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and i wonder if this will all work out (can't tire of thinking about you)

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one.

Alex laughs, leaning into Michael’s side, his hand on Michael’s knee as he tries to keep himself upright, and he knows the touch was probably done without thinking, but it’s at that moment that Michael feels like the entire world shifts on its axis.

Alex is too close and Michael can smell him, like deodorant and laundry detergent and fading cologne

Alex smiles, wide and warm, and Michael thinks oh as his brain short circuits.

He takes too long to say something or to look away because Alex’s smile starts to dim and he leans away from Michael, snatching his hand back like Michael’s knee had suddenly caught fire.

He looks like he’s two seconds from standing up and joining the others over at the picnic table, so Michael reaches out automatically, wrapping his fingers around Alex’s wrist.

Alex’s gaze drops immediately to where Michael is keeping his hand trapped against the wooden bench they’re sitting on, and then he drags his eyes up to Michael’s face brow furrowed.

Michael opens his mouth to say something, but there is the sound of a car screeching to a stop and then Isobel is yelling for him and Max to hurry up or they’ll be late.

Alex pulls away from him then, and Michael stands up, turning towards him.

Alex inhales deeply and looks back to Michael opening his mouth to say something, but Michael cuts him off.

“So, I guess I’ll see you around?” Michael asks, lingering even though Isobel is telling him to hurry up from the open car window.

Alex tilts his head at Michael, eyes narrowed like he doubts his intentions.

Michael just licks his lips and waits for an answer. He needs to see Alex again, needs to know if this feeling that sparked inside of him was a one time thing, nerves over meeting someone new or if it was something else, something more.

Alex’s lip twitches higher on one corner, and he raises the hand not wrapped around the bottle of beer that they’d been sharing, and sends Michael a mock salute, waving his fingers a little.

Michael just takes that as a yes, smiling widely at Alex, whose eyes go slightly shocked before he turns and runs towards the car as Isobel starts beeping the horn.

He gets into the backseat of the car, closing the door behind himself and only then does he dart a look back at Alex to see him sporting a sweet smile as Maria and Rosa lean on either side of him, speaking in a way that looks teasing.

As Max pulls the car away from where it was parked next to Rosa’s car, Alex looks over and catches Michael’s eye.

His smile widens marginally, and Michael keeps staring at him until he can’t see him anymore.

* * *

Alex is only in Roswell for the summer, and while Michael would love to monopolize all of his attention, Alex had come to spend time with the Ortechos and the DeLucas.

Friday nights though, Alex comes to him looking serious, and the first time Michael had asked him what was wrong, Alex had just told him that he didn’t want to talk about it.

So Michael never asked again.

Alex shows up and demands to be taken to one of Michael’s favorite spots in Roswell, and they drive in the dark streets, with the windows down, the warm summer breeze rustling through their hair.

Michael keeps his eyes on the road, but when they stop at the odd stop light, Michael turns to look at him, to see the way he’s leaning against the door, looking up at the stars, a sad and lost kind of look on his face.

Sometimes they sneak into the movie theater or Michael takes him to the arcade and shows him how to rig the machine to give you free tokens, and sometimes they go somewhere quiet and still where they can lie back and look up at the stars or sit together in silence that isn’t at all stifling.

It’s one of those nights, where they’re laid back in the back of Michael’s truck, and Michael has resigned himself to the fact that he will spend most of the night staring at Alex instead of the stars, when Michael realizes that he wants to kiss him.

The feeling curls though him pleasant and sweet and it fills him up with warmth.

Alex exhales slowly then and turns to look at him, and inhales sharply when he notices that Michael is looking at him.

His eyes widen in surprise, and his lips part on an exhale.

Michael can’t help the way his gaze drops to Alex’s mouth.

They’re not that close, not close enough that Michael can just lean in and kiss him, but the distance isn’t all that great either. Michael wouldn’t have to move much.

He looks back up into Alex’s eyes, to see that Alex is also looking at his mouth, but when his eyes dart up to Michael’s there is something that looks a lot like fear lurking in his irises.

Michael swallows hard, and he wants to ask Alex what’s wrong, but before he can, Alex is turning away from him to look back up at the stars. 

“Tell me something you’ve never told anyone else,” he whispers in a low voice, his tone begging Michael not to ask.

Michael swallows hard again, and this time he turns to look up at the stars soon.

“Everyone thinks that when my dad left us, he did it with us knowing,” Michael starts, and he can feel the way that Alex jolts next to him like he wasn’t expecting a story that personal.

“But we didn’t know anything was wrong. There had been a few weeks where he’d been getting mad irrationally, and just plain mean at times, and not really like himself, but mom had thought that it was all to do with him losing his job, and so we just dealt with it, and then one day I got home from school and it was like if he’d done a one eighty over night.

He tried to help me with my homework and cooked dinner and even took us out to get ice cream, and it was the best time that we had together as a family in a long time. I thought that things were going back to the way that they were. I had even caught them dancing when I was heading to my room after brushing my teeth, right in the middle of the hall downstairs, and they had kissed, and I was really happy.”

Michael can feel Alex’s gaze right on the side of his face, but he just continues gazing up sightlessly at the stars.

“And then I woke up, and he was gone, leaving everything behind, almost as if he’d disappeared into thin air.”

He stop speaking and just continues to look up at the stars, counting his breaths.

He stutters on number twelve as he feels a gentle touch at the back of his hand, and then Alex’s fingers are sliding through his, weaving them together and holding on tight.

Michael swallows hard, and squeezes Alex’s fingers wordlessly.

Alex inhales carefully. “Every Friday night I have to have dinner at my dad’s house. Two hours of eating bland tasteless food and listening to all of the ways that I am an embarrassment to the Manes name and how disappointed he is that I am his son, so don’t think that I’ll judge you for talking bad about your father.”

Michael just squeezes their hands together tighter, but he doesn’t say anything else.

* * *

Alex appears the next Friday earlier than ever before, and his bottom lip is split open.

There is a guitar strapped to his back and he looks at Michael in the eye and asks him to go for a drive, voice a bit stilted.

Michael just nods his head and tells his mom he’s going out, saying yes when she tells him that he needs to be back home in time for dinner.

Michael drives them out to Fosters in complete silence wanting nothing more than to ask Alex what happened, but everytime he glances at Alex he seems to be more and more closed off, and Michael wonders if he would prefer to be alone.

He stops the truck right inside of the sign announcing they are in Fosters Homestead Ranch, stopping so suddenly that they both rock forward.

Alex turns to look at him, and Michael just inhales deeply and then turns towards him.

“I can’t just not ask you what happened,” he says, and Alex furrows his brow.

