It was cold.
The sun was just dipping below the horizon, and the last few rays of light lit up my surroundings in a beautiful golden haze. Not that I cared. A single tear traced its way down my cheek, and I watched it fall onto my crossed arms. Why was I crying? Why should I care so much about this? About him?
I knew he was there. I had heard his footsteps approaching only a few seconds ago, but I didn't look up. I couldn't. I was afraid, afraid of what would happen if I looked into his face, if I...
No. I couldn't accept those feelings. I couldn't even think about them. He was gone; I couldn't. Not without hurting my best friend. I wouldn't let myself.
Why couldn't he just leave? Why did he have to be such an idiot! I forced myself to my feet.
"You can't be here right now." I turned around, trying to stop the tears. "Just a little longer, and I would've gone back to being my usual cheerful self..." No use. I wiped my sleeve across my eyes.
"How'd you know I was here?"
He turned, and I looked in the direction he was pointing. The bell tower. "I went up there, so I could scan the whole town for you."
I couldn't help but smile. "You always do the craziest things." I stopped and turned away, berating myself for giving in to my emotions. "Sorry..." I managed to say, "I'm fine. I think I'm not used to adventures, and it just shook me up... So please... forget everything I said." I dropped to my knees and covered my face, desperate to stop him from seeing me. Not like this.
"I wanted to thank you." I looked up. What did he say? "I've always," he continued, "I've honestly always thought it would be better to die than to survive alone." He looked away, as if...
I stood up. "Kirito?"
"But when we fell in that hole, I was glad we both made it." There it was, that smile. The smile that covered his whole stupid face and made you just want to jump him. "I was able to think that everyone is living as best they can. So, thank you, Liz."
Everyone is living as best they can. In other words, he wanted to remain like this. He wanted us to remain like this. Had he even realized? Could he really be that thick? I lowered my head. "Same here..." No, I had to say something, I just had to. I couldn't leave these feelings trapped inside me. "I was also looking for something, something real in this world. For me... it was the warmth of your hand." I took a deep breath, steadying myself. "Tell Asuna what you just told me." I turned away again, the urge to cry almost overwhelming.
"I'm fine!" I looked up. The sky really was beautiful, even if it was artificially generated. "Only, this warmth will linger for a little while. Therefore, please... end this world." I couldn't stop the tears now. "Until then, I'll keep working."
"I promise." The voice from behind me was gentle and reassuring. I wiped my face again.
"If you need your equipment repaired, come by anytime." I was okay, I could do this. "Sure," his voice came again. I turned back around. "You'll always be welcome at Lisbeth's Smith Shop!"