Rating: PG-13 (innuendo/implied sex scene)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: Thanks to suidicalangel for posting the terms to the challenge.
Feedback: Always welcome!
Terms of suicidalangel's Challege: Polarist fic but starts off with Max and Liz being together. Michael was never found, the shooting happened a year earlier, so Kyle and Liz were never together. Then something happens to Max…early mid-life crisis or whatever. There has to be: 1) Max in tights, 2) a chili eating contest, 3) an ice cream fight, and 4) Michael and Liz must meet in a yoga class.
"I think I need therapy." I looked in the mirror as the words escape. I can't believe I just said that. "I, Liz Parker, need therapy." Yep, those were my lips moving. My hand that tucked a piece of chin-length brown hair behind my ear.
I buried my face in my hands. I'm only twenty-one years old; I can't need therapy yet, can I? My life hasn't been the most normal in the last six years, but it has only recently turned into something resembling the Jerry Springer show.
It was the end of my freshman year in high school and I was a pretty normal high school girl. Ok, so I was a bit of a nerd -- I loved math and science classes and had big plans for my future -- but I was kinda cute, so I was in that "respected-yet-nerdy" group. Basically, that meant that I was the lab partner everybody wanted AND I got asked out on the occasional date. Ah, the wide world of high school.
Anyway, summer vacation was only a couple weeks away and I had just started working at the Crashdown Café here in Roswell. My folks run it. Summer is tourist season and they were finally letting me help out by waiting tables. Finally! I really needed the money. I had talked them into hiring my best friend Maria as well. We'd been inseparable for years. I think Mom and Dad knew they'd have to hire us both.
It was a Saturday and we were busy. I'd already screwed up one order because I was too busy drooling over a couple of guys at one of Maria's tables. Max Evans and Kyle Valenti. God's gift to women. I'm serious here. Have you seen them? They're gorgeous. Both jocks, though Max wasn't into the team sports the way Kyle was. Kyle was on the basketball and football teams; Max was on the wrestling team. He also did some cycle racing. Those bikes had given him some amazing leg muscles.
I was concentrating really hard on getting my new table's order right and ignored the two men in the next booth who had started to argue. To this day I don't know what they were fighting about. Most of what I do know, other people told me. There are a few blanks in my memories.
One of the guys pulled a gun. There was a struggle. The gun went off. I got shot. Yeah, the stray bullet hit me. I remember pain. Crumbling to the floor. And then Max, leaning over me. His hands pulled apart my uniform top. Of all the fantasies I'd had about the Max ripping off my clothes, none of them involved me bleeding on the floor of the café. He pressed his hands over the bullet wound and healed me. That's really all I can say. He healed me. Saved my life. And set it on an entirely different path.
There you go. I was healed by an alien. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But it was true. And I didn't need therapy then. What I needed were answers.
From what Maria told me -- after she stopped screaming and hyperventilating -- Max leaned over me for twenty, thirty seconds. Then he bolted from the Crashdown, followed closely by Kyle. By the time she got close to me all she saw was a broken bottle of ketchup on the floor next to me and a puddle of it on my stomach.
"You were fine," she said. "It was just a broken bottle." If only it were really that simple. The sheriff didn't buy it and neither did a few of the other witnesses. But I was fine and there was no way anyone could have proved otherwise.
I kept the dress with the bullet hole. I knew I'd been shot; I was determined to find out what had happened. Liz Parker, girl detective. I cornered Max at school, asked him what had happened. He told me the ketchup story, too. But I didn't give up. I pestered him every chance I got. I think he finally answered me just to get me to shut up. He was an alien. No, he didn't know where he was from. No, his mission wasn't to take over the world. Yes, his sister Isabel was one, too. Yes, he was in the Crash, and no, he wasn't fifty-something. Yes, he love to go out to dinner with me --
Yeah, I can be pretty slick when I want to. I mean, I had this really hot guy cornered and answering all my questions. He blushed a little after he realized what I'd done but agreed to go out with me. And that was that. For a while, at least.
