Author's Note: When inspiration knocks, never refuse it.
Steve Barkin rubbed his temples wearily as he paced back and forth behind his desk. Opposite it, sitting anxiously before him, were the two culprits responsible for the latest outburst in the gymnasium. The ex-officer struggled for strength, desperate to gain composure to speak as he continued his tireless footing.
"Mr. Barkin…" One of them began.
"Quiet." The teacher's voice was strict, but didn't carry its usual tone. Instead of pure authority personified, there was a hint of fatigue and even possibly what one might qualify as desperation in it.
"Mr. Barkin, I know what you're thinking and let me assure you, this was all Kim's fault." The second began.
"It is not Bonnie!" The first bit back fiercely. "You started this. If you had just done your routines and let Ron do his…"
"Kim, just because you let your little pet actually dress up like a dog for the games doesn't mean that the rest of us think he's cute every time he foams at the mouth." Bonnie Rockwaller wasted no time in rehashing their original argument.
"Ron is my best friend and my boy friend and if you call him my pet one more time, I swear…" Kim Possible replied through gritted teeth as she clenched her fists again, fully ready to finish what she had started earlier.
"ENOUGH!" Barkin's voice thundered throughout the room, bringing the two fiery teens to calm, and even shaking a few books atop a shelf.
Barkin took a moment to re-gather him as he counted ten deep breaths.
"Ladies, what happened in the gymnasium was absolutely inexcusable and frankly, school policy insists that academic suspension is required under such circumstances. You leave me with little choice."
Both young women immediately jumped out of their seats in mutual horror. "Suspension!"
"Mr. Barkin," Kim began. "You can't. The Upperton Cheer scholarship is being awarded next month, and I'm first in line for it."
"Uh, check again Kim." Bonnie insisted. "Everyone knows that I'm the first on the judges list."
"You're both up for the scholarship." Barkin interrupted their feud before it could ignite itself again. "And frankly, an academic suspension a month before the scholarship is given out would look quiet unsightly in the judge's eyes for either of you, I imagine."
Barkin took a moment to recollect his breath, satisfied, as Kim and Bonnie both shrank uncomfortably back into their seats.
"Now that I have your attention." Barkin smiled as he began again. As he spoke, he moved out from behind his desk over to the door to his office, making sure that it was closed tightly. "As an administrator, I am bound to hand you both your suspensions and be done with it."
Kim and Bonnie were about to plead in desperation for mercy, before eventually turning to accuse one another all over again when Barkin spoke up once more.
"However, in lieu of ruining both of your, admittedly impressive academic careers, I have an alternative proposal to make, if the two of you are interested."
The pair's twin expressions of curiosity informed Barkin that it was safe to go on.
"What I am about to propose as an exercise is not recognized by this, or any other, state's board of education. It doesn't appear in any teacher's manual or training guide, and if either of you ever breath a word of it, I will simply dismiss it as the ramblings of two spoiled cheerleaders trying to escape their just punishments for fighting in school."
Both cheerleaders shifted uncomfortably in their seats even as Barkin returned to his own, sitting down and pausing a moment for effect before beginning again.
"I am calling a truce between you. Starting today, if you cannot say anything nice to one another, then you will refrain absolutely from speaking to each other at all."
"Mr. Barkin…" Kim prepared to plead for her innocence.
"This is so not…" Bonnie attempted to protest.
"AND… Barkin raised his voice, silencing them both. "In order to enforce this truce, you are each going to share with each other."
Kim and Bonnie share bewildered looks with one another before returning their gaze to the speaking instructor.
"You are going to share, with each other, your deepest, most personal secret."
The effect was immediate, and exactly was Barkin was hoping for.
"You…" Barkin silenced them once again, this time speaking in a much more low tone "are going to share one and only one, deep, intimate, personal secret with one another, and that will be your leverage over each other. I will not be privy to your disclosures, which means that if word of either of your secrets should reach the student body or anyone else's ears, only one possible suspect can be responsible, and the other will be able to share that person's secret in retaliation. I am giving you both the means to absolutely destroy one another. You can either do so, or, out of self preservation, learn to live together."
