"Ulrich... I don't think we can do this anymore." Soft statement.
"Yumi?" Quiet question.
"This thing we've been dancing around since we met, I think it's time to let it go." Blunt elaboration.
"...but..." Open shock.
"I'm sorry, Ulrich, but I don't think we can do this." Softer answer.
"Yumi, please? We can..." Plaintive question.
"No, Ulrich, no we can't." Outright denial.
As much as it hurt her to finally say those words, Yumi walked away from Ulrich without looking back. Each step was torture for her and her conviction, but she knew that, when all was said and done, her decision, her choice, her path, would be the one for the better.
At least, she hoped it was so.
Their personal relationship had not affected their ability to remain a team in Lyoko; Yumi knew, and she knew that Ulrich also knew, that Lyoko and XANA came first, came before all of their own feelings. Outside of Lyoko though... The two of them remained somewhat strained.
Ulrich didn't seem to understand what brought upon this in her, and he continued to question her on her choice. Often times, he begged her without actually begging to reconsider. But now that she finally let go, Yumi found it easier to continue to stay away. And if he couldn't see what was staring him directly in the face, she wasn't going to enlighten him. It was something that he had to figure out for himself.
But damn if it didn't hurt to see him flounder, to see what she had given up, to know that they could've, might've, been.
It was her belief that there was better, for her and for him, out there that was her touchstone, that let her continue to rebuke his advances. But she wasn't going to last at this rate, not unless something drastic happened. She only thanked whatever deities had been watching over her when something did.
Odd asked her in that way of his that was both upfront and subtle in its own manner exactly why she had chosen the route she had. It was a quiet interrogation, and Yumi only smiled at him, looking straight at the fanged earring that he had obtained the last Christmas, and let her eyes speak what her words could not. Slowly, a look of understanding dawned on the normally exuberant boy's face, followed quickly by a spark of hope that lit into a full-fledged blaze. When Odd left, he graced her with a quiet smile of his own and a whispered thanks.
It was then that Yumi relaxed; he knew what was happening. Odd could grasp what was being offered and make his own, and he also knew where the opportunity came from. Following this, Yumi found that perhaps he was a bit nicer to her, and, likewise, she was nicer to him. Their relationship became a bit softer, no longer than just battle partners, no longer just friends, but a bit closer. She understood him better, and it was the same for him.
She watched as Odd continued to try his best, try to win over the boy that Yumi had deliberately given up.
She watched as Ulrich slowly came out of the shell, beginning to shine in a way that she knew she couldn't have gotten him to.
She watched as Ulrich began to truly blossom under Odd's care, and she hid away the pain in her heart at what she had lost.
Because she knew that love was full of sacrifices, and that Ulrich was so much better with another, and so she swallowed her pain and her sorrow and continued to watch...
...watch as they continued to grow closer, attaining an intimacy that she once wanted so desperately but could not touch.
She wanted him to be happy...
...and she knew that, with her, he would always doubt.
So she kept her silent vigil, waiting for the day when her loss would come to fruition, and she could well and truly walk away and morph her seemingly bottomless turmoil into a bittersweet memory of a first love.
She stayed to the side and watched from the doorway as Ulrich ran out of the dorm on Christmas morning, a surprised look on his face. One glance, and she knew that he had finally realized what was right in front of him all along.
Yumi saw him zero in on Odd, who lay against one of the stone benches with his headphones on as he tapped to an unknown beat, and rushed toward the boy. Odd, having obviously sensed the motion, rose swiftly and took his beloved music off. Though Yumi was too far to hear the actual words, she could see the expressions on the pair's faces as Ulrich breathlessly began to speak. She could see the comprehension that lighted Odd's face, and she took comfort in the smile that Odd directed toward him. Then came the look she was looking for—the glance full of love and passion and, beneath all that, a pure adoration that she had never before touched—and Yumi let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding in.
When Ulrich leaned in and Odd met him halfway, Yumi turned away from the scene, knowing that the moment of tranquility extending into pure ecstasy wasn't hers.
She saw Aelita staring at her with knowing eyes, and the girl laid a hand on her arm.
"Are you all right?" were the quiet words spoken.
"I'm fine," Yumi answered with conviction. "I chose this after all. Ulrich's happier with Odd than he'd ever have been with me; I can tell."
"You'll find your time eventually."
Looking into soft eyes, Yumi nodded once. She knew that someone lay in her future, whether it be William or someone else. But, at the moment, she was content to watch over the fledgling relationship between Ulrich and Odd. Because, when Ulrich pulled away, looking the happiest she'd ever seen him, she knew that she had made the right choice.
It was her Christmas gift to him, to them.