Disclaimer: I don't own Codename: Kids Next Door. So will you quit asking me?
"I know you're bored, Abby. You've said it five times."
The five-year-old seemed to consider this for a moment, then grinned. "… I'm bored."
Numbuh 11, otherwise known as Cree Lincoln, laughed, gently running a hand down her sister's shoulder. "I know, sis. Just a little longer, okay? We're almost done. Consider yourself lucky to be up here, anyway… I had to beg Numbuh 82 to let you come."
"Numbuh 82's a grouch."
"I know he is, sis, but he's in charge of cadet training."
Abby shrugged, crossing her arms. "Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before," she muttered. Numbuh 11 smiled slightly before gently pulling off her hat, placing it on Abby's head. Her sister gave a soft squeak of surprise, looking up at her older sister. Numbuh 11 gently tugged the hat over Abby's eyes, and the five-year-old squealed with delight, reaching up, trying to grab her sister's hand.
"Abby, you think you can be a good girl for a few minutes?"
"Okay then. I'm goin' to let ya run around for awhile, but come back soon, okay? And don't talk to strangers or nothin'."
"Got it, Cree."
Abby gave her sister a quick hug before running off, eager to explore. Numbuh 11 watched her go, before smiling and shaking her head in weary amusement.
"Bundle of energy, I'm tellin' ya," she muttered as Numbuh 9 walked up. "She's gonna be something someday."
Numbuh 9 smiled. "And you're gonna be able to watch it happen."
Abby was slightly uneasy about the size of the moon base, preferring to wander close to the landing docks, where she could see the blackness of space and the gentle light of stars from the window. She leaned back against the cool glass, occasionally glancing at the stars, but preferring to watch the KND aircrafts land and take off. A small thrill raced through her.
That's gonna be me someday, she thought. That's what Cree's always sayin'. Someday, that's gonna be me.
Abby smiled, running a finger across the tip of her sister's hat. It was still a little to big for her, but Numbuh 11 always said she would grow into it, and when that happened, she could keep it.Abby didn't know what she meant by "growing into it", but it sounded like fun.
Abby quickly checked her watch; it had been a little while since she had left Numbuh 11, and her sister's warning to come back soon still rang within her head. She figured she might as well start back now, and pushed herself up, taking a few steps forward.
And paused at the sound of soft sobs.
Slowly Abby turned, frowning slightly. Was someone crying? The sound was soft, barely audible, and she wondered if maybe she had imagined it. But the sound came again, still soft but unmistakable, and Abby cautiously walked forward, looking for the source, Numbuh 11's warning about strangers pounding dully at the back of her mind. She paused behind one of the aircrafts, peeking around it.
A young boy about her age sat off to the side by himself, crying softly. His body was shaking slightly; it was obvious he was trying to keep his sobs silent. There was no one with him; none of the operatives tried to approach the boy, much less speak to him. Abby felt her heart go out to the boy, and cautiously she walked towards him.
"Hey… you okay?"
The little boy jumped, turning at the sound of her voice. Abby realized he was wearing goggles, so she couldn't see his eyes, but his dark brown hair stuck out in odd little directions. He sniffled, wiping at his nose, and although his eyes were hidden, Abby saw the tear trails on his face. "Who are you?"
His voice trembled, and Abby felt her heart ache. "I'm not gonna hurt ya," she said, taking another step forward. "I just want to know if you're okay."
"They left me." The boy sniffled again, obviously trying to regain some composure. "My friends and I came up here with Numbuh 85, but they left me behind."
Abby couldn't believe her ears. "How did they leave ya behind?"
"They just did." The boy took a deep, shuddering breath. "I don't know how, but they did."
"And now you're all by yourself."
"Yeah." He swallowed. "I'm scared."
Something inside Abby melted at the heartbroken look in his eyes. She couldn't just leave him here all by himself, and he wasn't really a stranger, she reasoned. He was her age, and she'd seen him around the Arctic base a few times. So Numbuh 11 wouldn't mind if she came back with the boy in tow.
