The Big Jobs, pt 1: Ripping off the bandage


Important update 2018-04-15!

A number of readers expressed concern with my portrayal of Ron in the first scene of this chapter. They called me out for turning him into an angry jerk, which is pretty much the opposite of his actual character.

They were right. I had intended it to be him blowing off steam at all the sexual frustration, but, on re-reading, it came off as him being kind of an asshole. So, I've rewritten that section to (hopefully) treat him better and not have him be so OOC.

Thank you to all of you who pointed this out, and yes, you all did it politely and in the spirit of constructive criticism. Things like this help make the story even better than you seem to think it is.

Well, here I am again, apologizing for making you guys wait half a year for an update. Issues, I have them. Also, I get extremely distracted by Elsanna (and politics). Anyway, here you go. This chapter was originally going to be much longer, so I figured I should split it in half if you wanted it before Thanksgiving.

I'm kind of proud of how this part came out. I hope it was worth the wait.

Ron Stoppable groaned and tossed his controller on the couch. He and his entire squad had just been eaten by flock of giant, laughing geese, and not for the first time that morning. The humor of them calling themselves the "Giggle Gaggle" was, sadly, completely lost on him. "What is with this level, man? How many times am I going to have to die here?"

Felix tried not to laugh at his friend's troubles. He had kind of brought them on himself, after all. "Well, if you charged up the BFG when you heard the gobbling behind you, you might have a better chance at surviving. Just sayin'."

"Aw, cut me some slack, dude. I'd just slipped and fell in a pile of goose shit. Do you know how nasty and slippery that stuff is? It's kinda hard to weapon up when you can't even stand up!" Ron went on for a bit, grumbling about the lighting, the mechanics, the background music and the sadistic developers, before calling for a break and opening a new bag of chips.

"Right, Ron. I'm sure that's it. Nothing at all to do with you phoning it in these days. What's with that? It's like your mind is wandering off every two minutes. You know, more than usual. Why so distracted?"

Ron swallowed his mouthful and looked over at Felix with a mournful expression. "Distracted? You want to know why I'm distracted? It's because I've had blue balls ever since Junior Prom. You try living like that and tell me you don't get distracted!"

Whoah. That made Felix reconsider a lot of things. He had always figured that those two had been, if not getting it on regularly, at least intimate. Or at least getting past second base. Considering how intense Kim could be, Felix had, frankly, been wondering how Ron could even walk right.

"Wait. You mean you guys aren't..."

"Not even a handjob, dude."

"Oh, man. You poor fuck."

"Tell me about it! Do you know what it's like to be in the middle of a hot and heavy makeout session and have your girlfriend jump up and say 'Bye, Ron. I'm off to have coffee with Shannon'? She leaves me with a kiss on the cheek - the cheek, for god's sake - and a massive boner that I have to take care of myself, again! Do you have any idea how sore my arm is these days?"

Felix said yet another silent prayer of thankfulness that Zita was somewhat more involved in the process and managed not to sound too smug. "Well, you can always try changing hands."

"Been there, done that. Even did the thing where you sit on your hand until it falls asleep so you can pretend it's someone else. Doesn't help any."

Felix was starting to worry for his friend's mental health. "Dude, your girlfriend is most chaste."

"At least she's not dating your dad", Ron answered automatically.

"Good point, dude."

They both sat there quietly for a minute, then Ron jumped up, his usual happily unconcerned face back in place. "Okay, I gotta go to work. I'll see you later. And KP said she wanted to make sure I was free for lunch. You know what that means - a nooner! A-boo-yeah!"

Felix sighed and tried not to roll his eyes. His friend was nothing if not perpetually optimistic. And clueless.

Shego moved through the Middleton Mall with something approaching disgust. Her view attitude towards malls, and the retail industry in general, had been formed a long while ago by the World's Richest Mall. That is, she had seen the best that capitalism had to offer, and most of the rest of it was crap. Especially this place, with its shitty fast food and chain stores everywhere. Cow and Chow; Towels, Tiles and Tissues; Scotch Boutique; there they all were, just like every other godforsaken mall and shopping center she'd ever been in.

