Another fic done for Rowena's 1000 Words or Less Challenge!

Beginning Line: "I can't believe you thought that was a good idea!"

Ending Line: "If it makes you feel better to believe that, good right ahead."

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Disclaimer: I do not own Dot hack GU

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'I can't believe you thought that was a good idea!'

Kuhn had the presence of mind not to utter that thought aloud; if Pi didn't beat him bloody for it, Haseo most certainly would.

It had turned out that, for all the poetic notions of an Epitaph-User's connection to their PC that connection paled in comparison to actually being in the PC. Normally, the most interactive "The World" got was during fights against AIDA and Avatars. Then it went full-immersion and, even with the looming possibility of being deleted, killed, or eaten, was truly amazing.

Being slowed down because a meter-long plume of your own hair was throwing off your balance was not quite so amazing. Why'd he make his PC with such long hair, anyway? Then Kuhn remembered; long hair was on guys had been 'in' at the time. Mystery solved.

Meanwhile, Pi's glare was deepening. Haseo was hiding his face behind that high leather collar of his and not meeting Pi or Kuhn's eyes at the moment. Silabus had mentioned that quirk in an email recently; the green-clad player said Haseo usually did that when he was feeling uncomfortable or especially embarrassed.

'And I might be embarrassed too,' Kuhn surmised, "if I had used that line on Pi.'

The situation had played out thusly; since there was nothing else to do while they were all trapped in this 'AIDA Server', Yata had sent Haseo, Pi, and Kuhn to investigate an Area with a faint AIDA signal. Since this entire Server was apparently made from AIDA (or was it by AIDA? Kuhn couldn't keep that straight), the Serpent of Lore was having a hard time pinpointing individual AIDA. So here the three of them were, searching the field for those familiar black dots.

Unfortunately, Yata had neglected to mention that this field was full of Kestrel PKers. Kuhn thought he recognized a face here and there, but not a one was in a mood to sit down and listen to reason. This had led to a new discovery; fighting as your PC, instead of as a player controlling a PC, was downright exhausting. It was hard enough keeping your balance and moving the right way, but Kuhn had found himself wincing at the sight of Haseo gritting his teeth and swinging that enormous Broadsword of his. How much must that thing weigh? No wonder Haseo kept switching back to his Dual Swords…

Combine that with the stony footing of a wasteland field, along with the dim and damp conditions…as soon as they'd taken care of the AIDA, it was no wonder that the three of them were taking a break. It couldn't be a long break – Nala of Moon Tree was over by the Temple and wanted to talk – but it was a necessary one.

Finding a method to sit down was…interesting, to say the least. Kuhn was immensely thankful that his PC's clothing was comfortable; the straw bundle in the back was awkward, but actually made for good padding against the rocky soil. Haseo was sporting awkwardly placed metal armor, and plating with pointy bits, and…really, Kuhn wasn't surprised that Haseo had 'just so happened' to decide to lean against a tree.

Kuhn was happy on the ground, while Pi had perched on a rock. They had been resting for all of a minute before Haseo had uttered the fateful words.

"Pi…aren't you cold?"

"Cold?" Pi had asked in reply, clearly confused.

"Yeah. I mean…this field isn't exactly warm and dry," Haseo had explained, "And well, you're not…"

And that was where they were now; Haseo flustered and embarrassed, while Pi looked angrier by the second. Kuhn decided to see if he could mediate before this newest squabble got too serious.

"You know, Haseo's got a point," Kuhn said.

Pi's glare immediately shifted his way. Kuhn forced himself to keep speaking – how could someone who dressed like that be so damn intimidating, anyway?

"This field is kind of cold. Definitely kind of damp," Kuhn said, "And your PC isn't exactly dressed for the occasion."

"And yours is?"

"Better than yours," Kuhn replied cheekily.

If he kept smiling, maybe it would all blow over as a joke…

"Actually, I think I'm the best off from the three of us. You're hardly covered enough for a swimsuit, and Haseo is…"

Kuhn only faltered slightly when he saw that Haseo had switched from 'flustered and embarrassed' to a full-blown scowl.

"What's wrong with the way my PC's dressed?" Haseo demanded.

"Nothing too bad," Kuhn said, "But…you do want to be able to sit down again at some point, right?"

Haseo's scowl deepened, but Pi looked amused now.

"I imagine that leather's probably chafing…" she mentioned slyly.

"I wouldn't talk about leather if I were dressed like you," Haseo shot back.

"Oh? And why not?"

Haseo smirked.

"Hey, Pi; how's your back?"

Pi scowled. Kuhn braced himself for the explosion, but none came. Instead, Pi rose to her feet and primly brushed herself off. "That's long enough," Pi said, "The sooner we get going, the sooner we can get back to our real selves."

"Yeah, yeah," Haseo said, pushing off from the tree.

Kuhn rose from the ground, dusted off his rear, and fell in line. He had an urge to try and get the last word in, though, so he casually pointed out, "So, does that mean we agree that my PC's the best-dressed here?"

Haseo and Pi both looked back at him with identical scowls. A moment later, Pi's broke into a smirk.

"If it makes you feel better to believe that, go right ahead."

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FIN

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