A.N. – Very A.U., dark, sick humor. Could be a season three piece, I guess.

Hazed

William was dead. The broken body, lying haphazard near the cafeteria's entrance, was kind of hard to miss. The blood pooled quickly in the dirt, seeping and gurgling its way toward the cafeteria, where not one chair remained filled as the student populace stared out the windows.

Sissi had her hand cupped over her mouth, and could not stop staring. Herb and Nick lingered behind her, conversing quietly. A bit further down by the door, the gang (minus Odd) was being a bit more open in their discussions.

"What exactly did you say to him?" Ulrich was at once confused and steadfast.

"I only told him the truth," Yumi replied tersely.

"And the truth was?"

"That I wasn't interested in fucking him, and that I believed that he wasn't, either."

"And what do you mean by that?" Jeremie cut in.

"He was trying to get to me to get to Ulrich," Yumi stated.

"The hopeless romantic takes on a whole new meaning, then," Ulrich said. "He had no hope of ever getting what he really wanted."

"So, you tell him this, and half an hour later, he jumps of the dorm's roof?" Aelita asked.

"Holy shit!" Odd had returned, and didn't like what he saw or heard one bit.

"Not so loud!" Yumi hissed, making him and Aelita shrink back. Sissi inclined her head briefly their way, and then turned to join her cronies. "There had to have been other reasons…"

"And why wouldn't he want to talk to me first?" Ulrich said. "I could have tried to work this out with him, find a common ground we could live with."

"You know him, all spur of the moment leading to rash decisions," Yumi said.

"Yeah…" Ulrich trailed off as Jeremie pointed out Jim coming out with the principal. They gave pause to look at the body, but neither could stomach it for long. They made their way into the cafeteria to address the students.

"We have called the police, but before they get here, we need to know – did any of you see exactly what happened?" the principal asked. A chorus of no's greeted them. A couple of students had heard a dull thud, but no one had seen him actually jump from outside. Everyone had been down eating dinner.

"Very well, then. Jim here will escort you back to your rooms," Principal Delmas said. "Day students, please return home and inform nobody of what had happened. The matter will need to be thoroughly investigated, and Mr. Dunbar's parents informed."

"So he is, really…" Millie trailed off, choked up.

"Yes, unfortunately."

Jim caught her as she fainted. "Now everyone, follow me. You're to stay put until the police are through."

"C'mon, let's go. My room," Jeremie said.

"I'll call you when I get home, then I'll sneak out," Yumi said. They parted ways, grim expressions on their faces.

xxxx

After Jim had left, Odd and Ulrich had crept out of their room to Jeremie's. A few minutes later, an out-of-breath Yumi joined the boy Einstein to discuss matters further. The door shut soundlessly behind Yumi, who pushed the lock for extra caution, and opened the Pandora's Box they'd all been thinking about but couldn't say while in public.

"How much do we tell them?"

"As little as possible, obviously, but we can't be silent, either," Jeremie responded.

"That won't go over well when the police find us together like this," Ulrich said.

"True, but we have one thing on our side - we didn't kill him," Odd said.

"Yes, but we could have possibly prevented it," Aelita said.

"And that's the problem. Homicide through negligence is a crime, too," Jeremie pushed up his glasses. "But we don't tell them our secret, and they don't know that."

"And if we tell the truth, they'll find out we were the last people to be with him from some student.," Ulrich sounded really depressed.

"I did kinda run off fast with him between classes," Odd shrugged. "It was a pain tracking him down, though."

"But we can't give away Lyoko!" Yumi was barely containing an outburst. "They find that, we're screwed."

"We know, Yumi," Aelita patted the Japanese girl on the shoulder. "We still have things to do. We can't let anyone stop us."

"So, what do we make up?" Jeremie suggested. The others gaped. "We tell them as much truth as possible, but we can't tell them how he truly died. We'd all be arrested, and Odd…"

"I'd be jailed for sure," he said. "Being found with the body isn't exactly something to clear your name…"

"We all probably have prints or DNA on the body," Ulrich intoned.

"How can you be so calm about this?" Yumi had resisted, but needed to vent. "Our actions have led to the death of a student…no, a friend." She started crying softly. "How can your consciences cope? Aelita I could understand, but…"

"But what?" Aelita was livid. "Just because I spent some time as a virtual being, I'm out of tune with human life? I hurt, too. I'm scared. But I know enough to fight it, to keep on going. You have to as well. For all of us. One of us breaks, and it's over."

