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Raiders of the Lost Afikomen

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Dedicated to MrDrP, il miglior fabbro


I.

Although she was earnestly trying to remain as solemn and reverential as she could, not-yet-eight-year-old Kim Possible couldn't help but think that her best friend Ron Stoppable looked incredibly cute wearing his kippah. The situation was all the more awkward for Kim since she normally didn't think about her best friend in those terms and felt strange on the rare occasions that she did..

Kim had been invited to be Ron's special guest at the Stoppable's Seder feast. Since in previous years Kim had invited Ron to Easter egg hunts at her church, it only seemed right that he return the favor by extending an invitation to her for his family's spring tradition.

From Sunday school and what she had caught from the Ten Commandments over the years, Kim had a general idea of what Passover was about; however, the sheer amount of tradition associated with the dinner greatly impressed her.

Like hers, Ron's family wasn't overly religious. Since Kim had yet to be invited to Temple by Ron and his bar mitzvah was still years away, this was the first chance she got to see him observing his heritage. When her father had dropped her off at the Stoppables', James had told her to be extremely respectful of Ron and his family's traditions. This was a needless precaution; Kim was a very conscientious child, and, what's more, she would never do anything that might embarrass her best friend.

That said, Kim was taken aback when she met Ron at the door and noticed the small white skull cap on his head. Although they had been friends for almost four years, she had never seen Ron look so … different, like someone she had never met before. Still Ron, but … different. In spite of the goofy grin he always greeted her with, he looked, well, distinguished in his suit and traditional headgear.

"Kimberly, your dress is very beautiful," Elliot Stoppable said to her after shaking James Possible's hand in greeting. Kim smiled shyly back at Ron's dad. She only knew him slightly, but she did like him. Like his son, he had the ability to make her laugh. However, the real reason for her shy smile was because, just that morning, Kim had lost one of her front teeth, and she was feeling extremely self-conscious.

As their fathers exchanged small-talk, Ron led Kim into the dining room and tried his best to explain to her what to expect in the next hour or so. As he did so, Kim was both impressed and mildly disturbed. Well, maybe "disturbed" was too strong a word. However, it was strange to learn there was another side of her best friend that she had never known about. Until the moment she saw him in his kippah, Kim had felt secure that she was an expert in all things Ron. Yet from the moment she saw him in the doorway, she realized that there were aspects to him that she had never guessed existed. As he spoke of the traditions in as serious a tone as she had ever heard him use, she underwent one of the truly original experiences in life. Although she already knew that Ron was a different person with his own life, feelings, etc. that were independent of her own, she didn't feel it, didn't know it know it until that moment. Such a discovery for someone not quite eight was quite disorienting … but not unpleasant.

By the time he had finished explaining everything he could about the dinner, she realized that she could barely recall anything of what he had said, but the glow in his voice and eyes had succeeded in settling into her soul, and she, paradoxically, felt closer to her best friend than she ever had before.

Like a gentleman, Ron pulled out her chair and gently pushed her to the table. Ron's parents entered the room, and Elliot Stoppable explained he was lighting the Yom Tov candles so the celebratory meal could begin.

Just as Kim noticed the five cups of wine on the table (one placed at each of their place settings and an additional one sitting by itself near a far edge of the table), Ron's father gently explained to Kim that wine would be drunk during the dinner. Both Ron and her cups had been filled with watered-down wine. He had already spoken with her father about the situation, but that Kim didn't have to drink any if she didn't want to. In fact, they had some grape juice in the refrigerator if she would prefer that. She gave an unsure look to Ron. The look he returned let her know that whatever she wanted to do would be fine.

"I'll try a sip or two of the wine," she said shyly to Mr. Stoppable, "I think that would be okay."

He replied kindly, "Whatever you would like, my dear. You are our honored guest."

Prior to the opening prayer, they all had a drink of wine (Kim only took a couple of sips). She had never had wine before. It was strong, but a little bit sweet too. She noticed that Ron, although he had more than a sip, did not finish his glass like his parents had done.

After speaking an opening prayer in Hebrew, Mr. Stoppable explained each aspect of the meal as it was performed, so anything Kim might have missed from Ron's original summary was covered again. At first, she thought the explanations were being done for her benefit alone, but she soon realized that these explanations formed a big part, if not the core, of the traditional meal itself.

