I'll be honest. There's not enough of the right parings. Gwen should not be with Ben (because they are cousins and that's creepy) and really, can Kevin ever handle being with someone other than Gwen. So, finally, a fanfic with all the right parings and some of the wrongs thrown in. KevinXGwen, BenXJulie.

Summary: Traders on the black market come and go as they please, each having to offer something someone is looking for. But when a well hated trader comes forth with an item that will stop the Consentia, an alien event no one on earth even knows exist, Kevin goes on his own to track it down leaving behind a confused Gwen and Ben. But in his attempt to protect his friends more problems than he anticipated surface to more than one man can handle. The entire culture of a war driven planet now awaits the Consentia, delayed by the thief, and they will do whatever it takes to recover their treasure, even if it means destroying the earth in the process.

Copyright: I do not own Ben 10: Alien Force or any of its characters or species. They belong to whoever actually made them even if I'm not sure who exactly that is. All I own are characters that I may or may not make up.

NOTE: A little secret of mine is that I know little more than you do. Except for the very main plot with the Consentia is that I make up the plot as I type. I have little to no idea what exactly will happen to Julie or anyone else until it is written down and even then I might still change what I wrote. Nothing is set in stone until it is actually posted. So enjoy and review, but don't ask me what is going to happen, because I don't know. It'll probably get bad so I'm rating it M just in case. Also, I've never really watched the original Ben 10, just the Alien Force. Anything that happens here that conflicts with that I didn't know about.

He kept his head low as he listened. All around him was darkness. Complete silent darkness. The thief's fur prickled from the cold wind that drifted past him in the air duct that he had claimed as his hiding place. In front of him was a grate made with thin bars of some other kind of metal. He could see through the slits the bars made, but not much because the room he watched was completely dark. Only his eyes could see the set of boxes and only one held what he had come there for. He pressed his rat-like snout to the metal as if it would help him smell what he was looking for.

He pulled back for only a second. There was no reason for him to charge the grate, it would only draw attention to him, attention he didn't need. Instead with a claw he sawed through each bar careful not to let it fall. With only two bars removed he forced himself through the impossibly small gap created to be perhaps an inch and a half thick. His compressible skeleton would fit, but even for him it was a struggle. When his bald tail was free he dropped to all fours and breathed. Now he was in no man's land.

No one had been in the chamber he had chosen to invade in over a thousand years. It was said to hold rich treasures beyond the wildest dreams of anyone, king or peasant, and he was no exception. He tore through each of the dusty boxes and chests expecting to find gold, gems, maybe even something that could have a hint of magic even if even he doubted its existence. But found nothing but out of date junk. With a grumble he kicked over one of the boxes and a gem fell free.

It was a perfect stone, neon violet in shade and perfectly cut into a hexigonical shape. It hung from a chain made of what had to have been made of gold, silver, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and so many other gems precious to the earth planet. He searched the box it had fallen from and found it to be empty and pocketed it. If it was precious enough to be stored alone then he had to be able to get a good price for it on the black market. Maybe even be able to settle his debts.

Then he squeezed his way through the hole he came from and raced away on all fours.

She looked up from her book and sighed. He hadn't moved from where he was laying since they had gotten there. During the battle with the highbred that saved the world the '76 Camero had taken a lot of damage since it had actually fought most of the battle alone. Ever since they had come back Kevin had lost himself under it trying almost desperately to fix it. In the many hours he had spent under and around it over the past few weeks he had almost repaired most of the body, but there was still so much left to do for the earthly portion of it, much less the alien technology parts of it that would be much harder since the parts were scarce on earth.

"Are you ever coming out from under there?" Gwen asked eventually. She liked staying with him in the garage and did it often, but she couldn't be there all day, every day.

"Not likely." He answered not showing much emotion in his voice at all.

"Look, how about we go somewhere," she suggested before quickly adding, "with Ben. We can go to the auto show this time if you want." She remembered a long time ago when he had wanted to go and their plumber duties had stopped them.

"There's no point in going."

"But you wanted to before."

