The hardest thing to understand is that they don't mean to be unfaithful to their boys, but sometimes they can't take it anymore. They have to be rocks, weathering the storm of the relationship. But the thing about rocks is they can erode. The rain eats them away, shrinking them down. And eventually, they shrivel to nothing. It's hard to be a rock, and sometimes, they just need to get away from the storm, get away from being rocks, and just let the rain fall down on each other as people for once. And they're the only ones who understand that.

And that is why nobody must know.

It began innocently enough, as all things do. Because Julie was dating Ben, she was hanging around his friends more and more. Gwen enjoyed having another girl around to talk to, and they quickly became friends. And because Julie learned about their secrets almost at the onset of the relationship, Gwen could be honest with her about everything.

Yet ironically, it was Julie who made the first step. It was the night after they'd rescued Ship from the Forever Knights, and Julie showed up at Gwen's house needing to talk. She confessed that she'd seen Ben close the hatch, knowing that Dr. Chadwick was still trapped inside the exploding castle and that they were his only chance for survival. It scared her to see him so cold like that, and it made her worry about how he didn't like Ship. Gwen insisted Ben wasn't normally like this, and Julie admitted she knew that, but she didn't know what to do. Then she found herself crying, and Gwen found herself hugging her, trying to offer comfort. It didn't go anywhere beyond that, but both of them knew it could. In the end, Julie had cried herself out, and Gwen called Julie's father to let him know she needed to spend the night. And the next day, when Ben apologized for coming off as so mean to Ship (but never acknowledging how he'd been Chadwick's judge, jury, and executioner), Julie just put on a smile and said everything would be okay.

It was a couple of weeks later when Gwen came to Julie, seeking the same help. It wasn't long after they'd defeated the Highbreed, and Gwen needed to talk to someone about her brush with godhood. Kevin didn't want to talk about what had happened when she nearly gave into her Anodyte powers, and Ben had been too busy fighting to really take in what had happened. Julie asked why Gwen came to her then, if she hadn't even been at that battle, and Gwen didn't have an answer for her. All the same, Julie listened as Gwen described the power that came over her, so wonderful and terrible, and how she'd just wanted to give in and end the war immediately, and how Kevin talked her out of it. Julie asked if Gwen regretted giving up the power, and Gwen said she didn't know.

"I'm glad he talked you out of it, though," Julie admitted, and Gwen looked over at her in surprise. "I would have missed you too."

And Gwen smiled and hugged her, grateful to have someone who understood. Julie didn't have powers, which meant she didn't have those temptations to give in and the fears of what would happen if she did. Ben and Kevin struggled with those urges, in one form or another, but whatever they decided could only work for them alone. Julie's insight made it easier for Gwen to accept what she'd given up.

The weeks went on, and the stress was mounting on Julie. Ben had won, but he'd changed. He was cocky and reckless, not like the sweet (and admittedly dorky) hero she loved. She began avoiding him, hoping that he'd get over whatever it was and go back to normal. She was scared when his old enemy returned, and when Gwen told her that for a moment, Vilgax had managed to kill him by destroying Chromastone, she was horror-struck. She began crying on Gwen's shoulder again, but to her surprise, Gwen was crying too.

"What's wrong?" Julie asked.

"It's Kevin," she confessed. "He's mutated again. It doesn't matter to me, but it does to him. Ben hardly seems to care what happened, and he won't admit that it's partially his fault it happened because he tried to hack the Omnitrix. So Kevin's completely depending on me. I'm scared I'm going to be his only tie to humanity."

Julie couldn't understand most of Gwen's explanation, but she could understand the last. She held Gwen tightly and whispered, "I know. I'm worried I'm the same for Ben."

"I don't know if I can take it," Gwen admitted. "I love him, but can I really be his anchor?"

"I don't know," Julie confessed. "Sometimes I'm afraid Ben forgets what it means to be human because he's always going alien. I told him I don't mind that part of him, but I don't like how he can forget and just act…"

"Like a monster," Gwen finished.

Reluctantly, Julie nodded. "Sometimes. Not all the time, but it's enough to scare me."

"Kevin's not like that," Gwen said. "Not anymore, at least. But if he's so worried that not being human anymore suddenly makes him a monster…"

"But they're not human," Julie reminded her. "Not completely. Sometimes, I think they're so used to accepting that alien side of them that they don't know what human is supposed to be anymore."

"I'm not completely human," Gwen argued, but Julie lifted her head and held a finger against Gwen's lips.

"You don't need someone to remind you how to be human," Julie insisted. "You and I both know that."

The finger slipped. Neither one was sure who made the first move this time, but it doesn't matter. When they kissed, they knew they should feel guilty, but they weren't. For the moment, each was in a relationship where she was on completely equal footing with the other. Neither was expected to remind the other of what it is to be human while forgetting it herself in trying to be the other's rock. For the first time, the ones who are expected to be stable felt the stability that others depend on in them.

The next day, Gwen and the boys had to go on a mission far out of town. They were so natural and normal when Julie kissed Ben goodbye and Gwen put her hand on Kevin's, that nobody would know that they had a secret.

And that's the whole point, isn't it? In the end, when everything gets to be too much to bear, they could at least take comfort knowing there's someone who understands and expects nothing in return. Because they're not rocks, they're humans, and it's nice to have someone who remembers that.

Ben 10: Alien Force is the property of Cartoon Network.