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maybe i'm not a boy who would stay, but isn't it kinda fun to be together?

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“Please!”

“No!”

“Ugh, you guys are no fun!”

Alex and Maria continued to laugh as they watched Liz throw a fit. They were all camping out on the roof of The Wild Pony, trying to enjoy their 3-person Christmas party on the eve of Christmas Eve. IT was all going successfully as possible and now Liz was ruining it by pouting. 

“We’re seventeen! That’s too old to write letters to Santa,” Maria explained.

“All I’m hearing is you’re too old for fun,” Liz insisted, crossing her arms as she plopped back down on her sleeping bag. Alex rolled his eyes.

“What’s fun about writing all that you want down and sending it to a person that doesn’t exist?” Alex asked. 

“You never know who might read it,” Liz said in a faux cryptic tone. Alex barked a laugh.

“Are you insinuating that there is an omnipotent being coming to grant your wishes?” Alex asked, “Or, wait, God is reading your letters to Santa? I think that’s blasphemous.” 

“Shut up!” Liz laughed, swatting his way, “I just hate how not festive everything feels. It doesn’t even feel like Christmas. The only thing that’s changed, though, is my age. I was hoping that doing something we did as kids would make it feel a bit more festive.”

Alex sighed as he reluctantly realized that she had a point. He’d spent the first few years of his life never actually enjoying Christmas because it just meant more time spent at home with his father, but, ever since Mimi got legal guardianship of him, it was his favorite time of year. He never missed out on feeling festive whenever Mimi decorated the house and had a stocking with his name embroidered on it and made really bomb trail mix. He wanted Liz to feel that festive feeling too.

“Okay, fine, we can write letters,” Alex sighed. Maria looked at him incredulously.

“Oh no,” she gasped, “Not you too.”

“I’ll go get some paper and pens,” Alex chuckled and crawled out of his sleeping bag. Liz cheered and Maria groaned. As groan-worthy as it was, he had nothing better to do.

He quickly dropped down to the top floor of the building where he, Maria, and Mimi all stayed, and slipped into his bedroom. It was small seeing as it was once-upon-a-time the dining room. Mimi had strung up thick curtains in lieu of doors and, while it wasn’t much, it was more than Alex had ever asked for. He grabbed a notepad and a few pens from his tiny desk/bedside table.

He returned to see Liz smiling childishly and Maria seeming to have grown on the idea. Alex passed out the papers and pens before sitting down again. They all wrote ‘Dear Santa,’ at the top. Then they very quickly realized they had no idea what the hell to wish for.

“Are you telling me you wanted us to write letters to Santa and then had no idea what you want from Santa?” Maria asked. Liz gave a guilty smile.

“I didn’t think I’d get this far.”

“Jesus, Liz,” Alex laughed, “Okay, well, what’s something wild that you want, but would never get in a million years?”

“Oooh, a fully functioning biomedical lab with all the fancy equipment that I can play with for as long as I want,” Liz said excitedly. 

“God, you’re such a dork,” Maria said, but she smiled fondly as she urged Liz to write it down. “Alright, Alex, your turn. Wildest, unrealistic wish. Go.”

“Fuck, I don’t know, I feel like I’ve got everything I could ever ask for,” Alex admitted. Both girls ‘aw’d obnoxiously as he rolled his eyes.

“You have to be wanting something, Alex, it’s human nature,” Liz prodded.

“Oh, I know!” Maria exclaimed, “A boyfriend! You need one of those!”

“I do not‒”

“Write it down!”

Alex snorted, but couldn’t think of a valid reason why he couldn’t write it down. While a boyfriend wasn’t really at the top of his priority list, it would be sort of nice. He couldn’t deny that. Hell, just meeting another queer guy, in general, would be nice. So, he wrote it down.

“Oh, you can’t just write that,” Liz complained as she peered onto his paper, “I wrote all the things I want in my lab, write all the things you want in your male.”

Alex scoffed, “Like what?”

“Like soft hair and dreamy eyes,” Maria said wistfully, a playful smile on her face.

“Super smart, but sensetive,” Liz added.

“A good kisser!”

“Good in bed.”

