All Things Probable IV:
Graduation

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

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

Prologue:
The Coming Storm

After her night of fitful sleep, Kim had gone down to breakfast the following morning. The first thing she saw was her father standing in the front doorway, trying to wave off a large crowd that was gathered on the front lawn. She heard his voice, sounding peevish and impatient.

'...didn't invite any of you here, and if you don't clear off my property I'll call the police!' There was a pause as Kim heard a wave of muttering voices, and he said loudly. 'My daughter will make a statement on her own time, not yours! Until then, show a little courtesy and leave her alone!'

Kim sighed. She'd only been back for half a day, but she should have known the news of her return would leak out somehow. She saved the world so frequently that the media normally didn't pester her at home after her missions. Often they were content with photos and a headline reading Kim Possible Does It Again.

But this sitch, like the Diablo Robots, had been much bigger. And she knew the media wouldn't be satisfied until they got a statement. She felt a momentary twinge of jealousy as she thought about Team Probable. Working from the shadows and with powerful organizations dedicated to covering their tracks and hiding their existence, Grimm Probable wouldn't have to worry about dealing with the press when he got back home. She nudged her father's elbow from inside the door, and he glanced towards her.

'It's all right, dad.' she said. 'I may as well get it over with.'

Mr. Dr. Possible sighed and nodded, then stepped aside. As soon as Kim was on the doorstep, there was a flurry of camera flashes; thickets of microphones were jabbed towards her, and a chorus of voices all shouted at once.

'Miss Possible, can you confirm....'
'Miss Possible, what was...'
'Miss Possible, what about...'
'Miss Possible, will you be...'

She held up her hands and waited for the babble to die down. She looked out and saw Summer Gale, A. U. Dibble and nearly all the other reporters in Middleton, as well as a few national network representatives. 'Sorry you all had to get up so early.' she said, smiling faintly. 'And that you got me up so early.' It was a pattern she'd learned to follow from numerous meetings and press conferences after missions. Start with a light-hearted joke, state your purpose in addressing them, then make your point, take a couple of questions, and leave.

'I'm sure you'd all like a long conference, but I have to be at school soon, so this will have to do. First off, it's true that my team and I found and defeated Monkey Fist. We also shut down the machines they used to take over world communications. Satellite communications are being put back in place now by governments and private companies, and they'll be able to tell you about the technical aspects of that a lot better than I could. But the long and short of it is, the sitch is over.'

One of the reporters stood on tiptoe and shouted. 'What about Monkey Fist? If you defeated him, then where is he?'

The memory of Monkey Fist being loaded onto a DOD helicopter flashed through her mind. 'As I understand,' she said, choosing her words carefully, 'He was taken away by the Department of Defense. Where they're holding him, I have no idea.'

'Some reports stated that Monkey Fist had an accomplice,' barked another reporter. 'What about him?'

'He was also defeated, but he later escaped. He's on the run, but if he turns up again, our team will be ready.'

'You say 'our team'.' said Summer Gale. 'Who assisted you in taking down these villains?'

'My friend Monique.' said Kim quickly. She deserves a lot of credit. But most importantly, my boyfriend Ron Stoppable.'

Dibble now raised his voice. 'Mr. Ron Stoppable?' he said. 'I understand he went missing some time ago. Are you saying he's been found?'

Kim nodded. 'He's back home with his family and he's perfectly fine.' she said. 'In fact, he was the one who destroyed Monkey Fist's machine and saved the day, so be sure to make a note of that to your readers and viewers. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get ready for school.'

There were more shouts, camera flashes and waving of arms, but Kim stepped back inside and closed the door. Mr. Dr. Possible and Mrs. Dr. Possible peered through one of the living room curtains.

'Well that should keep them off your back for a while, anyway.' he said. 'Looks like they're racing now to see who can be first to make a report on your statement...'

Kim breathed a sigh of relief. 'Then let's have breakfast before they regroup.' she said.

