It seemed as though whenever Alex knocked on Rayleigh's door, anyone who wasn't Rayleigh would answer it.

This time, it was tall black guy, who he recognized to be Xavier Colt, taking a bite out of the half eaten burrito in his hand. Alex held out his hand in greeting, and Xavier gave him the orthodox hand-slide-fist-bump and nod before stepping aside to let him in.

"Hey, man," Xavier said once his mouth was void of food.


"Ray's in the basement, right over there." He pointed his burrito in the direction toward an open door that Alex guessed led to the basement. Unfortunately, whomever packed the burrito didn't exactly pack it tightly enough, so some rice, beans, and peppers dropped onto the floor. "Aw, shit!"

"Thanks, man," Alex said, but his words seemed to fall on deaf ears as Xavier scrambled to save his food, that was now starting to just completely fall apart. Xavier seemed to have his situation under control, so Alex made his way down to the basement.

His initial thought walking into Rayleigh's basement was that it was insanely cool, and that she really, really liked Halloween.

After going down the stairs and walking down a short hallway with homemade arrows reading "You are now entering the Doldrums," "Next stop: the Twilight Zone," and his personal favorite, "This way for the candy, children," he walked into the basement's actual room.

The room was dimly lit, the only source of light being the small black lanterns with ghosts running along the edges of the ceiling and the multi-colored fluorescent stars scattered on every space not encompassed by posters, pictures, or art. There were spiderwebs covering one of the corners of the wall where a large brown couch was situated, and there were even little black plastic spiders tied into it. At least, he hoped they were plastic…


"It's sick, isn't it?" came a wistful voice from behind him. He jumped about five feet in the air and even let out a girlish shriek to accompany it.

"Holy shit, Rayleigh, you scared me!" he shouted as she clutched the wall in efforts to hold herself up from her howling laughter.

"It's not my fault you're entranced by the beauty of my room, honest," she assured him with a grin. "I could leave you two alone, if you want. Give you some privacy."

"Oh, har har."

She chuckled again, and grabbed his hand. "C'mon, I'll give you the mediocre tour."

For the next five to ten minutes, she led him around her room, pointing at and describing each piece of decorations that hung on her wall, and would even stop to let him ask questions. Oddly enough, he found everything fascinating. Not only were the stories behind some of the items hanging around really weird (like buying the charcoal drawing of a man sitting in the middle of nowhere under lone tree with a book from some homeless man in DC), but he got to know a lot more about Rayleigh just by her explaining why she chose to buy such things.

They discovered that they both had a love for Alfred Hitchcock after seeing the gigantic poster of him, though they did dispute which of his works were the best (Alex claimed Vertigo, while Rayleigh wouldn't budge from Mr. & Mrs. Smith). They did, however, agree that Scarlett Johansson was a total babe once they reached her poster's part of the tour. He also found out that she loved art and buying paintings from thrift stores, as well as Greece and how she planned on going there one day. She even had a world map on of the walls and had stuck a red tack in every place she's been, and a blue tack on everywhere she'd like to go, but had a circle around Athens instead of either color.

"And this, ladies and gentlemen concludes our tour," Rayleigh said in a stereotypical tourist guide voice. "We hope that you've enjoyed and will come back soon! That's my way of saying that you should come to my room more often, if you didn't get the hint."

Alex cocked an eyebrow at her. She was so bold. "Does the offer about me and your room having some alone time still stand?" he asked, rather than just say that he liked her suggestion a lot,because that would have just been too easy.

"I almost fell for that, Alex. Almost." She narrowed her eyes at him slightly and pointed an accusing finger at him before flopping onto her couch. Once Alex took a seat next to her, she said, "I just thought I should warn you that my friends are a bit… loud. And obnoxious."

As though she had planned it, someone— or some people— thudded down the stairs laughing. Xavier, a blonde guy, and a petite girl emerged seconds later, making themselves comfortable around the room.

"Are Sting and Joey coming?" the girl asked Rayleigh.

"Probably," she guessed. "You know how much they like Tim Burton."

"Shit!" the guy Alex didn't know exclaimed. "I was supposed to go pick them up!"

Rayleigh quirked an eyebrow at him. "Cam," she drawled, "if you picked up Morgan, how the hell did you forget to get the other two?"

"I, genius as I am, expected the dumbass to forget, so I texted him every ten minutes until he came."

The guy stuck his middle finger up. "I am not a dumbass."

