Bonnie Rockwaller snuck outside the gym during a short break in cheerleading practice. She had promised herself that she would quit, but not today. Not after today's practice with her arch-rival, (no, she's worse than that, her nefarious nemesis) Kim Possible, yelling at her to pick up the pace and maintain rhythm with the rest of the Mad Dogs cheerleading team. She needed something to calm her nerves. Bonnie gazed distantly at the pack of cigarettes and lighter in her hand, wondering why she had started smoking in the first place. It didn't matter; all that mattered was that she smoked cigarettes. All the cool kids smoke, after all. She knew that, because it was the unwritten law of the Food Chain. And she, Bonnie Rockwaller was queen of that Food Chain.
She took a deep breath and felt a gentle warmth wash over her. She slowly blew out the smoke, and closed her eyes. Finally, she could relax a little. It was all she could do to calm down after that little spat with Miss Teen Hero. Her thoughts drift off a little, as she surveyed her surroundings. She had come here often, behind the gym so that Mr. Barkin would not catch her smoking. After all, she didn't want her parents to know, and she would be having a tough time explaining where she got the cigarettes, being seventeen and underage and all.
This is what my life should be like, she thought to herself. Away from that annoying little miss perfect and her cutesy act and her… her… Bonnie could feel her anger flaring up again. She slumped against the wall and took another long puff, wishing she was far away, somewhere else.
"… I bet you want some of that cheerleader ass." A loud taunt broke her reverie.
Bonnie looked around, she thought she had just heard Brick Flagg, school's star quarterback. She glanced around, and realized that she was still very much alone. She glanced up at the wall behind her, and realized by the small, high windows, that she was outside the boys' locker room.
"Yeah… definitely want some of that." An unfamiliar voice reached Bonnie's ears, and she perked up. Her curiosity was aroused. Who are they talking about?
"Guys…" Bonnie thought, that sounds like Ron Stoppable. "I don't think you should talk about her like that. She's not that kind of person, you know." Aww… how touching, Bonnie smirked. He must be defending his best friend, Kim Possible.
"Oooh, guys, seems like someone has a certain crush on a certain cheerleader. I guess you aren't up to date on the locker room rumors. She isn't exactly all that proper." Brick's sneering voice floated out the window, followed by guffaws of laughter.
"Whatever, I don't think she's that sort of person. She's better than some people I know, who shares every sexcapade that happens in your wrongsick head." Ron's voice retorted. There were mock gasps all around.
"Hah, you think she'd tell someone like you things like that? I know what kind of girl she is. Well, I'm gonna treat her like she actually is. I wanna grab her good and…" Bonnie heard some spanking noises plus other disgusting sounds only made by boys in their locker rooms, followed by another roar of laughter. "She needs someone to put her in her place. So that she can't boss us around all the time. Who does she think she is? Queen of the school?"
Yeah, who do you think you are, Kim Possible? Bonnie smirked to herself. Queen of the school? Well, I am the queen of the school; you're just some teen hero wannabe. Bonnie wished she could record this entire conversation, and play it back later in front of the entire cheer team to humiliate Kim. She took a final puff on her cigarette and dropped it at her feet. She felt a certain grim satisfaction of twisting her heel on the cigarette, imagining herself crushing that smile of Kim Possible underfoot.
"Hey, you might not think much of her, but I think she hasn't done anything to deserve being treated like that." Ron spoke up.
"Why are you standing up for her?" Some guy yelled angrily. "Is she playing you? Are you her boy toy or something?" Bonnie didn't recognize his voice, but smiled happily, thinking that Ron's finally going to get what he deserves for sticking up for Kim Possible.
"At least she has more brains than the lot of you…" Ron muttered something that made Bonnie's ears turn red. Who knew he had it in him? She tilted back her head and let out a quiet malicious laugh.
"What did you call me?" Another angry yell broke out. There was a roar of anger, and Bonnie heard something large slam against a locker followed by the ugly chanting of the mob going, "Fight! Fight! Fight!"
There's a painful yelp, another crash, and silence. Bonnie reveled in moments like these, when those at the bottom of the Food Chain were put in their rightful place. It made her feel all the better, all the more powerful. Middleton High School was her kingdom, and everyone was falling into her Food Chain which she had preached so much about. She smiled to herself and turned away, and started walking towards the gym entrance when a final angry voice reached out to her ears.
"You and Rockwaller deserve each other! Only lowlifes would stand up for other lowlifes!"
Bonnie gasped. She did a double-take and strained to hear more about the exchange. Did they mention her name? Weren't they talking about Kim Possible? What was going on? Did she hear what she heard? Did they call her name? It was loud and clear, and it echoed in her head.
"You and Rockwaller deserve each other!"
Bonnie broke into a run and headed towards the gym entrance only to see Brick Flagg and his posse barge their way out. They ignored her as they strode by. But she could tell, by the dirty look that Brick gave her when she saw the fury in his eyes; he was clearly pissed and angry. At her. They were definitely talking about her back in the boys' locker room. He gave her a chilling look and a slight sneer. And Bonnie believed that he would do the things he said in the locker room. Bonnie felt sick inside, and a wave of nausea hit her. All she could do was lean against the wall to stop herself from collapsing.
