A Kim Possible fan fiction
By Michael Howard
(Author Note: This story takes place during the Memorial Day weekend of Kim and Ron's Junior Year in High School and is rated T for adult themes, language, and violence.)
With a start Kim Possible turned to face the woman speaking to her but the sudden movement caused a book to drop from the teenager's lap.
The co-pilot bent down to retrieve the fallen object from the cabin floor. "Sorry to disturb you. But we thought you'd like to know we'll be landing soon."
"Right. Thank you."
After a moment's consideration, the book was handed back to Kim. "Jane Austen's Emma? I bet that's a real page turner."
"Well, as assigned reading goes, it really isn't that bad. The lead character is infuriatingly clueless about who the right guy is for her, though."
"Lord, do I remember how much I hated 'assigned reading'." The woman shook her head in a pitying manner. "There isn't enough money in the world to make me go back to your age again."
Kim gave her a tight smile and glanced pointedly at the English book before meeting the other's gaze again with slightly raised eyebrows.
"Okay," said the co-pilot. "I guess I'd better get back up front."
The woman started walking toward the cockpit of the transport jet and was well out of earshot when Kim muttered, "So you're trying to tell me high school isn't all fun and games?" Shoving the book into her backpack, she called out, "Ron, time to wake up!"
"Not asleep, KP," came a voice in the row behind her.
Kim stood up and turned around. Ron Stoppable was stretched out over three seats with his head propped up against a small mountain of pillows and his feet dangling into the aisle. He was holding her Kimmunicator.
"Not exactly." His eyes flicked briefly to her face, then back at the screen again. "Doing research."
"Well, I'm the team leader for this mission and-"
"Okay, first, you are so not the… "
Her words trailed off as the aircraft began to shudder slightly, indicating a rapid reduction in speed and altitude. Knowing their landing was imminent, Kim started to reach down to poke his nearest leg but Ron was already moving into a seated position. Kim dropped into the chair next to him and they each clicked on their seat belts.
"Okay, Ron. Now I do appreciate you coordinating things with Global Justice while Wade is away at that conference and I've been busy with Regionals and...other stuff. But that doesn't put you in charge of this mission."
They rocked in their seats for a moment as the jet's landing gear made contact with the runway.
"How about second in command?"
Kim turned to give her best friend a questioning look. Matching his deadpan expression, she asked, "Are you sure Rufus will be okay with that?"
"Well, not one hundred percent sure, but he is back in Middleton and I was hoping you wouldn't tell him."
Kim kept her eyes locked with his and counted in her head.
Her best friend turned away just before he broke into a smile. Lots of weirdness going on between the two of us the last couple of weeks, thought Kim, but at least I can still beat him in a staring contest.
"What's the sitch here, Ron? Why does GJ want us in Connecticut?"
"All questions will be answered, KP. But not right now. We have places to go to, things to do. So grab some civilian clothes out of your bag and get changed." The plane had come to a stop by that point so Ron unfastened his seat belt and leaned forward to pull out a cardboard box from under his chair. "Put these on, too."
She opened the lid a few inches. "What-"
"Two words, KP. Undercover."
"That's one word," was her automatic reply as she slung a carry-on bag over one shoulder and headed for the lavatory.
Ten minutes later Kim was studying herself in the small mirror above the washbasin. Her mission gear had been replaced with a pink hoodie and a demin skirt. Nothing unusual about that but tucking her thick mane of red hair underneath a short, spiky black wig had brought about a remarkable change in the teen. And when combined with a pair of funky cat's eye glasses and a (pretend) nose stud, it was no longer Kim Possible staring back at her. She looked years older, more mature, less conventional.
Maybe things would have gone differently with Bobby Johnson if I had only...
With a low growl Kim yanked down on the door handle and stepped out.
Ron must have been in the other lavatory because she didn't see him anywhere in the cabin.
"Miss Possible?" asked the pilot, with an incredulous smile. "Impressive new look you have there. So, can we help you with your bags?"
"Thanks, we'll manage." Kim looked from him to the co-pilot. "We really appreciate the ride out here. You have both been very accommodating."
The two members of the flight crew glanced at each other, and then turned broad grins toward her. In unison they said, "No big!"
"Ha ha. You got me." Realizing her own smile was fading fast, Kim turned toward the rear of the plane. "I wonder what's keeping... Ron?"
Standing before her was a young man whose blonde hair was combed straight back from his forehead. He had on a salmon colored button down shirt and a pair of form fitting blue jeans, neither of which she recognized, but what struck her most forcefully was the neatly trimmed goatee he now wore.
Undercover is right, Kim decided. Ron could pass for somebody in his mid twenties.
"Are we ready to go, KP?"
They exited the plane through a covered walkway and emerged into a main corridor. A few minutes of walking brought them to a food court.
"Feel like getting something to eat?"
Kim's gaze shifted from one restaurant to another. "No, but a drink would be good... "
"There's no need to skimp, KP. I've got things covered."
"Is that right?"
"Well, sort of. GJ has us on an expense account for this mission."
"Spankin'. Is that how you got those clothes?"
