STANDARD DISCLAIMER:The characters of Kim Possible, Dr. James Timothy Possible, Dr. Anne Possible, Jim and Tim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Wade Load, Steve Barkin, Bonnie Rockwaller, Monique, Tara, Felix Renton, Rufus the Naked Mole Rat, Drew "Dr. Drakken" Lipsky, Shego, Dr. Dementor, Lord Montgomery "Monkey Fist" Fiske, Señor Senior Senior, Señor Senior Junior, Dr. Betty Director, Special Agent Will Du, Global Justice and any and all other minor characters/locations from the television series Kim Possible are the sole property of the Walt Disney Corporation, and are used herein without permission or contest to their ownership for the sole purpose of personal, non-profit entertainment. Any and all minor characters that have not appeared in the television series, and this storyline, are the sole creation and property of the author and may not be reproduced without prior consent (if you want to post it, just ask).
A/N: Well… this is it, everybody; Chapter Fourteen and the final installment of TAY. As noted at the end of the last chapter, this isn't the end of the arc; it's merely the end of this story that started it all. It's been a long ride that made me wonder sometimes if the end would ever see the light of day. I just want to say a huge, heartfelt "thank you" to everybody that's read this tale of mine and hope you've all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
A/N: Well… this is it, everybody; Chapter Fourteen and the final installment of TAY. As noted at the end of the last chapter, this isn't the end of the arc; it's merely the end of this story that started it all. It's been a long ride that made me wonder sometimes if the end would ever see the light of day. I just want to say a huge, heartfelt "thank you" to everybody that's read this tale of mine and hope you've all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
As always, a shout out to those that reviewed the last chapter: CajunBear73, shana elmsford, KP's Man, jkrust78, Katsumara, spectre666, screaming phoenix and black-bloodend. Your continued support has been the fuel that saw this thing to completion: I couldn't have done it without you.
Anyway, enough with the sentimental garbage; on with the story!
"What the hell is taking Peregrine so long?" Hawk muttered with a scowl, picking up his telephone and dialing her sat-phone number. When he received no answer, his scowl deepened. Rising from his seat, he went to the window behind his desk to look outside. "Fuck."
"Is there a problem, Mr. Hawk?" the Phoenix client asked in his silky-smooth voice, his Walther PPK still trained on the enigmatic man across the desk.
Hawk wheeled around to glare at the smug individual sitting in front of his desk. "Well, considering Global Justice has just decided to raid us, I would have to say yes, there's a fucking problem!" he bellowed, dashing back to his desk and picking up the telephone. "I don't care what you clowns do, but I'm getting my ass the hell out of here," he said as he dialed another number. "Man the escape tunnel," he said into the receiver abruptly, hanging up without waiting for a response. When he looked up, however, he realized he was staring directly down the business end of his client's PPK.
"I believe you're mistaken, Mr. Hawk; you won't be going anywhere," the gunman said, "although I may change my mind if you tell me where this escape tunnel is."
"What're you babbling about?" Hawk asked, perplexed.
"Am I correct in assuming that I will not be taking delivery of Miss Possible today?" he countered, the Walther rock-steady in his hand.
"Of course not, you idiot!" the Phoenix mastermind retorted angrily. "By now she's probably halfway home, or at the very least waiting for GJ to finish up here!"
"Exactly my point," the client replied coolly, "since I will not be taking delivery of Miss Possible— which constitutes a breach of contract on your part—I expect a full refund of all monies paid to your organization and the opportunity to vacate these premises before Global Justice apprehends us."
"You've got to be shitting me," Hawk muttered incredulously. "Global Justice is about to storm the joint, and you want a refund? Can't this wait until after we get out of here?"
"Unfortunately, no," was the calm response.
"Fine," the shadow-shrouded man growled through clenched teeth. Sitting down at his desk again, he rapidly manipulated the mouse and typed for a moment before speaking again. "There; I've transferred the million bucks back to your account. Now can we quit wasting time and get out of here?"
"Where exactly are we going?"
Hawk took a moment to press a button on his desk—which resulted in the Degaussing ring that surrounded his PC to activate, effectively destroying all information on the hard drive—before answering. "There's a tunnel concealed in the basement of this building that leads to an underground garage about two miles from here; it was set up for a situation like this," he replied, pulling a hardcover copy of War and Peace from the bookcase behind his desk. Reaching into the gap the missing book had made, he pressed a camouflaged panel and replaced the book.
"And what did you just do?" the client asked, his voice still conversational.
"I just disengaged the locks on the tunnel door; it can only be opened from here and it only stays open for five minutes before locking back up," Hawk replied. "Now, I've had enough of your inane questions and Johnny Cool attitude to do me a lifetime, so can we please get the fuck out of here?"
"We most certainly may," the client replied, "however you will not."
Hawk opened his mouth to protest, but it was quickly cut short by a .380 ACP round striking him square in the forehead. His body stood rigid for a moment as if suspended in time before toppling backwards to the floor, dead before he hit the ground.
Replacing the Walther in his pocket, the man turned to his companion. "Come, Peter, let us take our leave of this place," he said, walking nonchalantly to the door. Peter followed behind, taking one last look at Hawk's body before leaving the office, pulling the door closed behind him.
"Why did you kill him, sir?" Peter asked as they descended the stairs towards the basement.
"He outlived his usefulness," the other man replied matter-of-factly, "and eliminating him leaves the door open for me to claim my consolation prize."
"What would that be, sir?"
"I intend to take over the Phoenix Corporation myself and finish what Mr. Hawk—rest his soul—was incapable of accomplishing… defeating Kim Possible once and for all."
Peter remained silent as the two men hit the basement of the building, almost instantly finding the entrance to the tunnel on the southern wall. Beside the door-sized entrance, a small panel with a keypad and an LED display showed a countdown that read 2:49, the time decreasing in one-second increments.
Also standing beside the door was a member of the Phoenix security team, who was currently occupied with wiring a small bomb to the tunnel's entrance, ostensibly to collapse the mouth of the tunnel long enough to allow his employer a chance to escape. As such, he didn't notice the two business-suited men descend the stairs, nor did he see the first one withdraw his pistol; all he noticed was the cold steel of the Walther as it pressed against the base of his skull, making him freeze in his tracks.
"What triggers this explosive?" the man asked simply.
"It's on a timer," the guard replied, "you've got two minutes from the time it's activated to get into the tunnel before it blows."
"How far in does one have to be to clear the blast area?"
"About a hundred yards."
"Is the device ready to trigger?"
"Do it," the man commanded, pressing the muzzle of the pistol a bit harder into the guard's neck for emphasis.
Nodding, the guard complied as he pressed a button on top of the small device, triggering the timer. Beside the button, a small red LED display lit up, counting down from two minutes to the hundredth of a second. "There you go," he said.
"Thank you," the man replied before squeezing the trigger, no sign of emotion on his face as the guard pitched forward, landing face-down in an ever-growing pool of his own blood. Calmly replacing the pistol in his jacket pocket, the man motioned for his companion to follow him down the tunnel.
"So how did you guys find me?" Kim asked as the foursome made their way out of the hangar building and towards the mobile GJ command center.
"Thank Wade for that one," Kate replied with a grin. "He managed to track you down based on Yori's description of the van that snagged you and where they ditched your Kimmunicator along the side of the road—you can also give props to the Colorado DOT for putting up those highway webcams; that's how he tracked them."
"Why does that not surprise me?" the redhead chuckled as they entered the command center—a converted city transit bus—in single file, Kate leading the way.
Agent Rhonda Bartlett looked up from her workstation as soon as she heard Kim's voice, her face lighting up when she laid eyes on the teen heroine. Turning to an agent with a headset on, she tapped him on the shoulder as she spoke. "Rick, advise Dr. Director that Phase One of the operation is complete," she said, "Kim Possible has been recovered safely."
"Yes, ma'am," the young man said with a curt nod as he turned back to his station and relayed the message.
Bartlett, meanwhile, approached Kim with her hand outstretched. "Miss Possible, my name's Rhonda Bartlett; I'm the team lead for this operation and I just want to say we're glad to see you safe and it's an honor to meet you," she said, her broad smile never leaving her face.
"The pleasure's all mine," Kim replied, returning the smile and handshake, "I've never been in a worse sitch than that in my life and, quite frankly, I hope I never am again."
"I can only imagine," Bartlett acknowledged with a scowl.
"So what's the scoop right now?" Kate asked, leaning against a support pole near the door. "We've managed to get Kim out in one piece; how are we doing on the roundup front?"
"We've been taking hired muscle and—for lack of a better term, lieutenants—in left and right, but so far there's no sign of whoever's at the top of this whole pile," the GJ agent said, sitting down at a small table on the right-hand side of the bus. Kate and the three teens followed the other woman's lead and sat down around the same table as she continued to speak. "Of course, we've still got half of the compound to search, so it's not like we're licked yet."
"I think I can help," Kim said, adjusting herself in her seat so she could lean into her boyfriend's chest as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Peregrine told me the reason they grabbed me was because a client had 'bought' me and just before Kate, Ron and Yori came in she told me they were here to pick me up, so whoever put them up to kidnapping me is here, too."
"Do you have any indication or suspicion who the client—or clients—could be?"
Kim shook her head gently. "Not a clue," she said with a frown, "but I wish I did."
"We'll find them," Bartlett said in a comforting tone with an encouraging smile. "Contrary to popular belief, Global Justice doesn't always need a cheerleader and a running back to clean up their SNAFU's… only certain agents with their noses stuck in the air."
"Good to know," Kim said with a smirk, "but this cheerleader wants in on the action."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" the agent said dubiously. "I mean, you were just freed from being held prisoner by a kidnapper."
"Yeah, this is how KP deals with this sort of thing," Ron interjected, squeezing the redhead's shoulders affectionately. "She picks herself up and beats the tar out of whoever got one over on her."
"Exactly," Kim agreed, glancing quickly at the towheaded young man with a smile before turning back to Bartlett. "I want to be there when whoever did this goes down; I know Dr. Director's gonna want to debrief me on the kidnapping, but she can wait until this is over with."