Her destination was actually one of the less objectionable chains, if she was to be actually honest about it, which she often was, these days, as much as it galled her. Banana Club (okay, fine, Kimmie. Club Banana, happy now?) was, she had to admit, not entirely schlocky, if pretty mundane. Shego vividly remembered that incredible dress Kimmie had worn to their first swing night, which had come from there, allegedly.

She still had trouble believing that she was about to set foot in the place. But, this was where Kimmie's friend Monique worked, according to her research, so she would just have to deal with it. This was too important, after all. There were not that many people that she could ask, if she didn't want to have to talk to Stoppable. Shego doubted Bon-bon would be much help.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a squeaking sound coming from behind her. She turned to look and saw - someone - clumping along dressed in some kind of medieval outfit, complete with a helmet and chainmail and, for some reason, boots that looked like they belonged in a cheesy '50s space opera. Damnit, shit like this was exactly why she avoided places like this. Shego noticed they were carrying a full-sized spear with what she hoped was a pickle stuck to the tip just at the moment she realized who they were.

Ron Stoppable was walking happily to work. Work, huh. That was still a new thing for him. Sure, it was going to mess up his schedule big-time, but, like Monique had said, now he would have actual money. So, totally worth it. Probably.

At least the there were lots of hot chicks around, anyway. Like that one right in front of him, with the incredible ass and the hips going back and forth. And that hair - ohh! He had a girlfriend and wasn't supposed to have thoughts like that, but come on. Long hair like that was a total turnon. Damn.

Just as Ron was starting to have teenage male thoughts about her, the woman turned around to look at him, and he nearly fainted.

What the hell was Shego doing here? What was she up to? Although she wasn't wearing her usual villain stuff, so maybe she was just out shopping? The last time he'd seen Shego in civilian clothes had been when she and Kim had been fighting at the Bermuda Triangle, and she looked almost as hot in those tight pants as she had in that skimpy dress. Oh shit - now he was thinking Shego was hot? He was dead if KP found out.

"Oh, for fuck's sake! Stoppable? What the hell are you supposed to be? Halloween isn't for weeks."

Ron managed, somehow, not to scream in terror. Instead, his sense of pride and loyalty was tweaked. He was, after all, upholding Middleton's famous pickle heritage.

"I'll have you know I work at Pickle on a Pike now, Shego." He waggled his pike proudly. "Maybe the second finest casual dining establishment after Bueno Nacho. The finest brine and the chillest dill in the Tri-City area. Pickle?"

Shego involuntarily leaned back as Stoppable waved the admittedly good-smelling pickle in her face. "Ah, no thank you. I'm trying to cut back. But seriously, though. You're wearing a pickle costume? In public?"

"Hey! The pickle is a fine Middleton tradition! I respect the pickle, I live the pickle. You oughta see me in the Middleton Days parade, performing as beloved Middleton Pickle Works mascot Kosher Dilly. I am the very avatar of pickle pride! Oh wait - you've already seen it. Maybe sometime when you're not in a Moodulator rage, heh heh..." Ron decided he should stop talking now before he got hurt.

Shego resisted the urge to cringe. Jesus, this is what Kimmie has to put up with all day? She's even more of a saint than I already knew she was. Shego knew she wasn't allowed to hurt the boy, but she could still give him shit. "You know, most people change into the ridiculous costume when they get to work, not before they leave the house."

"See above, in re: 'living the pickle' and 'pickle pride'."

Shego could think of nothing to answer that. She decided to go before she started to lose the will to live. "Yeah, well, whatever. Have fun with that. Unlike you, I have important things to do. Later, pickle boy." As she walked off, she realized what had just happened. Now she was having civil conversations with Stoppable. Greeaat. I'm fucking doomed.

