FanFic - Other
"Strange Attractors "
Part 2
by Elizabeth
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: Maria deals with the 'pod squad' fallout.
Category: Other
Rating: PG-13
Authors Note:
His silences. That's why. If Liz saw me looking out into the dark, she would have said what Kyle did. And then she would have followed up with questions and more questions and discussion and endless rehashings of what happened. It would have been the same with Alex, except there probably wouldn't have been any ice cream eating during said discussion. But I am tired of reminiscing and wondering. I am tired of standing still and wishing. I want to start accepting. I want to start living.

"I'll get the Snowballs. You wash the glasses."

He rolls his eyes at me but heads into the kitchen and walks over to the sink.

When we first started doing this, I was supposed to wash the glasses. Then Kyle saw me wash them once and he saw that my idea of washing dishes is running water over them for a while and then drying them. I *hate* washing dishes. That is what dishwashers are for. But Kyle and his father don't own a dishwasher. Or rather, they do, but it's been broken since his mom left. It's currently number three on the Sheriff's "things that need to be fixed" list. Kyle says he's sure it will be working by the time he's fifty or so.

Anyway, I washed the glasses till Kyle saw me doing it and he told me I didn't know how to wash anything and I told him that at least I didn't dress like I'd fallen off a feed truck and his face got red and I told him I was sorry because I know what it is like to be a fashion victim. I let my mother pick out my clothes till I was ten or so and I refuse to even look at pictures of myself from before that time. And Kyle probably wouldn't be any better at picking out clothes than his father is and if Kyle started buying his own clothes it would be one less time that he got to be with his father and I know he wants more time with his dad, not less. So I apologized and he washed the glasses after that.

The box is in the back of the pantry--we put it there last night because we were afraid the Sheriff would find it and eat all the Snowballs that were left before Kyle got a chance to go to the grocery store. We went and got the groceries together last Thursday--we drove to the new Wal-Mart outside town (It even sells groceries. Wal-Mart sells everything these days. Everything.)--and bought a cart load full of crap. I envy Kyle his parent in this one area. My mother won't let junkfood near the house.

I grab the box and sit down and Kyle comes over with two glasses. "Look how clean they are."

"Yeah, they're spotless. Looking at them, I see a reflection of the big loser who washed them. Wow. Way to go. Where's the milk?"

He snorts. "You know what the sad thing is? I bet you spent all of first and second period thinking that one up today. You probably had to write it on your hand so you wouldn't forget it. Tell you what--I'll pretend I'm stunned by your wit and you can keep pretending that you're witty."

I open the box and rip open one of the packages that is still left inside. "Are you still talking? I thought I felt a blast of boring air, but I wasn't sure if it was just from being here or from you in particular."

He smiles at me and I smile back. This--what we do, the bantering back and forth--it is the past, roaring back into the now. When we were younger, we bantered by shoving each other and calling each other nicknames. Now we are more mature, so to speak, and only he calls me names. He goes and gets the milk and sits down next to me at the kitchen table. We both pour a glass and then get down to the business of eating.

Another thing Kyle and I have in common is our love for Snowballs. Snowballs are snack cakes. Specifically, they are the greatest snack cakes ever made. They're chocolate cake, covered with marshmallow. Then they're rolled in coconut and the coconut is then dyed pink. They taste like sugar and chemicals with three syllable names and I love them. So does Kyle. I didn't know that till a while ago, but it's something else we have in common. And this--the sitting, the teasing--it's what we've done every night since that first night when he called me by my old nickname and I remembered looking at him that first day of kindergarten and feeling an almost sense of regret.


When the Snowballs are gone, we go to the living room. We usually watch tv and argue over what to watch. And then we talk while we do that. Tonight is no different.

"What do you want to watch?" He always tries to be polite.

"No sports."

"So, nothing good is what you are saying?"

"Yeah, skeet shooting "Live, from France!" is the best that life can be."

"You just say that because you don't know anything about skeet shooting."

"And you do?"

"I've been shot. I think that counts."

We both sit in silence for a moment. Then I speak.

"Has Max ever talked to you about what happened?"

"No. Why would he? He hasn't really spoken to me since the night I took pity on him because he was all mopey over Liz."

"You mean the night you got him drunk?"

"I did him a favor."

"You didn't." Max told Liz so much that night, offered her so many things. And she believed him. Even when he told her he didn't remember what happened, she still believed the things he said. No, Kyle didn't do Max (or Liz) any favors that night.

