- This story is a sequel to "Hurt" (look in my profile), but it also works as a standalone story if for whatever reason you don't want to read "Hurt" first.
- The lines in italic are from the song "How It Ends" by DeVotchKa. If you like the song, you should listen to it while reading this fic.
"Ignorance is bliss." - Thomas Grey.
Ever since Ben found out that Eye Guy could see glimpses of the future, he was being tormented by his newfound ability. He dreaded what the future could have in store for him.
The 11-year-old boy had promised himself that he would never ever use that power anymore. The last time he did…
Gwen. After everything that they had been through that summer, he knew there was no one else in Earth or space more loyal to him than his cousin. They were friends forged in fire.
Or that's what he thought.
Because the last time he used Eye Guy's new power, he saw that he and Gwen would become estranged. She would leave Bellwood with his greatest enemy, Kevin 11. A shocking betrayal. Gwen assured him that whatever he saw wouldn't come to pass, she said she would always be his partner and best friend, but deep down Ben still had his doubts.
In that fateful Saturday afternoon, his parents Carl and Sandra were out running some errands, and he was home alone. A perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of the story. He was going to use Eye Guy's new power again. One last time. Ben took a deep breath, and dialed the Omnitrix. He slammed the watch, turning himself into the many-eyed alien.
He focused, and one of the eyes started itching…
You know what you gotta do.
They all depend on you.
"BEN TEN THOUSAND! BEN TEN THOUSAND! BEN TEN THOUSAND!" he saw a huge crowd chanting his name in front of a stage, and flags hanging all around. Funny, that was looking like a political rally.
"Thank you all!" he saw an older version of himself waving to the public in the center of the stage.
A few minutes later, when the public calmed down, Ben 10,000 started his speech. There were cameras recording the event too.
"First, I want to thank you who believed in me, and also those of you who didn't, I hope I can still earn your trust in the future. I also want to thank my parents Carl and Sandra, my grandfather Max, my cousin Gwendolyn, my best friend Kevin, and especially, my lovely wife, Julie!" And then Ben 10,000 smiled at an Asian woman standing next to him with tears in her eyes.
He liked to know that he was getting married to a nice girl, but "best friend Kevin"? Really, this version of Ben 10,000 was that dumb?
"It wasn't easy, but we won! And I promise you, I won't let you down. I will uphold the Constitution, and make our planet a place of peace, for humans and aliens alike, as the President of Earth!"
Oh my goodness! He was the President of the whole planet! That future was looking good!
That scene vanished, and then he saw something else.
Four people having dinner together. Ben 10,000, his wife Julie, and adult versions of Gwen and Kevin.
"Congratulations, cous! I knew you would win! You deserve it!" Gwen said.
"Ben, I know you will be a great president, because you have a big heart," Kevin spoke, "You and Gwendolyn believed in me when nobody else did. Without my babe, the love of my life," Kevin gently squeezed Gwen's hand, "and without you, I would still be just a mad evil guy. Thank you for everything you did for me, brother."
"Oh, Kevin, you are not going to give me a hug, are you?" Ben 10,000 asked smirking.
"Shut up, mister President," Kevin spoke playfully and everybody laughed.
Kevin sounded so sincere... Now, Ben himself was actually wondering, maybe Kevin's change of heart wasn't an act after all? Maybe Kevin 11 was truly redeemed? It went against everything he knew about Kevin, but he had no other explanation for his nice behavior. Maybe his relationship with Gwen did change him.
Then the scene vanished again, and now he saw Ben 10,000 and Julie cuddled together in the bed.
"It's nice that we had dinner with Gwendolyn and Kevin tonight," Julie said, "it's a shame that the four of us don't hang around together now as much as we did in the past."
Ben 10,000 kissed Julie's hair. Cute, Ben thought. He was proud of his future self, a loving husband.
"Ben," Julie said, caressing his chest, "Do you really love me? Are you happy with me?"
"Why are you asking me that, sweetheart?" Ben 10,000 asked, surprised.
"I'm sorry, Ben, but sometimes… It seems like you are acting... I caught you crying in the living room once, late at night. I love you more than anything, and it would eat me inside to know that I'm doing something wrong. That I'm not making you happy. I can do whatever you need me to," she said, with a tear falling from her eye.
"Julie, I… I've seen too many bad things, I've lost too many friends. My personal problems have nothing to do with you. You're perfect and I love you," he said, giving her a peck on the lips.
