Disclaimer: I don't own Ben 10.

A/N: Good Bye and Good Riddance is 100% Non-Canon; Secrets of the Omnitrix is the official end of that summer; doing some research I found Ben's most likely Birthday to be December 27th 1995, you can look up Kuro the Artists Channel on YouTube known as The Ink Tank that supports this as well as Bellwood's most likely state being New York.

Making both Ben and Gwen thirteen turning fourteen in this timeline.

Chapter 1 – Family Reunion

Bellwood, New York, October 1st, 2009.

Ben didn't particularly enjoy helping his mother set up their backyard for family gatherings but, the glare she could give him would scare even Vilgax and so he always chose the easier route; not that he could ignore the satisfaction he took in helping others in general. It was the late autumn air that caused a shiver to run down his spine as he placed enough tables and chairs out around the heat-lamps that his mother purchased not too long ago, it was presentable at least.

A browned over leaf crunched under his sneakers as he put his hands on his hips and sighed, watching his breath billow out in front of his face; this would be the first time he'd really seen his extended family since 'the best summer ever' and he just hoped he could play it cool long enough so that Grandpa and his Dweeb of a cousin don't start asking him too many questions.

He took a glance down at his black sleeve, retiring his 'lucky shirt' after his twelfth birthday and exchanging it for a regular emerald-tee and black windbreaker with white trim; his color scheme seemed to match the outfit his future self-had worn more with every passing month. Ben pulled the sleeve back and stared at the low emerald glow the Omnitrix gave off, still wrapped around his wrist, in fact, it's bond with his DNA had only grown stronger as it had stretched a tad over the years. It certainly wasn't the gauntlet he saw Ben Ten Thousand wearing but, he noticed it as a start down that path but, just having that knowledge should have fixed the timeline, changed it entirely. Yet, he never felt more trapped in his own destiny than he did now, looking back up at the overcast sky while small fractals of snow twinkled down, and his mother finally turned on the lights and the lamps.

"See, Carl! I told you they still worked!" Saundra shouted as he heard his father respond but, he'd stopped listening entirely by that point. He wanted to just go XLR8 and sit on top of the Empire State Building, or the Grand Canyon… it was where he did his best thinking, alone. Some people have the shower, others have velociraptors that can travel at mach ten on a stroll, we all cope in different ways.

Before he could even consider it, and as he turned around, he knocked over a plate that his mother was approaching with only, he hadn't been paying any attention. Before the plate or the food touched the ground, Ben caught it and the five or six appetizers relatively unscathed, "Nice reflexes… I knew I paid for those self defense classes for a reason," she quipped.

He gave his mom a grin before handing her the plate and making his way into the house where he could smell the steak marinating and vegetables cooking on the stove, "You're joining us tonight, right, Ben?" Carl announced without turning away from the stove.

Ben stopped in his tracks, he didn't know how to answer until his father gave him a stern look that was all too familiar, "You aren't going to pull one of your disappearing acts again, are you?" he stopped stirring the vegetables for a moment as the sizzling oils left the room almost silent.

Ben took a second before he gave his dad a thumbs-up and nodded, "You bet, I can't wait to see Grandpa again…" he retreated into the hall as his father returned his attention to the food, "Your cousin Gwen is coming too!" he shouted.

"I don't have a cousin by that name!" Ben responded jokingly over the railing as he headed upstairs, "You must have the wrong Tennyson!" he could hear his father let out a light chuckle as he approached his room, closing and locking the door behind him. He figured he had at least half an hour before his family arrived, maybe less, still enough time for XLR8 to do a couple laps around the city and perhaps a few other nearby towns, leave a few muggers tied up in a dumpster or two.

He opened his window with a smile and was lucky he wore his jacket as he was hit with a brisk blast of cold air, he reached for his watch and pressed down on its activation. The dial popped up and he stuck a foot out the window, still looking for the Kineceleran in his playlist which had become far too large for a twisting dial. He finally found the speedsters silhouette when he heard the car-door shut below him as he looked down into the driveway noticing a familiar family staring up at him.

Leave it to Aunt Natalie to be almost a half an hour early, his eyes darted over to his Uncle Frank and Gwen who simply giggled, placing a hand over her mouth as he pulled his leg back into the house, "Hi there, Natalie, Frank…"

"I know your parents insist on using our first names but, you can call us your Aunt and Uncle, Ben," Frank told him with a wave, Ben chuckled with them as his eyes met with Gwen's again before Natalie spoke up, "And sitting on your window-sill like that can be dangerous, be careful!"

"Getting some fresh air, Doofus?" Gwen announced as her parents approached the front-door, she had grown since they last saw each other, during Gwen's sixth-grade graduation where she got some medal or another, her fiery-orange hair had grown till it nearly brushed her shoulders, no longer tied by a clip.

"Maybe I was! But I think I just let in all of the Dweeb by accident," He snarked in return with a half-smile as he shut the window in front of her, he had sort of missed their banter as he heard the doorbell ring seconds later, loud greetings and hugs all around. He waited until he heard the voices move into the living area and backyard before moving to his door placing an ear up to it, reaching for his watch once again with XLR8 still prepped, he was surprised that just as he was opening the door there was another person preparing to knock.

Gwen stood in front of him with her knuckles out, pulling them down now that he'd already opened the door, they both noticed the difference in their heights now and how they'd changed over the last two-three years, "You finally outgrew me, if only by an inch or two," she snarked first, noticing he'd finally learned to comb his hair, "And is that cologne I smell?"

"Yea," Ben pulled on the edges of his windbreaker and sighed, "A guy has to figure out hygiene at some point, right?" Ben hadn't been this close to his cousin since they used to wrestle on the floor half a decade ago so, it was easy to see how her face had grown a splash of freckles across her sun-kissed nose, and it certainly wasn't unflattering in his opinion. She wore a blue blouse and denim jeans, he also noticed she'd gotten a second piercing above her first one with two identical silver rings looping her earlobe, "You look good… for a Dweeb."

Gwen didn't hesitate to push passed him, letting herself into his room without a second thought, "Wow, I can see the floor and everything," Gwen was actually genuinely surprised that his room was decently organized, taking a glance under his bed just to make sure he didn't stuff it all away minutes prior.

"Wow, you're still invading my privacy and everything," Ben chuckled folding his arms as Gwen made her way to his desk, sometimes he hated how much freedom and respect his parents gave him at such a young age; he'd totally forgotten there were blueprints across his desk that usually never needed hiding as his mother seldom went into his room without his permission.

