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Once Was Lost

Chapter Text

It was so quick, the meeting of their eyes. So quick and, seemingly, unimportant. Until they recognized.
-

It was at Kenma’s usual spot. “Café fille” close to campus, close to his apartment. A halfway mark. It was hard to find. He only found it by skirting around the edges of the busy main road leading to the college campus. A tiny basement coffeeshop on a street full of trees and closed businesses. It was a miracle the coffee shop was still open. It was a cozy place with brick walls, good tea and a corner where there was always a band playing something mellow with unintelligible lyrics. It opened early in the morning and closed late at night, perfect for writers and college students. For anyone anywhere. For Kenma it was a safe quiet spot where he could be left alone. Was.

He walked in around eight that morning. He only had one class that day, philosophy. It started at noon and he had work to do before then. He took a seat at a table in the corner with his usual order and began to work. About half an hour in he heard a few people come in, they were different than the others. Loud.

“Akaashi works here, I don’t think he’s here now though. But damn bro! You gotta see this kid. He’ so hot I almost barfed when I first saw him.”

“Why the hell would you barf if he’s hot?”

“Because it’s intimidating!”

Kenma ignored them and reached for his bag to grab his headphones, he’d been so immersed in his work he forgot to plug them in. All of the sudden he felt hot, like he was being watched. He looked up, bangs falling in his face and he met his eyes.

Kuroo was ignoring the spiky haired man who was still talking beside him, he locked eyes with Kenma and dropped his bag at his friends feet.

“Kuroo what the he-” His friend didn’t get a chance to continue. Kuroo quickly made his way over to Kenma.

Kenma abandoned finding his headphones and scooched his chair out, beginning to stand.

Kuroo stopped in front of him, Kenma stood up and they looked at each other.

“Shit.” Kuroo stated, mouth agape.

“My thoughts exactly.” Kenma muttered.

Without warning Kuroo leaned over and hugged Kenma tightly, Kenma slowly wrapped his arms around Kuroo.

“It’s been so long.” Kuroo whispered.

“Yeah…” Kenma answered.

They stood like that for awhile until Kuroo’s spiky haired friend made his way over, coffee in one hands and Kuroo’s bag in the other. Kuroo let go and they continued to stare at eachother.

“Hello yes, I was wondering if I might inquire on what the fuck that was.”

“You cut your hair.” Kuroo said.

Kenma picked at his hair. “I did. You got taller… somehow.”

Kuroo laughed. “You got a bit taller too kitten.”

Kenma blushed at the old nickname.

“And I’m pregnant!” The two stopped to stare at Kuroo’s friend, who, seemed pleased that he finally caught their attention. A few other heads in the coffee shop turned and scowled, upset with the ruined atmosphere.

“What the fuck Bokuto.” Kuroo said, more than asked.

“Hi, yes, what is happening?” Bokuto asked, setting Kuroo’s bag on the floor.

Kenma laughed quietly. Kuroo rolled his eyes. They pulled up chairs to Kenma’s tiny table.

“Kenma this is Bokuto, he’s an idiot if you can’t tell, sadly I depend upon him to pay a third of our rent.”

Bokuto reached out and vigorously shook Kenma’s hand. “Bonjour, Bokuto, child prodigy, current average guy. Unfortunately for me I am in constant company of this ruffian,” He gestured to Kuroo, who chuckled. “And you might be...?”

Kenma smiled shyly, “I’m Kenma. Kuroo and I…” What to say? “We grew up together.”

The three sat in an awkward silence. “I’m gonna go get a scone…” Bokuto said, clearing his throat and leaving.

Kuroo leaned in. “So you go to this university huh?”

“Yes. I thought you were going somewhere else?”

Kuroo chuckled sadly, looking at his hands. “I transferred due to some, uh, unfortunate circumstances. But I knew Bokuto from volleyball and he said this place was good and, well yeah.”

“What are you majoring in?”

“Undecided.”

“Same.”

“Hey can I give you my phone number? I’m sorry I got it changed at my old school and I was just so caught up with everything I didn’t get a chance to text you or anything.”

Not that you would have anyway. Kenma thought, his past rushing up to greet him. “Sure.”

The two exchanged numbers and just like that Kuroo and Bokuto had to leave for their next class. And Kenma was alone. He shook his head, wondering if it had all been a dream.

Chapter Text

The two young friends laid in the field behind the school, the volleyball team had wished Kuroo and the others good luck in high school and had gone. Kenma stayed behind and the two travelled to their spot.

