Our Place in the Food Chain: Part XXXVIII
The humid, stormy end of November quickly gave way to an early cold snap that caught most Middletoners off-guard. The late Indian Summer had lulled them into a sense of complacency and everywhere you went you saw somebody out in their shirtsleeves shivering as the cold December winds brought in more seasonable weather. After a few days of that most everyone finally got it in their head it was supposed to be like this and broke out their sweaters, fleeces and coats.
The second week of the month the snows started, turning the landscape a brilliant white. It never fell long enough or heavily enough to create any real problems, it just made everything look nice and wintry. There never was even the hint of closing school for a snow-day. That was reserved for truly catastrophic snowfalls, the likes of which they had not seen (naturally) for a number of years. Three or four inches would fall during the night, the snow-plows would make their rounds and people went on about their business. It snowed often here and they were skilled at dealing with it.
Winter, at least what most people would think of as true winter had come to claim the city, even though the calendar wouldn't let it officially start until the twenty-first. That day came and went with a collective shrug. To most the weather was the season, not when the shortest day of the year fell.
The city almost had a fairytale look about it, gently blanketed almost every other night with a fresh coating of white snow. Where the tracks of children enjoying the winter wonderland had been the day before were now just lines of slight dimples, at least until the sleds, toboggans, trash can lids and other improvised miniature snow vehicles mashed it down, turning most open hillsides into a slick combination of packed snow, mud and bits of shredded grass.
The Winter Solstice was more memorable that year because it was the first day of Winter Vacation from school. They would be out of school clear until the Tuesday after New Years Day which, since it fell on a Sunday, meant they would seemingly have an extra day off. Mister Barkin, of course, went off on an extended rant about how in his day they would have Christmas Day and New Years Day off and that was it. Still, he wished them a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah (which happened to begin at sundown on Christmas Day) Happy Kwanzaa and whatever else they might happen to celebrate during that season.
Nobody took him to task about not being politically correct by mentioning Christmas.
That morning Kim's parents were up bright and early, dressed in their enormous, puffy red goose-down coats (so eighties!) and already had a couple large snowballs rolled up, ready to make their traditional family snowman. Anne Possible smiled as she heard the latch on the front door. Her smile fell when she noted Kim was carrying her sports helmet. She frowned even deeper as she looked down at her left ankle. The brace was gone, though she still wrapped it from time to time. Her doctor had cleared her for normal activities, but as a mother she still worried she might re-injure it, potentially making the damage permanent.
The sight of the helmet also told her something else. She remembered when Kim was fifteen and that crazy weatherwoman used some contraption to create an artificial blizzard that temporarily crippled the city (not to mention creating crazed, zombie snowmen.) Before all the bad stuff happened they tried to set up a family snow day. The only problem was, the kids were getting older. Kim was out the door and away with Ron, even the boys were off on some scheme to cash in by clearing sidewalks with one of their inventions.
The snow covered days of Kim's sixteenth winter had gone much the same.
Where did the time go?
Now, here she was again. Seventeen, on the verge of womanhood, with the man who would very likely be with her forever, now only months away from going to college. True, she was going to be going to school right here, but there she would be an adult, not her little girl.
Anne understood all too well how her husband felt about letting go of their little "Kimmie-cub."
"Big day with Ron planned?" She asked, trying to keep the touch of sadness out of her voice.
"I trust he's bringing a sled and not that awful bike of his." She asked hopefully. At least she was carrying her lightweight sports helmet and not the full-faced motorcycle helmet she preferred.
Kim frowned. "I think the bike has probably seen its last run. The back tire finally gave out and Ron laid it down."
"Oh no! He's alright, isn't he."
"Yeah, he's fine. His leather jacket isn't, but it finally earned its keep. Problem is, he did a lot of damage to the bike. The frame's a little bend, it needs new handlebars and something is hinky in the motor now. The guy at the shop said it was going to cost more to fix than it would cost to find another one like it."
"Ouch." Anne said, secretly happy the 'donor-cycle' would be no more.
"So, Ron's looking at some used cars." Anne could see the beginnings of an honest pout on her daughter's lip. Much as Anne hated motorcycles, Kim had really enjoyed sharing it with Ron.
"Look at it this way, Kimmie-cub. If he has his own car you won't have to keep bumming rides every time it rains. Plus he won't have to borrow that big ugly car of his mother's any more."
