Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of the show "Roswell". They
are owned lock, stock and barrel, by the creators of the show and the WB. I
can only admire them from afar, and use them as a template for my
Summary: Maria finds herself developing an unlikely bond with, of all people, Kyle Valenti. This is having a disruptive effect on her other relationships, especially with Michael. As she is drawn further into the situation, she is being challenged to see where it will lead. And perhaps, who she will end up with.
Category: Unconventional Couples
Authors Note: I am a new member on the Boards, though I have been shadowing the Crashdown site pretty much since its inception. I have watched the show since it was first aired. I deeply respect the people that I consider brave enough to lend their imaginations ,via this Board and their Fan Fiction, to continue growing the show's mythology. Some of you are so amazingly prolific! Let me state that I am a firm M&M fan/supporter. After some aborted attempts at other stories featuring my favorite twosome, this story pretty much leapt out of the (darker) recesses of my brain when I wasn't looking. I can only hope that it is considered within it's intended context and is not meant to be disrespectful to M&M lovers. That being said, read on.
|Ten minutes later, sitting at the kitchen table, Maria rubbed Kyle's hair dry. She could hardly believe she was doing this, but she felt obligated, in some small way.
I'm doing my small part to make sure Mom's night isn't ruined, she justified to herself.
Thankfully, Amy and Jim were deeply caught up in whatever conversation they were having and hadn't peeked in on the "kids".
"That soap really burned," Kyle was saying. "What are you using to clean your dishes; acid?"
He still had a scowl on his face, but his tone wasn't as harsh as it had been a few minutes earlier.
"There, done." Maria stopped toweling and stepped back to assess her handiwork. "How's the eyes?"
"Better," he mumbled.
"Good." Maria returned to the sink, picked up a clean towel and began drying and polishing the dishes.
"Thanks," Kyle said in a small voice.
"What?" Maria asked a little aghast. "Did I just hear you say what I thought I heard you say?"
Kyle sighed heavily. "Clean your ears. I said, 'Thanks'."
Kyle leaned back in the chair. He mopped his soaking shirt with a dishtowel. Maria couldn't believe she was thinking this...."Kyle come with me."
She led the way to her bedroom. With Kyle in tow, she pushed her bedroom door open.
"DeLuca. I'm not that kind of a guy," Kyle sang in a girly voice, batting his eyes and wringing his hands.
Maria was already in her room, pulling open the bottom drawer of her bureau. "Yeah, that's what I've heard." She returned dryly.
"Hah, hah. You should've been a comedian!" Kyle snorted.
"Here it is", Maria said, ignoring his remark. "Put this on." She pushed a blue sweatshirt at Kyle.
"I'm not wearing some chick's clothes," Kyle said, batting the sweatshirt away.
"It's not mine. I was holding it... for a friend."
"Friend. Which friend? Max? Alex? Or does it belong to Guerin?" He took the sweatshirt from her hand and gingerly held it in front of himself. Maria looked down at her sneakers.
"Was it de-loused? I don't want to catch anything. He looks kind of dirty."
Maria thought to herself: This time, I will strangle him! She snatched the garment out of Kyle's hand. "By the way, is that your lovely parting gift?" he shot at her.
"You, bastard! Catch pneumonia!" She whirled away from him, slamming the sweatshirt back into her drawer. She gripped the edge of the bureau so hard her knuckles turned white.
Kyle slowly came to the realization that maybe he had really pushed too far.
He approached Maria, but she kept her back to him. "Hey--you know I'm only kidding. Right?" he tried. It seemed to him that her shoulders were---shaking. Was she laughing at him? Why would she be laughing? "I'll take the change of clothes, thanks. Hey, see, I said 'thanks', again. See, I wasn't raised by wolves," he attempted to make light of the situation.
Man! Apologizing to DeLuca--what had his world come to?
Kyle had to admit that he'd been a real bastard all evening. First towards his father. All the way to the DeLuca house, he'd bitched about coming here. Then he'd been barely civil to Amy, mostly ignoring her. Now he was working on the daughter.
"Hey. Can't you forgive and forget? I'll try to behave." Kyle reached out to touch Maria's shoulder. He had hardly made contact with her skin, when a big, raking sob escaped Maria's lips. He snatched his hand back. "Whoa, there. Tell me I didn't make you cry. I'm not that good?" Maria continued to sob. She pressed a hand to her mouth and kept her back to him. "Ah, c'mon. Stop it!"
