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The Secrets That You Keep, Part Two
Reply to Jen'fr or visit her websitePosted to the RoswellSlash mailing list April 30, 2001
TITLE: The Secrets That You Keep - Ch. 2
AUTHOR: Jen'fr (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CATEGORY: Slashy. Boys thinking about doing boys not your thing? Please move along, then - nothing to see here.
PAIRINGS: Kyle/Riley, Kyle/Max implied.
SPOILERS: Roswell season 1, especially "Destiny"; BtVS season 4. Takes place during the summer after these seasons.
DISTRIBUTION: List archives and Guilty Pleasures; anyone else, just ask!
FEEDBACK: Definitely welcome, if you're so inclined.
NOTE: Yeah, I know The Magic Box was not open and employing Anya during the summer. But in my world, it is. :)
DISCLAIMERS: I'm only borrowing the characters from "Roswell," which are the legal property of Melinda Metz, Jason Katims, Jason Katims Productions, Regency Television, 20th Century Fox Television and The WB Network; and from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which are the legal property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, Fox Television and The WB Network. No copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred.
SUMMARY: Attempting to escape Max Evans and the events of "Destiny," Kyle Valenti goes on a college recruitment visit to UC-Sunnydale - and runs smack into Riley Finn.
DEDICATION: for my fellow Roswellian Finnatics, Becca and Mike (with special thanks to Becca for the beta)
Eyes still closed, Kyle woke up face down in an unfamiliar bed, with something damp on his face. Perfect, Valenti - is this how you're going to spend your college years? Wet and strange?
He opened his eyes enough to see that at least he'd made it back to his dorm room. And the dampness seemed to be nothing more than drool. He'd been sleeping open-mouthed, and now he was connected to this unfamiliar pillow by a string of saliva. Maybe he'd been a little more drunk than he'd been willing to admit the night before. He rolled over, sat up, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as he picked up his watch, which apparently was the only thing he'd remembered to take off last night. He had a few minutes before he was supposed to meet Finn for the big day; enough time for a shower, if he hurried. He stripped out of his sleep-rumpled clothing and grabbed a towel.
In the men's room down the hall, Kyle craned his neck to the side, leaning in to study his reflection. There was nothing visible, and certainly not any teeth marks. Come to think of it, he didn't remember his skin actually being punctured. So of course there was no physical evidence now. Still, he knew what he'd seen.
Something suspicious, that's what.
With towel-wet hair combed back and fresh, relatively wrinkle-free clothing, Kyle felt revived and ready for the world as he took the stairs two-at-a-time on his way down to meet Riley. He opened the outer door and stepped into the bright day, flipping open his shades and putting them on protectively - now the sun couldn't look deep into his sensitive eyes, and neither could Riley.
And not a moment too soon, for there was Riley coming up the walk with an easy stride and a carefree smile.
"Hey, Valenti," Riley greeted him. "How's that hangover?" His infectious grin carried amusement without condescension, and somehow Kyle found himself smiling back a little ruefully instead of putting on macho airs. "You still up for brunch?" Riley asked. At the thought of food, one of his great joys in life, Kyle's stomach did a little flip. Even without being able to see his eyes, Riley read him perfectly and gave a small chuckle. "Maybe just coffee," he suggested, and Kyle agreed.
As they walked off campus to the coffee house, Riley switched smoothly into tour guide mode, pointing out landmarks and institutions as he gave Kyle a spiel on the advantages the community of Sunnydale had to offer a guy like him. As Riley droned on, Kyle glanced askance at him. So Finn was going to play it like nothing at all had happened the night before, let alone anything weird. Well, this was certainly familiar... and Kyle decided to play along.