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While Kim's home was a media beehive, the Probable house in Riddleton was peaceful and quiet. Grimm sat at the breakfast table eating scrambled eggs and toast. The small TV was on in the kitchen, and as he ate, he watched Kim's press conference. Crawl text at the bottom of the screen read, 'Famous teenage crime fighter Kim Possible issues statement about worldwide statue attacks' and 'Kim Possible says one of two villains is still at large'.

Mrs. Probable sniffed from her place at the table. 'Well I'm glad that girl has finally left.' she said.

'You and me both.' Grimm muttered. Another news crawl was scrolling that read 'Kim Possible says Monkey Fist being held by DOD - awaiting word from State Dept. Officials'. Grimm turned to his dad, jabbing a fork at the screen. 'Her blabbing like that won't be a problem for you, will it?' he said. 'I tried to tell her it's better off if no one knows where Monkey Fist is....'

Mr. Probable pursed his lips and shook his head. 'As always, we maintain plausible denial.' he said. 'We can't confirm or deny that we have him in custody. And it's not a lie to say we don't have him, because we don't. Our people will route the media's information requests through a number of different departments. So long as Monkey Fist doesn't surface again, they'll eventually get tired of asking.'

He wiped his mouth with a napkin and his expression turned more serious. 'I trust he won't be found, boy.' he said. 'It took a lot of doing to get the Riddleton Black Ops over to Japan and extract you and Monkey Fist. Never minding any schemes he might launch if he gets loose again, it will mean a lot of thorny questions if he is freed.'

Grimm swallowed some orange juice. 'Don't worry.' he said quietly. 'Monkey Fist isn't walking away from this.'

Mr. Probable grunted, glancing towards the hallway leading to the garage. 'I don't like him being kept here.' he said. 'You'll have to make other arrangements.'

Grimm nodded. 'I'm working on it.' he said. 'I have to make sure it's someplace Maze can't find him.'

'Too bad Kim had to leave.' said Mim from behind her plate.
'We hardly got to hang with her at all!' said Lynn.
'And we saw Enrique after you got back.' said Mim. 'He looked bummed. I think he wants to build a shrine to Monique in his room or something.'

Grimm grunted, taking another bite of eggs.

'Is there anything else we should know about?' said Mr. Probable, paused while lifting his own fork to his mouth. Grimm shook his head. 'Well then, you'll need to get back to your homework.' said Mr. Probable firmly. 'Graduation is coming up at the end of the school year, and I expect you to to stay on top of things.'

'Yes sir.' said Grimm, glumly thinking of the homework he'd neglected while taking care of the sitch with Monkey Fist and Maze. And he still had Friday detentions with Donnie. With Rhonda back, he had been hoping for some Friday date evenings with her again. Instead he'd have Donnie for company. 'Some reward.' he thought. 'Bet Possible would love to know about that.'

'And... how is Rhonda?' said Mrs. Probable, in a voice that sounded a bit too nonchalant.

Grimm looked at his watch, realizing the time. 'School time.' he said. 'Better go check on her...' And he wolfed down the rest of his breakfast before excusing himself and dashing from the table.

Within a couple of minutes, he opening the garage door and wheeling the Ksikkihkíni onto the driveway. He paused to smirk at the lumpy mass in the back of the garage, which marked where the petrified Monkey Fist was covered by a tarp. 'Catch you later, Monkey Master.' he thought, then closed the garage behind him.

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Chief Sakituya hiked wearily around a turn in a road flanked by high trees on either side. He saw Kamp Kwitcherbeliakin in the distance, a collection of cabins surrounded by the green of the forest, and on one side, a curving blue arc of the nearby lake. Before he had gotten halfway from that point to the camp entrance, he saw a hulking brown shape shambling up the path, loping eagerly towards him.

Gentle Paw made a lot of rustling and thrashing noises as his huge body pushed through the overgrown sections on the road. When he reached Sakituya, he capered around him like a gigantic puppy.

