Story Two:

.Hack:

Giving To Receive

Though They Were Both Short On Cash,

He Sold His Watch To By A Sash,

For Her Pretty Flaxen Hair,

But She Cut and Sold It, To The Contraire

To Buy A Beautiful New Band

For The Watch No Longer On His Hand

Shugo watched the chibi-ized avatar of Kite sprint through the snowy landscape. Mashing on the X-button, whilst hitting the directional pad on the wireless controller, he caused the red-clothed avatar to go into a large array of spinning moves, taking out countless small snow monsters with his twin daggers. The new Flash 3 operating system was flawless and allowed smoother game play as well as enhanced the beautiful graphics; it was like Shugo was actually there, feeling the cold wind howl onto his squinted eyes and he fought with no mercy against the red-eyed beasts.

After he did so, he moved through a large skull head frosted with snow and began his expedition into the dungeon. The raven-tressed youth raised his goggles up off of his head to check the hastily written instructions through the dungeon Ouka- or Mitsune as her real name was- had given him the last time they went out for coffee. Though it was technically cheating, he didn't have the time to wonder aimlessly; it was a busy time of year and the object of interest was growing closer every room he passed.

Ten minutes later, Shugo entered the heart of the dungeon and walked straight up to the large treasure chest in the center of the room. He set down his controller momentarily to greedily rub his hands together before retrieving the object; a new set of blades. Shugo quickly used a fairy to transport him out of the cave, and portaled back to Mac-Anu where Mireille was waiting at her not-so-secret hideout.

As always, the rabbit-like rare hunter was going over her inventory with Zeffie. As soon as the flaxen-tressed AI spotted her "Big Brother" with icy azure eyes, she raced towards him with open arms. Shugo sighed and gave her a soft pat on the head. He had always thought that the AI would leave him and his friends as soon as she was reunited with Aura, her mother; but it seemed that they "Wouldn't get rid of her that easily" as Zeffie has told Rena when she announced that she was staying. Though somewhat annoying, Shugo couldn't help but love her, and she always did come in handy when it came to breaking a few rules every now and then…

"Hey, kiddo." Shugo greeted the AI before playfully ruffling her blonde hair, "Hey, Mireille; I got those blades you were talking about, care to give them a once-over."

"Sure." Nodded the girl in white garb. She held out a hand and impatiently snapped as Sugo handed her the blades. They were a bit logner than the ones he currently held with jagged edges and jewel-encrusted wooden grips. Mireille inspected them closely before closing her pink eyes and sighing sadly, "Not as good as I would've thought, but they're a higher level than the ones you have."

Shugo looked to the blades secured at his hips. They were short, pointed, and had golden grips laced with rubies. "I think I'll sell the new ones… Rena gave me these."

Mereille shrugged, "Suit yourself." The girl reached out and plucked up a rubber chiken. What purpose a rubber chicken would have in The World, I do not know.

Shugo sat down next to Mireille and sighed, removing the green cap upon his head and looked to Mireille, "Is Rena over at your place?"

"Nope, not yet." The pink-tressed girl said as she studied the rubber chicken closely. Since Mireille was so young (actually only five years old- Shugo had discovered this when the girl had given him her phone number about a year ago during a crisis in The World), she required a babysitter, and the girl had begged and begged her mother to let Rena take care of her; so every now and then, Shugo's "Little Sister" (when they were really ferternal twins) went over to take care of the child genious when her mother was out. Shugo sighed and looked to Mireille.

"What do you think she would like for Christmas?" He inquired. Shugo had been trying to figure out what he should buy his beloved sister for the holliday for a good two weeks at that point, and still, nothing at occurred to him.

"A Dolphie?" Mireille quipped in suggestion.

"That's what you want, Mireille-chan." Shugo grumbled as a drop of sweat rolled down the side of his head.

"You don't have to buy her anything." The once-silent Zeffie finally spoke as she ratted through Mireille's pile of various "rare" things, "She probably won't get you anything. That Ganguro probably wasted all her money on make-up."

"Hey, Zeph. Rena isn't a Ganguro, okay." Shugo attempted to explain to the flaxen-tressed child for what seemed to be (and probably was) the thousanth time.

