Through the whole class, Ms. Hertz went over the test. He decided to daydream the whole time. He didn't daydream of anything important—nothing about Yumi. He couldn't think about her anymore. She was usually going through his mind twenty-four seven—it was like she was a disease. A good one, though.

He snapped out of his thoughts when the bell rang. He gathered up his belongings and left the room without Aelita and Jeremie. The whole day went by fast, and he wasn't excited for tonight.

But, at the end of the day, the three of them went into Jeremie's room. Yumi was at home, waiting for her family to leave for the airport. Ulrich sat on the bed with a blank look upon his face. Aelita was sitting next to him, but didn't bother to talk to him. His mind was not focused on the room or on anyone. No matter how terrified he was, he couldn't tell anyone. He didn't want to go to Lyoko, nor did he want to go to sleep.

"We're going to have to go to the Desert Sector tonight," Jeremie said, typing away at his computer. Aelita gave him a surprised look.

"Shouldn't we go back to Sector 5 to get the data restored?" she asked him. But Jeremie shook his head, turned around in his chair. Ulrich raised his eyebrows as he saw the red rings under Jeremie's eyes. The genius folded his hands, propped up his elbows on his knees, and pressed his forehead against his thumbs.

"Not all of the information is in Sector 5. The basics are not in there. Xana bugged up the system pretty well. I have to fix the basics such as life points and your guys' abilities." He gave a long sigh of frustration and said, "It's going to be pretty dangerous tonight. And if Odd doesn't come back tonight, you guys may not make it, because I have a feeling William is going to show up again."

"Hey," Ulrich said darkly, "we defeated him last time."

"Barely. You guys almost got died, meaning you almost failed the mission, and not to mention that Yumi almost got killed."

"I saved her," Ulrich growled.

"Yes, we know that, but if Aelita didn't break free, the two of you would've been gone."

"We did the mission! That's all that matters!" Aelita yelled before Ulrich could retort back at Jeremie. She pulled her laptop that was sitting next to her up onto her lap and started a game of Solitaire. It became quiet in the room except for when Jeremie turned in his chair to face the computer screen and the clicking of the mouse.

"Aelita, why do you always play Solitaire?" Ulrich asked after a while. He didn't face her when he asked; he was staring at the pink and orange clouds outside.

"It keeps my mind going," she said. "I like puzzles, especially card games." She paused for a moment and then glanced at Ulrich. "Life is like a game of Solitaire. You never know what card you'll flip over, you'll never know what will happen next in your life. It's more like a game of luck and a little skill with a side of patience and concentration…to me anyways." She started another game.

Ulrich titled his head until it hit the wall. All of the sudden, his pocket started to vibrate. He jumped and Aelita glanced at him.

"Um," he said quickly. "My phone." He took it out of his pocket and saw that he had a text. "Open the door, or I'll kill you. From Yumi…."

Ulrich got up, and opened the door; as he opened it a little, it suddenly flung open. He stumbled backwards, tripping over his shoes and fell down.
"SURPRISE!" yelled a familiar voice. Aelita burst out laughing. Ulrich joined her. Jeremie turned around and his eyes grew wide. There was Yumi, with an annoyed expression on her face, and Odd was in her arms, with a huge smile on his face.

"GET OUT!" Yumi yelled.

"Drop me off the bed," Odd ordered. Yumi just tossed him onto the bed; Aelita quickly moved before she got hit. She was still laughing hysterically with Ulrich. She looked at Odd, who gave her a smirk.

"Welcome back, my knight!" she said happily.

"Good to see you, Princess!" Odd said happily. Yumi closed the door behind her, and took a seat next to Ulrich on the floor, and rested against Jeremie's wardrobe. Odd looked at Yumi and said, "That's for the lift."

"Yeah, you're welcome," Yumi muttered.

"It's good to have you back, Odd," Jeremie said.

"What, lost without me?" Odd asked with a cheesy grin. Ulrich pulled up next to Yumi, so that he could get out of Jeremie's way for when he spun around. He lounged back; his muscles seemed to relax. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Yumi stretch out her legs. She glanced at him. Their eyes locked for a moment before they turned to look away.

"Pretty much," Aelita said, answering Odd's question.

"So, Einstein," Odd said, "what's the mission for tonight?"

"When Jim is patrolling, we'll sneak out," Jeremie said. He looked at Yumi. "What about your parents?"

"They already left for the airport. My dad wanted to get there early…."

