Chapter 2: Unfortunate Circumstances
I did quite like Silica, but she could be really irritating at times. Times like now.
"Please, Kirito-kun... We won't be a bother, I promise!" She was practically bouncing up and down.
"It's not that I'm concerned about," the swordsman replied, "You can't come up to the front lines, it's way too dangerous."
"Not the top, just a few floors higher. Besides, I'm sure you can protect us."
She should just leave it already. "Come on, Silica-chan, stop pestering him," I told her.
"But he said he would take me yesterday..." Her face dropped in disappointment.
"He did not! Stop making things up."
"Oh, you're no fun."
I was getting angry now. "It's not a joking matter! You could die!"
"Okay! Okay! I'll take you, just stop arguing already," Kirito jutted in.
"See, he's really just a big softie," Silica continued. "Hey, can Liz-neesan come too?"
He sighed. "Yeah sure, whatever. Bring the whole town while you're at it..."
I was a little surprised that Silica had invited me, but really I should have guessed this would happen. Ever since she found out I had a crush on Kirito she had become obsessed with the subject. I occasionally even considered actually going out with him just so she would drop it.
"So, where and when are we meeting you then?" I asked.
"Uhh, tomorrow morning on floor 52?" He stopped and thought for a second. "No, 51..."
That little voice spoke up again. "Why? What's wrong with floor 52?"
"Most of the mobs on floor 52 are pretty easy, but it's not hard to get separated, so if we did 51 it would be easier to stick together," I replied.
Kirito gave me a curious look. "I'm surprised you know that, Liz."
"What, you think I spend every day holed up in my shop? I do have some free time, you know." Actually, the only reason I knew was because there was an item that I had teamed up with a group of other smiths to get on that floor, but I wasn't going to tell him that.
He shrugged. "I just didn't think..."
"What? You didn't think what?"
"Nothing," he responded sheepishly.
Silica was practically bouncing up and down. "So? What are we going to be doing? Where are we going? Is it pretty? Can we get food? I hope there's – mhf!"
I put my hand over her mouth and started pulling her away. "Come on Silica, let's leave him alone now..."
Kirito smiled at us and waved. "See you tomorrow then," he called out as he walked off.
I looked down at Silica as she managed to struggle out of my arms. "Geez Liz, that was mean..."
I crossed my arms and blew a strand of hair out of my face. "You were bothering him."
"But he agreed"
"Only because you pushed him! You need to be less..." I trailed off, looking for a word to describe my friend.
Silica turned her back to me. "You're just frustrated because he doesn't like you."
I felt my cheeks heating up. "I am not!"
"Sure you are." She looked back and grinned. "And now you're blushing."
I didn't want to deal with her anymore. Besides, I had work to do. "I'm going home."
"See you tomorrow!" She gave me a wave which would normally be cute, but right now was just irksome. I stormed off angrily.
She was right though, I was frustrated, but more with myself than with Kirito.
The little girl skipped ahead of me towards the boy leaned against a pillar, her chestnut twintails bouncing up and down as she ran across the pavement of the teleport platform.
He turned and saw us. "Morning Silica. Liz," he said, waving to us as we approached.
"Sorry we're late," I said apologetically. As excited as we both were, Silica had slept in, and I had wanted to look over my gear before we left. We had managed to make the generally accepted move-out time of approximately 9:30, but I knew that Kirito liked to be out earlier.
Kirito, as always, seemed to know immediately what I was thinking about. "It's okay Liz, where we're headed doesn't have any uncommon monsters, and the drop rates aren't very good either. We won't have much in the way of competition." He looked around; the small crowd that always appeared around the teleport gate had started to disperse. "That said, we should get going."
"Yay!" Silica punched the air. "Let's go!"
We started off into the fields surrounding the gate, me and Kirito trailing a little behind the ever-energetic Silica. Floor 51 was one of your standard, mostly flat, semi-forested areas. It was very open, so as long as you stayed out of the woods, you could see mobs coming a mile away. Perfect for what we were doing.
