Kenma didn’t realize how different high school would be after Kuroo graduated.
Sure, there was the transition from second- to third-year that came with all of its silly little changes. Being in a different hallway. Having the talk on honorifics again with the new first years. The constant pressure of ‘think about your career goals’ from the counselors.
Kenma didn’t realize just how lucky he was to have the team behind his back until after Kuroo graduated. He never missed the whispers around him; the way people would always judge him. Those kinds of things usually didn’t bug Kenma, but for some reason they just got worse and worse. He noticed them more.
It was all thanks to Kuroo that he learned to block them out, really.
But now Kuroo wasn't here.
Then the strangest thing happened.
Almost everyone was positive Kenma would be off at that point, that he would become even more introverted and shut-in. But then the opposite happened. If anything, without Kuroo Kenma was able to function just as well. He went to school and volleyball practice. He went to hang out with the team occasionally. He even took a weekend trip out to Sendai to visit Shouyou. The voices followed Kenma wherever he went, but he didn’t give a shit, something that seemed to delight Lev and Sou, who were always quick to defend Kenma until he told them to leave it.
The strange thing was that after Kuroo left Kenma seemed to be living his life better than ever. He still preferred going home rather than being around people on some days. He still had the lowest work ethic of the team. He still played video games during his lunch break. But Kenma was okay.
Everything was great, actually.
. . . . . . . . . .
Most people assumed that after he graduated Kuroo Tetsurou was more or less completely 100% past everything that happened in high school. He gave off an air of confidence and maturity that professors said most people his age didn’t seem to possess. Kuroo was never late to class, always had an easygoing smile on his face, gave it his all at volleyball practice, and was polite to the upperclassmen. Hell, he even remembered to pay the bills for the apartment he and his friends rented out!
So it was no surprise that most people assumed Kuroo Tetsurou was beyond petty thoughts.
Only his best friend, Bokuto Koutarou, knew just how wrong they were.
Kuroo had one fatal flaw. One thing that was his downfall. And that one thing—person, actually—happened to be named Kozume Kenma.
What Bokuto noticed since Day 1 of being Kuroo’s roommate was that he was beyond over-protective of his boyfriend. Which was fine at first. Cute, even. But after the first two months even Bokuto was getting a bit tired of it.
Take today for example.
The two of them were spending the day locked inside the library studying for their end of term exams. Bokuto was half-heartedly trying to figure out what the strange symbols on his economics paper while texting Akaashi (who was slowly becoming irritated by being interrupted during his lunch break). Kuroo, meanwhile, was being even less productive, staring at his phone.
Bokuto finally interrupted Kuroo with a, “Dude, chill. He’ll text you back someday.”
“I know,” Kuroo replied, putting the phone down. “I’m just worried about him.”
“Bro, he’s fine,” Bokuto sighed, rolling his eyes. “You know Kenma. He’s probably just playing video games at his desk like he always does. Or eating with the team on the roof. With his game, but still! Hell, you’re the one who always complained to me about how he would never leave the room to eat with you! You should be happy he doesn’t want to go now. That means less people ogling at him.”
When Kuroo didn’t reply, Bokuto groaned and went back to staring at the stack of textbooks in front of him. “How’s that economics study guide going for you?”
“Huh?” Kuroo looked at Bokuto’s miserable form and smirked. “Are you kidding? I finished that thing last night. It was easy.”
“What?!” Bokuto shouted and sat up straight, then immediately apologized to all the glaring students. He lowered his voice and leaned it. “Dude, c’mon, let me see your answers. I can’t fail econ.”
“Maybe if you didn’t fall asleep in class you’d be doing a lot better at it. Tell me again why you’re trying to get a business degree?”
“Because it’s useful? And don’t laugh; my advisor suggested it! He said I’m ‘charisma’ and I would make a good salesman if I don’t go pro!”
He was shushed one again by the girls at the next table.
“The word you’re looking for is ‘charismatic’ bro. ‘Charisma’ is a noun.”
“Oh, shut up smarty pants!”
“Excuse me,” snapped one of the girls. “If you’re going to be so loud, could you please move?”
