Disney owns the characters, I'm just taking them for a test drive.
Kim Possible awoke suddenly, feeling something tugging on her hair. "Rufus, you'd better not be making a nest again," she grumbled. When she reached for her auburn tresses, sure enough, there was the naked mole rat entangled in her hair and out like a light. That's the third time this month, she thought. Kim had no problem with Rufus staying in the master bedroom with her and Ron, especially since he made himself scarce whenever they wanted to be intimate, but nesting in her hair was making Kim rethink that arrangement. She gently extracted the still slumbering mole rat from her locks and sighed. This has so got to stop.
"Ron." She nudged the blond man sleeping peacefully beside her. "Ron, wake up."
"It's not my parakeet, I'm just holding it," he muttered.
Okay, that was random. "Ron, Rufus made a nest in my hair again."
"Wha-huh? He did?" Ron Stoppable tried, unsuccessfully, to sit up. Instead he turned his head and saw Kim holding Rufus' sleeping form in her hands. "Let me see him." He took his little friend from his fiancee. "Rufus, wakey wakey, little buddy." The naked mole rat opened one eye. "Why were you nesting in Kim's hair again?"
"Smells nice," Rufus replied in a sleepy tone.
"Well, he is right about that," Ron agreed.
"Tell you what, Rufus, how about we make you a nest that smells like my shampoo. Is that all right?"
"Problem solved," Ron yawned. "I'm going back to sleep." As soon as Ron's eyes closed, the alarm clock went off. "Awwwwww. That's so not fair."
Kim sat up and threw the covers off. "Time to get up and get the day started," she said. Today was her first day at the University of Upperton, and she couldn't wait to tackle this new challenge.
"Waffles for breakfast?" Ron asked. In the week it had been since he started classes at the Upperton Institute for the Culinary Arts, there had been a marked improvement in Ron's already impressive cooking abilities, if that was even possible.
"Please and thank you." Ron's waffles were a great way to start a new day.
"Don't tell me, let me guess. 'This isn't working, and we'd be better off as friends.' Does that about sound right?" Josh Mankey was sitting at a table outside the Student Union at the University of Upperton across from Lydia Turner, his girlfriend of three months. Make that ex-girlfriend.
"Look, Josh," the brunette said, "you really are a nice guy and I like you a lot, it's just that, we're drifting apart."
Josh visibly winced at that phrase. "I've heard that before." Many times before, actually. From one girlfriend in high school, from three when he was going to college in Denver, and now from Lydia here in Upperton. He had even said it himself to another high school girlfriend; Kim Possible. It seemed as if Josh could attract them, but not keep them interested. "I know where this is going, Lydia," he finally said. "You don't have to say anything else." He stood up and reached for his backpack. "At least you had the common decency to do this to my face instead of through a text message." His last girlfriend broke up with him that way. "See you around." Josh Mankey walked off without even looking back. "Real nice way to start the semester," he grumbled.
The first few weeks of the semester were always a flurry of activity outside the Student Union. The fraternities, sororities, and clubs were doing their recruitment drives, and the campus radio station had a booth set up and was doing a live broadcast, although the only way students could listen was over headphones since the university's noise ordinance prohibited the use of loud speakers during class times. Josh ignored the pandemonium and headed towards the bookstore; he needed to pick up a sketch book for his two dimensional art class.
It was then that he saw a sight he never thought he'd see, or ever really wanted to see; by the booth for the Alpha Phi sorority he saw Tara King and Kim Possible, his ex-girlfriends from Middleton High, in animated conversation. He only caught the tale end of what they were saying.
"...really appreciate the offer," Kim said to her former cheer squad teammate. "But after last year, I've had enough of Greek letters to last me a lifetime."
"Huh?" The blonde was confused.
"Never mind, Tara. It's a long story." Kim gave her friend a smile.
"So, when can we expect you to go out for the cheer squad?"
Kim's smile quickly faded. "I'm not doing cheer squad, Tara. I just don't have the time." Kim was visibly disappointed about this.
"Kim Possible, not on the cheer squad?" Josh asked as he strolled up to his two exes. "It's a sign of the End Times!"
