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New Beginnings, Chapter 14
Reply to Alex ParrishPosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list October 6, 2003
Part: 14/19 "New Beginnings"
Author: Alex Parrish
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Katims, Metz and the WB. No infringement is intended. I own nothing, Trust me. Suing is futile!
Distribution: Roswell Slash Archive/Others Ask
Rating: X? Explicit sex and language
Spoilers: Nothing in particular and seasons 1,2,3 in general
Thanks: To aunty_mib, Beta extraodinaire, eh!
Summary/General: The lives of the 7 primary characters for 9 months after they leave season 3.
Summary/Chapter: A little misunderstanding leads to a big crisis for Kyle and Max.
The End of the World (almost)
Just because I was beginning to get used to the freaky changes in my body and my appearance, doesn't mean that everybody else got used to them at the same rate. Shortly after the change in my eyes, this fact was driven home to me by an incident which I, for one, will always regret. I don't want to sound like the blame was all mine - Max behaved like a jackass, but, I really should have been prepared for what took place -- we all should have expected it -- but, somehow, I wasn't and we didn't. If I just been a little more patient and compassionate -- well, hindsite is 20/20 and I'm trying so hard to live in the 'now' -- but if I had been more patient we could all have gotten through this better.
The Buddha teaches, "Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world."
I would add that the reverse is also true; "When words are both untrue and unkind, they can destroy our world."
Everything started off just fine that evening. It was my night with Max and I had been looking forward to the comfort of being in his arms. As I told you, after my hair changed, Max insisted that it was sexy, and I chose to believe that, even though I asserted the opposite was true. Neither of us brought up the changes in my eyes that evening, I suppose because it was so new.
Max and I had turned out the lights (as if that mattered to me) and we enjoyed some sexy foreplay. As we got more seriously into the sex, Max paused for a moment and said, "You know, I've been thinking, maybe we should start using condoms."
It came as a bolt out of the blue. I had asked about condoms the very first time Max and I had sex on our camping trip. He assured me that "Aliens don't get human diseases and so, don't pass them on, either -- that we were perfectly safe without a condom."
I stopped dead in my tracks. Last June, there had been a lengthy discussion among the three women (much to my chagrin, right in front of me) about visiting a family-planning center and each being fitted for an IUD, so I knew it wasn't a question of Liz having an unwanted pregnancy, besides, Max could have used a condom with HER to deal with that if they didn't trust the IUD or if it wasn't suitable for her. Then, it struck me. This wasn't about Liz at all. This was about ME, and what I had become. I didn't need to be a mind-reader to recognize the look of reluctance and embarrassment on Max's face.
I got up from the bed and stood in the middle of the room, looking out the window so as to avoid Max's face. "This is about what's happening to me, isn't it? It's about my becoming a freak?"
"No, not at all." Max protested. "Liz and I just thought that we might want to try it without a condom for a while."
Now I turned to face him. "That's bullshit Max and we both know it. We both know that if we use a condom, your precious little gland won't get fed, and you'll end up infertile. Who you gonna get to feed you sperm, Michael? This isn't about Liz at all; this is about me and what I've become, isn't it? You've turned me into an alien freak, and now you're afraid I might contaminate you and turn you into a freak too, or, worse yet, cause you to make freak babies! You made me a freak, and now you're afraid of me. I'm like Frankenstein's monster to you."
He protested, "No, no, that's not it at all... ." but couldn't come up with any more to say, and couldn't look me in the face either, staring instead at the rumpled sheets.
"No... I love you. Please, Kyle, I love you."
"GET OUT, NOW!"
"You don't understand... ."
I picked up his clothes and threw them at him as he began to move towards the door.
"I love you, Kyle, please?"
I stood firm. "Go!"
He moved too slowly. I picked up the closest thing at hand -- a book on the bedstand, and hurled it at the door as he was slowly closing it. Amazingly, it smashed clean through the upper panel of the door and sailed across the balcony, landing with a crash somewhere in the Great Room, obviously breaking something in its path.
