Special Yuletide thanks to campy for his beta and proofreading assistance.
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It you saw it on KP, it belongs to Disney.
The Middleton Mall was the last place Kim Possible wanted to be on Christmas Eve. However, since she needed another present for her father and her daughter Mim insisted on paying another visit to Santa, the one-time teen hero found herself hiking across the crowded parking lot of the Tri-City area's premier shopping destination. Her shoulders hunched over as she braced herself against the wind, she gripped her little girl's hand. As Kim and Mim made their way to the entrance, the little girl spotted a puddle and as those familiar with the ways of children would expect, she immediately jumped in, spraying slush in every direction.
"Mim!" Kim chided. "You know you shouldn't do that."
"Aww, Mommy, I was just havin' some fun," the four-and-a-half-year-old said.
"I know," Kim replied indulgently, knowing there had already been too much sadness in little Mim's life. "But you know Pandaroo doesn't like to get wet."
The little girl looked at the stuffed animal she was clutching in her other hand. "Sorry 'bout that, Pannaroo!" she said as she held the cuddle buddy close to her chest.
"Maybe Nana Ann will make us some cocoa to warm us up when we get home," Kim suggested.
"Yea! Cocoa!" Mim cheered.
Kim looked down at her daughter and smiled at the only good thing to come out of her disastrous marriage ...
"So you see, Shego, this will be my most brilliant plan ever!"
The beautiful henchwoman, filing her gloves, didn't even bother to look up at her employer when she replied to his claim. "Yeah, right, Doc. You want to tell me again how Operation There's No Way This Will Ever Work is going to go down?"
Drakken stared at Shego through narrowed eyes. "O ye of little faith," he grumbled.
"Hey, I've got lots of faith," she riposted. "Just not in you."
"Shego, your words hurt," Drakken said, genuinely hurt.
"Sorry, Doctor D, but face facts," she said, looking him in the eyes. "You've been at this for, what, ten years and even with Kim Possible out of the game you've had no luck. Zippo. Nada. None."
"Well, I almost succeeded in Dubuque …"
"Horse shoes and hand grenades, Doc. As hard as it is to believe, that lame-o Global Justice guy still got the win."
"Well, if it weren't for that stun-thingie watch Will Du has …"
"Yeah, right. Blame the watch," Shego muttered. "I should have gone to work for Professor Dementor. I don't know why I even bother with this anymore."
"Because we're family, Shego," Drakken answered. "An evil family."
"Doy! How could I forget," she said snidely. "You're the crazy uncle who lives in the attic, right?" Shego taunted; given the opportunity, she was congenitally incapable of not yanking her employer's chain.
"Well, now that you're done belittling me, which, I will note, Demens would never let you do, let's review the plan."
"First, I will use this super-powerful laser to cut a hole in the roof of the Middleton Mall …"
"Letting in a blast of arctic cold air that will freeze all the shoppers in place, allowing us to avoid long lines!" Shego interjected with mock enthusiasm.
"… You're enjoying yourself, aren't you?"
"Yeah, yeah I am," Shego conceded.
"Anyway, after we've made an opening in the roof, we will lower the hovercar into the Mall, disembark, and proceed to Stage Two."
"That's when you have your picture taken with Santa, right?" Shego inquired as she studied her emery board. "Oh, wait, they told you last year that you were too big for that."
Drakken ignored his lippy sidekick. "In Stage Two, we will use the Molecular Compactor Ray to miniaturize Santa's cyber-helpers, gather them up, and leave, allowing us to proceed to Stage Three."
"Why do you want a bunch of robot elves again?" she asked. Drakken's plans had become so convoluted in recent years that Shego, even with her superior IQ, was having trouble following them.
"Weren't you paying attention?" a distraught Drakken asked.
"The answer to that would be 'No'," Shego answered. "I'd already gotten my RDA of whack."
"Nnnnggggg," Drakken growled. "Shego, those elves are the most advanced animatronic devices on the planet. Once I've used the Universal Software Rewriter which I got from Hencho dot com to rewrite their command codes, I will have an undefeatable army of robots with which to take over the world!"
