Reloading: Kids Next Door mission...

Operation: R.O.O.K.I.E., Chapter Eight

Rookie Obtains Opportunities - Kooky Introductory Escapades

Writing Operative: Vtbots


Almost immediately, Naomi fires a crimson ray from her neon spectacles that strikes Numbuh Two, sending him sailing harshly into a crate. Before the other Kids can react, Charlene focuses on Numbuh Three and emits from her bow sonic waves that stun the agent, giving the Delightful girl a chance to jump-kick her away from her team. Jason uses his new helmet to rush into Numbuh Four like a battering ram. Nathan focuses on Numbuh Five and unleashes two energy spheres from his super gloves, its impact causing her to hurtle from the group and not have a good landing on her backside.

The four Delightfuls who attacked then separate and continue their punishment against their respective opponents (Naomi - Two, Charlene - Three, Jason - Four, and Nathan - Five). Leaving both Brandon and a worried Nigel alone.

"Looks like it's just you and me, Nigel Uno," smirks Brandon. He snatches a random ray gun that he had hidden in his previous disguise, then extends his mechanical wings and presses a button that ignites some sort of jet pack on his power armor. He hovers over his enemy and laughs. "I have always wanted to spar with you, one-on-one. And now I have the chance. Come, Dork Next Door, let us pent out our frustrations with each other, and FIGHT!"

Nigel ignites his jet boots, arms his SCAMPP, and narrows his eyes from behind his shades. The two lock into an intense staring contest that seem to last hours. Then, finally, Nigel determinedly says, "If it's a fight you want... then it's a fight you'll get! Bring it on!"

And the two opposing forces collide.

* * * * *

As the battle rages on, Kenny watches it from a distance, feeling helpless and still quite ashamed.

"This is my fault," he says somberly. "I got myself captured. Now my friends are getting hurt. What am I gonna do?"

* * * * *

"Come out, come out wherever you are, Kid Next Door!" taunts the spectacled girl Delightful as she fires her ray-powered glasses in random directions, seeking to force Numbuh Two out of hiding.

"That thingy of yours is kinda cool!" Numbuh Two comments from somewhere. "I'm guessing you're the smart one, right?"

"Oh yes, very!" says Naomi a little too confidently. "In fact, I was the one who came up with some of the designs of our various machines, including the Really Really Incredibly Destructive Machine." She fires a laser shot when she spots Numbuh Two jump behind a crane machine, but misses. Two pokes his head out and counters with a round from his gumball shooter, and Naomi barely evades every shot.

"You mean that big thing you used to destroy our Treehouse that time? Wow. Hey, I'm pretty good with machinery and vehicles, myself. Hey... If we would stop fighting, you and I could build all kinds of fun stuff together with our smart-kid minds put together. Ya know? Wouldn't that be cool?"

"An interesting offer, Hoagie. But I would have to refuse," says Naomi as she fires another ray from her spectacles, passing just mere inches from the boy's cheek. "Considering we are enemies and all... and that you've been a little too friendly toward girls lately, from what I heard."

"Heh heh! Your loss!" replies the KND pilot as he removes himself from his hiding place and continues his attack.

* * * * *

"Hold still!" growls the tall boy Delightful as he fires more energy balls at Numbuh Five, who skillfully dodges them.

"Your aim is about as bad as Numbuh Two's corny lines; if that's even possible!" taunts the girl as she evades yet another energy shot.

Suddenly, Nathan halts his attack and smiles. Numbuh Five stops her evasive manuevers and looks at him oddly.

"Heh. Smart. Fast. Witty. That's just what I like in a girl." He draws closer to the agent, who backs up a step, aiming her laser-powered soda-bottle gun at her enemy. "Not to mention... pretty good-lookin'. Sure, cute-types like Kuki are all right, but your types... Woo!"

"Don'tcha even try, chump!" Five says, taking a step back. "I know whatcha up to!"

"Oh, do you?" He suddenly leaps at her and grabs her around the waist before she could get a chance to evade him. He lifts her to his level as she tries to struggle out of his grasp; it certainly doesn't help that the boy is taller than she is, either.

Nathan snickers as he eyes her up and down. "Heh heh heh. For a Kid Next Door, you aren't too bad. Too bad I have to destroy you and stuff. Ah well!"

But before he could charge energy into his super gloves to give his enemy a different meaning to the word 'energized,' Numbuh Five takes advantage of the fact that Nathan did not lift her up high enough... giving her the option to give a swift kick to... Well, basically Nathan's reaction to her attack is:

"......!!!" He is unable to utter a word as his face suddenly turns a shade of blue, and he releases the girl from his grasp, collapsing on his knees, groaning in pain.

Numbuh Five leaps a distance away and she whirls and glares at the 'injured' Delightful boy. "Ha. I'd like to see you try to fight now, sucka!"

"How d-dare you!" he squeaks in a helium-pitched voice. He shakily charges up his gloves and unleashes a much larger sphere of energy, hurtling towards his target at a faster pace.

"Wha-oh!" pipes Five as she is met with said attack, sending her flying and crashing into an assortment of warehouse goods. She sits up and rubs her head. "Guess I made 'em a little upset... Man, these guys hit hard."

