A.N. – I do not own Code Lyoko. Pity, that. Anyway, this is the fic Ransomed Heart requested I do for winning my guess the lyrics contest over at Lyoko Freak. So, this is dedicated to her. On with the fic!

Ulrich and the Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

Ulrich was NOT having a good day.

He'd been awakened at 4 in the morning by Odd and one of his "fits of inspiration." This had led to enduring three hours of impromptu drumming on various objects in their room, leaving the soccer star with a splitting headache as he headed off to the showers before breakfast.

He stepped out into the hallway and walked to the bathroom, only to be confronted by a line usually only seen in front of the girls' bathroom when Sissi was preening. The reason made itself clear soon enough. Jim opened the door to the bathroom, wrench in hand.

"Sorry, guys, but a pipe froze overnight and burst. This bathroom's out of commission." A chorus of groans greeted this news.

"What are we supposed to do now?" Ulrich asked.

"Well, you're NOT to sneak off and use the girls' shower, that's for sure!" Jim bellowed, and then left to get more tools.

So, Ulrich trudged back to his room, feeling gritty and none too happy. He walked in to find Odd had gone and done a Matthew Mcconaughey. He was sitting on his bed, butt naked, and drumming on a pair on bongos.

"ODD!" Ulrich shielded his eyes as Odd grinned.

"Seemed like a good idea at the time…" Odd jumped off the bed and scrambled to get some clothes on. Ulrich had definitely lost his appetite, so he decided to skip breakfast. Instead, as Odd rushed off to the bathroom (Ulrich "forgot" to tell him about the problems there), he pulled out his journal.

I had a shitty morning. No big surprise, really, but this one includes naked ODD and no shower or breakfast. I hope something goes right today, or else I just might go jump into the nearest line of traffic.

No less soothed after venting, Ulrich wandered off to breakfast anyway to have some company. Once there, he met up with Jeremie and Aelita.

"You don't look so good, Ulrich," Jeremie said. "Want to talk?"

"You better ask Odd about it when he gets here," Ulrich deadpanned. "I don't think I care to relive this morning's events ever again."

"Not to pile on," Aelita gently interrupted. "But care to study for the history quiz, Ulrich? Or would you rather eat first?"

She and Jeremie both were rather surprised when Ulrich ran outside to puke in the bushes.

xxxx

"Thank God for lunch to break apart the day," Ulrich almost sounded happy, but only because his punishment was over for the morning. Besides bombing out on the history quiz, he'd fallen asleep in math class, and had gotten detention that afternoon. That meant he wouldn't be able to compete in the soccer game later. He shuffled into line to get some food, when a sense of foreboding came over him.

Sissi stepped into line behind Ulrich and immediately tried to wrap her arms around his waist.

"Knock it off," Ulrich threatened. "You better be glad Yumi's not here yet. She'd go ballistic if she saw you."

"In you dreams, Ulrich dear," Sissi retorted. "Do you have to resort to a girl to defend yourself? Maybe I AM chasing after the wrong boy…"

"You've finally come to your senses, then," Ulrich smiled for the first time that day as he picked up his food while Sissi's jaw dropped. She composed herself as they went to sit down.

"But I'm still interested, and don't you forget it!" she said as she made to sit next to him. Ulrich shooed her away with some effort and bit into his food. Stone cold. He grimaced but continued eating. He didn't have much in his stomach after that morning. The rest of the gang, minus Yumi, trickled in soon thereafter.

"Where's Yumi?" Ulrich asked as the others joined him.

"Dunno. I haven't seen her today," Odd said. The rest concurred. Ulrich's smile of a few minutes ago was but a memory. He quickly finished his lunch and excused himself from the table. He trudged back to his room and sought solace in his journal.

The morning was a total waste. School blows. I swear, the only thing that gets me through it sometime is my friends. But when the most important one seems to be ignoring me, I start to wonder. Figures when I need a confidant, she's not here. Maybe I'll be writing in you this evening with good news for once. Doubt it, though…

He snapped the little book shut as Odd came in. "Ready to gets our asses kicked?"

"How so?" Ulrich was confused.

"Our annual physical education test. Y'know, no games, just push ups and the like, for two hours. And it's outside, where the wind chill might as well be lethal. What's not to love?"

"Love, right…" Ulrich trailed off as they made their way to a torturous afternoon.

xxxx

"Is it supposed to stay swelled shut this long?" was Ulrich's first question as he walked into the infirmary. Jeremie had accidentally tripped Ulrich up when running the hurdles, and he'd gone barreling headfirst into one of the infernal devices. Yolanda gave him a sympathetic glance and an ice pack.

