They didn’t get to enjoy their quiet bubble for long. After the kiss, they parted ways shortly after. Everyone was exhausted, ready to pass out, especially after drinking the way they did.
Alex lingers by Michael's truck for a few minutes, looking around for onlookers and when he’s satisfied no one is looking, he leans in and presses a quick kiss to Michael’s lips. Michael chases him as he pulls away. Groans when he doesn't get another kiss.
It’s morning now and they’re all gathered at the Wild Pony. Liz, Max, Isobel, Maria, and Rosa. Alex is late, which is so unlike him. Michael is a little worried, ignoring the conversations around him. Instead he’s watching the door, waiting for Alex to walk inside.
Maria taps at his shoulder, forcing him to turn around and face her. “Yes, DeLuca?”
“Are you listening at all? Liz has said your name several times.”
He shakes his head, he apologizes. “No, sorry. What’s up?”
Liz doesn’t look upset at him ignoring her and just starts back from the beginning of her theory about the alien sword. He half listens, chimes in here and there. He does agree they need to work together on this; since it’s half tech half organic. But, he can’t focus on what she’s saying. He chews at his thumb nervously, waiting for Alex to burst through the door, and to say he was okay. Michael just hopes he’s okay.
“Michael, do you think we could alter the tech that recognizes Jones’ DNA?”
Michael shrugs. He feels bad for blowing off Liz’s theories but he just can’t focus. He can’t even sit still without fidgeting.
Finally, the door swings open and Alex walks through. He’s limping a little—his crutch held tightly in his hand. Which is weird, Alex hasn’t been using it for a year. His new prosthetic helped more with his balance. He hasn't needed it.
Alex apologizes profusely, walking closer to them.
Michael scrambles off his stool, accosting Alex before he catches up to their friends. He almost, almost , reaches out to steady him. To offer a hand to take the pressure off his leg. But Michael knows how Alex feels about public displays and keeps his hands to himself.
Though, he doesn’t stop himself from his whispered question, his worry bleeding through his voice. “Are you okay?”
Alex looks up at him and smiles. The bastard smiles, like Michael being worried sick is somehow funny. “I’m fine, Guerin. I honestly overslept. It’s the strangest thing, slept the best I ever have last night. I’m genuinely happy, so... no nightmares.”
Michael feels the grin spread across his face. “Good, good.”
“You were worried about me?”
“I always worry about you.”
“It’s cute. But honestly, I’m the best I’ve been in a long time.”
Michael has to physically stop himself from kissing Alex, right then and there. Instead, he brings his hand into Alex’s hair and ruffles it. A platonic enough gesture. Alex ducks under his hand, laughing as he makes his way to their friends. Michael can only follow. And he gladly lets Alex take his seat. He can stand.
Michael stops by Alex’s place unannounced, lets himself in with the key Alex gave to him. He didn't say anything, has been wanting to surprise him this morning, with his favorite coffee.
Michael sets the coffee down on the kitchen island, then walks toward the bedroom. Alex is nowhere to be found. He checks every room. He has to be here, his car is out front. And where would he walk in this cold weather?
Michael swallows, then stops when he sees the carvings in the wall. Like Trevor Gunther.
Michael runs to his car, coffee long forgotten. Alex has to have wandered. Michael drives around for what seems like hours, checking Alex’s usual haunts, driving along populated roads. His phone rings, he answers without checking the number.
“Kyle, I don’t have time for whatever this is. I can’t find Alex.”
“He’s here. At the hospital.”
Michael curses, makes a quick U-turn, changing his course to the hospital. “Is he okay?” Michael tries to keep his voice from wavering.
“He’s … out of it.”
“Fuck. I’ll be there in ten. Let ‘im know I’m coming.” He hangs up without a response.
Michael runs through the hospital, several nurses yelling at him. He can’t be bothered to care, when Alex is laying in a hospital room alone .
“Guerin!” Valenti calls a file in his hands. Michael catches up to him and he leads him down hallways until they stop outside Alex’s room.
“I have to see him. Now.” Valenti blocks the entrance to the room.
“He’s going through testing right now. I can’t let you in.” Michael curses, gripping tightly at his hair, trying desperately not to lose control.
“What’s wrong with him, Valenti?”
