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
Y’all probably thought I was dead, huh? That’s fair. I haven’t written in a long while (so many stressful things in this past year) so I apologize for any gaps in quality. I hope to be able to pick this story back up more regularly. I appreciate all your support in my absence from this story and nothing would make me happier than to see those expectations fulfilled. Now, onward…
Chapter 04 – Homecoming
When Kagami had burst into that room and made his proclamation, he hadn’t expected things to be this difficult. He figured it would be much like in the movies. The big reveal, cut to the happy ending and that would be the end of that.
What he hadn’t expected was the mass amount of paperwork and people you have to deal with in order to actually become a foster parent. He didn’t realize you needed background checks and for someone to look into your entire history. He didn’t know that the interviewer would have to pick apart your lifestyle to make sure you had the suitable qualities to maintain a healthy household. He didn’t know his apartment was so dangerous and non-kid friendly until the lady had written him a list of everything that needed fixing before she would even consider a follow up inspection. He hadn’t thought of the fact that the room that contained all his exercise equipment was now going to have to be moved into the living room or storage because little Tetsuya would need a room of his own.
Now having faced down all those difficulties and headaches after an agonizing three month period, he knew full well why the movies cut to the happy ending. He had a new found respect for his own adoptive mother. If Alex had put up with all of this, adopting both him and Tatsuya when they were problem children, she must have really loved them.
Now, however, with his apartment fixed, his exercise room now sporting the hollow makings of a kid’s room and his pen now lingering over the last line on the official government document, he felt like it was all worth it.
Kuroko’s leg had finally healed up enough for him to be released from the hospital and the kid had been waiting for Kagami to get everything ready.
He was already working on rehabilitation and Kagami had been briefed (although he figured it was more of a lecture) by the jerk doctor about the risks involved in home-care. He now knew the full, detailed list of all of Kuroko’s medication and side effects which Midorima had conveniently printed out for him. Kagami was certain he only did it to be condescending because he figured Kagami wouldn’t be able to remember any of it. He was probably right. There was just too much information; too many conflicting side effects.
However, Kagami had taken that sheet home and stuck it to his kitchen wall with tape so it would never run the risk of getting lost. He made sure to stick it right beside the calendar too so it would all be easy to find. He had already gotten the calendar and filled it out with all of Kuroko’s future appointments and check ups. It had been Tatsuya’s idea and a good one – Kagami would never have to worry about whether or not that rehab appointment had been at six or seven.
He’d moved everything around in his apartment so having a wheelchair in there would be no problem. He wanted to make sure that little Tetsuya could move around where ever he wanted to go and would encounter as little trouble as possible. It was also convenient that his apartment had a ramp to get into the building and an elevator to get to his floor. So long as that didn’t break down, Tetsuya would have full range of the area for when he was well enough to move around on his own.
Kagami couldn’t wait for that. Midorima had warned him that that could take months – or even years – but Kagami didn’t care.
He’d visited that kid every day for these past three months, even if he could only drop in for five minutes every day. He’d watched him go from that blank eyed stare aimed only at his knees, to his gaze being lifted and looking around the room freely.
He still hadn’t said a word to Kagami or anyone else for that matter but it was a small detail. He could see on those visits – and Takao confirmed it for the times when he wasn’t there – that Tetsuya had regained some of his life. His appetite had come back, even if he did eat like a bird. His complexion wasn’t as tired and was even a little pink sometimes. His cheeks were fuller. He didn’t smile but there were times when Kagami was sure he would have been.
He just needed more time.
If Kagami had learned anything in his past ten years after high school, it was more patience. Although he wasn’t exactly a poster boy, dealing with all of the adoption service politics and waiting for that kid to be well enough to come home had managed to give him a sense of humility.
Besides, he wasn’t alone. Kiyoshi and his family had already offered their support if he ever needed help and Tatsuya had made it very clear that if Kagami ever felt overwhelmed, he was to call him immediately. Even Takao had been supportive, saying he wouldn’t mind taking Tetsuya and Nigou off his hands some weekends. Kagami didn’t mind – Tetsuya seemed to like him. At least, Takao had been the only person to get him to do anything – from taking his medicine to actually eating.
