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Story recommendation: Are you reading Nights in the Big City by Mr. Wizard. If so, you are a reader with excellent taste. If not, why not? You're missing one of the single best stories on the entire site.


"I will have to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of Sensei's death."

The ninja physician, who was kneeling by the old man's body, looked to Yori, who was also on her knees. "Of course, I shall only proceed with your permission," he added as he looked to her for direction.

Yori gravely nodded her assent, then gently placed her hand on her grandfather's chest.

"There's something ferociously strange going on here," Kim said as she knelt down next to her friend.

"You are referring to Sensei's erratic behavior before he collapsed?" Yori asked.

Kim nodded, then took a deep breath. "I don't mean any disrespect," she said to the doctor as she held aloft the Kimmunicator, "but I'd like to scan Sensei."

"You believe Load-san might be able to provide some illumination?" Yori asked hopefully.

"Actually," Kim said. "I was thinking of Mom."


"This is so unfair!" Bonnie complained as she contemplated her confinement.

"I know," Wally agreed. "The nerve of these ruffians. They took away my car! And my yacht! Who do they think they are?"

"The new rulers of Monte Carlotta," the deposed king said as he watched Rodney Gunn's press conference announcing the abrupt change of government.

"But the people won't stand for this outrage!" Wally said.

Wally's father sighed. "I'm not so sure about that," he said archly as the broadcast switched to images of joyful crowds dancing and singing in the streets. Gunn had lost no time in announcing the repeal of all income taxes, with the lost revenue being made up through the disposition of most of the former ruling family's assets (save the 200 foot yacht, which was to be the nucleus of a new navy). Not surprisingly, the move had gone over quite well with the masses.

"Then all is lost," Wally whined.

"Well, at least they left us with the castle," the erstwhile monarch said as he dropped down into a leather chair and picked up a book.

"And there are the go-carts," Wally said enthusiastically as he turned to Bonnie. "Would you like to race me?"

Bonnie looked at the former royals in shock, then contempt. "I so can't believe this!" she snapped. "Look at you two!"

"And what do you expect us to do, Miss Rockwaller?" the king asked. "We're under house arrest, after all."

"I don't know!" she said, throwing up her hands. "But we're not going to take this sitting down."

"Really?" the king said, setting down his book.

"Yes," she insisted, slamming her fist into her palm to emphasize her point. "We're going to take back what's ours."

"Ours?" the king said, quirking an eyebrow.

"Fine," Bonnie groused. "What's yours."

"Oh goody!" Wally squealed. "We're getting back my car and yacht!"

The king looked at his son with concern. Gunn and his associates had acted with brutal efficiency. And the knights had made clear their dislike for Wally. There was no question: the boy was in danger. Bonnie, however, was a different matter. She was viperous, cunning and untrustworthy. She, the King suspected, might well be able to hold her own against the knights, restore the royal house's fortunes, and, most important, secure the family's safety.

"Very well, Miss Rockwaller. Perhaps we should consider our options," the deposed monarch said, feeling as if he was about to strike a deal with the devil. "What do you propose?"


"Are you okay, Son?" Mrs. Load asked. "You're hardly eating."

"I'm fine, Mom," Wade replied. "It's just, that, wow, I can't believe I've made a decision."

"We know how hard a choice this was for you," Lontaine Load added. "We would have been proud of you regardless of what you chose to do."

"Thanks, Dad," Wade said. "That means a lot to me. You know—"

The young genius's comment was interrupted by the familiar beeps of Kim's Kimmunicator. Wade had set distinctive alarms so he'd know who was calling in: Kim, Ron, Jim and Tim, and, until recently, Team Impossible. "Excuse me," he said with urgency as he rose from his seat at the table. "Kim's calling in. I'd better see if she and Ron are okay."

The Loads watched as their son left the room to take the call from his world-saving friend. "He's one remarkable young man, isn't he?" Mrs. Load said.

"Don't you know it," Mr. Load agreed. "Now, why don't you pass me that platter …"


Wade sat down in front of his monitor, which was already on. He was greeted by the image of Kim, whose expression was serious.

"Hi, Wade," she said.

"Hey, Kim," he replied. "Is everything okay?"