"Been there, done that," Shego said. "Why don't we save ourselves some time, chalk this one up under failed, and go back to the lair and catch the Evil Eye Guys Evil Christmas Reunion special?"
"Because, Shego, this year I will succeed," Drakken announced. "This year I will get what I have always wanted!"
"An edible fruitcake?"
"Yes!" Drakken declared. "No!" he said correcting himself once he realized what he'd said. "Well, yes," he conceded. "That would be tasty. But in addition to that fruitcake, I will have a Yuletide Army of Doom with which I will conquer the world! Muwahahahahahahahaha!"
"Look, Mommy! It's Santa!" Mim cried out with glee. With one hand she pointed at the familiar red-suited holiday icon who was holding court in his cheery little village and with the other she tugged at her mother's.
"Okay, honey, let's get in line," Kim said as she followed her daughter to the crowd of people waiting to see Saint Nick.
Kim couldn't help but allow herself a small, rueful grin. She remembered how more than a decade earlier, as a fifteen-year-old teenager, she'd seen parents with their children lined up for seasonal photos and fantasized about being Mrs. Josh Mankey and bringing their child to the mall for Christmas pictures. So much had happened since she'd had those daydreams.
Kim was now a twenty-six-year-old single mother, with a daughter to raise and little money, having not only paid for her ex-husband Richard's law school tuition, but the condo in which he was now living and the car he was now driving. Though he had cheated on her with one of his law firm colleagues, he was able to walk away with everything when he ruthlessly exploited Kim's one weakness: Mim. Richard coldly threatened to make an issue of Kim's past hero work and the potential danger Mim might be in from vengeance-seeking villains. Kim was appalled by her husband's willingness to use their daughter to hurt her, and, for the first time in her life, she was truly afraid: she couldn't bear the idea of losing her little girl.
She agreed to give Richard what he wanted on the condition that he grant her full custody of Mim. Free of any potential alimony claims, a new condo and their portfolio in hand, and having little interest in his daughter, Richard readily consented to the divorce. As soon as the proceedings were completed, Kim arranged for a transfer to Global Justice's Middleton headquarters and temporarily moved in with her parents, who were more than happy to open their home to their daughter and granddaughter during a time of transition.
To say life had not unfolded as Kim had expected would be such the understatement; she knew she'd made some ferociously bad decisions. However, Mim more than made up for all of that – the little girl was her pride and joy. As Kim looked at the little girl, she was reminded of Ron Stoppable, who had embodied what Nakasumi-san described as childlike wonder. Thinking of all the Christmases she and Ron had spent together, Kim found herself feeling his absence in a way she'd not felt in a very long time. She so wished he were still a part of her life.
"Why are you sad, Mommy?" Mim asked.
Kim, realizing she'd been caught out, put on a warm smile for her little girl. "It's no big, really. Just missing an old friend."
"Unca Ron?" she asked. Mim, the granddaughter of a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon, had always been a very perceptive child.
"Yes," Kim admitted. Mim had loved hearing stories about Kim's teen adventures from the moment she'd learned about them a few months earlier. Though the little girl had never actually met her mother's one-time sidekick and boyfriend, she had quickly taken to calling him Unca Ron.
Mim looked at Kim and said hopefully, "Maybe he'll come see us for Christmas!"
Kim smiled. "That would be spankin'," she said softly, not wanting to break the news to her young daughter that it was very unlikely she'd ever meet her 'unca.' It had been some years since Kim had last heard from Ron and while she hadn't been happy about his silence, she couldn't blame him for finally moving on with his life.
"I'm gonna tell Santa that's what we want for Christmas," Mim exclaimed before she began singing, "Unca Ron, Unca Ron …"
Ron Stoppable could not believe his bad luck.
The trans-Pacific flight from Japan seemed longer than he remembered. Of course, this time, he was flying coach, deprived of the in-air amenities to which he'd become accustomed in recent years. After he disembarked from the plane, he made his way to the baggage claim, only to discover that his luggage wasn't anywhere to be found.
