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No Space Between Us

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“This place is a mess,” Kenma states with a sigh as he buries further into his thick coat and looks around for a spot to sit.

“Yeah man, when’s the last time you been here?” Bokuto asked as he pressed a couple buttons on the wall console, trying to get the windows to open up but the machine was slow to warm up. “Why do you even keep it?”

“Need somewhere to sleep when I’m on world and apparently sleeping on my own ship is pathetic.” Kuroo shoots a look over to Kenma, who shrugs with indifference. It had been a couple months since he’d been back here and he hadn’t really bothered to clean up before he left. He had just wanted to leave, wanted to get away from this place with all its memories.

“Ah shit- why did communications come on? Open the windows damnit!” Bokuto pressed several more buttons as the communications box slid out of the wall, flickering to life. “You have 32 missed messages.” Bokuto, having never heard of privacy before, clicked on the messages and stood back to watch them.

The first was from Kuroo’s mom, a message she had sent to his ship many months ago. Another from Bokuto himself, cutting himself off with a curse as he remembered Kuroo was off world. Bokuto grinned over at Kuroo at that one before the third message started to play.

“Hey Tetsu,” Kuroo’s entire world stopped as he heard that deep rumbling voice, saw that so familiar face that he thought he’d never see again. “I don’t even know if this will get to you but direct communications are down completely. We’re really out there now, I’m not even sure if you’ll get this but it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. I can kind of understand the stories about those old sailors who went mad when they were out in the middle of the ocean in the old world. It’s just nothing around you. Still a couple months until we reach our destination though, and then 14 months until I see you again.” The screen flickered off.

“Holy shit, I’m sorry Kuroo!” Bokuto went to turn off the messages but Kuroo grabbed his hand, letting the fourth message click on automatically.

“Kageyama is a brilliant pilot, he really is but sometimes-” His chocolate eyes looked up, searching for the words as he let out a slow breath. His hair seemed longer, he had yet to shave off his five o’clock shadow. “Being stuck in a tin can with the same people for over a year can get to you. Kageyama and Tsukishima won’t stop arguing, Tetsu and I’m at the end of my rope on how to deal with them. I wish you were- well, you just always seemed to know how to handle Tsukishima best and I feel like I’m somehow failing him. Failing them all because I can’t- god Daichi, what the hell are you doing don’t send this-” The message flickered out.

“Kuro this isn’t a good idea.” Kenma spoke softly from behind him but he made no move to turn off the screen.

Over a year ago Kuroo’s entire world came to screeching halt as he finally accepted that his husband wasn’t ever going to come home. It had been a two and half year mission, and then Sawamura was set to retire and take smaller jobs closer to home, freelance a bit. Kuroo knew the moment he met Sawamura he’d be the ruin of him, but he hadn’t expected this.

Sawamura had been gone for five years. He had left to evacuate a failing colony on the edge of their known universe. Of course he had because he had a big, soft heart and he was always stalwart and dependable. The colony had been on a planet whose moon had been taken out by an asteroid, they had requested help and Sawamura had agreed to take the assignment.

Fourteen months to get there, fourteen months return trip. Kuroo hadn’t worried at first when they didn’t show up exactly 28 months later. He knew how unpredictable things could be, how a seemingly small problem with the engine could have them dead in the water for a month. They had supplies enough three years.

Three years came and went. Kuroo began to worry but he wasn’t going to panic just then. They sent out a search party for them to the halfway point but there was no sign of them.

The fourth year came with no sign of them and the entire crew of The Crow were pronounced dead.

Kuroo had fallen apart. Distance he could deal with, both of them had known what they were getting into when they started a relationship. Kuroo was off world more often than not, taking month or two long trips doing jobs that some might consider illegal. Sawamura worked in a more legal capacity, he was a well respected Captain, had earned his spot and had done extended trips in space before.

Distance had never been a problem until Sawamura traveled to a place that Kuroo couldn’t follow.

“So it’s Suga’s birthday, and Hinata and Yamaguchi got it in their head that they want to make him a cake. Except we don’t have the materials to make a cake so they take what we do have and from the outside it looked like a cake Tetsu, I was impressed. But inside, inside was where dreams came to die.” Sawamura laughed, he had a full beard now and he rubbed his jaw, running his nails through the short hairs. “I use to grow out a beard during every long haul, shaved it right before we got on world. Stopped doing that when you said you hated beards. Do you remember that? It was our second date and we were in bed-” A slow grin came over his face, the beard hiding the dimples Kuroo loved so much. “I thought you were going to kick me out after but you’re such a cuddler-”

“Kuroo’s a cuddle slut?” An exuberant voice shouted.

“Nishinoya, I thought I told you to go to bed! Is that another one of those energy drinks, hand that over right now.” The picture cut out on the beginnings of a famous Sawamura lecture.

More messages played on, mostly from Sawamura telling Kuroo about their days aboard the ship, how close they were to the planet, how much he missed Kuroo. Kenma and Bokuto stayed close as Kuroo felt his heart break all over again.

