Title: Strangers in the Night
Series Title: Unraveling Fate
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Genre: BtVS/Roswell crossover
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Roswell belong to Jason Katims, Melinda Metz, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Notes: Takes place during Willow’s junior year (Season 2) in the BtVS ‘verse and after ‘285. . .” in the Roswell ‘verse.
He didn’t know whether to be hurt or just angry as his car sped down the dark, quiet highway – back towards Roswell. The others were still back there, at the seedy little motel he’d found them in. Liz was still back there.
Kyle fought the urge to shut his eyes. There was no point, really. Shutting his eyes wouldn’t block out the images he kept getting of her, with Max. With all of them, in that little sleazy room. She’d always seemed like such a nice, smart girl.
Lately he felt like he didn’t know her at all. She’d left him for Evans, of that there was no doubt in his mind. But what did Evans have that he didn’t? He supposed some girls considered him attractive, but he was just this side of being a complete loser and that had a tendency to make girls run in the opposite direction. He was just the opposite of everything Kyle was, for that matter.
Yet Liz had chosen. And she hadn’t chosen –him-. No, she was with that big-eared freak, shacked up in a motel.
He was over it. If she wanted to be with Max-fucking-Evans, then she could do so with his. . . . blessing. Yeah, that’s right. She could have his blessing. Let her screw up her life with Evans. He didn’t want any part of her or that twisted little circle of friends she’d built around herself. She wasn’t the same person he’d dated over the summer, that much was obvious.
And it was all Evans’ fault.
It was a cop out, perhaps; blaming it all on one person. Liz had a hand in it, he was sure of that much. She hadn’t gone kicking and screaming into whatever she was caught up in. Most of the time she seemed to be. . .enjoying it. She was just as guilty in all of this as Evans, maybe even more so.
But guilty of what? Of breaking up with him? Of breaking his heart? Not hardly. She was a good friend. –Was- being the key word in that. And she’d been a good girlfriend. Again, past tense. He wasn’t sure what she was right now. A friend? Sure, a friend. A friend that he didn’t feel like he could talk to anymore.
An hour passed with nothing but his thoughts to keep him occupied. Thoughts he would have rather not had. He tried to take his mind off of her, off of what he’d seen, but it was damn near impossible.
His headlights flashed on something, a bit of movement off to the side of the road a little further up, and he instinctively began to slow down. It was a car. And a girl. She looked up, shielding her eyes against his headlights as he pulled over to the side. The engine died as he turned the key, and he slid out, frowning in sympathy at the sight before him.
She had pale skin and red hair that swung along her back as she turned his way. A smudge of something black on her cheek, probably grease judging by the open hood of her car. Her clothes were nothing fancy. Jeans and a t-shirt that ended a little above her waist, exposing just the slightest touch of her stomach.
And for the first time that night, thoughts of Liz fled his mind.
“Hey,” he smiled, approaching slowly. She looked a little spooked, with just a touch of relieved. Who knew how long she’d been stranded out there, waiting for someone to drive by. It wasn’t as if the highway was widely traveled late at night.
“Um. . . hi,” she smiled shyly, giving a little wave with her hand. “My car. . .”
“Broke down?” he offered, completing the short trip between his car and hers. He stopped and looked down into the hood. There was nothing wrong that he could –see- right off hand, but that didn’t mean much. It wasn’t as if his knowledge of the inner workings of a car was anything special.
“Yeah,” she sighed softly, crossing her arms and leaning up against the front bumper. Her eyes danced between him and the car, fingers tapping nervously on her arms. “And my cell phone hasn’t had a signal for miles. . .Figures.”
Kyle felt himself chuckle at the despondent, yet half-amused, tone of her voice.
“Well, I know we just met and all – but I can give you a ride to the next town. You can arrange for the car to be towed from there.”
“Which town?” she asked, brow furrowed as she stared down the dark, empty expanse of highway as though she thought she could see it if she just looked hard enough.
