say goodbye. “I had a good time with you today, Shiro. Kinda… the best time, actually. I feel like I could keep talking to you for hours.”
And hours and hours. Which is saying a lot, considering Keith’s most defining attribute on years’ worth of report cards— next to his easy frustration and short temper— had been his reservations when it came to casual conversation.
But talking to Shiro doesn’t feel tricky or tiresome. His questions never feel like traps laid to make him stumble; there’s no silent, pitying judgment when he does. At worst, it’s awkward— and only because Keith likes him so damn much. At best, it’s life-changing.
“But I bet you get that a lot,” Keith says, drawing his shoulders up tight, nervous. Shiro is charming, captivating, and just as encouragingly sweet as in the videos that hundreds of thousands of other people appreciate, too.

And Keith is... himself.
“Not really, no,” Shiro says, his eyebrows lifting even as his voice drops low, flat. He smiles after, but it’s thin and a little uncertain. “I don’t really meet many people, I mean. Outside of new patients at work. I kind of stopped trying to, I guess, after…”
The ‘after’ is obvious, even without Shiro rolling his metal wrist in a slow, thoughtful circle. He sighs and shakes his head, as if casting out that thought, and then shortens the gap between himself and Keith by a step.
“But I’m glad I met you, Keith. Really glad,” he adds, swallowing hard enough that Keith can see the flex all the way down the pretty column of his throat. “Never thought I’d feel lucky for having my car break down on the side of the road, but here I am.”
“Same. It’s too bad about your car,” Keith says, sympathetic for the trouble and the not-insignificant cost of it, “but I’d be lying if I said I that seeing you in person wasn’t a little bit of a dream come true.”
A dream he’d never given any length of serious thought, sure, but a formless desire to see and hear and feel Shiro up close, a yearning for touch usually felt as he drifted off while Shiro’s channel played for him.

But Keith wonders if it was a little much to admit...
Shiro stares at him like there’s something he’ll miss if he blinks, absently flipping the card key to the room between his fingers while he worries his bottom lip. Nighttime deepens the color of his eyes to a near-black, almost as dark as the heavy cast of lashes that frame them.
They’re close enough to touch, if either of them were to reach out. And Keith -wants- to, hungrier and needier than he’s ever felt for anyone. The ache for Shiro has him swaying forward on the balls of his feet, wishing he could throw himself headlong into those perfect pecs
and squeeze appreciatively at thighs twice as thick as his own. He wants to hold Shiro to him, their fronts meshed tight together, and let his touch rove up the broad expanse of his back.
He’s spent scattered hours imagining Shiro’s hands on him, but now Keith wonders more about feeling Shiro’s flexing muscle under his palms, of tracing the feel of Shiro through his jeans, of sucking telltale marks into his skin.
Keith keeps his hands jammed firmly into his jacket pockets, where they can’t get him into trouble. But he can’t hide the red on his cheeks, nor the heaviness of his breathing, all keyed up like he’s squaring off for a brawl.
“I— I don’t mean to keep you,” Shiro says after a length of silence that weighs heavy on the both of them. There’s a tightness around his jaw as he says, “I know you have to work tomorrow, and your boss seems a little…”
“Uptight? Yeah, that’s kind of his thing.” Keith shrugs off the needling twinge of disappointment as he feels the conversation sliding to a close. It’s for the best, he reasons. It’s not like he could act on his roiling thoughts about Shiro, anyway— not tonight, not like this.
Maybe not ever.

It’s not like he’d even know what to do once he got his hands on Shiro, honestly. He’d freeze, most likely. And embarrass himself, no doubt. Keith’s sexual experience amounts to a couple of fumbling handjobs during his semester-and-a-half of college, after all—
and surely Shiro deserves a little more finesse than Keith enthusiastically throwing himself at him, guided by nothing but intense adoration and lust and the burning desire to earn Shiro’s well-pleased praise.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Shiro asks, sounding hopeful, his metal hand rubbing up and down his left forearm— trying to quell goosebumps, it looks like, even though the night is only barely cool, summer-mild.
“Later today, technically,” Keith corrects, voice fraying around the edges. He smiles as Shiro whips out his phone to check the hour, swearing low at the time that’s slipped by. “Text me if you need anything, Shiro. I mean it. And I’ll let you know as soon as the work’s done.”
“Thanks, Keith. For everything.”

Keith glaces down and finds an aluminum-and-polymer hand reached out to him.
He’s admired Shiro’s prosthetic for a long time, if only with a mechanic’s eye and an appreciation for how effortlessly Shiro uses it. But under the moonlight and neon yellow glow of the motel sign, Keith decides it’s beautiful, too.
A part of Shiro, like all the rest, and just as fine. His hand fits small within Shiro’s, clasped within reinforced fingers both inhumanly strong and surprisingly delicate. Textured fingerpads brush over his knuckles, soothing even as the sensation raises hair along Keith’s nape.
It’s just a handshake, like the one from this morning. Or it was supposed to be, Keith thinks.