Sakituya smiled when the bear reached him and he patted his head. 'Yes Ikkinikinsstiwa, I am glad to see you as well.' he said. 'And it is good to be home. When a man reaches my age, travel often causes more discomfort than wonder. It is rightly a sport of the young and curious.' He heaved another sigh as he thought back to the journey. After the Riddleton Black Ops had whisked Team Probable and himself away from the Yamanouchi School, the troops had questioned Otaatoyiwa about many things at the request of his father. They hadn't said much to Sakituya, and seemed satisfied by what Grimm told them about Maze, and the golem attacks, and the destruction of Monkey Fist's machines.

Grimm had also asked for Chief Sakituya to be dropped off directly at Kamp Kwitcherbeliakin, but Sakituya had shaken his head. 'The animals would be disturbed by your flying machines.' he had said. 'If you will take me to the border of the forest, it will be enough.'

And so he had made the trek back to the camp on foot, taking simple pleasure in the sight of the forest and its beauty. As the Indian Chief and the bear re-entered the camp, Gentle Paw was grunting and snuffling. Sakituya nodded. 'Yes, things have gone well. Sskipoyiwa's dangerous plot was defeated, and order has been restored, at least for now.'

They reached Sakituya's cabin, and Gentle Paw kept growling softly. 'The Chosen One?' said Sakituya, and he paused with his hand on the door handle. He looked back and up towards the sky. There were clear patches of pale blue. But in the distance, near the mountains which surrounded the camp, there were still lowering clouds, and a rumbling of thunder.

Sakituya frowned. 'She is home safely.' he said at last. 'But I think... their journey is not yet over.'

Part II:
Back To School

Ron decided to hitch a ride with Kim on this particular day, rather than going himself on his scooter. He first wanted to give his parents the chance to thank Kim for bringing him home.

Mrs. Stoppable actually hugged her while Ron stood by holding Hana. 'Oh Kim...' she said, and though Kim couldn't see, she could tell that Mrs. Stoppable was holding back tears. 'Of all the times you've brought Ron back safely, this is the one I'm most grateful for.'

'Though I have to say son, you gave your mother quite a fright, just coming back in through the door as if nothing had happened.' said Mr. Stoppable, though a relieved smile showed his true mood. 'You might have called and told us.'

'That was my way of telling you.' said Ron, and Hana said 'Brother!' while clinging to his arm.

Kim was feeling more awkward by the second, but to her relief, Mrs. Stoppable finally let go of her. 'Kim, how can we thank you for this...?' she said.

'Please, Mrs. Stoppable.' said Kim, 'I was glad to.'

Mr. Stoppable put his hand on his wife's shoulder. 'Now honey, let them go off to school.' he said in his soothing voice. 'We wouldn't want Ron to be late now that he's finally back.' Mrs. Stoppable nodded and took back Hana, though the ninja baby didn't seem keen on letting go.

'Don't use your kung-fu grip, Hana!' said Ron. 'I promise I'll be back soon!'

Kim had several worries as she and Ron got in the Sloth. She wanted to kiss him again, partly for the sake of being close to him, and partly to see if her reactions the previous evening had been a fluke. But she also half-dreaded it, for fear that the wave of guilt and discomfort she had felt might happen again. To her relief though, Ron seemed in too big a hurry to bring the situation forward. He buckled in while Rufus scurried into his hip pouch, and they started on their way to the school.

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Grimm felt a comfortable sensation of normalcy when he picked up Rhonda from her house. For the first time in a month, he felt that things were finally as they should be. Rhonda’s parents had been relieved and grateful to have her back. Little Indy seemed especially delighted, and Grimm saw Rhonda had fallen easily back into her normal rounds of keeping Indy out of mischief while the curious toddler laughed and tried to hide from her.

As they left the house and got on the bike, Rhonda was puffing. 'Barely home an hour, and I was already back on baby-sitting.' she said, but she didn't really sound upset about it. 'And why did you have to let pom-pon stay in my room? She saw all my stuff! She might have gone through my clothes!'

