Ben was used to a pretty delicate balance in his family: Keep the Omnitrix a secret from everyone but Gwen and Grandpa. Alien stuff gets shoved in the back of the closet and only gets brought out in an emergency and even then in secret, like putting the Omnitrix back on after five years and still keeping a secret identity. But over the past year, that balance had gotten shaken up ridiculously. It was strange having Mom and Dad know now, but in a way, it was kind of nice. No more secrets, no more lies.
Extended family, however, particularly on Mom's side, was supposed to be kept in the dark. The Tennysons were used to weirdness. The Wildeys? Not so much. So when Mom's cousin from Florida decided to stop by with his adopted brother and a friend of theirs, Ben was sure to be careful about the alien stuff. Sure, he told Mom and Dad when he needed to take care of a situation, but to Jonny? "Sorry, got to ask Julie for help on my homework." Or the standard "I forgot I promised to help Gwen with something!" Jonny would just give him a puzzled look as he barreled out the door.
This kind of thing was not supposed to happen:
Jonny's tone was completely nonchalant as he put away his sidearm and watched a halfway-panicked Ben transform back from Humongousaur. Only a little while ago, Jonny and his friends had grabbed Ben as a guide to find their way through Bellwood. But as they drove through the desert, Jonny noticed the temperature drop as they got closer to Los Soledad, and he wanted to investigate. Ben tried to talk him out of it, and the next thing any of them knew, they'd gotten attacked by DNAliens and Ben was forced to go alien. It had barely registered with him that Jonny, Hadji, and Jessie immediately grabbed guns and started helping, but Jonny was supposed to be working with the FBI or something, and maybe he'd ended up drawing his friends into danger with his job. Still, this was not normal, not even by Ben's standards.
"I can explain," he started weakly.
"Actually, I don't know whether to be impressed or facepalm," Jonny confessed.
This wasn't the kind of reaction Ben expected. "What?"
"This kind of thing happens to Quests all the time," Hadji explained. "I would have thought it would be confined to the Quest side of the family…"
"Yeah," Jonny agreed. "I guess there's something on the Wildey side too. Mix it with Quest bloodlines, get me. Mix it with Tennyson bloodlines, get…"
"Aliens," Jessie finished. Then, surveying the damage all four of them had caused fighting off the DNAliens, she said, "You know, we could always go with a variant of 'What the hell, Jonny!'"
"Good point," Jonny answered. "What the hell, Ben?"
Ben sighed. That was more the reaction he was expecting.
"Grab a rock and sit down," he said. "It's a long story."
Jonny rolled his eyes. "What other kind is there?"
It was the second time in two weeks that Ben had to go through the story of his summer vacation. Jonny, Hadji, and Jessie took it far better than Mom and Dad had, and finally, after a while, it became clear that they were struggling to hold in laughter. They stopped whenever Ben brought up the worst events in his five-year alien fighting career, but there were just points where Jessie would elbow Jonny, who would smirk, and Hadji would give them both an amused look.
"…And you look like you already know what I'm talking about," Ben realized at the end of his story.
"More like it sounds like someone else we know," Jessie said, and both she and Hadji looked at Jonny, who by now had burst into laughter completely.
"Yeah," he said, trying to catch his breath. "Oh, man. Ben, I swear, that's my life in a nutshell. Maybe less aliens and more paranormal stuff, but…"
"Wait," Ben interrupted. "You did all this stuff too?"
"Jonny's been doing this stuff almost all his life," Jessie said. "Then he decided to become a federal agent. I swear, you take more after my dad than I do."
"Hey, you're the one who's studying my dad's theories and trying to follow in his footsteps," Jonny argued.
"In any case," Hadji interrupted, cutting off the age-old argument, "Jonny and I have been traveling the world on adventures since we were at least ten. Things settled down for a while, but when we were about fourteen, it started again."
"And then we dragged Jessie along, whenever it was Race's turn for custody," Jonny continued. "I don't know how social services let any of us stay with Dad and Race, what with all the stuff we went through."
