I must thank mkrasinski (Morgan) for ideas and help throughout all my chapters. And for also being a burden at 3 in the morning. "…And then she, like, pours burning hot water on him…and then she does him." Very helpful, thank you.

CHAPTER 7

"Ali…Ali wake up, it's Christmas. We officially don't have to wear oversized and undersized costumes." She rolled over in the bed, groaning. He looked down at her from where he stood in the doorway. "I made breakfast." Ali hid her smile with the warm comforters, a luxury after days of sleeping in a bathtub. "The toast isn't burnt."

Ali picked her head up from the blankets. "I suppose I could have a bite." She sat up yawning. After realizing which day it was she smiled widely. "Merry Christmas."

He smiled, leaning his head against the doorframe before walking forward to sit on the edge of his bed. "Merry Christmas." He took her chin gently, finally able to smile at his fate.

A groggy voice came from the hall "Dude, I got so wasted last night."

Max sighed collapsing back on the bed. "Yeah. I forgot to mention my roommate, Ray." Ali raised her eyebrows in surprise. "How do you think I afford this apartment?

"I'm gonna grab some of this food, K? Cool." Not bothering to wait for his answer, Ray took a huge bite out of a piece of toast. "So there was this girl, right? And she was totally in to me. She was sending me signs from across the room, right? So I walk over to her, and she totally turns away. So I'm thinking 'hard to get; nice.' But then she just leaves without telling me where she's going. So I follow her, right? And she totally called the cops on me. So, I don't know, I think I'm gonna call her." He looked away from his friend who looked obviously mortified, to the girl sitting wide-eyed in his bed. "Hey." He glanced between the two of them before smiling impishly. "I'm I interrupting something?"

Ali rolled her eyes. Max shook his head violently. "No, don't jump to that. Nothing happened."

"K…well I know you didn't sleep on the couch cause, ya know, I crashed there."

"Jesus, Ray, people can sleep together without, you know…sleeping together."

Ali got up from the bed tiredly. "Well, I think I'm gonna take a shower. I'll leave you two to…talk."

Max nodded. "OK. The bathroom's the door to the right."

After Ray assumed she was out of earshot he bobbed his body enthusiastically. "Max, my man, finally getting some."

"Thank you, Ray, for putting that so gracefully." Ray turned to the hall where he heard the voice, surprised. Ali rolled her eyes yet again. "Yes, I can still here you. And no, he's not 'getting any' but I'm sure he appreciates your concern."

Ray turned back to Max smiling. "Feisty."

X+X+X+X+X+X

"So, Ali…is that short for Allison? Cause if it is I uh," he threw his head to the side, "I know some pretty sweet songs about you."

"Hmm, like Alison? Yes I'm sure Elvis Costello had me in mind when he wrote it. And it's not short for anything," she lied. "It's just Ali."

"Gnarly. So how long have you and Max been…friends?"

"Um, December 1st. How long have you two been roommates?"

Ray furrowed his eyebrows taking in the "subtle" insult. "Dude, I don't go that way."

"Right."

"I don't. I was scoping out chicks just last night."

"Uh-huh, and who did you end up going home with?"

"Brett, but…" Ray tilted his head to the side, seriously considering what Ali was suggesting. Ali smiled proudly, crossing her arms to her chest. Ray backed up. "I've got to go." Ali nodded sweetly as she watched him walk away. She sat back on the couch, turning back to her TV program with a devious smile.

X+X+X+X+X+X

Max stood in the hallway re-hanging a poster Ray had knocked down when he came home the night before. It turns out he had tried to make it to his bed, but became confused when his room didn't magically appear in the wall.

Ray approached him, looking behind his shoulder at Ali on the couch. "Dude, Max, can I talk to you?" Max nodded confusedly as Ray pushed him into his room. "Dude, I think I'm gay."

Max raised his eyebrows. "Right."

"No, dude, I'm serious. Ali has shown me a whole new light, I'm gay Dude."

Max nodded, holding back his smile. "OK, well…I'm glad you, uh, found your true self."

The two stood silently for a moment. Ray pointed to his bed, "So, do you, uh—"

"No! Thank you, though. I'm gonna go find Ali." Ray nodded sitting back on the bed. Max walked out to the living room and sat down next to Ali, leaning close. "Ray's not gay," he practically whispered.

Ali giggled. "Duh."

"So why'd you tell him he was?"

"Because he was hitting on me with no end."

Max pointed towards Ray's bedroom. "Well you have to tell him he's not, he's taking this way too seriously."

Ali sighed, setting the remote down next to her and walking over to Ray's room. She opened the door to find him throwing away his large stash of Playboys. "Ray, you're not gay."

He looked up at her. "Of course I am."

"No, you're not." Ali reached in his garbage can and threw a magazine at him. "Keep your Playboys, you'll want them later."