“Okay, clearly you should be asking for a boyfriend,” Alex laughed, shaking his head. He instead listed a few qualities that he wanted.

Dear Santa,

This year for Christmas I would like a boyfriend who is nice, funny, and smart. And if he happens to be out-of-this-world handsome, I won’t complain.

Please and thank you, 

Alex Manes

“There, done,” Alex decided, “What did you write, Maria?”

“I asked for a million dollars,” she said with a grin. He scoffed.

“Oh, so you get something easy and I had to ask for a whole ass person?”

“A million dollars is not easy!”

“But that’s a go-to wish! That’s not fair!”

“A boyfriend is a go-to wish!”

“To whom?!”

“Ladies!” Liz yelled, throwing her arms out dramatically, “Relax, there’s enough fictional magic to go around.”

Giggles bubbled out of Alex as he shook his head. “Shut up.”

The night dwindled and they all ran to put their letters into the mailbox, laughing all the way. It was too fun to do these things, too fun to act like they weren’t graduating in a few months and fun to act like they didn’t know what might happen. This could be the very last Christmas they spent camping out together on the roof.

Might as well enjoy it.

-

At approximately 2:30 AM, the sky lit up.

The sky lit up and Alex woke up.

Alex woke up and he heard a crash.

He heard a crash and the ground shook.

Thankfully, when the ground shook, the girls woke up too and Alex didn’t have to freak out to wake them up. Instead, they got to freak out together like real best friends. Everything happened so quickly and they were all talked over each other, all too scared to go see what the hell just fell from the fucking sky. 

“You go look.”

“No, you!”

“You!”

“I’ll go look,” Alex sighed. He took a deep breath and slowly slipped from his sleeping bag before four hands grabbed him to keep him in place. “I can’t go look if you guys don’t let me go.”

“Sorry,” they grumbled, letting him go reluctantly. Well, sort of, because they ended up just coming with him.

Alex felt his heart thudding in his chest, but he couldn’t exactly figure out why. Something crashed behind The Pony, yes, but it could’ve been anything. It could’ve been a meteor or a tree or frozen waste from a plane like in Joe Dirt. That should’ve been his first thought.

But he lived in Roswell and nothing was ever that easy.

“Is that‒”

“Yep.”

“In Roswell?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Fuck.”

The three of them peered over the edge of the roof to see a small, glittery aircraft half-buried in the ground nose-first. It was smoking and had made a very small crater which told Alex that, whoever was piloting it, had been semi-successful in making sure it didn’t hit with full force. However, that meant there was indeed a pilot. Which meant someone might be hurt.

“We have to go down there,” Alex said.

“Alex, we have no idea what’s gonna come out of there,” Maria stage-whispered as if whatever was down there might hear them.

“Okay, but they might need help!” Alex argued.

“They might be dead,” Liz added.

Alex jolted into action, racing towards the latter and all but jumping down to the floor. Liz and Maria followed, hissing his name, but he couldn’t stop himself. Someone might be hurt and he just couldn’t stand by and let it worsen. He’d been hurt because. Someone saved him.

He could try to save someone else.

Alex burst out of the back door and sprinted towards the spacecraft just as a figure crawled out. He stopped a few feet away, just in case, and caught his breath.

“Are you okay?! Do you need help?!” Alex called. The head of the figure turned to him, face covered in soot and eyes squinted like he was looking into the sun on a hot day. Alex went closer. 

The closer he got, the more he questioned if it was human or not. It looked human, but the spacecraft sure as hell didn’t. The creature had human-like skin and features, the main difference being his clothing and his hair. He was wearing a black, asymmetrical tunic with a ridiculously deep v-neck that had a white shirt underneath and very baggy, black pants. His hair was curly and brown, which was human, but the oddly constructed braids that looked to be made of more than 8 strands lined his entire head, leaving the curls to be left to a tuft on top. He was definitely strange looking.

Though, strangeness and soot aside, Alex was struck with how gorgeous he was.

“English?” the creature said, crawling further. Alex reached him and helped pull him further from the wreckage. He caught a glimpse of the girls standing far away but kept his focus on the creature. Him. It. Whatever. 

“Yeah, English, do you speak English?” Alex asked as let go and began looking to see if there was any obvious damage.