Grimm felt her arms shivering as she held onto him and they started off down the street towards the High School. 'Sorry about that.' he said, though his mind was distracted by the feeling of having her arms around him. 'It was the only place they could be close to the action when they were out here. Jade made sure your diary and everything personal was secure.'

'I hope so.' she said. 'How's your Cousin Mary doing? I missed the Prom Rehearsal Dance.'

'You had a good reason.' said Grimm. 'I took your place for the musical number...'

'Oh yeah, I saw parts of that!' said Rhonda, and Grimm was surprised.

'You did?' he said. 'From the Spirit World - you saw...?'

'Saw you singing?' Rhonda chirped. 'Yeah! That was so sweet...'

Grimm blushed furiously under his bike helmet. 'Yeah well,' he said uncomfortably, 'Don't say it like that. I'm just glad you can take over again. I didn't like being on stage.'

'I donno, you looked great in your tux.' Rhonda said.

Grimm heard Rueful chittering from Rhonda's backpack. 'Don't get all schmaltzy on me.' he muttered. 'Besides, we'll be at school in a minute or two, and I bet Darken will know the second you set foot on the grounds.'

He felt her arms flinch. 'Oh man, I forgot!' she said. 'I bet she's been sharpening knives every day since I left.'

'She wasn't that bad.' said Grimm fairly. 'But she'll want to know what you've been up to... Where you were...' He ended curiously. So far Rhonda hadn't talked much about her experience in the Spirit World. He had tried various ways to get her to open up, but so far she hadn't taken the bait. That said to Grimm that Rhonda was either too scared to talk yet, or that it had been too personal. If her experience was anything like his own when he'd been trying to contact the Great Bear Spirit, he could see why she was reluctant to discuss it. Still, it didn't stop him from being curious.

And indeed, Rhonda said abruptly, 'Oh hey, there's the old stomping grounds!' Riddleton High was looming ahead down the streets.

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The bell for classes at Middleton High School pealed across the grounds and students trudged glumly towards their classes. The marquee outside the school read in jumbled letters, 'Golem attacks over - Homework still due'.

Ron paused while standing next to Kim at the entrance, and he sighed. 'You know,' he said, 'After everything I went through, I'm even glad to see this place again!'

As they made their way down the hall, Kim held his hand. 'So far so good.' she thought, letting her fingers curl warmly around his. 'No weirdness and no flashbacks. Must have been a one-time only.'

To pretty much everyone around them, it was just another school day to be endured. But Ron was looking at it with a renewed feeling of childlike wonderment. Most of the students, who hadn't really paid much attention to Ron before he disappeared, didn't seem to even notice now that he was back. Although not everyone ignored his unexpected return.

Members of the football team, including Nick Tragg, did a double-take as they saw him walking down the hall with Kim. 'Stoppable.' said Nick. 'You gonna be back on the field then?'

school  

Kim was a little annoyed that the jocks only seemed to miss Ron's running back prowess and the wins it gave the team, but Ron grinned. 'You know it!' he said in his always-innocent tone. 'Mad Dog's still got the mad moves!'

Nick nodded, then he and the others moved down the hall. Ron whistled. 'Wow!' he said. 'I've never seen Nick get that emotional! I think he really missed me.'

Kim wondered for a moment how guys could tell that sort of thing, but stopped short of asking because the cheer squad was following not far behind the football team. They spotted Ron and greeted him warmly, though seeing Kim holding his hand seemed to stop any of them from trying a hug. One of the cheerleaders, however, did not look pleased to see them.

Bonnie was standing next to Tara and the others. 'Kim.' she said, and her voice was cold. She made only a half-glance at Ron. 'I see you found him.'

Kim nodded curtly. 'I suppose this means you want to take over as squad leader again?' said Bonnie.

'Uh... ya think?' said Ron. 'The squad needs their bon-diggety captain at the helm!'

