Ron and Kim sat on the couch in the Possible living room, watching news coverage of their capture of an escaped tiger. “Why does it look like my job was serving as bait?” Ron complained.
“Because your job was serving as bait. That was the dangerous job. I couldn't have dropped the net on him if you hadn't lured him into the open. It's not your fault the camera crew didn't realize how risky it was. You were the real hero.”
“Be nice if the news said that some night,” he grumbled. “Hey, it's a week until New Year's Eve, Kim. What do you have planned?”
“I don't have anything planned.”
“Major social fox paws there, KP. You want me to try to set you up with somebody?”
“I'm okay, Ron, really.”
“Yeah, you say that. But ever since we broke up--”
“We didn't break up! We realized that dating didn't work for us. You are still my best friend! And--”
“And your best friend worries that you're heartbroken over losing him. That you may join a convent or something because of pining over him--”
Kim picked up a couch cushion and attacked, he responded in kind and the battle was joined.
“At least,” Kim reflected, “this is progress from when he insisted we had to figure out which of us dropped the other.” It bothered Kim, however, that while Ron appeared to have moved on nothing happened for her
After five minutes of swatting each other with the cushions Kim called an end to the fight, “Ron, you're my best friend. So please take this in the spirit in which it is given, shut up about the breaking up and the who dumped who or I will have to seriously hurt you. You've been my best friend since I was four. We slept over at each other's homes when we were five. We still go out to movies and out to eat, we just don't call it dating.”
“I'm worried about you,” he said with a level of seriousness that she found both endearing and annoying. “I just want you to find someone and be happy.” And he was still uncertain whether they should have stopped dating.
“Trust me, Ron. My life will not be ruined if I don't have a guy in my life for New Year's.”
“Are you sure, KP? It's like I've seen some girl as school with a t-shirt that says, ‘A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle’.”
Kim groaned, “It's Alex Safic. Do you have any idea what it means?”
“Uh, not really. But I thought it was kind of a cool saying.”
“How do I say this without sounding crude… Alex is into girls. I had her in gym for sophomore year -- she wasn't allowed to shower with the rest of the class. She's advertising for a girlfriend when she wears that shirt.”
“Darn. ‘Cause I liked it and was thinking of buying one for myself.”
In her mind she hit him again with a cushion.
In spite of the cold Ron was still riding his scooter, even though walking might have been faster. He tried to figure Kim out as he rode home. What really had happened between them? Sometimes he felt like it was his fault they weren't dating. Kim had seemed to be trying so hard to make it work, putting more effort into it than any of the other girls he dated, but it always seemed like it was hard work and an effort with her rather than being natural -- like she wished could want to date him more than that she actually wanted to date him. He felt like he had tried his best. And his best seemed enough to make other girls happy. Sometimes he felt like it was Kim's fault they weren't dating. She must have some ideal man in mind, God knows she deserved someone like that. In a sense either could be taken as his fault, whether he didn't live up to her expectations or she wanted someone better than him. But the problem could also be her unreasonable standards.
A few weeks earlier, after a date, they had sat and talked in his living room until two in the morning. They arrived at the conclusion they really had no business ‘dating’. They were best friends. They would continue to hang around together and do things, but they weren't dating. It still seemed odd to Ron. To go from best friends with no dating, to boy and girl friend, and then back to just friends seemed unnatural. He was more comfortable around her than any other girl he knew, but there was a tension between them when they tried for a romantic relationship that he couldn't deny and which made them both uncomfortable. Intellectually he knew he was better off dating other girls. He had been invited to study in Japan over the summer, and planned to go. Yamanouchi even wanted Hana to come with him, and his parents had unexpectedly agreed… If he could see Kim dating other guys he might actually be able to accept it and feel happy for her. But he didn't see her dating other guys. Emotionally he wondered what he would do if she said they should try dating again. Would he put himself through the pain again? He really loved her, but romantically it just hadn't worked. He just wanted his best friend to be happy. His mom's advice to Ron had been to give Kim time.
Ron was still trying to figure out Kim as he parked the scooter in the garage and went into his house. She was still his best friend, and he wanted her to be happy. Beyond that, she was a mystery to him.
Kim lay in bed, trying to get to sleep. Was there something wrong with her? She loved Ron, she really did. But when they kissed she felt like she wanted something more, or different… It frustrated her. Maybe how she felt when she was with Ron was exactly how she was supposed to feel, and she just didn't know any better.
New Year's Eve
Shego paced around her quarters like a caged animal. There had to be something to do. She asked Drakken if he had anything he needed for her to steal, but he told her to take the rest of the day off. She decided pacing was sign of weakness and threw herself on the bed; she lay there and stared up at the ceiling. In the movies she would be out at a bar with someone who was incredibly handsome, drinking and preparing for some wild and exciting heist. She wondered why real life couldn't imitate reel life. In single's bars it was always a great opening line when you were asked what you did and could reply, “Oh, I'm a criminal wanted in eleven countries around the world.” But the people you talked with tended to drift away suddenly when they realized you were telling them the truth.
Shego told herself she was bored. The truth was probably closer to lonely, but she would rather believe bored than face the unpleasant truth. She would have considered a conversation with Dr. D if that were possible. When the Doctor's brain was firing on all cylinders he was so brilliant no one could understand him. The rest of the time, when he was off in Cloud Cuckoo Land, the best strategy was to simply ignore him.
She would have given the henchmen back their money so that she could win it another poker game, but they were all had the evening off and were out getting drunk somewhere. They didn't even have the decency to ask if she wanted to go along with them. Not that she would have gotten drunk; Shego shivered at the memory of that last time and swore never again.
