No matter what Pidge said, Keith was not sulking.
He totally wasn't. So what if he was stuck in the pod as Lance infiltrated a weird alien bar while all dolled up and looking pretty? So what if Lance was now in a closed off area where they couldn't keep an eye on him?! SO WHAT if he was alone with their target who could do anything to him?!
SO WHAT IF HE'D TURNED OFF HIS END OF THE COMM SO HE COULDN'T EVEN HEAR THEIR ADVICE?!
Keith wasn't sulking. He was fuming over Lance taking such risks.
There was a difference.
Keith was sure he'd feel the same if it was anyone on the team. He'd be even more worried if it had been Pidge like Coran and Allura had originally suggested. The only exception was maybe Shiro since he'd once seen Shiro benchpress both Lance and Pidge at the same time with his Galra arm.
A giggle that was nothing remotely like Lance's actual laugh broke through the comm and Keith glowered at the screen before him. Pidge has brought up the camera that had last seen Lance, the one on the stairs to the private booths. Pretty much it meant that they were staring at the additional bouncer stationed there.
"I can hear you glaring from here." Pidge deadpanned. The others had backed off as nothing else was really happening, though something told Keith Hunk was right there watching and worrying with him.
"I'm not glaring." Keith grumbled, glaring harder.
"Dude, they're just talking." Hunk pointed out.
"As far as we can tell." Keith crossed his arms, fingering his Marmora blade for the umpteenth time since Lance had left the pod. "We can't see. For all we know, they could be - " He cut himself, not even wanting to imagine what that guy could be doing to Lance.
"After that display earlier, I'm pretty sure we'd be able to tell if something was happening." Pidge countered.
Yes, that had been… somewhat surprising. Keith had thought that Lance was being his normal oblivious self as he hadn't seemed to notice how many people were staring at him and giving him looks. And he'd been getting plenty. At least half the people in the bar, both on and off the dance floor, had been entranced by Lance the moment he'd stepped in. Keith couldn't help but think that even without the bribe that bouncer would have still let Lance in. But Lance hadn't even given it a thought, too caught up in his mission mode which was the only time he was really serious.
For a guy who seemed to want attention, it was shock that he didn't notice when he actually got it.
And it probably would've stayed that way until that creep had slid up to him. Keith had held himself from just bursting in himself to take care of things but then…
Lance had easily taken care of the guy. With a cool, unamused expression on his face, he brought the guy to his mercy with only one hand, never dropping his drink.
Even Keith could admit that that had been a sight to see.
Luckily, it didn't seem to have hindered their operation, as Lance had managed to draw Xylod's name from him as they made their way to his private booth and now they were just chatting away. Xylod was talking about his home planet Digoxtri, and Lance, without actually naming his planet, was comparing it to the deserts of Earth. They seemed to be having a grand old time.
Keith's hand curled around his blade at another giggle as he narrowed his eyes at the screen.
Yes, a real grand old time.
He really hoped that Lance was doing what he was supposed to be doing. Then again, Lance was actually really dependable when it came to missions. He'd had to keep Keith on track plenty of times.
"Yeah, man, it's just distracting small talk. I'm sure everything's fine." Hunk said this, but it sounded like he was trying to reassure himself as much as Keith.
Keith sighed and leaned back in his seat. Hunk was right, but that didn't make his irritation lessen at all. He just really, really hated this mission.
He shut his eyes and let the cadence of Lance's voice slowly make the tension drop from his shoulders. As long as Lance was still talking, things were probably fine.
Pidge and Hunk started their own conversation, obviously bored with the lack of action. Keith found himself paying minimal attention, but ready for the slightest change that could indicate that Lance needed him.
He still wasn't expecting it when Lance's voice rose with his familiar brand of indignation.
He immediately sat up, alert, and could hear the others gather around the comm as well, their questions of what was going on falling on deaf ears.
Keith's brow furrowed.
Were… were Lance and Xylod arguing?