"Yes you are," Rayleigh, Xavier, and the girl (Morgan?) chorused.

"Fuck you guys, I'm leaving. And if you start Nightmare Before Christmas without me, I will cut a bitch."

"Ooh," Rayleigh mocked, shaking her hands in front of her at the same time Morgan called:"Have fun being Joey and Sting's man-bitch!" Responses, which earned both of them another flip of the bird.

The second they heard the basement door close, Morgan jumped up from her spot on the floor, searching for something.

"What are you doing?" Xavier asked.

"Looking for Nightmare Before Christmas, of course," she replied lightly.


"Hey Xay," Rayleigh said to Xavier, "Do you wanna go get me my burrito since you're closest?"

He scratched his head. "The one from Chipotle?" When she nodded, he continued, "I think I saw Iris eating it earlier…"

Alex literally had to bite his lip to keep from laughing.

"God, she's such a fucking twat!" Rayleigh fumed. "She always eats my food."

"On the bright side, I'm still happy." Xavier left the room to go upstairs anyway, just as Morgan hooted in triumph. She pulled out the Nightmare Before Christmas disk out from the little cabinet under the television and popped it into the DVD player.

"I swear to god, Morgan, if you get me killed—"

"Then your death would have been for a great cause: my entertainment."

"You're a twat, too."

Morgan gave her an exaggerated frown as she walked over to sit onto the couch next to Alex. They got to the selection screen and decided to wait for Xavier, since Rayleigh texted him to make popcorn. Apparently it was blasphemous to start Oct-Horror Movie Marathon without any popcorn.

"But isn't The Nightmare Before Christmas not a horror movie?" Alex asked as they waited.

Rayleigh leaned over him and whispered, "I got him, he's new," to Morgan. To Alex, she explained, "Oct-Horror Movie Marathon doesn't explicitly mean all movies have to be horror. Each week has a theme, and we follow the theme. Last weekend we watched all of the Halloween movies, and today, we're going to just watch Tim Burton, scary or not."

He nodded in understanding. "So is this like a tradition with you guys?"

"Yup," Morgan chimed in. "It's been five years and counting. And we always to it at Rayleigh's place because she's got the cool-as-shit basement."

"But Rayleigh never invites you over, does she?" Xavier said, strolling back into the room with popcorn and two sodas. He handed the popcorn bowl to Rayleigh and tossed Alex a Sprite.

"Why didn't you get me a Sprite?" Morgan demanded.

Tipping his soda toward her, he said, "You didn't earn it."

"You're a dick."

"On the bright side, I'm still happy."

Rayleigh nudged Alex slightly and gave him a teasing smile. "Oh hey, look at you! You've been here for half an hour, said a grand total of five words and you've already earned something from Xavier over there."

Xavier dropped onto the couch next to Rayleigh. "Hey, he's cool as fuck." Alex realized that Xavier knew he ate Rayleigh's burrito, and that he chose not to say anything, even though he was trying to get together with her.

"He means you're hot," Rayleigh translated.

"You're beautiful, man," Xavier agreed, taking a swig of his soda.

"I'm starting the movie now; whoever talks gets their hair ripped out," Morgan said, pressing play.

"I don't really have hair." Xavier ran a hand over his head, touching his semi-short buzz cut.

"Well then, Xavier, I guess your balls will just have to do."

Xavier didn't reply, but when Morgan leaned forward to put the remote back on the coffee table, he made faces at her back. Rayleigh and Alex both chuckled, but Morgan didn't seem to notice.

Which, Alex thought, was probably a good thing, because it didn't sound like Morgan was joking about ripping his balls out. Ouch.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Actually, that was an insult to all of the stupid people. Rayleigh was just… ugh. That's right, she was the sound that would emanate from people when they were extremely frustrated or disgusted.

And her lips were still tingling from macking her ex.


A tiny part of her— the stupid hormonal part, of course— wanted to go back and continue what they had started. Everything else, however, begged her to move away from right next to Alex's door, because that tiny part would definitely ignore all reason at some point and just go.

She stood up from her position leaning against the wall next to Alex's office, brushed herself off, and sauntered away. Though, she was pretty sure she looked more ugh than leisurely.

Once she arrived back at her desk, she rifled around the drawers until she could find a small notebook and a pen. Just because things were awkward (and then some) with Alex, didn't mean that Rayleigh wasn't allowed to take his advice.

