A/N: Okay, here's a little oneshot from my current obsession, .hack! It's all Kayinay's fault. Anyway, this takes place sometime during the second book (the one from Blackrose's point of view), and it totally disregards the third. Hope you like it! Reviews are appreciated! BlackrosexKite fluff ahead:D


Reflections

I closed my eyes lightly, breathing deeply. For a game, even I had to admit that it was simply breath-taking. My partner and I were lying on the pixilated grass, in the middle of a virtual field, and yet if felt strangely… right. Like we were supposed to be there, like we belonged in the game.

This was a special area, one that Kite had told me about a while back. He said that it was secret to all but the hardcore players who practically lived in the world. Since neither he nor I did that, I wondered where he had learned the three words. Upon bringing it up, he had merely winked at me and said, "I have connections, you know."

I opened my crimson eyes slightly, staring at the programmed cherry blossom tree swaying above me through heavy lashes. Every once in a while, a flower would fall off of the tree and land beside one of us, just to keep the real sense that this area portrayed. There were no dungeons in this area, no monsters to ambush us. Since it was a hidden area, no other PCs strutted about as if they owned the place. No, we were alone, merely enjoying one another's company as we took in the beauty of this online world.

Kite shifted beside me, and I glanced over at him. He smiled softly, watching me with his deep cerulean orbs before turning back to the azure sky. I felt a smile grace my lips as well as my thoughts drifted to my partner. We had been good online friends for about six months now, and we were making a lot of progress in defeating the data bugs and Morganna. My family was still broken, still lost without my younger brother to lighten the mood that recently had fallen so dismal. The only way that I learned to keep my spirits up was to log into The World and make a difference, even a small one.

Unlike my family, I knew what had happened to Kazu. My parents were frantic, and had searched like hound dogs trying to figure out why he had fallen comatose. So had I, although I was searching in a completely different manner. Every night before I went to bed, I prayed that we would defeat Morganna, that the data bugs would vanish and that Kazu would wake up. Every day, as I logged into The World and became Blackrose, I would feel fear rising in my chest at the thought of going up against the thing that had put Kazu in a coma.

And every day, I would look forward to seeing Kite, because he was the only other person who actually knew what I was going through. We've been friends for so long, and he had told me why he was doing what he was doing. I, on the other hand, hadn't been so loyal and trusting. Every time I had tried to tell Kite why I had stuck by his side when most of the others had left, I would clam up, or get interrupted, and promise to finish it at another time. Unfortunatly, that time never came.

Still, even through the unkept promises, Kite remained sincere. He had only once asked me why I was playing the world, or why I continued to follow him in battling the undefeatable. After I had managed to avoid the answer, he hadn't brought it up again. I valued his trust, and tried my hardest to never question his actions, for he had never questioned mine.

When I had first met him, he had been unreliable. I would request to join a party, and he wouldn't show, or he'd leave after meeting up with me. Now, though, all I had to do was get online, and he would send a party request for me. Lately, I couldn't log into The World without seeing Kite and teaming up. Not that it was a bad thing, as I strongly valued his company. Whenever he was fighting by my side, I felt like I could do anything.

I think that's why I don't have the courage to tell him about Kazu. I don't want him, of all people, to look at me with a different expression on his face. I couldn't bear it if he treated me differently because it was my fault Kazu had fallen comatose. I was barely able to keep going on with my life because he was helping me along, and if he suddenly stopped…

I sighed, trying to let out my guilt and depression. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and the guilt continued to reside in my heart, like a black spot growing over me emotionally. I had noticed that it had been making me distant with my friends and even my family, like it was slowly consuming me.

"Blackrose?"

I snapped back to reality, sitting up and plastering a smile on my face, "Yeah, Kite?"

Kite sat up as well, facing me. His face was calm, but his eyes revealed more than they normally did, showing me concern and worry, "Are you okay? You're really quiet."

"So are you," I pointed out, trying to shake all the dismal thoughts from my mind.

He cocked his head, "Yes, but I'm always quiet. You're the one who's usually making a conversation."

"Uh huh," I raised an eyebrow, glaring at him, "And what's that supposed to mean?"

Kite continued to watch me, unfazed. That was another thing about him; when other people would run because of my temper, he stood by and continued pressing the issue at hand. He hadn't once backed down when something ticked me off, "Is there something you want to talk about, Blackrose?"

I opened my mouth to reply, but then I saw his character's serious expression. It made me wonder about the player behind Kite, the person in the real world. Was he anything like my partner, or was that just a personality he took on in the name of role-playing?

"Blackrose?" he waited for an answer. I played with my hair, something that I did in real life when I was unsure of how to respond.

"I'm fine," I tried to sound convincing, but my subconscious was screaming. I quite obviously was not fine, but Kite didn't have to know that. He had enough on his plate without my problems too.

I could tell by his scowl that he didn't believe me one bit, "And I'm not stupid. Something's bothering you, and if you don't tell me…" he paused, thinking of a threat, "I'll disband the party and leave right now."

