A Kim Possible Fanfiction
by Greg Fisk (aka "Slyrr")

Kim Possible is owned/copyrighted by Disney and its affiliates, etc. etc.

Chapter 12:
Home
Or: Be It Ever So Hobbled

 

The atmosphere in the Possible kitchen had rarely been so strained. Grimm Probable was sitting on a stool near the breakfast nook. Mrs. Dr. Possible had her medical bag on the table with various supplies spread out next to it. She was holding a penlight and inspecting Grimm's chin, eyes, nose and teeth.

'It's actually not that bad.' Mrs. Dr. Possible said, putting down her penlight and taking up a long cotton swab. She opened a bottle containing a violet colored liquid and began dipping the swab into it. 'The bruising is mostly superficial.' She looked at him warily. 'You didn't let her hit you as hard as you let on.' she said.

Grimm shrugged. 'When you're in my line of work, the first thing you learn is how to roll with the punches.'

'Well, there are no broken bones.' She went on, 'And the bleeding has already stopped...'

'I've always been a quick healer.' said Grimm, but he winced as Mrs. Possible swabbed his lip. 'Ow!' Grimm said, flinching as Mrs. Dr. Possible swabbed his lip again. 'What is that stuff?'

'Iodine.' said Mrs. Dr. Possible, her voice and her expression very frosty. 'Burning, stinging iodine.'

Grimm glared at her briefly, then glanced to Mr. Dr. Possible, who was looking at him grimly, and then at the twins. Even their expressions were distinctly cold. 'What?' he said at last. 'What's with you people? She was the one who beat the tar out of me, not the other way 'round.'

'You said some pretty harsh things during that fight, young man.' said Mr. Dr. Possible. 'And you may have thought you had a good reason. But that doesn't mean it was the right thing to do.'

'I did it for her benefit.' said Grimm, looking ruffled. 'She wanted to extract her pound of flesh the moment I turned up - everyone knew it. But she's such a goody-two-shoes she would never have done it without a reason. I did her a favor by making it easy to haul off on me and you're acting like I did something horrible.'

'I don't think you understand my daughter at all.' said Mr. Dr. Possible, shaking his head. 'She didn't need an excuse, and she certainly wasn't looking for you to provide one. If she had decided to work with you to find Ron, she'd have done it without a second thought. She's worked with her enemies before, and been none the worse off for it. She's a better person than you think.'

Grimm sniffed, but a shadow of uncertainty sped across his eyes before he could conceal it. 'Even if you're right, there would still have been doubt and anger under the surface.' he said. 'She has to get through that before we can team up and make it work.'

'If you thought hitting her with all that psycho-babble was going to remove doubt from her mind, then you really don't get it.' Mr. Dr. Possible said. 'If you want to make a go of this, then you should apologize when she gets back.'

Grimm looked surprised. 'Apologize?' he said. 'For what? For not letting her hit me enough?'

'I don't have to tell you what to apologize for. You know what needs to be smoothed over.' Mr. Dr. Possible stared at him.

Grimm's eyes were steely and defiant. 'How about you tell me what I 'know'?' he said.

'I'm starting to see why she doesn't like you.' said Mr. Dr. Possible. 'You're always piping up with a clever turn of phrase to twist things around on whoever you're talking to. If you want it straight mister, here you go. Tell her you're sorry for what you did out there, then just ask her for help. She's all about helping people. Let your guard down a little and you might be surprised.'

'When a person gets surprised it means they were careless.' Grimm said. 'Only an idiot lets his guard down.'

'If you're serious about wanting to work with her to find Ron and your friend, you'll have to fix things so that you and Kim can be in close proximity without either of you wanting to flatten the other.' Mr. Dr. Possible said firmly. 'And that's not going to happen as long as you keep playing your little game of one-upmanship. If you can't wrap that clever head of yours around that fact, you're wasting your time here.' He looked to Mrs. Dr. Possible, flashing the knowing expression married couples used when they wanted to say, 'What do you think dear?' without speaking.

Mrs. Dr. Possible walked over to the cookie jar on the counter, took out one cookie and handed it to Grimm. Grimm stared up at her, looking confused.

'Something to chew on.' she said.

Grimm let out a single breathy chuckle. 'That was pretty good.' he said quietly.

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Mr. Stoppable looked out of the window into his backyard, his eyes traveling up the rough trunk of a large tree where a ramshackle assortment of planks and boards formed a crude house nestled in the upper branches.