The two stared at their principle; their mouths dropped wide open in horror, their eyes wide with terror as they turned to look at each other.
"I'll take the suspension." Bonnie stated flatly, crossing her arms angrily as she pouted off to her side.
"Likewise." Kim concurred.
"Very well." Principle Barkin replied frankly as he moved over to his cabinet, opening a drawer in which there was an impressive array of binders, each one with a label bearing a student's name on them.
"Wait." The two shouted in unison.
Barkin's hand froze ominously over the collection of student records as he turned innocently to the two.
"One secret?" Kim asked uneasily.
"Just one." Barkin replied simply.
"And that's all we have to do?" Bonnie confirmed.
"That's it. I leave, you talk, and I never know what about. When you're done, you both go home and the two of you never cross each other the wrong way again." Barkin reiterated his terms.
"What if she lies?" Kim accused.
"Me? You're the goody two shoes princess around here. Like I trust you to admit to anything other than being absolutely perfect." Bonnie snapped back.
"If you don't trust that the other is telling the truth, then you both stay here until you are mutually satisfied. Otherwise, it is a suspension for both of you, and no scholarship." Barkin stated flatly.
The two paused to think for a moment, looking to their laps, sides and even feet before finally turning towards each other, rolling their eyes in frustration as they turned back to Barkin.
"Fine." They agreed bitterly.
Steve Barkin smiled proudly for a moment, before lifting himself up from his chair, moving towards the door to his office.
"I'll be outside when you're finished."
As the door closed behind them, the two rivals turned to look at one another. Their scowls never once faded as they stared each other down.
"Well go ahead." Bonnie began expectantly.
"I'm not going first." Kim insisted. "You go first."
"Please. As if I trust you." Bonnie accused.
"As if I trust you." Kim didn't miss a beat. "I guess we're both getting suspended."
"This is so like you Kim. Just because you've gone and ruined your life, doesn't mean you have to go and ruin mine too." Bonnie indicated to her self with her hand in full self righteousness.
"I haven't ruined anything Bonnie. This is all your fault. If you laid off of Ron…"
Their fighting had gone on for twenty minutes now. Barkin was doing his best not to eavesdrop, but as the shouting became louder and louder, he found the matter more and more out of his hands.
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea." He admitted to himself uneasily. God only knew what would happen if the school board ever got wind of him using such unorthodox methods. He'd be fired without question. Best way to send a message to others, by making an example.
Barkin knew that if what he was doing ever came to light, he'd be guilty before the opening arguments. His years of dedicated teaching would become meaningless before the disapproving, inflexible bureaucrats as they slammed their gavels down, handing judgment down on him.
He knew that his threat to the both of them had been nothing but a bluff. The two of them could never prove that Barkin had made that instruction, yet nor would they ever have to. All they had to do was say it, and that would be enough to invite a storm of concerned and outraged parents knocking on the right doors, making enough noise, and he'd be let go without a second's hesitation.
The ex-soldier could not remember ever being so nervous in his life.
The two sat fuming, silent. They have rearranged their chairs so that the two were facing completely opposite directions with their arms crossed.
Bonnie shuffled uncomfortably a second longer, cursing silently before the tension finally became more than she could tolerate.
"Are we going to sit like this all day? I have plans for tonight." Bonnie announced angrily.
"Well, it's not that I don't trust you…" Kim began "It's just that I absolutely don't trust you at all." Kim paused for a moment, rolling her eyes before finally bringing herself to ask out of sheer boredom "And what are you in such a hurry for anyway. Another date with Brick, or are the two of you still broke up?"
"For your information, Brick and I have been broken up for the last three months now." Bonnie informed angrily.
"Wow, that's a record for you two." Kim pretended to be impressed. "So who is it this time? Captain of the soccer team, swim team… which jock did you sink your claws into this time?"
Bonnie struggled for the answer, finally whispering a name. "Ned."
