AN: I wrote this story about a year and a half ago, so it's really not the best, but I wanted to have something uploaded and there's a severe lack of fanfiction for this show. I might clean it up at some point. Enjoy(?) !

"Who am I?"

That simple query flowed across her lips. A blue light flickered quickly before the bright second world opened with its response.

"Hello, Lain."

She smiled briefly. "Hello, Navi."

It was a short time until school again. She walked to class with her friends, the pleasant faces hiding their troubles. They laughed and discussed their plans for the night.

Such meaningless things.

"Hey, Lain!" shouted Arisu—her best friend. "Let's go to Cyberia tonight!"

"Yeah! We'll definitely go to Cyberia!"

"Don't you like it there, Lain?"

But she shook her head. "Not tonight."

Arisu paused, hesitated, before her response. "Lain… Don't you think it would be nice to do more… Fun things? Normal things?"

Her friends stopped laughing, the pretenses of their smiles faded.

"I knew you would ask this of me…" She paused. "I don't want to cause any more trouble." She simply walked past them, ignoring their worried stares.

She heard a bird's wings fluttering, but when she looked up, it was gone.
-

Class always felt empty, and it wasn't long before the day had ended. She pressed the key marked "enter" on her Navi, the harsh click resounding against the soft hum of machinery.

"Hello, Lain." said the warm, emotionless voice.

She shut her eyes apprehensively. "Hello, Navi."

She touched the Navi's screen. Blackened birds appeared there—a man explained to her that they were for a game. Enemies that attacked the character, that had to be fended off. Of course, no harm was done. It was all special effects. Just a part of the Wired.

The "real world" and the "Wired"—aren't they the same?

She flipped through her cell phone silently. The teacher was speaking on about World War II—nobody listened to her. An old, strange, uncomfortable thing like that didn't matter anymore. After all, it happened in the past. What was important was the present. So said all of the students, and indeed most of the people in the city.

A raven cawed from beyond the window. Most of the class looked up in surprise, desperate to escape their drudgery. But she continued to stare intently at the information before her. That simple act was all it took for her to stand out. The teacher approached her quietly.

"Lain."

She looked up. "…Yes?"

The teacher stared at her. "It's because of you, isn't it? Those things."

"I… I don't know what you're talking about." The entire class was staring at her now. Their eyes betrayed their communal thoughts.

You know what you did. It was because of you.

It's your fault—all of it.

She looked around nervously. "I really don't know what you mean. I don't. You're wrong. It wasn't me."

The teacher frowned. "No—it's Lain. Lain caused it."

The ravens fluttered by the window yet again.

Arisu looked at her. "It's okay, Lain. I know you did nothing. I know you didn't put those terrible birds here." Arisu faltered slightly. "I know… You wouldn't put something here that would hurt or… or kill someone, right?"

She shook her head. "There's no way… That I've done such a thing…"

Their glass eyes watched her. "Not you. Lain."

"I… I am Lain!"

"Not you. It was Lain. Not you."

She looked around wildly and ran out of the room. Their eyes stung her back as she closed the door.

The corridors seemed endless as she paced by. Every room she passed was full of silent students. They paused their stillness and turned to look at her, their mouths gaping with mute accusations. She turned her head away, looking instead out of the windows. There, blood-slicked birds turned to become her silent tormentors. Again, she turned, shutting her eyes as she burst through the doors of the main hall.

Once outside, she walked through the streets. They seemed deserted somehow. Though many people walked, they were weary, gazing fearfully at her.

They are so empty. There's nothing that I can take from them, no reason I could instill within them. Perhaps some of them have found a new life in the wired. If not… There is nothing left that I can do for them.

She paced briskly towards a bridge, marking the halfway point on her way to the train. It was there that she saw the flock of ravens that had caused the dilemma. She stared at them; all flew away but one. She glared at it, what she considered a testament to her own darkness.

"Stop," she willed it.

The bird did not stop. It circled around her. A gust of wind blew; her hat flew off. She looked back at it worriedly.

I've had enough of these wasteful things.

"Stop," said Lain. The world froze.

It was a worthless and physical world.

Lain looked up at the still bird. She smiled before continuing on her way home, her hat forgotten.