Bokuto looked absolutely defeated. “Sorry, sorry!”
Kuroo was trying his best not to burst out into laughter. He took a shuddering breath as Bokuto smacked his forehead against the table and groaned.
“How you holding up?” he asked.
“My brain’s mushy. Dammit Kuroo, if I fail this class I’ll be suspended from the team. The only reason I got into this smarmy school is because of that volleyball scholarship. I’ll be lucky if I don’t become some dropout failure.”
Ah, one of Bokuto’s swings would come if he didn’t lighten the mood. Kuroo decided not to tell Bokuto the definition of smarmy and instead went to comforting him.
“You’ll be fine. Just think, once this study guide is done we’ll head over to that ramen place we’ve been meaning to try all week. Just the two of us, some one-on-one celebrating.”
“…Only if you let me see yours.”
“I’ll do anything! C’mon, just a peek! Pretty please?”
“No need to beg. I left my notes back in my room. If you want, we can head over there and grab some lunch. Besides, I think we’re an unwelcome presence here.”
They looked at all the other students who were actually studying. Yep, probably best that they left them alone. Both of them were getting hungry anyway, so perhaps it was a good idea to just call it quits until they got back to their apartment.
“Will Sawamura be back?” Bokuto asked as they exited the building.
Kuroo shrugged. “Probably not? He said he was going out to have coffee with some friends.”
“Think he’ll be back in time for dinner? I know ramen’s his favorite.”
Bokuto’s eyes suddenly flashed with mirth. He bumped his shoulder against Kuroo’s. “Hey, I’ve got the best idea ever.”
“I think we should spike Sawamura’s ramen tonight with that crazy spicy stuff his friend—what’s his name, Sugawara?—sent us. The stuff he uses in his food that Sawamura hates? If we get a small enough bottle it’ll be easy to pour into his ramen when he’s not looking.”
“You are the absolute worst.” Kuroo’s face reflected Bokuto’s glee. “We’ve gotta do it!”
“Woohoo, hey hey hey! We’re gonna have to make a game plan then!”
“Oh, you bet—”
Kuroo’s phone chose to buzz at that moment. Bokuto instantly knew it was from Kenma from the way Kuroo’s eyes lit up.
“It’s—” he started.
“I know,” Bokuto interrupted. “Kenma. Go ahead and talk to him. He’s only got a bit of time left before he has to go back to class.”
As Kuroo began to furiously type away on his phone Bokuto pulled his out as well.
help!!!! he’s teksting knma again
Again? Is this healthy? I feel like every other time we talk it’s you complaining about how attached Kuroo is.
idk man, its gettn outta hand here
Sounds like it, considering almost every text I get from you now is a complaint.
It’s fine, I understand. I have to go to class, but call me when you’re done studying.
Bokuto quickly typed out about seventeen emojis before pocketing his phone and following Kuroo out the door. As happy as Bokuto was that Kenma texted back, he knew this was too much.
. . . . . . . . . .
Practice was finally over. Kenma sighed as he finished changing. Time to go home and relax for a bit. He really didn’t want to do anything but play the new game he’d gotten the week before.
All peaceful thoughts were interrupted by Lev and Inuoka, who came up to Kenma the moment they’d finished cleaning up the gym.
Inuoka came up to him with a grin. “Hey Kenma-san, we were all planning to go down to the convenience store and get snacks. Taketora-san said he’s going to treat us today!”
Kenma barely considered it before saying no, but thank you anyway.
Inuoka looked bummed. Lev smiled in confusion.
“Aw, why not?”
“Not in the mood. I just want to go home.”
Fukunaga and Yamamoto, who were exiting the gym then, didn’t seem all too surprised by the answer.
“Have a safe trip home,” Yamamoto said. “And make sure you’re on time to practice tomorrow. And tell Kuroo to stop keeping you up so late talking. It’s bad enough you don’t sleep enough because you play those games all night. How does that look as vice captain?”
Kenma shrugged. “Sorry, Tora.”
“Captain!” shouted Lev, which make Yamamoto puff a bit in pride. “Maybe it’d help if Kenma just went out more! Then he’d be too tired to play games all night!”
