Kim Possible Fan Fiction ❯ Far from the Tree ❯ Far from the Tree - Part Two ( Chapter 2 )
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Far from the Tree
It was Monday morning at the Middleton Community College campus and Ron was sitting on one of the benches nearest to the main building. The splashes of yellow, orange, red and brown in the leaves painted the unmistakable portrait of mid-autumn. But to Ron, the entire courtyard of the campus might as well have been a glorious spring day in full bloom. As he propped his head in his hand, staring out into space, a contented sigh passed his lips, which were curled into a blissful smile.
“Uh oh, I know those glazed eyes,” a familiar voice sounded beside him, popping Ron out of his trance as he turned to see Zita Flores standing just a few steps away, looking at him with a sly glance and hugging a cluster of books to her chest. “That's the `I-Had-Kim-All-To-Myself-Day' look.”
“Hey, Zee,” Ron responded enthusiastically, snapping to his feet as Rufus popped put of his pocket to offer a happy wave. “So…how's MCC's Computer Graphics program treating you?”
“Can't complain,” Zita replied in her standard casual demeanor. “Did you ever find a program to major in though? I mean, it IS kind of the point of college, right?”
“Ah, I'm not worried about that right now,” Ron answered with a laid-back shrug, “I mean, I'll think of something eventually. But for right now, I'm just sticking with the whole `General Studies' thing…and whatever classes fit in with my essential Ron-ness.”
“And if memory serves, aren't you coming dangerously close to being late for one of those classes right now, Mr. Stoppable?” a gruff voice barged in, getting Ron's attention as he whirled around to see Kevin Barkin, the Dean of MCC, looming over him with his usual dissatisfied frown. Ron was caught off guard at first, but after taking a moment to consult his watch, he immediately composed himself.
“Uh, excuse me…`dangerously close'?” he challenged. “Dude, don't I have another 15 minutes here?”
Before Barkin could argue the point, a firm tap on his right shoulder got his attention. But as he turned to the right, he saw nothing. Instinctively, he whirled back around to the left and was surprised to see none other than Maximillion standing just inches away, right in his face.
“And don't I recall saying once upon a time that looking after the well-being of the students was MY responsibility?” Max stated defiantly.
“Hey Max,” Zita greeted, “And how's MCC's most popular Counselor doing?”
“Might be a little better if a certain SOME-one was doing his OWN job instead of trying to do MINE,” Max answered sarcastically, locked in a stare-down with Barkin. “So…you gonna be on your way now, `Kev'?”
Barkin clearly didn't care for Max's remarks, but he was more irritated when he turned to see Ron looking back at him with a smug grin and a fluttery wave goodbye. Even Zita looked somewhat less than impressed. But Barkin still wasn't about to let a challenge to his authority go unanswered.
“Just don't forget, some students aren't the ONLY ones I'm keeping an eye on,” he muttered in Max's face.
“Yeah, well, considering how well you saw me coming just now, I wouldn't quit my day job just yet, if I were you,” Max was quick to reply.
At that moment, a wide, toothy smile crossed Max's face. But the hint of smugness hiding just beneath the surface of his expression sent the message that there was absolutely nothing Barkin could say that was going to intimidate him. So Barkin simply trudged off, grumbling under his breath. Ron and Max, meanwhile, gave big mocking waves behind his back, as though Barkin were leaving on a vacation cruise, drawing an amused giggle out of Zita.
“Ah yes, I've said it before and I'll say it again,” Max stated, taking a seat on the bench Ron was just sitting in. “I am going to have SO much fun with him.”
“Man, where were you when I was in high school?” Ron couldn't help but blurt out.
“Don't ask,” Max answered slyly, another goofy smile crossing his face.
“Well, I guess I'd better head to class,” Ron conceded with a shrug, pausing to pick his books up off the bench before heading on his way. “I'll see you guys around.”
“Uh…Ron?” Zita inquired with a suspicious gaze, “Who's that behind you?”
