Disclaimer: Other people own Roswell, not me.
Distribution: Guilty Pleasures, American Pie, and the RSA. All others please ask first.
Summary/Characters: Post-Departure. Alex/Kyle, and Liz. Based on a mix of my own A/K fics and on Livia's amazing "Too Well". Minor Dreamer overtones.
Author's Note: Apologies for the anti-Tess bent. She *did* have some very nice qualities, but right now I'm too annoyed with her to be overly favorable. Come back later and I'll try again. Also, I'm going to assume/pretend that Valenti is Sheriff again.
Feedback: Yes please. Both positive and constructive remarks are fine.
"Look, I'm sorry to do this to you, but we just had a major incident down at the station tonight and I'm going to have to stay late to handle it."
"That's ok," Kyle sighed in resignation. What else could he say?
"I just heard about what happened with Tess and the Evans kids and the others," his father went on. "This must be a shock to you, especially the part about Alex. I'm pretty stunned myself right now. Are you going to be all right?"
"Yeah, Dad. I'll be fine."
"You sure?" Kyle heard his father hesitate on the other end of the line, clearly torn between wanting to do right by his son and needing to rebuild his image as the responsible Sheriff. And there was something more, Kyle could hear it in his voice. Sadness. Another female had betrayed the Valenti household.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll catch you later."
"Thanks, Son. I'll be home as soon as I can."
Kyle hung up the phone and slumped onto the sofa. Listlessly he picked up the remote, trying not to remember the day Tess had tricked him into thinking he was the one controlling the airwaves. There really wasn't anything interesting on TV, but he kept channel surfing through ESPN games, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and legal dramas until, at 11pm, he decided he might as well just go to bed. He got off the sofa and headed down the hall. For the first time in seven months, he would be able to sleep in his own room for a change.
Liz had just collapsed wearily onto her bed when she heard the tapping at her window. Max, she supposed, coming back to talk to her some more, to rehash their misunderstandings from the past year. She bit back a groan. She wanted things to heal with the two of them, really she did, but there was only so much upheaval she could handle in one day. Surely he could wait until tomorrow.
Determined, Liz went over to her window and pulled up the blinds, ready to gently but firmly send Max back to his own house. But it wasn't Max on the other side of the glass. It was Kyle. Kyle, looking beaten and weary and heartsore like she had never seen him before.
"Liz?" Kyle's voice cracked a little. "Can I Can I stay here tonight?" He had his sleeping bag tucked under one arm.
Startled, Liz nodded. She stepped back and let him climb through the window, then led him to her bed where they both sat. "What happened?" she asked in a small voice, when Kyle didn't seem inclined to produce anything other than small shuddery breaths.
"I I just don't want to be alone tonight," Kyle admitted. "Dad had an emergency down at the station, and I when I tried to go to bed " he trailed off.
"Go on," she encouraged.
Kyle breathed in deeply, trying to steady himself. "I figured I would sleep in my old room, now that *she* was gone." He spat the word out. "I can't believe I slept on the sofa for seven months, gave up all my privacy, for Well, anyway, I went into my room, but I couldn't get past the doorway. All I could see was him."
Liz didn't have to ask which "him" Kyle was referring to. There was only one person it could be. She remembered how horrified she'd been when she thought Kyle would die in front of her eyes, but once Max had saved Kyle, the memory lost its nightmare potential. But what if things hadn't gone so well? That would have been awful. "I'm sorry," she murmured.
Kyle went on, staring blankly ahead, clearly reliving the moment in his mind. "I saw him reflected in my mirror, I saw him pacing insanely around the room begging her to stop. And I--" Kyle swallowed hard "--I saw him on the floor. I remember everything now, Liz. God, Alex *died* in my room. How am I supposed to ever be able to sleep there again?"
Liz put her arm around Kyle sympathetically. "Maybe you could ask your dad to switch?" she offered tentatively.
