You are not the victim. This isn’t supposed to hurt you.
Something is wrong, something is wrong, something is wrong. Kenma repeats and repeats the same line in his head over and over again. His eyes run around and fingers twitch. Sitting on the bed in his room, he can hear the TV in the other room where his father is probably watching another movie. His dad, during the month of getting his first chemotherapy, not even two years ago, started watching every TV show he could find. Now he’s watching movies.
Kenma stands up and sits down, wanders through the small space of his room, going back and forth from one place to another. He doesn’t know where to put himself. So he leaves the house with a silent “I’m going out” to his father.
He walks through the places with the least people. Sometimes Kenma takes photos with his phone when he sees a pretty landscape. Sometimes he slows down or stops to wait for somebody to pass by because he wants to take photos without getting embarrassed. He also wants to be alone.
Lately, Kenma has changed his normal route because a few guys started to interrupt his quiet walks alone by gathering around the same bench every weekend, the days Kenma has nowhere to put himself or his mind. The boys are in the same year as him at school but they don’t share many classes together. The town is small, everyone knows each other.
When Kenma gets back home a few hours later, he thinks about those three guys. They’re not his friends, not his enemies. But while everyone else gives him looks full of pity because of his family situation, one of the three guys, Kuroo, gives him an honest smile. They both attend the same P.E class and Kuroo is always one of the two people to choose teams for whatever game they’re going to be playing. He always chooses Kenma for his team and Kenma is thankful for not being chosen last. Kuroo makes him feel like there’s nothing wrong and Kenma appreciates it. Because there’s really nothing wrong with him or his family.
It’s October and his birthday has recently passed. He got only one gift - new headphones from Fukunaga. He sees Fukunaga at school every day, they go out once every season of the year. But they text constantly because it is way easier to express yourself in words, carefully put together, rather than making a blabbering mess out of random words when “I don’t know” are the most common ones. Kenma likes to give his thoughts more time to grow and only then express them through written words. Fukunaga is a good friend to Kenma since he doesn’t need a lot of attention and doesn’t talk much. Fukunaga is his only friend.
Now, Kenma thinks, he might have a chance to get to know Kuroo. In the beginning of November thirty kids from school are going on a trip to a blood bank because the school has decided to introduce the students to professional blood sucking, very much alike to the soul sucking the school’s been doing on everyone’s brains. Every day at school leaves Kenma exhausted and he can’t get enough of rest.
Kenma and Kuroo get to make small talk during the bus ride. Both of them aren’t interested in donating blood, but both of them are interested in each other. They don’t get more personal than “what’s your blood type?” and the typical high school “what are your future plans?” questions even if they’re both just first years. Kenma starts to believe that Kuroo isn’t as different from him as he used to think. While talking (aka Kuroo talking and Kenma listening), all Kenma can see is a nerd that likes science and, all of a sudden, that evil smirk becomes a quirky smile that Kenma wants to see more of.
In November, Kenma finds out his father’s cancer has moved up to his brains. A few months back his father started feeling lightheaded, walking like he had a few shots of liquor. The doctor, one of the most experienced in the capital, was waiting for metastasis in his lungs and didn’t bother to check his head. His head didn’t hurt, cancer like that doesn’t hurt. But here he is now, with a tumor in his head.
Kenma and his father sit in the kitchen and drink tea. Kenma’s hands are shaking a little. He will get ten radiotherapy sessions and he will be fine, Kenma lies to himself.
For the next ten days they go to the hospital to get radiotherapy. Kenma needs to be with him because his dad is scared of falling. He needs somebody to hold onto. But later the treatment gets too much to handle and because of the horrible nausea his father is hospitalized in Tokyo. The next week Kenma spends in and out of home, spending a few days home, then a few with his aunt in the city. The hospital is almost his home now.
November goes by in a flash and December comes unnoticed. His father is home and everything seems fine. Kenma hasn’t even cried since the day he found out about the new tumor.
The second year of high school starts on a chilly April Wednesday. First day passes by in a flash and everything seems to be in its own place. The only thing out of place is that Kenma starts noticing Kuroo and Kuroo is starting to notice Kenma. Kuroo walks up to him during breaks and watches him play on his phone.
