A/N: I know, it's been a stupidly long time since my last update. I'm really sorry about that, and I'm not gonna bore you guys with excuses (that's if there are any of you left). I've planned out the next few chapters in detail, and know where I'm going again, so it's just a matter of trying to find the time to write everything. I will be finishing the story, it just may end up taking me a while. I'm really sorry. Hope you enjoy the long overdue chapter, and aren't too dissapointed with me for being so bad at updating.

A couple of days after I'd chucked water balloons at Connor and Drew; I was lying on the couch in the living room with a book. I wasn't worried about retaliation, after all, they deserved it, and everyone in this flipping house knew that if I was made a target, I sure as hell wouldn't let them get away with it.

I was lying with my feet propped over the back of the couch and my head falling over the seat, so I was reading upside down. The blood was rushing to my head a little, so I was gonna have to get up soon. I did so anyway though, when Dame came flying into the room.

I barely managed to sit up before he pounced me.

"Meg! There you are," he said, like it was particularly hard to find me. I 'oofed' and he wiggled and sat up, making himself comfortable sitting on my stomach. The position was not comfortable.

"Since when did I stop being Megan and become chair?" I asked irritably. I mean come on! The guy was pure muscle, he was heavy.

"Since I decided you look more comfy than the chair," he declared. I struggled a little, but the pure immovable muscle sitting on me was…well, immovable. So, I gave up with a huff and flopped back down. I tilted my head to see him watching my scuffles with great amusement.

"What do you want?" I glared.

"We're all going to Echo," he said, talking about the club we'd gone too a while ago. His voice was annoyingly cheerful and he was completely unfazed by my threatening glares and attempts to portray that I wanted him to get the hell off me. "Wondered if you wanted to join us?"

It did not take me long to come up with an answer.

"No thanks, I'm not a club person," I said, smiling a little, and he shrugged, his mood not dampened by my refusal.

"Okie dokie, see you when we get back then," he said cheerfully, bouncing off of me (and causing me to grunt in pain), and skipping out of the room.

I wonder at times about that boy's sexuality, I really do.

I continued reading after he'd left, shouting out a goodbye when they all started leaving. I also gave them permission to use my truck, because so many of them were going.

I got up after a while, tossing my book on the floor and padding down to the basement. I'd been meaning to do some painting for a while, and figured now was as good a time as any. I pulled my hair up in a scruffy bun on my way down the stairs to the basement, and then grabbed an old, baggy shirt from my wardrobe to work in, pulling it over my head.

I'd been down there for about an hour and a half, and was completely involved in what I was doing, so pretty oblivious to the outside world. That was why, when the door to the basement abruptly opened, I jumped out of my skin.

And maybe…yelped a little.

Shut up.

I looked up and saw a very amused looking Alex coming down the stairs. I ignored the fact the he was laughing at me, and instead frowned in confusion.

"What are you doing here? I thought everyone went to Echo."

He shrugged. "Opted out, I had a paper to write for class anyway," he said, walking towards me. "I just finished it so thought I'd come and harass you for a while," he continued with a smirk. He moved around me so that he was standing behind me and inspected my progressing painting. The low whistle issued from his mouth told me he was impressed. I rubbed my arm uncomfortably. There wasn't even anything impressive about it. It was a fantasy landscape, but barely any detail had been added yet, because I hadn't gotten around to it.

"Who taught you this stuff?" he asked me.

I shrugged. "I taught myself." I turned my head and saw his incredulous expression. "I mean, I knew how to draw before I started taking art classes because I liked to do it when I was little, and then I decided to try painting one day and just worked it out by myself. It's just a matter of working logically and having patience," I finished.

"I think talent is required too," he said dryly, "which is probably why you're disturbingly good and I will never become an artistic genius."

I laughed a little, and his eyes flickered away from mine for a second.

"You have paint on your nose," he told me with an amused smile. I rubbed it with my fingers, and he laughed when I pulled my hand away.

"I made it worse, didn't I?" I asked, already knowing the answer. I always managed to get paint somewhere that wasn't on the canvas.

"Yeah, a little."

I shrugged and just decided to leave it. "I'll get it later," I told him, placing my paint brush down on the surface next to me and wiping my hands on my shirt.

He nodded and smiled. "You look cute when you're messy anyway."