"Oh great," Tara muttered under her breath. She and Josh didn't exactly part on the best of terms. He was on the rebound from Kim, and Tara had realized that her crush on Ron Stoppable wasn't going anywhere, so two lonely people decided to be lonely together. It was an arrangement that quickly fell apart. She felt Kim put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"It's good to see you, Josh," Kim said. "But I thought you were going to school in Denver."
"I transferred here last semester," Josh replied. "Upperton has a better art program. You look good, Kim."
What am I, invisible? Tara thought. She decided to ignore her ex. "Well, at least think about rushing us," she said to Kim. "And think about cheer squad. It would be just like old times."
"Okay, Tara, I'll think about it," Kim smiled. "Do you still have the same cell number?" The blonde nodded. "We so need to get together for lunch!"
"Sounds good, Kim. See you later."
Kim waved at her old friend, said a goodbye to Josh, and walked off. Josh wasn't done though. "Wait up, Kim!" His quest for a sketchbook was now forgotten, replaced by a need to reconnect with someone who could have been the first great love of his life. Who knows, maybe second time's the charm. He had been a year ahead of Kim in high school, and graduated at the end of Kim's junior year. He knew that she had hooked up with her lifelong best friend Ron Stoppable at the prom, but that was years ago. Besides, he hadn't seen hide nor hair of the strange blond boy since he set eyes on Kim again, and he honestly didn't think they would last. "Where are you heading?"
"Uh, Schooley Hall," Kim replied. This was getting a little uncomfortable.
"Cool. I'll walk with you.
"Okay. I guess." She grabbed hold of the straps of her backpack to shift the weight a little; she had just purchased a big batch of text books for some of her classes and her bag was really heavy.
"So," he said. "There's something different about you." Some of it was her attire; gone were the crop tops she always wore, replaced by a more conservative short sleeved shirt. But Josh wasn't going to comment on that. He wanted to know where Ron was and if they were still an item. "I know! No Ron Stoppable hanging around."
Kim smiled at the mention of her fiancee. "He's at the cooking institute across town."
Josh thought about that for a moment. "Okay, not a surprise. I mean, he did do the impossible and make cafeteria food not only edible, but delicious." So she was still at least talking to Ron. That didn't necessarily mean anything. "No cheer squad," Josh said. "I gotta tell you, Kim, that is out of character for you. I mean, you love cheer squad."
"Like I told Tara, I so don't have the time. I'm in prelaw which means I have a full class load, I'm still doing mission work, I got a part time job at the athletic center, and I'm planning a wedding. Something had to give."
"Wedding?" It was then that he noticed the diamond ring proudly sparkling on Kim's left ring finger. "Ron?"
Kim got a dreamy look on her face. "He proposed on Christmas Day. It was the most weirdly romantic thing he ever did for me." The thought of the faux Bueno Nacho Bueno Bucks made her heart flutter. That card was so going into the wedding album. Kim saw the look on her ex-boyfriend's face and stopped walking. "Okay, Josh, what's the sitch?"
"Well," he stammered. "I'd been, well, I thought that..."
"You were going to ask me out, weren't you?"
"Ferociously sweet of you, Josh, but that boat sailed." That's when she noticed Josh's body language. He was walking a little slouched, his eyes were darting back and forth between the ground and her, and he, in general, had a defeated air about him. "Did something happen?"
"My girlfriend just dumped me."
"So you decided to ask me out?" Kim was getting a little irritated. "So not a good idea." She remembered how the rebound relationship he had with Tara worked out. "I mean, asking out an ex right after a break up is just asking for trouble."
Josh decided to go for broke. "Have you ever thought about what it would've been like if we stayed together?"
"Once or twice." she admitted. Realizing that they were going to have this conversation whether she wanted to or not, she sought out a bench so she could at least do this while sitting down. "But I'm happy, Josh. I'm truly happy. Besides, if I remember correctly it was your idea to call it quits."
"You didn't argue too much." Josh almost sounded crestfallen.
"Is that what you wanted? Me to just break down and cry and beg you not to go?" Kim's temper was starting to flare.
"No, but... I don't know." Josh took a deep breath. "We were good together."
"It was infatuation, Josh. And it was mostly physical." Kim was scowling now. "In fact, I recall you getting more than a little tweaked when I told you that I didn't want to go as far as you wanted to, and then you accusing me of sleeping with Ron behind your back."
"Well you're sleeping with him now, aren't you?"
