Author's Note: Takes place before So The Drama. As always, write a review, get a response. And enjoy.
Monique took several hesitant steps towards Ron's bed. The freckled blonde remained unmoving as she pulled out a chair, sitting down next to his side.
"Hey cutie." Monique forced a smile as she spoke nervously, unsure of what to say. The steady beeping of Ron's heart monitor was the only response Monique received. She knew full well it was all that she was going to get.
"The doctors tell me that you're hanging on pretty well after that blast." Monique tried to steady her voice. "They say that you might even come through this all well and clear if you just wake up soon."
Ron lay perfectly still, and unmoving. Monique did a double take, listening carefully to make sure she could hear the breaths escaping his lips. When she did, she went on.
"Ron, I don't know if you can actually hear me or not. Kim's mom said that sometimes people… like you… can hear when other people are talking to them, so I thought I'd just stop by and chat."
An uneasy laugh escaped Monique's lips as her hands tensed and flexed in her lap.
"Kim's really worried about you, you know. We all are. Even a lot of kids at school. Barkin got in a tirade about how just because a student's in the hospital, doesn't mean they get to miss homework. He then went in to some thirty minute long speech about how he did his taxes once while wounded in action. Put half the class to sleep."
Monique chuckled, hoping her story might elicit the same reaction in the slumbering blonde before her. It did not.
"You've got some of the best people looking out for you, you know. Kim's mom took over your case personally, and Kim's even called in a bunch of favors to bring some of the best equipment in the world here just for you. All kinds of fancy stuff with complicated names and a bunch of tubes and wires. I don't even think the President has such good healthcare. The doctors say you're pretty good, all things considering, we just need you to wake up now."
The dark skinned beauty could not help as her hands reached out, taking Ron's still palm in her caring grip.
"You know, she cares about you. And I'm not just talking as a best friend. You two… you guys really have something special you know."
For some reason, Ron's lack of response seemed more than Monique could bear as tears began to run down her cheeks, her head tilted downward.
"Ron," Monique gasped over her struggles for breath. "This is where you're supposed to jump up and say 'but me and KP are just best friends'" Monique imitated in a high tenor voice.
The blonde sidekick did not get the chance as Monique continued to cry latched on to his hand. He simply remained, prone and peaceful.
"We're pulling for you Ron. A lot of us. You'd be surprised. We're all rooting for you; we just need you to wake up." Monique looked up desperately at the frozen face of Ron Stoppable. "Please Ron, just wake up."
Monique's pleas went unheeded and she let out a small sigh at the thought. Then, hesitantly at first, Monique rose slightly and leaned over Ron, planting a light kiss at the hair just above his forehead and whispering softly. "You and Kim, Ron. Just think about it. And please wake up soon. She needs you."
"R-Ron?" An anxious Josh Mankey hovered precious inches away from the door to the room where he lay. The young artist seemed unsure of his every footstep as he slowly made his way over to a conveniently placed chair at his bedside. Sitting down, Josh would later feel like an absolute idiot as he asked "How are you doing?"
Josh swallowed nervously as the silence responded.
"I, uhmm, I'm not really sure if I should be here." He explained nervously. "I mean, the nurses say it's possible that you can hear me. It's just, I know we were never really all that close or anything and all, and if you were awake, I don't know if it would make sense for me to…" Josh finally stopped himself from tripping further over his own words. It seemed that the hour that he had spent rehearsing what he might say had been an utter waste of time.
"I thought you should know that a lot of kids at school are worried about you. We… everyone knows about what you did for Kim and all and… wow." Josh ran his hand through his hair without thinking. "Everyone's worried about you Ron. They really are. It's like the whole school just isn't the same anymore. Even a bunch of the cheerleaders." Josh offered hopefully, as if this last statement might stir some kind of response of surprise from Ron.
"You've never seen so many cheer leaders so in need of cheering up, except Bonnie of course. Oh man, she tried to make some crack about you and now… we'll let's just say she's probably going to be spending a very lonely weekend at home." Josh tried to chuckle at the notion, but failed.
"Tara asked about you too. She asks about you a lot you know." Josh paused as he realized something for the first time. "I guess you have that effect on people. It's like, people see you, and whatever else they may think, they think 'wow, there's a guy that never did anyone any wrong in his entire life.' It's pretty amazing when you think about it."