She fought the impulse to take out her cell phone, but lost. She found herself putting in a number and listening to the phone ring -- hoping it would not be picked up. Finally the answering machine picked up, “No one is home right now, if you leave a message--” Shego hung up. Caller ID would not reveal her identity. They would simply assume it was a wrong number. What would she have said if her mother had answered the phone? Shego would have asked for Ted Martin, or some other made-up name, and tried to chat for a minute with the polite woman who told her it was a wrong number. Or, even after all these years, would her mother have recognized her voice?
Shego suddenly smiled, if she was going to place calls to people she didn't want to talk with… She found a phone book; fortunately the name was unusual enough there was only one family in the city. Not that there was much chance she was at home, but Shego dialed the Possible's number.
Shego thought it sounded like there was a party going on in the background behind the woman. “Yes, Hello,” the pale woman responded. “Is Kim home by any chance?”
“Hold on, I think she's in her room.” Jean Possible covered the mouthpiece and shouted upstairs, “KIM! Phone for you.”
“Thanks, Mom, I'll get it.”
Kim picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“Happy New Year, Pumpkin.”
“Who… Shego? What are you doing?”
“Just calling to see that you're having a wretched time. Sounds like you're stuck at home at your mom and dad's party I see. Ohhh, poor baby.”
“Well, sounds like you're stuck too if you've got nothing better to do than harass me.”
“Not at all. I'm a big girl. My party starts late. I can stay up past midnight. Oh, toodles, Princess. I think my date just arrived.”
The smile stayed on Shego's face. Teasing Kim was as much fun as she was going to have tonight. She checked out the movie listings. There was nothing she really wanted to see, but she had to get out of the Lair. One of the cheap theatres still had The Memopad, the movie she had watched with Kim while she was being ‘good’. Shego shuddered at the memory and picked a different flick at a different theatre. At least in the darkness of the movie theatre no one could see her freakish skin color. She was just another anonymous loser, sitting there with all the others who could find nothing else to do on New Year's Eve.
New Year's Eve
Kim lay on her bed and stared up at the ceiling. Ron was out with Amelia. Zita had to work and Ron had managed to score a date with a major hottie on one of the most serious date nights of the year. Monique was at a party also, and Felix was out of town. Kim had stopped by the party at Tara's, and ended up feeling pathetic because she was the only one without a date.
“Leaving so soon, Possible?” Bonnie sneered as Kim put on her coat and headed for the door. “Going to bed early tonight?”
“God, Rockwaller, I just have too many better things to do than watch you drool on Brick. My date had to work late, he should be off now and I have to go home before he gets there.”
“Who is it?”
“You don't know him. He doesn't go to our school. Remember, I get out and meet interesting people.”
“You could have asked him to swing by here. If there really is a guy.”
“Hmmm… I think not. Just something romantic with the two of us.” Bonnie looked jealous and Kim gave her a superior smile as she left. The red head wondered why Bonnie and Brick were together. Brick looked good, but just wasn't bright enough to have anything really romantic planned for Bonnie; they were probably only out because you had to have a date for New Year's Eve. Kim kept the smile for another fifty feet after leaving Tara's house. There had to be something to do on New Year's Eve, something she could actually enjoy.
Kim called Wade as soon as she got home from Tara's. It took the young genius longer than usual to answer. “Anything happening, Wade? Anything at all?”
“Yeah, my parents are letting me stay up extra late.”
“I meant any mission for me.”
“Sorry, Kim. Want to come over here?”
“No thanks, Wade… It, ah, means I don't have to take the Kimmunicator with me when I go to Tara's party.” “I am so pathetic. I wonder which is the greater evil,” Kim asked herself, “Lying to a fourteen year old kid or having to admit that's the best offer you have.”
A short time later the phone rang and her mom called up the stairs, “KIM! Phone for you.”
“Thanks, Mom, I'll get it.”
Kim picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“Happy New Year, Pumpkin.”
“What! Shego? What are you doing?”
“Just calling to see that you're having a wretched time. Stuck at home at your mom and dad's party I see. Poor baby.”
Now it was official, maybe she should just write a big L on her forehead for loser. At least Shego wouldn't be telling anyone in school about it. She thought about taking in a movie, but when she opened the paper to the movie listings the first thing she noticed was The Memopad. Kim folded up the paper, she didn't need that memory on top of the phone call, and decided just to turn in early. Maybe tomorrow would be more exciting.
Shego stared mindlessly at the screen, only half following the movie. It had been a weird evening. Why in the hell had she called home? What would she have said if her mother answered and recognized her voice? What could she have said if her father answered? Were they even together? And why had she called Kim? God, that made even less sense than calling home. Or was there some sense there… The last couple times Shego had seen her brothers were when she was with Kim. Perhaps the attempt to call home had been what triggered thoughts of Kim into her mind. Shego breathed a little sigh of relief. It was good to have a rational explanation for thinking about Kim. The last time she had seen a movie it had been with Kim… “Damn it, even her memory is annoying. Why doesn't she leave me alone?“
Most of the guests at the Possible party left soon after midnight and Kim turned in. She punched her pillow, trying to get it into the perfect position for her head… Why in the world had Shego called her? “She lied to me,” Kim told herself. “She didn't have anything to do either or she would have been doing it.” There was one flaw in the logic, however. Kim convinced herself Shego had no party plans, but it failed to explain why the pale woman had called her. The call had been too pleasant to completely write off as a crank call, but too annoying to accept as a call wishing her well. Kim sighed and tried to sleep, she found the older woman impossible to figure out.