Disclaimer: I don't own Ben 10.

Stay With Me.

It all happened so fast. When the Machillians invaded earth it was so different from when the Incursians attacked. Instead of an organized fleet attacking specific locations, their armada appeared all over the planet. Their leader, emperor Hozan declared the war between Earth and the Machillians. That's when the attacks began.

Millions of Machillian soldiers attacked earth, attacking everyone and everything.

The people of earth expected this to be similar to when the Incursians invaded earth.

It wasn't.

The Incursians wanted to make earth part of their powerful empire, scare the people of earth enough so they would blindly follow the rules of the Incursian Empire.

The Machillians however, were a whole different type or alien race. They didn't care about other planets joining their empire. No, Machillians are very prideful aliens. This wasn't about getting earth to join their empire. This was a display of power.

They wanted to show how powerful they are to the rest of the universe, they had done so before by destroying other civilizations, creating their legend and planting fear in the hearts of many.

This was all about showing how powerful their kind is.

And what's a better way to display power then to destroy the home world of universe's hero, the Ben Tennyson?

Naturally Ben and the plumbers jumped into action, but what started out as a mission to get the enemy to leave turned into an evacuation mission when the plumbers were overcome by the sheer number of Machillian soldiers and they had to bring as many civilians to safety as they could.

On the third day of the Machillian war the Machillians targets all plumber bases on earth, only a few plumber escaped from each base, the others were captured and forced to build Emperor Hogan's gladiator arena.

Right in the center of Bellwood.

The civilians that escaped the Machillians went into hiding or joined the resistance lead by Max Tennyson. Both hid in the old mining tunnels underneath Undertown.

-Ben-10-

For the first time in more than 14 weeks, since the war began, television screens went back on. Not just television screens. Also telephone screens, computer screens, screens on buildings, ever screen imaginable went back on to display Emperor Hozan's face.

The Machillian ruler had a wide, smug grin on his face that showed of his sharp teeth well, and stretched his pale, scale covered cheeks. "Greetings, people of Earth." Hozan began. "It has now been a 100 days since my powerful Machillians have taken over your measly little planet. And my soldiers are complaining. They are bored of this planet, and I agree with them," The Machillian leader paused for dramatic effect. "So I have decided that this war can end…. Of course there is a condition."

-Ben-10-

Of course, everyone in the tunnels in Undertown was watching the live broadcast, the moment the dictator's face appeared on every screen, every single person in the tunnels, human or alien, had gone silent.

No one dared to breathe as they anxiously waited for what Hogan would say next.

In the main tent where the resistance planned their operations, Max, Ben, Gwen, Kevin and Rook stood in front of the TV screen, awaiting Emperor Hogan's next words.

"This war will be over once I have executed Earth's hero." Hogan leaned closer to the camera and smirked. "The savior of the universe, Ben Tennyson."

That demand started quite an up roar.

Thankfully Max had quick reflexes, or else he wouldn't have been able to stop a metal, pointy fist from punching the TV. "No, Kevin! We need that screen." Though the man couldn't help but agree with Kevin's sentiment. "That guy is twisted demand isn't worth any of our time or attention."

Kevin grunted and glared at Max. "That smug bastard! He thinks he can just make a demand something like-like that?!"

"Hogan's a crazy dictator, of course he'd demand something… like that." Gwen muttered, her arms crossed, her fists clenched tightly in anger.

"Surely he must know that his ridiculous demand will go ignored." Rook stated, louder than necessary and a growl hidden in his voice.

The only one, who was actually still watching Hogan's life broadcast, was Ben himself.

"All the destruction, slave labor, executions and shootings, all of it will end with one public execution."

Ben grimaced when Hogan leaned forward one more time, as if looking deeply into the audience, before ending the broadcast. "He sure knows how to make a guy feel wanted."

"Ben if you say anything other than, Hogan's an asshole and crazy for demanding such a thing, I will punch you." Kevin threatened, holding up his fist to show that he wasn't joking. This was no joking matter.