"Well, that's good. Anyway, you need to report to the Desert Region. That's where we'll be able to pick up your basics that got erased."

Odd's stomach growled loud.

"Um," he said, "can we eat first? I barely ate that nasty hospital stuff they call food."

"Sure," Jeremie sighed.

As the reached the cafeteria, Ulrich could feel the old familiar feeling. The feeling of no trouble. The feeling of not having to worry about missions as much. The feeling of being with his friends. Unfortunately, the got there late, and not much was left. Ulrich decided to skip out.

"Ulrich," Yumi said quietly as she got silverware.


"You know—" she held out a fork to him "—you can share with me if you want. I don't think I'm going to finish it all."

"It's alright, Yumi. You need to eat."

"So do you. Please. It wouldn't seem fair if you didn't eat. And you know how Aelita will get if you're not eating."

Ulrich flinched when he had the mental image of Aelita stuffing food in his mouth with force. He looked at Yumi for a moment. He couldn't believe how tall he'd become. Though she was still an inch tall than him, he didn't feel so small next to her. His eyes drifted to the fork she was holding out with one hand. He smiled softly, and took the other end of the fork. Yumi seemed happy, and gave him a wink. She took her tray, and the two of them went to go sit with the others. Tonight's dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, one of Odd's favorite meals. The two of them sat next to each other.

"Sharing a meal," Aelita said. She then smirked. "How cute."

Both Ulrich and Yumi blushed and glared at her. Aelita just giggled. Ulrich bowed his to hide his embarrassment.

"Lady and Tramp, much?" Odd snickered.

"If you keep talking, I place you back in the hospital," Ulrich growled. The other three laughed, and Yumi smiled. While they ate, a few students welcomed back Odd. Some gave him a hug, and others just patted him on his back.

"So what is the real reason why you didn't want to go to Tokyo?" Ulrich asked Yumi quietly so the others wouldn't hear.

As Yumi twirled spaghetti on her fork, she answered, "Well, Lyoko is one of the reasons. I've been to Japan so many times I know the streets like the back of my hand. It's a beautiful country, and Tokyo is amazing, but I'd rather just stay home with my second family for a change. My parents understand the school work thing…which I really do need to catch up on."

"Join the club."

"Your grades have been slipping? I thought you brought them up?"

"Oh, I did. It's just…I've felt like I've still missed a ton because of Lyoko…but I get out of class, so it doesn't matter. As long as my grades are good, it makes my parents happy. And if my parents are happy, then I'm happy."

"I can't say that it's the same with my parents, but it's similar."

They glanced at each other for a moment, and she winked at him again. Ulrich felt his face flush and little, but he smiled anyway. The one thing he liked about Yumi is that she understood him. Jeremie and Odd got along with their parents, and the two of them…didn't. They had family issues.

"So, Jeremie," Odd said as he swallowed his food, "are all of our powers gone?"

"No, you still have your powers, but they're a little bugged, along with your life points. So if you get hit once, you may just get devirtulized," Jeremie explained. He was pushing his food around with this fork.

Ulrich found himself doing the same thing. He was barely eating any of it. Yumi leaned over and whispered, "Aelita is about to give you a death stare if you don't start eating." He suddenly shoveled a mouthful of spaghetti in his mouth, and Yumi laughed. As he ate, he couldn't help but chuckle himself. He swallowed and laughed with her. The other three looked at them strangely.

Jeremie shrugged it off and then said, "Anyway, tonight is going to be complicated."

"That's only if William shows up," Aelita said quietly. She didn't want anyone to overhear her say that.

"I'm pretty sure he won't!" Odd said as he stuffed a meatball into his mouth. He swallowed it whole without chewing it. "The amazing Odd is back! Nothing will keep us from completing our mission!"

"Yeah, and if you say it any louder, the whole school will know," Yumi said she set her drink down.

"They will probably thing we're talking about a video game," Ulrich said. "You want that meatball?"

"No, you can have it. I'm full…."

Ulrich stabbed the meatball with his fork and then stuffed it in his mouth. Odd leaned back and patted his belly. He had a smile of satisfaction on his face.

"Nothing beats Rosa's spaghetti and meatballs," Odd said with glee. "That hit the spot."

Jeremie just shook his head and then glanced at his friends. "Now that Odd has had my portion and we're all full, can we get going?"

