Shiro has a truck, which qualifies him to meet the rest of Keith’s family.
Romelle tags along because it’s fun.

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 5
Words: 14,125

never gonna run around and desert you

Chapter 2
we’re no strangers to love


The day trip begins. Shiro drives and learns some interesting stuff about Keith (and Romelle).

Chapter Notes:

the truck looks a bit like this, but black. yeah. it’s supposed to be old.

Early Saturday morning, Shiro helps Keith load Red on the back of his jii-ji’s old black convertible pickup truck. Then he helps Romelle climb up on it as well.

“Are you sure you want to stay there? We can all fit on the front, you know.” Shiro asks, watching the girl drop her backpack beside Red before leaning across the bar to peer at the dashboard.

“Nah, I’m good here. I have the best view.” Romelle answers. They had detached the truck’s roof because it’s a sunny day, and because Romelle had insisted that it’s more fun that way. She turns to Shiro. “How old is this truck? It’s got a cassette player!”

Shiro laughs. “Well, it was my grandpa’s so… it’s pretty old, yeah. But I have a wireless speaker if you want-”

“No, no way- Do we have tapes?”

“Uh… yeah, I think there are some on the compartment.”

She lets out a delighted squeal and he lets her clamber across the seats to rummage through old cassette tapes in the glove compartment. Shiro is sure that if Sven had been present, his cousin would be doting over her by now, eagerly asking her about which old songs she liked. Alas, Sven and the rest of the football team are gone for the weekend, and now Shiro is going on a day trip with his boyfriend and said boyfriend’s sister, without said sister’s boyfriend.

To get the family motorbike fixed and also, to meet the extended family.

The extended family who just so happens to be Krolia’s ex-army buddies, who now run their own auto repair shop, and who Keith fondly calls his four dads.

Shiro honest-to-God had thought that he was done with the ever terrifying meet-the-parents experience when he was re-introduced to Krolia as Keith’s boyfriend. Krolia first met him as Sven’s unassuming cousin-slash-designated-driver. When he met her again after he and Keith started dating, she had taken it easier on him than she did on Sven.

Krolia is a mother with the skill sets to back her protectiveness. Shiro is lucky to have a good track record on her books so far.

But of course, it turns out it isn’t over yet because Keith had four other parents stashed in the next town over.

Shiro tries to find his chill and fails.

By the time Keith and Krolia emerge from the house, Romelle has successfully found a tape to load into the player. She clambers back into the back of the truck with the rest of the tapes as Keith settles into the passenger seat.

Krolia walks up beside the driver’s seat and grins at Shiro. “Looking smart today, Shiro. I didn’t know you wore glasses.”

“Thanks, Mrs. K.” Shiro smiles sheepishly. “I lost one of my contacts this morning.”

“Thanks for helping us out with Red. I hope we didn’t ruin any weekend plans?”

“Oh no, not at all.” Shiro shakes his head. “I’m glad to help, really.”

“He thinks he looks like a grandpa with the glasses on.” Keith chimes in. “Mom, can you tell him he doesn’t look like a grandpa? Do your motivation thing?”

Krolia raises one eyebrow and considers Shiro’s self-deprecating smile. Shiro wants to ask what Krolia’s ‘motivation thing’ is, but then without warning, she takes his face in her hands and pulls him down so they’re eye to eye. “None of that now. You don’t look like a grandpa.”

Shiro nods, terrified. “Y-Yes, ma’am.”

“You’re not a grandpa. You’re a handsome silver-haired young man.”

“I’m- I’m a what-?” he squeaks.

She clicks her tongue. “Did I stutter? What are you?”

Shiro swallows. “Uhhhh… a handsome silver-haired young man?”

“Very good.” she says, then furrows her brows. “Again.”

“I’m a handsome silver-haired young man.” Shiro recites.

Krolia squints. “You still look spooked. Are you nervous?”


“Don’t be. You are smart and capable.”

“I am smart and capable.” he repeats.

“Kolivan will try to kill you, possibly. Don’t let him.”

Shiro blinks. “…Um, he will what?”

Krolia sighs, and just pats his cheek in dismissal before releasing him. She shrugs. “Just don’t think too much about it.”

Idly, Shiro thinks that Krolia would make an effective life coach.

He jumps when she lays a firm hand on his shoulder. “I wish I could come, but I’m needed at the school today.” She turns to at Keith. “Kit. Protect him from your uncles. Well. Uncle. I’m pretty sure three out of four of them will be chill.”

Keith salutes. “Yes, ma’am.”

Shiro blinks, again. “Shouldn’t I be the one-?”

“Nope.” the Koganes say at the same time, and Shiro shuts up and just mouths ‘okay’.

Because. Okay. Yeah. He fears for his life now. Maybe he should have made a will before he left the house earlier?

The motivation thing was kinda validating, though.

“Romelle.” Krolia then looks at her daughter, and after a moment she smiles. “Nothing, sweetie. You’re perfect.”

Romelle gasps, hands flying to her chest. “I know, right?”

