Chapter 1: The Return
A heavy haze of drowsiness had clouded up in his head. He could feel it lifting, but he couldn't find the strength to wake up. He heard a knock on the door as someone opened his door. He pretended to sleep as he felt a small hand lightly hold his own.
"Onii-san, I'll be going to practice now, so I'll be home somewhere around five, okay?" said his little sister. He didn't bother to answer as she left his room, closing the door gently. It was always like this. If he was sleeping, his sister wouldn't dare to forcefully wake him up because she knew her brother wouldn't be really awake until half an hour later.
Once he heard the gate close outside, he forced himself to get up; remembering a promise he made to someone. His world blurred as he slowly blinked his eyes open. It took him awhile, but he was finally able to sit up without having the urge to throw up. He stared at the clock, having a bit of trouble reading it.
Sighing in exasperation at the ache in his left leg, he picked up the NervGear sitting on his night stand. Inside was a game that was given to him as a gift. A gift that could let him do things he could never do in reality. He smiled and put on the NervGear. Lying down again, he took a deep breath.
"Link start!" came his voice in a slightly strained voice. He closed his eyes and gave a tiny smile.
A black-haired young man opened his eyes and smiled. He looked down to his hands and clenched them closed.
"Finally, I'm back." he muttered. He took off in a jog, passing all the players roaming around. He quickly bought a sword along with some potions and quickly headed to the gates.
"Hey! Hey, you!" called a voice behind him. He stopped and saw a man with red hair and a red headband run up to him. He waited for him to catch up. "You look like you know you're way around. Can you help me out? I'm a new at this whole NervGear thing. I'm Klein!"
Klein held out his hand as a gesture to shake it. The black-haired adult smiled a bit and hesitantly shook his hand. "Y-yeah...I'm Kirito. I guess I can help you out..."
Kirito choked down a laugh as he watched Klein hit the ground with a loud thump. The boar growled and ran the other direction.
"Focus more on the way you move." Kirito advised as he watched his party member curse at the wild boar. He shook slightly as he stood.
"How can I? It keeps moving!" complained Klein. Kirito thought for a second.
"Well, think about it. In real fighting, things are always moving." Kirito said as he picked up a stone and tossed it up, swinging his hand to catch it. He pulled his arm back and got into a position of a sword skill and threw the pebble at the boar, clearly angering it.
"How'd you do that?!" asked Klein. Kirito dodged the boar heading his way as he answered.
"It's called a sword skill. The system detects our movements. Once you get into a position of a sword skill, the system will act accordingly. Meaning, it'll hit the target for you...ish." he explained, smiling all the while. He saw Klein slightly confused face. "Just think about your first movement."
"Movement....." Klein muttered. Kirito watched the boar run off before turning around to attack him again. He smiled lightly.
"It's like gathering your energy and releasing it. You try."
Klein watched him side step the boar with ease, leading toward him. "O-oi! Already?!"
He quickly got into a fighting stance and moved into a sword skill. His cutlass in his right hand shone orange; the system recognized his sword skill.
"Hooorrraaaah!!!" was Klein's battle cry as he rushed forward and slashed the mad boar in half. It shattered a second later.
"Yes! I did it!" yelled Klein, doing a fist pump in victory. Kirito shook his head in amusement.
"Congrats, Klein," Kirito said, placing his hands on his hips. "Just keep in mind that its as strong as those first dungeon monsters."
Klein laughed. "Haha, I thought it was a boss." He sat down and looked to the side. "But I can't believe that we're <in a game>. It feels so real."
Kirito forced a smile. "Yeah, it's really hard for me to believe it, too. Is this your first time in <Full Dive>?"
"Yup," replied Klein. "I just got the Nerve Gear after getting Sword Art Online. I probably got lucky. You must have a ton of luck to have been one of the beta testers. Only a thousand, right?"
Kirito suddenly felt irritation stir, but it definitely wasn't directed at Klein. He forced it down and cleared his throat. "Yeah, only a thousand. But it was...ah...different for me."
Klein raised his eyebrows. "Different? How?"
Kirito stared past him and put on an apathetic look. "To put it simply, I wasn't given the game randomly. I was forced to play. I rather not say what happened."
Silence came over the two as they watched to sun set. Klein was the first to break it.
"I don't want to be imposing but do you have any family?" asked Klein. Kirito bit his lip for a second, debating whether or not to answer.
"Ah... I have my younger sister and mother living with me." answered Kirito, after much thought.
"A little sister? Is she here too? Is she cute?"
Kirito raised his hands up in defense as Klein bombarded him with several questions about his sister.
"Ah...she isn't into games like us...." Kirito half whispered to Klein. Klein gave Kirito an odd look before sighing.
"Ah, but you're lucky." said Klein, watching the sun set in the distance. "I'm living alone."
Kirito blinked. "And you're telling me this because...?"
Klein got up and shrugged. "Don't know. I just felt like telling you. Come to think of it, do you wanna meet my friends?"
Kirito didn't answer. He frowned and took a step back. Klein got the message though. He stood up and smiled.
"Maybe some other time, then?" said Klein. Kirito nodded, looking away.
"Sorry. I'm not used to actually taking to people other than my sister, mother, and two others. But thank you." he said.
"I should be thanking you for helping me out, Kirito. So, thanks." Klein said. "Well, I gotta go soon. My pizza's going to be here by 5:30."
He glanced to his bottom right. Most likely checking the time. Kirito did the same realizing that he needed to log out soon.
"Same here--er, not the pizza part. I mean, I have to log out soon, too." said Kirito as he scratched the back of his head. Klein smiled and held out his hand. Kirito nervously shook it.
"Nice meeting you, Kirito," said Klein with a smile. "I hope we'll meet again real soon."
Kirito nodded, "I hope so too."
They let go of each other's hands and turned around. Kirito took a couple steps forward and opened his menu. He scrolled through a couple things and, as if it was a habit, scrolled down to the <LOG OUT> bu--
Kirito froze when he heard Klein's voice.
"Hey, Kirito? Where's the <LOG OUT> button...?"
Kirito's heart began to race a mile per second and he knew that he had to calm down. His breaths came in short and his head seemed to be spinning. He quickly dismissed the menu and clutched his chest, forcing himself to calm down.
"C-check again," he said. His voice sounded forced and caused Klein to look his way.
"You alright?" asked Klein with concern. Kirito nodded and immediately dropped his hand and forced to breath normally.
"Yes, I'm fine. Try and call the GM. Maybe he'll help us out." Kirito suggested, changing the subject.
"I am now, but I don't think he's answering." Klein walked over to Kirito and placed a hand in his shoulder. "Are you sure you're alright?"
Kirito resisted the urge to brush Klein's hand away from him. "Can you stop that? You sound like my mo--"
He wasn't able to finish his sentence when a white light surrounded them both. Klein's grip on his shoulder tightened.