Time had gone by fast, Ulrich thought, as he realized that he was now at the factory. It seemed that he had blocked out everything in his head but his own thoughts. It was as if he was in his own little world. But when his feet hit the dry land of the Desert Sector, he snapped back into reality.

"Okay, guys," Jeremie said, "the tower is northeast. Hopefully you can make it there without any trouble."

"We're on it, Jeremie," Aelita.

"How about some vehicles, hmm?" Odd asked.

"You read my mind. They're on their way."

Ulrich saw his bike materialize. He hopped on it without wait for the others, and took off. The sooner they get there, the sooner he could go to sleep, though he rarely sleeps. It didn't take them too long to reach the tower. Aelita jumped off of the Overboard and ran inside.

"What? No monsters?" Odd asked. "Jeremie, are you sure that the monster system isn't bugged?"

"I'm pretty sure Xana wouldn't mess himself up," Jeremie said.

"There's something fishy going on," Yumi said. "I don't like the looks of this, Jeremie."

"Keep your guard up. You all have to go to Sector 5 once Aelita is done."

"I have a feeling that's where Xana is keeping is monsters focused," Ulrich said coldly. "He's letting us warm up and then he'll go in for the kill."

"Just stay cool for now," Jeremie said with a hint of worry. The three of them waited in silence while Jeremie went to talk to Aelita to see how everything was turning out.

"So, Odd," Ulrich said, "how was the hospital?"

"Ugh, it was terrible! Though, the nurse was a looker!" Odd said as he hopped onto a rock with a catlike motion.

"It wasn't all that bad, then," Yumi stated. She glanced up at the tower and let out a deep breath that she has been holding. Ulrich could read the fear in her eyes.

Aelita came out of the tower and directed them to a ledge. They were quickly transported to Sector 5. As they landed onto the starting point, Ulrich felt a shiver go down his spine.

"Let's stick together," he said. Aelita's eyes immediately locked with his. She trusted his instinct. She nodded and the four of them started to head for the opening in the wall. They came to an opening with no other openings. Aelita bit her lip in frustration.

"Jeremie, where now? There are no openings—" Aelita said. The path behind them collapsed until the four of them were standing on a single platform with no way of escaping.

"Oh no!" Yumi said as she drew her fans. Crawling up the walls of the end platforms far away from them were Creepers. There were hundreds of them, and they wouldn't stop coming.

"Damn it!" Ulrich growled as he drew his sword. "I knew it was a trap!"

"What now, Einstein?!" Odd yelled. The Creepers were staring at them, but not moving.

"We need a distraction! If Aelita can make it to the other side, then we'll be home free!"

"I'll stay," Ulrich said.

"Ulrich—" Yumi and Aelita said in unison.

"Aelita, just go. Yumi, you better go with her."

"No, I'm staying—" she protested. Ulrich glared at her.

"How about I help Aelita and come back over? Does that settle it?" Odd asked. Ulrich and Yumi looked at him and then at each other. Ulrich's heart started to sink. But he nodded. The vehicles appeared, and Ulrich hopped on his Over Bike, giving Yumi one more glance before leaving.

"Ulrich, there is a hole you can go through. It should be enough that the monsters will follow and die in the channel," Jeremie said. Ulrich could hear Odd cheering in the back round, signaling that he dropped off Aelita with success.

"OVER HERE!" Ulrich yelled. The Creepers turned their attention towards him. He gulped and then sped away, avoiding as many lasers being fired at him as possible. One hit his back, almost sending him flying over the handlebars, but he managed to stay on his seat. Odd was also luring the Creepers away by doing his fancy tricks in the air. Ulrich almost got hit with Yumi's fans a dozen times, but each time they flew by him, it killed a row of Creepers. He drove through the channel, leaving all the Creepers to die as they tried to follow him. He came out to the mainstream, where he faced a bigger problem.

"Whoa!" Odd said. He must've followed Ulrich through the channel.

"Jeremie, what the hell is that?!" Ulrich shouted. It was a giant Manta Ray. It was bigger than the average size; the size of the Colossal that Ulrich had to fight once in the Ice Sector.

"I don't know," Jeremie said, clearly just as shocked as them. The Ray started to come near them. It was faster than it looked. Ulrich and Odd started to fly away as quickly as they could. But Odd backtracked and flew towards it. If Ulrich could keep the Ray occupied, then Odd could try and kill it. The Ray fired a beam that almost hit Ulrich. It wasn't an average beam. It was the beam of death. He looked behind him, and saw Yumi come up behind the Ray. As she threw her fans, it hit the Ray in the back, weakening it, but the tail of the Ray hit her off of the Over Wing.

