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hold me close enough to feel your heart beat against mine

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Kenma’s gone.

Everyone is gathered in their living room, phones out and noting down where they’d last seen him, discussing loudly what they should do next. The police has been called, but they said they can’t do anything until twenty four hours have passed. This upset some people, which explains why there’s a giant crack down the coffee table. Yamamoto is now made to sit in the corner with Yaku watching over him to make sure the rest of the furniture escapes harm.

But it seems everyone is afraid to approach their former captain. 

Kuroo stands by the window, facing the street, but anyone that takes a closer look at him can tell that he’s not really seeing the rainy landscape outside. His arms are crossed, fingers clenching his forearms in a painful manner. His face is set in stone, a terrifyingly severe expression they’ve only seen once when Lev nearly broke his leg attempting some weird skateboarding trick. The stillness and tightness of his posture is the only thing giving away his worry and fear.

It’s almost dinner time, and no one has seen Kenma since morning. Which isn’t unusual, because sometimes Kenma has bad days or just plain lazy days where he hides in his room all day with the latest game he’s downloaded on his laptop. Except Kenma hasn’t answered any text messages, and even Kuroo hasn’t heard from him, which is enough to ring any alarm bell. His shoes are gone, as was his favourite jacket with the cat-eared hood that Kuroo bought him last year, but his phone is abandoned on the kitchen counter, left behind just like the rest of them. They’ve all been out there searching for the pudding head, knowing he’s not good with directions, but no one had any luck.

Kenma’s gone. 

And for the first time in a long time, Kuroo doesn’t know what to do.

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Tetsurou jolts awake, feeling cold sweat chilling his skin and hearing his own ragged breathing filling the darkness. For a moment, he doesn’t know where he is. All he knows is his heart beating too fast, so loudly he’s sure that’s the only sound in the universe.

“Are you okay?”

Tetsurou glances to his side, the source of the quiet voice grounding him in the dark. There’s soft blue light emitting from the PSP in Kenma’ hands, but those familiar gold eyes, for once, are not trained on the screen, but instead on Tetsurou. 

“Y-yeah. Fine. I’m f-fine.” Tetsurou sighs, running his hands through his messy hair. He can’t remember what his nightmare was about, but it was not something he wanted to experience. It’s already bad enough that Kenma had to witness him all shaking and weak and wimpy like this. But Kenma doesn’t comment on it. He never does.

“Why are you still up,” Tetsurou says, and he’s glad when it comes out somewhat closer to normal. His breathing has calmed down, though he can still feel himself shaking slightly. He blinks back up at the boy next to him. “You need to rest your eyes, Kenma.”

The pudding head shrugs. He turns off the game, placing it carefully on the bedside table next to Tetsurou’s glasses. Then he lies down on the bed beside Tetsurou, wriggling until he’s tucked snugly against the older boy.

Golden eyes peer up at him, glinting off the sliver of moonlight seeping in through the closed blinds. “It’s okay, Kuro. I’ll be right here.”

Tetsurou blinks at his best friend. He feels his lips curl up into a smile. Rolling over slightly, he slips his arm around the smaller, pressing his nose into Kenma’s soft hair. “Yeah. I know,” he whispers. 

In just mere moments, their breathing evens out as if in sync, limbs entangled with the other, unconsciously seeking warmth and comfort in familiar contact. The nightmares don’t return.

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As soon as Kuro steps in through the door, Kenma knows that something is wrong. 

He doesn’t say anything though, instead allowing Kuro to strip off his coat, toss his keys down, and fume quietly to himself for a few minutes longer. Kenma sits up when Kuro makes his way over to the couch.


Kenma is glad he made the smart choice of putting his phone down before Kuro plops his whole body weight on him, pressing his face into Kenma’s shirt and fitting his hands around Kenma’s body like he was a small boat adrift at sea, searching for an anchor. Kenma shifts until they are both lying fully on the couch, Kuro’s stupidly long legs dangling off the other end.

“Bad day?” he murmurs, running a hand through the mess of dark hair resting on his chest.