Gwen took a quick look before Ben scattered them indiscriminately, covering them and collecting them at the same time as though they were a stack of playboys, "Those are just some school projects I've been working on," he neatly piled and rolled them up, sticking them under his desk as quickly as he could, "I haven't gotten around… to, uhm, finishing them and all that, you know me I'm so lazy and irresponsible… and why are you looking at me like that?"

Gwen folded her arms across her chest and slightly shifted her hips, "Really?"

Ben gave her his fakest smile, "Yea, really."

"A freshman in Highschool has a project that uses large scale architectural blueprints?"

Ben darted his eyes at the window, taking a step-in front of his desk before letting a long pause fill the air before cutting through it himself with an unsure, "Y-Yes?"

She rolled her eyes as he stuck to his story, quickly turning around closing the door behind them and locking it; Gwen took a glance back at him with emerald iris' meeting, "Let's cut to the chase," she said with a confident grin.

"I haven't seen you at all in almost two years and we haven't spoken in even longer; what could we possibly have to talk about?" Ben was going to fold his arms when she grabbed hold of his forearm and pulled back the sleeve revealing the slightly larger Omnitrix.

"I knew it," she announced with pride even though he jolted back a bit at the touch of his arm, still having not seen him in so long, she decided not to pry.

"You're starting to make less sense than usual, and I didn't think that was possible," he raised his brow at her and unconsciously rubbed his arm where she'd grabbed him before shoving his hands in his sweater pockets, "You knew what?"

"Everything we saw in the future is happening," Gwen looked back at the locked door very quickly before taking a few steps forward and flashing two of the Charms of Bezel, their carved outlines glowing bright yellow.

"H-How? Wildvine destroyed them all over Las Vegas, and the Keystone was like busted, wasn't it?"

Gwen smirked in a way only she could, "It took about a year of research, runes, and different potions, but I finally found a way to repower the Keystone and since then I've been trying different incantations to reform the others."

Ben sat back on his bed and nodded to the second Charm hanging around her oddly smooth, creamy colored skin, the second charm hidden slightly by her clev- "A-And the other one?" he shook the thought away quickly as the heat rose to his cheeks, hardly letting it show.

She flashed him a smile, a genuine one that he hadn't seen in a long time, one that she was proud of and that made it even more appealing as Ben almost missed the blueprints from under his desk flying out into her grasp; he stood quickly to grab at them but, she pulled back as they stepped into close quarters.

"Don't touch those!" he shouted in a whisper as he reached for them, being an inch taller than her didn't give him the advantage he always imagined as she kept them just out of his reach.

Her smirk was in his face, so close she could feel the heat coming off his cheeks as he jumped at her, the second Charm was visibly glowing beneath her blouse, "The first stone I was able to recreate was Telekinesis but, also the easiest; why do you want these so badly anyways?"

"I told you they weren't done yet!"

Gwen moved toward his desk and laid out one of the prints as Ben facepalmed, sitting back on his bed in defeat, "What? Having Greymatter do your… homework for you… again?" she slowed down as she took a second to absorb what she was looking at, they were design schematics that detailed the layout of a warehouse out near the docks, "Ben, what the heck is this stuff?" she flipped through a few as he never took his face out from behind his hands; more plans, this time of marked entry and exit points, guard posts, numbers that she didn't quite understand but, it was definitely the handwriting of someone four-inches tall.

"Would you still believe me if I told you it was a school project?"

Gwen rolled her eyes, setting down the plans and moving towards the bed where she ruffled his brown hair with her hand, "Oh, Ben, nobody believes you work on school projects…" was it weird that he enjoyed the sensation of having her fingers run through his hair? Maybe he'd spent too much time as aliens that resemble animals… it took a second or two, but he finally swatted her away, hoping she didn't notice the momentary upward curve of his lips.

"There's been a gang, a very big gang, smuggling lots of drugs and weapons and bad-guy stuff into New York…"

Gwen glanced back at the plans on his otherwise neat desk as her hands landed on her thighs, tracing the hem-line of her jeans, "Through the docks… you were planning on taking them down, weren't you?"

"I know, I know!" He shouted as he stood up and slowly crossed the room in deep thought, "It's stupid and reckless and…and," Ben finally reached his desk and crossed the tips of his fingers over the large blue sheets of paper, feeling the need to make sure the city was safe had coursed through him since the day he found the Watch. It may have been reckless and stupid but, he had to make sure this new weapon couldn't be used on anyone in his city.

"Is that where you were headed when we showed up?"

He was surprised that it was her only question, "No… I was just going to do patrol before you guys got here; Dad says I can't disappear tonight but, I figure I 'go to sleep early' and take care of it that way," he was careful to put sarcastic quotations around the obvious as he watched her bite down on her lip, glancing at his window.

"Why tonight?"

Ben raised a brow, she wasn't trying to shame or scold him at all or even throw a thinly-veiled insult, then again it has been a long time since they'd seen each other, as he was forced to keep reminding himself, "Because the biggest shipment I've seen in their books is coming in tonight, it's a giant weapon not listed on any military or city defense budget…"

Gwen blinked back at him, staring up from his bed as she tilted her head, he was driven and understandably so; he would usually forget everything his aliens like Upgrade or Greymatter came up with but, he was applying himself like she wasn't used to, "So, now or never?"

"Now or it'll take me weeks to-" Ben turned his head back at her meeting her gaze, "What are you up to?" he narrowed his eyes at her, taking his hands off the desk and folding them across his chest.

"Nothing," she announced as she stood from the bed with a mischievous smile, approaching him as she placed a hand on his chest, getting far too close to him for his level of comfort but, it was only her way of teasing and they knew that, "I just want in."

"What?!" He was taken aback, raising his brow as he grabbed her wrist but, not taking it off of his windbreaker, "Trust me, you don't want any part of this… it gets scary out there," their glowing emerald gaze was interrupted when he darted his eyes to the carpet, "I'd rather wait until dark or miss the shipment than have you get hurt a-and…"

Gwen was surprised as he rarely allowed himself to fumble over his words like that, certainly not over her and her safety of all things, "Ben, I've got my magic and I've been taking self-defense for twice as long as you have; the Keystone makes me ten times stronger," she got so close that it forced his eyes to return to hers as he could see the freckles on her nose clearly now, "I once lifted my entire dresser over my head, by myself!" she grabbed his shoulders in excitement but, quickly recoiled back.

He jolted and stepped back himself, hitting his desk and knocking a cup of miscellaneous pencils and rulers across the blueprints, his gasp was simultaneous with her touch as he held the spot she had nearly brushed earlier. Quickly realizing an explanation was due, he stood himself up-right and ignored the pain, cracking his knuckles out of habit and waiting for the screaming but, it never came.

