Back to part 1-3!
"Don't baby me," is the first thing she says.
She called me.
I don't think she had my number written down anywhere.
"Kyle," she says. "Kyle wants to treat me like this- this expensive glass object. I can't stay there tonight. 'Do you want this?' 'Do you need something?' I don't want that. I don't. Okay? Don't do that."
She picked up her phone and called my house at 11:00 PM. I can't get over that. I will never understand alien girls.
Maria called me first and told how beat-up she was, kind of an aside in a conversation about some new slutty waitress at the Crashdown and some "more Czechoslovakian shit I don't want to get into".
I don't know how Maria could have seen her broken, and I saw her fixed, and I'm the one of us who gives a damn.
She called me - Tess called me - and now she's on my front porch in the dark, shaking and saying something about this town and Max and Nasedo. "I'm so tired of waiting" - she says that more than once. "I'm so tired of..."
What is wrong with her and why is she sitting here and what can I do? That's my three impressions shoved together.
"I've never seen you talk this much." I say. Don't ask me why those are my comfort words. I'm at a loss. Really, I have seen her talk this much. What I meant was "this fast" and "this loud", but my mental thesaurus never kicks in on time.
She says something else about Nasedo, and I fidget because I never did give her my sympathies when he died. Then comes something barely-intelligible about Kyle who she doesn't want and Max and Michael and oh God, she's a mess.
And then she freezes, gives me this trembling smirk and says, "It's just - they all went right to the birthday girl." The way her voice strains physically hurts me and I need to breathe deeply before I can say anything.
Do you know what I say then?
I say, "Tess, do you think we could have this chat sometime when I'm not still wearing a thong?"
So she laughs. She actually laughs, suddenly and perfectly and totally lacking bitterness. It lasts for around three seconds. Alex Whitman, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you and goodnight.
The thing you have to know is it was all just talking. At least until around November.
And yeah, I calmed down a little. I was on the verge of leaving Roswell and a number of developments convinced me to stay. That's all I'm saying about that. It's Autumn and we're at a point where my life is almost not a total hell.
Whatever you want to call those freaks who showed up - 'Dupes', that's what Max settled on - I really thought we had a chance with them. If they had been a little smarter and less conniving, something could have worked out.
It's Autumn and I'm hiding in a corner of the UFO center. I'm hiding because I desperately want to avoid these people who look like me as a Jerry Springer guest. Alex walks by with an uncertain look on his face and two sodas in his hand. "Wanna split?"
I have the sinking feeling those sodas weren't intended for me, but I say "Sure."
"This is pretty weird for you, huh?"
"That's an understatement."
He taps his hand like he does when he's giddy/nervous and waiting to say something. His second cousin Ray in Utah emailed him last week, he says, about some supercomputer he heard about at the University of New Mexico. The attached note said "b/c ur into this science stuff right?". None of that matters much to me right now.
"I think I'm going to New York," I say, playing with a book in my hands. (I naively believe that trip is going to get me answers.)
Alex responds with a story about how he applied to be a foreign exchange student once, and he just got the letter that begins, "We regret to inform you," that yada yada yada there's someone more worthy than you to see the world. He hasn't told anyone yet because he's disappointed. None of that matters much to me right now either, and I'm getting annoyed because he seems to think it should.
"I think I might even go home," I start, deciding to ignore him. But then I look at my book again, since he's looking at it too, and I think over what's just been exchanged. "Why did you say that about the computer?"
"I was just thinking."
Right there was when it stopped being 'just talking'. Now there's thinking. He's thinking. I'm thinking. The forces of nature are thinking. There's a crazy coincidence that his trip to Europe would have begun the exact same day I found myself utterly disillusioned with the Big Apple. See? Forces of nature led us to UNM and handed us fake names, as far as I'm concerned.
He sends Liz and Maria emails that can't be traced. He looks giddy/nervous a lot, and I try to imagine what it's like to be Alex. I'm so used to lying it's almost passť, a way of life, but this is pretty interesting for him.
I go there in the dark. I use my powers on security, and tap on the glass door of the building where all the lights are on. Alex lets me in, and sometimes he tells me he actually missed me since yesterday, or Wednesday, or whenever I last came. Later the mileage on my car gets fixed with a wave of my hand, and no one asks questions. The Valentis have established a no-panicking-unless-someone's-been-gone-a-good-18-hours policy, and nobody else cares much where I am as long as I'm not bothering or hitting on them. Isn't that all so perfect? It kills me.
He calls the little situation we have here "Das Cruces".
I'm getting to like this kid quite a bit, which is a little scary. I told you I don't like people sneaking up on me.
We mesh. You know, we work together pretty well. He feeds who-knows-what into the machine and I sit there trying to analyze what comes out, or remember something that could help. The thing you have to know is that this is all just talking and thinking and working. At least until January.
What happens in January screws up everything completely, but you don't get the story if I don't tell you, so let's get on with it. It wasn't unusual in the beginning for one of us to get stuck or frustrated, and then the other would sort of calm that one down. But by winter, the time for this whole foreign-exchange perfect plan we had going is almost up, so we're *both* lost and irritated and non-calm. We're giving up, which I hate to do, and I think he hates it too.
So there I am, lost and irritated and non-calm, and we're having a little fight when I *accidentally* hit him in the ear with my bag. He yells, "OW!" I feel like an idiot, apologize, put my bag down, try to touch him-
Don't ask me to explain it, because I don't know. Something happened and we saw each other on the inside.
On the inside, Alex is a living, breathing tribute to everything good in the world. I am aware of how dumb that sounds, but I'm not the best at saying romantic things. Sue me.