Kuro replies with a pained groan, nuzzling his face into Kenma’s shoulder. He smells like rain, though it wasn’t raining that hard when he called to say he was coming home. His skin feels cool against Kenma’s own, and despite being pinned down by the larger boy’s weight, Kenma doesn’t feel trapped at all. Instead, it’s reassuring, familiar, it’s warm comfort after a long day of gray and rain. Kenma hopes it’s the same for the other.

“Want me to heat up some dinner?” 

“Mm. Later. Stay like this for a bit. Please.” 

Kenma hums in agreement, sliding his hands from Kuro’s hair to his neck, trailing down from his broad shoulders to his back. He does it a few times, smiling a little when he feels Kuro sigh softly against his neck. He shivers when Kuro’s lips press a tiny kiss just under his jaw.

They stay like that for a long while. The rain outside continues to fall, but on the right side of the window pane, lying still on the couch, limbs entangled together and chests rising and falling in sync with each other, they drift in peaceful seas, not a thought nor care for the rest of the world outside their cozy living room.

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Kenma finds Kuroo under the kitchen table, trembling helplessly with a huge blanket pulled over his head. His notes and notebooks are strewn all over the table and the floor, and Kenma can spot a couple pens on the other side of the kitchen tiles, probably from being thrown in frustration. Quietly, he nudges aside the mess to crouch beside the shaking bundle that is his best friend.

“Kuro,” he says, making his voice soft, but firm enough that Kuroo knows that he knows that Kuroo can hear him.

The shaking doesn’t stop, but the high-pitched whines do. Kuroo sniffles. “Kenma,” he replies, but his voice is clogged with tears and sad.

“Kuro,” Kenma says again. He reaches out a hand and places it on where he assumes Kuroo’s shoulder would be. “I’m here. Okay? I’m here.”

Kuroo doesn’t reply right away, still trembling under Kenma’s hand, but a minute later, the blanket shifts, revealing black hair even messier than usual, and wet, red-rimmed eyes. His cheeks are still shiny with tears, and aa frustrated scowl is set on his face, even though his lips are still wobbly. He doesn’t look at Kenma.

Humming slightly, Kenma reaches out with both hands this time, and Kuroo obediently scooches closer, until his face is pressing against Kenma’s chest with the smaller boy’s arms around him and his blanket. Kenma rocks them slightly, fingers stroking Kuroo’s hair soothingly, wordlessly, until the other’s shaking evens out a little.

“I don’t know what came over me, I just—everything is due, and I’ve done nothing, I’m running out of time and I should know all this but I can’t—I can’t do it, I don’t know what to do and I didn’t—I didn’t want to bother anybody—gods I’m so–I’m so pathetic look at me I’m a sobbing mess I just—I’m so-I’m so tired, Kenma, so tired…”

Kenma hums again, his hands rubbing calm circles into his friend’s back. He leans his cheek against Kuroo’s messy hair. “I know, Kuro. I know. It’s okay. It’s really okay.”

They stay until Kuroo’s shaking fades into the steady deep breathing of sleep, and the dampness of Kenma’s shirt starts to dry. 

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It’s twelve thirty-two when there’s a soft knock on Tetsurou’s door. 

“Come in,” he calls, and the door is pushed open to reveal Kenma with his eyes downcast, one hand tugging at the collar of his oversized hoodie—-one that Tetsurou thinks he half-recognizes as his. Kenma’s eyes are slightly red, and there’s an unhappiness tugging his lips downwards. Tetsurou closes his book and sets it aside. “What’s up, Kenma?”

Kenma only shakes his head, peeking up slightly to see Tetsurou patting the space next to him on the bed. Quietly, his feet dragging slightly, he makes his way over. He pauses beside the bed.

“Can, can I.” Kenma bites his lips, staring at his feet. Tetsurou can see him shaking. His fingers are tugging at his sleeves, an anxious habit. Tetsurou wants to hold them, but keeps himself from doing so, waiting to see what Kenma wants. What Kenma needs. 

“Can I,” Kenma tries again, his voice impossibly soft, “sleep with you?”

Tetsurou knows immediately what Kenma means. It’s happened before a handful of times, when Kenma’s insomnia and anxiety refuses to let him rest, and Tetsurou hates to see the younger boy struggling so. He’s only grateful Kenma trusts him enough to allow him to help.

“Do you,” Tetsurou says, keeping his voice soft to match Kenma’s whispering, “need me to hold you?”