"So is she Lolita?" Zephie retorted. Shugo semi-facefaulted to one side as Mireille snorted jovially.

"The problem is," Began Shugo sheepishly, "She's a girl, and I don't know what to get her. I usually get her a gift-card but…" He sighed softly, "I wanted to get her something special this year."

"Why not ask your girlfriend?" Zeffie suggested. Shugo blanced and neary dropped his controller.

"Ouka- K- Mitsune and I-! We're not! She's not-!" Shugo struggled for words as he fidgeted around. Zeffie smirked triumphantly; how the little AI loved to push others' buttons…

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

As soon as she heard the doorbell ring, Mireille bid googbye to Shugo and Zeffie and logged out, resuming her identity as Mirei Chibia. Just as the five-year old was taking off her VA goggles, Rena walked into the room. Standing next to the girl with the dark brown tresses was Usagi Chibia, known as Mistral in her gaming days. The woman with the golden tresses secured into twin buns on either side of her head floated over to Mirei.

"Chibi-Usa." She cooed, using a nickname that Mirei had been rewarded after being dubbed a clone of her mother, "I want you to be good for Rena-chan, ne?"

"Hai, Mama." Chibi-Usa nodded, her auburn eyes twinkling with understanding.

"I'll be back around four-thirty." Usagi turned to Rena, "If anything happens, just give me a call on my cell."

"Okay!" The teen smiled and Usagi turned to kiss Chibi-Usa on the cheek before daparting.

"So, Mereill- Chiba-Usa." Rena quickly corrected herself as she crossed the room and sat down on Chibi-Usa's bed. The girl with the bizarre pink tresses pulled into twin cone buns walked over to the bed and crawled up on Rena's lap, "What do you want to do today?"

"Eto…" The five-year-old pondered softly, "I was thinking…" The girl trailed off and looked back to Rena, "Onee-chan, what do you want for Christmas?"

The girl blinked, surprised by the younger girl's question, "Well, I dunno. I asked my mom for stuff already, but I didn't want to ask for too much. My parents are split up, you see, so-"

"But if you had to ask for anything, what would it be?" The pink-tressed girl pressed.

"Um… a date with Orlando Bloom? To sing on stage with Hikki?" Rena giggled and ran a hand through her dark brown hair, Chibi-Usa glared at her, wanting a serious answer, "Oh, I dunno. Probably this kawaii pair of shoes I saw that go along with the dress I bought for the Christmas dance."

"What do they look like?" Chibi-Usa quipped, Rena smiled.

"Well, they're pink with rinestone cords that wrap around my legs and high-heeled, the insides are a pretty, darker shade of pink made out of silk." She explained, "Here, I can get online and show you a picture."

Merei beamed at Rena as she toggled the mouse and the screen jumped to life. Clicking on the internet icon, Rena brought up the home page- Google and typed in the name of the department store where she had seen them. After a bit of searching, she pulled up the picture of the shoes.

"But look how expensive they are!" Rena then pointed to the price of the shoes listed next to a small box, which asked for the quantity needed. Ten thousand yens (It was almost the equivilant to one-hundred American dollars).

"Wo-ow." Said the child, shaking her head at the price, "Can I see what your dress looks like, Nee-chan?"

Rena smiled warmly at Chibi-Usa and ruffled her hair before doing another short search and pulling up a picture of the dress. It was a pale pink color, the same as the shoes, and strapless with gathered fabric at the bust. The front of the dress stopped just above the knees and went into an inverted v-cut, allowing the inside of the back (which trailed to the ancles) to be seen, which was a dark red color.

"You're right, they do match!" The rabbit-like child commented. Now that she had the link for the shoes, all she had to do was get rid of Rena…

"Nee-chan… its lunch time…" The girl moaned, placing her head on the fifteen-year-old's shoulder and looking to her with large, auburn orbs full of pleading.

"I catch your drift." Rena nodded, "What do you want to eat?"

"Mac N' Cheese?" The girl grinned, the dark-tressed teen beamed in reply.

"Just what I was thinkin'. Be right back." As soon as Rena had left the room, Chibi-Usa leapt onto the computer and opened the link with the shoes on it, and quickly copied it. Pulling up her e-mail, she adressed a message to Shugo.

