My standard Kim Possible disclaimer:
My standard Kim Possible disclaimer:
I know Disney owns "Kim Possible"...lock, stock, and Rufus.
If they want to sue me, they have to get behind all my other creditors.
Since I am in south Florida, the line has formed to the right
…and goes all the way to Sacramento!
To all readers:
1) Thanks to many of the usual reviewers for weighing in on the first chapter...CaptainIT, screaming phoenix, CajunBear73, Sentinel103, whitem, King in Yellow, and Kwebs. My appreciation also goes out to two occasional reviewers, daccu65, and kaiokken. Still, a special 'Welcome back' goes out to Katsumara and Drag0nf1y.
2) Two items of warning, though…
First, THIS STORY IS RATED 'T', for graphic violence.
Second, I went a little 'AU' and maybe OOC with this thing. Just because this tale falls into a spot on the timeline, it doesn't mean it doesn't stray from that point onward.
3) Please check out captainkodak1's DeviantArt page. There, he has a depiction of the 'Hall Locker Memorial' scene that is a downright PERFECT description of my vision for that scene. Right Hand Salute to you, Captain!
For now, let's just sit back and…
Enjoy the show!
'When Good Times Go Bad'
…For Sharon Knudsen…
…Killed by a drunk driver within hours of her 18th birthday…
Previously, in 'When Good Times Go Bad'...
…Without warning, Ron was nearly tackled by a bespectacled young man wearing black slacks and a white ruffled shirt.
Ron looked up to discover…
"Malcolm Needious?" Ron wondered. "What are you doing here?"
Malcolm raised a hand in acknowledgement as he let go of his target. "I know, I know. I just wanted to thank Ron for his brilliance last year...After that whole 'Everlot' thing, you suggested I join the Drama Club...Last night, I found out I got accepted at Julliard."
Ron exchanged 'high-fives' with Malcolm and shouted, "Boo-yeah! You are the man!"
Malcolm continued, "And I owe it all to you, Ron-man. To celebrate, my folks are throwing a monster party Saturday night at our house. You're both invited, of course."
"Ummm…Malcolm," Kim reminded the white-bloused boy, "you do know I'm still dating Josh…right? Ron and I are just friends."
Malcolm answered, "Hey, that's cool. Bring whoever you want. The more, the merrier." He grabbed Ron's shoulders again and finished, "It starts Saturday at 8:00. I'll see you there."
Mr. Barkin stomped over to the group and hollered, "Stoppable…Needious…Knock off the PDA!"
Ron looked at Mr. Barkin and argued, "Hey! I was just minding my own business. It was Malcolm here with the case of the grabs."
Mr. Barkin sneered, "I know what I saw…and just for that crack, both of you have a 'command performance' in my office…RIGHT NOW!"
…Ron left Mr. Barkin's office with a saddened look on his face. The mood drifted with him all the way through class that Thursday afternoon. He finally met Kim in the parking lot after his detention and her cheer practice.
Ron rushed over to open the door for Kim before she could reach the door's handle, the glum look never leaving his face. "Kim," he moaned, "Barkin gave me one of his 'special assignments'. He said he would kick me out of school if I didn't complete it just right."
Kim's eyes grew wide. "Expel you? Isn't that a bit harsh?...Maybe I could help you with this assignment. I mean, it's the least I could do after that whole 'embarrassment ninja' sitch."
Ron shook his head. "Not this time, KP. If Barkin even suspects you tried to help, he said he would throw the book at me."
…The sound of a loud crash halted all of the party's activities. Dozens of people rushed outside the front yard to see what caused such a commotion.
Even though the police quickly prevented others from touching the crime scene, the images would remain forever burned into the minds of everyone who came out from the party…
…The police and fire crews rushing to pull Ron and the other driver out of their vehicles…
…Ron being covered in blood and open-bone fractures from head to toe, his lifeless eyes still open in shock…
…The staggering man being checked for injuries before blowing into a breath analyzer…
…The man being led off in handcuffs by police as paramedics attempt to make Ron stable enough for ambulance travel…
…The paramedics finally shaking their heads and pulling a white sheet over the boy before wheeling him away in the ambulance...
...Josh gulped as he handed the envelope to his girlfriend and noted, "Kim, this is for you. I…I think it's in…Ron's handwriting."