When did he become such an ugly person inside? Bonnie just stared at them as they went around the corner towards the parking lot.
Slowly she regained her senses and thoughtlessly stumbled her way into the gymnasium. She saw the cheerleaders crowding around the benches, and she ran up to see what was going on.
He was sitting on the sidelines, all scruffy and banged up. His left eye was slowly turning blue and his left cheek looking red and swollen. There were a couple of droplets of dried blood on his Mad Dog uniform, and Bonnie could see the ugly gash on his cheek. And she felt worse inside. He smiled weakly at Kim Possible and said, "You know. I'm a klutz. Slipped in the showers, fell face first. No big."
Kim gently touched his face, and Ron winced in pain and hissed sharply. "This looks bad, Ron. I think we should go to the nurse."
"Nah, Kim, it's fine, I'll be okay. You know the Ron-man always gets back on his feet."
"Ron! Stop trying to act all macho!" Kim snapped at him.
"Yeah, Kim's right, I think that needs some medical attention. How did you get banged up so badly?" Tara voiced her concern.
Ron kept smiling his goofy smile, and raised his right hand to sweep back his hair. "Oh you know me, always clowning around. I'm the Middleton Mad Dog, you know. You can take the Ron out of the Mad Dog, but you can't take the Mad Dog out of the Ron."
Kim sighed with exasperation. "I think this is pretty much it for cheerleading practice then." Kim turned to the crowd and ordered, "Girls, practice your own routines and see you next week. Ron, I'm taking you home."
"Sure Kim, thanks." As Ron got up, he caught a glimpse of the short-haired brunette standing at the very back of the crowd with her arms crossed and a look he has never seen before on her face. He caught her eyes and flinched.
Bonnie didn't know what she felt when their eyes met. She was awash with emotion. She knew how he got beaten up; he is covering up his weakness in the locker room by even lying to Kim. Ron Stoppable, always the school's loser, always someone's punching bag.
He got beaten up because he stood up for you. He's covering for you, a small part of her whispered.
Bonnie cringed at the thought. No she did not need some loser standing up for her. She did not need his pity. She hated the way he looked at her, the way his eyes seem to glisten and say, I know something about Bonnie Rockwaller. Well, I don't need you. I don't need a loser like you in my life. I hate you Ron Stoppable. I hate you. I don't need your pity. Why did you stand up for me? Why did you lie to cover up the beatings? Why are you doing this to me? I am the queen, and you are the lowlife! You don't deserve to look at me. I hate you Ron Stoppable.
"I hate you, Ron Stoppable!"
Everyone turned to see a furious brunette scream those words at the beaten-up blond haired teen. Her breathing grew harder as she gasped for more air. Her chest heaved, and she glared angrily at her victim. No one moved. They were all too stunned by Bonnie's sudden outburst. Even Ron's mind failed to register that Bonnie had only called him by a few choice terms before; loser, dork, pathetic freak. She had never called him by his full name.
"Bonnie?" Tara was shocked to see her friend react so savagely. She reached out a hand to touch Bonnie's arm, but Bonnie immediately recoiled in fear. Then before anyone could say anything else, she turned and ran away, slamming her way out of the gym, leaving the loud echoes of stunned silence.
"Uh…" Ron spoke after a minute of silence. "Man, I hate to be the person she's mad at." No one laughed at his crude attempt of a joke.
"Let's just get you home." Kim sighed. She had enough of Bonnie's temper and maybe tomorrow, she could speak to Mr. Barkin about her slipping performance and her violent outburst. Maybe then this would be the end and she would never have to put up with Bonnie's childish tantrums anymore. Kim smiled grimly, as she helped Ron pick up his gym bag and gently held his arm as they walked out the gym.
Bonnie sat on her bed, leaning against the headboard. She hugged her knees close to her and put her forehead to her knees. Occasionally, a little sob penetrated the silence of the room. She didn't care anymore, her life was ruined. Her brilliant Food Chain was turning on her, and she was compared to none other than the lowest of the low; Ron Stoppable.
Bonnie let out a wail of anguish. Why? She screamed in her head. And she didn't know what to do.
Quickly, her head shot up, and she wiped her puffy eyes. There's no way she would show anyone she was crying. No sign of weakness, she was the queen of the Food Chain after all. Even if… no, she wasn't anything in the Food Chain now. She was nothing.
"Bonnie? It's me. Tara."
Bonnie glared at the long-haired blond peeking from behind her room door. She didn't dare say a word because she knew she would choke, and she would cry, and she would be weak. God, she hated being weak.
"Bonnie? The front door was unlocked, and I let myself in. I knew you were here, even though you didn't answer. I thought you could use a little company. May I come in?" Tara swung the door a little wider. She was still dressed in her cheerleader's costume and carrying a gym bag. Bonnie's gym bag.
Bonnie looked to the girl that was once her closest friend during middle school. She felt, no… no feelings, she couldn't feel anything, but this was Tara. The Tara who helped her gather her courage when she was crushing on Dave Johnson back in middle school. The same Tara who brought her homework to the hospital every day when she broke her leg three years ago so that she wouldn't miss too many classes. The same Tara who could make Bonnie feel at least there was something genuine in all her great flamboyant pretense of the Food Chain. Bonnie gritted her teeth, and nodded slightly, motioning for her to come in. It was all she could do before she turned her head away to stare out the window.
