A Different Kind of Alone
* * *
Jenny helped Maria pull her suitcase out of the Jetta. “Jeez, Maria. What do you have in this thing? We’re only staying the night, not the week.” Jenny and Maria managed to get the suitcase to the door of the Evans house.
“I realize that, Jenny. But Isabel said, ‘Girls’ night.’ She didn’t tell us where we were going or what we were doing. So I have to be prepared for anything. I mean, you wouldn’t want me to show up at a party wearing the same clothes I would wear to a club, would you?”
“Never.” Jenny said in mock horror. She rang the doorbell and Isabel and Liz answered a few seconds later.
“Brought enough stuff?” Isabel asked.
“Of all the people in the world, I would think that you would understand the need to be fashionable at all occasions.”
“I look good, no matter what I wear.” Isabel flashed a quick smile while she helped Maria bring her suitcase upstairs into her room. “And when I said, ‘girls’ night’, I didn’t mean that we were going out. I meant we could just hang out here together. You know, doing girl stuff.”
“Girl stuff?” Jenny asked warily.
Isabel laughed. “Yeah, you know-facials, manicures, chick flicks...”
“Sounds like lots of fun.” Jenny said sarcastically.
“Hey, don’t knock it until you try it.”
“Try what?” Max said from the doorway. He saw Liz and started forward to give her a kiss, but Isabel stopped him.
“No, no, no. I don’t think so. This is girls’ night only. So shoo. Go over to Michael’s or something.” Isabel shut the door on a frowning Max. “So what should we do first?”
The girls looked at each other and said in unison, “Let’s eat!”
Isabel went downstairs and ordered a pizza. The four spent the next few hours eating pizza and watching movies. After finishing off their bowls of ice cream, Isabel led them upstairs into her room.
“Now for the best part of the evening,” Isabel said while shutting the door behind her, “Makeovers!”
Jenny started backing away from the other girls when she saw the devilish smiles on their faces. “What? Oh no no no. I didn’t sign up for any makeover.”
“Aw. Pretty please. It’ll be fun. I promise.” Maria persuaded.
“Well, I guess...” Isabel grabbed Jenny by the arm and led her over to a chair before she could change her mind.
“Great.” Isabel said before pulling out a large amount of make up and beauty products that made Jenny’s eyes bulge. “Where should we start?”
“I’ll do her hair. Liz, you can do her nails and Isabel, you can do her makeup.” Maria delegated.
Liz sorted through Isabel’s makeup, looking for the perfect shade of nail polish. “So are you excited about your date with Kyle?”
“I guess. Ow!” She exclaimed when Maria pulled on her hair.
“Anyway, I guess I am.” Jenny continued. “I mean, how am I supposed to feel?”
“Well, it’s not rocket science.” Liz said as she finally settled on a pale blue. “How do you feel when you’re around him? Do you get butterflies in your stomach just looking at him? Like every time you look at him you can’t imagine life without him. Or how about you get this feeling like your heart is over filling with-”
“Yeesh, Liz. She just met him.”
Liz blushed. “I guess I was just thinking about Max.”
“Oh brother. Looks like we’re going to need more girls’ nights.” Isabel said.
Liz laughed. “So how do you feel about Kyle? You seemed pretty excited at the Crashdown.”
“I don’t really know. He’s a nice guy and all, but I just met him.” She stared at the goop Isabel was holding in her hand. “I suppose I am excited about Sunday. It seems like everyday I’m trying new things. Everything is happening so fast.”
“So no wedding bells going off in your head yet?” Maria teased. “I know Liz already has her and Max’s wedding all planned out.”
“I do not!” Liz protested. “Okay, well...maybe I have thought about it once or twice.”
“How does Liz spell obsessed?”
Liz threw a pillow at Maria good-naturedly. “Oh, come on. Like you’ve never envisioned Michael in a tux before.”
Isabel thew Maria an amused look. “Never? Not even in your dreams?”
Now it was Maria’s turn to blush. “That’s not fair. You have an advantage over us-we can’t see what’s going on in your little head.”
“You don’t have to, because I don’t have to deny anything.” She waved her hand over Jenny’s mouth, switching lipstick colors. “While I admit that Alex and I have gotten closer, marriage hasn’t crossed my mind yet.”
“Yet?” Maria asked, raising her eyebrows.
“So back to Jenny,” Isabel said, hoping to change the subject. “Max filled me in on what happened at the Crashdown. Why did Michael flip out?”
“Max thinks that Michael has slipped into his brotherly role a little too well.” Liz stated.