'For your information loser,' said Bonnie, again without fully looking at him, 'The squad was doing just fine without her.'

Bonnie kept her eyes fixed on Kim, and as such, she did not see every other member of the squad frowning and shaking their heads behind her back, looking imploringly at Kim.

'Well as tempting as it would be to leave you in charge,' said Kim, matching Bonnie's sarcasm, 'As of today, practice resumes with me as head cheerleader.'

Everyone in the squad except Bonnie whooped. Bonnie tossed her hair and stumped off, glowering. Ron stared after her. 'Was she always that snarky or have I been away too long?' he said.

'Both.' said Kim.

'Ron! Great to have you back!' came another voice, before they had gotten much further. Felix was gliding down the hall in his futuristic wheelchair.

'Felix! Long time no see - I mean, really long time!' Ron and Felix high-fived, and Kim saw Monique coming down the hall as well.

While Ron and Felix chatted, Kim greeted Monique. 'Everything cool now that you're back home?'

Monique nodded. 'House is still in one piece.' she said.

'How about your mom's work place...?'

'It'll be down for another week or two. That giant golem thingy did quite a number on the business district. But... we'll get by until its up and running again.'

Kim wasn’t' sure what to say. After learning in Riddleton that Monique's family was short on funds, and even more so after the golem attack, she wanted to help in some way. And there were countless other people out there who had also been affected by Monkey Fist's scheme. She knew it sounded hollow and feeble, but she couldn't stop herself from asking. 'Is there anything I can do?'

Monique shrugged. 'Not unless you know building construction and repair.' she said. Then as if trying to change the subject, she turned to Ron and Felix. 'Nice to see you made it to school, Ron.' she said. 'After all the trouble we went through dragging you back.'

'Yeah, sorry about that.' said Ron sheepishly. 'Hope it doesn't happen again!'

'So, what was it like anyway?' Monique asked, putting forth the question that Kim herself hadn't asked him directly yet. 'Probable said you were in 'The Spirit World'. What's life like on... the other side?'

Ron looked uncomfortable, tugging at his own shirt sleeves. 'Well... it's kind of hard to explain...' he said.

'Can it wait a minute?' Felix spoke up. He was biting his lip nervously, looking back and forth among the four of them. 'Uh... Kim, Monique, could you give us a second?' he said.

Kim smiled and pulled Monique back a few steps. Ron looked politely puzzled as Felix gestured him closer and started speaking in conspiratorial mutters.

Monique was shrugging free from Kim's grip. 'What's up, girlfriend?' she said. 'I don't want to miss anything!'

'Monique, ixnay!' Kim whispered. 'Felix needs to ask Ron something!'

'So?' Monique answered. 'He can ask while we're there, can't he?'

'No.' said Kim firmly.

'Why not?'

'Because it's about Zita.' said Kim, nudging Monique's shoulder.

'What about her?'

'You remember?' said Kim, pouring on a sly tone to her voice. 'Felix wants to ask Ron... about Zi-taaaa?'

Monique's hands flew to her mouth in a comical gasp of remembrance and she stopped questioning at once. 'Oh....' she said. 'You think he'll be down with it? He kind of wierded out when Yori said she was fine with him dating. Won't he freak if someone he dated starts going out with his best friend?'

They heard Ron suddenly squeal 'Whoa!' They leaned their heads and saw him looking at Felix with a surprised smile on his face. They spoke a few seconds more, and then Ron's smile went lopsided and he started digging a fist into Felix's arm. Felix's face was totally red and he was hushing Ron desperately.

'Rufus was right.' said Kim, smiling. 'Looks like Ron's down with it.'

'Rufus is always right somehow.' said Monique. 'That's gotta be annoying.'

Ron was still thumping Felix on the back even as he was wheeling away. He had a dazed look on his face as he rejoined Kim and Monique. 'Wow - Felix and Zita?' he said. 'I must've been in the Spirit World longer than I thought! Did anyone else start dating while I was away?'

