Chapter ONE

"Ben! Ben! Come on Tennyson, don't die on me, man. Ben! Fuck! Where the fuck is Gwen?"

Ben's eyes opened slowly and he groggily stared at the figure above him. It took him a few seconds for his eyes to focus, and then a few more to recognize the face on the figure. "Kevin? What… What happened?" he asked, his voice raspy. He coughed from his rough throat and tried to sit up.

Kevin helped him and narrowed his eyes at him, trying to mask his concern. "Damn you, Tennyson! I thought that you went and died on me. As annoying as you are, you can sure kick some alien butt. What was I going to do without your help?"

Ben couldn't stop the smile that made its way onto his face. He'd known Kevin long enough to know when he was sincere and when he was just hiding his emotions. "I'm fine… The only thing that hurts is my ass… Kevin, what happened? Last thing I remember, we were fighting that robot thing."

"I don't really know. I was standing right next to you and then you… you just fell down. I tried to catch you and you had this dart in your neck. It was like a tranquilizer or something. Then, this saucer swooped down and Vilgax snatched you right out of my arms. I stayed back to fight the robot, which, now that I think about it was obviously a distraction. Gwen went after the saucer, and she hasn't been back. I stayed here to wait for one of you to come back, and then the saucer came back and just dropped you. I caught you and you were still passed out. I don't know what Vilgax did to you."

Ben squeezed his eyes shut, the setting sun and his headache making his eyes throb. "I don't… I don't remember anything. Why didn't Vilgax kill me?"

"He wants you to suffer." Both boys looked up and saw Gwen floating down. She landed on the ground and ran over. "I was so worried Ben. Are you hurt anywhere?"

"Just my ass. Forget that, I probably landed on it or something. What do you mean by that?"

"Just that it seems to be a pattern of his. Even when he has you his grasp, he doesn't kill you because he wants you to recognize your hopelessness and die painfully. He probably poisoned you or stuck a bomb on you. Kevin, check him for bombs."

Kevin nodded and lifted up Ben's shirt, putting to over his head so that the boy's arms were trapped. "Hey!" Ben complained, squirming.

"Chill out, Tennyson." Kevin said, annoyed. He ran his hands over the torso, trying to feel for inconsistencies that could mean a bomb having been inserted into his skin. He stripped off the boy's pants and tossed them aside, a fact that Ben couldn't change because his arms were still stuck.

"Kevin! We're in the middle of a park!"

"It's dark. No one's here except that blind bird lady." He turned to Gwen and fixed Ben's shirt so that he could get his pants back on. "Clear," he said. "No bombs."

"So poison, or some other form of internal torture. We need to get him to the doctor."

"Gwen, human doctors aren't going to be able to test for all the alien poisons."

"That's why we're taking him to Dr. Gravstoun. He's a healer from the planet Yuuo and moved here to take care of resident aliens after his planet was blown up by Vilgax. I've been learning alien healing techniques from him for the last few months. Come on Kevin, Ben. Ben?"

Kevin looked back at the brunette when he heard the worry in Gwen's voice and saw that he had passed out again. He frowned and scooped the smaller body up in his arms. "Alright, lead the way. I've got him."

Gwen nodded and started walking towards the outskirts of town, trying to avoid busy sections of town so that no one would see them and wonder why they were carrying around a passed out boy.

Gwen stopped in front of the forest on the outskirts of town. There was a story going around that the place was haunted.

"He's in here," she said, leading him forward, pushing branches out of the way and holding them for Kevin to get passed. They came upon and abandoned house in the middle of the forest. Kevin was actually kind of freaked out by it, but Gwen continued inside. "Doctor! Doctor, it's Gwen! I need your help!"

It was quiet for a moment before a door opened and an alien walked out. He was a bubblegum pink color with three trunks hanging off his face. Two nostrils and a mouth. His eye was the size of a dinner plate and was right in the center of his head. "Gwendolyn. How nice to see you again. I take it that this isn't a social call?"

"I'm afraid not, sir. This is Ben, the cousin I always tell you about. And this is Kevin."

"It's lovely to meet you, Kevin. I'd say the same to Ben but he seems to be a bit… incapacitated. What seems to be the problem, my dear?"

