Disclaimer: I do not own .hack or anything remotely related.

Author Babble: Whoo, I'm on a roll! Currently playing .hack//QUARANTINE and there is just too much shipper material to let it all go to waste. Not to mention the sudden urge to dispose of Terajima in a dark alleyway somewhere. *winkwink* Anyone seen .hack//GIFT? If you haven't, you need to. It's freaking hilarious! *ahem* Anyway, yeah, this is just some Kite/BlackRose fluff since I needed some. Enjoy. ^_^

Warning! Will contain spoilers for .hack//OUTBREAK.

The Rooftops of Gadelica

By Goldberry

All was quiet in The Cultural City, the eternal night full of sparkling stars and gentle winds. Any other time it would have down right boring, what with the lack of players, but as it was an ungodly hour in the real world, the absence of most of The World's characters was not unforeseen. She, herself, would not have been there if she hadn't had problems getting to sleep. Too much had happened in a short period of time, their fights with the Eight Phases, endless planning sessions with Wiseman droning on and on, with forays into hard dungeons for quick level-ups fit into any spare time. She was emotionally and physically exhausted.

And yet she couldn't sleep.

She probably should have been doing something constructive, like keeping tabs on the Board, or searching for more infected fields. Certainly she shouldn't have been standing on a rooftop at the edge of Carmina Gadelica, watching the lights twinkle within the city. She felt very whimsical standing there, ruby eyes watching The World pass her by. It wasn't unpleasant though and if anyone had called her on her suddenly very mushy feelings she would have blamed it all on Piros. He had been hanging around the Chaos Gate when she had arrived and had started spouting his horribly inaccurate chivalric talk.

"Ah! It is you, the most beautiful of roses! I did not expect to see such a shining apparition so late this eve, but indeed you have graced me with your lovely presence."

After a few minutes of elaborately eloquent speech, she had interrupted the Heavy Axeman, letting him know that no, she was not with Kite, and she had no plans on going to the bottom of any dungeon with him alone. Just the thought had almost made her log out in a panic. When it came to Piros, Kite certainly had more patience with him than she did. Still, she did employ a certain amount of tact. Such as making a break for it and climbing up onto the roof of the Elf Haven to escape the lumbering Heavy Axeman. He had run by a few minutes ago, obviously searching for her, but had finally disappeared towards the Grunty corral. Probably hoping to catch her by the Chaos Gate.

BlackRose snorted to herself and then breathed out heavily, calming herself and relaxing her muscles. When she was sufficiently comfortable, she stepped onto the peak of the roof like an acrobat on a tightrope, walking along its length with her arms outstretched to both sides for balance. It was a heady feeling, walking above streets with a panoramic view of the city. For the first time in the last few hectic days, she felt in control, aligned with the elements. To prove it to herself, she pivoted easily on the ball of her foot, swinging her right leg around to walk back the other way, one foot in front of another. Reaching the end, she laughed quietly to herself, proud of her accomplishment and bemused at her own silliness. If Kite saw her now he would definitely think she was losing it.

Kite.

Why did everything come back to him? He certainly wasn't the center of her universe. She had other things to think about, such as her brother, the mysterious Wave infecting The World, the girl Aura, Orca, Kite's Bracelet…

Realizing where her thoughts were once again headed, BlackRose growled to herself, still poised on the edge of the rooftop. What was wrong with her? She wasn't some love struck ninny waltzing around after a man with her head in the clouds. She was a capable person, strong when she needed to be. Sure, she was still capable of fear, feeling it in her bones every time she faced one of the Phases, but when it came down to the line, sink or swim, BlackRose was the first in the water.

She was not a jealous person.

She wasn't.

Well, maybe she was.

BlackRose bit her lip, suddenly focused on her thoughts. Was that what was bothering her? Had it been the reason she hadn't been able to get to sleep? Surely not. It was ridiculous.

Wasn't it?

Just because Kite had dramatically saved Terajima Ryoko from a potentially dangerous situation was no reason for her to be upset. Sure, the Heavy Axeman appeared to be an angel, complete with wings and halo, and spoke with a soft, unobtrusive voice but that didn't mean she was perfect. And Kite had only been doing the right thing by carrying her to safety and then defeating that monster. It didn't mean anything that Terajima had fawned over him afterwards, making him shift his feet in embarrassment.

Not a thing.

Feeling herself tense up again, she struggled for composure, surprised to find her vision a little blurry with unshed tears.

