Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses. ~Proverb
Rainbow Christmas, Rainbow Christmas,
Oh, so very wild and filled with children!
Joy for all the girls and boys,
Naughty, naughty kids don't get no toys!
Oh, silver and gold and red and white,
Rainbow Christmas, Rainbow Christmas, is tonight!
"Oooh," Bartie depressingly moaned quietly to himself as the music went on and on. The fair haired communications officer grumbled to himself as he pressed his helmet down harder, hoping that it would help drown out the bubbly, oh so girly song booming over the intercom system. Every boy around him in the station agreed with his thoughts, but it would matter not. "Any other song would have been better then this."
"I concur." Numbuh 74.239 snipped form the left of Bartie. The auburn scientist was trying to engage a fellow nerd in a good old fashioned holiday Yipper smackdown match, but the irritating music made it near impossible to concentrate. Dave's eyes twitched as he stared intently at the trading cards in his hand and he attempted to block out the noise. His finger hovered over two promising cards that could secure his victory, but the the song restarted itself and the girl nearest to the player cranked the volume up louder.
"THAT'S IT!" Dave snapped. His sudden motions surprised the scientist opposite of him, and dozens of Yipper cards were tossed carelessly to the air as he violently turned to face the source of the music. Dave sneered at the girls, at how their heads bobbed joylessly in tune with the beat. Finally having enough, he rose his fist and shook it while he shouted. "We've been forced to listen to this nonsense four times now! FOUR! Either pipe it down or shut it off!" As he finished, every other male in the station made annoyed grunts of agreement.
"Shaddup, boy!" Fanny responded as she glared at the orange haired nerd. The redhead allowed a cheeky grin to bloom upon her lips as her fingers lightly grasped the knob of the speaker, turning up the music even louder. "We all voted on what ta listen to, and we all around better GIRLS won fair 'n' square. So nah!"
Standing up himself, Herbie got out of his seat, and frowned at Fanny as he adjusted his glasses and pocket protector. "Of course the girls would win! You all waited to pull the vote trick until Numbuh 77.904 left to go home, making there be one more girl then the boys' total count! That's not fair!"
At that, Fanny smugly smirked. "I know. That was the whole point." The Global Tactical Officer then high-fived a nearby girl Elite and proceeded to turn the music up to the max.
"Aw man." Bartie sighed as him and every other boy slumped in defeat. They all then shared a cringe when the music just got louder, and Numbuh 35 found himself getting a headache. Bartie spared a hopeful look to the clock, and his angst only built when he saw they still had a little over an hour before they could go home. But hour or not, he was NOT listening to this girly crud.
"Numbuh 362," Bartie whined to the blonde over at her podium. "Numbuh 86 played dirty!"
Rachel's pen halted its rapid movement and she looked up from her clipboard when she realized she had been addressed by someone. The blonde girl blinked as she turned to the station behind her, and found herself frowning a bit as the music fluttered into her ears. Truth be told, she had been far too engrossed in her work to notice the music before. But now that the annoying Rainbow Monkey holiday tune was in her head, it was difficult to get out. Rolling her eyes, Rachel hopped off from her stand, and strolled over to the player.
Fanny was mindlessly grinning and humming along with the tune, as was every other female in the area. But right when it was reaching the best part, they all froze when they realized someone had turned the volume to a mere whisper. Enraged, the redhead turned to chew out the boy who dared to tamper with her music, only to freeze when she saw Rachel staring at her mildly.
"Numbuh 86," Rachel started as her hands strayed away from the player. She arched a thin brow and looked down at the girl with a light scolding expression. "Either turn it off, or turn it down and put on something everyone can listen to."
"Aye." Fanny moaned as she flicked with the system. After a moment, the never ending chorus of 'Rainbow Christmas' ended, and was soon replaced with a much more softer 'Silent Night' instead. The redhead leaned into her seat, crossing her arms with a disappointed huff. "Ya just did it cause ye don't like rainbow monkeys."
Rachel ignored the girl's comment as she returned to tending to the inspection papers within her hold. "It won't be that much longer guys."
The current date was December 24th on the global KND calendar, and the Moonbase was emptying itself rather quickly as every kid began to rush home to spend the evening with their families. The ultimate holiday for children was upon them, and everyone was getting excited about it. It was only a few hours away before judgment came and they would either be rewarded for being nice, or punished for acting naughty all year 'round. For operatives of the Kids Next Door, this day marked not only the start of Christmas, but the start of their break from duty until the New Year. But most of them were more concerned about what would be under their tree tomorrow. Yes, the prospect of candy, hot chocolate, and presents was more pressing on their minds at the moment.
Most of the lunar base was already cleared out seeing as many kids lived in different time-zones. Save for a select few, and those who didn't celebrate the coming holidays, the moon treehouse was almost deathly quiet. It was a tad ironic.
Up in the large loft where Global Command was usually stationed, the remaining waiting kids sat around while the Supreme Leader did her paperwork thing like every year. Fanny was surrounded by a few girl Elites chatting about the newest rainbow monkey. Dave was discussing Yipper trading card strategies with a small group of science nerds. And Bartie was the last communications officer still trapped there due to cashing in his all his off time earlier in the year.
