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Kyle Valenti: Up to 104% Perfect

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Isobel eyes her makeup critically in the mirror and makes a miniscule adjustment to her lipstick before huffing and throwing the tube in the direction of the bathroom counter. She crosses her arms over her chest and presses her lips together hard, narrowing her eyes on her reflection. “This is ridiculous,” she murmurs, shaking her head.

 

It’s ridiculous that she’s so damn nervous about tonight. It’s not like she’s never been on a date before. In fact, she’s been on hundreds. Just… she’d thought she was done with first dates. Dates where you’re trying to feel each other out, where you suppress your feelings because you don’t want to come on too strong, scare the other person off.

 

She wasn’t supposed to have to do this ever again, except her husband turned out to be a manipulative, murderous psychopath. So here she is, getting ready for a first date, and on top of normal first date jitters, she’s also dealing with the overwhelming impulse to call it off because what if he turns out to be crazy too?

 

She grips her arms tightly, then relaxes her hands, grips and relaxes, grips and relaxes a few times before she takes a deep breath and exhales slowly through her nose. She picks up the tube of lipstick and places it precisely where it belongs in her makeup case. She eyes herself critically again and lets out a slow breath.

 

It’s going to be fine. He’s not crazy. He’s a nice, normal, human guy who knows what she is and can be trusted. She’s ready for this.

 

/

 

He rings the doorbell at seven exactly, though she’d heard him pull up ten minutes earlier. She waits ten seconds, hand hovering over the doorknob, before she opens the door, butterflies going wild in her stomach.

 

“Right on time, Dr. Valenti,” she says, tilting her head and smiling prettily at him. It’s been a while, but apparently some things come back fairly quickly.

 

Kyle’s eyebrows shoot up as he takes her in. He shakes his head as he lets out a slow breath and says, “You look amazing, Is.”

 

She tilts her chin up a little, mouth curved in a more genuine smile. “Thanks, though I’m sure I could have done better if you’d been more forthcoming about the venue…?”

 

He rolls his eyes and says, “Nice try, but you’ll find out soon enough.” He holds out his hand in invitation.

 

She rolls her eyes in return, but reaches out to place her hand in his, heart skipping a beat at the feel of his cool palm. “This better be good, Valenti.”

 

He squeezes her hand and says, “Have a little faith, Evans.”

 

/

 

She raises an eyebrow and turns to find him watching her, a guarded look on his face. “Really?” she says, slightly exasperated. Sure, she’s dressed appropriately, but…

 

He nods solemnly and says, “Really.” He waits for her to say something more, then sighs and shakes his head. “If you don’t want to do it, I have a backup option.”

 

Isobel narrows her eyes. “No, we’re staying,” she says definitively, opening her door and sliding out of the car.

 

He slides out and eyes her across the top of the car, grinning. “You’re gonna have fun, just watch.”

 

Isobel rolls her eyes again and waits for him to walk past her, hooking her arm through his as they make their way across the parking lot. “I haven’t been bowling since I was twelve,” she murmurs.

 

Kyle’s answering grin is blinding and she has to bite her lip to keep herself smiling too big in return. “You have to promise not to cheat, then.”

 

Isobel scoffs and says, “As if I would bother cheating at something as childish as bowling .”

 

Kyle stops in his tracks and pulls her around to give her a Look. Her lips twitch and she shakes her head, suppressing a smile. “Fine,” she says, sighing heavily. “I solemnly swear not to use my freaky alien powers to cheat.”

 

Kyle grins and nods. “Thank you. Now, shall we?”

 

/

 

Kyle wins the first game, but by then Isobel’s competitive nature bests any first date rules she might have had about playing it cool and letting him win. She soundly beats him the next round. The third game is a much closer call, but he beats her by fifteen points, and no matter what he says, she doesn’t pout about it.

 

After, they sit at a table near the arcade, eating pizza and nachos.

 

“Can I ask you something?” she says, and he gestures for her to continue. “Why did you bring me here for our date?” she asks, breath hitching on the last word.

 

If Kyle notices, he doesn’t mention it. He hums as he finishes chewing, swallows, and takes a deep breath before letting it out slowly. “I figured it wouldn’t have been something he took you to do, and I wanted the beginning of this,” he gestures between the two of them. “I wanted your memory of it to be something that was just for us, you know? No other awful associations allowed.”

 

Isobel freezes, surprised.

 

“Did it work?” he asks, eyes steady on hers.

 

She tilts her head as she looks at him and realizes she hasn’t thought of him all night. Her grin is slow, but her heart’s beating quickly in her chest. “Yeah,” she tells him. “Yes, it did.”

 

He smiles; the butterflies in her stomach go wild. “Perfect. Dessert?” he asks. She nods, and he leaves to order their milkshakes.

 

She watches him walk away and presses a hand to her heart, breathing slowly to calm it down. She remembers the ease with which they’ve talked tonight, and the way he’s been so respectful of her personal space.

 

She realizes the reason she hasn’t thought of him is because Kyle always makes her feel comfortable. Safe. After twenty years of looking over her shoulder, with Kyle, she knows she doesn’t have to, and that’s an addictive feeling.

Chapter Text

Maria raises a brow at the large plate of baked goods Kyle has proffered, then steps back and tilts her head in invitation. He lets out a long breath as he takes her up on her offer, heading straight to the kitchen. He sets the plate on the counter and works on pulling the seran wrap off while Maria pulls down small plates.

 

“You want to tell me why you’re so stressed?” she asks, turning to fill the kettle.

 

Kyle huffs and stops plating their cookies to turn to her and say, “You know, the psychic thing has never bothered me before, but I think it’s because it’s never been used against me.”

