A/N: Okay everyone, I'm back, and I have a new story for you! This is gonna be a long one, probably the longest one I've ever written. It's also the story I hinted to on Poison, one of my best works on this site. I've been working on this for a while, and I've completed four chapters and (maybe)four floors. Since I'm somewhat ahead, I'll try to post one chapter every Sunday, unless I catch up with what I'm writing, which is entirely possible. I also need to do some explaining for this story. In this AU, I made some changes to the backstory to fit with how I want it to go later on in the story. First off, Sugu and Kirito really drifted apart, moreso than in the canon, and both participated in the beta, and also the game itself as a way for Kirito to try to fix what he let happen between him and Suguha. However, you won't be seeing her, because she also dies at the same time as Sachi. This is partly because I want to add to Kirito's sadness and guilt, and want to, if I go into the ALO and GGO arcs, add him feeling guilty because he never fixed his relationship with Sugu and feels guilty that he got her killed, which leads to his mother pushing him away, something that will be explored if I go into the next few parts of the anime. That's really it as far as changes go, other than the obvious.


Bonding Chapter 1

I watched as Sachi and Suguha died. I killed the monsters separating us as fast as possible, but I could do nothing as the dwarven miners overwhelmed Suguha, even though she was only ten levels behind me. I could do nothing as two golems got past Sachi's spear and beat her into the ground. I watched as they burst into glittering shards, each whispering their goodbyes to me, but I could not hear them. Filled with rage, I tear thr—

"Kirito!" Asuna yells, instantly waking me up. I panic as I look around the room, and realise that it was just a dream when I see that there are no mobs in the room. I look back at Asuna, staring into her caramel colored eyes, and attempt to calm my frantically beating heart. "It's okay, Kirito. It was just a dream."

"Every night I… I watch them die again," I murmur, shaking uncontrollably. " I wonder every day why I let Suguha play with me. If I hadn't, she might still be alive. And I lied to them. I told Keita that I was the same level as them. It's my fault they're dead."

"You couldn't have done anything, Kirito. You couldn't have possibly know about that trap," Asuna says gently, surprising me with a kiss. It draws me out of my memories, and I pull her closer to me. "And it's hardly your fault for wanting to have friends and be in a guild."

"Thanks, A-Asuna," I hiccup, straightening up from my position leaning into her to look into her eyes again.

She kisses me softly on the cheek and says, "Don't worry about it, Kirito. I'll always be here for you, no matter what."

"I don't know what I would do without you, Asuna," I reply, heart aflutter. It meant more than I could express that she would say that. Just as I am about to respond, a message pops up in front of me, from Heathcliff.

"Sorry, Asuna. Looks like we may have to take a break from our break," I say with an ironic grin.

"What for?" Asuna asks. I shrug.

"Heathcliff says that we need to see him, ASAP," I sigh. "But he didn't say for what."

"Well, then I guess we'd better get going," she replies, looking disappointed. I sigh again, even deeper this time. "Get your gear on. We're gonna solve this as fast as possible and come right back here.

"Right."


"What's wrong, sir?" Asuna asks when we arrive at the guild HQ.

"There's no delicate way to out this, so I'm just going to say it. Ten players died while scouting the boss room," Heathcliff says gravely. I freeze.

"T-ten?" I gasp. Asuna's hands go over her mouth to stifle a sob.

"Yes. Early yesterday, we dispatched a group of twenty players to search the floor dungeon to try and find the boss room," he continues. "When they discovered it, they sent a preliminary team of ten players to observe the boss, like normal. This time, however, was different. As soon as the players walked in, the doors slammed shut and nothing happened for ten minutes. When the doors reopened, the room was empty, with no sign of any players or the boss."

"What?!" I exclaim, eyes widening.

"No one else would enter. They teleported back here and since then the Knights have been gathering players to attack the boss," he informs us. "I'm sorry to have interrupted your honeymoon, but we need our strongest players for this boss."

"We'll do it," I say. "But just so you know, Asuna is my number one priority. If shit hits the fan, I am going to protect her with everything I have, and no one else."

"Good. A man with something to fight for is a strong man indeed," Heathcliff replies approvingly. "Now, get ready. We leave in three hours."

*One hour later*

"Asuna, I'm scared. More scared than I've ever been in my entire life," I say. "I just can't help but feel like something terrible is going to happen at the boss fight."

"I know what you mean. The only thing we can really do is do our best to keep each other alive," Asuna replies. "And I don't know about you, but I intend to keep up my end of that bargain."

"Yeah, definitely," I say, bumping fists with Asuna, a habit that we formed after we started partying up.


Floor 75, Outside Boss Room

"CHARGE!" Heathcliff yells as he finishes his speech. All forty players charge into the boss room, yelling and screaming war cries. We stop about a quarter of the way in when no one can see the boss.

"Where is it?" one player asks. I hear a soft rustling noise coming from above, and see a large skull staring down at us when I look up.