“You should join the volleyball club,” Kuroo says and Kenma looks up from his phone, trying to understand if he heard that correctly.
“You would make a pretty good setter,” Kenma’s brows furrow even harder as he stares at Kuroo talking absolute nonsense but Kuroo only laughs. “Don’t look at me like that! I’m serious. You’re good at reading the opponent’s attacks and set pretty well, too.”
“Are you bullying me of something?” Kenma says, suspiciously eyeing Kuroo’s messy hair. Does he style his hair this badly on purpose?
“No, of course not! Do you think I would choose you every single time we play volleyball in class if you were bad?” Kuroo looks at him with an annoying face that Kenma can only read it as “you know I’m right, you can’t deny it”. “I mean, you could use some receiving and serving practice but you’re alright.”
“Shut up,” Well, he has a point, Kenma thinks. “It’s too much exercise.”
Kuroo only laughs and him, “If you say so.”
Kenma hopes his father will be able to see his son graduate. His dad only wishes him health and happiness. And Kenma wants his dad to be happy and proud of him. He doesn’t want to disappoint him.
Friday goes by smoothly, all the worries forgotten and drowned until the evening. By six pm Kenma feels the familiar feeling of his skin burning, something moving under it. He can’t sit for long in one place. He wants to do something but he can’t do anything at the same time. He keeps moving in circles, walking from his room to the kitchen, from the kitchen to his room. He can’t eat, he can’t study, he can’t think. He grabs his winter jacket and slightly opens the doors to his father’s room to murmur a soft “I’m going out”.
He walks the roads for an hour and his mind feels like it has been running all day but is still in the same place. His eyes are wide and lips squeezed tight, his steps are fast and heavy. Kenma tries to take deep breaths. Inhale - one, two, three. Hold it - one, two, three. Exhale - one, two, three. He focuses on the purple sky and dark green trees around him, the grey cement and his freezing fingers. His breathing matches his steps. His heart stops beating like crazy but lips are still shut in a straight thin line.
Kenma gets closer to the bench, but can’t see the usual crowd of three people. He can only see Kuroo sitting alone. Kuroo looks up from his shoes and Kenma looks down, hoping Kuroo didn’t catch him staring and passes him by.
“Hey! Turn around!” Kenma hears a shout behind him but doesn’t bother to turn around. He hears Kuroo lightly running up to him. “Not in the mood for fun?”
“What fun? You’re alone,” Kenma stuffs his hands into the pockets of his jacket.
Kuroo seems to be happy Kenma replied and didn’t leave awkwardness hanging in the air between them, “I’m all the fun you need. Let’s go sit down.”
“We’re already too far from the bench I’m not going back.”
“Then we can walk,” Kuroo turns his head to Kenma and smiles but Kenma keeps looking at the ground in front of him.
“Do you always walk alone?” Kuroo asks, trying to avoid the silence. “I mean, it’s cool with me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I hang out with my friends here sometimes,” he points behind him with his thumb. “And I haven’t seen you in the past few weeks. You don’t enjoy walks much anymore? I mean, I’m not creeping on you or anything,” he laughs. “But it was somehow nice to see you every now and then.”
“Yeah, I walk alone.”
“Huh?” Kuroo seems confused, like he forgot everything that left his mouth a second ago.
“You asked if I always walk alone. I guess, I like being alone,” Kenma shrugs like he’s not sure if being alone is his desired position.
“Oh, then maybe I shouldn’t have tagged along,” Kuroo doesn’t expect an answer and continues. “I think some company wouldn’t kill you, though. I make great company!” he laughs.
Kenma tucks his chin lower into his scarf. Maybe Kuroo’s company won’t hurt him, “Where is your company?”
“My friends left early and I didn’t want to go back. It’s boring at home.”
Kenma hums and Kuroo continues. “Is Fukunaga your friend? I’ve seen you two at school. I recently got to do a lab project with him. He’s a quiet guy but seems nice. The chemistry teacher is so scary, she’s always giving everyone a hard time. I like chemistry but she makes it hard to love it. I don’t want to go to that class ever again.”