When Ben remained quiet Rook whirled around to look at his boyfriend. Ben immediately averted his gaze.

"Ben?" Rook asked, his voice soft. "How can you even be consid-"

"You're not allowed to even think about it." Max interrupted Rook, his tone leaving no room for arguments.

That tone was so unusual for Max, that Ben actually looked up to meet his grandfather's gaze. "Grandpa?"

"This isn't just an execution Ben. You've seen that arena." Max's expression was grim. "The Machillians want to show their superiority, their power. Hogan will drag out that execution, Ben." Torture you for everyone to see. He walked over and knelt down in front of Ben, putting a hand on Ben's shoulder. "We can't be sure if Hogan will keep his word, so really there is no reason to even consider-"

"I'm not considering anything." Ben cut Max of, rolling his eyes, perhaps a little too dramatically. "Can't a guy be quiet after hearing someone wants to execute him on life TV?"

Max chuckled and petted Ben's shoulder again. "Just making sure, kiddo."

"Yeah." Ben looked down when he felt someone gently squeeze his hand. He hadn't even noticed it when Rook took ahold of his hand. "Don't worry so much, Fuzzball." Ben smiled at his boyfriend. "I'm fine."

-Ben-10-

That had been two weeks ago. Emperor Hogan's demand hadn't been met, so the war was still going on, just as horrible as when it just began. Machillian soldiers went around terrorizing the streets, capturing and enslaving many humans and beating aliens.

There had been 7 incidents when the fugitives and rescued humans in the tunnels started riots, demanding Ben Tennyson would surrender himself and put an end to this madness, but the majority of the riots had been easy to stop.

Meanwhile the resistance, (which existed of mostly plumbers, Ben, Gwen, Kevin and Rook) continued on bravely. Planning several attacks on the Machillian base, none really succeeding, but they did manage to free many slaves.

It seemed like they were fighting a losing battle though.

All their missions ended with many injured plumbers, and more and more humans got captured by the scaly white aliens.

And everyone heard the screams coming from the Arena…

-Ben-10-

Rook groaned and sank down on his and Ben's shared bed in their tent, he closed his eyes when Ben sat down beside him and began running his fingers through the fur on Rook shoulders and worked up to stroking Rook's neck.

Despite how tired he was, Ben's touch was gentle enough to get Rook to start purring. Gradually Ben got his boyfriend to ease down on the mattress.

Ben smiled tiredly. "Better?"

Rook made a sound that sounded very much like a snort.

"Yeah," Ben sighed and laid down besides his boyfriend. "Me neither." The teen whispered and rested his head on his boyfriend's chest.

Rook wrapped his arm around Ben. "It will be alright, my Smarahd. One day…"

"Yeah…" Ben was tempted to close his eyes and fall asleep like that, but that wasn't how he wanted to spend the night. He pushed himself a bit higher on the mattress and started planting kisses on Rook's neck.

Rook groaned, "Not now…"

"But Blonko….!" Ben knew how much his boyfriend enjoyed it when he used his chosen name.

At that Rook opened his eyes, and finally looked at Ben, he put his hand on Ben's side and pushed him so that he was on top. "How are you not exhausted?"

Ben grinned, sitting on Rook's stomach. "I love you, Fuzzball."

Rook smiled and cupped Ben's cheek. "I love you too, my Smarahd."

The couple made love, exhaustion forgotten as they let go of stress and lost themselves in each other. Afterwards they fell asleep in each other's arms.

At least…

That is what Rook believed.

Ben watched Rook who looked so happy, deep asleep. Smiling sadly, Ben gently ran his fingers over the markings on Rook's face. "I love you, Rook Blonko. I love you so much…" And that was why he had to do this.

Taking a deep breath, which almost psychically hurt, Ben got out of the bed and grabbed his clothes. He quickly got dressed and reached under the bed and grabbed the pair of handcuffs he had hidden underneath it.

For a moment he stared at the handcuffs. The seventeen-year-old boy let out a shuddering breath, and clutched the pair of handcuffs to his chest.

