*ding dong* Hm? Someone's at the door. *goes to open* Why hello, Mr. Angst! How nice to see you again! Yes, feel free to get something from the kitchen. You know where everything is. I'll be with you in a moment. *keeps fake smile on face until door closes* Ugh...he's been coming over a lot lately. My friend, Mrs. Fluff, is starting to get rather testy. Seriously...did you SEE the new episode? Man Of Action will get at LEAST twenty death threats this week! I'm sure of it! About three fourths of them will be from yours truly... I'll give you a full recap of my views on the episode in a moment. Right now, I need to entertain my unwanted guest. Please enjoy this oneshot. Mr. Angst is helping me quite a lot with this one...


Click. Click. Click.

Argit tossed a pebble tiredly at the wall, staring at the slab of stone with glazed yellow eyes. 'Bored bored bored bored bored...' He flexed his stiff, glued together quills irritatedly. 'I got nothing in here! It's been weeks since they locked me in this cell! Why can't they at least gimme a video game or something? I might...' He paused in his thoughts to shudder. 'I might...even be desperate enough to read...UGH!' Argit reclaimed the pebble and threw it at the wall. He let out a yelp as the rock bounced off and hit him between the eyes.

"OW!" He clasped a clawed hand to his forehead. "Ow..." He moaned before moving to the corner and curling up. 'And the food stinks too. I wouldn't feed that junk to a motor, much less an awesome dude like myself!' He growled quietly, curling his ratlike tail around his nose. 'And this floor is cozier than the bed! Aren't they supposed to have some standards concerning the housing of handsome conmen?" The tip of his tail thumped the ground methodically. 'I may just pull out one of my own fangs and stab myself with it!'

"Hey! Rat boy!" The voice of the moronic guard boomed from outside.

"Possum..." Argit muttered under his breath before pasting an innocent grin onto his face and walking over. "Um...listen, sir. If this is about that little incident in the prison cafeteria, I can give you the names of the guys who really started-YIKE!" He cut off and suddenly leaped backwards. "WHAT'S HE DOING HERE?" Standing on the other side of the barred door, human sized and clad in his normal dark attire, was Kevin. He was back to normal! But Argit didn't see that. He only saw the guy who had almost sent him to the great black market in the sky!

"Your new roomie." The guard grinned crookedly, opening the door and shoving Kevin through. "Don't worry! We got cameras. Ya'll can't hurt each other...too much." Snickering, the guard closed the door and walked off. Argit watched him go with a sinking feeling in his stomach. For once, he wouldn't have minded having that idiot close by!

"Hold up!" He ran to the bars, grasping them desperately. "You don't understand! This guy tried to kill me! You can't lock me in here with him! I'm not on death row! I got rights here, man!" The guard didn't look back. He just kept walking and turned a corner. "Come on! YOU'RE GONNA COME BACK TO FIND A DEAD GUY TO CLEAN UP IN ABOUT TWO MINUTES!" No one came back. Preparing to make his pulse stop if needed, a trembling Argit turned toward where Kevin was standing a few feet away.

There was something wrong...there was some weird expression on his face... His eyes were scrunched up, his mouth was all weird, and he kept making a sniffling noise. It took a second for Argit to register that he was crying...sobbing really! 'Kevin...sobbing...' The two thoughts didn't compute in his rodent mind.

Kevin took a step forward. Argit immediately took a step back. The Osmosian's face became more screwed up. "I...I'm n-not gonna h-hurt you..." He whispered, his voice trembling.

"Course you're not! You're gonna stay over there and I'm gonna stay over here!" He tried to sound brave, but his voice came out as a high pitched squeak.

"I mean...I don't want to hurt you. At all." Kevin took another step toward Argit, who took a step back once more.

"S-Stay back!" Argit whimpered, holding his hands feebly in front of him.

Kevin stopped, his face full of some kind of agony. "Okay then. I'll talk to you from here." His voice was oddly frail... "Here...I got this before they brought me in." He reached into his pocket and tossed something small and white toward Argit. It was a candy cane.

Argit picked up the candy, his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What's your angle?"

