Title The Girls, the Cat and the Ghost

Genre General/Adventure

Media Code: Lyoko

Disclaimer Code: Lyoko belongs to MoonScoop and AnteFilms.

Summary When Xana unleashes an attack, Odd is the only available warrior. When he goes to the US to put an end to the attack, he winds up the "guardian" of two girls. What could possibly go wrong with this arrangement?

A/N Hello! And no, your eyes are not deceiving you…this is not an angst fic (for once)! –le gasp!- It won't last too long, though, so don't get your hopes up or anything. Anybody else find the title ridiculously simple?

The Girls, the Cat and the Ghost

The purple-clad boy swung the fire-extinguisher at the specter, causing it to digitize and allowing his friends time to escape.

"Thanks, Odd!" called out a brown-haired boy clad in green as he and a dark-clad girl ran to find weapons of their own.

"No prob!" Odd replied, attaching his fire-killing weapon to his belt. "I'll tell Jeremie you can't make it!"

With this said, the blonde turned on his heels and sprinted across the bridge. He could almost hear the theme from Jaws playing as he swung down the rope hanging from the ceiling of the factory and clambered into the elevator, slamming his fist against the button with an arrow pointing down.

Almost the instant the elevator doors opened he leapt out and began stepping into a copper-gold scanner. "Bad news, Jeremie; Ulrich and Yumi can't make it."

"Neither can Aelita," responded a voice over the intercom, an undertone of nervousness detected. "You'll have to operate the Skid."

"What!?" He was about to jump out of the scanner when –too late! –the doors slid shut. All he could do was close his eyes as blinding light filled the small cylindrical space.

Landing on the reflective floor of the dome, Odd looked up nervously. "How am I supposed to operate it?"

"Don't worry," Jeremie responded as a section of the dome opened up to reveal a light-blue hallway. "I'll guide you."

"Read ya, Einstein." He bolted toward the opening and started bounding on all fours as the floor began to rotate and tilt. Soon, however, he made it to the elevator and from there the docks.

"Head for the center platform."

"Okay…" He stepped on the platform that was surrounded by four others.

Tapping of fingers on a keyboard could be heard as the recently-turned cat-like boy disappeared from the platform and reappeared in the driver's seat of the submarine.

Looking at all of the buttons and levers, he asked, "What now?"

Jeremie gave the instructions and Odd performed the task fluidly, now driving the Skid through the Digital Sea.

"So far, so good," he whispered, surveying his surroundings. "Hey, when I get to the Replika, how will I get in?"

"I'll take care of that."

Odd smiled in relief, loosening his grip on the "steering wheel" and setting in a more relaxed position.

"Stay on course, now," Jeremie prompted. "You're almost there."

Smiling sheepishly, he tilted one of the "handle-sticks" to the side which in turn made the submarine turn to the side. "There it is," he whispered, pulling the handles back to slow down the machine.

"Sending the data now."

The opening of the Replika glowed, slowly opening enough for the sub to pass through.

Now inside the Replika, the cat-like boy could clearly see a glowing-red tower near the center of the forest. Stopping the submarine in front of it, he asked, "How do I link the Skid to the tower?"

We have to work together on that." More tapping was heard and commands filled the screens in the sub. "Do you see a bar on your left?"

"Yeah, I see it."

"See the buttons underneath it?"

"The white and blue ones?"

"Yeah, those. I'll be sending data information, which will fill the bar. When it fills about halfway, I want you to press the blue button on the far right and hold it down. Got it?"

"Got it, Einstein." Odd looked out the "window" and realized that beams were linking the Skid to the tower, the wings slowly starting to circle the glowing-red structure. "Pretty lights," he muttered, now deciding to check on the bar. Noticing that it was halfway full, he pressed the button as directed. "Now what?"

"When the bar starts to get empty, press the white button at the center. That should Translate you to where Xana's Super Computer is."

At this Odd smirked. "Gotcha. You know, this was a lot easier than I thought it'd be."

Jeremie laughed. "If you know what you're doing, all of this is easy."

Azure eyes once again landed on the bar. "Uh-oh, it's almost out." He pressed the white button and waited. The bar began to fill again and Odd flickered out.

When he disappeared, however, an electrical current flowed through the conduits and cracked with white-and-blue light. The bar flashed red, stopped filling, and gradually started emptying itself.

