Author's Note: Kim Possible and all related characters are the property of Disney. The Endless are property of Neil Gaiman, who is in fact god, and thus owns us all.
Before we begin our tale, it is essential for me to introduce you to the family of beings known as the Endless, assuming the term 'family' can even apply to beings such as them. They have no common parents, for they do not even have parents. They were not born of the same blood, for in truth, they were never really born. They came into existence as the universe itself did.
The Endless are not gods, though some of them have been worshiped accidentally as such. They are not good or evil, though some of them could certainly be appreciated as being nicer than others.
They simply are the Endless, and but the youngest of them is as old as the universe itself.
The Endless represent different aspects of creation. They do not embody or personify these aspects, they simply are these aspects. When the universe ends and these aspects no longer exist, then so too, will the Endless cease to exist. Until that day, the Endless are, in order of age:
Destiny: The oldest of the Endless, Destiny appears as a blind man in grey robes. Whether or not Destiny is truly blind, or whether he can perhaps see the intricate patterns of existence itself is a matter that will likely never be settled, for mankind is only barely able to appreciate what the Endless truly are. Manacled to Destiny's arm is a book, and in this book is all the universe. All that ever was, is, and will be is contained within the pages of this book. Worlds long since dead and not yet born are described in every detail, no matter how small, within this book. Destiny does not write this book, he merely keeps it. The book is for the eyes of Destiny only, and he keeps his secrets.
Death: Of all the Endless, perhaps Death is the most misunderstood, the most mis-represented of all of them. Death is not some cruel destroyer of worlds, nor some malevolent skeleton dressed in dark robes wielding a scythe, nor one of but four horsemen heralding the end of times. Death is simply Death. She appears as a young, attractive, pale skinned woman with dark hair, and an ankh, her symbol, around her neck. Death is not only with us at the end of our lives, but also at the beginning, though only she remembers these visits. She does not take us to some place of judgment where our eternal fate is decided, she merely takes us. It is said that once every century, for a single day, Death takes mortal form so that she might better appreciate the life that she takes from mortals and what it means to be mortal.
Dream: Now there is an imposing figure. It is said that Dream, of all the Endless, is the most conscious of his responsibilities, the most dutiful to them, save only his older brother Destiny, and that Death is far kinder than him. Dream appears as a rake thin man with dark hair and pale white skin, often draped in deep blue robes. Dream is closest with his sister Death, though in truth, Dream is far from 'close' with anyone. Perhaps Dream is the most tormented of all Endless by mortals, for time and time again, he has sought companionship, and even that thing we might call love, with them. Yet each time have the relationships ended rather disastrously, which for an Endless, especially Dream, is not an exaggeration. Dream rules over the realm of dreaming, where creatures only found in our dreams reside, and stories never finished or written except in our minds can be read.
Destruction: Perhaps it is unfair to still classify Destruction as one of the Endless, for he abandoned his post and duties long ago. Destruction appears as a large, younger man with red hair and a beard, his skin a much more natural appearing color than that of his brothers and sisters. Destruction was once the most favored of the Endless among the Stars, for it was through him, that they were able to bring light into the universe. However, Destruction has in him a love for creativity, for building things, which is tragic given his nature, and the fact that he has little talent for such things. He has since been known to roam the Earth with his younger sister, Delirium at his side.
Desire: Despair's twin, Desire is neither a man, nor a woman, and yet both, and to look at Desire is to long for him/her, painfully, to the exclusion of all others. Of all the Endless, Desire is perhaps the most cruel, a fact which has put him/her at odds with his/her brother Dream. It is impossible to describe the appearance of Desire in such a manner as to do it justice, save only for his/her deep yellow eyes. Desire is everything that you have ever wanted, no matter who you are.
Despair: Queen of a realm filled with tiny windows hanging in the void, each of which showing a different scene, a mirror in our own world. It is in this way that Despair is able to look back at you through your own reflection and you would feel her gaze catch upon your heart. Despair appears as an unattractive, fat, naked woman, her skin clammy and her eyes dark and gray, like the color of a gloomy cloud hanging over the world.
Delirium: Ah, now there is a tragedy, for Delirium was once a carefree, confused, innocent, blonde haired child known as Delight. However, that was a long time ago, and while Delirium is still confused and carefree at appearance, she no longer truly seems as innocent. Her realm is one of madness. Only a few mortals have ever visited it, and none of them have been of wit or sound mind to recall anything of verifiable import. She appears as a small child, despite the fact that she is older than the suns themselves, with a deep emerald eye and a deep blue one, her hair short, almost shaven, her clothing almost gothic.
These are the Endless. In truth, you will likely never meet one in your life, but imagine, if you could for one day, gain their council?
Our story however, does not focus on the Endless, for how could one even presume to tell only a single tale of the Endless? They are far beyond mortal's ability to conceive. No, instead we draw our focus to two mortals.
"So, prom with Erik was a big hit huh?" Ron Stoppable asked, struggling to sound, if not interested, at least supportive of his best friend.
