Year 2 – Remembrance
Lizzie was a hard girl to locate, not because of how elusive her presence were, but how busy the girl seemed to be. When one TND agent told him of her whereabouts in one venue, Lizzie would have already split onto the next one as soon as they arrived. When they eventually managed to find her, if there was any shred of her childhood left the last time he saw her, it was long gone. She was as adept to her schooling as the next adult was with having an actual job.
Maybe something of Nigel Uno had finally rubbed off on her. There was that glimmer of dedication that she used to resent according to Chad's preliminary reports. Now, she ran with this ability, using it to her own advantage long after Uno's ascent.
"Busy girl." Rachel commented what all of them were thinking, watching Lizzie run around with teacher's notes and paperwork to and from classrooms. She knew that the girl was a teacher's aide… no, faculty aide. Apparently she got promoted four times in one semester. Now that was dedication.
Abby, being an new TND operative on her first mission, walked them down Hendry's hallways. The lockers were normal looking, a stark contrast to the embellishments back in McClintock. "Oh yeah. That girl's a teacher's pet. Principal's pet. You got your work cut out for you, McKenzie." But Chad could detect a brightness in the younger girl's eyes. It didn't take a genius to see that she was absolutely ecstatic to be reintroduced to Rachel, her former Supreme Leader.
Rachel was nevertheless oblivious to this transparent thread that bound them all together. Once upon a time, they were all united under one banner. It was maddening how ridiculous it was.
Sometimes in his weaker moments, he wondered what life would have been like had Infinity not recruited him. Would he be the same person after decommissioning? Maybe he'll never know.
"But why?" Rachel's attention had been entirely on Abby, treating Chad like he was nothing more than a stage prop following him. He didn't exactly earn points after their fallout in the diner and, quite frankly, he didn't blame her. That was what he wanted after all.
He played disinterest and walked behind the small group, always there and not there. Sometimes Rachel would turn her head as if to speak with him, only to pause and turn back around, realizing her mistake. That annoyed him more than it should.
Abby made a face and feigned innocence. "I dunno. She seemed always like that. As long as I knew her, anyways." But Numbuh 5 knew better than she let on. Lizzie was student aide when Nigel was around, always taking the heat when he begged to listen in on the scheming principal back in Gallagher. The end of that relationship had really stung Nigel until his ascent and, quite frankly, Abby felt just as bad when it happened. Sure Lizzie was a pain in the butt, but Nigel really cared about her. She really didn't deserve being tossed into KND business when she simply sought a normal relationship with Numbuh 1.
And there she was, stronger than ever, and depended on by the faculty. The girl had slimmed down a bit once her preteen years began to kick in, Chad had to admit. Puberty used that weight to its advantage by distributing it a bit more evenly now that she had gained some height. But things, while they always changed, didn't stop her from keeping those pigtails or the glasses.
Chad wasn't even remotely interested in the girl, only in a curious, guilty sense. His reports detailed Lizzie Devine as something of an aggressor, an enemy of the KND in the sense that she tried to distract her boyfriend from his duties. Innocent enough, but unfortunate for a candidate. Back then she had to go.
"Lizzie's something of a guilty pleasure for the guys," Abby snickered, waving their target over. "Sure she don't look like a supermodel, but she's got mettle."
"Mettle?" Rachel asked in confusion. And here she thought all teenage boys were pigs, with the exception of Patton, of course. If Lizzie was so popular with boys, what was her secret if it wasn't her looks? Not that she was bad-looking, of course. She wasn't Suzie the Snotty, no way.
When she approached their group, Chad voluntarily took a step back. He was aware of the girl's mood swings and worse, she's recognized him before during the botched football debacle that was supposed to attack Moonbase years ago. Well, he hoped she didn't.
Lizzie ran a critical eye on the three of them before her expression lit up, sugary sweet. "Oh, hello! We don't get much people from McClintock! My name's Lizzie!"