The tour turned from town back to the campus, and finally they arrived at the athletic facilities. Riley introduced him to the coaches there to give him the hard sell on their programs. Kyle conducted himself politely and with as much feigned enthusiasm as he could muster as he met with the football coach, the basketball coach and the wrestling coach. He answered their standard questions and asked his own by rote, his body present but his mind wandering off. So Riley Finn had a secret to hide. Kyle was just going through the motions now, as he had been almost since he stepped off the bus the day before. He knew from the moment he arrived that he had no intention of spending four years in Sunnydale, full athletic scholarship or not; in fact, he didn't intend to spend one minute beyond this weekend. So he'd just have to get to the bottom of it before he left on the noon bus tomorrow. He could do it: he'd had nine months experience working over the gang in Roswell, and he'd figured them out eventually. Sure, he'd had to get shot first - but now that the life-saving thing was already out of the way with Finn, he could get down to it.
Lastly he met with the baseball coach, and this time he fully participated in the conversation. The facilities were nice and the program was pretty good but Kyle wasn't convinced that this would be his launchpad to the Houston Astros, and he wondered at his internal disappointment. Hadn't he just got done telling himself there was no way he would come to Sunnydale again, on even a semi-permanent basis? Well then, what was he going around feeling disappointed for, as if he were looking for some excuse to come back?
"You showed a little genuine enthusiasm there, Valenti," Riley commented with a grin as they left. Kyle winced inwardly - he wasn't as good a faker as he thought, apparently; that, or Riley had been watching him more than carefully....
"Yeah," Kyle acknowledged blithely. "Baseball's gonna be my game. That, or maybe wrestling," he continued. "You wrestle, Finn?"
"I play basketball," Riley replied.
"Oh yeah? How about a little one-on-one, then?"
One-on-one? Kyle thought, hearing the words in his dad's voice. Is that what you kids are callin' it these days?
"You're on!" Riley nodded, his face lighting up a little.
In the locker room they found Kyle a uniform. He was a little hesitant to wear it, preferring something more casual. But when Riley told him to "live a little" and accompanied the mandate with an encouraging wink, Kyle felt compelled to oblige.
Out on the court, it soon became apparent that Riley had Kyle outmatched not only physically but in honed skills and natural talent as well. Riley was good, alright - good enough to let Kyle stay in the game without being obvious about it, and as they wrestled for the ball and jostled each other for shooting room, Kyle found himself forgetting everything else as he worked up a healthy sweat and actually had fun. "One more time," Kyle said after the third game, and "just one more" after that one. Riley put away the final game of "21" with a nifty jumpshot and a grin, clapping Kyle on the back in appreciation of a game well played as they headed back to the locker room for a much-needed shower.
Kyle took his time and was still stripping out of his clothes as Riley sauntered off to the showers with a towel carelessly slung around his hips. Kyle couldn't help noticing it was starting to slip.
Don't think of a naked man, Kyle told himself.
Riley grabbed the towel easily before it revealed anything, bunching the terry material in one large hand...
Or his hands, Kyle added.
"OK," Riley said, checking his watch as they left the athletic center. "I'll see you in a few hours and we'll hang at the house tonight, let you see a little of the social life that awaits you in Sunnydale." That grin again, and Kyle felt the corners of his own mouth turning up in response. "You sure you're good on your own until then? For dinner and everything?"
"Yeah, it's cool," Kyle replied.
"OK. Later, then." They parted ways, heading in opposite directions... until Kyle stopped a few steps away and pressed himself against the side of the building. After a moment, he peered around the corner at Riley's receding figure; after another moment, he began to follow him.
Riley turned off campus and started through the Sunnydale streets, Kyle behind him at a safe distance. Soon he turned into a shop. Kyle waited several minutes to see if he would come out. When he didn't, Kyle approached the shop himself. The sign above the door read "The Magic Box," and with a shrug Kyle entered.
He saw Riley right away, at a table covered with lots of books. Several other people sat around the table; one of them was the little blonde girl. Uh huh.
"Hello, customer!" an attractive young woman greeted him loudly with an overly-perky smile. "Please come in, look around, and buy something."