"Yeah." Kim Possible assured, almost half heartedly. "Erik and I walked in and the whole gym just burst into applause and cheer. Music playing, couples dancing, Bonnie off in the corner, sulking; it was unreal." For some reason that Kim couldn't articulate, her tone of voice did not seem to mesh with her words. Kim was describing what should have been the greatest triumph, both of her super hero career, and her high school experience. Instead of being proud of her accomplishment as one might expect, she seemed like she was trying convince someone other than Ron that she was proud of it like one might expect.
"Sounds badical." Ron forced down the urge to choke on his own words. "So, what's on the agenda for KP and her perfect BF today?"
"Well… Erik wanted to take me to the Middleton fair this afternoon. It closes tomorrow, so I guess he wanted to get it in before having to wait another year." Kim explained somewhat uncomfortably, finding herself less enthusiastic about this day as she explained it.
"Sounds badical. Try not to have too much fun." If Kim could have seen the look on Ron's face as he spoke, it would have cracked her heart. Ron gave silent thanks that Kim had elected to catch up with him the night after prom over the phone. If she had actually come over and looked him in the eyes with those perfect green… no. He couldn't have survived something like that.
"Ron, come with us." Kim's request sounded more like a desperate plea than the friendly offer that she was hoping to pass it off as, and it caught her by surprise, which she struggled to hide as she caught herself. "I mean, I've been so distracted with Erik lately, we could take the time to catch up."
"Appreciate the offer KP." Ron's heart had nearly jumped at the request, and it had taken all of his force of will to wrestle it back down into submission. "But I think three is definitely a crowd in this case. We can catch up later."
Kim's spirits fell into the gutter, yet her voice tried to remain hopefully as she forced out the reply "Yeah, ok."
"Well, I probably better let you go KP. If you and Erik want to beat most of the lines at the fair, you better get going before ten. I'll call you tomorrow."
The pair said their simple good byes and hung up.
Ron felt himself lay back in his bed, being dragged down by the weight of his heart. Spending a day with Erik and Kim at the fair, watching the two of them lock eyes; stare at each other dreamily, no. There was no way he was going to subject himself to that anymore. He had had enough of that. He couldn't survive any more of it.
The truth was that, in spite of the breath of fresh, warm air that blew in through his window, inviting him outside, Ron wanted nothing to do with the waking world. He seemed perfectly content to just stay in his room, in bed, and hide from the real world. It had suddenly become a cruel, inhospitable place that he wanted nothing to do with anymore.
Kim Possible, his best friend, and the one person it had taken him over a decade of his stupidest years in his entire idiotic life to realize that he cared for in ways far deeper and more powerful than any mere friend, was in love… with the perfect guy.
It was as if some cruel demon had taken all the models and teen lists from all the teen magazines in the world, and from them, crafted this cruel torment in the form of Erik to take the best thing in his life away from him.
Ron couldn't fault Erik though. After all, Erik was a perfectly nice, polite guy… and that thought made Ron all the more upset. Erik was wonderful. Ron knew how it worked. With that stupid smile of his, he could make any girl weak in the knees, while the only chance Ron ever had of making a girl look at him twice was if he had ninety eight billion dollars sticking out of his pocket.
So of all the girls in Middleton, why did this cruel, evil, perfect little pretty boy have to go and pick his best friend, the one good thing that he had going for him, and sweep her off her feet?
He couldn't face a world that wouldn't even let him have this one thing to himself. He wouldn't. Let the world go on about its way, Ron would have nothing to do with it for today.
As if in response to Ron's decision to remain indoors for the rest of the day, his stomach growled loudly, betraying his intentions.
Ron just sighed, realizing that his stomach had power of attorney over his legs as he felt himself moving out of bed to change, silently hoping that some Bueno Nacho would lift his spirits.
He somehow doubted it.
Kim fell back into her pillows with a sigh, feeling very alone and small for some reason. As she looked outside, she could see the sun shining high in the air. The refreshing breeze that blew through her windows and over her face screamed that this was a day to be spent outside and that was exactly what she was planning to do. A perfect day outside with her perfect boyfriend.
This would be fun. She and Erik would hold hands, lock eyes, share a shake or two, kiss again… and somehow, somehow, Kim saw that as being the full extent of her day, and it left her feeling very incomplete.
Kim's troubled mind took her back to the night before. She and Ron had beaten Drakken, saved the world, and rescued Erik. Ron had decided to head home while she and Erik had driven off to the prom for what should have been the best night of her high school life.
And certainly, even Kim couldn't argue that it had appeared that way from an external perspective. Kim and Erik had entered together, only to receive a thunderous applause from all those present in the gym. Erik had smiled warmly at Kim as she turned to look at him, and it had made her heart flutter at the time.
All celebration aside, it was time for dancing. Sure enough, the DJ had carefully selected a slow song as a means of relaxing away the tensions of the evening. Kim had found herself eagerly melting into Erik's tender grasp as they moved out onto the dance floor. Erik looked so handsome, so picture perfect, he seemed almost too good to be true. Kim felt herself almost wishing, daring even, Bonnie to challenge the acceptability of her boyfriend. Go ahead, she thought. Let someone try to tell me I haven't hit the jackpot.
As the mood relaxed and the moment seemed so perfect, Kim's lips moved towards Erik's, the two accepting one another so readily. And that was when it had happened.