"YUMI!" Ulrich yelled. He started to fly over towards her as she fell. Her scream pierced his ears. He could imagine her vanishing into the digital sea. He sped up and zoomed quickly over to her. The Ray was following him. Just as Yumi's foot scratched the surface of the sea, Ulrich reached out his hand to her. Yumi reached up and grabbed his hand. He flew up and away from the digital sea with Yumi hanging on.

Odd went in front of the Ray to direct its attention away from Ulrich. The Ray followed Odd and left Ulrich alone. Ulrich got a chance to finally pull Yumi up onto his bike. He leaned over and grabbed her other hand. He pulled her up, until she was able to climb on. She sat behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.

"Thanks, Ulrich," Yumi said as she breathed heavily. "I owe you."

"You don't owe me anything," he said as he began to ride over to Odd.

"You have to kill that Ray before it gets Aelita! When it fires its death beam, that's when you're able to kill it," Jeremie said.

"Figures," Ulrich said bitterly. "Are you ready for a sacrifice?"

"Do I have a choice?" Yumi asked.

"No." Ulrich flew next to Odd and nodded to him. Yumi seemed confused. But she quickly got what he saying as Odd was picked her up.

"NO!" Yumi yelled. But Odd pulled her up as Ulrich raced ahead.

"Sorry, Yumi, but you're not going to be sacrificed today," Ulrich said. He turned around to face the monster. He heard its death beam charge up. He got one good look at Yumi as she watched in horror. He had never seen that kind of horror in her eyes. It was normal for one of them to do self-sacrifice, but this was different. Ulrich was blinded by a white light as the beam engulfed him.

When he opened his eyes, he saw that he was crammed in the scanner. The doors opened, and he was lying half in and out of it. He didn't move. He couldn't get the image of Yumi out of his head. He has never seen that look in her eyes before. What's gotten into her? Ulrich thought. The other scanner doors opened, and Odd stepped out quickly.

"Where are the others?" Ulrich asked as he remained on the floor.

"They—" Odd was gathering his breath. "Boy, that scanner knocks the wind out of you…. They're still in Lyoko. The Ray is gone but Aelita is having some trouble—do you want some help off of the floor?"

"Nah, I got it," Ulrich said as he got up off the floor. The third scanner doors opened and there was Yumi curled up in a ball. She rose up slowly and crawled her way out. Ulrich got up, and helped Yumi off of the ground. She took a hold of his arms and used them to pull herself up.

"I'll go see if everything is alright with Jeremie," Odd said as he entered the elevator. Ulrich and Yumi didn't look at him.

Ulrich released Yumi as he heard the doors to the elevator shut. Yumi was staring him down with wide eyes. It wasn't like her to be silent. And it certainly wasn't like her to be scared.

"When did they tell you?" Ulrich asked quietly.

"They didn't tell me, Ulrich," Yumi said hoarsely. The way their eyes connected was powerful. It was the strongest connection that they had; they could practically read each other's mind. But right now, it was cloudy.

"Then how do you know?"

"I heard Odd telling Aelita about your sleeping conditions as we were heading over here. It started to make sense. I know what your fear is, Ulrich."

He remembered how he ran ahead of the others on the way over to the sewage entrance to make sure the coast was clear. Of course, Odd had to open his big mouth. But it wasn't Odd's fault entirely. It was Ulrich's fault too for not telling her.

"Don't be scared," Ulrich said bitterly, "because X.A.N.A. will take advantage of your fears." He took a step closer to Yumi, and clenched his hands into fists. He could feel his blood boil underneath his skin, and his face turning a deep red color. He gritted his teeth together and he glared at Yumi. "I'm sorry if I'm causing you this pain, Yumi! But…UGH!" He started to walk towards the elevator, but she grabbed his wrist and turned him around violently. She had a tight grip on him.

"But what?" she said darkly.

"I afraid of losing you! You know that! Especially in this situation!" he yelled as he jerked his wrist from her grasp. "And I know you hate all that bullshit, but it's true! I'm sorry if I care for my best friend!"

The scanner doors slid open, and Aelita stepped out, almost collapsing to the ground. Ulrich rushed to her side, and caught her before she dropped to her knees. His tone of voice changed to a softer tone as he helped her to the elevator. "You alright, Princess?"