But it went wrong somewhere along the way, neither of them letting go at the right time. Instead, they stand in front of Shiro’s motel room, staring at each other and holding hands.
Keith tries to be cool about it, but mostly he’s grateful that Shiro can’t feel the clammy sweat dampening his palm through the aluminum plating of his prosthetic. How many nights has he imagined this very hand wrapped around him, gentle and unrelenting?
And now Keith can feel every delicate seam and joint, all the unseen strength in manufactured tendons.

“Goodnight. Keith,” Shiro says at last, more a whisper than anything else. He gives Keith’s hand a tender squeeze before finally uncurling his fingers and pulling away.
A little spark runs up Keith’s spine at the sensation of Shiro’s fingers slipping over his, agonizingly slow, holding the thread of contact until the very last moment possible. And every inch of him protests afterward as he takes a blind step backward, toward his bike.
“Night, Shiro.”

Shiro lingers in the frame of the open door to his darkened motel room, watching while Keith mounts his bike and slips the sleek helmet over his head. He gives a short wave, two metal fingers held up straight; Keith answers it with a playful little salute.
And then Keith’s gone with a peal of tire on pavement and the revv of the engine, his bike's headlight cutting a path through the dark as he races against the sinking feeling in his gut and the clocking ticking steadily down to the moment Shiro leaves him behind.
When his alarm blares at six the next morning, Keith feels those extra hours of lost sleep like weights tethering him to the mattress, his body begging for another twenty or thirty minutes of slumber.

He can’t regret what he did to cause himself such a late night, though.
Not taking Shiro home. Not getting to ride with him, to talk to him, to milk another few memories out of his remaining time here. But part of Keith— a small part, though increasingly difficult to ignore— pines for what he -didn’t- do.
Rationally, he’s grateful that he didn’t listen to his gut and fall face-first into Shiro’s chest, tempting as the thought is. Less rationally— and Keith chalks this up to his thirsty hindbrain— he finds himself wistfully disappointed for letting the golden opportunity slip by.
He rolls over to check his phone and finds multiple texts from Shiro. They’re timestamped maybe an hour after Keith left the motel, raced home, and flopped facedown into his bed with a protracted groan, consumed by horny agony.
‘Sorry if I made things weird. My brain’s been shorting out today— I swear, I’m usually more functional and less… that.’ Keith can relate.

Then, ‘I hope you sleep well!’ with a string of smiley emoji trailing after it. Very Shiro.
And last is a blurry picture of a large scorpion lurking in the corner of Shiro’s motel bathroom, captioned with ‘Found another guest staying in my room???’

Poor Shiro.

Keith smiles soft, dragging the pad of his thumb across his bottom lip as he stares at the screen.
‘slept like a baby zzz,’ he types back one-handed as he brushes his teeth and tugs on clean clothes. ‘and no worries. i’ve been the same lately. also, i probably should’ve warned you about the scorpions around here... keep an eye on the ceiling too 🦂👀’
His parents don’t ask much at breakfast, but they’ve always been experts at reading his moods. Keith hugs them both goodbye before he rides off to work, determination steeling his hands on the grips and giving him sharp purpose as he strides into the auto garage.
Keith knocks out two other jobs while he waits on the new gasket head, but his impatience and agitation build by the minute, his temper simmering. It only breaks when the delivery truck rolls up outside— early, too, in a stroke of luck that has Keith almost bouncing—
as he bolts back into the garage with a package tucked under his arm.

Everything else falls by the wayside, nothing more important than taking good care of Shiro’s car. And Shiro, by extension, giving him back the reins to the vacation he’d worked so hard for.
And speaking of giving things to Shiro… Keith decides to do one thing differently today. As he fishes his phone out of his pocket, he finds a reply from Shiro waiting on the screen.

‘😥 They can scale the walls?? The ceiling!? 😱’

‘yup. working on your car now, btw’
With care, Keith props his phone up on a toolbox, aims it toward the Volvo, and taps the record button. He’s self-conscious as he leans over the engine, afraid of embarrassing himself; Shiro’s visible nerves in his early videos come to mind, and Keith admires him even more.
As he unboxes the new part and starts removing the broken one, Keith imagines he’s talking to Shiro as he walks through every step. He keeps his voice sunken low and whispery, though it’s less for the ASMR appeal and more to try and avoid the rest of the garage overhearing him.
Not that it works...

Eventually, Regris and Antok drift over, curious. Their hovering only makes Keith more flustered, and he has to pause the recording once they finally start poking in close and asking questions.
He steadfastly refuses to explain anything— too much to unravel and explain, from the ASMR itself to its relevance to Shiro to why Keith would be creating it for him— despite their pestering. While his uncle grumbles and stalks off to find Kolivan, Regris brightly offers to help.
Keith waffles for a minute before handing his phone over to Regris, who records close-up on his hands as he digs through the Volvo’s engine, his slender fingers striped with dark grease.

It feels good, working on Shiro’s car. Satisfying, even.
If Keith had the time, he’d pore over every gear and bolt to make sure it was in peak condition.

