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

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

Chapter 37:
Crucible

Part I:
Absence Makes the Heart Growth Flounder

Kim glumly closed her locker at Middleton High. It was two days since she broke up with Ron, and the school rumor mill had been predictably buzzing. People would stop talking when she walked by, then start again after she'd passed. She didn't know if what they were saying about her was good or bad. But even if it was bad, she thought she deserved it.

It wasn't long after Ron had left that Kim realized she hadn't taken several things into account - first on the list being how this would affect their friendship. Kim was too ashamed to ask him to just hang out as a friend. And she knew he would be too timid to bring it up. He respected her feelings too much - it was one of the things that had made him so great.

But there was also the question of missions. Sooner or later, she was bound to get another one. And having Ron come along on a mission would feel so awkward she wasn't sure she could face it. It was too soon.

She turned from her locker and saw Ron heading down the hall to his classes with a jumble of books under his arm. They shared a painful glance at each other before he turned a corner and passed out of sight. It had been like that the whole time. Both of them were too afraid to speak to each other for fear of making things worse. So neither of them said anything at all.

And she felt doubly guilty, because she was sure he was having a rough time with all the homework Barkin had dumped on him. And she had said she would help him - but that was before she had broken up with him. She still wanted to help, but how could she?

She missed his company - not just as a boyfriend, but as a friend who was a boy. And she had to keep a tissue handy to dab her eyes, sometimes even during classes. There had been no hiding it from Monique. She cornered her during lunch hour of the first day after the break up.

'Girl, are you nuts?' she had said, her voice low and her back hunched, trying to screen everyone else in the cafeteria from the conversation. Kim only shook her head. 'Kim, we spent the last three-odd weeks trying to find Ron so you could be with him again!' she said. 'What happened?'

'I can't talk about it.' said Kim.

'Can't?' said Monique. 'Girl, you can do anything. You know you can talk to me.'

'Not about this.' said Kim, shaking her head. The visions of her spiritual journey were simply too personal.

'Did he do the bon-diggety dance in public again or something?'

'No!' Kim said quickly. 'It wasn't anything he did. Please just... don't ask me.' Kim could see the cogs working in Monique's brain, using what little information she had given away. 'If it wasn't Ron, then it must have been...'

But Monique couldn't think of any way to ask it directly. Kim had just laid it down, and Monique couldn't press the subject any further without going against her wishes. Which brought the conversation to a halt and left only silence filled with confusion, curiosity and a desire to help with no way to act on it. And it didn't help when Ron walked by at that very moment. He looked wistfully at the table where Kim and Monique were sitting, then wandered off looking for an empty spot somewhere else.

Kim's eyes followed after him until she saw Monique's hand right in front of her face, her fingers snapping. Monique sighed. 'Girl, you miss him.' she said. 'You think I can't tell? Just talk to him. You've been friends since Pre-K. Whatever's goin' on, you know he'd understand.'

Kim winced. She knew Ron had seen her battle with Kim-i-i. Had he seen any of the other things that Kim had seen on her spiritual journey? In a way, she knew he had. He had been the central figure of each vision - both he and she had lived through each of them. But to have seen them all in that context, realizing exactly what they meant, how shabby she had treated him... The thought of it filled her with shame. 'I just can't.' she said helplessly, looking over to where Ron was still looking for an empty seat. 'I can't.'

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Ron was having his own issues to deal with. Everywhere he went, he heard similar whispers and muttered comments. 'Kim Possible finally dumped Ron.' As he went from class to class, he was almost sure he'd seen some of the students putting away betting ledgers as he approached. He wouldn't have been surprised. They'd probably been running odds on their relationship from the day he and Kim had shown up at Junior Prom holding hands.

He'd been let down by girls before, and he'd heard all the old lines. 'I like you as a friend', 'you're like a brother', 'it's just not working out', 'I'm busy that night' and a host of others. But there was something about breaking up with Kim that made it much worse. At least with other girls he could fool himself into believing their excuses because he didn't know them all that well. Maybe they really were 'busy that night'.

But he knew when Kim was busy and when she wasn't. They knew pretty much everything about each other. And so in his mind, there was no getting around the fact that Kim just didn't want him around anymore.

He hadn't talked to anyone about it, not even his parents. He didn't want anyone to think Kim was being a jerk, and he wasn't going to do anything to feed the rumor mills at school. He bore it in silence.

But he hadn't been able to lie to Felix. Felix had known something was up on the very first day, and it only took him a little bit of fishing to get more information. 'You and Kim broke up?' he said, shaking his head. 'Dude - that's harsh! I was going to ask you to go doubles with me and Zita next week.'

Ron rubbed the back of his head, poofing up his cowlick. 'Yeah, I'm gonna have to bail on that one.' he said. 'It'd be kind of awkweird, you know?'

Felix was still shaking his head as if in denial. 'Dude - how'd it happen?' he said. 'For three weeks, she was focused on finding you like a laser beam. It was all she talked about. Now she just ups and says 'it's splitsville'? It's not another guy, is it? Because if it is, then that's more than harsh, it's brutal!'

Ron shrugged. 'I don't think so.' he said. 'But... maybe. I don't know. She wouldn't explain anything.'

Felix drummed his fingers on the dashboard of his high-tech wheelchair. 'Girls.' he said. 'What's the deal with them?'

Ron couldn't answer, and even Rufus was holding up his paws in helpless bewilderment.

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The second day was ending, and Kim was in cheer practice. Part of a cheerleader's training was to look happy and enthusiastic on the field. You had to be radiant. Even when it was raining, or snowing and you were freezing or soaked to the skin. Through spills, bumps, bangs and abrasions, you had to keep smiling. That applied to bad moods as well. Even if the very last thing in the world you felt like doing was smiling and cheering, you had to do it anyway. It was just part of the job.

But the peppy tune that was playing while they practiced was the very opposite of how she felt. She felt dull, listless and miserable, and it was carrying over into her performance.

The squad formed a perfect pyramid, their voices thundered through the gym. 'Goooo Mad Dogs! Gooooo Mad Dogs! Gooooooooo Mad Dogs!'

And Kim vaulted to her place at the top of the pyramid, raising one arm. 'Go Mad Dogs.' she said in a flat monotone.

And the routine ended as if someone had just dragged the needle across and old-style record player. The rest of the squad dismantled the pyramid with mutters and sighs. Bonnie however, was a bit more vocal. Once everyone was back on the ground, she started.

'We've been doing this for like an hour.' She said it indignantly, as if cheer practice and being popular was keeping her from other things she'd rather be doing. 'Aren't you always the one saying 'head in the game'? Where's your head today? Because it's sure not here.'

'Don't start with me today, Bonnie.' said Kim, but she sounded more tired than angry.

'Why, because you're still pining over your ex?' said Bonnie mercilessly. 'You're the one who dumped him, right? So why are you wasting everybody's time acting like it was the other way around?'

Everyone in the squad winced as Kim and Bonnie glared at each other. But again, Kim looked like she was too tired to argue, or that she just didn't care. 'Fine.' she said. 'Practice is over for today.' Then she stumped off to the showers. None of the rest of the squad followed her.

Once Kim had gone out of sight, Tara rounded on Bonnie. 'What is with you?' she hissed.

Bonnie was examining her fingernails and looking totally detached. 'I don't know what you're talking about.' she said, and it sounded like she really didn't.

