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Redrawing the Lines

Reply to Matthew Haldeman-Time or visit his website

Added to the Roswell Slash Archive November 14, 2000

Redrawing the Lines, the first in a series (part two will come; just wait)
Copyright October 23-28, 2000 by the writer known as Matthew Haldeman-Time
Rating: NC-17 for male-male sexual themes
Pairing: Max Evans/Kyle Valenti
Disclaimer: "Roswell," with its related characters and themes, does not belong to me. I make no money from this venture.
Dedication: This slashfic is for Ewan McGregor.
Wherein Max confesses, kisses, and comes. Notice: This slashfic takes place during/after "Roswell" season one. Pretend that no one (meaning Liz and Kyle) left for the summer. This story is the first in a series. I'd call it pre-slash, except that it's way too slashy.



It started with Agent Pierce.

It started before that. It was hard to pin down the first time that Max even realized what was happening. Maybe after he got drunk, when he sobered up and realized that he'd said things he shouldn't have to Liz and felt things he shouldn't have for Kyle.

But with Agent Pierce, it became real. Because he needed Kyle, and Kyle was there for him, if only in his head. Pierce did things to him, to his mind, to his body. Abused him in ways he'd always feared and in some ways he hadn't even thought to fear.

Men could be raped, too. Public service announcements never covered that. Shouldn't someone have warned him? He'd always been terrified of this, of being caught and tested, but in some ways that was a known fear, a risk that he'd expected he might have to take some day. He'd even wondered, sometimes, what the US government did to suspected aliens. He'd expected to be interrogated, experimented on, and then dissected. He'd never expected to be raped.

While Agent Pierce was doing things to him, he grasped for control, for sanity. He was losing it, losing everything, and he needed an anchor, a rock. And Kyle was there for him.

He couldn't use Michael or Isabel, because he feared for them.

He couldn't use Liz. She was inspirational, but he needed someone strong. He couldn't bring her into this place of ultimate terror and ultimate degradation.

So he reached out, in his mind, to someone reassuringly normal, to someone strong, to someone who saw reality and the world clearly. He went for blue eyes and round muscles and someone just happy to be nominated.

When Pierce used the virtual reality visor on him, and he shouted in horror at images of Liz, he was glad that Pierce hadn't shown him Kyle, too. Because Kyle was what he clung to for hours and hours afterward, even when the torture ended, even when they were on their escape. Kyle was his anchor. Kyle was his rock.

And somehow...was it his confusion? His love for Liz and his preoccupation with Kyle and his abuse from Pierce and his visions of Kyle as his anchor...his savior...became hopelessly entangled. And when he found himself running from his own government, hiding in abandoned cars, he said things to Liz and he knew that he meant them but all he wanted to do was go to find Kyle, say those things to Kyle, hold onto Kyle and never let go.

Michael and Sheriff Valenti came and carried them off; and he was too stunned, there was too much, for him to say anything at all, so he just sat in the back with Liz. But somewhere in his mind he was thinking, "That's Kyle's father. That's Kyle dad." And he wanted to ask the sheriff questions, or maybe just say, "Thank you."

He had to go to Kyle's house, later. Get rid of the agent there. And while he was there he got to see Kyle, got to be close to Kyle, got to hear Kyle's voice. Kyle was confused and angry, and so was he, and he knew that if he could burrow into Kyle's embrace, into Kyle's skin, he wouldn't feel that way anymore. But there wasn't time. And he didn't know how to try.

Then Michael killed Pierce. And Sheriff Valenti shot Kyle. And Kyle almost died. And it was up to Max to save him. So Max saved him. Knelt down by that dying, dying body, put his hand to Kyle's wound, and felt...desperate. Desperation didn't work. So he did what Kyle would do; he got determined. He was going to save Kyle's life and that was all there was to it. And that worked. Kyle was alive, and afraid, and warm.

Then Max found out that he was supposed to be the savior, after all. He was a leader and a hero. A leader and a hero who'd found his strength from a high school basketball player from small town America.

Then Liz left him.

And he was supposed to be upset. He was upset. He was very upset. They'd shared so much, gone through so much, how could she leave him now? But part of him reminded the rest of him that she hadn't been there for him. He'd needed someone to raise him out of the hell of Pierce's lab, and she hadn't been there for him.

Was that her fault?

Maybe not. But it was true anyway.

Liz was wrapped up in her own world. She acted as though she were living in her own TV soap opera. But Max had his own problems, and trying to live in her world at the same time was too much for him. She asked for more than he had to give. And he was asking for more than she had to give. Was there anyone strong enough, grounded enough, selfless enough to be all that he needed?

Maybe with blue eyes, too?

He had nightmares. About Pierce. About the lab. About being tortured and terrified and traumatized. After the first few times he awakened, in the middle of the night, with his heart beating too fast and his mind screaming for help, he figured out what to do. He got dressed, and he crawled out through his window - - everyone else used it to come in, why couldn't he use it to leave? - - and walked through Roswell. Walked to the Valenti home. Went to the window. Watched Kyle sleep. And then his heart stopped pounding, and his mind quieted, and he could breathe again.

Kyle was so...normal. He was everything that Max wasn't, had everything that Max didn't.

Including a 0 on the Kinsey scale.

He'd been held by Pierce, an agent of the United States government, for hours on end of torture and trauma. His parents, of course, had no idea. His best friends knew, but...he just couldn't help but think that they expected him to get over it. Accept it. He was their fearless leader, and they'd been through a lot this year, so he should just consider it another plot point. He tried. But the nightmares kept coming, and he couldn't look at himself in the mirror anymore.