"Uh, okay, thanks." Kyle glanced at the group furtively, hoping she had not drawn unwanted attention to him. But they were deep in... whatever they were into. There was a book section near them and Kyle edged his way over to it, "hiding" there with his back to them while he pretended to browse. They seemed completely oblivious to anything but the books in front of them, and didn't notice him at all. He couldn't quite get close enough to hear them without giving himself away, but he was sure they were up to something. Something suspicious. This shop was suspicious. The whole town was suspicious.
Including, apparently, Kyle himself. For as he lingered amidst the book shelves, the older man disengaged himself from the group and came over.
"May I help you with anything?" he asked in a refined non-American voice. British, Kyle guessed, though it was difficult to tell from just a few words.
"No, I'm just, uh," Kyle reached behind him and hastily grabbed the first book his hand touched. As he pulled it out blindly, several other books came with it and crashed to the floor. The small group around the table looked up at the commotion; Riley's and Kyle's eyes met, and then Riley was coming over.
"Valenti, hi!" Riley said, covering any dismay with honest surprise. "Didn't expect to see you here." He turned and indicated the little blonde girl, who had come over with him. "This is Buffy."
Kyle put up his free hand in greeting, the other clutching the book to him. "Nice to meet you," he said.
"Nice to meet you, too - Valenti, right?"
"Kyle," he told her.
"Well, it's nice to meet you. How are you enjoying Sunnydale so far?"
"Riley's quite a tour guide," Kyle said, his voice carefully neutral. "I'm getting to see all sorts of interesting things I bet other visitors would never know about." He smiled innocently, keeping the smug satisfaction on the inside as he noted the uncomfortable flicker in her eyes as well as Riley's.
"Well, I better get back to the study group," she said, gesturing over her shoulder towards the table.
"Summer school's a bitch," Kyle said agreeably, secretly suspecting that summer school had nothing to do with it.
"Yeah," Riley nodded. "Well, I'll see you tonight, right?"
"Sure thing." He turned to go, but then turn back impulsively. "Oh, Finn?" he leaned in close to Riley and, almost under his breath, said those three little words that are guaranteed to strike fear in the hearts of men: "I'm onto you."
Of course, he didn't have a goddamned clue. But Finn didn't have to know that. Kyle cocked an eyebrow at Riley and nodded to Buffy and the others as he sauntered to the register to make his purchase without a backwards glance.
Kyle was just coming out of a nap when he heard the knocking on his door. A little groggy, he went over and opened it to find Riley. Kyle was somewhat surprised, both because he hadn't realized he'd been asleep for so long and because he'd half-expected Riley to ditch him after that little incident at The Magic Box. But there he was, grinning away as if nothing had ever passed between them.
Nothing ever *has* passed between us! Kyle reminded himself. Just a few words....
"You ready?" Riley asked.
"Um." Kyle ran his fingers through his sleep-touseled hair. "Give me a sec, ok?"
"You got it." Riley moved aside as Kyle went down the hall to the bathroom, stifling a yawn.
Kyle still felt nap-disoriented as they walked across campus, and was content to let Riley do all the talking about nothing. He wasn't exactly chattering; no, Riley didn't seem the chattering sort. He was just using words to head off potential awkwardness every time silence lapsed toward the uncomfortable, before it could actually get there. He was good at it, Kyle realized, really good. He could set a person at ease so smoothly, a person might not realize his guards were coming down... but, Kyle reminded himself, he was onto Riley. Yes, he was.
Riley didn't have to tell Kyle which one was Lowell House; the music blasting out the open front door was a dead giveaway. They went inside and, over the blare, Riley introduced him to a few people. Graham looked up from the CDs he was flipping through to nod in recognition, and Kyle waved back. They seemed like a pretty friendly group, and as he leaned against the wall they kept stopping to offer him a beer. "No thanks," Kyle kept replying, shaking off the notion of alcohol. He needed to stay alert around Riley, and his palate - not to mention his stomach - wasn't really up for another night of booze.
