Character/Pairing: Papa!Kagami, Foster Kid!Kuroko; future M/M and M/F pairings
Summary: After rescuing 5 year old Kuroko from a fire that took the life of his only living relative, Kagami Taiga takes the responsibility of raising him upon himself and soon undergoes the troubled – and often hilarious – life of a single father.
Inspired by the featured header artwork of Maruniko
Warning(s): family fluff, future shonen-ai, comedy, hurt and comfort, awkward papa!Kagami
This is the first half (of two) of hospital bound!Kuroko – the second half will be of Kagami and Kuroko finally meeting. I hope you enjoy the chapter and reviews/constructive critique are welcome!
Chapter 02 – First Week (Part One)
Kagami had visited the hospital every day for the next week. He visited on his days off and he visited when he was off duty. He even dropped in once with Kiyoshi when they were out on a run to grab the firehouse coffee.
The first day had probably been the hardest.
He’d gone to the hospital the very night after they’d managed to subdue the flames and his role in the matter was dwindled out until he could write his report in the morning. However, upon trying to see the kid, he was refused on sight.
Apparently the kid’s name was Kuroko Tetsuya and defenseless little Tetsuya had inhaled too much smoke and suffered multiple third degree burns to his neck, right leg and foot.
He was in critical care and honestly, the doctor had told him with an almost apologetic look, they weren’t entirely sure he was going to last the night. The damage to his lungs was severe and even if he did survive, most of the damage would be permanent.
Kagami had stayed at the hospital the entire night.
Kiyoshi showed up somewhere around 5 in the morning with a large cup of coffee for him and to sit. They didn’t speak much at first. They sipped at their coffees and watched doctors and patients alike walk around as they sat in the waiting room. It was still and quiet and the longer Kagami sat there, the more restless he got.
“It’s not your fault, you know.”
Kagami startled, looking over at Kiyoshi who was busy staring up at the ceiling. When Kagami looked at him, he glanced at him from the corner of his eye before he tilted his head down and gave him an easy smile. “It’s not your fault.” He repeated.
Kagami looked stubbornly back down at his coffee. “If I’d have checked that room first, he might have been fine.”
“You had no way of knowing that.” Kiyoshi balanced his coffee on his lap. “You can’t do this to yourself, Kagami. If you blame yourself for every person who gets hurt under your watch, it’ll start to eat at you.”
Kagami ran a hand through his hair, a frustrated expression crossing his face. “He’s just a kid, Kiyoshi.”
Reaching a hand over, Kiyoshi patted Kagami’s back softly. “I know but kids are resilient. He’s probably a fighter.”
“You can’t possibly know that.” Kagami retorted, sitting up more so that Kiyoshi’s hand falls away and he can slump back against the chair. His back was stiff. Hospital chairs were not meant to be sat in all night.
“You’re right. I can’t.” Kiyoshi smiled all the same. “But I know you did everything you could and now he’s gonna have to do everything he can to survive.”
Kagami watched his expression for a long moment before he looks away with a sigh. “How do you do it?”
“Stay so optimistic about all of this. Didn’t someone die under your watch?” He looks back at Kiyoshi and his chest tightens in guilt when he sees Kiyoshi cast a quiet smile down at his cup. “Wait, that’s not–“
“It’s alright. It’s the truth.” Kiyoshi takes a long sip from his coffee then and gets it back to balance on his thigh. “But according to the coroner report, she had passed away from inhaling the smoke long before I got to her. She was gone before we even got the call. In all likelihood, she probably didn’t wake up at all.”
Kagami remained silent, unsure what to say. The news didn’t sit well with him and the guilt still lingered from having spoken without thinking again. It was a bad habit he had never been able to kick but at least now he had more clarity in what he said. Slightly.
His mind re-played that sentence. “Wait, she?”
“Kuroko Tetsuya’s legal guardian. She was his grandmother.”
“Grandmother? What about his parents?”
