Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Moonscoop, France 3, and Canal J. The custom-created characters NOT in the actual series and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with Moonscoop, France 3, Canal J, or any of their affiliates. No copyright infringement is intended.
Story Note: This fic is set after the events of the episode, 'Down to Earth'.
Pretty Hate Machine
Anger begins with good intentions.
Chapter 1: Nail Me Up Against the Wall
"Long weekend! Whoo!"
That was the first thing I heard from my good friend, Odd, when we were in front of the school gates. It was awesome that we did have a long weekend because it was extremely rare that we had one. However our long 'weekends' only last for two days, not three like the American and Australian schools. Usually, we have Saturday morning classes and Sundays off, but the teachers decided to have an academic meeting on Saturday so we had no morning classes.
However, despite all the excitement my friends were showing, I was depressed. The reason? My father decided to watch my study over the weekend. That meant he wanted to bring me home and keep me locked up in my room except to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Personally, I wish I could feel fantastic about this rare occasion, but there's nothing much to look forward to for the next two days.
I rested my back against the gate, watching my friends smiling and laughing with each other. My lips formed a small grimace, enjoying what I could before my father arrived.
"So, what are you guys doing at Kadic?" Yumi enquired.
"Simple, play as many pranks as I possibly could on Sissi, Herve and Nicholas. It would be a prank-fest!" Odd shouted, pumping his fist in the air.
"How will you play your pranks without Ulrich?" Jeremie questioned.
"Don't worry; I've got everything figured out. Just you watch!"
"I hope so Odd."
Aelita looked over in my direction, probably concerned about me. She could easily read my face, which screamed 'My weekend's going to suck balls'. I was surprised that she was the one that was worried about me the most. Then again, she always looked out for everybody in the group.
I didn't want to speak about it, and I turned away from Aelita. I was more focused on the road, anticipating my father's arrival. I wanted this weekend to feel like a blur.
"Ulrich, are you alright?" Aelita asked.
She should know my answer by now. My face should've said it all.
"No," I mumbled under my breath.
"Ulrich, if it's about your father, you should talk to us to keep your mind off him," Aelita advised.
I spun around, seeing that my friends were all focused on me. They felt exactly the same. I could tell by the look in their eyes. I wasn't in the mood to answer them, but the collective expression on their faces forced me to cough up my inner thoughts.
"I'm just not in the greatest mood to talk. You know my Dad's coming here soon," I reiterated.
"We understand Ulrich, but maybe hearing what we're doing over the long weekend could cheer you up, even for a little while," Yumi retorted.
"Well, I heard Odd's trying to pull off pranks on Sissi by himself, and Einstein is probably going to work on his multi-agent program. So… I already know what half of you are doing," I stated.
"That's true. Still, I'm kind of indecisive about what to do. I want to help Jeremie, but I'm tempted to help Odd pull off some of his pranks on Sissi," Aelita proclaimed.
Wow, Aelita wanting to help Odd with his pranks… that's a first. I seriously thought she would be at Jeremie's side no matter what. If she did go through with it, I wish I was there to see it, because Aelita wasn't the type to make fun of someone at their expense.
"You would seriously help me do that? Thanks Aelita! But what about helping Einstein?" Odd asked.
"Don't worry too much about it Odd. Me and Aelita will work together in the Factory at nights, while I will continue working on it during the day," Jeremie reassured.
I smiled when Aelita thanked Jeremie. It was good to see that Aelita was making the most of her life on Earth after being trapped on Lyoko for about ten years. And it was great that Jeremie was more relaxed about her activities, not feeling like he needed to protect her as much anymore. I was already feeling better about myself, and I need to bask in that happiness before my father arrives.
"Make sure you record the pranks so that Ulrich and I can see them when we arrive back here," Yumi suggested.
"Great idea! Then we can enjoy them years later when we graduate!" Odd shouted, "Why can't you be here when we perform them Yumi?"
"I'm going to a presentation night for my father's work, and it's a family event. So we all have to attend, and the dress code is formal clothing. I'm not exactly looking forward to it but it'll be nice to see what my father's company is doing," Yumi explained.
"Yeah, my father never tells me what goes on at the bank," I replied, with my voice getting lower at each word I utter.
It wasn't the way I wanted to join the conversation, but it was the only way I could. My thoughts were still preoccupied about my father. And the current conversation wasn't helping to get him out of my head.