Keith leaned in closer, and he wished he'd been paying more attention to what they'd been saying, because as things grew more heated, it sounded like they were talking about…
And that's when they all heard a telltale click, all other noise on the comms immediately silencing.
At first, Lance had thought Xylod had a private booth because he was frequently entertaining people back there. No one gave Lance a second glance as they walked to Xylod's booth, after all. Then again, the type of people willing to pay for a private booth were also the type to be willing to turn a blind eye as long as the courtesy was returned.
No, it turned out that Xylod was a total lightweight.
Lance had no idea what the guy was drinking but after a few more, Lance could see all the usual signs of drunkenness. Slightly slurred speech, not enough that anyone other than someone right next to him could tell, a dopey grin constantly on his face, and slowed, clumsy movements told Lance that this guy was hitting the juice a bit too hard and fast.
Luckily, Lance could turn that to his advantage. Xylod's satchel has been placed in between the two on the seat, at Lance's request so Xylod could "behave himself better," and a subtle glance inside when he had "accidentally" knocked it over when trying to lean closer had revealed the very tablet that the Blade had told him about.
It was way too easy to attach Pidge's "Bug," or at least that's what Lance was calling it, to the device. It was something that Pidge had been working on with the Olkari to help make data extraction a bit easier if they were trying to be more covert. Apparently, it acted like a super-awesome spy flash drive. When attached to an electronic storage device, as it didn't even need a port it seemed, it would hack into the device and immediately copy all information on the device to its hard drive. It'd give a small buzz when done and then you'd just have to pick it up, put it in Pidge's receiver back home and presto! Lots of information for you to sort through.
Of course, they couldn't use it on ships' computers right now. Those simply had too much information stored on them to be contained on the small quarter sized Bug. Plus, it took too much unnecessary information. They didn't need to know everything.
Pidge was still trying to refine it, hoping to use it to mine data on her family, but it served well enough in general for now. As they just wanted the information Xylod had without raising suspicion, it was perfect for this mission.
Lance slipped it into his hand and stuck it on as he used said hand to balance himself as he leaned in. He just had to distract Xylod for a bit while it did its work.
At least that hadn't been too hard. It was actually interesting hearing about his home planet and comparing it to Earth's deserts was kind of fun.
"So did you hail from these deserts on your planet?" Xylod somehow managed to be fairly steady and somewhat charming even with the amount he'd drunk. "You would be quite the oasis among such harsh conditions."
Lance found himself laughing and blushing despite himself. "No, I went to the desert for… work." Well, to be fair, if he had continued at the Garrison he probably would've been based there when he wasn't flying. "I'm actually from an island on my planet."
"An island?" Xylod frowned, so something might not be translating right. After all, though Digoxtri had pretty much no water above ground, save for some springs in mountainous regions and the occasional oasis, Xylod had already said he'd traveled around.
"You know, a smaller piece of land surrounded on all sides by water." Lance gestured with his hands to indicate an island shape.
"Ah." Understanding lit up Xylod's eyes. He took another sip of his drink and waved at the server in the section to bring him another. "And what type of work could have drawn you from the waters of your home?"
"I'm a pilot." Lance knew that that wouldn't give anything away. When it came to planets capable of interstellar travel, there were plenty of pilots from dozens of planets. Technically, Earth wasn't even on the map when it came to this since they couldn't even leave their own galaxy on their own.
"A pilot?" Something in Xylod's expression changed. Since the beginning of this, he had looked at Lance with interest. But this seemed like something different and Lance didn't like it.
"Yes." Lance replied, not showing any of his inner thoughts on his face as he smiled. "What about you?"
"I'm an engineer." Xylod brushed off his words, surprisingly intent. He didn't even look at his new drink as it was set down next to him. "Is your flying as good as your looks?"
Lance raised an eyebrow. That was an odd question. "Well, I am pretty good." He was a Paladin of Voltron after all.
Xylod nodded his head, and smiled. "You know, my employer's always looking for good pilots."