"I wanted to show my car." He grumbled when he dropped whatever tool he was using. "Now I need to fix it."

"You can't live under there."

"Watch me."

Gwen sighed and leaned against the back of the chair. He had to be so stubborn all the time. She wanted to just drag him out and force him to do something with her. It was always her following him, not the other way around. Sooner or later he would start actually spending time with her because he wanted to.

She looked out the open door of the garage out into the night. The sun had set a long time ago and her parents would be upset at her for coming home late. Again. But they knew and understood that she had a job to do as a plumber and as long as she could find a way to manipulate that title she could come home pretty much whenever she wanted. The world out there was bathed in the pale light from inside the garage, blocking out the stars and sending a stray cat racing across in an attempt to find shelter in its search for food.

"Come on," She told him trying again even if she knew it to be useless, "If you don't do something with me my parents will get mad."

"You're parents are always mad at me."

"They are not."

"You're dad finds some reason to be mad and your mom hates me. I don't want to talk about it."

"My dad just worries about me and she does not."

"I'm not talkin' about this."

"Then go somewhere with me. I mean honestly, is your car the only thing that matters."

"For the moment." She rolled her eyes and sighed, her gaze shifting to the open door. She couldn't see him yet, but she could sense someone coming down the path to the garage. His heartbeat was fast, his breathing labored, and his body temperature rose with every heartbeat. She stood willing to help whoever came, whether it was human or not, and also let her own energy flow to her hands in case it was an enemy. Only when he heard her did Kevin roll out from under his car.

"Somethin' wrong?"

"Someone's coming." She told him. "I don't know who but they might be in trouble." Kevin watched for a minute with her, his oil stained arm resting on a raised knee for a moment.

"Well whoever they are they better get here quick." He complained mainly wanting something to fill the silence.

It took him a while, but in time the distressed creature reached them. It was a human, a boy who looked much younger than he actually was. Because of his habits of choosing brains and food over brawn he was a thick boy, but one smarter than a thousand normal people. His name was Cooper and Gwen knew Kevin wouldn't be happy to see them. The two boys' personalities clashed like night and day. Cooper had been running, the cause of all of the symptoms Gwen had sensed before, and when he was in the garage he leaned forward, his hands on his knees as he panted with exhaustion. Kevin rolled back under the car without much more than a grumble.

"Cooper, are you alright?" Gwen asked putting a hand on his shoulder.

"He . . . bah . . . he told me to-"he stopped as he coughed.

"Here," Gwen left him to get some water from the fountain for him."Calm down, then tell me."

"It's not for you." He said and Gwen blinked a few times in surprise.

"Then who's it for?"


"Whatever it is," He said from under the car, "I'm not doing it."

"If course you are." Gwen said for him, "He wouldn't come to you if it wasn't important. Tell him what you need him for." Kevin grumbled

"It's not what I need. I was just sent by some trader who said he needed you. I don't even know the guy."

"He give you a name?"

"Arget." Kevin rolled out from under his car with eyes only for Cooper.

"I'm listening."

"He said he had something for you, I don't know what though. He said he's out trying to sell it and wants to offer it to you."

"And you ran all the way here to tell me that?"

"I don't want to get into the details of our . . . uh . . . little meeting." Cooper answered embarrassed. Kevin held back a laugh, a ghost of a smile crossing his face.

"You fell for a threat, probably one Arget's not man enough to handle." He kept laughing. "I might go and see him, I'm not sure I'm looking for whatever he's offering."

"He said you might say something like that. He also said that whatever it is might stop the Consentia. Whatever that is."

Kevin's smile disappeared almost instantly. Gwen held back the growing urge to ask him what she was sure he knew. She hated when he held things back from her, even if it was in her best interest. She knew he had done a lot of bad things, she had seen some of it, but to hide it all from her she just didn't think was right. Didn't he trust her?

Whatever Arget had done caused the impossible and Kevin sat up, dropping the ratchet he had been using last on the ground. With one wipe from a towel that already looked dirty he started to leave. Just as he took out his phone to call Arget he turned back to Gwen and Cooper.