Josh was finding the one sided nature of this conversation to be incredibly uncomfortable so he did his best to hurry it along.
"Kim's been an absolute wreck. Most of us don't see her much anymore, but when we do… it's like she's lost her whole world. I don't think most people get that, but I do. I know Kim and me didn't date long, but it was long enough to know. Anyone who spends more than five minutes with her knows that…" Josh took a moment to gather his breath as he explained "you're her everything man. Me and every other guy that ever wanted her, we all knew that we might get her for dinner and the movie, but after that, she'd still be all yours, whether either of you two knew it or not."
Josh wasn't sure really why he'd made the decision to come here, and having just finished his telling, he was now even more confused than before. As he looked at the comatose blonde before him, he didn't feel any jealousy or resentment towards him… only envy.
"Almost everyone wishes that they could mean that much to someone so special, and you just do it so naturally." Josh bit his lip for a minute before rising up to leave, pausing for a moment to add "I guess what I'm saying is, you'd better not let her down here."
"Stoppable, rise and shine soldier." Steve Barkin commanded loudly as he entered the room.
The still blonde remained where he lay.
"Don't think you're fooling me for one second Stoppable, you're not escaping my watchful gaze so easily." Barkin's voice took on a tone almost like that of a hunter trying to coax his prey out of hiding through intimidation.
Barkin merely proceeded to slam down a large stack of papers onto a nearby stand by the bedside.
"I have already taken the liberty of carefully gathering your assignments for you. I expect them to be completed promptly and neatly upon your return to active duty. No exceptions, no delays and no excuses." Barkin leaned in close to Ron's face.
When Ron did not timidly jump at attention, stuttering his compliance, Barkin sighed as he rose back upright.
"You know Stoppable, I never liked you. You've always been lazy, insubordinate, weak and I haven't forgotten that funny look you gave me, mister. You're late with your assignments, I've caught you twice smuggling illegal contrabands, your 'Bueno Nacho' onto school ground, and don't think I don't know about your hairless rodent always sneaking around."
Barkin straightened as he cleared his voice, his tone softening. The ex-soldier looked at his student with grudging respect.
"However, what you did for Possible was… probably the bravest and most noble action I can imagine." Barkin didn't notice his lower lip as it began to tremble slightly. "In action, we always honored our fallen, and the sacrifice that they made."
At this, Steve Barkin reached into his vest pocket and retrieve a small medallion that he had painstakingly worked on within the school shop class. He held it in his hand as he raised his head high, taking considerable effort to speak clearly and proudly.
"Ron Stoppable, for courage and heroism above and beyond the call of duty, I award you the first Middleton Medal for Valor and Bravery." Barkin took a moment to lay the medal in hand on the stand next to Ron's bed, atop the mound of papers and assignments that he had brought. With that, he took a step back and saluted smartly.
"Well done soldier. Well done."
The door to Ron's room opened awkwardly as a small cart seemed to slowly push itself through and into the room. At an unsteady pace, the cart seemed to move closer and closer before coming to a stop next to Ron's bedside.
A small, pink body slowly climbed atop the cart, moving over to the covered tray sitting atop. Turning a worried gaze over to his human, the tiny rodent quickly moved back to the dish, pulling the cover aside, revealing a mouth watering menu of cheese pizza slices and assorted delicacies from Bueno Nacho all prepared for displaying and gorging.
"Cheese!" Rufus announced happily to his human as he gestured to the palate before him.
There was no movement.
When he did not illicit from Ron the reaction he was hoping for, Rufus grabbed a slice of the still steaming pizza and scampered up Ron's chest, bringing the slice directly beneath his nose.
"Cheese." Rufus announced yet again as he moved the slice back and forth so as to allow the aroma to enter Ron's nostrils, and yet still Ron did not rise to indulge in his favorite food.
Rufus whimpered as he rubbed his paw alongside his human's face. From what little Rufus understood, he knew that the humans with the white coats had been discussing putting some kind of tube down his human's throat to feed him while he was unconscious.
But Rufus' human didn't like that kind of disgusting paste. He liked cheese.
It was at this moment that a younger, blonde human female in a white outfit chose to enter the room, carrying a pad and some piece of paper on it.
"Now, Mr. Stoppable, let's see how you're… now how did this get here?" The nurse asked rhetorically as she noted the tray of cheese covered food lying next to her patient's bedside.