"So not your business!" Kim abruptly stood up. "Goodbye, Josh!" she growled as she stormed off. She didn't even look behind her.
"Smooth, Mankey," Josh muttered under his breath. "Real smooth."
"Well? Am I good or am I amazingly good?" Monique asked as she handed Kim a stack of dress designs. "I'm telling you, girl, this came along at the perfect time. I get to design wedding and bridesmaid's dresses for my best friend, and get credit for my fashion design class while doing it!"
Kim never asked Monique to design the dresses, she just did it herself. "There is no way in hell that I'm going to look like a cupcake at my best girlfriend's wedding," she had announced when Kim and Ron told her of their engagement. Since then she had been zealously drawing up design after design for bridal attire in an attempt to outdo herself and come up with something that would be the envy of the fashion world.
"They're great, Mon," Kim smiled. She looked over a few designs and stopped at one. "Although I think you'll have problems with my Uncle Slim over the neckline on this one." Aside from the date, the only concrete plans that had been made involved the wedding parties. Monique would be Kim's maid of honor, with her cousin Joss and her former Omega 12 teammate Lynn Corrigable acting as bridesmaids.
The groom's side of the equation had Felix Renton as the best man, with Wade Load and Kim's other Omega 12 teammate Miles Walker filling out the ranks of the groomsmen. Hana, of course, would be the flower girl, the Tweebs would be the ushers, and it looked like Rufus would be the ring bearer.
"It's all negotiable," Monique said. "Besides, there's still plenty of time to get things all figured out." The guys had it easy; they would be renting tuxes. The bridal party had the real work to do, and Monique was almost fanatical about it. "Just wait till I show you the new sketches I have for your wedding dress!" Kim didn't respond as Monique dug into her portfolio. "You okay? You look a little out of it."
"It's no big."
Monique scowled a bit. "Okay, I know that tone of voice. It probably is big, so spill. WTBD?"
"The big deal is I ran into Josh Mankey this morning," Kim said. "He got dumped by his girlfriend and decided that a rebound fling with an ex was a good idea."
Monique's face scrunched up. "Ouch."
"Yeah. Then the old fight came up again."
"What old fight?" Monique went into gossip mode. "Girl you've been holding out on me! TME! What happened?"
Kim had kept the details of her breakup with Josh mostly to herself. She had a heart to heart with her mother about it, and came clean to Ron after they started getting really serious. They were the only people she talked to about it.
"Josh broke up with me," Kim said, deciding to ease into the story. "He said we were drifting apart. Although I think that was 'Josh Code' for I so didn't share his interest in art. He even accused me of cheating on him with Ron a few times."
"You seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing when you saw Josh getting friendly with Tara, though."
"Honestly, I was glad it was over. All we did on our dates was make out."
"All you did?" Monique was digging for details.
"We had nothing in common outside of a physical attraction, Mo! All of our conversations were stunted and, honestly, there's only so much art talk I can handle." Kim truly did like art, but it wasn't her life like it was Josh's. "That was it, really. Good kissing does not a stable relationship make." Kim looked down.
"Then there was the fact that he wanted more of a physical relationship than I was comfortable with at the time." Kim knew there was no getting out of this. "I wasn't ready for that kind of intimacy yet. Josh said he understood, but he did sulk a lot whenever I'd turn him down."
"And you turned him down a lot." Monique had been there.
"Only every time he put the moves on me."
"You gonna tell Ron about this?"
Kim fiddled with her engagement ring; it was a habit she'd picked up whenever she thought about her guy and he wasn't there. "I should," Kim replied. "Although, I'm not too sure I'm ready to hear about the Mankey-Monkey Conspiracy again."
"Hi, honey, you're home!" Ron called from the kitchen when he heard Kim walk in the front door.
"I'm well aware of that, Ron." Kim came into the kitchen and hung her keys on the hook by the entryway. She was greeted by the wonderful aroma permeating the air. "That smells wonderful," she said with a smile. "And that's so not your normal line."
Ron gave her a kiss hello. "Well, this time I was home before you were."
"True. So what's cooking, Mr. World's Most Ferociously Amazing Chef?"
"I like that; it sounds beyond badical! I'll have to have it embroidered on an apron." Ron lifted the lid of the pot on the stove. "Just a simple pot roast with boiled potatoes," he said.