"Like the time you and Race were handcuffed and had to make a death run on his old training grounds?" Hadji asked.
"Or the time Jessie got brainwashed by Surd," Jonny remembered.
"Hey!" Jessie cried. "What about the time you and I got cloned, and I had to beat your double for you?"
"That's only 'cause you were the only one with a weapon! And remember Hadji's bad luck with girls?"
"Oh, how could I forget? First, that vampire, and then one of Zin's daughters!"
"I seem to remember you two kissed that one time in Canada," Hadji reminded them, to their looks of horror.
"Hey! That doesn't count!" Jonny protested.
"We were possessed!" Jessie agreed.
The smirk on Hadji's face didn't fade, and Ben gave the Quest team a surprised look. "Wow. You guys really do know what I'm talking about."
"We've led interesting lives," Jonny answered. "It was fun, back in the day. Dad let us play with all his prototypes…"
"Even though some of them should have gone through more testing first," Hadji reminded him, to which Jonny raised his hands in surrender.
"Okay, so maybe begging Dad not to shut down Quest World even though Surd kept hacking it wasn't one of my most brilliant moments." And here, Hadji and Jessie exchanged looks that clearly said, "Gee, you think?" Jonny didn't let it deter him. "But in case you forgot, sometimes we wouldn't have been able to save the world without it."
"He does have a point," Hadji conceded, and Jessie crossed her arms.
"Besides," Jonny pointed out. "We lost most of that stuff when Zin blew up the Maine compound. Yeah, Dad tried to rebuild back in Palm Key…"
"But there was just a lot of stuff he couldn't replace," Jessie remembered. Then, with a nostalgic smile, she added, "Too bad we lost the hoverboards."
"Yeah, I know," Jonny said. "Dad said he'd try to rebuild them, but they were always so low priority on his list, what with everything else he had to replace. Would have been nice having them back. Maybe by now, he'd have improved them—get them to go higher and faster."
Here, Ben couldn't help but grin. "Actually, I've got a hoverboard somewhere in the back of my closet."
Jonny gave him a shocked look. "You do? But how?"
He shrugged. "Aliens. Got it from a friend named Tetrax, since it was faster using them to get around on a mission we had to take once."
"Nice," Jonny said. "I'll have to check it out when we get back."
"Looks like we've got even more parallels," Jessie noticed. "At least I'm sure Ben is much more responsible than Jonny ever was."
"Hey…" Jonny started, but Ben cut him off.
"Actually, all this maturity is new. Just ask Gwen how bad I was during that summer. She's got horror stories."
"Oh no, don't tell her that," Jonny groaned as Jessie grinned wickedly. "Now we're both doomed."
"In all fairness," Hadji interrupted, again trying to play peacemaker, "I think we've all grown since our adventures. It was a process of maturity, whether for the three of us or for Ben."
"Yeah," Jonny agreed. "But you've still got a way to go, Ben. Wait till you do something like…oh, like blowing up a state."
"We did not blow up a state," Jessie argued.
"We blew up Louisiana," Jonny insisted.
"It was an installation in Louisiana," Hadji explained. "And Dr. Quest put a forcefield around the explosion."
"I've got one better," Ben said, and the trio turned to look at him. "I blew up Pluto."
"No way," Jessie denied.
"Pluto?" Jonny repeated. "Really?"
"Well, technically the Incursians blew it up," Ben answered. "But I really couldn't do anything about it."
"Still counts!" Jonny and Jessie decided, and Hadji barely held in his laughter.
Ben 10: Alien Force is the property of Cartoon Network, created by Man of Action. The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest is the property of Cartoon Network and Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, created by Doug Wildey (whom the character of Jonny's grandfather was named after in the second season). As Ben is pretty much the spiritual successor of Jonny (young kid on a trip around the world/country with his family, dealing with tons of paranormal/alien stuff, then revived when he's a teenager taking more responsibility for saving the world himself), I'd wanted to write a meeting between them, and I figured why not make them related on Ben's mom's side? Jonny and Jessie's jobs are based on what I figure they'd probably go into, since they tend to take after each other's dad.