“Huh…? WHOA!!!” Ron's voice rose to a shriek as he turned around to see Señorita Rita Senior standing just millimeters away from him
“Well hello,” she greeted softly, staring at Ron intently with a warm smile.
“Rita, uh…hey!” Ron added, trying to sound as polite as possible even as his eyes darted back and forth nervously in surprise. “What…what are…YOU…doing here?”
“Oh…no reason,” Rita answered, rolling her eyes playfully as she sidled up closer, “I just thought that…this would be a good place to…start…exploring colleges for next term?”
“Ron…you know this girl?” Zita felt compelled to ask.
“Oh! Uh…yeah, Zita Flores? This is Señorita Rita Senior,” Ron introduced, trying to put the situation just a little more at ease.
“Hello…” Rita replied quite curtly.
“Yyyyyyeah…okay…,” Zita responded, clearly taken aback, as she couldn't understand what she did to warrant such a frigid response.
“So…,” Rita continued, turning her attention back to Ron, “What do you think? Would you like to…show me around?”
“Well, gee, I'd really like to Rita,” Ron answered innocently. “But I've got a class to get to in a few minutes. If you wanted, I'm sure Max could show you around…”
“Oh…! Well…would it be okay if I…went to…YOUR classes?” Rita asked, cutting him off. “You know, just to see what they're like?”
“Well, I…GUESS that would be okay,” Ron replied with a shrug, looking more than a little confused, “I mean, I don't think anyone would have a problem with it…”
“Marvelous!” Rita declared excitedly as she hugged his arm, much to Ron's surprise. “Oh, this is…just so I…don't get lost, of course.”
“Uh…oooooookaaaaaaaaaay,” Ron responded, not entirely sure what was happening.
Zita and Max however, were not nearly as perplexed as Ron walked off with Rita in tow. She may have tried to hide it as best she could, but Rita clearly had a lot to learn about being coy. And as Zita and Max exchanged an uncertain glance, it was fairly obvious to both of them that Rita was NOT on campus to explore the college.
Ron, however, remained in the dark as he attended his morning classes. Although he did think it strange that no matter where he went, Rita insisted on sitting beside him. Eventually, she would walk out of the room, but every time Ron emerged from one class, she would be right there, patiently waiting for him to lead her to the next one.
This continued until it was time for Ron to break for lunch. Walking out into the corridor, he discovered that Rita was, curiously, nowhere to be found. At first, Ron was perplexed as he looked around for any sign of her, but eventually, common sense began to take over. After all, she had to be pretty bored sitting around his classes and lectures all day. It stood to reason that she would go and seek out someone who could give her a much better guided tour than he could. So with a simple shrug, he thought no more about it and continued on his way.
Little did Ron know, as he made his way out the main doors of the building, that Rita was much closer than he realized. Her head peeking out from the doorway as he walked across the courtyard, she giggled to herself as she planned to come up from behind and give him a nice little surprise. Before she could make her move, however, Ron seemed to take notice of something and flashed a wide smile as he quickened his pace towards the campus entrance.
It wasn't hard to see why, as a moment later, Kim stepped into view, tossing a warm smile of her own. A moment later, they reached each other and Kim was quick to place one hand on Ron's chest and the other behind his head as Ron's arms slipped around her waist. And Rita's jaw instantly dropped, her anticipation being swallowed up by shock as Kim and Ron leaned in, their lips meeting in a long, deep kiss. Two more soft pecks were quick to follow before they finally pulled away, pausing only to look into each other's eyes with a soft, lingering gaze before Kim took Ron's hand in hers and they walked out the campus gates.
Only when the pair vanished from sight did Rita finally snap out of her disbelief as she dashed off after them. But by the time she reached the campus gates, Kim and Ron were already nearly a block away, walking off happily as they rested their heads against each other. And as the hard reality set in, Rita's legs nearly buckled as she could only stare at them in stunned silence, watching them slowly moving ever further away.
“Excuse me, Señorita,” the cold, mechanical voice of Lupo sounded as he wheeled up behind her. “Señora instructed me to locate you at the appropriate time to indulge in a mid-day meal. Is there anything in particular you wish to ingest at this time?”