His wife came and stood next to him, with Hana cradled in her arms. 'Is she... still up there?' she said.

Mr. Stoppable nodded. 'For over half an hour.'

Mrs. Stoppable shook her head. 'The poor dear.' she said. 'I was getting the mail when her car came screeching to a halt by the curb. Then she tore through the yard and climbed up into the treehouse without saying a word.' She paused, looking at her husband while readjusting Hana in the crook of her elbow. 'She was crying. Should we... do something to comfort her?'

Mr. Stoppable looked up into the swaying branches and leaves which wafted around the treehouse. 'This is my way of comforting her.' he said, shrugging.

Mrs. Stoppable sighed. 'That's your answer to everything....' she said softly.

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Ron was dweedling his lips. He had one finger extended and was twitching it up and down while humming. He had been doing it for some time and was experimenting with different techniques, trying to get a greater range of pitch. It was stupid and boring, but without anything else to do, he found himself putting more and more effort into it. He was thinking that he was just getting good enough to add it to his talent show act when Rhonda's voice interrupted his rhythm.

'Will you stop that?' she said, sounding irritated.

'Aw, come on.' he said. 'Might as well make the best of it. After all, we could b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-be here for some time.'

Rhonda laughed, but her laugh was off. It was the kind of laugh one normally heard from a person who was sick in the hospital, the kind of laugh that was used to put up a brave face.

Ron was just about to switch from lip dweedles to duck calls when he saw something in front of him. It was sudden and intense. The mists in front of him seemed to swirl and part. And again as if he were looking through a grimy window, he saw Kim.

It took him a moment to realize where she was, but when he dimly saw a torn and faded poster of Steel Toe on the wall behind her, he knew she was in his treehouse. She was curled up almost in a huddle on the couch, her face buried in her hands.

'Kim!' Ron shouted. He waved and shouted wildly, trying to bend closer towards the vision in front of him. But Kim didn't seem to hear him. She remained on the couch, not moving except for her breathing, which was staggered and lurching as she sobbed. He yelled her name several times, trying vainly to get her attention, but the vision faded, spreading out like smoke until it blended in with the shadows around them and vanished.

Ron stood, a feeling of disappointed excitement rushing through him. He thought that people who saw mirages in the desert must feel something like this - rushing forward desperately, hoping to find cool water, only to find more sand dunes.

Rhonda had watched him eagerly. 'It happened again, didn't it?' she said, and there was an odd edge to her voice. 'You saw your GF?'

'Yeah - I saw her!' he was still waving his hands through the mists where he had seen the vision, hoping to part the shadows again and restore it. 'I wasn't imagining things!' he said. 'She was... crying though.'

'That's not fair!' Rhonda yelled suddenly. And Ron flinched, seeing with discomfort that Rhonda was crying too. 'I miss Grimm as much as you miss her!' she yelled. 'How come you can see her and I can't see him? It's not fair!!' And she turned away from him, hiding her face.

Ron bit his lip, confused by her sudden outburst. 'Uh... are you ok?' he said.

'No I'm not ok!' Rhonda shouted. 'This place hurts! It feels like someone keeps jabbing me with something sharp, it's been like that since we got here! Can't you feel it?'

Ron shrugged and spread out his hand in confusion. 'N... no.' he said, not sure what to do.

This seemed to agitate Rhonda even more. 'That's not fair either!' she shouted. 'You can see your GF, this place doesn't hurt you - what's wrong with me? There's no difference between us!'

'Except you're a girl...' Ron said, off-handedly. '.... and the evil and everything.'

But this made Rhonda stop, and she looked thoughtful. 'Is... that what's causing it?' she said. 'You think I'm feeling pain here because I'm... evil?'

Ron shrugged again. 'I didn't say that.' he said. 'I just don't think I'm feeling what you're feeling.'

'I don't like what I'm feeling!' Rhonda yelled, and she looked almost hysterical. 'I want to see Grimm, I want to go home!' And she hung her head, curling her knuckles against her brows, and cried. 'I want to go home....' she sobbed.

Ron felt helpless. Normally he would have looked to Kim for 'girl help', not knowing how to speak hysterical. All his normal jokey comments seemed somehow inappropriate. 'Rhonda - what can I say?' he said at last. 'I don't know how to get us back, and... I don't know how to let you see Grimm. I'm not even sure I know how I'm seeing Kim - it just kind of happens...'

