Written for a friend of mine who wanted to see more Azure Kite and Haseo luv. I know next to nothing about .hack, so I had to look up and learn about the games and anime JUST so I could write this. …heh… So, obviously… don't expect much from this.

Disclaimer: I do not own .hack! So sad…

It was early afternoon, Sunday, and even though he had tests to be studying for the next day, a certain brunette wasn't doing what he was supposed to.

In his room, seated in front of his computer, Ryou stared silently at the bright monitor, the expression covering his face tense and the weight of the electronic headset settled piercingly in his lap. Its presence was unexpectedly substantial in his mind, as the young man idly tapped his finger against the wireless mouse beneath his palm. Indecision swam through his mind like a stain upon his conscious as Ryou Misaki, one of the most gifted and experienced players of 'The World', stared unsurely at the log in screen of his online account.

'…you haven't logged on in four days now. You've already gotten phone calls from them about it.' He reminded himself, as his lungs drew in a deep breath. Exhaling a moment later, Ryou closed his eyes in resignation and leaned forward in his chair to the extent that his forehead touched against the computer screen. 'You should at least log in for a few minuets and let everyone know that you're alright. If he does show up, then you can either leave the area or simply log back out. It's not like he'll come through the computer screen and jump on you if you leave.' He concluded, and- before he could convince himself to do otherwise- guided the cursor to the log in button and clicked.

A second later and Ryou, realizing what he'd done, grimaced.

"…This had better be worth it…" He muttered to himself, as he watched his computer change its display to the familiar loading screen of The World.

In the open field of a pleasantly simulated warm summer afternoon, the black armored, white haired form of Haseo materialized from under the shade of an otherwise inconspicuous tree. The appearance of the player gained no turned heads or acknowledgement- though not because his fame was any less renown, and more simply because there was no one else nearby to notice him.

Immediately feeling thankful for this, Haseo accessed his list of member's addresses and assessed who was currently online at the moment. The result was less then what he'd hoped for.

'Oh for the love of…' He muttered to himself, eyes narrowing in annoyance when he realized that the very people he had logged in to assure of his well being weren't actually online. Even the trio of AIs that he had… acquainted himself with had listed themselves as currently unavailable, despite the fact that- being a part of The World itself- they would technically always be present at any given time.

'And if it weren't for the fact that their messaging systems always corrupt their frigging text messages, I might actually be able to consider asking them to pass on the message…' He grouched inwardly, crossing his arms and stalking out from underneath the tree in typical fashion. 'This is already turning out to be just a big waste of my time, isn't it?'

Casting his gaze over the surroundings, the grudging conclusion that came to him was that he had two rather unappealing options at this point; one, he could walk around in the towns for a while and let other players see him, which would probably get passed around in something akin to the manner of a celebrity sighting, or, two… log out and try again later. Maybe during a heavy traffic period. It would at least improve his chances of logging on at the same time one of the others was around, too.

'I could also just try to enjoy playing The World again for once…' He reminded himself, his feet stopping in place as he drew within sight of the gate portal into the nearest town. There were a few players loitering around the portal, but he didn't feel any inclination to walk up and make his presence known. '…I haven't actually taken the time to train or do a dungeon run in weeks, really…' A look of consideration passed over his face now, and Haseo straightened his posture from its usual slouch so that he could peer thoughtfully over his shoulder, in the direction of the distant dungeons located on the other end of the field.

"…heh, I'm probably so out of the loop right now…" He spoke aloud, shaking his head in some form of dry amusement. He didn't even know if there were any events going on right now, let alone what everyone else was doing. Still, spending the afternoon on The World and actually enjoying himself was far more appealing then sitting hunched over a school book studying for a test.

"Ah." He looked down at himself now, taking in the sight of his developed form. "…but of course I'm going to need someone else to group with anyway so I can even do anything without being bored or struggling too much the entire time." He mused unhappily, acknowledging his disadvantage to being such a high level character.

Unless he decided to simply fool around in one of the lower areas. …but that wasn't even worth his damned time, as far as he was concerned. He supposed that Skeith was an alterative option, but the thought of using his Avatar for something like small game hunting was… rather ego deflating…

"Hn." Haseo closed his eyes in sudden disgust, feeling almost disappointed. "This is stupid." He managed to mutter out, before- as if by some sick turn of events- the status of a certain AI switched from busy to available. Haseo's eyes flicked open, his expression changing to one of surprise, before- not a second later- the alert sound for a new mail sounded in his ear.

'…crap.' Though, despite it all, Haseo still couldn't help but open the message and read what he knew he'd end up finding there.

The text read, in all its twisted, nearly unintelligible glory:

G0od !ftrn((n, Ha\30.

Haseo, for his part, took the moment to draw a few calming breaths, before he turned his attention once again to the horribly butchered greeting. After a moment, he decided that he might as well reply- if only so he wouldn't have the damnable vagrant AI chasing after him angrily the next time he eventually logged on.

Hello Kite.

He sent the message, waited a few moments, then sighed when he heard the alert of the answering reply.

Th!\ )s t#3 f;/t ti!e 'ou &av" (&gg7d in?o y&ur a((ont in &ou' !&ys &nd .ig&t((n ho.;s, Has(o.

Haseo paused, blinked, then brought a palm up to his forehead as he fully realized the fact that Kite had sent him more then just his usual three or four words. It was an entire sentence! And what was worse, he was pretty sure the AI was saying something about his recent vanishing act.

I'm afraid I didn't quite understand all of that. Can you say it again, but in fewer words?