"This is killing me." Bartie moaned once more as he slouched in his seat. He had so many plans for tonight that it wasn't even funny. His big sister was coming home from college and like every year, she, himself, and their dad would order the biggest, bestest pizza in the entire town and flock around the television watching old specials. His mouth watered at the thought, and it felt as if the wait was stretching on much longer. The boy flicked a look to his Yipper watch again and sighed. "Casey's probably at the house by now…"
From her position, Rachel picked up on Numbuh 35's silent sentence. She looked up from her clipboard and paused to take in the children seated at the station. The music wasn't doing anything for their bored expressions, and the blonde frowned sadly as she glanced at her watch. It was still a good hour before they were permitted to go home. But after a few seconds, she shook her head. Just because she had to spend Christmas here didn't mean they had to.
"Okay, listen up everybody," Rachel spoke out, garnering immediate attention from the small group. A tiny smile played about her lips as she decided to release them from what she had dubbed a 'lunar holding pen'. "There's nothing left for you to do, so it really doesn't make sense to keep you here for another hour. You're all dismissed. Merry Christmas."
The children shared a collective blink as the news settled in. Not a second later, they let out a loud cheer as an array of papers, Yipper cards, and other items were tossed up in joy. Rachel only shook her head as she shut down the terminal at her podium. She re-clicked her pen out and intently focused on her clipboard as she walked down past the kids, getting too many 'thank you m'am' and 'you're the best' praises to count. As her eyes trailed down the list, she stopped at the section that mentioned the decommissioning bay.
"Numbuh 86," She called out without looking up. When she felt the redhead's eyes on her she continued. "Go make sure the decommissioning wing is locked up before you leave and…" She suddenly trailed off, and before Fanny could say anything, Rachel shook her head. "Nevermind, I'll take care of it. I'm not going anywhere."
Fanny looked skeptic as she zipped her coat. Rachel was already making herself too busy. "Are ye sure, m'am?"
"Yes." The blonde answered already near the door. "I'll stop by there before I head off to my office."
"Oh! Numbuh 362! I just remembered something!" Rachel paused and twisted her neck to look back at Bartie who just called out. "You got a message from Numbuh 1. He said they'd be up here with that mission report you wanted."
Rachel rose a brow at the mention of the bald boy. "When will he be here?"
"Hold on, he'll be here…" Bartie mumbled as he checked the message at his console before he left. He looked at Sector V's estimated time of arrival, then to his watch. But after he read the time, he looked to his commanding officer with a sheepish look. "…uh, he'll get here…twenty minutes ago. Heh heh."
"I see." Bartie scratched the back of his head in embarrassment as Rachel gave him a dry look. After a moment, the blonde simply sighed and turned to leave. "Merry Christmas, Numbuh 35."
Bartie could only watch in relief as Numbuh 362 disappeared behind the metal door. Whew, that was a close one. After wiping at his forehead, the child returned to packing his stuff so he could catch the next shuttle home. Triple cheese pizza, here he comes!
"Twenty minutes ago. Ha, that's a good one." Rachel grumbled aggravatingly as she walked down one of many halls. She flipped over to the next sheet on her clipboard, and groaned as she began reading over it. She knew that Numbuh 35 didn't mean any harm. Everyone makes slip ups. But it was just that she felt like she had the rest of her work planned out, and now she's getting a surprise/planned visit from Nigel that throws her out of sync. Not that she normally minded, but she was just frustrated at the moment.
Perhaps more then a bit frustrated, but it was no different from every other year since she became Supreme Leader.
The girl put thoughts like that aside. It was nothing she cared to look too deeply into. Besides, her mother said sometimes adults had to work through the holidays. Maybe it was a good thing she was getting used to it so early. But even so, she wanted to go home like everyone else was. She wanted to spend Christmas as her family came in from different corners of the country. She wanted to listen to her aunt's exaggerated stories. She wanted to lay giddily in bed awaiting for her presents to arrive. She wanted to celebrate the holiday like everyone else. Like a normal kid.
But she wasn't a normal kid, she wasn't even a normal Kids Next Door operative. She wasn't just some field agent or some intern, she was in charge of it all. She was at the lonely summit as Supreme Leader. She had to do all the stuff nobody wanted to do. Had to do the job nobody wanted to accept. She had to wade through mountains of paperwork to make sure everything was stable. Nothing would be functional if she didn't oversee it. Science nerds wanted to build some new anti-adult airship? If she didn't go over 2x4 inventory, then that couldn't be done. The Sector L studio wanted funding for some new kid soap opera production? If she didn't make sure the budget and treasury was in order then they could forget about it.
Rachel's eyelids dropped slightly as she became bored with the wording of the paper. She found it amusing that a 'kid' organization could come up with documents that sounded so much like adult business. It was all so dull. Her job was the definition of dull. She honestly had no idea what she was getting into when she accepted the position, but she would admit she expected it to be a bit more exciting. Numbuhs 100 and 274 made it look so glorified and glamorous.