* * * * *

Numbuh Four would be having a fun time fighting this Delightful dork, if he wasn't so busy dodging the helmeted Delightful boy's ram attack. With a snarl he again lowers his head and charges towards the Kid Next Door. Four barely moves out of the way and Jason ends up ramming his head through the crate instead. He digs his head out and glares at the agent, his eyes reflecting annoyance.

"Stop leaping around so much!" he growls.

"I would if you stop trying to make us play Bullfighter!" the Aussie complains. "Why don'tcha fight me normally, huh!? Or are ya just scared of the possibility that I'd kick yer butt?"

Jason's eyes light up. Apparently he must be smiling. "Okay!" he says before delivering two swift blows to the face. Then, while Four is stunned, he plants his helmeted head on Four's midsection then lifts the KND agent high over him. Four goes sailing and he lands in a not so good way unto a shelf. Unfortunately it is a rather weak shelf with random warehouse-type items on it, and all of it come crashing down on top of him.

Shortly after that, an enraged Numbuh Four quickly emerges out of it like a rocket and lunges at the unsuspecting Delightful, and the two get into a chaotic streetfight-like brawl, throwing taunts at each other in-between blows and physical moves.

"Adult suck-upper!"

"Immature brat!"

"Prissy dork!"

"Pretty boy wannabe!"


"Kuki's boyfriend!"

"... Wha!? Why I oughta--!"

And the violent exchange carries on and on and on.

* * * * *

"Will you please stop dancing around!" the bow girl Delightful demands as Numbuh Three avoids another twin laser attack from her new and improved bow, dodging like a ballerina and humming merrily.

"La la la la laaa! WEEEEE!" she squeals as she does a split to avoid another shot, before proceeding in countering with her THUMPER (the half-bazooka thing that shoots projectiles such as teddy bears).

"C'mon, we don't really hafta fight, y'know!" she says, momentarily halting her antics while her annoyed enemy is smacked in the face by the stuffed animals. Charlene merely responds by firing another twin laser from her mechanical bow. Her opponent barely dodges it. "Hey, I said stoooop!"

"Why should I? I'm having lots of fun here. We never had a chance to fight you ourselves. It feels good to actually do hand-to-hand combat for a change. Besides, we told you many times why we should destroy you."

"But I know you don't wanna fight, either! Kenny was only trying to be your friend, too, and you guys captured him. That's so mean!" The girl barely dodges another laser and she counters with another shot from her THUMPER.

"Oh?" says Charlene as she dodges the teddy bear. "So you know about... 'us'? Well, don't you worry. He is safe where he's at, unlike his ditzy friend!"

Charlene fires a laser blast from her bow, and Three, unable to dodge, is struck and sent back a few feet by the stinging attack. "Owww, that hurt!" Charlene suddenly charges and grabs the collar of her green sweater. Kuki, aka Three, looks at her opponent confusingly. "What 'ditzy friend'? And I think you better stop trying to destroy us for no reason all the time. 'Cause if you don't..." she points ahead, "he could become just like your daddy!"

Charlene follows Kuki's finger, which traces to her brother Brandon, the short blonde boy. Charlene then whirls her head back around and shakes her roughly. "Don't say that! He's not like Father! Father was a very bad person, and Brandon isn't! Brandon is never going to be like Father."

"But what if he does? After all, your dad wanted to destroy kids like us. Just like you guys are STILL doing right now!" Then she says sadly, "Even with him gone you're still living by his values even after what we said... You are becoming like him!"

At this, Charlene becomes shocked and drops her enemy, shaking her head as if trying to shake Kuki's words out of her mind. "NO! That's not true! We are not going to become like Father!"

"You're already starting to."

"You lie!" Charlene angrily replies.

Numbuh Three frowns. "I'm not lying! I'm telling you, if you keep this up you might b'come exactly like your daddy!" Then she suddenly perks up and says in a sing-song taunt, "Your daddy, your daddy, your daddy!"


But Three ignores her, and starts to dance around still singing her taunt. "Your daddy, your daddy, you're b'coming like your daddy!"

"... Quiet ..." growls Charlene as she slowly starts to become more and more angry. But the other girl continues her singing, her dancing, her taunting... her possibility of being right. Unbelieving of that prospect, Charlene covers her ears, shaking her head, gritting her teeth in anger and perhaps fear. Charlene then finally looks at the girl again and glares. "Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP! I am not becoming like Father! We are not becoming like our Father! We're not! WE'RE NOT!!"

At this she charges up the power of her mech bow to another level and the resulting laser hits Kuki right on the mark, sending her flying to a wall, sliding down with a groaning "Owie..."

"We're not..." Charlene says softly as she charges up her bow again.

* * * * *

Kenny Rangsey watches the brawl worsen before him, each Kid Next Door and Delightful Child tearing each other apart. He turns his head away, feeling ashamed at what he assumes he started.

Then he begins to hear shouting up ahead. He looks up and sees his friend Numbuh Three cornered by an angry-looking Charlene charging pinkish energy into her strange new bow. Kenny sighs again -- Even his crush, the nicest or seemingly nicest Delightful Child, is ripping at his friend. He looks around and watches his other friends, who too are having a bit of trouble with their Delightful opponent. Then he looks back over at Charlene and Three again, feeling concerned for those two the most for some reason. He stays there, unable to do anything, swallowing himself into a pit of shame and disappointment.