“They died in a car accident shortly after he was born. His grandmother was his only living relative so she formally adopted him shortly after.” Kiyoshi relayed the information but then looked at Kagami with slight confusion. “I thought you’d have heard about this already. Isn’t Himuro working the case?”
“Tatsuya?” Kagami blinks in equal surprise. “What’s the police department got to do with this case? Wasn’t it just faulty wiring?”
“That’s what we concluded but apparently there is something fishy about the contractor who built the place. I only overheard our supervisor talking to the Chief about putting out a warning to anybody else who had gotten their houses built by the same contractor.” Kiyoshi rubbed the back of his neck. “This was the first house fire that resulted in a fatality though so they’re treating it pretty seriously. I just got finished giving my official statement to the police about my findings before I came here.”
“…. The Fire Chief is pissed I took off, isn’t he?” Kagami paled.
“Yep.” Kiyoshi replied simply and Kagami put his head in his hands with a groan. Kiyoshi grinned and clapped him on the back with a chuckle. “Hey, you had bigger priorities. Just write your report before you go talk to him and maybe he’ll be less likely to bury you in the river bank.”
“This sucks..” He mumbled into his fingers, his mind already playing out the scolding he was going to get.
There were a distinct set of footsteps that strode down the hall then and Kagami saw a pair of dress shoes through the gaps in his fingers.
He sat up quickly then and looked up just as the doctor pushed up his glasses and said, “You’ve multiplied. Didn’t I tell you to go home?”
Kagami stood up immediately and Kiyoshi followed a little more slowly. “Is he okay?!”
“Keep your voice down. This is a hospital.” He replied simply before looking over to where Kiyoshi had extended his hand. He stared at it a moment.
Kiyoshi grinned. “I take it your Kuroko’s attending doctor?”
“I am.” He finally extended a hand and graced Kiyoshi with a single shake before retracting it. “I’m Dr. Midorima. I’m the Head of Emergency. And you’re…?” His eyes slide between the two.
“Kiyoshi Teppei. I’m Kagami’s partner.” He replies simply and feeling Kagami’s annoyance growing, he adds, “How is he?”
Midorima glanced between the two and then turned his gaze down to his clipboard. “He’s showing surprising progress. He’s still in surgery but his heart rate has remained relatively steady and he’s being treated for his burns. They’re fairly severe but it seems he was lucky that the burn didn’t damage his common carotid artery.”
“His what?” Kagami asked, feeling slightly lame when Midorima looked over at him with a look he was certain was calling him stupid.
“It’s an artery in your neck. Since it was undamaged, he won’t require surgery for his neck but the placement is going to cause him a lot of pain as it heals. We’ve put him on a low dose of pain killers – considerate for his age, of course.”
“So he’s awake?” Kagami asked, hopeful.
“No, not yet.” Midorima shock his head. “That’s the least of his worries.”
Kagami’s expression dropped and Kiyoshi gave him a sympathetic look. “What do you mean? What else is wrong?”
“The damage to his lungs and leg are irreversible. His lungs are currently working at half capacity. We have him on oxygen and we’ll have to see how he does off of it when he wakes up but it’s not looking good.”
Kiyoshi continued to do the talking as Kagami seemed to be struggling to take all this in. “But he’s still young. What are the chances of his lungs repairing themselves as he gets older?”
Midorima pushes up his glasses as he lets the clipboard rest on his side. “It’s a possibility but the scaring may cause complications as he grows. In any case, we aren’t relying too heavily on it and it’s looking like he will have to be on oxygen. At least until we start to see some improvement.”
“What about his leg?” Kagami cuts in. One of his hands is bundled into a fist at his side while the other gestures absently. “You said his lungs and his leg.”
“The burn Kuroko Tetsuya received on his leg consumes his entire right foot and extends so far as mid thigh. The most severe damage is to his calve. Most of the muscle there has been consumed.”
“Consumed?” Kagami question for clarification and clenched his jaw when Midorima gave him that look again.
“It’s dead. The muscle there won’t simply grow back or repair itself. Surgery is currently in the process of removing it.”
