Seeing Clearly Disclaimer: Not my characters. I'll never be so lucky. There's an inside joke here. Some people will get it, some won't. Kinda the point of an inside joke I guess. For those of you who get it I couldn't resist *G* Oh come ON! You didn't see it coming?!

*******

Seeing Clearly


"Have you met her?" Isabel demanded as she turned in her seat to look at Liz. Her expression was sour.

Blinking as she looked up from her math assignment, confusion was evident on her face. "Huh?"

"Alex's new girlfriend, Isabel told her impatiently. "Have you met her?"

"Ohhh," Liz said knowingly, "Her. Sure, I've met her." She shrugged nonchalantly and looked back down at her homework. If she could get this done before class was over, her life would be so much better. The again, the chance to taunt Isabel didn't happen often.

"Who is she? Do I know her?" Isabel prodded.

"Hmmm I doubt it," Liz answered without looking up. "She's not from Roswell." The pencil continued to work equations, not wavering under Isabel's glare.

"I see." Isabel turned around in her seat. There was some kind of satisfaction knowing the new girl wasn't from Roswell. Then something else came to mind. Turning once again, she looked at Liz. "So how does he know her?"

Liz sighed dramatically and rolled her eyes. Tossing her pencil to the notebook, she looked at the other girl and sighed with exasperation. "Because they've been friends since before he moved to Roswell, and why aren't you asking him this stuff? It is his girlfriend after all."

With a toss of her hand, Isabel flung blonde hair back impatiently. Obviously she wasn't phrasing her questions properly here because she wasn't getting what she wanted. "Because he won't tell me anything. Just says that I'd be mean to her."

Snickering, unable to completely hold back the laugh, Liz grinned slightly at the other girl. "You have been known to be a bit aloof now and again."

Isabel snapped her mouth shut as she realized it was hanging open. "I am no such thing." Muttering dismissively, she tossed another glare at Liz.

Snorting softly, Liz turned her attention back to her work. "If you say so. Can I please get back to this now? I don't want to have to take it home."

Grumbling under her breath, Isabel waved a hand over the paper. Before Liz could retrieve her pencil from the page, the answers appeared as if by magic. "I've already done it. What's her name?"

Liz groaned and leaned back in her chair, regarding Isabel seriously. The girl was worse than a bulldog with a bone. "Her name is Carrie. She's a nice girl. I've met her several times. Typical of Alex's choices I guess. Small, dark hair, green eyes. Very smart. Talented. Cute I guess. They grew up together until his dad got re-stationed, but they kept in touch. She lives in Phoenix. They've kept in touch all these years and I guess have recently struck up a new romance. Are you satisfied now?"

A deep scowl ran across Isabel's face. "If she lives that far away, how are they going to make it work? We all know that long distance thing never works out in the end." The smirk that replaced the scowl seemed to be full of smug satisfaction.

Looking at the other girl, Liz took some comfort in getting to goad Isabel. "Well, they've kept in touch for this many years, why wouldn't it work? Besides, she said her parents were thinking of moving. Her dad's job isn't going great and he's getting frustrated. Alex's dad said he has a position for Carrie's dad if they want to move. So maybe she'll end up here after all."

Another glare, but this time Isabel said nothing, choosing instead to merely turn around in her seat and seethe.

Glancing up from her paper, Liz grinned at the back of Isabel's head. It served her right not to have Alex at her beck and call anymore. Besides, Isabel was the one who hadn't wanted them to be together.

*******

"Let me guess, you've seen her too," Isabel said as she flopped down onto the grass. The brown paper bag that held her lunch had seen better days.

Max looked up from his lunch. His sister was in a mood it seemed. "Seen who?"

Isabel's eyes narrowed and she looked at him intently for a moment. Seeing no shift in his aura, she frowned. "Alex's new girlfriend."

"Oh!" Max said and grinned. "Haven't actually seen her, but I did talk to her on the phone the other day when she called Alex. Seen pictures." He took a drink of his soda. "Cute girl. Seems nice."

Glaring, she watched as her brother continued his lunch. "So, am I the only person who hasn't met or spoken to her?"

He shrugged, swallowing a bite of his sandwich. "Dunno. Could be. You're not the friendliest person on the planet." A slight smirk. "Besides, why do you care?"

"Because I'm being left out," she nearly whined. "Besides, I'm not that bad." Max merely looked at her. "I wouldn't be mean to her." Still looking. "Fine, I don't like her. But I might have if you guys had just told me."

"Not our place to tell Is. Not our new girlfriend." Max almost smiled as he watched her squirm. "If she moves here, we might have to tell her."

For the second time in less than an hour, Isabel's mouth fell open. "Oh you cannot be serious. You don't even know this girl! She could spill it!"

