A Growing Family
A Code: Lyoko Fanfiction by BenRG
Code: Lyoko, and the canon characters, situations, technologies and events depicted therein are the property of Antefilms Productions and Moonscope.
The character of Anya Belhopper was created by Son-Neko (aka Kat) over on DeviantArt.
This is a vicious, uncontrollable plot bunny that has come to life. After seeing a series of comic strips about some unanticipated consequences of Aelita's Season 2 naiveté, I feel compelled to tell the story of how a pair of 14-year-olds suddenly became parents to a 8-year-old girl.
Kat, I thank you for the inspiration and words of encouragement.
Remember that, at this point, everyone thinks that Aelita is an embodied AI computer program, including her. She thinks that she is a piece of software; she will therefore think in software terms when addressing problems of the physical world.
This is set some time in Season 2 and rapidly goes hyper-AU. I will feel free to play heck with the established continuity of the show in any way that pleases me as this is a fanfic and that makes me KING, at least as far as this tiny corner of the fan-verse is concerned. :-p Just call me XANA to the canon and you will be fine.
Censor: T - Just for safety's sake
Chapter 1 – A Walk In The Park
Ulrich Stern was normally a very quiet, self-contained person who rarely admitted to emotions, a personal life or even a past history before his enrolment into Kadic Academy. Therefore, Andreas 'Odd' Della Robbia, his best friend, was most impressed at the grin that had formed on his quiet friend's face as he watched the latest member of what Odd personally thought of as 'The Lyoko Crew' dance through the grass and flowerbeds of Kadic Municipal Park.
Aelita Stones was laughing, her face radiant with a beaming smile as she tried to take in all the sights and sensations of Earth all at once. Most people who looked at the twirling pink-haired girl would just imagine that she enjoyed the peace and beauty of the park. Only the three boys accompanying her (and a currently absent girl) knew the real cause. Aelita was, in human terms, only a few weeks old, having previously only existed in an astonishingly complex computer-simulated world called 'Lyoko'. The elfin artificial intelligence had been an invaluable ally in their struggle against XANA, a computer virus that originated from Lyoko but seemed determined to destroy the world, and the four of them in particular.
From the start, Jeremie Belpois, the gang's resident genius and computer hacker, had been determined to free Aelita from her existence as a mere piece of AI software and give her a life in our world. Now, the shy blond boy was quietly watching the girl on whom he had a planet-sized crush as she took a kind of religious joy from the simple sensations that, after fourteen years, he had begun to take for granted.
"It's so beautiful!" Aelita gasped. "Even the Forest Zone is nothing like this! So much colour! So much life! Oh, I never imagined that your world could be like this!" Ulrich hoped that no one was listening too closely. Still, having visited all the zones of Lyoko, he had to agree that the park was a major improvement in environment. Suddenly, he noticed that Aelita had stopped her twirling progress. "Jeremie… what is that?" she asked, pointing hesitantly at something.
Jeremie looked up and smiled slightly. Aelita was looking at a blonde woman pushing a baby in a buggy along a path through the park. Aelita, whose previous experience with humanity was virtually nil, was startled at the sight of what appeared to be a slightly distorted miniature human.
"That's a baby, Aelita," Jeremie said with a slight smile, enjoying the girl's obvious amazement.
"A 'baby'," Aelita said quietly, tasting the word and trying to fix it, and the sight before her, in her memory.
"Yes," Jeremie said, instinctively going over to 'lecture' mode. "Humans do not just pop into existence fully mature, Aelita. We are born very small and nearly helpless, as babies, and slowly grow into adults. It takes us between eighteen and twenty-one years before society considers us sufficiently mature to look after ourselves."
"Although we think we are ready a lot earlier, right Einstein?" Odd laughed. They all enjoyed the irony that five people, who the law saw as 'children' and unable to control their own destinies, were sole protectors of the world against a threat most adults did not even know existed.
Aelita frowned, puzzled at the amusement her three friends were clearly experiencing but deciding not to pursue it. Instead, she decided to follow her initial line of inquiry regarding the 'baby'. "If you are helpless when you first come on-line, then how do you survive?"
"We exist in social units called 'families', made up of usually two adults and a number of children," Jeremie explained. Aelita nodded seriously. "The adults are responsible for the care of the children and most of raising them to maturity."