At that annoying comment, I lifted my shirt and used a clean section of it to wipe the paint off my nose. Alex laughed again and rolled his eyes, moving away from me and heading for the stairs.

"Want something to eat?"

"Yeah," I replied immediately, "but I don't want to cook. Can we order out?"

"Yeah sure, as long as we don't get pizza, I think I've eaten enough of the stuff to last me a while since we've been living here. I laughed and nodded in agreement. Dame is a tad obsessed with pizza.

I followed Alex up the stairs, pulling off my oversized shirt on the way, leaving me in a tank top. As we walked into the kitchen, he started rifling through the drawers. After a few minutes, he pulled out a menu.

"Chinese ok?" he asked, and I nodded. I pulled the menu out of his hands as he grabbed for the phone and studied the food listed.

"Erm…I'll have some sweet and sour chicken balls and a chow mein," I told him, and he nodded. He took the menu back from me and ordered what I wanted, as well as getting a chicken chow mein and some prawn crackers for himself. As he was doing so, I contemplated the kitchen table for a few moments, and then decided on a whim to climb on top of it instead of sit on a chair.

I was just crossing my legs and getting comfortable on the table when Alex hung up the phone and turned around. He burst out laughing when he saw me.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Acting on a random urge," I told him calmly, and he laughed again, shrugged and then climbed onto the table himself, seating himself opposite me and crossing his legs as well.

He looked up at me, grey eyes sparkling with good humour and asked, "Any other random urges for today?"

"Nope," I replied cheerfully, "just that one. Well, so far, the night's still young."

He grinned and looked down at the table briefly, tracing the whirls in the wood with his fingers before looking up again.

"So, how come you decided to stay home while everyone else went to get piss drunk and dance around like idiots?" he asked.

"Well, I'm not one to get drunk unless I know I won't be able to kill myself or anyone else in the process, and I'm not really in the mood for idiot dancing tonight. I think we exhausted that particular style last time we went to that club," I said, and he laughed, remembering the pair of us sporadically jigging our way around the club. Chicken dance and everything.

"Besides, I haven't done much painting in a while and I miss it," I told him.

"How come?" he asked curiously.

"I don't get much time anymore. I used to sell them a lot, especially when I need money, but that was before I moved here. I haven't found a place that's been willing to take any of my work yet."

He looked a little incredulous at that. "Are you serious? Are they blind?" he asked, and I blushed, looking down at the surface of the table.

"Not everyone has the same tastes," I mumbled uncomfortably, wishing he would drop the whole 'praise Meg's artwork' kick he was on. I oh so hate praise, it's so hard to respond too.

Thankfully he seemed to catch on, because he said no more on the subject, instead opting to talk about something else.

So, no drinking and dancing for us tonight," he said cheerfully, and I shook my head.

"Nope, especially since the last time we went drinking and dancing it ended up with mystery kissing," I said, and he winced a little. He rubbed a hand through his hair.

"Um, yeah. I'm really sorry about that, I just-" he began, but I cut him off impatiently with a wave of my hand.

"It's ok. Maybe I over reacted a little. Just don't do it again," I told him, and he nodded, grinning, grey eyes sparkling.

"Not without you knowing it's me," he told me, repeating my statement from a while ago, when I'd told him how I felt about his kiss in the dark. Once again it made me a little wary, because that generally gave him permission to kiss me whenever I knew it was him, which would basically be any time it wasn't pitch black or I wasn't unconscious. Still, I decided not to correct him. He'd be annoying about it, I just knew it.

I rolled my eyes at him and he laughed a little. We talked for a little while as we waited for the food to arrive. He asked me how my day was so I told him how tedious it had been. He said his had been pretty much the same, and then he'd remembered the stupid paper he had to write and thought he'd better get started on it at some point, so did it tonight.

After he said so, he looked at me in contemplation for a few seconds.

"Meg, will you do something for me?" he asked.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked reluctantly. His eyes flickered to the messy bun I had pulled my hair into.

"Will you take your hair down for me?"

After a few seconds of silence, I hesitantly slid my hands upwards and began to pull the band out of my hair. The dark locks tumbled down as Alex watched, and I blushed furiously under his gaze, thinking that I should have just said no.