"What, you think we're going to get hauled off and interrogated?" Odd asked.

"Anything's possible," Ulrich deadpanned. The room grew silent as Yumi calmed down as everyone thought.

"What if we tell them what we were talking about earlier?" Aelita said.

"That'd keep everyone but me and Yumi safe," Ulrich said. "A lover's triangle is tricky to sort out."

"But it never happened like that, exactly. I was bullshitting in front of Sissi, mostly for effect," Yumi said. "Sure, William had some quirks about him, but him going through me for Ulrich? That's ridiculous."

"But by saying it publicly, we have targets on our backs," Ulrich said. "It doesn't matter how much was fabricated." He paused. "How much DID you fabricate?"

"I did turn him down recently, just not today. And he seemed awfully OK with it, so I took it to mean he was interested in someone else besides me maybe," Yumi exhaled. "I ran with it to mean you when put on the spot. I didn't know you knew about it."

"I didn't; I was faking, too." Ulrich looked sheepish. "We had to think of something for the suicide angle to look real. A lost love seemed good, and you were the perfect candidate."

"But by doing so, you're now at risk," Aelita said. They all nodded and went back to the other problem – what to say when questioned. Another stretch of silence passed, only interrupted by Odd.

"Why didn't we discuss this when it first happened?" he queried.

"We were all sort of freaked out and not thinking straight," Jeremie said. "We've had an hour to mull this over. The hard part should be over – we've done all that we can to make it look like he jumped. But we need to get our stories straight."

"If they look into his immediate past, they're going to see some strange occurrences anyway," Ulrich said. "He's been acting off since he found out."

"It was his choice to stay," Yumi said. "He dug his own grave and now he's lying in it."

"Yumi! Pick a better saying next time," Aelita scolded.

"I liked the lover's spat thing, though…" Odd said out of the blue.

Both girls rounded on him. "Pervert!"

"So?" Odd flashed a brilliant smile that shut them up. It disappeared as he continued. "I must be, to volunteer to throw him off the roof."

"It's not your fault you're nimble and agile in real life, too," Ulrich said. "I did goad you with a skinny comment."

"So?" Odd said again. "In one way or another, we're all in this together. We're all to blame."

"But will the police see it as such?" Aelita asked, cautiously. "It was set up so it looked as if he killed himself. What's to point to foul play in all this?"

"Fingerprints," Odd said.

"But do any of you have police records?" Aelita asked. They shook their heads no. "So why should you be concerned? Why should any of us be?"

"They'll go through the school database and get them," Jeremie said matter-of-factly.

"Could we alter our fingerprints?" Yumi asked. Just then, someone knocked on the door. Jim's voice could be heard: "We need everyone down in the cafeteria again. We got a late dinner prepared, and the Principal wants to speak…" his voice faded as he walked down the hall, knocking on the other doors. Jeremie peeked his head out. Jim had gone.

"If it's questioning, go with the lover's thing, Yumi; it's all we got," Jeremie looked defeated.

"Fine." Yumi sounded anything but.

As grim as earlier, they made their way down to the cafeteria. The police were there – talking to the Principal and outside cleaning up the crime scene. William was no longer there. The students were being directed to sit at some tables by a makeshift stage while dinner was laid out.

"Well, let's see if they added 2 and two to get four or five." Jeremie said as they sat down.

The Principal motioned for quiet and received it. "The police have done a thorough investigation and concluded that William's death was a suicide." A gasp went up in the cafeteria, though that had been the general consensus earlier that day amongst them. "His family will be here tomorrow to sort out matters, and a funeral will be held Saturday. Classes will be cancelled until then. You are encouraged to attend the funeral if at all possible. That is all. Try to enjoy your meals and get back to bed. I hope we can all get through this – together," With that, Mr. Delmas stepped off the stage and the students began hushed conversations anew.

"It worked," Odd said.

"Apparently," Jeremie let the relief he felt to flood his voice.

"No love triangles for me," Yumi sang. The group looked over at her askance. "Guess I'm just de-stressing."

"We're in the clear, guys. Lyoko's safe," Ulrich said. "XANA tried to fuck us over, but we got through it."

"It'd be in bad taste to celebrate, but it's what I feel like doing," Aelita said.

"We can do that later. We have a funeral to attend this weekend. We lost one of our own," Jeremie said. Reluctant nods followed his words. "We did get through this – together."

And a table over, Sissi watched as the gang dug into their food, a malicious smile on her face.