'She and Ron broke up.' Tara said. 'Show a little sensitivity!'

'I know they broke up. Why all the drama?' said Bonnie. 'You're acting like it was a bad thing. All that happened was that Kim wised up and sent Ron to loserville where he belongs. He's back with his people, and Kim doesn't have to confuse anyone by dating a geek. It's just the food chain re-establishing itself. Kim should be celebrating instead bringing down everyone else with her moping.'

Tara glared like she couldn't beleive what she was hearing. Then her face hardened. 'Do you remember how you fell apart when Brick dumped you like a sack of garbage?' she said.

Bonnie's face reddened and suddenly her attention was focused completely on Tara. 'Yes.' she said with a low, dangerous growl. 'And I thought it was agreed that we would never speak of it again.'

'Well, did Kim gloat and say Brick was better off without you? Did Kim say you deserved what you got? Did she take it out on you, even after you kissed Ron right in front of her?'

'Noooo.' said Bonnie slowly, her teeth gritted. 'And I'll thank you not to mention that again either!'

'Kim even helped you find a new BF.' said Tara. 'So for once in your life - will you just shut up?' And she headed off to the shower room.

Bonnie's mouth was hanging open. 'Oh you did not just tell me to shut up!' she said. But Tara did not answer or look back. 'Oh you are not walking away from me!' Bonnie said.

One by one, the rest of the squad filed out of the gym until Bonnie was standing alone. She shook her head. 'I can't believe you just walked away from me...' And her voice echoed in the now empty gym.

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After practice, the football team trooped into the boys' lockers. All except for a few. Ron stayed on the bench, acting as if he hadn't heard the whistle ending practice. Nick Tragg, Matt and Cliff hung back as well. 'We sacked you twice, Stoppable.' said Nick. 'Normally we can't lay a finger on you. What's the deal?'

Ron winced, nursing bruises around his ribcage. 'Sorry guys.' he said. 'I guess there's not much hustle in my bustle today.'

'I know what's wrong.' said Matt, using his voice which was as dense and muscular as he was himself. 'He's off his game 'cuz Possible dumped him.'

'Oh yeah.' said Cliff. with a forced nonchalance. 'I heard rumors - that true?'

Ron sighed. 'Well, yes. But don't say it like that!' he answered.

'Tough break, Stoppable.' said Nick. 'But cheer up. Now that you're on the team, you'll have plenty of girls to choose from.'

'Yeah,' Matt guffawed. 'Man, being on the team is like girl-nip or something.'

Ron hadn't considered that. He was the team's star running back after all. And it wasn't just cheerleaders - lots of girls admired the football team, even if it was for shallow reasons. But he didn't like to think about finding another girl so soon, like picking up a pebble on a beach. 'Uh, can we talk about something else?' he said.

'Hey, Senior Prom is coming up fast.' said Cliff, shrugging. 'Might as well find some new arm-candy.'

Ron had almost fogotten about Senior Prom with all the other things that had happened. The thought of going with someone else left him feeling totally flat, but he knew the team wouldn't leave him alone until he said something. 'Yeah, I'll get right on that.' he answered weakly.

'That's the spirit.' said Nick. 'Let's hit the showers - you coming, Stoppable?'

Ron shrugged. 'In a minute.'

'Suit yourself.' said Nick, and he started jogging off the field.

But Cliff was scratching his head, looking even more like a gorilla than usual. 'Speaking of Prom... does this mean Possible's available?' he said.

Ron winced and felt his face get hot, ready to rush to Kim's defense. But then he remembered that Kim didn't need 'defending' from people asking her out. With a hollow voice, he answered. 'I guess so.'

'All right!' said Cliff, and he and Matt high-fived each other before walking off.

Ron felt sick. It certainly hadn't taken them long to try and move in. But he no longer had any claim on Kim's affection. She was free to turn it to anyone she liked. He allowed himself a bitter chuckle, knowing that both Matt and Cliff's dealings with girls was at least as boorish and clueless as Brick's had been. 'I wonder if Kim will punch them through a window?' he thought with a joyless smile. Then he remembered with a jolt that as clueless as Brick had been, he had dated Bonnie for a long time. Clearly, thick-headedness wasn't a disqualifier for getting dates with cheerleaders. And had his own dealings with Kim when they were dating been any less clueless? He couldn't honestly say that he had been any better.

He kicked his heels idly on the bench, staring across the empty field with its gently waving grass. 'Maybe next time, It'll be different.' he thought. 'For whoever I wind up dating.' but still, he could only picture Kim's face.

'Stoppable!'

Ron flinched, catapulting himself from the bench and landing with a thud on the grass. As he scrambled to his feet, he saw Mr. Barkin standing in front of him, glaring. He wondered for a moment how a man so muscular could move with such stealth.

'I heard about your recent break-up.' he said, and while his voice was still stern, it was slightly less stern than usual, which Ron guessed was his way of trying to sound gentle. 'It's never easy, kid. My sympathies. If you ever need to talk about it, my door is open.'

'Uh... thanks Mr. B.' said Ron warily. 'But I'm not really feeling talky yet.'

'I understand.' said Mr. Barkin. 'Fortunately, I've discovered a sure-fire way to ease the pain, and I'm willing to share the secret with you.'

Ron brightened. Anything that might help ease the emptiness he was feeling, even if it was an idea from Mr. Barkin, was something that grabbed his interest. 'Really?' he said.

Mr. Barkin nodded. 'Really.' he said. Then he lifted a sheaf of papers and handed it to Ron.

Ron's jaw dropped. 'More homework?' he wailed. 'Aw, man...!'

Mr. Barkin patted Ron on the shoulder. 'Believe me, there's nothing that solves life's problems better than solving school problems.' he said. 'It helps keep things in perspective. An hour or so working on these, and you'll be right as rain.'

As Mr. Barkin left the field, Ron had to admit, the sudden addition of homework had made him forget about Kim for a few seconds. Finally he made his way to the lockers, wondering if he'd wind up doing homework for the rest of his life to try and forget Kim.

Part II:
Spirit Whirled


The places where spiritual entities resided were beyond mere description. Most people who encountered a spirit being, in their linear way of thinking, somehow imagined that such beings faded in and out of existence completely, unless they were interacting with a mortal. Only then could they 'exist', in the minds of mortals, because only then were they visible.

It was a short-sighted, ignorant and naive way of looking at things, sniffed the Mystical Monkey. But mortal minds simply couldn't comprehend infinity. Mortals preferred a room with four walls close around them when contemplating the eternities, and most of them could only understand the things they could see and touch.

The Mystical Monkey had existed for eons before Kim Possible, before Toshimiru, before Japan. And he would exist long after they were all gone. His dealings with mortals were brief and limited, and as such, they were the stuff of myth and legend. But at the moment, he was gazing with his vision at Kim Possible, as she wandered through her days with a grey cloud about her. And at Ron, who was similarly veiled, as if the darkness he had endured in the Spirit World had somehow followed him, though Ron could no longer see it.

'Oh dear.' The Mystical Monkey shook his head. 'She learn her lesson, but now she taking it too far. Does this girl ever do anything half way? I'm a spiritual entity with the wisdom of the ages and the fury of the ancients. I can't believe the fate of the world depend on me playing date doctor to a pair of teenagers - what a life!' He sighed and squared his shoulders. 'I guess I better go talk to her and straighten this out....'