Max, closed the shattered door anyway, parting quietly with the words, "I love you, Kyle." Then he was gone. I went to the shattered door and locked it as a symbolic gesture.
I raged. I seethed. I trembled. I think I even howled once or twice. I threw-up; but you KNEW that was coming. I am too embarrassed to name for you the terrible, horrible thoughts that passed through my mind during that night. I raged against Max for being so insensitive. I raged against my body for betraying me and turning into a Alien freak. I raged against myself for losing my cool and sending Max away when all I really wanted was to be with him. I raged against life in general for not consulting me and not following my plans.
But rage and anger take massive amounts of energy and finally I collapsed on the bed and slept.
I woke in the morning with Jesse lightly tapping on what was left of my door and peeking at me through the gaping hole in it. "Kyle, can I come in?"
I looked at him, but said nothing.
He tried the knob and found it locked. "It's locked."
"Well, unless you have the key, I guess that means that you can't come in."
He reached through the hole, but couldn't quite reach the lock (actually he could have if I had told him he was reaching too far to the left, but I didn't.)
"OK Kyle. I get it, You want to be left alone, and I can understand that. Just hear me out -- I'll only take a minute, OK?"
I said nothing.
"Kyle, listen, I was up all night with Max. He's a mess. He told me the whole story, Kyle. Kyle, you've gotta know that he is SO sorry. He knows he was wrong. You've got to understand that he was afraid... .
"He'd better be" I growled. "Figures; he turns me into a freaking monster and then decides he's afraid of me. Tell him that if he tries to talk to me, or even come near me, that his monster WILL kill him. And I'm not in the mood for talking about it with anyone at all right now, so, thanks for stopping by. Goodbye." I rolled over to face away from him.
Later in the day, I worked my way to the cellar, avoiding contact with anyone, and found some tools. I removed a door from one of the vacant bedrooms and replaced mine with it. Luckily, it fit. No one made any attempt to talk to me. I was glad for that. That evening, when it sounded like everyone had gone to bed, I went to the kitchen and gorged myself on all the leftovers I could find. Actually, it is kind-of neat not to have to use the lights -- I could see everything plain as day. Then I grabbed an armful of non- perishable foods to sustain me during the following day, and was about to retreat to my room, but decided to stop in the Library to pick up something to read since my reading materal had disappeared after trashing the door. Big mistake.
I was casually browsing through the titles in almost total darkness when, the lamp came on and I nearly jumped out of my skin. No matter what Liz tells you or writes in her diary, I did NOT 'scream like a girl.'
She started to giggle, but put a hand over her mouth and cleared her throat to stifle the giggle. "I thought I would find you here. Looking for this?" She held out the book-turned-weapon which I had hurled at Max the night before.
I took the book from her hand and said, "Thank you." I was about to turn and escape, but she caught me by the arm.
"Please, Kyle, sit down for just a moment and talk to me."
I could have ignored her, but I have always been just a little afraid of Liz when she gets that edge in her voice, and, if were honest with myself, I would probably say I missed the human contact. I sat in one of the big cordovan leather wing-chairs in front of the fireplace, and Liz took the other. I crossed my arms and tried to look as stoic as possible. "Did HE send you?"
She slid forward to the edge of the chair to be closer to me, resting her elbows on her legs "No, Kyle, I came to find you because we're friends, you and I, and it hurts me to see you in so much pain."
That simple expression somehow touched a part of me which was still raw, and, try as I did, I couldn't stop a trickle of tears silently flowing down my cheeks, and silently dropping off my chin. I didn't want her to see it, but it was impossible to hide, even with my face turned away.
"Kyle, I can't mend what has happened... between you and Max, but, as a friend, I feel it's very important to tell you two things. First, please, know that I believe that Max is truly sorry and more repentant than he has ever been in his life over this rift in your relationship. Second, no matter what your situation is with Max, there are five other people in this house who love you very, very much, and whose lives are torn apart by your absence. Please let us in. Please let us at least be with you as you go through this. I, we, can't bear to see you trying to deal with this all alone like this."
