"Kim! Kim!! What's happening?!" Kim was only vaguely aware of Wade's voice, calling to her from the floor where the Kimmunicator had fallen. The light was mesmerizing. Rufus squeaked and leapt to her shoulder, burying his face in her neck. The contact jolted her out of her stupor and into action. Grabbing on to Rufus so he wouldn't fall, Kim back-flipped over the table and pushed it over onto its side to form a sort of barrier. She reached around the edge to grab the Kimmunicator and then crouched down with her back to the table.
"Wade, what's going on?!" He shook his head.
"I was going to ask you the same thing. All my sensors just went crazy, so I called you to let you know. What's going on there?" Kim peered around the table. The phoenix hadn't taken on a solid form yet; it just hovered in the middle of the gym, a soft, pulsating glow. Every once in awhile it would tremble more violently, causing a new round of tremors to rock the building.
"I...I am SO not sure." Kim answered, returning to her previous position. "It's the... the..." she broke off, not sure she really wanted to say the words aloud. She felt that if she didn't say it, it wasn't happening.
"The phoenix?" Wade asked quietly. She nodded mutely and both of them took a minute to absorb the new information. "Do you have the Kirrnan weapon with you?" Kim's eyes widened and she grabbed her purse.
"I don't know! I planned on bringing it, but I don't remember..." she broke off as she dug through her purse desperately. Finally she stopped and fell back against the table. "Wade... it's not in there." She whispered. He closed his eyes briefly to gather his thoughts and Kim mentally kicked herself. There was no way she could get out of the gym, back to her house, retrieve the device and get back to the school in time. Heck, she wasn't even sure she could get out of the gym!
"Kim, I'll check for other ways out of the school...I think..." she sat up, something catching her gaze. "What is it?" Wade hoped she had seen some kind of way out, but no such luck. Some of the students had settled down enough that they were starting to get restless. One group of boys had started roughhousing and daring each other to touch the glowing orb. Kim knew that this could only end in disaster.
As one of the boys accepted the dare and moved towards the phoenix, Kim, too, began to move. She flipped over the table, leapt towards the DJ's booth, jumped off one of the speakers to grab hold of the banner hanging above. She swung on the banner like it was a rope and sent herself flying out over the phoenix and down to the floor in front of the daring young man.
"I don't think that's such a good idea." She warned, her eyes flashing dangerously as the boy stopped. He appeared to consider if she would be able to stop him or not, but the phoenix seemed to react to either Kim's movements or her nearness. It shivered and shook, causing decorations to crash down from the ceiling and the students to once again huddle back against the walls. Kim looked down to discover that she still clutched the Kimmunicator in her hand. She raised it up.
"Any exits, Wade?" he shook his head, and she frowned. Another quake rippled through the building and one of the younger girls who had come as a senior's date began to cry. Kim rolled her eyes and that's when she spotted it. One of the windows had broken out during one of the tremors. Her eyes darted around the room, searching for some way to get the students up to it and out.
"Wade! Can you get hold of the fire department?"
"Um, I think they're already..." she cut him off.
"Well make sure, and tell them we need ladders and nets. I'm going to get everyone out through the window." He nodded and set about the task.
"Brick!" Kim called out, getting the football player's attention. He came over, a confused light in his eye. "I need you to get the football team together and push the tables and sound equipment over to that wall." She pointed. "Build it up to make a kind of staircase so everyone can get out, ok? The fire department should be sending ladders and nets and stuff to get people down outside." He nodded and ran off to get his team.
"Kim, they're on their way." Kim nodded, but Wade felt the need to continue. "Um, Kim, are you sure you know what you're doing? I mean, everyone needs to get out, but shouldn't you be getting the Kirrnan device?" Kim shook her head grimly.
"Rufus already left. He could squeeze through a hole in the wall. I forgot. Get in touch with my family, let them know he's on his way, and tell them the device is on my dresser. Hopefully they can meet him halfway and save some time." Wade turned to comply and the picture went dark. Kim heard the wailing of the fire engines' sirens and took a deep breath.