But as it is, he focuses on the job at hand. He even forgets Regris and the camera for a while, falling into thoughtful silence while his hands move with practiced purpose.
He’s only jarred back to the present when Regris whispers that the phone’s nearly dead and darts away to plug it in somewhere. Keith works alone for the last hour, trying not to think of the minutes slipping by, the sun sinking lower, and Shiro stuck in the motel another night.
And to his own surprise— and Kolivan’s as well— he manages to finish the repairs just a few minutes before closing time, after everyone else has cleaned up their stations and left but before Kolivan’s started locking up.
“Maybe I should keep a camera on you every day,” his uncle muses as he checks over Keith’s work, visibly pleased with the results. It shows in the tiniest upturn at the corner of his mouth, which gives way to a musing frown. “What were you recording for?”
“Personal use,” Keith says, throwing aside the rag he’d wiped his hands on and grabbing his phone from the table where Regris had plugged it. He slips it into his pocket and then gently lowers the hood of Shiro’s car, wiping away every fingerprint and smudge on the front end.
Kolivan squints at him, lips pursing slightly through his frown. “I’ll ask your mother if she can stop by the motel and pick him up. If we’re doing this tonight, I’d like it wrapped up ASAP,” he says, brusquely checking the watch Antok gave him five anniversaries ago.
“I have some bills and filing to take care of. Please give Mr. Shirogane a heads up and start finalizing the paperwork,” his uncle says, patting Keith on the shoulder. “You did well today, Keith. Very efficient, despite the spectacle. I appreciate your motivation.”
Keith shoots Shiro a text as he walks to the front lobby, warning him of Krolia’s imminent arrival. Then he lets out a deep sigh, feeling sweaty and greasy and weary from pushing himself hard to make the repairs happen with a tighter turnaround than usual.
And under the sense of accomplishment for having managed it, Shiro as the inspiration guiding his hands, Keith feels a foreboding, impending sense of loss.

It’s ridiculous, he knows. Shiro owes him nothing and Keith has no claim to him or his time.
While he waits in the cool, dimmed lobby, Keith stretches himself across the service counter, forehead resting on the formica. His eyes close and he ignores the little twinge of pain in his lower back, the stickiness of his skin, the dull buzz of his phone.
His life here is good. Complete. Keith has a family that loves and understands him, a job he enjoys, empty stretches of road to speed down, and all the rugged beauty he could ever want to explore.

And he’s never found it lacking, before. Not in any way he could put a name to.
Maybe he’ll see Shiro again on his way back through town, after his vacation’s over. Maybe he’ll go out of his way to stop here. Maybe by then Keith will have the guts to do something more about it, to leave a better impression for Shiro to take home with him.
The bell above the door sounds out as someone enters— Shiro, alone— and Keith hurriedly straightens up and sweeps back his messy hair, fighting the loose strands curling haphazardly around his shoulders. “Hey.”
“Hey,” Shiro greets, holding up a hand. He looks more tired than when Keith last left him, but his clothes are clean and pressed and -tight-, the pale fabric of his v-neck almost stretched sheer over his chest—
And Keith hurriedly glances down for the last forms that Shiro needs to sign before he can hand over the keys, repeatedly straightening the two sheets of paper just to occupy his sweaty hands. “Repairs went quick. Everything’s all taken care of.”
“Except the bill, right?” Shiro says, smiling as he pulls out his wallet and offers Keith a credit card, the plastic held between two sleek prosthetic fingers.

Their fingertips brush as Keith takes it.
“Except for that,” Keith softly laughs as he slides it through. The machine runs slow, piece of shit that it is, and in the long seconds of waiting for the receipt to print, he fidgets. “Oh! I, uh, made a thing for you.”
“A thing?” Shiro asks, leaning forward and bracing his elbows on the counter, smiling with interest.

“You can’t— don’t laugh,” Keith warns, although there’s a warm bubble of emotion somewhere around his heart as he realizes that he trusts Shiro wouldn’t.
Not in any kind of callous amusement, at least, and not for lack of understanding.

