A/N: *screams* I finished! I finished the story that at one point I really didn't think I'd finish at all. I don't think I've ever been as proud of finishing a story. Or as happy. It was a long wait (like 15 months o.O) and I really can't believe I have any readers left. But I do. And that makes me so incredibly happy/grateful that you can't even believe it. I am so sorry for making you all wait so long. But better late then never, right? *nudges*
For the last time on this story, I'm going to say that I don't own any of the characters, except for Birchwood, Numbuh 178 and Numbuh 563.
Chapter 9: The End of the End
"I want to break up."
Immediately questions started swarming through Nigel's head. Lizzie wanted to break up with him? He thought that he'd have to be the one to break off the relationship. Why was she telling him now? But it took a moment until the most important question hammered at his brain. But when it did, alarm bells started ringing and his stomach dropped into his shoes. How in the world did Lizzie know?
"Ex-excuse me?" He was stammering. He never stammered, but he considered that this might be an adequate time to start.
"I said that I want to break up with you." Lizzie looked him straight in the eye but he noticed that she was leaning from one foot to the other, a sure sign that she was nervous.
"Umm," Nigel tried to grasp exactly what was going on and in doing so; he uttered the words that would be perfectly reasonable at a time like this. "Umm, Lizzie. You were dating Numbuh 1. Not me."
Lizzie scoffed, but he did notice a flicker of doubt pass over her face. "I'm not stupid. I think I'd know if my boyfriend of 5 years suddenly acted like his best friend." Her tone was accusing and Numbuh 1 immediately felt guilty.
Well, guiltier. You already felt guilty about 'cheating on her'. His mind pointed out smugly.
"I just have to ask you one thing. How could you think that I wouldn't notice? I went on a date with someone that wasn't you and you didn't think I'd notice?" Now Lizzie was completely disbelieving.
Nigel kicked at the floor, ashamed.
"Lizzie…" he began.
"No. I'm not finished."
He shut up.
"I don't pretend to know what in the world is going on, but I am surprised that you didn't tell me." She looked at him sadly. "Relationships are built on trust, Nigel. And you don't trust me."
"That's not true. I do trust you. I just didn't think you'd believe me. I wouldn't believe me."
Numbuh 1, although he had known that he and Lizzie had been growing apart for quite some time, couldn't stop the feelings of sadness and regret. He really, really liked Abby but Lizzie had been his first girlfriend. And he'd always remember her as that.
Lizzie smiled a bit. "I probably wouldn't have believed you," she admitted, "but I guess it would have been nice to be included in the know."
Nigel nodded ruefully. This was quickly becoming one of his least favorite conversations of his life. Right up there with The Talk his father had sprung on him when he turned 13.
"So you want to break up?" Nigel asked, not sure how he should be feeling about this.
Lizzie paused before nodding. "I think it's time, Nigel. We've been together a long time. Longer than most people our age. We've never dated other people. We need to get back out there." She smiled sadly. "And besides, I haven't exactly been the girl of your dreams for a while now."
Lizzie nodded meaningfully in his direction and Nigel blushed vividly. He was torn between shame and a wish to acknowledge that she was right.
"Well, I'm pretty sure that you've looked at other guys too. Herbie is really smart." Nigel smiled as Lizzie took her turn to blush.
"So we're ok? Maybe we could even be friends…?" Numbuh 1 finished his sentence with a question in his voice.
Lizzie grinned as her blush faded. "I'd like that."
They lapsed into a comfortable silence, letting this revelation sink in. They were broken up. They were free to date whom they wanted.
"I just have one question. How in the world did you find out?" Nigel looked at his ex-girlfriend, inquiringly.
She chuckled. "Well, after that date with Abby." She and Nigel winced in unison. "I started wondering what in the world was going on with you two. Then there was yesterday morning in the hallway. And of course, this morning in the office."
"So you just pieced it all together and came to this conclusion?" There was a hint of admiration in Numbuh 1's voice.
Lizzie laughed. "Well, yeah. But it also helped when Kuki and Wally came up to me this morning and told me everything."
Nigel gaped at her. "They told you?"
Lizzie nodded. "Yup. Now hurry along, Nigel."
His face turned from amazed to confused.
"I heard through the grapevine that you've got a date in," she checked her watch, "5 minutes. You wouldn't want to keep her waiting, would you?"
She winked at him, turned and walked down the hallway.
Nigel's gape was cut short as he looked at his own watch.
He entered the locker combination, stuffed the books away and then hurried out of the school and began his 5-block trek to Mario's with a light heart and cheery expression.
"You're late," Abby said pleasantly, as he dropped, huffing, into a seat opposite her.
"I am so sorry! I got held up, and then actually came halfway before I remembered that I forgot my cell phone so I had to run back to school." What he didn't mention was his 5-minute wait outside Mario's as he gathered his nerve to enter. It was no longer a lunch between friends. He was single. He was free to do anything he wanted. And that fact scared the hell out of him.
Abby laughed. "No worries. I figured it would be something pretty important for you to be late."
He couldn't help but agree. He was never late. Ever.
"It was," he agreed, picking up a menu.
"Oh, I already ordered. I ordered a large pepperoni pizza to split. That's still your favorite, right?"
Nigel smiled and nodded.
"So what was this amazingly important thing that held you up?" Abby was teasing him but he blushed lightly anyway.
"Er… you aren't going to believe it, but Lizzie did." He fiddled with a fork. Somehow, the idea of telling Abby that he was single was even scarier.
Numbuh 5 had a puzzled look adorned on her features. "Lizzie? What did she do?"
"She..um…broke up with me," Nigel said awkwardly.
Wow. He hadn't been this nervous since he had asked Lizzie on their first date.
It took a second for it to register, but when it did the results were all those to be expected. Abby's jaw dropped and her eyes widened to the size of saucers.
