Slowly Kim came awake . . . and with the realization that she was awake . . . she crushed herself harder to Ron's torso—
Which was followed by another realization—
Ron's torso was very unsubstantial—
It felt like . . . a pillow??
Kim cracked one eye . . . fearing the unknown of what and how . . .
The sudden disoriented surprise and apprehension was realized as she . . . for she . . . was in her own room . . . in her own bed . . . but . . .
Her last memory . . . was sniffling into Ron's shoulder . . . snuggling tighter into his chest . . . as he pulled the blanket of his bed over the both of them . . .
How . . . ?
Then both of Kim's eyes snapped wide open, her head jerking up out of the folds of her pillow as something else very suddenly registered—
—that there was sunlight outside of her window—
WHAT TIME IS IT?! Every Alpha Female/Honor Student cell in her body screamed. IT'S GOTTA BE PAST NINE!! I'M LATE FOR SCHOOL—
Kim heaved herself completely over in her bed, rolling over to face her closet, trying to untangle from her sheets/blankets, glancing at the clock on her nightstand, not really wanting to see the bad news that it would tell her, all the while trying to keep from screaming out loud even as she forced aside the complete confusion as to how she gotten back into her own bed—
Her glance at her clock pulled her up short, her eyes snapping back to it to see—
Although it really wasn't her clock itself that did it . . . but the propped notepad in front of her clock . . . with two short sentences in huge black 'marker' type letters proclaiming—
'YOU ARE HOME SICK!—NO BUTS YOUNG LADY!'
Kim was frozen for a moment, then she kind of cowered back down into her sheets/blankets.
There was no mistaking her mom's handwriting . . . nor the implied feeling that her mom was 'cranked' at her. With a flash, she realized something else she hadn't . . . she hadn't considered the possible consequences of her seeking out Ron in her need. Had her mom, worried when she hadn't come home, called Ron in the middle of the night looking for her—then Kim's features crinkled in thought—how did her mom get her home without her waking up?
Wrapped in a robe, Kim descended her loft stairs to her bathroom, her heart in her throat, her head swiveling like a top as she warily looked around for her mom, wondering if her mom had gone ahead and gone to work or if she had stayed home because of her—
Just thinking about it all . . . on top of everything else that was stressing her. After finishing in her bathroom, Kim came down the downstairs hallway into the front entry foyer rubbing her forehead, wincing against the pain of a rapidly growing headache. Kim also winced at her now in-knots insides as she headed down toward the kitchen, dread filled anticipation blossoming in her middle—
The kitchen was to her surprise . . . empty. Had her mom really gone to work . . . it didn't seem likely to Kim . . . but . . . –
"Mom?" Kim called out—
"In the living room—" came back the reply . . . a carefully neutral reply Kim's suddenly steel-banded tight insides told her.
As soon as Kim, after walking through the dining room, came around the fireplace, she felt her mom's piercing look skewering her brain—
Anne was on the far end of the long couch by the front windows, her laptop was open on the couch in front of her and with slow deliberateness, she closed it as her daughter stopped at the steps where they dipped into the living room proper.
Kim felt both reluctance and . . . a little bit of relief as she detected worry/concern/love in her mom's gaze. But still she hesitated—
"Kimberly—" her mom said softly, inclining her head toward the couch next to her. So Kim took a deep, shaky breath before meekly going over and placing herself in the designated spot.
There was a lloooonnnnnngggggggg silence.
But Kim broke it, being unable to take the stress/worry any longer—
"Did Ron get into trouble?"
Her mom raised one eyebrow . . . that was enough for Kim to sense just what she thought of her daughters too-late appreciation of the fallout from her actions.
"Ron," and again, Kim's mom's voice was carefully neutral, "apparently agonized over the situation for a considerable amount of time. He was worried sick over you but he knew that he had to do something, both for your benefit as well as being able head off and deflect problems with his mother over his girlfriend 'climbing in a window in the middle on the night and sleeping with him'. Ron got Rufus to get his knockout lip-gloss container out of his mission pack—"
Kim unconsciously rubbed her nose, only now realizing why there was a lingering smell there that reminded her of the girl's locker room (she would not think of Wades fathers socks-nor at this point contradict her mom because Wade had made a 'male' version for Ron that looked like lip balm).
Kim also felt guilty dread when she prompted for the other shoe to fall.
"Ron went and woke up his mom, telling her up front what had happened, he then called my work cell," and an annoyed narrowing came to Kim's mom's eyes, "at exactly two thirty in the morning. I came and got you . . . and no, I don't think your father was aware of what happened."
Kim felt a stab of relief over that fact . . . but . . .
"So . . . " and Kim was afraid to complete the question but there was no pay in avoiding it. "Is Mrs. Stoppable really mad?"
That got her a very . . . measured and careful look from her mother , , , followed by— "That kind of depends. Mrs. Stoppable of course was not happy at all . . . but . . . Ron conveyed to the both of us just . . . how upset you seemed to be—"
A gentle look then came to Anne's eyes. "What happened with your meeting with Shego?"
Kim told her . . . repeating as much of what Shego had said verbatim as she could remember—the thought coming to Kim as she did so, that it was like describing the worst nightmare that she had ever had. Kim found that she couldn't even look at her mother while she related the tale . . . especially when . . . she left out almost all of the part about Ron's "all those other powers-slowly developing-only had eyes to see", "Ron-is the dangerous one", "he would never hesitate to KILL", "I will fear him". Kim wasn't sure just why she left that part of it out . . . or why she couldn't look at her mom—
When Kim finished, she at last glanced at her mom, only to be shocked and surprised to see that her mom wasn't even looking at her, but was staring out of the window next to her.
Anne sighed heavily, closing her eyes as if tired. "nothing . . . just wishing that I had . . . " Anne then shook her head as if to clear it. "Never mind, not important." When Anne's eyes reopened, she now looked at her daughter with equal measures of understanding, worry, love and resignation. "I think," Anne said carefully, "that you better tell me as completely as you remember it, your 'little chat' with Shego that started all of this."
Kim let out a tired moan and kind of collapsed inward. But her mom's hand was on her arm and her tone was supportive, "I need to understand Kim . . . please?"
So Kim told that story, by the time she finishing it she leaning far back into the couch cushions, eyes closed and wishing very badly for something for her now pounding headache. After completing the tale, she just lay there, too tired/hurting to do anything else, waiting for her mom to continue on.
Her mom let out a long, heavy sigh, followed with, "Ron said . . . you seemed . . . "
"I lost it again mom," and Kim's tone was totally miserable. "I rode back in the Global Justice hovership curled up in a little ball, I don't think I said a word to Doctor Director. I had all that time to think and . . . and . . . " Kim had to stop, feeling herself choke up again, feeling the tears starting to run from her eyes—
She heard her mom sigh again and then say, "you need to calm down—"
It took a moment for Kim to realize . . . that her mom . . . sounded . . . disappointed??
Through the pain of her head, Kim forced her eyes to slit open, to look at her mom—
Yes, her mom looked . . . disappointed with her . . .
