“I’m like catnip for spirit-eating monsters, they’re going after my friends, I get my soul knocked off my body at least five times a day, my class thinks I’m a freak, Lance McClain of all people is all up on my case-… and my worst problem is that I have a fake boyfriend.”

Shiro listened, as he always did, and he laughed when Keith eventually said, “Fucking high school.”

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 5
Words: 0

Quincy Archer Hates You

Chapter 4
Shounen Time


Or, I try to write action scenes.

Chapter Notes:

Yay Hollow battles! I’m sorry in advance how do you even write action scenes? HOW?

If you’re familiar with Bleach, you will notice that I tweaked some of the original world-building in terms of how Keith’s and Shiro’s powers work, and I mashed up several events in the manga to fit the story here.

If you’re not familiar with Bleach – all you need to know is that Hollows look like this and they are evil and should be stopped.

When Keith thought that his Monday had gone to shit when a substitute soul made everyone in his Physics class think he was either high or nuts, he was sure that was the worst of his day.

It turned out that he was wrong.

He and Shiro managed to use the memory modifier on his class and his teacher before school let out. That would be a whole class’ worth of headaches the next day, but that was the best choice they’ve got.

They received a Hollow alert just as they were packing up. Shiro hurried to say his goodbyes to Matt and his classmates, and Keith gave a confused Pidge and Hunk a quick excuse before running off.

They left Not-Keith with strict instructions to go straight home. Wait. Slav. Not-Keith said his name was Slav. Shiro didn’t even know substitute souls had names, but Keith said that that was fucked up and demanded that everyone deserved a name, so Not-Keith named himself ‘Slav’.

To be fair, Slav was sorry about the Physics class incident. He said it was his first time out and he got nervous. He was a bit of a coward and some kind of super genius. Now, Slav was intent to help so he could just hide away to safety without the many confusing variables that was other strange humans doing novice physics calculations without considering other possibilities and realities (that was how he actually said it).

They figured Slav shouldn’t be able to make too much trouble on his way home. After all, Pidge, Matt and Hunk were all staying behind for club activities and that usually left Keith (and Shiro lately) to go home alone after classes. Without his friends, no one really approached Keith. If Slav-in-Keith’s-body walked home without any distractions, it should work out fine. He’ll be safe, and Keith’s physical body will be waiting for Keith when he and Shiro got home.

The problem came to a head when Keith and Shiro arrived in an area just a few blocks away from school to find not one, not even two, but three large Hollows.

They were all at least three times Keith’s size, with huge looming masks and strong clawed limbs.

Keith stood his ground against two of the Hollows while Shiro delivered a punch that sent the last one flying several meters away.

“Whoa, did you get an upgrade?” Keith called out as he fended off the first two.

“I asked my contact to give my gigai enhanced physical strength.” Shiro answered, already forming seals in his hand. “ Bakudo #4! Hainawa! ” The same kind of spirit ropes that he had used several times before wrapped around the last Hollow. He stumbled for a bit after casting the spell. “Still a negative on my shinigami powers, though.”

Keith was still fighting the first two. They were surprisingly resilient. Usually Hollows of their size were slow, but these ones were fast and were able to dodge Keith’s swings. He was able to cut one’s limb, but to his horror they only grew back.

Then Shiro’s phone went off, and at the same time, he heard a cry from nearby. Both whirled around to see a Hollow crash against the side of their school building.

Keith cursed while Shiro looked around in alarm. Several black cracks were slowly forming in the sky. It was a matter of time before more Hollows pass through.

“Shiro, what’s happening?!” Keith asked, dodging a swipe from one of the Hollows’ clawed limbs.

Shiro shook his head. “Believe me, I’d tell you if I knew. Are there still people in the school?”

Keith growled as he pushed a Hollow off him. “Pidge, Hunk and Matt are in there!”

Shiro closed his eyes and took a breath, bracing himself.  He didn’t want to leave Keith alone in this. He was fighting two Hollows and would have to finish the other one. But there was another in the school, and innocent people were in there.

There really was no question here. “I’ll try to restrain the Hollow until you catch up.”