'My friends are getting badly hurt. Or something worse could happen to them... And I started this, all because I got captured! If only there is something I could do...'

And at that moment, Kenny suddenly gets an idea and becomes hopeful. "That's it!" he exclaims excitedly. "I know what I got to do to stop this fight! I'd better act now!"

* * * * *

Meanwhile, Numbuh One and Brandon gradually begin to tire themselves out but nevertheless they continue their duel in mid-air. The KND leader smirks a bit as he wipes the sweat from his forehead, hovering in the air in jet boots. "Not bad."

Brandon returns the smirk with a similar gesture, crossing his arms in power armor plus mechanical wings and a jet pack and all. "Not bad? Heh heh. I am a lot better than what you credit me for, Nigel. Maybe I should show you!" He somehow produces a ray gun and begins to fire rapidly at Numbuh One, who frantically dodges the blasts.

"Humph! In case you didn't know, I once kicked all four of my teammates' butts on my own! Unwillingly, of course. And you've beaten how many people? None, right?" He counters with blasts of his own from his SCAMPP, still smirking a little.

"I will admit your fighting skills are impressive," says Brandon as he dodges and blocks the incoming lasers. "You are a good fighter, indeed. But like I have been telling you countless times: I. Am. Better."

And with that he launches toward his sworn enemy and the two of them lock arms into a wrestling hold.

* * * * *

"You really don't want to do this!" the Asian girl warns the bow-headed girl in front of her.

"Oh, yes I do!" the other girl replies as she charges up her bow again. "I'll show you, Kid Next Door!"

But before Charlene could dish out more harsh punishment against her foe she is surprised to feel her bow suddenly being yanked on. The energy from her weapon dies down as she whirls around to discover, of all people, Kenny Rangsey, whose hand was reaching up to try another yank at it, only to sink back down when he realizes he's caught. He smiles nervously.

"Uh... hi."

Numbuh Three would take this opportunity to fire another teddy bear shot at Charlene, but becomes much more interested at the exchange between the two kids in front of her.

The other girl glares at the rookie Kid Next Door, her fists on her hips. "And what do you think you're doing? That isn't very polite to do to a girl."

"I was just trying to take that bow off so you wouldn't hurt Numbuh Three with that laser thingy."

Charlene sighs. "You don't remove my hairbow that way. There's a hairclip attached to it." She turns her head and points to it. "You have to unclip that, see?"

"Ohhh, okay. Thanks!" And in one quick move that catches Charlene off-guard he unclips it and swipes that mechanical bow off her head, allowing her hair some freedom as well as disallowing her from firing the bow's lasers at anybody.

"Hey, give that back!" she demands as she tries to reach for it but Kenny hides it behind his back and dodges her attempts to catch him. He would try to look serious if it wasn't for the fact that Charlene looks mighty attractive to him with her hair flowing 100 percent freely like that.

"And let you fry us? Nuh-uh!"

Charlene frowns, but a mix of confusion is there with her frustration. "I thought you did not want to participate in this battle. What are you doing?"

"What do you think I'm doing? I'm stopping you from making a big mistake. You guys gotta stop this fight!"

"Why should we? We're at war!"

Kenny turns to his friend. "I thought you'd talk some sense into her."

Three just shrugs and rolls her eyes. "I tried to, but she's too dense to listen..."

Charlene glares at her, then smirks. "Hey, I'm not the dense girl here, Kooooky! K-O-O-K-Y, kooky. Kooky Kuki! Get it!?"

"Stop that!" Numbuh Three whines, her eyes becoming doe-like and teary, much like in that episode FAST-FOOD.

Kenny frowns. "See whatcha did?"

"Did what?" Charlene replies, faking innocence. "I just pointed out a funny quirk in this quirky ditz named KOOOOO-KEEEEE!!"

Numbuh Three bursts into tears. "WAAAAAHHHH!! Stop makin' funa my naaaaaaaaaame!"

"NOW lookit whatcha did!" Kenny shouts above his friend's wails. "What's with you, Charlene? I thought you were suppos'ta be the nice, polite Delightful or something!"

"Your friend here dared to say I'm becoming like that ugly excuse of a human, my 'father.' I did not like that, considering my hatred towards him!"

"Well, if you and your siblings keep up with your trying to destroy the Kids Next Door, then Numbuh Three could be right!"

"WHAT!?" Charlene looks about ready to slap him to the pasture.

But Kenny keeps his bold stance and continues, "You guys told us how much you hated him. And in your bedroom you told me how little he cared of you and your siblings, if he even cared at all. But look at this!"

Kenny waves his hand to the other fighters in the battlefield. Charlene follows it and watches her siblings battling out with their enemies. She could clearly see the fight wearing down both forces, particularly the foes'. Nigel Uno and Brandon especially are tearing each other apart.

Having gotten over the insult, the Asian KND's cries die down as she watches and listens to the conversation between the two.

Charlene fumbles for words. "Uh... well... er..."

