Awakenings

A Please Save My Earth fanfiction

By Kat

She lost herself in the dance.

Like a mirror ball, she twirled endlessly, spinning round and round, light bouncing off its silvery surface in so many different colors. She was aware of nothing but the music and the light. The bass, pumping and throbbing, felt like her heartbeat amplified for the whole world to hear. But he wouldn't know, she thought. He never notices that my every movement, be it on the dance floor or walking in the park or listening to his woes or simply watching him when he thinks I'm not looking…watching him silently try to glue the pieces of his heart back together…is a request. For what? For him to live his life and not the memory, not the dream. For him to awaken, to open his eyes and see me, really see me, and smile a true smile and not just an impression of one. I want to make him smile. I want to make him laugh. I want to make him love again. Please…

And so she danced, with him and for him. Her dance was a poem. The story of their lives. A prayer.

Issei, when will we stop spinning likea mirror ball? When will we stop being the reflection of something long gone? When will we stop moving in this endless circle and begin again?

Sakura's on fire tonight, Issei thought, watching her intensely as they danced.

No, she IS fire.

Sakura's long, auburn hair whipped around her as she danced, strengthening the image of wildfire. Issei could never see her face completely. The swirling lights would illuminate a flash of hazel eyes in one moment, the line of her jaw in another, a sculpted cheekbone, and leave the rest of her face in shadows. And always her hair, tumbling down to her shoulders, a fiery veil that kept him from seeing her. It made him uneasy.

Issei and Sakura often went dancing together. Ever since the day she went to his house and found him moping in his room, depressed because Jinpachi was avoiding him. She took one look at him and without even a word of comfort, she bullied him into getting dressed and escorting her to a rave party. They were perfect on the dance floor – probably the combination of Sakura's natural talent and grace, Issei's fluid moves, and his telepathic abilities. He knew Sakura – and Shusuran -- so well it was easy to establish a link. He loved dancing with her, and he loved watching her dance. She radiated a vibrancy and joy that he never had in two lifetimes. Her openness embraced everything, and her earnestness to make him – and to make Enju – happy even for just a few moments was touching.

This was the first time they went dancing since summer vacation began. College was more difficult than he'd imagined, and it was made even more trying by the fact that he and Jinpachi went to the same university. This time there was no Sakura to console, sympathize, or bully him out of his periods of depression. But ever since Rin had truly awakened, moon dreams came less and less frequently until they became as insubstantial as a spider's web. Soon he began to feel less like he was constantly dreamwalking and more solid, more rooted to this world. He and Jinpachi were able to rebuild their easygoing companionship and become best friends again – but that was all. That was all Jinpachi wanted. No matter how much he wanted something more, if Jinpachi did not want it even in this lifetime, then he would respect his friend's wishes. There were times when he wanted so badly to reach out to him, to give in to his emotions like he did once upon a time. But if Jinpachi rejected him again he might not be able to bear it. He ached inside, just thinking about it. But times were changing. They were all changing, and maybe…it was time to move on.

Stop thinking about Jinpachi, Issei scolded himself. You're with Sakura and it's been a long time since you've been out like this!He forced images of copper hair and a crooked smile out of his mind and focused on his dance partner.

Sakura…Sakura had changed as well. He did not notice it at once. She was still as talkative and energetic as ever. She nearly talked his ear off telling him about college, about her major, about the boys she went out with and dumped, about her new friends. But there were many times when she would be quiet, pensive. In those times a veil of…sadness…would wrap around her. He could not associate sadness with Sakura – maybe Shusuran, who became familiar with death – but not Sakura. In those moments she would be closed to him until he said, "Hey, Sakura, where are you?" Then she would shake herself and say, "Right here, moron." The veil would disappear as if it had never been and all would be as before.

Now, as she danced with him, he realized it was the same thing, except the sadness was crackling, whipping his mind with electrical jolts. He could not read her thoughts, but he could feel the turbulence within her. He could not see her face. He could not read her. She was somewhere far away, deep within herself. And yet, he knew she was watching him. Her eyes never left his face. A small frown of worry creased Issei's forehead and he stopped dancing. He reached out to touch her…

…and was nearly overwhelmed by the emotions that crackled beneath his fingertips

…loneliness

…lost

…love

Sakura had stopped dancing and stood looking at him. The lights flashed, her hair was a cloud obscuring her face. Except those hazel eyes. What was she seeing? Who?