Keith nodded. “Go!”

Shiro didn’t need to be told twice. He leapt off the roof and sprinted towards the direction of the school.





“Aim for the mask.” Keith mumbled, remembering Shiro’s lessons. That was the surest way to bring down a Hollow, especially ones that could regenerate.

With that in mind, he switched tactics. He changed his movements to aim for the Hollow masks instead of their bodies this time. The Hollows were still fast, but Keith was determined to finish this as soon as he could. He turned all his attention to the battle and after several swings that only narrowly missed the masks, the monsters started to get defensive. Keith took advantage of their confusion to deliver a finishing blow to the first, and then quickly defeating the other.

He didn’t notice the third and last Hollow breaking free of its restraints until he heard it roar. Keith cursed, whirling around only to be met with claws extended inches away from his face. He stepped back on instinct, but lost his footing just as the Hollow stepped forward and raised another clawed limb.

For a second, Keith found himself frozen, just like that first night with the Hollow that attacked his house. He hated it, how he had a sword in his hand now and yet he couldn’t move, and Shiro wasn’t here to save him and tell him it will all be alright-


He couldn’t go out like this. He was still supposed to save Pidge and Hunk and the rest of the people in the school, he was planning to cook dinner for Thace and Ulaz tonight, and he still owed Shiro- hell, what would Shiro do if he was gone?

No. He was not going down like this. Keith gripped his sword, lifted it to meet the monster’s claws-

A flash of bright blue light streaked across his vision, and before he could make sense of what was happening, the Hollow was dissolving into nothingness.

“You’re welcome!” Lance called out from the next rooftop over. He was utilizing what looked like a bow and arrow made of the same bright blue light from earlier. It was pure, concentrated spiritual energy. This must be what Shiro meant when he said that quincy like Lance can weaponize the spirit particles from their surroundings and use it against Hollows.

Before Keith could say anything, Lance shouted, “Don’t move!”

Keith hadn’t had time to process the instruction when Lance drew another spirit arrow and released it. The arrow sailed past Keith, mere inches from his head, and struck a small Hollow that was sneaking up behind him.

Lance’s aim was impeccable, and the Hollow was gone in one shot.

“It takes me like five seconds from a good angle.”  he had bragged that first night. Keith understood what he meant by that now.

Still. Keith recalled what Shiro told him about this, and he had to stop Lance immediately. He leapt off the roof to land near Lance. “Thanks, you saved my life over there. But you can stop now-”

“Really, mullet?” Lance frowned at him. “You think you can take these guys on your own?”

Keith saw it too, several more Hollows dropping from cracks in the sky. Dammit – he hoped Shiro was at least holding his own at the school. Keith fell into his fighting stance, both hands gripping his sword. “I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”

“Well, I can take them from here.” Lance continued, already taking aim.

“Lance, no-”

But Lance ignored him, and took one breath before firing a shot that found its mark perfectly.

Lance can do this alone, Keith realized. Faster and more efficient than Keith could.

“You still want me to stop?” he challenged.

Another Hollow fell from a crack above them and Keith slashed at it as soon as it landed. The monster was weak and slow, and he was able to slay it with one quick slash. He turned to Lance again, who was already aiming for another Hollow. “Stop!” he said, reaching out to grip the other’s arm. “That’s not how you get rid of Hollows!”

Lance shoved him back. “What do you want me to do? They’re monsters, they’ll attack innocent people!”

“They deserve a second chance, and you’re taking that away!” Keith shot back.

(“Shinigami exist to maintain balance.” Shiro had said, when Keith asked him about the Quincy and how they fight Hollows. “When we defeat Hollows, either through our swords or our spells, we purify them and send them to Soul Society, where a soul spends its existence before it’s time to be reincarnated. That’s something only shinigami powers can do.”)

(“Is it different when a quincy does it?”)

(“Very different. What they do when they defeat Hollows is to completely extinguish them, including the soul inside. You remember, those Hollows were once human souls too, corrupted after death.”)

(“You mean… when a quincy kills a Hollow, the soul gets destroyed?”)

