Ben awoke to a loud crash in his room. Out of reflex he had a hand on the Ultimatrix and was ready to transform. Before he could though he heard a familiar pained groan. He got out of bed and looked to see Albedo laying on the ground with something that looked to be stuck to his face. His hands were gripping to his face trying to pry the thing off.
“Get it off!” Albedo screamed while flaring his hands in the air.
Ben kneeled down on the floor, minding the spilled smoothie, and put a hand on Albedo's shoulder and tried to shake it.
"Come on Albedo, wake up."
Albedo turned his body towards Ben's and grabbed his arms.
"Please help me!"
Ben could only look down at Albedo with concern in his eyes. He felt bad about ruining Albedo's chances of going back to normal, and promised himself that if they saw each other again he'd help him. He felt bad that he was partially the reason that Albedo was like this now.
"I don't want to die, please help me!"
"I promise I will help you Albedo, whatever you're seeing is not real. I'm here to help now."
Ben didn't want to have to call Gwen or Kevin, but he had no idea how to get this thing off Albedo's face. Ben ungripped Albedo's arm off one of his so he could call his cousin. Albedo yelled in pain more.
"Ben? It's the middle of the night, what's going on?" Gwen’s sleepy voice asked.
"Albedo's on my bedroom floor."
"He has this thing stuck to his face and it sounds like he's in pain. I need your help, Kevin's too probably if it can be ripped off."
"My parents don't like me going out at night on a school night."
"Please Gwen, he needs our help. You could probably figure something out more than Kevin and I. I know you can hear how much he's in pain right now."
"Okay, I'll call Kevin and have him pick me up. But you're answering to my mom when she asks why I was out this late without warning."
Once the line was dead Ben put his phone back in his pocket and stared at Albedo. He still sounded like he was in so much pain.
Now it was just a waiting game for Gwen and Kevin to show up.
"I'm sorry you got like this. I know you probably can't hear me right now, but I'm sorry that I didn't step in when I should've with Azmuth. I may not be able to get you back to being a Galvan, but I promise I'll help you better."
Ben put his hand on Albedo's chest, and Albedo's hand grabbed onto Ben's. Ben squeezed Albedo's hand. A moment passed and he could feel his hand being squeezed back.
"Albedo can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can."
Nothing. Maybe Albedo could feel Ben's touch and that's why he squeezed back, but any outside noise wasn't getting in. Ben tested this theory by squeezing Albedo's hand and getting a squeeze in response.
Ben had another idea that he didn't know would work or not. He put a hand on Albedo's shoulder and bent his face towards where Albedo's forehead would be. He leaned down and kissed the top of where Albedo’s forehead would be if it weren’t for whatever is trapped on him.
For a moment Albedo stopped screaming in pain. Maybe Albedo could feel it after all even though there was something trapped on his face?
Ben pulled back and squeezed Albedo's hand again. Before Ben could say anything else he heard tapping on his bedroom window. Ben got up and made his way towards the window without tripping over his dirty clothes. He opened the window to see Gwen and Kevin outside standing on one of Gwen's mana platforms. Gwen was in her school uniform, like usual, but Kevin was just in a gray tank top and sweat pants. Ben saw that Gwen had her laptop in one of her hands.
"You could've came in through the door."
"This was more fun."
Gwen and Kevin made their way inside Ben's messy room. Ben went back on his knees and grabbed Albedo's hand.
"Can you figure out what's attached to him?" Ben said while looking up at Gwen with pleading eyes.
Gwen sat on the bed and opened up her laptop. She went through Plumber files to see what this was on Albedo's head. Kevin made his way past Ben's messy floor and sat next to Gwen on the bed watching her type.
"It says on here that what Albedo has attached to him is called a Cassiopeian Dream Eater. It feeds off chemicals produced by the brain during stress and traps the host in a nightmare,” Gwen explained reading the article she found from the Plumber’s files.
"It was definitely meant for you,” Kevin said while crossing his arms.
"But Albedo underestimated how messy your room would be and got caught up in it himself,” Gwen said.
"Can we pull it off?" Ben asked without looking at them.
"Not without ripping his face off,” Kevin said matter of factly.
"A Galvan doctor maybe? Dunno how Albedo will feel about that, but we may not have a choice,” Ben suggested.
"I was way ahead of you and called before we got here and a Plumber's transport is on the way,” Gwen said.
"Yeah we'll get that parasite off your boyfriend,” Kevin joked.
