Author's Note: I loved this show far more than I should have, despite its somewhat repetitive nature. XD; Timeline wise, this would probably be set some time in the second season. Yes, it is both UlrickxYumi and UlrichxOdd, and those two are not mutually exclusive, so if you have a problem with het or slash this story is probably not for you. Though the ending may not seem entirely conclusive, I do consider this story least until I get any fresh desire to write a sequal. Enjoy!

Moments that Matter

Odd's side was bleeding. Ulrich could smell the unpleasant tang of blood, and could felt he wetness against his side while Odd was ineffectively trying to support him. It wasn't working. Ulrich thought his leg must be broken in at least two places. He could barely see through the sweat and the dizziness, and each painful step sent lines of agony from his knee to his head.

The air was starting to stink of smoke and ozone. If they kept going at this pace they weren't going to make it.

"You should…leave me here," he said with difficulty. "You might still make it out."

"Don't be stupid," Odd said, somehow managing to sound like they were back at school and he was merely disparaging Ulrich's latest attempt at a physics equation. "You're coming with me or we're both staying."

Then I guess we're both staying, Ulrich thought dizzily. Despite how hard he tried, his eyes slid shut of their own accord, and suddenly he was on his back with Odd shaking him.

"Wake up, wake up!" Odd's voice was high with panic until Ulrich managed to lift his eyelids again. Then he smiled shakily. "Hey, don't you pass out on me. I don't wanna be alone when the big bang comes."

"Sorry," Ulrich slurred, trying to prop himself up so he could see Odd better, but to his surprise Odd lay down next to him with a short groan, hands curling around his side.

"Well I guess this is it," Odd said, sounding strained and breathless, but attempting a light tone. "Kind of sucks, doesn't it?"

Ulrich laughed. It made his bruised ribs hurt. "Yeah."

Something in the distance exploded. Ulrich could feel the vibrations in the floor. It jolted his leg and made him wince. Above them the roof groaned unhappily, buckling a little.

He put his own hand over Odd's, trying helplessly to stop the slow leak of blood. It wasn't a fatal wound, just a painful one, but it didn't matter. It was a race to see if the building would collapse on their heads or if the explosion would burn them to a crisp. Xana wasn't taking any chances this time.

"They might make it," he said suddenly, ridiculously. "Yumi…Aelita…"

"I don't think so," Odd said, sounding subdued. "Jeremy said things were bad on Lyoko."

Their phone had been crushed. They couldn't even ask now. Jeremy was probably worrying himself sick, and Yumi…He didn't even know what it might be like for her.

He shivered. Odd shuffled closer. He was warm, almost feverish compared to Ulrich's clammy chill. He appreciated it even though the light press of Odd's weight made his chest hurt again.

Odd's eyes were unusually focused. Maybe even a little watery. Ulrich had never seen him cry, he realised in a vague sort of retrospect. "At least we had fun, huh?"

Ulrich sighed, like the last puff of air escaping a balloon. "Yeah. We did."

Jeremy could do a return to the past, but it wouldn't help them if they were already dead. They'd just disappear, cease to exist. Their beds would be empty – unmade, in his case. He wondered if his parents would even notice. He hoped someone would remember to take care of Kiwi. Odd would be so upset otherwise.

"Listen," Odd said haltingly, moving so his face was only inches from Ulrich's. It gave him the perfect opportunity to observe the scratch on Odd's cheek and the way sweat had rung the gel from his hair so little blond strands had come loose to fall over his forehead. "Since it doesn't look like we're gonna make it…I just wanted to tell you…"

He seemed to be struggling with something. Probably their impending deaths. Ulrich couldn't blame him. With an exhausted twitch of his lips that was almost a smile, he grabbed Odd's hand and held it tight. "What?"

"That I…that I'm really glad I was your room mate."

Ulrich made a sound of amusement at understated announcement. "Is that al-"

He hadn't expected Odd to kiss him. For a moment he thought his body was playing some kind of ridiculous trick, fooling him with the sensation of Odd's lips on his own, with Odd's hand tangled nervously in his shirt, but after a moment he realised it was very real. Odd had his eyes shut tight but he seemed determined to throw himself into the kiss like it was the last thing he'd ever do.