"Obviously, I've been working out so hard my muscles are sore?"

Gwen rolled her eyes, "Let me see it…"

"It just scraped me, okay, I wasn't even hit…" Ben turned away as she caught his uninjured arm and turned him around, pulling up his left arms sleeve until she saw the bandaged wound bleeding through.

Gwen's expression took on such concern that she almost couldn't understand why she felt so horrible, like something had sunk into the back of her throat making it hard to breath, "A-Are you saying you g-got shot? Like, with a bullet."

Ben would have quipped something sarcastic back like 'No, Dweeb, I got hit with a water-gun.' But something about her face, her eyes that slowly watered over as he refused to answer thus far, "I- Like I said, it was only a scratch."

Gwen picked at the bandage and pulled it away, "What happened?" slowly, she revealed the small chunk of skin missing where he, in fact, had only been scathed by a bullet which still left a large bruise around it. He had to be in unimaginable pain to have treated this himself, in secret, and still go out to fight criminals, the good news is it wasn't infected as far as she could tell.

"I was copying those blue-prints off a drive in one of their warehouses, a shell-company or something, it had all of the information about tonight I would need but, it was a stupid mistake," he shook his head, smiling like he'd fallen off his skateboard or accidently dropped something, "I should have heard him; I wasn't… I wasn't expecting a third guy."

Gwen drew her gaze back down to the wound, circling it softly with the tip of her index finger as the heat at her finger tips sent a wave of goosebumps over her, taking notice of the obvious defining muscles growing on his arms as she stared at it, "Who did you get shot as?"

He seemed confused when he answered without a second thought, "Me?"

"No, I meant-" she narrowed her eyes, "You mean you were human when this happened?"

"Yes?" He didn't seem ashamed more than he did embarrassed by failing to avoid the wound all together rather than just talk about what he did wrong.

Ben turned his desk chair around, where there was a pile of clothes as some things could never change, shoving them onto the ground and sitting down with a long exasperated sigh, "I got shot reaching for this," he held out a red USB drive, "And the only reason I got shot was because I thought I'd already taken his gun, he had a boot-strap, ya know? I should have seen it but-"

"You went in as a human? Ben, are you fighting these guys without the Omnitrix?" He tried to lie, he wanted to but, she had to have cast a spell on him or something as he couldn't think or say anything that could explain what he was feeling as the sunset illuminated her face from his window perfectly, "What are you looking at? Question, answer, please?" she repeated her question after he realized he's been staring, and his face turned a shade of red the sunset lit room hid from her.

"Every now and then, I try not to over-do it with using my powers," Ben kept his eyes on hers as she took a step closer and knelt down picking up a few of the pens that had fallen, "The city needs a hero but, I don't want to end up as Ben Ten Thousand…"

Leaning against his desk and slowly picking up one pen or pencil at a time back into the cup, "He was a super-hero, traveling the world, stopping super villains, huge tower-headquarters, why wouldn't you want that?"

Ben stared down at the emerald energy glowing off his wrist, lifting it to eye level, before dropping his arm and staring at the ceiling for a moment, "For all his powers and ten thousand different heroes, he was still all alone; the cake we brought back might've changed things a bit but, I guess I'm just trying to be sure."

"You know why my family is here tonight, don't you?" Gwen asked as she finally organized the mess and looked over with those gleaming emerald eyes of hers, scooting a bit closer to him.

Ben patted down his bandage and pulled his sleeve down, "You're moving into the city from the suburbs, yay for us, now you can get your Dweeb over all of Bellwood," his smile was contagious as she couldn't understand how she found herself already giggling at what he said.

"I'll be eight blocks away, dummy," she reached out and grabbed his hand resting on the desk, clasping it in hers, "You don't have to be alone, if you let me in," a reassuring smile that melted his heart, a cute girl was in his room, holding his hand, and only inches from him at that. He kept reminding himself who she was and what it meant but, this was a new age and if the watch on his arms taught him anything is that nothing is impossible.

Ben hadn't been this close to her in years and it just felt different, in their own individual ways, they knew something between them had fundamentally changed; it wasn't until a buzzing in both of their pockets from individual phones that both of them realized they'd been staring far too long, pulling their hands away to reach into their pockets. Neither daring to look back at the other until the heat in their faces passed.

"Looks like Grandpa isn't going to make it… again," Gwen murmured as they both read identical messages sent to them from their grandfather, "You don't think he's… you know… plumbing again?"

Ben scoffed, he always hated the term, "If I ever found out he left us behind to go on some top-secret mission, I'd cover him in so much Wildmutt slobber… he'd need a new out dated shirt to wear."

Gwen chuckled, covering her mouth with her hand as she laughed and shoved Ben's shoulder, "You so would not," their eyes met again as each precious second passed, she didn't know what it was but, something else had changed about him since that summer.

He was almost too transfixed on her eyes to remember what they were talking about prior to the text message, he'd been planning this operation for days now; he sat up in his chair and put his phone away after giving the time a quick glance, "Fine, if you can get us out of the house, I'll let you be my sidekick."

She stood quickly, stomping her foot as she realized that some things could never change, "Ugh, I am not going to be your sidekick, Doofus! If we do this, it's as partners." After a minute or two of silence, he looked back towards the window and the setting sun which beamed through into his eyes, maybe this was the mistake his future-self made? Saying no to this offer? Trying to be a hero alone.

"Okay," Ben stuck his arm out with his hand open, giving her an opportunity to shake but, instead she grabbed him and pulled him into her embrace, "Partners."

"Partners," she repeated.

Ben pulled away and turned towards his door, unlocking and opening it just enough to look down the stairs and into the hall where he could see shadows of his family members mingling, "How do you plan on getting us out of here?"

She giggled as she pushed the door open and walked out nonchalantly, "The trick is, being actually trustworthy at some point… that way they don't think I'm lying when I do…"

"Because you don't, do you even know how to lie to your parents?" Ben announced in a whisper as she reached the top of the stairs, "Not just about what you did that summer, really lie to their face?"

She gulped, running a finger along her necklace, "Uhm, you know I haven't recreated the Charm of Luck, right? What if they don't believe me?"

Ben rolled his eyes, "This was your idea, partner, I believe in you!" he whispered in her ear from behind as they descended the stairs slowly, hearing his breath on the nape of her neck and ear tickled a bit as she felt one of his hands on her lower back briefly, leaving her standing at the foot of the stairs in silence, goosebumps running down her back for the second time today, what was going on with her? It was the Doofus, two or three years can't have changed this much, could it?

