A Kim Possible fan fiction

By Michael Howard

(Author Note: This epilogue takes place eighteen days after Memorial Day, near the end of Kim and Ron's Junior Year in High School, and is rated T for some very adult themes.)

28. Destiny

Friday Evening:

His vow to never let that moment end was sincere, heartfelt even, but biological imperatives were not to be indefinitely denied. Their lips parted and he gulped in mouthfuls of air.

"Try breathing through your nose, Ron," she murmured, their faces close enough for him to not just hear, but to feel the words on his face. "One of those life skills that children have no use for, but... Well, you might want to work on that, okay?"

Kim Possible's eyes sparkled in the reflected illumination of the lights streaming down from the gymnasium ceiling, and the filmy material of her gown took on a shimmering quality, while every strand of her hair seemed to glow with its own distinctive coppery incandescence.

She's like an angel come to down to Earth, decided Ron Stoppable. And we just kissed in front of everybody at this dance!

He searched her face for signs of displeasure - or nausea - but saw only... happiness? She was certainly smiling, and more broadly, warmly than he had seen from her in weeks. One of her hands rested lightly on his shoulder while the other was pressed more firmly against the small of his back. Almost like she doesn't want me to get away.

Well, you're here at the Prom with Kim because she invited you. Sort of. Just not actually in words. Pretty much all she's said to me in the last hour was, 'If you still know what's good for you, you'll go put your tux on again and be back here in ten, no, better make that five minutes.'

But there was a funny catch in her voice as she said it, so it seemed almost like a plea rather than a threat...

Their eyes met again and then in perfect unison each said, "I can't believe this is really happening!"

"But it is," Kim continued. "And by the way... " She lifted her eyebrows slightly. "Jinx!"

"Aw, man! Some things never change."

"And some things do. Eventually. Which is why we're here. Together."

He nodded. "And that kiss... it wasn't weird, was it, KP?"

"No!" She lowered her voice to ask, "Wa-was it for you?"

"Just the opposite of weird, I'd say. It felt... comfortable. Natural."

"And long, long overdue." A more contemplative look came to Kim as she added, "By about twelve years. Twelve years and four months almost to the day."

"I know we're in school - sort of - but you aren't really gonna make me do any math right now, are you?"

He got an indulgent look. "I'm talking about kissing. Our very first one."

"Christmas before last. Under the mistletoe."

"Wrong. But I'll give you partial credit for finding that one... memorable. Twelve and a quarter years takes us back to our Valentine's Day party in Kindergarten."

"We kissed back then?"

"Technically it was just me kissing you. What you did was scream, and stick your head under a faucet, and demand to be sent to the school nurse." Her smile faltered a bit as she gently moved her palms back and forth along the tops of his shoulders. "Bonnie laughed and laughed."

"I... don't remember that. But I'm sorry."

"Well, we were only five... " Her mouth gave a half twist. "Anyway, I repaid you for it. With interest."

"That's right, you did. It's coming back to me now. When we were little. How you would pucker up and get me to do whatever you wanted."

"The ultimate torture device: Girl cooties. It was a win-win for me. Either I'd get my own way - or I'd make you suffer for rejecting me. I could be petty like that." She looked away from him for a moment. "Back then."

"Seems to me those standoffs always ended the same way; I'd get kissed and we'd do whatever you wanted."

"How did the friendship ever last to now?"

"Maybe I didn't mind those kisses as much as I claimed. I sure didn't have a problem with the one I got that Christmas."

"Or the Moodulator one, or the kiss during that undercover mission in Connecticut?"

"No complaints there either," he assured her.

"Right," she said tonelessly. "But all those kisses had one thing in common. Every single one of them was my idea. You never, ever initiated a kiss - or even a hug that I can recall - between us. Until today that is."

"Kim, I... It isn't that... "

She glanced around them. "When did the song end?"

"What song?"

" 'Could It Be.' That's what we just danced to."

He shrugged. "I didn't notice. Too distracted."

"And why is every single person in this room staring at us?" She stepped back and snagged his hand. "Come on. Let's, um, ah, over there."

The grinning crowd parted before them and they moved toward the farthest corner of the gym. Two folding chairs were grabbed along the way and placed a few feet apart with Kim taking the one facing away from the dance floor.

"Okay. So. Where were we?"

"Talking about kissing, I believe."

"Interesting topic," she allowed. "But there are better ways to spend time than talking about kissing, don't you think?"

Kim's lips parted slightly and she tilted her head a few degrees to one side. Her eyes shown with an emerald fire and it almost seemed that she gave off waves of heat.

This one was still longer, less gentle, and their heads moved a little this time.

Eventually, their mouths separated, if only by a few inches, and Kim whispered, "The slow learner label, Ron? You just smashed it beyond repair. Unless, maybe there are other romantic surprises in your past that I still don't know about... "

"You've got the whole story there, KP."

"Actually, I don't. There's still a big unanswered question in my head."

"What's that?"

She took a deep breath. "Why did you speak up like you did back at the Bueno Nacho office building? Did I suddenly get... pretty or something?"

"Kim, you've been the best looking girl at this school since the day you got here."

Her eyes widened noticeably at the fervor in his voice. "Ahh, okay. But that still doesn't explain why you took the plunge tonight."

He stared down at their joined hands for a moment. "Couple different reasons, I guess. For one thing, earlier tonight, for a few horrible seconds, I was afraid that Er- uh, that helper of Drakken's-"

"You can say the name, Ron." Her face contorted unpleasantly for an instant and her knuckles showed white. "Its name. Erik. I... It must have been emitting some kind of artificial pheromones," she added vehemently. "I wouldn't have been fooled by any ordinary robot."

"All of us were tricked, Kim. Everybody who saw him. It. But whatever you call that thing, I thought... I thought he had killed you, okay? And that I'd never get to tell you... stuff. Stuff that's been in my mind for a long time."

"Death, or the expectation of it, does seem to clarify things in a person's mind," she agreed, a contemplative look suddenly coming over her. "But anyway, you've got your chance now."

"Uh... now? You mean like now now?"

A corner of her mouth lifted. "I was thinking that, yeah."

He hesitated but the memory of seeing her seemingly lifeless body back at BN HQ was motivation enough. "KP, if Erik wasn't evil - or artificial - he'd still be dangerous. Very dangerous, because, uh... " He closed his eyes for an instant, then fixed his gaze on her. "Because watching you crush on another guy again is going to just about kill me."

"So you're saying the feelings you have for me are, um... "

"Not so friendish any more."

"Okay, that word isn't in any dictionary I've ever consulted. But... maybe it should be, since I've been having, um, more than friendly feelings about you for a while now." She gave him a timid smile. "A long while."