“Enough. I took many classes, watched many movies,” he said, voice deep and laced with an accent that Alex didn’t recognize which just further solidified the fact that whatever this was, it wasn’t human.

“Are you okay?” Alex wondered, ignoring all of the stresses that came with the fact that he was dealing with a very human-like not-human.

“Probably,” he said, grinning despite the fact that he literally just crashed. Alex helped him sit up and noticed a few cuts and soon-to-be bruises on his hands.

“Maria! Go get the first aid kit!” Alex called. The creature looked towards the girls, just now noticing their presence, and Liz and Maria both seemed frozen in time. “Hello?!”

“Right,” Maria said, turning and running inside and tugging Liz along with her. Alex sighed and turned back to the figure. 

“So, what do I call you? Where are you from? How did you crash?” Alex rambled, his eyes avoiding the creatures as he continued to check for any more cuts. He really needed to check beneath all the fabric but decided that it was probably not the best way to start a conversation with a stranger.

“You ask many questions,” the creature said. 

“Yeah, well, you crashed in my backyard, I reserve the right,” Alex insisted. The creature let out a soft little laugh.

“I promise I did not mean to, I thought I did the trajectory right. Got caught in the, uh, what is it you call it? Wormhole?” the creature said. Alex blinked in surprise.

“You got caught in a wormhole? How far away from home are you?” he asked.

“Enough,” he answered, “Home is Antar.”

“I’ve never heard of it,” Alex admitted. The creature grinned.

“Earth hears nothing I heard,” he said. Alex huffed and shook his head. “I am Rath.”

Alex raised an eyebrow, “Rath?”

“Oh, we chose Earth names in Earth class last year. My name there is Michael. Is that better?” he asked. Alex smiled and shook his head.

“What do you prefer to be called? Your actual name or your Earth name?” Alex asked. The creature smirked in an all too human fashion.

“What do you prefer saying?” he said. Alex felt his cheeks heat up but shook it off.

“Michael will draw less attention,” Alex decided, “I’m Alex.”

“Alex,” Michael repeated, looking him up and down, “Human Alex.”

“Right,” Alex sighed, turning his head towards the door to see if Maria and Liz had come back yet and not at all so he didn’t have to look at him, “And what are you? Not human. You said you’re from Antar, so what are your people called? And are you, like, a man or are you something else?”

Michael tilted his head. “We are just Antarians. And I’m… close enough to a man in your terms, so yes.”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen,” he answered. Alex furrowed his eyebrows.

“Seventeen and you have a spacecraft?” Alex asked. A guilty smile appeared on his face. 

“I may have stolen it.”

“We got the first aid kit!”

Alex sighed and decided he’d patch him up before they figured out what the hell they were going to do.

-

“Shouldn’t we call the police?” 

“And tell them what? A teenage alien crashed in our backyard so they can cart him away to dissect him? Absolutely not.”

“I would prefer not to be dissected, please.”

The three of them looked over their shoulders to the alien boy who was covered in Disney Princess bandaids and the same tattered clothes he’d landed in. Once the sun began to rise, it became all too clear that they had an actual issue. They’d found a whole alien that had no way to get back home until his ship was fixed. Which would be fine if they knew how long that would take.

“Look, he can just stay here,” Alex insisted. Both girls looked at him like he’d lost it.

“We are not housing some random alien that fell from the sky! He could be dangerous!” Maria hissed, not even bothering to keep quiet even though Michael was well within earshot. Alex rolled his eyes.

“I don’t think he is and I don’t know if there’s a safer place than here.”

“How in the world is our tiny apartment safe? My mom could find out! And what are we gonna tell her?” 

“I don’t know yet! Just give me a minute!”

Alex paced a few times on the roof, chewing on his thumb as he let his mind race. He didn’t want to just throw this guy out, it wasn’t fair. Someone had taken him in, he should take someone else in. Even if it wasn’t really his place to take him in.

“Hello, I have an idea,” Michael said, raising his arm up and catching their attention, “I look close enough to human. Say I am human.”

“Okay, but my mom will still question why I’m harboring a whole person,” Maria shot back. He scrunched up his nose in defeat and Alex felt even more of a need to give him a place to stay.

