Falling from the Moon
A "Please Save My Earth" fanfic
By Natalie Baan
He'd welcomed Issei and got them both settled in the living room with Cokes before he noticed. Call it a symptom of distraction.
"Issei-kun--what the heck did you do to yourself?"
Embarrassed, the kid ducked his head and raised a hand to fiddle with the piercing stud in his left ear.
"Huh. Your dad must have had a lot to say about that."
"Um, not yet. I got it last night, and since then I've been walking around with this side to the wall. I didn't want to be grounded today." Issei switched subjects quickly. "How is Kasama-kun?"
"Better. He's out of the hospital."
"Mm. So," not to rush, but, "what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Actually, Tamura-san," Issei said quietly, "I was wondering if there was something you wanted to talk to /me/ about." There was silence between them as Issei's words sank in.
"What?" Kazuto breathed.
"What do you want to know?" Issei looked over at him, deliberate and steady, like someone who'd been getting ready a long time for this. /This/... it was a surprise, but it was better than Kazuto'd hoped for. If he had it right, Issei had just offered him a gift, information. He didn't know why, or whether any of it would be true, but it could possibly make a big difference. Still, he should go carefully.
"Do you know about Haru-chan?" he began. "Do you know who he is?"
"Are you like him?"
There was a pause as the kid thought about that. "We came from the same place," he answered finally.
"From the moon."
"Yes. And before that, from another world."
Even after reading Haruhiko's letter, talking with him, seeing what he could do, it was difficult to believe. But Issei was sitting there in broad daylight, his voice rational and sane as he said these same things. He looked like such an ordinary kid.
"Are you able to do what he can: teleport and move things around and so forth?"
"No. We weren't all ESPers on the moon base." Another long pause, with Issei measuring him. Hard to tell what the kid was looking for. "I was a telepath, though."
"So does that mean you can, uh, read my mind?"
Issei smiled and shook his head. "I'm only a low-grade telepath. I receive impressions, feelings, subliminal physical signals, sometimes flashes of experience or memory, but I don't get much detail unless the other person allows me to synch with them. In any case, it's rare for me to follow sentences or complete chains of thought, and I have to be familiar with the person or in close contact, or both, before I pick up much of anything. "
His glance abruptly flicked aside. "Tamura-san, I--there is one other thing I can do. I'm not supposed to, but I can, and I have. If someone isn't guarding against it, I can project to them. I don't really know how strong my influence is, but--that afternoon in the hospital, you weren't going to let me in to see Kasama-kun and I needed to, very badly. I leaned on you, Tamura-san, to get you to say yes. I am so sorry." Issei bowed his head, but not enough to hide a sudden flush. He was ashamed.
Did he really think he'd forced Kazuto to change his mind?
Was it certain he hadn't?
It just seemed too improbable. Of course, he hadn't been going to let Issei in the room, but Issei was a good kid. Hadn't he saved Haruhiko's life once? Kazuto would never have let anyone in who was a threat.
But if Issei could....
"I'll consider us even, if you tell me how to guard against that."
"Just watch out for impulses that feel wrong or strange. Think twice before acting on them. You're already protected just by knowing that it's possible. You'll be mentally on guard and that should shield you--from someone like me, anyway. I don't think I can affect you if I don't have an element of surprise."
"You don't know?"
Issei shook his head. "No. This isn't something they taught during our conditioning."
"Yes. On...on our home world, telepaths went through a very intense period of training, starting as children. Of course, the Sahches--the ESPers, I mean--had to be trained too, but they were trained in the use of power. Most telepaths were taught not to use their gifts, but instead to contain and limit them." Some kind of pain darkened his eyes. "'Taught' isn't a strong enough word for it. Shaped, maybe, or molded. They took us very young."
"They felt it was too dangerous to be freely used. Telepathy is a subtle and invasive gift--that's just its nature--and a rogue telepath, especially a strong one, is almost impossible to trace. It's possible for an ESPer to fly or move objects without interfering with another person, but telepathy is really only good for two things: altering your own mental processes, which is risky, or getting involved with someone else's, which is invasion of privacy. So only the most stable and promising were encouraged to develop their gifts, and they were tested constantly, to make sure that they would remain dependable. They all went to work for the government or the church eventually. The rest of us...." He lowered his eyes. "They filled us with cautions and prohibitions, every waking moment for years of our lives--they were gentle about it, but very firm--until we would never dream of using our gifts to affect anyone, in any way. Many of us became afraid of our own powers, and some actually begged to be...there's something called 'psychic surgery.' I don't really want to talk about that."
