"Utúlie'n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatári, utúlie'n aurë! The day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the day has come!" - Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Silmarillion.
Part 6: Getting Back Up
Chapter XVI: Night's End
When one thinks of a tower, one would tend to picture a structure of glass, steel, and concrete. If one were old fashioned, then the tower would consist of stone blocks and mortar, or even joined pillars of wood. Very few people, when asked to picture a tower, would conjure up the image of a girl thought dead, who was wearing a pink shirt and tan pants, standing between the enemy who'd tried to erase her and the lover who'd quested to save her.
Yet there stood Kim Possible, her mind and soul restored to each other, as like unto a tower of defiance as any construct of steel and concrete.
She was still poised to strike, examining DeLong with murder in her eyes. Ron was behind her and to her right, his face one of triumph as he stared at his fallen foe. DeLong himself was attempting to get to his feet, his face calm, but his eyes showed something that they had never shown before: fear. For the first time in his machinations, things were really and truly not going to plan.
A hush fell, and the room was silent.
"How?" DeLong hissed as he stood. "I did away with you myself. You were supposed to be gone."
"No, you just walled me off," Kim said darkly. "I've been here the whole time, trying to get out, but it took my Ron to call me back."
"Boo-yah," Ron whispered behind her, causing Kim to smile.
"Oh, did I also mention," Kim continued, "that I remember everything?"
"Kill them!" DeLong cried suddenly. "Shoot them now!"
The Panther Enforcers aimed their guns at Kim and Ron, intending to end it with the first volley. Kim tensed, preparing to spring and at least try and continue the fight… but then Ron wrapped an arm around her waist, and he pulled her towards him. At the same time his left hand found a pouch on his belt, and even as he heard the crack of the first rounds firing, his fingers depressed an activation switch.
A golden cylinder sprung up around them, and the bullets sparked as they impacted and ricocheted off the shield.
Kim turned and looked at Ron quizzically. He smiled at her, though his smile was pained.
"One of Drakken's shield devices," he explained. "Found it in that warehouse, figured it might come in handy."
She looked at him, and saw that he'd taken quite a beating. One eye was discolored and swollen; bruises marked the rest of his face; a small rivulet of blood flowed from a corner of his mouth; his shirt was shredded and torn, showing new wounds and bandages from older ones; she could feel, as her body pressed against his, a warm wet spot on his abdomen. It worried her, but did not hold her attention; his face was what did that.
Beyond the bruises, past the blood and black eye, was a face that looked like it beheld Heaven itself.
She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him; he reciprocated, wrapping his own arms around her body, and holding her so tightly that she felt he would crush her.
She leaned away from him after a moment, and then lightly kissed him, enjoying the taste and feel of his lips against hers, not so much enjoying the blood that was covering them. Then the kiss ended, and she rested her head on his shoulder, and smiled even as the shield held the bullets back.
"You came back for me," she whispered.
"I always do," he replied. "Uh, KP?"
She knew what he was going to ask, for she too knew about the synthodrones.
"Don't worry Ron, it's really me. Besides," she whispered sweetly, "you still owe me dessert."
Joseph groaned and awakened, not really surprised to find that his hands were tied and that he was lying on the foyer floor. What did surprise him was the sight of a Panther Enforcer, doubtlessly the one who'd clubbed him, actually taking the time to stand guard over him.
"Good, you're awake," the guard said when he noticed him move. "Care to tell me what you were doing in there, butler?"
"I'm not really a butler, kid. Name's Joe, RCMP Espionage Division, eh."
The Enforcer looked at him in anger, his eyes growing wide.
"As to what I was doing," Joe said with a smirk, "lets just say that my year here has finally come to fruition, and I've set something in motion, something that you can't stop."
The guard took a moment to digest that, and then he smiled cruelly. Though he hadn't called ahead for orders, DeLong had said that they could shoot on sight anyone who came didn't need to be there. With the revelation that he was in fact a deep-cover Canadian spy, the Enforcer decided that Joe no longer needed to be there.
He pressed his rifle to the side of Joe's head.
"Maybe," he said quietly, "but at least I can make sure that you're not around to see the result."
He smiled evilly; it was the last expression his face would ever make, for a shuriken suddenly became embedded in his temple.
Rufus had hidden behind one of the protrusions, and had watched the confrontation with DeLong from that position. He'd wanted to help Ron out, of course, but there wasn't much that a naked mole rat could do. Instead he'd scurried around, out of sight and out of mind, letting the distraction of the fight conceal him, looking for a place where he could jump in and help. Kim's return, and the ensuing shooting contest, meant that he was also dodging hot brass as he scurried around.
Then he came to the minion that was holding Yori, her arms outstretched and clamped fast in his. She was held cruciform, yet struggling to get free, but the Enforcer looked uncommonly strong.
It also had an uncommon smell, one that Rufus had only smelled a few times before.
The first time had been when he and Ron had met Erik. At the time he'd thought it to be the smell of some bizarre cologne.
Rufus scurried up the right foot of the synthodrone holding Yori, found the sweet spot, and bit.
Yori had attempted to break free ever since the fight started. She had felt no small measure of pride when Ron had put the gun down and challenged DeLong on his own terms, and though she'd worried for him as they'd dueled, she had cheered inwardly when it had seemed that Ron had won.
Now, though she could see that Ron and Kim were protected by the shield, she knew that it's power supply had to be small, and couldn't last forever. She had to get free and try to help, or else her friends would die.
Then there came the sound of a flowing, thick liquid, and she felt the Enforcer collapse around her. Then she was free, and dropped to the ground, barely missing the puddle of green ooze. Her hands went to her own belt even as her feet clacked against the hard floor, and as she stood up she let fly a dectet of shuriken. They soared through the air and sliced across the necks of the ten gunners on the middle section of the catwalk, cutting them down; half fell spurting crimson streams of blood from severed arteries, the other half fell expelling green slime.
Yori did not notice this, for as soon as the shuriken had left her fingers she attacked the Enforcer to her right, leaping into the air and repeatedly driving her feet into his chest. She then planted a foot on his face and kicked off, flipping through the air even as he fell, and landed next to the Enforcer that had been to her left. She ducked low and spun clockwise, sweeping his legs out from under him. She finished her rotation well before he hit the ground, and then she stood and kicked his back, her foot connecting at his center of mass and knocking him higher in the air. Then she spun again, this time leaping instead of ducking, and drove a kick into his ribs, knocking the man into a pair of his companions.
Then Yori charged amongst those who had surrounded her, kicking and fighting, and they could no longer shoot, but could only try to defend against her.