I heard a low rumbling sound nearby, making me spin around to investigate where it was coming from. Shit. He's here. I could recognise that silver Mercedes anywhere. It was a custom built model, built for senior employees of the bank.
The driver stepped out of the car, keeping his stern gaze fixated upon me. His short, slick dark brunette hair glowed brightly under the sun's rays. His piercing brown eyes maintain their dark look. He wore a very expensive business suit, which exerted his authority. I trembled in fear of his height, knowing he could tower over me easily.
That man was my father, Hector Robert Stern. Forty seven years old, a senior employee of the Paris Bank… and a bloody perfectionist. No matter how much I love him, he seems to scorn me for whatever I do. I want to love him as his son, but he's not letting me. So, I've learned to I hate his guts.
I had one last look at my friends, who all discreetly smiled at me. They were aware I was going straight to hell, and could only show me optimism at this time. I gave them a slight smile in return, sad to leave them without me.
"See you Sunday afternoon," I stated.
"Ulrich! Hurry up and get in the car!" My father commanded. He was giving me no choice.
I turned around slowly, not showing any emotion towards my Dad. I looked up at the car, to hopefully see a glimmer of hope known as my mother. But she wasn't there, and I dug deep into myself. I opened the door to my prison and got into it. My father entered the car, put his seatbelt on, started the ignition and drove off.
As my father turned the corner I pressed my hands up on the window like a curious little kid and took one last look at my friends. They were waving to me as I disappear off into the distance as I watch helplessly. There was nothing I can do, and it won't be too long until my father yells at me.
"Boy!" My father shouted.
As I guessed, he attacks me while we're in a massive traffic jam. It's normal for traffic jams to happen in Paris, especially in peak hour traffic. My Dad should know not to drive at this hour, because he gets pissed quite easily.
"I'm sick and tired of you getting low grades! Why the hell are you getting low grades?" My father demanded.
I wasn't in the mood to answer my father. My defying silence frustrated my father, as his knuckles burned white while he's grip on the steering wheel grew tighter and tighter.
"Answer me boy!" My father yelled.
I felt like I was going deaf. My ears were ringing with pain with his constant yelling. Then again, I always felt like I was going to go deaf in my father's presence.
"I told you before, I can't concentrate," I stated firmly.
"Why is that? Are you thinking about some hot chick?" My Dad enquired.
"No, I just can't keep my focus," I answered.
"Bullshit! You're a lot better than this, and we both know it! Otherwise you're just wasting my time and money!"
"Dad, just shut the hell up!"
"You're in no position to tell me what to do! You're supposed to learn and get high grades because you are my son!"
"So do you think I'm supposed to be good as you expect me to be? Do you think I bring my family shame by getting low grades?"
"Yes I do! I was a straight A student when I was in High School! I expect you to get the same."
"I'm my mother's son too, or did you forget it takes a man and a woman to reproduce?"
"Say one more thing and I'll drag you into the house!"
I don't give a damn, I've defied him before, and I won't stand down to my father's threats. And most of the things he says doesn't make any logical sense anyway.
"Did you ever think there was a possibility I could just inherit most of my mother's genes and barely get some of yours? By the looks of things, you're implying that I have got most of your genes!"
"That's it! Boy, you're going to be dragged into the house! And don't you dare greet your mother when you enter the house! Go straight upstairs and study! And I don't want to see your face until your mother calls you for dinner! Is that understood?"
I looked in a blank space straight ahead, wanting to drift out of reality and into a fantasy world with all my friends in it. But I obviously couldn't escape my reality this time around.
"Good, now keep quiet about it, or I will think of something worse to do to you."
I made a silent sigh, and looked down at my feet. Why can't my father just be more understanding to me? Why couldn't I have a normal Dad? Why me? I kept my gaze on my feet for the rest of the car trip, without saying a word in my father's presence.
Dad drove into the driveway of his house, and we were home… Well, he was home, I wasn't. I took my seatbelt off and got out of the car quickly knowing that my father would yell in my ears.
I walked hastily to the front door and opened it up to the world of my house. My eyesight picked up the lounge room at first, and everything looked all organised and not messed about. Then I looked up and noticed our small kitchen at the end of the large living room, and my mother was cutting up a carrot.
"Mum! I'm home!"