Kazuto tapped a cigarette out of its pack. "Do you mind if I...? Hmm. They'd conditioned you not to use your power. But you just told me that you've done so recently."
"Yes, and that worries me." Issei's voice started to shake a little. "Somehow in coming back I've broken free of the conditioning. I can do these things; there's nothing to make me stop, and I'm scared, Tamura-san, I don't know what to do, it would be so easy for me to--"
"Now hold it!" Kazuto took a quick drag on his cigarette, then leaned forward across the coffee table. "Issei-kun. Would you keep doing something that you know is wrong, just because you can? Do you believe you're that kind of person?"
"I--don't know," Issei whispered, his eyes wide and very dark.
Sunlight fell through curls of cigarette smoke. The silence stretched out between them.
"You've got the freedom in this life to make your own choices, right or wrong," Kazuto said finally. "That's a great gift. I have faith in what you'll choose. If I thought you were a bad person, I wouldn't have had anything to do with you."
"Thank you, Tamura-san." Issei breathed. The blue eyes closed.
"So, talk. Tell me whatever you want to tell me."
And for the next while Issei spoke softly, sketching the outline of a life on another world. There were many things he touched on that Kazuto had to let go by: too much to know and too little time. What he listened for instead were clues to the people, to what they felt, what they thought, what they wanted. There were things Issei didn't talk about, and he noted those too. Maybe none of it would be helpful, but anything that let him understand more of Haruhiko couldn't hurt.
And then there was that other person.
"You know that child," he broke in, and got a real quick sidelong glance for an answer.
"Shion," Issei murmured.
"Yeah. Anything you can tell me about him would be useful." He stabbed out the remains of his cigarette with some force.
Issei was shaking his head. "Don't, Tamura-san. Please. It's better if you don't get involved."
"I won't leave Haru-chan." Kazuto was afraid for Haruhiko, particularly afraid of stillness in him these days. His injuries could be responsible, but it might be too that Haruhiko was thinking of death. He wouldn't let that happen. /No./ "That makes me involved. I'll do whatever's necessary to protect him, Issei-kun. But I need to know what I'm facing."
"Yes, watch over Kasama-kun--I'd be grateful if you'd do that--but don't go looking for Shion."
Kazuto felt cold suddenly, no longer sure of Issei's loyalties. "Why?"
"I don't want to see anyone else get hurt." All at once Issei was oddly determined. He stood up and paced a few steps, restless. "I think I can convince Shion to stop. He's not entirely unreasonable...." Kazuto snorted in disbelief, and Issei glanced back, a strange and complicated sadness in his eyes. "I know what you think of him, Tamura-san, and it's true. He has done terrible things. But I've always believed that Shion isn't really a bad person. I still do, even now."
Naive? Lying? Or did he--know something?
"He needs to stop," Issei said. "If I can get him do that, will you let it go too?"
"Do you really think you can?"
"Yes, I think so. I'll do everything possible."
Kazuto weighed the choice a long time. So unlikely to succeed, but they weren't without defenses, and if what Issei thought to do might work....
At last, he nodded.
"All right, Issei-kun," he said quietly. "I trust you." Could Issei feel how much Kazuto was willing to let ride on that trust? Did he know? Kazuto gazed at Issei, who gave him a reassuringly grave look in return. Issei nodded once. /So./
"Well, then," Kazuto said. "I'll give you my phone number. Please call if I can help. I don't suppose you'll tell me what you're going to do?"
"I will if you really want me to, but there's a lot I'd have to explain."
"Too much I don't know, eh? Never mind; it's all right. I've been out of my depth since I walked into outer space in Haru-chan's room I'm getting used to the feeling."
Kazuto was surprised. "Haru-chan didn't tell you about that?" Quickly he described what had happened that evening, and he saw Issei's eyes go wide and wondering.
"That's incredible. It's--" Issei paused, and Kazuto could see him struggle. "Tamura-san, I hate to ask this of you after everything else, but--would you let me try to see your memory of that?"
"I'm not certain, but it could be something important. Will you trust me in this one last thing? I promise--I swear--not to touch anything else in your mind."
Kazuto tried to breathe deeply, to calm his suddenly speeding pulse. He'd trusted Issei this far. "Okay. What- what do you need me to do?"
Issei stepped close and cautiously took Kazuto's hand in both of his own. His fingers were oddly cool, their touch gentle. He sighed, then met Kazuto's eyes with a steady gaze. "Have you done any sort of meditation practice?"
"That's all right. Just take a few deep breaths, and relax as much as you can. Good. Now, think about that day. Start from just before you went to his room. Remember what it was like, what you were thinking and feeling."
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