I should probably continuing my main fanfic, but my recent obsession with .hack material makes it so that my muse inspires me to write these works instead. To the few people who read my other work, I'm sorry for being late, and I promise to update it within the next two weeks.
As for this piece, it's a one-shot based on the .hackLegend of the Twilight manga, with some elements from the anime. There are spoilers, but none of massive consequence. The entire story takes place in real life.
I'm also using the IRL names of the characters for this fic. There are no Created Characters. If you read a name you don't recognize, please refer to the Author's Notes at the end.

The Silver Ball

"Onii-chan! Won't you please go?" Rena glared at her twin brother in obvious anger and a bit of despair. It was the last chance for him to get ready, and Shugo was still adamant about not going to the masquerade party.

"We've talked about this before, Rena. I am not going. I don't like going to parties." Shugo said, cleaning his headgear with a piece of cloth. "I'll just stay here and play. You go with the others and have fun."

Rena shook her head, wisps of sandy brown hair brushing against her cheeks. They had been planning to go for months, but Shugo had announced at the very start that he didn't want to go.

The masquerade was to be held in a University in downtown Tokyo. It was supposed to commemorate the day a Japanese University merged interests with two other Universities, one in Germany, the other in America. By some pure stroke of luck, the Japanese University was the one Fujio and Ouka were teaching and studying in. But what was an even bigger stroke of luck was that the American University included several schools under its name, including the one Hotaru was studying in.

Now Hotaru was flying over with the rest of her classmates to attend the party. The opportunity for everyone to meet in real life was just too good to pass up, so they had immediately made plans for everyone to attend. Everyone that is, except Shugo.

"You know, we might not get this kind of chance ever again. Don't you want to see the others even just once, Onii-chan?"

"We'll still see them in the game, Rena. It's not that big a deal. If you really want, you can take pictures so that you could see them for whom they really are." Shugo replied without even taking his eyes off his hardware.

"Fine!" Rena huffed. "You're such a spoiled-sport, Onii-chan. We get this once in a lifetime chance and you'd rather play. What'cha gonna do, hang out with Zephie the entire time?"

"You don't have to insult her. Besides, the others are going to be there. You can go on without me." Shugo said calmly. A bit too calmly for Rena's taste; it was as if he didn't care about it at all. Whatever happened to her loving, but overprotective brother?

Sighing in exasperation, Rena marched her way upstairs to change into her outfit. If her brother would rather spend his time with an A.I. than with his real friends, then so be it. Tears sung Rena's eyes. "Stupid. He is so stupid."

As the day waned, early evening found Rena in her room, brushing up the last rogue strands of her hair. Her light blue gown, the one she had chosen for the party, brushed by her feet, and her mask was a piece that covered the eyes, much like the one women in medieval Europe wore at balls.

She gathered up the gown and went downstairs. Her mother had promised to drive her to the party, where she would meet up with Ouka, Mireille, Fujio, and Maki. The others would come by their own time later.

As she stepped into the den that linked her room to Shugo's, she saw her brother still at his desk, tinkering with his headgear and laptop. He hadn't even bothered to change out of the orange jacket he wore. Rena huffed and turned away to walk downstairs.

"Are you going now?"

Her brother's voice was still strangely calm, but Rena could sense the effort he put into it.


"Oh. Have fun at the party."

Shugo didn't turn around. Rena eyed her brother's back for a moment, before going downstairs.

As her mother drove her to the party, commenting on how beautiful she looked, Rena thought back to the short conversation that had taken place. Her brother had seemed so calm, yet so sad, and had given none of the overprotective statements he would normally have made. Perhaps, it was in apology for not agreeing with her to go to the party.

She got off the car near the entrance and her mother drove away. She wouldn't be returning; for the first time in her fourteen years, Rena was being allowed to go to a party without a curfew, and she was planning to go home with the rest of the gang, using Fujio's car.

She stepped up through the entrance and found herself in a vast, round hall. Rena tried to keep her eyes from bugging out when she saw all the decorations, the circular arrangement of the tables and chairs, and the large center portion that was supposed to be the dance floor.

"Wow. Ouka wasn't kidding when she said this place was great. This is huge."