Max shrugged. "We'll have to see. If she moves, then keeping the secret will be too hard. But who knows. Maybe she'll stay where she is." He was enjoying this way too much.

Isabel tossed him another glare as she rose.

"One can hope," she muttered as she stalked way.

*******

"If she's that great, then why are you guys just hooking up now?" Isabel asked trying to keep an even tone. It wasn't working as well as she had hoped.

"It complicated. We've been friends for a long time, and sometimes you don't want to risk that to move onto something else," Alex replied, then took a drink from his soda. "Besides, when dad was stationed in Japan, it was kind of hard to even think about it. But then we moved here, and she isn't too far away I guess."

Jealousy ate at her and she was suddenly glad Alex couldn't see auras the way she could. Hers must be streaked through with some hideous shade of green. You have no right to be anything but happy for him, she told herself harshly. She turned her attention back to her fries and shrugged. "I see. Have you seen her lately?"

"Last weekend." A smile lit up Alex's face. The kind of smile that used to be reserved for her. "We went to the zoo. They have a nice tiger exhibit there this time of year." Isabel plastered a smile on her lips and hoped it matched his. "She'll be here in a few weeks. You can meet her then if you really want." Alex eyed her a moment. "But you have to be nice to her."

"Wouldn't be anything but," Isabel ground out, sorry she had brought the whole thing up with him in the first place. Praying Max would show early, she turned away from her plate of uneaten food.

*******

Oh this could not get any more disgusting, she told herself as the looked at the couple. Alex and Carrie were cuddling across the table. It was enough to make someone nauseous. Isabel rolled her eyes and sighed. Max looked at her and she merely shrugged.

It had been going on like this all night. Alex gushed over Carrie. Carrie blushed and told him to stop. So he gushed some more. Then on with the kissing. Blech. Disgusting. Isabel was tired of seeing it. She was also tired of hearing it. Carrie is so smart. Carrie is so talented. Have you seen her web page? Have you heard her theories on the genetics of cancer? Have you seen the pictures from her last trip? Have you wanted to punch her in the face? Smirking slightly at that thought, Isabel groaned to herself. This was all too much.

Her appetite suddenly escaping her, Isabel shoved the plate of food away from her and rose.

"Well, this has been entirely too much fun for me. I'm going."

Alex smiled up at her, "Are you sure? We thought we might take in a movie. The Green Mile is one of Carrie's favorites." Carrie beamed at him and snuggled close.

"Way sure," Isabel muttered as she turned for the door. One more snuggle and she'd rip the girl's throat out. Or better yet, stomp her into the ground.

***

Max grinned at Alex. "Well, you did what no man has ever done before."

With a mock bow, Alex returned the grin. "It takes a strong man for such things," he said with exaggeration, "I shall try my best to keep it up and survive."

Liz rolled her eyes and looked at Maria. "Careful," she whispered, "It's getting deep in here."

Maria grinned, but said nothing.

"I got the feeling she wanted to hurt me," Carrie said with exaggerated, wide-eyed innocence, "I don't think she likes me much."

Everyone laughed.

*******

A grunt of frustration escaped her as she kicked the pile of laundry, sending it flying in all directions. She'd only have to pick it up later, but for now it felt good to take out her anger on something. Of course there was a someONE she'd rather take it out on, but that wasn't going to happen in the near future. Well, at least not if she could restrain herself. It was iffy right now.

Just another couple of days, she told herself. Just a few more days and then she'll be gone and you can forget you ever laid eyes on her. A faint smile at that. And if things go well, Alex will forget he's ever laid eyes on her as well. While the thought took her by surprise, it made her smile.

The smile faded as she flopped down onto the bed. It wasn't fair. Alex was supposed to act like that, but only around her. Even though she knew she had no right to feel that way, her heart wasn't listening. It was too busy hurting. Isabel sighed and rolled over. Sliding her hand under the pillow, a faint smile touched mer lips as her hand made contact with the book. He had bought it for her a while ago, an astronomy book. She had treated him badly that day though, and maybe he had never forgiven her.

Not that she had the right to expect him to forgive her. She had watched his heart crumble then. Perhaps she should be happy he could move on. Perhaps, but the fact of the matter was, she wasn't happy. Isabel was miserable, and she knew it. Miserable because the guy she had told to get lost had found someone else. Something was just wrong with that. Denying it would do no good. Grumbling under her breath, she reached for the play button of her CD player and turned it on. Ahhh, nice soothing, ANGRY, music. She loved The Offspring.

*******

Max stood at the door and shook his head. The whole thing had hit her harder than he had honestly expected. And now he wasn't so sure that was a good thing. Sure, his sister always seemed to think Alex would follow any place she went or any place she told him to go, but the look on her face the feelings that had come from her all night had finally brought him home. He couldn't take it any more. With a soft knock he pushed open the door.