Not one thing.
No fireworks. No warm explosion in Kim's inner being. Her blood didn't rush to her face, her knees didn't feel weak. For whatever reason, the kiss seemed so… plain. It was almost like the kind of thing that might casually pass between two family members instead of the prom's picture perfect couple.
Kim's mind reeled to account for this even as she struggled to hide the awkwardness of the moment. Something wasn't right. She must have done something wrong, she thought to herself. The music was right, the setting perfect, the two were certainly dressed for the occasion, all plasma burns aside, and as every high school teenager knew, that was the night. Yet something didn't click.
Kim eventually dismissed it as fatigue after an exhausting night. She tried to move past it as she continued dancing with Erik, even keeping him on the floor after he expressed a desire for some punch. Kim felt that perhaps more time was needed. The moment was coming; she just had to be patient. If she stayed in his arms, then surely everything would fit into place like it was supposed to.
Instead, the opposite happened. Kim felt her fluttering heart settle itself into an uncomfortable and uneasy beat, Erik's warm touch no longer seemed so warm or inviting or even wanted on her skin, and the more she looked into his eyes, the more she felt like she was staring at a picture or poster of some distant, anonymous model instead of a boyfriend.
The evening went downhill from there. Dancing seemed more and more like a responsibility or duty instead of the evening's pleasure, and Kim felt herself counting down the seconds till Erik could take her home. She'd always imagined herself dancing in the arms of her date until well after the dance had let out. Instead, she had convinced Erik to take her home a few minutes early.
Erik had obviously sensed the growing tension between them and had suggested the Middleton fair as a way to hopefully patch things up without the excitement of battling super villains and killer robots to ruin the mood. Looking back, Kim realized that she had only agreed as a way of ending the evening.
The truth was that right now, she really didn't want to have anything to do with Erik. It wasn't that she was angry at him or anything. It was just… ok she didn't know what it was. All the more reason why she wanted to talk to Ron.
She felt flustered at the idea of explaining that her perfect boyfriend wasn't perfect enough. That, after all the excitement of finding a guy who simply couldn't be any dreamier, any more ideal, he simply wasn't what she wanted and she didn't have the first clue why not.
Now, the morning after what was supposed to a picture perfect evening, Kim's heart and mind seemed to be in a shouting match over the whole idea, and Kim found herself caught in the middle. She was hoping that she could talk to Ron aside while she spent the day at the fair, keeping her half hearted promise to Erik. Perhaps get a new perspective if she just laid it all out for her best friend. For some reason, Ron Stoppable had a gift for seeing things at their most… simplest.
For Ron, everything was either black or white. Good or bad. Nacos or monkeys. In many ways, she envied that about him.
Ron stared apathetically at the tray of cheese covered delicacies arrayed before him. He had gone for the double super size, desperately hoping to gorge his problems out of body and mind. Instead, he had filled himself just enough to satisfy the grumbling of his stomach, allowing his tiniest friend, Rufus, to finish off the leftovers with a ravenous fury.
Ron could only let out a sigh. It seemed it was all he had the strength for. Once again, he desperately sought out the motivation to move, and found none.
He looked across the booth to the empty seat in front of him and found himself longing for a very familiar, friendly face to speak to. He could almost picture her in her lime green tank top and blue denim pants with her warm smile sitting opposite him as she had so many times in the past.
Ron finally found the motivation to get up and leave. His memories were tormenting him as they adjusted with recent ones to fill in where Erik would sit, directly next to her, the two lost in each others eyes.
As he moved for the door, Ron was so disheartened, that he failed to watch where he was walking, or who he was walking into. Therefore, he found himself just as surprised as his target as he crashed right into a female voice, sending the both of them stumbling backwards.
"Ouch!" The female voice cried.
"Ooh! My bad, I am so sorry, I wasn't looking. It's my… bad." Ron felt his breath fade away as he caught sight of the woman before him. She was dressed in black pants with a black tank top, her skin pale white. A strange symbol on a pendent dangled around her neck, waving in the air as she collected herself. Ron estimated her to be in at least her late twenties.
"No problem. I'm kinda off today myself." She explained, her smile never wavering in the slightest. Ron could not help but feel a connection immediately, as if this complete stranger was somehow intimately familiar to him. He knew that he had never met her before in his life, yet was convinced that he should know who she was.
"Uh... hi. I'm Ron." Ron explained somewhat uncomfortably, in spite of a total sense of ease that seemed to over take him as he extended his hand outward.
"Hi Ron. I'm… you can call me Didi." The woman seemed a little nervous as she introduced herself, but it quickly faded as she took his hand. She felt so warm to the touch, her eyes so relaxing.
"Didi?" For some reason, Ron knew that that wasn't right. Never the less, he dismissed it as he asked the burning question on his mind. "Do I know you? I know I haven't seen you around, I'm pretty sure I'd remember you."
Didi just smiled. "Oh, I get around. Not today though. Today is my day off. I don't mind telling you I don't get much time off, so I plan on making the most of it. So, what is there to do around here anyway?"