“You’re my f-friend,” he continues, stuttering over the last word. “And when you’re obviously hurt, I want to help.”

Alex blinks his wide eyes at him, and clears his throat looking away briefly before he looks back at him, a small sad smile on his lips.

“There really isn’t anything that you can do to help, Guerin, but thanks.”

Michael opens his mouth again, but Alex just turns and opens the door and slides out of the truck, taking his guitar with him.

He doesn’t slam the door shut, but Michael shuts his eyes and keeps them closed as he feels the truck moving as Alex lowers the tailgate and sits down.

He inhales deeply and tries not to feel like the deflection was a personal thing. 

He and Alex barely know each other. But still, it feels like they’ve known each other forever. Or maybe it just feels that way to him.

He’s planning on giving Alex his space, but he hears him playing the guitar and it calls him outside almost like a siren song. He doesn’t realize that he’s moving until he’s leaning against the side of the truck, elbows propped on the edge, staring at Alex.

Alex is looking down at his hands, carefully picking out a melody, and it’s only then that Michael sees how bloody his hands are. One of his knuckles is even bleeding freely.

Michael bites his lip down on the question and clears his throat.

“You’re doing that wrong,” he says, and Alex looks up at him startled like he can’t believe that Michael just said that.

Michael moves around the side and drops down on the tailgate, taking the guitar out of Alex’s hands, which he gives up easily.

Michael settles the guitar on his lap, and starts to tune it, ignoring Alex who sighs loud and exaggerated.

The guitar wasn’t that out of tune, and Michael turns to Alex once he’s done, who is just watching him with a soft amused look on his face.

Michael licks his lips, “Any requests?”

Alex grins widely, “How about through the glass?”

Michael furrows his brow in confusion and Alex laughs, bright and happy and not at all mean.

“How about you play me a song that you know?”

Michael licks his lips and sets his hands back on the frets and starts to play the intro to Maria Maria and Alex laughs again, this time much more delighted, and he jumps off the tailgate, making Michael freeze.

“No keep playing,” he says grinning and standing right in front of Michael. “I love this song. Or well, Maria loves this song and forced me and Liz to listen to it constantly when it came out.”

His cheeks flush a little bit and he looks away from Michael.

Michael tries to think of what could possibly be cause of embarrassment and a slow smile stretches across his face as he realizes what could be making him blush.

“She taught you some moves didn’t she?”

Alex just turns back to him, glaring a little, “Just play the song, Guerin.”

Michael just keeps smirking, but he sets his fingers back down on the fretboard and starts to play the song, keeping the beat by kicking his foot against the back tire of the truck.

Alex starts to sing, low at first and then getting stronger as the song goes on, swaying his hips a little, and Michael is familiar enough with the song, that he doesn’t need to look at where he’s moving his fingers, and even if he wasn’t, it’s not like he can actually look away from Alex if he wanted to.

The setting sun plays backdrop as he moves, lifting his hands over his head and swaying his hips, and spinning around. He does a complicated move involving his hands and feet that Michael will never be able to replicate, even with practice. 

Michael swallows hard and just watches him go through the motions, so mesmerized that he forgets to keep playing the song.

Alex doesn’t notice it right away, and once he does, he turns to look at Michael with wide eyes, like he’d gotten caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to do.

“Sorry,” Michael says, and clears his throat a few times when the word comes out wrong, and just gives Alex a sheepish smile. “You’re good at that. I can’t even sway properly in place.”

Alex snorts a little, letting his hands drop to his sides as he moves a little closer to Micahel. “You can’t be that bad.”

Michael just gives him a look, “I ended up stepping on my middle school prom date’s feet so bad, she had to have reconstructive surgery.”

Alex lets out a burst of uncontrollable laughter and bends over a little with the strength of it.

Michael just stares at him feeling his stomach jump, and he wonders, if now would be a good time to kiss him, or to mention the fact that Michael would like to kiss him, has been thinking about it, dreaming about it constantly for over a week.

Alex straightens up and looks at Michael, a gleam in his eyes that Michael finds familiar, and knows its nothing but trouble.

“Come on,” he says and motions with his hands for Michael to stand up.

Michael eyes him distrustfully, but stands anyway, setting the guitar aside carefully.

Alex grins happily and pulls Michael so that there is plenty of space around them.

As the sun sets, Alex tries to teach Michael the steps that he was doing, and it works out about as well as teaching him to skateboard had worked out, horrible.

Michael just doesn’t have the coordination required to do anything more complicated than running with his feet.

Michael feels the flush of embarrassment, but it’s cooled by the way that Alex is laughing, bright and happy and delighted.

It gets dark enough that they have to use the portable battery lamp that Michael keeps for emergencies and the light is almost too dim to actually see.

It makes Alex come in closer, grabbing Michael’s hands and putting them on his hips before he says, “Just move like I do.”

Michael’s fingers are tingling, and he just swallows hard and nods his head once.

Alex just brings his hands to Michael’s shoulders and moves, forcing Michael to take a step to the side.

He can feel Alex’s body moving, his hips pushing into Michael’s hands as he does, making his shirt slip up a little, and Michael gasps when he feels something akin to an electric shock as he touches bare skin.

Alex’s fingers twitch against his shoulders, and Michael’s gaze lifts from his feet to Alex’s face.

“You’re hopeless at this,” Alex says, as though Michael hadn’t told him that exact same thing earlier.

“Oh yeah,” Michael says, and tugs Alex in by the hold on his hips, making Alex’s eyes go wide and the smile freeze on his face.

“If I was hopeless, could I do this?”

Michael starts to turn them in a circle, and trips over his own feet, tripping Alex, and they both go falling to the floor.

Michael lands with a thud and a small groan on the ground, Alex landing on top of him with a yelp, and for one second neither of them move, and then Alex is laughing, loud and bright, face tucked right against Michael’s shoulder.

Michael can’t help the smile that spreads across his face. He feels warm and a bubbly happy feeling spreading from the middle of his stomach to the top of his head and the tips of his fingers. 

Alex pushes himself up to lean on his elbows to look at Michael’s face, and Michael turns to him at the same time, and their noses brush.

Alex’s laughter dies out abruptly, and Michael can feel him going tense on top of him, but he doesn’t move, and Michael doesn’t ask him to.

He can feel it when Alex swallows hard and he his eyes are trapped by Alex’s and he can’t look away, not even when Alex’s eyes flicker down to his mouth and then back up.

Michael feels the warm bubbly feeling spark into something else, something hotter.

Alex’s stare goes a little heavy lidded, and he exhales carefully, moving in a bit closer, but still stopping just shy of brushing their mouths together.

