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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 4: Pesto Paninis

Chapter 4: Pesto Paninis.  Chapter image depicts Tron's book and food, including the aforementioned paninis.  Recipe forthcoming in the Legends Station Forums' recipe thread, if I find a good one.

Teisel admittedly spent more time focused on adjusting to his haircut than on taking in the café's relaxing ambiance as Max led him inside and up to the counter to check out the menu. "Look all you want, but you're really gonna want to try this panini. It's the best thing they've got." Max asserted.

"Can we get some wings, too?" Teisel asked.

Max looked at him incredulously. "I never would have pegged you for a wing guy." He stated. "You know the panini comes with a side of fries already, right? I'm not too big on spicy stuff…ah, what the heck? It's your first day out since we…er…since you got here. I can deal."

They placed the order, took their food, and sat down at a booth in the back, away from where the city's kids were pretending to do their homework on a couple of the public computers. Max prodded at his steaming hot panini with a fork in hope that it would hurry up and cool down, and Teisel just sat idly across from him with his books and Max's purchases stacked neatly by his side. Even though the food looked amazing, he found himself just staring into space. For some reason or another, this café gave him a strange, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach. He tentatively grabbed a drumette and took a bite. It wasn't bad by a long shot. In fact, it was still crisp on the outside. These guys clearly made the food to order.

"Like it?" Max asked. Teisel slowly nodded as he gazed into the distance, focusing for a moment on one of the vacant computers, closer to the front of the shop. Max shrugged it off. He figured he'd tried to force enough conversation for the moment.

Then Teisel took a bite out of the panini, and uttered, "Oh crap."

This is THAT café! He thought to himself as the blood seemed to drain from his face and his chewing slowed to a halt. It's under new management, and they've definitely redecorated, but I'd recognize this pesto panini recipe anywhere! Why didn't I notice where we were going earlier?!

Max waved his hands in front of Teisel's face. "Hey. Hey T-Bonne, you alright?" He pestered, but Teisel seemed to be fixated on that computer again. The new guy absently loosened his grip and let the panini fall back onto his plate.

"This place used to be called Diamond's, didn't it? My sister and I used to come here a lot." Teisel finally articulated after a long, awkward silence, his voice cracking on every other word.

Although he couldn't recall the little details of any of the real panini lunches they'd had during the race to get a rocket into space, partially because there was once a time many years ago when he'd just wanted to forget them entirely, his younger sister had been so kind as to immortalize a frighteningly accurate idea of a lunch that might have been, all in writing. He didn't even need to open the book next to him to check. In the past week living with the Bright Bats, he'd read over that scene far more often than he probably should have, and right then and there he found himself automatically watching the whole thing take place in his mind, as vivid as if his family were actually there.

Teisel could see Tron sitting at that empty computer, scanning her Tumblr page, scrolling and hitting the refresh button every few seconds, as if it were really ten years earlier, in a parallel world where Mega Man had managed to return to civilization safely. He could see a younger, goofier, more confident version of himself seated at the table nearby with a bowl of chicken soup, some kind of coffee, and about a dozen newly-purchased One Piece figures scattered around him. Both of them had ordered the same pesto panini Teisel found himself eating at that very moment. It was completely surreal.

He watched transfixed as Tron admonished his younger counterpart for dunking one of the boats into his soup, only for the other Teisel to quip back with a retort about how skimpy her wardrobe had become since Mega Man came back. It was the kind of petty argument he'd have probably forgotten a few months after the fact, had it actually been given the chance to take place.

"I just don't want anything bad to happen to you, Tron. You're a decent-looking young woman, and I don't want anyone taking advantage of, er..." Teisel awkwardly fished the toy ship out of his soup and shook the broth out of the cracks and onto the cafe floor, much to the manager's dismay. "We really can't afford anybody taking advantage of you at this point." He added quite bluntly.

"I wouldn't let anyone take advantage of me. You know that!" Tron blinked and briefly abandoned the computer station, walking up to Teisel in determination. "I promise I won't let anything bad happen to me. I don't want to worry you." Then she smiled warmly and hugged onto her big brother.

"I hope you're right about that," Teisel sighed while Bon knocked on the window and peered at them from out on the streets. Being too large to fit in most shops was a bit of a setback.

Tron looked over at the window and waved at her little brother. "Oh Bon…" she giggled.

"Hey! Come on, man!" Max shouted in Teisel's ear, snapping him back to reality. "You're kind of scaring me here!"

Teisel just blinked a few times, trying to work the pain building up in his heart back down and out of sight. It had all just come on so suddenly. He didn't even realize he'd yanked the book out from the pile and started thumbing through the pages until he caught Max staring at him. "I…I'm sorry…" he whispered, relieved they'd opted to sit in a more secluded spot.

"Dude, it's okay," Max tried to assure him. "We're a team, remember? The Bright Bats have always got each other's backs, and just because you're new doesn't make you any less of a Bright Bat, got it?"

"Yeah, thanks," Teisel said with an oddly self-conscious smile. "I suppose I've got some explaining to do, huh?"

