20. Epilogue (Swan Song)

After she delivered a moving address expressing prayers for each of the Hodges, Marcy walked to the stairs near the front of the stage to sit with her husband and daughter, and other members of the Board of Regents in the front row of the assembly hall. The entire assemblage of people sat until 4 O'Clock, when a lone, solemn church bell rang softly through the loudspeaker system in tribute, ringing once each for Kim, William and Kimi.

The sound which followed was even softer than that of the bell, but no less commemorative - the sound of people throughout the hall, weeping into friends' and relatives' arms, interspersed with soft words of condolence and support.

Even well after the marking of the hour, absolutely no one who had entered the hall made any motion to leave.

Saturday, July 13th, 4:30 PM.
Meridian Insurance Company Assembly Hall

Marcy's head was hung low, as it had been for the past 20 minutes, in a mix of prayer and fatigue. One hand was wrapped tightly around that of her husband, Lupe - the other clasping the small hand of her daughter Valencia. Both of them felt her jump slightly at the sensation of her cell buzzing against the breast pocket of her blouse.

She slipped her hand from around Lupe's hand and reached for her pocket. "I don't know why I didn't leave this thing in the car," she whispered as she opened the cell, reading the number - looking to her husband for a second - then bringing the phone to her ear. "Hello," she said in a hushed tone. "Yes, this is Marcy...who--" she was interrupted and listened for a second "What...?" She listened again for a few seconds. "Look...I don't know who you are. This is a sick joke...I can trace this number faster than you can--" she stopped, the anger leaving her voice. "...Mark? Yes, I remember, from the phone call that morning..." She stopped again, listening for a moment - then her eyes welled with tears, as they had so many times that day. "Oh God, oh Dear God--" she stuttered. "We're at-- we were at a prayer-- everyone from work is here...yes...! Yes, just a moment." She turned to her husband, moving the phone from her mouth and motioning to the stage, speaking quickly - "Vaya obtiene mí el micrófono de la etapa!"

Lupe rose quickly from his chair to the stage, unclipping the microphone from the podium and returning to Marcy, passing it to her. Several of the people around her gave her puzzled looks, which began to spread to others as she took the microphone and stood, bringing it near her mouth. "Ladies and gentlemen," she started through her emotion, "I am on the phone with a Captain from the air base near Cairo. A few moments ago, a military supersonic jet took off from that air base, and is now leaving Egyptian airspace, on its way here. Kim is on board--" the noise grew with her voice as she continued, alternating between listening on the phone, then relaying "--she's alive...she's been rescued...and she's on her way home!"

A new surge of crying moved through the crowd, but was now laced with applause, wails of amazement, joy and release at the news. Marcy let her arm holding up the microphone go slack for a moment. "I--I can hardly hear you! What!?" she shouted into the phone over the noise in the auditorium. Then "YES!" she blurted. "Please! I--Ohhhhh, Go-o-o-d, Hii-i-i, ba-ABY..!" she cried into the cell, shaking. Marcy brought the microphone up quickly as emotion washed over her. "She's ON-THE-PHOOONE!!!" she screamed. The crowd broke into cheers and applause as Marcy tried to continue. "Kim, how did-- I can't hear you! Listen! This is for YOU!" She brought the phone from her ear and held it out, waving it in a slow arc in front of her. The assemblage erupted into cheers and shouts of Kim's name.

Marcy haanded the microphone to Lupe, then held up her hand, trying to reduce the crowd for a moment. She covered the side of her head as she brought the phone back to her ear. "Kim, I just want to-- what? Yes....yes of course...right after you hang up, baby! Okay...can you call me back in about 15? NO, I can't get enough of your voice right now! DUH, Kim! I thought you were-- Just get home as quick as you can...you have the rest of our lives to tell me about it when you get home...okay...talk to you soon...I love you so much, Kim! Okay...bye for now."

Marcy pressed a button to hang up her phone - then she threw both arms into the air. "She's COMING HOME!!!" she burst at the top of her lungs, the crowd bursting again into cheering as Marcy walked through an exit into the hallway, dialing a number on her cell.

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5:47 PM.
Eastgate General Hospital
4th Floor - Psychiatric Wing
Room 412

After the incident earlier in the afternoon, William had been shifted to a "supervised" status, with a nurse stationed in his room. His medications were scheduled to be mixed into liquid, to avoid a repeat of William's hoarding episode.

