Pidge takes a scientific approach to the ‘Why Can’t Keith And Shiro Just End This Madness And Smooch’ case.
This one’s a bit more serious than the previous four. Because Katie “Pidge” Holt means business.
Keith had been Pidge’s best friend since middle school. Nobody really expected Keith and Pidge to get along, but they did. Terrifyingly well. No, Keith wasn’t Matt or Hunk, who were usually Pidge’s partners in cri- err, science adventures, but Keith was sensible, trustworthy and honest – all traits that Pidge valued highly.
Keith had been more than Pidge’s best friend – he had also been Pidge’s protector. That role should have gone to Matt, really, but between Matt and Keith, they all knew who can throw a punch and not break his hand. Keith was a fighter, through and through. More than once, he had worn a bloody nose, a black eye and bruises well in the name of defending Pidge and Hunk from bullies twice his size.
That’s why it was so… strange … to see Keith so…
Pidge didn’t want to say it.
But he looked so soft .
Of course, Pidge knew Keith could be soft. He was a sleepy mess during weekend mornings. When he was in a room with people he trusted, he usually found someplace soft and comfortable, curled up into a ball and snuggled the nearest pillow or plushie. It may not be a regular occurrence, but Soft Keith wasn’t unheard of. At least for Pidge.
He was a different kind of soft tonight, though. Keith was curled up on Shiro’s lap on the supposedly single-person couch, sleeping peacefully against the guy’s chest despite the sounds of screeching cars, gunshots and explosions from the movie they were all supposed to be watching.
For his part, Shiro was engrossed with the movie. Attentive to the action, an arm securing Keith in place while he used his free hand to occasionally get popcorn from a bowl set on Keith’s lap.
It was… charming.
Though Pidge had thought to seriously smack Lance and Matt back to their senses when the two set this up, at first.
((Keith and Shiro, appointed to buy drinks and snacks for movie night at the Holts’, arrived tired – with Shiro looking meek while Keith was straight up grumpy.
“For once, I just want to buy something without having to leave my body and fight some big dumb monster on the way to the store, dammit.”
Before Keith could move to succumb to the comfort of the couch, Lance beat him to it, sprawling across both Hunk and Pidge. Matt didn’t miss a beat, taking up all the space on the loveseat.
“Oops,” Lance beamed. “Looks like there’s only that one couch left.”
“You know I can literally throw you, McClain.” Keith growled.
“The law of dibs is absolute, Keith.” Matt chimed in.
Keith rolled his eyes. “How could I call dibs when I wasn’t even here?!”
“Guys-” Hunk started, but he stopped when Keith just grabbed the giant bowl of popcorn from Lance and then grabbed Shiro’s arm, dragging him towards the only space left, the single-person couch.
Lance sat up. “Hey, that’s my popcorn!”
“Dibs.” Keith said, then turned to Shiro and tilted his head to indicate the single seat.
“I can sit on the floor.” Shiro offered.
“I want to cuddle.” Keith said bluntly – loudly. For good measure, he added, “Takashi. My love. Moon of my life.”
Matt choked on his popcorn.
Shiro choked on nothing, but he was a trooper, and always 101% behind his not-boyfriend, so he said, “Okay, baby. My sun and stars.” and actually scooped Keith up in his arms and then sat down.
“Oh, God.” Lance groaned.
Matt gaped. “Did they just-”
Hunk stifled his laugh, while Pidge smirked at the two culprits. “Why do you guys even try?”
Matt watched Keith feed Shiro popcorn. After that, the guy turned to them with narrowed eyes and his patented Displeased Keith Kogane Frown, then gave them the finger before tossing popcorn into his own mouth.
Shiro leaned down and buried his face in Keith’s hair, his shoulders shaking from trying to hold in his laughter.
“Any regrets?” Hunk asked, smiling at Matt and Lance.
Matt cleared his throat. “N-None.”
“What are you waiting for?” Keith demanded. “Play the stupid movie before we get bored and make out right here.”
Lance dove for the remote. ))
Really, Pidge thought. Matt and Lance should know by now that Keith had unexpected levels of petty and Shiro was smitten enough that any attempts to make the two blush would always fail spectacularly. They were that dedicated .
Not even halfway through the movie, Keith dozed off. He must be really tired, to fall asleep on an action movie. All while sitting on another person, too. Was Shiro that comfortable?
Pidge didn’t think the others have noticed. They were busy watching the movie, and she only noticed in the first place because she was the one sitting closest to the two.
Every once in a while, Keith would stir and shift a little. Shiro simply held fast on the popcorn bowl to avoid it from tipping over, while his other hand rubbed Keith’s back. He leaned down a bit and sometimes he looked like he was saying something, but Keith just continued sleeping and simply snuggled closer.
Soft. That was what stuck to Pidge. Keith looked soft- No. Keith was soft, relaxed, all his guard down.
Pidge was very okay with this. Keith deserved nice things. Nice things seemed to come in a complete package called Shiro, and she wasn’t going to complain about that.
As Pidge predicted, after the movie, the others were quick to notice their sleeping friend.
Thankfully, Pidge was ready and equipped with a throw pillow.