"I… brought your gym bag. You ran off without…" Tara slowly approached her bed and slid Bonnie's gym bag down her arm onto the bed. "Bonnie?"
She felt… no she was too tired to feel anymore. Bonnie could only glare balefully at her bag sitting on her bed, trying to direct her anger somewhere, anywhere.
"Bonnie? I'm here if you need me. I know I haven't been much of a friend since… since we came to high school," Tara thought, since you became Queen B, "but I'm here for you now." Tara sat down beside her and put her arms around Bonnie's shoulders. Bonnie flinched a little, but then slowly let herself relax into the warm embrace of her best friend. She closed her eyes. This was a little too much to bear, she thought, but only God knows, how much I need her right now.
And the two friends sat there motionless, while the sky outside slowly lost its light blue hue and turned to a fiery orange.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Middleton.
"Ouch, KP! You could be a little more gentle!" Ron grumbled under his breath. He was sitting uncomfortably on the couch in the Possibles living room.
"Ron, quit being such a baby. You know it'll only sting a little." Kim brandished a q-tip dipped in iodine.
"KP, I know you can do anything, and you want to do something, but I'm alright. Look, it stopped bleeding." Ron tried to put on the goofiest smile he could, only that he stretched his smile a little too much and… a sharp pain shot through his face. Kim caught that wince of pain on his face.
"Ron. Stop that."
"Aww… KP, you don't want me to be a grouchy puss like you."
Kim shot him a deadly look. Moi? Grouchy puss? He didn't. Oh no, he didn't call me that.
"Err… KP? I'm sorry?" Ron looked at her meekly.
"If I were a grouchy puss," her voice dropped low and deadly, "would I do this?" And she lunged forward and tickled his sides. Ron yelped and tried to ignore the pain in his back as he jumped back and tried to squirm away to the far end of the couch. They both laughed as they fell to the floor.
"Kim Possible! You think you are all that, but you're not!" Ron jumped up on the couch and did his best Zorpox imitation. "Booyahahahaha… woah!" Ron, caught up in his role-playing, lost his balance and fell over the other side of the couch, with a resounding thud.
"Oooh… KP, sidekick in trouble here. Need a little help." Ron groaned in pain.
Kim could not help but double over in laughter. This was just too funny, this was classic Ron. Kim felt tears brimming in her eyes as she couldn't control her laughter. Somehow, among all the people she knew, it was just Ron who made her feel… just right.
"Aww… c'mon KP! Little help here!" Ron let out another moan of pain.
"Okay, okay, coming!" Kim choked back another burst of laughter and hopped over the couch to help Ron get to his feet. "I guess that'll teach you to not go all super-villain on me again. Blue was so not your color."
"But the cape was just too cool!" Ron protested.
"Simmer down, bad boy." Kim playfully punched him on the arm as she led him around and they both slumped down on the couch. They both fell silent, just enjoying each other's company in the peace and quiet of the empty Possible household.
Ron yawned and placed his feet up on the coffee table. Kim turned to him and gently poked him in the ribs.
"So, are you going to tell me what happened today?"
"What are you talking about KP?"
"How you got hurt? I could tell that it wasn't a fall, unless your face happened to fall onto… I don't know, Brick's fist." Kim looked all serious.
"Ah… oh, that…" sheepish laughter.
"Well? You know, no secrets between us."
"Yeah, I know, it's just, well, long story short, a couple of guys were messing around in the locker room. You know, raunchy locker room talk, and I sort of got in the way." Ron mused and looked blankly at the ceiling.
"What sort of locker room talk?" Kim pressed on.
"Well… the sort of talk that borders on the 'too much information' locker room talk."
"About?" Kim raised her eyebrows.
"Let's just say I'm a gentleman and I wouldn't be caught dead speaking like that to a lady." Ron smiled knowingly.
"And you got beaten up for that?"
"Sometimes Ron may be a little thick, but Ron knows when there's a wrong needed to be right, he'll do it." Ron puffed up his chest and swelled with self-importance. "Besides, I thought of calling you, but I don't know how you'd handle yourself in the boys' locker room. Don't want to catch Josh Mankey in just a towel, do you?" Ron gave Kim a devilish grin with a glint in his eye.
Kim blushed and punched him in the arm, a little harder than what could be considered gentle. She quickly changed the subject.
"Look, Ron, don't get into fights like that again, okay? I don't want to see you get hurt."
"Okay, okay. Besides, it's no big, I'm fine. They stopped, and I just got a little roughed up." Ron let out a little chuckle. "I think it's worth it."
"Okay, so what's the sitch with Bonnie? What did you do to her?"
"You got me there, KP. That, I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with. Unless it's something to do with cheese…" Ron pretended to think deeply.
"CHEESE!" Rufus, the naked mole rat, popped out of Ron's gym bag.
"Rufus! Buddy! Sorry, no cheese, false alarm." Ron grinned as the little naked mole rat ran up the coffee table and wagged his tail, expectantly for some delicious treat.
"Aww… phooey!" Rufus stuck out his tongue at Ron, but smiled anyway, and hopped onto Ron's lap and settled down there for another long nap.
