As with every chapter before, Kim Possible and all related characters (other than those of my own creation for the purpose of this story) are the property of The Walt Disney Company. Everything else is all mine.

The surprise "Welcome Home!" party having wound down, the twins and Rufus went back in the enclosure for a video game rematch, James Possible and Jonathan Stoppable drove down to the hospital to air up the tires on Ron's car, and Kathleen Possible and Rachel Stoppable set out for an exercise a walk around the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Kim and Ron retreated to the privacy of Kim's bedroom.

Ron lay down across the bed while Kim sat cross-legged beside him, tousling his hair.

"So, Rufus is going to have a girlfriend. How do you feel about that, Ron?"

"I think it's great! He'll finally have someone of his own kind around here. It'll be perfect. While Mom and Dad are at work and I'm at school, he and Raquel can hang out together around the house. I'm sure Rufus will help her feel right at home."

Kim recalled how sad Ron's eyes had appeared earlier when he was first told about Raquel, and even now his voice seemed to be straining to sound happy.

"That's not what I was asking, Ron. How do you feel about it?"

The question was met by complete silence.

Ron's hesitation in answering signaled to Kim that she was right: there was something troubling him.

"Ron, if you'd rather not answer right now, that's okay."

"Kim, I don't know how I feel. Part of me feels happy, because having Raquel come to live with us makes it a whole lot easier to leave Rufus home when you and I go out together. Another part of me is sad, though. Rufus and I have been so close for so long, and that's going to change, probably forever, once Raquel is here."

"Yeah, change is hard, isn't it?" Kim agreed, not knowing what else to say in response.

Seeking to change the subject slightly, she asked, "So, what do you plan to name their first offspring?"

"Offspring? You mean, like in babies? Oh, man! I hadn't even thought about that!"

"Well, now might be a good time to think about it. That is, unless you plan on getting them "fixed". You still have all that stuff from when you researched hairless pets?"

"That was five years ago, KP. Even if I do have it somewhere, I wouldn't have a clue where to look. Guess I'll just have to hop back on the web and see what I can find."

Kim wasn't sure whether she should bring up a related topic. It might kill the mood and maybe even spoil her little surprise. After some internal debate, she decided to forge ahead.

"While we're on the subject of Raquel, what do you think of this Mary Zimmerman?"

"I have to admit, based on how Dad described her, she sounds like she can do anything."

"Uh, Ron, that's my line", Kim reminded him rather icily.

"Ooops. Sorry, KP. She sounds like she can do almost anything."

"Better. You dad also mentioned that for a long time she had a crush on you. I can't imagine why, but stranger things have happened."

"Touché. Guess that makes us even. Anyway, her dad told my dad he thinks she's outgrown it."

"And if she hasn't?"

Sensing the genuine concern in Kim's voice, Ron sat up, turned and faced her.

"Kim, I know I've done and said some incredibly stupid things in the past, things that hurt you. Like you said, I was clueless about girls, and that's why you've been willing to "forgive and forget". Hopefully I'm a little less clueless than I used to be…"

"A little, but there's still plenty of room for improvement", Kim interjected with a grin.

"…and less likely to make the same dumb mistakes. One thing I am certain of is this..." Reaching over with both hands, Ron raised Kim's face so he could look her straight in the eye. "Kim, you're the best. Nobody else even comes close."

"Not even Yori?"

"Not even Yori. She and I will always share a special bond, a bond of honor, but it's a bond of friendship."

"So there's no way this beautiful blonde Mary Zimmerman might bump me down to second place?"

"No chance what-so-ever, Kim."

"Well, that's definitely good to hear, Ron, and I believe you. However, there are a couple of things I feel I need to share with you."

Now it was Ron's turn to feel a tad apprehensive.

"Uh, o-k-a-y… I'm listening."

Gathering all her thoughts and feelings together, Kim pressed ahead and opened her heart.

"I know it seems like ages ago, but do you remember yesterday, before you dropped me off at home after school, how I talked about us moving beyond being "best friends" to being a couple?"

"Yeah, I remember."

"Well, for me at least, I feel I'm moving even beyond seeing you as just my boyfriend to being something much, much more."

"KP, you're not about to propose to me, are you?"

"Huh? Oh! No, of course not, silly!" Kim exclaimed, socking Ron in the left shoulder.

"Oww! That's good, because even I know it's way too soon for us to get married. Oh, and, unless you have any objections, I'd like to be the one doing the proposing when the time comes, okay?"

"No objections. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Ron, I'm starting to see you as something greater than just a boyfriend. You're my "other half", my "soul mate"."

"You mean like in that Animology stuff?"

"Maybe in a way, but that test was supposed to help you find your "perfect mate". I learned the hard way last spring that the only perfect match is created in a laboratory. No, Ron, I'm not expecting you to be perfect, and I hope you don't expect me to be perfect."

"No, Kim, I'm not expecting you to be perfect, although sometimes you're pretty darn close."

In response to Ron's compliment, Kim sprang at him, wrapped her arms around his neck and planted a big moist kiss on his lips. After a minute or so, she released her arms, leaned back and looked at Ron with a dreamy smile on her face.

