=All-Purpose Thank-You=

I'd like to thank everyone that wrote in and reviewed this story, giving me the encouragement I needed to see it through to its end. And to all of you that didn't write in, don't worry; I'm not mad. Thank you for reading it this far. I hope you've all enjoyed the story, through the good times and the bad. It's been a wild trip, and I hope to return to the Kim Possible universe soon. I've had a lot of fun, and I hope you have to. Be safe, be well, and keep reading, because the best is yet to come.

Cyberwraith Thadius Nine

Ghost of the Net

and your Queen of Fanfiction

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Kim Possible

The Power of Love

by Cyberwraith9

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Kim Possible strolled along the sidewalk with slow, uncertain steps. It was dark already in Dreidleton. The late September air held a chill, causing Kim to tug tightly at her hooded sweatshirt. But the cold was the furthest thing from her mind.

"Let me just say again how sorry I am," Doctor Director said from the Kimmunicator's tiny screen. Kim held it at arm's length, and gave the secret agent a wan smile as she continued, "I assure you; Agent Du will be severely reprimanded for his actions."

"It's no big, really." Kim shrugged, stopping outside of a familiar building. There was only a single street light across the road lighting the area. Her shadow snaked up the side of the building as she gazed at the ominous apartment complex.

The Director's expression softened. "Are you sure you don't want to come back? We'd get things right this time…for you 'and' Stoppable."

Kim looked up further. A single window with a flickering light caught her attention, and she felt a new stab of anxiety pierce her heart. It took another intonation from the Director before she turned back to her conversation. "Doctor Director…thanks. Seriously. But I think I know where I belong now."

"Well," Doctor Director sighed, "I suppose I can respect that. I hope we can call upon you if we're ever in a spot of trouble."

"Count on it." Kim's smile became genuine.

With a nod, Doctor Director added, "Feel free to live in the facility until you've found a new place to live. Good hunting, Ms. Possible." She gave the teen a salute, then winked off the screen.

"Thanks," she said to the darkened street. Glancing up one last time at the window, she heaved a sigh, then opened the door. "I'm gonna need it."

Each step seemed to last an eternity as she rose to the second floor. The sound of her footfalls against the thin, dingy carpet thudded in her ears, carrying her down the hallway and towards the looming, terrifying door. After what must have been years of walking, she stood in front of the knob. A lump lodged itself in her throat as she reached out. She swallowed the lump, swallowed her fears, and knocked upon the door.

There was a moment of silence where Kim was forced to wonder if Ron would even open the door for her. She was about to turn away when the knob jiggled, then twisted with a click. The door swung open slowly, and for a moment Kim couldn't see anyone behind it. Then a wiggling blob on the inside knob caught her attention.

"Kim!" Rufus squealed, jumping from the knob and clinging to her sweatshirt.

Kim smiled and picked Rufus up, rubbing his head as she brought the rodent up to her face. "Hey Rufus," she smiled at her tiniest friend. She paused a moment in hesitation before asking, "Is he here?"

Rufus nodded and pointed over toward the living room. Looking past the kitchen, Kim saw the back of Ron's head. He sat in front of the television, which was muted at the moment, and hadn't turned around at the sound of Kim's voice. She exchanged glances with Rufus, but the rodent could only shrug.

Steeling herself, Kim stepped into the apartment and closed the door behind her. The click of the latch sounded like a gun cocking to her edgy ears, but she continued on. If Kim Possible could do anything, then she could certainly eat a little crow to save the best thing that ever happened to her. "Ron?" she walked further into the apartment, but stopped at the kitchen counter.

Ron didn't move, or even acknowledge she was there.

"Ron, I know I'm the last person you want to see right now, and I don't blame you. But I've got something to say to you, and you have to hear it." He didn't even twitch, so she drew a deep breath and began:

"Ron, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry, because you were right about everything, and I've been a terrible friend. I…I don't know if I can even apologize for everything I said and did, but I'll try."

She felt hot, wet tears welling up in her eyes, and this time she did nothing to halt them, not because she wanted to use them against him, but because she knew she couldn't stop them anyway. "The things I said to you were just awful, Ron. I was totally out of line. You weren't the one being a bad friend; I was. I ignored you, I abused you, and…and I'm not so sure that it's just been this last week that I've been doing it. You've always been there for me, but I wasn't there for you. And I'm sorry."



