Operation : 4-G.O.T.T.E.N.

4

Gets

One-sidedly

Thrown

Tensionally and

Exotically

Nowhere

Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own anything that has to do with KND except my imagination, but those characters still aren't mine, so the adventures they go on are mine. Story line mine, KND not.

Hard to Forget

I can still remember Numbah One's big news three days ago. It was extremely hard to forget such news on a beautiful autumn day. The leaves outside had already started falling, leaving the trees half naked to face the wind that would soon turn icy cold, but for now, it was a gentle cool breeze that everyone enjoyed. Especially me.

Me? I'm Kuki Sanban, also known as Numbah Three to my fellow operatives. My friends and I are in an organization called the Kids Next Door, called to protect kids everywhere from the evil clutches of adults and teenagers. Our base is in a tree house in my friend, Numbah One also known as Nigel Uno's house. Numbah One is one of the best of the best, he knows what he wants and figures out a way to get it. He's our sector's leader.

The operatives who shared the tree house that I was in were Numbah One, Numbah Two, Numbah Four, and Numbah Five, but these codenames don't really tell you much, do they? If I were to say, "Hey Numbah Two!" most people would glance at me, wondering what in the world I was talking about. But if I shouted, "Hey Hoagie!" a lot of people would turn to the once chubby, but now tall and slender boy wearing his famous goggles on his forehead with his trademarked dimpled grin.

At ten, Hoagie P. Gilligan Jr. was the short, chubby, humor-loving genius who invented all kinds of inventions that we would use for our different missions. Now at twelve, he's still humor-loving and a genius, but not so short and chubby anymore. In fact, he got cute over the two year span. Girls who usually didn't pay mind to him for his looks began hunting after him, but he would have nothing to do with them. That was because his heart was taken by a girl long ago and that girl was Numbah Five.

Abigail Lincoln, a.k.a. Numbah Five, was the 'cool girl' of the team. Just by walking into a room she could silence it with her honey brown eyes peeking out from under her red cap, her long, dark braid hanging from the back of her cap, and her attitude telling them to shut up. She usually knew what to do when Numbah One wasn't around, she was second in command. I often wondered where she got her street girl accent from, since her dad fumbled with his words and her mother had a French accent. Not even her sister talked like she did, so I still wonder about that.

But still at twelve, taller, tougher, and spiked with attitude, she still has the same personality from when she was ten. And she would never leave anyone out. If something where to happen, she worried for everyone, no matter who you were, even if you were a short, unpopular, and tubby student in her class. She was the one to turn to if you had a problem, and since she learned a lot of her fighting moves from her older sister, Cree, she was the one to turn to if you wanted to learn some new fighting moves.

Numbah Four was always up for learning anything that had to do with punching, kicking, or beating someone up. Wallabee Beatles, the tough guy of our sector, and the shortest, was the rashest, unreasonable, most difficult and dimwitted kid you could ever meet. He hardly thought of the consequences of his actions and could care less of what happened to him, as long as he won. He had a temper problem that took him forever to get control of, and when he did, he would become the sweetest boy to ever meet Cleveland. And for some reason, I found this extremely attractive.

His frustration brought me giggles and the irony of him being short with a big bully's attitude made him awfully cute. Unless he was mad at me or I was made at him, which happened to be a lot of the time, we were the best of friends and almost inseparable. When we were ten, I tried hugging him whenever I could and picking the right moments to hug him in, not to give away my secret. But as these two years passed, I avoided hugging him, not because I don't like him anymore, but because I'm too shy to.

Shyness wouldn't have been a personality trait you would label me two years ago. At ten I was a flirtatious, happy-go-lucky, fun-loving, and nature-loving girl. I loved to express myself whenever I could, from drawing, to singing, to dancing, but now, I do these things in private and blush to the darkest of reds if I'm caught in the act. And flirting, well, I did it to watch Numbah Four get jealous. I would tease other boys to see what he would do and usually he would pull me away from them or interrupt the conversation. But now, he just stares at me with a look that says, 'I'm right here, you know.'

But no matter what, I could always count on my comrade to help me out, until now.

&&&

Numbah One's voice echoed within the tree house, interrupting my experimenting with make-up.

"Fellow operatives, report to the living room, stat!"

"Uh-oh." I hummed, trying to remove the eye-liner and eye shadow from my eyelids. In reality, we weren't, I mean, us girls, weren't supposed to be wondering what it would be like to wear make-up all day to impress others. Make-up was supposed to make you look older and that wasn't the plan of being a KND member. I was allowed to have some because when I used to play with my stuffed animals I would dress them up and play pretend, but I didn't put make up on to play pretend this time. I really wanted to know what it was like.