"That doesn't smell like a simple pot roast to me," Kim said. She would never say this to her mother, but she enjoyed Ron's cooking much more than her mom's, and her mom was a good cook. Ron just happened to be a great one.
Ron noticed that Kim was apprehensive about something. "Everything okay, KP?"
"Not really." She took a seat on a stool at the counter. "I ran into Josh Mankey this morning. It didn't go so good."
After hearing the story, Ron had an angry glint in his eye. "You want me to go monkey style on him?"
"No, Ron, he just got me tweaked, is all." It was Kim's turn to notice abnormal body language. "Okay, Ron. Spill. What's wrong?"
Ron sheepishly took a seat on the stool beside her. "You don't, you know, regret breaking up with him do you?"
"I did for a while," she admitted. "But that was before we hooked up. I haven't really given him much of a second thought since then. I have something better now, Ron. I can talk to you about things other than art, our conversations are never stunted or forced, and I know that you're not just trying to get me in bed with you." She shot Ron a devious look. "Although, I think I might be persuaded on that last one." She was just seconds away from planting a Moodulator level kiss on Ron when the Kimmunicator and the Ronlink both went off. Kim let out an annoyed groan. "What's the sitch, Wade."
"Uh oh," the young genius said. He knew he had interrupted something. "Uh, hi!"
"Is there a reason you're calling?"
"A reason? Oh yeah! A reason. A hit on the site, but it's a crank." Since Kim's abduction by a fighter called Bengal a few months ago, Wade had set up special filters and tracking programs to find out where requests for help were coming from and, hopefully, make sure they weren't traps or pranks. "The IP address is from a computer in one of the dorm rooms at the University of Upperton. Josh Mankey's dorm room, to be exact."
"Great," Kim muttered.
"The request for help was that you meet with a contact, probably Josh, in an hour at Loter Park." Wade took a drink from his Slurpster. "If you want I can spike his system."
"No, Wade, I'll go," Kim finally said. "I need to clear the air with him, I guess."
"I'll go suit up," Ron said with a hint of anger in his voice.
"I can handle this alone, Ron," she said. "I don't want you getting mad and turning Josh into a human pretzel."
"That's actually not the main reason I called," Wade said. "I got a little more information on our new friend."
Upon hearing that, Kim quickly forgave Wade for the interruption. "What do you have?"
"Well," Wade started, "up until a few months ago, there was no D. Carter Knokod. No financial records, no personal records, no nothing!" D. Carter Knokod was a new guy on the scene. He was like a cross between a super villain and a crime lord; his syndicate employing common thugs and henchmen alike. He was also a multi-billionaire who was so rich that he made Senor Senior Senior and Martin Smarty look like beggars. "Nowhere in the underworld or Wall Street is there any mention of him before now."
"Okay, that sounds off," Kim said. "You think he might be some alias that someone is using?"
"That's my guess. I'll keep looking, but whoever's behind this has covered their tracks really well. All I know for certain is that whoever he is, he's taking credit for busting Bengal out of jail." Wade gave a halfhearted smile. "Sorry, Kim, but this could take a while."
Josh paced restlessly in front of the fountain in the center of Loter Park. Maybe I should have brought flowers, he thought. He knew very well that Kim would be beyond tweaked when she found out this was a set up, but he didn't care. Seeing her again that morning awoke old feelings that had lain dormant for the better part of two years. All I have to do is explain it to her. She'll understand.
"My website isn't a dating service, Josh," an irritated Kim Possible said as she came out of the shadows. She was wearing the same clothes she had on at school earlier that day. "There are plenty of singles sites out there if you're lonely."
"I should've guessed that you'd figure it out," he said with a nervous chuckle. "I, uh, that is, are you hungry? We can go grab a bite to eat."
"I have dinner waiting for me at home, Josh." She crossed her arms and glared at the former object of her affections. "Coming between me and one of Ron's home cooked meals is such the bad idea."
"R-Ron comes over to cook for you?"
"We live together."
Kim was beyond agitated. "No, living together. As in cohabiting the same living space. Hello? I'm engaged to him. We'd be moving in together after next May anyway, not that it's any of your business." Kim found a park bench to sit on. "You have two minutes. What's the stinking sitch here?"