Mutely, Kenma nods. 

Tetsurou pulls back the covers, waits for Kenma to crawl in between his legs. He pulls the covers back around them, until they’re both nestled nicely against the bed. He wraps his arms around Kenma, carefully, gently. Kenma shifts until his face is pressed into Tetsurou’s chest. His shaking lessens, just the smallest bit. Tetsurou runs a hand up and down the younger boy’s back, up and down, up, and down. 

They listen to each other’s heart beat steady, reassuringly, until their breathing slows and fades into slumber.

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Tetsurou knocks once before sticking his head into the room without waiting for an answer. He spots his friend huddled on his bed, wrapped up in his many blankets with a game in his hands.

“Kenma,” he says. His voice doesn’t shake, but his fingers do.


Kenma peers up at him, and without another word, opens his blanket and shifts over on the bed for Tetsurou to settle down beside him. Tetsurou goes obligingly, like he has done so many times before. He’s usually the one that holds Kenma when the younger can’t stop shaking, but even he needs to be comforted sometimes. And Kenma knows how to do just that.

The little nest Kenma made smells faintly of sweat and the fruity gummy bears the boy likes to chew on when he games and the fabric softener that Kenma’s mom likes to use. It smells familiar, and Tetsurou’s fingers shake a little less. Tetsurou wraps the blankets around the both of them, wriggling a bit until he manages to fold his larger frame next to Kenma, his shoulders and legs pressing against the other boy.

“Do you want to talk about it?” 

Kenma’s soft voice breaks the silence, though his eyes haven’t lifted from his console. Tetsurou likes that, because even if the boy’s fingers are still moving across the buttons, the very picture of concentration, he knows that Kenma is listening to him. Tetsurou has a hard time admitting his own insecurities and weaknesses and falls sometimes. Kenma knows this, just as Tetsurou knows Kenma sometimes has a difficult time making words work. So Kenma lets him be, lets him choose when and how to confront himself.

“Not today,” Tetsurou whispers back. “Can I watch you play?”

Kenma gives a little hum of affirmation, leaning over slightly so Tetsurou can see the screen better. His head falls onto Tetsurou’s shoulder naturally, his soft hair tickling Tetsurou’s chin a little bit. Tetsurou exhales quietly, pressing his nose into Kenma’s hair. 

He breathes, and though the tightness in his chest hasn’t faded, his fingers finally stop shaking.

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By the time Kenma wakes, the sky is darkening again, and the clock reads sometime in the late afternoon. 

He turns slightly, and the weight resting around his waist groans before shifting over. Blinking, he sees the familiar sight of messy dark hair, long limbs stretched over half the bed, and a small frown etched on Kuro’s face. For a moment, Kenma doesn’t move, just watches Kuro breathe in his sleep. He doesn’t seem to be having a nightmare. But it’s probably not a dream either, judging from the frowny face. Kenma reaches over, poking the other in the face.

“Stop,” Kuro mumbles, one hand reaching up and halfheartedly swatting at Kenma’s finger. Kenma pokes him again. This time, sleepy eyes open, squinting through the dimness at Kenma. “What time is it?”

“Just after five,” Kenma whispers. He turns to face Kuro fully. Slowly, his finger traces the proud bridge of Kuro’s nose, down to his chapped lips, to his chin, to his strong jawline, trailing back up to his cheekbones, his eyebrows, trying to smooth the little crease in his foreheads. Kuro closes his eyes again, allowing his soft touch.

“Are you feeling better?” Kenma whispers again, his hand pausing at Kuro’s collarbone. 

“Mm. A little.” Kuro takes a breath, before reaching out and tugging Kenma closer. He buries his face in Kenma’s hair. Kenma hugs him back, trying to give him as much comfort as he can, the way that Kuro has always done for him all those times past. 

Finally, Kuro slides back far enough to catch Kenma’s gaze again. A small smile graces his lips, the spark returning to those dark eyes. “Let’s order takeout today, yeah?”

Kenma nods. “Anything you want.”

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“Kuro. Move over. You’re hot.”

“Why thank you, Kenma, glad you finally acknowledged how hot your best friend is.”

