FanFic - Other
"Local Boys"
Part 1
by Ossian
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are property of the WB. No infringement intended.
Summary: post-ID, Alex lends a friend a hand
Category: Other
Rating: G
Michael suppressed a weary sigh and sank lower in his seat. If he thought he'd been a pariah before, it was nothing compared to the way people avoided him now. Being arrested for murder just did wonders for his already spotty reputation, he mused wryly. At least he'd never had that many friends to alienate in the first place. It didn't seem to matter much that he hadn't actually been arrested... this time. He'd merely been "detained". It didn't matter that Hank wasn't even dead. He'd just moved out of town. But the stories persisted.

No one had spoken to Michael all day. Even the teachers who usually seemed to derive a perverse pleasure from calling on him just to shoot down his wrong answers had treated him as if he was invisible. The hallway miraculously cleared ahead of him as he walked between classes and the desks around his were always the last to fill. He was tempted to cut school altogether, but he was fairly certain that Valenti would be all over him if he tried. He was thankful to have Max in nearly all of his classes. Max's quiet support was the only thing that convinced him that he was really still here.

Art class on his own hadn't been that bad. Everyone in there had always ignored him anyway, and his own reluctant interest in the course kept his mind otherwise occupied. But now he had biology, the only other Max-less class on his schedule.

It wasn't until the second bell rang that he realized that he was still sitting alone. He glanced up to see that his lab partner was deep in conversation with Mrs. Lindsay at the front of the room. Matt had never been thrilled at being assigned to work with him. He could only guess how adamantly the other boy was campaigning for a new partner today. He tried to block out the whispers and glared at the few people who turned to sneak a look at him. Only one was brave enough to meet his eyes. Alex Whitman.

Michael had come to class so infrequently in the past few weeks that he'd almost forgotten that Alex was even in this one with him. He was puzzled when Alex got up and headed to the front of the room. The dark-haired geek leaned on Mrs. Lindsay's desk as he spoke to her. She frowned, gave him an impatient nod, and shooed both Alex and Matt back to their seats. Except that Alex didn't sit down. He collected his books and walked toward the back row.

"Here's the way I figure it," Alex said as he dropped into the empty chair at Michael's lab table. "I do the slice and dice on this starfish and you do the drawings.""What?" "I can't draw," Alex shrugged. "You can, right? So, you draw and I dissect. We'll be done in no time."

Michael simply stared. Of the three humans who knew their secret, Alex was definitely the most confusing. He could almost rationalize why Liz and Maria were involved with them. Much as he hated to admit it, Liz and Maria did have personal reasons for being concerned about the aliens. But Alex? He just couldn't figure out how Alex fit into the mix. Even if the boy did have a crush on Isabel like Michael suspected that he did, that wouldn't really explain why Alex was going out of his way to help *him*.

Granted, volunteering to be his lab partner wasn't exactly a monumental sacrifice, but this wasn't the first time Alex had gone to bat for him. Alex had been the first person he'd seen on the dream plane when he had been dying. Max had later confirmed that Alex had been the first one to step into the circle to heal him. It was a startling gesture from someone that Michael hadn't really even considered a friend. Not a friend of his, anyway. He realized with a flash of embarrassment that he had never thanked Alex for that either.

Unlike Maria, Alex seemed all right with just letting it go. He watched Alex dig out his workbook and felt a twinge of guilt. Over the past few months he had done nothing to warrant Alex's trust, his friendship, or even his good will. He'd deliberately been rude and abrupt to him on several occasions, been suspicious and annoyed with him now and then, and hadn't thought about him at all the rest of the time. And still Alex had seen him being ostracized in stupid biology class and seemingly with no thought to his own reputation come to Michael's aid once again.

Michael stretched out his hand on top of Alex's notebook as the other boy searched for a pencil. Alex turned to look at him curiously. "Thank you." "No problem," Alex replied. "Thomas can't draw either. I think I'm getting a better deal here."

"No." Michael shook his head. He wasn't sure that Alex understood what he was talking about. "Thank you... for before, for everything."

"Oh." Alex stared back at him for a moment then nodded. "Like I said, no problem. Any friend of Liz and Maria is a friend of mine." A hesitant look passed over his face as if he suddenly realized that Michael might not want to be thought of as a friend. There was a slight hint of fear that the alien might reject the whole idea.

Michael tried to look reassuring. "Anybody who saves my life," he said slowly, "is definitely a friend of mine."

Alex smiled and stuck out his hand. Michael was immediately reminded of the same offer he had made on the dream plane. Both gestures were made with the same simple sincerity. Michael shook his hand firmly.

"Now that that's over," Alex said with a grin. "Can we get to work here?"

They didn't talk much the rest of the class. True to his word, Alex sliced and diced the hapless starfish rather efficiently. Michael dutifully sketched the requisite drawings into both workbooks. For the most part they worked in companionable silence. Michael was amazed that a lab could go so smoothly. He hadn't realized what lousy partners he and Matt had been all semester until he saw how easily he and Alex could work together.

He was a little relieved that Alex didn't seem to want to ask him any questions about... anything. He wasn't sure what Maria might have told him, but Alex didn't seem to be treating him any differently than usual. If only the rest of the student body was so decent, he thought wistfully. He knew that Alex's view of him was colored by the fact that he was aware of Michael's "uniqueness". In that respect it was understandable that Alex would see the situation with Hank and Valenti and everything else in a different light than the rest of his classmates would. Michael was surprised to realize that Alex's opinions mattered to him.

"Not bad," Alex said as he surveyed the sketches. "It actually looks like a starfish. This is what I usually end up with." He flipped back a few pages in the workbook to show Michael last week's flatworm drawings. Michael gracefully refrained from laughing aloud. He made a few adjustments in Alex's sketches until the bell rang.

"Finally!" Alex breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief as he began to gather his books. He paused to watch Michael's considerably slower progress. "Um, I was going to head to the Crashdown to harass a couple of waitresses for a while," he said. "Want to come?"

Michael studied him thoughtfully. He was still a little astonished that despite all the rumors floating around school about him today Alex was still willing to be seen with him. Then again, Alex had always done his own thing. He gave a mental shrug. "Sure," he said. A slow grin spread across his face. "Isabel and Max will probably be there, too." He all but laughed at Alex's sudden blush. Definitely has a crush on Izzy, he thought in amusement.

"So, I've been working on a new list," Alex said as they walked out of the classroom. "Campaign slogans for fictional television characters. What do you think of 'Summers for Mayor: She knocks the competition dead'?"

"I think you need to get out more."

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