"Yes and no," she answered. "Ron found me and we dealt with Monkey Fist."

"That's great," Wade said.

"Yeah," Kim agreed. "Unfortunately, Sensei died."

"What?" Wade exclaimed.

"It's been so the drama," Kim said. She told Wade about the bizarre series of events at Yamanuchi.

"How's Ron handling things?" he asked when she was done.

"All things considered, ferociously well," Kim said as she looked off to the side of the courtyard, where she saw her boyfriend comforting Yori. A small smile formed as Kim thought of just how resilient her BFBF really was: he'd saved her from a simian future, then pivoted to assist his ninja friend in her time of loss.

Wade cleared his throat, catching Kim's attention. "So, when did Sensei die?"

"Just a little while ago. We don't know the cause of death, but the Yamanuchi physician wants to perform an autopsy."

"But that will take time and you want answers now," Wade said.

"Please and thank you," Kim replied.

Wade typed a series of commands into his computer. Moments later the diode on the top of the Kimmunicator began to glow green. "Okay," he said. "Run the beam across Sensei's body."

"Done," Kim said.

"Great. Do you want me to send the data to your mother?" he asked, anticipating Kim's suggestion.

"Please and thank you," Kim said. "And while you're at it, please tell her and Mrs. Stoppable that Ron and I are doing fine. Mr. Barkin's okay, too."

"Will do," Wade said. "I'll let you know as soon as we know anything."

"Thanks again, Wade," Kim said. "As always, you rock."

Wade beamed. "Say hi to Ron for me," he said before he ended the call and watched the screen go black. He sat quietly for a moment, then began processing the data. He was going to miss being a part of the team.


At Wade's suggestion, Kim had plugged the Kimmunicator into a computer terminal in one of Yamanuchi's classrooms, allowing everyone to view the conference call on a 32-inch computer monitor instead of the communication device's small screen. Kim was joined by Ron, Yori, Master Lunch Lady, and the ninja physician.

"Okay, I'm going to hand this over to Dr. Possible," Wade announced as his image was replaced by that of Middleton's foremost brain surgeon.

"Hey, Mom," Kim said.

"Hi, Kim, Ron," Ann said. She was unable to suppress a smile when she saw the two teens sitting shoulder to shoulder.

"Hola, Dr. P," Ron replied. "You remember Yori?"

"I do," Ann said. "I'm sorry about your loss."

"Thank you, Possible-sama," the young ninja said with a dip of the head. She then looked into the camera. "Allow me to introduce two of the most honored members of the Yamanuchi School faculty, Master Lunch Lady and Nakamura-sama, our school physician."

The old food service worker nodded, as did the doctor.

"I have been most impressed with your research, Doctor Possible," the man said. "You are doing some most impressive things in the area of neurological research."

"Thanks," Ann said. "Though anything I'm doing pales in comparison to what Wade does. These images he sent were incredible. I still can't believe they were taken by Kim's Kimmunicator."

"Believe it, Mom," Kim said. "After all, this is Wade we're talking about. So, did you learn anything?"

Ann's demeanor changed. The mother was gone, replaced by the medical professional. "Sensei experienced a massive cerebral aneurysm."

"Excuse me," Master Lunch Lady interrupted. "Would this aneurysm account for a change in behavior? Sensei had been acting … unlike himself lately."

"No," Ann said. "But a brain tumor would. Unfortunately, Sensei was suffering from a grade IV astrocytoma or glioblastoma multiforme."

"Doctor P, I'm not even going to pretend to know what you're talking about," Ron confessed.

"A very advanced, aggressive cancer was attacking Sensei's cerebrum," Ann explained. "That's the part of the brain that controls thought and emotions, among other things. To be honest, given how advanced Sensei's cancer was, I would have been surprised if there hadn't been any impact on his behavior. Again, I'm sorry, Yori."

"There is no need to apologize, Possible-sama," the young ninja said. "You have explained much and, I believe, set many minds at ease. Would it be too much trouble to ask you to share your data with Nakamura-sama?"

"Of course not," Ann said. "I'll have Wade forward the information to you."

"Thank you," Yori said. "The Yamanuchi School is in your debt. If ever there is anything we can do to repay you, please let us know."

