Blu: Well, I did it for Valentines, and now, I'm doing it for Halloween.
Haseo: Is this fic HaseoxAtoli?
Blu: Yes. Yes, it is.
Haseo: (Pulls out his scythe) It is?!
Atoli: (With tears in her eyes) Why are you being so hostile about public fics about us?
Haseo: Um... Well...
Blu: She's right, Haseo. Especially when it seems that canonically, you two are an item. You shouldn't freak out until I tell you there're hints of HaseoxShino and HaseoxBordeaux.
Blu: And that's my cue to say: BEGIN THE FIC!!
Disclaimer: The .hack series (meaning Project .hack and .hack Conglomerate) do not belong to me. This fic was made merely for entertainment.
Trick or Treat
Halloween: an American holiday that involved frightening, scary, horrifying things. A night where kids dressed up in stupid costumes to go get candy and adults dressed up in stupid or erotic costumes for the sake of 'grown-up' parties and god knows what else. A night where TV channels would show scary movies--ranging from the stupid kiddy ones that you can't believe scared you to the gory, twisted ones that make you think 'what the hell was the writer thinking when he made this script?' That was Haseo's definition of Halloween.
The white-clad Terror of Death gave a sigh as he sat on the steps of Mac in front of the Market Place. 'Where the heck are they?' He looked up at the sky. For once, instead of an eternal sunset, the sky was dark, starry, with a large white moon shining its light down on the Root Town. Every building formed a shadow, each Vital Vista around had adopted some darker clothing, and a couple of players were changing their avatars' colors for the fun of Halloween. Players even got the chance to find mods for their costumes when they found treasures in areas with certain keywords. All a part of the Halloween decoration.
"Good night, Haseo!" A voice shouted in his ear, coming from his blind spot. The voice made Ryou Misaki, Haseo's real world alias, jump up slightly, but the Adept Rogue merely looked over his shoulder and saw... "Shino?"
'Shino' pouted and held her hands together. "No, it's me. Atoli." The usually brightly-colored Harvest Cleric was dressed entirely in black, with the only things not changed being her hair and eye color and the Wave symbol on her large hat.
"Atoli?" The Terror of Death felt stupid for calling her Shino, but what did she expect when she changed her avatar's appearance to look similar to the older girl's? "What have I told you about standing in my blind spot? And why'd you change your colors?"
"Well..." The blonde PC held her hands together and smiled at him. "I was trying to scare you!"
He arched an eyebrow. "You? Scare me?"
"And as for the change...I was dressing up for Halloween! I mean... I don't have any special Halloween mods or anything, so I just decided to change my colors for tonight. Do you think...Shino would mind?"
The gray-haired PC looked down at the ground and frowned. "She's not coming."
"She's...going to a Halloween party with some classmates," Haseo muttered, clenching his fists. "Don't get me wrong! I'm glad that Shino's gotten more social after everything that's happened to her. But...why can't she spend the night with m--" He stopped speaking when he saw the downcast look in Atoli's eyes. 'Idiot!' A voice in his head insulted him. 'You're making her feel worse!' "Why can't she spend the night with us?"
"Then... Then she'll miss out! I'd prefer to spend the night with you than at some party, Haseo." The Harvest Cleric exclaimed. He gave her a small smile and she started to blush. He was getting better at smiling around her.
"Well, we can't go anywhere yet. Not without--"
"Haseo!!" The two Epitaph Users turned their heads to see Sakubo and Aina walking down the steps towards them. From the way she looked, they guessed Bo was in control at the moment, and the Shadow Warlock's PC was now dark blue and black with a blue witch's hat on her head. Aina's avatar, on the other hand, remained unchanged, but she looked creepy in the shining moonlight.
"Hey, Bo. I'm surprised that your mom let you stay up to play," said Haseo as the two young players approached.
The blue-clad Shadow Warlock scuffed his foot on the ground. "Aw, I'm too big for trick-or-treating! I'd rather play 'The World' than eat candy corn... I wouldn't mind eating some chocolate right now, though."
"And what about you, Aina?" From what the Adept Rogue knew about the white-clad Shadow Warlock, she was sick and had to be taken care of.