Ron was still laughing, despite his worries regarding the shield's power supply, about Kim's dessert remark (he'd long forgotten the cake they'd left behind in her apartment) when he saw the shuriken fly overhead. He became far less worried when he watched the entire middle section of gunners collapse, and the rest of his worries faded when he saw what happened thereafter.
Joe the Canadian, pistol in hand, came rushing out of the entrance. Behind him was Ryo, who leapt off of the catwalk, drawing his twin katana in the same motion, and rushed forward to aid his teacher; and Seiji, no-dachi in hand, ready to cut down his foes with the greatsword; and Shin, bearing a slender trident. They engaged the remaining enemy on the catwalk, and then there was no more fire coming towards Ron and Kim.
Yori, the night after they'd faced Phoenix, had called Hameln and made a few arrangements of her own.
He deactivated the shield, and then looked past Kim at DeLong. Their enemy hadn't gone for his gun; instead he seemed to be just starring at them, regarding them with what looked like respect.
"Hey, KP… it seems like this guy wants to take over the world."
"That he does, Ron," KP replied with an angry smile, and turned to face DeLong. "I guess we'd better stop him, then."
"I seem to have grossly underestimated the two of you," DeLong said quietly. "But I warn you not to underestimate me. I have beaten the both of you, after all."
"Dude," Ron said in reply, as he and Kim began to position themselves to fight, "you fought us one at a time. Now, you get both of us together."
Then they charged. DeLong found himself amazed as he watched them, for they moved as one. One wore their mission clothes: torn, damaged, bloodied, but still working, still holding together. The other was dressed as a civilian, outwardly pristine and utterly unscathed. Yet they moved as one. Their experiences over the past three weeks could not have been more different, and yet still they moved as one, with a degree of coordination that must have taken them years to develop.
He found himself marveling, for this was utterly unlike the stories he'd heard through the grapevine of Drakken's former employees. Those stories had generally involved Possible doing the fighting and Stoppable either distracting the bad guy or just trying not to get hurt. Then they were upon him, and his ruminations ceased before the necessity of concentration on defense.
Ron had been right; it was a different battle. No sooner would DeLong dodge or parry an attack from one than an attack from the other would come, and he would have to parry or dodge that one as well. But parry and dodge them he did; yet he was expending far more energy than they, and he knew that he would not be able to keep up the tempo, and would soon fail.
Stoppable had been right: fighting them both at the same time was losing battle. There was, quite simply, no way he could win unless he could separate his opponents. He had to split them up, and just needed to find an opportune moment in which to do so.
At one point he had Ron on his right and Kim on his left, and then he didn't even bother trying to defend, he simply punched out to his sides with both hands. The blows were aimed well, all things considered, but Ron and Kim were fast enough to evade them. They leapt away, and with a series of flips came to rest on their feet, side by side, standing in front him. They stopped attacking then, and motioned for him to come to them.
DeLong obliged. He didn't see a real opening, but he decided to try and make his own.
He charged them and then stopped in front of them, spinning clockwise on his left leg, and driving his right heel towards Kim's head. Ron turned towards Kim and cupped his hands; she planted one foot into his hands and he boosted her into the air, the attack passing beneath her feet. Ron then ducked, causing DeLong's kick to pass over his head, then he planted his hands on the ground and tossed his legs and body in the air, supporting himself with his arms, and scissored DeLong's right leg in his own. He then twisted at the hips and waist, which threw DeLong off balance and sent him crashing to the ground.
DeLong immediately rolled away, which was wise, for Kim dropped from above and drove her fist towards where his head had been. He quickly regained his footing, just in time to see Kim and Ron both charging him, again from his left and right sides. That is to say, he saw them when they were only two feet away from him, and about to strike.
Then Kim's hair, its length ever a danger, fell over into her eyes. For a second she was distracted, and blinded, and in that he saw his opportune moment.
He drove an elbow into Ron's gut, digging in deep against the newly re-opened bullet wound. Ron's eyes bulged in pain, and his attack skidded to a halt, but then his eyes shut when DeLong levered his arm upward and knocked his elbow against Ron's chin, sending him skittering backwards. At the same time DeLong kicked Kim in the chest, knocking her away from him. She hit a wall and crumpled.
He turned to face Ron again, and saw that the blond man was standing his ground, but only just: he was staggering from both the chin blow and the pain in his abdomen. Then Ron looked at Kim, and saw that she wasn't moving.
DeLong was not sure, but he thought he saw the image of a winged being reflected in Ron's eyes.
With that cry Ron straightened, and either the pain left him or he chose to ignore it. His face contorted with rage and he charged at DeLong. When he had enough speed he leapt off the ground, arcing through the air, his right leg held tense and ready to lash out towards Delong's head.
The attack was quickly sidestepped, and DeLong grabbed him by the ankle and then spun, redirecting Ron's momentum and flinging him into the wall. He landed a few feet from Kim's unmoving form. Slowly he returned to his feet, his stance unsteady, his hand clutching his wounded side, and pain again written across his face.
DeLong sought to increase that pain, and he moved faster than their earlier fight had indicated, and struck at Ron. Ron put up a good fight, and parried the first few blows, but then DeLong struck his wound again, causing him to stagger, and then he grasped Ron's shirt and lifted him off the ground.
They didn't taunt each other, they didn't banter; Ron simply glared and DeLong proceeded to punch his wound again and again. Ron grimaced with each blow, his hands grappling with the one that was clamped on his shirt. DeLong, for his part, looked almost feral.
DeLong readied for another punch, this one aimed at Ron's head. He didn't get to deliver it, for Kim was moving again, and she delivered her own blow to the base of DeLong's skull. He dropped Ron, who managed to land on his feet, despite the pain. DeLong tried to turn and fight, but Kim was upon him, and she dragged him away from Ron, and flung him against one of the walls.
Then she had him by the throat, her left hand clamped against his windpipe, her right prepared to strike.
"Well played, Ms. Possible," he croaked out. "Using your lover as a distraction, very ruthless; I do love it."
"Shut up," she growled. Her arm quivered with restrained energy, and tears were beginning to flow from her eyes.
"Do you plan to kill me, Ms. Possible?"
"You taught me how, remember?" she said.
Her eyes became wild, and her fingers stiffened, and her arm made ready to deliver the blow. Then Ron was at her back, and he held her arm in place with his right hand, and his left arm slipped around her waist and pulled her close to him.
"KP, don't. He's not worth it, KP, he's not worth what it'll do to you."
"Let me go, Ron," she cried. "I ought to, after what he did to me… after what he did to you…"
"To him?" DeLong questioned with a laugh.
"To me?" Ron asked.