 

She rolls her eyes and turns on the stove, placing the kettle atop. “Kyle, I’ve known you for twenty-five years. I don’t need to be psychic to know when you’re stressed. The…” She looks at the plate and tilts her head consideringly. “The lemon bars, brownies, and chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies speak for themselves.”

 

Kyle crosses his arms over his chest. “And what do they say, Oh Wise One?”

 

Maria’s lips quirk and she shakes her head. “You’re struggling with something, and it’s making you anxious. You’ve procrastinated too long, so you’ve resorted to stress-baking to clear your mind. Something as complicated as your lemon bars mean it’s something big.”

 

She turns away to take care of the kettle when it starts whistling. “How do you know that?” he asks, and she can hear the pout in his voice.


She pours them both a mug of tea and leaves them to steep as she turns back to him. “Senior year, lemon bars as you were waiting for college acceptance letters. Sophomore year, oatmeal raisin cookies when you were gearing up to ask Liz out. Eighth grade, chocolate chip cookies when you were stressing about high school. Fifth grade, ‘celebration’ cupcakes that were really stress cupcakes when we were about to enter middle school.”

 

She opens her mouth to continue, but he leaps forward to cover it. “Okay, okay, okay, I see your point,” he says, scowling.

 

She shrugs and turns to grab their mugs, gesturing at him to bring their plates as she walks to the living room. “So, what’s it this time?”

 

He sighs heavily as he drops onto the couch and says, “Liz and Max want to have my mom over for dinner. As a meet-the-parents thing.”

 

Maria stares at him over the rim of her mug, mouth slightly open, mind blank. Finally she lowers the mug and says, “But Max works for your mom. And she’s known Liz since we were little.”

 

Kyle rolls his eyes and says, “I know. But they’re talking about it like a meet-the-parents-of-your-significant-other type of dinner.”

 

She presses her lips together hard and shakes her head. “But…” A baffled laugh escapes her and she lifts her shoulders in a silent question.

 

“I know ,” he says again, leaning his head back and shoving a whole brownie into his mouth.

 

Maria studies him quietly while he chews, trying to sort through the maelstrom of feelings he’s projecting throughout the room, starting with annoyance and ending with fear. Finally, when he seems to be ready to speak again she asks, “Are you out to your mom?”

 

Kyle rolls his head a little to make eye contact with her without having to lift his head. “Yeah. This isn’t about me being bi. It’s about me being in a relationship with two people, one of whom works for my mom, while the other is my ex from high school.”

 

She snorts and nibbles at one of her cookies. “Yeah, but you know she loves Liz, and I’ve only ever heard her say great things about Max.”

 

“You know that’s not what I’m saying, DeLuca,” he grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

She nods. “You’re afraid of your mother’s judgement when you tell her you’re in an unconventional relationship.”

 

He sighs and nods, closing his eyes. “I just don’t want to disappoint her, you know?” His eyes pop open again and he sits up straight, voice earnest as he says, “I mean, I love them, and even if my mom disapproved, I wouldn’t leave them, but.” His lips twist and he sighs. “You know?”

 

Maria nods and eyes him quietly, lips twitching. Finally she stands up and says, “You staying for dinner?”

 

His eyebrows scrunch in confusion at the non sequitur. She raises an eyebrow and waits patiently. Finally he says, “Sure?”

 

“Great. I’ve got some tamales I can reheat.” She leaves him alone in the living room to take care of their cookie plates while she pulls the tamales out of her fridge.

 

She can feel Kyle continuing to agonize over how to handle his mom while she cooks the rice and beans and reheats the tamales. She presses her lips together to keep from laughing out loud as she puts the finishing touches on their meal and places his plate in front of him.

 

He takes his first bite and pauses, head tilting to the side and eyebrows going up. “Maria,” he says after he swallows. “These are my mother’s tamales.”

 

Maria hums as she takes her own bite and nods. “Yeah,” she says mildly. “She dropped them off earlier, as an apology for talking my ear off the other night. Insisted, actually, even though it’s kind of a bartender’s job to listen to peoples’ woes when they come in to complain about how their sons won’t just tell them they’re in a relationship with their deputy and their ex-girlfriend.”

 

Kyle’s fork clatters onto his plate as he stares over at Maria, eyes wide. “What?”

 

Maria shrugs. “You’re not the only Valenti that stress-cooks.”

 

Kyle’s silent for a long time before he says tentatively, “And she sounded okay with it?”

 

Maria smiles and nods. “Though I still anticipate a full New York style cheesecake from one or both of you when you finally decide to move in with Max and Liz.”

Chapter Text

Liz’s sister is kind of a bitch, he’s learned. 

 

She’s always popping up whenever he and Liz are hanging out, butting in on their dates… Although, can they really be called dates if he hasn’t officially asked Liz out yet? Doesn’t matter, because he’d always planned on asking Liz to be his girlfriend one of the times they were hanging out, but of course, Rosa always seems to know when and where they are, and she always shows up, just when he’s finally working up the nerve to ask Liz… 

 

Worst of all is when she brings Maria and turns it into a group thing, like it’s just a friendly hangout for all of them. When she gives Liz the end seat-her favorite-at the movies and shoves Maria into the seat next to her before he can claim it. It’s like she knows he wants it to be a date, so she goes out of her way to make sure there’s no way it could be.

 

No, scratch that. The absolute worst is when she drags Alex out with them, too. Everyone knows they’re not friends anymore, and she’s always inviting Alex to hang out with all of them. What, like it will suddenly make him like Alex, if they’re forced to hang out all the time? Yeah, right.

