It's not that Daichi thinks they weren't ready for this whole moving in together thing. He and Kuroo have been dating for over three years now, through their last two years of college and their first year out of it. And Daichi felt it then, even as they were tied up with job hunting and the terrifying plunge into adulthood. There was this tug inside of him when he and Kuroo weren't together, this certainty that they should be. That mornings he woke up to Kuroo beside him were infinitely better than mornings alone at his own place.
So even if Kuroo's lease hadn't been up, and if Daichi’s entire old building hadn't smelled so consistently of feet, he would have wanted this. And Kuroo wanted it too, with such an endearingly stupid level of enthusiasm that Daichi had to put his face in his hands after he asked Kuroo to live with him, because Kuroo’s smile was so big it was like the actual sun just beaming down on him.
So it’s good, this new situation. The press of Kuroo’s chest against Daichi’s back every single night, the sharp elbow bumping his own while they brush their teeth. He loves these things, he loves Kuroo, and it’s kind of fun to still be learning new things about each other.
It’s… mostly fun, anyway.
Daichi knew there would be some things he would need to adjust to, things he didn’t know about before. Like the fact that Kuroo arranges his toiletries by size, lining up bottles of hair product and face wash in a neat, descending line, which is… kind of weird, but whatever. He didn’t know this hyper-organization wouldn’t in any way extend to their bedroom, where Kuroo has completely disregarded Daichi’s even distribution of storage space, and just puts his stuff everywhere. The number of times Daichi has taken a pair of boxers out of his drawer, only to find that the waistband bites into his sides because it belongs on his boyfriend’s skinny hips, is slightly maddening.
But all his clothes kind of smell like Kuroo now, which is pretty nice, and for the most part the adjusting is going along well. The odd things Kuroo does are, admittedly (upon pain of death), all pretty adorable, except for just one thing. One discovery that might actually drive Daichi to insanity.
He didn’t notice it at first, when they’d just moved in and had taken a couple days off work. They were both home all day, busy going through boxes, filling bookcases and cupboards until late into the night.
And then they went back to work, and Daichi came home that first day—hours later than Kuroo, because Kuroo works in a classroom and Daichi works in a restaurant—and going from the dark of night into their apartment damn near blinded him.
Every light was on. Every single one, down to the reading lamps, and the little one over the stove, even though Kuroo wasn’t using the stove. He wasn’t even in the kitchen, he was just stretched out on their bed, bathed in light, with a book in his hands.
“All the lights are on,” Daichi had told him after leaning over to kiss him.
“That’s correct. Look at your eyeballs distinguishing the difference between light and dark,” Kuroo said, patting Daichi’s head.
His smile was lazy and he was wearing one of Daichi’s sweatshirts, with his narrow wrists sticking out beyond the cuffs. Daichi feels he was justified in being hopelessly distracted after that. He couldn’t fully communicate that he has a thing about not leaving on lights that aren’t being used, because he was very busy kissing the smirk off Kuroo’s lips.
That was not an isolated occurrence, though. Every night since then, Daichi has come home to an apartment reminiscent of the lighting section of a hardware store. It’s a beacon. It could guide ships to shore through the most harrowing storm.
“Stop leaving all the lights on,” Daichi said directly, on the fifth or sixth night.
“I didn’t leave them on, I turned them on,” Kuroo corrected, which was such a stupid distinction to make that Daichi didn’t even know what to say. And Kuroo wasn’t wearing any shirt at all that night, which killed further conversation as effectively as the borrowed sweatshirt had.
“Are you going blind?” Daichi asked on the eleventh night, when the situation had not improved at all. “Will you trip if you don’t have the light of a thousand suns to show you the way?”
“A well-lit home is a well-loved home, Sawamura,” Kuroo told him so solemnly that Daichi thought this might be an actual saying, until he googled it while lying in bed and found that Kuroo was just full of shit.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked, flicking Kuroo’s hair and watching his sleepy eyes blink back open. “Why won’t you just turn off the lights you don’t need?”
“Who says I don’t need them?”
“I do! Why are you being so weird about this?”
Kuroo grinned, knocking the phone out of Daichi’s hands like a cat batting an offending object off a table, and then leaning on top of him. “Why do you care so much?”
“It’s a waste of electricity!” Daichi told him for the hundredth time, huffing under Kuroo’s weight. “And I have to turn everything off for you, which is the last thing I want to do when I get home.”
“Then just leave them on,” Kuroo suggested.