Careful not to stumble over her own blue gown while looking at the decorations, Rena made her way forward. A man in a black tuxedo greeted her and asked for her ticket before he allowed her to go any further. It was only thanks to Ouka that she had managed to get the ticket. Rena wondered what Shugo had done with his.

"Hey, Rena!"

Speaking of Ouka; Rena turned around to see her friend heading towards her. The teenage brunette was coming towards Rena in a slim, gray, gown of her own. She still wore her glasses instead of a mask, but Rena could see how excited Ouka was even behind those round frames.

"Ouka!" Rena half-ran towards the taller girl and hugged her. "I'm glad to see you. Are you the only one here, yet?"

"Nope." Ouka replied, all smiles. "I brought this kid with me."

"Hey'ya Rena!" a pink-haired girl of about four years wearing a rabbit costume edged around Ouka's skirt. The little girl's smile was reaching from ear to ear, and it seemed the baggy, white-pink rabbit ensemble she wore posted no hindrance to her rapid movement as she squealed greetings at the top of her lungs.

"Mirei-chan, how are you? I hope you're doing well with your tutelage." Rena said, bending down to eye level with the little girl.

"You bet. Ouka says I'm the smartest student she ever had! Right, Ouka?"

Ouka rolled her eyes. "You're the only student I've ever tutored, Mirei."

"Well, I'm sure you're still pretty smart, Mirei." Rena said, though she inwardly wondered how Ouka could keep up with the little genius. For her part, Mirei just beamed.

Ouka decided to butt in at that moment. "Well now that this little hog has gotten her fill of attention, perhaps I should introduce Rena to the new member of the gang."

As she spoke the words, another girl came up beside Ouka. No taller than Rena, the new girl had blonde hair that fell past her waist and was wearing a silk-collared, green gown with a wide skirt. When she spoke, her voice immediately captured Rena's attention.

"Koni-chiwa Rena-san." She said, and bowed low despite the awkwardness of bowing in a gown.

"Hotaru-chan?" Rena's eyes goggled as she took in the sight of the girl she hadn't had the chance to lay eyes on until now. Unlike the rest of the gang, Hotaru had never been able to meet them in real life nor send any pictures of herself. "Is that you?"

"We found her wandering around." Mirei said proudly, as if Hotaru was another rare item she had found. "When Ouka and I saw her, at first we thought that she was just another lost tourist. We were surprised when she introduced who she was."

"Not as surprised as I was to find out to whom I was talking to." Hotaru said, smiling timidly.

The sudden blare of the speakers interrupted their conversation. The voice of the emcee sounded, telling everyone that the program for the party was about to begin.

"Well, let's get some seats before they're taken. Fujio and Maki will be here soon enough." Ouka suggested. The others nodded, and Mirei lead the way to some seats nearest the dance floor, bouncily hopping in her costume. The program opened with a few dances and songs by one student or another but the four girls ignored the performance, choosing to converse in their seats instead.

"So how do you like it here in Japan, Hotaru?" Rena asked the American girl as they ate. Thankfully, they were using spoons and forks; Hotaru wasn't very experienced in chopsticks.

"It's very nice. There's so much more scenery than where I came from, even in the city. I'm also glad to be finally able to meet all of you." Hotaru took a sip from glass of juice before asking her own question. "By the way, is Shugo-san going to come?"

"No." Rena screwed up her face as she contemplated punching her brother for missing out. "I tried to convince him, but he was too stubborn. He's probably still playing with Zephie."

"Oh." Hotaru frowned. "That's too bad. I was looking forward to meet him."

"Aw, don't sweat it Hotaru!" Mirei piped up from between bites of her spaghetti.

"Yeah, we can always visit him at home, right Rena?" Ouka prodded.

"I guess." Rena said disinterestedly, taking a sip from her own glass.

"Well, wherever he is, he's missing out on a lot of things."

The new male voice came from behind Rena, almost causing her to drop her glass. That voice was joined by another voice, this time female.

"Fujio, that wasn't very nice of you. Sorry for disturbing you Rena-san."

"That's okay, Maki." Rena forced out a laugh despite the instinct to cough. She turned around to find the two assistant administrators. Fujio was dressed as an English Detective while Maki was dressed as a 19th century reporter, brown coat and all. Their costumes were almost a matched pair.