“Please tell me I’m not misreading this,” Alex whispers, warm breath brushing across Michael’s mouth.

Michael inhales carefully and fits his hands on either side of Alex’s jaw and presses their mouths together.

For a single clear second, it feels as though the world has stopped, as though gravity stopped working and the only thing keeping him on the ground was Alex’s weight on top of him, and then it starts up again, sending a spiral of want through him and making him gasp.

Alex pulls back a little, mouths parting, and Michael’s eyes flutter open, and he looks into Alex’s warm bright eyes.

Michael swallows hard, and Alex’s eyes drop from his eyes to his mouth, and then back up, like he’s asking a question that he should already know the answer to.

Michael moves his hands to the back of Alex’s head and pulls him back in. Alex kisses him back immediately, parting their lips and licking into Michael’s mouth.

Alex makes a low noise in the back of his throat, and something clicks deep inside of Michael, like they are two pieces of the same puzzle that fit together perfectly.

two. 

Michael is talking to Liz on the phone when there is a knock on his bedroom window and he turns to see Alex waving at him to unhook the latch. He tells Liz that he’ll call her back, sliding off his bed and walking towards the window.

He hangs up on her asking him if something is wrong and tosses his phone over to his desk.

He opens the window, feeling surprised and elated.

“Hey,” he says as he slides the window up and steps back so Alex can climb into his room. “I didn’t know you were in tow-”

Alex cuts him off, digging his fingers into the  back of Michael’s neck and kissing him hard and rough, and a little desperate, not unlike he did during the last few days of summer before he had left, like he’d been afraid that he would never see Michael again. 

Michael wraps his arms around him, kissing him back immediately, making low noises in the back of his throat and feeling like he’s whole once again.

Alex pulls back after a few too long and way too short seconds, and he exhales roughly, pressing his forehead to Michael’s.

“Can I stay here for a few?”

He doesn’t clarify a few what, but when Michael really looks at him, he can see that Alex just really needs to hide away from the world right now.

Michael just nods his head, and Alex exhales in relief and kisses him again. 

Michael loses himself in the kiss, and Alex pushes him backwards, leading them towards Michael’s bed.

Alex doesn’t let Michael go as he drops into his bed, choosing instead to drag Michael with him, pushing and pulling until he managed to get them both curled up beneath Michael’s sheets, sharing his pillow and staring at each other. 

Alex leans in a little bit closer and nudges their noses together, closing his eyes and exhaling slowly. It’s only now that Michael is actually staring and not distracted, he can see that Alex is really tired. There are shadows beneath his eyes and a tilt to his mouth that tell Michael that he’s completely exhausted.

Michael pulls Alex in a little bit closer, and Alex moves in easily wrapping his arm around Michael’s waist and  nudges their noses together.

“Missed you,” Michael breathes out on an exhale.

Alex’s eyes flutter open, and he stares at Michael for a second, an unreadable look on his face before he licks his lips and leans in and presses their mouths together.

Michael wraps one arm around Alex’s shoulders and pulls him in closer, lying back a little, so that Alex is leaning over him.

Alex kisses him hard and deep and it sparks molten heat in the pit of Michael’s stomach, making him moan low in his throat as he tugs Alex even closer.

Michael loses track of time and of everything else, blinking his eyes open what feels like hours later and realizing that he’d fallen asleep kissing Alex.

He licks his mouth and it feels tender and swollen, and his jaw aches a little which means that he hadn’t hallucinated Alex climbing in through his window.

He’s blinking at the his darkening ceiling and wonders where Alex is, when he hears his voice coming from outside.

He leans up on his elbows and realizes that he hadn’t closed the window earlier.

“-because it’s not fair!” Alex is saying, voice getting clearer as Michael stands up and heads over to the window.

“No,” an unfamiliar female voice says, but it sounds authoritative and Mom enough to tell Michael exactly who it is. “You’re the one who isn’t being fair right now! I have to do this! For me and for you! And I won’t be able to if I’m worrying about whether or not you’re actually sleeping on the street!”

“The streets are better than sleeping in that house!” Alex responds. “Why can’t I stay with-?”

“Your father offered,” she says sounding tired. “He said that he’s going to try and be better. But you have to try too, okay, Alex?”

Michael sneaks a look outside and Alex is facing towards the window, and his face looks like he doesn’t really believe what his mom is saying, but Michael knows that he’s not going to fight her either.

“Fine,” he says, and his mom deflates immediately, reaching forward and grabbing him to pull him into a hug.

Michael watches them silently for a second before he moves away from the window, trying not to get his hopes up, but it was hard not to when it seems like Alex is going to be staying in Roswell for a while longer.

* * *

Michael absolutely loves that Alex is back in Roswell, and that he’s going to school with them. It had been seven long months talking only by email and Michael had missed him like something vital and necessary.

He had never felt like there was someone in the world that had been born to be just for him, but Alex felt like that. 

Not even when he had met Isobel and Max had he felt so completely known and seen by someone.

Michael may be young, as his mom is keen on reminding him, but he’s never felt about anyone the way that he feels about Alex, and he doesn’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

So, Michael likes having Alex close, and he likes being able to see him whenever he wants, and he likes hanging out with him and not having to worry that they won’t have enough time, and he likes it when Alex pushes him down on top of his bed and kisses him until Michael is hard and wanting beneath him, and he likes making Alex laugh so hard he cries and he really, really likes it when he falls asleep alone and wakes up with Alex in his bed.

What he likes decidedly less are the nights when Alex crawls in through his window with bloody knuckles or bleeding from his mouth or his nose or a gash across one of his eyebrows or sporting a black eye or bruised ribs or dislocated shoulders.

Alex is too quiet on those nights and he comes up with excuses and doesn’t tell Michael the truth, but he lets Michael patch him up and sometimes he even lets Michael hold him.

He’s almost positive he knows what’s going on anyway, but he doesn’t want to say anything because there is still that small part of him that is convinced that if he confronts Alex about it, Alex will not only deny it, but also try to stay away from him, and that is the last thing that Michael wants.

He would prefer that Alex came to him when he needed someplace safe to hide instead of avoiding him because he’s not ready to answer the difficult questions.

Michael’s mom looks at him knowingly, and Michael knows that she tries to talk to the Sheriff, but she comes away from that conversation looking more upset than she went in.

Michael doesn’t know what happened, but she makes sure to go out of her way to make Alex feel like he’s welcome in their home at anytime for any reason.

On one of the particularly bad nights, Michael asks him if his mom knows.

Alex doesn’t say anything for a long time, but he also doesn’t move away from Michael.