“Look, please, just let me try to hide him for two days. I’ll take the entire fall if we’re caught,” Alex insisted. 

“Damn right you’ll take the fall! This is your fault!” Maria said, “You’re the one who asked for a boyfriend!” Alex’s eyes widened and he scoffed.

“Excuse you, I‒”

“Okay, shut up!” Liz shouted, “You said two days. What happens when those two days are up?”

“Well, hopefully, we’ll have fixed his ship,” Alex sighed. Liz and Maria looked at him skeptically while Michael gave a dopey smile. “I’ve been in robotics class for years. With his existing knowledge of how the craft works and my being able to see what it mostly should be, I think we could fix it.”

“Ay Dios mio, I can’t believe this is happening,” Liz grumbled as she pressed the heel of her hand against her forehead.

“Just, two days,” Alex asked, “Then he’ll leave.”

“Fine. Two days. If he kills us before then, it’s your fault.”

“I do not kill anyone,” Michael chimed in once again.

“Wait, what about Christmas Eve dinner? You’re just going to leave a random alien in your house alone?” Liz asked. Maria turned to Alex, expecting him to provide the answer. Alex licked his lips and looked to Michael and then back at his friends.

“We’ll just… come,” Alex said, “We just… take him.”

“We?” Liz asked.

“Not ‘we’,” Maria said, “You.”

Alex sighed and then looked to Michael who was just blinking innocently. Why did he have to be so nice?

“Fine. Me.”

-

“Later tonight we can go to the junkyard and see what we can salvage.”

Michael stared up at him with lost eyes, but still smiling effortlessly as they looked at the ship. The two of them had pulled it out of the ground and checked out the front and now they were peering over the engine. For the most part, it was still in one piece and had done a damn good job at saving its pilot. The main issue seemed to lie in the fact that the engine had blown. Everything else, though, seemed to be cosmetic.

“Why did you crash exactly?” Alex asked. Michael gestured towards the engine.

“The wormhole made me go too fast. This was the closest planet with right air,” Michael said, “Then the shield… the… atmosphere? Atmosphere! It made me go too fast again.”

“Ah,” Alex said, looking towards the alien. He still had some soot on his face, but for the most part, he’d wiped it away. And now, in the sunlight, Alex thought he was even more gorgeous than before. “I think we can fix it.”

“Yes?” Michael said, smiling. He let out a cheer and a small laugh, peering over the engine again.

“So, you said you stole it,” Alex said, “Should I be worried that, like, alien police are gonna come down to kill us all?”

Michael’s nose scrunched up and he chuckled, “No. No, it is mine. My dad, uh… what is the word in English? Uh… take it away?”

“Grounded you?” Alex asked and Michael nodded.

“He grounded me. I take it back,” Michael said, “He knows I run off.”

“You run away a lot?” Alex said. Michael simply shrugged a shoulder.

“I like to explore,” Michael grinned. Alex liked the way he smiled. It was always just a little bit mischievous, always just a little bit like he knew too much. Alex wanted to know everything.

“And he’s not gonna look for you?”

“He gives me five days. I take longer, he calls rescue,” Michael said and then he smiled even bigger, “All rescue knows me by name.”

Alex laughed and shook his head. “I could never be that way.”

“Why not?”

“Honestly?” Alex said, focusing back on the engine, “Not sure anyone would go looking for me.”

Michael’s head jolted in shock and he made a wounded little noise. Despite the darker subject matter, Alex gave a small little smile. It didn’t subdue any shock.

“On Antar, your face would be on every paper. The world would search for you,” Michael said. Alex didn’t know how to take that and felt himself blush. He simply turned his head away again. This was a little bit too much.

“Maybe.”

-

“Okay, first of all, we need to make you look more human.”

Michael furrowed his eyebrows and tilted his head like a confused, curious little puppy. Alex couldn’t help but smile.

“I have to bring you to the Christmas dinner, so you have to look human,” Alex explained as he stood off his bed and went towards the portable closet in the corner. He didn’t have much, but he had enough to share.

“I look human.”

“Not with that hair or those clothes,” Alex said, giving a kind smile when the alien looked semi-offended. He dropped a plain black t-shirt and a pair of jeans on the bed for him. “Change into those.”

