Hey guys! This is my first Roswell fic that actually has chapters, since the rest have been one-shots.  I'm excited!

            Basically, this takes place several weeks after the episode "Graduation."  There's not much more to say if you've read the summary.  There are CC couples (M/L and M/M), references to sort of conventional couples (Ava/Zan, Kyle/Tess), and one UC couple, which you've probably figured out already…

            Reminder: I don't claim to own Roswell or any of its characters or storylines.  They belong to Jason Katims and company.

            I'd love feedback about this chapter to see how you like it and whether you think the concept works or not.  Please review with any comments, positive or negative.  Constructive criticism is always welcome!


            Kyle had been lucky enough to nab the corner seat, of course.  The last seat in the back row of the damn van that he had chosen to join them on.  He had had that choice, after all, and they hadn't.

            But he was the afterthought, as usual.

            Michael was driving, with a weary Liz beside him in the passenger seat.  They used to move in units, the couples had anyway.  Announcing that it was Michael's turn at the wheel meant that Maria would take shot-gun, until it was Max's shift, when Liz would take her place.  But that had gotten old after a week or so, and everyone had stopped caring.  With the amount of space they had and the time they spent together, an extra few inches of measured privacy meant next to nothing anymore.

            Watching Michael cast worried glances in the rear-view mirror toward Maria, who had said she felt sick earlier that morning, made Kyle almost equally ill. He had known what he was getting in for, he supposed, when he 'signed up' for this make-shift road trip, but being in such close proximity to the love-struck pairs 24/7 was wearing on his nerves, just like he was sure it was on Isabel's.

            Though the road they were traversing was headed dead-straight in the opposite direction of Roswell, Kyle's mind felt like it was going in circles.  Maria's queasiness had resulted in a blessed respite from Michael's insidiously blasted heavy metal, but the quiet did little to enliven Kyle's thoughts.

            And so he found himself considering their situation for the thousandth time.  Or rather, his situation.  Where the hell did he fit into all this crap?  Nowhere it seemed.

            Let's see, he mused, his eyes landing on each of his van-mates thoughtfully.  He was…Liz's ex.  Max's formal rival, or so he liked to think, though he knew that he had posed little competition to the alien-king with Liz or…anyone else.  Moving on. Maria's almost, maybe step-brother.  Michael's…well, they didn't have a clearly defined relationship, not that he had much of one with any of the others either.  He and Michael were on strictly last-name basis, and rarely initiated conversation with each other.  To Kyle, he was just another alien, and to Michael, Kyle was just one of handful of humans who knew his secret.

            Isabel presented more of a challenge.  Things had gotten rather complicated in her area lately.  Friend, certainly. Confidante even; they had grown quite close over the past year.  He remembered tenderly a time when he had believed he was falling for her.  Of course, she was completely off-limits…you don't get much more off-limits than a married woman.  But, Jesse hadn't even known her, really known her, for so long, and Kyle had been there for her every time she had needed him.  It would have only been natural for him to develop such feelings. 

            Turns out he had no clue what he wanted.  Somehow the reappearance of a murdering, back-stabbing former-housemate, bearing the child of her alien lover, had turned his heart from that beautiful, caring woman he had thought he loved.  He really must be sick.  It was something he fought desperately to conceal, to force down deep inside of his apparently-quite-twisted psyche. 

            Even now, Kyle could feel the bile rise in his throat when he considered his treacherously sympathetic reaction to her pleading eyes that night.  Half of him, his rational side it seemed, wanted nothing more than to see Michael lose control and let his powers loose on her.  But a disturbingly large portion of his heart had shouted at him to take her in his arms and protect her from all the flying threats and accusations.  He had successfully masked these feelings with sarcasm and biting verbal attacks, but when it had come right down to it, he hadn't been able to see her physically injured.  No matter how 'fair' he knew it would be, he simply could not be the one who saw her put under the knife at some government facility.  In all honesty, he wasn't sure what he would have done if the group had voted differently, but he couldn't say for certain that he wouldn't have done something stupid to ensure her safety.