It was a beautiful day, bright blue sky with small tufts of cloud floating in the sky. Everything was coated in a golden summer glow and a refreshing breeze quietly whispered around them.

Kenma should’ve felt happy as he bathed in the warm sunlight with his best friend, but he didn’t. Kuroo was going off to high school and Kenma had one more year of middle school to complete. Kuroo dozed beside him, completely content.

Kenma sat up and brushed the grass off his clothes. Kuroo opened one eye. “What’s up, Kenma?”

Kenma sighed, picking at the grass beneath his feet. “Nothing really.”

“Aren’t you happy? It’s summer!” Kuroo sat up, grinning, “you can come over every day, I have all sorts of fun stuff planned for us.”

Kenma smiled a small smile. “Yeah.” He frowned after a moment. “But when summer is over, you’ll go to high school.”

Kuroo’s expression darkened as well. “Is that why you’re worried?” He whispered.

Kenma looked away, bottom lip trembling. “You’ll make new friends, I know you will. You’re super cool.” He muttered.

Kuroo was quiet for a moment and then he threw his head back and laughed.

“Don’t laugh at me!” Kenma whipped his head around, tears forming in his eyes.

“I’m not! Sorry Kenma, I just can’t see myself forgetting all about you for some other crappy new friends.” He slung his arm around Kenma’s shoulders and pulled him in. “You’re my best friend Kenma. Even if I make new friends, you’re still top priority and then when you come join me I’ll have a whole group waiting to welcome you.”

Kenma’s eyes widened and he pressed his face into Kuroo’s shirt. Kuroo wrapped both arms around Kenma and hugged him tightly.

“I love you Kuroo…” Kenma whispered, slightly hoping Kuroo wouldn’t hear.

Kuroo stiffened up for a minute and then he took Kenma’s chin in his hands. He looked into his eyes and softly kissed him.

Kenma’s eyes went wide for a moment, but he kissed him back. They shyly drew apart and Kuroo said. “I love you too Kenma, now lets go to my house and play mario kart or somethin’.” The two lept up and made their way out of the field.

Chapter Text

It had been a long day and Kenma wanted nothing more than to just collapse in bed. But he had homework to do and roommates to cook for. He got home before both of them, luckily, and quietly began to heat up some leftovers. They’d complain but it was all Kenma had energy for. He wanted to rest up on his day off before going back to work tomorrow and becoming even more busy.

They tumbled through the door just as Kenma was finishing up his own meal.

“Kenmaa!” Hinata yelled, bouncing towards him and giving him a gigantic hug.

“Uh, hey Hinata.” Kenma said.

“Aw leftovers again?” Lev said, peering into the pot on the stove. “Oh well. Hinata’s just happy because he exchanged numbers with that guy he likes.

Hinata’s face turned bright red. “Lev! Maybe I’m just happy to see Kenma!” He stubbornly stuck his thumb at where Kenma was standing only to discover that Kenma had already retreated to his room.

Kenma loved his roommates, he was lucky to have two of his friends to live with him rather than a stranger in a dorm, but they could be overwhelming at times. He sighed and propped himself up with a few pillows, beginning his homework.
Thankfully there wasn’t too much, just a reading, and the outline and thesis of his metaphysics paper. He finished the reading quickly, highlighter marks staining his hands, and his outline was partially done. Just as he was finishing up with a few last touches of the outline, he remembered Kuroo.

Kenma wasn’t sure if he should text him or not. Was Kuroo sincere when he asked him to text? He didn’t know if he was just trying to be nice or really wanted to reconnect. Kenma sighed and decided to text him. Kuroo thought he was sneaky, but in reality was quite out there with his emotions. Kenma would be able to tell pretty quick if Kuroo really cared.

-

To: Kuroo
Hey it’s Kenma.
[9:15]

From: Kuroo
kenma!! i wasn’t sure if u’d text me or not lol
[9:20]

From: Kuroo
sorry that was awkward… what’s up??
[9:21]

To: Kuroo
Haha it’s okay, I just finished my homework and I’m ready to collapse. T^T, you?
[9:25]

From: Kuroo
SHIT i havent even started mine lmao- i was just playing video games w bokuto an daichi (roommates ;\\)
[9:26]

To: Kuroo
Hey is this your second year here? Just wondering.
[9:30]

From: Kuroo
nope, i officially left my old university after the first semester but i took a lot of time off b4 actually coming here. u a 2nd yr?
[9:31]

To: Kuroo
No, I also took a year off before coming to college.
[9:36]

From: Kuroo
y?
[9:37]

Kenma stopped. He didn’t really know what to say, mental health reasons? Truthfully, Kenma had locked himself away in his room after Kuroo left and had a nervous breakdown. He took the rest of his schooling online and had to quit the volleyball team. It was some of the worst times of his life, he thought it was embarrassing and didn’t really want to tell Kuroo.