Kenma knew Lev was coming from a place of caring, but he just didn’t seem to understand. He didn’t get it like Kuroo did. Still, it didn’t irate him completely.
“I’ll pass,” Kenma said firmly. “Besides, Shouyou wanted to video chat today.”
Inuoka seemed very excited about the news. “Right! Karasuno’s coming next weekend for the training camp, right? Tell him I say hi and that I’m going to work on blocking him again this year now that I’m in the lineup again!”
“And ask him if he’s grown any!” Lev tacked on.
Kenma offered them all a nod before heading home. As he reached the train station his phone buzzed. Kenma ignored it. He didn’t even need to check it to know who it was. He did check it eventually, when he’d boarded the train home and took a seat.
hey, hope you’re doing well
Kenma sighed and leaned back against the window. As much as he was dating Kuroo and they’re in a long-distance relationship it was still a bit annoying for him to have this constant contact. Kenma didn’t mind the daily texts before bed (he’d given up his games for this). He didn’t mind the fact that they got together every other week for dinner (even though the train ride was long and crowded). Hell, he didn't mind the public affection Kuroo gave him when they were together.
What was getting on Kenma’s nerves was just how clingy Kuroo had become since graduation.
They’d talked about long-distance dating for quite some time (mostly because Kuroo wanted to, even after Kenma said he was okay with it). They agreed on what they would do, how they would communicate, the amount of time they would spend together both on and off screen. But it was still annoying that Kuroo literally wanted to act as though he was right next to Kenma 24/7 like he used to be.
Kenma understood. He missed Kuroo too. He missed late-night cuddles and kisses, holding hands, their little snarky arguments. But that didn’t mean Kuroo could just keep texting him like this.
Kenma pulled out his phone again.
on my way home. we’ll still call tonight.
There was a reply, but Kenma was getting off the train so he once again ignored it and went home.
. . . . . . . . . .
“He’s fine, Kuroo!” Daichi insisted.
The three of them were sitting in the new ramen restaurant waiting for their orders. Kuroo had been staring at his phone for the past five minutes. Daichi read the text over his shoulder.
“Look, he said he’ll call tonight. And what’s the point of texting Kenma-kun now? We’re all about to have dinner together anyway!”
He knew that the former Karasuno captain was right. Kuroo put his phone in his pocket, which earned him a nod of approval.
“Kenma-kun is fine. I know you’re worried about him because you two were so close. But you were the one telling all of us that he has a good group of friends on the team now. And he’s good friends with our Hinata-kun.” Daichi gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “So let’s just relax a bit, eat this ramen, and ace all of our exams, alright.”
“Yeah!” Bokuto shouted enthusiastically.
Just then their order number was called.
“I’ll get it,” Daichi announced, standing. He was too kind for his own good.
As he went up to the counter, Bokuto nudged Kuroo.
“Kuroo, bro, give it to me.”
Kuroo blinked at Bokuto’s outstretched hand in confusion. “Give you what now?”
“The hot sauce. I texted you about it before I went to the gym. I asked you to bring it so we could prank Sawamura, remember?”
Oh shit. Kuroo gave Bokuto a weak smile, guilt written all over his face.
“Um, sorry man. I never opened that text.”
“YOU DIDN’T BRING IT?!” Bokuto wailed, loud enough that everyone around them turned to stare. He hardly cared as he stared down at Kuroo and pointed. “Why didn’t you bring it? We agreed this afternoon we were going to prank Sawamura when we were leaving the library! What gives?”
“I was distracted.”
“If you dare say it was because you were texting Kenma before his volleyball practice, bro, I swear to god—”
One look at Kuroo and Bokuto knew that was the reason. He felt incredibly betrayed. The moment Daichi returned to the table with their ramen Bokuto was clinging to his shirt.
“Sawamura! Kuroo totally forgot to bring the hot sauce we were going to spike your ramen with because he was too busy texting his boyfriend. Tell him this is getting out of control! We couldn’t even do one thing because of his relationship!”