"Mom," and her voice actually tremored a little, 'wha—what—what did I do? Why are you looking at me like that?"
Her mom immediately pulled her features straight. "I'm sorry honey . . . I didn't mean . . . . . . well," and Anne flushed, "no, I don't think I'm going to go that route." Her face firmed up and Kim instinctively knew now that she was looking at 'mom'.
"Kim," and Anne's tone was a firm as her features, "I had been hoping very badly that you had recovered enough to handle what has obviously been a much more . . . lets just say 'jarring' incident than you expected. I can see in hindsight the blind spots that I and you and your therapist all probably had regarding this . . . but what's important, and right now it is very important , that you recognize what happened, why you reacted the way you did, why you're still reacting that way and why Shego did it."
Against the pain in her head, Kim forced her eyes wider, causing a wince which Anne saw—
"But first, I can see that we need to get a handle on the other factors that are contributing as well—" and with that Anne stood up, reaching out a comforting hand to her daughter—
So in a little while, Kim was feeling somewhat better. An analgesic had cut some of the pain in her head, aromatherapy candles had taken out another big block of that same pain as well as calming nerves that had been more jangled than she had realized (or had been willing to admit). She was reclining on the self-contained 'massage' couch , soothing music was playing in the darkened corner of the Possible family gym.
"What did you lose Kim—?"
Kim's brows folded from the sudden question breaking the spell that he mother, who was sitting quietly in a chair right next to her, had tried to hard to create—
But . . . now would be the time to . . . for Kim knew that she was in a much better position to answer—
And if she actually put some thought into it . . . the answer really was so simple.
"In her organized attack on me," Kim answered in a flat voice, "Shego took my sense . . . my need . . . my crutch . . . for total control over everything in my life away." That was followed by what could only be described as an ugly growl, "and yesterday . . . she did it to me again."
Kim could sense her mom's approval even before her mom spoke. "From all appearances she did a pretty good job of it too. Just how did she do it?"
Kim had to consider this for a period, trying to find the concepts/words that would best describe—
"The way she 'forced' the points of her plan onto me. She manipulated my feelings . . . my buttons I guess you could say; my need to make plans to counteract hers, to have any and all the details worked out, my fallbacks ready and in place. Even though she was saying it in a sarcastic way, she was . . . 'programming' me, 'forcing' me . . . my—my unconscious unalterable, driving need not to have anything left incomplete or not done to the absolute best of my ability—" Kim grinned sheepishly, "my therapist has been giving me a real hard time over that." The grin went away and the thoughtful look returned. "Shego was setting me up to . . . as she said it, be 'crazy' because I would have pushed myself past the breaking point again—"
"Wanting, needing, having to take charge of the situation," her mother said softly, "controlling the situation and carrying the situation through to a successful conclusion against any and all odds . . . in other words—a born leader. Unable to turn away from that situation, unwilling to pass it on or delegate it to another . . . evidence of something like—can't resist a challenge. Bound by morals and ethics that are so deep seated that they control life without thought and demanding tests against even the frightening and the unknown . . . and indication that maybe—driven to excel? Accepting nothing less then the top, everything absolutely perfect—"
Kim held up her hand. "I get it mom. 'A born leader', 'can't resist a challenge', 'driven to excel' and the last is 'perfectionist' . . . quotes right out of the Animology chapter for Blue Fox." Kim looked grumpy. "You didn't have to lay it on so thick. You sounded like Shego—"
Her mom smiled. "Sorry. Part of my Teal Cat personality." That got an almost humorous snort out of her daughter. Anne's face fell back into its 'mom' mode as she added, "but you got the point?"
"I thought I was already making the point—" Kim was still grumpy.
"Different point," her mom said firmly. "I'm not talking about the fact that as you said, in an amazingly simple and straightforward manner, that Shego was able to manipulate and 'program' you to the point of 'crazy'. I'm making the point as to why she could do that, why it was so simple for her and why was she able to do it so thoroughly in that short a time and in that setting?"
Kim's eyes looked up at her mom. Anne could see that the wheels were turning . . . and that two and two were still coming back 3.14—
"Shego just spent how long learning everything she could about you with the intent and from the aspect of psychologically reducing you to a cheese burrito! Something she could eat alive! And you had . . . what . . . twenty minutes to probe her psych under much different, uncontrolled circumstances when you confronted her in the guest room? And I'm afraid to say; in a very amateurish way which left a lot about Shego undone and unsaid." Anne looked hard at her daughter and said firmly. "Shego just hit you straight up and with full force with psychological warfare as hard and sure as it can be. And right now, Shego holds all the ammunition in that battle. Especially considering all the other mental landmines your dealing with right now honey. So the first thing you have to do is calm down and try to go back and look at it with a little of you old clear headedness and self confidence!"
Without a word, Kim leaned her head back into the massage-couch, closed her eyes and—
A long quite time passed—
"Mom," finally came the low, unsure voice, "d—do you think . . . do you think Shego . . . does she really mean to—"
"I believe," was Anne's firm, no nonsense reply, "that Shego fully and completely intends to do everything just exactly as she described it." And there was a pause before a lower, softer, gentler, "I also believe that as long as you don't play her game, as long as you plan and 'what if' to a realistic and reasonable point . . . "
"Mom," and the reluctance in Kim's voice could almost be physically felt. "I—I know that it has to be absolutely insane . . . . . . but I still think . . . that there is good in Shego." Kim's eyes closed tightly as she shook her head. "I admit that I don't know squat about psyching someone—but I can't believe that everything I saw and felt when she broke wasn't some kind of reality, some kind of truth about how she felt—"
"Why do you think she's so mad . . . no . . . enraged at you," her mom countered. "Didn't she say it herself? You made her 'look at things that she had safely locked away from the light of day'." Her mothers voice turned firm, "Shego might have been dangerous before—but now, she's more than dangerous—"
"There's got to be a way to save her mom?" Kim was almost pleading.
Her mom waited for several moments before, "if there is . . . I'm afraid that I don't know it . . . short of getting her confined, professional help and probably a lot of narcotics. I wouldn't even try—"
"I have to try," Kim's voice was small and flat when she said this. "I opened the door to Pandora's box, I cant just let her—"
"You can't do anything about it honey," and again her mom's voice was firm but also understanding. "In trying to do so, you could only make matters worse than they already are. You're going to have to let this one lie."
Anne waited for her daughter to respond to this . . . and after way too much time, she took in a long, slow, tired, apprehensive and resigned breath for Kim obviously was not going to follow this logic. Anne could only hope to try again later to reason with her daughter. It was not something that she was looking forward to doing.
"Anyway," Anne continued, reluctantly sidestepping the issue for now, "as I was saying, you're going to have to start to gear up to meet this challenge . . . and the best way to do it is the same thing as you have always done, you're going to have to rely on . . . yourself . . . and Ronald . . . both of your skills, abilities and the rapport you two share just as you always have—"
"But what if Ron is under some kind of control," and that came out almost as a frightened wail. "What if he can't control himself? What if he 'can't' be there watching my back?"