Fortunately, the awkwardness of the moment for me was interrupted by the door bell, and I realized our food was here. I hopped off the table, pulling some money out of my back pocket, only to be stopped by Alex. He shifted on the table and pulled some notes out of his pocket, handing them to me and saying, "You're not paying for all of it."

I shrugged and took the money with a smile, walking to the door. I paid quickly, thanking the delivery man, and walked back into the kitchen with my arms full of Chinese food. I put everything down in the centre of the table and while Alex picked up some chopsticks and started opening the cartons, I grabbed a fork from one of the kitchen drawers.

As I settled back on the table, he asked, "Can't use chopsticks?"

I laughed. "I'm a complete disaster. I've nearly taken my eye out more than once with those things."

He grinned and I looked down at what I'd ordered. I picked up the cup of sweet and sour sauce that had come with my chicken, and without a second thought, chucked it into the bin, which was only a little way away from the table. Then, I opened up the carton with the chicken in, put all the chicken in with my noodles, and mixed it all in. When I looked up again, Alex was looking at me with a kind of bemused expression. He didn't seem weirded out by my eating habits, and I saw why a few seconds later.

I watched as he picked out the mushrooms from his chow mein, placing them to one side, and then crushed the prawn crackers into the noodles and mixed it all up. I gaped at him.

"I'm seriously not the only one with questionable eating habits when it comes to food like this?" I asked.

"Apparently not. You're the only other person I know that does this," he said, sounding kind of amazed, and I started laughing.

"So you don't like mushrooms, and compensate by crushing in crackers?" I asked, and he grinned, nodding his head.

"And I take it you like the chicken but don't like the sauce it comes with?" he asked, and I nodded in confirmation, laughing at how odd we were. I looked down and stabbed my fork into the noodles, twirling them around the utensil and then bringing it to my mouth.

Alex picked up some chopsticks and asked, "So, any other weird eating habits?"

"Of course. Erm…I love fresh strawberries, but I hate anything with an artificial strawberry flavour," I said, it being the first odd thing I could think off.

"I hate coffee, but I love coffee ice cream," he told me. I smiled.

"I don't like coffee either. It leaves the most disgusting aftertaste," I said, scrunching up my nose in distaste. "But it smells so yummy," I said with a sigh. "Stupid deceptive coffee beans."

He laughed at that.

"Anything else?" he asked, referring to his earlier weird habit question.

"Um…oh yeah. I love the taste of Coca Cola, but I hate the fizz, so if I buy a bottle, I shake it and open it, and keep doing it until I've gotten rid of the fizz."

"Are you serious?" he asked with a laugh, and when I nodded, he shook his head. "That's just bizarre."

"I know," I sighed, "no one seems to understand it. They just ask why I even buy it in the first place if all I'm going to do is 'take away the flavour.'" I said the last in a high pitched, whiny voice. "My sister thinks I'm a nutcase."

"When was the last time you spoke to your sister?" he asked, getting up off the table and grabbing two bottles of water from the fridge. I smiled in thanks when he handed one to me. I unscrewed the cap and took a sip before answering.

"I think the last time we spoke was right before I moved here," I said. "I told you we don't get along that well."

"Is it really that bad?" he asked with a frown. I shrugged.

"We used to be close when we were little. We're only three years apart so we stuck together, but we just grew up to be different people. I turned into a social recluse with serious insanity issues and a bit of an attitude and she turned into a Barbie doll, social butterfly and all round popular girl. We just don't mix, so we don't talk much. It's not a big deal," I told him frankly.

"That seems like such a strange concept to me," he admitted.

"I suppose I can understand that," I said. "I mean, it's pretty obvious you're close with Connor, are you like that with your sisters as well?"

"Yeah I guess. I'm not as close with them as I am with Connor, but he's my twin, and we live in the same house, it's a little different. Still, my sisters call the house every week to make sure we're not getting into trouble," he said with a fond smile. I felt a bit of a pang.

"It must be nice," I said quietly.

"Yeah, it is," he replied, and looked at me with a smile curving his mouth, his grey eyes warm.

"They'd love you, you know," he told me.

"What?" I asked, slightly taken aback.

"I said they'd love you. Even if I hadn't told them that you're the girl I'm trying to win over, Connor would have," he said, giving me a silly smile when I started blushing at his frankness.

