okay so welcome back. been ironing out a couple details and such, but there's a lot of new stuff for you today. first, here's your ILAW update. this comes accompanied by a chapter 24.5, entitled 'Meteor Shower' so check that out too.
also, i was in a mood, and i wrote a tragedy. well... angst/tragedy. it's called 'In This Life'. It's songfic-ish to James Blunt's "I'll Take Everything" and it's probably one of the most emotional things i've ever written. i really hope you guys like it. it's not related to ILAW so no worries... remember, i promised a happy ending for this story.
hope you guys enjoy the new stuff,
Where does it hurt?
Tell me 'cuz I understand
The words of the heart
Beating like wings in my head
We can't hide, we'll never lie
I'll always see into you...
So whenever you crash
Wherever you land
That's where I'll be
~Alexz Johnson, Where Does It Hurt?
We arrive in Japan and make the ten mile hike up the mountain. Ron reminisces about his first time doing it.
"Of course I packed like eight billion things, and I had to drag them all up the mountain. I was dying by the time I got up there. Oh and my nacos were all smashed up and soggy. I was so upset..."
I chuckle. "Silly."
"Yeah yeah." He laughs too. "The worst part of it all was that Yori was doing the hike in her school girl outfit, you know, and she was all like 'Come on, Stoppable-San,' and this and that, and she was doing this hike like it was a walk in the park in Lowerton, which is like two feet wide. I should have known this wasn't a normal school at that point."
"And I'm sure the only reason she had so much patience is because she was so charmed by your American-style—"
"Can we please not go there? I'm begging."
I kiss his cheek. "Okay. Are you hungry?"
"Oh KP, baby, you should know me by now."
We take a break for lunch and he keeps telling me about his adventures and misadventures in this place. It makes me happy to see that even though his powers cause him so much pain and bitterness, he still holds this school and its people in high regard.
When we get to the school, one of the students lets us in and welcomes us with a deep bow. Ron returns the bow with a smile. They speak for a moment and then he takes my hand and tugs me through the school and down a secluded path that leads to a... garden?
"I spent a lot of time here when I first left... I helped them build it," he says quietly, dropping my hand and moving toward the center of the large space.
I look around. It feels surreal, like something out of a movie. Climbing roses and ivy climb up and over the stone walls. A small pond was built. It's irregularly shaped, and it has a small cascade that leads to a lower portion of it where there are koi fish. Thousands of flowers grow all over the place, and the path gives way to a carpet of the softest grass I've ever seen. There are lanterns in certain areas, amongst the flowers and shrubs and around the small pond, giving the garden an almost ethereal glow.
"Do you like it?"
I wipe at my face, not realizing that I'd teared up until now. I nod, internally berating myself for crying. It's just a garden, right?
He pulls me toward a small stone bench surrounded by flowers. "Have a seat. Sensei will meet us here soon."
"What is this place?" I ask, bursting with curiosity.
He points to the edge of the garden then stares at his hands. "Yori is buried here. This garden was built as part memorial, part grave marker I guess. She would have liked it here." He is silent for a moment. "I never meant for her to get hurt."
The corner of the garden is a stone grave... almost like a shrine. His tears fall freely now, and I wrap my arms around myself, resisting the urge to wrap him in my arms and telling him that everything is okay. He needs to let this out, and I need to let him.
"I read about a lot of other things in her journal... not just the mystical monkey stuff. I learned about her life since she graduated from here, her friends... she was like you," he smiles sadly.
"You miss her."
"Almost as much as I miss you."
"I'm here, Ron," I whisper. "I'm not dead."
"Yeah not for lack of want. They would have..." he swallows hard, and his fists clench. "He wanted to do to you what they did to her."
"But he didn't."
He squeezes his eyes shut. "How am I supposed to continue using this... power... if it's caused nothing but pain and adversity and death?" He clears his throat. "How am I supposed to teach my sister to become something that causes so much..."
"Ron-san, when something so powerful is used for good by someone who is genuinely good at heart, there is always adversity, and sacrifices must always be made."
He looks up, releasing my hand to stand and bow. "Sensei."
The older man waves him off. "You are family here, there's no need for formality. Welcome, Kim Possible."
I smile up at him and take Ron's hand again. "Sit, Ron."
He does, and I lean on his shoulder. He wraps his arms around me. "I do love you," he says. His voice cracks and I look up at him in concern.