“HAH! How could anyone sleep through- Mmmph!”
“Not right now, Lance.” she said. Then she turned to Shiro, who was absently stroking sleeping Keith’s hair. “Just stay there, we’ll get the sleeping bags.”
“You guys actually sleep on sleepovers?” Lance asked as Pidge and Matt went off to get the sleeping bags and comforters and Hunk started cleaning up the snacks, drinks and other stuff lying around.
“Sorry, we value our 8 hours of sleep here, unlike your other friends who just, what, gossip until morning?” Pidge asked when they came back.
“Man, that’s boring.” Lance said, but helped Hunk clear space on the living room floor. He was being considerate, at least, talking quieter than normal. Maybe he felt guilty about harassing a tired-from-fighting-Hollows Keith, after all.
They set up quickly, and pretty soon the living room was a giant nest of sleeping bags, blankets, comforters and pillows. Pidge took the couch, tucked in with a teddy bear. Lance claimed at least four pillows to himself. Beside him, Hunk fell asleep fast, snoring lightly. Shiro managed to stir Keith awake enough to get him to move to the spot beside the couch. He draped a blanket over his sleeping not-boyfriend before getting himself settled.
Matt flicked the lights off, then crawled into a blanket burrito on the loveseat.
Darkness settled in the room. Lance and Matt were softly talking about something Pidge didn’t bother to catch. Sometimes Shiro joined in, keeping his voice as quiet as possible.
Pidge found herself drifting off to their hushed voices, and to Keith’s figure rolling over to tuck himself to Shiro’s side.
Pidge didn’t know when she fell asleep, or how long she had been sleeping, but she woke up to rustling and a whispered conversation. She could ignore those, maybe her friends were just restless – but then she heard the sniff, and the labored breathing.
Groggily, she reached out for her glasses and put them on.
Two others were up. She recognized Shiro, shaking, clinging to Keith, who held him steady and rubbed soothing circles on his back.
Keith was whispering, and Pidge had to strain forward to catch his words. “It’s fine. We’re okay, Shiro.”
“S-Sorry.” came from Shiro, his voice muffled against Keith’s shoulder. “I just- Sorry. Just give me a minute-”
“Take your time.” Keith murmured. Pidge wasn’t sure if it was just the lack of light, but it looked a lot like Keith pressing a kiss on Shiro’s cheek, and in turn Shiro just held him tighter, almost pulling him to his lap again, much like earlier that night.
Pidge didn’t want to intrude, but she didn’t like feeling like an eavesdropper, either. She sat up, catching both their attentions. As softly as she could, she asked, “You guys okay over there?”
“Yeah. Just… bad dream.” Keith said, just as quiet. He wasn’t looking at her, but in the shadows on the wall, looking boneless in Shiro’s arms as he idly rubbed the man’s back.
“Okay.” Pidge watched them for a moment before asking, “You need anything? Tissues? Water, maybe?”
Shiro surfaced from Keith’s shoulder and rubbed a hand to his face as he shook his head. “I- No need-”
“Shiro.” Keith said, tone scolding.
Shiro sighed, then closed his eyes and nodded.
Pidge got up from the couch and headed to the kitchen. When she came back with a glass of water, the two had withdrawn from each other, but they still sat closely, their sides touching. Shiro accepted the glass with a soft thanks. Pidge sat with them. She was used to feeling small, but she felt very tiny and young , pressed up to Shiro’s other side.
When they put the glass away, she watched as Keith leaned his head on Shiro’s bicep and twined their fingers together.
“Nightmares, huh.” she said, after a while. “What do you guys usually do after this?”
Neither of them said anything about her just knowing that it wasn’t the first time this happened, about the assumption that this was one night out of many. They knew her and she knew them well enough for that.
To her surprise, it was Shiro who answered, “Let’s go to the roof.”
That was how Pidge found herself on the roof of her house at 4 AM, face half-hidden under a scarf and the rest of her wrapped up in a blanket. She sat beside Keith and Shiro, who were much in the same state, except of course they just had to share one blanket, because it was the one extra fluffy kind they both like.
“You two do this often?” Pidge asked, after a while of peaceful silence.
What were they really doing, anyway? Stargazing? Watching the distant city lights? Waiting for the sunrise? After all that she had heard about – the dates, the cuddling, the bed-sharing – it wouldn’t surprise her in the least if the two had some sort of sappy romantic routine on top of roofs.
“When we can’t sleep.” Keith answered.
She raised an eyebrow, but her eyes still looked up at the stars, looking for constellations she might know. “We? Meaning together or not at all?”
She expected Keith to groan in annoyance, but he only huffed. Shiro chuckled. “Usually. We’re both… We asked Coran about it. We’re… connected, sort of? I used my powers to boost Keith’s spiritual pressure so it’s kind of…”
“…like being in tune with each other’s frequency.” Keith finished for him. “My senses are improving and Shiro’s always just around, so I’m kinda used to feeling him nearby… So it’s like, when Shiro wakes up and sneaks off to the roof, I can sorta feel him drifting away, brooding- ”
“I don’t brood.” Shiro mumbled.