Where a blonde-haired boy wearing glasses was, the computer in front of him flashed a "Warning!" window and a small alarm went off.

The boy stopped typing. "That's strange…" Tapping the headphone, he called, "Odd? Are you okay? Odd, answer me!"

"I'm fine, Jeremie," Odd responded, sounding slightly surprised. "Why, did something happen?"

"Yes," Jeremie answered, resuming typing on the keyboard. "There's an error with the Translation process and I don't know where the error is."

"Well…I'm in the US, I think. Is that were the computer is?"

"Yeah, but…do you know where, exactly?"

"Uh…" The other boy was quiet for a second, but when he continued talking there was so much static Jeremie couldn't tell what he was saying.

"Odd," he called, gripping the headphone in a futile attempt to clear the static. "Odd, you're breaking up. Odd? Odd!"

Hearing nothing but crackling, he slumped back in his chair. "Oh, no…!" Sitting up straight, he immediately returned to typing. "You'd better not do anything crazy, Odd!"

–with Odd –

"Jeremie?" Odd frowned, cat-like tail swishing. "What do you mean 'breaking up'? We were never together!"

His attempt to make himself laugh failed miserably as he began to feel a bit ridiculous. Cat-like ears atop his head twitching, he turned away from the billboard. "Guess I'm on my own, here…"

Looking around, he hid himself behind some rocks as a car drove by on the highway. He sighed in relief when he didn't hear the car slow down or stop. "Way ta pick out a crowded city," he scoffed, peering tentatively over the boulder. "Coast is clear," he whispered, bounding out and sprinting down the road and staying close to any good hiding places.

On the edge of the city (literally), he leapt into a trashcan, secured himself, made the "giant can" fall over and started rolling. And rolling. And rolling. And rolling.

When he finally stopped rolling, he wasn't sure if it really stopped moving or if it was just his imagination. He was too disoriented to decipher which.

After a few minutes, he slowly crawled out. But as he stood up, dizziness hit him full force and he fell back down. "Whoa," he moaned, clutching his head. "Stop the world, I wanna get off…!"

Just about that time, a fluffy orange kitten walked up to him and started pouncing on his tail.

He couldn't help but smile when he noticed this, happy that one, he wasn't alone and two, his dizziness was evaporating. "Hey there," he chuckled, picking up the squirming mass of soft fur. "What's a little guy like you doing here alone?"

Almost at that exact minute the kitten puked on his battle uniform and scurried away.

"Blech," Odd muttered, glaring distastefully at the mess on his being. "Thanks…"

Wiping the mess off, he slowly stood up again and looked around. "Well…at least it's a deserted alleyway."

Climbing up one of the bricked walls, he crawled along the top, stayed in a low crouch. Eventually, though, he had to climb back down to the side-walk or risk being spotted. He stealthily weaved through crowds without ebing noticed and slid under cars while the whole time he was questioning himself as to whether or not he was going the right direction.

After a few minutes of dashing through streets he came upon a park that was infested with giant crab-like machines.

Odd smirked. "Well, at least I know I'm close now." The smirk disappeared the instant he realized the creatures were shooting at two girls.

Starting at a sprint, he made it just in time to shield the smaller girl from a lazer-blast with his plasma-like shield that flickered out the instant it absorbed the impact. Gently shoving both girls, he commanded in English, "Keep going! Don't look back!"

The older-looking dark-haired girl grabbed the blonde-haired one's hand and both started running faster.

Still jogging, Odd turned around to fire a few shots himself. "Lazer Arrow!" Twirling back around, he proceeded to follow the girls to their hiding spot/temporary shelter. He didn't get very far before a sharp sting attacked his calf and spread throughout his whole leg. He barely made it to the other side of the building when the sting grew too much for him to walk. Leaning against the wall, he clutched his leg and tightly closed his eyes.

Olive-green eyes widened when they took in the fact that the boy in front of her had cat-like ears atop his head, paw-like hands and a long, striped tail. "Oh my God…" Taking a step back, she grabbed the younger girl's shoulders protectively.

The blonde girl shrugged her off and pulled a rag and a bottle of water out of her pockets. Soaking the rag in the clear fluid, she gently lay it on Odd's injured leg and lightly pressed.

Azure eyes opened to meet emerald ones, almost mistaking them for his friend's except he noticed blonde hair instead of pink. Darn.