Kuroo nodded, like this was perfectly reasonable, and then curled up with his hair brushing Daichi’s chin.
Daichi sighed and wrapped an arm around him. “You’re like a moth,” he said, and Kuroo’s shoulder shook gently with a low laugh.
“Perfect,” he said. “That makes you my flame.”
“Because you’re hot stuff, Daichi.”
Daichi leaned over to bite the shell of Kuroo’s ear then, and Kuroo tightened one long leg around both of Daichi’s to pin him, setting off a wrestling match as undignified as it was immensely satisfying.
“Please, can you not leave so many lights on?” Daichi asked quietly after he’d achieved victory, with Kuroo pinned beneath him instead. “If you’re not in the bathroom, you don’t need the bathroom light on, right?”
“Hmm… I’ll try,” Kuroo said.
This was progress at least, and Daichi was too tired to push for more. He fell asleep with his face pressed to Kuroo’s shoulder, which had the dual benefit of blocking the light, and reminding him that every single lightbulb was illuminated in his home because he had a home with Kuroo.
The problem, though, is that Kuroo didn’t try. They’re two weeks into their cohabitation now, and Daichi has just come home to find it as horrifically bright as it always is. Even the light in the tiny closet that houses their equally tiny stacked washer and dryer is on, which is so asinine that Daichi becomes apoplectic at the sight of it.
“Oh. My. God,” he says. Yells, actually. He’s especially late tonight, and he’s tired, and it’s so bright he wants to wrap blackout curtains around himself and then hurl his body into one of those deep-sea trenches Kuroo has told him about for good measure. “Kuroo Tetsurou!”
“Jesus, Sawamura,” Kuroo says, blinking slowly as he comes out of their room. “It’s almost midnight.”
“How can you sleep with all these lights on?!”
“Hell of a lot easier than I can with you shouting,” Kuroo says with a raised eyebrow, as if Daichi is the only one being crazy here.
“Kuroo! You said you’d try and you didn’t try at all! Why not just leave the fridge door open while you're at it? That’s literally the only light you’re not using, and then you could waste the cold air, too!”
“Wow,” Kuroo says. He doesn’t need to point out that Daichi sounds like a miserly old man. Daichi's well aware, but he doesn't care anymore.
“Why?” he asks. “Why won’t you just do this for me? Why are you being so obtuse about it? And why—”
“Because I’m scared of the dark!” Kuroo shouts back, with his eyes gone wide like he’s just as surprised by this admission as Daichi is.
“You’re…” Daichi begins uncertainly, all of his indignation having drained away.
“I just, I don’t like it,” Kuroo says, his voice shifting into something soft and embarrassed. “I’m okay if you’re with me, but you get home so late, and it freaks me out when I can’t see. It’s better if it’s already light when I go into a room, so—”
“Don’t make fun of me,” Kuroo says, and Daichi’s eyes burn all of a sudden, his throat becoming far too thick for him to say I wouldn’t, you’re okay, I love you.
He pulls Kuroo into himself instead, wraps his arms around him and squeezes hard. Holds him for too long, until he feels less like crying, and he knows Kuroo’s back is probably getting sore. “Tetsu, God,” he says before he lets him go.
Kuroo steps back just a little, so he can stand up straight. “I know it’s dumb.”
“It’s only dumb that you didn’t tell me. Did you really think I wouldn’t try to understand if you gave me an actual reason?”
Wide, rangy shoulders lift in a shrug, and Kuroo hangs his head. “No, I guess not. I just… I was teased about it a lot when I was younger, and—”
“Goddammit,” Daichi says, because now he wants to punch anyone who has ever made Kuroo feel badly about something he can’t help. “I hate having all the lights on, but I love you , stupid. If you need them on, you need them on, it’s fine. Don’t ever be afraid to tell me what you need.”
Kuroo’s lips tip up at the corner in this sweet smile, almost shy, that reminds Daichi of eyes meeting across a classroom and fingers brushing for the first time. Kuroo is so outwardly confident, so handsome, that most people don’t get to know how sensitive he is, how real and silly. They don't know how beautifully soft all his angles become with the right words, the right touch of Daichi’s hands.
“Okay,” Kuroo says. “I won’t.”
“Good. And I’m sorry, for being so late. Just a few months and then I’ll get to work more mornings.”
“I know, it’s okay,” Kuroo says, slipping his fingers between Daichi’s and leading him into the kitchen, flicking off the brighter lights as they go. “And I will try, it’s just hard in a new place. I can handle less light the more used to it I am.”
