A/N: Hello, hello once again Bwen nation. You all probably thought I was dead, eh? But I'm right here live and in living word form. You might wanna thank another certain author for indirectly giving me my motivation back. Of course, as usual don't expect a quick update after this. I'm still me after all. Muahaha.
Before we start, I would like to warn you that a character I'm about to reintroduce here that's from the show will have a completely different personality than what you're used to. And I mean major overhaul. I like the character and all but I just find the personality to be completely bland and generic, which doesn't really stand out so this is my own take. Don't sue me please, Ben 10 writers. And my story is after all in an alternate timeline so I at least enjoy some creative freedom. Loopholes are wonderful.
Disclaimer: I don't own Ben 10. If I did, I would be very rich and parents everywhere will complain about the show.
Chapter 3: Daddy Day Care
A pair of intense, emerald eyes swiftly swung focus to the left, meticulously studying the surroundings within the range of vision. A parking lot suddenly came into view. Fortunately, it was as empty as was hoped. A few cars parked but no potential sign of danger. Those same emerald eyes now quickly shifted to the right. An empty basketball court— with maybe a single tumbleweed rolling by. Again, no likely threats spotted.
Ben breathed a huge sigh of relief, but he knew he couldn't keep his guard down. At any moment, one may suddenly appear from the shadows, from a corner—maybe even from above. Gritting his teeth, he cursed at himself silently at his current predicament. This was one of those things he couldn't prepare himself for, no matter the conditioning. Damn, fate was cruel. Glancing at his surroundings again, he scanned for a possible temporary hiding spot. As luck would have it, there was an empty alleyway just up ahead. Maybe fate had a change of heart.
Taking in one last deep breath, he gripped the handlebar tightly before making a mad dash for it. All that soccer training was finally starting to pay off outside the field, as he managed to reach the alleyway in virtually no time at all.
Panting hard as he tried to recollect himself, he reached deep into his pocket and fished out his phone. Pushing on speed dial, he pressed it against his ear and waited for the three usual rings before his call was finally answered. "What?" came a rather icy response from the other end.
"Gwen, can I please come back home now? I know I swore I'll gladly make up for before but this is just too embarrassing. Can't I just be your personal butler for the day instead? Even dog, I'll settle for dog."
"Sorry Ben, but I did say I'll make you pay, and I couldn't think of a worse punishment. Serves you right anyway," shot back his cousin, sounding like she was enjoying this more than she needed to. "Who would've thought the great Ben Tennyson, hero of heroes, would be reduced to begging his own cousin— to be her dog, no less? What could be sadder?"
Ben could suddenly feel his cheeks burning. The thought of him acting like a dog in front of Gwen. Crawling on all fours and doing dog stuff, like fetching a ball, or harassing the mailman, or even...tackling Gwen and licking her all over her face. He quickly shook his head from such thoughts. "Idiot, what're you saying?!" he said, almost yelling, looking quite flustered.
"Hey, hey, calm down. You were the one that suggested it, doofus. And who knows? I might just reconsider your offer. I'll call you back when I change my mind, okay?" she said sounding as sweet as possible. Ben's not buying into it, though. "And if you do make it back with your integrity still intact, I might even reward you for being such a good boy. I do love cuddling dogs—especially the feisty ones."
The burning sensation in the cheeks is back again. "W-why would I even care about that stuff?! What kind of stupid reward is that?!" This time he was yelling. Oh Ben, so naive; so weak-minded.
"Eh, either way you have no choice so it doesn't matter."
"Fine, whatever. I'll go through with this...but not because I'm expecting some sort of hug!" he quickly added. He looked down to what has been the bane of his existence for the past hour-and-a-half—a baby stroller, one of those intricate-looking ones, deep blue in color with the silver handlebars. Gwen had burrowed it from a friend, and Ben is, unfortunately, paying the price for it. Inside, a sack of flour fitted snugly, covered halfway by a blue-and-white striped, cotton blanket.
"Yeah, yeah–just be sure you aren't cheating your way out of your punishment. I would know if you did, Benjamin Kirby Tennyson." As far as discipline goes, the full name calling always does the trick. "Besides, little Bwen deserves a day out with daddy."
