So Far, So Good - Brynhild

Title: So Far, So Good
Author: Dea Brynhild Ensomhet Spikess
Fandom: Roswell/Devour
Timeline: Post series and movie. Spoilers for all of Roswell.
Rating: PG-13, I guess. A few scattered swear words.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Roswell or Devour cast/crew/characters/plotlines/etc. All hail Metz, UPN, the WB, and whoever else owns them. Please don't sue me, 'cause I don't have hardly anything.
Summary: Kinda broody and angsty. Kyle is the farthest from home he's ever been, and he happens to see a familiar face.
Author's Notes: Dean isn't in this. Neither is Jensen nor Jake nor any incarnation of him. I just didn't want to get your hopes up. But I still think this is one of the best looks into Kyle's psyche that I've ever done... which isn't hard, since it's the only look into Kyle's psyche I've ever written, but I still think I did a damn good job of it. Feel free to dissuade me of this opinion in comments.
Author's Notes, take two: This is really more of a Roswell fic than a Devour fic - all you really need to know about Devour is that William Sadler played a role in it. And even that you could've probably picked up from context.
Author's Notes, take three: The title is from a Thornley song, to which I've also made a Kyle music vid. You can see it on Youtube.
Huge thanks: to Candygramme for the beta!

So far, so good, 'cause no one knows I'm faking
I wish I could show you the toll it's taking
Sometimes I live as if there's no tomorrow
So far, so good.

~ "So Far, So Good" by Thornley

He doesn't know what day it is, isn't sure how long they've been driving - months probably, although it all blends together. One day soon they're going to have to split up, but nobody talks about that. It's easier to pretend that they're just kids in a van, roadtripping across the states or sneaking away from school to go to Vegas for the weekend. Except thoughts of Vegas bring back memories of Alex losing everything on the flip of a card and Tess still being bold and sweet and everything he could have wanted in a sister, and even the happy memories are painful and Kyle doesn't want to face the past right now. He just wants to lose himself in the delusion of a roadtrip with a handful of people who he never would have befriended four years ago but have now become the only people on the planet he can trust. Aside from his dad, of course, but they left Deputy Valenti back in Roswell with all of their parents and everything they couldn't grab as they rushed out of town.

"Pit stop," Michael announces as he pulls the little VW van into a gas station and parks next to a pump. Maria hops out of the shotgun seat and runs for the bathroom door on the side of the building, while Michael exits leisurely and starts filling up the tank. Kyle, who had been playing gin rummy with Isabel on the middle seat, collects the playing cards and quickly counts them to make sure none escaped into the seat cushions before sliding them into the pocket behind the driver's seat. Max and Liz lean against each other in the back row, asleep, and Isabel reaches over the back of the bench seat and shakes Max's shoulder.

"I'm up." Max announces blearily, blinking. He shifts and Liz begins to stir, burrowing a little into Max as she resists waking up. Kyle watches them and it brings back memories of the summer three years ago, back when he'd first hooked up with Liz and everything'd been new, and they'd spent their days hanging out in the park and falling asleep in the sun. Kyle never got tired of watching her sleep, and suddenly the van is too tiny and he has to get out.

"Food run," Kyle mutters, and has one sneaker touching cement when a hand on his arm stops him. Isabel's other hand is holding out a crumpled dollar bill and as he reaches for it, it ripples and splits into three crisp twenties. "Thanks," he takes the money and heads into the gas station store. It's second nature to pick out provisions; they've been on the road long enough to know what everyone in their group likes and doesn't like. The station is out of cheese and cracker Combos - Maria's favorite - so he grabs her second favorite instead. Luckily, this store has the most important item of all - Tabasco sauce - and Kyle grabs six bottles. One for each of them who have alienified tastebuds and an extra one for Michael who likes to drown his food in it. He pays for the food and gas, and is walking out the door with four heavy bags of snacks and drinks when he pauses. Comes to a complete fucking dead stop and stares.

"Dad?" Kyle whispers, and there's a thud and a crash as the bags slip out of his slack hands. Max's potato chips are so much dust now and Michael is going to rip him a new one (or at the very least, forbid him from making food runs) because he's pretty sure that was Michael's glass bottle of Snapple breaking, but he doesn't care. Somewhere in the third week on the road he'd started seriously thinking about what life would be like for all of them, hiding from the government and probably on the run for the rest of their lives, and he'd faced the fact that it would be a long time before he'd ever see his father again. So, it was understandable that he would be shocked to see Jim Valenti meandering down a city sidewalk thousands of miles away from Roswell.

Max turns the corner of the building as he returns from the men's room and is instantly on alert as he takes in the bags at Kyle's feet and the look on his face. "What's wrong?" Max demands under his breath, hurrying over. Isabel is leaning against the van; he catches her gaze and signals her to round everyone up and get them into the van now. She's walking swiftly to the restrooms to retrieve Maria and Liz when Kyle breaks out in a run.

Max almost yells Kyle's name but he bites it back at the last second - if danger is near he doesn't want to attract any more attention than they have already. He grabs the bags and tosses them into the back of the van without noticing that one of them is dripping, and takes off after Kyle. He glances back at the van and Michael nods, starts the engine.

