finally, i've posted the sequel to my fic, "fallen." which means it is rather AU, (branching off at END) since it follows that timeline, rather than that of the show. you might want to read that fic first, or this might be a little confusing. and if you're really bored you can read "a new beginning" too, as this fic makes reference to it. but enough plugging my own fics....

and now for the age-old discussion of age! at the beginning of "fallen," Chad is thirteen, having just been nearly decommissioned. i assume Cree is roughly a year older than him, making her around fourteen. "fallen" takes place over the course of a year, so by the end, Chad is fourteen and Cree is fifteen. another year passes before the start of this fic.

i should also warn that while "fallen" was PG-13 just in case, this is defintely PG-13. there's some cussing...and other things.

a big, giant thanks (with sparklers and fireworks!) goes to Cybra, who beta'd this for me.

disclaimer: i do not own Codename: Kids Next Door

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He stood at the threshold between light and shadow. He knew which way he should go—it would be so easy to turn away from the dark and step into the sun. He looked to the light; it was warm and golden. But something beckoned him from the gloom, and he was drawn towards it. What was there? He stood firm at the border, but stared as far as he could into the darkness.... There was something....

"You didn't think you could escape so easily, did you, Chad?"

"Stay away!" he shouted to his dim, moonlit room.

He sat up, shivering, and with unsteady hands, turned on the lamp beside his bed. He rose from bed and walked to his desk, clicking on that light as well. He continued to his closet, then dresser, until every light in his room was on. Only then did he return to bed, pulling up the covers for warmth. His teeth chattered. Why? Why did he never walk towards the light?

He picked up a framed picture on his nightstand.

"Cree," he said aloud.

She smiled up at him from the photo, confident, strong, loving. He drew strength from it.

Eventually the frantic beating of his heart slowed, the shivering ceased, and he drifted back into a tranquil sleep.

---

The final bell rang, and students poured forth from the school. Chad stood outside, watching as the students passed, greeting several of them. He saw two of Cree's sister's friends, Hoagie and Wally. Chad waved, and Hoagie returned it somewhat unenthusiastically, but Wally just glared. For some reason, kids didn't seem to like him all that much.

But they were immediately forgotten as Chad spotted the one he had been waiting for. He ran up to her, grabbed her by the waist, and swung her around in an almost-dance, beaming at her.

"You look happy," Cree remarked, amused.

"I finally told my parents that I'm quitting violin lessons!" he exclaimed with more triumph than the statement actually called for.

"Oh, is that it? Well, congratulations," she replied, with a small smirk. "But really, sweetie, it took you long enough."

"I know, but these things aren't easy for me. When I quit the Young High Society Society last month, my mom literally stuck her head in the oven!" he shuddered.

Cree pat his shoulder sympathetically. "Well, you've finally done it! I'm proud of you, Chad."

"Uh...there was one condition."

"Uh-oh."

"I'm starting cello lessons next week."

"Please tell me you're kidding."

"Um..." he hedged.

"What am I going to do with you?"

"Well," he moved closer to her, "you could start by giving me a— OOF!"

Chad was dive-bombed by an unexpected visitor. He stared up at him. "You!"

"Hey, Chad, ya miss me?" The stranger smiled then aimed a fist at Chad's face.

Chad turned his head just in time, missing the blow, and kicked the intruder off of him. But the other recovered quickly, tackling Chad immediately afterwards.

Cree watched, stunned for several moments as they fought. Who was that boy with the obnoxious Hawaiian shirt? Not that it mattered—he was grappling with her boyfriend, which of course meant he was going down. She sprung into action, spin-kicking the stranger square in the stomach. He landed several feet away.

"Who the hell are you?" she demanded, planting her foot on his chest as he wheezed.

"Cree! It's okay—he's a friend!" interceded Chad.

"Friend?" Cree removed her foot uncertainly.

"Yeah," answered Chad as he helped him off the ground. "Cree, this is Kenny—he used to live here before he moved back to Hawaii a few years ago."

Kenny looked at her woozily, holding out a hand to take hers.

"You okay, man? Can you stand?" Chad asked.