 

When he finally starts going out with Liz for real, he gets the same number of icy glares from Rosa as from Liz’s dad.

 

Anyway, Kyle does not like Liz’s sister.

 

/

 

Liz’s sister kills herself and two of his classmates by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol one night a week before graduation.

 

He and Rosa had never really been friends, and he and Liz are broken up, so he doesn’t really know what he’s going to say to Liz when he sees her at Rosa’s funeral. He wouldn’t even bother going, actually, but his dad insists. Says he’s old friends with Rosa’s mother and wants to be there for the family, and that Kyle should go too, to show support for Liz, even if she did dump him in the middle of their prom.

 

So the morning of the service, he adjusts his tie in the mirror and practices what he’s going to say to Liz when he sees her. Sorry for your loss sounds too generic. His father probably expects better of him, though he’s been drinking a lot more the last few days, so is he really going to notice? Sorry your sister wasn’t as sober as you’d hoped? Sorry she was selfish and drove under the influence and killed herself?

 

He bites his lip and shakes his head, letting out a shaky breath. That’s his own issues with his dad’s drinking coming out to play. His bitterness fades the longer he thinks about how much Liz had loved Rosa, and what she must be feeling right now. He settles on, Sorry you lost your sister.

 

Doesn’t matter, though, because apparently Liz has already left town.

 

/

 

The night he finds out Rosa’s his sister, Kyle spends hours in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to remember the sound of her voice. 

 

He knows she liked to sing; karaoke with Maria at the bar, or with Liz and the jukebox at the Crashdown. He remembers one night where she sang along with Alex as he played a Counting Crows song while they all hung out after the restaurant closed. 

 

He remembers she and Arturo fought a lot, screaming matches that carried out of the kitchen into the main room of the diner where he sat with Liz, doing their homework.

 

Rosa was not a sit-down-shut-up type of girl. She was loud and in-your-face and one of the most outspoken people he’s ever met, but he can’t for the life of him remember what her voice sounded like.

 

He thinks it was low, smooth like a good whiskey, but he doesn’t know for sure. It had to have been just a little rough sometimes, given how much she smoked, but as he thinks back, Kyle can’t come up with a moment where he can remember something specific she said to him so he can try to grip the sound of her voice.

 

He turns on his side and punches his pillow, huffing as he realizes he never knew her that well, so it’s impossible to capture even the idea of what she might say to him.

 

His chest aches. He closes his eyes against the threat of tears.

 

/

 

Rosa’s silent while he takes her vitals. He needs to triple check her health since she’s been dead for ten years. He can feel her studying him as he watches the second hand on his watch, his breath unsteady as he tries to concentrate on counting her heartbeats.

 

“Jim told you,” she says; her voice is smooth and low.

 

He shakes his head, pressing his lips together, eyes fixed on his watch. “No.”

 

“But you know.”

 

He nods, keeping hold of her wrist a little longer than necessary; his sister’s pulse skitters under his fingers.

 

“When did you find out?”

 

He swallows and looks at her, sitting on Max’s couch across from where he sits on the coffee table. “A few months ago. Found a picture of you in a trunk in the sobriety bunker under Alex’s cabin. Dad’s old cabin,” he corrects at her cocked head.

 

Her lips twist and she nods, eyes steady on him. “Liz know?”

 

His breath hitches and he says, “I didn’t tell her.”

 

She huffs out a laugh. “You think I’d be mad at you for that? I was dead, wouldn’t have known.”

 

He shakes his head. Stops. Sighs. She’s back an hour and already he’s trying to please her. He opens his mouth. Shakes his head again. “You didn’t want her to know.”

 

She tilts her head, cocking her brow. “Trying to protect a dead girl’s pretty stupid, little brother.”

 

Kyle bursts out laughing. His sister is kind of a bitch, he’s remembering.

Chapter Text

When asked directly if he thinks Kyle Valenti is hot, Michael will deny-deny-deny until he’s blue in the face.

 

First of all, the guy’s a surgeon, okay? If weeks of binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy with Isobel after Noah’s ‘disappearance’ taught him anything, it’s that surgeons are cocky, selfish jerks, and that kind of personality is a total turn-off for him.

 

Second, he works out. Like, constantly. It’s like, newsflash, buddy! You don’t have to go to the gym and run three miles a day in order to be in shape! People who put that much effort into their appearance have got to be compensating for something, right?

 

And lastly-most importantly-he was a huge, homophobic dick to Alex in high school. And anyone who was a jerk to Alex in high school is obviously not all there, you know? And who wants to have sex with a crazy person?

 

“Sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Kyle Valenti and all the reasons why you shouldn’t be attracted to him,” Maria says mildly, pushing a glass of water toward him across the bar.

 

Michael jerks his gaze up from his empty glass of whiskey and squints, trying to get the blurry image of her to focus a little better. “What?” he says. “I didn’t say anything about being attracted to Valenti. You’re the one who asked me if I thought he was hot.”

 

Maria’s lips quirk and she shakes her head. “Actually, I asked if you knew where he was, because I needed to talk to him about something. You were the one who started going on and on about how not hot he is.” She glances behind him and tilts her head to the side, biting her lip in contemplation. “A statement with which I will have to strongly disagree, because those pants are doing wonders for his ass tonight.”

 

Michael clenches his teeth and his shoulders stiffen as he visibly works not to turn around to look at Kyle again, where he’s leaning over the pool table behind him, assets beautifully on display. “I don’t know what you mean,” he mutters, pulling the glass of water toward himself and downing it quickly.