It was an empty warning, but in some strange way I felt honored that he would make up a threat to get me to talk to him. I hesitated, then looked at the ground. The grass swayed in the virtual wind, though it was devoid of insects as normal grass would be full of, "I have a lot of things to deal with right now, that's all…"

Kite stayed silent, waiting for me to expand on this statement. After a moment, I complied, the words coming out in a rush, "My brother is the whole reason I started playing The World. He explained some stuff to me, and then let me pick three keywords to send him to a new area. I picked 'Hidden, Forbidden, Holy Ground'. And, like the good kid he always was, he went there. I left, and when I came back, he had fallen into a coma…" Tears that hadn't fallen in so long began to stream down my face. My FMD, a rather new model, picked up the emotion and my avatar began to cry as well. I silently cursed the newest version of The World, the one where emotions such as this could be picked up and portrayed inside the game.

My partner's cerulean eyes softened, and he leaned forward to wipe the tears off my face, "You're in the same place as me," he said softly, "You're not alone."

I broke away from his hand, looking to the left in anger and misery, "No, because you didn't send your brother into a coma. My parents are stricken with grief, and the household's been disrupted because of my stupid choice of words! It's my fault that Kazu's in the state he's in, and it'll be my fault if he never wakes up!" I practically screamed at him. My vision blurred behind my FMD, and I sniffled pathetically.

Kite regarded me silently as I continued to cry. I desperately tried to stop my sobs, but that failed quite quickly. The World dissolved around me, and I didn't notice what Kite was doing until he spoke. I wiped my eyes and stared through my FMD as the area came into focus again. I was shocked to see that Kite's avatar had his arm wrapped around mine, and he was hugging me close for comfort.

"You're not alone," he repeated in a firm voice, "and it's not your fault that your brother is in a coma. It was bad luck, or maybe fate, but not you. We're definitely going to beat Morganna, and then Orca and your brother will wake up."

I couldn't believe him. It wasn't going to be that easy, and I knew it, "How can you be so sure? We're kids, Kite! I'm only sixteen, I don't want all this pressure!"

"So? I'm only fourteen, Blackrose!" Kite shot back, "How do you think I feel? Everyone expects me to do something great, but you're right. I'm still just a kid, and saving The World isn't something that I wanted to do!"

I was speechless. Kite had never told me how old he was, and now that he had, I was ashamed. Here I was, the older one of the two, crying like a baby, looking to a junior high kid for comfort! "Kite…"

"Don't think that it never crossed my mind that it's my fault Orca's in a coma! Every morning I wake up with that remorse and guilt over my head, and there's nothing I can say that can get it out of my head!" Kite's voice fell, "My best friend, your brother, they're both the same. Something evil got them this way, and it's our duty to get them back. I can't… I won't let myself stop due to fear, not when it's my fault that my best friend's comatose."

I opened my mouth to respond, but no words came out. Finally, I managed to speak, "Orca… There was nothing you could have done, Kite. You know that…" my voice trembled.

Kite punched the ground, refusing to meet my eye, "You know that, and I do too, but that doesn't stop the guilt. It's the same for both of us, Blackrose. If I had known what we would have encountered… I could have stopped him…"

"You couldn't have known," I reminded him, "Neither could I. This happened for a reason, and now that we've started, we've got no choice but to finish. You said so yourself that we're going to see this through!"

Kite glanced at me and gave a shaky smile, "Yeah."

"So we're in this together, right?" I typed a command, and my avatar grinned. Kite responded by nodding.

"Right," his voice was steadily growing stronger. I felt better, drying the last of my tears.

"So, you wanna keep looking, or do you want to stop for today?"

Kite glanced around, "Let's enjoy this area a bit more. The World can wait for one day."

I felt relieved as I nodded in agreement; "Sure," we both lay back down, silent once more. I spoke up after a moment, "You know, after this is all over, we should meet in real life. I'll bet we'd have a lot of fun."

A smile formed on Kite's lips, "Cool. I know this quaint place down the street from my school that has great doughnuts."

"I love doughnuts," I told him, "Please tell me you aren't this fat kid with no life outside of The World, Kite."

Kite laughed, "As long as you don't tell me you're a chubby girl who wears tight tops because you think you look good in them."

I scoffed, "I'm a tennis player. I'm anything but chubby."

"Really? What a relief," Kite said mockingly. I scowled.

"Shut it, fatso."

We spent the rest of the afternoon exchanging witty comments and occasionally playfully fighting. It felt good to get a break from the tension that we normally had when playing, and I wished that it would never end. However, all things end, so when Kite logged off for dinner, I took one last look around the area that had caused me to experience so much emotion and grinned.

Despite the rough spots, I knew now that we could defeat anything that came our way. Kazu would be proud to call me his sister when he was revived from his coma. Kite and I would be legends, and people would think of us as invincible. Of course, that was a long ways off, but it never hurt to dream.

All in all, today was a pretty good day.


A/N: Well, what'd you think? Tell me in a review:) Sorry that got a bit depressing, but I suppose self-doubt fics are quite common on this fandom, correct? Well, I hoped you enjoyed it. Thanks for reviewing! (hint hint)

fornwalt