Since his identity had been exposed years ago, and his "inappropriate" relationship with his cousin caught by the paparazzi's cameras a few weeks later, Ben Tennyson had become an unpopular figure. The press labeled him as "a disgusting pervert with powers that are a threat to humanity."
Ben never really cared about what they said about him, but he always felt guilty because Gwen dreamed of a romantic wedding, with a crowd and all her family and friends there, and he knew she had given up on that dream the moment she chose to be with him, her cousin. Ben had already imagined their marriage: a low-key ceremony, without much fanfare, with very few people, only close friends and a few relatives.
But something impossible happened: public opinion turned in Ben's favor.
In the darkest hour of the planet, when everyone thought Earth would be conquered by the Vilgaxians, Ben was the man who defeated Vilgax. Ben, the "disgusting pervert with powers that are a threat to humanity" was ultimately responsible for saving the world, and the press finally left him alone. And he thought that maybe now he could finally give Gwen the dream wedding she deserved.
If someone had told Ben that he would marry Gwen under a round of applause and cheers of a big crowd, he wouldn't have believed them. But that was actually happening. It was surreal. Even the preacher emphasized that "the Holy Scriptures do not condemn the love between two cousins, and neither should we."
Gwen was obviously breathtaking in her wedding dress and with her long red hair loose. Ben had to restrain himself from kissing her before the preacher allowed him to.
A crowd of fans, several friends and their entire family gathered to celebrate the event. The presence of Ben and Gwen's grandfather, Max, and Gwen's grandmother, Verdona, was no surprise. The surprise was when Gwen threw the bouquet. It was Verdona who caught it. And then she winked at Max mischievously.
Ben's mother also supported their relationship since the day she found out about it. Perhaps because Gwen wasn't a blood relative of hers, it was easier for Sandra to see her as a daughter-in-law too. "I know there is no woman in this world - or in any other world - better for my son than you, my dear," she told Gwen during the wedding. At least Ben thought that was what she said, his mom was crying so hard he could barely make out the words.
On the other hand, Ben always had the impression that his aunt (and now also mother-in-law) Natalie hated him, for having taken away from Gwen's life all the normalcy Natalie had dreamed for her. But, just like the rest of the world, she eventually accepted Ben, even if half-heartedly, "Make my daughter happy," she told him.
Ben's and Gwen's fathers, Frank and Carl, had conflicting feelings. They both admitted that it was still a little "weird," but despite any reservations they might have about it, they loved Ben and Gwen with all their hearts and were very happy for them. Ben received warm hugs from his father and uncle.
Most of their friends were there too, like, for example, Lucy Mann, who with her usual hyper-active personality, made the whole party brighter and funnier. The Lenopan told a lot of embarrassing stories about Ben and Gwen, which made everyone laugh.
Even though the party had been wonderful, Ben had to admit that he was more excited about the Honeymoon. The billionaire Donovan Grandsmith was building a hotel on the moon, and although it was not yet open to the public, he invited Ben and Gwen to spend a week there as his first guests. Ben and Gwen would be the first couple to have a Honeymoon on the Moon!
Since day and night didn't work the same way on the Moon and on Earth, Ben and Gwen lost track of time. Which wasn't so bad, since they spent most of their time making love. Ben took as a personal goal to make Gwen scream with pleasure until she loses her voice.
In a calm moment when Gwen was sleeping and Ben was contemplating the beautiful sight of the Earth globe floating in the emptiness of outer space, a chill ran down his spine. It could be because of the PTSD that he developed after all the pain and horror of years facing psychopaths and monsters, but Ben could not shake off the feeling that he was too happy, and such happiness would not last forever, something would go terribly wrong at some point.
With his heart pounding, he saw the reflection of Vilgax on the glass, "Enjoy your happiness while it lasts, Tennyson. I may not have been able to take over that world," Vilgax pointed at the Earth globe," But I'm still going to destroy your world." Vilgax pointed at Ben.
"You are dead, I left you in pieces. You are dead, I left you in pieces. You are dead, I left you in pieces..." Ben closed his eyes and took a deep breath for a few seconds, whispering that phrase over and over again. When he opened his eyes again, Vilgax was no longer there.
About two years later, Ben was even happier, welcoming his firstborn to the world, Kenneth Maxwell Tennyson, a beautiful boy with red hair like Gwen, ears like Ben's, and emerald green eyes like the two of them.