"Ron, when I was Karen… and Phoenix… I could see and hear everything. I remember your face that night at the Palace, and your face as we fought in the warehouse… Ron, I remember the look on your face when you realized that Karen was me, the sound of your voice out there on the balcony... He meant to hurt you like that; he left me there just to taunt you."
She was crying as she spoke.
"How precious," DeLong mocked. "Of course I left you there to taunt him, Ms. Possible. Cats enjoy playing with their prey, and I happen to greatly enjoy causing people anguish. I am a cruel man, Ms. Possible… but please, don't hate me for what I am."
She struggled against Ron, trying to get free of his grip and strike DeLong down, but Ron did not let her go.
"KP… no, don't. Listen… listen to me, Kim. He's not worth it, okay; he's not…. KP!"
She stopped struggling at his shout, but Ron continued speaking.
"He's not worth having to remember this for the rest of your life, alright? Trust me, I know. Let it go."
She relented, and let her arm fall to her side, and she released DeLong, allowing him to settle to the ground. She turned and rested her head against Ron's chest as he released her arm. DeLong tried to scoot past them.
Ron's right arm shot out like a rocket and his hand clamped around DeLong's throat, and Ron literally dragged him across the floor and slammed him into the wall.
Where Kim's face had been wild, Ron's was furious.
"I'm not through with you yet."
"After that speech about my not being worth it," DeLong gasped out, "you plan to kill me yourself?"
"Don't misunderstand me," Ron growled, his voice utterly serious. "I agree with her. The only reason I told her that you weren't worth it was because I don't want her to have to go through the hell of knowing she killed another person.
"I've already walked through that hell. I've already had the sleepless nights that are filled with nightmares of the kill. I've been through the hell of loosing her; of questing to find her, of knowing that I had to kill just get close to her again. But ya know something, DeLong?
"I'd go through all of that again, willingly, if that would spare her just one sleepless night. I'd put myself in that hell again, if it means that she doesn't have to."
"So why don't you," DeLong whispered. "I would, were I you. If I had you here, I'd kill you without a second thought."
Ron paused, and looked at him, his eyes full of rage. Yet he did not tighten his grip.
"Not going to, Mr. Stoppable? Why not?" DeLong said condescendingly. "Too squeamish for it?"
Ron's eyes flashed, and the dark angel whispered to him again, telling him to kill. Ron told it to shut up. It, as DeLong had, asked why.
"Because I…" he cried in answer, both to DeLong and to his anger. As he cried, he slammed DeLong against the wall.
"… am better…" Slam.
"… than YOU!" He slammed DeLong one last time, and then held him there, pinned between his hand and the hard metal.
"Really, Mr. Stoppable?" DeLong gasped out. "We're cut from the same cloth, you and I. Haven't you gathered by now that we each have the same capacity for evil, the same ability to end life? All that differentiates you from I is the nature of our passions, and how far we are willing to go for their object. In the end, really, the only difference between us is one of degree, and not one of true substance."
Ron thought about that for a moment.
"Maybe," he said at last, "but that's good enough for me.
"Congratulations, Concolor. You get to live today, 'cause I ain't gonna kill someone who's not a threat to me anymore; that's the big difference between us. You kill for the sake of killing, I don't.
"You're beaten, I've won, and I'll just leave you here and let Global Justice pickup the pieces."
He released DeLong, and let him fall to the ground. Then Ron turned away, turned his back upon his enemy, and started to walk off, guiding Kim away. The dark angel was gone; as Yori had assured him at Alfeld, his heart had proved strong enough, and he now wielded his anger, as one wielded a sword, and was not in turn wielded by it.
The other battles had already ended, and the room had fallen silent aside from the sound of that final confrontation. Joe, Shin, and Seiji were descending the stairs, while Ryo and Yori stood in the midst of their fallen enemies, and Rufus stood upon Yori's shoulder, looking overjoyed. Kim and Ron faced her, and Yori smiled at them both, and then she and Ryo bowed in honor.
Then, from behind him, Ron heard the sound of a blade being drawn from a sheath, and then there came a whisper of movement, and look of warning crossed Yori's features. DeLong had risen to his feet, and had drawn a concealed knife, and lunged at Kim and Ron.
Ron twisted slightly, placing himself fully between DeLong and Kim. He did not turn to look, for he could hear DeLong's approach, and knew that he was about to strike.
Then he felled DeLong with a sucker punch.
Blood poured from the man's shattered nose, and his head snapped back. He seemed to hang in the air for a long moment, and then the knife slipped from his nerveless grasp, and he collapsed to the floor and lay there, twitching. His head was inclined back at an impossible angle, evidence of a fractured cervical vertebra; either that would strangle him, or he would drown in his own blood. Now Ron did turn his head to look at his fallen adversary, and his countenance was terrible to behold. Though he tried to stop her, Kim also turned to observe the death of Richard DeLong; though she did not wish to, she felt that she needed to.
"How you have fallen from heaven," Ron said at last, quoting from Isaiah, "O star of the morning, son of the dawn. You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations. But you said in your heart 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'"
Then he shook his head, turned around, and walked away.
DeLong passed soon afterwards; he had been mouthing something as he died, though no words came out, and none of them were able to make out what he had tried to say. Shortly thereafter a unit of the SAS had stormed the estate, accompanied by Wade. He had left Hameln for London as soon as Ron and Yori had entered the underground facility, for he had lost contact with their tracking signals at that time, as there was some form of jamming field in effect over much of the estate. That same field was also why Joe had been out of contact the Canadian government for a full year, and why he hadn't been able to inform anyone of who DeLong was.
During the course of the underground fight, the ninja known as Hashiba Touma had managed to locate the central computer. DeLong had kept the terminals for that in the upper house, and Touma was able to secure them before anyone could get in and erase the data. Wade had brought a small Global Justice hacker team, just in case, as well as a team of field medics, and they quickly went to work on the system.
He had also, upon seeing Kim again, nearly crushed her with an exuberant hug.
The medics had set up shop in the courtyard, and they rushed the ninja, Kim, and Ron, to separate tents. Ron took the longest, as the medic had to re-stitch his bullet wound, as well as change the dressings on the other wounds and bandage the fresh ones. Kim herself endured a long debriefing; as the Phoenix she had been privy to many of DeLong's secrets, and Global Justice needed her to divulge that information. The debriefing finished around midnight, London time, and Kim walked out of her tent and headed towards the one that held Ron. She wasn't really surprised to see Yori coming out of it.
"I trust you are well, Possible-san?" Yori asked.
"I'll have a few decent sized bruises, and should be pretty sore tomorrow, but no big," Kim replied. "How about you?"
"I seem to be, how do you say it, in one piece."
"Yeah, that sounds about right," Kim replied, sounding strangely nervous. So was Yori; the last time they had met, Kim had suspected her of working with Monkey Fist.
