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Roslove Part One: Max Love

Reply to Matthew Haldeman-Time or visit his website

Added to the Roswell Slash Archive November 14, 2000

Roslove, a slashfic in three parts
Copyright April 30-August 2, 2000 by the writer known as Matthew Haldeman-Time
Rating: NC-17 for graphic male-male sex
Pairing: Kyle Valenti/Max Evans/Michael Guerin (not really a pairing, then, I suppose)
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 takes up finger painting; Michael admits that he's too sexy for his own good; and Kyle puts the "fuck" in "Fucking Max Evans."
Notice: The obvious quotation bookending this slashfic is from William Shakespeare's Hamlet 3.1.  Also, I ripped off the opening story idea from Annie's "The Genesis Series" without her knowledge.




 To die, to sleep...


        Kyle was a jock, yes, but not a dumb jock.  He knew that Liz wasn't in love with him.  He didn't even want her to be in love with him, because he wasn't in love with her.  He just wanted a girlfriend.  Someone smart and pretty and interesting who would spend time with him.  When he wasn't an asshole and she wasn't self-righteous, they were pretty good friends.  But he wasn't in love with her.  So she didn't have to be in love with him.  But he did ask that, as long as she was his girlfriend, she not spend all of her time doing mutual staring with Fucking Max Evans.

        They were pretending to be subtle.  They thought that they were being secretive.  Really, they were blatantly having staring contests and undressing each other with their eyes.  In front of anyone and everyone.  In front of him.  Which he really didn't appreciate.

        If she wanted someone else, he wasn't going to start applauding or anything.  But she could have picked someone else, couldn't she?  Another guy on the team, or someone cool and interesting.  Not the really quiet guy with the gorgeous sister and the loser best friend.  Fucking Max Evans with his silences and his trailer trash friend and his sister with the superiority complex.  Not that Liz had the best taste in friends anyway; really, Alex and Maria?  What was Liz thinking?

        Kyle watched Liz and Fucking Max Evans fuck each other through peripheral vision.  Isabel and Michael looked as fed up with it as he felt, which was no consolation.

        Kyle decided not to watch his girlfriend and Fucking Max Evans pretend not to be watching each other's every move.  He hoped Liz stuck to science; she'd be a lousy spy.  She couldn't be more obvious.  He stood, reaching for his wallet.

        Two men in a booth were arguing.  He went over to pay and tell Liz he was leaving.  He was debating whether he should tell her why he was leaving; maybe he should let her know that her little mutual obsession was being monitored by her boyfriend.  Just as he reached her, her eyes went wide.  He turned to see what was wrong, why she looked really afraid all of a sudden.

        Kyle had felt pain before.  He was a jock, he was active, he'd had his appendix removed, he'd had his impacted wisdom teeth cut out, that sort of thing.  And he was familiar with guns; he went hunting, won awards.  But he'd never felt pain like this.  He'd always been the one shooting; he'd never actually gotten shot.

        His first thought was that his father was going to kill him.

        His second thought was that his basketball career was shot.

        His third thought was that he really had a way with words.

        His fourth thought was that he was about to die, and he was lying in a pool of his own blood in his girlfriend's family's stupid cafe, and he was awfully young and this was an awfully stupid way to die.

        His fifth thought was that he was about to die, and the last thing he would see was Fucking Max Evans' face.

        "Kyle."  A hand on his cheek.  "Kyle, look at me, look right into my eyes."

        "Fucking Max Evans," he said, only he sound different.  Probably blood in the way, in his throat, in his lungs.  Oh god.

        "Kyle."

        He looked, as instructed, right into Fucking Max Evans' eyes.  They were brown, but not standard shit brown like most people's.  Really, they were some sort of liquid melted brown color.  Not gold, darker than gold, but something...

        Max was gone.  He'd missed something.  He'd missed it.  Something was wrong, something was different.

        "Kyle."  Liz was grabbing his hands, pulling him to his feet.

        Wait, people with major gunshot wounds weren't supposed to stand, were they?

        "Kyle," she urged.  "Your father's going to be here any minute.  Are you all right?"

