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GetMeOffTheMoonRockman PMTRRL
Fan Fiction by Dashe
Press Start to Continue - Chapter 20: Unbreakable and Unshakable

Chapter 20: Unbreakable and Unshakable. Chapter image depicts Teisel and Aero with their coffee. Teisel looks really pissed off. His hair is a wreck and he has stubble from not shaving for a while. Aero's nervously grinning and tugging at her collar and still hoping she can get out of spilling her guts.

Max and Pic stayed up to finish the entire book after that. Against all odds, Max managed not to spill any root beer on the pages, but to their disappointment, the Barrett that Tron had mentioned never actually showed up again to truly confirm Pic's theory. The two of them wasted absolutely no time in bombarding Teisel the minute they woke up the next evening, after spending the better part of the day passed out on the floor.

"T-Bonne! We're done!" Max exclaimed as he thrust the book in the older man's face upon finding him in the kitchen in the middle of eating his dinner.

Teisel nearly choked on the noodles he'd been slurping up. "What did I tell you two about putting that near food?!" He shouted as soon as he was sure he that could speak properly without hacking broth and partially-masticated pasta all over his sister's handiwork. "I swear, sometimes having to put up with you two is worse than dealing with Servbots!"

Max and Pic exchanged nervous giggles as some unusually vivid imagery of Teisel dunking a toy boat into his soup at Johnny's immediately sprang to mind.

Teisel groaned and shook his head. "Go put it back between the couch and the end table, alright?"

Max took the book back and strode off to the living room, while Pic opened the freezer and pulled out a pair of TV dinners. "It was interesting." He said as he popped them both in the microwave and heated them up.

Teisel looked up. "What, the book?"

"Yes. Syntactically awkward at times, perhaps, but you used to be really silly and short-tempered. I found that interesting. You seem like a different person now, though now that I think about it, watching your family die horribly could plausibly do that to someone."

Teisel felt a sinking feeling well up in his gut. He wasn't sure whether or not Pic's unsettlingly direct response was, somehow, meant to be a compliment. He'd never heard the kid give a compliment before, so there really wasn't much to which he could compare the sentiment. "Uh...thanks?" He uttered in an uncomfortable confusion. "I really can't tell if that was supposed to make me feel better about Tron's writing or just really upset that any of that had to happen in the first place."

"Neither. I suppose that probably wasn't the best choice of words. Do you want a hug again?"

"Not while I'm eating, Pic."

"Max and I noticed something else when we were reading it, too." Pic added. "I should wait until he gets back to discuss it, though."

"Discuss away," Max brushed it off as he waltzed on in and opened the freezer. Before Pic could elaborate any further, he squinted at the arrangement of food inside and asked, "What happened to the TV dinners? Geez, that Grill eats like a..."

"They'll be ready in another fifty-seven seconds," Pic explained. "I call dibs on the fried chicken, though."

Teisel finished his noodles and set the empty bowl aside. "Guys, is there really anything in Tron's book that I might have missed? You've only read it once."

Max hopped up to sit on the edge of the countertop. "Remember that Barrett guy that the grandpa talked about in Chapter Sixteen?"

"Fifteen," Pic corrected.

"Whatever," Max brushed it off. "That dude used to be a member of the Bright Bats. Your sister knew him well enough to put him in her story by name."

The silence in the kitchen was palpable. Even when the microwave timer dinged, nobody could bring themselves to go get the TV dinners.

"You sure she was talking about the same guy?" Teisel finally asked with more than a hint of doubt. "Barrett sounds like a pretty common..."

"It's him. She even mentioned Klickelan Island specifically." Max said. "It's definitely our Barrett."

As the situation took a moment to really sink in, Teisel found himself starting to feel lightheaded. He balled his hands up into fists and focused intensely on the light switch by the door. Even though they'd seen him check out of reality plenty of times before, he still didn't want to break down in front of the guys. "I'm not sure what to make of this." He finally admitted a few minutes later, once he'd managed to convince himself that he'd be able to hold it together if he spoke to them about it.

He couldn't bring himself to add that, up until that revelation, a hefty part of the reason he'd been able to get by and adjust to his new life with the Bright Bats at all was because he could keep it separate from his past. There were times when he found himself struggling to get through the day, when the thought of moving on paralyzed him with a crushing, completely unfounded sense of guilt. The easiest way to cope with it involved pretending that he was off on vacation, or that he was dreaming, or that he'd been sucked into some kind of alternate universe. He'd always wanted that last one to happen to him when he was a kid, anyway. Whatever it took to convince himself that he could walk out and take his Drache back to whatever island Bon and Tron were camping out on and pick up right where they left off, as if the rockets and Mega Man Volnutt had never happened. It just sounded too stupid to ever say out loud, but knowing that these perfect strangers had a direct connection to his family, however tenuous it might have been, made it quite a bit harder for him to maintain the illusion.