Kagami figured Takao was pretty okay in his books.
His pen pressed down to the paper and he scratched out his signature before printing his name on the bottom. He then set the pen down on the stack and slid it across the table.
“Very well, Mr. Kagami Taiga.” The woman smiled at him, taking the papers and placing them into a binder. “We will contact you again in six months time, after your probation period, to talk about formal adoption.” She stood and Kagami followed, offering his hand when she extended hers.
The handshake was firm. “It’s been a pleasure working with you, Mr. Kagami. I look forward to seeing you again. Take good care of him; I’m sure you’ll do a good job.”
“I’ll keep a good eye on him, don’t worry.” He nodded simply and followed her out.
She gave him one last wave before heading on her way and Kagami sighed loudly. The sheer relief from finally being able to take Tetsuya home was overwhelming. He only hoped he was ready. He deserved somebody who could take care of him properly.
Once in the hall, he looked over to Himuro who had been waiting for him to finish up with the adoption agency. Kagami found himself thankful that Tatsuya hadn’t shot down his choice. He had been uncertain at first, worried that Kagami would wind up stretching himself too thin but after they’d both talked with their mother over the phone, those worries had more or less faded out. Alex had been absolutely thrilled at the idea, even going so far as to tell Kagami that he always had the makings of a great dad. He didn’t entirely believe her but he’d be lying if he said it didn’t give him a confidence boost.
Himuro stood at the sight of Kagami and gave a quiet smile. It was odd to see him out of uniform these days but he’d taken a personal day to help Kagami get everything settled. “Everything set?”
Kagami rubbed a hand down the front of his shirt and sighed. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s official.”
“You look calmer than I thought you’d be.” Himuro nodded as he fell into step with Kagami, heading for the exit.
Kagami rubbed the back of his neck. “Really? I feel pretty nervous.”
“You’ll be fine.” He replied simply and Kagami noted how there was absolute faith in that tone. He glanced at him from the corner of his eye as Himuro smiled quietly at the ground. “You’ve got your heart in the right place. Now all that’s left is to take the kid home and prove it.”
“Easy for you to say.” Kagami ran a hand through his hair as the sun shined down on them. He looked up into the sky and noted how it was a flawless blue and even as his gaze lowered to the city, he noted how everything seemed to vibrate colour.
That was good. A perfect day to bring little Tetsuya home.
“Taiga.” Himuro spoke up and Kagami realized he spaced out a moment.
“Ah, right. Sorry. Let’s go.”
“Today is the big day, Kuroko. Are you excited?” Takao grinned, helping him stuff his little arms through the striped t-shirt.
Naturally, he got no response. Simply a blank stare and a neutral expression. Little oval blue eyes watched at his arm popped out the other side and then lowered when Takao went about fitting the collar over his head.
That never stopped Takao from trying, though.
“It’ll be nice to finally get out of the hospital and see the world again. You can go to stores and buy ice cream and take Nigou out to play.”
As if he understood the words perfectly, Nigou weaseled himself onto Kuroko’s lap and looked up at Takao with a happily wagging tail. Takao reached down with a grin and scratched behind his remaining ear with a chuckle. “That’s right, buddy. You’ll be getting some freedom too. Try not to terrorize the fireman too much, okay? He’ll be the one keeping your food dish full now. Keep the tormenting to a minimum.”
Nigou let out a single bark and tried to lick Takao’s retreating hand before it returned to Kuroko.
The boy had already pulled his second arm through his shirt without issue and was tugging on the ends to make sure it was properly in place. He reached up to grab at his breathing tube, which was now stuck under his shirt but Takao stopped him.
“Not yet, bud. We have to get you into your wheelchair first. You’ll be using that oxygen tank to help with your breathing now, remember?”
Kuroko didn’t look up at him but instead down at Nigou. The puppy exchanged the look, tail continuing to wag before he nuzzled into Kuroko’s side. Little fingers reached and pet his fur softly, rubbing at his side. Nigou attempted to roll over, in hopes of a belly rub but the position was too awkward and he settled for laying against his side.