“She knows,” he says, making Michael jump since he’d thought that he’d fallen asleep. “I ran the first time it happened all the way to her.”

Michael just presses his face against the back of Alex’s neck and holds him even tighter.

* * *

Isobel pushes open the door to his bedroom, letting it slam against the wall, and she looks at him, lying down in his bed, with his history book propped against his chest and makes a face.

“Why aren’t you dressed?” she asks as she walks into his room, the carpet silencing the click of her stiletto boots.

Michael leans up on his elbows and looks at her, trying to figure out exactly where he’s supposed to be getting dressed to go, but Isobel recently has started to dress like she’s going to be on the cover of a magazine no matter where she’s going.

The short dress and thigh high boots don’t really do anything to tell Michael where she’s going.

“Dressed for what?” he asks.

“The party,” she says, reaching out for one of his discarded shirts and throwing it at him. “At the warehouse?”

Michael makes a face at her. “I planned to go with Alex.”

She rolls her eyes at him. “Just get dressed. You won’t die if you go to a party without your boyfriend.”

Michael just groans dropping back on his bed. “You know I don’t like parties. Why would I go if Alex isn’t going to be there?”

Isobel throws something else at him. “Just get dressed.”

Michael gets dressed to stop Isobel from throwing things at him, and lets her pick his clothes.

The drive to the warehouse doesn’t take long at all, and seeing the flashing lights and the people and the loud music makes Michael want to get back into the car and head back home, but Isobel wraps an arm around his shoulders and tugs him with her inside of the place.

The music is much louder inside of the warehouse, and the place was full of people dancing or gyrating in the middle of the room, some more people hanging in groups around the edges.

Isobel whoops and drags him into the middle of the room like she’d found something that she was looking for.

She’s dancing a little as she moves forward, and even Michael who can’t dance finds the beat a little infectious. He feels it thrumming through him and it makes him want to dance.

Isobel lets him go, and he sees her move forward and grab someone who she twirls around with and Michael sees that it’s Maria, who is smiling and wearing colors that are matching Isobel’s dress.

Michael wants to say something about the obvious fact that they are obviously dating, even if they are denying it, when his gaze is caught by Alex.

Michael’s breath catches in his chest, and the shock is more to do with the fact that Alex wasn’t supposed to be there. He was grounded.

Alex spots him at the same time that Michael does and he smiles wide and delighted, jumping forward a few steps and wrapping his arms around Michael’s shoulders.

“Hey,” he says, leaning into Michael’s space. “I thought you were never going to show up.”

Michael places his hands on Alex’s hips, well aware that they are in public and Alex is never this affectionate in front of others. Not that he shies away from Michael in public, but he’s very careful in a way that tells Michael that his father might not know that he’s gay.

“I thought you were grounded,” Michael answers back, and Alex laughs, swaying into Michael.

“I snuck out,” he says, and leans in even closer, pressing their cheeks together as he whispers in Michael’s ear. “I wanted to see you.”

Michael swallows hard, nodding, and then he uses his hold on Alex’s hips to push him backwards a little.

Alex frowns at him, pouting a little, but Michael just wraps his fingers around his wrist and pulls him along behind him as he walks towards the edge of the dancefloor, a curtain of shimmering tinsel separating the storage space from the rest of the warehouse.

Once they’re in private, Michael whirls around and uses his hold on Alex to pull him back in.

Alex goes willingly, stumbling a little as he bumps into Michael who fits his hands on either side of Alex’s face and kisses him.

Alex makes a happy noise low in the back of his throat and pushes in close, kissing Michael back.

Alex likes to kiss when he gets high and Michael loves nothing more than to indulge him.

He wonders if this is going to cause more problems with Alex’s father, and he would ask, but he already knows what Alex’s answer is going to be, so instead of saying anything, Michael pushes Alex back against the wall, and leans heavily against him, kissing him hard.

Alex’s tangles his fingers in Michael’s hair and lets Michael kiss him, surrendering in a way that never really happens.

Michael pulls away from him, parting their mouths with a gasp, and Alex’s eyes are open and on him when Michael blinks his eyes open.

“Alex,” Michael starts.

Alex shakes his head a little sharply and his fingers go tight in Michael’s hair.

“Alex I-” Michael starts again.

“I love you,” Alex whispers, and Michael freezes. “I realized how much and I just really needed to tell you. I didn’t care about anything else.”

Michael kisses him.

Alex makes a soft and surprised sound against his mouth, and he kisses him back.

Michael thinks a little recklessly that he could get used to hearing Alex say those three little words for the rest of his life.

* * *

Michael is sitting with his back against the Crashdown sign, the cool twilight breeze ruffling his hair backwards. He’s waiting for Liz, headphones blocking out the noise, but when someone starts to climb up to where he is, he can feel it.

He’s expecting Liz, so when the person drops into his lap, his eyes snap open startled.

He exhales, losing the tension to his shoulders when he sees that it’s Alex.

Alex tugs the headphones away from his ears and just looks at him.

Alex sits on his lap, a warm and heavy weight, and he looks into Michael’s eyes, serious and intent like he’s searching for the answer to a question he doesn’t know how to ask.

Michael stares right back at him, trying to project as much openness as he can. He wants Alex to find whatever answer he’s looking for in his eyes.

Alex just keeps staring at him, until Michael starts to feel a little uncomfortable beneath the gaze. It almost feels like Alex is trying to memorize him.

Michael licks his lips and he wants to look away, but he doesn’t, something in Alex’s gaze keeps him right there, staring right back at him.

Alex licks his lips and his eyes drop to Michael’s mouth. He leans in a little, but then he hesitates, their noses just barely brushing as he looks back up into Michael’s eyes.

Michael inhales shakily and the breath catches against his chest as Alex pushes in close and brushes their mouths together.

He slides his hands up into Michael’s hair and parts their lips, licking into Michael’s mouth.

Michael presses his hands against the dip of Alex’s waist, and Alex pushes in close, deepening the kiss.

Alex slowly deepens the kiss until Michael is whining low in his throat wanting to get closer.

Alex’s hands drag through his hair and he’s thrumming with energy, rocking in Michael’s lap, and trying to push in even closer.

Michael slips his hands beneath Alex’s shirt, his skin feels warm to the touch.

The touch seems to ignite something in Alex who drags his fingers down to the collar of Michael’s shirt and kisses him harder, biting against his mouth, rougher than he’s ever really been, but it lights up something deep inside of Michael that he really, really likes.

He digs his hands into the skin of Alex’s back, and pulls him in closer.