I think I mentioned I was science girl? Well, imagine, I had my very own alien to play with. To explore. To experiment with. Ok, the, um, experimentation started a year or so later. Anyway, I did want to know more about Max's alien heritage so I started looking into it. Old records of the Crash. Any and all material dealing with aliens. We have a UFO museum in town and I convinced Max to get a job there. He did and we got access to all the information that the center had on hand. Max brought copies home, and he and I and Maria and Kyle and Isabel and Alex poured over it looking for clues.
Back-up a minute? Oh, okay, sure. Yeah, I told Maria. She is my best friend; we have no secrets from each other. Kyle was Max's best friend. I found out a little after the shooting that Kyle knew the secret, too. That came in really handy, since his father was the sheriff and was determined to catch some aliens. Kyle was our inside source at the police station. Isabel was there because she was Max's sister. And an alien. Alex? He's my and Maria's other best friend. Like I said, we didn't keep secrets from each other.
I'll skip over all the adventures we had through high school. Evil aliens, mysterious signs and portents, secret branches of the US government. Risking life and limb had a way of bonding us together as a group. And a close-knit group we were. I was dating Max. Sleeping with him, too. I really enjoyed that aspect of our relationship. Maria and Kyle went out a few times, but they both preferred to play the field. Alex mooned over Isabel but she was part of the popular crowd and didn't give him the time of day unless she had to.
And then high school ended. Our little group broke up somewhat. Isabel headed off to San Francisco for college and the big city life. Alex headed east to MIT. He wanted to hone his computer skills with the best of the best. Maria decided to give life in New York a try. The bright lights of Broadway were calling her name. Kyle, Max and I went to the University of New Mexico in Sante Fe.
See? A pretty normal high school life. No therapy needed.
I can't believe it's been six years since the shooting. Or that I only have one more year of college left. College. What a broadening experience. I had big plans when I started. I'd go all the way for my Ph.D. and then get a job with a big research company or a well-respected university. Max and I would get married and live happily ever after. There's only one problem with big plans. They have a tendency to go awry.
By my sophomore year of college I hated all my science classes. My plans had put me on the pre-med track. I despised the competition and back-stabbing in my biology and chemistry classes, but stuck it out another year. The structure was starting to chafe a bit, too. I missed the challenge of our detective work in high school. Tracking down leads. Putting puzzle pieces together. That's why I'm back here in Roswell this summer. I'm thinking about changing my major. I need to take a little time for myself. Dad needed a hand at the café, so it all worked out well.
Max came back to Roswell this summer, too. We got a small apartment together; we're trying to work things out. Our relationship has cooled somewhat this past year. I think we need to spend some quality time together. I think we're growing apart. There's something going on. I'm determined to find out what.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's something going on. The first clue? I came home one day last semester from classes and found Max trying on a pair of my tights. Tights. He stuttered for a minute when I walked in and then gave me an explanation I accepted at the time. He was thinking about getting a pair of cycling tights for the next racing season. He was tired of shaving his legs. And suffering through the itch as the hair grew back. He was curious what tights were like. It sounded good to me. Although I would miss his bare legs. There was something kind of erotic and, well, kinky, when our legs tangled together, all smooth and bare.
But enough about that. He did look pretty funny. My tights barely reached his hip bones. And the control top panel hugged in some mighty interesting places. I think he must have seen something in my eyes. Max peeled off the tights and we -- ahem. Anyway, the tights incident was forgotten.
I can't believe I didn't wonder more about the tights incident. Nope I just went along my merry way, working on homework for classes I hated. Wondering if there was something about me that had made Max's ardor cool. I think that's part of the reason I started yoga.
Yoga. It's become the new love of my life. It's helped strengthen and stretch my body. And helped me clear my head. I guess it's been a type of therapy. But not enough right now to clear everything out of my head. In fact, something happened at a class a few weeks ago that's added to the confusion.