Before I started removing my make-up, I had looked at myself in my mirror, examining my face as I added each new cosmetic on. I really did look like a teenager, which was a little exciting and a little alarming at the same time. Was this bad to wonder what it was like to become a teenager in one year? I sighed as I shoved all the make-up back into the drawer I had taken it out from and ran to the living room.

I pulled my sleeves over my hands and smiled. I had actually grown into my overbaggy sweaters that my mom bought me after all that sciencey junk started happening to my body, but with some stretching and buying them a size bigger than usual, I looked fine and comfortable. I'm still nervous showing my body like teenage girls do, but I'm still twelve, so I should be. The only ones in the room were me, Numbah One, and Numbah Four.

Numbah Five came out after and Numbah Two followed. "What's up?" asked Numbah Two, his voice no longer so high pitched, but mellow and smooth. Numbah One looked to the floor, no sign of happiness in his face. His black, round sunglasses slid down his nose as he shook his head and sighed. "It is a proud day when a kid is picked off the grounds of a school and offered a job that sacrifices his entire childhood to do good for the benefit of all kids everywhere, and the offer is taken."

I nodded along with everyone else. This was too true. "But, of course, this job cannot be fulfilled throughout the operative's entire life. There comes a time when the operative becomes too old to accomplish the title 'kid'. There comes a time, when the former KND member becomes…a teenager." continued Numbah One, glancing at us. I got a bad feeling in my stomach as Numbah One shook his head for the moment.

Why would Numbah One be talking like this unless…someone was getting decommissioned! My eyes grew twice their size as I tried to think of who's birthday was coming up. My mind raced as I couldn't think of anyone's. My brain was clogged with the speech Numbah One was giving. "You're not leaving us, are you Numbah One!" I asked suddenly, my throat closing up with tears.

Everyone stared at me and Numbah One didn't look up from the floor. His mouth hung open, as if to answer, but he couldn't. Our leader couldn't just leave, could he? We needed him! To plan our missions, to lead us into battles, to stop arguments between the team! I held my stare to Numbah One, but he didn't answer me like I thought he would. I felt a hand cup over my shoulder, and I looked to the side into the emerald eyes that were filled with sorrow. The eyes I loved to stare into when I ever had the chance. "No, Kooks. Numbah One ain't goin' nowhere."

I blinked vacantly, "Then who's leaving? Why is he giving a speech like someone's quitting?"

Numbah Four looked at me, his expression swimming with depression, "I don't wanna leave you guys…it's just that it's my time to go…" I stared at him, pulling away from his support. It couldn't be true. Numbah Four was turning thirteen! And no one told me! How could he just tell me now when his decommissioning could be tomorrow for all I know! My sadness turned into anger as I ran to my room and slammed the door.

"I thought he was my friend…" I breathed, crying into my pillow. My make-up that I failed to removed fully melted into my white pillow, making a gray stain of smears on my bed and face. Emotion flows out of me like water out of a faucet. Once I start, I can't stop. I tried muffling my sobs by covering myself with the hundreds of toys I've kept in my room since I joined the KND. I always found comfort in small spaces, but the split in my heart was not small at all.

A slight knock came to my door after an hour or so. I had been looking out my window, watching the leaves from the tree fall down below, an enemy for parents who had to rake that up later. I glanced at the door and ignored the knocking.

"Kuki?"

It was Numbah Four. The sadness I had before overwhelmed me once again and silent tears traveled down my cheeks until they met at my chin and dripped off, staining my sweater with mascara. I assumed I looked horrible with make-up smeared all around my face with tear lines marking down my face. There was no way I could face Numbah Four looking like this. And I couldn't really clean myself up without a bathroom, which was right by his room so either way he would see me.

I also didn't want him to see that I was crying. I'd rather him think I was angry than sad. Then he would feel guilty for making me feel this way. For telling me last minute so we wouldn't be able to have some fun together and make his last days memorable. Another knock met my door, this time, firmer. "Kuki?" he called again. His voice…seemed so different. The way he was saying my name made it sound like I was deathly ill, lying on a hospital bed.

"Please, Kooks, open the door…" he whined, placing his hand on my door with a thump. Kooks. That was his pet name for me. How I loved when he called me that. Perhaps that's why he was calling me that now. To bribe me to open that door. To face something I didn't want to face. I walked to the door unwillingly, but I did not open it. I only stared at it, wondering what I was doing.

He obviously didn't hear my footsteps, so he sat against my door, banging against it as he slid down. "F'oine. You don't hafta talk to me. Just listen." I crossed my arms and looked down shamefully. He took a deep breath and sighed, "Rememba' when we made that promise when we were ten? The promise that we would be friends no matta' what?"