Alex kisses him deeper, wet and rough and biting, until Michael feels lightheaded and dizzy and like he’s going to pass out, and he has to turn his face to the side, to take in a deep breath.

Alex’s mouth drags down to his chin and to the curve of his throat. Michael shudders, and moans low in his throat when Alex latches on to the skin, pressing his teeth gently and sucking hard.

Michael’s fingers are going to leave marks if he holds on to Alex any tighter, but Alex isn’t nearly as careful as he continues to leave biting wet kisses down the length of Michael’s neck that feel like they’re throbbing with heat when he lets go.

Michael slides his hands out of Alex’s shirt and clenches them against the fabric of his jacket covering his shoulders and pushes Alex back a little.

Alex looks at him, eyes wide and his mouth is red and he just stares at Michael something in his eyes making Michael feel like there is something that Alex isn’t telling him, something important.

Alex drops his forehead to Michael’s and inhales carefully. 

Michael just keeps staring at him, wishing that Alex would just speak to him sometimes.

“Alex,” he breathes, and Alex exhales all at once, warm breath washing over Michael’s mouth. 

“Michael,” he whispers back, equally low, and slightly surprising since he always calls Michael by his last name.

“Is everything okay?” Michael asks, unable to help himself.

Alex doesn’t pull away from him like Michael half expected. He slides his hands back into Michael’s hair, and he holds on tight as he looks at Michael and smiles weirdly at him, “Everything is going to be okay.”

Before Michael can figure out what’s wrong with that sentence, and with his smile, Alex kisses him hard and deep, hijacking Michael’s entire nervous system and making him forget everything but Alex’s name.

* * *

When Michael wakes up the next morning, Alex is gone.

He doesn’t see him again for five years.

three.

Michael opens his eyes and looks up at the ceiling in confusion for a few minutes before it hits him all over again.

He’s staying with Isobel until Max wakes up from his coma.

It’s only been eleven days, but Michael is optimistic that by sheer tenacity, Isobel will will her brother back to consciousness in no time.

And he’s going to stay by her side until it happens or she gets tired of him and sends him away, whichever one comes first.

He looks up at the ceiling and wonders if he should try to convince Isobel to actually eat something before she goes to the hospital when he hears a stutter of familiar Isobel laughter that he hasn’t heard since Cam came by to tell them about the shooting.

He leans up on his elbows and looks towards the barely opened door and he can hear a low voice speaking and Isobel answering in kind.

He walks carefully outside, not wanting to interrupt but also really wanting to know who was making Isobel laugh.

The smell of bacon hits him as soon as he nears the entrance to the kitchen, and seriously, he hopes that whoever it is made enough food for everyone.

He walks into the kitchen, mouth open as he starts to speak, and then Isobel laughs again a startled, surprised sound, like she wasn’t expecting it, and she leans down, resting her face on the table, and Michael gets a good look at the person that’s making her laugh, and the air catches painfully.

Alex stands right next to the stove, leaning back against the counter, looking at Isobel with fond eyes, and Michael can see how much he’s missed her.

Alex’s eyes go over Isobel and get caught on Michael standing frozen right at the entrance of the kitchen.

He pushes away from the counter, and Isobel turns around, and her eyes go bright when she sees Michael, and there is a slight upturned quirk to the corner of her mouth, and while it’s not like she looks ecstatic, there is something about her that looks lighter than it has in days.

She grabs the last piece of bacon on her plate, and slides off her seat. 

“I’m going to go get ready. Alex made sure I had breakfast, don’t worry,” she adds as she walks pass Michael who still can’t seem to make himself look away from Alex.

Alex moves around the island where Isobel had been sitting and he stands in front of Michael, looking tan, his hair longer than Michael has ever seen it, almost brushing his shoulders, the width of his shoulders and arms and the way the thin white shirt stretches across his stomach tells Michael exactly how much more muscle mass he’s got than the scrawny teenager who was mostly legs and pointy elbows.

Everything looks different, but not a bad different, not that Michael actually cares about that when Alex is staring at him in the exact same way he did when they were sixteen and looking at each other instead of the stars in the sky.

“Michael,” Alex starts, voice low and nervous, and he moves closer, until he’s close enough that Michael can just reach out and touch him, so he does.

His fingers touch the fabric at his shoulders, and he feels so warm and so real.

Michael lets out a shaky breath, and he feels something shift inside of him almost giving an audible click, and his fingers go tight on Alex’s shoulders, and Alex reaches to hold on to him as well.

The touch strikes a chord deep inside of him, and Michael feels like Alex’s presence alone is filling up the missing pieces inside of him that he doesn’t even really notice until Alex is right in front of him and he aches with it.

Michael wants to say something, but as soon as he inhales, the next breath comes out even shakier, and he can feel the tears sparking right behind his eyelids.

Alex pulls him in close, and Michael collapses against him, feeling for the first time in days like he doesn’t have to be strong.

“I’m so sorry about Max,” Alex breathes, and Michael shudders with it. “I came as soon as I heard-”

Michael just buries his face in Alex’s shoulder, wrapping his arms around his waist and Alex wraps one arm around Michael’s waist, the other hand buried in his hair.

Michael inhales deeply and feels for the first time in days, years that he can actually breathe.

* * *

After a week of waking up and finding Alex curled up beside him, sleeping like he hasn’t gotten much sleep in the last five years, Michael finally asks.

He sits on the edge of the bed and stares at Alex while he’s sleeping, waiting for any sign that he’s waking up, and he doesn’t have to wait long before Alex starts to move as though he starts waking up when Michael moves.

Michael watches as Alex moves, stretching out on his back before he blinks his eyes open, yawning and looking around until he spots Michael.

Michael stares at him as he smiles, wide and bright, staring back at Michael with his half lidded eyes. 

“Hey,” he says, and his voice comes out throaty, and Michael snaps like an overstretched rubber band.

“What are you still doing here?” he asks, and wants to take it back immediately for the way that Alex flinches back as though Michael had tried to hit him.

Alex sits up, and the sheet falls to his hips, he looks at Michael seriously. “Do you want me to go?”

It looks like it’s taking everything in him not to run away from the bed.

“Aren’t you going to anyway?” Michael asks a little exasperated. 

It’s not like Alex is a teenager anymore. He probably has a whole life outside of Roswell by now.

Alex licks his lips and shrugs a little, looking away. “I’m not planning on going anywhere right now, Guerin. But if you want me to go-”

“No,” Michael says. “I just don’t want you to feel like you have to stay, if you don’t want to. If you have someplace else to be at, you don’t have to feel like you’re obligated-“

"Michael,” Alex says, reaching out to take one of Michael’s hands. 

Michael stops talking to stare at him. 