He half-suspected Yori was behind his AWOL baggage. Ron still couldn't believe how vindictive she could be. It wasn't like he was the one who'd been cheating, after all. It vexed him so that she'd played him like a violin. Part of him said he was being paranoid, thinking even Yori couldn't be that spiteful, but another part of his mind remembered the long-ago cheer-off competition at Wannaweep. They'd said he was paranoid then, too, and look what happened: he'd been turned into a beaver during his no-holds-barred fight with Gill.
Luggage-less and annoyed, Ron left the terminal, picked up his rental car, and headed to Smarty Mart to buy some clothes. Unfortunately, more vexation lay in store for him. He arrived at his favorite store only to it wasn't open. Even the discount retailer that was never supposed to be closed, that had always been about low prices, 24/7, needed heat and light, and when the power grid on the edge of town failed, the preferred shopping venue of shoppers who shopped smart shut its doors.
Reluctantly, Ron made his way to the Middleton Mall, a place filled with overpriced clothes – and memories of Kim. He really wished he'd done things differently with her, stepped up his game back in high school; then maybe they would have remained a couple. Heck, if he hadn't listened to Yori, he and Kim might at least still be friends. Unfortunately, Ron's now-ex had convinced him that he had to leave Kim and his old life behind. Now, he would have liked nothing more than to get that life back.
It was a source of great comfort to Ron that he at least still had one part of that life: Rufus. As Ron entered the suburban shopping emporium, the naked mole rat poked his head out of his human's pocket and looked around. Ron peeked at his little friend, the one constant in a life that in recent years had taken some pretty strange turns. If somebody had told him ten years earlier that he would wind up being an unemployed ninja, he would have suggested someone stop sniffing glue.
"You hungry, Little Buddy?" Ron asked Rufus.
"Uh huh!" the mole rat replied.
"Well, let's see what kind of snackage they've got at the food court," the tow-headed young man suggested.
"Mmm. Snackage!" Rufus enthused.
Ron and Rufus had almost reached their destination when they heard the explosion.
Though it had been a long time since Kim had gone on an actual mission, having given up fieldwork when Mim was conceived, her instincts remained sharp thanks to years of experience and a still-rigorous training regimen. Without needing to think, she gathered up her daughter into her arms and, with the rest of the shoppers, began running. Her first priority was getting Mim to safety.
"Mommy!" Mim cried out and pointed skywards. "Look!"
Kim's eyes flew open as she saw the hovercar descend through the ragged hole in the roof. "Drakken," she hissed. Then she made a decision. "Mim, I need you to stay here," Kim said as she set her daughter down in a safe place behind a pillar.
"Are you going to save the world?" Mim asked, excitement in her voice.
Kim smiled and mussed her daughter's hair. "Yes, honey, I am."
"Can I help? I wanna be a hero like you."
"You can be a hero by watching Pandaroo," Kim said. Then, in a whisper she added, "He gets scared, you know."
"Okay," Mim said as she put on a resolute face and hugged the old cuddle buddy close to her.
Kim took a deep breath, removed her coat, and ran back towards Santa's Village.
"See, Shego," Drakken said as he piloted the hovercar through the aperture he'd just blasted through the roof of the mall, "All is going to plan. Activate the Molecular Compressor"
The glamorous henchwoman grinned as she watched shoppers scurry and scream. "Okay, Doc, I've got your shrink ray gizmo online," Shego said.
"Excellent, prepare to deploy—"
"Is Kim Possible part of your plan?"
"What are you talking about?" Drakken snapped.
"Princess. She's here. Look," Shego said, pointing at the retired teen hero who was running in their direction.
Drakken grinned. "Don't you agree that Kim Possible would make a most delightful stocking stuffer?"
"What? You're making even less sense than usual," Shego observed.
"Oh I think not, Shego," the blue-skinned scientist said in a sing-sung voice before adding, "Shrink her."