(“Yes, and it will never reach Soul Society. When a quincy kills a Hollow, not only does it upset the balance of souls between Soul Society and the Human World, it also takes away a soul’s chance to be reincarnated.”)

“There’s a human soul inside those monsters you’re killing.” Keith said now, holding his ground, standing in the way of Lance’s arrow. “My job is to purify souls and send them on. All souls. They’re all part of the balance, and I’m not going to let you ruin that.”

Lance wasn’t backing down. “You think I don’t know that? That’s just what your people kept telling us – me and family! Some of my folks believed that you shinigami will come to purify those Hollows so they stood back and waited, and now they’re dead!

“Guess what, Keith, it’s us or those corrupted souls. A while ago, my choice was to save you or spare someone who for all we know was a criminal in life who turned into a monster when they died. I chose you. The other night, I would have chosen Hunk. If I’d been there, I’d have chosen your friend Pidge. Or any living human at all!”

Keith swallowed. He didn’t know what to say to that.

Because he understood where Lance was coming from, he really did. If you can do something, why just stand back?

“You know, I thought you’d understand.” Lance continued, voice softer this time. “After what happened with your mom-”

Keith’s grip on his sword tightened involuntarily. “Stop.”

“What? It was a Hollow, wasn’t it-”

“Just- Stop!” he snapped, glaring dangerously. He had his suspicions, but his mom’s death was a subject he had always avoided, and he was not going to deal with that now. Not today, and not with Lance of all people- there was too much.

Maybe the glare worked, because Lance actually backed off. “Hey, calm down! You’re making this shit worse!”


“I dunno what happened earlier at school, when I felt you lose control. But you’re doing it again now. You’ve got some crazy spiritual pressure, man! And Hollows love that shit, I bet they came for it, so you need to chill. Because right now, you might as well be waving around a signal flare.”

“Oh.” Keith blinked, then tried his best to calm down, because Lance was right. Again. Shiro had told him about this, too.

(“The Hollows are… after me? But I’m not dead.”)

(“A human soul, without a physical body to contain it, is made of spiritual pressure that Hollows are attracted to. This is why they usually attack ghosts. I may have given you my shinigami powers, but you had high spiritual pressure even before then, that’s how you could see spirits – and now, you have a mix of both. Hollows aren’t the brightest creatures out there, so they probably sense you as a human with a huge amount of spiritual pressure, and they go after you.”)

(“So I’m like a walking catnip for Hollows now. How do I get it to stop?”)

(“It’s simple. You learn to control your excess energy to keep it confined inside you.”)

The problem was, Keith didn’t even fully understand this spiritual pressure thing, and from their lessons that weekend, Keith had learned that his senses were pretty terrible. He learned a bit about how to control it so he wasn’t “leaking” like Lance had told them, but it required concentration. Concentration he didn’t know how to maintain all day. Concentration he completely lost just earlier.

Lance raised an eyebrow. “Oh? That’s all you have to say for yourself?”

Keith sighed. “I had a bit of a panic attack earlier.”

“Well, your panic attacks bring all the creepy spirit monsters to the yard. You’re a disaster, man.” Lance shook his head, then raised his arms to take another shot. “One of ‘em’s behind you, so either you get out of the way or I watch you get eaten.”

Keith fell into a fighting stance as well, looking past his companion. “You got one on your back, too, McClain.”

Lance groaned. “Dammit.”





Shiro had seen his fair share of strange things, but the scene he stumbled into when he arrived at the school had got to be at one of the top spots in his list.

There was a very, very large Hollow in the school yard.

Hunk was fighting it.

Well. Not really. Hunk was running around trying to fight it, while looking very confused.

“Okay, okay ten o’clock!” came from Pidge, who was kneeling on the ground several meters away, arms protectively around an unconscious Matt. “No- Yes- Just punch! Forward, yeah!”

Hunk followed the instruction and yelped when his strike collided with his target. “Did- Did I get it? It felt like I got it! I got something, I think!”

Shiro was very confused. That punch had to be really strong to send the Hollow sprawling away that far. But Hunk couldn’t see the monster? And Pidge knew where Hunk should punch so… she could see it?