I wanted to speak, but there was this giant painful lump in my throat, and I knew that if I made any sound at all it would come out as a sob, so I just covered my mouth to stifle the sound.
After a moment or two, when I felt I could speak again, I said, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow, once I pull myself together, I'll rejoin the human race, I promise"
"OK" she whispered, then stood up and pulled her cardigan close around her, kissed me on the forehead, and left.
I sat there a couple of minutes in the darkness to let the tears finish, then I blew my crooked nose, and headed upstairs.
The next morning, everyone in the house was walking on eggshells, eyes downcast and speaking in semi-whispers. Max was nowhere to be seen. We went through our daily routine, pretty much as normal, but without speaking any more than absolutely necessary. Even Michael was quiet as a mouse.
The evening ended, as usual with everyone (except Max) in the Great Room. Before I went to my room to go to bed that night, I stood, cleared my throat, and broke the silence. "I... I just want to thank you for being my friends and for trying to... I don't know... for just being here for me. Maria got up and hugged me, then I went to my room.
Later that night, I was wakened by a commotion of some sort on the other side of the balcony, and I could hear Isabel crying. The incident didn't last long, so I just went back to sleep. No one spoke of it in the morning.
Through the day, I noticed people staring at me briefly, then making silent eye-contact with one or more of the others, as though there was a communal secret being kept from me. I determined I wasn't going to ask; let them tell me when they are ready. I could have simply read their thoughts, but that went against my principles, unless I had their permission, which I didn't. No, let them come to me if they want me to know.
Max was still nowhere to be seen. I went to bed that night, still not knowing the secret, and spent all the next day wishing someone would tell me what was going on. I said my 'goodnights' in the Great Room and headed up to bed. I was brushing my teeth when there came a knock.
"Jus' sa minitp, Ahb bussng m'teeff." I rinsed and then called out, "Come in." It took me another couple moments to put away the toothbrush and glass, and dry my face, so when I came out of the bathroom, Michael was already seated on my bed.
"What can I do you for?" I was trying, unsuccessfully, to sound as if everything were normal.
Michael patted my bed with his hand, indicating where I should sit and I sat. We both sat in silence for a few beats.
"Kyle," (I was instantly nervous, he didn't call me 'Valenti' or 'fucking moron' so I knew he was deadly serious) "I gotta tell you something. I'm gonna be in a shit-load of trouble with the others for telling you this, but I think you need to know. They think you should find it out on your own, or at least ask, but I know where you're coming from. A man's got his pride."
"I appreciate that."
"Late Wednesday night, Max went crazy and... ."
"O-my-god, he didn't hurt himself, did he?" My rational brain didn't give a damn, but something deeper was still concerned. Rational won. "Not that I care."
"No, no, nothing like that, at least not physically."
"He's cleared out one of the spare rooms -- all but a mattress and a blanket, and shut himself in and won't come out 'til you forgive him."
"Oh, that's nice." I pretended to stifle a yawn.
"Do tell." I was playing up the sarcasm and disinterest for all it was worth.
"He's shaved his head."
"What?" I laughed for the first time in three days.
"He's shaved his head. He looks just like some kind of damn monkey with those big ears sticking out, and he's on a hunger strike."
"A hunger strike?"
"Yeah, he hasn't eaten anything since Wednesday dinner. He's only taking in water. He calls himself a 'prisoner.' He says he's a 'prisoner of love' and he's not going to come out or eat again 'til you forgive him."
"That's absurd. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. He's really doing it?"
"So far -- yes. As far as it being stupid, well, you know I love Max, but where romance is concerned, he's not exactly the brightest bulb on the string." (I marveled, silently, at this line, coming from Michael Guerin, romance's burned-out bulb, if ever there was one!)
I didn't know what to say for a moment, then it struck me.
