If you guys don't like this chapter I understand, kind of threw it together from ramblings I made while in the hospital, insomnia, and random conversations with Lily. Consider it an interlude of sorts as the story marches on. Enjoy, hopefully. So fucking tired right now…

Turning away from the monitor displaying a rather maniacally cackling Keiko, Kikuoka leaned back into his desk chair taking in a deep breath, which was quickly followed with him forcing it out as a tired sigh. A few moments later he turned to address his silent yet rather obviously bemused guest directly.

"How in the world did we not know this was her plan the entire time?"

Kou for his part rubbed the bridge of his nose while shaking his head quickly replying with a chagrined smile, "Likely because Kayaba thought this would be the most amusing reveal that Kirito is, in fact, the truly unrepentant manipulative bitch she has always portrayed herself to be and we all chose to ignore what was right in front of us?"

Kikuoka snorted at that as he stared at the ceiling, "Yeah that fits the bill more than I'm comfortable to admit. You know I still feel pity for those girls regardless of the headaches they have unintentionally caused us with their manipulations?" He paused as Kou scoffed and in turn he shot his guest a dark look which just earned him a grin in return, rolling his eyes Kikuoka chose to ignore said reaction as he continued on.

"I do as well, shush don't be a dick, what I am getting at is if the rest of the nation really understands what we've all gotten ourselves entwined in with this recent fiasco."

Kou raised a brow at that while cocking his head to the side, "All right, I'm game, elucidate?"

Kikuoka sighed as he shook his head slowly, "Kirito just played herself as judge, jury, and executioner, and ended up getting the defendants to arrest themselves."

"I watched that entire cluster fuck as well, and it was hilarious," Kou stated with a grin and a nod, "annnnd...?"

Kikuoka shook his head slowly, "No one is ever going to let that girl become a lawyer private or government...such a waste..."

Kou couldn't help breaking out laughing at his companion's despondent pout.

Suguha was, had been, and always would be, proud of her older sister, tonight though? Yeah, she couldn't help it, play acting an uncaring bitch, faltering in the face of Silica's adorable determination, dropping character to protect the girl that was essentially bait, then tricking a group of highwaymen to arrest themselves?

Her giggle fit while being held by her equally bemused mom was continuous for a few minutes as they both stared at the TV screen, up until Midori pulled her closer and let out a sad sigh.

"Oh my little girl…how you have grown…Aoi would be so proud…"

Suguha blinked at that in confusion as she turned her head to meet her mom's tired gaze, "You mean Aunt Aoi mom? Was she like Keiko or something?"

The older woman closed her eyes for a moment as she let her head fall back onto the couches back, sighed, and then turned to meet her daughter's confused visage with a wan smile as she replied.

"Your big sister is so much like my big sister that at times it just…hurts to be reminded of my loss. It's painful… but it is also…Cathartic."

Suguha blinked at that not sure how to respond, her mom remained silent for a few minutes as she leaned back into the couch eyes closed before eventually drawling out, "My sister hated bullies. She in fact went out of her way to make life difficult for them…Keiko… Let's just say she is doing the family business proud and leave it at that."

Kayaba was beyond pleased with his daughter's reaction to the idiot upstarts of Titan's hand and was having a rather difficult time restraining himself. He had arranged for the devastated party to bring his plight to her attention, steered her towards an action of active involvement, arranged for her to latch onto a new little sister figure, and watched her grab the chess board and throw that fucker out of the window to achieve her goals.

Good. God. Damn was he ever proud of his apprentice.

Presented with a problem, finding a solution that would not result in idiots winding up dead, and all the while appearing to be the benevolent dictator she was meant to be.

He swiped away a tear, and grinned broadly, "Oh they grow up so fast."

Kirito led Silica back to town, all while occasionally breaking into random albeit short giggle fits which had the younger girl shaking her head in amusement. The Black Queen had after all earned it, the silver tongued swordswoman's apparently epic bluffing skills resolving a potentially life or death situation in a rather hilarious and succinct manner.

When they entered the town proper and made it back to the inn Silica rushed up to her room and was already tearing through her inventory screen by the time Kirito enter after her, a bemused smile on her face as she observed her now frenzied companion. Finding what she was looking for she walked to the table taking a seat and near reverently poured Pneuma Flower's contents on her familiar's remains. There was a flash of light that quickly faded away and with a screech a small blue feathered dragon flew into a now crying Silica's open arms.

"PINA!" Silica cheered as she held the dragon close to her chest while spinning about the room, Kirito silently watching a few moments, a soft smile briefly flitting across her lips as she shook her head in a bemused manner.

"Congratulations Dovahkiin, your hamster is alive and well. Did good out there kid, damn good and you should be proud of yourself for it."

Letting go of Pina, allowing the small dragon to flit about the room before landing in her master's hair the shorter girl rushed forward wrapping the Black Queen in a tight hug, nearly knocking the air out of her lungs in the process.

"Thank you Miss Kirito, thank you so much I could never have done it without you!"

Kirito awkwardly patted her back while replying back with a sheepish, "And thank you for not getting angry over that fact that I was essentially using you as live bait for player attackers... Sooooo... Let's say we call this one even?"

Silica broke the hug and took a step back as she stared up at Kirito smiling brightly, "Well it wasn't like I was ever in any real danger was I? You wouldn't have let anything happen to me, right?"

Kirito snorted out a laugh while nodding, "Valid point," she said with a half shrug, "Still feel a bit bad for it, so how would you like to head back to my place and have dinner with us? Sort of a celebration slash I'm sorry I kinda used you like a staked out sheep get together?"

Silica tilted her head to the side in curiosity while asking, "Us?"

Kirito smiled brightly and nodded as she motioned for Silica to follow her outside, "Yeah Asuna and Argo, my wife and best friend respectively. Though I'm likely going to get an earful from Asuna for the whole bait thing... Ah well, such is life."

Silica worried her lip a bit before asking "Is this going to cause troubles for you Miss Kirito?"

The older girl laughed at that with a grin across her face while shaking her head slowly, "Nah, Asuna's cute when she's annoyed anyway so win win for me really. Argo on the other hand..." Kirito came to an abrupt stop and furrowed her brow slightly before continuing, "I'm not sure if I should subject you to her at such a young age... Ah well, at the very least Asuna scolding her for trying to teach you how to scam people out of their Col and making them think it was their own idea will be fun to watch."

Kirito began walking again, Silica trailing after her while muttering, "That sounds...umm...kind of ominous Miss Kirito..."

Said girl barked out a laugh, glanced over her shoulder and winked at Silica while smiling the whole while, "Perceptive one aren't you? Now onward to delicious cooking, an indulgent yet exasperated wife, and scheming mischievous best friends loaded with lewd jokes and questionable life advice!"

Oddly enough after a moment's thought, Silica was rather looking forward to meeting the Black Queen's chosen family; it would after all at least be interesting.

Tsunayoshi leaned back into his chair as he watched the broadcast before him and could not help letting out a soft scoff while running his fingers through his passed out girlfriend's hair whose head was currently resting on his thigh. He had stayed up all night to try and prepare for what was very likely going to be a complete and total slaughter, Hayato already being out on the town with his boyfriend and all, when this happened.

It had….played out well, and in the end that was all that mattered really. The bad guys were caught, the good guys looked good, and Keiko was more or less forced by her own personal standards to behave like a normal human being around Silica.

Closing tired eyes he could only sigh in exasperation with the final thought of, 'What dreams may come tomorrow you crazy brat?' as sleep finally took him away.