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I just want you to know who I am

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***

 

It takes two days for Michael to tell Alex as much about his heritage as possible. It would have been faster if Alex hadn't bailed on him only ten minutes after he'd turned up on the first day, promising to come back the next day after he was finished at the base.

 

Michael honestly expected him to either arrive with a flight of Airmen set on locking him and his siblings up, or just not come back at all.

 

But he's there after work at six PM, and they pick the conversation up again, Michael showing him around the bunker and hoping this isn't the biggest mistake he's ever made.

 

He's so tired of secrets and lies, though. And Alex is right - they don't talk and if they're ever going to be anything at all, they have to start somewhere. The alien-shaped elephant in the room is as good a place as any, and then Michael wants to learn more about twenty-eight year old Alex and seventeen year old Alex and every Alex in between.

 

He isn't entirely sure he wants Alex to get to know who Michael is now, though.

 

The version of him that Alex had apparently loved ten years ago was a smart kid with a sense of humor and a love of guitar, a future ahead of him as an engineer and a life outside Roswell to offer Alex.

 

Twenty-eight year old Michael doesn't have much at all. A busted hand, a job at a scrapyard, a bad reputation and an addiction issue.

 

Oh, and he's a confirmed alien.

 

No, Michael is pretty sure what they had is never going to be something they have again, because he actually wouldn't blame Alex at all if he walked away once everything is out in the open, but he's willing to try. He willingly shares everything he can about his past, his present, the plans he has for the future when it comes to the ship. He gives Alex the power to destroy him and the tiny family he still has, and he just prays that the loaded gun he’s handed the man isn't about to be used on him.

 

He talks and talks and talks, and he tries not to look like a mournful puppy everytime he glances in Alex's direction and just wants to curl up beside him, and a little voice in the back of his head says it can't be this easy. It can't stop at Alex saying that it's a lot of information to take in, then staying .

 

It ends up being nearly eleven PM and Alex is still sitting beside him in a lawn chair on what counts as Michael's entertainment area, the crackling fire warming them while they stare up at the stars, and that annoying voice starts up again, reminding Michael that Alex still hasn't asked about Maria.

 

Not even twenty seconds later, Alex pipes up, his voice carefully neutral, and Michael wonders if the smart little shit is more telepathic than Isobel or if he just jinxed himself.

 

“So, why Maria?”

 

“I didn't do it because she was your friend, if that's what you're asking.” And it's the truth. He might be an asshole but he wouldn't mess with Alex or Maria like that.  He also wouldn't be surprised if Alex thinks Michael is just that sort of asshole who'd sleep with Alex's best friend to hurt him.

 

He can't look at him while he talks, so he keeps staring off at one distant, bright star. Maybe he'll be lucky and it'll fall out of the sky and land on him so he can't stick his boot too far into his mouth.

 

“I thought we were done, you know? I thought you'd walked away for the last time, that I wasn't even worth a decent break up. And I ended up in Texas with Max, and Maria was there with Liz -”

 

“At the faith healer? What were you and Max doing seeing her?” Alex rolls his head towards Michael, but Michael can't bring himself to do more than watch him out of the corner of his eye.

 

“There was a symbol on her flyer. It's the same as Max's tattoo, the same as Wyatt Long started scribbling, and apparently the same as I was drawing all over the walls when Max and Isobel got adopted. Which it turns out, is probably why I got left behind. We wanted to see if this woman was …” Michael sighs and shifts his gaze to the fire while he picks idly at the label of his beer bottle, feeling small and ashamed and incredibly stupid all at once.

 

“You wanted to see if she was one of you,” Alex says gently. “I'm guessing she wasn't?”

 

“Nope.” The ‘p’ pops loud in the night and Michael decides to just get everything else out in a rush instead of dragging it on. “Total fraud. So Maria got drunk and high and mad, and I was pissed off at everything going on so I was kind of following her around a bit. We ended up going for a walk, got lost, she got mad at me because it somehow was my fault, and somehow we came to the conclusion that it'd be a great idea for me to hook up with a woman who threatens to turn a hose on me at least twice a week.”