"Come, Stoppable-San. We must prepare you for your training."
The week flies by, and I quickly realize that Kim was right. I needed this. It does get worse before it gets better though. My first three nights there I slept for shit. She, unfortunately, had to bear the brunt of my sleeplessness most of that time...
She's been training some... and she's spending a lot of time in the library. At night we talk about our day, and I start telling her about some of the things I've talked about with Sensei...
Tonight is a bit strange. Tonight she approaches me, a contrite expression on her face that has me immediately concerned. "KP what's wrong?"
She leans into my chest, wrapping her arms around me.
I rub circles on her back. "KP?" I try to sound soothing. "What's wrong, Kimmie?"
She mumbles something into my shirt I don't understand.
"What was that?"
She pulls away and sits down on the ground. "I'm sorry, Ron."
I frown in confusion. "What the fuck for?"
She shakes her head and buries her face in her hands. "I've been so... me," she says with a self-depreciating chuckle. "Stubborn and unyielding and..."
"What are you on about, Miss Possible?" I ask with a smirk as I sit and pull her down next to me.
"Sensei asked me about... you know, us." she sighs. "I told him that I was... am... still torqued about you leaving, and then leaving again after everything—"
I stare at my hands.
"He says that I'm being controlling and demanding. And hypocritical."
I bristle at that a bit. "How so?"
"Because... we're here because you have unfinished business with Han. And I practically made you come. But... when we were in Greece and you said you had to finish some stuff I was so sore about it... but I mean, either I want you to finish your business or I don't you know?"
I shake my head. "I understand where you're coming from, though, KP. I mean, I'd just come back from... and we were doing well when I had to go again, and you had doubts about my commitment. How could you not, after I'd been gone so long?"
"I'd just gotten you back," she whispers, tears spilling from her eyes. "I miss you so much."
I haul her into my arms. "I miss you too, Kimmie."
"I wish I'd just talked to you about how I felt instead of just... being angry."
"Me too," I answer honestly.
"He was right, and Josh was right. I've been so selfish..."
"KP you were hurt... and I've been selfish too."
"No, you've been punishing yourself and in my own blindness and selfishness I've been helping you beat yourself over the head over what happened."
I sigh. "KP I know what happened between us was my—"
"No it wasn't. It was me holding a grudge."
"I'm sorry. I didn't trust you simply because I didn't let myself. You have more than proven yourself to me and to our children."
I smile down at her. "All three of them."
I hear her sniff. "All three of them," she echoes tearfully. "Thank you for being an amazing father."
"I love them, and I love you." I sigh into her hair. "We should never have let things get as ugly as we did. We're best friends first remember? Best friends tell each other everything."
She nods into my chest. "From now on, we'll tell each other everything." She looks up at me, her green eyes full of tears. "I do love you," she whispers.
I squeeze her as tightly as I can. "I know, Kimmie. I know."
The rest of my second week in Yamanouchi is spent in training. I work up to sixteen hours a day on my powers and fighting techniques. Sensei pushes me hard, making me read up on everything possible about the mystical monkey power and scheduling meditation time in for me as well as time for KP and I to train and meditate together. By the time I collapse into bed (which I found out my first time coming here consists of the floor, a pillow, and a blanket) I'm so exhausted that I'm asleep five minutes into my nightly conversation with Kim. Ever the patient one, she always simply curls up next to me, pressing a kiss where she can land one and whispering good night in my ear.
She watches me train often, looking on with a slightly amazed expression when I start using my powers again, giving me suggestions and tips when I fight. She helps me snag lunch from the ninja lunch lady and she teaches some basic moves to some of the novices in the afternoons when one of the regular teachers gets sick. I watch her teach, and I'm amazed by her patience, and her... hands off approach. Last time I saw her teach, it was her brothers' soccer team and she ended up... being the team, instead of teaching the team. She also got herself fired.
But she's a mom now, and I guess that has made a world of difference.
When I'm not training, which starts happening more and more as the week goes on now that I think of it, I'm talking with Kim. She's opened up to me a whole lot, and in turn I've found that conversation has started to flow as freely as it always used to be. It is easier to tell her how I feel, and I'm less afraid of her being angry, or turning on me or leaving. We haven't fought since we got here, come to think of it. I think Sensei is the cause of all that. He's taught us both a lot about ourselves and each other and I've seen our relationship grow by leaps and bounds. Things in the physical department are heating up too...
