It was quite late when Ben Tennyson, otherwise known as Ben 10,000, returned home. When he walked through the front door and locked it behind him, he looked at the clock nearest him. 2:36, it read. A sigh of tiresome escaped him as he rubbed the back of his neck from looking down at papers all meeting. That meeting started early in the afternoon and ended only an hour ago. In that hour, he used XLR8 to get back home. During that short run, he ran into three different criminal cases where he put the convicts behind bars.
Ben was dead tired. All he wanted to do was go to sleep, holding his wife close to him.
At the thought of his wife, the tall man thought back to the meeting. That meeting had to do with a huge universal criminal organization and what to do about it. His wife, Thana, worked for. Not only that, but she held one of the highest positions in that organization. It was something forced upon her by her parents, who already worked there. Even though they were long dead, the woman was too tied up in the webs to get away. She has caused many crimes against her will on the innocence. Everywhere she went, death followed. Soon, she was named Thana, Bringer of Death. The mere thought of her sent shivers down people's spines. Not that he blamed them. He too thought the same, until he met the so called ruthless killer.
That ruthless killer was anything but what rumours say. The woman he found was broken. The things she was forced to do have scarred her for life. There were times when he couldn't get her out of her mind and memories. Every night, without fail, she had nightmares of the things she did. Only when he slept next to her did she have a peaceful night. She never spoke about the things she seen or done. Ben didn't need to be told, he read the files. For every death she caused, scars covered her skin like decorations. Either they were placed on her by outside force, or by herself. They reminded her of every dream she crushed and of the smiles and laughter no longer to be heard. Families and friends who died alone and lives cut too short before their time. Of all those dead bodies, looking up at her with lifeless eyes as she turned her back on them and walked away.
Ben wanted to tell the Plumbers of her true self. He wanted to show them the woman she really was and not the persona she was forced to hide behind. That same woman he fell in love with, somewhere down the road. But he couldn't do that. He'd put her in danger, since some Plumbers may be spies or criminals ready to sell the information. He did, however, introduce her to the inner circle, but not in person. These Plumbers knew of her alliance to them, but not the relationship she had with their precious hero. Only Gwen and Grandpa Max knew of their real relationship. Thana told her husband everything and handed over what documents she could get her hands on. He, in turn, passed on the information and documents to the Plumbers.
With these, the Plumbers now could move forward to shut down the criminal organization once and for all. The problem was the timing, which led them to argue for so long. Half of them wanted to march down in the next few days to the secret HQ's and arrest everyone. The other half wanted to take the approach of 'wait-and-see'. It became a tie, because Ben couldn't figure out what he wanted. Both sides had good arguments, but their conflictions were too much for a tired mind to figure out. With that the meeting ended, sending everyone home. All they could do now was wait for the famous hero to make his decision.
Ben made his way to the master bedroom with stealth-like silence. It was something that he gained from years of being a hero. The last thing that he wanted to do was wake his wife, who returned from a brutal mission two weeks ago. That mission left her with something more than a scar. His stomach turned as he remembered the state he found her in. The memory still gave him nightmares of worse possibilities. The man shook his head sharply, trying to forget about them. He turned his attention back to his shared bedroom, and saw a figure sat on a window seat. Ben stood there, mesmerizing the figure.
If Thana was to be compared to any divine being, he'd have picked that of a fallen angel. Her athletic, average height form rested on the brown cushions. Her red ruby eyes stared at the outdoors. Those same eyes once being brown, she said, before her father's experiments on her changed them. Her straight long ankle-length midnight hair released from its usual braid. This allowed it to fall around her body like water, with effortless wonder. Wearing one of his larger shirts and a pair of shorts, her legs were in complete view. Covered with the mentioned scars, one could tell the difference between the ones from battles and her own. The ones from battles were random in size and length, with no real consistency other than how harsh they looked. Hers were small, but deep cuts, sometimes grouped together with a line through them. They appeared much neater with careful care.
Ben frowned when he took notice of how small she tried to make herself appear. Curled into a ball, she grabbed one of her arms… or rather, the lack of it. The sleeve painted in blood, but her face kept a careful blank look. Yet, from the way she clenched the sleeve with a shaken hand, the man knew she was in great pain. Thana lost her arm in her latest mission. She cut it off from where it met her shoulder, in order to save a life. All she ever told him was that her arm became useless and nothing could be done about it. She didn't care for it, the woman tried to convince him, but Ben knew that this devastated her. His green eyes wandered to the broken flute that rested up against a wall in the bedchamber. The one thing that brought her comfort from early age could never be used again.
"Thana" Ben announced his entrance as he walked up to her. His wife's eyes snapped up to meet his. Her body stiffened for a moment before relaxing. "What are you doing still up?"
"I couldn't sleep"
She whispered, with a tone of pain. The brown headed man rested on an empty spot on the window seat. His hands reached out to the bloody sleeve, but stopped before he touched it. Their eyes met once more, communicating. He gestured at her hand on the sleeve. With a grunt, Thana let go of it and looked away. The sleeve got folded a few times, to show red bandages inside. With a sigh, Ben without a word got up and went to get their first-aid kit. It wasn't the average first-aid kit. This one was much bigger, which could rival that of an average hospital. When one considered how many injures both of them get together, this wasn't enough, they joked once. In this instance, Ben hoped that it'd be enough to at least stop the bleeding until tomorrow. Tomorrow he could get his usual healer to come by and check on her arm.