"I thought you guys said your father's plan to kill all Kids Next Door agents and disobedient children in general was bad!" Kenny continues, his tone becoming more serious. "But it seems he still has his influence on you. Betcha first you'll destroy my friends. Then another Kids Next Door group. And another. And finally... all 'bad' children. Numbuh Three is right... you are becoming like your father."

A long silence follows. Charlene stares down at the ground, the words of both of her enemies seeping deep into her mind, and doesn't say anything for what feels like minutes. She looks up at the other combatants in the distance, then back at the two other kids behind her, who are staring at her curiously. Then she turns away from them and looks to the ground again contemplatively. Then, finally, she lifts her head up and shouts abruptly, "SIBLINGS! STOP FIGHTING!!"

This halts the other Delightfuls from their assault on their respective opponents, turning to Charlene and going "Huh?" This leaves them open for an attack by their opponents, and thus are each met with such. Brandon emerges back on his feet, but instead of charging to Numbuh One again, he instead detracts his armor's wings, smiles one of those "What are you doing?" types of smiles and storms over to his sister Charlene, puzzling the bald-headed boy. The other Delightful Children, wondering what is going on with their no-longer-bow-headed sister and thinking that Brandon will go to check it out, continue their fighting.

When Brandon meets with his sandy-blonde sister he says, still with that smile, "Oh sister dearrrr... Would you mind telling me why you distracted me so?"

"I think we are going about this the wrong way, dear brother! I think it is time we start doing things different than what Father told us to do. Or else we might become just like Father!"

Brandon looks surprised at first, then says sternly, "What did you say!?"

"You heard me! We must stop fighting like this or we'll become like Father."

Suddenly Brandon becomes angry and balls his fists, and states in a very firm and almost threatening manner, "Charlene! You know that is not a true statement! We are NOT becoming what Father was like! Especially me! You got that, sister!?"

"Hey, don't yell at her like th--"

"Butt out, rookie!" Brandon smirks. "Heh heh heh. You shouldn't even be here fighting alongside the Kids Next Door, what with your little screw-ups and all."

Kenny turns silent, looking away with a frown. Numbuh Three continues to watch everything with concern.

Brandon continues his verbal attack. "I mean, first you let us get away with all the toys, then you let us lure the Kids Next Door into this trap. And now look-- they are going to be destroyed by our beautiful new weapons! Heh heh heh. I suppose I should thank you, but I am too busy laughing at your pitiful attempts at becoming a Kid Next Door. I almost feel sorry for you. Why don't you return to your real home to your mother or whatever, and continue to cry unto her lap like the weak little crybaby you are... See, you're about to cry again."

"Stop making fun of him!" Numbuh Three defends.

But that isn't what suddenly shuts Brandon up. Nor is it the disapproving frown from his sister. For unfortunately for Brandon, his constant teasing and harrassment reminded poor Kenny Rangsey of those types of mean kids he could not stand from his old school. The types of mean kids he wish would shut up and stop being mean and just be nice. The types of mean kids... that he, as a Kid Next Door, shall fight for the smaller or nicer kids everywhere.

And fight he does. For Kenny suddenly rushes up to Brandon from behind and grabs him in a headlock! Charlene and Kuki both look on surprisingly, and Brandon is so caught off-guard that he does not struggle, adding in more damage from the headlock. The other Kids Next Door happen to look on -- especially Numbuh One, considering he at the moment has no opponent -- and are amazed to see the shy little boy of all people actually attacking the unofficial leader of the Delightful Children.

"Whoa-ho! Cool!" Numbuh Two comments.

"Rookie finally snapped!" adds Four.

"Heh, it's about time," Five finishes. Their respective Delightful opponent take their distraction as an opportunity to get a successful attack in, prompting them to get back to fighting. Numbuh One, looking disappointed that he's not the one giving the headlock, sighs and decides to aid the nearest comrade.

Brandon's momentary surprise wears off and becomes more aware of his position. He smirks and says snobbishly, "Ooo, I made the little crybaby mad. I'm soooo scared, eeee hee hee hee!" In his normal voice he says, "Do you have any idea who you are messing with, Kid Next Door trainee? I am Brandon! I am Delightful! I have the goods," he points to his power armor, "and you have the... uh... bads!"

Kenny retains his hold and glare. "I've got the bads all right, and he's right in my arms! Now feel the wrath of my noogies!" And with that he begins to apply some very rough noogies, being cheered on by his friend Numbuh Three. Even Charlene finds herself smiling for him.

"Why you! Unhand me you... you... GRRRR!"

He suddenly extends his mechanical wings again, causing Kenny to break his hold and be sent back a few feet. Brandon gets up and glares at him. Then he smirks a bit. "Heh heh, all right, you got me there, I'll admit. But still, after what you did I doubt you would be accepted as a Kid Next Door now. Assuming your friends are around long enough to boot you out, that is."

Kenny huffs and turns his head away with his arms crossed.

"But brother," Charlene says, "if we destroy the Kids Next Door, we would--"

"Don't start with that again."