"So, why's she so ticked off?" Kim reached down and stroked Rufus behind the ears, eliciting a little growl of pleasure from Rufus' throat.
"I don't know, I didn't even say a word to her the whole day."
"You think, she's losing it?" Kim wondered out loud.
"Going crazy? Nah, I think she's made of stronger stuff. After all, look at how you two like to go at each other's throats. Now that should be on the GWA Pro Wrestling Tour." Ron grinned.
Kim rolled her eyes, completely not understanding her best friend's love for fictitious and overly dramatic body slams. "Monique tells me that she's sort of losing all of her friends. Rumors are that she seriously pissed off one too many people and they're all turning on her."
"Sort of a tough time for her, huh? Yeah, well… about that… you know, the thing about the locker room? They were talking about Bonnie." Ron stared at his sneakers on the coffee table.
"Wha…?" Kim looked in shock at Ron. You stood up for Bonnie? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you done. I…
"I felt she didn't really deserve all the crap she was getting. Sure, she's stuck up and obsessed about her precious Food Chain, but there's just more to her than her Queen B thing. I mean, she tries really hard to do the right thing sometimes, but she's just caught up in trying to be cool."
Woah, backpedal a bit there. Bonnie? Deep? Ron? Did Ron just say something nice about Bonnie? Kim's thoughts were… confused would only begin to describe the mess in her head right now.
"I know she hasn't been nice to me, but I think I'm luckier than Bonnie. I mean, sure, she's got popularity and attention, but she got it tough. She's surrounded by all those fake friends who'd turn on her in a moment's notice, while I got my two best friends right here who've been with me every step of the way in my life."
"Ron… you have got to be the dimmest light bulb in the room, for defending Bonnie even though she treats you like that all the time. But then again, you're the sweetest guy in the world for trying to help, even someone like…" Kim shuddered, "Bonnie." Kim reached over and gave him a big hug.
"Aww… KP, I was simply trying to do what you would do." Ron remarked casually. Kim felt her face turn a little red. Didn't she want to get a little revenge on Bonnie earlier by getting her kicked off the cheerleading team? Kim smiled to herself, while hugging Ron. Thank you, Ron, for reminding me who I am. I guess I could let Bonnie's outburst slip by this time. She's having a tough time, and Ron seems to have forgiven her already. Oh Ron, you're more than just my sidekick, you're my voice of reason, more than you'll ever know it.
"Yes, Bonnie? I'm still here." Tara felt her best friend stir in her arms.
"Am I a bad person?"
Tara hesitated for a moment. Her heart sank as she realized that her brief hesitation already gave Bonnie all the answers she needed to know.
"I believe there is… goodness in everybody." Tara said slowly. She felt like such a cop out, avoiding answering her question directly.
"Is that why everyone hates me?" Bonnie choked back a sob, ignoring Tara's words.
"Bonnie! Stop that! Not everybody hates you. I don't hate you." Tara was a little shocked at how frail her best friend felt right now. This wasn't the Bonnie that strutted the halls of Middleton High School or squared off with Mr. Barkin in the hallways or challenged Kim for captaincy of the cheerleading team. What happened to that headstrong girl that everyone knew?
"But so many people hate me!" Bonnie let out a little wail. "Brick, Ritchie, Josh, Marcella, Devon, Kim, and Ron. Especially Ron! He must hate me so much now."
"Bonnie…" Tara began. She didn't know how to comfort a semi-hysterical Bonnie. "I'm sure Ron doesn't hate you."
"How can you be so sure? I hate myself, I would hate myself…" Bonnie felt a big lump in her throat. "If I yelled at Ron like that… after all he did."
Tara was clearly confused. She didn't know what Bonnie meant. "Look, Bonnie, Ron's going to be alright. He managed to crack a joke after you left. I know he doesn't hate you, that boy's too nice to hate anyone."
"I know!" Bonnie felt even more miserable than before. She buried her face in her hands, not daring to look at Tara's concerned face. "He's just too nice."
The awkward silence hung in the air, only to be punctuated by Bonnie's quiet sobs. Tara waited for Bonnie to open up a little more, she had been shut underneath that icy exterior for too long.
"Why?" Tara asked softly.
"Why do you care what Ron thinks about you?" Tara continued.
"Because… because of me. It's my fault." Bonnie cried a little harder.
"Shh… it's all going to be alright…" Tara didn't quite know what to make of it.
"It's not alright! He didn't fall in the locker room! Brick and his gang got to him!" Bonnie blurted out between sobs.
A stunned silence. Her mouth fell open. Tara pulled back a little, letting one of her hands drop to her side. She grabbed Bonnie's hand and squeezed, and moved her face closer and whispered, "What?"
"He… Brick was being himself in the locker room. I overheard what he said, nasty things he'd do to me. And Ron stepped up to shut him up… and they hurt him bad. And then I had to go and yell at him." Bonnie felt her mouth go dry and stale when she mouthed the words: I hate you Ron Stoppable.
"No…" Tara's voice failed her.
Bonnie slowly looked up with bloodshot eyes at Tara. "You must hate me now, don't you?" she whispered. "I know I would hate myself too."
"I… I can't say that… I approve of what you did…" Tara's voice trailed off.