What on Earth is happening?

“Shiro!” Pidge shouted. “Shiro, run!”

Shiro snapped out of it in time to see the Hollow charging towards him instead.

“Wait, what?! It’s going for him?!” Hunk shrieked. “Shiro, dude, you gotta run!”

Shiro instinctively fell into stance and met the Hollow with a swift kick. It went down, but quickly fought back and Shiro leapt backwards to avoid a clawed swipe.

“What did- You see it?” Hunk asked as he ran to stand beside Shiro, who stuck a hand out to keep Hunk behind him.

“I need you to tell me what happened.” Shiro said, watching the Hollow slowly struggle to stand up. He should restrain it, maybe use another spirit rope – but he knew he didn’t have enough spare spiritual energy for a spell. “Is Matt okay?”

“He’s breathing. He got knocked out.” Pidge answered. “What is that thing?”

“You can see it? Clearly?” Shiro asked.

“Now, yeah, I can! It’s right there!”

Shiro didn’t know what was happening, but somehow he felt that it had something to do with the recent Hollow attacks on Pidge’s and Hunk’s houses. It was one of those things that he and Keith discussed.

(“Wait wait wait, you’re telling me – that my spiritual pressure sticks to people I hang out with?”)

(“Yes, your signature may seek out and then linger on people it’s been exposed to for a long time, maybe even trigger their own untapped abilities. It’s a very rare case, but right now it’s got a high possibility.” Shiro explained, frowning. He didn’t like where this was going either, but he had decided that he wouldn’t hold out vital information from Keith anymore. “You’ve known Hunk for years. Pidge even longer. You spend everyday with them, with your spiritual pressure unchecked. That must be what attracted lower level Hollows to seek them out.”)

(Keith stared, at a loss. “Well, that’s fucked up. Great. I have a grand total of two normal friends and now they’re Hollow bait too.”)

“We all went running out when something crashed against the building.” Hunk explained quickly. “Pidge got left behind so Matt and I came back for her, and then she started shouting about something coming for us. It just- blew us away- Matt got knocked out and by chance I happened to hit it and… it worked somehow? Pidge said it was working and I feel like my arm’s like, extra strong or something? Dude, this is crazy, do you know what’s happening?”

“Yes.” Shiro answered without hesitation. “I don’t know how Pidge can suddenly see the… monster, and why you have some sort of armor in your arm-”

“I have what in my-? OH SHIT. OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS.” Hunk cried. His right arm was wrapped in some kind of armor, yellow lined with black and glowing faintly, and it didn’t feel like he was wearing it, but more like it grew – materialized – right on his arm. “SHIRO. DUDE. YOU’RE SEEING THIS?”

“Calm down.” Shiro said, laying a hand on the armor. It was solid to the touch, and even through his dulled senses, Shiro felt a unique spiritual signature in it. It was human but powerful, with no traces of shinigami powers or Hollowification. “You’ll be fine-”


“It’s safe. It’s-” he paused, swallowed. This was unfamiliar territory to him, but he had a pretty good theory. “It’s your power.”

“My power? What, like a superpower? I have a superpower arm? Am I- Am I dreaming?”

“Uh. Yes, yes, and no-”

Then Hunk let out another shriek. “NO WAY! OH MAN, I CAN SEE- IT’S BIG! PIDGE YOU DIDN’T SAY IT WAS THIS BIG!”

Shiro gaped, because this time, Hunk was looking directly at the Hollow who was now looming dangerously over them.

“Well, if you can see it, then run!” Pidge shouted.

Hunk grabbed Shiro’s arm. “Shiro, dude, c’mon, we gotta-”

Shiro shook his head. “No, Pidge and Matt are right behind us. It’ll go after them, we need to put some distance. On three, give it your all and punch-”


“Trust me! We’ll do it together!” Shiro said. Hunk squeaked. The Hollow lunged at them. Shiro stepped back and braced himself, drawing an arm back. “One- Two- Three-”

Hunk shouted as he punched, and Shiro’s eyes widened in surprise as the Hollow flew back several meters.