The best part is that I think... finally, she trusts me.
I guess that realization came about when someone attempted to break into the school and steal some magic spell written on a scroll... and Yamanouchi's library has nothing but scrolls for a good two floors. Needless to say, they ransacked they library, as well as Sensei's private quarters. They injured two of the newer kids in the process of trying to escape... and Kim was teaching them when it happened.
We managed to catch the crooks without anything serious happening. It amazed me how simple it was for us to be Team Possible again, after all the time that had passed since we'd done a mission together. She didn't treat me like a sidekick, either. She actually let me lead, never questioning anything I did or asked her to do.
We worked as efficiently as always... well, except when the one guy went to punch me in the gut and accidentally untied my gileaving me with my underpants flapping in the wind... again. The camo boxers Kim got me for our second anniversary that say 'Team Possible' on my ass in shiny letters. You have got to be fucking kidding me.
It's a good thing my girls weren't around. I miss my girls. We're so going home this weekend... whether I'm ready or not.
"What's on your mind?" my girl bounces over to me, plopping herself down next to me with a hug and a kiss.
"Just the girls," I say to her with a smile. "I miss them."
"Ready to go home?"
"Maybe home can come here," she says, her voice sounding very devious.
"Whaaaat are you talking about?" I ask suspiciously.
"DAAAAAAADDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!" Twin little voices are suddenly shrieking, and twin little arms are struggling to climb into my lap. I help them up and hold them both close.
"Daddy missed you," I mumble into Danni's hair.
They both kiss my cheeks and Hana, upon finding me, promptly knocks all of us over. The process happens again with Kim, and we decide to take a break to catch up with our girls and with Shego, who brought them in because she had a mission and Kim's mom and dad couldn't take the girls.
Sensei meets the girls over dinner, talks to my daughters, and takes a walk with Kim. They come back a half hour later and she has a very contemplative expression that has me immediately suspicious.
As soon as the girls are off to bed, I turn to her. "Okay, what's up?"
"Nothing," she says, but her voice is ten shades of devious, and her expression is sort of flirty. Hmm...
"Nothing?" I raise an eyebrow.
"Well today is Friday."
"Well you know, Friday has always been my official Ron night."
It's Ron night, and they girls are staying with Shego. I like the way my girl thinks.
It's the end of a month we've spent in Japan. Ron's abilities have grown exponentially. Now, the only time I've seen him glowing blue and all that was back with the Lorwardians. But since then, I've seen traces of that raw power within him. His warm honey eyes always turn an icy electric blue when he gives himself over to the mystical monkey power. His blade, which he now keeps as a pocket knife at all times, seems to become a part of him as he trains with it.
We researched a lot about his powers, both separately and together. He learned all about where it came from, why it was hidden, and what prophecies the people who knew about it had written regarding his life. Sensei shed light on a lot of things that seemed unclear to us, and helped Ron with some decisions he's had to make regarding what will happen when he gets home.
And it is definitely time to go home. One of the graduate students, now a helicopter pilot, graciously agrees to take us to the airport, and we pack our things, saying goodbye to the friends we've made.
Ron spends a lot of time alone in Yori's garden. When he returns, there's a subdued, restful smile on his face.
"Everything alright?" I ask, searching his face.
His smile turns brilliant. "Yeah," he breathes, brushing my hair away from my face before pressing his lips to my forehead. "Everything is okay now."
I kiss his cheek and lead him to the helicopter. Sensei is waiting there for us.
"Take care, my son," he says quietly to Ron. It's the first time he's ever referred to Ron that way, and it puts a lump in my throat.
"You too," Ron croaks, bumping his fist before wrapping him in a hug. He's contemplative and silent as we make our way to the airport, and while we check in and pass through security. The security guard waves us through with a smile when he sees our IDs and plane tickets, quietly thanking us in Japanese with a slight bow.
Ron nods in return, answering him in Japanese.
I picked up some Japanese while we've been here. I can follow conversations now, if they speak slowly enough. Ron promised he wouldn't let me forget, and so while we wait for our flight to board, he goes online and orders me Rosetta Stone's Japanese study course, as well as like fifteen different workbooks, movies, and Japanese TV shows.
"What's all this for?" I ask.