Ron watched Shego sashay off in the direction of Club Banana, still not sure if that had really happened. So Shego was just going shopping? Apparently all girls did it.

Monique had to hold down the counter at Club Banana by herself today, Kim having called in "sick". She would have been a little pissed off at her best friend for dumping this on her at the last minute if she hadn't had a good idea about exactly why. Kim hadn't mentioned it directly, but Monique was 95% sure that her girl was going to break it off with Ron today. About goddamn time, too. She was going to try really hard not to go all 'I told you so' about it, but honestly, wasn't that what best friends were for? Well, that and to be a comfortable shoulder to cry on after.

The door opened and she put on her 'welcome to Club Banana' smile. The smile turned into more of an open-mouthed stare as a tall, statuesque woman stalked in. She was wearing skin-tight black leather pants and laceup boots that went up to her knees and had - green-tinted skin? Yeah, something new every day. That would explain the green silk shirt and green jacket, Monique supposed. Okay, here was an interesting fashion challenge.

For someone who seemed so self-possessed, she sure looked like she'd rather be anyplace else as she walked up to the counter. That look of haughty irritation seemed to have an undertone, like she wasn't quite sure what was about to happen. Monique didn't know when she'd been so intimidated by someone so apprehensive.

"You're Monique, Kimmie's friend, right? The one who likes wrestling?"

Well, that wasn't what she had expected to hear. It didn't make her feel much better about the situation, though. Her protective instincts immediately kicked in. "And you would be who, exactly?"

Shego had not planned for this question. "Er, I'm a friend. Too." Shit! This wasn't going right at all.

Monique realized that this woman looked familiar, especially with that smirk. "Wait a minute. I know you. You're Shego, the one Kim's always having to go and fight with. I didn't recognize you at first without that catsuit."

Shego was oddly impressed that random civilians recognized her, at least ones that weren't going to try to arrest her on sight. "So, you follow my career, huh?"

"No, Kim has your picture in her locker. Your hair is a lot shorter in person, you know."

"Yeah, the camera adds 20 inches.. Whoah, what the fuck? Kimmie has my..."

"Not the point! You keep trying to kill her! Give me two reasons why I don't call the cops on your ass right now." Monique picked up the phone, finger poised over the speed dial.

"I never tried to kill her! God! If I wanted to kill her, she've been dead long ago. Why do I have to keep explaining this?" Shego felt her voice rising at the need to defend herself yet again. She consciously forced herself to calm down. Getting into a screaming match and then having to run off was not going to help solve her problem. "Besides, I'm retired now", she huffed, chastened a little.

Monique was feeling less intimidated by the moment. The arrogant smirk was gone now, replaced by a look of...?

"So I heard." Monique crossed her arms and put on her best dubious expression. "So what are you doing here? You need a fashion intervention?"

"No, I need to... wait, what? What do you mean, a 'fashion intervention'?" Shego wasn't sure how she had managed to lose control of the situation so badly.

Monique, no longer intimidated at all, just rolled her eyes. "Oh, please, girl. You go around in a green and black costume, now you're here wearing green and black clothes, green and black accessories? You have some kind of theme going on?"

"Hey - that color theme thing? That's all my brothers' bullshit. I just..." Shego sighed in resignation. "Look. There's just not a lot of colors that go with green skin, okay?" And, now she had surrendered any evil credibility she might have had left.

Monique's smile was almost predatory. Fashion challenge accepted. "Oh, you'd be surprised. Give me 30 minutes and I will broaden your horizons. Trust me on this." Her smile went away and the dubious look came back, more intensely. "But you still haven't told me what you're doing here. You have 10 seconds to explain yourself before..." She held up the phone, '911' already punched in.

"All right, all right! Jesus! You're almost as annoying as she is." Shego squeezed her eyes shut and tried to get hold of herself. She had gone this far, she needed to get this over with. She took one last deep breath. "I heard it's Kimmie's birthday coming up, okay? I wanted to get her something but I don't know what she would want, so I thought I'd ask one of her friends."