I'm so sorry.

It took Ben a few seconds to collect himself. First he'd handcuff Rook, then write that letter and then he'd… do that thing with the Omnitrix.

-Ben-10-

After leaving that letter in Gwen and Kevin's tent where he knew his cousin would find it, Ben left for the Machillian arena, he knew he had to get there before sunrise, but yet he couldn't make himself move faster.

Even if he wanted to.

All too soon Ben found himself reaching the arena. In less than seconds he was surrounded by Machillian solders, some cracking their knuckles as if daring Ben to attack them, and others aiming their large guns at him.

Emerald eyes narrowing in determination, Ben met the eyes of the soldier in front of him as he slowly raised his hands in surrender. "My name is Benjamin Kirby Tennyson," He looked at all the soldiers before continuing. "And I surrender myself to the Machillian Empire."

-Ben-10--

Gwen sighed when she found herself starting to wake up, she didn't want to return to the horrors of life just yet. As she turned around the anodite's hand landed on something unexpected.

Opening her eyes Gwen sat up and looked at what she'd touched.

An envelope.

She reached for her glasses and opened the yellow envelope, somehow Gwen knew she wasn't going to like what would happen next.

Gwen instantly recognized her cousin's handwriting, and her heart sank. She shook her head, denying the words as she read them. Once she finished reading, the letter fell from her hands which trembled lightly.

She was still trying to convince herself that she'd still been dreaming when she read that letter, when the computer screen suddenly turned itself on.

A choked sob escaped the anodite at the sight that greeted her. Gwen covered her mouth with her hands as if that was enough for her to regain control. "You idiot…"

Somehow those two whispered words were enough to stir her boyfriend into wakefulness.

"Agh… morning G." Kevin yawned, and turned around to look at his girlfriend. His expression fell when he saw how pale she was. "Gwen?" He followed her gaze to her laptop. He felt the blood drain from his face when he saw what was happening, he could hear people outside their tent murmuring loudly in panic and fear now too. "No… He didn't..." He looked at Gwen, hopping she'd deny what he was seeing. "Tell me the idiot didn't."

"He says he has a plan." Gwen whispered past the lump in her throat.

-Ben-10-

Ben's hands were tied behind the wooden pole, the ropes painfully tight and cut into his skin, but Ben knew that soon, that would be the least of his problems. The Machillian who tied Ben to the pole had made a comment when he noticed Ben wasn't wearing the omnitrix.

Ben had looked up and had defiantly met Hogan's eyes, glaring at the emperor who only stood a few feet away, waiting for the soldier to finish tying Ben up. "You asked for me Hogan, you never said a word about the Omnitrix." Ben was proud that he managed to sound so confident. He couldn't deny the way his heart sank when the soldier finished securing the ropes, trapping Ben to that wooden pole that went to a little above his waist.

"True." Hogan smirked, slowly walking towards Ben. "It would have made a great trophy though."

Ben swallowed. "You crazies and your trophies…"

Emperor Hogan grabbed a dagger from his belt, and began toying with it… not in the traditional way of course. The Machillian slowly ran the flat side of the blade over Ben's arms, and then agonizingly slowly ran it down Ben's neck.

He continued to torment the teen like this for a minute or two before Hogan suddenly moved very fast and started cutting through Ben's shirt, cutting Ben in the process.

In no time Ben's black and green shirt was shredded into the pieces that had all fallen down on the send, Ben's torso was now covered in dozens of thin, shallow cuts.

"Ready for the spectacle Tennyson?"

"Ready to show the world what a twisted freak you are?"

That comment earned him a punch in the face, by a large, cold, scaly fist.

There was a crunch like sound, and Ben felt warm liquid leak out of his nose. His vision faded for a moment, but Ben soon found himself glaring at the cruel dictator again. "Sorry dude, but a duck can punch harder than you."

This time his words resulted in a fist in his stomach.