“Dude.” Hunk breathed. “You’re like. Super strong.”

“No.” Shiro patted his arm. “That was you.”


“Come on, we have to get you guys to safety. Now.” Shiro said, running towards Pidge and Matt. He and Hunk slung Matt’s arms over their shoulders and hauled him up together. “Keith should be finishing up on his side. We just have to hold out until he gets here.”

Pidge looked up at him as they started walking away as fast as they could from the Hollow that was now growling dangerously. “Keith’s in on this?”

Shiro nodded. “He’s the one who sent me here. I left him fighting three of these monsters.”

“Three?” came Hunk’s panicked cry. “And he’s alone?!”

“He’s strong.” was all Shiro said. They were only able to take a few steps before they heard the Hollow roar out behind them again. Shiro transferred Matt’s dead weight to Hunk and pushed the others out of the way before he turned around to catch the Hollow’s strike.

An angry Hollow was a powerful one. He struggled against the monster’s clawed limbs while Pidge and Hunk called out to him worriedly.

“I’ll be fine! You have to hide!” he called out, landing a kick to the Hollow’s torso. The Hollow skid backwards, but it managed to grab hold of Shiro’s leg and send him flying to the side painfully.

Terrified, Hunk and Pidge ran out of reach of the Hollow, but it was fast now that it had zeroed in on them. When it swiped at them, Hunk raised his armored arm to block against the claws, but he failed to hold his ground.

Pidge stumbled when she saw her brother and her friend get thrown into the ground. She froze where she stood.

Then the Hollow raised its arm, sharp deadly claws extended.

Pidge stopped thinking. Faintly, she heard Shiro calling out “Pidge! Don’t-!” but she ignored him as she dashed towards Hunk and Matt, determined, a cry on her lips as she rushed to cover them both with her tiny body, closing her eyes, to shield them however useless that would be-

There was no impact.

“Pidge!” she heard Shiro shouting again. “Pidge, look!”

Pidge opened her eyes with a gasp, and turned her head to see the Hollow, striking repeatedly but never reaching them. Its attacks were bouncing weakly against some sort of… barrier. It was thin and translucent, glowing a light green color and floating right above them.

“What’s happening?” Hunk asked in wonder. “What’s that? Pidge?”

“It’s…” Pidge started, watching as the Hollow attacked over and over to no avail. She shook her head. “It’s some sort of… shield… What-” She raised a shaking hand to touch it, and the barrier seemed to move backwards, pushing the Hollow back with it. She yelped and pressed up against Hunk and Matt. “Who’s doing that? Did- Did I do that?! 

Hunk let out a whoop. “You have superpowers too!”

Pidge looked at him cluelessly. “What?”

And of course Matt chose that exact time to wake up, groaning as he rubbed his head and tried to sit up. “Wasshappening-”

“Matt! You’re okay!” Pidge cried, throwing her arms around her dazed brother.

Matt weakly brought a hand to pat his sister’s back. “Pidge- What- Holy shit, WHAT IS THAT.”

“You can see it now?”

“What, the giant shadow? It’s pretty hard to miss-”

“Shadow? You mean-”

They felt Hunk grab their arms. “Pidge? Pidge, I think we gotta go-”

Pidge looked up to see the shield flickering weakly.

From a distance, they heard Shiro shout out to them. “Watch out!”

The shield disappeared. The Hollow charged towards them with a roar.

Pidge threw her arms out just as Matt pulled her against him protectively.

The Hollow crashed against another shield – glowing brighter and bigger.

“Oh my God, I think I am doing that.” Pidge said shakily. Hunk hurried to help her and Matt up, and the three of them slowly backed up huddled together. Pidge didn’t dare put her hands down, because the shield was following them and protecting them from the Hollow’s frustrated attacks.

Shiro stood dumbfounded. Hunk and Pidge can see the Hollow. Hunk has an inhumanly strong armored arm. Pidge can conjure shields. Matt can see the Hollow too, but only faint shadows.

He seriously didn’t know what was happening.

He was pretty sure he should report this.

Not now, though. They had to get out of this alive first.

