Return To The Past

by Carth

Chapter 1
A Plastic-Silicon Love Affair

It was a beautiful day at Kadic Academy.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and all was serene in the dormitories, apart from Jim playing the bugle on the roof. Well, not really, but it's an amusing thought. The grounds were quiet, as they were not yet full of small children trampling their well-kept lawns and sharing the day's useless chatter and gossip. One of these small children was a blond, scrawny little boy named Jeremie Belpois.

Unlike many small Kadic children, Jeremie rarely, if ever, used his bed. As it stood, he hadn't used it in a week. But it wasn't as though he never slept- in fact, he was sleeping at that very moment, two feet from the bed, in his computer chair. The keyboard was his pillow. His head was on the P key, typing a steady string of the capital letters, and he was drooling all over the quote, period, and question mark keys.

He probably would have slept until noon if not for his clock radio. Just as the dependable little machine struck seven-forty, a catchy tune began to flow from it- some Subdigitals number, perhaps. At an automatic response to the noise, Jeremie's eyes eased open. He blinked a few times. Still not fully awake, he wiped the drool from his face, and readjusted his glasses, which he had not taken off during the night. Wincing a bit, he touched his cheek. He didn't have to look at it to know that it held a perfect imprint of the keyboard.

He looked up at his screen, not surprised by what he saw. "P," he commented to himself.

He grumbled a bit, and pounded his backspace key. The Ps began to vanish from his screen. With a grunt, he leaned over in his seat and felt over by his bed for his clock radio, which still sang its repetitive anthem. Once he had found it, he held it up to his face, squinting until the big fluorescent numbers came into focus.

The message these numbers conveyed woke him instantly.


He abandoned erasing the Ps. With a click, he saved whatever progress he had made the previous night, and then leapt from his chair. He attempted to run from it, but tripped on a leg, and fell flat on his face. Groaning and rubbing his shoulder, he got back up, and began again. He had run about two feet before tripping on a stack of books and falling again. He got back up, still persistent, and was just out the door and in the hall before he tripped over his own feet and fell once again. He let himself lie there.

He was vaguely aware of footsteps in the close distance. Soft footsteps. Then laughter. Soft, familiar laughter. A sudden shadow, and then a hand touching his own.

"Rough night, Jeremie?"

Opening his eyes, he saw the last thing he would have expected to see at that moment- a pair of fluffy pink boots. He stared at them a moment, and then found the sense to think to look up to see what they were connected to. Doing so, he saw a very welcome sight- Aelita Stones, a friend, confidant, and at most times, object of his utmost affection. She smiled down at him, looking slightly confused.

He smiled back, and then, realizing the situation he was in, began blushing furiously. "Uh... um... well... yeah...I guess…"

"Your face is all red," she continued. "It looks like you fell asleep on the keyboard again. But it'll fade, I guess." She laughed, and tapped his hand again. "Need a lift?"

"," he mumbled, taking the hand that was offered to him.

Some stumbling and giggling later, he was up. Although he was now on two feet, Aelita was still harboring a sort of amused smile as she looked him over. "You're a mess. Did you remember to clean yourself last night?"

"Ah…" He looked down, and quickly discovered why she had asked that. He was still wearing yesterday's clothing, having forgotten to change into his pajamas. His sweater was stained by drool, and his pants had plenty of dust on them from all the tripping. He gave a stressed sort of moan, and began brushing at his legs.

"I don't think that's going to help matters." Aelita grabbed his hand again, which made him stop. "I'll tell you what. Go and take a shower, it'll help you wake up. Then hurry to breakfast. We still have about twenty minutes before class."

"Uhm...yeah, yeah! Thanks, Aelita!" He faked a large smile. From the similarly positive look on her face, she appeared to buy it. Even before she turned to walk away, he was up and off. He ran back to his room, got himself some clothes, ran into the (now empty) showers, and hardly got wet before dashing out again. He got dressed, putting his sweater on backwards, leaving a comb in his hair, and dropping his shoes somewhere in the hall. By then, he was quite sure he was ready for the day, and so out the door he ran.