Rhonda seemed to be composing herself, but only barely. 'Well...' she said. 'If it's your goody-two-shooeyness that's letting you do it... I'll try anything, I can't stand it anymore! If it keeps going on like this I'm gonna lose it! Can you help me.... please?'

Ron bit his lip. This was Rhonda - Grimm's partner. The team that had put them through so much misery. If anyone deserved to suffer it was them. Team Probable had spent so much time sticking it to Kim and to himself. Now was his chance to stick it right back to them. He wondered for one moment how much satisfaction it might bring him to let Rhonda stew in it....

And at once he felt a painful feeling jolt through him. He winced, looking around to see if someone had stuck him with a pin or something. But the sensation passed at once. He felt confused, wondering if that flash of pain was what Rhonda had been feeling. It had hit him when he thought about how nice it would feel to cause pain to someone else - a thing that someone evil might do.

He looked at Rhonda. She looked truly pitiful. Her blue eyes were pooled with tears, her pupils were twice as wide as normal. Her lower lip was sticking out and both her hands were clasped as if praying.

pdp  

'The puppy-dog pout?' he thought to himself. 'She knows it too?' but he looked at her again and sighed. 'Aw man...' he said out loud. 'All right, I'll help!'

Rhonda's lip trembled and she sniffled, drawing her hand across her nose. 'Thanks....' she said, her voice almost a whisper.

'Well don't thank me yet.' he said, cracking his knuckles. 'I hope you're ready, cuz you're about to get a crash course in the Ron Stoppable School of Good Vibrations!'

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Kim sat curled up on the couch in Ron's treehouse. Her face felt stiff in places from where tears had dried on her skin, but other parts of her face felt slick and hot as fresh tears streamed down. She'd lost track of how long she had been there, and didn't even notice when Rufus scampered up, having followed her from the house. He didn't disturb her, he simply stood on the nearby box that served as a side table, staring at her with a sad expression. Thought and memory swirled in her mind as she continued crying.

'Do you know what I really hate?' Kim said, staring into Shego's eyes.

'The fact that your boyfriend melted?' Shego answered, a wicked smile on her face.

'No - you.' Kim said. There was a kick, a flash of blue light and Kim watched as Shego flew back dozens of yards into the tower that Drakken had been using to control the Diablos. Kim felt a dark satisfaction as the tower collapsed, standing and staring at the burning wreckage while rain cascaded around her and lightning flared. All the turmoil and trouble that Drakken and Shego had caused - she had enjoyed making them pay for hurting her, and Ron, and everyone else.

But she had felt ashamed later. Shego could have been killed. Luckily, she was as tough as she was snarky, and had come out with only minor injuries.

And Grimm was lying on the grass in her lawn. The same feeling of satisfaction was pounding through her as she struck him again and again. Each blow she landed felt like payment and justice for everything he'd done. The feel of her fists vibrating as they connected with his skin and bone was oddly... pleasant.

Until she'd felt her father's hand restraining her, holding her back. The fear in his voice, the look of revulsion in the eyes of her own family. Another gush of tears slid down her cheeks, trailing along the path of others that had streamed down already. She had wanted to hurt Grimm - to injure him, even though he had done little more than speak words to her.

'I didn't even need the Attitudinator for you.'

She had never been hit with the Attitudinator. She had no idea what she would be like if it happened, and shuddered to think of it. Ron had become a dangerous monster. What would she become? If she was capable of attacking Shego as she did in the Diablo sitch, and if she was capable of beating an enemy who wasn't even defending himself...

She heard a voice in the back of her head repeating excuses over and over. He had it coming. He was asking for it - literally asking it. He said horrible things about you, about Ron. He was laughing at your misery and pain. No one in the world would just sit there and let him get away with what he did - he deserved what he got.

She bit her lip and held herself. If her father hadn't stopped her, she would have kept striking him - without regard for how badly he might be injured or what damage she inflicted. She had wanted to hurt him.

Anything's possible for a Possible.

It always sounded so positive when her father said it. It was a confidence booster. It was a proud declaration that no matter what a Possible was up against, they would pull through. No matter what obstacle was set in a Possible's way, they could overcome it. She could do anything.

She had wanted to hurt someone.