"You're an idiot," she muttered to herself, scrubbing at her eyes with the back of her hand. "And you haven't slept in forever. You're just blowing things out of proportion, that's all."

The sad thing was, though, she didn't really believe that she was.

She knew she was prideful, stubborn, certainly not the dainty damsel in distress that Terajima presented. Why, in comparison to BlackRose, what man wouldn't choose Terajima?

Sniffing softly, BlackRose slowly lowered herself down against he slanting roof, her back propped against a chimney. It was then, from her new vantage point, that she realized she wasn't alone. Below her and across the way, Elk sat in an alleyway, his shoulders hunched and wearing a generally dejected expression.

She almost laughed, seeing her own feelings reflected in his face. They really made quite a pitiful pair. Elk had been searching for days for Mia, probably just as exhausted as she was, barely giving a "hello" before demanding if they had seen the cat-like character. BlackRose knew why he was so sad of course. Any girl taking one look at him could see it. She managed a small smile just thinking about it. Misery really did love company.

And then something touched her shoulder.

With a muffled shriek, BlackRose tried to jump up only to have her feet slip on the shingles, her body hitting the roof heavily as she began to slide off. Only a hand gripping hers at the last moment kept her from a nasty fall.

"Kite!," she whispered furiously, once again in control of her voice. He smiled weakly at her as he pulled her back up, clearly apologetic.

"Sorry."

When she was sitting safely on the roof again and her heart had quite pounding, she rounded on the Twin Blade. "What are you doing here?" A thought suddenly occurred to her and she leaned forward urgently. "Piros didn't follow you, did he?"

Kite blinked, "No. Is he here?"

BlackRose gave a mental sigh of relief. "Never mind, it's nothing." Not to be derailed, she narrowed her eyes at him. "But how did you find me? And shouldn't you be asleep? Don't you know what time it is?"

Kite lifted his hands, palms outward in a gesture of peace, a light laugh escaping him. "I saw you standing on the peak from across the square. I couldn't sleep so I thought I would see who was here and I found you." He abruptly frowned, his fingers stretching towards her face before he realized what he was doing. "Have you been crying?"

"W— What?" She leaned backwards, out of Kite's reach, and watched his hand fall back to his lap as she touched her face, rubbing away any stray tears. "Of course I haven't been crying! Why in the world would you think that?"

The gentle solemnity of his expression told her that he didn't believe her little charade but that, like always, he wouldn't challenge it. Probably very aware that she would break if he did.

"Then what are you doing up here?" He glanced around as if for an answer and his eyes fell on the despondent figure of Elk down below. "Hey, it's melfuldk." The last word came out completely muffled as BlackRose slapped a hand over her friend's mouth, gazing downwards anxiously to see if the Wavemaster had noticed them. Seeing that he hadn't stirred, she exhaled softly and took her hand away, blushing a little as Kite threw her a confused look.

"Sorry, but I don't think he would like it if he knew we were here," she said, nodding to the way Elk was drawing meaningless patterns on the ground with the end of his staff. Kite frowned.

"What's wrong with him?"

"He's sad."

Kite looked over at her. "Why?"

BlackRose's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "Isn't it obvious?" Her voice grew soft. "He's in love, or well on his way to being so." She had to look away from the amount of surprise in his dark eyes. Men could be totally clueless.

"You mean with Mia?"

"I think so."

Kite sat back on his heels, rubbing the bridge of his nose as if he were suddenly very tired. "Wow. I mean, I knew he liked her and spent a lot of time with her but I guess I didn't know how strongly he felt. No wonder he's been so worried."

"She's his partner," she said quietly, "Of course he would worry about her."

Kite eyes searched hers, hearing an underlying tone to her words but not understanding it. "Yeah, you're right."

"But perhaps she's found someone else and moved on. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened."

Kite shook his head. "I don't think so. Mia and Elk are very close. You can't break up something like that so easily."

"Really?" she whispered and he turned towards her, silent worry etched over his features.

"Yeah, I think so. Don't you?"

She hesitated and he caught it. "I guess so."

Kite moved closer to her, his brows drawn together with concern. "BlackRose, please, tell me what's bothering you. You're upset about something, I know it."

It was on the tip of her tongue to lash out at him, tell him that he knew nothing about her at all, make him hurt the way she was privately hurting, but of all the things she knew she was, cruel was not one of them. And it was Kite sitting before her. She could never knowingly hurt him.