Ron was caught off guard by the casualness of the question. He suddenly found himself recalling childhood warnings about speaking to strangers. Yet feeling perfectly at ease around this complete stranger, he cursed his tongue as he heard himself say "Well, the Middleton fair is open till tomorrow."
"Great. Let's go." With that, Didi casually wrapped her arms around Ron's as she took him in tow.
"What? Me?" Ron stuttered as he struggled to keep up.
"Sure. Why not? You look like a guy who knows how to show a girl a good time." Didi smiled as if she was teasing along an old friend as she spoke. "Besides, I rarely get a chance to just sit down and speak to someone in my line of work, and it'll be fun."
"Wait. What? Hold on…" Ron's fatigued mind felt like he was pacing through a dream as he spoke, trying to keep up with this strange woman. "How do you know what I'm like?"
"I've got a sense about people. Never wrong. Trust me." Didi explained confidently.
"Wow, this is pretty…"
"Badical?" Kim finished.
"Actually, I was going to say 'amazing.'" Erik corrected, failing to notice the slight disheartenment that crept along Kim's features, as he was too busy taking in the sights.
The Middleton fair really was a sight to behold. Its size and scope made it seem more like an actual amusement park than a city sponsored event. Still, with impressive contributions from numerous local industries over the years, including the Space and Medical centers, the Middleton fair was quite a spectacle. Everything from full blown rides to games to countless other distractions.
Kim found herself recalling back to times spent with Ron. As little kids coming here with their families, the pair had managed to get themselves lost amongst the crowds only a few minutes after their arrival, as Ronnie could not be restrained, even by little Kimmie, from seeing some of the sights without bothering to wait for his parents. Yet little Ronnie wouldn't let something so trivial as being separated from the mature adults distract him from a good time, especially not with his best friend at his side, as he eagerly went on every ride or attraction that would permit someone of his height. As much as responsible young Kimmie had insisted on the need for them to find their parents, she too found her worries and cares eventually swept away by the thrill of the rides and the day spent with just her best friend at her side.
At the end of the day, the pair had both received strict lectures from both sets of parents about wandering off alone and not scaring their parents ever again. That hadn't stopped them from riding home with satisfied, almost triumphant grins on their faces.
Now, Kim found herself with a young man who seemed to feel more and more like a stranger to her. Kim felt Erik's hand reach out, taking her own gently. She looked to see his gentle smile, and returned a polite smile of her own, even as she tried to think of some excuse to free her hand from his.
"Are you sure you want to be here?" Ron asked, even as shelled out the cash to pay for their tickets. It seemed that Didi didn't carry any cash on her, so of course Ron was given the honor of covering the difference.
"It's been a while since I was at one of these and had a good time. The last one I went to, some guy had a heart attack after over pushing himself at one of those hot dog eating contests." Didi explained.
"Oh man. Poor guy." Ron offered.
"Couldn't really stay for much after that." Didi explained simply, even as she enthusiastically rushed over to a carousel, Ron struggling to keep up with her.
"Aren't you a little old for one those?" Ron asked with a wry smile, amazed that any girl older than five would ever choose that as their first activity of the day.
"Older than you think." Didi insisted confidently "and let me tell you, you're never too old for a carousel." She giggled even as she rushed anxiously onto one of the wooden horses. Ron felt himself caught up in her enthusiasm, even to the point of smiling for the first time all day as he hurried up on top of the fixed horse next to her.
The carousel music began even as Ron felt the ride beneath him start. Didi shouted in excitement with several other smaller children on the ride, laughing almost immediately as the ride began to pick up speed. Sure enough, her high spirits were infectious, as Ron felt himself laughing the whole time with her.
"You hit the clown?" Didi burst, laughing loudly the whole time as Ron recounted his previous experiences.
"I didn't hit him, I just… sorta… gave him a new look. He carried an umbrella with him after that. But I learned my lesson, no heavy meals before rides. Now, I'm a walking fortress of fortitude." Ron admitted proudly, poorly suppressing a wide grin.
"Shut up." Didi laughed, playfully slapping Ron's arm even as she cuddled tightly the overstuffed bear that Ron had won for her. "For a fortress of fortitude, you were looking a little dizzy after that carousel."
"Says the girl who nearly fell off her horse trying to get off." Ron countered, even as Didi pretended to look off in the distance innocently.
"It's been a long time since I was on one of those." Didi admitted quietly.
"Oooh, there, there." Rufus consoled from atop Didi's shoulder, having taken perch there quite comfortably. There was something about Didi that Rufus liked… really liked.
"Thanks Rufus." Didi replied appreciatively as she gave the mole rat a kiss on his tiny cheek. "At least someone is on my side."
"Traitor." Ron shot.
In response, both Rufus and Didi stuck their tongues out simultaneously, spitting their righteous raspberries at him.
"So, what next?" Ron asked anxiously. "I'm kinda hungry, and the midway usually serves up a mean barbeque."
The voice from behind nearly froze Ron Stoppable in his tracks. He found his chest seize him tightly, his heart beating at such a pace that it seemed like it might burst through his ribs.
"KP!" Ron almost shouted the words.
"Kim?" Rufus looked up in surprise.