"Hi there," Rachel smiled back. "I'm Rachel McKenzie and this is Chad Dickson." Chad really wished she hadn't introduced him. Lizzie's features began to pinch with uncertainty when she took a good look at him.
"You look awfully familiar… actually, both of you look familiar." Lizzie frowned, eying both her and bodyguard. Rachel was confused. She had never met Lizzie before. But Chad knew. He knew everything.
Eventually she just shook her head and straightened her glasses. "Well, whatever. I dunno what you're doing here at Hendry, but if it's about booking the basketball courts, you're gonna have to talk with Adrian down in the gym-"
Rachel waved her hands politely. "No, no. We're not hear about that. This is more of a… delicate matter. Politics." That made Lizzie scoff.
"Ugh, don't get me started on politics! I never liked the student council and really, they can't even get a simple dance ready without someone like me to organize it. All they do is brag and laze around!"
"R-right," Rachel stammered, realizing that she may have to change tact for someone as wildly on a tangent as Lizzie. "Well, what would you say if I told you that your contribution is imperative to the well being of McClintock's student body?"
That seemed to be the wrong thing to say as well. Lizzie's demeanor had changed for the worse, bordering on angered suspicion. Chad took another step back. "And just why is it riding on me?"
More familiar with Lizzie's quirks, Abby stepped in to save the day. "Girl, we're going to the 9th grade next year. Rachel's trying to make things easier for us when we get there. Just go out with one boy at the Valentine's dance and we'll be squared away-"
"Oh no!" Lizzie poked Abby hard. "I am NOT dealing with your Kids Next Door crud anymore! I know exactly what this is and I'm done with it! You guys have caused me nothing but trouble back in Gallagher and I won't do it anymore!"
Rachel frowned. "Kids Next Door?" That rowdy gang of kids that made people's lives miserable? A weird inkling ran up the back of her neck at the words, almost like a soft puff of air. Half wondering if it was Chad, she turned to finally look at him properly for the first time in days, only to find him two giant steps behind and looking at Lizzie with something akin to discomfort.
They locked eyes and, realizing what she was doing, she turned back around again, missing the flinch in his eyes completely.
Was Abby a part of the Kids Next Door? Rachel's gaze to her was questioning. But, like Chad, Abby assumed puzzlement, playing the role of a decommissioned teen.
"What the heck are you talking about, Lizzie? Kids Next what? You jokin', girl!" Abby laughed, patting the red head on the shoulder. Chad's expression darkened as Lizzie began spilling all sorts of secrets. Like Abby being a part of Sector V and getting into all sorts of trouble.
"Stop pretending like you don't know!" Lizzie growled, pulling Abby up with surprising strength. "I know something happened! Like Nigel! He just dropped off the face of the earth! I know it had something to do with the Kids Next Door!"
But Abby continued to laugh nervously, trying to placate the hot-tempered preteen. "You crazy! C'mon, Lizzie! This is for the good of McClintock! Just imagine the history you're gonna make if you help us out!"
Folding her arms, Rachel was worried as Abby tried to convince the girl, that this was a futile effort. And something seemed vaguely familiar when Lizzie mentioned a boy named Nigel. She was sure she had heard the name before. Just not where. The way her brow furrowed and her bottom lip was starting to worry between her teeth, Chad recognized that expression. She was seeing something she had forgotten, desperately trying to put the pieces together without even knowing what the puzzle looked like in the first place.
His eyes flashed with Abby's in warning and, much to Rachel's mimed protests, pulled Lizzie away from the group and took her aside. He was going to have none of this.
"Listen, I've got a football game coming up," He put on his best charming smile which predictably made the girl melt. "Spend time with Vargas, see how he holds up."
Lizzie squealed with excitement. "You mean an actual high school football game?! But only high schoolers are allowed to go!" She squealed again when he pulled out tickets from his back pocket.
"We make an exception for future students. Future great students," He laid on the charm, coaxing Nigel's former girlfriend to take them. "You can use Friday off, I bet. All that paperwork and running around for the faculty doesn't do wonders for that pretty complexion."