        Was he all right?  He must be; he was standing, wasn't he, not lying dead on the floor.  "Liz?  I'm..."  He put his hand down there, where the wound should be; he was afraid to look.  He pulled his hand away; it was sticky, wet.

        "Ketchup," he said.

        "To cover the blood," she said.  "Kyle, are you all right?"

        "All right?" he asked.  "What the fuck did Fucking Max Evans do to me?"

        "I don't know.  I think that he healed you."

        "Healed me?"

        "He put his hands on...where..."  She swallowed.  Neither of them was looking down where he'd been shot.  And he had been shot, he was sure of it.  "He healed you.  Then he spilled the ketchup on you and ran out of here.  Oh god, Kyle, put on your jacket."

        "What?  Why?"

        "Because the bullet went right through you."

        Which meant that he probably had a hole in his shirt and a bloody mess there, too.  He pulled on his letter jacket and grimaced down at the ketchup mess on his front.

        "Kyle!"

        He spun around to see his father hurrying through the restaurant.  "Dad."

        His father's eyes widened.  "Kyle."

        "Oh, no, Dad, I'm okay," he said.  "Ketchup."

        "Ketchup," his father said.  "You aren't hurt?"

        "I'm fine."

        "Liz."

        "Sheriff Valenti," Liz said.

        "What happened here?"



        Kyle went home as soon as he'd given his father his statement.  He washed his shirt in the sink.  He wanted to save it, but he didn't want to save the ketchup on it.  Sure enough, there were two bullet holes, one in front and one in the back, at an angle.  He took a shower and looked at himself in the mirror.

        There was a handprint on his skin.  Silver.  Just a shade less broad than his hand, fingers a little longer.  Fucking Max Evans' handprint.  Right where the wound had been, where the bullet had entered his body.

        A bullet had entered his body.

        He got a handheld mirror and checked the back, too.  Yes, there, where the exit wound should be, there was another handprint.  He remembered, now, in a sharp, brief flash, Max's hand on him, over the wound, and Max's other hand coming beneath him, behind him.  Right hand on his ribcage, left hand on his back, as he gazed up into Fucking Max Evans' brown eyes.  And now he had silver handprints.  No marks, no scars, certainly no bullet wound.  No blood.  Absolutely nothing to show that he'd been heartbeats away from dying on that ugly tile floor, except for two damning handprints.  Silver.

        What if they never went away?  What if he spent his life like this?  How was he supposed to change clothes in the locker room?  What was he supposed to do, claim that it was a new tattoo?

        His father seemed satisfied with his story, as corroborated by Liz and Maria.  Apparently Liz had said something very quickly and very sternly to Maria, who went wide-eyed and backed up Liz.  Kyle had never lied to his father before.  Not once.  Okay, that sounded ridiculous; how could he have lived sixteen years and never lied to his father?  But he hadn't.  Not about anything small, not about anything big, not about almost dying.

        "Well, Dad, if you'd gotten here two minutes ago you would have seen me lying on the floor bleeding to death with major internal organ damage, but then Fucking Max Evans played Jesus Christ and now I'm fine, so nothing to worry about as long as these handprints fade."

        Nothing like telling a father that his only son had almost been gone for good.

        One of the many questions swirling through Kyle's brain was now, why?  Why did Fucking Max Evans do it?  Clearly the kid had something going on, something that one didn't just talk about in public, something that one kept secret.  Certainly not something that someone revealed intensely to the sheriff's son who didn't like one anyway.  Max had risked a lot, probably risked everything, whatever everything was, to play CBS Sunday night movie.  Why did Max do it?  Some personal moral code?  A chance to impress Liz?

        Maybe that was it.  A chance to impress Liz.  Liz had certainly seemed impressed, and had taken it in stride.  Maybe she'd known beforehand.  Maybe that was why she was so terribly interested in Fucking Max Evans, because she knew that Max could play miracle worker.

        Kyle was grateful, yes.  He wasn't dead.  He wasn't disabled.  He wasn't even scarred.  But he was lying to his father and wearing Fucking Max Evans' brand on his skin, silver burning a reminder.