"But I am serious. Listen, we hated him because of his past deeds toward us, and for his overly evil and insane plan. But look at us: we are actually acting upon his evil, insane plan. The plan that even we just openly protested earlier. Do you remember? I did not see this, until Kenny and his friend Kuki opened my eyes. If we act upon this... if we 'kill' the Kids Next Door... then slowly but surely, we would someday become like... that man. From abusing our own children, to not giving them any kind of love... to murdering all children who merely were disobedient or disrespectful to adults."

Brandon stays silent for about a minute, then closes his eyes, sighing heavily. "So... doing what we're all doing right now is what would make us become like Father, huh. That... fiend..."

With a sigh, he turns to the other tiring fighters and, taking a deep breath, he wristles so loudly that it halts the action of both Kids Next Door and Delightful Children.

"Crickey! What gives?" Numbuh Four wonders, having just putting his foe, the helmeted Jason, into a leg submission move.

"Huh? What's the problem, Brandon?" asks Jason, who was about to counter with his own submission manuever.

"Raise your hand if you wish to become like our... Father!" he spits out.

Immediately his siblings display gestures of surprise and disgust.

"WHAT?" replies Nathan, the tall boy. "Are you mad? I'll never become anything like that man!"

"Neither do I!" says Jason.

Naomi crosses her arms and frowns. "If you think I will become like that manifestation of insanity and evil... you are acorns!"

"You mean nuts," Numbuh Two corrects.

"Whatever. Brother, why are you asking us this?"

"I ask because our sister Charlene... and this kid, Kenny, think that our attempt in destroying the Kids Next Door for doing what they do, makes us become like... him."

Naomi's face softens to that of concern. "Really? Well, uh, it does make some sense. I mean, it doesn't feel right to destroy the Kids Next Door just because they're uncouth heathens."

"Huh?" Numbuh Two pipes.

"Yes!" agrees Nathan. "I feel the same way about fighting these disheveled urchins."

Five responds, "Yeah! .... WHAT?"

Jason shrugs. "I guess we cannot blame them for being brain-dead anarchists, anyway..."

Numbuh Four scratches behind his blonde head, turning to his friends. "Why are we standing here letting ourselves be insulted?"

Charlene then adds, "As I said before, if we wish to never be like that person, then perhaps we should do things differently... That is, not the things that Father would do."

Brandon the short boy nods his head at each of his siblings. "So we as the Delightful Children do not wish to destroy the Kids Next Door and consequently become our former father? So be it."

With that he detracts his armor's wings again and puts away his ray gun. Naomi nods and removes her laser-powered glasses. Charlene takes back her bow from Kenny but does not put it back on. Nathan removes his super gloves. Jason does nothing with his helmet.

"Hey, are you guys saying what Numbuh Five thinks you're saying?" she inquires.

"... Yes," Naomi answers. "If we do not wish to be like our Father, then perhaps we should no longer try to kill you Kids Next Door."

Numbuh One looks a bit puzzled. "You won't try to destroy us anymore? You're going to stop? Just like that?"

"Yes," Brandon responds, walking up to the leader of the other group of kids. "Killing you would no longer be a priority for us, as doing so could lead to insanity and misery like a certain someone. BUT!" He holds up a finger, smirking. "That doesn't mean we won't want to kick your posteriors, either."

"Oh! Well, we'll be waiting for our next battle soon, wherever it may be. Just remember that the Kids Next Door will never stop resisting against any injustice from grown-ups or goody-goodies like yourselves."

"Sure, sure. Just as long as you remember that the Delightful Children will be there to stop your own disruptive ways as well. So long as it's not in the middle of our favorite TV programs, that is."

There is a pause. Then, the short Delightful boy turns his head halfway, appearing a little flustered, before he extends his hand forward. Numbuh One looks at it questioningly.

"Anyway, um, let us shake on it," says Brandon, turning his head back to the other boy. "Let this be a declaration of... I don't know, something where we're not out-for-blood-enemies-but-not-exactly-friends-either sort of thing."

One looks at his hand for a few moments, pondering whether or not to accept the hand shake. He glimpses to make sure Brandon isn't wearing a joke buzzer. Then, nodding, he says, "Okay, let's! We're still grumbling rivals but now we can come into an understanding with this."

And so he extends his own hand and the two opposing boys now turned rivals make with the handshake, surprising but drawing slight relief from all the other kids including the other Delightfuls. Even Numbuh One and Brandon smile a bit. But Brandon, grasping his rival's hand firmly, draws him closer to himself, and says, "Just remember. We probably won't try to kill you anymore, but we would still hit your posteriors constantly with our feet -- that is, kick your butts --" he adds, glancing at Numbuh Three, "what with us being different groups with different values and all that. I think simply kicking butt would be much more fun anyway. Don't you agree, Nigel?"

"Definitely!" smirks the KND commander. "As long as it is your butts being kicked by us!"

"Heh heh, we shall see, Nigel," laughs Brandon, producing a remote from his pocket. "We shall see."

He presses a button and almost immediately a noise that sounds like engines running is heard from outside. The Delightfuls exit the warehouse, followed by the Kids Next Door who make absolutely no attempts at back attacks, and the adult-fighting group find a large dark blue flying machine of some sort hovering slightly above the group.

