You're My Fish?
"How pretty!" Gwen gushed, bent over and peering into the store window.
The trio were doing some impromptu grocery shopping at Gwen's command, the redhead demanding they walk to the store to be environmentally friendly. (How she ever got Kevin to agree to it, we shall never know.) During their trek, Gwen had randomly stopped in front of a store window and was now staring at a school of carps swimming around each other, looking almost like they were dancing. Ben and Kevin peered over her shoulder, interested in what she was looking at until they actually saw the object of her fascination.
"A fish?" Kevin deadpanned, scoffing and backing away, crossing his arms. "What's so great about that?" He paused and thought for a second, a devilish smirk painting over his face. "Unless… you're thinkin' of cookin' it." His tongue darted out, wetting his lips in thought of fish for dinner, but Gwen abruptly straightened and glowered at him, hands planted on her hips in that know-it-all way of hers.
"They're called koi, and I won't let you eat them!" She hissed. "They're Japanese carp, and they're a very respected symbol of friendship in Japan. Do you really want to eat something as important as that?" Her tone was accusatory, and one would think she was Japanese by the offended tinge in her voice. But Kevin, being Kevin, simply scoffed again.
"They're just some stupid fish!" He argued, pointing in frustration at a koi who swam right up to the window, its orange and white scales glittering brilliantly in the light. "What's so great about that?" Gwen let out a noise of frustration, throwing her hands up in the air as she wondered why of all the men on earth did she have to be in love with the most insensitive one.
As the two alien-humans argued with each other, Ben was curiously staring at the fish that had swum right up to the glass. He marvelled at the beautiful scales reflecting the suns rays, like crystals that were glued onto the skin of the koi. Hesitantly, the teenager tapped the glass, and the koi seemed to feel the vibrations, circling around before stopping once more near the glass, it's black eyes locked onto Ben's green ones.
"You tactless, cruel—Ben?" The Tennyson looked over, seeing her cousin mysteriously missing during her tirade at Kevin (and his mocking little gestures at her). He was nowhere to be seen, and she began to worry, her heart thumping in her chest at an increasingly fast rate. Ben disappearing was usually not a good sign.
"Umm… Gwen?" Kevin spoke up, pointing to the inside of the pet store, where Ben was standing at the cash register. Gwen blinked, watching him until he exited the store, carrying two plastic bags in his hands. There was a wide smile on his face; like he had done something so totally awesome and great that the entire world should thank him for it. A smile that was very reminiscent of Ben when he was ten years old. And a smile that stemmed from a ten year old Ben was never good news.
Well… until now.
"Here Gwen." The fifteen year old said cheerily, dropping a plastic bag into Gwen's hands. Inside of the clear plastic an orange and white carp swam around in circles, its fins swishing elegantly. Gwen cooed at the sight of the tiny koi, holding it to the level of her eyes as she watched it with fascination.
"Aw, Ben!" The carrier of the Omnitrix chuckled when his cousin leapt forward, giving him a huge hug for his thoughtfulness before whipping around to Kevin with a narrowing of her eyes. "Isn't that nice Kevin? Ben bought me a koi." The ex-delinquent rolled his eyes, shrugging nonchalantly.
"Yeah, sure, nice." He muttered, before tapping his foot impatiently. "Now can we go? I'm gonna starve to death if I wait for you two saps any longer."
Ben tried not to laugh when Kevin began to walk ahead and Gwen's leg shot out at his ankles to trip him just as an attractive woman walked past. He landed unceremoniously on the sidewalk, flushing red when the woman giggled at him as she passed.
"What did you say, Kevin?" Gwen asked, feigning innocence as she started ahead, passing by him. Kevin's hand snapped out to encircle her ankle and trip her, but she was too quick, hopping away and smirking down at him with a mischievous glint in her eyes. The ex-delinquent just glowered at her as she continued walking away, swiftly getting to his feet before sending Ben a sharp glance of warning.
Ben just smiled and looked down at the silver koi swimming happily around in his plastic bag.
"Hey Yamamoto! Practice is over; go home!"
Julie looked up from her crouched position, her hand lifting up to catch the tennis ball flying directly at her. It landed smoothly in her palm, and she turned around to salute her coach with it, smiling. "Yes coach!" she replied, a bead of sweat making a trail from her temple to her chin, dripping off to land on the towel she brought up to her face.
Tennis practice had been over about a half and hour ago, but Julie supposed she had been so caught up in her training that she lost track of time. She took a swig of her water bottle, throwing her towel around her shoulders before packing her things into her bag. She didn't notice Ben sneaking up behind her until he called out her name with a cheerful smile.
She jumped, spinning around and accidentally dousing him with water as she gasped in surprise. "Ben!" She exclaimed, her bottle dropping as she saw his soaked profile and his grimacing smile. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" Quickly grabbing a towel, Julie began to dab his face free of water for him until he took it himself, chuckling in mirth.
