Max had always lived with them. It had always been that way. When Ben was just a baby, his father had suffered a life-ending stroke and Max had immediately taken his place. Like the father Ben never had, Max lived in the house, helped with his plumbing job and even took him and his cousin out on occasion. Ben told him everything, and it was like Max told him everything too. Even when he found the capsule hidden in his room, and even when it attached itself to Ben's wrist permanently, Max wasn't mad. Max helped him learn to use it and helped him to control his abilities.
It was always Max, not as often Ben's mom, who he spent his time with. Even this summer, he was set to go on a road trip with him and his cousin. It would be the trip of the year.
So he waited at the school gate, waited for his Grandpa to pick him up like he did every day.
Half an hour, nobody came.
An hour, nobody came.
90 minutes after school ended, two police officers walked through the school gates instead.
The summer, so far, had been uneventful. After the funeral, Ben hadn't left his room. How could he, when Max wouldn't be there to greet him? He hadn't seen his grandfather in so long - sometimes he even wondered where he was, which foolishly led to tears each time. He wished he could forget. He wished he could have seen him again. He lay on his bed with each passing day and wished. He wished that he was there.
And then he heard footsteps. He turned, and saw Max walk into his room; smile.
Ben stood up and smiled back. He ran towards him and went to wrap his arms around his grandpa.
His arms tore through sharp, empty air.
As if something as stupid as wishing could bring him back.
Sandra poked Ben, bringing him out of the Sumo-Slammers-Season-Finale induced trance and causing him to turn, realising that she was sitting next to him.
She smiled at him. "That show any good?"
"Yeah." Ben smiled back. "Kenko trapped Ishiyami underground!" He grabbed the remote and paused the show - showing a bulky samurai eating a centipede. "He's had to eat bugs as he digs his way out!"
"Very interesting, I bet your Grandpa would love that." Sandra beamed.
"Yeah! I recorded this scene for him, when he comes back from plumbing we'll rewatch it together."
Sandra's demeanour changed slightly. She looked worried, suddenly, and her smile faded.
"What is it?" Ben cocked his head to the side, "Don't you like Sumo Slammers?"
She slowly smiled - now forced - and shook her head. "It's nothing, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself." She stood up and returned to the kitchen, silent.
Ben didn't know what had happened until later.
School resumed. The daily chores of homework, exams, and avoiding bullies added to Ben's stress.
He had considered skipping out on class a few times, but his grandpa's voice always appeared in his head. His past scolding for sneaking in to steal a Sumo Slammers, and his warnings not to use the watch for personal gain.
An especially dreary Physics lesson made Ben realise that Grandpa wasn't there to tell him off. He slid under his desk and selected Ghostfreak, and a second later he was in the gym room. All of those footballs, basketballs, and goals were his. No kids to queue, and no boring lessons to sit through. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all.
"Hey loser, watch it!"
Ben fell to the ground as Cash shoved him aside. A penalty was declared as he picked himself up, but Cash pushed him again as he regained balance.
"Why don't you just stay down? It's not like anyone's watching your game." J.T. was absent this time - though recently that was even worse.
"Shut up, dweeb!" Ben spat back. Cash was right, though. Turning to the sidelines, nobody was there to see Ben's game. His mom had to take another job after the income was halved, so she was busy and although she promised that Jamie's mom would show her the recording, it wasn't the same.
"I'm right, aren't I? Your family doesn't care about you!" Cash laughed and Ben shoved him back. A warning whistle came from the coach.
"They do too! It's not my fault that..." Anger boiled hotter and hotter inside of him.
"That what? That you're broke? That your mommy doesn't care about you?" Cash sneered. The fury grew even more.
"She does care! She just had to take another job, okay?!" Ben shouted, and Cash seemed to relent.
"It's a shame." He whispered, "That you didn't drop dead instead of your old man. Maybe if you bit the dust too, you could show his ghost how bad you are at socc-"
Everything happened too fast. It was already over before Ben realised anything had been done. Cash lay on the floor, clutching his bleeding nose and screaming as the blood dripped onto his shirt and stained it. Ben's fist was outstretched - some of Cash's blood painting it as well.