"That's exactly what I mean, Ron. You build me up; make me stronger than I would be by myself. When I'm with you, I feel like a whole person, and when we're apart it's almost like a piece of me is missing. I guess it's always been that way but somehow it goes a lot deeper now. Now I'm comfortable sharing everything with you, even things I used to only talk about with Mom."

"You understand what I'm trying to say, Ron?"

"Yeah, I think I do, Kim. A little, anyway."

"Good. Now, about the other thing I wanted to share, first, I need you to remove your shirt, lie face down on the bed and close your eyes."

Once Ron did this, Kim said she'd be right back. "I need to get some massage lotion. Don't open your eyes, okay?"

"Okay, KP."

Lying down on the bed, Ron anticipated a wonderful (and much-needed) rubdown. He was surprised when Kim hopped up on the bed without him ever hearing her footsteps, but dismissed it. She climbed on top of him, straddling his midsection.

As Kim began to massage Ron's arms and upper shoulders, she described in detail all the enjoyable and even pleasurable things she plans to do with him and for him in the future. Thanks to his power of imagination, Ron had no problem visualizing all this in his mind.

It suddenly occurred to Ron that Kim's legs were uncovered as high if not higher than when she wore her cheerleading outfit, only he couldn't think of any reason why she would be wearing it now.

Kim shifted her position further down Ron's back to massage his shoulder blades and sat down on Ron's lower back.

Almost immediately Ron was startled to feel two completely unexpected but unmistakable sensations in the center of his back.

"Kim, you're not wea- …."

Kim cut him off.

"Shush! Remember what I said Friday night in the car after you massaged my feet?"

"Uh-huh."

"W-e-l-l, just relax and enjoy it, okay?"

"Okay…"

Once she finished with the massage, Kim slid off Ron's back.

"Now, you can turn over onto your back, but keep your eyes shut."

A few moments later, Ron heard what sounded like the blinds being drawn, then a match being struck. Even with his eyes closed, he could sense a change in the light in the room, and he thought he smelled some new scent in the air but he wasn't able to recognize it.

Next thing Ron knew, Kim was climbing back on top of him, straddling him a little above the waist.

"You can open your eyes now."

Ron did so, gazed up at Kim and could scarcely believe what he saw. His eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, while his jawed dropped even further than it had when he first beheld Kim in her little black dress while she was under the control of the Moodulator.

Kim smiled, reached down and pushed Ron's jaw back into place.

"Kim! You're na-na-na …"

She placed her right index finger over his lips to quiet him.

"Yes, Ron, I am."

Ron reached up with both hands but Kim gently blocked them with hers, intertwining her fingers with his, then pushed them back down.

"Ah, ahh, ahhh! You can looky, but n-o-o touchy!"

"Awww, man! Why not?"

"Ron, you know why not. You and I were in the same Human Sexuality class together last year, and as I recall, you paid very close attention during that particular lecture."

"But…"

"Ron, I know how much we love each other, but are we ready to take that next step? Once we start, where do we stop, and will either of us have the strength to say "no" before we go all the way? Are you ready to accept the consequences, to take on the responsibilities, if we conceived?"

"No… no way."

"I know you're not, and I'm not either. I think we both know when the right time will come. Until then, we have to support each other, standing firm with and maybe sometimes even against each other if need be. There are plenty of ways we can share our love without taking that next step."

"But then why this?"

"Ron, this is something I've thought and prayed about all summer and decided I'd do sometime, probably this school year. I just didn't know when to do it. After what happened last night, and, I'll admit, after finding out about this blonde bombshell genius Mary, I felt that this was the right time."

"Kim, I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything, Ron. The expression on your face when you opened your eyes said all I needed to know."

"I guess I still don't quite get it, KP."

"Ron, I want you to remember this any time you're weak or struggling or even tempted, by this Mary or anyone else. What you see now is something you can store up here (she tapped her index finger on his forehead) to look forward to when the time comes. This (she drew her hands together, and then stretched out her arms wide to her sides and down) is being saved for you and you alone."

And so, believe it or not, after twenty-two chapters and an epilogue containing close to fifty-two thousand words written over a period of six months, that's all folks!

It has definitely been a learning experience. I realized early on that I had bitten off w-a-y more than I could chew for a newbie first fanfic, but by then it was too late.

Looking back at the goals I set for myself at the beginning of Chapter One, I feel I achieved the first (introducing a degree of realism) and the third (having lots of fun). As for the second, well, let's just say there's room for improvement.

So, where do I go from here? Either by design or by happy accident, I've left myself all sorts of loose threads and moseying plot turtles to work with in the future. I do intend to keep things more or less chronological (allowing for flashbacks, of course) simply because it will make it easier for me to (hopefully) avoid major continuity goofs.

Two story threads that will be dealt with are Kim's "simulation" with Dr. Director and Raquel's arrival/Mary Zimmerman's visit to Middleton. The remainder I'm hoping to address as time and energy permit.

A sincere "Thank you!!!" for staying around all the way through this newbie's first story and an extra "Thanks!!!" for everyone who took the time to write reviews and/or e-mails offering compliments, encouragement and suggestions.