[[ Seems like the trend in fanfiction writing is making cute pairings, or the occasional not-so-cute pairing (a friend or two of mine know well enough about this; NC-17 and Digimon do NOT go together o_o). I think I much prefer the cute. Idle minds can make spooky little things. ]]

"My dear Mr. Dragon, if you're going to be so slow, how will you ever stand a chance against me? Whoops, too late!"

The hulking body of a dragon lurched one final time before it fell, a defiant hiss rattling through its jaws. Not so mighty when they're belly up, as one may say simply because it wasn't that far from the truth. Across the base of its throat an oily black slit lay flayed open like a misplaced gill, and similar cuts adorned the beast's belly, which was most definitely upturned. There was little time to examine the corpse before it faded away; digital decomposition was quick to kick in and in the wake of the dragon's body, there sat a gleaming golden treasure chest.

Sora yawned. Garbage. Useless armor no doubt, or perhaps yet another "The Death" or similar item to add to his already sizeable collection. More money for him, he supposed, but the strain it was putting on his inventory... There were still rooms to be explored and cleared out before this dungeon venture could be considered complete, and in one of those rooms the Gott statue awaited with its rewards.

The layout of this level of the dungeon was simple enough. The stairway had opened up into a small room, which opened up into another with one door going towards the east and another to the west. A Fairy Orb revealed they circled around and met again a little ways to the north in a chamber that led into another room... Presumably that was where the Gott awaited. Sora had already gone around the segmented circle once just to clear out all the magic portals, so this time he was going around again.

He was about to double back on his tracks when something caught his eye... The path carried him back towards the level's entryway, dark stairs illuminated solely at the base by blue flame bearing torches, and sitting there was another golden treasure chest. The first monster he had encountered had tried to ambush him but failed, quite obviously...

"Oiyah?" he grumbled to himself as he passed the chest by. The chest's top had been lifted but he had left it untouched, just as he did the previous; the worthless items within would do him no good.

In a subsequent segment of the circular halls he came across another treasure chest, one that he remembered being blue. That is, it had been set with a booby trap that required a Fortune Wire to be used if the player opening it didn't want to be gassed in the face or something of that nature. Yet now it gleamed an all-too-shiney yellow, and it too had been opened.

Sora was not pleased. It was true that the treasure had been left by him because he didn't want it, but it was a matter of principle... People did not follow him and leech treasure. His steps quickened, as he rounded the final arc of the circle, towards the Gott statue's room. Hopefully the leech had not taken the opportunity to steal that from him.

He halted just outside the last hallway that had the sole entrance into the Gott statue room, and much to his reward he heard the shuffle of feet and the quite sing-song sounds of someone humming. A single person most likely... A smile blossomed on his face, brighter than a dying star: prey. A lesson should be taught, and he was in quite the mood to teach it. One does not follow a Player Killer if one does not wish to be killed, just as one does not play scavenger to a Player Killer's spoils if one does not wish to be killed. Quickly, he braved a peek through the doorway with his hands just itching to get themselves dirtied up.

A blue chest sat in the middle of the hall with someone strangely small and slender hunched over it. Trying to make use of a Fortune Wire most likely, and someone not in a hurry. As the person worked, he could hear a hummed tune that he failed to recognize, but failed to care about in any case. Sora could see pink clothing of some sort, and the humming sounded feminine but you could never be too certain with people on the 'Net; how easy it was for him to veil his own voice! She gave the wire a final jiggle and the chest popped open. "Ah! Finally! Now let's see what we got here..."

When the figure bent to shuffle through the box's contents, Sora made his move. A sliver of darkness parting from the shades, soundless save for the quiet snicker that served as the girl's only warning. Before she could turn around, Sora was crouched behind her with his blades at her throat. "Eeep!" she squeaked, trying her hardest not to move, an effort that proved useless because her hands were shaking far too much.

"So you're the little thief, aren't you? It's not nice to steal another person's treasure." he whispered into her ear.