“What’s it like living with Michael?” Maria twisted Jenny’s hair into a bun, but then let it down, changing her mind.
“Confusing, just like Michael.”
“That’s the understatement of the year,” Isabel mumbled under her breath.
“I heard that. But it’s true.” Jenny said. “Has he always had so many ups and downs?”
“Ups and downs?”
“Yeah. Like some days we’ll spend the entire day talking about different things. You know, like our home planet, why we’re here, Hank, and so on.”
“He talks to you about Hank?” Isabel asked astounded.
“Sure, why not? Doesn’t he talk to you guys about him?” She looked around the room but nobody answered her. “Anyway, one time we spent the entire night just talking about going home.” Jenny’s eyes lit up at the memory. “It was great. It’s strange though, the way that we just clicked. Like the first night, when Max came back, and all I wanted to do was go home. And after I ran out he came out after me to stop me. And something in his voice told me that I should stay, that I was safe here.” She trailed off in a dreamy tone.
Liz and Maria exchanged strange looks.
“Oops, now I’m getting off subject. Back to that one night-that was an up. But then the next morning he was completely different. A total low. We were eating breakfast and-now I remember-I started talking about you, Maria, and he practically blew up at me. Then he stormed out of the kitchen. Has he always been like that?”
“He blew up at you when you brought up me?” Maria asked softly.
Jenny gave her a small smile. “Yeah, but I don’t think it had anything to do with you. I think I just got too close. You know, treading on dangerous ground. Everything’s fine until we get too close, then he spazzes out, saying things are too intense or some nonsense. It’s like once he realizes that he let his guard down for a minute to let me in he freaks out.”
“Well, that’s Michael for you. He’s always been like that.” Isabel said. She motioned for Jenny to close her eyes.
Liz, now finished with Jenny’s nails, turned to her own. “How do you feel around Michael?” she asked slowly.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, how do you feel when he’s around?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess happy.” Jenny smiled. “It’s like you said before, with the butterflies in your stomach. You never know what to expect from Michael. I think that’s what I like the most about him. Spontaneous, we’re always arguing...” Isabel paused and looked at Maria and Liz. Jenny opened her eyes. “Am I done? Finally.” She grabbed Isabel’s hand and led her towards the bathroom. “Let’s go check out the damage.”
Liz looked over at Maria. “Was I the only one who noticed that-”
“No. I think it was fairly obvious that Jenny likes Michael a lot more than as a brother.”
“Now Maria, we don’t know for sure that-” Maria threw her a look. “Okay, so maybe. But still, that doesn’t mean that Michael feels the same way. Besides, we may know it, but that doesn’t mean that she realizes it.”
“Liz, how could she not realize it?”
“I don’t know. But Max said that when he met her that she didn’t understand a lot of simple things, simply because she wasn’t exposed to them. I mean, you saw how hard it was for Isabel to explain to her why there were ‘popular’ people at our school.”
Maria managed a small smile. “I have to admit, that was a pretty entertaining explanation. I guess you could be right.”
Liz returned the smile. “Besides, Jenny’s our friend. And she knows how much you love Michael. She’s not like Tess, she’s not going to try to force herself onto him.”
Maria frowned at the ‘T’ word. “But what if she uses her alien-Jeanie powers to make him like her? Like with Tess.”
“You’re overreacting. Jenny would never do that.”
“I would never do what?” Jenny said, appearing in the doorframe.
“You would never wash off your makeup after Isabel worked so long on it.” Liz shot Maria a look. “Right, Maria?” Maria nodded her head quickly.
“Oh, okay. So now that I’m done-who’s next?”
“Will you stop it already, Maxwell? That’s not why I think Jenny shouldn’t go out with Kyle.”
“Alright, but you’re in denial.” Max held up his hands in surrender. He was over at Michael’s apartment while the girls had their night over at his house.
“Yeah, whatever.” Michael grabbed his soda and sat down on the couch. He turned the t.v. on and started flipping channels.
After several minutes of channel surfing, Max had had enough. He grabbed the remote out of Michael’s hand. “Do you always do this?”
Michael grabbed the remote back. “Hey, it’s my apartment. And no, I normally don’t do this. Besides, I thought you’d be happy that we’re doing nothing. You know, since you’re so content with your little life here, I’d think you’d be glad we weren’t running from the government.”
“What’s your problem?”
Michael stared at him for a minute before deciding on what to say. “You wouldn’t understand.” He turned back to the television.
Michael sighed. “It’s Jenny.”
“Jenny?” asked a perplexed Max.
“Yeah...she’s bothering me.”
“She’s bothering you?” Max tried to stifle a laugh.