She couldn't stop crying. She had beaten Grimm - she had trashed him. So why did she feel like she lost? She wanted Ron back - now more than ever. He would have said, or done something to snap her out of it, to make her laugh, to forget the pain she was feeling. But he was gone, and the pain was all she had left. She wanted to see him, to hold him, to have him hold her. He was her touchstone, her anchor. And as she wept, she thought for a moment that she could actually hear his voice calling out to her...

She heard a beeping from her wrist. Wade. She didn't want to answer, because she knew it meant talking about the sitch that was still waiting for her back at home. But she smoothed her hair as best she could and wiped her eyes with her gloves. She sat up, then sighed and turned on the Kimmunicator.

'What's the sitch?' she said, sounding almost formal with the effort she put into composing her voice.

'I've gone over everything they gave us.' Wade said. He was looking at her curiously. His screen at home was hi-definition and she knew that despite herself, she must be a mess. But to his credit, Wade said nothing about it and went on. 'I figured you'd like to discuss it.'

'Yeah.' she said. 'First off - Ron. Grimm had that recording of me chanting something at the UNIT labs. Was it another one of his tricks?'

Wade sighed. 'No trick. So far it all checks out.' he said. 'I've called in favors with all the friends I have who know Algonquian, and the translation is just what Grimm said it was. It goes, Shadows dark and still, hear your master's will - Let my foes be overwhelmed, banished to the spirit realm.'

Kim stared at him. 'Is that the literal translation?' she said suspiciously.

Wade looked shifty for a moment. 'Well, I fiddled it a little so it rhymed.' he said. 'But I also quadruple-checked the voice pattern. It was slightly distorted, but there's no doubt about it. It was your voice speaking the incantation.'

'I don't remember speaking it.' said Kim.

'That would tally with Jade's description of how Maze possesses his victims.' Wade answered. 'Somehow he can project his consciousness into other people, and it seems to totally suppress the victim's awareness.'

'But he was chanting himself when it happened.' Kim said. 'Could it have just been some kind of hypnosis?'

Wade shook his head doubtfully. 'If it was, then it's like no other hypnosis I've ever heard of. Even the best hypnotists need more than a few minutes to induce a trance, and it almost always requires some kind of cooperation from the participant. Maze's power is a lot faster, and more effective.'

'And it's been days now. Is there anything from Ron's chip?'

Wade shook his head again. 'Kim, if Ron was anywhere on Earth, I'd have found traces. Even with the machine Monkey Fist is using to cloak their base, Ron's chip would have left some kind of electronic bread crumbs in areas where he might have traveled. But there's nothing at all.'

'So... you think there really is something to this... spirit world business?'

'I'm going with 'alternate dimension'.' he said. 'But... yeah. Given our data, and their data... there's no other explanation.'

'So how do we get them back?' Kim said. 'This isn't the first time we've dealt with extra-dimensional technology. Can we use any of the devices we've encountered before and apply them to this sitch?'

'Justine Flanner's Kinomatic Continuum Disruptor created unstable rifts in space and time, not portals to unknown dimensions, so that's out.' he answered. 'And Drakken's modified Pan-Dimensional Vortex inducer didn't send people to alternate dimensions, it projected you into a simulated reality that mimicked television shows. And we can't configure it to mimic the dimension where Ron and Rhonda were sent, because we don't have a reference point to where they actually are.'

'And even if we did, it wouldn't be.... real.' said Kim, shaking her head.

'Afraid not.' said Wade. 'The Vortex Inducer made it seem real for the people affected, but the things that happened weren't permanent, otherwise Drakken and Shego would have been stuck in it forever.'

'Which wouldn't have made up for being on Space Passage....' said Kim darkly.

'Yeah...' said Wade, glancing off to the side. 'Anyhoo, the only sure way to re-create the conditions of the banishment, and maybe undo the banishing, means tracking down the person who created it in the first place.'

'Maze.' said Kim.

'I think Grimm's serious about wanting to track him down and make him bring Rhonda back. With his insider knowledge, a limited partnership could be the way to go.'

Kim lowered her head, looking away from the Kimmunicator screen. 'So not what I wanted to hear.' she said. I really don't want him this close to the family. Do we even need them anymore? Can we just use the stuff they supplied and go on without him?'