"So far so good." She muttered. The phoenix hadn't done anything too drastic yet, and she hoped it would stay that way. All she could do was wait. The seconds seemed to stretch on into minutes and the minutes into years. Finally the boys had the exit rigged and the fire fighters had arrived with the equipment needed on the other side. Students began climbing out as fast as they could, with the teachers trying to maintain a certain amount of order.
"Kim," Wade reappeared, "I just talked to your mom. She said that your dad took the device to meet Rufus. You should have it within a few minutes." She smiled her thanks and stepped back against the wall. Half of the students had made it out so far, and no one had gotten seriously hurt yet. She closed her eyes to gather her nerves. The touch of a hand on her shoulder nearly made her scream, but it was just Monique.
"Kim, you coming?" she looked worried. Kim smiled at her reassuringly.
"No. I have to stop this thing. You go, though." When Monique seemed like she would object she added, "I won't be able to concentrate if I'm worried about bystanders." Her friend took the hint, and, with one last look over her shoulder, she made her way over to the makeshift stairway.
"Kim!" she glanced down at a tug on her skirt and dropped to her knees.
"Rufus! Thank goodness." He held up the device proudly. "You rock, Rufus."
"Awww." He acted modest, then grinned. Kim laughed at his antics, but picked up the device and took a deep breath.
"You sure you want to stick around? I'm not sure what's going to happen when I destroy this thing." she warned. Rufus nodded vigorously. Kim checked to make sure everyone had escaped the gym, then swallowed convulsively. Was this going to work? She steadied her shaking hands and raised the device to aim at the phoenix. She pressed down carefully on the blue button, waiting as the device worked to find all the different components.
"Here goes nothing..." she muttered as the light indicated it was ready to fire. She reached out a trembling finger and placed it on the fuchsia button. "Ready?" She looked down at Rufus. He gulped and grabbed onto her leg.
"One..." he closed his eyes and buried his face in her shin.
"Two..." the ground trembled again, making her struggle to keep her aim.
"Three!" a beam of light shot out of the device in her hand, catching the phoenix squarely in the center. The light given off by the phoenix intensified and a shrill whistle split the air. Kim dropped the device and covered her ears. The noise was growing, building into what sounded like, and may very well have been, a tortured scream. The building shook violently, pieces of the ceiling beginning to collapse. Kim crawled under a table, dragging Rufus with her.
"EEEEEEEEEEEE!" the noise climaxed as the phoenix seemed to be ripped apart at the seams. The explosion sent out a light so bright it temporarily blinded Kim, and any onlookers outside would have surely thought it was some kind of nuclear attack. Suddenly everything went dark. The noise stopped, leaving a silence more deafening than the sound had been.
"Rufus?" Kim whispered, feeling around blindly for the little rodent. "You ok?"
"Mm-hmm." He replied in a shaky voice, grabbing onto her hand. Kim rubbed her eyes trying to regain her sight. As her vision returned, she saw that the gym was completely destroyed. But the phoenix was gone.
"We...we...I think we did it!" Kim murmured exitedly. She raised the Kimmunicator, only to discover that the blast had somehow fried the equipment. "Oh, well." She gave a nervous laugh. Rufus cocked his head, then began to giggle as well. This set Kim off harder, and soon they were both rolling around on the floor laughing in relief.
"OH!" Kim gasped for breath, still chuckling. "Rufus that was..." she broke off suddenly, her gaze caught by something in the middle of the room. Rufus twisted around to see what she was looking at, and froze. There, in the middle of the room, a tiny glow was growing.
"It...it didn't work?" Kim whispered, devastated. Yet something was different about this light. It wasn't a perfect orb, nor the same eerie color. It grew and grew until it was about the size of Mr. Barkin, and then began to fade again, but not all at once. It was as if a hole was growing within the light. A hole that was taking a strange form...
