Falling from the Moon
A "Please Save My Earth" fanfic
By Natalie Baan
She had said he was awake.
Issei looked up the facade of the hospital, more tired than he would have liked to be. Reading Tamura hadn't been that easy. It was so hot, if only there was some breeze...but one visit was finished, and there was only one to go.
It was cooler inside. He rode the elevator up, running one last time over what he planned to say and do, and at the door of the room he paused to take final stock of his mental state.
<No fear. Once I go in there, I mustn't show any fear at all. I can do this.>
<I have to.>
<Tamura-san trusts me.>
He opened the door, and Rin, propped up in the hospital bed, turned his head to look.
"Hey, there. I'm glad to see you're better." Issei walked in and closed the door behind himself. Rin was alone in the room; he'd gotten lucky.
Rin smiled, but those enormous eyes were fixed on him with a disturbing intensity. They tracked from head to foot, missing nothing. "You got your ear pierced!"
"Uh, yeah." Reminded, he reached up and gave the piercing stud a cautious twist. Rin watched him with apparent fascination.
"Did it hurt?" he demanded. "Did you cry?"
Issei reversed the chair next to Rin's bed and sat astride it, arms crossed on the back. "It didn't hurt so much when they did it. Since then it's been a bit sore."
"But did you cry?" Rin was pushing at him, challenging. <Did I ever really believe he was Shukaido?>
"Not really," Issei murmured. "Here, I brought you something." He handed over the brown paper bag. He'd tried to pick out some manga that Kobayashi-san wouldn't think to buy, books that weren't too juvenile for someone like Rin.
"Hey, great! Thanks!"
"I thought you'd like something to keep you occupied. You must be terribly bored in here...Shion-san."
The smile melted away, and for a moment Rin's gaze faltered. Then both blazed back to life. "Ha! Dummy! I'm Shukaido, remember?" He leaned slightly toward Issei, pointing toward his own chest. "Shu-kai-do," he spelled out, very slowly and deliberately.
"No. You /are/ Shion." Issei dropped his eyes. Better not to look and be afraid, maybe show some of that fear in his glance. There was a brief silence.
"He told you." The voice was light silk now, not velvet, but the tone was pure Shion danger.
"You let it slip, while you were unconscious." /Turn him, turn the anger, keep him away from Haruhiko./ "Your mind was unguarded, and I recognized you then. I'm only amazed no one else has figured it out. In hindsight, it seems so obvious." Issei found he was actually able to laugh. "I admit, you were very good. That evolutionary theory speech was quite well done. But what followed, when you were confronting each of us--much too aggressive, Shion-san. It was out of character for Shukaido. Although it served the purpose: at the time, we were all too shocked by it to think clearly." He tipped his head consideringly, still not looking at Shion. "And the things you knew about us--some of those things anybody would have known. What you said about Shusulan, Hiragi, and Mokulen, at least. Gyokulan--you knew him in school, didn't you? So did Shukaido. Either of you could have known about the earring. And my favorite Earth foods? That was stretching it. You really didn't know me well at all, did you? But Shukaido had access to our medical records and our psychological profiles, personal information about us that only he would know, if we had thought to test you on that.
"But why would we? Why would we suspect that you might be lying? We all trusted you. It was easy for you to fool us."
"So. And what are you going to do about it?"
Issei hugged the back of the chair casually. It kept him from shivering. Invisibly, electricity had begun to tremble in the room, and darkness, and a hint of moving air. He could feel the force of Shion's will and the atmosphere of his personality very clearly, but there was no suggestion at all of what he was thinking or feeling. His mind was a solid barrier.
"Enju. Don't get in my way. It wouldn't be a good idea."
"I don't doubt it. But...." Issei turned his head finally, looked full in Shion's eyes.
"I have Shukaido's keyword. And Mokulen's."
You could fall into those eyes and drown.
--"Oh, hello, Nishikiori-kun. Rin-kun's awake now."
"Yes, just yesterday he woke up at last. I was so relieved. Although...." Her voice trails off from whatever she was going to say, in some sort of reservation.
"Sakaguchi-san." He kneels down next to her on the grass. "Do you trust me?"
"I'm going to ask an awful thing of you. I'm sorry--but I need to ask you about your moon dream." She starts to close herself off, reaching out to gather her school bag, and he hurries, before she stops listening entirely. "You don't have to believe you're Mokulen. Only remember your dream. Will you do that?" Alice huddles away from him, unresponsive. "Sakaguchi-san, would you do it for Rin-kun? Would you do it to help him?"
She looks up at him then, those wide, so sad eyes. Despite everything he is not immune--could have loved her too, loved her hopelessly, if he were not what he is. But there are other loves and friendships, and the instinct is simple to resist.
"Rin-kun?" she breathes.
He regrets the need, but has no other choice. "Will you, Sakaguchi-san?"
"Why? How would that help him?"