'No one's made a trading card out of me.' She mused as her pen scribbled her name and codenumbuh down on the final line.
The blonde finally looked up from her clipboard when she entered the lobby. Rachel glanced over the couch by the window which was where Nigel preferred to occupy whenever he came up to the moonbase. Sadly, her hopes dimmed when she noticed the Brit wasn't on the green sofa. She then peered around the rest of the room and her mood continued to drop as she noticed the lack of that special blend of bald, crimson, and sunglasses. Not seeing any sign of Nigel, Rachel let out something of a disappointed sigh.
'Must have went home. I don't blame him.' Waiting around and being cooped up on the moonbase on Christmas Eve was something no operative wanted. Even herself. Rachel only glanced back down to her clipboard as she turned to head for her office. But she paused mid-step, and looked over her shoulder once more; trying to see if Nigel was hiding somewhere. Figuring that was a silly idea, she prepared to exit the lobby.
"Looking for someone?"
Rachel clenched her eyes shut, and forced herself not flinch in surprise before facing the smug British voice. "And here I thought I was the spy." The girl calmed herself before opening her eyes, seeing Nigel standing before her. A playful smirk and mission report going hand in hand with his character. "I must be slipping."
"I'm sure you were just preoccupied." Nigel said gesturing to her clipboard. Dropping into professional mode, the Brit's face went stoic as he passed a thin file into her hands. "Here's that report you wanted, commander. Turns out the Common Cold was just buying some eggnog for the adult's Christmas party, and not poison to ruin ours."
"That's one less thing to worry about then," Rachel commented as she took the file and tucked it under her shoulder. "I'm sorry you had to wait so long. Communications get lazy around this time of year, especially tonight."
"Understandable." Nigel agreed as he smiled. "But it's good to see you again, Rachel."
"Likewise." She responded, deciding to let his addressing her by first name while on duty slide. She read over another line of her document, and sighed as she prepared to walk off. "Would love to talk, but you've been kept up here long enough. I'm sure you have plans."
"Yeah, mom's fixing her shortcakes, and dad failed to convince dear old 'uncle' to drop by, thank Zero." Nigel chuckled. His mom was making her rare dessert, he had presents to look forward to tomorrow morn, and Father wouldn't be there to spoil his holiday. Everything was going to be perfect. "Gram-Gram managed to fly in from England this year, so I'm certainly looking forward to this evening."
"That's nice." Rachel lightly uttered before frowning a bit. She couldn't help it. Even the workaholic of the Kids Next Door spent his Christmas at home. She was happy Nigel would be enjoying himself, he deserved to take the time off. But still, she was a tad jealous due to her own situation. The blonde's lips quirked before turning for the door. "I won't keep you any longer. Have a nice holiday."
Nigel looked at the girl's retreating back with puzzlement. "Rachel," It took her a second to stop and face him, and he in turn just used his hand to motion behind him. "The hanger is that way."
She looked stumped for a moment, before catching on to what he was implying. "I'm too busy to go home right now, Numbuh 1."
"Oh come on Rachel," Seeing where this was going, Nigel quickly chased after the girl until he fell in step beside her. "It's the holidays and everyone else is going home. Cut yourself some slack."
"I would if could, but I can't." Rachel replied while multitasking between speaking with Nigel and looking over the final sheet on her clipboard. "There's too much leftover paperwork and other documents to look over. If our transition into the New Year is to be a smooth one, I'm going to have to clock in some holiday hours."
"That's not being fair to yourself." Nigel argued as he frowned. "Out of every operative I know, you've worked the hardest all year, nonstop. You deserve this time off more then anybody else."
"I really wish it worked that way, Nigel. But if I don't do this stuff, no one else will."
"But just because it doesn't get done tonight, or tomorrow doesn't mean everything is gonna go to heck in a Easter basket. The only one stressing out about all of it is you. You don't have to carry the whole world on your shoulders."
"Look who's talking." Rachel lightly jibbed before shaking it off. "I'm sorry, Nigel. I know you mean well, I really do."
"I just worry about you, Rachel." Nigel confided as he looked towards the blonde. Her short golden locks bounced with every new step she took, and her chocolate pupils shone with concentration as she focused on the sheet in front of her. "You're a kid too. I would hate for you to miss out on so much of your childhood."
"That's just it. I gave up the opportunity to be a normal kid when I got this job." She muttered, finding a bit of spite for the title of Supreme Leader. "It demands almost everything and no one wants to lend a helping hand. I'm all by myself on this."
Nigel's lips tightened as she went on. His look strayed to the floor ahead, watching the tiles pass by under him without care. After a minute or two of silence, the boy glanced back to Rachel with a soft look that went unnoticed as she continued scribbling away. "You know you have me."
"I know." Rachel responded mindlessly as she became more absorbed in the paper. Someone was requesting fifteen gallons of caramel and mustard each for some project, yet it never said who the someone was. How was she supposed to figure that out? She could be filling out a request form from the Splinter Cell for all she knew. "It's alright Nigel, I'm used to pulling all-nighters alone up here."