"Uh huh. So why do you want to buy Kim a birthday present all of a sudden?"

Shego really should have thought this through better. Of course this girl would ask that question. "Well, you know. I respect her, professionally. She's a good and honorable opponent who I consider an equal." There, that should be good enough to avoid suspicion.

Monique considered this. On its face, it seemed reasonable. But in that case, why was Shego looking so uncomfortable? Why would such a dangerous criminal (okay, ex-criminal) care so much what someone else thought about any of this? Monique though back over the conversations she'd had with Kim the last few months, and some pieces started fitting together. She was beginning to get a good idea of who Kim's coffee villainess was. She wasn't at all sure how she felt about it, but she knew Kim, and trusted her. This woman, not so much, but Kim did, apparently. This was going to be interesting, anyway.

"Riiiggghhht. Assuming I'm buying any of this, why find me? Why not just ask Ron? They've known each other forever. And you see him all the time."

Shego tried and failed to block out the memory of five minutes ago. She did manage to suppress a groan. "Uggh, no way I can ask Stoppable, if for no other reason than I don't want to get Kimmie a gift certificate for Boner Nacho."

Heh, 'Boner Nacho'. Monique was starting to warm up to this woman a little bit. She also noticed the usage of Ron's name and not 'buffoon'. She filed that little detail away for later. "Yeah, you've got a point there. You don't want to get her a coupon book either."

Shego had heard more than enough about those fucking coupons. Not even as a gag gift. "Exactly. You see my problem."

"Well, you can always get her a gift certificate for Club Banana."

"That's not very personal, is it? I want to get her something I know she'd really want. Although god knows she likes this place enough."

Monique bristled in defense of her employer. "Hey - don't you disparage Club Banana! We have world-class designs, straight from Coco Banana's pen. Certainly a lot better than whatever that is you're wearing."

"Hey yourself. This jacket is direct from Paris."

"Paris, Texas, maybe. We have more interesting things in the closeout section."

Shego did groan this time. "I know, I've seen the stuff from your 'Upscale' store", she muttered. Was she ever going to get this conversation back on track?

Monique had a genuine, victorious smile now, as the last piece snapped into place.

"Okay, Shannon. So now we understand each other."

Shego's brain stopped working and she tried desperately to fix this. "Who? Shannon? Who's Shannon? My name is Shego."

"Sure it is. And unless Kim is having coffee and going dancing with some other retired villainess, your name is Shannon too."

Oh fuck. Fuck fuck fuck! Here it was, her latest worst nightmare, other than the one about having to clean up after a giant Commodore Puddles. Now everybody was going to find out about her double life and, retired or not, she was going to have to disappear for Kimmie's sake. Shego could only imagine the shitstorm that would come down on the girl when the press got hold of the story. No way was she going to let that happen.

Of course, the problem with that plan was that Shego really didn't want to go anywhere. She was in far too deep now. She instinctively decided to go with her standard method of resolving problems - threatening violence.

"You know", Shego growled, putting on her best scary game face, the one that made heroes and villains alike shit their pants in terror. "I am still a dangerous villain." She lit her hands to demonstrate her point. "Maybe you should skip all the nosing into my personal business and just answer the damn question."

Somehow, this didn't cause the other girl to cower so much as to smirk, still holding that infuriating pose like her mother. Damn, she had a good smirk.

"Yeah, impressive, or not. You're bad, I get it, but you're not that bad any more. What are you going to do - beat me up? Set fire to the place? I don't think Kimmie would like that very much, would she? No, you're not going to do anything to piss her off and chase her away again, not after the last time. Especially if you care about her as much as I think you do."

Okay, this was just fucking wrong. People - especially civilians - were supposed to fear her, not talk back to her. Especially not with valid arguments like this that cut past the bullshit and got right to the truth. Not that long ago, yeah, Shego would have gleefully torched it all, and probably slapped this chick around until she squealed, for good measure. Of course she wasn't going to do any of that any more, but still, did people have to take it as a fucking given?