Once back in his seat, he opened the box and set it aside. First, he needed to unwrap the bloody bandages. As if reading his mind, Thana already started to take off the shirt. Half way through, she got stuck, still not used to doing things with one arm. Ben held back his laughter at how she looked, but didn't bother to do the same thing with the smile. The body turned to him, and he felt a glare sent his way.
"Help me with this or I swear I'll show you why people fear me."
Thana hissed with dark promise. It made Ben snort and chuckle with little control. He couldn't take her serious in this position.
"Cute. I know where you hide your secret stash of chocolate bars. I can make some serious cash for sharing that little information. Imagine, Thana, Bringer of Death, having a giant sweet tooth."
"And I'm sure your enemies will love to know that you're afraid of peacocks. Who knows, you might find a few of their feathers in your belongings. It'd be a surprise to see a living one in our living room."
The woman cackled. It made her husband almost groan at the obvious defeat. He muttered:
"Fine, your chocolate bars are safe for another day."
"Great, now help me get out of this thing."
"That thing is my shirt."
Ben countered with a smirk at the obvious statement his wife made by putting it on. He ignored her half naked body as he gently helped her take it off. He frowned when he saw her wince and grabbed her fresh injury. Strong fingers wrapped around her hand and gently pried them off. After giving that hand a comforting squeeze, the brown headed man focused on undoing the bandages. The room stayed silent during that activity. The white mixed red bandages slowly reached the floor, before the last unwrap made them tumble under the force of gravity. Having seen many injuries in his life, Ben kept a straight face as he stared at the injury. If it was any normal being, it'd have made them dizzy with sickness. That or they'd faint. He noted with a nod of satisfaction that there was no infection. He took out some medical stuff along with fresh bandages from the box. Ben asked while handing over to her a sugar cube:
"Did you take your pain killers?"
Thana looked at him with tired red eyes.
"I've taken all of them."
Ben looked at her in shock at the revelation. His throat dried up as he tried to wrap his head around the new information.
"All of- what were you thinking? You're supposed to take only a few of them-"
Thana didn't meet his eyes. She looked back outside the window and answered before popping the sugar cube into her mouth.
"It hurt too much."
Ben didn't know how to respond to that. So he didn't. Instead, he refocused his attention to something else that needed it more than pain killers did. Doing what the healer said and showed him, the famous hero cleaned up the dried and fresh blood before wrapping it up. Nothing was said between them. The only sounds heard were the one groan of pain and a few sugar cubes breaking under the force of the teeth. With a tie, the husband pulled back and admired his work.
He looked at Thana, who nodded in thanks. She got up and made her way to the walking closet. A minute later, returning with another one of his big shirts, putting it on with little difficulty. Ben turned to his older shirt, which got thrown to the side, forgotten. After it got picked up, it was placed with the other dirty clothes. Good thing it wasn't white, or else it'd be impossible to get the blood off.
With a quick shower and doing his usual business, he returned to the bedchamber where Thana sat on the edge of their bed. When he walked closer, he saw from his angle the broken flute pieces in her hand. Ben's heart sank at the sight. Making his way over, he sat next to her. Thana spoke up, acknowledging his presence:
"Was it worth it…?"
Green eyes looked at her in confusion.
"Playing the hero, for once, and losing an arm in the process." Ruby eyes looked up into his with a pained look. "I'm a villain. You're the hero between us."
"Thana, you aren't a villain, how many times do I have-"
"Yes I am!" She snapped. "Heroes don't go around getting people killed."
"And villains don't feel anything to those they bring pain." Ben replied softly and quietly, knowing it wasn't best to raise his voice. "But you do. Thana, you saved a baby. That makes you a hero."
"I don't think that saving a baby will redeem me in the eyes of the public. To them, they'll forever be horrified and confused as to why you married me." Thana's hand wrapped around the flute tightly, her fist shook under the weight of emotions. Those emotions she tried to suppress for so long. "I can't ever get away from them."
She pulled her the first drawer of her bedside table, threw the flute pieces in and slammed it shut. Without another word, she got under the blankets and pulled it over her head. Ben's eyes darkened at how hopeless she sounded, like she lost all hope. He got under the covers and brought her into his arms gently, so to not hurt her. The action caused the blanket to uncover her head. Thana looked up at him for a moment before settling into a comfortable position in his arms. She closed her eyes, hoping to get a good night rest.
"I know that things aren't easy. And I know that you won't believe me when I say that we'll get you out of there. But never doubt me when I say that I love you."
Ruby eyes fluttered open to look up into a loving green pair. She smiled with a touch of softness and tilted her body in a way to allow her remaining arm some freedom. She raised a hand to rest it on his cheek. The thumb stroked through his beard in a loving manner. She whispered:
"I know. I love you too."
Ben lifted his body to hover over hers. The two shared a long, meaningful kiss with hidden messages and emotions poured in. It didn't last long, due to tiresome from both parties. They resettled in their previous position, holding each other close. The brown headed man looked down at his wife, as he thought about what she said and the meeting. I'll have to get a meeting set up tomorrow, after the healer leaves. We'll take down that organization sooner rather than later. I will not have Thana live like this any longer. With that final thought, sleep overtook him. That night, no nightmares visited the couple.