While Kuroo seems to be suffering just from the thought of the teacher, Kenma doesn’t have much to reply, so he doesn’t. Comfortable silence doesn’t come around and Kuroo starts chewing on his bottom lip like he’s trying to come up with something more to say but can’t. They get to the street Kenma lives on, cracked pavement and dirty melting snow everywhere.
After some time Kuroo speaks up again, “Actually, they weren’t supposed to show up today. My friends, I mean. I just got used to going there every Friday.”
“I didn’t change the route much. I walk on Saturdays.” Kenma admits on having lied before a little bit, too.
Kuroo smiles a little, “I’ve always wondered how you can be so comfortable alone. It doesn’t seem to be bothering you. My friends don’t go anywhere alone. Sometimes I wish I was comfortable alone enough at school, but it’s hard. Makes me feel awkward.”
“I’m not comfortable, I just zone out and pretend to be texting or just play games,” Kenma answers truthfully. “Do you ever get the urge to be with people?”
“Yeah, sometimes. Don’t you ever get it?”
Kenma raises his head to look at the dark clouds. It’s probably going to snow tonight. He stops in front of his house, “This is it. I live here.”
Without waiting for Kuroo to say something, Kenma walks towards his house and waves slightly to Kuroo with his back turned. “Bye.”
Kuroo doesn’t reply, he just stands and follows Kenma with his eyes. After Kenma shuts the door behind him, Kuroo mutters a quiet “bye” towards the front door of Kenma’s house and turns to the direction of his own house. He looks at the clouds and hopes they go away soon.
That night Kenma goes to sleep in a cold room. The dark room makes him feel uncomfortable. He wraps himself with the blanket and turns to the wall. He’s been feeling a presence in the room for quite some time. Kenma knows it’s his imagination and tells himself not to be ridiculous but he can’t help himself but think of his grandmother. She passed away when Kenma was only seven. An elementary school student met death for the first time in his life. He wasn’t close to her, never knew her well, only saw in a hospital bed.
He’s scared of the dark corner in his room and tries not to think about it.
Think of nice things. Think of nice things. Think of nice things.
He thinks of Kuroo.
Kenma eats rice every morning. His father doesn’t sleep much so the rice is on the table as soon as Kenma wakes up. Sometimes they get some vegetables and fruits from their friends that have gardens outside of the town. It’s hard for his dad to go to the store by himself.
Kenma eats again during lunch, thinking about Kuroo. He’s starting to feel attached to him. He’s not sure if Kuroo wants to be his friend or if he’s just bored or lonely.
This year’s lunch routine is a little bit different because Fukunaga doesn’t always join him. He seems to have made a friend in class 2-B. When did that even happen? But now Kuroo is the one to join Kenma.
“Do I look sad alone?” Kenma asks when Kuroo sits next to him with his lunch in his hands.
“No, you look tired. Maybe a little bit sad… But not because you’re alone.” Kuroo shoves some food into his mouth. “Why?”
Kenma looks at Kuroo, who’s focused on his food. He thinks of how cute his chipmunk cheeks filled with food look, “Just wondering…”
Kuroo looks at Kenma through his bangs with a full mouth and a disbelieving look in his eyes. The image should be gross but only makes Kenma’s stomach do a flip.
“If you say so.”
They keep spending more and more time at school together. Fukunaga sends him teasing messages about Kuroo but Kenma doesn’t react. He doesn’t like how fond he has grown of Kuroo and blames it on the hormones. He likes to watch Kuroo’s hand curl English words with his pen, long fingers and visible veins when they’re working on their homework together. He likes to see Kuroo’s Adam’s apple bob when he drinks juice during lunch. He likes it but doesn’t think of it too much.
(Kuroo thinks of Kenma too much. He thinks of Kenma’s soft voice when he’s answering questions in History class. He thinks of Kenma’s small hands and how much he would like to hold them with his own two.)