        Getting shot hurt.  It hurt like a motherfucker.  Fucking Max Evans' brand hurt worse, and there was nothing physical about it.  What was he supposed to do?  Ask Liz?  Tell his father?  Confront Max?  Keep it to himself?  Pretend that nothing had happened?



        An entire week passed.  His father didn't realize that he'd been shot, but his being in the same room as a shooting upset his father anyway, which made him feel better, because his father was supportive and protective of him.  So they talked more that week, and they touched more that week, and they reestablished their connection.

        He saw Liz, but they never spoke, and they didn't interact; they just looked at each other in passing.  Clearly she wanted to say something, to bring up the incident, but he even more clearly did not want to do so, and she was keeping her distance.  For now.

        He didn't see Max.  He'd been aware of Max for a few weeks before the shooting, because he'd been keeping an eye on Liz and Max's interactions, so now he was aware of how missing Max was.  Maybe the guy had left town.  Maybe Max was just hiding out until people stopped talking about the shooting.

        People knew all about the shooting, and they asked Kyle about it, and he told them everything except how he'd actually gotten shot, and how his father had looked desperately afraid for a minute upon seeing him splattered with blood/ketchup.  For a minute, his father had seen his death.  He empathized; he'd felt his death, too.

        Maria kept staring at him, and he ignored her.

        Fucking Max Evans' trailer trash best friend kept lurking around, too.  Popped up at odd times, watching him.  Probably wondering how soon he'd start talking, how soon he'd demand answers, how soon he'd tell people (his father) what really had happened at the Crashdown.

        Well, he wasn't talking, and he wouldn't.

        He went through weird machinations to hide himself from his teammates, and he spent his time acutely aware that he'd had someone else's hands on his body.

        Then, Monday, after that first week, Fucking Max Evans was back in school.  He first saw Max standing by the lockers talking with Liz.  He walked up to them; Max avoided his eyes; Liz said, "Kyle," anxious.  He grabbed Liz' arm and firmly (not roughly) pulled her away from Max, away with him.  "Don't talk to him."

        "Kyle, he-"

        "Don't talk to him," he said, staring down at her, using his size and strength against her.

        "Kyle, Max only wanted to help.  He did help.  He saved your life."

        "Don't talk to him."

        "Won't you talk to him?  At least to thank him?"  But he was already walking away from her.



        Friday night, after the game, he went home and collapsed.  He'd come this close to exposing himself - - his torso, his secret - - to the entire gymnasium packed of fans, townspeople, students, and players.  Not to mention the media, who might be small-town but knew a story when it saw one.  Fortunately, no one had noticed anything; on the court, motion was fast.

        He had to do something to get this brand off of his skin.  And only one person could do it.

        He didn't want to drive over to Fucking Max Evans' house, because everyone in town practically recognized his car on sight, and he didn't want to have to explain why he wasn't out celebrating or at home sleeping but was at Fucking Max Evans' home.  So he pulled his jacket on again and walked.  He was fit, so walking was nothing to him, but his post-game lassitude told him to get to bed.  He walked nonetheless, and rang the Evans' door before he realized how late it was.

        Fucking Max Evans opened the door in boxers and a T-shirt.  "Kyle?"  He sounded astonished.  Afraid.  He looked over his shoulder, turning slightly.  "Dad, it's okay, it's just someone from school."  Max stepped outside, closing the door firmly.  "Kyle?  What do you want?"

        Kyle shed his jacket and lifted the hem of his T-shirt to expose a glimpse of silver.  He dropped his shirt again quickly.  "There's one on my back, too.  Get rid of them."

        "I'm not sure how," Max said honestly.  Then, quietly, "I'm sorry, Kyle, I didn't realize.  May I?"