Teisel could already tell that he was starting to make Max extremely uncomfortable, and the atmosphere was contagious. "Go," he softly added. He gestured toward the doorway. He could feel his voice breaking and knew the floodgates had the potential to open at any second. "Get out of here. I need to be alone for a while."

Pic and Max didn't need to be told twice, and all but scrambled out of the kitchen, leaving their TV dinners in the microwave.

The two of them decided to get gyros instead.

When they got back, Teisel had completely disappeared for the night. Grill woke up the next morning to find him passed out on the couch. "We've really gotta get this guy his own room," he remarked to himself as he gently shook Teisel's shoulder to wake him up. "Hey buddy, I really want to watch some TV..."

Teisel just grumbled something that sounded an awfully lot like, "I told you to leave me alone, Max," and yanked a patched-up throw pillow over his head.

Grill backed off and let him sleep in. Those TV dinners in the microwave still looked edible, anyway.

Teisel didn't wake up. Instead, at some nebulous point in the evening, he simply found it impossible to continue sleeping. What he'd thought was a minor throwaway character that Tron had decided to toss in for plot development turned out to be the missing link that connected his family to the Bright Bats. Until that night, he'd barely given the character a passing thought. If any of the Bright Bats had mentioned the name Barrett over the months he'd been a part of the gang, it didn't even register that this might be the same person. After skimming through the text to catch any other mentions of this kid, he found a short blurb in the homecoming party where he himself had mentioned a famous digger with great hair. Unfortunately, that was about it.

There were so many questions running through his mind that he didn't even know where to begin. The Bright Bats used to have another digger in the group. A digger who, in some capacity, knew his sister, who didn't have very many friends to begin with.

By the time Aero found him pacing around the kitchen the next morning and trying to piece everything together, he'd already gone through four cups of coffee and had another pot brewing. As soon as he realized she'd entered the room, he greeted her, if one could call it a greeting. There was no "Good morning," no "Help yourself to some coffee," or "Anything good in the paper?" All he said was, "Tell me everything you know about Barrett."

Aero just stared at him and let the newspaper slip out of her hand. It fluttered to the linoleum below her feet as her face seemed to turn a shade paler. Her blue hair only served to intensify her dumbfounded expression.

"Who told you about Barrett?" She finally demanded. She wasn't sure when her palms had started sweating. She'd been hoping she would be able to put this conversation off for another few months.

"Tron did. He was in the book." Teisel explained with a frenetic urgency. He gesticulated wildly as he racked his mind to provide Aero with an accurate recap. "Max and Pic read it and noticed and told me he used to be in the Bright Bats. For some reason, my sister knew he existed and thought he was important enough to put in that story of hers, but I can't for the life of me figure out how or why, or what she might have meant for him to do there. I have been awake for hours looking through this book for anything I might have missed. Please, Aero. I know you need to go to work, but this...I don't know what to do about it. I can't explain it. The questions just keep running through my mind. Part of me doesn't want them answered, but I know if I just let this fester I'm going to explode!"

Aero picked up her paper and propped herself up against the countertop. The speed at which the words tumbled out of the new guy's mouth was more than a little unsettling. "Listen, Teisel," she began, "For me, Barrett's kind of like...I guess you could say he's like the biggest regret I've ever had in my life. I mean, it's not like you had any way of knowing not to talk to me about it or anything. I just...uh...really wasn't expecting to hear that first thing in the morning. It literally came out of nowhere, I haven't had my coffee yet, and I'm still not sure where I should even begin."

Teisel seemed to freeze on the spot. "Did something happen to him?" He cautiously asked as he cupped his hands around the coffee mug he'd been refilling throughout the night.

"Yeah," Aero admitted. "I did."

"You didn't kill him, did you?"

"No, no, it wasn't anything like that. I just...look, I was at a very impressionable age when he showed up with his parkour and his black belt and his natural digging skills. If I had to guess, I'd say he and Max were probably the same age. None of us ever really asked how old he was, but for some reason he always seemed a lot more mature than the rest of us. He just...he knew about all sorts of things, and he had this way of carrying himself that made him look like the coolest person in the room no matter where he went, and..."

"You had a crush on him, didn't you?"

Aero felt her cheeks flush just thinking about it. "I-is it that easy to tell?" She faltered with a self-conscious, reflexive grin. "You can probably guess that things didn't work out, though. I, uh, I was kind of clingy when I was thirteen. Nobody told you about it?"


"Glad to know I can still trust those guys." Aero muttered to herself as she turned around and rummaged through the cupboards for her own coffee mug. She fixed herself a cup of coffee and sat down in her usual spot across from Teisel. The classifieds could wait. "I guess if you think about it, you've probably come to the right person if you want to know about Barrett. I'm sure I remember more about him than anyone else here. The only thing I probably couldn't tell you is what he looked like without his goggles on. None of us got anywhere with that, but believe me, I tried. I tried way too many times for my own good. I probably shouldn't have followed him everywhere, begging him to take me on motorhorse rides. I can definitely see how that might come off as annoying now."

