A/N: Since Chapters 1 through six mainly build on the relationship between the two main characters, you might like to skip to Chapter 7 to jump right into the action. (;
Mirishira Accel World
I don't know a millimetre about Accel World!
Mornings. They're cold, freezing cold, and it's only thanks to my blanket or they'd be a lot colder.
Well, at any rate, my body's not going to get up by itself. I'm not exactly a morning person, but a house can only provide so much...
Sliding my feet out of the bed, I quietly tiptoe out of the room, trying not to wake up the sleeping girl in the adjacent bed. Her flame-red hair spills out over the pillow and towards the edge of the bed; the air is filled with a pleasant and familiar scent.
That's my...how shall I say this. Misawa isn't my sister, she's my childhood friend and used to be my neighbour a floor above. But due to circumstances, she now lives with me. It's not awkward for us; we've spent what easily amount to years together. So don't get any wrong ideas about that, yeah.
Brushing my teeth and washing my face is over and done with, a simple affair. Misawa wakes up at around the same time I pass our room, as usual. Flicking on the kitchen lights, I prepare our breakfast; today, it'll be ham sandwiches with hot chocolate.
She's never a morning person, and as such she warmly welcomes the mug of hot beverage with her petite hands as she slumps into the chair a few minutes later. "Thanks for the meal," she mumbles, but hey, at least she tries.
"Thanks for the meal," I respond, and tuck in.
"What's happenin' today?" She's a little more awake now. "Where's our new school again?"
"Isn't it in your maps?" comes my guileless reply. "It's not the first time you've forgotten the way to school. You seem completely unprepared again."
"'Cuz I'm waiting for you to do it for me."
Misawa chuckles sneakily when I glance at her, half-blushing at that remark. She then manipulates several holographic controls and sends me a picture file - she had made a detailed map showing all the possible bus and walking routes from our apartment to the new school.
"As usual. Eat, Misawa, it's getting cold."
That's how our days go. Nothing special about it, just a boy and a girl living together in a lonely home...
It's not like we wanted to live together like this. We're only twelve years old this year and about to enter middle school. Where are our parents when most children need them the most?
I'll tell you. My father is gone. Gone with a capital G, because something inside me knew that on that fine day when he walked out of the house with his suit and his favourite shoes, that he was never going to come back. My mother then became a shadow of the fine woman she used to be, gaining weight as she battled depression and attempted to cut herself away from the man she once called 'Dear.' I can tell; one does not simply throw out men's clothes in a box without any warning whatsoever.
Misawa...well. The Kitamuras used to live a floor above us, so we have plenty of sweet memories of playing at each other's houses. Those were the days with her and her parents, I'd say.
After the horrifying car bomb by some cult called 'Aumu Shinrikyo' or something like that, it was just her left. She has no relatives in Tokyo, so the first person she came crying to was...you know. Me. Not like I could do anything about it, but well, Dad left just a week before that. Bad things come in pairs too, and we were just seven years old.
At least we've stayed together all the way afterwards. Mum let us sleep in the same room, and maybe, she had requested for us to be in the same class in elementary. It's a nice thought that this woman whom I rarely talk to makes nice gestures for our welfare, and having money for food in our stomachs is one of the ones on the top of the list.
But enough of the past. It's painful to discuss the past.
Today...Misawa and I are going to enter a new phase in our lives: Mitsukihara Middle School.
'And together,' I hope, because I sure as hell need someone familiar by my side.
...which, surprisingly enough, didn't materialise as expected.
The electronic tag stared me in the face the moment we stepped into the school boundaries and connected to their Local Network. We had both turned and looked at each other's eyes, each other's lips, hoping against hope...
"Class 1-A." "Class 1-B."
Our faces even fell at the exact same time, oh the irony.
We still followed the directions to our new classrooms, but a strange, impenetrable fog of silence hung between us all the way. Boys and girls older and taller than us strode confidently past while we bowed our heads and averted our gazes; and suddenly, we were there. The point of separation.
The two doors were separated by a wall like the character kawa (川). We both stood there awkwardly...
"...see you around," Is what she says, but I grab her wrist at the last second.
"Keep your Chat open," I tell her with surprising forcefulness. "Let's...um, it's for..."
She nods and lightly touches my hand with her own. That's the beauty of childhood friends: some things, some intentions, they're understood automatically without the need for words because we know each other so well...
And so we part and enter our classes...
As my eyes rove around a classroom full of unfamiliar faces, each person doing the same or merely gazing at their tables, one thought comes to mind.
Without her, it's weird.
As of Chapter 13, I have decided: to hell with the canon cast! I don't have to rely on the original characters for inspiration!
After all, the rest of Accel World after Volume 4 (that is, the end of the anime run) was all about the game, the game, and the game. There's so much that Kawahara could have done with his worldbuilding of both the Unlimited Field and the Real World, yet he chose to further his plot with in-game happenings and moar girls. There is a genuine lack of attention paid to the Accel World universe - and this extends to fanfiction as well. So what if you're on par with Kings? So what if you're a Level 9/10, kick butt at the flick of a finger, and have Kuroyukihime/Fuuko/White Cosmos at your fingertips? You're just a middle-schooler with problems in the real world. How are you dealing with them, pray tell?
Just pause to think about it - Kuroyukihime, Vice-President of the Student Council, suddenly spending a hell lotta time with the fat and bullied kid, as well as his friends! Not only that, she starts to bring in an outsider from a neighbouring rich girl's school who has no relation to her except for the business regarding the Caretaker club! If you remove Brain Burst from the picture, a lot of things just don't seem to tie up.
So my goal here is not to detail how my gang of OCs get to Level 10 / beat up all the Kings and shit / conquer the next evil legion. No. I want to address the point that when one sinks so much time and energy into a game, you change as a result. And when you have loved ones to take care of, that becomes more than a small issue.
Yet at the same time, Brain Burst, being the hyper-realistic fighting game that it is, has the ability to teach you more about yourself than you thought you knew. The journey to self-awareness is a one-way road and for the better.
The question is whether every journey has a happy ending, don't they?