Shego, now understanding what Drakken had been suggesting, smiled. "Gladly," she said as she peered through the range finder.
Ron's first, indeed instinctive, reaction to explosions was still to run and hide. But years of being Kim's sidekick and then training at Yamanuchi, not to mention the not inconsiderable thrill he got out of being a hero, kicked in, sending him towards the mayhem.
He saw the hole in the roof and the hovercar. Then he noticed the ray gun and its glowing tip. He looked around to see where the weapon was aimed. That was when he saw Kim. Putting his head down, Ron charged through the crowd.
"Mommy!" Mim, gripped by fear, cried out as she saw the ray gun paint Kim with a targeting beam.
Kim had just seen the red acquisition beam reach out to her when she heard Mim and was momentarily distracted.
Drakken rubbed his hands in glee as his long-time nemesis appeared to be frozen in place. He was looking forward to dealing with a six-inch-tall Kim Possible.
Ron, despite running as fast he could, realized he wasn't going to make it to Kim in time yet knew he needed to do something. He quickly whipped off his belt, ignoring the fact that his pants would fall down around his ankles, and whirled the accessory over his head before flinging it towards the flying car. As the belt left his hand, the strap changed into its more natural form – a sword.
"Booyah!" Ron yelled as the Lotus Blade's hilt rammed into the cannon barrel, knocking the weapon off target.
Kim turned in shock to see a pantless Ron Stoppable pumping his fist. To say she was shocked to see him there would have been a ferocious understatement: it had been years since she'd last seen him. He looked so familiar, yet different, she thought. Kim, however, was shaken from her musings when she noticed Shego was now aiming the cannon at him. Losing no time, the former cheer squad captain vaulted forward, executing a flawless triple handspring, and landed in front of him. Then she grabbed his hand and pulled him out of danger.
"This isn't fair!" Drakken whined.
Shego shook her head as her boss groused over the all-too-familiar turn of events. She had to agree with him. But as annoyed as she was to see Team Possible back in action, she wasn't going to let her annoyance at the apparent reunion of Kim and Ron stop her from finally besting the cheerleader.
"Doc, focus," she snapped. "This ray gizmo of yours. Does it work in reverse?"
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"You said it shrinks things. If we put it in reverse, can we make things big?"
"Why would we want to do that, Shego? A normal-sized Kim Possible is enough trouble as it is."
"He's the only one who offers dental," Shego reminded herself as she slapped her head in frustration before she snapped, "I was thinking we'd zap some of your robo-elves so they could stomp on Kimmie!"
"A brilliant idea, Shego," the blue-skinned villain said as he began reprogramming the cannon. "And they always said I was the evil genius."
"Who's this 'they'?" Shego muttered under her breath.
Kim and Ron looked at one another, each surprised to see the other, neither sure what to say.
"Thanks for having my back," she finally said.
"Hey, it's what we sidekicks do," he offered with a goofy grin.
"And nobody does sidekicking better," she added with a warm smile as she rose to her feet and helped Ron to his.
"It's Unca Ron!" Mim said to Pandaroo. "Unca Ron came to save Mommy! Yea!" Caught up in the excitement of the moment, the little girl began running to her mother and her mother's one-time partner. "Mommy!" Mim called out in joy. "Unca Ron!"
"Prepare to be stomped on, Kim Possible!" Drakken cackled as he aimed the cannon at the animatronic elves.
The blood drained from Kim's cheeks as she saw Mim coming to her. "Mim! No!" Kim cried out. "Go back!"
"Mim?" Ron said aloud, before he saw the child rushing to Kim. He realized he was looking at his oldest friend's daughter.
As Drakken was about to fire on the first of the elves, Shego noticed the red-haired child running towards Kim.
"Her brat's here," she whispered. "Princess has her brat here."
Shego knew she'd hate herself for passing up this opportunity to crush Kim Possible. But even she wasn't this low.
"Doc, no," she said, resting her hand on his forearm.
"What?" he said incredulously.
"Doc, she's got the kid with her."