 

It may have come out in one hit, but every word he says he takes as much care in choosing as a tipsy alien can, not wanting something too idiotic to come out and wreck things more. When Alex doesn't try to say anything, Michael keeps going. “It was just dumb fun, something to distract both of us from everything in our lives. She pretty much threatened to cut my dick off if I told anyone then refused to let me stop for coffee on the way back here, so I think we can safely say it isn't going to happen again.”

 

Alex snorts, sounding genuinely amused. “I'm not threatened by Maria, Guerin. Not now, anyway.”

 

And his last name on Alex's tongue but never his first is something that Michael's kind of sick of and has been for years, and now is probably the time to say something. Now that they're apparently going to do things better, and before he tells Alex he has nothing to be threatened by. Not when he slept with Maria because she reminds him of Alex, the good and bad parts. Sassy and snarky and fun, and excellent in bed, knowing exactly what she wanted and bending Michael to her will. And just like Alex she didn't like looking at him in the light of day, didn't want anyone to know and wanted it to never happen again. He doesn't need two versions of that heartbreak in his life, thanks.

 

“Can you … maybe try calling me Michael sometimes?” He asks quietly then shrinks in on himself, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment. Now that he's said it, it sounds dumber than in his head as well as greedy. He's honestly lucky Alex has stuck around tonight to call him anything at all, even if it's only his last name.

 

He goes to stand up, wishing he'd kept his mouth shut. They're out of beer and he needs something far stronger if he's going to keep sticking his heart on the line. “Never mind. You want another drink?”

 

Michael's barely out of his chair when Alex's hand wraps around his wrist and tugs him back down until Michael drops heavily into it again, the old chair creaking angrily.

 

It takes Alex a moment to get whatever it is he wants to say off his chest, but he doesn't let go of Michael's wrist, strong fingers wrapped tightly around the bone. Eventually he swallows loud enough for Michael to hear and his thumb starts to rub a circle over his pulse. “I've been calling you by your last name for more than a decade. Has … has that been a problem for you all that time?”

 

Michael chances a glimpse at Alex, eyes catching on where he's holding him and the corded muscle standing out on the back of his hand, before travelling up to his face and those big wet eyes glistening in the fire light.

 

He hates seeing Alex cry, no matter how many tears Michael's spilled because of him in the past. So he stares back at the fire, letting the flames distract him while he says what's bothering him for the first time in a very long time.

 

“It’s not a problem, per se. I like anything you're calling me that isn't ‘criminal’ or ‘terrorist.’ But I didn't pick my name,” he says, then realizes how stupid that sounds. “I mean, I guess not many people do. But there's no parents out there who bothered to call me Michael Guerin. When we were found, I can't remember if they called us anything. I couldn't speak or understand much English then. When nobody ever claimed us the foster system gave us names, just Max, Michael and Isobel. Eventually Max and Isobel got adopted and became the Evans twins, and someone at the home called me Guerin.”

 

The hurt that brings back, of being left behind and abandoned and not even having a name to match the only family he had makes Michael's eyes sting with tears. But he pushes through the pain, because he wants Alex to know one more thing that's made him the way he is now, and if he starts crying he's afraid he'll never stop.

 

“I don't really have friends or much of a family, and I’ve always been Guerin to everyone except Isobel, Max and Liz. Michael was the guy who had a future ahead of him. but now everyone only sees Guerin, the asshole who isn't going anywhere and doesn't belong to anyone. I just … it’d be nice sometimes, to be Michael with you.”

 

His throat aches from the emotional pain and talking so much, and there's hot tears threatening to overflow onto his cheeks, but Alex is still holding him tight enough to bruise and it feels strangely right , so Michael stays still and waits to see if Alex has anything to say in return.

 

It takes a while, and that’s okay. Michael's aware he just dropped a mental-issue bomb on the guy. He sits quietly, finally patient like a few dozen foster parents had always wanted him to be.

 

“Why didn't you tell me?” Alex eventually asks plaintively, the hurt thick in his voice. “I know we've been pretty bad at talking, but that's …” He shakes his head sadly. “Michael, you should have said something years ago.”

 

Just hearing his name out of Alex's mouth is enough to make him let out a hiccuping sob and send the tears spilling down his face, and before he knows what's happening he's got his arms full of Airman. Alex moves faster than Michael's seen before, managing to get up and park himself sideways across Michael's lap, arms wrapped around him so tightly that Michael's genuinely concerned that he won't be able to breathe soon.

