Beyond the Stone, by DoofusPrime

Notes: Just wanted to warn that this is rated M and is kind of dark compared to what I normally write for Kim Possible. Reviews are always appreciated!

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. This work was not created for profit. No copyright infringement is intended.


Into the Earth

XX

"May he rest in peace."

The coffin was lowered into the earth's gaping maw. The eulogy ended and the rabbi stood in solemn silence. Kim Possible watched as her best friend disappeared into the soil. An entire future lost to the world of what might have been. Sealed in a wooden box, torn away from the world of what is. Gone.

I'll be back soon, KP!

She had seen his body briefly when it – no, he – was brought back to Middleton. In death, Ron's looks had the same boyish charm that they had held in life. She had not been allowed to see him again. Open casket funerals were not a part of Jewish custom. She imagined him inside the coffin with a smile on his face, seemingly unharmed, fast asleep. His clothing would hide the stomach wound that had killed him.

You know I'll keep in touch, Kim.

Kim had asked him not go to to Japan. She knew it was selfish, but she wanted to spend the summer with him before they began college. They were not going to be in the same university, and Kim felt insecure about the idea of being apart from her best friend, her boyfriend, for the first significant period of time in her life. She had been a little insecure about Yori as well, but she trusted Ron. It was the idea of losing him, being away from him, that bothered her the most. Little did I know, Kim thought bitterly.

It's going to be good for me!

Kim looked at the mourners at the funeral. Ron's parents were the most prominent; his mother stared into space, and his father looked like he had grown years older in the last few days. Kim's own parents, to whom Ron had been almost like another child, were trying their best to look composed. Some of Ron's friends and acquaintances from Middleton high school were attending; Felix Renton had traveled back to Middleton to attend. Monique stood beside Kim and squeezed her shoulder with a reassuring hand.

The cantor began to chant a memorial prayer as he stood beside the rabbi. The words were meaningless echoes to Kim. Like her head was underwater. Ron had grounded her, kept her feet to the earth. Now that he was gone, she was not there. She saw that Sensei and Yori were not here, either; it was just as well. Kim did not know what would have happened if she had seen either of them at the funeral.

She found herself thinking back to scraps of the conversation that she had shared with Ron before he left for Japan. Strings of Ron's voice floated through her mind, twisting through corners, fading in and out like reflections on water. How long would it take before she forgot the sound of his voice? How long would it take before she forgot his face?

I've got your back, KP.

Ron's face was clear in her mind as his parents and relatives approached the grave, beginning to shovel earth into the hole. It was customary, cathartic supposedly, but Kim could not imagine being able to do it. It was too final. Once the dirt came down, that was all. She had the strangest feeling that Ron would be bothered by the sound of the dirt hitting his coffin. It upset her so much that she almost shifted, as if she was going to tell them to stop. Monique squeezed harder on Kim's shoulder, sensing her best friend's distress.

"It's gonna be alright, girl. Just hang in there."

Kim leaned against her friend. She did not cry. She had cried enough already, until there was nothing left in her. She knew Monique meant well, but her friend was wrong. Nothing was alright. This was not the way things should be.

XX

Days had passed since the funeral, and Kim was at home in bed. The bedsheets were haphazardly flung across her body. She lay on her side and gazed at a picture of herself as a child, with Ron, that she had taken off of the wall. Her cellphone lay on the bedside table, but it was turned off. She was tired of people calling her and offering their condolences.

"Kim?"

Her mother's voice traveled into Kim's loft from the floor entrance. Kim did not answer. Anne Possible herself appeared in the entrance and watched her daughter with a look of concern.

"Kimmie, you know that it would be a good idea to talk to a therapist soon. Just to talk about what's happened."

Kim's only response was to shift slightly in bed, which Anne took as a sign that her daughter was listening.

"Talking to someone about it would help you."

Kim was still silent. Anne approached the bed and sat down beside Kim's prone form, noticing the picture of her daughter and Ron on the bedside table. Anne missed Ron herself; she had been disappointed by the idea that Ron would not be showing up at their door in the mornings to eat breakfast once he went to college. Now he would never be showing up at their door. Still, she knew she had to say something to her daughter, even though she did not know how to find the words.

"Honey... I know it's hard to deal with this. Ron's been a part of your life for so long, but you can't let that make you withdraw from everything. You have to start taking those first steps towards moving on. Ron wouldn't want to see you unhappy, you know. He'd want to see you trying to get better, maybe back to your missions when you're ready, because he knew that you could do anything."