And it was that damn suggestion of his that got them into this mess in the first place. How dare he say helpful things!

It was good that she hadn't been working at the magazine long enough for there to be too much stuff to search for, because she found both of the things she was looking for fairly quickly. Then, she was off.

In the business district, the people in DC weren't exactly fashionable. They looked nice, sure, but there was nothing really new to comment on. Georgetown, on the other hand, would. It was one of the most fashion-forward places she'd been to, and she loved the styles of people around there. Luckily for her, Georgetown was just a hop, skip and a jump away.

As she strolled back to her desk, drumming her pen on her notebook to a song she heard playing from some teenager's iPod— good song, but he would be losing his hearing quite soon, no doubt— she couldn't help but feel quite satisfied with what she accomplished. She could probably even go as far as to say that she was happy about it.

The best part was that she killed enough time and that it would be time for her to go home in less than one hour.

She sat down in her spinny chair and spun around a couple of times as she usually did, letting out a small giggle when she did. Once she looked down at her desk, however, the smile on her lips melted into a look of terror.

There, on her desk was a little striped sticky note with a message messily scrawled into it. From Alex. And right when she got him out of her head, too.

We should talk, it said.

It wasn't signed by him, but she was sure that he was the one that put it there. She knew his handwriting well, and why would anyone else want to talk to her?

Quickly, she crumpled up the note and stuffed it into her dress pocket. There, problem solved.

But he knew where her cubicle thing was, so even with the crumpled note he could come and talk to her whenever he saw fit. She could cross that road when she came to it, but for now, ignoring the note was her main goal.

She packed her things, which was basically just her bag sitting under her desk, and started to make her way downstairs. So she was leaving twenty minutes early, they'd get over it.

The elevator, of course, was at the basement level, so she had to wait until it pulled its ass up to the 10th floor where she was currently located.

It slowly climbed up the floors, and a few people came and waited for the elevator as it was coming up, as well.

As the elevator tried to hit the fifth floor, Rayleigh heard someone else walking toward it and turned her head.

Of course Alex-fucking-Laymen was the one walking by. Well, time to flight, because there was no way in hell she was going to stay and fight.

It may have been the tenth floor, but to avoid Alex, she would walk down those stairs and she would enjoy it, goddammit.

She tried to inconspicuously back away from the elevator and head toward the stairs, but she was basically in the middle of the small cluster of people and had to utter "excuse me" to them for her to get out.

"Rayleigh," Alex called.

Well, shit.

She looked over her shoulder, but didn't stop walking toward the stairs. "Oh, hey!"

He blinked before he jogged to catch up with her, visibly unimpressed with her attempt to be casual. She wish he didn't know her so well. "Did you get my note?"

"No, I don't think I did," she fibbed, cocking her head to the side as if she was actually confused.

"I need to talk to you."

Ah, precious stairs. Rayleigh pulled the door open. "Maybe later, I've really gotta go; it's my turn to cook dinner tonight."

Lame excuse, but whatever. An indecipherable expression passed through his face, before he said, "I'm sure whoever it is you're cooking for won't be upset if you're three minutes late."

"I live with Xavier and Morgan I don't know if you remember them, but when it comes to food, if you're not five minutes early, you're eligible for execution."

"…They didn't tell me you moved in."

Her eyebrows raised so high, she wouldn't have been surprised if they touched her hairline. "I'm sorry, you still talk to Xavier and Morgan?"

"On occasion. Morgan invited me over this weekend."

"No," she said, shaking her head, "this Saturday is—"

"Oct-Horror Movie Weekend, I know. She told me to come over."

Shit and a half.

"Oh, well, that's, uh, that's—that's great," she spluttered. Alex opened his mouth, then closed it when she cut him off. "Well I guess I'll see you Saturday, but I've really gotta go, so I'll just see you then, bye!"

As she ran down the stairs, Rayleigh came to the conclusion that she could never be a bank robber, because she couldn't make a quick, clean getaway if her life depended on it.

A/N: Hi there! As you probably can tell, FictionPress has not disabled the ability for people to use copy/paste, which makes it that much easier for people to plagiarize. Many writers have had their writings stolen, and as a result they sometimes take their stories down. To try and prevent this from happening again, there's a petition in which all you need to do is write you penname. The link is on my profile, and I hope you'll take a few seconds to sign it.

On another note, thanks for reading/reviewing/alerting and such, see you chapter 7 :)