He changes the channel and a cooking show appears on screen. "You're right. I probably didn't. It still doesn't change the fact that even though I know they are all aliens, not one of them has spoken to me since know."

"Not one?"

"No. Michael and I haven't spoken since that night on 285. Max and I haven't spoken since he came into my house, knocked out an FBI agent, and then told me not to worry. Like I was going to say 'Ok Maxie. I'll just sit here in my corner and do nothing.' No wonder I got shot. And Isa...(he gives me a look and then continues)... Max's sister and I have never spoken. Well, ok, once. In eighth grade she told me to move out of her way when she was walking down the hall."

I look at the sofa for a moment. Last night, we talked about teachers we hated. The night before, we talked about cartoons. In all the nights we've had since we've resurrected our friendship, this is the first time we've ever really mentioned *them.* I knew it was coming, I think I might have even wanted it to come. But it's still strange, it still feels surreal, as if I should be watching myself having this conversation or thinking about it--not having it.

"I..." I have to stop and clear my throat. "I haven't spoken to any of them either."

He is tapping the remote against his leg. "Even Michael?"

I laugh. "Especially Michael."

"Do you miss them?"

I didn't think I wanted this. I didn't think I wanted discussion and consideration of the changes that aliens made in my life. But from Kyle--who has a perspective that's different than mine or Liz's or Alex's--from Kyle, it's not that bad. I think I needed this. "Sometimes."

"What...what do you miss?" For a moment, my mind flashes to my mother. Is she asleep yet? Is she still waiting for the phone to ring? Or is she thinking about something else, something I know nothing about?

I miss...I miss it all. I miss his apartment, I miss the way it smelled like Tabasco and moldering sofa. I miss the way his hair felt under my fingers. I miss the smell of his neck. I miss the way he had finally started to turn to me, I miss the way his arms were so warm and so real around me. "I miss feeling connected to someone."

Then I laugh because I am lying. "I'm sorry," I tell Kyle. "I shouldn't have said that. I don't think Michael and I ever really connected the way I wanted to. I want to remember things between us as perfect but they never were. I always wanted more. Do you know what I miss? I miss feeling like my life is really my own, I miss knowing that I, by myself, really matter. I never had any control when I was with him and I'm afraid I still don't have any where he's concerned. I wanted to be with him so much that I gave up everything I told myself I wanted. I always wanted what Liz and Max had. I wanted to be a couple. I wanted him to declare that I mattered. But in the end, none of it mattered. I wanted him in my life so badly that I went along and fought for him to change and hoped that he would and maybe even let myself believe in my hope. And now I can't believe in myself because when he touched me..." I know my face is red and that I shouldn't be speaking--this is a Liz confidence or maybe even a late at night write on a piece of paper and then fold it and put it away forever confidence--but I keep talking anyway. Something is howling inside me and I want to let it free. "When he touched me I didn't care about anything at all. I wanted to, but I couldn't. Do you know that he almost never let me touch him? Just when he was out of control enough to touch me. That's when I could touch him. And even then..."

Even then it wasn't equal. I can remember being in his apartment, lying on his sofa. Letting him touch me, enjoying it, relishing it. I remember kissing him. I remember my arm stealing up to wrap around his neck and then I wanted to move my hands lower, around to his chest and then down. And his eyes meeting mine and him telling me. "I can't. I want you too much." At the time, that made me feel joyous. Now I wonder why I thought that him telling me not to touch him was a good thing. "It wasn't equal. It was never equal."

Kyle is silent for a long time. So silent that I think I have howled past the fragile resurrection of our past and into a part of my present that he wants no part of. But then he does speak, and his voice is strong and sure and I know that he is still here with me, that he isn't going anywhere.

"There's a scar. From the bullet. I thought Max would make it so nothing remained. That's what my dad said happened to Liz. But when the handprint disappeared, I had a scar. Do you..." His voice is faint now. A whisper, like we shared when we were four. 'Do you want to read this book? Or this one?' " you want to see it?"

I do. I want to see that we are all pawns and that even aliens with Destiny who can heal and save can't erase what might have been. "Yes."


The tv is still on. It is a soothing noise, another recycled past in the background. Kyle is unbuttoning his shirt.

