Hey guys -- this is a Benlie fanfic, because there definitely aren't enough. I HOPE everyone caught "Voided" because it was only the most awesome thing ever. D: I swear, if this show gets any cooler, I might explode a bit.
Ben was just going to come out and admit it:
He was great with aliens.
And horrible with girls.
His first big crush, Kai Green, had led him on and then crushed his advances swiftly. He knew she hadn't meant it – she was only a kid after all. But that encounter was enough to make the young Ben swear off girls forever. Being an Alien Hero was an important job – he couldn't let something as utterly and completely lame as a girlfriend get in his way, could he?
For awhile, it wasn't so hard. Most girls were just gross, in Ben's opinion. They reminded him of his cousin Gwen: loud-mouthed, always butting their nose into everything, and giggling non-stop. The mighty roars of Vilgax paled in comparison to the shrieks of his female classmates as they listened to cute boy bands. They were obsessed with fashions in magazines, movie stars with blue eyes, and shoes. Shoes. How could you possibly be that crazy about something you put your sweaty feet into?
But the girls must've done something to themselves, because around the time Ben turned thirteen, they weren't so gross anymore. He liked watching Marina Pinsker brush her blonde hair behind her ear in science class. Rachel Finnigan's mini-skirts attracted Ben's eye whenever she got up from her seat in the cafeteria. He looked forward to Heather Nelson's hourly ritual of smacking on lip-gloss. The girls were definitely becoming more interesting, and Ben found himself in quite a conundrum: it was hard not to be around girls, but it was just as hard to be around them. His stomach did flips and his tongue got tied every time a pretty girl even said "hi" in the hallway.
He wanted more than once to ask a girl out. But every time he got up the nerve, memories of Kai Green would come flooding back to him in waves, drowning out his hopes and his guts. Humiliation wasn't something he looked forward to. So he kept to himself when it came to females. Nothing ventured, nothing crushed, right?
And then her.
He hadn't even noticed her at the game. He'd been too busy, wrapped up in the soccer match. Even if he had noticed her, even if he had noted how pretty she was, he never would have had the guts to go up and speak to her.
But she did.
He should've known from the beginning that Julie Yamamoto was going to be a firecracker. She had no inhibitions about going right up to Ben and saying "hi". Ben had been shocked at first – a girl actually seeking him out? Now that was a new one. But at the same time, it was nice to know that he didn't have to get up the courage to talk to her.
He had gotten tongue-tied, of course. As he rode back on his bike, he cursed himself, running over the conversation in his head and muttering how stupid he was. "I'm going to show it to my Grandpa?" he'd asked the air incredulously. "She doesn't know who Grandpa is! Why would she care, stupid?"
And he had been ready to give up right then. Avoid her at school, not catch her eye, never speak to her again. That way she couldn't make fun of him for his babbling. But Julie wasn't about to let him get away with that.
"Hey Ben!" she had smiled, waving to him in the hallways. "What's up?"
"O-Oh nothing!" he had shrugged, trying to control his pink face. "I mean, I'm cool."
"What'd your Grandpa say?" she'd asked, and his eyes widened. "About your award?"
"O-Oh…Grandpa!" He couldn't believe it. She'd actually remembered their conversation? And she was actually interested? She cared who Grandpa was? "Umm…" he had tried to think of a hasty lie. After all, the events of that day had been too topsy-turvy for even him. "Not much, you know, congrats. Stuff like that. He's really busy – going on a…business trip."
"Where does he work?"
"H-He's a Plumber!" Ben smiled, the inside-joke never getting old.
"Plumbers have business trips?" Julie had asked him, bemused. "What? Is a sink clogged in China or something?"
"Something like that," Ben laughed.
"Hey, don't we have Physics together?" she'd asked before walking off with him down the hallway, the conversation far more fluid than their previous one.
It continued like that: Julie would always find some excuse to talk to him in the hallway, and Physics class became a lot more fun with Julie sitting next to him. She'd talk about tennis and science, he'd talk about soccer and his friends. They'd joke, laugh, and have fun together, and Ben started to gather just a bit of hope within his chest.
She liked him.