She smiled happily, lightly patting his hand. "All better?"

Her voice was so innocent he couldn't help but give her a small smile. "Yeah. Thanks."

Beaming merrily, she danced back to the brunette. "See, Sara? He's nice."

The older girl, now addressed as Sara, gave him a suspicious look. "How do we know he's not faking or anything?"

"I really am better!" he said in an obviously restrained voice, gently removing the wet rag from his leg and standing up more properly. "See?" Although he knew he was failing at swaying her trust, he really was feeling better. He still felt a mild burning sensation in his leg, but it beat the sharp stinging he was experiencing earlier.

A gleeful giggle squirmed its way out of the younger girl as she clapped her hands excitedly. "I told you water can cure anything!"

"Yeah…" Sara rolled her eyes, focusing back to the cat-like boy soon afterwards. "How do we know he wasn't faking the injury?"

Giving her a tired look, he turned around to show a large splotch of red flesh and black fabric on the back of his leg. Lifting it slightly and looking over his shoulder, he couldn't hide his surprise. "Huh…didn't think it was that bad…"

Before any of them could make any further reactions, one of the crab-like machines walked out in front of them and aimed its lazer at Odd. Sitting cross-legged on its shell was a dark-haired, dark-clad boy with a large bankai sword laying across his lap.

The brunette grabbed Odd's paw-like hand and pulled lightly. "C'mon!" she said authoritatively, motioning for him to follow and grabbing the younger girl's hand at the same time. "I'll take you to our place!"

Half-twirling and half-stumbling, he quickly followed. But not before he fired a few shots at the boy atop the Krabe. "Sit and stay put," he commanded, pushing himself to keep up with the two girls.

Sara turned her head slightly to look at him. "My real name's Sariah," she said, lightly tugging the other girl's hand to keep her going. "And this is my sister Tatiyana."

"I'm five-and-a-half!" she exclaimed, beaming happily.

Odd smiled back. "Congratulations!"

Tatiyama giggled. "You talk funny."

Sariah pulled harder, taking a sharp turn and dashing across the street. She turned her head back when she heard him stumble. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," he responded, staggering somewhat.

"Need more water?"

He snickered somewhat at the seemingly randomness of the child's question. "Maybe later." He sidled to the side to avoid another blast from the Krabe that was in close pursuit of them. Azure eyes widened in surprise as a car collided with the giant beast-like machine. Another car skidded to a stop, barely missing the three "youngsters" on the street. The driver of the last car stared at Odd in shock and surprise.

The cat-like creature sighed. "So much for keeping a low profile," he muttered in French, sprinting a little faster to keep up with the girls.

"What did you just say?" Tatiyana asked, looking confused.

"Something in some alien language," Sariah answered without waiting for him to respond. "Do I need to carry you?" she growled as he stumbled again.

"No," he responded curtly. "Hey, are we almost there?"

"Yeah, actually," the brunette muttered, looking ahead of her. "It's that grayish-white one with the slat-gray shingles."

"Got it." Odd leapt between the two girls and bounded on all fours, easily faster than the two of them. He stopped when he reached the pine tree on the lawn and calmly walked onto the porch (though with a bit of a limp) and waited.

"Why didn't you do that earlier?" Sariah asked in an agitated tone, giving him a strange look before opening the door and stepping inside. Without waiting for him to make an answer she mumbled a "nevermind" and pulled him inside, slamming the door shut and locking it quickly afterward.

"Back home already?"

Tatiyana beamed, dashing down the hall and into what Odd assumed was the kitchen. "Mommy, come meet my new friend!"

The cat-like boy chuckled. "Is she always this enthusiastic?"

Olive-green eyes widened as she suddenly realized something. "Oh no…"

He picked up the "serious face" and turned to the brunette beside him. "What's wrong?"

His question was answered by a shocked gasp from the hall. Standing not too far from the two young teens at the door was a figurish woman with light-brown hair and sapphire eyes. Holding one of her hands was little Tatiyana with that huge smile on her face.

"Don't worry, Mommy," the young blonde soothed, lightly pulling on her mother's hand. "He's really nice!"

"'He'?" enquired a man's voice, a blonde-haired brown-eyed face popping out from the kitchen. The man burst out laughing when he noticed that Odd was wearing purple and had cat-like ears, tail and paw-like hands. "Nice costume, kid," he chuckled when he had finally calmed down enough to talk.