"So he wore goggles before he even joined your gang?" Teisel asked. "Was he one of the original members?"

Aero shook her head. "None of us are sure where he came from. He just showed up one day completely at random. I think he started hanging out with us because he felt sorry for us. We were even worse at motorhorse racing back then. Would you believe he was amazing on a motorhorse, too? It was like there wasn't anything he couldn't do. He might have literally been the perfect guy."

Teisel deadpanned. "You've got to be kidding me." The idea of Aero—aloof, snarky, emotionally-distant Aero—finding herself so smitten with someone she hadn't spoken to in almost a decade that she still couldn't seem to remember any of his faults boggled his mind almost as much as finding out that the fictional rival Tron had given Mega Man had actually been a real person. When Aero talked about Barrett, it was as if this bizarrely bubbly part of her personality he didn't even know she had in her suddenly popped up and completely took over. It was unsettling, to say the least.

"I wish I were kidding you," Aero frowned. "He didn't really act like he had any problem with me asking him out on dates and following him around, ambushing him with hugs and stupid little gifts. That made it so much worse when he finally snapped and left after all that time he spent with us. He said that I was creepy! He even took our ferret with him! Do I look creepy to you?"

"We're getting off-track here, Aero." Teisel replied without missing a beat. "How do you think Tron knew Barrett?"

Aero bit her bottom lip and fiddled with the end of her braid as she tried to figure out the best way to steer the conversation onto a more comfortable path. "I don't know. T-this is just gonna sound really crazy, Teisel," she stammered. Teisel opened his mouth to ask if she was going to be okay, but before he had a chance to speak up, she started talking again. "Listen. I don't know if you know much about me, but I'm not good with building all. I'm better with electronics and computers. Grill can vouch for that. So, uh, you know how a lot of diggers and spotters hook up?"

Teisel slowly shook his head. He sincerely hoped that phenomenon wasn't as common as Aero seemed to think it was.

"Yeah, that's a thing," Aero continued. "I really wanted to become Barrett's spotter. I thought it'd give me a better chance to impress him, but I couldn't afford any equipment, and making it from scratch would have been too hard for me to do." She raised her coffee to her lips and took a sip in an effort to mask her hesitation to continue the story.

If Teisel had been even a little bit less desperate to get the answers he wanted, he would have noticed how much her hands shook as she held her mug. He might have finally taken the hint and told her not to worry about it. Maybe save the rest of that anecdote for a day when they were both in a stable mental environment. But, as it was, he just stared straight ahead and nodded in hopes that it would usher her to the conclusion a little more quickly. He'd spent far too long coming to terms with Tron's death for his liking, and he'd decided that the sooner he could wrap everything up into a tidy little package and stick a ribbon on it, the better.

Unfortunately, in his quest to get a quick resolution, he never considered how any of this might affect Aero, or how that in turn might make the whole thing backfire right in his face. She'd stopped talking for a while and started snapping the rubber band at the end of her braid, just so she wouldn't have to look the man at the other end of the table in the eye. "That was when I found out there was this girl...who was building a spaceship..."

As soon as Teisel realized where this story was going, his heart began to pound in his chest. "Wow." He uttered after a long, uncomfortable silence.

"Yeah. I was the one who met Tron, not Barrett."

"That's..." Teisel began, but he found himself at a complete loss for words. He'd been living with Aero for months now. He couldn't believe that he'd never picked up on any sign that she'd known Tron whatsoever. So much for keeping his Bright Bats life and his family separated. "You're telling me you knew my sister this whole time."


"And you didn't mention it until just now?!" He nearly shouted. "When did you figure this out? Why didn't you tell me this earlier?!"

"It's complicated, Teisel." Aero admitted as she nursed her coffee, absentmindedly stirring it as she spoke with a shaky, uneven resonance to her voice. "I realized she was your sister the minute Max told us that Tron was the one who built the rocket. I had no idea she died, and it hit me harder than I let on. I don't think the others noticed. If you'd been there in the room too, right when I found out, you probably would have figured something was up, is what it is, I guess. You looked so vulnerable back there, I was worried that if I told you, it might have made everything worse. I was worried you might have done something crazy. We hadn't had a new guy since Barrett, and Barrett...well, now you know. I went all in and lost everything."

"You lost...everything? Over one boy?" Teisel repeated. "That sounds extreme."

"Ugh," Aero sighed. She ran her sweaty, trembling fingers through her bangs until they smashed up against her goggles and set them askew. "I really didn't mean for that part to slip out. Crap."