"That asshole! Leave it to Max Evans to turn this thing around so that it's all about Max. Max, Max, Max! He's just trying to manipulate us; I know it and so do you! Well, it's not going to work this time. Let him starve, the son-of-a-bitch."
"You know what?" Michael asked, kind-of surprised, "I'm with you. I felt that way but I just didn't have the right words for it. You've hit the nail right on the head. But, whatever you do, please don't tell anyone, especially Isabel, that I feel that way, or my life, as I know it, will be over."
"I hear you. CYA. I won't tell."
"Thanks." Michael rose to leave. "I've gotta go now before somebody misses me and figures out that I'm here. G'night."
"G'night, and, Michael...?"
He turned back for a second, "Yeah?"
He smiled, then was gone. His smile kind-of stayed behind in that space -- like the 'Cheshire Cat.'
I leaned back, hands behind my head, smiling and spoke aloud to myself, "He wants to play martyr, Let the son-of-a-bitch starve." I chuckled until I fell asleep.
The next day, everyone, even Michael, actor that he is, continued with the furtive glances, but I pretended not to notice. No one mentioned Max, least of all myself. It was Saturday. Max and I had fought on Tuesday night, and he had started his hunger strike on Wednesday night so that meant that he had gone three days, counting today, without food, and only water to drink. I was betting he wouldn't make it to five days. I was absorbed in my daily routine.
As I got into bed on Saturday night, I was gleefully repeating to myself, "Let's just see..., let's just see."
Sunday came and went with no sign of Max, and no mention of his name. Late, Sunday night, I heard Isabel crying again. "Poor Isabel, I thought, she has always walked right into Max's little schemes. I wish she could see herself as the Enabler she is."
I woke up Monday feeling, "This is the day!" I spent the entire day on pins-and-needles waiting for someone to announce that Max had broken his fast.
After dinner, I was in the library again trying to find something a little lighter to read that night. I'm sure that Liz and Isabel didn't know I was there, and I saw Liz pass by the door with a tray of food, and then speak to Isabel.
"It's no use. He hasn't touched a thing. He told me not to bring any more trays or he'd throw them over the balcony, and he sounded like he meant it. What are we going to do?"
"Let me try."
I watched from the Library as Isabel took the tray in the other direction. Moments later, there was a commotion, and food, tray, drink, dishes, flatware, and curses rained down from the balcony to the floor of the Great Room, accompanied by 'crashes' and 'splats,' and then a final 'slam.'
I had to put a hand over my mouth to stifle the laugh -- I couldn't let them know that I had seen this.
Now, if a wimp were reading this, he'd probably say, "Ooh! How could you ever be so cruel to the man you love? You must not love him, you are so mean!" Well, the truth is, I realized days ago that I still loved him, and that, yes, he still loved me too. I realized that Max is only (half-) human, and that he is frightened by the strange and the unknown, just like the rest of us. In a weak moment, he had given voice to those fears, and I, also in a weak place, let my own set of fears overrule my brain and my heart. I had already forgiven him. It was Max who had turned this into something else entirely; a battle-of-wills, and a showdown on his habit of manipulating everyone around him. I had to stand firm. It was for his own good, and, ultimately, everybody else's good as well.
I went to bed on Monday, telling myself that.
I would have stood firm, too, had it not been Michael who approached me on Tuesday afternoon. I was working the SoloFlex machine -- I had a good sweat going -- when Michael came to me and said, "I think this has gone far enough. It's time to put a stop to it. This has gone from teaching Max a lesson to endangering his health."
"But, don't you see," I protested, "That is just what he wants. He makes it 'all about Max,' and then manipulates us into feeling sorry for him, like he's the victim in all this. That's his pattern."
"I know, I know, and I'm not saying you're wrong about this, and I think he really started off with that kind of a plan in mind, or at least subconsciously, but somewhere along the line -- I don't know, maybe he's delirious from lack of food --but somewhere along the line, he's convinced himself that you really won't forgive him, and that he has lost your love. I think he believes it, and I think he's gonna play this out until his body can't anymore. I know that you don't want that any more than I do. It's time to stop it."