Brandon turns to the Kids Next Door and says, "This fight is a draw. But let me assure you that somehow, someday, we will show you just how we Delightfuls are superior to you Kids Next Door! I eagerly await the day when we defeat you and prove it." He turns to the Kids' leader. "By the way, you ought to thank Kenny Rangsey for making us see the light. Had he not intervened who knows what we would have done to you. Heh heh. Too bad he would be out of your group because of his past mistakes... Ah well."

Kenny turns his head away sadly as each Delightful Child board their ship, with each Kid Next Door watching them intently. Charlene lags behind a little to glance at Kenny with sympathetic eyes before following suit. When all of them are on board the ship begins to lift off with the engines rumbling more actively. As it does, though, Charlene emerges at the window, looking down at Kenny, who stares back curiously. After a moment, Charlene smiles and waves and mouths a "Thank you...." before the ship blasts into the nightly horizon. Kenny smiles and blushes a little, feeling that certain sense of warmth that he's been having at her presence suddenly increase two- or maybe threefold, and he waves back shyly.

His blush and embarrassment level also increases two- or maybe threefold when Numbuhs Two and Four begin to sing that certain infamous taunt around him.

* * * * *

Later that night -- the time where normal kids would be in bed right now -- the Kids Next Door plus the rookie Kenny meet at the command center (the one with all the computers and stuff and a circular couch thing at the center), Numbuhs Two through Five sitting on the couch, curiously watching Numbuh One at the podium, speaking to a nervous Kenny below him.

"Kenny Rangsey, Kid Next Door trainee... Your actions earlier today were... not very pleasing."

Kenny stares down at the floor in shame.

"You let our arch-enemies -- or rather, our archrivals get away with every toy at our nearest toy store..."

Kenny turns his head away. Numbuh Three opens her mouth to protest but Five holds up a hand in front of her before she could say anything.

"You ditched the Treehouse without telling anyone, intruded into enemy territory, and got yourself captured..."

Kenny's nose twitches and his eyes become watery.

"Your capture allowed the Delightful Children to use you as bait, luring us into their own 'playground' where we were nearly destroyed by their latest weapons!"

"I know, Numbuh One, I know!" Kenny bursts in sorrow and shame. "I know it was all my fault and I've done some really big screw-ups! So, just out with it already. Boot me out and send me away from the Treehouse!"

"Hold on, Kenny, I'm not finished yet," says the leader, still retaining his usual serious expression and tone.

Kenny gulps and beads of sweat begin to form on his forehead. The other agents scoot near the edge of their seats. The commander adjusts his shades, still looking down at the rookie seriously as he continues.

"Those mentioned actions did cause quite a bit of trouble, Kenny.... But who said anything about booting you out of the Kids Next Door?"

Kenny looks up, blinking. "Huh?"

Numbuh One's tense body suddenly relaxes and his face softens. "Despite all that, you still pulled through in the end. You didn't give up, and you managed to save our lives, albeit in an interesting way. That kind of perserverence, Kenny, definitely earns you lots of bonus Kid Next Door trainee points..."

The leader smiles and takes something from inside the podium. He then leaves the podium carrying a small bag, stepping down from the stage and approaching the trainee. Kenny looks at him curiously as the leader of the Kids Next Door draws near him.

"The traits you have shown this past week and especially this day is certainly official Kid Next Door material."

"H... huh?"

The other Kids Next Door are just as surprised and excited as Kenny is, as they scoot even more to the edges of their seats in anticipation. Numbuh One continues to smile as he digs through his little bag and pulls out a pin with what looks like a small badge or medal of some sort. The actual medal is a medium-sized bottlecap, made specially so that it doesn't bend or anything like that, with the Kids Next Door logo imprinted on it.

"Okay, so you may still be a little rough around the edges. But a little more practical experience will certainly help you become a great Kids Next Door operative, Kenny. Congratulations."

The gang makes cheery gestures as their leader puts the medal on the trainee-turned-official, overcome with so much ecstasy he stands there speechless. He touches the smoothness of the medal and looks down on it pinned to his shirt. A single tear rolls down his cheek, staring incredibly at the KND symbol.

"Wow... This is... I mean... I don't know what to say... I'm... I'm a real Kid Next Door. Me, Kenny Rangsey... a Kids Next Door operative. This is... so incredibly uber-cool."

"Yep, you ain't no rookie anymore, Ken," says Numbuh Four, smiling proudly at him. "Well, okay, you're still sorta a rookie at this business, but you're technically an official now."

"Now you can do all the stuff that WE can do!" Numbuh Three announces gleefully.

"Yup, that includes access to more Kids Next Door information, weapons, and my awesome lines!" adds the pilot Numbuh Two with a thumbs up.

The dark girl smirks. "Feel sorry for you about Numbuh Two's lines thing, though."

Two raspberries at her, crossing his arms.

Numbuh One nods his head and says, "Of course, being an official Kid Next Door means you would need a 'Numbuh,' like us. So, from this day on, your codename is Numbuh--"

Suddenly Kenny holds his hand up. "It's really cool that you guys feel I deserve to be an official Kid Next Door. And I'm glad at that, and would love to take it. But... I can't."