From: Kuroo
sorry 4 prying… u don’t have 2 ansr
[9:43]

To: Kuroo
It’s okay.
[9:46]

That basically ended their conversation. Kenma threw his phone onto the floor and flopped over onto his bed. How could someone who was so close grow so far away? He sighed and only hoped that things could someday resemble the tight relationship they had before.

Chapter Text

The nights without him were stressful, not because he was gone but because he was constantly sneaking in. Kenma sighed after telling Kuroo his dad said no to the sleepover, Kuroo’s eyes lit up with the spark of the challenge.

Not that it was a challenge, Kenma’s window faced the backyard and was on the first floor. Kenma’s father’s room was at the opposite side of the house and he usually retired for bed early, when he was sober.

All Kenma had to do was wait. He finished up the homework he had for the weekend and neatly placed it on his desk. He tidied the room to please his father and paced the floors, waiting. He worried about Kuroo, it was late and he didn’t know what could be lurking out in the dark. And even if nothing happened then, if Kuroo wasn’t careful he could trigger the motion sensored light out front and wake up Kenma’s father. If he knocked on the window too hard it could crack, it was an old house, and although Kenma’s father had horrible hearing, he was very observant when it came to his home. Kenma didn’t want to be punished and he didn’t want Kuroo to be punished.

In spite of Kenma’s worries, Kuroo made it in safely. He quickly shone his flashlight in the window and Kenma eased the window open. Kuroo climbed in gently and closed the window behind him. He leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Kenma’s forehead.

“Hey kitten.”

Kenma crossed his arms, pretending to be unhappy to see him. “It’s too risky for you to do this Kuroo, if he found out we’d bot-”

Kuroo wrapped his arms around Kenma. “I won’t stay long don’t worry, I just miss you that’s all.” He let Kenma go and held him out in front of him. “Even though you’re in highschool now I barely see you, sure there’s volleyball, but none of them know about us-”

“And they never will.”

“So we don’t really get any quality time.”

Kenma sighed and hopped on the bed. Kuroo made his way past Kenma’s desk. “Wow you’re much better at doing homework than I am.”

“If it isn’t done by Saturday morning he’ll get mad and will double my chores and not let me see anyone.” Kenma said with a frown.

“Damn that sucks.”

“It’s not too bad. Since I’m a good student.” Kenma smirked at Kuroo. “Unlike some people.”

“Hey shut up!” Kuroo flopped onto the bed and grabbed Kenma, tickling him.

“Ah! I’m sorry!” Kenma giggled and tossed over.

Kuroo let him go and sat up, pulling Kenma into his lap. They sat like that for awhile, comfortable in their silence, just happy to be together.

Suddenly Kenma heard it, the heavy pounding footsteps of his father.

“Kuroo!” He hissed, pulling himself away. “Hide!”

Kuroo’s eyes widened and he dove off the bed, rolling underneath just in time. Kenma’s father shoved the door open, beer in hand. The darkened room cast shadows over him, Kenma couldn’t see his face and was unable to tell how drunk or focused he was.

“Kenma.” He growled in his terrifying low voice.

“Yes?” Kenma practically squeaked.

“Homework?”

“Completed.”

“Show me.”

Kenma gestured to the desk, his father turned and began to leaf through papers. And then Kenma heard it, Kuroo began to sniffle and then, suddenly, he sneezed.

Kenma’s father whipped around.

“What was that?” He demanded, eyes narrowed.

“Nothing.” Kenma said quickly. “I’m sick.” He sniffed for good measure.

Kenma’s father stood for a moment, contemplating. He took a swig of beer. “Gross.” And with that he was gone.

Kenma breathed a sigh of relief and stuck his face over the side of the bed. “Kuroo I told you it was too risky. You almost got caught that time.”

Kuroo kissed his upside-down face and smiled. “Worth it.” He wriggled out from underneath the bed. “Tell the old man to add dusting to your list of chores.” He laughed quietly, but Kenma could see how shaken he really was.

