I don't own Kim Possible and Co., too bad for me. Nor do I own Kean.
Thanks to Kenny and Netherwood for brilliantly slashing and burning this before I posted it!
Kim stared up at the heavy stage curtain, the dark and heavy folds moving slightly against the breeze created by the fans. The stage lights were hot and bright, and dust motes were swirling off the stage floor. It was like a mirage. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Kim registered Barkin's voice, droning on and on into some black vortex that was about to swallow her up.
She blinked her dry, itching eyes and watched her classmate's reflections on the wavering curtain. Beside her, Ron twitched nervously in his chair, scratching at the starched fabric of his graduation robe.
It was finally happening. She'd been so busy dealing with everyday things like Drakken and Shego that her impending graduation had seemed distant and remote. Yet here it was, happening, and she still couldn't wrap her mind around it.
This was it.
So the drama.
Life as she knew it was about to come to an abrupt and immediate halt.
On her other side, Monique yawned softly. Kim shook her head a bit, trying to clear it. It had all happened so abruptly. She had come home after school one day to find her mom busy talking on the phone with a photo studio, a stack of addressed graduation announcements sitting beside her. Kim remembered vividly that she hadn't registered what her mom was doing at first. Then, slowly, it had sunk in. They were her graduation announcements. Her senior pictures. Her cap and gown. Ouch.
"What's wrong, Kim?" asked Ron.
She started up from her bed, dazed. "What? Oh…nothin'."
Ron frowned. "Yes, something." He sat down beside her. "Spill."
Kim looked desperately around the bedroom, yet finding no reassurance in her familiar surroundings. "I've never felt like this…"
Kim turned to stare intensely at Ron as if he were an addendum to her problem. "Scared," she said finally. "Scared."
Ron was taken aback. "What're you scared of?"
She continued to look at him steadily. Her voice didn't shake when she answered. "Graduation."
Ron blinked and stared back. "Graduation?" He paused, frowning. "Wait…we're…seniors, aren't we?" he asked finally in a stilted voice.
Kim sighed loudly. "Head in the game, Ron," she said half-heartedly.
A glazed expression slowly covered Ron's face and he stared vacantly at Kim's closet. "I feel like...like…Monkey Fist just threw me into a wall." His tone was vague and incoherent.
Hating herself for breaking the news to Ron, who had apparently forgotten as well, Kim felt a tear trickle down her cheek. There were so many questions to be answered; so much they needed to say to reassure each other before…before…
"Ron, we need to talk," Kim said firmly, getting off the bed.
Ron nodded, pulling his attention from the closet to her. "So talk."
Kim grabbed his elbow and pulled him up and towards the door. "We need to go somewhere…"
"Bueno Nacho?" Ron asked weakly.
"No. Somewhere only we know."
How could she have been so stupid? She'd known forever that graduation was coming. Why was it just now hitting home? Wasn't the class election that she couldn't vote in proof enough? What about cheerleading tryouts? Just last week she and her squad had handpicked next year's team and chosen a captain. Ron had even found a sophomore crazy enough to carry on his Mad Dog routine. And yet she'd never quite caught it…
A sudden spasm rocketed down her spine and she reached over and grabbed Ron's hand without looking at him. He squeezed her hand hard. "It's okay, KP," he muttered through clenched teeth. His hand was sweating. He was just as scared as she was.
Somewhere only they knew. The old treehouse perched in an oak in Ron's backyard was their sanctuary; always warm and smelling like tacos. Kim pulled Ron up the ladder and they collapsed together on the couch. After several minutes punctuated only by the sound of cars driving past, Kim repositioned herself on the couch so she leaned against the armrest facing Ron. Gently, she kicked at him, rousing him from his reverie. He blinked in surprise and then slowly pulled himself into the same position.
The sat there, staring at each other. The wood creaked against the slight breeze, and crickets began chirping outside. Somewhere out in the street, a bunch of noisy kids ran by, laughing and shouting.
"Huh?" Ron seemed surprised.
"Scared, Ron. We both are." Kim's voice held shreds of confidence
"Kim! This…this could be the end of everything!" Ron leaned forward, eyes wide, staring at her like she was an idiot. "They're ripping us apart! We're going to different schools next year! Kim, I don't even know where you'll be? We're never gonna see each other anymore…"
"Ron!" Kim sat up, hurt. "They're not ripping us apart! We'll still be together. And you'll make new friends, too. What happened to your whole "fresh start" thing, and all that?"
"Not what I'm talking about. And as for the whole "fresh start," I don't need one. I'm happy here." Ron glowered at her and folded his arms across his chest.
"Happy here? Does that mean you're staying here for school?" Kim's voice was tinged with hope.
Ron regarded her carefully. "USCA."
"What's that?" asked Kim, confused.
"Upperton School of Culinary Arts. They offered me a scholarship last year," he said tentatively.
Kim's face lit up. "Really? And you're going there?"
"Probably…" he said, still not ready to commit to anything.
