Summary: "Everyone I know goes away in the end" 11-year-old Ben Tennyson is suffering from PTSD and nightmares. Platonic Ben/Gwen. Post Original Series.

- This story is set in a post-Original Series AU. The only difference from OS is that Goodbye and Good Riddance didn't happen, so Ben's identity is still a secret to everyone in this story.

- The lines in italic are from the song "Hurt" by Johnny Cash. If you like the song, you should listen to it while reading this fic.

"Next sound you hear will be your cousin's screams as she takes a big dive!" Ghostfreak said, as he got dangerously close to the edge of the roof. Ghostfreak had possessed Gwen's body and he was going to kill her.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH," Ben screamed, and looked around, scared. It was late at night, and he was still in his bedroom.

He was having a nightmare. But not just any nightmare, a memory from the summer trip.

"Ben, is everything ok?" his parents Carl and Sandra rushed into the bedroom and turned on the lights. Sandra sat on the bed, next to the 11-year-old boy, while Carl stood close to the bed.

"It was just a nightmare, I'm fine." Ben tried to smile. But he was sweating and very nervous, he wasn't fooling anyone.

"Sweetie… It's the fifth time this month," Sandra looked at him with a concerned expression on her face, "You have to talk to us about it."

"I can't, mom," he looked at the Omnitrix attached to his wrist. He couldn't talk to his parents about those things without revealing that he was a hero, and he wouldn't do that.

"No, dear. You have to, we just can't keep ignoring this," Sandra said, holding Ben's hand.

"Ok, let's make a deal. I will talk to Grandpa Max about everything as soon as he gets back to Bellwood. He will help me," Ben spoke.

A spark of disappointment flashed through his parents' face, and Sandra said, "You know, Ben, your father and I… we tried our best to build a good relationship with you… Why don't you trust us like you trust Grandpa Max?"

Ben knew he hurt his parent's feelings. But sadly there was nothing he could do about it. After that summer trip, Ben, Gwen and Max became a family inside a family, and most of the time his cousin and grandfather were closer to him than his own parents.

"I'm sorry, Mom, Dad. I trust you both, I really do. But there are things that I feel more comfortable talking with Grandpa Max about," he gently squeezed his mother's hand and smiled at his dad.

"Since you won't talk to us, you're going to see a psychologist, Ben. Your mother and I already talked about this."

"But, Dad, there is no need for that!" Ben tried to protest, "Grandpa Max can help-"

"Where is Grandpa Max now, huh?" Carl asked, with his arms folded.

Probably taking care of Plumber-related business, Ben thought.

"I don't know, but he will be back soon and-"

"We won't wait, Ben. One thing that you have to know about Grandpa Max, is that he is never there when you actually need him," Carl said.

Ben's father, Carl, and Gwen's father, Frank, resented Grandpa Max because he had spent most of their childhood away on Plumber's missions and he had never told them the truth about it. Ben always wondered if Grandpa made the right choice about that.

"Try to go back to sleep, dear, we will talk more tomorrow," Sandra spoke, smiling at him.

Next day. At school.

During class, Ben glanced at Gwen a few times when she wasn't looking.

As if making sure that Gwen was there, she was ok, and she wasn't dead.

Because in his nightmares, she was always in danger.

He had dreamt about Ghostfreak trying to jump Gwen off the roof.

He had dreamt about the wildvines taking Gwen away when they were in space.

He had dreamt about Zombozo draining Gwen's vital energy.

He had dreamt about Kevin almost burning Gwen alive.

He had dreamt about Vilgax and Kevin threatening to kill Gwen if Ben didn't give the Omnitrix to them.

And the worst part, those things weren't just nightmares, they were real memories.

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

"Mr Tennyson!" The teacher reprimanded Ben, "Would you mind paying attention?"

"Sorry, teacher."

After the classes, Gwen talked to him in the corridor.

"Ben, are you ok? During our classes today, you kept glancing at me when you thought I wasn't looking... "

Ben widened his eyes in surprise. Crap, she had caught him.

"No, I wasn't, doofus, your cooties are starting to affect your brain," he answered in a rude tone.

Gwen sighed, "You're a jerk, but we're still family. You have been acting super weird lately. I can help you, just talk to me," she placed her hand on his shoulder.

"You can't help me… You definitely can't, sorry," he said, walking away from her.

Three days later. In the psychologist's office.

"Hi, Benjamin, I'm Elizabeth," the psychologist shook hands with him, "Can I call you Ben?"


"Ben, please lay on the couch, and let's talk about your dreams."

Ben looked at the doctor. She was a normal person, a dark-skinned woman in her forties. He knew she couldn't help him, but he also knew his parents wouldn't stop until they could get something from him.

