Once a week, they get together at Kevin's house to watch TV. It's become a ritual—they put aside schoolwork, parties, and alien hunting just for this. They don't always agree on what to watch—Gwen's medical soap operas set the guys laughing, and she doesn't get their senses of humor for the comedies. Ironically enough for a trio of alien hunters, it's usually sci fi. Kevin won't watch Doctor Who ever since they met Paradox, since the main character is just too much like him. Torchwood is decent, but almost unwatchable since the time one of them (they don't remember who) jokingly called the Plumbers an unholy cross between the Torchwood organization and the Green Lanterns, and now they crack up too easily. Star Trek's okay, depending on the season and how seriously they feel like taking it. Stargate they can usually agree on, even if not always which series. Some days, they feel like Heroes. Whatever they watch, for a moment, it gives them a chance to forget what they need to do and just remember to be kids.

            It's a lesson Ben has held onto ever since the Omnitrix first latched onto him. He even still keeps up with his comics, though not as many as in the past. He still likes Superman, even though he's had most of Superman's powers spread out through all of his alien forms. No one ever calls him on it; the closest they've ever gotten is a crack from Kevin about forming the Justice League of Aliens, but that's it. It's like there's a kind of respect for the fictional superhero that they won't admit.

            'Cause really, now that Ben thinks about it, he kind of wishes he could be Superman. It's not like when he was a kid, thinking about the power side of the equation. Now, he keeps thinking about what Grandpa Max told Kevin about earning his Plumber's badge and how the League always calls Superman a big blue Boy Scout. Superman never operates outside the law; he always believes in the best of mankind, even when there are people like Lex Luthor out to prove the worst. He's never jaded the way they are: Kevin still says they'd never forgive him for some of the things he's done that they don't know about yet, Gwen's got a cynical edge and a dark side that threaten to creep up every now and again, and Ben sometimes wonders if he's forgotten what it's like to be that ten-year-old who loved being a hero and if he's already on his way to being that super-powerful cynic loner in a possible future who's forgotten what it's like to be human, much less a hero.

            But he also knows he can't afford to be Superman. Not now, when the only way they can get the tech they need to fight the DNAliens from shady deals Kevin goes out on and they try not to ask about. Not when Kevin's got to try and keep himself off the straight and narrow, keep that little bit of grey that lets him broker deals for the money and tech they need and pick up a little bit of info here and there from criminals that feel relaxed enough to loosen their lips. Not when family members and friends are in danger, and Gwen's alternatively trying to play therapist in place of Grandpa Max or needing therapy from them instead. Not when Ben has ten powerful alien forms and still fails to protect the people he cares about, and catches himself wondering if it would just be easier to throw one or the other away: Omnitrix or humanity, and choose to be a normal teenager or Ben 10,000.

            Not when a night watching people boldly go where no one has gone before or watching a mismatched team of deadpan soldiers, warriors, and civilians fighting gods or watching people jump at the call to be heroes with a cry of "Yatta!" doesn't mean an hour of entertainment, but rather an hour of being human, being sane.

            But if Ben's learned one thing, it's that nothing lasts forever—including the bad. The Borg can be defeated, the Goa'uld tyranny can be toppled, and Sylar can be stopped. People won't kneel before Zod forever. Even that victory may not last forever, but it's something to strive for—a peace in the middle of the neverending battle that reminds you why you're fighting and that everything is cyclic: the world needs to be saved and it will be saved, and if you're despairing that it has to start all over again, then you're on your way to becoming a villain because they're the ones who don't care about the balance. Heroes do. So do those in-between.

            Someday, they'll feel like heroes. But for now, they'd prefer to watch the ones better suited for it.

Ben 10: Alien Force is the property of Cartoon Network, and the other fandoms referenced within belong to their respective parent companies. This piece came about from the mental prompt of "some days, they feel like heroes" and the fact that Alien Force is produced, written, and voiced by various people from the DC animated canons.