Shiro heard more Hollow cries, and he turned to see Hollows flying overhead. He paled as he realized that the monsters were flying over where he had left Keith. He concentrated and faintly noted the presence of more Hollows in the area.

Keith would be busy. Shiro would have to do something about this Hollow himself.

“Shiro!” he heard Hunk call out to him. “Tell us what to do, man!”

“Please!” Pidge added. “Because I literally don’t know how I’m doing this!”

Matt looked at him and gaped. “Wait, Shiro, when did you get there?”

Shiro remained silent as he assessed the situation. A Hollow of this size and power couldn’t be held back with low-level restraints too long, and Shiro didn’t have enough power for high-level ones. They would have to slay it. He didn’t have a sword. His strength, enhanced as it was, wouldn’t be enough to crack the mask of a Hollow as big as this one. Hunk’s arm might do it, but he wasn’t going to risk Hunk getting close to the monster’s sharp claws. The only other option, then- No. It would drain what little power he had left, and his recovery would-

His recovery didn’t matter, not now. They’ve only survived this long because of Hunk’s arm and Pidge’s shield, and they weren’t supposed to even be in this fight. He had to be the one to do something.

Besides, he wouldn’t be able to face Keith if he had let anything happen to their friends.

“Pidge, stop moving!” he ordered. “Hold him in that position!”

The three looked terrified, but they stopped and held their ground. Pidge’s arms were shaking, but her shield still held fast, resisting the monster’s blows. Behind her, Matt gripped her shoulders in support, while Hunk tentatively raised his armored arm, ready to block in case the shield disappeared again.

“Good! Keep him there. I only get one shot at this.” Shiro said, sprinting across the yard to get a good vantage point.

He gathered what remained of his powers and focused, raising his hands in front of him, his fingers forming a seal.

Shiro took a deep breath. He had a clear path to the mask. He just had to make sure his attack would be strong enough to pierce through it.

His hands began to glow.

“Hado #4! Byakurai!”

A white beam of light shot out from his fingers and across the yard, straight to the Hollow’s mask.

The others watched in awe as it pierced through the monster’s head, shattering its mask. As soon as the Hollow disintegrated, Pidge and Matt clung to each other and cheered. Pidge’s shield flickered and faded out. Hunk collapsed into his knees with a relieved sigh. He made a scared noise when the armor on his arm faded slowly. Shiro smiled as he made his way towards them.

“Shiro! Man, what was that?!” Matt asked in amazement as they ran to meet up with Shiro. “You, like, shot that shadow monster thing with some kind of laser beam! From your hand! That was amazing!”

“Thanks, Matt.” Shiro said softly. He swayed on his feet, and his vision started to get hazy. “I couldn’t have done it… without you guys… Are you alright?”

“We’re fine.” Pidge said, but she laid a hand on his arm. “Are you? You look a bit pale.”

“Really pale.” Hunk corrected, peering at him. “Shiro? You with us, buddy?”

Matt decided to take charge. “I think he needs to lay down. Hunk, c’mon. Let’s get him over the bleachers. Pidge, can you get him something to drink?”

Hunk and Matt helped Shiro to lay down in one of the bleachers. Pidge came back shortly with drinks from a nearby vending machine. The four of them settled down in silence after that as they thought about what just happened.

Matt rubbed his neck. It felt sore. Pidge poked at her scraped knees. Hunk pressed his cold drink against a bruise in his arm. Shiro just tried his best to keep breathing evenly and not throw up.

After a few more minutes of silence, Matt spoke. “So.”

Shiro didn’t need further prompting as he said, “I can explain.”





Keith and Lance considered each other for only a second before they both turned around and stood back to back. Just this once, they both decided. They had a better fighting chance this way.

Lance fired an arrow and Keith slashed at the Hollow that lunged towards them.

Two down.

Keith eyed yet another set of monsters leaping and bounding towards the two of them. Then there was a gust of wind, and both of them looked up when they heard a roar from above.

“What the hell, they can fly now too?!” Lance complained. “I’ve never seen one flying before!”

“Well. Same, I guess.” Keith said, frowning. “We gotta finish this quick, there’s another one at school and I don’t know how long Shiro can hold out in there.”