William had been showered and changed into fresh hospital clothing of an off-white. He was barefoot and seated backward on a chair at the far end of the room, his head resting on his hands, staring out the narrow window at the lengthening shadows of the approaching evening.

A quiet knock came at the door. William continued his gaze through the window as the nurse rose to the door, opening it slightly. There were a few words exchanged, then the nurse opened the door wide - and Kim entered the room, carrying a small gym bag. She had changed into a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt after a shower at the base in Cairo.

Kim took another halting step into the room as the nurse went into the hall, quietly closing the door behind her. "...William?" Kim said in a soft trepidation. Being told that his wife was sentenced to die at the hands of her "enemies" from the show...then being locked into the solitude of a psychiatric facility, further removed from the world he had known...what had this past month of hell done to him, Kim thought.

William lifted his head from his hands, turning back. "Hi Kim," he said rather flatly.

While the sight of her husband brought a light to her heart, Kim was a bit taken aback by her husband's relative indifference. She took another step to him. "William?" she said again. "What's...what's wrong? Aren't you...glad to see me?"

William slowly rose from the chair, bringing one leg over and turning around, now facing Kim as he sat again. "I see you every day, Kim," he said, still in a resigned tone. "You bring me my medicine...you bring me my meals...you check up on me several times during the day. I see you walk through that door every single day, Kim...even though I know that it's never real, I see you."

Kim stood for a moment, sorting through what William had just said. "Not 'real,' huh," she said, a small smile growing onto her face as she walked slowly across the room. "Umm, I thought we went through this 'real' thing when we first met years ago?" She reached the chair, dropping the bag to the floor and looking into her husband's eyes as she stood before him. She then bent down, bringing her face close to his, leaning to softly press her lips to his for a few seconds. "Tell me how 'real' you think this is..." she purred, still inches from his face, "Punny So Not Backgammon Boy..."

The warm, fluid-silken kiss of Kim's lips registered immediately on William. His eyes seemed to emerge from an emotional exile as they drank in the image before him. "...K--Kim...?" he said haltingly, his hand moving to flow through her auburn locks. "...Kim?" he repeated as he traced his fingers along her cheek with a softness as if he were handling a priceless artifact. "Kiimmm?..." he said again as the floodgates of his emotion began to fail. Kim's eyes also welled up in joy as she remained close, nodding each time in response to her name. She moved to straddle his lap as his arms gathered her tightly. "My God, you're home!" William cried openly as they embraced. "You're home, you're home and safe! Ohhh, GO-O-D, you're home!..."

They remained locked in each other's arms for ten full minutes. They separated far enough to look into each other's eyes, their hands caressing each other's face. "How..." William started - then reached for his wife again, hugging tightly. "Never mind, I don't want to know how," he said onto her shoulder. "You're here and you're safe."

Kim moved back a bit, smiling through her tears of joy. "Yes, you do want to know how," she said, leaning to open the gym bag and bringing out the Kimmunicator. She turned the device so William could see, and pressed a button. "This is how," she said.

The screen lit up with Kimi's face. In the lack of a third dimension, she looked exactly like her mother did on her show, save for blue eyes. She wore a wide-brimmed sun hat, purple with a brilliant yellow flower on the front. "Hi Dad!" she burst, waving her hand.

"Hi, Ki!" Willliam grinned, motioning to Kim. "Look who I found."

Kimi broke into laughter. "All about I found her first," she said, giggling, "I rescued Mom...just before my little trip to Cellerland."

William took a closer look into the screen at his daughter, then to Kim and back to the screen. "...You rescued--?...Cellerland?" he asked. "Ki, where are you?"

"It's all about got sucked into the portal when I sent Drakken and Shego back," said Kimi. "Now I'm here for a while...I'm staying with Monique from the show. It's shizz-NEKKIN' in Cellerland, Dad!"

William looked up to Kim, puzzled. "She's....she's in the Celler environment? But...I thought that--"

"Everybody thought that," Kim beamed, "but her Celler skin sealed her against anything bad in the Resonance when she went through it."

William looked into the screen again. "...she's trapped in the Celler environment?"

"Only until Tuesday," Kim said. "There's a new moon on the 16th...then she can cross back. Wade said that other than that scheduled encrypted Cross, the Resonance Couduit will be sealed until they can secure it from any more Crosses being hacked."

William still had a quizzical expression. "Something tells me it will take hours for you two to explain all this to me."