"Hey," Odd said defensively, sounding a bit offended. "It took me forever to get the technology on this suit right!" He folded his arms when the girls' father started laughing harder.

Sariah gave him a strange look.

The mother gave a soft smile. "Aw, don't make fun of his feminism," she gently scolded, lightly bopping her husband on the head. "I think it's cute!"

"Yeah!" agreed the little blonde girl, letting go of her mother's hand and running up to the purple-clad boy. "Cute and cuddly!" she added, wrapping her arms around his stomach in a tight hug.

Odd let out a friendly chuckle, rubbing the back of Tatiyana's head. "You're pretty cuddly, yourself."

She giggled in response to his comment.

Everyone turned to look at the window when screaming and firing of lazers were heard from outside.

"It's them again!" Tatiyana shrieked, returning promptly to her mother's side and clinging to her arm.

Purple cat-like ears flattened against blonde hair and striped tail swished in agitation as Odd glared angrily out the window. "When will you give up, Xana?" he growled in French, the glare deepening into a scowl.

The father turned the younger boy around, staring hard. In English, he demanded, "What's going on here, kid? What's happening out there?"

"I'd like to know that, as well."

Odd gave Sariah a strange look that was a cross between curiosity and confusion.

Olive-green eyes locked onto azure. "I'm thankful that you saved me and my sister and all, but I'd still like to understand why those crab things were chasing us. I don't even know your name!"

"Call me Odd," he said calmly, seriousness etched into his features. "And what you see out there is Xana's invasion."

The father pulled on one of the ears on Odd's head in which he received a yelp of pain and instantly gleaming gold claws were inches from piercing the man's arm.

Azure eyes glared coldly at brown ones. "Let me go," he growled slowly, carefully keeping his tone low. When he was released, he looked around the room and leapt onto the nearest piece of furniture (which was the leather sofa). In a semi-crouch, he asked, "Do you guys have a computer here?"

Tatiyana instantly let go of her mother and started dashing down the hallway. "In here!" she called as she entered one of the rooms.

The cat-like boy followed instantly, bounding on all fours and making it into the room in barely more than two strides.

Sariah and her parents also followed, anger and fear flickering across their faces.

The computer was already on and Odd was typing away on some window by the time the three older characters got in.

Noticing that he was still standing, the oldest of the sisters kicked the wound on the back of Odd's leg. Instead of the cat-like boy collapsing like she was expecting, he twirled around and tripped her with his good leg.

Tatiyana's eyes widened. "Wow…are you a soldier?"

Azure turned to emerald. "In a matter of speaking, yes," he responded, his attention once again on the computer.

"Are you here to protect Earth?"

He plastered a false smile on his face as he looked over at her. "That's our assignment, anyway." Giving the father a distrusting look, he added, "Though I seriously question myself as to why I even bother."

The father made little reaction to Odd's last statement while the mother gaped at him.

"The-there are more of you?"

"Of course there are," he answered calmly, typing away on the keyboard with his claws and eyes glued to the screen. "If there were just one, this planet would've been annihilated by World War II."

The young blonde girl tilted her head in curiosity. "Annihilated?"

Odd paused in his typing, hands hovering over the keyboard with an uncertain look on his face. Shifting his eyes toward her, he sad intelligently, "Uh…it means 'they go bye-bye', if that makes any sense…"

"Oh…okay."

He giggled at her innocence and resumed typing.

Sariah now back on her feet, she looked over his shoulder at the window on the computer screen. "Holy…what language is that?"

The father took a step forward and too looked. "Looks like some sort of military code," he muttered, staring hard and leaning forward. "And…is that French?"

"Wee-wee, monsieur," the boy answered, slowing down his typing. "For both guesses. And your grand prize is…" He hit the Enter key and almost immediately a new window opened itself.

In the window was something like a movie, except the "picture" was in black-and-white. It was so blurry it took everyone ten minutes to discover there was a person in the picture.

Odd decided to take a leap of faith. "Jeremie?"

"Odd!" came the response, the voice smothered in surprise and excitement. In French, the voice asked, "Are you okay? Where are you?"

"I'm fine," Odd responded, smiling somewhat. "And I'm still in the US."