“I don’t really know. The cops found him wandering. Couldn’t even remember his name.” Michael swallows hard. It has to be that goddamned Lockhart machine. He has begged Alex over and over to stop working on it. The hallway begins to shake. “ Cool it,” Valenti hisses, gripping his forearm tightly. Michael pulls out of his hold.
“This can’t be happening,” Michael says, voice cracking. “I just got him back.”
“You haven’t lost him. Calm down . He’s going to be scared when he wakes, he’ll need you there and if you don’t control yourself I’ll have to make you leave.” Michael nods. He breathes in deeply, trying to calm the chaos inside him. Alex has always been the one to make it quiet. He has to try, though, for him. Instead of because of him, this time.
“Okay, okay. I’m good.”
“Good. When the tests are done we can see him.”
Michael falls asleep at some point. He wakes to Alex saying his name.
“Alex, thank god.” Michael presses the call button by Alex’s bed. Alex looks confused, his eyes wide and unsure.
Michael answers, “Um, you blacked out, is Valenti's best guess. Which him guessing about your health is really pissing me off.”
Alex’s head falls back against the pillow, his eyes fluttering shut. He groans quietly, rubbing his eyes with his fists. “I feel exhausted.”
There’s a quick knock at the door then Kyle walks through. He walks to the end of Alex’s hospital bed and grabs his chart.
“Okay. So far, no sign of any brain degradation. No similar symptoms to Trevor Gunther except for the symbols Michael tells me you carved into the cabin's walls. I don’t even know if this is something I’ll be able to detect, Alex. You have to stop messing with that thing, before it’s too late.”
Michael feels the fear begin to creep in. Alex wouldn’t stop for Michael, why would he stop because Valenti said so? Michael can feel his control slipping, but he can’t be forced away from Alex’s side now. Not when Alex looks so scared and so small.
He almost reaches out, takes his hand. But he stops himself. Valenti is still in the room, he’s checking Alex’s vitals now. Making sure he’s okay.
“Okay, everything’s normal.”
“How? Normal sees relative when I have a chunk in my memory that no one can explain,” Alex rebuffs.
Valenti glares at Michael, mouths say something.
“If you stop messing with the machine…” Michael starts, his fingers laying on the bed twitching, desperate to touch him, desperate to ground him, “This shouldn’t happen again. Please, Alex.”
Alex nods, “Okay.”
He relents easier than Michael expected.
Michael watches from across the room as Flint approaches Alex.
The meeting has been set up by Alex. Flint's been bothering him about ‘catching up’. But, Michael insists on being nearby, in case Flint tries anything or says anything to upset Alex.
He’s only a few tables away, nursing a beer. He can’t hear their conversation, but he watches Alex’s body language. He watches him tense up, watches his face fall.
Michael decides enough's enough and walks over to their booth.
“Manes. Fuck off.” Perhaps Michael should’ve been more specific about which Manes sitting before him, but he’s sure Alex would know.
“Michael Guerin,” He spits, jerking his thumb in Alex’s direction, “Haven’t gotten tired of this?”
Alex tenses, his hand curling tighter around his glass. Michael refrains the urge to punch this complete dick right in the face. He assumes Alex won’t take too kindly to that. He hears Alex's voice in his head saying, he's still my brother.
“No. I won’t. Not ever.”
Michael sees Alex’s shoulders relax. He wants to drag Alex out of the bar, back home where he can show him how much he loves him. He doesn’t.
Alex looks down at the table, not meeting Michael’s eyes.
“Flint, it’s time for you to go,” Michael says. “Reunion didn’t go as planned. Don’t bother Alex again.”
Flint scoffs. “You gonna let him speak for you?”
Alex looks back up, his eyes dark. “Yeah, Flint. I am. I’m tired of trying with you. So Guerin’s right, don’t bother me again.”
When Flint is gone, Michael takes his abandoned seat. “You okay?”
“He just told me the same things I’ve already heard from him. That Dad was right, that I’m a pathetic excuse for a Manes man.”
Michael wants to follow Flint, take him to the alley and beat him black and blue. It’s the least he deserves. However, he stays here. Alex needs him. Even if all he can be right now is silent moral support. He sees Alex’s hands shaking on the table. He stops halfway across from scooping them up and into his hands. Alex has become a lot more comfortable with them in public, but he doesn’t think he’d appreciate it now. Not when he’s trying to keep everything he’s feeling from escaping in this very public bar.