            And then…and then, it got too hard to think about.  Just allowing his thoughts to travel down that path touched a nerve that was still too raw to approach.  There were times over the past year that he had thought he would die from the pain of her departure.  She had seemed so far away…too far for him to comprehend, and that distance had been coupled with the sting of betrayal.  But he had had no idea what pain was then. 

            He didn't have a star to search for now.  Even the aliens had no way of getting to the place that she had gone to. 

            He silently cursed the wetness appearing on his cheeks, and brushed it away with disgust.  Isabel shifted from her position at the window to shoot him an empathetic glance, and Kyle realized he must have muttered aloud.

            He just nodded.  Yeah, he'd play along.  They thought he wept for his father and his hometown, and that was fine with him.  Not that he didn't miss his dad, but maybe the homesickness just hadn't hit him yet or something, 'cause most of the tears he shed were for a girl he'd once called "soul-less."  And if they knew, they might very well kick him out on the side of the road.

            Luckily his dismal train of thought was broken as the van pulled over in front of a dilapidated-looking motel.  The group began to stir out of its stale silence, stretching their arms and legs as they clambered out into the fresh air.  Liz giggled as she tripped weak-kneed into Max's chest and remained firmly stuck in his embrace.  Their four friends rolled their eyes tolerantly, and exchanged looks that could only have meant, "Newlyweds…." 

            No one said much, other than a brief conversation about finances, in which it was determined that they could only afford one room that night.  Staying overnight anywhere other than the van was a treat in itself, so they didn't complain.  It was easily agreed that the girls would share the sole bed, and the guys valiantly arranged piles of left-over pillows and cushions to crash on for the night.

            Soon the only sounds detectable to an outside observer were soft snores and heavy breathing.  Kyle remained awake, though, staring at the ceiling in contemplation.  Above him, Isabel's long arm draped over the side of the mattress, nearly brushing his face.  He scooted to his left as quietly as possible, leaving her as much room as she needed to twist and turn.  Suddenly he caught his breath, and moved ever so carefully to his knees to gaze at her sleeping form.

            She muffled soft sobs into her pillow, and her whole body was trembling.  Not sure whether she was truly awake or merely crying in her sleep, Kyle shushed her gently, rubbing her back as he did so.  He whispered quiet words of encouragement into her ear, in the hopes of providing some solace, whether or not she actually could tell what he was saying.

            After a few long minutes, she stilled, and her stomach began to rise and fall rhythmically.  He brushed the remaining tears from her cheeks, and after assuring himself that she was okay, laid himself back onto his 'bed'. 

            The moment he relaxed, visions accosted him. Tess: begging him for mercy, appealing to the bond they had once held, fighting for survival, stepping courageously into that base and-

            Kyle sat up once more in frustration. It was clear sleep was not going to find him that night, or if it did, he did not want to experience whatever dreams it held.  With all the care he could muster, he slipped quietly from the room, determined to walk off the troubles that plagued him.

            Once he reached the parking lot, however, he decided that Max might not be too happy with him if he wandered off alone into the property surrounding the motel, so he opted instead to perch himself atop the van's hood and wait for the sunrise. 

            A cool wind swept the lot, and he soon began to regret not grabbing his jacket on the way out.  Who knew it could be so chilly in early July, even if they were in Colorado? 

            Rubbing his bare arms to generate some warmth, Kyle instinctively scanned the area for anything suspicious.  There were hardly any other cars in the lot, the closest one being a small, navy blue flat-bed truck, parked a few spaces away from the van.

            He had almost turned his eyes away from it when a slight movement from inside stopped him.  Peering closer, he realized that someone was stretched across the front seats, apparently struggling to attain some level of comfort by flipping over repeatedly.

            Natural curiosity, boredom, and a certain level of wariness provoked Kyle to hop down and make his way cautiously toward the vehicle. Just a peek would assure him that it was no black-suited government agent on their tail.