But Rita was hardly in any state of mind to answer him. In fact, she didn't even hear anything he'd said as she simply stared out into space, a completely disheartened look worn across her face. In fact, it was a look that persisted long after Lupo had taken her home. Something Señora Nora Senior was quick to notice as she walked into her daughter's palatial bedroom to see her sitting on the edge of her bed, looking completely dead to the world.
“Rita? My daughter? Is something wrong?” Nora asked pensively as she walked into the room. “Did…something happen at the college this morning?”
“No,” Rita answered with a heavy sigh as she flopped down onto her bed. Little did Nora know, the fact that nothing happened was precisely the problem for Rita.
“I just…I just feel so foolish right now,” Rita added sorrowfully.
“Now Rita, it's very easy to feel intimidated in this situation. But you mustn't let yourself become discouraged,” Nora remarked soothingly, still unaware of the exact nature of Rita's problem as she sat on the edge of her bed and ran her fingers through her hair. “I have always had boundless faith in you, Rita. You are intelligent, beautiful. And most of all, you must remember, you are a Senior. There is absolutely nothing you cannot accomplish if you simply put your mind to it and work hard at it. You have proven it time and time again.”
At that moment, Rita lifted her head and looked up toward her mother. And a moment later, her face changed. No longer looking lost and despaired, a tiny glimmer of hope now seemed to sparkle from behind her eyes.
“Thank you, mother,” she sighed, hugging Nora tightly around her neck, “Okay, I think I'm ready. As of right now, I refuse to be stopped by ANYTHING.”
… … … …
The next day was pretty much business as usual as Ron was walking through the MCC corridors to his next class. He pretty much had the schedule for a normal day already mapped out in his head and was looking forward to it, eagerly. Little did he know that Rita was peering at him from a nearby corner, about to make the day ANYTHING but normal. To say nothing of the phone call that rang from his cell phone at that exact moment.
“Hello?” Ron inquired, answering the phone as Rita listened intently from around the corner. “Oh, hey, KP!”
“Hey Ron, listen,” Kim replied, sitting in her university library and sounding a little uneasy as she spoke into the Kimmunicator. “I really hate to say this, but…I'm going to have to flake on lunch today. I just got a major paper I have to start on and I'm going to have to stay behind for a couple of hours to get some research done on it.”
“Well…that's…okay,” Ron responded, caught off-guard but still being supportive as Rita continued to listen in, “Hey, no…don't worry about it. I mean, we saw this coming, right? Just…do what you gotta do.”
“Oh, you are the absolute BEST,” Kim sighed warmly. “I promise, I will TOTALLY make it up to you later today, alright?”
“Well, if by `make UP', you mean, `make OUT', I'm pretty sure you already did that last night,” Ron joked slyly, drawing a lighthearted giggle from Kim which instantly made her feel better.
“Okay, I've got to go now,” she concluded, the amused lilt in her voice becoming more affectionate, “Hey…love you.”
“Love you, too,” Ron answered back before hanging up the phone and looking down towards Rufus with a shrug, “Well, buddy, looks like it's just you and me for lunch today.”
Rufus could only whimper in response. It just didn't feel the same without having Kim around. Still, if she had things to do, there really wasn't anything either one of them could do about it. After all, this was par for the course when it came to Kim and Ron taking different academic paths. And they all knew it.
Just then, Ron felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. Instantly he turned around, only to jump back with a yelp as Rita was standing behind him, her face just millimeters away from his. As surprised as Ron was to see her again, it also seemed quite apparent that Rita had a lot to learn about the concept of “personal space”.
“Uh, Rita!” Ron blurted out nervously, “How's it…going? You…kind of disappeared yesterday.”
“Oh, that. I had to leave on a…personal matter,” Rita answered, rolling her eyes thoughtfully as she tried to come up with an acceptable excuse, “But let's not worry about that. I was wondering…that is, if you have no plans…could I maybe…cook you something for lunch? You know…just to say thank you…for…showing me around yesterday?”
