Disclaimer: The characters in this story belong to Disney. I'm not making any money off of them-- I just enjoy their company.
Kim looked up from her book when she heard the front door open downstairs. "Hey, hon," she called out. "How was babysitting?"
When a few seconds passed without any answer, she frowned. Maybe I should have gone with. But after five months, pregnancy was finally starting to take its toll—not that she would have ever admitted it—so when Ron had insisted that he could handle Hana on his own while his parents went out to celebrate their anniversary, she hadn't put up much of a fight.
She turned her eyes back to the book, but her focus was lost. She found herself straining instead to hear the comfortably familiar sounds coming from downstairs. His keys dropping onto the little table by the door. His jacket being shucked and draped across the couch (instead of the hook, she sighed inwardly). His feet shuffling slowly up the stairs.
Ron appeared in the doorway a moment later, shoulders slumped, clothes rumpled and hair even more disheveled than usual. She raised a questioning eyebrow.
He took two steps forward and then collapsed face down onto the bed beside her.
"That good, huh?" Kim asked.
Ron groaned into the comforter in response.
After a few minutes of watching him lie there motionless, Kim quietly reached over, grabbed his hand and placed it on her belly.
Ron turned his head to give her a questioning look, but his eyes widened suddenly at the sensation of a gentle bump, bump, bump against the palm of his hand.
Kim smiled at him. "Baby says 'hi.'"
He smiled back, then moved his gaze down to where his hand rested, still tingling at the feeling of the tiny kicks.
Ron stared up at the ceiling, wondering when sleep had gotten to be so difficult. He glanced over at the alarm clock, sighing as its display changed from 1:29 to 1:30.
"Ron," Kim grumbled, startling him from his thoughts. "Go to sleep."
"Sorry, KP. I was trying to keep quiet."
"That's the problem," she said, rolling over to face him. "I can't sleep without the sound of you snoring."
Ron smiled a little in spite of his mood. "You never told me that."
"I never realized it before," she said with a wry grin. "You're usually out like a light. So what's the sitch?"
His smile disappeared. "Nothing."
Ron knew there was no arguing with that tone. He swallowed thickly. "KP, what if I'm not cut out for this?"
"Sleep? Trust me, Ron, I've seen you do it. You're an expert."
"Ki-im," he whined. "I'm serious."
She sighed. "Babysitting Hana really went that badly?"
"Let me put it this way: Between her and Cousin Shawn, I'm starting to think seven is some sort of peak age for evil in the Stoppable family."
"Well, then, at least you'll have seven years to prepare before our daughter tries to join up with Drakken and Shego."
Ron's expression showed that he did not find that idea in the least bit amusing. Kim sighed again. When did he become the serious one in this relationship?
"Ron, your sister is not evil. She's… spirited. And besides, being a father is so not the same as being a big brother-slash-babysitter. It's Hana's job to give you a hard time."
"I guess that's true…" he said slowly. Then he actually brightened a little. "Plus, it's not like Hana's a normal kid, right? I mean, she's got crazy ninja skills!"
"Riiight," Kim said with a playful smirk. "And I'm sure the offspring of a Possible and the Ultimate Monkey Master will be perfectly normal."
She regretted the teasing words almost instantly as Ron's eyes widened in what could only be described as terror.
"Ron, listen to me." She reached out and took his face in her hands. "You're going to be a great father."
"Yeah, tell that to Sackies I through MCMXXXIIII." He shuddered. "I still can't look at a bag of flour the same way."
"To be fair, Sacky 1,934 was a bag of sugar."
"Don't remind me," he grumbled.
Okay, Kim thought, time to bring out the big guns. She leaned over and brought her lips to his for a slow, lingering kiss.
But when she pulled back, instead of the look of contentment that she had been hoping to see, he was staring back at her through narrowed eyes.
"I know what you're trying to do, Kim."
"Oh?" she cooed innocently. "What's that?"
"You're using your wiles on me!" he accused.
Kim struggled to stifle a giggle. "Well, is it working?"
He sighed. "Only sort of."
Kim's suppressed mirth was replaced with concern. "Hey," she said, reaching for his hand and giving it a squeeze. "We can do anything, right?"
He gave her a skeptical look. "I thought that was your line."
"What's mine is yours, dear," she said, placing a quick kiss on the end of his nose.
That finally got a watery smile from him. He sighed and pulled her closer. "Thanks, KP," he said, kissing her forehead. "Let's get some sleep."
She looked up at him. "Are you sure?"
"Oh yeah," he said. "I'm an expert on the sleep thing, remember?"
"Ron, I'm sorry about joking—"
"You don't have anything to apologize for, Kim. I'm just trying to restore the balance. I'm not supposed to be the serious one in this relationship, you know."
"But you know you can be whenever you need to, right? Even in the middle of the night."
"Yeah, I know." She was relieved that she could hear a smile in his voice. "And you feel free to be the goofy one whenever you need to, too."
Kim chuckled. "Thanks."
"'Night, Kim," Ron mumbled softly.
"Good night, Ron. Sleep tight."
Kim listened as his breathing slowed and evened. She smiled as it turned to snoring.
But even now that he was finally asleep, Ron seemed restless, twitching and sighing uneasily.
Forget the big guns, Kim decided. It's time to call in the big rockets…
Ron couldn't help it. The half-empty bag of flour on the counter might not have had a face drawn on it, but he could still feel it staring disapprovingly at him as he ladled more batter onto the griddle.