She blushed and raised her shoulders, content with all the compliments. "Well… I suppose I could use a break… and it'll be a great place for networking!" Without a beat, she grabbed the tickets. "Alright! But if I don't like the guy, I don't have to do anything, okay?!"
"Fair enough," He easily shrugged, and led her back to the group. Rachel narrowed her eyes at him with suspicion before being taken in hand by a completely changed Lizzie, excitingly talking about some kind of football game coming up. So that was his angle.
All that was on Chad's mind was that Lizzie might need to be silenced. Permanently.
Linda was Chad's fourth girlfriend this year and, like every other girl, he was ordered to draw her into his arms with a few charming words and a smile that was never quite there. After she trumped Roxy during the Teen Ninja Battle Royale Tournament a few months back, Maurice had expressed an interest for him to watch her carefully. And being the new appointed leader of the TND sect, Chad had no choice but to follow Maurice's first orders.
But it was fine. Most of his girlfriends were of more to be used for KND purposes than any personal attachment. He could whisper sweet nothings and accept their affections, but they'll do nothing to warm his own heart. So when Maurice ordered him to jump ship with her, he had no qualms about dumping his last girl. Unfortunately, it soon gave way of his reputation being a 'player' or a heart breaker, which made it a bit difficult to bring Linda up to speed, but it added the mystery of his undercover persona.
Linda was one of those types where she was positive she could reignite his passion and fix him. She was similar to Rachel in attitude, but he had a sinking feeling that while Rachel genuinely wanted to understand him, Linda simply wanted to break his player reputation and bend him to her ideal of the perfect boyfriend. A superficial fix… and one he can use to his advantage.
If Rachel couldn't reach him, what made Linda think she could?
It didn't like it would matter in the end. He was eventually going to leave this planet now that his application was currently in deliberation with Infinity. Idle relationships were unnecessary. And messy.
And yet nothing stung more than the looks Rachel had been giving him. It wasn't pity anymore. She might have stopped that nonsense with the annoyed looks he'd give her when she did it. No, this was disappointment. And wariness. Like he was another one of those Executioners. Like he was Jen, who hated Rachel so dearly, she would inflict bodily harm on her every chance she got during the early days of Hazing.
That made him sick to his stomach.
Keeping her out of reach was a lot more trouble than it was worth. There were moments when he wanted to reach out despite his better judgement, which only made her more confused. He was blowing hot and cold like some kind of lovesick puppy.
It reached a point where, in anticipation for Sadie Hawkin's, a few of Rachel's friends were disappointed to find her unable to go dress shopping with her. She was adamant on working hard with Phoenix to make sure things went so smoothly with Lizzie and Vargas that she was ignoring her own social life as a result.
"It's not like I have anybody to go with anyways," He had overheard her on the phone at one point. "You'll have more fun without me." She laughed about that.
She could ask anyone and get a positive response, but she didn't. She could have asked Drilovsky and Chad was pretty sure he'd say yes without a second thought.
It was a frustrating thing for him. He was glad, but at the same time he was angry about it. He wanted to wipe that sad smile away and tell her this, that she was beautiful and amazing and she should go to dances like all the other normal girls.
He just didn't want her to go with anyone else.
Maurice tapped his pencil against the desk, grinning. "Lover's spat again, Dickson?"
"Go sit on a cactus." Chad shot a dark glare at the new TND Director of Intelligence. Rank be damned, he remembered when Maurice had a collection of every Rainbow Monkey belonging to the Limited Edition Sports Collection. He enjoyed hanging that tidbit over the older teen when he was properly annoyed.
But Maurice was more than immune to Chad's mood swings so he continued to smile, obviously in on a very important secret Chad wasn't privy to. "You know, one day you're gonna wish you knew what I've known sooner. Everyone can see it."
"You're seeing what you want to see," He snarked back, not liking the way this conversation was going. "She's just difficult to deal with."
"Oh? I thought you were doing quite well with Linda. Was she not the one we're talking about?" Chuckling, Maurice leaned back into his high-backed seat, delighting in the way Chad's teeth began to grind together at the slip up. "Dude, just apologize to her. You know how hard it is for me to work with Emo Chad."