The Great Bear Spirit was also there, seeing, hearing, and encompassing the same things. His voice rumbled and he shook his head. 'That may not be necessary.' his deep voice boomed, though his jaws did not open. 'If I am correct, events have been set in motion that should resolve things.'

The Mystical Monkey stared up at the Great Bear curiously. 'What going on?' he said. 'You supposed to be the flashy, theatrical one. I the quiet, smart one. What you got cooking?'

The Great Bear merely stared off into the distance. 'Let us wait a bit and see.' his voice rumbled.

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Grimm was walking Rhonda home after school. They were making headway on Rhonda's homework, though it took him a lot of effort to keep focused on the assignments rather than sitting close to Rhonda. Having spent a month with her missing, he was feasting on the sensation of having her there again. But as much as he wanted to sit next to her while doing the homework, and hold her close, he resisted.

There was, after all, a lot of homework, and one of his many life philosophies gleaned from studying Tai Shing Pek Kwar was, the time for fun is when the work is done. So he focused his energy on helping Rhonda get caught up - so that when all the homework was out of the way, he could turn his attention to her properly.

'History tonight.' he said. 'And an essay on Native America - well, that one should be a snap. You've lived some of the legeds just over the last few weeks. Should be interesting to describe...' he trailed off.

But again, Rhonda did not rise to the bait. She had been tight-lipped on what she had experienced in the Spirit World since she got back. She mumbled and half-nodded without looking at him as they reached the sidewalk near her house. 'So you'll be over after dinner?' she said.

'Yeah, I...' he started, but then his communicator beeped. He fished it from his hip pouch and turned it on in one practiced movement. 'What's the sitch, Jade?' he said. 'I thought we were putting jobs on hold until after everything worldwide is back to normal.'

'Not really a job.' said Jade's voice. 'More like a follow-up. I just had word from the Middleton based Irregulars. It looks like Possible and Stoppable have broken up.'

Grimm didn't say anything for several seconds. Neither did Rhonda, though she was holding her school books more tightly. At last, Grimm spoke one word. 'Details.'

Jade leaned her head. 'Only know what they heard from the school grapevine. That Possible was the dumper, and Ron the dumpee. No one knows how it went down except Kim and Ron, and they ain't talkin'.'

Grimm's eyes were unfocused, but gleaming. 'Stay on it.' he said. 'We'll be in touch soon.' And he turned off the communicator.

'They broke up?' Rhonda said quietly. 'Why? They just got back home, they just went through all that misery...'

Grimm didn't answer. He looked surprised, delighted, and also relieved - as if he had just won a lottery jackpot. 'It's over.' he said quietly. 'We won! With Kim and Ron breaking up, they're not a team anymore!'

He whooped and gave Rhonda a quick hug, not noticing the ashen look on her face. 'This couldn't have worked out any better if we'd planned it!' he said, smirking. 'The coffin is already shut - we just have to nail it and throw on some dirt. Whatever else may come out of that business with the golems, Team Possible is finished.'

He headed towards the sidewalk, talking almost to himself. 'We need to get to Jade's place.' he muttered. 'Communications are still spotty, so her network is the best bet to coordinate things. Now that Kim's dumped Ron, all we need is to have the Irregulars do some subtle sabotage. Then we get each of them thinking that the other is behind it as revenge for the breakup. It won't be long before we have them at each others throats!'

He turned his head, expecting to see Rhonda walking beside him. But she wasn't there. He looked back and saw her, still on the walkway leading out from the porch. She looked strange. Her eyes were down, and she was frowning.

Grimm held out his hand. 'Come on, what are you waiting for?' he said. 'This'll be fun. We can pay them back for everything you had to go through in the Spirit World.'

Rhonda lowered her head. 'I... I can't.' she said, almost in a whisper.

Grimm stared. 'What?'

She looked up at him, and Grimm was astonished to see tears welling in the corners of her eyes. 'I don't want to 'get even' with Ron.' she said, and she sighed as if preparing to jump into cold water. 'You keep trying to get me to talk about what it was like in the Spirit World.' she said. 'Do you really want to know? It was a nightmare. It felt like I was being roasted alive. And it was my own bad vibes that made it that way. I was this close to snapping, and he saved me. He didn't have to, but he did. Even after everything we've pulled on them.'

Grimm shook his head. 'Babe, don't go soft on me.' he said. 'They're not our friends. This is our chance to put and end to them as competitors once and for all! And because of a little spirit hocus-pocus you're saying you don't want to?'

Rhonda wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. 'A little hocus pocus?' she said. 'Grimm, I'm not the smartest girl in school, and I can't think of how to explain it. You just don't know what it was like in that place! If it wasn't for Ron, I'd have gone crazy. He saved me, Grimm. I can't hurt him anymore. I can't.'

  sundered paths

Grimm was stunned, and for the first time he could remember, he was at a loss for words. 'Rhonda...?'

But Rhonda was turning away, heading down the sidewalk back to her house. 'I won't stop you from hurting them, Grimm.' she said, and her voice was quavering. 'But I won't help you.' Her front door opened, then closed, and she was gone.

Grimm stood dumbfounded and silent, looking at the empty stretch of sidewalk.

'Unless you change with her, she will walk a different path from you.'

Grimm clenched his fists, staring at the ground. Beside him was the road leading to Jade's house. And empty and silent was the path Rhonda had taken instead. He stood motionless, hovering between the two.

Part III:
Machia-villain Schemes

Dinner at the Possible house was a subdued business, as it had been for the last two nights. Hardly anyone spoke, except to ask for dishes to be passed. And hardly any noise was made except for the clinking of utinsels on plates.

Kim was the reason. Mr. Dr. Possible was naturally reticent for any kind of emotional scene, and Kim was prone to fits of quiet sobs without warning. The problem was that everything reminded Kim of Ron. He had been so ingrained into her life, whether missions, or school or just hanging out, that his not being there made her think about him more than ever.

When he had been banished to the spirit world, it was one thing. Then he had been physically missing, but she had never really lost hope that she would find him. Now he was back, but his abscense was inflicted by herself.

Kim picked at her food, not really paying attention to anything. She wasn't at the dinner table - she was at the dinner table without Ron. She wasn't in her house, she was in her house without Ron. It seemed she wasn't doing anything anymore - she was just doing things without Ron. Suddenly she heard Tim muttering from off to the side.

'There's too much food.' he said, and he was right. Everyone had eaten, but there was still a goodly portion left over.

'Yeah.' said Jim. 'Normally Ron would...' but he trailed off, catching himself.

Kim put down her fork. 'May I be excused?' she said quietly, but she didn't wait for an answer. She swept out of the kitchen, heading for her room.

The Possibles who remained at the table stared after her. Mrs. Dr. Possible looked pained. Mr. Dr. Possible was quiet. Jim and Tim seemed uncomfortable for a second, then Jim sighed.

'Crying again?' he said.

Mrs. Dr. Possible glared at him sternly. 'Jim, be more considerate!'

'We have been!' said Jim. 'But she does that like every half an hour...'

'Then you should know better than to bring up Ron when she's around.' said Mrs. Dr. Possible.

'But he was here all the time.' Tim protested. 'It's not like we can just pretend he never existed!'

'Well, you both have a point.' said Mr. Dr. Possible, standing up. 'I think it's time I had a talk with her - without trying to foist her off on you.'

