Author's Note: IF YOU DON'T READ THE AUTHOR'S NOTE- READ THIS ONE NOW! This is the last instalment of Tension Living, the story is now complete. As said in the story description, this story is a trilogy and will be continued in Equal Romance 02. If you have me added to your author alert, you'll be sent an e-mail when the second story is uploaded.
The second story will be a near direct continuation. Many questions I'm constantly being asked will be revealed: 'What's in Ron's drawer?' and 'What's wrong with Ron, why's he so sick?' and 'wth will KIM JUSTSTARTMAKINOUTZWITHTHEBOYANDHAVEHISBABIEZ?'. I hope you'll all investigate the second story.
I am so freaking sorry it took so long to get this one out, I was not expecting it to take this long. Real life ambushed me with deadlines, it was horrible! I want to thank everyone for reading this story, especially those of you who have stuck through with it from beginning to end. It really gives me that extra push to continue writing. Sometimes it seems daunting, what I've gotten myself into (it's over 500 pages in WinWord). But you guys reassure me that I'm going the right thing. I don't want to abandon this story like I did with other ones I began writing (heh). I want to prove to myself that I can finish a story this large from beginning to end.
Thank-you, one and all to everyone who read the story, but of course I'll go out of my way to personally thank everyone who reviews the story. For you to stop and take the time to write your thoughts on the story and send them to me... I can not express my gratitude. Thank-you ever so much, hearts aplenty to you all.
To my wonderful reviewers: Classic Cowboy, Geor-sama, Jokerisdaking, John Steppenwolf, captainodak1, Fuzzie Muzzie, MtnRon, Bratty, Gryfffinrose, Fernnu, Ashley, anonymous, JulesFire, Nakasumisan24, Forlong, kimnronever, chibi-sama, Chief316, kpShadowGirl, starandrobin4everfan, silver-badger, Cold-Chaos, anon, nebulia, The X Factor, Tim821182, CPO3, Razzle Jazzle, Capital-C, continental-line, Sukari, Sessha WaRurouni, CotnShort, Ace Lannigan, Liliac Moon, WaterGirl14, Yumiki-chan, Dragonslayer527, Masau, ryan McGrady, Tanya16, icegaze, Crystal-One, robin richardson, Ptashi, Charlene, Ally (thank-you for standing up for me! That was such a pleasant surprise, luvuuuu) and Loo (Send me those StDs and I'll send you my Rondrugs- INSERT SHIFTY EYES HERE. And thank-you for standing up for me too, luvU, luvU!).
A. KiNG! (SE)
¤ Instalment 12 »» Prelude to Obscure Ways ¤
Will I become loved just by leaving hints?
Will I be despised for being a liar?
(You said my love doesn't mean a thing)
(That's because you don't know how much I love you)
-Utada Hikaru, 'Conclusions'
Ron ran all the way home in a flurried torrent. With his bag slung over his shoulder, his mission clothes still clutched to his chest in his arms and the package in his tight fist, he flew down the streets with his head hung low. The tears were finally starting to break free. The night engulfed him and the air surrounding was by far colder now at night that he shivered, but the shiver could have also been from his now radical crying.
He'd blown everything. Everything.
Not just the blossoming relationship with Kim that he had wanted since, well, forever. But, most importantly, he lost his friendship with Kim. As much as Ron wanted to be with Kim, to be with her romantically, he wanted her friendship most of all. It was always inside him, the first priority. He had been willing to sacrifice his desire for her for friendship instead in the past and now… they were both gone. Both slipped out of his hands like water. He had nothing.
Tears flew down his cheeks, whipping into his updraft behind him. Already he was crying, letting out gasping, chocking sobs. The tears gathered in his eyes and blurred his vision. Ron stumbled terribly as he ran, crying in horrible, racking sounds.
He could barely make it to his house. No, he couldn't make it. He couldn't… O, Kim! But he did, somehow, he was already at his house steps.
Now he knew. Now he truly knew what it must have been like for Kim when she had run home from Bueno Nacho after Josh had caught them together. Is this how wretched she had felt inside to the full extent?
He was stumbling so badly now that he tripped and his knee slammed into one of the cement steps as he crashed down, dropping everything he held, both of his free palms scrapped and tore his skin, they burned more than a rug burn on the cement. But it wasn't as searing as the slap she had delivered him. The slap still exploded Ron's face so fiercely for she had struck him with every force she had within her aided by her delirious rage. Even when Ron's tears ran down his cheek, he felt his face burn even more from the blow.
Ron hissed as the fire etched his skin from the scrape and his face yet still he sobbed with the pain from loosing Kim. Of her yelling at him… and how he thought him a horrible person! How could she have come to those conclusions! After all he did for her? Ron lay where he fell, his body stretched across the stairs. He folded his arms on the top step, burying his face in his arms, continuing his cries.
He would give anything for Kim, hadn't he shown that to her? Everything he said. In the bog, at the dock, outside Drakken's Lair and when she had been jilting about Josh… How could she think him using her when he had done all that for her? Even with the… package that had slipped out of his pocket. He had just picked it up! He was so furious with himself that he had even dared to take it.
Ron sobbed more and more, laying there on the steps of his house in the night. He was so sick with what had just happened, he was unable to stand himself up and go inside to the privacy of his own house. If Ron looked up, everything would only be a blur. After some time, Rufus came to him and patted Ron on the arm with comfort. Looking up, Ron sniffed back some tears and scooped his little friend up. At least he still had Rufus.
His right hand shaking, Ron pulled out his keys and stepped inside his house. Everything was dark meaning his parents were asleep. Ron was thankful for he honestly didn't feel like talking with his parents at the moment… Ron resisted the urge to run up into his room and slam the door. That would wake his parents and anger them, that and he'd rather stay inconspicuous. He could barely deal with Kim's anger (if you could call it 'dealing'), he didn't need his parent's anger either.