"Oh, fuck you and your goddamned logic." Shego hated how that seemed to come out as a pout. "Fine. You're right. I do care about her. A lot. And no, I'm not going to do things she doesn't want me to do, no matter that I don't really want to do them anymore either. I'm retired, all right? You could say I have a new outlook on life these days. Plus, it's nice not having cops on my ass and having to break out of jail all the time. Happy now?"

Monique smiled widely. It was good to have her suspicions confirmed. She had actually been expecting a bit more of an argument, though. "Huh. You gave in easy."

"Hey, I just ran into Stoppable wearing a giant pickle outfit, so I'm a little off my game. I'll never get that image out of my head."

"Yeah, Pickle on a Pike? I don't know how that place manages to stay in business. But I'm not buying it. How does the Great and Powerful Shego get shut down by Ron Stoppable being Ron Stoppable? What's the real reason?"

"Look, I promised I wouldn't do that shit any more, okay?", Shego shot back indignantly.

Monique just smiled more. "Girl, you are so damn whipped."

Which pretty much ended that conversation, from Shego's point of view, because she was so blindsided by that that the only thing she could think of in response was 'that is so fucking true', which really wasn't an appropriate thing to be mentioning right now. She went for a grumpy, bored expression, but it probably came out as petulant. "Whatever. Can we get back to the original subject of a good birthday present for Kimmie?"

"You mean the original subject of you needing a fashion intervention and me giving you one? Yeah, let's get back to that. Because that whole green-and-black thing just screams 'oh, look at me, I'm evil'."

"Gah! I told you, that was my brothers' idea. They're all a bunch of fucking idiots."

"Uh huh. So why are you still wearing it all these years later?"

"Because it's practical and everything matches! Now can we please talk about what Kimmie wants for her birthday?" Shego was really starting to regret not having asked Stoppable after all. Him, she could intimidate.

Monique was probably enjoying this way more than she should, she knew, but she couldn't resist. It was entirely too much fun watching Kim's former nemesis squirm. "Sure, we can do that. Right after we straighten out your little misconception about colors. Just follow me and prepare to be enlightened."

"Wait, what the fuck?" Yep, this had gone wrong in every possible way.

"It's simple. You let me give you a makeover, and then I tell you what Kimmie wants for her birthday."

Shego groaned, waved goodbye to the very last of her dangerous reputation, and walked off after the salesbitch from hell. This was going to be a long day.

It had seemed like such a simple thing. Sit Ron down and calmly, reasonably explain to him that their relationship wasn't working out and that they would be way better off just being friends like before. No big, right? Now that it was about to happen, Kim didn't know what she had been thinking. Of course it was going to be big. Ron would freak the heck out and run off and probably never speak to her again. And she would break his heart as a bonus. It was going to be huge!

Waiting at the food court for Ron to show up so she could ruin everything, Kim was this close to running off before it was too late. How on earth was she going to live without her best friend forever? How was she going to live with the guilt? The other, more rational part of her brain reminded her exactly why she needed to do this.

How could she live with the guilt of knowing she was leading Ron on and making him think she loved him like that? How could she live with herself, pretending she felt something she didn't? More selfishly, how would she be able to keep putting up with bad dates and icky makeout sessions that left her bored and him in need of something she had no intention of providing?

She sighed, deeply. She knew she needed to just do this, for all the reasons. Looking out over at the sea of people, she spotted Alex Sapphic working at Something Offal. Talk about someone who could do difficult things. If she was able to come out, proudly, as a lesbian in high school without caring what anyone else thought, Kim could darn well break up with her boyfriend.

With that, Kim calmed down and smiled. Big, but so not the drama, really. She could totally do this. She only had a tiny pang of anxiety when she heard a clanking and caught the faint smell of brine.