The bald boy looked off to the side. Glancing out the window as he mustered up courage for his next line. "But I don't want you to be alone…"
'Wait, is this the same kid who invented the 'Blow Up the Engines' button?' Rachel wondered as she noticed the name somewhere in between the lines. If that guy wanted all that caramel and mustard then it couldn't possibly bode well for the rest of them. Suddenly, she was sure heard Nigel's voice and looked over at him. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"
"Nothing." Nigel sighed. He looked over to her to see that she was already back to her paper again. Apparently she was dead serious on this matter, and nothing he could say would sway her otherwise. She was going to trapped all alone up here for the holidays with no one at her side. But then his eyes widened as he got an idea. He hesitated for a moment, debating if he really wanted to do this. He was really anticipating his Christmas this year. He then shifted his gaze back to her, taking in her form once more. Then he then knew without a doubt he was fully committed about going along with his plan.
"What if I stayed to help?" Nigel offered as he motioned his hand about. "Two heads are better then one, and things could get finished up faster so you'll still have the chance to get home." He then smiled warmly as he waited on baited breath for her answer. "And even still, at least you won't be all by yourself for Christmas."
Rachel was still to deeply immersed within her paperwork to fully register the extent of the boy's offer. Once she was able to think a bit on something other then the document, she waved off the boy motioning him to leave. "That's quite alright Nigel, but this is my duty to deal with. Not yours."
"Oh." Was all Nigel managed to get out. He was expecting her to disagree and come up with some excuse. Something along the lines of 'not wanting to ruin his evening as well'. If that had been the case, then he had a planned response to it. But the bluntness of her statement took him by storm. So much that he actually found himself stopping while she continued onward. "Are you sure?" Seeing her walk away brought forth a depressing feeling within his chest.
"I'll be fine." Rachel nodded as she prepared to turn into the service elevator. Her eyes strayed upward a bit, feeling a strong urge to glance back at Nigel and see him off. She had a smile ready to go as she rose her head to look back, but then she caught sight of yet another surprise hitch in the paper and snorted as her attention was fully drawn to the sheet once more. "Merry Christmas, Nigel."
"Merry Christmas, Rachel." Nigel repeated a bit more somberly. His eyes stayed focused on the blonde girl until the doors of the elevator concealed her and took her up to the peak of the base. The Brit glanced up, adjusting his sunglasses a bit. Despite his best efforts, his mind never stopped clouding with thoughts of the girl. He cared a great deal about her, and it struck him that she rejected him in a way. But he knew she didn't mean it like that. She just thought she was doing what was best for everyone.
That upset him. She always worried so much about others that she never thought about herself or what she wanted. Just kept denying her personal happiness out of sense of duty.
"I wish you would let yourself be happy, Rachel." Nigel mumbled to himself as he shook his head. After sparing the elevator one last look, he turned to make his way back to the hanger before his team began to worry. And as his thoughts drifted to Rachel once again, he sent a silent prayer and wishing her the best.
"That's it. Were you paying attention?"
"Oh yes sir. Got it all up here."
"Good, good. You understand your assignment?"
"Uh huh. I'm after the boy, right?"
"…No. The girl. Rachel T. McKenzie."
"Y-Yeah I knew that. I was just joshing with ya sir. Heh heh."
"Let's hope you take this more seriously. Do you have any further questions?"
"Actually, what does the 'T' stand for?"
"Will the information assist you in your assignment?"
"I…gee, I guess not sir."
"Then you know what you have to do."
"One more thing sir. Um, if I do well on this, then can I maybe get my…you know…"
"Hmm, well I'm not certain if –"
"Ha ha ha. We shall see m'boy. We shall see."
"So he's NOT the same person who invented the 'Blow up the engines' button?" Rachel inquired over the line. She was seated at her desk going over various forms of documents when she finally decided to get the drop on the strange request order she needed to fill out. After a quick conformation from the kid on the other line, the blonde nodded to herself while writing out her signature.
"Okay, thank you. Tell Numbuh 89 he'll be getting his shipment the first week of January. Merry Christmas." She then paused, and sighed when the other kid began fussing. "My apologies. Happy Hanukkah." She hung up her super cool phone thing she didn't bother to remember the name of and grumbled as she filed the order from in her out box. "It should always be Happy Holidays. Way to go, Rachel."
With that task done, the girl quickly shifted to the next order of business. Which meant spending her Christmas Eve slaving away over some towering mountains of paperwork like some secretary. Only difference was they got time off. But there was nothing she could do about it, so she preformed like some robot drone and went about reading and writing; mentally nagging about her duty all the while.
"Let's see, they're trying to get me to ban baths again. Denied." She mumbled as she glanced over the title. "A possible Teenz Treaty? Worth looking into. We need three dozen flashlights for the new S.C.A.M.P.P's. Maintenance needs to inspect decommissioning chambers five and twelve…decommissioning." She trailed off as her brows knitted together. Suddenly, she growled. "Darn it! I forgot to lock up decommissioning!"
