disclaimer: i do not own Codename: Kids Next Door
author's note: as stated in the summary, this is not a sequel to "fallen," this actually takes place before the finale (if you can call it that) of "fallen." (i'm going to spoil the ending of my own fic here) so this takes place after the decommissioning, before the happy ending. you may want to read that fic before this, or else parts of this won't make much sense. but if you don't want to, just keep in mind that Chad and Cree have been decommissioned, and therefore don't remember each other.
His head had been in a weird fog all week. It was as if he had wakened from a very long, not entirely pleasant dream, and he felt disconnected from the world.
He walked through the mostly empty halls of the school. Classes were long over, as were club meetings and practice. He had gathered all his books, papers and assignments, and was ready to head home.
But something was missing...what was he forgetting?
"Happy birthday, Chad," said a voice behind him. "You're fourteen now, right? Congratulations!"
He turned, smiling. "Thanks."
The well-wisher returned the smile and continued on her way.
Chad did the same and exited the school. Once outside, he encountered a familiar girl. She looked up at him from under the brim of her hat--she seemed to have been waiting for him.
"Hi, Chad, you probably don't remember me."
"Um..." he stalled, trying to think.
"Oh, hi, how are you?" he greeted. He searched his brain without success. How did he know her?
"I heard you do tutoring after school?"
"Right, yeah, I do."
"Well, I've been having trouble with...fractions lately," Abigail continued. "I was hoping you could help me out with them?"
"Sure, no problem," Chad obliged. "Let me know your sched--"
"How about now?"
"I know it's short notice, but I've got a test tomorrow. I kind of procrastinated." She grinned uncomfortably.
Chad glanced at his watch. "All right--"
"Great! My place isn't too far from here."
Arriving at Abigail's house, he got the strange, not altogether comfortable sense of deja-vu. He stared at the house. He had been there before, though he couldn't remember when. He looked up to one of the windows in particular. Why was he drawn to it? How did he know this place?
Of course he was being ridiculous. He must have passed by this house some other time. And the weird feeling of deja-vu...well, that was just a glitch in the matrix, right?
They entered the house together and sat down at the kitchen table. Abigail took out her textbook and some assignments, yet seemed somehow distracted. She seemed to be listening for something.
"So what exactly do you want to go over about fractions?"
"Huh? Oh--just tell me everything you know about them and that should cover it," she replied absently, glancing out the window.
Chad frowned and furrowed his brows, beginning to regret agreeing to tutor her. "Hm. Okay, well--"
From within the house there was the sound of a door opening, then slamming shut. At this noise, Abigail suddenly snapped to attention and pored over her textbook.
"So you're saying that when you multiply fractions, you just multiply the tops and bottoms and stick them together?" she asked loudly.
"I wasn't saying anyth--"
The door to the kitchen swung open and a girl, presumably Abigail's older sister, entered. "Hey, Abby, what--"
Chad looked up and their eyes met. They stared at each other in silence.
"Hi Cree, do you know Chad? He's helping me with fractions," Abigail said, but was barely heard.
He had gazed into those eyes before. He was certain of that. Immediately he felt a sense of resolution. He had found what he was looking for.
Abigail glanced from one to the other. Then, gathering all her schoolwork, said, "Thanks for your help, Chad, fractions make so much more sense now!
"Huh...what?" he mumbled inattentively.
She smirked and left the room.
Cree sat at the table beside him. Chad forced his expression of wonder into a smile.
"Hi. Chad, right?" she said softly.
He nodded slightly. Then murmured, "Cree."
Several moments passed with them just looking at one another. Then, pulling himself out of his reverie, he stated, "I think I've seen you at school."
"Yeah, I think so."
Their feeble attempt at conversation lapsed once again into silence. How long had they been sitting there, staring at each other? Chad had no idea, but slowly became aware that what he really wanted to do was hold her close to him. Which was absurd--he'd just met her, and he was fairly certain that sudden hugging was not appropriate behavior for relative strangers.