'They haven't started dating yet.' said Kim, but she was smiling too. 'He just wants to ask her out.'

'Well, Felix can be pretty smooth.' said Ron, rubbing his chin. 'I wouldn't be surprised...'

Part III
Kissus Interruptus

Finally they got to her locker. As she opened it, the computer screen inside blipped on and Wade was there, looking perfectly normal, comfortable, and at home behind his desk. 'What's the sitch, Wade?' she said, and Ron leaned in to listen.

'Hey Kim.' Wade answered. 'Thought you'd like an update on Riddleton.'

'You found them?' said Kim, surprised.

Wade's face looked crestfallen. 'Not yet.' he said regretfully. 'I've tried zeroing in on all the bugs I left while we were there. So far none of them are responding to my signals. I'm just tracing the last one...'

'Well it was worth a try...' said Kim, but she heard a loud beep from Wade's speakers.

'Hold it - this one's still active!' Wade looked delighted. 'Tracking...'

Kim held her breath, and Ron crossed his fingers. 'Oooh, this could be our lucky day!' he said, and Rufus nodded from Ron's hip pouch.

Wade's face looked baffled. 'According to this, the signal is coming from.... outside.'

'What?' said Kim.

Wade suddenly disappeared from his chair, and there was the sound of a door opening and closing. After a minute, Wade came back into the room carrying an unmarked package. He opened it up and Kim saw him dumping out a cascade of chunky, grey powder. Finally, there was a thunk as a tracking chip slid out and fell on the desk, along with a dusty note. He picked it up and stared for a moment. Then he glared and started reading.

'Dear Wade: Here are your tracking devices. Some settling may have occurred during shipping. Love and hugs, J-Girl.'

Kim, Ron and Wade stared silently at each other for a few seconds. Then Wade grumbled and turned back to his keyboard. 'I'll double check and see if they missed anything.' he muttered.

'Please and thank you.' said Kim, trying to smile.

'Well after all that, I guess we couldn't expect finding them to be easy.' said Ron, shrugging.

Kim thought back to the Mystical Monkey's advice - that the good guys work harder and that's why they win. Somehow though, she couldn't feel grateful to Team Probable for presenting such a challenge.

'Well, first period starts in a few minutes.' said Ron, glancing at the hallway clock. 'Guess I'll... see you at lunch.' He gently laid his hand on her shoulder and leaned closer. Kim knew he was going to kiss her, and she felt a twitch of momentary panic. But she forced it down, willing herself to relax....

'Possible! Stoppable!'

The sharp bellow of Mr. Barkin's voice made Ron squeal and try to hide behind the door of Kim's open locker. Mr. Barkin was standing before them with an expression like an angry thundercloud.

'You only just got back,' he growled at Ron. 'And you're already trying to break my PDA rules! I thought maybe you'd spend at least some of your time away learning to respect authority.'

'The sun was in my eyes!' said Ron, cringing. 'You saw me out of context! I forgot what the meaning of the word 'is' is!'

Mr. Barkin talked over him, ignoring his babbling. 'But I'm prepared to overlook the attempt, since I'm glad to see you back, Stoppable. The team hasn't been the same without you.'

Ron seemed to lower his guard, but only a little. 'You're glad?' he said. 'Is this some kind of trick?'

'Not at all.' said Mr. Barkin. 'In fact, I have a welcome home present.'

Ron brightened. 'A present? All right! It's about time the Ron-man got some appreciation!'

'I couldn't agree more.' said Mr. Barkin. He lifted up a sizeable block of paper which he had been carrying, and dropped it heavily into Ron's hands. 'And I'd appreciate you handing in this homework as quickly as you can. Graduation is still coming at the end of the school year, and you've got some catching up to do.'

'Homework?' Ron wailed. 'Aw man!'

'Not to mention you have some work shifts to make up for at Smarty-Mart.' Mr. Barkin went on. 'It won't be easy, but you should be able to finish all the homework and still pass your finals.'