He wanted to leave the room, but he was unsure of what to do.
Finally, he decided on the unthinkable. He reached out, grasped Maria by the shoulders and spun her around to face him. When she was finally facing him, it shocked him to see the pain etched on her face. He cupped her face in his hands, as if to examine this phenomenon more closely. Fleetingly, he noted how soft her skin was. How long her lashes were.
Her eyelids were tightly shut, but that did little to stem the flow of her tears. While she didn't resist him touching her face, he could tell she was focusing all her will not to cry anymore. Not wanting to in front of him.
"DeLuca....Maria. If I really said something to upset you, I really, really, really, apologize."
She didn't respond. He shuffled his feet uncomfortably, unsure of what more to do. Maria lifted her head, opening her eyes just a fraction. Kyle's image was clear for one instant, then dissolved into watery oblivion as her tears flowed over their embankments. She failed in her attempt to suppress another sob. Tottering forward until she crashed into Kyle, Maria braced the backs of her arms against his chest in a vain attempt to keep a small distance between them. Her knees shook and she felt as if she might fall over.
Instinctively he slid his arms around her back, pulling her closer. He reached around behind her head and rubbed the back of her neck. This act of kindness and seemingly genuine concern overwhelmed her natural resistance. Maria gingerly rested her head against Kyle's shoulder. The tears began to fall---hard. He continued messaging her neck. He noticed her hair smelled like...oranges. He resisted at first, but the scent drew his nose closer and closer, until it was buried in the hair at the crown of her head.
He found himself feeling strangely comforted. By a chick's tears? How twisted is that, Valenti? All the tension he'd built up over the course of the day eased out of his body. The warmth of the girl's body against his made him feel good. She needed to be held, never mind that he was doing the holding. He knew deep down that Maria would probably have clung to whomever was there; he wasn't completely deluded. That didn't matter to him right at this moment. She needed someone. He was able to be that someone.
Kyle craved being needed and accepted in an almost a neurotic kind of way. He would just push too hard and end up looking "clingy". His "need" had scared off some the girls he dated. He was glad Maria couldn't hear him thinking. God, that would be the least of your problems, Valenti, he told himself. Maybe somebody could actually help you if they could hear how mixed up your head is. But with all the issues you have, Valenti, where would they start? Like there was this idea that he should be a hard-ass because he is the sheriff's son. And Kyle usually gave his audience whatever they expected of him. He never got to do anything that people wouldn't ascribe to The Sheriff's Son. The Sheriff's Son. People sometimes even introduced him that way: The Sheriff's Son. Meet the Sheriff's Son. The Sheriff's Son scored another touchdown. He was never only Kyle.
Kyle had tried numerous ways to get his father to take more than a passing interest in his life. He participated in, and excelled at both basketball and football. He took up fishing and consented to camping because his father would sometimes wax nostalgic about his childhood fishing, and camping memories. But Kyle's extracurricular interests didn't make his father choose to cut back his work schedule or stop searching for proof of alien life. Kyle finally figured out who needed him more. At least his team counted on him and told him so.
Kyle twisted his wrist so he could check his watch. He blinked in disbelief. Only twenty minutes had elapsed since dinner. He reviewed all that had happened to him in that brief amount of time. He recalled his earlier resolve that he would not look in the DeLuca girl's direction, unless it was to verbally assault her. Now, he stood in her bedroom holding her. It was all so crazy.
Maria's head was nestled under his collarbone as he absently messaged her shoulder. The smell of her hair floated softly up to him, invading his senses, triggering his memories. He closed his eyes, recalling that his mother had always packed oranges into his lunchbox for dessert. She had done it because he had told her he liked the way his lunchbox smelled when he opened it.
Maria gave a final sniff to clear her nose before pushing herself away from his chest. Backing away, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I feel...silly. I guess I wrecked the replacement shirt I loaned you." She wasn't looking directly at him. Nervously, she licked her lips. He noted how purpley-red her lips were. Full lips. Soft looking lips. His pulse quickened.
"It'll dry," he answered quietly.
She nodded as she pulled away from him and walked over to her dresser. Grabbing some tissues, she blew her nose.
