white_aster asked for Akabane. So of course I wrote something that only she and I would realize was Akabane. *snerk* Just playing around with the world. I may use Idris/Akira elsewhere, and I want him developed when I do.
Calloway (a name he had always been partial to, and so one he kept returning to) decided to visit the Moon eventually, but only more than a century after its opening to tourists. He was no casual tourist, and he had no great desire to leave the Earth; it had, after all, provided sufficent to entertain him for upwards up four centuries. Still, the idea of looking at it all from a perspective distant in space as well as philosophical position was tempting, and so (as it happened, the day of his four hundred fiftieth birthday) he boarded a shuttle, presenting a European passport in the name of Jacob Calloway, and left the atmosphere of Earth for the first time.
It took him only a few minutes to adjust to the weight difference. Calloway had always been athletic and graceful; he soon developed a sort of gliding stride that let his almost float along the coridoors. It was a small, secret pleasure to him to watch his fellow shuttle-passengers making a mess of themselves, either scurring along with tiny mincing steps or making improbable bounds, approaching the celing when they were not careful of their stride.
When he arrived at his hotel (he had dithered a bit, and finally booked a room only from the shuttle) he indulged in the luxury of a long bath before heading out to get a good look at the Earth.
The best view to be had at this time of day was in the Diamond Plaza, so named for its transperant roof, which was indeed formed of diamond - not a single diamond as people on Earth whispered in awed tones, but a matrix of hexagonal windows, each as wide as the span of a man's arms. Suprisingly, the shops on its edge didn't overcharge, and so Calloway purchased a bubble of tea and lay down to admire the continents. He looked for England, but it was hidden by clouds. Egypt, however, he could find, the Nile winding down its length like a curl of hair stuck to a girl's cheek as she sweated. I can see my house from up here, Calloway thought, and found himself laughing. It wasn't literally true. He didn't own a house in Egypt.
"What's so funny?" said a voice some distance above him.
The face that obscured his view was, suprisingly enough, familiar. It was, Calloway thought, the sort of coincidence that followed him around - as was only right and proper. He had a pen-pal on the Moon, a man who was known on the net as Idris. Idris had once, in a mock-flirtatious mood, sent his picture; he was far shorter than Calloway and his eyes were deep blue, but they had similar dark hair, pale skin, and angular faces. The expession, too, had been familiar - the smile of someone who, despite his youth, had gotten the joke. Calloway did not know whether to hope it had been real.
"Idris," he said lazily, and had the pleasure of watching the boy's eyes widen in genuine shock. "What a pleasant suprise. I had meant to look you up later, but now is just as well. Would you care for dinner?"
They wound up in Idris's cave, a tiny underground cubby with polished walls of native rock, and the debris of an adolescence spent gallivanting around the solar system spread on every available and a few unavailable surfaces. Calloway had to step over a status of Anubis left next to the door, and smiled at the grim black jackal as if greeting an old friend. "I'm sorry it's so small," Idris said. "I'll move once I graduate. Maybe even to the surface. I could afford it, if I land a good job."
Idris's field of endeavour, which he was finishing a doctorate in, was called 'psuedo-neurological systems design' by the world at large. Like many of its students, Idris prefered to leave off the 'psuedo'. Calloway nodded politely. "I'm sure you will," he offered. "Growing demand, and you have a lot of natural talent."
"And how do you know how talented I am?" Idris's eyebrows raised, just a little, suggestively.
"Forgive me; I merely speculate. Your essays are so well-formed, I can hardly imagine you making anything ill-formed."
Idris gave a smile that suddenly looked familiar. "Thank you," he said cheerfully. "Would you like some coffee?"
It was well past midnight, or at least what would have been midnight in Greenwich and so was considered such on the Moon no matter what the light outside truly was, by the time the idea of bed entered either of their minds. Calloway rose from Idris's one chair (Idris was lounging on the bed, like a Roman aristocrat at dinner) and made his way, with a little more sway to his step than his head provided but less than might have been expected for the hour and the drinks, toward the door. He didn't make it. He stopped halfway and looked down at the carven jackal for a very long time. Finally Idris said, "My name's Akira. Out here, that is."
Calloway considered that, as any name is an alias to him, he may as well use it on the net as well; he could not reciprocate the gesture. As repayment instead he said, "I had a friend called Idris. That's why I read your essays to begin with; the name caught my eye. We havn't spoken in a while."
Idris - Akira - nodded. "How did you meet him?" he exquired thoughtfully, and shifted to sprawl full-length on the bed, staring up at his celing lamp with far too much concentration. The expression, too, is familiar, although it reminds him of a different person, a girl he had known who had grown up fast and who could see through people as easily as glass, and had as much respect for them as might be expected from her perspecacity.
Calloway didn't say: He wasn't always called Idris. When I met him he was Ifran, and when last I saw him he was Ali. We ran into each other, quite literally, in Cairo, when I was only eighty. He used to give dates from the founding of Rome, just because he liked to. We watched the first moon-landings together, on a tiny black-and-white television he had gotten in trade for a peice of pottery, and drank brandy half as old as me and argued about the future of the space program. He was right every time. We watched the Mars landings together, too, and made a lot of the same jokes. Somewhere between then and now I mellowed. I used to attack life, and do exactly as I pleased, and seek out challenges; now I drift through it, and I am not sure that this life is not more pleasant, but sometimes I am ashamed of it. I havn't spoken to him in a while, but one of these days I will, and maybe by then I'll have something to say.
Calloway said, "He was an artist. He forged ancient Egyptian artifacts. I ran into him in Cairo one day and we started talking about archaeology."
"He sounds fascinating," Idris said. "I'm afraid I'm not much for archaeology."
"That's alright." Calloway shrugged. "It was a passion of my youth, but these days I like to look to the future."
The next day Calloway returned to the Diamond Plaza, noting mechanically the changed angle of the Earth. It really was quite beautiful, from this far away. He reached out a hand and curled his long fingers around the edge of the image. How easy would it be to pick up the Earth and toss it across the room? Pluck it from the sky? Or perhaps simply set it spinning a little harder; that, Calloway thought, would not be difficult at all. He imagined Idris murmuring encouragement, casting bones as the other Idris had done and whispering the point for him to apply the push. He imagined the tension in his arms as he strained against inertia, the sudden ease as the effort caught hold.
Perhaps it was time he start taking part again.
A little distance, Calloway thought, was a wonderful thing for clearing the head.