Mrs. Dr. Possible shook her head. 'Honey please - that could make things worse...'

Mr. Dr. Possible looked like he wanted to follow his wife's advice, but there was a determined gleam in his eyes and Mrs. Dr. Possible knew he would have to have his say. It wasn't often that he took the initiative in parenting discussions, but when he did, it was a sign that he was serious.

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Kim was in her room, lying on her bed, her face buried in the pillow, her hands clenching the soft corners. She kept telling herself over and over that she had done the right thing. But the ache of loss felt like a snarling animal inside her, biting and gnawing at her vitals.

'I'm sorry Ron. I'm so sorry. But you're better off this way. I've done nothing but hurt you....' She heard soft footsteps coming up the stairs to her loft. For a wild moment, she thought it was Ron.

'Kimmie-cub?' came the low, timid voice of her father.

Kim sat up, composing herself quickly, wiping her eyes. 'Hi Dad,' she said. 'Sorry about leaving dinner so fast.'

Dr. Possible stood looking at her, his face looking grave. 'I wanted to talk to you... about Ron.'

Kim hung her head, looking away. 'There's nothing to talk about.' she said. 'It's over.'

Dr. Possible sighed. 'Kimmie-cub, I can't stand to see you like this.' he said. 'I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be fighting to get you together with a boy.'

Kim laughed shortly. 'Yeah, it's kind of weird isn't it?'

Dr. Possible smiled. 'I think I'm like every parent. When your little girl falls in love, it's a sign they're growing up - and that she's not a little girl anymore. But there comes a time in a parent's life when they have to accept it and let them go.'

'I understand that, Dad.' she said, frowning. 'That's why I had to let Ron go.'

Dr. Possible shook his head. 'Sorry there Kim. But you're wrong on that one. I've been watching you for two days now, and you've never been more miserable. You've got everything you ever had before, but I can tell just by looking that you feel like you've lost it all. And there's only one thing missing - Ron Stoppable.'

Kim fought to control her tears, her lip trembling. Dr. Possible almost smiled, because she looked exactly as if she were doing her puppy-dog pout. 'Oh dad...' she said, her voice breaking. 'I miss him so much, it hurts all the time. But...' And she stopped herself, still not able to talk about her spiritual journey and what she decided it meant.

'But... what?' said Mr. Dr. Possible gently.

Kim shook her head, dashing away another tear.

Dr. Possible sighed. 'Well, I'm no rocket scientist Kim....' he said, then paused, blinking. 'Oh wait - I am a rocket scientist! Anyhoo, I may not know what's going on with you at the moment. But I'm smart enough to know this - Ron's stuck with you through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad. He's gone through more for you than grown men twice his age would go through for a girl. Most other boys would have called it quits, but not him. And in my book - that says a lot.'

Kim had been staring at her knees. But as her father finished speaking, she turned to him, only to see that he was already going back down the stairs.

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Wade was poring over his keyboard, still trying to find a way to track down Riddleton. He saw little hope of it. Grimm's family had the might of the DOD behind them, but Wade had done the impossible before, and he wasn't ready to give up.

He saw a blinking cursor he'd set up for when Kim was calling. He hesitated a little before answering. 'Oh man,' he thought. 'I hope she doesn't want to ask advice about break ups...' And when he activated the chat function, he thought his fear was confirmed. Kim looked off. Way off. Her eyes were puffy and she was wiping them.

'Wade? Can you meet me at Bueno Nacho? I need to talk to someone.'

Wade squirmed in his computer chair. 'Uhhh....' he said, casting about in his mind for an excuse to duck out, 'Well now's not really the best time...'

'Please, Wade.' she said, and even her voice sounded squeaky and strained. 'I need a friend.'

'I... uh... I mean.... oooh...' Wade sputtered.

'Please and thank you.' she said. Then the screen went to black.

'Gah... whuh... mmmfff.' Wade ended, feeling trapped and helpless. He knew absolutely nothing about comforting a girl who had broken up. His own fumbling attempts at dating Monique came back to his mind. Why Kim was coming to him, he had no idea. After all, she'd had a front-row seat for the disaster with his Cupid Ray. Surely Monique would be better if Kim wanted girl talk - or her mom - or even Bonnie? He'd even have recommended Rufus rather than himself.

But Kim had been acting so bummed out lately, that he found himself leaving the house and heading to Bueno Nacho. It wasn't exactly a short walk, but he'd managed the hike to Club Banana well enough on Valentine's Day.

He was so distracted, wondering what he could possibly say to Kim, that he didn't notice two people falling in step behind him as he walked. He was passing by an alleyway between two buildings when he suddenly felt a hand clamp over his mouth. Strong arms were winding around him and someone had kicked his feet out from under him. He was being dragged into the alleyway, and he started to struggle, trying to free himself...

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Kim stayed in her room after her father had left, trying to take her mind off things by doing some homework. It wasn't working. She had written 'Ron' as the answer to several problems before she realized it, and was erasing them to start over again when she heard her Kimmunicator beeping. Wade's face blipped onto the screen.

'Hey Wade - what's the sitch?' she said.

Wade looked at her. 'How ya holding up, Kim?' he said softly.

Kim frowned. 'OK I guess.' she said.

'OK enough for a mission?' he looked at her curiously.

'Guess so.' she said.

'There's an infiltration and observation job Global Justice forwarded to me. They said they need a young girl who looks good in a formal dress.'

'That's mega-weird.' said Kim. 'Am I spying on another high school or something?'

'That's all I've got to go on right now, Kim.' said Wade, shrugging. 'They say they'll give me the details to pass along to you once you're there. In the meantime, they sent along a new covert surviellance device - check your pack.'

Kim looked in her backpack, and sure enough, she fished out an object that she didn't remember being there at the start of the day. 'Wade - how do you keep getting stuff in my bags without me noticing?'

Wade looked a bit shifty for a second. 'I've... got sources.' he said, but didn't elaborate.

'Just stay out of my closet.' Kim grumbled. 'It was weird enough when Ron...' she stopped talking abrupty, for thinking about Ron triggered her sadness again. She turned her attention to what she was holding. It looked like a bracelet - decorative, but much heavier than it should have been. It looked familiar somehow. 'What is this thing?'

'It's called the Portable Audio/Visual Recording Apparattus Disguised As Jewelry - or the PAVRADAJ.' said Wade, looking excited. 'It's loaded with cameras, microphones and scanners - just the ticket for gathering data in a covert setting.'

Kim slid it warily over her left wrist. 'Well, I hope it goes with my dress.' she said. 'How do I turn it on?'

'No need.' Wade grinned. 'It uploads remote to my computer automatically. No buttons, noises or beeps that might tip anyone off! I'm feeding the coordinates of the drop to your Kimmunicator. Global Justice says timing's important - no earlier and no later.'

Kim checked the data on her screen. 'I'm on it.' she said. 'And... thanks Wade. I could use the distraction.'

'Good luck, Kim.' he said, then the screen blipped off.

Kim took off the PAVRADAJ and covered it with her pillow. She trusted Wade not to look while she was changing, but if the thing really was recording all the time, she'd just as soon make sure that the cameras couldn't see anything.

Kim sighed, thinking of the dress Ron had tried to give her in the treehouse - it would have been great for this mission. Instead she fished out her Homecoming dress and smoothed out some of the wrinkles. 'Time to get back in the saddle.' she thought, glumly.

( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - )

In her darkened computer room, Jade shut off the simulator which had projected Wade's face and voice through her communicator. She had stolen the technology from Dr. Drakken during one of their jobs, and it came in handy for this operation. 'Done and done, G-Man.' she said. 'I sent the other message too. He fell for it hook, line and sinker.'

Grimm stepped forward from a shadowed corner, smiling. 'How about Wade?' he said.

'A couple of the Irregulars have him.' Jade said. 'They'll keep him under wraps until its all over.' She sighed doubtfully. 'Grimm, are you sure you want to go through with this?'

'Oh yeah.' said Grimm, his eyes gleaming. 'By the time I'm finished, Team Possible won't know what hit them.'

Part IV
Fireworks At Last

Kim parked the Sloth by the side of a road. It was dark, with stars beginning to peer out from behind the curtain of twilight that was deepening as night fell. She got out of the car and looked around. She was near the outskirts of Upperton, next to what looked like a garden park. But with night falling, it seemed to be empty. There were rising, grassy hills and trees, but no buildings within sight. There seemed to be a hillside a few moments walk into the park.

Her Kimmunicator beeped as she turned it on. 'Wade, are you sure this is the right place?'

Wade shrugged. 'This is where Global Justice said to be.' he answered. 'They said to go in until you hit a clearing. There's some kind of secret outdoor gathering of smugglers, crime bosses and mercenaries. They're supposedly hatching schemes to take advantage of the disruption in global communications. Your undercover ID is Donna Prima, a visiting representative from the Yamaw Corporation, a subsidiary of HenchCo. Global Justice says to just blend in and use the bracelet to record as much as you can. Once you've got enough intel, they'll do the rest.'

'All right, I'm going in.' said Kim.

'Going radio silent.' said Wade. 'Good luck.'

As Kim went further into the park, she felt a growing sense of wariness. Not because she was worried about blending in with anyone she might bump into, but because there didn't seem to be anyone to 'blend in' with. She could hear no voices, and saw no signs that anyone else was about.

She hiked to the top of a low hillside, her heels punching through the grass and making the climb awkward. She reached the top and looked around. Below her was a sort of hollow - a bowl like depression. The area was lined with trees, except for two hillsides, one where she had just entered, and another across the way.

But there was still no one else to be seen. She tried beeping Wade on her Kimmunicator, but no one answered. Years of missions and fighting villains was making her 'trap' instincts kick in. But she still couldn't see anyone else around, not even any poorly constructed doomsday machines.

She stayed tense as she walked down into the hollow, determined to check things out before she went back to the Sloth. It was even darker in the hollow, but there was enough light to see for a few feet around. She found nothing after a few minutes of searching and was getting ready to turn back, thinking of some choice words she might have for Wade once she was back home.

But she suddenly felt a prickling at the back of her neck that told her she was not alone. She was near the center of the hollow, where there were only a few trees scattered widely around. But something was getting nearer.

She slunk to the side of a tree and put the trunk between herself and the unknown intruder. Whoever it was, they were making a lot of noise, so they obviously couldn't see any better in the dimness than she could. After a few moments, the sound of human footsteps was only a few feet away, and getting closer...

She leaped out, her fist raised, and bore down on the intruder. There was a loud wail, and a figure cringed in front of her. She stopped in mid-punch, her free hand on the collar of a tuxedo jacket, and gaped.

'Ron?' she said.
'Kim?' said Ron, looking relieved and terrified.
'What are you doing here?' they both said at once. Then they both said, 'Wade sent me!'

Kim let go of Ron and put a hand over her eyes, shaking her head. 'All right,' she said. 'What did Wade tell you?'

Ron looked very uncomfortable, but answered. 'He called and said there was a spy mission, and that you were too busy. He just said to put on my tux and show up here.'

Kim fumed. It wasn't like Wade to do something like this. Her eyes fell on the thick bracelet she was wearing, and she saw one around Ron's wrist as well. 'And did he also tell you to wear this?' she said, reaching down and pulling up Ron's hand.

'Yeah...' Ron started, but they were both interrupted by a loud humming.

As soon as her hand had gotten close to Ron's, Kim felt the bracelet suddenly tighten, closing firmly around her wrist with a whirring sound. Ron's bracelet made the same noise. Before either of them could react, they felt a powerful tugging, and the bracelets were pulled together. It was then that Kim recognized what these bracelets were. The look was a bit modified, but she was sure that they were Electro-Magnetic manacles.

'Hey!' said Ron. The manacles clanked loudly in the still air of the hollow as they met.

Both Kim and Ron pulled with all their strength, but they were now effectively handcuffed together. Their hands were actually touching. Kim stared into his eyes, shocked. 'You and Wade planned this!' she said angrily. 'To try and talk me out of breaking up with you!'

Ron spluttered, shaking his head. 'No I didn't!'

'Oh come on!' said Kim, looking around. 'Be sure to wear a formal dress? And you just happen to show up in a tux? And we both just happen to be wearing these cuffs?'

'No!' said Ron again, still trying to pull loose. 'I promise, I accepted that you broke up with me...' Ron's manacle made a loud buzzing sound. 'Ow!' he shouted. 'Hey, that hurts!'

Kim kept staring at him, fighting to pull their wrists apart. 'You... jerk! Ron, I hate you!' Then Kim's manacle buzzed, and she felt a jolt of electrical current shoot through her arm. 'Ouch!' she squealed. 'Look - just get these things off!'

'I can't!' Ron said, helplessly. 'I swear, I didn't do any of this...'

'I don't believe you!' Kim started, but she was interrupted as her manacle buzzed again. 'Ow! Ron, please!'

Ron stared curiously at his manacle. 'Wait a minute.' he said. Then he looked like he had just understood something. He said hesitantly, 'I hate Nacos.' His Electro-Magnet buzzed again. 'Ow!!' He shook his hand tenderly. 'KP, I think these things are rigged to go off whenever we tell a lie.'

Kim and Ron handcuffed

Kim looked at her own manacle. 'Bonnie is my best friend.' she said. 'Ouch!!' she yelped as another jolt shocked her. They stood looking at each other. 'So... now what?' she said.

Ron was staring at her, his expression suddenly very piercing. 'Kim, mine went off when I said I accepted the break up.' His manacle buzzed quickly and he yelped again. 'OK, OK! I admit it, I lied!' he said. 'I haven't accepted it. I don't know if I ever will. When you did it, I asked you why. I want to ask again. Why did you break up with me?'

Kim bit her lip. 'I... I told you. I just don't think we're right for each other.... Ouch!!' she flinched as her manacle buzzed and shocked her.

'Kim, I still love you.' Ron said. 'Please - tell me the truth. Do you love me?'

Kim stood fidgeting. 'N...no...' she said, timidly. Her manacle gave a loud, prolonged buzz. 'Ow!'

Ron had never looked so happy to see her in pain. 'I knew it!' he said, jumping up and down and punching his free hand in the air. 'Come on, KP. Fess up - why did you think you had to dump me?'

Kim tried with all her might to focus, to concentrate, to keep whatever it was that was setting off the Electro-Magnets from seeing past her. 'The food chain...' she began, but there was a loud buzz. 'Ouch!' She panted, trying again. 'I just think we should see other.... Ow!!' she jumped as another jolt shot through her arm. 'I like you but not in that way....Ow!!!' Her bracelet kept buzzing insistently and finally she couldn't stand it any longer.