"Hey, champ, nice to see you and your cousin together again," Carl said as Gwen was uncharacteristically silent in response, "We got that message from your Grandpa, we're sorry you won't get to see him but, I'm sure he'll be around for Christmas."

"Don't worry, Dad, it isn't that big of a deal…" Ben responded as they stood there, his mother pouring Natalie and Frank another glass of wine, he waited for Gwen but, she just stood with her face red.

"I hope Ben hasn't gotten you two into trouble already, has he?" Gwen's mother asked with a mostly sarcastic tone but, her silence and obvious distraction was hinting that he might've already done so, "We've hardly been here an hour… what did he do?"

"Ahem," Ben elbowed her in the ribs lightly as both sets of parents had stopped their chatter when they noticed Gwen staring off

Gwen perked up, "Right! Nothing, he just- I mean I just wanted to take a walk to the park around the corner to show Ben it's dead-center in between our houses so I figured we could hang out there sometime," she recomposed herself as quickly as she could and it wasn't surprising to see her demeanor change completely once she'd applied the effort, it was a totally believable excuse and would give them enough time to take care of the plan.

"It's getting late, Ben, I don't want you out all night…" Sandra announced as she put down the bottle and grabbed her own glass, "Be back before midnight, please!"

Natalie almost lost her mind, "Midnight?! Are you crazy? He is a thirteen-year-old boy!"

Carl had half a pita-bread in his mouth and kept chewing to avoid the conversation as Frank decided now was best to speak up, as the two sisters began bickering about raising their children as they always had, "We'd appreciate if you had Gwen back no later than ten-thirty, she still has exam prep tomorrow morning and I don't want her up too late."

"No problem, Uncle Frank," Ben said as they both backed out of the house slowly, announcing their goodbyes as the door shut behind them, leaving them free and clear. Once they were down the sidewalk, he finally had the opportunity to shove Gwen's shoulder.

"Dweeb, you never told me you could lie so well, ya know except for freezing up back there," Ben led her a block down until they turned into an alleyway, lined with trash and dumpsters that ended with a fence on the far end.

"I just… got nervous, but I didn't lie either," Gwen was obviously cold in the blouse she'd worn, so obviously that she practically shivered, "Well, not totally."

Ben raised a brow, "So there is a park we can meet at?"

"Yea, just a few blocks away, I was going to tell you about it earlier but, the excuse just came out with so…" she shivered again and hated her own brain for not bringing her favorite hoodie, not figuring they'd be leaving the house for than a walk to the car and back.

"Well, the shipment arrives in ten minutes, so we should have time to spare," Ben pocketed his phone and unzipped his jacket, slowly taking off the windbreaker he'd been wearing as he felt the breeze hitting his skin just as quickly, "I-I'll be transformed and all so, I wont need it as much as you will."

Gwen smiled, standing up straight and grabbing it from him, still warm from his body heat as he looked away, this time she could see his face turning red no matter how hard he tried to hide it and it was adorable; he really had matured in all this time, someone she could actually relate to more than then just a Doofus… maybe. After putting it on she pulled the charms out in full view as they both shun golden light from their unique and intricate cravings.

Ben spun through his alien playlist, finding XLR8 all over again and this time not hesitating to slap his wrist and feel the power rush through him, through every vein, every reconstructed cell in his body that changed his very DNA; appearing in an instant as a six-foot-tall velociraptor with blue and black skin, he turned giving her a fanged smile, "Miss me?"

Yes, god, yes, "As if, Doofus, just make sure you don't accidently drop me at mach three," his clawed hand moved under her knees and another propping her head up by the neck but, she decided to lean her head against his chest, inches from the Omnitrix symbol on his chest, glowing brightly. She braced herself against him as he took off, leaving a trail of color behind him, XLR8 was approaching the docks in just a minute or two and she could tell he was seriously holding back, was it for her sake?

He slowed down to just under the speed of sound, as he came to a controlled stop outside directly outside of the bait and gift-shop market that was on the edge of the separation between the tourist docs and the larger stations for cargo-ships; being out of sight, a bright flash of green light signified another transformation only Ben was holding Gwen now in his human form, he didn't seem at all affected by her weight either.

If she hadn't been aware of where she was, she would have shrieked but, instead she only blinked up at him in surprise, "How did you do that? Did the watch time-out already?"

Ben chuckled, "Actually I learned a few of those command codes you said I'd never figure out, I still have the time limit but, I can switch in and out until I run out of juice," it wasn't until he finished his sentence did he notice that she was still in his arms with a palm on his chest, she found it absolutely adorable how he turned red and put her down as quickly as he could.

He cleared his throat as Gwen watched him fumble in ways that she wasn't used to, "S-Sorry, I mean…" he dusted the sleeve of the windbreaker he'd given her off awkwardly, "Uh, there are two objectives; destroy the weapon and find out who the buyer is, it wont matter if they can just order another."

They both turned from the pier looking out over a fence at the docks where just out of earshot stood two armed men, each with semi-automatic weapons, they quickly ducked their heads back and quieted their voices even more lucky to have stayed hidden this long, "You don't think the buyer will be here?" Gwen whispered on her knees with Ben just a few inches from her, the moonlight reflected off the water behind her giving her a good view of him as he shook his head.

"It was due for transport but, I couldn't find out a where or who," he responded as he stood not totally, keeping his head out of sight from behind the fence, he moved slowly toward the edge where he could see an opening to round it and face the men, "What are you doing?!" she shouted in another whisper.

Gwen watched as Ben closed his eyes, took a deep breath and a glance up at the stars, before rounding the corner without warning, "Ben!" she let out in a louder shout, still not at full volume. Her body suddenly, instinctually moved into a sprint as she quickly regretted wearing her pumps instead of just sneakers; she almost stopped at two loud shots that rang like a bell in her ears but, she'd heard louder explosions.

When she finally turned the corner, Ben was facing the last man with his hands in the air as if surrendering, Gwen thought this was it, that this was the end for just a moment she forgot who she was and froze instead of helping. The moment before he moved was so brief, she wasn't expecting such speed as Ben grabbed the barrel of the gun, redirecting the line of fire perfectly while simultaneously jabbing the man in the solar plexus both winding him and sending him to his knees. As he gasped for air, a sickening snap came as he twisted his hand, snapping the guard's wrist and yanking the weapon from him.

Methodically, he scanned the area, disassembling the gun and tossing the clip in one direction and the gun in the other before facing her, "What's wrong? Did you get hit?"