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

* * *

Days turn into weeks turn into months, and while Max sleeps on, and Isobel seems to be starting to get back to her old self, while still not giving up hope that Max will wake up, and Alex-

Alex is working part time at the Crashdown, mostly to help Arturo out. He’s going to support meetings with Isobel where she can talk to other people who also have family members in comas and how they’re dealing with it. He’s making sure that Liz is eating and going to sleep on time and not spending the entire night sitting in the chair by Max’s bed. He’s at the Wild Pony distracting Maria with increasingly ludicrous stories so she doesn’t think about how her mom’s mental state seems to be deteriorating. 

And he’s there handing Michael bottles of water when he asks for more beer, words slurring together on the really bad nights, and he’s there holding Michael up when he’s too exhausted to stand, and he’s there keeping Michael together while keeping his family in one, mostly sane piece.

Michael wakes up one day six months into this and realizes that Alex fit right back into their little family as though he’d never left.

It’s something that happens without him even really realizing that it’s actually happening, and he finds that he really likes it.

He’s never felt closer to Alex, felt like there are no secrets between them, which is why it’s a shock when he has dinner with his mom and finds out from her that Jesse Manes was arrested and dishonorably discharged and was going to be serving four years in a federal prison.

He parks outside of Max’s house that he’s sharing with Liz and Isobel and Alex.

He stares at the house and he can see their shadows moving behind the curtains, probably having a late dinner.

Michael catches Alex, looking out of the window, and spotting Michael’s truck, and he sees the way that his face lights up as he disappears again.

Michael waits for him, twisting the keys in the ignition and as Alex opens the front door and runs out of the house, Michael wonders if Alex will ever really let him in, or if he will always keep things to himself even while knowing everything about Michael.

Alex opens the car door and he looks really happy, like he has great news to share, and Michael knows that it doesn’t have to do with Max since Isobel would’ve been the first out.

“Hey, guess what-”

“Your dad is in jail which is the only reason that you’ve stayed in Roswell this long,” Michael says, voice full of conflicting emotions, and he knows that that’s not what Alex was going to say from the way his eyes go wide and he looks at Michael in shock, lips slightly parted.

“Ho-how did you-?”

Michael shakes his head and gets out of the car, forcing Alex to take a step back.

Alex goes on the defensive immediately, looking like a soldier, even though he’s never been in the service.

It’s a tick that he only displays whenever his father is mentioned.

Michael closes the door and leans back against it, watching and waiting.

Alex swallows hard a few times and blinks his eyes a few times and he looks away from Michael.

Patience isn’t exactly Michael’s strong suit, so after a few seconds he breaks.

“Were you ever going to tell me that the man who’s been abusing you your whole life is  in jail?”

Alex flinches back, taking several steps, brow furrowing as he stares at Michael like he can’t believe what he’s saying.

“Alex,” Michael says and steps forward, frowning when Alex takes a step back.

Michael just inhales deeply and shakes his head. “You know my mom is working with Michelle because the anniversary of the Downtown Shooting is coming up and they want to raise awareness during the ceremony and she told her, that we must be so relieved to not have to watch out for him anymore.”

Alex’s eyes go even bigger if possible, and Michael just shakes his head a little, still confused about that.

“Which I didn’t really understand,” he says. “You were the one he hurt. It wasn’t like I was ever in any danger-”

He trails off as Alex starts getting increasingly agitated.

Michael stares at him intently until Alex looks back at him, and he can see the answer right there in his eyes.

“What?” he asks, and Alex shakes his head once, taking a deep breath and looking away.

“It doesn’t matter,” he says. “It’s not important.”

“Of course it’s important,” Michael snaps, and Alex’s gaze goes back to him. “And of course it matters. It has to do with you, and I care about you.”

Alex’s brow furrowed, and Michael licks his lips feeling frustrated.

“Why did you tell me that you loved me all those years ago?” Michael asks, and Alex’s gaze goes even more confused, and a little surprised like he wasn’t expecting Michael to bring that up.

Alex opens his mouth to speak, but Michael doesn’t really need him to.

“You said it because that’s how you felt, and when you love someone you would do anything to keep them safe, and you always want them to be happy and to not want for anything,” Michael says, and Alex doesn’t move as he stares at Michael as he continues to speak.

“Is it really that hard to understand that that’s all I want? For you to be safe and happy and protected? And do you know how difficult it is to do any of that when you refuse to tell me anything about your life that’s not cool or interesting.”

Alex blinks at him several times, lips parting like he’s going to speak, but Michael talks over him, again.

“Are you ever going to let me in? Let me actually be a part of your life, because it was cool and mysterious when we were in high school and you were the first person I’d ever fallen in love with, but it’s not like I’ve been pining away for you for the last five years, I’ve had relationships, and while no one has ever made feel like you do, I know more about the last girl that I hooked up with than I know about you.”

Alex exhales roughly and looks away from Michael and Michael shakes his head and moves to go to the back of the truck to get the cooler stuff full of food that his mom had sent him with and he picks it up and turns around and almost bumps straight into Alex who is frowning like he doesn’t know what to do to fix the problem.

“Here’s an easy question,” Michael says, holding on to the cooler tighter so that he doesn’t accidentally drop it. “Why did you go without saying goodbye?”

Alex opens his mouth, but nothing comes out, not that Michael had been expecting it. He just scoffs and walks pass Alex and into the house.

* * *

Michael goes and stays with his mom for a few days, avoiding everyone, especially Alex.

It’s the worst four days of his life.

* * *

“I don’t want to keep fighting with you,” Alex says as soon as Michael walks into their room. 

Michael stares at him, and there is something different about him, something more than just being upset about their fight and the avoidance.

Michael can see it in the way that he’s not looking at him directly and how tightly his phone is clutched in his hands.

Alex blinks as Michael’s gaze focuses on the phone and he tosses it aside saying, “I was just talking to my mom.”

Alex stands up, and Michael just looks at him.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and Michael raises an eyebrow, and Alex just makes a low frustrated sound. “I’m not used to telling anyone anything, Guerin. I don’t know how to let you-to let you take care of me. I’ve never had someone want to do that, and I didn’t even consider that it would be something that you would want.”

“Alex,” Michael starts feeling already tired of this whole conversation.

“I’ll try,” Alex says and he looks away as he says it, like he knows exactly how difficult it’s going to be.

“But I don’t want this to end like this,” he says looking back at Michael, who immediately pushes away from the door jamb and gets into Alex’s space.

Alex stops speaking and just looks at Michael a little desperately, a glint in his eyes like he’s afraid that he’s never going to see Michael again.