He wakes up to an empty bed. The sheets have gone cold, Alex must’ve been gone for hours. Michael showers first, then heads to the kitchen for coffee and breakfast. In that exact order. He has priorities. He’s shocked into stillness when he sees Alex curled up asleep on the couch.
Isobel is next to him, eyes closed. Since when are they friends?
He continues into the kitchen when he hears Isobel’s voice, quieted so as not to wake Alex. “Hey. He didn’t want to wake you.”
“I’m guessing... nightmares?” She appears in the kitchen, taking the pans out of his hands. She insists on cooking breakfast.
Isobel nods. “He called me last night. I could feel how terrified, how much he was hurting, over the phone. I didn’t know what it was about, I didn’t ask. When I got here, he was pacing, like - like a caged animal. He asked me to jump into his mindscape, Michael.”
“He was so - so wounded that I couldn’t say no.”
Michael feels the frustration start to build up. He grits out between his teeth, “Don’t ever say that about him again.” He stabs a fork in Isobel’s direction. She throws her hands up in surrender. “And don’t you dare tell me you made him forget something. He’d be so angry if he found out and I can’t keep something like that from him.”
“No, he asked if I could help calm him so he could sleep.”
Michael sighs. He’s noticed recently how little Alex has been sleeping, he didn’t know what to do. Every night they went to bed together and around two in the morning he’d wake up alone. If he left the bedroom, he’d find Alex at the kitchen table, laptop open in front of him.
Alex didn’t tell him about any nightmares. He instead tells Isobel. He tries not to feel jealous of his sister. He’s glad Alex finally told someone, even if he didn’t confide in her what they were about.
“I did, Michael. But I had to see the nightmare to do so.”
“Don’t tell me, Iz, it’s his business. He can tell me himself, okay?”
“No, I think it’s yours too, Michael. I kept seeing flashes of you two together. Before he came back, when you were in high school. Then I saw him leave for war. I saw him come back and you weren’t here.”
Michael feels his heartbreak. He curls in on himself, feeling tears prick at his eyes. “But—” He cuts himself off, unable to say what he intended. “I’ve told him, I’m not leaving.”
“Michael.” She takes his hands in hers, squeezes tightly as if to soften the blow. “Alex feels guilty about leaving you.”
Isobel explains, “He feels guilty that he left, without even a goodbye. Especially, when he knew you could’ve been long gone by the time he was back. When he knew that leaving was your plan.”
“He - he can’t seriously—” Michael’s ready to deny it. But maybe it’s true. Maybe Alex believes Michael still being in Roswell was a fluke. That he never would've seen Michael again if not for circumstance. “I pushed him away. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Just talk to him. Tell him that, please.”
Michael nods. They finish breakfast, Alex stumbles in shortly after. Isobel has placed their dirty dishes in the sink. “There’s some in the microwave for you, Alex.”
Michael gets up, follows him into the kitchen. Alex looks exhausted, there’s dark bags under his eyes. He barely looks coherent. “Hey,” he whispers.
Michael wants to scoop him up and take him to the bedroom for proper sleep, not a small nap on the couch. Alex undoubtedly has aches from doing so. But Isobel is watching them from the kitchen table, quietly drinking her coffee. He would normally just kick her out, but Alex would call him rude, tell him that's his sister not to treat her like that. He deicides against it and keeps his hands to himself. He watches as Alex makes himself a plate and a cup of coffee, taking his breakfast to the table, where he sits with Isobel in a companionable silence. Michael takes a seat beside him, he hopes just being here is enough.
He’ll talk to Alex, properly, later.
Thankfully, Alex listens. He stays away from the machine. Ramos let's Michael look at it instead. Well, that’s not quite right. More like Michael threatened him that if Alex touched it again, Ramos would regret it. Alex didn’t appreciate Michael fighting his battle, but Michael couldn’t let another black out incident happen.
He’s currently working on the Lockhart machine now. Though, not much progress has been made. When he gets a call from Alex, he picks up instantly. Glad for the distraction. When he hears Alex's voice, though, his blood goes cold.
“Guerin,” he pants, “Jones, he - he—” The connection goes dead.
Michael curses. He opens the Find My Friends app, Alex’s location pinging at his cabin. He prays that it's accurate.