Kuroo was about to argue back that Bokuto was overreacting, but one look at Daichi’s barely-contained anger made him halt.
“You were going to what?” Daichi asked, voice eerily calm.
Bokuto swallowed. “Um, yeah. Just for good fun. With that spicy sauce Sugawara likes, ya know?
“And before you get mad at us, this was mostly Sugawara’s idea! He was the one who gave us the sauce. He even winked, Sawamura! Don’t you know how gorgeous he is? Everyone would be weak to a wink from him!”
As the two got into an argument, Kuroo stared back down at his phone. Still nothing. Well, they were to talk in a couple of hours later. Everything would be fine.
. . . . . . . . .
It was always the same. Kenma would come home after practice. Sometimes he would go out for a bit with the team before heading home, sometimes not. Then he’d have dinner with his mother and go to his room. Relax for however much time he had. Then Kenma would call Kuroo.
Which was precisely what he did.
Kuroo picked up on the first ring.
“Who else?” he said humorlessly, but a smile was tugging at the corner of his lips.
On the other end Kuroo was chuckling. “Good point. I know it’s your number.”
“How are Bokuto-san and Sawamura-san?”
Kenma frowned. “What happened?”
“Nothing, nothing! Basically I promised Bokuto I would help him prank Sawamura today, but we both forgot to bring the hot sauce we were going to pour into his ramen. Needless to say Bokuto feels betrayed and Sawamura’s mouth was saved.”
“I feel bad for Sawamura living with you two,” said Kenma.
Kuroo gasped. “Rude! We all get along great! Even if Oikawa can be a bit of a handful on bad days.
“Well, enough about me. How have you been? Not too stressed with your final year of high school, are you?”
“I’m fine, Kuro.”
“Are you sure?”
Ah, there it was. The constant questioning. Was Kuroo really dumb enough not to take the hint that ‘I’m fine’ actually meant ‘I’m fine?’ Kenma was fine. School was stressful, yes. Volleyball sometimes helped and sometimes didn’t. Going out with people proved to be a hit and miss experience as it always had been.
But Kenma was fine.
“I worry about you,” said Kuroo on the other end. “I never see you anymore and you don’t tell me what’s going on.”
“You know most of the people I’m around, Kuro. Besides, they’re bearable. Lev’s still an idiot, and really bad at receives. Not to mention without Yaku-san he’s been even more out of control. Though Tora’s a good captain.”
Chuckling. “I can imagine.”
The two talked like that for another hour. By the end Kenma was tired and the stack of homework on his desk was not any less than it had been since he’d gotten home.
“I have to get going,” he said. “I have homework, and morning practice.”
“What, not going to skip?” Kuroo asked. “I’m not there to force you to go anymore!”
“I like volleyball,” said Kenma simply. “I don’t want to skip practice anymore.”
Kuroo stopped talking. Kenma just said he liked volleyball. It was a monumental moment, but somehow it made Kuroo taste bile in the back of his throat. He had no idea why.
“I’ll see you this weekend, right?” he said instead.
“No,” Kenma reminded him, “the first summer training weekend’s coming up, so I’m busy.”
There was a moment of silence. Kenma frowned. “Kuro?”
He swallowed back the strange feeling building in his throat. “I miss you.”
“I know.” Kenma turned to check the time. Almost eleven. “I have to go. I promised Shouyou we’d talk for a bit before he sleeps.”
“Oh, alright.” Kenma could hear Kuroo shift over in bed. “I’ll see you in two weeks.”
“See you then.”
“I love you.”
Kenma smiled. “Me too.”
They exchanged quick goodnights before hanging up.
. . . . . . . . .
“What are we doing here?”
Bokuto just laughed and clapped Kuroo on the back. Hard. He would definitely bruise; even a ‘gentle’ pat from a spiker of Bokuto’s level wasn’t anywhere near as controlled as the idiot thought they were.
The two were standing in Nekoma High School. It was the weekend after exam week. Bokuto had said the two of them would go somewhere cool, but he hadn’t expected his former high school a ‘cool place’ to hang out.
Bokuto was grinning. “Remember how Kenma was telling you he couldn’t meet this weekend because he had the weekend training camp? Well, I thought it would make sense that we come see him instead of the other way around.
