Kenma isn't sure where they stand, at the moment.
One stupid fight escalated earlier that morning and since then his stomach has been tight with anxiety, mind restless and distracted.
Kuroo won't be coming home until late, because of work, so they won't be able to resolve this until then. Kenma just wants to get it over with, but he also knows he should use this time apart for them both to cool down. And maybe to prepare a proper apology.
"You seriously need to pick up your clothes from the bathroom whenever you're done in the shower," Kuroo says, dropping one of Kenma's dirty shirts on his head while the blond was sipping on his morning coffee.
Kenma groans and yanks the shirt off. "I get it," he says sharper than usual, cranky from waking up so early for his morning lecture and from Kuroo calling him out. "You don't have to put dirty clothes on my head."
"Apparently I do," the older drawls, putting his hands on hips and peering down at the blond, "considering I've told you this at least ten times before and you keep doing it."
"It's not a big deal, Kuro," Kenma sighs through his nose, taking another sip of coffee and wishing that was the end of it. But of course it wasn't.
"It isn't until there's a pile of your dirty clothes in the bathroom, halfway to the ceiling!" Kuroo grouches, nudging Kenma's chair and making it squeak as it moves on the tiled floor.
Kenma rolls his eyes. "That hasn't happened before."
"Wh-- because I've been taking care of your clothes!" Kuroo points out in exasperation. "We live together Kenma. The least you could do is your part around here."
"I do plenty," the blond replies, raising his voice in irritation from what he thinks is Kuroo implying he's a lazy slob.
"Oh yeah?" His boyfriend challenges, eyebrows raising as if he were challenging Kenma with a silent 'go on, then'.
"I take out the trash. I make coffee every morning. I turn off the lights and TV that you always forget about when you fall asleep before you can, every other day. I put away groceries. I help make meals," Kenma lists while staring Kuroo down. "I can't do everything, Kuroo. I have class and practice and homework."
"And that's fine and dandy, Kenma, but do you want to know what I do? Do you even know what I have to do after coming home exhausted from class and practice, like you do, *and* my job, *and* homework to do on top of that? Here, let me tell you." He drags out a chair to sit adjacent to Kenma, who groans and looks away, knowing this is just going to escalate further. Kuroo's passive aggressive tone is making it hard for Kenma to listen to him without getting irritated. "Yeah yeah, groan all you want. 'Cause you know I'm right. Here's what I do, Kenma. I do the laundry almost every day. I cook dinner for us every time I'm home early. I clean the apartment every weekend. I get groceries every two weeks-- alone, mind you, because you don't like to go out and I respect that." Kenma opens his mouth to speak, but Kuroo holds up a finger to silence him. "I'm not finished, Kenma. I do the dishes. I take care of the bills, keep track of our budget, make the phone calls, all that jazz. I drive us everywhere. I'm the one who makes the meal plans so we know what to make every night. I plan our dates and keep in touch with our old friends so we can make plans to hang out. I take you to bed when you fall asleep in front of your computer or your console. I take care of your clothes you leave in the bathroom! And sure, you make coffee, but half the time it's only enough for you. And you take out the trash only when it's overflowing and you have no choice because you have nowhere to put your garbage. You cook when I'm going to be home late and you have to make *yourself* something, so by the time I'm home, most the time the food is cold or soggy because you didn't properly save or put any away for me. I leave the lights and TV on on *accident* because I'm so fuckin' exhausted after everything, including taking care of you, that I can hardly control when I fall asleep!"
Kenma is quiet, still not looking at Kuroo. "...You don't even like coffee," he mumbles after a long moment of silence.
He flinches when Kuroo smacks his hands down on the table, pushing himself up and away from it. "Great. Glad that's all you have to say," he snaps.
"You don't *have* to do all of that stuff," Kenma protests in defense of himself, finally turning toward his boyfriend with a frown. "I didn't ask you to take care of me."
This was very much the absolute wrong thing to say, because Kuroo suddenly looks so hurt, so fucking wounded that Kenma's mouth turns immediately dry.
"This is how you thank people?" Kuroo asks, face going from hurt to this weirdly emotionless, wry smile, and Kenma shifts uncomfortably. He's never seen his boyfriend like this before, and he definitely doesn't like it. "You can't just apologize, and thank me, and tell me you'll try to pick up the slack?" Kenma stays silent, swallowing hard, so Kuroo continues. "You know what else I do, Kenma? I tell you I love you every day. I kiss you every day. I try so damn hard to make you laugh or smile at least once, *every day*. I go out of my way to buy you gifts and foods I know you'll like. I think of you in every situation I'm involved in, and think about how it'll affect *you*, Kenma. I try so fucking hard to make sure you know you're loved and comfortable and important."
Kenma looks at his lap, twiddling his fingers. "...I... Don't know what the point is of you trying to hold all of that over my head. Like I said... You... Don't have to do any of that for me--"
"That's not the fucking point, Kenma! No-- I'm done. I'm--" Kuroo makes a loud, aggravated noise, running a hand down his face. "Whatever. Bye."