"Uh, no. These are things relatives have given me over the years that I dug out of my closet. I can dress a little different when my pants pockets aren't doubling as a mole rat sleeping bag."
"Right." She considered telling him how nice he looked in them but had long held to the belief that best friends didn't need to compliment each other. Besides he was subject to bouts of big heady-ness and the very last thing she needed to deal with this weekend was him hitting on - or at least the innocuous Ron version of hitting on - every female who got within fifty feet of him. So instead she asked, "Did GJ provide the hair?"
"After I sent over the designs."
She glanced around their immediate vicinity and then said in a softer, more playful voice, "Ron Stoppable is the 'Master of Disguise'. Coming soon to a theatre near you."
"Guess I'll take that over 'Master of Disaster'."
"Ron, it's not fair to keep bringing that up. You know your grandmother was just having a bad day when she called you that."
"Okay, Kim. You sure you don't want anything to eat?"
"Just a soda. Please and thank you."
Fortunately, Ron wasn't gone long enough for Kim to hit full brooding mode.
"Just the way you like it, KP." Ron placed her drink down on the table. "Mostly cola, but with a splash of cherry and a double shot of lemonade."
She gave him a grateful smile and then eyed the heaping contents of the tray he had returned with. "You sure GJ can take this kind of hit, Ron?"
"Heh, heh. Kim Possible and Company do not come cheap. Not this weekend, anyway." He tapped a finger against the plastic lid of one of the containers overflowing the tray. "Got a salad here, uh, by mistake. You know I'm not gonna eat it."
"Can't, Ron. Not right now."
"Yeah, a little."
Minutes passed silently as Ron devoted his attention to his food and Kim idly surveyed the people around them. Her gaze, however, kept returning to his new face.
"Don't you dare wipe your mouth on that shirt!"
Ron narrowed his eyes and glanced around to see how many people were now staring at them. He didn't blush, of course. Occurrences like that were rarer than good days with the Tweebs. But there was a certain stiffness in his movements as he rummaged through the pile of now empty food wrappers and boxes in search of a napkin.
"Kim, if I would have known this was going to be a mother-son outing, I'd have rethought the hairstyles."
Matching his low tone, she replied, "I shouldn't have done that. I... uh... I'm sorry."
He leaned back in his chair, surprise evident on his face. Kim wasn't known for the frequency of her apologies and Ron had received precious few of those considering how much time they spent together. He made a dismissive gesture and then gave her a sudden grin. "Hey, I almost forgot my big news. We, meaning you and I, will be attending the Twelfth Grade. At the same time."
"You've got enough credits to graduate?"
He nodded and their palms met with an audible smack.
"Now that is some boo-yah-worthy news."
"You know it, KP. Usually Barkin keeps me sweating until after Memorial Day."
"So if Summer School isn't in your near future, what are your plans for the break? Besides some heavy-duty marination, I mean."
"I can't predict the future so why should I plan for it?"
Kim considered this for a moment, then remarked, "I don't even know how to begin to respond to that."
"What about you? Montana again?"
"Doubtful. My dad has been ferociously busy with some secret project. No telling when he'll finish up."
"You're pretty busy yourself these days. With the Regionals and... other stuff.
"You missed practice today."
"Yeah. There was a thing."
"No, a meeting. The last meeting of the Prom Planning Committee."
"Oh, right. When is the Prom again?"
"Three weeks from today."
I guess that just about says it all. He hasn't actually come out and told me as much, but I think it's pretty clear that Ron has just given up on the whole concept of dating. At the ripe old age of seventeen. Of course after what happened to me earlier today, maybe he's got the right idea.
"So, KP, you ready to hit it? We need to find an ATM that will take the GJ card or we'll be thumbing it to the hotel."
The cash withdrawal went smoothly and Kim had smiled to see that Ron had chosen her birth month and day for the card's pass code.
Outside the airport terminal, it was cool with occasional wind gusts that carried a threat of rain. Holiday weekend or not, they had no trouble hailing a cab and soon found themselves traveling along the I-91 Expressway out of Hartford.
It was too dark to appreciate the local scenery but Ron was able to make out the taxi driver's name from the identification paperwork posted on the Plexiglas barrier between the front and back seats.
"So, Mr. ah... Rianos, this town we're headed to, Stars Hollow, have you been there before?"
"Yes, many times. It is a popular destination with the tourists."
"A nice place, then?"
"Well, Atlantic City is more my speed, but Stars Hollow is still pleasant enough." There was a pause and then he added in an emphatic tone, "Do not leave town without getting a burger at Luke's!"
"Okay. Any other advice for us?"
"Don't order the lobster at Al's Pancake World."
"Riiiiight," Kim said, exchanging a look with Ron.
The driver adjusted the rearview mirror so he could make eye contact with her. "The man was sitting just where you are now, miss."
"The man who had the lobster. You wouldn't think anybody could throw up so much in-"
"Thanks for the warning, Mr. Rianos. We won't forget." Kim moved the partition's clear plastic door into a closed position and undid her seatbelt. She slid over to the right until her arm bumped against Ron's and buckled herself into the middle position.