Kim slowly opened the envelope as Josh started his car and began the drive to Kim's house. She pulled out a hand-written note and began to read it:
I see you and Josh came to the party first, so I'll try to keep this short…You already know about that whole Barkin thing. It's just something I've gotta do on my own. Until I present my assignment to him on Monday, you may not see much of me as I struggle to get it just right. Don't worry about me if I'm not really acting like myself. I'll be just fine. All I ask is that no matter what happens with this, you will still think of me as your friend...'
Kim clutched the note as Josh helped her out of the car and into the Possible house. When her parents came to find out what was wrong, she quickly rushed up to her room, leaving Josh to explain the details of the crash to the stunned couple.
Once he finished his explanation, they silently embraced Josh as they soaked one another in a torrent of tears…
…The aftermath of the accident struck Kim as a little…unusual. The entire combined Middleton police and fire departments responded to the call. Usually, such an event would have generated 'wall-to-wall' coverage, as the local news teams had an insatiable appetite for this kind of senseless destruction and tragedy.
In addition, the name 'Ron Stoppable', or some twisted derivative like 'Tom Droppable' or 'Rob Stompable', had come up more than once as being part of 'Team Possible' in missions where the world was in danger. With such a story of carnage and international notoriety, the national media would normally swoop in like a horde of vultures.
Despite all of the elements involved, not one report was shown on the evening news programs. Not one word of the incident graced the pages of any newspaper…not even the hometown Middleton Examiner. The only mention on a radio 'newsbreak' was for a traffic advisory while the cars were being cleared from the intersection.
The oddity of the 'media blackout' was nothing compared to reaction of other normally-interested parties…
…Dr. Betty Director said Global Justice, despite possessing billions of dollars worth of the latest in surveillance technology and the latest intelligence on virtually any person in the whole world, had no information on the tragedy…
…Wade and Rufus were no help either, as neither one of them could be found at the electronics convention…
…The Stoppable household was the most curious group concerning the whole thing. Ron's parents usually welcomed Kim into their home with open arms and a loving smile. That Sunday morning, there was no response when she knocked on their door, despite the presence of both their cars in the driveway.
The Doctors Possible tried to console their children as best they could. Besides the obvious reasons for Kim's grief, Jim and Tim regarded Ron as the 'big brother' they really wanted…as opposed to that cootie-infested sister of theirs.
Still, even they were puzzled as to the outside reaction to the whole situation. The Stoppables had been friends with the Possibles since they first met at Lamaze classes before the births of Kim and Ron. It was their knowledge of Ron's enrollment in Middleton's 'ABC Pre-School' that made them confident Kim would find a friend to cure her fears of loneliness on that first day of class…
…Kim almost changed her mind about returning to school on Monday. She reminded herself of the way Ron was treated around school. Virtually every one of his fellow students—Heck, virtually everybody in the world—treated him as nothing more than a goofball…or a loser…or a buffoon…or some combination of those terms. As cheer captain and yearbook chairperson, she knew she would have to play a crucial role in any kind of tribute the school would pay to her fallen best friend…if they even chose to remember him at all.
Silence entombed the campus of Middleton High School. The American flag was flown at half-mast, with the outside message board reading 'Mandatory Student Assembly…9AM'.
Kim was downright stunned when she walked past Ron's locker and discovered the makeshift memorial display. The closed door was decorated from top to bottom with flowers, pictures, cards, plush puppies dressed as 'Mad Dogs', and little messages like 'We'll never forget you', 'You will be missed', and 'God bless you, Ron'. Despite the school's regulations against religious postings, the faculty felt it was appropriate to leave this note alone, given the circumstances.
This broke what little resolve Kim had built over the last 36 hours. She was once again reduced to tears as she knelt in front of the locker. Hope and Jessica finally helped Kim to her feet and began escorting her toward the auditorium.
Unbeknownst to the flame-haired cheerleader, Monique used a camera to capture that heart-breaking moment Kim spent on her knees, with her head in her hands and openly weeping. Monique was not trying to be mean or cruel with her actions. She just knew Kim was justifiably not in her right mind at the moment. Monique also knew that once Kim finally moved on with her life, she would consider the image a touching 'tribute' to use in the yearbook. After taking the picture and whispering a quick prayer of forgiveness, Monique made her own way to the assembly.
A little further down the hall, Josh approached the cheerleaders. "Kim," he offered, "I was hoping to take your mind off this whole 'Ron' thing." To the shock of both Hope and Jessica, he actually used 'air quotes' around the name of Kim's fallen BFF before he continued, "How about we go to Cow and Chow after school and grab a couple of burgers?"