He didn't move a muscle.



Her voice was starting to shake, so she hurried it along. "I'm not sure if I can ever win your friendship back, Ron," she said with trembling words, "But I will work for the rest of my life trying to earn another chance, because…because being your friend is the best thing that's ever happened to me, and the best thing I could ever be."



Rufus climbed up onto the countertop, glancing between the two. He moaned as Ron continued to ignore them, and looked to Kim with large, sympathetic eyes, chittering sadly. "Ho, not good…" he sighed.



Swallowing the lump, Kim said, "Ron, I quit Global Justice. You should know that they wanted you all along…Will lied to me. He lied to both of us. He…he's wearing a black eye, in case you wanted to know." A ghost of a smile graced her lips, but returned to the ether when Ron remained where he was. His show had returned, but the television was still muted.



"I still plan on saving the world, and…I could use a good partner to watch my back," she added. "I can't think of anyone better than you." She shifted uncomfortably, waiting in silence for several moments, hoping that Ron would say something. "And…that's it. I…I'll do anything to earn your friendship again, Ron. Because I don't need to imagine life without you; I've lived it, and it sucks. I just…I hope you can forgive me one day."



There were another few moments of uncomfortable silence before she decided it was enough. Rubbing the back of her neck, she muttered, "And that's it…yeah. So, I'll just leave now, but I'll…see you around."



She turned away and started for the door. Her cheeks and collar were soaked with tears, but she did nothing to clear them. She wanted to feel every ounce of pain, because she knew she deserved a thousand times worse for what she had-



"Hold on."



Ron's guttural voice halted her in her tracks. She looked back, and felt her heart leap into her throat as he rose from the couch. His face was hard and cold, and cut deeper than any knife ever could as he approached her. But his eyes were the worst part; lifeless and cruel, they stared almost mockingly at her.



His lips twisted as he spoke in low tones. "You think that's all it takes?" he asked, shuffling towards her. She felt like a statue, unable to move an inch. The horrified expression his words struck upon her shone with tears as he berated her. "You think you can just waltz in here with a lame little apology and a few crocodile tears, and everything will be all right?"



"Ron, I…"



"Shut up," Ron said. Her jaw snapped shut as he stopped right in front of her, looming over her, silhouetted by the television's light like an ominous dark god. "You really think that's all it would take to win my friendship? You really are stupid."



Her lip quivered and her tears tripled at his cruelty. She gasped, still unable to move or think. All she could do was listen to his horrible words. "Ron…" she sobbed softly.



Almost immediately, his features softened. He reached out, grasping her shoulders and squeezing them gently. "You honestly must be the stupidest person in the world," he informed her in no uncertain terms, "If you thought you ever really lost my friendship."



Kim was at a loss for words as Ron drew her in, pressing her head to his chest in a crushing hug. He leaned over, wrapping his arms tightly around the small of her back and pressing his face into her neck as she did the same. The last of her control snapped, and she sobbed openly into his chest, feeling her tears soak right through his shirt. As she did, some small part of her noticed a wet feeling spreading across the side of her neck, but she didn't care.



"God, Ron…" she sniffed, pulling away and wiping her smudged eyes with the back of her hand. Looking up, she saw Ron smiling down at her with sopping cheeks and gleaming eyes. Even through the intensity of the moment, she couldn't help but chuckle at his essential Ron-ness. "It…It can't be that easy. I mean, for God's sake, I slapped you!"



His face grew serious in an instant. "Hey…that's right. That really hurt, too." Looking as somber as he ever did, Ron rubbed his hands together. "Well, we can even the score right now. Close your eyes."



With another sniff, Kim closed her eyes. The stinging tears began to ebb as she braced herself for his open palm. 'You deserve this,' she told herself, even as she felt a tingle of fear and disbelief; she never thought Ron would ever hit her, not in a million years. Then again, a month ago she never would have thought herself capable of hitting Ron, either. She would take her medicine like a woman, and waited proudly for his slap.