"Doctor Director warned me you might be like this and told me there's no sense in trying to stop you," Bartlett chuckled, reaching behind her seat and coming up with a medium-sized duffel bag, "all she said was to make sure you got this before you ran in headfirst; apparently your webmaster had it sent to us when we were getting ready to move out."
"Thank you, Wade!" Kim exulted as she zipped the bag open and peered inside, her smile growing even wider when she saw its contents. "And thank you, Monique!"
"What's Monique got to do with anything?" Ron asked, puzzled.
Rather than answer right away, Kim instead started emptying the contents of the duffel bag onto the table. At first the other occupants saw what they expected; a purple T-shirt, a pair of black slacks with purple piping along the outer seam, a pair of brown size seven hiking boots, a pair of brown leather driving gloves and a brown leather utility belt and pouch. What they didn't expect, however, was when she pulled a second utility belt from the bag, followed by a pair of size nine hiking boots, a pair of black slacks with green piping on the outer seams and a green T-shirt; all of which she handed to Kate.
"What the hell is this?" the mint-skinned woman asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I asked Monique to put together some mission gear for you," Kim replied proudly, her tone quickly morphing to tentative when she saw Kate's expression. "It seemed like a good idea at the time," she murmured with a shrug.
For a long moment, Kate said nothing, merely staring at the teen heroine in front of her. Finally, with a bemused smirk, she got up from her seat and put her free hand on Kim's shoulder. "Thanks, Kim," she said softly, prompting the smile to return to the younger woman's face, "it means a lot."
"Well, if you're gonna work with Team Possible, you should at least look the part," Kim reasoned, still smiling. "Think of it as another step in your 'moving on' process."
"Beats the hell out of ruining all of my new outfits, that's for sure," the former villainess quipped, returning Kim's smile as she entered the phone-booth-sized changing room incorporated into the back corner of the bus. A few moments later she emerged again, wearing the new togs Kim and Monique had supplied her with, the former waiting by the door when she came out, her own mission gear in her arms.
"So… what do you think?" the redhead asked with a hopeful expression on her face.
"I stand by what I said at Club Banana," Kate replied as she surveyed the results of Monique's design, "she knows what she's doing when it comes to clothes; everything fits like a glove."
"So you like it, then?"
"It'll do," the mint-skinned woman said pseudo-passively, shrugging indifferently but with a pleased twinkle in her eye as the teen stepped past her into the changing room with a giggle.
Less than two minutes later, Kim re-emerged from the changing room with a satisfied expression on her face. "Now this is more like it," she said as she sat down beside Ron and started tightening the laces on her boots.
"So what's the plan now?" Ron asked as he watched his girlfriend finish getting ready.
"If nobody's done it yet, I want to find out where this so-called 'corporation's' head honcho hides out," Kim replied as she peered into the knapsack again, "we need to nail him in order to shut this thing down once and for all."
"We're working on that," Bartlett said, "but so far we haven't found any sign of him yet."
"What about their clients?"
"Haven't found them yet, either, but we did secure a late-model Chevy Tahoe that's registered to a… Peter Howard," the Global Justice mission commander replied with a quick glance at her notepad.
"Are you looking for anything in particular, KP?" Ron asked, watching as she continued to root through the knapsack.
"Yeah… my gun," she replied with a huff, sitting back in her chair. "I was hoping Wade would have it sent with the rest of my gear, but I guess he's still not used to the idea of me carrying."
"Wade might not be, but it appears Dr. Director is," Bartlett said as she opened a locker just behind the driver's seat of the bus. "She told me to bring these on the off-chance you might need them… she must be part psychic, 'cause she gave me two of 'em." Closing the locker, the agent returned to the group with two holstered—one in brown leather, the other in black—pistols in her hands and passed one to each Kim and Ron.
"Spankin'!" Kim exclaimed with a grin as she withdrew the H&K MK23 from its holster and gave it a quick once-over before replacing it. "Hopefully I won't need it, but I'd rather have it in case… already had to shoot one guy," she added as she removed the pouch from her right thigh, replaced it with the holster—which had been custom-made to fit her belt—and put the pouch on her left thigh.
"Better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough," Kate observed sagely. She was about to continue when a muffled explosion could be heard from one of the buildings, causing everybody to turn and look. "What the hell was that?"
"Rick; anybody got anything on what just exploded?" Bartlett asked, turning to her communications officer.
"Not yet, but I'm working on it," the man replied, one hand pressed to his headset. "Apparently it came from a building that we haven't had a chance to search yet; Team Foxtrot's on their way to investigate now."
"Keep us informed if they find anything," Bartlett replied, turning back to the newly-expanded Team Possible. "If you guys have any ideas right now, I'd be glad to hear 'em."
"We know that whoever hired Phoenix to capture me hasn't left in any type of vehicle, so they've gotta be on foot," Kim mused, "and I would almost be willing to bet that if we find Phoenix's client, we'll find the head honcho of the entire corporation."
"Finding two or three guys on foot—in the middle of the night, I might add—in a thousand acres of sand dunes and shrubs is gonna be damn near impossible," Kate cut in. "We're gonna need something to throw the advantage our way."
"Way ahead of you," Kim replied with a wink as she turned the Kimmunicator on her wrist towards her face and pressed the call button.
"Kim!" Wade cried in relief. "You're okay!"
"Of course I am," the redhead replied nonchalantly, "and I'm back in the saddle and need your help."
"Gladly; what do you need?"
"I need you to do a thermal imaging scan on this place and see if you can find anybody running away from the action… looks like whoever is behind this mess managed to sneak out under GJ's radar."
"On it," the teen tech guru replied with a grin as he started typing on his keyboards. After about a minute, however, his face fell. "This is weird… other than GJ agents, I don't see anybody running away from the compound."
"Well, they could be underground," Wade said, "thermal imaging can only detect surface temperatures; if they're in a basement or something then there's no way I'll find them with this. Sorry," he added dejectedly.
Kim sighed, but smiled at her tech guru nonetheless. "Thanks Wade, you rock anyway," she said before signing off.
"Okay, so that didn't work; now what?" Ron asked, looking up at Kim.
Before she could answer, Rick—the GJ communications officer—broke the silence. "Rhonda! We just got word what that explosion was!"
Bartlett spun around to look at the man the second he spoke. "What was it?" she asked.
"Looks like somebody set up a charge at the mouth of a tunnel in a basement and blew it so nobody could follow them," he replied. "They also found one man dead down there."
"Dead from what?" the mission commander asked incredulously.
"Single gunshot wound to the head; apparently whoever blew that tunnel mouth shut didn't want him to follow," Rick replied, then put his hand to his earphones, apparently listening to another update. "Make that two dead; Team Delta just found Harland Bachman in what appears to be his office… also dead of a single gunshot wound to the head."
"Dammit!" Bartlett spat, slamming her fist on the table. "How can we prosecute a dead man?"
"I dunno, but whoever decided to kill Bachman is probably the same one that hired him to capture me so they could buy me," Kim said, rising from her seat and looking at her team. "I think it's time we talk to Miss Peregrine again."
Peregrine was not a happy camper. Sitting in the back of a converted and fortified cube van on a wooden bench fastened to the side wall with her hands cuffed tightly behind her back and her left ankle shackled to the floor was not her idea of a good time by any stretch of the imagination. As bad as her day was going, however; it got exponentially worse when Kim Possible opened the back door of the van and climbed in with a look of vengeance in her eyes. "Great; come to rub it in my face that you beat me?" she muttered with a scowl.
"Hardly," Kim replied flatly, sitting down on the bench across from the mercenary. "I need information and you're the one that's going to give it to me."
"And what, exactly, makes you think I'm going to give you anything?"
"What benefit is it to you to not give me anything?" Kim countered.
"The satisfaction of seeing your case fall down around your ears when you're so close to the finish line," Peregrine sneered maliciously. "Just because Shego went soft doesn't mean I'm gonna; Hawk'll get me out of jail and we'll be back… and you'll be dead."
"You do realize that Harland Bachman—AKA 'Hawk'—is dead, right?"
"You're lying," the sniper growled through clenched teeth, her voice rising to a crescendo as she continued. "Hawk was perfectly fine when I left his office twenty minutes ago; how could he be dead?"
"He was found in his office with a gunshot wound to the head," Kim replied with a modicum of pity. "Whoever hired Phoenix to nab me probably decided he'd outlived his usefulness and eliminated him before the tables could be turned. Peregrine, I need to know how he—or they—got away without Global Justice noticing them."
"They—there were two of them—probably used Hawk's escape tunnel, assuming he said anything to them about it before they killed him."
"That adds up to what we've found," Bartlett interjected from the van's back door, "that explosion appeared to cave in the mouth of a tunnel."
Kim nodded before turning her attention back to the prisoner in front of her. "I need to know where that tunnel leads," she said with a bare hint of desperation, "if you want Hawk's murderers to face justice… I need to know how they're getting away."
Peregrine sat silent for a long moment, staring at her boots as she waged an internal battle with herself. Sure, it would be easy to just tell the redheaded heroine in front of her where the emergency garage was, but to do that would help her and go against everything the mercenary stood for. On the other hand, to not tell her would mean the ones responsible for Hawk's death would get away.
In the end, the young woman decided that helping Kim would be the lesser of two evils; she was already going to prison, the least she could do was bring Hawk's killers down with her. "The tunnel goes for about two and a half miles due south, across the New Mexico border," Peregrine muttered softly. "The other end comes out inside an old dairy barn that we've got converted into a garage; we keep two Chevy Tahoes and a Lincoln Town Car over there at all times, fueled up and ready to go at a moment's notice."
With a triumphant smirk, Kim looked down at the Kimmunicator on her wrist. "Did you get that, Wade?"
"Roger that," the young tech phenom replied with a broad grin. "I've already got the farm on live satellite surveillance and I'm watching for activity."
"How long will it take for us to get there on the open road?"
