You Care, I Know You Do

Kuki sat quietly on the wooden edge of the treehouse. Her feet dangled restlessly as her pretty lilac eyes filled with tears.

"I can't believe they did this to me..." She cried to herself painfully, "Of all the things to do...why this?"

It' s been three years since Sector V has been "decomissioned" from KND and yet the gang remains to be part of it. Their loyalty to the Kids Next Door Global Command had earned them the right to continue fighting against abusive adults and villains. Although they weren't necessesarily part of KND and they didn't have access to all the files, secrets and missions, they were allowed to stay in the treehouse. They've been there for about 9 years now. Six years as kids and three years as teenagers.

Nowadays though, didn't seem so enjoyable. They've been going to massive amounts of missions and it was exhausting. Even Nigel, the leader, was starting to get stressed out. For the past few weeks, the red code alarm has been going off non-stop. Everyone barely had enough time to rest or have fun. Despite the exhaustion, not a single one of them complained. After all, they were the ones who asked for this.

Among the five well-growned teenagers, Kuki Sanban was the one who took the missions well the most. For the past five weeks she has been accepting every difficult and complicated mission freely. She had no complains at all, not because she was a positive and optimistic person, but because she had something to look forward to. After all these horrible assignments, it was going to be her Sweet Sixteen. She had, no doubt, grown so beautifully. Her long hair stayed exactly the same, with the smooth raven strands and the sweet fragrant scent. Her lilac eyes were more noticable than they were before and they looked good with her long eyelashes which outlined her eyes attractively. Her marble-smooth-skinned body was slim and perfect, making any outfit she wore flattering. Her natural Asian beauty always turned heads and not once had it failed to leave a trail of suitors following her.

And now this lovely sixteen-year-old-to-be lass was about to experience a day lovlier than the usual. Everything was set. Her parents had already organized her Sweet Sixteen party and she had already picked out a lovely dress. All that was left was the surprise her friends were planning for her. For many nights she imagined what clever surprise she might be in for. Are they going to pitch in and buy her a pony? Are they going to let her lead a real mission? Or even better, are they going to throw her an ice cream party? Whatever it is, Kuki couldn't wait.

Yet despite all her excitement of what her surprise might be, there's one thing that she mainly hoped for. It's not her birthday party, with the pretty gown and a lovely night of dancing. And it's not even the new Sweet Sixteen Rainbow Monkey that she was going to buy the day after. What phsyced her the most was what a certain blonde Aussie had planned for her. Kuki hada crush on her friend,Wally, for years now. In fact, she loved him. And now, for some strange reason, she couldn't help but think that maybe the night of her Sweet Sixteen might be the day he actually shows a softer side of him. It may seem improbable but it is possible. Anyone could fall in love, even Wally.

And so for the past five weeks, Kuki anticipated her special day. In order to avoid ruining the surprise, she even decided to keep quiet about it. For five weeks, she didn't mention her birthday and to her surprise, even her friends didn't mention it. Kuki figured that if they planned to keep it as quiet as this, then maybe they have a very big and pleasant surprise.

The day day finally came and it got off at a perfect start. It was a beautiful day, her breakfast was lovely and her whole family greeted her immediately, making her happier than she already was. After all this, she then put her best clothes on, making sure that she looked good for her friends' gift. And she went on her way to the treehouse. Just as she expected, a surprise was waiting for her. Yet, it wasn't a pleasant surprise and her Sweet Sixteen didn't seem so sweet.

"Wow, what are you all dressed up for?" Hoagie asked her when she arrived.

"You silly!" Kuki poked him. "Alrighty, I know you guys have a surprise for me. Where is it?"

There was a blank silence in the room while everyone stared at Kuki. "What are you talking about?" Nigel asked her curiously.

"Come on you guys, stop the whole acting thingy! I've been waiting for this for five weeks! Where's my surprise? Is it a pony?" She jumped up and down and clapped with joy.

Kuki slowly stopped when she realized that her friends merely continued to watch her. She stared into their eyes and all of a sudden, a mixture of anxiety, fear and pain rose within her. The silence was finally broken when Abby gasped, "Oh my god, it's your Sweet Sixteen today!"

Kuki continued to look at her friends as they all gasped and looked at each other in confusion. Next thing she knew, her eys started to fill with tears and she found herself mumbling, "Y-you guys...f-forgot m-my birthday...?"

Everyone stared back at her with pained and guilty looks on their faces.

Kuki forced a laugh, "No! This is a surprise is it? Tell me!" She tried to smile and laugh but the still expressions on her friends' faces stopped her.

"We wish we could say that but..." Abby said sympatheticly.

"We're so sorry, Kuki" Hoagie whispered.

"It's the missions...I guess we've been so busy that we forgot..." Nigel added.

