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Added to the Roswell Slash Archive June 25, 2002

        He never kicks me out of his apartment, just turns on the TV, or goes to the other room, or sits on the couch staring up at the ceiling when I've been talking so long he can't be bothered to keep paying attention. When I was with Tess, her eyes never left my face, and I got used to that fast. Her big blue eyes looking at me like I knew what I was talking about.

        Now I talk to Michael while he concentrates on keeping the ball bouncing off of his paddle, up in the air. I ask him if he thinks there's another way to get back, if the skins had another transporter, if time moves differently on Antar. If he remembers anything that might help. He says "Uh, sure," and ignores me.

        His apartment is really warm, and he never makes me leave, not even when he goes to work. He tells me to lock up if I feel like leaving before he gets back. But I stay, because my house is full of Isabel, and I can't look at her. And the Crashdown has Liz. I've hardly talked to any of them since the day she left. I ask him if they're all mad at me, and he just shrugs.

        Michael doesn't even ask me to go away when Maria comes home with him, still in her uniform, both of them sweaty from the heat and her hanging all over him. I know she wants me to leave when she rolls her eyes, glares at him, glares at me. Eventually, she gives up and goes home. Michael just sits down next to me on the couch, sighs, and asks what's on TV. I wonder if she blames me for what happened. I know she couldn't stand Tess, ever.

        School is over, and I don't really have anything to do. Brody told me I don't have to come back to work until I feel like I'm ready. Everyone's been very supportive since my girlfriend drove my car over a cliff and died. Everyone who thinks that's what happened, anyway. The rest of them know it's my fault, I can feel them thinking it whenever I can't avoid them. Michael doesn't cook me food or anything, but he says I can take whatever I want from his kitchen. And sometimes he puts glasses of water in front of me, because it's so hot and we're all sweating like crazy.

        I feel like everyone's reacting wrong, even the people who should know. The first night after Tess left I tried to kiss Liz and she started talking about Leanna again, about the bomb that had been set and whether Tess had done it, and if I remembered Tess ever going out of town for a few days by herself. Liz says she's ready to forgive me and go back to how things were. Maybe she doesn't remember that she was never like this before, speaking rapidly about conspiracies and Skins and clues, that she never used to look at me like I had to make it up to her. And I don't know how. I'm still wondering when Liz started to know more about the alien stuff than I do.

        My mom calls here one night when she expected me home for dinner, and I apologize and say I'll be back soon. But that night Michael gives me an extra pillow and I sleep on his couch.

        It's not like I never leave, it's just that I'm here a lot. There aren't a lot of other places to be. Every time I'm alone with Liz I'm afraid she's going to start asking me questions about Tess, looking for answers. It makes me not even want to be near her, which is a new feeling for me, trying to get away from Liz Parker.

        Michael goes to work, to Maria's house, sometimes. I go home to change clothes and sleep and say hi to my parents, and then I come back here and sit with all the blinds pulled down and the lights off because it's so hot. There's a little green light on the microwave that blinks on and off and on and off, but otherwise everything is dark and heavy and still. One night Michael comes home right after his shift ends, alone and not smelling like sex. I ask if maybe Maria's angry at him because of me. He laughs and says, no, it's just too damn hot for that, and we both sit there chewing on ice cubes and not talking.

        That's the second time I spend the night, because the next thing I know it's daytime and I slept in a weird position, in my clothes. I get up and take a shower and borrow new clothes from the pile that looks clean. He's still asleep, stretched out on the bare floor. His body seems to take up the whole room. I'm careful to step around him.

        When I get home around noon Isabel is wide awake, sitting in the air-conditioned living room and reading a book. She rolls her eyes as I walk in, practically dripping, wearing clothes that don't really fit. "God, what do you guys *do*?" she says, like she doesn't want to hear the answer.

        "Not much," I say on my way up the stairs, which is the truth. She goes back to her book. My room is huge, and cool, but it kind of makes me feel sick and I leave as soon as possible. I have to walk back over to Michael's. I've been walking everywhere since we totaled my car, and it pretty much sucks, even in a town this small.

        Later that afternoon I'm talking about Antar. He's pretending to ignore me again. And even though his back is turned and we're on opposite sides of the room, it occurs to me that he's the only one who's close, who can really understand, and I tell him that. He says "Uh, ok," like he hasn't been listening. And then he puts an ice cube down the back of my shirt, which feels really good.

        It's only about an hour after that that he sits near where I'm lying on the ground and I roll over and put my hand on his thigh. "Quit it," he says, and looks in the other direction. I can't tell what he's thinking. I take my hand away.

        Eventually I'm almost living here and still, no one seems to notice, not even Michael. He's gotten so calm this last year and I can't figure out when that happened. He gets mad, sometimes, but never really mad, except one other time when I get too close and he says "Don't mess with me, Max," and he means it. I move closer. He gets up and walks out, bangs the door shut, and I think about him going to Maria's. He doesn't say anything when he gets back, but I can smell her on him.

        I wake up from a Tess sex dream a few hours later, in the middle of the night, and he's looking at me. There in the dark, his eyes shiny where the light from the window reflects off of them, just watching my face. I can't think of anything to say, and eventually he turns over and goes back to sleep. I stay awake, though. Thinking, over and over: he would have stayed for her.

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