"Which can be a lot more trouble than you might think. Right Odd?"
Odd rolled his eyes at Ulrich's tease. "Hey, Ulrich, my parents never punish me because of my grades!"
Ulrich grinned in a predatory fashion. This was an old taunt that they had exchanged for years. "That is because they're so laid back that I doubt they'd care if you flunked all of your classes, Odd."
Odd took on a look of wounded dignity. "My parents' view of my well-being is more enlightened than a mere list of grades, Ulrich," he said in a pompous tone of voice.
"Maybe but at least my way, I get cool stuff when I don't flunk!"
Odd paused and blinked in simulated surprise. "Hey, I never thought of that! Maybe having uptight parents is a blessing in disguise!" Both boys started laughing at that, long inured to their frustrations from their respective parents' eccentricities.
Jeremie was impressed by his ability to hold a straight face as Odd and Ulrich performed their Vaudeville routine. Aelita looked like the two of them had suddenly gone mad. "So…" the materialised AI said slowly, "if raising a child is so difficult and so fraught with ambiguities and problems… why would anyone do it?"
"Well, there is the instinctive drive to perpetuate the species," Jeremie replied thoughtfully. "However, from what my parents say, a child completes a family. Many pair-bonded couples choose not to have children but those who do find that it can be a cause for joy despite the stresses."
Ulrich and Odd both blushed as they unintentionally flashed on memories of good times with their respective families. Yeah, the good times usually outweighed the bad, no matter how frustrating the bad got.
Aelita noted these reactions with a slight smile, finally getting the idea. "I would like to have a family," she said at last.
Odd sauntered over to slap the girl on the shoulder. "No rush, Princess," he said with a grin. "Plenty of time to have fun before having to deal with the responsibility."
"Besides, we're your family now," Ulrich said, surprising himself with the strength of his feelings on the subject.
Jeremie smiled in a surprisingly warm fashion for a normally reserved boy. "That is correct. One definition of 'family' is a group of individuals who live together and give each other support, direction and comfort as needed. I think that we certainly live up to that description."
"Yeah! A family!" Odd liked the sound of that, so he grabbed Ulrich and Aelita by the arms and used them to herd a blushing Jeremie into an impromptu group-hug.
Aelita also blushed furiously (wondering at the sensation all over again) but had enough presence of mind to ask the next question that logically arose from the topic at hand. "Jeremie, where do babies come from?" That killed the mood. Aelita observed the expressions of panic on her three friends' faces with some puzzlement and wondered what she had said wrong.
"Uh…" Odd said. That certainly beat Ulrich, whose mouth was opening and closing silently, making Aelita wonder if she needed to access his synthesiser settings to turn his voice back on.
"Perhaps… Perhaps you should discuss that with Yumi," Jeremie offered. "She is, after all, also female and would have a similar perspective on that question to you."
"Yeah, ask Yumi," Odd said with a fixed smile.
On the other side of the suburb of Kadic, Yumi Ishiyama, the fifth member of the Lyoko Crew, was sitting at her family dining table. Unlike the other four, the fifteen-year-old Japanese girl was a day student, commuting to and from the Academy for classes from her family home (the others all boarded at the Academy, as their homes were far distant or, in Aelita's case, in a completely different plane of existence). Yumi was eating a light lunch this Saturday with her mother and pesky kid brother, Hiroki.
Suddenly, she felt a strange sensation, as if someone were discussing her without her permission or presence. The girl sneezed. Yumi's mother smiled at her. "If you were to wear clothes that didn't leave your belly exposed, you wouldn't get chills," she announced. Yumi blushed and automatically tried to pull her cut-off black tee shirt down to cover her waist. Simultaneously, she wondered what was going on.
After ingesting the late-day nutrients required to keep her human body operating normally, Aelita sat down in her recently-assigned dorm room to consider the day's events.
Yumi had been kind enough to teach Aelita a simple utility called 'meditation' that allowed her to partially shut down her sensory inputs and commit all her processor cycles to properly organising the new data that she had acquired during the day and ensure that the correct new algorithms resulted. Right now, perched in a lotus position on her bed in her dorm room, she was considering the unsatisfactory outcome of her discussion with her friends on the matter of babies.