Roswell doesn't have a yoga studio so I drive into Dexter twice a week. It's a town not much bigger than Roswell, but they have an Iyengar studio. Go figure. It was my second or third class at this studio and the instructor decided we were going to work on some partner stretches. He paired me up with this guy who just towered over me. He was at least six foot something. And really cute. Really, really cute. His hair was a bit longer that I usually like it on guys, and it was pulled back into a ponytail. Coupled with the silver rings on his hands, the overall look was a bit daring. A little dangerous. Incredibly sexy. I could feel my pulse speed up.
The stretch we worked on was to build flexibility in the hamstring. On your back, you wrap a strap around your foot and pull it overhead, then swing it to your side. Your partner holds down your opposite hip, helping increase the stretch. I went first. When this guy, his name's Michael, put his hand on my hip, I felt a jolt of electricity run through my body. The belt slipped out of my hand and my leg swung back awkwardly, nearly kicking him in the head. His reflexes were lightning quick and he caught my calf before any damage was done.
I was so embarrassed, but Michael just laughed it off. I felt comfortable with him right away. He just moved to my other side and we tried it again. I felt the same jolt but this time I was prepared for it. Kinda. It was like nothing I've ever experienced. It was such a rush. Too soon my turn was over and Michael moved his hands from my hip.
Then Michael lay down on the mat and smiled up at me. I placed my hand on his hip. I could feel the warmth of his body through his shorts. And the hard muscle beneath the material. I had this gorgeous guy lying down in front of me, my hands on his body, and I was in the midst of a dry spell. They said yoga could improve your sex life. Something about the flexibility? Or was it stamina? Without conscious thought my hand started to move from his hip. Just shift it a little and --
Michael coughed. Actually I think it might have been a cross between a laugh and a gasp. Whatever it was, it worked. My focus returned to the yoga class. Michael worked on the stretch and I kept my hands on his hips only as long as I had to. I wasn't really sure I could control myself otherwise. As soon as the class was over, I hightailed it out of there. My feelings and actions confused me.
Michael caught up with me after the next yoga class. I could barely meet his eyes; I'd had nightmares about my actions in class. Okay, so they weren't nightmares. But when I woke sweaty and out of breath, I had to tell Max something. I don't think I actually screamed, but that I could explain away in a nightmare. A moan or something would be a lot harder. Pain, maybe? It's so close to pleasure.
His eyes captured mine even as his hand encircled my upper arm. "Liz? Can we get coffee somewhere or something? I'd like to get to know you better."
God, were sweeter-sounding words ever spoken? And I had a boyfriend. I had to tell him. "I'm sorry. I'm, uh, seeing someone right now."
The hopeful expression in his eyes dimmed a bit. But he didn't give up. Have I mentioned how much I like that in a man? "How about we get that coffee anyway, and I get to know you as friends?"
I didn't recognize it at the time, but I was his, right then and there. I agreed quickly and then blurted out something about being late for work. I rushed off without even giving him a number or a day or a kiss good-bye or anything. Lucky for me, Michael Guerin is one smart boy.
"You've got a new table. Number 3," the other waitress told me. I was a little ticked; it was almost time for my break and I'd been hoping not to have to deal with the public for a few extra minutes.
"Hi. Welcome to the Crashdown. Can I get you something to drink?" When I didn't get a response, I looked up from my order pad. Michael was sitting there smiling at me.
"You look pretty cute in your uniform," he said. And I'm pretty sure his gaze traveled over my less than covered legs when he said that.
"How'd you find me?" I blurted out. Yep, I can be really smooth when I want to be.
"Crashdown t-shirt you wear in class."
"Nah, I followed you into town. Saw you rush in here."
Ok. So he might be a bit of stalker. He was still so darn cute. "Oh. Well. Can I get you something to drink?"
He laughed. Full, deep, rumbling. I wanted this man. Now. "I was heading into Roswell anyway. I had a meeting with the gallery owner. "
An artist. That could explain the hair. And the rings. And those nice strong hands of his.
"What?" I hadn't been paying attention.
"How about a Coke? And a burger, whichever one's best. And tell the guy at the grill to make sure it's cooked all the way through."