"Like for twelve years?" The note of amused skepticism in his tone caused her to make a wry face.

"Okay, so it wasn't every minute of those twelve years. There were detours along the way. For both of us." Something in his expression caused her to add more emphatically, "Both of us, Ron. I had Josh and you had... Zita."

"Well, KP, I wouldn't really... "

"You crushed on her, Ron. Big time. Don't deny it. I remember back then I once asked you - practically begged you - to get me out of some lame-o family event my Dad was dragging me off to. I can't even think of what it was now, but you made it real clear that you had plans with Zita and I wasn't going to get you to cancel them." She wrinkled her nose. "I wrote three pages in my diary that night."


"Because it bothered me. A lot. But I was floating down the denial river in those days so I couldn't admit even to myself that I was royally tweaked.

"Anyway, the idea that you and I were, or at least someday might be more than just friends first occurred to me back when we were five and it was never, ever completely forgotten."

"I guess I've been holding on to that thought for a long while, too, KP."

"But I even tried to bring the subject up a couple of times."

"I sure don't remember that."

"Actually, I bet you do. Think back to Seventh Grade?"

He considered this for a moment. "The time you kissed Walter Nelson?"

"Not liking the sudden frown there, Ron. So let me ask you something. Did you ever wonder why I called you back then when our braces locked together? Not my parents, not Walter's parents, you."

"Well, I can't say I got a lot of enjoyment seeing you two...close like that. But I figured you just... panicked."

"No, that didn't happen until I saw you brought your Mom up to the playground with you." She gave him a tight smile. "If you had come up alone, and got us free, I would have sent Walter away, and then we could have had a talk."

"About what?"

"Oh, maybe seeing if your opinion about kissing had changed in all the years since Kindergarten."

"Man, KP, why not just ask me flat out?"

"Because I wasn't sure what you would say and I didn't want to be rejected. Again. Remember who we're dealing with here, Ron. The girl who prefers fighting villains to confronting her feelings."

"So I derailed the master plan."

"It was more like a last minute inspiration than a thought-out-in advance plan, but, yeah, the romance thing was definitely put on hold for a few years longer."

Ron watched their classmates dance energetically for a moment, then said, "You did a good job on the music choices, Kim."

"Thanks, but Monique is probably responsible for this one, too."

" 'I'm A Believer' huh? It fits, KP. It really fits the moment."

Kim returned his smile. "An oldie but a goodie," she agreed. "This is a Smashmouth cover, but Mom told me the song goes back to like the Fifties. I only remember because the original band was called- Well, it doesn't really matter right now."

They kissed three times in rapid succession, then she turned to consider the dancers. "There's something symbolic about this. Or is it ironic?"

"Could be both," he offered vaguely. "Or neither."

She considered him through narrowed eyes, then smiled dismissively and said, "We went to all of our dances in Middle School together, correct?"

He nodded.

"First year of High School, same deal."

"Right again."

"With the same procedure every time. We'd be on the dance floor together for all the fast ones, and then sit out the slow ones."

"Right," said Ron, the lightness in his heart beginning to dim slightly. I think I know where this is going...

"But there was one time when I thought we'd vary the routine a little."

He let his breath out. "Our Freshman Year Prom."

"You remember that one too, huh? When a fast song ended and a slow one started and you were about to run off for the snack table like always, and I asked you to keep dancing with me."

" 'Just humor me.' That's what you said."

"I didn't think it was such an unreasonable request, but apparently I was wrong." She was obviously working hard to keep the hurt and the bitterness out of her voice. "So how long would you say that slow dance lasted? For us I mean? Fifteen seconds? Twenty? Hard to be sure of that anymore two full years down the road. But I am absolutely certain of what you said - out loud - as you bolted for the door." She pointed off to her left. "That door right over there. You said 'This is wrong.' "

"And the very next school dance that came up, you went to with Josh."

"Y-yeah." She brought his hand up to her lips and kissed it several times. "This is not going to become Ron bashing night, and I've got no interest in rehashing every real or imagined slight I've received from you over the years. But there's a disconnect here between me being 'the best looking girl at this school' - your words, not mine - and you practically knocking me to the floor in your mad rush to get away."

In a scarcely audible voice he told her, "It would make sense to you, Kim. If you knew about the dream."

"The dream?"

"The one I had two nights before that dance."

"Go on."

"Y-you were in it."

"All right."

"And I was."

"Doesn't sound all that remarkable so far. But go on."

"We, uh... Something happened."

"Feels like I'm pulling teeth here, Ron."

He stared at her bared knees a moment before saying, "KP, in this dream you and I did something. Together."

Her mouth made an 'O' shape. "I see... " Her eyes darted about the gym for several seconds before returning to his. "Well, okay, but Ron you didn't have any control over that. And anyway, I can admit that I... I, uh... I've heard that girls have dreams like that, too."

"Not exactly like that, Kim. They can't. But I'm still not making my point here, I think. I need to go back farther.

"I never had a sister, KP. Or ever will, of course. And since I had nothing to compare it to, for a long time I thought my feelings for you - strong, strong feelings that seemed to go beyond even what best friends should have for each other - Well, I decided that you were like a sister to me."

"Yeah, um, and you can quote me here when I say: Ewwww!"

"Hey, I don't think that way anymore! And I haven't for a long time."

"Uh, thank you!"

"But I did back then. So when the dream and then the slow dance came up so close together, and you had your hair up kinda like you do now, and you had perfume on for the first time, and the dress you wore that night was just so shiny, and, well... I kind of... "

"Freaked out when you realized we had interacting parts?"

"Ah, now see I was going to say temporarily overwhelmed by your charms, but, yeah, that works, too."

She mulled this over for several seconds. "The explanation comes about two years too late, but it still helps a little. So, deciding not to see me as a sibling anymore, I guess that was a gradual process for you."

"Uh uh. Happened in a flash."

"Really? When was it?"

"The night I got locked in a janitor's closet while you danced with Mankey."

She blew air through her lips. "I see. But that means for about a year and a half you like liked me, and still never said anything. Not one single hint in all that time that you ever saw me as anything but a boy who happens to wear lots of pastel colors."

"I wasn't sure how you would react to that, and I didn't want to mess up the friendship. I can't not have you in my life, Kim. I just can't!"

"That's about as likely as you swearing off cheese, Ron."

He grinned. "Anyway, you didn't tell me you weren't with Josh during that time, so I thought you still were."

"I saw you almost daily during all those months. And for most of this year, up until a few weeks back anyway, you and me were spending just about every Friday evening together. So when would I have had all these hot and heavy dates with Josh? Or any boy for that matter?"