        He lifted his shirt, higher this time, longer.  Max looked down at his body, one hand reaching forward, fingers trembling.  Max's fingertips grazed his flesh.  Kyle did his very best not to shudder away at the touch.  "I think," Max said, and Max's hand fitted into the silver print.  Kyle felt a melting warm sensation - - located at the touch, or flowing through his body? - - and then Max's hand was gone.  Then he felt Max's hand coming around his side, settling on his back, and how did Max know exactly where to touch him without looking?  But Max's hand rested in the precise location just as though there had been a groove waiting, and he felt the loose sensation again, and then Max's touch was gone.  He looked down then, and saw that the mark on his abdomen was gone, and assumed that the one on the back was, too.  He lowered his shirt.

        "No one saw?" Max asked.

        "No," Kyle said.  Like he was eager to show off or something?  Hey, everybody, I have Fucking Max Evans' handprints all over my body!  Yeah, he's a real freak or something, I got shot and he saved me and now I have these neat souvenirs!

        "I'm sorry, I hadn't realized that I'd...left marks," Max said.

        Something crossed his mind for the first time.  He hadn't really considered it, but maybe, just maybe, "You've never done this before?"

        "No," Max said.  "I knew that I could, but I wouldn't interfere..."  Max's voice trailed off, since obviously Max had interfered, had rushed right in to play savior.

        "Stay away from Liz."

        "I wouldn't hurt her," Max said.

        "How long has she known?"

        "Known...that I'm-"

        "How long has she known?" Kyle pressed.

        "Only when I...saved you.  You and Liz and Maria are the only ones who know, the only ones who saw.  I know that Liz won't tell anyone, and she's going to keep Maria quiet.  That leaves it up to you."

        "What, you think that I'm going to run and tell everybody?"

        "What about your father?"

        "Look, there's nothing to tell.  Nothing happened.  And if you're so worried about people finding out about you, you shouldn't be doing shit like this in the first place.  You've totally fucked up, Evans.  You, and who else?  Your sister?  That Guerin trash?"

        "Michael is not trash," Max said.  Well, it was easy to push Max's buttons, wasn't it?  "I know that I risked a lot, I know that I could have destroyed not only myself but my family."

        "So, what, you just weren't thinking?"

        "I was thinking."

        "Thinking that you wanted to impress Liz."

        "Thinking that I couldn't watch you die."

        "Should've turned your back and run, then."

        "Never."

        So Kyle did.  He turned his back.  He walked away.  He went home.  He stripped to his boxers and T-shirt.  He brushed his teeth.  He peed.  He went to bed.  He slept.

        He was having one of those dreams where something he'd mentioned in conversation, something he'd seen on TV, and something that hadn't been an issue in ages all came together.  So he was on the beach with his English teacher and Diane Sawyer.  He was in a bathing suit, and thank goodness the other two were in their working suits, because he did not need to see Diane Sawyer in a bikini.  Then everything stopped.  He turned.

        "Isabel?"  What was she doing here?  Great, let's just dream about Fucking Max Evans' sister.

        "Kyle."  She walked closer.  She wasn't in a bathing suit, either, which was fine with him.  The last thing he needed was a sex dream about Fucking Max Evans' sister.

        "What do you want?"

        "I'm just checking up on you.  I want to know whether you're going to blow everything."

        "I'm not looking to blow anything.  You stay away from me and I'll stay away from you."

        "Is that why you came over tonight?"

        "I wanted to get his hands off of me."

        "What's that supposed to mean?"

        "Handprints.  Silver handprints.  They were left on me."

        "Did you show anyone?"

        "No, I didn't show anyone, what do I look like, an idiot?"

        "I won't answer that one," she said, coming closer.  "What's it going to take to keep you quiet?"

        "Nothing.  I don't want anything.  I just want you to stay away from me."

        "Why is that?  Do I scare you?"

        "Look, I'm not stupid.  I live in Roswell, okay?  I can draw the conclusions myself.  You haven't hurt me yet, though, so I'm going to pretend that it's all okay, and you can just get back to living your pretend life, and I'll keep my mouth shut."

        "I don't believe you."

        "What are you going to do, kill me?"

        "Why don't you humor me, Kyle?  Tell me what I can do for you."

        "God, what do you think, that I want a fuck so badly I'll take it from some alien chick?"  He'd said it, he said alien.  "I don't want anything from you."