Wade typed away again for a moment before replying. "Assuming you're taking Kate's GJ-issue car, roughly fifteen minutes."
"We're on our way," Kim said as she rose from the bench, "keep us posted if they're on the move again."
"You got it," Wade said before the screen winked out, returning to its default time/date setting.
Kim turned to look at Peregrine for a brief moment, an almost pitying expression on her face. "Thank you, Peregrine; you did the right thing," she said softly.
"Eat shit," the mercenary spat with a scowl, still staring at her feet.
Shaking her head with a soft sigh, Kim exited the truck and looked at the rest of Team Possible, standing in wait just outside. "Okay, we have a clue where my so-called buyers have gone; Wade's already got the place under surveillance and he's gonna let us know if they bolt before we get there."
"Perfect; where is it?" Kate asked, following the redhead towards her car.
"Just across the New Mexico border; a dairy farm about two and a half miles due south of here," Kim replied. "Wade says we should be able to make it in fifteen minutes."
"Too long," the former villainess objected, turning to look at Agent Bartlett behind her. "Have you got anything that'll get us there quicker?"
Bartlett shook her head in the negative. "We only brought Humvees and a couple of buses; if we had a chopper I'd say you could fly in, but as it stands we've got nothing that'll get you there any faster."
"We could off-road with one of the Hummers," Ron suggested.
"Terrain's too rough; it'd be a straighter line, but we'd have to go slower," Kate said with a deepening frown. "Looks like we're gonna have to head out and hope for the best."
Kim was about to reply when her Kimmunicator chirped again. "Go, Wade."
"Looks like our guys are on the move and they're coming back north," the rotund teen said, his eyes directed at a different screen than the one connected to the Kimmunicator. "I don't think they realize we're on to them," he added with a smirk.
"Well, I guess we'll just have to change that, won't we?" the redhead replied, looking at Kate. "Feel up to a high-speed chase?"
"I wish I knew what made me think being a good guy was no fun," the raven-haired vixen mused before looking at her friend. "Let's move."
All four Team Possible members turned to head for Kate's car when Kim stopped and turned to Agent Bartlett. "Miss Bartlett?"
"For the love of God, Kim, call me Rhonda," the young mission commander sighed, but with a grin.
"Sorry, Rhonda," Kim smirked before continuing. "Could you contact the local Highway Patrol branch? I have a feeling it's gonna take more than just us to get these guys off the road."
"You got it," Bartlett replied with a grin. "Good luck."
"Thanks; I have a feeling we're gonna need it," the teen said with a final wave as she ran to catch up with her teammates.
"So what's the plan now, sir?" Peter asked as he drove the speed limit on the highway, headed back towards Middleton and, by extension, Denver.
"We get back to our office and regroup before going back on the offensive," the man in the seat next to him replied as he loosened his tie and unbuttoned the collar of his shirt. Reaching just below the inside edge of his collar, he began scraping his fingernails under the edge of a rubber mask and started to peel it off, tossing the pieces on the floor at his feet as they came off, thankful for the Lincoln's deeply-tinted windows.
"Do you have another plan in mind?"
"Of course I do, Peter; this is why I'm the brains and you're the driver," he replied once he'd managed to clear the rubber from around his lips, continuing as he removed the rest of the mask from the upper part of his face, more and more of his natural blue hue being revealed. "Since the Phoenix Corporation has been all but obliterated, we will get the affairs we need in order to take over the business niche that they've recently vacated, effectively eliminating any cash flow issues that we may currently be encountering."
"What about your business partner?"
"I plan on severing our business relationship in the very near future; with this new arrangement I will have no further need of his financial backing and his abrasive mannerisms are, quite frankly, starting to annoy me."
Peter nodded as he continued to drive along the highway, his eyes never leaving the road. "Yeah, the professor can be rather loud at times; really, considering your history, I'm surprised you ever teamed up in the first place."
"It was an alliance of necessity at the time," Drakken muttered with a sigh, "but if I can get along without him, then so much the better."
"Here's hoping," Peter muttered, also rather tired of Dementor's over-the-top personality. He was about to continue his thought when he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw a pair of headlights approaching rapidly. "What the hell is this clown thinking?" he exclaimed instead as the gray Crown Vic blew by at about a hundred and forty.
"Who cares? It just means the highway patrol will be more interested in him than us," Drakken replied casually. "Just keep the speed limit and don't give them any excuses to notice us."
"Yes, sir, Dr. Drakken," Peter replied with a nod.
About ten miles up the road, the speeding Crown Vic slowed down and pulled over just ahead of a marked Colorado State Patrol cruiser. Almost before the car came to a complete stop, Kim, Ron and Yori were already piling out; Kate right behind them once she'd thrown the sedan into park and shut the engine off.
As soon as they'd pulled over, the trooper in charge approached them at a jog. "Miss Possible, I'm Sergeant Major Miles Davis," he said, shaking hands with the foursome as Kim introduced them. "We've got the highway closed for four miles; did you pass anybody else besides the suspect car?"
"Nope; that Lincoln's the only one we saw," Kate replied, standing just behind the three teenagers.
"Perfect," Davis said before turning to the other six troopers present. "Okay, boys; we're on!" he called out. Almost as one, the four cruisers' engines started up and were repositioned; two perpendicular to the road and two behind them, parallel to the road, prepared to give chase should the suspect vehicle continue past the roadblock. For added measure, spike belts were rolled out just before the cruisers to flatten the car's tires as it drove past, hopefully stopping it without having to resort to a high-speed chase. In the distance, the rotors of a helicopter could be heard beating through the air, waiting to put a spotlight on the scene if needed.
"Not taking any chances, I see," Kim mused as she watched the troopers set up their road block.
"Well, we just figure that this way, even if they do blow through, they won't get far on four flat tires," the sergeant major explained with a smirk, "and something tells me that, between ten of us, they won't get far on foot, either."
"You can bet on that," Kim said darkly. "I'm gonna make sure this son-of-a-bitch gets put away before he can try to pull a stunt like this again."
"Believe me, Miss Possible, we would like nothing more than to help you ensure that's exactly what happens," Davis replied just as gravely.
At that point a car could be heard approaching; at the same time, Davis's two-way radio squawked to life. "Suspect vehicle is approaching at the speed limit; all units stand by."
"That's our cue," he said, turning to return to his team as the four cruisers' emergency lights all lit up, bathing the scene in a psychedelic blend of red and blue. "You guys can hole up behind your car and wait; hopefully this'll all be over quick."
"Why does that make me think it'll be anything but quick?" Ron mused in an undertone as they took up a position on the far side of the car.
"I've got a bad feeling too, Ron," Kim replied, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze. "We'll just have to make sure we're ready."
No sooner had she finished speaking when the Lincoln's headlights came around the turn that led up to the roadblock. One state trooper stood at the front fender of one of the cruisers with his hand held up in a "halt" gesture, hoping the driver would stop and surrender quietly; four others were stationed on the far side of the cruisers and the other two were sitting in the chase vehicles, ready to pursue if needed.
"Shit!" Peter exclaimed as he made the turn and saw the mass of red and blue flashing lights. "Roadblock!"
"Go through the spike belts," Drakken ordered, "the area is wooded; we'll go in the woods and hopefully evade capture long enough to hijack another vehicle and continue on our way."
"Yes, sir," Peter replied dubiously as he pressed the accelerator to the floor.
"He's speeding up!" the trooper standing in front of the roadblock cried out. "Get ready to pursue!"
Kim cursed under her breath when she heard the trooper's update, coupled with the roar of the Lincoln's big V8 engine as the driver floored it. "Why can they never make this any easier?" she muttered as she drew her MK23 and held it at the ready, knowing at least one of the car's occupants was armed.
Nobody got a chance to answer or move before the big car hit the spike belts, a distinctive popping coming from the tires as they were punctured. Rather than slow down, however, the Lincoln's driver kept his foot on the accelerator, fighting to keep control of the car as the tires went flat, riding the rims as the tires disintegrated. Before the troopers could give chase, however, the Lincoln lost control and crashed through the guard rail barely ten feet ahead of Kate's car; both front doors flying open and the occupants bailing out as the car came to a complete stop.
"Get that spotlight on the car!" Davis barked into his radio. Barely a second later, the entire area around the now-wrecked Lincoln was bathed in white light as the helicopter hovered overhead. Two figures could be seen running in opposite directions from the car, headed for the stand of evergreens barely fifty feet away.
"Occupants of the Lincoln, halt where you are or we will open fire!" the pilot of the helicopter called over the PA system. For added light, the two cruisers on that side of the highway turned their spotlights on the fleeing figures.
Kim turned to Ron and put her hand on his shoulder. "You and Kate go after the passenger; Yori and I'll take the driver," she said decisively.
"You got it, Kim," Ron replied with a nod as he turned to follow the former villainess into the gully. He stopped, however, when his girlfriend didn't let go right away and turned to look at her again. "What's up?"
Rather than respond verbally, Kim leaned in and kissed the young man briefly, yet passionately, on the lips. "Just remember that no matter what happens, I love you," she said as she pulled away.
"Ditto, KP," he replied, this time slipping away unhindered.
Peter could hear somebody chasing after him almost as soon as the police spotlights were on him. Panicking, he drew a Browning Hi-Power from his jacket and turned, firing blindly over his shoulder, hoping to at least drive whoever was chasing him to cover.
On the shoulder of the highway, Corporal Sam Wilkins couldn't hide the smirk as he brought his M14 to his shoulder and peered through the scope. "You just gave me an excuse, you naughty boy," he murmured as he released the safety on the weapon. Double-checking the friendlies were still far enough away, he drew a bead on the fleeing man and squeezed the trigger, a satisfied grunt sounding from his throat as the figure dropped. Pulling the rifle away from his face and re-engaging the safety, he keyed his radio. "This is Wilkins; shots fired, one suspect is down; repeat, one suspect is down from police fire."
"Affirmative, Wilkins," the dispatcher replied, "paramedics and coroner are standing by until the scene is secured."