Kagami looked a bit panicked and Kiyoshi put a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to relax him. “They’re removing his leg?! But he’s just a kid!”
This time when Midorima looked at him, he scowled. “They’re removing the muscle, not the leg. The damage done to it is beyond help and the best we can hope to do is make sure he will still be able to use it to some extent through rehabilitation and corrective surgery. His age has nothing to do with it. Trauma doesn’t pick by age, Mr. Kagami, and this is the last time I will be telling you to keep your voice down. Kuroko Tetsuya is not my only critical care patient and you would do well to mind the others.”
Kagami bit the inside of his cheek then to keep from retorting. He knew Midorima was right on multiple accounts but the frustration he felt was building too rapidly.
“Kagami, go take a walk.”
“What?” He turned to look at Kiyoshi who, for once, had a stern expression.
“You’ve been up all night but I know you won’t go home and rest so take a walk. Even just a short one. Take a tour of the hospital. You need to cool down.” Kiyoshi smiled then. “Kuroko will still be here when you get back.”
Kagami had reluctantly obliged and his walk turned into a repeated action as the next two days progressed.
Day two, he had been denied seeing the kid because he was still recovering from surgery. It had gone well but Dr. Midorima had told him that they’d had to take more of the muscle than they had originally planned. However, with rehabilitation, he should still be able to walk – but not without some sort of aid. They’d know the severity of it all once Kuroko was awake and healthy enough to start.
Day three, Kuroko woke up. Kagami had felt such relief when he got the news but for a third time, he was denied entry. Midorima told him it was too soon and that the kid needed time to adjust. It wasn’t that Kagami didn’t understand but he wanted to be there for the kid when he got all of his news. All he could think about was that little blue haired bundle sitting in a giant hospital bed, surrounded by strangers five times his size and being told that his grandmother was dead and that he’d never walk or breath normally ever again.
But there had been nothing he could do so against his own judgement, he let himself out of the hospital with a few choice curses.
He had almost considered not coming on the fourth day – simply having calling in this time to see if that jerk doctor would let him see the kid – but Kiyoshi had other plans. It had been their turn to make the run for coffee for the overnight shift but instead of hitting up their usual coffee shop, Kiyoshi had taken the highway.
“Wait, where are we going? You just missed the turn off.” Kagami exclaimed, pointing a finger out the window and watching the intersection fall away from sight.
Kiyoshi grinned. “You still have an hour left before visiting hours are over. Don’t you want to check in?”
“I called this morning. I’m still ‘not permitted’.” Kagami retorted, the last two words coming out in a mocking tone as he pictured the jerk doctor’s stupid face.
Drumming his fingers lightly on the steering wheel, Kiyoshi hummed. “Well, it’s been hours since then. Maybe you’ll be allowed now.”
Kagami watched Kiyoshi a moment before he leaned his head back against the chair. His gaze lingered out the window as he watched streetlamps starting to flicker to life. “…Yeah. Maybe.”
“Ah!” A voice called out before Kagami as he entered the emergency room with Kiyoshi and he stiffens in surprise. “The fireman!”
Kagami looked around for the source of the voice but it soon trotted up to him with a smile. The man settled his stethoscope around his neck and made a low whistle. “You’re pretty brave to show up here after Shin-chan said no.”
“Shin-chan?” Kagami repeated, giving the man a strange look.
It took a few moments of staring at his face before it started to overlap with his memory and finally clicked. He pointed a finger at him. “Wait! You’re that EMT I gave Kuroko to the night of the fire!”
“That’s me!” He grinned in response. “Takao Kazunari. I’m a paramedic, actually.”
“What’s the difference?” Kagami questions before thinking about it.
Takao grins. “It means I’m higher up the food chain than a basic EMT. It’s also why I’ve been assigned to Kuroko Tetsuya.”
Kagami blinked. “Wait, I thought that jerk was Kuroko’s doctor?”
“Jerk?” Takao repeats, a little smirk tugging at the corner of his lips and his hands settle on his hips, his face turning down as he giggles a little.