“I won’t laugh,” Shiro promises, his expression turning more serious as Keith lays his phone down in front of him. “What are you showing me here?”
“My first foray into ASMR,” Keith says, voice soft and blush bright. “For you.”
As he hits play, Keith belatedly realized he ought to have screened the video first. Obviously, it’s nothing like the polished, professional ones that Shiro and other creators make, and there wasn’t any kind of editing happening while Regris filmed him, and…
Keith buries his face in his hands and peeks through his fingers. The ambient sounds of the garage— clanging, shouting, the occasional whir of power tools— are too loud to be at all relaxing, and his own voice is by turns grating and inaudible.
Keith mumbles an apology and reaches over, skipping ahead to the video where Regris took over in the hopes that the quality is a little better. The camera stays zoomed tight on his forearms and hands, but the picture’s shaky, the mic muffled by Regris’ hands as he shifts.
You can hear his voice better— for whatever that’s worth, as Keith still can’t figure out what Shiro sees in it— but the light is dim under the hood and the clanking sounds of auto repair are less than soothing.
“I imagined it’d be better,” Keith says, reaching over to stop the video before Shiro has to see any more. Recording it had been impulsive, and showing it to Shiro even more so.
“No, no, no,” Shiro quickly objects, waving Keith’s hand aside. He keeps watching, mouth curved up at the corners. “I love it! This is great, Keith. I can’t believe you made this— for me,” he repeats under his breath, a choked little sound escaping after.
“Well, yeah.” Keith shrugs and slips his fingers into the dense tangle of hair at his nape, scratching nervously. It’s still damp from the long day in the sweltering garage, as are dark patches of his shirt, all around his collar and down his back.
This close, the both of them leaned in, Shiro can’t miss the sorry state he’s in. Keith stands acutely aware of the sweat still drying on his skin, the smell of engine and oil heavy on his clothes, the traces of grime inadvertently transferred from his knuckles to his cheeks.
“I, uh… didn’t have a chance to shower,” Keith murmurs by way of explanation, tone apologetic. It chafes that this is how Shiro will say goodbye to him— messy, sweaty, looking like he just blew into town after a daylong ride through the arid wilderness.
Grey eyes travel him, looking as far down as the counter between them will allow. He swallows. “Of course not. You must’ve been working nonstop all the way up til closing,” Shiro murmurs, a hint dry as he signs the receipt and forms that Keith lays in front of him.
“That eager to get me out of town, huh?” Shiro asks as he slides the slip of paper back. There’s a teasing lilt to his voice, almost joking, but the look in his eye isn’t amused— it’s quietly searching, the tiniest bit wary despite his smile.
“No. No, the opposite, Shiro. The last thing I want is to go back— to feel— you have a vacation to get to, don’t you?” He doesn’t mean it to come out sounding bitter, not even a little. He’s happy for Shiro. Wants to -make- him happy, and this is the best way he can think how.
He just wishes he didn’t have to say goodbye to make it happen.

Keith starts filing everything away, closing up binders and straightening up the counter just the way his uncle likes, eager to keep his hands moving so the faint tremble in them doesn’t show.
“Tidepools. The naval history museum. Dawn meditation, lunch on the beach, sunsets on the water,” Keith recites from the itinerary Shiro had recounted the night before, starry-eyed. He said he’d planned the trip six months ago, dying for some time off to unwind and recharge.
How could Keith do anything but help him get it? How could he ever stand in the way of the happiness Shiro deserves? It’s unthinkable, much as he might inwardly ache to keep him here.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m excited about it,” Shiro says, tapping the edge of his credit card against the counter once Keith hands it back, preoccupied even as he looks at Keith straight-on. “I just… I guess I’m not ready to leave so soon.”
Keith slides the keys to Shiro’s Volvo across the counter. “What, you’re gonna stay another night at the scorpion inn?” he asks, incredulous.

Shiro has a luxurious cabana on the beach waiting for him, already booked and paid for, and a functioning vehicle to get him there, too.
Keith can hardly believe he’s still wasting time standing in the lobby of a car shop in a tiny speck of a town in the middle of inhospitable desert.

... But he is. With a metal finger looped through the keychain in his hand, nervously toying with it. “I mean… I could. I would.”
The heavy thumping in Keith’s chest threatens to drown out everything else. He blinks against the first touch of wetness along his lashes, frustration and hope and want bubbling up inside him too quick to be squashed. “Wh-why?”
“Why else, Keith?” Shiro asks, his shoulders drooping, expression turning a fond kind of hopeless as he sighs. His hands settle on the counter, curling in on themselves uncertainly. “Not for Vrepit Sal’s ‘adequate and affordable’ lunch menu or the gas station food—
— or the shitty bed in my motel room, complete with scorpion roommates. Definitely not for the bustling nightlife,” he says, tone slipping sarcastic. “And not for your parents’ hospitality, either, although they are legitimately wonderful people.”
Shiro curls his bottom lip in between his teeth, pinching it lightly as his gaze cuts to and from Keith, like he’s skittish of looking at him too long. “It’s -you-, Keith. I just want to spend a little more time with you. If you’re okay with my hanging around, I mean.”
“I am. Of course I am, Shiro, but… you can’t,” Keith protests, his voice stronger than he himself feels. He’s light on his feet, nearly dizzy with excitement at Shiro’s words. “That’s— you have so much waiting for you. I don’t want you to blow it off on my account.”
“The beach’ll always be there,” Shiro shrugs, unbothered. “But this… something about you is special, Keith. And I don’t want to rush you anything, but—”

“You won’t,” Keith interrupts, straining to hold himself back. “You aren’t.”
He’s riding high off the thrill that Shiro— the Shiro he’s been listening to and dreaming of for so long— likes him too, enough to toss aside all his finely laid plans and stay. And even as what few threads of patience Keith still has left urge him to slow himself, to wait—
to remember that he and Shiro have known each other in the flesh for only a day, words spill out of him.