"N-No, I just…" she shook her head as she noticed a group of men in the distance noticing the disturbance and acting to check out the scene, "I got startled, lets get to work, I'll find out who the buyer is… you destroy the machine."

Ben pulled his left arm up and activated the Omnitrix, twisting the dial he found the alien he wanted but, gave Gwen a short smile before slapping the watch; the emerald flash was their que to split up.

Ripjaws leaped once several dozen feet into the air, landing in the freezing cold waters behind them, he knew exactly which ship he needed to find as he swam through the marina; he took a moment to peek his head out of the water, looking for the sound of gunfire but, heard none. That was a good sign. He dipped below and completed the trek, digging razor sharp claws into the iron hull of the ship, Ripjaws climbed his way up the side until he was close enough to the railing to jump up, using the pole to summer sault over it and onto the deck.

"Ten outta ten," his raspy voice whispered to himself.

"What the fuck is that thing?!" he heard a voice shout from behind him as he turned toward receiving gun fire; he was bullet resistant, they didn't ever pierce his reptilian-skin but, they hurt like being pelted with rubber bullets.

He rushed in and opened his jaw, taking a bullet to the back of the throat before chomping down on the gun, tearing it in two as the thug held nothing but a the end of an iron handle; his scream was like an alarm as Ripjaws grabbed his shirt and tossed him twenty feet overboard into the water. He tapped the Omnitrix symbol on his right peck and transformed back into his human state with a single flash of green light, keeping close to the walls, and working his way down the ship with the schematics he burned into his memory.

He suddenly turned the corner, bumping directly into a man in head to toe riot gear and different weapons across his person, his helmet scanned the target as he tilted his head, "A little kid? What the hell are you doing down here?"

"Looking for the bathroom?" Ben quipped as he got up slowly, keeping his hands in the air as the armored mercenary slowly grabbed his gun from his belt; this wouldn't be as easy as with all of the padding his opponent was wearing, there weren't any openings, "I'm so sorry, sir! I was just trying to get a good video to post on Facebook! I wasn't trying to get in trouble, please don't tell my mom!" Ben dropped to his knees, getting his hands together or as close as possible waiting for the man to drop his guard.

"Ugh," he replied, "This is Deka to Foxtrot, do you read?" the man relaxed the hand he was reaching for the glock with and pressed into his ear, "Some kid snuck on the ship, he hasn't seen anything yet, what should I do?"

Deka glanced back at the boy who was now playing with his watch in his lap with his head down still seeming to be sobbing, "Yea, he does have a black wrist-band, why does that-?"

An emerald explosion answered his question as he was met with a bipedal creature with no face aside from large ears, however; his eyes were scattered across his body at least two or three dozen separate pupils across his arms, back, and torso.

Deka quickly backed up, pulling two firearms out and aiming them both at the alien, "Eye don't think that's a good idea," not taking his warning into consideration, the mercenary sprinted backwards whilst firing rounds at the Opticoid who was, in fact, bullet proof.

Eyeguy ran forwards, taking the bullets without flinching as he attempted to shoulder-ram Deka into the iron wall behind them, he was faster than Ben anticipated as he rolled out of the way, firing again until both clips ran dry. Eyeguy pulled himself from the wall and two or three of the eyes on his arms melded together to form a single larger one in the palm of his right hand. A blast of emerald fire pushed him across the corridor, not seeming to actually do any damage but, giving him a good bashing as the dent in hull of the ship Deka made with his back could be seen from the outside of the hull.

Eyeguy took a second to analyze the mercenaries gear and weapons with several of his eyes, "This technology, this armor, its level two technology…" he shook his head and sighed as another three of his eyes fused together to form an ice-cannon that pinned him to the wall, "Eye need to get my head in the game."

That's when he heard the small explosion outside, a blue fire that he recognized caught his attention even as he made his way through the ship, his many ocular abilities included x-ray and infrared.

"Be careful, dweeb!" he whispered to himself as he continued his sprint towards the weapon.

Gwen backed away as she watched Ripjaws leap into the water, she tugged on his windbreaker for a moment before turning around; the men that had noticed Ben's disturbance were on their way and they couldn't blow their cover just yet, it was a good thing she had been studying to memorize her spells over the years.

"Sit Silere…" she whispered as her voice echoed and suddenly, everything became silent as even her breaths sound was negated spite seeing the fog of her breath entirely; the spell created a field where no sound could be made giving her the element of surprise, backing into the shadows.

Four men, each wielding automatic weapons and radios, wearing black armor and padding unlike the two guards; they immediately noticed the lack of sound as their radios went dead, none of them heard her as Gwen jumped into the center of the group using her Charm to telekinetically rip the weapons from the men's hands. The clattering of plastic and metal behind her would have been satisfying but even that was as silent as though they were made of plush.

The men attacked but, were quickly over whelmed by her speed and ferocity; one man attempted to stab at her from behind so she took a step forward and punched the man in front of her in the throat causing the formers swing to miss as well. She turned back and grabbed his wrist with the strength of ten men and broke his arm, causing him to drop the knife entirely. She returned to the first man and sprawled to her hands and knees, narrowly avoiding another blade being swung at her from above but, used her acrobatic skill to sweep them both of their feet in a single rotation, landing on her feet as the spell wore off, sound returned to the area.

Groans, moans, and over all injured men began to speak but as they were so distracted and weak, it was easy to cast a simple sleep spell, "Somnus!"

They all toppled over into unconsciousness as she slowly snuck toward the loading area, she noticed the rafters above and used a combination of her telekinesis and gymnastic skill to scale the warehouse wall without being seen by the dozen or so guards armed below her.

"Berdi Mordo Nata," her voice echoed again in a whisper as a bright blue flame sparked in the palm of her hands, nothing noticeable but, enough so that she could control it; she nearly tripped as she stood atop the spider-web rafters looking down on the men all surrounding a single computer, at least three or four of them only they seemed even more armored up than the last guys she took down. Gwen gulped and tossed the blaze across the room, sparking a bright blue explosion closer to the water, and watching the men scatter to figure out what was going on.

She dropped twenty-feet, landing on her feet behind the only man they left behind to watch the computer; he wasn't a guard or a mercenary, he was just a regular old Chinese man who looked as civilian as they come. She didn't want to blind side him, and she couldn't keep using her magic at this rate, she had to admit Ben was doing a far better job at making taking people down easy tonight.

"Appendaga Regoria."