"I think I know what you're going to say next, and I know you don't want to be near someone as…" Bonnie struggled to find the words, "Evil… as me."
Tara looked sadly at her broken friend. "I… don't…"
"Just leave me alone. I don't deserve any friends." Bonnie snapped at her and pulled away from Tara's embrace.
Tara was so startled by her vicious words that she jumped off Bonnie's bed onto her feet. "Bonnie, don't be like that…"
"Like what? Evil?" Bonnie sneered. "That's who I am. I'm the lonely, evil, queen bitch! Everyone calls me that behind my back. I know no one cares what happens to me."
Tara closed her eyes, trying to hold back her own tears. Please, God, lend me the courage to help her. She took a deep breath, and said loudly, "Bonnie!"
"What?" Her head snapped around to glare angrily at Tara, except this time, she saw an intensity burning into those deep-blue eyes of her best… no, former best friend. She lost the right to call Tara her best friend a long time ago. Then before she knew what happened, Bonnie felt a sharp stinging pain across her face.
"Don't make me slap you again." Tara's voice came across, firm and determined. "Get up."
"Why?" Bonnie shouted back defiantly. Before the words could be uttered out of her mouth, she felt another sharp slap across her face.
"Come!" Tara gripped her arm and pulled her off her bed.
"Where are we going?" squeaked a terrified Bonnie. She had never seen Tara so strong or angry before.
"To seek forgiveness."
In another part of town.
"Just wondering if you fell asleep there. With Rufus on my lap and your head on my shoulder, I can't seem to get this itch on my nose…" Ron wrinkled his nose.
Kim laughed a little and got up. She didn't really want to move after being so comfortably settled next to her best friend. "So, you wanna go out for dinner? My mom's on duty at the hospital tonight and my dad's chaperoning the tweebs space camp thing at the Space Center."
Kim groaned a little too audibly. Sure, nacos and burritos are fine, but she didn't feel Ron's passion for the need to eat every meal at that place.
"Err… I take that as a no then." Ron's face fell a little.
"No… I mean, we could go… but…" Kim tried to smile.
"I got it!" Ron jumped to his feet. "I'm in a creative mood today, so for tonight, just for tonight, one special night, Chez Ronald has reopened to prepare dinner for two…"
"Ah… uhuh!" Rufus was jolted up from his sleep and heard dinner, and held up three fingers.
"Oh yes, Rufus too, so that makes dinner for three!"
Kim smiled happily. She couldn't believe her luck. Ron hardly cooked anymore, between missions and homework which Mr. Barkin had specially prepared for Ron, he didn't have time. He sprung into action, despite his aching back and, lightly danced to the kitchen. Yup, Kim thought to herself. She recognized that look, of sheer cooking genius that is Ron, manifesting itself. She sighed and sat back in the couch. She knew better than to watch him work. Strict rules, says Ron, no outsiders allowed in the kitchen. Not even Rufus. It was his haven, his creative space, his mojo, and he needed as much of it as possible to create his legendary masterpieces.
There was humming coming from the kitchen, and it brought a smile to Kim's face. There's just so much passion in Ron that she never really noticed before, like how he did everything with his heart fully behind it. I wonder where I would be without Ron, Kim thought to herself. She tried to picture her life, but she could see Ron at every stage of her life, pre-K, middle school, high school, college, marriage. Marriage? Where did that thought come from? Kim blushed as she toyed with her fantasies running a little rampant.
Ron's yell jarred her out of her little fantasy. "Could you please get the front door? The master is at work!"
She blushed, realizing that she was a bit too preoccupied with her little daydream where Ron carried her in her long white bridal gown across… wait, no, there's someone at the front door. Hmph. She thought to herself. This better not be a door-to-door salesperson, or I'll…
Kim opened the door to reveal two thin figures standing under the porch light. It was Tara, and she was holding… Kim drew a sharp breath as she didn't recognize the other person at first. Her hair was in a total mess, her face red and puffy, and she looked around skittishly, trying to see if she could hide in the shadows.
"Come in, Tara…" and Kim's voice turned to steel. "And Bonnie."
Rufus knew better than to hang around the living room where the air dripped of steel daggers. He immediately scuttled off to the kitchen to look for Ron to warn him of the impending storm. Ron was a little too engrossed with cutting the carrots, so Rufus had to literally crawl up his pants to get his attention.
"Woah there lil' buddy! What have I told you about Chez Ronald's rules? No one but the cook in the kitchen… and that includes you ol' buddy."
"Uh, hrnk… Kim… guests." Rufus waved his arms, showing Ron two fingers, and gestured to the living room.
"Oh, so we are having two more for dinner? That's no problem, I'll whip up an extra serving of…" his voice trailed off as Rufus urgently pulled Ron's trousers' cuff towards the living room.
Ron walked into the living room, and he had never felt such a chill run down his spine. In the doorway stood Kim Possible, glaring angrily at the two newcomers… and he recognized Tara, but not the second shadowy figure trying to hide behind Tara. She looked shy and vulnerable, and why was Kim looking at her that way?
"Ron!" Tara gave him a huge flashing smile and strode over to Ron, and gave him a hug and a peck of the cheek. "Kiss the cook, huh?" she gestured at the apron he was wearing. The words, 'Kiss The Cook' was brightly emblazoned in front and he felt a little flush.