“That’s ugly.”

“Rude,” Alex scoffed, “It’s normal.”

“This is normal,” Michael insisted, gesturing towards himself. Alex simply shook his head and turned around.

“Change and undo those braids,” Alex told him. Michael grumbled in a language that Alex didn't understand, continuously rambling as his thick fabric fell to the floor with a thump.

"Undo my hair?" Michael clarified once he was dressed in Alex's clothes, physically grabbing Alex to turn him around. 

"Yes," he said and gave him a once over, thankfully, “You have to zip up the jeans!”

“What?” Michael asked, looking down at himself, “Earth is weird.” 

“Oh my god, zip them,” Alex sighed, gesturing awkwardly to the zipper and the terrifying little patch of exposed skin. Michael sighed and it took him far, far too long to figure out how to do it. “Okay, now fix your hair.”

"I need water," Michael said like it was obvious. Alex sighed and peeked his head out of the curtain. He knew Mimi was downstairs preparing to open the bar and he knew Maria was at the Crashdown Christmas Eve Dinner, spinning some lie to excuse why Alex was going to be late Still, he wanted to double-check.

When it was clear, Alex hauled him to the bathroom and shut the door behind them.

"All flat?" Michael asked, looking over at him. 

"Huh?"

"All flat like you or can I keep this?" he asked, gesturing to the curls on his head.

"What? Yeah, you can keep the curls, just not the braids. People don't wear it like that here," Alex explained.

"In my place, flat is bad," Michael said. Alex rolled his eyes. "It is good on you, though. You are the only one my people would like it on."

"You know, on Earth, when you say stuff like that, it's considered flirting," Alex pointed out. Michael just grinned. 

Alex watched as he turned on the faucet and wet his fingertips. He rubbed the water over the braids and they slowly but surely loosened, unraveling with hardly any effort. Alex was mesmerized. 

"All done. Human?"

Alex examined it and smiled. He looked good.

"I bet girls are all over you back home," Alex said, trying not to cringe when he ended up sounding like a creepy grandma. Michael simply smiled, letting Alex ruffle his natural curls into the kinky ones the braids left behind.

“Enough,” Michael said, “Boys too.” Alex froze and looked at him.

“Huh?”

“Boys too,” Michael repeated. 

“And… no one cares?” Alex asked. Michael blinked and leaned a bit forward.

“Should they?”

“They do here.”

They stared at each other for a while. Alex was trying to imagine the place he came from. Somewhere where everyone was beautiful and open and queer. Somewhere where they wore ridiculous clothes and did their hair oddly. Somewhere where they had spacecrafts. 

Somewhere else.

“Okay, we should go,” Alex whispered. 

Michael simply smiled and nodded.

-

After spending all day on a few hours of sleep tinkering with a spaceship and then making an alien boy look human, Alex finally arrived at the Crashdown Christmas Eve Dinner. 

The whole place was bustling and filled with people in Christmas sweaters and hats. Alex and Michael were the only ones in black‒but that wasn’t that big of a deal. Alex always was. Maria and Liz spotted them pretty immediately and ushered them over to the booth. Alex dragged him over.

“Should I ask what is Christmas?” Michael wondered carefully as they sat down across from the girls. 

“It’s a holiday,” Alex answered simply, not bothering to look as offended as Maria and Liz did, “Where we celebrate just, like, togetherness and shit.”

“Oh,” Michael said, nodding his head as if that explained everything. He assumed he probably just didn’t care to ask more.

“So, you look awfully normal,” Maria noted before turning an overwhelming smile onto Alex, “I’m assuming no alien probing happened?”

Alex almost choked on Dr. Pepper he hadn’t taken a sip of yet.

“Jesus Christ,” Alex said, his face flushing hard, “No, we just fixed his hair and his clothes.”

Before anything else could happen, Liz’s father bounded over with a big smile and a tray full of food that he placed before them. 

“Alex! I’m glad you could join us!” he cheered, pulling Alex up to his feet and pulling him into a massive hug. He accepted it willingly, a smile finding his face as he squeezed right back. “And who's your friend?” 