Before Kenma can do or say anything, the door to their apartment is slamming shut, and the blond is left alone with a now-cold coffee and a dirty shirt on the floor. Without his usual kiss goodbye. Without his usual 'I love you, see you tonight'.
Kenma decides he's not going to get much done when he's distracted and feeling vaguely ill like this, so he decides to go home. He'll bail practice, too. Just for today. He can focus on how to make this all up to Kuroo in the comfortability of his own home, instead. Because Kuroo is right. Kenma's been unfair. he keeps to himself a lot, and honestly doesn't do much outside of the spaces he frequents, but that just means Kuroo is picking up the slack everywhere else.
He decides to take a bus even though they stress him out like nothing else instead of pestering Kuroo or Bokuto for a ride, because... Because. Kuroo hasn't spoken to him since their fight, and if he asks Bokuto he's sure the loudmouth will tell Kuroo about it and at that point he'd might as well have asked Kuroo for a ride anyway.
As he's walking to the nearest stop, he passed by a small convenience store. He pauses. And then he gets an idea.
He spends the day cleaning the fucking shit out of their apartment. He takes out the trash. He wipes down the counters and cleans the stovetop and even dusts the TV screen, purging what had been gathering since they moved in. He organizes the kitchen.
He gets their mail, throws out the junk and keeps the important things. He lights candles he had bought at the earlier store to make their apartment smell good. He does the laundry, including the comforters and pillowcases. He folds the clothing afterward, and puts them away. He makes the bed.
As it gets closer to Kuroo getting off of work, Kenma makes dinner. He makes grilled salted mackerel pike, food he had gone out of his way to get when he didn't find it at the first convenience store he stopped at. He even bought groceries he knew off hand that they needed, like spices and new bulbs for one of the bathroom lights that's been flickering pretty badly as of late.
He also bought Kuroo a small gift. Just a tiny one.
And it's great. It's nice. The food smells amazing, the house smells perfume-y but not too strong, and it's cleaner now than he ever remembers it being, outside of when they first toured the place. But considering people were actively living here, he thinks he did a damn good job.
Like he says, it's great.
Well, it is, until it's past when Kuroo usually gets home, even after his latest shifts, and he still hasn't returned.
Kenma tries not to panic. He finds his phone in his school bag, abandoned in turn for cleaning the house, and sees only one text, from Bokuto asking why he wasn't at practice. He doesn't want to call Kuroo straight away, in case his absence has to do with their fight earlier (which he's incredibly certain it is). He doesn't want to push his boyfriend any more than he already has. So he responds to Bokuto.
Kenma: Have you seen Tetsurou?
Bokuto: he's rly upset rn kenma idk if this is a good time ( ㆀ ˘ ･ з ･ ˘)
Bokuto: im soooorryyyyy TT_TT
Kenma: No, it's ok
Kenma: He's with you though, right? Do you think I can talk to him?
Kenma: Or is he too upset
Bokuto: hhhhhnnnggg i dont know
Bokuto: lemme see
Bokuto: ok i told him he should call u to tell u where hes at rn and he said u prolly dont care anyway
Bokuto: soooooo?????????? maybe
Kenma: Thank you. I appreciate it
Bokuto: of couuuurse pudding chan!!!!!!
Bokuto: i know i should b more of a bro and b mad at u or something for him but i just want u guys to work this out u know??????
Bokuto: i want u guys to b happy!!!!! (´°̥̥̥̥̥̥̥̥ω°̥̥̥̥̥̥̥̥ ｀ )
Kenma: Me too
He closes Bokuto's contact and opens up Kuroo's. Knowing them, they're probably either out at a bar or at Bokuto's and Akaashi's apartment. He prays it's the latter and takes a deep breath when he presses call.
The phone rings for a while, and Kenma almost thinks Kuroo isn't going to pick up. His heart is dropping with every ring cycle that passes. Is this it? Is this the beginning of the end? Is this where they'll start to part ways, because Kenma didn't notice how selfish he's been quickly enough and absolutely fucking *fucked* this up--
"Helloooo?" Kenma hears a familiar voice drawl. Silence in the background, doesn't sound drunk, so he's probably at the apartment.
Kenma rests his chin on his knees, wrapping his free arm around his legs. He's at the dining room table, staring at their untouched dinner plates that are covered in saran wrap to keep the heat in. At the sound of Kuroo's voice, he could cry.
"Tetsu," he breathes into the phone.
"What's up?" Kuroo asks, still has a bite of cold anger in his tone. "Need me to come home and make dinner for you?"
Kenma ignores the jab, and rubs the meat of his palm against his eye. "No-- no. I was... Making sure you're okay. Um... Was worried, since you didn't come home."