Frat parties sounded fun in theory, but now that he was actually at one, Kyle found himself a bit bored. Maybe you needed a drink or seven to have fun at these things. Kyle picked half-heartedly at the various snack foods as he wandered around. He was a pretty social guy and never had trouble fitting in or making friends, but he just didn't feel in the mood for much company, let alone partying tonight. He found himself wandering back out the door, standing alone on the porch, arms resting on the railing as he leaned against it, looking up at the stars and wondering which one Max was from...
Valenti! he admonished himself, and turned as he heard his name echoed aloud by another voice.
"You okay?" Riley asked, joining him at the railing.
"Sure," Kyle replied. "I'm just," he stopped and shrugged with a grin.
Riley returned the smile. "I hear ya barkin', big dog," he said. "I'm not into it tonight, either." They stood for a moment in companionable silence before Riley asked, "Do you want to just hang out somewhere else?"
"In your room?" Kyle suggested.
"Uh... sure." The awkward moment passed, and Riley said, "Come on," as he led Kyle down the steps and around the house, going through the back entrance up to his room. Only a few people noticed them passing through, and Kyle felt that reckless surge in the pit of his belly again. Maybe you didn't need to be drunk to have fun at a frat party, after all.
"Make yourself comfortable," Riley said, gesturing around the small room. It was modestly furnished with the standard desk, chair and bed. Kyle would never presume to sit on someone else's bed unless explicitly invited to do so, so he pulled the chair out and tipped it back as he sat. "You want anything? A coke?" Riley asked, still standing in the doorway.
"Coke? Or Pepsi?"
"Sure, since it's the real thing," Kyle replied.
"Be right back," Riley said with a grin, and disappeared.
It was the perfect opportunity for snooping. It was practically an invitation to snoop.
And yet Kyle just sat there, thumbing through the "Details" magazine he found on the desk. When Riley returned with two Coca-Cola cans, Kyle looked at the one handed to him. It was sealed... but would he notice an injection mark? He didn't even think he knew what to look for.
"How about some music?" Kyle asked.
"Sure," Riley said, going over to his small stereo. Kyle noticed that he took his own can with him. "What are you into?"
"Whatever," Kyle said. "I'm easy." He went over and, as Riley crouched to thumb through his CDs, Kyle switched their cans. He didn't know why he did it; it was just silliness, and he smiled to himself as he popped the tab.
"How about The Verve?" Riley suggested.
"Great," Kyle said. He returned to the desk chair as Riley cued up the CD and sat on his bed. They lapsed into the companionable silence again as they listened to the songs, each slipping into his own thoughts.
Kyle hadn't heard this CD before - he only knew the one song - but he bet Max would like it. Yeah, isn't it, though? he mused, listening to the chorus of that song: "It's a bittersweet symphony, this life." The more he thought about Max, the more he *allowed* himself to think about Max, the more that reckless feeling boiled in his blood. Kyle hadn't talked about it with anyone, not even his dad. He didn't know what it was about a stranger that made it easier to talk. A stranger, or a drink. He recalled last Valentine's with Max, Max saying, "The real Max Evans is about to come out."
"Is he gay?" Kyle had asked, joking. It had all seemed so funny then, but maybe Max had had that reckless feeling as he started talking to Kyle. But maybe he hadn't really been joking. And while the secret of the real Max was that Max was an alien... maybe that wasn't the whole story. Maybe the secret inside the secret, the secret that Max was keeping from everyone, was that the real Max *was,* in fact, gay.
I'm in love with a gay alien. Kyle experimentally tried the thought on for size.
At least, I hope he is, he added after a moment. What if... what if Max weren't gay? But Kyle had felt things when Max touched him... and Max must have felt them, too...
The real Kyle Valenti was about to come out. And he wasn't an alien.
"Have you ever been attracted to a guy?" he suddenly asked.
Riley looked at him with a start. "Kyle, I think you're a nice guy and all -"
"What are you talking about?" Kyle asked, brow furrowing.
Clearly embarrassed, Riley tried to turn it back on him. "What are *you* talking about?"
