Author's notes: I must be out of my mind, starting a new story when I've got so many unfinished ones to work on. But these stupid plot bunnies won't let me sleep, so I need to let them out before I go crazy.
The title comes from the Paramore song Emergency (because I'm horrible at coming up with titles, it seemed to fit, and I've had it stuck in my head for about three days now). Not a songfic... I just thought it fit.
Carl Tennyson quickly looked up at the ceiling, as if it would speak and say, "Yes, you're right- the loud noise you just heard came from upstairs."
Ignoring it, he went back to reading a book. Half a sentence in, he heard the noise again.
This was getting extremely irritating now. What was going on? It was one in the morning; no one was awake, as far as he knew. Sandra, his wife, had fallen asleep watching television hours ago, and he couldn't bear to wake her up. Turning off the tiny green plastic clip-on reading light his teenage son Ben had given to him for his birthday, Carl paused and looked at his wife, fast asleep on the black leather couch. He set his book down on the glass coffee table and stumbled through the dark room. Brushing aside the angel-covered throw blanket covering her face, he kissed her on the cheek, wondering why she hadn't heard whatever sounds that were coming from upstairs.
And then he realized that it was silent again, right after he moved. Confused, Carl attempted to make his way across the room to the staircase, only to trip on the elegant Persian rug on the floor, landing flat on his face.
Darn it, he should have used the damn book light to see with.
"Carl?" his wife inquired, her voice rather groggy from sleep. "What time is it?"
"A little after one…" he replied. "Did you just hear something?"
"You mean my clumsy husband tripping ever-so gracefully? Why yes, I do believe I heard that," she tiredly answered with a coy smile.
"No, not that… I heard something upstairs."
"It's probably just Ben getting up to go to the bathroom or something, Carl."
"Sandra, it was pretty loud."
"He just inherited his father's grace, that's all. Now, I propose we go to bed. And not in front of the television."
Carl hesitantly agreed, but insisted that they check on Ben.
Making his way up the stairs (without tripping, this time), he turned the corner. "No, it doesn't look like Ben's up. I'll be over in a minute," he told his wife, whispering so as to not wake his son.
Entering the pitch-black room, he realized he didn't need to worry about Ben waking up after one look at his son.
"Sandra!" he shouted, his voice cracking a bit, "Call nine-one-one."
Gwen Tennyson woke up, hearing the piercing telephone ring run through her ears. She leaned up a bit to see the annoyingly bright red numbers on her digital alarm clock, and then let herself fall back onto her soft pillows. What moron would call her house at nearly two in the morning? She knew that it was summer and there was no school, but there was no reason for socializing in the middle of the night.
Kevin, she thought immediately, before letting herself fall back to sleep. Only moments later, she slept through the thundering of footsteps in the hallway outside her room.
The next thing she knew, her mother was shaking her awake. "Gwen, honey, wake up."
"What is it, Mom? Can't it wait 'til morning, when I'm conscious?"
Her mother shook her head. "It's Ben, honey."
Gwen sat up straight in bed, alerting her mother that she was listening.
"Ben's hurt, sweetie… He's in the hospital. We have to go…" her mother trailed off, already halfway out of the room.
She jumped out of bed, grabbing the first outfit she could find out of her closet, not even bothering to turn on the light and see if it matched. Ben was in the hospital… He was hurt, and she didn't know how bad, or why it happened… It couldn't be too bad, right? Ben fought aliens everyday. There were always bruises and scratches, but Ben was a tough guy. He could handle himself. Gwen didn't want to think too much right now; not about how close they had become (a far cry from the annoying love-hate relationship from years past), not how much he meant to her.
So she cleared everything out of her mind. It wasn't until the redhead was fully dressed, teeth and hair brushed, that she got up the courage to ask the question whose answer she'd been dreading.
"Mom?" she shouted out of the bathroom.
"Hmm?" her mother answered from across the hall.
"Mom, what happened?" Gwen hollered again, shimmying past her somewhat distraught father as he entered and she exited the bathroom.
Coming face to face with her mother, Gwen's eyes pleaded for answers. What had happened to Ben, and why didn't her mother want to talk about it? Her mother had shiny tears running down her face, flickers of fear running through her eyes. They stood in silence for a moment.
Frank Tennyson stuck his head outside of the bathroom and broke through the quiet, looking his sorrowful wife in the eye. "Maybe I should tell her, dear," he said with a slight quiver in his voice.
Gwen turned to her father, seeing the same fear running through his gaze. Were they afraid that whatever happened to Ben would happen to her? What made her parents so afraid? Ben couldn't be dead… But why were they being so… quiet?
Frank led his daughter to her room and sat on the slightly rumpled bed, the sign of someone who hadn't had the time to finish messing up the bed during sleep.