            He waited until the mysterious form had been still for a long while before approaching the window.  Wincing as his shoes crunched the gravel, he prayed that whoever was in there was a sound sleeper.

            The person had scrunched themselves into a ball with the back of their head resting against the window Kyle looked into.  A bulky wool blanket hid the rest of their body from his sight. 

            It was too dark to tell much more than the fact that the figure had dark hair.  Probably just some guy who had about as much money as we do, Kyle decided, taking a step back with the intention of returning to the van.

            And at that moment is heart fell to his feet, only to leap to his throat, and essentially render him completely immobilized.

            The figure had whirled around, apparently at some slight noise from him, and was now staring straight at him, a mixture of terror and defiance in their eyes.

            But it was more than the person's sudden awakening that had startled Kyle.  Her face, for the figure was certainly female, was alarmingly familiar.  Yes, she was a brunette and her eyes had darkened to a deep indigo, but there was no mistaking the unique beauty of her features.

            He opened and shut his mouth several times before he could make a sound, and even then he could only emit a strangled gasp that sounded something like, "Tess??"

            She slowly opened the door and stood before him, her gaze firmly fixed on his pale countenance. 

            With a voice softer than he had expected from her bold stance, she asked, "What'd you call me?"

            He brought his hands to his face, covering his eyes and rubbing the bridge of his nose fiercely, begging his sleep-deprived brain to allow him to see more clearly when he looked again.

            But there she was.  Looking up at him expectantly.  Waiting for an answer as if he could actually form a coherent thought.

            He inhaled raggedly before he began. "They told me you were dead.  Was that just another mind-warp?"

             "I'm sorry, but I think you're confused.  I'm not Tess."

            His heart felt like it was being ripped from his chest, and the confusion on his face must have prompted her to explain further.

             "The name's Ava.  Ya know, her…other."

            Finally Kyle felt like he was standing on firm ground again.  Okay, he could make sense of this.  He had heard all about this Dupe business.  Now his body just needed to stop shaking…

              He cocked his head at her silence, then realized that she was waiting for some level of recognition from him before continuing.

            "Yeah, her dupe, I get it."

            Ava nodded. "Kyle, right?"

            "Yeah, that's me," he answered, his voice cracking midway through.  The relief he had felt after learning her identity was quickly evaporating.  Just seeing her like this was killing him.  Like a ghost she stood there, a cruel reminder of the absence of her double.  It was all he could do to keep himself from clutching her in his arms and making-believe that she was someone else.  If only he could…to be able to accomplish everything he had wished to do with Tess, to whisper that he forgave her and would she forgive him for never telling her how he really felt?

            He gave himself a mental shake and suddenly realized the gravity of the situation.

            "What exactly are you doing here Ava?" he spat out in something akin to a growl, "Are the others with you? Lonnie and Rath? And how the hell did you know where we were?"

            "No, Kyle, no. It's not like that.  I haven't seen those two since I left Roswell.  Honest to God," Now her voice faltered as she continued,  "I've been tryin' to make it on my own, ya know?"

            He almost believed her until a new suspicion entered his mind.  "So what's with the look and the voice? Aren't you from New York? Or is this another trick?"

            "It's no trick Kyle.  I just wanted to fit in, okay? That's a little difficult to do when your hair's pink, and you have tattoos plastered all over your body.  Not to mention an accent."

            Kyle knew he probably shouldn't trust her so quickly, considering all the alien crap they'd been through, but he sensed the truth in what she said. It did make sense.

            "Alright Ava, say I do believe you.  That still doesn't explain what you're doing here.  You following us or something? Hey, it's hard enough to try and out-run the feds without extra baggage."

            She bent her head and scuffed the ground with her black shoe, an action that seemed natural to the girl.  She didn't speak for a minute or so, and Kyle was getting frustrated.