Shiro resists the urge to laugh when Keith just rolls his eyes and moves to buckle his seatbelt.

Krolia gives the truck and the teens a last once over, then ruffles Shiro’s hair before stepping back. “Right then. Drive safe. Have fun.” She pats the side of the vehicle twice, and they were off.




As soon as they get into emptier roads, Romelle peers forward and says, “Keith. Hey, Keith, press play.”

Keith and Shiro exchange a short look before Keith reaches forward and presses the vintage player’s play button.

Old-school synth-pop beats fills the vehicle, and Romelle lets out a whoop from the back.

“Oh, God.” Keith groans. “Who picked this?”

“Romelle.” says Shiro.

“Shiro.” says Romelle.

Keith rolls his eyes, but doesn’t hide his amused grin when the singing starts.

Clock strikes upon the hour, and the sun begins to fade…

“It’s early morning.” Keith groans. “I’m not awake enough for this.”

Romelle starts singing along, dancing at the back. Meanwhile, Shiro taps his fingers to the beat, now and then mouthing some lyrics. They might as well have picked the song together. Keith resigns to his fate and nods along to the music.

But the song is catchy – very catchy – and there’s no other car on the long road.

By the chorus, both Romelle and Shiro have abandoned subtlety. Keith flinches as they practically shout-


Romelle is probably in an imaginary concert, with the way she was holding her phone like it was a mic.


Shiro is driving one-handed so he can raise his other hand in the air and flail dramatically.

Romelle stops to poke at Keith’s cheek. “Keith! Come on!

Beside him, Shiro reaches out too. He misses the face, but Keith yelps when Shiro’s finger finds his side.

Keith swats at the offending hands, but doesn’t give much of a fight besides that.

He closes his eyes, throws his head back and sings.

Loudly and with feeling.





“Ooooh, I found Toto!”







They eventually run out of embarrassing jukebox hits to play and Romelle decides she’s had enough of rewinding cassette tapes by hand. Keith takes it upon himself to hook up his phone to Shiro’s wireless speaker, playing soft acoustic songs and setting the volume to low.

“I can’t believe I heard you sing ‘Holding Out for a Hero’.” Shiro says. “And that you know the lyrics to the whole song.”

Keith shrugs. “I watched Shrek.”

Shiro considers this. “Huh.”

“And you were singing louder than I was, so you don’t get to judge.”


“Shiro, d’you know that Keith’s a good singer?” Romelle chimes in from the back, sugary sweet.

Shiro looks at her through the rear view mirror. It seems like she’s spent her energy singing and dancing for the meantime. She is sitting cross-legged beside Red again, taking selfies.

“Yes, I think I just saw that in action.” Shiro says.

Romelle laughs. “No, not like that! I mean, like, he’s really really good? Like, ‘he-can-steal-my-auditions-if-he-just-tried’ good?”

“Hey.” Keith frowns at her, then shakes his head at Shiro. “Don’t believe her.”

Shiro always loved when the two shared bits and pieces about themselves and their lives before the move. He simply grins and directs his question to Romelle. “He draws, paints, plays, and he sings?

“He does!” Romelle says. “He was in a band. He sang there.”

“He did?” Shiro asks some more, smiling teasingly at Keith. “Really?”

“I didn’t.” Keith insists. “Well, a bit. I just sang backup. Doesn’t take much to do that, you just have to be able to sing in tune. It’s nothing special. I mostly played guitar. I’m no frontman. That was Regris.”

“Should’ve been you~” Romelle sings. “I mean, he was cool and handsome and he sang well, but you’re better!”

“Shut up. I’m not. Ilun and Vrek know I’m not. We all thought Reg should do the singing, he’s the people person anyway.” Keith says. When he catches Shiro’s look, he blushes, trying to wave him off with a nervous laugh. “What? I’m really not! Shut up!”

“I’m not saying anything.” Shiro defends, but he finds himself enjoying this side of Keith. For once, it’s not Shiro who is blushing and stuttering from smooth compliments. “But I did just hear you nail Whitney Houston’s high note back there, so…”

Keith tries for a pout, and fails because he couldn’t wipe his smile away. “That’s it. You’re teasing me. I’m never singing again.”

“Booooo!” says Romelle from the back. Somehow they both know she’s making a thumbs down sign behind them. “Just admit you’re a diva!”

Shiro leans over and solemnly repeats the sentiment. “Boo. Just admit you’re a diva.”

Keith snorts and shoves him, forcing his eyes back to the road.

After several minutes of peace and just listening to Keith’s acoustic playlist, Shiro speaks up again.

“So, about these… family friends we’re visiting?” he starts, glancing at Keith, whose gaze is now fixed on the passing roadside scenery. “You said they’re like your dads?”

“Yep.” Keith says distractedly. “Mom didn’t really have other close relatives, so she says they’re her family. They’ve been around as long as I can remember. Always came over the house. Not just for short visits, too. When we were kids, they’ll stay for weeks or months at a time. They hardly missed holidays and important stuff. So… yeah. It’s like having additional parents.”