He heard no response from Kim as she and her squad-mates continued to slowly walk toward the auditorium. Thus, he attempted to rephrase his request. "Look, KP…"
Kim froze in her tracks and muttered to Hope and Jessica, "You two go ahead. I'll be along in a minute."
Hope showed genuine concern for Kim as she asked, "Are you sure you're going to be okay?"
Kim turned to Hope, softened her facial expression momentarily, and responded, "Thanks all the same, Hope. I'll be alright…" She cast a smoldering glance toward Josh as she added, "…But you might want to keep some other people in your prayers right now."
Hope was puzzled by Kim's words, but she and Jessica respected the request. Kim waited until the two of them left her sight before turning back toward Josh. The 'laser-beam' glare from her emerald eyes matched the power of her arm as she shoved him into an empty classroom. She pointed to a front-row desk and barked, "SIT!"
A shaken Josh followed her command as she closed on his position and spoke in a low, even, smoldering voice. "You sniveling little jerk! Only ONE person on this planet has the right…HAD the right to call me 'KP'…and I've lost him forever. Do you really think a casual 'burger date' is all it will take for me to get over a friendship that has lasted more than two-thirds of my LIFE?"
Her nose was only an inch from Josh's face as she sneered, "Ron was right about you, Josh MONKEY! Just how shallow do you think I am?"
Before Josh could answer that question, Kim approached the desk next to his and growled, "You listen, and you listen good. You...and...I...are...HISTORY!!" To emphasize her point, she destroyed the desk at the utterance of the last word.
She grabbed Josh by the shirt collar and went on with her tirade. "If I see you coming within an arm's length of me in the halls, or if I ever hear you say another word to me, I swear to God I will use one hand to rip your head right off your shoulders…and the other one to shove it straight down your throat!!"
She threw him against the classroom's wall and hissed, "Oh, and if anybody asks, we drifted apart and lost our feelings for one another. If any other story gets 'out there', the same punishment still stands. Do you read me?"
Josh weakly nodded, causing Kim to finally let go of his collar, take a deep breath and flatly state, "If you will excuse me, I have an assembly to attend. I would suggest you wait ten seconds before following me down the hall."
Josh could only nod once more as Kim stormed out of the classroom and marched toward the auditorium…
…Mr. Barkin was joined on the stage by several people dressed in conservatively-designed business suits. Once Mr. Barkin noticed most of the auditorium's seats were full, he approached the podium and addressed those in attendance.
He bellowed, "Alright, people…Listen up!" He motioned to the other people on the stage as he continued, "Some of you may be in need of emotional help after what happened on Saturday night. These people are psychologists from the University of Upperton. They and their assistants are ready, willing, and able to provide counseling to anyone and everyone who needs it. Because of the nature of the situation, feel free to take advantage of this opportunity at any time of the school day. Just be sure to get a pass from your teacher, so we can provide any 'follow-up' visits in the future if you need them."
He gestured offstage as he proceeded, "Some of you may be wondering about the lack of press coverage and the lack of any word from the police or the Stoppable family. Here to provide some answers is Officer John McDermott of the Colorado Highway Patrol."
Those who saw the bloody carnage, regardless of their normal pigmentation, turned white as sheets when the law enforcement official strolled up to the podium. In his uniform, Officer McDermott was clean-shaven, bright-eyed, and in full use of his faculties. On Saturday night, however, he was clearly the man whose white sedan slammed into the side of Ron Stoppable's black coupe.
"Please, everybody…" the man directed, "…please settle down and let me explain myself."
After the crowd of students and faculty softened their murmurs, he stated, "As many of you know, Prom and Graduation will be coming up soon. Many of you may feel the urge to celebrate with a couple of beers…some wine or champagne...or maybe those party animals, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam…
"If anybody thinks about making that choice, just remember this…what happened the other night could happen to YOU!"
He moved his hand up and down his body in a sweeping motion and indicated, "I know what you are thinking, everybody. I may look different now; but yes…I was behind the wheel of that white car on Saturday. You may be asking yourself, 'If he's done such a despicable act like kill one of our beloved classmates while driving drunk, why is this man not in jail right now…and what right does he have to tell us not to do the same thing?' Well, as you can probably guess, not everything is as it seems."
He gestured toward the other wing of the stage and hollered, "It's okay, son…You can come out now."