        "Do you want anything from Max?"

        "Fucking Max Evans.  Hell no.  You can tell your brother to stay the fuck away from me."

        "Why don't you like Max, Kyle?  He saved your life."

        "Why?"

        "Why what?"  She seemed taken aback, for once.

        "Why'd he save my life?"

        "You don't know?"  Back in control now, keeping down the surprise.

        "I hate him.  He's trying to get my girlfriend.  Out of nowhere he's bringing me back from the grave, practically, and I have no idea why.  What's he want?  What's he doing?  Trying to impress Liz?"

        "Who cares about Liz?" Isabel asked, and disappeared.

        He turned back.  Diane Sawyer was looking as confused as he felt.



        Saturday afternoon, Kyle went into the Crashdown for the first time since he'd been shot and almost died on the floor in a pool of his own blood.

        "Kyle.  Kyle, look at me, look right into my eyes.  Kyle."

        He took a seat at the counter.  Maria hurried over to him.  He hadn't spoken with her since the shooting.  He knew that she'd have all sorts of questions and comments and speculations, and he didn't want to deal with it.  "I'm here to see Liz," he said.

        "Order something," she told him.

        "Fine.  I'll have a Diet Coke.  Please."

        "Oh god."  She was staring over his head.

        He shifted, looking around, and saw people entering and sitting at a booth.  Michael.  Isabel.  Max.

        "I was thinking."

        He looked into Maria's eyes.  "Diet Coke please, Maria."

        "Kyle-"

        "Maria."  He put his impressive jock stare on full force.  It said, I am handsome, I am smart, I have talent and popularity you wish you had, so do what I want because I'm fucking wonderful and you live to serve me, and I deserve it.  It always worked.  Even with Maria.  She moved to get him his drink.  Liz went to the booth, and he on purpose kept his back to them.  Then she came around the counter to him as Maria handed him his Coke.

        "Kyle," Liz said in her intense way.  "Max wants-"

        "I don't give a flying fuck what Fucking Max Evans wants."  Now he was in arrogant jock mode, and surly spoiled high school star mode.

        Liz looked shocked.

        "I'm sure that you'll be happy to fulfill his every need."

        She slapped him.

        "Shit!"  He stood and started to leave.

        "You didn't pay for that," Maria called after him smugly.  He whirled around, stormed back to the counter, got up in her face, and stared her down until she was seconds away from tears.  Then he stepped back and pulled out his wallet.

        One problem.  He'd wiped the blood off of the front of his wallet, but he hadn't opened it since the shooting.  Now he did, and he pulled out money, and all of the dollar bills were dark with dried blood, stained with his ebbing life.

        "Oh god, Kyle."  Liz looked as though she'd been shot herself.  Maria was about to faint.  Kyle reached out across the counter and grabbed Maria's forearm.

        "Breathe," he insisted.  He'd wanted to scare her, not make her pass out or vomit.  Liz ran to the back room.  He heard her gagging.  Well, he hadn't wanted to make her vomit, either.  Maria started to look as though she were back in reality again, and he released her.  "You're all right?"

        "Just don't pay me," she said.  "Ever.  You get free food for the rest of your life.  I have to check on Liz."  She bolted.

        "What're you doing to the waitresses, Valenti?" someone called.  He shoved his wallet back in his back pocket and left the Crashdown.  As he stepped onto the sidewalk, he saw his three favorite aliens standing around their Jeep.

        "What was that?" Michael asked.

        "You might want to go in there, Evans.  Your girlfriend's puking up her lunch."

        "What happened?" Isabel asked.

        "God, you stay away from me," he said.

        "I'm so flattered," she said.  "Let's go, Max."

        "Can I help?" Max asked.

        "Not unless you know how to dry-clean money.  All of my dollar bills are...dirty."

        Max held out one hand.

        "Oh goodie, another magic trick," Kyle said.  "You oughta start charging me for these."  He pulled out his wallet again and handed it to Max.  Max flipped through it casually and handed it back to him.  Everything was crisp and clean.  "You do grape juice stains, too?  What about spaghetti sauce?"