Chad frowned. "I'm not emo. Do you see me bemoaning my existence and listening to depressing alternative metal music?"
"Oh, I dunno. You seem pretty close to singing some Linkin Park during the debriefing," Maurice teased. "But seriously, just apologize. She'll be back to insulting you and you can do the slap-kiss dance all over again and all would be right in the world."
He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "You're ridiculous, Maurice."
"That's Director Maurice to you."
"GO KNIGHTS!" Lizzie screamed, causing Rachel to plug her ears as the rest of the crowd followed her in cheer. Chad's toss had turned into a fumble and fortunately one of the Knights managed to hold on to it, keeping them on the offensive for another down.
It was dark and cold and the only lights there was the blinding explosion of spotlights for the football field. McClintock High was now locked in a fierce tie with their archenemies, the Red Mountain Vikings, whose team was battling fiercely with their Knights. Rachel barely understood the sport herself, but was glad that Lizzie was getting into the spirit of things. It made it easier for some ice breaking with Vargas when her mood was uplifting.
She looked at her watch, disappointed that Vargas was at least a half hour late. If he rescinds on their deal, it's forfeit, and she regains control of Prometheus. Well good, she hoped he was late. She was running out of time and she needed Prometheus under her belt as soon as possible.
"Hey, there's that boy you were with!" Lizzie pulled excitedly at Rachel's sweater and pointed down the field. Chad was currently in a huddle with his team, his blue jersey covered with grass stains and dirt while they took advantage of the Vikings' second time out. "Chaz?"
"Chad." She corrected, her lips a thin line. She watched him move with almost an ease of leadership, directing his team in such a way that instilled confidence and passion. He seemed almost… content with what he was doing, like he had led before and could lead again. This was his element, his spark. She could tell.
But Lizzie wasn't done with her observations. She decided to elbow Rachel in the side hard, causing the blond to wince. "He's cute. And reaaaaally athletic!"
"If you like jerks." Rachel snorted, folding her arms and focused on the scoreboard than the field. You can have him. Those were the words ready to leave her lips until she realized that she didn't like that idea. Lizzie having a crush on Chad wouldn't do well for Vargas or the cause. No. She couldn't have him. Her excuse was legit.
Fingertips pressed hard into her arms, Lizzie had mistaken Rachel's frustration for jealousy and wisely backed down. "Ooooh, I get it now. Don't worry, he's too old for me. Dad wouldn't like the idea so much."
Rachel wasn't exactly in the mood to correct her. Everyone seemed to believe that they were together and she eventually found that denying it just exacerbated the situation.
But she couldn't see it and couldn't understand why others could. She couldn't see Chad even liking her that way, let alone fall in love with her. She couldn't imagine herself falling in love with him vice versa. Not with the horrible way he was acting. He had made it very clear that he found her a joke. He was her bodyguard and nothing more.
Halftime rolled around and Vargas was still nowhere to be found. Forced to play the psuedo-date, Rachel took Lizzie down to the snack bar when she complained about being hungry.
Someone was watching her. Suppressing that tell-tale shiver up her spine, she ignored the pointed stare Chad was giving her back before he eventually disappeared into the locker room with his team. Lizzie, however, was observant to everything.
"You know, I wish my Nigie looked at me the way that Chad guy is looking at you," She told her while waiting in line. "He was always busy saving kids from shorter recesses, or trying to lengthen snow days. Honestly, the things he did…"
Rachel had tuned her out for only a moment, only catching the snow days bit. "Nigie? I guess you're talking about that Nigel boy from earlier, right?"
Lizzie huffed angrily, more at the memory than at Rachel's lack of attention. "Apparently he moved overseas. That's what his parents told me. But I know better. His friends were so secretive about it. You'd think that he practically left the planet! I tried writing letters to him… never got any response. I mean, sure I broke up with him, but that didn't mean I forgot him, y'know? It's just…" Her expression changed to something akin to a heartbreak; a heartbreak was eventually tempered with time. "I know he was meant for bigger things, but it hurts. Everyone else knows where he is and they'll never tell me."