"I knew Ron shouldn't have gone to Japan."

Anne frowned. Her daughter seemed to be ignoring her. She wished she was better at handling such a delicate situation; it was difficult enough to deal with at the hospital, but when it came to talking about someone that had been so close to both of them, she was at a loss.

"Kim, you can't change the past. Ron is gone now. I'm sorry."

Kim was unresponsive for a moment, but sat up in bed and sniffed, as if she was considering what her mother had said. Ron was gone. She got out of bed and put on fresh clothing, slipped on a pair of shoes that lay beside her bed as Anne watched her.

"Where are you going, Kimmie?"

"Out."

"Are you sure you don't want to talk more?"

"No. You're right, mom. I can't lay around doing nothing. I need to take action."

Kim did not notice her mother's confused expression as she walked down the loft stairs. She passed Jim and Tim's room and knocked on the door. The twins were inside, working on some kind of electronic device; they had not bothered her since Ron's funeral, not just because they knew they would get in trouble, but because they recognized it was not the time and place. They were also unhappy. As much as they enjoyed picking on Ron from time to time, he was family to them.

"Hey sis," Jim said.

"How are you doing?" Tim continued.

"I'm doing alright, guys. I'm going out for a while. I just wanted to tell you two how much I love you."

"Aww, gross!"

Kim managed a weak smile and leaned over to kiss both of them on their foreheads. She left the room and continued downstairs, finding her father in the kitchen with a newspaper. It was a familiar sight, one that she normally enjoyed seeing, even if it was hard for anything to lift her spirits now. She approached her father and kissed him on the cheek.

James looked at his daughter in surprise; Anne had apparently been successful in getting to Kim this time. "Well, hello there Kimmie-cub! Nice to see you up and around. Did you give any thought to what your mother said?"

"Yes. I'm just going out."

"What about some breakfast before you leave?"

"That's alright." She gave her father a hug. "You know I love you, dad."

"Of course, Kimmie. I love you too."

James looked at his daughter. He was glad to see Kim moving around and deciding to get a bit of fresh air, and he was always glad to hear his daughter tell him she loved him, but her behavior seemed a little bit off. But then, he knew it would be a while before his daughter would be her old familiar self again.

Kim opened the kitchen door and stepped into the morning air. Her mother had sparked something in her. She was not happy, and she knew that she could never get over Ron, but she had a purpose. She would not be coming home until she got what she wanted. Perhaps it was far-fetched. Perhaps it was even impossible. But for Kim, anything was possible.

XX

It did not take long for Kim to find Drakken and Shego's new lair. She could not ask Wade for directions since she did not want to involve him in the mission. Kim knew he would not approve. However, Drakken seemed to insist on building his lairs on top of prominent cliffs and rocky outcroppings, making them hard to miss even if one wasn't looking for them.

Kim finally clawed her way up to the top of the rock face and gazed at the sight that greeted her. Drakken's lair seemed different than it had looked in the past. It was less threatening, less imposing. It almost seemed like the offspring of a lair and a normal house. The walls were still thick, and searchlights still jutted out from the crenellated wall tops, but the lair's doorway seemed almost inviting. A slate walkway led up to the door, bordered by colorful flowers and hedges. Kim approached the door and looked down; a welcome mat told her to Keep Out! but the style of the letters was friendly and inviting.

Kim opened the door, which was unlocked, and entered the lair without bothering to knock. The inside of the lair was equally confounding; there were computer terminals and what looked like workstations, but the work benches were mostly devoid of the debris that Kim normally found. A big-screen television was the most dominant feature of the lair. Well-padded couches and chairs gathered around the television like they were waiting to see a show themselves. Potted plants dotted the room.

"Kim Possible!"

Drakken appeared from around a corner. He was dressed in his normal blue coat and black boots, but instead of black gloves he was wearing oven mitts. A white chef's apron, draped over his blue coat, read "Kiss the Cook!" His tiny hands held a tray of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. Shego appeared behind him and looked equally surprised at the intruder.

Kim thought they looked like a married couple; she hadn't heard much from them since their appearance at the United Nations conference, and had no idea whether they were in some kind of relationship. To be honest, she didn't particularly care... she was there for other reasons.

"We haven't done anything bad lately, I swear!" squealed Drakken.

Shego seemed to realize that Kim was not there for the usual reasons. "Hello, Princess. What brings you here?" she asked.