“Oh!” She smiled brightly. “Well, you know, funny thing that since I was on my way there anyway. To. . .do the whole tourist thing. In the morning that is. I wanted to see all there was to see, and all that. . .”
Her face slowly ran from pale to pink as a blush heated up her cheeks and her babbling ceased with a sudden stop. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing out loud. She was adorable. Sort of like –
No, she was nothing like Liz, he told himself, issuing his mind a sharp mental kick of reprimand. How could he compare this sweet girl to that. . .well, whatever it was that Liz was turning herself into.
“Sorry,” her blush deepened as he smiled. “I babble when I’m nervous.”
“Don’t be nervous. If it makes you feel better I’ll promise that I’m not a mass murderer out her eon the empty highway just hoping I’ll find some girl who had her car break down at the precise moment I’m going to be driving by.”
She snorted as a bubble of laughter erupted from her mouth, her head bobbing up and down in an amused nod. “Oddly enough, that –does- make me feel a little better.”
“Good. So – about that ride to town?”
“Sure. . .except, well, there’s a problem,” she sighed, a faint smile in the corner of her mouth as she looked down at the gravel. “Um. . .my mom and dad. . .they’re big on me not taking rides from strangers.”
Now it was Kyle that found himself laughing unexpectedly. He shook his head, turning his eyes up to the stars overhead. So perfectly white against the blackness of the night. She was sent from the heavens, that much he was sure. Someone to make him forget, just for an hour, that he was in pain.
And she was doing a good job of it, he had to admit. The ache of Liz’s betrayal seemed so far away, standing here laughing with a cute new stranger.
But, there was that ‘stranger’ part she had just spoken of.
“Alright, then,” he held out his hand. “Name’s Kyle. Kyle Valenti.”
“Willow Rosenberg,” she responded with a wide smile, shaking his hand.
Willow laughed as Kyle once again managed to take her mind off of the situation she was in. Speeding down the highway, now only about thirty minutes from Roswell, with someone that was just this side of being a stranger. It was foolish, dangerous. He could have been anyone – a killer, a rapist – but she’d gotten into his shiny red Mustang anyway, after locking up her own dead car, without any of what she would have called ‘reservations’.
No, those had come afterwards, when the thrill of finally being out of the dark and no longer stranded had worn off to let her think about what she’d gotten herself into. It wasn’t that Kyle had done anything to scare her or make her suspicious, in fact it was just the opposite. He was a nice boy. A very nice boy.
And sort of cute, she admitted to herself, turning to look out the passenger’s side window as her face heated up in a blush.
But, despite being seemingly kind and definitely nice on the eyes, he was still a stranger. Buffy would kill her if she ever found out about this. Not really a big ‘if’, Willow reminded herself, considering how she pretty much told the blonde everything that happened to her. In fact, she’d been completely up front and honest with Buffy about this entire week-long road trip of self-examination.
After she’d already left, of course. Telling her before she got out of Sunnydale would have been stupid. If Buffy didn’t stop her, Xander would have. Or maybe Giles. So they’d been in the dark about it right up to the point she crossed the town line, and only then did they find out through a phone call. She needed this time for herself and, now that it was coming to an end, she was happy she’d taken it. Two more days and she’d be back home, refreshed and ready to face whatever came their way, for better or worse.
Although, the way things went in Sunnydale it would almost certainly be ‘for worse’.
“So, you were planning on doing the whole tourist thing tomorrow?”
Willow turned back to her so-far savior, favoring him with a small smile. “Yeah. I know, cheesy.”
“No, of course not.”
He was shaking his head, but she could see the smirk lingering on his lips. It was the kind of infuriating expression that she usually found herself hating. But on him it just looked. . .natural. Not malicious or full of evil intent – just a normal, everyday expression that he happened to indulge in.
“You just feel like that because you live there,” she teased lightly. “You’re probably sick to death of hearing about aliens and abductions. Lights in the sky. Things like that.”
