Yori, Hirotaka, Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Sensei, and Wade Load are characters from the Kim Possible show, created by Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley, owned and copyright © by the Walt Disney Company. The story begins shortly after “Gorilla Fist,” and continues through three years, ending at the time of my own story, “Reward,” when Kim and Ron are college sophomores. There's a brief quote from “Gorilla Fist.” This story © 2006 by cloudmonet.
By the light of a paper lantern in her room at the Yamanouchi school, Yori spoke softly to herself, shuffling ideas and words to try to capture a special moment in a haiku:
My lips on his cheek,
her eyes green as the spring leaves,
my heart uncertain.
That was not the poem she had started out to write, not at all, but the truth in it was compelling, the imagery beautiful in its simplicity. She dipped her brush in the black ink and carefully painted the seventeen characters on a sheet of rice paper.
“What is the sitch between you and Stoppable-san?” the red haired American ninja girl had asked.
“A bond of honor,” Yori had replied, and kissed Ron on the cheek.
Ron, Ron, Ron! The first time, he had wanted her to call him Ron-san— forward, impolite, bold, very American. This time, it didn’t matter to him.
There was no need to ask what the situation was between Kim and Ron. Kim had him bonded to her completely. Ron’s heart was open only to her. There was nothing Yori could do to change this, not from the far side of the world. Her one hope was that Kim, who did not fully appreciate Ron, would someday discard him for another.
“I’ve written a poem for Yumi,” Hirotaka said, finding Yori sitting in the garden.
She sighed. “All right, let me hear it.”
“Dark flash in the night,
skin soft as cherry blossoms
before a late frost.”
“Ummm,” Yori replied, frowning.
“Is it that bad, Yori?”
“If Yumi likes you, Hirotaka-san, she’ll appreciate the gesture that you wrote her a poem. If she doesn’t like you, this will do nothing to change that. Seriously, ‘dark flash in the night’? Okay, she’s a ninja student, she’s strong. It moves. But then, ‘skin soft as cherry blossoms’? She’s a girl. Have you touched her skin? Do you want to? Is that what you’re saying? And ‘cherry blossoms before a late frost’? Now you throw in mortality? You think you’re describing a strong pretty girl you want to take to bed, but to me it describes an ancient ninja murdering a beautiful lady, which is very much not what you want.”
“How can I fix it?”
“Stop using phrases borrowed from other poems and say what you want to say:
“A lone cricket chirps,
my dark eyes weep shadow tears
you will never see.”
“That’s what desire feels like,” said Yori. “There’s no way make shallow infatuation into a good poem.”
Yori and Hirotaka bowed to each other. No sooner did they begin moving when Hirotaka was flat on his back on the mat. No sooner did he get up when he found himself back there. Yori was small, a soft-skinned girl, like many girls Hiro had already kissed and touched. How was she throwing him so easily? He didn’t think he was holding anything back. When had she gotten so good? There were few in the school who could beat him, even though he practiced less diligently than some. Still, he did know a trick or two.
And it worked! Yori was down on the mat, but then she grabbed him, twisted with a force that seemed mystical, and Hirotaka was again down on his back.
“Be in the now, Hirotaka-san,” she told him.
He became aware of nothing but Yori’s movements, and the correct way to counter each one. Mantis, dragon, tiger, monkey, all came into his body in their right time, guiding his movements. But the moment any thought distracted him, Yori threw him to the mat again.
Now even his awareness of Yori’s movements was a distraction. There was something almost playful about the way she flipped him. The way she smiled at him each time he got up again.
He watched her in a match with Kazuma, a husky boy whose temper got in the way of him being really effective.
He watched her in a match with Yumi, the other girl who was really good.
He watched her in a match with Saruwatari, the boy who spent much of his spare time in meditation.
Yori threw all of them, and seldom got thrown herself.
Yori walked up the cold mountain alone, her consciousness split between the mountain path and the many thoughts in her heart. To love and let go without bitterness was both hard and easy. Hard, because there really was something special about the blond haired freckled American ninja boy. Easy, because the love he had chosen for himself was Yori’s spiritual sister. She felt strongly bonded to both of them by the new adventure they had shared, the long, honest talk with Kim in the moonlight in the rain forest in Guyana. Kim and Ron were both changing and growing. Sometimes the things they said reminded her of things Sensei and the other teachers said, though of course expressed in a very different idiom.
She came into the shrine to warm herself by the fire and found Hirotaka sitting by himself. “Listen to this,” he said.
“Where are you tonight,
when the chilly winter winds
make my breath like mist?”
“That’s good,” Yori said, smiling and clapping. “Who’s it for? Some girl you met in town? Or did you make up with Yumi?”
“No, Yori, it’s— it’s for you.”
“What do you mean? Hiro, I know how you are. You fall in lust, and then you get bored. That’s not for me.”
“No, no, I know this. Because you know me, I can’t be shallow. I must be a deep spring. I’m telling you the truth, Yori. You really have touched my heart.”