Issei grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the dance floor. He could hear her protesting, but he ignored it. He needed to get her away from the light, from the noise, from the crowd. He needed to get her out in the open, where the air was fresh and you could smell the scent of the newly cut grass, the water in the atmosphere, and the night flowers blooming.

Sakura, I need to see your face.

"Issei, where are we going? Ouch! Hey, careful with the fingers!"

Issei stopped and turned to look at her. He was still holding her hand. Squeezing was more like it. Like a vise. His abrupt halt caused Sakura to stumble against his chest. She leaned against him for a few moments, catching her breath. Then she let go of his hand, straightened up and began to smooth her skirt, her hair…anything to avoid his gaze.

"Hey. Sakura."

"Hmm? Just a sec…you made a mess of me when you dragged me out of there. What happened? I was the hottest thing on that dance floor! I haven't danced like that in ages. Issei, I swear no one in that whole darned college can compare to you. You're like the perfect dance partner. " Keep talking. Anything to fill the silence. That's it. Breathe. Go back to normal. "But then you had to go all crazy and drag me out of there. So I figure this must be important. Where did you say we were going again?" Ugh. I bet he can hear my heart pounding like crazy! Dammit, stop it heart! Stop…BEATING!

"I didn't say."

"Oh. So where are we going?"

"Um…I don't know. It was just getting too hot in there. Too noisy. I needed a bit of fresh air. Let's go for a walk."

"Okay."

They walked aimlessly, not really knowing where they were going and not really caring. Sakura made several attempts to begin a conversation, but her heart wasn't in it. Besides, Issei seemed lost in thought as well. Most probably he was wondering what Jinpachi was up to. Sakura sighed inwardly. What else was new? Anyway, she'd rather he thought about that than…than…oh, I would just die if he picked up on what I was thinking on the dance floor. I totally lost it then. Man, what the hell was I doing letting my guard down in the immediate vicinity of a telepath!Ugh…Sakura you REALLY shouldn't have downed that last shot of tequila. StupidstupidstupidstupidSTUPID! And when he touched me it was like…he lit a fuse and I was ready to explode from all the emotions raging in me. Oh gods…Buddha, Sarjalim, anyone up there! Help me! If you do I SWEAR I'll quit drinking. Really! I –

"What are you beating yourself up about?"

"What?" Sakura looked up at Issei like a deer caught in headlights.

Issei giggled, "I'm not going to eat you. I just want to know what's wrong. Your anxiety is crashing against me in waves. I don't even need to be a telepath to know something's chewing you up inside out."

"Nothing. It's the alcohol getting to my brain. Making me go haywire."

Issei cocked an eyebrow, "Really? Yeah. But that's not all of it."

"It is! Honest!"

"Whatever. You were always a lousy liar."

"Hey! Am not!" Sakura reached out to jab him, which of course he dodged effortlessly.

"Truth, Sakura."

"Okay! Fine! I'm…" at that moment Sakura looked at Issei's face, and she knew that whatever she said he would know that it wasn't the truth. And he would let her get away with it, hurt that she wouldn't tell him but respecting her privacy. She trailed off, caught by the trust on his face. "Issei…I.." she looked down at her clasped hands, "I can't…I can't tell you…not now." Maybe not ever. "It's something I have to do on my own."

They stopped walking. Issei put one of his hands over hers, "You're just making me worried. You've been so distant lately, ever since we came back from college. Things are the same but…"

"…but maybe we're just growing up a little," Sakura finished softly.

Issei sighed. "I want to help you."

"I know."

Issei cupped her chin in his other hand and tilted her face up. "Sakura. You're my best friend. You know you can count on me for anything. If anyone is hurting you, I will personally tear them apart limb from limb so that even Rin would recoil at the sight and plead for mercy."

Sakura smiled. "Macho, aren't we?"

"Heh. You're looking at the coolest, sexiest superman in town, honey."

"With the biggest ego to boot."

"Nah. That title belongs to Jinpachi."

Sakura laughed. "Well, no arguments from me on that point."

Issei's laughter mingled with hers. Sakura loved the sound of his laughter. There was a time when laughter from Issei was scarce. She would do all sorts of crazy things and make up the wildest stories until she would finally coax a small smile from his lips, or a snicker at her crazy antics. Once, in frustration and desperation she shocked him into laughter by tickling him. It quickly turned into a vicious tickle fight. His loud, free laughter and the sudden life in his eyes filled her whole being with joy. Issei hugged her then, and thanked her for making him remember how good it felt to laugh.

