Gift, by DoofusPrime
Notes: This is a one-shot entry for whitem's MMP challenge, found in his thread on the Kim Possible Discussion Forum. Hope you guys enjoy it.
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.
Cherry blossoms, floating in a light breeze. A sharpness, faint and cool, lingering in the spring air. Sparrows chirping merrily, some perched on cherry trees inside the walls of Yamanouchi, and some hidden farther away, beyond the ancient stone walls that wrapped the school grounds in their embrace. Ron could sense all of these things. Smell, hear, taste. Though he was still inside Yamanouchi's pagoda, they were all right beside him – or, in another sense, maybe he was right beside all of them.
A few years had passed since high school, but it felt like much longer. Ron had honed his powers through training, allowing him to sense many things. He was more in tune with nature, more in tune with the Mystical Monkey Power, and yet less in tune with himself. Sometimes he didn't feel like Ron Stoppable anymore. Sometimes he felt like he was turning into someone else. Something else. He missed his friends; training absorbed all his attention, more grueling than high school had ever been, and Yamanouchi didn't give him much time for breaks. Which was why Ron was happy to sense his friends now, just beginning to make their way across the bridge that crossed a deep rift between cliffs to reach Yamanouchi.
"I believe our guests have arrived," said Sensei.
It wasn't surprising that his teacher had sensed them. Sensei probably knew they had been approaching the school long before Ron had. "Yes, Master Sensei," he said. "I'll go and greet them."
Ron got up from his lotus position – he remembered long ago, beginning his training, when his legs had groaned in protest at being stretched like that. Now, it took no effort. He stepped outside the pagoda and walked over the slate path that cut through the training grounds, nodding to ninjas as he passed. His feet barely touched the ground – when he concentrated, he could even float, although it was nothing compared to Sensei's powers.
Past the gate in the stone walls, past a rockier path that meandered out to the edge of the crag on which Yamanouchi was nestled, Ron came upon the bridge just as his friends finished crossing it. He smiled and held his arms open wide as Kim rushed towards him. Even with all his powers, Kim's enthusiastic leap into his arms was enough to make him take a step back – just barely. They kissed passionately. It was the first time Ron had seen her in months. Behind her, Monique and Felix gave him a warm smile.
"Nice to see you, dude," said Felix. "Thanks for inviting us to Japan and everything, but how come you made us hike all the way up here? You can't even meet us at the bus stop at the base of the mountain?"
"Hey, you got transportation," said Monique, nodding her head in the direction of Felix's hoverchair. "I had to walk all the way up here! And it's not like I have calves of steel from freak fighting all the time like Kim. My feet are killin' me!"
Ron smiled as he motioned for them to join him.
"Come with me. You can rest at Yamanouchi."
Unfortunately for Monique, Yamanouchi had a noticeable lack of Western-style chairs sitting around. But even Ron had been surprised when Master Sensei pulled a bean bag chair out from a storage room – a souvenir from a trip to America many years ago, he told them – and offered it to his guest. He was glad to see Monique looking well-rested now that some time had passed. Kim had done a little catching up with Sensei while Ron had introduced Felix to some of the ninjas. But now, it was time for Ron to carry out his test.
"So, I'm a little confused," said Monique. "Is your training finished?"
Ron laughed – it was like she had read his mind. "No," he said, shaking his head. "I still have to take a final test, which determines whether or not I take the Yamanouchi code and become a ninja."
"And when's that happen?"
Monique raised her eyebrows, a little surprised; Ron hadn't talked to her as much as he had with Felix and his girlfriend. Felix and Kim already knew why they had been invited to the school: to witness Ron's final test before he cast aside his white training gi and donned the jet-black garb of the Yamanouchi ninja. And between the two of them, only Felix knew all the details. Yamanouchi's rituals were very secretive, and Ron had only been able to invite his friends to be there for his final test after nudging and prodding his master – although he knew being the wielder of the Lotus Blade and Mystical Monkey Power was probably an influencing factor.
It also helped that Felix was an essential part of his test.