The walk sign flashes on just as Kyle crosses the street but he doesn't pay any attention to it. He only has eyes for the older man in the blue jacket, fifteen feet in front of him and getting closer with every heartbeat. Kyle weaves through the pedestrian traffic until he's right behind the man, grabs his shoulder, and whirls him around.

"Dad," Kyle says again, just as quietly as the first time, but this time the man hears him and Kyle watches as wary eyes turn shocked for a moment, then harden. The stranger's eyes in his father's face shift to look over his shoulder before returning his gaze, and Kyle knows Max just skidded to a stop behind him. "What are you doing here, Dad? Are you okay?"

There's no recognition at all, and Kyle wants to scream and kick and punch something, because it was bad enough that he'd had to give up his life and his friends and everything normal in his world when all this alien shit started, but he will not give up his dad. Which sounds like a contradiction considering he left him in Roswell with nothing more than a hug and a hurried goodbye, but Kyle can live with that. He can run forever knowing his dad is safe and going on with life. But if his dad's memories have been wiped as a result of some stupid side-effect of being around aliens or simply because the universe loves to screw over Kyle Valenti, that'll be the thing that breaks him more than the moment he remembered the weight of Alex's dead body in his arms.

Because his father is the only thing he has left. His mother abandoned him, Liz dumped him, Tess betrayed him, and one of these days he's going to wake up with freaky new powers because Max freaking brought him back from the dead. He's changed cliques and changed friends and changed religions and even changed DNA on some molecular level that none of them really completely understand, and the only thing left that keeps him from giving up on life is the deeply engrained desire to make his dad proud no matter how far away he is. But if even his father has been taken away from him then there's nothing left for Kyle to live for.

"Who are you?" Jim Valenti says. He looks older than he did back in Roswell and Kyle recognizes the weariness in his face and voice from back when his dad was first suspended from the force.

"I'm Milton Edwards and this is Keith Vesper." Max interjects, playing the wholesome boy-next-door image as he slaps a hand on Kyle's shoulder. "We're sorry to bother you. You look a lot like someone we know."

"My friends call me Kyle." Kyle ignores Max's suddenly tight grip, hoping in vain that the use of his given name will trigger something and make his father remember him. He knows he doesn't look much like himself anymore - there's stubble on his chin and his hair is pale blond and longer than he ever wore it in Roswell, but he's still Kyle and his own father should know him anywhere...

"You are mistaken," Jim studies Kyle, and for a moment there's a flicker of hope, but then Jim shakes his head. "My son is dead." The man - no longer Kyle's father, not if he can't even fucking remember - turns and walks away, and Kyle lets Max pull him back to the van.

The side door slides open as they approach and Isabel ducks her head out. "What the hell is going on?"

Max waits to explain until after Michael's pulled out into traffic and the gas station is shrinking in their rearview mirror. "We ran into Sheriff Valenti." Even though Valenti was demoted, they all can't help but still think of him as Sheriff.

There're gasps and noises of disbelief from the van's occupants. Michael is the first one to comment, "No way. We left Valenti back in Roswell - what's he doing here?"

"He didn't recognize me," Kyle says, and there's more hurt in his voice than he was intending to reveal. Isabel's hand rests on Kyle's arm, and he is grateful for the contact forcing him back into focus.

"Are you sure that it was him and not something... else?" Maria is the only normal human left in their group, being the only one that wasn't born half-alien or healed from a fatal gunshot wound, and until she's brought back from being almost dead by Miracle Max she's the most vulnerable one should they be attacked by something not of this Earth. And it is "until", not "if", because Maria's had several chances to get away from all of this alien drama and she's still here, and sooner or later her merely human status won't be enough and she'll be turned into a full-fledged member of the I-Know-An-Alien-And-All-I-Got-Is-A-Near-Death-Experience-And-These-Lousy-Powers Club.

Sometimes Kyle can't breathe around the bitter jealousy he feels towards Maria. Of all of them, she is the only one left who had a choice. Neither he nor Liz had known the truth before they'd been healed, and Dad always was as obsessed with aliens as Grandpa had been - Jim Valenti was no more able to stop digging until he knew the truth about Max than he'd have been able to give up breathing - and so there was no choice there. Even Alex was left without a real choice; between Liz's pleading and Isabel's flirting, he bled for them and lied for them and hacked into the FBI for them. By the time they told him the truth he was already involved too much and when he tried to leave, Tess took that choice away and he died for them too.

Sometimes, when Kyle is at his most morbid, he wonders who will be the next one of their group to be destroyed.

"There's one way to find out," there's a phone in Isabel's hand, pink and sparkly with little butterfly stickers all over it, and she's pressing a button to turn it on. Isabel borrowed it from a nice woman at a gas station a week or two ago "to make a quick call", and then spent five minutes in the bathroom with Liz casually guarding the door. When she came back out she gave the woman back her phone, and then pulled an identical clone from her pocket once they were safe in the van twenty minutes later. They haven't tried using it yet, but in theory it should work exactly like the original. The phones are identical on a molecular level, after all.