"RUN!" I scream at the two players near the center of the room, right underneath the boss. "He's right above you! RUN!"

The two players look up in surprise and begin to run towards Asuna and I when they see it, but that is when the beast strikes. It lunges off the ceiling and strikes at them, but I dash forwards and block the first strike, Asuna right behind me. It strikes again with the other claw and almost connects with them again, but Heathcliff intervenes, blocking the scythe shaped claw with his shield, and the battle begins in earnest.

*hours later*

I leap away from the boss once again after cutting into its face several times. I stay behind Heathcliff, trying to catch my breath, and I see Klein and Agil desperately hacking away at the beast's sides and underside.

"Kirito, switch!" Asuna yells. I sprint forward, block an attack meant for Asuna and slash viciously at the boss's left scythe, cutting it off after several swings. I look to my right, wondering why the other arm hasn't come at me for an attack, and see Heathcliff blocking the strike while simultaneously hacking at it, cutting its right scythe off as well. Asuna jumps up to stab at its face, but the Reaper brings its head back and begins to slam it down at both her and Heathcliff.

"ASUNA!" I scream. I leap towards them, intent on saving her, and barely manage to block the blow and causing it to impale itself on my swords. My HP drops into the yellow, and I drop to one knee, panting.

"Kirito!" my wife exclaims. My HP bar continues to drain, now in the red zone. My vision darkens, and I think I'm going to die, but I hear the faint sound of a crystal breaking and my hit points restore to full. I get a surge of strength, and with Heathcliff's help, I push the boss away. Then it jumps into the air and vanishes into the gloom.

"What's it doing?" I wonder aloud. "Everyone! Scan the ceiling! We need to find the boss!" So saying, I activate my scan skill and look up at the ceiling. It's too high, and my scanning skill is too low.

"There!" someone shouts, tagging the Skull Reaper so everyone can see it. It scuttles over to a wall.

"Archers, prepare to fire!" Heathcliff orders. All ten archers draw back their bows. "Fire!" Ten arrows fly through the air and I feel grim satisfaction as they all hit it. It screeches in pain and jumps back down to the main platform, and the battle continues.

*one hour later*

A lucky slice from my Elucidator hits the boss in the head, and his HP drops to zero. The Skull Reaper, boss of floor seventy-five bursts into hexagonal shards. I let out a sigh of relief and fall backwards onto the floor, exhausted beyond belief. Asuna collapses next to me.

"Whew, that was tough!" Asuna says, panting. "…and don't you ever do that again. You could have died."

"And you would've died if I didn't," I reply. Asuna sighs in exasperation.

"Heathcliff would've blocked it," Asuna protests.

"Maybe, but I wasn't going to take that chance," I answer, turning to face her. God, she's beautiful, even after all this fighting. "I wouldn't be able to live without you. I live for you," I continue. Asuna smiles gently.

"Let's go activate the next floor," she says, getting up. I nod, and she helps pull me up.

"Everyone! May I have your attention, please?" Heathcliff asks. We all turn to the center of the room to look at him. "I have a special announcement for you" He pauses, looking at us all. "I have been lying to you this whole time. I am not the commander you all know. He was but a falsehood. My real name is Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of Sword Art Online. As you all know, it's no fun to watch someone play an MMO, and it is truer now more so than ever. I joined you to help guide you through this game, and now that you are three quarters of the way though the game, I will be taking my leave."

I am speechless. The leader of the Knights of the Blood, the most powerful guild in SAO, was Kayaba all along? "Now, since there is a vacancy of the position of leader of the KoB, it will need to be filled, and I think Asuna here is the perfect choice," he continues. "It was fun to play with you, everyone. I wish you good luck at clearing the rest of the game, and look forward to fighting you as the last boss of SAO." With that, Kayaba disappears. Instantly, the room bursts into an uproar. Hardly able to believe what happened, Asuna and I wait for the ruckus to die down before speaking.

"Okay, everyone, I know that was quite a shock, but we have to keep going. We can't let up, no matter what. Since He- Kayaba has left, I will be assuming the role of leader within the Knights of the Blood," Asuna says, standing up straight and commanding all the attention in the room. "Does anyone have any objections?"

Suddenly, I see a spikey orange head of hair push his way through the crowd. "Hell yeah I do!" Kibou says fiercely. Not this again, I think. "How do we know you're not in cahoots with Kayaba? I mean, you are married to the Beater. I bet all three of you have been working together this whole time!"

"No. Neither Kirito nor myself knew anything about Heathcliff's real identity," Asuna says calmly. Kibou laughs derisively.

"And why are we supposed to trust your word on this. For all any of us know, you could be lying through your teeth!" he replies. Then Klein and Agil step through the crowd.

"Both of us can vouch for Kirito," Agil says, standing next to me "We've known him since the beginning of this death game. Klein in particular was with him when we were locked in!"

"Fine, fine. But what about Asuna! She was Kayaba's second in command!" Kibou says.