Rufus sat up straighter, his gaze sharpened, intent on the strange behavior of the light. Kim felt the blood draining from her face as the shadow took on a more definite structure. Rufus gave a little cry and leapt from Kim's hands. The light was almost completely faded now, and the figure had solidified. And, for possibly the first time in her life, Kim Possible fainted.
When one has been trapped in an alternate dimension, without a real sense of time or knowledge of the goings-on of one's own universe, it may be expected that one would feel disoriented upon reentering one's own continuum. Such, strangely, can not be said of Ron Stoppable. Having spent the better part of a month and a half in a type of limbo composed of little more than bright light, he was oddly relaxed not a bit confused to find himself standing in the destroyed remnants of his high school gymnasium.
Well, no more confused or disoriented than is normal for him, anyway. He glanced around and wondered vaguely what had happened, but was distracted from this line of thought by a familiar squeal and the sight of his best buddy racing towards him in a pink blur.
"Rufus!!" They came together in a reunion deserving of long-lost brothers, for each had thought the other dead. "You're ok! How...why...what..." he was quite unable to get an intelligent sentence together. For his part, Rufus simply clung to Ron for dear life, rubbing his face against Ron's cheek and chittering nonsense words. It took a few moments, but eventually Ron regained a sense of his surroundings. That was when he realized that there was something wrong with the whole picture.
"KP!" Depositing Rufus in his pocket, Ron hurried over to where his best friend lay unconscious. Having no knowledge of the events leading up to the destruction of the gym, he understandably thought her to be injured in some way, and set out trying to wake her up. He met with only slight success, as she opened her eyes, took one look at him, and passed out all over again.
"Humph. Kim, come ON! Wake up!" he spotted the Kimmunicator, and thought to get Wade's advice, but as he picked it up he realized the battery was fried. "Hmmmm." He turned it over in his hands and was surprised when it flickered to life.
"Kim! Oh good, I thought..." Wade was bust messing with some printouts and hadn't looked up. "...I wasn't going to be able to reach you again. My readings say everything is normal, but...hey! What the...!?" he examined a computer screen that had suddenly come to life. "Kim! You are NOT going to believe this! It's..." he looked up and fell silent, his eyes wide and face pale. "Ron." He finished.
"Hey Wade!" Ron answered cheerfully.
"Uh, yeah...." He wasn't sure why Wade looked as if he'd seen a ghost, but he looked over his shoulder in case there was something behind him causing this strange reaction. There wasn't.
"Ron...I can't belive...you're..." he straightened suddenly. "Where's Kim?"
"She's right here. I don't know what happened, but she's unconscious. I got her to wake up once, but then she passed out again. I think she needs to go to the hospital or some...what?!" he broke off as Wade had started laughing hysterically. Ron considered the option that perhaps he had returned to an alternate universe. One in which everybody was crazy. Wade struggled to get himself under control.
"Ron..." he gasped for air. "do you know how long you've been gone?" Ron shook his head. "Heck, forget gone...Ron, you've been DEAD for over a month!" Ron blinked.
"Uh, no. I don't think so! Hel-lo? I'm right here!" he said indignantly.
"Yeah, but everyone THINKS you died in the battle with the phoenix. We even had a memorial service for you. Your parents were really upset. Well, of course they were, but..." he trailed off, just starting to realize everything that would need to be done to bring Ron "back to life". Ron glanced at Kim, who, though still unconscious, was beginning to stir.
"That's it!" Wade suddenly burst out. "Shioa didn't die! It's been you all this time! You and Shioa trying to get you back into this universe! That explains the earthquakes... Kim's paper!" Ron shrugged, not really understanding any of this. "Ron. You have to go away."
"What?!" Wade shook his head impatiently.
"Not far. Just so Kim can't see you. I'm going to have to explain this to her."
