Ron hesitated, should he put on the Global Justice uniform or the old mission outfit? He looked spiffy and official in the GJ uniform, but it was probably a violation of seven different rules if he wore it and represented himself as a Global Justice agent when he was, in fact, only an intern -- and an intern playing hooky from his classes. And Will Du would ream him out in a different way for each one of the violations if they were discovered. Besides, he told himself, he was better known around Middleton in the outfit he and Kim wore. Even if the two of them were on fewer missions these days this would be the outfit in which he was recognized.
“Ron. Ron Stoppable.”
“Sorry, the name doesn't mean a thing,” the policeman apologized.
“I work with Kim Possible.”
“Work with Kim… Oh, yeah, the blonde guy. What can I do for you?”
“Someone coming in on the flight from LA, due to arrive about ten-fifteen. I need to get back to the gate to provide an escort.”
“Well, you're not supposed to get to the gate without a boarding pass. Is this important?”
“Yes, VIP coming in,” Ron assured him. “The most important person in my life and I'll go Shego on you and sneak in if you don't let me see her getting off the plane.”
“Okay, then, let's see if we can get you through security. You're here kind of early, aren't you?”
The policeman talked with a security guard who knew enough about Kim to let the young man go through the security check. Ron waved thanks to both of them as he headed back to the gate.
It was only 9:30, and the plane would more likely be late than early, but Ron wanted his body in the airport with his mind. His mind had been at the airport for the last two days, since he received the call from Yori saying she was coming. His mouth felt dry as he stared at the arrival board to verify her flight was still on time. His stomach was giving him trouble too. He thought he had heard Yori saying she was coming to say goodbye to him. “She can't be that cruel. I had to have heard her wrong. She wouldn't punish me like that for sleeping with Bonnie. She wouldn't come all this way to dump me. God, I love her. I had to have heard her wrong.” The same thoughts kept endlessly cycling through his head, along with a generous helping of shame for being unfaithful to her, through the years it took for the minute hand to move.
At 10:21 the flight from LA taxied to the gate. Ron had his nose pressed up against the glass in the airport window -- hoping that he might see her looking out one of the windows on the airplane.
Ron transferred his attention to the gate itself as passengers began to deplane, the knots in his stomach tightened as he watched anxiously for Yori. She wouldn't stand him up, would she? Yori came out towards the end of the line of passengers, looking tired and lonely. Ron had never in his life seen as beautiful a vision. As she caught sight of the blonde man her eyes lit up and she smiled.
They were within ten feet of each other when Ron bowed, stiffly and as deeply as he could. After several seconds Yori spoke, “Ron? Ron-kun? You can straighten up now.”
“Not until you say you forgive me. I'll get down and press my head against the floor if you want, but I'm sure if that's really sanitary.”
“I have always loved your American sense of humor Ron-kun.”
“I am serious, Yori-chan. I will not straighten up until you say that you forgive me.”
“You do not need my forgiveness.”
“But I feel that I do.”
“So you would stand here giving a bow of apology while I went and found my luggage, ordered a taxi, and rode away from the airport?”
“I'm hoping you are not that mad at me.”
“I am not angry with you.”
“Then why won't you forgive me?”
“If I am not angry with you, why do I need to forgive you, Ron-kun? This is all very strange to me.”
“You should hit me, it would make me feel better.”
Ron raised his head and looked at her. “Yes, right in the mouth.”
“Hit you in the mouth?” the Japanese girl looked puzzled.
“Can I suggest you use your lips as your weapon?”
“Ronald,” she giggled, “not in a public place it is not…”
“Yes, it is not appropriate.”
“So, say you forgive me. We can find your bag and look for a place that is appropriate.”
Yori rolled her eyes. “All right, Stoppable-san. You have the forgiveness you desire.”
They walked slowly through the terminal, and by the time they reached the baggage claim area hers was the last bag circling on the carousel.
He threw her bag in the back seat of Kim's old VW Bug and headed into town. Yori had made a fast trip to Middleton once before, but Ron had not had a chance to show her the town. Tired as she was he did not want to take her back to the house where he would have to share her time with others.
“Would you like something to eat?”
“That would be very nice.”
“We don't have any really good Japanese restaurants in town,” he apologized.
“Why would I come to America for Japanese restaurant? What food is it that Americans eat?”
“We eat about anything here,” he grinned at her. “But let me take you to a place where they serve something I know you can't get in Japan.”
A few minutes later Ron pulled into a spot in the Bueno Nacho parking lot. He didn't get here much any more. A whole new crop of high school kids was seated at the tables and booths, but Ned was still behind the counter -- now as manager.
Ron showed her the wall with the few pictures of celebrities who had eaten there. Yori smiled to see his picture was prominent among them. Because fame is fleeting the youth eating there had no more idea who Ron was than they could have identified Jimmy Carter -- or perhaps it was the fact most people seemed to remember the red haired hero and no one paid enough attention to her side-kick. But for the woman who mattered it was Ron who was the hero.
