Sorry this took so long to post - school got rather in the way. Here it is - the final chapter! Thanks for all the wonderful reviews!
They ended up on the kitchen floor, sprawled on top of their clothes. It worked out quite nicely, because they only had to roll over to get some beers from the fridge, and grab the now-cool pizza which Alec had ordered for lunch and forgotten to eat in his haste to transform his apartment into a fairy tale masterpiece. The candles melted down and spluttered out around them, leaving pools of wax all over the furniture and floor.
When Max finally worked up the will to get up to go to the bathroom, she got distracted on the way back by catching sight of Alec's bedroom, where roses had been painstaking spread over the duvet. She had to hold herself up on the door frame as she tried to stop laughing long enough to breathe.
"Oh shut up," Alec said grouchily, coming up behind her and taking a long swing from his beer. "I was trying to create the atmosphere."
"Where did you get all those anyway?"
"I know a guy who knows a guy." He shrugged it off, setting his empty bottle down and reaching out to her.
They used the bed in the end, holding each other again, not because they had to but simply because they could. Enjoying it without the urgency behind it, pausing every so often and laughing as the rose petals found their way into places which rose petals didn't belong in. It wasn't making love, but it wasn't just fucking either. It was comfortable and real and involved pausing to remove things from hair and sniggering at a particularly unfortunate noise and discovering a bit of tomato sauce that had fallen off the pizza onto someone's bare chest and not been wiped off.
With Logan things had been sensual and deep and romantic, perfect and ultimately untouchable. This was all the things that filled the gaps between the fairy tales – Max didn't have to be the princess to a prince, wined and dined with the layers pulled back to reveal the tender centre – something which had become so exhausting in the end. It was still there, but it was wrapped up in all the imperfections that made her Max, that had made her Max long before Logan came along, and that had been enough for Original Cindy, and Sketchy, and now, it seemed, for Alec.
She still loved Logan, and maybe he had mellowed her out a bit, done her some good by letting her nice side out to play. But she didn't want it out all the time. Nor did she want to have to pretend not to care all the time. This seemed like the perfect balance.
"Don't you be hustlin' me," Max said to Alec, as he leaned over the pool table. "I can tell when you're hustlin'."
"Oh Maxie, I don't need to hustle you at pool," he replied sweetly. "I'm just better."
Original Cindy bumped her way through the crowd with a pitcher of beer.
"You ain't upped the stakes again?" she demanded, looking at the pile of notes on the edge of the table. "We gonna be here all night."
Alec broke neatly, potting three on the first shot.
"Cindy, light of my life," he purred, sliding over to her and holding out his glass hopefully. "This is the last game, I swear on my life."
"It better be," Sketchy called. "'Cause I've got dibs!"
"Just don't tell me what the bet is this time," Cindy said with distaste, filling Alec's glass. "Original Cindy ain't needin' the images that come when you two play for sexual favours."
Sketchy grinned broadly, eyeing Max up cheekily.
"I kinda like to know," he said.
"That," Cindy told him. "Is because you are a pig."
"Hey, a guy's gotta make do," he said with a dramatic sigh. "After all, when he's got no-one of his own to play sexual favours pool with, he has to work to get himself through those long, lonely nights."
Cindy's lip curled in disgust.
"I don't know why I talk to you," she said.
"I'll play sexual favours pool with you," Alec volunteered with a cheeky wink.
Sketchy choked on his beer.
"Ask me again when I've transformed into Normal," he said dryly.
Alec waggled his eyebrows at Sketchy and carried on with the game after Max smacked him upside the head.
"So, Max…" Sketchy grinned toothily at his friend as she came to refill her own glass. "I hear you're a real tiger in the sack."
"Yeah," Max scoffed. "I bite the sensitive bits." She snapped her teeth at him and he winced.
"Play nice, Maxie," Alec called. "Not everyone can put up with the kind of domestic abuse you deal out."
"Oh please, you've never been abused," she drawled. "The closest you've come is abusing my ears with your bitching."
"Bitching, hah! So quoth Bitchiana, Queen of all the Bitches!"
"Guess that makes you my bitch, huh?"
"Guess you must just have good taste. What was it? My cute ass? My killer abs?"
The bickering continued, much as it ever had. Things were comfortable, which they'd never really been when Logan had been hanging out with them. Max could be herself. Not Cinderella, but just Max, in this imperfect fairy tale. And while, maybe it wasn't quite love, maybe not just yet, at least she was sure that it wasn't just genetics either.