After they all washed their hands, Ron demonstrated to Kim how to dip the parsley into the salt water. Whenever she seemed unsure about what might be happening, he always gave her a reassuring glance. Although he was only seven (and undeniably still full of the lovable child-like wonder he would never grow out of), Ron was the picture of maturity as he assisted Kim.

After the matzah was presented, a piece was broken off and taken from the room by Ron's mom. Ron smiled knowingly at Kim, but she couldn't glean his meaning. She frowned inwardly because she knew he had mentioned something about a piece of the unleavened bread being hidden, but she couldn't exactly remember all of what he had said.

Once Barbara Stoppable return and was seated again, Ron's father asked "Why is this night unlike any other?" and then something happened that completely startled Kim. In a steady firm voice, Ron answered with a sentence in Hebrew. She had never heard Ron speak Hebrew before. Before she could fully grasp this, Ron looked to her and said in a much more halting and shy voice in English, "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but Adonai our God brought us forth with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm." Kim later learned this was the same sentence he had spoken in Hebrew, repeated for her benefit. However, she still found it odd that he sounded so confident speaking Hebrew, a language of which he admitted later he knew only a few phrases, and yet so uncertain when he spoke English to her. When he finished, she gave him a warm smile that was equal parts reassurance and pride.

He couldn't look directly at her. She wasn't sure because of the glow from the candles, but she felt sure that he was blushing.

Ron's father took the second and fourth telling of the Passover story, giving explanations in both Hebrew and English. The fourth telling explained the significance of the different foods to be eaten: the matzah, the bitter herbs, and the kosher hen for the shank bone. Kim knew the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt, but she had never really given much thought to what it must feel like to be slave. Just as the traditions intended, the tellings Mr. Stoppable gave brought those realities a little closer to home for her.

Of course, the most memorable telling for her was the third because Ron gave it. It was a very long speech, maybe even longer than any his father gave that night; however, as Ron was speaking in Hebrew, he never seemed to stumble or lose his way. Kim was so surprised and pleased with his speech that she almost wanted to tell him not to bother giving the second one in English. The music of the strange words in his mouth made things seem … well … magical to her. Again, when he gave his English rendition, he lost his resolve and grace. He repeated a couple of sentences and, apparently, forgot a couple others because Kim noticed Ron's mother shooting him stern looks at a few points. Ron's father, however, gave off an aura of kindness to his only son. Once Ron was finished, Kim placed a hand on his knee and whispered, "That was very good, Ron."

He didn't look like he completely believed her, but he gave her a relieved smile. "Okay," he whispered, "now the fun part."

She gave him a somewhat quizzical look, but before he could answer, Ron's father announced, "Okay, kids, time to find the afikomen."

Like a shot, Ron leapt from the table and was halfway out of the room before he realized Kim wasn't at his heels. As he turned back to the table, his mother said in a somewhat stern voice, "Ronnie, I think Kimberly may need some assistance. I think this is something you should have explained to her earlier."

"Sorry, mom," Ron said obviously crestfallen. "Sorry, Kim."

Kim felt terrible. She knew this must have been one of the things Ron had explained to her prior to dinner that she couldn't remember. Now, because she hadn't been listening, Ron was in trouble. The Seder might even be ruined, and it would be all her fault. The worst part, though, was that she knew Ron would take the blame and, even worse than that, he would even believe it was really his fault.

"It's okay, Mrs. Stoppable," Kim said in the brightest voice she could manage, "Ron explained it all to me, I just … I just …"

"You're not an old hand at this," Elliot Stoppable offered kindly, "and you would rather help Ronald find dessert than race him for it."

"Y-yeah, I mean, yes, sir." Kim smiled awkwardly, still trying to hide the new gap in her smile.

Ron's father's smile was full of understanding. He turned to Ron and asked, "Ronald, would it be okay if you two searched for the afikomen together."

It was obvious Ron liked that idea very much and that he was no longer feeling as low as he had seconds before. He smiled and walked over to Kim and led her by the hand from the table and the room.

Once they were out of earshot, Kim whispered to Ron, "I didn't know you spoke Hebrew."

"Yeah, a little." Since they were no longer in the candle-lit dining room, Kim could see that Ron was definitely blushing. "I only know a few phrases."

"You speak it very well." Kim said earnestly.

"You think so?"

"Uh-huh." She nodded conclusively.

Ron smiled, his blush started to fade.

"I'm sorry, Ron." Kim said sheepishly.

"Huh? Why, KP?"