“Besides, it’s almost the end of the day. They’re all going to be heading home soon. And since Nekoma is hosting it, you’re even closer to home than usual! It’s a win-win!”
Kuroo hated to admit that he was happy to be here if it meant he could see his boyfriend.
“Besides, Akaashi was part of the planning committee, and he said they’re going to have a small party at this one too. As part of celebrating Coach Nekomata’s last year before retirement!”
That made Kuroo stop dead in his tracks.
“Bo, don’t you dare tell me you came here at this time for the cake.”
Bokuto’s silence was all Kuroo needed.
“It’s not even meant for us!” he shouted. “That’s just rude!”
“Well it’s worth a shot!” Bokuto retorted. “Even since we’ve gotten in university it’s not like we have the kind of money to buy actual good pastries!”
He did have a point, but even Kuroo had higher standards that that.
“I’m going to buy my own food at the convenience store, thank you very much. You can try to steal Akaashi’s slice if you really want to.” Kuroo nodded to Bokuto. “I’m gonna go talk to my old coach. You can do whatever you want, but I’m gonna be in and out.”
Bokuto shrugged. “You do you. Now come on! We haven’t got all day!”
Kuroo allowed himself to be dragged through the gate and back to the gym by his friend. There were a few buses parked outside of building. Good. That meant all the teams had come, including Karasuno. Seeing Tsukishima would be a good distraction from Kuroo’s rising nerves.
The two peeked into the gym. The two courts were set up. Fukurodani was currently warming up to play Ubugawa. Shinzen and Karasuno’s game was currently ending, both teams tied at 23 points. Nekoma was sitting out for water, looking exhausted. However, Lev and Inuoka perked up when they saw the two people by the door.
“Kuroo-san!” they shouted, running over.
He greeted them, smiling as he was then dragged over to the rest of the team. Despite the unwelcome visit no one really seemed upset that he was there. Coach Nekomata and Kenma were giving him confused looks, but Kuroo was distracted by everyone else asking questions about college.
Bokuto, meanwhile, was heading over to the court Fukurodani was setting up in.
“A-KA-A-SHI!” he called jovially.
The setter seemed barely phased, though there was a look of annoyance on his face.
“I thought you promised me you wouldn’t come,” Akaashi said coolly.
Bokuto laughed. “Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t I come to see my old team, captain? It’s fun to see my old cute kouhai! Hey hey hey!! Oh! Tsukki! What’s up?”
Tsukishima, who was getting water after Karasuno’s match ended (with their win), never looked more enraged in his life. The moment of rage was immediately replaced by a smirk.
“Oh, I didn’t realize graduates were let back in during high school training camps. What, were you cut from your college team and came back here instead? That’s pretty pathetic.”
As Bokuto began arguing with the now second year Kuroo turned to Kenma.
“Hey,” he said, smiling.
Kenma was looking at him, expression surprisingly unreadable. “Why are you here.”
“Bokuto took me here without telling me. I had no idea.”
“No really, why are you here?”
Kuroo smiled. “I’m telling you the truth. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t just wanted to see you. Why, do you not believe me?”
Kenma sighed. “I told you we’d get together next weekend, Kuro.”
He didn’t have time to say more, as Karasuno was preparing for their game against Nekoma. Kenma stood up and joined the rest of the team on the court.
“I’ll talk to you after this. It’s the last set.”
“Okay,” said Kuroo.
Taketora was waving him over. Confused, Kuroo came over.
“I’ve got a weird request,” said the current captain.
Kuroo gestured for him to continue.
“Would you mind doing the old ‘cheer’? Or ‘speech,’ I should say.” When Kuroo hesitated, Taketora added, “We haven’t used it since you’ve graduated. None of the first years know it. But it’s one of the things that made me remember that we’re a strong team not because we have fancy players like Karasuno’s freak combo or Bokuto-san’s strong spikes, but because we work as an organism.
“I know it’s kinda lame to ask it from someone’s who’s probably just popped in to say hi, but—”
“I’d like that,” said Kuroo.