'Stop it!' she shrieked. 'Just stop it! I broke up with you because I didn't think I was good enough for you!' Her Electro-Magnetic manacle stayed silent.

Ron's mouth fell open in amazement. 'You... thought that?' he said. 'For gosh sakes KP, why?'

She felt her lip trembling. She didn't want to answer, but she couldn't lie with the manacle on, and she couldn't leave because they were locked together. And she couldn't simply stand there and say nothing. She took a deep breath. 'Ron, when you were in the Spirit World, I had to hang with Grimm.' she said. 'I saw how he treats his friends, and it got me thinking about how I've been treating my friends, and I always found myself coming up short...' Her manacle remained silent, and she pressed on.

'Then I communed with the Mystical Monkey, and everything he said made me feel worse and worse about how I've treated you over the years. And then you were standing there in front of me with that Three-quarter-versary present, and all I could think about was how horrible I've been and I couldn't take it Ron, I just couldn't....!' There were no buzzes or jolts from her manacle as she spoke. She turned her head away from him. She wanted to walk away, and found herself trying before she felt a jerk in her arm and remembered that she and Ron were still locked together.

She spoke quietly, not looking at him. 'I've lied to you, I've ditched you, I always secretly thought I was better than you.' She paused, thinking back to the moment when Ron had returned. 'But when I saw our spirits, yours was so much brighter than mine.' she whispered. 'You deserve someone who's as bright as you are, Ron. You deserve someone better. I really think you should date someone besides me...' At this last sentence, there was a loud buzz. 'Ouch!!'

Ron smiled faintly as Kim shouted to the night sky, looking around wildly. 'OK whoever's doing this, knock it off!!' she shouted.

'Kim.' Ron said, and he laid his other hand on her shoulder. 'I spent a lot of time in the Spirit World. I was there with you sometimes. When you saved me, I could see your spirit just as easily as you saw mine. Do you want to know what I saw?'

He held both her hands, looking straight into her eyes. 'I thought that you were brighter than I was.' he said. 'Honest KP. It looked like someone had carved a statue of you made of sunlight.'

Kim shook her head, but Ron's manacle hadn't gone off. He was telling her the truth. 'How is that possible?' she said. 'I thought you were brighter than me.'

Ron was smiling strangely, as if he had just solved a puzzle on the marquee at Riddleton High. 'If there's one thing I learned while I was in the Spirit World, it's that we wind up punishing ourselves a lot more than other people want to punish us. Maybe we both thought we weren't as bright as the other because that's just how we felt.'

Kim stared at his arm with jealousy as his manacle remained silent. 'I didn't see everything you saw when you were with the Mystical Monkey.' he said. 'But believe it when I say this Kim - you're the best thing that's ever happened to me. You've made me wish I was better than I was. You made me want to work harder and try harder than I ever thought I could, even when everyone else was ready to write me off as a lost cause.'

Kim started shaking her head, but Ron laid his hand on her cheek and turned her head so she was looking into his eyes. She felt herself weakening as he gazed at her. 'If you think my spirit is bright Kim, it's bright because of you. How could you think that breaking up with the girl who inspired it all would be good for me?'

Kim felt her voice growing lower, softer. 'Ron... I...'

But suddenly, the hollow around them was flooded with a soft light. There were lightposts set up around the rim of the dell, and they heard music playing. Kim hadn't noticed in the dark, but the space near where they were standing had a tall wooden pole, from which a mirrored disco ball was hanging. The lights cycled through several different colors in a revolving pattern, and the entire hollow suddenly looked like the dance floor of a prom as a slow number was played.

They were both suddenly aware that their hands were cuffed together in a perfect position for a slow dance. Ron smiled. 'Well, it's not exactly Prom.' he said quietly. 'But... how about a dance?'

Kim looked down. 'I don't think we should...' she started, but there was a jarring buzz and she yelped. Her jerking flinch pulled her into Ron's arms. Ron held her softly and she found herself putting her arm around his shoulder before she could stop herself. They stood silently for a moment, looking at each other. Then Ron led her into the gentle, swaying motions of a slow dance.

Before, she had been unable to even look him in the eyes. Now she couldn't stop. She felt almost hypnotized, realizing how very long it had been. The weeks he had been gone, then the shame she felt because of her spiritual journey. She had never realized how hungry she was just to see him again. A voice was singing as the music played, a melodic, female voice that echoed through the hollow.

One look at love, and you may see,
it weaves a web over mystery...
All raveled threads can rend apart,
for hope has a place in the lover's heart...

Whispering world, a sail of sighs,
the ebb and the flow of the ocean tides..
One breath, one word, may end or may start,
a hope in a place of the lover's heart...

Look to love and you may dream
and if it should leave, then give it wings
but if such a love is meant to be
hope is home, and the heart is free....

Kim didn't really hear the singing. Her attention was focused on Ron. The look in his eyes, the warmth of his arms. But she did hear the next verses, which sank deep into her as she held him.

Under the heavens, we journey far,
on roads of life, we're the wanderers...
so let love rise, so let love depart,
let hope have a place in the lover's heart...

Look to love and you may dream,
and if it should leave, then give it wings,
but if such a love is meant to be,
hope is home, and the heart is free....

The song went into a series of hauntingly beautiful chants which rose around them like a choir. Kim felt all her resistance crumbling. Tears rolled down her face and she clutched at him, holding him tight and drawing a joy from his closeness that banished every doubt from her rmind.

'I love you Ron...' she sobbed, burying her face in his shoulder. 'I'm so sorry...'

Ron was holding her just as tightly, and she felt a tear from his eyes fall warm and thick onto her cheek. 'I love you too Kim...' he whispered. 'Please.. don't leave me again.'

'I'll always be there for you.' she said, and she felt so full of emotion she thought her heart would burst inside her. 'Always.'

Hope is home, and the heart is free.......

    Fireworks at last      

They kissed, long and slow. And Kim no longer felt any of the guilt or shame. She felt only happiness. Happiness that Ron was back. Happiness that the sitch was finally, truly over. Happiness to be holding him. To be close to him, to kiss him.

When they finally broke apart, she kept her face leaned against his. 'So does this mean we're not broken up anymore?' said Ron softly.

'Yes.' said Kim firmly, punching her hand against his shoulder. 'And yes, I want that night on the town! If its still open.'

'I'll make time somehow.' said Ron softly into her ear, sending tingles across her skin.

They shared another kiss when suddenly her Kimmunicator beeped on, and Wade's tinny voice sounded. 'Kim! Is everything all r.... woah!' There was a thumping sound. Kim and Ron finally broke apart and Kim leaned her wrist up.

'Hey Wade.' she said dreamily. 'Guess what the sitch is?'

Wade was setting his chair back up and sitting in it. 'Sorry.' he said. 'I didn't know you and Ron were... uh... locking lips. Weren't you guys broken up or something?'

'That was so five minutes ago.' Kim purred. Ron was simply looking in her eyes with an adorable, goofy smile.

'Oh... well... congrats.' he said, looking totally flummoxed. 'I just wasn't expecting...'

'Why are you so surprised?' said Ron. 'You're the one who set all this up.'

Wade's mouth fell open. 'I didn't set up anything.' he said.