Master Sensei rose from the tatami mat floor of the pagoda, walking to the front entrance and sliding open the door. Translucent white paper fell away to reveal the bright spring morning sky. Sensei stepped out and beckoned for his student and guests to follow him. They stepped into the training grounds, and a number of ninjas stopped their exercises, aware of what was about to happen. Yori and Hirotaka, sparring together near a corner of the grounds, joined the group, looking about as excited as ninjas trained in the art of stoic silence could possibly look.
"It is time?" asked Yori.
"It is time," said Master Sensei. "Stoppable-san will now begin his test."
The ninjas assembled in a loose semi-circle around Ron, and his friends joined them, ready to watch whatever Ron was about to demonstrate. Ron gathered his senses.
"How's this test work, anyway?"
Monique broke the sudden silence around the school grounds. Several ninjas looked a little irritated at the interruption, but an amused smile crossed Sensei's wizened features.
"I am sorry," he told Monique. "I thought Stoppable-san had explained more throughly."
"Er, I guess I forgot," said Ron with a sheepish grin.
"This is Stoppable-san's final test as a Yamanouchi ninja in training. He must demonstrate why he is worthy to join our school as a ninja. The nature of the test is his to choose, and we have no knowledge of his choice. He may ask for volunteers and give us a physical demonstration of his skills, or – considering his powers - he may choose a more interesting demonstration. I personally hope it is the latter."
"Me too," said Felix, giving Ron a wink and a grin.
"What stops Ron from choosing something really easy?" asked Monique.
"That would not be a very good demonstration."
Monique nodded, admitting Sensei had a point. Ron got the feeling she was a little suspicious of him after all those group projects he had ignored in high school, leaving her to do the hard work. He couldn't blame her.
"Are you ready, Stoppable-san?"
"Yes, Master Sensei."
The ring of ninjas fell silent again. Ron nodded in Felix's direction, who piloted his hoverchair into the center of the loose ring of spectators, joining Ron as he gathered his willpower.
Years of training had given him power and skill in many areas: talent in various forms of martial arts, ninjitsu being the most obvious; skill in using his body as a weapon, or using weapons as a weapon; meditative powers, which helped hone his concentration and balance him emotionally, although his success there was limited; even survival skills, sharpened in the jagged mountainous wilderness which surrounded Yamanouchi. Ninjas like Yori and Hirotaka had been helpful and patient in teaching Ron many of those skills.
But a more personal tutelage under Master Sensei had given him a different kind of power, more all-encompassing, more profound: the Mystical Monkey Power.
After the Lorwardian invasion, Ron had been frightened by the way the power flared up, consuming him, emptying him of personality. He had spent sleepless nights thinking about the death of Warmonga and Warhok. He knew he was to blame, but was it justified? Did it make him a murderer? The only way to know, Ron thought, was to go to Yamanouchi and learn how to control his gift. Sensei had taught him the art of Tai Shing Pek Kwar, along with techniques on how to nurse the Mystical Monkey Power within him, letting it grow, gaining control over it.
Today, he was about to see just how much control he had.
Ron placed his hand on Felix's shoulder. His friend looked up at him from the hoverchair and gave him an encouraging nod. He was ready, and so was Ron.
A faint roaring came from far away. Like hearing the ocean through a conch shell. The cherry blossoms peppering the grounds and wafting through the air, the sparrows' chirps, the stone walls, the mountain teeth that tore jagged through the sky – all of it melted away into the dull roar. Ron was the center, and everything was receding. Falling away from him. Just like his friends and family had fallen away in his training, just like Ron had fallen away from himself. The roar grew louder, and there was a rush, like waves coming in, crashing, roiling, and his hand, his hand, it-
The waves coalesced into his hand. All of it shrank down into nothing, into a faint tingle.
He could feel himself floating. It wasn't unusual, as Ron had gained control of that power a while ago. He could feel Felix floating, although his hoverchair gave him that ability, but it was the power that was holding them both up now. The tingle in his hand spread into Felix's shoulder, just a tiny sensation, like Ron had been sitting on his arm the wrong way, but suddenly, he could feel.
He could feel.
He and Felix were one, sharing the same body.
Ron closed his eyes so he could experience the sensation more deeply. It was beautiful – something he had never felt before. He had the sensation that his legs were missing, beyond just the floating, like a part of his body was gone, and he knew it was his friend. Felix probably didn't feel the same way, because he was used to it, but Ron knew what he was feeling. There was nothing else. Only Felix, and himself.