“The pieces of the moon have created a barrier around the planet, it’s- Kageyama is sure he can get us down there but how can I risk the entire crew for this? But we’ve come so far Tetsurou, there are people down there who need our help. Who have been waiting for us, hoping for someone to come for them, to bring them home.” Sawamura rubbed at his face, hard. “I think I might have some of the void crazies because I keep hearing your voice, telling me to leave them but we both know you’re full of shit. You can act like a scoundrel all you’d like but I know you’re heart, I know you’d risk everything to help even one single person let alone a whole colony.” Sawamura grinned at the camera, a little of a manic look in his eyes as he made his decision. “Well, we’ve come this far.”

The screen flickered off as the last message played.

Sawamura’s head was bandaged, there was blood on his previously pristine white shirt and he looked exhausted but alive.

“The Crow took a lot of damage on entry-” The screen fizzled and blurred, the sound cut in and out at random. “We’re all alive and the colonist are here but-” Sawamura’s lips moved but no sound came out. “-think they can fix-” “gut a couple things here-” “-fucking can’t believe-” “-love you-” “-no more messages-” Sawamura looked down and Kuroo could make out the blood caked into his hair before he suddenly looked back up. “I’ll make it home to you Kuroo.” The screen flickered off and the message box reappeared, reporting zero new messages.

“Kuroo-” Bokuto tried but Kuroo shook him off.

“I have to go talk to Ukai.” Kenma and Bokuto both stared at him but neither moved to stop him, didn’t try to talk him out of it.

Kuroo played the messages for Ukai, felt his heart hurt all over again as he replayed the last two. Ukai watched them a second time, mouth pressed into a hard line. He had been the one to ask Sawamura to take the assignment. Kuroo remembers a hazy night when he had too much to drink and had blamed Ukai for Sawamura’s death. That had been right after they had buried an empty coffin.

Ukai sent out another search party and Kuroo was stuck waiting and waiting. It was a repeat of his past, where Sawamura felt so far away and so close at the same time. It was agony.

Kuroo scrubbed the house clean, as if that would bring Sawamura back. He had never gotten rid of anything of the other man's and it made him realize that he never really accepted Sawamura’s death, that he had just been waiting the entire time.

After months of no word back Kenma finally talked Kuroo into taking a job that would take them roughly two months. It was messy and Kuroo had to use every ounce of his intelligence to talk the locals out of not burning Lev at the stake, but they had managed to escape off world by the skin of their teeth.

“Why do we keep him around?” Yaku asked grumpily as they unloaded off the ship.

“Because he speaks a dozen different languages and is damn quick on his feet.” Kuroo answered back, though Yaku wasn’t really fooling anyone. He was as clearly smitten with Lev as Lev was with Yaku.

“When he’s not tripping over them.” Kenma spoke up from his perch atop their supply crates. They all let him be, knowing he was making a list of repairs and supplies they would need for their next job, while also searching for said next job.

“But why do we keep letting Lev off the ship?” Yaku asked.

“Because he’s your linguistics expert.” Kuroo dropped the crate he was holding and turned towards where the voice had originated, at the entrance of the hangar.

“Kenma?” Kuroo asked, voice nothing but a thin whisper.

“You’re not hallucinating.” Kenma assured him but Kuroo was already moving forward, throwing himself against his husband.

His husband who was announced dead and was suppose to be light years away. His husband who had sent him numerous messages despite the fact that he had no way of knowing if they’d actually ever get to Kuroo. His husband who was solid and warm and right there in his arms.

“No,” Sawamura said quickly as Kuroo tried to pull back, using his considerable strength to keep him close. “Can we just stay like this for a moment?” Kuroo sobbed into his neck, unable to argue because he would stay like that for as long as Sawamura wanted.

“You’re here.” Kuroo managed to choke out.

“I promised I’d make it back to you.” Sawamura curled his fingers into the hair at the back of Kuroo’s head. The embrace was a little too tight, bones rubbing against each other to the point of pain but Kuroo wouldn’t let go for anything at that moment. “You sent them out for us, you didn’t give up.”

Kuroo listened quietly as Sawamura explained. They had gutted a couple of low range ships on the colony and patched up the Crow, who had crawled its way back to civilization. It was all backwater colonies out that far, so they could only pick up bare essentials. Enough food and drink to supply the crew, the twenty colonist they had picked up stayed on another planet while they made their way towards home. Except their ship had gone dead in the water. Sawamura had sent his crew off in the escape pods when the life support system had started to fail. The search party crew had found him passed out in the captain's chair, near dead. All the crew had been recovered.

“You’re not allowed to leave my sight.” Kuroo said sternly, or as sternly as someone who was still openly weeping could be. He pressed kisses all over Sawamura’s face. He was clean shaven, his hair cut short again, but there was a new long scar that cut into his temple that Kuroo made sure to kiss carefully, softly, despite the fact that it was obviously healed completely.

“Fair enough.” Sawamura grinned, his own eyes a little glossy as he stared up at Kuroo, ran his hands down the other man's side. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Kuroo answered back easily, honestly still not allowing any distance between their bodies.