Rachel grumbled as she adjusted her attention to her personal terminal. Locking the decommissioning center up remotely from her office would save her the walk. "Computer, access moonbase security measures."
"Remote access to security protocol has been temporarily suspended due to system check. Manual input is required."
"What?" Rachel stared ridiculously at computer as if it were human. It was denying her access? "Who the heck authorized a systems check?"
"Operative Three Sixty-Two."
Despite the monotone voice, Rachel couldn't help but feel like the stupid thing sounded smug. The blonde grit her teeth. She didn't order a system check! She…wait. Oh. It was all coming back to her. Numbuh 71.899 talking to her about rebooting the security program. She gave him the go to do it, but she was busy doing inspection at the time so it slipped her mind.
In short, she had just locked herself out of security from her own office for the time being.
"This is just fantastic." Rachel graveled out as she slumped in her seat, her look darkening as her mini rant went on. "Now I have to go all the way down to security, then activate the lock down over in the decommissioning wing. Run all the way back up here and waste whatever's left of my night signing a bunch of stupid papers!" She exclaimed by slamming her fist down on her desk with heated agitation.
The shaking of her desk caused all sorts of items to tremble. Unsigned documents fluttered about unevenly, pencil holders tripped over sending markers and pens everywhere, and even her coco moo shook and spilt small drips of the milk everywhere. The blonde only became more unnerved, but flinched when she heard a metal clang. Surprised, she looked over the side of her desk to find something she didn't even know was there. There on the floor was a sliver cookie tin. One she must have knocked over. Curious, Rachel bent over picked it up into her hands, inspecting it. She didn't put this here. Really. However, she stopped once she noticed a tiny post-it note attached to the tin. Without a second thought she peeled it off and held it to her face.
Hey sis. Grandma came over and brought some of her Christmas cookies. Managed to save you a few and left them on your desk since you're probably going to be hanging around the Moonbase extra long tonight being bored. And yeah, I've got you covered 'cause I'm just that awesome. Merry Christmas,
Once she had finished her brother's note, Rachel could only gaze at it and the cookie tin with a woeful stare. Harvey had been thoughtful enough to bring some cookies up for her to enjoy. But it didn't help her mood. It only reminded her of the fact she was stuck up here and her family was back on Earth. Having a jolly evening and she wishing she could be there.
The girl now found herself not craving any sweet treats at the moment, but her brother's effort should not go to waste. Opening the tin, she was greeted by the sweet scent the cookies gave off. Freshly baked and covered with various patterns. Reindeers, Santa Claus, snowmen, you name it. Plucking up a few, she set them aside and placed the tin itself on a more secure corner of her desk. With that done, she reached into her pocket and produced a small plastic bag. Once the cookies were in the bag, she tucked it into the pouch of her tiger-striped sweater. There, she had something for a cookie break later. That was worth looking forward to at least.
"Huh, right." She scoffed a bit as she sunk into her seat. She tilted her head forwards a bit, and frowned as her helmet drifted over her bangs pushing them into her eyes; as if reminding her of her position and place. Her hands strayed to her headgear and she held it to her face to stare at the emblem baring her number. Rachel growled lightly as she saw her reflection the the metal's glint. "This is unfair! I have to do everything and I don't get squat in return." She humphed as she laid the helmet off to the side, running a hand through her now free tresses. "I'm starting to wonder if any of this is worth it."
Deciding being moody wasn't going to solve anything, Rachel took a calming breath before tiding up the small mess she had created. After re-stacking the documents and grabbing a new pen, her fingers plucked the budget from the pile and set out to go over that next. But before she could make a single ink stroke, there was a light knocking catching her attention. She looked around puzzled before tracing the noise. It was coming from her door. She narrowed her eyes as she glanced at the clock. It was late and everyone should be home by now. Sure there were a few operatives who didn't partake in the festivities, but they stayed in the lower decks having their own get-together and they knew she didn't like to be bothered.
"I'm quite busy at the moment. Come back some other time." Rachel waited a brief moment to see if the unknown visitor would lose interest and go away, but the knocking never stopped. It even picked up in pace a bit as time dragged on. Her pupils snapped to a hidden compartment of her desk, assuring herself her emergency weapon was there. Feeling secure, Rachel cleared her throat and prepared for whomever entered. "Fine, come in."
She never once tore her gaze away as the metal doors hissed open, and as the person came in, her expression became more cautious. Into her office stepped a boy she had never seen before. A somewhat sharply dressed boy wearing a stark black tuxedo outfit. He walked stiffly into the light, seeming constricted by his dress pants, and his glistening shoes made loud clacks with every step. The boy didn't appear pleased with his attire seeing as he was fighting with the blue bow tie clutching around his neck. He just kept pacing forward until he stopped right in front of her desk, but still paid her no mind. Getting the tie off his neck was more important to him at the moment.