Since the Galra didn't seem to have anyone working with them unless they were conquered and enslaved or cowed by their power, Lance highly doubted that. But as the Galra hadn't been mentioned yet, he played dumb. "Digoxtri sounds lovely to visit, but I don't think I'd be suited to live there." He laughed lightly.
He reached down and put his hand on top of the Bug. Something was off and Lance wanted to get out of here as soon as possible.
"I wasn't talking about anyone on Digoxtri." Xylod smirked. "I was talking about the Galra empire."
At that moment, the Bug buzzed under Lance's fingers.
And Xylod had given him the perfect excuse to cut out.
"I thought Digoxtri was outside of the Galra's influence." Lance said carefully as he pried the Big off and safely stowed it in his pocket. Jeez, the planet they were currently on wasn't even conquered by the Galra yet.
"Yeah, for now," Xylod flippantly said, taking a deep draw from his drink. "We all will be under their thumb eventually. Why not get on their good side early?"
Lance's fists curled and he narrowed his eyes. "You really think that'll matter in the end?" He couldn't help the disbelief in his voice. "Zarkon and his forces don't care about other people!"
"I don't need them to care as long as they see I have purpose." And when Xylod leaned forward to caress his cheek, that's when Lance knew he was drunk. He didn't seem to notice Lance jerking away from his touch. "I'd hate to see someone as pretty as you get ruined by the Galra."
As flattering as that was, Lance remembered Shiro's expression when he had a flashback, Pidge's blank stare as she toiled through waves and waves of data on the Galra's prisoners, Allura's restrained grief, Coran's covered up sorrow, Keith's fear when he found out his heritage, and Hunk's determination to get past his own anxiety.
His cover slipped.
"I will never fight for Zarkon or his empire." Lance practically growled, completely honest.
Xylod pursed his lips. "You may not have a choice."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Lance narrowed his eyes. His body tensed in anticipation.
"I can't have anyone finding out I work for the Galra." Lance wondered how he'd react to knowing his drinking habits had already given him away.
"So?" Lance slid his fingers down towards the edge of his skirt. He'd been hoping it wouldn't come to this, but luckily, Coran had listened to him when he asked for something a little extra.
"I can't simply let you walk away knowing what I just told you." He reached out and grabbed Lance's left wrist, almost the same way the guy at the bar had earlier with his right hand. Except Xylod's grip was even tighter, his claws beginning to prick Lance's skin.
Lance winced. "Xylod, let me go."
"Elaine, listen, you - " Xylod leaned closer still, his other arm clearly intending to wrap around him.
Yeah, Lance wasn't about to let that happen.
Lance drew the small caliber laser pistol strapped to his thigh and aimed it right below where Xylod's belt would be if he had one. Understandably, Xylod froze as the safety clicked off.
One of the fun facts of the universe so far, Lance had learned from talking to Coran and Pidge, was that if you were dealing with a person that walked upright on two legs, there was usually something under the belt. It may not be the same as humans, but it was important to most sentient species.
And it looked like that fact was still holding true.
"Why - why do you have that?" Xylod seemed to have sobered right up. Staring down a gun could do that.
"Well, on my planet they always say you should have protection." Lance tried to say nonchalantly. Admittedly, people usually did mean this kind of protection, but the point remained.
"Even at a bar?" Xylod sounded slightly hysterical, and quite frankly, Lance was surprised that no one was paying attention to them yet. It probably helped that the gun was below the table.
"Well, yeah. Pretty sure that outside a war zone that's where I'm gonna need it the most." Lance admitted.
Xylod's eyes narrowed, calculating. "Who are you really?" He hissed.
Lance raised an eyebrow. It's not like he could tell the truth, but he could give a half-truth and a half-lie. "Just a pilot who thought it'd be alright to have a night of fun on a planet not controlled by the Galra." He leaned in. "Now, I'm going to leave, and unless you like being shot at, I'd suggest you don't follow."
"I can't let you leave knowing what you know." He said weakly, his claws digging into Lance's ensnared wrist.