Kenma throws the older boy a sour look, before trying once more to shove him to the floor. They’re in the middle of the summer heat, and even though the window is open and the fan is turned to its highest setting, the afternoon is still not very pleasant. Kenma would turn the air conditioning on, but his mother has specifically told him that it’s only for when the temperature reaches above twenty eight. 

Meanwhile, Kuro is like his own space heater. Normally, Kenma would appreciate this, but winter has long since passed and with the bare minimum of clothing they’re both wearing, having incredibly warm skin stick on his own bare arms is kind of gross. Kenma tells him so, for the fifth time that hour.

“I could take off my shirt,” Kuro offers, grinning wickedly.

Kenma scrunches up his nose. He sighs, shifting closer to the wall with his PSP. But the heat is too much, and he watches in dismay as his character dies again.

Kuro looks up from his book at the sad little tune. “Wanna go for a walk?”

Kenma gives him an incredulous look. “It’s hot.”

“Well, we could stop by the konbini.”

Kenma considers this. “Your treat?” he asks, trying not to sound too hopeful. He blinks at his friend, making sure to keep his eyes wide and innocent. Kuro laughs, so he thinks he succeeds. Then Kuro reaches over and ruffles his hair, causing him to scowl.

“Of course, Kenma. Isn’t it a senpai’s duty to treat his kouhai?”

“… Please don’t ever refer to yourself as my senpai again.”

“That hurts, Kenma.”

Together, they shuffle out the door. Kenma squints at the bright sunlight as if it personally offended him, before his vision is obscured. His hands move up, pushing until he can see again. It’s his floppy sunhat that one of his aunts got him as a joke birthday present last year. “Kuro?”

“You’re too pale, don’t want you to burst into flames before we get our popsicles, yeah?”

“Shut up, Kuro.” But he pulls the hat down more firmly on his head, and even allows a small smile on his face as he hears Kuro chuckling beside him. 

“Wanna bet if they have any new flavours?”

Kenma hums. He reaches over, and wordlessly, Kuro accepts his hand. In the distance, cicadas chirp relentlessly, and the summer heat follows them down the street.

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“You okay with spicy?”

Kenma hums from where he’s slumped over on the kitchen table, arms stretched in front of him, tilting his phone downwards so he doesn’t have to lift his chin up from the table. He probably didn’t even register the question.

“How’s Shrimpy doing?”

That gets a reaction out of him. Kuroo puts the lid on the pot and glances over in time to see the phone fall face-down on the table, mirroring Kenma’s own face-down position. Kenma rolls his head a little. One golden eye peeks through his hair at Kuroo.

“They’re in America. Training, he says, but he keeps sending me pictures of them doing tourist stuff.”

“Can’t say I disagree with that. Tell him and that scary setter of his to send us a souvenir.”

Kenma sighs, but doesn’t pick up his phone again. Kuroo picks up the indication there is more that Kenma isn’t saying. He turns the heat down low and pulls up the chair next to Kenma.

“Did he accidentally send you one of those pictures he meant to send to Kageyama again?”

Kenma doesn’t even crack a smile. He turns his face back against the table. He mumbles something against the wood surface, but it’s too muffled for Kuroo to understand. He turns to face the wall instead of Kuroo’s questioning gaze.

“He said, they can get married there. In America. It’s legal.”

That makes Kuroo quiet for a bit. Kenma is still facing away from him. He reaches out a hand, stroking Kenma’s hair lightly. He’s let it grow out since they graduated, dying it blond only once more before deciding that touching up the roots is really too much trouble. It’s almost completely black now.

“Do you,” says Kuroo softly, “want to get married?”

Kenma doesn’t answer right away. “I don’t know,” he answers honestly. He sits up, brushing his hair aside before looking up at Kuroo. “It’s just. Having that as a possible option, it’s just, I… I just…”

Kuroo leans forward, pulling the younger man towards him. “I know. I know.” He feels Kenma breathe out a long, slow sigh. He closes his eyes. He hasn’t felt this sort of weariness on his shoulders since before he found the courage to stop dancing around the feelings he carried for his childhood friend. 

They stay like that for a while, just breathing soft against each other, together. (Until Kenma pokes Kuroo in the ribs, his voice almost back to normal when he tells him, “Your soup is burning.”)

