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Kiru

[PP-NK-F20] Discomposed (Oikawa)

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[It's been awhile, please bear with me if I am a little rusty haha. @Oikawa

"Thank you, sir." I said to the NPC clerk as he set the tea down in front of me. He smiled quietly, but I knew that it wasn't genuine due to the fact that NPCs were not actual people; at least not in the way that I was. It was an odd feeling to be trapped in this game for such a long time, and to grow accustomed to living here in Aincrad. I was sure that for some players, this life was better than what they had in the real world. I once had that in common with that sliver of the population, but recently things had changed. This 'game' had always been serious to me, and I knew I could die at any moment; I used to be cautious due to my causes, and tried to live my life for the people I cared about. However, for the past year or so I had gone MIA, removed all of my friends on my list, and almost never ventured to highly populated areas. I was confident that I lost my ability to fight as well as my ability to care about the crap that surrounding the politics of guilds. After all, mine had been wiped out; no one dared to speak of the Azure Brigade because everyone who was related to it is either dead or like me.

The Kiru that everyone once knew was no longer here. The old Kiru might be on the front lines, or hunting PKs, maybe even completing quests as boring as they were. Yet, none of that suited me as of right now. Looking back, there was quite a bit of drama I was involved in that might not have been such a good idea. I was certain that there was a bounty or something stupid on my head, they could not have forgotten about me after what I had done for Keith's revenge. Just thinking about everyone that had been taken from me made filled me with an emptiness. It may be hard to understand, but the days go by in slow motion, as if I was the only one alive. But when I look back, it's been weeks, months, a year since I spoke a word to anyone I knew. It was scummy move on my end, but I felt that it was the right choice. I was so pent up on revenge that I was going to risk my life, and the lives of others to obtain retribution for them. Everyone I ever came into contact with has died, and I knew it was not my fault, but I could not help but to distance myself. There was no self pity on my end, what's done was done. The only thing I felt was my heart every single day, telling me that I failed my friends, and the people I loved. I wasn't there for Zelrius before that boss battle. Who knows what would have happened if I was there to stop it? "It should have been me, really." I thought to myself. Who knows what would have happened if I made it to Daeron in time, to Ssendom, to Keith, to Jun, and Echo. The list went on and on in my mind, and would only spiral into a fit of hatred if I continued on this path. But these feelings were my own, and not meant to share with others. I kept away to avoid being a mess in someone else's life in this already messed up place. 

I traced the tip of my finger around the rim of the cup and stared at myself in the reflection. Behind me was the cafe in which I was situated at. I came to this place almost everyday in Inti in the morning so I could watch the sunrise. This was the only thing that I really enjoyed doing during the day other than wandering the floors aimlessly. The terrace I was on was one of the tallest in the settlement, just high enough to overlook everything and everyone, but hidden enough to keep to myself. Normally I wore the cape that Zelrius made for me, but something felt different today, like the breeze was special somehow, and the colors in the sky were promising. My hair had also been put into a ponytail, away from my face, and I was dressed rather nicely considering that it was literally 5 in the morning. I felt most like myself at this time of the morning. 

I closed my eyes and took a sip of my tea. "This is the best mango tea, I swear." 

 

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Ambient rays settled upon him as the day broke free from the clutches of night. It wasn't often that he stopped on the twentieth floor, but being as that it was a floor away from his home, it didn't make sense to ignore the sight before him when he got the chance. It was early for him, far earlier than his usual waking hours. But after the night he had, returning home took far longer than normal and he was in dire need of some food. He had half a mind to tough it out and just finish the trek home, but his stomach disagreed with that notion entirely. Rumbling with agitation, Oikawa continued towards Inti. If he recalled correctly there were vendors outside the main settlement he could go to for food.

His steps were heavy. Having to take the long way through or around places weren't a foreign concept to him, but today seemed particularly annoying. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep the last few nights. Nightmarish flashbacks had kept him up more than a few times and constant reminder above his head was no better. Maybe it was the fact he had told Mari he like her and she didn't reciprocate the same feelings. Not that it hurt him that she didn't, but he wondered why it was always like this. First Kotori, she reciprocated the feelings but disappeared not long after. Briefly there was Audacity, they had an amazing outing and afterwards she disappeared too. Then, there was Kiru. A complicated situation to say the least. She had Keith whose disappearance and death weighed heavily on her. His eyes watered. Then there was Zelrius, one of her best friends. Maybe even more, but never explored because of him. He took Zelrius away from Aincrad. Away from her. Then he had the nerve to confess feelings for Kiru like that would be okay. That would never be okay. She would never be okay. And it was his fault. He was the reason. Should he be surprised she didn't want to feel for him that way? Not at all. In fact he should be grateful she would even hear him out and not just flat out kill him on the spot. No she was better than that. She was a maverick hunter after all. But did he deserve better than that?

The tears rolled. He didn't even bother wiping them away anymore. They would roll and roll and he deserved to be alone with them. He brought this upon himself. Selfish desire and jealousy. Kiru owed him nothing. And ironically like the others, she disappeared too. Maybe his heart was cursed. He was never meant to be with anyone in this place. Not now. Not ever.