On a lazy Saturday evening Kenma hears a ping from his phone, lying on the bed. He stands up from the chair near his desk and plops down onto the mattress. Kenma opens his phone to find a text from Kuroo asking for a number from 1 to 100. Kenma texts him back with a 100 and wonders what this is about. He looks at the clock to see its 9:43 pm.
Oh God, Kuroo texts back with a crying sticker. Kenma has no idea what this is about and asks what the number was for.
I’m exercising, it helps to sleep better, Kuroo replies.
“Is he showing off or something?” Kenma mutters to himself with a disgusted face. “He better not try to get me into that volleyball club again.”
He also wonders why Kuroo has trouble falling asleep but keeps his fingers from asking anything about it. Instead, Kenma offers another way of falling asleep – watching movies. His father always goes to sleep like that. Never worked for Kenma but maybe it would work for Kuroo.
Kuroo replies after some time, probably having finished with his exercise, Nah, it doesn’t really work for me.
In the next hour Kenma finds out all about Kuroo’s favourite films and Kuroo finds out that Kenma has none. Kuroo talks about his fear for horror films and “I haven’t been to the cinema in a long time. Do you wanna go?”
On Sunday they meet up at a small local cinema and pick the only horror movie on the list within an hour. They go to buy snacks and Kenma hates the atmosphere. He feels like Kuroo is too much. Too much energy, too much power. Kenma doesn’t feel good next to him, he feels tiny and insignificant. He tries to push away those thoughts and think of what kind of popcorn he wants.
“I don’t feel awkward in the silence,” Kenma says softly, trying to make it easier for Kuroo.
“Oh, okay…” Kuroo looks a little embarrassed because Kenma could tell how hard he was trying to avoid the silence. “I just thought that maybe you felt uncomfortable…”
“Thank you,” Kenma says to the cashier and passes the popcorn to Kuroo as he takes the drinks. “I’m used to the silence.” He directs this at Kuroo as they go find their seats.
The movie goes by fast. It’s the opposite of what Kenma was expecting. He flinches a few times and turns to his left only to find Kuroo smiling, who was supposed to be shrieking by the stories he’s told Kenma about watching horror films. It’s a mediocre horror film with a small budget and some comedy bits.
“Were you scared?” Kenma asks after they leave the cinema. “You were smiling the whole time.”
“Yeah, I thought I’d be scared. The last time I watched a horror movie was in fifth grade. It left me scarred for years. I thought I was going to cry watching this and embarrass myself but it wasn’t scary at all,” he laughs.
Kenma likes the way Kuroo’s laughter sounds, he laughs too.
“Movies make me so tired. And food. I had too much popcorn.” Kuroo yawns and rests his head and Kenma’s shoulder. The bus they take is barely empty, the evening is dark.
The position must be uncomfortable for him but Kenma likes the way Kuroo’s hair tickles his neck a little too much so he doesn’t say anything. “You were complaining for an hour that you should’ve had bought more popcorn.”
“Yeah, but at the time my brain wasn’t aware of how much I’ve had eaten already,” Kuroo shuffles in his seat until he finds a more comfortable position. “Wake me up when we’re close to your stop.”
“But it’s going to take, like, ten minutes,” Kenma takes out his phone to check the time.
“Don’t underestimate my level of exhaustion.”
Kuroo’s head is quite heavy on Kenma’s shoulder but it feels nice. “Alright, I’ll wake you up.”
Kenma looks out the window and tries not to think about Kuroo. He tries not to think about the weight on his shoulder, the dark hair and big smile. Kenma thinks he spends more time watching Kuroo than trying not to miss their stop. Kuroo smiles, probably knowing he’s being watched.
“You smell nice,” Kuroo speaks softly into Kenma’s shoulder.
Kenma gets out of his daze, a little flustered, thinking, he’s going to use that body wash and shampoo for the rest of his life, “I see your level of exhaustion isn’t that high.”
Kuroo lifts his head and makes Kenma miss the weight pressing on his shoulder. “No, it’s pretty high but you’re distracting me with all the staring,” he laughs and looks at Kenma with sparkly eyes. Kenma wonders how someone’s eyes can be so beautiful.
