A/N: A reviewer wanted to know what would happen if Rachel found out that Chad was no traitor at all. Here's what happened when she did.
Disclaimer: I don't own Codename: Kids Next Door, nor From Yesterday by 30 Seconds to Mars. Good song too!
She sat on the very seat he once sat in, lived in the very office that was once his.
It's been almost a year since he defected from the Kids Next Door.
There was still much more to do until shift ended---paperwork needed to be authorized and signed, email needed to be checked, rosters had to be accounted for...
But she couldn't concentrate, no matter how hard she wanted to try.
Everything was going fine in her life, until Nigel Uno had to file the events after that disastrous teen/kid treaty. She had sincerely hoped above all else, peace would come between the two factions. Why couldn't teens and children simply get along for once?
Of course, it had nothing to do with Chad. None whatsoever.
She impatiently tapped the butt of her pen against the desk, thinking. Her world had turned upside down by Numbuh 1's certain claim and Numbuh Infinity's sudden disappearance.
"Chad was no traitor," Nigel had reported with an air of awe. "He was with us the whole time."
How weird did that sounded? Everyone---she was certain, that he was a no-good traitor...someone who cracked under pressure and ran just like so many before him. The one debilitating flaw that proved that the once great Numbuh 274, had an Achilles Heel---that he was just as mortal as everyone else.
It was so much easier to just hate him, than admit that he willingly left them on a bitter note because he simply went undercover. So much simpler to call him traitor than a martyr.
And now, Nigel had inexplicably gone as well and his Sector has been keeping their mouths shut about his sudden disappearance. She and Nigel have been good friends since the Academy, maybe even the closest from any friends she had. How he disappeared just as in thin air as Chad or Numbuh Infinity had right under her nose was beyond her.
Chad's gone. Nigel's gone.
They both had left her.
Rachel penned the final paperwork concerning Sector V. She put it off as long as she could. It would reinstate Numbuh 5 as the new team leader of Sector V and she held it over their heads for answers, demanding where two of her most decorated operatives went.
It was cruel to do so, but she felt short-changed. Aside from being their superior officer, she assumed that on a personal level, she was good enough friends with them to expect an answer. They were once her friends too.
Earlier that day, Abby had come in uninvited, hoping to give her some sort of answer to live by and move towards the future.
Nigel and Chad were a part of something greater than them and it was their destiny to pursue it. She couldn't say what that was, but she hoped that Rachel would understand.
After the now new leader of Sector V left with a saddened air to her, it left Rachel with more problems than resolutions.
They couldn't even say good-bye to her?
She sighed quietly and signed her signature on the document. It wasn't Sector V's fault. They were in just as much pain as she was.
When had it become so personal? She wondered if she was better off not knowing either of those boys to start with. Fanny had it right. All boys were problems.
She glared at the medium sized pile of junk at the far right corner of the room. Gifts from admirers, but nevertheless junk. Now she knew how Chad felt.
"Roses are red, violets are blue, puppies are adorable and so are you." A familiar voice echoed into the darkened room. She lifted up her head in attention, thoroughly confused.
There was no way---!
Rachel cautiously stared ahead, wondering if she merely hallucinated out of sheer sleep deprivation. Something moved in the shadows and the hair on the back of her head stood on end.
"Who's there?" The question was redundant. She knew the voice, the slight breathless exhale and the rugged chuckle that was unique to him alone.
Chad emerged from the darkened corner of her office, his uniform a space-themed militants.
"I will resort to reading every single sappy, grammatically incorrect and creepy love letters to you until I see a huge improvement in stopping it." He repeated back with a smirk on his face, tossing a random letter from her daily admirers over his shoulder.
She said nothing, standing up to peer at him in disbelief. Chad took her silence well, approaching the desk gracefully.
The ex-traitor continued his trek until only the desk was the only obstacle between them, his smile resilient.
"Well?" He extended his hand to her, which she stared at with a blank face. "What? No apology? No suffocating hug or a pat on the back for a good job?"
Rachel worried her bottom lip slightly with her teeth and her expression changed slightly. Chad's smile disappeared when she stared back at him, her expression absolutely crushed.
"Where did you go?" She whispered brokenly.
He dropped his hand and all traces of his cocky attitude now gone. Rachel fell back into her seat and began to drop her head into her hands.