Rachel arched a brow at the strange boy, the only thing normal about him so far being his behavior. Because honestly, what kid in their right mind would actually like wearing some sort of tie? Since he was obviously distracted, she used the opportunity to study his face. His lips wrinkled as he fiddled with his tie, and his violet pupils sparked with a mixture of concentration and annoyance. She studied his face, his combed back hair, but she still couldn't recognize him. She couldn't claim to know every single operative of the organization, but she at least had some idea on who the most of them were. But this kid…he seemed different. She just couldn't put a finger on it.
The blonde drummed her fingers against her desk in a rapt manner, getting impatient with the boy in front of her. When she heard him grumble, she coughed lightly to switch his utter focus to her. "Can I help you?"
"Wha?" The boy snapped his head up, hands frozen around his tie. He blinked and looked down at Rachel, before quickly lowering his arms and smiling. "Oh hey, nice to meet ya!"
"…Hello to you too." She spoke carefully. He seemed polite enough, but she still didn't know him and his attitude could always be some sort of ruse. She didn't recognize his voice either. "I don't think I've seen you before. Who are you?"
The kid grinned before offering his hand out. "Name's Henry." He opened his eyes and looked down to see Rachel giving him a questionable stare. Nervously chuckling, he reeled his hand back in when she never shook it. "Um, something wrong?"
"When I asked who you were, I was asking for your codenumbuh."
"My…codenumbuh?" The boy asked a bit conflicted. His eyes shifted a bit as he thought out his next move. Well, honestly he was going to come out and tell her who he was. But according to what he knew about her, she wasn't really in a cheerful mood at the moment and would probably try and boot him out. Maybe not the best idea just yet. He needed to at least talk to her. "Oh! You mean my codenumbuh. Heh heh."
"Yes," Rachel frowned a bit. "Let's have it."
"Sure! I'm Numbuh…Numbuh…" He paused for a brief second to think it over and said the first thing that came to mind. "I'm Numbuh 19." He stated proudly, but when Rachel began to glare at him, he sweated. " I-I'm Numbuh 19…forty, uh, six?"
"So you're saying you're Numbuh 1946?" Rachel questioned seriously, her expression on alert now. Without saying another word she turned to her terminal and typed with amazing speed. Once done a screen popped up with a list of all active operatives. She trailed down the list and let an amused look come about. "You sure? Because it says here there is no operative with the codenumbuh nineteen forty-six." She glared at the boy now ready for anything. "Care to explain that?"
"Uh…I…" Well darn, that certainly backfired on him. He should of just told her. Now what was he going to do? He gazed around the room anxiously, wondering how to get out of this mess, but then his eyes widened as he froze. Then Rachel could only become confused as he smugly grinned and motioned to her screen again. "Are you sure? It's right there."
Rachel rolled her eyes as she turned to the screen again. "I'm not stupid, I know what I…Huh?" She blinked several times as he stared at the screen, mildly shocked. There was an agent listed as Numbuh 1946. She didn't know what to think. She swore that wasn't there a second ago. "…Actually, you are on here. It says you're the new moonbase janitor."
"Janitor! Aw, I wanted to be something cool like a –" Henry stopped mid sentence before he could go any further. After a second he huffed and stared up towards the sky with a ruffled glare. "I mean, yeah. That's me. The janitor."
Rachel was too into the screen to notice any of his comments. Finally, she held her head and turned to Henry and surmised she owed him an apology. "I'm sorry about that. This stupid job is making me slowly lose my mind." The girl straightened her hair out before looking at his outfit once more. "Don't you think you look a bit too…spiffed up for a janitor?"
"Don't look at me! My mom did this. Wanted me to look my best and stuff." He whined as he crossed his arms and pouted.
"Right." Was all Rachel said. Sparing a glance down to her untouched paperwork, she sighed as she figured she had wasted enough valuable time already. "Well since I'm clearly still in here, just skip it. I'll clean up whenever I'm finished. Besides, shouldn't you be home?"
"I'm still on the clock." Henry replied as he regarded the girl. Deciding it was time to get serious, he looked around him until he pulled up a chair. After staring at her for a minute, he smirked as he relaxed in his seat. "And I could ask you the same thing."
"Really? Come on, it's the holidays! Christmas Eve and all that good junk. You get to eat all those sweet goodies, sing those carols about peace on Earth, and spend time with loved ones around the warm fire." He exclaimed as he motioned his hands about. "I thought this was to supposed to be the ultimate kid holiday on the calendar. Everyone else is at home, why aren't you?"
"Because I have work to do." Rachel muttered out as her pencil scribbled. "I fill out the proper forms and handle all the dull boring business type stuff no other kid wants to be caught dead doing."
"But you're missing out on tons of stuff every other kid dreams of doing. Like presents, sappy specials, building a snowman, drinking hot chocolate. Oh, and you can't forget about the cookies! Those are the…" Henry paused while counting off his fingers. His nose inhaled a deliciously sweet aroma that he could not ignore. He turned his head to the side, and spotted the source of the smell. His eyes increased in size as he saw the cookie tin, and he wet his lips as he tried to form a coherent sentence. "Hey…are those Christmas cookies."