Kuki bowed her head sadly and saw her own tears falling to the ground. Her eyes slowly led to the shoes of her friends until she saw one particular pair. On her right, she found a pair of white dirty rubbershoes. She knew right away who they belonged to and yet it didn't make her feel any better. I suppose he forgot too... She thought to herself.

"We're so sorry, Kuki" Abby whispered. Just when her friends were about to give her a hug, she dodged and ran.

Five minutes later, Kuki was at the Jet landing pad, sitting quietly while she sobbed. Her disbelieveing tears ran down continiously. On and on she asked herself how this happened. Her friends...her best friends whom she had known for nine could they forget? She wiped the tears from her eyes miserably and sniffed. She looked down at her feet which dangled over the wooden edge.

"Look at that town there..." She whispered out onto the scenery, "I bet everyone down there knows that it's my birthday...I bet even the DelightfulAdolescents from Down the Lane know it's my birthday..."

She paused for a while to let a brief peaceful silence pass by.

"How could they forget...?" She asked herself again.

"Um...Kuki?" A gentle boyish voice called from behind her.

She sighed painfully at the familiar voice. He was the last person she wanted to talk to right now. Among all her friends she expected him to care the most. She always thought that maybe he felt something for her. That maybe the mean, childish criticisms he had always bestowed upon her were just defense mechanisms for what he really felt. But no...he never cared...not once...and up to now he still doesn't. He doesn't give a damn about her Sweet Sixteen.

"Kuki" He called again.

"What do you want...?"

"I came here to talk to you"

"About what...?"

"You birthday. You're Sweet Sixteen"

Kuki didn't speak a word. She allowed the silence to go on, hoping it would make Wally feel awkward. To her surprise, the seventeen-year-old Aussie bravely sat by her side. She glanced at him for a second. She couldn't help it. Whenever he was in the same room, his gorgeousness attracted her too much. Over the years Wally had grown so gorgeous, tall and fit that it was impossible for girls not to like him despite his woman-discriminating persona. Kuki was one of his secret admirers.

"Happy Birthday" He whispered to her.

She gave out another painful sigh. "What's the point? You forgot my birthday..."

Wally stayed quiet, allowing a sincere silence between them. "I have something for you" He finally said.

Kuki kept her eyes looking away from him as far as she could. She refused to accept his pathetic last-minute present.

"Come on, look at me. You're gonna love this, I promise"

Kuki still ignored him. It wasn't until she heard a strange soft mechanical voice say, "Happy Sweet Sixteen!" when she turned to him and gasped. Wally was holding a brand new deluxe Sweet Sixteen Rainbow Monkey.

"Happy Sweet Sixteen" He whispered as he gave it to her.

"How did you get this?" Kuki gasped, "It's not out until tomorrow!"

"I never told you this but my mum has a friend who works for the company. I got it from her for you. I was gonna give it to you while wearing the Mr. Huggykins mascot but it didn't fit me anymore"

Kuki laughed a little at Wally's joke despite the remaining sadness within her.

"I didn't forget your birthday Kuki" He told her, "In fact I've been waiting for it all month"

"At least one of my friends remembered..."

"Cut them some slack, Kooks. You know that they didn't mean it. And you know that it's not their fault. Nigel's been busy organizing all the missions, Hoagie's forced to create new aircrafts and Abby's been attending extra combat trainings. Come on, they're your friends. Give them a chance"

"Fine..." Kuki leaned her head on his shoulder, "But they better have a present for me tonight"

"Don't worry, they will" A few minutes passed and they two teenagers rested on each other while enjoying the peaceful silence. Finally, Wally had to leave. "I guess I'll just have to see you tonight"

"Can't wait" Kuki smiled. She then shyly bid him goodbye by kissing him...on the lips. Seeing his face turn red as it was barely able to contain a broad smile, Kuki no longer felt disappointed.

"By the way" Wally said before exiting the door, "I called your parents a week ago"


"I asked them permission if I could dance with you tonight. That is...if you'd let me"

Kuki found herself blushing as much as Wally was. "Of course I'd let you"

Wally gave her one final smile and left.

After Wally left Kuki sat once again on the wooden edge. Just like earlier, her feet dangled over the adge. This time though, she was no longer crying. In fact a wide smile was curled upon her lips. It may have been dreadful for her friends to forget her birthday but she realized that she can forgive them for that. All that mattered now was that she got something even better than a pony or an ice cream party. She got what she wanted and she witnessed Wally's soft side. And there'sno doubt that tonight, there's more to come from him. Kuki looked down and saw the small far figure of Wally exiting the treehouse. And gently, she whispered, "You care. I know you do" She gave out as weet happy smile. Her Sweet Sixteen is sweet after all.