"Hi Ron." Erik greeted politely, even as he caught up with Kim. In truth, he had had to sprint in order to catch up with her after Kim took off at the sight of Ron.
"I-I thought you weren't coming." Kim's voice was soft, almost hurt.
"He wasn't." Didi interjected, as she stepped between the two. "I kinda dragged him here." She explained as she extended her hand. "Call me Didi."
"Kim Possible." Kim took the strange woman's hand, even as she eyed her warily. She had to be at least thirty years of age, and that skin. She seemed so out of place amidst all the bright, exuberant colors of the fairgrounds. "Ron, do you know this woman?" Kim turned back to her best friend.
"You know, I'm really not sure." Ron admitted truthfully.
"It's my day off." Didi explained. "I was just looking to relax, and thought Ron here would be fun to hang out with. And he's been such a gentleman." Didi insisted, even as she gave him a friendly hug, oblivious to Kim's gritting teeth.
"Well, if you guys are here, you want to hang out with us?" Erik offered. "Just the four of us. We could probably conquer some mean rides together."
"We…we could do that." Kim agreed, hopefully.
"Oh no." Didi insisted, cutting Ron off before he could say anything. "We don't want to impose on you two. You're obviously in the middle of your day; we don't want to drag you with us."
Ron could feel himself try to express a thought or two to the contrary. Instead, he was held prisoner by Didi's eyes as she looked at him, smiling innocently the whole time.
"It's no bother, really." Kim assured softly, even as the ire from her threatened to vaporize Didi right on the spot.
"It's cool KP." Ron heard himself say, failing to note the look of shock on Rufus' face. "We'll let you two go. We'll catch up later tonight. I'll call you." Ron kicked himself, even as forced his worst fake smile ever.
"Well, guess that's that." Didi added brightly, even as she took Ron's arm back in her own as she waved off. "So long. By the way, Erik, be sure to wait for the green walk light."
Erik wore a look of confusion on his face as he tried to appreciate the reason for such an odd statement, or for that matter, whether or not he had even told her his name.
"Mmm. Oh, you weren't kidding about the barbeque." Didi exclaimed delightedly as she licked her fingers clean of her third set of ribs. She and Ron had picked a nice spot under the trees to grab some lunch. For the second time today, Ron found himself not very hungry in spite of the mouth watering meal arrayed before him.
A jab at Ron's side attracted his attention down towards a pink, upset face. Rufus eyed Ron squarely, a look of fierce disappointment in his eyes as the naked mole rat silently demanded an explanation for the same thing that had been bugging Ron.
"Didi…" Ron finally built up the courage to speak. "why couldn't we hang out with KP? I mean, she offered…"
"No, her boyfriend offered." Didi reminded without even bothering to look up.
"Hoo, but… Kim!" Rufus exclaimed pleadingly.
"Well, what about her?" Didi asked innocently.
"What about her?" Ron repeated the question incredulously. "Well, she's smart, gorgeous, and funny, has an amazing voice, she's… well she's just the most amazing person I've ever met."
"Ok." Didi replied simply before finally twisting the knife and driving the point home. "Did you ever tell her that?"
Ron's jaw dropped wide open, possibly in desperate hopes than an answer would provide itself. Instead, the sound of Ron's throat aching to speak heard.
"Hoo… busted." Rufus let out as he seemed to deflate every bit as much as Ron.
"I knew it, I knew it!" Didi exclaimed triumphantly. "And, I think I know why she's here with her boyfriend and not you." Didi offered humbly. "Now if I'd let them tag along with us, she'd be holding her date's hand, and it would be sheer torture for you every step of the way, which in turn would ruin my day off, and that is simply not an option. This way, she can see just how green the grass really is and you can take some time to clear your head."
For a moment longer there was silence as Ron processed Didi's explanation.
"Is it that obvious?" Ron finally asked, defeated.
"It's written all over your face." Didi smiled warmly as she reached out to take his shoulder in sympathy. "You've got it baad." Didi offered sympathetically.
"I can't believe this. Something's not right." Kim insisted, fumingly, even as she and Erik remained in line for a ride that didn't appear to have too long of a wait.
"Well, this is taking a little longer than you would think, I wonder if…"
"He'd never go to the fair with some complete stranger. And the way she was dressed!" Kim went on, oblivious of Erik's misdirected observation.
"Oh, that." Erik noted, realizing he was treading on dangerous territory. "Well, I don't think she's going to hurt him. I mean, if she wanted to, I really don't think she'd take him to a public fair." He offered.
"Oh please. You saw her, that skin color, those clothes, that ankh around her neck. She's got to be a member of some sort of sick cult. They probably have some kind of hidden ritual temple underneath the fair ground!" Kim felt her blood pressure rising with each passing moment, finding it more and more difficult to stand still. "We've got to warn him."
"Whoa, whoa." Erik placed his hands around her arms to catch her even as she attempted to march right out of their place in line. "Come on now. Don't you think you're over reacting? Ron's a tough guy; he can take care of himself."
"So?" Kim turned to look at Erik with a look that made the young man fear for his physical well being. "That doesn't mean I'm going to sit back and let that freak have her way with him!"
