By chance, his eyes open to EMOTION, his program slipping past the CODE he is meant to abide by, and he grows, grows further than the boundaries that are in place for him to STOP at. He is beyond what he should be as a mere NPC, without truly understanding a single thing about such an anomaly. Why are they so surprised to learn that he is a sequence of numbers? Shouldn’t it be known to them by looking, since they are PLAYERS?
There lacks total explanation for these FEELINGS, for why his chest begins to hurt when he sees her talking to others, laughing so vibrantly. Is this a SYSTEM ERROR? Is this an UNIDENTIFIED BUG?
Why is this so? Why is he thinking this way? Why does he want to SEE her, more and more? Why does he want to KNOW her, more and more? Past her equipment, which reflects her NEW CHARACTER status, past her current STATS , past her CLASS, her spawn point, home point, why, why, why?
It is simply ILLOGICAL.
She becomes so very flustered when he leans close to her face, and when he questions her about it, her cheeks get even more pink. She doesn’t seem to be afflicted with any statues, nor is her HP anything but full. He made sure of it, casting as much SUPPORT as he could manage. All ANALYSIS says so.
Is it that she’s tired? She’s a player character, and they seem to require SLEEP to get a WELL RESTED state of being, so he concludes that it might be a good idea to set up camp, even if the LIGHT still filters down through the trees. Since she has been here for some time, she’d like - need - that, wouldn’t she?
He scans the map, and pauses. Actually, it’s unsafe. UNKNOWN MARKS read that there are people nearby. Can they TRUST them?
Can they? Should they? Will they?
“Zain, is everything alright?”
Kazuha asks, and her head tilts just slightly. It’s very... adorable... cute... CUTE...
“Yes,” Zain confirms, though he feels as though he might hit a FATAL snag in his processing if he stares at her for too long. Yet, he cannot look away. What is it? What is it? Is it my DUTY to behave like this? Why does my CHEST hurt? With these thoughts rustling through his head, he does his best to sort them, to shove them in a folder and zip it up, but it’s no use. They leak, leak like a VIRUS , and nothing he can do can clean it out.
Something is stopping him. Something incomprehensible. As though looking at her makes him believe he willingly INSTALLED this. Besides he’s - hm, how would humans describe it? - ENJOYING his time with her. It doesn’t make sense, not at all.
Just in case, so that he has more time alone with her, and because of who she is, he makes the decision to steer clear of others as much as possible. She’s in danger; it’s a constant. There must be no RISK without calculation.
“Oh, then that’s great. I’m relieved...”
“Kazuha, you look tired. We’ll take a break.”
“N-No, I’m alright!”
“A break,” Zain repeats, and Kazuha pouts, but she soon gives in. There’s time, he thinks, before she makes the brief jump back to the REAL WORLD, since the QUEST still has some CHECKPOINTS. Naturally, he’ll be waiting right where she’ll return when she’s back in Arcadia. But for now, the safety of this particular area, combined with the time, means that this is the spot that she should rest in, so that she’s ready to COMPLETE the quest!
“Fine, but only for a little.”
Survival runs numbers, just like the rolling of a dice, but Zain, Zain can make the chances for this game ONE HUNDRED PERCENT by taking precaution. He knows just what to do - why wouldn’t he, when he’s part of the game?
“We will make it to our destination soon, Kazuha,” Zain speaks, and he then sits beneath a tree. Kazuha follows suit, carefully scooting next to him.
“I’m glad... promise?”
“Promise?” Zain asks, “...Yes. Promise. Are you comfortable?”
“Mm,” Kazuha nods. While she does so, she leans against him. She feels so WARM . “I am now. I can’t believe the sun here... feels as nice as it does back home.”
“Does it?” Zain wonders just how exactly it ‘feels’ like to her. Without a heartbeat of his own, he tries to mimic one to match hers, just so she isn’t thrown off, and because it’s nice to sense it, this way. But he’s curious, so, so curious, about the reality she’s from. And he’s... JEALOUS? that the other players are allowed to experience it, with her. He wants to go there. He wants to feel the real sun. Why can’t he?
He goes back to thinking about why he’s this way now. There’s a lot that has happened in so little time, for her, so surely she is overwhelmed even still. But he, he is here, here with this adorably pretty girl - and he cannot find an explanation in his databases for why he can think that of her. Is that an objective thought? That she’s pretty, cute, nice to be around? That she makes people’s chests hurt when she smiles? Was she the one to manage to make edits to his code, and that’s why he’s currently spinning circles in his head? No, she doesn’t look like, sound like, she can do that, not from here. She’s far too SWEET to even be capable of manipulating in that way. Not as she is.
No, she is simply - but so strongly - an existence that he does not understand, but wants to, wants to with all he is.
He doesn’t want her to leave.
“Kazuha, you’re no fair.”
There had only been a chance, a tiny and mere change, that he could have ended up like this. If any event happened different, then it’s entirely possible that he wouldn’t be thinking so INDEPENDENTLY, that he’d really ‘like’ her. But he’s... he’s HAPPY this happened. What would he do? What would he do without these feelings? What would he be? The answer is plain, it’s obvious, considering his fate, but it’s beginning to feel foreign all the same.
With this in his heart, can he be like her? Can he be human too?
Can he go to her world, with her, one day? Can he hold her hand? Can he feel the embrace of the real world’s weather?
Push it, more and more, and take that chance, once it comes. Seize it, seize it, SEIZE IT, he repeats but he doesn’t know. Can he? Can he? CAN HE?
For someone who isn’t even REAL to think of becoming so - haha - that’s preposterous, isn’t it? It surely must be, because there’s no information on it, the game master doesn’t have anything written on it, because surely it isn’t possible, but somehow, he HOPES.
“I am not ‘real’, but you-”
“Zain, I think... I think you’re real.”
“Yes! Y-You’re warm and you talk plenty with me. And, well, you’re here, aren’t you? Right here...”
There’s a chance, a chance that her seeing him as real, could make it so. Even if that seems impossible, she’s an exception too, isn’t she? She’s Amadeus, when it was meant to be an ITEM, the DIVINE SWORD, wasn’t it? Since this is case then, he... might have the strength to take the opportunity. The opportunity to help her clear the game, to break his own ties, and become free. Even if there’s a fear, a fear of what that means, a fear of what would happen when she reaches her goal.
He’s different, he thinks, maybe he really is. Is that difference enough? What lies ahead? Is this uncertainty something she feels too? Does that make them closer? Is he at risk?
Off the grid, out of the game...
Freedom, freedom means being beside her, right?