Tetsurou stared at his desk idly, twirling his pencil between his fingers. His homework was surprisingly easy, but just mind numbingly boring enough that he didn’t have the patience to finish it all in one sitting. Sighing in defeat, he closed his textbook.
Tetsurou picked up his phone and pulled up his most recent conversation with Kenma, debating whether or not he should call him. He knows his kitten is probably having a late lunch with his parents right now, the way he did every Sunday afternoon. Tetsurou sighed again and tossed his phone down on the bed; he would wait another hour or so before contacting the Nekoma setter. Standing up, he stretched his arms over his head, his mind still on Kenma as he made his way over to browse the mini fridge.
He and Kenma had been dating for almost a year now. When he had started at the university, it had been really hard for both of them—but especially so for the younger teen. The two weren’t just dating—they had been friends who lived within a few houses of each other for over a decade. Even when Kuroo had started high school and Kenma was still in middle school, they saw each other every day when they got home. The teen sighed as he draped himself across his bed dramatically.
Having so much physical distance between them was different; this time they didn’t have the knowledge that they would be able to come home to see the other. This was only made more difficult because Kuroo’s course load prevented him from going home every weekend.
Although they kept in touch, it didn’t make the ache of separation any less. Phone calls helped, and even Kenma swallowed his dislike of them in order for the couple to have some form of regular contact.
As if by magic, his phone lit up to display ‘Incoming call: Pudding Head.’ The middle blocker smirked lightly at the name as he picked up the vibrating device to press the accept button.
“Hey babe, I was just thinking about you!”
There was a sniffle at the other end of the line. Given that Tetsurou has been Kenma’s best friend for ten years—he knew the difference between Kenma’s ‘I have a head cold’ sniffles and his ‘I’m very upset and I’ve been crying’ sniffles. In this case, it was definitely the latter.
Tetsurou scrambled to sit up, clutching the phone to his ear, “Kitten! What’s wrong?”
“They… my parents, they kicked me out.” Kenma’s voice was thick with misery.
“Wha… what?! They kicked you out? Like, permanently? Why would they do that?” Kuroo questioned. That seemed completely out of left field. While his kitten’s parents were highly traditional, they also loved him very much.
“I… I told them, Kuro. I just blurted it out,” Kenma said in a resigned tone.
Tetsurou froze, and his heart dropped. “Kitten, I thought we were going to wait until the summer when I could be there with you?” Kenma having that discussion with no one there to support him didn’t sit right with Kuroo. He had known that Kenma’s parents wouldn’t support the fact that their son was only interested in men, and that’s why the older teen had wanted to wait so that he could step in if things got too heated. Kenma avoided conflict by nature and had always had trouble standing up for himself. Tetsurou wanted to prevent Kenma’s parents from stepping all over his feelings—especially since they spared no thought to the damage their words could do.
“At first, it was just the usual,” he paused before continuing. “They were talking about me getting a respectable job—not in video game design—and then they started talking about how hard it would be to find me a suitable wife with a job like that. Kept mentioning I only have a few years before they start setting me up with women,” —Kenma took a shaky breath— “My skin was crawling, and I wanted to throw up. I-I couldn’t listen to that. I have you , I just want you , Kuro!” Tetsurou felt his throat constrict and his eyes burn at the sincere emotion in Kenma’s voice, “And I just…I told them that I was with you.”
The older teen jumped up from his bed and slid on his favorite, threadbare shoes.
“Oh, Kitten. Of course you have me, you’ll always have me. Okay, okay,” Tetsurou whispered to himself, before addressing his boyfriend again, “Everything’s gonna be okay. Head over to my house, Kenma.” He was doing his best to hold it together, to be a pillar of support. He needed to, for Kenma. His best friend was hurting and alone, and Tetsurou needed to be there .
“Aren’t your parents out of town right now?” Kenma asked. His tone was approaching normal, but the former captain knew Kenma was still hurting from whatever homophobic drivel his parents had spouted.
“Yes, but I’m on my way. Right now.” As he spoke he grabbed his jacket and patted down his pockets for his wallet.