They both remained silent for a few minutes, still cuddled up with each other.
"You know, my dad wanted me to break up with you when we were teenagers," Julie said, breaking the silence.
"If you had listened to him, you wouldn't be the First Lady now," Ben 10,000 grinned.
"Do you know why he didn't like you?" Julie asked in a sad tone.
"Never had a clue." Ben 10,000 answered.
"He realized this thing way before I did. He said you were dating me out of obligation, that you didn't like me the way I liked you."
"Honey, I know I was a jerk to you sometimes when I was a teenager, and I'm really sorry about that. But you gotta stop thinking that I don't love you, please," Ben 10,000 said.
"I promise I will, under one condition. I will ask you a question, and you swear that you will be completely honest with me in your answer," she asked.
"Ok, sweetheart, go on," Ben 10,000 spoke.
"Ben… If you and Gwendolyn weren't cousins, would you have chosen to be with her instead of me?"
Ben 10,000 widened his eyes.
"Julie, I don't know why you're asking me such a ridiculous question like that, but I don't love Gwen the way I love you. And I love you more than anybody else. I swear." Ben 10,000 spoke, with a sweet smile on his face, looking straight into Julie's eyes, and he knew she was happy with his answer.
But Ben knew himself, even a future version of himself, better than anyone else. That smile he gave to Julie, he recognized it immediately. It was his lying smile.
Then he saw Ben 10,000 in the bathroom, in front of a mirror.
"I made the right choice," Ben 10,000 whispered to himself, "I played it safe. I saved the 52. Kevin is my best friend and a hero, he saves lives instead of taking them. The world is safer. Gwen is happy with him, Julie is happy with me. I am the president now, I can bury myself in work and do something good for the people and forget about my own problems, and…"
There were tears falling down from his face.
"Gwen… I will never be whole without you… " Ben 10,000 broke down in tears in front of the mirror.
And in your soul,
They poked a million holes.
But you never let them show.
C'mon it's time to go.
Eye Guy came back to his senses, in the living room of his house.
What the heck did he just see?
His future version was in love with Gwen?
Before Eye Guy could make sense of this vision, he felt another of his eyes itching. Another vision was coming.
Big Fat Alien Wedding
It wasn't a vision of the future this time. It was from the past. Gwen teaching Ben how to dance.
"Now just count. One, two. One, two. Forward, back. Forward, back," Gwen spoke, leading him. The cousins were graciously swinging around the Rust Bucket.
"Hey, I'm dancing," the 10-year-old Ben said, with an expression of pure joy on his face, holding Gwen's hands as if he were holding the most precious thing in the world... and he actually was.
Race Against Time
He saw flashes from another very unpleasant past event.
The Chronian lord Eon was possessing Ben's body, the Hands of Armageddon were within his reach, and Gwen was standing in his way.
"I'm not afraid of you, you hear me? I'm not afraid, because inside I know you're still my cousin."
Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it. She was afraid. But she stood firm against him anyway.
"I love you, Ben Tennyson" she said in tears. "Because you're a hero and you've never given up on anything in your life."
It was too late to save Ben. Eon was in full control now. The plumbers would have to kill him. But Gwen gave Ben the ultimate motivation to beat Eon's control.
Eon was about to summon a ball of energy in his hand. One blast from Eon and Gwen would be gone, lost forever… Gwen should have used her magic to attack him and escape. But she didn't.
Because Gwen knew that the only way to save Ben was to make him save her... and it worked. Ben would never hurt the person he loved the most.
Secret of the Omnitrix
"Ben, look out!" Gwen screamed, pushing him out of the wildvines' way.
And then she was dragged away by the vines, "BEEEEEN!"
His first instinct was dialing the watch, "Going hero!"
"BEN! NO! The self-destruct will accelerate!" Myaxx screamed.
The Omnitrix could blow up, taking the whole universe with it.
"I. DON'T. CARE." Ben spoke, turning into Four Arms.
Of course he didn't care about risking the universe for Gwen... she was his whole universe.
Eye Guy was laying down on the floor, overwhelmed by all those visions.
Oh my God.
He loved her.
He was in love with her.
"And you've never given up on anything in your life," her sweet voice echoed in his mind. He sure as heck wouldn't give up on her. He had put his neck on the line too many times to start playing things 'safe' now.