Then Kim surprised Yori by walking up to her and throwing her arms around the Japanese girl's neck. She quickly recovered from her surprise and returned the hug.
"Thank you for keeping him safe," Kim whispered, her voice full of gratitude, "and for helping him find me."
"It was my honor."
Kim pulled away and nodded, then looked towards the ground.
"Listen, Yori… I… I'm sorry about the boy in Paris…"
"His name was Shuu Rei Fuan, Possible-san," Yori said gently. "And you are not to blame for his death. There was nothing you could have done."
"How can you be so sure of that?" Kim asked, fighting back tears of guilt.
"Because if you could have done something, you would have," Yori replied. "The guilt lies with men who are now dead, Possible-san. Let us not speak of it again, except to remember the fallen."
"Shuu Rei Fuan," Kim whispered. "Yes, I'll remember him."
"Good," Yori said with a bow, and then gestured towards the tent. "Go inside, Possible-san. He is waiting for you there."
Kim nodded and walked into the tent. Ron was lying there on a cot, wearing a fresh shirt that covered the wounds and bandages on his torso. His black eye was already healing, the fruits of GJ's medical technology. He looked up at her, and smiled as she walked over to him.
"Hey, KP," he said, his eyes brightening. There was so much that she wanted to say to him, but she found that words would not come. Instead her view of him blurred, and she barely saw him sit up as she stumbled towards him and laid her head on his shoulder. She began to cry, the contents of her heart only able to find release in that action, and he rested his chin on her head, and stroked her hair, and whispered sweet and comforting words to her.
The tears ran their course, and she lifted up her head and looked at him. He was so unlike the animal that she had been with for the past month, gentle in face and action, yet exceedingly fierce when he had to be.
"Ron, I need to tell you something," she said, tearing up again.
She didn't even know why it was important that he know; in fact, she hadn't even wanted to tell him at all. But after his speech in the estate, she knew that she had to be completely honest with him about what had been done to her. A part of her feared that he would reject her, and leave her; utterly irrational of course, but there it was.
"KP, what is it?" he said, his voice concerned, his mind suspecting what she was about to say. He hadn't known if DeLong had been baiting him or telling the truth, but now…
"When… when he brought me here," Kim started, but her voice quickly choked, and she could do little than say a few disjointed phrases. "He… I tried to fight him, Ron, I really did, but he'd injected me with something, and I couldn't… and then he… he… and I was saving myself for you, but…"
She was crying again. Curses of damnation poured into Ron's head, but he quickly drove them out; now was not the time, and there was no point in cursing one who was already dead. However, he did know then, that despite the gruesomeness of it, he would suffer no nightmares from the death of Richard DeLong.
He reached up and cupped her cheek in his right hand, his fingers stroking her face and hair, his thumb wiping her tears away.
"KP," he said, choosing his words with care, "I know. He… he told me when we were fighting. I thought he was just trying to get a rise out of me, or something. And… and I'm no Angel Clare, if that's what you're worried about."
"Angel Clare?" she asked, wondering what on earth he was talking about.
"KP," Ron said flatly, glad that his allusion had distracted her. "Remember 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'?"
"Oh…" she said, finally remembering the story. "Wait a minute. You mean you actually read one of the assigned books?"
"I figured I should try it at least once," he said defensively. "So I read that one. Hated it, never read another, but it got stuck in my head."
She actually giggled. It didn't last long, but she actually giggled through her tears.
"But anyway… KP, listen," he said gently. "I can't pretend to understand what you went through this past month. DeLong violated you in every way, but you know what?"
His hand was still on her face, and now he used it to guide her to him.
"You," he began, placing a kiss on her forehead.
"Are still," he said, kissing her on the tip of her nose, drawing a small, but very heartfelt, smile.
"You," he finished, this time kissing her on the lips. She melted into him and returned the kiss, only quitting when they needed to breath.
"And nothing will ever change that, nor change the fact that I love you."
He gently slid his hand down her face, allowing his fingers to trace along her jaw line. She closed her eyes and leaned her head into his touch.
It was Wade, sticking his head into the tent. Kim and Ron suddenly turned towards him, and both flushed self-consciously.
"I hate to interrupt," Wade said, his voice distorted by embarrassment, "but Dr. Director just called. She's wondering what you guys want to do next."
Kim and Ron traded a look, and didn't even need to confer.
"Wade," Kim said, "tell her we want to go home."
Chapter XVII: Going Home
They had been given a private jet, courtesy of Global Justice, and it would take them home. Not to the city where their apartments, and Ron's restaurant, were, but to Middleton: their home, their history, and the place where their lives had begun and had taken shape. Ron had already been on the phone with Monique (who sounded not only overjoyed to discover that Kim was alive, but also like she had handled all the business stuff well), and she had agreed that it would be best to postpone the grand opening for a week, in order to let everyone recuperate.
At the recommendation of Dr. Director, Joe was released from service by the Canadian Government and went to work for Global Justice as the new Vice-Director of GJEUR.
Saying goodbye to Yori wasn't as hard as Ron had feared. Whatever had passed between them during his time at Yamanouchi had matured, but in a different direction than the one his relationship with Kim had taken. He didn't really know how to describe it, maybe like a brother-sister kind of thing, maybe not, but he did know that it was good to have a true ally, and friend, in her. He'd even invited her to the opening of the restaurant, but she had to decline: she and the remaining ninja would remain in Europe and assist Global Justice in rooting out Panther and restoring the GJEUR Directorate. Then Yori would return to Japan, and her duties at the School, but her remaining students would be free to choose their own paths.
She did promise, though, to stop by the next time she was in the States, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before they boarded the plan. Kim had cleared her throat good-naturedly, and have even given Yori her own goodbye hug.
So it was that all goodbyes were said, and Ron, Kim, and Wade, boarded the Global Justice aircraft and headed for home.
The plane was luxurious, apparently intended for GJ VIPs. Wade was in a seat near one of the wings, alternately sleeping and watching the control surfaces. Kim and Ron sat next to each other, towards the front, as far away from the noise of the engines as possible. His left arm was wrapped around her shoulders, and she was asleep, her head leaning against his left shoulder and chest. He was still awake, yet he rested his cheek on top of her head, enjoying the feel of her hair upon his face. He didn't fear the nightmares that would come if he slept; he did fear that if he fell asleep, he would wake up to discover that this final act had been nothing but a dream.
He'd found her again. Against all odds, even when hope itself had died, he'd found her again. At times he felt as if his heart would burst.
She had whimpered a few times, and her face had scrunched up in fear, as she slept. Each time he pulled her close and whispered to her that he was still there, and then the fear would fade and she would smile peacefully. He couldn't keep the nightmares from being born, but apparently he could help her to fight them off.