Thinking of that made him cover his mouth with another sob. Ron felt that Kim was the only person in the entire world that truly cared for him… not anymore. And it was all his own fault. He couldn't believe he lost Kim…
Once inside the safety of his own room (and taking care to shut his door softly) Ron threw his bag and clothing down on the floor carelessly, along with his tuxedo jacket and mission clothes, then he just stood in his room. Standing.
He didn't move, didn't even seem to blink, until Rufus leapt onto his desk and chattered to him, pointing at the computer. Lifting his head, Ron tilted it to one side as if he suddenly forgot how to understand his own pet.
Rufus sat on his hind legs, blinking at Ron until he came and sat down in his swivel chair and booted up the computer.
His hand out in front of him, Ron opened his fist, looking down at the package. Repulsed, he threw it into the trash can, his lip curling; too small for him anyway.
Dully, Ron logged on to the Instant Messenger service and felt himself flush and his heart beat tumultuously inside his chest. Kim's SN, her screen name, was shown as being online. He sucked in his breath. Should he? Why not, it was some form of communication and Ron had to get through to her.
Breathing steadily, he opened the window to contact her and began to type…
StopRonnable: kim, listen, i really need to talk to yu about what just happened. plz listen to me, kay? Just hear me out,kp cos i think i know what yu heard. my thoughts right? lol-i can totally explain that, it's just a misunderstanding. wanna talk?
He hit the enter button, sending his message and could barely keep his eyes open as he awaiting Kim's reply. The computer screen was the only light source in his room and it burned into his anticipating eyes, anticipating Kim's willingness to talk through their argument. It could be settled so easily! She just had to IM him back. But it never came. She logged off.
Ron sat there dumbfounded, staring at the computer screen as if it had just shouted obscenities at him. His cheek chose that moment to flare pain and he clutched his face, letting out a gasp. Flustered, Ron noticed that Monique was online too. Even though she was more Kim's friend than his, he attempted to contact her regardless…
StopRonnable: yo, monique, can i ask yu a q?
If Kim had yet spoken to Monique about the argument, she appeared to show no alliance with Kim because, thankfully, she responded in good nature.
FashionChick: Sure, Ron, wassup :3?
StopRonnable: have yu spoken to kp? like, just before she signed off?
FashionChick: No. I haven't spoken to her :x. And, Ron, she's not signed off. Not on my Buddy List, anyway o.o;.
StopRonnable: she isn't? yu mean she's showing as being online on yur list?
FashionChick: It's what I said, Ron :B. Maybe the IM system is bugging out on you, it's done that to me before ;0.
But no. Ron leaned back in his seat. He knew the Instant Messenger system was not bugging out on him. It could only be one thing. Biting his lower lip he realised she had blocked him. He was unable to IM her anymore until she unblocked him.
Ron scrunched up his fists. He should have typed out everything he wanted to say to her all at once and send that to her! Then maybe she would have read it… Not ask her if she wanted to talk! Of course she didn't want to! She made that perfectly clear back in her room. Well sue me for being a gentleman! Kim, you never listen to me.
The phone! She had caller ID and Ron doubted she'd answer the phone but he reached for his red telephone anyway. Hitting his speed dial button, Ron waited, pacing back and forth restlessly. Still impatient, he flopped down onto his bed facing his blank television screen. His eyes darted to the window, reaching up, he pulled down the blinds as he waited and waited… and then…
There was nothing. Ron dropped the phone in horror, it landed on his blue bed sheets. She'd unplugged her phone.
With that, Ron tossed himself onto his other side, burying his head deep into his blue pillows. What to do! Ron Stoppable would not stand to be ignored forever! He cared for Kim way too much for that… she was his 'the only' after all. How could Ron count her out of his life?
This is just so freaking stupid. I can't believe we're letting a stupid misunderstanding tear our friendship apart. Ok, I'm so hating PMS right now.
If Kim would not speak to him online, nor listen to him in her room or pick up the telephone then there was only one choice left and that was to wait until to-morrow if he wanted to speak to her… He doubted she'd listen to him even then.
Ron predicted she'd ignore him all day even if they did share all their classes together. She'd sit elsewhere, certainly no-where near him. Kim wouldn't sit at her usual seat with him at lunch… What if he tried to approach her? Would she make a public mockery of him? With the slap still blazing on his face he concluded that he no longer knew what a violently angered Kim was capable of anymore. What about after school? She certainly wouldn't be at Bueno Nacho. She'd be at her favourite hang-out: Club Banana at the mall, if she dared to go.
At the mall…
Ron lifted his head…
What if he could help patch things? Other than just making desperate attempts to contact her? Maybe sway her into his favour a little by showing how sorry he was? And how could he do this..?
An idea hit him.
Approaching the mall, even in the dark, he could see the security guards walking up to the mall doors about to lock them. Ron streaked for the mall doors with the help of the parking lot lights still shinning down on the very few remaining cars in the lot.
No… his mind raced which channelled speed into his feet. He had to do this to-night, school would start before the mall opened to-morrow, there wouldn't be any time then! And he had to do this as quickly as possible, he needed Kim's forgiveness. The sooner, the better… He had to show her how much he cared.
Everything she had spat at him reeled in his mind again, his stinging cheek and he felt his legs weakening as if every insult she'd thrown at him was slowly tearing him down… It hurt him immensely to think of what Kim had assumed of him.
C'mon, Stoppable… reach the doors… Ron broadened his strides and was practically flying through the parking lot now (it was a good thing mostly everyone had left or no car driver would see him coming and be able to break in time).