"They don't know I'm playing. Besides, I've never gotten to go trick-or-treating. Not even in 'The World,'" Aina spoke dejectedly.
"Really? Not once?" Atoli asked sadly with tears seemingly forming in her eyes.
Haseo sweatdropped and looked at the Harvest Cleric with an arched eyebrow. "Hey, you're not gonna start crying, are you?"
"N-no! But I think that we should try to make Aina's first Halloween a great one! Right?"
"Erm, right... Just don't get carried away..." He looked down at the blue-haired girl. "By the way, I need your member address."
Aina arched an eyebrow. "What for?"
"So I can add you to my party. Only people who are part of the Quest can go to the Area for it." A tone then sounded in Ryou's ear and a message box appeared before his eyes, saying that he had exchanged member addresses with Aina. He immediately added Atoli, Sakubo, and Aina to his party, thanking CC Corp. for making the limit in a party four now instead of three. "Now, let's go to the Breg Epona to register for the Quest."
In the Dual City, Breg Epona, the party of four approached the Quest desk when they came across a familiar face, surrounded by a trio of female PCs.
"Hey, Haseo!" The blue-haired PC said with a smile as he waved at his fellow Epitaph Users and their friend. "Happy Halloween!" The gold of the Steam Gunner's stood out in the darkness. There was a human girl on one side of him wearing a short black dress and a black witches hat, and on the other side were two girls: a Lei Fei with white hair and white skin wearing an outfit that resembled a one-piece bathing suit and a spiked dog collar around her neck, and another human girl with her blue hair held up in a bun, wearing a sleeveless blue kimono with black leggings and ninja sandals.
Haseo gave the older PC a half-lidded look and scratched the back of his head as he sighed. "I know I'm gonna regret asking this, but... What are you doing with all those girls?"
"Me and the girls here are going on the special Halloween Quest! And maybe later, we'll go 'trick-or-treating,' if you know what I mean," the Propagation said, wiggling his eyebrows.
"Come on, Kuhnie! Let's go do that Quest!" The Lei Fei pleaded.
"Sorry, 'bout that, ladies. Shall we go?" Kuhn and his admirers walked away from Haseo and his party, chatting amongst themselves.
"If we run into any scary monsters, will you protect me, Kuhnie?"
"Of course I will! No monster will lay a hand on you, so long as I'm around!"
"Oh, Kuhn! You're soooo strong!"
"...Is he always surrounded by girls?" Aina asked the others with an arched eyebrow once Kuhn and his girls were out of hearing range.
"Yup," Haseo answered flatly as he turned around to face the Vital Vista behind the desk. "I don't even wanna know how many member addresses he has..." As soon as he registered their party, a tone sounded and a Vital Vista appeared before them. It didn't look like any of the others that Haseo saw before. This one was dressed in a small, tan coat and wore a brown porkpie hat on its head.
"So, youse guys are the ones who answered my post. You've got guts, kid. There's a killer on the loose, killin' any adventurers and kickin' any little Chim-Chims who dare to get in its way. I was hired for this case, but I can't do it alone. I need your help. Go to Sigma: Restless Stalking Murderer, where all the murders have taken place. Supposedly, our target's hiding out in there. Be careful, kid." As the Vital Vista walked away, the party looked at each.
"Wh-what did he mean about murders?" Bo stuttered as he wrung his hands together.
"You know, PK's," said Aina. "I've never been PK'ed, either."
"That's amazing..." Atoli mumbled as she stared at the blue-haired Shadow Warlock in awe. "Not even once?"
"My big brother was always there to make sure no PK's would hurt me."
"You wouldn't want to. Trust me." Haseo turned on his heel and began to walk in the direction of the elevator. "Come on, let's go. We've got a murderer to catch."
"C-can we at least have some time to prepare?" Atoli asked her party leader. Her voice sounded slightly higher than usual.
The Adept Rogue arched an eyebrow and turned around to look at the Harvest Cleric. "...You're not afraid are you, Atoli?"