He gives me a lopsided grin. "My efforts to help you not forget your Japanese. This is how I learned."
"I had wondered about that... you'd only been here a couple times, and I didn't really believe that you learned Japanese in a week."
"I didn't," he says sheepishly. "It took me a few weeks to get the basics down. It was a few months before I could hold a fluent conversation. It's a pretty language, I like it."
"We should learn another together."
He tilts his head. "Yeah? What are you thinking?"
"I don't know... maybe we should learn something a bit more simple, like French, or Spanish. Or maybe something completely different."
"Would you like to learn Hebrew?"
I stare at him. "You know Hebrew too?"
"Duh, KP," he says with a chuckle. "You were at my Bar-Mitzpah. I wasn't reading the Torah in English."
This is true. "Did you... I mean, did your parents speak it too?"
"Eh," he says, moving his hand in a 'so-so' gesture. "My dad was born and raised here, and his parents were Polish. My mom's parents were not Israeli either, although they were raised there. My mom spoke Hebrew fluently, she's the one that taught me."
"I didn't know that about your family," I said quietly.
He gives me a sad smile. "I don't know much about it either. I mean, my parents always talked about their families, but I tuned them out sometimes. Now I wish I'd listened."
"Can I ask you something?"
"Sure," he says, pulling out his wallet so that he can put his credit card number in for yet another Japanese film.
"You guys... I mean, your family was Jewish, but you... I mean, I remember when we were kids, your parents always made us stay in on Saturdays, and they didn't let us watch TV or any of that. But over time, they... did they lose faith, or something?"
Ron shook his head. "No... I don't think so. I um..." he rubs his neck with a rueful chuckle. "I haven't kept a Sabbath in years," he mumbles. "I think we just... I mean, after my thirteenth birthday, for some reason we just... I don't know how to explain it. And then, with all of this monkey power stuff... I just don't see how they'd mix. I didn't ask for this, but I sure as hell can't get rid of it."
"You don't still want to, do you? Get rid of your monkey power, i mean."
"No," he says with a smile. "I'm... okay with who I am now." he smirks at me, winking. "Done with the Spanish Inquisition?"
I punch his arm.
He tilts his head, studying me. " I know you. What's on your mind, KP?"
I suck in a breath. "Would you be willing to try... I mean, Saturdays are always days off for us anyway. Would you be willing to make it like a family day... even if you don't want to go back to syna—"
His arms wrap around me, squeezing me hard and cutting me off. His lips find mine, and I'm breathless for a moment. "I'd love that," he breathes into my hair.
I lean into his chest. Everything is going to be okay.
Things are different now. Our weekly Saturday night talks have taken on a bit of a different overture over the last three and a half months. We spend the day together, all of us, regardless of whose weekend it is with the girls or whatever. I think that that system has slowly been nullified, seeing as how Ron has taken to coming around a couple times a week besides hanging out with us on Saturdays. He always makes us breakfast, and then we spend the day with the girls either in the park or to Sherri's house where they can swim and such. At night, we tuck them in together and wait for them to fall asleep. Then when it's just us, we talk.
We tell eachother everything now. We talk about the girls still, but sometimes we take the girls to Mom's and tuck them in there so we can go out to dinner or to whoever's place is empty at the moment. It's peaceful now, there isn't any arguing. We talk a lot about us, about his sessions with the GJ counselor, and about his plans for the future.
Tonight he looks sort of tense as he unlocks the door. I follow him to the couch, concerned. "Okay, what's the sitch?"
He leans forward, putting his knees on his elbows. "Does Yori Anne wake you up a lot?"
"All the time," I grumble, half to myself.
"So it's not just you? What do you think it is? I mean... I feel like I'd know if she just wanted attention."
I remain silent.
"What should we do?"
"Talk to her, I guess. I mean... she's a kid. She's gonna be afraid of the boogey man and monsters in her closet... God knows you slept with a night light until you turned sixteen." I smirk. "Maybe it runs in the family."
His face turns bright red and he buries it in his hands. "Gee thanks, KP. On the bright side, if she sleeps with a night light until she's a teenager, she'll never get a date."
I burst into laughter. "You're already worried about them dating?"
"Well your dad's threats were scary but unrealistic, you know with black holes and deep space probes... I can't exactly scare them away by confessing to multiple homicides."
I wrap my arms around him. "You don't have to scare all their dates away, just the ones that give me the creeps."