Nigel chuckled lightly. "Yeah. Apparently, Numbuhs 3 and 4 told her this morning. But she was already figuring it out."
"They…told…Lizzie," Abby repeated. She shook her head as if to clear it. "Those little sneaks. I wonder why they did that."
At this, Nigel shrugged. He didn't know either.
Abby smiled lightly. "Well, wow. Are you doing ok?"
Numbuh 1 nodded. "I'm fine. A little shocked, but I'm really good."
He smiled at her warmly. She smiled back.
They didn't say anything, surprising themselves with the first awkward silence of their friendship. Both looked eternally grateful when a steaming pizza was placed in front of them.
"You know what I've been thinking?" Nigel asked suddenly, surprising both Abby and himself.
"What?" Abby swallowed a bite of the pizza.
"We've been friends for a long time, right?" Abby nodded silently, a slight blush rising into her pale cheeks as she prepared for the rest of the sentence.
"We've never done anything together. Not together, together anyway." A blush was present on his face as well.
"Which is why I think we should go to the Teens Next Door Dance together."
His courage ran away at the last second, leaving him to the next option when his original sentence melted before his lips. His courage left just before he was about to utter those words. The, 'do you maybe want to go out with me?, words.
Abby let out a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding. "Oh. Yeah. Sure. Sounds fun."
Nigel couldn't be sure, but he was certain there was disappointment on her face.
Above them Cupid was watching with a disbelieving expression. Holly and Birchwood's jaws were hanging open.
"Oh for True Love's sake…" Cupid muttered, slapping himself in the forehead. "These teenagers are the most pathetic humans I've ever seen. In my day, a man would ask a woman and that would be it."
"Grandpa, in your day, dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. Give them time." Holly tried to sound optimistic, but even she was having trouble believing how close the teens had gotten.
The awkward silence had returned. Nigel mentally hitting himself on the head repeatedly, and Abby looking slightly disappointed.
The rest of the 'date' was pretty much the same. Small talk about stuff they already knew and subjects that they weren't interested in.
It was getting so that Nigel was ready to tear out his hair in frustration. Well not really. He had gotten his hair snagged on the hairbrush this morning. That hurt.
An hour passed and both were ready to leave.
"It's ok. I've got it," Abby said, pulling out a wallet when he reached for the check.
He opened his mouth to protest and then closed it. Abby never budged on things like this.
They both stood up and then walked out the door. The conversation was as awkward outside as it had been inside.
It wasn't until they reached the tree house, with twilight lightly settling over them that Nigel stopped walking and turned to her with a determined look on his face. Unknown to him three fairies/elves, floating invisible above his head were crossing their fingers, toes and whatever else they could for luck.
"Wait a minute." Nigel heaved a huge breath as Abby turned to him, a curious look on her face.
Courage, don't fail me now…
"You're my best friend. And we're in a stupid position that no one should be forced to go through. But in a way, I'm glad it happened. Otherwise I'd never have been brave enough to tell you."
Numbuh 5 looked as if she wanted to interrupt, but she kept her mouth shut.
"I…I like you, Abby. A lot." Numbuh 1 was stammering again. It was turning into a stammer-filled day. "More than a best friend feels."
His face was now the temperature of an oven. An oven on fire. An oven on fire in a volcano. On the sun.
Abby smiled at him, before gently taking his hand in hers.
"Took you long enough," she said, grinning happily.
Nigel couldn't believe it. He had spent the last 2 years not saying anything to her, not telling her his feelings because he was certain it'd ruin their friendship. He never took the time to imagine the impossible. That maybe she would like him back and maybe they could be together.
"I like you more than a best friend too, Nigel." She was blushing ever so slightly, but her smile stayed present.
Numbuh 1 couldn't remember the last time he felt so euphoric.
Cupid was leaning forward so far that Birchwood was afraid he'd fall off the cloud.
"That's it?" Holly demanded, pointing at the two hand-holding teens.
Birchwood shrugged and Cupid leaned back.
"I was hoping for a kiss, but this is good enough." He waved his arms wildly and muttered something in a language the elves didn't know.
Below them, they just managed to see the teens' alarmed expressions before ghostly figures lifted themselves out of their unnatural bodies and then lowered themselves into their correct forms.
"I guess that's that. I have had enough love to last me a few centuries. What say we get back to the Castle and order some…" Cupid's words trailed off as he turned around.
Birchwood and Holly were holding hands unabashedly.
His jaw dropped.
"No way." They nodded.
"You two?" Another nod.
"How…when…WHY?" They blushed and shrugged.
Cupid frowned. "No one ever tells me anything!" He whined.
"We're back to normal!" Numbuh 5 cried happily, running her hands over the length of her body and grinning.
"That's amazing," Nigel agreed, taking off the sunglasses and then putting them on again, grinning. "Though that has to be the weirdest thing I've ever felt."
Abby's head tilted up, staring at the sky. "Did you hear someone talking?"
Nigel looked confused. "No. Was there?"
Abby shrugged. "I guess not…"
She turned back to him and then blushed at the smile on his face. He took her hands in his and moved ever so slightly closer. Then he stopped, a questioning look on his face.
"If you're going to kiss me, just do it," she teased, pushing her hat back and smiling.
And he did.
A/N: Yeah, ok. Not my most fluffy of endings, but I thought it suited the couple better. Nigel and Abby aren't as...enthusiastic as the others are. And I think that maybe halfway through I lost my steam completely, only to find it again in the last couple paragraphs. I hope it wasn't completely terrible. *cringes*
And I also made it on schedule! *points to calender* Hasn't been 2 weeks yet! Think of this as my Thanksgiving present. Happy Holidays everyone! And I'm sorry it took so darn long to finish the story.