“None of its real, you know.”
Willow shrugged, giving him a small smile. “Fake. Not fake. It’s all a matter of how you look at things. Optimism is a great thing. You really think we’re the only ones in the universe?”
“Well. . . no.”
She couldn’t tell if he was saying that because he believed it or because he believed it was the right thing to say to –her-, but it made her smile nonetheless. She knew for a fact that there was more to life and existence, more mysteries to be explored, than the average person could dream of. There were alternate and concurrent dimensions, places of dreams and nightmares. Life in outer space, somewhere in the darkness that the universe was, hardly seemed that unlikely.
Though why they’d choose their visitation to happen in the middle of the desert, she couldn’t quite fathom.
“I think that, if we’re really alone,” she ventured hesitantly. “That it would be sad. All that space up there. Planets, galaxies. . . If we’re all that there is. . . Why is there so much out there? Why all that room for –more-, if there isn’t anything to fill it?”
He turned, eyes meeting hers; and she saw in them something she hadn’t expected. A sense of quiet contemplation. She blushed, shrugging.
“That’s just what I think though. So. . .um. . .”
“No, no. It sounded. . .good. Believable.”
That just made her blush harder, to the point that she wondered if she could spontaneously combust, right then and there in his car. Not something she wanted to try out by any means. She forced some long, slow breaths through her nose, filling her lungs fully before releasing in a steady stream; until finally the heat faded from her face.
“If you want, I can show you around some tomorrow.”
The offer caught her so by surprise, that for a long minute Willow wondered if she’d heard him right.
“Willow? Sorry, I just thought you might like a tour guide if you want to see the only interesting things in town.”
“Sorry,” she stammered, turning her gaze to him. “I’d love it, really.”
Kyle watched Willow pop the last of her ice cream cone in her mouth, her face alight with the same joy and enthusiasm she had started the day with. Not even the somewhat awkward heat of the day had been able to dampen the excitement she got out of just. . .living.
She was pretty amazing like that, something he’d found out both in the ride into town last night and during their time today. The type of girl he wouldn’t mind getting to know better. He’d been surprised only to find out that she was older than him by a full year. A junior in high school, whereas he was just a sophomore. Maybe it was her shy demeanor, but he just had automatically assumed she was the same age as he was. Not that it mattered.
It was a shame she didn’t live nearby.
“You sure you can’t stay one more day? There’s some stuff we didn’t get around to seeing today –“
She shook her head, smiling sadly. “I wish I could. But. . .if I don’t get back soon Buffy and Xander will call out the troops to haul me kicking and screaming back to Sunnydale. Just. . .not literally. We don’t have any troops. They’d just come do it themselves.”
He reached out before she could pick up full rambling steam, placing a finger over her lips.
And he did, even if it made him sad. Just being with her had brought him to a new perspective. The way she viewed everything through new eyes, seemingly grateful for every little thing life had to offer.
“Look, Kyle,” she caught his eyes, her forehead wrinkling with an emotion he couldn’t name. “I’m going to suggest something and, if it sounds stupid, just feel free to ignore it. But, here goes – Do you want to stay in touch? Emails. . or letters. . . I can give you my cell number. . . If you don’t, its totally cool. I –“
“I’d love to.”
She paused, mouth already open to offer another apparent apology for a suggestion she seemed to think would be immediately rebuffed.
“Yeah, why not.”
The smile that lit up her face made him think for one second of Liz and the way she could brighten any room just with the power of her smile. He tensed, expecting to feel the inevitable wave of pain that came with thinking of Liz, only to find that it wasn’t there. Somewhere in between having fun and forgetting his pain. . .he had forgotten his pain. She hadn’t been the love of his life, after all. Just a good friend that he would have liked to have had more with.
Maybe one day he’d try the friendship thing again. But right now he wasn’t going to push it. Not when it felt too good not to still hurt.
And, in the meantime, there was always this new friendship to explore.
Next Installment Coming Soon: Sooner or Later