“No buts! My boyfriend’s parents just kicked him out of his house, and you expect me not to come? I think I’m insulted,” Tetsurou joked, but his tone did nothing to hide the serious edge to his words.
“You have class tomorrow though—“
“Kenma,” —the other end of the line went quiet— “you are a hundred—no, a million —times more important to me than my classes. I have a 4.0 grade point average, I can afford to take a day or two away from class to help you figure things out.”
“Okay,” Kenma whispered, still sniffling.
Tetsurou scanned the room to double check he wasn’t forgetting anything. His roommate had gone home for the weekend, so the former captain would text the guy on the train to let him know Tetsurou would be gone for a day or two.
“Alright, well, I’m walking out the door now, so I’ll see you in a few hours.” He closed the door to his dorm and strode down the hall, phone still pressed to his ear.
“Kuro… my phone is about to die…”
“Don’t worry, Kitten, I’m coming. We can text until your phone dies, okay? Then, you can charge it when I get there.”
“I’ll see you soon, love. Yeah?”
“Yeah. Love you.”
“I love you too, Kitten.”
Ending the call, he stuffed the phone in his pocket and jogged out the door, heading to the closest train station.
A few tense hours and various trains later, Tetsurou finally reached his stop. Kenma’s texts stopped coming through over an hour ago, so the former captain could only assume that his boyfriend’s phone was dead. The former captain made his way home posthaste, only taking a short detour at the closest store to pick up a bag of apples.
Jogging the last block home, Tetsurou found Kenma sitting on his front porch step shaking with his head between his knees. There was a pile of sick a a foot or so to the side of the walkway.
Probably noticing Kuroo’s heavy footsteps, the younger boy stiffened and peeked up through his hair. Seeing that it was only his boyfriend, he relaxed marginally and released a shaky breath.
“I think… I think I just had a panic attack.”
Kuroo’s stomach dropped. That was worrying.
Despite Kenma’s anxiety problems, he had never had a panic attack before… anxiety attacks? Yes, but never full on panic attacks. Kuroo could only hope that this situation with Kenma’s parents wouldn’t make attacks like this a regular occurrence. The middle blocker placed his produce bag on the ground to sit side by side with his boyfriend.
“Kenma, if you have another one anytime soon, promise me you’ll go to the doctor.” The situation was serious indeed if Kuroo used Kenma’s first name. Both of the boys were well learned on anxiety disorders, so they both understood the importance of seeking professional help. Kenma used to regularly see a doctor for his anxiety, but since it had been a few years from the time of his last attack, he hadn’t needed to go for a while.
“Of course, Kuro.” They were quiet for a moment, taking comfort in the warmth where their bodies touched.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here for it…” The taller boy bumped their shoulders, “Do you need anything from me right now?”
Kenma exhaled softly and leaned into his boyfriend a bit more forcefully, taking advantage of their closeness to thread their fingers together, “Don’t be stupid. You’re here now, and that’s what matters. Just be here.”
Kuroo smiled softly, and looked down to meet Kenma’s golden eyes. “I’m so proud of you,” he whispered as he used his thumb to gently brush the dried salt tracks off the setter’s cheek.
That praise encompassed so much that Kenma had to blink away tears, not wanting to shed anymore for the rest of the night. He said nothing, only laid his head on the older teen’s shoulder.
They remained there for another few minutes before the elder grabbed his bag of apples and stood up, dragging the shorter boy with him by their clasped hands.
Kuroo separated their hands to sling his arm around Kenma’s shoulders, “Come on, Kitten, we’re going to make an apple pie,” He lifted up his opposite hand to indicate the bag of apples. “I need you to peel and cut these for me, and I’ll handle everything else. It’ll be like back in the day.”
When the two were in Nekoma together, Kuroo’s go to ‘Kenma pick-me-up’ was homemade apple pie. Tetsurou wasn’t a baker by any means, and this was the only recipe that he had ever bothered to memorize, but after a few failures, the dark-haired middle blocker had become well versed at making Kenma’s favorite dessert.