"Where did we take that taxi ride with those stone tablets we were trying to keep away from Monkey Fist?"
"Thailand, right. Thailand? Are you sure? I remember the people on the street looked very Asian."
"Maybe because Thailand is in Asia."
"Okay, what about the zebra stampede?"
"No, Kim. Tanzania is where we almost got buried in those smuggling tunnels."
"That was Tijuana!" She took a calming breath. "Ron, I have my geography book with me. Feel free to borrow it as much as you like this weekend."
Her offer was met with another gesture of dismissal.
"There are still Finals to study for," she pointed out.
"Hello! I'm a guaranteed senior! What would the point be?"
Kim sank back into her seat with a quiet sigh. That, she told herself sadly, is the essence of Ron Stoppable.
They reached Stars Hollow at half past nine local time and the Dragonfly Inn a few minutes after that. Kim couldn't make out many details in the gloom, but somehow the Inn still managed to convey a feeling of relaxed, and yet elegant charm.
Ron handed a wad of bills to Kim before they stepped out of the cab and asked her to settle the fare while he retrieved their bags from the trunk.
She agreed automatically but quickly hit a stumbling block when it came to the gratuity. Certainly the driver was entitled to something extra but she had no idea how to calculate the appropriate amount. Should the percentage be higher than that given to a waitperson? Lower? And then there was the other consideration that it wasn't her own money she would be handing out.
There were probably no two teenagers in the world who had traveled as far and as frequently as Kim and Ron but that was never pay as you go. Either they were with their parents for family trips or they collected favors to get to their missions.
Kim stood there for what seemed to her to be an eternity, subjecting the three of them to the drizzly night air, and tried to decide whether she would prefer being mentally labeled stingy and ungrateful now or extravagant and irresponsible later.
Finally Ron realized her dilemma and grabbed a twenty-dollar bill from her. "Thank you, my man. We'll keep your advice in mind."
As the taxi pulled away, Kim was again reminded there were definite advantages to being unconcerned with the opinions of others.
Inside the Inn it was warm and dry with the flames in the fireplace softly crackling. Kim took off her rain-speckled glasses and looked about her. The lobby was not particularly large but it's decorations were intricate and visually pleasing, so several seconds passed before Kim realized they were being watched. With a whispered, "This way, Ron," she tugged at his sleeve to lead him over to the reception desk. The woman seated behind it was young, probably just a few years older than Kim and Ron. She had long auburn hair, a flawless complexion, and intensely blue eyes.
"Good evening. Can I help you?"
Kim returned her smile. "Good evening. We have reservations for the weekend. The name is... Uh... " The name is something I have been too distracted to ask about. Ron knows of course but he has apparently been rendered speechless by your beauty. She cleared her throat and edged a little closer to Ron. When a gentle nudge failed to stir him, she gave him a not so gentle poke with her elbow.
"Pendarvis! The reservations are in the name Pendarvis."
The woman eyed each of them skeptically, then moved an intimidatingly thick textbook to one side and started typing on a computer keyboard. There was mild surprise in her voice when she stated, "You do have reservations." She considered the monitor a moment longer and then the smile returned to her lips. "I guess this explains the confusion about names. It says here you two are on your honeymoon."
Kim felt herself tense up. Chill out already, she told herself. This has nothing to do with the weird visions you've been having. Ron doesn't know about those. Nobody does.
A sheet of paper was placed on the countertop. "If I can just get you to sign here, Mr. Pendarvis."
"Right. Uh, KP, my arm."
Only then did Kim realize she was gripping Ron's arm. Tightly. She let go hastily and watched him step forward.
"And there too, please. Thank you."
The woman checked over the form and then looked back at Ron. "Have you been here before, Mr. Pendarvis?"
"No," he said, then cleared his throat and repeated the answer in a less squeaky tone.
"But there is something... familiar about you. Do you go to Yale?"
That idea caused the two teens to exchange amused looks.
"Never been there either," said Ron. He handed the pen back to the woman and was given two sets of keys.
"You are going to be in Room 4. That's up those stairs, second door on the left. Should I call someone to help with your bags?"
"We'll manage," replied Kim.
"All right, my name is Rory. If there is anything we can do for you, don't hesitate to call."
At the top of the stairs Ron mumbled, "And I used to think Penny Stanchuk had the most beautilicious eyes... "
Kim gave him a sour look and snatched one of the keys out of his hand. "We're over here."
They entered Room 4 and flicked on the overhead light. Kim set her bags down in the corner and directed Ron to do the same. Then they sank into the two upholstered chairs along the wall closest to the bathroom. Kim considered the tasteful furnishings at length, her eyes giving a careful appraisal to everything except the single large bed in the center of the room.
It was quiet for several seconds before Ron asked, "Yale is one of those brainy schools, right? I mean they don't just let anybody in. And did you see what she was reading? That wasn't a book, it was a suitcase!"
"Okay, Ron. I think you need to stop talking about other girls while we're on our... " She paused to ensure maximum sarcasm in her tone, "honeymoon."
"Oh, yeah. About that." He rubbed the back of his neck and gave her a half smile, half grimace. "I guess I should have told you about that part of the cover story earlier. But it was important that we get a room here."