Teisel stared as Aero clenched her hand into a fist and pursed her lips. "Come on, Aero. What happened that you're not telling me?"

"It's got nothing to do with you."

"I'm probably going to find out about it sooner or later."

"Okay. Fine. I really don't feel like arguing this early in the day." Aero relinquished. "I guess the guys didn't tell you my dad's the police chief around here. Good on them, really, because like the rest of this story, it wasn't any of your business. Being in a police family meant that my parents really didn't want me hanging around with the Bright Bats, so you can probably guess that some friction happened with that. Eventually, they wound up kicking me out of their house because I stayed out past curfew one time too many trying to hit on Barrett. I was sixteen. They told me if I wanted to spend all my time hanging around with a bunch of freakish Rebel Riders, I shouldn't even bother coming back."

When Teisel didn't respond right away, she quickly added, "Look. It's alright. I'm fine. I'm over it. My parents were never very nice people, if you get where I'm coming from. Lawful evil, if you ask Max about it. You don't have to worry about me or anything like that, got it?"

"Hold on a minute. So what you're saying is that you got yourself kicked out of your house over some boy who didn't even like you as a friend?" Teisel finally summarized. "I can't say I'm not disappointed to hear that, Aero."

Aero couldn't believe what she was hearing. "You're seriously taking their side?"

"How old are you, anyway? If you were thirteen ten years ago, when you met this guy, then that would make you what, twenty-three?" Teisel asked. "When I was twenty-three, if you'd told me that I'd miss my father once he was gone, I'd have probably laughed at you. My mom and I were close, but my dad never approved of any of my hobbies. If he'd had his way, I'd have grown out of cartoons when I was six years old. Looking back, it really seemed like we wasted all of those years arguing about it..."

"Listen, Teisel, I get where you're coming from and all, but you never grew up with my parents," Aero cut him off. "This is exactly why I didn't want to tell you about this! You and your dad didn't like the same TV shows? Mine kicked me to the streets! You're acting like I've never tried going back to see if they'd give me another chance or anything, either!"

"Your parents aren't going to live forever," Teisel countered, "and I don't want you to have to go through your life with the same regrets I did because you took them for granted!"

It took every ounce of restraint Aero had within her to keep herself from flinging her coffee in his face. Instead, she stood up, backed away from the table, and shouted, "These aren't people you can just go and reason with!"

"Family's the most important thing you'll ever have! Do you have any idea how many hopes and dreams I had to set aside because I didn't want to lose what was left of my family?!" Teisel roared. "You have no right to yell at me for at least warning you about all of this before it's too late, if clearly nobody else in your life is going to!"

"I have every right to yell at you!" Aero defended herself. "As soon as I walked into this room, you went and asked me about the one guy who drove me to shut out every other person I met from that point onward. I finally open up about it after living with you for all this time, in response to a question you asked, and then you go and give me a lecture about taking my parents for granted? Of course I'm going to be mad! Face the facts, Teisel! Not every family's worth caring about!"

"...You guys woke me up." Pic suddenly stated from the kitchen doorway. If he'd been listening in on the whole argument, it didn't show in his expression at all. "I'm hungry."

"Go get yourself some breakfast, then." Aero grumbled. She snatched her newspaper up and barged straight past him, leaving Teisel sitting in the kitchen with his thoughts and two tepid cups of coffee. "I'm done."

When Aero finally walked back into the common room after taking some time to calm herself down, Pic was perched on the back of the couch waiting for her. "T-Bonne took off a while ago." He reported.

"Why should I care what he does?" Aero snorted. She'd rolled the classifieds from that morning's paper up, and they stuck straight up out of her back pocket. Even Pic could tell that she looked a little sloppy. "If I don't hit the streets soon, someone else'll take these errands."

Pic stared intensely at Aero. "...Are you really sure you don't care what he does?"

"What are you getting at, Pic?"

"I'll bet you 1,000 zenny that he's on his way to the police station to try and talk to your dad."

"...I didn't tell him my dad was the police chief back there, did I?"

"Yes. You did. He also told me he was going to the police station. I can only assume that's what he's going to do there. In fact, I'm 97% sure of it. You should go catch him before he gets you into even more of a mess."

Aero smacked herself in the forehead. "Ugh..." she groaned. She wondered for the second time that morning how long Pic had really been listening in on their argument. She fished the newspaper out of her pocket and tossed it onto the coffee table. If Teisel had actually run off to try and fix her splintered family relations himself, then working that day was out of the question. She turned back to Pic in a fuming rage. "Why didn't you try and stop him?! Come on, we have to try to catch him before he does anything stupid!"

Pic shook his head. "This is between you and T-Bonne. I don't want to get involved."

"Typical." Aero grumbled, storming out the door, up the stairwell, out of the alleyway, and into the bustling streets of Teomo City. She could only hope she wasn't too late.


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