Birds sang in the trees as a beautiful winter day greeted the Lyoko Warriors. The five teens sat on their favorite bench, enjoying the fresh air. Jeremy and Aelita were talking about Lyoko in low voices, and Yumi and Ulrich played with Odd's hair and a bottle of styling gel. It was a weekend, so no classes. A rumor had gone around that some new kids would be arriving soon, and Yumi, Ulrich, and Odd had volunteered to show them around. Wiping his hands on a paper towel, Ulrich glanced at his watch. "They should be here any time, now," he said to Yumi. She grabbed some more gel, added a few finishing touches, and stepped back to look at her work. Odd's thick blond hair was now a forest of spikes, each gelled to a stiff point and frozen solid. Yumi nodded, satisfied, then grinned evilly and stuck a purple bow on the tallest point. Ulrich laughed.

All heads turned as a green minivan pulled up to the school gates. Two children, a girl and a boy, jumped out and waved to the driver. The girl blew a kiss and the van drove away. Odd jumped up and headed toward them, ignorant of the purple bow in his hair.

The girl had shoulder-length black hair with blue highlights. She was wearing a baggy red hoodie with the sleeves cut off, layered over a violet long-sleeved shirt. The boy's hair was also black, but very tousled. The tips were green. His jeans hung low, brushing the tops of his black-and-white DC shoes. He kept his hands in the pockets of a purple zip-up sweatshirt. Odd grinned at them.

"Hi, I'm Odd. Are you the new kids?" The boy smiled and nodded. "But, aren't there three of you?" he asked, confused. "Aren't you triplets or something? That's what the principal said, anyway."

The girl smiled, showing even, white teeth. "I'm Ikara Darkwood. This is Brendan," she indicated the boy, who smiled and gave a little wave to Yumi, who had just walked up. "Kai's our sister, and she's already in her dorm, setting up."

Brendan broke in. "Kai's kind of shy. That's why." Yumi giggled at the unintentional rhyme, and Brendan smiled back, then noticed Odd's hairdo and snorted. "Hey, did you know you have a big purple bow in your hair?" Odd reached up, then swatted frantically at his hair. The bow fell off and lay forlornly in the snow. Ikara picked it up and grinned. "Y'know, I think this would look just swell right here!" She stuck it into the middle of the purple spot in Odd's hair, and everyone laughed.

The next morning, the three were waiting by the cafeteria door to show the Darkwoods around. Odd glanced to the right, to the left, then pointed. "Look! They're over there!" Ulrich glanced over, then stared, totally captivated. It was like time and the whole world slowed down for him.

Half sitting, half standing on a bench was who must be Kai Darkwood. Her waist-length black hair was tipped with red, as if it had been dipped into a bucket of paint. It fluttered like a banner in the wind. She was wearing a green Billabong hoodie with a stylized dragon on the back, blue-green Gap jeans, and brown suede boots. Her earrings (he couldn't make out what they were) glinted in the early morning sunshine. He watched as she jumped up, ran a little, then lunged and did a perfect cartwheel, then a backward handspring, leaving perfect marks in the dusting of snow covering the ground. The brown-haired boy was broken out of his reverie suddenly by Odd waving a hand in front of his face.

"Yo, Ulrich! Wake up, man! We have to go over and say hi!" Odd shouted. Ulrich jumped and looked guilty, then followed Odd over to the Darkwoods. Yumi was still inside the cafeteria, eating breakfast.

"Good morning!" Odd grinned cheerfully at Ikara, who was yawning. After she was done, she smiled back at him and ruffled his hair. Odd looked pleased. Yumi dashed over, realizing the others had left her alone, and glared at Odd. Brendan was lying under Kai's feet (she was sitting on top of the bench), lazily eating a doughnut. Kai was looking at her feet as she pulled her hair into a high ponytail with a green scrunchie. Ulrich stared at the girl, shaking his head slowly, as if he was punch-drunk.

"So, ready to go to class?" Yumi asked. Ulrich snapped out of his daze as the triplets unfolded their schedules. Yumi peered over Brendan's shoulder, and Ikara showed hers to Odd. Kai just stared at hers, and Yumi peeked at it. "Hey, Kai, right?" Startled, the girl nodded and looked down. "You've got the same schedule as Ulrich here. He can show you around." Yumi grinned evilly. Kai looked up at her, and then to Ulrich.

Ulrich Pov

She looked at me, and I felt my heart skip a beat. Her eyes were as green as the leaves of the trees, a bright emerald green. There was something . . . kind of like a sadness, or a secret, hidden in those eyes that made me want to know more about her.

Kai Pov

I glanced up at the Japanese girl, then over to the brown-haired boy she indicated. Our eyes met, and I felt . . . an indescribable sensation. His eyes were brown, dark chocolate brown, and seemed to be daring the real me to come out and play. He was staring at me, his mouth curved up in a silly smile, so I had to smile back. Oh, no. Nononono. Whoa, Kai. Slow down. You are NOT falling for a random guy you just met . . . Oh, who am I kidding, he is drop-dead GORGEOUS! Mmmm, and those eyes . . . Yummy . . .