"You don't need to feel like you have to tell us what's up or anything," Max offered, finishing off his sandwich and taking a swig of cola, "I mean, it'd be nice to know what's going on. It looked like your brain started glitching up as soon as you ate that panini. I know the food here's good and all, but it doesn't usually do that to people. Still, uh, it's your call. No pressure."

"You have no idea," Teisel solemnly stated, glancing across the café in a last-ditch effort to bring back the mental imagery of his family. It was no use. They were gone. After clearing his throat a few times he asked, "Max, do you remember the rockets?"

"Rockets? You mean the ones that kept shooting off from one of our satellite islands a little over ten years ago to try and get some kid hero off the moon?" He asked. "How could anyone forget that? My parents almost filed a noise complaint!"

Teisel fidgeted with his collar. "I…I had a little sister. Tron. Tron was…in part, at least…responsible for the rockets. She was really good with machines. She and our baby brother Bon and I used to be air pirates, but once that boy Mega Man went up to space in that…space…thing, we started living on that little island off the coast with another family for a while. Tron insisted that we needed to stay and help out. It seemed as good a place as any to try to raise funds so she and the other girl could get that rocket up there. Despite their differences they always tried to play it safe with this new technology. They made sure to send Tron's invincible robot minions up in the rockets instead of trying it themselves. She called them her Servbots. I can't say I liked this Mega Man kid much, but I did promise that if he saved the world from the crazy gold Reaverbot that flew in out of nowhere…I told him that I'd buy him dinner, so…uh…hm." He frowned. It made so much more sense in his head. "I guess you had to be there." He conceded with a sigh.

When Max realized that Teisel had started spacing out and staring blankly at his food again, he piped up to try and get the story back on track. "So you lived here with your sister and brother during the rocket days, but you didn't like the guy, right?"

Teisel shook his head. "Not really. Blue Boy and I had…a few conflicts of interest, if you will, but Tron had this crush on the kid, so she was really set on getting this rocket to work. She thought she was hiding it well but it was always pretty obvious to me. Of course, if you remember the rockets, then you know what happened to him in the end."

"Yeah," Max listlessly stirred the ice around in his empty cup as he listened to the strange story. Hearing Teisel talk this much on his own accord was enough to get his attention. "The rocket exploded on the trip back. No survivors. Your sister seriously built that?"

Teisel nodded solemnly and continued. "Tron was always…well, she was smart, but she was the kind of person who'd let her emotions get to her. I was so worried about what she'd do if she found out I knew she liked Mega Man this whole time. I should have told her. It's not…I mean, well…" he faltered and rubbed his temples in frustration. "Sorry, I…I've never actually told anybody about this before. I know it was a long time ago, but…" Teisel trailed off and took a sip of his lemonade. "Point is, she…she killed herself over it. She got into the antifreeze in the warehouse and the Servbots—I told you about the Servbots, right? They just kind of led me over to her. They didn't realize anything was wrong. I try not to remember that day very much, but...I still get nightmares about it sometimes."

"I'm…so sorry," Max uttered after failing to find any casual means of delivering that message. He opened his mouth to speak again, but Teisel cut him off.

"That was only the beginning." He sighed. "Bon and I grabbed what we could, including the book I brought here, took the Servbots, and left immediately. I just…I couldn't deal with it. I can't believe I left Barrell and his granddaughter to clean that up. I wasn't thinking.

"Now when I told you that Tron was good with machines, I didn't mean that lightly. This girl managed to create dozens of sentient robots while most kids her age were more concerned with stuff like books and video games." Teisel explained. "And, uh, back when Bon was born, she managed to attract a lot of media attention. I'm not sure if you've read about this incident, but among other deficiencies, our brother Bon was born with a heart condition that by all means should have killed him before he had a chance to leave the hospital. HBD. That ring any bells?"

Max shrugged. "I was never really much of a news guy," he unsurprisingly admitted.

"Tron managed to build a robotic life support system for Bon," Teisel told Max. "It was nothing short of amazing, and as soon as the press found out about it we started getting calls from all over the place offering her scholarships and what have you...of course, it goes without saying that not all of the attention was good. Late one night a band of pirates, far better ones than we'd ever been, broke into our estate and tried to kidnap her. My parents told me to take Tron and Bon and escape in our boat and tried their hardest to hold the pirates off, but…they didn't make it. It was definitely rough, to say the least. I kind of just dove into my hobbies to keep from losing it altogether. We managed to get by, but we had to become pirates ourselves to do it.

"So losing Tron wasn't my first foray into, uh, that kind of thing. Without her, though, our weapons weren't up to scratch anymore. Some of the Servbots could develop tech on their own, but their machines just weren't as good as Tron's were, and I have no aptitude for that sort of work myself. Believe me, I tried." He shook his head and halfheartedly picked at a wing. "But after a few years of scraping together insignificant funds from tiny, under-defended islands, the Servbots started breaking down, and nobody could fix them. Not one of the mechanics I saw could wrap their heads around Tron's blueprints."