The nurse was about to remove the offending entrée when a small pink figure leapt in her path. Rufus growled at the nurse with an anger and determination that left no room for further discussion. Giving the nurse one last dirty look, Rufus lifted the tray of food from the cart and dutifully carried it over to Ron, laying it atop his chest where his human could eat it at his leisure while Rufus would protect it.
The nurse didn't know what to do. She could just imagine the jokes that would ensue among the staff at her expense if the orderlies had to help her remove a hairless rat and lord only knew what she might get if the thing actually bit her. Instead, uneasily, she backed out of the room, leaving Rufus to curl up on Ron's chest next to the tray, and slowly fall asleep.
"Stoppable?" Brick Flagg stuck his head through the door to the hospital room. The all star quarterback gave a dumb smile, his head shaking back and forth in enthusiasm as he realized he had finally found the right room.
"Hey buddy, what's up?" Brick asked as he moved into the room, standing beside Ron's bedside with a football clutched between his hands. Perhaps the seriousness of the situation was lost on him or perhaps the high school jock simply hadn't yet come to terms with the reality of the situation as he seemed to explain excitedly "You know you got the whole school worried about you… well except Bonnie. You know, ever since you got in here, she keeps asking me if I'd take a death ray for her like you took for Possible." Brick had to smirk as he leaned in as if to whisper "just between you and me buddy, that's a big 'oh hell no." Brick had to laugh at his own joke.
It was then that a frantic expression slowly overcame him.
"Oh, but don't tell Bonnie I said that. You're not gonna tell her right? Oh man, she'd kill me for sure. She'd put me in here right next to you. They'd be feeding us both with the same tube."
Brick's panic seemed to settle slightly as Ron remained unmoving, as if the blonde had somehow assured the jock of his discretion.
"Nah, you're not going to rat on me. You never did before, even when I gave you some pretty serious grief." At this, Brick Flagg's voice finally came down to a more humble tone as he admitted uncomfortably "I did that a lot, didn't I? I know me and a buncha other guys; we really went after you some times, didn't we?"
Brick paused uncomfortably, swallowing a lump that had persisted in his throat for the last few seconds as he looked down at the football that he had brought with and had been clutching at tightly the whole time.
"You know, one of my first games, coach put me in as the quarter back. My first time." Brick explained. "And we're up at Go City and we're getting pummeled, I mean hard man. Their defense is just brutal, and we're stuck all the way back at the ten yard line and it's fourth down." Brick's hand rose slightly as he began to mime the motions.
"And we snap, and right away, they start pushing through our defense, and I try to pass and I can't find a single guy that's open. So, I take a deep breath and I just ran for it." Brick motioned with his arm to indicate a forward direction and a state of panic. "I mean, I ran straight through three of, just, the biggest dudes you've ever seen, and I got two more coming after me. And I'm so scared, and all I can think to do is just run, man. I mean I wasn't trying to score or get a first down, I just freaking ran. And people start cheering me on, but I'm not even thinking of that, I'm just thinking I don't want to get creamed."
Brick took a moment to step back as he continued to re-enact the movement of the evening, gesturing with his hands for emphasis.
"And I'm just running, and I turn around, and I see them getting closer and I turn back, and I see the touchdown line and I just run as fast as I can, and the next thing I know, I'm there." Brick stopped his movements as he raised his hands in finality. "I mean, that's it. Touchdown. Only one of the game. We win and next I know I'm on top of the world."
Brick's voice came down from his moment of victory as he turned back to the ball in his hands.
"Coach gave me this after the game. Said what I did was one of the gutsiest plays he'd ever seen." With that, the Middleton all star quarter back offered no further explanation as he laid the ball gently on a stand next to Ron's bed, right beside a stack of papers and a small medallion of some sort that lay atop it.
"Get better soon buddy."
"Ron?" A soft, gentle voice asked as trembling hands reached out, taking his prone digits within her own, warming them.
Kim Possible, who had taken so long to try and dry her face, looking her best for her best friend, could not help but sigh in frustration as she felt tears run down her recently cleaned cheeks.
She decided to pay them no mind.
"Ron, can you hear me?"
There was no response.