But he didn't dare to hope too far. I mean, there were signs, yes. But there were also signs that she just liked him as a friend – like that time that she had just waved to him in the hall before going onto her next class, or the time that she had gone to tennis practice without saying goodbye to him, or the time—
"Are you trying to think of reasons not to ask her out?" Gwen had asked him as he listed off all these instances.
Asking her out? Ben hadn't even gotten that far yet. He was still trying to determine whether or not he had a viable chance. Gwen, however, didn't like Ben's "wait and see" attitude. "Go to her tennis match!" she'd offered. "Ask her out there!"
"I-I don't know…"
Gwen had encouraged him all the way there, Kevin grumbling in the front seat. Something about being a chauffeur and how tennis was a sport for dumb rich people. "She always talks to you, she laughs at all your bad jokes! She definitely likes you!" she'd insisted, but Ben wasn't sold.
"Look, she waved!" she'd observed as they sat at the match. Even Ben had to admit that was a good signal. She had other classmates in the stands – but she'd singled him out. Maybe. "You should definitely ask her out!"
"No way!" Ben jumped. He was nervous, his mind was racing. He wasn't ready yet. He hadn't thought of what to say. What if she laughed at him? Or ignored him? Or worse—
"Sorry Ben," she'd say, "I just thought you were kinda funny. Like a little lost puppy or something. I thought I could train you—"
Her face and Kai's seemed to mesh together in his mind's eye, her short black hair mixing with Kai's long blue. Her pale skin and Kai's mocha complexion becoming synonymous. But their expression was the same: disgust. Complete and utter disgust.
He couldn't do it. Not today. Probably not tomorrow either. He'd rather wrestle a Highbreed than ask Julie out right about—
"Ooof!" Gwen pushed him back to Julie when he had tried to retreat valiantly.
"Back so soon?" she'd asked, shooting him that sweet, flirty smile.
This was it – he couldn't run away for fear of looking like a complete freak. Gwen had successfully trapped him. "So…Julie…I was wondering if you…wanted to go out…sometime?"
She paused, and Ben waited for it. For the rejection. For the laugh. For the "you're kidding". Any second now…
Run that back.
She'd said yes.
She'd definitely said yes.
She'd frickin' said YES!
For the first time in his life, freaky-watch boy Ben Tennyson had a girl who wanted to go out on a date with him. A girl who actually liked him enough to want to spend an hour or two in his company. She didn't think he was "funny" or "strange". She thought he was interesting. She thought he was nice. She thought he was attractive.
And he thought all that about her too. All that and more. He liked Julie. He'd never admitted it out loud to anyone – not even Gwen. But he liked her. A lot. So much. Every day when she said "hi" to him, or asked him about his day, or answered a question enthusiastically in Physics…he felt happy.
Ben Tennyson. Happy with a girl.
It was a flippin' miracle.
So when Ship had shown up and tried to crash their date with his imitation of a killer bumper car, Ben had been less than amused. What was worse was when he'd realized he'd basically abandoned Julie.
"Sorry! You would not believe the line!" he'd made up a lame excuse, trying to save this date he'd worked for five years to get.
"Ben, there's nobody here," she observed, and Ben cursed himself. She was way too smart for that.
"…Except at the concession stands! Where they're doing great business!" he'd flashed a dorky smile, trying to joke his way out of the situation. He wanted her to smile at him like she always did when he said something dumb. He wanted her to shrug and bat her eyelashes. Anything. Anything except what she did.
"I thought you had stood me up."
His heart stopped for a second as he processed what she'd said. Was she serious? She actually thought he'd stood her up? Him? Ben Tennyson? The biggest loser in the universe who'd been so hurt by a crushed crush five years ago that he'd avoided girls all together for far longer than was healthy? The idiot who had been ready to give up on her after one botched conversation? The absolute and complete moron who had been waiting five years for someone like her to come around?
She couldn't be more wrong! Wasn't it obvious to her? How much he wanted her? How much he needed her? She wasn't just a crush – she was a realization. A wake-up call telling him that he wasn't as worthless as he thought. Just by being there with him tonight, she made him feel on top of the world! That night – the night the two of them were sharing right now – it was everything to him.
Stand her up?
"Julie…I'd never do that to you."