"Ron."

Drakken set the tray of cookies down on a coffee table between the couch and the television. Shego set down a pair of milk-filled glasses she had been holding, and they both sat down, inviting Kim to do the same. They looked uncomfortable; they had probably heard about Ron on the news already. He wasn't famous, but being Kim Possible's sidekick was enough to get a blurb on television.

"I heard," said Drakken. "It was sad news. He was a worthy opponent."

Kim said nothing, but she seemed to be looking at Drakken's laboratory equipment with interest, as sparse as it now was.

"So what brings you to my lair? Do you want to... talk?" asked Drakken hesitantly.

"No." Kim got up from the couch and walked over to some of Drakken's equipment. "I need to get Ron back."

Drakken shifted uncomfortably.

"I thought that, being a mad scientist, maybe you had some way to do that."

"I'm afraid not, Kim Possible. I am indeed all that when it comes to inventions, but I do not think my abilities extend to life and death. There are other things that could be done, however."

"Like what?"

Drakken took a bite from one of the cookies and washed it down with a drink of milk. "A synthodrone could be created that imitated Ron's personality."

Kim thought about the idea. Eric had been convincing, there was no doubt about that. She knew Drakken was talented enough to fool her into thinking a synthodrone was a real human being. But could he fool her into thinking that Ron was still there? She would know that it was a synthodrone. Not only that, but Eric had been new, unfamiliar. As much as a synthodrone might seem like Ron at first, she doubted that Drakken could capture the understanding that came from a lifetime of growing up with someone, observing their tics, their behavior, their many naunces.

Even if Drakken could capture those nuances in a synthodrone, even if she could have her memory of Ron's death erased, Kim would be fooling herself. She'd be entering into a false relationship. Giving up her self-awareness, lying to herself, in a sense. Something about the idea made Kim's skin crawl.

"I don't think I could do that."

Drakken nodded. "I could make a clone of the bu – of Ron, if you had a sample of his DNA. Maybe from his hair." This time it was Shego that looked as if her skin was crawling.

Kim considered Drakken's new suggestion. The clone seemed to present many of the same problems as a synthodrone. It still wouldn't be Ron. Not only that, but a clone would only capture Ron's physical characteristics to some extent. Kim didn't think that personality and memories could be cloned... although, when she considered inventions like the Attitudinator and the Moodulator, she had to wonder.

She was forced to dismiss the idea of cloning as well. When it came down to it, Kim did not want a copy or an imitation of Ron, even if it was enough to fool her. She wanted Ron.

"No, we couldn't clone him either."

Drakken shrugged as he finished another cookie. "Then I'm afraid I don't know of any other options. Science and technology can give great power, but there are limits to what can be done with the laws of nature." He considered offering Kim some cookies and a glass of milk, but he had the feeling that she did not want to stick around and chat.

Kim nodded. "I didn't really think anything could be done. But I had to ask. Thanks anyway."

She got up and walked back to the lair's entrance. Drakken and Shego could not help her, but she was not out of options yet. She needed to pay a visit to the people that she held responsible for Ron's death. The people that had stolen him from her.

"Kim," said Shego before her red-headed foe could disappear out the door.

Kim may have been her arch enemy, but Shego felt a certain amount of sympathy. She remembered Ron's display of power when the Warlordians had invaded, the way his entire body had glowed with blue fire as he destroyed them. Shego had never thought much of Kim's sidekick, but after seeing that display, she regretted never getting the chance to test herself against him in battle.

"Yeah?"

"You might have to accept the fact that Stoppable isn't coming back."

The only response Shego heard was the sound of a door slamming shut.

XX

Beneath the cargo plane, a mountain reared up into the evening sky. Nestled in its crags, reachable from the ground only by a long narrow rope bridge, was an ancient ninja training center known as Yamanouchi. Kim was hitching a ride there; the overland journey would take far too long. She had questions, and hopefully, Yamanouchi's caretaker would have answers.

"Looks like we're almost there, Miss Possible."

"Thanks," said Kim in an emotionless voice.

"It's the least I could do after you helped save my son from that wildebeest stampede!"

The pilot expected Kim to respond for some reason, but no response came. Kim made her way to the cargo hatch and opened it, tightening the straps of her parachute backpack. It was difficult to see anything, but she could make out general shapes as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. As soon as she caught the telltale glimpse of ornate rooftops below her, she leaped into the night.