kidney failure. kuroo was twenty-four and was in fucking kidney failure . kei was halfway through pulling off his jacket when the doctor said “acute renal failure”. he winced as the buttons caught in his hair, and as he ripped it the rest of the way off it took chunks of his hair as a consolation prize. kidney failure. he knew what kuroo was thinking, he could see his eyebrows drawn together out of the corner of his eye.
“is it terminal?” was not what kei expected kuroo to ask. he expected a “why?” or a “what the fuck does that mean?” or even a “does this mean no more keg stands?”. not a “is this a death sentence?”.
“we may be able to manage it,” was the doctor’s answer.
and of course kei’s response was “so what do we do?” he couldn’t let tetsurou know he was scared. and scared he was. no, that’s the wrong word. tsukishima was terrified . he might lose his best friend. his boyfriend, the love of his life. his tetsurou.
what they do, it turns out, is put kuroo on pills. three in the morning and two at night. and his morning ones make him nauseous and the nighttime ones make him hungry and kei is tired. he is twenty-one and his boyfriend is sick and neither of them have played volleyball in weeks and he just wants to cry. so instead of doing what he wants, he piles another blanket on top of tetsurou and flops down on him. kei feels fingers tangle in his hair and he pushes his head a little closer to tetsurou’s hand. he has this pressing feeling that there is something he needs to say but he isn't quite sure what it is.
“you’ll get better you know. soon too.” comes out of his mouth, unbidden. and damn it, he didn’t want to talk about this right now.
and kuroo, the little shit , begins laughing. “and how, pray tell, do you know this?”
kei cannot, will not, stop the flow of words coming out of his mouth now. “you have to. it wouldn’t be fair, we’ve only been together for two years. you can’t leave now.”
and that’s it. it’s out there now, in the open and kei has served tetsurou his heart on a silver platter and now it is time for kuroo to feast.
it is oh so unfair of kei to demand that tetsurou keep fighting for him. but he does it anyway because who else does he have? kuroo is his pivotal point, his anchor, his rock. but kuroo just laughs and pulls his head up. he looks a little green, and a little like he is going to cry but he pulls kei into a tight hug anyway.
they stay like that until suddenly, it is time for the night dose. as kei opens up the bottle, he takes a moment to pray “make him better” and at this point, he isn’t sure whether he is praying to the bottles or to some higher power.
kuroo hasn’t smiled in weeks. and for a while tsukishima thinks he’s going crazy, that maybe he just hadn’t noticed. until shouyou and tobio came over and cornered him, badgering him about why his boyfriend looked like a kicked puppy and he got a flurry of ‘ what did you say to him, tsukki? s from tadashi. so he sent tetsurou and kenma out and painted the kitchen. it was ugly and yellow and fluorescent (so was he, kei was not and never will be an artist). it kind of looked like yachi threw up all over it in one of her dumb study sessions. if yachi used anything other than pink, purple, and blue highlighters.
and kuroo came home and smiled so big it almost split his face and kissed kei like the world was ending. it was teeth and nasty funyun breath (because of course kenma would buy them). but it was a smile and it was a kiss nonetheless. tsukishima pushes kuroo a little and “ oops, that’s still wet, sorry babe .”
later, when tetsurou can’t get the neon yellow paint off his ass, kei will laugh. but right now he is glad that his boyfriend is here, and alive, and not going anywhere.
the next day, kei is hanging planets from the ceiling and putting up glow in the dark constellations in the living room when tetsurou wraps his arms around him.
“we aren’t getting our security deposit back are we?” is whispered into his neck.
kei spins around, and lo and behold, there is kuroo tetsurou in all his glory. soft with sleep, faint pink pillow creases on his cheeks, he still manages to stop kei’s heart. (should he get that checked out? he’ll ask tadashi.)
“i wasn’t planning on moving, so no,” comes the response, a classic shit eating grin plastered on his face. “unless you were, in which case, i advise you give me advanced warning.”
“i wasn’t either. guess we have to stick with it now, broken showerhead and yellow walls and all.”
“firstly, it’s chartreuse and i hate it. secondly, our showerhead isn’t broken.”
“it is now.”
“go fucking fix it then, you shit!” and god, kei is so in love with his insufferable boyfriend.
there isn’t a normal. there never will be. what the fuck is normal? kuroo vomiting every morning? volleyball or camping trips? it’s been years and tetsurou is almost twenty-seven and kei is twenty-four. kuroo was twenty-four when he was told he was dying and now he’s what? tired of fighting according to kuroo himself.
tsukishima kei is scared shitless and he doesn’t know what to do because his boyfriend is dying and he was promised forever. so kei holds him tight and tells him he will get better even though the doctors say it’s hopeless. kuroo likes the nurses that remind him of yui, and tsukishima can’t fathom why his boyfriend is so fond of the woman but he won’t deny him. so the days pass with kuroo semi-flirting with his nurse and kei apologizing multiple times. the nurses love him and look at kei with pity. they don't think they can do it, but kei knows. his boyfriend will get better. oh, kuroo will get better, even if it kills them both. because he has to. kei refuses to do this without him.
until kuroo can play again, until kuroo can do a keg stand, kei will keep praying to whatever god is listening. whether that is God with a capital G or the god that is the nephrologist who writes tetsurou’s prescriptions. tsukishima kei will not stop praying until the heavens open up and grant kuroo tetsurou forever with a smile on his lips.