"Why? It's a nice place and all but I'm sure there are other local- Wait, is this about that woman downstairs?"
"What? No! This Inn happens to be a very popular place and we're in a holiday weekend. I fudged things a little to get us in."
"And again I ask why?"
"Sookie St. James."
"The chef of the Dragonfly Inn. Part owner, too."
"Go on," prompted Kim.
"Ms. St. James has an cousin named Amy. Amy Hall."
"Okay, so Global Justice thinks when Amy bugged out of prison-"
"Yeah, she 'bugged out of prison'. Nice choice of words there, KP."
"Hmm? Oh, right. The mutated fire ants. I almost forgot. So anyway, there must be more than just the family connection for GJ to send us out here."
"Oh yeah, there's more. And we'll get all the details tomorrow when we meet the confidential informant."
Kim found she was smiling in spite of the anxiety she had felt shortly before. "This is different, Ron. It's... it's... "
"The word is badical."
"Okay then, badical. I was desperate for a mission, any kind of mission, umm, y'know, just to keep my hand in. But this is like winning the lottery. I love the idea of having an assignment where I do more than just trade sweep kicks with Shego."
"You mean like the Lowerton gig?"
The time they went undercover at Lowerton High School was one of the most enjoyable missions of Kim's career. It wasn't a save-the-world event, just breaking up a ruthless crime ring operating inside the school. Kim had posed as a smart mouthed 'bad girl' with multiple body piercings while Ron, thanks to a secret cyber link with Wade, was an arrogant overachiever who talked down to his teachers.
"So it's gonna be a role-playing weekend," she concluded. "Well, wouldn't Cousin Larry be proud of me."
Ron stood up, walked over to his mission backpack, and fumbled through a few of the pockets.
"Here, before I forget."
He handed her a credit card and an Ohio Driver's License, each made out to a Kimberly Weasley. The license had a picture of her but with the short black hair she now wore. Amazing what they can do with digital image manipulation.
"Weasley is my mother's maiden name but where does Pendarvis come from?"
He sat down again and cocked his head to one side. "You really don't remember?"
"Well, uh... "
"Think back thirteen years."
"Thirteen years ago we were in... Preschool! And our teacher was Mrs. Pendarvis!"
Ron nodded his head slowly. "Good times, good times. And not just because I could still keep up with my homework."
"You were a good student all through elementary school, Ron. You got better grades than me until, until... "
"Until Camp Wannaweep," he finished in a matter-of-fact tone.
Kim shrugged. "Yeah. So, uh, what do have in your hand there?"
Ron looked down at the small velvet bag he was holding. "The last pieces of our costumes," he said, tipping the bag until a pair of golden rings dropped into his palm.
"Huh. They think of everything. Let's take a look."
He handed over the smaller ring and she held it up to the light to see it sparkle.
"Not as big as something 'The Ron' would buy, but I think the style is nice. So we get to keep these when the mission is over?"
A look of confusion came over him until he realized she was joking. "Yeah, I wouldn't count on that, KP. Are you gonna try it on?"
Kim studied his face for a moment. "You first."
Ron slipped a plain gold band on his right ring finger and quickly looked back up at her.
Kim's first thought on seeing a wedding ring on her own finger was how much her hands looked like her mother's. That shouldn't be a surprise, she told herself, since I got everything else. She glanced down at her chest for a moment then jerked her head up quickly when she remembered Ron was just a few feet away.
"Is the ring not the right size, KP?"
"No, no. It's good. Everything is terrific." She gestured toward the bathroom. "Do you need in there? Okay, I'm gonna get changed."
When she emerged twenty minutes later, Kim noticed Ron was wearing a pair of new looking pajamas. Of course he had known they would be sharing a room tonight. The pjs she had packed were decidedly ratty in comparison, and since the top was a little more revealing than was comfortable for her under the circumstances, she was still wearing a bra underneath it.
Really though, why do I bother? It's just Ron here and he doesn't notice things like that.
Dismissing her misgivings as another by-product of her sucky day, Kim said casually, "Hey, you shaved."
"And you're a redhead again."
She ran her fingers through her hair. "Man, I used to think skating helmets did a number on the 'do. Wigs are way worse."
Ron considered her appearance for a moment, then asked, "All done in the bathroom?"
Kim didn't time him but she was sure Ron was back in less than five minutes.
Setting his bag down in the corner once more he said, "Hey, KP. I was checking out the local cable guide earlier. There's a 'Pals' episode on at 11."
"Not really in a TV kinda mood right now."
"Right. Well, I'll get things set up."
Kim watched him pull the small table out from its position between the two big chairs. Of course he didn't realize the table lamp was still plugged in and she had to leap forward off the bed to keep it from crashing to the floor.
He smiled appreciatively as she placed it gently on the carpet. "You always got my back, KP."
"Ron! Do you know how incredibly embarrassing it would be to explain to that woman down there that the 'newlyweds' broke something."
"Uh, Kim, I'm pretty sure that married people break things, too. Remember what my dad did to our front window during that Yahtzee game."
