"Every Step I Willed"- a Code Lyoko Fanfiction [AU] Title: Every Step I Willed Author: Artemis of the Ice a.k.a Artemis Winter, Fanfiction.net ID 118285 Rating: PG-13, to be over-cautious Notes: This is going to take place a few months after “False Start”; don’t kill me for twisting things around, it’s going to be a rough ride for the dear characters. This is more of my usual style; my vignette “Revision” was a rogue piece of fluff. Summary: Things can change. People can change faster. The group isn't as together as they used to be, and Yumi knows something that they don't. Always expect the worst. Disclaimer: Me no own. If I did, I’d not be a broke high school student; also, if one were to sue me, they’d inherit an aluminum foil dagger, a jar of macadamia nuts, a list of Sindarin song lyrics, and a cage full of plot bunnies. Chapter 1: I Saw A Star Rise In one month- One measly month- Things can change a bit. They can change quite a bit. In fact, in one month, things may begin that can turn everything before it completely upside down. ---------- Jeremie and Odd looked at Ulrich in disbelief. He shifted a little, and shrugged. “What? I’m telling the truth.” The blonde genius took of his glasses. After wiping them on the hem of his shirt, he put them back on. Unfortunately, the person standing in front of him was still Ulrich. It was the end of the first day of classes back, and things were already perplexing. Odd could only shake his head. “What would-” Jeremie clapped his hand over Odd’s mouth, effectively muffling only one word that came out sounding like “mm-ee”, then removed his hand- “-think if she heard this?” The three boys were standing under the tree that was their normal meeting spot, and were exchanging news after nearly eight weeks of vacation. Odd had gone to a skateboarding clinic [a/n: camp] in the United States, where his parents were “on the other side of the world”, and had come back the same but decidedly more of a daredevil. Jeremie had stayed behind to work on Aelita’s antivirus and keep an eye on things. Ulrich had stayed also, but often left the campus to go to other places around the city. They were all taller than they had been before the last time they’d seen each other. Yumi had- Where had Yumi gone again? Yumi had apparently stayed in France, but a different part, doing goodness-knows-what. The principal knew where she was, and her parents knew, but her closest friends didn’t know. It infuriated them to no end. But back to the issue at hand: “You’re out of your mind,” Jeremie muttered. Ulrich grinned lopsidedly. “Give her a chance!” The girl who was the subject of their current debate regarding Ulrich’s sanity level, stood, surprisingly timidly, to one side. Odd gave her a sidelong glance, and sighed. “I’ll do it, but I can’t say that her history with us is that great.” Jeremie pinched the bridge of his nose to offset the headache he just knew was coming. “You can swear on your life that…Sissy…is trustworthy?” Ulrich nodded, and gestured to her. “She’s changed. She’s not the sadistic girl that you knew…besides, after the diary incident, she knew about Lyoko and we can’t keep it all from her, can we? She can help us.” Sissy stepped forward. “I’m truly sorry for everything I’ve done. I’ve actually always wanted to be part of your group…” She trailed off, blushed, and went silent again. Odd held her gaze, not allowing her to back out that easily with a few sweet-sounding words. “You know how much trouble you’ve been for us over the months? You repent for all the times you stepped on others to reach your goals?” He felt righteous indignation on behalf of the absent Yumi, who was like an older sister to him. Ulrich moved to him, palms up, pleading. “Come on, Odd. Come off of it.” Odd shot his best friend a glare, feeling an almost unreasonable sense of betrayal. As if in defiance, Jeremie held his hand out to Sissy, and she shook it. Reluctantly, Odd did the same, although he let go of her hand quickly. Ulrich grinned, and took Sissy’s hand. “Thanks, guys.” Odd looked at the pair of them, and the way they kept tossing shy looks at each other, and rubbed his forehead. What would Yumi think? Her longtime obsession had fallen arse-over-elbow for someone they’d not have suspected over the course of a few weeks. Forcing his eyes away, he exchanged glances with Jeremie, who he knew was thinking the exact same thing. It wasn’t going to be easy to integrate her into their circle in the first place, and with Aelita coming soon, it was going to be even harder. Sissy couldn’t be a great influence. She could be another member of their group, but she could never be a member of the friendships they had. “Thank you greatly for consulting me,” a smooth voice from above them said. They all looked up, startled, and a figure swung off the tree branch, landing elegantly on the ground before them. You couldn’t call that voice smooth. It was silky in a deadly, dangerous sort of way. Yumi had made her entrance, and she had pulled out all the stops. She had changed like the rest of them, but hers was made more drastic by the fact that