 

Maria raises an eyebrow at him and waits until he puts the empty glass back down to say, “Your logic is flawed, though, and you know it.”

 

Michael doesn’t say anything, just frowns and pushes his water glass over to her. She rolls her eyes as she refills it and pushes it back to him.

 

Maria holds up a finger and says, “He’s not a cocky jerk and you know it. Everyone at the hospital loves him, staff and patients alike. And how about all the after-hours work he does on alien medicine for you guys? You think that’s the move of a selfish dick?”

 

Michael grumbles as he sips at his water, nose scrunching.

 

Maria continues, holding up two fingers. “Also, what’s wrong with keeping in shape? Going to the gym is not a crime, Guerin.” She glances over at Kyle again and sighs. “And I know it’s not because he needs to compensate for anything.”

 

Michael chokes on his water, spraying the bar in front of him as he coughs. Eyes watering, he says, “Wait, how do you know? Did you and Valenti…”

 

Maria reels back, nose scrunched up. “No, Liz never un-dibsed him,” she says. She leans in closer to him and lowers her voice, eyes lighting up mischievously. “However, she is surprisingly gossip-y about sex after a drink or two.”

 

Michael grimaces and takes another sip of his water. “Yes, I know, unfortunately enough.” He can’t ever unhear the things he heard about what his brother did to Liz the first time they had sex. Michael shudders and takes another, longer drink.

 

Maria places her hand on his, squeezing slightly until he looks up at her again. She has a small smile on her face when she says quietly, “And you know he and Alex have buried the hatchet, right? Kyle’s not the same guy he was in high school.”

 

Michael rolls his eyes and scoffs, though it’s more for show at this point. He does know all of this already. He knows Kyle’s a good person, kind and compassionate and principled.

 

When Maria turns away to serve another customer, he takes a quick peek over his shoulder. Kyle’s standing by the pool table, talking to one of his friends while he strokes his cue absentmindedly at his side. He throws back his head and laughs, his grip tightening around the stick, and Michael turns back to the bar and starts gulping his water again before he can follow that particular thought any further.

 

Yeah...If anyone asks, Valenti’s definitely not his type.

 

/

 

It’s been...many long, lonely months since she and Max quit being each others’ scratching posts, and Jenna’s body is screaming at her to get laid already. She is very much in need of orgasms, and her own hand is not doing it for her so much lately.

 

She’s at the gym. First because the kind of ass-kicking that’s been required of her lately necessitates her being able to run a six minute mile, as well as craftily dodge any large, telekinetically-thrown objects that may be hurled her way at any given moment.

 

God, her life has gotten weird since she came to Roswell.

 

But second, regularly working out has, in the past, helped her stave off extreme horniness. As an added bonus, she gets to watch-and sometimes even pick up-very fit men as they work out around her.

 

Take the guy across the way from her. He’s a prime specimen, from what she can see. Nicely muscled legs that lead up to an ass you could bounce a quarter off of. Ugh, and his back! The muscles in his back ripple continuously as he circles his shoulders to lift a set of kettlebells, and she licks her lips as she imagines licking her way across those shoulders.

 

The muscles in his arms strain against the sleeves of his tight black t-shirt, and she licks her lips as she imagines just pulling the shirt over his head. Freeing those muscles so the sweat can make them glisten under the bright white lights of the gym.

 

Judging by his back, and the types of exercises she’s watched him complete, she’s willing to bet he has abs for days, and pecs worth sinking her teeth into. However, she hasn’t been able to catch a glimpse of his face. He’s too far away, and there are no mirrors over by the weights, so she can’t covertly check out the entirety of this guy like she has with others. She grumbles to herself about it as she finishes her post-workout stretches and lifts her water bottle for a sip.

 

When the guy finally does turn around, she promptly spits out her mouthful of water, spraying the mat in front of her while she chokes on her own surprise.

 

Several people have turned to stare at her for her outburst, including the man she’s been ogling for the last fifteen minutes. She drops down to the mat, using her towel to clean up her mess while she avoids eye contact with everyone around her and prays Kyle goes back to his workout without giving her much notice; a direct contradiction to the lascivious thoughts she’d been having about him not five minutes before.

 

“Fuck,” she whispers, and resigns herself to another long, hot shower at home accompanied only by her vibrator.

 

Worst comes to worse, she’ll go to the Pony tonight and have Maria point out an easygoing local she can blow off some steam with; no need to muddy the waters by hooking up with another person in their weird little friend group.

 

/

 

Liz sighs heavily as she drops onto the couch in Kyle’s office, closing her eyes as she leans her head back on the cushion.

 

“You okay?” Kyle asks. She hears the clicking of his keyboard pause, the sound of his fork scraping the bottom of the tupperware container that contains his dinner.

 

She tries to pry her eyes open, but they just won’t budge. “Another unsuccessful trial of the enhancement serum. I just sent Michael home puking his guts out.”

 

“You wan’ me ‘o,” he pauses, swallowing so he can say, “You want me to come in again tomorrow, help you out with it?”

 

Liz snorts and does manage to pry her eyes open to look at him for that. “You’ve been here for three days straight. Finish your shift and sleep for twelve hours so one of us can have the benefit of a full night’s rest.”

 

He frowns, dropping his fork into the empty container and shaking his head. “I can survive on six and come back to help you.”

 

She lets herself slide down so she’s laying flat on the couch, all while maintaining eye contact with Kyle. “You’ll work yourself to death with that attitude,” she says, yawning. Her eyes drift shut again.