"It probably will take the evening to go down. The soreness, may last a week or more. I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize." Yolanda was taken aback. "This must've been pre-ordained or something, with all the rotten luck I've been having today."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Yolanda managed to sound comforting.

"Thanks for the ice pack," Ulrich added as an afterthought as he walked through the door. He had to go the art room for detention, as Jim would soon be busy coaching the soccer team. They'd be hopeless without him, Ulrich mused as he walked through the halls, ice pack to his left eye. He nearly bumped into four people on his way to detention, so he was glad to have a seat and be told to "Shut up and don't even THINK about having fun," when he arrived.

Ulrich did not have his journal with him, but he did grab some paper from the shelves and started writing.

Why me? What did I do to deserve all this misfortune? I want so badly to be out there, to kick the crap out of that soccer ball to work off this aggression. But I can't. The only thing I'm going to get here is a slight high off the paint fumes. Maybe then I'll forget this hellish day.

Just then, the art teacher cleared his throat loudly, and Ulrich reluctantly dragged out his Science book. At least he remembered about that quiz tomorrow. Grumbling, he bent his head over his notes to half-heartedly study.

xxxx

Dinner was at least warm, Ulrich thought as he sat down. He couldn't quite tell what the meat was, but it beat reading his science text. He heard from Odd that the soccer team had lost 6-0. The rest of the gang was doing their best to dispel Ulrich's bad mood.

"They played with energy," Aelita said.

"And if they didn't, Jim chewed them out," Odd said.

"Yeah, you probably missed a good ear lashing," Jeremie finished. Numbly, Ulrich ate. The rest, seeing their efforts were to no effect, joined in. Every so often, Ulrich poked his head up to scan the room for Yumi, but he'd long since come to the conclusion she must be home sick. He again inhaled his (disgusting) meal and moped off to his room.

"Should we follow?" Odd asked.

"No. He needs some alone time to calm down," Jeremie said. "C'mon, you can hang out in my room."

"So, does that mean no Truth or Dare tonight, Jeremie?" Aelita asked. He blushed as Odd looked askance at the duo.

"We'll have to, err…tome it down a bit, is all," Jeremie managed. Odd busted out laughing as the group headed upstairs for the night.

Ulrich, meanwhile, had put his scraps from earlier into his journal and sat down to write again.

I hate it when I'm right. This day sucked, no way around it. The soccer team lost, my eye is all black and blue and I can barely see out of it, and Yumi has mysteriously gone absent today. I'm just glad this day's about over. Maybe if I go to sleep now, I won't have to endure more of Odd's snoring or antics. OR…

The journal lay forgotten as Ulrich dashed out the door.

Ulrich did not slow down as he got outside. If Jim caught him, he thought, it'd be a perfect fit to end his day. If not, there was still a possibility his bad luck would follow him. SO he ran, through the school gates and the dimly-lit streets until he found himself in front of a familiar house.

Pausing to clutch a stitch in his side, catch his breath, and rub at his watering, swollen eye, he peered up at the lit window on the second floor. He was briefly reminded of Romeo and Juliet, but thought it better to just knock on the door. Maybe if the Ishiyamas saw his misfortune, they'd take pity and tell him what was up with Yumi. Hesitantly, he raised his fist to the door and knocked.

He didn't have to wait long. The door opened up, and Mr. Ishiyama greeted Ulrich with a half-smile, half gag.

"Honey, it's Ulrich. Could you grab the first aid kit?"

"I'm fine…" and "No, really, it's OK," didn't seem to work as Mrs. Ishiyama came bustling in and tended to Ulrich. She dabbed some salve under his eye and stuck a Jimbo-like bandage over the swelling.

"Can I see Yumi now?" Ulrich asked as civilly as possible considering the circumstances. "I came over to see why she wasn't in school today." The Ishiyamas were surprised, and didn't bother hiding it. "The messed up face has nothing to do with it, I swear!" Ulrich backpedaled.

"It's not that," Mr. Ishiyama started. "You see, we thought she DID go to school today." Mrs. Ishiyama looked close to tears, and Ulrich's face was a mask of concern.

"You sure she told you she was going to school when she left?" Ulrich asked.

"Yes. She said, 'Bye Mommy, and grabbed her bag and went out the door, cheerful as can be," Mrs. Ishiyama replied.

"I'm going to find her," Ulrich clenched his fists. "And I'm doing it alone."

"But why? We could help you," Mr. Ishiyama said.

"She might not want to see you right now…or me," Ulrich said. "But she might talk to me."