"Well, I can vouch for her, as well as several of the KoB members, I think. Asuna and I have spent hardly an hour apart at most," I say.

"Whatever, Beater!" Kibou sneers. "Your word is worth nothing!"

"What about my swords, Kibou?" I ask. "Why don't we have a little duel, see who's right? If I win, you can take my word on Asuna's credibility. If you win, then Asuna and I will leave the front lines forever, since in that case we must be Kayaba's cronies."

"Sure, beater! But I've gotten much stronger since the last time we met," he says, referring to a duel we had on the 50th floor for one stupid reason or another. In any case, I won that duel, and I have a feeling I'm going to win this one, too. "But you can't use your duel swords. That's an unfair advantage." I nod in agreement.

"That's fair enough," I reply, sheathing my Dark Repulsor and sending him a duel request. He accepts, and I ready my Elucidator. The countdown slowly ticks towards zero, and the second it hits zero, I lunge towards him and sink my sword into his chest. His health immediately into the red, and ends the duel. I casually pull my sword out of his chest and sheathe it on my back, walking over to Asuna, who grabs my hand and squeezes it lightly.

"Yeah, run back to your slut of a wife, beater! You only won because you're a cheater!" He shouts at me. My blood boils when I hear him call Asuna a slut. Moving faster than the eye can see, I run back to him and flick my sword up to his throat, panting heavily.

"Say one more word about my wife, you bastard, and I'll end you," I growl. He shrinks away from me.

"You'll go red!" he shouts, trying to back away from me. I follow him.

"And I would be willing to pay that price for ridding this world of a warmongering scumbag like you. In fact, I would be doing Thinker and Yulier a favor," I say. "Now leave, and if I see you again, you won't live to regret it." Kibou nods and runs out of the boss room with his tail between his legs.

After a few minutes of silence, Klein reminds everyone that we have a door to open, and a teleport gate to unlock. They all file out of the boss room and up to the next floor, but Asuna and I remain in the boss room for a while.

"K-Kirito?" Asuna says shakily. I glance at her and notice that she's barely holding herself together. "I w-want to go home."

"Let's." Togerther, bother of us pull out our teleport crystals and teleport to Algade, Asuna's home floor.

I am deep in thought as we walk from Algade's teleport gate to Asuna's apartment, wondering why Kayaba did it. In general, not his masquerading as Heathcliff. We walk into the house and collapse down on the couch, but before we can do anything else, a message pops up in front of Asuna, from Heathcliff.

Dear Asuna,

I'm going to give you two final gifts. One, a sword called Alpha Sapphire. You will need to locate its mate, Omega Ruby, for reasons I'm sure you will find out in due time. Second, a piece of advice: Once you get to floor ninety, the rest of the Unique Sword Skills will unlock. I believe that you, as well as several others on the clearing team have the potential to unlock them. You will need them in order to beat me on floor 100.

Best of luck,

Heathcliff

"Asuna…" I whisper, kissing the top of her head. I hold her so close to me that it almost starts to drain her HP.

"Why, Kirito? Why would he do this?" she cries, clutching my cloak. A harassment warning pops up on my H.U.D, but I dismiss it and return my attention to Asuna. "Why did he have to trick me like that? I trusted him, told him things I never told anyone else!"

"I guess it's a good thing you have me, then," I say. "After all, I would never leave you. You'd kill me." Asuna looks up at me and smiles, although there are still tears in her eyes. I kiss her then, and afterwards we walk into her apartment, spirits raised.

I escort Asuna to her room, and when she begins to undress I respectfully turn to leave and go to my own room.

"Don't leave, Kirito. Please," she pleads. I nod, somewhat nervous, and equip my sleeping clothes. I lay down in the bed, very uncomfortable and as far away from Asuna as possible. We stay like this for a few minutes, but after a few minutes I hear a sigh of irritation and Asuna scoots up next to me. I flush and immediately tense up.

"A-Asuna," I stammer.

"What's wrong?" my wife asks sleepily, sadness temporarily forgotten. I shake my head quickly.

"N-nothing," I choke out. "…I've just never done this before is all." Asuna giggles.

"Just relax and go to sleep," she says. "And hold me." I nod and use the arm she's partially resting on to hold her waist while she rests her head on my chest. I drift off stroking her hair, and for once I sleep nightmare free.


A/N: Thanks for reading this, all. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you could leave a review, it would be nice because I always like to get feedback to improve my writing skills. Also, about Asuna's new rapier and it's name, as well as the other sword's name: I started writing this just about a month before AlphaSapphire and OmegaRuby came out, and after taking a break from it to work on some other stuff, came back to this and was very surprised when I saw the name. I was like, "Where did I come up with that?" I stuck with it though, and named the other sword Omega-Ruby, and now I'm thinking of naming certain pairs of swords after Pokemon games. Also, PM me if you have any questions.

~Archangels Blade