Kyle paused and looked at him, head cocked, eyebrows slightly raised. He tilted his chin and brought it down in a single nod as he said, "I'm talking about Max Evans."
"Who's Max Evans?" Riley asked, and Kyle thought he detected a note of interest in Riley's tone. Interest because he wanted to know more about Max? Because he wanted to know more about the alien boy, or he wanted to know more about Kyle's boy? There was no way of knowing, and suddenly Kyle felt that it didn't really matter. If he was after information, Kyle probably couldn't tell him anything Riley didn't already know; if Riley thought he was crazy, Kyle never had to see him again, anyhow; and if Riley was after something else... well, Kyle would cross that bridge when the toll gate came up.
"I told you about him last night," Kyle said, tilting his Coke back to drain it. He set the empty can down on the desk and crossed over to sit at the foot of the bed. "He's the guy from my hometown, the one who saved my life."
"The one who touched you?" Riley asked with a grin, a little too flippantly.
Kyle nodded seriously. "I got shot. Right here." He pointed to his chest. "It should have killed me. It *would* have killed me. But Max, he," Kyle hesitated, drew a deep breath, and plunged on: "He put his hands on me. I was dying, and he touched me, and his touch healed me. There's not even a scar now." Kyle lifted his shirt briefly to show Riley the lack of a scar, then let it fall back down. "And when he did it,... it, stirred me."
Riley looked blank. "Stirred you?" Kyle moved a little closer and gently placed his hand on the bulge in Riley's jeans. Before he could say anything else, Riley sat up quickly, and probably would have jumped off the bed if Kyle hadn't been in his way. "OK, I get it."
Yeah, you do, don't you? Kyle thought, withdrawing his hand.
"You want me to go now?" Kyle finally asked into the silence that had descended between them.
"No man, we're still cool." Riley stood up then. "You want another Coke?"
"Sure," Kyle said, watching Riley go and settling back to wait for him.
Kyle woke up in his own dorm bed the next morning. He'd stayed up with Riley talking about all sorts of things, and Riley hadn't questioned his sanity once. Riley, it turned out, was a really cool guy. He's let his guard down, too, and Kyle wondered if Riley knew just how much he was really saying, about his girlfriend, about his secret life.... It wasn't all in the words; it was in the looks and the gaps as well. Maybe Riley had that reckless feeling, too.
Sometime around two in the morning, Riley had walked him back to his room.
"See ya," was all Kyle had managed at the dorm door.
"Yeah," had been Riley's reply.
And now it was morning. Late morning, at that. Just enough time to pack and get to the bus station. Which he did.
Going over to his bus, which had just been called, Kyle recognized the footsteps before he heard Riley's voice calling his name. He turned and waited for Riley to catch up.
"Hey, I just wanted to see you off," Riley said with a friendly grin as he pulled up next to Kyle.
"Thanks," Kyle said with a grin of his own. "Don't worry," Kyle assured him then. "Your secret's safe with me. I won't tell anyone."
Riley looked confused. "You won't tell anyone what?"
Kyle hesitated. He didn't know what it was about Riley that made him so hesitant - well, that wasn't true. He knew what it was. He just didn't know how to deal with it. So he fell back on Smart-Ass Kyle. He let his hand brush against Riley's crotch again. "About how you got hard when I touched you." He smiled at Riley as he turned to get on the bus.
He took a window seat and glanced out. Riley was still standing there, looking confused and, frankly, adorable. Kyle sighed. Maybe there was a way to come to terms with this. For the hours it would take to get to Albuquerque he certainly didn't have anything to do but think about Riley and Max, until they stopped at a place with a newsstand.
The engine hummed and the bus moved forward, leaving the Sunnydale station. As Kyle bent over to adjust his bag, he felt a hard edge in the outer pocket and remembered the book he'd bought at The Magic Box. He pulled it out: "Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening." Buddhism? Well, okay, it was better than sitting there thinking about Max and Finn. He turned to the first chapter as the bus started down the road out of Sunnydale.
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