Kenma walked up and nuzzled his head into Kuroo’s chest. “You’d better go.” He sighed sadly. Kuroo kissed the top of his head and with that he was gone.

Chapter Text

Kenma yawned as he exited the classroom, it had been a six hour class, most of it lecturing. As he walked down the hall he scribbled a note on his hand reminding him to work on his metaphysics paper for philosophy. The deadline was fast approaching and this paper counted as 60 percent of his grade. He wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings and before he knew it he smashed straight into someone.

“Oh! Sorr-” He looked up right into the face of Kuroo, a smiling Bokuto beside him. “Oh hey Kuroo, sorry about that.” He stammed, blushing slightly.

“No problem Kenma. What’s up?”

“Just got out of a six hour class, it sucked.” He chuckled, rubbing his probably messed up hair.

“Ohh those are the worst. Kuroo and I are going to grab some tacos, wanna come?” Bokuto chimed in. Kuroo blushed and narrowed his eyes at him. Did he not want Bokuto to invite him?

“Uh, I can’t, I’m pretty exhausted an-”
“Aww, next time then.” Bokuto said, trailing off, “Kuroo! I see Akaashi! I’ll be right back.” And with that he was gone.

“Hey Kenma,” Kuroo said after a short pause, “are you doing anything next Friday? If you want you could come over and meet the rest of my roommates and stuff. It’d be chill, nothing too intense.” He looked at his shoes, face bright red.

Kenma’s heart raced. He didn’t know what this meant, it seemed just a few minutes ago that Kuroo wanted nothing to do with Kenma and here he was asking him to hangout?

“Sorry Kuroo I have this giant philosophy paper due soon and I need to spend all possible time working on it and it’s really important to my grade an-”

“Whoa it’s okay,” Kuroo said, stopping Kenma’s rushed excuse, “we can do it some other time. What’s your paper on?”

Kenma felt his knees begin to shake. “Uh it’s on Aristotle’s ‘On Interpretation’ and about if his argument on fatalism can be sustained.” He felt his words rush together and felt it hard to get the air out of his throat.

Kuroo’s brows were knitted together in concern. “Hey Kenma are you okay? You seem really anx-” He was about to place his hand on Kenma’s shoulder when Kenma blurted out, “I’mreallysorryIgottogoseeyou” and dashed off.

-

Kenma sighed in relief when neither of his roommates were home. He burrowed into his bed and pulled his knees up to his chest, breathing in and out. In and out. He did this a few times before pulling himself out of the protective shield of the covers.

He listed five things he could see, hear and feel. He did this to ground himself, it was a technique Kuroo taught him a long time ago, back when they were kids. Kuroo also taught him how to breathe, held him when he cried, always knew when anything was wrong.

Everything in his life linked back to Kuroo, from what he liked to do, how he thought and moved, how he interpreted this world around him. They were connected, no doubt about it.

Kenma sighed and rolled over, alone in this apartment. He could only think to himself, wondering how they could’ve let things get so fucked up.

-

After some tea and a long bath Kenma felt better. He didn’t know why Kuroo had given him so much anxiety. Before now all of their feelings to each other had been crystal clear, even in bad times. Now? Kenma was so uncertain, unconfident.

He picked up his phone to see check his messages.

From: Kuroo
u okay? u seemed kind of shaky
[4:30]

From: Kuroo
sorry to pry ha..i was just worried about u
[4:45]

From: Kuroo
goddamn y am i so awkward lmao. i just hope ur okay
[4:49]

From: Kuroo
i should probably leave u alone, im sorry if i made u uncomfortable in any way today? if u didn’t want to hangout it is totally fine. u don’t even need to text me back if u don’t want to. i mean i’d love 2 kno if ur okay but take care of urself, kenma.
[5:00]

It almost crushed Kenma to see those, Kuroo cared so much and was so open about it, while it practically paralyzed Kenma to face him. He quickly typed a response.

To: Kuroo
Sorry for the late response, you did nothing wrong! I’ve just had a busy week and was pretty exhausted after class. I’m sorry that I can’t hangout next Friday but we should definitely catch up soon.
[5:45]

Kenma sighed at his obvious lie, Kenma wasn’t sick, not even that tired. Kuroo could tell plain as day when he had anxiety. But he didn’t know if Kuroo wanted that kind of closeness in this new, strange, relationship.