"Hi, KP!" Ron, in full Pickle on a Pike regalia, threw himself happily into a seat and leaned his pike against the table. "Man, this work thing really takes it out of you, doesn't it? Hey, you won't believe who I saw coming to work this morning!"

Now that Kim had her courage up, she didn't want to get sidetracked. She needed to get this over with. "We can talk about that later, Ron. Right now, just... sit. And listen." She took a deep breath and organized her thoughts. "Remember a few months ago, when we were at Bueno Nacho after a mission, and I told you we had to talk?"

Ron had been accused of being slow on the uptake, and if he was being honest, he would have to agree. He didn't really get this whole boyfriend-girlfriend-relationship language that girls all seemed to understand from birth, he just knew that there seemed to be other levels to their conversations that always went over his head. He had figured out a few things, though, and one of them was that phrase.

We need to talk again? Oh shit, what did I do now? Was this about that Shay Cooties date again? He wasn't sure what exactly had gone wrong there, only that Kim had gotten really pissed at him and had been acting kind of funny ever since. He thought back over the last few weeks to see if he could remember how he might have screwed up, couldn't really think of anything, and decided to just try and play it cool.

"Ummmm... Yeah?"

Okay, he remembered. This was a good start. "And you remember what I said then?"

Ron desperately searched his brain for some memory of that night. "Ahhh... that it was okay if I couldn't Grande-size it?"

Ugghhhhh. All right, so maybe this was going to be a little harder. "No, Ron", she said as delicately as she could. "I meant about how we're boyfriend-girlfriend but we still act like best friends. Remember? And how we have to think differently about each other, and treat each other differently?"

The light clicked on in Ron's head. "Oh yeah, right! And I have to say, KP, you were totally right about the Thai food. That som tum is kick-ass! So, um, I apologize for being such a little brat about that. Heh." He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly and hoped this would get him some points.

That was sweet, Kim had to admit. All progress was good, and now she hardly ever had to deal with Bueno Nacho on dates. But not the point, not now. "That's fine, Ron. You did good there. But, that's not what I meant. Ron..." Kim took Ron's hand, squeezing lightly, and looked him in the eyes. "... We need to talk."

Oh no. Oh shit, I did do something! She didn't seem angry or anything, so maybe this wasn't about Shay Cooties? She did look serious and determined, though, sort of like her mission face, so something was definitely up. In a cautious little voice, he asked "Uh, Kim? Does this mean..."

Kim tried her best to ignore the worry on Ron's face and pressed on. She was this close. She squeezed his hand a little tighter to try to make this as easy as she could. "Yes, Ron. Yes, it does this time."

Ron's expression had gone completely blank. This at least made her job easier, since there weren't any interruptions. She kept going before he became catatonic.

"Ron. We've been best friends forever. Heck, we've grown up together. And we love each other, we both know that. But..." Kim searched back for the words from Tara, translating from Tara-speak. "Do we spend all our time thinking about each other? Do fireworks explode when we're near each other? Does it ever feel like you're floating in the air with hearts and rainbows everywhere?"

Ron tried to make sense of this, running it through the girlfriend filter. It all kind of sounded like chick business. "You know, KP, that kind of stuff happens in cartoons maybe, but this is real life. I don't think it works like that."

Kim chuckled darkly. "Actually, Ron, apparently, it does. I didn't know about it either until I asked some friends. So, what does that say about how either of us really feels?"

Ron was somewhat stumped here. This wasn't something he had ever thought about, to say the least. Apparently Kim hadn't either? "I dunno, Kim. It's just...I really like hanging out with you, and doing stuff, and eating new food and all that. And kissing you. Isn't that enough? I mean, how much better could life get?"

Okay, so life could definitely get better. There could be sex, for one thing. That involved the both of them. He didn't think that would be a good thing to mention at the moment.

Kim seized on this. "As I understand, it can get a lot better. Answer me this: Does it feel like some piece of you is missing when we're not together? Or does it still feel like we're best friends, just hanging out? And, you know, kissing."