"Dad…" Gwen whispered, sucking in air, bracing herself.
"It looks like he tried to kill himself, Gwen."
All the air she had inhaled came out quickly and painfully, and she heard a sob rip from somewhere. Not Ben… He was so levelheaded, so strong, so…
It wasn't until she was forced to inhale again that she realized the sob she heard came from her, and that her father, still clad in his gaudily plaid but soft robe, held her in his arms.
But why wasn't she reassured?
Gwen swept her long, hastily brushed hair out of her eyes as she looked through the backseat window of her father's shiny new car.
She had been thinking the same thing as she left the house- what did everything look like when you knew it was the last time you would see it? Gwen thought of the subtle shadows in her dark kitchen as she sprint out the door, and the not-so-hidden "no-tell motels" along the highway with their signs mentioning "cable TV," so brightly lit that you think you can see every speck of dirt on it with one glance. She remembered what Ben always said about them- about the fact that there probably wasn't any neon in the "no" part of the "no vacancy" sign, because they were never full. Another memory of him…
Was she just noticing these things because she was afraid Ben would never have the chance to again? Or was she wondering what he had seen when he looked at her that last time, knowing that she had no clue what he had planned for himself?
All of the thoughts Gwen had tried to ignore earlier had resurfaced; it was stronger than before now that she knew what was going on. What had she done wrong to keep Ben from getting hurt? She had a mothering instinct to her, and she needed him to need her. Gwen needed to be as calm as she could in many situations, to keep Ben and Kevin calm. She needed Ben to talk to her, to tell her his problems. It made her feel useful, loved. Why hadn't Ben come to her this time?
And right now, she needed to hold her cousin in her arms, like her father had earlier.
But she immediately was shocked at herself earlier. For the first time, she wasn't reassured by her father's loving hugs and embraces. What if Ben had lost that same reassurance? What did she do?
So many questions! But so few answers…
Letting her green eyes zone out to the dark streets outside, she faintly heard her father speaking on his cell phone.
As he snapped the phone shut, she jumped in her seat, snapping back to reality.
"Well," Frank stated, "we have a bit more of an update."
His wife turned to him from the passenger's seat. "Good news?"
"Some. Well, no. Umm… The situation's not as bad as we originally thought."
Gwen, who had braced herself for bad news, though curious, was not relieved. She would not be so stupid this time- she wouldn't be so optimistic.
"They don't think he tried to commit suicide, now. Carl said he found Ben unconscious in bed, with his wrists bleeding and a gash on his head."
Gwen let herself breathe. She had worried for nothing! But Ben was still hurt… and she didn't know why.
But… what if someone got to him? Their alien-fighting life and their home life did not mesh often. She was nervous again, but not as nervous as she had been before when she thought that Ben did it to himself.
"He heard some noises, so he checked on Ben. That's when they found him. They're thinking there was a struggle…."
That's my Ben, Gwen thought.
"What changed, Dad?" she inquired.
"Well, they found some of Ben's blood on a textbook on the bottom of a textbook on the desk. And one of the cuts on his wrist looks like it was done by accident… They think it's something about that watch Ben wears… The one we saw when he turned into an alien when Grandma Verdona visited?"
Everything immediately clicked.
"So someone knocked out Ben to get the Omnitrix, but ran into trouble when they tried to get it off. They must have accidentally cut his wrist, so they cut the other one to throw off suspicion when they heard movement downstairs, when Ben's dad got up…" she blurted out, not pausing to explain what the Omnitrix was or why Ben always wore it. They got the idea of it, that it turned him into aliens.
Her parents looked confused.
Gwen sighed. "Is Ben going to be okay?"
Relived that he actually was in the know for something, her father replied, "They think so. The cut on his right wrist was much deeper than the one on his left. He lost a bit of blood, between that, the cut on his other wrist, and the gash on his head. He hasn't woken up yet," he added, answering Gwen's next, but unspoken, question.
So Ben was going to be okay. He was hurt, and unconscious, but still okay.
"What the hell do you want, Gwen! It's freaking three in the morning, for crying out loud!" the sixteen-year-old cried out, somewhat groggy, as Gwen had been only an hour before.
"Kevin, Ben's in the hospital."
"Yeah? So, what did the moron do this time? Trip over the carpet while trying to go to the bathroom? That's what the light is for, Gwen."
"Kevin! I just got a call saying that Ben tried to kill himself."
"What? Didn't know he had it in him..." Kevin muttered. He heard the "tried," so he assumed that Ben's suicide attempt had been unsuccessful, allowing a wisecrack.