Lance froze. He didn’t know about the Hollow at the school. “Mullet, if Hunk gets hurt because of you and your boyfriend, I swear I’m turning you into a spirit pin cushion-”

“Question: How good are you with moving targets?”

Lance paused. “How- what?”

Keith was eyeing the flying Hollows critically. “You can hit those ones even if they’re flying like that, right?”

“Of course I can!” Lance said with a scoff, then he grinned proudly. “For your information, they call me ‘The Sharpshooter’ .”

That actually had Keith curious. “Really? Who?”

“Well, me and…” Lance coughed, then shook his head. “Whatever! I’m a sharpshooter, okay?”

“Isn’t that for guns, though?”

Lance spluttered. “It works for arrows too! Because, like, you shoot arrows too, right?”

Keith hacked at two Hollows attacking them. He paused for a few seconds before shrugging. “Whatever.” Then he saw Lance aim another arrow towards one of the Hollows in the sky, and rushed to grip his arm again. “Wait! I told you, you can’t do that!”

“I can and I will, I won’t just watch-”

“Oh, like you’ve never stood back and just watched before?” Keith said lowly.

Lance scowled, batting Keith’s hand away. “What?!”

“You’ve been able to see spirits since you were a kid, just like me, and I never saw you try to help them, even once. I get caught talking to some lonely ghost trying to tell them it’s gonna be fine and all the other kids laugh at me like I’m some freak and you were right there just watching .”

To his credit, Keith saw the guilt in Lance’s expression before the quincy steeled his face again and looked away. “That’s because I’m not that desperate to be noticed.”

Keith looked at him disbelievingly. “You think I do that for attention?”

“Well, yeah! You keep putting yourself out there like that, for people – dead people – that you don’t even know, and then you make a scene when others think you’re insane? Are you that naive?”

“I don’t know, maybe! If that’s what you call not letting everyone else’s stupid opinions stop me because what’s more important is helping someone who needs it!”

This time, Lance looked like he had been punched in the gut.

The next Hollow that dared to attack them got a vicious slash from Keith’s sword. And then the one that came after that.

Then Lance said, “I never tried doing what you do because I saw how people treated you for it, and I didn’t want to do that to myself.”

Keith froze abruptly at the admission. He didn’t know what he wanted to hear from Lance when he decided to confront him, he certainly didn’t want an apology or some sort of excuse. And Lance didn’t give an apology or an excuse, he just stated his reason.

Keith wanted to tell him that he had been selfish.

He couldn’t.

They were different people. Lance came from a family that had a different history with their abilities. Keith only knew the bare minimum about them. He couldn’t judge.

Besides, it didn’t matter now. What would it change? Like Shiro said, Keith already had people who cared about him despite what others think, and that- That was enough.

Still, he was so distracted that he wasn’t able to move when Lance took a quick shot at something behind him.

Keith snapped out of it. “Dammit, I told you not to-”

“I didn’t!” Lance shot back hotly.

Keith whirled around to see a Hollow struggling to crawl towards them. It roared, and Keith noticed that one of its limbs was badly injured.

“There, I didn’t kill it. Are you happy now?”

Keith moved quickly to hack at the monster’s mask and he stood still as he watched the Hollow disintegrate.

“Lance.” he called, tone urgent.

“What?” Lance asked, eyeing the other Hollows warily.

“You’re a genius.”

Lance fell silent.

Keith looked up at the flying Hollows again, this time adjusting his grip on his sword.

“Wait, what? Hey. Hey, Keith! Say that again?”


“You said I’m a- No. Nope, nope – I wanna hear it from you. Say it, come on!”

Keith just scrunched up his face in irritation before looking at his companion. “Look, I need you shoot those Hollows down, but whatever you do, don’t shoot them on their masks.”

Lance looked up too. “What? You want me to miss ?”

“No, I just want you to change your target.” Keith said with a confident grin.

Lance stepped back. “Ohmygod ninja mullet you’re smiling. Do you know you’re doing that?”