Anne looked at her husband, who was utterly clueless as to why the kids actually liked going on dates in the old Pontiac. Maybe it would be good to take his Jaguar out to Logging Camp Road some night and give him a demonstration.
That was about the moment the screaming first reached them. All three looked up in shock until they realized it wasn't screams of terror, but of joy. Ron's sled finally came to a halt at the end of their driveway, the rocket motors that had been installed there two years ago miraculously still working.
"Gotta go, Bye, Mom, Bye Dad, love ya." She said, slipping her helmet on.
James and Anne looked at each other and shook their heads.
Where did the time go?
"Hi Doctor's P! How are you two on this bon-diggity first day of Winter Vacation?" He said.
"We're fine, Ronald. You sure you're okay after that spill on your bike?"
Ron took on a mock sad expression. "No, MrDrP. I'll never be the same, my heart has been torn in two. I took the old girl into the back yard last night and buried her alone. Somewhere I though I could even hear somebody blowing taps."
"As long as you're alright." Anne said, lifting the middle section of their snowman.
"Here, MrsDrP, let me do that." Ron said.
"Come on, Ron. Don't you want to hit the park before all the good runs get all slushy?" Kim asked, looking over the hill."
"Not before we help your Mom and Dad build Snowy." He said cheerfully.
Kim stopped herself and looked at her boyfriend, who was valiantly struggling to maneuver the torso ball into place. He was strong enough by far to do this now, but he was having fun with it. Then she saw the looks on her parent's faces and realized exactly what Ron was doing.
She pulled her helmet off and threw it next to his on the sled before joining in, helping her father put the head on it.
"I sure hope this one doesn't come to life and try to destroy the house." Her father said with a smile as he shoved a carrot into the center of the face.
There was something about snow that made everything quiet and peaceful. It might have been something so simple as the soft piles of frozen precipitation absorbing sound differently though it really didn't matter.
The moon was hidden behind thick clouds and the flurries of early evening had turned into a near blizzard as night fell on Middleton. Despite the lack of light, with everything turned white it was more than bright enough to see as the longest night of the year crept by.
Still, the only light in Ron's treehouse was the faint red glow of the small kerosene heater he had wrestled up there earlier that day. School was out and Kim's curfew was lifted, but they already knew that over the next few days the traditional family events that made up a Possible Family Christmas and a Stoppable Hanukah would take up the lion's share of their time together, so they were making the most of it.
Kim almost got in trouble for the night she spent with Ron when he came home from Japan, but she was specifically honest about what had gone on. She told her father they spent the greater majority of the night talking about everything that had happened to each other and had fallen asleep in each other's arms. That was indeed true enough, though it had been her every intention to sleep that way anyhow. They did spend that night doing more talking than making out.
That wasn't the case tonight. In the morning they would pile into the minivan with Kim's brothers and they would all ride to the airport to pick up not only Kim's Nana but her cousin Joss as well. Then the whole Possible/Stoppable clan would head off to a family-style restaurant for a massive dinner which was certain to last for hours and even more certain to be…interesting given the mischief a pair of hyper twelve-year-olds and an increasingly wild thirteen-year-old could get into.
They had taken two of the special thermal sleeping bags from their mission gear and zipped them together. Considering they were meant as 'mummy' style bags, they looked a little strange, but at least it gave them enough room to huddle tightly together inside. Even so, the only clothing they managed to remove once snuggled into it were their boots, which sat beside the heater, the insides drying out from a little slush that found its way over the tops.
Ron was still doing a better job of keeping Kim warm than that little heater was.
She slipped her mittens off and found the edge of his sweater, pulling it up just slightly so she could pull the tail of his white turtleneck out of his pants. He shivered violently as her icy fingers touched his warm waist. She kept her digits there, letting his body heat warm them back up. His hands had been on her waist for some time though they were already quite warm. Not that she was going to protest in the slightest.
"Think they'll eventually come looking for us out here?" Ron asked between kisses.
"Probably. I'm sure they think it's not safe to be out in the cold like this."
"I'm not cold." He said.
"I'm not either." She wrapped her free hand behind his head and pulled him in for another kiss. Her other hand dipped slightly inside the waistband of his blue winter pants.
"Oooo, your hands are too cold." He said, though he didn't try to stop her plunging fingers.