"Er...Bwen?" Ben retorted, raising an eyebrow. This time, he could feel Gwen blushing.
"I just...I couldn't think of a good name, alright? So I just...mixed both ours," she said her voice slowly fading. The last statement could barely be heard. "Why, you gotta problem with that?!"
For the first time in quite a while, Ben managed to crack a smile. "And who was the sad one again, hmm?" he mocked, finally getting the upper hand.
"S-shut up! Just don't come back until sunset! Bye!" And with that the call was abruptly ended.
"Dweeb," chuckled Ben upon hearing the connection drop dead. Putting away his phone, he sighed to himself before taking another glance at the stroller. "Bwen, huh?"
Gwen huffed as she jumped back on her bed. Her eyes wandered back to the phone which was still glued to her hand. "Doofus, why do you have to be so frustrating all the time? Why can't you just let me have my moment for once?" she murmured to herself. "And I said all those weird things to him, too. Stupid. Stupid."
There was a sudden knock at the door.
"It's open," Gwen called out in monotone as she stared at the ceiling, lightly tapping her phone on her forehead.
The door slowly swung open, and Ken's head popped in, looking half-confused and half-grinning. "Sorry to be disturbing you, baby sis, but I couldn't help overhearing your conversation from outside. Having another argument with your boyfriend?"
Gwen suddenly sat up and glared at him with eyes twitching. "Liar! You were eavesdropping again!" she growled at him. "And for the record it was with Ben, idiot!"
"Right, what did I say?" Ken replied with an innocent laugh.
And just like that Ken found himself on the receiving end of a flying pillow. It hit him squarely on the nose, and he stumbled back, accidentally tripping over a laundry basket he had placed down earlier. Then a loud crash was heard. Ken laid there on the floor looking quite dazed, as bits of clothes lay scattered all over the floor and some on top of him. "That girl..," he groaned to himself.
Gwen sighed to herself and used her powers to telekinetically close the door with an audible click. "I swear irritating runs on the male side of this family." She clutched both arms tightly around a stuffed bear she always had with her bedside whenever she needed some comfort. She couldn't help but glance, though, at her bedroom window.
"I wonder what he's doing right now..."
Ben begrudgingly trudged along the sidewalk pavement, a noticeable scowl in his face, as he unwillingly pushed the stroller in front of him. "Why does it feel like I'm walking on wet cement or something?" Maybe he was being a little too paranoid, however. Maybe nobody he knows would spot him and add more fuel to the flame. Maybe...eh, who was he kidding? Everyone knows who he is. He's the Ben Tennyson for crying out loud. His reputation would seriously take a huge dive if anyone saw him.
"So much for my Mr. Smoothy commercial ads," he sighed.
Just then, he noticed another figure not too far off. It was hard to make out who it was but he was sure he or she was coming his way. "Oh, no," Ben thought in panic, contemplating if he would back away and just run in the other direction.
There was something odd here, though. It looks as if he or she was also pushing some sort of baby stroller, Ben noticed. He scrunched his eyes, trying to make out the figure. No, he definitely wasn't seeing things. Someone indeed was also pushing along a stroller. Now if he could just close the gap and find out who it was—a few more steps and the...wait what?!
"Cash?!" Ben blurted out in complete shock. What the heck? Cash stopped dead in his tracks when he caught sight of his once former punching bag. There was an intense silence in the air as both teens stared each other down heavily, their hands unconsciously tightening their grip on the handlebar.
Cash's shoulders slumped when he noticed the stroller in front of Ben. "Gwen?"
And then once again there was dead silence. For a fleeting moment it seems like the both of them were on a mutual train of thought. That is until the silence was suddenly jolted.
"Hey, isn't that Ben Tennyson over there?" said a random passerby teen from the other side of the sidewalk.
"Really? Where?" piped a teenage girl near him. "Oh. Em. Gee! It's really him! But what's up with the baby stroller?"
"And who's that guy with him with the stroller, too?" chimed in another girl.