“This isn’t the end,” Michael says, and Alex’s gaze turns a little pleading. “This is just a fight okay? Couples fight all the time, and they work it out, and we’re going to work this out.”

Alex looks at him for a long moment, for a second reminding Michael of how he looked at him all those years ago on the rooftop of the Crashdown.

“You’ll forgive me?” he asks, voice low and almost scared. 

Michael reaches for him, wrapping his fingers around his wrists and tugging him closer a few stumbling steps.

“Always,” he says, eyes dropping to Alex’s mouth as he exhales in relief.

He knows that this moment is serious, but he can’t help himself, it’s been almost a week since the last time that they kissed.

“Even if I run away again,” he whispers, and Michael tightens his fingers around Alex’s wrists and pulls him in even closer, until their feet are overlapping, and their chests are barely brushing, Michael’s eyes are still on Alex’s mouth, and he knows that Alex is staring at him.

“Are you planning on running away?” Michael asks voice airy and teasing.

“I never plan on running away from you,” Alex breathes, and he pushes into Michael’s space, tugging out of his hold and wrapping his arms around Michael’s shoulders, fingers in his hair as he pulls him in close and presses their mouths together.

Michael loses himself in the heady sensation that sweeps through him, the anticipation and the adrenaline and the overwhelming amount of love that he feels for Alex.

Alex kisses him harder and deeper and drags him back towards the bed, not even bothering to close the door as he pushes Michael down and then crawls on top of him.

Michael reaches for him, and tangles his fingers in the collar of Alex’s shirt, and pushes him back a little so that Alex is hovering over him for a few seconds.

Alex looks at him, and Michael just stares back, feeling like he’s going to burst with the way that he’s feeling inside.

Alex is staring at him, eyes darting everywhere, like he’s preserving this moment in his memory, and it strikes a discordant note deep inside of him.

“I love you,” Michael says, voice breathless and maybe a little pleading, but for what Michael doesn’t exactly know.

Alex stares at him in silence for a long moment before he leans down and kisses him again.

It tastes like goodbye, and Michael’s fingers go tighter in Alex’s shirt as he kisses him back.

* * *

Michael wakes up blinking up at the ceiling and for the first time in over six months, he wakes up alone.

four.

Arturo has his order already on the counter by the time Michael makes it to the front of the line.

He smiles as he pays the new girl on the til, and takes his breakfast, waving at Arturo, who waves back with his spatula.

He walks out of the door wondering if it would be a good time to bring up the idea of getting back to work to Liz, who has been stuck to Max’s side like glue since he woke up from his almost five year long coma.

It’s been six months since then, and Michael could really use the distraction.

He bumps into someone while searching inside of the bag for a fry, and he almost drops his lunch on the floor.

Luckily he doesn’t, and even luckier, the person he bumped into isn’t cursing him out.

He looks up, mouth open to apologize, and he stops short, the words getting caught in the back of his throat, almost choking him, making him gape as he wheezes a little.

Alex stands in front of him, short hair sticking up in messy spikes that are long enough to fall across his forehead, smudged eyeliner in the corner of his eyes and a new and interesting scar along the curve of his cheek.

He’s wearing a stretched out leather jacket, worn with age that looks like it could be a size too small, over a black shirt with a faded pattern that Michael vaguely remembers and a pair of jeans torn at the knees that Michael definitely remembers.

It’s been five years since they’ve been face to face, and Michael feels a little like he’s been suckerpunched in the stomach, but the last thing that he wants to do right now is let Alex know that.

“I didn’t know you were back in town,” Michael says, and Alex flinches from the insinuation in his tone, that he knows that Alex has been back in Roswell over the last few years, but he never came to see him.

“I’m not,” Alex says, swallowing hard, and shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “I’m just-”

“Passing by, I know,” Michael says, sighing and gripping on to his bag tighter. “Well, it was nice seeing you, but I have other places I need to be.”

Alex just nods his head jerkily, and Michael licks his lips, looking at Alex one last, brief time and then he turns and starts to walk towards his truck.

He’s almost there, when he hears someone calling his name, and then there is a hand wrapping around his elbow and turning him around.

Michael turns to see Alex, who is worrying his bottom lip, but his eyes are sparkling with a kind of determination.

“I know that this might be a long shot, but do you think that we could talk?” he asks, eyes going really wide, looking like he’s expecting Michael to tell him no.

Michael inhales deeply and stares at him for a second before he tugs his arm away from Alex’s grasp.

Alex frowns and nods his head, but before he can turn around, Michael speaks.

“Just follow me,” he says, and then gets into his truck without waiting for another word.

He sets his food down in the passenger seat and takes a deep breath, counting to five, and then does he look outside, to see Alex hurrying back to his car.

He turns towards Michael as he opens the door, and gives him a small, warm smile before he ducks inside.

Michael licks his lips and tries to ignore the spark of hope that lit up inside him at the sight of that smile on Alex’s face.

* * *

Patience has never been one of Michael’s strong suits, but he waits Alex out, sitting down across from him on the other side of the coffee table.

Alex makes a comment about how clean his apartment is, alluding to the fact that Michael’s room, both his childhood room and the guest room he took over at Max’s house, were constantly a mess that Alex tried to stay on top of but failed miserably, and then falls silent as Michael just sits and stares at him and doesn’t say anything.

"You’re not going to say something,” Alex asks, voice carefully neutral.

Michael just slouches back a little in his chair, “You’re the one who said you wanted to talk.”

Alex clears his throat and nods his head, and looks around the apartment one more time, before clearing his throat again and speaking.

“How’ve you been, Guerin?” He asks gently, like he actually wants an answer, like he doesn’t know.

Michael scoffs, “I know you’ve talked to Maria and Liz. I know you already know everything, and even if you didn’t, asking about how I’m doing isn’t the reason that you want to talk.”

Alex blinks at him a little surprised, but Michael didn’t spend the year following Alex’s departure, stuck in a downward spiral of drinking and fucking anyone who would have him, until Maria had slapped him across the face and told him that he wasn’t the only one hurting, and then picking himself back up and putting himself together, and getting his life together in order to actually be there for Liz and Isobel, just to let Alex back in again, only for him to leave when Michael is least expecting.

So there is no way that Michael is going to make this an easy conversation for Alex.

Alex inhales deeply and nods his head carefully, and then leans back in his seat and looks up at the ceiling like it’s holding all of the answers and then exhales roughly and sits back up straight, looking at Michael seriously.

“You’re right, it’s not,” he starts, and then swallows hard, eyes flickering over Michael’s shoulder and back again. “There are just so many things that I want to tell you that I don’t know where to start.”

