B,aR Interlude 01: Getting Back to Normal
Disclaimer: Kim Possible and all the characters of the show are owned by the Disney Company. All other characters can be blamed on the author (he, however, is not responsible for all of their actions at all times, being barely responsible for himself most of the time….).
This is a strictly not-for-profit, just-for-fun work.
This is a small snapshot scene from an early part of the JadeKimVerse Birth, and ReBirth arc. This story is set after 'Graduation' and before freshman year of college for Kim and Ron.
I hope that you enjoy this: this plot bunny arrived in the study Friday morning and demanded resolution. I'm serving its resolution with chilled Chianti and two side dishes: some fava beans and brown fried rice.
Jean Caitlin Stoppable was actually looking forward to going to the grocery store.
After the months of only getting food from designated locations (and getting preferential treatment; after all, her son and future daughter-in-law did save the world...), Jean was looking forward to going back to her favorite mega-store, MonsterSaver, to shop herself and get real food, not MREs or other packaged nightmares that even Ron's cooking magic with all sorts of sauces had not been able to repair.
So, of course, it was going to rain...and, of course, it would start to rain after she had left the house and left her coat on the coat rack. Ron had graciously decided to stay home with Hana and baby-sit, and Jean was smiling: she was so happy that Ron had taken to wanting to spend more time with his sister, and he was even more excited about the new 'addition' coming to the family.
'I'm not certain who's more excited: Ron or Gene,' Jean laughed inside as she turned onto the street leading toward the store.
Jean stopped at the stoplight ('I never thought I'd be happy to see a stoplight,' she thought) and smiled: things were getting back to normal. 'Well, as near to normal as we could have after an alien invasion,' she thought as she realized that it has taken the invasion to bring her closer to her now BFF (best female friend): Dr. Mrs. Anne Possible.
Jean and Anne spent much of that 72 hours talking, and those talks brought the two acquaintances, who shared lives because of their son and daughter, together now as friends.
Anne learned what Jean did: she was an independent writer and publisher, running her own publishing company and concentrating on children's and young adult fiction books. She had been in the financial world ("Once, I was almost transferred to Norway, but I turned it down for two reasons: one, I couldn't bear the thought of separating Ron from Kim, and two," Jean laughed, "I had tasted meat cakes, and I wasn't ready to go where they made those 'unique items' on a regular basis"), but she decided to take a new path, doing something she had always wanted to do full-time, when she and Gene decided to add to the family.
Jean learned where Kim's name came from: Anne's full name was Annette Kimberly Callahan Possible ("What can I say? My folks liked names," Anne laughed.)
When Anne was pregnant with Kim, she and James had had several discussions about girls' names, and James kept coming back to Anne's middle name of Kimberly ("'I like Kimberly,' he told me one night as we sat on the couch. 'We could even name her Kimberly Annette' he added, causing me to shudder. 'I can't saddle my daughter with both my names, James: how about Kimberly Ann?' and I emphasized the request with a kiss and a nibble on his ear.") "That sealed the deal," Anne laughed, and Jean realized that her new friend was a real pistol.
After two days, and still no word on Kim and nothing from Ron and Shego, Jean and Anne had grown closer than either woman had ever imagined possible. They sealed the deal with an inside joke that came from Anne after a third glass of LBD wine.
"Jean, you should have been named Jean Anne," Anne laughed.
"Anne, you should have been named Anne Jean," Jean replied, and both ladies laughed.
"Jean-Anne," the first stated and giggled.
"Anne-Jean," the second replied and giggled, and the women fell into each others' arms laughing.
"What's with them?" Gene asked James, looking up from his book toward the laughing women.
"Beats me, Gene, but I'm glad they're happy," James replied, looking up from his sketches for the new Kepler-3.
The light turned green, and Jean pulled forward and turned into the shopping center drive, heading for the store parking lot.
A car turned behind her, and a horn honked. Jean looked up into her rear-view mirror and laughed as she pulled into the parking slot, followed by her partner-in-crime in 'all things Middleton.'
The door to the new minivan opened, and Dr. Mrs. Anne Possible stepped out sans white coat.
And, as if by magic, the rain stopped just as Anne opened her door.
"GF, you are good," Jean laughed, and Anne took a medium curtsey, causing Jean to laugh even more.