"What?" Kim asked.
"Ned! Ok, I said Ned." Bonnie shot back.
"Ned?" For a moment, Kim drew a confused expression as her mind tried to connect the name to a list of faces within her memory, finally settling upon one very unlikely conclusion. "You mean Bueno Nacho Ned? Ned-who-works-behind-the-counter Ned. That Ned?"
"His last name is Miller, Kim. And I would think you of all people wouldn't be judgmental of other people's BFs after how uptight you get whenever someone rags on Ron." Bonnie replied defensively, drawing a pang of guilt from Kim.
"Sorry." Kim replied honestly. "It's just… Ned doesn't really strike me as your type." Kim had to try and restrain herself at the honesty of that statement. Kim had always considered Ned to be the personification of the stereotypical geek; high pitched voice, glasses, frail unimpressive physique, working behind the counter of a fast food chain, and he even had a fairly serious acne problem, although lately Kim had to admit that seemed to be clearing. It wasn't that Kim wasn't fond of Ned. It was simply that she never imagined Bonnie Rockwaller, the picture of a teenage princess, reverent preacher and beneficiary of the high school 'food chain' to ever go for someone like him.
"Since when would you know what my 'type' is?" Bonnie asked, grateful that her back was still turned to her so that Kim couldn't see the fierce blush working its way across Bonnie's cheeks.
"Since the only people you've ever even bothered to let take you anywhere were the top athletes of our school." Kim replied honestly, though much less hostilely, her curiosity having overtaken her somewhat.
Bonnie paused for a moment, gathering her breath, before speaking again. "You remember our game up in Go City at the beginning of the year?" Bonnie asked rhetorically. "My mom had let me take her car home afterwards when the stupid thing broke down on me just as soon as I got back to the city. It seems my mother forget to change the oil like you're supposed every five and a half thousand miles." Bonnie's incredulousness at her mother's carelessness simply could not be contained.
"It was late and raining, and the battery in my cell phone was almost dead." Bonnie went on. "That late at night, the only door I could even think to knock on was Bueno Nacho. They were already closed for the night, but Ned was still inside doing his month's report or something like that."
Kim couldn't help but to turn her chair around as she listened with great interest to Bonnie's story.
"He actually unlocked the door and let me in to get out of the rain. Found out later that he really, really wasn't supposed to, but he let me in right away."
"Then what happened?"
Bonnie bit down her anger at having been interrupted as she went on.
"Well, I was cold and soaking wet, and the only other set of clothes that I had was my cheer uniform. It wouldn't keep me any warmer, but it at least kept me from catching cold. Ned showed me a room in the back where I could change."
Bonnie took a moment to recollect her breath. As she did, Kim could almost swear she saw something in her expression. It couldn't be… was that… guilt?
"The whole time I was changing, I was so certain that he would 'accidentally'" Bonnie exaggerated, using her fingers to imitate quotation marks in the air "walk in on me while I was still getting dressed. I kept listening for his foot steps outside the door, waiting for the door knob to turn and him to poke his little perverted head in on me. But he didn't. Not once."
Bonnie's voice became so soft, entrancing Kim as she went on.
"When I finally came out, he offered to make me some thing to eat. I told him I didn't have any money, but he didn't care. He'd already put all the fixings and food away for the night and cleaned up, but he still got it all out and started making me an order."
Kim had become absolutely hypnotized by the expression on Bonnie's face. This was the first time Kim could remember ever seeing it undecorated by some smug grin, or self satisfied expression, or some bitter snarl. Instead, the brunette cheerleader seemed so soft, so… vulnerable.
"He talked to me the whole time he was cooking. I kept thinking he was going to start hitting on me like some desperate creep, but he just kept cooking. I mean, he talked to me, but it wasn't awkward or anything like I'm used to. We just talked. A lot. I still don't know why, but it never occurred to me to even ask if he had a phone in his office that I could use while he was cooking."