"I can't tell you. I wish I could. That's why I have to have your trust. Please believe that I mean only the best for him, and for you--and promise me you won't speak of this to him. I know how hard this is for you, Sakaguchi-san. I wouldn't ask at all if I didn't desperately need to." Every bit of intensity he can muster is in his voice and his eyes. If she still resists, he will have to push her, and he doesn't want that.
She is quiet for a long time. "All- all right," she whispers at last, seeming to shrink as she speaks. In an unthinking gesture of grief and pain, she raises her hand to her cheek. He touches that hand, startles her as he brings it down again, clasps it in his own.
"I'll be remembering it with you. Don't be afraid." He gives her his best smile. "Close your eyes." She does so, and he looks into the melancholy tranquility of her face. He lets his breath fall into a rhythm with hers, slowing both subtly as he reaches out, <*touches her.*> She relaxes with peculiar ease under that contact, and he is relieved. "Imagine yourself floating in the dark, floating back into your dream. Please, go back."
*He is falling with her into the dark. So dark--she remembers little about her past.*
*They fall for a long way.*
*Far out among those years of night, there is at last a yielding. The dark becomes a blur; blurriness fades into clarity. There is strange light, words spoken, a face, a touch. He traces the form of this memory but not the essence, respecting what he can of her privacy. This is not what he needs.*
*A sentence moves through him, though, shaking him with the conviction of its love. The words root themselves in his own mind, and he permits this--it could be important.*
*Memory ends suddenly, in a curtain of blackness.*
*Back. Very slightly. They linger in the greenhouse room, looking up at the Earth. A sigh whispers through them.*
*No. What he needs is out in the deep dark.*
<*Look at the wall.*>
*Puzzled, she follows the line of the wall and he follows her, seeking--there.*
*He leaves her conscious mind. It's so easy; she lets him do it without a flinch, in a pure and perfect receptiveness. Her mind is like nothing he's ever known, complicated and yet as shining and vulnerable as a very small child's. The patterns are alien, Keeches-Sahjaliann: young and ancient, set apart and yet so open. How can she be so open? It is no wonder she hides herself in the dark. How strange Shion must have been to her, how he must have hurt her--Issei almost takes that path into her memory, before he remembers and draws back.*
*Back to the wall.*
*Wall--wall unit--com unit--com--computer--Issei leaps association to association in a flicker of thoughts. At the computer, though, memory fragments into a thousand pieces. Too many lines to follow, too many interweaving links, a maze.*
*He cannot be afraid now, when he is so deep in places in her mind that she has no control over. He cannot leave her with his own fears.*
*He scans across the radiating links quickly, on a hunch, searching not for image but for feeling. She has many memories but few attachments to computers.*
*There is one moment filled with the bittersweet of loneliness.*
"You're lying," Shion said flatly.
"I haven't lied to you yet. 'From now on we will watch over and protect the Earth from here.'" He said it in the language of their old world, put into the words as much of the inflection that Mokulen had used as he could, so Shion would know it was not secondhand information but real, as real as his own memories of that conversation. "Isn't that what she said to you? I read it in her memory, just as I read her keyword. And then," Issei sharpened his voice slightly, keeping his stare locked with Shion's, "after I read it, I erased it from her mind. Completely. The only place that keyword exists now, Shion-san, is here." He tapped his own forehead and smiled. "You do believe me, don't you?"
Shion's eyes were storm clouds, their lilac shading darker and darker into violet. "Give me the keyword, Enju."
"I'll give it to you when Tokyo Tower is finished. And if anyone gets hurt before then--/anyone,/ Shion-san--I'll wipe it from my own mind. It'll be gone forever. No second chance."
More silence, stunned and furious.
Finally Issei stood up.
"Well. I have to go," he murmured. "I need to catch the 3:00 train." He turned the chair back the proper way. Shion's gaze had locked itself on empty space, was crackling with trapped energy, current searing in a closed circuit. "I won't tell the others that you've lied. I'm not your enemy, Shion-san, truly I'm not. I just don't want any more harm to be done."
The stare did not waver. Sheet lightning flickered among the clouds.
* * * * *
There was a real storm coming. Issei paused on the hospital steps and looked up at the thunderheads massing above the rooftops of Kyoto. A rising breeze swirled past him, catching his hair, lifting it away from his face.
If he were lucky, he might have won a little time for them all. He had gambled that Shion truly needed the keyword, that he actually meant to destroy the moon base and fulfill his last promise to Mokulen. From the reaction, it appeared he had been right. Now his life was balanced against Shion's anger. If Shion's self-control failed, Issei would be very dead, and soon after him Haruhiko and Tamura. It wasn't a game, not some strange dream to be shared among friends with a laugh, not something that could be put aside so that life could go on in its ordinary way. None of this was. But he already knew that.
<Jinpachi. If I'm going to die, I need to tell you first that I love you. >
<I just don't know how.>
Thunder moved in the air, and as the first drops of rain fell he began to hurry for the train station.
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