He tried to masturbate once. He used to do it all of the time - - hey, he had a human body with a regular teenaged male's hormones. He used to think about Liz, which always made him feel guilty. When he tried again, after Pierce, his mind didn't go anywhere near Liz, or anywhere near Tess; it zoomed straight to Kyle's house and Kyle's room and Kyle's bed with Kyle in it, except that this Kyle wasn't asleep like the one he usually saw, this Kyle was awake, and naked, and looking at him. Waiting for him. And then Pierce was there and his body twisted and his dick failed and his mind screamed, "No, Kyle!" as though he were being ripped away from the most cherished thing in his life.

What was he supposed to do? Ask his parents to put him in therapy? Invent some problem so his parents would think that he was disturbed about something - - he might be able to do that, since he felt so guilty about lying to them about other stuff already that one more thing didn't make a difference at this point. But then he'd have to tell the therapist something. "I've been raped" was about all he could offer. He couldn't tell the truth of the circumstances, and he couldn't talk about everything else that was wrong; that he'd been tortured, that he was scared, that he didn't know what to do.

He should talk to someone who knew the truth.

Michael. Isabel. Tess. Liz. Maria. Alex. Sheriff Valenti.

Kyle.

He couldn't talk to any of them. Michael and Isabel and Tess had their own problems, and they didn't need to know just yet that their fearless leader was off his rocker. Liz was out immediately. Maria and Alex were Liz's friends, and Michael had broken up with Maria anyway, and Alex would feel compelled to tell Isabel everything.

Could he tell the sheriff?

He walked to the sheriff's house and rang the doorbell and wanted to leave. But he'd promised himself that he'd do it, promised himself, sworn that he'd go through with it. He'd come before, but the sheriff's truck had been gone, so he'd chickened out and gone away again. But this time the truck was there, and he was there, and the doorbell was there, so he'd stay.

The door opened.

And it wasn't the sheriff at all, it was Kyle.

And he was crying, he knew that he was crying, his eyes hurt and his face was wet and his nose was starting to run and he never cried, he never cried, guys didn't cry, fearless leaders didn't cry, there was so much to cry about that he'd always suspected that if he started he'd never stop. But he was crying, right then and there.

"You okay, Evans?"

"No," he said, and his voice sounded like he was crying, too, so he must be.

"Don't just stand there," Kyle said, and pulled him into the house, closing the door. "Dad, one of your aliens is here," Kyle called. "Come on, you might as well sit down or something. Evans. Sit." He was pushed onto the sofa. "There you go. Here," and Kyle handed him a tissue. He closed his fingers around it and started to cry harder. "Oh hell," and Kyle was sitting beside him, sideways on the sofa, knee pressing into his thigh, arm around his shoulders. He sank against Kyle, leaning in sideways, his head on Kyle's right shoulder, his hand on Kyle's left shoulder and still clutching the tissue. Kyle's other arm came around him, too.

"Max?" The sheriff's voice.

"Your alien king is falling to pieces all over my shirt, Dad."

"They're not my aliens," the sheriff said. "Looks like he's your alien right now anyway."

"That's very funny. See me laughing?"

"Max. Max, what happened? What's wrong?" The sheriff was closer now, sitting on the low coffee table, a hand on Max's knee.

Max wrapped his arms around Kyle tighter, turning his face into Kyle's shoulder. "Woah," Kyle said. "Okay, that's cool, keep crying, human as pillow and Kleenex all in one."

"Max, I'm going to call Isabel."

"No," he said, but it came out funny, stopped up with tears and snot, muffled against Kyle's shirt.

"Can I call Michael?"

"No."

"Is anyone in danger?"

"Yeah, because if you all need to take immediate action, this isn't the way to go about it," Kyle said. Max held on tighter. Kyle sighed, the sigh of the put-upon, and then Kyle's embrace tightened too, and Max was being held safe and secure by strong warm solid Kyle. It felt so good he stopped crying. "There now, you feel better?" Kyle asked. "Good boy. Good alien. Go buy me a new shirt."

"Kyle," the sheriff said.

"Yeah, yeah. Can you hand him another tissue? Max, you do know what to do with one of those, don't you? Squeezing a Kleenex tight in your hand isn't going to keep the snot off of me."

A tissue was pressed into Max's right hand, the first pried free. He wiped off his face, then dropped the tissue and turned his face into Kyle's neck. Kyle was warm, and Kyle's skin was smooth and soft as silk, and Kyle smelled good.

"Dad, I think that your favorite Martian is getting fresh with me."

"Max. Max, can you tell me what happened? What's wrong?"

"Pierce," he said, resting his temple on Kyle's shoulder, eyes closed, relaxing.

"Pierce. Alien hunter guy," Kyle said. "The one Michael killed. The one that Nasedo guy's pretending to be."

"Right," the sheriff said. "What about him, Max?"

"He hurt me."

"When he captured you? Max, what did he do? Max. How did he hurt you?"

"What did they do to him?" Kyle asked.

"They wanted to test him, experiment, make him tell them things he didn't know. Max. What happened? How did Pierce hurt you?"

"Raped me."

The room was still and quiet.

A hand on his knee. Slowly, "Max. Open your eyes. Look at me."

"Don't make him," Kyle said, and Kyle's cheek rested against the top of Max's head briefly. Max's fingers tightened on Kyle's shoulder in response.

"Max. Agent Pierce raped you."

"Yes."

"When he captured you and was...torturing you."

"Yes."

"Have you told anyone?"

"No."

"No one?"

"Nobody. There's nobody I can tell."

"Did he do it once?"

"Twice."

"Fuck," Kyle said softly. Max was in his arms, head on his shoulder, shoulder in his chest, hip on his knee, eyes closed, holding on, safe now, safe here.

"Max, I... God, I can't report this. I can't even tell your parents," the sheriff said.

"What do you want us to do, Max?" Kyle asked.