"That would work!" Kim said, breathless. "See, I wanted to go to Tri-City University. That's in Upperton!"
Ron blinked in surprise. "Seriously?"
"Seriously, Ron! This can work!"
Ron sank back into the couch, relieved beyond words. He looked up after a moment. "You don't know how much better that makes me feel, KP, but it's still scary, being thrown out of the public school system like this."
"I know. Believe me, I know. But," Kim sighed and reached for him, pulling him across the couch and into her arms. "We'll be doing it together."
Ron wrapped his arms around her and hung on tight. "There's no way anything can split us up, KP."
Kim shook her head, still holding him. Ron felt his shirt grow damp where Kim's cheek was. Tears fell from his eyes and trickled down onto his friend's neck.
"And now, the Middleton High School Class of 2005." Barkin stepped away from the microphone, and the kids around her began clapping, snapping Kim out of her reverie.
"Are we done yet?" asked Ron.
Kim looked at him. "No. Now…we have to walk."
Ron grimaced and buried his face in his hands. "Can't we just, you know, say you had a hit on the site and slip out?"
All the kids were standing up. Kim took Ron's arm and pulled him up too. "Don't I wish," she said fervently, pushing him towards the aisle.
The class lined up in alphabetical order for the last time. Ron looked destitute when she left his side for a different part of the line. Rufus was poking out of his pocket, whining, trying to make Ron wake up mentally. Kim frowned. She wasn't sure anything could pull Ron out of what he was feeling right now.
People had always told her it was awesome, getting to walk across the stage and get a diploma, people clapping and cameras flashing. Some people said they had sudden epiphanies; knew what to do with their future. Some felt proud. Some were just relived to get it over with. No one ever talked about being sad, or scared to death.
For the first time she could remember, Kim was in shock. People cheering? Cameras flashing? Shaking hands? She'd done it a million times before, for things much more important than simply graduating. She didn't see her parents when she walked across the stage, or hear Joss cheering from the crowd.
Wouldn't it be funny if Drakken blew the ceiling off right now and Shego jumped into the auditorium? Wouldn't Ron scream if suddenly monkey ninjas appeared out of the orchestra pit and started swinging on the curtain? Or maybe Killigan shouting "fore!" and the back door blew open? That was what she wanted. Something normal she could deal with. Not this.
Kim squinted against the light and walked automatically across the stage towards Barkin and a few other teachers. She shook hands. They handed her a diploma. They congratulated her. Then, she turned and continued across the stage, hearing her footsteps echo.
There were the steps, leading down into the black hole that was waiting to swallow her up. She hesitated for a second, suppressing the insane urge to run back across the stage to Ron. Kim took a deep breath and stepped forward into the darkness, away from all the familiarity of her past life, and into an insecure future, where nothing and no one would show her mercy.
Suddenly Ron appeared at her side, looking as though Drakken had just used the Brain-Drain Machine on him. He stumbled off the steps, diploma in hand, then fell to his knees. Deflated, he tossed his diploma at the wall, staring viciously at it.
"Why'd they do it to us, Kim? Why?" he pleaded.
Kim hesitated a moment before answering. "Because we're ready Ron," she said finally. She continued, more confident. "More ready than most people. Look at what you've done! You invented the naco, foiled Drakken, saved the world, saved me…you even passed Algebra."
Ron sniffed and smiled weakly. "Yeah…"
"We're way ahead of the game. You go to USCA, I go to Tri-City University. We still do everything together. It's really only a different school."
Ron took a few slow, deep breaths. "You're right."
Kim grinned suddenly. "Just think. I won't have to deal with Bonnie anymore."
"Ah, yes, Bon-Bon will be history," Ron said fondly. "Ooh! And no more cafeteria food! No more lunch ladies who can't tell mystery meat from filet mignon!"
"No more Latin!"
"Hey, I thought you liked that class!" Ron protested.
"As if! I only took it cuz you did," Kim reprimanded.
"Oh yeah. Hey," he elbowed her in the side. "No more Barkin."
Kim grinned slyly. "No more food chain."
"No more public school system, period!" Ron hopped up, thrusting a fist into the air.
Kim laughed and nodded at the gathering crowd of students. "Shall we?" she asked.
"Absolutely. Look out world, Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable are about to graduate!" Ron shouted.
"Yeah, they better watch out," Kim laughed.
"Especially Bueno Nacho, they'll be packed tonight," said Ron as they made their way back into the crowd.
"Yes, but our treehouse won't," said Kim, nudging Ron.
Ron shot her a grin. "Our treehouse."
"Exactly," Kim said. "Somewhere only we know."
And if you have a minute why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?
Author's Note: As a graduating senior, I feel somewhat qualified to write this. I've gone through high school with Kim, so her graduation coupled with cancellation has really hit me hard. So: here's to Kim for getting me through AP American reviews; to Ron for always being there when I needed a date; and to Rufus for always making me smile. Also, thanks to my sister for just being awesome, and to Netherwood for being the most supportive best friend anyone could ask for and for nicely burning this story before I posted it.