“It’s fine,” Daichi says, accepting the leftover takeout carton Kuroo pulls from the fridge for him. “I’ll just start wearing sunglasses at home.”
Kuroo elbows him, and Daichi smiles and picks out a piece of chicken with his fingers. (Kuroo called him a barbarian the first time he saw him do this, but he seems to have adjusted to it now.)
As they lean against the counter together, with just the light over the sink on, Daichi thinks that his boyfriend is really pretty good at adjusting. And that he maybe loves him even more, now that he knows another little thing about him. And that he definitely wants to do anything he can to show Kuroo that he’s allowed to be afraid, and that Daichi will always help him feel safe.
It takes him a few days to get a plan in place, and in those days Kuroo starts to adjust further. He only leaves some of the lights on in the living room and kitchen. The bathroom stays on, but the laundry goes off. After five nights it’s actually only softly lit when Daichi walks in, which is so nice, except he can see the bright glow under their bedroom door, and he hates to think of Kuroo barricading himself in there because the rest of the apartment is too dark.
When he says as much, Kuroo shakes his head. “No,” he says, “I’m fine. I just like our room best at night. It’s cozy. Smells like you.”
Daichi finds his rationality being totally overshadowed by his giant melted heart. He would light up the whole building for Kuroo. He'd light the entire city if he could, but since that’s beyond his reach, he just wants to make Kuroo’s safe place into the safest, warmest, brightest place possible. And when the weekend arrives, he’s ready, because all of the things he’s ordered for Kuroo arrive, too.
Kuroo is insatiably curious, pestering him all day as more packages join the growing stack. Daichi ignores him, but when Kuroo goes from asking what’s in them, to trying to open them, he finally kicks him out, sending him to pick dinner up and promising he can see what's inside them when he returns.
Inside of the boxes, there are lights. All of the lights. The stupidest, cutest lights Daichi could find.
Most of them are nightlights. Smooth ceramic ones in the shapes of animals, with light bulbs tucked inside; and round, rubbery Totoro-like creatures that can be set to any color Kuroo wants, or alternate between them all. There are strings of lights, too, some with paper lanterns, and one set with little plastic covers that look like colorful chemistry beakers. He was going to put them all over the apartment, but if Kuroo wants to stay in their bedroom at night, he’ll just fill that space with light. He’s going to have to use so many batteries. He’s one hundred percent sure it’s going to be worth it.
Some of the string lights end up in the other rooms, because he can’t make their room a fire hazard. And he sets some of the little night lights out there too, so maybe when Kuroo does leave the bedroom at night, he’ll be more comfortable with a glowing dinosaur waiting for him on the bathroom counter, or a row of cat lights over the kitchen sink.
He can hear Kuroo exclaiming over these things once he gets home. Little, happy sounds that become louder as he nears their bedroom where Daichi is waiting.
And then he comes in, and all the bedroom lights are off, but all of the new lights are on—and Kuroo’s face is shining like a star.
“What... are you serious right now?” he says.
“No. I’m returning it all tomorrow, so soak it in.”
Kuroo laughs loudly, his smile so wide as he looks around. “Daichi…”
“Tell me you love it,” Daichi says.
There are tears slipping from the corners of Kuroo’s eyes, and though he doesn’t say he loves it, he does shove Daichi onto the bed and say he loves him about a million times, with his face smashed against Daichi’s chest. Which is the same thing, but better.
“Can we sleep with them on?” he asks later, after they’ve eaten dinner in the middle of their bed, and all the lights are off except the ones surrounding them.
“Sure,” Daichi says, laying back and opening his arms to Kuroo. “I want you to feel good here, Tetsu. That’s the whole point of living together.”
“I do,” Kuroo says, settling into Daichi’s side. “I’m a little miffed that I didn’t know you were this romantic until now, but I feel… really good.”
Daichi laughs and holds Kuroo closer. He feels really good too, even after Kuroo has slipped into sleep against him, and even though he knows it will take him much longer to do the same with so many lights gleaming around him.
It’s too bright, it’s far too much, but Kuroo’s head is tipped back on Daichi’s shoulder—a smile on his lips, and the muted glow of all the nightlights that are keeping him safe, soft and golden on perfect, angled cheeks—and it doesn't even feel like much of an adjustment to have to make, after all. It seems almost more like a gift to get to spend every night looking at this.