He ran as he had never run in his life, past buildings, doors, and other late people, though he wasn't really entirely sure why. Meals had never been important to him. Why was he so desperate to make this one when…?

Then he remembered. Flat surface. Sleeping area. He sped up a bit.

Finally, the cafeteria trailer came into sight. Elated, he put on an extra burst of speed. He flew straight in, let instinct direct him to his usual table, flopped down in a creaky wooden chair, and fell asleep immediately.

Alexandre Pepin and Thomas Jolivet glared at him uncertainly.

Jeremie groaned, sat up, blinked, and mumbled a "sorry" before they could ask any questions. He then stood, wobbled over to the next table- where he was mostly sure the three people gaping at him were Odd, Ulrich, and Yumi- and collapsed in another creaky wooden chair. Within a second, he was asleep again.

He was obviously quite late. All of the other's meals were half-eaten, except Odd's, which was currently in the process of being licked off the plate. Odd himself didn't even notice that Jeremie was there until he had started snoring, very loudly. When that happened, he looked up, and didn't even try to suppress a huge grin. "Oy, Einstein! Not awake yet, eh? Eh? Eh?" He stood up in his seat, reached across the table, and with each 'eh', poked Jeremie hard in the back. He made no response.

Ulrich glanced over at the spectacle, but kept his distance. Yumi glared at it a bit more furiously. "Oh, come on, let him off, Odd. He comes in like this all the time."

"Yeah, that's kinda the point!" He laughed hysterically, and continued poking him. was still poking him when Aelita came into view, looking quite a bit more chipper than Jeremie was at the moment. She sat down next to him, took one look at him, burst out laughing, picked the comb out of his hair, and put his shoes- which she appeared to have picked up in the hall- on his head. At this, he grunted, woke up for a second, looked up at her with glazed eyes, gave a quick " 'lo" and fell back to sleep. He didn't notice anything else, not even Odd, surprisingly enough. ("Eh? Eh? Eh?")

Ulrich, thankfully, gave her a bit more of an awake welcome. "Hey, Aelita. What took you so long?"

The pink-haired girl smiled, struggling to keep her eyes and attention from the situation next to her. "Ah, guilty of oversleeping as well. I was having such a nice dream..."

"Oh, really? What did you dream about?" Yumi appeared genuinely interested.

"Oh, nothing really, or at least nothing that made sense. But I do remember that I was enjoying myself." She paused, and then made an odd face. "And something about a Subdigitals concert in the factory. Figures, doesn't it?" She laughed. The noise stirred Jeremie, and with a groan and twitch, he was somewhat awake again. He looked up at Aelita as if to say something, and then snapped his attention to Odd, who was still poking him.



"Poke Ulrich. Now."

"Sure thing, Half-Awake Einstein!" He whirled away from Jeremie, and began poking Ulrich with a huge grin on his face. ("Eh? Eh? Eh?") Ulrich didn't seem to enjoy it very much, but even as he was avoiding all the pokes, he still tried to comment on Aelita's description.

"Well, Aelita- ow!- all I have to say about that is- hey!- you sure have a better excuse for sleeping in than- ow!- Jeremie did. ODD!" He glared at his roommate. Apparently, this was enough to get him to stop- he cringed, backed off, and climbed back into his seat, but he still had his everpresent smile.

"Yeah, what'd he do, huh? Stay up too late on the imageboards?" He laughed hysterically at his own joke, which, surprisingly enough, got a few laughs out of Ulrich, a chuckle out of Yumi, and an odd look from Aelita, who didn't know what an imageboard was.

Jeremie didn't laugh, but he did throw lackluster punch at Odd before falling back to sleep.


The first bell harshly split the tender air of the morning. The dining hall didn't empty as fast as it might have if it were a classroom, but it did empty at a steady rate. Last out of the fray were Jeremie and Aelita, preceded by Yumi, who took off in another direction towards her first class, and Ulrich and Odd, who were several steps ahead, completely ignoring the couple and expanding on Odd's mention of imageboards.