The tingling sensation spread, and before long, Ron felt it passing through his body, traveling down and splitting into two paths as it began to fill the legs that were not there. It spread upwards, into his mind, growing more intense by the second until Ron started to feel like he couldn't stand it anymore – so bright, it was so bright – and his eyelids squeezed tighter as he tried to keep his concentration, and the tingling traveled down his legs like they were reattaching themselves to his body out of the ether, like a new part of himself was being born, a new Ron, a new Felix, and Felix could feel the tingling merging into one solid bright blue burst and the brand new skin resting against the metal of the hoverchair and the warm cloth of his pants resting over his legs and he stood, he stood, and Felix stood up from the wheelchair and felt the ground hugging the soles of his feet and-
Ron opened his eyes.
Everything was different.
The tingling, the constant presence of the Mystical Monkey Power coursing through his body like he was a living battery, the connection with Felix – it was all gone. Ron blinked as the world came back into focus, welcoming him back. He turned his mind inward and felt for his limbs. All there. But something was missing. A weight he had been living with over the past few years was lifted. He turned to his side and looked at his friend. He did not have to look down.
His friend was standing in front of his chair.
"Dude," said Felix. "I can walk."
It had worked. Ron had never tried anything on that scale before, but he had pulled it off. The power was gone from his body, poured into Felix, and now, his friend was standing up and walking around. Felix took one step, then another, looking at his legs in shock. He ran his hands over them, patted them, which was comical enough to make Ron laugh out loud. His friend laughed too.
"I can walk!"
Kim and Monique broke the circle of spectators and rushed towards Felix, pulling him into a hug that almost knocked him over. Felix was obviously not used to the new sensation – Ron was amazed he had even been able to keep his balance and take a few steps – and Kim grabbed him by the arm to keep him from toppling over. Felix took another step. Kim and Monique tried to steady him, holding his arms to keep him from stumbling, but Felix brushed them aside.
Ron felt a tear well into his eye. His choice had been selfish, in part, but he couldn't be happier at seeing his friend so excited about his newfound ability.
"Impressive, Stoppable-san," said Sensei.
Yori and Hirotaka exchanged confused looks.
"That was impressive," agreed Yori, "but I am confused. Do you still have your power, Ron-san?"
Ron shook his head. He turned his mind inwards once again, just to make sure, but there was definitely something missing, drained away for the first time in years.
"No, I don't. It's gone."
The ninjas had been awestruck at the sight of Felix rising up from his hoverchair, but they began to glance furtively at each other, confused whispers flitting back and forth over the school grounds. Master Sensei held up a hand to quiet them, but Yori, still confused, spoke up. "I do not understand – how is this a demonstration of Ron-san's worthiness to enter Yamanouchi? How could he forsake his destiny and give away his powers?"
Hirotaka nodded in agreement. "You gave away the Mystical Monkey Power for a single person? How could you do this? Think of all the people you could have saved, all the things you could have done with-"
"Silence!" said Master Sensei.
The ninjas grew quiet as their master took a step forward.
"Stoppable-san – please explain what you wanted to demonstrate with your final test."
Although Sensei was asking him an important question, Ron got the feeling he wasn't asking for his own benefit so much as for the benefit of his students. While Sensei was not a man of many words, he and Ron had talked about the nature of his power over the years of his training, and Ron got the feeling that his teacher understood the meaning of his choice. Why, for his final test, he had chosen to give his power away.
Killing the Lorwardians had changed Ron. He had gone to Yamanouchi in an attempt to understand the change, to harness his power and make sure it wouldn't change him any further, but all of his training – all of his newfound control – only made him feel like he was losing control in the long run. Losing control of Ron Stoppable, turning into someone he didn't want to be.
The power made him feel more than human, unstoppable – un-Stoppable, really. He had seen how the Mystical Monkey Power had warped Monkey Fist. He didn't have the same obsession with all things simian, but as Ron had gained more power, there was something in Monkey Fist that he understood more and more. As evil as the man was, he felt a certain sympathy for him. Monkey Fist had many victims, but he was also his own victim.