"Jean-Anne," Anne replied.
"Anne-Jean," Jean responded, and both women giggled as they walked through the parking lot to the door. The moment that the ladies stepped under the entry awning, the rain resumed.
"I bow to your superior dry-tude," Jean bowed with a giggle, and Anne laughed.
The sound of an engine revving got their attention, and they turned just in time for-
Both ladies turned just in time to catch the end of the splash as it came through the closing door, striking them fully-frontal and soaking their dresses more than the rain would have.
"Snap! That was my favorite purple dress, and I just had it cleaned, too," Anne groused as she turned and walked into the store. The store manager who had witnessed the event was at the ready with a large fluffy towel for each lady.
"Compliments of the store, Mrs. Possible, Mrs. Stoppable," he said as he handed each of them a towel; "I am so very sorry; please, send me the cleaning bills, and I'll take care of them personally," he added as he held out his card, but Anne waved his apology away.
"No Big, Mr. Samuels; it could have happened to anyone. Right, Jean-Anne?" Anne smiled.
"Right, Anne-Jean," Jean replied with a chuckle.
Order up: one confused store manager, who knew both of their full names.
"Anne-Jean? Jean-Anne?" he repeated, and Jean laughed.
"Inside joke," Anne explained, and Mr. Samuels nodded. "Started with the Lowardian sitch," she added, and he nodded, more convinced that he would never understand women.
"Very well, then," he replied. "Welcome back, ladies: MonsterSaver is happy to once again be open," he smiled. "And to its regular club customers, especially lovely ones such as yourselves," he added and took the towels back from them.
Jean smiled. She was accustomed to Anne getting the compliments, so it shocked her when the manager smiled and winked at her before he turned and walked away, whistling a tune that Jean didn't readily recognize but caused Anne to laugh.
"Will you look at that?" Jean pointed at the fruits and vegetables area, stocked to overflowing, and Anne smiled.
"I've needed fresh spinach for so long, and ark-e-chokes..." Anne smiled, and Jean smiled inside: the word artichoke was a scotoma for Anne. "I could have killed for an ark-e-choke. Anything that the boys didn't grow," Anne added with a grimace, and Jean laughed.
"We're all lucky that they converted the town dump into a farm, after they converted the mystery meat into a bio-electric energy source," Jean replied, but Anne still grimaced.
"Their new idea, though," Anne's voice sounded strained. "The idea of our vegetables being grown and harvested by Roachie and his friends...it's still sick and wrong...they're such big bugs...big...bugs..." Anne's right face muscles twitched several times as her voice trailed off, and Jean laughed. The woman who regularly placed her hands inside peoples' brains was afraid of bugs...
"Anyway, it's all over, and we have fresh produce, once again, raised by humans and not roaches," Anne laughed, and the two ladies each grabbed a basket and headed into the produce aisle...
As they shopped, Jean noticed the store workers, all wearing different colored ribbons: for friends lost in the Lowardian invasions, she remembered, picturing in her mind the display that Ron had build in his room.
"It's for all of them, Mom," he had told her when she commented on the massive size of the display. "They're not coming home, and it's the least I can do to honor them," he said as he slipped on his work clothes to go out, after the mission he and Kim had just completed, to help do his part in the rebuilding of Lowerton.
For some reason, the Lowardians had hit Lowerton the hardest, barely missing Sato's restaurant. Sato, Ron learned, had mad connections worldwide, and food began flowing in almost immediately. He put out a call for cooks, and Ron came running, much to the delight of the workers that were toiling endlessly in the reconstruction efforts. They dined like kings and queens on RDS and Sato's prime cuisines, all for free.
One of the men, the first week, offered to pay when he brought his wife and children up one night to eat, and Sato got madder than Ron had ever seen him. He stormed off, screaming in a mix of Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and Korean, with a bit of French and Tagalog, of all things, mixed in. Ron laughed because he understood the comments, and he explained to the frightened man that Sato wasn't angry with him: he was angry with himself for not telling the workers to either bring their families every day for meals or to bring containers to take food home for them.
