Chapter 16

Edited 11/15/14

Disclaimer: I do not own Fantastic Four or any of the dialogue from the movie that is in this story. I own Ember and any variations in the story line and dialogue not seen in the movie.


"Ben, this is ridiculous," I whined as we walked up the stairs of the Baxter Building. "You really think Reed is not going to be sitting at his computer doing billions of calculations? This is Reed we're talking about here."

"I never said that he wasn't going to be," Ben retorted as he led the way up the stairs.

"You implied it," I huffed as I followed behind him. Geez going up this many flights is killing my thighs! Eh, at least I'm getting in a great work out. "Dumb old Victor got into your head and now you're being paranoid. I mean, come on! Sue would never distract Reed from something important like this. She knows how you feel about your situation. She cares about you just like Reed and I do."

"I guess we'll see," he replied shortly as we finally got to the top of the building. As soon as we walked into the apartment, I set Bubbles down on the ground. He barked happily and took off to explore. Silly dog. I hope he doesn't get lost in here.

"Reed!" Ben called out. His whole body tensed when there was no response. My eyebrows scrunched in confusion as silence reigned.

"Sue?" I tested as we still got no response. I bit my lip and looked at Ben nervously. "Umm, maybe-"

Before I could start making excuses for the multiple possibilities of why our friends weren't here, Ben stopped me with a simple raise of his hand. Hurt and anger swirled in his eyes. I sighed sadly. There was no use arguing with him. He roughly grabbed a chair and yanked it to the middle of the giant room so that it had a view of the hallway that lead to the stairs and elevator.

Deciding not to bother with his stubborn self, I headed towards my bedroom to change. I really needed to clean up after the long day I had had. Between going with Johnny to the motor bike event with dirt galore, walking around the city with Ben and Bubbles, and all the rain we had today, I needed a shower. Desperately so.

It felt nice to stand under the warm water and scrub myself down. Sometimes it's the little things in life you really have to focus on. They really do help you feel better.

As I scrubbed delicious smelling shampoo and then conditioner into my long, curly, red locks, I thought about Johnny. I wonder if I've been overreacting at all. I mean it's not like Johnny means it when he insults and picks on Ben. He's just being Johnny. Then again, do I really want to date someone who's heartless enough to call my brother a thing? I mean what would that say about me as a person if I picked Johnny over my own brother!

Confusion, anger, and hurt swirled through me as I sighed sadly and stepped out of the shower. Just calm down, Ember. What would Taylor Swift do? Heh. Okay, on a serious note though. I need to find an even balance. I can't let Johnny walk all over Ben, but at the same time still have fun with Johnny because pranking Ben is just too much fun! Let's not forget, Ben did say he was okay with me dating Johnny. You know in his own Ben way.

Alright, here's what I'll do. If Johnny seriously does apologize - and means it – for what he has said and done to Ben, then I'll forgive him. Not right away, of course. I wouldn't be a girl if I didn't make him work for my forgiveness a bit. If I just let him get away with it, then he wouldn't learn anything. Where's the fun in that?

Feeling relief that I finally made a decision, I dried off and wrapped my towel around me to head to my bedroom. I jumped in surprise when I padded into my room to see a tiny chocolate fluff ball asleep on my pillow on my bed. I covered my mouth to stifle my giggle as a wide smile spread across my face. Poor little Bubbles is sound asleep after the long day he's had. I have no idea how he even managed to get up there.

I shook my head in silent laughter as I pulled out some clothes to wear. I slid on a cute knee length black skirt, a long sleeved cream blouse, and some knee high black boots that had a tiny heel. My red curls are still damp but eh they'll dry soon. I laid a towel on the end of the bed and set a bowl of water and a bowl of dog food on top of it. Ben and I had picked up supplies for Bubbles today while we were out and about. That includes the squeaky and stuff-filled toys that are currently laying all over my floor, and the new pink collar with ID tag hanging delicately around Bubbles' neck. Don't give me that look! He doesn't know he's wearing a pink collar. I do what I want.