"I wonder if Grill'd be interested in taking a look at them…" Max mused.

Teisel shook his head. "Those are probably long gone by now. Either way, I…I'm not sure if I could handle seeing one of her machines up and running again," he admitted. He paused and took a deep breath, gathering his thoughts. This part was always the hardest for him. "But yeah. Servbots. We lost a lot of Servbots." He repeated, that familiar burning sensation welling up from the back of his throat as he fought to keep from losing his composure entirely. "Tron's machines, ingenious as they were, couldn't run forever. So when I remembered that Bon's life literally depended on one of Tron's machines…I…I just…"

The entire restaurant suddenly blurred as the tears finally welled up. "Th-there was nothing…I could do…I didn't tell him. I couldn't tell him. It wasn't fair. None of it was fair." He sniffed and wiped his eyes with his arm, but it did little good. "He was thirteen," he choked out. "A thirteen year old boy with a thirteen month old brain, but we could always understand him all the same. I hated her. Tron. I hated that she left us and…and...she left Bon to die like that. I hated that I hated her for it! I just took Bon out of his suit when it finally gave out and held him and I…and...I never…I never wanted to let go…I had to watch my brother die. I just…I can't. I couldn't. He was…he was the only family I had left…"

Max watched as Teisel broke down in front of him. He felt a little dizzy taking all of that in. Lightheaded. Almost in shock, in fact, and he wasn't even the one it happened to. He just numbly handed Teisel a napkin for him to wipe his face off, wondering if he hadn't been too hard on the old man.

"That…that all happened pretty recently. I know it's probably been closer to a year but it still feels like it happened yesterday. I think I tried to kill myself, too. I'm not too sure. I…my siblings and I…we've always had this weird thing. Explosions don't damage us at all. I tried…I kept crashing all of the airships we had left. Maybe I was just trying to punish myself. Maybe I wanted to feel physical pain. I don't remember. It was such a waste. I just held onto that book and flew around looking for new places to try and blow myself up. I crashed my last ship on this island looking for our old research lab on the off-chance that Barrell and Roll were still there, but I couldn't find it anymore. I don't even know if I want to find it now."

"Wow." Max finally said. It was the only response he could think of.

Teisel glanced down at the book again and, after a moment of deliberation, nudged it toward Max. "This is the only thing from back then that I have left," he explained. "Tron wrote a story in her spare time, while she was working on the rocket. A very elaborate one. It was about Mega Man coming back. Naturally, there was a love story involving Tron and Mega Man, but I wasn't expecting her to put in this crazy government conspiracy, too, and she captured all of us perfectly. I didn't think there'd be so many action scenes. I wasn't expecting to laugh as much as I did. I was trying to ration it and pace myself, but that didn't happen. It was just…it was good. Great, even. Like seeing the happier world none of us had a chance to live in. I put off reading it for far too long and finally mustered up the courage to check it out right before you and Grill found me. It ended much too soon, and somewhere in the middle she wrote a scene where the three of us were having pesto paninis in this café, so…yeah. Here we are."

Max found himself feeling suddenly self-conscious and awkwardly responsible for bringing this on in the first place. He couldn't bring himself to so much as touch the book now, much less go looking through it for himself. "Is there anything I can, uh, do? To help, I mean." The fact that Teisel was the one doing most of the talking and he was the one doing most of the awkward conversational stumbling had hit him full force.

"When we get back, explain everything that I've just told you to the others," Teisel instructed. "I'm not sure I can bring myself to talk about this all over again, but they've got every right to know the kind of baggage they're dealing with. If—if you want to…keep me around, that is." He added, his voice breaking again mid-sentence as he wiped his face with another napkin. He dropped it into the pile with the others. "I wouldn't blame you if you didn't."

Max stared at Teisel, subtly coaxing him into eye contact, and stated, "Teisel, I meant what I said. We're a team. All five of us. So if you ever need to just talk or vent or anything, we'll be there."

"Thanks, Max. I' my best to make sure you won't regret it." Teisel replied with a shy, but sincere smile. He could feel his eyes start to well up again. He couldn't remember the last time anybody had been this genuinely good to him.

"Okay, maybe Pic wouldn't be there," Max added as an afterthought, "but he's one weird dude, so don't take it personally." He glanced across the table at Teisel's panini. "You still gonna eat that?"

Teisel shrugged. He wasn't sure. It was delicious, but it wound up triggering a meltdown in the middle of a restaurant. "It's cold," he stiffly replied after prodding it with a fork, and Max figured he knew where Teisel was really coming from this time around.

"It's alright," he assured him. "They're not bad reheated. Grill's going to be mad we went here without him so he can definitely take care of that for you if you don't feel like finishing it off. That guy's like a human garbage disposal. It's really convenient sometimes. Well, except during the dry spells. Then it's a pain keeping him from eating all our leftovers." Max sighed. "Want to get going?"

"Yeah, in a bit. Once my face stops leaking."

"…Take all the time you need."


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