He almost smacked into the glass doors as he skidded to a breathless halt in front of the mall doors (was he ever glad he didn't have a fever right then!). He need to take a moment to breathe… his chest was so tightly constraining and Ron was gasping loudly for air. But he wouldn't allow himself to collapse just yet.
Ron burst into the mall, the security guards wheeling around and shouting as he ran past: 'What are you doing, kid?', 'slow down there', 'hey, get back here, the mall's closed!' and 'I shouldn't have eaten that last doughnut!'.
But Ron didn't care about them or the fact that he was running away from a security guard when shouted at to stop which could land him in trouble. Instead, Ron determinately directed himself down the mall halls, the security guards both heaving exasperated sighs and giving chase (just when they thought the day was done!). For all they knew, he could be some sort of mental thief or kamikaze sword wielder. At least with his brown hair, they didn't recognise him as the blonde-haired kid with the wild freaky-thing who was temporarily banned from the mall.
Ron's sneakers slapped the clean, clear surface of the mall floor as he ran and left skid marks when he skidded to yet another halt… outside the Collector's Den. Inside, his heart thumped wildly in his chest, not just from the run, but from the fact that the doors had been closed and the cashier was at the till counting his money for the day.
Anxiety and adrenaline surged through Ron as he felt the horrible feeling of wanting to drop to his knees and vomit. But instead he held it all in and banged loudly on the clear plastic, eager to be let in.
His berating successfully caught the attention of the store owner who regarded him warily before approaching and debating with himself on whether or not to let in this panicked, flushed and breathless looking boy into his shop. Half of him worried if he was some sort of psycho bent on killing him for his money but when he took a look into the boy's grey eyes, he saw the pain and desperation inside. It was then that he decided to unlock the door and slide it open.
"Uhh, I'm sorry but we're closed now. The mall doors should have already been locked."
"Please…" Ron begged, still panting. His face where Kim had slapped him was practically glowing red from the flush of his run. "Look, like, I just need to buy something, I know what I want-"
The cashier shook his head, "I'm sorry, you can come back to-morrow though-"
"Dude! It'll be too late to-morrow!" Ron coloured, foreboding rushing fervently into his voice. His face was absolutely panic stricken. Without realising it, he lurched forwards in his despondency, the cashier inclined to catch him if he fell but Ron regained his stance. "C'mon, please? I won't be long…"
The cashier stood with a straight back, looking down at Ron who huddled before him looking dreadfully pained. There was something behind this, he could tell, he could see the infliction in his eyes.
"Alright, but make it quick," the cashier replied, stepping aside to allow Ron inside. By then the security guards had reached the store and gave the cashier a confused look. He could only shrug and step behind the till.
Ron did know what he wanted, going straight for the shelf of Cuddle Buddies and plucked a very specific one off the shelf. Instead of going straight to the counter, Ron went to the other side of the small walk-in closet store and picked out a little bag, a card with an envelope and a package of crepe paper. He placed all four items on the counter and proceeded to pull out his wallet.
"A Rabphin, h'm?" the cashier spoke while ringing up the charge. "A gift?"
"Yea," Ron replied almost in irritation without looking up, shifting through the bills in his wallet.
"A special gift?" the cashier pressed.
The charge of the bill showed up on the screen and Ron began to deal out the bills. "Very."
After paying for the items, Ron left the mall hurriedly with his purchase in a logo-less white plastic bag and the two dumpy security guards walking slightly behind him. Either to make sure he really left or to lock the doors, he wasn't sure.
Rufus came out of Ron's pocket only when he and Ron were far from the mall and walking down the main street. He crawled up on Ron's shirt to ride on top of his owner's shoulder, the cool breeze of the September night air rustling his whiskers. He turned to Ron, perplexity in his black eyes. Ron caught his little buddy's expression and let out a sigh.
"Rufus, I… I just dunno why she said what she did, y'know?" Ron spoke softly as he took his time home. "I mean, I do… but I don't."
Rufus shook his little mole-rat head.
"Girls are so weird like that. I… I thought we were… Everything… everything we said and dead and she exploded at me like that. Like whoah, how can she do that, right?" Suddenly his soft abused pain turned into cold anger. "She lies to me, Rufus! She does this all the time. This is, like, the what-th time that she says these things to me and says she means them and then totally forgets em! I just…. I dunno what to do anymore! Nothing I ever do is good enough for her."
Rufus squeaked his pain for Ron. He pointed with a claw to Ron's bag, "Gift?"
"Yea, I hope the gift will do something…" Ron sighed again and stared down at the little white bag. "I've gotta make her understand that everything I said and did was totally true. I did not do the hand-holding thing on purpose and I did not make-out with her just cos she's hot and popular. She should know that, I mean, like c'mon, we've known each other since Pre-K."
Ron was again careful when pulling out his keys and quietly unlocked his front door, slipping inside. Locking the door behind him and pulling off his shoes, Ron padded softly upstairs, past the darkened sitting room and back up to his room.
Ron sat down in his chair in front of his monitor and shook the mouse to chase away his screensaver. Checking his buddy list, Kim had still not unblocked him, but was he really expecting her to? Mostly everyone was signed off so Ron logged off as well and pushed his keyboard shelf back under the desk.
He dumped the contents of his shopping trip onto his desk and placed them out in front of him. Taking out a working pen from a cup holder, Ron tapped it a few times as he thought about what to write inside the card that now lay open in front of him.
What could he say inside the card? There was so much he wanted to say, but he knew that he'd still have to edit it down, but he couldn't edit it too much or the message he wanted to send across might not go through to her.