"Did I just get you trouble back there with your mom? I-I'm sorry, I guess I forgot about the a-a-feek-"

"Afikomen?" Ron asked.

"Yeah, I guess I was so overwhelmed with all the traditions, I forgot about that part."

"Mom sometimes takes things a little more seriously than she should," Ron reassured her. "It's no big de… no big … no big … ACHEW!"

"Bless you!" Kim said, steadying her friend; his sneeze had made him lose his balance.

"First week of Spring I always get hit with random sneeze-bombs," he explained.

"I know," Kim smiled dryly, "I've lived through four of those Springs already, remember?"

"Right," Ron sniffled, "what was I saying?"

"I don't know," Kim shrugged.

"Oh yeah, anyway, because mom is so serious, finding the matzah could take a while, KP. She has used some really good hiding places before, and it is never in the same place two years in a row."

"Well," Kim reasoned, "where has she NEVER hidden it?"

"Hmm." Ron thought. "In the basement, the kitchen, or in the bathroom yet."

"I don't think she left the room long enough to go down in the basement, Ron."

"Yeah, so that leaves the kitchen and the bathroom."

"It leaves the kitchen, Ron."

"Why don't you think she might have stashed it in the bathroom? There are lots of cool places to hide something in there." At this point Ron noticed the rather sharp look Kim was giving him. "Oh, yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Gotcha, KP. The kitchen it is."

As they searched through all the cabinets and drawers within their reach, Kim asked Ron if they ever had other guests over for Passover.

"Most years Uncle Frank and Aunt Naomi come."

"Oh yeah, I remember them from your birthday parties. Why didn't they come this year?"

"Well, Aunt Naomi is about to have a baby, and since they live fifty miles from Middleton, I guess she and Uncle Frank decided it was best to spend Passover close to their hospital."

"Oh, so you're going to have a cousin?" Kim asked excitedly.

"Yep," Ron smiled. "They already know it's going to be boy. They're going to name him Shawn."

"Wow, a little cousin to play with! I can't wait until Jocelyn is old enough to play with us. That'll be so cool if Shawn can someday come over to play too."

"Yeah," Ron nodded happily, "I've never had a brother or sister, so a cousin should be fun."

After checking every conceivable place within reach, Ron dragged a kitchen chair to the countertop to check the overhead cabinets. As he climbed up, he spotted a piece of matzah sitting on a napkin in a far corner of the top of the refrigerator. He walked across the countertop, nearly tripped over the faucet in the sink (much to Kim's dismay), and tried to reach up to the matzah. Even on his tip toes, he couldn't reach it from where he was. "Darn!"

"I've got an idea," Kim said. "Come on down."

Ron walked back across the countertops to the waiting chair. Again, to her dismay, he nearly tripped over the faucet.

Once he was down and standing next to Kim, who was looking up at the fridge, she said to him, "Give me a boost."

"Huh?"

"If I stand on your shoulders, I think I can grab it," Kim explained as she removed her shoes.

"Oh, okay," Ron nodded and bent down.

Using the fridge for balance, Kim steadied her feet on Ron's shoulders, and he gingerly stood up.

Balanced on her best friend's shoulders, Kim felt around the top of the fridge for the piece of unleavened bread. "A little to the right," she directed. "Okay, no sudden moves, Ron. I … can … almost … reach … it."

Ron looked up to see how things were going and quickly shot his head back down. What he had seen surprised him so much that he momentarily let go of Kim's ankles.

"Whoah! Ron! No sudden moves!"

Ron quickly steadied Kim, and at the moment she regained her balance, she snatched the matzah off the fridge. The napkin it had been sitting on slowly floated to the floor. Ron bent down slowly, and Kim alighted off his shoulders.

"Sorry, KP."

"What happened, Ron? Why did you let go?" It was obvious that she was more perplexed than mad.

"Well, KP," Ron stammered, starting to blush, "when you said you almost had it, I kinda looked up …"

When he didn't finish his sentence, she looked at him sideways and asked, "Sooooo what?"

"Well, KP," Ron was blushing severely now and rubbing the back of his neck like he always did when he was super nervous, "you usually don't wear dresses."

"Huh?" As what Ron meant dawned on her, she started to blush. "Oooooooh, okay. I get it. Sorry, Ron, I didn't even think about that."

"So you're not mad at me?" Ron asked sheepishly.

