Tsukishima was struggling already. Summer was the worst season of the year; even more so now that he lived in Tokyo. He was sat on the couch, trying to watch a new documentary on dinosaurs that had just been uploaded to Netflix, but his brain wasn’t taking any information in. Fireworks would start soon, and all he was concerned with was that Kuroo wasn’t home yet. He was 47 minutes late, and Tsukishima checked his phone for the 17th time to see no message. His ever so slight shaking increased, his foot beginning to pad on the floor. He couldn’t go through tonight on his own.
One night. He just had to make it through one night of the week of constant fireworks, and then he would be going to Miyagi with Akaashi and staying with his Mother until it was over.
Tsukishima closed his eyes and wished with all his might that Akaashi were here, but he was staying overnight in a hotel on the other side of town, busy with his new manga. Not for the first time, Tsukishima wished he didn’t write popular manga, wished Akaashi could be sat here next to him. A whimper escaped Tsukishima’s throat.
Heck, he even wished Bokuto – loud, lively and loud Bokuto – was here to sit with him, but he was on a week’s trip to a training camp.
Tsukishima felt sick. He needed Kuroo. He needed Akaashi. He needed Bokuto. Kuroo had promised he would be here, promised he’d be home early to make sure Tsukishima was alright. A whine escaped Tsukishima’s throat as the clock ticked by another three minutes. Fireworks would start in only four minutes.
If Kuroo wasn’t here to help him, he needed to be strong for himself. He needed to get up and get the headphones that Akaashi had gotten him. The wonderful, noise cancelling headphones that made fireworks sound like a whisper, but he couldn’t move. Tsukishima felt like he was stuck to the couch, as if someone had spread glue around his figure and it had set without him even noticing it. His bones felt heavy, like they’d been exchanged for lead, or gold, or silver. No, no, it was definitely lead. Gold was Akaashi, silver was Kuroo. Bokuto was probably bronze. No no, they were all gold.
The clock ticked another two minutes by, and Tsukishima forgot how to breathe. His numb fingers managed to turn the television up to the point it was a danger of sensory overload itself, and then curled up. He had been lying down on his side, a leg stretched out across the couch and a leg hanging down so his foot was on the floor, but now he fit into one seat, knees against his chest.
He was crushing himself, but he needed it. He needed to be as small as possible so the fireworks couldn’t find him. He screwed his eyes shut as the clock ticked by another minute. Tsukishima’s shaking was so violent, he was amazed the entire couch wasn’t shaking. His headphones, he needed his headphones, but they were in the bedroom, and that was so far away.
The first bang happened and Tsukishima almost fell off the couch with a scream. He covered his ears as best he could, focusing on the names of dinosaurs from the television, but they kept coming. The bangs, the whizzes, the loud screeches. Tsukishima couldn’t see anything. His vision looked as though his eyes had been changed to static mode. He couldn’t breathe.
A large bang happened, and Tsukishima let out a yell. He rolled off the couch, trying to remember how to breathe. He scurried across the floor, tears streaming down his face as he found the small corner between the cabinets and the fridge-freezer. He forced himself between them, covering his ears again. Another scream ripped from his throat at the loud bangs, and Tsukishima lost himself to the pure fear and overload ripping around his body.
The first bang happened, the first of the lights lit up the sky, and Kuroo punched his steering wheel. He’d made arrangements to leave volleyball practice early, giving himself time to get home before all the traffic clogged the roads, but then a first year had twisted their ankle, and as Coach of the Nekoma team, he was duty bound to stay behind. He’d had to leave late, and now he was stuck in traffic. He was two blocks away, only two blocks.
Kuroo thought about Tsukishima, stuck alone in the apartment as fireworks exploded overhead. He’d been there through three fireworks festivals now for Tsukishima. He’d been there all the time growing up for Kozume; he knew how this went.
Kuroo tried not to think about the pure panic Tsukishima was in. He tried not to think about how his frail body would be racked with sobs, how he would scream here and there, making his throat vibrate. How he would be curled up somewhere, trying to hide away as much as he could.
Kuroo cursed and slammed his horn. A red light turned green. Kuroo inched his car forward. His turning was just up ahead, and it was clear of traffic. He just had to get past the three cars that sat in front of him. The green light changed to red again and Kuroo punched the wheel again.
His phone rang, and Kuroo glanced at it, before grabbing it and hitting answer.
“Please tell me you’re home. Tsukki’s phone isn’t replying and you usually answer it when you’re there so please tell me his phone is just in the bedroom and you’re cuddling with him on the couch.”
“I’m stuck in traffic. I’m literally four minutes away, I just needed to get past these damn cars.”
“Kuroo you said you would be home early! We arranged it all-”
“Someone twisted their ankle just before I was going to leave. I was the only first aider there, I had to stay until his parents picked him up.”
The light turned green and the first car didn’t move. Kuroo blared his horn.
“I know, I know, he’s terrified. I’m moving now.”
“Stay on the phone with me.”
“Akaashi, I’m driving.”
“I need to make sure you get there or else I have to get the metro down there myself!” It was a snap down the phone and Kuroo grit his teeth.
“I’m about to turn the corner, hold on.”