'We... could try.' Wade said, but his voice was doubtful. 'Thing is, they still have info that I don't think they shared. They didn't tell me everything that they thought Monkey Fist and Maze gathered for whatever it is they're building. That could be critical.'

'And ten to one, they hold onto that info and use it to keep us on the hook.' Kim said.

Wade nodded slightly. 'Kim, I think we should play along, at least until we get more information. If it comes to a point where we know enough about what's going on, we can back out.'

Kim felt the uncomfortable certainty closing around her like one of Drakken's death traps. To get Ron back, she needed to find and stop Maze and Monkey Fist. But Monkey Fist was tapping into the Yono's power somehow. She was sure that Maze had something to do with how their petrified victims were animated, but she had no idea how he was doing it. After what happened in Graniton, she knew they were too strong for her to fight solo, even with the battle suit. She needed backup. And there was no denying that Grimm was competent and capable, that he had connections and cunning. And, she thought resentfully, he was no slouch in a fight.

But he was also devious, cold, calculating and above all, untrustworthy. Given what had happened in the backyard, she had no doubt that Grimm had even more psychological barbs to throw at her. Even if Grimm was sincere in his offer of help, how could she believe anything he had to say? How could she be sure it wasn't part of yet another twisted game?

She needed Ron to help keep her level-headed. And her heart fell, because if Ron was there, she wouldn’t need to team up with Grimm in the first place. Until she had him back safe, she would need someone else to help her - someone she trusted to keep her grounded in reality.

'All right.' said Kim, gripping the armrest on the couch. 'But I think I'll also need... some moral support.'

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Monique lay on top of her bed at home, thumbing through the latest copy of Teen Scene magazine. She skipped through most of the text, instead focusing on the pictures, both in the articles and in the ads. 'Tacky.' she said flatly, flipping to the next page. 'Boring.' she said, turning to the next page. 'Throwback.' she said, and continued like that for several minutes, mostly dissing, but occasionally pausing to look more closely before voicing a positive remark. 'Hmm. Potential.' she said at last, looking over some of the fashions on a two-page spread.

She rolled up to a sitting position and pulled a sketch pad from her desk, knocking over some make-up paraphernalia and nearly up-ending her jewelry box. She winced with annoyance as she heard the clattering sound of lipstick and other such items rolling around on her desk. She knew she'd have to clean it up eventually, but couldn't bring herself to pull away from the inspiration that was gnawing at her mind. She laid the sketch pad across her knees and slid the magazine to the side of her hip and began drawing.

Figures, designs and alterations flew through her vision and she tweaked each sketch, trying different methods of how the cloth hung, how it was pleated, and the body types of her sketches. She glanced across the room to where she had her sewing machine set up. There were plastic storage bins on either side of the desk where the machine was mounted, each containing bolts of cloth. Scissors, spools of thread and other equipment were mounted on a pegboard on the wall in front of the sewing machine, hanging by small metal hooks. A full sized dummy on a stand was mounted in the corner of the room, already wearing a plain white frock.

  monique

There were times when designing simply interfered with her desire to experiment, and there were times when having to actually sew was a chore that got in the way of designing, but as she loved both designing and experimenting, it was simply finding the balance of mood and inspiration which made her a Fashionista in her own right. Right now, it was designing that motivated her. The fashions in the Teen Scene ad looked good, but they only looked good, and the overall design had given her some great ideas for newer fashions that would look absolutely stunning....

She heard the doorbell buzzing downstairs and tried to ignore it. It buzzed again, but she kept drawing. On the third buzz, she finally shouted out. 'Will someone get that?' She had her pencil poised above the sketch pad, listening for the door to be opened. The doorbell rang again, and she threw down her pad in frustration, heaving herself up and throwing her door open.

'Honestly - sometimes I bet people wonder if I even have a family!' she thought in frustration as she stormed into the hall, down the stairs and hastened to the door. The bell was just ringing again when she pulled the door open. She had hoped it was a salesperson or something so she could tell them to buzz off or foist them off on her parents, but her short temper vanished when she saw it was Kim.

She started saying, 'What up, girlfriend?' but as she said the word up, she could see that something was wrong. Kim looked frazzled, bedraggled, almost stunned. Her hair was mussed and she seemed as discomposed as if she had been in a fight. Her eyes had a look of worry in them, mingled with something else she didn't recognize. 'Kim...?' she said again.

'Monique...' Kim said, and she was looking down as if ashamed. 'I need your help.'

