Disclaimer: Sword Art Online and all its related characters belong to their respectful owners.
It's not about
Nor gardens full of flowers
Where your heart lies
Puffs of white breath leave trails as the teenage boy ran to the front of a hospital. His right hand is holding his left one, which was cut by a knife on his way to the white building. Blood dripped from the tip of his fingers, staining the pure white snow with its crimson liquid.
When he arrived at the waiting room there was nobody present, not even a nurse, and the room was dark thanks to the energy-saving policy which was initiated on the early 2015 when the country suffered from a critical energy lost. The situation was handled 6 months later, but the governments decided to continue the policy as it saves more funding on the electric bills.
After he scanned the room he immediately went to the elevator and punched the 'up' button with his right hand. The momentary release made his left arm cried in pain, he cringed at the sensation and immediately put his right arm back. After a while the elevator door opened, spreading the bright light from its cubicle. He stepped in and pushed his floor, when it closed back with a 'ding' he leaned on the wall to try to catch his breath.
It's not so much of a tiredness, but more like an adrenaline rush.
Earlier, on his way here he encountered a young man in his twenties coming out from a van, stopping him from his track. The man was covering his right eye for some reason, Kazuto was about to ask if he's okay when suddenly he lurched and brought a knife out. Kazuto tried to step away on reflex but his body was still in recovery so his movements are a tad bit slower. Although he managed to avoid getting stabbed in the heart his left arm wasn't so lucky, he shouted in pain and looked at the man responsible.
"..Ugh..Su..Sugou.." The man stopped and removed his hand that was covering his eye, and revealed a bloodshot orb that definitely doesn't belong to human.
"See me? See this!? You made me like this Kazuto!" He roared in anger and showed an expression of a man who lost his mind. "I'll kill you. I'llkillyouI'llkillyouI'llkillyouI'llkillYOU!" He chanted while charging at Kazuto. Seeing the mad man, his body shook but immediately regained his composure. With his right foot he stepped to the right and pivoted with his heel. When Sugou missed and walked right through, he caught his hand and twist it, making him drop the knife. Sugou screamed in pain and jolted away, the slippery road made him lose his balance and he fell to his knees. He searched through the pile of snow for his weapon. Unfortunately for him, the silver blade landed near Kazuto's shoes. Seeing something glinted near his feet he crouched and picked it up.
"..So light." He twirled the knife with his fingers. "With no durability and excessive sharpness." He observed the knife carefully and made a note based on his knowledge. "And yet, it could cause this kind of pain.." Feeling his left arm throbbed, he laughed at the difference between the real world and his.
Hearing his laugh Sugou turned his head and stared in horror. His whole body shook, reminded of the scorching pain he experienced not even half an hour ago from the same guy. When Kazuto made eye-contact with him he curled up and screamed.
"Hiiiii! Please! Don't kill me!" He screamed and ran to his car, locking himself in it. Seeing the trembling man in the white vehicle Kazuto decided he's not worth his time and threw the silver blade into the gutter and resumed his march to the Hospital.
The 'ding' sound startled him. The elevator opened to a spacious hallway lit by a few dim lamps. It was eerily silent and dark as far as the eye can see. Despite the situation, the black-clothed boy marched straight through, for he has known the route he took for months. After a quite long walk he stood in front of the white door with a name tag written in kanji and hiragana respectively.
With added effort, he lifted up his left arm and gripped the steel handle. It felt colder, he noted. He pushed it slowly and is welcomed with a familiar scent of orchid flowers he brought for this month. The room was as normal as any hospital room would be, with white floor tiles and walls, equipments scattered neatly in their place, and a white drape separating the guest from the patient. Kazuto always felt queasy everytime he brushed aside the white tarp, for the next scene that welcomed him would always made his heart wrench. But this time, he thought.