"I want you back," Josh said. "I made a dumb move two years ago by breaking up with you and I want a second chance. I remember you chasing Ron around before Middleton Days, and getting kinda jealous about it. After I heard about the emotion chip thing I just let it go. I was going to ask you to the prom after Tara and I broke up, but then I saw you with that Erik guy. After it turned out that he was some kind of robot thing, you were all over Ron again." Josh sat down beside Kim. "I know you were rebounding, Kim. I know you were settling on Ron since he was there and he was familiar. Don't spend the rest of your life with someone like Ron, when you can have me. I still love you, Kim."
Kim couldn't believe what she was hearing. "What do you mean you 'still love me?' You never once told me you loved me, Josh!"
"I didn't know how." Josh tried to embrace her, but Kim quickly slithered out of his grasp and stood up. "But I do love you, Kim. And I know you love me too."
"I'm sorry, Josh, but I don't." Kim was really wishing that Ron had come with her now. "I don't love you and I don't think I ever did. It was a crush! Maybe it could've grown into love, but it didn't. We were just too different."
"Oh, and you and Stoppable are so much alike?" This wasn't going how he'd planned. "Come on, the guy's more than a little eccentric! I mean, he keeps a naked mole rat in his pocket and talks to it like it's a real person!"
"Hey!" Kim snapped. "Don't be harshing on Rufus, or on my guy. He may be weird, but I happen to really like weird. And I wasn't settling on anyone, Josh! I'd been crushing on Ron for a while at that point. Whenever a girl would pay him the slightest bit of attention, I'd go all jeal because I though she was trying to take my Ron away from me. I didn't even tell him that Tara liked him liked him, for crying out loud! And the only reasons I got with Erik were because he was designed to seduce me, and I was stupid enough to listen to Bonnie!" Kim took a few deep breaths to try to calm down. "Ron encouraged me to date you, you know," she finally said. "And how did I thank him? I locked him in the supply closet before the spirit dance. It was an accident, but he still didn't talk to me for a week after that. And it was a horrible week. I had never missed anyone that much before."
Kim closed her eyes and remembered her recent argument with Ron over the tracking chip she had Wade implant him with years ago. He accused me of not trusting him back then. Not because I put the chip in him, but because I didn't tell him. And with the closet sitch, well, he didn't accuse me of anything, he just gave me the silent treatment, which was worse. Then, after that week was over, he apologized for giving me the cold shoulder. I so don't think Josh would have been as forgiving.
"I don't think you love me," she said in a somber tone. "I think you're in love with the idea of loving me, or in love with who I used to be. You couldn't handle the things I did before, and I think you'd have a harder time now. The villains and freaks are a lot more dangerous than they used to be." Kim finally looked Josh in the eyes. "We've been over for a while now, Josh. I moved on. It's time for you to let me go and do the same. Your two minutes are over. Goodbye, Josh."
"Kim wait!" He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around. One moment he was starting to lean in to kiss her, and the next he was flat on his back on the hard ground with Kim glaring over him.
"Don't try that again," she growled. "Ever." Kim stormed off without even looking back.
Josh looked for Kim on campus over the next few days. He even went to the athletic center to see if she was there, but he never found her. So he went about his academic business, attending classes, lectures, and the occasional art show. On this particular evening Josh was returning from one of those shows in the art department. One of the ceramics grad students was showing her pots and bowls, and Josh had gone to see them. When he got back to his residence hall, he noticed two people in black business suits. When they saw him, they approached.
"Joshua Mankey," the tall man with long blond hair asked.
"That's me. Who are you?"
The man smiled. "You can call me Ricochet. My colleague here is Recoil." The brunette woman beside him nodded. "We have a business proposition for you."
"Not interested," Josh said. "If you're not gonna give me real names, then I don't have the time."
"You haven't heard out offer," Recoil said. "It's something that you will be most interested in."
"Oh yeah?" Josh asked incredulously. "And what's that?"
"We have something in common, Josh. Can I call you 'Josh?'" Ricochet had the look of a salesman on his face. "We both had something very valuable taken from us by Ron Stoppable. I'm giving you the opportunity to take it back."
Josh Mankey's eyes lit up. "I'm listening."
"Come with us, Josh," Recoil said. "Here's what Team Ricochet has to offer..."
Team Possible face Team Ricochet in "Retaliation."