The Return of Zorpox
Aftermath - Always There
Illustrated version hosted at author's homepage (click author profile)
Kim Possible copyrighted by Disney
Later at her house, Kim had bidden farewell to the Yamanouchi School. Sensei had taken the Lotus Blade back with him. A black helicopter was waiting in the back yard, it's blades rotating and making the grass wave beneath its breeze while Yori stood talking with Kim.
'All is now as it was.' said Yori. 'We have much to thank you for. Is your family now well?'
Kim glanced over her shoulder through the sliding glass door. Her parents and brothers stood there, smiling faintly. They had been profoundly embarrassed when the Transducer was destroyed to find they had been building a doomsday device in the living room. They had dismantled it over the past few hours; despite Jim and Tim's initial protests. Bonnie had been found in the kitchen, tied to a chair. Bonnie was not so much angry that she had been tied up, but over the fact that the ropes had chafed her smooth skin.
'They're back to their awesome selves.' she said. She felt a sudden appreciation for them all. Despite all the perceived hassles they brought to her life, she would not trade them for anything. And having to deal with them trying to take over the world made her appreciate their normal selves all the more. 'I guess in some weird way, Grimm made me see how great my life is.' She said, waving to her family from the yard.
'I am glad, Possible-chan.' said Yori, bowing slightly. 'But if I may draw on your kindness still more - there is something I would ask of you.'
'Name it.' said Kim, smiling.
'It is Stoppable-san.' she said, and Kim could not help noting how Yori was no longer looking her in the eye. 'I do not know what it is - but something is still wrong. His heart is not yet right. Please - if you can find a way to heal him - do so.'
Kim nodded. After the police had arrived to start cleaning up at the warehouse, Ron had gone straight home without a word. Kim had thought that he simply didn't want to explain to the cops that he had made the mess in the first place, but at Yori's words, she felt concerned.
It was Saturday, and there was no school. Kim had gone to Ron's house, but he was not there. She checked the treehouse, and a few more of Ron's normal haunts before she finally found him at Bueno Nacho. He was sitting alone in a booth, staring at his meal, prodding his Naco with a plastic fork, but not eating anything. Rufus was sitting on the table, looking up at him, his pink hairless face looking sad and helpless.
'Hey there, Ronster!' said Kim, trying to sound cheerful. Ron glanced up at her.
'Hey, Kim.' he said, and glanced back down.
Kim sat down across from him. He kept staring down at his plate. A few silent seconds passed before Kim spoke again. 'Well, the cops aren't pressing charges. I think we have Sensei to thank for that. I guess it pays to have ninja in high places.'
Ron nodded, but said nothing.
'There's no sign of Grimm or Rhonda anywhere.' she went on. 'But I guess they think they got even with me - if that's all they wanted. I doubt they'll be coming back.'
Ron still remained silent, not looking up at her. She couldn't tell if he was upset or ashamed. Finally he said, 'And the Attitudinator?'
'Metal shredder.' said Kim, frowning. If she never saw one of them again, it would be too soon for her. She was going to have to have Wade do some serious hacking to see if he could get it discontinued by HenchCo.
The silence resumed. Kim could tell that Ron's food was stone cold, so he had to have been here for some time already. But he just sat there, saying nothing, not even looking at her. Finally, she couldn't stand it anymore and dropped all pretense. 'Ron, what's the sitch?' she said helplessly. 'Look at me - talk to me. Yori said that something was wrong. Let me help you - please.'
Ron finally raised his head and looked into her eyes. She saw a look of deep hurt in them. 'Do you remember when I took the battle suit?' he said. 'I felt so low because of what I did, I wanted to crawl into a corner and disappear. And when you forgave me I felt even worse because I didn't think I deserved it.' He sighed and shook his head, staring back down at the table. 'But I guess it's always been like that, hasn't it?' he said, with an unmistakable edge of bitterness. 'Ron the screw-up. Ron the liar. Ron the 'bad boy'. The no-good louse who's always doing something wrong - always ruining everything. And always left wondering what I ever did to deserve a friend as amazing as you.'
Kim took his hand. 'Why are you talking like that?' she said, shaking her head. 'You're not a louse. And you didn't screw up on this one. Everything that happened, what you did, that's all on Grimm, not you. No one blames you for what happened. If that's all that's bothering you...'
'It's not that, Kim.' he said, his voice low and doleful.
'Then what?' she said. When he had been missing, she would have given the world just to see him again. But seeing him so depressed and not knowing why was tearing at her almost as badly as the desperation she had felt when searching for him.
'I'm not down because I want you to forgive me.' he said, now sounding hesitant and uncomfortable. 'I'm down because... now I have to forgive you.'