"Of course not, Ron. That was my mistake. If I had thought about it, I would have told you before not to look up."

"Thanks, KP," Ron said, his blush started to fade.

"Like you said a few minutes ago, Ron, 'No big.'"

They both smiled.

"Hey!" Ron said excitedly, "you lost a tooth, KP!"

Immediately, Kim stopped smiling and reflexively covered her mouth with her hand. "I know," she said dejectedly, "it's ugly."

"No, it isn't. It's cool!" Ron said pleasantly. "Let me see."

Kim had been prepared for Ron to say something nice and well-meant about her missing tooth, he was her best friend after all, but she certainly didn't expect him to get excited or to pronounce what she saw as an icky, horrendous gap in her smile as "cool." She was so surprised by Ron's reaction that, despite her better judgment, she took down her hand, smiled, and let Ron inspect her imperfect smile.

He was beaming appreciatively at her. "Wow!" he breathed.

"You really think it's cool?" She asked with an unsure smile.

"No fooling, KP," Ron smiled. "It means you're growing up. Out with the old and in with the new."

She shook her head bemusedly. Ron could be so silly sometimes.

"Check it out," Ron said taking a step toward her. He smiled broadly and with his tongue wiggled one of his bottom front teeth.

"Ewww," Kim laughed.

"Just started wiggling a few days ago, I can't wait for it to finally come out."

"Thanks, Ron." Kim said.

"Huh?"

"For making me feel better."

"Just spreading some Ronshine, KP," he answered with a pleased nod.

Ronshine? Kim thought. He is so weird sometimes. But she laughed anyway.

"We should probably be getting back," Ron said.

Kim nodded, and Ron took his guest by the hand and led her back into the dining room with their captured prize.

"That was quick," Elliot Stoppable said upon their return. "Record time, in fact. Kimberly, you must be a very good searcher."

Kim smiled broadly, no longer concerned with her missing tooth, "Thank you, Mr. Stoppable. But Ron found it; I just helped him reach it." Out of the corner of her eye, Kim noticed a puzzled look briefly cross Mrs. Stoppable's face. Kim immediately retracted her smile. Maybe Ron's mother didn't share Ron's positive assessment of missing teeth.

Ron handed the piece of matzah to his mother. Since he and Kim had both found it, it would be divided equally between them.

"Ronnie," Mrs. Stoppable asked slowly, "where did you and Kimberly find this?"

"In the kitchen, mom." Ron answered.

"Where exactly in the kitchen?"

"On top of the fridge."

"Uh, I hid the afikomen in the basket on the kitchen table, Ron." She then looked down at the matzah in her hand. It wasn't as crispy as the rest of the matzah on the table; it was actually kind of bendable. And dusty. "Didn't you two notice that this piece of matzah was, well, old?" She asked a twinkle of amusement in her eyes.

Actually, Ron hadn't touched the retrieved piece of bread, and Kim couldn't explain why she hadn't noticed how icky it was either. Of course, she knew the reason was because she had been too intent on what she had been holding in her other hand-Ron's hand, but she didn't feel comfortable admitting this to either Ron or his parents.

"So," Ron said somewhat mischievously to Kim, "that means the search isn't over yet?"

She returned his look with a devious smile, "Search? Or do you mean race?"

For the fourth or fifth time that night, Ron totally surprised Kim. Before the word "race" had left her lips, he had sprinted to the door, and she found herself bounding after his disappearing form to the laughter of his parents.

The fact that his legs were longer than hers boded well for Ron getting into the kitchen first. However, the napkin for the original afikomen that had been knocked to the floor did not bode well for his footing once he got there. Ron slid feet first across the kitchen and under the table, pulling the tablecloth with him. This resulted in two things: 1) Ron found himself cocooned in the checker board fabric of the tablecloth and 2) the basket containing the afikomen sailed through the air and landed deftly in Kim's surprised hands as she rounded the corner into the kitchen.

After getting over the initial surprise of suddenly holding the basket and seeing what she assumed was her best friend thrashing about underneath the kitchen table wrapped in a tablecloth, Kim lay down the basket and went over to help untangle Ron. Once free, Ron's eyes darted around the room excitedly, "Where is it? Where is it?" He quickly spied the basket lying on the floor, dashed toward it (almost slipping on an edge of the table cloth), and, once uncovered, held up the afikomen and cried "Booyah!"

Ron was so happy and excited that he failed to notice Kim walk up behind him. He jumped when she touched his shoulder.