"Hey hero, nice stroller! Didya have an accident with one of your fangirls?" shouted some rowdy male teen from the back, as he and posse suddenly broke into laughter. Slowly, a mob was beginning to form.
"Not good," Ben thought to himself, taking a few steps back from the slowly expanding group of teens.
"That other guy must be his bodyguard or something. But a second stroller? I guess that Ben Tennyson guy had more than a few outings. How disgusting!"
"Ever heard of protection, hero?!"
"I gotta take a picture of this! Front page here I come!"
"I don't care what you guys think. He's still so cute! Ben, over here!"
"Hey Ben, transform into one of those cool alien dudes."
"The Ben Ten, live and in person? With a baby stroller to boot! This is so going in my blog!"
"Isn't he usually with that cousin of his? And now a stroller? Do you think that they..? Oh my..."
"I should be Ben's bodyguard! This is so unfair! Let's run him outta his job!"
Now the growing crowd was starting to become restless. Slowly, they were advancing towards the two helpless teens—well, one of them is, anyway. Several white vans with the different, famous newscast logos on them were suddenly appearing from every corner. Great, even the media is getting in on the action.
"Does this always happen?" Cash gritted as he and Ben continued to back away, trying to avoid the frenzied crowd.
"Not usually. We just happened to run into the crazy ones," Ben replied as the both of them were slowly being surrounded.
"Well, got any brilliant ideas, hero?"
"Just one: Run!"
"Well, why didn't I think of that?" came Cash's sarcastic remark as they bolted past the crowd, bobbing and weaving between hordes of teens and adults alike, expertly navigating through the maze of bodies all the while making sure the flour sacks were safe.
"Never thought I'd be on the other end of a chase," Cash smirked, all the while keeping pace with Ben.
"Call it poetic justice for all those times when we were in fifth grade," Ben replied with a smirk of his own. "But here now, I'm risking my life for flour sacks, not snot-nosed Edwin from Mathletes club. Left!" he shouted as both teens made a sharp corner turn.
"I'm sorry, alright. I know I was a jerk to you before. But you have to admit those were some fun times. And you even broke the record for longest time wedgied on a tree branch."
"Ha ha, hilarious. Anyway, how are you and Julie getting along?"
"Eh, don't even get me started. It's nag this and nag that—was she always that bossy?"
"Oh, you wouldn't believe." Both teens suddenly broke into laughter. Turning their heads around, they saw that the mob was still in hot pursuit—and even worse, both of them were starting to get exhausted.
"There's no shaking these guys!"
"We can cut through here," Ben shouted, as they swerved at nearest turn, running into a narrow alley. They stopped behind a nearby dumpster, their hands clutching their knees as they tried to catch their breath. They could hear the ruckus from the mob as they passed by them.
"Well that was...terrible. But at least the sacks are in one piece," Ben wheezed, nervously chuckling, patting the stroller's handlebar.
"Yeah, that was quite a run. Didn't think you had it in you, Tennyson—when you're not transforming into one of those aliens, anyway. Wait, why didn't you just transform into some alien dude and fly us out of there or something?!"
"Couldn't risk the sack...or the stroller, or Gwen will have my head," Ben replied in between breaths.
"You and that cousin of yours are like major tight, huh?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"And she's quite the looker, too. D'ya think she's single or some—" Cashed stopped mid-sentence when he noticed Ben's piercing gaze directed at him. "Umm, never mind. Do you think we lost them?"
"Probably, but through personal experience it's not usually easy to shake these guys o—"
"There he is!" a small girl pointed out in their direction, and suddenly the mob appeared again, seemingly having fluctuated in number. All we need now are the torches and pitchforks.
"Crap! What now?" Cash shouted as the crowd ran towards them like a horde of brainless zombies. Or Apple users.
"Divide and conquer! There's an intersection up ahead. You take left and I go right! Agreed?" There was no response though. Ben turned his head only to see that no one was beside him. Cash had just totally ditched him. "Unbelievable," Ben muttered to himself. "Ah well, screw it, I don't see any other option. Sorry Gwen!" Ben shouted as he scrolled through the Omnitrix and pressed down hard with his hand. Suddenly, a brilliant green flash briefly engulfed the area, stunning the rambunctious crowd.