"Just fine, thanks, Ulrich," Aelita said as she gave him a weak smile. "I'm able to walk." She showed him by walking into the elevator. "Come on now; let's go see what Jeremie has to say."

"Just a second, Aelita," Yumi said. "Ulrich and I need to finish something."

"Oh…alright then," Aelita said hesitantly as she read Ulrich's eyes again. Ulrich bit his lip hard as the elevator doors closed. There was a long moment of silence between them. Ulrich shook his head slowly and put his face in his hands. He rubbed his eyes and then looked at Yumi and saw that she was still there, staring at him with gentle eyes.

"How did we get here?" Yumi asked quietly. "I used to know you so well."

He used to read her every thought and her every move. But it felt like it all collapsed in his lap.

"I don't know, Yumi," Ulrich said. Yumi seemed just as aggravated as he was.

"I don't know how I wasn't able to find out what was wrong before hand. It's like you blocked me out—"

"I didn't want you to know!" he snapped.

"Why not?!"

"You would've taken it a different way! You would've thought of our non-existing relationship and say that you can take care of yourself! And then you would've blocked me out, and that would've been awkward—" Ulrich took a deep breath before finishing "—and I didn't want to see X.A.N.A. break us apart! Lyoko may have brought us together, but it's tearing us apart…with William and X.A.N.A.'s attacks…it's too much, Yumi." He let out a heavy sigh and then leaned up against the wall. "It's like our friendship is going down the drain, and it's all because of me."

"But the way you left me behind to go kill yourself in Lyoko? You won't get a second chance at life if you do that in reality! Are you really going to do that?! Because if you die, your death won't solve a problem, and you won't get another chance to live! It'll just make me and everyone else miserable! This is not a game, Ulrich! You can't just press the Reset button and restart everything! We have one life, and if we screw up, we're pretty much done for."

"I did it so we could complete the mission! It's normal for us to take self-sacrifices! You know that!"

"It's not the same if you do that in real life."

"Oh, what about you? You just flung yourself towards the Ray—"

"How the hell was I supposed to know that it was going to hit me? It could've hit anyone of us. The Ray could've gotten Odd, and you would've gone and saved him too!"

"But the thought of you getting killed is mortifying!" He grabbed her by her shoulders and looked her straight in the eye. Ulrich then started to yell, shaking her as he did so, "ESPECIALLY WHEN X.A.N.A. IS AFTER ME, AND THROUGH ME, HE'S TRYING TO KILL YOU!"

Yumi glanced down at her shoes and let the awkward silence linger in the air. Ulrich let go of her, and ran his hands through his hair. His brain was pounding and it was aching.

"If you just told me the truth—" she said quietly.

"But is it always the best to tell the truth?" Ulrich asked through gritted teeth. "Is it always the best option? There are some things that we need to keep to ourselves. And my fear was one of them."

Yumi didn't respond. He couldn't tell if she was angry or not. She chewed on her lip briefly before saying, "The only thing I fear is us not being together at the end. I know that our relationship is stronger than the others, but to keep it strong, you need me to tell me what's wrong with you. Ulrich, you've been there for me many times…. X.A.N.A. is targeting you. I'll be there for you just as you've been there for me. Don't become arrogant because of this stupid situation. You can worry about me, but have faith, will you? I know you have it."

"But you don't know the pain it's been causing me. You don't know the images I've seen." He began shaking. "It's disturbing, Yumi. It's burned into my skull, pulses through my veins, pumps into my heart, coded in my blood." Yumi stepped closer to him, almost in a touching reach. "I've already lost our relationship, but I don't want to lose you. I don't want it to be me that may cause your death because of my fear."

"X.A.N.A.'s playing with your mind, your emotions—"

"And it's got the best of me," Ulrich whispered. "It's like a disease that can't be cured. It's going to make me ill until the time comes to end it with death." He shuddered at the thought of the image of Yumi lying on the ground, bleeding uncontrollably. "I can't let that happen…." His voice was shaking. "I won't let that happen." The images made him angry and upset. His hands curled into fists. But he was surprised as he felt Yumi wrap her arms around him. He realized at this point that X.A.N.A. was winning the battle in his head. But as Yumi squeezed him tighter, he could feel something connect again that had been lost a long time ago. Ulrich cupped his best friend's face in his hands and put his forehead against hers; with his growth spurt, it was easy for him to achieve that move.