"Hmmm? Fujio, Maki, where are your bosses? Don't tell me they didn't come?" Ouka asked the pair.

"Oh, Shibayama-san had duties in CC Corp. She said she wouldn't be able to attend."

"Yeah, and my boss had his own plans." The twitch in Fujio's eye was perceptible to everyone present except Maki who was facing away from him.

"Well, then would you please like to join us?" Hotaru offered.

"I have to freshen up first." Maki said. "The trip here caused my costume to get a bit loose."

She headed off to the ladies room, while Fujio sat down next to Hotaru.

"So can you tell us the real reason why your boss didn't make it?" was Ouka's immediate question.

"Care to guess?" Fujio replied with a bitter undertone. "Apparently, my boss, the almighty "Descendant of Fianna" wanted to try his hand to matchmaking. So when I asked him to help me decide on a costume, he advised me to take this one. Then he told me he couldn't get here because of "private" reasons."

"And?" Mirei joined in.

Fujio rolled his eyes. "Isn't it obvious? Maki's outfit was hand picked by "her" boss, and it turns out that we have a matching pair. They set us up! Those busybodies set Maki and me up! That's the last time I go to him for advice!"

"Does Maki know about that?" Rena asked.

"Thankfully, she has no idea." Fujio took a glass and gulped it down, instead of his normal gentlemanly sip.

"But since you're already here, don't you think it's a good idea to take your date for a dance?" Mirei suggested, with twinkling eyes that clearly hinted at a not-so-hidden motive.

Fujio gave Mirei his own version of incredulity. "Why would I want to take dating advice from a four-year-old treasure hog?"

Of course, this didn't sit well with Mirei. Or with a certain friend of hers. Which is why the next thing Fujio said was a rather loud "Ouch!"

"Nice kick, Ouka." Rena commented, seeing the strike.

"Thanks." Ouka said, showing off a smile that nearly had the same illusion of fangs as her avatar did. "Just because we're not in the game anymore doesn't mean that I didn't learn a few moves from it."

"Now she tells me." Fujio muttered, massaging his leg. As luck would have it, that was when Maki decided to come back.

"Are you alright, Fujio?" she asked. "What happened to your leg?"

"Don't worry. It's nothing." Fujio replied, glaring at Ouka and Mirei. Mirei just stuck her tongue out, and Ouka ignored the glare altogether.

"Be careful, guys, or Fujio might be too injured to dance with Maki." Rena said, struggling to keep her giggling under control. Fujio shot her a betrayed look, while Maki and Hotaru blushed at the implications.

"If the lot of you insist on it!" Fujio declared standing up. Turning to Maki, he bent down on one knee. "Lady Reporter, if you would be so kind as to allow me the honor of this dance?"

Maki blushed even more, while Hotaru, Rena, and Ouka clapped their approval at the display. Not to be outdone, Mirei was cheering them on as loud as she could, her bunny ears flapping as she nearly jumped off her chair. Hesitantly, Maki nodded and Fujio led her by the hand to the dance floor.

"Wow! He can be such a gentleman when he wants to be." Rena commented.

"Yeah." Ouka agreed. Taking a thoughtful look at Rena, she followed with a statement. "What about you? Who are you going to dance with?"

"Rena-chan?! Dance? I would love to dance with Rena-chan!"

"Ack! Komiyama-kun! What are you doing here?" Rena demanded nearly falling off her chair in shock.

For his part, Komiyama was dressed in a red French nobleman's suit, complete with a rapier and a plumed hat. "Bonjour Mademoiselles! May I ask Mademoiselle Rena to a dance?"

Rena glared at him. "No Komiyama, I would not like to dance with you."

Being who he was, Komiyama did not take the not-so-subtle hint. "Ah, you wound me with your words, mademoiselle. But surely you do not mean them, no? Any le petite would love to have a chance to dance with moi."

"Is that so?" Rena said, raising an eyebrow. She turned to the others and asked them. "Do any of you want to dance with him?"

Ouka shook her head. "Nope."

Hotaru bowed hers. "I'm sorry, but no please."

