Written for the de-age (physical) square of the H/C bingo challenge. Title taken from O Children by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Warnings include very minor language and an extremely hypothetical mention of pedophilia.


Ben knows his life is kind of screwed up. He goes hero and he fights aliens and he has an arch-nemesis. It's cool most of the time because he can turn into a giant flying bug that grosses the Dweeb out, but then sometimes stuff like this happens.

"We totally only got caught because you're stupid," Ben declares.

"I do not remember you being this obnoxious," the teenager says.

Ben squints his eyes at him and snorts. "Well, I don't remember you being sane, so I guess we're both confused." He kicks his feet against the side of his cot because he's bored and he's pretty sure the noise is driving the other guy nuts.

The other guy who's Kevin 11. Only he's not 11 and he hasn't tried to kill Ben yet. It's confusing him a little.

Actually, everything is confusing him. He's not supposed to be here or Kevin's not supposed to be here. One of them's wrong and Ben's pretty sure it's him.

He clutches the jacket around his shoulders and scowls. He feels like he's wearing a dress and that's not okay. He's a hero. He shouldn't have to sit around in a t-shirt that goes down to his knees because his stupid jeans keep falling off.

The guy that's maybe Kevin (probably Kevin) looks over at him, snorts, and says, "Always knew you were secretly a girl, Tennyson."

Ben bristles. "I'm not the one with girl hair," he snaps. "Even the freak's hair is shorter than yours and she's way more manly than you'll ever be." There. That's a nice, double insult, right? Score. He gives himself a mental high five and scoots a little further away from Kevin.

He's got hands the size of dinner plates or something, he does not want to be near him in case he decides to start punching or grabbing.

"You're a riot, kid," Kevin says.

"You're an evil jerk."

"I keep telling you, I'm not evil anymore. I'm even considered a good guy most of the time."

Yeah, right. "How stupid do you think I am?" Ben demands. "I listened to you once and you turned out to be a liar. I'm not going to trust you again."

Kevin crosses his arms over his chest and glares. "Well, you did."

"Big me can't be that stupid," Ben says. He's really hoping it's true.

"Hate to tell you this," Kevin says, "But you're kind of a moron. You talked the Highbreed into sharing their sandbox with the rest of the universe. The Highbreed, kid. I don't know if crazy covers the amount of stupidity in that stunt."

"I'm not a moron!" Ben explodes up onto his feet and then sways a little. Oh, right. He puts a hand to his head and screws his face up; they'd smacked him when they threw him in here. He's kind of dizzy, even if nothing really hurts.

He ignores the ache all down one of his arms. If he ignores it, it doesn't hurt, right?

A hand clutches his shoulder. Ben stares down at it blankly for a minute before he jumps and kicks Kevin in his shin. "Don't touch me!"

"You really are a total brat." Kevin grimaces; the hand on his shoulder squeezes down hard for a minute, but Ben refuses to let himself cringe.

He slides out from under Kevin's hand and leans back against the cot again. "Takes one to know one," he says sullenly.

Ben looks around the cell. There's not that much room to get away from Kevin if he suddenly goes psycho like Ben's expecting him too and he's dizzy. His head kind of feels like it's floating over his shoulders and tilted at the same time.

It's not a concussion, he's pretty sure. He remembers those hurting more. This just feels weird.

"Sit back down before you fall on your face," Kevin says.

Ben pauses in the act of sitting and forces himself upright again. He crosses his arms, glaring at stupid Kevin's stupid grown up face. "No," he mutters. He's not gonna do what this jerk says. "You're not the boss of me. Just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're smarter than me."

"Pretty sure it does, pipsqueak." Kevin smirks at him and then goes digging into his pockets. Ben warily leans against his stupid cot and tries not to let his heart start to beat faster.

Stupid, stupid psycho Kevin. He slides as far away from Kevin as he can and tries to look like he hasn't moved. He's brave, okay. He can totally take Kevin, he's done it a ton of times, but the Omnitrix on his wrist is wrong and his head hurts, so maybe he should just stay away.

This Kevin kind of looks like a giant. Ben slides another look at him, measuring, and scoots another inch to the side. Giant. It's not fair. Kevin's already taller than him, even when he was human and not that monster mismatch freak, and now this one is, like, three times as tall as he is.

"Stupid Kevin," Ben mutters under his breath and leans his head against the wall.

Kevin points at him with a finger without looking up from his pockets. "If you pass out, I'm going to draw things on your face," Kevin says. He brandishes a marker a second later, looking pleased with himself.

"I'd like to see you try," Ben says. He plops his butt onto the cot and turns his face away to ignore him. It's cold in this stupid room and his jacket, while kind of awesome, isn't all that warm. Whatever the leather is lined with, it's soft but not fuzzy and his t-shirt's thin.