"Of course not! Why would I be afraid? I have nothing to be afraid of!" The black-clad PC spoke in a shrill tone.
"Yes, you are! You're afraid! I could understand if Bo or Aina was afraid, but you said you were only a year younger than me!"
Atoli blushed and twiddled her fingers together. "I... I can't help it! It's not like my parents let me watch TV a lot. I never got to watch that many scary movies growing up!"
"Let me just ask you one question..." A mischievous smile appeared on Haseo's face. "Do you like scary movies?" He asked her in a creepy voice.
A tint of blue appeared on Atoli's face. In real life, Chigusa, Atoli's player, began to shake a bit. "St-stop it, Haseo! It's not funny!"
"Haha! Relax! I didn't mean to scare you. If you need time to prepare, then go! I'll be waiting here until you're ready." He folded his arms across his chest and looked towards the elevator with a stoic face, but in real life, Ryou was trying to hold his laughter inside.
"Hmph!" Atoli blushed and uncharacteristically stomped off with Aina and Bo walking behind her.
"Haseo's already having fun and we're not even at the Area yet..." the blue-clad Shadow Warlock told his friend.
(Sigma: Restless Stalking Murderer)
Haseo, Atoli, Bo, and Aina appeared in three rings of light in the center of the cave-type dungeon. There were four passages going in four different directions. Haseo use a Fairy's Orb and opened up the map. "It looks like this entire dungeon's a maze. No second floor... So I guess that the 'murderer' is somewhere around here."
Atoli gulped and held a hand to her head. "Do we have to call it the 'murderer'? Can't we just call it the 'monster'?"
"Hey, come on! This is supposed to be fun!" The white-clad PC said with a smirk.
"It's not fun when you keep teasing me like that!"
"It is for me."
As the two teens argued, Bo observed the two with a pout while Aina stepped away from them and looked around. Out of the corner of her eye, something caught her attention. A glowing white figure in one of the dark passages. The white-clad Shadow Warlock couldn't see their face, but a tone sounded in her ear. Whatever was the source of the tone made her arch an eyebrow and walk into the cave to the left of her friends, disappearing into the darkness along with the white glow.
"Alright, I won't make fun of you anymore! But I don't see what you're what you're so afraid of. If you can stand up to AIDA, then you can stand up to some game-generated monster."
"Right... Right!" Atoli exclaimed with a look of determination on her face.
"Then what're we waiting for?" Haseo asked the Harvest Cleric.
Bo looked beside him. "Are you afraid, Aina? Aina!! Aina's gone!!"
The taller PCs' eyes widened. "What?!"
"Oh, no! Wh-where could she have gone?!" Atoli exclaimed.
"What's she thinking?! She shouldn't run off all by herself at a time like this!" Haseo shouted. "Let's hurry up and find her before she winds up finds up finding the monster!" He pointed up at the cave at the left. "She was over there, right? Maybe she went down there."
As the group of Epitaph Users walked down the passage, a smile appeared in the darkness of one of the other kinds as a pair of red eyes stared at their backs until they disappeared from sight. "Well, well... This must be my lucky day...!"
Aina walked down the path slowly, wary of any monsters that would be around. She stopped walking as she heard the sound of a girl's laughter and froze on the spot, both online and in real life. The gothic Lolita looked out of the corner of her eye before turning around to see a young girl, younger than her. Her hair was short and saffron, her eyes were maroon, and she wore a white sleeveless dress. In her arms was a teddy bear.
"Won't you come and play with me?"
Aina's eyes widened. "You're...!"
Several minutes of maze searching and monster fighting, Haseo, Atoli, and Bo came across a room with no other passages.
"It's another dead end..." Atoli mumbled behind her hand.
"Damn it! I was so sure that she'd be here!" Haseo growled, clenching his fist in anger.
"But...we searched the entire maze already! Where could Aina be?" Bo asked with worry lacing his voice.
"I don't know! Her stats say that her HP's still full, so she hasn't been killed yet... There's lots of twisting, winding paths here. Maybe she went around us or something..."
"You could try to contact her through a short mail," the black-clad Harvest Cleric suggested.
"I did that more than once. She's not responding."