“Oh…” Kenma quickly turns his gaze away and feels the bus stop. Kuroo gets up from his seat and Kenma regrets every single thing he has done today. Slowly, he stands up to get out of the bus, too. His feet hit concrete and cool air brushes his skin, sending cold shivers down his spine. Kuroo stands there with his hands in his pockets, waiting, and a tiny smile on his face.
“Are you going to walk me home?” Kenma asks in a mocking tone.
“Of course, I have to do that after a date,” Kuroo laughs and wiggles his eyebrows.
Kenma’s smile freezes on his face for a second but he feels warmth filling his lungs. Good thing he’s brave, Kenma thinks. Because I’m not.
Kuroo takes Kenma’s hand with his own and leads the way to Kenma’s house.
“Sometimes I see you walking to school,” Kuroo says as they get closer to the house. “I leave home a little bit later.”
“Then maybe you should start leaving house a little bit earlier?” Kenma says carefully, scared of saying something wrong. He’s aware of how sweaty his palm is, how warm Kuroo’s hand is in this cold weather, how his long fingers wrap around his hand.
Kuroo stops in front of Kenma’s house, “Of course.”
Suddenly, Kenma feels Kuroo’s arms wrap around him and he melts into the touch. He’s not a big fan of hugs. It’s awkward most of the time. This one is rushed, Kuroo soon unlocks his arms from Kenma’s waist and they share silent goodbyes. Kuroo turns around and walks his way home, leaving Kenma stand there for a few seconds until Kenma remembers how to breathe and turns to his front door.
After a shower Kenma lies down on his bed with a silent thump. With Kuroo still on his mind, he shuts his eyes and can’t stop himself from smiling. He licks his lips and swallows down. Kenma touches his thighs and shivers. His hands are icy, the room is cold and smells of winter.
Kenma remembers Kuroo’s wide grin. The moment right before Kuroo turned around to walk home. A heartfelt smile.
His hands are warm when he slides them down, his breathing is heavy.
Kenma feels nervous every time he sees Kuroo at school after their jokingly so-called “date”. Their friendship dynamics stay at the same spot - seeing each other in class, having lunch together, texting from time to time, Kenma helping Kuroo to exercise by texting him random numbers late in the evening so he could sleep better. The only thing that has changed is the air between them. Kenma doesn’t feel overpowered anymore and Kuroo doesn’t try to mask the silence.
It’s still December when Kenma’s father gets a surgery. They cut out a part of his cerebellum, away with the tumor. The neurosurgeon says that a person can live without a big part of it, says he should have gotten the surgery straight away. Radiotherapy hasn’t helped much.
Kenma learns a lot about health and the human body in the worst way. He learns a lot of strange words, many different names of meds. He knows every dose and every side-effect that needs another type of pill or injection to treat it.
Kenma spends Christmas Eve in the hospital with his dad, eating bad hospital food.
On Christmas Kenma gets a text from Kuroo “Merry Christmas!! I tried coming to your house and surprising you with a gift but nobody’s home lol”
“Yeah, I’m out of town. My dad got a surgery on 22nd,” Kenma replies.
Kenma looks out of a window of his aunt’s apartment. Tall buildings cover the landscape of Tokyo.
“And Merry Christmas to you. You got me a gift?” Kenma sends another text, remembering why Kuroo texted him in the first place.
“And you didn’t??? Kenma, that’s rude, I thought we were friends,” Kuroo sends a paragraph of crying emoji’s.
Kenma cracks a smile and takes notice to buy something for Kuroo.
Kenma and his dad came home on 31st of December, New Year’s Eve. He unpacks all the stuff he had brought with himself to the capital. He takes out a tiny western gift bag with a Santa on it from his backpack and smiles to himself. He puts it on his desk and pulls his phone out of his pocket.
“Meet me today?” Kenma sends out the invitation to Kuroo, fingers a little shaky from excitement.
“How about celebrating the New Years together? My friends are going to some party but my mom would straight up kill me if she found out I was at a party lol”
Kenma considers the thought. He’s scared this might be the last New Year’s Eve he gets to spend with his dad.