"You've been carrying this around all alone all of this time?" the sheriff asked. "Max, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. That bastard." Max felt the sheriff move away, heard him walking around the room. Pacing out his frustrations, probably. Max's right hand slid in from Kyle's shoulder closer to Kyle's neck, moving from cotton to flesh. So warm. Liz was a small person, short and thin with small bones. Kyle was warm, solid, secure, like...like...like something...something strong and real and stable...something... The sheriff gave a bitter, unhappy bark of laughter. "I can't do any of what I normally do with rape victims. I can't send you to crisis centers or clinics, I can't recommend therapy, personal or group. I can't - - Max, do you know anything about how your biology compares with ours?"

"I don't think he's pregnant, Dad. Oh, right. Max. Max. Evans."

"Mmm."

"Was Pierce wearing a condom?" Kyle asked.

"No. No," Max said.

"Can aliens get human STDs?" Kyle asked.

"I don't think so. We don't get sick," Max said. So good here. So right. Felt like home. Kyle would keep him safe.

"Are you sure?" Kyle asked.

"How could he get tested?" the sheriff asked. "They'd know immediately that he wasn't normal. Getting tested could put him at greater risk."

"What if he has AIDS or herpes or-"

"We'll have to find out whether Pierce was clean."

"You can do that?" Kyle asked.

"I'm going to," the sheriff said. "First thing tomorrow."

"And in the meantime?"

"Food."

"So you did learn something from Grandma."

"I did. I'll go make some sandwiches. You two stay put."

"Not a problem," Kyle said, in a typical ironic Kyle tone that made Max want to smile. The sheriff left them for the kitchen, presumably. "I can't even reach the remote," Kyle said. "Hey. Max. Max. Evans."

"Mm."

"I'm sorry. I'm still a little freaked out by the whole alien thing, but...I'm sorry. That shouldn't happen to anybody. I know that sounds really lame, but...I'm sorry. Can I, like, do something?"

"Don't let go."

"I just had to get up and answer the door," Kyle said. "Couldn't sit on my lazy butt and make Dad do it. Just had to be the one to get a lapful of Max Evans."

"Lucky you."

"Oh, now you're talkative." After that comment, of course, they were quiet. Max rested, and Kyle held him, and then the sheriff brought in sandwiches. Max opened his eyes for that but didn't move away from Kyle. He simply stayed where he was, only bringing his hand from Kyle's shoulder to hold his sandwich. Kyle sighed the sigh of the put-upon once more, then ate with his arm resting on Max's shoulder for convenience.

"Max. Do you want to stay here tonight?" the sheriff asked.

"Yes, please." He raised his eyes to the sheriff's face for the first time. The sheriff looked so understanding and compassionate and worried that he lowered his gaze again.

"I knew he was going to say that," Kyle said.

"I'll call Michael. He can tell your folks that you're staying with him."

"Don't let him come over," Max said.

"If you're sure that you're not ready to see him, I won't let him in. And I won't tell him what happened. You think about telling him yourself."

"Let me guess," Kyle said. "Alien boy gets my bed and I get the sofa."

"If you don't mind," the sheriff said.

"Oh, no, not at all," Kyle said.

"I'll go call Michael."

"We'll still be here when you get back." The sheriff's boots walked out of the room. "Max, could you move at all? It's getting hard to breathe. Oh, god, so totally not what I meant. Oh. God. You're a lot heavier than you look. Hold on, that's - - okay, I guess that's better. Depending on how you define 'better.' Are all aliens this friendly?" They sat in silence. Max could hear the sheriff's voice from another room. Then the boots returned. "Don't say a word."

"Michael's worried. He's coming over in the morning; I can head him off then if you still don't want to see him."

"If I'm not going to be let up any time soon, could you hand me the remote? Please?"

"Mind if I watch with you?"

"There's plenty of room for you now that we're doubling up to save on couch space."

"What's on?" the sheriff asked, turning on the TV, sitting beside them.

"Nothing good."

"Chicago?"

"You want to watch that?"

"Philadelphia?"

"Try the Cartoon Network."

"If you say so. As long as Max doesn't spread the word and ruin my reputation in this town."

"You should be worried that he'll tell people you wanted to watch the American League."

There were a few minutes of trading sports insults, then a quiet calm punctuated by trivial commentary. Max rested and relaxed. He was tired of thinking and tired of hurting. His brain had shut down and he was grateful for the peace that it afforded. Now he could close his eyes and let Kyle hold him and feel soothed at last. No more pain. Not here. Nothing could touch him now. No one but Kyle.

Kyle shifted Max's weight once, and Max allowed himself to be moved. When Kyle's fingers smoothed his hair, he held still and quiet. The repetitive petting comforted him.

"I'm too old for this wild life," the sheriff announced. "I'm going to turn in. I'll set out a toothbrush for you, Max. Kyle." Max could swear that the the sheriff kissed the top of Kyle's head. Well, considering that Kyle had come within a heartbeat of death recently, he wasn't surprised.

"Night, Dad," Kyle said. He flipped through some channels, then turned off the television. "What do you say we...there's no way I can say that without sounding weird. Let's not finish that sentence. Try again. So. Evans. Will you be leaving this sofa any time soon? Because I probably could fall asleep like this, but I'd like to go to the bathroom at some point. There you go - - god, my legs. You're not nearly as skinny as you look, Evans. Okay, bathroom that way, my room's to the right."

Kyle's room.

Kyle's bed.

It smelled like Kyle.

But it was missing something.

It was missing Kyle.

"Oh, god, holy shit, Evans. No. No. No. No. You cannot...oh god. Okay. How about this? It would be a lot more comfortable in the bed. That sounded wrong. There's more room on the bed. Okay? Unless you've developed a particular attachment to this sofa. Okay. Going to the bedroom. I'm going to kill my dad for getting me into this. These are his aliens, he should be the one baby-sitting them." Kyle dropped onto the bed and rolled to the other side. "Oh god, Evans. I know you saved my life and everything, and I've been meaning to thank you for it, but Hallmark doesn't make cards for that - - I mean, I'm grateful, but I'm not this grateful. Okay? Oh, never mind. At least let me - - is that better? You...oh, god. If anyone ever finds out about this I am so dead. My father owes me for this, he so owes me for this. Just don't let your hands wander."