Ron pressed his ink pen to the card and proceeded to write inside. He wrote more than expected and cursed himself repeatedly whenever he made a spelling error or selected the wrong word (which he'd cross out and rewrite) or when his hand would smudge the ink.
After signing his name, Ron sat back to reread what he'd written, it was then he realised he should have typed out or wrote on another paper his rough draft; it was far from perfect but the meaning was clear and that's all that mattered to him. He hoped it would be all that mattered to Kim.
Leaving the ink to air-dry, Ron ripped open the package of crepe paper and began to stuff it inside the gift bag he'd purchased. He tried to make it look artsy rather than crinkled and messy, but like the card, he could only do his best.
Making sure his hands were clean of ink, Ron gingerly picked up the Rabphin. With its cute little black plastic eyes peering at Ron pitifully, he placed it inside the bag with exaggerated caution. Inside, it was hidden beneath the top layers of pink and light yellow crepe paper which flowered out of the top of the bag.
With the card fully dried, Ron placed it inside the envelope, sealing it with a lick (and a look of disdain after tasting the seal) and wrote 'To Kim' on the front then finally tucked it inside the bag with the Rabphin.
Rufus watched sitting on the desk as Ron did all of this then looked on at Ron as he leaned back in his chair, just quietly observing the gift he'd completed. But he wasn't done yet, there was more to do if Ron truly expected Kim to forgive him.
Together, Ron and Rufus glanced at the clock on Ron's wall. It was very late by now and Ron's body was certainly telling him it was time for sleep. That day he had another one of his fevers that day, danced around on the dance floor, had a hot make-out (two, actually), climbed a rock cliff, scrubbed a bathroom… Yes, the boy really did need his sleep. After all, there was school to endure the following day… or later to-day to be precise.
Ron defied his body's wishes and stretched out a hand for Rufus to leap onto and scamper back up to his shoulder. Hushed, Ron crept back downstairs, tip-toeing down the carpeted stairs and down into the kitchen.
Flicking on the light, Ron strode over to the counter, Rufus scampering down his arms as Ron repeatedly tapped the counter in a quick rethink of the recipe. It was extremely simple to someone as experienced and skilful as Ron, but it would do the trick.
He silently reminded himself he'd have to watch his clock when his treats hit the oven for if the buzzer went off for the whole household to hear Ron knew he'd be in serious trouble. He would also take care to do the dishes afterwards so he would leave no sign of his being here.
Pulling out the right bowls and pan along with the various ingredients, Ron buckled down and began to bake. Except this time he had a special ingredient to add, one that was close to his heart.
She had walked to school with Monique that morning, only before being scolded for blocking her Father's car with the hovercraft last night ("You know how I feel about these… flying cars, Kimmie!"). The two girl friends arrived at school earlier than usual since they both took one of the before-school classes, political science, starting at seven o'clock.
"You sure, you're ok?" Monique asked, holding her textbook and halting outside Kim's locker. "You look like you hardly got any sleep last night!" Ever since Kim had arrived unexpectedly at Monique's front door, she noticed something was quite different with her friend. Her whole manner, body language, expressions; Kim appeared dull and almost like a ghost, just gliding through life without actually interacting.
Presently, Kim shrugged, her hair and eye colour back to normal,tugging down the bottom of her teal t-shirt. It wasn't the warmest wear for September for it revealed her midriff, but she didn't really care about much that morning when dressed into her teal tee and dark maroon pants. It was comfortable clothing and that's all that Kim was really focusing on that morning. Something to feel comfortable in. "Not really, yesterday was… eventful."
"Alright, lemme just put some textbooks away in my locker; I'll be right back," Monique replied and walked off towards her locker, but she gave one last look over her shoulder at Kim who seemed to almost waver in her spot, her sore eyes never focusing on anything.
Alone, with barely any students passing her, Kim let out a sigh, resting her forehead on her locker door. It was true though, what Monique had said.
Last night, Kim hardly had a wink of sleep. All night, she had locked herself up in her room, not coming out despite the desperate and demanding pleas and beseeches of her parents below her trap door. With all the yelling Kim had done, they must have come rushing up and probably intercepted Ron as he was leaving. They obviously had not divulged any information from him what with them constantly asking her what was wrong, what happened and whether or not Kim was ok.
No, she wasn't ok. She had ignored her parents, scrunching herself up on her bed, tightly hugging her little Pandaroo and cried for what felt like decades. She cried through the entire night and right when she thought she was done crying, she'd think of certain memories (her on the sofa with him, then dancing, finding the package, his thoughts…) and begin to cry all over again. Kim estimated that she probably had around two hours or less of sleep last night. It was worse than when she had cried for Josh, that afternoon when they came home from Bueno Nacho. It was much worse. Kim didn't think she had ever cried so much in her life, not ever. And why should she have?
It was for Ron.
His name crept back into her mind and she gritted her teeth. His name brought emotions to Kim, so many emotions. Her eyes brimmed with fresh tears just thinking about him, but then her teeth gritted in anger in how he could have done what he had done.
She was still dumbfounded. While she cried through the night, she tried over and over to convince herself she was wrong. But how could she be when they were his own thoughts. How could he have betrayed her like he did? She wanted to know when he had started to conceive his plans. She wanted to know when he had stopped being sincere and what was the real Ron. Kim could not allow herself to believe that Ron would ever do that to her. To her.
But then she was aware of how, in the past, his drastically his caring, loyal and gentle personality could twist and deform into a big-headed, cold and rude attitude. And yes, he had been like that with her before, particularly when he received his first cheque from his Naco royalties, but still… she couldn't believe he would take it this far and with her. Kim! His best friend since, like, ever!