He slid the white cloth with his fingers and closed his eyes unintentionally while doing so, afraid of seeing the same thing he saw these past weeks. For a while it was quiet, the comforting smell of the orchid filled his nose, which has been sharpened from the lose of the sense of sight. The palpitation of his heart has quieted down, and just as he was about to open his eyes.
He opened his eyes and saw a figure sat on the bed. Her long, very long, chestnut hair pooled on the bed. Her hospital gown seems too big for her thin body. And despite her pale face, those caramel orbs looked at him with such brightness.
It was so beautiful.
He walked to the bed, slowly to make sure it wasn't a dream. When he stood at the side, the woman smiled at him. And he used his remaining strength to hug her tightly with his good arm.
"..Finally..I found you." He buried his face on her hair, sobbing. After 2 years and a month, his journey finally ended.
"You found me." Asuna stroked his dark locks softly, soothing her dark knight from the curse he has gone through all this time.
"..I'm home, Kirito-kun." Kazuto's eyes widened. For some reason his chest hurts upon hearing the words he should've felt immense joy on hearing it, for he has waited a long time to hear them.
"..Yeah, welcome home Asuna.." Although he smiled, the pain lingered in there. It's a good thing Asuna couldn't see him, or she would be concerned by what's going on with him. And even Kazuto himself doesn't know the answer to that question.
He lifted his head and saw throughout the window. Snow was falling in white powders, painting the sky outside white and some landed on the corner of the glass. He spotted a figure standing in the middle of the snow, which is weird as this was the 4th floor. He scrunched his eyes and saw that the figure looked like a man from his body. He wore a long black coat that reached his feet. Beneath it were a t-shirt and pants of the same color. And two sword hilts could be seen on his back.
Kazuto tried to identify him, but the falling snow and his dark locks obscured his face. The black-clothed figure turned his head, and with a precise movement turned his body as well, swishing his cloak and walking slow yet steadily away into the white world. Kazuto lifted his wounded arm and tried to reach out to him, the pain ignored, for his head is filled with so many questions to answer.
Before he could say it a woman in white clothing ran from the distance and jumped into the man's arms, to which he hugged her back. Kazuto lowered his arm, finally understand.
Then she lifted her head and kissed him tenderly, in which he responded with the same softness.
She loved him.
They separated after a while, and the man parted the woman's brown hair and kissed her forehead.
And he loved her as much as she does.
Then a little girl in white dress ran up to them, jumping into their open arms and both of the adults kissed the girl on her flowing black hair.
He has a family who awaits him..and finally..He can go back..to them.
The man turned his head, looking at Kazuto. He threw him a smile, a smile Kazuto seemed to know what it intended to say. Then a wind flowed, pushing his hair out and revealed two dark-grey orbs similar to him, which flashed an apologetic look. A single tear flowed from Kazuto's eye, understanding what the man meant to say. He turned back and linked his hand with his daughter, with her other hand linked to his wife. Walking together into the snow, vanishing from the sight. Kazuto let out his choked sobs into his girlfriend's hair, and muttered slowly to his past self.
And thank you.
The sound of the crackling fire woke him up. When he opened his eyes the view of wooden ceiling greeted him. With bleary eyes he looked around the room, and noticed the fireplace is low on woods, and the fire has grown small. The rocking chair he sits onto made a creaking sound everytime it move back and forward. He was about to close his eyes once more when a rapping from the wooden door was heard. It opened and revealed a beautiful girl with flowing blue hair and a bright smile.
He thought he saw an angel for a second.
The beautiful girl walked to him and sat on his lap then snuggled to his chest.
"How's the nap?" Asuna asked with her soft tone.
"..Great as always." He replied with a hazy voice. Asuna giggled to his tone and lifted her head up to see his virtual-husband (for now) in the eye and kissed him fully on the lips. Kazuto closed his eyes, feeling her tender lips pressed to him. After a while she pulled away and noticed his slightly wet cheeks.
"Is something wrong?" She grew concerned.
"..I had that dream again." He answered, with a distant look in his eyes.
