"It's just like lettuce."
"Lettuce doesn't have enough taste for someone to dislike it, and it doesn't have any smell to it either. Most people don't think of it that way when they eat it. But I dislike it because I dislike it, and I know."
BT and Tsukasa—"Conflict"
In the World, any number of things could happen without anyone's noticing them. Unbeatable monsters showed up, a young boy (or perhaps girl) had fallen comatose while his/her character was still in the game, and a female Wavemaster was missing in action for two whole days. The last person to have spoken to her was the outlaw Wavemaster Tsukasa, but he respected her privacy and kept their confrontation a secret.
However, that didn't stop Twin Blader Sora from trying to find out anything.
It was another of those same old days in the World, Tsukasa noted as he sat on a grassy hill in Dun Loireag, staring up at the blue sky. He wondered if it was ever possible to rain there—if it was possible for him to feel pain, anything else was plausible too—as no precipitation ever seemed to fall. But the World was no more than a game, an escape from reality, a distraction from the real world—a distraction from which Tsukasa could not be freed.
His knees were drawn close to him and his staff rested on his lap. The wind rustled through the silver-white hair that stuck out from under his hat as the grass around him danced. To most people, the ability to feel all of that would have been incredible, but the glitter wore off soon for him. How incredible was it to feel death many times without actually dying?
"Well if it isn't little Tsukasa," an obnoxious voice observed from behind him. Tsukasa didn't need to answer; he knew the reputation of the Player Killer Sora. Though he didn't know the aggravation personally, he'd learned enough of his personality from Mimiru, who was always complaining about him. "Aww," Sora continued, mocking disappointment. "What's wrong? Is our little Wavemaster too good to speak to a lowly Player Killer like me?"
"What do you want, Sora?" Tsukasa demanded a bit impatiently. He had no time for this. Subaru had promised to meet him.
"It's not so much that I want an actual object, but more of information."
Sora smirked and placed one of his swords at Tsukasa's back while the other rested against his neck. "And seeing as you're a character that can feel pain, I suggest you tell me everything I want to know."
"What do you want?" His voice wasn't very scared, but somewhat exasperated. He didn't want to die again, only to wake up in the realm of that girl, Maha, and the woman's voice.
"I heard you spoke with BT a few days ago."
"Yeah. So what?"
"No one's seen her in two days. You were the last to talk to her, so I want to know where she is."
"How am I supposed to know?" Tsukasa replied. "I can't log out, so I can't go out and find her. If you want to find her so badly, go look for her yourself."
Sora was appalled, naturally. BT and Mimiru were the only ones that actually spoke like that about him, and the former was usually killed each time. The latter tended to come on a peacekeeping mission from Bear, so he had to spare her. However, nowhere in the rules of this game did it state that he had to spare Tsukasa. After all, it was perfectly all right to kill non-player characters who were within the game, and Tsukasa was within the game while his player was comatose…
He prepared his swords to slash through Tsukasa, but the young Wavemaster switched servers rather than summon his Guardian or use his magic. Angered, Sora slashed through thin air before retracted his blades and walking off whistling. It didn't matter, really. There were plenty of other people to terrorize around the World.
Lady Subaru of the Crimson Knights stood on her gondola while other Knights rowed through the canals of Mac Anu. Another conference forced her to break her meeting with Tsukasa, so she asked a young player called A-20 to inform him of the problem. She hoped A-20 found him and explained; the girl didn't appear to be very trustworthy, but she was better than Silver Knight, who would have refused.
The late afternoon sun reflected off of the water's surface, shimmering as the oars skimmed through it. Subaru found herself staring at the reflected light, wondering if the perception would be different for Tsukasa, who could feel the warm rays against his body and the cool water splash on his face. Perceptions were always different to other people, but even more so for him and the rest of the World.
"Lady Subaru," addressed Silver Knight.
"Yes?" she asked absentmindedly.
"I do not wish to see you fraternizing with commoners," he admitted.
"Crim is not a commoner," she corrected. "He was once a Crimson Knight, same as ourselves, and he asked me to meet with him, Bear, and Mimiru. I couldn't deny his request."
"But, Lady Subaru…"
"Enough." Her voice was a bit more commanding than she meant it to be, but she needed to be strict with Silver Knight this time. "Silver Knight, I will not be needing your accompaniment from here out. I'll be fine." With that, she exited the craft and began walking the streets to rendezvous with the three players. Along the way, she couldn't help but recall her sharp tone and just how much it seemed to match BT's "princess" comment to the letter. The remark had stung, but she had a feeling that BT had been telling the truth.