"I didn't know I was following anyone, h-honest! Let me go, please?"

By what he could see of her, it was obvious she was a newbie. Her equipment was sparse, especially the pathetic dagger that was sitting on the floor beside the base of the chest. Either she couldn't bear the sight of sharp stabby things at her throat or she had a problem with her eyes... In either case, she had still attempted a big no-no. Sora's voice turned ominously incredulous, words slithering from oil-choked waters. "Let you go? Where's the fun in that?"

The girl managed to turn her head just enough to meet half her assailant's gaze, and attempted a weak smile. "Being nice can be fun, can't it? I don't know what fun you'll get out of killing a novice."

So she was… A majority of The World masked themselves behind masks of power, strength, and style. The actual person behind the character could be just the opposite from what he seems, but The World would be none the wiser. Her eyes… Too silly to fit in. But what did Sora care about fitting in?

"These past days have been slow," he explained, bringing his face closer to hers just as his blades pressed just barely against the skin of her throat. "Beggars can't be choosers. That is, unless you've got something of interest that you could exchange for a little mercy…"

"Uhmmm, the stuff from the treasure boxes?" she asked hopefully.

"Worthless."

"Are you sure about that?"

Sora yawned, arching his hidden brow. "Absolutely. And even if I am incorrect, I'll still get you."

"Well, I think it's pretty neat... Oh! I'll help you get the Gott's treasure! There's gotta be even neater stuff in there!"

"You're… kidding."

Much to his amazement, the girl suddenly looked very solemn despite the cartoonish features that she possessed. He almost checked to see if his blades had been accidentally retracted, for she did not seem to pay them any heed at all. "No-no! I'll give you the stuff from these boxes and I'll get the Gott statue treasure for you too! That's a good deal, don't you think?"

"I know what's going to happen. I let you go, and you use a Sprite Ocarina."

At that the girl frowned, looking to be thinking hard over something for the few seconds it took before she spoke again. "… I thought I forgot something…" Then she shook her head and did something Sora would have never expected from the normal player: she reached up, grabbed hold of Sora's arms, and started tugging them away from her throat. The other thing he didn't expect was his lack of resistance. People just… didn't do that. "Come on, come on, I know the way!" And just as absent-mindedly, she collected her dagger, rolled up onto her feet, and gave Sora a tug to urge him to follow her.

"You really don't know what you're getting yourself into, huh?" Sora asked. He did as he was prompted, allowing himself to be led on by the orange-haired novice. By all accounts he should have been thoroughly annoyed, but…

It seemed like she didn't hear him for all she said was, "Hm?" as she navigated the dungeon which was a simple matter on its own. Towards the center of the northern wall of that particular section of hallway was the door that led into the final room, it's small square shape serving as a big hint that it was indeed the Gott statue's chamber. She hesitated at the doorway, giving a nervous peek inside but not daring to step inside. "Wonder if there's a monster…?"

If she had used a Fairy Orb she would know, he thought. "And if there is?"

The scrawny little thief scooted back a little bit behind Sora, and gave him a little poke to his side. "Then you can go first!"

"Don't tell me you're afraid of the monsters here…"

"I told you I'm new!" she moped. "I wouldn't stand a chance down here by myself."

"So that's why you followed me?" He turned slightly to peer down at her, smiling; dumb as a post, but in a cute sort of way. Would be a shame to slay her…

At the accusation she bristled slightly, poking him hard once more. "I didn't know I was following anyone!"

"Did you notice that there were no monsters, and that there were random treasure chests just sitting around?" The girl nodded, so he continued. "People have to clear out the monsters and find those chests. Saying you didn't know is a lie."

It was easy to tell a nerve had been struck. She attempted speech a number of times, but failed every one before she slumped her head and shoulders a little bit in defeat. "I, erm, um… Erk."

"Mmhmm, just as I thought. So you can go on ahead and check out this last treasure chest since I've done all the work for you so far, ne?"