"Hey! Don't be so worried. They don't think it was suicide, Kevin," she replied, letting the sarcasm ooze from her mouth. She'd been sitting in the waiting room for a while, but she couldn't begin to fathom what her Uncle Carl and Aunt Sandra were going through right then. They'd been there for nearly two hours. Apparently, they were waiting for Ben to be moved into a room... It was taking forever, so she slipped outside to call Kevin.
"Is that so?" But he sounded a little concerned, so she let it pass. She explained the situation to him, not leaving anything out.
"But there are a ton of people after the Omnitrix, Gwen, how could you possibly narrow it down?"
She didn't know.
"Wait a second," Kevin said under his breath. "Who'd be so stupid to try and cut off the Omnitrix? That's pretty idiotic. No wonder Ben got cut up in the process."
"That just means that we're dealing with..."
"A dumbass," Kevin interrupted.
"I was going to say someone new or not very knowlegeable, but..." Gwen trailed off.
"I'll see what I can find out, Gwen. Are you okay?" he inquired, seeming more concerned all of a sudden.
"I already told you, Ben's fine, Kevin-"
"Not Ben. You."
It was the first time she had been asked that.
"I'll be okay when I know Ben's back to normal."
There was an awkward silence for a moment. And although he didn't say it, she knew he was thinking, Okay, I tried, to take care of her, Tennyson! But she didn't care about herself. At least, not right then.
"Well... okay. I guess I'll talk to you tomorrow, then." said Kevin.
"Don't you mean today?"
"Gwen. Three a.m."
"Alright, I'll let you get your beauty rest."
"Ha, ha. G'night."
"Good morning, Kevin."
"You... infuriate me sometimes, y'know that, Gwen?"
"'Infuriate'? Did you learn a new word, Kevin?"
Kevin pretended to growled, and then hung up.
Oh, she knew Kevin would be a good distraction.
Gwen walked back into the waiting room, only to notice that the Tennysons (her parents and Ben's parents) were no where to be found.
After getting directions from a nurse, the redhead stepped into the elevator and pressed the correct button. She found herself actually wishing for that annoying elevator music- anything would be better than the prolonged silences she kept experiencing.
Her mother ambushed her as soon as the elevator stopped. "Oh, Gwen! Where were you?"
"Mom, it's fine. I just called Kevin to let him know what was going on."
Frank walked up to his frowning wife, and said, "Well, she's here now."
Ah, Gwen knew she could count on her dad to bail her out.
"Good news, Gwen," her father said, "you can see Ben now. We were already in, and..."
She stopped listening, and just followed. Immediately after he spoke, Gwen lost every spark of good spirt left in her. Walking into a sickingly modern waiting room (the builders tried too hard- like no one could see through the quickly chosen forest green furniture, beige walls, and purple geometric carpet to see the overwhelming hospital), she began to panic.
There was no more time to think, as she found herself alone at the door of a small hospital room. The first thing she noticed was that Ben's room was stark white. It looked as if the curtains had be starched, they were so stiff, and Gwen found herself longing- no, aching!- for a speck of the pathetically comforting color from the waiting room.
He looked asleep, she thought. Almost normal. Except, of course, for the gauze on his forehead, covering a gash, and the bandages wound around his arms. But there were no machines or IVs, and she knew he'd be fine. She plopped down next to a very exhausted Uncle Carl in a chair right next to the bed.
"You look tired, Uncle Carl."
"I am. I stayed up reading until I heard..." he trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence.
They gave each other a knowing look. They knew he'd be okay... But it was not a fun topic to talk about.
"I'll stay here for a while. Why don't you get try to catch some Z's in the waiting room? The couch looks comfy."
He rolled his eyes. "Yipee, orange pleather, here I come."
"It is a bit tacky, isn't it?"
Carl chuckled. "That it is, Gwen."
He left the room, leaving Gwen alone with her cousin. Once he left, she moved the chair closer to the bed.
She wasn't a bit tired, actually. She was just so glad Ben was okay. She felt peaceful, sitting next to him like that, stroking his dark hair, holding his hand... She felt complete again. As Gwen's mothering instincts kicked in, she loved every second of it. She needed someone to need her...
And then, without warning, Ben's eyes fluttered open. "Gwen?" he whispered, sounding slightly weak.
Oh, she was so happy to see his bright green eyes, so much like her own, open again!
Before she knew it, her arms were around him. And for the first time since she found out Ben was hurt, she let herself cry.
Author's notes: Now, I'm not sure how often I'll update, but the plot bunnies are torturing me so much that I hope it's once a week. I'm planning some light GwEvin, with this being a huge Gwen fic. I don't think we see her emotions that much on the show, so it'll be fun exploring that. And it contains lots of Ben!Angst, which I LOVE. So, make me happy and go write Ben!Angst fics!
Please review, and I'll give you a cookie! (Kevin likes black and white cookies!)