"Girls don't do anything for me. I'm gay."

Ali rolled her eyes and lifted up her shirt. Ray's head tilted as he stared at her. She put her shirt down. "Are you gay?"

"N-no…"

Ali nodded and turned around running straight into Max. She looked up at him as he stared back, eyes wide. "Oh, please don't tell me you're as infatuated as him."

He laughed. "No, I just…I thought you were going to use words."

She slapped his arm as he started to crack up. "Words didn't seem to work on him." She turned back to Ray who was already fishing the magazines out of the garbage. "That did."

Max looked down before looking back up at Ali. "Ali, I think I'm gay."

X+X+X+X+X+X

"Mm, I love the taste of freshly brushed teeth."

Max kissed her. "Mm, me too." He smiled and lay back in his bed, closing his eyes. He felt the mattress shift around him and opened his eyes to see Ali directly above him. She began kissing him aggressively, pulling at his shirt.

"Ali…stop. Ali, you're…you're 17, stop." He tried to push her off gently, but found it impossible. "Stop," he said loudly, pushing her off.

She sat back where she was pushed to. "What?"

"You're 17, I could go to jail."

"For 15 more days, what difference does it make?"

"Oh, nothing except being able to prove you're not a virgin."

She raised her eyebrows. "You think I'm a virgin?"

"Well…yeah."

Ali laughed cruelly. "Right, I was saving myself for the perfect one. Find someone else for your creepy virginal fantasies."

His eyes widened. "Is that what you think? I didn't want to hurt you, I would never hurt you, Ali."

"Right, says the guy who tried to push me off his bed."

"I was trying to stop you from doing something you'd regret."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh you're such saint, aren't you? It's ok to date someone 8 years younger than you as long you stop them from doing something they'd 'regret.' Oh, and you can also watch her shirtless, that's fine too. That's perfect reasoning, how many girls have you tried that one on? 'You're the first,' right? 'It's not a scam, I really care about you.' You're such a fucking fake—"

Ali was knocked to the floor, a welt already formed from the back of Max's hand. He sat up instantly. "Ali, I am so sorry, I didn't—"

Ali shook her head. "No, um, it's my fault. I'm just gonna sleep out on the couch." She stood up shaking.

He began to get up to follow her. "No, Ali wait."

"Please—just leave me alone."

He nodded sitting back down. Leaning back on the bed he closed his eyes, hating himself once again.

X+X+X+X+X+X

Ali woke up early to the smell of crackling bacon. She opened one eye to see the once garbage-strewn floor amazingly clean. She forced the other eye open and sat up. Max was scurrying around the kitchen making what looked a feast for breakfast. Bacon, pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, and, of course, toast. Max turned to her, noticing she was awake.

"I, uh, I made breakfast. Again."

He looked like a 5-year-old who spilled his mother's wine. She wanted so badly to forgive him for the night before. She wanted to hug him and tell him it was OK like she did to Julian when he spilled juice on her homework. But she knew she couldn't. She had let this happen to her too many times. She had to make sure he knew she wasn't going to let this happen. "Max…"

"Ali wait before you say anything. I know what I did was horrible but I've never hit anyone who didn't deserve it until last night. I just wasn't thinking and you weren't letting me get a word through."

Of course, it's my fault, she thought. She didn't say it though. She wanted to keep this conversation as civil as possible. "I know Max. And I've never felt anything but safe around you. But last night…that was too much. I've let too many guys hurt me; I'm not going to let it happen again. And I know you're not usually like that, but I can't help but wonder what would happen to me if I crashed your car or something. And I don't want to find out."

"So you're going to stay with Jamie to avoid my abuse?"

Ali shook her head calmly. "I'm not staying with Jamie. I have enough money to rent an apartment for a while before I need to get a job." She picked up her bag, which was nicely packed next to the couch. "I'll see you." She began to walk out the door.

Max made no attempt to stop her physically, but didn't fail to try and talk her back. "Ali, please wait. I—I love you."

Ali stopped in her tracks and turned towards him. "Are you lying to me?"'

"No. I. Love. You. It's the most honest thing I've said in my life, and I'll do anything I can to prove it to you."

Ali held back tears. "And you're not just saying it because you think I'm fun to be around, or whatever?"

"No. Ali, I—" he reached into his back pocket, bur kept his hands there. "I knew something was special about you the first time I saw you. It was undeniably clear to me, I know why."

Ali smiled shyly, now unable to hold back her tears. "Are you using the lyrics of a Shins song to propose to me?"

"How do you know I'm proposing?" he smirked. Her smile widened as he pulled the black case out of his pocket.

And then she does him, JUST KIDDING. I'm repeating what Morgan's saying every 5 seconds. PLEASE REVIEW.