[Author's note: This fic was the meeting place of a drabble request by Kit, who wanted Issei and Jinpachi, and a challenge by K-chan: "Give in to temptation, for it may not come your way again." It's set just prior to the beginning of the series. Please see my disclaimer page for copyright information regarding this story.]
A Please Save My Earth fic
By Natalie Baan
/The first really warm day,/ Jinpachi had said, /totally calls for ice cream./ So they were sitting at one of the tables outside the cafe in the park by their school, in the remote corner next to the peony border, where they were slightly less likely to be overheard. Despite having spent the whole time dissecting in-depth the latest outer space dream, Jinpachi was down to the dregs of his triple chocolate sundae. Issei had been stirring the soup of his strawberry parfait for the last few minutes, head propped on his fist.
"Oh, hey!" Jinpachi sat up straighter and swung off onto a new tangent, scarcely seeming to pause for breath or thought. "Have you seen any more of the home planet stuff? Last night there was something like a festival--I think Enju was there, too. That woman, Mokulen, she was singing, all dressed up in this crazy, fancy outfit." Jinpachi's hands sketched expressive figures in the air, then came together, clasping in front of his chin as he smiled, almost beatific in his distraction. "She looked really beautiful."
"I saw it," Issei said.
/From the viewing stand, Enju watches in wonder and delight. The Sahjaliann's voice rises like a fountain, like a flock of birds, unfurling toward the blue sky, as though by the magic moving in her song she singlehandedly can unite the world and Sahjareem's heaven. Enju can feel the crowd's mood; it is her own, tranquilly joyful, uplifted, brought into harmony by the ritual, by the singer's loveliness, by the beauty of the perfect day./
/And here, as well, sitting just in front of her--/
"Huhh." Jinpachi drew the monosyllable out long, his expression speculative. "It's interesting how lately we've been seeing more and more of the same stuff at the same time. I wonder why that is?" Issei shrugged, making a vaguely curious but noncommittal sound.
/As they begin to leave the festival site, Gyokulan is no longer with them. Shusulan, seeing Enju notice that absence, laughs and says carelessly, "That guy must have gone on ahead or something."/
/"Yes," Enju replies./
/She knows that he is not ahead of them. He is somewhere behind, sharing a last exchange of words with the Sahjaliann. His eagerness is a flutter in her heart, a clutch of unquiet butterflies, a crawling of insect feet in her stomach, and she closes her eyes on the upwelling of yearning, both other and her own, one emotion with two disparate foci./
/She has known the light of her own love for a long, long time./
/Until today, her hope for his has never truly faltered./
"Issei...hey, Issei!" Issei blinked and jerked his attention back to the cafe. Jinpachi was studying him with a perplexed, almost disquieted look. "What's the matter? You were just kinda...staring."
"Oh! Uh...." Disorientation and embarrassment caught Issei off his stride; he snatched at the first inspiration that came to him. "You've got chocolate on your face."
"Oh, yeah?" Jinpachi swiped haphazardly at one cheek, then the other, before glancing up at Issei again. "Did I get it?"
Issei regarded his friend's face, so familiar to him: a quizzical gaze through that fringe of unruly sandy bangs, a complete trust and openness, without guile. Chill clarity swept through him, almost making him shiver; at the same time, he felt an obscure flush of heat. He didn't know why he wanted to--he shouldn't give in to the urge, but he could feel Enju's emotions gathering strength as their dreams came into closer and closer synchronicity; someday she'd confess to Gyokulan, and once Jinpachi knew--
Things would be strange between them, uncomfortable, always full of doubt and questions.
This moment of innocence might never come again.
Casually Issei leaned forward, reaching across the table. He ran his thumb under the curve of Jinpachi's lower lip, tracing from one corner of Jinpachi's mouth to the center, pausing there for a fraction of a second. That single light, deliberately unhurried touch, a liquid tremor quivering in his blood, and then he sat back once more, not meeting Jinpachi's gaze. From the corner of his eye, though, he saw Jinpachi duck his head and rub his mouth as though it tickled, a barely perceptible blush coloring his face. "Uh, thanks," Jinpachi said.
"No problem." Glancing toward the peonies with a faint smile, Issei picked up his napkin. He wiped at his fingers, removing the imaginary chocolate.
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