Kim and Yori, meanwhile, had arrived at the suspect's motionless form lying in the grass. Kneeling beside him with her pistol still in hand, the redhead rolled the man over, gasping at what she saw; Yori, for her part, merely uttered an oath in Japanese under her breath.
Peter lay on his back with unseeing eyes wide open, a 7.62mm entry wound in his left temple, about an inch back from the corner of his eye. On the other side of his head, just above his ear, was the exit wound, pieces of pulpy brain matter and bits of skull stuck in his hair. Fighting the urge to retch, Kim merely stood back up and walked away, Yori following behind.
"And I believed only ninja could be so ruthless," the young Japanese woman said with a hint of awe in her voice.
"You'd be surprised what can happen in America when one of their heroes is threatened," the redhead replied dryly, "and from what most people tend to tell me, I qualify."
"I would not argue that," Yori stated matter-of-factly as they climbed the embankment back to the shoulder of the highway.
Master Sergeant Davis approached them as they crested the hill. "What's the word on the suspect that shot at you?"
"Whoever shot him has better aim than he did," Kim replied. "He's dead."
Davis nodded wordlessly. Dammit, Wilkins; you just tripled our paperwork. He heaved a heavy sigh before he finally spoke. "Alright, Miss Possible; I'll contact the coroner to get out here and pick up the body… hopefully we'll bring the other guy in alive."
"I'll second that," the redhead said, "the one we were chasing was just a driver; the other guy's the brains of the operation."
"You think they'll be able to catch him alive? He got into the woods before anybody could catch up to him."
"With Ron and Kate on his tail, I wouldn't worry too much."
"Dammit, Stoppable; why didn't you just shoot him in the kneecap or something?" Kate barked as they picked their way through the evergreens, following the sounds of their quarry smashing through the undergrowth.
"Hey, I don't shoot at anybody unless they shoot at me first," Ron replied indignantly. "Besides, you've got your plasma that's not lethal; you could've knocked him down with that."
Kate growled in her throat before casting a glance at the towheaded teen nearby. "Okay, I'll give you that one," she conceded grudgingly, stepping around a tree trunk. "Now I can't even see the son-of-a-bitch."
"Who needs to see him when he's making more racket than a bull moose?" Ron retorted as they continued through the forest, their superior athleticism making them gain on their quarry at a steady rate.
"Who are you and what have you done with the buffoon?" the mint-skinned woman quipped with a note of humor in her voice.
"Growing up tends to do that to a guy," Ron shrugged, pointing just ahead. "There he is!"
"Let's see if this'll grab his attention," Kate said, stopping up long enough to power up her right hand and throw a fastball that would make Roy Halladay proud. Rather than striking the fleeing man directly, she'd aimed a bit to one side so the bolt would strike the ground ahead of him, hopefully coaxing him to stop.
When it hit, however, the reaction wasn't one either Kate or Ron expected. Sure, the man stopped dead when he saw Kate's plasma hit the ground less than ten feet in front of him, but he only stayed that way for a moment before spinning around, the Walther PPK in his hand. "You traitorous bitch!" he screamed as he squeezed the trigger.
Ron had ducked behind a tree as soon as he saw the gun in the man's hand, drawing his own from his holster. When he peeked around the tree again, though, his stomach plummeted in horror at the sight that met his eyes.
Kate looked up at her former employer with sheer contempt in her eyes, her hands pressing on the newly-acquired bullet wound in her stomach, just below her left breast, blood seeping between her fingers. "What now, Dr. D? Gonna kill me like you want to kill Kim?" she hissed through clenched teeth.
"All in good time, Shego," Drakken replied smoothly. "Who was with you and where is he? I saw two of you chasing me."
"Nobody," Kate lied, hoping to give Ron a chance to get a shot.
"Lies!" the mad scientist barked, turning his pistol in the general direction of his former sidekick's companion. "Show yourself or the green girl gets a lead propelled lobotomy!" To encourage his demand, Drakken fired a couple of shots into the darkness.
Ron had stayed behind the large spruce tree he'd ducked behind, thankful he did as the two shots whizzed by; one of them actually embedding in the trunk of the tree he stood behind. Oh, it's on now, he thought as he crouched low and peered around the far side of the trunk. He could see Drakken still looking wildly about, trying to find him as the teen noiselessly disengaged the safety on his Smith & Wesson M&P .45.
"Come on; I don't have all day!" Drakken yelled, still looking around but with his weapon now pointed at Kate's forehead again. "You've got five seconds before I kill her!"
Not on my watch, Ron thought as he peeked around the trunk of the tree again, especially thankful for the M&P's matte-black finish as he sighted in on the Walther in Drakken's tiny hand.
Why couldn't Kim be the one doing this? She's the one that can put six shots in the same hole in three seconds at twenty yards.
Then again, I got five in the same hole in three seconds at fifteen yards…
Here goes nothing…
Taking a deep breath, Ron held it as he squeezed the trigger.
Kate winced, but willed her eyes to stay open as she saw Drakken's face contort, the muscles in his hand twitching to squeeze the trigger of the PPK. Instead of the instant blackness she expected, however, the gunshot she heard caused the mad scientist's hand to jerk away, the Walther spinning out of his grasp to land in the undergrowth a couple of yards away.
"Hands where I can see 'em, Drakken!" Ron yelled as he stepped out from behind the tree, his pistol still trained on the blue man's form.
"The buffoon…?" Drakken whined numbly as he held his hands out to his sides. "But… you're supposed to be in the hospital!"
"Kate's not the only one here that's got the mad healing skills," the towheaded teen said nonchalantly as he stepped closer, the muzzle of his weapon never wavering. Looking down at Kate, he raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "How you feeling?" he asked.
"I've had better days," she deadpanned, what little color she had leaving her cheeks as she lost blood.
With his left hand, he withdrew his handheld version of the Kimmunicator (which looked uncannily like an iPod) and keyed the call button. "Let's see if we can do something to fix that," he said.
"Ron!" Wade exclaimed the second his face appeared on the screen. "What's going on?"
"Get a GPS lock on me and get the cops and some paramedics in here A-sap; Kate's been shot and we caught the suspect," Ron said, keeping his eyes on Drakken.
"Sending your coordinates to Kim now; where was Kate hit?" Wade said, all business.
"Single wound to the abdomen; she's still conscious but losing blood."
"Okay, they're on their way; in the meantime, do you have an ID on whoever was behind this mess?"
"Drakken," Ron replied flatly, "it was Drakken all along."
"Whaddaya know… I was right," Kate murmured weakly. "I told Dr. Director that was probably what was going on, but I had no proof."
"Now we've got it," Ron said, giving the former villainess—and now-proven ally—a quick grin before returning his gaze to Drakken. All four—Wade included—stayed silent at that point as they waited for the state troopers and paramedics to arrive; judging by the thrashing approaching them through the undergrowth, they knew it wouldn't be long.
Sure enough, less than a minute later the first state trooper caught sight of Ron holding Drakken at gunpoint. "Over here!" he called as he jogged up alongside Ron with his own weapon drawn and trained on the mad scientist. "We've got it from here, Mr. Stoppable; you can stand down," he said, "good work."
Nodding, Ron put his gun back in its holster and turned to another trooper that approached him. "I shot Drakken's gun out of his hand; it's laying over there somewhere," he said, pointing in the general direction of the Walther's location.
"We'll find it," the trooper said, turning his flashlight in the direction Ron had pointed while another trooper joined the first and went about securing Drakken's arms and legs in handcuffs and shackles.
Ron spun around and immediately locked gazes with his girlfriend, best friend and soul mate. Smiling, he held his arms open as Kim jumped into his embrace, kissing him fiercely. "You okay, KP?" he asked once their lips parted.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she replied, looking down at Kate, who was being tended to by paramedics. "How's Kate?"
"I'm fine, thank you very much," the mint-skinned woman croaked from the backboard she'd just been strapped to. "Just because I've been shot doesn't mean I can't speak for myself, y'know."
"Sorry," Kim said sheepishly, stepping out of her boyfriend's arms and moving to the older woman's side. Taking her hand, she gave it an affectionate squeeze. "Thanks again, Kate… for everything."
"Hey… what're sisters for?" Kate replied with a smirk as the paramedics, as one, lifted her up.
"Exactly," the redhead said with a wink as the paramedics started to take the former villainess away. "We'll stop by the hospital to see you tomorrow, after you've been patched up."
"I'm counting on it," Kate replied with a wave.
Kim stood and watched until the silhouette of the three men and one woman carrying the prone figure faded into the shadows before turning back to the now-captive Drakken. "Okay, Drakken; time for some answers… why did you order Kate to kill me?"
"I was fed up," he replied, "tired of being a laughingstock amongst the villainous community; every scheme I'd ever come up with being foiled by a teenaged cheerleader… I'd had enough."
"So why didn't you order me killed sooner?"
"You were still a child; even I have morals enough to not kill a child. Once your eighteenth birthday had passed, however, that all changed."
"Starting to sound like a broken record," Kim muttered before continuing. "Where's Dementor?"
"Waiting for Peter and myself to return to our base of operations in the Grand Canyon so we can plan our next step," he answered with a scowl.
"Okay, when you talk to Global Justice in the very near future, you'll tell them where that base is so they can go get him," Kim said.
"I have a question," Ron broke in, "why did you all of a sudden decide that you didn't want Kim dead after you'd ordered Shego to kill her?"
"After Shego left, I started thinking; what would the world think if they saw Kim Possible bowing to me and admitting—without the influence of any neural compliance devices—that I'd defeated her, wholly and completely? If I could beat her, who would be able to stop me?"
"So you decided to hire the premier black-market operation in the country to capture me and bring me to you so you could break my spirit… is that it?" Kim summarized.
"Yes, that's it precisely."
Kim nodded with a look of sheer disgust and contempt on her face directed at the mad scientist before her. "Get him out of my sight," she growled to the two troopers that held him between them. "I can't be held responsible for my actions if he sticks around here much longer."