"You're not really gonna take out Kim Possible in front of her kid on Christmas Eve, are you?" Shego asked.
Kim scooped up Mim in one arm, took Ron's hand, and turned to run.
"Go," Ron said as he wrested free of Kim's grip.
"It's time to let the distraction do his work," he explained.
"Ron …" Kim began to protest.
"You've got a family to take care of, KP. I don't," he said. "Tell Dicky Boy he owes me big-time." Then Ron turned and looked up at Drakken. "Snowman Hank would not be down with this, Blue Boy!"
"Nnngggg! Now the buffoon has to bring Snowman Hank into it," Drakken complained, knowing that taking out one's arch-foe in front of her child on Christmas Eve was most definitely not one of the Six Tasks prescribed for the holiday. "Okay. Fine. Be that way," the villain snapped as he powered down his weapon. "Go ahead. Ruin my Christmas." Scowling, he leaned over the edge of his craft. "You think you're all that Kim Possible, but you're not. And neither are you … whatever your name is."
"Aww, c'mon, you know my name!" Ron whined.
"His name is Unca Ron … Blue Boy," Mim said with proud defiance.
Drakken's eyes shot open wide. "Not another generation of lippy Possibles!" he wailed before observing to his green-hued colleague, "You'd think a one-time teen hero would teach her child that words can hurt."
"Give it up, Doctor D," Shego said as she shook her head in frustration tinged with bemusement. The henchwoman then leaned over the rim of the hovercraft. "Merry Christmas, Soccer Mom," she called out as the flying car rose through the hole in the roof. "And don't forget to hit the after-holiday sales. I think it's time you bought the buffoon some suspenders!"
Kim, Ron, and Mim watched as Drakken and Shego departed.
"You know, it's awfully drafty in here," Ron said. "Somebody should turn up the heat."
Kim grinned fondly. "You know, Ron, it might help if you pulled up your pants."
"Oh, yeah," he said as he blushed. "My bad."
Kim and Mim exchanged a look and shared a giggle.
"Well, so much for my mystique," Ron said before he closed his eyes, extended his hand, and called for the Lotus Blade. "C'mere, Magic Sword."
Mim watched in awe as the weapon gently sailed into Ron's waiting grasp. Kim, truth be told, was pretty impressed, too. She knew of the Lotus Blade, but had never actually seen Ron use it. Both Possible women watched as the sword morphed into a belt, which Ron fed through the loops on his pants.
"What?" he said in response to the two sets of staring emerald green eyes.
"You use a magical, form-changing sword as your belt?" Kim asked.
"Hey, it's convenient and it's the easiest way to get it through airport security."
"Riiight," Kim said in a mildly disbelieving tone Ron found he'd missed.
Kim and Ron found themselves standing in awkward silence, neither sure of what to do next. That dilemma was resolved when Mim spoke up. "I'm hungry!" she declared.
"Well," Ron said rubbing the back of his neck, "Rufus and I were going to get some snackage in the food court before Drakken tried to steal Christmas. Wanna join us?"
"To be honest, Ron, I'm so done with the mall for today," Kim said. "How about Bueno Nacho?" she suggested.
"Badical," he said enthusiastically. "As long as they haven't started serving sushi Nacos."
Kim eyed him quizzically.
"KP, you do not want to know how much raw fish I've eaten the last few years. I hate the stuff," Ron declared. "Almost as much as I hate meatcakes."
Kim and Ron were seated in their old booth, eating their lunches, while Rufus entertained a giggling Mim. The little girl had been captivated by the naked mole rat the moment she met him, and, it was manifestly clear, the feeling was mutual. The two adults watched as the new friends cavorted in the middle of the all-but-empty Tex-Mex eatery.
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but Rufus is ferociously good with kids," Kim observed.
"Yeah, he is," Ron said as he watched his little friend entertain Mim. "She's a beauty, Kim. Just like her mom."
"Thanks," Kim said, blushing. "You've turned into a real ladies' man."
