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It's All in a Hat

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1. Michael’s hat is a no go zone. Everyone knows this, and everyone respects it, because if they so much as lay a finger on the black cowboy hat Michael will either a) tear you a new one or b) outright punch you.

Liz Ortecho, however, has been gone from Roswell for ten years, and as she wasn’t there when Michael got the hat, she doesn’t know just how attached he is to it. Which is why she casually picks it up one night they’re in the Pony and starts to look at it, turning it in her hands to look at the seams and inside, frankly curious about the hat that spends so much time on Michael’s head.

“Where did Mikey get this hat?” She looks up, looking for someone to answer her but instead freezes at the way they’re all looking at her in shock. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because, Ortecho,” Michael says behind her. He does not sound pleased. “There’s three rules about the hat.”

“Oh?”

“One, don’t ever touch the hat.” He plucks it out of her fingers and places it on his head. “Two, don’t make any kind of remarks about the hat. And three, don’t ask about the hat.”

Her eyes follow him as he turns around and walks out of the Pony. From the look on Isobel and Maria’s faces this behavior when it comes to the hat isn’t new, though Max looks like he’s slightly annoyed. Probably because Michael just left when they were there to discuss important things.

“He’s not kidding, Liz. Don’t ever mess with the hat.”

She looks at Max. “Why, though?”

“We don’t know,” Isobel replies. “He never told us where it came from. Just that it’s sacred.”

Her voice turns nasal when she says the word sacred. Liz frowns at that but doesn’t say anything. Maria just looks pensive. Like she has an idea but doesn’t want to share for her own peace of mind. Liz is curious, maybe one day she’ll get the story. Until then; Okay, point taken.

2. Kyle Valenti likes to use the same excuse, he hasn’t been in Roswell for ten years so he doesn’t know things. Never mind that his mother is the sheriff and keeps him apprised on all things Roswellian, no matter if he wants to or not, he will still live by the “I didn’t know” if he can. Luckily for him he’s charming enough that it usually works when he does do something wrong.

Of course there’s people that don’t buy it. Arturo is one, Alex the second, and Rosa the third. Isobel will give him the benefit of the doubt if in a good mood, Liz is to kind not to believe him, Maria just shakes her head and Max just frankly doesn’t care.

Then there’s Michael Guerin, who sees through all kinds of bullshit Kyle talks about, so much so that Kyle has started to test the limits of what he can get away with. He’s tried it with cars, he’s tried it with alcohol, he tried it with the Evans siblings(which did not go well) and he’s tried it with the Airstream. The number is currently 0-1 in Guerin’s favor, but he still tries. He likes the challenge.

He decides to try it with the hat, because he’s had a few beers to many, sitting at the junkyard with Alex, Guerin is being a broody shit, and he’s bored without any alien shenanigans to deal with. Which is something he never thought he would think.

“Hey, Guerin, what’s actually up with the hat?”

“None of your beeswax, Valenti,” is the reply he gets. Rude.

“No, tell me, what’s up with it?” He asks as he reaches out a hand towards the hat on Michael’s head. He doesn’t expect the mighty punch he receives to the shoulder. “Ow! What the fuck, Guerin?”

“Kyle.” The disapproval in Alex’s voice is enough to let him know how much of a brat he’s being.

“Sorry, Guerin.”

“Whatever, Valenti.” He knows Guerin isn’t done being pissed off, but he still hands him a beer so he guesses he’s sort of forgiven. For now.

He realizes he’s wrong when he gets up to pee about 15 minutes later and he falls over because his shoelaces are tied together, to Guerin’s roaring laugh and Alex’s coughing that means he’s trying to hide a laugh. Stupid telekinesis.

3. Wyatt Long is a douchebag, it’s known, it’s heard, it’s just a fact of life. He’s a white privilege, New Mexico 1st born son of the worst caliber, who spews racism like it’s fact, slurs like they have meaning, offence like it’s the law, be it against latinx, black or native people. He doesn’t care who he hurts, who he offends, who hates him.

