A/N: My first not-M-rated fic... yay for me!

I swear I am halfway done with the second/third/fourth parts of all of my incomplete fics. Really. And I just wanted to say I will post them sometime before my winter holidays end (in a week or so.) Also, please vote in the poll in my profile for my next fic, 'cause it's really tied and I really want to write the story, but I don't know who to write it with. I'll be closing that in about... idk, a couple of days?

This a/n is now officially far too long, and it's 03:44 am.

Any ways, I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.

Disclaimer: This belongs to no other than the brilliant Konomi Takeshi, and I make no profit money-wise, it only feeds my over-active imagination.


YOURS TO HOLD

Chapter 1: Almost Lovers

By: Cinammon Sweet


There were two men on the bed, sleeping.

One of them, the blond male, was enjoying his first day back in Japan, after three years away in his home town in America. Not like he considered it that: he had long since learned that home was where the heart was, and his was lying right here, in this beautiful land thousands of kilometres away from the place he was conceived in. Japan was his heaven, his sanctuary, it was the culmination of his every wish, and no harm could reach him here. In this over-populated island he was safe, from his father and his alcohol-induced abuse, from the cold, deserted streets of his childhood neighbourhood. Most of all, though, what made Japan the best place on Earth, wasn't what he was able to leave behind, but all of that he could come home to.

The second man was happy, simple as that. His days had been troublesome and long, his heart and soul yearning for the shape and build of the body of the boy he had to leave behind three years ago. He had come to Japan on his own for various reasons, neither of which seemed important right now. He had known and loved the boy besides him basically for all his life -though he didn't know the latter at the time- and he protected him from bullies when he was young, and kept him out of trouble when they were older. The time came when that did more wrong than good, seeing as the blond resented him for treating him like a baby.

When the issue got too big to handle without any consequences he knew they would regret eventually, he left to Japan, the country where his only living relative, his cousin, was. He had left an envelope, with a letter inside that said to look for him when he was ready.

Exactly three years and twenty-three days had gone by since then.

One of them had just woken up after their nap, and after a while, the blurry shadows he saw evened out to form the outline of his companion. Breathing in, he then let out a contented sigh as he looked down at himself.

Echizen was lying there, the bed cover going up to mid-abdomen. A thin, pale arm was draped across his slight waist, which was connected to the equally pale body of Kevin Smith. Both men's eyes had been shut in bliss, revelling in the silence. Echizen's right arm went around Smith's body, across his back to land on his shoulder, where he gave a firm squeeze. Captivating blue eyes were slowly unveiled, and he smiled fondly at the feel of the warm body beside him.

Shifting, the blond turned, left side down, facing him, and started drawing lazy patterns on Echizen's flat chest. He loved how they were right now. Just relaxing after all questions had been answered. There were tears and cursing and laughing, and a lot of kissing and snuggling, in a vain attempt to get reacquainted with each other's bodies, which were so differently shaped since the last time they had enjoyed the other's company. But, as much as he loved these moments with his best friend, there was one doubt still plaguing Kevin's mind. One question he had asked that only after a while he noticed had remained unanswered, expertly deflected by another question of the sharp Echizen. He hated to ruin the moment, but he could sense that this was as good -or bad- a time as any.

"Ryoma?"

"Hmm?" Said boy didn't open his eyes, he just sort of hummed and stroked the blond hair that stretched slightly beneath his shoulder blades once the usual ponytail was undone.

"That Fuji guy, he was your plaything while I was gone, wasn't he?"

"Will you be mad if I said 'yes'?"

The blond chuckled, "of course not. I was jealous, though, the guy looked so smitten and-"

"Kevin, stop." He rolled his eyes, never stopping the patterns in his skin.

"But, Ryoma... you can't deny he is hot. And he is tall- taller than me- and, and, well... " Kevin sighed, frustrated. He didn't know how to go about it. He was unusually tongue-tied, wasn't sure how to tell the boy besides him how stressed out he felt when he saw Fuji Syuusuke holding hands with Echizen, and how attached the blue-haired male had appeared. It made him, well, insecure. Which was definitely something he didn't like feeling.

He sighed again. "Man, was I jealous, insanely so. I just couldn't stand seeing you with him. You looked so fucking good together."

Echizen Ryoma finally opened his eyes, revealing golden orbs that stared with affection at the young man around his arms. He smiled as he recognized how Kevin's voice was strained at the end, thick with something he knew the blond would never admit to being tears, and felt once more a comforting warmth spread to his pallid chest.

He shuffled in such way that he was now partly hovering over Kevin, who was now resting on his elbows, while his right hand now shifted to stroke his other shoulder.

"Oi, Kevin", he stared at him until the pale blue eyes were once again facing him.

"Hi there. Now, listen to me, Kevin. I won't say Fuji was a mistake- please, keep looking at me- I won't say it was a mistake because it wouldn't be fair to him. He was a great companion and has a brilliant mind. But don't misunderstand me, Kevin. I left him the moment I saw you... there's just no comparing."