"I'm good," Kenny insisted, reeling, still grasping onto Cree's hand. Then he flashed a grin, grabbed Cree, flipped her down and kissed her passionately.

::Shock!::

Both Cree's and Chad's fists made impact with Kenny's jaw at the same time.

Kenny, still grinning, lay bruised and battered on the floor. "It was worth it."

---

The three of them sat at a booth in a local diner, catching up on old times. Or lack thereof....

"So how did you guys know each other?" asked Cree.

"We were on..." began Chad then trailed off, furrowing his brow. He thought hard.

"We were on the soccer team together," Kenny filled in.

"No, I was never on the soccer team. I wanted to join, but it interfered with Drama Club."

"Huh. I could have sworn we were on some kind of team together."

"Football?" offered Cree.

Kenny shook his head.

Chad frowned, contemplating. Finally, he blurted, "Sixth grade English class!"

"Oh...yeah..." agreed Kenny.

Cree stared at the two of them. "No wonder you're such close friends," she commented flatly.

More silent moments passed as they all pondered this.

"Do you ever feel that large chunks of your childhood memories are just...missing?" Chad asked.

Cree didn't answer, only put her hand on his and sighed. They had had this conversation before.

"Yeah, but if it's the same for both of us it must be normal." Kenny rationalized.

"I guess..." Chad replied, unconvinced.

"Anyways," Kenny changed the subject, "how did you two kids meet? The Chad I knew barely even knew girls existed."

Chad smiled shyly and glanced over at Cree. "She saved my life."

"You're kidding."

"He's lying," Cree laughed dismissively.

"No, I'm not, it's true."

"So—what? Did she shove you out of the path of a runaway bus? Suck the poison out of a snake bite?"

"I was falling, and she grabbed my hand and saved me." Chad gently took the hand that was resting on his and held it.

Kenny shook his head. "I still don't get it."

Cree smiled embarrassedly. "Chad was my sister's math tutor," she informed him in an undertone.

Chad's expression meanwhile had become contemplative again. It was true that he had met Cree when he came to her house to tutor her sister, Abigail, but that wasn't the first time they had met. He knew her before—he was sure of that. He just didn't remember exactly where or when. The past year he could remember distinctly, but everything before that was fuzzy, obscure. Cree was his first clear memory. Yet even the details of how he met her were vague. But he did remember falling, and catching Cree's hand. She had saved him—of that he was certain.

---

It was evening when the three of them walked along the sidewalk together, Kenny a little in front of the other two. Cree and Chad held hands and barely paid attention to Kenny at all, who prattled on,

"Sure, I miss this place sometimes—we barely have anything that can be called seasons, other than 'rainy' and 'dry,' and it's almost impossible to get a decent snow cone...."

Chad stopped and pulled Cree with him behind a tree. They kissed unhurriedly as Kenny's voice faded into the distance.

"Happy Anniversary," murmured Chad.

"It's about time you remembered," Cree reproved.

He leaned in for another kiss when Kenny came to retrieve them.

"Yo! Slowpokes! What's the holdup?"

They both glared at him, arms still around each other.

"Oh...I see," said Kenny, finally grasping the situation. Then, shoving Chad brusquely aside, called, "My turn!" and claimed Cree for himself.

Chad quickly regained his bearings and lunged in for the kill, but Cree beat him to it. In an instant, Kenny had another bruise for his collection but he continued to wear an admiring grin.

"So this is one of your friends?" Cree asked Chad again, unamused.

"I may have used the term a little too liberally."

"Man, those are some prime moves!" applauded Kenny, wiping the blood from his mouth. "Where did you learn them?"

"I don't remember," shrugged Cree, walking away. Chad followed suit, and Kenny picked himself up and did the same.

---

"You can find your way out, right? Okay, bye!" called Cree as she pushed Kenny out her door.

"Yeah, this was a lot of fun, we should—"

SLAM!

Cree listened at the door to hear steps descend the stairs and the front door open and close. "Ugh, I thought he'd never leave," she groaned, glancing at her clock. It was after midnight. "You have very strange friends."

