by "The Enduring Man-Child"

All standard disclaimers apply.

This isn't the "big project" I'm taking time out from "Scenes from a Summer" to write, but this particular plot bunny simply would not let go.

This takes place when Kim and Ron are still little kids and offers one reason for the unusual durability of their friendship and why Kim has always treated him so uncharacteristically gently (for her gender) with her Magical Female Powers(tm).

As always, thanks to rye dot bread for the beta!

As usual, little Kimmie found her friend Ron in his tree house. She joined him eagerly but found something else that was most unusual—little Ron seemed very sad about something.

"Ron? What's wrong?" she had to know. He didn't seem at all willing to tell her. "Ron? Please?"

He sniffed a little. "I'm sad because I like you so much but I know that we can't stay friends," he told her at last.

She was absolutely dumbfounded. "Why can't we?" she asked when she had regained her voice.

"My cousin Reuben came for a visit," he told her slowly. "And when I told him about you he said that was nice but too bad it wouldn't last. I asked him why and he said he used to be friends with a girl and wasn't any more and that he knew what he was talking about."

"Oh , Ron!" she reassured him, "that was just a problem between the two of them. It's got nothing to do with us."

Ron quietly wiped a tear from his eye and continued.

"He said that's the way it is with boys and girls. He said that they could be friends when they're little, but after that girls get these magical powers and get real snobby. He said they make guys feel funny all over and scared and give off 'girl waves' so bad that a boy can't even talk to them any more."

Fascinated (since she had never heard any such thing during her occasional confidential "girl talks" with her mother), Kim remained silent and gave him all the time he needed to continue.

"And he said when a girl does talk to a boy she makes him feel so stupid that he'll do anything she says and can't say no. It's like she makes him her slave."

His voice sank to a whisper.

"He said he knows one guy who went blind just from lookin' at girls."

Kim had had enough. "Ron, that's the stupidest stuff I've ever heard!" she told him. "I've never heard of such a thing! He's just teasing you!"

"Oh yeah?" Ron asked, racked with the pangs of childhood emotion, "well for your information Reuben is in junior high school. That's where you learn what life is really all about."

"Then how do you explain our parents, Ron? Or all the other parents in the world? Why aren't the fathers slaves or stupid or scared or blind?"

This presented young Ronald with a thorny problem he hadn't considered, so he devoted some time and gray matter to thinking about it.

"Um...because they're married?" he offered at last.

Kim wasn't sure what to make of this. Maybe he was right? Maybe that's why mothers and fathers married each other. She certainly couldn't think of any other reason. But why hadn't her mother ever told her this?

"And I'm gonna miss you, Kim. You're my best friend. Other than Rufus you're my only friend. And...and he's not real!" He looked at her with all the pain of this new knowledge on his face. "It's gonna be so lonesome when I don't have any real friends. I just...don't forget about me, okay?" And the tears came freely.

Kim wasn't feeling so very hot herself right now. For all she knew, Ron's cousin had been telling the truth (after all, how does one contradict someone who's been to junior high school?). And she felt as close to him as he did to her. So far, he was also her only friend, and a near constant companion as well. Losing that friendship was something awful to contemplate. Maybe that's why her mother hadn't told her about all this yet. Maybe that was "the talk" she had heard whispers about on occasion.

For some few moments she remained silent. Nothing could be heard but Ron's sniffles. Finally she looked up at him.

"Does a girl have to do those things to a boy if she doesn't want to?" she asked him.

"Huh?" he said, wiping his face with his shirt.

"I said does a girl have to do those things to a boy if she doesn't want to? You know, make him stupid and stuff?"

"I don't know," Ron confessed to her. "Reuben didn't say anything about that. Maybe they all want to?"

"But I won't want to do that to you!" she protested. "And you know something? I won't do that to you! I like you too much!"

"Y—you won't? You really mean that?" he asked, his voice now full of hope.

"No I won't!" she said, determination blazing in her green eyes. And she crossed her arms in a most determined manner that showed that she meant business.

"So you won't make me stupid?"

"Of course not. I like you smart like you are now."

"And you won't make me your slave?"

"No. That'd be mean," she said with sincerity.

"And you won't make me feel funny?"

"Only when I tickle you," she promised.

"And what about when your 'girl waves' are making every other boy afraid to come near you?"

"I'll turn 'em off for you!" she assured him.

"Even when the other girls don't like it?" he asked, afraid of what the answer might be.

"I'll tell 'em to shut up!" she said. "I don't care what they say! They can say, 'Kim, why don't you make that boy feel funny?' or 'Kim, let's make that boy feel stupid and scared' and I'll tell 'em to bug off or I'll give 'em a knuckle sandwich!" Here she made a fist. "I'll tell 'em 'this boy is my best friend and he's gonna stay my best friend, and if you don't like it then watch out or I'll make you feel funny and stupid instead!" She finished with all the confidence she possessed.

"Wow, Kim. Thanks. I mean—but I don't think that 'girl waves' work on other girls. Only on boys."

"Then I guess we'll find out!" she said.

For a moment both children were aglow with their plan and the certitude it offered. Then Ron thought of something else.

"Um...how will I keep from going blind if I look at you?" he asked finally.

Kim thought for only a moment before she answered. "I guess we'll just have to get married," she told him.

"You'd do that for me?" he asked.

"I sure would!" she said. "Besides, if mommies and daddies are supposed to be best friends, then we've already found who we're gonna marry. Why would either of us look for someone else for a best friend when we're best friends already?"

For some time both were silent.

"So...problem solved?" Ron asked after a while.

"Problem solved!" she assured him.

"Well...that takes care of that," he said. "Only what are we gonna do now?"

Kim pondered. At last she had an idea.

"Well...we could go out and dig for worms...or we could eat cookies and open our mouths and gross each other out."

"Why don't we do both?" he suggested.

"Okay. I'll rock paper scissor you for which we do first. If I win we do the cookies first; if you win we do the worms."

"Okay!" he said, all earlier trouble and heartbreak now forgotten.

The worms won.