'What are you talking about?'
Ron looked piercingly at Kim as he pushed something across the table with his finger. Kim saw a small microchip, about half the size of a postage stamp.
'Grimm told me everything.' he said, his voice flat, but sounding miserable all the same. 'He told me you and Wade put this in me. That you've been using it to spy on me for years. That you did it... because you don't believe in me. Because you don't trust me.'
Kim suddenly felt cold and dead inside. The chip, as small as it was, filled all her vision, but didn't block out Ron's next words.
'Tell me the truth, Kim. Tell me Grimm made it up and that you and Wade didn't do this to me. If you can tell me it's just another one of his head games, I'll forget all about it - but look me in the eyes when you say it.'
Kim kept staring at the chip. She and Wade had discussed it many times - it had always seemed harmless, even funny. But as she looked up into Ron's eyes and saw his expression of sadness and betrayal, suddenly it didn't seem funny at all. She opened her mouth, but couldn't speak. She looked down, unable to face him.
'It... it isn't what you think...' she said.
'So you're not a cheat and a liar?' Ron cut in.
Kim flinched. Word for word, it was almost the same exchange they'd had during the fight about the battle suit, only this time their positions were reversed. She remembered how Ron had frankly confessed when confronted over it. She felt a sudden sympathy with him. If how she was feeling now was anything like how Ron had felt, it truly did tank.
'OK.' she said, softly. 'It is what you think.'
Ron's voice was heavy as he spoke again. 'Why didn't you tell me? I'd have probably laughed it off if I had only heard it from you.' He said. 'But Grimm had to be the one to clue me in! Do you know it feels like to learn that someone who's a total jerk has been more honest with you than your best friend?' he said, lowering his head. 'I felt like dirt after I took the battle suit, and when you said how you didn't care about anything else - as long as I was honest? Was that a lie too?'
Kim didn't know what to say. 'It... it wasn't like that, Ron.' she said desperately. 'Wade and I have been discussing it for a long time...'
'And afterwards?' he said sadly. 'All the times you could have told me, but didn't? I know I get captured a lot, and sometimes you need a way to find me. But this? I would have understood, Kim. All you had to do was ask.'
All the talks about ethics she'd had with Wade flashed through her mind. 'Ron, its saved you - its saved us... so many times. We'd never have made it through some of our missions without it. I left it in to protect...' She stopped. Grimm's words, not understood when he spoke them, suddenly ripped through her mind like a thunderbolt.
'She'll say she did it to protect you - she's lying.'
She sat gripping the edge of the table, burning with shame. Once again, she had played straight into Grimm's hands. Even after everything that had happened, she was still allowing him to use her own actions as weapons against her. She sighed, bracing herself. It was time to stop playing his game.
'No.' she said. 'I won't make excuses.' She looked tearfully into Ron's eyes. 'You're right, Ron. I should have told you. I'm sorry.'
Several minutes passed in silence. 'I'll do whatever it takes to make it right.' she said at last, her voice breaking slightly. 'Please... don't hate me.'
Ron still looked miserable, but surprise flickered into his eyes. 'Kim, I could never hate you.' he said, laying a hand on hers. 'I love you. And as many times as you've forgiven me when I screwed up... I really would be a louse if I didn't forgive you.' He looked down at the chip and let out a sigh of resignation. 'And if you want me to put this chip back... I won't say no.'
Kim stared at the chip. At that precise moment in time, she hated it. A tiny square of silicon and plastic that had suddenly driven a wedge between her and the person she cared about more than anyone in the world. 'Get rid of it.' she said at last. 'We don't need it anymore.' She looked into his eyes and a love, deep and pure, filled all her heart. 'I trust you, Ron.' she said. 'I believe in you.' she took his hand and held it tightly.
And at last, Ron smiled.
The bell rang through Middleton High on the following Monday. The marquee outside read, "Middleton High: Now (Nearly) 100 Evil Free!"
'Sorry about not helping you out, Kim.' said Wade, staring out from the screen inside her open locker. 'I was... kinda off that day!'
'We all were.' said Kim. 'No big! So, did you manage to take over Everlot?'
Wade laughed shortly. 'Not really. Everyone else in Everlot had the same idea. Do you know how hard it is to take over a world when everyone else is trying to do it at the same time?'
'I've got some idea.' Kim said. 'There wasn't as much damage as there might have been. With everyone in the world trying to take over, they mostly wound up just countering each other's plots. Did you clear Jade out of your systems?'
Wade scratched his head. 'Thing is, she cleared herself out while she was good. She even left an e-mail apologizing for all the trouble. She was actually really nice about the whole thing.'