"Just take care of yourself," Ann said before adding, "We'll see you when you get home, Kimmie. Bye."

"Bye, Mom," Kim said before she ended the connection.

All eyes turned to Yori. She rose from her chair, walked to the window, and looked out at the school her grandfather had led for so many years and that she would now head. Then she turned and looked back at the doctor. "Nakamura-sama, unless you tell me otherwise, given the information Possible-sama was able to provide us, I do not believe an autopsy will be necessary."

"I should review her data first," the ninja physician said, "However, I agree that barring any surprises we will be able to dispense with an autopsy."

"Master Lunch Lady," Yori said. "Would you please tend to Sensei's funeral arrangements?"

"It would be my honor," the old woman said gravely.

"Thank you," Yori said before she turned to Ron. "Stoppable-sama, is it still your wish that I lead the School?"

"Yeah, it is," he said. "You'll be a great Sensei, Yori."

"I am honored by your confidence," she said with a bow. "My first act as the new Sensei," she then announced, "is to declare a formal period of mourning for our departed teacher that will begin with his funeral rites tomorrow. I trust that you will stay?"

Ron looked at Kim, who took his hand and squeezed and nodded, then to Yori. "It would be our honor," he replied.


The king sat back in his leather chair, his lips pursed, his fingers steepled, as he looked at Bonnie, considering what she had just proposed. Finally, he nodded. "A most impressive plan, Miss Rockwaller," he said. "Most impressive indeed. And you believe you are capable of successfully executing this scheme?"

"Well, duh," she said. "If I didn't think so, I wouldn't suggest it would I?"

"No, I suspect you would not," the king agreed. "Wallace?"

The prince sat slumped in his chair, frowning. "It sounds fine," he said. "I just wish it wasn't going to take so long."

"Look, Wally, neither am I. But if we're going to do this, we have to do it right," Bonnie said with the patience of one who'd spent fourteen years studying ballet.

"You promise that I'll get back my yacht?" Wally asked, eliciting a roll of the eyes from his father.

"And the car, too," she said with a wicked grin.

"Very well, then. Let us proceed," the king said, not knowing that while Bonnie fully intended for the royals to be returned to power, she planned to be the one running Monte Carlotta.


After Yori had apprised the students and faculty of Sensei's passing, Ron had announced that Yori was to be the new Sensei, Master Lunch Lady had made everyone work for their sushi, and Kim and Ron had spent some time comforting Yori, the two teen heroes took a walk down to the glade outside of the school walls. They sat in silence at the water's edge, their feet bare and dangling in the water, their shoulders touching, their fingers entwined.

"You were good with Yori," Kim finally said.

"Just trying to pass on the love," Ron said. "I remember how badical you were when Dad died."

"No big," Kim said as she squeezed Ron's hand. "So, how about you?"

"What about me?" Ron said.

"I know how important Sensei was to you," Kim said. "How are you doing?"

Ron shrugged and Kim wrapped a comforting arm around him. "I'm here for you," she said.

"I know," he sighed. "I'm sorry I've been such a jerk."

Kim couldn't stifle her groan. She thought they'd established that they'd both acted less than admirably in recent days, that each had offered sufficient apologies, and that forgiveness extended and accepted.

Ron looked at his girlfriend. "I know what you're thinking, KP."

"Oh?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow. "You think you know me that well?"

"Yeah, actually, I do," he grinned. "You're saying, 'Why can't Ron stop harshing on himself? We both messed up. I wish he'd go easy on himself'."

"Okay, so you do know me that well," she said with a smirk. "And I so wish you would go easy on yourself. I know how much Sensei meant to you."

"That's why I'm sorry," Ron said. "I don't want to lose you."

"What are you talking about? You're not going to lose me."

"But I could," he said.

Kim rolled her eyes. "Ron, I thought we cleared this up. Yes, I'm tweaked about your grade sitch and I wasn't happy about BB—"

Ron shook his head. "I didn't mean it that way, KP," he interrupted. "I know we're cool. I was thinking about Dad and Sensei. You never know when you're going to lose someone you care about. I mean, sure, I know that someday we're both going to kick the bucket but, well, I just can't imagine what I'd do if I lost you …"

"I know what you mean," she said gently. Then she looked at their twined fingers and gently squeezed. "You and I are a team," Kim said. "Always have been, always will be – even if we may need to remind ourselves of that fact every once in awhile. As long as we remember that, we can do anything."