Almost instantly all the original members express gestures of surprise and wonder. He always wanted to be a Kid Next Door. In ad lib they ask why the sudden change of mind.

"I honestly don't really know. Maybe I feel I'm not ready yet. Maybe I still need a bit more training. Maybe it's the thought of having to hurt someone I like..."

"It's about Charlene, too, huh?" asks Five after his last statement.

Kenny shrugs. "Maybe, maybe not. But I just feel I'm not up to becoming a real Kid Next Door yet, even though I really want to. Sorry, but I'll have to decline official membership, at least for now."

"Hmm, well, that is quite all right, Kenny. Many operatives have felt they weren't ready for the kid force," says and nods Numbuh One, sagely. "But many of them do return when they finally feel up to it. Usually within a month. A couple weeks. Or even the next day."

"Yeah," adds Numbuh Two. "Being a Kid Next Door is kinda rough, so we don't blame you if you don't feel like becoming one yet."

The remaining agents make similar expressions of agreement.

"O'course, the pros do outweigh the cons," finishes Numbuh Four with a slight smirk. "But still, anytime yer ready, we'll be waitin'. Just don't take too long -- no one's a kid forever, y'know..."

"Thanks, guys," says Kenny, facing them all. "And don't worry. I'm sure I'll come back and become official. You can count on it."

"Oh, no!" the Rainbow Monkey-lover girl suddenly bursts in a huge expression of disappointment. Everyone turns to her. "This means we can't have an initiation party. I was really lookin' forward to it, too..." She sinks low in her seat with a disappointing sigh and crosses her arms.

Kenny smiles apologetically and digs the sole of her shoe on the floor, unsure of what to say to make her feel better. But Numbuh One smirks a bit, lowering his shades making his keen eyes fully visible. "Now then, I wouldn't go that far. Instead of an initiation party, how about, uh, a 'going-away-then-maybe-coming-back-for-initiation kind of party?"

Numbuh Three instantly leaps up, clapping her hands ecstastically. "Yay! Going-Away-Then-Maybe-Coming-Back-for-Initiation Party!" she squeals in one breath.

And so the group sets off to prepare things for the said party, deciding that it would be held the next day since they would probably fall asleep or get no sleep if they start tonight. And everyone once in a while giving Kenny gestures of approval such as a pat on the back or ruffling his brown semi-spikish hair. The official-turned-trainee blushes slightly and scratches behind his head from all the extra attention he is getting.

* * * * *

And the next morning, the party (which was shortened to the Going Away Party because "it's killin' on the tongue") begins. There were, of course, balloons -- tied-dyed balloons, which Numbuh Three ordered since those were the colors Kenny told her he liked. Instead of a cake Kenny has a large cupcake, with the letters "KND" frosted on it.

Besides cake and ice cream, several playings of video games, and a little game of "Pin the Tail on the Adult," each of the agents decide to have a little chat with their friend, this being his last day with them for a while and all. They basically wish him luck and say they would miss him and other things, though Two does tell him about the time he turned himself into a teenager and came so close to winning Cree Lincoln, older sister of Abby (Numbuh Five), but alas it was not meant to be. He begins to lament at the memory of the moment where Cree attacked his friends and thus had to choose between them or her, but it soon goes away almost immediately when Numbuh Five walks by. Grinning, he sneaks behind her and playfully wraps his arms around her waist, saying something that could only come from someone like Numbuh Two. Not surprisingly, he is pushed away and met with a bonk on the head.

Soon the party comes to a close and the original operatives prepare to bid Kenny a temporary farewell from their team. Numbuh Two ignites the engine of their flying bus, volunteering to give Kenny a ride since Kenny has so much stuff he has to carry. When he finally finishes loading his things into the vehicle with the help of the pilot, he returns to the gathered operatives.

"Just remember, Kenny, whenever you feel you're ready you're more than welcome to come back to us," says Numbuh One. But then he starts to look a little nervous. "Unfortunately I cannot see you off. I have, uh, somewhere to go." The kids turn to him as he scratches behind his bald head. "Kenny, remember that Lizzie girl I told you about before? Well, uh..."

"Oh, NIGEEEEEEY! It's time to go on our picnic!"

Kenny looks out the window to see the red-headed girl from the photo Numbuh One showed him, standing on the ground below carrying a picnic basket with a blanket inside over her arm.

"Hey, you're not Nigel!" she calls up to the strange new boy wearing a tie-dye shirt. "Tell my Nigey to come down here right now, will ya!"

The kids suppress their snickers to little avail as a blushing Nigey rings his finger around the collar of his red sweater.

"Er, gotta go! See ya, Kenny!" And with that he takes off to the ground level of the Treehouse Headquarters.

"Oh yeah, Kenny, I forgot something!" says the Aussie as he runs off to his room. Moments later, he comes back carrying, "The toy bat you used durin' your training. Just thought you can have it."

"Wow, really? Thanks!" Kenny gratefully accepts the gift, twirling it around skillfully. "Hey, it even has the Kids Next Door symbol on it!" he says excitedly as he discovers the new detail near the tip of the plastic weapon.

"Yep, I put that one in myself. You really know how to handle that thing, ro-- uh, Kenny. Betchoo'll find some kinda use for it someday."