"Why?" Wade But I'm not sure Kim can take seeing you just yet. She's obviously fainted twice because of it. It's a real shock." Ron hesitated, but then Kim moaned and he shrugged.
"Ok." He put down the Kimmunicator and stood. The screen blipped off. "Huh?" He bent down to pick it up and it turned on again.
"Wade, what are you doing?"
"I'm not doing anything...it must be that the Kimmunicator is powering itself off residual energy from your encounter with the phoenix." Ron blinked.
"You're going to have to have Rufus tell her. Go over behind the tables." Ron rolled his eyes, but did as Wade instructed. And not a minute too soon, either, as Kim sat up, putting a hand to her head.
"Wha...?" She seemed to recall the situation and sat up straighter, looking around wildly. Rufus scuttled over to her and she reached down to pick him up.
"Ok, that was weird. Oh, Rufus, I'm such an idiot." She sighed to herself, believing it all to have been a dream. A few tears began to escape her eyes and roll down her cheeks. She had been avoiding thinking about Ron for so long, refusing to examine her feelings. And now... now she had thought he was alive, and to wake up and realize it was all a dream, it hurt more than she could admit. Rufus threw a wild, desperate look towards the tables where Ron was hidden, and then grabbed Kim's face in his tiny paws. He didn't know how he was supposed to tell her, so he just looked her in the eye and tried to convey his thoughts to her.
"Ow! Rufus, what...?" he had a kind of desperate look in his eye...desperate and...excited? Kim felt her heart skip a beat, but tried to stomp out the traitorous hope trying to well up inside her. She stood and looked around for her Kimmunicator, feeling the hope gaining the upper hand in the battle within her as she realized it wasn't where she had last seen it. In fact, it was nowhere to be found.
"Rufus..." she said carefully, "where's the Kimmunicator?" He slid down to the ground, jumping up and down in excitement, and motioned for her to follow. She swallowed and took a deep breath. She approached the stacked tables and equipment that had served as the escape route earlier, and couldn't quite keep from trembling. Absurdly, as she surrendered to the hope that... is it possible?... Ron may still be alive, she felt an almost greater fear that, now that she had recognized and admitted her feelings, he may not feel the same.
The light in the gym was dim, and as she neared the tables she began to be able to distinguish the figure of a person. Her breath caught, and her heart started pounding. She stumbled forward a few more steps, and then her courage gave out. What if it wasn't him? What if it was some kind of trick? What if...? The figure stepped forward, concern for her obvious distress written all over that familiar face.
"Kim? You O-..." he never managed to get the question out, as Kim launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and bursting into tears. He returned the hug, but was unsure of what to say.
"Well, if I had known coming back would make you THIS unhappy..." he tried to joke, but broke off as she raised her head and he caught a glimpse of her face. It looked... well, he didn't know how it looked, but he could tell she hadn't appreciated his joke.
"Sorry..." he muttered. Kim just leaned back, studying his face as if trying to memorize it, and he began to feel a little uncomfortable. "Kim..." He quieted, not sure what exactly to say, as she blinked away some more tears. She took a few sobbing breaths and tried to calm herself.
"Ron...I..." she shuddered with the effort to regain some semblance of control. She closed her eyes, gathering her thoughts. When she opened them, he was taken aback by the emotion in them. "I thought you were...I..." she sighed, suddenly seeming to relax and she hugged him tightly again. "I missed you."
The words where whispered, yet they seemed to have been torn from her and held a wealth of emotions Ron couldn't even begin to unravel. She clung to him as if he were a rock, and he felt absurdly pleased by that fact. He had never really felt so...so...NEEDED before. And somewhere in the strange pool of emotions, some of them Kim's that she couldn't quite conceal and he couldn't quite understand, some of them his own, he felt something give way, and it was if he were coming alive for the first time.
"I missed you too." She looked up at him and their eyes met and he finally understood how something so powerful could be born from the ashes.