"'Turned into'?" Ron asked incredulously. "The Ronman's always had it goin' on with the ladies," he said as he slicked back his hair.
Kim smirked before she broke out into infectious laughter. Ron couldn't help but laugh with her.
"So, what's with 'Unca Ron'?" he asked before taking a bite of his Naco.
"A couple of months ago, after we moved back to Middleton, Mim found some pictures of you and me in our mission gear. She wanted to know why I was wearing what she called the 'naked tummy shirt' and who the nice man with the big ears was," Kim explained.
"So, you told her all about my bon-diggity save-the-world moves, earning the Rondo a new fan in the process!"
"Something like that," Kim said with a wry smile that soon faded. "She needed a man in her life, and you were there, even if you didn't know it …"
Ron sat quietly and listened. He still couldn't believe that Kim was divorced, that Kim's ex-husband had cheated on her and walked away from not only his wife but also from this wonderful little girl.
"… Richard turned out to be such the disaster. I still remember when you told me he was five hundred miles of bad road. I thought you were just jealing." Kim sighed. "I should have listened to you."
"I don't think so, KP," Ron said, surprising Kim. "If you did, there'd be no Mim!"
Kim smiled. "That's a ferociously good point."
Kim and Ron looked over at the little girl and watched her play.
"If it makes you feel any better," Ron offered, "I was jealing."
"Thanks," Kim said. "He was cheating on me, on us," she said as she continued to look at Mim, "with one of his co-workers," she said softly.
"Man, and people thought I was dumb," Ron commented.
Kim looked at him, curiosity evident on her face.
"KP, I will exercise my ex-BF privileges and tell you that you are still pretty and smart. Forget for a moment just how incredibly sick and wrong it is to cheat on someone," he said with asperity, making Kim wonder if personal experience informed Ron's words. "I just cannot believe that Dicky Boy could even think he'd find someone nearly as good as you. I mean, what was he thinking?"
"Apparently," Kim answered with a grin at Ron's use of his derogatory nickname for her ex, "'Dicky Boy' thought he'd be better off with someone different." Frowning, she asked, "Do you remember how I was after I met him?"
Ron's face darkened just a bit. "Yeah, I do. You were all gaga over him. It was like Josh Mankey and Synthodude all over again ..."
Kim shifted uncomfortably in her seat, recalling just how passive, how smitten, how un-Kimlike she'd been with Josh, Eric, and later Richard. The only relationship in which she'd been able to keep her wits about her was the one she had with Ron. "It took a while, a long, long while, but I finally stopped crushing like a sheep and started to be myself again."
"Let me guess," Ron said. "He had a little problem handling your natural Kimness."
"Understatement much?" she asked with a wry grin.
"Well, that settles it," Ron said authoritatively. "He's definitely a dope. Let's call WGU and tell them to take back his diplomas."
Kim laughed. "So, what's going on with you, Mr. Ladies' Man?"
"Nothing," Ron said.
"I, uh, remember that Yori like liked you …" Kim said hesitantly.
She was surprised when all of the emotion drained from Ron's face.
"You remember Hirotaka?" he asked flatly.
"Well, one of the things they teach you at Yamanuchi is that one of the ninja's skills is stealth. You know, move like a shadow in the dark and all that jazz. It's very useful for surprising or evading the bad guys. It's also really handy if you want to sneak around behind your boyfriend's back."
"Oh, Ron …" Kim said, empathizing with him.
"Yep, Yori decided that even though we were supposedly a couple – so what if we'd been dating for three and a half years? – it would be Hirotaka's honor to pick her cherry blossom."
Kim knew she shouldn't, but she couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm sorry," she said. "But nobody says things the way you do. I've so missed that."
Much to her relief, Ron smiled.
"S'kay," he said. "You know, I owe you an apology."
"For what?" Kim asked, genuinely surprised.
"Well, for not living up to my part of the best-friend bargain. We said we'd be best friends forever. I disappeared on you."
"Ron, I know seeing me with Richard hurt."