"I... don't know. Anyway, I always tried to avoid thinking about you out with other guys as much as I could."

"That concept bothered you?"

He nodded solemnly.

"You sure did a good job of not showing it. A lot better than me when a girl got close to you." Kim put the back of her hand up to her mouth, and breathed through her nose. "I... This is... " With a smile and a shake of her head she added, "It's a good thing I'm sitting down here, because it's like one bombshell after another is dropping on my head."

"But they're good bombshells, right, KP?"

"Umm, 'good bombshells'? Not sure those two words ever belong in the same sentence, Ron, but I have no complaints about how this evening is turning out. Not one."

More kisses followed, with accompanying caresses and hair stroking. He was vaguely aware that a different song was being played over the gymnasium's sound system now, one he had danced to enthusiastically in the past, but he had absolutely no desire to leave his chair at that moment. And he was starting to reach the point where that might actually become embarrassing anyway...

"Okay, Kim... I-I need to hit the pause button here for a minute."

Their faces separated by about a foot, just far enough for the rapid rise and fall of her... upper torso to be visible.

Okay, that doesn't help the situation one bit.

"You... " she breathed.


"You... "


"You had feelings for me. But you still encouraged me to get together with Josh. Why?"

Ron sighed and grimaced. "KP, I've always thought that being your best friend is a privilege. But I wouldn't have any right to call myself that if I didn't want you to be happy."

"And you believed that Josh could make me happy but not you?"

"Well, there's different kinds of happiness, Kim. Sometimes it's gone in a flash. Other times it can... last."

She gave him a quizzical look. "Why does that remind me of something? Happy now, happy tomorrow. Where did I... ?"

Suddenly her eyes got very large. "Ron! When we came back from Connecticut last month we stopped off at Bueno Nacho and you said, um, let me think of the exact words...

"Okay! You said, 'There is a perfect guy for you, KP. Someone who will make you happy today and all the days after that.' I... So, you thought I didn't really mean what I was saying - or feeling then. That I'd take it back the next day, like it was just some kind of temporary insanity. That's right, isn't it?"

"Umm, actually I thought you wouldn't take it back, even if you met somebody you liked better later on, and then you'd end up resenting the invitation - and resent me, too, for, uh... "

"For taking advantage of my... " One corner of her mouth curled up derisively. "My moment of weakness?"

Unable to meet her gaze at that moment, he could only look down to the floor.

Kim groaned. "This would almost be funny... if it wasn't so painfully cruel - to the both of us." A finger and thumb touched his chin and raised his eyes back to hers. In a lowered tone she said, "For the last month and a half now, I've been wondering - secretly wondering when no one else was around - why I wasn't good enough for you, and all this time you were thinking you weren't good enough for me."

"You? Not good enough for me-"

"You did reject me twice in the recent past, Ron. Not as little kids, not back at the start of high school. Now. When I had the Moodulator on and then again on Memorial Day. Two separate kicks to the head.

"Do you have any idea what it feels like to be rejected by the boy who knows you better than anyone else in the world?"

"I wasn't rejecting you, Kim! I was trying to do the right-"

"It leaves you in a very vulnerable emotional state. Especially when you're too prideful to talk about it. With anyone. Ron, I couldn't even tell my mother what really happened when we got back from New York. And I came as close to lying to her as I ever want to do again in my life."

Aware of a painful lump in his throat, Ron said, "Kim, I am so, so sorry. I thought I was doing what was best for both of us."

She smiled wistfully. "And where does the path of good intentions usually end up taking people to?"

He nodded his understanding.

"There's nobody in the world who knows me as well as you, Ron. Nobody. Except when you refuse to believe what you see in front of you.

"When I had the Moodulator on, I acted weird. Obviously. But did you ever think to yourself for even one minute at the time that I was being mind controlled?"

"Eh, no."

"Yeah, and neither did Monique. Or my parents! Three rather intelligent individuals, wouldn't you say? And none of them asked who put these strange thoughts in Kimmie's head. Or even why I was showing those feelings so openly. To most of the people who know us, that moment, ah, actually," she paused to give him a quick peck on the lips, "actually, this moment, was as inevitable as... " She made a sound of amusement. "Well, to paraphrase Dr. Director, as inevitable as the sun rising after a long, dark night."

He shook his head ruefully. "Yeah, but I slowed down the fatefulness. By years! Who needs Monkey Fist around? I'm my own worst enemy!"

She silenced him with another kiss. "Y'know, Ron, as tempting as it would be to just drop all the blame here on you, I can't, won't do that. The painful truth is that I'm at least as much at fault here. At least." With a faltering voice she added, "I've said such nasty things to you over the years. Things that probably made you believe that I never wanted to date. Like somehow you weren't worthy of me.

"What a laugh that is. The way you always supported me with Josh, while I kept Tara's interest in you my own dirty little secret clearly shows who is the better person here."

"Kim, come on-"

"No, Ron, let me finish! With all the snarkiness I've sent your way - prompted by my own frustrations and insecurities - the fact that you could still speak up like you did tonight back at the BN Building was just...

"I'm going to do Joss one better here and say that you are absolutely the bravest, most courageous person I know."

"KP, I just... I don't... "

"Don't know what to say? Good. 'Cause I've got one more observation to make." She paused for a breath. "You've heard me say before that things happen for a reason."


"In retrospect here - only in retrospect, mind you - I'm actually glad the dating deal didn't kick off Freshman Year. Sophomore Year, either."

"You are?"



"Because things hadn't all fallen into place yet."

"I don't know what that means, Kim."

She gave him an apologetic look. "The way I've treated you since we got back from Connecticut shows there's still a ways to go on my path of self improvement. But even so, I think I've done a lot of maturing over the last few years. I'm less shallow and more aware of my own faults. And I'm more willing to consider other people's feelings, rather than just focus on their opinions of me. I've grown as a person and I would like to believe I'm more deserving now of being your... girlfriend."

"Kim, I... That's just... " He found himself unable to speak any more as tears suddenly filled his eyes.

"Ron? Ron, c'mon... Y'know some boys would see dating me as a good thing."

"It's all like a dream come true," he managed to choke out. "I just never thought this would ever actually happen."

"Ron, stop it... I've got mascara on... "

The strained quality that had come to her voice told him she was close to crying herself but still he was unable to get a grip on his emotions.

"I'm sorry, Kim... " His shoulders began to heave and he thrust his hand into his pants pocket in search of a handkerchief.

She made a sniffing sound and through his blurry vision he saw her shake her head in an effort to maintain her own composure.