"There are protective measures we can take," Anne told her reassuringly. "When we all sit down and start to work on this, we . . . " and Anne's voice slowly trailed off as she noticed the new look which had come over her daughter's face—
"Kim??" her mom said carefully, "why are you looking that—" and Anne cut it off when her daughter suddenly turned her head away.
But Anne Possible knew her daughter all too well . . . which was part of the sudden problem because she couldn't believe that Kim could possibly be thinking—
"We are going to tell Ron about it . . . about Shego's plans . . . we are going to tell him?" and Anne made her tone as reasonable but forceful as she could.
Kim didn't answer . . . which gave the answer.
"Kim—" her mom stated—
"Mom," and her daughters soft pained tone stopped her, "I know that . . . it's probably okay for . . . friends . . . but . . . lovers or . . . life partners . . . should they . . . keep . . . secrets from each other?"
Something long simmering inside of Anne suddenly clicked and with it came sudden but complete understanding. Taking a very careful tone with her daughter, Anne, gripping herself internally against the minefield she knew she was stepping into, "there is . . . something . . . going on with Ron isn't there." That was rewarded by Kim slowly turning her head back to face her, fear and need and questions blazing from her eyes.
"I've . . . seen some things myself," Anne offered in explanation. "Like Ron having a very particular reaction to a statement that was made during the conference on Felix's condition. I . . . attempted to pin Ron down afterwards on why he reacted the way he did . . . and all I got was . . . goof . . . and the sense that he was really really nervous about my asking. Which . . . coming from Ron is a solid clue anyway." Anne sighed but her eyes never left her daughter. "I also suspect something considering . . . what happened with Ron and Bonnie or would it be . . . between Ron and Bonnie . . . and the fact that I couldn't get any kind of an answer out of Ron as to just exactly what happened between the two of them. but I . . . I guess you could say I was lulled off of the trail by all the other 'mysterious' healings that were going on all over the city . . . which," and Anne shook her head slightly as if she was having a hard time accepting what her instincts/intuition was telling her, "could I be thinking that all that was a diversion put on by somebody as to take the 'eye' off of Ron—" Anne's eyes focused back onto her daughter. "There's something going on with Ron that is . . . unusual . . . and he's definitely not talking about it. In fact—" and there was another little nod of Anne's head as she put another clue/fact into place in her mind, "he's keeping it a 'secret' from you for whatever reason . . . because you've seen things . . . maybe more than I have or can guess about—"
"He scares me sometimes—" and Kim sounded miserable in making that confession, "and no more so than now because—" and again Kim's voice trailed off.
It took a moment or two for her mom to make that connection. "Shego has seen or noticed it as well," and Anne's tone was grim. "Maybe with more knowledge or observation based on her prior background/past experience/broader life experience than you have had . . . she's maybe even guessed or has seen or been involved somewhere or with someone else that gives her a special insight . . . " and then the other shoe dropped in Anne's mind—
"And . . . that's one of the main reasons she's going to try to do away with Ron. She thinks that in time . . . he's a greater threat to her than even you are."
Anne sat back in her chair, her mind racing through all the implications and possibilities . . . but her train of thought could not be carried through because—
"How did Ron acquire these . . . does he really have some kind of special . . . some kind of experiment by Drakken or Dementor or DNAmy that didn't manifest itself until later?"
"I don't know—" came her daughters voice, flat and lifeless, "he wont tell me . . . and . . . that hurts . . . "
Anne blinked, bringing herself back to the present and her daughter. "That's obviously the secret he's keeping," she observed.
"One of them," Kim said dejectedly.
That raised Anne's eyebrows. What other secrets could or would Ron have to hide from her daughter/his soulmate. Anne realized that this might be a part of the barrier that Kim's therapist was having a hard time breaking through . . .with both of the teens.
Anne wasn't a trained therapist, but she had years of experience dealing with the trauma of her patients and their families, years as a parent of several very special children—
"Even if Ron is keeping things from you," Anne said in a gentle but firm voice, "you can't think of keeping this from him Kim. All of us need to work together to be ready to recognize an attempt by Shego to start her plot."
"Ron will FREAK if we tell him that Shego intends to kill him," Kim hissed back.
Anne nodded. "Probably . . . but with his resilience, he'll get over it. Which is a lot better than your FREAKING over any or every girl who ever approaches him." Then in a firm tone she added, "and considering that we're talking about his life, you can't let your anger over his keeping secrets from you make this an opportunity to get revenge by keeping it a secret from him."
"MOM!! And Kim was up/off the couch stalking away—
"Get BACK here young lady!"
Kim stopped in front of the hallway door . . . but she didn't come back or even turn around—
"Lovers . . . life partners, couples who intend to become joined in marriage should not have secrets from each other," Anne's voice was sad, but it carried a ring of painful truth. "But the reality of life is such that often, as you have so recently found out in so many ways, we have to make compromises, sacrifices and let things go that otherwise we would not. Your father has . . . as far as I know, no secrets from me . . . but he was . . . a computer/techno/rocket scientist/nerdish/clueless/socially deprived GEEK when we met . . . and to a certain extent . . . he still is. And I will admit that that might have been a lot of the attraction for me, after so many years of my life living in a world that while you know so much of it, you've only recently gotten a taste of what its like to live in it . . . day by day."
Anne hesitated . . . but at this moment, for her daughter, she could not allow herself to stop herself. "I on the other hand started out my friendship with your father, my engagement and the first sixteen years of my marriage, with more secrets than what's in the bottom of the Pentagons vault. There . . . " and she closed her eyes in pain. "there are still several things which your father does not know. Some of them I probably could tell him . . . but I suspect . . . after some of his reactions in the past . . . that he would handle it . . . badly." Her eyes snapped open and her voice was pointed. "But Ron is not your father! He has experience in this world of ours and understands much of the need and the reasons why. Yes he will freak! He wouldn't be Ron if he didn't! But have you thought about his reaction if he finds out later that you didn't tell him?"
"Mom—I" Kim managed to start but couldn't finish because of her own confusion, her own guilt, now that what she had contemplated only to herself was out in the open.
"If Ron can't tell you something," her mom rode right back over her, "there must be a DAMN good reason for it! And you're not telling him something this serious for whatever reason you think you have—"
"I—I" Kim stuttered, shaking her head as if denying it even to herself—
"Yes—" Anne's voice was now flat and lifeless like Kim's had been earlier, "it hurts not to be able to be totally honest with your father. Do you have any idea how much it hurt when I told you and Ron about my life before I met your father . . . knowing that he didn't know any of the 'gory details' that I told the two of you . . . and I did that because I really believe that he couldn't handle it?"
"And," Kim heard her mom's voice go very soft, "I am willing to bet you on both of our lives . . . that Ron's not being able to tell you whatever it is that he is hiding . . . hurts him ten thousand times worse than what I feel in regards to your father. And how much more he will hurt . . . if you don't tell him something like this."
"Mom," Kim sounded almost desperate.
