Pairing: Pillar Pair (Tezuka Kunimitsu x Echizen Ryoma)
Warnings: BL, a bit of angst, character death
Author's Note: For clinck's TezRyo Revival!
It happens very unexpectedly and out of the blue one day at the tail end of summer holiday during Echizen's third year in middle school and Tezuka's second in high school at Seigaku. It's unexpected partially to Tezuka because his meetings with Echizen are always very scheduled; tennis on sunday afternoons, like clockwork, only much, much more captivating, and this is the way it has been since Echizen returned from America and Tezuka returned from Germany. As such to receive a phone email from Echizen like this that simply reads "Come. I need you," is confusing and enthralling and worrying all at once, and without replying or questioning, Tezuka puts on his shoes and goes, because Echizen has called for him now, and in Tezuka's mind, there is no other option.
Echizen's family has moved back into the old temple, and before he even gets to the front entrance, Tezuka finds Echizen kneeling in the grass along the side yard, doubled over on himself, and Tezuka is immediately struck with another wave of worry, because what can Echizen possibly be doing if he's not sick or injured? urged on by fear, he finds himself at Echizen's side in no time, and that is when he discovers that Echizen is not curled up upon himself, but upon something cradled in his arms: the limp body of a cat. And even as realization is dawning on him, Echizen looks up at him, eyes puffy and red, cheeks stained with tears, and says, his voice wet and thick and so unbelievably despairing, "He's dead, buchou. He's dead."
And all at once, Tezuka understands, and his limbs are awkward and in the way as he drops to his knees behind Echizen and wraps his arms tightly around the boy's slender frame even as he hears Echizen begin to cry once again. He doesn't know what to say; he never knew the cat, only how much it had meant to Echizen, how deeply he had obviously loved the creature, but he can comprehend loss, can imagine just how weak and lost and cold the boy must feel inside. And so he does his best to be strong and warm and there, even in silence, because he can say nothing to make Karupin come back, but he can do everything in his power to hold Echizen together, and so he will, he does.
After a few long moments that might have been seconds but also might have been hours, Echizen pulls away, and Tezuka rises with him to be surprised when Echizen shifts Karupin into one arm and takes Tezuka's hand with the other, and together, they send Karupin on to the afterlife. As Tezuka watches the flames die down, Echizen's hand still tight around his own even as they sit seiza beside one another, he feels more privileged than anything to be the one that Echizen wants with him at a time like this, and afterwards, when Echizen collapses into his chest and wraps his arms around Tezuka just so tightly Tezuka finds himself hoping he'll never let go, he knows that this is what he wants to do, this is where he wants to be. Echizen may be Seigaku's pillar of support, but, when he needs it, Tezuka wants to be right here, by his side, to support Echizen.