"Whoah, Ron!" she laughed. "I was just trying to fix your … uh … hat."

Once she had freed Ron, Kim had noticed he was no longer wearing his skullcap, and she had been digging through the tablecloth to look for it while he had been busy claiming his prize.

As she did her best to right the kippah on Ron's head, it slowly dawned on him that Kim's concern for it had probably been the sole reason he had been able to claim the afikomen first. He felt terrible.

After positioning the kippah, and straightening his tie (it had ended up twisted behind his left shoulder after the spill under the table), Kim took a few steps back to look at him. She immediately realized he was upset about something. "What's wrong, Ron?"

"I'm being such a horrible host, KP," he sniffled.

"What are you talking about? Don't cry, Ron!"

"Here you are being so nice to me and I," he was blubbering a little now, "and I just bulldoze right over you for a ... a cracker."

Even though they had only been friends for four years, Kim had seen her best friend cry more times than she could count. Ron pretty much cried over everything. And even though it didn't distress her any longer and might even annoy her on occasion, she still couldn't help the small lump that always formed at the back of her throat whenever she saw tears run down his freckled cheeks.

"Ron Stoppable, it is not just a cracker! It's matzah, the afeekamon. It is very important. You have nothing to apologize for. And if finding it makes you happy, and a few seconds ago it certainly did, than you should try your best to get to it first. I was only trying to tidy you up. There is nothing to apologize for. Nothing." She gave his hand a squeeze to reassure him.

He sniffled and tried to wipe his nose on his sleeve, but she stopped him and handed him an edge of the tablecloth instead. "And you are being a great host, Ron. You are being the perfect gentleman," she said earnestly as he dried his tears on the cloth.

"Really?" he said with the beginnings of a relieved smile.

"Omygosh, Ron!" Kim shouted excitedly, "Your tooth!"

"Huh?" Ron, still sniffling a little, used his tongue to search for any new gaps in his mouth. Sure enough, the tooth he had wiggled not five minutes before was gone.

"Booyah," Ron cried for the second time in as many minutes.

They both began the frantic search for Ron's tooth. Kim found it wrapped up in the tablecloth. Despite the icky feelings she had felt for her own tooth that morning (she had refused to touch or even look at it when her mother recovered it from her bed sheets), Kim felt perfectly comfortable handling Ron's tooth and presented it to him with a smile.

After sharing a giggle over their equally imperfect new grins, Kim said, "We should probably straighten up a little and get back to dinner." They both fixed the tablecloth the best they could and centered the flower basket that had held the afikomen, and walked out of the kitchen hand in hand.

A few seconds later, Kim returned to the kitchen and picked up the afikomen from the table; they had both forgotten to bring it with them.

Once the news concerning Ron's tooth had been delivered and dinner was resumed, Mrs. Stoppable revealed that the first afikomen they had found was the first afikomen she had ever hidden at their home—nearly four years earlier. Both Kim and Ron reacted with a "ewwww" to that revelation. A jinx exchange later and Ron owed Kim another soda.

Three years prior, Barb and Elliot had waited for more than thirty minutes for Ron to conclude his search before his mother realized that her hiding place had been somewhat inappropriate. A boy not quite four would be unlikely to find ANYTHING hidden on top of six foot tall appliance. There had been a storm raging outside, and Barbara, preoccupied with other matters, including a tornado warning, had carelessly hidden the afikomen in the first place that had occurred to her. Realizing her mistake, she had improvised with a second, more easily found afikomen and had completely forgotten about the first one until now. Everyone had a good laugh about that, and Kim noticed that Ron seemed to be truly enjoying himself again.

After Mr. Stoppable spoke a prayer of thanksgiving for the feast and everyone had their third cup, or in Kim's case, sip of wine, Elliot asked Ronald if he was ready. Ron swallowed hard and hesitantly got up from the table. Kim was confused. She had initially thought Ron was going to give another speech in Hebrew and was looking forward to hearing the foreign-sounding music flow easily from her best friend's lips, but now it looked like he was going somewhere and was none too happy at the prospect. Darn it! Kim thought. Why didn't I listen more closely to Ron before dinner? She had no idea what was going on, but whatever it was, she wanted desperately to help him.

Once again, Elliot Stoppable seemed to sense Kim's distress. "Kimberly, would you like to help Ron?"

She smiled and nodded enthusiastically.