To: Shugo

From: Mereille

Shugo-

Nyaaaa! Rena-chan came over and showed me the link with the shoes on it:D You may now worship me. But lemme tell you, these shoes aren't cheap…

-Mereille

(Link Attached)

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Shugo!" The ebony tressed youth's head snapped to the place where he had been called Ouka- or Mitsune as her real name was, called Kitsune by her friends- was sitting at a small booth with a pleasant look on her face. It was slightly shocking how different from her online counterpart Kitsune was; they held a mild physical resemblance with her short-cut dusty brown hair and height, but personality-wise, Kitsune was relatively calmer and more fun-loving… yet her love of pranks did show through as Ouka, most notably the time she'd let Shugo think she was a dog… the ironic thing was that Kitsune's nick-name meant "Fox" and Ouka was supposedly a wolf.

"Hey Kitsune." Shugo greeted the elder girl, noting with lightly pink-tinged cheeks the v-cut cranberry-colored sweater she'd opted to wear; the fifteen-year-old reluctantly plopped down across from her as Kitsune rested her chin on laced fingers, a grin pulling at her lips.

"You like?" She quipped. Shugo didn't even have to ask what. She'd caught him staring. Again.

The boy nodded, still blushing. Kitsune chuckled jovially and reached out to caress his face with a caliced hand.

"Good. I wore it just for you." Kitsune beamed, her eyes closed and cheerful as they always were. She laughed loudly at the wide-eyed expression on Shugo's beet-red face, "Awe… you're so horny, its adorable."

"I'm not-!" Shugo began to stand up, placing his hands on the table.

"You're a boy, you're fifteen; you're a walking sack of hormones and dirty thoughts." Kitsune reached out and patted her hands, cocking her head to one side as Shugo calmed and sat down, running a hand through his short tresses, "Now what did you want to see me about?"

"Its about Rena." Admitted Shugo, blinking his beetle-black eyes nervously as he removed a piece of folded-paper from his pocket and handed it to Kitsune.

"Ora?" She received the paper and opened it up, her pale brown eyes scanning the paper, "Shoes? Don't tell me you put on Rena's clothes and a blonde wig and danced around singing that song 'Shoes' all day, and these happen to be 'Three-Hundred Effin' Dollars'?"

"NO!" Said the fifteen-year old, blushing once more at the pop-culture reference. Next thing he knew, Kitsune would be chatting about unicorns going on an adventure, "I want to buy them for Rena's Christmas gift!"

"Eto… ten-thousand yen? That's a bit pricey…" Kitsune frowned, scratching her chin; "You aren't asking me for money, are you?"

"No." Shugo shook his head so that his ebony tresses trembled, "I wanted to know if you knew a way I could buy these by Christmas-" Kitsune opened her mouth, "-Without betting on horse races." Shugo frowned.

"Welllll, I can't help 'ya there." Kitsune frowned; betting on horse races was her number one way of making money…, "But, have you ever considered selling something for the money?"

"Ora?" Shugo glanced up into Kitsune's pale eyes as she stared at him intently.

"A few things here and there that you don't really need, 'ya know?" She began, "Clean out your closet, Shugo. Just don't stay in there."

The boy rolled his dark eyes at Kitsune, "Bitch."

"Awe, I love you, too, Shugo!" She beamed in reply.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Rena glanced out of the window of her classroom, running a hand through her dark brown tresses as she blinked violet eyes in worry. The girl fidgeted her legs and twisted her hands in circles around themselves, as her teacher seemed to blather her on into an early grave. After what seemed like an eternity, but really only five minutes, the bell rang and Rena stood to leave; as she was walking out the door, she felt someone poke her lightly on the shoulder.

"Rena-chan? Daijoubu?" The androgynous teen with the abnormally pale hair inquired as they walked in step. Rena smiled faintly at Momiji Sohma as the two walked in step; he was a very kind young boy and seemed to have an uncanny ability to sense when something was the matter with one of his classmates.

"Well, it's about my brother." She admitted sheepishly, brushing dark brown tresses behind one ear before they fell back into place several seconds later, "More specifically his Christmas gift… first of all, I'm running short on money… second of all, I have no clue what to get him!"

"Candy!" Momiji squealed, his face alight with cheer, "Everyone loves Christmas candy!"