They had been last in the parade because Jeremie had refused to move, let alone wake up, until everyone was gone. He was awake and coherent at the moment, if a bit shuffly on his feet. Aelita was walking close by him, ready to set him back up if he happened to fall over. She still looked like she would crack up any second.

"You awake yet?" she asked him, putting a hand on his shoulder to stabilize him.

"No." He laughed without enthusiasm before assuming an exhausted look again.

"It was kind of a rhetorical question." Her tone was light, but it was growing serious. "You know…you really do put a lot of stress on yourself, Jeremie."

"Huh? No I don't!" He stumbled in surprise. Aelita, true to her intention, grabbed him and pushed him back. "I'm the least stressed person I know."

Aelita made no comment.

"Okay, so that was kind of a lie. I mean, with Lyoko and all, it's impossible not to have a little stress…"

"A little," Aelita chuckled. "That's the understatement of the century."

"Oh, ha ha. So maybe I'm kind of tired." He stumbled again. "I have better ways to spend my nights than sleeping! Like, say, developing programs to save our very lives. It's what I have to do. I mean, you've never seen me on Lyoko, have you?"


"I…well, I'm just not meant to be there." His face hardened. He appeared to be gaining more awareness of his surroundings, bit by bit. "I got scared out of my wits by a couple of monsters, couldn't even land a hit on one of them…and Odd and Ulrich never let me have any peace about it. It's insane! How do you handle it there?"

"We just-"

"Nah...that's beside the point. Anyway, writing all these programs, it's my way of logging those hours you guys do on Lyoko. Is that so wrong?" He tilted his head to the side.

Aelita sighed. "No, of course not. You know that we all appreciate everything you do, Jeremie. Don't think that we don't." She rested her arm on his shoulder again, this time as a more comforting gesture. "But lately, it's gotten to the point where it's seriously interfering with your life. You always come to breakfast asleep, you're out of it most of the day, you hardly ever talk with us, or do anything with us..." Her smile was gone, and she was looking listlessly to one side.

"What? No, no…" He turned slightly more in her direction, and then hesitated. "Well, yeah…maybe you have a point. But still, there'll be plenty of time to sleep once XANA is taken down. A night or two gone now won't make any real difference." He forced himself to laugh. "Now…class time?"

Aelita looked her friend up and down for a moment, a mix of confusion and worry on her face, and finally sighed. "Yeah. Class time."

Taking each others' hands, they walked together to the Science building, stumbling a few more times on the way.

Mrs. Hertz, though a good teacher in her own right, had a tendency for going off on tangents. Said tangents were long and boring, but oddly so engrossing to her that when she gave a lecture, which was often filled with them, she concentrated so much on them that she hardly noticed what her class was actually doing. As she prattled on about molecular construction or something or other, students doodled, whispered, or just started chatting outright. She didn't give a thought to any of it.

Two of these students were Jeremie and Ulrich, who sat next to each other, right in front of Aelita and Odd. At the moment, the two of them were off in their own worlds- that is, Ulrich was off in his own world, but had difficulty remaining there, as his concentration was often interrupted by Jeremie's chatter.

"Hey, Ulrich, does it…bother you when I, er, stay up too late working on programs?" He was talking and taking notes at the same time. "Because I was talking to Aelita, and she said…"

Ulrich raised his head in general acknowledgement, and then turned away again. "I don't really dwell on things like that. I mean, yeah, sleep is good, and I have no idea how you run on so little, but, well, I have other things to worry about."

"I understand that, but…does it kind of annoy you when I'm asleep at breakfast?"

"Well, yeah, that can get a bit annoying. Odd likes it, though. It's easier for him to steal your food that way." He tried to pay extra attention to the doodle on his notebook paper.