Where Ben Tennyson stood before, now only a burnt circle mark on the ground and a puff of smoke remained, much to the confusion and disappointment of the crowd. Even the stroller was gone.
At a fountain in the center of Bellwood Park, a ghastly figure suddenly rose from the ground, his chilling gaze frightening some people who were taking a leisurely walk, sending them scurrying to different directions. Sighing to himself at the scene he unintentionally caused, Big Chill gently put the stroller down and pressed hard on the insignia on his chest. Another brilliant green flash and Ben Tennyson stumbled to the ground, looking quite worn out.
"Glad that's over." Picking himself up, he dusted the dirt on his jeans and jacket and proceeded to sit at the edge of the fountain. "Gwen, I am so gonna get you back for this," he mumbled to himself, letting at one huge sigh. Just then the image of him acting like a dog again and viciously tugging at his cousin's clothes with his teeth ran through his mind. "Damn, what is wrong with me?" he groaned to himself, covering his face with his hands. "Am I really that perverted?"
"Ben?" he suddenly heard a female voice calling out to him. Snapping out of his reverie, he lifted his head to see who it was. His eyes widened at the sight before him. A small gust of wind blew past them as they continued to stare at each other. Finally, a smile shaped itself unto Ben's lips.
Gwen couldn't stop pacing back and forth her bedroom floor, stopping to check her phone in hand every once in a while, before resuming her pacing again. It's been a while since the dweeb had called—which was quite unusual. Normally, he'd call every half hour or so to complain, but it's been past an hour since he did. Maybe he ran into some trouble. Or maybe something happened to him. Or worse...maybe something happened to the sack.
"I may have gone overboard with his punishment. I should've just gone with the dog thing." A small blush crept up her cheeks at the thought of Ben as a dog—complete with dog ears and tail. She shook her head vigorously, trying to erase the thought. "No, no, what am I thinking? This is Ben I'm talking about!" Her face got even more flustered as images of her happily running along a grassy field, with Ben on all fours in hot pursuit started to cloud her mind.
Ken walked past her door which he observed was slightly open. His sister must've forgotten to close it again when she came back upstairs after lunch. "I wonder what surprises awaits me this time," he chuckled as he quietly poked his head inside for a quick look. To his astonishment, there stood Gwen in the middle of the room, eyes closed, her hands cupping her flustered cheeks, and mouth agape. She looked completely out of it; she didn't even seem to notice him at all.
Ken smirked at the sight of his sister being adorably weird. And to think he should've been used to this by now. He gently closed the door making sure he wasn't heard. "Daydreaming about him, sis? Really?" He shook his head as he made his way downstairs.
"Didn't expect to find you here," Ben started as he and the girl from before sat side by side on a nearby park bench. He turned to her with a warm smile. "It's been a while, Eunice."
"Indeed it has, Ben. I've not seen you since I last departed with my creator, Azmuth. I am overjoyed to see your face, again," she said, returning his smile. There was always something unique to how Eunice spoke, Ben observed. It's like she was still grasping the concept of human language. Speaking of grasping...
"Just one question, though," Ben said with a nervous chuckle. "What's up with the turtle?" he asked, pointing to the small turtle Eunice had fashioned to a leash she was holding.
"Huh? Is it not customary for one to bring along an animal for companionship when talking a stroll along these recreational grounds?" Eunice tilted her head in confusion.
"Um, yeah, but usually we just go for a dog, but a turtle works too, I guess," Ben said, scratching his cheek with his index finger. I guess language isn't the only thing she needs to work on.
"I see," Eunice stated with a curious look, picking up the turtle with both hands. Surprisingly, it didn't withdraw in its shell. "You know so much about this planet. I wish to know as much as you. Azmuth has allowed me to linger here on Earth for awhile to try and understand what it is like to be more human."
"Guess Azmuth has a soft spot, after all," Ben thought to himself. "So you have a place you're temporarily staying at? Like an apartment or something?"