He grins. "I can live with that, KP."
"In the mean time, we need to figure out what's got our blondie in a funk."
"Do you think she's got some sort of sibling rivalry beef with Danni?"
I shake my head. "No... they seem to be getting along fine. Just the opposite, actually, Yori Anne makes it a point to play with or near Danni."
"Do you think it's a daycare thing?"
I contemplate that, and he tilts his head. "We're going to call their teachers tomorrow."
"It's Sunday, they probably won't be there—"
"Wade can probably get us their home and cell numbers."
I nod in agreement. Two text messages later, Wade tells us he'll send us their phone numbers, emails, and complete background checks.
"Now that that's out of the way, lets talk about something I should have asked you a long time, even before Japan."
"Oh?" I ask, shifting as he wraps his arms around me and leans us against the arm of the couch.
He hovers over me for a moment, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. His lips find mine and my breath catches in my throat the way it always does when he kisses me. "Kimmie?" he murmurs against my lips.
Suddenly he looks sheepish. Sheepish and nervous. "I... forgive me, KP, for not asking you this sooner... but will you... I mean, will you be my girlfriend? You know, again? Officially?"
I have to chuckle at how flustered he looks. "Yes. Ron, I'll be your girlfriend. Again. Officially."
I giggle. "Yes, really—mm," he cuts me off with another kiss.
"I love you," he mumbles squeezing me to him and kissing my hair.
"I love you too," I whisper into his chest. "We're gonna be okay."
"Ron what—I thought you were going to take the—what the heck?"
"Help," he mutters pitifully. He's got both girls in his arms, and their bags hanging from his shoulders. He looks stressed.
"Oh dear," I mutter, taking the girls' bags and dropping them near the door. I take Yori Anne from his arms and notice immediately that she is burning with fever. "What is it?"
"Some sort of stomach bug," he says, sighing his relief.
I motion to Danni, also in his arms.
"Sick too," he answers.
"You've got to be kidding me," I mutter, taking Yori Anne to her room. He follows along, tucking Danni in. His brow furrows in concern as he brushes the hair sticking to her forehead away. "When did this start?"
"Danni went down first," he mumbles. "She started throwing up at about three. I figured maybe Yori Anne... but then she got all feverish and she kept telling me her stomach hurt... n I was like you've got to be fucking kidding me."
"I'm going to go make coffee," I announce dully.
"Why?" he asks, partly curious and mostly alarmed.
I smirk at him. "It's going to be a long night."
It's been a long night. A long night from hell. At about two, Yori Anne started with diarrhea and Danni woke up vomiting shortly thereafter. Ron escaped, citing that he was going to go find some Pedialyte and bottled water to keep the girls hydrated. When he returned, he informed me that he, too, was starting to feel 'crummy in the tummy', as he eloquently described it. Now, it's six-thirty, and I have three miserable, feverish, stomach flu babies to take care of. Fucking brilliant.
"How are you holding up?" I ask Ron.
"Like shit," he grunts, sitting up when he smells chicken broth. When he sits up, he looks green for a second, and then he runs for the bathroom, heaving.
At least the girls are asleep now. They went down at about three or four, and I figured their tired little bodies would be greedy for rest. But then, that would be too easy, wouldn't it?
Fifteen minutes after Ron's failed broth attempt, Yori Anne wakes up with painful colics.
Not to be outdone, Danni cries after throwing up again. Where the fuck did they catch this? And now they gave their poor father the cooties too. Although he's been sleeping, curled miserably on the couch most of the day with his arms wrapped tighty around his midsection. With a bucket next to him.
Danni and Yori Anne finally start keeping down broth and such early in the afternoon, and they definitely sleep a long time. It's midnight before Ron comes back from the miserable dead, and he looks like a corpse. I help him into the breakfast nook and give him a glass of water and some of the girls' purple pedialyte stuff.
He tastes it and chokes. "Dear God how do they drink this crap?"
"Maybe when you're sick you don't notice how awful it really is."
He chases it down with the water and sighs. "KP."
"Always," I answer him with a smile.
"You always take the best care of me."
I sit across from him, taking his hands in mine and looking him in the eyes. "So do you," I tell him. And it's true. If there's any man willing to take care of his family, it's Ron Stoppable. I know that, now.
He squeezes my hands, and tears sting in his tired eyes. "Thank you."