It wasn't just how he had destroyed their recently blossoming relationship. She wasn't just upset because of these new feelings for him, but because he had torn their friendship. Not just memories of the last seven days came back to Kim when she thought of his betrayal, but memories of all the fun times they had when they had just been best friends. Sitting on the sofa watching TV, chatting late at night on the phone, goofing around in Bueno Nacho…
Kim shook her head, still in deep reminisce. She felt herself a fool and an idiot for their intimacies yesterday. She had thought he had shared her feelings, but no. That's not what he wanted from her. She couldn't believe he had been so willing to play on her feelings just to… to…
Kim's lip curled and she lifted her head and began to swivel the dial to open her locker. Never again. Never again would she fall for something like that. Well, if that's who the real Ron was—if the real Ron was that big-headed snob and not the loyal, dependable goof that was his façade—then she would take no more of it.
Intense was the wound that he had dealt her, mostly since their friendship had been so close, and for so long. Not only that but it had been developing into something stronger, and that wound was now being covered by her anger.
Kim opened her locker and recoiled as if she had been slapped across the face when she stood in her shock to see something inside that she herself had not placed there. Cautiously, Kim brought her finger to her mouth as she peered close at the little gift bag which sat situated in front of her computer accompanied by a pink frosted cupcake with sprinkles.
Laying down her textbooks in hand on the shelf underneath the computer, Kim used both of her free hands to reach for the little card that was attached to the drawstring on the bag. The card simply read 'To Kim'.
Suddenly she frowned in suspicion as if it was Drakken himself who left a deadly Trojan Horse type gift inside her locker. But it wasn't Drakken where her suspicions lay. Besides, the sprinkled, pink-frosted cupcake beside basically screamed whom it was from.
Again, Kim's lip curled in disgust, she didn't even want to look inside the gift bag. She didn't care what was inside even if she had no guess as to what it could be. All she knew was that it was from Ron. Some pathetic act to patch up the screw-up he had unknowingly divulged to her. But Kim was more intelligent for a stupid gesture like this. It was so obvious. She rolled her eyes, like she was going to go crawling back to him when she knew what he was really like! Did he actually believe she was that gullible?
She did a double take when from the corner of her eye, she saw Ron himself in his black and white shirt and the blue jeans approach his locker which was always situated a few over from her own. Kim glared at him as he didn't even turn her way, she could see clearly where she had struck him last night. That area of his face was still glowing with red.
It was so obvious he chose this moment to reach his locker to see whether or not she had accepted his gifts and give her a chance to come gushing over to him. Kim sneered.
Behind Ron, Kim saw Monique walking down the hall coming back from her locker. "Hey, Ron!" Monique called cheerfully. Although she had told Monique about their hand detachment (for it was obvious when Kim arrived at Monique's doorstep with no Ron at her side), she had spoken nothing about their explosively torn friendship.
Ron turned to face Monique, "Hey," he said shortly, and turned back to his locker; Rufus on his shoulder also giving Monique a greeting of his own.
Monique frowned as she walked past Ron and stopped when she reached Kim. Turning around to give a curious look at Ron, she said to Kim: "What's with him? He ok?"
Kim held back her tongue when she had the urge to give a sharp reply. She shrugged stiffly, showing her awkward discomfort with the question. "How should I know?" She received a disbelieving look from Monique but before her friend could say anything, Kim held out her hand. "Here, you can have this, I don't eat carbs this early in the day."
Monique frowned, retracting her arms as she looked down at the cupcake Kim had thrust at her. Tentatively, Monique reached out and took the cupcake. "Um… thaaaanks…" Clearly she was unsure if she was thankful.
Kim was about to close her locker and walk with Monique to class when the shattering sound of a locker slamming came from behind both girls. The startling sound caused Monique to whip around to see Ron placing both palmed hands on his now shut locker door. He hung his head, gritting his teeth. With wide eyes, Monique continued to watch Ron, but stretched out her hand to give the cupcake back to Kim. Obviously there was something going on between him and Kim…
Without a backwards glance, Ron carried his textbook under his arm and walked off towards the political science classroom. When Monique turned back to Kim, she saw her friend was standing stock still with a straight back, her eyes following Ron as he rounded the corner and disappeared.
"Uh," Monique started nervously, "I really think this is for you…" she said, giving the cupcake back to Kim.
But Kim held up her hands and turned her head away. "I said I don't want it. Throw it away if you don't want to eat, just don't give it back to me."
On that note, Kim stalked off to class leaving Monique behind who sighed and stared at the cupcake in her hand.
"Just give her a couple of days and she'll come around," Felix consoled at Lunch Time sitting with Ron in the cafeteria. "She's just upset right now. You two have been friends for so long, a fight about a misconception won't tear you two apart for long."
Ron sighed; he hadn't touched anything on his food tray. Rufus was sitting beside the tray and stole snippets as Ron sat dejectedly with his friend, he doubted he'd be able to eat anything on his tray at all. Felix Renton watched as Ron pushed away the tray giving Rufus the full invite to eat as much as he desired (which would be all of it). When Ron had met up with Felix in the cafeteria instead of sitting with Kim as per usual, Felix had naturally inquired and from there, Ron had divulged everything that had happened, his argument with Kim and then everything that had occurred that morning at his and Kim's lockers.
Observing how nothing he had said took any effect on Ron, Felix attempted another go to cheer his buddy up. "She misunderstood your thoughts, Ron. She doesn't hate you, she hates the person she made up in her mind from the thoughts she overheard. Kim didn't hear all of your real thoughts. C'mon, Ron, just wait a bit then you can approach her telling her about how it's all one big misunderstanding."
Ron still hung his head, not really focusing on anything. "Yea…" he replied, flushed. "I just… everything was coming along! Everything was finally turning out how it was supposed to… I mess everything up, I'm such a loser." He hit his head on the table, flipping out Rufus who froze in mid bite, his eyes popping in surprise.