"Ow… ow… Tara, gently, please… still hurting… from that fall." Ron grinned.
Tara gave him a weird one lookover and her smile fell from her face. Awkweird! Ron's mind chimed. Did I say something wrong? He adverted his gaze to Kim, was that a twinge of jealousy there? She looked a little miffed at the attention Ron was receiving from Tara.
Even more awkweird! He just had to look away and focused on the third figure, shuffling nervously near the front door. His mouth gaped open, when he finally recognized that head of hair. Bonnie! Major awkweirdness here! She didn't look like her normal, confident self. More like a shadow of her former self.
Quick! Damage control! His mind leaped into action. "Tara! So glad you came along, guess what? Chez Ronald is opened tonight and we have a special menu, and we're so glad that you can join us." His mouth rambled on, yet out of the corner of his eye, did he just see Kim twitched when he invited them to dinner?
Tara broke out into a big smile. "You know, I've never been able to look at cafeteria food the same way again, since that one day you took over." She leaned in to Ron and whispered, "Could you go over and talk to Bonnie? She's not quite herself."
"What's wrong with her?" Ron whispered back.
"She thinks you hate her."
"What are you two whispering about over there?" Kim asked rather loudly and annoyed.
"Err… Kim, yeah… nothing! I mean, Tara wanted to ask you something." Ron gave the surprised Tara a gentle push in the direction of an angry, flaming red-head. She'll survive, Tara's strong and Kim would go easy on her. Ron tried to reassure himself. He tried not to picture a vicious red-headed tiger mauling a pair of pretty blue eyes. And he sighed. That meant that he was left with… Bonnie.
He cautiously walked up to Bonnie, aware of two very frightened brown eyes fixated on his face, or rather, that ugly cut on his face. His hand instinctively went up to cover it. He wasn't sure why she was so frightened of his wounds. At the same time, he felt another two pair of eyes watching his every move, intently. He felt like he was swimming through custard, as he slowly approached the shriveled girl who looks like she's been dragged through the undergrowth.
"Hi, Bonnie." He could see the fear on her face as she froze.
Did he just say my name? I'm… Panic overwhelmed Bonnie's mind. She wanted to run, her legs wouldn't obey, the front door was closed, she wanted to get out of here as far as she could…
"Could you please come with me? Into the kitchen?" Ron could feel the sharp intake of breath of Kim as she glared, first at Bonnie, then at the back of Ron's head. Ron shuffled his feet uncomfortably. Then he did something surprising. He took Bonnie's hand, even though she tried to squirm away, and gently led her towards the kitchen.
That's so not fair! Kim's mind yelled. Ron never lets me into the kitchen when he's cooking. That's his private sanctum, and now he's inviting that vile snake, Bonnie Rockwaller into… She shuddered. This was getting too bizarre for her. Why? She asked herself. Trust Ron, a small part of her said. Remember what he said, he would help Bonnie, because… because… because she needed help? No, because you would help her too. The little voice inside of her reminded her.
She took a deep breath and tried to remind herself, there's no use jellin'. No use jellin', there's no green monkey on my back. Kim closed her eyes and tried to focus. Kim turned to Tara and opened her mouth…
"So, did you need to kiss the cook?" Oh God, I am so jellin'!
"Err… ah… heh," Tara grinned sheepishly at Kim. "Maybe." She thought she'd tweak Kim's buttons a little. After all, she always knew that Ron had eyes for one girl and one girl only. And she was standing before her.
Ron pulled out a stool from under the counter and gestured to Bonnie to sit down. He pulled out a mug from the kitchen cabinet and filled it with hot water, a little skim milk, two tablespoons of Cocoa Moo powder and a teaspoon of sugar. Then he rummaged around the spices cabinet and pulled out a jar of crushed hazelnut powder. "Ah hah!" he declared triumphantly, as he added a pinch to the steaming brown drink. Finally he dropped in a couple of small bite-sized marshmallows into the drink and placed it right in front of Bonnie.
She shrank as he came close to her.
Oh. Ron thought to himself. He backed off and went back to his carrots that he had been cutting up before he was interrupted by the arrival of his unannounced guests. He looked up over the counter and saw Bonnie still holding onto herself, unwilling to get go. She eyed the knife in Ron's hands frightfully. The shiny metal blade went up and down, and up and down, and she closed her eyes, imagining that Ron really hated her and wanted to…
"You know… I love cooking?" Ron finally broke the silence between them. She opened her eyes and looked nervously at Ron.
"I love cooking because it's how I share my passion and joy with people who come and eat the meal I've prepared." Ron looked down at his carrots. Satisfied, he slid all those into a small glass bowl. He bent down and peered into the oven. He opened it with oven mitts, and slowly pulled out a whole chicken, not quite done yet, its skin not the perfect golden sheen that Ron was looking for. He grabbed a brush and bowl next to the sink and slowly brushed a thick layer of yellow viscous fluid all over the chicken.
"I was going to save some for Mrs. Dr. P when she comes back from her late shift, but I suppose I'd like you to share this with us. I'll make it up to Mrs. Dr. P another time." Ron had this quirky smile on his face as he thought of the look on Mrs. Dr. P's face when he unveils his next culinary masterpiece for her.
