Adrift by Stonecreek
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A.N. “ For Skorpigeist at Lyoko Freak. Here’s another venture down a less-explored pairing path “ Yumi/Jeremie. Is this romance even possible? I’ve set it in Season 1 to have some chance. Read and find out!


Saturday lunches were supposed to be a cheerful time. The rest of the weekend lay ahead, and a meal was the perfect way to unwind from a stressful week of classes. Try telling that to Jeremie, though.

He’s physically sitting at our table, sure, but he’s not really here. The laptop he’s staring at is the center of his world. Usually when he gets like this, he just skips lunch and stays in his room, chatting with Aelita. But today, that wasn’t the case. It’s almost as if he needed the personal contact, yet resented that.

Odd is cracking a joke at Jeremie’s expense and he doesn’t even notice. Ulrich strains a smile and sends a pointed look at me. I try to smile in return, but it’s hard. Everyone at this table is hurting in one way or another. Jeremie is frustrated at the lack of progress on bringing Aelita here. Odd’s grades are pitiful, and as carefree as he is on the outside, he aches on the inside. Ulrich seems to let nothing faze him, but there’s this sense of pain in his eyes that I haven’t seen until recently.

And me? I want to know what causes them all to hurt. I want to fix it all. I want nothing more than to have my old, pre-Lyoko life back. Every day I wonder what could have been and what might be if Lyoko is taken out of the picture. I don’t have the heart to tell Jeremie I’d rather pull the plug some days, or tell Odd to just shut up, or tell Ulrich someplace he could shove that katana. I’m sure they have similar sentiments sometimes.

But Jeremie seems really off today, and it’s worrying. We all have our off days, but he is usually so composed about everything. I can take Ulrich sheltering all his problems and pretending they don’t exist, but when Jeremie starts following suit, I begin to lose hope a little. He’s been the unspoken leader of our gang since day one. It’s his skills that give power to ours, his mind behind our strength. We’d be next to nowhere without him.

He snaps the laptop closed and chucks his leftovers in the garbage as he exits. He never said a word the whole time he was here. Odd stops joking around and Ulrich lets out a sigh when Odd has his head turned.

“Was it something I said?” Odd asked. “I could’ve eaten those leftovers.”

“I don’t think so, Odd,” I say. Ulrich shrugs. “Something’s really troubling him. We should talk to him.”

“And get Einstein mad? I think not,” Odd grinned. Ulrich nodded, barely perceptible.

“I see,” I said. I got up and went to the door, and only then looked over my shoulder. They were already immersed in other things. Ulrich had pulled out his journal, and Odd was making go-go eyes at some girl that’d slap him later.

‘Since when am I the only risk-taker of the bunch?’ I asked myself as I went up to Jeremie’s room. If he’d been talking to Aelita at lunch, he’d certainly be there. If he was fiddling around with her materialization, he could be at the factory. He usually does let us know about his attempts, so that’s probably not the case. I knock solidly on his door, confidence showing through in a brief adrenaline rush.

“Come in,” he replies in monotone. I enter, and sit on his bed.

“What’s up?” I try to keep conversation light, hoping to keep him talking until I unearth whatever’s bugging him. He’s silent, and more warning flags go up. I get up and lay a hand on his shoulder. I sigh mentally, glad this isn’t a polymorphic clone, at least.

He slightly trembles at the touch, but I keep my hand where it is. He needs to know I’m…we’re there for him. From the reflection on the computer screen, I see Jeremie’s pupils aren’t even moving. He’s just staring blankly at the screen, eyes dead.

I take a closer look at the screen over his shoulder. The communication window is open, but Aelita isn’t there. At least I know they have been talking now. That’s something to start with.

“What’d Aelita have to say?” I cautiously ask. Apparently I wasn’t cautious enough, because no sooner than I had finished the sentence than he’d risen up out of the chair and turned to face me. I was suddenly glad I am a year older and a couple inches taller than him. I had never seen that kind of barely-contained anger in Jeremie before.

“Jeremie, I…” but he cuts me off by lunging at me, fists balled up and aiming for my head. I dodge, more surprised than I may ever have been in my life. He keeps raining blows at me, backing me up to his bed as I block the attacks. I stumble as I reach the bed, falling back on to it. He finally scores a hit, and then a couple more in quick succession, all to my torso. I try not to let him see the pain, physical and emotional, within me.

The punches blur into one another as he keeps the haymakers up. I had been fighting back, but I stopped after I realized he needed this, in some sad little way. He can’t go to Lyoko; he has no fights with monsters to vent emotions. He’s been a kettle waiting to boil, and now that kettle is screaming.

“WHY?!” Jeremie finally says as his right fist rests an inch from my head. We’re both breathing hard, ragged. He’s winded himself, and sinks down to the bed next to me. I clutch my stomach and wonder how much bruising there will be tomorrow. I look over at him and see he’s curled up into a fetal position, tears dripping down his face and onto the pillow he’s clutching. Wincing, I sit up and again reach out and put a hand on his shoulder. There is no tell-tale flinch this time.