It just might be. Ulrich had tensed in surprise but now he allowed himself to relax a little. It didn't matter. The rumble of the explosions was close now, pieces of the roof were starting to fall terrifyingly close, but for a moment he could lose himself in the moment knowing that at least they weren't alone as light burst into the hallway, blinding him. It was probably a wave of fire and heat come to finish them off but he felt strangely safe with Odd's small frame bent over him-

-Odd's lips were suddenly freezing. In fact, he was cold right through as an icy wind blew over him, and the weirdness of the sensation made him open his eyes in surprise.

Yumi leaned back at the same time, looking just as dazed as he did. Ulrich felt a sudden sense of vertigo as he realised he was now sitting up instead of lying down, and the weight on his shoulder wasn't Odd but Yumi. They blinked a few times and suddenly she laughed, part self-conscious and part relief.

"Wow. That's a bit of awkward timing," she said, but after a moment she was entirely serious. "Are you okay? Odd said you were hurt. We tried so hard to be quick but I didn't think we'd made it."

She hugged him tightly, her voice wavering in a rare show of overwhelming emotion, and suddenly Ulrich remembered where they were. Last night he'd snuck out to see Yumi. The teachers had noticed that something was going on between the two and had been casually trying to chaperone. It was particularly stifling when the group needed to talk about Xana or Lyoko, and so the two of them had been making an effort to seem more casual during the day and then meeting at night. It was exciting and more than a little dangerous, but worth it when they could walk shoulder to shoulder with no one looking, tentatively hold hands and sometimes even sneak a few shy kisses in the dark.

They'd returned to the past. The night looked just how he remembered it, with the moon half full and with the two of them shivering with the early onset of winter.

He hugged her back vehemently, remembering suddenly how close he'd been to losing all this. "You made it just in time."

"Thank god," she whispered, and rather than try to pull away she just held him.

They'd taken refuge in the shadows by the tool shed. Ulrich looked up suddenly towards the buildings. There, on the second floor, fourth window from the left, there was a single light on, and silhouetted in that light was a figure. His room, and it could only be Odd, who knew where Ulrich had been and had guessed what he'd been doing tomorrow morning which hadn't happened yet.

He thought of what Odd had done seconds before they'd made the return trip, and touched his lips tentatively as though he might feel a trace of his friend there.

Considering the fact that they shared a room, all their classes, the same friends and the world's biggest secret, Odd was doing a spectacular job of avoiding him. Last night when he'd finally said goodbye to Yumi, Odd had been pretending to be asleep (easy to tell because Odd snored) and Ulrich had let him simply because he wasn't sure what to say.

You kissed me, and I wanted to know…?

He didn't have a clue what it meant, or if it should have meant anything. They'd been about to die. Sure, it hadn't been the first time but it was a closer call than most. It was probably a once off, a fluke, and maybe Odd was just embarrassed. It seemed the most likely explanation, but Odd was still acting weird. More so than usual, anyway.

Odd even paid attention in class. That had to be some kind of first, and the moment the bell rang he left, presumably to spend some time with his current girlfriend. Annabelle, Ulrich remembered. A nice girl in Yumi's year. Odd had already been getting bored with her. They looked a strange pair when they were together. Sure, Odd was a good deal shorter than a majority of the girls he dated, but with Anna it was particularly pronounced.

Odd was a good deal shorter than Ulrich too. He considered that for a minute before realising he was heading into speculations he shouldn't and killed the line of thought.

Thankfully, he wasn't the only one who noticed that something was up.

"Is it just me, or is Odd acting weird?" Yumi asked at lunchtime. "I just asked him if he was going to have lunch with us and he practically ran away from me. Has he done something that I should know about?"

She tapped her foot expectantly, looking mostly at Ulrich who was usually the silent partner in Odd's schemes. He wondered how she'd take the knowledge that Odd had kissed him, considering how she sometimes reacted to the other girls that Ulrich got on with. Somehow, he couldn't see it.