"Ron, I want you to know… we got Drakken." Kim cursed her cowardice as she went on. "Global Justice picked him up in Paris along with his Destructo Nuclear whatever." Kim tried to smile as she recalled "He was actually trying to prop it on top of the Eiffel Tower. Can you believe it?"
When Ron didn't return her smile, it brought her original trembling features back to the surface.
"You didn't have to do this you know?" Kim couldn't help as a slight anger worked its way into her. "You should have just yelled. Told me to get out of the way. I could have handled it you know. I just would have to take a step to the right. Just kicked Shego off and then roll over. You didn't have to protect me like I'm some damsel in distress or…"
Kim suddenly paused as she caught herself in the act, her voice and head dropping in shame.
"You shouldn't have been hurt because of me. I'm the one who started my own website; I'm the one who wanted to help people. All you ever wanted was to hang out at Bueno Nacho and catch the latest action flick." Her voice continued to rise in frustration even as she furiously tried to wipe away the endless down pour of tears across her cheeks. "And keep me safe."
Kim paused, trying to regain some semblance of control and composure over herself. It was a wasted effort.
"It's so unfair Ron. It's so unfair because all you ever wanted was to be there for me and… and I didn't want to tell you like this."
Kim's voice dropped to a soft whisper as she tried to wipe her hair out of her face and perch it behind her ear.
"Not like this. This is just such a cliché." Kim admitted, still upset. "We're supposed to look at each other, and realize how right it all is and how blind we've been this whole time and then be happy together and then…" Kim couldn't help but smile at the thought even as truth slowly seeped its way into her fantasy. "And then you'd probably say something stupid and I'd probably get all upset with you."
This time, Kim could feel the tears begin to ebb as she looked up longingly at Ron. At his familiar blonde hair, at the pattern of freckles across his face that she knew so well since she was a small child. She ran her hand across his cheeks and felt warm all over. A great peace eased away her aches and fears as she looked at him, as she caught a brief glimpse of his usual, carefree smile amidst his unchanging features.
"Only I have been blind this whole time, and I do realize how right it all is." At this, Kim heard her voice rise slightly in volume. "You never let me be afraid of anything when we were little Ron. I loved you then too. You let me chase after Middleton's collection of pretty boys and were never anything but supportive and encouraging the whole time, even when you got pushed aside in the process. I know how hard that must have been for you."
Kim swallowed uneasily before rising, leaning in and planting a gentle kiss on Ron's lips.
"Just wake up Ron." Kim pleaded in a whisper. "I promise I'll tell you when you wake up."
A soft groan filled his private hospital room. His eyes stuttering and shaking slightly, Ron Stoppable slowly stirred.
A slight beep was heard to his side, catching his attention ever so slightly and Ron had just enough time to appreciate it before he tasted a strange, paste like substance flowing into his mouth and down his throat through a tube that had apparently been inserted into his lips.
Ron's eyes shot wide as he moved to remove the foul tube from his lips, ripping off the tape attaching it as he threw the vile tube to the floor, leaving it to leak liquid paste onto the tile.
"Achk! Pthew!" Ron cried as he attempted to spit the remaining substance from his mouth and lips, even trying to wipe it away with his hands. He must have caused more of a commotion than he appreciated as the door to his room swung open.
Ron looked up to see his best friend, Kim Possible standing at his doorway, staring at him wide eyed in a state of unparalleled shock.
"Ahh! KP, they're poisoning me." Ron warned frantically, completely unsure of who 'they' even were or what he'd done to them to deserve such a fate.
Kim gave no response. Or at least, no vocal one.
In a fraction of a second, Kim pounced across the room, her arms flying around Ron's frame, wrapping tightly and clinging to him in blind fear as if he were but a dream that she was mere seconds from awakening from.
"Achk! KP, you're choking me." Ron warned desperately in a gasped breath, completely unsure as to why everyone plus his best friend was trying to kill him.
"Ron!" Mrs. Dr. Possible called out in obvious surprise as she entered the room. Still, her professional experience wouldn't allow her shock to distract her. "Kimmie, let go of him."
Kim Possible refused to heed her mother's words as she felt a brand new wave of tears pour down her face and into Ron's hospital gown. "Oh god Ron, you're awake."
"Still need air." Ron informed with a gasp.
"Kimmie." Mrs. Possible moved to forcibly pull her daughter from Ron's frame.
"Getting dark." Ron announced with the last of his breath.