"Ron," and Kim realized that her mom was 'lecturing' her like she was a little girl again—which only drove Anne's point home even harder, "would only hide something from you if someone he holds as dear as he holds you, required him to. It may hurt . . . but his reason is honorable. You on the other hand want to keep a secret that involves his very life from him because you're mad at him for keeping a secret from you—"
Kim's head dropped. "I am not!"
"Turn around and look me in the eye and say that!" her mom challenged her—
Both of them knowing that she couldn't. Both of them knowing . . . that what Anne had said . . .
Kim's head dropped all the way down to her chest in shame. She knew that she was sooo busted. She KNEW what her mother was saying was the truth . . . she knew it as well as she knew how to do a forward flip. But like so much else right now . . . she had been denying it.
"Kim—" came her mother's soft voice from behind.
Reluctantly, Kim turned and looked back over her shoulder at her mother, saw the love, saw the concern, saw the desire to help—
Kim also saw that her mom was holding back from that last—
And she could guess the reason why—
"Yes mom," Kim's reply was as soft as her mother's question . . . but it accomplished its mission . . . which was to let her mother know . . . that it was okay to—
"Honey," and her mother's eyes were . . . just the tiniest bit damp in thanks that Kim had opened this door for her. "Like I said, you need to calm down. You need to step back a little, regroup and take a look at this whole emotional disaster. You can not keep going with your emotions and nerves torn in ten thousand directions and ways. You need to prioritize what's important and I know you can do that, and start tackling one problem at a time. And your biggest problem is—?"
Kim slowly turned toward her mother, her head dropping back down toward her chest as she did so. But instead of shame, this was a position of exhaustion.
"I . . . I . . . " and the reluctance was thick in Kim's voice. But with a sudden rush she moved over the bridge that had been so frightening.
"I . . . I need to let go of my anger." And Kim's shoulders slumped. "All the anger that I'll admit to, like towards Bonnie and Shego . . . and all the anger . . . that I won't admit to . . . like what I feel towards Ron . . . "
Anne's head nodded just perceptibly. The therapist had hinted (it was a fine line the therapist . . . and Anne had been treading. Anne might be Kim's mother . . . but she was also her physician and towards her daughter and almost son-in-law Anne had to walk a delicate balance between her daughters and Ron's rights to privacy and her need to be able to properly care for the both of them) that this was a major blockage that was keeping Kim from making as much progress as she should be toward the acceptance of all the evil events of recent days and the healing of her psych.
"And why are you angry toward Ron?"
Kim snorted and kind of threw her hands around helplessly. "He won't tell me what his big secret is. He won't explain these strange powers that he has, how he got them and where they could lead. He's insisting on helping Bonnie recover and put her life back together."
Anne waited . . . and when Kim wouldn't drop the other shoe, Anne was forced to—
Now Kim's chin did drop all the way to her chest. Her reply was barely audible. "Shego's scared of him! And I . . . and I . . . " and Kim stammered to a halt.
"You're jealous of Shego thinking him a bigger threat than you are," her mom finished. Kim just nodded.
Kim's shoulders slumped even further. "He's . . . stepping up. He's . . . doing things that need to be done, taking care of them on his own . . . like talking to Shego or . . . or (big sigh) doing what is absolutely the right and good thing by helping Bonnie . . . and what he's doing he's been successful in and . . . and . . . and I guess I'm just a little bit . . . defensive about it . . . "
" . . . . . . and??"
Kim's hand came up and rubbed her temple where her head was starting to throb again. "Ron . . . put his . . . life . . . on the line with the thing with the hovership. I . . . I . . . I . . . "
"What you mean," her mom said with a soft but firm tone, "is that it was perfectly alright for you to kill yourself when you thought Ron was dead. But your angry at him for attempting to sacrifice his life for the common good when he thought you were dead . . . you're very angry at him over that—"
Kim's whole body sagged; she was just barely able to manage a nod of agreement.
There was a long moment of silence.
"Anything else?" Anne asked.
Kim just stood.
Kim actually mumbled. But the room was quiet enough since Anne had used the remote to turn the music off when Kim had tried storming out.
"I know that Ron . . . wants us to make love together as badly as I do . . . but he won't tell me who he's promised . . . so that we could go to that person and try to change their mind."
Anne waited all of three heartbeats—her thoughts going back to the discussion with the therapist. . . and the inferred guesses that were passed along. "And why are you so angry with Ron over all these issues? Why are you having such a tough time addressing them?"
Anne watched as Kim slowly sank down until she was sitting on the floor, kind of wrapped up in a tight little ball with arms down around drawn up knees, memories striking Anne for Kim looked all of seven again and was in the position she would assume when she knew she had been very bad—
But Anne didn't push it. She somehow knew that Kim was finally where she needed to be. So Anne waited . . . if Kim wanted to talk . . . she was here. If Kim wanted to work it out for herself . . . Anne knew that her mere presence gave her daughter support.
After what seemed like several hours—
"Mom?" came the quiet question.
"Yes honey," was the loving/supporting answer.
"C—can I . . . change me . . . and still be me?"
Anne nodded in understanding. "You're not changing you sweetheart," was the firm knowing reply. "You're changing the way you act toward and think toward people. I don't think any of us, including your therapist, Ron or myself, knew or understood just how badly . . . damaged . . . you were when you felt that you had . . . lost control of your life and tired to compensate by over controlling what little was left to you. As much as we all might like to, life controls life, we can only make our own decisions towards it. As much as you might have been able to at the time, you have and never really did have any control over Shego. Bonnie is not yours to control. And—"
Anne took a deep breath before she took the final plunge. "And, while it seems that you have either influenced or had what seemed to be outright control of so much of Ron's life, there is no way that that could have continued, especially once you two moved beyond friendship."
"I can't believe," came Kim's totally miserable voice, "that all my anger at Ron, all of it that I wouldn't even admit that it existed, was because I felt that I was losing control of him." An almost snort escaped her. "I thought I had him in the palm of my hand. He would do anything I asked, anything I wanted, anything I told him to do . . . . . . and all the time . . . . . . it was as if I thought that he was doing all that because I told him . . . instead of the reality which was that he was doing it all, even those things that he didn't want to do . . . because he . . . loved me."
Kim's head finally came up and Anne could see the sorrow and remorse in those wet emerald eyes. "Like when Ron defeated Gil the first time at Wannaweep, Ron asked if he could call the shots on a mission and I told him that it was 'ferociously unlikely' even though he had just done an amazing job taking care of the situation. I couldn't even conceive of him ever taking the lead in something—"
"Keep in mind," her mother admonished softly, "that most of the time, Ron is perfectly content in letting you lead. But that may change, or there may be a situation—another mission or event that forces that change. And you have to be ready for it if it does. And this is a yes to your earlier question honey, you have to change that part of you, or at least, reach a compromise with yourself and probably with Ron. I know that you trust him with your life. He's 'got your back' and always has. And he seems to be content with that. But—" and Anne got up out of her chair and came over to kneel in front of her daughter. "But," she repeated even more softly, "is it fair to the both of you, let alone the rest of the world . . . if you intentionally relegate him to that place when there are times and situations when the two of you may be shoulder to shoulder or he may even be out in front—"
Kim's eyes narrowed. "Mom—this is Ron we're talking about."