 

Oxygen is overrated compared to a hug from Alex, so Michael holds him just as close, letting Alex press his lips into his hair while his thumbs brush back and forth over Michael's skin through his shirt, one on his shoulder and the other on his lower back.

They've never done this before. Their hands roamed, grabbed, pulled each other closer, curled around each other in bed, but they’ve never actually held each other like this. Not even when both of them needed it more than anything in that summer in 2008, two stressed, guilty and plain out terrified teenagers trying to figure out what to do next.

Michael didn't realize what he was missing until now,  because he's content to stay here forever, just being held by Alex. He can pretend the life he's tried so hard to protect isn't threatening to implode on him with every new person who learns their secret, and he can forget that there's another alien that’s out there killing people. He can think that maybe they’ll be able to make this fresh start work, if they both just try hard enough.

He tries to keep the crying to a minimum though - there's been just about enough emoting for the day for him. A few tears still slip loose, falling on Alex's shirt and leaving him with wet spots when Michael eventually tugs his face out of his neck to find Alex watching him with suspiciously damp eyes.

“Thank you,” he whispers, hoarse from hours of an emotional rollercoaster and talking more than he has for most of his life.

Alex shakes his head and slides one hand up Michael's back, cupping his neck before he gets his fingers into his curls and starts gently detangling the bird's nest Michael's sure he's got going on. “It's fine. I just wish you'd told me sooner. I didn't know I was hurting you.”

Michael shrugs as much as he can with Alex on his lap, which isn't much at all. “It's fine.”

It really is. Alex is here. He's got no idea what's going to happen next, but Alex is in Michael's arms where he belongs, and the pain and noise and chaos inside him has finally settled down. It's finally quiet enough in his head that Michael thinks he'll be able to fall asleep without his usual shot of acetone.

But then Alex punches a harsh breath out through his nose and moves as though he's going to get up and sit back in his own chair, and the noise picks up again and Michael feels that same thrum of desperate panic low down in his gut like every other time Alex leaves him. His hands tighten where he's holding Alex steady, arms wrapped around his waist, and he knows Alex is strong enough to leave anyway if he wants to, but Michael prays to a god he doesn't believe in that he just stays a little longer.

 

He doesn't want to know what's written all over his face, but from the way Alex gets that look like he did in high school when he found out Michael was living in his truck, it's not good.

 

Alex's mouth twists as he makes up his mind, and that thing inside Michael settles again when he doesn't move away any more. But he still looks kind of pissed, and Michael has to steel himself not to shrink away from him when he starts to speak, dreading the words. “This is part of what I was talking about earlier. You have to stop hiding that you're upset. You either get sarcastic or you lie until it's too much for you, and by then it's usually too late.” He sets his jaw and drops his head, staring at the ground to their right instead of meeting Michael's eyes. “This won’t work if we hide things, Gueri - fuck, Michael.

 

He looks endlessly frustrated with himself for what he probably sees as a slip-up, one hand coming up to scrub through his hair angrily while he trusts Michael to stop him falling off his lap onto his ass.

 

Michael doesn't care about it, and he says as much, trying for ‘soothing,’ and not his default ‘asshole.’ “I didn't mean you had to call me Michael every time. My last name only sounds good when you're the one saying it, man. Just … fuck. You get my meaning?”

 

He feels dumb as soup and tongue tied, which is a common thing around Alex Manes. Whatever part of Michael is a genius tends to fly out the window when he's around.

 

Alex thankfully gets it and nods, still looking pissed at both of them. Michael gets that - they're nearly fucking thirty. Surely at some point in their lives they should have learnt how to have a conversation with each other that doesn’t involve either of them leaving it feeling off-footed and raw. In his eyes the only way out of this one is through, so he keeps going.

 

“And I really am okay. I told you something, you listened, you let me get emotions all over your shirt,  that's handled in my eyes. I'm not gonna keep dragging it up just to see you look like that ,” he risks taking a hand off Alex's waist to wave it and encompass all of him, from the sad eyes to the angry set of his jaw to the downward slope of his shoulders. “ I'm good, Alex. I swear.”