Far off, the couch ran over, suspended him, but Ben didn't hear it. He couldn't reach the world that was helping Cash up, that was screaming at him to get off the pitch. All the could hear was Cash's words. All he could hear was mocking. But he couldn't hear his grandpa's words. He couldn't hear them ever again, no matter how much he tried.
On top of his suspension, Ben was grounded.
Not that it mattered to him.
He leaned against the fountain, playing the upcoming Sumo Slammers game on his handheld. The game wasn't released for another few weeks, and nor was his device, but stealing with Ghostfreak or Grey Matter was a common hobby for Ben. After all, who was there to stop him? It wasn't that wrong; it was only one copy of millions, and nobody would miss it. It made him happy and it didn't make anyone else unhappy.
He'd used his aliens to get revenge on Cash and J.T. too. In exchange for getting him suspended, Stinkfly stunk up their houses. Once he was back at school, maybe he could show them who he was; make sure they'd be too scared to bully anyone. That wasn't so wrong, people would be happy. He could make everyone happy with his watch.
A Tennyson Christmas was never a large affair. Without much money, they had a small tree and a few gifts and celebrated through Gwen, Ken, Sunny and Clyde coming around. A couple of party games and crackers accompanied them, but the best part of Christmas was always Max's stories.
He had wild tales every year; once he spoke of a whole other dimension, a prison for aliens. Another time he talked about how the world they lived in wasn't real and was being made for entertainment. It was always a good time with him, it made Christmas worth it.
This year, the guests arrived as usual, they had dinner as usual (Sunny telling a nonsense story of how she was on an alien planet with her grandmother), and they opened their presents as usual - Ben getting a too-big hoodie. Everything was the same (of course it would be) until it was the usual time for Grandpa Max to tell his yearly story.
Ben tried to continue fiddling with his Sumo Slammers' game, Clyde talked to Ken and Gwen grabbed a book; all pretending that the storytime didn't exist.
"Wait, where's Max?" Sunny looked around at the group. "He hasn't been here all day."
Everyone had frozen. Had Sunny missed the news? Ben couldn't remember if she was at the funeral. Nobody spoke; nobody wanted to say it. To say that...
"Max is dead." Ben looked her in the eyes. "That's it." The rest of the family looked at him in shock, and tears welled up in Sunny's eyes. She knew he wasn't lying. And so did Ben. He'd finally said it, out loud, and he knew that it wasn't a lie. Ben could finally accept that. Max wasn't coming to Christmas, Max wasn't coming back.
That night, he had the worst nightmares since the day.
Ever since Christmas, the nightmares got worse. Ben imagined the reported car crash - only that he was driving the car that hit the Rust Bucket, that he had been the one to kill Max. It happened over and over again; Ben trying to grab hold of the wheel - move the car, save him, hit someone, anyone else. They always hit in the same way. No matter what Ben did, Max always died.
After a while, he gave up trying to stop it. Better to accept the death then believe he could be saved, he supposed. He let the car smash into the Rust Bucket headfirst each time. But - then - Ben felt it was almost like he was choosing to kill. Choosing to let him die. He always saw Max's face as the cars collided; betrayal and fear. He knew it was Ben.
Ben just stopped sleeping.
The expulsion happened halfway through the month. Ben had fallen asleep over and over again in classes, and half of them he didn't even attend. His teachers just didn't understand; he was doing hero work, he didn't have time for school. His grandpa would understand.
It was the same daily schedule more-or-less, go out and patrol the streets, then mess around for a while. His mom got on his case for being expelled, but what did she know? She barely knew how to take care of him. She fed him and grounded him but rarely did she spend any time with him. Ever since the incident, all she mostly did was stare into space, she never even mentioned Max, if he was brought up she'd just stare.
It was pathetic, to Ben. But he could take care of things himself.