If the people in attendance were shocked before, they were downright petrified at the next turn of events. From out of the shadows of the backstage area, a form began to emerge. It was the lanky, straw-haired, sixteen-year-old frame of…
Ron's lopsided smile and friendly wave were the last things Kim saw before she fainted into Monique's arms…
…As Kim began to regain consciousness, she found herself lying on a hallway bench near the doors of the auditorium. She saw Ron sitting in a nearby chair, brushing her hair away from her face while catching a venomous barrage of insults from Bonnie Rockwaller…
"…I was starting to think you would amount to something besides a loser, Stoppable. I had to admit, with how you pulled off that talent show victory and the way the crowd started to warm up to your stupid 'Mad Dog' mascot, you could have actually risen up from the bottom of the 'Food Chain' by the time you hit your senior year…
"You want to know how low you've sunk with this little stunt of yours? You're gonna have to ride a fifty-story elevator upward just to reach a ladder you'd have to climb just to consider reaching the bottom of the 'Food Chain' again. I mean…even if you defeat a full-scale alien invasion single-handedly, you'll never be anything more than a no-account loser, Stoppable!"
Kim's half-awake eyes followed Bonnie away from Ron as a loud 'SLAP!' was heard. All eyes of the students in the hallway quickly flew back to Ron's stunned position, as Tara stood before him.
"Ron Stoppable!!" She wailed. "How could I have ever had a crush on you? When you saved my life at Camp Wannaweep—twice—I thought you were my hero. With your little cooking display in the cafeteria, and the many times you sacrificed yourself to keep Kim safe on those missions, I knew you were much more than Bonnie ever thought. I honestly tried to find you on Friday to ask you to the Spring Dance next week. Now that you've done this, I…I don't know what to think anymore!"
After that statement, Tara rushed into Bonnie's consoling arms. The other students in the hallway began to make their way to their next classes, leaving Ron to take care of his best friend, still on the bench.
Now fully awake, Kim pulled Ron over to the bench and gave him a tearful hug. Ron returned the embrace and sighed, "I'm glad you haven't abandoned me too, KP."
"Oh, Ron." Kim sniffed. "You don't know how good it feels to hear you call me that again."
After a few seconds of silence, she tightened her hold on Ron as she hissed, "Just remember this…I can crush every one of your ribs without letting go of you…So you've got ten seconds to start explaining before I start busting!"
Ron found it hard to breathe with Kim's vise-like grip. Still, he was able to wheeze out one sentence in his defense. "Remember…the…letter?"
Kim maintained her position as she shot back, "I never forgot that letter. I am being your friend! Why do you think I'm giving you this last chance to redeem yourself before I snap you like a twig? Five seconds left, Ron…Four…Three…Two…One…"
"Barkin!" Ron gasped in desperation as the lack of oxygen started to blur his vision. "It…was…Barkin!"
Kim's eyes shot wide open as she allowed slightly more air to pass into Ron's lungs. It was her turn to gasp, "That 'extra assignment' you were so worried about?"
While it felt good to almost breathe normally again, Ron thought it was easier to just nod in response. Kim released her embrace and placed her hands on his shoulders so they could look each other in the eye. "Okay," she relented, "I'm listening."
Ron took another moment to regain his full level of breathing before he began telling his side of the story. "When he heard Malcolm talk to me about the party, he dragged us both in to his office and laid out his plans for the staged car crash…
"With the ready-made info on Rufus, I knew I was already 'on the hook' for this assignment. Malcolm just happened to be the 'lucky kid' who hosted the party for the whole demonstration."
Kim commented, "You've got to admit…he did a great job of acting like a scared rabbit when he didn't find a pulse on your neck."
Ron raised an eyebrow and responded, "Maybe not as much of an act as you think, KP. Do you remember that 'Hollywood Make-Up Kit' I used to make the 'Mad Dog' mask and the one I created to fool Drakken into thinking I was your dad?"
"Yeah," Kim recalled, "but that 'Kim' mask Rufus dug out of the kit gave me the creeps for a while. Why did you make that, anyway?"
Ron defensively waved his hands and remarked, "Let's get back to Barkin, okay? He saw the great job I did with the 'Mad Dog' mask and asked if I could do more than head and face make-up. Like a dummy, I told him I could make any kind of visual effect with the kit…like a third eye, or another arm, or—"
"Bones sticking out of your skin and realistic blood?" Kim interrupted.
Ron nodded. "You got it…Along with realistic flesh that could give off no pulse. That's the part Malcolm didn't know about. He actually thought I collapsed from the stress of the stunt and no longer had a pulse. He didn't see me enter through the window right after the officer crashed into my car."