"All I know is that you're apparently buddy-buddy with the Galra." Lance flatly said. After all, as far as Xylod knew, all he'd been aiming for was some conversation and dancing. "Or is that worth losing this?" He presses his gun just a bit closer.
Xylod visibly gulped, but on the plus side, he finally let go. "Fine." He hissed, and for the first time, he truly sounded reptilian.
"Glad we can understand each other." Lance said, holstering the gun and standing up, quickly making his way back towards the stairs.
The prickling sensation that something was wrong was still there though, so Lance clicked his comm's receiver on. "Hey, Keith - "
"YOU HAVE A GUN?!" Keith yelled at him.
"Where did you even get that?" Hunk asked at the same time, sounding halfway to a panic attack.
"I retrieved it for him from the armory, of course." Coran explained, and Lance almost cracked a smile at the image of him twirling his mustache at that. "What? Was I supposed to just refuse the boy's request?" He sounded indignant, so Lance figured someone had given him a look.
"Anyway," Lance was almost at the stairs, "Keith, I may need a - "
"Wait!" One of the servers, standing next to Xylod's table, called out to him. They signaled the other servers. "Hold it right there!"
"Quiznak." Lance swore as the bouncer next to the stairs moved to block his exit. He glanced around and picked up the pace. There! He detoured towards the bar.
"Lance, what's going on?" Shiro urgently asked.
"I guess Xylod doesn't take rejection well." Lance quipped, breaking into a run. Stay on your toes if you ever have to run in heels. His sisters' voices whispered in his head. "Hey, if Keith could meet me outside, that'd be great."
"Yeah, but how are you getting out in the first place?" He could hear the clack of Pidge typing through the comm. "I don't - "
Lance reached the edge of the private area and leaped off. Throughout the bar were poles that he assumed helped to support the roof. He latched onto the nearest one and used it to swing around to floor. He winced a bit as the impact from landing jarred his legs.
"Oh," Pidge said weakly, "there you are."
"I'm on my way." Keith finally acknowledged his request.
Lance brushed some hair aside and saw that most of the bar was staring at him. He glanced back at the private booths and had an idea. "No means no, Xylod!" He called back and then headed to the nearest exit.
Lance knew that he instantly had most people in the bar on his side with his implications. Glares were directed towards Xylod as he peeked over the private area's wall. Lance hid his grin. That guy was probably never going to get lucky here again.
"Sorry for pausing the party everyone," Lance shot the dance floor a regretful smile. "Maybe some other time." With a wink and some quick finger guns, he hardly slowed as he shoved open the door.
"Okay." Lance didn't stop as he heard the bouncer in the front being radioed. "Where we meeting?"
"Go through the alley to your left for the pick-up." Pidge ordered.
"Got it." Lance nodded and followed her instructions. At the end of the alley, a familiar pod appeared.
It opened to reveal Keith smirking at him and Lance returned the look with a grin.
"Need a lift?" Keith asked.
"Well, since you're offering." Lance cheekily replied, leaping up and swinging himself into the pod.
The hatch snapped shut and they were headed back to the castle. They managed to get away before any of the bar's bouncers reached the alleyway, so it was a clean break.
Lance sighed in relief and sank into the shotgun seat. Things had gotten a bit dicey there at the end, but luckily, everything had worked out.
"So mission complete?" Pidge and Hunk popped up on the video screen, but Pidge was the one who spoke.
Lance smirked and held up the Bug. "As per usual, I saved the day!"
Hunk and Pidge rolled their eyes. "You really did this time, man." Hunk was smiling up at him.
"And I expect space hot chocolate for my hard work." Lance said with a sniff. That was the only thing that could heal his tongue after what he'd forced himself to drink.
Hunk laughed. "Sure, whatever you want, buddy."
"We'll meet you in the hangar." Pidge said and then she closed the window.
Silence fell in the pod. Lance was fine with it as he scratched at his wig. Jeez, these things were always so heavy and hot. It was even worse than wearing their helmets.