His steps stopped. The sun began to reach its apex in the sky. Inti was nearly out of sight, but a few shops and places of interest littered the outskirts of town. The tears had resided for now. His eyes only slightly swollen to those that managed to steal a glance. There were few player around if any. Mostly NPCs making their way around. His gaze lifted up. Scanning the horizon to watch the sun meet the sky in unison. As the sun settled into its perch, his gaze drifted back down to earth. He enjoyed the view. It was always serene.

Shifting his sights back up, a terrace near the edge of Inti caught his eye. Tucked away, vines covering nearly most of it, a lone figure sat. Their features were hard to make out from below, but one thing was certain. "White....and black..."

"Kiru"

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Each sip of my tea got better, but worse at the same time. The first few sips are the best because all of the flavor was there for you to savor, but lost it's touch after awhile. Even still, this shop was my favorite spot in Inti. Not only was it not populated- especially at this time of day, but it was secluded. On top of all of that, the tea was something that calmed me down quite a bit. It was the perfect place to start my mornings, and brace myself for the days I had ahead of me. Speaking of which, today had planned to do something I had not in awhile: go outside of the city. 

For quite some time I stayed inside, or at least in safe zones due to the fact that I had no interest in getting myself into trouble. I knew that the moment I saw a player killer, or even anything rotten happening, that I would intervene. And most times that happened, I do more harm than good. In fact, I had probably killed more people after my fit of depression and wallowing after Zel died than I had while I was helping Keith with mavericks. It was a pity to think about really, and for no good reason could I think about why I was so pent up on this idea of revenge. I guess one of the only people who could possibly sympathize with me on this was Zel, and he was dead. I could not bring myself to avenge Zelrius, and so I tried to challenge Opal, who killed some of my guild. That did not end up working, and I could not even remember why either. If someone asked me what I had been doing for the past few years, I would not know what to say. I tried to go after everyone that had wronged me and all of my friends. But that was cut short after I realized that I didn't have the balls to kill Oikawa. As angry as I was, and as much as I knew that Zelrius, Keith, and even Dom would have killed him in a heartbeat if the roles were reversed, I just couldn't. There was something in his eyes when I looked at him, and something that pulled on my heart when I thought about it for too long. It just didn't make sense sometimes. I was unsure if any of them were alive, or what I would do if I saw any of them again. Maybe they disappeared like me? 

I shook my head slightly and looked towards the horizon. The sun was almost just above it, which was my cue. I set the teacup down and stood up. I draped the cloak over myself, and put my hood up. My feet seemed to carry me down the stairs, and out of the cafe. I knew my way around here all too well. "I should probably switch towns soon..." I thought to myself and smirked at the thought of something new. Nothing was more refreshing that taking your time to learn everything about a town, then just leaving. It was almost like a little game I played with myself in which I was the only player. Anything to pass the time, I guess. 

I jumped off of the last step of the stairs and looked again towards the horizon. As I did so, my hood fell off and the incoming light for the day cascaded over my pale face. I closed my eyes and smiled lightly for a moment. "I wish you were here..." 

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Perhaps he was mistaken. His eyes playing the cleverest of tricks on him in the waking hours of the sun. His mind working in tandem with his golden orbs to produce the image of the girl he had hoped was still around. But it had been months. Several agonizing months since he had last heard from her. Seen her. But he deserved it. After what he had done, he didn't deserve her company or presence. But that didn't mean he wouldn't welcome it. His breath shortened. Expelling itself in the form of a curious but saddened sigh. "Where are you?" he wondered. He let his eyes wander back up to the terrace, but the girl or mirage he had seen earlier was no longer there.

"Hmm, maybe it wasn't real after all," he mused out loud.

Fixing his cloak, Oikawa continued his search for the vendors. If he wasn't mistaken, they should've been rather close still. Moving from the vicinity of Inti, the brunette managed to locate a few of the vendors. Their carts arranged similar to food trucks back home. Various foods and delicacies were available but today he was feeling a classic bowl of ramen. His eyes searched across the carts. The signs ranging from desserts to full meals, but none explicitly stating ramen as a choice. Perhaps the cart had moved to a different floor or town. Or maybe Aincrad's cruel way of saying you don't deserve anything. Not even ramen.

Stepping to a Tonkatsu cart, Oikawa selected a simple meal of pork cutlet and curry. Time seemed to be off for him today. It was as if everything was standing still or coming to a crawl. Just overall slow. He hated days like this.

"Nothing good comes from a slow day," he muttered to himself as he collected the tonkatsu meal and searched for a place to eat. Spotting a well a little further up, he made his move. The cobbled wall seemed firm and big enough for him to eat at least.Taking a seat, he gazed back at the horizon. The sun had already settled into the sky by then. His mind drifted.