What he does care about is who he hates, and Michael Guerin is on the near top of that list, just underneath Max Evans.

Stupid fucking Michael Guerin, who runs around like he owns Roswell in that stupid, fucking black cowboy hot.

Only good, proud, ranger sons like Wyatt should be allowed to wear hats like that. That Michael Guerin, whore and drunk that he is, runs around in one is a disgrace.

One night in the Pony, Wyatt decides to do something about that after a bourbon of eight. Guerin is sitting at the bar as usual, flirting with the DeLuca chick. She’s hot as fuck, but a bartender is beneath his standards. Even if he would like to fuck her to check if she’s up to par.

“Hold up guys, I’mma get Guerin’s hat,” he tells his group of friends, grinning as they holler and yell after him as he walks up to the bar. He might be a little unsteady, but who the fuck cares.

“What do you want, Long?”

“Well I could always do with a night in your bed, gorgeous,” he replies, giving DeLuca his most winning smile. The look of disgust on her face just fuels the rage, as does the snort Guerin lets out. “What, you think you’re so much better than me, Guerin? At least I have a house, not a tin can.”

“That the best you can do, Long? Cause that’s just sad, I happen to like my tin can, and guess what, so does Maria.”

Wyatt completely misses DeLuca’s hissed out “Guerin!” Or Guerin cringing at the tone in her voice. All he can hear is the angry rush of blood in his ears.

“The fuck do you have this hat for anyway, Guerin? You ain’t no fucking ranger and you don’t fucking deserve to wear it.” He picks up the black hat and crunches his fingers around the top of it.

He doesn’t realize he’s been punched until he’s already falling backwards with a hell of a pain in his nose, his head this close to smacking into the ground as he lands, hard. He can already feel the blood starting to gush from the broken nose.

“You wanna talk smack about where I live, go right on ahead. But don’t you ever fucking touch the hat, or question why I wear it, Long.”

He’s too busy trying not to cry from the pain to notice as Michael steps over him, hat on his head, and leaves into the night.

4. Maria DeLuca is not a woman who doesn’t know herself. She has far to much of a psychic ability for that, has had far to many struggles in her life for that and has sacrificed too many things for that. She knows who she is inside and out, she knows what she’s worth and she knows that she deserves. She doesn’t have to fool herself into anything. Even if she did, her ability wouldn’t let her for long. Most times it’s a gift, sometimes it’s a curse.

“You’re never gonna let me touch it, are you?”

She knows it’s the wrong question when Michael leers, drunkenly, at her. “Gorgeous, you can touch it any time you want.”

“Your hat, Guerin.”

She watches him quickly pick up the hat from the bar, putting it into his lap instead of anywhere near she can reach from behind the bar. It’s all the answer she needs, isn’t it.

“Maria-“

“Don’t.” She smiles at him, a small smile she knows is full of sadness. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not,” Michael answers. His eyes, though drunk, mirrors her sadness. It makes her feel a tiny bit better because she knows they both do want this to work, in their own way.

“Yes, it is. You can’t help how you feel.” The words Liz told her echoes in her head. She knows Michael likes her, truly likes her, but she can never compete with Alex. And while she knows Alex is fine with Michael and her, she doesn’t know how fine she is by always coming in second place. Even if Michael chose her out in the world, she’s very rarely first in his head. “Did he give you the hat?”

Michael just looks at her. She won’t be getting a reply any time soon. For some reason, she’s okay with that. Maybe because she knows it would hurt more if he did.

“If there’s any woman in the world I would let touch the hat, it would be you.”

She surprises herself by laughing. For Michael Guerin that’s the perfect endearment and she adores him for it. Especially since she feels how much he means it.

“I need some time.”

Michael nods, unsurprised but still saddened by it. “Text me, yeah?”

Maria nods in reply, maintaining a smile on her face as Michael, and the iconic hat, leaves her bar. It’s only when the door closes behind him that she lets herself feel the sadness of what could have been.