Max's eyes opened.

Shit.

He rolled out of the bed and pulled on his clothes and visited the bathroom. Then he found Kyle in the kitchen.

"Hey." Kyle's eyes were wary.

"Hey."

"My dad went in to the office. Your friend Michael Guerin was here. He wants you to go to the Crashdown, or else he's going to come back here and commit acts of violence. There's cereal in the cupboard and frozen waffles in the freezer."

"I'm sorry. About last night."

"Yeah. Listen. I don't know if there's some handbook on how to deal with an alien who saves your life and then tells you he was...raped. Twice. By some insane evil government agent who was doing...yeah. Anyway. So I want you to know that I thank you for saving my life. And I'm sorry, I am very sorry, that this happened to you. I don't know how to deal with that, I don't know what to say about it. If you want to talk about it, obviously I'm not a big help, but...I'm here. For whatever good that does you."

"Thank you."

"Look, I made you cry two days in a row. Here." Kyle rose and handed him a tissue plucked from the counter. "Are you going to tell...your folks, I guess not, but Michael? Your sister?"

"I can't."

"I think you should. Michael killed Pierce, didn't he? Now he'll know beyond a doubt that that killing was justified. Alleviate some of his guilt."

"They need me to be strong."

"You're having a complete mental breakdown. They're going to notice. They might like to know why. I thought that they were your own personal friends and family unit. Won't they support you? Won't they want to help you?"

"I can't."

"It's great that you told my dad. He really wants to help. But your situation isn't exactly normal. I don't know how much he can do for you."

"He's helped. You helped. I should go to the Crashdown to see Michael."

"You can't take two breaths without tears running down your face, you're wearing yesterday's clothes, you look terrible. Just sit down and eat something. I'll unfreeze some waffles for you or something. Sit. Down. Evans. Have a tissue. Have a whole box."

Max slipped back into his house to shower and change clothes, then drove to the Crashdown. Michael and Isabel were sitting in the usual booth, waiting impatiently. Isabel slipped out of the booth to give him a hug. "What happened? Michael said that you were staying at Sheriff Valenti's house? And then he wouldn't let Michael in to see you?"

"What's going on, Maxwell?" Michael asked.

Max guided them back into the booth. Lowering his voice, he said, "I'm having problems. It's personal. I went to the sheriff for help."

"If you're in trouble you should be coming to us," Michael said.

"What's wrong? What is it?" Isabel asked.

"It's about Pierce. When he...when I was with him. What he did to me."

"You never talk about that," Isabel said.

"What did he do? Are you okay?" Michael asked.

"No, I'm not okay," Max said. "I haven't been okay. And what am I supposed to do, find a trauma center or, I don't know, POW hotline? I didn't want to tell you, you have enough to deal with already. We've all been through a lot."

"You've been through a lot," Isabel said. "We're here for you, Max. You can come to us."

"I'm just...I can't talk about it. Not now. Not with you."

"Then when? With whom?" Michael asked.

Max took a moment to register Michael's correct grammar. "I don't know. I'm not ready."

"We're here for you," Isabel said. "When you are."

"Always," Michael said.

The following afternoon, the phone rang at home. Max, in the kitchen, reached for the receiver. "Hello?"

"Max, this is Jim Valenti. Can you stop by my house in about an hour?"

"Sure, Sheriff."

"Max. You holding up okay?"

"I'm fine. I'll be there." He hung up the phone and slid to the floor.

When he got to the Valenti house, the driveway held Kyle's car alone. Max sat on the curb and held onto his knees.

Ten minutes passed.

"Hey." Kyle's voice behind him; he didn't turn to look. "You want to come inside?" He maintained his silence. "Okay." Kyle sat down beside him. He felt Kyle's warmth. "So. Come here often? Evans. You okay? My dad called, said you were coming over. I don't think it's anything bad. He just didn't want to drag your personal business through the station."

"Do you masturbate?"

"Do I what?"

"I can't anymore."

Silence. "You mean because of Pierce."

"I can't control my own body. I can't tell it what to do. It has its own reactions."

"Control. Because rape is about control and power. You lost control. Right. So you have to get back control of your own life, your own body. You decide what happens to you."

"Are you taking psychology?"

"There's a...thing I read. A site. On the internet. About rape victims. Are you not looking at me for a reason? Not that you have to. You can't...at all? Wow. I never thought about...I mean, you have the same body parts we do, right? So it all works the same. It's not green or anything."

"Yours isn't green?"

"You're trying too hard, Evans. Relax."

He closed his eyes, counted to ten, opened his eyes. "I have all of the same body parts you do. They work just the same. How do you know what to say to me?"

"I don't."

"But you...you do. You've been saying just the right thing at just the right time with just the right tone."

"I have? Wow. I've felt like an idiot incompetent jerk this whole time. You want to come in the house?"

"Okay."

"How far...this is none of my business. Did you and Liz?"

"No."

"No?" Kyle let them into the house, closed the door again. "You were...a virgin?"

"Yes." He kept his gaze averted as they stood there in the entryway.

"And you're not with anyone right now? I mean, you and Liz don't seem to be together anymore. Tess?"

"Nobody."

"So there's nobody who can...help you get over those sexual hurdles. It's...god, I'm actually having this conversation. I...rape victims usually have problems. With sex. Afterward. Like you. Body issues and touching issues. So their partners walk this fine line of patience and understanding and encouragement. And if you had...if you were with Liz, she could help you. Get back on track."

"Just me and my right hand."

"Been there, done that."

"You're not a virgin, are you?"

"Me? No. I'm a man now. Got hair on my chest and everything. But don't tell my dad."

"You have hair on your chest?"

Kyle's eyes did that quick back-and-forth thing they did when Kyle was puzzled. "Yeah. It's not a forest or anything. Actually it's mostly just enough to show how little there is. So it's sort of embarrassing and worthless. The guys in the locker room - - you've been there."

