For Littlewhitemouse

For some, a vacation to Japan would be a special event. Experiencing an old but colorful nation with a rich history and even richer culture, seeing the beautiful lands, maybe visit a shrine or two…

For him, though? It was… not exactly as great of an experience as it should have been. Namely, because he had eaten some bad sushi, and was having some trouble actually doing anything because his stomach was giving him so many issues.

Leonard Carter (or just Leo to friends and family) laid in the hotel room, gazing out the window to the Tokyo skyline. He was alone, mindlessly trying to figure out what to do while his parents were off having a day to themselves. It was meant to be a family vacation, but because of his stomach problems, he was forced to stay behind today while they went to go and enjoy themselves. They only had a few more days here, so no point in wasting time when the only thing he could do was wait for the medicine to do its job.

Too bad the only thing he had to occupy his time was a NerveGear that, at the moment, was decidedly worthless.

"Figures. It's launch day, and I can't even go out to get a copy," he lamented as he turned his head to look ruefully at the helmet that sat tauntingly on the desk. If the news was any indication, this was one of the fastest selling games of all time; every retailer having already sold out in mere minutes. It was niche enough to all but guarantee that anyone with a NerveGear would be lining up to buy the first major release of the headset.

And here he was, too sick to even stand up. It almost seemed like cruel fate.

When he learned his dad was taking them on a trip to Japan, he had dedicated so much time to learn Japanese, had gotten enough cash to buy Sword Art Online, and was ready to be one of the first to experience a real NerveGear game. He was so damn excited that this situation felt almost as comical as it was tragic.

How long would he have to wait for it to come to the States? How much longer would this damn helmet remain the world's most expensive paperweight?

Damn it, in his enthusiasm he'd completely neglected to think what to do if this happened. No other games were brought, and mobile games got old rather quickly. He rolled onto his back, looking away from the stupid helmet and silently ruing his lack of foresight for this trip. He had only been planning on getting Sword Art Online and spending the rest of the time enjoying the trip. He had never even considered the idea that he would get bedridden, otherwise he would have packed something else he could have entertained himself with. The Soul Series would have been a good pick, because those were games with near infinite re-playability… sort of.

Leo enjoyed that particular bunch; he loved playing with new builds, trying to speedrun the game, and PVP always felt much fairer than most other games he played.

Even just thinking about those games gave him a small smile. He still remembered the day he managed to cheese Gwyn, Lord of Cinders, by parrying him. He was about to rage-quit after hours upon hours of pain, when a panic parry led to him getting a critical on the boss and beating the game.

Good times.

He closed his eyes and imagined playing them when he got back. While SAO would have to wait, the Souls series would be waiting for him…

While he waited, he got out his phone. A quick YouTube search later, and the calm and soothing voice of a Loremaster began to lull him into a nap.

"In the age of fire, there were four knights that distinguished themselves above all others…"

That boy's dreams were filled with dreams of being in Dark Souls, facing down demons and gods alike to link the fire and end the curse.

A knock on the door got him up.

"Hey bud," he heard his dad say as he and his mom entered with some takeout. "How're you feeling?"

He pushed himself up into a sitting position. "Not as bad as when you left, but not good either," the boy replied, and that much was true. Hopefully by tomorrow he would be able to get back to enjoying the vacation, rather than laying in bed all day. "What's that?" he asked, curious as to what they had gotten for dinner.

His dad took out a bowl of noodles. "Your mom found this great ramen place while we were out, and we agreed we would grab you some for you on our way back," he said as he passed the bowl. On top of it was something Leo had all but written off as a lost cause, and his eyes widened as he read the game case's title.

'Sword Art Online'.

"I… When… How?" he asked, dumbfounded at the small case that sat in his lap.

It was mom's turn to smile. "Well, we knew how much you wanted it. I never saw someone show such dedication to learn an entirely new language just for a game," she began, and with no small amount of parental pride in her voice continued, "Six Months ago I heard you were struggling with Spanish, and now you can speak Japanese. My Baby is so smart!"

"We had planned on surprising you with it earlier today. I had to convince all my co-workers to help reserve a copy in order to make sure we had one ready for when we arrived," he explained, chuckling slightly. "I'm pretty sure our workplace got IP banned from the SAO website."

The smile Leo had nearly split his face in half. "I'm gonna-"

"Eat your dinner first, then you can play." His mother's quick interjection got him to set the game aside and start eating.

Despite his now almost fluent understanding of Japanese, the handling of chopsticks remained an elusive skill. So, as heretical as it was, he used a fork for the noodles. They vanished into his mouth as if he were inhaling rather than eating, the contents of the bowl quickly ending up in his stomach as he then focused all his attention on setting up the NerveGear to finally start playing.

It took mere moments to set up the game, and finally the helmet was on his head. He allowed his mind to relax as the machine booted up.

"Link Start."

With two simple words, the game began, a colorful tunnel filling the boy's vision.

After spending some time setting up a new account, he finally reached the last stage of the set-up. All he had to do was simple; choose his appearance and enter his name.

The former was something he thought looked cool: a pair of red and blue heterochromatic eyes, white hair swept back, a black stubble… Overall, it looked like something a fifteen-year-old would come up with. If he ever got bored with this look, he could always change it later, couldn't he?

He gave himself a good once over, satisfied with his look. He moved on to entering in his username, which was where he encountered a slight issue.

What should he call himself? Should it be a joke name, or a serious one?

After thinking about it for a good while, Leo finally had an idea and gave himself the name Xx_Lionheart_xX.

Once that was done, the world shattered around him, and he saw the gates to SAO's first town, or at least what he assumed was the first town. At the very least he was in the spawning area, given that he was among dozens, maybe hundreds, of other people spawning just like him.

But that wasn't even the main focus of his attention… as he inhaled a deep breath of fresh air, smelled the wind as it blew and couldn't fight the smile that dawned on his face. This… This was the future of Gaming, being able to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the digital world as if it were the genuine article… It was beyond amazing.

"Alright SAO, show me what you got," he said with a grin… only to realize something.

"What on earth is my build going to be?"

This is the fic I am writing for LittleWhiteMouse, it is based on another fic called SAO: The Darksign. We have already asked for permission to use the idea, and were given it.

That's all I really got to say here. I would have had this as a proper first chapter, but I was forbidden from doing that until my research on SAO was all done. Sorry, hopfully next chapter I can show you why this is a Dark Souls crossover.