One of her simpler spells but, she couldn't ignore the sweat starting to form on her brow, wiping it away as quickly as she could; she stepped around the man who was now completely frozen, he would regain mobility within the hour but, before that happens…

The men put out the blue flames quickly enough as they found Gwen sticking a drive into the USB port on the computers side, clearly too important to destroy, they sprinted towards her instead of shooting, "Hey!" drawing their blades, each of them wielding hunters daggers in different hands and forms but, she wasn't afraid.

They were all distracted, including the sorceress, when part of the ship juxtaposed to them exploded in a massive flaming ball of fire; the ship didn't lose its integrity but, it would soon find itself taking on water especially with shockwaves erupting from the area over and over as if two forces were colliding within the ship.

"Be careful… Doofus!" Gwen almost shouted as they all aimed their rifles at her simultaneously but, they were shocked as she lifted five feet off the ground, her eyes glowing bright yellow along with the charms around her neck, floating as if gravity didn't affect them.

Four men open fired a thousand rounds a minute or more, each one stopping short of hitting her by freezing in mid-air, they did this until eventually they were all too confused to continue; the bullets dropped as she swung her hands, telekinetically gripping one of the goons and flipping him into his partner knocking them both to the ground.

Eyeguy stepped into the room where the mysterious weapon was supposed to be held but, he found nothing but a cage as he peaked in with one of the eyes on his hands; tapping the Omnitrix and transforming into Diamondhead, he rounded the corner ready for a fight but found only a scientist and a large crate-like cage. The man was in a white lab-coat and seemed frightened for his life, "Listen, I don't want to hurt you, I just want to make sure that weapon stays out of the wrong hands…"

"Weapon? He is no weapon but, if I let you take him, they'll kill me!"

"They, who?" Diamondhead asked as he took a step forward but, was shocked when a bullet went directly through the doctors forehead, silencing him and splattering blood across the wall; Ben turned to see Deka holding a smoking pistol.


"Me…" He took a step back and slapped a red release button on the wall before shutting the door behind him, "Have fun with the Vaxasaurian, freak."

Diamondhead raised a brow and approached the door, "The Vax-a-what?" before he could reach it, the crate opened slowly as it seemed the beast within had been sedated, it woke up. Growling as it did, Ben circled the cage as it slowly regained its senses, "Oh, wow, you're humongous…" the Petrosapien faced a brown dinosaur, curled into a ball to sleep and still ten feet taller than him, slowly rising, "I'm not going to hurt you, I just want to help you-" he was cut off by a back-hand which sent Diamondhead into the iron wall, severely denting it with his body, "Ow."

Barely getting a chance to form a crystal shield, the dinosaur stood up to nearly fifteen feet as he rampaged forwards, tackling Diamondhead through the wall and out onto the deck as he shattered the shield with one swing. Diamondhead had barely recovered when he was grabbed by the waist and lifted into the air, he tried his best not to hurt the confused alien as he sharpened his arm, pricking the beast.

Dropping Diamondhead who landed on his feet, sprinting between the creatures legs, he led the beast toward him as he used his last transformation to switch into Fourarms at the last minute, with a single flash of green light stunning the dinosaur, the Tetramand managed to uppercut him off his feet and into a massive stack of barrels causing a huge explosion to go off, sending a plume of smoke and fire into the air.

Fourarms charged forwards but, had his fist caught mid-swing as the force of such strength sent a shockwave outward, he received another backhand which hit him directly in the chest, scraping his Omnitrix as he was sent through the air. Gwen watched as his hulking, five-hundred-pound, crimson body went through three iron support pillars before he landed on his back.

Gwen had dispatched the guards with decent ease but, using her magic to this degree was slowly tiring her out, "Anyway you could give me a hand?" Fourarms said as he slowly picked himself up, she caught a glimpse of the symbol on his chest flashing bright yellow but, tried to stay focused.

"You have four, you need two more?" Gwen said exasperated.

The beast jumped from the flaming ship and landed on the concrete, imprinting its feet into the ground as it stepped off and let loose a thundering roar as it grew ten more feet along with a hardening shell across its body, "Seriously though…" Fourarms tried standing tall but, looked like a child going against a fully grown adult.

"Tempestus!"the water from the bay suddenly answered her call as it floated up at the sound of her voice, the echo was accompanied by her eyes glowing bright yellow; the water shackled around the dinosaurs wrists and ankles as best she could with her spell, "Namala!" she finished as two combined spells kept the creature pinned long enough for Fourarms to jump it with an uppercut before coming from behind and mounting its neck slamming all four fists into his upper-back, knocking it out cold. Its face hit the concrete with enough force to crack the loading area with its chin, the extra Tetramand weight probably didn't help.

Ben's Omnitrix switched from yellow to red as that signified his transformation back into a human, the warning beeps eventually led to a flash of crimson-light as he slid down the dinosaurs neck, landing on his feet, "Okay, new problem!"

Gwen waited for a few seconds as the drive inserted in the laptop was still copying data until a moment or two after Ben timed out, before sprinting away from it as though it were on fire as she approached the sleeping alien and her cousin both in deep thought one way or another; "How are we supposed to get this thing out of here?"

Ben shrugged his shoulders as he felt the cold air for the first time, as though all the adrenaline fueling him until this point had completely vanished, "W-We could wait ten minutes…" he looked back down to his watch, noticing he was still soaking wet from when he was Ripjaws.

Gwen looked around for a moment, even the fork-lift wouldn't help, "Well, where the hell were you planning on taking it!?" she only cursed in the most drastic of situations, considering most of her life her parents rarely allowed her to, it wasn't lady-like, her mother always said.

"I told you the entire plan! Take the data, break the weapon; I didn't know the weapon was gonna be alive!"

Suddenly, a familiar voice to Ben echoed from behind him, "So, two little kids are what made this whole operation fail… in all my years," Deka approached with a pistol aimed at them both, ready to kill once he was done venting, "Do you know how much money I was paid to protect this… thing…?" he kicked the Vaxasaurian's sleeping body but, it likely didn't even feel it either way.

Deka sighed as he kept his gun on them and suddenly, six more men just like him came out of the warehouse where they had been told to stay put, "I like to keep a low profile but, freakin aliens? And kids with super-powers? This is not a game!" he cocked his gun back as the other men lined up behind him with their weapons drawn, each one of them attaching silencers to their hand-guns, "Here's what's going to happen… you," he pointed his gun at Ben and he could swear there was a smile under his helmet, "My shapeshifting friend, are going to a research and development facility where we can figure just what you are."

He turned his gun on Gwen, getting closer so that the barrel could touch her forehead, "You're going to get shot in the head because a little girl shouldn't be walking the docks at night, it just, isn't, safe," he prepped his body for the recoil as he put his finger on the trigger.

