Usually I like the rain, Kenma thinks dully, brushing biscuit crumbs off of his sweatshirt. He rolls over in bed to peek behind the blinds at the downpour outside— the current status is somewhere in-between a solid sheet of water and a minor inconvenience. If he were to ask Shouyou to rate it on a scale of one to ten, the answer would probably be something along the lines of: whOOOOAHHH!! So much!! Kenma, let's go stomp in the puddles! But Shouyou's not here, and normally Kenma wouldn't mind the rain, as it gives him a fairly sound reason to stay inside and play on his PSP in bed all day. It keeps the weather from being too hot even during the summer, and during the winter (when it doesn’t turn into snow) the cloud-cover traps the heat in, making it marginally warmer. Usually it makes him feel at peace, the soothing sound of raindrops and leaves rusting together bringing with it a feeling of calm sleepiness.
But today it’s having an opposite effect. The steel-gray clouds blanketing the sky feel claustrophobic, and the drops pattering on the roof of his dorm are too noisy. It’s too dark and loud and it’s making the fact that he’s alone feel all the more obvious—
He firstly considers calling Shouyou. After all, if Kenma was looking for something bright, than what could be better than the personification of sunshine, screeching at him excitedly through his phone speaker? His voice would be able to cancel out the sound of the rain as well, and his non-stop enthusiastic babble would no doubt distract Kenma from whatever it is that’s making his stomach feel so hollow.
But no, Kenma decides—that isn’t quite right. Ignoring the fact that he's probably busy at volleyball practice by this time anyway, that kind of nuclear energy isn't what Kenma needs right now. He adores Shouyou, and talking to him always makes him happy, but what he needs—to feel safe and calm and home—there’s only one person who’s able to give that to him.
He glances at his bedside clock; three thirty-six in the afternoon, which means classes for the day should be over by now. He flips open his phone, typing out a simple “today is a bad day”, and then he hits send. He rolls over onto his side, closing his eyes and listening to the rain smacking his window, trying to remember how he ever thought the sound was relaxing.
He doesn’t know how much time passes—it could be fifteen minutes or two hours. But he manages to doze in a state of not-quite-asleep and not-quite-awake until he hears a loud knock on his door, and he cracks an eye open.
“Delivery for a…Kozuma Kenta? Am I saying this right?” calls a voice from outside, purposefully deepened and given a sloppy accent—Kenma’s not sure what it’s supposed to be, but it sucks. He rolls his eyes before slithering out of bed and blearily trudging to the door, each step feeling weighted. He swings it open, eyes automatically screwing up from the sudden light of the hallway, and he looks up the necessary amount in order to meet a familiar warm sparkle.
He’s still shaking off his umbrella, his rain jacket dark and shining wet, and he smiles, big and toothy. “Good afternoon, sir. I’m from Tetsurou’s On-Call Cuddling Service. Did you order a large helping of tall, dark, and handsome? And a side order of pickles?”
“I’ll take the pickles. You can leave the handsome.”
“Sorry, no substitutions or exchanges,” Kuroo replies breezily, stepping on past Kenma into his dorm room. He eyes the pile of wrappers on Kenma’s nightstand, the tangle of sheets, and Kenma suddenly feels self-conscious—the blinds are closed and it’s dark and humid, and he knows the air probably smells stale. It’s obvious how long he’s kept himself cooped up in here, and Kuroo won’t like that.
Kuroo sets a plastic shopping bag down on Kenma’s desk, toeing off his shoes before heading over to the window to draw open the blinds. The light, however weak and gray it may be, makes Kenma flinch, his pupils constricting too quickly for comfort.
“Where’s Izumi-san?” Kuroo asks, coiling the long drawstring for the blinds around a small metal hook on the wall. He unzips his rain-jacket then, stripping it off and hanging it over the back of Kenma's desk chair. Drops of water slide off of it to puddle on the floor.
“He’s staying at his girlfriend’s for the weekend,” Kenma replies, grabbing fistfuls of the wrappers and throwing them in the general direction of the trash can.
“Cool, then we won’t be bugging him if we end up going to bed late.” Kuroo slides open the window several inches, the sound of the rain growing louder, the wind whistling through and making Kenma’s arms erupt in goosebumps. He scowls, huddling deeper into his sweatshirt.
“It smells like a dungeon in here. It’s just to air it out a little. You haven’t gone outside yet today, have you?”
There it is—that mothering tone that doesn’t sound chastising, but it might as well be for how it makes Kenma feel immediately guilty. He doesn’t reply, instead staring at the wet spots on Kuroo’s shoulders that his umbrella and jacket didn’t catch.
Kuroo begins picking up the garbage that Kenma had scattered around the trash can, actually putting it inside this time. “I got us some junk food and soda for tonight, though you probably don’t need any more crap in your diet. Also some lemons to go with your pickles. Do you wanna eat some now?”
Kenma shuffles over to Kuroo’s shopping bag. There are the lemons and pickles, but there’s also bottles of some of the more sugary drinks the convenience store has to offer, along with several bags of corn-based snacks. At the very bottom is a damp paper bag from McDonalds—opening it he finds three apple pies, still warm. His mouth waters, but he shakes his head. “Later.”