“He’s gonna get big before you know it. Soon enough, you’ll be able to rope him to your chair and he could just pull you around.” Takao grinned. “You could probably even ride him.”
No reaction was given and Kuroko simply continued to pet Nigou. Takao got up then and reached his hands under Kuroko’s armpits. “Alright, come on, Kuroko. Time to get you to your new home.”
“You’re right on time, Mr. Fireman.”
“Kagami.” He repeated, annoyed. Takao had never fully broken the habit of calling him that and somehow it never failed to grate. He’d never figured out why either. It wasn’t like it wasn’t true.
Takao simply grinned, his fingers wrapped around the handles of the wheelchair. Kuroko sat in it, both feet settled on their rests but his legs were covered in the blanket Kiyoshi had brought for him. On top of it, Nigou was happily curled up and resting his head on Kuroko’s lap. Kagami hoped he stayed that way.
Kuroko looked up at Kagami when he saw him and simply stared. His eyes slid from him to Himuro and then back to Kagami.
The redhead bent down then so he was on eye level with him. He gave Kuroko a subtle smile – one just enough to lighten the usual grumpy expression on his face. “Are you ready to see your new home, Tetsuya?”
He was awarded with a blink in response before he looked over to the police van lingering in the patient pick up space. Kagami followed his gaze and rubbed the back of his neck. “Uhh, yeah. Tatsuya is going to drive us there. My truck is still in the shop. Besides, the van is bigger. It’ll be easier for you to fit.”
“You could at least introduce me first.” Himuro breathed a laugh through his nose before he gave Kuroko a smile. “It’s nice to finally meet you face to face, Kuroko Tetsuya. I’m Taiga’s big brother – Himuro Tatsuya. I’ll be around a lot so if you ever need anything, don’t be scared to ask me, okay?” Himuro nodded politely at him and Kuroko, after a long moment, simply nodded his own head in return.
Kagami looked up at Takao then. “So can we just put him in with the chair or does it collapse?”
“It folds, yeah. Here, I’ll show you.”
Ten minutes later, Kagami now had a perfect understanding of how the wheelchair worked and it was tucked in safely to the back of the van. Kagami buckled Kuroko up in the backseat and inched away as Nigou hopped into the van after them and curled back up on Kuroko’s lap. He wagged his tail as he watched Kagami adjust the seat belt and decided very quickly that that dog was never allowed in his room.
He buckled the oxygen tank into the seat as well for lack of a current place for it and finally ducked out of the backseat.
A few minutes more and they were on their way. Takao lingers on the sidewalk and waved at Kuroko through the window with a small wiggle of his fingers as the van pulled out. Kuroko watched him for a long moment and just before the van turned to cut off their view of each other, Kuroko reached up to place his hand softly on the window.
It wasn’t a wave but Takao would take it.
He was going to miss that kid.
The entire trip from the hospital to Kagami’s apartment had been a mass of his nervous babbling. His nerves had been building up in his throat and he wanted so badly to have Tetsuya feel welcome that he just couldn’t stop talking. He talked about the apartment, about the stuff around the apartment, about what was in his fridge, about how the place was set up and he would have kept going if Himuro hadn’t reached over and yanked on his ear.
“Oww!” Kagami yelped, reaching up his rub his ear and scowling over at him. “What was that for?”
“Stop talking; you’re just making yourself more nervous. Besides, Tetsuya is five.” Himuro rolled his eyes.
Kagami blinked. “What? You think he doesn’t understand?”
“No, stupid, it means he doesn’t care. He’s five. Kids his age like cartoons and toy cars, not the floor layout of your apartment.” Himuro snorted, clearly amused.
“Oh.” Kagami glanced up in the rear-view mirror to see Tetsuya was looking out the window anyway. Guess he’d managed to bore him instead of relax him. Off to a great start…
“Making that face. You’re gonna be fine. We’re all here to support you on your first day.” Himuro nods.
Kagami nods in agreement, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “Right. Right, sorry. I know. I’ll be- wait, whose we?”
“Surprise! Welcome home!”