To: Shoyo
Hey. When will you be home?
[5:49]

From: Shoyo
idk probably around 6:30? why? :))
[5:53]

To: Shoyo
No reason, just bored. I know Lev will be home really late tonight and yeah.
[5:55]

From: Shoyo
don’t worry! i will save you from your loneliness and boredom kenma!!!!!!!! when i get home we can watch a movie and make popcorn!! :D
[6:00]

Kenma smiled, comforted by his small energetic friend. Although he didn’t have Kuroo he at least had others who sort of got him. Feeling refreshed, he went on with his evening.

Chapter Text

“Kenma, wait up, I’ll be done talking with coach in a few minutes.” Kuroo had said. It had been half an hour. Kenma didn’t mind waiting though, he didn’t want to go home and he had brought a game with him to keep him busy.

He was startled when two arms wrapped around him, he pulled out his earbuds and looked up at Kuroo. He glanced around quickly to make sure nobody saw.

“Sorry it took so long.” Kuroo sighed and sat down on the bench next to him. Kenma noticed how tired he looked. He felt guilty. Finals were coming up and Kuroo spent all his time studying and playing volleyball, and still managed to sneak in and see Kenma at night. He must be exhausted.

“It’s fine.” Kenma replied. “You should really get some rest, you look horrible.”

Kuroo chuckled. They sat there for a moment, savoring their time together.

Kuroo broke the silence. “Coach told me I’ve been suggested as captain next year.”

“What? Kuroo that’s amazing!”

“Yeah…” He sighed and rubbed the back of his messy hair, “but he said that it can only happen if I get good scores on my final exams. I’m kinda worried.”

Kenma sat in silence, guilt washing over him. “Stop coming at night Kuroo. You need your rest.”

Kuroo looked at Kenma, surprised. “But-”

“No buts. You can come over after finals but now you need your sleep. I can help you study at lunch.” Kenma jumped up. “I’ll make you a study guide for physics, I know you have trouble with it, my honors class is covering the same material right now an-”

Kenma didn’t get to finish, before he knew it Kuroo had him in his arms. “Thank you Kenma.” He breathed into his hair. “You just cleared all my stress. You’re the best.”

Kenma glanced around frantically. What if someone had walked in? What would they have thought? Kuroo then let him loose and tilted his chin back, kissing him softly on the lips. Kenma pulled away and turned around.

“Kuroo!” He hissed, “what if someone had seen that? You know what could happen to me? To you? Do you know what he-”

“Kenma.” Kuroo went wide eyed and covered his mouth. “I’m so sorry, I forgot.”

Kenma held his head with his hands and looked in all the windows near him. It could be anyone, a teacher, a janitor, a parent, a student. If one person uttered a word of this to his father...
“Nobody saw.” Kuroo placed a hand on Kenma’s shoulder. “And if they did they probably wouldn’t even tell your dad. Stop freaking out.”

Kenma jerked away. “You don’t understand.” He grabbed his bag and ran off, fighting the panic rising in his chest.

-

“You’re late.” Kenma’s father’s voice boomed the minute he walked in the door. “The schedule your coach sent confirms it. Where were you.”

Kenma gulped. His father stood in the kitchen, casually leaning against the sink with a beer in one hand and Kenma’s school schedule in the other.

“I stayed behind to help clean up. I’m sorry it took so long, I should have called.” Kenma said quietly, not meeting his eyes.

“Folding nets takes 45 minutes?” His father narrowed his eyes.

“We have a home match on Saturday, coach wanted everything to be cleaned up and organized.” Thank God Kenma remembered the match, he always thought up excuses and back up excuses for situations like this.

“Hm.” His father sipped his beer for a moment, analysing Kenma’s defense. “Well get to your chores then.” He walked over to the window and placed his beer bottle in the recycling bin.

“Yes sir.” Kenma hung his bag up by the door and was about to go to the next room when his father spoke again.

“Disgusting.” Kenma turned to see his father looking out the window with his arms crossed and an angry expression on his face.

“Excuse me?” Kenma squeaked.

His father gestured to the window. “Our neighbors. Look at those faggots. How dare they? Come into our clean neighborhood with that shit.” He shook his head. “Someone should teach them a lesson about doing that in public.” He spat, closing the blinds.

Kenma paused before running upstairs to begin his chores, before he started he looked out the windows up there to see what his father was talking about. The neighbors he referenced were a gay couple. They were sitting on their porch swing with their arms wrapped around each other. Kenma thought he might be sick.

-

From: Kuroo
i’m rlly sorry abt earlier- it wont happen again.
[7:30]

To: Kuroo
It’s okay. Get some rest.
[7:35]