            "Look, I don't have all night here. Well, actually I guess I do, but that's beside the point.  I should get the others anyway.  I don't know why I didn't right away." He brushed past her, heading in the direction of the motel, but before she could respond, he stopped again.

            "I thought you got rid of your tattoos," he said, gesturing to a small line of black peeking out from under the sleeve of her shirt.

            She followed his line of sight self-consciously, and with evident reluctance tugged up her sleeve to reveal the Four-Square.  "Well, maybe I wanted to keep this one."

            "Why? To remind you of your past?  I mean, Zan's dead right? And Lonnie and Rath are a couple of murdering assholes.  What's the point?"

            When she remained stubbornly silent, he simply shook his head and started towards the room again.

            Her voice stopped him, and he stilled a moment to compose himself before turning around.  The desperation lacing her tone sent chills down his spine as it echoed the same kind of outburst he had heard from Tess mere months ago. 

            "What?  What do you have to hide Ava?"

            She began slowly, and for the first time Kyle recognized the melancholy that infused her speech. "If they knew I was here, they would never accept me."

            "That's not true Ava! They know you're not like…her."

            "It's not just that.  Lonnie and Rath tried to murder your Zan-"

            He cut her off. "But they told me you helped him! If it wasn't for your advice, Max would have been killed! They know that. If anything they'll thank you."

            "It's not that simple! It would just be too complicated.  You guys have worked so hard to get used to this lifestyle, and I'd disrupt everything needlessly." Her voice softened to a whisper, "I…I don't want them to know I'm here Kyle."

            "What!?  You must be kidding me. Ava, I can't keep this from them! What are you planning on doing anyway? Following us? What's the point?"

            When she re-commenced toe-scruffing, Kyle grabbed her shoulders and forced her to look him in the eyes. "You give me a reason, and it better be a damn good one, or I'm telling them right now."

            He had expected further stalling and some sort of vague, meek response, so the audacity she showed next surprised him. She didn't yell or shout, but walked straight towards where he stood, stopping mere inches from his face.  Her demeanor was confident, but her eyes implored his own with all the intensity she possessed.

             "Kyle, I want to be near him.  I don't care how.  I don't even want him to know I'm here.  I've…I've tried so hard this past year to immerse myself in your society, your human society.  I've done everything I could.  And I succeeded.  People accept me, the "me" I put forward at least.  I look normal.  But…I have this emptiness inside me, Kyle. I thought it would get better.  I thought-I thought that the pain of losing Zan would decrease over time, but it's only gotten worse.  I need him.  I know you don't understand." She paused, taking in his bewildered expression. "I barely understand it myself. All I know is when I'm near him, when I'm near your Zan, it's better.  It's like this numb feeling comes over me, and it doesn't hurt as much anymore.  Please don't take that away from me. Please don't make me have to leave."

            Kyle was understandably speechless for several moments after she had stopped. Trying to make sense out of her words, he sputtered, "You want to be with Max? Is that what you're saying?"

             "I don't want to be with him Kyle.  I know he's married, and he looks very happy with Liz.  She's kinda my friend, so I'm-I'm glad for them.  I'm not the kind of person who would come between a husband and wife, if that's what you're thinking.  There's just…something about Za-Max.  Like this electricity in the air when he's around me.  Maybe it's not healthy. Hell, of course it's not healthy. I just need it right now. Will you help me Kyle?  It won't be forever, I promise.  Maybe I am just torturing myself, I don't know.  I just…I just couldn't live somewhere else knowing that he's out there.  Do you have any idea what I mean?"

            Did he know what she meant? Did he know what she meant? He was probably the one person in the entire world who knew exactly how she felt.  When Tess had left the first time, he'd lived on auto-pilot for weeks, months maybe.  He just hadn't been able to focus on everyday life without his mind wandering to her.  What was she doing? Who was she with? Was she alive? Was she thinking of him?