The personage in the window screen sighed in relief. "I'm glad… Did you find the computer Xana's using?"

"Uh…I…think I'm on it right now…"

"What!? Odd, you're supposed to destroy it, not play games on it!"

"I know, but it's because of the computer we're able to talk at all."

Here, Sariah interrupted. "Okay, what are you two going on about?"

"They're talking about the mission!" Tatiyana piped up in a voice tone that said 'It should be obvious!'

"Right you are," Odd said, giving the younger blonde some praise.

Suddenly, the sound of firing lazers and shattering of glass sounded off, causing all of them to jump in alarm.

Odd immediately left the computer to investigate.

"Odd?" The voice started growing panicky, more urgent. "Odd!"

"Er…" the mother slurred, leaning toward the computer. "He's busy at the moment," she told the screen in French. "Is there anything I can do?"

"I'm not sure…"

"Please," she pleaded, clasping her fingers together. "My home is under attack and we don't know what to do! Please, please help us…!"

"Uh, alright," responded the being through the computer. "But there's not much I can do. Unless…"

"Unless…?" Blue eyes widened in eagerness, clasped fingers tightening in anticipation.

"Yes," he exclaimed. "I think it's possible."

An explosion sounded in the next room and almost instantly Odd dashed back into the computer room. "Houston, we've got a problem!"

"Odd?"

Without looking at the computer (his attention was focused on the hallway), he answered, "Yeah, Jeremie?"

"I'm bringing all of you to the Skid."

Azure eyes bulged as paw-like hands swung wildly to keep his balance. Grabbing onto the doorframe to steady himself, he stared in shock at the computer screen. "All of us!?"

"Yes," Jeremie replied calmly, a certain tone of authority in his voice. "It seems Xana is targeting these people on purpose, so –"

"So to make sure he doesn't succeed, we need to take them with us," Odd finished, a serious look on his face.

"Exactly."

The mother looked between the cat-like boy and the personage in panic and confusion. "I don't understand," she said in English, fear creeping its way into her voice. "What does this Xana want with us?"

"We don't know," Odd answered solemnly. "That's why we're taking you with us."

Everyone reacted with shock and surprise.

Tatiyana leaned forward from the chair she was sitting in, emerald eyes wide. "We get to go with you on your StarShip?"

The young warrior nodded. "Not just any StarShip," he began, striding toward her with his hands behind his back. "This one's been around since the time of the Greeks. The Skidbaladnir."

"I remember reading about that when I was in school," the father muttered, turning to his wife. "Do you remember?"

She nodded. "The ship that could sail through water, land and air."

It was around here that Jeremie started giving instructions.

Odd translated the instructions for everyone and they all got in position.

"We're ready, Jeremie."

The personage on the screen nodded and tapping of keys could be heard.

Everyone began to glow faintly.

The little blonde girl looked herself over with delight. "Look, I'm an angel!"

"Translation process is in progress," Jeremie reported. "Odd, you'll know when to destroy the computer."

The purple-clad boy nodded. "Gotcha."

Tatiyana looked at the doorway and gasped in fright, emerald eyes widening.

Odd also looked and suddenly felt chills running laps up and down his spine.

Standing there was a boy with teal-black hair, onyx eyes and a black-and-red body suit with a red symbol on his chest. Extending his hand, a fog-like substance materialized and compacted into a broad sword encrusted with the same symbol. He glared angrily and swung his sword sideways at the group.

A yelp of pain was heard when the weapon hit its mark, the glow intensifying too much for any of them to see what was happening.

When the light faded, the family found themselves in individual pod-like chambers filled with buttons, switches, levers and a single "window" in front of them.

"Everyone's on board," Jeremie reported.

A soft moan wafted through the speakers in each pod.

Emerald eyes widened in worry as Tatiyana asked, "Odd? Are you okay?"

Odd straightened in his seat, one hand on his side and the other on a handle. "Yeah," he answered weakly, pain evident in his voice and misery flashing in his eyes. "Considering I've been stabbed, I'm doing pretty good." Pulling on the handle and pressing a few buttons, the Skid slowly drew away from the tower and started heading toward the exit.

Sariah stared out her window at the forest in dull curiosity. "Dude, this is just like a video-game. Where are we?"

"We're in an artificial land mass that Xana created called a Replika," the cat-like boy explained, trying to mask the pain with a false solemnity. "Pretty soon we'll dive into the DS."