"I am well taken care of. Azmuth has asked a few of his acquaintances here on Earth to watch over me for the time being. They have accepted me into their home and they are very kind people," came her reply, gently stroking the shell of her turtle.
"I see. And they let you roam Bellwood all by yourself?" Ben raised an eyebrow. Eunice was still new to Earth culture and he was a little worried.
"I am fine. I am quite capable of defending myself, unless you've forgotten. Besides, it is much more enjoyable to explore new things without a guide. It is like an adventure of sorts." Eunice smiled sweetly at him, and Ben blushed at the sight. She's really cute.
"Well, it's too bad then. I would've been more than happy to show you around if you felt like it," Ben stated, rubbing the back of his neck. Suddenly, he felt a pair of delicate hands clutch his one free hand. Eunice's eyes were sparkling as she palmed and held up Ben's hand.
"Really? I would be most appreciative if it is with you, Ben! I have missed the freezing out with you a lot!" She looked very ecstatic.
"It's 'chilling out'," Ben chuckled. "But yeah, I guess you have yourself a tour guide." Just then, both Ben and Eunice registered a blush on their faces when they noticed the closeness of their proximity. Ben was especially taken back when he felt Eunice's hands tightening their grip on his. He swallowed hard when he saw Eunice close her eyes and lean in towards him, her face slowly inching closer and closer to his. His heart raced and pounded against his chest, and his breathing became uneven and shaky. His mind went back to that one night when they almost kissed—until they were interrupted, that is. But is this moment right now really it?
Ben figured it was best not to think too much about it as he closed his eyes and started to lean in as well. Their faces were so close; Ben could even feel Eunice's hot breaths on his face. The gap between them was slowly disappearing. Maybe this was it. They felt their nose lightly brush against each other. There was the slightest contact between their lips and then...
Ben jumped when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. Eunice quickly let go of his hands in surprise and they simultaneously looked away from each other, blushing deeply. Ben fumbled as he awkwardly tried to fish out his phone—his hands were shaking so much it made it the more difficult to. Finally, he did manage to get it out and hurriedly pressed 'Answer'.
"H-hello?" he sounded quite out of breath. "Gwen? No, I'm fine." Eunice smiled at the mention of his cousin's name. "Yeah, ran into some trouble earlier it's nothing major. I'm okay, I swear."
"You idiot! You made me worry for nothing!" Gwen was practically shouting from the other line. "Next time, maybe a bit of assurance would be nice."
"I'm sorry," Ben said, although he was smiling. "Jeez, you're worried about me that much?" he teased.
"Don't be ridiculous! It's not you I'm worried about—it's Bwen!" There was a small pause. "But...I'm glad you're okay, too." That last part was barely audible.
"Don't worry, she's fine, too. She has the wielder of the Omnitrix looking out for her after all. C'mon, have a little bit of faith in me, Gwendolyn. Wait...what? Come again? Where am I? At the park. In fact, I just ran into Eunice. She's here with me now, 'freezing out'," Ben said, taking a glance at her. Eunice happily waved at the phone even though she knew Gwen couldn't see her.
There was no response from Gwen's end, however. Ben suddenly felt a little uneasy at the silence.
"Gwen? Hello, are you still there? Hello?" Ben called out, trying not to sound too panicked.
"Y-yeah, sorry," Gwen finally answered back, her voice a bit low. "I guess I kinda spaced out for a moment."
"Oh, good." Ben breathed a sigh of relief. "Jeez, don't ever scare me like that again. Anyway, I'll definitely be home soon. Hmm? Of course, I'm talking about your house, dweeb. I wouldn't wanna be caught dead bringing this to my home. No, I am not being a wuss! Yeah, u-huh. See you then. Love you, hun!" The line suddenly went dead—even Eunice could hear the call end tone.
"Huh, and she doesn't even bother to say she loves me back," Ben joked, looking sheepishly at Eunice as he put his phone away. Eunice smiled brightly back at him.
"Gwendolyn, she's quite dear to you, is she not?" she asked, her tone almost in a sing-song manner.
"Well, yeah, we've been through quite a lot together. I almost don't hate her as much as I used to. Don't get me wrong, she's still the undisputed queen of dorks," he grinned. "But she's my adorably dorky cousin."