If there was one thing Ron was enjoying about pregnancy, it was the chance to use his culinary skills to pamper his wife. So when Kim had announced that morning that she was craving something "retro," he had hesitated only briefly before heading dutifully into the kitchen and pulling out the flour. He knew that even his recently reawakened Sacky-induced guilt would be no match for the pregnant puppy dog pout.
Now, however, the wielder of said weapon of mass persuasion had already eaten her pancakes and left for work. Now it was just him and the flour. And it wouldn't... stop... staring—
"Cut it out!" Ron finally shouted, slamming down the bowl of batter. He scooped up the sack of flour, shoved it into a cupboard, and closed the door with a satisfying slam. "There, ha!" he cried, crossing his arms and sticking out his tongue triumphantly. "Try to make me feel bad now."
The knocking sound that followed that challenge nearly sent him into a faint.
Then he realized that the knocking wasn't coming from the cabinet, or even the kitchen, but from the front door. Slapping a hand to his forehead, he walked into the living room.
Ron peered through the peephole to see his father-in-law standing on the doorstep wearing a t-shirt and a pair of sweats. An odd feeling tickled at the back of his mind as he opened the door.
"Hi, Mr. Dr. P."
"Good morning, Ronald," James said with a cheerful wave. "I was just out for a jog—Anne's got me on a new exercise regimen since I hit the big 5-0—and I thought I'd drop by and say hello."
"Oh. Well, uh… hello," Ron replied, feeling that tickle again. "Sorry, but you just missed Kim."
"Oh," said James, not sounding the least bit surprised by that fact.
Now Ron recognized that feeling. It was exactly the same feeling he'd had last night when Kim had tried to use her wiles on him. Okay, not exactly the same feeling—that would be wrongsick!—but the same general feeling at least. Suspicion.
"Um, would you like to come in? My shift doesn't start for a few hours yet, so I was just making some—" His eyes widened suddenly, and he turned and ran toward the kitchen, yelling, "Pancakes!"
Ron set one plateful of pancakes in front of his father-in-law before taking a seat opposite him with his own stack. The kitchen was still a little smoky, but not enough to excuse letting the few perfectly good pancakes he had managed to make get cold.
James set into his stack with gusto—what Anne didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
Ron, on the other hand, poked at his pancakes a few times before setting his fork down and staring across the table. "So, Kim told you about my freak-out last night, huh?"
James chewed slowly, obviously considering his options. Finally, he swallowed. "She might have mentioned something like that," he said, apparently settling on honesty. "She thought maybe it would help to talk, you know, father-to-father... only if you want to, of course."
Ron sighed, picking up his fork again and stabbing half-heartedly at his breakfast a few more times. Without looking up, he spoke. "Mr. Dr. P, when you and Mrs. Dr. P were expecting Kim, did you feel, you know… ready?"
"Not in the least."
Ron's head snapped up in surprise. "Really?"
James chuckled. "Frankly, I was terrified."
"But—but you're a rocket scientist!"
"Oddly enough, Ronald, they didn't offer any classes on diaper changing or 3 am feedings at MIST."
"I just mean…." Ron waved his hand in the air, searching for the right words to explain. "I worry I'm not going to be a good father because, well, I've never been good at much of anything."
James frowned. "Now that is simply not true, Ronald. For one thing," he said, gesturing to his half-eaten breakfast, "you make a mean pancake."
Ron raised an eyebrow and stared pointedly at the smoldering pile of blackened pancakes on the counter.
"Okay, bad example," James admitted. "But you have faced down more villains bent on taking over the world than you can shake a stick at, mastered monkey kung fu, and set running back records at Middleton High and Go City U." Ron brightened a little and James smiled. "And furthermore, I have it on good authority that you're a great husband. Ronald, I know you've never exactly been in the running for overachiever of the year, but you've never failed to step up when Kimmie needed you to—or even when you just thought she did."
Ron shrugged. "I love her, Dr. P."
"Exactly. And the second you hold that little girl in your arms for the first time, trust me—you'll be head over heels for her, too."
Ron thought back to the night before, to the feeling of a tiny foot kicking against his hand, and smiled. "Yeah, I already am."
James nodded knowingly. "You wouldn't be 'freaking' about failing her if you weren't."
"I hadn't thought of it like that before."
"Ronald, I'd be lying if I told you that it'll all be easy or that you'll never make mistakes or feel like you're in way over your head." Ron's smile began to fade again, and James continued quickly. "But what I can tell you truthfully is that you don't need to be a rocket scientist, or anything else, to be a great father. You just need to love her. The rest will follow." He reached across the table to place a hand on Ron's shoulder. "Trust me."
Ron's smile returned. "I think I can do that."
James grinned. "I know you can."
"Thanks, uh, Dad." Ron picked up his fork and actually took a bite of his pancakes this time. "I guess KP had the right idea."
"She usually does," James said with a wink. "So I take it you're feeling better?"
"Yeah, I am," Ron said, sounding almost surprised. He swallowed another mouthful of pancake. "Thanks for the pep talk."
"No problem, Ron. After all, we fathers have to stick together." James' expression turned thoughtful. "Especially those of us with girls." He suddenly pulled his PDA from the pocket of his sweats.
Ron watched him fiddle with the device for a few moments before curiosity got the best of him. "What are you doing?"
"Scheduling another father-to-father talk," James answered matter-of-factly. "How's June 7th, 2028, for you?"
James nodded. "If my calculations are correct, that should be around the time that she starts talking about 'hotties' at the breakfast table."
Ron dropped his head to the table and groaned.