"Thanks," he said as he looked at their joined hands.

Kim and Ron sat in companionable silence, watching the afternoon sunlight play on the water, listening to the birdsong. After a while, she slipped her fingers from his, reached up and cupped his face in her hands. "I love you, Ron," she whispered. "Don't you ever forget that."

"And what if I do?" he asked playfully.

"Then you will be so busted," she replied as she drew him into a kiss.


"Okay, now that's something you don't see every day," Ron said as he and Kim entered the courtyard.

"Understatement much?" she agreed.

There, in the heart of the ancient school, Steve Barkin was teaching the monkey ninjas how to play the manly sport of rugby.

"See you at dinner?" Kim asked as she gave him a buss on the cheek.

"Yeah," Ron answered. He watched Kim head off to the guest quarters, then turned his attention back to their old teacher. He paused, then headed over to the scrum just in time to see fifteen gi-clad monkeys tackle and overwhelm Barkin, who'd been carrying the ball.

"Hey, Mr. B," Ron said as Barkin climbed out from beneath the pile of simians.

"Stoppable," he grunted.

"You got a minute?"

"Sure," Barkin replied before he turned his attention to his fellow ruggers. "Okay, people, take fifteen." The former military man looked back at his one-time student. "What's on your mind?"

Ron took a deep breath, then answered. "We've got a problem."

Barkin stood before Ron, arms crossed, brow furrowed. "Go on."

"You like Mom, Mom likes you," Ron said. "She's entitled to be happy."

Barkin nodded. "Yes, she is."

"But you and me, well, we still seem to have issues," Ron continued.

"How so?" Barkin asked.

Ron looked Barkin in the eye. "I thought we were cool when we left on this mission. You seemed down with me being in charge. But then you got all, all, well Barkiny on me and tried to take charge."

"So, you thought I was subverting command authority?" Barkin said.

"Actually, I thought you were freaking out," Ron said.

"Explain. Now," Barkin snapped.

"Nuh uh uh," Ron said. "You have to ask nicely."

"What are you babbling about?"

"You and I have a, well, a relationship," Ron said. "For four years, it was all real clear: you were the teacher, I was the student. You made the rules and I had to follow them. If I didn't, you could send me to detention. Of course, you could also send me to detention because you didn't like the way I looked at you in ninth grade."

"What's your point, Stoppable?"

"You're not my teacher anymore," Ron said. "You're the guy who's dating my Mom. And you're enough of a stand-up dude to want me to be cool with that. But the idea of me having any kind of power over you is weirding you out. It's not what you're used to. And to be honest, I find the whole thing really bizarre myself."

Barkin pursed his lips. "Stoppable, if I could, I'd send you to detention for what you're saying."

"Why?" Ron shot back. "Don't like the truth?"

Barkin paused, then grinned. "Maybe not."

That surprised Ron. "Really?"

"Yeah," Barkin said. "I want your Mom to be happy. I've doing my best on that front. But I know she won't really settle into our relationship until she knows you're on board. Given our history …"

Ron held up his hand. "Mr. B – Steve – say no more: you have my blessing …"

Now it was Barkin's turn to be surprised.

"… If being with you is what makes Mom happy," Ron said, "then I'm all for it. Sure, you wouldn't have been the first name that came to mind if someone asked me who her ideal boyfriend would be, but stranger things have happened."

"Like you and Possible?"

Ron grinned. "Yeah."

"So, how are things between you two?"

"Good," Ron said. "Real good."

"I'm glad to hear that," Barkin said. "You two really are good for each other."

"I know," Ron agreed. "And I hope that you and Mom find out that you're just as good for one another."

"Thanks," Barkin said. "So, you want to join us?" he asked, hooking his thumb towards the monkey ninjas.