He drives as fast as humanly possible. It still takes too long. Michael is praying to whoever will listen that Alex will be okay. Michael doesn’t even park, just shuts the car off, running up the driveway. The door is thrown open and the house eerily silent.
Michael cautiously steps inside, looking around for any sign of life.
“Alex?” He asks, his voice quivering.
“M-Michael, in here!” Liz yells. Michael runs toward the sound of her voice. She’s putting pressure on Alex’s stomach, red bleeding through the white cotton. He drops down to his knees next to Alex’s body.
“Alex, open your eyes," He begs. "You gotta stay awake." Even now, Alex laying in front of him and bleeding out, he still doesn’t take his hand. Alex won’t die, can’t die. He won’t break his trust now. He won’t have Alex wake up and be angry at him for something so trivial.
“Michael,” Alex chokes out. Alex never uses his first name. Michael can feel everything around him shake, pictures fly off the walls, the doors rattling on their hinges. He takes deep breaths, reminds himself Alex is strong, that he'll make it. Everything stops.
“He’s going to be okay. It’s a minor stab.”
“Minor?!” Michael snaps at her, then immediately feels sorry. Alex is probably only going to be okay because of her.
The paramedics arrive shortly, taking over for Liz. Alex has fallen unconscious now, the loss of blood too much. “Go - go with him,” she says.
She holds her hands up, the blood staining them, they shake in front of her. She takes a deep breath, before she keels over and begins to sob.
Michael lets the paramedics leave without him. No matter how much he doesn’t want Alex out of his sight. No matter how much he wants to follow. No matter how much he wants to hold his hand in the ambulance. But he has someone else to comfort right now. Someone else who shouldn’t be alone. “He wouldn’t forgive me if I left you alone right now.”
She lets out a breathy laugh, through the sobs. “You’re right.”
He pulls her close to her, hugging her tightly as she cries.
Once Liz calms down, once they’re both cleaned up. He drives them to the hospital. Liz explains that Jones had been waiting for Alex at home, Jones had only talked vaguely, and didn't reveal any master plan. He only stopped attacking Alex after Liz threw herself in front of him.
Michael knows that Alex was targeted because of him . Maybe he had to end this, end them, for Alex’s safety.
They sit next to each other in the waiting room. Liz leans into his side, he leans his head on top of hers.
He eventually confesses, a hushed whisper, “Liz, it’s because of me. Jones attacked him, because of me.”
Liz doesn’t say anything. She sits up, pulls him into a hug, he cries softly into her shoulder.
Alex wakes, he almost chews Michael out for not staying with Liz, when she interrupts their bickering and tells him he stayed with her.
He smiles weakly, “Good.”
Alex looks at Michael. He’s laying in the makeshift hospital room Liz and Kyle set up in Alex’s cabin. He looks so small, so broken, his body is covered in bruises. The IV he’s hooked to slowly administering acetone and a steady beat of his heart on the monitor. He’s been in this bed for weeks, Alex only leaving the chair to use the bathroom. He never bothers with food, someone always brings some to him. Watching him, making sure he eats.
He keeps staring at those injuries littering Michael’s body, that his father inflicted on him, injuries he got protecting Alex . Yet again. Alex can’t help but think of Jesse Manes shattering his hand. Michael has had horrible experiences with fathers, with family. Alex doesn’t understand how he trusts anyone. Let alone him.
“Knock, knock,” Maria says. Liz, Kyle, Isobel, and Max are right behind her.
Maria walks into the room, stands by Alex’s side, taking his hand in hers. Liz flanks his other side, her hand on his shoulder. Kyle lingers in the doorway, while Max and Isobel walk closer to their brother’s bedside.
“Wake up,” Isobel says, she looks close to tears. She sinks to her knees next to his bed, grabbing tightly onto his hand. “I miss your annoying snarky comments.”
Alex feels a sob in his throat. He swallows it down. He can’t lose it again. Michael will wake up. He has to believe in that.
No one leaves for a while. Alex finally feels safe to fall asleep. He doesn’t feel like something is lurking over his shoulder with them here. He also feels relieved that they’ll be here in case Michael wakes while he’s asleep.
He wakes, later. Everyone’s still here, more chairs have been brought in. The sun has set. Isobel is reading a book he recognizes from his shelf. Liz and Maria are still on both his sides. Liz is reading some academic journal, Maria is staring at Michael on the bed. Kyle’s sitting in the corner, his head in his hands. He knows Kyle feels guilty that he couldn’t do more, that Alex is hurting. Isobel and Max are still next to Michael’s bedside, Isobel’s grip on Michael’s hand not wavering.