Gwen sighed. "We don't really know. He was kidnapped by Vilgax and then… just given back. I think that he was poisoned or something because Kevin checked him for bombs and found none. We know that Vilgax would just let him leave without doing something to torture and possibly kill him. He was awake for a little bit, but then he passed out again."

The doctor listened closely and nodded. "Follow me. I'll see what I can do." He turned and walked back through the door. Gwen and Kevin followed him in to the basement. The house was decrepit and falling apart, but the basement was chrome and full of technology, just like the inside of a saucer from old science fiction shows. "Lay him on the bed." Kevin nodded and laid the boy on bed that protruded from the wall. "Strap him in. Testing for poisons can be painful, depending on the poison, and I don't want him to hurt himself." Kevin reached across Ben's body and pulled the straps over, fastening them on the other side securely.

When the doctor pulled out a needle with a think purple liquid inside, Gwen got a sick look on her face. "Sorry," she mumbled, backing away. "Needles always give me goose bumps. I thought you didn't have to use needles in you practice. Don't you have more advanced technology than that?"

"Why, of course, but, sometimes, the classics work the best. This substance is too thick to go into any other of the tools I'd usually use. It won't hurt my feelings if you step out, my dear. I'll give you a call when it's finished, thought it could take all night."

Gwen nodded. "I'll go let Ben's parents known about what happened. Kev, do you mind staying with him."

"Whatever…" he mumbled, not really listening. He was too busying trying to hide the fact that he was concerned. Not that he'd ever tell him to his face, but Ben was his best friend. He was someone that he trusted with his life and to be unable to save him himself… he actually felt weak, and it wasn't a pleasant feeling.

Gwen nodded and left, swallowing to get rid of the sick feeling. She could handle needles when she needed to, but if she could avoid them, it was best.

She was kind of worried about Kevin. She'd never seen him look that… helpless.

After a few hours, Kevin was close to nodding off in his seat. The doctor had stepped out to get them both some tea.

It started as a small noise of discomfort, and slowly, Ben's noises of pain started to get louder and louder until he was screaming and thrashing around. Kevin's head snapped up and he jumped to his feet, running over and gently squeezing the smaller boy's arm.

"Ben! Ben, it's okay. Calm down. I'm right here." Nothing seemed to soothe the poor boy. His eyelids were open, but his eyes were still rolled back in his head as if he was asleep. His mouth hung open and drool, leaked out and down his neck. The thrashing stopped but his hands were still twitching like crazy. "Doctor! Doctor, something's happened!" Kevin called, hoping the man could hear him. He didn't want to leave Ben's side to go get him.

The door opened and the doctor came in, holding the tray of tea. He sat it down when he saw the scene and ran over. He nodded and glanced at his watch. Ben finally started to calm down until he was completely still again.

"Well," the doctor started, mostly to himself. "The good news is that he's not poisoned. The reaction happened way too soon for it to have been inhibited by any sort of poison."

"What's the bad news?"

"That I now have no idea what Vilgax has done him. It's possible that there was nothing done to him, but that seems unlikely. It could be that he was exposed to some disease… a parasite, perhaps… there's still the possibility of it being a bomb, just one that was placed somewhere you couldn't get to. When he awoke, did he say anything at all about a body part being in pain?"

"Only his ass." The doctor nodded and took off the earth boy's pants. When he reached for the underwear, Kevin's entire face turned red. "Woah! What are you doing? I don't think that Ben would appreciate that. He got mad at me when I lifted his shirt up and nearly blew a gasket when I took his pants off to check for a bomb."

"It's possible that a bomb was inserted up into his waste removal system. Hold his legs up for me."

Kevin groaned in annoyance but did as the doctor said, holding the legs up so that Gravstoun could get a good look. He looked away a first, until he saw the doctor putting on gloves. "You're not gonna stick your hand up there are you?"

"No, I'm just gonna take a look inside."

Kevin made an uncomfortable expression and glanced down at Ben's peacefully sleeping face, before averting his eyes from the fragile body altogether. "Anything?" he asked, wanting to get this other with.

After a few moments, the doctor made a thoughtful sound. "Well… that's unexpected. I thought that those were extinct…" he mumbled to himself.

"What? Doc what is it? Did you find something inside of him?"

"Yes, and I'm sorry to say that this could be worse than we thought. I'm afraid that Vilgax had inserted into your friend… a Verousiousa Parasite."