Kuroo dropped his phone on the passenger seat and turned as quickly as he dared, both hands on the wheel. He slid onto the kerb, making sure he didn’t block too much of the road – he could park his car in the parking block later – and then he grabbed his phone and climbed out.
“I’m heading up now.”
His car beeped as Kuroo pressed the key for it to lock and then he rushed to the door, buzzing his key.
“Do you want me to come down town? I’ve finished everything I need to do this evening-”
“-You’re busy working on your new manga, Keiji. You need this time to focus and write. You have deadlines, Tsuks and I will be fine, I promise.”
Akaashi sighed down the phone, and Kuroo ran up the stairs. He knew it was hard on Akaashi – he was Tsukishima’s main source of comfort. He couldn’t provide the feeling of being safe with his hugs, that was down to Kuroo and Bokuto’s strong arms. Yet, Akaashi always kept Tsukishima calm. His temperament clicked with Tsukishima, and Tsukishima was always happy to curl up with Akaashi, even when he was Bad.
Kuroo slammed his key into the front door. “I’m here.”
“How is he?”
“I’m unlocking the damn door will you give me a minute?”
The door shuddered when Kuroo jarred it open. Immediately, Kuroo stepped inside the dark apartment and shut the door quietly.
“How loud is that television?”
“He probably turned it up to try and hide the noise.” Kuroo turned it down and looked around in the dark light. The fireworks helped to light the apartment. “I can’t find him.”
Kuroo immediately rushed through to the bedroom, but there was no lump under the blanket. Kuroo dropped to his knees and looked under the bed. No quivering Tsukishima underneath there either.
The bathroom and shower were empty.
“Akaashi he isn’t here.”
“What the hell do you mean he isn’t there?”
“I mean the apartment is empty!”
Akaashi’s voice was hinging on panic. For Tsukishima to be lost on the streets during fireworks… they’d had that once before and hadn’t been able to find him for a week. Akiteru had almost killed all three of them.
“Check for his jacket. He never leaves without his jacket.”
Kuroo rushed to the jacket rack, and felt comfort in finding Tsukishima’s jacket there. “It’s here, that means he’s here.”
“Tetsu, love, you need to find him – is it possible he’s gone to the boiler room-”
There was a loud bang from outside and a scream from the kitchen. Kuroo spun around and dropped his voice.
“Kei? Tsuks, you here? It’s me, it’s Tetsurou.”
There was no reaction, and then slowly, a hand padded the ground between the fridge-freeze and counter unit. Kuroo breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’ve found him. I’m heading off.”
“Look after him, Tetsu.”
“Of course.” Kuroo hung up. Taking a breath, he knelt down by the gap, peering in. From the flashes lighting up the sky, he could just about see the white shirt Tsukishima was wearing.
“Tsuks, come on out.” Kuroo held his hand out. “You know I can’t get in there.”
Tsukishima merely whined.
“Come on, Tsuks, you can do this. I won’t let the fireworks get you, I promise.”
Tsukishima looked at him, eyes wide. They glimmered softly in the light, the built up tears shining in the lights.
“Lets get you into bed and we can cuddle up and you can listen to your music, yeah?”
Tsukishima didn’t move for a moment and Kuroo was trying to figure out if Tsukishima would get hurt if he pulled the fridge-freezer out – and then Tsukishima started worming his way out. Kuroo felt like it was an hour before Tsukishima finally manage to squirm his way free from the tight space, collapsing into his arms. Immediately, Tsukishima tried to make himself as small as possible, and Kuroo held him tightly.
“C’mon, lets get you in the bedroom and cleaned up, hm?”
Kuroo kept his voice soft, rubbing his hand down Tsukishima’s back. The student nodded, but didn’t move. Another loud bang had him on his feet and rushing to the bedroom with a sob.
Kuroo’s heart broke as he rushed after Tsukishima, just in time to see him dive under the covers. Kuroo shifted to turn the night light on – an essential when any of them needed to see in the bedroom and Tsukishima was suffering from a sensory overload – and found his headphones on the bedside table.
“Here we go, pop these on, Tsuks.”
A hand appeared, groping around and Kuroo handed them to him. They disappeared under the covers and then the phone connected to the jack disappeared too. In mere seconds, Kuroo heard soothing music emitting from under the covers.
Kuroo gently sat next to the blanketed lump that was Tsukishima, and his hand rested on the student’s hip.
It took twenty four minutes for a small head to peep over the covers, blinking at Kuroo. He tried not to laugh. Tsukishima was honestly a mess.
As a make up artistry student, he often came home with make up on, and right now, he had mascara and eye shadow streaming down his face, and the nude brown lipstick was smeared around his mouth. Kuroo smiled a little and left the room for a few seconds to get the baby wipes from the bathroom. He sat back down and Tsukishima’s shaking hand removed his glasses.
Kuroo gently wiped the make up from Tsukishima’s face.
Tsukishima stared at his lips for a moment and then nodded. Kuroo turned to kick his shoes off and finally take his jacket off before he slipped under the covers with Tsukishima. The student huddled close, burying himself in Kuroo’s chest as much as he could.
It wasn’t long before Tsukishima finally managed to fall asleep, finally feeling safe in Kuroo’s arms.