His best friend’s anxiety attacks had been fairly frequent during his first year of high school due to the third years who lorded over him in the volleyball club. It was a tough year for both of them, but they had an established routine for the aftermath. They would go to one of their houses, Kenma would peel and cut the apples, Kuroo would prep the crust, and they would end up finishing at about the same time. While it cooked, they would play one of the video games that Kuroo wasn’t laughably bad at, and once it was done baking, they would share a slice (or two) in companionable silence before working on their homework. Or if it had been a particularly bad attack Kenma would forgo homework to play one of his other games.
“Okay, just let me plug in my PSP and phone first. My PSP died not too long before you got here,” Kenma said. Though the ‘my PSP died right before I had my panic attack’ remained unsaid.
“Of course, Kitten.”
While the younger plodded off to put his bag in his boyfriend’s room and plug in his dead devices, Kuroo began assembling all the ingredients needed for the pie. By the time Kenma came back downstairs, the middle blocker had already preheated the oven and sifted the flour for the crust. Kenma wordlessly grabbed a peeler from the drawer and began his assigned task.
They spent the next twenty or so minutes working together in thoughtful silence, more comforted by each other’s presence than any words that the other could say.
Kenma broke the silence, “I’m done.” He pushed the bowl of sliced apples over the countertop to his boyfriend.
“Perfect, me too,” Kuroo smiled over his shoulder at Kenma. They spent the next few minutes tossing the apple slices with brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour before assembling the pie. Kuroo let Kenma crimp the edge of the crust together. After placing it in the oven, the two meandered their way into the living room.
“So, what do you want to play? I’ve been playing Mario Kart 8 with my roommate a lot recently, you know. I think I might have a decent chance of winning if we play it,” the former captain teased.
Tetsurou frowned at Kenma’s off reaction to the question and was about to ask what was wrong when the latter began to speak.
“We can’t even play one of my games, Kuro.” Kenma’s breathing hitched, “They-They didn’t let me take my consoles.” For any other teenager, that would sound bratty, but for Kenma, who literally used gaming as a way to cope , it was more than that. “I only have my phone and my PSP. I brought all my games, because I-I didn’t want them to be able to sell them. I bought most of them with my allowance so I figured…” Kenma trailed off.
“Yeah, we will deal with it if anything comes from that...reimburse them or something,” Kuroo made his way closer to rub Kenma’s back, “Hopefully, we can work things out with your parents. But if not, we can figure things out. We might not be able to get everything all at once, but I could get at least one console.”
“I don’t expect you to buy me a game system, Kuro.”
“Just because you don’t expect me to doesn’t mean I won’t! You’ll just have to pick one, though. New consoles are expensive nowadays,” the teen lamented as he nudged Kenma toward the far side of the room.
“Fine, I still have some money saved up, so we can split the cost,” the setter insisted, following his boyfriend’s non-verbal prompt.
Kuroo smiled, “Deal! Look at us! Already buying consoles for our future apartment~” He wiggled his eyebrows as he lead them to a closet situated in the main hallway.
Kenma rolled his eyes, but he was looking slightly less panicked, so the older teen took it as a win.
“Well, since video games aren’t an option, then I guess we have to game the old-fashioned way!”
Tetsurou opened the closet door theatrically, “Board games!”
Kenma looked thoroughly unimpressed. “I can tell by your stupid smirk that you think you’re going to win.”
He was right, of course. Tetsurou couldn’t wipe the smirk of his face to save his life because he had the upper hand for once. “Yep,” He popped the ‘p’ with a satisfying smack. Kenma’s eyebrows scrunched in distaste, which made Kuroo grin even wider. “You may be the master of video games, but I’m the master of board games. Don’t feel too bad when you get your ass handed to you.”
His boyfriend’s eyebrows raised in scepticism, “That sounds like a challenge.”
“Oho! It is!”
Kuroo emptied his game closet and explained the premise and goals of the different games. In the end, Kenma chose Risk.