"Tw-twenty-three, Ron. Twenty-three."


"That's how many tickle spots you had last time I checked. But that was years ago, so it's probably time to do another inventory."

She brought her curled fingers up close to his face and he gently batted them away. "KP, you are not going to-"

The sentence ended abruptly with a squeal of laughter.

"We're dating now, Ron. I've got no problems laying hands on you."

She did just that and he was quickly reduced to a state of squirming, giggling helplessness.

Kim relented only when he was close to falling off of his seat. "Okay... All right. I'm better now." He panted a few times and then blew his nose loudly.

"Um, couldn't I have borrowed that for like five seconds, first?"

"I've got more handkerchiefs, KP. For some reason my Dad told me to bring a bunch tonight."

She dabbed at her eyes for a moment. "Yeah, I bet I look like a raccoon now."

"No, you don't. But even if you did, you'd still be the prettiest girl here."

"And if I was aiming a Truth Ray at you?"

"Then you'd hear me say that same thing over and over again."

Kim opened her mouth but no words emerged. Instead she smiled and crooked a finger at him.

He rained at least a dozen kisses upon her lips and face and hair and occasionally even on his own hands that cradled her head.

"Okay, you have almost caught up to the number of kisses I gave you in kindergarten," said Kim, taking advantage of a moment when her mouth wasn't otherwise engaged. Still more kisses came her way, and she murmured, "Now we'll move on to first grade."

She started giving back some of those kisses, prompting him to slow down his pace while lengthening each one's duration.

After a minute or more of that, he brought his mouth close to her ear and whispered, "You know what I'm thinking, KP?"

"I'm starting to get some idea, yeah."

"That we should get out of here."

"Uh huh."

"Find some place more secluded."

Her kisses came faster now. "Right."

"And start planning the wedding."

Instantly her slender frame went from soft and pliant to statue rigid. "Sa-say what?"

"I know, Wade's offline temporarily because of the Diablos, but we can do the research ourselves. How old do you have to be? Should we get our parent's permission? What kind of ceremony would we have? And then there's the honeymoon deal. Hey, wouldn't it be funny if we went back to... Stars... Hollow?

"Kim, you're not saying anything." He studied her face carefully and decided she was in a state of shock. "I just... screwed up here didn't I? Uh huh, there goes the shortest romance on record. Gahhh! Could I be anymore stu-"

Kim interrupted him with their most passionate kiss yet, involving not just lips but teeth and tongue as well, while her hands reached inside his jacket. And every place a part of her touched a part of him, he felt an electric thrill of pleasure.

"Okay," gasped Kim, after an unknown amount of time had passed. "Okay, ah... What was I going to say? Oh, right. First, umm, with or without parental approval, seventeen year olds shouldn't get married. Ever. Second, I'm am very, very flattered that you brought up the marriage deal. After all those years of playing hard to get - whether you meant to or not - that proposal was exactly what my slightly bruised ego needed to hear. Third, remember it's never a mistake to tell me what you're thinking, Ron. That is the most important lesson here for both of us."

She gave him an affectionate look. "Which all adds up to a very mixed message I'm sending to you. But I hope it still kind of makes sense."

"It does, Kim. It makes a lot of sense." He half smiled and rubbed the back of his neck a moment. "So we can pretend I didn't just mention that... that idea."

"No can do. Because there will be no more pretending between us. Right?"


"Okay then. You suggested the two of us go someplace more private. That sounds good to me, because I know we're putting on quite a show here."

"Well, Bueno Nacho is going to be out of commission for a while... "

"Actually there's supposed to be a place on Freilassing Road with an amazing view of Mount Middleton that I've been hearing about for years now. Let's go check it out. Together."

"Sounds badical, Kim." He looked over at the closest wall clock. "But that's on the other side of town and it's already kinda late."

"So? We've got a rocket-powered motor scooter parked outside, remember?"

"KP, your curfew kicks in less than twenty minutes from now."

They stared at each other for several seconds before she gave him a rueful smile. "The watching my back thing, looks like dating isn't going to stop that."

He smiled back. "Nope."

She gave a resigned sigh. "Plan B it is, then. We head home - with maybe, uh, a quick detour over to our old preschool building."

"Badical squared!"

"Now, for tomorrow I was thinking we'd start the day-"

"Listen up, people!" The stentorian bass of Steven Barkin cut through the giant room like a cannon shot, and an instant later the sound system had gone as silent as the crowd of dancers. "The Superintendent has finally authorized the release of the remaining students still on campus. Those requiring the use of a school phone to arrange transportation will line up here. Those who do not, will line up here and await the arrival of a parent or other legal guardian."

Although neither position was anywhere near Kim and Ron's location, the two best friends quickly found themselves surrounded by a knot of teenagers. Every one of them seemed determined to speak at the same time so individual comments were almost impossible to distinguish. Kim and Ron had to content themselves with smiling and nodding at their fellow students.

It didn't take him long to realize she was distracted and spent nearly as much time scanning different parts of the gymnasium as she did responding the people in front of her. This puzzled Ron until a familiar voice came to him from somewhere beyond the ring of well-wishers.

"Step aside! Move it over! BGF coming through!"

Kim's head swiveled about more quickly now. "Monique? Monique!"

The two young women threw themselves into each other's arms and a torrent of words seemed to pour out of them both. Ron tried to follow the conversation but found their voices much more rapid fire and higher pitched than was ordinarily the case.

"Well, they seem happy."

He turned to see Hope was a few feet away with Tara and Angela flanking her. All three cheerleaders were smiling.

"Not any happier than I am, ladies. Nobody could be."

"I'd say happiness is the order of the day here," remarked Angela.

"That's right, Kid Clueless. Don't be thinking you've cornered the market on happy."

Ron faced toward Monique, who had her arms extended and was giving him an expectant look. He had received many obligatory hugs in his life, but this one certainly seemed sincere. All he could do was grunt as she embraced him with surprising strength.

She whispered, "Ron, I can't tell you how geeked I am about this. Best move of your life, buddy boy."

He nodded, then realized when they were hugging she couldn't see his head. "I know, Mon, I know."

As they parted, he heard Hope ask, "So does this mean Kim really didn't get zapped by that love machine last month?"

"Yeah," chimed in Angela, "What's up with that, Cap? Were you just using it as cover?"

Kim had finished hugging Tara by this point. "Ah, it's complicated."

"But the shorthand answer is the whatzit was real and it opened a door that neither one of them was able to - or really wanted to - close back up again."

"Well put, BGF." Kim met Ron's gaze. By some unspoken agreement, they moved close together and joined hands.