"No, no, it's my fault for scaring you like that." He reasoned, rubbing the towel haphazardly along his hair with a grin. When Ben handed it back to her, Julie couldn't help giggling as she saw the various locks of his hair sticking up in spontaneous directions. She put her towel away, reaching up to help smooth his brown locks as another small apology. And it wasn't as if Ben didn't mind having his girlfriend running her hands through his hair.
"So what are you doing here?" Julie asked, combing her fingers gently through his bangs even though she had cleared away all the cowlicks. Ben seemed to figure out her intentions, and he simply wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer to him with a goofy grin on his face. That is, until Julie yelped and backed away. "No, Ben!" She scolded him, grabbing her towel. "I totally reek! At least let me go shower first." And Ben sighed, waving her away with his hand. She took off with a short peck to his cheek, and the teenage boy sat down on the bench to wait for his girlfriend.
In her haste to leave, and her surprise at seeing him there, the bag Ben was hiding went by Julie's notice, and Ben picked it up with a happy grin, setting it beside him on the bench very carefully. He unzipped the semi-circled bag, peering inside to see a four centimetre silver koi swimming around happily inside of a fish bowl, dancing in the water excitedly. Ben was planning to give this to Julie as a sort of… thank you present for sticking with him for so long, even through the Highbreed war. Kind of like an anniversary present, but less formal.
Zipping the bag back up, Ben hummed in contentment as he leaned forward, cushioning his face with his hands as he waited for his girlfriend. She didn't take long, running out of the change rooms in her customary pink sweater and white skirt as she went to greet him. Absentmindedly, Ben wished she didn't wear such a short skirt; maybe then the guys would stop gaping at her legs every time she walked by.
"So what's up, Ben?" Julie asked him after he gave her an incredibly affectionate hug (to make up for the one she had refused to give him earlier). Not to say the Japanese-American wasn't satisfied, but it seemed to her like he was acting significantly more tender today, letting his hands linger on her waist when she pulled back from their embrace. Actually, scratch that. He was keeping his hands on her waist, period!
"Well, I have something for you." Ben said cheekily, his hands on her hips guiding her to the bench where he placed the bag. Julie's mouth dropped when she saw it, and she looked up to him with a slight frown in her eyes (and the rest of her body).
"Ben, you didn't have to get me anything." She admonished him. But there was a curiosity in her eyes that the Tennyson didn't miss at all, which only made him grin wider. Sighing, Julie let Ben place her beside the bag before he sat opposite of her, ushering her to open it with his green eyes sparkling in excitement.
Julie laughed at his enthusiasm, before complying with him and unzipping the bag. She peeled the sides of the fabric down, her eyes going wide as she looked at the little silver carp swimming happily up against the glass of the fish bowl.
"Ben!" Julie exclaimed, placing her hands on the sides of the glass. "You got me a koi?!" Vaguely, she reminded herself that there was no way Ben really knew the other meaning of koi, which meant that this gift didn't mean what she wanted it to mean. But she didn't really think of that a lot at this moment, because words seemed to escape her at that point as she went back and forth from looking at the koi to looking at her boyfriend. Ben just nodded, chuckling.
"I got one for Gwen too, if you were wondering. She was looking at it in the pet store window, and she said that they were these Japanese carps. So I immediately thought of you!" His smile was bursting with exuberance, and Julie didn't have it in her to be at least slightly angry at him when his green eyes were so abundant with joy. So she simply leaned forward, kissing him soundly on the lips and smiling at the dumbfounded look on his face when she backed away.
"Whoa." He said finally after staying silent for a few seconds. "If that's how you're going to react every time I give you a koi, I'm going to buy you one everyday!" He said, laughing. Julie blushed a pretty pink, and she laughed with him, looking down at the silver carp in the fish bowl.
"Shall we take this little guy to his new home?" Julie asked with a smile on her face, holding it up in her hands and watching the sunlight play off the silver scales of the Japanese carp. Ben agreed, letting his girlfriend put the bowl into the bag again before they set off, fingers entwined.
Julie looked up at Ben's face that had a little grin playing at his lips. She felt a warmth swell in her heart, trickling down to her toes and flooding out to her fingers. Julie started feeling this way for a long time whenever she was around Ben, and for a while she didn't know why. But after he gave her what he thought was a totally and completely random fish, never knowing the true meaning of it, Julie at long last realized what she was feeling all this time.
"I don't think I've told you this… but you're my koi."
"… Julie, did you just call me your fish?"
She couldn't help it; she laughed.
A/N Something random that I came up with when I learned that "koi" in Japanese has several different meanings. That, and I desperately wanted to write a Ben/Julie. XD (Oh, and I added a little something for Gwen/Kevin fans.)
For those who don't know, "koi" does mean "fish", but it can also mean "love".