Kiyoshi steps in then. “He means Dr. Midorima.”
“I know who he means. Although he’s been called much worse names before. Emergency patients are pretty mouthy people when they’re in pain.” He waves a finger. “Anyway, Shin-chan just signs the paperwork because he’s the head of the department. I’m the one who does all the dirty work and checks in on him.”
“How is he? Do you think I can see him finally?” Kagami questions, taking a step forward.
Takao watches him curiously for a moment before he shrugs a shoulder. “Honestly, you could have seen him yesterday if you had just come talk to me. All you had to do was ask who was handling Kuroko’s case.”
Takao looks thoughtful, knuckles pressed to his chin. “You must have done something to really piss off Shin-chan.”
Kagami can practically feel a vein popping in his forehead as his fist clenches at his side. “I’m gonna kill him!”
Waving a hand at him, Takao chuckled. “Just relax; Shin-chan has that effect on a lot of people. He has terrible bedside manner. Regarding Kuroko, I don’t mind letting you in to see him but he’s probably asleep by now…. and I’ve heard you have a problem with keeping quiet.”
“I don’t–!” Kagami starts, his tone a little too loud but he clenches his jaw and physically struggles to keep his temper down. He has to remind himself that Midorima is helping look after Kuroko to resist the urge to punch him in the face next time he saw him. That jerk knew how badly Kagami had wanted to see him and deliberately messed with him.
It took a few large, slow inhales before Kagami could feel the blood cooling in his veins again and a couple more before he felt himself calm enough to open his mouth again. “I’m fine. I can keep quiet. I just want to see that he’s okay.”
Takao watched him a moment longer before a quiet smile appeared on his face. “You’re pretty dedicated to this little stranger, huh?”
“I won’t wake him up.” Kagami insists instead of replying. His gaze was firm and his tone stubborn. “Please.”
There is a lingering silence there as Takao studies him and Kagami does his best to look dedicated before Takao turns on his heels and waves for them to follow. “He’s this way.”
Such a huge sensation of relief washes over Kagami at the words and he gives Kiyoshi a victorious grin before trotting after Takao. Kiyoshi simply gave them a wave, saying he’d be in the waiting room and Kagami gave him a quick wave over his own shoulder to show that he’d heard him.
Kuroko’s room was in a separate wing from the emergency room and as Takao swiped his card key, Kagami noticed the ‘critical care unit’ sign painted onto the door. He kept close to Takao as they passed nurses and their footsteps echoed softly down the halls.
“I gave him something to help him sleep earlier,” Takao started, startling Kagami. “so it should have kicked in by now. The healing process for these kind of injuries is painful and because of his age, we can’t give him anymore painkillers. He’d have been up all night crying and he’s already tired as it is. He’s been having a hard time dealing with the fact that half his leg is gone.”
“So.. they did remove it?” Kagami asked, feeling slightly ill.
“No; but they might as well have. They removed most of the muscle from his calve and they they had to use skin from his thigh to make up the skin grafts. They tried to minimize the damage so the grafts are a bit on the thin side. They’ll take longer to heal because of it.”
Kagami remained silent as he let the news sink in. He tried to picture what the kid would look like by the description but he just couldn’t. All the could think of was something that resembled a twisted mass of flesh and bone and he felt ill all over again.
“But there is some good news with all of this.” Takao turned back to face Kagami as he stands in front of a door. Kagami glances at it and then back at Takao with a confused look. “His left leg is perfectly fine. Minor burns that have already almost healed. He still has full use of it. The burn to his neck is healing nicely and at most, he’ll have a scar. So long as he keeps up with not touching or scratching at it while it heals, it should scar nicely as well.”
“And his lungs?”
“I ran a bunch of tests for them and although he will still need to be on oxygen, his lung capacity is higher than what we expected it to be. His oxygen levels have risen by a few points from when he was admitted.” Takao holds Kagami’s gaze. “They’re currently our top priority. You can’t live without your lungs, after all.”
“That doesn’t sound like very good news.” Kagami frowns.