Ben realised that he wasn't going home after a few weeks. He'd patrol the streets, fight crime, and sometimes fall asleep while looking around but he'd never break that schedule. It was better this way, anyway, wasn't it? Max would want him to fight crime, Max wanted him to use the watch. Right?
Regardless, he'd met people just like him. There was a kid living on the streets who had powers called Kevin, and they'd hit it off from the first encounter. His absorption and Ben's aliens were an unstoppable combination. They fought off crime together and Ben even got a warmer place to sleep under Kevin's bridge. Now he could be a hero 24/7, just like Max would've wanted.
The nightmares finally stopped in April. He no longer dreamed of Max; of the incident. His dreams instead filled with Kevin, that kid who was now his partner in action. Ben dreamt of their antics, of stopping criminals with him, of playing Sumo Slammers with him. He dreamt sometimes of doing something bigger - something that would be remembered, although he couldn't remember the specifics of it each time.
That big event came sooner than expected. One day, in the middle of stopping a robbery, Kevin took Ben aside and grinned. "Hey, these robberies give us a little cash, but how'd you like to get tons of it?" Ben nodded, and Kevin led him away from the robbers (someone else would catch them, anyway), soon arriving at underground train tracks.
"A money train loaded with cash comes down this track, so when it crashes into the oncoming passenger train, boom! Instant jackpot." He grinned larger than Ben had ever seen him before. "You turn into that XLR8 guy and we're out of here!" It was genius. Ben turned into Four Arms and switched the tracks, and they watched. Waited.
The train appeared on the horizon. Ben smiled.
Closer. Ben readied the watch, on XLR8's symbol.
The other train appeared, on the same tracks. And time seemed to slow down. Was this the right thing to do? To injure all those people, for money? It was as if Max was beside Ben, as the trains slowly moved towards each other, telling him that it wasn't okay. But Max didn't understand. He'd use this money to save more people, wouldn't he? The gain was greater than the loss. He was helping people - and most importantly he was having fun. He was the one with the power; the one with the watch; the one who nobody could touch, as long as he had it. He didn't need anyone else's advice. He was the hero.
He didn't need Max.
The trains smashed together, and in the flames, the screams, the iron screeching, XLR8 grabbed the money, grabbed Kevin and ran. Smiling under the visor.
Ghostfreak entered the bank silently. Rising through the floor, he carefully moved into the main room. Dropping Kevin next to him, the 12-year-old put his hand to the pin and the door silently swung open. The two snuck into the room - filled with money. Tons and tonnes of bags of money. More than the robbers they infiltrated even brought out. Even more than the train had yielded. And it'd all be theirs.
The all-too-familiar whine of the watch was followed by the vermillion glow that meant Ben was at his limit. As Ben dropped to the ground, the whine resumed louder, and the vermillion glow surrounded the room. The alarms had gone off. Kevin twisted around and spat something at Ben, but the blaring alarms were too loud for Ben to hear anything. Ben spun and ran into a security guard, while Kevin kept his hand on the vault, pushing on it. What was he thinking? He couldn't move it on his own.
The guard grabbed Ben by the collar and begun to drag him away when something ran forward and slammed a golden fist into his head, dropping him. Kevin stood, clad in what seemed like the metal from the vault. He said something else, but Ben still couldn't hear him. The alarm was too loud. He slammed on the watch - thankfully recharged - and XLR8 carried the cash away. When he stopped, placing Kevin back in their hideout, he noticed the golden coat was gone.
"How did you do that, dude?" Ben asked, and Kevin shrugged.
"It's just something I can do now. It'll let us hit up a ton more places." Kevin pointed to the map they had drawn out earlier. Where the banks were. Ben had to make money somehow, right? He was still a hero, and he knew it.
Ben realised that his life was very different than it was a year ago. He never went home, he did what he wanted in the streets with Kevin, and he rarely stopped crime anymore. But was that really so wrong, now that he understood why crime was happening? Criminals were desperate, sometimes. Crime was all they had. Or, crime was easier than the alternative - and who could blame them for taking the easy route? For some of them, it was just fun. And you couldn't fault fun.