"Interesting," Eunice mused, reaching out to take hold of her turtle once more. "If you truly have a special association with her, then why not the both of you engage in the sharing of enjoyable recreation?"
Ben raised an eyebrow at her. "You know you're talking about a date, right?"
"Yes. Is something the matter?" Eunice replied, looking at him blankly.
"No. It's just...the whole thing is sorta complicated."
"Does it need to be?"
"Well...I'm not really sure how we can go about it, you know."
"Then why don't you begin with the purchasing of an enclosed medium in the shape of a symbol of endearment containing various types of confectioneries, followed by bountiful floral arrangements? Will she not be smitten by such a wonderful gesture?"
"Err...can we talk about this some other time?" Ben stuttered, nervously pulling on the collar of his undershirt.
"Of course, if now is inconvenient for you. We shall discuss more of this when you take me to the Aquarium tomorrow."
"Wait, what now?" Ben looked at her, confused.
"You promised to be my guide, yes? Unfortunately, it is not feasible today as the sun is setting. You, as well as I, are expected to be home by then. So I wish for us to visit the Aquarium tomorrow. I have never set foot there and it is supposedly lovely. Am I asking too much from you?" Eunice frowned as she put down her turtle.
"Um, no, not at all. I'd be happy to take you there," Ben said with a smile.
"Oh, thank you!" Eunice cried out as she suddenly threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around him in the process.
Ben could only smile back at her as he saw her overjoyed expression. "Cute."
"By the way, Ben," Eunice added, her arms still wrapped around him. "Why do you have a baby stroller with a sack of flour in it with you?"
"I'm back," Ben called out weakly, as he closed the door behind him and took off his jacket and threw it atop a nearby clothing rack. He felt so physically drained after today. He lowered his head and closed his eyes, sighing deeply, before looking back up.
The first sight he saw was that of Gwen standing in front of him with her arms crossed and a frown on her face. "Well, you sure took your damn time," she huffed, lightly tapping the floor with her foot.
"I was just catching up with Eunice. I told you not to worry so much," he grinned putting a hand on top of her head.
She stared at him for a moment before swatting it away. "Like I said, I was worried about the sack, not you," she murmured, picking up the sack from the stroller and examining it. "It looks okay."
"Told you, you gotta have more faith in me," he smirked as he jumped on the sofa, humming with contentment at finally being able to relax. "By the way, I kinda accidentally promised Eunice I'd take her to the Aquarium tomorrow, so I'll probably be gone for most of the day." Ben suddenly felt a chill run up his spine for some reason. Maybe he shouldn't have brought up that last part.
"Jeez, you are such a womanizer." Gwen pouted, shaking her head. Her voice sounded awfully strained. "And while we're in the middle of a project, too. Hopeless."
"I know, I'm sorry, but I couldn't back out of it. I promise I'll make up for it again. Double duty," Ben chuckled nervously, not really daring to look at Gwen, and just sat there straight with his eyes fixed at the not plugged in television.
He then felt a pair of arms wrap around his neck. For a moment, he thought Gwen was going to strangle him to death, but somehow he was still breathing. Even more so, he was surprised when she nuzzled up against his neck, and he couldn't help but blush from the contact.
"Told you I like to cuddle," she nervously whispered in his ear.
Then they heard a plate drop.
Both cousins quickly lifted their heads and turned their attention to where the noise came from. There stood Ken, completely immobilized—his mouth wide open, looking as if he was ready to bite down on a turkey sandwich he was holding up, but froze on the spot when he saw Ben and Gwen...um, having their moment.
Both cousins suddenly felt their cheeks heat up as they exchanged stares with Ken, they themselves unable to move.
"Ken!" they both yelled in unison.
"AHH! I SWEAR I DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING!"
A/N: Btw, to really get into the character of Eunice, just imagine her with this sweet-as-honey but naive sounding voice, which means you have to re-read her parts again. Oh, and for those who didn't get that one statement of hers, she was telling Ben to buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers for Gwen. Peace off!