 

When she wakes up a few hours later, the office is dark. She’s tucked in under one of his grandmother’s throws and her shoes are placed neatly on the floor next to the couch. A quick flick of her wrist tells her she’s been out six hours-the longest she’s been able to sleep uninterrupted since Max went back into his pod. Kyle should be home by now, sleeping off his extra-long shift.

 

She groans as she sits up and stretches, wincing at the kinks in her shoulders and lower back. She’s been working nonstop on finding a way to bring Max back, and her body is starting to feel it. Still, there’s not much else for her to do except head back to her lab to work on the next batch of the serum, so that’s what she does.

 

A couple hours later, she startles when someone sets a large to-go cup next to her microscope as she’s looking through it. The scent of her dad’s special roast has her groaning and she inhales half the cup before she looks up and realizes Kyle’s the one who brought it.

 

“What are you doing back here?” she asks.

 

He shrugs and takes a sip of his own drink. “This is important to you, so it’s important to me.”

 

Tears spring to her eyes and she launches herself at him, burying her face in his neck as he wraps his arms around her. He feels warm and safe and comforting as hell. Plus… “You smell really good,” she whispers into his neck.

 

“It’s because I’ve showered in the last twenty-four hours. Can you say the same?” he whispers back.

 

She snorts and shoves him away from her, shaking her head and trying her best to suppress her smile in the face of his shit-eating grin. “You are such an asshole,” she says, turning back to her work.

 

He slides onto the stool next to her and says, “Yeah, but you love me.”

 

She sighs and says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

 

It’s true, though. Kyle’s the best, and if it weren’t for Max… Well, Kyle would be her ideal partner.  

 

/

 

Alex bites his lip as his eyes follow the bead of sweat that rolls down Kyle’s chest as he hammers another nail into place.

 

Without looking up, Kyle says, “You know, if I weren’t sure you were a hundred percent in love with another man, I’d be flattered by the attention, but as it stands…” He shrugs, smirking around the nail he’s holding between his lips.

 

Alex snorts a laugh as he looks up at Kyle’s downturned head, flexing his grip on his side of the dog house they’re putting together for Buffy. “What, you don’t like being objectified?” he asks.

 

Kyle rolls his eyes and shifts to place the last nail. “You know I don’t mind,” he says mildly, and starts hammering.

 

Alex waits until he’s done to ask, “Then what is it? Scared my boyfriend would kick your ass for trying to lure me away from him with your hot bod?”

 

Kyle groans as he straightens to a stand, rolling his shoulders and his hips to stretch out his back. Alex can’t help but let his eyes drift down Kyle’s torso again as he says, “If it were that easy, I’d have had you years ago.” He ignores Alex’s snort and eyeroll, flashing him a grin as he says, “No, if anything, you should be scared my girlfriend’s gonna kick your ass for ogling me like a prime piece of meat.”

 

Alex’s eyebrows shoot up and he says, “Girlfriend, huh? I didn’t realize you were seeing anyone.”

 

Kyle’s cheeks turn red and his gaze skitters down to Buffy’s completed dog house. “I mean, we haven’t officially put a label on it or anything, but we’re not seeing other people, and we’ve been out several times, so…”

 

Alex raises a brow and crosses his arms over his chest, tilting his head to the side to try to catch Kyle’s eyes.

 

Kyle finally looks back up and sighs. “What?”

 

“What’s her name?” Alex asks, exasperated.

 

Kyle presses his lips together and shakes his head. “I can’t tell you.”

 

Alex waits, eyeing him expectantly.

 

Kyle sighs and says, “We haven’t talked about what we’re telling people. She just got out of a rough relationship, and I know her well enough to know I can’t just go announcing it all round town all willy-nilly.”

 

Alex bursts out laughing at that. “ ‘Willy nilly’? And since when is telling me the equivalent of telling the whole town?”

 

Kyle shakes his head and rests his hands on his hips, eyes not quite meeting Alex’s. “Sorry, dude. I just...can’t tell you yet.”

 

Alex narrows his eyes at his tone: guilty and secretive and nervous. There’s really no reason for Kyle to be nervous to tell him who he’s seeing. The only possible person he might slip up to would be his boyfriend, who wouldn’t care at all about who Kyle was seeing unless…

 

Alex’s eyes widen and his eyebrows go up as he looks back at Kyle, assessing the possibility. “No way.”

 

Kyle’s brows come together as he meets Alex’s eyes again. “What?”

 

Alex presses his lips together and shakes his head, inhaling slowly through his nose as he thinks about it. Finally he exhales slowly and says, “Nevermind.”

 

Better to hold onto it for leverage...

 

/

 

There’s a woman who’s been getting steadily more drunk sitting at the bar, while the man sitting next to her has been nursing a single beer the entire evening. Maria doesn’t think the woman has noticed just how little her date has had to drink, compared to the multitude of high-proof drinks she’s consumed, but Maria has.

 

She makes eye contact with her bouncer, tilts her head so he knows to watch the pair as well. She’s going to cut them off in a minute, and call her cynical, but she doesn’t think the guy’s going to take it well. 

 

Her tense smile turns more genuine when Kyle slides onto the stool on the other side of the sketchy man. She continues watching the couple out of the corner of her eye, but says to Kyle, “What can I getcha, Doctor McSexy?”

 

He snorts and shakes his head. “I’m going to kill Isobel.”

 

Maria winks at him and shrugs. “The hazards of having a small friend group in a small town: nothing stays secret for long.”

 

Kyle rolls his eyes and taps on the bar. “How about a margarita?” She tilts her head, brow furrowed, and he says, “Indulge me?”

 

She nods, mixing his drink and catching up with him, glancing over at the sketchy man and his date every now and then.