As she ran up to him and grabbed his hand, she could see Ron's slumped shoulders straighten, and she felt the tension ease out of his fingers. She inclined her head and whispered, "So what are we doing?"

"Letting Elijah in," he whispered back with a bit of a shiver.

After Ron briefly explained the tradition of opening the side door for the prophet Elijah ("So that's who the extra cup of wine is for, right?" Kim guessed correctly.), Kim was still perplexed by Ron's nervousness.

"Why are you so scared, Ron," she asked. "Is Elijah a ghost or something?"

"No, no, KP. He isn't even dead." Ron explained.

"Huh?"

"God took him to heaven in a fiery chariot, so, technically, he never died."

"Wow." Kim breathed. That was definitely not something she remembered being covered in her Sunday school classes. Even though Jesus had risen from the dead, He still had to die before He could get to heaven. "But, Ron, I'm still confused. Isn't he a good person? You're acting like we're about to open the door in a haunted house."

"Well, KP," Ron sighed, stopping before the Stoppable's kitchen door that led out to the garage, "it's kinda like we are."

Realizing where the door they were standing before led, Kim cocked an eyebrow at Ron, "This isn't about that stupid garden gnome is it?"

"No," Ron shuddered, "but bringing him up doesn't make me feel any better."

She patted his shoulder. "Sorry, Ron. So what is it?"

"Well," Ron explained, "the first Seder night we spent in this house it was raining, and lighting. I think there was even a tornado. I wasn't even four. Just a little kid and no where near as brave as I am now."

Kim let that pass without comment.

"Just as I opened the door that night," Ron continued, "I guess dad had left the garage door open, a flash of lightning struck real close, like in our yard, and lit up the entire garage. And HE was standing right there in the doorway. I screamed and ran away." Ron looked really ashamed as he finished.

"Who?"

"Huh?"

"Who was standing in the doorway … Elijah?" Kim asked hesitantly. Ron's story had successfully creeped her out a little.

"No, Rabbi Katz," Ron explained. He then added thoughtfully, "Although I guess you could say that he does kinda look how I picture Elijah."

"Rabbi Katz?" Kim asked.

"Yeah," Ron explained, "our rabbi at Temple."

"So you're scared of Rabbi Katz?" Kim asked still not sure where this story was heading.

"No, no, no, no," Ron shook his head, "but I was that night. And I feel so embarrassed by how I acted. He is such a nice guy, and I acted like a complete idiot that night."

Finally, it clicked for Kim. Although Ron had been scared on that Seder night four years ago, fear wasn't what was bothering him tonight. Her friend was merely racked with guilt and shame at the memory (and had been on every Seder night in between, Kim imagined). She draped her arm around him and gave him a hug.

"Ron, you were just a little kid. I'm sure it was okay with Rabbi Katz."

"Yeah, that's what my dad tells me, but I still feel pretty bad about it."

"Well, if he's your rabbi, he is supposed to be the guy you turn to for advice, right?"

"Yeah."

"Well, why don't you ask him for advice about this?"

Ron's face flashed for a moment, but furrowed with doubt quickly. "A good idea, KP, but I don't think I could talk to him about it. I just don't think I can."

"Hmm," Kim thought for a moment. "Well, what if there was someone there to help you. You know, to give you courage to speak to him?"

"No dice, KP, even Rufus couldn't give me enough courage."

"Wow," Kim said, appreciating the fact that the giant imaginary friend rarely failed young Ron. "Well," she said with smile, "how about me?"

"What?" Ron asked. "You'd go to Temple with me and help me talk to the rabbi?"

"Sure," Kim smiled. "Why not? This is the kind of thing best friends are for!"

"Gee, KP," Ron smiled, "I don't know what I can say."

"You don't have to say anything, Ron," she said giving his shoulders another hug. "It's no big," she giggled.

"You really like that, don't you?" Ron asked, hearing his misspoken phrase for the second time coming from Kim's lips.

"Yep," she nodded, "it's funny."

"Well," Ron breathed deeply, "I guess we need to do this." He gripped the door knob.

"I'm right here, Ron," Kim whispered in his ear.

So with Kimberly Possible's small hand steadying him, Ronald Stoppable took another deep breath, turned the knob on the garage door, and let in the spirit of Elijah.

II.

"Want another Peep?" Kim asked, her arm extended to Ron's shivering form hiding beneath her covers.