Numbuh Five then brings her arm around Kenny's shoulder, playfully ruffling his hair with the other hand, smiling. "Guess this's so long for now, huh?" Then she leans into his ear. "Numbuh Five is flattered you think of her as a sista, but don't spread around too much, 'kay? It's a little embarrassin'."

"Sure, whatever," replies the boy with a smile as he brings her close with one arm. "Miss ya, sis'!"

"D'oh..." she groans as she lowers her cap over her face. "What did Numbuh Five jus' tell ya?"

"Um... I hope you come back again soon, Kenny," says Numbuh Three with her hands behind her back. "You were really fun... an' really nice... and... Ohhhh!" She wraps her oversleeved arms around his neck. "I just hope you come back soon, okay?"

"I'm sure I will. An'... uh, I guess we can have another tea party, too," he says semi-reluctantly.

"YAAYYY, tea party!" she squeals, clapping her hands in glee.

Numbuh Two turns to the shy boy, raising an eyebrow. 'I would seriously like to know how he easily gets those girls around him,' he muses.

And so the time has come for Kenny Rangsey to leave the Treehouse and the team. He embarks on the flying bus and then looks out from one of the windows, waving to the team minus Numbuh Two, who is seated in the driver's seat. The others return the wave and say their goodbyes as the engine stirs and roars, and the bus blasts off into the daytime horizon.

Kenny will miss being a Kid Next Door, even if he was only a trainee. But he knows that someday he will be ready, and when he is he will officially become part of the greatest organization he has ever known.

As he thinks of the many things official agents get to do, he suddenly has a thought. "Hey Numbuh Two. Can we make a couple stops before we go to my house?"

* * * * *

At the home of the Delightful Children From Down The Lane...

Brandon finally decides to take Jason's advice to take a break from besting the Kids Next Door, including his new rival Nigel Uno. So he kicks off his shoes and sits back comfortably on the couch watching cartoons with his brothers, who are seated in a similar manner.

The sisters, meanwhile, are having a little conversation in the reading room.

"So is it true?" Naomi asks, adjusting her glasses. "That Kenny Rangsey boy likes you? As in, really likes you?"

Charlene nods, blushing slightly.

"Hmm. Interesting. A Kid Next Door and a Delightful Child. Never thought I would see the day." She pauses for a moment and her curiousity gets the best of her. "Do you... feel the same way about him?"

The bow girl becomes interested with the floor. "I'm not sure... I did felt really nice and warm inside when he was so nice to me that night. I don't think I've ever felt anything like it before. I wasn't sure whether it means I have special feelings for him... or somebody was playing with the central air/heating device."

"Hmm. Well, if you do, then it's okay with me, even if he is a Kid Next Door. But I do hope you are able to teach him a few manners... before I smack him upside the head again."

Charlene smiles. "Sure. Thanks, Naomi."

Naomi nods a 'No problem' and is about to grab a book to return to her favorite hobby, when she pauses. Shrugging, she exits and goes back to the living room to join her brothers, deciding it would be nice to take a break from reading.

"Perhaps I should join my siblings," Charlene says to herself. "But I'd like to do that wearing my favorite slippers."

So she journeys upstairs to her bedroom. When she opens the door she gasps. There on her bed is a cube-shaped gift-wrapped box. She feels a slight breeze and looks over to discover the window is opened. She looks out and manages to see what looks like the Kids Next Door's aerial bus vehicle blasting off into the distance.

She then turns back to the unusual box on her bed. It has a tag attached to it, that reads "To: Charlene, From: Guess Who"

'Should I open it?' she wonders. 'Maybe it's a trap, a prank of theirs so they'd have a good laugh. But what if it isn't?' She approaches the box and ponders. Then she shrugs. 'There's only one way to find out.' So she opens the present... and gasps again. There inside the box is the thing that she had always wanted from her father...

A cat plush.

With shaky hands she removes the content of the box, holding it before her. It isn't her imagination... it really is the new cat plushie she saw at a toy store one day. Her eyes become watery and a tear of joy slides down her cheek. She rubs her eyes with her wrist, which is then she notices something else inside the box.

A letter. She takes it and reads:

Dear Charlene,

Well, looks like I didn't get in trouble. Instead they felt I deserved to become a real Kid Next Door! But I decided not to take it. I dunno why but I feel I'm not up for it just yet. Maybe someday. Oh well. Oh yeah, the main point of this letter. I'm guessing you saw your present already. That's the toy you wanted so bad, right? Well, had to look at the other toy store; ya know, the one you guys didn't wipe out. That thing cost a lot, cleaned my pockets off, but I really don't care. Can you believe it was the last one? Either they sell a lot, they're pretty rare, or it just happens to be the last one to make me buying it seem more dramatic... Anywayz, hope you like your gift from me to you. Can't wait for the next time we get to see each other.

- Kenny

Charlene barely even reads the signature. Her joyful tears obscure her vision but she cares not. She hugs her gift, her wonderful gift tightly. She stares out the window, smiling happily.

Those feelings, those strange yet cozy feelings she felt when that shy yet sweet boy consoled her and gave her a great, comforting hug in her time of need, return.

And stronger than ever.

* * * * *