Kagami blinked in shock as he stared into the front entrance of his apartment. Where he had come home, expecting to show Tetsuya his new home, he found a few familiar faces instead. There was a colourful banner tacked on the wall, stating the same welcome home message and there were balloons and streamers to make the place look more lively.
Standing before him was Kiyoshi and his family – his husband Hyuuga and wife Riko – and at their feet was their 10 year old son Shigehiro. They were all sporting smiles and Shigehiro even had a little confetti popper which he unleashed the moment they stepped in the door. The confetti fell to the ground and even managed to land a bit on Tetsuya. He only blinked, otherwise void of a reaction, but Nigou immediately barked in reply to the greeting and tried to catch one of the confetti pieces with his mouth. He was ultimately unsuccessful.
“Eh? What are you guys doing here? … How did you get in my apartment?!” Kagami questioned.
“Is that any way to react to a surprise?” Riko scowled him, gesturing to the walls. “We spent all morning on decorations, you know!”
Kiyoshi only chuckled and looked down at Tetsuya with a smile. His voice was gentle as usual. “It’s a welcoming party for you, Kuroko. We wanted to welcome you to your new home.”
“It was my idea!” Shigehiro grinned widely, pointing fingers on either of his hands at himself. “I made the banner too! See?”
Hyuuga crossed his arms. “Well? Come on; we brought a cake too.”
Kagami blinked, seeming to take a minute to process all of this before he looked over his shoulder at Himuro. “… You gave them keys, didn’t you?”
“Guilty. Now get inside already; this party is for you guys.” He smiled, gesturing in.
Kagami blinked.. but then a grin found its way to his face once the shock had worn off. Turning back to the family that awaited inside, he laughed. “Thanks, guys! You hear that, Tetsuya? This party is just for you! I’ll introduce you to everybody, okay? They’re friends of mine.”
“I’m Shigehiro!” The boy grinned widely, moving over to the wheelchair. “What’s your name?”
“Ahh, Tetsuya doesn’t talk much, Hiro.” Kagami tried but the boy seemed to ignore him entirely.
“Is this your dog? He’s cute! What’s his name? I love dogs!” He grinned, reaching out to pet Nigou, who was all too happy to soak up the attention. “I always wanted a dog too but Pops says the house is too full already.”
“It is too full.” Hyuuga retorted, moving over and grabbing Shigehiro around the middle. The kid gave a shout of protest as he was suddenly thrown over the man’s shoulder. “Quit crowding the kid, Shigehiro. You’ll have plenty of time to visit once they get in the house.”
“I wasn’t crowding him!” He protested, trying to wiggle out of Hyuuga’s hold but he wasn’t having any of it. “Gah, Dad! Help!”
Kiyoshi only laughed, following after them as they all slowly made their way into the apartment. “You have to take it easy, Shigehiro. We told you to be calm.”
The boy frowned up at him. “I am calm!”
“Oh, let him down, Junpei.” Riko waved a hand. “He’s just excited.”
“Fine but you better keep your voice down, Shigehiro.” Hyuuga moved over to the couch as they all poured into the kitchen and casually flipped Shigehiro from over his shoulder and onto the couch. The kid bounced a little but laughed any way as he straightened out his hair. He made his way back around the couch and over to Tetsuya.
“So your name’s Tetsuya, huh? That’s cool! Tetsuya, from today on, you can consider me your big brother!” He grinned widely, poking his thumb into his chest and looking particularly proud. “Your senpai! Your… your…” He looks a bit lost and then looks up at Riko. “What’s another word for big brother?”
“How about you just stick with big brother, huh?” She smiled, ruffling his hair. Bending down so that she was eye level with Kuroko, she gave the boy a soft smile as she hugged her knees.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Kuroko Tetsuya. Kagami has been telling us a lot about you. Sorry I never got the chance to come visit you myself. I’m Aida Riko but you can just call me Aunty Riko!” She grinned. “You know the giant over there already. That’s my husband.” She pointed up at Kiyoshi who frowned slightly. “And the scowling one is my other husband Hyuuga Junpei. Don’t mind his face; he’s not nearly as scary as he looks.”
