Yes, I still exist. No, life is not being nice to me lately. Yes, I'll explain it the next time I update Anomaly.
Yes, I'm still writing.
First of all, a word about the title of this story. 'L'étranger Éclairé Par la Lune' is French for, as I was told, 'The Stranger Lit by the Moon.' The piece of music that inspired it is called, fully, 'Myūtsū: L'étranger Éclairé Par la Lune' and is Mewtwo's theme as written for me by Shattered Silence. It's a beautiful piece, and I recommend that you all run over to his website to hear it.
Second of all, I have not got the slightest idea where the plotline here came from. I think it was a few too many hours outside, staring at the moon while I waited for my room to cool off enough to sleep, combined with boredom and a few good whacks to the head. But hey, I like it. I hope you all like it, too.
So... wow... it feels like it's been so long since I said this... so let's go!
Few things are quite comparable to the full moon. The token beacon of the night, the full moon has been an object of superstition and mystery for centuries. That cunning orb has a magnetism that we cannot deny, an ethereal power that is beyond the scope of man's imagination to explain. People are never quite themselves on the night of a full moon. It seems to draw out those hidden melancholies that make life so interesting. Perhaps that is why so many stories are told that root back to the glorious sphere...
If the full moon did not hold all the answers tonight, he did not know what did.
Deep amethyst eyes cast skywards, the solitary figure stood perfectly still in the moonlight, letting it wash over his body like a silvery veil. Every last hair on his lithe form seemed to glow, radiating the energy of the reflected sun. He could actually feel the cold light as it bathed him in soft luminescence. Perfect...
Full moons were made for nights like this.
How long had he been standing in this spot now? He could not calculate how long it had been since the moon had risen, but he had been watching it ever since. He had observed as the great sphere had first began to shine, its open face pale in comparison to the fiery sunset. He had watched as the sky darkened, the moon growing in power by contrast to the deep blue haze. He had tracked its path as it cut through the sky, the stars dimming by comparison as they rested in its wake. In the back of his mind the stars almost seemed restless as they surrendered their glory to the glowing dance of the moon, eager for the Lunar Lady to wane once more that they might take up the sky again. And yet their majesty would be short lived, he knew, because within weeks the moon would have returned to her full beauty once again.
He tilted his head, amused. It was not like him to think such fanciful thoughts as to call the moon a lady. Tonight, however, it seemed to fit. In most old mythologies the moon was perceived to be a woman; a delicate, silvery Lady Luna to counter-balance the brilliant and powerful gods of the sun. The deity of the moon was never a man, because a man could not sit in such grace among the stars. It simply was not done.
That was actually a rather depressing thought, now that he considered it.
The cool light cast sharp shadows at his feet, etching echoes of the long grass and playing games with the darkened shades of green. He could feel the dew forming on the lengthy blades- how long had he been standing here?- as they swayed around his legs. The chill made him shiver...
Slowly, reluctantly, he turned. What would it be this time? Thieves, perhaps, fleeing the scene of the crime? A pair of nighttime lovers seeking some solitude for illicit acts of an altogether different nature? He sighed, leaping towards the trees in one fluid movement. His velvet-violet tail whipped through the air as he touched down in a tree far further away than any creature should have been able to reach by momentum alone. Humans disturbed his peace here altogether too often.
The voices grew louder, and he was dismayed to note that the source had been far closer than he had realized. The couple walked slowly, hand in hand, so close that their foreheads touched as they shared dreams and plans for their future. He watched them pass by, haloed by the light of the moon, before loosing interest in the location and moving on himself. He did that often, staying rooted to a single spot for hours only to loose interest at the first interruption. It never seemed strange or unusual for him to do so, after all. It suited the wander-lust in his nature.
And if Mewtwo did not do what seemed most fitting and natural to him, well, then what was there left to do?
Darting across the treetops, the psychic soon made his way back to the coastal cliffs where he had made his most recent home. The cavern set into the stone was completely inaccessible to human and Pokémon alike unless one was capable of flight, and recessed into the hewn face of rock far enough that he could be protected from wind, weather, and view without having to deepen the hole himself. The ocean waves crashed beneath him as he swooped low, his psychic flight allowing him to land softly on the cold lip of the cave. The moon was visible here, too, but not as boldly as it had been in the wooded park- the only clear view came from standing right at the mouth of the great crevice. Mewtwo decided that it was worth the chill of the stone, and sat down. His tail unfolded over the sharp drop down to the sea, dangling down the face of the cliff idly, as he leaned against the wall and resumed his studies of the moon.
