Disclaimer: I don't own Ben 10.
Ch5: A Promise on the Setting Sun.
And here he thought ties were hard to tie...
It had been almost two years since Ben returned from his disappearance, and today was the big day. Ben and Rook were finally getting married.
If Ben managed to wrestle himself into the traditional, dark-blue, Revonnahgander wedding garb. They had decided to go for a Revonnahgander ceremonial wedding for more than one reason. The first reason was that despite the planet's view on outsiders they were still a whole lot more accepting to same-sex-mariage than Earth, the second reason was that, they could have the wedding without the media trying to sneak in.
And finally, the third reason: Ben had wanted it for Rook so his fiancé could spend time with his family before the wedding. Plus, Ben liked being around Rook's family too... Just not around harvest time.
After at least ten minutes of struggling Ben managed to wrestle himself into the first layer of the blue and orange outfit. Smiling at the achievement Ben studied himself in the mirror of the small room he was in.
To think... How close he'd come to not marrying at all...
"Looking great, Ben."
Tensing up for only a second Ben turned around, a bright grin on his face. "Grandpa!" He cheered running over to hug his grandfather.
"Heya, kiddo." Max chuckled playfully ruffling Ben's hair and letting out a small laugh when Ben made a sound of annoyance.
When they pulled away from each other Max gripped his grandson's shoulders and looked him over. "Look at you," He whispered voice full of emotion. "Only an hour away from your wedding... I'm glad I still get to see this day..."
"Grandpa..." Ben sighed. "You're not that old." In the past he'd always add 'besides, you're as fit as a horse'. But that was no longer the truth.
In the time that he believed his grandson gone Max's health had taken a sharp turn for the worst, and the man's heart wasn't as strong as it used to be.
The second time Ben truly woke up, he found himself in Rook's arms.
Not a bad way to wake up, mind you. Rook must have fallen asleep some time after Ben did.
It wasn't Rook holding his hand this time though.
Slowly Ben turned his head to see who it was.
Max smiled softy, his old eyes sad. "Heya, kiddo." He quietly greeted. "It's been a while..."
With tired eyes Ben studied his grandpa's appearance. Max had lost a lot of weight and there were bags under his eyes. He had more wrinkles than Ben remembered him having.
"Yo-ou- loohk awveful." Ben said, already forgetting that he could speak freely again.
Max chuckled reaching for Ben and ruffling his hair. "That's my line."
Closing his eyes Ben leant into the touch.
Both knew the other wasn't okay, but they were just glad to be in each other's company.
Ben grinned. "I can hardly believe it myself, grandpa. In just an hour I'll be-"
He would have said more had Rook Shar not chosen that moment to walk in. "Ben-"
"Knocking? Why didn't you-" he sighed. "Nevermind." Ben said squeezing the space between his eyes in exasperation aware that he overreacted, but he was allowed to be stressed on his wedding day, right? "What's up, Shar?"
"Do I need an excuse to visit my future bruha?" Rook Shar asked grinning while playfully tilting her head to the side.
That got Ben to smile, it was hard not be annoyed when everyone in the family, even Rook Da, was so welcoming. "Sorry for snapping at you, sister." he apologized with a slight bow. He had adapted a lot to Revonnah customs when he and Rook arrived at Revonnah about a month ago.
As if, he was worried that Rook might change his mind if he messed up on Revonnah like he'd done when he was here the first time.
"It is alright, Ben no need to be so formal." Rook Shar smiled, like Rook she had also drifted a bit from some of the overly strict Revonnahgander customs since joining the Plumber Academy, she'd be graduating in a month.
She turned to Max. "Magister Tennyson, I was told to inform you that your son, Carl," Rook Shar had to stop herself from laughing. "requires your help tying his tie."
"Of course he does." Max rolled his eyes. "No matter how old he gets Carl never remembers how to tie a tie." He muttered walking out of the room.
Ben and Rook Shar watched him, both of them grinning.
Rook Bralla walked past them carrying a tray of appetizers. She stopped at the door. "Ben, you look wonderful." She praised smiling in approval. "I was just on my way to you. Your best man and his wife have arrived. Shall I send him in?"
"Sure," Ben shrugged. "send Kevin in."
"Blonko, you have been doing these exercises for four hours now." Rook Da said watching his son, dressed in his work out clothes, on the floor. Rook was doing exercises of an earth sport form called 'Tai Chi.' "It is time for you to stop and start preparing for the ceremony."
"In a moment, father." Rook grunted working through another move. "I need these exercises to help myself relax before the wedding."