"I think he's just having an off day," Ulrich said evasively.

"Because of yesterday?" Aelita asked, her expression soulful. "You didn't tell us what happened after we lost contact with you. Was it-?"

"It's fine," Ulrich said quickly. Usually they went over the whole story in depth – Jeremy liked to keep a journal of the events as part of some kind of analysing scheme to understand Xana better – but sometimes he just didn't want to remember and Jeremy knew better than to push. "We were just a little shaken."

"Maybe I could talk to him?" Aelita offered. "To make sure he's okay."

"Don't worry Aelita. I'm sure he's fine." She looked unconvinced, and he impulsive added, "I'll ask him later, okay?"

She smiled. "Maybe that would be best. You are his best friend, after all."

Aelita understood better than anyone that sometimes she didn't understand the kind of real-world problems the rest of them faced, but in this case he wondered if she wasn't a better candidate for the job than he. After all, Odd might go right on avoiding him.

"Hey Ulrich, there you are!" Odd said cheerfully as Ulrich stood in the door. His hand hadn't even left the knob yet. "I need to talk to you."

Ulrich blinked, resisting the urge to mutter a wry, well that was easy.

Odd rummaged through the mess on his bed and came up with two shirts. "Which of these do you think I should wear? Jenny said that blue was Carla's favourite colour but is it too formal? I don't want to give her the idea that I'm dressing up to impress her just to ask her out."

Apparently things had gone right back to normal. Aelita would be pleased, but somehow Ulrich couldn't help but feel a little…disappointed. Still, he managed to dregs up a wry smirk and asked, "Aren't you going out with Annabelle?"

"Not anymore," Odd said, not sounding too put out by the ordeal. "So what do you think? The blue shirt or the white one?"

"You're asking me for fashion advice?" Ulrich asked, crossing his arms and leaning nonchalantly back against the door.

"I need to know which looks better on me," Odd sniffed.

"I bet you're just fishing for compliments," Ulrich said. "Why don't you ask Aelita? She-"

But Odd's face had acquired a very strange look at the mention of 'compliments'. Ulrich paused. "Hey Odd…are you okay?"

The moment passed quickly, but Odd's smile was flustered and a little too wide. "Sure, sure. Why wouldn't I be?"

Ulrich was terrible at these kinds of talks, but then if it wasn't him, someone else would eventually get the story out of Odd, and that made him even more uncomfortable. "Well, yesterday was kind of rough."

"Today you mean," Odd corrected, looking at the clock on Ulrich's bedside table. "We wouldn't have been in the plant for another couple of hours."

Ulrich didn't often think of it like that. It disturbed him a little when he thought too hard on reliving the same moments over again.

"You know what I mean," he grumbled. "Xana's plan nearly worked."

"Yeah," Odd said, suddenly sounding subdued. He was looking at Ulrich in an indirect sort of way, as though he couldn't quite bring himself to face his friend head on. "Look, Ulrich, about what happened…"

He was desperate to hear what Odd had to say about the whole thing, but at the same time Odd looked so uncharacteristically uncomfortable that Ulrich couldn't help but let him off the hook. "It's okay. I didn't think we were going to make it either."

"You don't mind?" Odd's voice was small. "I thought you'd be really mad at me."

Which explained why Odd had been avoiding him. Ulrich managed a smile. "Nah. I can kind of understand."

Odd straightened and seemed to start breathing again. "Oh good."

He could have let it drop. They probably would have never spoken of it again, except… "Am I…uh…"

"What?" Odd asked.

"Am I…the first one you've done that to?"

Odd looked at him, raising his eyebrow with deliberate slowness. "Are you the first person I've kissed?"

"No!" And despite every intention, Ulrich was blushing. Once Odd had made a game of shocking him with his blasé attitude towards girls, but these days Ulrich was used to it. Now he felt like he was back where he started and Odd was chucking at his expense. He forced himself to say, "Am I…the first guy you've…done that to?"