“Well, I don't…REALLY…have any plans…,” Ron replied, unsure as to what exactly his proper answer should be as Rufus looked up at Rita with a deeply suspicious glance.
“Perfect!” Rita exclaimed, prancing off down the hall before Ron could say anything more, “Meet me in the Food Court at one o'clock! I promise you will not regret it!”
And with that, Rita was gone, leaving Ron standing dumbfounded in the hallway. All he could do at that moment was wonder what exactly had just happened.
… … … …
That was all Ron could say as he gazed in awe, along with every other patron of the MCC Food Court, at the grand scale of the banquet Rita had prepared. Spread across three long tables, it looked more like a meal fit for royalty than a typical college lunch. Even Rufus, stunned by the sight, had forgotten his earlier suspicions and was eagerly licking his chops in anticipation.
“You made all this yourself?” Ron couldn't help but ask as Rita simply smiled, quite satisfied with his reaction.
“Oh, it's nothing special,” she replied modestly, “Part of my high school curriculum was culinary studies. I was top of my class, three years in a row. Well, help yourself.”
Without a second thought, Ron jumped into the nearest seat and began to dig in, with Rufus following suit. No doubt about it, each dish they indulged in tasted every bit as delicious as it looked. And Rufus, who scampered from plate to plate to try every morsel he could, was thoroughly enjoying the experience. Until he chanced to look over in Rita's direction to see her flashing a disgusted glance towards him, to which he instantly took offence. But Ron had failed to notice Rufus' sudden unease, simply being far too lost in the feast before him. He didn't even notice Rita as she sat down and slid over beside him.
“Do you like it?” she cooed softly.
“It's great!” Ron replied, although his words were heavily muffled with mouthfuls of food, “You're really good at this!”
“I'm so glad…,” Rita murmured, her voice gentle and seductive as she looked at Ron with an affectionate gaze. At that moment, it didn't matter that Ron was paying more attention to the food than to her. She saw an opening and she intended to walk through it.
Of course, Rita's intentions were not lost on certain others who happened to be watching. Peering from behind a nearby pot, Rufus observed Rita's expression and whimpered with concern. Meanwhile, a few tables away, Zita looked on as well, with a suspicious glint in her eyes. If she wasn't sure about what Rita was trying to do before, she certainly was now.
… … … …
A few hours later, Ron's classes were done. With his lunch experience little more than a happy memory in the back of his mind, he was already looking forward to meeting up with Kim as he headed out of the main building and strolled off campus. And as a happy smile crossed his face, it seemed as though he didn't have a single care in the world.
Rufus, however, was nowhere near as upbeat as his head darted back and forth, uttering a tiny whine every so often. Ron wouldn't have seen what there was to be so worked up about, but as it turned out, Rufus was quite right to be vigilant. For at that moment, Ron had not made it even halfway across the courtyard, when a soft, delicate voice sounded behind him, sending chills down Rufus' spine.
Instantly, Ron turned around and sure enough. Standing behind him, just a few short paces away was Rita, looking into his eyes with a shy smile. Of course, Ron didn't see any possible danger in Rita's presence, but Rufus was already tugging on his pant leg, whimpering and chirping as if to try and say, “Red Alert! RED ALERT!!”.
“Oh, hey, Rita,” Ron replied friendly enough, “Getting a chance to see more of the campus, today?”
“Oh, let's not waste time talking about academics right now,” Rita answered, sliding around to stand between Ron and the campus gates as she stared at him with a warm gaze, “I was just wondering…since we're getting to know each other so well…there happens to be a…little place I know…”
“Well gee, Rita…,” Ron responded, rubbing the back of his head as he struggled to come up with the most polite answer he could. “I mean, I kinda have plans right now and…”
“Oh, I'm sure whatever you have to do can't possibly be all that important,” Rita's voice lowered to a velvety purr as she took a few steps closer, her face hovering just inches away from Ron's, “Right?”