“Uh, Michael,” Alex answered. Arturo held out a hand to him and Alex had to shoot him a look to make him grab it. Maybe he should’ve gone over a bit more human things. 

“Ah, well, welcome!” 

Getting Michael to eat human food proved more difficult than expected. He would ask what it was made of and then that didn't do much to sway him because he didn't know any of the things listed. They had to all but force him to try it and only then, after clarification that it didn’t taste like trash, did he bother to eat.

The only time Michael seemed to not have a problem was when Liz’s sister Rosa pulled him up to dance without even asking who he was. The three of them watched in confusion as the alien moved seamlessly to the music and with Rosa. She seemed super impressed by this and took a moment to wiggle her eyebrows at Alex before Michael spun and dipped her.

“What the hell, they have samba in space?” Liz asked. Alex didn’t even know what to say.

The guy was attractive and he was smart and he was fun to be around and he was into other guys. All of these were positives and, had he not been an alien, Alex would’ve been head over heels. But he was an alien. This wasn’t Carter whatever-his-last-name-was who sat two seats over from him in science last semester. That guy was easy to fall in love with even though he didn’t have a single conversation with him. He was cute and he was human. These felt like extremely pathetic standards, but who could fault him?

This guy ticked all the boxes and was an alien. A fucking alien.

Was it morally wrong to think an alien was hot?

“Nah, Kirk did it all the time,” Maria answered which made Alex realize he’d asked that out loud.

“Oh, that’s so cute!” Liz cooed in a baby voice, an exaggerated pout on her face as she turned to him, “He could be your Spock!” 

“Oh my God,” Alex laughed, shaking his head, “No.”

“Why not? He’s not and he clearly likes you,” Maria pointed out. Alex looked at her in confusion.

“What do you mean he clearly likes me?”

“I mean he’s been making heart eyes at you since you pulled him out of the wreckage,” Maria laughed, kicking him from beneath the table, “And you got him to change his hair and his clothes and eat food he isn’t used to. Sounds like love.”

“Sounds like he’s an alien we took in at four o’clock this morning.”

“So?” 

“You know, you guys were the ones who didn’t even want to keep him. Now you guys think I should hook up with him?” Alex scoffed.

“It’s the dancing,” Maria said.

“True. Boy moves his hips like Shakira taught him personally,” Liz agreed.

“Oh my God,” Alex breathed, shaking his head. But they really did have a point. “None of that even matters because he’s going to be gone the day after Christmas.”

“And you can’t enjoy it while it lasts?” Maria asked. Alex scrunched up his nose.

“Nah. If we did that, we wouldn’t get anything on the ship done,” Alex insisted.

He deserved the slaps to his shoulders he got.

-

“I am tired.”

“You wanna just wake up early to go to the junkyard?”

“Yes.”

Alex could see Michael’s eyes drooping as they made their way back to the Pony. Maria was trailing in front of them, skipping light on her toes. 

“Christmas is tomorrow!” she sang as if she just realized it. Alex couldn’t help but smile at her.

“Yeah, it is.”

“And you two are going to spend it working like dorks!” she added, spinning around to stick her tongue out at them before facing forward again.

“No… togetherness and shit?” Michael asked Alex, quoting him and sounding so very inhuman that it made Alex smile.

“Maria and her mom go to see family, so I usually just stay home and watch movies and then we have dinner together,” Alex explained, “Which, I guess you can come to and I’ll sneak you back in after.”

“And your family? You do not see them?” Michael asked. Alex took a slow, deep breath before giving him a smile.

“Not really, no,” he said. It was easier than any other response and Michael nodded.

“Okay. We can have togetherness and shit,” Michael decided which got Maria to look over her shoulder and shimmy her shoulders a bit at Alex. He rolled his eyes.

“Sounds good.”

It was incredibly easy to sneak Michael in considering Mimi was still manning the bar. Christmas Eve and Christmas day were two of the busiest days of the year for the bar, so she always worked late. All they had to do was slip Michael in the back and bring him straight to Alex’s space.

“It just occurred to me that I never asked how you feel,” Alex asked as he gave Michael a pair of sweats to change into. They faced opposite ways to change.

“I am… uncomfortable?” Michael said. Alex furrowed his eyebrows.

