19 – The After Party

Liz locked the door of the Crashdown at midnight, happy to see the last guest go. Her father agreed to shut down the restaurant for the night and host the party for the grads, but she'd also talked him into allowing her to have a more private party after midnight with just those she and Maria invited.

Liz watched Maria begin pulling the blinds on all the windows while she went to the back door to let in the rest of their guests.

"The coast is clear," she said with a grin as she let in Oliver and his crew.

Clark and Chloe entered as well with Chloe pausing to give Liz a hug. "Congratulations on graduating and thanks for having us all over for this. We don't typically get to have post mission parties."

"So," Bart interrupted, "who's manning the grill?"

"Bart," Oliver chastised.

Liz just laughed. "That would be Michael. Through those swinging doors."

Bart sprinted through the doors before she could finish pointing in the correct direction.

"The rest of us are through here." She turned and led the way into the diner.

"They had to call Evan's name like three times," Kyle said with a laugh, popping a cold French fry into his mouth. Michael, with some distracting help from Bart had cooked up a late night snack of burgers and fries for everyone.

"We shouldn't have given the four of you comms," Victor commented. "Was probably pretty distracting."

"It would've been harder not knowing what was happening." Max pushed his plate away and leaned his elbows on the counter.

"So how will we know if it worked?" Maria asked, handing a chocolate milk shake to Isabel.

"The fact that the base is no longer government property will be helpful. That should raise…" Oliver hesitated in his explanation, momentarily distracted while watching Isabel add a healthy dose of Tabasco sauce to her shake.

"I think they do that just so we'll get our own," Jesse volunteered when he noticed Oliver's stare.

"Yeah? Well that would do it, wouldn't it," Oliver agreed with a chuckle.

"Imagine my surprise the first time I snuck a sip of her chocolate shake." Jesse finished his comment with a scowl, but Oliver had to grin not only at the thought, but at Isabel trying to hold in her own laughter at the memory.

A light rap on the front door sent a hush over the room. Liz walked to the door and peeked through the blinds before throwing the dead bolt and opening the door. "Deputy Valenti," she greeted with a smile, surprising the man with a quick hug before she locked the door again.

"I don't want to dampen you kids' party," he started once he'd arrived at the counter, "so I won't stay long. Just thought ya'll would be anxious for an update."

"You are seriously not a party crasher, Deputy Valenti," Chloe reassured, looking around the room for agreement from the others.

"Definitely not, Sir." AC agreed. "That specialty is all Bart's."

"Hey," Bart yelled, offended.

"So what is the update, Sir." Oliver wanted to distract the guys from the verbal battle that always ensued.

"Well, planting the anti-UFO propaganda was brilliant." Valenti gave Chloe a nod of approval. "Making Bryce McCain the object of their paranoia really sold the idea too."

"Sorry you won't get to interview him now," Clark quietly said, rubbing Chloe's shoulder for a moment in sympathy.

"Yeah, I bet he didn't slow down until he hit the Arizona border," Maria couldn't help adding with a chuckle.

"Losing that interview was more than worth it," Chloe smiled at her friends in reassurance. "There will always be another story. Besides, it was a lot more fun finding you all."

"I know I'll never forget seeing Clark in Roswell, New Mexico," AC said with a grin. "Highlight of my trip."

"Yep, and not many people actually get to meet aliens when they come to Roswell," Victor agreed with a chuckle, earning a glare from Michael.

"Well, if anyone was going to find actual aliens in Roswell," Oliver added, "it would definitely be our Chloe."

AC couldn't help but chime in again. "Well she did kind of stack the deck by bringing Clark with her."

Clark rolled his eyes at AC knowing the man wasn't going to let it go any time soon. Before he could utter a protest, Oliver intervened.

"So, just what are you all's plans now that you've graduated and aren't going to die this week," the blond leader asked.

"Here we go," Chloe said in a low, but audible voice.

"What?" Oliver asked in an offended tone.

"Why beat around the bush, Arrow?" Chloe chided. "Might as well start with the hard sell and get it over with."

"I am actually interested in their future plans." Oliver gave Chloe a wink before looking back at the Roswellians expectantly.