"Yeah, but I think I'm starting to worry Aelita. That's sweet and all, I guess, but I don't want her to be worried. I may look a bit tired, but really, I'm fine." His glasses were dangling from one ear. "I'm doing my job. Nothing to make a fuss about."

"Yeah, hm. Whatever. Fix your glasses." He reached over and poked the side of Jeremie's head with his pen. While over there, he caught a glimpse of what Jeremie was writing. "Hey- you do know you've been writing out your code stuff instead of taking notes, right?"

Jeremie did a double take down towards his paper. It was indeed covered in PHP code. He blushed, and quickly covered it with his hand, though he did not erase it. "Uh...yeah, of course I knew. But you're not one to talk." He looked over at Ulrich's notebook. "It could use a bit more blood."

"Hey, you're right, thanks!" He turned back to his own paper, and excitedly added more red splotches around his stick-figure drawing of William impaled on a stick. This drawing was surrounded by more of the same- stick-figure William meeting some sort of gruesome fate, often followed by a stick-figure Yumi passionately kissing the brown-haired stick-figure destroyer of the menace.

Jeremie tapped his pencil on his code-covered paper. "Maybe if I'm lucky, Franz Hopper will just show up on his own, and I won't have to write this program to go and find him," he mumbled to himself. He began writing some more, now engrossed completely in his work.

"Wouldn't we all love that." He kept drawing, hoping that last statement would shut Jeremie up.

It didn't. Within a minute, he was babbling again. "I'm sure it'll make Aelita happy when we do find him. Happier than it would make her if we delayed it for my sake."

Ulrich looked up, opened his mouth, changed his mind, gave an indiscreet nod, and then turned away again. His attention was now married to a new drawing- one of William with his head on fire.

Two tables behind them, a similarly different conversation was taking place. However, this time, Aelita was the lamenter, and Odd was the innocent, doodling victim.

"Look, no matter what sorts of excuses Jeremie makes for himself, the fact remains that he's overtaxing himself. It's showing on his health." She was talking and writing at the same time as well, but, amazingly, she was actually taking notes. "Why can't he just realize-"

"'Cause that's the way Einstein is. He's stubborn as anything- he will not rest a day until he finishes what he's started. And in your case, Aelita, that determination's doubled." Odd seemed a bit more interested than Ulrich was, though he was still doodling. His doodles were slightly less macabre, though- most of them involved Kiwi somehow.

"Yes, I know, but sometimes, that stubbornness just goes a little overboard." She slumped her head on the table. "I mean, Jeremie must have good intentions, but sometimes I get so frustrated with him..."

"You're right about that, Aelita. Jeremie probably has the purest intentions in the entire school." He nodded without really looking at her.

"Yeah..." She sighed. "I know I shouldn't be selfish like this, but when he's all shut up in his room, he almost never spends time with me. And he said he would, too." She looked over at him. "He said..."

Odd looked up at her, looking pained but calm. "Well, uh, yanno, remind him. Tell him straight up front how you feel, and…well, you know how he is, he'll be down on his knees to make you happy." He put the finishing touches on one of Kiwi's legs. "Problem solved."

"Yeah, maybe you're right." Aelita sighed. "He's such a ridiculous child…but he's good to have around."

"Too right."

The bell cut off any further conversation they might have had. Mrs. Hertz stopped her lecture mid-word, closed the class, and quietly stepped out of the way to avoid being stampeded by the herd of escapees.

To most of the school- the sane portion, anyway- the end of classes for the day was a near celebration. For day students, it was a chance to either go home and do homework, or stay on campus for a while and not do homework. For boarders, it was a chance to drop their books in the dorm and then spend the day running around the campus destroying things. For our five heroes in the Lyoko Gang, it was a chance to sit on the bench. The bench of evil. Nobody else went anywhere near it. Ever.

At the moment, Aelita and Odd sat on the bench. Jeremie sat on the ground in front of them, tapping away on his laptop (which he had retrieved when he had gone back to his dorm after classes to comb his hair and turn his sweater the right way round), working on the program he had begun in Science class. Yumi and Ulrich were leaning over the back, looking down on the other three. Life was normal.