With Michael, this moment would have held a weight, an anticipation. The first time I saw his chest, the first time we touched skin to skin was on a night in December when the air was heavy and muggy and everything seemed out of order. I remember that I thought his skin would burn mine, that I would incinerate from his touch, but instead it was as if I was freezing from the outside in. His skin met mine and I remember the expectation that burned my nerve endings, the way I felt as if my insides would melt if I didn't feel him against me. I thought there would be more melting when his skin met mine but it was icy. My skin pebbled--my flesh burnt cold by the touch of his skin. It was most intense that first time, but it was like that every time. Liz spoke of how Max made her burn, and I nodded as if I understood but I never did.

I do not know what I feel now. I want to have a classification for what I am thinking in order to prove that I feel something. But all I feel is myself trying to think.

His shirt is open and I lean forward. "Where?"

He touches a spot on his chest. I lean forward a little more. And there, nestled in the expanse of skin is a tiny groove. It is round and white and a little puckered and my fingers rest against it for a moment and then skate away. I wonder if it hurts. I wonder if any of it hurt. "What was it like?"

"Getting shot?"



I tilt my head a little to the side, encouraging him. He continues. "You know how when you bump your head or fall down or something and you see stars?"

I nod.

"It was like that--except the stars were red. And it hurt so bad, but only for a moment. And then it didn't hurt at all. I always thought death would be...I don't know. More real. But it didn't feel like anything after that first moment."


"Then--I could hear my dad--I didn't know what he was saying, but I knew it was his voice. And then there was Max. And then it was over and I was better."

"That isn't all."

I think, for a moment, that he is going to say more, that he is going to say something else. That he is going to explain what happened, that he is going to tell me what being brought back from the dead feels like. Liz told me what happened to her, but only in fits and starts and I had so much other information to process along with her resurrection that I never really comprehended what happened to her. "That's all."

There is silence for a moment, and I think about what he has told me, what he's showed me. I think about how much it has cost him--to live with the fact that he owes his life to the boy who took the girl he loved, how he must feel that he has no control over his own life anymore, that he is only here because of alien whim and pity. And of how much he understands what I am feeling, and of how lucky I am to have found him again. "Thank you," I tell him and I feel the inadequacy of the phrase for the first time in my life.

He looks startled for a moment and his eyes dart away from mine. "Don't be stupid," he finally mutters.

When we were younger and I figured out all his secrets like where he'd hidden the toy truck that we both wanted to play with, he'd never look me in the eye when he lied and said he didn't know where it was. I never realized how nice it is to be with someone who lies so poorly. With Michael, lies always came wrapped up with the truth and I could never tell what was supposed to be true and what I was supposed to disregard. I could never figure out what I was supposed to believe.

"It's funny," he says as he buttons up his shirt, "but how you felt with Michael--that's how I felt with Liz. I dated her because I wanted more, because I wanted someone who would wanted to be with *me*, who wanted more than a date with a football star."

I roll my eyes at his ego but I don't say anything.

He continues. "And then she came up to me one time--right after Tess came to town and she started talking about how I needed to be careful and I realized that she only ever dated me because she thought she had to. She thought she had to date me because of who I'm supposed to be, because no one is supposed to turn down a date with 'Kyle Valenti'. Sometimes I don't think she ever liked me at all. No wonder she wanted 'casual.' And I always wanted more with her. But we were never equals either. And I think...I think that the worst part of all is that if she hadn't have left me...I wouldn't have cared that she never liked me the way that I liked her. I would have just been happy to be with her."

I know that I should say something, maybe something teasing and/or reassuring, but I don't have the energy and I don't need to. With Liz or even with Alex, there would be a fumble of words as we all tried to rationalize why we couldn't blame ourselves for not seeing what was in front of us all along. But Kyle--he's able to see that yes, sometimes you are a participant in your own failures, that sometimes you refuse to see what you know is true just because you don't want to. Liz once talked about dating Kyle and I told her she made him sound like a poodle. At the time, that amused me. Now I am ashamed by it. I forgot him and I underestimated him.

We both look at each other for a minute and then he changes the channel again, stopping on a sitcom from the past. The pastel characters stumble through predictability and the laugh track reminds of what we are supposed to find amusing. I lean over a little, and our feet are next to each other on the coffee table.

"I think that everyone has to take some of the blame." I finally say. "I think that's the worst part of all--knowing that you can't just call yourself a victim."