"Don't make me get mad at you," Yumi said.

"I'll try not to."

"Don't give up…don't give in."

"I can never give up on you…."

Yumi put her head on his shoulder, and Ulrich wrapped his arms around her. He wasn't going to be the death of her. I need to stop being a little girl and fight, he thought bitterly to himself as he buried his face in Yumi's hair. His heart was beating at a rapid pace. I won't be defeated…I won't let my guard down.

At that point, it was as if Yumi read his thoughts, because she looked at him. She smiled weakly at him and rustled his hair with her slender fingers. "That's the Ulrich I know," she said. She pressed the button for the elevator, and second later, it came. The two of them stepped in the elevator; the tension between them because to decline, but slowly. Ulrich was still a tad mad, and so was Yumi. As they entered the lab, the other three didn't look at them.

"About time," Odd said, his eyes glued to the computer screen.

"Odd," Aelita said, casting him a dark glare. Jeremie cleared his throat to get their attention.

"Congratulations, guys! We were able to fully restore the basics!" Jeremie said happily. "And as a bonus, we were able to recover some other lost data that would've taken weeks for me to get!"

"Yahoo!" Odd yelled in excitement. "I say we have a party tomorrow in our room! We'll celebrate this victory!"

"And that you've returned safely from the hospital," Aelita added.

"Does that sound alright to you, Ulrich?" Odd asked.

"A little party couldn't hurt," Ulrich said, suddenly going from angry to happy. Jeremie took his headset off and placed it on his keyboard.

"Alright, guys, lets head back. I have a test tomorrow, and I need to study," he said. Odd and Aelita both scoffed and rolled their eyes.

"Like you need to cram anything else into that head of yours," Odd said. Jeremie glared at him.

The gang exited the lab, all in a good mood. Ulrich and Yumi didn't talk to each other, but they stayed close. Ulrich could tell that Yumi was listening to Jeremie and Aelita's conversation about the missing information they had collected. But he zoned out of it. He heard something near by snap, and it wasn't some small animal. The low sound of footsteps traveled near them. His feet stopped moving and they stayed planted on the ground.

"Ulrich?" Yumi said. His head began to pound rapidly. The pain was killing him and it felt like a hammer was driving a nail into his brain. He hadn't realized that he had been breathing heavily or groaning until Yumi placed a hand on his shoulders. As soon as he looked into her eyes, he saw images from his nightmare flash before him. But he was mostly seeing red. It was as if Yumi could see what he was saying, because she was mirroring his expression. He yelled out in pain as he saw the image of not Yumi, but himself lying on the ground bleeding. It flickered in his brain like a strobe light. He blocked out his friends' voices and concentrated on his thoughts. He needed to see what was happening.

What is coming? Ulrich thought. There was a serious of images flashing through his mind, until he said, "Jeremie, Odd, take Aelita back to the school!"

"Ulrich, what—?" Jeremie began to ask, but Ulrich glared at him.

"Don't ask questions!" he snapped. "Just do it!"

"What about Yumi?" Odd asked. "We can't take her back to the school! Jim will flip!"

Ulrich's eyes locked with Yumi's. She didn't look as scared as she did in the scanner room. They didn't have to say anything to understand what they had to do. Ulrich's stomach sank as he heard a growling sound. The gang turned to see what it was. It was a pack of wolves. They were staring at them with hungry eyes; X.A.N.A.'s eyes.

"Go!" Ulrich yelled. He and Yumi separated from the others, and took off running. He could hear the dogs behind them; their pace was explicitly fast.

He felt one of the dogs jump on him, and tackle him to the ground. The dog was close to ripping off his face, but he had managed to throw the dog off of him. As soon as he got up, he saw that Yumi was gone.

"YUMI?!" Ulrich yelled. He began to go in circles, seeing if he can spot her. "YUMI—?!" As he turned around he felt a hand clasp over his mouth. He saw that it was her, and he let a sigh of relief as she removed her hand.

"Let's keep going," she breathed. She walked ahead, leading the way to the street that was still a ways to go. As she past a large tree, something grabbed her.

"YUMI!" Ulrich yelled. He saw her get thrown and slammed into a tree. Just as he was about to run from her, a man stepped out from behind the tree. Ulrich could see the sign of X.A.N.A. in his eyes. But the rest of the man was shadowed. Ulrich tried to scramble over to Yumi, but the man grabbed him and he took a blow to his stomach. He staggered backwards and fell over a tree root. He felt a fist punch him in the face, and a foot jab him in his lower ribs. As he took more blows to his body, he tasted a metallic liquid in his mouth, find out that it was his own blood.