They were silent for a little while, until Yumi decided that she was tired of the silence. She gave a tiny little cough. "So, uh…still a lot of time left in the day. You guys wanna do anything?"

"I dunno." Ulrich slouched further down in his nonexistent seat.

"Same here." Odd was watching a group of ants on the ground with intense concentration.

"Well..." Aelita had her chin in her hands, as if thinking about what she wanted to say.

Jeremie cut off her turn. "I'm pretty much good for now. See this? Once I'm done with it, it'll-"

"Hold up there." Ulrich did a double take to the left of the bench, and narrowed his eyes. "I think we'd better decide what to do fast, or else she's going to want to book our afternoon solid."

They all looked up to see, unfortunately, the only Kadician who would dare penetrate the sacred bench- Sissi Delmas, the principal's daughter, self-proclaimed prettiest girl in the school. She was walking briskly towards them, trying to look as important and domineering as possible, which was hard when she was being tailed by two very ugly labradors- that is, Herb and Nicolas, her fanclub.

"HE-LLO ULRICH!" As she came closer, she gave a great leap forward and pushed herself in Ulrich face, shoving her elbow into Odd's face. "I haven't had any chance to talk to you lately! Did you miss me?"

Ulrich, carefully displaying no emotion, raised an eyebrow. "No, not really. In fact, without you tailing me, I've had more time to enjoy what I like to do most." He gave a smug smile, and the other four immediately sensed a joke.

Sissi didn't. "And that would be?"

"Enjoying you not tailing me!" They all laughed hysterically, except Odd, who could only be squashed. Even Herb and Nicolas laughed a bit, though they were quickly silenced by a glare from Sissi. She was, quite obviously, fuming.

"Aren't you a comedian!" She had the amazing ability to go from seductive to angry in an instant, as she had just done. "Well then, Ulrich dear, we'll see who has the last laugh when-"

"When what?" It was Yumi's turn to smirk. "When your daddy hears about this? We've heard that a million times, Sissi, give it a rest!"

"Yeah, what would your father care about some little adolescent spat?" Aelita cut in. "He's got enough to worry about, I'd say."

Jeremie remained silent, but nodded furiously, if only to contribute somewhat. Odd probably would have retorted yesterday, if not for the elbow pressing him to the bench. He struggled to get away for a moment, and then, unexpectedly, stopped, as though he had just remembered something.

"Hey...thash kinda getssh me thinkingsh- get offsh me, Sisshi-" He slobbered on her elbow. Disgusted, she screamed and jumped away- exactly the reaction he had been hoping for. He sat up, wiped his tongue clean of all Sissi-germs, and made himself comfortable.

"Ah, thanks. Anyway, I just had this random thought. You always talk about your dad, yanno, my daddy this, my daddy that…all that stuff. But I don't think you've ever mentioned your mom. Does she work somewhere else or something?"

There was silence. Tense, tense silence. Sissi stood frozen in one spot. Her mouth hung open slightly, as if she were on the verge of talking, but yet could not. Odd stared at her, waiting for an answer. The others stared at Odd, equally curious, and impressed with his daring. Even Herb and Nicolas, who would have usually started babbling by now, were dead silent, more out of fear of Sissi's wrath than anything.

"Uh, if it's a sore subject or something, I'll back down," he interjected, failing to split the tension. "I was just kind of curious…"

More silence. Eventually, however, Sissi seemed to relax. Her lip quivered, and she stammered something.

"N-no, no, it's alright, I just…" She trailed off again. She was looking anxiously from side to side, as if the landscape would hold the answer she wanted. Unfortunately, the trees would not be so kind. She mumbled something in a voice too low to hear, and then took a deep breath.

"I…I have to go." She bolted, leaving a tiny dust cloud behind her. Herb and Nicolas, as soon as they had registered what was going on, turned tail and ran after her.