"What are you doing?" Michael's voice is sharp, but Isabel just rolls her eyes.

"Relax, Michael," Isabel dials a phone number as Max runs a hand down her neck. There's a brief glow as his fingertips drift over the base of her throat, and Isabel's voice is pitched higher like a twelve-year-old girl's when she speaks again, "I'll make a new phone tomorrow, if that'll make you feel better."

It was Kyle who brought up the idea of experimenting with what their powers could do. Ever since he'd been brought back on the floor of the UFO center, he'd thought off and on about exactly what Max, Michael, and Isabel could do. In the beginning it had been a survival tactic, estimating the enemy, trying to figure out exactly what the extent of their powers were so that he could figure out a way to protect himself and Dad from them. Somewhere amid gaining and losing a sister, he found himself thinking more about different ways to use their powers, to make a few bucks or quickly fix a car part that would save him time and energy. Now, though, it was crucial to use every advantage they had to keep going, to stay under the radar and one step ahead of their enemies.

Isabel's powers were the strongest, probably because she'd been using them in a million small ways over her entire life: changing a shade of nail polish, heating food, pulling stains out of shirts, changing her hairstyle. She was the first one to jump on his idea, to change all their hair colors and styles and morph money so that they had a never-ending pile of cash to keep gas in the car and food in their stomachs without any sort of paper trail for the government to follow. She also thought up how to use their "manipulating molecular structure" powers to change the color and style of their clothes every few days, and to remove dirt and sweat molecules from cloth, which cut down on trips to the thrift store and the Laundromat. Max could help manipulating molecules as well, although his powers leaned more towards healing and creating shields of energy in the air. Thankfully, they'd not needed much of either since leaving Roswell, but Kyle didn't try to fool himself into thinking that they would never need Max's talents. It was only a matter of time.

Until then, Max had been working on affecting their vocal cords enough to make their voices unrecognizable to the original, as well as helping Isabel with their day-to-day smuggling needs. Kyle preferred using a fake accent over letting Max warp parts of his body, but he had to admit that Max's plan made it impossible for their fake voices to slip. Michael was still exploring his powers, which mostly consisted of blowing things up, but he had more control over it than he did a few years ago. Michael also was the best at making them all fake IDs, although their new names were now a lot more believable than the ones they'd had in Vegas. Liz could generate electricity, but she had a long way to go before she had enough control to recharge cell phones without melting the batteries. Kyle wondered what his own abilities would allow him to do, but they still had a few months before the year mark hit and they could expect changes to start happening. Isabel was still the only one of them who could dream-walk, but Liz could now successfully do something similar where her spirit left her body and could occasionally be seen, but not yet heard.

"Hi, yes," Isabel says breathily into the phone, and the sound of the unfamiliar voice startles Kyle out of his thoughts, "My name is Tiffany, and I'd like to speak to Deputy Valenti, please." There was a pause as she was apparently put on hold, and then she smiled, "Hi, Deputy Valenti. My name's Tiffany and I'm selling candy to raise money to re-open Westlake Orphanage. There are dozens of children in need who can be helped by this great business re-opening, and all you have to do is contribute a little money and you get some really yummy candy in return. How many boxes can I put you down for?" A pause, "Yes, uh-huh." Another pause, and then, "That sounds wonderful, Mister Valenti. That'll be thirty-six dollars, and I'll be by in a few days to drop off your candy. Thank you again for donating your money to this worthy cause." She hangs up, and Max touches her throat again to return her voice to normal.

"What did he say?" Michael demands.

"He said he'd like to order six boxes of peanut clusters," Isabel says dryly.

"But it was him?" Kyle presses.

"Yeah," and there's a comforting note in Isabel's voice now, "as far as I could tell, it was him."

Maria, who had been digging around in her purse the entire time Isabel had been on the phone, pulls out a small vial and unscrews the cap. After holding the vial of cypress oil to her nose and inhaling deeply, she asks, "So who was that guy you saw? A shape shifter or something?"

"It doesn't matter," Max says, his tone final. "He didn't act like a threat, and we're going to be long gone soon anyway."

"Copy that," Michael merges onto a freeway, flipping on the radio as he presses down on the gas. "Somebody pass up my Twizzlers. All that excitement made me hungry."

Liz reaches over her seat, fumbling in the bags from the gas station and identifying the items by touch alone. "Eww, it's all wet-ow!" Liz yelps, pulling her hand back quickly. There's a drop of blood welling up, mixing with the liquid coating her fingers. Max touches her hand and when he pulls away a moment later, the blood and liquid is gone and her fingertip is clean and healed. "Thanks," she says, smiling at Max.

He returns the smile before frowning, "What did you cut your hand on?"

"I don't know," she says as she leans over the seat to get a better look at the bags. "It looks like broken glass. Everything in this bag is drenched in..." Liz grimaces, grabbing a napkin to wipe her hand off with, "...um, Michael?"

"Dude, I swear," Michael grumbles, his fingers still clenched around the wheel as adrenaline slowly fades, "If that's my Snapple dripping all over the floor, you are never going on a food run again."

end.


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