Gwen tried to summon her magic, she tried desperately to activate one of her Charms or a spell but, she couldn't speak a word and the Keystone had already taken all of her strength, she wasn't accustomed to using her powers like this anymore than she was when she was ten, casting the wrong spell any time she actually succeeded in casting one to begin with. She closed her eyes tight, waiting for the bang or wondering if she would even hear it at all if it… before she could finish the thought someone had intervened.

She opened one eye, looking around as she noticed Ben's back in front of her aiming the gun at Deka's head, "Don't shoot! Don't you shoot him!" the armored man asked, "They need him alive, remember that!"

All six men had their weapons trained on Ben, who didn't hesitate to show them he could both cock the gun and use it, pointing the glock in between Deka's goggles, "Take the helmet off…" he muttered as he looked at every single one of the men and back to Deka, "I said take it off! Now!" he shouted firing once into the ground next to their feet, only refraining from killing him when the armored mercenary in question put his hand out, stopping them. Gwen flinched and found herself gripping her cousin's shoulders from behind, not realizing or caring how close she'd placed herself against him.

Deka complied and took the goggles and helmet off, putting them down slowly, with his hands still out, "Now, I know what you look like…" Ben was breathing heavily, huffing even as his breath would glisten from his lips through every word, "You come for her, or me, and I'll find you and your family and whoever you work for and take them all down with me."

Deka couldn't help but chuckle at this, he kept his hands up but, looked to his shoes as he practically couldn't keep the laugh from erupting out of his chest, "What's so funny?" Ben asked keeping his finger on the trigger and taking a step closer.

"Sorry, it's just hard to take you seriously when you have absolutely no idea what the fuck you're talking about," Deka put his hands down, "In fact, I don't think you realize what you're dealing with here… even I don't know who I work for, I was wired a bunch of money to live protect cargo. I can tell you all of that because that's all my men and I know, our jobs were designed that way."

Deka grabbed his helmet from the ground as Ben's hand shook, holding it between his arms and his side, "If you think that Four-armed freak of yours or some of that hocus-pocus you were dishing out can lift a twenty-ton beast off that dock before my boss gets here, be my guest…"

Gwen pulled on his shoulder, the voice of reason during his hasted decision making, "We got the data, and he's got a point, we need to go…" she whispered into his ear, her breath warming and calming him for a moment as it rushed passed his neck.

"How do I know you wont just shoot us in the back?"

Deka scoffed, "Do I look like I want a kid's blood on my hands for this?" nodding over towards the sleeping Vaxasaurian that three men had already begun attempting to re-load into its cage, "Just go, you got my gun from me which is impressive enough to let some kid walk away…" he reached for his side-arm with the men behind him still aiming, "Or… we could see who survives a bullet, you and your girlfriend or my armor?"

Ben didn't react as he called her his… his… she shook her head, quickly replacing the thought as fast as possible to refocus on the situation at hand; he pulled his hand back and the gun out of Deka's line of fire, using one finger to keep the gun hanging from his hand. He backed away with Gwen following his every step, practically counting the seconds until he heard the recharge sound from his Omnitrix. They watched him back up for nearly two or three minutes until he eventually tossed the gun out over the docks into the water, grabbing Gwen's hand and leading her out of sight.

As they made it away from their assailants Ben released her hand to tap the dial of his watch, the emerald light exploded only seconds later as they ran with XLR8 grabbing her and dashing into the distance before Gwen could even process what had happened, though she was used to being rushed places through super-speed no matter how long it had been. To feel the cold wind against her cheeks, the snow particles crashing into them at mach four like tiny bits of rain, the rush of moving faster than any man-made vehicle has ever gone… she was a nerd after all. Most importantly, though, it was the safety of being curled up with him, he protected her tonight like he always did that summer, and he was so warm like his chest was a blanket with a rhythmic thumping that could've put her to sleep.

It was only a brief jolt when he trailed up the side of a building, running up the glass-windows with such grace that his wheeled feet didn't leave a single scratch; reaching the roof, he came to a stop skidding across the gravel for a foot or two as he put her down and transformed again, this time at will, back into his human form.

"Did you get it?" Ben asked immediately, taking a deep breath as Gwen dug around in her pocket, leaving some anticipation for him to sweat out before finally pulling out the drive that thankfully hadn't been damaged in their escaped; she saw a light in his eyes flicker as he saw it before his gaze turned to hers.

"It wasn't that big of a deal, those guys didn't know what hit them," she dangled it in front of him as he went to reach for it, she pulled back, "First, I want to ask some questions…"

"Ugh, a quiz?" Ben chuckled with a frown, "Figure a dweeb to make an awesome heist into something educational… fine," he leaned against the edge of the rooftop where she was just noticing they were about ten stories up, far from her current home in the suburbs but, only about two miles from Ben's own home. It wasn't until she turned around that he saw the legitimate concern in her eyes.

She looked down at the drive and played with it between her fingers, caressing its edges as she thought of her questions perfectly, to make sure she didn't fumble on her words but, it was hard to do that with him staring her down that way, "When did you start doing this?" she asked.

Ben rolled his eyes, "I just found out about this organization a few wee-" he was already cut off when she took a step forward at him.

"No, I mean all of this," Gwen widened her arms to reference the whole city they were looking down and around on from a significantly tall building, two thirteen-year-olds with super powers, "How long have you been going hero?"

He sighed and gave a shrug, quickly turning around and looking down at the street cars which looked almost like ants from this height, "Who said I ever stopped?"

"Why wouldn't you?" she asked rightfully so, stepping up next to him and placing her elbows on the ledge just as he had, close enough that his windbreaker around her was grazing his skin, "After what you said about becoming Ben Ten Thousand…?"

He was silent as he looked over the city again, like it was a baby or a puppy that he couldn't help himself but protect; he flattened his hands but, kept his gaze on the street as he ran his fingers across the dirty-ledge, "When I was a kid, before that summer, I used to lie awake at night and listen to all of the sirens that would pass by, the sirens that would hum in and out."

Gwen said nothing as she listened, turning to look down at the city as he continued, "After I got back and had the watch, I…" he choked for a second as he closed his eyes to regain his breath a second later, "I realized how many sirens there actually were… how much this city actually suffered every single night and I tried t-to keep a low profile, I tried to ignore them but then, one night, I heard it…" his hands tightened into a fist against his will, he couldn't help himself as he remembered it perfectly, "I was being an idiot, looking at myself in the mirror as Blitzwolfer and- and I heard it from across the street."