With a light sigh, Rachel patted Lizzie on the shoulder. "Well… you seem to be doing good without him. Faculty Aide, Principal's Pet? Those are big things to put on college applications." Childhood loves were few too rare to last forever anyways. "But I'm sure he thinks of you wherever he is."
That seemed to perk the younger girl up because she suddenly hugged her hard. She had a very strong grip. "Thanks! I don't really have much girlfriends. Too busy, y'know? It's great to take this all off my chest."
"Y-you're welcome." Rachel stuttered, smiling all the same as she let go. Her bracelet caught on Lizzie's necklace on the way down and the younger girl eagerly asked to look at it while they disentangled themselves.
"Oh! How beautiful!" She squealed, examining Rachel's wrist. "And it looks so expensive!"
Rachel blushed a bit, reluctantly tugging her wrist away. "Thank you." It was so much a part of her, she almost forgot that it was Chad who gave it to her almost a year ago. But Lizzie would not falter with her gushing, happily critiquing the design.
"Who got you this? I would love to find the jeweler who made that!" She asked excitedly.
"Chad did. I don't know where he got it from though, sorry." Much to Rachel's displeasure, Lizzie couldn't help but keep beaming at the answer.
"Are you sure he isn't into you?" Lizzie teased. "Because that doesn't look like a kind of thing guys would normally give girls if it's platonic. I don't think even actual boyfriends would come up with that kind of gift!"
Rachel really wished people would stop implying it because it was untrue. Chad was vicious and cruel. He thought of her as something of an inconvenience, a job to take care of. And it… that made her feel even more distant. Was he even a friend to her? He kept so many secrets, she knew he was keeping secrets.
Why would she bother dealing with a guy who kept his heart in such a dark cage?
Lizzie was quiet for a moment, taking in the words Rachel hadn't realized that she had just spilled out to her. "Nigel had lots of secrets too." And that startled Rachel, causing her to clasp a hand over her mouth at her fumble. "It's okay. Listen, I always look things on the brighter side. At least it means that Chad's clever enough to keep secrets. Guys like him tend to be real shallow… and dumb. Chad doesn't seem dumb to me." She paused. "One thing you could always rely on with people like Nigel and Chad: when they're invested in something, they're invested. I know Nigel liked me and he never gave up on me. That was why I had to break up with him myself. And believe me, if Chad is like Nigel, I think he cares about you. Okay, maybe not in a romantic sense. But he does care. I mean, look at that bracelet! He can't not care!"
Rachel shook her head, ignoring the double negative of Lizzie's statement. She wasn't there when Chad called her obsessed, a hopeless brat who wasn't of worth to him. "He's just…" Those words have never left her. Every time she looked at him, she could hear those words loud in her head, and that tone. Her chest felt heavy and she busied herself from tearing up by rubbing her eyes, pretending that there was dust in them. "I don't know. It's like he's warm and sweet one minute and then the next he's cold and… cruel." It was almost as if he was catching himself, too afraid to show that he was human, that he can feel and be happy. "He's obligated to care. He's my bodyguard."
"Bodyguards don't give personalized presents to their clients," Lizzie snorted and confidently placed her hands on Rachel's shoulders. "Listen, I get it. Chad's one of those guys, y'know? He's got that image that he's that cool guy and nothing fazes him. But I think if there's any proof that he's into you in at least a caring sense, it's what you've got wrapped around your hand."
Well, who was Rachel to judge? She was no love guru like Lizzie. Still didn't mean that she believed it.
But it helped just talking about it. It helped a lot.
Vargas was such a joke. Chad let out a derisive snort when he finally saw the boy meander his way around the stands to reach Lizzie and Rachel. Oddly enough, Rachel looked even more conflicted than usual after halftime ended. He knew because she would always draw a bit of her hair behind her ear because it kept her distracted from letting her thoughts dictate her emotions.