The father piped up. "What's the DS?"

"The abbreviation for Digital Sea."

"Odd?"

Odd looked up. "Yeah, Jeremie?"

"The others are here."

"Which means that Xana called off his attack."

"Right. But they're a bit cross, so be careful when you get back. Alright?"

Azure eyes fell as a tired sigh flowed out. "Copy that, Einstein."

By now, they had exited the Replika and were journeying through the Digital Sea.

"Wow…" The mother looked around the blue scenery, mesmerized. "It's like an upside-down city!"

"It is pretty, isn't it?" He smiled, glancing at the scenery himself.

"So…" Sariah drawled, tapping a finger on one of the switches without moving it. "Why does it look like a video-game?"

"Is it supposed to calm us down or what?" inquired the father, messing with the straps that connected him to his seat in the pod.

"Yes, actually," the purple-clad boy answered, flipping a few switches and tilting the control-handles to make the Skid turn faster at a bend. "And also to lessen the dramatization in the wars we fight here."

"Alright, Odd," Jeremie piped up. "You're nearing the docks."

"Gotcha," Odd replied in French, switching back to English as he announced, "We're approaching the docks. Prepare yourselves for hypersonic propulsion…"

–in the Scanner room –

Copper-gold doors opened with a small 'hiss' as steam spilt out of the two remaining scanners. Falling out along with the steam were two girls: the olive-green-eyed brunette Sariah and the emerald-eyed blonde Tatiyana. They each crawled out of their scanners, breathing hard.

"Are you…okay, Tattie?" the older sister panted, gently placing her hand on her younger sister's hand.

"I'm o-okay…Sara," she responded, a small smile gracing her lips.

The doors closed again and the scanners started glowing, reopening after a few minutes to let out their parents (who all shared the same side-affects as their daughters).

Tatiyana sat up more properly, her breaths coming in easier now. "Mommy? Daddy? Are you okay?"

Her father staggered forward and eventually fell to his knees, placing a hand on her shoulder. "We're alright, sweety."

"Hey guys," greeted Jeremie over the intercom. "How was your first trip?"

"It wasn't too bad," replied the girls' mother, apparently being the only one who could speak French in the family. "So where do…we go from here?"

"Do you see the elevator?"

Just then Sariah tapped her mother's shoulder and pointed. "There's an elevator. Should we go in?"

Before she could make any sort of response, her husband cut in.

"Makita, are you sure we can trust these people?"

Sapphire eyes locked on muddy-brown. "Do we have a choice, Tod?"

The father, now addressed as Tod, looked away, uncertainty written all over his face.

Emerald eyes widened as a thought crept into the blonde girl's mind. "Is Odd okay?"

"Tell her Odd's fine."

Makita instantly obliged, walking toward the elevator shortly afterward. "Jeremie? What about the code box?"

Jeremie told her the code and she punched in the numbers, pushing the "go up" button.

The green-and-gold elevator doors opened with a surge of electricity, revealing a chamber more than big enough for all of them to fit in.

Everyone gathered into the contraption and the mother once again pushed a button that closed the doors and started to ascend.

–with Odd and Jeremie –

A hiss of pain escaped through gritted teeth as Odd flinched forcibly, closing his eyes tightly.

"I can't get the bleeding to stop," muttered a dark-clad Japanese girl as she pressed a gauze bandage against the purple-clad boy's side, the white material already turning a deep red. "Are you sure you don't have hemophilia?"

"At least this was just a nasty burn," a brown-haired green-clad boy retorted as he finished bandaging Odd's leg. "Do you need help with that, Yumi?"

Before the Japanese girl could answer, a pink-haired girl walked toward them.

"I think I can help," she said, emerald eyes landing on the small sack of bandages and ointments. Picking up a small bottle and another gauze, she squirted a little of the clear fluid onto the white bandage. "It's only fair to warn you," she started, signaling Yumi to remove the blood-soaked bandage. "This will sting."

Odd flinched again more forcefully this time, letting out a sound that was a cross between a moan and a yelp of pain.

The elevator doors opened with a dull 'clank' just as the pink-haired girl was wrapping the gauze to the side of Odd's abdomen with another bandage.

Tatiyana ran out, stopping short when she caught sight of Odd's condition. "Odd…?"