Jeremie relaxes into the touch, audibly sobbing now. I am unsure of what to do. He’s opening up before me, and I can do nothing but sit there and watch. This task set before us has been harder on him than any of us, despite not having any physical fights. No; his are mental battles, and they seem to have taken a greater toll than any of us could have predicted.

“Jeremie?” I nearly whisper as his sobs turn into hitching breaths.

“Yumi…” he says after a bit, and it sounds so sad I can’t help but throw my other arm around him and hug him tight. He stiffens up at first, but relaxes again shortly. He doesn’t have the energy left to put up a tough-guy façade.

“Jeremie, tell me what’s wrong. It hurts me to see you like this,” I say to him.

“It does?” He wriggles loose so he can turn over and look at me. I guess I seem honest enough, because he continues on. “I feel like I’m letting everyone down, Yumi, and you know me “ I can’t stand not being as close to perfect as possible.”

“But that…this is not your normal reaction to that situation,” I say slowly. “It’s sorta scary seeing you like this.”

“It’s scaring me, too.” Jeremie wipes his eyes and regains more of his composure. “I’ve always been able to beat anything I set myself to do. But not this. I’ve met something I can’t solve, someone I can’t understand.” He looks a second away from breaking down again. I don’t want to see that happen, but I press on.

“Aelita,” I say, and there he goes again. His head disappears under the pillow, but it only muffles the anguish. At least he’s not punching me now. I rub his back, and he stills. “Something go wrong?” I ask, as much kindly concern in my voice as I can muster.

“It’s been going wrong for a while now,” Jeremie says as he re-emerges. “I just didn’t realize it. Aelita’s been having doubts I haven’t wanted to listen to for a while now. Maybe I am going about this all wrong, but aren’t I doing it for all the right reasons? Doesn’t everyone need something to fight for?”

“Yes,” is all I say as I nod to urge him to go on, get all this out while he’s willing.

“If Aelita starts doubting me, I start doubting myself. I’m beginning to lose the only thing I have worth fighting for.”

“Oh, and I’m not worth fighting for?” I didn’t mean it so harsh. I clasp a hand over my mouth, eyes wide.

“Of course you are, but she’s the reason we started this,” Jeremie responded, feeling defensive as well.

“And now you don’t want to finish it because of a little doubt?” I can’t contain the outrage I’m feeling. We’ve been at this for so long, and he’s willing to drop it for some nagging doubts? I grab his shirt collar and haul him up so he’s sitting face-to-face with me.

“But that’s not it,” Jeremie started. I let go and look deep into his eyes. He sits there, passive, trembling now in fright instead of anger. What is going on inside his head? What would make him doubt so much as to be willing to abandon Lyoko and Aelita.

Then, it clicks.

“You’re afraid of what happens next, aren’t you?” H’s still silent, but he’s gone rigid again. “You don’t want to face the possibility of Aelita rejecting you, do you?”

“Can you blame me?” he says plaintively. “Why bring someone here who won’t fit in, won’t be appreciative of what we’ve done…who won’t love me.”

I see red flash in my vision, and before I know it, I’ve slapped him. His glasses lay on the floor and a bruise is forming on his cheek.

“You fool!” I shout at him. “You narcissistic, short-sighted fool. It’s not about that. It’s about the commitment you made for her. You cannot let that go, and if you think she’ll react like that, then you’re not worthy of her love.” I finish venting and just know I’ve ruined any discourse we’ve had. He’s glaring at me, but a long-absent twinkle in his eyes is back. “Jeremie?” I question.

“I needed that,” he says simply. “Thank you Yumi.” I can feel my mouth flapping, useless, as I try to regain some sense of balance.

“What?” is all I manage.

“We all have our demons to face,” he says. “We’re all hurting, in some form. And only together will we succeed in our cause.” He scoots closer then, and hugs me. Not in some awkward guy-hug type of way, but like he truly means it. Only now, I know he does. Shyly, he kisses my cheek as he lets go.

“What?” It’s like I’ve been reduced to that one word.

“You looked like you needed it,” Jeremie is finally smiling. “It may not be from Ulrich, but give it time. He’s still fighting his fights, and he’ll come around.”

“Thanks,” I squeak out. I wasn’t expecting that, but I should’ve learned by now not to expect anything in this crazy world. We both get up at the same time, elated yet settled down. I head for the door and Jeremie watches me go, longing in his eyes. I can’t help it, again. I cross the room, and kiss him “ hard. Call it an impulse, call it what you will. The situation called for it.

When we part, Jeremie is the one reduced to “What?” I laugh out loud and pat him on the shoulder.

“It may not be from Aelita, but give it time. You’ll find a way to bring her here. I trust in you. You should, too.” I turn to leave again, a stunned young man in my wake. I’m about to shut the door, when he regains his voice.

“Y’know, I think I do now,” he says. “I think I do.”
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