"You stay here." He ordered, "I don't need you for this."

"Kevin I-"

"I said stay." His voice was harder this time and Gwen found that she couldn't try to stop him. His eyes locked with hers for a moment, something in them she had never noticed before, and he walked away. Just before he had wandered out of earshot she could hear him talking to Arget already.

There was no chance of her getting him back now.

"Just hold still you little . . . monster," Ben grumbled as he held tight to the squirming creature in his hands. The black and green 'dog' had found himself a reason to hate Ben finally. He had been taken care of enough, giving him walks and food whenever Julie wasn't available. He even showed him more stuff to change into provided it wasn't too big or loud since Julie's parents still didn't know the little terror existed. But now it was time for him to get a bath and he knew how to complain.

The bucket wasn't too small for a little thing like Ship and the water wasn't too hot or too cold. He just didn't want to get clean. For over a half hour Ben and Ship had been fighting and running around in circles, but only now had Ben been able to get him is his hands. But even then he refused to give in. No matter how many times Ben tried to force him into the water he had managed to get himself on the outside of the water.

"Look," Ben growled getting frustrated with him, "You're gonna get clean before Julie gets home one way or another. You're a dirty dog thing and you're going to be clean." It only wriggled more. With a grumble of annoyance the Omnitrix wieldier kept trying.

"BEN! What do you think you're doing!" Julie's terrified voice was all that snapped his attention from the alien. In his moment of change in focus Ship broke free and hid behind his rightful master. His little tail wagged even while he was growling.

"I was just trying to give him a bath for you." Ben explained, "He just didn't want to do it. I wasn't trying to hurt him or anything."

"His kind can't bathe in water." Julie told him, "His species is part technology. He'll short circuit like a hair dryer in water. If you want him clean you need oil."

"Oh, sorry." He apologized "I didn't know."

"I know, you were only trying to help." She crouched next to her little extraterrestrial pet and it jumped into her arms shouting his name and rubbing its head against her chest. For a moment Ben watched the little creature wishing that his hand could take his place for a moment. "It was nice of you to try though. You are a stinky boy aren't you?" It looked up at her and whimpered.

"You need to tell me these things. I could have killed your pet."

'You didn't tell me you were doing it."

"It was going to be a surprise for you."

"I know, but surprise me with something you know will work." There was only a bit of playful laughter in her voice as she went to stand beside him. One finger she let make little circles in the water as she talked. Feeling brave Ben put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to him. Ship paused his little show of affection to her chest when he did. He lunged at Ben's fingers as if he could bite them and Julie tapped his head with her wet fingers. Something fizzed on his surface and he settled back into her arms. "Be good." She told him.

"So, how'd your game go?" He asked. He knew she had been waiting for the tennis match against Gwen's school for a while now but he had skipped hoping to give Ship a bath and surprise her.

"I would have wanted you to be there." She answered with a small bit of sadness in her voice. He had caught the tone as well as the way her eyes focused on Ship instead of him.

"Is everything alright?"

"Yeah, I just didn't win though." She answered.

"That's not that bad. You'll win next time I'm sure of it." He assured letting the hand that had wrapped around her shoulder stroke her raven black hair. He knew she had always been an exceptional player, better at tennis than Ben was at soccer. Her parents had taught her when she was young and since she was in third grade she had found ways to challenge kids at school. When she was in seventh grade she was actually allowed to compete and was almost instantly noticed being better than the eighth graders on the team. I high school her fame only spread and still she was virtually undefeatable. The few times she lost, which Ben could probably count on one hand, were a tremendous blow to her pride and morale.

"You still should have come. If I would have known you would be trying to kill my pet I would have made you come."

"I made a mistake. Besides, It's not like me coming would have changed anything."

"You don't know that." She looked up at him smiling, but he knew it was forced . "Just promise me you'll be there next time."

"And every time after that." He promised, "Even if the world ends."

"If the world is ending I'm taking Ship and we're going to stop it anyway. The game would be able to wait."