Chad only smiled at her.

"What? Why are you looking at me like that?"

He shook his head, still smiling, and closed the distance between them. "You know, you're beautiful when you're self-conscious."

Cree smirked. "If that was supposed to be a come on, you need practice." But she still leaned in to meet his lips.

She moved closer to him—a little too close. He could feel his face reddening and felt silly, but didn't pull away. Instead he kissed her until too close felt not close enough....

Suddenly the lights went out, simultaneous with a distant, hollow boom.

Darkness.

Cree laughed. "I think we blew a fuse!"

But Chad had gone cold and stiff. "It's...dark," he said in a small voice.

"Yeah, it must have been a blackout, the whole neighborhood is dark," Cree observed, heading towards the window.

"Wait—where are you going?" Chad asked desperately, clinging to her.

"Just going to find a flashlight," she replied, surprised. "Are you okay?"

"I...don't want to be alone here." He was glad that she couldn't see his face, but his voice had already betrayed his fear.

"It's okay. Here, hold my hand. The flashlight's over here."

Click. A small light went on.

"Hold on to this while I go find some candles." She looked at him with concern, pity.

Chad nodded and avoided her eyes, ashamed.

She returned a moment later, hands full of candles. Soon the room basked in an orange glow.

He sat on her bed, still grasping the flashlight, staring at the floor.

She sat beside him. "Chad...? You can turn that off now."

He shut off the flashlight and sighed. "I know I'm pathetic. Laugh at me if you want."

She gently turned his head towards her and smiled at him. "Look at me, Chad. I'm not laughing."

He put his arms around her, and the lump of terror in his heart melted away and was forgotten.

---

Once again he stood at the boundary between light and shadow. "Turn to the light!" he could hear a distant voice call. It was his own. Still, he hesitated--

---

The lights snapped on as suddenly as they had gone out hours earlier.

Cree groaned and turned over, burying her head in her pillow.

Chad sat bolt upright. "What time is it?" He stared at this watch. "Shit!" He jumped from bed and began to dress hastily.

Cree groaned once again. "Turn off the light," she murmured, shading her eyes.

He did so then returned to his frantic dressing. She watched him in the soft, grey light filtering in through the blinds. She lay very still, observing his activity. 'He's running away...?'

Feeling her eyes on him, he turned to look at her and met her gaze. He paused, almost blushing. He pulled on his shirt and walked over to her, sitting on the edge of the bed. She studied him, saying nothing. He bent forward to kiss her, his face fully crimson. It felt ridiculously like a scene from a fairytale picture book. She smiled and returned the kiss, curling her arms around him and pulling him closer.

"Do you really have to go now?"

"Yeah, I've got practice early, and I need to get some things from home first. But I'll see you after school?"

She smiled in agreement and drew him nearer for another kiss before releasing him. Their hearts, pressed close together, beat in time.

---

He walked out into the chill, damp, pre-dawn air, but he felt warm inside. He could feel himself grinning like an idiot and didn't care. He was already counting down the hours, minutes, seconds until he would see her again, already planning on what he would do when he saw her that afternoon. Smiling even wider, he broke into a run and headed home.

He turned a corner to find five children, standing in a close group. They all looked at him with eerie, pale eyes. He nodded at them then continued past them.

"Hello, Chad," they said in unison.

He gave an involuntary shiver and turned to look at them. They were familiar.... He had a preposterous impulse to turn and run away. But he laughed at himself--why should he run from children? He put on a smile and greeted them. "Hi, guys. Do I know you?"

"Not now, Chad, but you will. Soon," they replied, again all at once. They pulled out a dark, menacing-looking box.

Chad's smile faded quickly. "Stupid," he thought to himself, "I should have run."

The dark box opened....

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author's notes:

if the Hawaiian shirt didn't tip you off, Kenny is supposed to be Numbuh 30C. i called him Kenny because of the theory that he is actually Kenny, from Mr. Warburton's animated short, "Kenny and the Chimp." this does mean the fanart i have of him is completely wrong, but no matter. check out my fanart on my website if you're interested, the link is on my profile page.