Kuroo rights himself, having tidied up enough to his standards, and he claps his hands together. He smiles. “Okay. So how’d you wanna do this? The usual?”
“Got it. Well,” Kuroo executes a dramatic swan-dive into Kenma’s bed then, spreading out his limbs as obtrusively as possible. He wriggles, rearranging the blankets so that they aren’t all lumpy and propping the pillows against the wall, leaning his back against them. He grins, opening his arms wide and inviting. “Your throne awaits, Your Highness.”
“Don’t make this weird,” Kenma mutters, crawling onto the bed and all but collapsing on Kuroo’s chest, the hand he's not lying on settling at Kuroo's warm waist. Immediately, Kuroo wraps his arms around Kenma’s shoulders, pulling him close and burying his nose into his hair. Kenma wants to protest (he hasn't washed it in two days, and it's bound to be greasy—) but then Kuroo makes a happy little noise in his throat, like a cat finally getting that scratch behind the ears, like he's been waiting for this all day. And just like that, Kenma can breathe easy again. His whole chest opens up, his lungs working effortlessly to take in air—and Kuroo had been right, of course. The fresh air tastes so much better than the humid stagnation from before. The rain doesn’t even look gloomy anymore. It looks clean and bright, like spring and fresh slates. Cathartic, the way it was meant to be.
“How do you do it,” Kenma murmurs into Kuroo’s chest. How do you always make everything seem so much better, he means to say. But Kuroo misunderstands his meaning, letting out a pleased sigh and tucking Kenma’s head underneath his chin, tightening his arms to snuggle him closer.
“I’ve been doing this a whole year longer than you. Remember that. And it gets easier, I promise.”
Homesickness. That was probably why his stomach had felt so icky—he misses his mom and dad and having dinner ready for him when he came home from volleyball practice. Ever since he moved away to the dorms and started university, he’d started realizing just how easy he had it; just how much he had taken for granted. And what makes his chest hurt the most is knowing that no matter how much he wishes for it, he'll never be able to go back to how things were. That there are some things he'll never get back.
Kenma curls up closer, mumbling into Kuroo’s breastbone. “I miss my own bed.”
“These dorm beds are shit. That’s just how it is. But you know you’re always welcome in mine.”
“Bokuto-san will get annoyed if I come over too much.”
Kuroo rears his head back, incredulous. “Are you kiddin’ me? He loves you! He’s always badgerin’ me, When’s Kenma coming over? Do you think he’d go to the gym with us? How’d he get his hair so cool?”
The corners of Kenma’s lips twitch. “He thinks my hair is cool?”
Kuroo looks down at him, eyes widened exaggeratedly. “You don’t? It looks awesome! Hey, do me a favor and grow it out some more. I’ve been wanting to practice some stuff with it.”
“Braids and little ponytails, cute stuff like that. Oh! What if,” he grins, lightly tugging on a dual-toned strand, “I gave you Princess Leia buns? Like one on either side? You can’t tell me that wouldn’t be cute.”
“I’d look stupid.”
“You never look stupid. It’s impossible.”
Kenma doesn’t argue mostly because he knows he won’t win. He stays quiet, the hand that's not pinned under himself traveling from Kuroo’s waist up his side—it stays that way, stroking, because he knows that Kuroo thinks it feels good. He feels the body underneath him shiver, and he ghosts his fingers over Kuroo’s ribs—
“So, nap time for a couple hours, then you can wipe the floor with me at whatever game you want until neither of us can stay conscious. Sound good?” His voice is higher than normal, holding the same shivering quality as his twitching muscles. Kenma lets his fingers walk until his hand is right in front of his own face—he flattens his palm, over the right portion of Kuroo’s chest. He can’t remember which side his heart is on, but he can feel it—he can feel the steady, powerful thrumming, can hear the strong rhythm beating into his ear, and it comforts him more than he could say.
He nods. “Yeah. Thanks.”
There’s a fond smile in his voice. “It’s never a problem, Kenma.”
Now it’s Kuroo’s turn for his fingertips to draw soothing patterns on Kenma’s back; it makes his eyes feel even heavier than before. “What for?”
“You always know what to do to make me feel better. But I never know what to do for you.” He flickers his eyes up, searching for—annoyance? Impatience? But, no, there would never—
Kuroo smiles down at him, eyes soft, and Kenma lets himself look away again. “When life gives me lemons, I know that I can always bring them to you. Because you’ll eat them.”
“Lemons are good,” Kenma murmurs.
“So’s battery acid.”
Kenma huffs out a laugh, and it’s enough to make him pause—when was the last time he had laughed? Not today, certainly, and not the day before—Kuroo had had his day jam-packed with lecture and labs, and Shouyou had been trying (keyword: trying) to study for exams, and the tall blond on his team had confiscated his cellphone for the duration. Izumi was nice, but they had only known each other for a few months, and Kenma was still working on stepping out of his shell, bit by bit. He has other friends—so many friends that a few years ago, he never could have imagined his life would be so warm and full of people who care like it is today. But sometimes, that knowledge just isn’t enough.