“Uhhhhhhh, Ri…Rita…?” Ron shuddered nervously, leaning back slightly as Rita's face continued to inch towards him.
“Yeessss?” Rita breathed, her eyes becoming softer as her lips pouted forward.
At that moment, Rufus was already clinging Ron's shirt sleeve, tugging away and chattering wildly at the danger. But Ron seemed almost paralyzed, lost in a wave of nervousness and confusion as Rita inched ever closer, her lips floating just millimeters away from his. Just then, out of the corner of Ron's eye, he chanced to notice the sunlight reflecting off the hood of Kim's car. It was just barely peeking out from behind the wall of the campus, but for Ron, it was like a beacon of light leading him out of his inner storm.
“Oh…KP!” he announced, almost a wave of relief coming over him, “Uh, sorry, Rita, but my ride's here now!”
“But…w-wait!” Rita called after him as Ron darted around her and headed for the campus gates at top speed.
“Look, I'm sorry, Rita, but I really, reallyreallyREEEEEAALLY have to go!” Ron called back trying to sound polite in spite of the fact that all he wanted to do was get out of there. “I'm sorry! I'll see you, okay?! Bye!”
Before Rita could say anything, Ron was dashing out the campus gates. And he couldn't get into Kim's car fast enough as a feeling of security began to well up inside him once he closed the door. Still, his mind was still racing with thoughts of his narrow escape as he and Rufus sat trembling in the passenger seat. In fact, Ron was so tense that he barely noticed Kim lean over and softly kiss his cheek.
“Hey,” she greeted softly, although her mood instantly changed as she looked to see Ron almost white as a sheet. “Ron…are you okay?”
“…I don't know…,” Ron uttered worriedly.
At that moment, Kim couldn't help but become concerned herself. It had been quite a while since she had seen Ron in this state of mind. Thinking only of getting Ron to more comfortable surroundings, Kim put the car in gear and took off. She didn't even notice as she drove away, Rita standing just outside the campus gates, glaring in anger as they headed down the street.
One person who did notice, however, was Maximillion. Leaning against the door of the main building, he had only caught the final moments of what had happened and looked on with a serious gaze as Rita stormed off. And from all his previous experiences and memories, there was only one thing Max knew for sure. Whatever happened next, chances are…it wasn't going to be good.
But just then, Max's attention was diverted as his eyes shifted just slightly down the corridor behind him. Peering out from around a nearby corner was none other than Kevin Barkin. Apparently, Max's little challenge from yesterday had spurred MCC's Dean on a mission to prove him wrong. And as soon as he noticed him, Max couldn't help but smile in amusement.
… … … …
Almost an hour went by, and still, neither one of them moved an inch. I fact, Barkin was completely astounded by the fact that Max hadn't so much as twitched in all that time. At that moment, an uneasy feeling crept down his spine. Something didn't feel right.
Deciding to throw caution to the wind, Barkin stealthily crept down the hall, making his way ever closer towards Max, who was still leaning against the open doorway. Eventually, he'd made his way close enough that he could reach out and grab Max's shoulder. But no sooner did he do so, than an alarm went off inside Barkin's head. Instead of soft flesh, what he felt instead was hard and rigid.
Whirling around, Barkin was stunned to discover that the person he thought was Max was not even human at all, but a plaster mannequin wearing clothes identical to the ones Max was wearing. At first, all Barkin could do was shift his head in all directions, looking for some sign that Max was still there. After all, how could he have possibly pulled off such a switch? Except for blinking, Barkin had his eyes on Max the entire time. But just then, Barkin's attention was focused elsewhere as he noticed a small note pinned to the mannequin's chest, which he immediately snatched off and read…
HOW LONG WAS IT BEFORE YOU FINALLY CHECKED? BE HONEST.
DON'T GIVE UP NOW. YOU'RE ALMOST IMPROVING.
Upon reading Max's words, Barkin could feel his teeth almost grinding until they cracked. And as his eyes turned red, he couldn't help but growl in anger as he crushed the note in his hand.