 

The world is eerily quiet for a moment as Alex stares at him, big soulful eyes checking for the lie before he smiles again, easy as pie. It's just one more thing Michael loves about him and who they can be around each other.

 

“Okay, I'm trusting you here. Next question - do you want to take Maria's necklace back, or do you want me to do it?”

 

It sounds like Alex is cheekily giving Michael an out, but he's okay. He's not scared of DeLuca - which is good, because nowhere else in town is quite as easy for him to drink at as the Pony. “Nah. I have to thank her anyway.”

 

“Why?”

 

That neutral voice is back again, and Michael stares over Alex's shoulder into the fire and treads carefully so he doesn't step on a metaphorical landmine. “Because without that necklace I don't think we'd be here right now. You’d have given me a careful script you'd repeated in your head a couple hundred times on the drive over, and I don't think either of us would have said everything we need to. So I need to thank her even if the stupid necklace bruised my foot when I stood on it.”

 

Alex's chuckle vibrates through Michael's side, shaking him where they touch. “Fair point. Are you … happy, with everything we've talked about?”

 

Michael hums under his breath, tossing up whether or not he wants to say anything. In the end he decides not to start this tentative thing on a lie. “Your … friends, thing. Earlier. Is that all you want between us or?”

 

He can't bring himself to finish that. He's bared his heart and soul enough for one day.

 

Alex is frozen still in his lap for a heartbeat, then two, then the air whooshes out of his lungs hard enough that Michael can feel his ribs moving. "What do you want?”

 

Michael drags his gaze away from the fire to stare up at him, letting Alex see his eyes getting wetter from the tears he's been holding back for what seems like forever, and sees Alex staring back at him, his eyes bottomless, glistening pools of emotion.

 

It's knowing Alex is just as affected as he is that makes Michael drag the words out, his voice nearly a whisper around the lump in his throat.

 

“You. Damn it, Alex, all I’ve ever wanted was you, any way I can have you. So if you just want to be friends, to never be anything more, I’m not gonna turn it down. But yeah, if I have a choice? I want everything we can be.”

 

Alex shifts, his ass digging into Michael's numbing thighs as he gets his hand under Michael's chin to tilt his head up again from where he's ended up looking at a spot on the ground. “I don't think I could ever be just friends with you, Michael. What did you say yesterday? Our connection is cosmic?” Alex smiles, his cheeks damp, but he looks genuinely happy. “I don't think we could be ‘just friends’ in a million years.”

 

The smile drops as quick as it arrived and Michael’s stomach plummets with it when Alex starts to talk again, expecting the worst.

 

“But this thing clearly doesn't work like it is. We don’t talk and we're not friends outside of what we have, and I don't see that having a happy ending. So we've gotta change. Because I don't want to walk away anymore.”

 

Michael nods, feeling frantic and knowing it probably shows. “Yeah. I agree. I'm sick of secrets, Alex. With you, with everyone. And if this?” He flicks his fingers between them, trying to let his hand show what he means because he's coming down off the emotional rollercoaster of the last two days and it's making him feel punch-drunk. “Works? Man, I don't think there's much else I could ever want.”

 

Alex smiles down at him tentatively, chewing on his bottom lip for a moment. “Good.”

 

Michael doesn't expect those long fingers in his hair again, carding through the curls gently, but damn, it feels incredible. He can't be blamed for dropping the weight of his head back into Alex's hand, letting him hold it up while his nails scrape at Michael's scalp while Michael's brain melts out his ears.

 

Apparently talking hour is over, thank God. Michael's sore, sensitive in and out, and honestly, he's glad to get most of secrets out and get some clarity on their situation but he's ready to just relax with Alex for as long as he can.

 

It's quiet for a while, with both of them on the same page and the stars bright above them, the wind low enough that they’re toasty where they're pressed together.

 

But eventually Michael yawns and sets off Alex, and it reminds them that it's nearly midnight on a Sunday, and although Michael can essentially shift his hours around however he wants, Alex can't.

 

“It’s late. I should … go, I guess.” Alex doesn't sound particularly keen on the idea, but he's moving himself off Michael's lap and leaving him cold.