Now Anne snorted. "Listen to yourself—"
Kim's eyes fell. She sat thinking under her mothers gaze for several minutes before, "I know—" Kim admitted in a guilty tone. "I admit that I'm jealous about Ron and the attention he's gotten. That he maybe has something happening to him that might even make him better than me—"
"Kim—" and Anne put her hands on her daughter's shoulders. "Right there is another part of the problem. Nothing that happens to Ron is going to make him better than you. It's simply going to make him different. Your competitive nature can not and should not influence your feelings toward those who are not and are never going to be competing with you. And it's not like you can expect Ron to remain the same as when the two of you first went to Mr. Paisley's to take out the security lasers."
After a moment, Kim nodded to the truth of this. Her head dipped down a little—
There she remained for what seemed to be the longest time. Anne stayed with her as well, trying to send all her support, love and understanding to her daughter through those hands resting on her daughter's slumped shoulders.
Then, Kim's head gave another small nod.
Anne then felt Kim's shoulders pull up and she released her grip, moving back to give her daughter some space. Kim whipped a forearm across her eyes before bringing them up to look at her mother. Anne's breath kind of stopped in her throat, not knowing if she dared to hope that she could now see just the tiniest bit of understanding and determination lurking in her daughter's eyes.
"Thanks mom," and Kim actually managed a little smile when she said it. "I think . . . " and Kim's eyes dropped just enough to break contact as if she was still unsure or embarrassed, "I think, if you don't mind, I'll go back to my room. You've given me some things to think about and . . . " now her head did drop a bit more, "and I need to do it before Ron comes over to see me this afternoon."
Anne nodded and held out her hands to her daughter who did not/could not resent the gesture—her mom helped her up onto her feet.
Anne's eyes blinked wide as Kim suddenly wrapped her in an intense hug—
"I love you mom—"
And before Anne could respond, Kim broke away . . . and was out of the family gym without a look back.
Kim sat on her bed, staring down into her lap, so many thoughts coursing through her. In her lap was her mother's old laptop which had been replaced several times over by newer, more capable ones. But after that slip by Wade in regards to his reading her diary on her regular computer, Kim had gotten her moms old laptop and had shifted all of her 'personal' files into it.
Here was her life from her point of view. Here was her triumphs and tears. Here was her memories and hopes. Here was her fantasies, the things she didn't even tell Monique (and that was the biggest reason that it was always locked away inside her armored closet with her battlesuit—far far away from ANY chance of her brothers getting hold of it).
Life was change—
Change . . . was life.
Kim was slowly working her way through the photo album of her and Ron—
Watching the changes—
And realizing just what hadn't—what had never changed—
Their care and devotion for each other.
She had already gone through her . . . 'secret file', the place that even she didn't like to admit to herself that she kept. A file of news clippings and video's from the published reports of her adventures and missions, her 'guilty' scrapbook of her life as a hero
Of hers and Ron's adventures and missions—
She had told Shego that Ron was her hero.
Ron would always have her back. Of that she had no doubt. But the idea of him right at her side—bound to her hip as Shego so aptly put it—
But she was oh so mad at him—
For so many ridiculous, juvenile, asinine, stupid things—
No wonder she was still so lost and confused by it all.
And Kim's eyes blinked back to the present, for she realized that the photo on her screen was from cheer practice . . . from the debut of Ron as the Middleton Mad Dog Mascot. Kim saw all the other girls looking on with naked disapproval, and Bonnie front row center with the worst look of all on her face.
Looking back now to their 'clear and honest' discussion in Bonnie's hospital room, remembering how she saw the look in Bonnie's eyes and hearing the tone and conviction in her voice during that confrontation; seeing the fear, the remorse, the determination on Bonnie's face at her court hearing—
"If you can change Bonnie . . . and now I believe that you really can—can I do no less?" Kim whispered to herself.
At that same moment, something her Nana had once said to her suddenly came out of the blue. The more things change, the more certain things, the really important things, should remain the same!
Kim nodded her head, and sent a loving phantom kiss to her Nana. She then looked up, her eyes searching for her long, lost and it seemed forgotten Kimmunicator—
"Kim!" Wade's eyes were as big around as dinner plates.
The first real smile in all too long came to Kim's face. "Wade," and his eyes went even wider as the old 'snap' in her voice registered—
It had taken a ridiculously short amount of time!
Kim could now acknowledge just how 'down' she had been. And while she once again felt 'alive', there was a difference. This was the kind of therapy she needed. And while she didn't have a clue as to how her real therapist would feel about all of it, right now to her in so many ways it felt oh so good. She also admitted that it had taken her mind off of most of her troubles, but at the same time, it had also put a lot of them into a new perspective.
She hadn't forgotten for a moment all the damage and dead of Middleton. She hadn't forgotten or come even close to addressing all her issues or getting over her grief for Justine or Tara. She would still be dealing with her own fears and guilt over her own actions and reactions stretching all the way back to the beginning of Bonnie's and Shego's 'war' on her life and sanity for a considerable amount of time. She hadn't for a moment forgotten about Shego and everything that entailed.
But . . .
Kim even knew and realized that the euphoria she felt at the moment was probably blown dangerously out of proportion and she made a note to discuss it thoroughly with her therapist (if the woman would still talk to her).
But despite that particular piece of anxiety, Kim really believed that telling Wade to bring her site back up and put out the word that Team Possible was back in action—
Kim's biggest worry had been Ron reaction for doing it without telling him first. She knew that if they really were going to be TEAM Possible, that he should have had input . . . and she wondered as well if it had been an example of her still clinging to her fetish that she had to be in control—
But now in hindsight . . . after her and Ron had completed their very first mission in HOW long—
Kim once again snorted to herself. It had been less than three hours after Wade had told her that the site was back up that the desperate request had come in. Ron had just walked into the Possible residence after eating dinner at his house—
Kim had felt so many indescribable feelings when Ron's only reaction was a full-faced grin that she had caught only for a moment of prior to his bolting for the service bathroom where his mission kit was kept!
Kim had noted that her dad had looked . . . almost angry—but she didn't care.
Kim had noted that her mom looked . . . Kim could have basked in her mom's look.
Kim sighed now as she mentally replayed their last hours. How she had missed the way Ron looked in his mission clothes, body once again healed and fit (although how much healing had been through normal medical science and how much through . . . she still didn't want to know). They'd had some rough spots during the confrontation to be sure but no more so than when they had first started doing missions all those years ago. And yes, both were now paying a price of bruises and strained/overworked muscles after way too much inactivity. But that price was a small one willingly paid for the feelings of reward for a job well done. . . and for the renewal of their bonding in a way only they, the two of them, could understand.
It was now early morning. Kim had had Wade call both sets of parents to let them know that they were running way late past their curfew, but southwest Australia was even farther than Tokyo on a school night. But it was fortunate that it really wasn't a 'school night' and Kim at this point in her recovery of self could not think of any other way to spend a Friday night than with her boyfriend kicking some bad guys butt in a country far from home!