Kim and Ron both shook off the warm fuzzies they were feeling. 'Yes you did.' said Kim. 'You sent me out here, then you sent Ron.'

Wade was shaking his head. 'Noooo, I didn't.' he said. 'Don't get me wrong, I'd love to take credit for patching things up between you, but I've been busy fending off a pair of thugs.'

'What?' said Kim.

'You were the one who called me.' said Wade. 'You said you wanted to talk about the breakup. And while I was on my way, I got nabbed by some guys near an alley downtown.'

Ron felt Kim's hand squeezing his. 'I never called you.' said Kim. 'What did they want?'

'They challenged me to the 'Chess Game Championship of the Universe'.'

'The universe?' said Ron. 'Since when does the universe have a chess league? So... what happened?'

'I totally clobbered them.' Wade shrugged. 'Then they said the usual stuff - that I just got lucky, that they'd beat me next time, then they ran off and left me in a warehouse across town. I only got home a few minutes ago.'

Kim shook her head. 'This is... beyond mega-weird.' she said. 'Wade, I swear it was you who called me.'

Wade blinked. 'Hold on - this isn't the first time someone's hijacked our comm system.' he said. 'Do you remember when Drakken used a computer program to trick you by impersonating me?'

Now Kim blinked. 'What are you saying?' she said. 'You think Drakken set this up? That Drakken wanted me and Ron to go dancing?'

'Someone did.' said Wade. 'Because it sure wasn't me.'

'Well... since everything's cool now, who cares who it was?' said Ron suddenly.

For a minute, none of them spoke, their minds working. Another slow number had begun, and the lights around the hollow were shifting colors. Kim realized that she and Ron were still holding each other. 'See what you can find out Wade.' she said, smiling softly at Ron. 'Ron and I will stay here a while and... look for clues.' Then she shut off the Kimmunicator and pulled Ron into another kiss.

( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - )

From a sheltered, wooded bluff looking down into the hollow from some distance away, Grimm Probable stood with Rhonda Fatigable at his side, staring down at Kim and Ron as they kissed.

Rhonda shook her head in disbelief. 'Wow.' she said. 'That was amazing. I think when it's all over for us as mercenaries, you've got a brilliant career ahead as a matchmaker.'

Grimm sniffed. 'Get real.' he muttered, but held her hand.

      hidden benefactors      

'When you dragged me out here, I thought for sure you'd set up something to get to them and mess with their heads.' she said.

'You were right.' he snickered. 'In fact, I think this is the best head game I've ever pulled off.' Another schmaltzy song started playing through the speakers, and Kim and Ron started dancing as if they were in a ballroom, their eyes milked over as they looked at each other.

'The fireworks were a nice touch.' said Rhonda. 'I don't think they noticed it though.'

'Doubtful.' said Grimm. 'They're too twitterpated. They haven't even noticed the Electro-Magnets have deactivated.' He sighed. 'Well, there's at least two hours worth of music to keep them going. It'll be interesting to see if they stick around for the whole cycle.'

'You know this qualifies as a good deed, right?' said Rhonda, looking slyly at him. 'Getting them back together when they were broken up?'

Grimm shrugged, still smirking. 'Come on.' he said, the sound of cunning returning to his voice. 'Didn't I tell you? They're more fun to hassle when they're together. And besides - who says I'm going good? Look at them - I reduced both of them to tears. How many of Kim's enemies can say they've done that?'

Rhonda found herself smirking too. 'I'll pretend I believe you.' she said, taking his hand.

Grimm glanced at her. 'So you think I'm going good, huh?' he said. 'Well if that's true, then maybe I should give back all the money we've ever collected from our missions....'

'Are you crazy?' said Rhonda, hitting him in the shoulder. 'I haven't gone that good!' Then she saw the playful, teasing gleam in his eyes and hit him again. 'You jerk!' she said. 'Don't scare me like that...'

They found themselves in each others arms, their faces only a couple inches apart. 'So.. what does the future hold for Team Probable?' she said, her voice going soft.

Grimm sighed. 'I'm not sure.' he said. 'But the one thing I do know is... we'll always be a team. Friends together?'

'Friends forever...' Rhonda whispered.

And unseen by Kim and Ron, who were again kissing tenderly in the hollow, two figures standing in the shadows were kissing as well.

Part VI:
The Great River

The Mystical Monkey watched the proceedings in the hollow, tapping his bearded chin with a long, knobbed finger. 'You had more going on here than you want to admit, I think.' he said, turning to the Great Bear. 'It no accident you let Kim and Grimm be your agents after Chosen Ones banished - right?'

The Great Bear thrummed slowly, his gigantic form seeming both relaxed and content. 'As always, you see things keenly.' he rumbled. 'Is there not a legend among your followers about the great river?'

'Yes.' said the Mystical Monkey. 'They say time is a great river. It flow always - unchanging and true. And while the water flowing through river may never be the same, the river itself is always there.'

'Their tales hold great truth. Time has marched forward, but the power of the Bear Preistess is still the same - as eternal as I am. But those who wield that power - I see a sameness in them which transcends time. The water of the river may be different now, but the river itself is unchanged. The new Bear Priestess is very different from Abish - but her tale is unfolding in much the same way.'

'What you talking about?' said the Mystical Monkey. 'Rhonda and Abish totally different! She blonde for pete's sake!'

'Abish was a reluctant Priestess - very much like Katasiistikoowa.' the Great Bear rumbled. 'I, who knew them both well, see more kinship between them than you perhaps. And forgotten in the deeps of time is another kinship. Abish did many deeds, but always there was one by her side - a warrior shaman who fought alongside her and loved her. He was not a noble man in his beginnings - he loved glory and riches. But his love for Abish led him to join her in her greatest acts of heroism. I see that brave again - in Otaatoyiwa.'

'What about Maze?' said the Mystical Monkey, his voice more serious.

The Great Bear heaved a long, low sigh. 'It is not too late for him to turn to the light. But I cannot turn him. He must turn himself. Yet I feel even now that his defeat his not humbled him. He has set his heart like a flint, and I fear he is past feeling. He will be devoured by his own hatred unless he can change.'

The Mystical Monkey stared, scratching his chin. 'You still not telling me everything.' he said, a smiling edge to his voice. 'There a reason why you picked Grimm and Rhonda for this. Something to do with Kim and the Chosen One. Come on, furry guy - fess up!'

The Great Bear harummphed. 'One day I will learn how to conceal my devices from you, clever one.' he said, sounding resigned. 'But yes. I knew that one day Mi'kksiistsikomma and Ipi'sskinao'siwa would experience this - that one day, one of them might try to seperate from the other. It is often so with the young, for they are short-sighted and not yet wise. Their minds change, or so they believe, and they act rashly on sudden thoughts.'

'And you knew that Kim's spiritual journey might start her thinking she not good enough for Chosen One...'

'Yes.' The Great Bear replied. 'One cannot pass though such suffering without looking for a cause. I was not sure that Mi'kksiistsikomma would be able to confront her inner demons without feeling unworthy. But in light of the coming storm, it was essential that she and Ipi'sskinao'siwa remain together. Under ordinary circumstances, such emotional turmoil might be too intense for them to overcome. There was only one way to get both of them to embrace the pain as a crucible that would forge a love even stronger than what they shared before.'