"Go away," she said without looking up. "I'm not in the mood for any kind of brotherly love."

"No, you're more in the mood for some Alex kind of love huh?" That earned him a patent Isabel glare. Another one of those and he might explode into dust. "You only listen to this stuff when you're mad. I listen to the Counting Crows. You listen to Offspring from the early days."

She chose to say nothing, preferring to sulk instead. Max watched his sister and sighed. Damn, she was more stubborn than Michael on a mission. If that was possible. Ok, not possible. But she could give him a run for his money on the stubborn race.

"So what is it then?" he asked, giving her the chance to prove him wrong.

"Nothing. Now will you go away?"

"Not that stupid Is. And I'm not so stupid that I don't know insane jealousy when I see it. I should know. I used to see it all the time coming from Kyle."

"Didn't I tell you to go away already?" she asked with exasperation. He earned yet another glare.

"I think so," he replied with a grin. Dust, he could feel his bones begin to crumble. Max grinned more. "Come in Izzy, tell me."

Isabel looked at him, clearly debating whether or not she should tell him anything. But time won out. She had been telling him everything since they broke out of their pods. It's not like she was going to stop now.

"I don't know," she admitted. "I mean it's not like we were dating. It's not like I didn't tell him to go away." She sighed. "But I watched them together and it bugged me. I mean it's me Alex has dreamed about for the past two years. Why the hell is she here anyway? Why can't she just get lost?"

He smiled softly and sat down on the bed, careful not to actually touch her, knowing she wouldn't want that. "And I'm sure you know all about what the boy dreams about don't you?" She scowled but said nothing. There wasn't much she could say to that. "Isabel, why can't you just admit you like him?"

Lower lip was pulled between teeth ash she chewed on it. Obviously there was something she was going to say that she didn't think he would like to hear. He nodded an encouragement. Nothing she could say would make much of a difference she was his sister.

"I've seen you and Liz," she nearly whispered.

"Huh?" Ok, so that wasn't the answer he was expecting. 'He's not cool enough' was more along the lines of what he had been expecting from her.

"I've seen you and Liz," she repeated, louder this time. "I've seen all the things you've gone through. All the pain both of you have been in because of everything. I've seen how you look at each other, then keep each other at arm's length. I've seen her cry because of you, and I've felt the pain you've felt because of her. I don't want to do that Max. I don't want to be like you. I don't want to love someone and have to tell myself that I can't be near them. Tell myself that being close will only hurt one of us. Because that's not the way it's supposed to be."

"Oh," he finally managed after a long silence. "Maybe Liz and I don't have the perfect relationship, but at least she knows how I feel. At least we can admit the feelings we have."

Isabel smiled faintly. Sometimes her brother wasn't as smart as he thought he was. But telling him that would be a waste of breath. Maybe.

"Does she?" his sister asked. "Does she really know, or does she spend half her time wondering? Because I know how much time you spend wondering if you can stay away from her. Wondering if she'll forget about you and move on. And how much of the time do you talk about being together? Yet you spend most of the time you have being apart."

She left him to think about that, rolling over to face the wall. The book clutched tightly to her chest. Maybe he couldn't see clearly, but she could.

*******

"Alex?"

The sound of his name made him turn. The mouth it came from made him smile. "Isabel," he replied, "how nice to see you again. Where've you been all weekend? Carrie and I wanted to take everyone out again, but Max said you had plans."

Plans? She had plans? Oh yeah. The sitting at home moping because you didn't want to see them plans. Right. Those plans. She tried to smile but found she couldn't.

"I - That's kind of what I wanted to talk to you about Alex." She felt like her heart was residing in her throat and she wondered what he would say after she had told him everything.

"Oh? Something wrong with Carrie?" The faint amusement in his voice wasn't missed by her.

"Alex, this isn't funny." Instantly his face went serious again. "I mean, it's not funny to me I guess." A deep breath. "I - I don't want" She couldn't finish the sentence. Instead she shoved the astronomy book at him. "I want to try this out. Friday. If you want."

Holding the book tightly, he stared down at it a moment. Never in a million years did he think he would be in this situation. A million scenarios had played out in his mind, but this hadn't been one of them. Alex hadn't believed she had kept the book that it had meant anything to her after those words she had spoke in the kitchen. He had just assumed she had tossed it, worst case scenario. Maybe put it on a bookshelf to gather dust at best. But the pages were worn, obviously looked at. The spine was creased as if someone had taken the time to actually read it. The thought that she had kept the book was staggering. The thought that she had actually read it. That it might have meant something was mind blowing. He wasn't sure there was anything he could say to convey the amazement he felt.