Ron explained to the man why Sato was upset, and then he told the man Sato's story: how he had lost much of his family in the multiple Southeast Asian conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and other "mini-pocket conflicts ," Ron called them, and he explained how much Sato felt that he owed America for all that its men and women had done for him and his families, teaching him the art of American West Coast, Southwestern, Southern, and New England styles of cooking along with the arts of French and Spanish cooking that he learned from his parents and grandparents. "He feels that he will never pay that debt back, and that him feeding everyone is only a small drop in the bucket of payment for the lives that have been saved."
The man, the next day, brought his wife and three children up to meet Sato, and he introduced him as a 'Real American Hero,' telling them a bit about what Sato had been through and what he was doing. His family all thanked him, bowing respectfully before they left. Ron later told his mother that he had never seen Sato cry before, but he had watched Sato's tears fall after that man and his family left that night.
Jean's laughter caught Anne's attention, and Anne pushed her basket over to the display-
"I'm going to kill them, this time for certain," Anne stated, and Jean laughed even harder.
The new produce display was full, but people were pulling cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and bok choy from it and loading their baskets like there was no tomorrow. At the top of the display was the picture of Roachie, feelers spread wide, and underneath the words "I won't sell it if I won't feed it to my family!"
Middleton's Own Home-Grown was the label, and the prices were more than competitive with others.
"Gee, I wonder why: look at the labor force," Anne could not help but grin at her own comment, and one of the other shoppers laughed as she put four huge heads of a very green and leafy lettuce into her cart and strolled away.
"Well, at least the workers here are attentive," Jean observed as two young men came out, each pushing a cart filled with produce to restock.
Jean and Anne picked their produce, Anne grabbing some wonderful artichokes, onions, summer squash, and spinach from the Western State produce bin, while Jean pulled several bunches of bok choy from the Middleton's Own bin, looked over the cabbage, then pulled several head and placed them in her basket. She also pulled several fresh ginger roots, garlic cloves, and then she added them and some green and red bell and hot peppers to her basket.
Jean laughed even louder, and Anne came back to look at what had her laughing, and she groaned once again:
"They even corrupted him?" she asked, and Jean laughed and nodded
On the bottom of the label was a picture of Rufus munching on a wedge of cabbage and saying: 'It's all 'Gouda' to eat!'
After Anne stopped laughing and groaning, she and Jean headed out of produce.
"Are you and the family still coming over for the 'Middleton Stadium' version of Ron v Sato in an Oriental cook-off, Anne?" Jean asked as she and Anne turned into the next aisle. Jean noticed that there were more young men standing and stocking, and they were all smiling.
"Wouldn't miss it for anything, Jean-Anne," Anne replied. "Both are wonderful chefs, and this should be a wonder to watch as well as eat."
"Both Ron and Sato are making kimchee, so this should be interesting, indeed," Jean grabbed several bottles of Chinese spicy mustard and Kickin'Boy's Soy Sauce.
"Now, for the moment of truth," Anne stated as they turned for the meat and dairy display.
Dairy first: the display cases were the traditional glass front with the opening in the back for stocking, and Jean could see several young men stocking behind the scenes.
Anne opened the first door and gasped.
"Good garden party, that's cold!"
"Yes, ma'am, it is, but it ensures that your milk will be perfect," a male voice from behind the milk replied. Anne pulled out four gallons for her basket and smiled.
"Hello, Ronald," she smiled at Ron Reger.
"Hello, Dr. Possible!" Ron exclaimed. "It's great to see you again away from the mess," he added, and she laughed. "Hello, Mrs. Stoppable," Ron added as Jean reached in and pulled two of the gallons of milk from the restocking that Ron had just completed.
"Are you still hiding from Mr. Barkin after what you, Jim, and Tim did to his car?" Jean asked with a laugh.
"Yes, ma'am, I am," Ron laughed. "Actually, Jim and Tim got his car back, somehow, and it was detailed so well that Mr. Barkin wasn't upset...much," he laughed. "It's great to see you both again, and please say hi for me to both Kim and Ron."
"I will, Ronald, and thanks for not tossing the boys under the bus," Anne laughed as she closed the dairy door.
"Did you see that?" Cooper James asked Ron: both young men were stocking dairy.
"Why do you think I talked to her that long?" Ron replied with a laugh. "Kim's pretty and all, but Mrs. Stoppable and Mrs. Possible are my dream girls," Ron announced, and there were several 'booyahs' confirming his statement coming from the cooler. "I like working in the cold, and those are the very reasons I do," Ron added with a laugh as he grabbed another case of milk.