Asuna immediately knew what he referred to. Though it's something she figured on her own, her husband believes she only knew about him dreaming about something, not what it's about. But after a few weeks Asuna managed to gather bits of pieces of his sleep-mutterings, and it always goes down to the same thing.
Truthfully, the only times he acted like this was when it's only the two of them together. In front of the others Kirito maintained his goofy attitudes here now and then. Although some of them noticed his crazy attempt at leveling up, but after he reached level 78 he stopped rushing things out and acted as if nothing happened. He also changed his hair into the one he used in his real life, and a certain world. He said it's so that Yui can rest more comfortably on his head, but Asuna knew better. Ever since the day she met him in that hospital room, Kazuto always seemed like he's looking for something. Like something that he once had, but now lost somewhere.
The room was quiet. The sound of the fire has died down, along with the warmth it produced. But thanks to the close proximity of their bodies, none of them realized it. After a while Asuna stood up and took his hand on hers.
"Have you heard the news?"
"So you haven't.. Well, come with me for a bit. I want to show you something." She tugged his hand.
"Asuna, I'm really not in the mood right now.." He protested, and she smiled.
"Come on now, for me?" She looked with those blue orbs he grew to love for the past months. If it were any other person Kazuto would have ignored and said 'no' to them right off the bat. But when his wife makes that look, it's kind of hard to say no.
"..Fine." He lifted himself up and walked to the front door. Once outside, he saw Asuna calling out her wings and floated off the ground. Kazuto does the same, feeling his new muscles moving, spreading his black wings and flapping them slowly. She extended her hand to him and he grabbed it, flying together with her.
He flew higher, then higher, then higher until he penetrated the clouds. The sky has grown orange, for it was evening, and mythical beasts can be seen migrating on the far distance. He waited for a while, and asked his wife.
"So.. What are we supposed to look for?"
"Just wait for a while." She smiled and squeezed his arm gently. Reassuring him to stay.
He complied, and waited. Feeling the wind breeze on his face. Then the sound of a trumpet was heard, signaling a new patch update to the system. He felt a tug on his hand and saw Asuna pointing something at the sky.
He craned his neck up and the sight that greeted him widened his eyes. For 2 years, it has trapped him in a place where he encountered a lot of unwanted memories. And yet, for those same years he grew fond of it. Keeping the memories of the place dear in his heart. And when he saw that man through the window back then, Kazuto knew that it was a farewell, a permanent goodbye. He never felt more wrenched than when he was presented with the option, and tapped the 'yes' button to erase his save data, in order to free that man from him, for his journey has ended, while Kazuto's is just beginning.
And yet, that floating castle has came back to him. With its outer appearance of steel. The memories came out in the forms of tears that flowed uncontrollably from his eyes, and his mouth opened as if wanting to say something, but no words came out. Asuna smiled softly, and snuggled herself into her husband's chest; nuzzling his neck.
"Finally..we can go home." She spoke softly to his ear. He hugged his wife close to his body and buried his head in those blue locks of hers.
November 7th 2024. The day all players were released from the dubbed 'deathly' game of the century. Most rejoice on the fact that they can finally met their family and relatives again. On that day, Kazuto woke up with a feeling of complete trepidation and horror. For he was supposed to be dead in the arms of his wife, while watching the steel castle crumbles in front of them. That day has brought him a sense of loss, and longing inside him which he can never satisfy. Not even when he grabbed the smooth metal of NerveGear and entered the world he thought to be the one longed for, but it was never about that, it's about something else. And now finally, finally..
He found it.
Author's note: BadLuckExpert here. Not much of KiriSuna romance in this story since i focused on Kirito for this one. Truthfully, the last episode of SAO brought a sense of dissatisfaction to me. I always believed that they could do more for the ending scene instead of Kirito and Lyfa spinning like retards. And the scene where his past self go could use some fixations, hence the reason i wrote this story. See you next time!