Ron also knew that a big ego was one of his weaknesses. He remembered the way getting so much money in Naco royalties had changed him, the way he could puff up so easily with recognition and a sense of self-importance. The Mystical Monkey Power separated him from others. It separated him from his friends, who were busy with college while he was in Japan. He didn't like that. In the long run, he didn't want that. He may have been chosen to wield the Lotus Blade and given the Mystical Monkey Power, but Sensei had taught him that following one's destiny involved making a choice.
Ron had been given great power. His choice was to give it away.
"I didn't like who I was becoming," he said, finally forming an answer to Sensei's question. "I'm not a person who can have that much power. I wanted to help my friend, and I wanted to be myself again."
It was the best way Ron could put it, and he knew he didn't need to say anything more. Whether or not Sensei thought it demonstrated his worthiness to join Yamanouchi as a ninja was another question, but Ron had said enough for his teacher to understand his intentions.
Some of the ninjas looked skeptical, including Yori and Hirotaka. Ron couldn't blame them; Hirotaka had made a valid point about the things Ron could have done with his power in fighting evil and protecting the helpless. A part of him wondered if he was giving away a responsibility, or an obligation. But in the end, Ron felt like it was the best choice.
Sensei stood like a statue, silently pondering Ron's reasoning. Finally, with a thoughtful stroke of his beard, he looked around at the crowd of ninjas surrounding him. "One must be strong to gain power," he said. "But one must be stronger to give it away."
He turned to Ron.
"You have the training to be an excellent ninja. Your action shows a self-awareness that you did not possess when you entered Yamanouchi as a new student. It demonstrates a knowledge of the danger that comes with power, and a kind-heart that will help you stay on the right path and put your ninja skills to good use. Congratulations, Stoppable-san. You are now a Yamanouchi ninja."
Ron felt himself beaming with pride. Kim, Monique, and Felix let out a trio of excited whoops, while ninjas-in-training and full-time ninjas gathered around him bowed respectfully. Yori's lips curled into an almost imperceptible smile, and while Hirotaka's face was as stony as ever, he could tell both of them seemed to understand his reasoning better after hearing what Master Sensei had said.
He stepped forward and bowed. His teacher returned the bow. Unable to resist, Ron raised his hand in the air. It took Sensei a moment to understand why, but when he did, they gave each other a high five. Ron grinned, already starting to feel like his old self again.
The initiation ceremony had been solemn and beautiful, involving a lot of incense, some torches, a few clanging bells, and the usual obligatory bowing. Sensei had told him about the process a long time ago, and from what Ron remembered, most of it was just for show. But it was memorable all the same. Ron knew he wouldn't be forgetting today for the rest of his life. Walking for the first time ever was probably a bigger deal than becoming a Yamanouchi ninja, however, and Ron was happiest when he thought about his friend.
He had completed the initiation ceremony an hour ago, and the Yamanouchi ninjas – including Ron's ancient nemesis, Lunch Lady-san – had assembled an outdoor lunch banquet to welcome him into their clan. Lunch Lady-san had offered Ron some sushi, pulling back at the last moment as she always did, although it was more of a joke than a test nowadays. But Ron had been surprised. Without his powers, he couldn't take his skills for granted anymore.
He almost missed the sushi with his chopsticks. Almost, but not quite.
Although Ron was honored by all the attention he was getting, he was more interested in the fact that his friend had been talking to Sensei in the pagoda for a long time now. Felix had been aware of Ron's plan before he came to Japan, and had agreed to accepting the power, even though neither of them knew exactly what that entailed. Based on his knowledge and experience, Ron had assumed it would alter Felix in a positive way, hopefully healing his disability – but as to whether Felix had any special powers beyond that, he didn't know. It remained to be discovered. Felix seemed interested in finding out. He and Kim had done missions together since Ron was so absorbed in Yamanouchi, and his friend had always been interested in freak fighting, as Kim and Monique liked to call it.
Ron couldn't help thinking that if Felix really did have Mystical Monkey Power, he had the kind of level head that might control it more easily and put it to good use.
"Ron-san," said Yori, "Congratulations."
Ron exchanged bows with his fellow ninja. She had been avoiding him for a little while during the banquet, but he was glad to hear her kind words. "I must admit," she said, "at first, I did not understand your choice to give away such power. But I think it is making more sense to me now. And what you did for your friend was very admirable."