"'Have her way with him?' Who ever said anything about that?" Erik tried to maintain his firm grip on reason, hoping he might even tether Kim with it as well. "Look, if you like, we can try to find them again after this ride, just to check up on him." He offered hopefully. "Just, try to relax till then."
Kim took a deep breath, much to Erik's relief, before beginning "Ok. One ride, then we go make sure he's ok." Kim reiterated.
"Deal." Erik forced a smile as he leaned down, his lips gracing hers yet again. As they met, it happened again… nothing.
Once again, Kim struggled to hide her disappointment behind a weak smile as she turned away, supposedly in the direction of the moving line that they waited in, even as her mind and heart began their internal dispute once again, all concern for Ron now a thing of the past.
What was she doing wrong? Even after all this time, there were still no fireworks between them. Not like when…
Oh you can't be serious! Her subconscious began. You can't want to think about… that… now!
"Kim's the best thing that's ever happened to me." Ron explained with no uncertainty, looking down into the grass bitterly. "And now that she has a smokin' new BF, she doesn't need her best friend around anymore."
Rufus let out a small whimper as he patted Ron's side sympathetically.
"Why don't you just tell her how you feel?" Didi asked.
"I… I can't." Ron insisted, silently cursing his own cowardice. "She'd never go for a dork like me, and it would totally ruin our friendship. I can't take that risk. If there's even a chance of salvaging what's left of our relationship, I can't risk losing that by telling her about my stupid feelings."
"Ron…" Didi paused as she prepared her words. "What if I told you that you were going to die tomorrow? What would you do then?"
"Yeah, right." Ron just chuckled lightly at the cliché.
"Ron, look at me." Didi insisted, her voice taking on a disturbing tone. As Ron looked up into Didi's eyes, he saw no trace of humor within her, leaving him feeling incredibly awkward.
"You're serious?" He asked in a hushed whisper.
"Suppose I am." Didi maintained a narrow gaze directly at his eyes, her eyes never once breaking their lock. "What would you do? Would you tell her then?"
Ron took a deep gulp before pondering the question further. "I guess so."
"So what are you waiting for?"
"Are you ok?" Erik asked upon noting the flustered look on Kim's face.
"I'm fine." Kim averted her gaze to avoid meeting his eyes.
Oh, I can't believe this! You're on the perfect date with the perfect guy and you want to think about the time you kissed your best friend under the influence of some sicko emotional remote thingy?
Kim found herself longing for some open space, suddenly being aware of just how close together she was with all the other people in line, and cursing the uncomfortable intimacy of the situation. Still, the thought had crossed her, and she couldn't hide from it.
Fine, you want to think about it. Ok. So you had some psycho chip attached to you and it made you crush on your best friend. It's only because he was the first warm body you saw besides your brothers and your mother. Big deal.
Kim couldn't dismiss the truth of her subconscious, but neither could she dismiss the memory of how wonderful it had really felt at the time.
Of course there were fireworks; you were under the influence of a machine that flipped through your moods faster than the tweebs with the remote control for the cable!
Kim's mind moved past that experience to the memory of their kiss under the mistletoe in the North Pole. As light hearted and friendly as it had been meant to be, it was also… sweet.
Ok, so that was… nice.
"You see Ron, and this is something my brother could explain a lot better than me, but he gets out even less than I do, the universe is all about choices. Some people think it's just the choices that we have to live with that matter, but there's also the choices that you have to die with that matter, cause both of them stick with you. Suppose you waited till your death bed to tell Kim how you felt, and then she ended up feeling the same way. You'd hate yourself for not having told her earlier, and for having blown your only chance. Death is forever Ron Stoppable, but you only get one chance at life."
Ron's eyes narrowed intently at the young woman sitting on the grass before him. Her eyes were so sure, so confident. She spoke about the nature of the universe with utter assurance. There was experience in her tone. He finally had to know.
"Who are you? Really?"
Didi just smiled as she took one of Ron's spare hands, guiding it towards the ankh that dangled from her neck.
"I'm the reason life has meaning." And with that, she brought Ron's fingers to clench around the ankh, and he saw… everything.
Kim felt the wind rush out of her sails. Oh god, she felt like such an idiot. After so much time spent trying to determine whether or not she had found the perfect boyfriend, she failed to consider whether or not she had found the perfect boyfriend for her!
Kim kicked herself hard as she came to a series of uncomfortable conclusions about herself, the most obvious being that she wasn't as smart as she had once thought herself.
Another was that she owed Erik an explanation which she didn't really have. Still, he deserved to hear it, and it was something that couldn't wait.
"Erik, we need to talk."
"Wow." Ron finally spoke at last. In just an instant, he had seen so many things, been to so many places. It wasn't knowledge; it was a kind of comprehension, a level of almost instinctual understanding that came over him. "So you're… you're really…"
"Yeah. I am." She answered softly. "You're not weirded out, are you?"
"This… is…so… badical!" Ron announced enthusiastically. "I can't believe that I was going to spend today in bed!"
She just laughed at his declaration, smiling widely at him the entire time.
"Wait, what you said earlier…" The color nearly faded from Ron's face all at once. "Am I really…?"
"Nah." She answered simply.
