by Nace M.
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own them. Melinda, Jason, and the WB do.
Authors Note: Much Love to the folks on the Radish mailing list and message boards. To Kara who helped fix a snag, and to Jing...my muse in princess's clothing.
|"Isabel Anna Evans and Alex Whitman out on a date?" Isabel said, pacing back
and forth across the living room floor. "That's like so miraculous you know?
This is the biggest moment in Isabel Anna Evans life. It's just…it's amazing
you know? It's too amazing…" She glanced down at her brothers, Max and
Michael, each of them trying to hold back their laughter.
"Oh, god! It's a joke isn't it? It's a practical joke. You two are in on it. You bastards."
Both of them broke into the laughing fit they were fighting, as the doorbell rang. Isabel rushed over to it nearly tripping on a bump in the carpet. Michael and Max had seen it and laughed even harder. She ignored them and opened the door, greeted by Alex looking perfect as always. He was carrying a flower, a flower meant for her.
"Did I miss something?" he asked looking over at Max and Michael still laughing on the couch.
"Nope, nothing," she replied grabbing her bag full of her astronomy books and a portable telescope. Stepping outside, she slammed the door behind her.
"You look nice," he said giving her the once over.
She had made the slightest effort to attempt to dress decently for this. It wasn't really her style to be all flashy, but since it was kind of a date environment, an improved look wouldn't be so bad. She wore a subtle pink button up shirt, black jeans, and Vans old school shoes. Her hair was also in a braid, instead of her usual ponytail. Alex on the other hand looked like he just stepped off a page of GQ magazine. Firmly pressed black slacks, semi-tight white T-shirt, hair perfectly gelled, and boots nice and polished.
"This is for you," he said handing her the daisy, giving her that smile.
"Thanks," she said softly, feeling the flush in her cheeks.
He walked a few steps in front her, opening the car door in a very gentlemanly manner, and gesturing for her to get in.
"Where are we headed?" he asked starting up the car and throwing it in gear.
"Coyote Hill," she replied. "It's such a clear night and the view from up the should be spectacular."
"Cool," he said slightly drumming on the steering wheel.
The ride up to the hill was one in silence, but Isabel found it oddly comforting. They didn't have to say anything it felt like, merely enjoying each other's company. Alex guided the car up the windy mountain road, and stopped at a clearing Isabel thought would be perfect. They got out, and Alex looked around at the heavy blanket of the night, while Isabel set up her telescope.
"I don't use this much," she said regarding the telescope. "But as s first timer I figured you might want to see a few things more closely."
Alex felt the smile grow again, and was pleasantly surprised by her consideration. 'She's not like them,' he reminded himself. 'That's what makes her so great.'
Isabel brought out a few of her books, and pointed at constellations, explained the myths behind them. The big dipper, the little bear, Orion's belt, and all the signs of the zodiac. Alex seemed genuinely fascinated, letting out a 'wow' every now and then.
"You really like this stuff don't you?" he asked her seriously.
"Of course," she replied. "It always makes me feel a little closer to home." She froze at her own words the second they escaped her lips, how could she say something so foolish? Right here, right in front of Alex. But he didn't seem to her hear her, he was still staring up at the sky, his mouth slightly open as he arched his head back. She smiled to herself, feeling a little bolt of pride that he was liking this so much. She started to wonder why, why had he wanted to come. Why wasn't he out with those other folks that were ten times cooler that she was?
"Alex?" she felt herself ask.
"Yeah?" he responded turning his attention to her.
"Um, why…why did you come out here with me tonight?"
"What?" he said a little baffled that she asked that.
"I mean, you have more friends than I have fingers or toes, why would you want to hang out with me?"
"I wouldn't can those people my friends," he said, the slightest bitterness in his voice. "You know what they would think of this? Me right here, right now. Enjoying myself looking at the stars, with you. You know what they would do? They'd be laughing their asses off right now. I just, I don't want to be around people like that anymore."