Ahh, kissing. Ron really liked the kissing. He liked that a whole lot, even if Kim never wanted to use tongue. He had to say, she was more willing to kiss him these days. She was getting better at it, too. Heh. Maybe she was getting lessons. Maybe from Bonnie - he'd heard from half the school about how good she was. Hell, the whole football team pretty much confirmed it.

An image of Kim and Bonnie in sexy underwear and making out after cheerleading practice, probably on Kim's bed, immediately took over his mind. Mmmm... hot chicks making out. Yeah, Bonnie. Show KP how it's done, show her what a tongue is used for. Go Kim - dominate that naughty bitch, take her down like Steel Toe pinning Pain King. Now rip off each others' tops and start sucking on each others' nipples. Oh, yeah, just like that. A-boo-yeah! Now start moving lower, slowly...

Kim was a little annoyed. Here she was, trying to explain to Ron why they were better as friends, letting him down as gently as she could, and there he was, just spacing off again. Probably thinking about what to have for lunch. Uggghh. Boys! "Ron? Ron! Are you listening to me?"

Oh shit! I'm thinking about my girlfriend fooling around with her high school enemy, that's so wrongsick! She's breaking up with me and now I have a boner. What is wrong with me? I'm a terrible boyfriend! I don't deserve a girl like her! No wonder she wants to dump me.

"Ahhhh, sure, KP! Right! Yes, exactly. Kissing, right? Ah heh heh heh..." Ron tried as hard as he could to look innocent, which just made him look more guilty.

Kim watched Ron spazzing out and trying to act like he'd been paying attention. Inappropriate as it was, it was totally Ron. Kind of cute and adorable, really, just not in a boyfriend. She sighed. Time to get back to the point.

"More like 'best friends', Ron. Does the universe come to a stop when we're together? Does it feel like something critical is missing the rest of the time, like there's a piece of you that's not there? That's what we're supposed to feel, not this, not... best friends for life."

"But Kim! I want to be best friends for life! I don't ever want to lose that. I don't know what I'd do without my best friend!"

Kim grabbed Ron's other hand, which had been flailing around, and made her voice even more calming. "Ron. Ron. It's okay. I don't want to lose that either. It would absolutely break both of our hearts. I promise you, Ron, we will always be best friends. Always. That is never going to change. We just can't be boyfriend-girlfriend any more, that's all."

Ron appeared to be thinking it over, which was a good sign, but he didn't seem to be convinced yet. Kim decided to go with her big-finish line. "You deserve a girlfriend - a real girlfriend - who will give you the things you need, the things you want. Who will do those, you know... things... for you. With you." Kim fought down the blush. "Things I can't give you. Things I don't want to give anybody.

"Ron, I love you, I love you so much I can't even say. It's just... I'm not in love with you. And I think you feel the same way."

Ron was a little confused. Sure, he'd had a crush on Kim forever, even if she had never seemed to return it. But when he thought back over all the great times they'd had together, what always stood out was the friendship stuff. Hanging out at Bueno Nacho, going on missions, general goofing around. Also there was kissing, although that was kinda recent. If Ron was being honest, he had to admit that he was a lot more into it than Kim was.

Thinking about kissing led pretty much directly to thinking about sex, and how he would actually like to have it some time. That didn't seem like it was ever going to happen if he was with Kim. She seemed to be completely uninterested in anything like that. It was like she didn't even know it existed. He wondered if she had any sex drive at all. It didn't sound like it, which seemed weird, considering how into absolutely everything else she was. Great - his girlfriend was a Disney character.

Ron wasn't the most introspective person in the world, but it wasn't very hard for him to think over the situation and come to a decision. Have his best friend for life, or be all butthurt because his not-really-girlfriend didn't want to be his not-really-girlfriend any more. Right, Ron. Time to act like an adult for a change.