Ron slid in across the booth from Yori after putting their food down on the table between them. He found his only hunger was to watch her as she experienced the food.
After lunch they sat on a bench in the park. Ron asked about the school, and Sensei, and the students he knew. He asked about everything except what he wanted to know, her feelings and why he could not return to Yamanouchi. He talked about the weather in Middleton and his classes at the U; he couldn't talk about the house, for that would have meant mentioning Bonnie. He spoke of everything that meant nothing to Yori, until she finally shut him up with a blow to the mouth, using her own lips as her weapon.
When their lips separated he put his arm around her and drew her close. She rested her head against his shoulder. “I love you,” he told her.
“And I love you.”
Ron now had the confidence the ask the question which had plagued him for months, “So why did you tell me I couldn't come back to Yamanouchi this summer?”
“Because I need to prepare for my marriage to Hirotaka.”
Ron shook his head slightly, trying to clear away the auditory hallucination. “Forgive me, Yori-chan, but it sounded like you said you were going to marry Hiro.”
“But you just said that you loved me.”
“But… But…” Ron stuttered. “I love you. You love me.”
“Isn't that what marriage is about?” He stared at her, unable to comprehend what was happening. After a moment's silence he heard his own voice speaking without being aware what he was saying, “Marry me, Yori. Stay here with me. I love you.”
There was another moment of silence before she replied softly, “I can not marry you. I will marry Hiro as my family wishes me to do.”
“I can come with you to Japan.”
“What would you do in Japan?”
“I can teach English, I can cook. I can do anything. I want to be with you.”
“You would always be foreigner in my country, Stoppable-san. You would come to hate me for the sacrifice you would make.”
“I could never hate you. Stay here. We are better about foreigners in this country. Marry me.”
“What will I do here? You are asking me to give up my family. What do you plan to do with your life? What life will I have here with you?”
“You have thought about this, haven't you,” Ron asked sadly.
“I have thought about this. I do not wish to marry Hiro. But it is right to marry him. It is what he and my family desire.”
“What do you desire?”
“It gives me pleasure to make my family happy,” she said softly.
There was silence as Ron and Yori stared at the sun, starting to set. It had taken hours for the minutes to pass that morning while he waited for her plane. The hours spent with her that afternoon had disappeared in minutes.
“Come on,” he said, “I need to take you where I live.”
That afternoon, while Ron and Yori talked in the park another plane arrived from LA. A Japanese tourist blended seamlessly with the other passengers, while six others drew attention to themselves. Actually, Fukushima did not even look like a Japanese tourist. In his Middleton U t-shirt he was simply another student coming back from a trip. This was the secret of the ninja, to blend so perfectly with the surroundings that one became invisible. The other six were all Western, but two of them wore the shinobi shozoku. How could you not draw attention to yourself when wearing the black garb Western media associated with the ninja? The five men stayed together, laughing and talking. Clearly they knew each other. At least the woman, Gabriela, pretended she was not with the others. Fukushima wasn't certain if this was because she possessed greater intelligence than the men, or because their personal hygiene and table manners had caused the Hispanic woman to want to keep her distance.
As Ron had suggested, it had been difficult for Fukushima to get into ninja grad school after betraying Yamanouchi. The Yamanouchi training was respected throughout Japan. But when he applied to grad schools it was always the same, “We require a transcript from your former school.” In desperation Fukushima had sought out other undergraduate schools, but a call to Yamanouchi usually ended his chances for an accredited ninja institution. Finally he had been reduced to looking at unaccredited schools. He hit bottom when he found himself outside the Baka Bar, Girl and School of Ninja Science.
Fukushima had seated himself at the bar, opposite an unshaven man with greasy hair and the stub of a cigarette dangling from his lip. “+I wish to enroll in the school of ninjutsu so I can get a degree+.”
“+We don't get a lot of Japanese here. It is really a place for American otaku"+
“+I do not need training. I studied at Yamanouchi. I just need a degree and a letter of recommendation from my professor.+”
“+I'm the professor. You really studied at Yamanouchi? Why don't you get your degree from there?+”
“+It's a long story. I just need to know, will it be possible?+”
“+Possible? Hell, if you're telling the truth you've got a job here. Serve as head of the school for a year and write your own letter of recommendation.+”
Fukushima looked around him. The place was not appealing, but he needed a job. It wouldn't be forever -- in a year he could move on. “+I'll take the job. You realize the sign is wrong. It should say 'Bar and Grill' not 'Bar and Girl'.+”
“+No, it's right the way it is. That is another of my businesses+.”
That was four years ago, and Fukushima was still there, usually teaching four-week sessions, mostly to Americans who had watched too much anime and thought they would be able to turn to smoke after taking the class.