"Thanks," said Ron. "But it was no big, really. It helped me just as much as it helped him – I didn't want the Mystical Monkey Power anymore, so he did me a favor."
Yori nodded. Kim and Monique, who had been stuffing themselves at one of the food-laden mats set up on the open school grounds, joined him. He noticed Felix had just left the pagoda, apparently done discussing things with Sensei. "What'd he say?" Ron asked when he joined the group.
"So are you gonna give Yamanouchi a try?"
Felix laughed. "I'll think about it. Right now I'm just going to enjoy walking around, though."
"What are you gonna do with the hoverchair?"
"Oh, I don't think I'll be giving that up anytime soon. I mean, walking's great and all, but I like flying, too. And when it comes to missions, that thing has more accessories than I know what to do with."
Ron laughed. He and his friend had talked about their decision weeks ago, while Ron was deciding what he wanted to do for his final test. He had wondered if giving Felix the Mystical Monkey Power in an attempt to heal his disability was somehow condescending – as if he was suggesting his friend was incomplete while he was in his hoverchair, or like he needed help with his problem. Felix had laughed him off, explaining that he got along just fine without the use of his legs, as he had grown up that way, but that it would be crazy to turn down the ability to walk. And that was good enough for Ron.
"So what's the plan now?" asked Monique. "You goin' on a mission with the ninjas or something?"
Ron shook his head. "Not yet. I'm sure we'll do some of that in the future, though."
"That is correct," said Yori. "And it will be your honor to be the first to rush into battle when we do, Ron-san."
"Say what? I'm the new guy! Shouldn't I be carrying the extra ninja stars or something?"
"You and your American-style jokes, Ron-san."
Yori left the group with a bow and a wink before returning to Hirotaka, who was having a laughter-filled conversation with a few of his fellow ninjas, looking like he had enjoyed one too many glasses of sake.
"So, have I said thank you?" asked Felix.
"There's gotta be some better way to thank you. I mean, I can walk, man. This is awesome!"
Ron grinned at Felix. He was glad to be with his group of friends for the first time in months. Over the last few hours, just like Felix, he had been getting used to his altered body. He was different without the Mystical Monkey Power, both physically and mentally. He had been drifting away from himself, turning into someone else - but now, he was starting to feel like the old Ron again. And the Ron Man was ready to have some fun.
"I know how to thank me," he said.
"You can come with me to Bueno Nacho. All of you."
Kim looked back at the banquet. "What, right now?"
"Yeah. I hear they just set one up in the town down at the base of the mountain."
Kim rolled her eyes and gave Ron an affectionate kiss. He was interested in seeing what a Bueno Nacho in Japan was like, although if they had sushi Nacos, he might be a little offended. But sushi Nacos or not, he just wanted to hang out with his friends, like they always did back in the day.
Yori and Hirotaka had often talked to Ron about how his powers were a gift. Maybe they were right, but Ron sometimes thought there was a fine line between a gift and a curse. He hoped Felix would make better use of the Mystical Monkey Power if it turned out he really had it. Ron was happy to be a part of Yamanouchi; he looked forward to using his training for good, but he didn't want to be consumed by his path, as he would have been if he had kept the power. And most of all, he was glad to have given his gift to Felix.
In a way, his friend had given him a gift by accepting that power. With a little less responsibility to worry about, with that weight lifted from his shoulders, hopefully he could reconnect with his loved ones. Hopefully, he could get back some of the life he had left behind. Being a part of Yamanouchi was nice, but right now? Ron couldn't wait to be himself again.
Notes: That's it, hope you guys liked it. Leave a review. This was originally going to be part of the ending of a much larger story, but I suppose I can always just plug it into that if I ever write it, although I doubt I will. And if you are into Ron-centered stories, you may like another story of mine called Draw!
Also, the final round of the Fannie Awards (a contest where KP fans vote for fics they like) is going on right now in the Kim Possible Discussion Forum. I have some nominations, including the story Draw! that I just mentioned, so you can vote for mine or any others you like. I strongly believe you should feel free to vote for any choice, just as long as the author starts with a "D" and ends with an "oofusPrime."
Just kidding. Sorta. :-p