 

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The sun almost felt warm on my face; it felt cruel to have so much reality in a virtual world. But then again, wasn't that the point of all of this? To make living here feel real? I mean, it did one hell of a job. It felt like this was all I knew, and slowly throughout my time in Aincrad I had begun to forget that my name wasn't actually Kiru, and that this was not actually the real world. However, even with all of this, I truly did not think I would change a thing about entering the game in the first place. If I knew I wouldn't be able to leave SAO once I logged on I probably would have left my parents a note, saying I would fight my way out or whatnot. I would leave something tangible in the real world for home. I almost felt guilty admitting that I preferred to be here rather than in school or at a job because not only was it selfish, but it was also almost admitting that the death was okay as well. And I knew full and well that there was death in the real world, much like anywhere else, but it was different in here. There was not justice system really. I would have considered Keith and I that system that kept order through non-ethical means, but it kept peace for awhile, and the PKs chased after us instead of regular people who came here to swing a sword or two. It was different for me and the people I had lost. We all had a reason to be here, whether or not that was running from something or running to something. It almost made me wonder how I missed meeting Keith in the real world, and how different I would be if he hadn't stuck SAO in my locker. "Maybe it would have been better if I never came here." I thought to myself and put my hood back on. I knew that all I could do is regret my actions, and hopefully learn from my mistakes. 

I looked left and right. People were just coming out of their Inns, and waking up to another day in this game. I sighed and walked away from the town. The easiest way was through the food carts. Not everywhere went there to leave town because of how incredibly crowded it was during the daytime. I dreaded going through the mass of people, but I kind of wanted to. After all, this was my last time in Inti for a long while. I pushed through the players all around me while examining the food. I had just eaten, but looking at food comforted me sometimes. It reminded me of Tristan in a way. It kind of funny how we associated things or places with people. For example, Floor 6 was Keith. Alchemy meant Mari, and every time I looked at my clothes I was reminded of Ariel. Swords reminded me of Oikawa, as sad as that was. I associated the ledges of Aincrad with Daeron. And Zelrius? I saw him everywhere I looked. Another sigh left me as I drifted from the crowd. 

Finally I had reached the end of Inti, and was just about to leave the safezone when in the distance I saw a familiar figure. "Oikawa?" I thought to myself, slightly confused. I could not pinpoint what I was feeling. I felt a small burning anger in my soul; he killed Zel after all. Something tugged on my heart as well. Guilt. I left him, and even though he was fully capable of taking care of himself I still felt responsible in a way. I stared at him for a little bit, "Is it even him?" 

I tugged a little on my hood and walked confidently past him, hoping deep down in my heart that if he did know it was me that he wouldn't approach. But that would have been too much to ask for, wouldn't it? 

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Clamor and footfall soon filled the air. Life seemed to be inhaled by the edge of the city as players and NPCs alike seemingly materialized out of thin air. His meal was mostly finished. the remnants a little less than a bite or two of the cutlet. Despite his usual appetite, hunger escaped him as he continued to mull over what to do with his day. His thoughts from before had subsided, even if briefly. Something he was grateful for as the past had an annoying way of plaguing his future. Eventually he'd have to forgive himself but he wasn't nearly in the position or mindset to do so.

A cloaked figure darted past him. Their brisk pace seemingly purposeful as they hugged their hood tighter as they walked past. Something was off. And familiar all the same. It couldn't be, he thought. His mind flashed to brief glimpse of the girl that hugged the edge of the rooftop only moments earlier.

"Kiru?!" he let out.

He wasn't even sure if it was her. His outburst gaining him a few looks from passerbys. The hooded person continued their walk. He wasn't sure if he had been heard or ignored or both. He wanted to chase after them to ensure but his mind relented.

She doesn't want to see you. She hates you. You are dead to her. He tried to shake the thoughts, but couldn't find the will to do so. They were right after all. He didn't deserve her company or her presence.

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For some reason, my hands felt a little bit clammy. "Why do I even want to avoid him?" I thought to myself, mind racing. It weighed on my conscious to think about Oikawa's life in this game. Surely I did not make it any better by being in it. I did not like to label myself as someone who was self deprecating, but it was pathetic how high I climbed in ranks with my friends only to have them all struck down and killed. I knew it was not my fault deep down, but it did not stop be from putting the blame on myself considering that I was the only factor for their deaths still alive and well in Aincrad. "The least I could do is leave him alone-" 

Suddenly, my name was called. I kept walking, a little faster now, but something hit me. It rang through my ears, and I stopped. It was weird to hear someone call it. I genuinely could not remember the last time someone had addressed me. I looked back slightly towards him. It was definitely Oikawa, but something was different. His demeanor? Did he change his hair? I scanned the area and noticed it had grabbed others' attention as well. Normally, I did not care, I was not afraid of other people looking at me. Being the center of attention was never an issue for me. However, I did not want to be noticed, especially not right now. I was trying to leave town; and by Oikawa yelling my name it was certain that I couldn't come back for awhile. During this time, I was frozen. "What do I do?" I Inhaled deeply through my nose and closed my eyes. Problem solving was my strong suit, all I had to do was think. But everyone was staring at either him, or me. I touched my thumb to my bottom lip and opened my eyes. Slowly I removed my hood from my face, revealing my two-toned hair in a high ponytail, and my face open and clear. "Here goes nothing...." I straightened my shoulders and slowly turned towards Oikawa. A small grin danced along my lips as I crossed my arms over my chest. 

"You called?"  

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