        "Let's go, Max," Isabel said, and this time she meant it.

        "We give you life," Michael said, "we can take it right back again."

        Kyle gave his most superior, derisive, goading face and walked down the sidewalk.

        "Michael!" Isabel said sharply, and Kyle figured he'd been seconds away from death or dismemberment.  Fortunately, Isabel seemed to win, because he didn't collapse on the sidewalk and die.

        Help.  Can I help.  Can I help?  As though it were that simple, like holding the kitchen door for someone loaded down with a lit birthday cake, or opening a tricky applesauce jar.  No, Max wanted to remove bloodstains, remove handprints, remove bullets.  But why?  Why bother?  Okay, maybe it was hard to watch someone die without doing something to help, and maybe it was impossible to let someone die while knowing that the person could be saved.  But that save risked the lives of others.  Max didn't have that right.  And removing the evidence - - handprints, bloodstains - - helped to erase the crime, helped to cover for Max, made Max and Michael and Isabel just a bit safer.  But he knew, and Liz knew, and Maria knew, and what if someone else knew?  How could they be sure that someone else hadn't seen, or couldn't see?  How easily someone else could have been involved, could have witnessed.

        And what weird dreams was he having?  He didn't want Isabel to do anything for him.  He didn't want hush money.  He didn't want them to perform alien services for him, or pull strings for him, or pay him off, or give him sex.

        He didn't want Isabel Evans?  Everyone wanted Isabel Evans.  The entire team wanted Isabel Evans.  The entire school - - the entire town wanted Isabel Evans.  She was lovely and intelligent and far too good for them.  Now he understood why, at least.

        He didn't want Liz, either.  She was smart, and she was nice, and she had a quiet intensity, but he didn't want her.  Not with any overwhelming passion, and not with a teenaged horniness.  He just liked her better than any girl in school.  Considering who the other girls in school were, it wasn't a difficult decision.

        He knew that his hormones worked.  He had a functioning, healthy sex drive.  He just hadn't found anyone to spike it.  He figured that he would.  Maybe when he got out of town and went to college he'd find someone.



        There was a problem.  The gun had been fired.  Everyone knew that the gun had been fired.  There was no bullet.  No bullet at all.  No bullet hole, even.  Kyle's father was suspicious and frustrated; not a good combination.  So Kyle made another trip to the home of his favorite Savior the day after the blood money incident.

        Isabel opened the door.  "Kyle.  What do you want?"

        "Is your brother here?"

        "Maybe.  What do you want?"

        "Information."

        "About what?"  Now she was more suspicious, and ready to go on the defensive - - or on the attack.

        He smiled his best false smile.  "It's personal, sorry.  I'll come back another time."

        "Wait."  She closed the door.  He waited.  The door opened; Max stepped outside, closing the door.

        "Kyle.  How can I help you?"  Strain of humor running through Max's query.  It didn't keep him from noticing the faint quaver in that, "Kyle."

        "Is that bullet still in me?"

        "No."

        "Where is it?  Did you melt it?  Get it out and throw it away?"

        "It's inside."

        "In your house?"

        "Why do you want it?"

        "I don't want it.  My father's wondering why there's no bullet and no bullet hole but everyone knows for certain that the gun was fired."

        "I don't know what to do about that."

        "You kept the bullet?"

        "Would you like to see it?"

        Kyle hesitated.  It would be easier to lie to his father if he'd never seen the bullet.  Still, wouldn't it help if he came face-to-face with what had almost killed him?  What would have killed him?  What should have killed him?  Maybe it would give him some resolution.  Maybe it would stop the nightmares.

        Those nightmares...

        "Okay."

        Max nodded and led him inside the house.  It was a nice house, pale and airy, cool and light, homey and comfortable.  He followed Max through the terribly wholesome rooms that reeked of traditional conservative family values and down the hallway and through a doorway.  Max closed the door behind them.