Like father, like son, thought Kim. No need to save up for the paternity test. Aloud she said, "Let me help you here. Where is the table going?"
"By the door, I think. Then we turn the chairs to face each other like this."
When that was done, Kim went to the armoire on the other side of the room and pulled it open. As expected, there was a generous supply of extra pillows and blankets inside. She gathered up an armful and brought them over to drop on to one of the chairs.
Meeting his eyes again she asked, "So, how do we decide who gets the bed tonight?"
"How 'bout top score in Zombie Mayhem?"
"How 'bout top GPA?"
He held both palms out in mock surrender. "You get the bed, Kim. All three nights. If there is one thing the Ron Man has mastered in thirteen years of schooling, it's how to sleep in a chair."
She gave a slight nod and he suddenly clapped his hands together loud enough to make her blink. "Okay then, so who's up for some room service?"
A quarter of an hour later they were both stretched out on the bed with a tray full of food between them. Kim could admit, to herself at least, that the cheese sticks he had ordered smelled delicious, but she had sworn off fried food years before and, while she did make exceptions, she didn't think her stomach could handle something that heavy and greasy today.
Contented herself with sipping a bottled water and dipping her crackers into his marinara sauce she asked, "So where did we meet anyway?" His face showed puzzlement until she added, "The married Kim and Ron."
He swallowed loudly before venturing, "Cuddle Buddy convention?"
She gave him a glare so that amusement would not show on her face. "That's strike one... Ronald. And, uh, was it a long courtship for us?"
"Oh, yeah. It took years for you to finally wear me down."
Kim let out her breath in a derisive snort. Okay, it's not just my imagination here. Ron is teasing me! He hasn't done that in years. This is very unusual behavior for him and yet I... kind of like it.
Working hard to keep pleasure out of her expression, she warned, "The ice is getting thinner. So think carefully before giving your next answer. Where were we when you proposed to me?"
Ron tapped his chin in a thoughtful manner. "Psychiatric hospital? School for the Blind? Torture Chamb-"
Kim had pinched his lips together between her thumb and forefinger. "Now that's how I like my husbands. Seen and not heard." She pulled her hand away. "Okay, while we're waiting for your delusion medicine to be delivered, I gonna tell you what really happened. See, the INS was on your case and I felt sorry for you and I needed the money so I agreed to marry you."
"Hope I made it worth your while," he said, reaching for his milk shake.
"Three Naco royalty checks. But to tell you the truth I would have done it for two because otherwise you were going to be deported back to... back to... "
"Yes, Ms. Pendarvis?"
"Back to... Drakk-anada!"
Kim barely managed to get the sentence out before exploding into convulsions of laughter.
Ron let her go on for a long moment, then said with raised voice, "I suppose people are going to wonder why our honeymoon is only for three days."
"Not after they spend any time with you!" Kim choked out.
He licked breading crumbs from his fingertips and set their tray down on the floor. "I'll just have to explain that was all the time you could get off from your job. At Smarty-Mart."
Her head snapped around. "You wouldn't be so low. Would you?"
"Yeah, in the Smarty-Mart snack bar. Next month it will be seven happy years on the job."
"Okay, I'm starting to feel the need for a martial arts workout."
"Your bosses like you, Kim. In fact there's even talk of a promotion."
"Now what can I use for a punching bag?"
"Play your cards right and by the end of the year maybe you'll be in charge of... putting marshmallows on the hot dogs."
Suddenly Kim flung herself several feet into the air and her body was twisting in place even as she rose upwards. For the descent, she positioned herself so that her knees came down on either side of his hips and the palms of her hands forced his shoulders back on to the bed.
Staring down at him with slitted eyes she asked, "Ready to retract that last remark?"
Ron made a pretense of trying to break her hold, then sank back with a resigned sigh. "Okay, you're not in charge of putting marshmallows on the hot dogs."
"You're second in command."
She gave him a mock scowl but before she could make any type of verbal reply, a memory suddenly appeared in her mind's eye. No, many memories. How many times in the first few years of their friendship had they found themselves in this position? Kim would want Ron to tell her something, give her something, or accompany her somewhere but he was reluctant. She didn't understand the power of the Puppy Dog Pout in those days and so when cajoling alone wouldn't win him over, Kim would have to resort to threats of a physical nature. Sometimes making a smooching sound was enough. On other occasions the sight of her running a tongue over her lips would cause him to relent. But there were rare events, usually if her desires appeared to present a significant risk to his life and his limbs, when only the torture of having a girl's mouth actually make contact with his skin could break his will. How many kisses had it taken before he agreed to follow her down that open manhole in search of Cindy Wellman's missing kitten? Certainly more than a dozen and some of those were on the lips.
Kim's attention returned to the present where Ron's face was barely a foot away from her own. We haven't been this close since that night three weeks ago. "I... uh..."
Suddenly feeling very inarticulate, Kim knocked her forehead against his and rolled off the bed.
"Ow! Why did you do that?"
Kim tossed her head back theatrically so that her hair moved behind her shoulders. "Let's call it an irresistible impulse and leave it at that." She gathered up the tray and headed for the door. "Could you… "
Ron unlocked the door and opened it long enough for her to set the tray down in the hall.