“Now, Risk is a lot more fun if there are more than two players, but I’ll be more than happy to totally thrash you for your first game—,” Tetsurou rubbed his hands together, and a rather sinister smile spread across his face,”—then, the next time we play with more people, like with my family over the holidays, we can team up and destroy them!”
Kenma’s face may have appeared impassive to anyone who didn’t know him, but Kuroo could easily read the condescension on his face. “You sound mighty confident…” he said, completely ignoring the second half of the proclamation.
“Look, not to brag—“
“You are definitely bragging.”
“Shh, shh, shhhhhh,” He hushed Kenma, ignoring his boyfriend’s scoff, “ Not to brag or anything, but I have won every game of Risk I have ever played~” It wasn’t like he played all that often, but he always ended up sweeping the board eventually (even though one time it was a hard fought ten hour battle where he had come very close to being ousted before he suckered one of his uncles into an alliance—but Kenma didn’t need to know that).
“If you say so, Kuro. But, if I win, I get to eat most of the pie, and I get to pick the next show we watch.”
“Oya? Deal. If I win you have to take a selfie with me so that I can put my sweet, sweet victory down in the history books, and you have to give me at least fifty kisses before I have to go back to the dorms,” Kuroo negotiated.
Two sets of golden eyes clashed with friendly tension.
Kenma let out a gusty sigh, “I suppose I can agree to that…” The former captain smirked superiorly, opening his mouth to respond— “I might even take a selfie with you of my own prerogative after I win, so that I’ll have lifelong proof of your shameful defeat,” Kenma continued with the smallest smirk ghosting over his lips.
Kuroo’s mouth snapped shut for a moment, before he began laughing obnoxiously. He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against Kenma’s, his grin bright enough to dazzle the latter. The dual-haired teen couldn’t help himself and closed the gap between them to place a soft kiss on his boyfriend’s smiling mouth.
Kuroo’s grin softened as he slid his fingers through the hair at the nape of Kenma’s neck.
“I love you, Kitten.”
A blush bloomed across the boy’s face as he looked away. “I love you too, Kuro.”
“Too bad that cute face won’t save you from a brutal loss.”
A huff of exasperation left Kenma’s lips as he turned to meet Kuroo’s eyes again. “You are so going to eat those words.”
Satisfied with the slight, but genuine, smile gracing Kenma’s face, he turned to the game, and proceeded to set up the board as he explained all the rules and pieces.
Once it was all set up, the game began. Taking advantage of the fact that his boyfriend had yet to get a grasp of the game, Kuroo took an early lead by conquering quite a bit of South America.
Although, within fifteen minutes, the older teen’s lead had stalled. Kenma was now defending his territory more efficiently and attacking more aggressively. Twenty minutes after that, Kenma was officially dominating the board with a domino-effect attack that Tetsurou was hard-pressed to defend against. Kuroo’s savage beat down by his boyfriend was only paused momentarily when the couple stopped to take the pie out of the oven.
The two trash talked each other good naturedly as they danced around each other, grabbing plates and silverware. Once they each had served themselves a slice, Kenma slathered them in whipped cream, before leading the way back to the board.
Kenma devoured his piece during the, admittedly short, amount of gameplay they had left. The game had only lasted just over an hour, and Kuroo was honestly a bit put out by his own loss.
“So, what was that you said about a ‘brutal loss’?”
“Shut up, Pudding Head… best two out of three?”
“Sure, just don’t forget the terms of our bet.”
“Yeah, yeah, let’s go! That strategy won’t work on me a second time!”
The strategy did indeed work a second time. Not as easily, though. The game was a bit more evenly matched for the first half, but in the end, Kenma was able to use the same strategy to sweep the board. The middle blocker was, at least, thankful that the second game lasted almost three hours, rather than the pitiful one hour of the first round.
Kuroo threw his head back and groaned loudly, covering his face with his arm.
“Do you concede defeat?” Kenma questioned, with his infuriatingly impassive tone.
“Never! This had to have been a fluke! I’m the board game master!” Tetsurou changed tactics, “Let’s play a different game!”
Kenma didn’t bother to hide his smile when he replied, “Okay.”