Ulrich POV

I could see what her earrings were, now, a tiny diamond kunai in one ear, an emerald shuriken in the other. My heart thudded painfully, and it seemed like everyone in the world could hear it. I just wanted to . . . Hold it, Ulrich. Slow down, boy. No. Bad. Do not fall for girls you just met, even if she is the hottest thing you've ever seen . . . Oh, man, I think I'm in love . . .

Normal POV

The two teens just stared at each other for a while. Yumi noticed first. She poked Odd in the ribs and pointed at the two. He sniggered, and tapped Ikara's shoulder. She glanced over and promptly fell laughing on Brendan, who also looked. Soon, the four of them were laughing hilariously. Finally noticing, Ulrich and Kai looked away from each other and blushed. Thankfully, the bell rang with a clatter, and they all went to class.

Kai and Ulrich's first class was chemistry, which they had with everyone else. Mrs. Hertz, the teacher, asked the triplets to come up front and introduce themselves. Ikara bounded up, while Brendan and Kai followed. Ikara struck a pose. "Hi! I'm Ikara Darkwood, and these are my brother and sister."

"I'm Brendan," he waved.

"I'm Kai," she mumbled.

They returned to their seats, and Mrs. Hertz started the lesson. It was about how different chemicals could penetrate the brain and cause temporary insanity. It was pretty interesting. Kai yawned about halfway through the class, though. She felt . . . light-headed, for some reason. And no, it's not because Ulrich's sitting right beside you . . . Kai coughed, a light, almost silent cough. But it seemed that once the breath left her body, it wouldn't be coming back without a fight. She burst into a fit of coughing, gasping to regain air into her lungs. She tried to stifle the noise in her arm, so Mrs. Hertz wouldn't notice. Fortunately, she was telling Odd off for making a paper airplane and throwing it at Sissi.

Ikara and Brendan, though, both stared with worried expressions after they had heard the first little cough. They looked at each other, and a silent understanding passed between their gazes.

Soon, the coughs were out of control, racking Kai's frame as she bent over her desk. Mrs. Hertz finally looked up, concerned. "Kai? Are you all right?" The girl raised her head a little and shook it. "Why don't you go to the nurse, okay?" the teacher suggested gently. Kai nodded, then attempted to get out of her chair. Just as she was upright, another spasm of coughs shook her, and she stumbled, almost falling. Ulrich jumped up just in time to catch her.

"I'll escort her, Mrs. Hertz," Ulrich said, then wrapped an arm around Kai's waist and supported her out of the door. Once they were in the hallway, Ulrich carefully placed her against the wall. He could see tears streaming from her eyes, forced out every time she coughed. She gradually began to stop coughing. After about 10 minutes, 10 very painful minutes, Kai was back to normal, albeit rather raspy breathing. She wiped her mouth, and Ulrich was shocked to see flecks of blood. "Are you okay, Kai?" he asked, worried.

"I'm . . . fine," she said raspily. "I just need-" She pushed herself off of the wall and immediately crumpled to the floor. Ulrich made a strangled noise and knelt next to her. The girl struggled up again immediately, Ulrich's hand on her waist to help. She staggered to her feet and started swaying again. Ulrich's hand stayed around her waist, but his other one went around her shoulder to steady her.

"Okay, you're going to the nurse," he said, in a tone that meant no arguing. Kai nodded, then attempted to start walking, but crumpled again. Only Ulrich's support kept her up. She tugged his sleeve so his ear was next to her mouth. "Don't tell . . . anyone, please," she forced out in a whisper, then passed out. Ulrich hefted her up so he had one hand under her knees and one around her shoulders, holding her. Her head lolled against his chest as he started toward the nurse's office with his cargo.

A few hours later, Kai woke up. She cracked an eye open, then immediately closed it and moaned. The room spun and twisted. She became aware of a slight pressure against her head. And then something cool and moist replaced it. She sighed in relief and smiled, then risked opening the eye again. Ceiling. Then she opened the other one. Everything doubled, blurred. She blinked. A brown head bent over hers.

"Are you awake yet? Good," Ulrich said. "You've been out for a while." He leaned back and replaced the cloth on her forehead with another one. "The nurse said that whenever you felt better, you could leave." Kai struggled up. "I feel fine. I can go now," she swung her legs over and stood up, stumbled, and regained her balance. "See?" Ulrich nodded. "Well, it's time for P.E. with Jim. Shall we go?" Kai grinned. "One question, though. Do you know any martial arts?" Ulrich snorted indignantly. "Do I know martial arts? I'd like to let you know that I'm a master at Pencat Silek (Did I spell that right?), and I've only been beaten once." "Oh, really?" she chattered as they headed outside.