And waited…



And waited…



Growing curious, Kim cracked one eye open. As she did, she saw Ron's fist looming right in her face. His finger was drawn back, and as soon as she peeked, he let if fly with a powerful flick that landed right atop the bridge of her nose. "Ow!" she cried out, stepping back quickly and rubbing at her face. "Ron!"



"Ha! Gotcha!" he laughed, standing with hands on hips and an infuriatingly smug smile.



"Ron, seriously," Kim said, ignoring the pain in her nose. "How can it be that easy?"



"Oh, it's not." he assured her. He grew serious again, this time for real. "I said I never stopped being your friend. That doesn't mean I'm not unbelievably angry at you."



"Oh…"



His smile quickly returned. "But that apology went a long way towards making things better. Plus, the black eye on Will doesn't hurt either, though you would've gotten more bonus points if you had let 'me' do it."



They shared a brief laugh together before it died away, leaving them in uncomfortable silence. "So…" she murmured, looking up at him hopefully. "We're cool?"



"We're getting there," Ron assured her. He reached out and took her hand, intertwining his fingers in hers. "Kim, I said some stuff too, and-"



"Ron, it's okay, really-" she tried to stop him, but he held up a hand.



"Really. This month has…well, it's just sucked, like you said. I never want to go through something like that again. I know I can be annoying sometimes-"



"-just like I can be sort of self-absorbed?" she added with a little smile, which he returned.



"-but plain and simple, you're the best thing that ever happened to me. And I don't want to lose you again. So we'll be cool. Okay?"



She squeezed his hand, drawing it in close. "Deal." They shared another laugh, followed promptly by another uncomfortable silence as they stood there holding hands. Finally, they parted. Kim chuckled nervously, wiping her eyes clear again and brushing a stray lock of glorious red hair from her face. "Great. Now I just have to figure out how I'm gonna convince mom and dad to help me back to Middleton."



Ron frowned. "You're living with your parents again?" he asked.



She nodded glumly. "I cancelled my dorm contract, and now that I'm out of Global Justice, I can't live there. I'll just have to commute, like Jim and Tim do." She looked up hopefully, asking, "Think you could be persuaded to lend a hand?"



A short, bemused laugh escaped his freckled face. "I'll help you move," he said, "But only because you're moving somewhere not nearly as far as Middleton."



"What?" She scowled, confused. "What are you talking about?"



Raising his arms in a gesture, Ron looked around the apartment. "It's not a lot, and I'm told we have a rat problem," he added, looking over at Rufus.



"Hey!" Rufus barked, giving Ron a long, wet raspberry.



"-but it's not a bad place to live, if you'd like."



It was his turn to look expectantly at her, but he didn't receive any kind of answer for several minutes. Kim simply stared at him with a slackened jaw, which he reached out and carefully closed for her. "You can't be serious."



"I got off the phone with your dad about half an hour ago," he said smugly. "The rent's been taken care of, and so has your half of the food and utilities. You're squared away for the next month or so."



The anguish and anxiety Kim had felt when she first came to Ron's apartment vanished entirely. In its place arose a joy like she had never felt before. "Oh my God, Ron!" she leapt forward, snaring him in another hug that threatened to collapse his ribcage. "Thank you," she cried with tears of joy, "Thank you so much!" Without thinking twice, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek, then buried her face into his shoulder.



Ron turned beet red at the kiss. He was thankful Kim couldn't see his face as he reached up, stroking her hair as he cradled her in his arms. "Welcome home, Kim." he whispered.

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"Yeah, everything's squared away." Kim sat on Ron's couch…'their' couch, a week after the reunion, talking into the cordless phone. Rufus sat at her elbow on the armrest, flipping through the channels as they prepared for their new Saturday tradition; movie night. Ron was in the kitchen, trying to get his ancient microwave to produce a decent bag of popcorn.

Leaning back, Kim propped her feet up on the far end of the futon. "So you sure you don't want to come over, Mon? There's always room for one more." She smiled, listening to Monique's excuses with a secret joy. She wouldn't admit it, but it was nice having Ron all to herself once in a while, especially after all that had happened. "Okay, but just remember that the invite's always good. Okay. Okay. I'll talk to you later. Bye, Mon."