"...Oh," is all Kuroo says. Kenma swallows hard at the continuing silence, blinking down rapidly at his feet against the burn in his eyes. He doesn't want to do this over the phone, but if he doesn't, then Kuroo may never come back at all.
"I'm sorry," he says, voice breaking already. "For taking advantage of all the things you do for me. I'm sorry I haven't-- done enough, around the apartment, and- and for you--" He's crying, hadn't even realized it until his body forces him to stop talking to sob. "Please-- please don't leave me, Tetsu. I love you, I- I really do. 'M sorry. I'm sorry."
Kuroo is still quiet, and Kenma isn't sure if he should hang up to cry in peace over how they ended or if he should wait for a response of some sort, hiccuping pathetically into the phone.
"Wait right there," Kuroo finally breathes into the phone. "You're at our apartment?"
"Yeah," Kenma croaks. "Kuro, I--"
"I'll be there in a second. Just stay there."
And he hangs up.
Kenma places his phone down, and looks at the wall across from him blankly, trying to decipher on whether this was good or bad or what. Maybe Kuroo had the same idea, didn't want to have this talk over the phone.
Didn't want to break up with him, over the phone.
Even though he's hardly eaten today, the smell of the fish and the thought of Kuroo coming home just to tell him it's over makes him feel sicker than he's ever been before.
He shakes when he hears the familiar sound of keys jamming into the doorknob. Bites his lip and ducks his head, forehead against his knees, at the sound of Kuroo sliding off his shoes, shutting the door behind him.
Kuroo's silent until he reaches the table, and then he gently places a hand on Kenma's shoulder.
"You did all this..?" He asks quietly, and Kenma peaks up from his knees with a wet sniff. Kuroo's looking around the kitchen in awe.
"It doesn't make up for- everything," Kenma says, feeling himself relax under Kuroo's touch, from the familiar warmth that's returned to his boyfriend's eyes. "But I wanted to- to do something--"
"It's amazing," Kuroo declares. "You did amazing. It smells so good in here. Did you make-- you made my favorite for dinner, too?" He slaps the palm of his hand against his forehead, wincing. "I feel like such an ass now, Kenma, I'm sorr--"
"No," Kenma interrupts and pushes away from the table, standing up to look the other in the eye. "Don't. This-- I didn't do this to make you feel bad. I..." He twiddles his fingers together. "I should be the one apologizing. And I am sorry. I really, really--" He's cut off as Kuroo yanks him into a hug, blinking in surprise.
"I love you so much," Kuroo grinds out, body shaking minutely. He sounds close to tears, much to Kenma's confusion. Shouldn't he be mad, still? Kenma wraps his own arms around him in turn, breathing in the familiar smell of Kuroo. Of home.
"I love you too," he murmurs.
"I honestly--" Kuroo nuzzles into Kenma's hair. "I don't care *that* much about the chores, and stuff. You know? I don't mind doing things for you, for us. It reminds me that we're in this together, and makes me happy in a... Weird way. All I wanted to know was... Was if you loved me, too. If you still wanted to be with me."
Kenma feels his tears coming back full force, and squeezes his eyes shut. "Of course I do," he croaks, tightening his grip on the back of his boyfriend's shirt. "I do. I'm sorry. I love you."
"I love you too. I'm so stupidly happy right now." Kuroo pulls the other away to look at him, his own eyes glassy. He cups the blond's face. "Can I kiss you?"
"Yes," Kenma breathes immediately, hands coming up to gently grip Kuroo's wrists. For a moment he had been so scared he would lose this; would no longer wake up to Kuroo's warm kisses and words of comfort and wide smiles. Now all Kenma could think about was being close to him, knowing that he wasn't going anywhere. "Yes."
Kuroo leans down and brushes their lips together, chaste and dry and so sweet it makes Kenma's chest ache. He presses another kiss to his lips, and another. Backs Kenma up until he bumps into the table, reminding them of where they were.
Kuroo pulls away then, smiling when Kenma tries to follow. "Let's eat before it gets too cold, okay? Then we can do whatever you want."
"Okay," Kenma agrees, unable to take his eyes off of his boyfriend. Kuroo seems to be in the same predicament, so he can't find it in himself to be too embarrassed.
They hold hands the entire time they eat.
"I promise I'll help around the house more," Kenma says between bites. "I'll pick up my clothes- and... And I'll do better."
Kuroo hums, looking at Kenma like he was something so special, so amazing, and not at all like the spoiled, rude jackass he was acting as earlier that day.
"I love you," is all Kuroo says, giving their linked hands a squeeze.
"I love you too," Kenma replies easily.
Later, Kenma gives Kuroo the gift he had bought. It was a heart-shaped picture frame, with a picture of a selfie he and Kuroo had taken a while ago tucked inside.
Kuroo tears up, a little bit. It's so endearing Kenma can't help but lean over and kiss him, again and again.
He's so thankful for this second chance, for this love that Kuroo's given him.
And he plans to never get so close to losing it again.