'Come on, Mr. B!' Ron pleaded. 'It's not like I was off on vacation! Isn't there any way you could ease things up a little?'

Mr. Barkin raised an eyebrow in his characteristically stern expression. 'Yes, if you don't mind going to Summer School.' he said. 'Of course that would mean you wouldn't get your diploma with the rest of the Seniors.'

Ron had smiled hopefully on hearing Barkin say the word yes, but fell back into a dismayed frown after he finished. He looked back and forth between the pile of homework, and Kim. 'Not graduate with the others?' he said, his voice now weak and doubtful. He sighed heavily and hefted the pile of homework in his hands. 'Guess I'd better unplug the Y-Box.' he said. Then he turned to Kim. 'You'll help me out, right?'

Kim had a mental rush of images of Ron and herself, working on his homework. They might be sitting on the couch together, and Ron would be very close... close enough to hold hands... or kiss... She realized she was hesitating, and quickly blurted out, 'Spankin! That sounds... great.'

Ron seemed to notice something off about Kim's response, but Mr. Barkin was talking again. 'Welcome back then, Stoppable.' he said. Then he bellowed, 'Now both of you get to class before I give you detentions!'

Ron cowered again, then a second later he was rushing down the hallway, looking back at Kim and waving awkwardly while still holding onto his bundle of homework.

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At Riddleton High, Rhonda had gone through a similar gauntlet of being welcomed back by the Chess Club, the Track Team, by Cousin Mary, and Felicia. Donnie Stoneport had simply shaken his head and rolled his eyes, as if the sight of Grimm and Rhonda walking down the hall together was inconveniencing him somehow.

'Nice to know everyone's doing OK.' said Rhonda, fishing books from her locker. 'I can't believe Zack Powers asked Felicia out - who knew?'

Grimm felt his blood boiling slightly as he thought back to the time when Rhonda had been crushing on Zack a couple years ago. At the time he hadn't minded, but now... 'Me neither. I never liked him.' he said in a low grumble.

Rhonda caught his change in tone at once and playfully mussed his hair a little while bumping her locker closed with her hips. 'You're so cute when you jel.' she said in her chirpiest voice.

'I'm not jelling.' he answered defiantly.

'You're cute when you're not, too.' she said.

Grimm smiled and leaned against the lockers. Her voice had gone soft, and she was looking at him and standing in a way that he knew was her open invitation for a kiss. Their lips were just about to touch, and he could feel the warmth of her...

'Probable! Fatigable!'

Rhonda screamed and dropped her books as she jumped, banging the back of her head against the lockers. Ms. Darken was standing barely three feet from them, looking livid. 'You know my policy on public displays of affection within these halls, do you not?' she said.

'Good Morning Ms. Darken.' said Grimm flatly, while Rhonda scrabbled on the floor to pick up her books.

Ms. Darken glared at both of them. 'Come with me.' she said, and her voice was deathly cold.

Grimm and Rhonda looked at each other, and followed Ms. Darken down the hall. Rueful slipped inside Rhonda's book bag and zipped it shut. Ms. Darken led them towards her office. 'You missed several weeks’ worth of classes.' she said.

'It wasn't on purpose!' said Rhonda pleadingly. 'And I've got a perfectly sane explanation! You see, an Indian shaman used magic powers to send me to another dimension, and then there was this talking monkey...'

'Silence!' Ms. Darken shouted. Grimm signaled to Rhonda that now was not the time for interruptions, and they resumed following her without speaking

'While I'm glad you're back safe,' Ms. Darken continued, her heels clacking on the tiled hall floor. 'Your unscheduled furlough means you'll have quite a lot of catching up to do if you want to be on schedule for graduation.'

Rhonda's mouth fell open. She'd heard speeches like this from Ms. Darken enough times to know what was coming. 'You're giving me homework?' she squealed.

'Technically, I'm merely giving you the homework you missed while you were away.' Ms. Darken answered.