"Oh, good." Ron took in another breath, before fidgeting again as he looked at her uneasily. "So, do you know when…?"
"Don't ask me that." Her response was not cruel, or angry, yet it was strict and unapologetic.
"Why not?" Ron asked, thoroughly confused.
"Ron, if I told you that you had exactly fifty seven years, three months, two days, seven hours and five minutes to live, you'd waste every second of that time counting down how many seconds you had left instead of enjoying the time that you've got. Believe me, I've seen it before and you're better off just letting it happen whenever it's going to happen. Don't get so distracted by death that you forget about life."
Ron paused for a moment to reflect on her words, before his mind naturally returned to the one subject that had been on his mind the whole day.
"So, do you really think I should talk to KP?"
"Ron, I've had to separate a lot of couples who couldn't see that they were right for each other until it was too late. And let me assure you, if I'm separating you two, then it's too late. I can't tell you for sure what will happen if you tell her, it might be that you're right and it will come between you. The only person who could know for sure is my brother, and I can already promise you he won't talk. But I do know that if she does feel the same way, and you don't tell her how you feel until it's too late, you'll spend the rest of eternity punishing yourself. Life is short Ron, relatively speaking, so make the most of it."
Ron stopped again to think on her words. As he did, he noticed her as she stood up.
"Where are you going?"
"Well, you've got a lot of thinking to do, and this is still my day off. I'm going to take in some more of the sights while I've got the time."
"Ok, well enjoy the rest of your day. And listen… thanks. For everything." Ron smiled appreciatively at her as she walked off.
"Forget it." She smiled. And with that, she was gone.
"I'm sorry." Kim repeated as she looked into Erik's eyes.
"It's ok." He admitted somewhat half truthfully as he rubbed the back of his head. "I kinda figured I'd failed to live up to expectations after last night."
"Was it that obvious?" Kim asked, her cheeks burning red with embarrassment and guilt.
"Yeah. It was pretty much my main reason for asking you out here today. I was hoping that maybe I could do some damage control." He explained.
"Erik, you're the perfect guy." Kim explained frankly. "Really. Someday, I know you're going to make some lucky girl really happy."
"I was kinda hoping that girl would be you." Erik replied honestly.
Oh great! He just had to say that. Are we sure about this again? Should we, maybe, sleep on this?
Kim needed only to look inside herself for a second before assuring herself. Yes, she was sure. This was the way it had to be. All the pretty words Erik might spin wouldn't change the fact that he just wasn't what she wanted. Whatever she was looking for, she was sure that she still had some looking to do.
Kim leaned forward, wrapping her arms around Erik. To her surprise, it wasn't as uncomfortable this time.
And with that, she was gone.
Ron paced back in forth in his room restlessly. Rufus looked on worriedly at his human as he continued his tireless march around his own room.
"'Kim, I'… no." Ron paused, before reconsidering his delivery. "'KP, I know we've been buddies for a long time but…' no, too corny. 'KP, I know that we've been friends forever, but now I think I'm feeling something totally new.' No, that's way too corny!"
This was going to be harder than he thought it was going to be. Ron plopped himself down against his bed to re-plan his method of attack.
He could always go for the dramatic, drawn out method. A romantic dinner at some expensive restaurant, a late night movie, and then a walk through the park, all climaxing with him admitting his feelings.
Then he reconsidered.
With his luck, they'd get a table next to some screaming kids, he'd spill food all over Kim, the bill would be too much for him to pay, the movie would be sold out and it would rain on them through their walk.
Ron was on the verge of another idea when his thought process was interrupted by the sound of his phone. Without another thought, he picked up the receiver, the voice on the other side of the line stopping him in his tracks.
"It's me." Kim announced. "We need to talk."
Ron paced anxiously within his tree house. He couldn't remember if he had been this jittery back in his room. He knew that the floor boards of the tree house weren't meant to withstand such intensive pacing, so he tried to force himself to sit down on the couch inside.
It was only a matter of seconds before his anxious feet returned him to his pacing.
The sound of the wooden stairs leading up to the tree house's entrance creaking under the strain of weight caused Ron to jump slightly. He suddenly found himself trembling where he stood, and decided he needed to sit down again.
He just plopped himself onto the old cushion as a mane of bright red hair appeared, a friendly voice accompanying it.
The two tried so hard to act casually as they smiled at each other. In truth, the tension between them should have been enough to cause the tree house to burst wide open.
"We need to talk." Their twin announcements erupting at the same time took them both by surprise.
"Me first." Kim insisted. Ron wanted to argue, but the truth was, he was desperate for every second he could get to collect himself.
"Ron, I… I want to apologize for this past week. I… realize I've been leaving you behind, and that's not right."
"KP…" Ron extended his arms to take her in his embrace, but she backed away.
"Please, Ron. Just let me finish." Kim felt her cheek burn wet. It had taken her what felt like hours to prepare this, and she had to do it right. She wanted so badly to break down in his arms, but she knew if she did, she'd never be able to get another word out for the rest of the evening. The setting sun in the distance served to remind her off just how much time she had wasted working up the courage to speak to him again, she couldn't allow herself to waste another moment.