“That sounds nice.” Shiro says, smiling.

“Yeah. They were a big help when dad-…” Keith falters, then stops. He glances at Shiro, and then at Romelle through the rearview, then looks away. “They just… They helped us a lot. After.”

Shiro reaches out to hold Keith’s hand. He knows that Keith’s dad is still a sensitive topic, even now, but he’s grateful that at least Keith had been comfortable enough with him to share about his father, who died in the line of duty.

Shiro understood, sort of. His own parents had passed away a few years back in an accident too. Ever since then, it has only been him and his jii-ji. His grandfather had tried his best, and Shiro loved the old man dearly but nothing ever really filled the hole that his parents left in his life. Shiro had felt lost then, until they left Japan to come live with the Holgerssons. It helped a lot, having more family again.

Shiro rubs his thumb against the back of Keith’s hand, until Keith finally shakes his head as if to banish the intrusive thoughts. “Anyways. Ever since we moved, they’ve been bugging us to come over, but mom’s been busy. So this visit should make them happy, I guess.”

That’s when Romelle smiles and chimes in again. “You’ll love them, Shiro. They’re really really , super cool!”

Shiro spares an amused grin. It’s clear to him that this is a tight-knit family despite the distance. “Cooler than your mom?”

He receives two matching glares, and both siblings say, “No one’s cooler than mom.”

“Of course.” he agrees easily. “Do you think they’ll like me, though?”

The pause lasts several seconds.

Keith chuckles. “Of course they would.”

Shiro’s brows furrow. “You hesitated.”

Romelle grins, leaning forward in between them, chin in her hands, elbows digging on the two front seats. “Are you ready for four shovel talks, Shiro?”

“God, no.” Shiro breathes out. “Never in my life will I be ready for any shovel talk. The ideal number of shovel talks, for me, is always zero. People think I’m tough because I’m tall, but no, I am very very terrified, all of the time.”

“Aw, and you’re wearing your nerd glasses too.” Romelle laughs, poking the side of the aforementioned nerd glasses. “Of all the days?”

“He looks smart, and he is smart.” Keith says. “Ulaz will like him.”

Romelle nods. “Thace, too.”

“Well, Thace likes everyone.” Keith points out.

Romelle snorts. “Right. Not a bad thing, though. That still makes two!”

Shiro sends the siblings a wary glance. “And the other 50%?”

“Let’s see…” Romelle hums, and even Keith looks thoughtful. “I don’t know? Maybe just talk about football. Antok and Kolivan like football, right? Or sports. Whatever.”

“I think so.” Keith says with a shrug. He realizes that Shiro is still holding his hand, so he squeezes it. “Don’t worry too much about it. They’re good people.”

Shiro squeezes back and sighs. “Baby, your mom is good people, and she threatened us with her knives on Romelle’s first date. Not to mention when she gave me the talk…”

Keith tries to think of an effective reply to that, and ends up with a shrug and “Meh.”

“It’s so cute that you call him baby.” Romelle giggles. “Mom doesn’t even call him baby.”

“I told him I don’t wanna be called ‘light of my life, princess of my stars’ like someone we know.” Keith deadpans.

“Hey!” Romelle pouts. “That was in one of those absolutely beautiful poems Sven wrote for me…”

“Melle. He says it out loud . In public .”

“Well, he’s a romantic!” she insists, and Shiro thinks, well, she’s not wrong

“He’s corny.” Keith shrugs. “And super embarrassing.” Shiro agrees with that, too.

“Mom says he’s brave.” and-… Shiro blinks at that. Really?

“Mom also drove him off with the garden hose when he wouldn’t stop singing terribly to your window at like 2 AM.” Well. That, Shiro remembers.

Romelle is scowling now. “Well, I bet our four dads will like my big, strong, gentlemanly, romantic football quarterback boyfriend better than your mathlete, Keith.”

Shiro makes a wounded sound. “Ouch. I’m right here. I can hear you.”

Romelle pats his shoulder dismissively. “No offense, Shiro.”

“How is that not offensive?” Shiro whines.

“I’m trying to fight Keith, not you.”


Keith rolls his eyes. “Actually? I bet our four dads will like my tall, handsome, super smart and responsible valedictorian boyfriend better than your jock, Romelle.”

“Oh, God .” Shiro groans. “Guys, I can still hear you.”

“Be quiet, Shiro. I’m defending your honor here.”


They don’t listen.

Shiro resigns himself for the remaining drive, listening to Keith and Romelle have an intense My-Boyfriend-Is-Better-Than-Yours debate.




Chapter Notes:

shiro: does your mom always do the motivation thing?
keith: yep. i am a fierce warrior. i am strong and independent and i’m definitely not done growing, i’m still getting taller everyday.
romelle: mine’s good too. i’m a survivor. i’m not gonna give up. i’m not gonna stop. i’m gonna work harder-
shiro: ….isn’t that destiny’s child-

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