The whole team was huddled together. Kuroo joined them, sidling between Kenma and Taketora. The returners were all smiling at him, while the first years watched with curious eyes. He was once the captain that brought their team to nationals, after all.
He took a deep breath. He thought about the words he’d said hundreds of times, words now etched into him memory forever. These were words that didn’t fit anymore. It wasn’t his team anymore.
Kuroo opened his mouth and spoke.
“You are the blood in your veins.” Some of the people who’d known the speech since last year were a bit surprised by the change of words, but Kuroo continued. “You must flow without stopping. Keep the oxygen moving…”
He looked at Kenma. The setter nodded. “And the brain working.
“Now go out there and show me what Nekoma can do.”
Kuroo went back to the sidelines where Coach Nekomata was sitting. He gestured for Kuroo to join him on the bench. They sat in silence as the game began.
“It’s good to see you again, Kuroo-kun.”
Kuroo smiled. “It’s good to be back. Even if it’s just to say hello.”
His former coach laughed. “Well, say hello all you want! It’ll be the last year you can do that!”
The two ended up talking, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of the team. The defense was still in the works, as it was mostly first years now, but the attacks were much more varied. Lev had obviously been practicing. There was also a good first year that was speedy. Nowhere near as fast as Hinata, Kuroo noted as the middle blocker once again made an incredible quick, but still fast.
Kuroo couldn’t help but watch as Kenma played. It was completely different from the Kenma he remembered. There was a frightening intensity in his entire stance, completely unreadable. He actually reacted when fine plays were made, initiating high-fives with various players. He was panting and sweaty, but smiling as well.
The game ended with Nekoma winning, but barely. Kenma and Hinata were talking from across the net. Kuroo smiled at them fondly.
“Ah,” the coach sighed as he stood up. “Looks like it’s time to say goodbye.”
“It’s good to talk to you again, coach,” said Kuroo as the two teams lined up and bowed.
“And the same to you. You know, Kuroo-kun, you should consider coaching after college. I think you would be very good at it. You’ve always had an eye for detail.”
Kuroo laughed. “Maybe.”
The team was walking over, Kenma hanging back a bit to make some comments with Taketora. The new captain noticed Kuroo watching and excused himself. Kenma seemed confused until he saw Kuroo. He tried to walk past him, but was stopped.
“You look happy,” said the older man.
Kenma just shrugged. Kuroo went to pull him into a hug, but was stopped.
“Don’t,” said Kenma.
“We haven’t seen each other in a while. Is it wrong that I want a hug?”
“Later. Just not now. Besides, we talked on the phone yesterday.”
Why was Kenma being so cold? Kuroo followed him.
“Are you alright?”
And then Kenma—Kenma of all people—snapped.
“I don’t know why you’re acting like this, Kuro. Stop it.”
Kuroo practically growled, his expression going sour. “Oh, I’m acting weird? What about you? You’ve been avoiding me since I’ve gotten here. Look, I get that I came unannounced and all, but I don’t know why you’re so mad.”
Kenma muttered something under his breath. Kuroo frowned.
“I said, ‘You’re being too clingy.’ Stop it.”
“No I’m not,” Kuroo fired back, but even that sounded fake to him.
Am I being too clingy? Shit, have I been making Kenma uncomfortable?
Kenma sighed. “Look, we can talk after all this, but I actually want to hear the coaches’ remarks. As vice captain I need to know what to work on with the team.”
“You seem dedicated,” Kuroo said crossly. “Where’d that come from?”
“Why don’t you like the fact that I like volleyball now?” Kenma retorted, wheeling around to stare Kuroo in the eye. His voice was barely above a whisper. There was a strange intensity in his stare that reminded everyone of a certain orange-haired middle blocker standing just a few meters away.
Kuroo hesitated. Kenma took a step forward, unblinking.
“Well? What’s so bad about me liking volleyball? Isn’t that what you wanted? Isn’t that why you forced me to set for you when we were kids? So you could have someone to play with?” When Kuroo turned away Kenma took another step forward. “Well, Kuro. Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“Of course it is!” he snapped.