            And now, now that she was really gone, and Ava was there….well, he knew just what 'electricity' she spoke of.  Maybe she wouldn't believe him if he told her.  Maybe she thought it was just an alien thing.  Maybe it was just an alien thing, and it was working with him 'cause he was one of them now.  He didn't know.  All he knew was…he could empathize with her perfectly. 

            Kyle realized he had been quiet for too long, and answered more nonchalantly than he felt, "Yeah, yeah I know what you mean."

             "Then you won't tell them?"

             "No, I'll keep your secret for now." He gestured for her to join him on the hood of the van. "But I have to ask: If you don't talk to Max, what good does it do? What are you actually planning on doing? Or, what have you been doing, should I ask?"

            She blushed faintly.  "I haven't been following you that long, Kyle.  I'm not naturally a stalker or nothin', I promise." She grinned slightly at him, and his stomach did flip-flops. "A couple weeks ago, I saw you all in Rockvale.  I was waitressing at that deli you stopped at on Route 67." He nodded, remembering the greasy joint well. "I swear, when I saw him, I dropped everything I was holding.  I nearly had a heart attack.  The whole time you ate there, I just stared at you guys from the kitchen.  My boss fired me, but I didn't care, I was gonna quit anyway."

             "So you just hopped in your car and tailed us?  And you've been doing this ever since?" He leaned back and chuckled to himself. "Wow, and we thought we were so good at covering out tracks." Still, he considered, they had been careful, really careful. "Ava, we watch the road in shifts--How could we have missed your car? Can you, you know, do things with your mind too?"

             "No, no it wasn't that. I mean, yeah, I used to be able to do those kinda freaky mental things, but I haven't tried in forever.  I just go like this-" She let her fingertips come to rest on the old VW and instantly it transformed into a flashy hotrod. Then she pressed her hand onto the hood once more, and it changed back. "See? The reason you didn't notice that my car was following you is that it wasn't the same car.  I change it at rest-stops and places like that."

            Okay, that explained a lot then.  He nodded in understanding, and they were silent for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts.

             "So what have you been doing all this time," he asked after a while. "All I know so far is that you were missing Zan and working at sleazy restaurants."

            She giggled at this and assured him with a laugh that that basically covered it.  "I move from place to place a lot.  Just small towns mostly.  I think my whole New York experience turned me off of big cities, for a while at least.  I'd like to go back someday and live right, ya know?  Be one of those people in Central Park pushing a baby carriage and chatting with friends." She suddenly looked very vulnerable, and Kyle's heart twisted. "I used to watch people like that.  A lot.  When Rath and Lonnie were off screwin' or whatever, and Zan was going through his "loner" phases.  I'd have killed to have what they had."

            Ava talked for most of the night.  Filling him in on her past and present and the dreams she had for the future.  She obviously hadn't had someone to pour her heart out to for a long time. Kyle thought it was highly possible that she never had had anyone to begin with.

            They were resting in comfortable silence when the faint blush of dawn began to emerge on the horizon.  Kyle suddenly felt nervous, realizing that he would have to go back inside soon and try not to blow her cover.  It wouldn't feel right lying to them, but he had no choice.  He'd made a promise to Ava, and she deserved to have someone look out for her this once.

            She seemed to understand that it was time for them to part.  Scooting off the van, she reached over and hugged Kyle, thanking him for his kindness and for being a good listener.  For his part, Kyle just nodded an easy, "Sure" and tried his best to ignore the way her hair felt tickling against his neck, the way her chest mashed into his own, and the way her breath whispered into his ear.

            Ava headed for her car, and Kyle turned to finally head back to the motel.  When he looked back she was speeding away in a white Civic, sure to be headed for the first gas station where she would lie in wait for the van when it passed by.

            Inhaling deeply and forcing himself to be calm, Kyle pushed open the glass door and made his way to their room.  He had a feeling it was going to be a long day.


            Thanks for reading! Remember to leave some feedback so I can know your thoughts on this ongoing story.  The next chapter should be out soon, if all goes as planned.