That would have to be enough.
At a point halfway across the Atlantic he suddenly had another thought, and slapped himself in the head as he remembered something he'd forgotten. Fortunately, the plane had a satellite telephone system, with a handset next to him, so he lifted his head off of hers, and then he reached over and dialed a number.
"Jim?" he said when someone picked up on the other side. "Oh, sorry Tim… yeah, this is Ron. Listen, is your dad in? Could you get him for me, please? …Mr. Dr. P., it's Ron.
"I got her."
Their plane had pulled up to a public terminal, so they were mixed in with a crowd of people as they made their way to the concourse. Ron and Kim walked hand in hand, with Wade behind them and to Kim's right, and Rufus sat on Ron's shoulder. Then the crowd seemed to part, and they saw the Possible family waiting there for them.
Jim and Tim had grown up, both now taller than either of their parents (so was Wade, for that matter: he actually had a good three inches on the tweebs). Their faces were a mixture of an old sorrow and the joy from Ron's announcement. Kim's loss had hit them hard, for despite their teasing of her in their early years, they'd loved their sister dearly.
Mrs. Possible was pacing, and constantly looked at the clock and the airplane schedule. Worry lines had creased her face, but her blue eyes had regained some of their old sparkle over the past few hours. She was anxious, but she trusted Ron completely, and had faith that he would bring Kim back safely.
James Timothy Possible sat on a booth, in between his pacing wife and his excited children. Where her face was slightly creased, his looked as if he'd aged a year for every day that Kim had been away. He hadn't been overly irritable, hadn't been unkind to anyone, but he had been somewhat lethargic, and the old excited spark had left him. Management at the Space Center had wanted him to take a break and get away for a while, but he elected to stay at work, just to keep his mind busy.
He looked up as the crowd parted, and then he beheld Kim and Ron walking towards them. His eyes widened, and his mouth broke out into a great smile, the sort that had not crossed those features for many weeks; with that smile, many lines of care were wiped away, and would not return. He stood up from his seat, and began walking towards them. His wife saw him move, and she turned to see, and then she gasped, her hand flew to her mouth, and tears began to fill her eyes. Jim and Tim simply gave each other a high-five and traded cries of 'hick-a-bick-a-boo' and 'hoo-sha'.
Ron then released Kim's hand, and gave her a light shove at the small of her back, and then she was running, and jumped into her father's arms. Then the whole Possible family was there, making a right spectacle of themselves in the middle of the airport, and not really caring a whit. They were just glad to see Kim again.
Ron, Rufus, and Wade hung back, letting the reunion take care of itself. Ron just crossed his arms and looked pleased. Rufus sighed dramatically and fell against Ron's head. Wade leaned an arm on Ron's other shoulder.
"You did good, Ron. You did real good."
Ron grinned at his younger but taller friend and gave him a thumbs-up.
"And I did it without loosing my pants!"
They'd spent the day at the Possible house, just relaxing and getting caught up. Even the Stoppables had stopped by and joined in the fun. Wade left for home around eight p.m., the Stoppables shortly thereafter, and then Kim retired to bed. Ron had stayed behind, and followed Kim up to her room. He averted his eyes as she changed into her bedclothes.
He stood there, leaning against a wall, as if he was standing guard, and watched her sleep. She was lying on her side, with Rufus curled up next to her face, and one of her hands resting lightly on his head. He realized that it was a far different sight from when he'd first shown her the naked mole rat.
Then he heard the ladder door creak.
"Mr. Dr. P," he whispered as Kim's father ascended into the room.
"I thought you'd gone home."
"Told my folks I wanted to stay here a little longer, they understood. Just… wanted to watch over her, y' know?"
"I know," Mr. Possible said, fully entering the room and sitting in a chair next to him. "Keeping an eye out for nightmares?"
"She had some on the plane," he admitted, "but so far, she's slept well."
"How about you? You look like you haven't slept well in a while."
"It's been about a month. A few nightmares of my own, I guess. Dunno if they'll ever go away."
Mr. Possible nodded slightly.
"Given the time, Ronald... when you get tired, I'll have the couch downstairs ready for you."
"Thanks, Mr. Dr. P."
They fell silent for a while. After a few moments, Mr. Possible spoke again.
"I'm sorry for what I said at the funeral."
"Hey, don't worry about it Mr. Dr. P," Ron replied kindly. "Neither one of us was thinking straight that day."
"Still, that doesn't excuse it. She's had no truer friend than you, and I'm sorry I said otherwise."
"Eh, you're forgiven. It's no big."
Mr. Possible nodded, and then fell quiet for a time. Both men just remained there and watched their dear lady sleep, her features highlighted by the moon's silver light, and each hoping that their presence would keep the ghosts away.
"You raise a child," Mr. Possible began, sounding introspective, "hoping that you'll be able to teach her to have the right values and priorities, and to always believe that anything is possible. Then one day you wake up, and discover that she has learned to value the right things, and you're proud and grateful of that, but that her values have begun to put her in danger. Deadly danger, now, and she's too old for you to protect like you used to; also, that's become someone else's job. And you wonder, at times, if it might have been better to teach her to be selfish and mean, instead of having raised an altruistic hero who might die young. But only at times; the rest of the day you realize that it wouldn't be right any other way."
Ron looked at him quizzically.
"Ah, Ronald," Mr. Possible said with a sigh. "I don't know if you understood what I meant by that. Well, I'm pretty sure that you don't now, but one day, when you have a child of your own, you'll understand what I mean."
Ron nodded, and then came to a decision.
"Mr. Dr. P," he whispered, "about that… there's something I need to ask you…"
As the two men talked in the moonlight, they did not notice the pleased and contented smile that appeared on Kim's face, for she was having a very wonderful dream.
Chapter XVIII: A New Day
They were due to return to the city in two days' time. The Possibles had planned a large get together with the Stoppables for the night before Kim and Ron's departure, so Ron decided to take the night before that and do something special with Kim. He asked her to put on her best dress, and to be ready by seven o'clock. She was somewhat curious as to what he had in mind, so it didn't take much convincing. By the time 6:50 rolled around she was pacing in her attic room, nervously awaiting his arrival even as she tried to figure out what to do with her hair.
Ron was fairly nervous as well, but for different reasons. What he was planning was just so off-the-wall, so Ron-ish, in fact, that he figured it would either count as the single most brilliant thing he'd ever done, or it would explode, quite spectacularly, in his face. He made a few phone calls and met little resistance to his idea. When everything was in place he changed into his best tuxedo, the black one with the red bowtie, not the frilly blue one he'd gotten from his dad, collected Rufus and a small parcel, and then left to pick up Kim. His parents wished him luck on his way out the door.