His left tackle clapped him on the back of his helmet to get his attention.
"Back in the huddle, QB!" Anders said around his mouthpiece before returning to the huddle. Re-fixing his helmet, Chad soon followed him, relaying the next play his coach kept shouting to carry out now that the second half was in session.
This was his element. His A-game. His ability to lead a group to victory. They had quickly gained yards as soon as he helmed the offense, reaching the end zone faster than the Vikings could try to gain another yard.
Chad grabbed the grill of his center's helmet and brought him close. "Shotgun."
"We're shotgunning it?" They were five yards away from a touchdown. It was only third down, so a shotgun was unwarranted until it was absolutely necessary. But Chad was adamant, putting his center back into place as the end of the second quarter was drawing to a hard close. This stalemate needed to end now.
"Did I stutter, Anders? Shotgun."
Chad yelled the commands to his offensive team, crouching down until the play commenced. It was a gamble, but he was a man of risk.
Rachel stared incredulously at the formation and palmed her face. "Oh no."
"What?" Lizzie looked up from her soda. Vargas was trying to pull the moves on her, so she was hardly paying attention. So far she wasn't impressed by Vargas' 'charm'. Rachel was too busy paying attention to the game for once to play his wingman… err, wingwoman.
While she was far from a savant about football, Chad had talked her ear off the past year about plays and the rules of the game. He finally gave up when she mixed up a touchdown with a home run. That was apparently sacrilege to a football junkie, but really, her trigonometry homework was much more of a priority at the time than going over what a safety was.
But she recognized his stance and the rare formation. It was a play to use when you ran out of downs, but Rachel was pretty sure there were four, not three.
"That idiot is shotgunning."
"What kind of idiot shotguns on the third down?!" Rachel fussed, a hard frown on her features. She dabbed an alcohol-laced cotton ball against the large cut on Chad's forehead. It bled a lot more than she liked, but the nurse had reassured that it was cosmetic damage and didn't need stitches. Chad was still a moron at any rate.
"I can't believe you knew what shotgun was in the first-OW!" A sharp stinging pain from the antiseptic laced up his forehead and Chad pulled back out of instinct. They were inside the small medical medical tent, one of which she eventually found the star QB practically unconscious on the gurney before Rachel startled him awake by lecturing over his reckless play.
Once more, someone believed they were together, this time the on-staff nurse, and left her to tend to Chad's wounds herself since it was superficial. Quite frankly, Chad thought her bedside manner sucked.
Still irritated with him, she grabbed the front of his stained jersey back towards her and continued to dab at the cut, not patient enough to deal with his whining. Sometimes he acted like a child.
Despite his complaining, this had been the first in a week since she's voluntarily been in his personal space. And quite frankly, he was desperate enough to take what he could get from her. "This is your fault." She continued to mutter. "So stupid…"
"We won." And that was all that mattered. He had plowed right through the belly of the beast and right into Massive Mallory of Red Mountain fame, who nearly cracked his head open diving into the end zone. But he got it there and McClintock cinched another victory.
"You're hurt. It's not worth it." She leaned forward to blow the stinging sensation away from his cut. "It's just a game."
"It's not just a game." He countered and he tried to elaborate on the decades long rivalry between the two schools but somehow his train of thought was short circuited. He felt a very slight brush of lips against his temple. Before he could even register what just happened, she moved away to prepare the bandage. It was unintentional, but damn. It didn't even seem like she acknowledged what she had done. But he felt every millimeter of it like electricity just shot up his spine.
This wasn't good. This thing he seemed to be so acute of whenever she did something like this wasn't good. Not at all. And pushing her away only made things worse. He ended up desperate for her attention, any attention.
She smartly stuck the bandage onto his forehead once the cut was properly clean. "There!" Rachel snipped. "All done." He almost wished he had more than just a cut on the head just so she can invade his personal space a bit more longer. Reaching a moment of desperation he hadn't felt in a long time, he caught her wrist before she pulled away completely.