"But if there's a monster, it'll eat me!" she squeaked.

"Obviously. Now go on, you haven't got all day."

Helplessly she squeaked a little again, but Sora shook his head and gestured towards the doorway. With a great deal of hesitation the little girl tiptoed into the doorway and dashed on in. Sora couldn't hear any sounds of struggle of any sort, but the map didn't show a magic portal within that room. Minutes later, the girl walked back out looking exceedingly pleased with what she had found.

"Oh man, you've lucked out!" she exclaimed, nodding her head repeatedly for emphasis. "I found some really good stuff!"

"Did you now?" He already had his poker face on, mainly because he knew he wasn't going to be impressed at all. These newbies wouldn't know anything about 'good stuff' even if it was dropped right into their hungry little hands.

"Mmhmm, I sure did! And I'm going to give them to you just like I said!" Sure enough she dug into imaginary pockets and when she held her hands out to him, little golden shapes glinted cheerfully at him.

Sora stared, forcing a frown. "And that is…?"

She smiled the biggest smile he had ever seen, stretching almost literally ear to ear. "Yellow Candy!"

An awkward silence settled around them. On one side of it, a bubbly little Twin Blade stood, having the audacity to dole out Yellow Candy in exchange for her life; on the other, a very confused Player Killer. "Umm…"

"Take them, take them!" she chirped, "That is, unless you don't want them after all…"

"What, might I ask, can one do with these other than sell them?"

Thoughtfully she tilted her head, and for a moment Sora had a vision of an oversized squirrel with its paws held up. "Well, umm… Trade them?"

The blades were brought back into consideration; one arm rose to push her cupped hands aside, pressing the flat edge of the forked weapon against her wrists. The player killer sighed and grumbled, "Worthless."

It was as if he had called her something obscene. The cheery aura that surrounded her shattered, melting away her smile and casting a distressed look upon her. "I risked my life going in there to get these for you and that's all you can say?"

"How does one risk one's life when there's no monster nearby?"

"That's not the point," came her whine. "A favor is a favor. If you don't want this stuff, I'll keep it for myself."

"Go right ahead, because I don't want it."

"Good!"

"Yes," he said, and to punctuate the word he retracted his weapons. Likewise, she hastily put the candies away, but there was little else to be done. The grim castle-like décor around them was still, and the treasure chest that lay discarded near by lost some of its golden sheen.

"So I guess I'm keeping the candy after all," she said at a length, eyeing him warily.

"Looks like it."

"Then… I guess I'll be on my way too."

"I thought you said you forgot Sprite Ocarinas?" The question rolled off his tongue slowly as arched his brow beneath the grayish purple bandana that kept his forehead covered.

Grievances were forgotten within the span of a breath: the girl smiled a sly fox-like smile, one at which Sora could not help but smile in return. "Oh, did I say that…?"

"Maybe, maybe not." Fingers knit together at the back of his head, and for a few silent moments he regarded the strange girl with trickling sense of curiosity. A potential ally in the days ahead…? Or maybe just another girl to play pest to? My, my, the many possibilities the future holds… Slowly, with the low grinding scratch of his metal-sided boots, he turned and began to make one last trip down the length of circular corridor. Before he got too far, he halted again and turned enough to look back at the pink-clad Twin Blade. "Hey, just out of curiosity… what's your name?"

From down the hall, she lifted a pink-gloved hand to wave at the elder Twin Blade. "A-20!"

Not the typical name… Sora smirked; not the typical newbie, either. This one could be fun to have around. "Mmhmm… A-20, you said? I'm Sora… Member address please?"

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[[ Cans strewn about a messy desk sit, and wait, and watch the slowing keystrokes as one last sentence comes to an end. Yet as all settles into peace and quiet, an unspoken question hangs in the air, clear as a bell: why am I trying to write at 3 AM? A good question, that. Potential edit fodder. *falls asleep* ]]