Surprisingly, Keith was the one who broke the silence. "I didn't know you had a gun."
"Well, I wasn't about to walk into something like that unarmed." Lance said, not quite paying attention as he was slightly distracted by his wig.
"You could have told me."
There was something in his tone that made Lance look at him. Keith looked distracted himself, not quite scowling but still slightly frowning. He thought back to the way Keith had been worried before the mission.
"Would that have helped relieve your worries?" He paused when Keith looked at him quizzically. "Before the mission?"
Keith looked forward. "A bit." He mumbled so softly that Lance barely heard him.
Lance felt a softer smile cross his face. "Sorry for worrying you." Part of him wanted to tease Keith, but considering Keith rarely blatantly showed how much he cared about anyone other than Shiro, Lance decided to just take what he could get. "I mean, I probably could have handled everything without it, but it helps to have insurance, you know?"
"Yeah, yeah." Keith grumbled, fully focusing back on piloting. Still, Lance knew his words had reached him as his grip on the controls wasn't as tight anymore.
The castle was within sight, so Lance decided he could afford to relax and tugged the wig off. He sighed as the cool air of the pod met the top of his head, though he grimaced as he ran his fingers through his sweaty hair. Ugh, he needed to shower before this sweat affected his skin.
A noise from beside him made Lance turn back towards Keith. He blinked as he saw that not only was Keith no longer paying attention to where he was going, but his face was bright red as he looked at Lance.
"You okay?" Lance asked, frowning a bit. This wasn't the first time Keith's face had turned red today. Was he coming down with something?
"Yeah." Keith's voice was a bit strangled, as he looked away again. "Just - you look good."
"Yeah, you said that." Lance's brow furrowed. Seriously, what was up with Keith? He'd been acting weird all day. "Though the wig really helps - "
"No, I mean," Keith seemed to struggle finding the right words, "you look even better now."
Lance blinked, that fluttery feeling from earlier coming back. "No, I'm pretty sure the wig is what really completes the look. That's what makes me look so good like this."
Keith landed the pod in the hangar, and he refused to glance at Lance. His face was now the same color as his Lion. "Yeah, but now you look more like 'Lance.'"
Lance could feel his face darken, and forget fluttering, it felt like there was a dance party going on in his stomach. What did Keith even mean? "I - "
The hatch popped open and Pidge followed it up, startling both of them. "Hey, where's my info?" She asked, making grabby hands at him.
Lance let out a startled laugh. "Uh, here - here you go." Suddenly, he felt a strong urge to be anywhere but here. "Well, uh," he took Hunk's offered hand to get out of the pod, "I better go change." And he started running out of there as quickly as he had run out of the club.
Unfortunately, he wasn't fast enough to not hear Keith say in a dazed tone, "He really can run in heels…"
Pidge and Hunk's laughter followed him out into the hall, and Lance wondered if it was that and all this running that was making his heart pound so hard. Surely, that was what was making him feel so flustered.
Well, whatever. The mission had been a success, and it was all thanks to Lance. He was sure that whatever this was it was just because of how weird the mission had been. It was just adrenaline and all that jazz.
AN: So yeah, admittedly not much Klance besides them getting flustered with each other. Considering where I kinda placed this in the timeline, they are nowhere near that stage anyway. But they're so cute when flustered by each other. And Keith prefers when Lance actually looks like himself.
Still, I hope you enjoyed this. I know I enjoyed writing this. Admittedly, it got away from me as these things tend to do (once again I thought this would be a quick 2000-2500 word fics, and yeah...it's really not). I liked how things turned out though. I love BAMF!Lance stuff, and combined with that post about the guy stepping up to dress up instead of the token girl as well as Lance's obvious history with acrobatics and aerial silks, I think this worked out. I can also respect anyone capable of running in shoes with heels greater than, like, 2 inches.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I have a short bonus scene that I'll be adding which is more about the aftermath with other characters.