Kim had not forgotten just what it felt to lean against Ron in a darkened aircraft cargo hold—but could only now acknowledge just what that feeling did to her.
And although she was hesitant, even frightened by what she was about to do, she didn't allow that to spoil her mood. She wasn't looking forward to what was coming, but she would no longer avoid it either. Her days of hesitation were hopefully behind her. And while she knew that she wasn't completely out of the woods, she thought that she could at least see the light.
She wasn't afraid of tomorrow any more. And she believed that maybe the light she could see, might be the light of tomorrow . . . only time would tell.
Kim waited until Rufus settled into a comfortable sleeping place.
"Ron," and she felt his head rise up off of hers where she had it tilted over one of his shoulders, "I have something to tell you . . . and it's not very nice—"
Kim felt so much better to have it all out. And Ron's reaction wasn't as bad as she had feared. It had taken only five minutes for his screaming and ranting and raving and running from one end of the compartment to the other. Well . . . three times five minutes because Kim had unburdened herself in three stages; Shego wanting to take over the world, Shego wanting to force Kim to kill her, Shego wanting to destroy Ron and their relationship and then kill him. Kim had expected Ron to be crazy much longer over the last revelation and the fact that he was over it so quickly—
An exhausted, heavily breathing Ron now turned back to her, "what are we going to do KP?"
Kim noted that Ron did not sound as if he was sorry for himself. That pleased her no end.
"I'm not sure," Kim said carefully, waiting now for his reaction to the last shoe to be dropped. "For one thing, at least part of our response is going to have to be based on the amount that Shego fears these new powers of yours."
Ron's back had been to her as he had been leaning against the far bulkhead of the cargo compartment. As she said what she had to say, Kim saw him stiffen upright, his whole body going rigid.
Part of Kim's still damaged ego had wanted to let Ron stew for a little bit—but she realized that if she really loved him, that she had to be 'clear and honest' . . . and considerate and understanding of his limitations and his needs and fears.
"Shego knows something Ron," Kim said softly. "She wouldn't tell me anything but every instinct I have tells me that it wasn't a lie and it wasn't a bluff. And I realize that part of what she was trying to accomplish was to drive a wedge between us by indicating that she knows something, which she very well could, where I know nothing of what has been happening to you."
Kim stopped and took a deep breath before, "I love you Ron, and while it does hurt that there is something that you can't tell me, I understand the reasons why and I applaud them. If for no other reason than it lets me know that any of my secrets are safe with you." Kim's eyes suddenly narrowed and her voice took on a sly/accusing tone. "You know . . . my secrets . . . like what's inside my closet and . . . what else is in my armored closet other than my battlesuit."
Despite the fact that his back was to her, Kim could almost feel Ron's blush. Not even her mom (as far as Kim knew) knew what else was in her armored closet . . . and it wasn't that she really thought that her father or her brothers would go peeping around in those intimate places, she felt it was better to be safe than purple with embarrassment, especially since her loft could not be locked because of her stairs and her mom's old laptop with her diary wasn't the only thing that she wanted kept away from prying eyes.
Ron on the other hand, didn't know which was worse at the moment, his shock/fear of being the target of an insidious murder plot of someone like Shego, shock and fear over the very thought that Shego may have put two and two together after their 'confrontation' in the Possible guest bedroom, figuring out at least part of his secret, or even worse, his own shock and embarrassed embarrassment as his body automatically reacted to the memory of just what he had seen in Kim's armored closet when he had gotten into it to 'secret borrow' her battlesuit during his wrongheaded plan to get onto the Middleton football team. Ron was actually sweating in the cool cargo compartment as he desperately waited for the reaction to run its course and go away—
Of course, it was only worse when Ron tried to literally jump out of his skin when suddenly strong, supple arms wrapped themselves tightly around him—so tightly that he couldn't jump—
But soft, sensuous lips pressed themselves against his neck, causing him almost to melt.
"Sorry," came the whisper into his ear when the lips let go, "but I had to get my revenge some way." Ron placed his arms over Kim's and the two of them felt themselves bond.
"Let me finish first Ron," the soft voice continued. "As I said, I do understand why you can't tell me. But we do need to come up with a response for what Shego is going to try. If you can't tell me, then tell my mom, or my Nana or Wade or go right back to whoever taught you all this stuff and tell them—I just don't want you taking the whole thing on by yourself . . . which is something that I was prepared to do . . . and which I now admit was oh so very wrong an idea."
Kim lessened her hold on her BFBF enough for him to turn around—
Another level healed, another part came back into balance, another segment of their bond renewed for, for the first time in how long, unencumbered by torn psyches, sobbing grief, raging emotions, raw wounds, binding bandages, numerous physical and mental injuries, prying eyes, listening ears, possible interruptions from closed but not locked doors, Kim and Ron kissed the full deep kiss of true love.
After several minutes of timelessness, the two teens walked back across the compartment and sat back into their seats, still wrapped in each other's arms. "Ron," Kim started.
"You don't have to say any more KP."
"You're wrong," Kim corrected him, looking into his deep brown eyes. "There's been too much that I haven't said or that I couldn't say since the prom—"
"Kim," Ron tried, using her name to emphasize what he was trying to say. "It's not fair to you for you try to explain yourself when . . . " Ron's head dropped, "when I cant."
Kim reached out with a fingertip on Ron's chin, bringing his eyes back up to hers. "Not so the drama Ron. I understand what you can't say. I'm different, because up to now, I didn't understand why I couldn't, or didn't say some things. I was afraid of change Ron. You were and are, changing, growing, maturing . . . and I didn't want it to happen. I wanted you to remain my simple, goofy, weird, clueless, abnormal 'sidekick'. And I was getting angry when you didn't . . . and I didn't even know that I was. That's why I couldn't accept a 'new' Bonnie. That's why I couldn't accept you and her being on the same planet let alone you trying to help Bonnie . . . change, grow, and mature."
Kim turned her head from Ron's eyes and looked sadly out through the bulkhead. "I was only willing to change, grow and mature on my terms . . . when I didn't even have a clue what those terms were." Kim shrugged. "I could do anything so why the drama when it comes to growing up? Life is no big, why worry about it when as long as I play by the rules, keep up my grades, do as my parents ask, obey all the laws—"
"Why don't you just recite the Pixie Scouts oath and laws," Ron said under his breath.
Kim shoved a shoulder into him. "You know what I mean!"
"Yes, I do," Ron said softly, Kim having to blink, then turning her head to once again look into his eyes.
"KP," and one of Ron's hands came to rest on her cheek. "Believe it or not, I get it. That's part of our mojo. You're the upstanding straight and narrow, I'm the never-be-normal. But while I might have to grow up in some ways, others things about me will never change. And the same applies to you. You'll always be my world saving Blue Fox—"
And Ron suddenly took Kim's face in both of her hands. His voice was tight with emotions, "that's why, despite how scared I am right now of Shego and her plots, that I know that I'll . . . that we'll be all right. Because you wouldn't let anything happen to me—"
"Ron," Kim interrupted, "you know very well that 'anything' just happened to the both of us several weeks ago. And," Kim's breath suddenly shuddered, "and . . . if it happened all over again, would either of us acted any differently? I—" and Kim reached out, fiercely pulling Ron into her for a frantic kiss. Moments later she broke the kiss, grabbing Ron into her. "I couldn't live without you. I wouldn't want to live without you!"