-Ben-10-

Morning came far too soon for Rook Blonko. The Revonnagander smiled sleepily, recalling his night with his Smarahd. He turned over and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend and-

As it turned out, he was unable to do either of those things. Rook's eyes snapped open when he realized he couldn't move his arms. His eyes widened when he realized he was handcuffed to the headboard of the bed and that Ben…

Just wasn't there.

"Ben?" Rook called out. "Ben this is not the time for this! Release me this instant!"

He expected his boyfriend to come walking in then, an amused or lustful look on his face.

But…

Ben didn't.

"Ben?"

That's when Rook became aware of the sounds coming from outside his and Ben's tent. Panicked murmuring, cries of fear and outrage. One sound in particular reached Rook's ears.

Screaming.

Not from the people outside, it sounded differen- like it came from laptops, television screens, smartphones- and all screens that were out there.

Rook's insides turned cold. No…. No, he wouldn't- Ben knew what the Machillian emperor would do to him! He wouldn't!

Rook twisted trying to get out of the handcuffs, trying to peek through the opening in the tent and perhaps see one of those screens. He had to know who was screaming.

Because those pain filled cries couldn't possibly come from his Smarahd.

They couldn't because Ben Tennyson wouldn't do such a foolish, reckless, idiotic thing!

HE WOULDN'T!

Rook yanked on the handcuffs.

"BEN!"

-Ben-10-

Eventually Hogan got tired of using his fists, and the beating stopped. Ben was gasping for air and cling to consciousness, grateful for this moment to catch his breath.

The moment was short lived, because Hogan had now grabbed a leather whip from his belt and was swinging it in the air proudly.

The Machillian soldiers in the crowd cheered loudly for their powerful emperor.

But when the whip came down, Ben's voice could be heard over the crowd.

-Ben-10-

Blood ran down Rook's arms, but he continued to yank at the handcuffs, he only stopped when he heard a rustling sound. He turned his head and saw Gwen enter the tent, she was pale and had tear tracks going down her cheeks. "Gwendolyn!" Rook cried, giving the handcuffs another harsh yank. "You must release me! Ben is-"

"I can't do that Rook."

Rook stilled. "What?"

Gwen looked down at the letter she still had in her hand. "Ben… He has a plan, but for it to work we have to stay away from the arena."

The sound Rook made could have been a mix between a hiss and a shriek. "No! Release me Gwen! We have to stop this."

But Gwen remained standing where she stood, tears rolling down her cheeks. She'd shown Ben's letter to Max, who, upon reading it, had sank down in his chair and looked so very old. It had pained them, but they both agreed that Ben had to follow his plan now…. It was too late for anything else.

"RELEASE ME!" Rook demanded, furiously yanking on the handcuffs. "BEN! WE NEED TO RESCUE HIM! BEN!"

"I'm sorry Rook." Gwen whispered before quickly leaving the tent, ignoring Rook's roaring, shrieking and demands for her to get back in there and release him. Outside, she looked down at the letter, still unable to let it go. "I'm sorry doofus…"

-Ben-10-

It was over.

Ben Tennyson's head hung and he had stopped screaming when the whip made contact with his bleeding back.

Grinning smugly Hogan tossed the whip aside and walked towards Ben. He lifted Ben's head by the boy's hair. "Any last words, oh savior, Ben Tennyson?"

To his shock, those emerald eyes snapped open and he kicked at Hogan, to movement wasn't strong and didn't harm the emperor at all, but that wasn't what Ben was aiming for.

There was a beep when Ben's ankle hit Hogan's leg, and Hogan staggered backwards in shock when Ben was enveloped in bright green light.

When the light faded Atomix easily broke free from the wooden pole.

"I got some last words for ya." It was obvious that Atomix could barely keep standing, but that was alright…. It would all be alright again… For Rook, Gwen and the others. Atomix focused on forming the ball of bright radioactive energy. "Hamanahamanahamana!"

-Ben-10-

Rook still hadn't stopped trying to free himself, his face was soaked with tears and sweat, he was still shouting at someone to release him when he felt a slight tremor in the earth. He stopped struggling, still panting from exhaustion and panic. Then it happened the second time, this shake much more noticeable.