"But then I won't get to see you play." Ben said in an intentionally whiney voice.

"Then you should have been there today."

"When is the next match. If I can't get there I'll send you a message or get Gwen to go and she'll tell you what's up."

"Two weeks I think. I'll have to check." When she answered her phone rang and Ship's shape changed to imitate it. Julie's cell phone was one of the things Ben had taught him to become.

"Who is it?"

"Your cousin."

"What does she want now?" To be honest he just didn't want to leave.

"I'll ask. Hey Gwen." There was silence except for the frantic, muffled voice of his cousin. "Yeah, he's here . . . Not really. He tried to kill Ship though . . . I haven't seen him . . . No, I don't think I've heard of it. Oh, I'm sorry. But you really don't need to- . . . Well, do you want to talk to Ben?" She passed the phone to him.

"What'd you do now?" Ben asked annoyed. He didn't want to have a reason to leave. Not now.

"Kevin's run off." She said. As much as he hated to believe she sounded more hurt than Julie did. "I don't know where he went. Cooper said something about a Consentia but not even Grandpa knows what it is."

"Do you know where he went?" He asked. It was only the fear in her voice that gave him interest.

"Only that he's meeting with Arget again."

"You can't be serious? After what happened last time he's still talking to him?"

"I don't know what he's thinking. I'm still at the garage. Please find him and make sure he doesn't get killed."

"And you're gonna stay at the garage like he told you to."

"If you had seen him before he left you would agree with me." There was a pause of what was almost silence. Ben listened to her voice more intensely than he had ever before. He could have guessed that she had been crying. "Cooper's already out trying to find him."

"Why's he going. Kevin hates him."

"I asked him to. He agreed."

"Don't do that."

"I know he didn't like it but I'm really worried. I'm not forcing you to do anything, I'm only asking you to keep an eye on him."

"I'm kinda with Julie now."He answered.

"Oh," He could practically feel his cousin's hurt, even if she was on the phone. "I understand. I'll just wait here then."

"No, I'll go." He told her. He knew that the only reason he was going was for her. What Kevin did didn't worry him like it did her. She would always worry about him for one reason or another. The two of them were too different to be together. She was proper, he was rebellious. Where she had nearly perfect grades in a prestigious school, Kevin had dropped out several years ago. Gwen's parents lived in a nice home in a good neighborhood, Kevin practically lived with his car in the garage and none of them even knew if he had parents to live with if he had the option. The both of them were designed to fight no matter what, but, for some reason, neither one of them can stand being away from the other for too long. What caused it Ben didn't know. The explanations that came to his mind were not ones he wanted to think of all the time. Kevin was a rough kid, he wouldn't want him to break her.

"Thanks." She said, a hint of her worry leaving her voice before she hung up. With a sigh he handed the phone back to his girlfriend.

"Kevin's run off," He told her, "Gwen wants me to find him and make sure he's ok."

"Be careful." She told him. "I'll go by Kevin's garage and keep Gwen company and give Ship a proper bath." He whined at the sound of the word. He turned and left, only one last look to Julie before he changed shape and flew away.

"Alright, Arget, I'm here." He said once he was close enough to see the rat of a friend. "Now what's this thing you got that'll stop the Consentia?"

"Kevin, buddy," The rat said with happiness in his voice that quickly changed, "You're late."

"My ride's busted. Do you have it?"

"Have what?"

"What do you think? I ran all the way here just because I wanted to see you."

"I knew I meant more to you."

"No you don't you idiot." He grumbled, "Look, whatever this thing is that will stop the Consentia, do you have it or not?"

"Oh, that, um, well, I said you were late."

"What did you do?"

"I sold it already."


"Some guy came in and bought it for more than you've ever seen. Even traded me some high class tech for it. I probably got enough from this one sale that I can pay off all my debts to everyone."

"That include me."

"I don't owe you anything."

"You owe me plenty since you stripped the Rust Bucket."

"I only did what I had to. I got you to the thing you wanted didn't I?"

