Ron got up slowly and cleaned himself. He was really quiet during breakfast, which surprised not only Mr. and Mrs. Stoppable, but also Rufus.
“Honey, are you alright?” Mrs. Stoppable asked, touching her son’s forehead. “You don’t seem to be running a fever, though. What’s wrong?”
“Yes, son, what is the matter? Anything to share with your dear ol’ parents here?” Mr. Stoppable asked, adjusting his glasses.
“Nothing, Mom. Nothing, Dad. Just didn’t get much sleep last night, that’s all,” Ron replied, completely ignoring Rufus who was burying himself inside his cereal bowl chomping away the cornflakes.
“You know, son, nothing beats a day with nice cup of coffee,” Mr. Stoppable said cheerfully as he poured more coffee into his cup. He passed it to Ron and said, “Go on, son. Have a drink.”
“Dear!” Mrs. Stoppable pushed the cup away from Ron’s hand. “You know he’s not the age of drinking caffeine yet!”
“Thanks, Dad,” Ron said gloomily, ignoring his mother’s protests as he took the cup. He actually drained the lukewarm coffee down without much consideration whether it was going to burn his tongue or not. His parents looked at him in disbelief as he finished the last drop of the coffee and said, “That was pretty good. Come on, Rufus. Let’s go get Kim.”
Rufus whined as he jumped into Ron’s multi-pocket jeans. He was also worried about Ron’s sudden change of attitude. He left without saying goodbye, leaving his parents filled with questions.
“Dear,” Mrs. Stoppable finally found her voice. “Did you see a burnt mark on Ron’s hand?”
As usual, Ron went to Kim’s home to fetch her and walk with her together to school. It was his normal yet glorious routine. Only this time, his heart was sinking at the thought of not being able to walk her to school anymore. But before he reached Kim’s home, he made sure that he brought enough bandages to cover up the burnt mark.
“Earth to Ron!” Kim said, waving her hand in front of his eyes. “You are way too quiet today. It’s not like you, Ron. Anything bothering you?”
“Lack of sleep, that’s all,” Ron used the same excuse.
“Tell me about it!” Kim rolled her eyes. “Insomnia is so not the kick! It can drive you up the wall! You should try to get some early shut-eye at night. It might help a little.”
“What’s with your hand?” Kim noticed the bandage on his right hand.
“Oh, it’s just a normal cut, that’s all. I sorta cut my hand when I’m helping my Mom in the kitchen.”
“You ought to be more careful next time,” Kim shook her head weakly.
Ron felt a little better listening to Kim. The day seemed to be brighter for him when Kim’s around. Yet once they reached school, the situation might not seem too good.
“Hey, doofus! Where do you think you’re going?”
Ron cursed silently. It was those bullies again. They were still after him even after Kim taught them a pretty good lesson when their brains got switched. Ron decided to ignore them.
“Hey, Stoppable! I’m talking to you here!” the tall, fat bully bellowed. It was obvious that they won’t leave him alone unless he did something. He turned around to face them.
“Look, guys, I’m not in a mood right now, so if you’ll excuse me, I have a class to attend.”
“Oh, talking back, eh?” the fat one said as he took Ron’s collar. “Well, I ain’t gonna leave you alone. You still owe me money big time!”
“Hey, you guys leave him alone!” Kim warned but she was ignored by the bullies.
“Oh, just take it!” Ron said as he flung his wallet at them after taking out his IC. The tall bully was surprised and angered at Ron’s sudden bravery.
“Nobody plays rough with the Big Guy and gets away with it!” the shorter bully growled and aimed a punch onto Ron’s stomach. That was when Ron really exploded. He kicked the shortie twice the force he gave on his stomach, grabbed the hands of the tall bully that were holding his collar, picked him up amazingly and threw him onto the lockers, making a dent on them. He pounced on the tall bully and aimed more punches onto his gut.
Everyone gasped when they saw Ron actually beating up a person twice his size. Kim, Monique and, surprisingly, Bonnie and a whole lot of other people had to pull him away from them. The bullies ran away painfully, screaming murder. Ron breathed heavily, his eyes a dangerous look, as if he wanted to just end their lives there and then.
“What is wrong with you, Ron?” Kim said, almost panicked. “You’re never this aggressive before! What’s gotten into you, Ron?!”
“I…I’m sorry,” Ron said as he caught his breath. “I sorta lost control. It won’t happen again.”
“Lost control? That is totally an understatement here!”
“Looks like someone’s been in the stupid Buenos Nacho for too long. He’s got an overdose of soda and hot chili nachos,” Bonnie smirked before walking away from the glaring Kim.
“You lucky that ol’ colonel is not around, or you’ll get detention,” Monique said. “You guys better split before he actually catches you, Ron.”
As Ron and Kim dashed off to social studies class, Kim wanted to confirm her suspicions again, “Are you sure you’re alright, Ron? I’ve seen people being aggressive when they get insomnia but not like this.”