Makita and the rest of the family stepped out of the elevator, sapphire eyes turning to the blonde-haired boy wearing glasses sitting in a chair in front of the fanciest computer she had ever seen. "Is he…?"

The purple-clad boy drew in a breath sharply, gathering the strength to open his eyes without shuddering. Smiling weakly, he said, "I'll be okay." His voice was so shaky he wasn't sure they'd believe him. So far, it didn't look like it.

The little blonde girl tilted her head to the side slightly, curiosity detected in her eyes. "What happened to your ears, Odd?"

Sure enough, his cat ears and tail had vanished and normal human hands replaced his paw-like hands. He looked like a normal boy now, although he did seem a bit skinny.

"It's part of the disguise," explained Jeremie's voice out of the boy at the computer. He turned away from said-technology to look at the mother of the family. "We all have those."

She stared hard at him, then slowly gave the same look to everyone (except her family) until she landed on Odd. In English, she asked, "Are you all really wearing disguises?"

They all nodded.

In an accent that was a strange mix of French and Japanese, Yumi asked, "How else do you expect us to come here without receiving too much attention?"

Tatiyana took a few steps toward Odd, pausing to look at the pink-haired girl. "What's your name?"

She smiled shyly and responded, "Je'mapelle Aelita."

Odd smirked at Tatiyana's confused expression and almost started laughing except the wound on his side hurt him too much and caused him to cringe slightly. "Her name's Aelita," he translated.

Makita walked closer to Jeremie, speaking in French. "Will he really be okay?"

The blonde Einstein looked a bit unsure as he thought over her question, gazing contemplatively at Odd for a brief second. "He should be…but with all the errors we've been having with the systems, no one can be too sure."

A feeling of dread began expanding in her chest. "Wha-what kind of errors?"

"Eh…" He thought for another second, his hand raising to his chin. "Uh, for example…you know the process I used to bring you back to Earth? Well, that's supposed to not only disguise you if you're not already human, but it's also supposed to heal any and all injuries received during a battle."

She looked over to Odd with a worried look. "But, he's…"

Jeremie nodded solemnly.

By now, Tatiyana was sitting next to him and practically hugging him (but gently enough not to hurt him a whole lot). Sariah and Tod weren't too far off, standing nearby and talking with Yumi, Aelita and the brown-haired boy.

Makita turned back to the boy at the computer as a thought surfaced in her mind. "What do you do here on Earth, in the meantime?"

He smirked. "Ah, well, we go to Kadic Academy and inform ourselves about Earth's history of man and what-not. Why?"

Sapphire eyes widened in surprise. "But…don't you need a birth certificate to attend schools in France?"

He nodded, still smirking. "I took care of that, mostly. Odd helped out a lot with the more technical details, though."

"So will they let him in hospitals, too?"

"Sure," he responded, looking thoughtful. "I mean, he's been in and out of hospitals without problems or anything since we arrived here two years ago. So…I think he should get a check-out from the school nurse until he's well enough to start attending class again."

Odd had been listening in and decided this would be the best time to pipe up. "In the meantime, I think it'd be wise for me to stay here with the family for a few hours at least." Noticing that all eyes were on him, he added humbly, "That is, if it's alright with you guys."

They all looked at each other.

Then the green-clad boy looked at the computer. "Why can't we do a Return Trip? That way we can erase everything and go through the mission faster."

"Ulrich's got a point, you know," Yumi said, coming to the boy she addressed as Ulrich's aid.

Neither Aelita nor Odd said anything to support or reject the proposition while the family (with the exception of the mother) looked at each other in confusion (not being able to understand French and all).

After contemplating the offer for a second, he shook his head no. "It's too risky."

Ulrich cocked his head. "How so?"

Aelita spoke up. "If we did a Return Trip we don't know whether Xana will activate a tower sooner and in that prospect will get the family before any of us ever set out on a mission."

"And even though I know where they live now," Odd added, his voice barely above a whisper, "If Xana does set off his attack sooner, my knowledge will be virtually worthless."

Ulrich and Yumi looked down blankly, taking in what their fellow warriors had just said.

Just then Tatiyana's stomach growled loudly.

Everyone cracked up laughing (except Odd, who clutched at his side in pain when he tried).

"Alright, everyone," Yumi chuckled, looking around her. "Lunchtime."