        Typical guy's room.  Kyle had been in the bedroom of how many other boys' rooms over the years?  All of his friends from school, practically everyone on every team he'd ever been on, sleepovers and jokes and fun and secrets that seemed so important at the time but paled in comparison with this one huge horrible secret.

        Max walked over to the dresser, opened the third drawer from the top, reached into the back.  He pulled out a T-shirt, unfolded it, and revealed a small black velvet box, which he opened to expose a clean lump of silver.  "I cleaned it," he said.  "So if anyone found it there wouldn't be any evidence of your DNA on it."

        "My father's going to start taking people in for questioning," Kyle said.  "He really wants to know where this bullet is, and why it isn't where it should be."

        Max carefully put it away again, a small ritual.  "People must know what I was there, with Isabel and Michael.  That we ran out, took off, left the scene of the crime.  I could explain it away as being a scared kid, but I don't know whether your father will buy it.  And someone must have seen me run over to you."

        "The shot was in my direction, you're a friend of Liz's, you wanted to make sure that no one was hurt.  Then you ran off after your sister to comfort her."  Kyle had never lied to his father, but that didn't mean that he'd never lied at all, and he was smart enough to construct a story quickly and, most important, simply.

        "Thank you," Max said.

        Oh, those two words just rubbed Kyle in all of the wrong ways.

        "Sorry," Max said.

        That was worse.

        Max smiled a little.  "Well, I'm just ruining this, aren't I?"  He didn't seem surprised.  "Kyle, I'm not going to stay away from Liz.  Aside from Isabel and Michael, she's the only friend that I have."

        "That is not my fault or my problem."

        "Is it my fault?" Max asked.  "I can't make friends with someone who doesn't know the truth.  I've tried and it's too difficult to base a friendship on lies.  Now Liz knows the truth, and I want to-"

        "You want to what, Evans?"

        "She's your girlfriend and I respect your relationship with her," Max said.  "I'm not sexually attracted to her."

        "Earth girls not good enough for you?"

        "Kyle, please.  I don't want to fight with you.  I only want to tell you that I've finally made a friend, and I want-"

        "So what if you hadn't played Jesus and Lazarus with my dead ass?" Kyle asked.  "You would've found some other way to expose yourself to my girlfriend so you could make friends?  You were interested in Liz long before you ever raised me from the dead."

        "I was curious about her."

        "Curious.  Liz is a special person, but there's nothing so amazing that you have to stare at her from afar for-"

        "I don't think that you understand," Max said, "and if I try to explain you'll only hate me more."

        "I can't hate you more."

        "Right.  Fucking Max Evans.  Fine.  I'll tell you the truth, and then you can be furious and get your revenge by running off and telling your father all about me, and my-"

        "Don't even get started on the guilt trip, Evans.  Just tell me why you're obsessed with Liz."

        "I was not obsessed with Liz.  I was curious about her.  Not for her own sake.  I didn't have the energy to care about her for her own sake, because I was obsessed with you, and my brain was so consumed by you that I didn't have room to care about anyone else.  I only became interested in Liz because she was your girlfriend, and I wanted to know what kind of girlfriend you had, what sort of girl you liked.  She became my obsession because you were my obsession."

        "And what's so special about me?"

        "Would you like that alphabetically or in order of importance?"

        "And that's why you played Christ.  Because you were obsessed with me."

        "Yes."

        "Why were you obsessed with me?"

        "I'm in love with you.  That's why I saved you.  I couldn't let you die.  I couldn't watch it happen, I couldn't let it happen, I had to stop it.  I did not want to live in a world when you were gone from it.  All I could think of was that I had to save you.  I was so focused on you that it wasn't until later, two whole days later, that I realized that in that night, in that moment, I'd finally gotten to touch you.  I'd put my hands on you.  But at the time, I didn't care about me, I just-"

        "Shut the fuck up."

        "I'm in love with you.  I never wanted you to know."

        "Then why are you telling me?"

        "Because you had it all wrong.  You thought that it was all about my lust for Liz.  It was about you, and how you're too important to lose."  [Sorry Methos]

        Kyle made the mistake of meeting Max's eyes.  Liquid brown, they just sucked him right in, made him lose himself, made him just drown...  They were intense, not with fire, just with presence.  There was knowledge there, and power, and an undiscovered wealth of-

        "Kyle.  Kyle."