 

She presents him his drink with a flourish and a smile, and he lifts it up in a toast. “Cheers,” he says. And then he dumps it down the sketchy guy’s back.

 

The man leaps up, shouting, and Maria shifts away from him in surprise. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees his date jump up in shock, sway, then reach out to steady herself on the bar.

 

“What the fuck!” Sketchy yells, face turning red as he yanks his jacket off. Droplets of Kyle’s margarita splatter over the bar and more of the stools.

 

Kyle leaps forward, snatching up Maria’s bar rag as he does so. “Oh, shit, I am so sorry!” he says apologetically. “Here, let me get that for you.” He reaches out for the jacket and starts running Maria’s filthy rag over it.

 

“Stop!” Sketchy yells, yanking the jacket out of Kyle’s hand.

 

“Oh, God,” his date says, covering her mouth with her hand. Sketchy turns back to her just as she pushes past him, racing for the bathroom.

 

Sketchy throws his arms up and glares over at Kyle, who winces in a believable show of remorse. “Sorry, dude,” he says. He looks down at the jacket and says, “You should probably get home to clean that. Lime mixer cannot be good for leather…”

 

Sketchy’s eyes widen as he looks back down at the jacket. “Fuck!” he yells, and then he runs for the door.

 

“Dish soap works great!” Kyle yells after him. The guy flips him off on his way out the door.

 

Kyle turns back to the bar and sighs, eyes wandering over the mess his margarita had created all over the floor and nearby stools. He looks up at Maria. “Where’s your mop?”

 

Her mouth snaps shut, and she snorts out a hysterical giggle before throwing her head back and letting loose with her laughter. When she looks back to him, he’s still standing there, earnestly waiting for the mop.

 

She shakes her head, then walks around the bar to pull him into a hug. “No mopping for you, Valenti. Heroes sit and enjoy a drink on the house.”

 

When she pulls back, his brow is furrowed. “But I made a mess in your bar,” he says.

 

She eyes the single spilled drink and shrugs. “Better a spilled margarita than a broken barstool, or a bouncer with a black eye. I’m pretty sure he would have thrown a fit when I cut his date off.”

 

Kyle glances over toward the bathroom. “Speaking of, would you mind going to check on her? She wasn’t looking too hot. It’s why I came over here.”

 

She smiles and gestures him to sit down while she goes in to check on the drunk woman.

 

Maria leads the woman back out to the bar a few minutes later and watches as Kyle talks to her gently, keeping up a friendly conversation while he presses a glass of water on her. She watches him lead the slightly more sober woman out to an Uber a while later, then fidget back in his seat at the bar while he waits for confirmation that she’s been dropped off safely. 

 

Maria places another glass of water in front of him and says, “You know, if you weren’t still dibsed to Liz, I would not hesitate to lay one on you for the way you handled all that right now.”

 

Kyle rolls his eyes and places his phone down on the bar, face up so he can continue to watch for notifications. “Should I start with the fact that eleven-year-old dibs don’t count, or that I’m already seeing someone?”

 

She tilts her head, lips quirking. “First, dibs never expire, and second…” She meets his eyes, reaching her senses out to him, feeling his genuine happiness and contentment. She sighs, only a little disappointed, then smiles. “Good for you. Whoever she is, she’s a very lucky woman.”

 

/

 

It’s Isobel’s wedding anniversary, and everyone is making a point to try to make her forget about it. 

 

It starts with Max, who spends the day with her while she runs errands and tours a few venues for some upcoming events. They have dinner together at the Crashdown before his shift, at which point Liz takes over and drags her to the Wild Pony for drinks. Michael shows up a little while later, followed by Alex and Kyle, then Jenna.

 

If she weren’t already hyper aware of what they were trying to do, the fact that Maria closes the bar early and lets them all stay would be a major red flag. Still, she just rolls her eyes and lets them think they’re being covert about keeping an eye on her today.

 

Liz takes over the sound system and a throwback mix from high school fills the bar. There’s shots, and dancing, and shots, and karaoke, and a lot of shots. She’s not drinking as much as the others, but she does have fun scream-singing along to Fall Out Boy with Alex and grinding with Liz on the dance floor. Michael even pulls her into a godawful tango at one point, sending her into a fit of giggles. The night continues on in much the same way, and her sides hurt from laughing too much as the day of her anniversary comes to a close.

 

She’s taking a breather on one of the barstools, sipping her water and clearing her head, when Kyle drops onto the seat next to her. “You doing okay?” he asks, shifting so their arms brush while he takes a sip of his water.

 

Isobel suppresses the shudder that goes down her spine and rolls her eyes. “I’m fine. You guys don’t have to worry so much.”

 

Kyle nudges her and shakes his head. “I know, but it doesn’t hurt to spend a potentially bad day with the people who care about you. That’s all this is.” He gestures around to their group of friends: Maria and Jenna laughing through a passable swing dance, Michael scrolling through Liz’s phone to pick the next song, and Liz and Alex standing several feet away from them, heads bent together as they talk quietly.

 

Isobel narrows her eyes on them, curious what could put such a shocked look on Liz’s face. Alex’s eyes flicker over to her and Kyle at the bar, and there’s a wicked gleam in them. That’s his shit-stirring face, and his targets are undoubtedly her and Kyle. Isobel freezes, holding her breath as Liz’s jaw drops at whatever Alex is saying, her eyes widening as she looks over at them too.

 

“What?” Liz says, loud enough that Michael, Maria, and Jenna stop what they’re doing to look over at her. She’s already walking over to Isobel and Kyle, eyes flickering between them. She stops in front of Kyle, eyes fixed on him, and says, “You stripped to pay for med school?”