Mum looked up, and had a huge grimace on her face seeing that her son was safe from harm. She dropped the knife, and walked around the bench to give me a hug. I don't care if Dad scolds me for this, I'm just glad to be in my mother's loving arms again. Most people would prefer their fathers over their mothers these days, because they are more lenient and less fearful than the other. But I prefer my mother… because I feel safer around her than my father.
"How have you been Ulrich?"
I wish I was better while I was embracing my mother, seriously. But Dad put me in a bad mood earlier, so I brought that over to our house. It's not like he's going to go away or anything.
"Don't you remember what I told you boy?" My father's voice boomed throughout the entire house.
My mother turned his attention to him, while I looked up at her face. She was giving him that look, her expression telling my father to let her spend time with her only child. I didn't want to stare at my Dad's face, which would probably have an emotionless expression on it.
"Fine… Five minutes. That's all. Ulrich needs to study."
I wished he used my actual name when it's just me and him alone. But it wasn't the right time to focus on that. I wanted to savour the time with my mother.
"How's… life?" I asked hesitantly.
"It's been alright Ulrich," My mother replied in a soft voice.
But I could hear some trembling through that voice, and I just knew she lied to me to reassure me that everything's alright. But it wasn't. I always wished that I could stay with my mother, but currently, I have an education, friends and I'm saving the world from XANA.
"But I've been wondering about your school life Ulrich… Can you tell me about it?"
As I was explaining the events that happened at Kadic, excluding Lyoko from it, I kept on taking glances at my Dad every now and again, and every time I saw him he had that scowl on his face. It was intimidating knowing he was looking at me and Mum like that, but we learned to ignore him while I was talking about Kadic and my friends.
My mother was very happy to know that my friendships with my friends were staying strong, and that I was improving in both Soccer and Pencak Silat and that I was trying to get high grades. She smiled at me graciously as we embraced; at least, I get to feel loved before I head into my dark world known as my bedroom.
"Ok, time's up," My father interrupted.
Great… he had to say it while I was hugging Mum too. My arms slowly slipped away from her body, as I walked backwards and bumped into my Dad.
"I'll see you at dinner Ulrich."
"Alright Mum, I'll try and not be late."
I walked away from my parents, navigating the house until I found my bedroom. At least I would get peace from my father in there, but I had a bad feeling something was going to happen tonight.
I opened the door to my bedroom, and sat down at my dusty desk. I turned on the lamp, since I couldn't be bothered opening the curtains and got a few books out.
Tonight, was English night, and it was going to be boring by my standards.
After dinner, I got dressed up in my blue pyjamas that looked exactly like Jeremie's, but except the shade of blue that it was in was the same colour as my dressing gown at school. At least, I had a taste of Kadic Academy while I was here.
I had been studying for a while since I've eaten dinner too, and I've lost track of time. I guess this English study was very interesting… It's about making good moral decisions, and how one decision can change anybody's life, big or small. I knew how that felt, especially since the day I became a Lyoko warrior two years ago, because I chose to be one.
I looked over at my digital watch over at my bed table, which read 22:59. My head told my body to retire for the night, which was what I really wanted to do after over three hours of non-stop studying. But my heart was beating hard through my chest, like it was telling me something.
My heart was telling me to check on my mother to see if she was alright. It was too hard to ignore, so I decided to get out of my bedroom to see if my mother was fine. Then I could finally get some shut eye.
I limped towards the kitchen, with my legs finally getting the blood circulation they need after sitting at my desk for almost four hours straight. I kept one hand on the wall so I didn't lose my balance, and slowly walked down the hallway.
I could hear my parents having a conversation, and the T.V. was blaring in the living room as I was walking down the hallway. I better keep a low profile of myself. My father wouldn't appreciate me being out of my bedroom at this time of night.
I soon ended up at the entrance of the living room, with the kitchen in view. I stayed behind the wall so I didn't get spotted. I had a really bad habit of spying on my parents, it's mainly to check up on how Mum's coping with Dad's presence, but still, I shouldn't be spying on them, just out of respect that they may be getting along and I don't have to worry about a thing. But I was wrong about that most of the time.
However, my parents seem to be… enjoying themselves. That's the first time I've seen them liking each others compony. My father's hands were around my mother's hips, while they were watching a movie from the kitchen as my Mum was washing the dishes.