"Maybe," he mumbled, shoulders slumped. Something else seemed to be bothering him.
"Kyle?" she prodded.
The blue-eyed boy turned his gaze on Liz. "You were his friend for a long time, right? Now that you know what happened to him, do you think the Alex we saw was real?"
Liz stopped to consider. "I don't know," she admitted. "He seemed real, most of the time, anyway. Real enough. Why?"
A tear trickled down Kyle's cheek and he wiped it away angrily. "Because," he choked out, "I'm afraid that the person I loved wasn't real at all."
"L-loved?" Liz was stunned. Did she understand correctly? "You mean Alex?"
Kyle nodded mutely.
"When?" How had she missed this?
"It started when we were stuck in that cave of alien crystals," Kyle murmured. "We had nothing to do but talk, and we just connected." He glanced up into her wide brown eyes. "And then, at Las Vegas, we, um "
"I get it," Liz interrupted hastily. Then she recovered. Look at the big picture, Parker. Friend in pain here. "Wow. I had no idea. Who else knows?"
"Just my dad. And now you."
Liz was touched by the implied trust. "And you loved Alex? Did he love you?"
"I think so." Then he grimaced. "Or I thought so. But now I don't know what to think. If Alex was being mindwarped all that time, then who was he? Was he Alex? Was he someone else? Was he Tess?" Kyle jumped up and started pacing the room. "I feel like our entire relationship was a lie!" he shouted. "I've had the worst luck in the past. Vicki, Tess. You." He glanced down at her stricken face. "No offense, Liz."
She nodded. He had a point, after all.
"And then I finally found someone who gave his all, who understood me, and I 'got' him. You'd never think it, would you?" Kyle gave a short, bitter laugh. "The jock and the computer nerd. But it worked. It worked so well ." He crumpled back on the bed and put his head in his hands. "And it was all a lie. It wasn't real." His shoulders shook.
Liz put her arm around him again, then scooted back on the bed so they were nestled against her pillows.
"I lost him twice, Liz," Kyle choked out against her shoulder. "Maybe three times. I saw him die, but didn't remember it until today. And I can't *believe* she made me help her carry his--" Kyle cut off the thought abruptly. "Anyway, then there was the death I remembered. You know those tickets you found? We'd made plans to see a concert for my birthday." He managed a small smile. "Some stupid folk singer he admired." Then Kyle sobered again, biting his lip. "And now it's like I lost him all over again because I don't know who he really was."
Liz thought a moment. "It's possible that the Alex you knew isn't the same one I grew up with," she conceded. "But I still think what you had was real. The only personality you really knew was the one you saw after 'Sweden,' right?" Kyle gave a small nod. "And that's the one you loved. So that's real. And--" Liz twirled a lock of hair around her finger contemplatively, "--I don't think it would have occurred to Tess that you or Alex would find love in each other. She was too focussed on getting home to notice anything else, so she wouldn't have known to mindwarp his feelings like that. So I think whatever emotions Alex produced -- those would have been real, too."
Kyle sniffed once. "Maybe."
They lay in comfortable silence for a while until the sound of Kyle's slow, even breathing told Liz he'd fallen asleep. Rather than wake him to insist he take his sleeping bag, Liz let him stay where he was, curled up next to her on the bed, almost desperately clutching at her shirt hem. She pulled the blanket up over them and settled back, reflecting on the last time they'd been like this together. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet Liz was still haunted by the memory. That incident, too, had been prompted by something related to Tess. Because of Tess, Liz had nearly lost the love of her life, and Kyle had lost his -- more than once, as he'd pointed out.
Liz allowed herself to drift off, giving Kyle another soothing pat as she closed her eyes. One thing she was sure of. She would find some way to reach Tess and make her pay for what she had done to Kyle, to all of them. Liz knew the others might scoff and say it was impossible, but they had thought the same thing about her investigation into Alex's death. She had overcome that supposed impossibility. She would do so again.
All was not lost.
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