"I'm cold," Ben declares moodily, kicking the cot again.

Kevin sighs. "What're you expecting me to do about it?"

"I don't know," Ben mutters. "It's just cold. I bet you can't feel it because you so fat, but I can."

"I am not fat, you little brat."

Ben makes a big show of leaning over to inspect Kevin. "You look fat to me," he says.

"I'm gonna let that one slide," Kevin says, "Just because I know I kind of owe you for that whole trying to kill you stuff when we were ten. But I'm not fat. You're just scrawny."

"I'm ten," Ben says bluntly. He is kind of scrawny, but he can turn into ten totally kick-butt aliens that aren't. Besides, he knows what he looks like when he's all grown up; he's definitely not going to be scrawny when he's thirty. "I'll get bigger. You're just gonna get fatter. Fatty."

"It's no wonder I tried to kill you so often," Kevin says.

The world kind of tilts alarmingly when Ben stands up and turns to kick the cot's leg. He flails with one arm to try to find something to cling to and then someone picks him up. He ends up against Kevin's chest, his legs dangling down stupidly.

"Let go!" Ben demands, wriggling. The arms around his middle are the size of his legs, though, and he can't get out of them. He kicks back with his heels in a last ditch effort; Kevin grunts, which Ben takes as a good sign, but then he just uses one hand to trap Ben's knees.

Ben lets himself hang for a minute, panting. "Let go!" he yells.

Kevin grunts in his ear and says, "Stop struggling, Ben, I'm not gonna hurt you."

"No, you're gonna suffocate me with all of your fat," Ben says vindictively and squints down at the ground. It kind of does this slow sideways slide, though, and that's the only reason he presses his face against Kevin's bicep. "Let me go."

"You're not doing a real good job of convincing me," Kevin mutters, shifting. The arm trapping Ben's legs tightens when Ben tries to kick him again, so Ben does the next best thing.

He bites Kevin. Not that hard though; he's mostly just holding on with his teeth and Kevin has two layers of shirts on anyway. He doesn't actually want to get dropped and his Omnitrix thing is still blinking red at him.

"If you draw blood I'm going to throw you at the wall," Kevin warns him.

"I'm gonna die of suffocation anyway," Ben mumbles around Kevin's arm. "It's like being held by a squishy hippo or something."

Kevin takes a couple of steps backwards and sits on Ben's cot. "You drool on me, we're gonna have words when you're back to normal, Tennyson."

Ben lets that go because he's more busy with the fact that this means he's in Kevin's lap. He takes his mouth off of Kevin's arm and slants a suspicious glance up through his hair. "Are you some kind of pervert too?"

"Dude," Kevin says. His face pulls up into this kind of epic grimace that reminds Ben of the faces Uncle Max makes when he decides to use one of his aliens to drive the megafreak up the wall. "I promise I have no interest in your scrawny little butt, okay? That's just gross."

Ben shrugs. "Guy can't be too careful," he says. He doesn't make a move to get down, though; this Kevin doesn't seem as crazy as his Kevin. And Ben can totally take him if he tries anything. The Omnitrix has just blinked over into a cheerful, familiar green.

Besides, Kevin's warm and it's cold in here. Ben huddles down into Kevin's chest and wraps his fingers into the loose material of Kevin's sleeves to keep them from getting too cold. The stupid leather jacket can't wrap around his hands like a real jacket can.

"Gwen should be here soon," Kevin says. It ruffles Ben's hair and he thinks about making a comment about death breath, but he doesn't. He totally has self control. Sometimes.

"She's never gonna let me live it down if she has to rescue me," Ben mumbles.

He realizes his eyes are closed a second before Kevin laughs. "We get rescued by her all the time, Benji," Kevin says, "You should just get a head start on getting used to it."

Ben flicks his eyes open even though they feel like they weigh a ton. He's not going to fall asleep in his arch-enemies lap; what kind of hero does that? He's awake. He is. "Don't call me Benji," he mumbles and knuckles at his eyes with the back of his fingers.

"Shut up and go to sleep," Kevin says. "You don't gotta rescue us."

They're in a cell. It's cold and it's dark and Ben's hand feels way too heavy for him to even think about going for the Omnitrix. "I'm a hero," he slurs, "I gotta-"

"You don't," Kevin interrupts. "Seriously, Ben, I saw the kinds of hits you took before they managed to get you with that molecular decelerator. You shouldn't even really be awake right now."

"It's 'cause I'm awesome," Ben manages.

He hears Kevin laugh again. "Just so you know," Kevin says into his hair, "When you're back to normal in, oh, about an hour and a half, we are never talking about this again. Ever. It never happened."

Ben twists his fingers in Kevin's shirt and doesn't say anything.