"Y'know, she didn't even sit in her usual seat during the morning classes. It's cos we usually sit together… she doesn't wanna be anywhere near me…" Ron lifted his head, but didn't look at Felix or Rufus. "Not even in Home Ec, we usually work together but… she worked in a different station with Crystal and Maggie! Even in Comp-S, she sat at a diff puter."
Felix looked down at Ron sympathetically. Being new in town and not knowing the relationship between Kim and Ron, he had first mistaken them for a couple when he first met them together that night at the Middleton Fair. Once he discovered (after a long time) that they were only 'just best friends', Felix became aware and suspected Ron to have a thing for Kim. Although he never knew how deep that 'thing' was until now. If he had spoken to Monique, however, he would have gotten the full, true story much earlier.
"Hey, Ron, cheer up, ok?" Felix continued. He eyed the area on Ron's face that was a bright red, "You said yourself Kim has a quick temper, so you know she'll come out of it."
"But… she was so furious with me…" Ron stammered, resting his chin on the table and hugging himself; a shiver ran down his spine. "I don't think I've ever been so frightened of her, she was totally pissed with me, man…" Lifting up his arms, he crossed them (how strange that felt, using both arms!) and buried his head into them on the table counter.
Felix could only continue with encouraging words, not that any of them would do any good.
"You know what, I'll be right back," Ron stood up and picking up his tray. "I think I'll go back in line and grab something to eat after all," his eyes darted down at Rufus accusingly.
The rodent just belched, unapologetic.
If I'm not attached to him anymore, why do I feel like I can still feel his emotions? Kim thought, her hair hanging unusually low on her face, almost covering one eye as she watched Ron with a fallen face from across the cafeteria where she sat with Monique and a couple of Monique's friends.
Kim poked at her entrée with her fork dispiritedly as the conversations Monique and her friends had about the latest fashions all flowed through her mind with barely a trace.
She had been so enraged at the daring move Ron had done that morning. How he had tried to suck up to her by baking her something as stupid and generic as a cupcake and then there was the whatever in the gift bag. All through Political Science class she defiantly unacknowledged Ron's presence and remained so throughout they day, in Psychology, Computer Sciences, Math and even Home Economics.
Because she sat in the middle with Monique to her left and Ron to her right in Politcal Science, she made sure to sit on Monique's other side but if she had been given the chance, she would have seated herself much further away from Ron.
In Home Ec they had mainly just taken down notes that their teacher had dictated. She was glad they weren't baking anything that day for she would have had to find a way not to work with Ron. It would have been difficult since everyone knew them to work together and she would leave Ron without a cooking partner. (Not that she cared, it was just everyone had to have a partner, even someone experienced as Ron.) Instead she seated herself at Maggie and Crystal's table, both cheerleaders being shocked that she wasn't sitting with Ron. Perhaps she had decided to choose her popularity over the loser after all? Maybe what Bonnie had said Tuesday after school swayed Kim's mind?
Not only had she ignored Ron all day, but she kept her furious anger at him bottled inside. It had been seething inside her all day; she doubted if she'd ever be able to rid herself of this ugly emotion.
It was just every time she thought of him, she thought of what he had done and how he had just wanted her because she was this pretty and popular girl. Kim assumed he thought it would be easy what with them already being best friends and he took advantage of that close friendship. Of her trust in him, of her… lo-
And every time she thought of that the flames burned in her mind. Yes, it made her sad, but the sorrow was consumed by her growing hatred for him and who he really was. That was how it had been through-out the day for Kim Possible.
But now as Kim gazed at Ron, these flames died down within her. Of course, the vexation inside her told her she was becoming soft and not to sympathise with him, but how could she not sympathise when she saw him in his current heartbreak. When she looked at the broken Ron at the lunch table with Felix, she began to familiarizing herself with sympathy, imagining the Ron she grew up with… the Ron she wanted. This was the Ron that she saw now, pained and destroyed. She remembered her promises to him. How she promised to be aware of him and here she was, breaking it again.
Memories of last night, before the break-up came to mind, she blushed and spooned some peppered mashed potatoes into her mouth. Kim missed that. With Ron. But with the Ron she wanted, not the Ron who was only with her to satisfy himself.
Maybe… maybe she could talk to him. To work things out. He had wanted to talk to her last night? Didn't he..? She couldn't remember—she had been so wrathful.
Yes, I owe that to him, I owe that to Ron, the Ron that I used to know, if he's still that Ron. I owe it to at least talk to him…It could be possible that he regrets treating me the way he did, regrets using me…I owe him the benefit of the doubt…
She noticed Ron had returned from the lunch line with a full tray, only tomunch onthe food despondently. Even cardboard caf pizza isn't cheering him up.
Kim pushed herself away from the table. Her chair scrapping across the dirty tiled cafeteria floor caught the attentions of Monique and her friends. They looked up at her as she stood out of her chair.
"I'll be back," she said and they returned to their conversations. Kim cast her head back at where Ron sat now, his head buried within his crossed arms and Felix sitting in his wheelchair beside him and Rufus squealing in displeasure while he ate Ron's lunch. She grimaced at the prospect of approaching Ron after their argument, but decided to take the plunge.
Yet before she could take another step forwards, the school bell rang out above her head; lunch was over. Kim sighed and cursed the bad timing as Monique and her friends picked up their bags, standing up.
"You coming, Kim?" Monique asked, holding her tray in hand.
"Yea, I'm coming," Kim replied monotonously, picking up her own barely eaten tray. Following Monique slowly, she gave one last look at Ron. He hadn't reacted at all to the sound of the bell. Her expression grew worried for him.