"Um, ok, sure. That'll be just a few minutes. I'll be right back."
"And how about your company?"
I blushed. I know I blushed. "Well, I do have a break in a few minutes."
"Great." And it sounded like he really meant that.
I spent all of my break talking to Michael. He ate his meal with relish. And he doused his burger and fries liberally with Tabasco sauce. Michael reminded me a lot of Max when he did that. And I thought I saw his hand stray towards his pop before he placed the bottle back on the table. I was probably just remembering watching Max doing that.
As soon as I was off work, I slid back into the booth. It was almost like we had met before; I felt that comfortable talking to him. He was my age, had grown up in a foster home outside of Albuquerque -- I noticed he didn't like to talk about that all that much. After high school he'd decided to see if he could make a living as an artist. He traveled all over the Four Corners area, painting landscapes and the occasional portrait. Selling his stuff to tourists and sometimes getting a gallery owner to display his work. I couldn't wait to see some of his paintings.
Dad flicked off the overhead lights in the café and I jumped. I couldn't believe how time had slipped away. Michael looked into my eyes. "I guess that's my hint to leave, huh?"
I nodded. I didn't want to say good-bye just yet.
"Can I see you again? Maybe Saturday?" Michael asked.
I opened my mouth to reply, then I remembered. "I can't." When his face fell, I hurried to continue. "I'm going to the New Mexico Chili Cook-off with my dad. It's a tradition. We leave Friday night and we'll be back Saturday evening."
"A chili cook-off? Sounds like fun. How about I meet you there?"
I know I had a big stupid grin on my face when he asked. Max wouldn't be going, so I didn't have to worry about explaining Michael. "I'd like that. We'll be representing the Crashdown. You'll see the big inflatable rocket ship over our booth. Can't miss us."
"I'll see you Saturday then." Michael slid out of the booth. He gave me one last look before he strolled through the double doors. I don't know how long I sat there watching him before I left too.
It was already middle of the day on Saturday before I saw Michael at the cook-off. He sauntered up to the booth where I was busy serving bowls of piping hot chili to paying customers. Dad's chili had a reputation and people lined up for it.
"Hey, stranger," he said as he approached the booth.
"Michael," I said. I swear I didn't squeal his name. I don't squeal. Ever. "I'm so glad you came. And you're just in time for the big event."
"The big event?"
"The chili eating contest. Dad's got a special chili recipe that he serves during the competition every year. Death Ray Chili."
"Death Ray Chili?"
"Yep. Help me carry this pot over and I'll explain." I led Michael into the booth and back to where a big silver pot sat simmering on a portable stove. He grabbed one handle and I moved to grab the other. He brushed my hand away and lifted the pot easily. Have I mentioned how much I like strong guys?
I led the way to the chili eating competition. "Every year five chilis are offered for the contest. They start at rather mild and end up super-hot. Dad's is the super-hot one. Each contestant must finish a bowl of each chili. Last year nobody managed to finish a bowl of Dad's Death Ray Chili. He was exceptionally proud of that fact." So was I, really. That chili is damn hot. I can't even handle a bite. Kyle tried it once and I swear I saw steam coming from his ears. Max made it through half a bowl before he had to call it quits. "I think he tinkered with the recipe again this year, to make it even hotter."
Michael had a speculative gleam in his eye. "Super-hot, huh? How do I sign up for this competition?"
Oh, no. This wasn't quite what I had planned. A semi-date whose mouth was on fire for the rest of the day. Then I remembered how much Tabasco he'd used. "I can get you in."
After we'd delivered the pot, I moved over to speak to the man running the contest, Ernie Baxter. He'd been running the show for as long as I could remember. Mr. Baxter was more than happy to do a favor for Jeff Parker's little girl. Michael was in.
I settled back to watch the carnage. Is it wrong to admit that how he handled himself in a chili-eating contest would have an effect on our relationship? If he wimped out on the first bowl or two, there was no hope.
