The pot is finally coming to a boil. The characters belong to Disney and are used here for fun, not profit.
Chapter 6 – Delayed
Ron left Kim alone in his attic room, closing the door as he left. His mind was in turmoil. One voice told him to stay and listen, to let Kim apologize. Another reminded him this was not the first time she hurt him, and if he let her it would not be the last. Besides he had his ticket to Japan. Sensei's message said Yori would meet him at the airport. His training at Yamanouchi would keep him busy, helping put Kim behind him. 'That's what I have to do,' he told himself. 'I have to move on.'
Tara was waiting when he reached the bottom of the stairs. "Isn't that Kim's car in the driveway," she asked.
"She heard I was leaving and came to say goodbye," Ron lied. "Let's get going. I don't wanna miss my flight." Tara looked at him for a moment but remained silent. He opened the door for Tara, picked up his suitcase and duffle bag and headed for the car. Tara pulled the door closed behind them as Ron put his luggage in the trunk.
"What did she really want?" Tara asked as Ron got in the car.
"Honestly? I have no idea. I didn't let her talk. She would only try to change my mind. When I saw here there I realized how much I need to get away from her." Ron paused to compose himself. "Like always, she does something that really hurts me, then a couple days later she's back, all sorry and puppy dog pout. I can't do it any more."
"Things will get better. Trust me," Tara replied. Ron sat silently for the rest of the short trip.
When they reached the airport she moved into the lane for short-term parking. Ron spoke up. "Just drop me in front of the terminal. You don't need to come in with me." Tara nodded.
She found a spot at the curb. Tara opened the trunk and Ron set his luggage on the pavement behind the car and closed the trunk. Tara walked back and stood beside him, touching his hand. He turned to look at her. "Have a safe trip," she told him. He nodded. She surprised him, putting her arms around him and drawing him into a kiss. Not just a peck, but something of moodulator proportions.
When Ron recovered he pulled back and looked at her. "Wow. What was that for?"
Tara smiled. "Just wanted to remind you there is a reason for you to come back. Now go or you'll miss your flight."
"Thanks for the ride," Ron replied. "Once I get settled I'll text you."
As he watched Tara pulled away, Ron felt Rufus tugging on his pant leg. In one paw was the crumpled note Kim had taped to the door. Ron took it from him and headed for a nearby trash can. Rufus began chattering at him. Looking down Ron said, "all right, all right, I'll read it."
"Important," his buddy squeaked.
Ron found his way to one of the bench-like seats near the large windows of the terminal, sat down and unfolded the crumpled paper. As he expected, Kim wrote how sorry she was about Sunday night and worried about all the missed communications. Then he saw the sentence about her joining him at Yamanouchi for the summer. 'What the heck is going on,' he asked himself, folding the note and stuffing it back in his pocket.
Rufus protested. Ron shook his head and told his buddy, "not going back. We're going to Japan. If she shows up I'll deal with it."
There was a distinct "Hrrmpf" as Rufus withdrew into his human's pocket.
Picking up his suitcase and duffle Ron looked for his airline check-in. 'Must be my lucky day, no line" he thought as he reached the check-in counter, placed his luggage on the scale, fumbled with his wallet, and then handed his ticket and ID to the Japanese woman behind the counter. "Mr. Stoppable?" she asked. Ron nodded. "Mr. Stoppable, I am so sorry but your flight is cancelled today because of mechanical trouble."
"Cancelled? Is there another flight?"
She tapped the keyboard of her computer. "I am sorry but we only fly from Middleton twice a week. I have a seat for you on our flight next Tuesday. We would be pleased to offer you first class for your inconvenience."
The agent shook her head, "No, Mr. Stoppable. There is nothing earlier from either Middleton or Denver. May I book you on the Tuesday flight? Or shall I try to find something tomorrow from another city?"
Ron hesitated, thinking of the note in his pocket. Maybe he it would be better if he tried to work things out with Kim, especially if she would be at Yamanouchi later in the summer. Maybe he could at least salvage their friendship. "Tuesday is fine," he replied. "So long as it's first class. I don't suppose I can check my luggage now"
The agent smiled, telling him, "normally we would not, but this is a special circumstance. We would be pleased to hold it for you and see that it gets on your flight."
Ron thanked her, turned and slowly walked away from the counter. As soon as he was out of sight the agent stepped away from the counter and spoke in Japanese to another a young woman seated in the corner of the check-in lobby. "You may tell Sensei it has been done as he desired."
"Domo," the other replied. "As always Yamanouchi is honored by your service."
"The flight is boarding now. You must hurry if you wish to return to Japan today."
Thinking of what she had seen earlier outside the terminal the woman replied "No, I too will be on the Tuesday flight," As she left she thought 'there is still much to do if my mission here is to succeed.'
The woman headed to the rental counter, taking a compact car for the weekend. She did a quick internet search, picking several spots where she might find her quarry. Then she left the airport and headed into town in search of a certain cheerleader. Destiny had revealed the Chosen One's path. The perky blonde was merely a distraction. She must not be allowed to interfere.
Ron needed time to think. He left the terminal and passing up the waiting line of taxis began the long walk back to Middleton. Hurt, disappointment and anger seemed to take over his mind, pushing a nearly life long friendship turned romance into a forgotten corner. Try as he might he couldn't understand Kim's behavior on Sunday night or her total absence from his life during the past week. The note offered a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. Unless of course that light was an oncoming train. Given the ups and downs of his young life so far that was a distinct possibility.
