yeah?' said another girl, a darker-haired one with a lispy voice. 'Then
why are you named FATigable? Huh, fatty?'
me alone.' she said miserably, feeling tears welling in her eyes. But
she still trembled, paralyzed with fear for she was outnumbered and
knew that she couldn't stand up to all of them.
are you gonna do?' said the leader, stepping forward. 'You gonna cry
all over us?'
I've got an imaginary friend.' she said desperately. 'And he's HUGE,
so you better back off!'
girls laughed, some cowering in mock fear, and then they all advanced.
They wrestled the ball from Rhonda's hands, pushing her to the ground.
'Rueful!' she screamed.
heard her - leave her alone!' said a voice behind them.
girls turned around, and Rhonda peered through them. She saw an auburn-haired
boy, who stood staring at them with a grim expression, his hazel eyes
pug-faced girl scowled, then looked back at Rhonda. 'This is your imaginary
friend?' she said. 'He's not so huge!'
not imaginary.' he said, his lips curling into a smirk. 'Want to see?'
He leaped forward and in a blur of motion, he circled through the whole
clutch of girls with a foot sweep, knocking all of them to the ground.
The ball flew out of the leader's hands and the boy neatly caught it,
spinning it on his finger.
gaped at him, her mouth falling open. 'Wow....' she said.
girls sat up, groaning. The dark-haired one said, 'I skinned my belbow....'
boy tossed the ball over his shoulder without looking and it landed
in Rhonda's lap. 'She'll give you the ball to you when she's done.'
he said. 'Until then you four-SQUARES can go play somewhere else!'
girls got up and ran to other parts of the playground, casting dark
looks at him and Rhonda.
said Rhonda, taking the boy's hand as he reached down and pulled her
up. She felt a sudden desire to save face in front of him and said,
'But... I think Rueful could have handled them.'
boy laughed. 'You're weird.' he said. 'But I like weird. My name's Grimm.'
Rhonda.' she answered, and felt a warm blush in her cheeks that she
didn't understand. She added hastily. 'Is... school always gonna be
like this?' she held the ball in her hands, looking down and wondering
when the next clutch of bullies would show up.
laughed. 'You're worried they'll come back when I'm not here, aren't
you?' he said, and Rhonda gasped, feeling like he had read her thoughts.
'Let me share a secret with you.' he said. 'Bullies can be scary, but
they don't like to work too hard for their victims. If the person they
go after is too much trouble, they'll usually look for someone else.
You just have to let 'em know that you're not gonna be an easy target!'
turned and made a scary face, lunging towards the pug-faced girl, who
was still staring at them through the monkey bars. 'RRRRRRRR!' he snarled.
The girl flinched and stepped back, bumping into the bars behind her.
Grimm turned around, paying no more attention to her. 'You see? You
just need to show them you won't go down easy. If they think they can
get away with it, they'll keep coming back.'
dug the ground with her toe. 'But... what if they hit me? I don't want
to get hit....' she said miserably.
remember they don't want to get hit either.' said Grimm, shrugging.
'That's why they keep going after the ones who don't stand up to them.
You might get a bruise or two - but they'll know you're not afraid.
And no bully likes that.'
smart.' said Rhonda, smiling faintly. 'Will... will you be my friend?'
if you'll be mine.' he answered, smiling.
rest of the day went much better. She had a lot of fun playing on the
swings and in the sandbox with Grimm. For some reason, Grimm kept asking
to play 'ninja'. Rhonda had trouble at first, but he patiently showed
her some of his moves so she could keep up with him. Later in the afternoon
Grimm's parents came to pick him up and she waved good-bye to him through
the window as his car drove away.
fatty!' came a voice behind her. Rhonda felt a chill, and saw the four
girls from the playground were there, scowling at her. Rhonda looked
around for the teacher, but she was helping students put their things
away in the other room. She wondered briefly if bullies had some kind
of magic power that made teachers ignore them. 'Looks like your boyfriend
left you all alone!'
not my boyfriend!' Rhonda said, shuddering. 'He's... my friend... who's
also a boy.'
dark-haired girl rubbed the bandage on her elbow. 'Yeah, well he's not
here now, fatty!'
calling me that.' said Rhonda, her fear slowly giving way to a warmer
feeling of anger.
are you gonna do about it?' said the pug-faced girl. 'Sic your imaginary
friend on us?'
she said. Then she pointed up behind them. 'I'm gonna sic the teacher
girls looked around behind them, but the teacher was still in the other
room. Then they suddenly all fell to the floor, squealing as they slammed
into the mats after Rhonda dropped down and swept her leg in a wide
circle, just like Grimm had showed her.
sprang up and stared down at them. 'Booyah!' she shouted. 'And where
do you lard-balls get off telling me that I'm fat?' The three other
girls looked cowed, for Rhonda was right - they were all heavier set
than she was. But the pug-faced leader got up and lashed out with a
punch. Rhonda took it in the shoulder, but it didn't hurt all that much.