He would try to make things work out between them. He had to. He couldn't lose her. Not to Kevin. Kevin 11 didn't deserve her. But quite frankly, neither did Ben. Ben wasn't a good person, far from it, but Kevin was definitely worse. So it was supposed to be an easy choice, right?
Then, yet another eye started itching.
Just ask and you'll receive,
Beyond your wildest dreams.
Ben 10,000 was slowly walking through the streets in silence, looking at the trashed stores and the corpses scattered on the floor. Some burned, some stabbed, a terrible sight to behold. There was no one left to be saved there, the only thing left to do was punish the man responsible for that carnage.
He stopped in front of an amusement arcade, and saw a long black-haired man wearing a black suit, with an "X" scar in his chin, calmly playing a game in one of the cabinets.
"Hi, Benji! Do you still remember when we first met all those years ago in a place like this?" the man said, without bothering himself to look at Ben 10,000, "I was thinking, before we try to kill each other, what about we play some Summo Slammers, just for old times' sake? Oh, boy, I am getting nostalgic now."
"Kevin, what have you done?" Ben 10,000 asked in a sad tone.
"No, Benji, I'm not just Kevin anymore, I am much more than that now. I AM KEVIN ELEVEN THOUSAND!" he screamed the last part, turning to face Ben 10,000.
Ben was completely terrified with Kevin 11,000, he didn't know how his future version could remain so calm facing a creepy guy like that.
"To be quite frank, I was expecting your hot cousin to be here too. I am kind of disappointed. I guess I'll just have to go after her after I kill you. Gwen and I will have some fun, if you know what I mean," Kevin 11,000 smiled deviously.
"Don't. You. Ever. Threaten. My. Family." Ben 10,000 said, with rage in his eyes, "Your problem is with me, Kevin. Why did you kill all these people here?"
"I just got out of the Null-Void again, and I wanted to catch up with my old friend - that's you Benji, by the way - and I couldn't simply call you, could I? I'm a villain, I must do things with style. Besides, all these people that I killed, they don't really matter, do they?"
Ben 10,000 looked around and sighed.
"I guess not to me," he said in a defeated tone.
"Ouch," Kevin 11,000 widened his eyes, "I can't believe this. Is my nihilism finally reaching your heart?"
"No, but… We could have been friends, Kevin… You could have been a hero… ", Ben 10,000 spoke.
"Hahahahahahaha, that's a good joke, Benji! Me, a hero! Well, I have a confession to make. When we were teenagers, I just played hero with you and Gwen because she was hot and I wanted to get in her pants. Oh, teenage hormones make even the best of us do stupid things... Thankfully, I grew out of it when I realized you had already beat me to it, you sick little pervert," he said, playfully pointing his finger in Ben 10,000's direction, "But, about the friends part, we are friends, Benji, in a very sick and twisted way, but we have always been friends."
"It doesn't have to be that way. I want to help you, Kevin." Ben 10,000 said.
"I could tell you sad stories about my childhood..." Kevin said, walking around in circles, "I could tell you all about my terrible life in the streets of New York alone... I could tell you about two meddling cousins who locked me away in the Null-Void for years... But deep down, the truth is, everything I do... I do. Because. I. Like. It." He said with a grim smile.
"Surrender, please." Ben 10,000 asked.
"Oh, boy… The moment we are all waiting for… Ben Ten Thousand vs Kevin Eleven Thousand!"
And then Kevin 11,000 turned into a hybrid monstrous creature, while Ben 10,000 slammed the watch, turning into Way Big.
That scene vanished, and now Ben saw Ben 10,000 watching the news in his Headquarters.
"And today, Ben 10,000 arrested the notorious criminal Kevin Ethan Levin, but not before the villain could claim the lives of 52 innocent people," the anchor, Will Harangue, said, "It is clear that Ben 10,000 is not capable of protecting us. But of course, what could we expect from a man who is in an incestuous relationship with his own cousin-"
Ben 10,000 turned off the TV, and sunk into the armchair, closing his eyes.
A few minutes later, a magic portal opened in the living room, and three people crossed it. Ben recognized Grandpa Max, older and with a bionic arm, an adult Gwen, Gwendolyn, beautiful as ever, with her long red hair tied in a ponytail, and the third one was a little boy with red hair, green eyes and Ben's nose.
"Daddy!" The boy shouted in happiness, running towards Ben 10,000, "I missed you!"