"Yeah." He and Michael had hit puberty before the other guys in their class. Kyle had been in stride with them, though, because Kyle was a year older than everyone else, having been sent to first grade a year late. So their bodies were more mature than the others'. Which worked well for impressing girls, actually.

The front door opened. "Good. You're here."

"You want me to stay or go?" Kyle asked.

"That's up to Max."

"Stay," Max said.

"I did some checking," the sheriff said. "I started with Pierce's medical records. He was tested regularly and it always turned up clean. So even if you are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, you shouldn't have gotten any from him."

"Thank you, sheriff."

"I assume you know that if you are sexually active yourself, you'll need-"

"You're giving him a safe sex lecture?" Kyle asked. "Dad. Come on."

"I know that you were involved with Liz. You may become involved with someone else. You have to make your decisions and be prepared ahead of time before the moment comes."

"I understand," Max said. "It won't be a problem."

"Is there anything else I can do?" the sheriff asked. "Anything at all."

"No. Thank you."

"Have you spoken with Michael or Isabel?"

"I told them some of it. I'm not ready to share all of it, and I'd appreciate-"

"My mouth is shut."

"Mine too," Kyle said.

"Thank you." Max looked from one to the other and back again. "Thank you."

"If you need anything. Anything at all," the sheriff said.

"I appreciate it," Max said.

"You want to stay?" Kyle asked. "I know he's just leaving again to go back to work. I can order pizza. Dad wants me to bond with his aliens anyway."

"They're not my aliens, Kyle," the sheriff said.

"I should... I... I could...stay. I have to call my parents."

"Wow, what's that like, having parents to call?" Kyle asked.

"Kyle," the sheriff said.

"You call your parents, then I'll call for pizza. Dad? You want to fork over bonding-with-the-aliens money?"

The sheriff pulled out his wallet and put some money into Kyle's hand. "I'll be home by ten."

"Where have I heard that one before?"

"Max, you're welcome to spend the night. Kyle, be good." The sheriff left.

"Be good," Kyle repeated. "Be good. Want to get drunk?"

"No."

"Come on."

"No."

"Alcohol and aliens don't mix? You were pretty trashed last time. Okay, forget it. Go call your parents."

He went to call his parents. When he hung up the phone, Kyle handed him a soda and popped open a can of beer.

"Kyle."

"I'm not an alien." Kyle took a swig. "What do you like on pizza? And don't tell me tabasco sauce."

"You know about tabasco sauce?"

"The sweet and spicy thing. Maria told me. Except she made it sound like she was talking about sex. And since my dad's already doing her mom, I don't need to think about Maria and sex at the same time."

"How many...times. Girls. Times."

"Times girls times what? You mean me and sex? I've had sex. More than once. More than one girl. That still doesn't tell me what you like on your pizza."

"Anything's fine."

"I'll make you regret that." Kyle took a drink, then picked up the phone and dialed from memory. "Hey, yeah, this is Kyle Valenti. Right. Mm-hmm. Thanks." He hung up the phone. "Now we wait."

"You didn't order."

"Don't need to, by now. So. What were we talking about? Me and sex. Sex and I. Whatever, you're the brain here. I've had sex. I've never had a blow job."

"Really."

"I don't know if it's me or the girls in Roswell. I'm guessing you never..."

"Oh, no."

"Kind of sucks. Or, I guess not. Anyway. See, I'm trying to see you as Max Evans, person, just a guy, that sort of thing. But you're an alien and you've been raped and I don't know what to do with you. What do we talk about?"

"Anything you want."

So they did. They talked. They sat in the kitchen and talked, they sat on the living room sofa and talked, they ate pizza and talked, they watched TV and talked. Kyle had three beers. Max had one.

"You sure you want to be drinking that?"

"Yes."

"I know you're not really... If it screws with your system, I mean..."

"I'm a big boy now, Kyle."

"Just one."

"Just one," he promised.

"Okay," Kyle said warily. "Take it slow, okay?" The phone rang. Kyle checked his watch. "Right on time, Daddy-O."

Max took a drink. Gross. "Daddy-O?" He tried again. Still gross.

"I'm buzzing here, Evans. Give me a break. Give me the phone."

Mm, still gross. "Which phone?"

"You're not wasted already, are you? Note to self, aliens really can't hold their liquor." Kyle took the phone from the coffee table and stood, shaking his head to clear it, presumably. "Hello, Valenti residence. Dad. He's fine. Picked all of the olives off the pizza, but... Yeah. Yeah. No, that's okay. Yeah, I think so. No. No, Dad. Okay. See you tomorrow." He dropped the phone. "Evans, what the fuck are you doing?"

Max continued to rub his forehead on Kyle's shoulder, smiling. He held his hand over said shoulder, then turned his beer can upside down. "Empty."

"Shit. What happened to slow?"

"Didn't taste good."

"It's beer. It's not supposed to. Shit."

"He's not coming back?"

"He's off to screw Maria's mom. Which is good, since I don't need him coming home and finding out I got his pet alien drunk."

"Not his pet alien."

"Right, I forgot."

"Your pet alien."

"Can I turn around or will you fall over?"

"Won't fall. You'll catch me."

"I am never letting you drink again." Kyle turned slowly, one hand on Max's waist to steady him. "You okay there? You need to sit down?"

There were about four Kyles swimming in Max's vision. He leaned in until his forehead was touching the forehead of another. That was the real Kyle.

"If you throw up on me-" His lips met Kyle's for one brief second before a supernova exploded behind his eyelids. He fell on his butt on the floor. "What the fuck was that?!" Kyle asked, voice up a few notches in the register.

"Oh."

"Oh?!" Kyle repeated in disbelief.

"You made me hard."

"I made you...shit, Evans." Kyle dropped to the floor, too, although a little more gracefully controlled than Max had. "What did you just do?"