"What did you tell them about me?" I asked, but as he opened his mouth to tell me, I had a change of heart. "Never mind, I don't want to know," I said quickly, and he laughed.

"What are they like?" I asked instead.

He dug into his carton of food as he answered. "Well, the youngest, Sarah, is fifteen. She's a little shy around new people, but she's deceptively intelligent. She's most of the reason the girls always win our boy/girl wars at home. She's sneaky," he told me, and I laughed, perfectly able to imagine that.

"The next one, Tori, is sixteen. She's really loud, can be a bit insulting when you first meet her because she says what she wants without thinking it through first. She's got bravado. Does things the other two won't. She always takes the blame for things as well. I remember Sarah broke a window with a baseball one year and Tori said she did it because of how scared Sarah was of getting into trouble."

I smiled. His family sounded so cool.

"And the oldest is Emily, whose seventeen. She's kind of…creative I guess. Like you. She's an artist. And she takes care of the other two when Connor and I aren't there."

A sudden question struck me. "Do they all look like you?"

He laughed. "Actually no. Connor and I look like our dad. Emily does as well, dark hair and grey eyes. Tori's kind of a mix of both my parents. She's got dark hair, but her eyes are blue grey. And Sarah is the spitting image of my mom. Jet black hair like yours, and light blue eyes."

"So it's pretty obvious you're related then?" I asked, and he laughed.

"Yeah, you could say that." He looked at me for a second. "What about your sister, does she look like you?"

"She's like a mini me," I said, scrunching my nose up in annoyance. "The only difference is she has her hair short enough to touch the tops of her shoulder, her eyes are a little lighter green than mine, and she's shorter than me. But she's still growing, so that could change."

"How tall are your parents for you to be bordering on six foot?" he asked me. I laughed.

"My mom is about average height, about five foot five, but my dad is six foot three."

"Ah," he laughed. "So it's pretty obvious where it came from."

"Yeah," I agreed. "It's weird, my moms side of the family are all either short or average height, then I came along and freak them all out when we used to have family gatherings because I'm only a few inches shorter than my dad."

He laughed. "Well, if it's any help, I like the fact that you're tall. I don't have to bend down to talk to you," he said. That was a fair comment. He was pretty damn tall himself after all.

"Thanks," I smiled. "So, why do you think your sisters will like me? Not many people can get used to me you know.

He grinned. "Sarah will like you because you're sneaky. I told her about how you managed to prank everyone at the same time after we dumped you in the shower and she found it hilarious. Tori will like you because you're sarcastic and outspoken, and Emily will like you because you're and artist like her, and you're almost the same age anyway."

"That reminds me," I said. "You know I hid Connors car keys in the fridge, right?"


"Well, if you know where I hid them, why are they still sitting between the milk and the orange juice?"

Alex started laughing. "Connor always looses his keys, so now he just shoves them in the fridge on purpose because that way he always knows where they are."

I fell into a fit of giggles after that. it sounded like something insane I'd do.

"Do you do stuff like that as well?"

"Oh yeah," he said. "My wallet is in the fish bowl."

I started laughing again, and he grinned, watching me. We didn't have a fish bowl, so I knew he was joking. I liked the fact that he wasn't being really forward and flirty with me. We were talking like we were friends, with nothing sexual, and I liked the fact that he was easing off a bit. I could relax around him.

"Me ex had a fish," I told him. "He was crazy protective over the thing, it was really weird. I never understood why."

"He was protective over a fish?" Alex asked, and eyebrow raised, and I started laughing.

"Yeah, after we broke up, I put the fish in a bag and hid it in a cupboard to freak him out. He went made because he thought I'd taken it, but I just moved it to mess with him. God, he was such a bastard," I said. I chucked my now empty chow mein carton in the bin and nibbled on the fork I'd been eating with.

"What did he do?" Alex asked.

I shrugged. "The same thing pretty much every other guy has done to me. He cheated on me. He was the worst though. I didn't even see it coming. I stupidly thought I was in love with the guy so I was completely blind to his faults. I walked in on him screwing some girl I didn't know," I bit my lip, looking down at the table. "I ran out, then when I came back the next day I yelled at him, threw a few things and ended it. worst thing was the girl I found him with wasn't the only girl he'd been doing behind my back."