“Oi.” Hyuuga protested, hands on his hips.
Riko ignored him, however, as she wrapped her arms around Shigehiro with a smile. “And this is our son, Shigehiro. He’s not quite your age, he’s 10, but hopefully you two can become good friends.”
“No, mom, we’re gonna be brothers!” Shigehiro protested before looking over at Tetsuya with a grin. “I always wanted a little brother!”
There was a pause then as everyone looks over at Tetsuya. Where normally one would fill the silence with with words, Tetsuya simply stared up at all of them. He seemed to acknowledge them all, taking the time to look at each of them… but that was all. His gaze fell down to Nigou again and he pet the puppy instead.
“Guess it’s a lot to take in at once.” Kagami chuckled, leaning over the wheelchair with a smile. “Don’t worry, Tetsuya. You’ll see all these guys quite a lot. We’ve known each other for a long time. How about I show you around the apartment first, huh?”
“Perfect; that will give me time to cut the cake!” Riko grinned widely.
Hyuuga immediately took a step forward to the table where various plates of treats sat out and picked up the knife nestled beside said cake. It was a small, simple strawberry shortcake, the icing decorated with chunks of strawberry and sprinkles with nuts. Upon seeing that, Riko scowled him. “Hey! I just said I was going to do that!”
“You’re not allowed near food when small children are involved.” Hyuuga replied.
Riko’s eyebrow visibly twitched. “How am I possibly supposed to harm somebody by cutting a cake, Junpei?”
“You could slip and accidentally stab somebody.” Hyuuga replied without missing a beat.
“Or yourself.” Kiyoshi added, looking worried.
“Or poison the cake!” Shigehiro added, far more cheerfully than anyone should probably say such a sentence.
Kagami chuckled nervously as Riko glared at all of them and started to go off, steam practically spouting out her ears. “Best to escape while we can.” Kagami mumbled to Tetsuya, grabbing the handles on the back of his wheelchair and scooting them away.
“Well,” He started, speaking a little louder so he could be heard over Riko’s yelling. “As you could probably guess, this is the dining area and the living room. I moved everything around so you should be able to get around the apartment without any trouble later on. Alright, this here is the kitchen. I put a couple bowls here in the corner for Nigou; I figured it would make it easier for us to feed him.”
Upon hearing his name, Nigou barked happily, wagging his tail as he looked up at Kagami. A slightly weary look, Kagami reached a hesitant hand down. Nigou nudged at his fingers a moment before Kagami picked him up with one hand and set him down quickly beside the bowls. He then rubbed his hand on his leg as if wiping off the germs. Nigou sniffed around the area then, happily trotting around the kitchen and investigating every corner he could stick his nose into.
“There, we’ll let him do his own thing.” Kagami replied, turning Tetsuya’a wheelchair around and exiting into the short hallway. Glancing down, Tetsuya continued to show no sign of his approval for the place so Kagami could only hope that Tetsuya would come to feel comfortable there. Continuing down the hall, he pushed open the door to the next room and flicked the light on.
He had an apologetic smile. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t really rearrange the bathroom but I measured it and it’s wide enough to fit your chair so there shouldn’t be any problem. There are special pieces I could get for you later so you could bathe on your own but the jerk doctor-” Kagami’s voice hitched and he made a face. Probably shouldn’t call him that anymore… he did apparently sign off on this whole thing. “But Doctor Midorima,” He corrected himself but the name sounded awkward on this tongue. “said if your rehab continues and you do really well on it, you probably won’t need it. That’ll be great, right?” He smiles down at Tetsuya but Tetsuya only continues to look forward, gazing at the bathroom in what Kagami can only hope is curiosity.
Well, he supposed a house tour wasn’t the most exciting thing for a five year old. He’d make it quick.
“And this room down here is my room.” He continued on. “My door is always open, okay? I’m always gonna be here to help.”
He grinned finally, turning Tetsuya’s chair around and pushing it toward the last door. Upon it hung a small sign that had his name with a tiny dog printed beside it. “And this is going to be your room, Tetsuya.”
