Chapter Ten: Old Habits Die Hard-

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A/N: ok picture of Alex on the side but his hair isn't all styled up like that, it's a swoop fringe here. I couldn't find a better picture.

    I escaped the icy morning air as I stumbled through the front door of my flat, blowing into my hands to warm them up as I climbed the stairs. I felt like I'd been walking for ages, even though I didn't live that far from Finn.

    When I entered the living room, both Tony and Tyler were still fast asleep but Alex was sat up on the sofa, trying to roll himself a cigarette but was failing miserably. I hovered in the doorway for a moment, trying to decide whether it was a good idea to offer my help or to just crash for the day.

    I went with the first and placed myself timidly on the cushion beside him. Alex barely noticed I was there, only giving me a quick side-glance before refocusing on his task. He was all shaking hands and awkward thumbs as he tried to roll the tobacco, crinkling the paper in the process.

    “You're not even eighteen, how'd you manage to get your hands on all this?” I asked, voice calm and quiet as if Alex was a baby deer that could be scared away at any moment.

    “West street,” he muttered. “Bad side of town, shop owners don't give a shit how old you are, as long as they get paid a little more than usual.”

    “You hang around there a lot?”

    Alex shook his head. “Do I look like I have a death wish?” His eyebrows raised as he looked at me, again only from the side. He couldn't seem to face me directly. His fingers were still fumbling with his roll up, the paper now far beyond usable.

    “You're gonna wanna start again,” I pointed out. “You fucked that up pretty bad.” I didn't mean it to come out so critical. Alex didn't let it go unnoticed that he took it pretty harshly.

    “It's my first god damn time, okay?” He spat. I looked off to the side, pressing my lips together to hold back a quiet remark.

    It was silent for a few minutes and then I said, “Do you want me to help you?”

    Alex sighed and closed his eyes in obvious irritation. “No, I don't want you to help me. I don't need your help. Just leave me alone.”

    “I'm trying to be nice here–”

    “What, you developed a conscious since Ash left? Is that it?” He gave me a damn good stare-down that even made me shift a few inches away from him on the sofa. The kid grew some balls over night, that was for sure.

    I held my hands up in surrender. “Alright, whatever. Have fun not smoking your cigarettes. I'm sure that'll be a blast.”

    Alex sighed again and flicked his fringe out of his eyes in a way an arrogant teenager usually does. Then, almost as if it pained him to do so, he handed everything over and I got to work on rolling him a few, smiling smugly to myself.

    “When did you start smoking, anyway?” I asked in idle conversation, handing him a finished cigarette which he took with so much resentment that it almost made me laugh.

    “Been smoking for ages,” he murmured.

    “Oh yeah? I bet you're dying for one right now, then. Do you need to borrow my lighter?” I watched him carefully in subtle side-glances and tried to keep a knowing smile from reaching my lips.

    A blush had crawled into his cheeks. “No, I'll wait.”

    “You sure?” I'd reached into my pocket and was now holding my yellow lighter out for his taking. He looked at it a little nervously when I started inching it closer to him and then finally he snapped and looked me right in the eyes, scowling with so much frustration.

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