Disclaimer: They're still Konomi's
Pairing: Pillar Pair (Tezuka Kunimitsu x Echizen Ryoma)
Warnings: BL, a bit of angst.
Author's Note: Sequal to Support. For clinck's TezRyo Revival!
It's a few months before Tezuka makes his decision, but things have been changing, minute by minute, day by day, ever since that first afternoon he saw Echizen cry. They meet up for tennis the following Sunday, as per normal, but Echizen looks so small and helpless on the opposite side of the net, not at all like the formidable opponent he's supposed to be, that Tezuka asks him if he's all right, and instead of answering, Echizen begins to cry again. And before he can even think about it, Tezuka is on the other side of the net, is wrapping his arms around Echizen and holding him close, because Echizen needs him, and how couldn't he be there for him?
They end up in a small coffee shop without having played tennis at all. Tezuka buys Echizen a coffee and he sits sullenly, looking tiny beneath the bulk of his jersey, tiny sinking into the plush of the booth bench, and Echizen has never looked this small to Tezuka before, not even when they were in middle school and Echizen hadn't even hit puberty yet. But he doesn't say anything, he simply watches as Echizen dries his tears and drinks his coffee, because he doesn't want to intrude and he doesn't think the silence is uncomfortable. Echizen looks at him a few times, but he isn't sure if it's an expectant sort of look or just a look, and so he looks away, and when they're done, he walks Echizen to the train station before going his own way.
The second meeting goes much in the same manner, though the tears are shorter lived. Tezuka buys himself a coffee this time, too, in order to distract himself from the worry that he's trying to push from his mind as to Echizen's state of mental health, sips it silently, surveying Echizen and having to look away when he's caught staring. This time, Echizen attempts to start a conversation twice, but Tezuka suddenly feels awkward and isn't sure how to respond, and so they end up in silence again, though Tezuka doesn't mind. He thinks Echizen should be well enough to take himself to the train station today, but when he turns to go, something in him tightens a little, and so he walks with him anyway, because he simply couldn't force himself not to.
The third time, they play tennis as per normal, only it's not normal, because Echizen's still frail and small on the opposite side of the court and he doesn't put up much of a fight, either, and then the fourth time, it's back to coffee again. Tezuka's worried but doesn't know what to say, so he buys the hot drink and walks Echizen to the train station, wracking his brains with a way to fix this and not knowing how, or why it matters so much, but oh god, it matters, it matters more than anything, and Tezuka has never been one for denial. He lies awake at night after the fifth time, the sixth time, the seventh time, but he doesn't know how he can solve what's been done, still can't figure out why he so desperately wants to. But he has to, he has to, and so, better late than never, Tezuka comes up with the best solution he can think of.
He arrives at the tennis courts the following Sunday without his tennis things, carrying only a small case in his arms. Echizen greets him with a look of curiousness, but when Tezuka hands the case to him, it melts into an expression that Tezuka cannot describe in words but knows he will remember for years and years and years to come. When Echizen begins to cry, worry creeps up inside his stomach, and he begins to explain, but Echizen completely ignores him and drops to his knees, setting the case on the courts to open it up and pull the small calico kitten into his arms, holding it to his chest. She's from the pet store, Tezuka disclaims quickly, and she's not to replace Karupin, but I just thought--
But that's when Echizen rises again, smiling that stupid cocky smile through his tears and kisses Tezuka resolutely on the lips, effectively shutting him up. When the break apart, Echizen's still grinning, and he doesn't pull away, only stands on his toes, leaning against Tezuka's chest, the kitten between them, and all of a sudden, he doesn't seem so small anymore. I'll call her Buchou, Echizen murmurs, and it's at that moment that Tezuka suddenly realizes why it mattered so much all along.