They say that it is only in one's dying moments that others can see them for who they truly are. The friends that crowd their deathbeds when all defences are stripped away, the emotions that run gamut and feverish, the memories that are collectively shared. The character that is about to be left behind, an impression in their lives. Whether it was altruism or vanity that shone through at the time of his death though, it was hard to say.

And perhaps, this great indecision of his life is why he is stuck in a place time's claws cannot scar, in a place that has no colour, only an endless stretch of what can only be described as the absence of any shade or tint. In a place where he is more alone than he has ever been.

Yes, there are others here, but they all have the same lost expression he imagines myself having. A desperate quality to their eyes, the pull of their lips when they receive the slightest bit of physical contact — a brush of the sleeves here, an accidental nudge there. Surrounded by these drowning feelings, he wonders if he will ever experience the simple joy of a conversation again.

"Della Robbia, Odd," A woman dressed in an orderly nurse uniform steps seems to virtualise in front of him. "It is your turn."

It has been the same humdrum routine all day. Some leave, some don't, and no one knows if leaving is better than staying. That is the Shakespearean question here. To leave or not to leave? What is waiting for us in that unknown abyss?

Of course, as he ponders one of life's deeper questions without Aelita's prodding for possibly the first time in his short life, the nurse has to yank him towards an exit. An exit that has also seemed to have been procured out of thin air, just like her. This place is stranger than Lyoko and he's not sure if he's okay with that.

He enters another room even bigger than before, and also emptier. This time, he's not surrounded by fellow lost souls. The usual details that make up a room, the arch of the doorway, the steady whine of the air conditioning, the expensive paintings that a five-year-old could've done — they're all gone. Or, rather, they were never here in the first place. The nurse's voice echoes around the whitewashed walls as she tells him to wait here. Wait here? How is he supposed to wait when he's itching for the slightest sign of life? But wait he will, her expression tells him, and as quickly as she appeared, she disappears.

Odd doesn't have to wait long though. Ulrich's dad is suddenly here, there, and everywhere. As far as he knows, Ulrich's dad is well and alive and happily pressuring his son into impossible grades and football feats, but yet his eyes cannot be deceiving him. Odd is most definitely dead. And because his eyes are to be trusted, he must accept that Klaus Stern is towering above him impeccably dressed as always.

"Della Robbia, Odd," Klaus booms.

He manages to find his voice somehow in spite of the man's overpowering presence. "Della Robbia, Odd,"

And this is when the conversation takes an entirely different turn. Somehow, Klaus is no taller than Odd's shoulder, and he's layered himself in a pair of tennis shorts and a cherry red sweatshirt. "Sir?" Odd squeaks.

"Oh, don't mind me," Klaus says. "I know I look like someone you know fairly well on Earth, but rest assured, I'm much nicer."

"I'm sure," is all he can manage.

"Anyway, you must be wondering where you are. They all do."

"All?" What in XANA's name is going on here?

"Oh, you know," The man waves his hand casually, as if his hand is a camera taking a sweeping panorama of the room. "You know, the others. Like you."

"Oh. The others I was with. In the previous room."

"Good!" He claps Odd on the back forcefully. He may be shorter, but Klaus is just as strong in this–this, whatever it is. He can't quite put the place to a name yet. Klaus continues. "Sometimes they take so long to catch on. It's like, yes, you're dead, but hey, it's not the end of the world!"

"It's...not?" Well, nevermind, of course it isn't. The world doesn't end just because an exceptionally funny and handsome soul like Odd Della Robbia dies. He thinks to himself that logic really doesn't reign supreme in the halls of the dead.

Of course, the Klaus lookalike just has to screw with him again. "No, definitely not. That's why you're here, actually. It's like Purgatory for people who still need a bit more time on Earth. Of course, how much time depends."

"Depends?"

"Yes, depends is your keyword. As in, you could have a minute more or seventy years more. I'm sure you'd like seventy, right?" The man's smile literally lights up the room in a cosy glow. Geez. Ulrich's dad sure never smiled that much.

"Is this a trick question?"

"You were happier on Earth," the man frowns. "You asked less questions."

"I also was alive." Odd points out.

"Yes, I suppose that's true."

"Suppose?" He can't help but blurt out angrily, "Of course I was happier! Ulrich, Aelita, Yumi, Jeremie, Lyoko...hell, maybe I even miss Sissi a tiny bit."

"Her?" Klaus wrinkles his nose. "Oh, no, you don't want to miss her."

"Well, I do."

"You don't really, and I know that. You're just insisting upon it because I'm interrogating you, and it's rather upsetting for me to know so much. It's fine, I understand."

"Uhh..."

The lookalike responds with a friendly nod of the head. "I've been here for a lot longer than you have. You tend to develop fantastic argumentative skills. And wisdom, that too."

That makes sense, he supposes. Like the same way Mrs. Hertz gets to be absolutely right on every Chemistry fact there is because she's got wisdom and knowledge he just doesn't have access to. Then there's Lyoko, but one can't very well argue to their teacher that they have access to a plethora of information on a virtual world.

"You're zoning." A voice snaps him out of his thoughts. "Or dreaming, whichever way you'd like to put it."

He's had enough. If he's gotten to the point of deep thoughts about science teachers, then it's obvious he needs to bust out of here. "I'm going."

"Okay."

Okay? Is Ulrich's dad, or whatever the lookalike's name is, really willing to let him go?

"Go ahead," Klaus smiles. "Honestly, it's fine."

"Fine? What are you talking about? Last time I was conscious, I was knocked out by some krab! My friends were in danger and I couldn't help them! Now you're telling me it's fine?"

"And there we go, that's what I need."

"What?"

"Go on, go on. We're all good to go here."

Odd is about to respond when everything dissolves and his world spins black velvet. The colours of the visible spectrum return to his world in a dizzying swirl, and he can't tell which way to go. There's no time for gawking though, because all of a sudden brown fur blurs into his vision. To be more precise, actually, it's hair. He sees a flash of pink, yellow smudged in beside the dull and strangely familiar palette. Red also makes the cut in the form of watery eyes.

"He's alive!" A girl cries with a hint of an Asian accent. Is that Japanese?

He smiles wanly though, because somehow he knows he's happy, and this is exactly where he wants to be.


A/N: Not exactly sure where this came from. Though I've heard of Camp NaNo, I'm sticking with doing my own personal NaNo right now; the goal is more or less fifty k, but no worries for me if I don't even breach thirty k. Less pressure that way. :) Though none of what I'm saying explains which deep abyss this came out of...heh. But I wrote it, and I'm determined to post everything that gets done with NaNo. Comments are always adored and much appreciated. And as always, thank you for reading!