Yet it was almost as if he could remember what it felt like to hold her in his arms....
Chad blushed, suddenly feeling awkward. "I...guess I should go."
"Oh, okay. I'll see you around then."
But Chad hesitated, reluctant to leave. Breaking eye contact was a force of will. He shouldered his backpack and headed for the door, aware that walking away from her now would be a vast mistake. What was he doing? Why was he leaving her when that was the exact opposite of what he desired?
But why did he feel this immediate connection? Why did the world suddenly become clearer the moment he saw her? It didn't make any sense....
It didn't matter. He knew he wanted to be with her, even if he didn't understand why. He shouldn't just walk away now....
He turned again at the door, and faced her. She looked up at him. His heart thumped oddly.
"Uh...tomorrow...after school...well, I have some club meetings. But after that, do you, um...want to hang out or something?" Chad stammered, cursing his clumsiness.
Cree smiled. "Sure, sounds good."
Chad walked out of the school's doors and looked around. Would she be there? Almost immediately he spotted her as she stood, leaning against a large tree, fussing over her hair, straightening out her clothes. He paused and watched her for a moment in the warm glow of the afternoon sun. Cree turned and saw him, snapping him out of his trance. He hastened to reach her.
"Hi. Thanks...for being here." He heard himself as he said the words and knew how lame that sounded.
But Cree smiled without a hint of scorn. "You sure get out of school late. How many clubs do you belong to?"
"Too many," Chad admitted.
"So do you want to go anywhere in particular?"
"Um, not really." Chad suddenly realized he should have planned this better. For some reason, his brain never got past just being with her. Planning activities didn't occur to him. And again he had the ridiculous urge to hug her. He could feel himself reddening and he turned away so she wouldn't see.
"Maybe we should just walk then?"
"Right," Chad chuckled uncomfortably. "Better than just standing around."
They started walking in the general direction of the village downtown, walking past quiet suburban houses, and Cree started talking about school.
He tried to listen. He really did. But instead he found himself just staring at her as she walked beside him, taking in every tilt of her head, every shade of expression as it crossed her face, the way her lips moved when she talked. Her lips....
He was blushing again, he could feel it. He glanced away. He shouldn't stare. He shouldn't stare.
Cree had stopped talking. Chad peered over at her, and found her looking at him. Had she asked a question? Crap, what was he doing? He was completely messing up. Here he was on something like a date with this amazing person, and he couldn't even pay attention when she talked to him. She was going to ditch him right there.
"I'm rambling, aren't I? I do that sometimes."
"N-no, not at all. I like listening to you," Chad stammered slightly, smiling awkwardly. Yeah, he was off to a great start. Now he was lying to her.
"Well, what about you?"
Uh-oh. "What about me?"
"Do you feel the same? As if things that used to be important to you suddenly don't mean anything to you anymore."
Chad stared at her in wonder. "Yes," he replied. It was as if she could read his mind and had just explained to him what had been troubling him these past several days. "That's exactly how I feel." He almost wanted to ask, "How did you know?" but that might seem strange. He wanted to thank her for clearing up what had been bothering him all this time, but that also would be weird.
Instead he smiled at her, looking into her beautiful, unusual eyes. "I'm glad I'm here with you now."
It was Cree's turn to blush and smile awkwardly. Somehow it made Chad feel irrationally happy.
They stopped when they reached a fence blocking their way. Apparently, neither of them had been paying attention to where they were going, and they had arrived at the Footbridge over the Sheldrake River. The Footbridge was over a hundred years old, and was something of a landmark of the town, but it had been neglected and was in disrepair. What it really needed was a tearing down and rebuilding, but for the sake of "tradition" it was left as is. Of course by now it was a safety hazard, being not much more than termites holding hands, so it was fenced off, and signs were posted, prohibiting anyone from crossing it. Now it was just there for people to point out to out-of-towners: "Look, there's the old bridge no one ever uses anymore."
"We must have missed the turn at Weaver," commented Cree, beginning to turn back.