And in less than a minute, Monique was sitting on the couch in her living room with Kim sitting across from her in the easy chair. She listened as Kim told her everything that had happened, with her own emotions ranging from interest, to shock, to sympathy, then outrage and back again. When Kim finished, Monique leaned back in her chair.

'Woah.' she said, shaking her head. 'I mean.... woah.'

'Yeah, tell me about it.' said Kim, running a hand across her forehead.

'So... why did you come here?' said Monique, though she had a prickle in the back of her neck that told her trouble was ahead.

'I've sort of made up my mind to give working with him a try.' Kim said, but she sounded resentful even as she spoke. 'Until this is over, could you... watch my back?'

Monique put up her hand. 'Oh no girl!' she said. 'You're my best friend, but the last time I went out sidekicking with you, I nearly got woven into the latest nightmare slated for the Paris runways!'

'Monique please.' Kim said, and Monique could never remember her sounding more serious. 'I can't do this by myself, not with Grimm.'

Monique stared. She'd never known Kim to be intimidated before, not against Shego, nor against any of her other pug-ugly foes. And there was something in her eyes that told Monique that Kim wasn't worried about fighting him. It was something else. 'What is it about this guy anyway?' she said.

'I just... don't want to be alone with him.' Kim said, looking embarrassed. 'He's a user, a player. Take the sitch with Eric, then amp up the angst about ten times and you'll have Grimm in a nutshell.'

Monique raised an eyebrow. 'Come on girl, he can't be that bad.'

'Monique, I'm serious.' Kim said, and there was pleading in her voice. 'I have to find Ron, to bring him back. But if Grimm is helping, or if he's in on it in any way... You wouldn't have to do any fighting or anything, it won't be dangerous. I just need someone to keep Grimm off balance.'

Monique looked doubtful. Kim had a different idea about what things were dangerous and what things weren't. But Kim was still speaking.

'Please - I need a friend on this one.'

Monique sighed and slumped her shoulders in defeat. 'I must be outta my mind...' she said.

Kim smiled warmly. 'Thanks, Monique.'

Monique looked up. 'You're serious now - no fighting?' Kim shook her head. 'So... what do I have to do?' Monique said.

Kim was still smiling. 'I think just... being you is the best way to go.' she said.

Monique smiled as well. 'Got that right.' she said.

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As Kim pulled into her driveway later, she saw dim shapes through the glass in the windows which told her that her parents had been watching for her. She waited in the car for a moment, sighing and steeling herself for what might come next. She went into the house and found them in the living room, looking at her expectantly.

'How are you feeling, Kimmy-cub?' Mr. Dr. Possible said.

Kim wasn't sure how to answer honestly. 'I'm... fine.' she said, though she felt anything but fine. 'Where is he?'

Mrs. Dr. Possible looked back towards the kitchen. 'He went into the backyard a few minutes ago.' she said. 'Haven't seen him since then.' Kim turned and walked into the kitchen, headed for the sliding glass door. 'Kim....' Mrs. Dr. Possible started, but felt her husband's hand on her shoulder. He shook his head and they both stayed in the living room, hearing the kitchen door slide open and then shut again.

Kim looked around the whole yard, but there was no sign of Grimm. She slipped over the fence and started looking around in the hilly, wooded area behind her house. She had never explored it much, except to look at it from above while parachuting down to her backyard after missions. She was just wondering if Grimm had actually split town when she saw a slightly flattened set of patches in the grass which indicated someone had passed that way. She followed until she was under the eaves of the woods, then she stopped.

Grimm was sitting on the stump of a tree a few yards away, the sunlight filtering through the leaves far above tinting everything with a yellowish green. The flying motorcycle she'd seen him riding at the Yoyodyne labs was parked next to him. His back was to her, and his communicator was in his hand. It looked like he was arguing with someone.

As quietly as she could, she stepped nearer until she could hear better. Besides Grimm, she could hear Jade's tinny voice in the still air of the trees.

'I need you out here Jade - I'm in the middle of a stinger's nest and I want some backup!'

Jade's voice almost sounded offended. 'G-man, you know I don't work like that, and neither do you! What happened to 'leave no trace you were ever there'? Look at you - working in broad daylight, actually calling in Leigh....'

'I know, Jade!' Grimm said. 'That's why I can't do this alone! If Rhonda were here it would be different, but....' He trailed off suddenly.