He managed to throw the man off of him, and tried as he could to defeat him. Ulrich found himself wrestling with the man. He got his revenge by beating the hell of X.A.N.A.'s personal hit man. His head was still pounding heavily, but it was getting worse. His body was trying to tell him that he shouldn't go any further with the fight, but he started to go past his limits. Pushing past his limits was a bad mistake, for he found himself being thrown to the ground. He could feel blood leak from the corner of his mouth. His body was paralyzed. The man stood over him with what seemed to be a blunt object. He was standing over Ulrich with angry eyes.

"No, this can't happen," Ulrich whispered.

But the man fell over to the side forcefully. Standing behind the man was Yumi with a giant spiky branch. She gasped at Ulrich, and dropped the branch. She pulled him up carefully, and practically carried him through the woods. Ulrich couldn't help but cling to her as she helped him. "I'm…tired—"

"Shh," Yumi hushed, "don't talk. Save your breath."

He had the feeling that X.A.N.A. was still following them. But he felt relief when he felt his foot hit concrete. The dim light from the street light blinded him. "Hang, on, Ulrich. We're almost there," Yumi said.

They finally made it to her house. The sound of the door closing behind them made him feel safe. And her family wasn't home, which made it better. Yumi rushed him upstairs and forced him into the bathroom. Ulrich leaned up against the counter, ready to collapse. He looked at himself in the mirror and was horrified at his image. He looked like he just got out of a mental institution. He was surprised when he heard water run, and saw that Yumi was filling up the tub. When she turned around to face Ulrich, he just nodded, and she left. She closed the door behind her, and left him all alone.

The room smelt like Japanese blossoms. It smelt just like her. The door reopened and Yumi said, "Here are some fresh clothes. Just leave yours outside the door, and we can washthem." She placed a pile of clothes beside him.

"Can I keep my boxers?"

"There is a new pair that hasn't even been used. It's fresh out of the bag."

"Oh, okay then."

"I know it's awkward, but I think you'll feel better once your clothes are washed."
"Will you be able to get the blood out?"
"I think I can."


"Take your time. There's another bathroom that I can use, so don't worry. I'll call Jeremie and tell him we're okay." Yumi then left him alone again. He sighed softly and stripped down to his birthday suit. He then did as what Yumi instructed and left his blood stained clothes outside the door.

As he sunk into the hot bath, he felt his muscles relax. It sent a tingly feeling through them, because before they were constricted and filled with pain. From the tub, he looked in the mirror again and saw a giant gash on his temple, blood, still coming from it. He dunked his head underwater and then rose for air. His face didn't look as bad as he thought it would've been. There was a scratch along his jaw, and one on the side of his nose. He felt a bruise on the top of his head, and was lucky that it wasn't on his cheek, where it should've been. His body had been torn up from the falls and attacks.

He applied soap to his wounds and it stung. It was almost like he was pouring salt on it. He washed up quickly before relaxing. His closed his eyes, ready to fall asleep. It felt like he drifted off into a small slumber, because when he opened his eyes, the water wasn't as hot. He got out of the tub, and dried himself with a towel that Yumi had supplied him. He drained the tub as he dried off, and put on the pair of pajamas that were left for him.

Ulrich felt better as pulled the pair of black pajama pants on. He stared at his chest, looking at the nasty scratch that was there in which he had no idea how it got there. He opened the door and walked down the hall. He knocked on the door to Yumi's room, and the door creaked open. Yumi was in a pair of dark green pajama pants with a black tank top on. She was throwing her clothes in the hamper. Her room also smelt like Japanese blossoms.

The feeling that he got when she turned around to look at him pierced his heart. He could read the sadness in her eyes. He entered her room even further, closing the door behind him.

"Yumi—" Ulrich began. But he got cut off as she came crashing into him. She was squeezing him tightly, afraid to let him go. He found his arms wrap around her waist. His heart began to beat loudly as he hugged her back. Yumi slowly backed away from him and examined his body.

"I'll be right back," she said. Before Ulrich knew it, she was out of the room. It didn't take her long to reappear. She had a first-aid kit with her. She opened it, took out a bandage roll.