"Thank you," she said when they were back behind a secured door. "Now I'm going to go brush and floss. Again. And then," she sighed, "hit the books for a while longer."
The 'while longer' turned out to be thirty-seven minutes by which time Kim was bleary-eyed and incapable of absorbing any further information on the Great Depression. She leaned over and set her history book on the floor.
"Hey, Ron. How's about we-"
Oops. It looked like he was already asleep. Curled up in one of the chairs, his head was tilted to one side and his eyes were closed. She got out of bed and walked over to him. After watching his chest rise and fall for half a minute, she reached down to retrieve the Kimmunicator from his lap. It was set for web browsing, an activity that had apparently occupied him for a good portion of the time since they had left school that afternoon. Kim looked more closely at the text on the display screen. It seemed to be some type of recipe although most of the listed ingredients were unknown to her. Undeniably the boy loved to eat, but would he really find this type of information so fascinating? She jabbed the back button and saw another recipe. Then another and another. After three more recipes, she saw a listing of search results for Bueno Nachos in Connecticut. There were six but, unfortunately for Ron, none close to Stars Hollow.
Why am I checking up on my best friend? Don't I trust him? Would I treat Monique like this?
Kim felt her cheeks begin to warm as she recalled secretly examining Ron's cell phone and PC after his return from Japan last year. She pressed down on the forward button until the screen was again showing the last web page he had been looking at. With another glance at his face, she bent down and placed it on the floor next to his chair.
Kim moved silently back to the bed and turned out the lights before climbing under the covers. The room was dark and quiet, the mattress every bit as comfortable as her own back in Middleton, but she knew with absolute certainty that sleep would not come to her until she processed, relived, what had happened back at school earlier today.
One by one the members of the Prom Planning Committee had said their good-byes, eager to begin the long weekend, until finally Kim and Bobby Johnson were alone in the conference room.
"Looks like the last item on the agenda is the play list. How's that coming along, Bobby?"
He slid a piece of paper across the table. "Done."
"Wow." She scanned the list of song titles. "Double wow. This sounds terrific. Looks like we have some similar interests when it comes to music."
"So you're approving this as the final title list?"
"Yeah, pretty much." Kim got one of those penetrating looks that he was so good at. "Well, the thing is, Bobby, the list will need one or two little tweaks."
"For starters, I promised my friend Monique I'd listen to a few new songs she's been raving about. If I don't put at least one of those in the set, I'll never hear the end of it."
"And the other problem?"
She gave him an apologetic smile. "Content. The lyrics for a couple of these songs are a little suggestive. They won't pass the Barkin test."
He shook his head slowly and muttered, "This place is so lame."
Bobby had been at Middleton High for several months now but he and Kim had no classes together and the Planning Committee was the first time that she had really done more than exchange a few pleasantries with him. His good looks and awesome fashion sense were apparent from the beginning, but observing him over the course of a half dozen Committee meetings, Kim felt she had gained a greater understanding of him. Yes, he had a generally sullen disposition and could be brusque with people at times, but she decided that was caused by the pain of being forced to move here from Upperton. Anybody would be out of sorts, she repeatedly told herself, if they had to leave their friends and the life they knew behind them.
"Bobby, I may be totally out of place here, but I think you would have an easier, a happier time at school if you could look at Middleton with a more open mind. Instead of dwelling on the ways we're different from Upperton, look around for the positives." She recognized her spiel was drifting over to sappiness and decided to cut things short. "Give us a chance. I don't think you'll regret it."
"Who do you mean by 'us'?"
"The students at Middleton High."
"Does that include the girls?"
"Umm, well, sure."
He leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. "Why don't you suggest someone for me to give a chance to."
Kim was suddenly aware of the heart beating in her chest. "You mean a girl?"
He smirked. "Call me conventional but that's who I prefer to date."
Kim hadn't given much conscious thought to dating recently. In her mind the Moodulator disaster earlier this month had doomed any hope of attracting a guy for the remainder of her Junior Year (at least). Was it possible that someone, anyone, at school could have missed hearing the humiliating stories of how she had thrown herself at Ron? Kim found that hard to believe, but if he didn't know or could overlook knowing, maybe there was some chance for her after all.
Clearing her throat softly, she said, "Y'know it's kind of ironic with me chairing this committee and all, but I actually don't have a date yet for the prom."
"Why not just go with that kid in the red shirt?"
Kim felt her shoulders start to slump a little and tried to make her smile that much brighter. "I know it's confusing to people about Ron and me. I suppose if I were on the outside looking in I'd wonder too. Ron is a friend who happens to be a boy. There's a big difference between that and a boyfriend."
"Okay. Right. So why were you two doing all that kissing a few weeks ago?"
So much for hoping he was out of the loop. Kim moved her hands to her lap so the table would hide all the nervous wringing. "There is actually an explanation for that. A very good explanation. But it's kind of convoluted." She considered the stony look he was giving her. "And so here's the condensed version. I don't want to sound braggy but I imagine that you have heard something about my after school activities."
He gave a slight nod.