Sometimes, the loneliness creeps up on him anyways.
And sometimes, on days like today, with the homesickness compounding over the empty feeling in his stomach, he doesn’t know what to do about it—what to do about his body yearning for touch, a physical ache that’s only now being satisfied. Because of Kuroo; because of his oldest friend, because of this boy whose heartbeat is enough to assure Kenma that he’s never alone, not if he doesn’t want to be.
Kenma adjusts his position, heavily resting his cheek on Kuroo’s shoulder, looking up—Kuroo’s eyes are closed, face relaxed. He’s very good-looking, Kenma thinks. It’s something he’s always known, objectively, but he’s never thought about what that means for himself. He appreciates the shape of his nose and the skin that’s always tanned beautifully, even during the winter time. His eyelashes are long and gently curled. He has a very defined Cupid’s bow, and the corners of his mouth are always slightly turned up, on the cusp of a smile even as he tries to sleep.
He’s very good-looking, Kenma thinks again. He pushes his palm into Kuroo’s hard chest, freeing his other arm and propping himself on his elbow. He stares, licking his dry lips—Kuroo hadn’t moved a centimeter at the disturbance, not thinking anything of it. He smells really good, Kenma thinks. There’s that feeling again—the yearning for human touch, the ache returning, but not in the same way as before—
There's an abundance of gratitude, a flush of affection, a skip in Kenma's own heartbeat. This all leads to an astonishing lack of hesitance when he stretches his neck up, carefully, unobtrusively, and just barely allows his mouth to brush the tip of Kuroo’s chin. He can feel it when Kuroo stops breathing, his whole body tensing.
“Sorry,” Kenma whispers. He feels stupid now. But he knows that Kuroo won’t push him off—you’re taking advantage of his kindness. He studies the pink that’s pooling beneath golden skin. I don’t care.
“Um,” Kuroo says, sounding slightly strangled. His eyes are open now, wide and possibly a bit hysterical. “Was there a special reason for that, or…?”
“I just,” Kenma struggles. “It’s what. I felt like, um. Can I—“
Kenma pushes his hands into Kuroo’s chest again, firmer this time, feeling the rapid bum bum bum of that lovely heartbeat against his fingers. He hovers, his eyes tracing, cataloging—the small mole under his eyebrow, curve of his bottom lip, almond shape of dark brown eyes. He reaches to tuck some of his hair behind his right ear, and Kuroo’s eyes follow the movement.
“Can you…?” he prompts, hardly making any sound at all—
Kenma leans down again, pressing his lips fully to Kuroo’s cheek, slightly damp and feather-soft. Ah, that’s better. This is right, this is exactly right, this is what he needed—Kuroo’s hands come up to cover Kenma’s shoulder blades then, his palms hot. Kenma lightly drags his lips across Kuroo’s cheekbone, up the side of his nose, down the bridge and ending at the tip before he pulls away. Kuroo is struggling to breathe normally, and the color on his cheeks is feverish.
“Kenma,” he wheezes, his eyes glittering with something Kenma doesn’t think he could name even if he tried. Kenma flops down again, reaching his arms up to wrap them around Kuroo’s neck, and he buries his nose in the hollow of his throat. He inhales, smelling faint traces of leftover cologne and sweat. So good.
“Don’t go,” he says quietly. It’s a broad request—not now, not in five minutes, not tomorrow. Along with the heartbeat he can hear the woosh of air in and out of lungs, fast, like sharp wind though an empty tunnel.
“Kenma,” Kuroo repeats, his voice having become soft again, though his breathing is no less labored. “I’ll be here for as long as you’ll have me.”
Kenma closes his eyes. “That’s unhealthy.”
He shakes his head. “You can’t give me that kind of power. You’d never leave.”
A startled, pleased little laugh. “I can’t imagine a happier life.”
“You’re so sappy.” But his cheeks are warm and his toes curl in his socks, his feet doing a couple little rabbit-kicks into the mattress, a jumpy sort of happy energy.
“It seems like you’re not so tired anymore,” Kuroo says quietly, his fingers ghosting over the back of Kenma’s neck, running up to thread into his hair, and oh. It feels so good. Kenma pushes his head back into the touch, fingers curling into Kuroo’s shirt. The sleepiness comes back full-force, and he wonders languidly if this is some sort of magic spell that only Kuroo knows.
“I am when you do that,” he replies drowsily, head nodding back to rest on Kuroo’s shoulder.
“I’ll still be here when you wake up.”
“Mmm. Thank you.”
“What’d I tell you, Kenma? Anytime.”
As he drifts off, he doesn’t think he’s imagining it when he feels lips press against his forehead. He sighs, contented, the sound of rain a pleasant lullaby, the arms wrapped around him all he needs to keep warm.
This is what Kenma loves about Kuroo. No matter where their lives take them, he’ll always, always be a place to come home to.