… … … …
The next day had already come and gone for Kim, who was back from the university and walking down to Bueno Nacho to meet Ron for lunch. For Kim, it was just a normal day, with no reason to suspect that anything going on in her life might be wrong. But a familiar voice sounding off behind her was about to seriously alter that perception.
“Kim!” Zita called, getting Kim's attention as she turned to see both her and Max running up to her. “Listen, can we talk to you for a second? There's something I think you should know.”
“Sure Zita. What's up?” Kim replied curiously, offering up a mild shrug.
Meanwhile, the day for Ron began without any real incident, which to him, was a welcome relief. After his close call with Rita after his classes the day before, he was beginning to think that her face was the last thing he wanted to see. Luckily, he had a lunch date with Kim at Bueno Nacho to look forward to. Kim had called him earlier to say she'd be a little late, but it didn't stop him and Rufus from staking a claim at their usual booth and waiting for her. Besides, the familiar sights and smells of the place helped to put his mind more at ease.
Just then, he felt someone sit down in the booth right beside him. A second later, a soft kiss fluttered past his cheek. Of course, as he noticed a lock of red hair flash past the corner of his eye, Ron felt little reason to be concerned as his lips curled in a warm smile. But as he and Rufus turned around, his loving gaze was about to be replaced with a wide-eyed look of pure, unremitting horror.
“Well, so much for being late, huh…? AAAAAAAAH!”
… … … …
“I was afraid of this,” Kim sighed as she continued walking down the block with Zita and Max. “See, Ron kind of…saved her life on a mission a few days ago. So I…guess she's…kind of…crushing on him a little.”
“`Crushing'…? `A LITTLE'…?” Zita remarked, having seen a lot more in the last two days than Kim had, “Uh…I don't think you're getting that lucky.”
“Well…it's not like I'm worried about it. I trust Ron, Zita,” Kim answered with a shrug, then following up with a hollow giggle. “Besides, it's not like he's had the best track record at picking up on these things. Somehow I get the feeling that Rita's not going to get her message across much better.”
“I don't know,” Zita replied, shaking her head with a concerned gaze. “She seems pretty persistent to me.”
“Trust me, Zita, it's no big,” Kim stated dismissively as they reached the doors of Bueno Nacho, “Mark my words. In a couple of days this whole this is going to be…”
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Ron screamed as he burst through the doors in a mad dash down the street, with Rufus just barely hanging onto the sleeve of his shirt.
“Wait for me, my love!” Rita called out as she pranced after him. But what really got Kim's attention was the fact that Rita was not only wearing clothes identical to her own, but a wig in the exact shape of Kim's hairstyle.
“IIIII'm sorry, Zita, you were saying?” Kim noted dryly, still not completely sure what to make of what she had just seen.
“GET ME AWAY FROM YOOOOUUUUUUU!!!” Ron shrieked in panic, not slowing down for even an instant as Rita continued to give chase down the block.
“Hm…I think his perception's improving, don't you?” Max remarked with a goofy smile.
Kim, however, saw very little humor in what was happening at that moment. As a stern frown crossed her face, there was only one thing she knew at that moment. This sitch had already gone WAY too far.
… … … …
The chase had already gone on for several blocks, with Ron desperately trying to outrun Rita. But although he was managing to keep a fair distance between them, he had yet to lose her. It was almost like she was possessed, not about to let him get away, no matter what.
Just then, as Ron reached the corner of the next block, Kim's car pulled up to the curb. And in that instant, Ron's face instantly transformed into a wide smile of relief. He couldn't imagine a more beautiful sight. That is, until he saw the driver's side door open and Kim emerged from inside, vaulting over the hood to meet him.
“Ron!” she called.
“Kim!” Ron exclaimed as he reached her, whirling around behind her and hoping she could shield him from Rita's sight. “KP, I swear! I did absolutely NOTHING to encourage this!”
“Yeah, I kind of figured,” Kim replied. “The terrified screams really sold it.”