Kim carefully analyzed Bonnie; voice tone, facial expressions, looking for some sign that Bonnie was just making all this up. Try as she might to catch some sign of it, the red head couldn't bring herself to believe that her arch nemesis was lying. It didn't seem her style to even pretend to admit to something like this. Bonnie had always been beyond even pretending to humble herself, especially like this.
"He was so sweet, and nice and funny, and I still can't remember any guy who ever treated me the way he did. Most guys I've dated usually say something stupid, and then look for some excuse to grope me. He just sat there like a gentleman while I ate, telling me some of his funniest stories from behind the counter."
"Don't tell me; most of them about Ron." Kim knew how her boyfriend could be when in the presence of his favorite fast food chain. The phrase "overly enthusiastic" was hardly appropriate.
"Not as many as you'd think." Bonnie replied plainly. "I mean yeah, Ron's their best customer and everything, but he usually causes a lot less trouble then you might expect."
Kim had to blink twice before trying to determine if she had heard correctly. Had Bonnie Rockwaller really just referred to Ron Stoppable in some fashion besides derogatory?
"I guess everything just sort of fell into place after that." Bonnie explained. "I mean, I would go back there a couple of times for food, and I'd pretend to be surprised to see him there, and then, he finally just asked me out." A dreamy expression crossed her features as Bonnie Rockwaller explained almost cryptically "He is such a good dancer."
Kim could not restrain her look of shock. As much as she was embarrassed by the obvious social faux paw, she simply couldn't help herself. This, however, was of little consolation to Bonnie as she noted the expression across Kim's face.
"What are you gawking at?" Bonnie asked as she tried to hide her face from Kim's by turning away back away from her.
"How is it that absolutely no one has heard about this?" Kim asked, her disbelief returning. "If he is so great, how come you haven't bragged to anyone about your new boyfriend?"
Bonnie whispered something that Kim couldn't quite make out. As Kim strained to hear, she thought she saw the beginnings of a tear forming in Bonnie's left eye.
"What did you say?" Kim asked.
"I said he won't let me!" Bonnie shouted angrily. "There, are you happy now? He won't let me! There, that's my big secret, satisfied?
"I don't understand."
Bonnie sniffled, wiping a tear from her across her cheek as spoke. "He won't let me. I wanted to take him with me to the Homecoming dance, but he wouldn't ask me. I finally asked him, but he wouldn't come." Bonnie stuttered in her breathing as her cheeks began to soak. "He said he didn't want to ruin my reputation by letting me show up with him. So that's my big secret; after all my years of talking myself up, the one guy who actually looks me in the face when I talk to him instead of checking out my butt or chest when he thinks I'm not looking is too ashamed to even be seen with me, and nothing I say seems to talk him out of it."
Kim couldn't believe the words coming out of Bonnie's mouth, even as she watched the brunette bury her face in her palms. Kim didn't know what to say, so she opted for the 'respectful silence' treatment as Bonnie fought against her pain to recompose herself.
"Bonnie… I'm so sorry." Kim finally offered.
"Yeah, yeah." Bonnie seemed dismissive of Kim's sympathy even as she renewed her struggle to clean her face.
As she did, Kim decided that fair was fair.
"I'd do anything for Ron."
"What?" Bonnie looked up, still flustered, still frustrated, as she eyed Kim squarely.
"My secret." Kim explained. "I'd do anything for Ron. He's my best friend and my boyfriend and I'd do anything for him."
Bonnie's anger seemed to triple as Kim spoke. "That's it! I actually go along with this whole stupid exercise, and that's all you tell me, that you'd do anything for Ron? Well I got news for you, you stuck up, self righteous princess… your secret is out!"
In all their time as rivals, Kim had never heard Bonnie lash out at her with such conviction, such pure hate. It actually struck somewhere deep within Kim's innards, yet she held firm as she explained.
"No, that's not what I mean. I mean… I'd do anything for him." Kim explained.
She could tell that Bonnie was confused, so she went on.
"About a month ago, we had a fight. A bad one. The details really aren't important, but we both said some things. I was having a really bad day and was tired and I really got carried away with what I said."