 

“Yeah, I guess.” He knows Alex is right. Things are still raw between them and there's still so much going on. If they're going to have an actual relationship that'll last, then they shouldn't sleep together tonight.

 

Knowing that doesn’t make letting Alex go any easier, and Michael can't stop himself standing up and following Alex to his car like a lost puppy.

 

Alex gets to his car door and pops it before turning back to Michael, smiling shyly. It reminds Michael so much of the seventeen year old punk who'd handed him a guitar just to see him smile, that he takes a step back in time and misses the first couple words Alex says.

 

“ - if you're not busy tomorrow, do you want to come with me out to the bunker? I mean, I've got about twenty years worth of files to try and get onto the online system, as well as a lot of stuff that probably makes far more sense to you than me.”

 

His throat shift as he swallows, fingers of his right hand fiddling with the edge of his pants pocket. “We could maybe go get something to eat after?”

 

That sounds an awful lot like a date, but Michael tries to keep his grin contained. “Yeah, sure.” It feels good to be making plans. It’s another one of those things they've never done, always just winging it and hoping to see one another, and now that they're doing it this way Michael thinks maybe he's been wanting it the whole time without knowing it. “What time works for you?”

 

It’s also insanely hard to just be standing here making plans when all Michael wants to do is pull Alex back into his arms and kiss him senseless, drag him into the trailer and let Alex do whatever the hell he wants to him. At least it looks like Alex feels the same from how he's scrubbing at his hair and staring at his shoes, the ground, his car, anything other than Michael, with that little smile still on his face.

 

“I've got a check up for my leg first thing, but if you want to meet me at 1100 hours? Shit, I mean -”

He grimaces at bringing up his job when it's always been such a sore point for them for the last decade.

 

Michael lets out a little laugh, trying to let that shit go. Alex being in the Air Force isn't going to change any time soon, and he's just going to have to deal with it. "It's alright, man. I understand military time. Half the Airmen around here come to me to fix their cars and they've forgotten twenty-four hour time.”

 

“Of course they come here. You're the best mechanic I've ever seen.” Alex flushes a little at giving him a compliment, and Michael feels his own cheeks heating up. Compliments during sex are one thing. Compliments about anything else aren't common for them. He's not sure the novelty is ever going to wear off.

 

Michael ducks his head and grins, pulling open Alex's door for him at the same time as he leans in to wrap him a one-armed hug that lasts a couple seconds longer than it normally would. “You better go,” he whispers into Alex's ear. “Because if we keep this going I'm gonna try to keep you here.”

 

Alex twitches like he always does whenever Michael breathes hot air anywhere from his collarbone to the backs of his ears, before he pulls back to smirk up at Michael with that mischievous glint in his eye that usually means he's about to metaphorically drag Michael around by his dick for a while.

 

“And how would you - no, no.” He sighs, and the glint fades, replaced with frustration. “I gotta go. I really want to do this right. Staying here tonight is gonna mess that up.”

 

Michael groans under his breath, but Alex, as is the theme of the night, is fucking right again. “Alright. Go, get out of here.”

 

But he does squeeze Alex just that little bit tighter before he lets go, trying to commit the feeling to memory in case he doesn't get to do it again.

 

“Text me when you get home, let me know you got there okay.” Airman or not, Michael will never stop worrying about him.

 

“I will. Goodnight, Michael.” Alex looks so young, smiling back at him with his eyes twinkling in the moonlight, and Michael's fallen another step in love with this version of Alex Manes before he knows it.

 

“Goodnight, Alex.” Michael suspects his own face is doing something extremely dopey if Alex's shy smile turning into a full blown grin is anything to go off, and he waves his hand at him, shooing him off. “Stop doing that with your face and go home, would you? Or I'm not letting you leave.”

 

Alex only answers him with a laugh, but this time he does actually start his car and reverse back out of the junkyard, waving once at Michael before he drives back down the road.

 

It's the first time in a very, very long time that Michael feels good about seeing him drive away. There's something like hope blossoming in his chest and a giddying freedom, like a weight's been cut away from his legs and he can finally fly.

 

This thing could be good between them this time. That's not something Michael is used to thinking, but he likes it. He just hopes he isn't wrong.