Mirei was bolder in her statement. "Eww! Grouse!

Komiyama's sneer was wiped off his face, but he forced up a smile. He reached out with one gloved hand and grabbed Rena's hand. "Trez bizarre that you would not want to dance with someone like myself. Surely you would reconsider, Rena-chan?"

Rena had to keep biting back on her tongue just to keep from punching Komiyama right then and there. Ouka was already rising from her seat to help when another voice carried to their ears.

"She said she doesn't want to dance with you. Why don't you leave her alone?"

Komiyama's eyes widened and he whirled around on the voice's owner. Rena and the rest of the girls followed his gaze until they saw who had spoken. The newcomer was a young boy dressed as a nobleman, although they could only guess that the costume was European. The entire apparel was dark blue, with a blue cape, black gloves and boots. His eyes were hidden behind the silver mask that he wore. He wore no hat on his sandy-brown hair.

"Shi-shi-shi-shi." Komiyama chuckled. "You idiot, you're shorter than I am. What makes you think that I would follow an order from you?"

The newcomer just stepped closer and issued his own challenge. "Would you like to put the question to the test?"

Komiyama blinked, and his free hand traveled to the hilt of his rapier. The rustle of a chair informed him that Ouka was rising from her seat again. After a short silence, Komiyama let go of Rena's hand, and stomped away from the table in silence.

Rena sighed in relief. "Thanks for the help."

"Your welcome." The stranger replied. "But I would like to ask for a favor in return."

"A favor?" Hotaru pressed. "What kind of favor?"

"Just a dance." The boy replied. When Rena tensed up again, he quickly added. "Just one dance. If you don't want to dance, then I'll go. But I would really be thankful if you let me have this dance."

Rena paused and turned to her friends for advice. Hotaru looked worried but nodded her head in the affirmative. Mirei was already giving her the thumbs up. Rena turned to Ouka. The bespectacled girl looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded slowly.

Rena turned back to the boy who was still waiting patiently. "Oh, alright, but just one dance. And I'll have you know, I'm not all that good at it."

The boy's lips curved in a smile. "Neither am I, honestly."

"Guess that makes us even." Rena said, then she stepped forwards. The boy held out his hand and Rena took it with a bit of hesitation. They walked slowly to the dance floor just as a new song came on.

Sliding her other hand into position, Rena fixed her partner with a quizzical glare. "Now what?"

He shrugged, and placed his other hand at her waist. "Just follow the beat of the song."

Slowly, they began to dance to the slow rhythm. The song was beautiful, but not exactly something that Rena would have expected in a dance. It sounded more like a gentle lullaby. The boy's words interrupted her thoughts.

"I like this song."

"Huh?" Rena looked up at his masked face.

"I said I like this song."

"Oh." Rena thought it over. "It's not bad. Do you know what it's called?"

"I think it's "Emerald Green". Or something like that."

"Sounds nice. Why do you like it?"

"I don't really know. It's just the feeling I get from the song. Like a lullaby for two."

Rena smiled. "I guess."

Gradually, she leaned more into the dance. The song rose to a pitch, but never left its gentle rhythm. As the song continued, Rena found herself resting her head on her partner's shoulder. It wasn't bad at all. Kind of familiar, actually.

"Hey?" she whispered.

"Hmm?" the boy answered.

"What's your name?" she asked.

The boy was quiet for a minute. Just as Rena was about to repeat the question, he gave his own query.

"You're dressed as a princess, right?"

It threw her off for a moment. "Yeah, but what does that have to do with your name?"

"Well, if you're the princess," the boy continued, "then I guess I'm your Prince."

Rena stared at his mask for a moment. Then she laughed.

"That's so stupid."

The boy had the nerve to look sheepish, which caused Rena to add.

"And cheesy, too."

"But it's true, right?" her new Prince was looking at her. Rena wished she could see his eyes, just to have a clue of what he was thinking.

"What? Are my hero now or something?"

His lips curved into a smile again.

"I wish."

She studied him for a moment before she decided. "I guess so. For tonight, anyway."

"That's enough for me."

Just then the song ended. They stopped twirling and Rena found herself looking at his mask again as he looked at her. Or at least she thought he was looking at her.