Takao smiles. “You don’t think? Mr. Fireman, if you hadn’t pulled Kuroko out of that house when you did, I’d have already had to sign his death certificate.” He shifts toward the door and turns the handle. “Give yourself a little more credit. Kuroko is going to make it. He’s a fighter.”
Hearing those same words again from someone else seemed to settle nicely into Kagami’s ears. “Wait, don’t call me Mr. Fireman. I have a name! It’s Kagami Taiga.”
He watched the door open and saw that the room was dark; save for a dull but steady light coming from the monitors. He poked his head in and, at first, saw nothing but equipment and furniture. Even the bed looked relatively empty until he saw a small lump closer to the pillow. The blanket was pulled up and the only indication that someone was actually there were the little tufts of light blue hair that poked out the edge.
Kagami felt a strange sense of relief at the sight.
“Well, Kagami Taiga,” Takao spoke softly and Kagami jumped a little. He’d been focusing on the room that he almost forgot Takao was there. “You wanted to see him, right? You can’t very well do that from the doorway.”
Kagami looked back and forth between Takao and the bed before he hesitantly took a step into the room. His feet felt unexpectedly heavy.
He’d been so desperate all this time to see Kuroko with his own two eyes, but he had never thought about passed that until right that moment.
What would he do if Kuroko woke up? What would he say to him? What could he say to him? Kuroko would have absolutely no idea who he even was. He was just another strange adult in uniform.
His feet halted somewhere between the door and the bed, his eyes lingering on the little lump. He could see a little of his ear from there and part of his cheek. It looked like he was attempting to curl into a ball but one of his legs was still sticking out. Kagami could only assume that to be his injured one. His eyes traced the perfect outline of it and tried once again to imagine what it could possibly look like underneath. He was so small already; how much thinner could it be?
Kagami was reminded of how light the kid had weighed in his arms with his little mutt and–
Wait. The mutt.
Kagami looked around the room, leaning to and fro.
“What’s wrong?” Takao’s voice whispered from the doorway and Kagami turned back to see him leaning against the door frame, blinking in confusion.
Kagami’s head tilted. “Where’s the dog? The one who was with Kuroko?”
“Ahh, you mean Nigou?” He questioned.
“Nigou?” Kagami blinked, making sure to keep his voice low.
Takao raised a finger and pointed at his own face. “He didn’t have a name and Kuroko hasn’t told me what it is yet so I had to call him something. It’s kind of cute, actually. They have the same eyes.”
“Kuroko and his puppy.” Takao grinned. “So I named him Nigou.”
“Nigou.” Kagami repeated slowly. That seemed… like the lamest name he had ever heard.
“Yeah, Nigou. Anyway, he’s still at the vet. I took him in while Kuroko was still in surgery, hoping he’d be bandaged up by the time Kuroko woke up.” He gestures his thumb to his ear then. “But it turns out he needed surgery too to remove his ear. I’m picking him back up tomorrow morning.” Takao grinned. “I’m sure it’ll make Kuroko happy to see him again.”
“Are pets even allowed in a hospital?”
Takao waves a hand. “Technically no but that dog is the only thing Kuroko still has left. I don’t care how many times Shin-chan tries to tell me no – as far as I’m concerned, Nigou is family now.”
Kagami looked back over at Kuroko and made a face. He supposed that meant he would have to see that dog again if he was going to be visiting Kuroko again. Frankly, he wasn’t too fond of the idea but maybe if he kept his distance, the mutt would leave him alone. He’d be injured too, right? Maybe it’ll just sit in one spot and not move. That would be okay. Kagami could probably deal with that.
“What are you waiting for?” Takao spoke up once more. “Didn’t you want to see him?”
Kagami stiffened at the words. He went to glance back over his shoulder but then decided against it. Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly.. and finally walked forward. He tried his best to walk slow so that his boots didn’t make much sound against the tiled floor as he crept around the bed.
His eyes never left the little bundle though. He watched as Kuroko’s little sleeping face came into view, draped in the shadows of the room but illuminated just enough by the light of the hallway for Kagami to make out his features.