When he moves, Maria turns to look at him. She doesn’t say anything, just pats his hand. Liz stands, leaving the journal in her seat.
“I’m gonna go make some food. Least I can do.”
She walks out the room, he hears the clattering of pots and pans. The sound of anything other than that damn machine, that tells him Michael is still alive, is honestly a relief.
Maria stands shortly after. She holds out a hand for him. He shakes his head. “You need some liquids in you.”
He grabs her head, she pulls him up, and leads him to the kitchen. Liz is watching over a pot, when they enter. Maria opens a cupboard, pulls down a glass, fills it with water from the tap. She shoves it at him.
He takes careful sips, not wanting to overwhelm his body. When he finishes the glass, he turns to leave, Maria grabs onto his wrist.
“No buts, Alex. You need an actual meal, too.”
He decides not to argue. She would probably wrestle him into a seat and force feed him if he did. Scratch that, he knows she will.
He forgets for a moment that Michael is clinging to life, that Michael has been in a coma because of him. He listens to Liz and Maria bicker, listens to them do all they can to distract them.
He eats the soup, he breathes a little easier.
Then there's a commotion and a very loud, “Where’s Alex?”
He startles. That’s Michael’s voice. He has to be dreaming.
Liz and Maria stop dead in their tracks, they stop their conversation. They both turn to look at him. They both look like deer caught in headlights. Maybe it isn’t a dream.
“Where is he?” He hears Michael’s pleading yells. “Is he okay? All I remember is Jones going after him.”
Alex is frozen, he knows he needs to move. He needs to go tell Michael he’s okay, but he can’t believe he’s awake. He doesn’t know how he does it, how he even moves. But then he’s standing in the doorway. He hears Isobel reassuring Michael that Alex is okay, that he’s just in the kitchen. But Michael shakes his head over and over, his eyes screwed tightly shut. Like he’s afraid if he opens his eyes, he’ll see they’re not being truthful.
“I need to see him,” he begs.
Alex feels the tears prick at his eyes, feels them fall down his face. He walks to Michael’s bedside, Isobel and Max stepping away. Alex cups Michael’s face in his hand, the other falling to where his heart is. He feels the warmth beneath his hands. The steady heart beat, the reassuring feeling underneath his palm. Michael’s alive, he’s awake. Alex repeats it over and over again in his head.
“I’m here, I’m okay, Guerin.”
Michael opens his eyes. Alex sees the relief fill them. “You’re alive.”
Alex lets out a laugh, that sounds like a sob. “Me? You’re alive. I’m okay because of you.”
“Good. I’m glad it was me, not you in this bed.”
Alex takes a shaky breath. How could Michael say that? How could Michael think it’s better for him to take all the hits?
“Don’t say that,” He pleads, resting his forehead on Michael’s, closing his eyes.
“I am. I couldn’t see you lying in a hospital bed again, because of me.”
“Stop. Just—” He presses a kiss to his lips, present company be damned. He has to kiss his boyfriend, to let him know everything he feels for him, to let him know how relieved he is since he can’t find the words to say it. “Stop.”
“Alex,” Michael breaths into the space between them, whispering, “I love you.”
Alex smiles. Maybe those are all the words he needs. He replies and it's as easy as breathing, “I love you, too. Now, scoot over, make room.”
“Let me lay with you.”
Kyle chimes in, his doctor voice on, “You really shouldn’t do that.”
“Shut up, Valenti. Let my boyfriend lay with me if he wants,” Michael says, smugly, a smile to match his tone. Alex feels a rush of love run through him. He doesn’t think Michael has ever called him his boyfriend out loud before. Or well, in front of people.
It’s partially Alex’s fault, he knows that. The way he’s always hidden them away. He doesn’t want to do that anymore, he climbs into the bed next to him, hugs Michael tightly to his chest. “Yeah, Kyle. Let me lay with my boyfriend.”
Michael’s blinding smile is everything.
Kyle scoffs. “You two enable each other.”
Isobel laughs. Michael grins wider, if that’s even possible. Alex finds himself smiling, too.
“There,” Maria says, everyone turning to her. “Your hope’s back, Alex.”
"Yeah, he is."