"C'mon, girl!" Monique called out, and Kim broke herself from her trance and walked out of the cafeteria with Monique and her friends.
They departed and Kim made her way to Chemistry class upstairs. All around her the students were buzzing and shuffling against one another to reach their class in time. But Kim walked through this sea of students wearily. She took her time in climbing the stairs to class, allowing passing students to shuffle past and occasionally hit her accidentally with their bags. How unusual it was to not be talking to Ron beside her. They were always together…
Entering class, Kim decided to take her normal seat where she usually sat next to Ron. Throughout the classes they had that morning Kim had taken care to show Ron that she was still furious with him by sitting elsewhere, usually far from her normal seat. Hopefully by sitting next to Ron in class, she might be able to exchange a few meaningful words or at least pass a note. It wasn't the best place to talk, but now that Kim had the urge to talk to him, she wanted to do it as soon as possible.
Kim was opening her binder when she found a shadow being cast onto her homework. Looking up expecting Ron, she grimaced when she found Bonnie instead. They had shared Math class together, but neither of them had really concerned themselves with the other. Which is how it should be, Kim thought darkly.
"I noticed you've been distancing yourself from the loser," Bonnie spoke, a mocking grin on her face. "That's smart of you but I hope you don't plan on returning to the squad. The girls are doing so much better with me in charge. And don't you even think that you can hook back Josh. He's through with you, you've already ruined your rep, there's no way you can get it back."
In a flare of anger, Kim shot out of her seat, slamming both of her hands on the counter. "Shut-up, Bonnie! Did you ever think for once that my life has nothing to do with you and your stupid idealistic world of High School?"
Bonnie's eyes flew open at Kim's unexpected outburst. Regaining some self control, Kim sat herself back down and flung her hair over her shoulder. "And I will be squad captain again, rest assured of that."
Growling, Bonnie stormed away to her regular seat, slamming her books onto the counter and leaving Kim behind to grin like a Cheshire. That had felt good.
Watching the clock on the wall, Kim began to tap the hard desktop with her fingernails in frustration. The bell was about to ring and he wasn't showing up. He wouldn't actually think of skipping class would he..? But no, she spotted him gawkily walking into class, his book bag tight on his shoulder. Perhaps he'd forgotten a textbook again, he almost always did for the after lunch classes.
Ron looked very ill, his face appeared flushed and his eyes flickered briefly in Kim's direction. She had attempted to convey a welcoming emotion to him, but his eyes darted away from her too quickly. He stood there, his eyes transfixed onto nothingness: thinking. But what of? Kim watched Ron frown. Why? Instead of taking his usual seat he walked to the front of the class, and around that way to the opposite end of the classroom from Kim's seat in the far corner where the misbehaving and social outcasts sat.
Impeded, Kim stared down hard at her textbook, flipping it open to the right page and looking down at her completed homework done in different coloured inks. Why hadn't he come to his usual seat!
No duh, Possible, her mind scorned herself. Maybe it has something to do with how you treated him..?
Class began with note-taking as usual and Kim took every opportunity she had to glance at Ron hoping to exchange even the most fleeting of glances with him. Fat chance.
Kim was positive she'd have a chance to speak with Ron during Physical Education. Certainly there'd be plenty of opportunities!
On her way to class she began to have doubt in her mind about confronting Ron. The thoughts of his deception and the package that had slipped out of his mission pants were coming into her mind again and that anger of hers was arousing—the anger which brought fearsome tears to her eyes. But she pushed those away for the time being and told herself she would only allow this hate to surface if her conversation with Ron failed… and it was no easy task to tell herself so. How easily it was for the fury to rage and boil inside her in pandemonium.
All the way it did churn and twist inside her into the gym changing rooms. The anger was even further fuelled by the girls who gave her looks, curious, degrading, sneering, cruel and sympathetic. Of course they were all thinking of what had happened on Tuesday. How stupid they all were, that was long in the past, the idiots. Like Kim honestly cared about their stupid opinions…
Changing into her red and white gym uniform along with everyone else, Kim took a moment for a breather before recomposing herself and stepping back out to join the group gathering in the gymnasium. Ron was already changed and standing next to Felix.
Now was a perfect time to approach him, but suddenly she felt feeble. Now she wasn't so sure if she really did want to talk to him and make up. Was she… did she… did she actually fear Ron! Of his response? Of how he would respond to her? What if he turned her down because she had slapped him (the mark was still there!)! But then, what if he accepted only to continue his deception? She didn't want to be used by him even if she wanted to be close to him like last night on the bed… She wanted that with the old Ron… please…
Please Ron, let's just make up and you can cherish me as the old Ron.
With all the contemplation swirling in her mind, all the doubt and worry, she missed a perfectly good chance to talk to him. The swarms of doubt and even some anger battling inside her mind…
When the gym teacher instructed them that the girls would play basketball inside the gymnasium and the boys would play soccer outside, Kim felt her stomach drop and she mentally slapped herself. She would have to catch Ron after school then, before he went home…
… If she was still up to talking to him. Kim held a finger to her mouth as she watched the boys file out of the gym (many of them complaining about the brisk weather). Half of her wanted to talk to Ron and another half of her didn't want to. Even though she cursed herself for not stepping up to him, she was still not too surprised in herself that she had evaded him.
It was after school already and it was now or never for Kim Possible. Not only that, but there was cheer practice to consider. She had forgotten all about it and realised she had missed many practices since Tuesday. Bonnie herself revealed to Kim that she had taken precious advantage of her absence.
Regardless of Bonnie's cruel words to her Tuesday after school and the attack on her locker, Kim did indeed plan to attend cheer practice and regain her position as team captain. With that, she was most adamant. But first she had to intercept Ron. She had no idea if he planned on attending practice and with how he had been avoiding her all day (which she didn't give him blame) she highly doubted he would.