 

Kyle’s eyes widen in surprise, then narrow as he swings his head over to glare at Alex. “You told her?” Isobel hears Maria stifle a gasp and Jenna a giggle, but her focus is still on Alex.

 

Alex shrugs, not looking apologetic at all as he says, “It slipped out?” Isobel narrows her eyes on him, wondering what he’s up to.

 

Kyle huffs out a laugh and rolls his eyes, focusing back in on Liz as he nods and says, “Yeah, I did.” He takes a drink and explains, “It paid really well.”

 

Liz takes a step back, looking him up and down with a critical eye, then says, “Yeah, I believe that.”

 

Kyle laughs and finishes his drink, then stands up and moves behind the bar to refill his glass. “Thanks, I guess?”

 

Maria holds up her hands and steps forward, saying, “Wait, wait, wait. You can’t just drop information like that on us and not give us a demonstration, Valenti.”

 

And there it is, Isobel thinks. Alex’s smile widens as he crosses his arms over his chest, smug grin conveying this was exactly what he’d been aiming for, though she has no idea why.

 

She swings around on her stool to look at Kyle, one eyebrow raised; he’s already looking at her, glass frozen on the way to his mouth. She keeps her face blank, waiting for him to say something.

 

Finally, he takes a quick sip and shakes his head. “No, I don’t think that’s a very good--”

 

“I’m sure your girlfriend won’t mind,” Alex says mildly.

 

Her nails dig into the bar at that, and her lips press together harder. She’s going to kill him. From behind her, she hears startled gasps, “What?”s, and a, “Valenti has a girlfriend?” from Michael.

 

Kyle’s eyes flick to hers again, and he tilts his head just a little in question. She shakes her head no, just as subtly, then sends the bare hint of a question straight into his mind. He flicks his eyes over toward Alex and his lips quirk. He conveys a positive response to her.

 

She takes a deep breath and says, “Yeah, Valenti. If you’re okay with it, I’m sure your girlfriend wouldn’t mind.” She swings back around and meets Alex’s eyes, eyebrow raised in challenge.

 

He rolls his eyes in return, then splutters when Michael says, “Great! I get to pick the song!” He starts scrolling through Liz’s phone again, grin evil.

 

Kyle rounds the bar again and says, “Have fun with that, Guerin.” He points to Alex and says, “Meanwhile, the asshole best friend is gonna help me clear a space for my act.”

 

Alex rolls his eyes but complies, helping Kyle move some of the tables out of the way while Maria, Jenna, and Isobel create a curving line of chairs for the audience. Isobel can’t hear exactly what they’re saying, but she sees Kyle punch Alex in the shoulder and can hear Kyle’s exasperated tone as he chews Alex out. She just rolls her eyes and plops herself down in the chair on the end of the row, waiting for Michael to pick a song so Kyle’s act can start.

 

Alex drops into the chair next to her and opens his mouth to say something, but Michael cackles with glee as he sits on his other side, and his chosen song starts playing throughout the bar. Jenna laughs while Liz and Maria lean on each other in hysterical giggles, cheering.

 

Kyle rolls his eyes as he steps into the middle of the cleared space, flipping Michael off even as he rolls his hips in a circle as he turns in place.

 

Isobel’s eyes travel down him slowly, taking in the elegant curve of his back and ass as he rolls his hips again. The view gets even better when the songs gets to, “I’m too sexy for my shirt,” and he strips his own off. 

 

Liz, Maria, and Jenna all let out whoops and giggles. She doesn’t know what Michael’s reaction is, because her eyes are glued to Kyle, but she can feel Alex’s eyes on her.

 

Kyle turns away from them and rolls his hips again, and his jeans hug his ass in just the perfect way, Isobel can’t help but lick her lips. Then he turns around, eyes locking on her as he trails his hand down his chest, thrusting his hips in time with the beat of the song.

 

He turns again, wrenching his eyes from hers to smile sexily over at the others, and her eyes lock on a bead of sweat as it trails down his back. His movements are fluid and carefully controlled as he continues to dance for them. Sexy. She bites down hard on her lip as she watches the way the muscles in his shoulders flex with each movement, then has to breathe in through her nose when he turns again and she sees him unbuttoning his pants.

 

“Fuck,” she breathes out when he finally loses them. He continues to sway and thrust along to the music, and Isobel swallows hard, eyes drawn down to the front of his very aptly named briefs. She clears her throat and jerks her gaze back up to his face, where she sees him smiling at her as sways his hips and moves closer.

 

He raises a single brow, checking to make sure it’s still okay, and she sends back a resounding yes!, straight into his head. His smile widens as he eases forward, draping his arms over her shoulders as he nearly drops into her lap.

 

She barely registers Michael’s sound of disgust and Alex’s surprised laugh, but mostly she’s focused on her boyfriend’s warmth, the faint smell of his sweat and the hot puffs of air he breathes into her hair while he thrusts his body over hers. Her breath stutters when she feels his cock brush up against her stomach, once, twice, and then he’s practically just sitting there, pressing himself into her while his hands trail down her arms, sending a shiver down her spine.

 

“Jesus,” she chokes out into his shoulder, and then she feels him shaking with laughter.

 

He pulls back and leans down, pressing his forehead to hers. “You wanna get outta here?” he whispers, pressing his lips to her cheek in a soft kiss.

 

She inhales sharply and nods, pushing him off of her and standing to turn to their friends. Michael looks like he’s about to hurl, which serves him right. Alex just looks smug, and she rolls her eyes; she’ll figure out a way to get back at him later. Jenna looks impressed, while Liz looks like she wants to jump up and start clapping for them. Maria’s just smiling softly as she looks at the two of them.