Grandpa Max and Grandma Verdona (now that they were together, Ben was getting used to calling Verdona "Grandma" too, as weird as it sounded) came to visit Kenny in the maternity ward. Max was very happy with the homage to have his name as the middle name of the baby. If he had already been an overprotective grandfather, he would be an even more overprotective great-grandfather. And when Verdona saw baby Kenny creating magic bubbles in a cyan color - a perfect blend of Gwen's blue magic and Ben's green magic - or more precisely, Ben's Sorcerer form, Magus Viridis' green magic - she wept and thanked Ben for giving her the sorcerer great-grandchild that she always wanted.
Ben's parents and Gwen's father were drooling over their grandson. Even Gwen's mother took Kenny in her lap with the greatest love and kissed his cheek. Ben knew Natalie would never really like him as a son-in-law, but she would surely love her grandson with all her heart.
"Kenny is beautiful just like you, love," Ben said, as Gwen held the baby, "But I'll make sure he won't be a Dweeb like you."
"Do you think you're going to make my son into a Doofus like you? No way," Gwen replied, laughing.
Ben gave Gwen a peck on the lips, "I love you and our baby. I'm the happiest man in the world."
Suddenly Ben felt a chill, and saw in the corner of the room Vilgax with a grim smile on his face. Ben closed his eyes and opened them again, and Vilgax disappeared.
"Love, is everything okay?" Gwen asked, worried as she saw the look of fear on Ben's face.
"Yeah, it's nothing," Ben replied, smiling again.
The tragedy happened about twelve weeks later, shortly after Gwen returned to work after her maternity leave.
Ben and Gwen left the baby in the nursery where most agents of S.E.C.T. used to leave their babies, and went off to work. Disappearances were happening at White Peaks, Pacific Bay, and the suspicion was that there was a nest of vampires there. Ben was worried that Gwen would be a little bit "rusty" but soon he saw that his worries were unfounded, she was more than capable of dealing with a few vampires. It wasn't a difficult mission for Watch Man and Lucky Woman.
But shortly after they had finished the mission, they received a call from S.E.C.T. to come to the nursery for an urgent matter.
Their world fell apart.
The death of Vilgax had made his Empire collapse. His generals began to fight each other for power while also struggling against the resistance, and with Vilgaxia in turmoil, all the troops had been called back to their home world, and Earth was left alone. But there was still a group everybody forgot: the human worshipers of Vilgax. They received promises that they would ascend to positions of great power and importance as rulers of the Earth alongside their alien overlords, but these promises turned into dust when Ben killed Vilgax. They wanted revenge.
Most of the terrorists involved in the attack on the nursery had been killed, but one had been captured alive, and Ben demanded to interrogate him.
"Your son has been infected with a very rare virus from the edges of the galaxy," the terrorist said with a somber grim on his face, "A virus so violent that it can even kill an immensely powerful being like a To'Kustar. You can be sure that it will kill your son too. Your firstborn will agonize in your arms, just as our master, the firstborn of Cthulhu, died an agonizing death by your hands."
Ben said nothing. He grabbed the man and started beating him mercilessly.
One of the guards told his partner, "We can't let him do this."
And the other replied, "Feel free to try to stop him, if you're stupid enough for that."
Ben punched and kicked the terrorist to a bloody pulp. His assault persisted long after the terrorist was already dead.
The virus wasn't contagious. Ben and Gwen could bring little Ken back home, but that only made it more painful. There was a reason why the terrorists did not simply kill Kenny - they could have done it if they wanted to. They wanted Ben to suffer as much as possible, and a slow death for his son would be a greater suffering.
Amid the poor child's cry, Ben and Gwen did everything possible to find a cure for weeks. Ben got in touch with the greatest scientists, and Gwen got in touch with all the great sorcerers. They appealed even to the people they hated: Ben tried to make a deal with Dr. Animo, promising to help him get moved from S.E.C.T. prison to a house arrest in exchange for cooperation, and Gwen did the same to Hex. But not even the villains were able to find a cure.
Kenny was intubated and put to sleep with sedatives. It was easier for Kenny, who would suffer less, and also for Ben and Gwen, who wouldn't have to listen helplessly to the cries of their little child. Doctors said he wouldn't survive much longer.
That night, before going home, Ben said goodbye to his son in tears, "Goodbye, my son. Forgive me, I saved the world but I can't save you. Dad loves you," he kissed the child's forehead. Kenny seemed to be at peace in his sleep, and Ben smiled at this sight.
When Ben and Gwen arrived at their tower, there was a visitor waiting for them, Azmuth, the Creator of the Omnitrix and quite possibly the most intelligent being in the universe.