"Aahhh, you're right, KP. About everything. It's just that, I really like having a girlfriend, you know? I've never had one before, and it's really badical, and it kind of sucks to lose that. I mean, it's not like I have a lot of other options." Ron did a very good job of keeping the disappointment off his face. He somehow knew that would be a bad thing to do.

Kim let out a huge sigh of relief in her head. She had done it, and everything had gone pretty much perfectly. Ron wasn't hurt, he hadn't flipped out, and most importantly, they were still best friends. Flawless victory!

"Thank you, Ron! Thank you so much for understanding." Kim grabbed him into a deep spontaneous hug, as much as you could hug someone who was wearing a pickle suit. "And don't worry. I'm sure you'll have no problem finding another girlfriend. You're on the football team, you're way high up on the food chain now, no matter what Bonnie thinks."

Ron still looked skeptical, so Kim decided to bring up the thing that had been on her mind since the cheer competition. "You know, Tara still has that crush on you. She told me so herself."

That got Ron's attention. "Really? She does?"

Gah. Boys were so clueless. How did the species even manage to reproduce? "Yes, she does. She'd be quite the catch, you know. I heard she's a really good kisser, too."

Kim exploded in a blush. Omigod why did I say that! Thankfully, Ron didn't seem to have noticed anything other than 'kissing', and now he was staring off into space again. Bullet, dodged.

"But you'd better act fast, though. She was talking just the other day about how cute Josh Mankey is."

"Ah! Not the monkey guy? Kim, I gotta stop that. She can't get together with a monkey guy!"

"So ask her out. I'll give you her number."

"Thanks, KP. You're a lifesaver!"

Ron clumped off back to work with a very different worldview than he had sat down with. Apparently he wasn't going to be having a nooner after all. Now he didn't even have a girlfriend at all. On the other hand, Tara, the sexiest girl on the cheer team, wanted to date him! How fucking cool was that? And all he had to do was work up the courage to call her. Okay, so maybe it wasn't going to be that easy.

He was so overwhelmed by everything that had just happened that he completely forgot that he was going to tell Kim he'd run into Shego.

The feeling of relief, satisfaction, and joy was even more overpowering than Kim had expected it to be. She almost wished she had done this earlier, but she knew she hadn't been ready until now. Somewhat intoxicated by it all, she impulsively took out her phone and texted Tara.

He's all yours. Take good care of him.

The response was immediate.

oh, i will *exuberant emoji* and thank you! *high five emoji* *heart emojis* *party emojis*!

Next time: Shego plays dressup; Shego has one last thing to do; a goodnight phone call


* Apologies for there being no Kigo-y stuff this time. Next time, I promise.

* Ron and Felix's 'your girlfriend is most chaste' bit is a blatant steal from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Hopefully some of you got it.

* Scotch Boutique is a reference to an ancient SNL sketch about a store at the mall that sold nothing but Scotch Tape(tm). It amused me, anyway,

* Offal is basically the bits and pieces of an animal left over after butchering, when the usually-eaten parts are removed. It can be anything from kidneys to tripe (stomach lining) to trotters, and is delicious in the right recipes. Where else but Something Offal is Ron going to use his coupon for chicken beaks? (BTW, Alex Sapphic, AKA The Background Lesbian, can be seen eating lunch at the very end of the scene where Ron pans across the food court looking for somewhere to eat)

* Som tum is a Thai green papaya salad and more, and can be all kinds of spicy. Mmmm, som tum...

* Raise your hand if you've ever heard the "I love you, I'm just not in love with you" line before. *raises hand bashfully*

* I imagine Tara using lots of emojis. Unfortunately, I am an Olde, so I'm not sure what Kids Today would use.

* Update 2018-04-15: Apparently, FFN won't let me add multiple exclamation points to Tara's last line at the end. Thanks, guys!

* For all you fans of Oblivious Kigo, wellthizizdeprezzing has a really fun story (What the Other Doesn't Know), where neither Kim nor Shego have any clue what's going on. Check it out!


I own nothing Kim Possible related. You should know this.