"Isabel, I-" Alex found himself in the same situation she had been in only moments before. "Friday. Want me to bring the hot chocolate? It might be kind of cool out there."

"Sure," she said with a slight smile. "Are you sure you don't have plans?"

Alex returned the smile. "I'm sure that any plans I have couldn't be more important."

*******

The back of the Jeep had proved to be too cramped for both of them to get comfortable. Fortunately, Alex had the foresight to bring a couple of blankets as well as a thermos of hot chocolate. After spreading one on the ground, they had sprawled on it, looking up at the sky. She pointed out the constellations to him again. Even though she had done this before, he didn't complain. Moving to the book, she pointed out other things, things she hadn't known until the book. He smiled, but didn't interrupt.

"What has you grinning so big?" she asked finally.

"Nothing," he replied nonchalantly. "I guess I just never figured we'd be star gazing again."

Rolling over onto her side so she could look at him, she propped her head on her hand. "Why?"

Alex rolled over to face her. "Because you didn't seem to want anything else to do with me after that."

Isabel couldn't stop the cringe that came. She had known she had hurt him, but she didn't think he would take it the way he seemed to. "It's not that I don't like you Alex."

"I know, I know," he said, cutting her off, "I suffocate you." With that, he flopped back over onto his back, yelling at himself for having gone through with this. Being out here with her was just a bad idea. It only served to remind him how much he cared about her. And how much she didn't care about him.

Only a few second passed, but it seemed like ages. Thoughts and emotions flowed around her, in her, making her wonder what would make things right between them. If he wanted a new girlfriend, fine. She didn't have to like it, but she would live. Isabel just wanted him around again. Wanted him to smile at her every morning. Wanted him to show up in her neighborhood again. Leaning closer, she took a deep breath, then --

-- put her lips to his gently, fear racing through her that he would just shove her away. Like she flat out deserved.

But he didn't. Instead he wound his hand into her hair and pulled her closer, deepening the kiss she started. Tongues worked around one another and he pulled her closer until she was resting against his chest.

Alex tasted the chocolate on her lips and licked them lightly, sucking her lower one into his mouth. Her hands slid across his shoulders, gripping tightly when he kissed her deeply again. The kiss continued, ending only after Alex broke free, gasping for air.

"Oh wow," he whispered.

"Alex?"

"Yeah?"

"I mean that was nice and all, far be it from me to try to ruin the mood we have going here, but"

"But what?"

"What are you going to tell your girlfriend?"

He chuckled softly and pulled her close again, stroking her hair lightly as she rested her head against his shoulder. Her body felt incredible nest to his, and he almost said nothing else so he could keep her there. But he couldn't lie to her. It just wasn't his way.

"She's not my girlfriend."

"Huh?" She looked up at him, frowning. "When did you break up with her?"

"We were never going out." His hand stilled on her hair.

Confusion colored her face. "And again I'm going to say, huh?"

With a deep breath he tried to explain.

"I didn't want you to think I was suffocating you again. I mean, even if we were just hanging out, with everyone, I always felt like maybe you thought I was stalking you or something. But if I were obviously there with someone else." Alex shrugged the shoulder that didn't have her weight against it. "Carrie and I have been friends forever. She does live in Phoenix, and I have known her since I was a kid. But we're just good friends. Like me and Liz or Maria."

"You faked it!" she cried, thumping him in the chest with her fist. Alex coughed, rubbing the spot she had hit, trying not to wince in pain as he thought of an answer. Isabel didn't give him a chance to answer. "You faked it," she said again. "But you did it because of me, didn't you?"

He considered lying. But it still wasn't his way. "Yeah," he said softly. "I didn't want you to hate me. So I guess I did it for me too."

The smile that pulled at her mouth couldn't be helped. But she felt if he explained himself, she had some explaining of her own to do.

"I'm sorry." The words were soft. Apologies weren't her usual thing. She felt him begin to ask why, but cut him off in a hurry. "I didn't mean everything I said. Well, not most of it." A sigh. This wasn't going well. "I liked you. And it scared me. I mean, look at Max and Liz and everything they put each other through because one of them always thinks it just can't be. I don't want to hurt like that Alex. I don't want you to hurt like that."

They were both silent for a while, taking in the things that had and hadn't been said. Finally Alex broke the silence.

"Where do we go from here?" he asked as he began to stroke her hair again.

"Don't know," she replied, snuggling closer. "I guess we just wing it. See where it takes us."

Alex kissed the top of her head, causing her to smile. "Works for me." Silence. "But will you promise not to hit me again?"

Isabel laughed and snuggled closer. "I don't think there will be a need for that." She smiled against him. "Now that I see things clearly."