"Ah." Now that he knew Ulrich wasn't mad at him, Odd's nervousness seemed to have dissipated, confirming what Ulrich had already known; that it wasn't in Odd's nature to get embarrassed over things like this. "That's a sort of philosophical question."

Ulrich gave him a flat look, his cheeks still burning faintly.

"What I mean," Odd went on, "Is no. You're not the first…but you're the only one who'll actually remember it."

Seeing Ulrich's confusion, Odd paced a little. "Whenever Xana does one of those big attacks and I'm not able to get to Lyoko, and you know that at the end of the day we're going to wind back the clock and everyone's going to forget…you know. I might have tried a few things."

Ulrich stared at him. "What…when…who?"

"I don't think that's your business," Odd said slyly. "Odd Della Robbia does not kiss and tell."

"Yes you do," Ulrich said faintly, trying to wrap his mind about what Odd might have been up to. He'd never thought about taking advantage of their trips to the past like that, but then he took things more seriously than Odd; both Xana and relationships. And besides, Yumi wouldn't forget either.

"Well not all the time." Odd flopped down on his bed. "I need some secrets, after all."

"Yeah right..."

"So," Odd said, holding the shirts up in an obvious effort to ignore Ulrich's tone. "The white or the blue?"

Ulrich groaned, knowing this time he wouldn't be spared. "Fine. The white."

That should have been the end of it, but Ulrich couldn't stop thinking about Odd's casual revelation. So he liked girls and boys? Or was it just a few boys in particular? Or maybe it was even less than that. An experiment. That wouldn't surprise him at all, but at the same time the whole notion was boggling simply because he'd never even thought about it before.

Another part of him was a little perturbed at Odd's careless exploitation of the timeline, but that was even less justified. They all did that to some extent, whether it be getting in some extra study or sleeping through classes they'd already been to once before. There were even more selfish reasons, like getting the last word with Sissy, or fixing a prank that went wrong.

It was different, and weird, and Ulrich couldn't deny that he was insanely curious but at the same time he wouldn't have stooped to actually asking if Odd hadn't strictly invited it.

"You know, if you hold it in much longer, you're going to pop," Odd snickered in the darkness of their room. It was past lights out, but Ulrich had been tossing and turning for ten minutes with restless questions. Apparently Odd had noticed.

Somehow it was easier in the dark. For one, Odd was less likely to simply tease him when he wouldn't see the reaction. "So who was it?"

He could feel Odd grinning. "You're getting straight to the point today, aren't you? I didn't think you'd actually care."

Ulrich growled softly. "Odd…"

"Okay, okay. It was Simon."

Ulrich blinked. "From Yumi's class?"

"Yep! Black hair, freckles, hangs out around the basketball courts. That Simon"

Odd seemed supernaturally familiar with just about everyone in the school, and was always ready with a quick description to jog Ulrich's memory. That short description pretty much summed up everything Ulrich knew or cared to know about Simon. The older boy hung out in his own circle, was occasionally referenced in the school paper for his sports skills.

It was ridiculous because Odd dated girls from the higher forms all the time, but Ulrich couldn't shake the notion that having an older boy involved was just wrong. He frowned, unable to decide if it was bias or just protectiveness. After all, Odd knew how to handle girls.

"I'd seen him watching me sometimes. You know, that look people get when they like you," Odd continued obliviously. "It must be hard for him. I don't think he likes girls at all, and you know everyone would give him a hard time if they knew."

Ulrich dimly realised that Odd was wordlessly trusting that Ulrich wouldn't do any such thing…not that he had any call to. If Odd was right then nothing had happened anyway once they'd returned to the past, but that didn't make things any less true. He remembered the time Sissy had kissed him, knowing that she herself would forget and Ulrich wouldn't. He was softer to her for a long time afterwards. It took courage to show someone a hidden part of yourself, and know it couldn't be taken back with the press of a button. He wondered what Odd had seen in Simon.

"So how did you…?"

"I asked him."

Ulrich blinked. "It's that simple?"

"It always is," Odd said cheerfully. "If you asked out more girls you'd know."

Ulrich doubted it. "So you asked him if he'd kiss you?"