Bonnie just watched him quietly, unsure of what she should say or do.
"I feel happy, when someone tastes my food and feels happy." Ron grinned to no one. "I believe that we should try to make each other happy as much as possible, since…" his voice wavered a bit, "there is enough out there to make us sad already."
Bonnie felt a twinge of guilt. How many times has she called him a loser in the halls and put him down in front of all his friends? And here he was, trying to share his own brand of happiness. Bonnie felt disgusted, at herself, at Ron, at everyone. She just closed her eyes and bent her head forward, trying to forget about the nausea in her stomach.
"Look, Bonnie, I don't hate you."
She looked up in horror, she had wanted to hear those words all night long, yet she didn't believe it would come. She didn't know what to say. She had never thought she would hear those words. She wanted to look into his eyes and see for herself, did Tara ask him to say it? Did he still secretly hate her? Ron didn't look at her in the face. His back was towards her and he was busy setting a pot on the stove and adjusting the fire to his needs. He was quite engrossed in his task, yet he still talked on.
"I don't know what happened to you today." Ron continued, while continuing preparing dinner. "I mean, yes, I could see that things weren't going your way in school." Ron chose his words carefully. "You know, people, you thought were your friends, just weren't there anymore. I think you must think it's somehow my fault for what's happening to you. After all, I must have done something for you to shout what you said, earlier today at practice."
No, no, no! Not like this! You got it all wrong! Bonnie's eyes screamed as she looked at Ron desperately. It's not you who is at fault! Me! Me! Her mind kept screaming, but her throat was dry and sore.
"So I guess I should just come out and say, Bonnie, I'm sor…"
"No!" Her voice rasped as she tried her best to croak out the words she so badly wanted to say. Ron turned to her and looked wide-eyed and maybe a bit scared.
"Don't apologize to me!" She dragged her voice on, feeling the pain and dryness in her throat. "I... it should be…" She closed her eyes and took a deep breath and continued, "me… who should be sorry."
Ron stood there watching her without moving a muscle. He had thought that Bonnie wasn't going to accept his apology and wanted something more from him, but he never could have guessed that it was her who wanted his forgiveness. This was hard for Bonnie, she never did apologize. even when she was wrong, and only after much guilt-tripping, she would hint that she was sorry, but never came out to say it.
"Could you…" she continued slowly and painfully, "Find it in your heart to forgive me?" She gazed into his eyes pleadingly. It was then when Ron finally understood how tormented and vulnerable Bonnie actually was. She was actually opening up! Ron realized.
He let out a soft chuckle. "Bonnie, look in front of you, you'll find my answer there."
Her eyes fell onto the hot cup of cocoa moo which sat in front of her. Tentatively, she reached out to the cup with both hands and lifted it gingerly to her mouth. She slowly took a sip, and she felt a warm glow going down her throat to her stomach and spreading outwards, until she felt a tingling feeling in her fingers and toes. She felt… for lack of a better word, better. Better than she has ever felt in a long time.
Unknown to her, she started smiling as she stared off blankly into space. Ron saw her smiling and that brought a smile to his face too.
"So you heard everything?" Ron questioned when Bonnie finally finished her story explaining everything up to her regrettable outburst.
Bonnie just nodded her head. She clutched the cup of cocoa moo close to her chest, unwilling to let go of the warmth it gave her.
"Ah… my bad, I guess. I'm sor…"
"No!" She hissed. "You don't need to apologize. It wasn't your fault."
"Still… no lady should ever hear about that kind of talk." Ron said angrily. "In fact, gentleman should never behave like that, if there's anything my grandfather taught me, it is…"
Bonnie smiled again, as Ron launched into a tirade of the proper etiquette of a traditional gentleman. He's kinda cute from this view. She thought to herself. I wonder… she smiled as she stared intently into his eyes.
"Bonnie?" Ron started. Bonnie was still smiling. "What are you thinking about?" Ron started to feel a little uncomfortable.
"This." She stood up and leaned over the counter and gave him a big kiss, full on his lips.
Ron was too stunned to move, or react, or anything. But most importantly he was too late to notice an angry red-head stomp into the kitchen and yell at the top of her voice. "Ron!"
That broke the spell. He jerked back and Bonnie also drew back, licking her lips, a little too slyly.
"Ah, KP… I… err… I found out why Bonnie said those words earlier today… KP? Kim?" Ron felt his personal space invaded as a fiery red-head marched over to him.
"From what I see, I don't think she actually said it." Kim snarled.
"I… err… yeah, she said it… you were there, you heard it, she just didn't mean it." Ron stammered.
"I can see that!" Kim said pointedly.
"Oh… excuse me, I think dinner's done." Ron quickly scampered off to the oven, not wanting to be under the watchful glare of one teen heroine with sixteen styles of kung fu. "Ah, Bonnie, could you help me set the table please?"
"I can do that!" Kim snapped. Bonnie just froze on the spot, unsure whether to move or not. She certainly didn't want to tick off Kim any more than she already had.
"Okay, Kim. Suit yourself." Ron almost kicked himself for saying those words. She's going to be really peeved.
"Hmph!" she walked off in a huff to set the dining table for four and one naked mole rat.