I pulled a few more reps while Michael stood there watching me, then, stopped and took off my gloves.
"You know, Michael, if it was anyone else but you coming to me with this, I'd have a good laugh and then forget about it, but I know you recognize the real situation. If I give in now, Max wins again. Nothing has changed, he goes right back to his old pattern. It's not healthy -- for ANY of us."
"I know. Maybe you're right, but I also know that I've seen and talked to him, and I'm really worried about him -- maybe that's just the way he planned it, and if so, he wins. I don't care. I'll make you a deal; If you'll just go up and talk to him... . If he EVER tries a stunt like this again, I swear to you that I'll lock him up and starve him to death myself! Deal?" He held out a hand.
I made him stand there with his hand sticking out while I thought about it. Finally, I jammed my hand into his and said, "Deal. And you'd better believe I'm gonna hold you to it!"
I went directly from there to Max's 'prison cell.' I knocked but got no answer. I slowly opened the door. Max was sitting on the mattress on the floor, leaning back against the wall, He had only his boxers on, nothing else. As Michael had said, his head was shaved. There were deep black circles around his eyes, and, with his giant Alien ears, he looked like some kind of nocturnal rodent. I could see that, even after only a week, he had lost weight. He didn't have very much body-fat to start with and his slender frame couldn't mask any of the loss. He blinked as his eyes registered my presence, and then he spoke, weakly, but clearly, "I love you Kyle." That's all he said, and then he began to sob.
He had won. I think. The cynic in me stands accusing, taunting me; "He did it again! Just like always! Max wins!"
The romantic in me says, "He did it because he loves you. You did this to him."
Reason and emotion stand stalemated in my brain. Instinct takes over.
I walked over and sat down beside him and pulled him into my embrace, rocking him and holding him as he sobbed. It was over.
Three days later.
Max is almost back to normal, almost. We are still treating each other with kid gloves. I think it'll be that way for a while.
I look back on this affair and can feel only regret. And shame for not trusting Max's love for me -- for not understanding that it was only his fear speaking. And frustration at knowing that it was Max who escalated this spat into a war of wills, and ultimately, it was Max who won. He had manipulated the situation and I knew it and I knew Michael knew it.
But did Max know it? What did Max learn from this; anything at all, I wondered?
I asked Max to sit with me in the Library about a week later -- just the two of us. We sat in silence staring at the flames in the fireplace. I hadn't quite figured out how I wanted to begin to say what I wanted to say, but in the end, Max spoke first.
"You were right."
"Well, about the whole thing. About my being afraid of your being an alien, and all that stuff you said - you were right, but, more important, you were right about what you said to Michael about me."
"Oh..., so he told you what I said."
"O-o-o-oh Yeah!" He had a kind-of ironic smile on his face. "He did a lot better than just telling me; he handed me a sheet of paper on which he had written twenty-three examples of my manipulating people and using blackmail, or emotional blackmail, in the past, all the way back to elementary school."
"You're kidding me! Michael did that?"
"He did. And..., he was right, too. There was the evidence, right in front of me in black and white. I was furious. I called him names. I called him disloyal. I told him you had brainwashed him with pseudo-psycology. He just sat there and took it all in, and then said, 'Kyle was right, and here is the evidence. I've talked about it with Maria, and Liz and Jesse. I didn't talk to Isabel about it, but I think you should. We're on to you. Get used to it, because the five of us, excluding Isabel, aren't going to put up with it anymore. Isabel may not be able to change, I don't know, she's lived with it for so long, but the rest of us aren't going to buy into it, so, like I said, get used to it.' In the end, there was only one thing I could say. I said the only thing I could; I'm sorry"
We sat in silence for a while.
Then he added, "And I'll try to do better. Can I count on you to help me with that?"
"Always." That's all I said. What more was there to say?
What did I learn? Something I should already have known. The Buddha teaches, "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned."
Continue to Chapter 15
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