Never.

So she swallowed her words and smiled, knowing he could see the effort it cost her. "Don't worry. It's just been a long day and I'm really tired. I should probably log out." Gathering her energy, she made as if to rise but abruptly found herself pulled into the circle of Kite's arms, her head in between his neck and shoulder as he hugged her unrelentingly. Surprised, she could only sit there limply, half in her friend's lap as one of his arms wound around her shoulders, the other cradling the back of her head to keep her in place. As he began to speak, his voice close to her ear, tears welled in her crimson eyes.

"I'm sorry," he said, still holding her tightly. "I know that I've made you sad somehow but I don't know why. Please forgive me. I always clam up when I should be talking." She blinked as he repeated her own words back at her and finally she found the courage to link her arms around his neck, returning his embrace.

"It's really my fault," she said, her words slightly muffled as she spoke into the white scarf around his neck. "I'm just being stupid." She laughed a little, hoping he wouldn't ask her too many questions. "You're really a very nice person, Kite."

Kite pulled away slightly, still holding her captive so that she was forced to meet his eyes. "You are too, BlackRose." She didn't answer and his grip on her tightened, causing her eyes to widen. Kite was never forceful unless he was being truly passionate about something. "I mean it. You're one of the bravest people I know, and the most caring." He smiled slightly, teasing her. "Even if you don't always show it. I would have never gotten this far without you."

She scoffed. "Brave? Have you forgotten all the times I acted like a complete child? I can't believe you actually let me join your party after that whole scene in the cathedral when we first met."

He tilted his head at her, seemingly amazed at what she was saying. "Just because you're afraid doesn't mean you aren't brave. I'm scared all the time nowadays but I know I have to continue and it makes it easier knowing you're going to be right there by my side. Of everyone I've met here in The World, you're the only one who truly understands what we're trying to do because it's affected you personally. If I lost you…" His eyes clouded. "Well, I'm not sure I could do this alone."

BlackRose was truly astounded. Was she really that important to him? Lately, she had begun to think she was expendable, merely another soldier in this vast war they were fighting. Even though she had been with Kite from the beginning, there were so many people involved now she supposed she had begun to feel a little unimportant.

But Kite was saying something completely different and she felt a little of her old confidence return. Kite saw it and sent her a smiley.

"Thank you," she said softly, and then graced him with one of those thousand watt smiles of hers that always made him blush. Embarrassed, he scratched the back of his neck, suddenly realizing how close they were.

"Well, do you want to go dungeon crawling? Maybe it'll weary us out enough to get some sleep."

A gleam of anticipation entered her garnet eyes. "Sure!" In the process of standing, she stopped suddenly. "Oh, wait. What about Elk?" She glanced down to the alleyway and Kite followed her gaze, noting that the Wavemaster had disappeared.

"He must have gone off to look for Mia again," Kite supplied. BlackRose nodded.

"Or logged out."

Kite stood up and then, with the nimble grace given to Twin Blades, slid down the slop of the roof and dropped to the paving stones below, his knees bending so that his legs absorbed the impact. Straightening carefully, he looked back up her, motioning for her to follow.

Taking one last look at the twinkling town, she slid down the roof with a great deal less speed than Kite, but she managed to make it to the edge without falling in an undignified heap. Sitting there with her legs dangling over the side, she felt her body temperature raise five degrees as Kite raised his arms, silently telling her he would catch her.

She could trust him.

That was what it all boiled down to, wasn't it?

At that moment, looking into his eyes, BlackRose made a promise to herself. Never again would she worry about trivial things. Kite was a wonderful person and there wasn't a hateful bone in his body. If someone needed saving, he would do it, and so for that matter would she. Together, they were unstoppable and she would trust him.

With her heart.

Stretching out her own arms, she let herself fall, her hands catching on his shoulders as his held her waist and lowered her gently to the ground. She didn't miss the redness on his cheeks as he released her, either.

"There you are, he of fair eyes!"

Across the square, Piros came loping towards them, a goofy smile crossing his face as he gaze landed on her as well.

"And you found the fairest of flowers as well! This is great! Now we can— "

Kite and BlackRose exchanged looks and the Heavy Blade grabbed her partner's hand. "Run for it!"

Laughing, Kite allowed himself to be pulled along, their sights fixed on the Chaos Gate and a night just to themselves.

THE END.