'Wade...' she said smiling. 'Are you crushing on Jade?'
Wade flushed. 'No!' he said. 'Once the Transducer went up, she sent another email saying she was going to hack me to the stone age.'
'How about HenchCo?' she said.
Wade grinned broadly. 'I got into their systems and made some... alterations to their factory specs. If they try selling any more Attitudinators, they'll wind up with some very dissatisfied customers.'
'Do I want to know what they do now?' said Kim, smiling wryly.
'Let's just say anybody using one will develop a sudden fondness for doing the Hokey-Pokey.' he answered.
'Wade, you always have and always will rock!' she grinned.
'Yo, KP!' Ron's voice came from down the hall. She saw him strolling towards her, looking quite his old self. She also saw everyone else in the hallway giving him a wide berth, stepping out of his way and flattening themselves against the walls as he walked past. A Freshman who came around the corner and nearly bumped into him actually screamed and ran the other way.
Kim raised an eyebrow as he stopped at her locker. 'So...' she said. 'You enjoying the bad boy reputation?'
Ron shrugged. 'It was kinda weird at first, but then I figured hey, run with it! You know you can't buy this kind of street cred!'
Kim glanced over his shoulder at the crowds who were looking at him with wide eyes and pale faces. 'I guess putting your face on TV, threatening to take over the world and throwing everything into chaos is one way to cred yourself up.' she said.
Ron leaned against the wall. 'You know you've got cred too, right?'
'I do?' she said, confused.
Ron nodded. 'Just by me standing here.' he said. 'You're the bad boy's girlfriend!'
Kim smiled faintly. 'You know it won't last, right?' she said. 'You're just too good to be bad.'
He smiled back. 'I know, KP. But it'll be... kinda fun while it lasts.'
Kim smiled and took his hand. 'I love you... bad boy.' she said quietly. She was about to lean in and kiss him, when she noticed something on his wrist.
Ron was wearing a bracelet - a thin white band just like the one that had protected her from the effects of the Mega Synaptic Transducer. Only instead of the strange circuits she had seen in her bracelet, she saw a plastic square containing a microchip - about half the size of a postage stamp.
'Nice bracelet.' she said. 'Is that...'
'Yep.' said Ron, nonchalantly holding up his forearm. 'Now you can keep tabs on your bad boy 24/7.'
Kim shook her head. 'Ron, you don't have to...'
'I know.' he said, waving his hand softly. 'But I want to. You said you believe in me. That was all I needed, Kim. I'm keeping this now because I believe in you. I've always been there for you. And this is just my way of saying - I know you'll always be there for me.'
Kim couldn't stop a thick tear from beading in her eye. But she was spared the trouble of having to wipe it away as they found themselves in each other's arms, their lips meeting in a tender kiss.
Liars and Fighters and Bears, oh my!
Author's notes: In "All Things Probable", the theme of the story was Janus, the two-headed Roman god. In this one, it was the Yin-Yang. Team Probable was made with 'opposites' in mind, and the theme of duality and opposition was continued in "The Return of Zorpox", hopefully on an even more profound and deep psychological level.
One of the constants in the Kim Possible universe has been this - Ron screwing up, Ron doing something wrong, Ron behaving badly, and having to depend on Kim's good heart for redemption and forgiveness. Which led me to wonder. Has Kim ever done anything to Ron that might be considered underhanded and cruel? Besides lying to him in the Halloween episode, the clear answer was yes. What kind of person would plant tracking devices on their best friend without telling them?
So Kim finds herself in the position that Ron has been in so many times before - having her deceit and her manipulative nature exposed, and having to confront the consequences head on. She also finds herself having to depend on Ron's good heart for forgiveness, and being forced to feel what it's like to have your evil side dragged out into the light. And to have it done by Team Probable, no less - a group of villains placing themselves on the moral high ground above the hero.
Of course in season4, Ron may find out about the chip in some other way and as said at the end of this story, may simply 'laugh it off'. But this tale hopefully will still stand as a great 'what if', with Ron finding out in the worst possible way. The other aspects of the tale, Zorpox' return, the Mega Synaptic Transducer, the confrontation over Ron's good side, Kim's slight fall from goodness as a result of Grimm's game, were all simply icing on a very robust cake. It all seemed to come together well, allowing each character to explore their dual natures.
Hopefully, the story was enjoyed by all - those who wanted Zorpox to return as well as the K/R shipper crowd. The reviews so far have been mostly positive - so look for Team Probable to come back for yet another Kim Possible fanfiction. The question has been asked several times now - what 'power' does Rhonda have to match Ron's Mystical Monkey Power? Hmmm...