They looked really happy too, and I kind of can feel their warmth from where I was standing. I came to the conclusion that Mum was totally fine, and turned away to head back to my bedroom again.
"Danielle," My ears picked up my father's voice.
"Yes?" My mother enquired.
"Do you want to do it? Tonight?"
Wait… was my father implying… No way… I have a bad feeling about this. If my father wanted sex, an act between two people, I just had a feeling that only he desired it.
"No, not tonight," My mother responded with a shaky voice.
I pressed myself again the wall and peeked over to see what was going on next. My mother was facing Dad, with her back up against the kitchen bench. I was concerned for my mother… But I had to see how my father would act to her refusal. If he crossed the line, I'm going to take some drastic action here.
My father grabbed my mother's left wrist, and leaned in close to her and whispered something in her. I couldn't stay where I was.
I sprinted out of my hiding spot while at the same time my mother shouted, "Stop it! Right now!"
I reached my parents in less than three seconds, and swept my father's legs. He managed to keep his feet on the ground somehow, and he lost his attention from my mother, and was now focused on me.
I slowly stood up straight, glaring at my father, who had let go of Mum. I was furious at my father, and I slowly let that rage possess me.
"Boy! Stay out of this!" My father commanded.
I let out an angry breath, and replied icily, "Don't you dare do anything against Mum's will."
My father grew frustrated with my stubbornness, and responded, "Then, you'll pay for your defiance."
My father suddenly threw a punch, but I moved my head to the right to avoid it. I left the palm of my right hand opened and slammed it into his jaw with full force. My father's head violently went back as he absorbed the force of my devastating blow. Although, I thought it would disable him for some time.
My father surprisingly was able to recover from the blow quickly, as he shook his head and growled. He bent down low and made an attempt to perform that sweeping move I did to him earlier. But I had jumped and twisted my body to execute a kick of my own, right in the head again.
My Dad fell to one side as I landed, and I took a few deep breaths to calm myself down. I had to beat him up until he was too exhausted to be physically forceful to my mother, as I didn't want her to get hurt by him. My father managed to stand up though, and I noticed his clenched fists, with his knuckles burning hot white. Oh great, I have to bring him down with the next blow.
I ran up to my father, ready to punch or kick him where it hurts the most. However, my father was grinning. Why? But that was the least thing I had to worry about. I suddenly felt a horrible pain in my stomach, and I realised that my father had directly punched me in the stomach. I staggered backwards, and swore.
In a blink of an eye my father kicked me right in the face with his left foot, and I was flying through the air temporarily. I hit the kitchen tiles hard with my back first. I gasped in shock as I saw my father approach to land another blow on me. I leapt to my feet, but my father aimed his kick high. So I jumped down, grappling onto my father's right leg, and kicked his left shin. Hopefully that would make him fall.
I looked up at my father's face, staring upon me with absolute hatred. Looks like my attacks did nothing to him, and my anxieties grew to overwhelm my body. My father quickly stomped on my stomach, making me cry out. I glanced over at my mother, who looked so distressed baring witness to this. I'm such an idiot doing this, but yet again, it was just my natural heroism kicking in, but it failed for me.
"Stop doing that to Ulrich! I'll do what you want me to do for tonight. Please!" My mother pleaded.
I don't know why my father did this, but he pressed his foot into my stomach harder. But I didn't scream out, otherwise my mother would be even more distressed. I gritted my teeth at the dramatic irony of the situation, because I was supposed to be protecting my mother, not the other way around.
My father finally lifted his foot of my body, assuming that I was too weak to actually get up to stop him. But then again, I did exhaust most of my energy with my attacks earlier. I was doubling over, and my body refused to stand on two legs.
"Well, how could I not accept that offer? Of course I accept. Now, come with me," My father ordered.
As my father walked away, my emotions were bubbling inside. I had this mix of negative feelings surface up to my body, as well as my natural heroism I could not possibly block out of my system. It was so powerful that it somehow recovered my strength. I couldn't let my mother be taken away like this, especially when it's against her own will. I had to stop him, and I don't care if I die.
I sprung up to my feet and ran at full burst along the kitchen tiles. I leaped towards my father and clung onto his upper body, which forced him to let go of my mother's hand. My father was struggling to get me off, but I didn't let up. I was holding onto him like a leech sucking his blood.