"Tomorrows KP," Ron said softly, stroking her long hair. "Just think about all those tomorrows. You can do anything—that means we can do anything. We already have. We've beaten death. In a strange round about way to be sure, but hey, that's always the sitch for us. I can promise you," and Ron gently but firmly pushed his love back so that he could look into her eyes. "I'll make you a one hundred percent promise . . . that we are going to live together to a very old age. Don't ask me why I can tell you," and Ron's eyes now twinkled at her, "because honestly this part I don't understand myself. But something in me knows this."
"Oh Ron," Kim breathed as she collapsed back into him. "I do so want to believe that—"
Ron chuckled. "I know, but the pragmatic Blue Fox has a hard time believing in things she can't see or touch. So that just means—"
"I trust you," she breathed into the skin of his neck, causing shivers down his spine. "If you believe, I'll believe . . . but it's hard considering Shego—"
"Trust to the luck of the Ron Factor," was Ron's answer as he rubbed her back under her hair. "When combined with the Girl Who Can Do Anything, it's an unbeatable team."
Kim smiled. It was the first time that she was aware of that Ron had ever addressed her that way. It sounded oh so good.
"I . . . need to change some of the ways I do things," Kim said. Ron once again pushed her gently back to where she could see the questions in his deep brown eyes. Kim gave him a little embarrassed smile. "Monday morning, Bonnie comes back to school. I'm afraid . . . " and it took another moment to force the confession out, "I'm afraid that I don't quite know how to handle it in order to . . . give her an entire chance let alone half of one—"
"Kim—" Ron started, sounding a little worried and alarmed.
One of Kim's fingers came around and onto his lips to silence him. "I," and now her voice was quite firm, "I intend to watch you, follow your lead, let you show me the best way to deal with it all. Because you have the compassion and the ability to deal with someone like Bonnie . . . especially in this kind of situation . . . and after what she's done, she deserves the best chance she can get."
Ron blinked, clearly amazed . . . almost disbelieving. "You—you're going to let me take the lead??"
Kim gave her love a curt nod. "I think you deserve it, and . . . " a wistful smile came to her face, "and I think I need to let you . . . so that I can get use to the idea in a non-critical setting first . . . before you get a chance to try it during a mission sometime."
A worried look now came over Ron's face. "Kim, you don't have to do that. This thing with Bonnie, I think I agree with that . . . but missions . . . I know that I'm the sidekick—"
Ron jumped/winced as that finger which had been hovering in front of his lips firmly poked him in the sternum. "We're a TEAM Ron!" Kim hissed at him. "And if you're 'promise' comes true, we've got a long life ahead of us to learn and refine exactly what that means." The accusing finger then came up to gently tap Ron on the nose as his loves voice softened with a smile, "so there's no time like now to start to get the both of us use to the idea."
Ron gave Kim his best goofy smile. "Never argue with a Blue Fox, that's my motto."
Kim's eyes dropped a little. "And . . . I'll try to have some faith in my never-be-normal young man and his promise. It's going to be hard trying to figure out just what Shego plans are or how they'll start . . . and I fear that my reactions to what she said, to what she told me . . . " Kim closed her eyes as if in pain and shook her head. "Any call, any message, any girl walking up to you . . . I'm going to need you to be on your guard Ron . . . because I don't want to smother you by leaping every time one of those—"
This time it was Ron's finger that reached out and touched her, bringing her eyes open and back to him. "I promise to scream, jump and use my mad running away skills every time one of those things happen—"
Kim made a face. "Ron—this is serious!"
"Yes it is," he replied gently. "But at the same time, lets not go overboard by seeing Shego in every—"
"But how else could we—?"
"Not a clue KP," he came back. "And we probably won't until we have a chance to sit down and figure it out. But remember our talk on the way out, what you said your mother said; you need to calm down and relax or I guarantee, you're going to work yourself up into the 'craziness' that Shego wants whither you know it or not. I promise you that inside, I am still screaming in my most panicked voice . . . and as that is my part of this team . . . the 'crazy/panicked part, I do not want you horning in on my territory."
Kim flashed him another look . . . but she had to acknowledge the truth of what he was saying. "Alright," she said grudgingly, "but you better set your mad running skills on 'hair trigger' because I want you to bolt at the first sign that something isn't right. I mean that Ron," and Kim's features folded into her 'dangerous face' (only seen once before after kicking Shego into the Diablo control tower) and said, "because if something happens to you and you survive . . . I promise you . . . " and now it turned into a leer, "that after I'm done with you . . . you wont be giving me any children."
Ron made a sudden turning motion, one hand raising high with extended finger—
Kim 'smacked' her boyfriend on the side of one of his legs—all that got her was a return of the goofy grin.
She grinned back at him, trying oh so very hard to make her anxiety go away—
She did it by looking deep into his eyes—
And the smile on Ron Stoppable's face slowly faded as he found himself slowly being drawn into the bottomless depths of those shining emerald eyes that were drawing him even closer to the girl, the young woman, the life long friend, the deep, bonded love that put her arms around him and drew him physically closer as well.
And then her voice—the sound of which thrilled him down to his very spine—
"Thank you Ron, for so many things. I don't think that I can even realize just how much, and for how many things I could thank you for. You make me so . . . happy . . . and that means so much to me."
"I love you Kimberly."
"And I love you Ronald."
The timelessness of a kiss between two soul mates.
After the kiss, came a timeless period of just holding each other—
But all things come to an end—because there were still things that had to be said. But the two of them continued their close embrace, heads resting on each other's respective shoulders for several minutes as they relished the feeling.
"Did I ever say that you were the best thing to ever happen to me?"
"I thought that's what you always said about Pandarooooooofffffff!"
Kim's revenge had been a sudden SHARP squeeze of Ron's thin torso with her strong arms.
"Boyfriend now—weird later," came the authoritive order.
"Yes ma'am," he wheezed.
"I'm all ears . . . because I think everything else is broken—"
Kim in response squeezed him gently, actually rocking her young man a little as she tried to draw them as close together as she could.
"After all this time, I can't believe how good it is to hear you say that you love me. And after all this time . . . only you could understand how much it means to me to be able to tell you that I love you. I want to say so many other things to you, some of which were only a nebulous dream or a unregistered fantasy to the girl that I was for so long, blind and in denial that my one true love had been in front of me all along."
"It takes two to tango KP," Ron said back to her, once again stroking her long hair, something that she was hoping he would realize just how good that felt on so many levels. "I was too afraid to say what I felt for so long as well. I never thought you would ever see me as anything but a friend and sidekick."
Kim stopped rocking, strove to pull Ron into the tightest locked embrace that she could, tried to convey to him with both her body and her voice, just how much she meant what she was saying.