"No angle." Kevin sighed, sitting down on the floor. "It's..." He took a deep breath. "It's almost Christmas."

"You mean that human holiday celebrating that guy Judas?"


"Really? Bummer. I always kinda liked Judas..."

"I'll bet." Kevin grinned weakly before looking to the side. Argit noticed a tear trickle down his face.

'Whoa! He's getting good at the fake crying.' He thought with reluctant admiration. "So why aren't you with your little glee club?" He asked, opening the candy cane and taking a bite. The sweet peppermint flooded his mouth, washing away the taste of his breakfast. After he swallowed, the thought occurred to him that the cane might be poisoned. He looked suspiciously at it.

"It's fine, Argit. They wouldn't have let me bring it in here if it wasn't." Kevin's voice sounded deflated, as if he was expecting Argit to be wary of him. He took a deep breath before continuing. "I hurt you really bad, didn't I?"

"Um...lemme think...yeah!" Argit snapped before remembering who he was talking to and moving further away. "Um...what I meant was..."

"You're right." Kevin cut in, not moving a muscle. "I did hurt you."

Argit frowned. 'Where's he going with this?' There was a period of awkward silence. Finally, Argit decided to speak again. "How'd you turn back anyway?"

"Very painfully." Kevin said shortly. "That's all I wanna say." He sighed and turned to look through the bars. "I turned myself in almost right away."

"Huh?" Argit blinked dumbly. "Why would you do that? You're not in any danger! I turned myself in because I wanted to be locked somewhere you couldn't get to me!" Kevin winced visibly. "What's your deal?"

"Everyone else is in danger." He sounded dull, resigned...very un-Kevinlike! "This was the second time. I'm not going for a third."

Argit didn't need to ask what Kevin was talking about. He did, however, want to ask a few questions. "Why'd they throw you in here with me?"

"I asked if they would. I guess since I did such good service for them in the past, they decided to cut me some slack."

"And why'd you wanna room with me?" Argit flexed his spikes instinctively.

"I...heard that I hadn't killed you." Kevin stood up and started walking toward Argit. The possum alien got into a defensive position. As Kevin drew closer, he suddenly lunged forward, raking his claws across soft skin. Kevin jumped back immediately, clasping a hand to his cheek.

Argit was trembling. He felt like a cornered animal. His claws were now covered with redness but he hardly noticed it. All that was running through his mind was raw terror. He still felt that hard hand closing around his throat...that blast of fire that directly pounded his fur...those horrible green Taedenite claws... It wouldn't happen! Not again! He crouched down on all fours and snarled menacingly, showing more raw anger than he had ever shown in his life. Before now, he always tried to talk his way out of a problem. That wouldn't fly this time. He could feel instinct taking over. He'd kill Kevin if he tried anything again. "You just stay back! Okay? Just don't come near!"

Kevin's hand was on his face. Argit waited for the responding anger that was surely coming. It didn't come. To his total shock, Kevin collapsed to the ground and started to sob uncontrollably. "I'm...s-s-s-sorry..."

Argit was so stunned, his irrational fear and rage melted away immediately. He felt an odd urge... Surely that candy cane was spiked with Alien Acid or something, because he wanted to go over and comfort that blubbering monster! He stood on two feet again, but didn't move toward Kevin's fallen form. "Oh, c'mon." He muttered, "I didn't scratch you thathard."

Kevin removed his hand. The cuts were deep and bleeding. 'Wow...these claws are stronger than I thought...' His wet eyes stared at Argit pathetically. It made Argit sick looking at such a vulnerable expression on the face of someone who had nearly killed him before.

"It's n-not th-that." Kevin whimpered, standing up, blood running down his face. "I j-just..." He held out his hands for a moment in a helpless gesture before dropping them to his sides again. Tears were still running down his face, mingling with the blood. "I...I wanted to apologize to you."

… "Huh?" Okay, he hadn't been expecting that!

"I'm sorry." Kevin repeated, sitting down on the hard floor again. "That's why I wanted to share a cell with you. I...I wanted to tell you. I have nightmares every night about the things I've done. I keep seeing you begging for mercy. Me throwing you to the side like a limp rag..." He took a deep, shuddering breath. "That sense of satisfaction when I thought you were dead..."