Kim's eyes narrowed at the mention of the patrolman. "What about that officer, anyway? Didn't he have to be in his own car long enough to crash into yours at the right speed to leave enough room for you to re-enter it"
Ron was quick with an answer. "He said he was a Hollywood stuntman before he joined the force, and walked away from much worse crashes than that. With the help of a few days off to grow the stubble, a costume Malcolm lent him from the Drama Department, and a little 'Hollywood Make-Up' magic with the eyes, passing him off as a drunk was the easiest part of the whole thing."
"Oh?" Kim inquired. "And just what was the hardest part of the sitch?"
Ron sighed once more before answering. "Maybe I should first mention the second hardest part about it all. My car was completely destroyed, Kim. That part wasn't an act."
"What?" Kim shouted. "Your little black coupe really was…"
Ron finished the sentence, "Sent to that big scrap yard in the sky. It appears my dad made a deal to donate my car to the school, as a write-off against some of the taxes on the Naco money we couldn't recover. Since the title was still in the name of the 'Naco Trust Fund', with Dad as its director, he had the right to do that."
Kim was saddened to hear about how Ron really lost his car. "Why didn't he tell you he was going to do that?"
Ron retorted, "Don't you know my dad by now? That was his way of telling me. Still, the pain I felt in losing that car was nothing compared to hardest thing of all…My eyes were wide open to see your reaction to the scene before they finally put the sheet over me; and...and I couldn't do a damn thing to help you. If I moved even in the slightest, I would have blown the whole assignment, which meant I would have been expelled, which meant…I really would have lost my best friend…"
He wiped away a tear as he finished, "…and that, KP, would have been a fate far worse than death for me."
Kim's embrace was a lot softer than the last one, as she was trying to hold on to Ron…instead of break him. As she repositioned herself on the bench, she felt an envelope next to her.
She quickly pulled back from Ron, grabbed the envelope, and wondered, "What the—?" After reading the front of the envelope, she handed it to her best friend and said, "It's for you."
Ron opened the envelope, pulled out a neatly-typed letter, and read it aloud…
'…I must say I am proud of the way you handled your assignment. You kept your word, and I will keep mine. Pending Global Justice confirmation of his official capacity as a member of 'Team Possible', you can keep the rodent with you. Just don't let him wander too close to the Lunch Lady…He might end up as next week's 'Mystery Meat'…"
Both Ron and Kim had to laugh for a moment at that comment. It was rare for Mr. Barkin to crack a full-fledged joke like that. Once their laughter subsided, Ron continued with the note…
"…'There's just one more part to this assignment. Consider it a little 'extra credit', if you will. Now that the 'news blackout' has been lifted, Officer McDermott and I have called a press conference at 11:00am in front of the flagpole. Feel free to bring Possible with you, as she has had more experience with these media vultures than you…
'…Since this is 'extra credit', you not required to do this. However, as an incentive if you and Possible attend, you'll both be credited with full attendance for today, yet excused from the rest of your classes after the conference…
'…Once again, it was a job well done, Stoppable!
'…See you at the conference,
Kim rose from the bench, turned to her best friend and suggested, "You know, Ron…The offer from Thursday still stands. Bueno Nacho after the press parade?"
Ron stood, joined hands with Kim and replied, "BOO-Yeah! You know it, KP."
Author's ending notes:
1) I realize, with the heart of summer upon us, some people may want to 'celebrate the season'. Please…Please…PLEASE…Don't do anything stupid, like drinking and driving. This tale is not meant to lessen the importance of that message.
Most of you have families who would miss you (God knows why, but they do). Think of them, along with the innocent people (and their families) who may suffer due to the ignorance of a drunk driver.
Call a cab…Sleep it off…Choose a 'designated driver'…ANYTHING…Just have a little common sense out there, okay?
2) I have decided to skip the normal buffer and just release all the stories I have completed in the span of a few days before taking a break. I may come back in a few weeks, a few months, or a few lifetimes. I don't know just yet.
Let me emphasize this to my loyal readers (both of you)...It is not you! I have four (maybe five) different works left unfinished for the last three weeks, without any hope of resolution any time soon.
This is NOT who I am...This is NOT how I work!
Usually, I have an entire story outlined and/or typed in the span of less than three days. The longest I took in outlining a tale was 'So the Reality: Amazing Race'. It took me five whole days to outline that one!
If I come back, it will be with these unfinished tales.
After that, anything is...well...Possible.
Once again, Review me, e-mail me if you wanna reach me! If you want to 'PM' me, that's ok!
Your friend in writing,
The Samurai Crunchbird