That's when the people outside suddenly started cheering.

Rook shook as he twisted and turned to try and see something through the small opening in the tent, but all he saw the silhouettes of humans moving around.

It felt like eternity, but in reality it was only ten minutes, un till Kevin entered the tent, a grim expression on his face. He ignored Rook's cold glare as he walked over to the bed, and changed his hand into metal and started picking the lock on the handcuff. "We're going to get him."

The moment the handcuffs came off Rook leaped of the bed and ran out of the tent. He'd run to that arena if he had to. However when he turned in the direction of the Machillian arena Rook's jaw dropped.

The Arena was crumbling down.

"He knew that if he surrendered himself all Machillian soldiers would come and watch his execution in the arena."

Rook turned around to look at Max who had walked up behind him. "He-"Rook shook his head, feeling ill.

Max sighed. "Let's go."

-Ben-10-

No one spoke during the long walk towards the remains of the Machillian arena. The arena still stood, but pieces of it were crumbling down. It was easy to get in.

There wasn't a sign of any Machillian there.

Just ashes in the part where the crowd would have been…

There was a pile of ashes near the center of the arena too, a burned whip besides it too. And a couple of feet away lay-

"BEN!"

Rook and Max ran forward, Gwen was about to follow them but Kevin grabbed her wrist.

"Not now Kevin I got to-"Gwen stopped talking when she saw the look on her boyfriend's face. Kevin had been the only one of them able to watch that live broadcast and the look on his face alone told her exactly what she didn't want to know. "No…"

Rook and Max had run straight towards Ben.

"Oh kiddo…" Max felt his heart shatter into a million pieces that no super glue could ever put back together. Not after seeing his grandson's battered body. Ben's body was covered in bruises and blood, there wasn't a place on his back that hadn't wasn't covered in blood and sand from the whipping.

The old man had to clench his eyes shut to stop himself from crying, because he knew that if he started now he wouldn't be able to stop. After all… This was his fault. If he hadn't introduced Ben and Gwen to this kind of life all those years ago then- Then Ben would have never done this…. He wouldn't have been tortured on live TV, he wouldn't be dea- "I'm so so sorry Ben."

Rook had taken one look at his boyfriend and collapsed to his knees, his gaze never wavering on Ben's too still form. His mind numb.

Because Ben had a smile on his face….

He was covered in cuts and bruises, his eyes were closed and yet… his Smarahd- That foolish, reckless idiot had once again saved them all!

Somehow in his numb state, Rook still heard Max's whispered words. 'I'm so so sorry'

Sorry?

Why was magister Tennyson speaking as if Ben was already- They did not have time for this! They needed to get Ben back to the camp so his injuries could be treated! Because Ben wasn't dead…. He wasn't. He just had to….

"Wake up."

The demand was barely a loud whisper, Rook's voice was choked and raspy from and the screaming he had done earlier and- and he needed Ben to wake up!

"Wake up!"

"Rook-"

Rook ignored Max and desperately reached for Ben, putting the boy's head on his lap. "Ben, wake up! You have to wake up! Y-you have to wake up Ben! Please!" But the body in his arms remained unresponsive. "STOP THIS!" Rook cried shaking Ben's shoulders. "This is not the time for games Smarahd… Stop it and wake up, wake up, wake up!"

By now Kevin and Gwen joined them, Gwen had sank down beside her grandfather.

Kevin remained standing. Looking at Ben now hurt and every fiber in his being told him to go punch someone. Beat the crud out of someone, because someone had to pay for this, but… All Machillians were gone now. Ben ended the war and nearly wiped out all Machillian soldiers.

And now he was….

Kevin let out a silent choked sound before putting a hand on Rook's shoulder. "He's gone, Rook." Saying it out loud almost felt like betraying Ben. "He's dead."