5. Arturo Ortecho is used to tourists. It’s the one big thing you have to deal with owning a diner in New Mexico, but as they are his biggest revenue stream, he doesn’t mind them. In fact he welcomes them gladly, with his alien themed menus, alien themed outfits and antennas. He loves their ooo’s and their aaa’s, he loves giving them genuine mexican cuisine that they all seem to enjoy, he loves his old jukebox with silly old songs that adults fawn over and children thinks are stupid. He loves it all.

The only thing he might have a slight issue with is when they come in and don’t respect other people’s property. He’s far to used to people trying to destroy the diner after… But he doesn’t negotiate when it comes to leaving his other customers things alone.

“You should leave that hat alone before the owner sees you,” Arturo says with a look at the three teens who are now frozen by Michael’s hat, one of their hands reaching out towards it. “He doesn’t take kindly to it being touched, a true cowboy never does. The hat is what makes the man, you would do well to remember that.”

The kids look from the hat to him, to the antenna on his head (which is fair), before they nod respectfully, leaving it alone and walking back to their seats. Funny, it’s been a while since anyone nodded respectfully to him. Especially kids.

“Thanks, Mr. Ortecho.”

“Bah.” He turns towards Michael, who’s coming out of the kitchen wiping his hands. “You fix my fridge?”

“Needs a new part, but I got one at the junkyard so I’ll be back later.”

“Good. Take some meatloaf with you when you go, you’re too skinny.”

He doesn’t need to see Michael to know he’s smiling as he picks up the meatloaf, and the hat, on his way out the door. He’s a good boy, that one.

+1 “Has anyone besides you ever worn or even touched the hat, Michael?” Isobel asks, one night as the entire group sit in her living room, bottles of tequila and bourbon cluttered on her living room table. They’ve been celebrating life, just because they can, just because everyone is alive and just because they want to.

“Why is everyone so damn curious about the damn hat? It’s just a black cowboy hat.”

Maria snorts. “That’s a damn lie and you know if. You start fights over that hat. You punched Wyatt Long so hard he broke his nose over the hat.”

Michael sighs, and looks down on the floor. “Long deserved it.”

“Long deserves a lot of things. But he’s not the first you’ve punched over it,” Max interjects, giving Michael a look when he looks up from the floor.

“Come on Mikey, just tell us,” Liz says, pouting as Michael’s gaze swings over to her. His eyes does the round after that, from Isobel, Kyle, Rosa, Maria, Jenna, Max and finally landing on Alex. Alex doesn’t do anything but smile encouragingly. Because Alex Manes, last son of Jesse Manes, current Captain of the United States Air Force, resident of Jimmy Valenti’s cabin in Roswell, New Mexico, is the only one, besides Michael, who knows the origin story of Michael’s hat. No one has ever asked him if he knows and he would never tell anyone.

“Oh my god, Alex knows?” Isobel asks, shock and delight on her face. They all look curious now, even Maria, who’s been the biggest advocate of them figuring out their shit since her and Michael broke up.

Michael smiles, and gives Alex a small nod. Guess he is telling someone after all. “Of course I know. I bought him the hat.”

There’s silence for a second, before questions hurtle at them from everyone in the room. How and why and when but Alex and Michael doesn’t answer any of them, they just look at each other and smile, remembering a dusty, hot weekend in Kansas when Alex was on leave. A weekend without cares, without fear and without worry, where Alex found the perfect black cowboy hat while out buying sustenance, and brought it back to their motel room. A weekend that like all others ended on a sad note, but was perfect the way it was.

“Does he let you wear it?”

Both Alex and Michael look at Jenna, before they turn back to one another. A second later the black cowboy hat floats from the hallway and lands on Alex’s head. It’s still a bit big on him, but it still makes him smile.

“Yeah, I do.”

They only have eyes for each other, as the room explodes in a symphony of joyous noise.