"And you chose me? Why?"
"Have you ever woken up and looked the mirror…and completely not recognize the person staring back at you? That the person you did see was so completely fake it make you sick to your stomach?"
"I…no, never. Does that happen a lot?" she asked concerned.
"Every day," Alex said. "Every single day."
Isabel was stuck, did she just sit here and watch him wallow in his misery? Or Should she…could she maybe…comfort him?
He looked over to her, seeing the concern in her eyes. He smiled to himself, she was just so…
"Everyday except today," he said. "After our little project yesterday, I went home feeling fine, at peace. I can't remember the last time I felt like that, well I can, but it was so long ago. Anyway I went to sleep and when I woke up this morning, I looked in the mirror…and I saw me. Me, staring back. Not anything I act like, not anything I project myself as, but me. Me staring back. You don't know how good that made me feel, and I have you to thank you for it."
He looked back up at the sky, a little wistful look appeared on his face.
"I mean the last time I ever had a meaningful conversation was with Liz…" he cut himself off, the wistful look disappearing. He wrapped him arms around his waist and let out a shaky sigh.
"What happened with Liz, Alex?" Isabel asked. "I saw that little exchange yesterday, and I could tell that there was something…did you two used to go out or something?"
Alex looked up, a bit startled she had asked about Liz, his eyes wide and brimming with a few unshed tears.
"I'm sorry," Isabel rushed to say. "I shouldn't have…"
"She was one of my best friends," he said solemnly. "Her and Maria. We grew up together, did everything together. They were like my sisters…"
"Puberty," he chuckled sadly. "Nothing changed much, except me. I filled out, no longer the skinny little nerd I once was. Voice got lower, you know, all that stuff. Girls started to noticed me, so to the guys that meant you were cool. They wanted me to hang out with them, and it was great you know? The cool people wanted me around, so I did it. I hung with them. The distance between Maria and Liz and I grew bigger. I wasn't around them much anymore. But this one day, Craig and Jimmy and some other jerks see them walking down the hall and decide to rag on them. I told him to stop, that those were good friends and he shouldn't say the things he was saying. But he…he got all pissed off, started saying some crazy crap like 'it was either stay here with the big boys or go running back to my little playmates.' And I chose the boys."
He kicked the car, disgusted with himself.
"I was happy for awhile, being one of the 'in' crowd seemed to fill the void left by my ditching Liz and Maria. After a few months though, they still acted the same. Like a bunch of brainless apes. It was all crap. None of them were real. They never give a straight answer, only say what they think people would want to hear. It's pointless, all of it's pointless."
"Then why did you stay with them?"
Alex looked at her, the sadness he held in that look was enough to make her forget her insecurities and walk over to him, offering a comforting touch.
"Because by the time I realized it wasn't worth it anymore, I had already hurt them so badly... So I stayed. It was better to feel all alone surround by people, than to be all alone and by yourself."
His head sank toward the ground, that sudden self-conscious feeling of opening himself up after all this time was eating away at his insides. Isabel, not caring what consequences might become of it, wrapped her arms around Alex. To her surprise he sank into her arms and squeezed her back. Her heart was beating so fast she thought it might explode. She had spent so many nights dreaming of this, having him in her embrace. But nothing, NOTHING could be better than the real thing. She looked up at the at the sky, seeing the V-shaped constellation floating overhead. It was like a dream, a wonderful, amazing, fabulous dream.
"Such a lovely night," she commented still holding him.
Alex couldn't explain it, he just felt so much better. He didn't know if anything could feel as good as being held by her right now. She was so nice, so understanding, so…
"It's beautiful," he said lifting his head. But he wasn't looking at the sky, he was looking at her. Only at her.
|Part 3 | Index | Part 5
|Max/Liz | Michael/Maria | Alex/Isabel | UC Couples | Valenti | Other | Poetry | Crossovers | AfterHours