"I'm sorry." He blurted out, and she saw for the first time, a kind of frustration and pain she hadn't seen before. He was tired of the lack of contact and the way she drew away from him. This was bad. He was in too deep. But he didn't care. If he had to get on his knees and grovel he'd do it. If it made her smile again, then sacrificing his dignity was nothing.
Knowing the implication of those words, she sighed, then slapped a smiley face bandage right on his cheek. "Is it really so bad having someone to talk to?" She asked quietly, almost pained. "I'm not asking you to save the world. You're a good guy. You take care of me. I know that. So don't treat me like I'm some kind of enemy because I'm not."
"I don't-" Okay, he did. He treated her like a mission that needed to be concluded. Another obstacle in his way to justify his goals. And it wasn't exactly fair. Rachel McKenzie wasn't like the others he had to deal with. They were once on the same side, fighting for the same thing. She had become his ally, even when they both didn't realize it until now.
He had hurt her because he was scared. She was becoming more than just a target to protect. He enjoyed protecting her… because he truly cared about her.
And when she looked at him, he couldn't keep this façade going. Because she looked like she would never trust him again if he pushed her away one more time.
"I didn't have too many friends and I don't know why." She continued, playing with the bandage wrapper to keep her hands busy. "Maybe I just didn't have time for them, I dunno. Most of my childhood is well… I don't feel like I accomplished anything worthwhile. Just school. But I'm trying to make up for it. And you've helped. You gave me Fanny and Patton and even Lizzie. Lizzie of all people!" She let out a soft burst of laughter. "I didn't have anyone before."
He wished she knew the impact she made in the Kids Next Door; the people who had cared for her there. He wanted to tell her that she was loved and respected by thousands of operatives worldwide and that she helped kids everywhere enjoy their childhoods at the sacrifice of her own.
Chad's gaze softened, much to her surprise.
"You have me." He finally said, practically taking a sledgehammer and demolishing the wall between them. Because she's sacrificed enough. And he's personally had enough with all this dancing around. To put it mildly, he never wanted her to look at him with such saddened eyes again. "You have me, Rachel. I swear."
It took a moment for those words to sink in but when it did, she smiled. She practically beamed at him, her smile was so brilliant and alive. Her brown eyes were lit up with that fire he's admired and it was because of him.
"Friends?" She asked tentatively, offering her hand. He took it, fingers brushing against the warm metal of the bracelet she's religiously kept on. That empowered him.
Chad had caught up with Lizzie after the game, intent on wiping her memories of Nigel Uno once and for all. Gadget in hand, he had hoped that the girl would keep her mouth shut about Sector V and the Kids Next Door after her ex-boyfriend had practically disappeared off the face of the earth. That unfortunately wasn't the case.
She was a liability to the cause and could incriminate and compromise Numbuh 5's undercover work with her words.
Abby had told him to let it go, that she could handle it, but he didn't want to take that chance. Not with this.
"Do me a favor, Lizzie?" He smiled at her, raising what looked like a cellphone. "I'd like to take your picture. As a contact, of course."
Lizzie smiled happily and posed. "Oooh! How's this? You get my good side?"
Chad smiled. "Every side is your good side, Devine." Ever the charmer, she practically blushed from the compliment. Raising up the phone, he pressed a button and the screen was alive, working to target her facial profile for a partial decommissioning. His thumb brushed against the fire button once the cross-hair turned bright red.
He tried. He really tried to go through with it. But guilt finally began to eat at him over what he had done to her. It had been him that brought the dissolution of her and Uno's relationship. She had loved Uno and, blind to his duty, Chad worked behind the scenes to basically tear them apart.
After a careful moment, he slowly lowered his phone. "All done."
Lizzie pinched her lips. "But I didn't see a flash… or a click!"
"It's on mute." Chad lied and pocketed the decommissioning device. "But it was a great shot." Before she could even open her mouth to ask and see how well it turned out, Chad walked away, deciding that McKenzie was slowly turning him into a sap.
You owe me one, Uno.