“I’ve already been wanting you for so long, Shiro,” he confesses, rising up on his tiptoes, itching to reach across the counter and grab him and not let go.
“Since before I met you, even, and having you here, like this?” He swallows and steels himself, heartened that Shiro hasn’t yet drawn away. “It’s so good, Shiro. So perfect. But I feel like I might combust if I don’t— if we don’t—“
Keith stumbles, cheeks hot as his tongue trips over what he’d like to ask of Shiro. Anything and everything, really. He meets Shiro’s gaze— that soft grey gone hard and heated— and tries again. “If you’d asked me last night, I’d have jumped right into your arms. I’d have stayed.”
Keith licks his lips, nervous even as a sparking excitement builds in his chest, propelling him forward the same way open road beckons him to let loose. “And if you asked me right now, Shiro, I’d still do it in a heartbeat.”
For a moment, Shiro just stares— his dark eyes opened wide, lips parted just a hair’s breadth, the soft heaving of his chest an enjoyable distraction. And then he looks down and considers the four-foot counter separating them, his broad hands splayed out over the aged formica.
When Shiro glances back up at him, it’s with a hazy, hungry look that sends a delighted shiver coursing down Keith’s spine. The next words rumble out of him, the deepest and huskiest Keith’s ever heard his voice. “C’mere, then.”
Keith leaps to do as told— literally, zero shame or reservation. Rather than waste precious seconds circling around the counter, he vaults right over it; he settles himself atop it, closer to eye-level with Shiro, and then scoots forward til he’s perched at its edge.
It leaves him sitting squarely in front of Shiro, his bent legs hanging on either side of the other man’s slim hips, close enough for his inner thighs to nudge into him. Close enough to feel Shiro’s warm breath, to smell his nice after-shower scent, to admire his lashes up close.
Shiro’s expression breaks up into another smile, his eyes slipping shut as he laughs, head tilted to one side to bare a pretty stretch of neck that Keith desperately wants to leave reddened and marked.

But he waits, thirsting like a man who’s crossed the desert before a spring.
“You’re just one surprise after another, huh?” Shiro comments, one of his hands settling light on Keith’s knee, testing. He studies Keith’s expression as he inches higher, palming over the stained denim and the taut muscle underneath it.
Keith approves. Greatly. And he does his best to show it, laying a slender hand over Shiro’s and guiding it inward, up along the inner seam of his jeans. He bites down into his lower lip as Shiro eases forward, pressing flush against the counter—
and against Keith, the lean, muscled column of his waist fitted right between the welcoming spread of Keith’s thighs. They tremble around him, more excited than nervous.

Shiro hums, the note a touch graveled, radiating all kinds of pleasure at Keith accepting him so near.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about you, too. Hardly got a minute of sleep last night,” Shiro days, his smile bordering on mischievous as he leans in and to one side. “Not that the lumpy mattress helped, but—” He breathes out close to Keith’s ear. “—it was mostly you.”
“Fuck.” Keith’s fingers curl into Shiro’s shirt, the soft fabric pulling taut as he makes a fist; it exposes a slivered stretch of skin below its hem, interrupted only by a sparse trail of dark hair that disappears under the waistband of his jeans. “Shiro,” he whines, desperate.
It’s overwhelming, having so much of him so close— heavy hands traveling over his hips, lips skimming along his cheekbone, broad shoulders and dark hair filling his frame of vision. Shiro’s voice slips over his goosepimpled skin, honey-smooth, and fills him with an ache as sweet.
Keith squeezes his legs tight around Shiro’s waist, holding him close, rocking his hips against his front and moaning out breathy soft. He slings sinewy arms around Shiro’s neck, over the powerful slope of his shoulders, willing him even closer.
It’s the most natural thing in the world, turning his head to meet Shiro’s mouth with his own, chin lifting as they catch just right. Keith’s eyes flutter shut the moment his dry lips meet soft skin and the buttery sweetness of chapstick flavored like strawberry and lychee.
Keith melts against Shiro, leaning everything into the embrace, trusting in the solid surety of Shiro’s body as he kisses back with a hunger that surprises even himself. But it’s achingly satisfying to indulge it after so long spent imagining and dancing around the possibility,
tasting and feeling Shiro in all the ways he feared he’d never get the chance to.

And as Keith twines himself around Shiro, Shiro clings back just as fierce. His hands rove down Keith’s sides and hook under his thighs, hoisting him a little higher, holding him tighter,
nearly lifting him right off of the countertop. Shiro cradles him close, moaning into Keith’s mouth as slim hands slide up his neck and into his hair, nails dragging light over his scalp.