Michael shrugs noncommittally, not really expecting Alex to tell him anything that Michael would want to hear right now.

Alex doesn’t exactly sigh, but the feeling is there, like he can’t believe that Michael is being this difficult.

“Okay,” he says. “I’ll start at the beginning then.”

Michael raises an eyebrow in response, slouching even more in his seat to get more comfortable.

Alex is silent for long enough, that Michael thinks he’s not actually going to say anything, but then he starts to speak.

“I was an accident, as my mom was so fond of telling me. My parents already had three boys, the youngest was almost six when she got pregnant with me. She found out too late to actually do anything about it. So my first breath in this world was unwanted and every single one after that as well.”

Michael sits up in his chair and stares at Alex who is looking over Michael’s shoulder again, eyes fixated on the wall like he won’t be able to speak if he looks at him directly.

“My mom left before I was old enough to understand that mom’s just don’t do that, I bonded with Liz and Maria because we were the only kids in Roswell who only had one parent, and for a while things were as okay as expected. And then I turned ten, and I guess I was too eager to go to Kyle’s house to play or liked things that were too girly, or something, I don’t know what, but my father somehow knew that I was gay before I even knew that I wanted to kiss anyone, let alone a boy, and he tried really hard to fix me like I was an old broken toy soldier that he wanted to be perfect, and when that didn’t work, he tried more heavy handed methods.”

He licks his lips, eyes darting to Michael, and they look a little wild, and he looks entirely uncomfortable, but there is something there that tells Michael that he’s not going to stop until he gets what he needs to say out of his system.

“At first I took it, because that’s what I was taught to do, but then mom called, out of the blue, and it was almost like a sign. I snuck out and took a bus to LA, and do you want to know what is the first thing that my mom told me after almost ten years?”

His eyes dart to Michael then, and then quickly away.

“‘What are you doing here?’” he says, scoffing and sounding caustic. “But she let me stay with her for the weekend, before she tried to give me back to my dad. But that didn’t work out well for any of us. The compromise we came to was that I would go to school with her, but spend the summers in Roswell.”

Michael breathes carefully as Alex looks down at his hands and then looks up into Michael’s eyes, freezing for a second before he gives him a small, sad smile.

“I was making plans,” he says, eyes still on Michael, and Michael can’t find it in himself to look away. “I was working and doing everything that I could to not spend any time in her house, and I was saving money and I was making plans to just get away and never come back, maybe go to Florida, or somewhere even further away.”

There is a light in his eyes that Michael finds kind of irresistible and he finds himself leaning on the edge of his seat. 

“And then I met you,” he says, and Michael inhales sharply, feeling the air catch painfully in the center of his chest.

“It was singlehandedly the most terrifying and exhilarating moment of my life,” he says, looking right into Michael’s eyes, and Michael feels trapped in that gaze, fully present in this moment.

“I tried so hard to fight against it because I had plans, and they did not include falling in love with this boy from Roswell, but it was an impossible task. You were impossible not to love. I’ve never felt like that with anyone, have never had that instant connection with someone, like something, almost-”

“Cosmic,” Michael finds himself whispering, and Alex’s eyes go a little wide, but he nods his head.

“Yeah, but I really had no idea what to do with it. My whole life I was unloved and told that I wasn’t wanted, and then there you were, telling me that you wanted me and that you loved me, and it terrified me.”

Michael swallows hard, “Is that why you always ran away?”

Alex licks his lips and blinks at him a few times, before he inhales deeply, and stares at Michael somehow even more intently.

“I was never running away from you,” Alex says, and Michael feels a little bit like he can’t breathe properly at the look in his eyes. “I was running to you.”

Michael shakes his head a little bit and stands up and Alex stands with him, mirroring his movements.

“You left me,” he says, and Alex flinches back. “You ran away from me, twice.”

“My dad threatened to hurt you,” Alex says, making Michael freeze momentarily. “And maybe that’s all it was, an empty threat, but I didn’t know any better, and I just wanted to keep you safe, so I left.”

Michael shakes his head a little, but Alex just keeps talking.

“And then we were fighting and mom called me to tell me that she was dying and I just-”

He cuts himself off and looks away from Michael, while Michael tries to figure out exactly what to say to that, but for the first time in his life, he doesn’t have any words.

He just stares at Alex who breathes carefully and then looks back at Michael.

“I’m giving you excuses,” he says. “And while they did play a big part in my decision to go, you deserved to know the truth then. I’m sorry that I hurt you.”

Michael blinks at him, and Alex gives him a half smile. 

“You don’t have to say anything,” Alex says. “I just wanted you to know the truth, and I wanted you to know that I want to be a part of your life, if you want me to be.”

Michael exhales roughly shaking his head a little because he can’t really believe what Alex is saying.

“Are you even going to stick around long enough to be a part of my life?” he asks, and Alex flinches back again, but there is a turn to his mouth that tells Michael that he thinks he deserves that.

“I’m moving into the old Valenti hunting cabin,” Alex states and something in Michael’s head seems to misfire, and he just looks at Alex blankly. “So I’ll be closer.”

Michael swallows hard again and blinks rapidly looking away from Alex and then turning back towards Alex. 

“I don’t know what you want me to say-” Michael starts and Alex shakes his head.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Alex says quickly. “I just wanted to let you know the truth.”

Michael stares at Alex for a second before he nods his head slowly.

Alex just smiles a little, and it’s brittle and there seems to be a touch of hopelessness in his eyes like he’s sure that he’s messed things up between them forever. 

And while a small part of Michael wants to tell him that nothing he says or does is going to fix things between them, there is a much larger part that wants to see if Alex is actually going to stay before he decides on anything.

“Okay,” Michael says when Alex looks like he’s trying to find a way out. “We can try to be friends.”

Alex bites down on his lip, raising an eyebrow. “Friends?”

Michael swallows hard and tries not to show Alex how much he wants to take back that word.

“Friends,” he says, firmly, and Alex just smiles at him, wide and bright and it makes something flutter madly in his stomach.

Michael walks him to the door, and Alex turns right at the entrance, and looks at Michael with a knowing glint in his eyes.

“I’ll see you around, Guerin.”

Michael sends him a mock salute, and Alex grins wide and startling, and walks backwards towards his car, eyes never leaving Michael.

Michael feels his heart thudding hard in his chest, and the flurry of butterflies swarming in his stomach get faster, and he wonders briefly if this whole friends thing is going to even be possible, especially if Alex keeps staring at him like that.

He only looks away when he turns to open the car door, lips still curved to that bright smile.

Michael watches him get into his car, and continues to stare at him while he drives off, until he can’t see him anymore.