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Sunday morning finds Kenma out on the little balcony of their small, two-bedroom apartment. His hands are empty and his eyes are closed as he tilts his face towards the sun. It’s still quiet in their neighbourhood, but it’s good. He’s in no hurry to get anywhere.

“Kenma? Are you cold?”

He opens his eyes and looks over his shoulder. Kuroo is leaning against the door frame, yawning into his hand. His hair is a ridiculous mess, but it’s a familiar sight, never failing to make Kenma smile.

“No,” says Kenma. “Just wanted some fresh air.”

Kuroo hums. He yawns again, coming up next to him by the railings. He sweeps his hair away and blinks open his eyes. “Huh. We have a pretty nice view.”

“Yeah.” Kenma shuffles over, until he can lean his head on Kuroo’s shoulder. Even after all these years, their height managed to stay consistently the same, just right, just enough for Kenma to fit his head under Kuroo’s chin. Kuroo’s arm winds up around his waist, pulling him closer. A soft sigh, content, quiet.

There’s a slight weight on his head as Kuroo leans his cheek against the crown of Kenma’s head. “What are you thinking of, all by yourself?”

A few seconds pass as Kenma considers his reply. “It’s quiet,” he says finally. He turns his body, pressing further into Kuroo’s warmth. “Slow, sunday mornings, with nobody to tell us to go, to stay, to do. Just ourselves. Waking up, side by side, in this apartment. No one knows us. Not unless we want them to.”

Kuroo looks down at the smaller man, a small smile starting on his lips. “I feel like you just said your word quota for the entire week.” He lets out a grunt when Kenma sticks an elbow in his gut. “Sorry. I liked what you said. It almost sounds poetic.”

Kenma doesn’t answer. He pushes away from the railing, sliding his arms around Kuroo. His face against the other’s chest, hearing his heartbeat—loud, steady, real—he says, “I want to stay like this, with you, forever.”

“Okay,” Kuroo answers. He runs a hand through Kenma’s hair, before leaning down to press his lips against the other’s temple. “I want to stay with you, like this, too.”

Chapter Text

Kenma looks small, hunched over his game on the window-seat, one of Tetsurou’s worn and stretched-out hoodies dwarfing him like a cat bundled up in a long scarf. 

The kettle starts to whistle, so Tetsurou takes it off the stove, reaching for their mugs. It’s the oldest set they have, the one with the little black cats that Kenma chose the first time they went furniture shopping together. It feels like forever ago, moving in with Kenma. But days like this makes Tetsurou feel twenty one all over again.

“Here,” he says, nudging a mug into Kenma’s hands. He sets his own next to Kenma’s curled feet.

“Sugar?” Kenma asks out of habit, as if after all these years Tetsurou doesn’t know exactly how Kenma takes his tea. He puts down his game, scooting over slightly.

Tetsurou nods, grabbing the blanket off the couch before arranging his limbs onto the seat next to Kenma. He holds open the blanket until Kenma crawls in between his legs, resting his back against Tetsurou’s chest. Wrapping the blanket around the both of them, he hums his thanks when Kenma hands him his tea.

“Did you defeat the boss this time?”

Kenma’s hair, messy black and blond and just long enough to touch his shoulders, tickle Tetsurou’s chin as the younger shakes his head. “Almost.” He turns his head towards the window. “It’s raining.”

Tetsurou turns his gaze, too. The puddles seem to dance as raindrops hit them, and the sky is canvas of grey. It’d feel kind of lonely, this sort of scenery, but sitting with Kenma’s warmth pressing against him, watching the rain from inside their small apartment, Tetsurou thinks it’s kind of cozy.

He leans his cheek against the top of Kenma’s head. “So it is,” he says, and they fall quiet, watching the rain, together.

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His fingers shake as he presses the number he’s imprinted into his muscle memory by now. It rings barely twice before the familiar deep voice trickles through the phone and into his ear. Instantly, he can feel his breathing slow.

“Kenma? What’s up? Can’t sleep?”


Kuroo chuckles, a low sound that warms Kenma’s belly. He settles deeper into his blanket cocoon. If he closes his eyes, he can pretend he’s surrounded by Kuroo’s warmth.