She thought about stopping when she came upon a slump shouldered figure walking slowly beside the road. She argued with herself for a moment before deciding her mission came first. He must never know she was in Middleton. Ron hardly noticed the car that slowed briefly as if to stop, and then sped away toward the city.
Tara drove around town not wanting to go home where she would sit alone with her disappointment. Finally he stopped at Coffee King. She wanted someone to talk to, but her usual foil for boyfriend problems was Bonnie. Tonight she was in no mood to endure the brunette's caustic comments and smug 'I told you so' attitude. There were times Tara wished she were more like her friend. Tonight was one of them. Bonnie would know were to get something stronger than coffee to mask what the blonde was feeling right now. No matter how she looked at it, Ron Stoppable was out of her life. She sat with an untouched mocha latte in front of her, staring out the window at the passing traffic. She didn't notice the young Asian woman enter, and merely nodded her assent when asked if the seat next to her was available. After a few minutes the woman asked, "How late is he?"
It took Tara a moment to realize the Asian woman was speaking to her. "He's not coming," she replied.
"Men are like that," her companion replied. "My name is Yori."
"Tara," the blonde replied. "It's not like that. I just put him on a plane to Japan for school. I don't know if I'll ever see him again."
"The world offers many surprises. Only today I came from Japan for one I thought could be my life partner, only to find he has another."
The two commiserated until Tara said, "What I really want to do is just get drunk and forget him."
This was the opening the ninja had waited for. "That does not sound as a bad idea Tara-san. I did bring some sake for my best beloved which he no longer deserves. Perhaps we should share it."
The coffee house was nearly deserted. The two women were seated in a corner out of view of the service counter. As they talked, another hour or so passed with Yori filling her new friend's cup frequently while barely sipping from her own. As the evening progressed she heard the stories of Camp Wannaweep several times and listened to Tara lament over Ron's total ignorance when it came to the opposite sex. Yori nodded silently. She could definitely relate. Finally the cheerleader passed out. Yori found Tara's keys in her purse, and took the sleeping blonde home. Her ninja skills allowed them to reach Tara's room unobserved. Yori found pajamas and put Tara to bed. As she left she thought to herself, 'she will not want to do anything when she finally wakes up. That should keep her out of the way tomorrow. I hope it is enough.'
Ron was beginning to think walking home was not the best idea he ever had. The temperature had fallen below the comfort range for his usual jersey and several months had passed since regular football workouts. "I can tell that first week at Yamanouchi is gonna hurt," he told Rufus.
The mole rat looked up and squeaked, "Not me." Ron looked at him and scowled. Just ahead was a small roadside park. Ron decided to rest there for a few minutes before continuing his walk home. In the dim glow of a roadside light he pulled Kim's note out of his pocket and read it again. The brief sentence about the mission in Cambodia stuck in his mind. Why would Sensei call Kim for a mission any of the senior Yamanouchi students could easily handle. What was going on in his mentor's mind? He mentally shrugged his shoulders. Sitting here thinking about it brought him no closer to the refuge of his bed.
Another hour passed before he finally reached home. Kim's car was still in the driveway. He muttered to himself in frustration, heading around behind the house to see if the light was on in his room. It was. 'No way am I ready for this right now' he told himself. There was still an old couch and some blankets in the tree house. He would sleep there tonight.
He stretched out on the couch. It was lumpy and sagged in the middle, a combination not well suited to a relaxing night's sleep. On top of that while his body was tired, his mind was wide awake. Crawling off the couch he assumed the Lotus position, focused on the street light in front of the neighbor's house and tried to clear his mind.
He felt the presence of his mentor before the image formed. Just as he had during the battle with the Lowardians Sensei seemed to materialize in the tree house, surrounded by the glow of power. Ron's greeting made it clear he was not in the mood for this. "Nice of you to drop by," he growled. "Would it be too much for me to ask just what the heck is going on?"
Always unflappable, Sensei responded, "It was necessary that I observe Possible-san in her mission mode to determine if she still possessed the focus and determination I observed in our previous encounters. I find that she does and extended an invitation to her for training this summer."
"One of my reasons for coming was to get away from her!" Ron responded, his displeasure ill concealed in the tone of his voice.
"I believe it is important that you set aside your personal differences and train together. There is little time and much for each of you to learn."
"Well I'm gonna be late. My flight was cancelled."
"That is not a problem. We will merely work harder once you arrive," Sensei responded, smiling. "But you must convince Possible-san to accompany you. To stand against evil does not require that warriors also be lovers. You must not delay."
"I'm not sure she'll listen, but I'll try."
"You do not merely try, you succeed."
"Yeah, about that, it's kinda outa my hands….. Sensei? Sensei? I hate it when he does that!" Ron muttered to himself as he emerged from his meditation.
He sat in the tree house for several minutes. He might tell you he was considering his options while in reality he was putting off a decision as long as possible. Finally he looked at Rufus. "What do you think, buddy? Should we just get this over?"
"Yup, yup," the mole rat squeaked in reply, nodding his small head.
Taking a deep breath Ron climbed down the ladder and headed for the house. It was silent when he entered and climbed quietly to his room. Silently he opened the door of his room, standing outside until he saw Kim on his bed clutching Pandaroo. She was sleeping fitfully. Using all his mad ninja skills he silently approached the bed, then got down on all fours, hopefully outside the radius of any potential response. From the floor next to the bed he reached up and gently shook Kim's shoulder calling, "KP, time to wake up."
Startled from sleep, Kim's leg swung around through the space he would have occupied were he standing beside the bed. Now fully awake she took a defensive stance and looked at him. "Ron?" she asked incredulously.
"Kim, we need to talk…."