When I looked up, I saw Alex's jaw was clenched, and his knuckles were going white.

"Are you ok?" I asked with a frown. He visibly forced himself to relax, then turned and tossed his carton in the trash.

"Yeah, I just…I don't understand how anyone could do that to you, it's the last thing you deserve." His smoky eyes were focused on mine, and I found comfort in his gaze.

"Well, it certainly taught me a few things," I told him. "All my boyfriends have treated me like crap, so why should I trust men? I know it's judgemental, but I suppose I can't help it. I just find it hard to get close to a guy because I'm afraid that they'll hurt me," I said quietly, feeling very vulnerable at that admission. But I felt as though I needed to say it. After everything Alex had done to try and get close to me, I think he deserved an explanation for my wonky behaviour.

"I'm a guy," he said quietly. "When have I ever treated you badly?"

I looked down at the table, feeling a little ashamed of myself.

"I know, you never have." I looked up into his eye, and rubbed my arm self consciously. "Old habits are hard to break I guess."

We were silent for a while, and I traced my hand over the pattern on the table to distract myself.

"I had a girl cheat on me once," Alex said finally, breaking the silence. I looked up, startled.

"I thought she was great, but I was wrong. It hurt, and it shook my confidence a lot, but I got over it. You will too," he told me with a small, reassuring smile. "It's happened to me, so I know what it feels like. I'd never do that to someone else."

I stared at him, feeling a sudden warmth towards him for being so wonderful. His eyes connected with mine, and we stayed like that for a while, analysing the expression in each others eyes. The moment was charged, and after what seemed like forever, he started to lean forward.

I knew he was going to kiss me, and I couldn't bring myself to stop him. I wanted him too, because he was Alex, and he cared about me, and he had told me he would never hurt me.

He leaned closer, scooting near me, and I was startled when the table started to tilt. Our combined weight on one side was apparently too much for the table to take. I started to slide backwards and Alex made a grasp for me, to try and save me from falling off. That just made it worse. Inevitably, the table started to fall, and we both slid off. At the last minute Alex turned us around so that he took the brunt of the fall.

I landed on him and he moaned in pain, and I winced on his behalf. Leaning up on my elbows, I looked at him in concern.

"Are you ok?" I asked.

He laughed unexpectedly. "That didn't go how I wanted to."

I smiled a little, and he rolled us both over, so that he was on top and I was lying half underneath him. He looked down at me with those intense eyes, and without saying anything else, slowly lowered is mouth to mine.

Unlike our last kiss, this was slow, and careful. His lips moved over mine lazily, yet it was intense and so passionate at the same time. One of his hands buried itself in my hair, and the other gently grabbed my hand. When I clasped his hand in answer, he raised it above my head, pinning it to the ground gently, and began to stroke his fingers gently along mine. My other hand grasped his side desperately as he kissed me in that torturously slow manner, his tongue gently probing my lips before slipping past them and acting equally as gentle as it caressed the inside of my mouth.

His fingers continued to stroke mine as he held my hand above my head, and I succumbed completely to his mouth, to the gentle touch of his tongue on mine. I could feel his hair tickling my forehead lightly. His hand moved to the back of my neck as the kiss deepened, his thumb tracing patterns on the skin. I gripped his side, feeling the muscle beneath his shirt. God, this man could kiss a woman senseless.

His lips were so soft and warm, and he was being so slow and careful, and I couldn't fight the sensations. I didn't want to. I was so sick of fighting things.

The sound of a car door slamming and loud, drunken voices penetrated my hazy mind. Alex acted as though he hadn't heard it, or maybe he really hadn't, and my brow furrowed as I tried to think, tried to figure out what it was.

Then it hit me like a bucket of cold water would. Everyone was back from the club. I turned my head to the side to break the kiss, and scrambled out from underneath him quickly. I got up, and began pulling the table up. I felt the weight of it ease, which meant that Alex was helping me do it, but I couldn't bring myself to look up. I'd let him kiss me again! Did I not have any backbone!? Why did I keep doing this?

We'd just righted the table when the front door opened and everyone stumbled in. They wandered into the kitchen, some leaning on each other, all of them loud, and most of them drunk. Throughout the entire thing, I felt the heat of a pair of stormy grey eyes.

I just couldn't bring myself to return his gaze.