"Well, in the course of those activities I frequently come in contact with advanced technology." Why am I making this sound like a college lecture? Lose the big words, Kim! "I mean we're talking some seriously whacked gizmos, everything from truth rays to muscle builder-uppers." She frowned at the awkwardness of her last sentence, then plunged forward again. "What happened three weeks ago was that I was exposed to a machine that messed with my emotions. It turned my feelings of friendship for Ron into lo- into something else. As soon as the thing broke, I went back to normal. Or at least as normal as my life ever gets," Kim concluded, with what she hoped was a cheerful tone.
When he made no response, she asked, "Was that a total babble fest or did any part of it make sense?"
"I heard what you said."
That's awfully cryptic. If I could just get a sense of what he was thinking, I'd know whether I should take a chance here or not. Of course while I debate and agonize over this, Bonnie will be plotting a move of her own. She did just break up with Brick Flagg. Again.
Kim took a very deep breath and let it out slowly. "So, do you think you can ignore the fact that I am a major weirdness magnet and go with me to the Prom?"
"I- I'm sorry?"
"No, I can't overlook all the weirdness and no, I don't want to go to the Prom with you."
Kim felt like Monkey Fist had just punched her in the face. When she was capable of coherent speech again she asked, "Is it because of Bonnie?"
"I would go out with her over you, but as it turns out I don't need either one of you. The Upperton Prom is the same night as yours and I plan on being there."
"But-but why volunteer for this committee?"
"You know how fanatical they are at this school about extracurricular activities."
In a more heated tone she asked, "And why let me make a fool of myself when you weren't even interested in me?"
He raised one shoulder. "There's a reason for that, too. When my old girlfriend hears how I blew off the 'world famous teen hero' to be with her instead, I expect her to be very grateful." To be absolutely certain his message was coming across, he put his hands together in a quick, vulgar manner. "Very, very grateful."
Kim got to her feet, her stomach lurching as if Shego had just landed there with both boots. All she felt was nausea, but he must have read something else in her face because he stood up as well and his expression had finally changed. Instead of smug self-confidence, he began to show apprehension.
Kim didn't trust herself to speak any more and had started for the door when she noticed him scuttle sideways so that the table remained between them. Does he really think that would be any kind of protection if I decided to come after him? To give him a taste of the grief he inflicted on me. Maybe do a little rearranging of that pretty face of his ...
Without knowing how it happened, Kim suddenly found herself standing on the far side of the table just a few feet from where he cringed in the corner.
"My dad is a lawyer and if you lay one finger on me... "
Apparently he decided in mid-sentence that his father's career choice might not be a sufficient deterrent. He panicked and aimed a fist at her head. She blocked it effortlessly with her left forearm. The second punch and the kick that followed were parried just as easily.
A part of her brain screamed out, That's it! Make him pay for what he did to you. He moved first so whatever happens now is just self-defense. Anyway, it would be your word against his and if it's public knowledge that you've saved the world a time or two, people tend to cut you a certain amount of slack.
But there were other voices in her mind as well. Like her father reminding her that violence was only ever justified if used in defense. Her mother certainly shared that belief but at the moment it was another of her sayings that was reverberating through Kim's consciousness.
'Sometimes the injuries that hurt the most are those we inflict upon ourselves.'
Okay, Dad, Mom. You win.
Kim backed up until she could seat herself on the tabletop and in a very low voice told him, "I think we're done here."
He eyed her suspiciously for a few seconds and sprinted for the door. Kim waited just long enough for him to clear the immediate vicinity, then she stood up and started off for the nearest ladies room at a rapid pace.
She made it without further embarrassment but only by the narrowest of margins.
"Kim?" Ron's voice was slurred, confused.
Good work, Possible. You woke him up. What kind of pathetic drama queen-
"Kim? Are you okay?" His tone had become more anxious.
In the faint light coming from the bathroom she saw him rise out of his chair, scattering blankets and pillows, and then stumble against the bed and fall forward.
She sat up and stretched an arm toward the end of the bed until her hand briefly made contact with his cheek. "Ron, it's all right."
She could feel the tension leave his body at her words. "Man, KP, speak up! I heard a sound like you were hurt or in pain and then nothing."
"You're sweet, Ron. But maybe you were dreaming. The only pain I'm feeling right now is coming from you laying on my feet and making them bend in a way I don't think they're supposed to go."
"Oh, sorry." He stood up. "Where is that light anyway?"
"Just leave it off, Ron. Please."
He was silent for a moment and even in the dark Kim could read indecision in his body language.
"It's no big, Ron. I'm just having a little trouble falling asleep."
Kim was sure he would call her on that but after another pause he asked, "You didn't bring Pandaroo along?"
"What can I do to help?"
"I don't know. But having me feel guilty about keeping you up isn't it."
"I had a nap. Don't even feel tired anymore. What's the ehst, anyway?"
"E-S-T. Connecticut time."
It was another sign of Kim's current mindset that she had not yet entered the local time zone information into her wristwatch. Usually she saw to that well before their arrival at a mission location.
"About twenty minutes to midnight. Which probably means we need to keep our voices lower."
"I suppose so."