"Look, why don't ya come back to my sister with me? She'll help you."
The boy looked uneasy. "Mom says I'm not supposed to trust strangers."
"That's what my sis says. But I'm a cadet, just like you. So, we're not really strangers to each other, right?"
"… I guess that makes sense."
Abby felt a smile tug at the corners of her lips, but managed to keep it from forming. She held out her hand to the boy, and after some hesitation, he took it.
"What's your name, anyway? Mine's Abby."
The boy smiled then, a small smile, but a smile nonetheless. "Hoagie. My name's Hoagie."
Seventeen-year-old Abby yawned, leaning back against the door of her house, letting her eyes drift lazily over the neighborhood. She kept her hat tilted, just enough so she could see, just enough to keep the sun out of her eyes.
The nudge of the door against her back made Abby jerk forward in surprise, but she relaxed when Cree squeezed out, holding a can of Dr. Pepper in one hand, tossing another can to Abby. Abby caught it in midair, flicked it open, and took a long drink. Cree leaned against the porch railing.
"Hey, Abby, isn't that Hoagie?"
Abby looked up, following her sister's gaze to where her old-time friend sat, in front of his own house, but he didn't seem to be enjoying the day like the two Lincoln sisters. "Yeah," she said after a moment. "Yeah, it is."
"Isn't Becky supposed to be with him or something?"
"How should I know?"
At twenty-two years old, Cree had learned to recognize barely disguised distain when she heard it. "I get the feeling you ain't that fond of Becky, sis."
"She's Hoagie's gal. Doesn't matter if I don't like 'er, he's my best friend."
Cree shrugged, taking another sip of Dr. Pepper. "He looks pretty down."
"Are you tryin' to tell me something, Cree?"
"Maybe. Maybe not." Cree took another sip.
With a sigh, Abby placed her can on the ground. "Watch this for me, would ya? And no drinkin' it."
Cree circled her shoulders. "Wouldn't dream of it, kid."
Abby glared at her sister, but Cree calmly ignored her; after a moment, with a sigh, the teenager bounded down the stairs and trotted across the street.
He jumped in surprise at the sound of her voice, a small smile flitting briefly as she slid in to sit next to him. "Hey, Abby."
"What are you doin' over here all by yourself? Wasn't Becky supposed to be comin' by?"
"I thought so." Hoagie shrugged. "But she hasn't shown up."
Abby gazed at her friend, chewing her lip.
"They left me behind."
Abby closed her eyes, remembering that day twelve years ago, when she had reached out to a scared little boy, left behind by his friends, and he had trusted her enough to take her hand and let her lead him to her sister.
In so many ways, she knew, Hoagie had grown up. But in so many ways, he was still that sad, scared little boy, all alone, left behind, waiting for someone to offer him their hand.
She had. And he had been her best friend for the next twelve years.
"Since Becky's pullin' a no show, wanna come over to my place, order some pizza, watch soap operas, and do homework? It ain't no fun with just Cree."
Hoagie smiled. "I don't like soap operas."
"Neither do I, but Cree does. We can offer her a box of tissues or something when she starts wailing about how Brooke cheated on Jack with Chase."
"I heard that!" Cree called indignantly.
Abby and Hoagie both laughed; Abby rose, brushing off her pants, and turned to face her old friend, offering him her hand. "So, what do ya say?"
Hoagie hesitated for only a moment, and in that moment, he was once again five years old, and a girl he didn't know stood before him, offering him her hand, her friendship.
"Look, why don't ya come back to my sister with me?"
Abby saw Hoagie frown for an instant, thinking; a moment later, he smiled, taking her hand.
"I say that's the best offer I've had all day."
I like this... very much. Sorry to some expecting (or hoping) that Hoagie would give up on Becky and realize Abby's the one for him, this was just another friendship thing between Abby and Hoagie.
I'm wondering now if I should write a sequel to this... what do you guys think?