"I kissed you."

"Why?"

"I wanted to."

"And the...that thing? What was that thing?"

"You saw that?"

"What was it?"

"Supernova."

"Oh, of course. Yeah."

"You made me hard. I haven't been hard since..."

"You are not jerking off in my living room! Stop touching that! Jesus Christ, Evans!"

He dropped to his back, one hand riding the bulge at his fly. "It's been so long, I wanted it so much, but I couldn't, it hurt, I tried and I got so scared, it's been so long..."

"Right. Okay. Can you let go of that for a minute?"

"Feels so good..."

"Evans. Stop it."

He stopped, letting his hand rest on his chest instead.

"Okay. So you were raped, and now you can't jack off anymore, and now here's your chance. But it is not happening on the floor in my living room."

"Bedroom."

"No no no. Not the bedroom. You're not doing that in my room. Hell, that's where I do it. You can use the bathroom."

"You don't do it in the shower?"

"Wastes water. Come on. Go in the bathroom, do whatever, and make it quick, okay? And I'll just forget the whole interstellar experience that preceded this blessed event."

Max laughed.

"Yeah, yeah, get moving. You can stand, can't you? Come on." Kyle pulled and pushed until he was on his feet again. "Bathroom. Go."

"Come with me," he said, still leaning on Kyle.

"No. Evans, I should have kicked your ass and sent you home ages ago. But I'm drawing the line here."

"Kyle." He'd seen something new.

"What?"

"Kyle."

"What?!"

He looked into Kyle's eyes, surprised. "You're hard, too."

"I think you did something to me."

"The supernova."

"Right."

"It felt good."

"The electric shock in my body wasn't bad."

"It went the whole way down my spine."

"So can you go to the bathroom now?"

"Come with me."

"I'm not coming with you or coming with you or - - god, just go."

"I can help."

"Help? You want me to kick your ass and send you home now?"

He rested his forehead on Kyle's. "I want to touch you." He reached up; Kyle caught his hands.

"Evans." Kyle shifted away a little, so he stopped trying to get closer. "I want whatever part of your brain is still Max Evans to pay attention here. Is this a rape victim thing or a drunk thing or a Max thing?"

"Yes. Yes. Yes."

"You want to touch me."

"Yes. All three Maxes want you. All four."

"Four?"

"Alien Max too."

"He was behind that supernova?"

"Yes."

"You know I'm straight."

"I can make you feel good."

"I'm being seduced by a drunk, horny alien. Can you just go in the bathroom and get off?"

"Let me touch you."

"Touch me where?

"Everywhere."

"I wish I weren't drunk. I really wish you weren't drunk."

"Tell me I can."

"You can what?"

"Touch you."

"Just go to the bathroom and take care of business. Go. Evans, go. I'll clean up this mess out here. You can touch yourself but you're not touching me."

"Kyle..."

"Go." Kyle released his hands, pushing him, turning away from him. He swallowed and went to the bathroom, turned on the light, closed the door. Turned off the light, opened his jeans, put his hand down inside his boxers.

Fifteen minutes passed.

Knock on the door. "Evans. Evans. Don't make me come in there. Evans." The door opened. "Shit. What happened?"

"I can't," Max whispered, tears spilling down his cheeks, looking up at Kyle from the floor.

"What's wrong? It doesn't work?"

"I can't do it, it hurts too much, I can't."

Kyle crouched before him, held onto him. He clutched at Kyle's back and shoulders, pressing his face into Kyle's bicep. "It's okay," Kyle said. "It's okay."

"I want to, I want to."

"I know you do."

"Let me kiss you again."

"No."

"It felt good. It made me hard. I want to feel good. I want to try again."

"No."

"Please. Kyle, please."

"No."

He turned his head and ducked in and his lips met Kyle's. Immediately upon contact Kyle jerked back and Max dropped back onto the floor. His back arched. "Oh, Kyle," while Kyle shouted, "Shit, Evans!" He sucked in air while the tremors passed through his body. Kyle was sitting up, kneeling astride his hips; he could see how upset Kyle was, and how hard.

"I am not your personal blow-up doll!"

"Don't go," he panted.

"Why the fuck not?!"

"I want to come. Please. Please, Kyle, please, let me come."

"Oh my god," Kyle said. "You want me to sit here and watch you jack off?"

"It'll be quick."

Kyle got up and sat on the edge of the tub, elbows on knees, face in hands. "Just do it."

He sat up slowly, then rolled to his knees. He closed his eyes, opening his jeans. He reached down inside his boxers.

"No!" He gripped the slick edge of the tub. "No!" He grimaced, twisting away - - and then Kyle's hand was over his on the tub.

"Chill, Evans. Come on."

He gasped for breath, eyes opening. Kyle looked into his eyes reassuringly. His hand turned; their fingers laced.

"Whatever bad shit's happening in your head isn't real. It's just you and my bathroom. You and me in my bathroom, but let's forget about me being here."

He closed his eyes, concentrating on Kyle's hand in his. Kyle. Kyle. "I can't."

"You're not even trying. Not that I'm looking down there, but you've got one hand here and one hand there and none where you need it. It might help you to jerk off if you actually touch yourself."

He shook his head. "I can't." He opened his eyes and kissed Kyle.

"Shit! You gotta stop doing that! God."

Eyes wide, panting. "It worked."

"Congratulations. Now jack off and let's get out of here."

"What if I ruin it again?"

"You can try it again tomorrow. You don't have to do it tonight if you're not ready."

"But I want to."

"Then do it."

"Can I..."

"I haven't really been able to say no yet, so I don't know why either of us thinks I'd start now."

"Then can I?"

"Great, I'm giving him ideas. Look. We'll pretend that this is a few minutes in another world. I'll just sit here and pretend that none of this is happening, and you do whatever you have to do."

"Can you sit down here?"

"What are you going to do to me?"

"Please?"