“Uncomfortable how?”

“I ache.”

“Oh, you’re sore?” Alex asked. 

“Yes, a bit.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I crashed,” Michael laughed. Alex turned around and saw him stretching, arms up and a strip of skin visible above his sweats. It made him second guess what Liz and Maria had said about taking advantage of the time he was here. 

What was the worst that could happen?

Obviously, he didn’t stay on that thought too long once Michael turned around again. His shoulders were hunched and his eyes were exhausted, but he still managed to give Alex a little smile. It was painstakingly adorable.

They both looked towards the tiny twin bed. Alex never felt it was really tiny before this moment when he realized he hadn’t considered where they were both going to sleep.

“So… I can sleep on the floor, I guess,” Alex suggested. Michael looked at him with a big frown.

“Why? We can fit.”

“Yeah, but it’s kinda weird to share a bed with someone,” Alex said. Michael still didn’t seem to get it.

“We are friends, yes?” Michael asked. Alex nodded slowly. “I sleep with friends always. It is not weird.”

“Okay, but on Earth it’s weird.”

“You saved me,” Michael said, “If it is weird, I will sleep on the floor.”

“No, you’re sore, I don’t want to make that worse by you sleeping on the floor.”

“Then we share.”

After some staring and internal debating, Alex agreed. He just decided he would never tell Liz or Maria about it because he would never live it down. This would just be his little secret after Michael went home.

They crawled into bed, back to back and fitting a little too snug. The first thing Alex noticed was how physically hot he was. It was like pressing his back up against a heater. Alex gulped softly and reached for his phone to set an alarm. They needed to be up before Mimi so they could sneak off to the junkyard without her realizing Alex had a boy in his bed overnight. 

God, Alex had a boy in his bed overnight. That sounded like a fake sentence.

“Thank you, Alex,” Michael said, “For helping me. You are very kind.” He added a few more sentences in his native tongue, but Alex didn’t need a translation to know that it was simply more appreciation. The sound of his voice was enough.

“You’re welcome.”

Michael reached behind him and grabbed Alex’s arm and gave it a squeeze. 

He fell asleep with a blush on his cheeks.

-

Alex woke up before his alarm went off which was actual bullshit. 

The reason he woke up, however, had everything to do with the space heater that had decided to press all up against him and wrap him up in his arms. Perhaps it would be romantic and sweet if Alex wasn’t sweating like crazy. 

“Oh my God, Michael, get off,” he grumbled sleepily, elbowing the body behind him. Michael simply hummed and squeezed him once. Alex whined and tried to wiggle out of the hold.

Eventually, Michael let go and Alex turned around to try to prevent that from happening again. Maybe if it was colder or maybe if he was wearing less clothes or maybe if he wasn’t trying to sleep it would’ve been fine. But those weren’t the circumstances and he was tired of sweating. 

It didn’t really help, though, as Michael, in his sleep, scooted back in. Alex fell back asleep with them physically nose to nose.

When the alarm actually went off, neither of them really wanted to budge. It was comfortable to lay there in bed. It was comfortable to lay next to each other. It was comfortable to have limp alien fingers pressed to Alex’s hip as a silent desire for affection.

Alex liked this much better.

His eyes slid open at the same time Michael’s did and they stared for a minute or two. For a moment or two, Alex didn’t want him to leave. It was an insane thought, he barely knew this guy, but he really wanted him to stay. He wanted to wake up and stare at him every morning. He thought he could survive waking up in the middle of the night to throw him off if it meant getting this one little moment of contented silence.

“You are beautiful,” Michael said like that was okay.

“Let’s go to the junkyard,” Alex said because that was okay.

The two of them dressed sluggishly and stole a couple of bananas off the counter. Alex left Mimi a note that said he’d be back for dinner, he had simply gotten up early to go for a walk. Then they slipped out quietly with two backpacks and headed for the junkyard.

Michael and Alex spent more than a few hours digging through parts and trying to find something to create something else that would have enough horsepower to propel him up to space and go through a wormhole enough to make it home. However, it took longer than it should’ve because, now that they were rested, it was easier to fuck around.