Kenma grabbed his face and turned him to stare at him. “Then what’s so wrong about it?”
“Because after all these years it wasn’t me who was able to do that, alright!” Kuroo shouted.
The rest of the team had heard that. There was silence.
“Is everything okay?” Taketora asked.
“Fine,” said Kenma.
“Are you su—”
He nodded. “It’s fine, Tora. I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Once Taketora left, Kenma looked up at Kuroo.
“Come over today.”
It wasn’t a request.
Kenma seemed satisfied. He excused himself to join the rest of the team for their coach’s closing words. Kuroo stood awkwardly outside the school. He took his phone out, but then immediately put it away; he only ever used it to text people, mostly Kenma. So Kuroo leaned against the doorframe. Most people probably would’ve noted how cool and aloof he looked. In all actuality the former captain was trying not to have a breakdown.
Twenty minutes later Nekoma came out the doors wearing their warmups. Some of the underclassmen said heartfelt goodbyes to Kuroo before going their separate ways. Kenma was, as always, the last to leave. He walked down the street towards the train station, Kuroo close behind. Neither of them said a word the whole way to Kenma’s house.
Kuroo greeted Kenma’s mother as he usually did when they entered the house. She was surprised to see him, but said hello warmly and offered to make the boys snacks.
“We’re fine, Mom,” Kenma said quickly. “We’ll come down and get something if we’re hungry.”
“Okay. Will Tetsurou-kun be staying the night? It’s getting late. I don’t want him to miss the train if he’s going home.”
“Yes,” said Kenma before Kuroo could say no. “Is it okay if we go upstairs for a bit and then come down for dinner?”
“Of course. I’ll let you know when your father gets home. It’s good to see you, Tetsurou-kun.”
“Nice to see you as well,” Kuroo replied before his boyfriend guided him out of the room and up the stairs.
Kenma said, “Make sure you tell Bokuto you’re staying here. He’ll starve.”
“He’ll be fine,” said Kuroo. “We have cup noodles in the apartment.”
“I don't know how I feel about that.”
Kuroo laughed humorously as he stepped into the room and shut the door behind him.
It was so strange to be there. He’d been in Kenma’s room hundreds of times over the years and seen every little change it went through: the bigger bed, the new sheets, the growing number of games on the shelf, the meticulous desk with homework laid out on it.
Yet here Kuroo stood, staring at the changes he hadn’t witnessed. There were the expected new games and Nintendo 3DS of course, and Kenma had gotten a new phone that was plugged into the wall charging, but there were other small details. Like the fact that Kenma didn’t hide away his volleyball anymore, having it sitting on the shelf by his desk now. Or the new picture of him and Shouyou from nationals.
Somehow it was completely alien to Kuroo.
Kenma pointed to the bed. “Sit.”
Kuroo obeyed him. He felt the familiar bile rising in his clenching throat. Kenma sat beside him on the bed. They didn’t speak for a painfully long moment.
And Kenma hugged him.
Kuroo immediately relaxed into the embrace. He felt something in his chest tightening, breath coming out in short little gasps.
“Tell me what’s wrong, Kuro,” said Kenma softly, stroking his hair.
“It’s so weird,” Kuroo admitted as he clung onto Kenma like a lifeline. “I didn’t think it’d be this bad. We’ve known each other since elementary school. You’re my best friend. Hell, you’re my boyfriend. I know we talked about it all before I left. I know I agreed that we could do this long distance thing. I thought I would be fine in college, but…”
It’s not enough.
Kenma kissed him softly. Kuroo pushed back with more vigor, tearing up a bit, but he was stopped as Kenma pulled away and looked into his eyes.
“Are you going to be okay?”
Kuroo sniffed and barked out a laugh. “Heh, isn’t that my line?”
“Guess you’re right.”
The two ended up cuddling for several more minutes, just talking about everything relating to Kuroo. No longer was the conversation Kenma-centric. Kuroo told his boyfriend everything: the neediness, the forgetfulness, the pain of not seeing each other every day. And Kenma listened while carding fingers through Kuroo’s messy hair.
For once, everything felt right again.