"You stole. That car. From me. No one steals from me. Now either I get my share of this little sale you made or I wring your little rat neck." Arget took a step back and put a hand to his throat. To anyone else he probably would have just assumed he was bluffing. But Kevin had strangled him, a few times, before. It wasn't an experience he enjoyed. "Now are you gonna work with me? Or not?"

"I can give you the name of the guy I sold it to." He said desperate for a way out. "He won't be easy for to find though. He told me he was going across the country on some personal endeavor. Even then it's better than nothing."

"Tell me the name and I'll track him down myself." He said, "That or I go back to your first choices."

"You won't be able to find him."

"I'll decide that. Now talk."

Arget looked back and forth, checking both sides of them as if something would be watching them. "If I tell you, you tell no one." He got close, uncomfortably close and whispered the name to him. The moment the words reached him and he recognized the name he hated his hand flew striking a wall and breaking a hole through it.

"Are you serious?"


"You will be." Kevin growled and roared at the rodent, lunging for his throat. His hands were stronger than a normal human's and could break it easily. But Arget was fast, his only actual pro, and scampered out of the way.

"I did what you told me to do."

"You traded my Consentia to him? What is wrong with you?"

"I didn't know you knew him."

"I know you knew. He wouldn't have bought the thing for so much if he didn't know I would have wanted it."

"I just told him it was for the Consentia."

"He never knew what that was. Nobody on this planet except for the both of us knows what that is and its getting closer. I need whatever you offered and you gave it away to the most disgusting pile of shit in the galaxy."

"I didn't give it. I sold it."

"I don't care. You don't have it. Now I'm gonna be running around the planet trying to find someone who isn't supposed to exist. Thanks, Arget. You owe me for this and I'll make sure you pay when I get back." He walked away and looked towards an alleyway. "And for you and Ben, cuz I know you're watching, tell Gwen I'm not coming back for a while."

Gwen snapped out of whatever she had been in a moment ago. She was sitting in the chair she had always sat in with her head against her hand falling asleep. But every sound outside woke her up and she had been in this state not entirely awake, but not sleeping either. "Kevin?"

"Sorry, but no." Her cousin told her. He was closer than she thought he would have been before she noticed him. He leaned against the back of Kevin's car as Cooper came into sight. The boy genius's face was red as he panted. "Kevin's left."

"Left? Like gone?"

"Yeah," Ben answered." We followed him and he practically killed Arget. Whatever he was looking for was sold to someone else, someone Kevin doesn't like. Now he's gone off to find him and get it back. He told us to tell you."

"And you just let him go?"

"What were we supposed to do?"

"I don't know, stop him maybe? He could get hurt." She put her hand on the back of his car. If he left it here what did it mean? Kevin never left his car, it was his most prized possession and he took care of it more than he would his own son. But now it was here and he had gone leaving it abandoned. What could make him leave his car behind? "We have to go after him."

"He wouldn't want you coming." Cooper said finally catching his breath.

"I wouldn't want him leaving. Wherever he's gone it has to be important so he's going to need help."

"Then I'll go." Ben suggested. "I'll be better for it and it'll be harder for him to notice me."

"I don't think you should go alone."

"Then who can come with me. The others still have training."

"Then I'll come."

"Julie would be a better option." Ben told her then quickly added, "I'm not taking her somewhere I don't know what will happen. I risked enough letting her fight with the highbreed."

"I'm going to find Kevin and you can't stop me." She said. From the mana collected on the car she could see a weak trail of mana leaving the garage. She could follow him easily this way where Ben had no way to track him. "I can find him."

"But it's safer if you stay here." Cooper said. He could see the violet in her eyes and know she was searching for him.

"I could say the same for him."

"Look, Gwen," Ben gripped her hand and separated her from the Camero. The mana trail disappeared instantly. "I'm sure he'll be fine."

"He left his car, Ben, the car of all things. He won't be fine."

"But he also left behind you. He left behind us. He left behind what he cares about so none of it gets damaged. Me going after him would upset him enough, but if you went and you got hurt . . . Well, let's just say Kevin's not the most stable of people. How about you stay here and take care of his car. That way he's happy."