"I suppose a simple band-aid isn't going to seal this, is it?" Ulrich asked with a cheeky grin. Yumi gave him a soft smile, realizing that he was trying to cheer her up.

"No," she said as she placed a bandage over the cut on his temple. He closed his eyes as she patched him up. She seemed fine when he bandaged his leg and arm, but her hands trembled as her hands landed on his chest. He glanced at her as she placed the bandage across the cut on his chest. A deep crimson filled her pale cheeks. One of her hands moved over to where his heart was. Ulrich's face was now turning red.

"Yumi," Ulrich said, finally getting a chance to say her name. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry? For what? You apologize way to much, you know that?"

He didn't answer back right away. He was surprised that he wasn't shaking or trembling in front of her. Yumi then whispered, "What are you sorry for?" He couldn't help but reaching up and cupping her face with his hands. It was time for the mask to come off and reveal his true emotions.

"Everything," he whispered.

"It isn't your fault that we got attacked—"

"No, I mean, I'm sorry for everything that I've ever done to make you feel like you hate me. Just pure pain. I know that sounds cheesy and cliché, but I know that I've caused you so much trouble with this whole relationship problem and for me caring so much…." Ulrich's hands moved down to her waist. He could feel Yumi relax more. It made him feel better to know that she was comfortable. "I've been foolish and arrogant to you. Stupid, jaded, and reckless. But, most of all—"

Ulrich took a deep breath that was shaky. He thought Yumi was going to say something but she didn't. She was waiting for him to finish, though he had a feeling that she knew what cliché line was coming next. She just wanted to hear it, to make sure that he wasn't lying. "I'm sorry for falling in love with you—"

Yumi cut him off but pressing her lips against his. He was shocked. His heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest. But he parted. It wasn't to breathe; it wasn't because someone was calling his cell phone. It was because he thought that it was a mistake. But as he began to decode Yumi's mind, he could feel that it wasn't mistake. He thought that this forbidden love was a sin or that it was a sin to feel love towards her. It could've been anyone else, but Ulrich had fallen for his best friend.

He leaned in and closed the gap between them. He pulled her into an embrace, deepening the kiss. The way that she kissed him back was the best feeling that one could ever receive. He didn't need to feel the sexual feeling to know that she loved him back. It was just the way he could taste it on her lips. Just as she parted to breathe, he leaned in and took her in another breathless kiss, taking control of the situation. The way their lips moved together was electrifying. It left his head spinning and his heart beating fast. The adrenaline rushed through his veins and pumped into his heart. If he could, he would go too far with this kiss. He parted from it, and held her face in his hands. The only sound that he heard was their breathing and his heart beating.

"This is wrong," Ulrich said. Yumi leaned in and kissed him again. Her hands were placed upon his chest that felt like it was on fire. He felt her draw patterns gently into his skin. He didn't care if he was too young for love. Yumi was the one who fit the missing piece to his heart. She knew him better than anyone else. She was the one who understood what he was going through. He parted to breathe. "Yumi...." Ulrich took a step back from her, and bowed his head to avoid eye contact. "We can't...I shouldn't have said that I---" But he stopped himself. How could he be so stupid? He just blabbed out his secret. The kiss must've meant something though.... But he still felt like a complete fool.

As much as he wanted to kiss her again, he held himself back from doing so. He finally looked up at her, and felt his body grow numb. There was a deep sadness in her eyes, but she understood why he was ending this moment.

"We're friends...remember?" he asked quietly.

"Right," Yumi agreed. But by the way she said it, Ulrich knew she forced herself to agree. "But you're not leaving, are you?"

Ulrich gave her a half smile.

"I think you would hold me back if I said no. And I'm really in no condition to go back anyway," he said. Yumi nodded and bit her lip. He had never seen her in such a vulnerable state. "I'll stay as along as you want me too. I'm not going anywhere…."

Yumi hugged him, despite the urge that was attacking him to kiss her again. To forget about the whole Fear mess, and be carefree for one night. It was too risky though. He didn't want to let go of her just yet, but he forced himself to. Ulrich insisted on sleeping on the little bed set up Yumi made for him earlier to avoid temptation. But that night, as he drifted off into sleep, he did not experience a nightmare that has been haunting him.

Sorry for the longness of wait and of this chapter, and the terrible fact that I did not edit, because I have school in the morning, and I don't have the time to do it. But, I hope you guys liked this chapter. And sorry for the clicheness of this chapter. But PLEASE REVIEW!