“You again!” Rita shouted angrily as she ran up, showing no fear whatsoever of getting in Kim's face. “Why do you insist on interfering?! This is between the two of us, not you!”
“Okay, you have absolutely NO idea what you're talking about, do you?” Kim replied, not impressed in the least by Rita's show of defiance.
“Ki-i-i-i-i-im…,” Ron shuddered as he and Rufus clung to Kim's shoulder for protection. A sight that was not lost on Rita as her eyes went wide in disbelief.
“You…you really want her?” she uttered, almost under her breath.
“Wellll…” Ron groaned, unsure as to what exactly the right kind of response should be. But as he turned and looked into Kim's eyes, he hardly needed to. The expression on his face was all the answer he needed to give.
“But…but why?” Rita whimpered, her eyes filled with confusion, “I…I could do anything for you…BE anything for you. Don't you see? Whatever you wanted, I could get it. All you'd have to do is ask. I don't understand…you could have it all. Why…why would you choose her?”
Again, Ron paused as he turned and looked deeply into Kim's eyes. And for the both of them, the answer was so obvious. But as Ron turned his head back to Rita, there was a confused look on his face as well. It was as though he couldn't see what she found so hard to figure out.
“Be…cause I LOVE her,” he answered simply, shrugging his shoulders. “Do I really need another reason?”
At that moment, Rita's heart absolutely sank. For a moment, she seemed paralyzed as she stood looking at Ron, her eyes welling up and her bottom lip trembling. But just then, she whirled around and ran off down the block, crying into her wig after tearing it off her head.
“Rita, wait!” Ron called out as he started after her.
“Ron…don't,” Kim interrupted, placing her hand gently on Ron's shoulder and shaking her head.
“Aw, man,” Ron sighed, turning back to Kim, “Kim…I didn't want to HURT her. I just…”
“It's okay. I know you didn't,” Kim replied solemnly as she put her arms around Ron and gently hugged him close, “It's just…trust me. There was absolutely nothing you could have said that was going to make her feel better. She's…just going to have to work this out for herself.”
There didn't seem to be anything more either of them could do. But with a soft kiss on Ron's cheek, Kim got his attention. And they found each others' gaze, a tender peck on the lips and another warm hug were quick to follow before Kim led Ron back to her car.
Meanwhile, several blocks away, Rita sat huddled at the base of a large tree, still choking and sobbing bitterly. In her entire life, she could never recall feeling as sad and lost as she did at that moment. Just then, her teary eyes got a glimpse of a shadow looming towards her and she shifted her gaze towards a pair of shoes and an all-too familiar cane. Her eyes then lifted upwards to see an instantly recognizable face.
“Oh, my poor Rita,” Señor Senior Senior pined, his hand clutching his heart, “I saw everything that just happened. Ah, to lose one's first love…truly a tragedy. Especially for someone such as yourself, with so many far superior qualities.”
“U…Uncle Senior?” Rita sniffled, drying her eyes on her shirt sleeve as Senior leaned down and reached his hand out to her.
“Rita, my dear niece,” Senior coaxed in hushed tones. “What would you say if I told you that I knew of a way to get you exactly what you want?”
“R…r-really…?” Rita whined, her breathing slowly returning to normal.
Senior simply responded with a nod and a kind grin. Feeling a sense of hope returning, Rita managed to form a weak smile across her face as she reached up and took Senior's hand…
… … … …
“Really, I simply cannot tell you how sorry I am that this happened,” Señora Nora Senior stated, talking to Kim and Ron through the view screen in Kim's car. “I should have known something wasn't right when she kept insisting on going back to that school.”
“Hey, don't worry about it,” Kim replied, trying her best to be civil about the whole thing. “It's just, well…let's just say, your daughter's got a LOT to learn when it comes to dating.”
“I blame myself,” Nora sighed heavily. “I pushed so hard for her to have a proper education and she did so well. But when it came to more…sociable aspects…I'm afraid I was more lax in those particular areas. I promise, I'll talk to her when she returns home. In the meantime, I hope you can forgive her.”