His eyelids are closed and for a second or two I think he is asleep. But then he turns and looks at me for a moment and I see that his eyes are alert and awake and that he has been waiting and letting me have my silence. I want to ask why he is doing this--why he and I are friends again, why he is willing to walk down the halls at school with me--but I don't really need to. I see it all in the way he shrugs just slightly when I finish speaking. Kyle needs silences too.

"Probably" he says. "Do you think they talk about us?"

I try to think of Max and Max's sister and Michael and Tess talking about us. I want to see it--I want to see Max's sister and Michael shouting wild accusations about how they have ruined each other's lives. I want to find out that Tess gave them the wrong message and that they are all fated to be with raccoons and not with each other. I want to see Max weeping into his pillow every night because of what he did to Liz. I think that only the last thing probably happens. "Sometimes."

Kyle changes the station again and another sitcom appears. After a while, I rest my head against his shoulder and place my legs over his. We sit in silence and I feel almost happy. I almost feel like I'm moving forward.


After a while, I decide I'm ready to go home. Kyle calls his father and I watch his face as he talks to him.


"It's me. meaning Kyle."

"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just wondering when you're coming home?"

"Ok. Yeah, sure. I might still be up."

He hangs up the phone and makes a face. "Come on, let's go."

We walk back to my house slowly and argue about movies along the way.

When we get there, he leans over and rests his chin on my head as we stand outside. Faint sounds drift out to us from inside the house and I'll bet my mother has fallen asleep in front of the tv again. I think I knew that was going to happen. I think I recognize patterns when I see them.

"Do you think you'll get over him?"

I lean into Kyle a little and rest my nose against the column of his throat. I haven't felt this safe in a long time and the absurdity of that thought--safe from what, exactly? Myself?--makes me smile.

"Of course I will."

He laughs and moves away from me. "You'd better practice saying that one some more, DePukeah."

I miss Kyle. Or more specifically, I miss the hug he was giving me. Until Michael, the only person that had ever really hugged me was my mother. I didn't realize how wonderful hugs could be until Michael started doling them out to me. I put my hands in my pockets of my shorts because I don't want to get addicted to another boy's embrace and force myself shrug. "Maybe I don't want to get over him."

Kyle looks at me for a long time. So long that I start to get fidgety and almost bend down to pick up a rock to throw at him, to push things back to our pattern of teasing. But I haven't been four for a long time, and if there's one thing Michael's taught me, it's that stones can hurt. Little pebbles, big stones, walls made of them--they all hurt in different ways and they all leave you injured and bruised and struggling. And Kyle would let me hurt him again, like I did all those years ago. He isn't like Michael who always manages to strike first. Kyle would be the bruised one and I don't want that for him, and I don't want to be more like Michael then I already am.

"God, I can't believe I'm saying this. I can't believe I have to say it. It just figures that you're too dense to see it and I have to spell it out for you." he finally says. "But you've got to get over him, you've got to get over Michael. You deserve better than him. That's the bottom line. Why would you think that you deserve someone who doesn't love you enough to fight for you?" He blows out a breath before I can say anything and continues. "I gotta go, ok? My dad will actually be home in fifteen minutes and if I'm lucky I might get a couple of words in before he's off to cook up some new plot to show Max how grateful he is for saving my life. I'll see you tomorrow."

He leaves before I can find words, turning and disappearing into the night that holds Roswell in its grasp. I'm glad he left because I don't know what to say. I lean against the door for a moment, just thinking about what he said. Do I deserve someone who only loves me enough to leave me? Or do I deserve more?

I go inside and turn off the tv. I pull the half-finished afghan my mother made when she was in her crocheting phase over her sleeping form, and then I walk upstairs.

My room is still full of Michael memories and they pull at me as I get ready for bed. He was once in my room, he once dripped water onto my floor, his shirt once rested on my chair. I crawl under the quilt, wrap myself in my sheet. I take a deep breath, inhale, and smell nothing but my own memories. Michael doesn't linger in my bed anymore, and really, he never did. He always wanted to stay for just a while, and I always wanted him to stay forever.

Go ahead, I think, as I drift off to sleep. Go ahead, Michael. Go and get your Destiny, go and get Isabel. I deserve better. Kyle was right. Do you hear that Michael? I said go. I'll let you howl forever inside me, but I need to move on. You have to move on now, you have to see that you won't always be the scream I hear. I want a new noise in my life. I want a new now, I want to see what lies ahead for me. I want the better I deserve.


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