"I don't want him happy. I want him alive. That's what matters more." She broke away and concentrated on the car again.

"It matters to him I'm sure." He sighed and tore her away again. "Kevin's been doing stuff like this a lot more than us. He can handle himself and he will do whatever it takes to survive. He'll make it."

"You can't know for sure."

"No, but what I do know is that you have less of a chance than he does. He at least knows what he's up against. You don't know a thing."

"Then I have to find out. With or without your help."

"Gwen, don't do this." It was Cooper who said it, "If not for Kevin, then for me." She stopped then. His voice was almost pleading, his eyes sad. "He's not the only one who wants you safe."

"Then you can come with me." She said starting towards the garage the door.

"Gwen no," he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. His voice dropped to a whisper, "Don't bring him into this. You know he's not made for a fight and you know that's what this will come down to."

"I'm not making him come."

"But you know he will if he thinks it'll keep you safe."

"But he knows he can't."

Ben sighed and gripped her arm, dragging him away from the door and to the front of the car. He kept his grip tight and faced away from Cooper who was looking outside no doubt thinking of what he was getting himself into.
"Look, you know I've always said no sacrifices."

"I won't let him die."

"But he could get captured or tortured or paralyzed or any number of things."

"You know I won't let that happen to him. The only reason I'm letting him come is to make him happy."

"But you're risking too much."

"You let Julie go out and fight the Highbreed. Whatever a Consentia is it can't be anything compared to that. And look how she turned out."

"You think I didn't spend every moment terrified that something could go wrong, that one of the DNAliens would overpower her. If the fate of the world didn't depend on my Omnitrix I would have turned Jetray and carried her to the other side of the world before I even thought about fighting. I didn't want to let her come, but I did what I had to. You're doing this because you want to."

She sighed and her head dropped a little. "You don't understand."

"I do, more than you know." He let his voice soften. He knew fear was blinding her from what should be right or wrong. He had gone back and forth between the options before and, at times, almost made the wrong one. His own blindness had almost left his cousin dead before at the hands of a power greedy energy collector. He couldn't make decisions like that, couldn't let people be hurt because of his mistakes. Not once had he allowed himself to think of what he would have done if Julie hadn't made it, he didn't want to think of what it would do to his head. "Stay here. Think about what will happen to him if you don't come back. Stay here."

"fine." She sighed falling back into a chair, "But you have a month to find out what he's up to and get him out. That's all the time I'm giving you. If you can't get him someplace safe or at least be able to convince him to give up whatever he's doing I will come after him no matter what you or Cooper say. Agreed."

"Agreed." Ben nodded, a month should be long enough to give him a little more than a talking too. With all this nonsense from Gwen he might have a weapon against him. Maybe he'll understand how terrified Gwen is and come home. It wasn't likely, but it was worth trying. "I'll bring him back."

He stepped outside and cycled through the Omnitrix before selecting his fastest and began the transformation. A few seconds later an aerophibian raised leathery wings to the sky. Before he took to the air and disappeared he looked back to Gwen and told her in his distorted alien voice. "Take care of Julie while I'm gone."

She spun the racket in her hand as she went to stand on her corner behind the line. The green-yellow ball she held tight in her hand and tossed it on the ground a few times and catching it as her eyes went to the small crowd of people around her. The stands weren't too crowded and she could see the faces of almost everyone there. She could see a lot of her friends from school, her uncle who came just to see this match, her parents with her dad's arm over her mom's shoulder, and even kids from rival schools who she had known before they had moved and had to change. Still they wore their old school colors and mascot proudly. But her heart sank as she looked over them and knew that Ben was not among them. With a second scan she could not find Gwen as well. He had broken his promise and didn't come.

She raised her racket as she tossed the ball upward as furry she didn't want inside her burst forward and the ball was sent flying outside of the court. Forcing herself to calm down she served again, this time letting the ball land within the boundaries.