"I see..." Rook Da replied rubbing his chin. "Tell me, how long does it usually take for these exercises to calm your mind?"
"Fifteen to twenty minutes." Rook admitted halting his excercise. "I do not know why it seems to be failing me today, father. Perhaps I sho-"
"Perhaps you should allow yourself to be nervous on today of all days." If one didn't know better they would say that Rook Da was annoyed, but the ones who knew him closely could tell that the old Revonnahgander was actually amused. "And then I recommend you go freshen up before changing your clothes."
He put a hand on Rook's shoulder and squeezed. "I may not have always supported your decision of mating with an outsider, but know that after witnessing your and Ben's love..." Rook Da nodded at his son, his gaze shifting to a nearby chair and he smiled. "You two have fought long and hard for this day and you have my full blessing."
Rook followed his father's gaze to the chair where the clothing Rook would wear during the wedding rested on.
Somehow just looking at the clothes that he would be wearing when he and Ben would share their vows and make promise on the setting sun, made Rook calm down.
His father was right, he and Ben had fought... What was the Earth saying? 'Teeth and nail' for this day. Not just before and during Ben's disappearance, but afterwards aswell...
At the end of Ben's first month of hospitalization Rook had tried giving Ben his engagement band again.
'Tried' being the key word.
Rook stared at Ben, his cat-like eyes wide. "What do you mean by no?" He knew it was not because Ben no longer loved him. That could not be it. After everything that had happened he and Ben were still very much in love, Rook felt it and could never doubt it.
It had to be something else.
"You d-d-don't want to marry me, Rook." Ben answered shaking his head in denial. The speech therapy he had to take was helping, but like the rest of him, Ben's voice still wasn't healed. In fact it was likely that there was permanent damage to his vocal chords and that there was a high possibility that Ben's voice would never return to how it had been before.
Ben's damaged voice wasn't the only permanent reminder of what happened. Ben would probably forever have a slight limp in right leg, and some of the scars on his body would never truly fade.
Sadly most of the damage were not the psychically scars.
"But I do want to marry you, Ben." Rook insisted, sitting back down on the edge of the bed. "My feelings for you have never changed. Now more than ever, I know that I want to be with you, Ben." He moved to put his hand on Ben's, but recoiled when Ben flinched away from his touch.
Another mental scar that had not left...
Ben was afraid of being touched. He wasn't afraid of being hurt, no Ben feared hurting others.
It pained Rook to see such hopelessness in his Thy-mac's eyes. "Why will you not believe me?"
"You don't know the things I did!" Ben suddenly snapped. "You don't know what I did! What kind of monster I am!"
Truthfully, Rook did not know what Ben had done, at least not to a certain extend. All Ben had told them was that Eon had somehow managed to control his body, had taken him across time and space and forced him to help expand Eon's army by attacking other versions of himself in different dimensions. Ben had let the rest be filled by imagination, but everyone had an understanding of what Ben had been forced to do.
"Thy-mac," Rook said reaching for Ben, but stopping himself from touching his beloved. Right now, despite how much Rook wanted to, touch would do more harm than good. "The things you did during your time as Eon's slave were out of your control. Please stop blaming yourself."
"B-But it was me!" Ben protested his voice sounding weaker now that he was getting emotional. "All the time it was me! I attacked I-I K-Kill-ed Rook! You don't mm-a-rry a killer! I-it's wrong! I'm wrong!" The brunette's gaze shifted downwards, finding a sudden interest in his legs. "You deserve better..." Ben mumbled to himself, almost to quiet to be heard.
But Rook did hear.
Oh how he wanted to object, he wanted to make Ben realise how right he was, how right he made Rook feel.
But his words did nothing...
And in the end Rook did not know how to help.
And he hated himself for it.
Six months later Ben was supposed to have his first public appearance since returning. Someone had leaked the news of Ben's return to the press resulting in hundreds of paparazzi stalking Ben's house and the front of Max's Plumbing.
To appease the press Ben had decided to hold a press conference so all the noisy reporters could ask their questions and then leave them all to their peace.
The day before the press conference Rook was at the Tennyson household, he and Ben were sitting on the couch, Ben using Rook's chest as a pillow. They were watching a documentary about all of Ben's heroic deeds. It might be vain to some, surprisingly it had been Rook who suggested watching it.
The Revonnahgander hoped that watching the successes from the past would give Ben another confidence boost so he would be absolutely ready for the conference tomorrow.
However halfway through the documentary Ben tensed up. "Ben?" Rook questioned tightening his grip on Ben's shoulder. "Is something wrong, Ben?"