"Actually, Momiji-kun, I wanted to get him something a bit… special." Said the girl as they exited the building.

"Oh?" The towhead cocked his head to one side, "Um… what is he interested in?"

"The World." Rena explained with a small nod.

"OH! I have an account on that game!" Squealed the rabbit-like youth as he hopped on one foot in a bout of energy, "Maybe you can get him some cool accessory! I saw a new controller headset package for sale at Game Luvverzz this weekend! Blue Tooth™ Wireless technology able to be played up to fifty feet away from the console; he can play The World while in bed! The some goes for the headset with lightweight technology and a thin screen made with a new plasma material that isn't as harmful on the eyes with HD quality! It only hooks up to the new Flash 3 system, though."

Rena blinked, about to ask where Momiji had learned all that; but knowing him, he'd probably read the description in the store until he'd memorized it, "I dunno… it sounds a tad… pricey."

"Yeah." Frowned the frosted-pineapple tressed boy, "Twenty thousand yens." This was the same as two hundred American dollars.

"Dang!" Rena gasped, her violet eyes wide, "You used to be able to buy two PS2's for that price!"

"That was all the way back in '06! Its 2015 now!" Giggled the boy with a small grin, "And what're you talking about PS2's for? You could get a PS3 for that price nowadays!"

"I suppose…" Rena mused softly, "But where am I gonna get the money for that?"

"You could always do some closet-cleaning." Momiji shrugged, "Get rid of some old clothes and stuff you don't need… that'd give you quite a bit of money."

Rena frowned and rocked awkwardly from her right foot to her left, "I guess…" She admitted, "But I could never get that much money just from my old stuff!"

"Hmm, just try, Rena-chan." The two came to a halt at the bus stop, where Momiji would get on and Rena would walk the remainder of the way. Momiji placed his hands on her shoulders, "I'm sure you'll find a way."

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Bleh!" Shugo winced and tossed the corn-chip scented sock over his shoulder and began to rat through his closet once more, "Who would want any of my old crap anyway?!" He came across many strange things, including his dad's ancient, barely functioning Nintendo Wii and an equally ancient Final Fantasy XII; who would want any of that old crap?! Sure, the Final Fantasy XII graphics were equal to that of The World and the Wii was relatively fun, but after Square Enix had learned to stock its past Final Fantasies better, it was worth even less as the old PS2 model and the Wii was powerless to its third successor the Yuu behind the Mii and the Uss.

"I don't have anything that's worth that much that I can sell!" Shugo spat, throwing various anime DVDs and videogames over his shoulder. "What the hell is a Super Nintendo?!" He screamed at a massive cartage before throwing it onto his bed and giving up. "There's nothing…" He grumbled, and stood, finally waltzing over to his computer… where the new Flash 3 version of his Altimit OS was laying. A frown graced Shugo's face as he reached out and brushed the warm system with his hand.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Ewwe!" Rena's hand flicked away and old gym sock with a particularly nasty scent to it and proceeded to dig through one of the storage bins in her neatly organized closet, "Who would want to buy my old junk, anyway?" Rena had come across many things, including a pair of her mom's old Ugg boots and a Utada Hikaru CD. Who would want either of those? Obviously, Hikki was talented beyond almost any singer and Rena worshiped the ground she walked on, but CD players weren't very common that day and age and nobody would be interested in that. The Ugg boots were awesome, by all standards, but considering their age and the new Gothic Lolita rage, they were nothing but a speak of tan in a sea of black.

"I don't have anything worth twenty thousand yens that I could possibly sell!" Rena sighed exasperatedly, tossing various old clothing articles and toys over her shoulder, "What the heck is a Video Cassette?!" She cried at a large, black box before tossing it onto her futon and throwing in the flag. "There's nothing…" She sighed dejectedly before standing up. As she did, something soft brushed her face. It was her dress for the Christmas dance. A frown graced her placid features as she reached out and stroked the soft pink fabric.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Are you sure you wanna do this, buddy? I mean, the Flash 3 is state-of-the-art!" The pimply computer nerd working at the Game Luvverzz store exclaimed as Shugo winced.

"Yeah, I'm just gonna trade it in for the Flash 2." The raven-tressed youth nodded. The pimply nerd sighed.