A full-body shudder rolls though Shiro; Keith feels it everywhere they’re pressed together.
Keith could kiss him like this for hours— the tip of his nose pressed into Shiro’s handsome cheek as he angles to deepen it, his tongue striking deep in Shiro’s faintly minty mouth, a purring hum of contentment resting in the back of his throat.
He could and he would— nevermind that they’re still sitting out in the open of the auto shop’s lobby, everything unfolding too quick to be subtle— if not for the pressing need to catch his breath and give his overstimulated senses a brief respite.
But as Keith breaks the kiss and leans back, he notices a darkly distinct smudge along Shiro’s perfect, chiseled jaw. In mild horror, he glances down at his own hand and finds a thin line of engine grease along his inner pinky, overlooked as he’d wiped his hands clean.
“I— hold on, I got something on you,” Keith says, pulling up the hem of his own shirt to wipe Shiro’s face clean. It’s only afterward that he realizes the sweat-soaked tee he’s been wearing all day is probably no better. “Shit, I’m sorry, that’s really gross—”
“It’s fine,” Shiro consoles, catching him by the wrist and pressing a quick kiss to the side of his hand. He doesn’t seem to mind the peek under Keith’s lifted shirt, though, at a flat belly lined in lean muscle and a dusting of dark hair. “I don’t care, Keith.”
“You don’t care that I’m all grimy and sweaty? That I smell like the inside of an engine?” Keith asks, a reluctant grin taking hold as Shiro emphatically shakes his head and then surges back in for another mouthy kiss, undaunted.
“I think—” Shiro exhales as he pulls back barely an inch, his chest shuddering under Keith’s palm. “—that you look -good- like this. Mussed up from working hard all day,” he clarifies, color blooming along his cheeks, his lashes fanned as he drops his gaze.
“But then you’ve probably never looked bad a day in your life, have you?” Shiro adds, laughing soft as he nuzzles close.

Keith snorts into Shiro’s shoulder. Arguably, he actively looks a disaster -right now-, not that Shiro seems to mind in the slightest.
“You’re one to talk,” Keith mumbles against Shiro, savoring the vanilla-y smell on his clothes and the comfort of having such strong arms looped around him. “Perfect smile, perfect face, perfect voice. And don’t even get me started on your shoulder-to-waist ratio.”
Shiro beams like the shining, cloudless day outside, metal fingertips brushing over his own kiss-swollen lips. “You think my smile’s perfect?”

“Like the rest of you, yeah,” Keith says, leaning forward to catch Shiro in another clinging chain of kisses.
He runs his tongue over fruit-sweet lips and straight teeth and into the comforting heat of Shiro’s mouth. Even better than hearing the sound of Shiro's voice is -feeling- it, through the little gasps and groans he makes as Keith palms down his chest and skims over his navel.
“That means a lot, coming from you,” Shiro breathes out before laying a kiss at the corner of Keith’s mouth, then one along his jaw, and then another lower still as Keith lets his head tip back, his eyes falling shut.

A nose presses into the tender underside of Keith’s throat
as Shiro’s mouth moves against his salt-scented skin, no doubt leaving reddened marks behind. It’s the first time he’s has ever been with someone so thoughtful and enthusiastic, so intentional in how he makes Keith squirm with kisses and slow, kneading touches along his hips.
“From the moment I saw you, it’s been— it’s hard to believe it’s all real… that you’re not some fantasy,” Shiro says, almost bashful again as he lifts his head. “Like maybe I wandered too long out there in the heat and I’ve just been imagining you this whole time.”
His hands cup around Keith’s face, cradling him gentle, dark hair slipping under his fingers, looking on him in wonder.

“Nope, I’m very real,” Keith says, covering Shiro’s hands with his own and pressing the other man’s palms firmer against his cheeks. “See?”
“Mhmm,” Shiro hums behind a close-mouthed smile, stroking up along the heights of Keith’s cheekbone with the pad of his thumb. “I’m awfully glad you are.”

Shiro’s next kiss is tender, almost chaste. His lips are light where they touch against Keith’s temple, hair brushed aside.
But as much as Keith likes it— and the thought of snuggling close to Shiro, giving himself over to simple hair brushing and the peppering of soft kisses— he has more pressing things on his mind.
He clenches his thighs around Shiro’s middle and nudges his hips forward, reminding Shiro exactly how eager he is to make up for last night. “We could head back to your room,” he offers in a low whisper next to Shiro’s ear. “If there are any scorpions, I’ll kill them for you.”
“So romantic,” Shiro coos, grinning as he lifts Keith off the counter without even blinking. His arms lock tight around Keith’s lower back while lean legs hook fast around him, not even straining in the slightest.
A fluttering thrill slips through Keith’s belly at being held so easily in Shiro’s arms, feeding hungrier thoughts like kindling for wildfire: like how easy it would be for Shiro to hoist him against a wall and pin him there, bracing and bending and handling Keith -just right-.
“Hey, so... it’s not the beach,” Keith says as Shiro carries him toward the door to the garage, where the Volvo still waits, “but we could lay in the backyard under the sprinkler, if you want. I’ll even make you a pina colada,” Keith adds, “but I can’t promise it’ll be any good.”
Shiro’s steps slow. He pauses just before the door, gently undoing the legs wrapped around his middle and setting Keith down. A steely hand pressed to the small of Keith’s back keeps him close, though; so close he’s practically stradling one of Shiro’s temptingly thick thighs.
“Actually… I have something to ask you. But it’s a lot.” Shiro hesitates, his breath catching before he continues on, brows turning up in faint apprehension. “You can say no and that’ll be that, Keith. I’m just glad to be with you, wherever it is that we’re together.”
Keith stretches his arms up around Shiro’s shoulders and leans into him, pillowing his chin in the ample curve of Shiro’s chest as he blinks up at him. “Tell me, Shiro.”