The gang stared into space for a little bit. Ulrich was the first to recover. He leaned down towards Odd, looking incredulous. "What was that all about?"

"I was curious, so I asked her." He shrugged. "And obviously, she'd rather not ta-" He caught himself before he could finish. "I mean, it's not something she wants to talk about. See, different wording." He slouched down low on the bench. "Just chalk it up as another one of Kadic's great mysteries…"

"And isn't Kadic full of em." Yumi groaned. Now that Sissi was gone, there was nothing else to do. For a while, the silence was broken only by the clik, clik, clik of Jeremie typing.

Finally, Aelita, who appeared to have thought of what she was going to say before, spoke up. "Uh, we were saying before... we could go into town for a little while, or something. We haven't been out of the campus for a while, right?"

"Hey, yeah, you're right!" Yumi nodded at her, and straightened up. "We all need to go out and get some air."

"Hm? Yeah, that's a great idea!" Odd's somber expression face brightened instantly. "We could go see a movie, or go get ice cream, or throw heavy stuff off buildings, or-"

"Ok, I'm all for it. Better than sitting here doing nothing." Ulrich stood up and stretched. He looked back over his shoulder. "Jeremie?"

"Hmm?" Jeremie turned around in his seat, lowering his laptop cover. He didn't seem to have heard any of the conversation.

"Do you want to go into town with us? It'll be fun."

"Uh…" He looked to the side. "I dunno, I've got plenty to do here…"

"Oh, c'mon, Jeremie, it'll be fun!" Aelita jumped off the bench and crouched by him, trying her best to put a smile on. "Besides, you really need a break."

"Well, maybe, but I-"

Aelita's smile faded a bit. "I said…" Slowly, she reached her hand across to Jeremie's laptop and shut the lid. Jeremie's hand barely escaped being crushed by it. "You need a break."

Jeremie looked a bit unnerved, but his voice kept calm. "Well, yeah, I know, I know…" His fingers crept towards the latch. "You've been saying that all day, but really, I'm on a big lead right here. If I stop now, I might miss the chance to dig up something-"

A hand caught his- not in any sort of comfort, but hard, restraining. He turned his head to face Aelita, and was surprised to find that her smile had disappeared, and her face was stony.

"Look, Jeremie, I don't understand why you're being so difficult about this. It can wait for one afternoon, can't it? You stop now, you take time to recover, and then you go back to it. It's that simple. What's the problem with it?"

"Uh, well…" His freed hand began twisting nervously. Ulrich, Odd, and Yumi were watching the duo intently, wondering what would happen next. "The sooner I get this done, the more time I'll have to go and have fun later, and the less time that the world is in danger. I've already told you this many times, Aelita-"

"That may be true, Jeremie, but you're hardly paying attention to anything else, like your own well-being, or any of us! That's not healthy for you…and it's kind of starting to piss me off!"

The words were out of her mouth before she could catch herself. Her hand trailed to her mouth, but it was too late. Ulrich's jaw dropped. Odd made an "oooooooh" sound. Yumi mumbled some nonsense. Jeremie didn't even try to hold back his shock- he was grimacing nervously, and tugging on his collar. A bead of sweat formed on his forehead.

"A-ah…I…I'm sorry, Aelita, I didn't realize you felt that…that strongly…" Hurriedly, he grabbed the laptop and began stuffing it back inside his bag. "I…I'll go if you really want me to…"

There was a short, pregnant silence. Aelita's face relaxed slightly as she looked at him- she no longer looked cold, but instead tired, forlorn. She took a deep breath, took her hand off of Jeremie's, and began to speak, shuddering. "No... no. It's okay. I know it's important. I'm the one who should be apologizing, Jeremie. I shouldn't have lost my cool like that."

"Mm." Jeremie nodded in the opposite direction as he closed his bag and pushed it to the side. He still looked quite shaken- both of them did.