"You got it, Miss Possible," one of the troopers said, pulling on Drakken's left arm. "Come on, Blue Boy; let's go."
Kim, Yori and Ron waited for the squad of state troopers to start marching out of the wooded area—the two troopers escorting Drakken leading the way—before they made their way out to the highway. As they exited the woods, they noticed the number of police cars appeared to have doubled. They also noticed a couple of unmarked cars similar to the one they'd arrived in and a black van with CORONER stenciled on the side in yellow. A bit further up, they could see Drakken being loaded into the back of an unmarked paddy wagon; two men dressed in unmistakable Global Justice jumpsuits standing on either side of the back doors as the mad scientist was escorted inside by state troopers.
Silence reigned between the trio as they made their way to the Global Justice car they'd arrived in; Kim and Ron walking hand-in-hand, Yori following a few steps behind. When they got to the car, Kim stopped and rested her head on her boyfriend's shoulder, breathing a heavy sigh.
"You okay, KP?" Ron asked, looking down at her.
"Yeah… I'm okay, baby," she replied softly, "it's just been a long day and I'm tired; mentally and physically."
"I hear that," the young man said, slipping his arm around his girlfriend's shoulders. "I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight."
"Me, too," Kim agreed, leaning up to kiss Ron tenderly on the lips. After a moment they pulled away and turned to look at the young Japanese woman that accompanied them. "Can we give you a lift, Yori?" she asked with a grateful smile. "If you need a place to stay, I'm sure my parents wouldn't mind."
"You honor me with your hospitality, Kim-chan; I accept," she replied with a bow and a smile.
Kim was about to respond when her Kimmunicator chimed. "Hey, Wade; what up?" she said, relieved to see her tech guru's face visibly relaxed.
"I was just talking to Dr. Director; she told me to tell you guys to just get out of there and go home," the teen phenom said with a grin. "She said there'll be plenty of time to debrief you tomorrow and you could both probably use a good night's sleep. Oh, and don't worry about giving statements to the state police; Global Justice will look after that, too."
"As always, you rock in stereo, Wade," the teen heroine said. "Let us know as soon as you hear anything else."
"You got it," Wade said, signing off.
Dropping her arm, Kim turned to her boyfriend with a tired smile. "You wanna drive?" she asked.
"Sure, KP," he replied, opening the driver's door of the car while she walked around to the other side and Yori climbed into the back seat. Once they were all settled in the seats and buckled in, Ron started the Crown Vic and pulled away, unnoticed by either the state patrolmen or the Global Justice agents present.
Barely two minutes down the road, Ron turned to say something to his girlfriend and stopped short when he realized she'd fallen fast asleep, a content smile on her face. With a small smile of his own, he reached over and placed his hand on her thigh to give it a comforting squeeze. When he started to remove his hand, however, her left hand grasped his right and held it where it was, a mumbled "don't let go, Ronnie," escaping her lips.
He stole another look at her to see if she was waking up, but the redheaded heroine slept on, despite the strong grip she kept on his hand. "Don't worry, Kim; I'll never let go… I've got your back," he whispered, giving her hand an affectionate squeeze.
Kim never stirred again until Ron steered Kate's borrowed car into the Possible driveway, parking just behind her father's car. Giving her a gentle shake, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek as he shut the ignition off. "KP… we're home," he whispered in her ear, shaking her a little harder.
As she stirred awake, the front door of the house swung open and their combined families spilled out, James Possible in the lead. Shaking the cobwebs from her head, the redheaded heroine climbed out and looked at her father with a broad smile. "Daddy!" she cried out as he gathered her in his arms.
"Kimmie-cub, thank God you're safe!" he breathed, crushing her in his arms.
Meanwhile, Jean Stoppable—with Hana in her arms—ran over to her son and hugged him. "Ronald, what are you doing out of the hospital? There's no way you've healed up yet!"
"Let's just say I had some help," Ron replied, motioning to Yori, who still stood beside the car. When Ron's mother looked in her direction, she bowed politely, but remained silent.
"I… see," the Stoppable matriarch said, not bothering to press the matter. She'd seen enough of the young Japanese woman since Ron's trip to Yamanouchi in his junior year to know that there was more to the story that, apparently, she wasn't privy to and probably didn't want to be privy to.
"Come on, everybody; let's go inside," Anne Possible said once she'd had her chance to embrace her daughter, "there's no point standing around out here." Without removing her arm from around Kim's shoulders, the neurosurgeon led the group back into the house, only releasing the younger redhead when they were in the living room.
Once everybody had taken a seat, James looked around and did a head count. "Where's Miss Gogh?" he finally asked after a moment. "Wasn't she with you before?"
"Kate's gone to the hospital," Kim replied, once again snuggled into her boyfriend with her head on his chest and her arms around his midsection; his arm around her shoulders. "She got shot trying to chase Drakken down."
"Is she going to be okay?" Anne asked, already reaching for the telephone.
"Oh yeah, she's gonna be fine," Kim replied with a wave of her hand. "Besides the ability to throw plasma, one of the other effects from that comet was accelerated healing; she told me she got shot when she was still with Team Go and was out of the hospital in two days."
"So who was behind this whole mess," Dean asked from the other end of the sectional couch, "and can we be sure that there's nobody left to try and pick up where this left off?"
"Drakken was behind all of it," Kim replied with a scowl. "He wanted to capture me and break me to the point that, without the influence of mind control chips or any so-called magic potion, I would be willing to admit to the world that he'd defeated me… and then he'd likely have killed me."
"Why would he all of a sudden want to kill you when he's had countless chances before?" James interjected.
"I'm eighteen, now, Dad; that mean's I'm fair game," Kim replied dryly.
"We can argue about the moral ramifications later," Anne broke in with a tone that brooked no argument, "right now I want to take a closer look at your abdomen, young man." With that, the neurosurgeon rose from her seat and motioned for Ron to do the same. "Take your shirt off," she said, using her best "doctor's voice."
"Okay, Mrs. Dr. P," the towheaded teen said with a note of trepidation as he stood up and peeled his shirt over his head. Without hesitation, the elder redhead leaned in and examined the scars on his abdomen—both entry and exit—with clinical precision and a little bit of awe.
"Unbelievable," Anne breathed as she examined the scar, brushing her fingertips gently over the lightly puckered skin, "this scar looks like it's six months old; not three days."
"Ron-kun is endowed with an ancient and mystical energy that allows him to heal much faster than most," Yori said with a small smile. "It is not an ability to be abused, however both Ron-kun and Sensei felt the situation of Kim-chan's abduction was worthy of him summoning it."
"That's all well and good for us, now tell us how we're going to explain it to the doctors that treated him?" the world-famous surgeon deadpanned, her arms crossed over her chest as Ron pulled his shirt back on. "I'm sure nobody involved wants Ron's unique 'abilities' publicized and even if we did, I'd probably lose my license pending a psychiatric assessment."
"I've got it!" Kim exclaimed after a moment, snapping her fingers. "Kate's abilities and enhanced healing are well-documented, right?"
"Yes; I've read the case studies on all of the Gogh children several times," Anne said with a nod, "but what does that have to do with anything? Other than close contact with Kate, Ron's had no exposure to the comet's radiation."
"So? We also know that she went to search him down when he left the hospital," the teen heroine said, explaining her theory. "To straighten this out, we'll bend the truth a little bit and say when she found him he was still hurt and starting to aggravate the wound; she figured out a way to channel her plasma into him in a way that accelerated his healing process."
"That might work," Anne mused, "but I would want to run it by her first and see if she would be willing to go with that story."
"Somehow I don't think that'll be a problem," her daughter replied with a grin, "but I'll ask her about it when I go see her in the morning." Noticing her boyfriend's put-out gaze, she looked back at him understandingly. "I know you want to go to, baby, but I think it'd be better if you lie low just long enough for us to make sure we've got the story straight."
"As usual, you're right, KP," Ron said with a nod. "When you do go, tell her I said hi."
"Count on it, boyfriend," she said, nuzzling his cheek with her nose.
Everybody in the room sat in companionable silence for about a minute or so, the four parents smiling fondly at their oldest offspring as they cuddled on the couch. Finally, Dean Stoppable placed his hands on his knees and stood, turning to look at his wife and adopted daughter once he was on his feet. "Well dear, do you suppose it's about time that we head home? It's getting late and I'm sure the Possibles would certainly like to go to bed… not to mention Ronald's probably itching to spend a night in a real bed after the past few nights in the hospital."
"I think you're right," Jean replied with a knowing smile as she handed her sleeping daughter to her husband before rising. Turning to Anne, she winked before speaking to her son. "We'll see you in the morning, Ronnie," she said before following her husband out the door.
"Huh?" a dumbstruck Ron managed to stammer.
"I think you're being told by your mother to spend the night here," Anne replied with a smirk as she rose to see the Stoppables to the door, "and I think it's a great idea; especially considering you're supposed to lay low."
"I suppose you're right," the towheaded teen shrugged as he and Kim rose from their seats. Making their way to the door, they gave his parents each a hug and kissed his mother and Hana each on the cheek; Kim also giving Dean a peck on the cheek. "See you guys in the morning," Ron said with a smile as they turned and left the house.
Anne turned to look at Yori, who had also risen and was approaching the door. "Do you need a place to stay tonight, Yori? We have a guest room that you would be more than welcome to use if you need to."
Yori bowed to her hosts. "Again I thank you for your hospitality, Dr. Possible, however I must decline; Sensei has summoned me back to Yamanouchi immediately. A taxi is on its way to collect me and bring me to the airport," she said with a smile as she replaced a cell phone into her pocket.
"Thanks again for everything, Yori," Ron said as he and Kim each gave the young ninja a hug.
"It was my honor and pleasure, Ron-kun," she replied as her cab pulled up to the curb and honked its horn. "I hope to see you both again soon and under much happier circumstances."
"Likewise," Kim said with a smile. "Take care, Yori."