"You...have...no earthly idea," Kim replied, leaning to William for another kiss, "yeah...quite the story...and we have the rest of our lives to share and retell it." She was gathered once again in William's arms at this.

"The Celler enviro is sugoi!" Kimi blurted from the Kimmunicator. "When the recovery guys brought me to Wade's office, it was all about rock star. Everyone was cheering and screaming and reaching for me! I thought I was hearing things at first, but some of them were calling me 'Ki Possible'!"

"Heh," Kim snickered, "like mother, like daughter."

"2-D is diamond too, Mom!" said Kimi. "You should see how high I can jump here! It's all about I don't weigh anything!"

Kim smirked into the screen. "Uhh...doi, Ki," she snickered, "I've...been there, remember? Gee, now I can say this for once...you need a Clue Bee!" All three burst out laughing at this.

"Ron was all about nuts when I met him, too...I watched his hands the whole time. You're right, he's not lead at all...but I'm glad you told me about you and him back when I found the tapes."

William slowly turned from the screen to Kim with a slightly raised eyebrow and a hint of a smirk. "...You and...Ron...?"

"Uhh..." Kim said with a nervous giggle. She then turned to the screen. "We're going to head for home, Ki," she said. "I'll beep you when we get there. Anything we can do for you for when you get back here?"

Kimi slipped her hat from her now-bald head. "Other than a new 'do?" she giggled.

William's jaw dropped until Kim interjected, smiling. "Flesher hair...didn't make it through the Conduit. It'll grow back."

"Just save me some food," Kimi said. "Like hot dogs or something."

William looked at Kim, then back to the screen. "Ki...I thought you hated hot dogs..."

"Not FLESHER hot dogs," Kimi replied. "Not anymore. In fact, when I get back, I'm telling Frannie to talk her mom into inviting us all over for some of her spinach waffles. I had a meal when I got to Wade's, and I'm all about full, but...it was all about no taste to anything!"

Kim burst into a snicker. "She gets it! Welcome to the wonderful world of Celler food, baby."

"I...do have a favor to ask," said Kimi. "They said that when I cross back, I can bring a pet, but I said it was up to you guys." She reached below the screen, then brought up her hand - full of a small pink rodent, who smiled into the screen, bursting forth with a "Hi" in a tiny voice. "Can I?" Kimi asked.

William rubbed his forefinger along his bearded chin. "A Celler pink naked mole rat in the house," he mused thoughtfully, looking at Kim, who gave a small nod. William turned back to the screen and smiled. "A Celler Rufus in the house...It's all about bring it on, Ki," he said.

Kimi's jaw dropped now. "He gets it, Mom!" she giggled. "All about gets it!"

Kim erupted into uncontrollable laughter, joined by William.

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The next day, Kim and William accompanied Mark to the United Nations building in New York for an emergency session, where he made an impassioned presentation of the Hodges' ordeal, and how it was made worse for the entire family by the restrictions of the CENAP pact. There was a short vote by the Cross-Environment Security Council, and it was agreed that the pact be immediately rescinded, so that no other family - Flesher, Celler or mixed - would ever be subject to a horror of this nature - and should the unthinkable ever happen again - no member of a family would have to take it upon themselves to fight that horror.

(roll end credits, start closing music)

Kim:
I wasn't walking on water; I was standing on a reef when the tide came in
Swept beneath the surface
Lost without a trace, no hope at all
No hope at all

Oh Sweet Miracle
Love's Sweet Miracle of Life

William:
I wasn't walking with angels; I was talking to myself
Rising up to the surface
Raging against the night
Starless night

Oh Sweet Miracle
Love's Sweet Miracle of Life

Kimi:
I wasn't praying for magic; I was hiding in plain sight
Rising up from the surface
To fly into the light
Into the light

Oh Sweet Miracle
Love's Sweet Miracle of Life

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A certain measure of innocence
Willing to appear naive
A certain degree of imagination
A measure of make-believe

A certain degree of surrender
To the forces of light and heat
A shot of satisfaction
In a willingness to risk defeat

Celebrate the moment
As it turns into one more
Another chance at victory
Another chance to score

The measure of the moment
In a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory

A certain measure of righteousness
A certain amount of force
A certain degree of determination
Daring on a different course

A certain amount of resistance
To the forces of the light and love
A certain measure of tolerance
A willingness to rise above
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"Sweet Miracle"
"One Little Victory"
Rush - Vapor Trails

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Steel Swan
End