“Trust me, if you can just get her under control, we'll get along fine,” Kim answered before signing off and turning her attention to Ron a few moments later.
“So…your first time having a girl obsess over you. Did it turn out like you thought it would?” she asked, trying to make a joke out of it.
“Well, actually, that was kinda the SECOND time,” Ron replied, “I mean, there WAS that time with you and Shego and those Mood-U-wachamacallit…chip…thingies…you know?”
“Was I REALLY that bad?” Kim had to ask, feeling slightly embarrassed as her mind drifted back, “I mean, I remember a COUPLE of things, but a lot of it was, well…kind of a blur.”
“Well, you know, I kinda…thought it was better to…you know, leave it alone,” Ron answered uneasily. “So I just…never brought it up too much.”
“Yeah…,” Kim trailed off, feeling a little uneasy with the whole subject herself. But a moment later, she parked in front of Ron's house. And with a free moment to let her mind wander, she found herself turning towards Ron with a warm smile.
“But you know…for what it's worth…I…DO remember that kiss,” she added, rolling her eyes playfully before her voice faded to a soft purr. “And…I seem to recall that…it was actually kind of nice.”
“Well…maybe a LITTLE bit…,” Ron agreed, flashing an affectionate grin of his own as Kim snuggled against his cheek before getting out of the car.
“So Ron, just for the record,” Kim wondered as they walked up to Ron's house, “If you HAD gone after Rita before…you weren't going to give her some line about `just being friends', were you?”
“Uuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” Ron uttered, his eyes darting back and forth nervously. “Noooooooooooooooooooooo.”
Of course, that was all the answer Kim needed, even if it was the one she wasn't hoping for. Still, even as she shook her head with a sigh, she couldn't resist tossing an amused smirk in Ron's direction before leaning in and softly kissing his cheek.
“Oh, Baby, I love you more than life itself. But you have got SO much to learn about girls,” she remarked, briefly leaning her head on Ron's shoulder and hugging his arm as they paused at the front step.
A moment later, Ron reached for the door and walked inside with Kim right behind him. But no sooner had they taken two steps than they both turned around. And their eyes went wide at the all-too familiar face standing in front of them, glaring angrily.
“Rita?!” Kim blurted out, unsure of what exactly was going on.
“LUPO!!!” Rita shouted furiously.
“Yes, Señorita,” Lupo replied straightforwardly, opening a small compartment in his chest and blasting Kim and Ron in the face with a potent cloud of knockout gas before either one had a chance to react.
Kim and Ron coughed and sputtered briefly, but it was only seconds before they both succumbed and crumpled to the floor in a heap. And as they both lay sprawled out unconscious, Señor Senior Senior walked into the front door, standing over them with a triumphant grin across his face. Even Rita flashed an evil smirk at that moment, although Lupo maintained his usual rigid demeanor. But just then, a soft red light began to flash from the top button of Lupo's shirt.
… … … …
The next thing Kim remembered, she was being woken up by Rufus as he whimpered and pressed his paws against her cheek, trying to stir her. Instinctively, her first thought was how long she had been out. But such questions became irrelevant once she realized that she was alone in the house. Rita was gone, and Ron had disappeared along with her. Rufus, however, had been abandoned, clearly because Rita had no interest in bringing him along.
But that wasn't the only thing Rita had chosen to leave behind. As Kim sat up with a groan and tried to get her bearings, Rufus walked over to her, holding a glittering object in his paws. It was half of the heart-shaped pendant with the twin necklaces that Ron had bought for he and Kim to share…Ron's half. Since he'd given it to Kim, neither one of them had ever taken theirs off. But now Rufus had found it lying on floor, just…tossed aside like a piece of garbage. And as Kim squeezed the shimmering keepsake tightly in her hand, she could feel an uncontrollable wave of rage washing over her.
“Okay…I was GOING to be a good sport about this,” she hissed under her breath, her nostrils flaring wildly, “But if THAT'S the way you want to play it…FINE!”
“As of right now…IT-IS-ON!!”