Anne and Jean both found fresh chicken, pork, and ground beef. "Brain Loaf!" Anne exclaimed as she grabbed several packages of ground pork and beef. "I haven't made one since before Graduation," she laughed.
The ladies headed for the front of the store to check out after grabbing some other items in the aisles, and Anne saw it first.
"There's a gaggle of guys over there: they look like vultures, waiting to descend on unsuspecting prey," Anne laughed as she headed for the checkout lines.
Both Jean and Anne saw three boys all head in their direction, but one of them said something, and one stopped as the other two headed to and stopped at the checkout lines where Jean and Anne were.
"Hello, Mrs. Stoppable," came from Hope, running her register.
"Hello, Mrs. Possible," came from Marcella, running her register.
"Well, now I know why there are many well-mannered and attentive young men working here: you two would certainly gather a crowd," Anne called to Jean as Hope and Marcella both blushed along with the young men.
After ringing, bagging, and paying, both Anne and Jean headed out of the store, followed by the two young men, each pushing a cart filled almost to overflowing.
As the young men loaded their cars, Anne mentally debated the question, and then she finally decided to ask it.
"May I ask you a question, young man?" she said as he closed her van door.
"Certainly, ma'am," he replied as he turned to face her.
"What were you taking to the other young man about that caused him to stop?"
"Well," he blushed, looked down at the ground for a few moments, and then looked up, "we were discussing whose turn it was, ma'am."
"Whose turn it was?"
"Yes, ma'am: whose turn it was to help you and Mrs. Stoppable," he replied, and the other young man nodded. Jean just stared at him.
"Why?" Anne asked.
"Isn't it obvious, ma'am?" The young man smiled and blushed a bit. "You two ladies are DDG, as Monique would say: drop-dead gorgeous," and this time it was Anne and Jean who blushed, "and we've all had crushes on you since long before graduation, Mrs. Possible, but we added Mrs. Stoppable to the list after getting to spend that time with her at graduation. Either of you ladies would steam up the dairy case if you even stepped inside, ma'am, and if both of you walked in: well," he laughed, "let's just say I'd be cleaning up lots of melted ice cream," he added, and both Anne and Jean blushed even more.
"Mr. Stoppable and Mr. Possible are some very lucky guys, and now I know where Kim gets her looks from," the second young man added, and Anne blushed harder.
"Thank you for shopping today, ladies, and come again…seriously," the first young man laughed as the two of them headed back to the store, pushing their now-empty carts and both whistling a tune that made Anne laugh.
Jean looked perplexed. "I don't remember the tune, Anne-Jean" she whined.
"Oh, you will, Jean-Anne, you will," Anne replied as she opened her van door and strapped herself in. "See you later, Jean," Anne called as she started the engine.
Jean got in her car and started the engine, then pulled out and headed home.
She reached down and turned on the radio at the first stop sign, and the song was finishing. One more song played, and then…
"...and, this one is for two very special ladies of Middleton, and you know who you are, from the guys at the store," the announcer laughed and started the tune.
Jean recognized the tune as the one that she'd heard being whistled, but she didn't remember the words until they started "And, here's to you…"
She pulled over to the side of the road and hugged the steering wheel, laughing. Then, she reached into her purse and pulled out her cell, hitting the speed dial for Anne.
"Anne-Jean, here, Jean-Anne: I take it you just heard the radio," Anne's voice was obviously coming down from a laughter-high.
"I did, indeed," Jean laughed.
"Well, I guess it's now official," Anne laughed:
"We're the new 'MSS.'"
"Middleton Sex Symbols," Anne laughed, and Jean joined her in laughing as they sang together at the top of their lungs:
"'Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids:
"'And, here's to you, Mrs. Robinson….'"
It seems that Mrs. Possible and Mrs. Stoppable have some more fans in Middleton than they imagined, and Ron is having a busy summer after saving the world with his BFFGF (best friend / fiancée / girl friend).
Anne's problem with the word artichoke is a gracious nod to the younger half of the 2007 Best New Writer, kt of jakt. Thanks, a. g.
A huge thank you to Stareva01 for his real-time beta work and wonderful comments that added to this story. Sir, you rock!
Thanks for coming along on the run to the grocer's.