Opening the door and turning on the light, he pushed Tetsuya into the center of the room and came to kneel down beside him. Inside, the room was rather plain. There was a child sized bed pushed up against the wall, a small bookshelf with a few books on the opposing wall to a dresser and there was a desk in the corner with no chair but a single table lamp rested on top. There were no decorations or extras around the room but Kagami didn’t look deterred.
“I know it looks a little boring right now,” He confessed, looking over at Tetsuya. “but I thought we could go shopping together and get you some clothes and toys.” Reaching over, he placed a hand on top of his tiny head and ruffled his hair softly. Tetsuya turned, looking over at him with a blank stare. Although the emotion wasn’t there, Kagami was simply happy that Tetsuya was giving him his attention. His grin grew.
“I wasn’t sure what you liked or wanted now that you’re out of the hospital. I thought we could go to a bookstore too – you liked those books that Kiyoshi visited with, right?” He pointed toward the bookshelf where a couple volumes sat amongst the empty shelves. “They were actually Shigehiro’s books but he doesn’t read them anymore so Kiyoshi said they’re all yours.”
“Oh!” He suddenly snapped his fingers and got up. Moving over to the beside table, he picked up a small silver bell that had a long handle. Grinning, he moved back and kneeled in front of Tetsuya. “This is for you, Tetsuya.” He handed him the bell, urging him to take it. After a long moment, Tetsuya reached forward a little hesitantly and wrapped his fingers around the handle. A soft chime sounded as he shook it.
“Takao said there wasn’t anything physical that was preventing you from talking; he said it’s from the trauma,” Kagami smiled softly. “and that’s okay. You don’t have to talk until you’re ready.” He pointed to the bell. “But if we’re going to make this work, we have to talk somehow so that’s what the bell if going to be for. Whenever you need me, even if it’s in the middle of the night, I want you to ring that bell. Whenever you ring that bell, I’ll come check up on you.”
He raised his hands then, wiggling his fingers. “And I thought we could make up some signs for what you might need. Like,” He makes a fist with one hand and raises a finger. “This could mean that you need to go to the bathroom.” He then started listing things off, raising an additional finger as he went. “And this could mean you’re hungry or want to watch TV or want to go outside or even that you want to go to bed.”
He smiled over at Tetsuya. “We can work on those later, though. I got the idea from my mom; she’s really excited to meet you. Her name is Alex and she lives all the way in the United States. She’s planning to come visit next month so you’ll meet her then. She’s great; she’s the one who raised Tatsuya and me.”
“So?” He nodded toward the bell. “Do you think that would be okay? Do you like the bell? We could try something else if you don’t.”
There was a quiet moment then as Tetsuya looked down at the tiny silver bell and then back up at Kagami. He seemed to contemplate it, staring back down at the object before he suddenly shook it. The chime sounded throughout the room and he looked back up at Kagami as the sound slowly faded.
Kagami’s face light up, his grin wide and he laughed. “That’s great! Now that’s yours to keep so make sure you don’t lose it, okay?”
Tetsuya looked back to the bell held in his fingers and soon let it come to rest in his lap. Kagami watched him, curious before his smile grew a little fond.
“Actually,” He confesses. “I have one thing left to show you but I wanted to make sure we were alone before I did. It’s just for you, Tetsuya. You can fix it up however you want later but…”
He trails off, standing up and slowly rolling his wheelchair over to a corner of the room where a small cabinet sat. Making sure that Tetsuya was able to see it properly, Kagami knelt back down and carefully opened the little doors. Inside, there was a tall candle, unlit and waiting with a bowl on its opposite side. A couple pieces of incense sat within it; they too remained untouched. At the center of the small shrine was a beautiful white vase, gold trimming along the edges and a delicate pattern of sakura flowers that seemed to be blowing in a wind captured along the ceramic. Placed in front of it was a small brooch that was a simple gold colour, the metalwork slightly warped in the shape of a sparrow that was perched upon a leafy branch. It had a few scratches along the metal but it appeared to be in rather decent condition.
Kagami sat back on his heels then, remaining silent a moment so that Tetsuya could come to his own conclusion about exactly what it was.