He had kept a few contacts with Yamanouchi, students or staff who didn't really believe he could have betrayed the school. He maintained the story that he was innocent and that the gaijin had lied about him and poisoned Sensei's mind against him. They helped keep him up to date on some of the events at his old school.
When he learned that Yori was flying to America he had quickly gathered his current class of students and recruited them for a mission, to capture the Yamanouchi heir. As he looked them over only Gabriela showed any signs of being able to chew gum and use nunchaku at the same time. Still, they were expendable, his plan required them only as a diversion while he located and restrained Yori.
With no Ron around to cook the women had ordered Chinese takeout. They were almost finished eating when Ron and Yori came in the back door of the house and into the kitchen.
Ron began introductions, “This is Yori. You have met Kim before.”
“I am pleased to see you again,” the Japanese woman said.
“It's good to see you, Yori.”
“This is Shego,” Ron continued. “She and Kim are…”
“We're lovers, “ the redhead told Yori. “The babies in the play pen are ours.”
Shego waved. Yori looked puzzled, but said nothing. Ron carried on, “This is Monique. Why are you here?”
“I live here, remember? Aren't I allowed a Friday night without work or going out with Will?”
“This is Justine. She just moved in about a week ago.”
The tall, thin woman nodded her head at Yori.
Ron could delay it no longer, “This is Bonnie Rockwaller. Bonnie, Yori. Yori, Bonnie.”
The temperature in the room seemed to drop ten degrees as Bonnie managed a, “Hello,” through gritted teeth. Yori said nothing to Bonnie, simply staring at her like one might examine some odd specimen at the zoo.
“Ron-kun, please take my bag to our room.”
“Uh, I was thinking I'd give you my room. There are some little rooms on the top floor and I was planning to--”
“Ron-kun. I came to be with you. Put my bag in the room where WE will be.”
“That went terribly well,” Ron thought to himself as he carried Yori's bag up the back stairs. “At least neither of them pulled a weapon.” It was the first time Ron had heard Yori speak publicly about the two of them as a couple. Then the knot returned to his stomach, it was also the day she told him they were not, and could never be, a couple.
Ron returned downstairs and Yori apologized to the women for not staying up later, “I am very sorry, but I am tired from my flight. I hope we can talk more tomorrow. Come, Ron, show me where we are to sleep.”
He changed into his pajamas while she brushed her teeth in the bathroom. He wondered if, actually hoped that, the day had been a dream. Nothing was making sense.
Yori returned to the room in a red negligee. He did not remember seeing her take it with her, but it was so small it could have been concealed easily. Once on it concealed nothing.
“Ron-kun,” she said softly, her fingers brushing against his cheek, “You may close your mouth.”
“Muh… Muh… I don't think you should sleep in that.”
“You wish me to take it off?”
“Yes, No… I mean, I may have trouble controlling myself if you are in that.”
She wrinkled her brow. Ron was so curious. “Why do you want to control yourself?”
“I don't… But, you're going to marry Hiro. What are you doing here? It isn't right.”
“I have told you. Hiro does not love me. I do not love Hiro. I love you--”
“But you're going to marry Hiro. I can't imagine he is very happy that you are here.”
“I am certain he is not happy. When we are married I will be faithful to my husband. But before we are married I wish to say goodbye to the man who I love.” Yori began to cry. “This is why you may not return to Yamanouchi. I do not--”
Ron felt the tears starting in his own eyes. He knew what she was going to say, and he did not want to hear it. He cut her off by pressing his own lips to hers. They stood, locked in their embrace for two minutes, then moved to the futon -- the negligee and pajamas being discarded on the floor beside them.
After the lovemaking, and quick trips to clean up Yori cuddled against him and prepared to sleep.
“You should have told me Sensei was your grandfather before we ever made love,” Ron whispered.
“Would it have mattered?”
“I… I don't know.”
“If it would have not mattered, it makes no difference that you did not know. If it mattered I should not have told you. I wanted you as you wanted me.”
“Damn your logic,” he said softly, and kissed her cheek.
She purred and snuggled closer. “Please, hold me, Ron-kun.” Even though they had not been able to keep their love completely secret at Yamanouchi they had always tried to maintain appearances. They had never been able to spend an entire night together.
After her long flight, and in the arms of the man she loved, Yori fell asleep quickly. Despite sleeping poorly for two nights Ron could not sleep. It was wrong for her to be here -- she was engaged to Hiro. He buried his nose in her hair and inhaled, God, he loved her. They should not have had sex. Maybe she would stay… What would she do if she stayed? What would he do if she stayed? It was wrong for her to be here. It was wrong for them to make love. And Ron could think of nothing he had ever wanted more in his entire life than to have her here with him.
“I really, really need to talk with Sensei,” Ron thought.