 

Isobel sighs and says, “I’m going to take my boyfriend home for a private, repeat performance. Please don’t contact either of us for at least 48 hours.”

 

Kyle clears his throat, and she looks over to see he’s put his pants back on, and his shoes, but his shirt’s bunched up in one of his hands. The other hand is held out in her direction, open and waiting. She smiles at him and puts her hand in his, squeezing it tightly as they head out the door-- together.

Chapter Text

“Emergency meeting at location two ASAP. And by that I mean, leave work immediately and get your ass over here. There’s been a new development courtesy of my dumbass brother that cannot wait.”

 

Kyle’s eyebrows rise as he deletes the voicemail by habit, then moves onto the next one as he changes out of his scrubs and back into his jeans.

 

“Nobody’s dying, but Isobel’s right. It would be best if you got here as quickly as you can. We may need to delay the plan. Also, I think I’ve talked Guerin down, but I could really use your help before one of the twins kills the other.”

 

He sighs and shakes his head as he deletes the second voicemail, then grabs his bag and heads for Alex’s cabin.

 

/

 

“What’s the big emergency?” he asks as he walks in. He stops dead, eyes wide, when he sees the staredown between Isobel and Max in the living room. Alex is sitting in his chair, laptop open on the arm. Michael’s pacing back and forth behind him, eyes on the twins.

 

Isobel’s lips are pressed tight together as she looks over at Kyle, nostrils flaring slightly. Max is hunched in on himself, biting his lip as he looks guiltily around the room.

 

“My idiot brother exposed himself to Liz Ortecho,” Isobel snarls, arms crossed tightly over her chest.

 

Kyle’s eyebrows go up. He hadn’t thought Liz would be coming back for their reunion. As for the other thing… “I’m guessing by ‘exposed himself’ you’re not meaning in the sexy way?”

 

“Kyle!” Michael and Alex say together, with varying degrees of exasperation.

 

“I will turn your brain into jello,” Isobel growls.

 

He shrugs away her threat; she says that at least five times a day. He raises a brow and turns to Max, waiting for his explanation.

 

“She was dying!” Max says tiredly; this isn’t the first time it’s been said.

 

“What happened?” Kyle asks, dropping his bag by the door and heading for the couch.

 

Max runs his hand through his hair and says, “I was at the Crashdown to see Liz. Your mom and I had seen her at a DUI checkpoint on the way into town, and--”

 

“Skip to the relevant part,” Isobel says, rolling her wrist to move the story along.

 

Max glares at her then looks back at Kyle. “Someone shot up the Crashdown after closing. Liz was hit.” He swallows, looking down at his hands. “One second she was smiling up at me, and the next she was bleeding out on the floor. I couldn’t just…” he shudders, then looks back up at Kyle and shrugs. “I couldn’t just let her die.”

 

Kyle nods even as he sighs, thinking about how this will complicate things. Finally he looks back at the others, “How long until the handprint shows up?”

 

Michael shrugs and looks down at his watch. “It varies, but it could be there already, and if she goes to the hospital to get it checked out…”

 

Kyle nods and looks over at Alex. “Have you talked to my dad yet?”

 

Alex shakes his head. “Haven’t been able to get ahold of him, which means he’s already in position.”

 

Shit . Kyle nods, looking down at the floor and thinking through their options. If he were at the hospital, he could intercept her before she saw anyone else about the handprint, but as it stands… He shakes his head and looks back at the others. “I can’t go back tonight without staying for another shift, it would look too suspicious. Dad’s expecting me by two.”

 

“That’s why we’re here,” Alex says. “We need to decide if we need to put this off so we can deal with the Liz thing. The next time we could conceivably do it would be the Night at the Drive-In event for the V.A. Dad can’t miss that one.” Alex tilts his head and says, “But if we wait, we can take care of this Liz thing, and I would be able to go with you that night, as on-site backup.”

 

Kyle’s eyebrows rise and he says, “You doubting your teaching skills, Captain?”

 

Alex rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “No. We’ve run it enough times, I have no doubt you can take the system down safely on your own. I just don’t like the idea of the two of you in there alone, without any backup.”

 

“We won’t be alone,” Kyle says for about the millionth time. “We’ll have several aliens with us who are back up to nearly full health. I’m friends with one of them. ” He smiles a little, remembering her no-nonsense tone when she’d informed him she’d be acting as his backup, so she could be sure he actually got out with them.

 

His smile fades; he’d promised her he’d finally be getting her and her family out, and now this… He swallows and looks over the others, shaking his head. “No, they’ve all waited long enough. We’re not putting this off.”

 

Isobel’s shoulders drop in relief, as do Michael’s. Max nods, biting his lip, hands resting on his hips. “What are we gonna do about Liz?” he asks them.

 

Isobel snarls and throws up her arms, turning away from him to begin pacing. Max’s gaze shifts to Michael, and down to Alex. He looks back at Michael, an eyebrow raised. Michael places his hand on Alex’s shoulder and squeezes. Alex lifts his hand to rest on top of Michael’s. “You should tell her the truth,” Michael says quietly. 

 

Isobel stops pacing to glare at him, pressing her lips together hard before crossing her arms over her chest and staring down at the floor. But she offers no argument.

 

Max lets out a slow breath, nodding his thanks to Michael before he heads for the door, and Liz.

 

Just as he’s opening the door, Kyle says, “I’ll bring everyone straight here once we’re out. Come when you can. Mara’s been looking forward to meeting all of you.”