He'd also placed a small, velvet-covered box in one of his jacket pockets; he'd carried this box with him from his apartment, to Europe, and then back to Middleton. He realized just how close he'd come to loosing Kim, and knew that there was no more time, indeed no more need, to wait.
He arrived at the Possible residence at 6:55, and was greeted at the door by Mr. Possible, who gave him a conspiratorial wink as he entered the house. Mrs. Possible was trying very hard to keep her face from glowing. Jim and Tim had made themselves scare, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, and that it was best to avoid the temptation of playing a prank on Kim and Ron. It would have been performed out of love, of course, but they that gathered that this would not have been a good time.
Ron chatted with Kim's parents for a few minutes, his heart beating nervously, and then at 6:58 Kim descended the stairs.
The sight of her took his breath away. The dress was black, with a single strap that went over her left shoulder. It looked like the old stealth suit, or at least a dress patterned after it. Her hands were covered in black gloves that came up to halfway between her elbow and shoulder; around her neck was a single strand of black satin, which suspended a red jewel upon her chest. She stood there before him, atop the stairs, resplendent in black and beautiful as as an angel. His perception, of course, was colored by his recent fears, but even so it produced an acurate picture.
Their eyes met, and Ron smiled brightly and drew himself a little bit straighter, causing Kim to flush slightly and smile back. He walked up to the stair rail, and when Kim had reached the fifth step from the bottom he offered her his right hand. She let go of the railing and placed her hand in his, letting him guide her to the bottom of the steps. They stood there for a moment, hand in hand, and then they said good-bye to her parents and left the house. Somehow, Mr. Possible gave Ron a thumbs-up without Kim seeing.
Ron had long ago traded in the scooter for a real motorcycle, but this night he was driving his dad's car. The fact of the matter was that he still didn't fully trust himself with two people on the bike, and he didn't want to take any chances. He held the passenger door open for her as Kim got in and buckled up, and then he shut it and walked around to the drivers seat.
She asked him where they were going, and he told her to be patient, that it was a surprise. He sounded nervous, as if he wasn't really sure what he was doing was a good idea or not. She decided to simply trust him, which was a mindset that came easily to her.
Then they pulled into the parking lot of the eatery, and Kim had to admit that she was, indeed, quite surprised.
"Bueno Nacho?" she asked, one eyebrow raised. Ron almost winced, but decided that there was no turning back now.
"Not just any Bueno Nacho, KP," he said with a grin, deciding to run with it. "Our Bueno Nacho."
She smiled at the memories; there were times when it had seemed like their friendship had centered on that fast-food restaurant.
"Okay, I get that part, but… aren't we a bit overdressed for this? What's the sitch, Ron?"
"You'll see," he replied with a wink, and then got out of the car. First he grabbed the small parcel he'd placed in the backseat and tucked it under his left arm, and then he walked around to the passenger side of the car and opened the door for her. When she'd gotten out he offered her his right elbow, which she accepted with a smile, and slipped her arm into his.
Thusly arranged he led her into Bueno Nacho. Ned met them at the door, having somehow found a dinner jacket that matched his manager's uniform without clashing, and without being extremely gaudy. This was no small feat; of course, it was also likely that they simply didn't see the colors, as the lights had been turned down to about half their normal luminance.
"Ah, Mr. Stoppable, Ms. Possible," he announced. "Welcome to Bueno Nacho. Your booth awaits."
Ned directed them towards a booth near the windows; the same booth, in fact, that they had sat in nearly every day back in high school. It had been so long ago, and yet was so easily recalled.
They didn't sit immediately, though Ron disengaged his arm from Kim. Instead he took the parcel and set it on a nearby table, where he then unwrapped it, and produced a pair of candles and a small candelabrum. With a flourish he unfolded the cloth wrapping and spread it over the booth as a tablecloth. He placed the candelabrum in the center of the table, placed the two candles in the candelabrum itself, and then drew a lighter and attempted to light them.
He struck the flint several times, each time growing increasingly frustrated, but the lighter was quite simply out of fluid. He stared at the candles and lighter, and narrowed his eyes in utter annoyance, hoping that this would be the only thing to go wrong.
Kim stood behind him; her hand over her mouth, and she was trying very hard not let him see her laugh. She too had recognized the booth, and remembered what that place had meant to them over the years. Their trips to Bueno Nacho had been a welcome constant in their lives, a needed place of peace and rest in an otherwise hectic existence. One would rarely be found there without the other, and even in the days before they had started dating, it had quickly gained an unofficial title as 'their place'.
She was touched, really and truly, by the effort and the sentiment behind it, but he had always had a very amusing quality when he was frustrated at something, and the amusement was winning out. Her eyes regarded him with laughter, but it was mixed with affection and love.
Ron let out a loud sigh, squared his shoulders, and then tapped on his right jacket pocket. Rufus stuck his head out.
"Okay, buddy. No-go on the lighter, time for Plan B."
"Right," Rufus said, giving Ron a brief salute. He then climbed out of Ron's pocket and crawled down his leg, then scampered over to the main counter, which he then scaled to the top. When he'd reached the flat surface he called for Ned's attention.
"Diablo sauce," he squeaked, snapping his fingers. Ned gravely handed Rufus a single packet, and the naked mole rat retraced his steps, bearing the prize, until he was standing on Ron's outstretched palm, facing the unlit candles. With a grave air, and a final moment of silence to steel his nerves, Rufus ripped the sauce packet open and chugged the capsaicin-rich concoction. His face and body turned red, smoke came from his ears, and then he blew fire, a dragon-like jet of flame, and set the candles alight.
His job done, Rufus ran off of Ron's hand and towards the soda fountain, intent on cooling his mouth off.
Ron turned and looked nervously at Kim, who was no longer able to conceal her laughter. She was silent, of course, but the way her shoulders shook, and the crinkles around her eyes, were dead giveaways.
"Heh," Ron said with a nervous chuckle, "he does a pretty good impression of a flame-thrower, huh?"
She rewarded him with a smile and sparkling eyes, and Ron felt himself blush as he took her by the hand and seated her in the booth. This was no small feat, considering the design differences between a booth and a freestanding chair, but somehow he managed. He seated himself opposite her, and Ned brought them their food shortly thereafter.
"It's no Chez Middleton," Ron said nervously, looking down at the chimmeritos and nacos.
"Ron," Kim said, gazing at him over the candle-born fire.
"Yeah, KP?" he replied, looking her in the eyes. She smiled at him.
