After being a diehard fan of Lain, and seeing how there aren't very many new Lain fanfics, I decided to write up a quick oneshot to ease up the atmosphere. Plus, it's been a long time since I last wrote, so I'm also doing this for practice! So I'm sorry if this is a bad fic.

Also, it's good to notice that this takes place between Lain's isolation (when everyone leaves her) and the conclusion of the story.

Please enjoy!

"Navi, check mail."

The machine whirred smoothly as it carried out its task. "Lain has new mail." The computer klitched out in its tinny, garbled voice. Lain smiled at the computer, her face bathed in the dull glow of the screen, reflecting in her eyes. A message for her? How long had it been since she had last been sent a message? Most of the time she just would directly go to the people she needed to talk to through the wired, so there was no need for messages.

Lain reached out with one arm and stroked the side of the monitor, a feeling of nostalgia of a time when she hadn't understood so much coming upon her. With those tired eyes still watching the screen unblinkingly, she intoned emotionlessly, "Open message."

Her screen shifted around, tucking the current contents into the corners to make room for the large box that sprang into life in the middle, which began to spell out some words.

"Where are you Lain?" The words were spoken by the robotic voice, devoid of identity or emotion. "We don't see you anymore Lain. When we call you, you never pick up the phone. Where are you? I miss you, and I'm worried about you. Where are you, Lain?"

Lain's face shifted into a puzzled stare. There was no return address, nor any signature of any type on the email. Even the Knights had left behind records that led her right to them. Nor could she figure out who would wish to send her such an email. She had been told at school that she was no longer needed. Her family was no longer her family. No one really wanted her, so why would anyone miss her? She continued rubbing the monitor, teasing the matter apart in her mind.

Heehee. Lain snapped her head to look behind her at the slightly ajar door. She could've sworn she heard someone giggling nearby, a familiar giggle that had been long since etched into her memory. One that was unique to-

"Alice?" she called out, waiting for a response that she would not receive. "Are you really here? Alice?" A surge of hope pounded in her heart. Maybe Alice really did miss her! Maybe she wouldn't be all by herself now! She got up from her seat and ran to the door, her bare feet splashing in the cold water in her room. Pushing open the door, she saw a shadow slip down the staircase, and she ran after it, trying not to fall as she pounded down the stairs as quickly as she could.

The whole house was dark and empty, and as she reached the bottom of the stairs, she realized that even if Alice was here, she wouldn't be able to see her. Reaching out blindly to the wall, she felt her way over to the kitchen, trying not to run into anything. "Alice, where are you?" Lain called out desperately, doubts gnawing away at her confidence. Perhaps she had really just imagined it all.

Suddenly an explosion of color burst in front of her, as the lights switched on and multi-colored confetti flew through the air. "SURPRISE!!" Rang out a loud and excited group of voices, the sheer unexpectedness of which nearly made her jump in surprise. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!" They continued to cheer, and an overwhelmed Lain sudden found herself being caught in a tight embrace on all sides. Everyone was here! There was Mom and Dad, and Mika, and Taro and his friends, and Alice, Juri and Reika, and even those two from the Tachibana Labs were there, standing in the back watching her with a kind look in their eyes.

"We even made you a cake Lain! Reika's mom helped us make it, and she always makes the best cakes!" Alice practically shouted at her to be heard over the clamor being made by all the others, hugging Lain as tight as she could. Lain felt so embarrassed, and her hands would probably be shaking from the scare if she wasn't weighted down with so many people, but she didn't care at all. "Everyone… thank you so much!" She sputtered out with delight, "I'm so happy!"

"But how can you be?" A too familiar voice made Lain feel like someone threw a bucket of cold water onto her heart. "Don't you know that they are not real?" she could feel his breath as he whispered into her ear. His words angered her; how wasn't this real? She could feel them, they were right here, how could he tell her that this wasn't real?!

"No!!" She turned and yelled at him, but he wasn't there. Only an empty wall obscured in the darkness. Startled, she turned back around to see that she was alone in the dark once again. No party, no cake, nobody. "No…" She sunk to her knees and grabbed her arms- as if hugging herself- and drooped her head in loss.

"Poor Lain," Eiri's disembodied voice continued, coming from no exact source, "now do you see what will happen if you trust humans? They will only ever disappoint you. They are not like you or me, we are a different kind of being."

"Shut up!" She yelled back at him, looking angrily up towards the ceiling and wiping the tears that were gathering in her eyes. "You were human once too!"

"And you too were raised as human. Yet you and I both evolved beyond human beings, and now it is my wish to bring all of humanity where we are now." Lain stood up and started walking carefully back to her room, feeling her way along the unsmooth, gouged through the dark yet still tripping over the multitudes of objects that now seemed to populate the floors that she had not noticed the first time she came down. Eiri's voice continued, no matter how much she loathed it or tried to block it out. "It is for that ultimate goal that you exist Lain. Do not deny it, but rather seek to fulfill it, and I shall make you the jewel of the Wired."

She climbed the stairs defeatedly, yet at the top she saw that there was light coming from her room. Still unsure, she wavered over to the doorway, and saw her room the way it used to be. An empty, long bright room with wooden floors, bare walls, a single bed and desk, with everyone from before standing in the middle, all watching her smiling. Lain didn't smile back, but only watched their frozen expressions coldly.

Suddenly, they began to melt into the air, as the room darkened and the bulky machinery she knew started coming out from behind the illusion. All too quickly, she was by herself again, staring into the wet, buzzing mess of computers that she lived in.

"But never think that you're alone Lain. In the Wired, you will always be welcome."

Lain plodded through the shallow layer of water and sat down in her chair again. Taking a hold of her computer, grasping it almost tightly, she said in a monotone, "Navi, check mail."

The machine whirred smoothly as it carried out its task. "…Lain has no new mail."

She only stared at the screen, not moving a muscle, and after a few seconds repeated "Check mail."

"…Lain has no new mail."

"…Check mail."

"…Lain has no new mail."

"…Check mail."

"…Lain has no new mail."

Wahh, I'm so proud of myself, I got a whole story done in one day! (two technically, with the editing) Still, this is my first fanfiction in... eh, about a year? A year and a month, if I recall. So I don't expect my writing to be the best, nor the most interesting, but do review and let me know how bad this is, eh?