"Hey, hey!" Chad quickly maneuvered around the desk, kneeling in front of her. He chuckled nervously. "This isn't like you, Rach."
"Goes to show how much you know me then!" She growled out through the tears. They up and leave for an entire year and then one of them shows up as if nothing mattered?! She was already emotionally invested trying to put the past behind her and now the walls were torn down instantly. She was sick of it!
He awkwardly tried to pull her hands from her face, but she wouldn't relent. Conceding for now, he opted to cling to her wrists strongly. "You've got to understand. I was chosen for this task. I was the only one capable of doing it."
Rachel's fingers curled a bit, showing part of her face as she tried to digest his words. Her gaze remained fixated on her knees. "I don't understand. Where did you go? Where did Nigel go?"
Although satisfied that her sudden breakdown was gradually dissipating, his grip continued to remain strong, hoping that it would keep her grounded.
"I can't say." Chad admitted. "But this is bigger than the KND. Bigger than Global Command. Bigger than the Supreme Commander. Just— just take my word for it: We did this for kids everywhere. There is no conspiracy against them."
She took a couple of deep breaths before nodding slightly, though her eyes were still questioning for her last inquiry. He looked away, a bit miffed.
"Uno...he---let's just say he unwittingly kicked me out of the job...this job I sacrificed so much for." He chuckled bitterly. "I got kicked to the wayside, stuck with the undercover motif for as long as I desire---at least, that's what Numbuh Infinity likes to call a 'consolation' prize. I'm technically an ambassador now, which sucks. Everything I worked for amounted into a simple communications console."
Rachel cautiously dropped her hands from her face, her slightly red eyes staring at him curiously. "You caused this mess all for a job?"
"Hey!" He defended hotly. "If you knew what that certain job pertains to, your tone wouldn't be so condescending! Spare a little sympathy for my sad plight, why don't y--!"
Chad fell backwards, the wind nearly knocked out of him. Rachel had tackled him, arms tangling around his neck in a near crush.
"I'm sorry!" She cried out. "I'm so, so sorry!"
He froze in the one-sided, crushing embrace, unable to process the reality of his once strict successor showing such a blatant display of emotion.
"What?" He took a hold of her shoulders, but she wouldn't budge. "What are you sorry for?"
"I thought...I thought you were a monster..." Rachel admitted, guilt laced heavily in her words. "You had betrayed the KND and sided with the enemy! I despised you for abandoning us. All I could think about was 'why?'. Why did you leave? Why were you weak like the other defectors when you seemed the strongest? I thought you---I thought you were a coward, Chad!"
Chad awkwardly rubbed her back when she hiccuped. It would have been cute if the moment wasn't so serious. "Rachel..."
"It was so easy to see you like that," She continued. "Nothing more than a traitor. Then, you pull this stupid stunt! That you weren't a betrayer---just pretended to be. It hurts even more that you pretended, knowing that you'd hurt the people who looked up to you, who cared about you, even if it meant---!"
"Rachel," Chad minutely smiled into her shoulder. "I'd never betray you."
She stopped her tirade and slowly detached her hold on him to look at the ex-traitor clearly, a surprised expression on her face.
"Remember?" He pressed on, brushing a bit of stray hair from her face. "You demanded that I give you a promotion one day. Stopped all the gifts that plagued your desk every morning. Pleaded for me to help out Sector V. I promised these things for you. Even if the ulterior motive was on a grander scale from my end, I never lost sight on the promises I made to you. Because you were my confidante, right hand man—er girl and best friend. Out of all the people I knew, you were the most important."
Rachel fully sat up, giving Chad enough leg room to sit up properly. "The job. Why was Nigel chosen instead of you?"
He looked away for a moment, almost in strange mixture of guilt and resentment, his smile dimmed a bit. "To gain the title, you had to cut all ties with the people you knew. Family, friends, co-workers...people who were important to you. It would make the transition easy. And it was. It was so easy to let my crazy parents go, let my admirers go, my comrades and classmates. They mattered nothing to me."
She tilted her head to the side in puzzlement when he finally looked her in the eye, a conceded smile on his face. "But I couldn't let you go. You were the only one I could talk to without masking it. The only one I could argue the silliest thing over with, laugh with, scream at---and it wouldn't matter because we'd make up afterward. You didn't put up with me just because of my fame, nor did you expect anything more from me because of it. You were my friend. The only true one I had."
