“An albino….” Kirito leaned over her shoulder to read the page, eyes widening. “No. They didn’t.”
Asuna stifled a snicker. “They did.”
“But… smoke, it’s living in a volcano, scorch marks-!”
“White dragon,” Asuna said gleefully. “They came wrapped in cold resistance.”
“Of their fate we shall say no more,” Kirito read out loud, “save that when the cowardly – but far wiser – hoard thief Aurum Plainsrider crept within the dragon’s lair, he narrowly avoided death in a cunningly-placed pit trap, treacherously filled with the glassy shards of,” the swordsman couldn’t help but snicker, “broken ketchup bottles….”
She ended up hanging onto his shoulder as they both broke out laughing. “W-we… this really isn’t funny….”
“Crispy-fried knights.” Kirito’s shoulders shook. “I wonder if they peel like shrimp?”
“You’re horrible!” She’d been thinking exactly that. Anybody who assumed a mob had one set of abilities when all the clues Kayaba had left in the game said it had another-
“No I’m not. And neither are you.” Kirito smiled at her, quiet and serious. “We lost most people that stupid in the first month. Lucky for us.”
Asuna stiffened. “Lucky-!”
“If you think you know what you’re doing, and you don’t, people are going to die.” Kirito stepped back, looking away. “If you’re lucky, you’re the only one that dies.”
Which sounded like something Kirito knew. And the pain under those words squeezed her heart, especially when she knew that set of shoulders meant, said too much, moving on to go find monsters to kill–
Impulsively, she gripped his wrist. Saw alarm flash over his face, and looked down, where a black sleeve was caged in sapphire claws.
Claws. Asuna swallowed, throat dry. He’s human. Why would he want me to touch him?
What else did she expect? She didn’t know herself in the mirror; how could he see the girl who’d helped him kill Illfang?
I should just go–
This time, he caught her hand.
What do I do?
“Fuurinkazan is something else,” Kirito said quietly. “They got Issin through his change. When Kunimittz was bitten by a werewolf, they helped him hang on until I got there with healing herbs. When Klein was bitten… even as a turned weretiger, he held on. He kept himself from attacking, just long enough. I don’t think he could have done that if he didn’t trust them. Care about them. That guild is special.” Black eyes met hers for one shy instant. “Isn’t there one person in the Knights that cares about you?”
A/N: Because that old D&D story of the albino red dragon is just too good to pass up….