Shiro’s expression blanks for a moment, like something behind the vacant grey of his eyes short-circuited.
But with a sudden inhale and a fluttering of dark lashes, he manages to squeak out, “Come with me. Down to the beach. Together. On vacation. Us.”

Caught off guard, Keith straightens up and leans back, gaping. It -is- a lot— on Shiro’s end, that is, to offer up so freely.
Shiro’s metal hand slides against his, palm to palm, prosthetic fingers wiggling between Keith’s as he laces them together. “Please? Consider it?”

It’s Keith’s turn to be dumbfounded. Offering to stay behind for him is one thing; it’s another entirely for Shiro to take him with.
“The rental has three bedrooms,” Shiro blurts out, “and separate bathrooms, so don’t worry about... that. And everything I told you about— restaurants, sunsets, museums— we could go together. Or if there’s anything else you want to do...”
“Anything, huh?” Keith asks, a hand trailing thoughtfully down Shiro’s chest.

“Anything,” Shiro repeats, his eyes bright, still eagerly trying to win Keith over to the idea. “Jetskiing, fishing, volleyball—”
“-You-,” Keith tacks on, making sure his priorities are known. Not that he’d say no to the rest, but... only after.

“Me,” Shiro agrees, the blush growing bolder under his skin. And bolder still as Keith stretches up on tiptoe to playfully lip at his ear. “So... is that a yes?”
“Yes.” Yes, yes, -of course- it’s yes.

Keith smiles against Shiro’s lips, eyes slipping shut as they kiss again, heady with the thought of journeying with Shiro to the coast, of getting to tread down beaches with him, watch the sunset over the waves, kiss on moonlit shores.
But the muted snap of a closing three-ring binder has Keith’s eyes opened wide again, panicked. Kolivan had slipped his mind completely.

“Ah,” he chokes out, Shiro’s next kiss inadvertently landing low on his cheek as Keith abruptly turns his head aside. “My uncle—”
There’s a rustle of sound from down the offshooting hall where Kolivan’s office sits— the blinds that hang over the door swaying as it opens, the soft contact of wood as the door shuts, the click of keys being worked into a lock.
Keith makes quick, meaningful eye contact with Shiro and in an instant they’re two feet apart, desperately smoothing out their rucked up clothing and wiping away the slick shimmer of saliva on their skin.
There’s nothing to be done about the blooming lovebites they both wear, though, and Keith inwardly grimaces as he hears his uncle’s sharp, deliberate footsteps approaching.

“Keith? I brought your father’s pie plate, so don’t forget to— oh.”
Kolivan looks up from the papers in his left hand; his right hand, currently gripping said pie plate, slowly lowers to his side. Amber eyes study the both of them through his half-moon glasses. Finally, his lips purse. “I see.”
“Uncle—”

“Antok told me this would happen,” Kolivan sighs, slapping the stack of papers down onto the counter. He lays the pie plate on top of them afterward, paperweight-like. “And I flat out denied it. Do you have any idea how insufferable my husband is when he’s right?”
Keith… has some idea, after years of working for and alongside his uncles. He winces softly as Kolivan pulls off his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose, the specific target of his irritation not yet clear. Keith’s gaze slips sideways to check on Shiro, who—
Is the reddest Keith’s ever seen him, as stiff as a soldier at attention as Kolivan curls a hand under his chin and stares him down, stone-faced.

“Why don’t you go start the car, Shiro,” Keith says, offering him an escape from the uncomfortable situation. “Get the AC going.”
Shiro hesitates, a hand half-lifted toward Keith, but a sharp clearing of the throat from Kolivan encourages him to take his leave. With a nervous little dip of his head, he shuffles out. His metal hand skims over Keith’s shoulder as he passes, squeezing lightly in sympathy.
“In my own lobby…” Kolivan murmurs as soon as the door shuts behind Shiro, tsking softly. He slips his glasses back on and looks around, as if expecting to see disorder and chaos in the wake of their makeout. “Keith, am I mistaken or did you two just meet yesterday morning?”
“No! Yes,” Keith backtracks, crossing his arms in frustration. “It’s… it’s complicated? He’s— I've seen him online before. Social media type stuff,” he halfway explains, knowing his uncle has little interest in such things, “so I’ve known about him longer than he’s known me.”
Kolivan crosses burly arms and makes a silent little -ah-, but his expression remains stony and nigh unreadable.

“But I know that I like him,” Keith insists, his jaw firmly set. “A lot. And I’d— I wanted to ask for some time off to spend it with him. While I can. A week, maybe."
"Um, starting tomorrow," he adds, looking up at his uncle with the most imploring expression he can muster— the same one he’d always used as a kid, back when his uncle caught him taking apart his HAM radio or playing with his and Antok’s throwing knives. “Please?”
Kolivan sighs as he takes a step closer, his large, weathered hands settling around Keith’s shoulders. “I’ve never seen you so enthusiastic about someone, Keith. I’d almost doubted the day would ever come. And I’m pleased for you, even if…”
A crooked finger nudges the underside of Keith’s chin, turning his head to better see the blooming hickies under his jaw and down his throat. “...your sense of discretion leaves something to be desired.”