I made sure to fill his bowls before I softly closed the door to my bedroom and headed back out to the invention room where you first walk in to the apartment. Ben was still sitting silent and angry like I had left him. I opened my mouth but slammed it shut. There's nothing I can really say in this situation. Whoa. That's a first.

My head snapped towards the elevators as we could hear the doors sliding open. A giggling Sue smiled adoringly at Reed as he laughed along at whatever joke had been previously made. They stopped short once they saw Ben and I staring at them. Well, I was staring uncomfortably/warningly at them. Ben was more like laser glaring at them as if he could set them on fire with his eyes alone.

Immediately, a thick tension filled the room as it became a stare down - Ben versus Reed.

"Yeah," Ben muttered hurt, "I have that effect on people."

*DING DING DING* Welcome folks to the BFS – Best Friend Smackdown. Here on the right we have an angry hurt best friend and on the left we have the lovesick puppy who abandoned him. Round 1 – GO!

"Ben," Reed started half-pleading, already knowing that it was going to be difficult to explain anything to Ben. He stepped forward towards us as Sue stayed back by the doors to the lab.

"Oh - so you to remember my name now?" Ben said upset as he got from his position next to me and met Reed halfway. His form easily dwarfed Reed even though they were almost equal in height. "Well, do you also remember what you swore to do with every breath in your body?!"

"We're working as hard as we can," Reed countered as his eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I wanted to defend Reed and Sue. Afterall, I knew for a fact that they were working very hard, since most of the time I was right there with them. However, it doesn't look good to find them not only not here researching per usual, but also giggling as they come back. On the other hand, I want to protect Ben just because... Well, because Ben has been through so much as I've said time and time again. I can't, and simply won't, leave Ben alone to defend himself against the world. He deserves to be normal again, even if the rest of us decide to stay how we are.

Ben snorted mockingly as he glanced from Reed to Sue's position far away from them. "Yeah. I can tell."

I immediately started to argue with Ben. It's one thing to argue with Reed, but it's a different story to blame Sue for making sure Reed doesn't overwork himself as he tends to do. "Ben, that's not fair-"

"NO!" Ben roared, sparing only an angry glare at me before keeping a steady gaze on Reed. "Victor was right."

"Ben, I don't know if this thing will change us back or make us worse," Reed tried to explain as he walked towards the chamber that could control Ben's fate. He started to become angry as well as his voice escalated. "I need you to be patient a little longer!"

"Reed! Look at me!" Ben demanded enraged as he motioned with three fingered hands towards his rocklike figure.

"I am looking!" Reed cried desperately. "That's why I can't make a mistake! I've got to make it right and it's not right yet. We need to test it!"

*DING DING* Round 1 goes to the stretchy nerd in a funny costume! Round 2 – GO!

Ben shoved an angry finger into Reed's chest, causing him to stumble back as Ben stalked forward for every step Reed took back.

"I spent my whole life protecting you! And for what? So that you could play twister with your girlfriend while I'm the freak of the week!" Ben's voice continued to get louder as he roughly shoved Reed. Reed crashed back into a small cart, causing it and himself to fall to the ground as Sue and I gasped.

"Ben, stop it!" Sue demanded bravely as she took a step forward.

"You stay out of this, Susy," Ben warned her as Reed started to pull himself up. I felt shock course through my body at his warning. I can't believe he just threatened Sue! Sue!

"You stop it or I will," she continued unnerved by the clear threat. I, however, am still shocked that Ben would threaten her.

"Benjamin Jacob Grimm!" I cried fuming. "Don't you dare threaten her! Or so help me-"

*DING DING* Round 2 goes to the stupid red head who can't keep her mouth shut! Final round – GO!

Before I could finish my own threat at my brother, Reed stupidly decided it would be wise move to jump on said enraged rock giant. At least he was smart enough to use his power to his advantage.