Ben's eyes were still on the television screen, a far-away look in his emerald eyes. "It's just..." Ben sighed tearing his eyes away from the image of himself in his Echo Echo form fighting the Forever Knights. "I'm not really like that anymore, am I?"
Rook looked at tv.
True... There was a difference between the Ben from then and Ben now. The way he talked, the smirk... Ben couldn't run for long anymore without gaining a limp.
Shaking his head Rook turned his attention back to his lover. "People change Ben. You cannot expect to be the same after everything that has happened."
"That's not it, Rook." Ben replied frowning. "I meant..." he sighed, shoulders sagging under an invisible weight. "If I'm so different from how I was, why are you still here?"
"What do you mean?"
Ben gestured at the tv. "That's the me you fell in love with. And I'm not like that anymore. I'm-" He stopped talking when Rook shifted so they were both sitting up.
"Caring, brave and far too selfless at times."
"You are caring, brave and selfless." Rook repeated gently cupping Ben's cheek smiling when Ben didn't try to move away, something he still did sometimes when upset. "You are also funny, heroic and..." Rook smile turned in a bright grin. "I think you are trully adorable at times."
Ben felt his cheeks heat up as a blush crept up his face. "Rook..." He mumbled unable to stop himself from smiling.
"That is not the you I fell in love with," Rook said nodding towards the television. "that is the you who you chose to show everyone else. I got to see all sides of you. Good and bad. You are the one I fell in love with."
Rook was suddenly very much aware of the weight of the engagement band in his pocket. He always had it with him, awaiting for the right moment to return it to Ben, for when he knew his Thy-mac was ready.
Nervously he reached for the band and pulled it from his pocket.
Ben's eyes widened when he saw the piece of jewelery. "Rook-"
"You are the one that I am in love with, Ben." Rook spoke as if he hadn't heard Ben. "I want to spend the rest of my life with." Rook met Ben's eyes with his own. "Ben, please make me the luckiest man in this universe, and marry me?"
Ben looked from the engagement band to Rook. "You know you can get someone better, right?" He asked skeptically.
"I only want you."
A small smile formed on Ben's face. "Then... yes."
Rook grabbed the clothes and smiled. It was an unusual smile for the Revonnahgander. It was an excited, giddy smile that could not be wiped be off.
Today was his wedding day and nothing could possibly ruin his mood.
"Ben!" Gwen cried tackling her cousin in a hug. "It's so good to see you! Nervous?" She asked when they pulled apart.
"Only a lot." Ben answered chuckling. "I'm glad you could make it."
Kevin scoffed rolling his eyes dramatically. "What," he asked while adjusting the collar of his suit. "you thought we wouldn't?"
Smiling Gwen hugged Ben again. "Kevin upgraded his car with three different types of accelerators just to be sure we'd get here on time." She whispered to Ben before quickly pulling back again.
Ben smiled softly. "Well, sorry for doubting you." he said with a small nonchalant shrug.
Gwen and Kevin shared a knowing look both of them recalling how both them had developed a strong dislike to Ben using the word 'sorry'.
The first time Ben saw Gwen and Kevin after waking up hadn't gone so wel...
"I ahm ss-orry." Ben continued his voice getting worse and worse the more upset he got. "R-rweally I didn't mean itt, never- nnone of the thimes! I'm so sorry."
"Tennyson..." Kevin tried to interfere, his fists clenched at his sides trembling with contained rage. Rage at whoever had hurt his friend so.
Again Ben didn't hear him.
"I t-rried to fight it!" Ben said nervously fiddling with the sheets. "Ih swear! B-but I couldn't a-a-a-and- and-"
Ben stopped talking when Gwen suddenly grabbed both his wrists, he looked at her in surprise. His eyes widened when he saw tears rolling down her cheeks. "No, Gwen, don't cry-"
"We're not mad at you Ben."
If anything that seemed to upset Ben more, at the very least if confused him.
"You're... You're not?"
"No, Ben. We're happy that you're back."
The look on Ben's face made Gwen's chest ache.
"It's time Ben." Gwen said opening the door. "We'll see you in a bit." She said before she and Kevin left the room and went outside to the clearing that was decorated for the wedding ceremony that was about to be held.
Ben watched them go, he then turned back to the mirror and adjusted his ceremonial garb for a final time. In all honesty the orange and blue outfit didn't even look so bad on him.
Ten minutes later Young One was at his door, the little Revonnahgander bouncing with excitement. "Brother Ben! Come on it's time!"