"...Maybe she got caught. She did say she was playing without her caretakers' permission."
Haseo sighed and scratched the back of his head. "That's possible, I guess. I just wish she sent us a message to let us know she was logging off..." He then lifted his head and arched an eyebrow. "Although... There's one thing that bothers me... Where the heck is that monster?"
"Hahahaha!! Well, what's this? A couple of trick-or-treaters out for a night of fun?" A familiar voice spoke behind them. The three Epitaph Users turned around to see smiling Bordeaux with Negimaru and Grein standing behind her. "Trick or Treat, Haseo! You want the trick..." In a flash of light, she drew her blade sword, Spider's Karma and sliced the air with it. "Or the treat?!"
"Bordeaux? Wh-what are you doing here?" Atoli stuttered as she and Bo stared at the scantily-clad PK.
"Yeah, it's not like you to stalk for prey in the Sigma server," said Haseo.
"Well, when I heard you were signing up for this Quest, what could I say? I suddenly got in the Halloween spirit. Sure, we've managed to off some other players along the way, but your treat I've been waiting for all night long."
"Heh." The Adept Rogue smirked and folded his arms across his chest. "...You really were serious when you said you wouldn't stop trying to PK me, weren't you? Okay then..." In a flash of gold light, he drew his dual guns and got into a fighting stance. "Bring it on!!" The battle dome rose from nowhere and the battle music came on.
"Eh... Boss? Are you sure we can take him on?" Negimaru asked as he drew his dual blades and Grein silently drew his broad sword. "I mean... With that weird new form and those guns...!"
Bordeaux sucked her teeth and got into a fighting stance. "Stop being such a crybaby! You think I haven't learned anything about him from hanging out in the same party with him for the past couple of months?" A wicked smirk appeared on her face. "This is gonna be fun...!"
In the middle of a field filled with lycoris flowers was a checkered blanket. Sitting on the blanket was Aina and the little blonde girl, who were playing a word game.
"T...Tuh..." Aina pursed her lips in thought. "Does 'tree frog' count?"
"Do you know the full name of the kind of tree frog?" The blonde girl asked.
"Then it doesn't."
The Lolita-dressed girl sighed in defeat and balled up her fists. "That's the tenth time I've lost to you!"
"Don't worry. You play the game way better than my Mommy's servants."
Aina raised her head to look at the blonde girl. "By the way... Who are you? Are you...Aura? The Goddess of 'The World'?"
"This world doesn't have a Goddess anymore. My Mommy told me so." The blonde girl frowned and stared down at the ground. "But... I don't like the fact that she went to sleep... I didn't want to go to sleep. That's why I like being around people who smell like her." She leaned forward and sniffed the blue-haired Shadow Warlock. "It's faint... But you smell just like her."
"Huh?" The Lolita blushed and leaned back. "S-so, you're not Aura?"
"Then what is your name?"
The blonde girl plucked a lycoris flower out of the ground and held it up in front of her face. "My name is..."
Back with Haseo, Atoli, and Bo, the white-clad Adept Rogue was standing in front of Bordeaux with the one of his Empty Skies dual blades pressed against the side of her throat.
"You've gotten better, but it's still not enough." He arched an eyebrow as she began to smile. "I'm surprised that you're smiling instead of shouting insults at me and swearing revenge."
"Heh. Why should I have to? I'll see you again, eventually." The PK looked up at him and smiled seductively. "It was a fun night, Haseo. Hope we can...do this again some time. So what are you waiting for? Kill me." With a swing of his blade, Haseo lopped off Bordeaux's head and she disappeared in a flash of red light.
"There's been something wrong with Bordeaux for the past couple of months. She's been giving me eyes." The PKK mumbled, scratching his head. He didn't notice that Atoli twitched for a second. "Well, we haven't been able to find any other monsters...and the guy didn't say it was a monster..."
"So the 'killer' was Bordeaux all along?" Bo asked with an arched eyebrow.
"Yup. Which means this quest is done."
"But we still don't know what happened to Aina!!" The Shadow Warlock exclaimed, making the older players jump up in shock.