Ron looked at the squad of diminutive ruggers, then looked back to the guest quarters. Some serious lip smacking beckoned from across the courtyard. Here he'd most probably find pain. He was about to go to Kim when he felt a small hand tug at his trousers. It was Chippy.

"Come on," she said in Monkey. "It'll be fun. Besides, someone has to keep Mr. Barkin in line."

"What do you mean?" Ron replied in the simian's language.

"He's been threatening us with something called a crab walk."

"Okay," Ron said to Chippy. "I'm in." Then he turned to his one-time teacher, took the rugby ball, and grinned. "Stevie, it's time for me to take you down."

"I'd like to see you try, Stoppable," he said. While Barkin's words didn't surprise Ron, the man's expression did: he'd never seen the educator offer such a warm, effusive smile.


The sun shone bright the following morning as the entire Yamanuchi community gathered in the courtyard to bid farewell to Sensei. His shrouded body lay atop a massive funeral pyre that had been built overnight by the students. All those present save two wore black. Steve Barkin, being unfamiliar with the school's resources, was amazed to have found a tailored, perfectly sized business suit awaiting him when he awoke. The duo not wearing mourning black consisted of Yori, who had donned the gold-trimmed crimson robes of a Yamanuchi Sensei, and Ron, who wore an ancient robe that purportedly once belonged to Toshimiru himself. Standing by Yori and Ron were Master Lunch Lady, who wore a black kimono and Kim, who was similarly dressed.

Kim had been surprised when Yori had presented her with the garment before sunrise and told her of the role she was to play in the coming ceremony. Kim had begun to object when Yori cut her off.

"Without you, Ron-san would not be who he is today," Yori said with her accustomed insight. "It is because of you, Kim Possible, that he is Master of the Yamanuchi Ninja and the Supreme Monkey Master. It is only right that you be by his side today. He will need you there."

Kim looked at the young ninja and bowed. "It will be my honor," she said as she took the kimono from Yori. She then set it down and took the young woman's hands in hers. "As long as you remember that just like Ron, I'm there by your side, too."

Yori smiled. "You are a good friend, Kim Possible," she said as she pulled Kim in for a hug. "Thank you," she added as she began to cry.

"No big," Kim said softly.

"I will miss him," Yori whispered.

"I know," Kim said as she held her friend and allowed her to give free rein to her grief. "I know."

That had been in the early hours of the morning. Now, the tears were gone and Yori was the model of an unflappable, stoic Sensei, the embodiment of a ninja, one in whom her grandfather would take immense pride.

A hush fell over the assembly as a venerable Buddhist priest approached the pyre. He intoned a series of sutras, then turned to Ron. "It is time, Stoppable-sama," he said with a bow.

Ron bowed in return and then gestured to a student who bore a flaming torch. The torch was brought to Ron, who took it from the youth after they had bowed to one another. He looked at Kim and Master Lunch Lady, and then to Yori, who nodded.

Ron approached the pyre. As he did, a gentle breeze blew across the school grounds. The late morning sunlight danced on the leaves of the trees and birdsong could be heard in the distance. He paused, momentarily lost in thought. Then he touched the torch to the kindling, saw the wood catch fire, and watched as the flames began to spread. The fire climbed upwards, growing in intensity, roaring, crackling, casting off heat. It wasn't long before the flames began to lap at the shroud covering Sensei. Kim, recalling Yori's words, joined Ron and took his left hand in hers. His face still facing Sensei, Ron gently squeezed his partner's hand, letting her know he knew he was not alone – and nor was she.

They stood there together, watching as the fire gathered force, building until it engulfed the old man's remains. Ron thought of the confidence his teacher and mentor had shown in him during his first visit as an exchange student, then to the darker events of the previous day, and finally of a moment in DNAmy's keep during Kim and Ron's junior year of high school. The memory returned with such force, such clarity, that Ron felt as if he were reliving the moment. Kim was with him, and so was Yori. And so too was Monkey Fist, prattling on scornfully, heaping abuse on Sensei.

As Ron recalled what he'd said to Fist that day, inspired by his teacher's example, a grin played at the corner of his mouth. He extended his right arm, holding out his fist as if offering a knuckle bump, and said softly, "Nothing but love, Sensei, nothing but love."

To Be Continued