"The song is over."

"I guess."

She almost felt like she regretted it. Just then, another song came on. He looked up for a moment, and then looked back at her.

"Another dance?"

This time she didn't hesitate.


And they started twirling slowly again. Rena laid her head down again on his shoulder. It still felt familiar. She saw Fujio and Maki dancing and waived to them. They waved back at her. She saw Ouka, Mirei, and Hotaru watching her with a mix of giddy happiness and envy. Once she even saw Komiyama glaring at them. But she just ignored him.

All too soon, the dance ended again.

The boy stepped away from her slowly, supporting her arms from a slight reach.

"I have to go. Thank you for the dance."

Rena nodded. The boy turned around, his blue cape fluttering.


He stopped but didn't look back.

"Who are you? Really?"

He twisted his head just a bit, enough for her to see him smile.

"I'm your hero, your Prince. That's all."

He walked away and disappeared into the crowds. Rena stood there for several minutes, lost in thought. Eventually, she made her way back to their table. Hotaru was the only one there.

"Did you enjoy yourself?" the American girl asked.

"Yeah." Rena answered. She still felt a mite breathless. "Where are Ouka and Mirei?"

"They went to get some drinks for us. They should be back soon."

"I see." Rena sat down, her light blue gown sifting down slowly. Presently, Mirei and Ouka came back with their drinks. Fujio and Maki came by and sat down to rest. They stayed at the party for another hour, but it passed as a blur for Rena.

Later, she stood again at the front porch of her home. She turned back to wave good-bye to the rest of her friends. Fujio and Maki waved back at her and so did Hotaru and Mirei. Ouka was at the driver's seat, and offered a nod.

"Bye-bye, Rena! Say "Hi!" to Shugo for us."

"Good-bye, Rena-san!"

As Ouka's car drove away, Rena turned to head up the stairs. The door closed silently behind her.

As she came up to the den, she was surprised to see her twin brother still up and connected to his computer, still wearing the same orange jacket. She tapped him on the shoulder to signal that she was there.

"Oi!" Shugo exclaimed. He pulled off the headgear and blinked at his sister. "Oh hi, Rena. Did you just get back?"

"Yup." Rena said, feeling a bit of deja vu. "Don't tell me you've just been playing the whole time?"

Shugo shrugged. "It's not like I had anything else to do. What about you? Did you have fun at the party?"

Rena thought a bit before answering. Remembering her dance, she nodded. "Yeah. I had a lot of fun."

Instead of lecturing her or asking for details, Shugo simply smiled.

"Good. I'm glad you had fun."

Rena stared at him for a moment, but then she decided she was too tired to push through with a thorough questioning. A yawn confirmed that thought. Whatever questions had to wait 'till tomorrow. Strangely, she didn't feel mad at Shugo anymore.

"Okay. I'm going to bed now. Don't stay up too late, Onii-chan."

"Don't worry, I won't."

Rena turned to climb up to her room. Once there, she changed into her PJs and promptly fell on her bed. Her dreams consisted of her friends and a familiar boy in a blue costume and cape, with black gloves and boots, and a silver mask.

Back in the den, Shugo finally logged out of "The World". He felt tired as well. Going up to his room, he stopped for a moment in front of Rena's room. A smile lit his face, but he did nothing except to go inside his own room.

Inside, he took off his jacket and hung it in his closet. Then he collapsed on his bed, not even bothering to close the closet door.

"Man, I really feel tired." It had taken a lot of convincing to get Zephie to cover up for him. "But it was worth it."

Feeling very sleepy, he soon drifted off to blissful dreams.

A draft breezed through the room, fluttering the orange jacket in the closet. From one of the inner pockets, something fell out and was carried by the wind to the floor. A moonbeam shining through the window lit up the object.

It was a silver mask.

. . . Author's Notes


Character – IRL Name or Reference

Rena – Rena

Shugo – Shugo

Ouka – Ouka

Mireille – Mirei

Hotaru – Hotaru

Reki – Fujio

Magi – Maki

Komiyan III – Komiyama

Balmung – Fujio's boss, Descendant of Fianna

Kamui – Shibayama, Maki's boss

Don't forget to review. Flames are very welcome.