 

  animals

'Awwwww!' Rhonda moaned.

Grimm caught a gleam of satisfaction in Ms. Darken's eye as she opened the door to her office. 'The work will be challenging, but not insurmountable.' she said. 'So long as you adhere to a strict schedule from this point on....'

But the words died in her throat. As they entered, they saw Ms. Darken's desk was pattered with dusty pawprints. On top of the desk was an assortment of chipmunks, rabbits and songbirds. As soon as they saw Rhonda, their mis-matched chirps, squeaks and chittering rose in a chorus that sounded like 'Wekkom hom!'

Rhonda smiled. 'Aw, thanks guys!' she said. 'I missed you too!'

Ms. Darken's eyes shot back and forth between the animals and the scattered items on her otherwise rigidly ordered desk. There was a momentary pause as she took in a deep breath, her lungs swelling. The animals scattered, dove and flew out of the open office window. As they scurried away from the building, there was a prolonged shout from behind.

'Fatigable!!'

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Eventually the end of the school day came to Middleton, and the final bell rang. The students flooded eagerly out of their classes, slamming locker doors and chatting as they headed for the exits. Kim was collecting books from her locker. Ron had settled back into class attendance fairly easily, though it was clear that he was scrambling to try and update all his notebooks and re-review all the things he'd studied before he had been banished. He seemed anxious to catch up, and as they headed for the main doors, Kim caught him looking nervously at a banner draped near the trophy case that read 'R U Ready 2 Graduate?'

But Kim was also nervous - about being alone with Ron. 'So... are you coming to my place to start on that homework?' she said.

'Not yet.' said Ron. He was shaking his book bag, where his work vest was poking out. 'I've gotta high-tail it over to Smarty Mart! I've got catching up there too. But I'll be done later in the evening - is it OK if I come over then? Barkin actually gave me a color coded chart to follow...'

'Sure thing.' Kim answered, but it was through another forced smile.

'I'll see you later then..' and unexpectedly, he leaned forward. His lips brushed against hers.

Ron was still locked in the closet, sleeping on a bed of boxes. His face was shocked and helpless as she threatened his place on the team if he didn't step up against Team Probable. He was staring at her across a booth table at Bueno Nacho, with a tracking chip between them, looking betrayed and sad...

Kim broke off the kiss and leaned back. 'Not here.' she said, trying to sound innocent. 'You don't want to get Barkined again, right?'

Ron looked momentarily surprised by her withdrawal from the kiss, but a look of understanding quickly replaced it. 'Oh yeah.' he said, looking around as if he expected Barkin to suddenly burst out of a locker and start shouting at him. 'Well, I'll see you later tonight!' And he dashed out of the school.

She waved at him through the doorways while he waved back. 'Tonight...' she said through her forced smile. '...just great.'

She felt ashamed of herself. This was twice now that she should have been relishing the chance to kiss her BF freely again, but all she could think about was all the rotten things she had seen herself doing on her spiritual journey. She remembered kissing him just after he'd returned - she hadn't felt such intense shame or guilt then. What was wrong with her? She sighed and looked at her watch. Cheer practice was in a few minutes, and she had to hurry and get changed. But as she turned back into the hallway, she stopped short.

Bonnie was standing only a few feet away. She was staring at Kim with a look of cunning perception, her eyebrow raised. 'Can't bring yourself to kiss him, huh Kim?' she said. 'Well, I can't say I blame you. After all, he is N.O.K.D.'

Kim stared back at her blankly.

Bonnie smirked. 'Not Our Kind, Dear.' and she turned, heading down the hallway towards the gym.

   

school

     
               
 
Coming Soon:
Chapter 36

What is it that's hard to do,
because it's hard on you?

Author: Now that Kim and Ron are home at last, Kim is finding that the spiritual journey isn't as over as she thought it was. What will it mean for the team? And now that Grimm is back, what has he got up his sleeve? Don't give up on the story just yet, for the heaviest blows are still to fall!

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