"I want to give you something, another Omnitrix," the Galvan said, holding a small black box, "I programmed it with the main function of saving the user's life. It will transform the user in the most appropriate form to protect their life from any threat, including a disease."
"But when I contacted you before, you said the Omnitrix didn't have any life form that had resistance to the virus," Ben said, confused.
"Yes, it's true. But the Omnitrix can create new forms by fusing the different DNA samples it stores. Perhaps it can create a transformation that can make your son resistant to the disease," Azmuth said. "In addition, this Omnitrix has all the security locks disabled, so it can keep the user in any form indefinitely."
"You said I should not abuse the fusions and you've put security locks on the Omnitrix I'm wearing even for the normal transformations. I am a grown man and even for me it's still a risk to use the Omnitrix to the full extent of its potential, and my son is not even one year old yet. This might fry his head..." Ben questioned the Galvan.
"You're right. Now is the time for me to explain the risks to you," Azmuth said, in a somber tone, "There's a very small chance that your baby will be able to handle the transformation-"
"At least it gives him a chance," Gwen said, in an equally somber tone, "As of now, our baby has no chance of survival. We have nothing to lose."
"-And if he survives, the most likely outcome is that he will get stuck in a fused form, a hybrid between different alien species. He will no longer be a Homo sapiens magi, he won't belong to any species in the universe," Azmuth let out a long sigh.
That made Ben remember Kevin. His enemy had absorbed energy from the Omnitrix and turned into a horrendous monster, a Frankenstein-like creature with parts of various alien forms from the Omnitrix. He definitely didn't want his son to live his entire life like that.
"I'll leave it here, and you decide what you want to do later. If you don't use it, please destroy it so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands." Azmuth taught them the self-destruction sequence of the new Omnitrix, "I made sure this one won't blow up the planet if the self-destruct mode is activated."
"Thank you, Azmuth," Gwen said.
"I appreciate your efforts to help us, Azmuth. It really means a lot to us," Ben said with sincerity. Although he didn't intend to use Azmuth's gift, he knew that was proof of deep trust and friendship from the Galvan.
After Azmuth left, Gwen kept staring at the new Omnitrix, a replica of Ben's Omnitrix, only smaller.
"Give it to me, love. I'm going to destroy it, as Azmuth asked," Ben said.
Gwen put the new Omnitrix back in the black box and stood in a defensive position, "This is a chance to save our son, Ben."
"This might kill him, and if it doesn't, it will still end his life. People will look at him as a freak. We don't have the right to be selfish, to want Kenny for ourselves, regardless of how much scorn and isolation he will have to endure," Ben said, his voice cracking.
In tears, Gwen let out a laugh, "That's exactly what my mom said to you when she found out about us. That people would look at us as weirdos. That you didn't have the right to be selfish, to want me for yourself, regardless of how much scorn and isolation I would have to endure for you."
"That was very different, love." Ben said, "I know you're in pain, and I'm in pain too. But you can't let that cloud your judgement, you-"
Gwen left the black box on the table, and pushed Ben against the wall, rubbing her body against his, "I need you, Ben," She whispered in his ear seductively and kissed his bearded face.
Since Kenny had gotten the virus weeks ago, the couple hadn't made love. They were just too frustrated, sad and tired to think about that. Until that moment, Ben hadn't thought about how much he missed it, but now he was definitely thinking about it.
He kissed her, hungrily slipping his tongue in her mouth, but soon he felt a wave of mana through his body that made him groggy, "I'm sorry, Ben. I have to save our son's life. Somnus!" then he fell unconscious.
* If you got confused by a few references here, such as Verdona being only Gwen's grandmother, or Ben and Gwen working for S.E.C.T, or Magus Viridis, or the names Watch Man and Lucky Woman (instead of Ben 10,000 and Gwendolyn), it's because this story is supposed to be a "non-canon" future for my main fanfic series, "Watch Boy & Lucky Girl" and "Watch Boy & Witch Girls" ("non-canon", as in, it doesn't mean my main fanfic series will actually shape into what you're seeing in this story). I hope these small references to my other fanfics don't make the story too confusing for you. Any doubt, PM me.
* Oh, and what I said above also answers a question that might have popped in your head: why doesn't Ben just use Alien X to save Kenny? Because there's no Celestialsapien in the Omnitrix here.
* I hope the conflict (whether or not to use the Omnitrix to save Kenny's life) is gray enough for both Ben and Gwen to have good reasons for their divergent opinions on the matter.
* Thanks to my beta-reader, Aurora Nightstar. And thanks to all who are reading this.