"God. I hope I'm still drunk." Kyle slid down and sat on the floor. "Okay?"

Max released Kyle's hand and tugged aside one of Kyle's knees, coming to sit in the vee of Kyle's thighs, his back against Kyle's chest, slumping down a little. He managed to avoid coming into contact with Kyle's erection, though he'd seen it behind Kyle's jeans. He rested his head back on Kyle's chest, listening to Kyle's heartbeat, and reached up and back with one hand, sliding his hand down over soft thick silky hair before resting on the back of Kyle's neck. Then he reached down into his boxers. Pulled his erection free. Closed his eyes, turning his head aside, fingers sliding over the silky smooth skin of the back of Kyle's neck, up into short hairs, while his other hand curled around his cock. Kyle and heat and Kyle and silk and Kyle and pulse and Kyle and slick and Kyle and he came, arching slightly, moaning, shuddering, whispering Kyle's name again and again.

He sagged. He'd done it. He'd done it.

"I did it."

"Congratulations. Can you get up now?"

"Shit."

"That's my line."

He sat up fast and shoved his dick back in his pants and whirled around and stared at Kyle in horror. "I...I...I..."

"Not drunk anymore, are you? There's cum on your chin."

He didn't know what to say. He didn't know what to do. Dying would be good. Disappearing, maybe. Having amnesia. Maybe Kyle could have amnesia. Maybe someone from his home planet would come for him right now and save him the humiliation of knowing that he'd just...he'd just...

"You need a shower. Or a washing machine. Why don't you...clean yourself up and I'll find you something else to wear." Kyle stood and left the bathroom.

Kyle was still hard.

Max had managed to get semen pretty much everywhere. He stripped and cleaned himself up, and Kyle handed him some clothes through the bathroom door. Kyle's clothes, they had to be, T-shirt and sweatpants. He pulled them on and brushed his teeth to rid himself of the taste of beer. He rinsed out his own clothes and slung them over the tub and forced himself to leave the bathroom.

"Go in there," Kyle said, pushing him toward Kyle's bedroom, "and go to sleep. Do not bother me."

"Sorry." He went to Kyle's room, laid down on the bed, and burrowed in, under the covers, seeking out Kyle's scent. He could really use some comfort right now, since obviously he'd gone insane.

He remembered lying in Kyle's bed looking out through the same window he'd formerly used to look in on this very bed. The next thing he knew, he was sitting up and screaming and Kyle was skidding into the room. "Evans!" Kyle's hands on his shoulders. "Evans!"

He sucked in air and blinked and focused.

"Nightmare. Not real."

He held back a scream, gritting his teeth together, and kept his eyes open wide to stop the tears. He curled his hands into fists, wanting nothing more than to reach out and touch. Touch Kyle.

"You want to talk about it? Max, relax, it was a nightmare. Everything's good. Tell me what happened."

"Pierce was raping you right here and I was standing at the window and I couldn't get in and I couldn't stop him and he was-"

"Sshhh," and Kyle's arms were around him, Kyle pulling him in and holding him close. "Sshhh." One hand clasping the back of his head, fingers moving over his hair in a brief caress. "It's okay. Never happened, never going to happen. I'm safe, Pierce is dead."

"I couldn't stop it, I couldn't save you."

"I don't need saving. See? All safe." Kyle's hand rubbed over his back. "It's okay. Sshhh, it's okay. Go ahead, cry all over me, it's an old shirt."

"I couldn't save you."

"It's not your job to save everybody, Evans."

"It is. It is."

"Oh. But those are your people, right? You're not responsible for Earthlings. Outside of your jurisdiction. Except there's that rule that if you save somebody's life you're always responsible for him after that. So it sort of is your job to save me, I guess. But I don't need saving. And I think that you need to stop worrying about everybody else and take care of yourself. Okay? You let the rest of us fend for ourselves. You just concentrate on you. Feel better?"

"Don't leave me," he half-whispered, half-choked against Kyle's shoulder.

"Kiss me and I'm out of here. Lay down. Don't freak out, I'm not going anywhere. Lay down, Evans. Let go of me, Evans."

He settled on his back, looking up at Kyle.

"That's better. I'm just going to change shirts, since you've decided to get this one all wet." Kyle pulled his shirt off over his head. As he stood and reached for another shirt, Max stared.

Kyle. Kyle in boxer shorts and nothing else. Pale skin and smooth strong muscle and all of that bare expanse of flesh. Max wanted to...do things to Kyle. Things that would feel good. Things that would make Kyle feel good. He wanted to make Kyle feel good. He wanted to feel good. He wanted...he wanted...he wanted Kyle. He wanted Kyle to put on clothes so he could undress Kyle, get Kyle naked and-

Kyle pulled on another T-shirt. His soft, thick hair was in slight disarray. He ran his hand over his hair, which made Max want to run a hand over Kyle's hair, too.

Then Kyle sat beside him on the bed in the moonlight, laid down beside him, staring at the ceiling. "Evans."

"Yes?" he asked, lying on his back, gazing at the ceiling too.

"You get that hard-on anywhere near me and I'll cut it off."

"Okay."

"Are all aliens bi or just you?"

"It's probably like people. Some are, some aren't. I didn't used to be."

"What do you mean?"

"I think it's just you."

"Oh, that's great. Blame me. What's going on, anyway? I thought that you and Liz had the romance of the century."

"We're too self-absorbed to be enough for each other."

"You're self-absorbed?"

"I just mean... I have a lot happening in my life. I can't be what she needs me to be, and she can't give me everything I need. I'm an alien, I have people on this planet after me, I have another planet coming after me, I have to save my own planet which I don't even remember... Anyone who's involved with me has to be support me through all of this...stuff...and that's a lot to ask."

"How can you expect anyone to support you if you don't tell anyone what's happening? You were tortured and raped and you keep it all to yourself."

"It would only upset them more."

"You don't trust them."

