I'll be updating this short Valentine's Day story over the course of the next week or two. Enjoy!
So Not the End of the World returns on Friday, February 22.
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Mim and Jon © Disney
February 14, 1919
Mim Possible stood in a corner of the hushed Sainte-Chapelle, gazing at the beautiful multi-hued windows. They seemed alive, as the afternoon sun streamed through the stained glass, dappling the church with stunning blues, reds, and yellows. She began to relax as she took comfort from the church whose Gothic splendor seemed so distant from the course, violent world in which she lived. Sainte-Chaepelle had become her oasis, a place where she was at peace – and ever since that fateful day at the World's Fair there had been very few of those for her.
To say Mim's life had not turned out as expected was an understatement. The erstwhile reporter had now been a fugitive for more than a decade and a half, on the run ever since Miss Go had framed her for the theft of Professor Demen's electrostatic illuminator. Mim had to leave Middleton behind, never again to see her family, her friends, and most of all, dear, dear Jon, with whom, she'd realized after it was too late, she'd fallen in love.
She'd tried to bury the pain of her lost life in romances and adventure, but the romances had been empty and the many adventures unfulfilling. Finally, she chose to adjust to her new circumstances; in doing so, she found a measure of peace, and eventually purpose. When France was engulfed by war, Mim volunteered as an ambulance driver, soon became a nurse-in-training, and as the carnage mounted, found herself a full nurse. She spent the next four years in field hospitals, tending to wounded French soldiers. When the great conflict came to an end, she found a position at the Val-de-Place, Paris' military hospital, and continued to care for those who had served and still suffered from their wounds.
Mim had had another long day of tending to the maimed and injured and was grateful for the chance to rest, allowing the quiet stillness of the chapel to embrace her. She closed her eyes and allowed her thoughts to drift to a sunnier, happier place. Here in the silence of the old church she was at peace enough with her life to occasionally indulge her deepest dreams and wonder what might have been under different circumstances, what life could have been like with Jon in Middleton. Given the date, she allowed her imagination to take flight.
After a few minutes of pleasant reveries she reluctantly forced herself to leave the Colorado of her fantasies and returned to the Paris of her present. The onetime investigative journalist sighed and offered a prayer, asking that her old friend be well, wherever he was. Then she left the Upper Chapel and headed downstairs to leave.
There wasn't much for Jon Stoppable to do other than wander the streets of Paris. Using his one arm, he pulled his field coat close about himself to ward off the February chill. He was still technically on active duty, but now that the fighting was over, nobody seemed particularly concerned with what he did or where he went. Nobody knew what to make of him after he declined the opportunity to return to the States the previous December. He'd argued that in spite of his injuries there were others who needed to be shipped home first, that he was content to stay in France. His apparent act of selflessness was acknowledged by his superiors and his doctors. Then he was essentially left to fend for himself – the Army didn't have much use for a crippled first lieutenant, after all.
As Jon felt the winter cold work its way into his bones he cursed the memory of Major Barkin, something he'd done many times since the previous autumn. If anybody was responsible for the way Jon's life had been ruined, it was his old boss on the Middleton Police Department and commanding officer in the great Argonne offensive. It was Barkin who had not only fired him from the force for purportedly spending too much time trying to clear Mim Possible's name but who then went out of his way to put obstacles in Jon's path when he continued his quest to find the real culprit on his own.
Given all that had happened since that fateful day at the Tri-City Expo, that Jon would wind up in a unit led by Barkin had seemed a truly cruel twist of fate.
That Barkin would then refuse to listen to Jon during the fighting was not at all surprising, however.
As a result of Barkin's bull-headedness, the unit was mauled as it tried to take a German position during the final days of the war. Barkin was killed and Jon was seriously injured while he tried to pull his men back to safety. Mim would never know it, but it was she who'd inspired Jon that day to conquer his fears and do what needed to be done: he had been terrified by the unfolding carnage, the exploding shells, the way the whole hellish conflict had seemed to come find him that day yet the memory of his friend encouraged him to set all that aside so he might come to the aid of his comrades. They'd pinned a Distinguished Service Cross on him afterwards, but Jon felt it belonged to his oldest friend, the woman with whom he'd fallen in love.
How he regretted never revealing his feelings to Mim. They had been friends since they were children and were in their early twenties when the World's Fair came to Middleton. Jon had assumed they'd have all the time in the world. Instead, time had run out, he'd failed her, and now he was a shattered wreck without much of a future. The idea of gong back to the States had no appeal to him. Jon knew his younger brother Aaron would insist on caring for him, but Jon wanted no part of that. He didn't want to be a burden on his brother's family – and he didn't want to be an object of pity.
Though Jonathan Stoppable wasn't sure what he'd do with his life, he at least had a plan for the present. Mim had always been curious, always talking about seeing new places. He decided he would do her proud and better himself. What better way, he thought, than to explore Paris while he had the opportunity?
Which was that day why he found himself entering the Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle …