Falling from the Moon

A "Please Save My Earth" fanfic

By Natalie Baan


Chapter 10



Damn it--Issei wasn't in school again. They were supposed to talk. Though truth be told, Jinpachi hadn't figured out exactly what he was going to say. He'd wrestled with it all night, hardly sleeping, and the morning had the too-sharply focused, everything loud and bright feel it got when you did that. His eyes ached, and he still didn't have the right answer. What the hell /could/ he answer? There was nothing he could say that wouldn't just hurt Issei worse.

Well, what did Issei expect, anyhow; what did he think Jinpachi was going to do, say okay, fine to--what did he want, anyway? What did "I love you" mean, coming from Issei? He'd made that connection to what Jinpachi felt for Sakaguchi-san, but that couldn't be right. You just didn't have that between two guys. You had friendship, like they had--like they /had/ had, before this--and you had the freaky gay stuff that went on, but....


It went wide and deep, what Jinpachi felt for her. It had wings and flew far beyond what he could capture in thoughts or words. He only knew that he'd watch over her forever, time without end, if she would let him, would cherish her, would try to be whatever she most wanted and ask nothing, because she was what she was and deserved nothing less. She was so much more than any person he had ever met.

Issei didn't know. /Couldn't/ know. And thinking about what he might be thinking made Jinpachi twitch.

"Ogura-kun. Phone call."

Now what? All the way to the school office he thought of and discarded possible callers, and he'd pretty much narrowed it down to a couple of suspects. But it was Nishikiori-san who spoke when he picked up the phone. That wasn't quite what he'd expected

"Jinpachi-kun? Do you know who this is? This is Issei's mother."

"Yes, ma'am, I recognized your voice. Is, uh, Issei all right?"

"Well, he's not feeling well again--but he wanted me to give you a message."

/Issei's mother?/

"He said to ask if you'd bring over his homework assignments after school. He's been out so much, you see, I think he's afraid of getting behind in class. He was such a good student. Or, he said, if you don't want to bring them yourself, could you get someone else to do it? He said he wanted to make it easy for you."

"Uh, sure. No problem. Nishikiori-san--can I talk to him?"

"Just a minute." He heard the phone being set down, and had a long wait in which he tried to get his thoughts in order. But eventually it was Issei's mother who got back on again, and she said, "I'm sorry, his door's closed and he's not answering. I think he's asleep."

"Oh. All right."

"You will be coming yourself, won't you? We hardly ever see you anymore. And I think it would be good for Issei if you would visit. He's been so strange, lately. Moody. Do you know if...is everything all right? With him?"

"Umm, we haven't been talking so much recently."

"Oh. Well, thank you anyway, Jinpachi-kun. And thank you for bringing his homework. Good-bye."

Back in class, Jinpachi thought over the phone call. There had been something strange about it. He had to see Issei anyway--there was that damn conversation they had to have--so of course he'd take Issei's homework. Why on earth would he get someone else to do it?

Issei had suggested that. Did he not want Jinpachi to come? Didn't he want his answer? But maybe he'd changed his mind again, decided the whole thing was a mistake: Issei could make you nuts, coming and going like that.

His answer.... Jinpachi bolted upright.


The teacher coughed. "Yes, Ogura-kun? Do you have something to share?"

"Uh, no." He slumped back over the desk.

/If you don't want to...could you get someone else to do it? He said he wanted to make it easy for you./ Issei had given him a way to answer. Just don't go, and make it plain you don't want anything to do with him--not like that, anyway. Yeah, it'd be real easy, real simple, Issei had handed him a way out--and hell if he was going to take it. It was too harsh, it was like kicking Issei away without any explanations, no chance to try and pull the bits of their friendship together. He just...he didn't want things to end that way between them.

If he went, though, what did that signify?


Well, he was going anyway--he wasn't such a coward that he couldn't face Issei. They had to settle the question once and for all, and he had to say the words. There was no other way to do it. Issei would understand, if he could just explain it to him; Issei always seemed to understand things. It wouldn't be easy, but they could get through this.

If he could just figure out what to say.


* * * * *


He'd thought he was ready until he knocked on the bedroom door and heard Issei answer, real soft. He felt more of a chill than the air conditioning alone would explain. "Issei? Can I come in?"