It was at that moment that she realized she was falling in love with Issei.

And that in loving him she would forever be caught, as surely as he was, in the web they had woven from memory and dreams.

Oh Issei, when will we wake up?

Issei still could not see her face. The path they took was dimly lit, and so Sakura was always in or out of shadow. He felt that he was walking in a dream, the only brightness coming from Sakura's hair and the flash of her eyes.

Sakura was back to her usual self for now. In fact, if he didn't know her any better he would agree with her and attribute her behavior to the alcohol. But the pain and loneliness he felt from her when he touched her on the dance floor could not be ignored. There was a whole world of Sakura that he did not know.

"…maybe we're just growing up…"

Maybe it was just that.

No. It isn't.

"Is this where you wanted to go?"

Sakura's quiet question jolted him out of his reverie. He drew in a deep breath when he realized where he had unwittingly taken them.

/ The day was beautiful. Patches of blue sky were mirrored on the rippling surface of the small pond, giving the illusion that the fish were swimming through the clouds. The sound of water spilling gently from the fountain somewhere behind them served to soothe tired minds and spirits and the sun's rays warmed his body. But Issei was anything but soothed. His body was rigid and inside he was shivering as he listened to Jinpachi's words.

"They're one and the same, aren't they? I only know I'm in love and I can't fight it."

Sixteen years. An entire new beginning for them. And nothing has changed.

He argued with Jinpachi, saying it wasn't fair to Alice that he loved her because she is Mokuren. Yet inside he was screaming, It's not fair to me! And something shrank inside him, knowing he was guilty of the same thing. He was falling…and there was no way to stop it.

Jinpachi looked at him strangely, and Issei caught his breath, afraid yet desperately hoping that his best friend could read the truth in his eyes.

"Can it be that you're in love with Alice too?"

Issei stared at Jinpachi and turned away, his entire body shaking. Gods, he is still so dense. He didn't know whether to collapse in a fit of wild laughter or to curl up in a ball and cry.

"I'm not Enju…" Jinpachi's words echoed in his mind, growing in intensity

"…I'm Issei Nishikiori…" falling…falling…

"They're one and the same…and I can't fight it"

Something exploded inside Issei. Sarjalim help me. I can't fight it either.

"…but…that's right! I AM in love!"

Issei ran. He ran to try to stop the falling. He ran to try to escape the explosion.

But it was too late. No matter how far he ran, no matter where or when he stopped, he knew he would always be falling.

A few days later, he kissed Jinpachi.

Nothing had changed for Enju. But for Issei, things were never the same again. /

He began to answer "no" to her question, but stopped himself and sat on the edge of the fountain instead, losing himself in the memory of that day when one kiss unlocked the Pandora's box in his soul. "I haven't come back here…or to the roof of that building… since that happened."

"So why are we here now?"

Issei shrugged. He looked down at his reflection in the water. The last time he was here, he was only a boy. Impulsive. Emotional. A lovestruck puppy. And now? The water showed him the image of a man. He smiled wryly. His outer appearance may have changed, from a boy to a man, or from a woman to a man… but he knew that it mattered little. Whether he turned into an elephant or a fish he doubted he would be very much different.

"Enju-kun?"

"I was just thinking…if I still would love Jinpachi if I were a fish."

Sakura gave a half-hearted laugh and sat beside him, "Hmm…maybe we should bring up that burning question before the Philosophical Society of Japan."

Issei laughed ruefully, "I doubt fishy kisses would have been any more appealing."

"Still beating yourself up over that kiss?"

Issei watched as little fishes swam through his reflection, causing ripples to distort his features, and considered his answer. "There isn't a day that I wish I chose differently. Although I doubt I would have been able to if it happened again. Enju is drawn to Gyokuran like a moth to a flame."

"And what about Issei?"

Sakura's question was barely above a whisper, but the intensity of it was like an arrow shooting straight to his soul. He grasped at the emotions she was unconsciously throwing his way. Her loneliness and feeling of helplessness…he knew those feelings. I felt that way, on this same spot with Jinpachi, and everyday after that.

"Will you forever circle around the flame with burnt wings and not allow yourself to fly again? Are you still dreaming?"

"And when I awaken, where will I fly to?"

Sakura looked at him and did not answer. She leaned back, letting her hands support her body, and lifted her face to the sky. He did not hear her speak, but in his mind a voice whispered like the gentlest of breezes…

To me…

The revelation burned through his body, the sense of déjà vu overwhelming. The moon came out of her hiding place then and shone brightly upon them. It stretched out its fingers and caressed Sakura's face, bathing her in moonlight. For the first time Issei saw her clearly. Completely. Not just as the tempestuous friend he grew up with or the brilliant hot-tempered moon scientist. She had become more than that.