After a pause, Jade spoke. 'If Rhonda were there, you wouldn't need Kim in the first place.' she said. And Kim felt a twinge of deja vu, hearing Grimm and Jade come to almost the same conclusion she had come to herself.

'Well... she's not, and I do.' Grimm said sullenly.

'So how did it go?' said Jade. 'Did she buy it?'

'I'm not sure.' Grimm answered. 'I'm waiting to find out.'

'What's to wait for?' said Jade, confused. 'You're right there - can't you just ask?'

'She sort of... ran off.' Grimm said.

There was silence for a moment. 'Why did she do that?' Jade said at last.

Grimm sighed. 'I wanted to make sure she got through any resentment from our... previous encounters.' he said. 'So I pushed her into letting it all out.'

'How?' said Jade, though her tone indicated she already knew the answer to her own question.

Kim listened as Grimm described the events that took place in her house, and the fight in the backyard. It was weird hearing it from his perspective, but when he was finished, Jade's voice sounded out almost in a shriek.

'You did what??'

'Pipe down!' Grimm hissed. 'What's your damage? I do that kind of stuff to the good guys all the time!'

'When you're working against them, yeah! But not when you're trying to talk them into working with you!' Jade said. 'Jeez mon! Why didn't you go over this with me beforehand?'

'I didn't see the need!' Grimm said. 'You know I don't consult about stuff like this - and even if I had, would you have gone along with it?'

'No!' said Jade. 'I'd have suggested something more sensible. I can think of at least a dozen ways you could have done it without going all... Grimmy on her!'

'You sound just like her parents.' Grimm said peevishly. 'Look, she wanted to get even! I just gave her a reason and an excuse! Once she simmers down...'

'You can't wind someone up like that and expect them to chum up to you later!' Jade said. 'Normal people don't work that way!'

'Kim's not normal, she's exceptional!' Grimm snapped.

'Have you ever told her that?' Jade said. 'That might actually help you know. I know you like cheesing her off because you respect her as an adversary. Why didn't you say you'd respect her as an ally on this one?'

Grimm didn't answer for a second. 'I know what I'm doing....' he said at last.

'Do you?' Jade broke in. 'I never wondered before, but you actually went too far this time. You'll be lucky if she doesn't paste you again when she comes back, never mind teaming up with you.'

'If that's what it takes, I'm game!' Grimm said, sounding angry. 'She can wale on me all she wants, I don't care! As long as it helps bring Rhonda back....'

'Grimm,' she said, and her voice sounded a lot more serious, 'Kim's hurting too. And I don't think she's torked off because she wants to get even with you - she's upset because she misses Ron.'

'Then she should be grateful I turned up.' said Grimm. 'Bringing Rhonda back almost certainly means bringing Ron back with her. And when you factor in what we're up against, then toughening her up a little will help in the long term.'

Jade sounded exasperated. 'Grimm, you're the smartest guy I know when it comes to getting someone's goat, but when it comes to actually helping someone - you're dumber than ditch water.'

'Isn't that why I'm here?' he said, frustrated. 'Because I need help? I've told her as plain as I can....'

'No you haven't.' said Jade. 'You insulted her BF, threatened to destroy her life and danced around in front of her after you lawyered up chanting 'nyah, nyah, nyah'. What did you think was going to happen?'

Grimm looked like he was bristling. 'If she doesn't work out her anger, it'll always be roiling beneath the surface - I can't risk that happening in the field! Maze and Monkey Fist are too dangerous....'

'And after she socked you, did she calm down right away?' Jade said. 'Did bofh of you have a couple of sodas and laugh about it? That's a guy thing Grimm - when you hurt a girl's feelings, they don't just forget about it after trading a few punches.'

'Rhonda was never like that....!'

'Rhonda's in love with you Grimm! But Kim's not just gonna forgive you for stuff like Rhonda does!'

Grimm looked stunned. 'Rhonda...?' he said. 'Forgive me for what? I've never done anything to her!'

Jade made a tinny sounding sigh. 'Grimm, this might be news to you, but being a teen mercenary hasn't been as easy for her as she lets on.'

Grimm didn't answer for several seconds. 'What are you talking about?' he said at last. 'She's always been rock solid...'