"Yeah." Rachel answered without looking up. She paused for a moment, and peeked to see the boy staring at the tin longingly. She was about to say something, but grimaced as she read over the numbers on her paper. "Knock yourself out." After seeing how much they spent on candy in October, she wasn't feeling so hungry anymore. Besides, she had a few tucked in her pouch if she ever wanted any.
"SWEET!" Faster then a blink, the tin was suddenly within Henry's hold. He popped the lid off and grinned like he was in a toy store during an everything is free sale. Eager to indulge in the baked delights before him, he took one whole cookie and crammed it within his mouth. "Mmese mmph mreat!" He praised despite his mouth being filled to the brim. After he swallowed, he let out a pleased breath before remembering what he was doing. "Okay now, what was I talking about?"
"Telling me how much I was missing I believe." Rachel guided. The girl thought on the boy's words and let loose a wistful sigh. "It's not like I don't want to do all those things, but this is more important. Something I have to do. I'm the Supreme Leader, in case you've forgotten." She then returned to work as usual, hoping that would be the end of it. She was getting sick of having to tell everyone the same thing repeatedly.
"That's right." Henry agreed. "And since you're Supreme Leader, that means you can dictate some time to take off for yourself, right?"
"It's not that simple." Rachel frowned, the pressure of her pen increasing a bit. "I have to deal with all of this. I'm not going to clock out only to return to chaos because I didn't finish or set up something, or just have some disaster spring up the moment I'm within a shuttle then waste fuel and turn around. This whole thing would fall apart if I don't commit every part of my sole being into it."
Henry raised a brow as he took a bite into another cookie. "So the Kids Next Door would crumble into madness without you?" Rachel only gave him a stiff nod and he developed a hidden smirk at her answer. That information might be useful. "Wow, sounds like you have some job then."
"You have no idea." Rachel utter silently as she stopped writing for a moment. Her eyes drifted close and she attempted to gather some inner peace. "And sometimes…I wonder if I do. I never expected all this." She admitted as her hands slowly swung over her desk piled with files and other assortments.
"That sounds like regret," Henry spoke up as he plucked another cookie. He trailed it under his nose, teasing himself with the smell before eating it. "If it is, then I think it's weird."
"You think it's weird to have some regrets?"
"No. It's just that a Supreme Leader regretting their own position? That doesn't seem like a good trait to have." The boy shrugged. "Numbuh Zero didn't have any regrets. Two to the Second Power, One Hundred, all those guys and girls seemed confident." He really didn't know if what he was talking about was true, but anything to get a response out of the blonde. So far he wasn't getting anywhere. "Heck, didn't that Chad guy want to stay?"
"You're questioning me because I have some doubts?" Rachel snarled out, enraged by the kid's snide insinuations. "What do you know? You're not stuck up here almost every waking hour. You still get to have something of a normal childhood. I don't! I have to sit here in this stupid office playing corporate head with little to know help at all!"
Henry only looked skeptic. "No one's offered to help? Stay behind so you wouldn't have to do it on your own?"
Rachel just rolled her eyes as she flopped back down. This guy was grating her nerves. "Does it look like someone offered to stay?"
The boy just ate another cookie. "Just thought someone would."
"I think I would know if someone offered to help or not." After a bit more grumbling she lowered her head into her arms. She knew she had paperwork she could be doing. Knew it was all important. But she couldn't bring herself to right now. She was felt more downtrodden then she did back during the I.T. situation. She wasn't questioning her ability to lead, she was questioning everything she was being denied because she had to lead. She didn't get to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Didn't get to play around and dress up dolls. She didn't to fully be a kid because of her demanding duty. Didn't get to because as said before,
She was Supreme Leader.
"Why me?" She mumbled into the folds of her sweater. She slowly lifted herself up only to lean on the back of her chair for support. Her head fell back, her golden locks dangling over the back. She bored into the ceiling, and closed her eyes in contemplation. "Sometimes I wish I never got this job."
"Don't say that. You've got all this…" Whatever Henry had planned on saying never left his tongue as his mind began to fester.
Having never been Supreme Leader.
His thoughts wandered, and his grin grew as he nurtured the forming idea more and more. This…this could work. He would probably get in trouble for doing it, but it would get the job done perfectly. Henry chuckled to himself as he set the tin aside, standing up while rubbing his hands together madly. Yes, this plan would be great! It worked with that other guy.
Besides, why tell her when he could show her?
"Hey Rachel," Henry smirked as he leaned against her desk for support. "I think I got the answer to all your problems."
The blonde perked up, suddenly wary of the boy once again. "How do you know my name?"
"I get around." Henry smiled as he backed off. "But hear me out. I've got this idea. It helps me out, and helps you out. Makes everybody happy!"
"What are you talking about?"
"We're getting there, but I have to be sure." He poked around his left ear a bit before bending over. "I got this bad ear, so I need to make sure I heard right. You just said you wished you never got this job, correct?"