all of the changes were subtle. Her hair now fell gently past her shoulders, curling very slightly at the ends; she had grown curves to accompany an unnerving grace in her movements, and there was a cold, adamantine look in her eyes that jarred them. It was the look of a person who was hunted. Also, something small, black and metal protruded about a quarter of a centimeter out of the heels of her boots. “Hi,” she added belatedly, addressing the slack-jawed group with an accusatory air. Sissy shrank back unconsciously into Ulrich, and Yumi’s eyes narrowed imperceptibly. Yep, things had changed while she was gone. Suddenly turning to Jeremie, she asked, “So, what’ve I missed? How’s the progress on the antivirus?” He brightened, grateful to be turning to a safer subject. “I’m actually done with it! I’ve been working on it for the whole month and enlisted some help from Aelita herself; it’s going to work. We’re going to make one last trip to Lyoko and get her. I have a feeling it’s not going to be easy.” Yumi nodded slowly. She saw Odd next. “Hey- how’d the skating go?” He grinned. “It was awesome. Next time we go to the factory, I’m going to be pulling tricks the whole way.” She smiled at that, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes. The reason became evident when she finally turned to the pair behind her. Jeremie and Odd braced themselves for the impending outburst, but they were all to be surprised. Yumi held out a hand to Sissy. “Welcome to the unreality.” Sissy simply stared for a moment, then hesitantly clasped hands with her archrival. Yumi shook it firmly, dropped it, and stepped back. She gazed off into the distance for a minute, and closed her eyes. With a visible effort, she turned to Ulrich, letting her emotional barriers slip for one moment. Her cold eyes locked with his wary brown ones and turned into wavering pools of confusion and betrayal for one second; then the instant was gone as if it had never happened. With her shields back up, she moved away, and a piercing cry could be heard. It didn’t come from Yumi. A striking bird swooped down from the sky, scattering the students in the courtyard and eliciting cries of astonishment from many. Yumi raised her hand, and a red-tailed hawk back winged to a stop on her arm with a curious gentility, its talons not tearing the fabric of her sleeve. Yumi ignored the questions coming from her supposed friends, and spoke in a low voice to the bird. “What is that, Yumi?” “Where’d it come from?” “How’d you tame it?” “Where have you been?” She looked back at the owner of the voice who had cried that last inquiry, and her dark brown eyes once again held Ulrich’s. “I’ve been bracing for the worst.” She looked away, and stroked the delicate feathers behind the bird’s neck. Almost as an afterthought, she raised her arm, and the hawk took to the skies again. Disregarding the looks of awe and admiration coming from all who had witnessed it, she walked back to the group and stood in front of them. “We need to get Aelita before the end of this week, or we won’t be able to see her at all. She can stay with me; the arrangements still stand. If you think X.A.N.A’s shutdown marks the end of all our troubles, you’d be right, but it’s not all over yet.” She turned to Sissy, and fixed her in place with a look that might have split titanium. “You get to earn our trust, but if you want to back out now before you get involved in something way over your head, I’d advise it.” She closed her eyes again, tilting her head to the side. Then, abruptly as she had come, she was gone like a zephyr. A stunned silence reigned, and then the dam broke. “What is she talking about?” “She made me feel like I was inferior!” That was Sissy. Ulrich’s voice had dwindled to a whisper. “She made me feel weak.” Odd looked in the general direction of where Yumi had originally been standing. “She’s more powerful than we think, I think. Am I the only one who thought so but did she look as if she was older than she really was?” They contemplated it, and could only agree. She had seemed like a war veteran. Ulrich shook his head. Yumi was too headstrong; it was one of the reasons he hadn’t gone after her. She was too wise, too knowing- it made him feel uncomfortable. They were weak excuses, and he knew it. But he felt more secure with Sissy- he’d never have to worry about her, and he could play with her mind as well. He liked being in control. A large part of his conscience was currently yelling rather creative phrases at him to describe its frustration. He pulled Sissy closer to him, one arm around her waist, and shook it away. His brain was perfectly capable of controlling his heart. His heart thought otherwise; it had a mind of its own. ---------- Artemis: Please excuse the utter OOCness. I’m still recovering from writer’s block. I feel rusty. Anyway, please review; constructive criticism would be appreciated, flames will be used to start a fire in the backyard of my annoying neighbors. Yes, I know it's confusing- it'll get explained eventually. No, I'm not telling you the pairings. And yes, this is multi-chaptered.