“It’s late, y’know. You should try to sleep, Tsukki.”
“I – I mean, I know it’s vacation and all, but…”
“… I know.”
Kuroo’s voice is thick from sleep and his pajama bottoms are bunched up, resting above his calves from moving so much in his sleep. With each unsure movement towards Tsukishima, his bottoms slowly slide back into place. He stands – not too close, not too far – from where Tsukishima sits and watches his slight movements with solemn eyes.
Tsukishima’s sitting on the floor with his legs pulled to his chest. He can see the moon perfectly from this window. It’s his favorite spot in Kuroo’s apartment; this wall that’s better suited as one vast window that shows the immense sky above them and the busy city below them. He likes how simple the night looks like without his glasses on. A black background with one white, round circle. There’s no gray area. It’s easy to understand. It’s all soft.
Glasses make the world a lot sharper for him, enough to be dangerous.
He doesn’t take his eyes off the full moon as he responds to Kuroo, doesn’t particularly feel like showing him his dark rimmed lids and empty eyes.
Kuroo rubs his face before slowly situating himself across from Tsukishima. He notes humorlessly that Kuroo groans like an old man when his joints crack.
It’s quiet for a moment, just the faint sounds of Tokyo rising up to Kuroo’s small apartment to accompany them.
“Is it the-“
“–It’s just – yeah. Yeah. It’s fine.”
He woke up about half an hour ago, convinced he couldn’t breathe. If anything, he’s surprised he was able to get the covers off of him without thrashing the entire bed and hitting Kuroo on his way out.
He curls his toes. It’s really cold on a hard-tiled floor in the middle of winter. He should have grabbed socks earlier. An afterthought when he’s busy hyperventilating in a dark room.
Kuroo reaches for his hand and promptly pulls Tsukishima out of his thoughts. He rubs his finger along his knuckles, rhythmic and comforting.
“I’ll stay here as long as you want; you know that.”
Tsukishima nods. He’s afraid that if he tries to talk anymore his voice will shatter and the tears being forced behind it will come crashing down.
Kuroo runs his free fingers along a small scar on Tsukishima’s wrist. Back from when he had fallen deeper and faster than he was ready for; a constant reminder despite how tiny it is. His breath hitches. Kuroo’s actions can be so absolutely unnerving, he thinks. Kuroo kisses the scar and moves closer to Tsukishima. He wraps his legs around Tsukishima’s bunched frame, a strong barrier from the outside world.
Tsukishima tries to laugh; it breaks off bitterly and his weak façade is officially nonexistent. “Don’t… Oh, Tetsu, don’t,” he says between rapid breaths that devolve into quiet sobs. A few more follow before he mutters a feeble, “I hate when I’m like this.”
(When Tsukishima had woken up in the midst of a full-fledged panic attack, he wasn’t planning on remembering anything, let alone everything, that happened afterwards. It’s happened one too many times and the thought of past episodes makes his mind spin. He doesn’t know why Kuroo really puts up with it anymore. The mere idea of Kuroo giving up on him is enough to make his gasps reverberate in the cramped place. He wants to pull away from him despite every cell in his body telling him not to. The sudden, repetitive war he’s fighting with himself feels fucking ridiculous. This is so pointless, for him to see me like this.) He pushes the heel of his palm against his eye, chest heaving.
“I love you, Kei.”
Tsukishima stills. Everything stills, really. The air in the room, the people on the streets below, the stars dying and being reborn and the galaxies usually desperately spinning away – they all still.
(Except Kuroo. His hands are shaking.)
Tsukishima opens his eyes and gathers enough courage to somehow look at Kuroo, the only thing in the entire world that’s in focus right now.
“I know you think I shouldn’t, I know, and you don’t have to say it back, but I love you so much. Always. Promise. Even if you’re always miles away from me. You could go to a school in America instead of Miyagi and I’d still feel the same about you, y’know. I’d even love you if you got a bowl cut.”
Tsukishima nearly chokes on the unexpected laugh that bubbles out past his lips. It’s wobbly and the smile that accompanies it doesn’t necessarily reach his red eyes, but he laughs.
Kuroo finally frees his hands and opts to hold Tsukishima’s face with them instead. He wipes away a few tears here and there. It’s more of the thought that counts, considering they’re constantly being replaced by fresh ones.
“And I will continue to love you –“, his voice cracks, “– on your good days, your bad days, and your days where the world is crashing on your shoulders. Because you are so, so worthy and full of love, even if you don’t believe it.” He adds a firm “You are, Kei,” when he sees the way Tsukishima can’t look at him anymore.
He wipes another wave of tears away from Tsukishima’s face as they start rolling down his own. Not once does he take his eyes off of Tsukishima’s. His smile is rickety on his face, but just as genuine as the hundreds of grins that have shown before when he catches himself watching Tsukishima.
Tsukishima puts his hands over Kuroo’s and his face crumbles, hard as he tries to keep it together. “I’m just so tired, Tetsu.”
“I know. And that’s okay. It’s okay. You can – you can take as much time as you want, really. You always have a home with me. I promise.”
Kuroo kisses his cheek. “And I love you so damn much, Kei.”
Tsukishima rests his forehead against Kuroo’s shoulder, ignores the shocks of pain running up and down his spine from the abysmal sitting position he’s in. He heaves a sigh; the weight of stress that leaves with it could easily break his back. He feels Kuroo’s steady breathing as his chest rises and falls. Solid ground, for now.
“I love you too, Tetsu.”