"All right, girls. Place your bets. I predict that in an hour or less these two will find themselves in another struggle - with each other!"

"Got that right, Hope," agreed Angela. "The only question is... who's gonna be on defense!"

Kim was getting a bit pink about the cheeks now, but her smile was sincere as she hugged and bantered with the members of her squad. Tara gave Ron a hug, too, perhaps a bit more self-consciously than Monique, but the other cheerleaders settled for a teasing poke or a pat.

Afterwards, again seemingly without conscious thought, his hand found Kim's. Hope noticed this and gestured. "There you go. Like they've been hooked up their whole lives. But, Oh Em Effin' Gee, if I had a dollar for every time I heard Kim say-"

"Ooh, I know that one!" interjected Tara.

"So do I," added Angela. "And I've only been on the Squad since April."

Marcella was now within earshot as well, so four cheerleaders and Monique all joined together for a chant of "Ron and me are just friends!"

Kim raised her face to the ceiling and shook her head, but when she met Ron's eyes again, her expression clearly offered him both apology and a smoldering promise of restitution.

Then, as if a switch had been thrown, conversation and laughter came to a sudden stop. Ron turned around to see Bonnie was now standing about six feet away.

In a subdued voice the brunette ventured, "Some kind of crazy night, huh?"

No one responded so Bonnie went on in a more pointed tone, "So, Kim, where is Erik, anyway?"

"He, um... "

Ron stifled a groan as his new girlfriend's hand unknowingly tightened on his.

"If you'd watched the news like the rest of us," said Angela, "you'd know that Erik wasn't a real guy. Just some kind of robot balloon thing."

"It's true, Bonnie," continued Tara. "There was a man on the building across the street who caught the whole fight on his cell phone camera."

" 'The Battle of the Tower,' I heard one newscaster call it," offered Marcella. "Kim was amazing."

"So was Ron!" insisted Tara.

By this point Rufus had been passed hand over hand through the crowd until he could leap onto Ron's shoulder. "And, ladies, let's not forget about the contributions of this little guy. Rufus was there too, providing molar support."

Kim winced at that, while the mole rat pressed a paw against his throat and pantomimed gagging.

"I can see you're going to make your career counselor earn his pay, Stoppable." Bonnie turned to Kim again. "But let's get back to Erik. So, K, you brought an artificial date to the Prom. Interesting. Was that like a mercy gift from your parents, or did you have to use your own money?"

The forefinger of Ron's free hand traced a circle in front of her face. "Check your facts, Bon Bon. Erik was a ringer, sent here by Drakken to keep tabs on Kim. But she knew about it the whole time, and strung him along until we learned the location of their hideout."

Bonnie gave Kim a skeptical look but before she could speak again Monique stepped close.

"Anyway, B, shouldn't you be more concerned why your own date doesn't seem to want to spend any time with you?"

"Just where is Brick, anyway?" demanded Angela. "Have you even danced with him at all tonight?"

"He's gotten all the... dances he's ever going to get out of me," Bonnie snapped. "But I don't see how it's any concern of yours."

The two teens glared at each other and another of their famously heated exchanges seemed inevitable until Tara stepped between them.

In a low but resolute voice she said, "Bonnie, you owe Kim and Ron an apology for what you said earlier."

A sneer came to the brunette's face. She drew in breath for a reply, then her gaze traveled around to the people nearby and the lack of support exhibited there seemed to take her aback.

Ron looked at Kim. She raised an eyebrow in a questioning manner, but he shrugged.

"Bonnie? Ah, Bonnie?"

"Yes?" she asked Kim in a petulant voice.

"I didn't get a chance to tell you before, but I think your dress is beautiful. Really brings out your eyes."

Bonnie held onto her frown for several seconds, then mumbled, "Thanks, Kim." Running her gaze over the redhead's gown, she muttered, "Yours isn't so bad, either."

"Ah, well, maybe... before the flamethrowers got to it." Kim raised a hand up to the flesh colored bandage on her arm. "You just should have seen me a few hours ago."

"You made a good choice, okay?" Bonnie's gaze traveled over to a place on the wall where Brick's name was listed as a holder of two school athletic records, then she seemed to force herself to look directly at Ron. With an only half repressed shudder she added more softly, "Maybe even more than one."

Monique asked, "Are we still on the topic of fashion or did I just-"

"Possible! Stoppable! Front and center!"

Ron glared over in Barkin's direction. "Do you think megaphone might be his middle name?"

Kim shrugged. "I guess we better get going here. Ladies, I, uh, no," she raised up the hand that held Ron's, "we, will see you all on Monday."

Monique leaned close to Kim to whisper, "Do not even think about going to bed tonight without calling me first."

"Ah... that could be pretty late, Mon."

"You've been given your one and only warning. Ignore it at your peril." She mock glowered at Kim until the redhead relented.

Monique nodded back and smiled. "Cellie and I will be waiting." She turned to Ron and made a tisking sound. "Ears like those and you still couldn't hear all the signals this sister was sending your way."

"Well... That is... KP knows I'm all about the slow road, all right?"

"I think we've turned the corner on that little problem," Kim said dryly. "But we better get going, Ron. Good night everybody."

They had traveled about ten feet when a voice behind them shouted, "Watch out for grass stains!"

Kim stopped and Ron did the same. Her narrowed eyes fixed on his as she called out, "Hope?"

"Yes, Kim?"

"We wouldn't want another grounding incident this close to the start of summer vacation, so be sure to let your parents know you might have to stay really late after practice on Monday performing extra drills."

"Ah... Shutting up now, Captain."

Kim nodded in a satisfied manner and they started forward again.

"Things will settle down at school, KP. It's just gonna take a couple of days for the newness to wear off."

"I know."

"But I am kinda worr-ah, wondering how your family is going to take the news."

"He, no, they will be totally cool, Ron. I-I'm sure of it," she added in a tone that made him think otherwise.

"Yeeeeah." They walked on another dozen paces. "Mr. B, you bellowed?"

The Vice Principal gave each of them a characteristically dour appraisal. "You two have been busy this evening," he growled.

"Well, Mr. Barkin, I know things got a little... demonstrative here, but I promise that was a one time-"

"I'm talking about saving the world, Possible!"

"Oh. That."

"No drama, there, SB. Ah, Mr. SB. Sir. KP's up to double digits by now on the planet protection thing."

"Looks like this one's going to be different from all the others. At the request of your parents, I've arranged for a police escort to get you home safely tonight."

"Drakken and Shego have escaped? Already?"

"No. And there are even more insidious threats out there than super-villains, Possible."

"Such as?"

"The Fifth Estate."