Reed tackled Ben from behind and wrapped his legs around Ben's. Ben quickly grabbed Reed's head and threw him, causing his upper body to stretch as he flew towards the second level of the apartment that had a view of this invention area. His lower body, however, stayed with Ben, allowing him to stretch back down as he wrapped his arms around Ben's.

"Calm down!" Reed tried to instruct him as Ben continued to grab his head to pull him off once again. That only ended with Reed wrapping his whole upper body around Ben's again while his arms finally wrapped securely around Ben's own.

Ben slowly huffed and unwillingly calmed down as he had no other option.

"Good thing you're flexible enough to watch your own back," Ben said quietly as Reed untangled himself from Ben's body. Ben calmly stepped away and spared a long look at him. "'Cause I ain't doin' it no more."

*DING DING DING* KO! And the winner is the giant rock monster that not only can crush your body, but also your heart! Ouch, that has got to hurt.

Ben looked at Sue blankly, "You two are on your own."

He started to stalk away as Sue looked thoroughly shocked. I looked sadly at Reed and Sue, but they only nodded sadly at me as they knew I had to follow him.

I started to go after him, but when I got to the hallway I saw him opening the door to the stairs.


He stopped me short as he shot me a meaningful glance.


I felt the hurt rip through me as he turned around and continued to leave without me. Only very rarely did Ben ever not want my presence. And I never liked it when it happened.

"But Ben," I sniffed as the door to the stairs closed behind him.

My heart felt like it had been ripped out and stomped on.

I'm surprised it wasn't use to it already.


After standing shocked in the hallway for a few minutes, I decided to try to follow after him anyways. And even if I couldn't find Ben, I felt too restless to stay here anyways.

I took the elevator down as I ran a hand tiredly over my face. I looked up to the ceiling pleading to whoever may hear me, "Why does my life always feel like I'm walking through a balloon shop with a porcupine purse?"

With only silence and cheesy elevator music as my response, I figured there was no correct answer to my rhetorical question. Who knew?

The elevator doors slid open and I blinked in surprise as I stepped out to see Johnny standing in front of me. While it took my brain a minute to figure out what the hell was going on, my mouth was much quicker as it eagerly caressed his name in question form, "Johnny?"

That heart melting smile of his stretched across his face at me, which really didn't help when my brain finally kicked in and reminded me that we – my brain and I – had earlier decided to forgive Johnny if he apologized.

"I'm sorry," he said after taking a deep breath. I raised an eyebrow at him as my lips pursed in thought. I nodded for him to continue. Confusion tugged at his face. "Really sorry?"

I waited a moment and when he didn't continue both of my eyebrows raised as if to say 'you're kidding me, right?'. 'Cause that was seriously a lame apology. He had a lot to make up for. A lot. It's a long list that I'm not going to bother trying to name everything. It would kill too many trees.

He sighed dramatically but didn't continue even after my prompt. He simply grabbed my arm and started to drag me with him through the lobby.

"Hey! Let go of me!" I demanded angrily as he pulled me towards the entrance of the Baxter Building. "Johnny!"

"No way," he shook his head stubbornly, a grin tugging at his lips. "You're still angry at me. Even after my apology!"

"Really? I had no idea. It was just so sincere how could anyone not love it," I drawled sarcastically as he pulled me outside into the warm night air.

"And I'm going to make it up to you," he smiled at me deviously. Surprise spread across my face as I could see the sincerity in his bright blue eyes. My eyebrows drew in confusion.

"How do you plan on doing that?" I asked curiously, not noticing that I had stopped struggling and was walking with him through the crowded sidewalk. People whispered and stared as they saw us, but we hardly noticed as that was the new normal anytime we went out of the Baxter Building.

My heart beat furiously as it was thrilled to be in Johnny's presence again. It felt like I hadn't seen him in forever. Even if we had been together just this morning.

"It's a surprise," he winked as his blue eyes sparkled. My curiosity grew steadily as I eagerly followed him into the night, my heart beat stuttering along.