He stepped into the room and had to pause, while his eyes adjusted. The curtains were drawn against the late afternoon sun, leaving too many shadows and a haze of gold light from the bedside lamp and from--candles? There were small bright flames flickering in glasses around the room, and a warm, faintly spicy scent--probably incense--and flowers....



"Lock the door," Issei said. "I don't want my sister in here."

He did. Issei was standing by the low bookshelf near his bed, lighting one last candle. He raised the match to his lips and blew it out. The candlefire gleamed on his long-sleeved white shirt and the darkness of his hair, lost itself on the black jeans he was wearing, and as he started to turn it struck a spark from that star earring. He swung around slow and then looked at Jinpachi long and steadily, his eyes unreadable from that distance in the shifting light.

Every word Jinpachi'd thought to say scattered like birds away from him. But Issei was waiting to hear something.

"I--I brought your homework," Jinpachi muttered at last. Pulling the teacher's assignments out of his pocket, he concentrated on unfolding them as he walked toward Issei, damn things wanted to rip, and was startled when Issei met him in the middle of the room with a hand outstretched. Jinpachi jerked his own hand back before Issei had proper hold of the papers; the sheets spilled free to the floor between them.

Issei turned his head slightly, watching as they fell, a sadness in his blue eyes that was plain now they were standing this close. Jinpachi looked away quickly, but it didn't help, not really, especially when Issei asked, "Why did you come?" only just above a whisper, and you couldn't turn your hearing from what was in his voice.

Hell if he'd feel sorry for Issei. /Hell/ if he would. Issei had /asked/ for this.

"I already told you," he said stubbornly. "I'm bringing your homework."

"Homework. Oh, Jinpachi." Jinpachi's jaw tightened. He grabbed the papers off the floor, took a quick couple of strides to the bookshelf to slap them down, maybe harder than he needed to, next to the sticks of burning incense and a splash of white flowers in a vase. He stood there gathering himself, bracing his arms on the shelf, but Issei spoke again and amazingly his voice had shifted: still soft but now sounding almost normal, the catch in it gone.

"You didn't have to come."

"Yeah. I know." There was a pencil drawing taped to the wall. He concentrated on it through the faint incense smoke, an awkwardly hand-drawn figure that he nonetheless recognized from dreams: a picture of Sahjareem.


"It's all right," Issei murmured. "It's all right, Jinpachi. I do understand. I shouldn't have asked. You've been very patient with my foolishness, all this time."

Foolishness? Then it hadn't been real. Nothing real would end so simply. He remembered


--screaming, crying, fighting with Mokulen, because she wouldn't--because she wouldn't--


and that tangled knot of pain had never left him.

Even now. Even here.

But did you offer prayers to Sahjareem for things that weren't real? Jinpachi glanced back at Issei, oddly troubled.

"You should go," Issei said. "There's school tomorrow. I'll--I'll see you then."


"You didn't have to come, but you did anyway. That's enough, Jinpachi. That's enough...really."


"What do you want?" Jinpachi pleaded, because somehow there was something so unfair in this--

And Issei got, if anything, more still. He lifted his face to Jinpachi's stare finally, looking at him, looking into him, that look again, shimmering in Issei's eyes, until Jinpachi was on the point of doing any one of the frantic things that he really wanted badly to do--but instead he stood and waited, because Issei had tried to make it easy for him and he owed Issei at least this much.

Issei came forward then, slowly, reaching out to touch Jinpachi's fingers as he drew near. He caught them on his own fingertips, which trembled lightly, and raised Jinpachi's hand with his own so they came together palm to palm:

<*Understand me.*>

Jinpachi's head jolted backward, and the room vanished--



*No--he doesn't want to hurt you, doesn't want to frighten you. He should have been more gentle. But he cannot stand these walls between the two of you, and perhaps there is a way--*


*--glass shatters silver--the rain fills with light--*

*--flowers against the moon--*


*He is sorry to touch you like this and maybe make you more afraid, but you asked, and if there is any chance at all he must try one more time. Enju felt you drift away, once, like a piece of soul pulling free inside, and could not keep you, could not at the end even make you see, but now you are looking. If you had laughed at him or cursed him he would have wanted to die, but you have not. You have tried to be kind, to understand despite everything. Do you wonder that he is drawn to you? And is that so awful, so terrifying? What do you dread so much, what do you think he would--do.