Tara walked into the kitchen and spied a dreamy-looking Bonnie sitting quietly on the kitchen counter stool. She smiled as her friend looked happy with herself. She walked up to her and put an arm around Bonnie's shoulder. Bonnie looked up to her and smiled and mouthed: thanks.
Good to have you back. Tara mouthed. Bonnie and Tara smiled, as they watched Ron garnish the feast that he had prepared for them.
Tara nudged Bonnie and nodded towards Kim and mouthed: What did you do? Bonnie gave an evil smile and puckered her lips and pointed at Ron. Tara gasped and laughed quietly. She didn't want to bring the wrath of a certain red-head down on her this evening.
You're evil. Tara mouthed to Bonnie with a grin. They clasped hands and smiled, the same thoughts crossing their minds: it's good to have you back.
Bonnie felt Tara nudge her again, and turned to her.
Was it good?
Bonnie's smile grew wider, and she nodded.
"So…" Kim glared at Ron after their guests left for the night.
"Yes, KP?" He tried to stall. He knew his time was finally here.
"You and Bonnie. Got pretty chummy. In the kitchen." Kim punctuated every phrase with a period.
"Yeah, we worked out a lot of her issues." Ron strained a smile. His left cheek still felt sore and puffy, but he felt that his goofy smile no longer had any effect on Kim Possible.
"And you got quite a bit in return."
"Ah… about that kiss… it was… all her fault?"
"But you seem to have enjoyed it."
"I… err… try not to disappoint the ladies?"
Kim smiled, and Ron had no idea whether he should run and hide, or stand his ground. Either choice was a matter of life and death by sixteen styles of kung fu. He gulped.
"So, Ron. Are you going to disappoint me?" Kim licked her lips and leaned forward.
Two minutes later, two breathless teenagers broke apart, and a single gasp escaped their lips: "Booyah!"
Couple of things, I first had problems with the dirty stuff said in the locker rooms. There was the problem of keeping things relatively clean, and making it sound like they were talking about Kim Possible, not Bonnie Rockwaller. So it might seem a little odd at first, but if you read it, actually it was all just in Bonnie's head that she assumed that they were talking about Kim Possible.
On the other hand, a problem I faced was that locker room talks are just locker room talks. Usually it doesn't become malicious and stuff, and Bonnie and Ron could be taking what is being said too seriously. So I put in a bit about the part about Kim mentioning how Bonnie was losing control over her food chain, to make it something bigger than just a locker room spat.
There's a brief disconnect in the conversation though, for one moment, they were talking about Ron getting beaten up, then Bonnie coming in and yelling. That's problematic I think, I might need to smooth that part over.
I rather like the part where Tara found it in herself, the strength and courage to slap Bonnie twice, and drag her out of the house. While this might be a bit out of character, I believe it gives a whole different level of complexity to the Tara character, not just a wimpy ditzy blonde.
I had no problem with the Ron character. I think that went awesome. He is what he is, a simple-minded buffoon who loves with all his heart. I showed a side of him that cares, a thoughtful side, and a playful side. I think it comes pretty close to his actual character, even his general nervousness around girls. Though he does have a deep insight which I think might be out of character, but was necessary.
Kim Possible had two personalities here, a private one and a public one. In public, i.e. Chapter 1, she's more of a dominant, leader, barking out orders. But in subsequent parts of the story, she is more playful, and at times prone to human flaws too. I hope this makes her a more approachable character. But I guess at the last part, she is still a strong dominant woman, so that's how I'd like to end it.
As for Bonnie stealing a kiss from Ron, at first I wanted it to be a simple chaste kiss, kinda like Bonnie thanking her knight in shining armor, for standing up for her in the locker rooms. But after how I tweaked Kim's character to start feeling jealousy about Tara kissing the cook, I couldn't really resist. I felt a little bad for Kim having to put up with two hot rival cheerleaders crashing her quiet dinner with Ron and stealing kisses. But at least I think I made it right for her at the end.
Oh yes, and finally, I am a student of human relationships, so this fiction was about the relationship between Ron and Kim, Ron and Bonnie, and Tara and Bonnie. These are the three main ones I wanted to explore, so I am feeling kinda bad that I left out Rufus. He didn't seem to have a place to be, during all these human conflicts, so I just sort of wrote him out of the picture in some chapters. Makes things easier I suppose, but Rufus has always been such an integral part in Ron's life that I wonder whether it is true to character.
Finally, I question whether I made the whole scene of Ron forgiving Bonnie a little too easy. I mean, sometimes forgiveness is not that easy to come by, but I suppose that's in Ron's character. And Bonnie seems to be way too pliable in this story. Like she gets dragged around too many times, but that's because she's broken. I guess by showing her stealing a kiss from Ron, it's kinda a sign that she's back. But she's still a nice person. Well, nicer than before. And she doesn't really want to hurt people anymore. The ending chapters might seem sparse, but I suppose it's a lot more light-hearted from then on to provide an easy read. I guess that's about all my comments for now. I think this needs to be gone over two times, plus have a couple of beta-readers, before I publish it online.
Hmm… feels a little contrite. I think I may have twisted it too much to flow. As in the story doesn't flow that much, and it doesn't seem to make logical progression to me. However, I think I shall leave that to you to judge.