"Hey, guys," Silica said, turning back to us. "Don't we need a party name, or something?"
"How about the Doomed to Fail Group?" I proposed, only half joking.
"I think we'd be better off going with something more along the lines of Constantly Irritated Bunch." Kirito replied.
"Aww, come on, be serious... we need to think of something."
After ten minutes of alternating thoughtful silence and bothering the girl, who I had started to see as our mascot, Kirito had suggested The Mediocre Mates. Since it was better than anything the two of us could come up with, so our makeshift party was officially created.
Said party's first encounter came in the form of possibly the most anticlimactic monster in the game – a giant mole. Most people thought they were intended to be relatively difficult to kill, because they could burrow underground and pop up right underneath you, but once the clearers discovered a glitch which made it completely unable to move, it became the single most farmed mob in the game in under a day. It did at least make up for the mind-numbingly boring combat by dropping crafting materials, although the sheer number of them fought meant that moleskin was dirt cheap.
Just as we finished dividing up the drops, I heard a tearing sound, and turned to see a second mole crawling out of the ground. I hefted my mace and got into position beside Kirito.
"Oh great, here we go again..."
"Uwaaaghh, I'm tired." Silica sat down and stretched her arms, before closing her eyes and falling back onto the ground. "I didn't realize that fighting was this much work..."
"Oh, it's not that bad," I said. Actually, I was exhausted too, and how Kirito seemed to be fine even after several hours was a mystery to me. He was still just standing there holding his two swords, looking around to see if there were any more monsters near us. How the hell could he not be tired yet?
I sat down next to Silica and ruffled her hair gently. She smiled and shuffled closer to me, wrapping her arms around my waist. "I'm just going to go to sleep now, okay?"
"Hey!" I laughed and shook her shoulder. "You can't sleep here, doofus. Go home already."
She slowly stood up and looked around sheepishly. Her hair was all messed up from rolling around, so I quickly tidied it up.
"Thanks Liz!" she said, and yawned widely.
Kirito moved to leave. "You want us to walk you back?"
"Naw, I'll be fine," the girl responded, "it's only like five minutes, and I can take care of myself well enough."
Kirito looked confused. "Then why did you need me to come with you then?"
"Cause I wanted to spend the day with you two, of course!" She smiled sweetly, then turned away. "Anyways, I'll be going then. See you guys!" She skipped off down the path, surprisingly energetic for someone who had just been complaining about being tired a few minutes ago. After a bit she turned back and waved, before continuing on her way.
I kept sitting for a little while, but soon decided to get Mr Bonehead's attention. "Hey, are we just going to stay here for the rest of the day, or do you want to do something?"
He looked at me and shrugged. "I guess this is kind of a waste of time. What do you want to do?"
"Well, we could go get something to eat." I stood up and nodded in the direction Silica had left.
Kirito got to his feet as well and started back to the platform. "That sounds good, I know a pretty good place, and the guy there likes me, so we should get a pretty good price too."
"Awesome. I haven't had much business the last few days, so I'm kinda broke..."
We continued walking down the dirt path, which passed along the edge of a thick pine forest. I was actually pretty excited; I hadn't gotten to spend time alone with Kirito for a long time. Maybe this could be my – nononononono! I clamped my eyes shut and shook my head, trying to expel the thought from it. I had decided, hadn't I? I couldn't take him from Asuna...
Kirito noticed what I was doing and looked over at me. "Are you alright?"
Damn it, stop being nice to me! I looked up and smiled at him. "Yep, what would I have to be upset about? I'm absolutely fine!" Yeah, as if. I felt a sudden urge to grab him, to pull him to me and – and what? Cry into his shoulder? No way, I was Lisbeth, the smith. I was stronger than this.
I sped up, pulling ahead of him. "Come on, it's starting to get dark. We don't want to get caught out here at night."
I heard him following, but kept my eyes focused on the teleport gate just coming into view ahead of us. I wouldn't look back. Although, maybe if I had, I would have seen the figure walking through the trees, silently matching our pace.
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