He wasn't there. He hadn't told her. He hadn't told her anything. He just wasn't there. He promised he would come. The thoughts came again and again. Why didn't he say anything? Didn't he even care?

The call came her way and she sent it back.

Her eyes left the court for an instant as if to make sure she wasn't making a mistake. Her father's hand was clenched into a tight fist as he watched with eyes only for the ball. She wasn't supposed to lose twice in a row. But, just like before, she couldn't find her boyfriend or his cousin.

She hit the ball hard sending it flying past her opponent. It was only by pure luck that it landed just inside the white line. She took the points and noted in her head that they were tied and positioned herself so she could reach any section of the court as fast as possible. The next minute she was running timing her movements perfectly with the ball.

What was he thinking? Did he want to leave her? She knew he was getting overconfident since the end of the Highbreed invasion, knew he was more than just a little cocky recently. But was he going as far as to be one of those boys who thought they could have whoever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and if a few girls were hurt in the process he didn't really care? She hated to think that he could be that way, but it would be normal wouldn't it? He wasn't anything more than a boy after all, and all boys had their time of folly didn't they.

She returned it and watched her opponent's movements predicting where she would send the ball before it even reached her. Instantly she knew she was right.

Ben wasn't supposed to be like other boys though. He said he cared. On their first date he said he would never do anything to hurt her. Not like he cared now. He said he would be at all of her games. She wanted him, needed him, there for her sake. She was a good player, but she still he had to be there. She needed to win and for that she needed to see his face, needed to hear his voice before she played.

Making yet another return she followed her opponent's eyes to the far corner of the court, a tell tale sign of where she would send it next, but she did not move, not yet.

She didn't need him to win a game. She had been playing all her life, why did it matter now. He was just one boy, just one face. It wasn't like he actually mattered. She could still win without him. She had to win without him. But why did she believe she couldn't? Why did his coming or staying affect her own performance?

She waited until the last second and sprung. She still sent the ball bouncing over the net, but she had barely made it.

She was a wreck now. She hadn't been paying close enough attention, but this had made it clear. She was starting to revolve around Ben. She had liked him from a distance for a long time. The star of the tennis team watching the best goalie the school had seen in a long time. But for a long time she had never had the courage to talk to him. But once she did he showed interest, made her feel wanted. He told her he would never do anything to hurt her. He had even acted scared to show her the aliens he really was. But she didn't care. She never cared.

She paused only for a moment and watched as the opponent hit the ball back, debating on if it would land in the boundaries or not. Deciding it wouldn't be out of bounds she sprinted the short distance and sent it back.

Then when one of his aliens started acting up she had spent every moment worrying, terrified that he was hurt somehow by himself. She couldn't understand anything, couldn't know what was happening. She had even ruined Gwen and Kevin's dance she was so scared for him. She felt a little guilty afterward, but they had their own dance later though. But the fact that she had spent so many days obsessing over that fear told her so much she didn't recognize before.

Another sprint, but this one she could not reach in time and flew just past the edge of her racket. Her head fell back as she counted the score. She was losing again.

Now she was playing a game, a game of all things, and she couldn't get her mind off him enough to score. He was consuming her, controlling her, and she was letting it happen without even bothering to fight. It was almost as if she had forgotten to care about herself anymore and thought only of him. She knew it was wrong, knew it wasn't healthy at the least, but she wasn't doing anything to stop herself. She had practically thrown herself to him and nothing and no one would have been able to stop her.

Then she allowed herself to think something that broke her.

What if he hadn't come to the game because he was with someone else? It wouldn't be like him, or at least she thought, but just like before it would have been just like a normal boy. She could see it now: Ben smiling and laughing with some other girl. She could see so clearly the face of the head cheerleader, the most beautiful girl Julie had ever seen, sitting beside him with her head resting on his shoulder. She could see as she leaned close to him and he put his arms around her thin and perfect body and she would smile planting a kiss on his jaw. Julie had never been brave enough to kiss him before, but she did it so easily. But her kiss only excited the teen and he kissed her back, their lips meeting.