This time, it was Bonnie's turn to try and restrain her surprise. She had always look on Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable as the picture perfect couple who did everything together, always holding hands, laughing, sharing picturesque kisses for all the world to see. The idea of the two of them ever actually fighting with one another was one that Bonnie simply couldn't wrap her mind around.
"Like I said, it was pretty bad. Bad enough, I eventually realized, that if one of us didn't pocket our pride and apologize, we might have actually broken up right then and there. I couldn't let that happen, so I tried to work out how I was going to apologize for what I'd said to him."
Kim tried to work out the proper way to explain what happened next, even as Bonnie listened with captured interest.
"Somewhere as I was working out my apology, I started thinking about, not just what I would say, but even what I would actually do to make things right between us. Somehow, I got sidetracked and started imagining different things Ron could make me do as part of my apology and if I would ever actually do them."
Bonnie's curiosity piqued. "What kind of things?"
"Oh, really stupid, immature things at first. Dumb things like make me wear a shirt saying 'I'm Stupid' to school, or eating something disgusting. The kind of things you'd expect from some obnoxious elementary school kid as part of a dare. But then, my imagination kind kept going and I started getting… creative."
Bonnie felt herself moving to the edge of her seat, as if she were being pulled further and further over the edge by every one of Kim's words.
"I started thinking about how I'd react if Ron really had it in him to punish me for some of the horrible things I'd said to him. About just how far I'd go to fix things between us. I kept coming up with more and more… inventive ways of making me earn his forgiveness and if I'd actually go through with them if Ron ever asked me to. Eventually… I just couldn't think of anything that I wouldn't do."
Bonnie found herself almost too anxious to, but she had to ask. "So, what happened?"
"I tried to apologize, but he cut me off before I could get in one word. He practically broke down in my arms, begging to make things right with me. I had this long winded apology all prepared and rehearsed, and I never even got a word of it in. I just broke down right back with him." Kim moved to rub the salty smear out of her eye.
It took Kim another few seconds of controlled breathing before she spoke again.
"He makes me so angry sometimes and I can't even count all the times that he's embarrassed me by doing something stupid, but I love him Bonnie. He's been my best friend since before kindergarten and I love him more than anything, and I will do anything… anything, for him. I'd never tell him this, or really anyone for that matter, but if the alternative was never getting to see his smile again, never being held in his arms, never getting to listen to his obnoxious humor, then I don't care how personally degrading or humiliating it would be, I'd do it."
Kim's eyes informed Bonnie, in no uncertain terms, of the seriousness, of the unchallengeable resolve, of her words. The implications of this declaration suddenly struck home as Bonnie found her own imagination creating such scenarios. The idea of Ron ever asking Kim to perform any such actions seemed completely inconceivable, which, as Bonnie realized, was probably what helped fuel Kim's resolve.
It had been quiet for some time now. A good sign, or at least so Steve Barkin hoped. Not having any experience with this before, he honestly had no clue. Anxiously, he looked at his watch, trying to determine how much later he could actually keep them. It wasn't that he had anything better to do, but the last thing he needed was parents calling, asking for the exact reason why their daughters were being kept so much later after school.
The sound of the office door brought Mr. Barkin anxiously about, just in time to face the two young ladies as they came out, their expressions calm. Not angry, not depressed or even resentful just… calm. That seemed the best way of describing them.
"Ok." Kim announced, as if that were the exact answer that Barkin wanted to hear.
"I take it a truce has been reached." Barkin tried to hide his surprise behind his usual exterior of stern discipline.
"Yes." Bonnie informed simply.
"And I assume that I have your assurances that there won't be any further outbursts between the two of you?" Barkin raised his eyebrow in anticipation.
"Yes." Kim replied.
"Very well. Off you go then, some of us have lives." Barkin indicated to the doors leading outside, even as the pair casually walked side by side.
"FYI Possible, that scholarship is mine." Bonnie declared firmly.
"We'll see." Kim replied with a grin.