Mewtwo sat in peace for what was probably at least a half an hour before the next interruption came. It was subtle at first, a soft crunching on the sand beneath the cliff, but it was enough to draw Mewtwo's attention. He pulled his tail back into the orifice in the rock, tracking the sound, and was surprised to hear a soft splashing that seemed to him to be independent of the steady beating of the waves. A swimmer, at this hour? That did not sound right to him. He peered over the edge slowly, seeking the source of the disturbance. What he saw surprised him.
The 'swimmer' was young. Mewtwo estimated that he could not have been more than twenty, given the way that humans aged. He weaved as he walked, possibly from the way the water crashed around him but more likely from the green bottle clenched in his left hand. The waves tugged at the legs of his loose jeans, and Mewtwo did not doubt that he still wore shoes to further impede his movement. Add to that the severe air of depression around the youth, and his intentions were all to clear.
Mewtwo watched expressionlessly as the young man shivered in the cold. It was of no concern of his whether the human sought his own demise or not, and yet he could not hold back a nagging curiosity. The human took another slogging step, and then another, before the feline's natural instinct to question grew too strong. "Boy."
The youth stopped, looking around in confusion. In his current mental state Mewtwo doubted he was capable of distinguishing telepathy from speech, and so the human was seeking to find the speaker on his own level. Mewtwo found that he did not mind. Honestly, the boy was so drunk that he did not even seem to be a threat... The eyes continued to seek. Very well, then. The psychic jumped down from his rocky crevice, landing easily on the sand. The young human's eyes widened before squinting; the moonlight cascading down from behind the Pokémon was too strong for alcohol-steeped vision. Mewtwo watched as the boy backed away from him, inadvertently taking another step into the water. "What do you want? You think you're going to try to stop me?"
The easily suspicious sort. Mewtwo made a mental note to keep that in mind. "That was not my intention. I am simply wondering why you have chosen this night to die."
"Why..." The boy shifted. "You some kinda nut job?"
The psychic's mouth quirked slightly at the way the question was slurred. "I do not believe so. I am only curious as to what could have driven you to seek this end. The human mind is a puzzling thing to me."
The youth's eyes narrowed as his body weaved slightly from the force of the waves. "You some kinda shrink, then?"
"Not at all." Mewtwo started to turn; evidently the boy was too drunk to be of any informative use. "If you have nothing to say save for inane questions, then I will leave you alone. You may seek your end."
He had barely taken three steps when another question greeted him. "Are you alone?" The boy's tone was no longer accusing or suspicious by any means. In fact, his voice now sounded so desolate that Mewtwo actually found himself turning back around. The human had a look of desperate anguish in his eyes as he stared towards Mewtwo, trying to see past the moonlight. "I'm alone," the boy said. "All alone. Dad's gone. Keli's gone. I'm alone now. There's no one left. You... are you alone, too?"
Now it seemed to be Mewtwo's turn to take a step towards the water. Alone. The word rang in his mind with a resounding echo. He studied the boy's face, how the shadows played in the hollows under his eyes. The darkened orbs shone with the tell-tale shine of tears as the human looked up to him. Mewtwo nodded slowly. "Yes... I am alone."
"Nobody left for you either?"
"No. There is no one."
"How do you do it?" The youth's voice sounded fractured, as though his soul was broken. "Dad was the only family I had. Mom was gone, my sister ran off, and then it was just me and 'im. The two of us, we took on everything together. I've never had to do anything alone. I don't want to be alone now!"
Mewtwo nodded again. "And who is Keli?"
The boy's shoulders shook with the force of a swallowed sob. "She's my girl... was... ran out on me tonight... damn it..." A tremble. "There's no one left. I'm alone."
Mewtwo snorted derisively, fast becoming annoyed with the boy's self-pity. "And because you are alone, you feel you cannot live? Because you are alone, you feel your life is forfeit?"
"There's nothing' left." The youth slumped forward before lifting the bottle back to his lips. "Nothing left to live for. No one else cares if I'm here. What's the point in trying?"
"You are puzzlingly conceited." The youth blinked, obviously not understanding. Mewtwo elaborated. "Humans are an inconsistent species. You wish to not be alone, and so you would throw yourself into the seclusion of death?"
The boy turned the bottle over in his hand. "If I die... maybe I can see Dad again." Mewtwo raised an eyebrow. "I was fine when it was just me and Dad and Keli. Maybe I can still have Dad..."
"Then you would die for a chance to see the one that has passed in an afterlife that you cannot say for sure exists?" Mewtwo shook his head. Pathetic... "Why have you chosen to drown yourself?"
"Don't have a gun..." The human shrugged. "Drugs cost money. I don't have money. Don't get paid until Thursday."