        God, it was hard to articulate what he saw in those eyes, and it was hard for Kyle to think anyway; he just wanted to gaze into-

        "Kyle."

        Wow.  Those lashes.  How long were they really?  They couldn't be as long as they looked.  They had to be, that was stupid, but really, they looked so-

        Long, lean fingers on his forearm.  He was in physical contact with other guys all of the time, on the court, in anger, in jest - - a push, a shove, a hand on the arm, a pat on the butt even, no one thought a thing about it - - but suddenly, this simple touch was swamped with meaning.  Layered, complex meaning, dragging him down, pulling him under, thick and-

        "Kyle."

        Kyle blinked and stared into Max's eyes.  "Your ears give you away."

        "So I've heard."  Max smiled.  The hand remained.

        "You have the most interesting eyes I've ever seen."

        "Thank you."

        "You can be best friends with Liz if you want, but stay the fuck away from me."

        "I should tell you something.  Just this one more thing, because it's not fair to keep it from you."  The hand was gone.

        "You're having my baby.  Wait a second, can-"

        "No," Max said firmly.  "No."

        "So you're...normal."

        "Yes."

        "So what's the big important news?"

        "When I saved you, I put my hands on you and I made you look into my eyes because I needed to establish a connection.  When I established the connection, I opened a pathway between us.  It was a one-way street.  I got inside your mind.  Your memories and thoughts flashed across my-"

        "You were inside my head?"

        "Not with sinister intent, Kyle.  I was only-"

        "So while I'm dying, my life is passing before your eyes."

        "Yes.  I thought that you should know."

        "So you've seen everything.  Good stuff, bad stuff, private stuff."

        "Yes.  I didn't mean to intrude on your privacy."

        "You must have loved it, though.  Getting all inside me, getting to know all about me."

        "I'm sorry, Kyle."

        "Can you do it at will?"

        "If I wanted to, I'm sure that I could.  I've never tried it.  You're the first and only person I've ever connected with."

        "A one-way street."

        "It could be two-way, but I assume that you aren't interested."

        "Hell no.  I'm leaving now."

        "Fucking Max Evans will stay away from you," Max said.

        "He'd better."



        He did, too.  Max kept his distance.  Liz was always with him, but she managed to spread her time evenly between home, school, work, Maria, Alex, Kyle, and Max, not shortchanging Kyle in favor of Max.  Kyle saw them together frequently, at school and at the Crashdown, and kept away until Liz was alone again.

        Kyle's father hauled people to the station for questioning.  One by one, Sheriff Valenti went through the Crashdown's customers of the fateful evening that Kyle almost died.  Kyle was not pleased to relive the moments of his brink of death, and he stuck carefully but casually to the story that he, Liz, Maria, Max, Isabel, and Michael all shared.  Kyle learned from Liz that she and the other four had spent an afternoon telling and retelling their version of the truth until everyone knew it inside and out; then she made sure that it matched his testimony.

        He wanted to know whether she knew about Max's...obsession.  He was certain that Isabel did, and probably so did Michael.  Had Max told Liz?  Did Liz know that her new best friend was in love with her boyfriend?  If she knew, would it change her feelings towards either one of them?

        It hadn't changed his feelings.  He'd been shocked out of his fucking mind, yes, but he still hated Max, no more and no less.  He supposed that a small-town jock who was practically Mr. Heterosexuality and stereotypically small-minded would label Max a "fag" and react violently.  He didn't.  It didn't cross his mind.  He just felt numb shock, disbelief, and then, like the good little boy that he was, repressed the whole issue.

        Shot?  No, he hadn't been shot.  He certainly hadn't been raised from the dead.  He'd never met an alien, are you crazy?  As for being the love obsession of some male alien Christ figure who'd resurrected him, no way no how.  He was just Kyle James Valenti, jock and sheriff's son.  Nothing out of the ordinary here.

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