Kim was trying her best to hide her annoyance with her best friend, but it was getting hard to do. He had sounded excited when she had invited him to sleepover Easter Sunday and watch The Ten Commandments with her. She had been surprised to learn he had never seen it and thought he would really enjoy watching a movie based on the same things he had spoken so eloquently about in Hebrew just a few nights earlier.

Anne Possible had brought up the portable television/vcr combo and what had come to be known as "Ron's" sleeping bag to Kim's loft, so the two friends could watch the movie there. Considering the length of the film, Anne was fairly certain they would be asleep long before Charlton Heston reached Mt. Zion. And to be honest, Kimmie and Ron were getting a bit heavy to carry all the way from the den up to her loft.

Kim had intended this as a special return favor for Ron's inviting her to his Seder, but, now, he was acting like it was some kind of torture.

However, now as she watched his hand feebly inch out from beneath her comforter to snatch the sugar-covered marshmallow chick from her hand, it began to dawn on her that he had been merely excited at the idea of sleeping over, and had no idea what he was getting into with the movie itself. She sighed inwardly and shook her head. What's wrong with you, Possible? You can't expect him to like it if he doesn't. This is supposed to be for him, not you, anyway. The steady supply of Easter goodies she was sending his way aside, she was being a lousy host. She bounced off the bed, turned off the small television, climbed back onto her bed,and gave the shivering lump in the middle of the bed a playful pat.

"You can come out, Ron, it's off."

Ron shot his head out with a dismayed look on his face. "But, KP, I thought you wanted to watch it."

"I only did because I thought you would want to see it," she said. "If it is bothering you, then I don't want to watch it either."

"Really, KP?" Ron didn't seem convinced. "If you really want to see it, I can try to be braver. I mean after all you've done for me this week ..."

Kim shook her head to his objection. This was way different. She had enjoyed the Seder meal and liked going to Temple for the first time with her friend. As she had predicted, Rabbi Katz had been more than understanding and put Ron's fears and embarrassment to rest. Rabbi Kats had remembered the incident well and was sorry it had caused Ron such anguish. He even apologized for scaring Ron so badly. He also corrected Ron that it hadn't been on a Seder night, but a stormy night a few days later in the holy week when the rabbi had made his surprising visit. Ron seemed very relieved after speaking to him and gave Kim a slight hug after they left his office. Ron had been right, Kim reflected, the rabbi had been an exceptionally nice man.

The Temple had also impressed her. Although there was little she understood because most of the service was in Hebrew, she realized her fondness for the sounds of the language had not abated. Plus, she had to admit, she liked seeing Ron dressed up again and wearing his kippah.

The movie had been intended as something fun for Ron, but if he wasn't enjoying it, there was no point in watching it.

"I had fun at Seder and Temple," Kim smiled, "you don't have to watch a scary movie to make it up to me."

Ron looked pleased. Very pleased. Maybe it was because he knew he didn't have to watch any more of the movie, but maybe it was also because he liked Kim telling him again that she had enjoyed the meal and going to Temple with him.

"But, Ron, why do you think it's scary? I mean this is all stuff that you spoke about at your Seder meal, why is watching it so upsetting?"

"Well, KP," Ron said, trying to collect his thoughts, "at the dinner, I feel like we're celebrating our freedom. And the movie, well, seems more about punishing the Egyptians."

"Well, they were the bad guys weren't they? They were the ones enslaving the Israelites, right?"

"Yeah," Ron agreed. "But I don't think they ALL were bad guys. I mean if I was an Egyptian, I wouldn't own slaves, but I would still wake up with a bed-ful of warty frogs and nothing but … ugh … blood to drink." He made a face.

Ron had a good point, Kim decided. Surely, not EVERY Egyptian was evil. Why should they all get punished? Yet, something told her that Ron's reaction to the movie went beyond just this point.

"What's the scariest part of the movie for you?" she asked tentatively.

"The angel of death," he said, nervously finishing off the last of the peep.

"But, Ron, we didn't even get that far," she said.

"But I know its coming," he said in a defiant voice, "I really don't like it in the Torah, either." His tone dipped and he looked a little shamefaced at her, "Sorry, KP, didn't mean to yell."

Kim wasn't upset that Ron had raised his voice so much as she was intrigued by his anger. Ron rarely got angry over anything. Part of his charm was how laid back and easy-going he was.

As a gesture that she wasn't upset, she handed him another peep. But she still wanted to know why this angered him so much. "But why is it so scary for you, Ron?"