"Hey, Ken!" Ben 10,000 raised the kid in the air, "Dad missed you too!"
Grandpa Max hugged Ben 10,000, "I'm glad you are ok, kid, I was worried about you getting hurt in the fight against that monster"
And then Gwendolyn French kissed Ben 10,000, his hands on her hips, and her hands on the back of his neck.
"Dad! Mom! Gross!" Ken said, closing his eyes.
"Come on, Ken, Dad and Mom have to talk," Grandpa Max spoke.
"Ok, Great-Grandpa Max! Let's go get my toys!"
A few minutes later, Gwendolyn and Ben 10,000 were sitting side by side on the couch. She was caressing his arm.
"You should have called me for help, Doofus. Ken and Grandpa would be fine with the Plumbers. You could've died fighting against Kevin alone," Gwendolyn said.
"I'm glad that you are always watching my back, Dweeb, but against Kevin… Kevin is a whole different level. I couldn't have risked losing you. I'm too selfish for that, I've always been selfish when it comes to you, cus," Ben 10,000 spoke in a sad tone, gently brushing his fingers on Gwendolyn's cheek.
"I recognize that voice tone, Ben… You are blaming yourself for Kevin's crimes. Please, don't do it." she said, kissing him on the cheek.
"I could've saved him, Gwen. The 52 people who died today, all the people that he killed over the years, I could've saved them all. I could've turned Kevin into a hero, a man who saves lives instead of taking them. He could have been my friend," Ben 10,000 whispered.
"Yes, but we would have lost each other… and our son. And family comes first," Gwendolyn whispered back to him, "You did everything you could to save Kevin, and it didn't work. I did everything for him too, except choosing him over you. That I could never do."
"But if I hadn't told you about my feelings… If I hadn't let this thing grow between us…" Ben 10,000 said.
"Do you regret it?" Gwendolyn spoke in a sad voice, "You would've been the President. You would've married an amazing woman. You would've been a popular hero, instead of a controversial figure. You threw everything away for me… And maybe I'm just not good enough."
Ben 10,000 took Gwendolyn's hand in his, and interlocked their fingers, "Don't ever say that again. Being the president, being popular, being with another woman, that's not my happy ending. It never was. Without you, my life would have been miserable, completely devoid of meaning. You are my happy ending, Gwen, because I love you, I will love you always, and you are my whole world. I have no doubt that I did what was best for me… But I know I didn't do what was best for the rest of the world."
"Ben," Gwendolyn leaned in, her face millimeters away from his, "We saved the world a million times, why can't we save ourselves just once?"
And their lips touched. First in a tender, chaste kiss. Then in a passionate, sensual one. Gwendolyn wrapped her legs around Ben 10,000's waist and Ben 10,000 placed his hands on her back. He stood up from the couch, lifting Gwendolyn with him, and walked to their bedroom. He gently laid her on the bed, and locked the door, his eyes shining with happiness.
Now you've seen his face.
And you know that there's a place,
In the sun,
For all that you've done,
For you and your children.
Eye Guy was still laying down on the floor, breathing heavily. All the visions, they took its toll on him.
But he understood everything now.
Two different outcomes.
Two possible futures.
The watch beeped, Eye Guy turned back into Ben, and he passed out from exhaustion.
When Ben woke up, he was in his bed, in his bedroom.
He descended the stairs, and found his parents in the kitchen.
"Hi, son," Carl said, "You were sleeping on the living room floor when we arrived, so I carried you back to your bedroom."
"Hi, dear" Sandra spoke, "Oh, a few minutes ago, Gwen called. She is inviting you to go to her house tomorrow, so she can help you study for the English test next week. If you want to go, your father can drive you."
"Thanks, I will decide later," he said, drinking a cup of water.
Then Ben went back to his bedroom, laid on the bed, and closed his eyes.
He had to make a choice.
A happy Ben 10,000 with the love of his life by his side or a miserable Ben 10,000 who had to give his loving wife a fake smile every day.
The psychotic life-taker Kevin 11,000 or the redeemed life-saver Kevin Levin.
The life of his son Ken or the lives of hundreds of innocents.
Let the world sacrifice itself a little for him or sacrifice everything he loved to make the world a little safer.
Ben Tennyson took a deep breath.
And you already know.
Yeah, you already know
How this will end.
Thanks to Aurora Nightstar for beta reading this!
The ending was left ambiguous on purpose. What do you think Ben would choose?