Isabel gave a slight nod to Jesse and got a small one in answer. She figured this was as good a time as any to let Max and the others know their plans. "Jesse got offered a job in Boston." Her eyes lingered on those she loved. What had occurred in the last week had been unnerving, but also freeing. She knew they'd all be okay. There were others they could turn to when times got rough. Her gaze shifted solely to Max, "We will be moving there in the next couple of days."

Max stood and took the few steps to his sister. "I'm glad, Isabel. You deserve to be happy."

She stood and hugged him, not wanting to let go, but it was time to do just that. They were no longer kids, if they ever actually had been.

Max turned to Jesse, hand outstretched to shake his brother-in-law's hand in congratulations. Jesse ignored his hand and hugged the younger man.

Max awkwardly returned the hug, a few pats to Jesse's back before pulling back. "Take care of her."

"Plan to."

Max gave him a nod before turning to Liz and holding out his hand.

Liz moved to his side and placed her hand in his. "I've been accepted to Northwestern," she quietly announced.

"And I'm going to go with her," Max added, looking adoringly down at Liz. He found he was actually looking forward to leaving Roswell and starting fresh somewhere else.

Maria looked at Michael, but couldn't tell what he was thinking. She wanted to be where ever her Spaceboy was, but she also wanted him to want her at his side. So for the moment she kept quiet, hoping to not have to speak yet and was relieved when Kyle spoke up.

"Well, I'm guessing community college and working at the shop for the foreseeable future." Kyle took a deep breath and started to look away, but his gaze was snagged by his father's look. "No. We've already been over this, Dad. The police force is your dream, not mine."

His dad gave him a nod and let it go. His son did need to forge his own future; it was just hard not to help.

"Is your heart set on the local community college," Oliver interrupted, breaking the tension.

Kyle gave a cynical laugh, "I wouldn't say my heart is, more like my wallet is."

"So, if I offered to pay for your college education, would you commit to working for me during college?" Oliver asked, tipping his head to the side slightly while he awaited Kyle's reply.

"You want me to work for you?"

"I could use a man with your talents on my team," Oliver affirmed. "I can't say it won't be dangerous though. You would definitely be earning that education and pay."

Kyle looked at Oliver a little bit dumbfounded. He'd never thought his future could lead him out of Roswell. He looked over at his father. Could he leave him behind, alone?

Oliver looked over at Michael, giving Kyle a moment to soak in his offer. "I'm hoping you will agree to come and work for me at least. You'll have to finish your high school education, but that shouldn't be a problem."

Michael couldn't breathe for a moment. The chance to use his powers and be a part of something nearly overwhelmed his ability to think. He looked over at Maria, wanting her to share this profound moment, but when he saw her face all he saw was fear and it took him only a moment to realize why.

"I won't go anywhere without Maria," he queried, trying not to show how hopeful he felt.

Oliver looked around the room and grinned. "Actually, my goal would be to recruit all of you. And by all of you I'm including Clark and Chloe."

Clark just rolled his eyes. This was almost a running joke at this point. Oliver tried to recruit him every time they saw each other.

"I have no powers though," Maria felt compelled to remind the blond leader, slipping her arm around Michael's middle while he stretched his arm across her shoulders.

"Neither do I," he reminded them. "There are research and hacking skills needed, other skills we can teach you. If none of those things interest you, I do own a corporation and I'm sure I can find a place for you there."

"Then we're in." Michael nodded at the archer and then at Max.

Max gave his brother a nod before looking at Liz. He held her gaze for a moment before looking back at Oliver. "I think we are going to still go to Northwestern, but if you find any missions you need us for, we'll be there."

"The same for us," Isabel spoke up. "We want to start fresh in Boston, but you'll know where to find us."

"Deputy?" Oliver asked turning to the father and son.

"I'm a little worried about what kind of gifts I might develop, if any, but I'm happy being a police officer here in Roswell."

"Well, if you ever want to move to the big city, I'd love to have someone at the local police station that is on our side." Oliver looked over at Kyle, "What about you?"

Before Kyle could answer, his father piped in, "I want you to go." The older man quietly pushed his son. "Get your education. I want you to have more opportunities than you'd have if you stayed here in Roswell."

Kyle hated feeling like he was leaving his dad behind, but before he could voice this out loud, his dad gave him a nod of assurance. Kyle knew that in his dad's mind, it was a done deal and arguing with him would be futile. He walked up to his father and gave him a hug. Thank you.