Having her own words thrown back at her caused her to shift uncomfortably. "Well, not exa –"
"Am I right, or am I right?"
She stuttered, but then huffed and figured lying wouldn't help. "Yeah, guess I did."
"You said that?"
"That you never got this job?"
"Yes." This time a bit more forcefully.
"Never became Supreme Leader?"
"You sure about –"
"YES!" Rachel snapped, taking Henry by storm. The sharply dressed boy took a step back as the blonde heaved with anger in front of him. "I said I wish I never got this stupid job! I wish I could a kid like the ones I'm forced to look after! I wish I had my time back! I wish I never became Supreme Leader at all! Are you happy now?"
It took a moment for Henry to regain his bearings. Once settled, the kid held a small smirk as he fiddled with his annoying tie once more. "Yep, and you will be to." He then crossed his arm and tipped his head forward, his violet pupils appearing to glow within the light. Rachel felt a bit odd. Like the two orbs staring at her held some far greater meaning she was failing to comprehend. "Because you, Rachel T. McKenzie, have just gotten your wish."
Any suspicion or danger she estimated the boy to pose immediately dropped as she blinked at him absurdly. "Excuse me?"
"It's just like I said." Henry shrugged as he began to circle around her desk. "Your desires have been acknowledged. Your wants stated. Your wish has been granted. See where I'm going with this? From this moment on, you're not the Supreme Leader. You're not apart of Global Command. You're just Numbuh 362 now."
Rachel was silent for a while after that. It was hard to gauge the emotion she was currently experiencing, for her face was just dead blank as stared at Henry. She didn't know how she should feel about this, about what the boy was claiming to have done. Should she be amused? It was a tad bit entertaining he was being so serious about this. Yes, she should probably feel amused and giggle. But no, he was expecting that. Expecting her to laugh so it would cement the joke. Well she wasn't going to laugh. Nope. She was going to frown and be ticked off about it. He would never see that coming.
"Hardy har har. Very funny." Rachel snipped out as her brows met. "If you're done having your fun, then please escort yourself out the door so I can get back to work."
"What work?" Henry ventured as he stopped back in front of her. "You don't have anything to do here. No paperwork or anything like that. You get to go home."
"Zero, you're worse then Numbuh 2." Rachel grumbled as she palmed her face. "Look, I'm not in the mood for this. Now for the last time, leave before I end up having you cleaning out toilets in the Deep Sea Lab."
"Geez, you try and please people and this is what you get." Henry mumbled indignantly. "Why are you mortals so hardheaded?"
"Oh. I'm a mortal now?" Rachel replied with her nose wrinkling. Patton had something to do with this lame joke. She just knew it. "What the heck are you supposed be then? A pixie?"
"Hah. Good one." Henry mumbled forlornly before shaping up. Now that all the cards were on the table, it was no point in keeping up fake appearances anymore. "I'm not some girly fairy thing! I'm your guardian angel." He had the decent to puff out his chest proudly as he tried to regain some dignity. "You seem to having difficulties lately, so I've been sent down to offer some…guidance. Get it?"
Rachel's eyes glinted dangerously as she glared at the so called 'angel'. But then, her anger dampened as her lids lowered. A wry smirk graced her lips as her finger rose up. "So you're an angel? My guardian angel?"
"More or less."
"Uh huh. And you've just made it so where I'm NOT Supreme Leader? Am I getting this right?"
"…You…still don't believe me. Do you?"
"Oh no no noo. I believe completely you." Rachel mockingly waved off as she turned to sit back down.
"Your tone says otherwise."
"Oh you know me. I mean you should, right?" Rachel lightly chuckled before sorting out papers again, preparing to move on to inventory. "Well since you're my guardian angel, could you be so kind and go guard the door? From the outside. After you've locked it behind you." Her voice lowered as she went on, and soon, its humors tint had faded away to irritation.
"Fine. Don't say I didn't warn ya." Henry twisted around to pick up the cookie tin. His eyes traveled from it, to Rachel and his look became torn. "Uh, can I take these?"
"If it'll get you out of my office, go nuts!"
"Thanks! I'll save you one, promise!" He clasped the lid on it's place and turned to leave the room. "Well, I'm gonna get outta these clothes. They're starting to itch like crazy. And for the record, this isn't YOUR office anymore."
"Of course it's not." Rachel mumbled as she searched for a pen. "While you're out, go to the sun and pick up some cheesecake from Frosty the Snowman for me. That would really hit the spot."
Henry only chuckled to himself as he strutted out of the door. Before going, he spared Rachel a look out the corner of his eye. "Word to the wise, the Supreme Leader doesn't like people in his office without permission."
Rachel's brow twitched as the door inched shut, Henry's smug look never faltering in the slightest. When all she could see was metal, she scoffed. "Idiot." She palmed a document to straighten it out, then neatly laid it out in front of her. She looked down ready to start writing but froze when she noticed something odd. This sheet looked familiar. In fact, she was dead certain she had already filled it out. But every line was blank, hadn't been touched. Almost as if she…
No. She would not buy into this childish prank.