"Oh god Ron." Kim pulled back in horror as she realized how tightly she'd been clinging to him.
"Going to pass out now." Ron declared as he fell back into his pillow.
"Ron!" Kim's cries might have woken up the entire hospital, yet Ron seemed oblivious to them as he fell back into his pillow, his eyes shut. Fortunately, Rufus rushed past Kim Possible and her mother, carrying a still warm slice of cheese pizza overhead. Rufus brought the slice up beneath Ron's face.
Of their own accord, Ron's nostrils sniffed and sniffed, inhaling the delicious fragrance with hunger.
"Cheese!" Ron exclaimed as he jumped back up in his bed, taking the slice in hand and devouring it eagerly in two gulps.
It was at this moment that Ron took a moment to notice the two Possible women looking upon him with a mixture of concern and shock.
"Stho…" Ron took a moment to swallow the last of his pizza "did I miss something?"
"Ron, you've been unconscious for two days." Kim explained. "Don't you remember anything?"
"Hmm," Ron pondered aloud for a moment "I remember going after Drakken, who still didn't remember my name, and he had some new nuclear destructo weapon thingy…"
"Ron, you took a shot for me." Kim interrupted his recollections.
"Really?" Ron asked in disbelief before a note of concern seeped into his voice as said "Well are you ok?"
"Me?" Kim looked at him incredulously. "Are you ok?"
Ron just shrugged as he looked down at himself. "Feeling fit as a fiddle." Ron announced simply before crying out in distress. "AARRGH! Kim, I'm wearing a dress!" He shouted as he held up his hospital gown.
"He's fine." Kim let out a breath of relief as she leaned in, giving him another hug, this one far less rib crushing.
"Yeah." Ron couldn't help but to sigh contently as his arms fell around the frame of his best friend. "I'm fine."
"I'll be the judge of that, thank you." Mrs. Dr. Possible hated to ruin the pair's moment, but she was still a doctor, and Ronald was still her patient. "Ron, you need to rest. Kimmie…"
"I'm not going anywhere mom." Kim hugged at Ron protectively.
"Kimmie, I'm Ron's doctor first on this one and he needs to sleep." Her mother crossed her arms insistently.
"Then I'll stay with him 'till he falls asleep." She insisted as she pulled up a chair next to Ron's bedside and plopped herself down.
Mrs. Dr. Possible could see two pairs of eyes looking at her hopefully. She knew that she was seconds away from dual Puppy Dog Pouts and decided to yield this one time.
"You can have fifteen minutes and then you need to leave and Ron needs to sleep." Mrs. Dr. Possible offered as a compromise.
"No prob Dr. P." Ron smiled simply.
"Thanks mom." Kim mirrored Ron's smile perfectly. Mrs. Dr. Possible smiled warily at the couple as she walked out of the room.
"I don't know what your mom's so worried about." Ron Stoppable paused as a wide yawn escaped his mouth.
"She's just…" Kim couldn't contain an irrepressible yawn of her own as she felt her eyelids nearly triple in weight as she silently tried to recall the last time she had slept in the past few days "being a worried mother."
"Ah well." Ron felt his eyes slowly close, feeling an irresistible glow as he felt Kim's head come to rest on his stomach. "Say KP," another yawn as Ron fell back into his bed "did I miss anything?"
"Well, there was something I wanted to tell you." Kim admitted softly as she felt herself rest peacefully on Ron's frame, slipping comfortably into her folded arms over his chest.
"What… was it?" Ron asked in almost a hush as he fell into his pillow, its soft comfort beckoning him.
For a moment, Kim hesitated. Fatigue was replaced by anxiousness as she worked up the courage to admit it. The beckon of a peaceful moment together faded into the distant background as a near deathbed promise forced the waiting words from Kim's mouth. "Ron… I love y…"
"Zzzzz." Ron's gentle snoring interrupted Kim's heartfelt confession. She looked up to see him fast asleep, a wide grin etched into his face. Kim felt a similar grin across her face as she simply lay back into his lap.
"I love you Ron." Kim whispered softly before falling fast asleep.
"Awww." Rufus, having apparently gone unnoticed by all present, simply scampered over the sleeping pair and onto a nearby nightstand. The naked mole rat fell asleep alongside a stack of paper, a well preserved football and a hand made medal.