“I knew you wouldn’t understand.” Michael glared at him. “But yes, she’s bothering me.”
“How? What’s she doing to you?”
“Nothing. Or something. I don’t know I can’t explain. She gets all weird and asks me to explain stupid things to her. Like love. How the hell am I supposed to explain something like love to her?”
“I told you she didn’t understand things. She was isolated in that stupid complex from society. You can’t expect her to know stuff like that.”
“Yeah, but didn’t she have a t.v. or something in there? She’s a girl; she had to be watching some girly program.”
Max laughed. “You would think. But no, I think that her television was permanently set on ESPN. Okay, other than the stupid questions, how is she bothering you?”
“With this whole date thing. I mean, why does she have to go out with Kyle? What’s so great about him?”
“I don’t think that has anything to do with-” The shrill ring of Michael’s phone interrupted Max.
“What?” Michael answered after he picked up the receiver.
“Sorry, wrong number,” a voice replied.
Michael turned to hang up the phone, but stopped himself. “Valenti?” he asked shocked. Max snapped his eyes up at the name.
An equally shocked voice replied, “Guerin?”
“Isabel?” Diane asked as she peeked in on the girls who had set up their sleeping bags in her daughter’s room.
“Do you know where your brother is?”
“Oh yeah, he’s over at Michael’s. I sent him away because he was spoiling our ‘Girls Only’ night.”
“Okay, thanks. You girls have a nice night.” Diane closed the door.
“Night, Mom.” Isabel called after her.
“Guerin?” Kyle asked, equally astounded. ‘What the heck is going on?’ He had decided to call Jenny to talk about Sunday, but instead Michael Guerin had answered. He figured he must have dialed the wrong number or transposed some.
“Yeah, what do you want?”
Michael’s comment immediately put Kyle on the defense. “Nothing from you. I was trying to call Jenny, but-”
“She’s not here.”
“Oh.” Kyle paused. He hadn’t been expecting that. But he guessed it made sense; it would explain why the seven were so close. Then again, why was Jenny staying with Michael? Were they related? He brushed off the thought at first, but then he remembered Jenny’s mannerisms back at the restaurant. Maybe they were related. But still, he couldn’t imagine a girl as nice as Jenny being related to the likes of Guerin. “Well, can you tell her to call me back?”
“What?” Well, that certainly cleared things up. No way was Jenny related to Guerin.
He heard Michael sigh and talk slowly, as if he was explaining things to a two-year old. “No. I’m not going to tell her to call you back.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because there’s no point in talking to you. She’s not going to go out with you now or ever. So stay away from her and stop calling here.” Before Kyle could reply, Michael hung up the phone.
Kyle swore and then redialed the number. After the first ring, Michael picked up.
“Look, I don’t know what you’re problem is, but I don’t think it’s up to you to decide who Jenny goes out with. If she doesn’t want to go out with me, that’s fine. But I expect her to tell me herself.” And before Michael could say anything, Kyle hung up the phone.
“Who was that?” Max asked after Michael slammed down the phone. He could tell by the anger sketched in Michael’s jaw that it wasn’t good.
“Kyle,” he grunted.
“What did he want?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Max sighed as he saw Michael pick up the remote control and flip channels. He could tell that it was going to be a very silent night. He decided to head home. Hopefully, Isabel wouldn’t be up and Liz would.
“Are you sure your mom is cool with this, Maria? I don’t want to overstay my welcome.”
Maria and Jenny had just returned back to Maria’s house Sunday morning. “Yeah, it’s no problem.”
“Thanks so much. I don’t know what I would have done if I would have had to stay with Michael.”
“Sure.” Maria smiled. “Anytime you need to get away from him, come on over. I know he can be stubborn as hell.”
“I know. It’s one of his best and worst qualities depending on what he’s being stubborn about.”
Maria began hanging up her clothes back in her closet when she heard a knock at the window. She turned around and saw Michael standing rather sheepishly by her window. It reminded her of that rainy night that she had spent with him. A tingly sensation ran down her spine just thinking about it. As much as she knew she was supposed to be angry with Michael, she couldn’t help but melt at the slightest look from him.
She smiled and raised the window so he could step inside. “Hi.”
“Hi,” he grunted. Maria frowned; she hated when Michael was like this. He always seemed to shut down and pull away whenever they got too close. She was sick of it. Why couldn’t he just get over himself and his stupid commitment problems? “I need to talk to Jenny.”
Maria rolled her eyes. ‘Figures,’ she thought, ‘ He comes into my house and instead of just asking to talk to Jenny like any normal person, he practically orders me around.’