Because there was no way in hell he was going to even attempt to decode what the jumbled mass of symbols and letters really meant. After a moment, Haseo got his answer- thankfully shorter this time.

…I mi((ed yo'.

Somehow, in the back of his mind, in a place that he'd never admit existed within him… Haseo felt a bit guilty. Quickly, he typed up a reply.

I'm sorry. I've been busy studying for my end of the year exams. It's been very time consuming for me, and I had to sacrifice a lot of my online time.

Actually, I should be studying for them right now, but I thought that I'd log on for a moment and say hello to everyone instead.

Just so they know I'm not dead or anything.

In answer to the feelings of approaching doom that had suddenly bubbled up inside him, Haseo did an abrupt u-turn where he was standing and immediately began marching back the way he'd come, aiming to put as much distance between himself and any other players as he possibly could. The reasons behind his behavior were rather muddled and unclear, but the factor that the 'conversation' he had with the usually quiet AI was giving him reason to believe that any second now, he should expect to see-

It was just as Haseo walked under the shadow of the very tree that he had logged in under not long ago when he had to stop dead in his tracks or avoid walking into the ball of bright blue light that had suddenly appeared before him.

The orb bobbed in midair for a moment, at roughly the same level as Haseo's face, before seemingly expanding outward. From its center, a form emerged, floating in the air before Haseo in much the same manner as the ball of light had previously. The boy winced slightly, taking a step back and suppressing the wave of apprehension that swept through him upon seeing the familiar visage of Azure Kite's zombie like appearance.

"…somehow, I knew you were going to show up." He stated, bringing a hand up to his waist and propping it there as he shifted his weight onto one leg. The AI, for his part, simply stared back at the PC's face, expression deceptively menacing for what Haseo knew was actually a happy look.

As if somehow able to read his thoughts, Kite fixed his one visible eye squarely onto Haseo's own, causing the other to immediately force himself into having to suppress a shudder of revulsion.

The AI's only response was a brief, flat, completely toneless moan that was devoid of any and all emotion.

"That's great." Haseo responded, sarcasm dripping from his words as he rolled his eyes. Of course he hadn't actually understood anything that the AI had just said- providing that he had even just said anything at all. Kite's lips turned upward into a tiny, barely noticeable smile at this point, and Haseo found himself quickly backing up a few hurried steps as the AI began to float in his direction.

"Woah-woah-!" The now partly alarmed boy said hastily, bringing his hands up to act as a barrier between himself and the approaching AI. "Let's not start all that again!" He protested, knowing acutely just what it was that the floating, brightly dressed zombie was trying to do. Kite came to halt, an expression of disappointment worn over his pale, gray face as he stared at the other boy questioningly. Unhappiness was clear in the wide, glassy eye fixed upon him, and Haseo nearly twitched with the awkwardness of it all.

"I don't want you jumping on me again…" He muttered in explanation, shifting uncomfortably in place when Kite's expression turned even more disappointed.

'I think I almost liked it better when we were enemies…' He grumbled in his mind, while adverting his eyes from the one gazing silently at him.

The azure knight gave another one of his raspy, expressionless moans, before bowing his head slightly. The high collar of his stitched together outfit effectively hid the lower half of the AI's face, and if it weren't for the fact that Haseo already knew that in all likely hood the boy's face was probably just as expressionless as it usually was, he would have assumed that Kite might be trying to hide a frown.

A moment of silence stretched out at this point, and when Haseo eventually realized that Kite did not intend to say or do anything further, he moved to the trunk of tree they were standing under. …Or, floating under, in the AI's case.

Kite turned his head so that his gaze could follow the taller figure's movement, but did not make any move to approach him further. Without comment, Haseo leaned his back up against the tree and folded his arms over his chest, closing his eyes as he did so. The temptation to log out of The World and liberate himself from the uncomfortable situation he was in pressed against his mind insistently, but he couldn't really bring himself to open up his menu and select the log out.

He refused to admit that it might be because he could imagine the look on Kite's face when he suddenly left.

'I never should have given him so many greeting cards.' He concluded grumpily, inwardly scowling at his predicament. For some reason, the AI now adored him- something that he had previously thought impossible. It had spawned quite a few uncomfortable situations since the boy had turned so affectionate. …most of which included Haseo being pinned to the ground while the AI crawled over him.

…and he still shuddered at the thought of what the AI had done to him the time he'd logged in to initially discover the zombie's new found affections.

That had been awkward.

…possibly because he'd almost enjoyed it…

Belatedly, it dawned on him that perhaps taking his eyes off said AI while he was nearby might not exactly be the wisest decision. Immediately, Haseo snapped his eyes open, staring the spot where the boy had been the last time he'd looked. Unsurprisingly, the zombie was no longer there. Panicking lightly, Haseo whipped his head around in search of the suddenly missing individual, only to discover that instead of lurking behind or above him, waiting to pounce, Kite was now sitting down on the grassy earth at the tree trunk's base next to him, staring blankly out ahead, arms resting limply at his sides.

It was a very lifeless, doll like position.

Another moment passed, then Haseo wordlessly maneuvered himself so that he sat down beside the silent figure, legs crossed and arms resting over his knees. Kite turned his head slightly to peer at him, and Haseo realized that the AI had also had his eyes closed up until that point.

"Aaah…" The AI moaned, staring at Haseo intently.

"Yeah. It's a nice day." The boy replied, pretending that he'd understood what the other had said. Kite simply stared at him silently for a moment, before closing his eyes and turning his head forward again.

'…I really shouldn't have given him so many greeting cards.' He repeated to himself again, rolling his eyes and also turning his head forward.

…though, at times like this, it really wasn't so bad.