'He...he's trying to...' That just didn't ring well! Argit crouched down again and growled. "What're ya trying to pull, Kev?"

"Nothing." Kevin replied simply, wiping his face with his arm and leaving a streak of scarlet on his gray shirt sleeve. "If you don't believe me, try to scratch me again." Argit stared. "I mean it. Hurt me. I deserve it."

'He's trying to trick me...' "I'd rather keep a couple feet between us."

"Fine. Then don't try to get me back. See this?" He pointed to a metal band around his neck. "This is a shock collar. The Plumbers put it on me. It's connected to my nerves. If I so much as think a violent thought, I'm gonna get the worst static shock you'll ever see. I can't do a thing." He spread his hand out. "I'm a sitting duck, Argit! Any problems with me? Now's the time to take it out. The cameras here are down. I saw as I was brought here." Argit still held still. "C'mon! Gimme your best! Give me what's coming to me!"

Argit stared at Kevin. All at once, he could see that monster. Taunting him...mocking him... With a hiss, he bolted forward and raked his nails across Kevin's other cheek. Kevin didn't even flinch. Now, he looked like a very deformed tabby, four long gashes across each cheek. Up close, he noticed something: the silver band around Kevin's neck was nothing but aluminum foil. Still, Kevin didn't move.

"Believe me now?"

The possum alien felt a new emotion entering his system: guilt. "Kev..." He pulled of his jacket and made to put it to Kevin's face. His old partner just moved away.

"No. I deserve this. I'm gonna let them scar. Then I'm sure to never forget."

Argit dropped his coat to the ground. "Why'd you let me do that?"

"I'm selfish." Kevin stood up and walked over to one of the hard beds. "Mentally, I'm in agony. I wanted to spread the pain out a little." He smiled and brought a hand to his cheek. "It feels kinda nice, actually."

This couldn't be Kevin! Argit stared at the black haired boy, wondering if this could be some kind of imposter. 'No...it's really him...' He took a step toward Kevin. "Dude...you're messed up!"

Kevin laughed darkly. "You're just now figuring that out?"

Argit stared at the ground. This was so...sad. He'd never imagined wanting to cry before, but...seeing Kevin like this made him just want to lie down and weep. 'His crazy pain is contagious...' "Kevin, I-"

"Do me a favor, Argit." Kevin broke in. "Don't forgive me."

"What? But, why-"

"I want to feel double the pain I caused everyone else." Kevin fell back on the bed. "I haven't seen or talked to Mom, Ben, or Gwen since I changed back. I'm not going home for Christmas. For all they know, I could be dead. Gwen will eventually get a new boyfriend and Ben will find a new friend. I went to the hospital and allowed that kid I beat up to yell at me. He told me he hated me. It wasn't nearly enough. Then, I turned myself in." He turned toward Argit. "The punishment I deserve isn't within the Plumbers' boundaries to give me, so I'm gonna give it to myself."

Argit couldn't speak. He couldn't move. He could only think.

He didn't understand.

Have a nice day, Mr. Angst. Goodbye! Ta-ta! *door closes* ...See you very soon... ARGH! This episode took me from a happy holiday mood to intense depression SO fast... I mean, Argit saying "No more..." just made me wince. And what Kevin said to Gwen...and the whole thing with...NYARGH! Gwen crying in the end almost set me over the edge! Talk about depressing! I'm caught between two thoughts for this mutant arc: On one hand, the plot is amazing and engaging. On the other...KEVIN IS A MONSTER! I suppose it will all depend on how this ends. If, in the end, Kevin becomes good, I will forever remember this as the best stretch of Ben 10 episodes in ages. If Kevin stays evil or dies, this arc will go down in history as the cause of an entire writing staff's death. Now, I'm almost POSITIVE that Kevin will have major mental problems when he turns back. Just...he just CAN'T be normal after all this! Let's keep our fingers crossed for Absolute Power. Let Kevin change back so the comfort can begin...let him change back...let him...