"Looking for me?" Aina asked as she walked down the passage and into the room. She was immediately enveloped in a hug from Bo.
"Aina!! You're safe!!"
"B-bo!! Let go of me!"
"Aina, where have you been? We've been looking for you everywhere in here," said Haseo.
"I was playing with Zefie."
The white-clad Adept Rogue arched an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Aura's daughter. She said I smelled like her mother."
Atoli blinked and rested a hand on the Shadow Warlock's shoulder. "Are you sure that you didn't just meet a player who pretended that they were Aura's daughter?"
"She wasn't a player!" Aina exclaimed, stomping her foot angrily. "She even gave me something before she brought me back here! See?" She held out her hand in front of her friends. Clutched in her hand was a red lycoris flower, its color standing out in the dark, dreary cave.
"It's a lycoris. She likes them, for some reason..." The blue-haired girl put away the flower and looked up at Haseo. "She said she knows you, too, Haseo." At this, the Terror of Death arched an eyebrow. "She knew you since you first came into the game. Zefie said she didn't like you at first, because you acted mean to your friends. But now...she's thinking about seeing you some time."
"Uh... Yeah, sure..." 'Yeah, right. As if Aura has a daughter...' "Well, we finished the Quest without you."
"Really? I can't believe I missed it..."
"Don't worry, Aina! There's always next year!" Atoli assured the white-clad Shadow Warlock with a smile.
"Yeah, and it wasn't all that scary, anyway. It was only Bordeaux and her friends," Bo told his friend before Haseo used a Return Wing and they disappeared in three rings of blue light.
Later, the party of four returned to the Sigma server and the party disbanded.
"Good night, Haseo! See you tomorrow?" Bo asked as he and Aina stood at the Chaos Gate.
"Maybe. I've gotta go work after school, so I may not come home until 10."
"Okay... Bye, Haseo! Atoli!" He turned to look at Aina. "Good night, Aina."
"Good night, Bo." After the blue-clad Shadow Warlock disappeared in three rings of light, the Lolita-like PC turned to look at the remaining two. "Good night, you two. I may not have been around for the fun, but..." A blush appeared on her cheeks for a moment as she stared at the ground. "I'm glad that you invited me."
The black-clad Harvest Cleric smile. "We're glad you did. Good night, Aina."
The blue-haired girl gave them a small smile before logging off as well.
"So, Atoli... Were you afraid?" Haseo asked her with an arched eyebrow and his arms folded across his chest.
The Mirage of Deceit shook her head. "Nuh-uh! I've seen Bordeaux lots of times! There's nothing scary about her. Disturbing, maybe..."
Ryou held back a laugh in real life while Haseo simply put his hand on his hip. "That's good. You've seen too many frightening things after what we've been through to be afraid of some game monster."
"Mm-hm. Well... Good night!" She immediately leaned in and gave him a quick peck on the cheek, causing the older boy's eyes to widen in the game and in real life before she disappeared in three rings of light.
Haseo blushed and rubbed his cheek. "Well... That's a treat that I like..." He mumbled before logging off as well.
When the screen finished loading and his desktop appeared, a message came up. "What's this?" Ryou mumbled to himself as he read the message box. "New mail?" He opened his Mail Station and checked the new message in his inbox. "...Huh? No, this can't be...!"
Hello, Haseo. You don't know me, but I know you. I met your friend Aina tonight. She told you about me, didn't she? Did she show you the flower I gave her? You can have one, too, when I come and play with you, and all of your other friends. I really like you, Haseo. I hope we can play soon.
P.S.: If you met my Mommy, I'm sure you'll like me.
Ryou stared at the message on screen before he gave a sigh. "It figures that on Halloween, strange things happen in 'The World,' as usual..."
Blu: Hurray!! The first day-specific fic I've written that's posted before the day comes! Finally!! I hope you guys will be good and review, or else I'll sic Azure Kite on you! And I will, too! I've got Haseo's Member Address list right here.
Azure Kite: (Suddenly appears next to her) Rrrr...
Blu: That's means 'Review or become Data-Drained, readers.' Do not disobey the Azure Flame!!