"No!" Odd's pillow came flying across the room and hit Ulrich accurately on the head. "I asked him if he liked me. It took him a while to admit it, but he did eventually say yes."

"And then what?"

"Well, it was just after Xana had started that giant storm scheme. When he flooded the tunnel to the factory and you and Yumi and Jeremy had to jump the fence while I tried to evacuate the school?"

Ulrich squeezed Odd's pillow, closing his eyes. "I remember."

"Well I got Simon to help me, because the school was getting flooded too. We managed to get a few people out, but then the water started rising and all the doors on the ground floor got stuck. We ended up hiding on one of the upper floors to wait until a chopper came to rescue us…or until you guys finished on Lyoko…and the rest is history."

"…That's it?"

"What?" Odd asked playfully. "You wanna know how good at kissing he is?"

"No!" Ulrich twisted in his sheets, trying to find a way to phrase his question without completely mortifying himself. "When you…you know, kissed me…"

He squirmed, and Odd knew him well enough to realise that was as far as Ulrick would get without prodding. "You want to know how it compares?"


"Well," Odd began, and Ulrick could picture the little crinkle that formed between his eyes whenever he was thinking. "Considering that at the time I was bleeding and the roof was coming down on us-"

Oh, Ulrich thought. Well that probably didn't make it a great comparison. He felt a little…disappointed?

"-I still liked it better," Odd finished. "I mean, Simon was nice, but he's not really my type."

Ulrick found it hard to believe that Odd had a type, considering the variety of girls he dated, but that did leave a curious implication. "Am I your type?"

Odd was silent for a long moment before cautiously offering, "You're my friend."

He could hear Odd rolling over, obviously ready to end the conversation and go to sleep, but even though Ulrich was warmed by that admittance he still had the feeling it wasn't over just yet.

"So what do you think?" Yumi asked in a conspiratorial whisper that blew warm breath across Ulrich's cheek. "Does she have a plan to blackmail you into coming to the dance with her, or is she still working on it?"

Ulrich chuckled softly. "Sissy's not always up to something, you know."

"Just mostly. She's never gonna stop chasing you, you know." Yumi's eyes were twinkling with rare mischief, probably because she knew Ulrich had already agreed to go with her so Sissy was far too late no matter what she had up her sleeve. Ulrich was enjoying her warm presence. They weren't allowed to get any closer than this during school hours without having to worry about Jim following them around, but she was near enough that he could small the minute dapple of perfume that she'd never admit to wearing.

"Hey guys," Odd greeted, coming from the classrooms with his bag stuffed full of notes for the makeup test he'd had to do. In a loud, dramatic faux-whisper he added, "Who are we talking about?"

"Sissy," Ulrich groaned. "Who else?"

"I happen to know that Sissy's not the only one whose fallen for your devastating soccer skills," Odd said with an exaggerated wink that suddenly made Ulrich remember that kiss they'd shared almost two weeks ago now. "She's just the only one brave enough to try and fight Yumi for you."

"Odd," Yumi scolded him. She didn't like even close friends who knew better to be propagating the rumour that she and Ulrich were actually dating. Most people acted like it was common knowledge, of course, but no one had actually confirmed it.

Odd leaned out from between them, eyeing the school yard. "Uh oh. Here comes Jim. I think he's looking for you two. He's got that look in his eye again."

Both Yumi and Ulrich hastily turned to look, and sure enough Jim had that expression of purposeful determination that he always got when he was out to make sure the kids weren't misbehaving…and once he caught their eye he began walking subtly in their direction.

Yumi rolled her eyes, knowing if Jim caught up to them were would be another round of awkward questions over all the time she and Ulrich spent together. "Come on, let's go."

The three of them ducked hurriedly back into the main building. Odd peeked out the window. "He's still coming."

"Great," Ulrich sighed, looking at their options. There were the classrooms on the main floor, though it would look suspicious to be in them during the lunch break, or the dorms upstairs where they weren't supposed to be during the day. "Where do we go?"