"You work?" Mewtwo's tail flicked lightly. "Will the people you work with not be distressed if you die?"
"Distressed that they have to find a new bag carrier..." The boy kicked at the water. "Groceries don't give a damn if you're there or not. They'll just go hire someone else anyway."
"I see." Mewtwo returned to his previous line of thought. "Drowning is painful, is it not?"
The boy shifted uncomfortably. "Is it? I don't know... never been drowned before..."
"It is supposed to be horrific." Mewtwo looked out over the water, watching as the moonlight reflected on the backs of the waves. "That feeling when your lungs begin to burn... they say it is excruciating."
The youth followed his gaze. "Dad didn't drown," he said slowly. "Dad died in a car accident."
"Then why do you not go as he did?"
There was a non-committal shrug. "'Cause he took the car with 'im..."
"I see." Mewtwo turned. "Very well, then."
The boy started to look suspicious again. "You're not going to try to stop me?"
The psychic looked up towards the moonlight. "I, too, am alone. I have no one. And yet my mind has never followed the path that yours has. Why should I stop living, simply because no one knows or cares that I am here? I questioned you because I thought that perhaps I could learn something, but I have learned nothing. You are of no more interest to me now."
There was a long silence behind him, and for a moment he thought the boy had thrown himself into the waves. "So you don't care if I die. You don't care if I drown."
"I do not," Mewtwo confirmed. "You have made the decision to end your life. That is your business, not my own."
"It should be." A glance over his shoulder showed Mewtwo that the youth was shaking. "It should matter."
"Why should it matter to me if it clearly does not matter to you?"
"Because I'm alive, damn it!" Mewtwo raised an eyebrow, amused by the tenacity in the boy's voice. It almost overwhelmed his drunken slur. "I'm right here, ready to throw myself into the fucking ocean, and you don't give a damn! What kind of idiot are you? I'm still alive!"
The youth's face paled, and Mewtwo wondered if he was even aware of what he had been saying. "What?"
"Live, if you are so determined to be noticed. The choice is your own. You can walk into the ocean and it will be as though you never existed, or you can go home and find someone who will care. It is your decision."
"My..." The boy was shaking again; the bottle slipped from his fingers and landed in the water with a splash. "My decision?"
Mewtwo nodded, looking up towards the brilliant full moon again. "It is your decision which is more important... to take a chance at life, or to die with only the full moon as your witness. Lady Luna will do no more to halt your actions than I will. You decide. No one else."
The boy was still silent, staring skyward, when Mewtwo walked away. Staring at the moon...
In the end, Kevin Rhodes decided to live.
He left the beach as dawn was breaking, his head pounding from too much cheap liquor and yet astoundingly clear at the same time. Trudging home, he looked over the life he had lived, the decisions he had made, and found himself wondering why the ocean had seemed so welcoming at all. He had a job, a roof over his head, and time... time that his father wouldn't have wanted him to waste. And more than anything, he had a second chance. Closing his eyes, he remembered the fight he had gotten into with his girlfriend... with Keli... the night before... the fight over his drinking. That was where he had gone wrong. Kevin decided then that he would never pick up a bottle again.
Keli was asleep on his doorstep when he got home. When Kevin woke her up she held on to him and began to cry.
At Keli's urging, Kevin started to attend grief counseling. The psychiatrist, a nice woman called Ms. Levi, was very interested in the night he had almost taken his own life and the mysterious stranger whose frank manner had pulled him back from the brink. Keli, too, was interested in knowing the person he had spoken to, but try as he might Kevin could never remember the man's face. Every last word of their conversation was etched into his mind, but the features of his apathetic savior had been blurred in his drunkenness until only a pale figure bathed in moonlight remained. In vain he returned to the location of his encounter, hoping to find that guiding voice again, but the stranger was gone... although the feeling of being watched whenever he stepped towards the water lingered for some time. Eventually he was forced to accept that he would likely never see the man whose words had cut him so deeply, but neither could Kevin ever forget him, either. After all, he owed his life to the stranger lit by the moon.
And two years later, when he took his newborn daughter to that spot to look upon the full moon for the first time, he thought he could almost hear that voice again as he cradled the baby close, holding her with her round face tilted skyward to see the silver sphere. Fighting back tears, he kissed the tiny hand wrapped tight around his finger. "Live, Luna... take a chance at life. It's your decision..." Her decision, just as it had been his decision on the worst night of his life. His decision, as presented to him by a complete stranger whom he would never see again, a voice that played in his mind whenever he felt weak. An apathetic angel. The stranger lit by the moon...