The real worst people were without a doubt those who struck those down just trying to defend themselves. The police and the like, all of them thinking they get it when they don't. Ben had grown to hate them. He couldn't believe that he used to believe in that, used to blindly attack people who were, in reality, doing nothing wrong. Calling those who just wanted to help themselves evil. Ben had learnt by now that evil was relative. And he knew that he was on the right side now.
Kevin beckoned him over, and the two prepared to leave to hit another bank. Max would be proud. He knew it. Ben pulled his watch up, and the mint glow washed over him once again.
Hi! I'm Hannah~ and welcome to my first ever Fanon Con!
I currently am planning two main series, Transformative (which I am co-writing with Jose) and Serena & Sasha's Solar System. I'll talk about each of them seperately~
Transformative is a series split into three sections itself; Then, Now and Somewhere in America, all covering different periods of time and different characters.
Miles Legacy is one of the supporting characters of the Then portion. Bombastic and unapologetically hardcore, Miles is always the coolest person in the room. Or so he thinks, it comes across more as overcompensating for something (and maybe it is). He's spliced with Merlinisapien DNA, turning his skin purple, porous and affecting his eyesight.
Luna Euweu is another supporting character of the Then portion, and is already accustomed to alien business due to her mother working as a Plumber. She has a positive outlook on life due to never being really challenged, but has problems forming meaningful connections with people. She's spliced with Loboan DNA which makes her resemble a wolfgirl and allows her to unhinge her jaw to release sonic screams.
Asimov Mazemaz is the final supporting character of the Then portion, and is stuck permanently in a hazmat suit due to his intense levels of radiation. Spliced with Atomix's Species' DNA, his experiences before being found are traumatic and have caused him to revert to semi-muteness. His suit can be removed through taydenite but doing so would be incredibly dangerous.
Robyn Rowell is Ross's cousin and his only friend. Living away from him, xe communicates through Skype and seems to be a guru of good advice, causing Ross to look up to hir. Xe has encountered aliens before and is an expert to the degree of a Plumber for unknown reasons.
Ben Tennyson is a seasoned Plumber and the main character of the Now portion. 20 years old, he wields a newly-designed Omnitrix known as the Biomnitrix which allows him to tap into fusions as well as regular aliens. He works as captain of the Earth branch, and is as cocky as ever, treating himself as unstoppable.
Bill Markam is nearly as bombastic as Miles, although he acts more like an anime protagonist. Constantly quoting TV shows and doing odd poses, Bill knows he isn't actually cool but still loves acting that way. He wields a device which allows him to transform into an Ectonurite, which he labels Invisibill much to literally everyone's chagrin.
Rose and Sam are a recently married couple who, while en route to Bellwood, encounter a bloody man in the middle of the road. What happened to him? And who did this?
So that's Transformative! Beginning January 2020.
Now, the other show is...
Serena & Sasha's Solar System
Serena & Sasha's Solar System is a more lighthearted series, currently planned to span two seasons of thirteen episodes. It focused on different alien planets and their life, with the biology and culture of each race looked at in some depth.
Sasha Thali is the girlfriend of Serena Sefa, and one of the main protagonists of SSSS. After being abducted, she retains her curious tendencies and attempts to befriend the crew. Without anything to protect herself, Sasha often goes to alien planets with only a positive attitude.
There are too many crew members to give a spotlight to here, but I do have some episode titles for y'all! Additionally, for BTFF's 10th anniversary, three episodes will be dedicated to Free-Use aliens and will feature characters based on members, old and new. These episodes will be titled:
- Anniversaries & Salamanders (Alpha Promixa; Similamander)
- Anniversaries & Betrayal (Terranoia; Capgrass)
- Anniversaries & Getting Dirty (Aratos; Hydd and Sykk)
Other confirmed episode titles include:
- Netflix & Chill
- Law & Order
- Magic & Mischief
Finally, a Christmas special of SSSS will be coming out sometime before the 31st, probably.
Well, that's all for now! Here are some polls to end it because everyone else is doing it and Hannah wants to be like the cool kids.