"I trust them."

Kyle's head turned in his direction, so he turned his head and met Kyle's eyes. "You don't think that they can handle it?"

He looked up at the ceiling again. "I'm not ready to tell them."

"You don't want to talk about it? You're worried they won't like you anymore? You think they'll see you as weak when you're supposed to be their strong leader?"

That hit a little too close to home.

"Why'd you come here? Why'd you come to tell my dad? Because he's an adult? Because he's not an alien, not your follower?"

"Because he's your father. I trust him."

"What's...what's this thing you have?"

"What thing?"

"This thing for me." Max snickered. Kyle rolled to one side and smacked his shoulder. "I'm serious."

Max rolled to his side, too, so that they were facing each other, each propped on an elbow. "You're very strong and very grounded in reality."

Kyle's eyes narrowed. "Okay."

"That...that thing that happens when we kiss-"

"We do not do that."

"That thing that happens when our lips happen to meet for one-tenth of a second," Max amended. "That started to happen with Liz. But it wasn't that intense that fast. Whatever it is that happens between us, it's more powerful."

"Oh good, I'm special. There's nothing happening between us, Evans. You're nuts and I don't know what to do with you. That's it."

"I'll take what I can get."

"So what happened with Liz?"

"She saw things. Sometimes we saw things together. Things from my planet. She saw what must have been some of my memories. It started to happen when we got more...serious."

"You have a hot and heavy makeout session and your girlfriend gets visions?"

"Yeah."

"Wow."

"But when I was with her I didn't get that...physical reaction."

"The hard-on and the lightning bolt down your spine."

"Yeah."

"Hunh."

He lowered his eyes, then met Kyle's gaze again. "It felt good."

"Can't say I disagree," Kyle said, wary. Max wondered what had made Kyle always cautious, always suspicious. Not suspicious, exactly, but...there was a healthy dose of the cynic in Kyle. Whereas Kyle's father shared the infamous motto "I want to believe."

They shared a silence. Max wondered what Kyle was thinking.

"You get nightmares a lot?"

"Every night."

"Every night?" Kyle repeated.

"Not...not when I slept with you."

"Yeah. So what do you do? You just don't sleep?"

Now what? What could he say? He couldn't tell Kyle the complete truth, that he spent hours every night watching Kyle sleep. "I go to sleep, I have a nightmare, I wake up and go for a walk. I go out and get home again before anyone notices I'm gone."

"That sucks."

"Yeah."

"You must be getting no sleep."

"Not very much."

"Evans."

"What?"

"Your entire life sucks."

"No it doesn't."

"Yeah, it really does. Name me one good thing."

"Isabel and Michael."

"That's two things. And you don't trust them, you don't talk to them. Try again."

"My parents."

"Not your real parents, don't even know you're an alien. Try again."

"You're not being fair."

"Life's not fair. What about your life is fair? You can't even name one good thing."

He smiled. "I'm in bed with you for the second night in a row."

"Yeah, but you're not getting any."

"It's good anyway."

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"How can you even want a guy after what that bastard did to you?"

He'd been afraid of the opposite reaction, that people would assume that he wanted a male because of Pierce, as a reaction that would somehow invalidate his feelings for Kyle. He hadn't considered that someone might see it in this light. "It doesn't have anything to do with that. My feelings for you-"

"Whoa. You have feelings?"

"Yes."

"For me?"

"Yes."

"You have feelings for me. Like romantic mushy feelings? It's not just sex?"

"That bothers you?"

"It's sort of weird."

"Why?"

"I'm the only one, right? The only guy."

"Yes." There was a weird pounding in Max's heart. He felt scared, but in an anticipatory way, like the height of a roller coaster. Not that he'd ever been on a roller coaster. Of course, his life was a roller coaster.

"And you have feelings for me."

"Yes."

"And you want to have sex with me."

"Yes."

"Like, real sex?" Kyle looked worried.

"I think so."

"What are these feelings? You like me? You think I'm cute or something?"

"I think that you're the strongest person that I know. I think that you're beautiful. I think that I'm in love with you. I know that I'm obsessed. But I'm not dangerous."

Kyle rolled off of the bed to stand, holding up one hand. "Whoa. Hold it. Wait. Stop right there." Max sat up slowly. "You're in love with me?"

"I think so."

Kyle walked around the room, paced back to his starting point, walked around again, and sat down on the foot of the bed. "You're in love with me. Maybe."

"Maybe."

"How did this start? When did you go insane?"

"I don't know. It was gradual. A lot of it happened when I was with Pierce. But before that, there was the night you got me drunk-"

"You were with Liz then!"

"I know. I felt so guilty for wanting her ex-boyfriend."

"What's this thing about Pierce? You are not telling me that he raped you and now you have a thing for men, because I am not buying that."

"I was terrified. He was torturing my mind and my body both. He did things to me... And I had nothing. No support. No sanity. No control, no power. I couldn't make him stop, and I couldn't help myself. So when he hurt me, I crawled into my mind and I held onto you."

"Why me?"

"You're strong. I knew you'd be there for me."

"I wasn't. I didn't even know what you were then."

"You know now. And you're here for me now."

"Yeah, but...you're giving me credit for all of this stuff and I've never done anything!"

"But when I did come here, you took care of me."

"You came here to see my dad. And what else was I supposed to do?"

"You didn't have to help me. You've been generous and-"

"You can stop there." Kyle scratched his shoulder. "So, what's going on here? You think I'm strong and I can support you for all of this drama in your life? I can be what Liz couldn't?"

"Yes."

"Oh." Kyle hadn't been expecting that answer. "Really?"

"Yes."

"Can I do that and just be your friend? We can be friends, right? I mean, now that neither of us wants Liz anymore, and you saved my life and everything, we can be friends."

"I'd like that."

"Regular friends. Not friends that make each other see stars."

"Okay."

"Okay. Can we get some sleep now?"

"Okay."

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