"Cold hands, warm heart." She said as she kissed him again.
"Gonna see what other parts of you are warm." His hands started traveling up her sides. "Yes, your heart is quite warm." He grinned at her.
In response she gave his butt a light pinch.
"Oh, so you want to play dirty?" He let his voice drift a little towards 'Zorpox.'
Kim wrapped her arms around him and held him close. "I love you Ron."
"I love you too, KP."
"Half a school year left, couple more months after that and we'll be official, legal adults." She gently stroked his clean shaven chin.
"What do you think it's going to be like?" He asked, nuzzling her left ear, the one buried more deeply in her plush red hair.
"What, being adults or what we might be doing then?" She laughed a little, knowing that if either one of them said the word right now, there wouldn't be any such waiting. The temptation was there and it was strong, but she was stronger still.
"I mean being adults. Nobody can boss us around, we won't have Principal Director and Mister Barkin on our case all the time."
"Ron, you have to admit, Barkin has been a lot more positive influence on you than you've admitted. Do you see how proud he is of what you've made of yourself?"
"Yeah, but he still won't let me live down that look I gave him in the ninth grade."
Kim laughed a little bit to herself. The former military man had taken it upon himself to prove to the boy he had potential, potential that may yet be allowed to fully bloom.
"Besides, he can be proud all day long, that doesn't get me into Middleton College." He grumped.
"Actually, it may help. If you can get him to write a letter of recommendation."
"Barkin, giving me one of those? Nah!"
"Why not? If you get into the program there, that means he's succeeded. It'll make him happy, you'll be happy, your parents will be happy…I'll be happy." She kissed him long and hard, holding him tight against her.
"Ronnie, I know it makes me sound weak and like a silly little selfish girl, but I don't want to spend time away from you. That month in Japan was bad enough, especially since they weren't able to really help you with the Monkey Power thing after all. I want to be with you. When we're apart I don't feel complete."
"It doesn't matter, KP. If I don't get in I'll just go to the community college and get some credits that way. I'll get a job and start putting some money away and when I've got enough we'll get a place of our own and we can get married and live happily ever after."
"You think we'll have a Christmas tree in our place?" she asked, stroking his cheek.
"I don't see why not. I've got one here, don't I?" He pointed at the scrawny, two-foot tall plastic tree sitting on a box. It wasn't much to look at since there wasn't anywhere to plug in the lights up here.
"I guess we will, but that's not the plan I have for us. We're both going to college and that's final. I don't care if we have to pull off the same feat we did the end of school last year, we're doing it. I'm not going to school alone to fend off all the boys. I want my boyfriend right there with me." She put her lips closer to his ear. "and I want that boyfriend to be my fiancé by then."
"I could ask you right now." He said.
"No. That's one of those things we're saving for when we're eighteen. Don't be sad, baby, you know I'm going to say yes. I just don't want you to ask me until then."
"So, what exactly is the difference if I know you're going to say yes when I officially ask and knowing now that we're getting married some day? Why not make it official now?"
"Because now it's just between you and me and there are some people I love who just aren't ready for me to be anything more than a girlfriend. Heck, Daddy's had a hard enough time with all this."
"I don't know, he got over you and me pretty quick."
"Oh, let him catch us like this…" She gave his butt a quick squeeze, "…and you'll probably be fitted for a space-suit by morning."
"KP, I think your Dad's let go of a lot of his letting go issues."
She held Ron close. He was right, of course and it all had to do with him. Of all the young men in the world she had the fortune of falling in love with the one her father loved and trusted most.
Carefully she unzipped the front of her jacket, then unbuttoned her outer sweater. She did the same to Ron's jacket. It was warm enough in the sleeping bag now, especially as they pooled their warmth.
Later she dozed off, her arms wrapped around his warm torso. He hands weren't the least bit cold any more.
The dreams claimed her.
She was in Ron's arms. They were alone, dancing to music she knew was there but just couldn't quite make out.
This time there were no other girls dancing with him. Tara was gone, Zita was gone. Even Yori's dream-phantom had disappeared. She was dancing with Ron, her Ron and she would dance with no other.
Her dream eyes closed and she lost herself in the rhythm of their two hearts beating together.
Coming Soon: Senior Year Part 2: Where Did the Time Go?
Kim Possible and all related characters © Disney