Rufus had put out the fire in his gullet and sat near the soda fountain, watching them, a contented smile on his face. Several of the other patrons were watching them as well; a few had been slightly put out by the differences in lighting, but they'd understood the reasoning when Kim and Ron had entered.
They conversed as they ate, their talk meandering between everything and nothing. The only pertinent content was towards the end, after they had finished eating, for there the conversation turned towards the events in Europe, which lead into what came afterwards.
"We really cut it close, didn't we?" Kim said.
"Too close," Ron replied, agreeing. "KP, when he tossed me your battle suit…"
He found himself unable to finish the statement, for he was beginning to get choked up and tears blurred his vision.
"It's not going to stop, you know," Kim said quietly. "I know we won this time, but Dr. Director called me yesterday; they're getting Europe cleaned up, but a lot of Panther faded underground, and took some of Drakken's Legacy with them. They'll start coming out of the woodwork soon, maybe even to come after us."
"That why you're wearing the stealth suit?"
"Yeah," she said, blushing. "Though it is my best dress..."
"Hey, don't sweat it KP. Remember that gadget-loaded tux Joe gave me back in high school?"
"You still have that?"
"I'm wearing it," he said with a wink. "You're not the only one Dr. Director called."
"Wow, Ron," she replied. "I don't think I've ever seen you take a warning this seriously before."
He laid his hands on the table and looked down at his empty plate.
"I've never come this close to losing you before," he said quietly. She reached across the table and placed her right hand on his left, and gave it a squeeze. He responded by placing his right hand atop hers.
Their eyes met, and their faces said more than any words ever could have. They had almost lost each other, and that produced in each of them the longing and desire to remain side by side, not matter what it took.
"If they come for us, then we'll stop 'em, just like we always do," Ron said confidently.
"Are you sure we can, Ron? We got lucky on this one, and I don't know if that'll hold in the future."
"KP, what did I say before we hit that warehouse?"
"That together, we can do anything," she replied with a slight smile.
"Exactly. There'll be no more talk of failure, my dear," he said, taking his right hand off hers, but still holding on with his left. "I'm worried too, KP: I almost lost you, and I don't want to ever have to feel like that again, like my world is ending and all I can do is sit and watch. But you know…
"We can't live our days worrying about what'll happen tomorrow; I mean, we don't even get a guarantee that we'll even have a tomorrow. But I know I can face whatever tomorrow, and today, throws at me…" he said, trailing off as he rose from the table. She rose with him, partly thinking he wanted to leave (even though the food was eaten, it was an odd location to end the conversation), and partly because he was still holding her hand, and they were therefore coupled together, and required to move as one.
She stepped out of the booth, but then he walked around in front of her, keeping her from leaving… and then he dropped to one knee.
Kim felt her legs go weak, and she sat down on the edge of the seat. Her eyes filled with tears, her breathing become ragged, her face took on the inscrutable look of one whose heart suddenly begins to overflow, and her free hand went to her chest as waves of emotions rushed through her.
'So it wasn't a dream. He's actually going to…'
Ron reached into his left pocket and removed the velvet-covered box, the smoothness of his motions belying the stark terror he felt. His heart was beating like the pacesetter in a Roman battleship of old, so much so that he was certain they could hear it on the other side of the restaurant. What-ifs, and fears of the word 'no' passed through his head, but he banished such thoughts away, took a deep breath, and raised the box towards her.
For their part, the female patrons had reacted the same as Kim, their hands going to their hearts and tears filling their eyes. The men surreptitiously traded thumbs-up and wide grins.
"… so long as you're with me," he continued from before. "I want to be by your side always, KP. Not just as a partner in saving the world, but as your husband.
"Kimberly Anne Possible," he said, opening the box to reveal a golden ring, capped by a large and bright diamond, "will you marry me?"
The Grand Opening of Ron's new restaurant, which was itself quite aptly and simply called 'Ron's', was indeed the glorious opening he'd hoped for. The day had begun warm and clear, the sky a very deep shade of blue, and completely free of clouds.
The crowd itself was quite the gaggle, a mixture of the politically important and the regular citizen. Most eyes were turned towards a round table near the windows, for the President, the First Lady, the State Governor, her husband, and the heads of the FDA and Department of Health (why they were there, no one knew) were seated at that table.
This proved to be a fortuitous grouping, for the health inspector conducting the initial rating of the restaurant had spotted Rufus, and prepared to fail it on the spot.
She was overruled by no less than four special and executive orders (thus explaining to everyone exactly why the heads of the FDA and the Department of Health had been invited), which were uttered by the diners at that table in between bites of salad.
That caused a few glasses to be raised in their honor, and caused the now red-faced inspector to leave in a huff, but it was not the most memorable portion of the night, though it came in a close third. No, what the guests would remember most was the sight of the young woman who had greeted them each at the door, and had shown them to their seats. Many had, no more than a week earlier, believed her dead; and while some had heard the rumors that she had returned, few had actually believed it.
A great many of the patrons, especially the women, commented on the diamond she wore on her left hand. Actually, they all noticed it, but the men felt no real need to speak of it. Kim Possible, then, received no less than twelve squeals of delight from people she didn't know.
When the patrons were not discussing Kim and Ron's engagement, or whatever it was that they normally talked about when at dinner, their ruminations turned towards the empty table. It was larger than all the others, and set in a position of honor, quite near to a set of windows that provided a stunning view of the nearby park. Many wondered whom it was for; after all, if the President was not to sit there, then for who would?
Then the Possibles arrived, accompanied Mr. and Mrs. Stoppable, and that question was answered very quickly. Kim greeted her family with hugs and kisses. Her brothers at least had the decorum to not make cootie jokes, her father seemed somewhat wistful (but not in a bad way; he was very proud of the woman she'd become, even if she would always be his little girl), Mr. Stoppable seemed delighted to be gaining her as a daughter-in-law, and her mother and Mrs. Stoppable were still unable to avoid tearing up whenever they saw the ring. Kim guided her family, both birth and soon to be, to the table, and sat them there in positions of honor.
It was noticed, once she'd returned to her post as hostess, after making sure that her family was being served, that there were sill five open places at the table.
The next to arrive was Monique. She and Kim both screamed, in a very girlish manner, and embraced.
"Girl, let me see it!" Monique said as she pulled away. Kim held her hand out and showed Monique the ring, again, and again her friend gave a little sigh and laid a fluttering hand on her chest.
"Ron!" Monique yelled towards the kitchen. Ron stuck his head out into the dinning hall, as the kitchen itself was open to the restaurant. Instead of glass it used a special force field, invented by Wade, which kept out bacteria and microbes but would allow a human to enter or exit.