She didn't even bother to change out of her gym clothes. Instead, she grabbed her bag from the bleachers and scooted off in direction of their closely residing lockers. Kim decided that she'd wait there for Ron to return for his books and then she would strike.
I can do it and not loose my temper… she thought over and over, her new mantra, as she fidgeted and moved about nervously waiting for Ron to return from the soccer field and change out of his gym uniform. She took this time to plan what she would say to Ron. But everything came to her in a jumble and she couldn't sort anything out.
In her mind, she planned to talk about last night, the argument, her yelling, her slapping him and then his thoughts that had crept into her mind. But as she thought of that the emotions surged inside her and the depressing-hatred for him came.
Kim would not cry here. Not in public at school. But once again thinking of last night, she felt like she wanted to fall to the floor and break out sobbing with how he had treated her. How he used her just to be a pretty girl. He didn't care for her like she did for him.
Images of the Ron that had hurt her in the past came in her mind. When he had gotten the new haircut, when he had received all that money, when Global Justice thought he had some sort of factor… All those times… had that been the real Ron? And the dependable, comforting… endearing Ron that she felt she had known for so long was just some sort of mask he put on to fool her? What kind of boy was he really? To Kim, this cruel Ron was what he appeared to truly be if those were his own thoughts…
Kim brought her hand to her face in case she started to cry but was immensely startled when someone called her name.
She let out a gasp and turned around to see, not Ron but… Josh?
"Hey, didn't mean to scare you," Josh said recoiling and looking slightly embarrassed. He held up his hands in defence. "I'm not a super villain, I promise."
Kim let out some nervous laughter and pushed back some hair which had fallen down into her face from the shock. Then she actually realised that Josh was talking to her.
"Uh… you're talking to me?" she asked stupidly, pointing a finger at herself.
Josh smiled, "Yup, I suppose I am. See, I've been trying to get a hold of you for a couple of days now but I haven't seen you around school."
"Oh, yea, I was busy with missions and stuff lately."
"I kinda guessed that seeing how Ron isn't attached to you anymore!" Josh's soft laughter eased Kim out of her jumpy and anxious state.
"Yea, it was just yesterday that happened actua- Wait." Kim stood, blinking rapidly. She shook her head then squinted at Josh. "You… you knew we were stuck together? How..? When!"
Josh laughed again which made Kim again feel solaced. She even smiled. "Not too long ago. Otherwise I wouldn't have been a total jerk to you before." Kim blushed, turning her head away. "No hey, it's the truth," he insisted. "Listen: It was Tuesday after school; I was in the art room helping to carry some of the Grade Eight's sculptors out of the furnace when your friend Monique asked for me."
Josh nodded, "She told me that you and Ron were stuck at the hands with each other since Thursday night. At first, I didn't believe it, but then I did. I know you run into some pretty crazy scenarios, you know, with you running around and saving the world!"
Kim blushed and muttered, "It's no big…"
"It all made sense to me. Well, most of it anyway," he laughed again. His laughter was so warming to her especially now when she felt vulnerable about dealing with Ron and what he had done to her, what he attempted to do to her. "I'm sorry, Kim. I really should have listened to what you had to say. That wasn't cool of me."
"Uh, thanks," Kim turned her head down, blushing (when she was supposedly over Josh!). "I guess I'm sorry too."
"Naw, don't be."
Kim didn't know what to say, this was what she really needed right now… what she still wanted… Someone to be this caring especially when she was so down, he was making her feel better…
"Hey, so now that that's all cleared up, I was wondering, did you wanna go out Friday after school? Maybe go to a dinner, my treat to help make up for the misunderstanding..?"
Her cheeks alight, Kim's mind dwelled on the word 'misunderstanding'… This was how she was to be treated. Not like some object to be gained like what Ron had in mind, not some prize. Even with the events in Bueno Nacho, Josh came to her himself and apologised, not only that, but he wanted to take her out to dinner. Right when she had been about to cave in again at her locker, right when she felt unprotected, alone and in need of someone, Josh came to her. Not Ron who ignored her despite her attempts to make contact with him. Ron who was probably cursing himself for ruining things with this gorgeous girl that had been so close…
She shivered at the idea of what had almost happened between her and Ron. She should have seen him for who he really was back in all those incidents when he let his real self slip through.
Inside her mind, she snarled at Ron. She quickly imagined them together and imagined him over-possessive, treating her like an object and demanding whatever he wanted from her. Well Kim Possible wasn't that kind of girl. He can go and rope in some other idiot.
Kim looked back into Josh's eyes and found them reassuring. She wanted him to swoop around her and put a comforting arm around her. And should she cry, he would allow her to cry into his arm for as long as he felt the need to. He'd fight for her and protect her from harmful people. People like Ron.
Her own eyes glistening, Kim's breath rattled. "Yes, Josh, I'd very much like that."
She felt herself glowing inside, a feeling Ron had stolen from her when revealing his treacherous side, as Josh beamed at her. "Excellent, I'll phone you later."
"It makes me so happy to be with you again," Kim smiled.
Like this morning, a loud locker crash came from behind her. With other students opening and shutting their lockers and causing a raucous around them, Josh hardly took notice of the sound. But as Kim twirled around, she witnessed Ron stepping away from his locker, a strange look in his eyes as he looked directly into Kim's. It made her want to hold herself and shiver. It was crystal clear he had overheard her and Josh. Then he broke contact and walked past them towards the front doors of the school.
She watched him over Josh's shoulder, watched him all the way to the doors. She even continued to watch him through the front door windows until he was gone.