He watched as she crossed the room. Time seemed to fold into slow motion. He caught her every subtle movement. He blinked. It was as if he were seeing her for the first time.
Silently, Kyle congratulated Maria credit for giving as good as she gotten today. She hadn't backed down from his offensive. He realized he had seriously underestimated her. Well, why wouldn't he? Maria came off as whifty. While she did have a reputation for being an above average student, it was still weird that she and Liz, apparently polar opposites, should be best friends.
Liz was so concrete, measured, thoughtful and responsible. Maria struck him as flighty. She always seemed to be talking, blathering on about this and that. Compared to Liz, Maria tended to be more spontaneous, as well as more expressive and emotional. Well, that had proven to be correct. Kyle did admire their obvious loyalty to each other. The saying is "Opposites Attract"? He supposed that it had to be true in their case. Maria's back was still turned towards him. Kyle smiled to himself, taking full advantage that at the moment, Maria was not looking in his direction. He admired the length of her legs and the curve of her hips. It wasn't really a sexual thought. He was just taking note of her---noting how different she looked compared to Liz. Noting how differently she compared to the girls he usually checked out for more than four seconds.
Across the room, Maria gently re-closed the dresser drawer; it had popped out again after she had slammed it shut. She excused herself, telling him that she was going to the bathroom to wash her face. *********************************
In the relative safety of the bathroom, Maria washed her face repeatedly. God, God, God!!! She desperately prayed. I'm insane! I'm a wreck! I'm crying in front of a Valenti! How can I be so weak! So spineless! Are these the genes from her mother's side of the pool, or had her father's spineless, weak-willed, useless genes, lying dormant all this time, finally rearing their ugly, collective head? What timing! She was so grateful her friends couldn't see her right now. She was especially thankful that Michael couldn't see her. He'd be disgusted, wouldn't he?
Michael. God, she missed him so much. If he were here, she thought to herself, he'd never have let Kyle get to her so bad. Michael would've tossed Valenti out of here on his ass. He'd done it before, in that motel room. Damn Kyle!
Maria rinsed her face again, wanting to kill time before returning to her bedroom. Still, she reasoned, Kyle hadn't been entirely evil to her. After he realized what an ass he was making of himself, he had kinda laid off her. Also, he had looked really sorry. Hah--probably worried that Daddy-dearest would drop kick his butt if he embarrassed him again in front of her Mom. She smirked at the image in her head of Kyle clearing a football field goal post after his father launched him into space.
Maria gazed into her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her eyeliner was streaked beyond repair and her lip-gloss was gone. She pulled open the bathroom cabinet door, rummaging for some eyeliner. Locating it, she applied it very slowly and carefully, so as to waste more time. She couldn't find any so she used Vaseline instead.
She stared again at herself. My bangs are soaked, she thought. Running a brush through her hair, she reached the hair at the back of her neck. She recalled how tenderly Kyle had rested his hand there, massaging away the tension she felt. She remembered how he'd pulled her to him---how his chest was muscled and firm. His after-shave smelled fresh and cool on his neck.
She had felt his warm breath on the top of her head. She distinctly recalled her impression that he was sniffing her! Maria immediately dismissed the notion for two reasons: first, she reasoned she was so upset she could have imagined the sensation, and second, the entire notion disgusted her.
Disgusted her. Liar. More like, the whole idea makes you way nervous. Admit it coward, she scolded herself. If you could be brave and truthful, you'd admit Kyle Valenti felt....so damn good against you! Ugh!! She stared at her reflection as if she couldn't recognize the face looking back at her.
Kyle scanned the bedroom, his eyes landing on a framed picture of Liz and Maria wearing their silly waitress outfits. They were hugging each other and smiling. Best of Friends.
He studied Liz's pretty face in the picture. It seemed to him that he'd always had a crush on her. It shocked him that she said "yes" when he finally found the nerve to ask her out. He never completely understood why Liz consented to going out with him, anyway. She was pretty much out of his league. He wasn't totally shabby at academics, but he certainly wasn't a candidate for valedictorian. He'd always felt that she came to the games only to see him. That was not necessarily a bad thing, but when the team hung out after the games, Liz would sit quietly while everyone else went on and on reviewing plays.
Liz enjoyed sports, but she was no enthusiast. As he'd watch her, her eyes would kind of glaze over--tuning out the surrounding conversations.