"Heard what?" She asked softly, placing a hand over one of his balled up fists, Gwen had never seen such a serious expression on her cousins face before and almost didn't recognize him with the lights of the city dancing across that expression.

"One of my neighbors, a block away; see, he liked to go into his daughters room at night, a girl only a few years younger than us, when her mother was at work and she was asleep-" Ben choked again on his own words, he might've been about to throw up or punch a hole in a wall, she wasn't sure which yet but kept her hand tight around his all-the-same, "I thought maybe it was a one time thing and he wasn't a sick, evil, twisted person but, I heard it again and again… night after night."

Gwen looked away, back down at the city trying not to imagine what the implications of the story were, she knew mostly what sex was, but she didn't like to think about it, especially not under this context; he continued though, "I didn't go hero on him though," this caught her attention again, "Not in the way you're thinking, I was already Blitzwolfer so I knew how to track him the next night I heard it, I caught him in a railyard, drinking like an idiot. Like he didn't care about what he'd just done."

There was a silence that cut through the air with the precision of a blade, the only thing keeping them from just stopping the conversation altogether was the occasional honk and screech from the streets below, "I had one sonic scream left before I timed out, it knocked him… maybe… ten feet into the air," he narrowed his eyes as he tried to remember, "I just cant forget the feeling, when I ran up to him and started just whaling on him, I told him I knew what he'd done to his daughter and that if he ever did it again I would-" he gulped and looked away, any amount of shame on his face was obvious as he rarely wore the expression, usually proud of whatever he'd done on some level but, this wasn't pride, "I didn't stop punching until I saw the blood on my knuckles… an eleven year old beating a thirty-year-old man half to death, I mean, who could he even tell?" he tried to laugh it off but, she could see the twinge of guilt in his eyes, finishing the story off with a lighter note, "So, and just like that, he stopped coming into his daughters room and I started going out at night, not always as an alien but, as Ben Tennyson."

After hearing his story, Gwen didn't let the silence cut through like it had before because she knew this time, it would end the conversation entirely and the last thing she wanted was for him to stop talking, "Wow," was all she could choke up in the moment as he turned and gave her a raised brow, "I-I just mean, I wasn't expecting something so mature, I guess. Something so…"


"Yea," she finished, "I've been stuck inside for so long I might as well be fused to my binder; I've got karate, gymnastics, and I've got SAT prep already but, I hadn't even thought about going out there," it was as though she was considering it now more than ever, tightening her grip on his hand before he pulled away slowly, letting one of his fingers glide across her palm as he did.

He looked back into her eyes and shoved his hands into his pockets, "You've reformed two of those charms already and you managed to keep that thing pinned with those other spells, you're doing alright."

Gwen brushed a lock of orange hair behind her ear at his compliment, her cheeks turning almost as red as her hair, "I'm the one who's supposed to be impressed here," she punched his uninjured arm lightly, watching as he stared down at the people still walking the sidewalks, like he needed to watch over them all, she could almost sense the squeeze on his heart this city had as the cold air blew through his now messy head of brown hair, "One last question," she announced turning around and facing the rooftop as she took a few steps.

"Yea? What's up?" He turned and leaned his back against the ledge as she played with her necklace of charms, rubbing through their textures.

Gwen turned on her heel and clutched her gems, "I want you to promise me that you won't go out without me anymore," she was sure he'd say no, she was sure he'd reject her with some impossible to stand reason why he was the hero and she was just his sidekick, she was almost entirely sure he'd lie to her at the very least but, It was like she could hear it in his voice. Perhaps it was her magic or maybe it was just the way she knew his voice…

"Okay," he agreed almost without hesitation, "I promise," he said with a short smile, his hair still swinging in the breeze and she realized that hers was probably even crazier since she decided to grow it out but, it didn't seem to matter.

"How are you not c-cold?" Gwen said as she gripped the ends of his windbreaker, pulling it closed over her blouse to conserve heat and still getting none, it shocked her when he approached her reaching down and placing a hand on her waist, "I-I just, uhm?" Why was he? What was he? Transforming in a flash of green light, she shrieked when XLR8 appeared grabbing her lower back and knees, "Oh, right, duh."

"You said you were cold…"

"Yea, I mean, just go…" Just under the speed of sound, he dashed off with a shrug as he cleared through the empty streets and landed on his doorstep within a minute or two; the only thing she ever truly missed about moving that fast, other than Ben, was the way light bent around him when he moved, such a flash of locations was probably akin to a casual jog for him. He put her down and transformed, part of her wished he'd forget so that she'd still be clutching him when became a human again but, it didn't matter so long as it was him.

"How do I look?" She asked quickly as he reached for the door.

Ben looked her up and down as the light of the lamp above them illuminated her perfectly like a spot-light on stage, she was practically flawless but, she just stared up at him confused, "Hello? Earth to Doofus?"

"You look fine," He choked as he opened the door to face his parents and Gwen's waiting for them; Frank and Natalie had gathered their things already and Ben's parents were standing next to them practically about to see them out.

"Look who finally returns, we know exactly why you two look so nervous," Frank announced while Ben shrugged, figuring it didn't matter nor did they have any proof of anything, not that he particularly cared what his Uncle thought of him. Gwen was shocked though, looking as though she'd been caught red-handed.

"W-We're sorry, i-it's a really long story but-" Gwen started as she approached her parents and heard Ben facepalm when she started stuttering, their parents looked a bit confused as they all chuckled with each other.

"It's only ten-forty-five, we aren't that angry," Natalie started as she brushed her daughter's hair down a bit.

Gwen blinked as she looked up to face her parents, "Right, curfew… it wont happen again, promise," she took a breath as she almost had a heart-attack, collecting herself she noticed Ben's nonchalant attitude as he made his way toward the stairs.

"Don't make promises you cant keep, Dweeb," even though he winced at her, not a single member of the family would have seen it, turning to face the stairs as they made their way out, she quickly remembered at the last second.

"Ben!" she shouted, turning around ready to take off the jacket he'd lent her, "You forgo-"

"Keep it… it'll give you a reason to come back…" she heard him say it but, it wasn't until she was safely in the backseat of her mothers car that they really sank in; he wanted to see her again, something he wouldn't be caught dead saying three years prior, not that it mattered, they were cousins right? But, it was good to have someone she could practice with and talk about her magic seriously with and… she tugged on the ends of his windbreaker and just inhaled him. If she thought she was seriously beginning to crush on her own cousin, she may have caught a serious disease up on that dirty rooftop.

To Be Continued?

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