Keith's face heats under his uncle’s careful scrutiny.
“...Are you going to tell my mom?”

“I don’t think I need to,” Kolivan mutters, a barely arched brow the only sign of his amusement. “Your state speaks for itself. And I -do- remember what it’s like to be young and enamored, contrary to what you might think,” he adds.
“Why, when your uncle Antok was courting me, he was similarly prone to these, ah… territorial displays—”

“Uncle,” Keith interrupts, pleading. There are a good dozen other places he'd rather be right now, all of them with Shiro and none involving his uncles' love life. “Please.”
Kolivan’s smile is faint, understanding, indulgent— a rare thing to see from him. “Very well. I won’t embarrass you any further. You can take however many days you need— in reason. Just keep me in the loop.”

“R-really?” Keith asks, his triumph taking a backseat to his surprise.
“Keith, I can count on one hand all the times you’ve asked me for time off,” his uncle sighs, resting a hand atop Keith’s head in the same fashion he has since Keith was just a kid toddling after him. “I’m not enthused about the late notice, but you’ve more than earned a break.”
“Thank you!” Keith cries, throwing his arms around his uncle’s middle and squeezing until Kolivan lets out a winded little grunt. A warm palm pets over his hair, smoothing it into some semblance of order, affection in every stroke.
“How you spend your time off is a discussion for you and your parents to have, perhaps…” Kolivan says, delicately. He spares his sister’s son a small smile. “And don’t forget the pie plate. Your father’s been texting me nonstop about a— a—”
“Lemon meringue,” Keith helpfully supplies, carefully cradling the handmade pie plate to his chest as he backs toward the door. He flashes Kolivan a smile that he hopes conveys his gratitude, already making a mental note to find him the best souvenir possible.
Keith chirps out an, “I love you!” to Kolivan as he slips outside, waving goodbye as he scurries to Shiro’s car, brimming with gleeful excitement. He pulls open the passenger door but hesitates before sliding in, eyeing the luxe, immaculately maintained leather interior.
Shiro leans over and pats the passenger seat, welcoming. “You’re letting the cool air out.”

With a crooked grin, Keith ducks his head and darts inside. He wriggles into the seat as he buckles himself in, the pie plate resting in his lap,
feeling special just for getting to ride shotgun in Shiro’s car.

And it’s a -nice- car. As much as Keith loves his bike, he’s looking forward to spending hours by Shiro’s side as they drive, able to listen to his voice to his heart’s content. “Kolivan gave me the okay, so…”
“So?” Shiro swings the pitch up at the end, eyes bright and hopeful.

“So this,” Keith says, gesturing to himself, Shiro and the car around them, “is happening. I just need to let my parents know,” he adds, blowing out a sigh that lifts the lock of hair hanging between his brows.
Keith’s grin slowly grows wider, his mood soaring high like its caught in one of the warm thermals the hawks and vultures ride. The prospect of unfettered, uninterrupted days with Shiro has him almost restless. Just a little bit sly, he asks, “Feel like staying for dinner again?”
Shiro hums as he slowly backs the car out of the garage and into the deepening twilight outside, the first stars speckling the sky above; the Volvo’s engine purrs along smoothly under the blast of the AC, and Keith can’t help but be a little proud. “For you? Absolutely.”
“I can’t say I’m going to love being scrutinized by your parents when they find out I’m about to whisk you away, though,” Shiro tacks on, a touch more nervous this time around— and understandably so.
“Nah. They like you,” Keith assures him. And they -do-, which will hopefully go a long way in convincing his parents that their son skipping town with the nice man they only just met is not only a good idea, but a once in a lifetime chance he ought to hold onto with both hands.
Shiro sends a shy glance sideways as he pulls out onto a near-empty road, quietly thanking Keith for getting his car running again. And for looking after him. For taking a chance with him. -On- him. For ditching work and tossing aside his usual routine, all to run away together.
“I hope I’m worth it,” Shiro laughs, breathy soft, his eyes like sun-warmed slate when he looks over at Keith.

Keith can practically feel the stars in his own eyes as he stares back, gaze lingering even after Shiro’s turned his attention back to the deserted road ahead.
Shiro’s hand rests on the gearshift in between them; Keith lays his own atop it, thumb stroking gently over sleek metal and joints lined in dark, flexible polymers.

“I know you are, Shiro,” he says, holding tighter. “I’m sure of it.”
✨⭐️✨⭐️✨⭐️✨⭐️✨
Thank you for sticking with me and this thread!! 💖 I’m going to try writing this last bit a little differently in the hopes of condensing things. When I eventually unravel these threads to post on Ao3 in fic form, I’ll flesh the ending out a bit more :)
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