The Mystical Monkey laughed, capering in a small circle. 'And so you get a master head-gamer on your side - someone who a genius at getting people to do things they don't want to do!' he said, 'Someone who force them back together and make them think it thier idea! There only one guy in the world who that big a jerk!'

The Great Bear let out a breath that sounded almost like a chuckle. 'Yes. Their parents, their freinds, their loved ones were too close to them. They felt too much pity to take action. In the end, only one of her enemies, Otaatoyiwa, could save their relationship. The price I exacted from him when fighting the Golem was only the beginning of the thread that would lead to the redemption of Mi'kksiistsikomma's love for Ipi'sskinao'siwa.'

The Mystical Monkey smacked the Great Bear lightly on the shoulder with his staff. 'You keep saying you wish you were smart as me.' he said, 'But you more cunning than you want to admit....'

Part V:
Winding Down

It was nearly two hours later. Kim and Ron were driving back to Middleton in the Sloth. Ron's scooter was tied onto the rear bumper.

'Badical as it is to hold hands, I think you should keep them both on the steering wheel until we get home.' said Ron.

Kim sighed, reluctantly taking her hand off of his. 'I'll have to talk to Wade about a better auto-pilot.' she said. 'So the driver and the passenger can...'

'Kim!'

'..hold hands.' she ended. She didn't take her eyes off the road, but she could tell that Ron was blushing furiously.

Rufus had been relaxing in Kim's purse for much of the drive. He suddenly poked his head out, holding a folded piece of paper aloft. 'Hmm-hmm!' he squeaked.

Ron unfolded it, and his jaw fell open. 'Woah - Kim!' he almost shouted. 'Is this for reals?'

'What?' she said, confused.

'This check!' Ron said. 'I mean - look at all the zeroes! It's not a Naco royalty, but wow!'

Kim deflated a bit. Mr. Matter's check, popping to the surface in her life again. As distracted as she'd been, angsting over the breakup, she must have put the check into her purse while moving this and that around her room, and not even noticed. 'Oh... that.' she said. 'I was going to throw it away.'

Ron sputtered. 'Throw it away? Are you nuts?'

'I got it while I was in Riddleton with Probable.' she grimaced. 'It was from one of his clients - villain money. There's no way I could...'

'But this is perfect!' Ron said, staring down at the check. 'This is like karma! Dr. Drakken stole my Naco money and used it to try and make a doomsday machine. We can take this money from the bad guys and use it to help people!'

Kim stared at him for a few seconds before snapping her eyes back to the road.

Ron sensed her staring and shrugged. 'You know - hopefully without the epic failure.' he ended. 'I mean, look at all the damage Monkey Fist did with those statues, and with that big one that slam-danced through Middleton. A whole bunch of places got messed up. This could help set things right again.'

Kim almost started crying again. She'd been fretting over what to do about this for days. And once again, it had to be Ron who cut through all the nonsense to provide a simple solution. 'Anonymous.' she said.

'Uh, what about us?' said Ron.

'Anonymous.' said Kim again. 'We donate, but we do it secretly so no one knows who it came from.'

'Oh. OK.' said Ron, sounding a bit confused.

'And we have to make sure some of it gets used to help Monique's family.' she added. 'The place where her mom works got hit.'

'Yeah. Yeah.' said Ron, nodding. 'And some of it goes to get us some Nacos, right?'

Kim smiled. 'No.' she said. She heard Ron groan in disappointment. 'And Ron?'

'Hmm?'

'I love you.' And she took one hand off the steering wheel again, curling her fingers around his.

( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - ) ( - )

It was late in the evening. From the kitchen, Mrs. Dr. Possible heard the front door closing, and a soft patter of footsteps heading toward the living room. She was sure it was Kim returning from her mission. She dreaded seeing the look of haunted sadness on her face, but as a mother she couldn't help wanting to try and comfort her.

She walked into the living room and saw Kim, lying on the couch on her stomach, her chin propped up on one palm. Mrs. Dr. Possible stared, for she could tell something had changed. The look of deadness and misery had vanished. Instead, Kim was staring dreamily off into an unseen distance, idly tracing the finger of her other hand in small circles on the cushion in front of her. A contented, almost dopey smile was on her face and her eyes were glazed as if she had been administered ether.

'Kim?' She said hesitantly. 'Are you all right?'

'Hmm-mmm.' Kim said off-handedly. Then she said, 'Mom... isn't Ron just the greatest?'

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Mrs. Dr. Possible raised an eyebrow. Her mother's intuition was now screaming that something wonderful had happened, and that everything was all right again. But she couldn't resist testing to make sure. 'Ron? The greatest?' she said, trying to sound doubtful. 'That's saying a bit much, isn't it?'

'No.' said Kim flatly, without even looking at her. 'He's sweet, and brave, and forgiving, and he's so cute...'

Mrs. Dr. Possible fought back a smile. 'Maybe.' she said. 'Still... the greatest? Some people at your school don't think so.'

'Yeah, well they can...!' Kim started, and there was suddenly a ferocious look on her face. But it quickly disappeared as if Kim was remembering who she was talking to. 'They just don't understand him.' she finished, her voice sinking back into a purr. 'Not like I do....'

Kim was nodding, still staring off at nothing, still tracing her finger on the couch. Finally she said, 'Mom.... isn't Ron just the greatest?'

Mrs. Dr. Possible smiled. 'Of course, dear.' she said quietly. Then she left the room and went back into the kitchen, trusting that Kim wouldn't notice if she was there anymore or not. Then she checked to make sure no one else was in the room. She clenched her fist, pumped her arm and whispered one word.

'Yes!'

                 
 

Not Quite The End:
Coming Soon:
Closing Credits Video

Riddle me this: Why didn't the Kim Possible TV series have a 'Senior Prom' episode?

Author: Over the course of the story, several reviews thought I was being too hard on Team Possible, and that I making Team Probable out to be vastly superior, by handing them a number of victories against Kim. The way Grimm kept making her life miserable with his schemes was considered by some to be proof that he was 'better' than her, which many readers (who adore Kim) found vexing.

But now, as the story winds down, in this chapter Grimm and Team Probable have helped Kim and Ron out in a big way. So I pose yet another riddle to the readers on top of all the other riddles I've given: Which team really 'won' in the end?

Was it Team Probable - by acting behind the scenes and setting up yet another trap (of sorts) for Kim and Ron? Or was it Team Possible - because in the long run, Team Probable did a good deed, thereby moving them away from evil? This is a riddle I will leave in the hands of the readers...

But as you see from above, the story is still not quite over. With a tale this long, and as a reward to everyone who stuck with the story these three long years, I wanted to do something different, and make a closing credit video. There won't be much text, but if it works I'll supply a youtube link for you to enjoy a number of special drawings that answer the end chapter riddle....

Blackfoot Name Guide:

Kim Possible: Mi'kksiistsikomma (pronounced mick-see-ist-sih-koo-mah. = 'red thunder')
Ron Stoppable: Ipi'sskinao'siwa (pronounced ih-pih-sis-key-naw-sih-wah. = 'screams a lot')

Rhonda Fatigable: Katasistsikoowa (pronounced kah-tah-sist-sih-koh-wah = 'never gets tired')
Grimm Probable: Otaatoyiwa (pronounced oh-tah-toh-yih-wah. = 'the cunning fox')

Maze: Sskipoyiwa (pronounced sis-key-poh-yih-wah. = 'stands in darkness')

 

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