Blossoms covered the cherry trees with pale pink. Yori and Hirotaka walked down the mountain, side by side wherever the path was wide enough. They both were wearing jeans and T-shirts.
Hirotaka kick-started the engine of his big yellow motorcycle, parked where the road began. Yori sat behind him, gripping the side of his slender hips when the bike roared down the mountain, wondering how many of his other girls had worn the helmet she was wearing now.
The ride was smooth, but the seat vibrated with the pulse of the motor, a purely physical sensation that moved Yori’s thoughts to the boy, the man, she was almost embracing. What would it be like to press her lips on his and twirl her tongue into his mouth? It would be worthwhile, if only Hirotaka’s heart was steady.
He was potentially a good man for her, Yori believed, but she had to win his loyalty. The best way to do this was make him work so hard and so long to win her heart that she would be really valuable to him. No easy kisses. Focus on the friendship, with the suggestion of more, someday.
He drove the winding road on the edge of the sea to a beautiful shrine. Sometimes she let him hold her hand while they walked through the grove of pine trees, but nothing more.
Yori was first in her class when she graduated, having earned six black belts. Hirotaka was fourth.
He got an apartment in Osaka and a job at a motorcycle repair shop. Yori got an apartment in Wakayama, a smaller city not too far away, and a job as a receptionist at a medical office. She used her first paycheck to buy an old computer and internet service with web hosting. Her URL was www.yorininja.com.
I am not a soldier of fortune, but a ninja warrior who will fight for all that is good in the world. I am loyal, honest, and discreet. Danger and distance not a problem. My fees are reasonable and negotiable.
Hirotaka woke up to bright moonlight coming through the window of his apartment, with a pretty blonde American girl snuggled in his strong arms. He was still a bit woozy headed from the rice wine. He wasn’t sure whether her name was Sharon or Susan, a potentially serious lapse of memory, considering she’d been living with him for at least a couple of weeks. She was sweet to him too, with the spice of American-style unpredictability that kept him interested in her, even when other pretty girls turned their heads his way.
Why, then, did he dream of Yori in his arms?
“Hirotaka-san!” came a whisper from the shadows. Yori, wearing her black ninja clothes, reached over the sleeping blonde to push none too gently on his shoulder.
Hirotaka gasped. “Yori! What are you doing here?”
She looked at him with scorn. “You should have jumped into fighting pose as soon as I entered the room, especially with her to protect. What if I’d been an enemy?”
“Who the hell are you?” asked the blonde woman, sitting up and holding the sheet over her chest.
“Will you do the honor of introducing me to your companion, Hirotaka-san?” Yori asked, politely bowing her head and pressing her hands together.
“Sharon, meet Yori,” he said.
“Susan,” the woman corrected him.
“Of course,” he said. “Pardon me, sweetness, the wine has clouded my mind.”
“Hiro, I got a big job,” Yori said firmly. “I need your help. Get dressed, and get your head in the game.” She turned her back and tapped her foot.
“You didn’t tell me about Yori,” Susan complained.
“I don’t talk about her when she’s not around.”
Yori turned back toward the bed. Hirotaka had his pants fastened and was pulling on a black T-shirt. The blonde girl had pulled on a robe. “Don’t worry, Susan, I’m not his lover, never was, never will be,” Yori told her.
“Sorry, I can’t explain this any better,” Hirotaka said. “Something evil and dangerous is happening somewhere.”
“You’re a ninja! Why didn’t you tell me? It’s secret, right?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll bring him back to you,” said Yori.
Ron and Kim were engaged! Yori felt both elated and jealous, not wishing she could have Ron herself— no, she’d moved beyond that a long time ago— just wishing she could also have that kind of happiness. They were not only engaged, but had become lovers. Kim told Yori this in a private moment, in a marketplace in Sri Lanka.
“Don’t tell Hirotaka, please,” Yori said. “He’s always trying to put the make on me.”
“And you don’t want him?”
Yori recited one of her recent poems, and told Kim the story behind it.
“If you dream of me,
why do you touch that woman’s
cherry blossom skin?”
Kim’s response? “I think he really likes you. Think about it. He’s in her arms, getting what a man wants, and then he falls asleep and dreams about you?”
“Maybe, if he really did dream this. Men like that lie about everything.”
“Yeah, but I’ve been watching the way he looks at you. I think he really likes you.”
“What’s wrong with being an old fashioned country girl?” Yori asked Hirotaka. They were bedded down in separate sleeping bags, on the jungle floor somewhere in Cambodia, on a mission to find the hidden lair of a dangerous man with dark purposes. “What’s so much better about your sophistication? Touching skin should make you happy, but it doesn’t. You can have the love and benefits of many girls, but none of them satisfy you. All of them together don’t satisfy you. If I did this, would it be any different?”
“Yes, Yori, you’re the one I really want.”
“And maybe you’re the one I really want, but I don’t think I can have you.”
“Yori, I’m right here.”