"Your funeral, buddy." He shrugged, and handed Shugo the money, as well as the older system packaged in a pale yellow box. The fifteen-year-old thanked him and started towards the clothing store.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Are you sure, hun? I mean, this dress was a complete steal!" The faux blonde cashier at the clothing store gasped. Rena sighed sadly.

"Yeah, I'll come back and get a new dress another time." She nodded mournfully. The cashier gave a tiny sigh.

"Well, okay." The blonde cashier shrugged and placed the money in Rena's hand. The girl thanked the cashier and placed the money in the safety of her purse before heading towards the Game Luvverzz.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

"Merry Christmas everyone!" Chibi-Usa squeaked cheerfully as she walked into Shugo's apartment, accompanied by Kitsune.

"Merry Christmas." Kitsune beamed cheerfully as she accepted a hug from Rena.

"Hi! How are you?" Rena asked her friends as she released Kitsune and gave Chibi-Usa a quick hug.

"Great! Ouka-Nee-San and me brought our laptops so that we can all play together! Do you have your all set up?" Chibi-Usa quipped, holding out the sleek silver computer topped with her headset and controller.

"I'm Kitsune in real life, Mirei." Kitsune explained. Chibi-Usa made a face.

"And in real life they call me Chibi-Usa." She scowled. Kitsune giggled and patted the girl on her pink head.

"Now where is that horny devil you call Shugo?" Kitsune asked, glancing around, this was accompanied by a racy comment to which Chibi-Usa blinked in confusion and Rena shrieked out in embarrassment.

"OUKA!" Rena screamed, pulling at her dark tresses, in the shock of the moment, she had forgotten to call her by Kitsune, "HE'S MY BROTHER! DON'T SAY THAT INFRONT OF ME!"

"I don't get it." Chibi-Usa frowned; blinking her auburn orbs in confusion several more times; she then inquired about Kitsune's previous statement.

"GAH!" Rena turned bright red, "NOW YOU HAVE DIRTIED MIREI'S MIND! YOU FEIND!"

"Dirtied it with what?" Shugo inquired as he walked into the room, dressed in a green hoodie and a pair of gray sweatpants.

"Oh, Shugo!" Kitsune beamed, plodding over to the teenager and draping herself over him, "We were just talking about you!"

"Am I missing something?" Asked Shugo suspiciously as Rena, still bright red, pursed her lips and refused to talk.

"Nothing." Kitsune hissed into his ear, her light brown eyes misted with emotion, "I was just mentioning how you were preparing for my arrival."

"GAHHHHH!" Rena screamed again, slamming her hands over her ears, "I'M NOT LISTENING! LALALALA!"

"I still don't get it." Chibi-Usa frowned, and then smirked, "Its something dirty, isn't it?"

"Uhh…" Shugo blushed as Kitsune giggled, "What were you talking about?"

"Don't pay attention to them." Smiled the girl with the dusty-brunette tresses.

"O-kay…" Shugo said slowly, slipping out of Kitsune's arms, "We should get online; Hotaru and Zeffie should be waiting for us. I want to give Zeffie her gift; I got her this cool set of bracelets at a special event a couple of weeks ago- oh! That reminds me!" The teen's eyes widened and he dashed back into his room, coming out with a gift wrapped in shimmering pink paper, "This is for you, Rena."

The girl smiled warmly and nodded before picking up her own gift, this one wrapped in red, "And I got this for you."

The twins stared at the gift in the other's arm before hastily switching and peeling open their gifts. Rena's face dimmed as she spotted the shoes box and slowly opened it, just as Shugo's beaming smile fizzled away to see the new controller-headset combo.

"Rena…" Shugo began slowly, "This… this only works for the Flash 3 version of the OS."

"You have that version don't you?" Rena looked to him with wondering eyes.

"I- I used to." Shugo frowned, "I… I actually traded it in for a Flash 2 so I could buy your shoes to go along with your dress."

"Onii-chan…" Rena began, "I… Well, I returned the dress so that I could buy you the controller and headset."

The two stood and looked down at their now-useless gifts with dim eyes and sheer frowns.