"The angel of death kills kids, Kim," Ron said matter-of-factly, "what isn't scary about that?"

"True," she nodded, "but the Israelites' children didn't have anything to worry about."

"Kim, that isn't true." Ron said, the edge coming back into voice. "Only kids whose parents put the sign on the door would be safe. What if some kid's parents had been too busy getting ready to leave Egypt or just forgot. That isn't right!"

Kim had to admit that Ron was making a good point. She hadn't thought about that. Was it really the kids' fault if the parents had forgotten to do what they were told? She had never considered these things before. Then something else occurred to her.

"Ron, do you worry that if you had lived back then that your parents might have forgotten to put the sign over their door."

He nodded. "Sometimes, yeah."

"Well," she brightened, "if I had lived back then I would have made sure they wouldn't forget. In fact, I would put the sign on the door myself if I had to."

Kim had hoped this would have put Ron's mind to rest. Instead, it seemed to make him ever sadder. Even though he wasn't crying, Kim couldn't remember the last time he had looked so lost. "What is it Ron?"

"But, Kim," he said slowly, "don't you see, if you lived back then, you would have been an Egyptian?"

Ron statement shocked her. Yet, she had to admit, he was right. She wasn't Jewish. If they both had lived in ancient Egypt, she would probably have been an Egyptian.

As she was getting over the initial shock of his statement, she suddenly recognized the true source of Ron's anger and fear. He was upset because of how the movie and the angel of death related to her. That was why he was so sure that not ALL Egyptians were bad and why he was so concerned about them and their children's safety.

"So you are worried about me?" She asked slowly.

He nodded. "You are my very best friend, Kim, and your parents are such nice people. I know the Torah doesn't say it and Rabbi Katz doesn't say it, but this movie seems to say that if you're not an Israelite, you're evil. And that is not right. And it's not fair." He angrily put another peep in his mouth.

Before she could say something to comfort him, Ron exploded with a sudden ACHEW! The half-eaten peep went sailing across Kim's room and landed with a loud "splotch" against the television screen and stuck. They both sat in stunned silence for a few seconds and then both launched into relieved, raucous laughter for a long while. Finally, Kim, still gasping for breath, got off the bed, pulled the marshmallow off her television screen, marched back to the bed, and stuffed it into Ron's waiting mouth.

She then placed her arm around his shoulder as he happily munched, "I know what we'd do," she smiled. She explained that since they were best friends, he would most definitely come to her to warn her about the angel of death and what to do to trick it. Then she would tell all the nice Egyptian families she knew and spread the word to try and rescue as many kids as possible. Even if their parents wouldn't listen she'd make sure that they all had the sign painted on their doors even if she had to do it herself. And, without question, she would make sure her best friend's door would be done too.

"But, KP," Ron objected, "what about you? I couldn't let you do that! I couldn't let the angel of death get you! What if he caught you while you were out saving other kids?"

"But he wouldn't get me," she smiled reassuringly, "I'm a girl, remember? The angel of death doesn't care about girls."

Ron face slowly broke into a broad, gap-toothed grin. "Hey, that's right! You could save us all," he said happily. He reached over and hugged her tightly, "I'm so glad you're my best friend, Kim."

"Me too, Ron," she hugged him back. "So," she said once the embrace ended, "what would you like to watch instead?"

"Jesus of Nazareth."

Kim was floored by this request. She had fully expected Ron to ask for one of his time-proved Easter favorites: Peter Cottontail or The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town. However, one look in his eyes told her the reason. The warm glow she found there was reminiscent of the light she had seen when Ron was trying his best to explain all his traditions prior to the Seder meal on Thursday. He was trying to learn all her traditions too.

"Okay, Ron," Kim smiled back at him. "But it is a loooong movie. We may not last until the end."

About forty-five minutes later, Anne Possible came into her daughter's loft to turn off the television. She was somewhat bemused by their viewing choice; she had thought Kimmie said Ron was coming over to watch The Ten Commandments. However, her feelings about the movie were overshadowed by the emotions caused by the sight of the two best friends sleeping on Kimmie's bed. Snuggled together under her comforter, Ron and Kim were both snoring loudly, their heads thrown back in opened-mouthed (and gap-toothed) zonked-out poses. Kim's right arm was wrapped around Ron's shoulder and his left hand was lying absently in her depleted Easter basket.