Gods, she is so beautiful.

He was surprised at the thought, and even more surprised that he never noticed it before. When had she become this beautiful? The moon illuminated her as the golden rays of the sun never had. The moonlight seemed to awaken him, as if she had taken pity on the children whose dreams she had haunted for so many years, and decided to lift a spell from his eyes. See, she seemed to say, what lies before you. Sakura's hair spilled past her shoulders and framed a face sculpted by love and laughter. The fire in her eyes was tempered by maturity, and by the sadness that Issei now understood he was the cause of. His heart clenched as he realized all the pain he had caused her. He was as insensitive as Jinpachi, and as dense, self-centered and egotistic. He didn't understand how Sakura could possibly love him. But she does. And so, what do you plan on doing next?

The moon continued to bathe her in silvery light. What once tied him to the past was shedding light on the present.

And giving glimpses of the future.

"You only dream because you do not know what will become of you when you wake up." Sakura continued to look at the moon, unconscious of what she had given away, unaware of the way Issei was looking at her. "You continue to move in this endless circle, to live the life of a dead moon scientist, because you are so afraid of living your life as Issei Nishikiori and of making your own choices. And so you let Enju make the choices for you."

She turned to him, "Don't allow yourself to become a reflection of someone long dead, Issei. You make your own destiny."

/"I have no intention of letting someone else's previous existence determine my present one. I'm a high school student not a dead moon woman and my destiny is my own." /

Issei smiled, wondering if she knew she was echoing the words that he himself had spoken in this same place all those years ago. He was trying to convince himself then, his words sounding surer than he really felt. Now…he looked at Sakura.

For the first time in a long time, Sakura felt quiet inside. The turmoil and raging desperation she felt ever since she had fallen in love with Issei went silent. She felt calm under the moonlight, the silver glow like a mother's embrace. She met his eyes and felt the deep loving bond that was forged between them, first as Enju and Shusuran, now as Issei and Sakura. "All you have to do is choose. Choose to wake up. Choose to break the circle. "

"And when I wake up…will you be the first person I see?"

Sakura's heart jumped. There was something more in Issei's eyes now. A burning, and an acknowledgement, and…she caught her breath as fear and hope flooded through her, "Only if you want me to be."

Issei took her hand and opened his mind up to her. She gasped as she felt his essence fill her…

…acceptance

…wonder

…joy

…love

Tears filled her eyes and dropped like pearls onto their joined hands.

"Are you sure, Issei?" Sakura whispered and looked at him earnestly. "You've loved him for so long…how do you know…?

"I've been dreaming for so long, I didn't realize that what was real and true was right beside me. And more beautiful than any moon dream, or any dream for that matter, that I could ever have." Issei lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it softly "I loved Jinpachi, but as the moon dreams lessened and time passed…I realized that it was more out of habit, and because I didn't think it was possible for me, -for Enju - to love anyone else. Then summer brought us back together,"

He reached out to stroke her hair and let it slip through his fingers, "You turned into a beautiful and amazing woman when I wasn't looking. You were right. We ARE growing up. And seeing you tonight under the light of the moon, being with you like this… how could I not love you? How can I want to stay trapped in a dream when I have this chance to wake up and begin living again?"

Sakura closed her eyes and turned her head so that her cheek was cupped in his hand. He stroked her cheek, and happiness spread through her. She laughed softly, "You don't know how long I was waiting for you to come around."

"You should have knocked me on the head."

"Don't ask me how many times I was tempted to do just that. And other less…nice…things."

Issei laughed and tickled her. She screamed in surprise and collapsed in a giggling fit, "THAT'S for trying to fool a telepath!"

Sakura grinned mischievously, "I'm good, aren't I? And you're wide open!" She lunged, trying to catch him unaware and tickle him back. Issei caught her hands and held them firmly. Then he slowly leaned forward and kissed her. He was nervous and careful and hesitant. After a few moments, Sakura pulled her hands out of his grasp, wrapped her hands around his neck and pulled him into a long, sweet kiss.

Rest well, Enju…

Sleep Shusuran…

Sakura has stopped me from falling.

Plucked him right out of the air.

And now, we will wake from the dream

See one another and not the reflection

Walk away from the circle

And begin again