'Yeah - well, she's not.' Jade said. 'Hobnobbing with the ne'er-do-wells of society, always wondering how much longer you can stay ahead of things, always worrying that someday you'll get taken down by a hero, or a disgruntled client... That thing with Maze back at Kwitcherbeliakin really spooked her Grimm. And it didn't help that you seemed more concerned about helping her develop her powers than you were about how she felt...'

Again there was silence. At last he spoke again, but this time his voice sounded not in a defiant epithet, but as a pleading question. 'Well, what then?' he said. 'The Great Bear isn't answering me. I need Kim to find Monkey Fist - and Maze. There's no other way I can think of. What am I supposed to do?'

'For starters, you should listen to your techie.' said Kim. 'She's come closer to the mark than you ever have.' Grimm stood up and turned to face her at once, putting his communicator into his hip pouch. There were red patches in his cheeks, visible even through the bruising around his eye.

'What did you hear?' he said.

'I heard... enough.' Kim answered.

They both stared darkly at each other in silence. The only sounds were the rustlings in the undergrowth and the leaves sighing overhead. Rueful's head poked out of a backpack lying on the seat of the bike and he looked back and forth between them.

'What's it gonna take to make this work?' Grimm said, glaring at her.

Kim didn't answer, but kept staring at him.

'What do you want?' he hissed. 'Money? Name your price! You want blood? Hit me again - I won't say a word! Do you want me to beg? I'll do that too!'

Again, Kim didn't answer. For the first time, she could almost see through the aura of invulnerability he usually projected and glimpsed the troubled heart of a guy who had finally run out of ideas. She understood at last, that the reason he had done what he did by goading her was because he did everything that way. And so he had asked for her help by playing her, because it was the only way he knew how.

'First tell me.' she said. 'What do you want?'

Grimm sniffed. 'So now you want to get into my head?' He looked at her angrily. 'What do I want? Why do you think I even came here? Why do you think I traveled this far and set myself at risk? Why do you think I'm bowing and scraping to you of all people?'

'Stop answering questions with questions!' Kim said. 'What do you want?'

For a moment, he looked so angry she thought he was going to throw a punch. Then he lowered his head, closing his eyes and clenching his fists. 'I want Rhonda back.' he said at last. 'I need her back! Please - what do you want?'

'I've already told you what I want.' said Kim.

Grimm stood silent, chewing on his lip. 'All right....' he said, looking away. 'No head gaming. I get it.'

'And no evil.' Kim said firmly.

'All right!' Grimm snarled. 'Fine. Until this is over, you and your little circle of friends are off limits. Happy?'

Kim narrowed her eyes, but put out her hand. 'Shake on it.' she said.

Grimm hesitated, but at last he sighed and took Kim's hand, gripping it firmly. 'I'm not making any promises about Maze.' he said. 'If you don't want him roughed up, you'll have to stop me. But if he sees you protecting him from me, that might be useful.'

Kim nodded and they unclasped their hands.

'For what it's worth,' Grimm said, and his voice sounded extremely uncomfortable. 'I regret it if you took what I did in the backyard the wrong way.' Kim raised an eyebrow. Then she turned her head as another voice came from Grimm's hip pouch.

'Take your bows, Lady K.' said Jade. 'That's as close as he's ever gotten to saying he's sorry.'

      understanding      
   
Coming Soon:
Chapter 13

The name implies separate pieces - but denotes unity.
What are they?

Author: There were a number of people who thought Grimm was actually TOO villainous in the previous chapter. Hopefully this helped bring understanding to the fact that Grimm was displaying something that is both one of his strengths and his weaknesses - an ability to look into other people's minds to hurt them, but a great inability to understand how to help them.
Sorry if readers felt that Kim was overshadowed and diminished by Grimm in the other chapter - that wasn't the intention. I simply felt that the team up wouldn't go smooth when initially proposed, and that both Kim and Grimm needed an outlet for the bad blood between them. Things are always darkest just before the dawn...
P.S.: After the previous chapter, I actually got a phone call from a reader saying how much he enjoyed it - something that's never happened before. I was flattered, but also slightly amazed that someone felt moved to phone in (quite a feat as I don't think I've posted my phone number anywhere). My cell phone battery was almost empty, so I couldn't talk long, but it made my day and thanks to the caller (forgot to ask if he was a reviewer so I could associate a fanfiction.net callsign to the voice). Phone calls aren't necessary though - reviews posted here and deviantart etc. will be just fine ;)

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