Hours went by and they only found a few things, spending most of the time laughing and teasing and getting comfortable. Alex liked being alone with him. He liked his sense of humor and he liked that he wasn’t scared to say what he thought. Alex taught him a few extra words and Michael attempted to teach him some of his native tongue, but it went so badly that Michael told him never to try it again. Which was valid when it sounded more like German than anything else.

“You think we could start your ship with this?” Alex asked as they loaded the parts into their bags. 

“I think so, yes. We could do it after later,” Michael suggested. Alex smiled and nodded, but he found that he was even more sad to see him go.

As they began to walk back, Alex asked, “What happens if we can’t get it started?”

“My dad will come.”

Alex was too scared to ask what all that could mean. 

-

Climbing into bed for the second night felt bittersweet. This would more than likely be the last night they would have. 

Dinner with Mimi had gone better than expected. She took to Michael quickly and she found him incessantly charming. He seemed to love that. He loved it so much he ate her food without question and then offered to do dishes. It was strange, but it also made sense. He fit well in their little family. It was like he was a piece that had been missing beforehand. It only made Alex even more upset that he would have to go.

This time, they went to bed already facing each other. Every second that Alex stared was an extra second that he was considering just going for it. Michael was leaving in the morning. If he tried something and it went badly, he would only have to live with the embarrassment for a few hours. But, still, that sounded too ambitious.

“I’m gonna miss you,” Alex said instead. Michael’s legs shifted under the blankets, wedging his foot between Alex’s shins. It stole his breath.

“Me too.”

They laid nose to nose again, breathing in sync and existing in sync. How wild was it that he’d crashed where Alex could find him? How specific did life have to be to have them meet?

Alex slowly let his eyes close as he allowed himself to appreciate his body heat. He let himself appreciate the fact that he probably wouldn’t have someone else in his bed for a very long time. He let himself appreciate how immediate they seemed to click. It was like from the moment they saw each other, Alex was here for him. It was too fast for anyone, much less someone like Alex, but it was too good to push away.

“Alex,” Michael whispered. Alex had to put effort into opening his eyes, feeling lethargic and at ease.

“Hm?” 

Soft fingertips pressed into his jaw which made Alex a thousand times more alert. Then he was being kissed which both woke him up completely and subdued him entirely at the same time. It was slow and sleepy and had all the hair on Alex’s body standing on end. Michael’s leg curled around his and tugged him closer. It was too good. 

“Wow,” Alex breathed. Michael hummed, nudging their noses together. Alex felt at peace.

“Maybe,” Michael murmured, fingers moving from Alex’s jaw to his shoulder and down his arm, “Maybe I can come back sometime.” Alex’s stomach tied in a million knots, eager for it even if it was as vague as possible.

“Would you want to?” 

“Yes. More than anything.”

Alex slept better than he had in a while.

-

The ship came to life too quickly.

Alex tried not to feel too upset about it. He’d known Michael was going home and, the fact that it started, meant that they were really good at putting shit back together. And, if they’d failed, then Michael’s father would’ve come to search for him which only sounded like it could go wrong. Alex didn’t want to be at the forefront of a misunderstanding turned alien invasion.

Liz and Maria came to send him off, giving him hugs to say it was nice to meet him. He gave Alex a kiss that no longer felt new. In fact, after falling asleep to them and waking up to them, he found he was going to miss them more than anything in the entire world. 

“Goodbye,” Alex told him as he gave him a tight hug.

“Goodbye,” Michael repeated, pressing a kiss to his cheek one last time. It felt too fast, too unreal, when he simply climbed into the ship and left and suddenly it was like it’d never happened.

“Man, you really kissed him,” Maria noted. Alex rolled his eyes.

“Is that what we’re focusing on?”

“I’m just saying that I’m surprised. It was awfully fast.”

“You’re the one who told me I should in the first place!”

“Yeah, but‒”

“Are you going to miss him?” Liz asked, breaking the arguing. Alex licked his lips.

“Yeah,” he said, “But he said he’s going to come back. I don’t know when and maybe he won’t at all, but…”

“Yeah.”

They were all quiet for a bit longer as they stared up at the sky. It was truly an unforgettable Christmas. Alex silently hoped he could have more.

“Santa really does deliver.”