With a final bow and a smile, the young Japanese woman turned and left the house. They all watched at the door as she climbed into the back of the cab, only leaving the window when the car pulled away from the curb.
Once they'd left, Anne turned to the young couple with her sternest "Mom" look, offset with a loving smile that she couldn't hide if she tried. "Now, you two," she said, grabbing Ron's shoulders and guiding him towards the stairs, "you march right up those stairs and go to bed. You both need a good night's sleep," she ordered in a tone that brooked no argument.
"Yes ma'am, Mrs. Dr. P," Ron replied with a grin as he started for the stairs. Anne's hand squeezing his shoulder, however, made him stop and look at her again.
Kim had also stopped, but her mother waved her on, waiting until she'd disappeared from earshot before speaking. "Dammit, Ron; I told you to call me Anne," she chided, her expression softening almost instantly, "and for the record… any night you end up staying here you can stay with Kim. You're both adults now and, more importantly, James and I trust both of you to be responsible in whatever decision you make… just do us a favor and lock the door if things go past PG-thirteen."
Blushing furiously, Ron swallowed hard and nodded as he tried to make his suddenly-dry mouth work properly. "Okay," he finally managed to squeak out. "Thanks Mrs.—uh, Anne."
"You're learning," the world-famous neurosurgeon said with a warm smile as she pulled the young man into a hug and kissed him on the cheek. "Now go to bed; I'm sure Kim's waiting for you."
As Ron continued up the stairs, James stepped up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Are you really sure that's such a good idea?" he asked her once the young man was out of earshot. "They are still teenagers, after all."
"Have you ever met two teenagers that are as mature—and have proven it time and again—as those two?" the elder redhead retorted, turning to look at her husband from the corner of her eye, a mischievous twinkle in it as she continued. "Don't worry, dear; you won't be 'Grandpa Possible' anytime soon," she said with a laugh, disengaging herself from his grasp and leading him by the hand up the stairs, even as he tried to stammer a response.
Kim was just stripping down to take another shower—she felt positively grimy after the events of the day—when she heard a knock on her trap door. Grabbing her bathrobe, she quickly wrapped it around herself and tied the belt before opening it up, her face splitting into a wide smile when she saw who was on the other side. "Is this your way of telling me my favorite cuddle buddy's gonna be spending the night with me again tonight?" she asked softly as Ron climbed the last few steps, closing the hatch behind him.
"You got it, KP; I'm all yours," he replied, drawing her into his arms and kissing her tenderly.
"Don't you forget it, either, mister," she murmured with her lips still pressed to his. After another few moments of exchanging small kisses, she pulled away and looked him in the eye. "I'm gonna go grab a quick shower; do you want to take one when I'm done?"
Ron lifted his left arm and stuck his nose down towards his armpit, sniffing it and making a face. "Unless we're gonna sleep on opposite edges of the bed, it'd probably be a good idea," he replied, "I'm kinda funky."
"Okay," she giggled, disengaging herself from his arms, "don't go anywhere; I'll be right back." Giving him another quick peck on the lips, she turned and went into the bathroom, an evil smirk crossing her face. Before closing the door, she untied her bathrobe and took it off, all the while keeping her back to the bedroom. Hearing Ron's gasp, she looked over her shoulder at him, giving him a wink and wiggling her backside before kicking the door shut with her left foot. I'm gonna end up killing that poor man before I ever get a chance to make love to him if I keep that up, she thought with a chuckle as she turned the water on.
Cold shower for me tonight, Ron thought once the door had shut and he heard the water start. He'd always known Kim was a beautiful woman, but he'd never seen her reveal everything to him the way she just had, even if it was only her backside. Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself, he went to her closet and retrieved his gym shorts—the same ones he'd worn the last night he spent with Kim—and went behind the privacy screen in the corner to change, just in case Kim came back out before he finished. Once he'd completed that task, he re-emerged and pulled a dark-blue bath towel from the shelf beside the bed before sitting down at the computer for a rousing game of Solitaire while he waited for Kim to finish.
Roughly ten minutes later Kim came back out from the bathroom with her bathrobe back on and a towel wrapped around her head. "It's all yours, baby," she said, coming over to give him a kiss on the forehead as he watched the cards dance off the screen.
He closed the program and stood, looking deep into his girlfriend's eyes as he drew her into his embrace. "You're a bad girl, Kim Possible," he muttered as he pressed his lips to hers again, eliciting a soft moan from deep in her throat.
"Are you complaining?" she asked with a raised eyebrow as they pulled apart.
"Not one bit," he replied before releasing her and making his way to the bathroom. Rather than tease her as she did him, however, he closed the door before dropping his shorts to climb in the shower.
Once she could hear the shower running, the redheaded heroine went to the trap door and locked it—just in case—before grabbing the red jersey she'd confiscated from Ron. Continuing on to her dresser, she started to go for a pair of her gym shorts—same as she had worn the last time they'd spent the night together—but instead selected a pair of cotton panties and quickly changed behind the privacy screen, slipping into bed and propping her pillows against the headboard so she was sitting up, watching for the bathroom door to open again.
Less than five minutes later, Ron emerged from the bathroom with a stretch and a yawn, again wearing the gym shorts. "Man, I didn't realize just how beat I was until after that," he said as he shut the lights off. Making his way to the bed by memory, he slipped under the covers and lay back with a contented sigh. "And this beats sleeping in a hospital bed any day of the week and twice on Sundays."
"You are so weird," Kim chuckled as she curled up against his side, her hand slipping across his stomach as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, drawing her in closer.
"Yeah, but you love me for it," the towheaded teen murmured with his trademark lopsided grin.
"I do," she whispered, her fingertips absently playing over the small collection of wiry hairs around his navel as she kissed his cheek tenderly, "more than you could possibly imagine."
"I dunno about that, KP," he replied, rolling on his side to face her, her green eyes shimmering in the moonlight coming through her window. "I don't think anybody can love another person as much as I love you."
"That has to be the sweetest thing you've ever said to me," she murmured, running her hand up his side, all the way to his face, cupping his cheek and pulling his face to hers as she claimed his mouth in a long, smoldering kiss that left them both breathless when she finally pulled back.
"Wow," was all Ron could say when he finally found his voice.
"Definitely wow," Kim agreed, resting her forehead against his. Running her hand over the back of his head, her fingers brushing through his still-damp hair, she took a few deep breaths before attempting to speak again. "It's sure been a crazy few days, hasn't it?"
"You're telling me," Ron replied with a sigh, his hand running up and down his girlfriend's back, "first Shego turns good, then the whole mess with Phoenix…"
"You getting shot," she interjected, her eyes glistening with unshed tears as the horrible memory returned to the forefront of her mind. "Ron, I have never been more scared in my life than when I saw you lying on that stage in Denver with a bullet hole in your stomach… I thought I was going to lose you."
"It was scary for me, too, Kim," he said softly, pulling her into a tight embrace as tears welled in his own eyes. "Staring death in the face isn't exactly fun when there's so much you haven't done yet with your life; going to college, getting a degree, getting married and having kids… I've always wanted to be a dad."
"And you'd be a great one," she whispered, a tear escaping the corner of her eye and rolling across her nose as a sudden image of standing with him at the altar at St. Jude's crossed her mind; immediately followed by the two of them sitting on a couch in a non-descript living room, a newborn baby with strawberry-blonde hair and freckles in her arms. "Just like I'm sure you'll make a great husband someday… you're already an awesome boyfriend."
"You're a pretty badical girlfriend, too, KP; I'm sure you'll be a great wife and mom," he replied, gazing deeply into her eyes as he used a thumb to wipe the damp trail the tear left over the bridge of her nose.
"I have a good coach in the Mom department," she said with a grin.
"Yeah, I can't argue that one," he agreed with a nod and a grin of his own. "Speaking of which, she said something interesting to me before I came up."
"Well, she basically told me that any night I crash here I can stay in here with you… she also asked me—or us, really—to make sure we lock the hatch if things 'go past PG-thirteen', to quote her directly," he added with a blush.
"She actually said that?" she blinked, not bothering to mention that she had done just that.
"Yeah; she said that we're adults and her and your dad trust us to be responsible with whatever decisions we make."
"Something tells me she's the one that trusts us and she convinced Dad to go along with it," Kim mused with a chuckle. "He's still having a hard time letting go of his Kimmie-cub, but I think he's getting better… especially if Mom's been working on him."
"You're probably right," Ron nodded. Their conversation lapsed for a few minutes, both of them just basking in each other's company and the fact they had carte blanche to stay together whenever Ron stayed over. Of course they wouldn't abuse the privilege—it was still Kim's parents' house, after all and they would respect that—but that didn't mean they wouldn't take advantage of it.
As they lay quiet, Ron had rolled onto his back again, prompting Kim to cuddle into his side, laying her head on his chest, her hand again playing with the fine hairs on his stomach. Every now and then her fingertips would brush across the scar Peregrine's sniper bullet had left, causing her to frown as she traced its outline.
Finally she broke the silence again after about the fourth time touching his scar. "Baby," she murmured tentatively, "can I talk to you about something… or are you too tired to listen right now?"
"I'm never too tired to listen to you, Kim," he replied. Truth be told he was exhausted—using his MMP to heal himself had taken a lot out of him—but he was willing to stay awake to listen to what Kim had to say. "What's on your mind?"
"How long have we been together now?"
Ron did a quick calculation in his head before answering. "A little over a year," he finally responded, "if you mean how long we've been together-together. If you're talking how long we've been best friends… long enough for me to comfortably say all our lives."
"I meant how long we've been dating, but I feel the same way about the best friend part," she acknowledged with a nod and a smile, kissing him on the cheek before continuing. "Where are we in our relationship, do you think?"
"Oh, no!" he groaned melodramatically, clamping his free hand over his face. "If I'd known we were gonna have one of these relationship talks, I would've said I was too tired!"
"Very funny, Ron," she growled good-naturedly, knowing full well he was just being his silly self, "but seriously; I want to know where you think we are in our relationship."