"It's nothing, doctor, really, my parents are overreacting. I just had some nightmares involving someone I care about getting hurt, but I'm better now."

"Ben, this someone, is it your dad or your mom?" she asked.

"No," Ben answered.

"So, who?"

He wouldn't give her Gwen's name. Because she might tell his parents about it, and, If they were able to dig deep enough about the reason why his cousin was in danger in his dreams, they would find out everything about the Omnitrix, about Gwen's magical powers, about Grandpa Max's secret life as a plumber, about all the villains they faced, and Ben would be grounded for the rest of his life.

"A friend," Ben spoke.

"And was this friend recently involved in any life-threatening incident?"

"No." Ben lied as best as he could.

"So, why do you think you are having those dreams about her?"

"I don't know, I think I'm just a little bit overprotective of her, like a big brother" Ben faked a smile.

And the doctor smirked at him, "You just confirmed my theory that we are talking about a girl..."

Ben was completely in shock, "It's NOT what you think. Definitely not, ok?" the doctor was getting it all wrong, but it wasn't exactly her fault, since Ben was lying about almost everything.

I wear this crown of thorns

Upon my liar's chair

"I'm not thinking anything, Ben. But I have an idea," she spoke.

Ben sighed in defeat, "Ok, go on, doctor."

"This friend of yours, you care deeply about her. And you're subconsciously projecting your fear of losing her from your life in your nightmares. I can see that you're a very closed person, so I bet you never told your friend how much you care about her. Tell her that, tell her you don't want the two of you getting estranged."

Ben laughed. Like if he was ever going to tell something like this to the Dweeb. She would blackmail him for life over that.

At school.

There was a science test coming and Ben hadn't studied for it. He didn't want to do this, but he had no other choice.

"Gwen," he poked her in the arm. Ben was sitting right behind his cousin, she leaned back a little and he whispered in her ear, "Can you please come over my house today after school to help me study for our science test tomorrow?"

She turned around to face him with a smirk on her face.


Ben would be in so much trouble if he failed this test.

"Come on, Gwen, I'll do anything," he regretted these words immediately.

"Anything?" His redheaded cousin asked, arching an eyebrow.

"No, no, just-"

"Then, no." she said, turning herself to face the teacher again.

He poked her in the arm again.

"Ok. Anything," the green-eyed boy spoke in a defeated tone.

"I'm in," Gwen answered grinning from ear to ear, facing him again.

"Mister and Miss Tennyson! Pay attention to the class!" the teacher reprimanded both cousins now.

Ben's house, after school.

In his bedroom, Ben put the science book on the table and said, "Ok, let's not waste any time. We can start now."

"Not yet. My parents allowed me to sleepover here today, remember? We have plenty of time to study, first you owe me something." Gwen spoke calmly.

"Later, Gwen, let's study fir-"

"Your nightmares. What are they about?"

"Ok." Ben sighed. "They're about you."

"It's not funny Ben!" Gwen smacked him on the arm.

"Ouch! It hurts! And I wasn't joking. They are about you. About times in which you almost died during our summer trip."

Gwen had a shocked expression on her face now.

"Sorry, cuz," she said, gently caressing the spot that she had hit on his arm before.

"Let's study now," Ben said, opening the book.

"Not yet. How did it start? I mean, you were fine until last month, some recent event must have triggered it, and I wasn't in danger recently. What happened?" she asked, with a concerned look on her face.

Gwen was too clever.

Ben closed his eyes and sighed.

"I was with Grandpa on a weekend, training my powers outside of the city-"

"And you two left me out?" Gwen asked, very angry.

"I'm his favorite grandchild, you already know that, dweeb," Ben smirked, "as I was saying, I was training, and then I turned into Eye Guy. I thought, this guy has so many eyes, what more can he see? I tried to focus, and I saw something disturbing… I think I had a small glimpse of the future. After that, the nightmares started."

"What did you see?" Gwen spoke worried.

"I saw you abandoning me," Ben whispered with a sad expression on his face.

Beneath the stains of time

The feelings disappear

You are someone else

I am still right here

Deep down, he knew that the psychologist was not completely wrong. He didn't only fear for Gwen's life. He also dreaded losing Gwen as a part of his life.

"What? That's impossible, I would never-" Gwen said.

"You did. You went away to college, while I stayed in Bellwood. And it wasn't the worst part… I saw Kevin 11 too. I think he was probably pretending to be my friend. And… you two were together... And you left with him."

"Do you mean, in your vision, I was dating Kevin 11?" Ben nodded, and Gwen laughed, "You are crazy, Ben. Kevin tried to kill me a dozen times, and he tried to kill you a thousand times. I would never be dumb enough to fall for Kevin."