Chad placed his hand on top of her head and she felt like he was her superior again, gentle and guiding.
"I couldn't cut you out, no matter how great the position was." He continued with a deep honesty that nearly shocked Rachel. "You were the only person on this planet I couldn't let go. You were the only friend I wouldn't leave behind, no matter how bad you thought of me now that I supposedly defected. The only regret that I had was leading you to believe the lie and I couldn't even bear to see you again. The idea of seeing you with hatred in your eyes would've killed me, Rach."
How the tables had turned at that one. "I couldn't look at you either," She admitted quietly. "I didn't want to see you as a traitor. Then it would make it real."
"I know," He replied softly. "But if I couldn't fool you, then I failed. Before I had you to grace my presence with your sharp tongue and your demeaning tone, all I could think about was that job. It was my only goal in life. This world meant nothing special to me. I was ready to leave it all behind. And then you came along and dropped my ego down a few stories. And I couldn't...I couldn't go through with it. Not when it meant leaving you behind. They turned their attention to Uno, who could be easily swayed than me."
"Ah, so it's my fault," She supplied with a deadpan expression. "Keep making me feel more guilty, Chad, you're doing great!"
He chuckled and his eyes lit up, tugging a bit of hair on the top of her head. "Say it again."
Rachel raised an eyebrow. "What? That it's my fault? You're such a sadist."
"No..." He playfully said. "My name. Say it again!"
"Why not?" Chad challenged indignantly. Rachel chose the moment to change the subject.
"What will you do now?" Her expression become serious which in turn converted him to do the same. "Will you go away again?"
"No, I'll remain here," Chad elaborated plainly. "Ambassador positions pretty much confine you here, only communicating when they ask for it. Pretty sad pseudo desk job to me. My cover's pretty much shot now. Nothing more to do than commit another cover: pretend to get captured, fake decommissioning like Maurice and try to infiltrate the Teen Ninjas again."
Rachel nodded. "Is that why you came here? So I can pretend to honorably decommission you?"
"Part of it, yeah." He rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand sheepishly. "That Numbuh 86 has already informed the masses that they've successfully captured me. It was rather uncharacteristic of her to allow me to visit you one last time before I go undercover again."
She pulled a bit at his alien-like uniform whimsically at those words. "She did nurse a crush on you before."
His boyish smirk returned. "Who hadn't?"
The weight on her shoulders seemed lighter than before. The good times. Back when things were less complicated. For the first time in the past year, she was finally relieved. The world seemed to be spinning correctly again. Yesterday had returned.
The familiarity of their words to each other, the crude but well-meaning banter, the peek into yesteryear again. She had placed many things ahead of her own happiness for others' sake.
She just wanted this bit of happiness. Just for now.
And she would redeem her shameful belief that he was a traitor by giving him this second chance. Achieving some sense of normalcy when the extraordinary was given to someone else. He---they, both deserved that chance at the least.
That fickle future will come one day. When her decommissioning came. Will he try to be her friend after her memory is gone? Would she accept the position to go undercover just so Chad wouldn't continue to remain alone in the world? But the now was more important. That bridge would be crossed eventually, but now all seemed right in the world. Nigel had moved on to bigger and better things. She will give Chad that same chance.
"I will, prepare an audience for you, then." Rachel said softly. "It's the least I can do."
He shook his head. "You didn't do anything. You did what you thought you had to do. You assumed your place for the good of KND in the light of my betrayal. I'm proud— no, very proud of you."
Rachel nodded to herself as his hand fell away from her head and finally stood up, Chad following suit. She approached his, no her desk and pulled out the necessary paperwork from a drawer.
"Thank you." Chad gratefully whispered as she began to proceed out the door and inform Fanny to capture him for immediate decommissioning. Something told her that he wasn't going to put up much of a fight. Smiling inwardly, she turned to face him.
"If it's any consolation, you're still the best, Chad. Everyone knows now. You're a legend again."
He answered by walking after her and taking her free hand into his, clasping it. She stared at the action with a minute blush on her face. This time, it was a warranted response.
"I'm no legend anymore, Rach." His smile seemed brighter and he squeezed reassuringly. It prompted a small smile to escape from her due to the familiarity of it. "Because you made me human."