"He's speeding up," Odd reported before backing away from the window in a crouch with that gaily cheerful expression he got whenever they were trying to thwart Jim. It happened on a regular basis. "Where to?"

Yumi impulsively opened the storage closet. "In here. We'll just hide until he goes."

"Right!" Odd held the door for her. "I'll cover for you two."

"No way. If he sees you, he'll know we're still around. Get in."

Yumi was a lot stronger than she looked, and certainly stronger than Odd. She grabbed both him and Ulrich by the wrist before shoving them inside, squeezing in behind them so she could close the door. Odd whined in protest but wisely shut up when they heard the outside door open again, and Jim's heavy footsteps sounder in the foyer.

It was a tight fit. The closet was already overflowing with mops and brooms and buckets and precariously stacked shelves. They all had to stay perfectly still and lean only on each other. Odd was pressed to the furthest corner, stuck between Ulrich and the sink. His hands were on Ulrich's shoulders for balance, his face muffled against Ulrich's chest. Ulrich could feel Odd heart beating inordinately fast considering Jim was a common adversary and not really all that dangerous except where giving detentions was concerned.

Yumi was up against his back, and Ulrich could privately admit that he enjoyed that a little more than he should. Her hands were on his hips, and her face must have been about level with his neck because he could feel it when she breathed. He had to fight not to squirm, because between them…warm bodies pressed against his front and his back, Odd's legs tangled with his and the slight swell of Yumi's breasts pressed to his shoulder blades…he was probably blushing horribly, and he was glad it was dark so no one would see.

He couldn't say it was just Yumi. It was that same, thrilling feeling that he got with her only magnified, and Odd was just as close and it didn't feel weird at all like he would have expected it to. In fact it felt…good. Comfortable. Right. It didn't make sense, but his arms seemed inclined to wrap around Odd and hold him tighter, trying to make the position a little less awkward, and in turn Odd just seemed to melt against him. There was some kind of wordless communication going on. Ulrich didn't really understand it, but somehow his body knew what it was doing even though his brain didn't.

And then he completely lost the plot.

Odd was as short as Yumi was tall. He barely came up to Ulrich's nose, putting his forehead right near Ulrich's lips…and Ulrich kissed him. Kissed. With Yumi right there although it was too dark for her to have seen it, and even though it was only caste it was electric. In return Odd tipped his head a little and planted an equally soft, equally silent kiss on Ulrich's neck.

A shiver ran down Ulrich's spine. Yumi felt it, and leaned close to his ear. "You okay?"

"Y-yeah…" Ulrich murmured, clenching Odd tighter. Odd petted his shoulder soothingly in that language Ulrich still didn't get, but somehow he managed to breathe again.

Jim's footsteps were finally receeding. Ulrich forced himself to get a grip, to try and banish the blush and the flutter of his heartbeat. He managed to capture the focus of meditation, and by the time Yumi cautiously opened the door he felt like he might not die of embarrassment.

Odd looked a little rumpled though, and he practically tripped to get out of the closet in a hurry. "Well that was fun but I really have to be on my way! I left my science book upstairs and if I don't have it for next period Mrs. Hertz is gonna kill me."

"Okay," Yumi said easily, apparently dismissing the speed of Odd's voice as just one of his peculiarities. "See you after class."

"See you." Ulrich echoed, feeling guilty and maybe a little wounded that Odd was abandoning them so fast. It was his fault…what must Odd think of him? Doing something like that when both Jim and Yumi might have caught them at it. As Odd scampered away he impulsively reached out and grabbed Yumi's hand, needing her solidity. She looked surprised, but beamed at him. He was a little too distracted to notice.

"You're confused!" Odd announced when they got back to their room that evening. He had that hyped up, energetic tension about him that meant he was nervous.

"What?" Ulrich asked, being more so now that Odd had said it.

"Confused. Not that I blame you. Plenty of people have been swayed by the charms of Odd Della Robbia, but this time things are getting just a little out of hand." He pointed accusingly at Ulrich. "Yumi's a great girl. Don't mess up what you've got."

