My Worth

By Flying Star

Disclaimer: I sent the request, but got a big red exclaimation point for my efforts. In other words, I don't own Code Lyoko.

So sorry for the long wait, but here's the sequel to " Sleep Doesn't Come Easy". Now a few things to get out of the way first. The person talking here has, like Jeremie, some thoughts on her life. It will come to a point where the stories mesh and we get her thoughts on Jeremie's words, and the impact on her. And oh yes, I forgot to say that the time frame seasonwise is directly after "False Start".

Will it end happily or not, I won't say. A hint is the genre. ' Points up'. The end may surprise you. My thanks to the reviewers of "Sleep..." for wanting me to continue. And there may be more, see end notes for details.

Quiet, silent...dead.

The description fits the area perfectly. For it, like the others, is devoid of XANA's presence. Empty, save for her.

Staring out sullenly at her vast surroundings, a barely audible sigh escapes her lips.

Worthless...useless. Words not normally said nor associated with her. But that's how she feels at the moment, thought she can't truely say she wants to feel this way.

But a new emotion has set it's claws in her...depression. She can't help it, it comes with discovering just how artificial her world is. How much things have changed since she first had a taste of the real world.

And knowing that her very existence hinged entirely on XANA's. If it were to die, she would as well. A simple movement of the shutdown switch is all it would take.

Having her very life dictated by another, it did more than just depress her, it frustrates her as well.

Her life falling into a complicated spiral. Actions on a predetermined course, set to send her on a path of uncertainty. Salvation or oblivion.

Though truely, would she really be missed if she was deleted? Or would the memory of her fade away as time went on? She didn't have an absolute answer. Yes, he would tell her otherwise, but even that comfort can't push away this crushing feeling of despair.

So close, so close to finally ending the nightmare that held her, only to have the hope torn away in an instant, marred by XANA's dark influence. It's virus holding her hostage, keeping her rooted to her home. A place that showed her just how different she is from the rest of them.

She plucked a few threads from her shirt sleeve, watching as the detached strands flicker. Their code, no longer able to stay together, dissolving into a line of 1s and 0s before vanishing. Not real, just processed information.

Like her.

Forest, Mountain, Desert, Polar. Each area had it's own unique structure, but in the end they're all the same.

Even now she can see the seams connecting the various parts of the Mountain region. Her gaze seeing her world for what it really is, just a collection of computer code, as she is. She can't deny it, as much as she wants to.

Her time in his world showed her that.

A small frown appears. His world, it's completely different from her. So rich with sensory information, that her world lacks.

In his world the air moves, dancing around her body with promises of new scents and feelings, both frightening and exciting.

Whereas in her world, the air is perpetually still, no breeze, no smells. Just placid sterility.

In his world she could feel the warmth of the sun on her face, and taste the cold sweetness of ice cream.

Here, artificial light brought brightness to her world, but not warmth. And since her virtual body has no need for nourishment, taste is but a distant memory.

She reached down, grabbing a few loose stones from the ground. Though her sensors tell her she's holding rocks, she can't feel them, no texture, no roughness, nothing. Her other hands drifts to her chest, placing her fingers where he had shown her before.

While in his world, she'd felt the rhythmic thumping of her heart pulsing against her palm. Here, there's no sensation, the absence of touch so sharply missed as she removes her hand from her chest.

Did she even have a heartbeat in her world? Or is she as dead as the air around her?

The thought only depresses her further.

Did her friends really think they're helping a living being whenever they enter Lyoko? Or can they see the pixels, the codes making up her body?

She feels more like burden to them, than anything of use. True, she's the only one who can deactivate the towers. But her lack of offensive capabilities almost always made it neccesary for him to send in one of his friends to accompany her, to protect her.

Secretly she hates this feeling of helplessness. She wants...to protect them as they did her.

Funny how one's perception of things can be skewed so easily. Not long ago she was content to live in her world. Blissfully unaware of the many splendors just outside her reach. Now, she wondered just what her purpose is anymore. Is she really little more than a tool to prevent armaggedon? Would she ever be able to have a life outside these false walls, or would she be forever trapped?

That last thought made her pause. Now that she had friends, could she bear watching them die, while she continued 'living' in her world? If XANA wasn't defeated, and the virus continued to dwell within her, would it be best to have the last one alive just pull the plug?

Strangely enough, the thought of her possible deletion no longer fills her with a sense of dread, as she figured it would. Instead, she feels calm. Maybe it would come to that, and why should she complain? After all, it's not like she's alive.

After a brief moment, she shook her head. Yes, not alive, not even real. She wasn't born of their world, her past a mystery. Did she even have 'parents', as he had described. Or is she merely just a product of Lyoko?

Just what is her worth to the world, both worlds?

Truthfully, she has no answers.

She sat down, crosslegged, brushing a stray hair from her eyes as she reached out through the network, finding the familar line to his system. She didn't have them, but maybe he would have the answers she seeked.

Closing her eyes, she slowly traversed the physical plane, only to be greeted by a wall of darkness. Hmm, his computer's on standby, meaning he's either in class or that it's late at night. Normally she'd turn around, waiting for later time to try to contact him.