He moved around the bed until he was finally standing directly beside it, looking down at the little lump.
He looked so calm; peaceful, even. Kagami never would have guessed that the kid was in any sort of pain. He was still and small and the sound of the heart monitor beeping steadily gave the sight a sudden bitter taste. Kagami took in the plastic wiring tucked under his little nose – oxygen, he assumed, and he couldn’t help feeling guilty anew.
If he’d just checked that room first….
His gaze traveled and he could see the bandaged that poked out from under the blanket as it lay flat against him neck. That was the injury Kagami remembered – the one that accompanied this little kid’s face in his memory. Even if it just scarred, the size of the bandage and how much he’d seen that burn crawl up the expanse of his neck, there was no way it would be a subtle scar. It wouldn’t be something Kuroko would be able to cover up.
His hand had reached out before he realised it and halted halfway through the movement. He hesitated, weary of waking him. By the sound of what Takao told him, he would need every second of sleep he could manage… but…
He was right there. He was right in front of him. He was stable and healing and alive. The kid Kagami had been obsessing about over these past few days was alive.
The reality of that was almost too much to handle. The relief alone was already crushing him.
Soon his fingers were touching his hair before he fully registered it and he brushed at a piece that was sticking up awkwardly. However, when he tried to pet it down, it sprung back up stubbornly. A couple more tried proved fruitless… but it managed to bring a small smile to his face.
He bent down at the edge of the bed so that he was on eye level with him. He kept his touch light so as to not rouse the kid but he showed absolutely no signs of waking. It was then that Kagami noticed the size of his own hand compared to Kuroko’s head and his little smile grew more.
A vague sense of a paternal connection swelled softly in the pits of Kagami’s stomach and he placed his hand full against his little head. He ran his long fingers through his hair and watched as that single stubborn strand sprung back into awkward place once more.
“It’ll be okay, Kuroko Tetsuya.” He whispered as softly as he could manage. When he didn’t move, Kagami retracted his hand and continued, his eyes lingering on his sleeping face. “The doctors here are going to take good care of you and I’ll make sure to come visit you every day until you can get out of here. I’ll come back tomorrow. Maybe you’ll be awake when I come and I’ll know what to say to you by then.” Kagami stood up slowly, his fingers lingering on the sheets as he continued to stare down at him.
He is silent for a moment before he turns to leave. He knows Kuroko can’t hear him but something is lingering heavily on his tongue. Words he isn’t sure how to form yet or what they’ll say when he figures them out. Even his throat seems to be stuck and frozen in the absence.
“Don’t–” He started but the word felt false on his lips; like he’d read the weight on his tongue all wrong.
He sighed. Guess he still needed another night to figure it out. That was alright, though. He’d gotten his main wish. He got to see that Kuroko was alright.
Now it was just going to be a matter of fulfilling the promise he’d made for him. The promise to make sure Kuroko didn’t have to go through this alone.
As he strode out of the room and Takao shut the door quietly behind him, Takao spoke up, “Don’t forget what you just said.”
“Hmm?” Kagami looked over at him as Takao turned to face him.
“About visiting. You’re the only person that’s come to visit him so far that hasn’t come to give him more bad news.” Takao nods toward the door. “Even if he didn’t hear you make that promise, I did. I’m holding you to it, Kagami Taiga.”
And despite the fact that the words almost sounded like a threat, a wide grin broke out onto Kagami’s face for the first time in days.
“What are you worried about? I’ve been here every day so far, haven’t I?” He turned to head back to hall, feeling that his steps seemed lighter as he walked away. He waves a hand over his shoulder as he goes. “I’ll bring him something tomorrow so make sure he’s awake when I come.”
“Don’t come too late.” Takao replies, a small smile creeping onto his face again and he looks over to Kuroko’s door.
“You’ve made quite the ally, Kuroko Tetsuya.” He mumbles softly to it.
“Things are looking up for you already.”
TO BE CONTINUED ★ ☆ ★ Constructive critique always welcome!