I remembered. We had just gotten over a fight that had lasted over a week long. All week we were glaring at each other, trying to put each other down, or start rumors about each other. At one point I had the girls on my side and he had the boys on his. Eventually when that was over, and we were in the privacy of the tree house, he apologized and then I did. I gave him a forgiving hug and in that moment, we promised that even through fights, adults, and even growing up, we would always be friends. I sniffed as an answer to his statement.

I heard him sniff himself, but his voice came out strong, "Kuki, we promised each otha' that no matta' what we'd be friends and friends help each otha' out through the hardest times, right?" I silently agreed within the four walls of my room. I knew what he wanted, but he would have to admit it first. He hadn't lost my friendship, but he wanted my help. He knew what I wanted and this would be difficult for him.

"Kuki…I…"

I put my head against the door, wanting to catch even a whisper of his voice.

"This is a really hard t'oime for me roight now…" he sighed, banging his head slightly on my door, "I don't wanna forget all the missions we've done, all the good t'oimes we've had…but…" his voice trailed off and I slowly went to my knees, my insides feeling like they were being thrown into a blending machine.

"…I'm…scared…"

My eyes widened as those words escaped the lips of the boy who would not even look at a person who would say such things. For Numbah Four, admitting fear was admitting defeat and Wally had to win. No matter what it took. And as I sat on the floor, motionless and speechless, I realized this was the last battle Numbah Four would ever face as a KND member and as my friend. This wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that he wanted me in his time of need, that I was the one who could cheer him up, that he wanted to apologize for the sudden bad news, but no. I got worse than that.

"Kuki?" he mumbled, probably wondering if I had actually listened to that. I hung my head and swiped my arm across my face, trying to clean myself up a bit, pressing the red button that was on the side of my door, opening it. For a split second, Numbah Four fell back, but he stopped himself before his head hit the ground, using his abdominal muscles to hold himself up. In that half of a second, he looked into my blotted, red-eyed puffy face with the deepest look of sympathy.

He immediately got up and rubbed his arm, glancing around my room that hadn't changed since we were ten. "Uhm…" he muttered, still avoiding to look at me in my state. I looked away, "I'm gonna go clean myself up…" I sighed, making my way to the bathroom. I washed my face, and looked up. Much better. Before I looked like a monster. Now I looked like regular Kuki Sanban, with watery eyes.

I slowly walked to my room, knowing he was waiting for me. I took a deep choppy breath and entered in. He was looking at my ceiling as if me crying and his little speech hadn't happened at all. He glanced at me with a small smile, a sign of hope for him, but a sign of memory keeping for me. "C'mon, Numbah Three, you can get through this!" he quietly cheered on, taking my hands, "But first you hafta help me get through this." He looked at me with pleading eyes, "Please…"

I still had my head in a low position, but my interest had gone to our hands. He was holding my hands. Probably not a romantic notion in his head flowing at the moment, but my heart lifted and a smile emerged from the corners of my mouth. "That's what friends do." I nodded and he smiled a relieved grin. "I didn't mean for the news to come this late…but…I couldn't just say…I mean, I had to get Numbah One to…" he fumbled, letting go of my hands and shoving them in his pockets.

I guess I could understand him, I wouldn't know how to present this kind of news to everyone else. "I…I'm sorry…" I apologized, blushing in shame. "For what?" he asked curiously. I looked up at him finally, facing reality, "F-for acting the way I did…I took this like a baby and-"

"No!" he interrupted so suddenly that I jumped. I looked at him with terrified eyes as he realized his error and smiled, "It ain't yo' fault. This whole thing came out wrong and…well…" He shrugged, letting me know the way I acted was okay with him. "Hey, let's all get some ice cream. There's this strawberry an' chocolate shake I've been d'oyin' to have." I smiled and did something I hadn't done in a long time. I pulled him into a hug, but this time it was different because I wasn't used to Wally being the same height as me, so I rested my chin on his shoulder and hugged him that way.

I could feel his body tense up at first, then relax when I let him go. His cheeks reddened uncomfortably, and I got the flutters in my stomach that I used to get whenever he blushed. No matter how old we get, I don't think I would ever not like him. He motioned for me to follow him and I did. Going to get ice cream was like hanging out as if his decommissioning were years away. But in reality, we had two days left and I had no idea what to do.

0000

Author's Note: My second piece of work in a KND category. Tell how you like. This will be filled with anger and emotion, so yeah, it's those types, but in Numbah Three's version. Review and tell how you like or don't like!

-TSSC