"Awe… there, there." Kitsune soothed as she reached out to pat their shoulders in unison, "It isn't too bad, now is it? Rena, you can always get a new dress to match the shoes that was even cheaper than the first, and probably even prettier! And Shugo, with all the Christmas and New Years money you get this year, you can always save up for the Flash 3 model again, ne?"

"Yeah, its just…" Shugo looked down at the present with a wry expression, "Ironic; isn't it?"

"So?" Chibi-Usa shrugged, "It just goes to prove that you two love each other enough to give up some of your most prized possessions."

"I guess…" Rena frowned, and then looked to her 'elder brother' her violet eyes twinkling softly as a tiny smile found its way to her lips, "Thanks… Onii-chan. This is really special to me."

Shugo returned the smile, his own beetle-black orbs coruscating with the same sort of sad cheer, "This is special to me, too, Rena. Thanks."

"AWE!" Cried the dusty-tressed eighteen-year-old as she reached out and pulled the twins into a giant hug; Chibi-Usa smiled and wrapped her spread around Shugo and Rena's waists for good measure, "Isn't this just PRICELESS?" A wicked smirk formed on her face, "Oh, and Shugo… my Christmas gift will make up for all of this…"

"What do you…?" The boy began, but he was cut short as Kitsune draped her body over his shoulders, her soft breasts pressing suggestively against his back. The boy blanched and froze in place as Rena scowled and growled his name warningly.

"I got us reservations at a love hotel, Koishii!" Kitsune squealed, pink breaking out on her cheeks as she rubbed her cheek against Shugo's.

"Kistuuuuuuuuune!" Shugo wailed in embarrassment, "Don't tease me like that!!!"

"What, you think I'm teasing?" Smirked the young woman as she promptly whipped out a formal reservation. Shugo's face remained normal; caught between blushing furiously and becoming as white as a ghost.

After Rena hit the raven-tressed youth upside the head about several dozen times, the four friends exchanged the remainder of their Christmas gifts. Shugo supplied Kitsune with a collar-like choker and a bright blush and a Hello Kitty backpack for Chibi-Usa; Rena gave the young girl a gift-card to the book store and something she wouldn't let either Shugo or Chibi-Usa see for Kitsune (it turned out to be a Kingdom Hearts yaoi doushinji); the small girl known as Mirielle in the online world gave Rena a book on American desserts and Shugo an Inuyasha art-book, Kitsune's gift was the seventh Harry Potter book, which she had neglected to read since its debut in 2008. Kitsune then exchanged her Christmas gift with Rena that, once again, Shugo was not allowed to see (more yaoi doushinji) and rewarded Chibi-Usa with a Tokyo Mew Mew A La Mode manga.

"I can't believe you really made reservations…" Shugo grumbled to Kitsune as he slipped on his headset. Moments later, he was logged in, and Ouka the werewolf's avatar was already smirking at him.

"You ARE coming with me, right?" Pressed the pepper-tressed wolf seductively as she tickled Shugo's chin. The avatar with the azure tresses blushed furiously.

"Over my dead body!" The chibi avatar of BlackRose cried as Rena stomped her foot irately. The avatar violently tossed her neck as Shugo heard Rena actually crack it beside him; the raven-tressed boy gave an involuntary shudder.

"Nyaahaaa!" Mirielle giggled as she spun around in circles, her rabbit-eared hat flopping, "Look! It's snowing! Isn't this R-A-R-E?"

The three other players stopped momentarily in their bickering to observe the graphics of the white snow slowly fluttering from the sky.

"Oh! Minnah-san! Over here!" A thickly accented voice cried, and the small group turned to see Hotaru, clutching her pale green Grunty to her chest, "Gomen nasai… it early where Hotaru live. Only seven in morning!"

"Hey Hotaru-chan!" Rena beamed, "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Rena-chan!" The foreigner beamed at her friends and bowed respectively, "And all of you, too."

"It is a Merry Christmas." Shugo beamed around at his friends as he looked down to see Zeffie clutching to his arm, the girl pouting up at him.

"Why did you have to bring the lolita?" The towhead inquired sourly.

"YOU TOLD HER I WAS LOLITA?!" Screamed Rena at the top of her lungs, garnet orbs flashing with fire.

"NO! I- I- NOOOOO! REEEEEEEEENAAAAAAAAA!"