But he would have tried to make you happy, would have tried to please you in any way you wanted. The form may change but the soul remains the same, and this soul loves you desperately.*

*Loves everything you are.*

*Look. Veils of thought fall, transparent to the self beneath; he is not ashamed to bare himself this way. This is who he is, this is what he is: this soaring, this uncertainty, this surrender--flashes of dreams and desire that even you have not seen, Enju's feelings and Issei's feelings all tangled in the crazy passions of being a teenager, and he knows, he knows he has done things that are wrong.*

*Would never have meant to hurt you.*

*What does he want? Only that you forgive him, accept who he is, not turn utterly away. Losing you again and again, to death or anger or another love, is agony, and he cannot face it. Only say that it's all right, and he will be for you whatever you will let him be. Whatever you will have from him, he will give with all his heart, if not love then loyalty, if not comfort then companionship, and it will be enough for him--though it hurts.*

*Though it--hurts.*

<*Jinpachi. How can you be so far away when you are so close--*>


Jinpachi staggered, and the contact between them fell away. He moaned, clenched his hands, and raised them to cover his face.


His shoulders jerked once, uncontrollably.

"I'm sorry--Jinpachi!"

He jerked again--and snatched Issei to him, crushed Issei against his chest, because it was that or explode with the force of emotions that he didn't have a clue about, only that they were moving in him and he would rather die than be the cause of such hurting even one more time. Issei gave a thin, high-pitched cry--the injury to his back? No, he'd flung his arms around Jinpachi's neck, face buried in Jinpachi's shoulder, and it wasn't a cry of pain but of wild delight. They clung to each other while the enormity of the moment slowly caught up with Jinpachi.

What was he doing?

What had he just done?

Something had happened. Something had--changed.

He didn't understand.

He felt Issei move and released the death grip quickly, but Issei hadn't let go: only leaned back enough to be able to look at him. Jinpachi didn't look--didn't want to. He was /scared./ Things always happened to him; he could never jump the right way, never make the right choice of what to say or do. He was falling into something that he'd never even meant to get close to.

He didn't think he'd ever been so frightened.

He felt Issei shiver. Issei stepped in to him again, reached up that very slight difference in their heights. Kissed him, the most tentative of contacts, hardly more than the feel of breath.

Jinpachi's knees suddenly buckled, he had to sit down, and the next thing he realized he was lying on the bed, Issei kneeling over him with one hand laid on his chest, and he couldn't explain that at all. He started up fast and Issei touched fingertips to his mouth. "Jinpachi. Don't shout."

"I'm not," he protested, speaking the words through the light pressure of Issei's fingers. Though he might have yelled, if Issei hadn't stopped him. His heart was pounding, but he could feel Issei's fingers tremble as his breath touched them, and Issei--traced across his lips, then down to beneath his chin. Tilted his head back so slowly, while the other hand undid the first button of Jinpachi's shirt.


Issei spread the opening of the collar wide, then bowed his head, kissed Jinpachi there, a faint touch like wings at the hollow of his throat, Issei's bangs brushing just under his ear, and somehow the hand Jinpachi'd tried to raise was clasped with one of Issei's, pressed back against the bed, their fingers entwined.

Oh my God.

And as his lips drifted from where they had been lingering, traveling up along Jinpachi's neck, Issei changed position, sliding his knees back until the whole length of his body was pressed against Jinpachi's, shifting slow so that Jinpachi felt every moment as they came together and Issei moved--


"Do you want this?"


"You can tell me to stop," Issei whispered against his skin. "You can tell me 'no.' You can always tell me 'no,' Jinpachi."

Jinpachi'd closed his eyes. He opened them now.

Could say no. Could push Issei away. Pull his hand free of Issei's, shove him aside, get up and leave. Jinpachi knew he was the stronger of the two. It would be easy.

He /could./

Issei had lifted his head and was gazing down into Jinpachi's face as he thought that over. Funny he'd never noticed before how Issei's eyes shaded blue to indigo in this kind of light. He didn't know what Issei'd seen, but Issei smiled, and without waiting for an answer brought his mouth down once more upon Jinpachi's, brushing their lips together in a caress like shadow, like smoke, gentle...he slipped his hand loose from Jinpachi's himself, to trail fingers along the inside of Jinpachi's arm.

Jinpachi closed his eyes again.


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