"So she's not coming?" Ron asked as he circled around the couch with a large bowl of popcorn and a pair of blankets. It was October already, and the weather had taken a turn for the frosty. Uncle Don kept promising to get the pilot light up and running, but so far they didn't have any heat to speak of. Ron picked Kim's feet up and tossed them off of the futon, sitting down in their place and offering her the bowl.

Kim shook her head, popping some of the snack into her mouth. As always, the master chef had proven his skill, even on something as simple as popcorn. "Nope," she said, savoring the buttery, salty taste. "Said she has some important studying to do. It's just us tonight."

Ron quelled the urge to jump up and cheer. He loved Mon as much as Kim did, but he relished the chance to spend some quality time with the teen superhero. Rufus leapt up to pull a swan dive into their movie snack, but Ron's quick reflexes caught him just in time. To satisfy the rodent's enormous appetite, Ron produced a second bowl of popcorn, which his little pal gratefully dove into.

"Say Ron," Kim said as he got up for the remote, "I've been meaning to ask you something."

"Yeah KP?"

Ignoring the little flutter of joy her heart felt when he called her by her nickname, she pressed ahead. "Back in the launch silo…What Shego said. Is it true?"

Ron froze, and nearly dropped the remote. He glanced back at Kim, trying to discern what she was thinking, but her expression was unreadable. Swallowing nervously, his brain went into overdrive.

'Yes,' he thought, staring into her deep, limpid pools of emerald radiance, 'It's all true. I've loved you for a long time now, and I never, ever, 'ever' want to lose you again in my life. You mean everything to me, KP, and I'd do anything for you…because I love you.'

But of course, he couldn't say that. So he lied through his teeth.

Well, it was more of a half-lie. Those are the most successful kinds, after all. "Of course it is, Kim. You know I love you."

"That's not exactly what she said," Kim pointed out.

Gritting his teeth a moment, Ron said, "Kim, I've known you since pre-K. We've been through everything together, and you mean the world to me. I'd trust you with my life, just like I hope you'd trust me with yours."

She smiled at this. "I already have."

He nodded. "So of course I love you, KP. Just like I know you love me. You're my best friend, and nothing can ever change that."

She seemed satisfied at the answer, and allowed him to return to his seat without further questions. He took one of the blankets, and spread the wide blue material across his lap before offering the green one to Kim. With a knowing grin, she spread this one over him as well. Before he could ask what she was doing, she pulled the edge up and slipped beneath, sliding right next to him.

His heart immediately went into overdrive. "Kim, what're you-"

She shrugged, snuggling up to him. "It's really cold, and you make a pretty good space heater. You don't mind, do you?" He shook his head numbly as she offered him a brilliant smile. "Good." She drew closer still, and rested her head on his shoulder as he wrapped an arm around her waist and held her to him. As the movie began, her hand unconsciously rested on his stomach, and a tiny smile remained glued to her lips…

…because Ron had never been able to lie to Kim.

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The closing credits began to roll, much to Ron's disappointment. Without a doubt, it had been the best two hours of his life. Of course, the movie had been just awful, but he hadn't noticed it. He was too busy memorizing every single detail Kim's body offered him; the scent of her hair, the feeling of her hand, the warmth of her body. It was almost too much to bear, but it was even worse now that it was over.

"Okay, KP," he sighed, leaning forward and turning the television off. "Fun's over. Time to-" He stopped, suddenly becoming aware of her slow, steady breathing. Looking down, he saw her face resting against his shoulder. Her eyes were closed, and a content look had come over her features.

With a smile, Ron stood up carefully so as not to disturb her. He took her in his arms, carrying her like a knight would his princess. If Kim had been awake, she probably would have found it funny; she had never been the damsel in distress type. 'But that doesn't mean she doesn't deserve to be treated like a princess,' Ron thought to himself.

He carried her into her bedroom and tucked her in, pulling the covers over her and adding a blanket to make sure she would stay warm for the night. "Goodnight, KP," he whispered, stroking the hair from her face as he gazed down upon her. "I love you."

Hesitating only a moment, Ron leaned over and kissed her tenderly on the forehead, letting his lips linger a half-second too long. He pulled away quickly, grateful that she was asleep, and tiptoed toward the door with a curious smile on his face. As he left, he did not notice the pair of luminous green eyes staring at him warmly through the darkness.

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=The End=