“-so I end up just waking up too and keeping him company.” Keith finished. “Same goes the other way around, when I’m the one who can’t sleep. It’s both convenient and annoying.”
Pidge let out a breath as she turned to them. “Holy shit, you’re literal soulmates.”
A noncommittal shrug from Keith. A shy smile from Shiro. They looked like one creature, wrapped up in one blue blanket like this – Cookie Monster but without arms and with two human heads. They looked very much at ease.
So Pidge decided to strike.
Pidge was the smartest of their bunch, and she had been watching this whole disaster of a relationship situation since… well… day one, probably. No, not day one, she wasn’t there- but she came and observed as soon as she heard.
Matt and Lance were actual eight year olds who decided that the best way to set the two up and get them to admit to their painfully obvious pining was to literally push them together. Pidge had learned from that. You can’t bully two people into closeness when they were already far too comfortable with each other.
Hunk was more considerate. He didn’t tease, always claimed that they were cute and adorable – like typical Hunk. Pidge learned from that, too. Keith didn’t feel like Hunk was treating them any different, so Keith never attempted to push him away. That was probably how Hunk got those juicy details and cute anecdotes – he was simply being himself.
Then there was Coran, and Pidge figured it out then. Coran treated Keith’s and Shiro’s togetherness like that was just the way things worked in this universe. Which was probably how the two saw things, really. They were together because they just were. They like training and talking and cuddling and going places just because. Pidge learned from that, too.
Which brought her here. It was her turn now. She wouldn’t tease like Lance or Matt. She wouldn’t coo at them like Hunk-
“Okay, uh. Hypothetical question.”
She saw Keith yawn, but he nodded to tell her to shoot.
She’s gonna be like Coran, open and unflinching. She would ask the question while respecting what they’d all been told. Not pushing, just fundamentally curious. ‘For science’, as she always said. Questions for science were straightforward, and Keith appreciated straightforward.
“You two aren’t dating right now, only for show for the sake of the overly-excited uncles. I get that. But how about- What if – and I’m using ‘if’, okay? What if you end up liking each other for real? Will you start real-dating, then?”
She did a little victory dance when the two looked at each other, then at her. She made them think about it, made them consider it. Good. That’s good, now-
“You think we haven’t talked about that while we were starting out?”
She blinked at Keith, and saw him exchange another glance with Shiro before looking away. Shiro cleared his throat. Keith was leaving this one to him. Pidge idly wondered if that soul frequency connection thing included telepathy.
Shiro’s smile was wary when he answered, “It won’t work out, anyhow.”
“Won’t work out how?”
“This is all temporary.” Shiro continued. Pidge saw Keith shift, like he was snuggling closer to Shiro’s side, but she couldn’t really tell with the blanket wrapped around them. “My stay here, Keith doing my job. It’s been extended due to some… circumstances, but… I’m going to recover soon. Keith could get on with his life before all this trouble with Hollows. I’ll go back to doing my job. I don’t know where Soul Society would send me next, really.”
“We really shouldn’t.” Keith said, quiet, looking into the distance.
Shiro nodded, chuckling. “Yeah, we really shouldn’t.”
‘But you want to.’ Pidge wanted to say. Was that the only reason they were holding this off? Because this was temporary? There was a time limit? Was that why they don’t mind doing all the couple stuff, because it will end soon anyway?
“Hypothetically-” she started again. “ If there was no Soul Society thing to worry about. D’you think it’ll work out?”
This time, they took a bit longer. Pidge began to wonder if perhaps she may have overstepped.
Then Keith said, with a light dusting of pink on his face, “Maybe.”
“Shiro?” Pidge looked at Shiro, who was, as always, looking at Keith.
Shiro smiled weakly, his voice almost a whisper. “Why not?”
At those two answers, Pidge had a conclusion to this little experiment of hers.
Shiro looked up, then grinned and nudged Keith. “Hey, I found Leo.”
“Really?” Keith looked up too. “Where?”
“There.” Shiro raised a hand to point at somewhere in the sky. “See that?”
Keith squinted. “What’s that one look like again?”
Shiro laughed. “There. That bright one is Regulus, the heart. It’s part of five stars that form the body… then three for the head…”
Pidge watched Keith complain about constellations looking nothing like their names, while Shiro tried to explain the concept and pointing out others, eyes twinkling brighter than the stars they were looking at.
‘What kind of star-crossed lovers shit did you get yourself into, Keith?’ she wanted to ask, but she didn’t.
So. The fake-dating was a thing, and it wasn’t about what they all thought it was about. Pidge always thought it was a thing because the two were being oblivious pining disasters. It hadn’t occurred to her that it may have been some sort of mutual defense mechanism.
So. Yeah. Keith and Shiro are not dating, Pidge concluded.
But they want to, that much was clear.
That answer, for Pidge, was good enough for now.
Keith: I can’t date Shiro, he’s a shinigami, he’s basically a ghost-
Pidge: That’s so sad Alexa play ‘Unchained Melody’.
ONE MORE CHAPTER TO GO BEFORE S7 DESTROYS MY LIFE FOR BETTER OR WORSE. LET’S GO.