Keith waved him off. “No masks. Just the wings or the limbs or… their feet things-”

“Don’t boss me around! Who put you in charge?” Lance pouted stubbornly. “And what’s the point if I don’t even hit their masks?”

Keith crossed his arms across his chest and looked unimpressed. “Huh. Maybe ‘The Sharpshooter’ can’t do something that simple.”

It worked, because if Keith knew anything about Lance, it was that it was ridiculously easy to rile the guy up.

People always say he’s the hot-head, but really – Lance was the one with hair-trigger reactions.

Case in point: Lance didn’t even look before he shot an arrow and grazed one of the Hollows’ wings.

“Nice!” Keith grinned again, launching off the roof and meeting the Hollow halfway as it fell.

Lance huffed. “What, like it’s hard?”

“Keep doing that! I’ll cover you!” Keith instructed as he landed again.

Lance only grunted a vague affirmative before starting to shoot down the Hollows in the sky again. As Keith leapt from building to building to finish off the falling Hollows mid-air, Lance let out a short laugh. “Ooooh. I see what’s happening. Not a bad plan, mullet!”

Keith got back to him a few moments later, because more Hollows were converging near Lance again, who was focused on the sky. He hacked at the Hollows around them. There were many, but they were weak, and Lance had slowed down the faster ones by injuring them.

“So what’s your deal, really?” Lance asked, picking his next target as Keith tried to catch his breath. “You’re human, right? How’d you end up doing this gig?”

Keith didn’t think too much about his answer. “A Hollow was gonna attack my house and I tried to fight it.”

Lance snorted, but Keith noted that it sounded more amused than anything else. “Of course you did.”

“I know, it was stupid!” Keith rolled his eyes, then slashed at a Hollow about to attack Lance from behind. “Anyway, Shiro came in, he was the shinigami assigned to this area. And uh, he was surprised that I could see him. Then he told me – like, super politely, because that’s how he is – to run, and not to worry because he’ll take care of the Hollow.”

“I bet you didn’t run.” Lance said, this time sounding like he was holding back a laugh.

“I didn’t run! I mean, they’re fighting right in front of my house!” Keith said, then glared when Lance actually started laughing. “It’s not funny! Hollow went for me, and Shiro took the blow. The guy got impaled. For me.”

Lance stopped abruptly. “Seriously?”

“Seriously. Then… well, we had to do something or we were both gonna die, so.” Keith shrugged, eyes the bunch of Hollows falling from the sky due to Lance’s work, and then leapt off the roof to finish them off.

Lance was looking at him strangely when he came back.

“He gave me his powers.” he continued. “And like you said, I’m a mess with the whole spirit control thing so I ended up taking almost all of his powers, apparently. So while he’s recovering, I’m his substitute.”

“That’s it?” Lance started. “You’re just taking over ‘cause he’s on sick leave?”

“Something like that. He saved my life, man. He didn’t know me, but he did that.” Keith sighed. “And he’s trying real hard to keep me safe even though he’s technically homeless and jobless and powerless, so. I owe him.”

Lance pouted as he shot another Hollow at the sky. “God. Even your love life’s weird. It’s so annoying ‘cause I’m a sucker for this two-different-worlds forbidden love thing.”

Keith squinted at him. “We’re not dating.”

“Uh-huh.” Another shot. When he noticed that Keith hadn’t moved, he stopped. “Wait, you’re serious?”

“I’ve been telling everyone literally everytime they ask!” Keith complained. “I remember telling you just the other day!”

Lance looked dead serious as he said, “I thought you were kidding.”


“Well, the guy looks at you like you hung the moon or something- Oh, hey, last one! Think fast, mullet!”

Keith simply groaned as he watched Lance shoot the last flying Hollow down. As soon as it started falling, he moved to finish the job. The Hollow’s mask shattered after a swift slash, and Keith landed on another roof as he watched the last Hollow fade.

He gave Lance a thumbs up.

Lance stuck out his tongue in reply.

All things considered, that went well.



Chapter Notes:

Keith: *is actually just hopelessly nice*
Lance: *befriends Keith out of spite*

Next: the thrilling conclusion to this mess of events.

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