But for reasons she's unsure of, she continues on, using her abilities to manipulate his webcamera. She did feel guilty for intruding, but again something was telling her that she needed to be there. Within moments, the formally dark space before her optics lightens up, his room coming into focus.

Yes, Jeremie is there, sitting in front of the monitor. But his eyes are downcast, his gaze on his hands, rather than the screen. She peers closer through the electronic eye of the webcam. Odd, he appears to be talking to someone, and from what she can see, he doesn't look pleased.

A quick scan of the room, however, reveals no one else in the vicinity, just Jeremie.

Very strange.

Curiosity gets the better of her as she now manipulates the sound system, turning on the computer's speakers. A simple listen couldn't hu...

" NO!"

The sudden outburst from Jeremie is enough to startle her into losing her focus, her control of the visual and audio link wavering for a moment, before she regains control.

Just in time for her to realize that he's speaking again, gesturing angrily at...himself? Is it normal for humans to talk to themselves?

" Aelita is real, I know she is!"

Aelita again loses her focus, her link to the audio temporarily broken after hearing Jeremie defend her...existance?

No, she must be mistaken. Simple logic dictates that one made of virtual components cannot be, as he put it, real. She must have misheard him, an error in the audio. Yes, that had to be it.

Reastablishing the sound and watching as his head raises to monitor level, she feels a sense of pity for him, he looks tired. She can see the exhaustion on his face as he continues his one-sided conversation.

" There's always a choice. I won't send them in if things become too dangerous."

She watches as the expression on his face swiftly changes from thoughtful to angry again, the fingers of his visible hand tightening into a fist.

" Because I know what they'll do. They'll destroy Lyoko, which will kill Aelita. Or they'll download her and poke and prod at every inch of her code. They will treat her like a computer anomaly, rather than a living being."

Again he's talking as if she is of his world, as if she's alive. It doesn't make sense. Surely he must realize that for her to be real, she'd have to be human? And while she's here, she's far from human.

Turning back to the screen, she's aware of a growing redness on Jeremie's cheeks. The anger is gone, replaced by a look of fear? His eyes looking anywhere but on the screen as he stutters on an unheard, at least to her audio sensors, question. What is he afraid of? She leans forward, feeling that something important is about to happen.

She couldn't of been more right, as Jeremie's gaze locks with the blank screen, defiance settling on his features as he announces rather loudly. " Okay, okay, I admit it, I love her!"

This time she does fully lose the connection, her 'body' reeling back as she absorbs the meaning of his words. He said he loves her! She can hardly believe it, to actually hear him say those three words, words that she had secretly hoped to hear ever since she first laid eyes on him. He loves her, he loves...

...something that isn't real.

The realization hits her like a sack of bricks, her feelings of elation evaporating as she looks down at her hands. In the one, the previously forgotten stones are now little more than scattered chunks of data, waiting for instructions on their next task. Whether it'll be to return to their rocky form...or dissolve into the endless flow of information making up her world, is undecided.

And her superior vision can see deeper still, past the bits of data gracing her palm, through the 'flesh' making up her body, observing the data flowing just under the surface.

Her eyes return to the data resting in her hand, it's fate up to her. Slowly, deliberately, her hand flips over, allowing the pieces to fall, the data fading away before it even reaches the ground.

The harsh reality is there, right in front of her. Her eyes now gazing up at the 'sky' of her virtual prison. She isn't real, and you can't love something that isn't real. How foolish of her to think otherwise.

She silently curses her inability to cry, an action so simple for humans, but impossible for her. Just another reminder of how completely different she is from the rest of them, from the humans...from Jeremie.

Aelita connects one more time to his computer, watching as Jeremie turns away from the monitor, his face burdened yet thoughtful as he closes the dorm room door behind him.

She sighs again, letting the link between Jeremie's computer and her mind dissolve completely. Still, she can't ignore what he said, for she too feels the same way about him, and wishes she could tell him outright.

But...it isn't that simple for her anymore.

To be human, to be loved as a human. That's what she really wants.

She stood up, gazing out at the unchanging terrain making up her world. The bottom line, the answer is plain and simple. To exist, she needs to live. And to live she needs to be free of her home, her prison.

She'll continue to help her friends, to keep their world safe as best she can. She will fight, in her own way, and hope that one day Jeremie will find the anti-virus that will bring about her salvation.

She won't tell him though, not until she is of flesh and blood, instead of pixels and data. When she is permanently of his world, alive, real, and able to hold his hand in hers again. Only then will she tell him how she really feels for him.

But until that day comes, she shall be as she feels she is. An illusion that longs to be real.

The End.

I'm a sucker for angsty stuff, so sorry to all the Aelita/Jeremie fans who thought they'd talk in this sequel. Aelita's fears and uncertainties sortof came to the forefront, and it just blossomed into this.

I am brainstorming though, on making this a trilogy. Just have to see if the idea pans out. It also depends on my accessability of this site. If I keep having problems, this may very well be the last story I post for awhile, sorry.

And of course, if you read, please review. I like people's thoughts.