"Okay, for like this entire month I've been looking at both sides of my Review Sheets for English. And I still don't know what you two are talking about."

"Reporters, Ron. The Press."

Barkin nodded. "Local and otherwise. Sgt. Hubble-"

"Hobble," corrected Kim.

Barkin stared down at the teen for a few seconds. "Sgt. Hobble of the M.P.D. says there are already almost a dozen camera crews around town. All searching for you two."

"Wow. I guess we probably should get home as quick as we can."

"Then let's take my scooter, KP. Rocket powered!"

"Negative, Stoppable. The city is a mess right now. Traffic lights are out, and there are downed utility lines everywhere."

"We'll do it the police way, Ron."

"But what about my bike? Before I couldn't pay somebody to steal the thing, but now... "

Barkin reached inside his red and orange checked suit coat and produced a ring of keys. "The short circular one opens the sports equipment locker. You can stow your bike in there."

"Right. Thanks. And where exactly would I find that locker?"

Barkin's expression became even more disapproving. "Stoppable, you've attended this school for almost three years... "

"I know where that locker is, Mr. Barkin. I can take him."

"No. I have something I want to talk to you about." The Vice Principal surveyed the rapidly dwindling population of the gym. "Flagg! Get over here!"

After nodding at Kim and Ron the quarterback asked, "Yeah, Coach?"

"Stoppable needs to put something in the equipment locker. Show him where it is."

Ten minutes later Ron and Brick were rolling the former's motor scooter along a back hallway on the far side of the gym.

"So... you and Possible."

"Yeah, me and Kim."

"You landed the whale, Stoppable."

"Uh, right."

"I've seen Kim mow jocks down by the barrelful." He held up a thumb and forefinger and pinched them together. "There's this thing she does with her eyes - doesn't even have to say anything. But somehow you made the grade." He ran his eyes over Ron. "Confusing, but cool."

They had reached the storage bin by that point and he unlocked the gate - after Ron tactfully pointed out which end of the key went into the keyhole.

As they walked back to the gym, Brick ventured, "Kim and Monique hang a lot, right?"

"Yeah, they're close."

Ron could almost make out the sound of wheels turning from the direction of the other's skull before Brick said, "Monique's a plate and a half, huh?"

Ron watched him trace a credible outline of the teen's figure in the air, before stating, "She is pretty."

"Don't know why I asked something I already knew. What I'm not so sure about is whether, uh, so, anyway, does she (expletive)?"

"Ah. Well. Hmm." Ron tugged spasmodically at his bow tie. "S'funny, ha ha, in all the years I've known Monique, that subject has never actually come up in a conversation."

"Weird. I think that's about the best ice... uh, cruncher there is. Okay, so tell me about her parents."

Relieved at the abrupt change in topic, Ron said, "Nice people, both of 'em. Her Dad is a minister - or a reverend, I always get those mixed up. Mom runs a gun shop some place in Lowerton.

"Now I know what you're thinking, how did two opposites like that ever connect? Cute story. They were serving in the Marine Corps together and-"

Ron was both staggered and silenced by the hand that thumped against his back. "Have a good life, Stoppable."

"Her brother's gonna be a cop when he finishes college," Ron added, as he watched the young man walk away from him. "Uh, yeah, Brick, the gym's back this way."

"Yeah." The older teen paused with one hand resting on the press bar of an exit door, then turned around. "Y'know, you're not a bad guy, Stoppable. Even though you get good grades and didn't have to repeat any classes, you never went all high... helmet on me."

He cursed again and reached inside his tuxedo. "These aren't going to do me any good tonight. You might as well have 'em, stud."

A thin shiny rectangle was tossed in Ron's direction. He caught it, gave the object a cursory look, then called out his thanks just before the door slammed shut again.

An instant later the door at the opposite end of the hallway opened and he saw Kim silhouetted in the brighter light of the gymnasium.

"Ron? We need to get going. The police have plenty to do tonight besides be a taxi service for us."

"Coming." He jogged forward and stepped through the door she held open.

"What do you have in your hand there?"

"Going away present from Brick. Nice gesture I guess, but I really didn't get that dirty on the mission, and I've washed my hands since then anyway."

Kim considered the foil packages a moment, then her eyes widened to an alarming degree.

"Nah-ah-ah! Those aren't cleaning cloths, Ron!"

"No?" He raised the object up to the level of his face. "Well, if they didn't make the print so small... "

"Will you stop waving those things around?" she hissed. Kim grabbed the packages from him, looked down at her dress, realized she had no pockets, and thrust her hand inside his tuxedo jacket.

"Hey, hey," he protested. "I thought we were done with the tickling."

Her arm moved from one side of his chest to the other, snarling, "Why doesn't this thing have any pockets?"

Kim withdrew her hand and moved close enough for their fronts to touch. She sank her closed fist into his pants pocket, then recoiled violently.

"Eeegh! What is that? Oh, right. S-sorry, Rufus."

She switched to his other front pocket and when her hand came into view again it was empty.

Kim glanced quickly to her left and right, then let out a weary sigh. "It's decided. This summer I teach you CPR. Because if something like this ever comes up again, I'm going to need it."

Her smile broadened as she put her arms around his waist. "Which isn't to say your naiveté is all bad... "

Ron gave her a distracted nod, then his eyes returned to the person now about twenty feet directly behind her.

"Wha-" A look of pain crossed her features for a moment, and she drew her hands back hastily. She whispered, "It-it's Barkin, isn't it?"

"No. No, it's not."

"Then who-"

"Everything okay there, Kimmie-Cub?"

I really should have seen this coming, Kim told herself glumly. I mean the Yin/Yang of my life, the stand up/get knocked down pattern that is my existence, pretty much demanded it.

So now I've got a boyfriend - and not just a companion to attend social events with, either. Ron is my soul mate, the guy who, like the song says, is always there for me. And if I'm very, very lucky, that might still be the case after a summer (at least) of me being on Home Confinement.

Okay, don't automatically assume the worse, Possible. Dad hasn't dropped the 'G' word yet. He hasn't said much of anything, actually, if you don't count him mumbling, 'The car is this way.' That and insisting, 'You're in the front seat with me, Ronald.'

She looked up as the family van started forward, trailing a police cruiser with its lights flashing silently, while another patrol car brought up the rear.

The officers in the first vehicle caused their siren to squawk once and the reporters blocking the parking lot exit grudgingly parted, although the floodlights of their cameras were still blindingly bright.

Now, it is possible that I'm making trouble for myself - no, for me and Ron - that just isn't there. We don't know for sure that Dad really picked up on the exact nature of the 'present' from Brick. All kinds of other things could be going through his head right now.