"He's not my-" Ben started to say while turning around and facing Kevin.
Kevin leaned back on the bed and went into a laugh.
"Yeah sure, not with the way you're holding his hand and blushing because I made a joke."
"Kevin, knock it off,” Gwen scolded.
"You practically begged us to come over and help him."
Ben glared at Kevin but didn't make a move to let go of Albedo's hand.
"Hey do whatever you want man, we won't judge,” Kevin said raising his hands to emphasize his point.
"Although you probably should talk to Julie if how you're reacting is any indication,” Gwen said, folding her hands and pointing her fingers at Ben.
Ben sighed and turned to face his cousin and his best friend. He still kept a grip on Albedo’s hand. He really didn't want to have this conversation with them right now but he knew he had to in order to set things straight.
"She's okay with it actually. We agreed that despite how much we care for each other, we have different priorities in our relationships with other people. We still love each other and are still dating, but we can see other people,” Ben started to explain, “Don't tell her I told you this because she wanted to keep it a secret, but she met a lovely gentleman at one of her tennis matches. He's a photographer and he was smitten by Julie the moment he saw her. He asked her out, and he gives her the time she deserves. He knows about me being with her too, and is fine with it as well. He may have a crush on me since he seemed flirty when I met him, but he could've just been a huge fan."
Gwen and Kevin were shocked at Ben's statement. They knew he and Julie weren't always on the same page, but they didn't think he could be so mature about their relationship considering everything he's done.
"Don't keep your mouths open for too long, you'll get flies in them."
"That's actually quite mature of you, but why not just break up entirely if you guys want different things?" Gwen asked, still shocked at her cousin’s statement.
"We still click together. I can't explain it, but we do give each other something we need. We just have other needs that we can't get and decided to see if polyamory would work,” Ben explained further, “I haven't tried seeing anyone seriously besides stuff for the public to keep the image that I'm an 'over confident teenage celeb that loves having the attention of every woman in Bellwood.'"
Before they could continue talking, they heard a plane drop down on the street. Ben reluctantly let go of Albedo's hand and made his way towards the window. He opened his window and Gwen used her mana to have them walk outside, she had Albedo on a platform.
They made it down to the ground and a Plumber came out with a female Galvan on his shoulder.
"I was called here for a transport?"
Gwen levitated Albedo in front of them.
"Oh dear, this doesn't look good,” She said with concern in her voice, “This poor boy, unfortunately I didn't know what we were dealing with here so I don't have the proper medical equipment. I'd have to take him back to Galvan Prime with me in order for me to get the Dream Eater off."
A few more Plumbers came out of the ship and moved Albedo to a gurney. The entire time Albedo's hands were trying to reach for something.
"Hey, would it be okay if I came too?" Ben asked, watching the other Plumbers take Albedo onto the ship.
"Ben, what are you doing?" Gwen asked.
"Cover for me, tell my parents the truth, I don't care, but I'm not leaving him alone on Galvan Prime. Who knows how Azmuth will scold him this time. Despite everything, he doesn't deserve that. Not anymore,” Ben stated.
"You can come if you wish,” The Galvan doctor said, “Azmuth may not like you on the planet-"
"I mean no disrespect towards you when I say this, but quite frankly I don't give a shit what he likes. Albedo wouldn't be suffering if Azmuth let him go back to being a Galvan."
"Wait, did you say Albedo?"
"I knew him when I was a young Galvan. We weren't friends persay but he reminded me of the First Thinker. We're made to be smart, but Albedo was almost at Azmuth's level. All he could talk about was being his apprentice someday, and he was so happy when he was able to be,” She explained, “Well when he wasn't gloating about it to those that challenged him for the position. What a sweet young boy, and he's stuck as a human."
The Galvan doctor jumped from the shoulder of the Plumber that was carrying her and Ben opened his hands to catch her.
"While we ride could you tell me how this happened and why Azmuth left him as such?” She asked looking up at Ben, “On Galvan Prime all we knew was that Albedo quit and went off world. I couldn't imagine that this is what became of him."
"I don't think that's my story to tell, he may tell you when he wakes up. That is if he's not pissed that he's back on Galvan Prime without his original body."
Ben made his way to the ship with the Galvan doctor in his hands.
"Do you two require anything else?" The Plumber who was carrying the Galvan doctor asked.
"No, that was all. Thank you for coming to get him,” Gwen said.
"No problem Miss Tennyson. Have a good night, you too Mr. Levin."
The Plumber made his way back to the ship and it flew away.