"My best friend abandoning me because of my worst enemy... I'm kinda used to it," Ben whispered.

"What? What do you mean-" and then she realized what he was talking about, "JT. He was your best friend, and he stopped hanging out with you because of Cash… I'm not JT, Ben."

"I saw it, dweeb," Ben spoke, "In my vision, Kevin was really good at pretending to be my friend, like, he was even able to fool future me! And you girls are all stupid. Always falling for the handsome alpha male. You will go away with him, and I will be left alone."

What have I become?

My sweetest friend

Everyone I know

Goes away in the end

"And you boys are all idiots…", Gwen sighed, "Even if Kevin 11 were able to put on a good act to make us buy that he simply turned good outta nowhere... Maybe I could forgive him, but I would never forget the things he tried to do to us. Sometimes I have nightmares too, but in my nightmares, you are the one who gets hurt," she said, her green eyes locked onto Ben.

They remained silent for almost a minute.

"Hey, you said that I'm your best friend." Gwen said with a smile, "That's nice to know."

"No, dweeb, you- ok, you're right, you're my best friend..." Ben closed his eyes, remembering the words of the psychologist, and suddenly felt the urge to let everything out, "Even if in the future I could become a famous hero, loved by a legion of fans, with lots of girls falling over at my feet... It wouldn't be worth it if I were estranged from you. I would feel hollow and empty inside."

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

He expected to hear Gwen's laugh about how stupid he sounded, but when he looked at her, he only saw a tear falling from her eye.

"Cuz… This is the sweetest thing you have ever said to me," she said, wrapping him in a tight hug. And after that, she pressed her lips against his cheek in a long kiss, holding Ben's head with her hands to stop him from pulling away. Ben felt weird, but in a good way.

"What was that for, dweeb? You passed all your cooties to me now!" The brown-haired boy spoke, running his fingers over his cheek to clean Gwen's saliva. But his annoyed reaction was more out of obligation than really unpleasantness.

And then suddenly Gwen started laughing, "You're an idiot, Ben!"

"You're an idiot too, Gwen" he replied.

"No, I mean, did you forget? We traveled to the future! We saw ourselves there! Eye Guy's vision can't be real."

"I remember... Ben 10,000 and Gwendolyn," Ben said, "But I was kind of a jerk in there too…"

"Ben, you are kind of a jerk now," Gwen chuckled, "But that's not the point. What matters is, Gwendolyn was Ben 10,000's closest friend, and Kevin wasn't even there. Maybe Eye Guy was just seeing your worst nightmare… Or maybe some crazy alternate reality… But it definitely wasn't our future."

"It makes sense… or when we traveled to the future, we changed it," Ben said, with a grim face.

"Ok, then. Let's suppose we did change our original future, and what you saw is our current future. Well, if we did change the future once, we can change it again, since we both know about this 'new future' now."

If I could start again

A million miles away

I would keep myself

I would find a way

"Maybe you're right…" Ben whispered.

Gwen took his hand in hers and interlocked their fingers, "I am right, Doofus. And I will never ever leave you, Ben Tennyson. I want you to know that."

"Thank you, Dweeb." He smiled to her.

"First, we have to make sure that we get into the same college, Doofus." she returned his smile, "That means I will help you to improve your grades. Starting with our science test tomorrow."

Author's notes.

Thanks to Aurora Nightstar for beta reading this!

The canon references:

Ghostfreak threatened to jump Gwen off a roof in "Ghostfreaked Out"

The wildvines took Gwen away in "Secret of the Omnitrix"

Zombozo tried to drain Gwen's vital energy in "Last Laugh"

Kevin tried to burn Gwen alive in "Framed"

Kevin and Vilgax teamed up and threatened to kill Gwen in "Back with a Vengeance"

Ben and Gwen met their future selves in "Ben 10,000"

Eye Guy's vision about Gwen dating Kevin and leaving Ben to go to college is an obvious nod to Omniverse (and Alien Force too, to some extent).

I personally don't think Alien Force, Omniverse and Original Series are all set in the same universe, because of the plot holes (Plumbers are an Earth-based organization in OS and were retconned to be an intergalactic police in AF, just to bring up one example). I prefer to stick with the original timeline from the original series, and imagine the sequels as alternate universes.

This is the basis for this story, Ben realizing that he can't live without Gwen, and Gwen reassuring him that in their future, the one from OS, they will always be the most important person in each other's lives (the future episodes Ben 10,000 and Ken 10 are proof of that), sadly I feel the sequels tried to erase their ultimate platonic bond to stop the shipping.