Rolling back onto his side so he could look her in the eyes again, he brushed a hand through her hair, reveling in how luxuriously thick and silky it was before answering. "I didn't want to say anything just yet, but… I've started thinking a lot longer term than just college," he muttered tentatively, awaiting his girlfriend's reaction.
"How much longer term?" she prodded, not daring to hope for the answer she wanted to hear.
"Let's just say I've pictured sitting in a rocking chair with a gray-haired version of you," he replied softly. "I can't imagine life without you, KP."
Tears had started shimmering in her eyes again at Ron's statement, but this time her tears were of joy. "You have no idea how happy you just made me," she whispered, her voice choking as she fought to control herself. Rather than attempt to continue to speak, she instead pulled the young man into a tight embrace, burying her face in the crook of his neck and planting feather-light kisses everywhere her lips touched. "I love you so much, baby," she whispered after a few moments of this.
"I love you too, Kim," he replied, pulling back just far enough to angle his head in the right position to kiss her on the lips. It started out as a tender, loving kiss; but after a few moments a hunger and urgency neither had experienced before started taking over. Kisses became deeper, hands started wandering over bodies and breathing became more and more labored. At one point Ron pulled the hem of Kim's jersey up to her waist and ran his hands underneath it, caressing the soft skin of her back in the same manner her hands moved on his back. Not long after that, Kim pressed her weight into Ron, rolling him on his back and rolling with him so she was on top of him, breaking the kiss just long enough to sit up and peel off the jersey, leaving herself clad in just her panties. She stayed that way just long enough for Ron to admire her mostly-naked form before leaning back in and reclaiming his mouth in a kiss that much more passionate than the one she'd broken.
Ron, meanwhile, was on sensory overload. Yes, he'd seen Kim topless before on two occasions—he'd even been allowed a trip to second base on one of those—but never before had he seen this much of Kim's body at once. Combined with the fact that he was wearing little more than she was and that he'd never felt this much bare flesh in contact with his own before made it difficult for the young man to think straight. Before his brain completely shorted out, however, Kim relented and slowed the pace and intensity of their kisses down until, after one particularly long and tender one, she pulled away and looked deeply into his eyes. "Ron… I'm ready," she whispered, "but only if you are."
Not long after their so-called "half-aversary," Kim and Ron had sat down on the same bed that they were currently in—fully clothed and in the middle of the day, however—and broached a subject they hadn't expected to touch on for some time… sex. After a long discussion on what they expected and wanted from each other and their relationship, they had agreed that neither would force the other to do anything they didn't feel comfortable with or ready for. They also agreed that there should be no set deadline aside from when they were both ready, which they both knew wasn't right then.
This, however, was a totally different ballgame. He knew he loved Kim with all of his heart and soul and he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He also knew that he wanted to take the next step in their relationship, confident in the fact they would perform the act out of love and not lust. Spending time in the hospital with a near-fatal gunshot wound to the abdomen will put things in a new perspective for a person, after all.
Locking eyes with the woman he loved, Ron reached up and ran his hand through her hair again, her green orbs sparkling in anticipation as she stared into his chocolate ones. "I'm as ready as you are, Kim," he whispered. "If I die tomorrow, at least I'll know what it's like to have truly loved you."
"Oh, baby," she murmured huskily as more tears escaped her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Leaning back down on top of him, she claimed his mouth in another long, tender and sensual kiss, their tongues dancing together in a lover's waltz as their hands continued to wander.
After some time, Ron's large hands had made their way down her back and came in contact with the waistband of her underwear. At first he merely ran his hands over the thin cotton, feeling the roundness of her buttocks through the material and letting his fingers trace the edges of the waistband and the outer part of the leg openings before finally letting his index fingers hook the elastic, where he hesitated. Sensing the hesitation, Kim broke the kiss and leaned back slightly, looking in his eyes again with a sultry and loving smile on her face, gently nodding her approval of his actions and raising her hips to facilitate them.
With trembling hands, Ron gently pushed on the elastic waistband, the thin material slipping easily down Kim's legs. Once he'd pushed them as far as his arms would allow, she reached back and pulled them the rest of the way off, dropping the garment on the floor with her already-discarded jersey and straddled his waist, standing on her knees and allowing him to see her. "So?" she asked tentatively, not the least bit self-conscious about being naked in front of him. "What do you think?"
For several moments Ron said nothing, his eyes slowly traveling over her body, studying every curve and detail from her hair all the way to where her knees met the bed. Taking a ragged breath, he finally found his voice. "I have never seen a more beautiful sight in my life," he whispered huskily, his eyes still taking her in even as they locked with hers again.
Rather than respond to his statement verbally, Kim instead leaned down and kissed him tenderly on the lips, a shiver running down her spine as her bare breasts touched his equally-bare chest for the first time. Pulling away, the former cheerleader slowly started planting a trail of feather-light kisses along his chin and neck, working her way down his chest. She could feel his desire manifesting itself under her abdomen as she continued to work her way further downward, causing her own desire to grow. She stopped for a moment when she arrived at his scar, looking closely at it and brushing her fingertips lightly over it—lovingly as opposed to the clinical touch her mother had given it—before kissing it tenderly as she moved further down his body.
When she arrived at the waistband of his shorts, much the same series of events as before was played out in reverse. She ran her hands along the outsides of his thighs as she leaned back on her haunches and observed the obvious bulge in front. Running her hands back up the front of his legs, she hooked her fingers in his waistband—almost exactly as he'd done to her—and looked into his eyes. They both remained that way for a long moment, just looking at each other, until Ron finally nodded with a loving smile on his face, raising his hips slightly off the bed as she started to gently pull, her eyes involuntarily widening as all was revealed to her for the first time. Quickly recovering from her moment of surprise, she slipped his shorts the rest of the way off and dropped them on the floor with her own discarded garments before returning her gaze to her boyfriend's now-naked form.
Ron watched Kim as she seemed to study him, her eyes constantly traveling up and down his body, yet always stopping at the same spot. Gingerly she reached out and closed her right hand around him, eliciting a soft moan from the young man that made her stop. "Are you okay?" she whispered in a shaky voice, her hand immobilized on him.
"Oh yeah," he replied, his eyes riveted on her hand, "that feels good."
She nodded in agreement as she started to move her hand along his length. "I didn't expect it to be so… big," she murmured as she studied it a bit more. Other than her current situation, the only time Kim had ever seen a male reproductive organ was in high-school Sex Ed classes and even then only in illustrations. To be holding a real one in her hand—not just any one, but that of the man she loved more than life itself—was certainly an experience she would remember for the rest of her life. After another moment of touching, Kim released him and leaned forward, laying herself completely on top of Ron, kissing him tenderly as his arms moved around her waist. "I just want to feel all of you against all of me," she whispered against his lips between kisses.
For some time they remained like that, nothing between them but their own love and desire as they continued to kiss. Finally, when Kim raised her hips and reached her right hand between their bodies to guide him to her, he tensed. "Kim… I don't have any… you know… protection," he whispered, his eyes wide in panic.
"It's okay, baby," she replied just as softly, a disarming smile on her face, "I've been on birth control ever since I was fifteen... we're safe."
Ron visibly relaxed at her statement, his grasp on her hips also relaxing as she resumed positioning herself to him. When she felt his tip at her entrance, she hesitated, gazing deeply into his eyes. Neither spoke, their life-long bond allowing them to communicate with nothing more than a glance or a touch. Even in the dim moonlight, they could each see in the other's eyes that there were no doubts in either mind that they were ready, prompting Kim to lean back, easing him into her for the first time.
Both remained still and silent as she slowly coaxed herself further, feeling herself slowly being filled by her man; a long, ragged breath escaping her as she finally had all of him inside her. Sitting up with her hands on his chest, she again locked her eyes on his with the same loving smile on her face. "You okay?" she asked simply, already suspecting the answer.
"Never better; you?" he replied, interlocking the fingers of both her hands with both of his.
"Ditto," she replied, slowly moving her hips. "I love you, Ron."
"I love you, too, Kim."
Like any first time, there were moments of hesitation and awkwardness—compounded by the fact it was the first time for both of them—but soon both were into a rhythm that seemed to suit them and their needs, their gazes remaining locked together as they saw into the furthest recesses of the other's soul. Both of them had been in locker rooms and heard the usual talk about "scoring" and "getting lucky" during a date—increasing exponentially as the year went on, culminating with prom season—and knew that they were probably among the last members of their graduating class to lose their virginity. Unlike those others, however, they knew they were doing so much more than just "getting lucky;" they were sharing one of the most precious events of their young lives with each other, an event that would mark the completion of a bond they already shared in every other way—spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.
They lay cuddled together under the covers, basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking; Ron on his back and Kim on her side with her head resting on his shoulder, an arm across his chest. It hadn't lasted all that long, but both were more than satisfied with the outcome of their first time together; what they knew was the first of many. For some time they remained silent, a light caress or a soft kiss all either needed to communicate with the other until, overcome by exhaustion and contentment, they fell asleep; both with smiles on their faces.
In their bedroom one level below, Anne and James Possible also lay cuddled together in much the same fashion as their daughter and her boyfriend, having just concluded similar activities. They'd been silent for some time after they'd finished, James' hand wandering aimlessly over his bride's bare back while she fingered the wiry hairs on his chest. Finally, however, he broke the silence. "I'm still not sure I like the idea of Kimmie-cub and Ronald spending the night together so much," he muttered with a sigh.
"Dear, we've discussed this," Anne replied, not moving from her present position. "Kimmie and Ron are both responsible adults and if they feel the time has come to add the physical element to their relationship, I would much rather they do it here than in the back seat of that Sloth—which, as I remember, isn't exactly roomy—or in some dank hotel room somewhere."
"But… they're only eighteen," he argued lamely.
"Which means they're adults in the eyes of the law," the redhead said with a hint of exasperation. They'd had the same discussion ad nauseum and, quite frankly, she was getting sick of it. "Do you remember our first time?"
"Of course; it was on Lookout Point in the backseat of my car."
"What do you remember most about it?"