He goes to dad’s room, scared of making his father sad. He doesn’t want him to feel unimportant or not needed. Family always comes first. Kenma opens the door to dad’s room and steps in, “My friend asked if I could spend the New Year’s Eve with him?”
His father looks away from the TV screen and smiles, “Sure, about time for you to start having fun with your friends. You should go out more. Don’t sit at home all day like me. I’ll be fine.”
Kenma only nods and doesn’t argue. He sits in the kitchen and takes out his phone to text back an agreement, “When and where?”
11 p.m. comes fast and Kenma is on his way to see Kuroo. They meet on the same bench, the meeting spot of Kuroo and his other friends. With a thin sheet of snow crunching under Kenma’s winter boots, he walks up to the bench, seeing Kuroo sitting and a tiny box on his lap.
“Kenma brought me a gift, how cute” Kuroo coos in Kenma’s direction, his smile visible under the tall street lamp by the bench.
Kenma smiles softly and points to the box in Kuroo’s hands, “I see I’m not the only one.”
“That’s fireworks, dumbass,” Kuroo laughs and picks up a tiny gift bag by his side that wasn’t in Kenma’s field of vision. “This is for you, though,” he stands up and stretches out his gloved hand with the bag.
They exchange the Christmas themed bags, curious about the presents.
Kenma laughs, seeing a bag filled with candies.
“It’s only to make the bag look bigger and fool you into thinking it’s something big and expensive,” Kuroo seems shy somehow, a soft smile on his face. “The actual present is on the bottom. Check it when you’re home.”
Kuroo pulls out his own gift from the bag and looks at Kenma with a fake frown, trying to mask his laughter, “Seriously?”
“You mentioned you couldn’t sleep well, so I thought maybe this could help,” Kenma points to the sleeping mask in Kuroo’s hands. “There’s a pack of ear buds in the bag, too.”
Kuroo laughs at Kenma’s words, “Thank you. That’s thoughtful.”
Kenma licks his lips and looks away. They wipe the snow off from the bench and sit down, their shoulder’s leaning into each other.
“Why did you bring fireworks? Do you even know how to set them off?” Kenma takes the box and reads the instructions, “I’ve never done that.”
“Yeah, it’s simple,” Kuroo looks at Kenma’s focused face reading the instructions, “Why haven’t you?”
“Well, I remember me and my dad setting them off once when I was maybe five. But since then we have been celebrating at home, only two of us,” Kenma remembers his dad running quickly towards him after setting the fireworks off. He remembers purples and greens lighting up the sky.
“You said he had a surgery. Didn’t want to ask you about it through the phone…” Kuroo asks carefully, knowing about Kenma’s dad’s disease only a little because Kenma never talks about it.
“Yeah, it went okay. They took a tumor out of his head. He’s all good now,” Kenma draws circles in the snow with his feet and tucks his head into the big scarf, wrapped around his neck.
“Yeah, it’s good.”
Kenma feels Kuroo lock his arm around Kenma’s elbow, putting it back to the warmth of his jacket as they wait for 12 o’clock to come. The first fireworks start to light up the sky 15 minutes before midnight. They watch the fireworks with heads raised to the sky, arms intertwined. Kenma turns his head to look at different colours painting Kuroo’s face. His eyes reflecting the explosions in the sky make Kenma aware of the explosions inside his chest.
Kuroo turns and meets Kenma’s eyes, “I’m going to set the fireworks off,” his gaze drops to Kenma’s lips but darts back up to his eyes in a flash of a second, “Okay?”
“Yeah,” Kenma gulps when Kuroo unlocks his arm and goes further with the box. He watches Kuroo pull out a lighter out of his jacket pocket and ignite a thin rope hanging from the box. Kenma stands up and Kuroo runs back up to him. The rope gets shorter and shorter as bright sparks swallow it down.
Kenma feels a hand wrap around his waist. The fireworks start to go off one by one, blue and yellow, dozens of tiny light bouquets in the sky. He turns to Kuroo and sees Kuroo looking back at him, eyes soft and sparkling.
Another firework blows up when Kuroo leans in and kisses Kenma. One more blows up inside of Kenma as a hand comes up to his neck, as a cold nose presses into his own. The loud explosion noises deafen Kenma and he can only hear his heartbeat ringing in his ears.