Jeremie, whose advice and opinions she trusted implicitly, had stated that the social grouping known as a 'family' was completed by the inclusion of 'babies', which grew into 'children' and, ultimately, into mature humans over a period of tens of solar orbital cycles. Ulrich, whose ability to communicate complex information was more suspect than Jeremie's but far less so than Odd's, had said that the grouping of five friends who defied XANA both on Lyoko and on Earth classified as a family, of sorts. This opinion was further bolstered by the fact that Jeremie agreed with it.
Logically, this implied that their social grouping was incomplete because there were no children for them to raise to maturity. When she had relayed this error to the others, all three had gone an interesting shade of red that she had learnt indicated an extreme emotional event of some kind. Odd had recovered first and had agreed with Aelita's assessment (which, now she had the chance to re-process the raw data, was probably a negative event). He had turned to Ulrich and had suggested that he and Yumi were in an ideal position to remedy this shortfall.
Ulrich had once again experienced an extreme emotional event. After several seconds of processor overload that had disabled his synthesiser subsystem, the brown-haired warrior had informed Odd that he and Yumi weren't 'like that'. Furthermore, they had not 'done anything like that' either. Aelita was confused and was about to ask Ulrich what patches and updates the samurai and geisha required in order to carry out this function. However, Odd pre-empted her by turning to Jeremie and informing her blond-haired counterpart that, as Ulrich and Yumi were unable to do so, he was certain that Aelita would be more than glad to assist Jeremie in rectifying this lack in their family grouping.
Aelita was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to perform such a key function in their group so soon after her materialisation and suggested to Jeremie that they should schedule time to do so immediately. Jeremie's resulting processor lock had Odd lying on the ground, nearly non-functional, laughing uncontrollably (Aelita knew that this was an automatic response to amusement, having done it a few times herself). Jeremie and Ulrich had glared at their purple-loving blond friend with sufficient anger that Odd should have been instantly de-virtualised.
Jeremie had told Aelita that the process of producing a child was far more complex than she appreciated and informed her that it would take several days to explain it to her in sufficient detail for her to understand the process and all its implications. Ulrich had congratulated his friend on his courage at volunteering for the task, however Aelita had noted that Jeremie had not actually done so.
Aelita opened her eyes and looked around her dorm room, waiting for her systems to return to operating norms. Jeremie was a busy person, of course. His primary concern at this time was to write the anti-virus algorithms that would free Aelita from her interconnection with XANA that meant any attempt to destroy it would kill her too. Aelita could understand that he had little time to dedicate to such a complex process as creating a child. Aelita smiled as she realised that she was in an ideal position to assist him by doing most of the work herself. Indeed, the first step in the process was smiling at her from the other side of the room.
The pink-haired girl stood and walked over to the cork notice board on the wall opposite her bed and looked at a hardcopy image that she had made during a computer science class just last week. They had been using an intriguing graphical manipulation tool called 'Photo Fusion' that allowed you to slowly 'morph' an image into a second image through several intermediate forms. The class had amused themselves by taking photographs of each other and then freezing the morphing process about halfway and printing out the resulting 'child'.
The terminology used in the class reminded Aelita of the limited information Jeremie and Ulrich had been able to give her about babies (in between attempting to strike a hysterically laughing Odd over the back of the head). They had told her that babies were the result of a blending of the essences of two existing humans, one male and one female. Aelita looked at the picture of the blending of the images of her and Jeremie thoughtfully. The result was a person with most of Jeremie's facial features (including his eyeglasses) but more feminine and with longer pink hair that displayed some of the untidy nature of Aelita's own hair.
Aelita took the photo-quality printout and smiled at the happy face on it. She was due to return to Lyoko for twelve hours tomorrow, which was convenient, as she would require the capabilities of the Supercomputer as accessible from a Tower to proceed with her plan. Until then, she would require further data on babies and children that she would be able to access from the Academy's databanks, a facility called the 'library'.
Aelita checked her watch and noted that curfew was almost upon her. Well, that would simply require her to evade the guardian known variously as 'Jim' (to almost everyone) and 'The Big Fat Clown' (to Odd). Thanks to several night-time adventures with her friends, she was confident that she would be able to deal with this without too much difficulty. After nearly a solar cycle's experience of avoiding Blocks, Tarantulas and other minions of XANA, it was unlikely that a lone human would be too much of a challenge.
to be continued...