"Oh, just go then," Mr. Ishiyama conceded. And with that, Ulrich sped out the door.

xxxx

"And you're sure this is a XANA attack?" Jeremie was dumbfounded.

"Yeah. XANA loves inflicting misery on us. What better way than for him to take Yumi away? The rest of my bad luck is his fault, too." Ulrich paused. "But I don't think she's on Lyoko. XANA's already done that before. He probably has her trapped somewhere. I'm checking the factory. Get the others and search the school. Inform the principal. The Ishiyamas already know." Jeremie hung up, and Ulrich ran even faster.

He saw the factory ahead, as dark and ominous as the inky black river shielding it. Crossing the bridge, Ulrich jumped for the rope at full sprint and slammed feet first firmly onto the floor. He tapped the elevator button mercilessly until it arrived and took him down.

Just as he arrived to the supercalculator's level, the lights went out and the door refused to open. Ulrich kicked the door and punched the panel, but nothing happened.

"Shit! I've walked into a trap," Ulrich bemoaned. He felt around and stood in the corner of the elevator in a defensive stance, ready for whatever XANA decided to throw at him. Slowly, the elevator door creaked open, the greenish glow of the room beyond barely providing illumination. No noise came from the other room, which worried Ulrich. If he couldn't hear Yumi n there, she was either not there or out cold. The doors shifted again, slowly at first but then wide open with one grand thrust. Ulrich threw up his arm to protect his darkness-adjusted eyes.

'Great…I'm going to die like a coward, hands up in fear,' was all Ulrich could think as he was seized around the middle and dragged into the room.

"Let go of me, you evil fuck! I'll kick your ass!" Ulrich yelled.

"Well, happy birthday to you, too," Yumi grinned and let go of the struggling teen.

Ulrich fell to the floor, shell-shocked. Yumi held out her hand as the others came out from hiding behind the supercalculator.

"What. The. Hell?" Ulrich said as he was righted and much more kindly embraced by Yumi.

"Go on…" she jokingly prodded.

"But it's not even my birthday yet…" Ulrich was still trying to get back to sorts.

"By my watch, it just went past midnight," Jeremie said.

"Besides, d'you think we'd let all that happen to you on your birthday?" Odd spoke up.

"So the early wake-up…" Ulrich began.

"…was deliberate," Odd finished.

"The track collision?"

"I didn't mean for you to end up with a shiner," Jeremie sheepishly laughed and rubbed the back of his head.

"And not helping me, or even telling me of the quiz?"

"I had to contribute in some way," Aelita looked just as nervous as Jeremie.

"And your disappearing act?" Ulrich looked crossly at Yumi.

"How else would we get you over here?" Yumi smiled again. "We thought you'd jump to the XANA conclusion earlier, but you had to go to my parents and tell them. Now I've got some explaining to do. We've been waiting over here for an hour."

"And you weren't in school…to set this up, then?" Ulrich was just noticing the balloons and streamers and soccer ball shaped cake.

"Correct." Yumi pulled Ulrich over to the dessert. "Are we going to party or what?"

"No XANA attack?" Ulrich voiced his last concern.

"Only in your head," Yumi cut a slice of cake and lifted it to Ulrich's mouth. At the last moment, she made to shove it in his face, but Ulrich, whose adrenaline was still pumping hard, reached out and deflected the blow. Yumi's momentum carried her right into Ulrich, and he found himself again on the floor.

There was only one difference this time.

Ulrich's mouth, which had been open waiting for the cake, found something far more delicious inside it. Yumi was startled into stillness for a moment, and her mouth was unreceptive to the impromptu kiss. But then Ulrich started kissing her, and she could feel he meant it. Although she was beet red, she reciprocated.

Odd wolf-whistled at the duo, while Jeremie and Aelita blushed and pretended they weren't gawking. Slowly, the dazed teens pulled apart and sat up.

"Ulrich, I…" Yumi was silenced as he scooped up the cake and fed some to Yumi.

""You're going to have to try that again before I forgive you all for earlier," Ulrich grinned. Yumi's chewed the cake, mulling it over.

"Fair's fair," she finally said, and bent in to kiss Ulrich for real. Ulrich's hand came out of nowhere and splattered her with cake.

"Fair's fair, after all," Ulrich started laughing then, and everyone joined in. Wiping the cake out of her eyes (and checking to make sure Ulrich wasn't hiding any more cake), she captured Ulrich's lips once more. There might've been icing all over both their faces, and a black eye on Ulrich's, but they only thing their eyes saw at that moment was what they had been shielded from for so long.