Three hours and a few slices of apple pie later, Kuroo was essentially done with life because he had yet to win a single game. Kenma was watching his agony with smug amusement.
“This was fun, but are we done? I’m hungry.” Kenma’s stomach gave an angry mew. The middle blocker made a pained noise from under the table where he collapsed after his latest defeat in Candy Land (he even lost to Kenma in a game of luck, what is life ).
Kenma nodded in apparent agreement. “Okay, well, I’m going to make us some of that gourmet ramen your dad hides under the sink. Can you please set up the TV?” A grunt was heard.
“...Thank you.” And with that, Kuroo’s super-smart, game-winning boyfriend made his way to the kitchen while Kuroo remained sulking on the floor. The dark-haired teen laid there for another minute, feeling sorry for himself, until he remembered that the sooner he did as his boyfriend asked, the sooner he would be able to cuddle with said boyfriend on the couch.
Now fully energized, the university student hastened to roll out from under the table to set up the streaming service to the television. Kenma arrived shortly after bearing a tray with two steaming bowls of ramen, and two more slices of apple pie.
“Thanks, babe! I didn’t realize how hungry I was until you mentioned food!”
“Probably because you had to swallow so much of your pride the last few hours, your stomach must have thought it was full,” came Kenma’s toneless response.
Kuroo gaped stupidly. “Well then, I guess I walked into that one,” he chuckled. “So do you have anything in mind you want to watch?”
“Well, there is this one new show…”
Kenma ended up choosing a fairly new sports anime about ping pong. It was surprisingly interesting, and they had a good time watching it. They had finished their ramen within the first episode, and Kenma went on to eat his fifth slice of pie without pause. Kuroo, however, took his time with his dessert like any civilized person—in between cuddling and light kisses with his boyfriend.
Kenma paused the show after the fourth episode to comment, “Let’s take a break for a minute, I wanna grab my phone. It should be fully charged now.”
“Yeah, no problem. I actually wanted to get something to drink, do you want anything?” Kuroo asked.
“Water.” Kenma requested.
“Can do, Pudding Head!” He shot finger guns with sound effects, “I’ll be right back.”
When the older teen made his way back to his spot on the couch holding the drink, he realized his dessert plate was empty. Looking at Kenma, who was innocently engrossed in his now fully charged phone, the older teen couldn’t help the amused quirk of his lips.
“You ate the rest of my pie.”
“Did too. There are crust crumbs on your mouth.”
Kenma’s tongue darted out to catch the crumbs. “...Did not.”
The middle blocker placed the glasses down on the table to sit on the couch. Ignoring Kenma’s squawk of surprise, he pulled the setter onto his lap and buried his nose in the two-toned hair. He was so in love with this boy, his best friend.
“Kami, I love you so much.”
He felt more than saw the blush that followed, “I-I love you too, Kuro. Stop being embarrassing.” But even as he said that, Kenma shifted to a more comfortable position in the older teen’s lap, and leaned further against Tetsurou’s shoulder to tuck his face into his boyfriend’s neck.
“Thank you,” Kenma breathed against his skin. Kuroo didn’t ask what for. He knew Kenma was thanking him for distracting him, for being there for him, for loving him. He just squeezed the younger teen’s waist lightly in response.
The two never turned the show back on, but that was okay. By now, it was the early hours of the morning, and they were finding it hard to stay awake. They shuffled down the couch so that Kenma was lying on top of Kuroo, and it wasn’t long before Kenma fell into an exhausted sleep.
Kuroo wasn’t far behind him, but looking at Kenma’s sleeping face, he couldn’t help but think that he would do whatever it took to make things right. Whether that be working things out with his boyfriend's parents, or getting Kenma set up in Kuroo’s old room until the setter could join him in the dorms next year, he didn’t know—but he did know that they’d pull through this as long as they had each other.
With that last reassuring thought, Tetsurou kissed Kenma’s head and joined him in sleep.
“I love you so much, Kuro. You’re the apple of my pie.”
“Uhh.. you mean I’m the apple of your eye?”
“No. The apple of my pie.”