All thirteen contestants wolfed down the first bowl of chili. On to the second. The third. Two guys dropped out within a few bites. Another three dropped out after the third bowl. Michael was still in the running. Two more dropped out halfway into the fourth bowl. Only three of the thirteen moved on to the final bowl. This was it. Death Ray Chili. One guy took a bite and spit it out immediately. He grabbed blindly for the glass of milk which was provided. The second guy made it halfway through before he downed his glass of milk in one quick chug. Michael scooped up every spoonful. And then he ran his finger around the sides of the bowl to get the chili he missed.
"Damn, that's good chili. Got any more?"
The crowd went insane. Yelling and cheering and screaming. Dad gave him a big bear hug. The only man to ever make it through an entire bowl. I know I was grinning like a fool. Another point for Mr. Michael Guerin.
I finally managed to get Michael to myself after the contest and dragged him back to the Crashdown booth. I hated the thought of leaving Dad to pack up by himself but I really wanted to take off. When Dad saw why, he readily agreed. He was still impressed by Michael. I mean, he's always liked Max, but Michael had just won him over. Big time. Thankfully, Dad didn't ask any questions about Max.
I rode home with Michael, curled into the passenger seat of his little Jetta. It reminded me of the one Maria had had in high school. Definitely not the kind of car I expected from him. I could definitely see him on a motorcycle. I mentioned that to him. He laughed. "It would be an interesting experience trying to pack my easel and paints and canvases onto a motorcycle." Good point. Though I'd keep the motorcycle image for my fantasies.
Michael pulled up in front of my apartment. We had decided to grab a beer and I wanted to change clothes. Michael followed me in. I was a little worried about the sticky business of introducing Michael to Max. Sticky. Yeah, that's a good word for it.
Our apartment opens into a little hallway with the kitchen just off to the right and the living room to the left. I pointed Michael in the direction of our couch. Big and red and covered with plush velveteen, it was the most comfortable couch I've ever sat on. Decadent, even. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pint of Ben and Jerry's sitting on the counter and my stomach growled. I detoured through the kitchen. Cherry Garcia. Yummy!
As I dug for a spoon, I noticed the lids of several other ice cream pints lying on the counter. And the floor. Oooh, and there were little puddles of sticky melted ice cream all over the floor too. It was like a trail of breadcrumbs. I followed the sticky splotches through the living room. What the hell had Max done? I sure wasn't cleaning it up.
The trail led to the bedroom door and I could hear voices coming from within. Max. And Kyle. What were they doing? I pushed the door open a little wider to give them shit. And stopped.
Max and Kyle were sitting on the bed. Each had a pint of ice cream. Both were shirtless. As I watched Max took a spoonful of ice cream and flicked it at Kyle. It hit him in the chest. All melty and soft it trailed down Kyle's bare chest. "Damn, that's cold, Max." He took his fingers and scooped up a handful of ice cream. Kyle leaned forward and smeared it down Max's chest. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Then, Kyle -- Whoa! I hadn't even considered doing that. I watched in wonder as the two of them continued to play with the ice cream. And then the ice cream was forgotten.
I stepped back from the door and pressed my body to the wall. My pulse was racing and I was feeling a little tingly. Oh my god. That certainly explained a lot of things. And I couldn't get a handle on my feelings. Jealousy, pain, sorrow, understanding? I don't know. And I didn't really want to think about it just then.
And then I remembered I'd left Michael in the living room. "C'mon. We're getting out of here."
"You aren't going to change?"
"Change of plans. Let's go."
I held out my hand to Michael and he took it willingly. Once we were outside the door, he asked, "Where do you want to go?"
I looked him right in the eye. "How about your place?"
I can't even begin to describe the feelings Michael aroused in my body that night. He was gentle, tender, rough, demanding. It was like he could read my mind. Hear my thoughts, my needs. God, he was amazing. Over and over and over again. I swear I saw stars.
No, really, actual stars. It was like I was flying through space. It was incredible. And I think Michael must have seen it, too. The wonder in his eyes as he held his body above mine. God, it was indescribable.