"No." Rook denied it. Had to keep denying it. "No, no, no, nonono" If he denied it good enough then maybe, just maybe "He cannot be dead…" Rook whispered brokenly, clutching the broken body protectively and tears started running down his face again. "P-please Ben," He sobbed, burying his face in Ben's cold chest. "Do not be dead…"

No one called Rook out on the contraction.

"He ended the war." Kevin said, feeling as if he should remind them all of that, but somehow it felt hollow.

Gwen nodded, and looked back at her boyfriend, tearing her eyes away from the body in Rook's arms. "How?"

"The Omnitrix," Kevin answered, furiously rubbing his eyes. "He had it around his ankle the whole time… The dial was already on Atomix I guess and-"

As if aware that it was being spoken about, the Omnitrix made a series of beeping sounds.

Max reached forward, ignoring the way Rook's grip on Ben tightened protectively, and gently pushed Ben's pant leg up revealing the device tied around the teen's ankle.

The omnitrix made another beeping noise before it suddenly freed itself from around Ben's ankle, and attached itself around its new user, placing itself securely around Rook's wrist.

Rook pulled back in shock, instinctively trying to remove the Omnitrix from his wrist.

"New user identified." A robotic voice came from the green watch. "Species: Revonnahgander, Name Rook Blonko, better known as Fuzzball."

A protest was already on Rook's lips but he forgot all about that when he heard the last word the Omnitrix said.

He opened and closed his mouth trying to form words, and ended up gazing down at his dead boyfriend. "Y-You planned it all…" Rook whispered brokenly. "Last night- I-You… You bastard! Rgon!" Rook cursed furiously shaking his head before letting out another loud sob and resting his cheek against Ben's bare chest. "Please… Stay!" Rook sobbed. "I need you… Ben! Stay with me! Please!"

-Ben-10-

The war was over, earth was safe, but it had come with a price.

Plumbers reclaimed their bases, and rebuilding and healing what the Machillians had broken. However that was all put on hold a week later, for another big event that would again be broadcasted live, just not on earth but throughout the entire universe.

The funeral of Ben Tennyson.

Ben's parents had chosen to have their son buried on earth, but they knew that everyone wanted to grieve for the lost hero, so they had agreed to have it broadcasted.

Humans and aliens filled the large room in the funeral hall, all dressed in black, many of them in tears as they listened to Ben's parents talk about their son, even Azmuth held a speech about Ben's life and what Ben taught him. Max was the next to hold a speech. He talked about how Ben was when he 10, that faithful road trip and how amazing it had been to watch that boy grow into a hero."

However it was Gwen's speech that stuck with everyone.

The anodite had walked up the small stage and started pacing, suddenly unable to stand still. "Doofus!" She suddenly cried, her fists clenched at her side. "Arrogant jerk! You just had to do this didn't you?" She said, her eyes on the closed white coffin. "Always had to be the hero and try things on your own…" Gwen's shoulders slumped and she turned to face the crowd. "My cousin Ben was… A great person who wanted to do great things." She smiled sadly. "He always wanted to be a superhero, finding the omnitrix was the best thing to ever happen to him… To happen to us. But…" She looked at the coffin again. "I know he died the way he wanted too, but that's not fair." Gwen sighed and shrugged helplessly. "That's that Tennyson stubbornness for you."

She looked back into the crowd. "He wouldn't have backed down from doing the right thing, he loved doing what he did and… I think he loved doing it in his final moments too. Despite it all… But… He wanted to stay. He had to." She was crying, but then again, she hadn't really stopped crying. Gwen looked at the coffin again. "Bye doofus… We'll- I'll miss you."

Throughout the whole funeral, Rook sat in the back, ignoring everyone and everything as he glared down at the Omnitrix around his wrist.

-Ben-10-

As painful as it was, life had to go on, so Ben's loved ones tried to do just that. The planet's current state gave them something to focus on, something to do to now wallow in their misery. And over time, the sharp pain in their chests that threatened to drown them, began to dull. It would always hurt, but it also became almost bearable.