When he looked over at him, it was the most emotion he had seen from the boy since the moment he’d brought him home. His eyes were wide, fingers curled into the blanket that covered his legs and he was leaning just the slightest bit forward in his seat.
He couldn’t imagine any way in which this conversation would be easy… but he was prepared for it all the same.
“I know you couldn’t attend her funeral since you were recovering in the hospital…” He starts, his voice low as he shifts over to place his hand against his back. Even with the brief contact, he can feel the beginnings of tremours. “But I made sure that your grandmother would be here when you came. I’m sorry there is no picture; we couldn’t recovery any. The brooch was in pretty bad shape too but I managed to clean it up. I’m sorry I couldn’t find anything better…”
Kagami watched slowly as the tears began to trickle into Tetsuya’s eyes. A slow flood of fluid that built up along the edges of his eyes and swelled with each passing moment. He watched at how his mouth started to open, like he wanted to say something as the grief overtook him. The sorrow filled his own throat as he watched the sight unfold. Shifting forward, Kagami soon curled an arm around his shaking frame as a stuttered gasp choked him.
Those tears broke free from their hold and slid painfully down his cheeks. His little jaw clenched and soon his eyes squeezed shut.. and yet the tears did not cease.
Kagami couldn’t imagine having to deal with that much sorrow so young. Tetsuya had already experienced so much loss of life and he wasn’t even 6 yet. That was too much. No kid should ever have to deal with that. He wanted to mend everything, to make it right and ensure that Tetsuya would never again have to endure such hardship…
…but Kagami had never been very good with words, let alone gentle ones.
So, instead, Kagami shifted to the front of the wheelchair and wrapped his arms around the kid. The shaking hadn’t stopped and the gasping between sobs was the most Kagami had ever heard of his voice. It was heartbreaking. His arms curled around him further until he had him buried against his chest and he could press his nose into his hair.
“…Everything is going to be okay, Tetsuya.” He mumbled, unable to think of anything other than cliches to say. “Where ever your grandmother is now, I’m sure she’s looking out for you. You never really lose the people you love; she’ll be here for you whenever you need her.” Reaching a hand up, he pet the back of his head softly.
He knew he shouldn’t have said what left his mouth next but it was gone before he could stop it. He knew there was no way to genuinely uphold that promise; life was just too unpredictable. There were no guarantees.
But with a trembling, grieving child buried so deeply in his arms, what else could he possibly have said?
“I’m not going anywhere, Tetsuya. I’ll be here whenever you need me too, no matter what.”
The words fell into the silence of the room then, only broken up by laboured breathing. Kagami could hear chatter outside the room but it was only a vague hum by then. He let his eyes close. He had always known Tetsuya was small but it seemed like now, more than ever, he came to fully realize just how much. He’d been so tiny when he’d first picked him up off the floor in that burning wreckage. He’d been struck with the horror of what would happen if something so precious hadn’t made it through that night. He could remember seeing how small his hands were at the hospital; how childish his features were. He’d seemed so thin, so breakable… such a quiet soul.
Now Kagami had the opportunity to ensure all those thoughts and doubts and worries could be put on the back burner to make way for a hopefully prosperous future.
It wasn’t going to be a fast forward to the happy ending… but Kagami had never been one to take shortcuts.
Somewhere in the midst of his thoughts, he heard the light chime of the bell and blinked his eyes open. He shifted to pull away, to see what Tetsuya might want but was instead distracted by the soft tug of his shirt. Tiny fingers had curled into the material, pulling on it as if in quiet insistence for those words to remain true.
Kagami stilled… then smiled softly. He curled back around him, giving him another squeeze before he began to rub at his back. “Shh, shh… it’s okay, Tetsuya… everything is going to be okay now… everything will be fine… I promise.”
It would take time but Kagami was ready for whatever job this new responsibility would demand of him. There was no way he could betray Tetsuya’s expectations of him. Whatever Tetsuya would need of him, he’d be sure to fulfill that wish.
They’d manage just fine.
TO BE CONTINUED ★ ☆ ★ Constructive critique always welcome!