Jeremie stood up. "But I think it's best if we left the family here until we've fully decided how to help them." He looked around his group of friends as if expecting something to happen.

Odd raised his hand and said in English, "I'll stay with them."

All of his friends looked at him, bewilderment written all over their faces.

Yumi, also in English, exclaimed, "You serious? You've never missed lunch!"

"First time for everything," he said to her statement, smiling weakly. "Besides, we don't know how deep this goes" –he motioned to his wounded side –"not to mention they're probably more likely to trust me." He tilted his head toward Makita then Tatiyana (who was still at his side).

They all nodded subtly, standing up to leave.

Ulrich stopped by Odd and placed a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Remember, you're supposed to relax while you're here, 'kay?"

The purple-clad boy gave his trademark grin for the first time that entire day and almost started laughing. "Hah, I know. Don't worry 'bout me, bud."

The brown-haired boy nodded, surrendering a small smile. "Be back to pick you up after lunch, alright?"

"That's fine. Now shoo, skidadle!" he said playfully, waving the green-clad boy away.

Ulrich chuckled and ran into the elevator just as the doors began to close.

"Hope you feel better!" Aelita called out, waving.

"And bring us some lunch!" Odd shouted back, smirking when he heard muffled laughter behind the doors.

Makita smiled, sitting next to Odd on his other side. In English, she commented, "Looks like you all get along pretty well."

He smiled back. "Well, we are the best of friends, after all."

Sariah tilted her head to the side, a contemplative look on her face. "So…what were to guys talking about earlier?"

Odd raised an eyebrow. "Depends on which conversation you're talking about."

The green-eyed brunette looked exasperated. "The one about us?"

He acted surprised, though he had a pretty good idea of which one she was talking about anyway. "Oh, that one! Well, uh…"

The mother turned toward her oldest daughter. "Jeremie explained some of it to me, but…" She gave Odd an uncertain look. "Is the information classified?"

"Oh, no," he responded quickly. "It's just…really complicated and hard to explain."

Tod decided to engage in the conversation. "What's so hard to explain?"

Odd looked a bit uncomfortable. "It's…one of those things that if you missed the first lesson, you won't understand it at all."

The brown-eyed blonde man quirked an eyebrow. "Really? Makita, what did Jeremie explain to you?"

Sapphire eyes lowered to the dullish metallic floor, narrowing in thought. "Well…he said something about a program, that…" Shaking her head sharply, she gave the boy next to her a baffled look. "Wow, it is hard to explain."

Tatiyana leaned forward to look over at her mother. "Can you make it short and easy to understand?"

Makita looked a bit uncertain. "Er…" She looked helplessly at Odd as if begging for help.

Amazingly, he seemed to have already thought it through and had an answer. "To put it simply, it's the program that brings us from Earth to Lyoko and back. That's the simplest of our technology, but it's still really complicated when you try to operate the program."

Emerald eyes widened in excitement. "Lyoko? Was that the place we went to?"

Odd nodded. "Did you like it?"

Giggling, Tatiyana nodded enthusiastically. "It's pretty!"

Sariah and Tod looked at each other in mild confusion.

"So…" the brunette drawled again, looking hard at Odd. "How much relevance does that have with us?"

Odd shook his head, trying really hard to contain his exasperation. I give up…! "Nevermind, forget we said anything." Darn, some of it leaked out…

The blue-eyed brunette looked around, trying to snatch a different subject to talk about. Sapphire eyes widened as an idea finally came to her. "Jeremie said you managed to get everyone enrolled into a school…Kadic Academy, right?"

The purple-clad boy raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, I forged a few certificates and parental contacts. Why?"

She leaned forward in anticipation. "Do you think you can get us set up here? At least for a few weeks."

He smiled wryly, azure eyes sparking mischievously. "I think I can pull a few strings for you…"

A/N2: So…do you think my writing/s at all good? Think I should write more? Well, then…why haven't you voted? If you want information about the two stories I'm wanting to write, then click to my portfolio sillies! You can even watch a movie if you want (I set a hyperlink for you…just a matter of finding the right one XD) Oh, and Pinkpelt Butterfly, I am planning on a sequel for On The Way Down. Just keep this in mind; be careful what you wish for…

All flames will be consumed and spat out as dust, so don't waste your time.

Burakku's Shadow/Manjoume-Enchantress