The box of fireworks lays empty in the snow. Kenma tilts his head to deepen the kiss, tongue licking at Kuroo’s lips, and wraps his hands around Kuroo’s middle. Somewhere in town a “Happy New Year’s!” echoes through the buildings. He can feel a tiny smile dancing on Kuroo’s lips.
Kuroo pulls away and his forehead meets Kenma’s, warm breath ghosting on Kenma’s face, “Happy New Years, Kenma.”
“You make me happy,” Kenma whispers and reaches for a tiny peck on Kuroo’s cheek. “Happy New Years.”
Kenma comes back home at 2 a.m., head light and feet heavy. Lips pulled into a smile, still feeling the shadow of Kuroo’s lips. He clutches a gift bag in his hand and goes to dad’s room.
“Happy New Years,” Kenma says, opening the room, seeing dad laying on his bed, cyan TV light showing his face in the dark.
“Happy New Years,” dad takes the remote control and pauses the recording, “I didn’t expect you to come home so early.”
“2 a.m. is early?” Kenma laughs slightly.
“You had a good time, I see.” his dad looks at Kenma with a smile. It’s not often for Kenma to uncover his happiness in front of his dad.
“Yeah, it was nice,” he’s aware of his smile but he can’t help it. “I’m going to sleep. Goodnight.”
Kenma reaches his room and plops down onto the bed, still hearing dull echoes of fireworks. Remembering the gift, he sits down and turns over Kuroo’s gift bag, candy spilling on the sheets.
Kenma takes a simple thin bracelet into his hands. He clips it around his wrist and remembers Kuroo’s thin wrists and long fingers. He bites his smile down and reaches for his phone.
“Am I your girlfriend now that you’re buying me jewelry?” Kenma teases Kuroo through a text, looking at the bracelet. Kenma never got many presents in his life. He would get money from his aunt on his birthdays. Kenma always told his father to count in something like clothes or shoes as a present, never asking for anything more. He felt like he was a financial burden so he was always pleased with what he got, feeling guilty whenever he bought clothes, even if he needed them. Accessories or jewelry were always out of the question. “You shouldn’t have.”
“Does that mean you don’t like it?” it takes a minute for Kuroo to reply.
“No! It’s great but now I feel guilty for getting you a sleeping mask…”
“Don’t feel bad, Kenma. I’m gonna sleep like a baby tonight lol,” Kenma feels better, reading Kuroo’s text, a candy in his mouth.
Kenma regrets eating the candy as the next text from Kuroo almost makes his choke, “Btw you’re not my girlfriend but maybe you could be my boyfriend?”
He reads the text ten, then twenty times, trying to understand if he’s understanding this right, before he texts back a simple “I could be”, scared of fooling himself.
As he presses send, Kenma thinks how he never thought of getting into a relationship, of having a girlfriend, let alone a boyfriend, during his school years. Kenma has always thought he’s too young, feeling like relationships in high school look like some sort of a soap drama on TV, everyone breaking up after a week and then getting back together two days later.
Kenma never thought too much about his sexuality, the word itself feeling foreign. It has always been something he never cared much about, pushing it aside as a thing for another day. He remembers wanting to kiss his friend in 4thgrade as they were playing video games, remembers feeling frustrated, imagining other guys touching him by grade 6. Most of his late night fantasies still included mostly girls, long hair and curvy bodies. And he never had a crush, girl or boy. That’s what let him shut down his mind whenever he would start to question himself. If you don’t feel attraction to a specific person, then how can you know? It’s always easier to just go along with the norm. That way he won’t be able to disappoint his dad.
But now, a fuzzy feeling in his chest makes him reconsider the foolishness of high school relationships, the denial of himself. Kenma’s phone buzzes and he laughs at Kuroo’s text, seeing a paragraph of hearts and a “thank you” at the end.
“What are you thanking me for?” Kenma asks.
“For liking me enough, I guess.”
“It’s impossible not to like you. I only think about you.”
“I’ve been thinking about you since day one.”