Except for Rook, who still couldn't sleep in his and Ben's bed, because the last time he slept there had been his last night with his Smarahd and he hadn't even known! And when he woke up Ben had been…

So Rook slept on a sleeping bag besides the bed, often clutching one of Ben's old shirts.

It had been six weeks and he had yet to use the Omnitrix.

-Ben-10-

Rook knew that what he was seeing couldn't be happening. There were two major things that gave this- this delusion away. For one, they hadn't began rebuilding the Mr. Smoothies stores yet, so there was no reason why he found himself sitting in his usual seat at Mr. Smoothies. And secondly, there was no possible way for the person sitting across him, to actually be there.

"Man I still can't believe I messed up the grape flavor this bad." Ben grimaced and put his smoothie cup back on the table. "Recreate the entire universe with everything in it and I mess up a smoothie flavor." Ben rolled his eyes and leant back in his chair.

Rook didn't comment, his throat had gone dry and was gazing at the teen across him. Taking in every little, wonderful detail. From his shirt and white hoodie, to that big grin and the spark in those emerald eyes.

He didn't dare move an inch, in fear of breaking the illusion.

"You know there was this new Sumo Slammer movie coming out in 3 months," Ben continued. "It's probably pushed back a year thanks to the war and all, but you should totally still go watch it. Maybe Kevin and Gwen can go with you and-"

"Ben?" Rook finally spoke up. "How are you here?"

Ben's grin fell.

"You're dreaming, Rook." Ben answered. The teen sighed, his shoulders slumping.

"Oh"

"Yeah…" Ben grabbed his smoothie and started stirring it with his straw.

"Well in that case, I wish to not wake up ever again."

"I know." Ben glared down at his smoothie. "That's the problem Fuzzball." He looked up and met Rook's eyes, a small frown on his face. "You can't go one like this, you're not living."

Rook frowned, not liking Ben's tone. This is not how he wanted to see his boyfriend after 6 weeks. "You left me." And yes, he meant for it to sound like an accusation. "You tricked me and tied me to the bed so you could do that Ben! You died!"

"I know!"

"Then why could you do such a thing?! To us? To me?!"

"Because now you're all safe!"

"We never wanted you to safe us like that!" Rook cried. "I WANT YOU ALIVE AND SAFE! BEN! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!"

Ben fell quiet, his head bowed. "I'm sorry…"

"Sorry does not change a thing." Rook whispered, his breath hitching. "It does not change the fact I will have to wake up and know that you are not there."

"But I am there."

"What?"

"You're sleeping on the fucking floor Rook!" Ben cried, pushing back his chair and getting up. "You barely eat but still help with all the heavy lifting and hard work. You're going to end up dead if you go on like this!"

Rook stared at Ben, eyes wide in shock.

"Please Rook," Ben said, more quiet now. "Don't do this to yourself."

"I miss you."

"I miss you too."

Rook sighed and held onto Ben's hand, hating that this was just a dream. "I know that this question may sound odd, Smarahd, but am I dreaming you or-"

"I'm really here Fuzzball." Ben promised. "I'm not supposed to be, but…" The seventeen-year-old shrugged. "You know me and rules."

That got Rook to smile a small smile. "Can you appear to me, like this again?" He asked, almost too afraid to hope.

"I can try to do it at least once a week, Fuzzball. For a while, at least." Ben answered and gently squeezed Rook's hand. "On one condition."

"Anything."

Ben smiled.

"Live."

-Ben-10-

That morning Rook woke up feeling strangely renewed, he sat up and looked at the bed. After a moment of consideration Rook got up, and for the first time since that day six weeks ago sat on the bed.

For a while he just sat there, alone with his thoughts.

After a few minutes Rook got up and left the tent. He looked around, his eyes landing on where Kevin and a few other strong aliens were lifting pieces of concrete of what had once been a piece of a large building.

They could use some help.

Rook brought his wrist up and looked at the omnitrix. He took a deep breath and began moving the dial.

"I love you, Smarahd."

And he hit the dial.