She's probably doing calculus in her head, he would think. He'd feel a twinge of guilt and embarrassment for having brought her with him.
Worse, he would be left with the feeling that he was not a very interesting person.
His thoughts returned to Maria. When she was finally able to stop crying, they sat and talked. It had been a very long time since he allowed himself to open up to another human being like that. He enjoyed the conversation. That pretty much stunned him. A fleeting thought crossed his mind--maybe it could be different with someone---like Maria.
Why was he even thinking about Maria? Sure, she is way cute. And she's blonde. Yeah, he liked blondes.
Who was he kidding? He liked girls! So, he liked girls and Maria DeLuca is a girl. Definitely a G-I-R-L. And he like blondes and Maria DeLuca is a blonde.
A blonde girl to be reckoned with. So, he thought she was cute. But it was something else. There was something about her that he couldn't quite put his finger on. Maybe it was the way she faced down the world, even though it scared her. Or maybe it was the way she looked at him when he was talking to her. She could stare him down and still make him feel that if he had something to say, he should spit it out. Like there was a possibility that he could actually have something to say that might be important or sound smart. Like she could look past who everyone thought he was and see who he was really trying to be.
"Why did you have to bring him up?" Maria had wailed.
Now it was Kyle's turn to be nervous that his father would hear her crying. Dad would kill him for making Maria cry, and he suspected that Amy would not be terribly thrilled, either.
"So I did hit a nerve?" Kyle questioned. "I was just talking trash. I really wasn't trying to get information."
Choking back the onslaught of tears, Maria squinted at him through teary eyes. "I...I..would...say...that you killed the nerve."
The Valenti Touch, he thought to himself. It had worked so well for his father that he had succeeded in driving Kyle's mother away. It was the same way with his grandpa. He, too, had been "successful" in alienating both his wife and son. Obviously, it is a trait passed down to the males in the family.
"I'm sorry. I don't want you to cry. Please." Kyle's voice cracked with emotion. He dropped his gaze to his shoes as he cleared his throat. His mouth twitched almost imperceptibly as beads of sweat formed on his upper lip. He felt like every bad stereotype of the "Bad-Ass Bully-Jock." He wanted to run out of the room, but he somehow stood his ground.
There was an awkward silence. Maria finally spoke.
"Liz didn't tell me this about you." Kyle's head snapped up and his eyes darkened.
"Oh, so now it's your turn? I'm sure you know why Liz and I aren't together anymore. Max Evans." He spit out the name "Evans" like it was dirt in his mouth. He still hadn't completely put aside hard feelings about loosing Liz to that guy.
Maria shook her head. "No. What I meant was, I know what happened between you and Liz--what got between you and Liz."
She cleared her throat. "I know that must have hurt. But, she never said anything, like, mean, about you. She was upset with you, at first, when you wouldn't back off. But she never hated you."
Kyle shifted uncomfortably.
"And she never told me that you could be pretty...sensitive." Maria finished.
"Oops. You've discovered my secret side." Kyle's voice trailed off.
Kyle thought Liz Parker was the only girl with whom he would ever let down his guard--even though his biggest fear was that she would get bored and leave him.
That didn't take long. It still burned him up that Liz turned to Max Evans for support her after her Grandmother was put into the hospital.
After they had broken up--rather, right after Liz broke up with him--he was plagued by the same feelings of confusion and abandonment he had experienced when his mom had left. It was not the same situation of course, but it had awakened that familiar feeling--that he couldn't quite measure up to the standards set by women. He concluded that whatever it was that they were looking for, he just didn't have.
As Kyle sat on the floor by the foot of Maria's bed, he weighed the benefit in asking her his "Question"--just a little "concept" about life and love he would muse about from time to time. After all she did share some of the same parental history. He was curious about what kind of response he'd get from her. He never had gotten the chance to ask Liz what she thought, mostly because they weren't together long enough, and other things had gotten in the way, and----please, dude----face facts. You never asked Liz because she wouldn't have understood, and you knew that. Sure, she would have tried, if she'd cared enough. Liz is a nice girl. That's been the problem. She has a happy, intact family. Until Max Evans entered her life, Liz Parker never seemed to have any problems. That was part of his attraction to her. Yeah, ever since she started hanging with Evans, she sure had been acting "weird." But Liz and her problems weren't his problem now.
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