"Yeah, but that's not the point. I was still supposed to have your back. You told me what you needed in a BF and I was just too lazy to come through. Just because I blew my shot at romance with you didn't mean I shouldn't have been there for you as your bud."
"You were there today when we needed you," Kim said softly. They sat quietly for a moment before Kim asked, "So, why did you flake?"
"Yori convinced me that I needed to leave you and Middleton behind if I was ever going to be happy again. Things hadn't worked out with Tara and I was still pretty bummed after your wedding and I guess I was ready to buy what Yori was selling: Ron Stoppable, Warrior Hero, the Chosen One of Yamanuchi, blah blah blah blah blah."
"I'm sorry, too," Kim said.
"'Sha, don't be," Ron said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
"Mommy?" Mim asked, interrupting the conversation.
"Yes, honey?" Kim replied.
"Can Unca Ron and Unca Rufus come over for Christmas tonight? Please?" Mim topped off her request with a potent pint-sized version of the Puppy Dog Pout.
"Oh man, we are all doomed," Ron observed with mock horror.
Kim laughed. "So, how about it?" she asked. "I know the fam would love to see you. Besides," she added wistfully, "Christmas hasn't been the same without you."
"It hasn't been the same without you, either, KP," Ron answered. "Let me get some clothes and spend a little time with the 'rents and Hana first. If Rufus and I go now we should be over in time for the start of the Possible Family Christmaspalooza."
"That sounds spankin'," Kim said.
As Ron and Rufus got up to leave, Kim called after him.
He turned and looked at her expectantly. "Yeah, KP?"
"Don't forget to wear your sunglasses," she said with a grin. "I think Dad may be going a little overboard with the lights this year."
"How overboard?" Ron asked.
"Let's just say he mentioned something about the house being visible from low Earth orbit …"
"And you know what will make this Christmas even better, Mim?" Ron asked eagerly.
The little girl shook her head, not able to imagine that the holiday could get any better: after all, she'd seen her Mommy fight a real-live villain and, just as she had wished, her Unca Ron had come.
"This couch, that TV, and these Snowman Hank DVDs!" Ron enthused. "But we should ask your mommy first if it's okay for us to watch."
"Can we, Mommy?" Mim asked, her bottom lip beginning to quiver.
Kim chuckled. "You're right," she said to Ron as her daughter began to pout. "We are so doomed." Then, looking at her daughter, she said, "Okay, we can watch after dinner, but that's all the TV for tonight."
"Yea!" Mim cried with glee. "We're gonna see Snowman Hank!"
Ron smiled contentedly. "Another member of Snowman Hank Nation. I've done my job well."
"You are so weird," Kim commented.
"Hey, 'Never be normal' is still the Ron Stoppable motto," he said.
"So, Ronald," James Possible, who was seated at the head of the dining room table, asked as he took some turkey from the platter before him. "How long will you be in town?"
"That's a good question, Dr. P. I really don't know," Ron answered as he rubbed the back of his neck. "To be honest, I need to figure out what to do with myself. I'm know going to have to find a job but there probably isn't that much work around here for unemployed ninjas without a college diploma." Ron was regretting failing to get a degree even though he spent four years at Middleton Community College. And now, sitting next to Kim, the idea of going back to work at Smarty Mart just didn't have much appeal; he knew he could do better.
"Helloooo!" Kim said. "Global Justice Headquarters? I'd bet Doctor Director would love to hire you."
"You think?" Ron asked.
"I do," Kim said confidently. "She's always looking for good agents. With your ninja skills and the Lotus Blade she would so want to put you on the payroll, though you'd have to finish your degree first."
"Man, going back to school," Ron whined. "That'd be tough …"
Kim looked at Ron expectantly.
"… But, hey, I'm Potential Boy, so there's no reason I couldn't give it a try," he said with a cocky grin.
"That's all anyone can ask, Ron," she said, smiling, surprised at how happy his answer made her.
Ron and Kim stood by the door. He was wearing his coat and Rufus, who had consumed far too much eggnog, was asleep and snoring in his pocket. "Thanks for having me over, KP. This was badical."