“I’m fine, KP, I’m fine. It’s just…I’m just so sick of being bullied again and again and again. I don’t want to end up such a loser anymore, that’s all.”
“Woah, Ron. You seemed as if you’ve just went under the lane of depression. Is your lack of sleep that bad?”
“Let’s go to class and get over with the day, alright?” Ron said as he took Kim’s hand to urge her to walk faster. “Life’s just too short to worry about things.”
Ron and Kim were at their usual haunt: Buenos Nacho. Ron ordered a shocking set of four tortillas, three boxes of nachos with melted cheese, two cups of sodas and three bowls of sundaes. Kim and Rufus gaped at the amount of food he was going to shove into his gut.
“Are you really, REALLY sure you’re feeling OK? I mean…this is so not you!”
“What? I’m just exceptionally hungry today, that’s all. It’s OK, Rufus, you can have this box of nachos.” Ron said as he pushed the box towards Rufus. Rufus soon forgot about Ron’s sudden huge appetite and dunked into the box of nachos.
“Uh, yeah, but…you are actually going to stuff all these into your gut! Don’t you think it’s a little odd?” Kim said, pointing at all the nachos, tortillas, sodas and sundaes. Even the other guests were watching.
“Alright, who are you and where’s the real Ron?” Kim said as she stared solemnly into Ron’s hazel-brown eyes. Ron blushed as he pushed her away.
“Hey, come on! It’s me, really! The same ol’ cool Ronald Dean Stoppable, the handsome ol’ KP’s sidekick! Really, KP, I’m just a tad hungry, that’s all! Tell you what, after this, let’s go to a movie.”
“What?” Kim wrinkled her nose in disbelief.
“I mean it,” Ron said as he drank his soda, “let’s go watch a movie after this. Then we can go shopping or something. My treat.”
“Ron…?” Kim was about to ask him but Ron cut her short.
“I’ve been saving, don’t worry! Let’s have some fun, OK? Just for one lousy day! Come on!”
Even Rufus egged her on. Kim sighed in defeat.
“Alright, you win. I still don’t know what’s going on here but I’m not going to let this free opportunity go now, aren’t I? Bring it on!”
So, for the whole day, Ron and Kim (and Rufus) went on a fun-filled trip. First they went to the cinemas to watch some romantic movie. Either Kim was too engrossed on the movie or Ron was too gentle, but when Ron wrapped his arm around Kim’s shoulders, she didn’t even flinch. She even laid her head on Ron’s shoulder. Uncanny, huh?
Then they went on a shopping spree. Ron did not complain about the difference between Smarty Mart and Club Banana this time. He just let Kim buy whatever she wanted. Of course, Kim didn’t buy that much. She only got herself a set of army clothing and some body-fit belly button T-shirts. The rest was just window shopping.
Later, they passed by the pet shop. Rufus, who was riding on Ron’s shoulder, turned to look at a tiny box at the corner of the display section. He sighed as he went weak all over. Ron noticed his yearning eyes and looked into the tiny box. There, dressed in a pink ribbon was a female naked mole rat. She was as cute and as pretty as Rufus was cute and handsome. She also had the same yearning eyes like Rufus when she saw him. Ron grinned and said, “You want her, don’t you?”
“Uh-huh. Uh-huh!” Rufus nodded eagerly.
“Then let’s get you your girlfriend!”
“Rufus actually had a crush for this female naked mole rat?” Kim said as she peered into the tiny box.
“He’s been crazy about her for a very long time now,” Ron replied. “It’s just that I often forgot about her because of all these missions and stuff. Funny though, no one seems to want to buy her. Lucky Rufus!”
The next thing they knew, they were out of the pet shop with Rufus and the female naked mole rat in Ron’s multi-pocket jeans.
Ron was much lively when he came home, much to Mr. and Mrs. Stoppable’s relief. He chit-chatted about his day with Kim and introduced the female naked mole rat he got for Rufus. He celebrated it by making a silly ‘wedding’ out of them, and him being the conductor of the ‘ceremony’. Mr. and Mrs. Stoppable smiled at their son who could never get enough out of fussing his naked mole rats.
He gave Kim a call and chit-chatted for about an hour before Mrs. Stoppable told him to get off the phone. He looked pretty perky for the whole day. He had a smile when he took his shower before bed. He was quite happy when he wore his pajamas, and he definitely beamed when he sent yet another email to Frederick.
Yet when he turned off the lights and tucked himself to bed, he suddenly became depressed all over again. He still hadn’t gotten over the fact that he was going to leave Middleton forever. Throughout his whole day, he was actually faking his enthusiasm and happiness. The part about stuffing his gut was actually to stuff his aching heart before he broke down into tears all over Kim. He wanted so badly to spend his remaining days happily with Kim that he made the burden in his heart even heavier.
He never knew that pretending to be happy when you’re not would be so heart-breaking.
He cried all night, until he cried himself to sleep.