Ulrich, Odd, and Yumi recovered a bit faster than they did. Odd knelt down and slapped Jeremie hard on the back. "Oh come on, Einstein, suck it up. Like she said earlier, you deserve a break. We can go see a of those really bloody, scary ones, with all the gore, and murders, and-"

"Odd, don't you think he's been shaken enough?" Yumi walked over and put a hand on Jeremie's shoulder. "Jeremie, if you really need to stay..."

Jeremie shuddered, and then looked down. "Yeah...I guess...I don't really feel so good."

"Well, then. Aelita, is this alright with you?" Yumi looked to the pink-haired girl, who still knelt on the ground.

"Uh..." She sighed, and stood. "Okay. I guess that's a good reason to stay." She glanced back at her friend. "Are…are you sure?"

He nodded, weakly.

"Ok. I guess I'll see you later, then." She tried to smile, but only for a quick second before she turned away and walked off in the direction of the gate. Yumi followed her, smiling confidently back at Jeremie as she went. Ulrich gave him a final slap him on the back ("Call us if you need us, man") and then was gone. Odd stood by him an extra moment, just looking at him.

Jeremie's hands were trailing back towards his laptop case, but he wasn't looking at where they were going. He was staring at Aelita, and stammering nonsense. "I could've done... I shouldn't have..."

Odd shook his head. "Y'know, she's right, you are overtaxing yourself. Seeya." He ran off after the rest of them, leaving Jeremie alone.

The dormitory halls of Kadic were deserted at this hour. Except for Jeremie. He occupied them.

He sat in a corner near the end of the hall, staring at the ceiling, determined to blind himself with the fluorescent lights. He was thinking. The thoughts, though muddled by lack of focus, weren't very pretty.

She was right, he thought, determined not to make Aelita anything less than perfection in his mind. I am working way too much. And more importantly, I'm ignoring her. How stupid can I get? It's Aelita, for chrissakes, the only reason I even kept Lyoko running in the first place. Stupid. Stupid, stupid me.

He curled himself into a ball, and kept staring at the light. A bug was dancing around it, repeatedly smashing its head into the bulb. This is pathetic. Why didn't I just go with them? It was really no big deal! It might've actually been fun for a change? Why was I fighting back so much? Yeesh…I confuse myself sometimes…

His thoughts dissolved into a muddled daydream, the details of which he could not or would not grasp, one which had no beginning or end. After a while, however, the daydream snapped out of existence, and the hall came into focus again. It seemed slightly dimmer than he'd remembered. I must've dozed off, he thought. I wonder what time it is.

A large, red-suited man was step-walking down the hall towards him. Jim. So. He looked at him, arched an eyebrow, and looked away again.

Jim, however, was not so inclined to ignore him. He stopped in front of him, and somped his foot to get his attention. "Belpois! What do you think you're doing out here?"

He looked up at him, sleepy-eyed and nonchalant. "Wallowing in misery, sir."

"Well, if you're going to do that, go and do it somewhere else!" Jim marched around the hallway, hand in the air, already ample chest thrust out, as though he were making a big speech. "You see, in case you haven't already noticed, these halls were made for walking through, not for sitting in! You see, you walk through them, so you can get to the places where you can…uh…sit and wallow in misery! Well, I guess you don't necessarily have to wallow in misery, but…" He stopped, and turned his head towards Jeremie. "Do you get what I'm saying?"

"Uh…beat it and get to the dorm?" Jeremie wasn't in the mood for gentle hints.

"Absolutely! And it's a very good thing you're speaking my language now, unlike the people I worked with when I was an interpreter in the-" Jeremie wasn't exactly in the mood for stories, especially Jim's, which nearly always ended the same way. He picked up his laptop bag, brushed himself off, saluted Jim for good measure, and ran in the general direction of his room.

Once there, he slumped against the door to catch his breath. Well, he thought, as long as I'm here, I guess I on stuff. He sighed, and opened the door, somehow relieved at the thought. However, two steps into the room-

Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep!

"Oh, come on."