She watched his hands convulsively tighten on the steering wheel once again and decided she wanted to bring this to a head now, regardless of the ultimate consequences, rather than have it drag out for the entire trip home.

"So, Dad, anything on your mind?"

Several heartbeats later he replied, "I think you could say that, yes."

"Well, can we help?"

"For the most part that answer would be no. You can't do anything about your mother being out in all this confusion."

"She went to the hospital?"

"Yes. I haven't been able to reach her cell in nearly an hour. The new one, I mean, not the older one she gave to you. Apparently a number of communication towers are out of commission. Thanks to those rampaging robot things that I... "

His voice dwindled away so she ventured, "Dad, you couldn't... Please tell me that you're not blaming yourself for the way Drakken used the Hephaestus technology he stole from you. You are not responsible for that-"

"And then... " His raised voice was a clear signal for her to drop that subject. "And then there's the extensive damage to the house by those Diablo devices. I don't know if we'll even be able to sleep there tonight."

"Aw, you can always bunk with us, Dr. P. As long as you need to."

"Thank you, Ronald. Your parents have already extended that invitation."

They passed through another intersection where police officers were directing traffic and Kim said, "The Middleton Police are out in force, so Mom won't have any trouble driving around. And we won't be sleeping outdoors tonight, no matter what."

"There's a small army of reporters camped out at the house," said her father.

"Hmm. I've never had trouble with a one-on-one interview before, but this is going to be different, for sure. That's what Barkin wanted to talk to me about, Ron. He gave me a strong warning to not go in front of those cameras until I have it clear in my head exactly what I want to say - and not say. He sort of implied that a news interview gone wrong pretty much finished off his military career.

"Well, you can help me with that, Ron. Because we're going to face them together. You, too, Rufus." The lack of an acknowledgement told her the mole rat was sleeping. "And I want Wade to be there, as well, if we can arm twist him into it. Credit where credit is due, and all that."

Neither of the males in the front seat replied verbally, but they nodded their heads in a remarkably synchronized fashion.

That's right, guys. This year's Kimmie model is capable of sharing the glory.

Her father cleared his throat. " 'Credit where credit is due.' That's another thing on my mind at the moment."

"What do you mean, Dad?"

"I didn't see either of you when you got back from the mission. But your mother told me that you've reached some sort of... understanding."

"We are dating," Kim told him flatly. "Ron is now my boyfriend."

"And there's no electronic mood manipulation involved this time?"

"No, this is the real thing."

"I see. Well, Kimmie-Cub, you know my opinion on the subject of dating. I would have preferred that you waited until college for that to start. That's what I did."

"I know, Dad. I know." But was that really your idea - or the girls in your high school?

"As for having a boyfriend... It seems that should have been put off until Grad School. Or later." He exhaled theatrically. "Well, I've deferred to your Mother's judgment on this topic, and she isn't wrong about much, is she?"

"I've never known her to wrong about anything."

"With the glaring exception of 'Captain Constellation,' I would agree." He gestured toward Ron and then back to her. "She did predict this… romance between you two. More than a decade ago."

"Mrs. Dr. P. rocks!" enthused Ron.

"But I had always dismissed the idea. Which was why the crushing, as I believe you young people call it these days, of last month caught me off guard." He hesitated, then said, "I realize now that I was unfair to you, Ronald, and made an inappropriate accusation."

"What?" demanded Kim. "I never heard anything about this!"

Ron held a hand up in front of her as a clear signal not to enter the conversation, and out of surprise she found herself complying.

"Forget it, Dr. P. The Moodulator threw us all off our game. No big."

"Allow me to finish, please. As I said, I'm not thrilled with the two of you dating so young, and frankly, I worry that the intensity of feelings that have always been there between you will lead to… impaired thinking and improper decisions.

"But, that being said, you will never again hear me warn you not to harm Kim. That was an incredibly hypocritical statement on my part."

"Still waiting for the full story on this mysterious conversation no one saw fit to include me in," complained Kim.

"Did you ever tell Ronald about the pants up on the wall of my office?"

She was taken aback by the abrupt change in conversation. "I… Uh… No, I never did."

"Why not?"

"Because… I always thought it was a little creepy."

"I imagine you'll see it a bit differently when you have children of your own." Her father turned to look at Ron again and then his head snapped back toward the road. "Ah, Ronald, do you remember on Kim's twelfth birthday, Anne took the two of you to the bank?"

"When it was being robbed? Oh, yeah. Not gonna forget that any time soon, Dr. P."

"Kim would have died that day if not for you."

"Man, all I did was tear my pants on the edge of a counter."

"Thereby providing the distraction needed for Kim to knock that gunman unconscious. And I know from various conversations with Wade, that was not a solitary occurrence." His voice took on a more thoughtful tone. "Ah, the stimulating discussions I've had with that young man about Chaos Theory… "

"Some people call it the Ron Factor, Dad. And if I was to tell you how many times it had saved me from serious-"

"Probably best that you not elaborate there, Kimmie-Cub. Anyway, Ronald, for me to accuse you of deliberately hurting her… "

"No, sir. No way. I was put on this earth to keep that from happening."

"A very unscientific thesis, Ronald," the teen was informed in a rather severe tone. Then James Possible gave him a slight smile and added, "But one that her mother and I have come to believe without question." He extended his hand and Ron shook it with vigor and a grin that seemed to show every one of his blocky white teeth.

When they reached their neighborhood, they saw that barricades had been placed at the end of the street to keep out a fleet of media vehicles. The police cars veered off to one side and another officer waved the van through a temporary opening in the barrier. Kim did her best to ignore the spotlights that suddenly pointed their way and gestured her thanks to Sgt. Hobble as they passed.

"Looks like a reception committee is waiting," said her father as he pulled into the driveway.

Ron noticed both his parents standing before the Possible residence. "Oh, man. Did I forgot to take the trash out before I left home tonight?" He was the last one to exit the vehicle. "Hey Mom, Dad. Strange night, huh?"

They studied him intently for several seconds, then Ron's mother asked, "Kimmie, is… is it true?"

"Depends on what you're referring to, Mrs. S." Although I've got a pretty good idea already.

Ron's father said hesitantly, "Well, your mother told us that you two were… dating now."

"Ah, technically this is still our first one, so maybe 'dating' isn't true in a literal sense just yet. But when we go out again tomorrow night… " She linked her arm through Ron's and added, "Mr. And Mrs. Stoppable, allow me to introduce my boyfriend."

His parents looked at each and their faces lit up like Kim had never seen before. Then she and Ron got an intense hug from each of them. "You're so good for him, Kimmie," whispered Ron's mother while they were embracing.