It was dawn when I curled my body against his to get some sleep. I don't know how long it was I slept. When I awoke -- ok, I wasn't all that awake, I'm not a morning person -- he was leaning over me on his elbow. Watching me.
His finger traced over my cheek. "Liz. There's something I need to tell you. After seeing those stars last night -- I don't want it to hurt you. Please don't freak out."
All I remember thinking was, Oh god, he's married. That's what all those silver rings are for.
"Liz, I'm an alien." His body was tense against mine. Waiting for my reaction.
An alien? Ok, that made sense. The Tabasco, the stars. I didn't get it though. Some people were babe magnets. I, it appeared, was an alien magnet. My voice was still a bit groggy from sleep. "S'ok. I won't tell anyone. You're safe here. We got rid of the Special Unit a few years ago."
"What?!" Michael yelled. I guess that wasn't the reaction he was expecting. He sat up abruptly. I did, too. I had to if I wanted to keep some of the covers. "What did you say about the Special Unit? How do you know about them?" He was looking at me with something akin to horror in his eyes.
"Relax. We destroyed them a few years ago. No traces."
Ok, this was a little tricky. How much to tell him without compromising Max and Isabel's secret? "Some, uh, friends of mine are aliens, too. From the crash in '47. I, we, spent several years looking into the crash. The special unit came after us but we were able to defeat them."
Michael had latched onto part of my answer. "There were others in the crash? I knew it! I knew I couldn't be alone. The other pods were empty when I got out. I was alone."
I explained the little bit I knew to Michael. I had seen the four pods in the chamber. Since Michael was alone, that meant there was one more alien wandering out there. I knew Max would want to know about this.
I leaned in to give Michael a deep kiss. I guess I was just destined to be with an alien. "C'mon. After breakfast and a shower, I'll take you to meet your brother." Michael started to ask more questions but I didn't really want to get into the weirdness factor just yet. I mean, I'd been dating his brother for six years.
I'm glad I had another day off after the chili cook-off. We got a little, uh, distracted during the shower and it was past noon before we made it back to the apartment.
Max was lounging on the couch when we got there. Kyle was nowhere in sight. Neither was any evidence of the ice cream fight. He looked up when we entered. His face was serious. "Liz, we need to talk."
"I know, Max, we do. But that can wait for the moment. There's someone I want you to meet." I grabbed Michael's hand and pulled him from the entryway where he was waiting. "Max, this is Michael. Michael, this is Max. Your brother."
Max jumped up from the couch. "My brother? Liz, are you serious?" He approached Michael warily.
I watched the two of them size each other up. Just like two animals staking territory. I guess males are all the same, human or alien. "I'll leave you two to talk. You have a lot to catch up on."
I grabbed the book I was currently reading, my journal, and my purse. This could take a while. "Call me on my cell phone when you guys are done. I'll buy you both dinner. And Kyle, too, if he wants to come."
Max whirled around to face me again and I realized I'd just given the poor boy too much information to process at once. "It's ok, Max. Really. I understand." He gave me a slow shy smile before he turned back to Michael.
Neither Michael nor Max have told me what they talked about that afternoon. I haven't asked. I know one of them will break; they'll want my help to find their fourth. Isabel was ecstatic when Max called to tell her the news. She'll be home later this summer to meet her long-lost brother.
There's a knock on the door and I lift my head from my hands. Oh god, I've just spent all this time talking to a mirror. I think that definitely qualifies me for therapy.
"Liz, it's Max." He opened the door and poked his head in. We still share the single bedroom; one of us is almost always spending the night elsewhere. "Michael's here."
"Tell him I'll be right out." It was a little bit of a shock to both of them, when the whole dating game thing came to light. Max has accepted my seeing Michael, and Michael just hasn't said anything about my time with Max.
I grabbed a light sweater from the closet and threw my purse over my shoulder. I took one last look in the mirror, to fix my make-up.
Therapy? Nah, I don't really need it. Besides, who would believe me?
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