The older Valenti pulled back from the hug and grinned at his son. "I wouldn't mind that gift if I absolutely can't avoid them all together." He cupped the back of his son's head and pulled him back in for another quick hug.

After he released his son he looked around the room at the large group gathered and started to feel emotions overwhelming him. This group gave him so much hope where Kyle was concerned. Just a few days ago he'd been so worried about Kyle, his future and his small group of friends and now Jim felt as if that future was wide open and an adventure he could almost envy.

Kyle followed Chloe and Clark out the back door of the Crashdown. It was almost two in the morning and he had to work in just a few hours, but he still felt keyed up. Could be residual adrenaline from the graduation ceremony and the whole escaping death thing, but he was sure it was actually because of the girl at his side.

"So... you two are set on leaving in the morning?" Kyle paused in his walking to hear their answer, but also to slow down their progress toward the hotel. Each step was bringing them closer to saying goodbye to Chloe.

"Well, with no interviewee, there isn't a reason to stay here any longer," Chloe gestured toward Clark, "he needs to get back to the farm too."

"Can't afford to hire help and eventually someone is going to wonder who is tending to the chores in my absence." Clark shrugged a little before starting to walk again.

As they exited the alley, Kyle mentally cursed the fact he'd been able to park so close to the Crashdown. His truck was just a few feet away and their hotel just a half block to the left. Things were coming to an end much too quickly.

Chloe's hand on his arm halted them in front of his truck. "I'll catch up with you at the hotel in a few minutes, Clark?" Although it sounded like a request, even Kyle knew it wasn't.

"Okay," Clark agreed and turned toward Kyle. "Sounds like I'll see you around?"

"If Oliver gets his way," Kyle chuckled, "although Michael can be a bit of a loose cannon, so he may live to regret inviting us along."

"You'll walk her back?" Clark asked, starting to move away from the couple.

"Sure thing," he agreed with a smile, ignoring the slight huff from the girl they were talking about.

"You know, I can take care of myself," Chloe started as they began the walk to the hotel.

"So I've heard," Kyle chuckled, "but it sounds as if it usually involves a few close calls along the way."

"I like to call them adventures," she retorted with a smirk.

They walked in silence for a while, both lost in their own thoughts. Kyle reached for Chloe's hand as they neared the hotel, slowing her steps just outside the entrance to the building.

"So...," Kyle began turning to face Chloe.

"Yep," she agreed, already knowing they were on the same page. Saying goodbye always sucked. "You are going to take Oliver up on his offer, right?"

"There's nothing for me here other than my father," he nodded. "Are you going to take Oliver up on his offer?"

"Well, where would the fun in that be?" Chloe laughed. "I do help out when I can though."

Kyle found that words really weren't coming to him, so he leaned in the short distance between them and captured her lips. His hands sought out her face, cupping her jaw as he moved even closer.

Chloe welcomed Kyle's invasion of her space, wrapping her arms around him and holding on. It'd been a long time since she'd been as happy as she was at this moment.

Kyle slowly eased out of the kiss, mindful of their surroundings. Too bad Clark's up in her room.

Chloe laughed out loud, causing Kyle to immediately drop his hands from her face, but she only found that even more comical.

"I have got to work on that," he grumbled under his breath while looking everywhere but at Chloe.

"I kind of like it," she said with a smirk.

"That's because they aren't your thoughts being heard."

Chloe nodded her head, "Yep." Kyle still seemed a bit embarrassed by his slip, so Chloe moved closer to Kyle, sliding her arms around his neck, gaining his full attention. "I will miss you, but I'll see you soon. Right?"

Kyle slid his arms around her too. "Definitely." He gave her one more lingering kiss before stepping away from her. "I better get going."

"Me too."

"No 'adventures' without me." Kyle began walking backward away from Chloe.

"Wouldn't dream of it." Chloe gave him a small wave before turning and walking into the hotel.

Kyle watched until she was all the way in the hotel before turning and jogging back toward the Crashdown and his truck. He wasn't excited about having to work tomorrow morning, but he was already composing his resignation letter in his head. His life had taken such a turn in the last couple of days and he was just realizing how drastic the change was going to be. He was actually looking forward to his future.

The End

A/N: Thank you for reading this story. :)