James was silent for a moment as he thought back. Finally, a chuckle escaped his lips as he answered. "You getting a charley horse in your left thigh halfway through," he replied.
"Is that how you would want anybody to remember the first time they made love to the person they intended to spend the rest of their life with?"
"I suppose not," he conceded, sighing again as he saw his wife's point. "She grew up too fast, Anne."
"My father said the same thing to my mother the day you asked him for my hand," she reminded him, her left thumb absently twirling her engagement ring around her finger. "Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, dear; it's a well-known conundrum. Just remember one thing: when the day comes—and we both know it will—that Ron asks you for Kim's hand, it doesn't mean you're losing a daughter… you're gaining a son."
James nodded, but said nothing more as he let her point sink in. Just before he finally drifted off to sleep, he realized that, as usual, she was right and when it came right down to it, there was no man on the planet he would rather gain as a son than Ron Stoppable.
The next morning, Anne and Kim had both risen early and encountered each other at the top of the stairway to the main level of the house; both in their bathrobes. "Good morning, Kimmie," the elder redhead said brightly, giving her daughter a kiss on the cheek.
"Morning, Mom," Kim replied equally brightly, returning the buss on the cheek. "Apparently it's a day for the boys to sleep in?"
"I guess so," the neurosurgeon chuckled as she led the way to the kitchen. As usual, the coffeemaker had just finished brewing, the dark liquid steaming in the pot when they entered. "Did you sleep well last night?" she asked as she filled two mugs from the freshly-brewed pot.
"I've never slept better in my life," Kim replied enthusiastically as she retrieved the coffee cream from the refrigerator.
"Was it everything you imagined and more?"
Kim almost dropped the carton, but managed to recover quickly. "Ron and I have spent the night in the same bed before, Mom; I knew what to expect," she replied innocently.
"Kimmie, you're wearing your bathrobe and your hair is dry; any other morning you've come downstairs you've been either wearing pajamas or that jersey of Ron's and a pair of shorts… and if you take a shower, you get dressed before you come down," her mother said with a knowing smile, bringing a bright flush to the younger redhead's cheeks. "So I'm going to ask you again: was it everything you imagined and more?"
A sheepish grin crossed Kim's face as she realized her mother wasn't angry or upset in the least; if anything, she seemed almost… happy it had happened. "So much more, Mom," she finally gushed, "I never thought I could love him more than I did, but after last night…" she trailed off, a dreamy expression on her face.
Anne nodded with another smile. "That's why I wanted you to start spending the night together more often," she said, "I wanted to make sure your first time wasn't like mine and your father's."
"Do I want to know?"
"Probably not," the elder redhead said, shaking her head. Even though the car had since been heavily modified, the fact remained the backseat of Kim's Sloth was the place where Anne O'Reilly and James Possible had made love for the first time, twenty-five years previous and Kim most likely did not want to know that. "So what do you have planned for today?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Well, I'm gonna go see Kate in a little bit and make sure she can go along with the story of using her powers to fix Ron's wounds; after that, I'm not sure," the teen replied, taking a sip of her coffee.
"How about we take another crack at going to Muddrakker's with the Stoppables?" Anne suggested. "At least this time nothing should happen in the meantime to screw that up."
"Works for me," Kim replied with a nod. Taking another sip of her coffee, she slid out of the breakfast nook and gave her mother a hug. "I'm gonna go get dressed and see if Ron's awake yet," she said, planting a kiss on Anne's cheek as she continued, "thanks again, Mom… for everything."
"You're welcome, dear," Anne replied with a fond smile as she watched her daughter head for the stairs, a bounce in her step that had never been there before. Oh, she's got it bad for that boy; she thought with a smirk, I just hope she doesn't wear him out.
Later that morning, Kim climbed out of Kate's borrowed Global Justice car in the hospital parking lot, beside her own car. She gave the magenta hatchback a quick once over and, once satisfied nobody had tried to do anything to it, carried on to visit her injured friend. When she entered her room, she was slightly surprised to find Dr. Director already there, talking amiably with the former villainess. Both turned to face the teen heroine when she tapped on the door. "Hey Kim," Kate said with a wave.
"Good morning, Kim," Director said with a nod, "I just came to give Miss Gogh here an update on what happened since you left the scene last night."
"Judging by your expression it's good news?" Kim guessed.
Director nodded before responding. "Not long after we had Dr. Drakken in custody, we convinced him it would be in his best interests to give us everything he knew; including the location of his Grand Canyon hideout," she said as Kim pulled up a second chair to sit beside the GJ administrator. "He proceeded to give us the information we needed and we were able to secure both the hideout and Professor Dementor without further incident."
"What about the guy the cops killed last night; Drakken's driver?" the redhead asked.
"He was a small-time crook recruited by Drakken to perform some of the more menial duties associated with his scheme," Director replied. "Before his association with Drakken, he was wanted in Denver and Colorado Springs on misdemeanor drug charges and stunt driving."
"What a waste," Kim sighed, looking at the floor. "So what happens now?"
"The District Attorney's office has convinced both Dr. Drakken and Professor Dementor that it would be in their best interests to plead guilty; with the amount of evidence compiled against them, they've been guaranteed the DA will go for the death penalty if it goes to trial. Should they plead guilty, however, the DA will be content with sequential life sentences with no chance of parole… I don't think I need to tell you which option they selected."
"Why does that not surprise me?" Kate muttered dryly. "If nothing else, Dr. D will always be a grade-A coward."
"At least that part's over with," Kim said, sitting back in her chair, "but what about Phoenix?"
"All Phoenix Corporation assets have been seized by Global Justice; we're still searching any personnel records to verify we've got all members accounted for," Director explained. "Unfortunately, that's going to be a much longer process that could drag on for some time yet. All properties and physical assets will be sold off in court auction with the exception of weapons, which will all be melted down."
"So Phoenix is out of the picture, too?"
"For now, yes; until we verify we've either captured or accounted for all members of the organization, however, we won't know for sure," Director said, rising from her seat. "On that note, I must return to my duties; I hope you're feeling better soon, Miss Gogh."
"I'll be out of here tomorrow, but thanks anyway," Kate replied with a grin.
Director returned the grin before nodding to each of them in turn. "Have a good day, Miss Gogh; Kim," she said before turning on her heel and leaving the other two women alone.
"So how are you feeling, anyway, Kate?" Kim asked once they were alone.
"I'm fine, but that's not the real story," the former villainess replied, looking closely at the younger woman. "You and Ron… last night…?"
Kim's face glowed red as she sputtered, trying to respond. "What are you talking about?" she finally managed to blurt out.
"I saw it in your step when you came in; you had that 'it hurt like hell, but my God it was worth it' wiggle in your hips," she said with a salacious grin. "So… the big hands… is it true what they say?"
"Kate!" Kim exclaimed, slapping the mint-skinned woman's hand away, her face still glowing red. After a moment of looking at her hands in her lap, however, she looked back up with an evil grin of her own. "It's most def true," she muttered, instantly giggling uncontrollably.
Kate couldn't help but laugh at the young woman as she fought to regain her composure. "That's what I thought," she finally managed when they calmed down. "So what brings you here instead of having a love-in with your man?"
Rolling her eyes, Kim ignored the second part of the question and went on to describe the solution they had come up with the previous evening to explain Ron's sudden improvement in health. "We needed to come up with something the doctors would be willing to buy without too many questions… it's not like we can go around telling people the real reason," she finished.
"Yeah, I can go along with that," the raven-haired vixen said with a nod. "I'm actually pretty sure that would really work, but I've never had a chance to try it—don't want to, either."
"Can't blame you there," Kim agreed with a nod. Reaching into her purse, she withdrew the keys to the Crown Vic and placed them on the table beside her bed. "Before I forget, here's the keys to your car; we brought it back last night."
"Thanks," Kate said with a nod. "Now, I'm sure there's plenty of things you would rather be doing than sitting here talking to me right now and I could use some beauty sleep; this whole comet healing business plays a girl out, y'know."
"Okay, Kate, I can take a hint," Kim said, rising. Before leaving, however, she looked the former villainess in the eye. "One question before I go?"
"Have you decided what you're going to do when you get out of the hospital? You've already got a clean slate from Global Justice and the government; any ideas what's next?"
"I've got a couple of ideas, but nothing's set in stone yet," Kate replied with a smirk. "I'll let you know when I know for sure."
"Okay," Kim replied with a nod, "give me a call when you get out; we can go for coffee or something."
Kate nodded and winked at the teen. "You got it… Sis," she said with a genuine smile, which Kim mirrored before leaving her to her own thoughts.
It had certainly been a tumultuous few days for the former mercenary. From the moment she'd approached Kim at her high school graduation and expressed her desire to go straight, things had seemed to snowball from there. In the end, though, everything had worked out. Doctor Drakken—her former employer—was behind bars, the organization he'd hired to kidnap and break Kim had collapsed in the fallout and, best of all, she'd been given a chance at a fresh start; something she'd never dared hope for in the past.
"Yup; things are definitely starting to look up," she muttered to nobody as she closed her eyes, a serene smile on her face as she dozed off.
A/N: As I've stated before, this isn't the end of the arc; it's only the end of this story. I've already got ideas for future stories rolling around in my brain and hope to start on some of them in the not-too-distant future. I will, however, be giving myself a bit of a rest for a little while before I start on another ambitious effort like this one; anything I come out with in the near future will be of the one-shot variety.
A/N: As I've stated before, this isn't the end of the arc; it's only the end of this story. I've already got ideas for future stories rolling around in my brain and hope to start on some of them in the not-too-distant future. I will, however, be giving myself a bit of a rest for a little while before I start on another ambitious effort like this one; anything I come out with in the near future will be of the one-shot variety.
Again, I would like to sincerely thank everybody that has laid eyes on this story and determined it was worthy of their time to read. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed creating and sharing it with all of you out there. It's been a helluva ride and the fact it's over is still a little surreal, but there will be more to come. Thanks again for sticking with me and stay tuned for more.