"I couldn't say how much you meant to me Ron, as a friend, as a partner, never as a sidekick even though I did sometimes say it. I couldn't say how much your patience and friendship kept me sane and level through so much of what we did. I couldn't say how much your understanding and your selflessness just weirded me, even though it may have caused you pain when I was dating all those other boys. I couldn't say how much I appreciated everything you did then, even though I didn't let you know at the time that I knew what you were doing. And first and foremost, the way you did it when I had that crush on Josh; you forgave me for locking you in the closet at school, you helped make sure my time was available for our dates, you grinned and bore it when Josh and I were fooling around with—"
Kim stopped when she felt Ron tense at that. In response to his distress she loosened her embrace so that one of her hands was stoking his hair even as his still did hers. It was her sign to him of just how sorry she was that there were certain things that she had done with Josh which Ron, when they reached that point, would not be her first. But Ron knew, and he trusted her with the fact, that the most important event of Kim's life as a woman, would be his, and only his, to have when the time came.
"I can't say," she whispered to him, "how much it means to me, that my lifelong friend, will be my first, and only, and true lover—"
"I can't say," she chanted as she drew her one arm tightly around him again, the hand on his head pressing his head gently into the side of hers, "how much it means to me, that my lifelong friend will someday in the not too distant future, become my wedded husband, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with—"
"I can't say, how much it means to me that you, my lifelong friend, will someday be the father of our children—"
"I cant say, how much I am looking forward to spending a long, long life with you my friend, my lover, my husband—"
"If you call me daddy I am going to scream—"
"Ron—" Kim giggled at him as she pushed them apart, totally failing at trying to sound annoyed. She forced herself to stop . . . and now she was gazing into his deep brown eyes. "I love you so very very much."
Ron beamed at her, "despite the never-be-normal warning label affixed to the waistband of my boxers?"
Kim's face turned to a smirk. "That label must have been ripped off during one of the ten gazillion times you've lost your pants—"
Ron grinned back at her. "I could have it tattooed on my—"
"Don't even go there albino-boy," Kim warned, one hand snapping out in a 'throwing away' gesture even as her smile touched her eyes, "any tattoo put on that part of your body will get lost in the blazing glare from your skin."
A smugly superior look overtook the blond boys face. "At least my freckles add a distinguished highlight to an otherwise perfect face."
Kim couldn't keep the grin off of her face. How LONG had it been since they had been able to talk like this—
The grin slowly faded from both of the teen's faces. Ron started to open his mouth to say—
But Kim held up her hand, stopping him—
She took a moment, gathering her thoughts—
"I remember," and once again Kim's voice was quiet, brimming with her love for the boy before her, "when I couldn't tell you 'I loved you'. When I couldn't say those words. Well, I can say them now—"
"And I know," Ron countered, holding out one of his hands so that his love could take it and they could be joined, "how much that bothered you. I was . . . scared to show too much affection for you because it was too hard for you to return it . . . without us . . . doing things that . . . " Ron's head dropped as if in shame, "I'm sorry if I deny your needs and frustrate— " he flushed in his discomfort.
Kim squeezed his hand in comfort. "I don't understand it Ron, but I'll wait . . . and I'll shut up about it. It's not easy," and Kim allowed her tone to voice just a little of her frustration, "and I really really hope that you don't make me wait all those years that we think it will be until out wedding."
"I hope not either . . . but in the meantime . . . thank you," was Ron's soft, humble reply.
"I can say Ronald Stoppable," Kim Possible said very firmly, "that along with loving you, I treasure your friendship, I . . . thrill to the way you make me laugh and smile. I . . . celebrate the kindness and consideration that you have toward me, my parents, my brothers . . . and others who may not be so deserving of such consideration."
Ron made a face at her knowing that it was Bonnie that she was referring too. Kim just gave him a helpless shrug saying, "hey, nobodies perfect, especially with a freckled face like that." Ron winced theatrically as he took the hit.
"But anyway Ron," Kim went on, squeezing her boyfriends hand, "The last several months have not been easy. But . . . at the same time, they've made me look at things . . . and look at myself, in a very different light."
Kim dropped her head, breaking eye contact. "A lot of the things I learned were unpleasant to say the least. Having ones faults paraded before ones eyes is so the drama. And I know that there are things that I have to change, things I still have to try to understand so that I can change and things that I have to decide if I should change."
"At the same time," Kim's eyes came back up to meet Ron's, "things have happened . . . to, and between us . . . that I have no regrets over. Yes, there's been pain, yes we've misunderstood, ignored, angered each other . . . and . . . I'll be the first to admit that I in certain ways . . . I maybe even hurt you . . . although I found that in doing so . . . I was hurting myself just as badly. Things happened to us and between us that we regret . . . we've been . . . confused . . . I've been . . . lost—"
"But we've always found each other again KP." Ron's response caused Kim to bow her head as she felt so much run through her at her loves quiet, gentle words.
Kim's eyes stayed closed, her voice choked . . . it was almost impossible for her to be able to say what she wanted—what she needed to say—
But she was the Girl Who Could Do Anything, and Nothing was Impossible for a Possible—
"Ron . . . I love, thrill and cheer the fact that I can finally say to you—I love you. But what I can't say . . . is how much that love lifts me, I can't say how much that love has become the focus and blessing of my life, I can't say how so very much that love has bound me to you and made you the most important thing in my world—"
Kim almost felt light headed when she felt Ron take her face in his hands, drawing her back up toward his face, her sparking, shining emerald eyes coming open, searching for and meeting his deep, steady brown ones—
"You don't have to say anything KP," was all her Best Friend/Boyfriend-Love and Life Partner said.
Their lips met—and afterwards, the warm comfort of closely embraced arms, of gently caressing hands, of heads and cheeks resting against each other—
Those actions . . . said everything that needed to be said.
A/N: Today is April 4, 2008. The first chapter of this story was posted on May 16, 2005—it's been a long journey.
First off, I want to thank whitem, CajunBear73, Danny-171984, screaming phoenix, PegasusJF, spectre666, Joe Stoppinghem, Samurai Crunchbird, Atomic Fire, Star-Eva01, daccu65 for their many reviews of the last parts of this story and an additional thank you to all the others who sent me reviews, PM's and other comments during it's long history.
Second off, I am deeply humbled (and slightly embarrassed) by my recent 'tie' with Charles Gray for Best Drama at Zaratan's Fannie Awards. I submit that the Master of Mayhem Mr. Gray should have been the better winner, but I am truly touched that many of you thought this story worthy of that award.
Thirdly, I want to acknowledge whom I consider to be the best writer on this site, with the Fannie's to go with it, Captainkodak1, the man who inspired me all those years ago to start on the journey that ends here tonight—right hand salute to you Captain, you're the best!
Okay, obviously lots of loose threads and plots. As it stands right now, there are 10-12 stories, long and short in what will be called, 'Team Possible-The Defining Years'. Considering how long it took to do this monster, I don't have a clue when all those will be done.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read this. It has been a joy on my part.
And for the last time for a period
I Will Remain As Always
Your Humble and Devoted Servant
The Wise Duck