"Thanks for coming," she said. "And thanks for the mall," she added as she embraced him.
"Hey, as my best friend likes to say, 'no big'," Ron replied as he returned the hug.
"So," she murmured, "I'm still your best friend?"
"Always have been, always will be," Ron said.
They stood in silence in the entry hall, holding one another. Finally, they broke the embrace.
"Well," he said. "I guess I should be going."
Ron turned to leave. As he opened the front door, Kim placed a hand on his shoulder. "Ron?"
Kim took a deep breath. "You know, there's something I'd like for Christmas that wasn't under the tree."
"Yeah, what's that?"
"A date with my ex-BF," she said softly as she stared directly into his eyes.
"A date?" he asked. "As in a date date?"
"Yes, a date date," Kim said, plunging ahead. "Ron, I made a ferociously big mistake before I went to college. You were a wonderful BFBF …"
"Really?" Ron asked.
"… Yes, really," Kim replied. "I so wish I'd been smart enough to see that." She paused, then looked Ron directly in the eye, and began speaking at a staccato pace. "To be honest, I know this may seem like it's coming out of nowhere and I know it's been a really long time but I've actually been thinking a lot about you lately and being with you today reminded me of just how right it feels to be together so, if you're interested although I could understand why you wouldn't be but I hope you are, I'd like to give us a try again."
A moment passed before Ron responded. "You sure about this, KP? Sure, I'm a bon-diggity kisser, but I'm still not WGU material," he said, instantly regretting his flippant comment and wanting to kick himself.
Kim winced, recalling events of long ago, and closed her eyes. Then she took Ron's hands in hers. "So doesn't matter," she said with familiar assurance.
"What does?" he asked.
She slipped her left hand from his right and rested her hand on his chest. "What's in here. I may have been an honor-roll student in high school, but I was so stupid when it came to what really counts. I could have had you and instead I wound up with Richard."
"Ah, but with Richard we got Mim," Ron said sagely and without irony.
"True," she said, pleased by Ron's use of 'we'.
"So, uh, getting back to the date thingy," Ron said, "what would you want to do?"
"I don't know," she said. "Go to Bueno Nacho and a movie, maybe?"
"With or without interruptions by villains?" he asked with a goofy smile.
"Most def without," Kim said, grinning. "Though I can think of worse things than fighting freaks with you by my side."
"Well, since it's Christmas, you should get what you want," Ron said. "A date it is. You want anything else before I go?"
Kim looked into Ron's eyes. Then she answered him. "Yes, actually, there is something else."
"Oh?" he asked.
"I'd also like some fireworks," Kim answered with a twinkle in her eye. Then, for the first time in many years, she brought her lips to Ron's, initiating a kiss that was brief and gentle but electric.
"Badical," Ron whispered when it was over.
"Yeah," Kim agreed. "Maybe we could try that a—"
She was cut off as Ron brought his lips back to hers. As he wrapped his arms around her slender waist, she brought her hands up to his neck and began running her fingers through his mop of straw-colored hair. She pulled him back into the foyer and he kicked the front door closed with his foot. Soon, he was planting small kisses along her jaw.
"This is where I say 'boo-yah', isn't it?" she asked breathily.
"Yeah," he said as he stroked her hair.
"Boo. Yah," she sighed, feeling contentment she'd not known in a very long time.
The hour was late and the one-time teen hero and her erstwhile goofy sidekick assumed they were alone, believing the rest of the household had retired for the night. However, one little Possible was not asleep in her bed as her Mommy believed her to be. Instead, she was on the landing at top of the stairs.
From her perch the red-headed, green-eyed little girl wearing Doctor Dentons, a worn cuddle buddy by her side, watched the two grown-ups embrace and kiss. Little Mim Possible didn't know what she'd find under the tree the next morning, and she no longer cared. For, seeing the happiness on her Mommy's face as she was held by Unca Ron, Mim knew she'd already received all she really wanted for Christmas.
Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year to all from Mr, Mrs and BabyDrP!