The openings, of course, didn't stretch from floor to ceiling, except in a few places. At most spots they stretched from the ceiling to the top of a counter, or about mid-torso level. This allowed the patrons to watch Ron cook without having to stare at his backside, and thusly was an arrangement completely acceptable to all parties.
"Yo, Monique!" Ron yelled back.
"Man, what took you so long!" she yelled again, this time laughing and pointing at Kim's ring. She was also sporting a mock-fierce facial expression, one that Ron knew well, for its far more authentic cousin had been used on him repeatedly when they'd been partners for a science project.
Kim just rolled her eyes.
Ron laughed and muttered something about bad timing, and then went back to work. Monique harrumphed and made a disparaging remark about men, and then she and Kim went right back to chatting. The rest of the patrons smiled and shook their heads in complete amusement.
Then a handsome young black man, six foot three inches tall, looking a bit thick around the middle but beginning to shape up (as if he'd just left a sedentary lifestyle for something a bit more active), walked through the door. His hair was long, and tied back in a ponytail.
"Whoa," Monique whispered to Kim, their former conversation now utterly forgotten. Kim tried very hard to keep from laughing, managed to succeed, and decided that she was going to enjoy this. She walked up to the young man and threw her arms around his neck.
"Hey, Wade," she said loudly.
"Hey Kim," Wade said, hugging her back. "Sorry I'm late, but- oh, hey, Monique!"
Wade looked at Monique with a friendly expression. Kim turned to look as well, and noticed that her friend seemed to be in some form of mental shock.
"H-hi," she managed, weakly. Kim just looked amused, and shortly led Wade away to the table, where he sat down next to Jim and Tim, who promptly tried to drag him into some new form of mad science. Kim, still laughing and shaking her head, returned to Monique, who had not changed her posture at all.
"Monique?" Kim queried, becoming somewhat concerned.
"I was just crushing on a ten year old," Monique uttered weakly. Kim started laughing again and then took her friend by the arm.
"I forgot that you hadn't seen him for a while," Kim said, and then explained how she and Ron had convinced Wade to at least try and exercise. In true Wade fashion, of course, he had managed to build a device that would stimulate his heart, lungs, and other muscle groups without him having to move, meaning that he could get in shape just by sitting in front of his computer; thus proving himself, in a slightly discordant analogy, to be one of the few people who could, in fact, have his cake and eat it too.
"Besides," Kim said slyly, "he's not exactly ten anymore."
"I guess, but- wait a minute, what're you saying?"
"Nothing," Kim said, looking at the ceiling, "nothing at- ahh!" She cried out as several metal tentacles came from the door and grabbed her by the arms and legs, and then pulled her away from Monique. Several of the customers looked on in alarm, Monique started to call for Ron, and then Kim started laughing as the tentacles pulled her towards a young man in a wheelchair.
"Felix!" she yelled between laughs. "Put me down right now!"
Felix dropped her into his lap as he wheeled into the room, and she hugged him in greeting.
"We didn't think you were going to make it!"
"The plane out of Pasadena was actually on time, oddly enough… yo, Ron-man!" he hollered.
"'Sup, F-dawg!" Ron hollered back.
"I'm stealing your fiancée," Felix joked in reply.
"You do, " Ron threatened in reply, as he cut into the chicken, "and I'll kick your butt in Zombie Mayhem!"
The patrons laughed at that one (even Mr. Possible, though he did not look thrilled at seeing his daughter manhandled like that), much to the embarrassment of all parties involved.
It had all gone without a hitch, the customers were satisfied, and all that Ron had to do in order to end the evening was to finish the dessert course. He was busy mixing the ingredients for the cake batter when he heard the door to the kitchen open.
"… why would I want artificial legs?" he heard Felix saying. "They don't have enough room for gadgets…"
The conversation was cut off as the door shut (the force field also had the ability to block out sound, which he could control from inside the kitchen). He realized then that she was in the kitchen with him.
"You're neglecting your guests," Kim said quietly. She was wearing a black shirt and black-gray striped pants, customary clothing for the hostess of a decent restaurant. A pair of red earrings framed her face.
"I just need to get this cake done, KP," he said absently as he began to stir the ingredients, "and then I'll-"
"By 'guests'," she interrupted reprovingly, "I mean fiancée."
He stopped what he was doing and let his hands rest on the counter top. Two weeks ago, he had believed that he'd lost her forever. He turned and looked at her, just looked, taking in every detail and feature.
"Fiancée," he whispered aloud, enjoying the feel of the word in his mouth. "Have I said how much I like that concept?"
"Wait till it becomes 'wife'," Kim said with a sly grin, and Ron blushed at the thought.
"We're still waiting for you out there, Ron," she continued, tilting her head toward the door.
"I know… I'll be out just as soon as I'm done, alright?"
Kim nodded and turned to go. Before she'd reached the door she heard him call her name.
She turned and looked at him quizzically, and saw him starring at the bowl, seeming to contemplate something. Then he looked up at her.
"C'mere," he said, motioning her over. She came to him, and he positioned her between himself and the counter.
"Ron…" she said questioningly, but then he took her right hand in his, and guided it to the wooden spoon he'd been using to stir the dough.
"Okay," he said quietly, "hold the spoon like that, alright?
"Now, with your left hand," he continued, this time taking her left hand and guiding it to the side of the bowl, "hold the bowl steady, but at an angle, about like so…"
He helped her to position the bowl, and kept his hand on top of hers. She leaned against him, and they both smiled as Ron guided the motions of her right hand, showing her how to stir the dough. When she had the rhythm he let go of her hands, first her left and then her right, and wrapped his arms around her waist, letting her wield the wooden spoon on her own.
Then Ron Stoppable proceeded to teach Kim Possible how to bake a cake.
End Part 6
"The Fallen", a 'Kim Possible' fanfic by WesUAH, which herein concludes.
"Kim Possible" is a copyright of the Disney Corporation. All characters, aside from the Panther Group and associated characters, come from the show and are also a copyright of Disney.
The Author wishes to thank:
Willk1989, Captainkodak1, Jasminevr, Sand Lord, Godhand's Number, Gargoyle-sama, KPR, Ron-sama, Aimtbj, JMAN2.0, Mobius97, Salimoo, Darkcloud1, Zaratan, Anghammarad, BrattyBrina, Tattooed Angel Wings, Jefepato, and Hyper Kitty, for the reviews, encouragement, and support. Y'all rock.
The denizens of the RonStoppable dot net forums, just for being an interesting enough bunch to draw me into KP fandom.
Everyone who either put this story or my pen name on their favorites list. Believe me, my ego greatly appreciates it :).
All who read this tale, from the beginning on to here; I hope y'all enjoyed it.
Finally, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope this was worthy of You, and the gifts You've given me.