As if she'd been waiting to bust her brother Rook Shar walked into the hallway. "Language." She hissed at her little brother who smiled sheepishly.
"Sorry, sis." Young One apologized before turning back to Ben, excited grin back in place. "But come on Ben. The ceremony is about to begin!"
Chuckling, Ben let Young one guide him outside the house and to the hill.
The grass hill looked amazing, flags were hung out and white and purple flowers were put everywhere. Rook Bralla had said the flowers symbolized something, but Ben hadn't really been paying attention at the time...
Mats were sat out over the hill for the guests to sit on. Ben had made a lot of friends over the years, so it had taken Ben and Rook some time in deciding who would be invited and who not. Argit in particular had been a difficult choice. They had both been worried that Argit would try to sneak the press in or do something like that, but in the end they had decided they'd rather have Argit at the wedding than deal with his complaints if they didn't invite him.
Their guests were supposed to sit on their knees on the mats, and most of them could pull it off, but Kevin and Carl were as graceful as drunk bulls and had to sit down normally.
At the top of the hill Rook was kneeling on a two-person mat, facing an elder Revonnahgander. She was the high-priestess that would be leading the ceremony.
Slowly Ben made his way up the hill and kneeled down besides Rook.
After a moment of silence the high-priestess began speaking. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honour the fact that two hearts have started beating in sync. To honour and celebrate the love between these two people."
Ben knew he was supposed to be focusing on the high-priestess and listen to what she was saying, but he desperately wanted to look at Rook. He hadn't been allowed to see Rook for two days thanks to some stupid rule about 'not being allowed to see your mate before the wedding'.
In the end he decided to glance at his side, ironically Rook did it at the same time and for a while the two lovers just stared into each other's eyes. The fact that they were moments away from being married suddenly actually dawning to them.
"You look wonderful." Rook whispered, a somewhat dazed look on his face.
Ben grinned. "Thanks, you too."
They both jumped when the high-priestess suddenly cleared her throat. "Your promises, gentlemen?"
"Oh, right." Rook rubbed the back of his neck, hearing some of the guests laugh quietly at his and Ben's distraction. Rook quickly sobered up. "Ben, my Thy-mac." He said looking at Ben. "I promise you, that for all my days I will love and treasure you. To love you as you have ever been, love who you are now and who you've yet to become."
The Revonnahgander paused to take a moment to admire his partner. To take in how those emerald eyes shined for only him, how that small watery smile was for him and how lucky he was to have Ben as his Thy-mac. "You are the light of my days and my soul's fire. You help me laugh, you teach me love."
Rook had to restrain himself from leaning forward and kissing Ben right now. Never had his beloved look as beautiful as the moment before they would officially be married. "I promise to listen to you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own. That is the promise I make on our setting sun."
Oh wow... Ben was shocked into silence by the beauty of Rook's speech. He wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Most of all Ben wanted to wrap his arms around Rook, kiss him and never let go.
There was no way he would be able to top that promise, but Ben was going to try. Kevin had helped him with his... or more like Kevin had hastily written down what Ben said while in his Rath form. Apoplexians were aggressive beings, but they were honest beings, and transforming into Rath had actually helped Ben find the right words to say.
"Rook Blonko, you are amazing in more ways then I can voice. I mean..." Ben blushed. "dude..." he looked down, a dorky smile on his face. He could do this.
"You stayed with me when I acted like an arrogant fool and you didn't leave when I pushed you away. I may sometimes still act rash and overconfident, but it's thanks to you that I feel confident." Ben said looking up again and meeting Rook's eyes with his own. Clearly his words were having an effect... "My promise to you is, to make you feel the same way you make me feel. Treasured, safe and loved. I promise to be there when you need me, to comfort you and encourage you, to help you reach your goals and to love you all my life with all my heart. And that's the promise I make on the setting sun."
When Ben finished the sky had gained an orange hue. The sun was almost setting.
Waiting till the crowd quieted themselves the high-priestess looked at Rook. "Do you, Rook Blonko, take Ben Tennyson as your faithfully beloved and vow to honour the promises you've made on the setting sun?"
Rook smiled and nodded respectfully. "I do."
The high-priestess nodded, her old eyes turned to Ben. "And do you, Ben Tennyson, take Rook Blonko as your faithfully beloved and vow to honour the promises you've made on the setting sun?"
"You bet." Ben grinned.
The high-priestess smiled in approval. "Than you may now seal your promises."
Ben and Rook didn't need to be told twice.
Both of them eagerly leant towards each other, closed their eyes and sealed their vows in a long deep kiss.
behind them, the sun set.