We won't say that they were crying at this point, though they probably were, 'cause not even at gunpoint could someone ever get either stubborn boy to admit it. So it's not worth it. But, a couple of treacherous crystal drops fell from one of their cheeks into the sheets, and they never felt as complete as they felt right in that instance. It felt as though, with those words, an invaluable piece of a puzzle had been placed, something was broken, and something had changed. Those words acknowledged the possibility of something more than the friendship they had always shared.

After all they had been through, all the happiness and mishaps, everything was fine again. And it felt so unbelievably good, to be 'all right' once again'; it was an overwhelming feeling.

After a while -a couple of minutes or hours, who cared- Kevin once again lied down, a satisfied tiny smile on his lips. Echizen, in turn, rested his cheek over his partner's heart on his chest, listening to the steady heartbeat, a smirk playing on his mouth.

"Kevin."

A slight jolt told him Kevin had heard. Echizen, in response, rolled over to his left again, placing his hands at both sides of the American teen's shoulders.

He leaned in until his eyes were about to cross over, so he could still stare at the light blue orbs.

Kevin shivered in response to the contact. "What is it?", he asked, trying-and failing- to look unaffected.

There was a short pause in which neither boy did breathe, and Kevin Smith watched in awe as sincerity pooled in gorgeous mossy-golden eyes, and his trademark smirk faded until it almost, almost, looked like a smile. Impressive.

"I love you."

Now that completely took his breath away, entirely. Kevin felt- well, he didn't know, he felt wonderful, exceedingly fantastic, awesome, happy, shocked, very shocked. What to say? Well, yeah, they had been together, since, well, forever, and at least he knew he would die if Echizen left him, he was everything to the blond. He knew how much he wished every single night the Japanese shorty was there with him. And heaven knows, they held hands, they kissed and hugged, they slept together and, well, they also slept together a couple of time.

Yet, even through all those years, never were these words uttered in any context, they just didn't. Suddenly, when Echizen said it with that voice and that facial expression, Kevin felt as though he had been waiting on those words all his life.

"Really?" was the breathless, wild-eyed reply. He hadn't realized how much he yearned for those feelings he never knew he felt. They suddenly felt so real and strong, and necessary. Consequences, if there were any, could just go to hell, or more realistically, dealt with in a (long) while.

Echizen chuckled. He could practically read those thoughts off Kevin's eyes. Actually, he had felt almost exactly the same thing when he'd come to the conclusion that he loved the teen currently beneath him. It had been a bitter-sweet moment, for it was Fuji Syuusuke who had led him to understand the true depth of their relationship. They became best friends after that, seeing as Fuji thought Echizen should lay off any kind of relationship until he figured how to go about this new found piece of information. Echizen wasn't sure how the teen prodigy knew half the things he knew, but he was damned grateful he did.

"Yes, really... what? Are you gonna hit me or something?" Kevin had a strangely unreadable face as he brought a slightly cold right hand up, before cupping Echizen's cheek with it, forcing their faces -their mouths, specifically- closer together, in such an angle that Echizen was left staring at the left side of Kevin's neck.

"Actually, no..." he trailed of for a second, as he let his lips brush ever so slightly against the lips of his best friend. 'My best friend and my lover' he thought, content.

"I might kiss you, though."

It was probably Echizen the one who closed the insignificant distance between them but, as you already know, there's no such pride as that of an Echizen, or a Smith, for that matter, so I guess we'll never know. Regardless of who initiated it, both of them continued it, a kiss that started out rather urgently and hungry, and oddly enough, turned softer as seconds tick-tocked by. Eventually they found themselves barely touching each other, but it was such a sweet feeling, such a sweet moment, it felt as though they were drowning in themselves.

After a little while, the Japanese teen resumed his previous position, lying on Kevin's chest, ecstatic yet entirely too aware of the lack of response from the body he was holding on to. But he could and he would wait, he was lucky enough not to be rejected, being accepted was far too much to ask for. He knew he loved the American boy, to an extent he only now could fully comprehend, but one thing was clear in his young adult's mind: he was willing to take whatever Kevin was willing to offer. He would not force himself onto him, he would wait, and though he knew the boy-boy factor was not an issue, not since the disastrous first time they slept together, he still refused to count his chickens before the eggs hatched... or whatever the saying said.

Kevin knew this too, as he gently slid his fingers through Echizen's soft hair, he knew he hadn't given an answer. It wasn't because he had doubts, hell no, it's just... well, he had just figured things out and didn't want to jinx it, this whole situation. It was far too perfect to be rash and make statements before he was able to fully seize this growing feeling he felt on the pit of his belly, the one that screamed 'I love you, Echizen Ryoma!' and urged him to shout it out loud.

But he would wait, just a little more. Like he had said before, this was too special to be taken lightly, and he didn't dare to think about what could happen if it all went wrong.

"Just a little longer, okay?"

It was obvious they hadn't need of any more words to understand each other. Echizen loved Kevin, and that made the blond so happy, everything felt so surreal. He kissed the top of his head and fell back down onto the pillow.

Echizen only hugged him tighter.

"Just a little longer..." was the last thing the Japanese tennis prodigy heard, in the whispered voice of his favourite person, as he drifted to sleep in the arms of the one he loved.