She punched back, taking another hit, but managed to force her back
down onto the mat.
she snarled, and all four of them flinched. At that moment, the teacher
came back into the room. She immediately sensed trouble and looked over
at them. 'Play nice, girls!' she said. 'Or you're all on time out!'
stared down at them with a satisfied 'hmph.' Her parents had arrived
to pick her up, and she went over to them.
dear.' said her mother. 'Did you make any new friends?'
was a boy named Grimm.' she said enthusiastically. 'He was really nice.
Do you think he'll be back here tomorrow?'
father laughed. 'Well, if his parents live in town, I'm pretty sure
he will sweetheart.'
she said. 'I think he and I are gonna be bestest friends....'
- + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +
looked dolefully at the pre-school building which was darkened in the
setting sun. Without daylight to show off the primary colored plastic
of the playground equipment and the building interior, it all seemed
gloomy and melancholy.
been best friends with Grimm since that day, following him everywhere,
even after he'd set up his website on a lark to do odd jobs. She'd stuck
with him nervously on his first job when a super-villain accidentally
hit his website and hired him to help get control of his base again
when his new security system had malfunctioned.
seen the taste for thrill and excitement build in him as he kept getting
more jobs, and she had done her best to keep pace with him, practicing
with him, studying judo in an attempt to match his Tai Shing Pek Kwar.
had met Team Possible, and somehow everything seemed to change. Not
just because she and Grimm had started shipping, but because of Ron.
She remembered her first confrontation with him, and how it had felt
like she was fighting a shadowy reflection of herself.
gripped the chains on the swing. Doofus-boy, she had called him.
Kim Possible's clumsy, useless sidekick - just like she was Grimm's
clumsy, useless sidekick. She had thought Ron was as much a hindrance
and annoyance to Kim as she felt she was to Grimm. But in the last caper,
Ron had turned into a dangerous monster.
how he had constructed so many devices - the Transducer, the Mega-bots,
Grimm's battle-suit, the Feedback Modulator, the Mega Magnetic Manipulator,
all in such a short amount of time it was frightening. And she thought
of her own contributions to her missions with Grimm and felt a dark
sting of jealous inadequacy. She had never built anything, let alone
anything that worked.
Ron going toe to toe with Kim, using his Mystical Monkey Power; and
how easily he had captured her with the Lotus Blade. She remembered
Grimm's words when they'd first arrived in Middleton.
is more dangerous than he looks. As good as I am at Tai Shing Pek Kwar,
Ron Stoppable has the potential to defeat me.'
felt a sinking feeling in her gut. Deep down, even Grimm was scared
of Ron. But was Kim scared of her? Even Rhonda couldn't fool
herself into thinking that Kim had ever given her so much as a second
thought in any of their confrontations. Ron was 'potential boy'. But
she couldn't recall anyone ever calling her 'potential girl'.
it Rhonda - you're a joke.' she said to herself, her head drooping.
What had she done in their last caper? Gotten beat up by Yori. Pushed
buttons on a remote. What had she ever done in any of her missions with
Grimm besides screw things up and get in his way? A big, fat zero. She
felt her eyes beginning to smart, a sure sign that tears were soon to
follow. She sniffled, running the back of her hand across her nose.
Rueful cocked his head to the side and let out a querying trill, confused
by her sullen mood. And in the back of Rhonda's mind, a dark thought
he'd be better off without you.'
the chains even harder as the thought took root. And before she could
stop it, she found herself thinking of excuses to give Grimm for quitting.
slightly in the swing as Grimm's voice sounded behind her. She stood
up and whirled around. He was standing looking at her, the setting sun
lining him with an orange halo. He was dressed in his gi, and the tape
on his hands was torn and frayed. His hair was unkempt, and he was covered
with a thin sheen of sweat. Despite his disheveled appearance, she felt
her knees going weak. He looked effortlessly magnificent as always.