"I'm not trying to," Ulrich said softly, wishing he could get Odd to sit down and stop moving for a minute, "Odd-"

"It was a mistake," Odd said as he paced, nodding surely to himself. "Teenage hormones, you know? It happens sometimes. It doesn't mean anything."

Ulrich tried not to show how that one had stung a little. "It meant something to me."

Odd went very still. Ulrich wasn't sure it was much of an improvement, but after a few long seconds it was punctuated with an explosion of anger.

"What do you think you're trying to do?" Odd yelled at him, but was constrained enough to keep it low enough not to be heard outside their room. "You have a girlfriend who really likes you, and don't tell me you don't like her back!"

"I like Yumi." In fact there were times when he was tempted to use that other four letter 'L' word, but they weren't nearly ready for that. "But I also…kind of like you."

Odd slumped a little, torn between the righteous anger he wanted and…something else. "But you don't like boys."

"No," Ulrich admitted. "But I like you."

He'd thought about it all that day, in his classes where he and Odd had studiously avoided each other's gazes and Aelita had shot them worried looks. Ulrich had thought about the other boys he knew. About Jeremy who was a genius and shared the secret of Lyoko, about Simon who had kissed Odd and did seem to eye the boys more than the girls now that Ulrich cared to notice it, and about William who had recently been voted the school's best looking bad boy in Milly's paper. Ulrich hated to admit that he could sometimes see all too well what Yumi liked about him, but he didn't give Ulrich that same feeling.

Just Odd.

Odd sat down on his bed, knees curled up to his chin. His laugh was strained. "You know, I was always kind of jealous of you guys. I mean, Jeremy has Aelita and you have Yumi…"

Ulrich waited patiently, and sure enough Odd kept talking. "There's no one else at school I can really connect to, you know? No one who knows about what we do. And I've thought about inviting someone else in. I looked really hard, but no one else really fits in with the group, and it's always been more special because it's just us…"

Odd looked a lot smaller than he usually did. "You two are so strong, and so perfect for each other, but you're my best friend and after Simon I kind of realised that I…I like you a bit, but you already had Yumi and you don't like boys anyway so it's not like it could go anywhere. It's just a crush."

He seemed to be trying to assure himself. Ulrich thought back, touching his lips. "So when you kissed me that time…"

"I really didn't think we were going to make it." Odd's smile was a bit sheepish and a bit cynical. "I figured, what the heck, it wouldn't hurt. I never meant to tell you though. It makes things awkward, and we don't need that with Xana on our case all the time."

"How long?" Ulrich asked. Odd hesitated, and Ulrich pressed, "Since before Simon?"

Odd smoothed down his hair, not looking Ulrich in the eye, and the brunet rocked back on his heels. "Seriously?"

He'd never gotten so much as a hint. Either Odd was a better actor than Ulrich gave him credit for, or Ulrich just wasn't very observant. Probably more of the latter.

"Look," Odd began unevenly. "Just because you know now, doesn't mean anything has to change. I'm not gonna try and steal you from Yumi. She's kind of scary, and I'm pretty sure she'd kill me."

His tone managed to make Ulrich laugh a little, and Odd managed a small grin of his own. "And if anyone ever asks, it's not like we ever really did anything, right? It got lost when we returned to the past so really-"

Ulrich kissing him shut him up quickly. He had to push Odd back a bit to get access to his mouth, and when it finished he was pretty sure that his hands holding Odd's shoulders were the only reason the smaller boy hadn't fallen backwards. Odd blinked rapidly, looking stunned and, for the first time Ulrich had ever witnessed, he was blushing.

"Now we have," Ulrich said firmly, and felt there was no going back now. He didn't mind.

Odd reached up and tentatively hooked his hands into the collar of Ulrich's shirt. There was a slightly wondrous look on his face that Ulrich had never seen him have with any girl. "But what about Yumi?"

Ulrich wasn't quite sure. He didn't want to end things with her, but then he also wanted something from Odd. He was just less sure about what it was. "I don't know. We'll work something out."

"…Would you kiss me again?" Odd asked. "Just in case Yumi decides to kill me tomorrow."

They were both smiling when their lips touched again.