The moment the image of the kiss raped her mind the ball dashed past her, but slower than it usually would have. Time had weakened her opponent and it would have been all too easy for her to deliver a powerful hit and send it past her enemy and tie the score, possibly even manage to pull a win. But when it came at her she didn't even raise the racket. Her body wanted to go limp, but it settled by letting her arms hang. She dropped the racket and just walked off the court. She hadn't lost just yet, she'd have to let them score a second time for that, but she just didn't care anymore.

She could see out of her peripheral vision that her father was standing, but she couldn't hear what he was saying. She could see confused members of her team, her coach, her friends in the stands, all saying various things, but whether they were curses or just words she didn't know. It was as if the world had gone silent.

When she reached the sidelines where the coach tried to corner her she kept walking. Still the words she could see him making did not reach her and she just continued on. But once she was outside of the courts in the middle of the parking lot the star player turned around as sound returned to her. People had followed her outside confused. She could hear the other team beginning to cheer since she had forfeited the match and took the win, something they would have never gotten on their own.

She had cost the team a lot by just walking away and knew it had earned their hatred and lost their trust and support. They wouldn't rely on them as their star and it was likely she wouldn't be playing in an actual game in a long time.

"Julie, Julie stop," It was her mother who had been brave enough to approach her. The woman knelt in front of her daughter studying her face as she did. "What is it?"

"It's nothing mom," she lied, but the image struck her again like a slap to the face, "I'm alright I just . . . I just don't care."

"It's alright." She told her, "You're father and I will take you home." Julie only glanced to see her father with his arms crossed. He would be less supportive but let her mother take care of her for a while. She knew later he would ramble on how she had shamed her family by walking away like she did. But what she said was true, she just didn't care. Her mother took her hand and led her to their car.

After the doors were unlocked and her dad had gotten in Julie had let her eyes wander further away from the court and into the city. The parking lot snaked around the stadium, but the exit was on the other side. Beyond lay the open road coated with cars, people, and street lights. She opened the door, her eyes locked on the road as if in a trance.

I would never do anything to hurt you. Ben's words echoed in her mind at the same instant the image of him and the cheerleader came again, but this time there was no mercy for her emotions. Sadness caused the first tear to run down her cheek, anger for his betrayal forced her to slam the door shut as hard as she could, and the inability to understand what to do next caused her to just start running towards the street.

She could hear the honking and screeching of brakes as she tore through the street with no regard to the fact that the light was green, the corner of a bumper nudged her leg, but it did not stop her. She ran until she reached a crowded sidewalk and weaved expertly through them and kept running.

She ran further and further away, her legs guiding her more than her mind. She didn't know where she was going, nor did she care. All she knew that the running burned. Her legs and lungs were on fire. Her heart beat faster than a hummingbird's wings. Her clothes and hair began to cling to her skin from the sweat building on her body faster than it could evaporate.

She didn't stop for anything. Not to wait for people, not for lights to change, not to listen to anything anyone had to say. Only when she had reached the edges of the city where a deep pit had been carved into the soil by a force unknown by the public did she stop. At the edge she collapsed, her legs unwilling to support her any longer. But then, her legs were not all that stopped wanting to help her.

There, alone and in the middle of nowhere and in one of the last places anyone would expect to look, her heart, still beating wildly from her sudden long distance run, knew it had gone further than it should have in any given amount of time. She had never been made to run long distances like she had just done. She couldn't be sure but she could see Olympic athletes wishing they could run as she had just done. And to make the sudden stop she did only made matters worse for her.

Pain engulfed her as she screamed to no one clutching her chest. She fell on her side, her body curling into a ball as she wished it would go away. Under her hand she could not feel the thunderous beat of her pulse, nor could she hear it pounding in her ears anymore. It was as if it was never even there. Then darkness began to close in and, just like she did when Ben began to control her life, she did nothing to fight it.

First Chapter done. Even I have to say that it's better than my other first chapter's and I'm happy about it. What would make me even more happy is if everybody who read this reviewed and told me everything they thought about it.