characters: Ichinose Kaoru (.hack//G.U.), and his mother.
rating: PG.
genre: eidetic. character exploration.
words: 877.
disclaimer: Ichinose Kaoru and the .hack-verse is in no way owned by me. But boy, do I wish.

author's notes: Kaoru (the player behind Elk and Endrance) has always been an extremely intriguing character to me. This little one-shot came about from my profound desire to learn more about his home life, his mental state and the source of his depression, as well as my love of the Silent Hill 2 soundtrack and Endrance's various e-mails. Hope you enjoy. (: Vague hints of Haseo x Endrance, if you squint.

---

He can see the ocean from his window.

Very rarely can he appreciate it, but it's always there. Behind the lenses or through them, it never goes away.

It certainly isn't like Mac Anu's, bound by rules and instruction. It has no lines of code to tell it which wave will crash where, what each one will look like. How long it will take between them. What color to be. Mac Anu's ocean can be perfect, always beautiful, always pristine. Kanagawa's cannot. Because it is not restricted by predictability, or regulations, or any sort of system, Kanagawa's ocean can never be seamless as Mac Anu's.

But sometimes, in the morning, he remembers why he used to love it; what once attracted him to it. When he lies in bed, entangled in a simple white sheet, drifting along the frayed edge that separates sleep from consciousness, he can look out from his window and see, and then he thinks he remembers.

It's always so quiet. Calm. He likes it that way. He likes the way the clouds are pulled like sheets across the sky, thin and flat and blanketing the sun. He likes the way the water is still and smooth, unobtrusive and beautiful. He likes that there are no people strewn across the expanse of sand greyed by dusty light. And he remembers.

Then the people come. Only a few at a time, but they come. An infatuated couple becomes a small group of friends. Then five becomes seven, or eight. Eight becomes eleven. Eleven becomes twenty. All while the sun rises above the sheets of cloud, chasing away the gentle dark and casting harsh light on the water until it becomes too bright to look at, and he closes his eyes beneath heavy disappointment and remembers why he stopped loving the ocean.

---

"Kaoru?"

She has stopped knocking by now; she knows she will never catch him in an indelicate position, because he is always doing the same thing when she comes into his room. She has also stopped expecting any sort of greeting from him, or even a form of acknowledgment, as he no longer bothers doing so much as taking his headset off whenever she brings him food.

She sets it down beside him, as per usual. So early in the morning and he's already delved in that damn computer game. He normally waits to eat first.

She wavers a bit behind him, though she knows what's going to happen when she leaves. It's happened so many times, it runs through her head with very little prompting. He won't eat until she closes the door behind her, and even then, he will pick at it, taking a few bites at the most, and leave the rest until she returns to take the dishes away after she's brought him a fresh meal. Occasionally he will already be asleep when she comes in with dinner. No wonder he is always so emaciated, she thinks. She worries. But she is so tired.

Every day, it happens. She doesn't need to see in order to know. And she sighs, turning slowly to leave him by himself again. She doesn't know what to do with him beyond that.

But today, something feels...different. Off. And she's compelled to stay, silently shifting to turn again, to watch her son as his fingers move away from the keyboard. They twitch slightly. But then his hand raises, and he pushes the headset away from his eyes and onto his forehead, and she can see the way he looks at the food set beside him before he finally turns around to face her.

She had almost forgotten how pretty his eyes were. Had he gotten them from her?

"Thank you for the meal."

And she's so shocked she doesn't know what to say.

---

"... I ate a full meal today."

It takes a moment for the statement to register, but when it does, the surprise is quite evident on Haseo's face as he peers at Endrance almost critically. "Did you? ... Good." His arms are pulled into a tight cross against his chest, a gesture which has become so familiar to him by now that Endrance doesn't need to question the meaning behind it.

He can tell that Haseo does not believe him.

"I did." Endrance smiles vaguely, far beyond being hurt by the boy's distrust in favor of appreciating the worry beneath it. "It was... alright."

"Just alright, eh?" He quite likes Haseo's curious way of touching his face when he's concerned; it manifests itself in various ways, through barely touching his forehead, or rubbing his cheek, and always looking exasperated with good intentions hiding behind sometimes harsh words and crude manners. "But you ate it."

"Yes... I did."

"Well. Good."

And Endrance smiles again.

---

"Mother?"

Kaosu peeks out at her from behind the corner of the wall, anxiety scrawled all across his face. But there he is, just outside the kitchen, out of his room and away from his computer.

His mother is rendered speechless again when he walks up beside her slowly, an empty plate in his hands.

"Kaoru --"

"I brought my plate," he mumbles, his voice airy and soft with disuse, as he delivers the dish to the sink and quickly turns back, retreating back into his room in socked feet.