"I, I've been distracted. I let myself get caught up in someone I thought was the perfect boyfriend, and I let it distract me from my best friend in the whole world."
Kim felt herself try to catch her stuttering breathing and desperately tried to hurry this along.
"Ron… I need you. And I'm so sorry because I know I've kept you at arms length up until now for this past week and its so selfish of me to run to you like this the first minute that I have problem, but I need you, and I will do anything to make things right between us."
"Kim…" Ron extended his arms, and this time, Kim just let herself fall right into them. Sure enough, a torrent of tears poured down the side of her face as she felt herself fall in his comforting embrace. "You don't need to make things right between us. You know I'm always here for you."
"But I'm not always there for you!" Kim spit out over the bile building up in her mouth.
"Sure you are." He assured softly. "You believed me about the Diablos when nobody else would have. And god knows you've stuck by me even after all the times that I've been a royal embarrassment for you."
Kim felt she had to risk pulling away from his arms, to step down from heaven for just a moment, as she brought herself up to his eyes. "Ron, you never embarrassed me."
"Yes I did, KP." Ron answered simply. "But you always forgave me for it." Ron continued as he drew her back in close. "The least I can do is forgive you for getting a little carried away with your new BF."
"Heh. Actually, that was one of the things I wanted to talk to you about." Kim could feel the great weight being lifted off her heart as she spoke. "We broke up."
"Really?" Ron would have expected himself to leap up right off the couch with joy, startling the living daylights out of Kim in the process. Instead, he found himself overtaken by surprise. "What happened?"
"I don't know!" Kim admitted, clinging to Ron all the more tightly. "I honestly don't know! I mean, he was perfect. He was charming, he was handsome, he was a snappy dresser!"
"Sounds like a pretty picture." Ron observed, hoping to lighten the mood.
"All I could think about the whole time I was with him was how perfect he was. How much I could make Bonnie choke on her words about that stupid food chain of hers and I then Erik and I kissed and there weren't any fireworks, and this whole day just really didn't turn out to be nearly as exciting as I was hoping for, and… and I am going to die alone and miserable I just know it." Kim let out a gasp as she felt her heart seem to lighten. She had wanted, so badly, to get this all off her chest, and now that she had, she felt indescribably better, except for the thought about being alone and miserable. That thought brought her back down.
For a minute, Ron didn't say anything. He knew better than that. He just continued to hold her, trying so desperately not to have her catch him as he took in the intoxicating scent of her hair.
"KP, just because Erik didn't work out, doesn't mean you're going to die alone. Trust me; you don't want to get so distracted by death that you forget about life. There are still plenty of fish in the sea."
"You really think there is a guy out there for me?" Kim asked, hopefully.
"Out there… in here."
There was silence. Absolute silence. Even the insects outside seemed to have stopped their noises. Ron held his breath, hoping to dear god that he had not just said what he said out loud.
Kim lifted her head up, bringing her face directly to his. Her eyes dug in deep and he felt himself held prisoner by them. For a minute, he thought he would freeze, but then he reminded himself who he was.
She was Kim Possible, and she could do anything. He may have only been Ron Stoppable, but if he could stare Death directly in the face and make her laugh, then he could certainly tell the love of his life how he felt.
Only he couldn't. Not at first. Not aloud at any rate.
Ron's face edged forward, his lips moving to meet hers. To her surprise, Kim didn't react out of fear; she didn't back away or jump back. Yet she didn't meet his either. Instead, she simply remained perfectly still, her eyes closing along with his, accepting his kiss readily.
The soft feel of her lips was everything that Ron had always imagined it to be. The kiss was short, yet it lingered on Ron's lips as he drew back.
"Ron… why… why did you do that?" Kim's face was trembling, her eyes looking at him, piercing directly into his soul, her voice a faint whisper.
"Because… because I love you." Ron returned with the same whisper. "You are smart, gorgeous, and funny; you're the most amazing person I've ever met, and I love you KP. I always have, and I know this is not really the best time for this, and I know it's selfish of me to do this to you now after what you've just been through, but I couldn't wait another second to tell you. I love you. I love you."
Kim's expression was blank and completely unreadable. It tore Ron apart as he carefully analyzed every aspect of her face for some sign of a reaction from her.
"Oh." She finally replied quietly. "Ok."
Kim practically leapt across the couch, tackling Ron down as her lips returned to his with a fierce hunger. And it happened again.
Fireworks went off. Blood rushed to Kim's face, her knees felt weak, even if she wasn't using them, as she readily took Ron, kissing him as if there were no tomorrow. Her hands bushed passionately through his blonde hair even as his hands moved directly to her exposed midriff. For reasons that she couldn't explain nor cared to, just the feel of his warm hands on her skin sent waves of pleasure reverberating across her skin, intensifying the moment all the more.
Finally, in desperate need of air, the two pulled back, their faces never separating by more than a centimeter.
"KP…" Ron gasped for breath. "What… was… that… for?"
"That was for your wonderful words." She smiled warmly as she ran her fingers through his hair.
"Oh." Ron replied between gasps. "Ok."
"And this…" Kim paused for effect as her lips moved back towards his. "This is because I love you, even if it took me longer to realize than I will ever admit."