I suddenly pulled back, to put plenty of weight on my father so we both fall down. I expected some pain from him falling on top of him, but I'm doing whatever I can to stop him getting what he wants. Dad jerked backwards and lost his balance. He fell down on top of me, and I received a lot of pain being crushed between the tiles and my Dad's body weight. He was a lot heavier than me.
However my Dad immediately rolled off me and picked himself up. I did not expect he'll do that, and I was still recovering from the all pain. He bent down and picked me up by my pyjama top's collar, which almost felt like he was strangling me. He elevated me high up in the air, which was not good, because I could feel my strength being zapped away.
I could hardly breathe, so I forced myself to focus on my father's dark eyes to do so, even though they were filled of detest for me. I kicked my father's stomach repeatedly in desperation. But he was unfazed by the jabs.
I looked down out of fear of losing my breath… but more of my energy was drained. And my eyesight became blurry. Oh no… not this time… It's not a good time for it to kick in. Why did he have to know my greatest physical weakness?
My father was walking across the kitchen tiles while I'm dangling in the air just looking like I'm begging for mercy. Suddenly, he moved his arm and rammed my back into the upper cupboards, and I felt a sharp pain throughout my entire body. He was even pushing me into the handles of the cupboards, and I just wanted to scream. I didn't though; my mother would probably get more distressed than she was.
"Dad! I don't want you to hurt Mum!" I cried out desperately.
"Then you shouldn't have defied me before failure."
Failure… that word really echoed throughout my head. My nerves froze in the coldness they had felt from my father. I had failed protecting my mother from him, I had failed to defeat him, but the thing that stuck out the most was that I had failed myself. I was paralysed.
Suddenly, I felt myself falling… But it went in slow motion, as I descended to the floor. The floor though looked like a white, fluffy pillow ready for my head to rest on as I fell closer to it. But my vision was blurry, and I knew exactly what the floor was made of. Cold, stone, marble that could shatter my bones like glass.
I landed on the tiles with a thump going through my body like an earthquake, and it stung. My vision was so blurry though… I couldn't really see a thing. Although, I'm glad I won't have to see my mother's devastated face.
I heard a familiar sound… Like when I draw out my katana on Lyoko. But I knew it wasn't my katana someone was pulling out… And there was nothing I could do to stop that. My mother was crying out in distress while at the same time gasping. I wished I was deaf at that moment.
"Let's hope you'll be able to see the light of day again," My father's voice stated.
I felt a sharp pain erupt from my body, mainly coming from my head and it depleted my energy. I closed my eyes as my mother was screaming out in her angry yet sad fury.
My body was frozen and cold, and I had lost all my senses. I should have stayed in my bedroom, where I was safe from harm. Because I learnt today that one decision could change my life, when it comes to life and death. But it was already too late to learn that.
Author's Note: Pretty brutal beginning, I have to admit. I was debating whether I should put this at M or T rated, but considering there's not any graphic detail of gore or sex, it fits with the T rating. Well, at least I hope so.
The 'one decision could change your life' philosophy came from the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (KOTOR2: TSL). It was quite a big theme in that game, and evidently, one of the themes for this fic.
For those who don't remember, the Lyoko gang have fought XANA for two years (and a bit). This was actually stated in the episode 'A Lack of Goodwill' where Milly and Tamiya interview Jeremie about Lyoko, and responds to their question 'We began about two years ago' before activating a return to the past.
Ulrich's greatest physical weakness is Vertigo, revealed in the episode, 'Vertigo'. It's pretty much dizziness when one is feeling stationary, however it appears that it only affects Ulrich when his feet are not on the ground.
Also, some readers may recognise that I've reused some scenes from a fanfiction I published and did not complete three years ago, known to all as the Psychology Trilogy. It was posted on an independent Code Lyoko fanfiction website before it went down. When I got inspired to write this fanfiction, I thought I could use some of the scenes from that fanfiction and use it to tell this story. I didn't want writing like this to just remain on my computer as part of an uncompleted story. I had to alter the scenes slightly to make them sound more coherent and to make sense with this story. So, is this a rewrite? No. The Psychology Trilogy chapters each had their individual theme, while this story will have plenty of themes, sometimes multiple themes in a chapter. And the last 'reused' scene will be in the next chapter, so it's a different story.
Well, I hope that explains everything. I hope you enjoyed the chapter and have the time to review the story!