"Subaru?" checked a deep voice. A male character in scarlet almost Middle Eastern-style clothing stood in an alley, leaning on his glaive. Leaning against the wall was a man covered in blue paint and armor, his appearance heavily resembling the legendary Orca of the Azure Sea. Nearby was a girl in a red bikini-top with a red loincloth around her lower extremities, her large sword on her back.
"Crim," she recognized.
"Is something the matter?" the Orca-look alike, Bear, questioned. She shook her head.
"Then let's get on with it!" the girl, Mimiru, urged.
"Calm down," both Bear and Crim insisted.
"Sorry, Subaru," Crim apologized, "but we have a bit of a crisis on our hands. You see, Bear and I got rather disturbing e-mails from BT the other day, and we've been downright worried about her."
"How disturbing?" Subaru questioned.
"She sent us implications of suicide, and so we've been trying to find out where she is," Bear explained.
"It gets worse," Crim added. "Sora is looking for her too."
"You know, annoying guy, green hair, Twin Blades?" Mimiru provided. "He's been P.K.-ing BT every other week. If he's looking for her, you know there's going to be trouble."
"According to the other Crimson Knights, the two of you were talking here a couple of days ago, just before her disappearance," Crim recapped.
"Do you think you might have inadvertently said something that might have offended her?" Bear asked.
"Nothing really, but I did ask her to talk to Tsukasa for me. She didn't like the idea that I wouldn't go and do it myself." She looked down, feeling as though she finally understood what BT had been talking about. "She seemed a bit distracted as well, though."
"Distracted?" Mimiru repeated.
"Oh no," Crim groaned.
"What is it?" Bear checked.
"I told BT that we should try to keep our real world lives separate from the lives we play in here," he explained. "She seemed to be devastated, but you know her: She won't show her emotions." He groaned again. "Now I'm sure something's wrong. Bear, meet me offline now."
"BT's apartment. I'll e-mail you the address."
"What should we do, Bear?" Mimiru questioned.
"Stay here with Subaru," he instructed. "We'll notify you with any news."
If either of the men was asked to recall the events that transpired from there, neither would be able to recall any other color than red. The rest of the world was black and white once they broke open the door to BT's apartment and discovered the sharp tangs of blood and alcohol all over the room. Crim cursed loudly while Bear checked the rooms.
"She's not in any of them," he informed, yelling out a choice vulgarity.
"Wait, what about the roof?" Crim checked.
A newfound terror filled them as they ran toward the roof, observing a few scattered blood drops along the way.
Under other circumstances, they might have felt a bit silly calling her and each other by their online names, but there was too much of a crisis on their hands to think of that.
The blood continued leading up, eventually stopping at the door. A woman sat on the top step, dried blood on her clothes and stale alcohol on her breath.
"BT!" the two men called out. She looked at them with lazy eyes.
"BT, what happened?" Bear demanded.
"It…was like lettuce," she described.
"Lettuce?" Crim repeated.
"Lettuce has no taste, no smell… Death is the same way. Tsukasa said that it was like guess who, but it's even less than that. As the blood came down from my wrists, and the alcohol affected my brain, I could feel nothing, not even numbness. It was just like eating lettuce." She stood up, no longer seeming intoxicated or suicidal. "And I dislike it because I dislike it." She began to walk down the stairs, leaving her two bewildered friends behind. "By the way, my high school has a reunion coming up in case either of you wants to escort me." Confused, they looked at each other, wondering how on Earth that could have happened. BT simply walked down the stairs and headed back to her apartment to straighten up and go back to normal. BT was back.
Oh, God, I wrote for Subaru and Sora! I can't stand them, and yet I got in their characters. At least they won't be muses.
Okay, this story happened kind of by accident. I was watching "Conflict," and wondering what happened between BT's return and her conversation with Tsukasa. I noticed how worried Bear was and decided to write a fic about what was troubling him. Somehow, suicide got in, but BT's strong enough to recover quickly from an experience like that.
Now, people, I have a few rules about reviewing that I had to set into place at the Digimon section. First of all, no flaming. Most of the time, a writer works hard to make something, so it's wrong to kill his or her spirit by being cruel to them. Second, I'm not out to build up my review status. I could care less about that, but I do want some feedback. And, while we're on this, the feedback had better not be "Oh, I love this! Write more soon!" Those kind of comments make me crazy, and a crazy Akino is not a good thing, the muses can tell you that. So give me some good quality reviews, stating what you liked and what you didn't like, and throw in some suggestions on how to make the writing better. Any author can use some tips.