"That goes both ways, Mrs. S."

The sound of someone humming Mendelsohn's "Wedding March" made Kim look over to the front doorway, a good portion of which was now being filled by her Aunt June.

"James, if I told you once, I told you a thousand times. Those two were going to end up together."

"Yes, Junie, I suppose you did."

"But, hang on there, Ms. Catlett. Everybody needs to know that KP and me are gonna keep the whole dating thing low key. You know, casual."

The front yard was quiet for the space of perhaps three seconds, then Aunt June announced, "Now I've always been partial to September weddings myself… "

After that, all four of the adults present began speaking at the same time and none of them showed an interest in consulting with either Kim or Ron.

The teens joined hands again and moved close when one of the Tweebs shouted out, "They're back! Mom, Mom, hurry!"

"Anne? You're home! But where's the car?"

"I got a flat tire on some broken pavement and a police officer gave me a ride back."

"What about the hospital?"

"The ER doctors told me to go back home again because there were so few casualties. But if those robots had been active for even a few more minutes… "

Jim grabbed her coat sleeve and pulled it. "Check him, Mom. Before it's irreversible!"

"Stat, Mom!" added Tim. "Here's your bag."

"Boys, will you stop that, please! Thank you. Anyway, Ron looks fine to me."

"Never better, Mrs. Dr. P."

She twitched, then frowned after Jim poked her side again. "Ah, no ill effects from the fight?"

"Well, Shego clocked me a good one, but… " His voice trailed away when he realized he had just broken Team Possible's Rule Number One by revealing TMI about a mission. "Ah… I'm good. Really. That's just a bit that me and Shego do. You know, for laughs." His eyes went hurriedly from one concerned face to another. "Anyway, I didn't even get electro-shocked like KP did!"

"Not helping," Kim muttered bitterly. More loudly, she said, "Ron and I are both perfectly fine. So what's this all about?"

"Brain trauma," Tim told her.

"Undoubtedly an advanced case," Jim continued.

They each gave her an accusatory glare and then she understood. "Because only a severe head injury would make a boy want to date me?"


It took both of Kim's parents and her new boyfriend to fully restrain her before the Twins had been sent out of sight.

Half an hour later she and Ron had changed out of their formalwear, and were sprawled out on the couch in her family room idly flipping through TV channels. Not every station they selected was running a story about her, or the Diablos, or both, but there were enough for it to become something of a running joke between them.

There were few mentions of Ron in any of the news interviews they had caught so far, but his mood remained high. She was very glad the invitation from a few minutes ago to witness the upcoming Independence Day celebrations in Washington as the guest of the President had included him. Although even if it had not, the massive quantities of snacks his mother brought in to them every few minutes would have probably done the trick just as well.

Kim felt a new twinge of guilt as the renewed sound of hammering and sawing from outside came to her, but her mother had been quite insistent about them taking it easy the rest of the night. Anyway, there were plenty of donated building supplies – and volunteers who knew how to use them – out front already.

She looked to her left. From barely three feet away it was easy to notice the orange dusting of Cheese Worms on Ron's upper and lower lips.

"Hey, you've got uh… " She smiled. "Man, I keep forgetting." After a hasty glance toward the door, she leaned over and cleaned his mouth with her tongue.

The hand that wasn't holding the remote control squeezed hers. "Oh, yeah! I vow to be more sloppy more often."

"I'm not sure that's humanly possible." She bumped her shoulder against his. "But give it your best shot."

"I'm all about challenges, KP. You just watch… I… Boo-yah! There it is! You're even on TV Trash Heap!"

She considered the giant screen for a moment. "No. Uh uh. We already said a scrolling marquee doesn't count. It has to be an actual interruption of programming."

Kim thought she heard Rufus grumbling in response, but when she looked toward him he was staring up at the ceiling in an ostentatious manner.

She gave him a raspberry and his whiskers twitched indignantly. Then Kim pushed a potato chip bag his way and he was instantly mollified. "What's the count up to, anyway?"

"Well, let's see, KP. There's all the local stations, and the Knowing Channel, and… "

What did I say earlier tonight? I have no complaints about how this evening had turned out? Guess that makes me the queen of understatement.

There were so many ways this night could have gone south – and yet it didn't. Everything turned out perfectly. Drakken, the dance, Dad. Anything else?

Right. Just one other small little matter. The most perfect guy in the world for you is now… your guy. No doubt about it anymore, the shared journey will continue.

He's been by your side for every part of childhood. The good and bad. Every obstacle, every set back along the way was either overcome or endured with his help.

And now we are – or soon will be – adults. Which means a whole new set of dangers and rewards are going to be waiting for us. Hopefully more of the latter but, given the kind of lives we lead, probably not.

Still, there will be good times. The world owes us a few of those, at least. They'll happen at the proper time, the proper place.

And I won't need to order any escape-proof windows beforehand.

The End

Author Notes:

I have never publicly presented any type of fiction before, and so was a complete unknown to virtually everyone on this website back almost ten months ago when the first installment of this story appeared. The fact that so many people were willing to take a look at my work, and then come back for more in spite of my many beginners' mistakes, is extremely gratifying.

My sincerest thanks go out to the following reviewers:

CajunBear73, DrBeat, Louis Mielke, keth1, ScareGlow, screaming phoenix, jlgreen, melissaeverlasting, Comet Moon, rebafan4ever, motorized-sasquatch, spectre666, Yankee Bard, daywalker82, MrDrP, Joe Stoppinghem, Pojko, eckles, nutshak, Stubbs101, wopr, RobinofYJ, ShadowBlade989, Mr. Wizard, tom bourassa, David R. Genrich, HecatonchirestLM, The defenastrator, TymofeY, Aotsfan, Wushu, Gwendolin Sparrow, Vaapad, BeeKay84, Dark Lady of the Sith, noncynic, dataweaver, babbitrulez, Laura Crossing, , NakedMoleDogg, xyzisme, waveform, aedan cameron, Nftnat, Katsumara, cabrera1234, Shrike176, the grey mage, KPRS shipper, Ms Violet B Hollister, gothgurl13, redchinese, kaiokken, Slipgate, MISS SUNNYBAUDELAIRE, and Muzzlehatch.

Humble thanks also go out to my alpha (heh heh) beta reader Melissa, and her backups, Tina and BeeKay84. Believe me, people, if not for the efforts of these three hard working young women, things could have been much worse…

Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Wade, and Rufus were created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley for the Disney Channel.

Those characters, along with their families, friends, and foes, are all used here without the permission of the copyright holder, but admiration (to put it mildly!) rather than financial gain is the motivation.