But Chad regarded the bridge thoughtfully. An old, almost forgotten local folktale was returning to him. It said that if a couple crossed the bridge together, hand-in-hand, they would be together forever. Hardly a first date activity, but here they were--it was like fate. He smiled at the thought and glanced over at Cree, who had begun to backtrack and stopped several steps away, wondering why Chad wasn't following.
"We've already come all this way--it'll be faster if we take the footbridge," he suggested.
She stared at him. Then the bridge. "Are you insane?" were the first words out of her mouth.
Chad grinned. "Probably." He hopped the fence, then held out his hand to her.
Cree continued to eye the bridge. "That thing'll never hold." But then she looked at Chad, reaching out, watching her optimistically. The spontaneity of the moment was contagious, and she took his hand.
He beamed at her as he helped her over the fence, and was only slightly disappointed that she didn't lose her balance so that he would have to catch her in his arms. Once she was over, he didn't release her hand. He was acutely aware of the feeling of her hand in his. It felt...familiar. It belonged.
They approached the footbridge together, and upon closer inspection, Chad's enthusiasm wavered. From a safe distance, the bridge looked fairly sturdy, but close-up, it was clearly in advanced stages of decay. The grey wood was soggy and overgrown with moss, the iron pins and braces were rusted almost beyond recognition.
"Gonna back out now? Wuss," Cree scoffed, smiling slyly.
"Is that a challenge?" He smirked, took a breath, squeezed her hand, and strode forward.
Two steps, maybe three.
That was as far as they got before the entire bridge collapsed and tumbled into the Sheldrake, along with Chad and Cree. Fortunately the river wasn't more than two feet deep, but being plunged into cold, murky water is never a pleasant experience.
"What happened?" gasped Chad after the initial shock.
"We broke the bridge, genius," replied Cree as they excavated themselves from the piles of rotting wood.
"That was a rhetorical--" began Chad before stopping himself. He suddenly realized that they had just been in a serious accident, and were very lucky to be relatively unharmed. "Are you okay?" He stood hastily and reached forward to help her up.
"I'm fine," she laughed as she allowed him to assist her. "Though I can't say the same for the footbridge." She pushed a large beam aside.
Chad looked around them in horror. The bridge had been decimated. "We're in so much trouble." He scanned the area, half-expecting a crowd of angry historians to descend upon them.
Cree surveyed the damage, wringing out her shirt. "I guess this means we won't be together forever."
Chad's eyes flew up to meet hers. "You know that story?" he asked, reddening.
"Of course, everyone knows that story. Come on, we'd better jet before the authorities arrive," she joked.
"But what about--"
Cree grabbed his hand and pulled him along with her. "Maybe we should walk in the river for a few miles so they won't be able to track us," she chuckled.
"Ha ha. Yeah, funny," Chad grumbled. "Seriously, I think we should--"
"Or maybe we should walk backwards into the tracks we left walking towards the bridge, so there'll only be one set of tracks leading to the bridge, so the police will think we drowned in the Mighty Sheldrake!" she teased, thoroughly enjoying herself as they waded upstream.
Chad glowered. "Shut up."
"Or maybe we should do both--walk a few miles in the river, then exit, walking backwards!"
"Shut up. Shut up."
Cree only laughed harder.
They walked together in the direction of the setting sun. It would have been perfect, really, if it weren't for the damp clothes, scrapes and bruises, and the destruction of public property.
author's note: destroying local historical landmarks = fun! everyone should try it!
just to let it be known, the beginning of this fic is supposed to be similar to the first chapter of "fallen". i'm not self-cannibalizing!
this is just a random one-shot, something i felt impelled to write (ha, i can't believe i'm writing romantic fluff! hope it wasn't too dumb?) actually, this was three separate fics i wrote on three different days that i sort of strung together. and none too well, either. thanks for taking the time to read it, and thanks to everyone who read and reviewed "fallen"--i am in the middle of writing a sequel to that, i hope to have it up in the not-too-distant future!