"So why don't you come up here with me. For now, I mean."
His silhouette passed in front of the glow coming from the slightly ajar bathroom door, and then she felt him lower his body onto the bedcovers to her right. Somehow his movements seemed cautious, diffident.
"Ron?" Her voice was not much above a whisper.
"We-we need to be extra careful this weekend."
"Because... because... I'm just not at my peak these days. I'm afraid that I'll screw up and one of us will get hurt."
"I'm not," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. "Not one bit. You make a mistake about as often as I make the Honor Roll. Now, me, I'm afraid of monkeys, and the dark, bugs, garden gnomes, your cooking-"
"And mechanical horses, and, well, so many other things that I'm, heh heh, afraid to count them all. But I never, ever worry that we'll someday find ourselves in some kind of trouble that you couldn't get us out of."
She found his hand in the dark and squeezed it. "I appreciate that. Really I do. But the point remains. When we are out on a job, I am responsible for your safety. Do you remember our first mission?"
"That depends. Do you mean the real one or the one that you wrote up for that school assignment?"
"Real. The one where my hands wouldn't stop shaking and how I threw up-"
"Before it started. That was because you were with me."
"Whoa. Way to stroke the sidekick's ego, KP."
'You know what I mean, Ron!" She sighed heavily. "I put my own phobia count at two. One is an irrational fear of people's disapproval that I think I'm finally starting to overcome."
He gave her a skeptical "Hmm."
"All right, maybe there is still room for improvement in that area. But my other fear is so much bigger and it's never going to go away. If anything ever happened to you, on a mission, I mean, I just couldn't... "
When he realized she wasn't going to finish the sentence, his right hand reached across to pat hers for a moment. "Okay, Kim. Here's the deal. If something was to happen on a mission, the one person who would not be to blame would be you. It would be the fault of the bad guy du jour and... me. KP, I was obsessed with the whole vanquish the villain thing long before Mission Uno. I don't have too many memories from before we met, but the one that's most clear in my mind is that I wanted to grow up to be the Fearless Ferret. So, as it turned out, I didn't end up having very many save-the-world skills. But you do. And I'd like to think that, despite my frequent foul-ups, I do help you. Sometimes, at least."
"Ron, I know I don't thank you enough for the support you give me. Wade, either, for that matter. But I have said before that I could not save the world without you."
"You have, KP. But thanks again."
"Right back attcha."
"The worries about a mission tanking. Do you get those a lot?"
"I wouldn't say a lot."
"But it happens?"
"On rare occasions, yes."
"And yet this is the first time you've ever said anything to me in like four years of world saving. Why?"
"I told you I'm a little off my game today."
"I'm not asking why you admitted it to me now. The question is why did you wait so long?"
"Well, I thought it was important in our, uh, working relationship that you have confidence in my abilities."
"What, did you get that out of a military manual or something?"
"Actually, yes. Barkin made me do a book report on it back when we were sophomores."
"I understand why you have to pose as the infallible, never break a sweat, victory is a given sort of superhero in public. And even more importantly, with your parents. But when it's just you and me?"
"Okay, maybe I need to rethink my position there... "
"I'd say so. Nobody knows you like I do, KP. The dirt I could spill would fill a dump truck. But, even so, there is no one in this world I admire and respect more than you."
"I... wow... Ron, I don't know what to say." She flung off her covers, moved herself into a sitting position, and motioned for him to do the same. After giving him a long, bone creaking hug she let go and dropped limply back on to her pillow. "Man, when did we last talk like this?" she asked.
"We talk every day, Kim."
"I mean really talk. About life and... feelings and important things."
"I dunno. Maybe not since our sleepover days and that's going back to Fifth Grade or earlier."
"Why'd we ever stop those, anyway?"
"I think puberty had something to do with it."
"So, we good, KP? Are you good?"
"Very, very. Let's try to get some sleep."
Ron started to get up but was restrained by her sudden grip on his pajama sleeve.
"Nothing, Ron. Go to sleep."
Again he attempted to rise and again her hold prevented it.
"Time to sleep. Don't make me go get the knockout lip gloss."
Her heart beat a half dozen times before he tugged down the covers on his side of the bed and lay down next to her. Kim let go of his sleeve and pulled the covers back up over the two of them. Then she rolled on to her side facing away from him and planted both of her feet against his lower leg.
Feeling warm and contented and, yes, drowsy, Kim knew that it would be a good night after all. Ron Stoppable might put in minimal effort for school, household chores, or most other aspects of his life, but no one worked harder when it came to being a caring and supportive friend to her.
(More Author Notes: Stars Hollow, and the people who live there are the inventions of Amy Sherman-Palladino. Television writers do not come any better.
The Weasley Family appears in the novels of the equally praiseworthy and far more famous J. K. Rowling.
Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable, along with their friends, family, and foes, are the creations of Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley. Kim and Ron may be characters from a children's television program, and a somewhat derivative one at that, but they, and the complexities of their relationship, are real and fascinating to me in a way that most prime time TV characters could never hope to achieve.
The above characters and concepts are all used without permission of the respective copyright holders but admiration rather than financial gain is the motivation.)