“Are you playing Karasuno tomorrow?”

Kenma sighs. Even an hour and a half train ride away and barely any phone calls, Kuroo still manages to read Kenma’s mind. He misses his best friend. He misses his captain. He misses Kuroo.

“You’re gonna do fine, Kenma. Or should I say, vice captain Kenma?”

“Shut up.”

But there’s a smile on Kenma’s face, and Kuroo knows it, too. “I’m still proud of you, kiddo. But I’m serious. You guys are going to be fine. Even with that disaster called Lev. Me and Yaku and Kai all visited before, and you guys have been doing some ridiculous improvement, you know? Gods, I miss playing with you so much.”

Because it’s the dead of night, and there’s a huge match with their rival team in the morning, and the way Kuroo’s voice make Kenma feel safe, and how Kenma’s only ever been comfortable being vulnerable with Kuroo, but it doesn’t take much for Kenma to admit, “Me, too. I miss you, Kuro.”


A certain softness enters Kuroo’s voice, and the knot in Kenma’s chest loosens. He clutches the phone against his ear, ignoring the hot prickling behind his eyes. He listens.

“Hey, Kenma. Trust me on this, okay? You and the team are going to be just fine. I’m going to watch the match on tv, and you’re going to set like a superstar, make me jealous that Yamamoto gets to slam all your beautiful sets down. You’re going to be amazing, Kenma, and the next time I see you, I’m going to give you a huge hug because you deserve it.”

“Ew,” he says, because that’s the expected response, and they both pretend not to notice the way his voice hitches on the single syllable.

“I’m with you, okay, Kenma? Always. So get some sleep. You’ve got a match to win tomorrow.”

Kenma rolls over, tucking his blankets under his chin. “Goodnight, Kuro.”

“Goodnight, Kenma.”

Chapter Text

Kenma doesn’t look up when the door slams shut as Kuroo enters the apartment. His fingers pause when he doesn’t hear the usual annoying “I’m home, kittens!” greeting, but he doesn’t get up. Even when their actual kitten jumps off his lap and saunters into the hallway to greet Kuroo. He continues tapping on his tablet, waiting.

Kuroo appears in the doorway, the cat trotting after him. His hair looks droopier than usual. His lips are turned down slightly, and his shoulders are hunched over, making him look small despite his height. 

“Hey,” Kuroo mutters, crossing the living room to grab a glass of water from the kitchen.

“Hey,” Kenma replies. He doesn’t look up from his tablet, though he’s sitting up on the couch now, conscious of Kuroo’s every move. 

When Kuroo finally wanders over and drops down on the couch next to him, Kenma places his tablet on the table. Kuroo’s hair hangs limply in his face, covering his eyes. His shoulders are slumped, and he looks tired. And sad. He doesn’t even react when their cat nudges against his foot. Kenma turns to face him fully.

“Kuro. What,” he says softly, “do you need?”

And Kuroo all but falls into him, long limbs entangling with Kenma’s own, face buried into the hoodie Kenma’s wearing. He presses Kenma into the couch, until Kenma’s facing the ceiling, the weight of Kuroo on his stomach. Freeing a hand, Kenma runs it through Kuroo’s hair, raking it back to expose Kuroo’s face, eyes shut tight and a furrow in his brow. Kenma taps it with his finger, and Kuroo opens his eyes to look at him. His eyes are a bit red, Kenma notices with slight alarm.

“Kenma,” Kuroo says, and the cracks in his voice forms cracks in Kenma’s heart. He doesn’t bother saying anything else, just turns his head until his face is pressed against Kenma’s chest again.

He can feel small trembles going through Kuroo’s body. Kenma wiggles a bit until he can wrap his arm around the other, and continues petting the wild black hair. He spots their kitten settling into the dip of Kuroo’s back.

“I’m here,” Kenma whispers, and Kuroo sighs, his breath warm against Kenma’s collarbone. “I’m here.”

Chapter Text

Practice was hard as usual, but today Kenma doesn’t feel as tired. He walks with his face tilted towards his PSP, trusting Kuro to guide him away from utility poles and incoming bikes. The older boy whistles as they walk, but it’s not as annoying as when Lev does it. Maybe because Kuro can actually whistle.

The game music suddenly changes, a spritely tune with lots of tinkly notes. Kuro looks over, eyebrows raised. “Did you just beat the level?”

“Yeah.” Kenma blinks. This level had been giving him trouble for the last three days, and he’s already been scolded for the bags under his eyes, once by his mother and twice by Kuro.

“Awesome,” Kuro says, grinning down at him. “What a champ.”

“Shut up,” Kenma says, rolling his eyes. He turns back to his game, clicking past the pixelated confetti. He’s already onto the next boss when Kuro hums again.

“Want to go grab some apple pie before heading home?”

Fingers pausing, Kenma looks up. The sun is setting behind them, scattering shadows from the buildings around them. Half of Kuro’s face is dipped in orange-gold, his lips pulled into a lazy, crooked grin. He’s looking back at Kenma, hands in his pockets, posture relaxed. Familiar. Comfortable. 

Kenma doesn’t think about the sweat that was rolling down his back just half an hour ago, he doesn’t think about the increased practices as nationals approach. He doesn’t think about calendars. He looks at Kuro, and he feels the steady beating of his heart underneath his skin. 

“Okay,” he says, putting away his game. He slips his hand into Kuro’s, easily, naturally. They walk on as the sky changes colours overhead.

Chapter Text

Tetsurou wakes up to the sound of sniffling. With worry jumpstarting his brain, he’s rolling out of bed before he’s even fully awake. He hisses when his feet touch cold floor, but he continues padding out of the bedroom and into the spare room across the hall.


The nest of blankets that is Kenma jumps, then the box of tissues lying next to it disappears into the blankets. Tetsurou can hear Kenma blowing his nose quietly, but the sniffling doesn’t stop. Slowly, he eases down onto the floor next to Kenma.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” is Kenma’s quiet reply. Only the top of his head sticks out of the blankets. 

“Kenma. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but don’t say nothing is wrong when something clearly is.”

More sniffling. Then Kenma’s eyes peek out above the blankets. “Sorry.”

Tetsurou reaches out to pat Kenma’s head. “Nah, you don’t need to apologize.” He spends a minute or two just petting Kenma’s head, and Kenma lets him. “Do you want me to make tea?”

Kenma ducks back down to wipe his eyes again, but he nods. “Kuro,” he says, and Tetsurou pauses in the doorway, “Thank you.”

Tetsurou only smiles.

(Later, when both of them are holding steaming mugs of genmaicha, Tetsurou sits cross-legged across from Kenma as the smaller boy explains how he’s been playing this game for the past week and he’s just reached the end, and it’s so unexpected but not really, but it’s definitely making him feel thingsKuro, I wasn’t emotionally ready for this, and Tetsurou listens until their mugs are empty and the sun has come up and he has to rush to class on barely four hours of sleep—but Kenma’s cheeks are dry, and when Tetsurou holds out his arms, Kenma returns the hug without hesitation.)

Chapter Text

“Are you cold?”

Kenma shakes his head, blinking away the snowflakes that have landed on his eyelashes. Only his eyes are visible between the thick scarf and kitten-eared toque he’s wearing. Tetsurou thinks he’s adorable, but he keeps it to himself. If he said it out loud, he’d probably be walking home alone.

“Did you have fun today?”

“You sound like my mom,” Kenma mumbles. He raises a gloved hand to rub his nose. “I did, though. Even with Tora’s terrible singing.”

Tetsurou laughs. He faces the sky above them, watching the snow fall down like a whirl tiny stars dancing. He thinks about the day with the team, his team, how the staff at the karaoke place had to tell them to pipe down twice, how much Yaku laughed, how Lev managed to make Kenma join in for one line of a video game song, how Kai surprised everyone with his baritone crooning. He thinks about the kotatsu waiting at home, his mother’s promise of grilled fish for dinner, and Kenma sitting right next to him as they peel oranges to share. He doesn’t think about the last volleyball match, he doesn’t think about future career prospects, he doesn’t think about graduation.

“Kuro,” Kenma says, and Tetsurou glances back down to find a pair of gold eyes, as familiar as his own, staring up at him quietly.

“Yeah,” he says. “Let’s hurry home.”

And when he reaches out, Kenma’s hand is already waiting.