When it ends, he's looking at me with those eyes - the sad, loving ones that burn me later - the same ones. "You felt that too, right?" he whispers. Yes. The next thing I know, we're kissing.
"I saw something," he says when he catches his breath. "You - and you were - younger - and then - I saw these - I don't know - " It's funny to transcribe makeout conversation. I'd give you my half too, but it goes more like "Mmmm. Mm. Really-mmm?"
More connections, not forced at all. This is weird and different for me. Alex playing checkers with his dad. Having ice cream with Liz and Maria. Dancing with Isabel in a red dress I've never seen. On his porch with me.
"Numbers," I say between "mmm"s. He's off mumbling about moons and red oceans, but he stops to politely ask me what kind of numbers.
I tell him ohs and ones, which nearly gives him a heart attack. "Ohs and ones," he repeats and then he starts grinning, and - I think - tries to pick me up to spin me around, but he's not all that strong. I remember something he said about alien-human flashes and I wonder on so many levels why we never tried this before.
The computer whirs it's mechanical heart out for 10 minutes, and finally says You are the Royal Four.
That's the last thing I see because we're kissing again.
You may be wondering how I felt about all this.
"How did Alex feel?" you're asking, because you know how it ends or you think you do. Well, I'll tell you how I felt. This is the sappy and cute part, and I want to torture you.
To recap: I just missed 6 weeks of school, minus Winter break. I got to be closer to something so life-altering and important most people can't even know it exists. I got Tess.
I feel pretty darn good.
Liz and Maria hug me and smile and I missed them. I didn't expect everyone to be so happy when I got back. But I also didn't expect to lose my virginity the night I discovered a key to alien existence, while my friends and family thought I was an ocean away. Life is full of surprises like that.
Yeah, that's right, virginity. Now ask me again how I feel.
Not that I'm shallow or anything. This is not about sex. Get your minds out of the gutter....
Okay, it's slightly about sex. But if you knew what's going on in Tess Harding's head, you would understand the deep spiritual connection between us. Of course you wouldn't see what's going on in her head, but I can. Hence the "deep spiritual connection". We're open around each other and honest. We rub off on each other. I mean, look at her. Take a second and look at her. It's winter-turning-spring, and she's become this light of happiness on everybody. She's funny, she's free-spirited, she's beautiful, and it's not even that she's changed. She's always been those things, but something happened that made them all come out.
I think I changed the same way, and other people notice it. I'm still me, but the suave version of me. I didn't even know he existed.
Liz said even Isabel's interest was piqued. I say, well, Isabel's nice and all, but... Liz looks like she's going to faint.
I'm such a hip badass version of me. That version was always in there somewhere but never had a reason to show itself before.
The down side is that we can't exactly tell anyone yet. If we tell, first Liz and Maria will go nuts and assume she's manipulating and using me. Then Isabel and Kyle will have their feelings hurt a little. Then Michael and Valenti... well, Michael and Valenti will say something to the effect of "Mazel tov" and move on, but that's not the point.
Max will assume this relieves him of his marriage duties, which by his logic would relieve him of all the other King stuff he should be doing. Max can have an odd grasp of logic like that.
So we're doing a lot of sneaking around and it's all very Romeo and Juliet, except the leads are the rejects. Rosaline and Paris. Yeah. Read the play again.
In March, we go to Vegas. Okay, so "we" is "everyone", and the "we" that's "me and Tess" sort of gets split up for a few hours. But do you know what deep connected spirits are? Two people that can accidentally find each other in Las Vegas. Most people can't even find each other on purpose in those hotels.
When I tap her on the shoulder in the lobby, she flinches and then grins. "Do you mind? *Some* people are trying to mindwarp around here."
I absolutely love her.
"What happened? Caused a disturbance, can't get back in? Just hide behind me. Nobody will even see you, we'll fit you under a table."
I love Hip Badass Me.
"Not funny," she says through her teeth. "Remind me why I hang out with you losers?"
"You're one of us, one of us," I hiss in my creepy voice, which sounds more like a coughing munchkin than anything else. She closes her eyes and fights a losing battle against smiling.
Screw appearances, we're a couple. Tess & Alex. T & A.
Ha ha. Shut up.
"I didn't mean you," she says, "Do you know where I've been all day?"
"I lost all my money in the span of three seconds. Then I got to be inside a strip club without seeing any actual nudity, got kicked out of the newly designated Fool Around With a Stranger Zone that is our hotel suite, and turned down an invitation to see a couple of my friends fistfight in jail. Worse than that?"
She takes it all in. "I think I broke some kind of Pacman record against an eleven-year-old."
"Where'd you get that dress?"
"Oh, this old thing?" she giggles. "There was a little card with my name on it in the room. I didn't see anyone fooling around in there."
Oh right. Maria said she got us clothes. "What does mine look like?"
She offers to forget the casino and show me. I'm the only guy here without a normal tuxedo. She holds it against my chest and says it's the look where you try to be a geek but it'll work on me, or something like that.
She also kinda helps me change, but I swear to God it's not about sex. Most of the time.
Hell, she bought me a camera. Really. She says she wanted a throw-away one, but then she remembered she had a few grand on her so she got the real thing. State-of-the-art, power zoom, auto exposure control, built-in flash. It was a present. Granted, it was a present bought with someone else's money, which she points out every time I thank her, but I still spend a lot of time in the hotel room just taking pictures of us-
Minds out of the gutter!
Later, we go down to the nice restaurant, and I'm being suave and she's being a light of happiness, and we're kicking each other under the table. Maria finally gets to sing, and Tess says, "We're dancing."
Except she says it to Kyle.
On to Parts 7-9!
Have you emailed me yet?
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