“Are you my husband? Are you certain you want to spend the rest of your life listening to me tell you what to do? Are you certain you’ll never crave the touch of another woman? Maybe if I find you alone in your bed, all the time, I’ll start believing you really love me.
“You bought me a box
of Valentine chocolates
but gave them to her.”
“Do you want me to give you chocolates?”
“It’s a metaphor, Hirotaka-san. Think about it.”
Yori sat half lotus on the mat on the floor of her apartment, breathing the sweet smell of incense, gentle music of a shakuhachi flute playing in the background, brush, ink, and paper ready for her thoughts.
Starry summer night,
I wonder what you’re doing,
whether you’re alone.
No, that was just imagination and jealousy, not the best summation of what she was feeling.
Starry summer night,
against my will, I find I’m
yearning for your touch.
Again, containing an element of truth, but acting on a feeling like this would not lead to anything good.
Starry summer night,
I miss your companionship,
your voice and laughter.
That was it! Yori picked up the telephone and called Hirotaka to read him her poem.
“If that’s how you feel, would you like to come over?” he replied. “We could go to the all night restaurant and walk by the harbor.”
“That would be fun,” Yori said.
She was known as the Black Shadow, the Ghost of Asia. She was the doubt in every evil mind, the problem with every scheme. She had close friends among the American generals in Afghanistan, the bureaucrats of China, the secret rebels of North Korea.
Her parents had named her Akimoto Yori, in the Japanese style of family name first, but she was no longer Akimoto. All students of Yamanouchi give up their family names, and most change their given names as well. But Yori, which means steadfast and reliable, was an excellent name for a ninja, so she remained Yori.
At first no one knew this name. Then the name became very well known, at least among the people in the shadows of power. Now the name was seldom spoken. An allusion was enough to make it clear who was being discussed.
Yori had long since given up her day job, as had her partner, Hirotaka. They now had apartments near each other in Osaka.
He spoke of love. She was coy. As far as she could tell, he was seeing no other women. She did spy on him from time to time, or drop in unexpectedly. Once she glimpsed him doing something a man will do when he has no woman, or his woman is far away or unwilling, and wondered if she was the one he was thinking about.
The leaves turn crimson,
swirling in the wind like flames,
trembling like my heart.
“Later on, I will see you again,” Yori said, kissing Hirotaka on the cheek at a Queensland cattle station, and mouthed but gave no voice or whisper to the words, “my love,” before risking her life, hiding on a Global Justice plane stolen by bearded men in black turbans whose love for their god had somehow destroyed their respect for life.
In deep meditation, Hirotaka’s mind touched hers across the vast distance between the smell of dry gum trees in the summer heat and the windswept snow of barren mountains. But it was the signal from the communicator given to Yori by Wade that enabled her friends to locate the hidden plane.
While Hirotaka was grief-stricken and fearful, he made this haiku:
I weep for my love
stranded in hidden mountains
cold with plans of death.
After the end of this adventure, relaxing on a rented boat in the tropical sea, Hirotaka recited this poem to her. Now, finally, it was time. Yori melted into his arms and filled his mouth with her twirling tongue.
“Better not mess with any other girls,” she said, smiling at him and playing with his wild hair.
“Wouldn’t think of it.”
“Better save up money to buy me a ring— size 8, okay?”
“Do you want me to be your love but not your bride?”
“No, no, of course not.”
She kissed him again, thinking, Ah, I’ve got you now.
Yori and Hirotaka got married in Reno, Nevada, a few weeks later. It was Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers, but this was fortuitous. It happened to be the day after they both received a most generous reward for their work. Reno was a good place to get married quickly and quietly, as befitted two ninjas with many dangerous opponents.
“Yori, you’re beautiful,” said Kim.
Ron pressed his hands together and bowed to Yori and Hirotaka as the four of them met in the glittering hotel lobby.
Yori wore a blue silk dress with embroidered flowers. “It is fitting for a bride to be as beautiful as she can manage,” she replied, with a smile and a blush.
“I think you can manage quite beautiful indeed,” said Hirotaka.
“Let’s do this,” said Yori, taking his hand and leading him over to a small alcove. On the counter was a push-button bell next to a sign saying Ring bell for marriage. Hirotaka smiled and pressed the bell.
A smiling gray-haired woman in a dark gray robe came to the counter. Her notebook was filled with many kinds of wedding ceremonies. Yori chose a feminist modification of a Zen Buddhist rite. The woman read statements about the nature of marriage, its relationship to worldly things and the progression toward enlightenment, before asking the questions.
“Will you, Hirotaka, love Yori, and no other, as long as you both shall live?”
Hirotaka held her hands, looked into her eyes, and said, “I will.”
“And Yori, will you love Hirotaka, and no other, as long as you both shall live?”
Yori smiled and said, “I will.”
They slipped wedding rings on each other’s fingers.
“I now pronounce you wife and husband,” the woman said. “You may now kiss each other.”
Yori and Hirotaka were already kissing.
In our wedding bed,
the warmth of spring in your hands
melts my frozen tears.